Anyone who has checked out in Invisible Ink recently will quickly discover that I am a baby loss mother. We passed what would have been my daughter’s first birthday recently, and like anyone grieving can tell you, it’s hard. You’re living in this constant duality: the you who functions (albeit differently than before) and the you that’s always screaming inside your head. Baby loss parents master this internal conflict very quickly because we have to cut down on the casualties of grieving. It’s soul-shattering, bone-weary exhausting, and there are days when you wish you could just die from a broken heart.

But every once in a while, you encounter something heart-warmingly bittersweet that convinces you to keep moving forward. Yesterday morning I went outside to water the garden and found something that brought me to tears: daisies. Being the flower of April, it’s a flower we’ve associated with our Eevee since the day we laid her to rest; I’m growing my own right now, and when we sent out memorial cards on her day we included daisy seeds so that our friends and family could watch their flowers grow and be reminded of how beautiful life is.

The thing is though…there have never been daisies in this spot, they weren’t there the day before and I didn’t plant them. I know logically speaking they were probably carried into the yard by the wind or an animal, but it’s more comforting to think it’s her saying hi from her plane of existence. And if a little illusion offers a grieving woman some small measure of comfort, who can find fault in that?

On Fan Fictions

Over the past weekend I happened to be reminded of the existence of some of my early short story and novella writing attempts. As I poked around my profiles on FanFiction.net and Fictionpress.com two things were apparent: I’ve improved drastically in my writing ability and style, and… who writes fanfics anymore?

Okay, okay, clearly it’s more a rhetorical question than anything. Of course there are still dozens of fanfics being written every day, and with the um…*cringes* I can’t say “success” but, um… how about curiosity around 50 Shades, it’s clear that even something based on someone else’s ideas and structure can have real world merit in its potential for marketing and making money. But that lovely little series notwithstanding, it’s largely teenagers and avid fans writing fanfics, right?

So I want to know… what do you guys think of fanfics? Did you write them as a teen? Are you still writing them?

Academy of Villainy: 6 Things It IS Okay For Your Antagonist To Do

Capt. PicardA couple of weeks ago I posted 7 Things Your Antagonist Should Never Do, and while thinking and researching for that article I also realized that there’s a long list of things that your antagonist CAN do, cliche or not, under certain circumstances. Writing is such a fluid art that there really aren’t any hard and fast rules, merely rules of the time. For example, killing off a character was a big no-no… until the Game of Thrones craze happened. Now every time we pick up a book (or turn on the TV) we half expect to lose our most beloved characters.

But I digress. Here are 6 things that it is okay for your antagonist to do, and under what conditions.

It is okay for your antagonist to…

Think he is the protagonist.

Under what conditions?


It is okay for your antagonist to…

Do the evil laugh.

Under what conditions?

Only when you’ve already employed other villainy cliches so that your readers expect and can appreciate your tip of the hat to this one; your antagonist is aware he’s being cliche; for humor’s sake.

It is okay for your antagonist to…

Have something in common with the protagonist.

Under what conditions?

When you want there to be personal conflict between the two; when there is need for them to have a connection; when their goals are mutually exclusive but involve the same person/place/objective.

It is okay for your antagonist to…

See himself as a potential outcome for the matching protagonist.

Under what conditions?

When your antagonist is the dark and tormented type; when your antagonist has already walked a similar path to the one the protagonist is currently on; when your antagonist is arrogant and just knows (or thinks he does) the outcome of the hero’s path.

It is okay for your antagonist to…


Under what conditions?

Any; when your antagonist needs a tragic past; when your antagonist needs to be seen overcoming obstacles; when you need to demonstrate your antagonist’s resolve; when you need to make your antagonist more desperate.

It is okay for your antagonist to…


Under what conditions?

Any; when the protagonist winning isn’t necessarily what the rest of the story needs; when there’s going to be a sequel; when there’s some sense of justice in the antagonist winning; when your antagonist is actually the protagonist.

Plot Bunny Exchange

how_to_handle_your_plot_bunny_by_petit_j-d47xkyfI’m sure most of you are familiar with the idea of stashing away scraps of paper with ideas, plots and plot bunnies on them for a rainy day. And it’s a great idea, because our writer brains are always working and we don’t always have the time or the frame to use the things that come to us. The problem I’ve always had with this is when I dig one of those scraps out… I remember it. I remember it, remember the context under which it was written and why I decided to put it aside instead of using it right then.

And remembering why I didn’t use it makes me want to not use it, and before you know it, I’m disappointed sitting amid scraps of discarded paper.

So let’s do this: let’s exchange plot bunny jars and see what we can make from someone else’s stories. No re-writing anything, no adding context. A pure and simple exchange of story seeds. Who’s in?

Photo credit

Also! I’ve created a new Instagram account! It’s still figuring my way around the app and my community is in the single digits, so I’d love to follow any of you who are on there. Find me here.

51 Of The Most Beautiful Sentences In Literature

The only bad thing about this list is that all of these are already taken. :'( No seriously though, it’s useful to read other writers’ successes, even if they’re only one-liners. Here’s the full list, but here’s a few of my favorites:

“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” -Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

“You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.” -Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting

“For poems are like rainbows; they escape you quickly.” -Langston Hughes, The Big Sea

“One must be careful of books, and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.” -Cassandra Clare, The Infernal Devices

Adding a New Layer of Self

vegie-cowOne of the changes I made months after losing our daughter was in the way I eat. Once I got over the serious depression eating (that mentality of “My child is dead. I can eat whatever the hell I want.”) I realized that I had slipped into being incredibly unhealthy and it needed to change. For myself and my own path back to something resembling happy, to be here as long as I can with hubby and for the future rainbow baby we were/are determined to have.

This desire to eat cleaner was coupled with an awakening awareness of how masses of animals are treated in our food industry. I’ve always described myself as an animal lover, and over the course of several weeks I found a number of Change.org petitions in my inbox asking for stricter regulations and better safety standards for animals on industrial farms. This video in particular upset me and I realized how hypocritical I had been. Why was I choosing to love and protect my cats while eating the carcasses of other animals? It’s true that I can’t and don’t want to keep a cow in my backyard but that doesn’t mean that I want that animal to live a horrid life before being slaughtered. Continue reading

Academy of Villainy: 7 Things an Antagonist Should Never Do

You don’t really understand an antagonist until you understand why he’s the protagonist in his version of the world. -John Rogers

Isn’t that the truth? It seems like there’s a been a movement over the past couple of years to develop stories through antagonistic characters; make villains as twisted as your heroes are straight and all that. It’s a solid approach because as much as readers are okay with rooting for the good guy, they don’t necessarily want to hate the bad guy. Actually, the less they hate the bad guy, the better the story – this is actually why love triangles are so difficult to write. I think at the start of writing something new, we writers want to see the world in black and white, and we want characters to scream, “I’m the Hero!” and “I’m the Villain!” And it’s okay for them to do that, in the first draft. But the truth is, the more you blur the line between the two, the better the story.

And so, to help you blur that line a little, here are seven things your antagonists should never ever, ever, ever do, all the way from overworked cliches to decisions that just don’t work. Well crafted antagonists should never…


Give grand speeches or reveal their whole evil plan

Yes, this is a huge cliche, and for a good reason. We always want to show instead of simply tell, and grand speeches are just telling. Besides, if you need your villain to hand everything to the hero right at the story’s climax, then your hero probably needs some revision. Give the villain page time, especially if his plight is complicated/multi-step. Let him show your readers what he thinks and what he’s doing.

Walk away from physically seeing their plans through

…Especially if they were elaborate. You know how all of the old children’s cartoons are like that? The whole episode leads up to the hero getting pinched, the grand monologue of the villain happens and then he just walks away, usually leaving the final task to henchmen. Who wouldn’t want to see their deeply important plans to their actual finish?

Employ dumb evil henchmen

Speaking of not seeing a plan through, good help is so hard to find. Continue reading