Tag Archives: fiction

Character Morality

KohlbergWriters love creating characters. Personality. Physical Appearance. Dress. Mannerisms. Dialog: It’s what we do!  It’s how authors bring characters to life.

But did you stop to think about your characters’ morality, or more specifically, what level of morality they have achieved? Creating a character with moral issues, flaws, or strengths can add depth and understanding, often justifying and explaining why the character did what they did.

Let’s look at Kohlberg’s Levels of Moral development:

Pre-Conventional Morality

Stage 1: Obedience & Punishment Orientation:  Age: 9 & under. Standard of behavior is determined by adults and the physical consequences of following and breaking the rules. Child avoids punishment by good behavior. Child believes that if a person is punished they must have done something bad.

Stage 2. Individualism and Exchange. Child realizes authorities ( parent, teachers etc) may have more than just one right view and that different individuals will have different viewpoints.

Conventional Morality

Stage 3: Good Interpersonal RelationshipsAge: Most adolescents & adults. Moral standards are internalized by those authority figures the individual deems right/moral. These authority figures are not questioned. Any and all reasoning conforms to the group’s perspective. The individual is good because they want others in the group to view them as good. They need the approval of their group.

Stage 4. Maintaining the Social Order. The rules of society are important to the individual. Rules are obeyed to maintain law/rules and to avoid guilt.

Post-Conventional Morality: 
Individual judgment is based on self-chosen principles, and moral reasoning is based on individual rights and justice. This occurs in only 10–15% of adults and not before the mid-30s.


Stage 5. Social Contract and Individual Rights. ONLY 10-15% OF ADULTS REACH THIS STAGE and rarely before their mid-30s. The individual idealizes that while laws/rules serve the good of the majority, the laws/rules can also work against specialized groups/minorities. Thus, Right and Wrong are not clear cut.

Stage 6: Universal Principles: Individual understands that justice, equality, and human right issues are not law/rule governed. These individuals will break rules/laws to defend the greater moral principles even if if it means imprisonment or society’s disapproval. Very few reach this stage.

6 ethical typesNow let’s look at 6 ethical types. This is courtesy of The UK Times.

Philosophers are good at solving tough ethical dilemmas. They will break the rule/laws if a higher principle is at stake.

Angels  believe being good to others is important. They give people the benefit of the doubt and give second chances rather than stand on principle. 

Enforcers enforce the rules. They often lack empathy

Judgers believe moral principles are important. They’re good at solving tricky moral principles, yet tend to lack empathy.

Teachers do the right thing for humanity because it’s the right thing to do. They may break the rules if they think they know what’s best.

Guardians believe in doing what they are told to do because it’s the best course of action for everyone. Greater moral ideals are rarely considered.

Does your story require delving deeper into your character’s morality?
  • What is your character’s ethical type?
  • Where do they fall on Kohlberg’s moral development scale?
  • Are your characters acting inconsistently with their type or moral level?
  • What self-revelation causes them to change?
  • Is the change good or bad?
  • Do you need to flesh out a character’s morality?
  • Will you be able to convince a reader of their epiphany?

Related links: Readin’ & Writin’

A Writer’s Taxonomy

Blooms taxonomyAny teacher knows Bloom’s Taxonomy.  For those not in the teacher loop it’s how educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom classified the levels of thinking. Teachers use the classifications to foster and inspire students’ higher-level thinking skills.

Writers can use the same taxonomy to help improve their writing skills.

Knowledge, at the base, is the most fundamental. ( Imagine trying to solve a calculus problem without knowing how to add, subtract, divide, or multiply.)
Knowledge is knowing the writing basics.  Recalling:
  • grammar
  • story structure
  • punctuation
  • authorial techniques like metaphor, symbol, allusion, characterization, structure, imagery, form, motif, dialog, point of view, theme, and tone
Understanding: More than just recall is required. Comprehending the nuances and effects of the basics guides the writer to creating a better, tighter manuscript.
Writers need to understand how:
  • syntax manipulates a reader.
  • syntax impacts the author’s tone and mood.
  • syntax speeds up, slows down, and emphasizes.
  • story structure is more than just exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.
  • punctuation impacts mood and slows down, speeds, up, and emphasizes.
  • authorial techniques and literary devices add depth, flavor, and nuance.
  • the hero’s/protagonist’s weakness; his desire; antagonist’s/enemy’s desire; the quest/plan; battle/crisis; self-revelation; and resolution/new normal are used for maximum impact.

Application: Utilizing what you understand to weave, manipulate, and design plot and characters. This is where each writer’s process is different. It doesn’t matter if you don’t write chapter 2 until chapter 1 is perfect or if you rewrite a hundred times. It’s implementing what you know that is important.

Analysis: Read and study trends and genres in the industry. What do agents/publishers want and expect of your genre? What do readers of your genre crave? Scrutinize industry standards to determine if your novel meets the mark.

Synthesis: Craft your manuscript so it meets those standards. Modify with revisions. Imagine new combinations. Predict the problems an agent/editor/reader might find. Deduce why novel X made it big.

Evaluation: The toughest level by far and the one some writers are ill-equipped for because their knowledge and understanding base is lacking. This is where pride and ego keep the aspiring writer down. This is where a thorough assessing and judging of craft and the publishing world determine your expectations, aspirations, fears, and insecurities. Writers should:

  • judge their manuscript against the current biggies.
  • evaluate how, where, and why the manuscript might need work.
  • solve manuscript weaknesses. Do you need a content editor? Do you need a grammar punctuation editor? Do you know how to assess whether the folks claiming to have those skills actually have credibility?
  • evaluate well-meaning fellow writers’ comments when they claim your writing is amazing. Would you take from-scratch baking advice from someone who only makes cakes from a box?

Where do YOU fall on the Writer’s Taxonomy?

Writers Taxonomy

Related Links: Readin’ & Writin’, Symbols & more Symbols, Rock Your Writing


The Real Book Drive!

Writers should understand their readers’ preferences. This is often a difficult task. Some readers are faithful to one genre only. Others read everything from hardcore literary SciFi to romance. Readers can’t be pigeon holed. Or can they?

Novels and cars have a few things in common. Both take you places! Both require filling up. Both steer you to new horizons; however, arriving at the final destination does vary by speed.

What if reader preferences could be identified like cars? 
What drives your reading?


The Classic Reader: Lovers of timeless literature read Frankenstein and Catcher In the Rye with equal pleasure. They relish the enduring themes and stellar writing of stories where the movie never ever does justice to the plot and/or literary techniques used by the author.


The Muscle Reader: Devotees of tales with gumption, verve, and evocative characters. This reader needs emotional muscle to absorb the squeeze-your-heart prose page after pass-the-tissue page. This type of novel is often found on Oprah’s Book Club must-read list.


The Luxury Reader: Adorers of LONG, thick novels with juicy chew-worthy plots and a plethora of heart wrenching bigger-than-life characters. Game of Thrones or Outlander, anyone? This reader refuses to read a novel under 300-pages, equating word count with BIG universal themes, epic adventures, and lots of detailed descriptions.


The Economy Reader: Fans of the quick easy read. Not only do they enjoy the I-read-this-in-one-night boast, the light-hearted diversion it provides is no-frills fun.


The Exotic Reader: Aficionados of tales told with an unconventional voice requiring expert handling and deliberate reading with attention to nuance. These folks might even repeat aloud an extraordinary turn of phrase just to revel in its brilliance. Don’t expect comfort, this novel ride grips the thematic road and swerves around symbolic corners with panache.

What drives your reading?  What drives your writing?

Although I’m often found behind the wheel of a Muscle or Luxury book, a spin in an Economy read gets the ticket when a quick entertaining diversion is required.

And for my car-lovers, if you don’t already know, the cars in order of appearance are: the ’56 BelAir; ’66 Shelby Mustang; Bentley Continental GT; 2014 Honda Civic; and the 2012 Ferrari 458 Italia.

Related Posts: Readin’ & Writin’

Writing Therapy

Writing is fraught with angst and panic and euphoria and creative outbursts and emotional meltdowns. Writers experience the highs and the lows–which is a good thing because it helps us recreate the feelings in our characters. However….

those mood swings might indicate the need for a specialized writing therapist—you know, one who understands the joys and horrors of our passion.

One of the most common writing struggles is not only learning to cope with rejection but bouncing back with even more dedication and motivation.

Below is a list of common writing issues and psychoses.

  • Synonymania: Listing 10 different synonyms for a word & deliberating over which is best for that sentence. The problem only becomes critical if the writer corrects himself while conversing with ( real ) people.
  • Ubervocabulary: A tendency to use words like  vanquish in everyday conversations.
  • Realityapnea: Zoning out in a middle of a conversation when a a brilliant idea for a scene/novel/character/sentence/climax/beginning/ending/denouement/ pops into your brain.
  • Rewriteaplasty: Writing a sentence 20 different ways and not being happy with any of them!
  • Literary Craving: Craving whatever food/beverage is in your novel.
  • OCP: Obsessive-compulsive plot discussions with significant other.
  • Excessive nostril flaring when someone refers to your writing as a “hobby.”
  • Adverbaphobia: Fear of adverbs. We’ve all heard the warning. Adverbs are clearly, certainly, positively the kiss of death!
  • Conferencosis: Confusion brought on by numerous conflicting statements made by those in the publishing industry. See What Kind of Conference Attendee are you for more information.
  • Grammaropia: Inability to see your grammar errors.
  • Excessive Verbation : Process of adding-using-including-writing-editing  verbs.
  • Prepositionectomy: Obsessive removal of prepositional phrases and/or replacing with the perfect preposition.
  • Number Anxiety: Concern that your follower/friends on social media are not exponentially increasing.
  • Spamsitude: The inability to refrain from spamming friends/followers on social media.

Who would you choose as YOUR writing therapist?

“Snap out of it.” Cher’s character from Moonstruck.










Drill sergeant from Geico commercial

Billy Crystal’s character in Analyze This








“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Rhett Butler in Gone With The Wind






Of course, if therapy doesn’t work the writer can always find relief for their woes by getting  a prescription for writers. 

What’s YOUR writing psychosis?

Related Links: Readin’ & Writin’

Hot and Cold

hot coldTemperature symbolism is hot-hot-hot. Turn it up for burning anger or passion that sizzles. Turn it down to reveal character and mood. But be careful, the heated adjectives can be ambiguous in the cold reality of writing.

Temperature can:
  • reveal a novel’s overall mood
  • be a plot device
  • reveal a character’s personality
  • reveal a character’s mood
  • be thematic
  • The Great Gatsby is loaded with heat! Tom is a hot-head. Gatsby is hot for Daisy. Tom is hot ( lusting ) for Myrtle and hot ( with anger) when he discovers Daisy’s infidelity. Myrtle is hot to be wealthy. Gatsby made all his money on hot goods. Myrtle’s husband is hot to murder his wife’s killer. The rising temperature mirrors the rising anger/lust of the characters.
Hot—and all it’s scorching synonyms—can refer to:
  • lust: He got hot just lookin’ at her.
  • personality: He’s a hot head. ( aka rage-aholic)
  • anger: Tom grew hot when he learned Daisy cheated on him with Gatsby.
  • popularity: Every author dreams of being the next hot new author.
  • enthusiasm: He was hot for the next new novel by his favorite author.
  • physical appearance: Damn, his chiseled body is hot.
  • actual temperature: There are many descriptive words for hot, be sure to choose the one that reveals just how hot.
  • Heated words can refer to: lust, love, anger, embarrassment, guilt, shame

A few synonyms for hot! Warm, summery, tropical, broiling, boiling,searing, blistering, sweltering, torrid, sultry, humid, muggy, roasting, baking, scorching, scalding, searing, heated, red-hot, steamy

  • personality: The boss in The Devil Wears Prada was cold-hearted.
  • lack of emotion: His response to my question was cold.
  • remoteness: The detectives knew their leads were cold but they looked for clues anyway.
  • probability: It will be a cold day in hell when I forgive you.
  • austerity: Some folks think that modern furniture is cold-looking.
  • actual temperature
  • Chilly words can refer to anger, indifference, death, reality, conviction, cruelty

A few synonyms for cold! chilly, chill, cool, freezing, icy, nippy, wintry, frosty, frigid, bitter, biting raw, bone-chilling, arctic, frozen ,numb, shivery

So whether you’re writing His arctic glare sent chills down my spine or Her smoldering gaze lit my desires on fire

have fun lowering or raising the temperature in your novel.

 Related Posts: Symbols & More Symbols; Rock Your Writing

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Book Nooks

Fragonard,_The_ReaderWhere is YOUR favorite place to read? Most of us have a preferred place—a comfy couch or chair—where we hunker down with a good book. How does your book nook compare to other readers’ favorite spots?

An informal and thoroughly unscientific survey conducted on twitter, Facebook, and while attending a big party netted interesting responses. Using sophisticated tabulation methods (cough-cough)…

the results are in!

Book Nooks

Bed: #1 place to read: The is the perfect read-until-your-eyes-are-blurry location, but do these readers only read at night? A few bookworms stated it was the one place to escape  the household hubbub.

Sofa: Great for getting comfy. A drink nearby (see Beverage & Book Pairings) and pillows are optional.

Comfy chair: Whether inside or outside, recliner or Adirondack, the reading chair is a temple to the written word. Almost a throne…which leads to the next location.

The Throne: Only a few brave souls admitted to this. Hey, some people like to take advantage of every moment of ‘down time’ possible.

Chaise lounge on the beach: Can we hear a resounding YEAH! The soothing sounds of the surf along with the inspiring sight of sea and horizon makes it an intoxicating place to read and ponder.

Hammock: Had the pleasure of reading my first Sookie Stackhouse novel while swaying in a hammock on an Ecuadorian beach. Heaven. If only I could convince my hubby to install one in the backyard.

Mile high reading club: If you’re a reader—and you must be if you’re reading this post—the invention of the e-reader was a godsend. No longer did you need to lug multiple paperbacks in your carry-on. Some SERIOUS reading gets done on an airplane. ( Unless, of course, you sit next to someone who loves to read the genre you write & then you can make a new friend and talk books & authors! Confession: Several seatmates have downloaded my novels.

Dining room/kitchen chair: Reading and eating is so much safer to do at the table. With the proper space between book and food, there is little chance of crumbs or spills soiling your book or e-reader. The downside: Do you remember what you ate?

Train/Bus/Car/ Vanpool: Reading for those immune from motion sickness. Reading while speeding down the freeway is do-able. Stop-n-go traffic, not so much. My son assures me that one day cars will be self-driving ( like in the movie i-Robot ) Imagine how much reading we might do!!!

Floating pool chaise: So decadent! The sun’s heat, the chlorinated cool splash, the soothing motion—great for the glam novel. Floating loungers with a handy-dandy beverage holder and/or retractable shade is reading BLISS. The ONE problem: If your e-reader decides to go for a swim. Hey Kindle or e-reader folks—make a waterproof version ( or case )! Observation: We sent a robot to Mars and yet our techno devices are not designed to be waterproof.

Treadmill/Exercise equipment: Several people swear by this location. It’s VERY multi-tasking fitness minded! Confession: My leg muscles and reading brain don’t sync. I forget to walk or pedal.

Floor: This might be fun for the young ‘uns. All I can say  is “ouch.”

Bathtub: This was surprising. My bath water gets cold in about 5 minutes. Maybe there’s a secret the bath-readers aren’t divulging.

Outside vs Inside: Many readers prefer reading outside! There’s nothin’ like reading a book on a nice day while surrounded by nature.

Plot + Nature + Comfy Chair = Readtopia.

Several respondents said they will read ANYWHERE.

Where is YOUR favorite book nook?

Many thanks to all those who put in their 2 reading cents.

Related links: Readin’ & Writin’


Tunefully Yours

lyric 1st lineCatchy Song lyrics have a way of lodging in your brain. Dum-dum-dum- doo-dee-do….

Everyone knows the “Alphabet song” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” are the the same melody. And so is “Mary had a Little Lamb” and “London Bridge.”  So in the spirit of Weird Al Yankovic I’ve writer-ized opening lines to a few famous songs.

Note: Changes are bolded.


Well, it was just seventeen pages—if you know what I mean
  • The Beatles/ I Saw Her Standing There
I’m on the highway to editing  hell.
  • AC/DC / Highway to Hell
Why do adverbs suddenly appear every time an agent is near?
  • The Carpenters/ Close to You
Well, it’s one for the money, two for the read, three to get KDP, now go, Amazon, go!”
  • Carl Perkins / Blue Suede Shoes
There must be some kind of way out of here, said the writer to the plot problem.
  • Jimi Hendrix/ All Along the Watchtower
Hello, typos, my old friend
  • Simon and Garfunkel/ The Sound of Silence
You were working as a writer in a coffee shop, when I met you
  • Human League/ Don’t You Want Me
And you may find yourself living in a fictional world / And you may find yourself in another part of the world / And you may find yourself behind a laptop computer.
  • Talking Heads/ Once in a Lifetime
Guess what just got back today / Those wild-eyed queries I emailed away
  • Thin Lizzy / The Boys are back in Town
I get up, and social media management gets me down / You got it tough / I’ve seen the toughest tweeters around.
  • Van Halen/ Jump
Just a small town writer, livin’ in a lonely world / She took the FaceBook train goin’ anywhere.
  • Journey/ Don’t Stop Believin’
She’s a very kinky writer, the kind you don’t recommend  to mother.
  • Rick James/ Superfreak
Hello, is there any agent out there? Just email if you can hear me.
  • Pink Floyd/ Comfortably Numb
Ground Control to Major plot flaw
  • David Bowie/ Major Tom
The devil went down to a beta reader; he was lookin’ for a soul to steal.
  • Charlie Daniels Band/ The Devil Went Down to Georgia
A long, long time ago…
I can still remember
How that manuscript used to make me smile.
  • Don McLean/ American Pie
Welcome back, my friends
To the edits that never end
We’re so glad you could attend
Turn the page, turn the page
  • Emerson, Lake, & Palmer/ Karn Evil 9 – 1st Impression – Part 2
I like big sales and I cannot lie.
  • Sir Mix-A-Lot/ Baby Got Back
Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a character of wealth and taste
I’ve been around for a long, long year
Stole the writer’s soul and faith
  • Rolling Stones/ Sympathy for the Devil

After writing this post, I know exactly what the next few blog topics will be. Stay tuned…

What opening-lines can you writer-ize?

Related links: Readin’ & Writin’


Biblical Allusions

biblical allusionjpgIn the western world, Christianity and the Bible are engrafted in our collective conscience. Most people—even non believers—know a bible story or two, which is why writers add depth and complexity with its timeless themes, stories, and iconic names.

The above photo is from the movie 300. At the end—warning: plot spoiler, King Leonidas dies and final scene shows his body position at his time of death, which really resembles that of a crucifixion. Was the screenwriter saying that Leonidas was Jesus? My guess is NO, but the position of his body does suggest that Leonidas sacrificed himself for his people. A second example is from Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea. The old man carries his boat over his shoulder ( like a cross) uphill ( Calvary) at the end of the novel. There are a thousands  and thousands of examples of biblical allusions from literature and film. The more you know your Bible the easier they will be to find.

What: The Bible’s timeless portrayals of betrayal, sin, falls from grace, loss of innocence, and redemption are brought to life within its pages.

Why:  Writers allude to the Bible for many reasons. It may be to:
1. explain a theme, problem,  experience, or event
2. reinforce a theme, problem, or experience, or event
3. add irony
4. satirize
5. condemn
6. foreshadow
7. characterize a person or place


How: Here’s just a tiny sampling of symbolic or metaphoric examples of common biblical allusions.
  • names of either places and/or people
  • garden ( Paradise )
  • 7 days
  • one brother killing another
  • tree of life/ tree of knowledge of good and evil
  • serpents
  • plagues
  • flood
  • parting of waters
  • loaves of bread
  • no room at the inn
  • crucifixion
  • 40 days
  • escape from slavery
  • wandering in a desert
  • milk and honey
  • being tempted by Satan
  • carpenter occupation
  • 12 friends
  • a cock crowing 3 times
  • flaming bushes
  • last suppers

Christianity doesn’t have an exclusive on religious allusion! Read novels and poems from other countries/cultures and expect allusions to Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, etc and their corresponding holy scriptures. Of course, if the reader is unfamiliar with the religion they won’t be able to identify the religious allusion.

So before dismissing a character’s name or circumstance as coincidental, ask yourself why the author may have alluded to the Bible ( or other religious text). For example:
  • a character named Eve ( or a variant of ) may tempt a man and get kicked out of a metaphoric paradise
  • a man with 12 friends may be betrayed by one of them

What biblical allusion have you used, read, and/or seen?

Related links: Rock Your Writing, Symbols & More Symbols


One-liners for Writers

one-linersIconic movie lines. Everybody knows them. We all quote them. And as writer’s we understand the value of a great one-liner. Famous movie lines also come in handy during  the course of a  writer’s day.

Here’s a few of my favorites, served with a side of snarky-sassy commentary.

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” ( Gone With The Wind )
  • All purpose response to anything that stops you from writing, be it a discouraging remark from a ‘friend’ to a disheartening blog post about the realities of publishing.
Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” ( Wizard of Oz )
  • A sentiment expressed by many wanna-be authors after listening to an agent panel discuss the publishing biz.
Go ahead, make my day.” ( Dirty Harry )
  • Feeling ( on the QT ) when you’ve discovered you have a troller blowing up your twitter feed.
May the Force be with you.” ( Star Wars )
  • My wish to newbies heading to their first pitch session.
“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” ( Network )
  • Shout directed to a paragraph or sentence that refuses to be written correctly.
“You can’t handle the truth!” ( A Few Good Men )
  • I might be wrong about this, but I think literary agents would like to say this to Does-My-Novel-Suck inquiring newbies.
“There’s no crying in baseball!” ( A League of Their Own )
  • Good to say to the mirror after receiving a rejection.
“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” ( Jaws )
  • Response to folks who ask if their Once In A Blue Moon blog will build their writer platform.
Hasta la vista, baby.” ( Terminator )
  • Best spoken after hitting the SEND button on your unsolicited emailed query.
I’ll be back.” ( Terminator )
  • Directed at manuscript at the end of the day.
Badges?  We don’t need no badges! I don’t have to show you any stinking badges.” ( The Treasure of the Sierra Madre )
  • Perfect reply when your writer’s conference name tag is left in the hotel room and you need to get into the auditorium to hear the keynote speaker.
“Houston, we have a problem.” ( Apollo 13 )
  • Good for anytime you’re trying to figure out a new writing program or new social media platform.
“I feel the need—the need for speed!” ( Top Gun )
  • Thoughts of many a writer trying to juggle all their social media accounts.
“Snap out of it!” ( Moonstruck )
  • Spoken by family or friends when a writer is in the zone.
“I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!” ( The Wizard of Oz )
  • Addressed to the adverbs still hiding in your manuscript.
“Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” ( Dirty Dancing )
  • Expressed after scheduling a free ebook giveaway.
“I’m the king of the world!” ( Titanic )
  • Spoken upon landing an agent and/or publishing deal.

What favorite movie line do YOU use?

Related Links: Readin’ & Writin’


Genre Breed

dog readingbookAgents, publishers, bookstores, and Amazon require authors to identify a novel’s genre. It’s not always an easy task. Wouldn’t it be great if genres were as easy to classify as dogs?  By replacing the word genre with breed writers will identify target audiences more quickly and readers will discover the reading experience they were searching for.

So today, this blog has gone to the dogs!

Sporting genre/breed: Written for retrieving, these novels are best enjoyed in hard copy because the reader will refer to them again and again, annotating in the margins, and dog-earring favorite pages. The sporting genre is perfect for pointing out fowl/foul symbols and watery archetypes


Hound: Serious literature designed for authorial technique hunting, readers will delight in sniffing out important themes and deer/dear allusions, howling their foxy literary analysis to all.

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Toy: Light and adorable novels that contain glamorous fluff or posh plots. Some have a bit of bite (BDSM) to them, while others lick you with giggles.The perfect size for your e-reader.


Herding: Novels in a series that come together, gathering characters across a range of sub plots and adventures.  Linked by themes or overarching plot, these novels are branded to build readership with each new book.


Terriers: Novels that eagerly scurry down the literary hole to expose man’s rat-like proclivities. Although their plots shed light upon varmint dogmas and critter-filled creeds, they are endearing tales that roll over for a good belly rub.


Working: Action-packed novels with a taste for adventure: Expect daring rescues, growling characters, mastiff-tastic heroism, and dog-on good sex. These novels work hard so the reader won’t have to.


Non-sporting: Bursting with energy and tale-wagging dialog, these novels are drool-worthy reads. From the elegant-clipped poodle-ish exposition to the requisite bitchy stereotype to the spirited climax, the reader can expect intelligent plotting and obedient language. Fans of non-sporting genres are loyal and devoted.


Which breed of book do YOU prefer to read or write?

(I’m saving cross-breeds for another blog.)


Related links: Readin’ & Writin’


Rx for Writers

Rx for writersPharmaceutical  companies spend bazillions of dollars researching, experimenting, testing, and marketing drugs to cure all our ailments. Wouldn’t it be great if they made medications to cure some common writing woes?

Here’s a few suggestions.

1. Proseac: Calms the writer while creating word magic. Outside distractions and inner demons are kept at bay, allowing the writer to craft  better prose.

2. Adverbaicillin: Treats rampant infection of adverb use in manuscript.

3. Nextchaptium: Treats symptoms of hook-y chapter endings brought on by persistent agent burns.

4. Twittermax: Increases tweeting speed and improves 140-character witticisms.

5. Blogadryl: Provides relief from blogging while still attempting to make progress on your manuscript. Calms the annoying  I-have-no-new-material itch.

6. Ibproofreadin: Reduces inflammation of irritation brought on by: removing or adding comas: misspelled and misused words; and repetitive phrases.

7.  Verbagra: Cures dysfunctional verbs. When used properly, verbs stand at attention while writing allowing you to write for many hours without verb loss. Warning: If you suffer from verb action for more than 4 hours please see your literati.

8. Flawase: Prevents back story congestion, runny prepositions, and sneezing unnecessary exposition into manuscript.

9. Moplotrin: Reduces worry and treats pain caused by inflamed expositions, plot aches, and climax pain.

10. Queryosec: Treats causes of Time-To-Send-Ms-To-Agent disease and other email conditions caused by excessive rewording of query. Promotes healing of painful summaries and first 10-pages.

11. Wordbutrin: Treats depression brought on by writer’s block. May reduce social media cravings and my-novel-sucks withdrawal symptoms.

12. Cianalysis: Treats inability to understand Amazon algorithms, as well as Twitter and Blog statistics. Best taken when any time the moment’s write, preferably in a bathtub.

13. Pitchobarbital: Relieves anxiety and controls nervous seizures while pitching at a conference. Can become habit-forming, especially if writer is a conference junkie.

Related Posts: Readin’ &Writin’

Rx for Writers


A Writer’s Prayer

Our Muse who lives in GenreZion
we offer coffee in your name.
Let our plots and characters come,
and your creative will be done,
on Amazon and as it is in social media.
Give us this day our daily word count
and forgive us our typos and grammar errors
as we forgive our fellow authors.
And let us not write more words on Twitter than on our MS
but deliver us from Facebook and blog meltdowns.


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beauty beast libraryjpgDefinition: Intense attraction to reading.

Condition is  brought on with the protracted need—intellectual and physical—to ingest words, plots, and meaning.

Symptoms show a marked increase with the introduction of  e-reader ownership and free downloads.

Symptoms include:

1. Staying up until 3 am to finish a book.

2. Thinking—albeit irrationally—that the story will finish without you if you stop reading.

3. Seriously considering taking a book to a family gathering.

4. Believing staycations ( a vacation where you stay home) includes reading books while sipping on your favorite beverage.

5. Arguing with non-reading friends who accuse you of reading to escape reality. Puleeze—you’re living many realities.

6. Becoming annoyed when an event—neighbors knocking, children crying, food burning, fire alarm ringing—causes you to stop mid-paragraph.

7. Stressing when someone asks “What’s your favorite genre?” That’s like asking to identify your favorite air molecule to breathe.

8. Weeping tears of joy upon purchase of first e-reader.

9. Knowing free books are Amazon’s equivalent to the biblical manna from heaven.

10. Judging people by the speed and accuracy by which they read a novel ( What do you mean you skimmed that part?)

11. Planning vacations to famous libraries.

12. Buying/downloading new book = happiness.

13. Hanging with non-readers is—wait, do you still have any non-reading friends?

14. Jumping out of your skin when someone taps you on the shoulder while reading.

15. Waiting in line is a joy—as long as you brought a book.

16. Realizing the real world goes away when you’re immersed in a novel.

17. Making excuses for your Readophilia ( I’m at the good part. Gotta find out if he dies. I learn stuff. The kids should learn how to do their own laundry. Learn how to cook. I need me-time. I’m in a book club)

18. Denying that Readophilia comes with a price. Increased knowledge, pondering, and imagination. Increased time management skills—to fit in more reading. Increased reading speed. Increased ability to discuss a myriad of topics. Increased attention levels. Increased ability to amuse yourself for extended hours.

Ironically, little academic research has been done on this brain-stimulating condition, and Readophila is often tragically abated by the following:
  • broken power cords
  • low battery indicators
  • inaccessibility to an electrical outlet
  • closure of local book stores
  • maxed out credit cards
  • no clean underwear in the house
  • no toilet paper in the house
  • ridiculous library hours ( 24-hr libraries! Imagine the learning!)

Do YOU have Readophilia?

One of my favorite library scenes!

Related Posts: Readin’ & Writin’

Beverage & Book Pairings

beverages & booksThere’s nothing like enjoying a drink—both alcoholic and non alcoholic—while reading! Restaurant managers are smart to suggest wine pairings for menu items. And like food for your stomach, words are food for your soul. The following is a list of genres and how they might be enhanced with  the perfect libation.

Literary fiction: Day Hours: Literati concerned with theme, motif, symbols, & allusions require a lovely Earl Grey or French-press coffee. Evening hours require an expensive cognac or single malt scotch.

Romance: Mocha latte or sweet tea by day. White wine spritzer or anything enhanced by a wee paper umbrella after sunset.

Horror: Tales of blood and gore need Spicy V-8 with extra Tabasco in the daylight. The mouth-coating density found in a full-bodied Douro Cabernet Sauvignon will satisfy your cravings when darkness descends.

Action/adventure: Running from here to there require the hydrating and invigorating effects of lemon & rosemary infused water during the day.   A few shots of tequila—with or without the worm—will provide your evening kick.

Cozy mystery: Tea or coffee in a lovely cup or mug while the sun shines. Kahlua and cream or an Irish coffee when night falls.

Scifi: PowerAid or GatorAid when the giant ball of hydrogen rises and the Pan Galactic Garlic Blaster ( from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) or jello shooters during lunar sightings.

Historical fiction: Tea or spiced cidar when the cock doth crow and red wine ( a libation with ancient origins) when the owl doth hoot.

Paranormal/urban fantasy:  Sunlight calls for iced tea or a cold soda. The witching hours requires some aptly named cocktails like the Zombie, Slippery Nipples, Snake Bite, Sex on the Beach, and Purple Hooter.

FanFiction Monster, RedBull, or Rockstar after breakfast. Add vodka to that glass for dinner for a fan-drinkster kick-in-the-ass.

Textbook: Open to the Table of Contents with an extra espresso shot in your coffee. Pour more coffee by the lamp’s glow until you’ve reached the index.

Steampunk: Lavender infused lemonade when the chronometer indicates 9 am.  Indulge in absinthe as you watch the sands of night pour through the hourglass.

Vampire/shifter: Cranberry juice when the sun comes up and a Spicy Bloody Mary during sundown.

Erotica: Cool the heat with Passion fruit iced tea when not in the bedroom. A ‘roofie’-laced cocktail or a martini—extra dirty–should satisfy under the covers.

Chick Llt; Sassy, fun, sappy, or sad plots need a lovely frothy latte in the daytime and  a light, crisp Sauvignon Blanc for turn-the-page evenings.

Detective: Following clues and solving crimes calls for no-frills coffee—black, no sugar— in a Styrofoam cup by the harsh light of day. Beer or whiskey on the rocks for wallowing during the dark of night.

Legal thriller: Coffee Americano during court hours in the judges chambers. Straight bourbon from dusk until dawn.

Children’s: Milk with a cookie chaser after your afternoon nap and hot chocolate when it’s time to say Goodnight Moon.

Latino lit: Fruit juice during el dia  and  margarita or sangria in the noche.

Other novel pairings:

  • Stories taking place south of the Mason-Dixon line require Mint Juleps on the sunny porch. Take a peek at the fireflies while sipping Southern Comfort during eventide.
  • Rum for any novels with pirates.


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What Kind Of Conference Attendee Are You?

writing conference attendeeThe best place to get the latest publishing scoop is at a writer’s conference. There’s tons to choose from and they happen all over the world! Large, medium, small, intimate, or intimidating, writers go to meet other writers, attend workshops, and listen to keynotes speeches.

Having been to my fair share of conferences, I’ve noticed a thing or two about conference attendees while people watching or indulging in authorveillance. They fall into one of several  groups:

Wallflower: Shy writers attending for information only. They have no intention of pitching, won’t make eye contact with anyone, and pretend to be fiddling on their cell phone when the opportunity to talk to others presents itself.

Read My MSer: These folks walk around with copies of their manuscript asking folks they just met to read their novel. This puts writers between a page-rock and word-hard place. Are they looking for someone to tell them how wonderful it is? And what will they do if you give advice? And who are YOU to give advice anyway?

Clinger: Wallflowers often advance to Clinger status. Once they’ve made a conference friend they follow them everywhere, seek them out at every meal, and ask “what session are you going to next?” Clingers often gravitate to each other and soon become fast friends—which is a good thing.

 Newbie: What I do? Where do I go? Can I speak to an agent? How do I pitch? What if I flub my pitch? How many words is a normal [ insert genre]? What’s a platform? How did you get so many Twitter followers? How am I supposed to manage social media? Blogging too, are you joking? What’s a query? I have to have an elevator pitch? Ah, crap, my MS is no where near ready to be queried, what do I do?

Very Important Person: One can always identify a VIP  because they are usually accompanied by an entourage. They might be one of the keynote speakers, notable agent, famous publisher representative, or high profile author. OR they be one of the hosts/founders of the writers conference. ( I’m thinking about hiring an entourage for the next conference so at least I look important. )

Stalker: Writers with one singular purpose: To seek out agents during moments of weakness ( at the bar, dining with friends, in the bathroom ) to pitch their novel. They will cut fellow writers off in the refreshment line if their victim—ah, agent—happens to be standing next to you, talk over your pitch, chair hop to get closer to the agent’s table so they can ‘accidentally’ leave their manuscript on the agent’s chair.

Weary Wanderer: Identified by the shadows under their eyes and cup of coffee in their hand, these folks are mentally drained after attending 2 workshops. They often need naps or breaks during the day to recover from the plethora of information provided during the sessions. Their exhaustion is often amplified by not using technology for note-taking.

Bookish Bacchanal: Sleep late. Attend a session. Drink some coffee. Saunter around. Ask when the bar opens. Go for a swim. Sight see. Catch another session. These writing folks come alive at the bar where they lift their glasses with others who extol the mercurial life of the writer.

Befriender: They may arrive alone but in a few hours they will have added 50 new Twitter followers and Facebook friends. They strike up conversations at every session, make you laugh, ask about your MS, and keep their successes on the down low. By the time lunch has ended they know the genre and plot of everyone’s MS who is sitting at their table.

( Member of ) Wolf pack:  From a group of writer friends to a bevy of agents, the Wolf Pack is almost always together. Identified by their inside jokes, tight knit formations, and large scale seat saving, this group is happy hanging with their pack members. Warning: Observe their body language before attempting to enter the group.

Look for me at the next conference!  I’ll be the tall redhead at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference this June.

What kind of conference attendee are YOU?

By the way, I would LOVE to be a workshop speaker—I have oodles of academic material on writing craft and authorial technique.

Related Links: Readin’ & Writin’; 10 Things To Do After A Conference