Friday, December 30, 2011

Officially, my goals for 2012

Since this is the last Friday of the year, I thought I'd handle the New Year's admin now. If you want to see how I fared with the 2011 "guidelines", you're more than welcome to go check out my other blog, Taking Charge of My Life.

Without further ado, my goals for 2012:


I want to finish Doorways before 30 June.

I will query Doorways on 1 July.

I want to finish the WiP2 rewrite by 30 September.

I want to finish the Don't Look Back draft by 31 December.

I want to finish at least one draft of the musical libretto by 31 December.

I might want to look at Guardian again.


I want to read more (crit partners' manuscripts don't count).

I want to read Shakespeare, Austen and Martin.


Auditions, auditions, auditions.

I want to master at least intermediate cooking.

I want to spend more time designing.

I want to brush up on my French and Mandarin (at least one of the two) and take another language.

I want to take classes in a musical instrument. Either piano or guitar.

I also want to get out more next year. Cabin fever never did suit me.

Since I achieved four goals in 2011, I want to achieve six in 2012.

So that's me for the year. I hope you enjoyed my blog as much as I enjoyed all of yours.

Before I sign off, I just want to say cheers.

2011 was more than a little bumpy, but your support made it much easier to get through the year. Here's to 2012. If it's the last one, know I wouldn't want to spend it without you. If it isn't, thank goodness, because then I'll see you for 2013.

See you on the other side. ;-)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Back Home

After spending about two thirds of the 27th mourning the loss of my drafts, I decided that the term my self-imposed exile from home was over.

I ran straight to the arms of my beloved characters and immersed myself in the world of my creation.

It was like a balm to my soul.

Sure, the loss hurt, but it could have been so much worse. I could have lost more than I did. As it is, I still have all of my Doorways edits, so that's what I'm going to do until I get over the worst of my pain at losing WiP2.

Now that I'm back with my first love, I almost can't believe how long I've stayed away from it. Even though I enjoy everything else that I write, I miss my characters from Doorways every moment that I'm not with them.

Sad, but true.

Anyway, I feel happier now. More at peace with what happened. Soon I will be able to look at my WiP2 rough draft without thinking of the huge space that looms after it. Then I will be able to start again, excited to know that I will be improving on what I have written.

But right now, Doorways is exactly what I need.

Do you have a story and/or characters that you love more than any others?

Thank you all very much for your sympathy and support! That's what made me able to get back to Doorways so soon.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How spectacularly the wheels came off...

So... last night sucked.

Well, last night and this morning, since I spent four hours trying to recover my lost manuscripts.

Yes. Lost.

They can't be active undeleted. That can't be system restored. They can't be called up out of the hundreds of back-ups made, because according to the writing program I used, they never existed.

So I can't open my Doorways rough rewrite, but I have a copy of it to Word, if I decline all edits I made.

Half of the original opening for Don't Look Back is missing, but at least I hand-wrote it over to my notebook for NaNoWriMo.

Guardian seems to open and refuse at random, but I've managed to copy/paste it to Word.

No. My problem lies with Eden's Son I.E. WiP2. The entire rewrite is gone. Poof. Up into the ether. All of the back-ups only read up to before I started it. There are no Word versions because I didn't send it to anyone to read. I didn't copy/paste because a) it's freaking tedious and b) it's safe as long as I back up? Right?

Turns out no. Turns out backing up manually to create an extra copy obliterated months worth of work in less than a second.

So lesson number 1: NEVER use freeware. It's worth as much as you paid for it.
Number 2: NEVER assume that programmers think further than the tips of their noses. They don't. So that thing that seems obvious to do because it's what is supposed to happen? Don't do it before going to help and making doubly sure that that isn't the one that in his own words "DO NOT DO UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES."

But now I have to wonder: If I risk losing my work if I don't back-up and if I do? What action should I take? Print every page every freaking time? Because apparently it means bullshit to people that you spent most of a year on the work you lost, because apparently: "It can't vanish." is a satisfactory reply.

But like I said. I spent four hours last night looking for the data. My mother spent two this morning. It isn't there.

I am starting to accept this. Slowly, but it's hard, because now I know that my end of January goal for WiP2 is screwed. In fact, I downloaded the trial for Scrivener last night with the plan to buy the program in a month, but you know what? I don't want to write. I don't want to even look at my rough draft. Because all that I can see is the end of the document that's supposed to be followed by 26 chapters or thirty five thousand hard-fought words.

And then I want to kill something.

But on the flip-side, I've never thought I could lose over a hundred thousand words of everything and survive, but here I am.

So... what's your record loss? Got any horror stories to share? How did you recover?
Any Scrivener users out there? Is the program any good?
Any other drafting programs that I can look at?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Others have said... Keep a low profile, but miss nothing.

An author in his book must be like God in the universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere.
Gustave Flaubert

When a reader starts a book, he/she is drawn into the story for many reasons. When the book is a piece of fiction, odds are that one of reasons for being drawn in is because it isn't part of/about the reader. It's an escape. A way to live in another place, to see another life. To hear another voice.

It's a wonderful thing, our power to draw people into the stories we write, our ability to help them escape because of their willingness to suspend disbelief for just long enought to drift into our imaginary landscapes. At the same time, it's a challenge, because once that link is made, it's fragile. So fragile that the smallest error could break it.

I call this break the "Hey wait" moment, after the reaction that I have when something stretches my suspension of disbelief too far. As in: "Hey wait, why the hell would the character do this?"
or... "Hey wait, the solution to this apparently insurmountable problem is simple and provided for in the rules of the universe."

Broadly speaking, "Hey wait" moments happen because of two reasons:

Firstly, because the author didn't pay attention or due regard to all of the important details in his/her story. A good example of this would be when the author forces the character into doing something that's clearly against his/her nature. Another one would be plot holes.

The second cause of a "Hey wait" would be the author showing him/herself. This one's a bit more difficult for a writer to catch, because it has nothing to do with the story, plot or characters. It's something a bit more subtle. It's when the story's voice is wrong, e.g. rich florid prose when the view point character is no nonsense or a stark narration when the character's supposed to be a fun loving kid. It's when the dialogue is forced, especially when it's forced to reveal backstory. In other words: the "As you know" dialogues. Those are my pet hates. They truly make me want to tear a book apart.

Another way that a writer can show him/herself is by writing all stories to the exact same formula. I'm not talking about the preference of certain types of characters or themes. I'm talking about telling different stories according to a single pattern. One that if figured out, will ruin any future story by the author. There's a bestselling author who wrote some great stories that I loved, until I worked out how he wrote them. How did I figure it out? Because each one of them is written in a certain way. And I see that way as cheating.

So the moral here: if you want to cheat, go ahead, just don't keep doing it and assume that no one will notice. Unless you don't care.

Repetition of words and/or sentence structures highlight a writer like nothing else on earth.

So when you get around to edits, add some variety, tripple check for realism and plausibility and do anything in your power to camouflage your presence.  

Your reader will thank you for it.

What triggers a "Hey wait" reaction when you read? How do you avoid/fix that trigger when you write?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree

I wanted to put this post up last night, but because of the nature of the Christmas holidays, I wasn't able to, but I just have to show off this year's tree.

I admit that it looks a little bare in daylight...

But at night, it is magical:

Before I sign off, I want to ask that you please think of/pray for my friend Helen, who lost her husband in a car accident yesterday. She's about to enter a massive battle, as the accident has triggered a serious illness that she had when she was younger.

This really got me thinking, as we forget how fortunate we are to have everyone who is sharing Christmas with us. So if you haven't yet, go hug them and tell them you love them.


I love you.

Merry Christmas. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011


During my forced time off from my rewrite, something occurred to me about a moment in my WiP2 that's going to be a bit problematic. It's one of those watershed moments where a character makes a choice that will determine the course his life will take. So it makes for excellent story.
Only... the motivation was off. Or more accurately, the perception of the motivation was off.

To my mind, characterization is the reason why a character is who he is. Motivation is the reason why a character does what he does.

Actually, it's more the reason behind the reason. For example, commitment phobia might be a reason why a guy won't marry, but the reaction that caused the phobia as a result of something in the past is the motivation. In the case above, distrust as a result of his wife cheating on him with his best man would be his motivation.

Characters can have more than one motivation, but most importantly, each motivation will have a significant effect on how the character reacts to others or on how he lives and sees life. For example, Mr. Commitment-Phobe might start distrusting women in general, and then struggle with the idea of marriage as he falls in love. But then, since he was betrayed, he'll also very likely struggle to trust his love-interest around his friends or vice versa. 

It's vitally important that the motivation is carried through the character as far as it can conceivably go, because if it doesn't go all the way, the motivation will be seen as weak and it will impact on the story. If I stumbled over the above example in the story, I would think that his phobia was on over-reaction if he didn't show at least some indication of it when his love interest is talking with his best friend. If this didn't happen, it cheapens the situation and takes the depth out of the story.

Another important factor to consider: perception vs reality. What I mean with this is the reader's perception based on the character's actions vs. the actual reason behind the action as known to the author. It's not that common that a character's motivation is kept from the reader until the end of the story, since the conflict that comes as a result of character motivations can make for some wonderful story, because the journey of discovery of the character's motivation makes for good reading. But not if the reader leaps to the wrong conclusion as to what motivates a character.

If the reader decides that a reader won't marry because he's selfish in some way, there's a problem. Because whether or not this conclusion was wrong, it will affect how the reader will perceive the story's events, as well as whether he/she will be able to stick through the story all the way to the big reveal.

The reader can be kept on the right track, though, through leaving clues to the motivation or by showing that the opposite of the wrong conclusion is true. For example, if there's a chance of a reader thinking that Mr. Commitment-Phobe is nothing but a selfish bastard, show him at his most generous. Maybe let him take a kid under his wing. Something like that. Something that shows that not only is the guy generous, he's only worried about committing to a woman. 

What about you? How do you handle motivation - especially for difficult characters?   

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Goals for 2012 (Yes, I know it's early, but I couldn't think of anything else to write about)

Today was cleaning day, as family and friends will be arriving for my mother's birthday tomorrow. So after baking the cakes and delicious things, the rest of the day was pretty much spent washing floors.

It's not my most favorite thing in the world, but I at least got some time and mindless activity that allowed me to think about my June 30 goal.

I still need to finish the WiP2 rewrite before I start Doorways edits, since I won't have time for it later. So that means that the WiP2 rewrite has to be done by about 31 January. I'm about a quarter of the way through it, but since I did most of it in ten days, I don't think my goal is all that impossible.

That way, once I am finished with Doorways, I have another story to edit and one to finish drafting, whichever I feel like doing first.

In the long run, I always want a project in the mail somewhere. For that to happen, I have to lay the foundation now.

Then I want to finish Don't Look Back before the end of 2012. Hopefully I'll be on the Doorways sequel by 2013? We'll have to wait and see.

What about you? Have you set yourself any deadlines for next year? Let's hear them.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

An important announcement

Yesterday, I was thinking about my writing life so far.

As I was pondering, it occurred to me that next year, I will have been working on Doorways for five years.

That's half a decade of writing and tweaking.

I don't think that it's healthy to continue sitting on it, so next year, come hell or high water, I will start querying it. If no one's interested, I will start preparing it for publication.

Either way, I'm not going to be thinking about this again this time next year.

In fact, I should probably put up a date by which I want to get the edits done, so I'm going to say... 30 June 2012.

That gives me six months to polish it to a shine.

Maybe that makes me insane, but I have to try. The longer I wait, the more I will postpone on taking action.

So... anyone else tried to edit on a deadline before? Any advice for me?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Let's talk about the dark side

It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop. 

Vita Sackville-West


I've been thinking about this for the past few days, but I'm wondering what you all think of it. I wonder if you even think about it at all.  

I'm talking about the dark side. You know, that bit about writing that's there, but that doesn't get mentioned all that often.

Like the fact that it's more of an addiction than a passion. Or else it's a damn near all-consuming passion. One that makes me euphoric when I'm doing it, but leaves me suffering from withdrawal when I'm not. The more we write, the more we want to write. This is good in that few people are lucky enough to find something as constructive to be addicted to. Still, we're stuck in our minds half of the time. The other half is spent with at least a small part of us wishing that we were stuck in our minds and writing. This can (and has) led to some aggravation, embarrassment and tension in the past. Fact is, it's really difficult to maintain a balance when it comes to writing. If I stop paying attention for a few weeks, I spend most of my time bashing out words. And when I say most, I mean at least three quarters of my available time. And it's not like I don't have other things to do. I'm not saying that I just lie down and forget to live my life. I'm saying that part of me is always fighting the urge to write at the expense at some badly neglected part of my life.

Another thing: We're more sensitive than people think. In fact, I'd say we're more sensitive than we'd like to believe. Think about it. If something happens, normal people gloss over it and move on, or store it away to look at once in a while. We don't do that. We put everything away for later. And then when we go poking at those things so that we can get the right words and emotions onto the page. So not only do we feel everything, but we feel them for a long time. Writing is a good way to get those feelings out, but I know from own experience how much it hurts to call up certain memories, but I can't just avoid them, because they'll crop up in my writing whether I want them to or not. So if I don't willingly face something, writing will eventually force me to.

We go digging in the darkest corners of our psyche to find what we need when we're writing. Think about it... those thoughts and emotions that you're giving to the most evil villain that you can imagine? It comes from you. Your own fears. Your own prejudices. All of that comes from the dark places of your own soul. At the same time, all that is good in the story comes from you too. But the fact is, writing puts all of it out there. And most of us hope that our writing will be publicly consumed. I think that if we really think about how much of us goes into what we write, a lot of us would consider giving up. (Except for the fact that our writing addictions would run us ragged.) It opens us to a new and very special world of pain. Especially when it comes to rejection.  

The last point I want to mention is one that got me thinking on these lines in the first place: We're self-aware - sometimes painfully so. When we dig about in our psyches, we discover things that take most people forever to even become aware of. We explore those things, so we get know ourselves better than most people. Think I'm kidding? Find someone you trust and if your conversation turns serious, start talking about who you are. You'll find you're far more aware of what's going on inside of you than your friend about him/herself. Good? Most of the time. Until you find out something that you might not have wanted to know. I recently figured out a big motivation in my life, and it wasn't what I thought. It's actually quite twisted and after I discovered this part of myself, I took weeks to settle into this new awareness. Hell, I'm still not really comfortable and I know that I was doing just fine until I made this discovery. I can't help thinking that I wouldn't even have thought along the lines that lead to my discovery if I hadn't been a writer. 

So was Vita Sackville-West right? Does writing help me "score above my fellows"? I'd say yes, but sometimes there's a cost involved. A high cost? Possibly, but then nothing that's worthwhile comes for free. And right now, there's nothing that feels as worth while as creating and if used correctly and constructively, even the dark side to writing can be to our benefit...

What say you? Thoughts?

Any other dark aspects to add? What gets to you sometimes?

Friday, December 16, 2011

What I did today

Today was spent making one Christmas present (and about four attempts of a quarter of another one). Fun, until the second present started annihilating my right hand. This took seven hours.

My mom and I decorated our Christmas tree. Looks cool, but isn't finished until I finish the presents. Sigh.

And we did all of this listening to carols. Awesome in the beginning, but by hour four it started to grate. Still, I can say that for about three hours I was pretty dang cheerful. Maybe it was that second bookmark that ruined it.

So needless to say, I didn't even look at any of my writing. I'm thinking that a few hours of this mind-numbing repetitive motion might just be good for my writing, but darn, I'm starting to feel the stirrings of frustration now, because I haven't written nearly enough.

Does it happen to you at all that you do something that has to be done, that's food for you because you're taking a break, and all you feel is annoyed?  

Thursday, December 15, 2011

You can teach me to plot? Thanks, but...

I always wonder why people think that there's only one way to write.

Just today I read a tweet about how one can learn how to plot.

But then... why would I?

I mean, I do just fine pantsing (at two finished drafts and a third in progress). No one's going to drop dead when I pants.

Why do people always think that plotting is better? The only thing that plotting does for me is give me an excuse to procrastinate while I write down what I already knew what was supposed to happen. Otherwise it discouraged me because I didn't know every detail before I started writing.

You know what? It doesn't matter not having all the details. That's what the first draft is for: to find out what the heck is going on in the story.

Because there's a big difference between what you think is happening and what happens when you write it down.

Still, I will never go as far as to say that pantsing is superior to plotting in any way. Pantsing has its own drawbacks, the main one being "painting yourself into a corner". Then there's also the blocks that happen because you don't know how to start what happens next. Or the gaping plot holes. And so on and so forth.

But here's the kicker: I enjoy fighting myself out of my self-created corner situations. I like not knowing too much about the story when I start. It gives me my sense of adventure. I enjoy the mental gymnastics involved in solving the plot holes once I get to them.

And no matter what, there's one big reason why I don't plot. I used to plot all of my stories. Every single one. Seven of them in total. How many did I finish? Zip. How many did I get half way? Zero. How many did I get quarter way: Two (I think) before I dumped them because they had no soul.

So I have no reason why I'd want to plot. Not even the smallest of reasons. The only thing approaching plotting that I do is making a point of knowing how the story ends.

So if you're a plotter. Kudos to you. Especially if you're good at it.

If you're not. So what? As long as you get your stories done, that's fine. And if you're new to this writing business, don't ever believe it when someone says it's better to plot.

Unless you've pantsed for years and through many stories and failed to finish one.

What do you think? Is there really a better way to write a novel?

Are you a plotter or a pantser? What about your preferred style makes it suit you?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ann Carbine Best on Self Publishing

Hi all! Today I welcome Ann Carbine Best to My First Book. She's definitely one of my favorite bloggers out there, a lady worth listening to and one who I look up to. So please head over to her blog to say hi.

Thanks, Misha, for hosting me today and letting me talk about my two stories that I recently self-published: how it worked out for me and if I would self-publish again. 

My debut memoir In the Mirror: A Memoir of Shattered Secrets was published by a small press, and they did a great job with my story. It’s still selling, especially for the Kindle, and has garnered excellent reviews. But I’m seventy-one years old with not a lot of time left to wait for responses to queries. And if I did land an acceptance for my next novel-length memoir in progress, I would be in the queue with other authors, our manuscripts waiting for attention on a sometimes overworked editor’s desk.

So, for these reasons, and because the reading public, as several blogger followers have recently affirmed, don’t have the time to read long books; and because I had two stories in my files that I thought might be interesting to others, stories that I have reworked over the years (An Ozark Memory was a prize-winning story); and because I’ve always enjoyed a challenge, I decided to self-publish them.

So I took a deep breath….and meticulously followed Mark Coker’s marvelous style guide (free) for Smashwords. I had no problems with this. Kindle Direct Publishing on Amazon wasn’t as easy, but I finally figured it out . . . after many very long hours of trials and errors!

Things to think about before you decide to self-publish:

You’re on your own with cover art, formatting, and trailers. Roland Yeomans recently left this comment on my blog: “John Locke says 99 cents is the way to go to attract readers. Having to pay for my cover art, formatting, and trailers led me to charge 2.99 or 1.99 for most of mine, though I have 3 99 cent-er’s.”

I was fortunate to have a friend who wouldn’t have charged me but she’s a young woman recently divorced with three young children, and so I paid her. Formatting: I did this myself. Trailers: I didn’t do any and don’t intend to. Thus, not much up front for these details.

You have control over financial details. I did put up my novelette-length story Imprisoned for $2.99 then changed it to $.99. This is something you can easily do as a self-published author. I think this is a plus. You can also go into Smashwords’ author dashboard and Amazon’s KDP author bookshelf and make changes if you find errors in your text after publication. I finally discovered how easy this is to do, although it does take longer on Amazon but less than twelve hours (they say it can take up to 24 hours, but it never did for me) for the changes to be finalized.

I also didn’t have to pay for a proofreader because I was confident I could do this myself. I’ve worked as a professional proofreader, and also as a college teacher of grammar, and did an editing intern when I was working on my bachelor’s degree in English. I also have a great critique partner who looked for problems with structure and content. 

After I published the stories, I downloaded each one to my Kindle and Nook to make certain I had caught all the errors. Next time around - if I self-publish again - it won’t be so stressful because I now know how to do it!

It’s a bit scary. You alone have to put out a product that’s free of mechanical errors. Such errors as well as formatting problems are the two most criticized areas of self-published works. I know because I’ve seen them in some of the self-published books I’ve read. Not all, but some. More and more I find self-publishing authors putting out excellent products, and I wanted to be one of them. So I sent my stories to two readers, and kept re-reading them also in several different formats, including a printout.

And you have to do your own promotion. I’m a rather shy person, but I’ve become more outgoing after sixteen months of blogging and promoting my debut memoir. You pretty much have to do most of the promotion yourself even if you go the traditional route.

What do you think? For me it’s being able to say, “I did it.” Now it’s up to my readers to decide if I did it well.

Thanks so much for this interesting post, Ann. You mentioned some things that I really have to think about when I have to decide how I'm going to get my works in progress out there.

Now for those of you interested in checking out Ann's books or to read more about Ann, you can go to Amazon, Smashwords, or to her blog.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Yes... I am still alive.

This picture pretty much sums up how I've felt for the past two weeks. The week before, that, I didn't write because of a string of interviews for a job.

Didn't get it. No matter.

I just had to take a few breaths, get back to writing and...

Oh yeah. The day of the last interview, me, my gran and my mother returned home to find the power off. My puzzled mom (who had paid the usual amount to our real estate agent) phoned the municipality to find out what happened to our electricity.

She was referred to accounts and was told that the power was cut because of the fact that my mother owed them R12000. Ahem...

That's *cough* six times our monthly consumption.

It's also more than what an average worker earns in a month. About three times as much in fact.

So... two weeks in the dark was spent with me stewing in my own juices.

Still, it was somewhat fun, but by yesterday the novelty of boiling water on a gas stove (which we had waiting around in the kitchen), the silence and the time spent with the family (after sunset we played cards to keep ourselves busy) was gone.

Now I'm back, but the ramifications of those two lost weeks only hit me now. I was supposed to finish a significant portion of my rewrites in that time. I was supposed to start editing Doorways again.

And here I am, staring at the computer because I don't know which one I should focus on first.

Still, I'm glad to be back and more than a little glad to be.

Anything interesting happen while I was gone?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fabulosity Galore

My friend and fellow blogger, Wendy Ewurum, has opened a new virtual bookstore called Fabulosity Galore.

The official announcement reads:

Fabulosity Galore is an online book store and blog created and run by Wendy G. Ewurum, author of Fabulosity Reads (a book review blog).

We are affiliated to a number of booksellers amongst which are and Our affiliations are increasing constantly in a quest to find the best book and accessory deals in the market.

We also aim to make the best effort to prominently feature books which have been reviewed by us at Fabulosity Reads . This is a quest to support our writer friends and favourite books in their promotional and sales endeavours.

Readers are more than welcome to submit their bookish requests and comments to us.

And last but not least: we also welcome news from writers about any promotional activities concerning works/books.

We hope to build incredible and long-lasting relationships with our buyers, retailers, authors and publishers and cannot wait to hear from you or meet your at our store.

I think this might just be an interesting idea. What do you think?

By the way, if you need extra convincing to go look, there's a competition going on for 5 $10 amazon vouchers.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Finding Inspiration

Hi all! Welcome to this year's last installment of GPF. Today I welcome Nutschell to My First Book.

Nutschell (pronounced new-shell and not nut-shell) is a middle grade/ young adult fantasy writer who hails from the Philippines and now lives in sunny Los Angeles. She is an SCBWI-LA Board member, and the founder of the Torrance Children’s Book Writers (which will become the Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles starting January, 2012). A Jane-of-all-Trades, Nutschell’s interests include photography, travel, sketching, playing the guitar and drums, playing basketball, badminton, billiards, and singing in the shower. She also practices the Filipino martial art of Escrima, and bakes yummy marshmallow cloud cookies.

Take it away, Nutschell!

As storytellers we are creative by nature. We can build worlds that inspire the imagination, create characters that readers fall in love with, give words to feelings that often go undefined, and weave stories that live on long after we’re gone.

People might think of us as magical beings who can pull stories from thin air and spin them into best-selling novels in three days. But the truth is that we are human beings who live normal lives, and have the same problem with time and money as everyone else.

We write whenever we can, wherever we can—and we also write whatever we can. We dabble in poetry, try our hand essays and screenplays, and fill our notebooks with unfinished novels. 

Sometimes, we encounter the dreaded writer’s block and we run out of things to say. We run out of topics and story ideas, and yet we still continue to write. We make lists just to have something to write. We write notes and letters, type text messages, and tweets all because we can’t stop our fingers from doing what we know we were born to do—write and tell stories. 

In order for our writing to be worth our time, and to be of any importance to the world, however, we must come up with stories that matter not only to us, but to others as well. We have to come up with a story that’s worth writing. 

How do we do this? Where do we get these worthy story ideas? 

The great Judy Blume, at the SCBWI Summer Conference, said, “I write on the day something happens.”

In order to come up with story-worthy ideas, we have to leave the comfort of our desks, break the cycle of our dreary routines, and make something happen. Tasting an exotic new dish, trying out a new scent, listening to music we normally avoid, reading books of different genres, even watching movies made long before our time, are all great ways of inspiring our creative minds.   

Local events happen daily—book signings, street fairs, farmers markets, concerts, lectures, parties, random soccer matches. We can invite friends and family to attend any of these with us. They’ll be happy for a change in scenery, and we might get great ideas just by experiencing something new. 

If there’s nothing going in our neck of the woods, we could create our own event. We can pick up a map of our city and explore areas that seem interesting, or that have some historical significance. We could do an activity we’ve never tried before. A visit to a local psychic might yield some interesting mystery or fantasy story ideas. Going on a hot-air balloon ride, or kayaking might spur an adventure story. Attending a renaissance fairs, wine-tasting events, or taking self-guided tours to a nearby historical site (or even around our neighborhood) might give us ideas for that historical novel we’ve always wanted to write. 

We must always be on the look out for sensory experiences that spark electric ideas. 

Conversations heard on subway rides could become dialogues in our novels, the smell of a stranger’s sour breath, or her sweet perfume might trigger a memory in our minds that turns into a story, someone’s unconscious habit of twiddling her thumbs could become a character’s quirk. 

Story ideas come from all around us. We gather them from our own memories, events we live through, people we meet or see on the streets, books we read, movies and TV shows we watch, or strong emotions we feel. The more we experience, the deeper our well of ideas become.

So go ahead and seize every opportunity to discover the joys of life. Make something happen—then write.

The best way to come up with story-worthy ideas is to live a story-worthy life.

***My special thanks to the wonderful Mish having me here today, and to you all for stopping by to read my ramblings.

Thanks for such a fitting end to GPF 2011, Nutschell.

So... Have you ever given something new a try just to stimulate your muse?

Then I have another question. Have you enjoyed GPF? Think I should let it continue next year?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Oh for the love of lamb!

Sigh. Today is one of those days. I have a rewrite waiting for me at a particularly juicy place. I mean I got to it yesterday and thought that I would write the scene today and have a lovely burst of productivity that will maybe help me to do a few thousand words.

All wonderful in theory except that I forgot it's my cooking turn. So when I remembered this, I went to the fridge and - since it's mouth end - found my options limited to unrecognisable frozen meat that looked like brisket and unrecognisable frozen meat looking like chops.

I chose the latter and got the directive to make a stew so that we could use the sauce on our krummelpap. So I did the preparations, chucked in the meat and checked on the brew regularly.

And found to my dismay that it is in fact neck. Now I love neck when it is well cooked and soft. What I don't like is cooking neck, because it takes as long as it takes to cook.

In other words, it has been on the stove for three hours and counting, with me checking at 15 minute intervals that the brew doesn't cook dry.

Not the most productive way to write. *Sob*

I only hope that the stew looks like this once it's done:

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my U.S. friends!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tips for Getting to the NaNoWriMo Finish Line

Hi all! Although I'm no longer doing NaNo, and although I know a lot of you already won, I decided to post this guest post. It's for those of you who have to push hard to get your WiP done on time and really want to win. Just a few more tips. :-) Thank you for sending me this post, Emily.

Tips for Getting to the NaNoWriMo Finish Line

Writing a novel in a month, as NaNoWriMo participants do, is an exciting and exhilarating, but often frustrating, experience. You have 30 days to write 50,000 words. This means that you have to overcome plot difficulties and deal with writer's block in only 720 hours. But remember, this isn’t a job, and you’re not going to be graded. You shouldn’t hold yourself to the same standard you would your thesis in a masters degree program. If you're stuck, the following tips that can get you through it.

Join in Word Wars
Word wars are 5, 10, 15, or 20 minute blocks of time where you type as much as you can as fast as you can. It gets you writing and the challenge with other writers can boost you up. Since NaNoWriMo is about quantity of words and not quality of words, this gets you to stop thinking and start typing.

Kill a Character
This technique can lead to a whole array of complications and things to write about, even if that means spending 10 pages describing the funeral.

Throw in a Dream
If you have a dream sequence, not only can it reveal something to your character (even if it's something like they're allergic to bread), but it can get you past the "I'm stuck" mantra. If you must, turn it into a recurring dream.

Visit the NaNoWriMo Forums
These are a great place to laugh, seek advice and commiserate with the others are participating in the event.

Take a Break
Stop writing. Walk the dog. Stretch. Eat. It sounds silly, but a break can reduce your anxiety and may even lead to the perfect solution to your character's problem.

NaNoWriMo is a time of coffee, sleep deprivation, plot terrors, and, if you work at it, success. If you've always dreamed of writing "that story," now's the time to do it. Get your fingers on the keyboards and start typing. You can do it.

Thanks again for the post, Emily! My questions for all my writing friends: What tricks do you have to finish NaNo?

Monday, November 21, 2011

I have come to a decision

Some of you might have suspected as much since I've become so quiet about it recently, but today I made my final decision to step out of the NaNoWriMo race.
I still love my draft. Passionately. It's just that I have never been a fast drafter. Doorways took 3 years. WiP2 took more than a year.

The reason for this is in the way my mind works when I write. I don't know if I'm the only person who writes like this, but when I start writing, it's almost as if I write from my subconscious. So when something in the story isn't working, my words will stop completely until I figure out what's wrong. Sadly, because my writing isn't really cerebral as much as intuitive, figuring out the problem requires a considerable amount of waiting until the answer occurs to me.

And that is exactly what happened with Don't Look Back.

I used to be worried about my "writers blocks" all the time, until I realized how vital they were to my creative methods. Now I don't mind them at all. I just forgot how bad they can be on an incredibly tight schedule. Like... say... giving myself a month deadline.

In the mean time I will be working on the WiP2 rewrite for the time being, since I'm still craving some more neutrality on Doorways before I can edit again.

So what about my NaNo buddies? Who's done? Who fell down by the wayside like me? And the non-NaNoers? How are your writing travails going?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Be Inspired to Be You

Hi all! Today I welcome Jenna Quentin to My First Book. Jenna's a health nut, evangelical hippy, who loves the cheese and wine of her adopted country France. She writes for teen and middle grade magazines and random websites. Her current work in progress is a middle grade novel called The Magicless, set in a parallel universe that looks like modern France. She blogs at Meandering in a Field of Words about things from life, movies and books that are inspiring or examples of inspiration. She's on Twitter @JennaQuentin and on facebook as Jenna Quentin.

Take it away, Jenna!

Be Inspired to Be You

We all wanna be J.K. Rowling or Nathan Bransford or somebody. We think of changing kids' lives with the words over which we agonized. We imagine having a grant to support us while we write full-time. We dream of the house we'll buy in the Pyrénées mountains when we sell the film rights. We say we do it because we love it, because it's in our souls, because we'd shrivel up and die if we didn't. But I think we all dream of being writer rock stars or young adult fiction idols.

Like Emerson's transparent eyeball, taking in information without being observed, I try to be very thirsty sponge soaking up everything around me and using it for inspiration. I recently saw this music video by my beautiful Michael Bublé (ok, he's not mine). It spoke to me about my writerly aspirations and believing in myself. 'Cause most days I feel like if I'm not a blazing glorious success, that I should just give up. RRRRR. Wrong answer.

I'm not saying that we should not aim high. But there's a difference between being all we can be and being thinking that we have to be a particular something in order to be at our best. How can we be realistic in our goals, but still shoot for the stars?

I don't know the answer for everyone. But I want to encourage any writers or starving artists or dreamers..."Keep on lovin' what is true, and the world will come to you, you can find it in yourself."

What is your dream? Do you have a song that lifts you up when you need it, that keeps you dreaming and says you can achieve it?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NaNo Day 15: Oh for a sweet distraction

Something dangerous is happening. Well, dangerous to the success of this year's NaNo.

My muse is going all: Well, this is sweet, but let's go looking at Doorways. Or even your western. Remember? The two that are already done but need some polish?

Yeah. My muse is a heinous bitch sometimes.

So here I am, fighting really hard to focus on my NaNo project, but the words are slowing down, because I'm spending half the time reminding myself that I am in fact in draft mode and that I don't have time to do edits on anything.


Anyone have any advice?

Monday, November 14, 2011

NaNo Day 14: Setting up a sequel

Hi all! Firstly, I want to thank all of you who were kind enough to vote for Troublemaker during the Rule of Three blogfest. It got second place. *SQUEEE!*

As for NaNo, I've hit the middle patch, which is always fun. You know the one, where it feels like you're sipping yogurt through a tiny straw or as if you're mucking out a mud bath.

Fortunately, I think this isn't a plot based problem (at least not much of one). I set up lots of lovely things to happen for the next 25k. My biggest problem is linking it up, since my characters seem to have this annoying habit of going underground and waiting things out. Smart? Definitely. Exciting? Only for the first few hundred words.

In the mean while, a new character appeared, who annoys the crap out of all three my guys. So, since I am such a benevolent and loving creator, I will probably write her into a sequel featuring at least two of them. *Cue evil chuckle.*

Anyway: Meet Agent Sylvia Regatti.

So that's pretty much my NaNo news for now. How are things going for you? 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tips for After NaNoWriMo

It's that time of the year again, November, when thousands upon thousands of aspiring writers bang away at their keyboards, aiming to write 50,000 words for the challenge that is NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. That’s about 1,666 words a day – the devil’s number.

"Drinking is an emotional thing. It joggles you out of the standardism of everyday life, out of everything being the same. It yanks you out of your body and your mind and throws you against the wall. I have the feeling that drinking is a form of suicide where you're allowed to return to life and begin all over the next day. "
~ Charles Bukowski

(Humor me. Change the word drinking to writing.)

So, go ahead, grab the tail of devil, slam down a proverbial shot or two (for those of you who inspire to be as prolific as Bukowski) and get writing. Personally, I think NaNoWriMo is a great way to get those creative juices flowing. But you have to remember, once the buzz has worn off, and NaNoWriMo ends, the real work begins.

It’s time to sober up, to take those beer goggles off and ask yourself: is this manuscript as good looking as I think it is?

If you’re honest with yourself, you know it’s time for a little writing rehab. That baby is one hot mess. She needs to be cleaned up.

Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Rather than going for the hair of the dog in December, there is only one way to cure a word hangover: take a little break, if not for you, for your manuscript. Once your head is clear, it’s time to edit, to polish, and then edit again. You may even want to call in some support for early feedback – beta readers, the AA of writers. And then it’s time to edit and to polish and edit again.

Please, don’t fall of the wagon! If you query too early or decide to self-publish, say in December, your manuscript will find itself on that embarrassing road called Rejection, or worse, stumbling down the walk of shame!

I'm not participating in NaNoWriMo this year. But I have done it in the past and I was proud of my accomplishment. I also scrapped most of what I’d written, keeping only what worked. In my case, it was about 50%. But 50% of something was better than nothing. For me, the purpose of the challenge wasn’t to complete a finished manuscript in record time. No, simply put, I signed up for NaNoWriMo to accomplish three things: to improve my craft, to join a network and support like minded individuals, and, most importantly, to write.

For those of you who are doing the challenge this year, I’m raising a glass of champagne in your honor –  writing 50,000 words is no easy task. Cheers and good luck! And, most of all, have fun!

It is time to get drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of Time, get drunk; get drunk without stopping! On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, as you wish.” -Charles Baudelaire

If this post has left you thirsty for more NaNoWriMo inspiration, check out the following links.

1) Chuck, at Terrible Minds, has written a list of NaNoWriMo do’s and don’t’s. You’ll leave his post ready, and I quote, to rock NaNoWriMo’s face off.

2) Get inspired. Check out this YouTube video, I am the very model of a NaNoWriMo individual, complete with a chorus of singing animal puppets. It’s ridiculously awesome! (And, yes, that was an adverb.)

3) Stay positive! Ignore the naysayers!

 Thanks for having me, Misha. Meet you at the bar for happy hour in December???

Sounds great! Just say when and where. ;-) Thanks for the great advice, Samantha!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NaNo Day 8: An unforeseen windfall

Yep, I just got a call that I have to go be an extra at a movie set tomorrow, so I'm heading over to crash at a friend's house for the night. Tomorrow might be a long working day, so I might be away from my computer.

So basically, I'll possibly hit 20k sometime today or tomorrow. Maybe. I just won't be able to update much.

What's news at your end of the world?

Oh and, if you haven't yet, please please please go check out the final entries for the  Rule of Three Blogfest. We all need your votes. You have until Friday to vote.

Monday, November 7, 2011

NaNo Day 7: News

I got great news today! Not NaNo related, but writing related, so it totally counts.

I have been shortlisted for the Rule of Three Blogfests top entries.

*SQUEE* I can't tell you how happy I was to get the news. There is something deeply gratifying to know that what I wrote was enjoyed by others. :-)

If I do say so myself, the entries that made it to the short list as some great reads and the entrants need YOU!

See, the winner is appointed by vote, so we need to get as many voters as possible to go read the six entries and pick the one they liked most. So if you need a break from your frenzied writing endeavors, please head over and give the six finalists' entries a read. I promise you it's worth it. Click here to find the links and the polls. Votes stay open until 11:59 P.M. GMT on 11 November.

Now... To NaNo. I finally reached my 4k goal on Saturday and followed that up by a nice rest on Sunday. What can I say? I'm a hedonist.

The rest was worth it. I reached 15k a few minutes ago after one seriously intense scene. I did 1500 words in about half the time I did before.

So what happened, you may ask?

I'm not going to tell you, but it does involve something similar to this...

Intrigued? Good. ;-) See you tomorrow for another update?

What about you? Reach any NaNo and non-NaNo goals since Saturday?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

NaNo Day 5: The Stuff Just Got Real

Not for me, though. Just my characters. I'm over the 11k line.

So yeah, for me it's still going well. For the doctor and the fed... Not so much.

And... things just got really complicated for Aleria.

Rule of Three Blogfest: Troublemaker

Part 1: Laine Masterson

Blue… Red… Blue… Red… My SUV’s strobes bring a grim festivity to the scene. Smashed guitars lie next to upturned amplifiers buzzing the sky for help.

Too late for the victim.  

Bile rises to my mouth as I throw a glance at the corpse hanging in a nearby tree. This doesn’t happen in Renaissance.  

“Probably did it in a meth rage,” one of my deputies mumble on the way to the victim.
“Or a ritual,” another mutters. “You know how they are.”
“Looks like a piñata.”  

I rub my arms to settle my hackles and walk away. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman, but the person hanging from the tree beaten beyond recognition is as far from a candy-stuffed paper animal as I could think. Except for the blood stained baseball bats strewn about.  

“See if you can get prints on those.” Is it wrong that my blood is buzzing? It’s been years since I quit the NYPD, came home… I shake it off and stare up at the mangled person. The remains of the green and blue mohawk marking the victim as one of them.

Blood drips down from his tight fist. What’s he holding?

“Laine?” Mr. Piñata - Jack Flynn - sounds hesitant now. “What can I do?”
“Find the caller yet?”
“Nope. I’ll go round up the rest of the punks and see if we can scare out a quick confession.”

I frown at Jack, hunting for a nice way to cut him down. Policing isn’t about taking anything for granted. It’s about finding truth and justice. If it existed.  

This isn’t New York. I forget that sometimes. I’ll see everyone at church tomorrow.  

A bitter bark of laughter draws us both around to where one deputy is sidling away from a girl about my son’s age. Dried tears and mascara warp her face. Smudged black lips jump from laughter to crying until sobs win out. “We’re different, so we’re evil?”  

Jack looks ready to speak, but I silence him with a single look. Shut up or be suspended without pay.

I choose to avoid the topic altogether. “Let’s move away from the scene.”  
The girl combs her fingers through her bright pink hair. “Ray was a good person.”

Jack snorts before sauntering to where the medical examiner is unloading his pick-up.   

“Ray?” I run my thoughts through the families I know in town. 
“Sean Drummond.”
Shit. His parents sit two rows in front of me. “Were you here when it happened?”
Her pink bob weaves as she nods. “We all were. It was supposed to be a concert.” She wipes her nose on the back of her mittened hand. “A fun night out.”
“What happened?”
“They came out of nowhere and started beating people. Most of us ran, but Ray…”
My heart contracts at that word. They. Would I know them? “They?”
The girl snarls as she stares up at the victim. “Yes. They. The jocks. The town’s little angels.”

Part 2: Keith Masterson

Where is it? Not under my unmade bed, not in any of my shoes lying around unused. I pick up my clothes and shake them.


No chain. No class ring.  

Wait… maybe it’s being washed with my clothes. Maybe it’s being sucked into the washing machine’s innards or to that place where socks go.  

Or maybe I lost it somewhere outside. My stomach turns at the ground that covers. I’d been everywhere this week and I can’t remember when the ring wasn’t hanging around my neck.  


Mom is so going to kill me.  

The front door slams shut, hitting me like a thunder clap. Of course she’d show up now. The ring has to wait. There’s no way I’m going to tell her I’d lost Dad’s class ring. What do I do? Go greet her? No. That will tip her off that something's up.

I fling myself onto my bed and grab some book next to it. It’s barely open before she appears by my door. I take one look at her tired eyes and muddy boots and my heart stutters.

“Who died?” Her frown makes me want to bite my tongue off. A hundred ways to introduce the topic and I fall into the worst one. Shit she makes me nervous when she stares.

“How did you know someone died?”  

Because I’d spoken to Brad minutes ago and news traveled fast in a shithole like Renaissance. Because she’d been out working since yesterday morning, adding the tally to about 50 hours. Because she looked like hell.

I put the book aside. “Murders always hit you hardest.”  

Maybe I should just dig my tongue out with a spoon.

She didn’t miss that mistake either. “How did you know it’s murder?”


“Do you know who did this?”  

Shit. Just what I was worried about. Do I or don’t I finger Brad and the boys? Damn it I have to keep cool. “Mom! This is Renaissance.”  

She blinks a few times. “Right.” Rubs the spot between her brows. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to go all cop on you.”  

Mom never goes cop. She is cop. 

“It’s ok. Will you make it to the game?”  

Mom’s mouth turns down and her eyes go distant on me. What’s on her mind?


“I don’t know. I’m hoping to solve this thing fast. The last thing this town needs is another unsolved tragedy.”

A waste of space like Sean Drummond was hardly tragic, but I keep that thought very far from my face.  

“Had any friends over while I was gone?”  

Her eyes burn mine and my palms sweat. She isn’t asking for no reason. She’s asking for my alibi. This is my last chance. Either I finger my team or I cover for them. Whatever I decide, I have to stick with it no matter what. Not much of a choice. Captains watch out for their teams.  

Can Mom notice my heart drumming in my throat?

“Yeah, I had the guys over for pizza. Hope you don’t mind.”
“When was this?”
“Last night.”
Her face brightens a little. “What about I grill us some steaks?”
I want to throw up, but I summon a reply to her smile. “Sounds great. If you’re not too tired.”  

She shakes her head and kicks off her shoes before slipping away.  

When the banging of pans reaches me, I shut the door and pull my cell from my jeans.  
Come on man… we rattle some cages. Straighten them out. No biggie.  
Yeah. Right.

Oh. I remember where I lost the ring.

Part 3: Molly Parker

Laine Masterson is a local legend. She might even be able to bring the jocks down.

Able. Yes.



She analyzes me from my black hair to the edge of the table between us. “Thank you for coming in, Molly.”
Her office is weird. Neat. No pictures. No belongings except for the bubbling percolator filling the air with a promise of coffee. “Please call me M. I’m not a Molly.”
“M, then.” She reaches for her legal pad, clicks her pen and pins the Masterson stare on me. 

I will not flinch.

“You said that the jocks killed Ray. Did you see them?”
Here we go. Excuse fishing. “They wore masks.” 
“Hear them?”

“Yeah, but their voices were muffled.” I lie back into my chair to get comfortable for the legal runaround. “But I know it was them.” 
Laine’s brows deepen the one prominent line on her face. “How?” 
“Since the Movement started, the jocks tried to get us in line.” 

She doodles something. “Movement?”
“It’s what we call ourselves. Anyone else would call us punks.” 
Her eyes turn back to me. “What do you mean ‘get us in line’?” 
“They’d jump us. Harass us. Spread rumors.” 
“Did you report it?” 

How I hate those four words. “In the beginning.”
“Why not after?” 
“The first few times I tried, I was told we provoke people. So it’s always our fault.” 

The scratching of pen to paper puts me on edge. Come on insulation.

“Some of my deputies say you guys are troublemakers.”

Why the fuck am I even talking to her?

“No shit. We’re trying to land their football team in jail.”
“My son is the football captain.” 
Ah. There it is. I pull the numbness on like a jacket. Now it doesn’t hurt as much to speak. “Well then. I see I’ve wasted your time.” 

Laine shakes her head and pours me a cup of coffee. She pushes the mug across the table with a sugar pot. No milk. “So this attack on Ray was unprovoked?”
“I wouldn’t say that.”
“The time before this, we fought back. We got them good.” I add an extra spoon of sugar to compensate for the lack of milk. “They got us better. Ray was our source of strength.” 
“He told you to fight back?” 
“The night he was killed, why didn’t he run?”
“He tried to reason with them. To get this madness to stop.” 

If I was alone I’d cry. Because of loss. Because of anger. Because this is a game I’m going to lose.

I sip my coffee instead. It goes rancid in my mouth as memories of that night taunt me. The crack of Ray’s bones against wood. Ray’s blood speckling the killers with every hit he takes. Their howling shouts as they hit him some more. His pleads for mercy provoking them to lynch him.

Laine’s cell phone goes off yanking me back to now. She takes the call. “Describe it.”

Her rage rolls over me as she disconnects. She shoots out of her chair and hurls the phone across the room.  The shattered pieces tinkle to the floor as she draws her anger into herself.

It’s like watching the creation of a black hole.

“We identified one of the killers.”

So they’d done their job for once. So will the defence attorneys. Justice will miss the court date.

I will not cry.
So I laugh.  

Part 4: Laine Masterson 

Everything jars me. Every breath drums against my chest. Air burns my lungs. My heart beats quake through my body. All I can think of is the ring lying in an evidence bag. In the morgue. Like a message from the dead. What are you going to do? 

What am I going to do?  

My merciful mind flings me back to an easier time. To the perfume of warmed chocolate and fresh cookies. Keith with doe eyes and crumbs on his chin. “No mom, I didn’t steal any cookies.”  

I never notice the bustle in the offices anymore. I notice it now that it stops in consternation and shock.   

Maybe I should have told the staff that Jack would be bringing Keith in. But then, this is Renaissance. News could have reached Keith before Jack did.  

Keith. My son.  

I got him arrested.  

Guilt slams into me like a bullet to the head.    

Keith frowns as Jack leads him into my office. “Mom?”
“Sit down. Jack? Please bring us some bagels.”
Jack doesn’t bat an eyelash as he leaves.  

He should have. I shouldn’t be here, drowning in a conflict-of-interest soup.  


Keith’s prodding settles me a little. He always does it when I space out on him. I glance his way, knowing that I’m at the edge of disaster. If he really did have something to do with this… Do I really want to know?   

I close my eyes, unable to face him as I drop the bad news on his head. “Your father’s class ring was found in Sean Drummond’s hand.”  

A deep gust of breath rushes out of him. I open my eyes in time to see him putting his facial expression back together. “Oh?”  

What do I do? How do I react? “I have evidence putting you at the crime scene and all you say is ‘oh’?”  

He shifts forward in his chair, his face greying. “What sort of evidence? Only the ring?”  

The homicide detective in me snaps back before I do. She pipes up before I know to stop her. “DNA.”  

Any remorse I might have felt for the lie vanishes as I watch his grey skin turn a waxy white.  

“Impossible what? Impossible you weren’t there or impossible you’re too slick to leave evidence?” Det. Masterson’s on a roll.
Keith rubs both his hands down his face. “Mom! Could you be my mother for just a second?”  

So helpless. Like the boy he once was, left at home when I got called. All that time that we could have spent together… The least I can do now is have his mother present too.

I kneel down in front of him, grasping his knees and looking up into his terrified eyes.  

“Tell me you didn’t kill Sean.”

I wish with all that I am I didn’t spot his convulsive swallow.   

“I didn’t kill him.”  

No mom, I didn’t steal any cookies.