I did it! by Cayenne Michaels

I actually did it!

And I think it’s taken me almost up to now to realize it.

A couple of weeks ago I packed up my whole house. Well, technically the brick building is still standing, but I stashed all our belongings into the spare guest room and basement. Then I jumped on a plane to move halfway across the world. To study literature. Continue reading

Hidden treasures by Cayenne Michaels

Let’s talk about inspiration.

Namibrand 1

Where does it come from? Is it stored inside of us and stirred awake when we encounter something in our everyday life that brings out this hidden treasure we never knew we carried?

Or, is it handed to us, as a gift, by someone or something that has you or me are the perfect person to see its true potential?

Elizabeth Gilbert says:

The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.

Have you found any yet? Please…share them with us in the comments field. As writers I think we all know how to appreciate them. We know how precious these discoveries are. Continue reading

Let’s Start At The Beginning by Emma Marie Leigh

You’ll have to forgive me. I’ve been suffering from a case of writer’s block so thick, I’ve been stumbling over what my post would be about all week. I have this awesome idea about tropes that I love, but it’ll have to be your dose on my next segment. Continue reading

Just the Facts, Ma’am: Tips on creating characters with emotional relevance

by E. M. Youman

Sniff, sniff. Why am I dabbing my eyes, you ask? I just finished watching season three of Once Upon a Time. I think it’s rife with great storytelling tips for beginning writers. Spoiler alert: If you haven’t been watching this awesome show, stop reading. Go fire up Netflix and then come back and read this article. I’ll be talking about some pivotal scenes from the show. Continue reading

Writer’s resolutions 2016 by Cayenne Michaels

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

(called out in a, hopefully, cheerful voice)

I’m so not the right blogger to write the festive season post.

I’m traumatized by childhood memories of polishing silver, cleaning the porcelain and hurting my back from pulling out the couch to remove the colony of dust balls that had sought shelter there since last Christmas. They knew it was the only place in the whole house where they’d be safe from the vacuum cleaner until next year’s Christmas clean. These were just a few of the points on Mom’s endlessly long list of Things to Do and we worked our asses off up to the afternoon on Christmas Eve.

When dusk finally settled and Mom could do nothing more than fret over her mother-in-law (also called The Dragon) and stare through the foggy glass front of the stove, as if she could will the pork rib to roast to perfection, the rest of the family (except The Dragon, I suspect) would sigh in relief and silently vow to eat whatever came out of that stove, regardless how burnt or raw it was. (It took me a while, but as an adult I’ve realized the pressure of catering for a mother-in-law who’s keen to grade everybody’s effort, and why my dad would insist he’d have to make certain the aquavit (Norwegian schnapps) was still drinkable, long before the dinner guests arrived.) Continue reading

The Genre Love Triangle of Doom by Matt Mansfield

A little more than 40,000 words into my very first novel, I realized that I was trapped in a genre love triangle of doom that looks something like this:

The Genre Love Triangle of Doom

I didn’t mean to get here. In fact, I purposely worked hard to avoid this situation. Yet here I am and now I’ve gotta’ get myself untangled before my book goes the way of the dodo.

Continue reading

No man is an island… by Cayenne Michaels

Entirely of itself,

Every man is a piece of a continent,

A part of the main.

John Donne

It’s something we take for granted in our everyday life. Most of us, at least. We might feel like eccentric outsiders. I can’t be the only one that has a tendency to occasionally withdraw from conversations, and the apparent lack of interest have caused some tense moments now and then. But you see, in my head an irresistible scene is taking form, where the most gorgeous man says the right words at the right moment, and I join my own heroine in a swooooon– Continue reading

Bundu bashing through a jungle of languages by Cayenne Michaels

It’s a bit ironic that I, as one of the few non-Americans on this blog, have the privilege of wishing all the rest of you a happy 4th July. But here you go: HAPPY 4th July to all of you from O.R. Tambo International Airport in Joburg, South Africa.

If it hadn’t been for a kind soul reminding me, I’d probably forgotten about it altogether. Which, I suppose, in a way, would be quite fitting for this post because it’s about different set of references in a way. Continue reading

Find Your Reader: Banishing “I’ll never be a writer” Myths

In the blogosphere there are wonderful blogs, which discuss what fiction writing is, along with do’s and don’ts of telling stories. But if you’re just starting out writing, it may be helpful to clear up some beginner myths. Here’s three myths, I’m quashing for you.

1. If You don’t like Highbrow Literature, You’re not a Writer

Alfy

I used think I didn’t ‘get’ poetry.  I remember sitting in my sophomore English class reading Robert Frost. Wow. This guy is really smart and I am very stupid. I just didn’t get it. But I wasn’t alone in that room. All of my classmates tried desperately not to fall asleep, as our teacher droned on and on about snowy evenings. So I came away from this, hating poetry. This must be for smart people.

giphy2

But I was wrong.

There’s something out there for everyone

It took me a decade before I ever voluntarily picked up a book of poetry. I was certain I wouldn’t enjoy it, but peer pressure does work.  Everyone I knew talked about how wonderful this female poet was. I figured it was worth one painful read through. It was a best of Maya Angelou book.

You want to learn how to tell a story? Read her. I’m not talking about her often quoted poems, such as “Phenomenal Woman” or “Still I rise”.  My favorite is “They Went Home.” You can read it here. Before Maya, I never knew poetry could be sexy or heartbreaking.

I learned you don’t say “I can’t write,” because you’ve read one way of doing things. You’ve got to read a lot of different things, fiction, non-fiction, genre, literary. Even after that it’ll only represent one percent of the landscape, but it’ll be enough to imagine the possibilities of what kind of story you can add to the world.

 2. No One likes My Story.

I used to send a novel to agents. They always requested to read the full story. This was a good sign. After reading the full story, they always said no.  That was a bad sign. No matter how much I banged my head against the keyboard, I couldn’t figure out why. So I shelved the novel and came back to it a few years later, once I had a few short stories published.  I thought I could tweak it and send it out again. Wrong.  Here’s the cliff notes version of the story.  A girl’s father dies and the mother remarries. The stepfather moves them across the country. Their home is burglarized. THE END.

That’s not a story, that’s a really, really simple outline.

Writing a story is more than just writing the three act structure and making sure your grammar is pristine. You must contend with setting, description, plot, point of view and filter words.

Baby steps grasshopper. Before you can sell a story, you need to know what defines story.  I’ll be honest. Understanding story and storytelling, is like looking at a kaleidoscope.  The longer you stare at it, the more it changes on you. It’s an elusive rabbit, but brushing up on the basics will certainly help change an agent’s no to a yes.

3. But I can’t Write Well

giphy3

What’s that you say? You used to get all A’s in high school English literature. It shouldn’t be that hard to write fiction. It’s not, but you’re working from the wrong playing field.  High school English, is kindergarten for writers. Once you decide to start writing fiction, you’ve moved past simply communicating to painting with words. To paint, you’ll need a whole other set of tools.

I won’t bother making recommendations. There’s literally thousands of “how to write a novel” books. Go on over to Amazon and fall down the rabbit hole for three hours. You’ll come out, with a few you like.

Make sure you’re on the same playing field

I think Ben Yagoda explains it best. I picked up his book ,“How not to Write Badly.” It was perfect, since I know I write badly(smile). In the book, he points out a common problem writers face. Have you ever asked someone to edit your work and they take out things, you know your high school English teacher would frown on? Let’s say your friend removes the comma before and. You know it’s supposed to be there, because you received A’s in English. And it really behooves you to go back over your so called “editor’s” work and put them all back.

Well, Ben says they’re not wrong, they’re just working from a different style guide. What? Yep. Drop that MLA book. Move on over to Chicago. Most, if not all publishers use the Chicago Manual Style guide.

So it’s possible you do like poetry and you can write enough novels to call yourself the Nora Roberts or Judith McNaught of (insert sub-romance genre here). You just need to get rid of those expectations. They’re like stereotypes, they don’t apply to everyone. Go. Write a poem, a haiku, or erotic squirrel romance. Whatever, but no more of that I can’t, or I don’t know. The world needs your fiction. There might be another little girl like me, waiting to be touched by your story, so she can imagine the possible.

About The Author

E.M. Youman is a freelance writer from Oakland, CA. Some of her short stories have been published by Black Cat Press and S/tick Magazine. When she’s not writing fiction, E.M. Youman, works at an independent record label—Will Records. She has a B.A. and Master in Communication and is currently working on her first romance novel.