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Power of the prompt

For more than a year, I wrote a weekly blog post called The Sunday Squirrel. I picked a word or concept as a prompt and wrote a short scene about it. The scenes were written and published immediately, with minimal editing. Looking back, I’m shocked that I was brave enough to put the results of

Breaking through the wall

What do you do when you hit a wall in your writing? I’m under a tight—self-imposed—deadline to get Blind Justice to my editor and I was absolutely stuck on how to approach the climactic scene. I only work with loose outlines and don’t usually have a solid idea for the ending until I’m more than

Give me a black moment

I’ve noticed a distinct lack of gut-wrenching black moments in several of the books (by major authors) I’ve read recently, and it’s bothering me. I hope it’s not a trend. What is the black moment you ask? It’s that all-is-lost moment in the story just before the final act begins. It’s  the absolute worst thing

Body language and bunny suits

When I was a manufacturing engineer, I spent my first six months working in the fab—fabrication plant—learning how the line worked, and how to operate the tools that processed semiconductor chips in the 24/7/365 factory. Because even the smallest amount of contamination can ruin a batch of wafers in process—a very expensive proposition—everyone on the

Every villain a hero

…every villain is a hero in his own mind. ~ Tom Hiddleston (Loki in Thor) I’ve read—and even written about—how writing an empathetic antagonist makes for a stronger story. I know I prefer those where the villain isn’t just pure evil for evil’s sake, but rather a person acting in a way that makes sense

Epiphany at a workshop

Over the weekend, my local RWA chapter hosted bestselling romance author Virginia Kantra for an interesting workshop on characterization, gender roles, and the struggle our characters face between developing intimacy and maintaining control. She talked about starting with gender stereotypes to meet reader expectations, but taking it further to create unique, compelling characters. She discussed

Why Disney kills off the parents

Have you ever noticed that children’s books and movies love to kill off the parents? Or at least get them out of the picture so the fun can start. Disney especially seems to like orphans as protagonists. Think about it. Snow White, Dumbo, Bambi, Aladdin, The Lion King, Jungle Book, Tarzan, Little Orphan Annie, Harry