Monthly Archives: July 2011

What Not to Do as a Writer

I didn’t have time to draft my own post so I refer you to one of my new favorite blogs.  Lisa Kilian is one funny lady and I’ve learned a lot since I started following her.  Read what she had to say about forcing your niche.



What Not to Do as a Writer.

Story Soundtrack – I

What’s Playing on the iPod right now: “I Want to Dance with Somebody” – Whitney Houston
What I am reading now: “The Good House” – Tananarive Due

Here is something new I going to try.  Wednesdays will now be known as Story Soundtrack.  I’ll take a song that I’m feeling and image a short story that would have the song as its soundtrack.  Sounds fun?  I think so.

First up, Estelle’s “Break My Heart.”

(I could do without Rick Ross on the track but he doesn’t totally kill the vibe for me like say, Lil’ Wayne would have.)

Okay, the story would go like this.  Middle age women, after a string of bad relationships, swears off men.  She will concentrate on her career (something demanding) and taking care of everyone in her family except herself.  She feels that everything is right in her world until (cue lights!) He walks in.  He has everything you could want in a man.  He is tall, good-looking, making major bank, and confident for days.  He also has a mysterious past.  He pursues, she resists.  He is persistent and after some initial miscommunication they began a relationship.  He finally reveals his mysterious problem but woman reverts to past behavior and pushes him away.  After some time apart, (woman goes away to a beach or something to reflect) she rushes back to be by his side.  She confesses that she wants to make it work but asks him to promise that he won’t break her heart.

That’s GOLD, right?!



Learning to Let Go

What’s Playing on the iPod right now: “Fresh” – Kool & the Gang
What I am reading now: “The Writer magazine” – August 2011

My daughters are not pictured.

 I am the mother of two teenage girls.  Yes, say a prayer for me now.  My girls have gotten to the place where I can see the child they used to be merging into the women they will become.  But until they get there, I still need to guide and protect them.  Sometimes the protecting thing drives me crazy!

This past weekend, I dropped my 15-year-old and her friend at Sandhills (a multi purpose outdoor shopping center).  They were going to the 7:20 p.m. movie and hang out with friends.  My daughter was instructed to call me when the movie was over.  At about 9:30 I still hadn’t heard from her.  Figuring the movie should be over I called her cell phone.  No answer.  I texted.  No response.  I wait a few minutes and dialed her again.  Still no answer.  This is where I freak out.

I don’t know if its my own oppressive childhood or my over active imagination that takes me to a crazy place.  A place where an unaswered cell phone means your child has been abducted or hurt or any number of foul 11 o’clock news worthy events.  It makes me want to keep my girls close and not let them out of my sight.

I know, I know.  They are getting older and I have to allow them to grow.  As my daughter reminded me when I picked her up, “I’m not doing anything wrong.”  And she wasn’t.  The movie ran longer than I thought and her phone was on silent in the theater.

Still, when I look at her and see the young woman taking shape in her features I can’t help but also see the toothless grin of my baby.  And it’s hard to let your baby go.




Write What You Know

What’s Playing on the iPod right now: “Words I Never Said” – Lupe Fiasco
What I am reading now: “Look Again” – Lisa Scottoline

Since I’ve started this writing journey, the one piece of advice I get the most it “write what you know”.  What does that mean actually?  Is it referring to occupations?  If the writer is an attorney like John Grisham or Pamela Samuels-Young then  your character is also an attorney.  Or could it be as simple as a situation that your character faces?

In my novel, “Moment of Truth”, Adrienne has a three-year old son with sickle-cell anemia.  His disease requires doctor’s visits and one scary emergency room stay.  Now everyone has been to  the doctor’s office and the hospital and I thought I did a decent job of describing the scene and emotions.  That is until real life intervened.

One night my nephew was rushed to the emergency room.  He spent two weeks in ICU and even more time in a regular room.  During my frequent visits to the hospital, I found myself taking mental snapshots of sights and sounds.    I catalogued smells and noted the presence of machine and watched hospital personnel.  This was the type of thing I needed to enhance my own story.   My own personal experience could be used by my character.  But I must admit I felt guilty about it.  While I was focused on my nephew’s recovery and being a source of comfort to my sister, I was thinking about my book.

My former editor allowed me to unburden myself.  When I told her my dilemma she said, “You are a writer!  All of your experiences are fodder for your craft.  You should use all of your feelings and experiences to fuel  your manuscripts.”  Her words resonated with my artist self and confirmed something I knew all along.  In order to create these well-rounded characters and make believable worlds, the artist has to  use everything within them.

Write what you know is an adage to explore the world and embrace it to breathe life into a story.



Embracing the Day Job

What’s Playing on the iPod right now: “It Kills Me” – Melanie Fiona
What I am reading now: “Obsessed” – Devon Scott

Ever since I started writing seriously I have complained about my day job getting in the way.  I longed for more the day I would be able to devote full-time hours to living in my head.  And then I started communicating with actual writers and learned a hard truth.  I shouldn’t be so eager to quit the day job.

It’s no secret that getting published is not an easy feat but getting a big advance is like hitting the lottery.  Most mid level authors don’t earn enough on their advances to support themselves let along afford health insurance.   My research shows that I shouldn’t be so quick to throw away my job.

So, I decided to change the way I look at my 9 to 5.  Here are the benefits to being a full-time employee:

  • Regular paycheck – This really comes in handy for those times you need to make a mortgage payment or say, need to buy groceries.
  • Health insurance – Everyone is going to need a check up at some point.
  • Professional development – You can actually become an expert on something besides writing.
  • Focus – Having to write at night and weekends keeps you on task to bang out that chapter before work.
  • Social Skills – Instead of being lost in your own universe with people who live in your head, you can actually have a conversation with a real live person.
  • And most importantly, Material – Working with people of various backgrounds, races, and perspectives gives you bountiful supply of situations to choose from.  People love to share their stories.  In the words of Seinfeld, “It’s Gold!”

Now I take comfort in the security of the day job.  Although it may not be my life’s calling, the job does allow me the opportunity to pursue my dream.



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