Life… #TuesdayThoughts with Doris (@mamaD8)

Happy Tuesday, lovely peeps. Well, I tell you life is never dull, is it? The week started off with something of a bang.

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Our youngest had a nasty allergic reaction over the weekend, the second in three days, so I thought it was wise to take him to the doctors. We are, of course, none the wiser, as to what he is suddenly reacting to, only that he is definitely reacting to something.

So antihistamine follows us wherever we go, just in case… fun, not. Neither is the talk of EpiPens and rushing him off to A&E if need be. Worst case scenario, that, obviously, but still. Not what you want to hear.

Add to that that I was up at the crack of dawn to take one of our daughters to said hospital to have the metal plate taken out of her collarbone (you may or may not remember she broke it over a year ago, falling out of a tree!) and… yeah… life…

Not all that conducive to meeting your writing goals. However, I’m pleased to report that I did manage to finish that story I was banging on about last time.

*phew*

It remains to be seen if the powers that be like it, of course.

I didn’t finish the other story I was writing. My muse, god bless her, decided to take me down the rabbit hole and to write something else entirely.

This one is MMF, interracial, and BDSM to boot.

 

Then again with these two hunks for inspiration… can’t say I blame her.

 

Josh and Dawson

 

My heroine is one lucky lady… just saying…

 

*smirks*

So, there you have it. One rambling post from me. To be honest, I’m struggling with keeping up my Naughty Quills commitment of posting every Tuesday so I might have to rethink that at some point. But not today. I have some very hot sex to write.

Do stay naughty, folks,

 

D x

 

 

When Writing Strictly by the Rules Ruins A Story by Jules Dixon @JulesofTripleR #Mondayblogs #amwriting

giphy-downsized (39)Writers generally fall into categories. Plotter or pantster (person who doesn’t plan a story and just lets their fingers and brain fly). Marketers who have a plan for release, promotion, and sales and those who just write for the love of writing and if readers buy it they don’t care. Those who study craft methods and those who choose to write off of instinct. Just to name a few ways.

There are reasons for striving to be a better writer by learning some story development techniques. Quicker writing because you learn your own voice and flow of writing. Happier readers because there’s organization and the story can be entertaining. And lastly, if you’re looking for a publisher or agent then being able to write with some standards and general organization principals can make your story stand out or at least make sense.

giphy (86) However…

Yes, Jensen, I think that, too, and thanks for the distraction, but I’m not talking about you. I’m trying to say…

Knowing what GMC (Goal, Motivation, Conflict) and what a 3 Act Structure is (Intro of Conflict, Escalating Action with Increasing Stakes, Crisis and Falling Action or Resolution) or what the “Hero’s Journey‘ is, just to name a few, doesn’t make a great story. Sure, it can help an author to have mechanics down and possibly a place to start but…

The writer still has to use intuition, competence, and their gift to come up with a killer idea and conflict that’s realistic, relatable and grips the reader.

giphy-downsized (40).gifWhen a writer only relies on techniques and craft knowledge then a story can and often does come off stilted, stiff, and dry. It takes more than knowing what good writing consists of to make it good writing.

So how does a writer prevent that from happening?

I see three different ways.

  1. Have a plan. You don’t have to be a true plotter to have an idea of where a story is starting and where it’s going. Then set that aside and write the story and see where it goes. If it starts going off the plan and you like it cause it’s fresh and original and has life, then KEEP GOING! But if you’re struggling, go back and look at those ideas, what did you miss–did you miss a conflict? Did you not set up the motivation and the character doesn’t have anything to lose?
  2. Let someone else read it and then accept what they say with grace and poise. I know, easier said than done. That’s for sure. But if more than one person, or even one person you truly trust says that a story isn’t working and they struggling to connect with the characters, plot, setting, etc, then maybe you overworked the story with revision or excessive planning or maybe characters aren’t developed enough. Maybe all those techniques over came the story.
  3. Learn the techniques, but guess what? Forget them. Yep, just use your gut and write the story as it comes to you. There is something to be said for following your gut as a writer and allowing the characters to lead you, instead of you leading them. If that’s not your style, no problem. Just keep it in mind that it’s okay to go off track once in a while. Sometimes those side journeys can be the best ways to know our characters and story.

So there you have it. Don’t let your story become stale and only based on techniques and only “sound writing principles” (dun, dun, dun) because there is a place and reason for balance between knowledge and innate skill.

Good luck to all writers!

Have a great Monday and week!

❤ Jules

MONDAY MESSAGES

 

 

 

You should be writing! #TuesdayThoughts with Doris (@mamaD8)

Hey peeps, Doris here with a very short and sweet post today, as I really shouldn’t be here at all. I’m on a tight deadline. Nothing like a bit of pressure to get the fingers flying and all that.

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For once I know the story. Heck, I have a synopsis and everything….

*passes the smelling salts*

Yes, I know, unheard of, but necessary for this particular submission process. I’m waiting to hear back on a first chapter and just in case the powers that be will want more…. well, I kinda need the rest of the story, right?

Hence the deadline.

I tell myself I work well under pressure…. yeah, right… erm…

So, with that in mind, I best get off here and crack on. I left my hero with a severe case of blue balls and the heroine has just turned up, so there is a whole lot of different pressure going on.

*snort*

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Erm right, that’s my cue.

(Incidentally, Rhett Butler, so wonderfully portrayed by Clark Gable here, was the first literary hero I ever fell in love with.)

*swoons*

idris-elba

Eeek, def going now!

*catches one last glimpse of Idris*

Stay naughty, folks!

 

Dxx

 

Story Titles: What are we doing to romance? by Jules Dixon @JulesofTripleR #amwriting #MondayMessages #Mondayblog

Story Titles: What are we doing to romance?

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Thanks, Ironman, I thought it was timely and decided to give my two cents. Hope you’re ready to listen.

For the last year, I’ve seen book/story titles that have made me do a second glance. Mostly because of their shock-and-awe nature, but some because I’ve started noticing a trend of escalation.

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Escalation? Yes, with some titles making me cringe.

Some of the titles started out as puns on words, “Pucked” for well, I’m assuming you can figure that one out and I actually found that title to be endearing and appropriate for the book, as it was about a hockey player and comedic in nature. Kudos to Helena Hunting for a great title and series.

But then came other titles that I found harder to find a real reason for the extreme facets of the title. The specifics aren’t important, but what is important is that I’ve now laid my eyes on titles that are pushing the boundaries of what a romance title probably should be.

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In my opinion, a romance title should do these three things:

  1. It should give insight into a plotline or character of the story. For instance, if the story is about cowboys, then maybe Riding Again, which also indicates that maybe it’s could be a second chance love story or a person who found love, lost it, and is finding it again.
  2. It should tell a reader what they can expect. If it’s one word, I believe it’s harder to accomplish that, but I’ve seen it done. Especially in the case of Jay Crownover’s Marked Men series–all named with the guys’ name that is the lead character. Fun reading and great heroines. But promising something with the title and then not delivering, that’s a quick way to lose readers.
  3. It shouldn’t be created to disturb or shock readers. When we do that as authors we aren’t holding our writing accountable for being the story, the title is the story. Plus, if the story doesn’t deliver and the title created a bunch of attention then do we think readers will come back for more? No, they have expectations of the genre, including story, characters, plotline, and titles.

I know what you’re saying, but it’s the author’s right to decide the title. Sure. Up to a point, then if they have a publisher then someone needs to step in and say when a title isn’t appropriate or even offensive. If it’s self-published, I think beta readers need to voice opinions.

And in the end, if the author gets negative feedback because of a risque or politically/socially loaded title, then they need to be willing to accept the criticism and move on. No apologies. No regrets. No “sorry, but not sorry”s. Take it like a champ, because you chose it.

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But if a title is just for shock factor, I would encourage writers to think twice. Is that what you really want to be known for?

Titles are so important. Why choose one that might start judgment of the novel right out of the gate? I guess that might be something I’ll never know the answer to.

I want romance writers to respect the genre and their work, because if we don’t, who will? No one.

What do you think? Seen any titles that pushed the envelope for you? Don’t have to name names, but what about it triggered emotions for you?

Hope everyone has a wonderful Monday!

Take care, ❤ Jules

MONDAY MESSAGES

 

 

 

Keep your eyes on the ball #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

Hello one and all, it’s that time again – FRIDAY! We’re going to get right to things today, and here we go…

While we have many posts on NQ about the content of stories, and do’s and don’t’s, one thing that needs to be said to all authors, but especially newbs, is to focus on the guts of the story. Everything you write should have one singular point that is the main focus for you. All that happens around that point is icing on the cake so to speak.

I’m talking about your core theme. Not that it has a murder mystery element, or that it’s supernatural, or sci-fi. What I’m talking about is the whole reason you’re writing it. For us, romance authors that is, it’s the romance element. While there is no singular way to write romance, or a right way to do it, you need to decide how the romance in your romance story progresses. And you must be consistent.

This does take a little forethought, and even some planning for some folks, while others can have it naturally unfold in a natural manner. Whatever works for you, but do keep your eye on the ball, or the end goal, or whatever turn of phrase works best for you.

For example, some good guidelines for your romance might be:

  • Boy meets girl, girl meets boy, boy meets boy (or whatever your combo might be)
  • The next logical step (depending on the story) would be getting to know one another however best fits your central theme
  • Along the same lines they would also spend time together perhaps doing things; walking, eating, sky diving, killing off mutant aliens determined to take over the planet and turn us all into mindless drones!!
  • There should also be some sex (d’uh!), or a lot of sex, or tonnes of sex, even copious amounts of sexual activity in all sorts of interesting positions and/or places – whatever floats your boat and works withing your central theme
  • and so forth, but you get the idea where this is going I’m sure…
  • Also, more sex
  • Did I mention sex?

Some things to avoid on the fringes of your romance might be:

  • Random surprises like killing off some character for pure shock value but for no real purpose
  • Jumping to a point too far ahead because you don’t know what to do to “fill in” the extra “time” before getting there – epilogues do not count, these are their own beasts of burden and can take place anywhere/anytime, as long as it works with your story line
  • Erratic behavior, unless that is who your character is – don’t put it in just because you can, again this all has to make sense from the first word to the last
  • Jolts are another one, this is often an unconscious thing an author does and one their editor should be catching. But a jolt (not really a writing term) is a break in the story line (whether a chapter break or a new chapter) that literally “jolts” the reader from the story – it’s disconcerting, and frankly often will ruin their read. A story should be one continuous, flowing read from start to end
  • Not having sex in a book that should have sex (ie: romance, erotic romance, erotica, etc.). If you are a “romance” writer, whether it be soft and gentle or hard and dirty, don’t fucking skimp on the sex

Basically the point I’m trying to make is find your center, your core theme, your be-all end-all for the story, and keep it front and center in your brain. And yes, like I said above, everything else that occurs is icing on the cake to make it a richer, deeper, more entertaining read – but it all still has to make sense. And most of all, it all actually has to work together. Don’t be random. Don’t do shock for shock’s sake. You’re an author, not a screenplay writer for Hollywood. Remember your craft, remember the artistry you have been gifted with, and treat it and your readers with the respect it/they deserve. In the end it can, and will benefit you.

So focus. Keep your eye on what truly matters to your story, and let the rest come as it may and how it might. Every story deserves to be told in the voice you have, but they will only be however long they need to be. No more, no less. You’ll know what needs to be said, what needs to be done, and when to type the words all authors both love and hate…

The End

The Universe and Lemonade by Jules Dixon #MessageMonday #amwriting @JulesofTripleR

Along with moving and putting a house on the market, I’m in the middle of writing a short story for an anthology that my critique group is putting out and I’m super pumped about all of those things because who wouldn’t be. Exciting times.

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But like these people, the Universe decided I needed some challenges to go along with the fun.

Well done, Universe. Well. Done. 

I am now the proud owner of this…

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I know, don’t be jealous. 😉 It’s all mine, ladies and gentlemen. No sharing.

Not as sexy as my red cowgirl boots, but when you have a ruptured Achilles tendon, fashion actually comes after comfort.

But although I’m not happy that this surprise event happened, I guess I’m trying to see the bright side.

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One, pain meds are a godsend for the…pain. Thank you to doctors and whoever created them.

 

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Two, I have time to write and I will use the time given, so maybe it was a gift from the Universe. I’ll find out what the final treatment plan is today and what I have to look foward to.

 

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Three, my friends and family are amaze-balls. Friggin’ off the charts amazing, fabulous, stupendous. My son was supposed to go back to school tomorrow, he’s postponed so he can help me. My hubby helped me 100 times this weekend, leaving quickly from work to come get me and take me to the hospital on Friday when it happened and then taking care of me all weekend long. My friend Nanette who let me scream into the phone so I’d stay conscious while the pain was at a 10/10. My friend, Cathy, who raced over from her house to stay with me while I writhed on the kitchen floor in pain and then locked up the house after we were gone to the hospital. The lawn guy who assisted me to get into the house. Yes, I know you touched my boob to help me. Yes, I know you apologized a dozen times. No, I don’t and didn’t care. I needed help and you helped me. The carpet guy who offered me ways of breathing to help the pain, but still did his job after we left like I needed him to. And I remember that I owe you $20 still, I’ll get it to you ASAP. My daughter who came to the hospital and rubbed my back while they made me lay on my stomach before the pain meds took effect. Not a fan of laying on my stomach anytime, but this made me feel twice as uncomfortable as my feet dangled and pain shot through my lower leg. And my nephew who didn’t blink an eye when I said I had to stay with him cause our bathroom is being remodeled and I can’t do stairs to the basement one. And dozens of others have offered to help in any way they can. Thank you to every one of you.

I was blessed that day, even if I’m on arm-pit numbing crutches and have the wonderful 10 lb boot. I know it’s not 10 lbs, but it’s definitely not a feather. 😉

So in the grand scheme of things, I’m still alive and that’s an important thing to remember. Plus, I’ve got a great story to add to a book some day. I’ve learned some lessons and I know who has my back when I need them.

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Overall, I’ve got a crapton of lemonade from the lemons the Universe sent to me. 

So back to writing that short story for me. I think you guys are going to like the idea we have going, and as long as my muse stays awake, I’ll be getting it done this week.

How was your weekend? Anyone have something exciting happen on their end of the keyboard? Any lemons that you can make lemonade from?

Hugs to all. ❤ Jules

MONDAY MESSAGES

A Writer’s Responsibility #WickedWednesday (@KaceyHammell)

Wednesdays

Good morning everyone! Happy Hump Day. Sorry I have been MIA the last couple of weeks. Life for me has changed this past month and I’m learning my way through balancing everything. Thank you to the other Quillers for their patience and understanding. Balancing so much has reminded me how valuable writing time is. I’m not the only writer to work outside the home, and actually have three jobs – writer, mother, and a full time day job – and for the first time since I began writing, I think I value the moments of solitude even more. And time with my characters has become golden. In many ways, I took the hours I could be writing for granted a bit because I had so much time before. I’ve learned a lesson here, and I take advantage of every five minutes I can get words down.

But in all the chaos recently, I finished my latest book. It is now fully done and self-edits were brutal. I wasn’t completely happy with it when I was done it before. Thanks to critique partners, I forged my way through the figuring out what was wrong and thoroughly revised many aspects from the original. Which leads me to today’s topic – being a vicious editor. No one else can write your stories for you and we have all said how important edits are. There are still many writers out there cutting corners and releasing stories that are not up to snuff. To each their own, but it is our responsibility to produce stories that shine.

With my last few books, I have used “Pro Writing Aid” program. It’s a godsend for me. It checks over everything from repetition words/phrases to dictation, run-on sentences, grammar, checks transitions, dialogue tags, abstract words, and more. It heavily searches through a manuscript and notes everything that needs to go. There are few things that I don’t change. I don’t want to change the voice in my stories, but I make the decisions on what I change. Nothing is written in stone. But I’ve found it a very useful tool.

I’ve mentioned my “cheat sheet” of bad habits in the past, words I use often – then, it, damn – and it is so important to thoroughly edit out those terrible habits. Readers don’t want to be repeating words over in their heads either. We’d lose readers that way. I can’t stress enough how important going back through your MS is before sending it to a publisher or self-pubbing it yourself. Be your fiercest advocate. Even if it takes you a month to do edits, then let it. Don’t publish crap that isn’t worthy. It’s that simple. Why spend a month or two, or more, on a story that you end up doing an injustice to if it’s not edited properly.

Not all writers are editors. We aren’t. However, it’s a writer’s job to also know about how to edit a story. Common story structure, grammar, to see errors, etc., is part of our job. The edits begin with the writer before sending / hiring another editor if self-publishing, and other publishers demand clean manuscripts. It’s that simple. The writer has all the responsibilities outside of simply writing the story. Too many writers are not taking this part of their job seriously and it saddens me.

It is such a disservice to your characters and stories.

A quick checklist that I tend to use when editing, even without Pro Writing Aid, which I tend to look closely for…

  1. Omit unnecessary words – then, that, it, and, overuse of the characters’ names.
  2. Redundancies – avoiding the use of ‘shrugged his shoulders’ (there’s nothing else to shrug!). ‘She nodded her head’ (there’s nothing else on us that we nod!!)
  3. NO Head Hopping!! So important. Stay in one character POV for an entire scene. If you do switch to the 2nd POV (after a few pages of one character), then make the transition easy and smooth.
  4. Limit the number of ‘ly’ words.
  5. Don’t over explain. Example – ‘Doris was angry and pounded the counter.’ I would edit this sentence to – ‘Doris pounded the counter.’ Plain and simple. We read the anger in her actions.

These are a few items on my checklist that I am mindful of with every read through / edit. They’re simple but oh-so-crucial!!  The more stories a writer creates and the more editing they do – on their own and with a professional editor when the time comes – the more their voice will shine and the better writer they will be.

 

Until next week,

Happy Writing. Happy Editing!

Kacey xoxo

 


 

Not the ride I was looking for #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

Greetings one and all, and happy Friday. Hope everyone has had a great week. Mine was decidedly strange, and truly should have ended on Wednesday. But I shall continue to slog through, it’s only a few hours more after all.

Today’s post is one that we’ve touched on prior here on NQ, but it obviously needs repeating. I’ve been reading a book which is the source of much angst currently in my life. Normally I can whip through an ebook in no more than two days, a paperback roughly three. This bugger has me currently at day four and I’m only half way through. It’s not a super long book by any means, 168 pages (print length), which for me is usually nothing.

But I’m having trouble with it. For one, the heroine has seesaw emotions that quite frankly have me feeling nauseous. I’m a roller coaster, slingshot, etc. riding maniac. The more something makes you scream the better. Yet this up and down with her emotions, one minute she’s terrified, two paragraphs later she’s all lovey-dovey, and then she’s angry, and then and then and then…

To top it off, roughly around chapter two, the hero in the story (and her future man) refers to himself in conversation with the antagonist. And not in a third person sort of thing, but as a separate person entirely. It threw me, completely. But so far it’s the worst thing that’s happen where he’s involved. The heroine on the other hand – she might just benefit from seeking professional help with her rather severe, and whiplash like mood swings.

While the concept of this book is also quite intriguing, the totality is thus far leaving me with no more than a bad taste.

Let’s be clear here authors. If your heroine/hero/secondary character, whomever, is in a traumatizing event – yes they should be a little out of sorts, and even moody. But once they have pushed through that initial trauma, unless you are specifically putting in some PTSD, quit with the emotional seesaw! Readers don’t like that shit. Other authors who read your works REALLY don’t like that shit. STOP IT!

The emotion of your character(s) needs to fit the situation. If it’s upbeat, light, and fun keep it that way. If you’re throwing them into danger than make sure their emotional state fits. Having your characters acting out of tune with the scene you’ve set in detail only confuses your readers, and makes it feel like slogging through the bayou on the hottest day on record. No fun at all.

So unless your one character knows something that the others in the situation don’t, or has had a horrid day, or ended up run over by a tanker trailer, try to keep their emotions on an even keel. Readers everywhere will thank you, and we on NQ won’t have to keep writing about it.

Writing Is My Sanity by Jules Dixon #MondayMessages #AmWriting #WritingAdvice

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Hello, everyone! How are you all doing?

I’ve had a long week, busy with moving, holiday gatherings, and getting a house ready for market, but I’m not going to complain, I’m reveling in the fact that I’m getting as much done as I am.

But, something had to get hurt in the process. For me, that was my 4-6 hours of writing a day. Not only did time have something to do with it, but in reality, some weeks are better than others for writing. It’s just the way muses work, at least mine.

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One thing I’ve found consistent is that when I’m having a bad or busy day, if I’m able to get at least some me writing time into the end of a day, all seems to be better.

 

Writing truly is my release time. It’s been keeping me sane these last few weeks.

This morning I was stressed out. Lots had gone right and some had gone wrong this weekend. So hubby convinced me that we needed an hour away just to decompress and so we tried a new breakfast place that is close to our new home, moving from the ‘burbs to the middle of the city.

This lovely couple saw us waiting and asked if we’d like to sit with them. We had a wonderful conversation and their personalities inspired me to write in an older couple to my current story. They were so in sync with each other. Fifty-six years of marriage, three children, eight grandkids (who they gushed over and had every right to) and one great-grandchild. It was lovely to see and really made me think.

Life is pretty darn great.

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Seriously.

Even if I’m hurting in every part of my body. Seriously, my feet right now…on fire. There is something to look forward to or to appreciate right here and now.

Little things and big things.

Like the new firmer mattress waiting for me at the new house. And a new desk for writing–can’t wait to start writing at it. Friends and family to have over to enjoy our new home with.

Just have a few more things to do at this house to get it ready to sell and we can start a new chapter in our lives.

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And the kitties need to be moved. Not sure how they’re going to do with it all, but we’ll work it out. Cause again…it’s all good, if we’re together.

If that couple taught me anything it was to not worry so much, enjoy the people in my life, and invite people to sit at my table.

So to all the readers, writers and friends I’ve yet to meet out there, you are always welcome at my table.

❤ and Hugs to all.

Jules

 

 

 

Behind the mask #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

It’s that time again, Friday. It was a short week for some of us, but damn if it didn’t feel incredibly long. I’m not only talking about the extra scramble to cover the day off, but also all the happenings in the world. I won’t get into it, but I will say it’s getting bloody exhausting reading about the same events, while they might be in different places, continuing to occur. When are we going to say enough is enough already?

As this isn’t the purpose of my post today I’ll leave that question to hang for you, and those around you, to answer at your own speed. No, today I want to discuss masks. Particularly the masks we as humans all wear.

Yes, yes, I can hear some out there saying that they don’t ever, or wouldn’t ever. Whatever. We all do it. From professional to personal, we each have a bag of masks we carry with us at all times. They could be hiding some pain (physical or mental), some slight, some news (good or bad), whatever it might be – we all wear them.

I’m not here to say to ditch them all. That isn’t the point, and yet it is.

As writers we have to see behind masks others wear to discover their heart, soul, and purpose. We then use that information in our writing. Where we then create characters who have their own bags of masks to protect them from the world. It’s all part of making them life like and relatable to readers. For in our creation they might see something that mirrors their life, their situation, their pain and gain insight, or even comfort from knowing that there are others out there going through the same thing. Yes, it comes to them in the form of a fictional character, but as authors the golden rule of thumb is to always write what you know (and what you learn, and what you research carefully). One never knows when the band-aid you, as an author, have torn off and bared to the world via your story telling ability will help someone else halfway around the world.

We all want to be able to create reactions in our readers whether they laugh, cry, scream, rage or any other number of emotions. To touch on something within them that is profound and true is the height we all strive to reach. Now, let me be clear, I am NOT talking about sensationalism – we get enough of that shit in the news on a minute-by-minute basis. What I mean is a careful unfolding, development that maybe gives them an “ah-ha!” moment. Perhaps even clarity, or startling realization. For we can not only amuse, but we can also teach and lend aid through the words we put together.

Think about it.

I know this one’s short but it’s been one hell of a week and exhaustion is banging at the door, so I’m off to watch a movie before encapsulating myself in my bed for the night. Have a great day everyone, remember it’s started out fresh and new, no expectations (except that you be dressed while in public), and it will become whatever you make of it. So go forth and Carpe Diem one and all.