A Writer’s Prayer

I have been swirling on the responsibility that comes with being a writer.  It’s a blessing and a curse.  We see things that the casual observer misses and then it is up to us to capture that moment with our words.

There are moments that I am struggling with in the upcoming election.  I am scared to write about what I see, but feel compelled to do so.

I’m not a religious person, but I do believe that there is a higher power that guides all of us through life.  These words have been in my heart for the past few months and I will post them so that I can remember them and recite them when I feel weak.

Lord, Guide my pen.

Give me the courage to write my fears.

Give me the strength to combat cruelty with kindness.

Give me the insight to read the minds of men and women.

Give me the artistry to paint the story.

Give me the wisdom to choose words that will reach the hearts of humanity.

Give me the power to be a light in the darkness.


Writing And The Meme-Ing of Life


Over the past year, I traveled into the bowels of the internet.  (Like, seriously, I’ve seen stuff about bowels and I can’t un-see it.)  During these forays within the interweb, I discovered “MEMES.”

What’s a meme?  According to the Urban Dictionary, it is:

“an idea, belief or belief system, or pattern of behavior that spreads throughout a culture either vertically by cultural inheritance (as by parents to children) or horizontally by cultural acquisition (as by peers, information media, and entertainment media)

Blah, blah, blah.  In my middle-aged, formerly project management mind, a meme is just a few sentences on a PowerPoint slide.  The best memes contain funny or provocative thoughts or images.

Who cares?  Why should this matter to a writer?

Because these days, every opportunity to market yourself matters.  And memes are a fantastic way to market your writing.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been studying other parenting websites for the past two years.  Memes generate A LOT of traffic on these blogs.  In fact, most of the memes I’ve seen generate tens of thousands of “Likes,” as opposed to hundreds of “Likes” from their 900-word articles on these sites.

That’s right.  TENS OF THOUSANDS versus HUNDREDS of “Likes” on the site.  As writers, we’d be crazy NOT to harness this meme power for our blogs.

I don’t claim to be a meme expert, but I’m learning how to use them.  Here are my initial thoughts on meme marketing:

BREVITY:  My eyes glaze over on long-winded memes.  Especially with teeny, tiny font.  (Okay, this may also be because I need new glasses.  But I still think this point is valid.)  If you want to write an article, then write an article.  But don’t shove a paragraph from your article onto a meme.  No one will read it.

IMAGES:  There are plenty of great memes with just words on it.  But life and my Facebook newsfeed move fast, so memes with funny images are better at catching my attention when I’m scrolling through Facebook.  The greatest challenge is finding images without copyright restrictions.  Right now, I’m taking pictures in my house.  But I’d rather find a good site with free images for public use.  If I find one, I will share it on another blog post.  With a lot of new memes.

BRANDING:  This takes some thought.  If you want to use memes to market your blog, there should be something like a logo that ties all of them together and leads people back to your site.  At a minimum, your name or site name should be on the meme.  Applying the same font size and type to all of your memes is another way to create a consistent brand.  If your meme is branded properly, someone will be able to just glance at it and know that it comes from your site.

BENEFITS:  Why even bother with memes?  Because people have limited attention spans.  (Look!  A cat just walked by!  I’m sorry, what were we talking about?)  A 2-3 sentence meme with a funny image is an efficient way to deliver a customized message about your writing to your readers.  For example, try Googling David Hasselhoff memes…….  I laughed until I cried the first time I saw these.  (NOTE:  For copyright reasons, I don’t recommend loading them on your blog.  Unless you received The Hoff’s permission to use them, of course.)

TO ANYONE READING THIS:  So, what do you guys think?  Have any of you tapped into your meme potential?  Please let me know!  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the art of MEME-ING.    

Random Thoughts On Writing, Social Media and Cadence

There’s an ebb and flow to writing that I never really thought about until recently.  This applies to the frequency with which a bloggers posts, as well as the rhythm of the piece of writing itself.

I’ve been studying other popular websites to understand how this works.  For example, I’ve written a few pieces for a popular parenting website called Scary Mommy.  This site just crossed the 2 million followers threshold this past week.  It is staffed by a group of writers and posts new content once an hour.  I’m just one person on this blog (A Writing Mama’s Journal) who can barely stay ahead of the two tiny tyrants who rule my house.  There’s no way I can match that pace on my blog.  But loyal Scary Mommy readers expect fresh content at the start of each hour.

So, how frequently should newbie bloggers post on their blogs?  Everything I’ve read suggests as often as possible.  At a minimum of three times a week.  That’s a hard pace to maintain when you’re drowning in small children.  It gets even more challenging if you’re trying to maintain other social media outlets to support the (WordPress) website.

Let me qualify this statement.  Three times a week is hard to maintain if you want to post something GOOD.  (And you want to sleep.)  I could easily throw garbage on this blog every day.  And while I don’t want to get bogged down by perfectionism AGAIN, I don’t want to gravitate to the other extreme of posting crap.

How do I personally define “GOOD” content?  Based on what I read, choosing topics aimed at a specific target audience.  The content should pull at emotions or at a minimum, spark a discussion.  I’m still trying to figure out how to apply this lesson to this blog.  Am I a mom?  A writer?  What is this blog supposed to be?  Is it a parenting site?  A writing site?  A fiction site?  WHAT?????  Although parenting is a large part of my life, I don’t want that to be the only focus of this blog.

It has been far easier for me to maintain a Facebook “blog” (or site) than it has been to maintain this WordPress blog.  In my opinion, Facebook has a superior format for comments.  I’m always making sarcastic comments about the pictures (MEMES!) or articles that I share with my FB friends.  I do the same thing on Scary Mommy.

Comments are the lifeblood of blog engagement.  Without comments, you can kiss your blog growth goodbye.

So, what to do, what to do…….  These are the things that keep me up at night.  It may be time to open my tight fist and fork over some money for a decent website that makes it easier to post comments.  We shall see……


Star Wars Story Structure


Outlines, outlines and more outlines.  I’ve spent the past few days mulling over major milestones of several well-known stories.  I wanted to jot some of them down, because this exercise is helping me feel the cadence of writing an entire novel.

STAR WARS (A New Hope):  I can’t do a post about story structure without discussing STAR WARS!!!!  There are MANY, MANY posts on this topic.  I’ve skimmed a bunch of them and chosen the points that make the most sense to me.  Here goes:

HOOK:  Most of the posts I’ve read online have stated the hook in Star Wars is that Luke Skywalker is a bored young farm boy who longs for adventure.  Now, as a new writer, who am I to question the experts, right?  But as a movie spectator, this was NOT the hook for ME.  What hooked me was Darth Vader storming Leia’s ship and taking her hostage.  I wanted to find out what happened next.  Isn’t that the very definition of a hook?       

INCITING INCIDENT:  This story never would have happened if Luke Skywalker had left R2D2 alone.  But Luke’s adventure begins when he accidentally triggers Princess Leia’s distress message in R2D2.  

PLOT POINT #1:  I always think of this milestone as the “point of no return.”  The hero must make an important decision at this point in the story.  In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker CHOOSES to go with Obi Wan Kenobi to fight the Empire.

PINCH POINT #1:  Ah, yes.  The antagonist makes his presence known in this part of the story.  Luke Skywalker narrowly escapes capture by Imperial Storm Troopers when he tries to leave Tattooine with the droids.

[NOTE:  ENTER THE ALLIES – Luke Skywalker picks up allies (Hans Solo and Chewbacca) who help him escape being caught in this pinch point.]

MIDPOINT:  The story COMPLETELY changes when Luke Skywalker shows up where the rebel base is supposed to be and discovers that the entire planet of Alderaan has been blown up.  Well, if THAT isn’t a game changer, then I don’t know what is.  Oh, wait.  There’s more.  He and his new friends are pulled into the Death Star.  They discover Princess Leia is on the ship.  NEW PLAN!!!  Rescue Princess Leia!

PINCH POINT #2:  Avoiding death by garbage compactor and then escaping the Death Star was a pretty big pinch point……  And let’s not forget the infamous “All Is Lost” moment:  Obi Wan Kenobi dies.  Luke loses his mentor.  This is definitely the bleakest moment in the story.

PLOT POINT #2:  This milestone was a little trickier for me to see clearly in this story.  It’s supposed to be the point when the hero finally attains the final object or piece of information that he or she needs to achieve his or her goal.  After several attempts at trying to detonate the Death Star, Luke finally decides to trust his ability to manage “The Force.”  He shuts off the computer on his ship and just lets The Force guide him.  So, to me, it isn’t that he finally ACQUIRES something – he finally USES something that he always had.  So maybe he acquires confidence?  I’m not sure.

RESOLUTION:  Yay!  The Death Star is blown up and everyone is saved.  Of course, there has to be tangible recognition of the hero’s victory.  What better way to tangibly acknowledge the hero’s victory than an award ceremony?  Princess Leia awards Luke and Han with an award and everyone in the large audience claps.  Woo-Hoo!

Well, that was fun.  It definitely gave me some ideas for the cadence of the Charlie Weaver story.  I hope that this post helped some of you out there too.  Thank you for reading!

My Thoughts On Outlining My First Novel

After a long internal battle, I admit to defeat.  This pant-sing thing isn’t working for me anymore.  (FYI, pant-sing means to write “organically” or to write “by the seat of your pants.”)

I have to outline my story.  I don’t fully understand my resistance to this idea, especially since I’m such a list maker.  I love making lists and checking things off.  An outline is basically a list.  This should be right up my alley.

I honestly thought that just writing a bunch of scenes as they appeared in my head and then lining them up into the semblance of a story would be my process.  No such luck.  I’m a little overwhelmed by all of the directions these characters are taking in my head.  So I need a way to organize them.


Here are the major milestones of story structure, as I remember them:

  • Inciting Incident (Hook)
  • Plot Point #1 (25% mark) – End of Act 1
  • Pinch Point #1 (37.5% mark)
  • Midpoint (50% mark)
  • Pinch Point #2 (62.5% mark)
  • Plot Point #2 (75% mark) – End of Act 2
  • Resolution (80-100%)

I’m going to walk through each of these milestones right now and see if I can write a sentence or two describing what could happen in my story.  For those of you who are new to this blog, I have a borderline nutjob female protagonist named Cassandra (Nick name Sondra, but Cassie to her best friend).  She is a “Sanctimommy” (a.k.a. someone who enjoys telling strangers how to parent their children.).  The male protagonist is Ryan.

INCITING INCIDENT/HOOK:  This milestone kicks off the story.  What’s an interesting way for the male protagonist to meet the female protagonist?  I think I’ll use the scene I already wrote for Day 3 of this challenge.  Ryan encounters Cassandra at the mall, where she pulls a “Sanctimommy” move on him and his best friend’s wife.  (QUESTION:  Is this enough of a hook for a reader?  I don’t know.  But I’m putting this scene in here for now.  I can always change it later.)

PLOT POINT #1:  This milestone is the “point of no return.”  The protagonist has to make a choice that puts him or her on the path of this story.  In this case, I’m going to try this.  Cassie discovers that the jerk she encountered at the mall and the coffee shop (Ryan) is actually her professor and she MUST take his class to graduate on time.  She chooses to grit her teeth and see the semester through.  They can’t avoid each other.  Point of no return.

PINCH POINT #1:  This milestone introduces the antagonistic force that interferes with the protagonist’s objective.  For me, this is a tricky milestone in a romance.  An unlikely romance is brewing between Cassandra and Ryan.  What can I use as an obstacle to keep them apart?  Maybe I should use Cassandra’s best friend in the first pinch point.  What if she is interested in Ryan?  Other potential forces keeping these two apart are Cassandra’s own personality issues and Ryan’s emotional unavailability.  I’m not sure if these are “technically correct,” but they sound like good reasons to keep the two main characters apart.

MIDPOINT:  This milestone reveals new information to the protagonists.  It changes how they approach the next events in the story.  I think Ryan catches a glimpse of Cassandra’s “softer” side.  She does a lot of volunteer work in her spare time.  One of the places is in the NICU of the local hospital.  When Ryan’s best friend’s wife, Mandy, goes into early labor, the baby has to stay in the NICU.  I think Cassandra will somehow help Mandy out and show her kinder side to Ryan.

PINCH POINT #2:  This milestone is another opportunity for an antagonistic force to present itself.  Cassandra and Ryan don’t despise each other at this point.  Their feelings for each other are softening.  This is the perfect time to throw another obstacle in their path.  But what?  Hmmmmm……  I think this would be a good time for Ryan’s best friend Jake to discuss leaving his wife Mandy.  And guess what?  Ryan always had a crush on Mandy, but Mandy chose Jake over Ryan in college.  Should Mandy reveal that she also had feelings for Ryan?  That would definitely pose a dilemma for Ryan……..  (QUESTION:  Does Cassandra also need an obstacle?  Is there another man interested in her?)

PLOT POINT #2:  This milestone is the final injection of new information into the story.  I have an idea for Ryan.  His mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s.  She is in a nursing home after suffering from a bout of pneumonia at the hospital.  I think Ryan will discover that Cassandra is a volunteer at the nursing home and has a special rapport with his mother.

RESOLUTION:  I know that Ryan and Cassandra will figure out that they should be together, but other than that, I have nothing.  I’d like to throw in a few surprise plot twists.  I guess I will figure it out once I write the first 75% of this book!

Well, at least now I have an idea of what I want in my first draft.  Time to start writing this out and see what happens.  A big thank you to anyone who read this post and for your support.  It meant a great deal to me.

My Thoughts On Writer’s Block

Over the past few months, I’ve been exchanging comments with a fellow WordPress blogger named Lisa.  She’s an amazing writer, so please feel free to check out her work on The Otherhood Of One.  Lisa has been an incredible source of encouragement for me, so I wanted to give her a shout out.  Thank you, my friend.

Her latest comment made me think about the writing process and writer’s block, so I wanted to write down a few thoughts.

All of us have heard of “writer’s block.”  Does it really exist?  If it does, what causes it?  How do we over come it?


Let’s assume for the moment that writer’s block does exist.  There are MANY, MANY articles on this subject, but I’m going to write about what causes MY writer’s block.

Time Constraints:  I can’t write right now.  I don’t have enough time.  Only fifteen minutes until the kids wake up from nap time.  I need an entire day or at least four uninterrupted hours to write.  If I had more time, I would write the perfect, best-selling novel.  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…….  Guess I’m better off waiting until my next lifetime to write. I think I’ll be an ascetic.  Maybe in Tibet.  No, wait a second….  Persecution is a major impediment to writing.  Let me think about this a little more.  Obviously, if I wait for “more time,” I’ll never write anything in this lifetime.

Unrealistic Expectations:  I don’t know about you, but I have this ridiculous idea that every time I put pen to paper or finger to keyboard, perfect prose should gush forth to inspire the masses.  If my words aren’t perfect, then they must be crap.  And who wants to read or write crap?  I’m better off not writing anything.  (At least that’s what goes through my head.)

A Dead End:  This is related to unrealistic expectations, but when I have an idea that excites me, I expect it to evolve in a certain way.  So when the idea doesn’t pan out on paper or screen as well as I had hoped, disappointment crushes me into inaction.  I wonder why I even bothered and go buy a bunch of chocolate cake pops.

Inertia:  If I don’t write SOMETHING every single day, I lose writing momentum.  My well of ideas dries up, the muse leaves the building, everything shuts down.  I start cleaning on purpose.  Vacuuming is appealing.  Hell, even folding LAUNDRY is appealing.  Anything to stay away from my overbearing laptop and its disapproving blank screen.


So, the kids are asleep, the house is clean, I’m covered in cake pops and staring at a blank screen. (Hey!  That rhymes!)  I rest my head on a pillow, tempted to succumb to my sugar crash.  What do I do?  How do I get motivated to write?

Music/Dancing/Art:  For me, music and writing are closely intertwined.  For example, my second published article on Scary Mommy, Being A Mom Without A Mom, was inspired by music.  I wrote the rough draft while crying through a song that reminded me of my mother’s time in the hospital.  My friend Lisa alluded to something similar.  Art and dance inspire her creativity.  All art forms are connected.  The emotions that are stoked by one art form can be transferred to another art form.

Reading:  When an idea doesn’t pan out the way I want it to, I occasionally walk away and pick up a book.  There’s something about reading another author’s work that inspires me to get back to the drawing board.

Write Through The Block:  This works best for me.  If a story isn’t working for me (like now), I will stop and write about something completely unrelated (like writer’s block.).  I generally alternate between writing stories and writing about writing stories.  (My head hurts from that sentence.)  So, even when a story stumps me, I must keep on writing.

Give Yourself Permission To Write Crap:  Stop fighting the crap and embrace it.  (Okay, I’m a few feet away from a diaper pail, so that was a disturbing image.  But you know what I mean.)  Write garbage and revel in it.

TO ANYONE READING THIS:  Do you believe that “writer’s block” exists?  If not, why?  If so, do you have any other suggestions for overcoming “writer’s block?”  Please let me know what you think!  


Random Thoughts About Writing My 1st Novel (Part 2)

Skip this post unless you’re REALLY bored.  I’ve hit the wall and I’m using it to work my way through it.

This novel writing thing is hard.  I feel as if all of the progress that I made at the end of last year has come undone.  I am at a complete loss on how to proceed.  (Some of you are yelling at me to OUTLINE!!!  But I am drawing a blank even when I try to outline!)

I wanted the book to be funny, but there’s nothing funny coming out of me right now.  (Okay, that was unintentionally funny, because it can be taken the wrong way.)  It’s easy to be funny in person or make snarky comments on a website, but true satire is HARD for me.

How do you achieve Seinfeld-esque wit or Chandler Bing sarcasm when all that’s flowing on the paper is knock-knock jokes?  It’s horrible.

So, what’s funny?  What makes me laugh in stories?  Or more importantly, what kept me INTERESTED in stories, even when I wasn’t laughing?

STAR WARS:  The banter between Hans Solo and Princess Leia made the Star Wars movies for me.  I watched them over the holidays.  It had been years since I had seen them.  I know that I may get torpedoed for saying this, but the dialogue was, er, not so good.  And yes, Episodes 4-6 had far superior dialogue than Episodes 1-3 did, but seriously, Episodes 4-6 didn’t exactly have great dialogue either.

I really think George Lucas owes his Star Wars success to Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.  They saved those movies.  Without their banter, I honestly think the entire Star Wars franchise wouldn’t exist.  Even Mark Hamil’s lines were cheesy to the point of punch-him-in-the-throat irritating.  I was this close (picture fingers pinched together) to hurling my remote control at the screen during Luke Skywalker’s scenes.  Whiny and annoying, he was.  (Channeling Yoda, I am.)

HARRY POTTER:  What did I like about Harry Potter?  The entire wizarding world?  That’s too broad.  Let me mull this over.  I liked the good vs. evil thing.  Again, too broad.  I liked the boarding school.  Yeah, that’s getting more specific.  Come to think of it, I’ve always liked boarding school stories.  I grew up reading Enid Blyton’s “Twins At St. Clare’s” stories.  What is it about boarding school that’s so appealing?  I guess throwing a bunch of unsupervised, young, hormonally-driven people together in a confined space is a recipe for entertainment.

I remember how thrilled I was when I finally left home for college.  I couldn’t wait for my parents to leave so that I could explore the university campus with my new friends.  Maybe part of this nostalgia is what made Harry Potter so appealing to me.  Interesting.

PERCY JACKSON:  The reasons I liked the Percy Jackson books are fairly basic.  Percy Jackson is funny and the story is based on Greek mythology, which I love.  Nothing beats a good prophecy-driven quest.

I recently picked up a copy of Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard.  It’s pretty good, but I just can’t get into it the same way I got into Percy Jackson.  It feel as if it’s the same story, but with Norse gods, instead of Greek gods.  I’m only part way through the book, so I realize that I haven’t given it a chance.  I’ll finish the entire thing and perhaps include it as another “textbook” to study.  So, the most interesting thing about these books for me is the foundation in myth.

GREGOR THE OVERLANDER:  Gregor is very similar to other young adult fantasy heroes.  He has an unfortunate “current” circumstance, is thrown into a “magical” situation, and turns out to be the “chosen” one with “special abilities.”  Blah, blah, blah.

What made this book a little different for me was the whole “Alice in Wonderland” thing.  Gregor and his 2-year old little sister accidentally fall down a laundry room chute and land in another world.  They talk with animals and fight with swords.  Gregor is a warrior.  You see where I’m going with this?  😉

MY CONCLUSION:  I didn’t realize that this post would evolve into an abridged young adult fantasy book review, but that’s what happens when I follow my “stream of consciousness.”  So what have I learned?

I need banter, a boarding school and an “other world” tumble to make a story interesting for myself.  “Special” ability is good – perhaps some levitating or mind control.  Maybe a prophecy and a quest.

Add a touch of Indian mythology and this is my recipe.  Time to work that into my novel.


Random Thoughts On Writing My 1st Novel

I’m scared.  Seriously.  For the last few days, I’ve tried to write.  But I haven’t been able to because of this fear.  You see, I made a 2016 New Year’s Resolution to write a full manuscript by the end of the year and since then, I haven’t been able to write anything.

It sucks.

This may not be a big deal for some of you, but I’ve never finished writing a complete novel.  (Unless you count my jumbled NaNoWriMo mess from a few years ago, which I don’t.)  Writing an entire manuscript is a big deal for me.

You may wonder what I fear.  Cliches.  I’m so scared that my first book will be filled with cliches.  In 2015, I overcame many personal obstacles to writing, but one of them remains strong:  the idea that my story has to be “original.”

What does that even mean?  Has anyone ever written something “original?”  Both Harry Potter and The Hobbit were based on ideas from Norse mythology.  Star Wars was influenced by Akira Kurosawa‘s 1958 film The Hidden Fortress.  Hell, even Star Wars:  The Force Awakens cannibalized itself and based the story on Star Wars:  A New Hope.  (They both had a Death Star, but they were different sizes!)  So, if J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, and George Lucas can do it, then what’s MY problem?

A few things are helping me manage my fear.  First, in my experience, to conquer a fear, a person should run TOWARDS it, instead of AWAY from it.  Well, with the exception of fire.  And cliffs.  And rabid animals.  Hmmm….  Maybe I should phrase this differently.

Let’s try again.  Last year, I started to get over my fear of rejection by embracing it.  Perhaps I should do the same thing with cliches?  Just write a book of cliches.  Maybe it should be called “Charlie Weaver and the Book of Cliches.”

Hey!  Is it a sign that it sounds like “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone?”

What’s that I hear?  I think my wheels are turning again……   😉

Six Lessons I’ve Learned About Writing In 2015

It’s hard to believe that today is December 31, 2015.  I wanted to jot down a few things that I’ve learned about writing this year.


I’m not sure why I had it in my head that I had to use everything I wrote down for something.  I viewed any discarded writing as a “waste” of time and effort.  But it isn’t.  I’ve used and improved every idea, phrase, character and technique that I’ve written down.  So, there is no such thing as “wasted” writing, because writing builds on itself.


I can’t say that I’ve mastered this lesson.  I still have “perfectionist” tendencies.  It pains me to post or submit anything that I view as less than perfect.  But honestly, I wouldn’t have published ANYTHING in 2015 if I had clung to this ideal.  I wouldn’t have this blog, and I definitely wouldn’t have been published on Scary Mommy or Nugget Tales.  Perfection squashes ideas, creativity and progress.  So next year, I will continue to submit and post less than perfect examples of my writing to the viewing public and hope that “good enough” is, well, good enough.


Fear of  failure is another big obstacle to progress.  I sat on my writing for DECADES.  That’s right – DECADES.  For such a long time, I was so afraid of being rejected that I never showed my writing to anyone or submitted things anywhere.  But like most things, the more rejections I faced, the better I became at not only dealing with them, but also learning from them.  So, I am learning to view rejection as GOOD.  It means that I tried and it’s an opportunity for me to learn.


I don’t know why I always had it in my head that to be a writer, I need to sit down in solitary confinement for hours and just write without disruption.  When I finally started doing these “write 15 minutes a day” self-imposed challenges, I actually accomplished more writing in a few months than I had in decades.  The ideas flowed faster and my writing improved.  Carving out small niches of time throughout the day works best in my hectic life.  I will continue to do this next year.


I admit that the thought of having to market myself and my work was intimidating.  This is especially ironic when you consider that I have an MBA and worked in Marketing.  But marketing a company’s product is easy.  Marketing myself and my work is NOT.  It’s incredibly uncomfortable for me to push myself and my stuff on my friends.  I don’t like it and I’d prefer not to do it.

So, I was incredibly relieved when I stumbled across Kristen Lamb’s blog and book, both of which I highly recommend.  Her information on how to create a marketing platform through social media reminded me of one of the tenets from Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends And Influence People:  Become genuinely interested in other people.  I’m fortunate, because this has always been an easy lesson for me.  I actually love hearing other people’s stories.  And this is really what social media is all about.  Making connections and showing a SINCERE interest in other people.

I’m good about this on Facebook, but not so good about it on WordPress. There are so many people on here that I’d like to get to know better.  I hope I do a better job of it next year.


This lesson has come to me over the past month.  Hugh Howey and Amanda Hocking, two authors who transformed the self-publishing industry, have changed my mind about self-publishing.  I always wanted to follow the traditional publishing route, but I am incredibly inspired by their success stories.  Each of them wrote stories that they themselves wanted to read.  Each of them focused less on marketing and more on WRITING STORIES.  By the time people started taking notice of their work, each author had a LARGE VIRTUAL FOOTPRINT on the DIGITAL BOOKSHELF.

All of these years, I just wanted to write and publish ONE book.  BIG MISTAKE.  I need to WRITE AND PUBLISH, and WRITE AND PUBLISH, and WRITE AND PUBLISH.  So, that’s what I’m going to do……

TO ANYONE READING THIS:  Thank you so much for all of your views, likes and comments.  They have meant a lot to me.  I’m looking forward to getting to know more of your stories next year.  I promise to do a better job of reaching out on WordPress next year.

Have a wonderful New Year’s Eve!  May you achieve all of writing your goals in 2016!

Wishing you and your family much peace and love,


Young Adult Fantasy Story Patterns

Patterns.  I love finding them.  Especially in young adult fantasy books.

For the past week, I’ve had a lot of fun writing a story (Charlie Weaver and the Prophecy of Doom) that satirizes all of the popular young adult fantasy books that I’ve read.  I’ve reached an impasse, so I wanted to jot down a few notes regarding the “stereotypical” patterns that I’ve witnessed in these books.  (And naturally, I plan on mocking these “typical” scenes in my story about Charlie Weaver.  Get it?  Harry POTTER, Charlie WEAVER?  A Potter and A Weaver? HAHAHAHA.)

The story patterns are as follows:


  1. Star Wars:  Luke Skywalker is an ORPHAN; he’s treated well, but held back from pursuing his dreams by his uncle.
  2. Harry Potter:  Harry Potter is an ORPHAN; he’s treated horribly by his aunt and uncle
  3. Percy Jackson:  Percy has been labeled as a “troubled” kid; he’s being raised by a single mother and continually kicked out of schools.
  4. Gregor the Overlander:  Gregor’s father disappeared; his mother is struggling to hold things together.


  1. Star Wars:  R2D2/C3PO deliver Leia’s message to Luke Skywalker
  2. Harry Potter:  Hagrid arrives and tells Harry that he’s a wizard
  3. Percy Jackson:  Grover helps get Percy to safety at Camp Half-Blood


  1. Star Wars:  Storm troopers kill Luke’s aunt and uncle
  2. Percy Jackson:  Something evil actually attacks Percy in a museum
  3. Harry Potter:  Voldemort’s ally (Quirrel) try to kill Harry Potter
  4. Gregor:  Rats try to kill all Overlanders


  • Star Wars:  Obi Wan tells Luke that his father was a Jedi
  • Harry Potter:  Hagrid tells Harry that he’s a wizard
  • Percy Jackson:  Percy learns at Camp Half-Blood that he’s a demi-god
  • Gregor the Overlander:  Vikus tells Gregor that he’s the warrior of the prophecy


  1. Luke Skywalker will bring balance to the Force.  (Prophecy!)
  2. Harry Potter’s fate is intertwined with Voldemort’s (Prophecy!!)
  3. Percy Jackson must solve the riddle of the Oracle (PROPHECY!!!)
  4. Gregor is the warrior of the…..wait for it….  PROPHECY!!!!

Do you see what I’m talking about?  Strip away the context of these stories, and you see patterns replayed OVER AND OVER again.