Writer’s Wednesday with Tim Waggoner: Avoiding What’s Been Done To Death

Having a horror writer as today’s guest–it being Halloween– seemed to be fitting. I was first introduced to Tim’s writing over ten years ago by a mutual friend. I was looking for a few writers to invite to write stories for an anthology I was putting together, and it was suggested I contact Tim. After reading Tim’s short stories, I was hooked. He’s a talented writer, and a wonderful person.  I’m thrilled to have Tim as our guest today!

Tim Waggoner wrote his first story at the age of five, when he created a comic book version of King Kong vs. Godzilla on a stenographer’s pad. It took him a few more years until he began selling professionally, though. He has published more than twenty novels and two short story collections. He teaches creative writing at Sinclair Community College and in Seton Hill University’s Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction program. He hopes to continue writing and teaching until he keels over dead, after which he wants to be stuffed and mounted, and then placed in front of his computer terminal. Visit Tim’s website at: http://timwaggoner.com/

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” –H.P. Lovecraft

Writers often refer to the above quote when discussing what makes great horror fiction, but when they do so, they’re usually referring to the fear part. But I want to highlight the word unknown, specifically referring to the elements writers build their stories from. Genre fiction is marked by certain shared elements called tropes, but when a trope becomes too familiar and overused, it loses it power and descends into cliché. The princess that needs rescuing by a handsome prince, apocalypse survivors named Adam and Eve, a character doesn’t realize until the end of the story that he or she has been dead all along . . . Each of these ideas may have been fresh once, but now they’re stale to the point of fossilization.

Clichés like this are especially deadly in horror fiction. Once something is known, it can’t be unknown. Vampires, werewolves, witches, zombies, knife-wielding serial killers, abduction-obsessed aliens, haunted houses . . . An audience raised on a steady diet of horror – especially horror movies – has encountered each of those tropes and more dozens of times, and if you use them in your horror fiction, you’re more likely to elicit yawns of boredom then you are shivers of delight.

But there are ways to take dull, flat tropes and, like Dr. Frankenstein cobbling together a new creation from bits and pieces of the dead, make them live again. Let me tell you how.

Deconstruct Tropes:

Tropes exist because they embody a primal idea. The trick is understanding what that idea is. Take Jason from the Friday the 13th movies. What does he look like? He’s a silent figure who wears a white mask and featureless dark clothing, carries a bladed weapon and relentlessly hunts down his victims. Remind you of any well-known myth image? If any of you said the Grim Reaper, go the front of the class. White hockey mask = skull face. Dark clothes = black robe. Machete = scythe. Jason worked so well for audiences because they instinctively recognized the trope he was built on. He’s the embodiment of Death.

In my story “Anubis Has Left the Building,” I wrote about the ancient view of death versus a modern view. Anubis embodies the old gods of death: mysterious, powerful, terrifying, and majestic. For the modern god of death, I used a disaffected youth to whom the end of life is nothing more than a simple biological process. As he says, “Sometimes meat moves, sometimes it doesn’t.” Anubis represents an old trope, and the youth represents that trope deconstructed and reworked for the modern age.

In my novel Darkness Wakes, there’s a creature called the Overshadow. If you feed it the life force of another, it will directly stimulate the pleasure center of your brain, giving you ecstasy unlike anything you’ve ever known. At no place in the novel do I use the word vampire, but that’s the trope I built my monster from. By reworking tropes, I’m able to avoid reader’s preconceptions, and I can focus on the concepts underlying those tropes. In the case of Darkness Wakes, I wanted to focus on the ideas of symbiosis and addiction, and the Overshadow allowed me to do this without centuries’ worth of vampire baggage getting in the way. You can do the same with your stories. Pick a trope, strip it down to its essential core, and then rebuild it. Or to put it more simply, take your trope shopping and buy it some new clothes.

Use Tropes From Other Cultures:

Remember when Japanese-inspired horror was all the rage in America? Movies like The Ring and The Grudge were big box office, and the reason was simple. They presented tropes that were fresh to American audiences. Of course, those tropes have become clichés of their own now, but there’s still a world’s worth of legend and myth for you to draw on to help you write your own stories.

For example, I recently heard that according to an Hawaiian creation myth, our universe was born from the death of a previous universe, and the only creature to survive this process of destruction and rebirth is the octopus. Now, you don’t have to use this myth in its entirety. You can take the basic concept of an endless process of universes dying and being reborn, with one creature from the previous universe always surviving. Maybe this survivor hates the new universe and is determined to bring about its death. Maybe this is how the cycle is supposed to work. That would mean the “monster” is actually a vital part of the cosmic scheme of things, and in that sense, not a villain at all.

And there you have a brand-new trope, born out of another culture’s myth. All it takes is a little research and a little imagination.

Find Analogues of Tropes:

Let’s say you want to write a zombie apocalypse story, but – ever mindful of to avoid clichés in your horror – you want to create something fresh. Pick one aspect of the trope and take a step sideways with it. In this case, let’s choose the contagion aspect of the zombie apocalypse, along with the loss of identity. Maybe some force – the government, an evil corporation, a foreign power, extraterrestrials – have created a virus that destroys a human’s psyche, overwriting it with a single personality and set of memories, effectively creating a race of mental clones who are really many expressions of one individual. No flesh-eating, reanimated dead here, but that’s the point. You’ve grabbed hold of an old idea, taken a “step to the left,” as they say in Rocky Horror, and by doing so made it seem new again.

Combine Tropes Or Elements of Tropes:

Take a werewolf, an evil spirit inhabiting a mortal body, and a serial killer, throw them into your mental Mixmaster, and viola! You have a character who, when the sun goes down, becomes possessed by the spirit of a killer. Take a mad scientist, the concept of eternal punishment in Hell, and witchcraft. Mix well, and you get a scientist who’s created a virtual reality program that simulates Hell, perhaps as some kind of extreme psychological therapy. But one of the subjects in his experiment is taught dark magic within the simulation – magic that somehow actually operates in the real world, much to the scientist’s dismay.

Learn to mix and match tropes like this, and you’ll have an endless supply of story ideas.

Create Your Own Tropes:

Aristotle said the only way to get to the universal is through the particular. Want to find new tropes to create your horror from, tropes that will strike a universal chord in your readers? Then start by taking a good look inside yourself.

What are you (and no one else) afraid of?:

      Death, torture, mutilation, the loss of a loved one – especially a child . . . Humans share so many fears. But if you want to create a new trope, you need to find out what you as an individual are afraid of that’s unique to you.

When I was a child, my sister and I were afraid of feathers and band-aids. I can’t remember which of us was scared by which item, nor do I remember why we found them so frightening. But those innocuous objects don’t, in and of themselves, conjure up feelings of fear for most people. That makes them ripe ideas to base new tropes on.

When I was in fifth grade, my dad took me to see Jaws in the theater. Not long afterward, I was taking a shower, and it occurred to me that I was surrounded by water, like in the movie, and I imagined a shark emerging from the shower head, expanding to full size as it came, like some kind of bizarre cartoon character. It’s a strange imagine, one I could easily base a new trope on.

Look To Your Dreams:

I have to admit to not having a lot of experience in this area. My dreams are usually quite dull, consisting of me talking to people I don’t know (and no, I don’t remember what we talk about). But sometimes I have nightmares of all the lights going off and someone pounding violently at the front door. And sometimes I dream of wandering through an endless series of rooms with no way out. Neither of these scenarios seems all that interesting to me, but I know people who have wild, incredibly vivid dreams. And if you’re lucky enough to have an interesting dream life, make it a habit to record your dreams in a notebook every morning upon awakening. I bet you’ll come up with numerous original ideas for your horror fiction, thanks to your own subconscious (which is no doubt far more inventive than mine!).

Pay Attention to the Wonderfully Weird World Around You:

      I do this a lot. I make it a point to be, as Henry James said, one of those people “on whom nothing is lost.” I’m constantly looking around, checking out my environment in search of anything that strikes me as a strange. As soon as I see something cool, I open the note app on my phone and write it down before I forget it. I figure that if I’m the only person in the world who notices something, then it’s bound to be a new trope when I eventually incorporate it in a story.

For example, I often write in Starbucks, and one time in the very store where I’m now at (sitting, as a matter of fact, at the same table where I’m writing this), I saw a man staring at his laptop, muttering over and over, “What are you doing here? What are you doing here?” I also once saw a woman breathe on her hand and then wipe it across the seat of a chair before sitting. Also at this store I once saw a girl child wearing what looked like a wedding ring. I’ve already used the muttering man in a story. The hand-breather and child bride are still on my list, waiting to be used.

While driving around town, I once saw a vehicle that had the word Soulless on it and a personalized plate that read SKINNER. Intrigued, I followed it to a restaurant called the Chop House. And people wonder why I write the kind of stories I write.

All of these images/events are things that I noticed. Who knows what kind of things you’ll notice if you start paying more attention to your surroundings? And that’s the point – we don’t know. We can’t. And that’s why what strikes you as strange and interesting can make for the most original horror tropes of all – because they’re your observations and no one else’s.

So go forth and venture into the unknown – and make sure to take the rest of us with you. To paraphrase Clive Barker’s Hellraiser: you have such sights to show us.

For Further Reference:

Not sure what ideas are clichéd in horror? Then check out these sites:

“Horror Cliches” http://horror.about.com/od/horrorthemelists/ig/Horror-Movie-Cliches/Dollheads2.htm

“10 Cliches Horror Writers Should Try to Avoid” http://writinghood.com/writing/10-cliches-horror-writers-should-try-to-avoid/

“Horror Fiction: Ten Cliches to Avoid” http://horror.fictionfactor.com/articles/cliches.html

“Horror Stories We’ve Seen Too Often” http://www.strangehorizons.com/guidelines/fiction-common-horror.shtml

“51 Worst Horror Movie Cliches” http://www.dreadcentral.com/story/51-worst-horror-movie-cliches

Thank you, Tim, for being our guest today, and for the great tips! In case you’re wondering, yes, Tim did write a story for me. Two, in fact. 🙂  “Fixer-Upper” appeared in Single White Vampire Seeks Same, and “All In the Execution” for Places To Be, People To Kill. If you have questions or comments for Tim, he’ll be with us all day. Thank you!

Writer’s Wednesday: Bryan Thomas Schmidt And Writing For Children

BTS & Friend

Today, we’d like to welcome Bryan Thomas Schmidt to The Editing Essentials! Bryan is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel,The Worker Prince (2011) received an Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble’s Book Club’s Year’s Best SF releases in 2011. A sequel The Returning followed in 2012. The Exodus will appear in 2013, completing the Saga Of Davi Rhii. His first children’s books are 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Books For Kids and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He  has also edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6. He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and is an affiliate member of the SFWA. Visit his website at: http://bryanthomasschmidt.net/

Making the transition from writing adult novels to children’s books can be challenging. There are both advantages and disadvantages to be considered. Vocabulary, plotting, descriptions, dialogue–so many aspects must be simpler, depending on the age group targeted for the book. But children are the most enthusiastic audiences (usually), much more so than adults. Their eyes light up when you’re introduced as an author and when you read to them. They look at the silliest illustrations with utter seriousness and laugh at the jokes with gusto, even when they’re mildly amusing ones. Here are some of the considerations authors have to consider in making the switch.

Advantages: Enthusiastic, eager readers and parents used to buying lots of entertainment for their kids at all kinds of prices. If your book has educational or historical elements, all the better. Then they feel even better about buying it. And if readers fall in love with you young, they may grow up and follow you from kid’s books to adult books. So, in a way, you’re helping raise your long term audience.

Children’s books are shorter and illustrated so it’s fun to see your story come to life in visual ways, and you can also write more books in less time. The advances are often larger than those for novels, depending on the writer, reputation and how much they like the plot or series. The market for children’s books is good.

But the biggest advantage for me has been creative freedom. Suspension of disbelief is a lot easier for kids than adults. You can posit many things to kids that they’ll accept which adults would demand more evidence of. For example, in my Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter series, 9 year old Abe and Davy Crockett are sent back in time with two others by accident. Coming up with complex time travel theory was unnecessary. Being accurate with which dinosaurs and plants lived in which geography and proximity was not so important. As long as the names and basic facts match science and history, you can provide education and entertainment at the same time while having a lot of fun writing it. These books are some of the funnest stories I’ve gotten to write. I mean, how often do you get to write scenes with Abe Lincoln narrating Davy Crockett wrestling a saber-toothed tiger and fighting off bears and T-Rexes? As Mike Resnick put it, “Not often enough.” It’s a blast!

Disadvantages: Kids learn fast but appropriate vocabulary and sentence structures/length are a concern. The general rule is to not have sentences with more than two more words than the age of the oldest child in the age range of the intended audience. Writers and publishers fudge this though, because so many kids vary in their development cycle. A second grader can be reading at a sixth grade level and will want more complicated books and so on. This makes it easier for the writer on vocabulary, but harder on audience pitch because sometimes two friends whose reading is not at the same level can’t share books like they might want to. Disappointing children and parents is always disappointing, especially when you did your best.

A similar issue is dealing with description and nuances. Kids at different intellectual levels but the same age will understand things differently. Keep it too straight and simple, you bore the more developed children. Go the opposite way, you lose the less developed ones. On top of that, some kids handle violence and intense content better than others. So you have to write in a way that lets them off the hook in the right amount of time to avoid creating trauma or unnecessary fear for your readers. This often means altering your writing style in other ways. Also, schools and parents will evaluate content for a book based on varied criteria. So you have to leave out grittier elements which adults may take for granted and be very meticulous in choosing words and phrases, etc.

In truth, writing children’s books helps me write more clearly for adults. It also allows me to think and play outside the box, which keeps me fresh and happy and energized when I dive back into my novels. Plus, I have yet to see many adult reader’s faces light up the same way kid reader’s faces do when I show up for a reading or signing. And the hugs, well, they’re better than chocolate (or close). Writing for kid’s has taken me back to the age of wonder I had as a creative child, making up stories. It’s given me a chance to revisit old favorite authors and books. And it’s also encouraged me to write the kinds of stories I never would have dared otherwise. All in all, not such a bad thing, when you’re a writer.

Thank you, Bryan, for being here today and giving us great tips on writing for children! Please feel free to ask Bryan questions today. Thank you!




Writer’s Wednesday: Casey Clifford And How She Wrote Multiple Books In One Year

I first met Casey at a writer’s conference a few years ago. I felt instantly welcomed by her warm spirit and her love of writing. When she shared her story with me recently of the amount of work she had produced in the last few years, I knew other writers could gain from her experiences. Please welcome Casey Clifford to The Editing Essentials!

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Casey Clifford retired from college teaching and writes women’s fiction and romantic suspense. Her debut novel won the Holt Medallion for Best First Book and the Write Touch Readers’ Award for Best Romantic Suspense. She enjoys speaking about craft, writing under pressure and for pleasure, and motivation techniques for writers. She’s a seasoned woman who uses her experiences and her observations of life to enhance the stories she creates. Those stories always involve love, family, friends, good food, great wine, superb desserts, and problems–big or small. Just like life. Her Sunday blog does also. Visit these sites to learn more about Casey’s books: http://caseyclifford.wordpress.com/ or her Amazon Author page: http://amzn.com/e/B0046UYW3G

Brittiany suggested I write a few words about how I produced 4 books in one year. First of all I want to clarify I didn’t start from scratch, and the time frame was more like 14-15 months.

In the fall of 2010, I sold my second romantic suspense An Island No More to The Wild Rose Press. Edits didn’t begin immediately, but were scheduled to start early January 2011. My editor had a family emergency which shoved my start date into early February. The email with her suggestions, comments, and requested changes/edits arrived the same day my son died unexpectedly. Since I was his closest living relative, I faced edits and funeral arrangements simultaneously. I notified her and she offered an extension but that would put me at the bottom of her project list. Not going to happen. I said I’d meet her deadline and did. I edited through my grief.

My son’s death affected me deeply. He was too young to die. But his death forced me to come to terms with the fact that I was getting older. And I had many stories I wanted to get into the hands of readers. Traditional publishing is a process of being patient and waiting–contract to published can take up to 2 years. I could die before I produced another book publishers would take to contract. This was especially true for the women’s fiction stories that were really exciting me. My agent told me she loved my book, but couldn’t sell it. However, she believed readers would love it, so I listened when she suggested I look into independent publishing. I heard the buzz on the loops and from writers I knew personally who had taken the plunge and published some of their work independently.

After I finished with the edits on An Island No More in March, I decided to take out those manuscripts that editors had rejected for reasons that had nothing to do with readers but everything to do with not wanting to take a chance on something just a bit different from an unknown author. Then I got to work.

Revision was my way of dealing with my stress. Polishing and fine-tuning manuscripts I’d worked on and set aside because the “market wasn’t ready” or “romance can’t have the hero and heroine married to each other,” I realized I was now writing love stories of a sort. So in October 2011, I independently published Seasons of Wine and Love, a romance with a 40ish heroine/hero, which isn’t the norm. In December 2011, Fireweed went live. That one continues the adventures of Caitlin and Mike from my award-winning first novel, Black Ribbon Affair. But now they’re married so it’s not a romance. In February 2012, Better Than Dessert was published. In September More Than A Trifle went live. These last two are part of my ongoing women’s fiction series about a group of women friends in their early 50s. Each book is stand alone but characters continue and new ones are introduced. Each book centers on one of the friends who’s dealing with a serious life-changing event.

Only More Than A Trifle wasn’t finished in rough draft in 2011. So I guess I’ve polished and produced 5 books in 14 months.


As I mentioned. I’m driven to write–initially to work though my grief at the death of my son. Also, I love the process. Even the boring parts like doing that final check for too often repeated words excite me. Yeah, I know I’m crazy. I’d rather write than promote which isn’t a good thing. From what I’ve read, if you’re not good at promotion, then have more books available. I’m trying. 🙂

Besides being driven, I’m blessed with an adorable husband who loves to cook and grocery shop and supports my need to write. This allows me time to work uninterrupted in my office every day. And I do mean every day.

I set monthly goals and weekly goals to achieve them. I retired to my second career as a writer so I keep a daily log of what I accomplish each day to achieve those weekly goals. Generally I spend a minimum of 2 hours writing/researching/editing. One day is a “free” day, usually Sunday, but I’m reading or catching up on PR items on that day unless I’m doing something with my family. Holidays the writing schedule lightens but that means I only write/edit an hour a day unless we’re traveling. With my laptop I get writing in before anyone else gets up.

I have my own writing process but that’s another article. However, I will leave you with 2 ideas to ponder.

1.  A rough draft is a rough draft. Get your story on paper or in a file and don’t worry about making it pretty. After 27 years of teaching writing, I understand when ideas flow, let them flow and don’t worry about perfection. The more you do this, the better your rough drafts will get. No, they won’t be perfect, but those elements you’re strongest in will become stronger and those weak ones? They get better.

2.  Don’t believe in writer’s block. If you don’t know where to start, start where your mind takes you. With that scene that’s playing in your head–you know the one. OR maybe you need to do a bit more research or thinking about your characters, setting, that scene where you think you should start. Maybe write the setting, only hitting all your senses concerning it. Or “interview” an interesting secondary character. Or your hunky hero. Or that love scene you’ve been thinking about. Or the ending that you know exactly how you want to write. Any of these will get you going. You’re a writer, all you need sometimes is that little push.

I appreciate this opportunity to share my story with you. I’ll be available to answer any questions and in fact would love to hear from you. Write well. 🙂

Thanks so much for being our guest today, Casey! We hope you enjoyed her story, and learned something from her experiences. Please feel free to ask questions. She’ll be here with us all day.

Writer’s Wednesday, Author Eleanor Tatum With Her New Novel, Swamp Run

Social media can be a fun way to meet people, and that’s exactly how I first met Eleanor, on the Written Dreams Facebook page! We’re so excited to help Eleanor promote her latest novel released in early September. Please help me welcome Eleanor to The Editing Essentials!


Never a fast runner, Eleanor Tatum discovered the joys and advantages of walking. She would listen to classical music and remember the wildlife around her swamp. She would wave at the passing drivers as if thanking them for not hitting her. While she walked, she would imagine their faces in a romantic plot and surround them with the ducks, cranes and yes, the alligators. Before giving up her day job, Eleanor would walk in the mornings and swiftly jot down her ideas. The ideas turned to research, and the research to background and plot. She found it both exciting and soothing. Publication brought the willingness to share, to entertain, to offer an escape. Eleanor lives with her handsome, brilliant husband, and the turtles, bugs, cranes, ducks, water weeds, and yes, even the alligators in the swamps of southeastern North Carolina. Visit her website and blog at: http://eleanortatum.com

Cooking Advice

     “I could write a book.”

Soon after the publication of my first novel, I heard those words spoken and the meanness in me silently screamed, “Yeah, but you didn’t.” So many people say they can write a book, but never do. The speaker went on to say a few caustic remarks about her husband. If that’s what she would write about in her book, it probably wouldn’t sell unless his hair had fifty shades of gray. My acquaintance with the marital problems should instead write her book pitting her husband’s character against an active problem in a solution-supporting setting. Then, she’d most likely be successful.

The fictional books I’ve enjoyed the most, (of course, yes, mine included), took the subjects (husbands, drugs, travel, or poisonous blooms in India) mixed with fascinating characters, sensual settings, plausible plots, and sensuous solutions.

The mixture from Swamp Run stole bits and precious pieces from my childhood, such as Bostonian attorneys. Some were taken from my travels along Interstate 95, both north and south. Real settings were mixed with fictional solutions to please my romantic heroes. A forest fire was survived by this author sans the tall oak tree. There’s really a lovely state park near my swampy home and, of course, the island and alligators are real and respected.


Mixture is the key.

If you want to have a novel readers will enjoy, use a variety of culture, characters, and storyline. Since my next novel is Swamp Secret, I have two thirds of the project completed. Now for the characters stirring the mix…how about a beautiful medical researcher solving crimes with a handsome gambling addicted lawman?

Thank you, Eleanor, for your sharing your experiences with us! Please feel free to share comments or questions with Eleanor. She’ll be with us all day. Thank you!

Nose in a Book Photo Challenge

My kids are all avid readers, and all year long can be caught with their nose in a book. Post your photos of someone reading your novel on our Written Dreams Facebook page to win an exclusive blog review about your book. Keep it clean, folks. Photos should be a PG rating. We’ll notify the winner in December. Here’s a sample photo:

Sami reading a Sookie Stackhouse novel

Writer’s Wednesday: Award-winning Author C.C. Harrison Shares Secrets On Researching

Today we welcome mystery author, C.C. Harrison. I first met C.C. a few years ago when we worked together on her novel, Running From Strangers, a 2009 National Reader’s Choice finalist. She is a kind woman and a wonderful friend. Please help me in welcoming her to The Editing Essentials as our guestblogger today!

C. C. Harrison lives in Anthem, Arizona.  When she’s not reading, writing, or working out at the gym, she can be found in the mountains of Colorado or in some far-flung corner of the Southwest.

All authors are advised to write what they know.  But how many of us know very much about anything outside of our ordinary lives?   How many of us know anything interesting enough to carry a book through 90-100,000 words?  Well, I’ve discovered the novelist’s secret—RESEARCH!  So I say change that advice to write what you can research.

The benefits of research are many.

–   Lends authenticity, realism and flavor to your story

–   Adds little known details that can enhance your story

–   May discover entirely new plot elements that deepen and solidify your story, or important details and facts that affect the trajectory of your entire book

How much you research depends on how much you already know about your topic, and how complex your plot is.  In most cases, your research will happen in stages during the development of your story.

Begin when your story idea hits.  Build your foundation with general information.  Gather contacts, professionals who can help you later with details.  At this stage, information will come to you in surprising ways.  Once you have the idea for your book, information and research sources will fall into your lap.  Your mind will automatically pick up information, you’ll notice newspaper and magazine articles, TV news items will jump out at you, you’ll meet just the person who has the information you need.

During the outline stage, you’ll have a good idea what you will need to research in more detail later on.  Make a list.  During the actual writing, you’ll want to seek answers to questions and fill in details as your scenes unfold.


Internet – For a writer, this is the most valuable tool next to the computer itself.

Libraries – Local, big city, university.  Many are online and available at no charge.  Small town and regional libraries are excellent places to find locally written books, and newspaper clippings with information of local interest.

Used Book Stores – Out of print or small press books, and other treasures can be found here.

Museum Book Stores –  Also full of treasures.

Historical Societies – Especially in small towns.  Great source for books, photos, diaries, journals, logs, and valuable first person historical accounts.  Visit, call, or email through their website.

Footnotes and bibliographies – Check the list of sources at the back of the book you are using for research.

Network With Clubs and Professional Organizations –Join or attend conferences, seminars, meetings.  Excellent opportunities to gather information and meet experts in a particular field. Get on their email list.  I belong to several email groups – private investigators, law enforcement, self-defense, hand to hand combat and survival instructors to name just a few.

Telephone – Call professionals/experts and ask questions.  Most law enforcement departments and big companies have media relations or public affairs departments.  Just ask when you call, and have your questions ready.  Most will be flattered to be used as a source.  Always ask for an email address for follow up questions.  That way you will have your answer in writing and not make a mistake or misuse the information.

Law Enforcement – Check Amazon.com for law enforcement books.  Also, Paladin Press website.  You’ll find books on military and police science, i.e., firearms and weapons, self-defense, SEAL sniper training, KGB Training Manual, and so on.

Also, go on a Ride Along with local law enforcement; take a Citizen’s Police Academy course (I learned that one million dollars of used bills will fit into a pillowcase.) Develop law enforcement contacts such as sheriff’s deputies, detectives, etc.  They are usually quite happy to speak with novelists.

Time Line Books and Websites – Outlines sequence of historical events, often with photos.

Children’s Books – Check the children’s section in bookstores and libraries.  Some very good basic information on all kinds of topics.

Government Websites – FBI, CIA, Secret Service, Marshal Services, Witness Protection Program, National Security, Homeland Security website, and Department of Defense, etc.

Idiot’s Guides and For Dummies books – On just about every topic imaginable.

Honor the privacy of your sources.  If someone gives you his or her private email address or home phone, do not give it out to anyone else without their permission.  Give them credit.  Ask if you can thank and acknowledge them by name in your article or in the front matter of your book.  Above all, show gratitude.  Send a thank you note (email is okay), and if their contribution was major, send them a copy of the published piece.


Geographic/Regional – Visitor and Convention Bureaus, travel sites, travel books (Fodor’s, for example) tourist guides and brochures, etc.

Occupations – Vocational Biographies, and other career reference books carried by most libraries and high school/college placement offices.  Mostly online now.

Clothing – Period fashions, uniforms (military, medical, job specific.)  Find in books and museums.

Food – Regional, traditional, Victorian, Medieval, etc.

Language/slang/occupational or scientific terminology – Make sure your character speaks using appropriate language.  Your cop should speak like a cop, your lawyer like a lawyer, your quilter should know specific language of people who make quilts.

Guns/Weapons/Explosives – Gun manufacturer websites, NRA, police and law enforcement blogs, police equipment websites, etc.  (I once had to know how much a police officer’s duty belt weighed.) Attend gun shows and ask questions.

Geology – Describe landforms, seascapes for sense of place.  Use the right words.  I have geology reference books.

Weather – Storms, describe skies, sunsets, sunrises.  I have weather and sky books.

Don’t get too attached to your research, or go off on tangents. It’s easy to do if you are a history or research fanatic.  And don’t get distracted.  Stay focused on information that pertains specifically to your novel.

You might be tempted to put all your research into your story, but don’t.  Only use the information for flavor unless you are writing a “historical” novel which will require you to be totally accurate.  Unless you are writing for historical correctness, don’t sacrifice your story for the research.  For most writers, story wins out over research every time.  Keep your research records especially if you are going to write other novels set in the same period or location.

Readers like books with a realistic sense of place, but how do you realistically set a book in a place, especially a well-known location, without actually going there?  Here are some tips:

Have Your Story Character Be New to the Area – Set it up so that your main character has recently moved to the city/town, so he or she won’t know much about it.

Read Books Set in the City – You can Google search for lists of books set in a certain locale.

Watch Movies Set in the City – Use Google/Bing searches for this, too.  Internet Movie Data Base (IMBD) is a good search site.

Contact Tourist and Convention Bureaus – Call or email with questions, ask them to send you brochures, pamphlets, travel kits, whatever they have.

Local Police and Fire Departments – Call or email the Public Affairs Officer or Department with specific questions.

Get Maps – MapQuest, AAA, or buy from a retail map store.

Look at the City’s Internet Site – This will give you information on places of interest, restaurants, theaters, schools and universities, and give you some idea what it’s like to live there.  Also, search for blogs about living in that city or locale.

Ask Friends or Family Members – Call anyone you know who lives there.

Online Webcams – Cities often have live webcams active on intersections, or other places of note in the city.

GOOGLE EARTH – You will be amazed how down to earth you can get in a city using Google Earth.

Good luck, and have fun!


Thank you, C.C., for joining us today. If you have questions or comments for her, she’ll be with us all day. We hope you enjoyed this post and will share it with other writer friends who will find it helpful. Thank you!🙂

Writer’s Wednesday Guestblogger Author, Nancy Gotter Gates

Today our guest is author, Nancy Gotter Gates. I first met Nancy a few years ago when I edited her novel Sand Castles. I was touched by Nancy’s characters, and their real-life struggles. I was thrilled when we were able to work together on her next novel, Life Studies! Welcome, Nancy, to The Editing Essentials.

Nancy Gotter Gates is the author of seven mysteries and three women’s fiction novels. Sand Castles, Life Studies and The State of Grace are stand alone novels featuring women in their fifties and sixties. Her mysteries include the Emma Daniels series set in Sarasota Florida, the Tommi Poag series set in Greensboro North Carolina and her newest, The Glendon Hills Retirement Center series, set in “Guilford City” North Carolina. She has also published numerous articles, poems and thirty short stories. Nancy lives in High Point North Carolina with her cat Callie. Visit her website at: http://www.nancygottergates.com/

Many mystery writers look for unusual backgrounds and quirky occupations for their protagonists to set themselves apart from others in the crowded field of cozy mysteries. I understand completely. If you’re not writing police procedurals or thrillers filled with spies, government types, or special agents, it’s hard to make one’s protagonist stand out from the crowd. However, I take a different tack. I prefer to write about everyday women, working in an ordinary job or retired, who happen to stumble upon a dead body and feel compelled to track down the killer. I feel the reader can identify with her because they have everything in common. She is not an expert in ancient languages or a famous chef or a biker. She is the woman next door, or in your book club. All of my protagonists are women of baby boomer age, some retired, some not. All are middle-class average housewives or office workers who stumble onto crimes that shock and appall them and are driven to find the perpetrator. Even though they have little knowledge of police procedure or access to crime labs and specialists, they manage to find the guilty party through passion, hard work, and determination.

I frequently tend to draw from my own experiences in my stories. For example in my Emma Daniels mystery series, she and her husband Paul move to Sarasota when he takes early retirement. My husband had to take disability retirement at a young age and we purchased a winter home in Sarasota. However, Emma loses her husband to a heart attack within months and is left on her own. In the first book, A Stroke of Misfortune, a neighbor helps her deal with her grief and they become fast friends. When this woman is killed and her husband is accused of her murder, Emma, who never imagined herself in such a role, is resolved to exonerate him and find the real perpetrator.  I believe that readers will find Emma’s traits of loyalty, courage and determination admirable. And in subsequent books these same qualities come into play when she deals with scams on the elderly, and men who take advantage of lonely widows. I can only hope that if I found myself in similar situations I might find in myself the qualities I’ve given to Emma.

Tommi Poag lives in Greensboro, North Carolina which was my home for forty years. She also works in an insurance office as I did for a time. Tommi is a divorcee whose ex, a lawyer, dumped her for a younger woman in his office forcing her to go to work when she is too proud to accept alimony. My work experience was helpful when I decided to have an insurance policy play a large role in casting suspicion upon Tommi’s friend, Nina who is accused of killing her husband in When Push Comes to Death.

In my second Tommi Poag book, Death on Disaster Day, my role as the Public Relations Director of a Girl Scout Council led me to set the scene for the murder at a Scout camp where the girls are being judged on their first aid skills. Tommi has volunteered to be a “victim” and when her friend is shot to death at the perimeter of the camp, she is driven to find the killer. I was nervous about how the Girl Scouts would feel about having a murder on Scout camp grounds even though it was fictional so I had the local Executive Director read the manuscript before it was published. She loved it and even used the book as a fund raiser.

In the third Tommi Poag book I used our local reenactment of a Revolutionary War battle as the background. This annual event is a thrilling spectacle of uniformed soldiers advancing on each other with swords, muskets and cannons. I chose to have one of the sutlers, or merchants, who pitch tents on the periphery of the battlefield, be the victim.

Since I now live in a retirement center, I thought it would be fun to have my newest protagonist live in a fictional one set in “Guilford City” North Carolina. And so I began the Glendon Hills Retirement Center series featuring Viola Weatherspoon and her best friend Tyrone Landowski. Vi was an Executive Director of a Girl Scout Council in New England and Ty worked for the State Department. Neither has ever been married and their relationship is more like brother and sister, substituting for the siblings they never had.

The characters in my women’s fiction are also ordinary women dealing with the problems that beset their lives. In Sand Castles, Ginny has always been a stay-at-home wife and mother and when her husband decides to move to Florida upon his early retirement, she is loath to leave friends and family behind. But Leland has his way and after their move Ginny feels displaced and depressed. It takes a series of life-altering events for Ginny to find her way to happiness again. I feel that little attention is paid to the psychological and emotional effects of retirement and wanted to address them.

Life Studies features Liz Raynor who decides to pursue her lifelong interest in art when her husband dies at age fifty-five. Eventually she falls in love with her art teacher and together they encounter many roadblocks to their happiness which they overcome. I too lost my husband in his fifties and my art helped to heal me.

In The State of Grace, Grace Cousins, who works for a financial advisor, has never married. When her father dies, she moves in with her mother who suffers from dementia. She rents out her empty townhouse to a hydrologist, in town on a two-year contract, and eventually falls in love with him though many obstacles lie in the way.

I prefer to write about mature women with their rich histories who’ve dealt with all the ups and downs life has thrown at them. To me, they are the most interesting characters of all.

Thank you, Nancy, for joining us today, and sharing your experiences with us! Please feel free to make comments, or ask Nancy questions while she is here with us today. Thank you! 🙂


Happy 1st Anniversary Written Dreams!

Today marks a very special day for me. A year ago today I told my husband I wanted to work for myself and start my own editing business. Amazing how fast the year has flown by! September 12, 2011, we spent the day in our living room, thinking of a catchy business name and developing a business plan. I imagined, and he listened. Michael has always been my biggest supporter and when I chose Written Dreams over having a corporate job, we both knew it wouldn’t be easy.The time has passed so quickly–like that first year of life when you have a child, and they grow in such monumental stages.

I remember when my son was born, how elated and happy I felt–one that labor was over, and two that I was able to hold this beautiful little boy who I helped create. How excited I was that finally, I would have someone to love unconditionally no matter what. I knew there would be ups and downs. That was expected. My son is now 18, on his own in college, and has a lovely girlfriend that fits so well into our family. And my husband is still by my side after 20 years.

Me and my hubby, Michael

It’s been a long year in business, but I’m still as excited as I was a year ago. Let me take you back to May 2011. I was on the phone with Dorothy McFalls, at a mall of all places, going over some ideas for a new novel she and I were working on. At the time, I had a full-time job that I worked 60-80 hours at. And this particular phone call was during my lunch break. Although I loved my job in that industry, it wasn’t publishing. Dorothy, a true friend, maybe heard it my voice that day I wasn’t completely happy. I’m not sure. But I will never forget that conversation for the rest of my life when she asked me, “Brittiany, why don’t you go into business for yourself, as a freelance editor?” Me? Are you kidding? I couldn’t do that.

But the thought continued in the back of my mind over the next few months. A few other writers asked me the same thing. I shook my head. No, that’s something I definitely can not do. But these people believed in me–believed I could do it!

Fast forward a few months to August 2011. My son would be entering his senior year in high school. (Again the tears are coming.) If you know my son well, you know he’s always had a fascination with the ocean. That’s partly my husband’s fault for never missing Shark Week on Discovery, and partly mine for encouraging my son’s love for everything in the marine habitat. Books, movies, going to aquariums. We did anything to help him with his love of the ocean. (So many fun family memories.) I knew my son would be going out of state for college. It’s no secret that we live in Wisconsin, and although there’s plenty of rivers, lakes, and ponds here, it’s no ocean. I knew my son’s dreams would be taking him 1300 miles away from his family–in 9 months time. So, I did what every devoted mother would do. I quit my job. You know the job I was working at for 60-80 hours a week, out of town most nights, and away from my family. That job.The distance is what shook me. I wanted to spend every moment I could with my son before he left for college. I knew it wouldn’t be all happy family moments, but I would be there.

A fun day at Shedd

So, here I am–no job, and a family depending on my income. What to do? That conversation with Dorothy was still niggling in the back of my mind. I made a few feeler phone calls to some of my most trusted friends. I was a capable editor. Why not start my own business? Because I was scared. So scared to take that first step.

My husband believed in me wholeheartedly. My kids were excited Mom would be home more often. The writers who had become my friends knew I was an excellent editor and supported me. How could I let all of these people down who thought I would be successful?

So, I plunged in deep into my own personal ocean, and I am so glad I did. This would be my dream job. Helping writers achieve their goals–writers of all walks of life to fulfill their dreams just like some of those same writers that believed in me! 🙂

Thank you so much Dorothy McFalls for your inspiration! I’ll forever be grateful. And thank you to Terry Odell, Helen Osterman, C.C. Harrison, Karen Fenech, Jim C. Hines, Virginia McCullough, Barbara Raffin, Bob Rogers, Donna MacQuigg, Stacey Joy Netzel, Donna Marie Rogers, Lily Silver, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Ed Gorman for spreading the word and helping me become successful. Thank you to the writers who have been my clients, guestbloggers, or told their friends about us. Thank you to my family who never stopped believing, even if it meant another night of pancakes. Thank you all for believing in my Written Dreams!

Being happy, doing what I love–editing–is a dream come true. 🙂

Writer’s Wednesday An Interview with Helen Osterman About Her Character, Emma Winberry

I first met Helen a few years ago when I edited her novel,  The Stranger in the Opera House and we became fast friends. We’ve been working together ever since. To date, I’ve edited three of Emma’s stories, and Emma Winberry is one of my favorite characters. 🙂

Helen Macie Osterman

Helen Osterman lives in a suburb of Chicago. She has five children and nine grandchildren. She received a Bachelor of Nursing degree from Mercy Hospital-St. Xavier College. During her training, she spent three months at Chicago State Mental Hospital for her psychiatric rotation. Years later, she earned a Master’s Degree from Northern Illinois University. Throughout her forty-five year nursing career, she wrote articles for both nursing and medical journals. She is the author of the Emma Winberry Mystery series. The Accidental Sleuth, 2007 and The Stranger in the Opera House, 2009, The Elusive Relation, 2011, Emma Winberry and the Evil Eye, Sept. 2012. Helen is a member of The American Association of University Women, The Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime and The Authors Guild. Visit her website at: helenosterman.com

WD: What made you interested in writing?

HO: As a child I loved to read and make up imaginary characters in my head. I used to tell myself stories. I was an avid reader. My best friend was the library. One time, I got a group of neighborhood children together and we wrote a short play. We put it on in someone’s basement for our parents. I don’t remember the story line, but it was a huge success.

WD: Do you write every day?

HO: I try to write every day or two, depending on my schedule. I’m a morning person and the words flow better at 6 AM with a cup of coffee. I write my first draft long hand. I cannot create on a machine. The second draft goes into the computer using four fingers. I never learned to type. I print it out, let it sit for a few weeks, then revise and revise and…revise.

WD: What other books have you written?

HO: Besides the cozy mysteries, I wrote a paranormal/historical: Notes in a Mirror, in 2009. It is about two student nurses doing their three month psychiatric rotation in a state mental hospital in 1950. I was a student at that time, so it is based on some of my experiences. There were no tranquilizers in 1950, so the treatments were archaic and dangerous. I wove a ghost into the story to widen the appeal. I’m sure there were many entities roaming around that place.

Song of the Rails, a Love Story, was published in 2010. It is partly autobiographical and a very personal story about an abused wife who, with the help of friends, finds the strength to reinvent herself. If I can help one woman who reads this book to leave an abusive relationship, I will have accomplished my goal. It is the only book I’ve written in the first person.

WD: How old were you when you started writing Emma’s series?

HO: Let’s just say, if I decided to write about a senior citizen, I had to be in her age group. A thirty year old can’t possibly understand the problems that face someone in her sixties.

WD: How did you come up with Emma Winberry?

HO: That’s an interesting question. Emma took up residence in my head long before I wrote about her. I knew what she looked like: thin and shaped like Olive Oyl; knew she had a ‘sixth sense’ and talked with her Guardian Angel. I felt that made her unique. The problem was, I didn’t know where she belonged. I tried different settings, but nothing worked. Until I put her in the opera.

WD: Are you in Emma’s head, or is Emma in your head when you write her stories?

HO: A little bit of both. Emma always seems to be with me. Sometimes I ask myself, “What would Emma do in this situation?” It’s very difficult for me to separate myself from a character I’ve known for so long.

WD: What did you do to research Emma’s Guardian Angel?

HO: I grew up with Guardian Angels. In grade school the nuns told us we had a special angel protecting us at all times. So the concept came naturally.

WD: How do you research your novels set in other places outside the United States, such as in The Elusive Relation and Emma Winberry and The Evil Eye?

I have always loved research in general. I enjoy the challenges of learning something new.  For The Elusive Relation, I spent three weeks in London. I have an advantage in that my youngest daughter lives there. Each day I visited one of the places that I portrayed in the book. I strove for accuracy. If I made an error describing St. Paul’s Cathedral, one of my readers would be sure to catch it.

I spent two days in the village of Roydon where most of the action takes place. Again, my daughter’s friends, the Paxtons, actually own the house on the cover of the book. It was originally built in 1534.

I had fun calling Scotland Yard and the Essex Police and Fire Departments. When I identified myself as an American author, they graciously gave me all the information I needed.

For Emma Winberry and The Evil Eye, I read a number of books about Sicily and the distinctive dialect. I grew up in an Italian family, but my mother was from Naples. Each area of Italy has its own pronunciation and spelling. It goes back to the time when Italy was divided into city states, each with its own language. The Internet is filled with information about The Evil Eye, The Malocchio. My grandmother attributed it to every misfortune.

The next book takes Emma and Nate on a sailboat in the Caribbean. Again, I have a son who lives on a 49 foot sailboat. He and his wife  are accomplished sailors and cruise the Caribbean. I’ve been on the boat twice for the experience and research.

WD: What is the best fan letter you’ve received?

HO: I was interviewed on Skype by a sixth grade class doing a writing project. One of the girls sent me a letter telling me how much fun it was and she liked the fact that I took my characters to different places.

WD: What are the challenges you face when looking for a publisher for a senior citizen character book series?

HO: Some publishers see the baby boomer generation looking toward older protagonists. One agent was excited about the senior protagonist, another, ambivalent. It all comes down to sales. Many readers in my age group are pleased with an older character. Remember, Miss Marple is still around.

WD: If you could see Emma wear any outfit in your closet, what would it be?

HO: My tee shirt that read: The Emma Winberry Mystery Series. An angel on top and one below.

WD: What is Emma’s favorite meal?

HO: Emma loves to cook, anything and everything. Most of all, she enjoys making her famous muffins. A lunch for Emma would consist of a cup of tea, a muffin and a banana.

WD: What age exactly is Emma?

HO: Emma starts out being sixty-ish. I don’t tell her exact age because, I’m not sure. She’s healthy and keeps herself in good shape by doing yoga and walking. But, she does take a few too many chances.

One thing I have to remember is to age her grandchildren. Even though Emma can remain the same approximate age, children change rapidly from year to year.

WD: What’s in Emma’s future?

HO: I’m working on the last book in the series now. I’ve heard that after the sixth book, a series tends to deteriorate. So, book number six will be the last. Unless I have an Epiphany.

WD: What advice would you give to writers writing about a senior citizen character?

HO: If you want to write about a senior, it’s best if you are one yourself. Otherwise, get involved with active senior groups. There are plenty of them around.

WD: Thank you, Helen, for penning such wonderful stories and taking the time to be with us today. Emma has certainly brightened many of my days with her wit and talents. Feel free to leave a comment or question for Helen. Thank you!


Writer’s Wednesday Guestblogger Capri Smith On Writing Emotion

I met Capri Smith recently when Written Dreams made a donation to the Brenda Novak On-line Auction for Diabetes. I’ve asked her to blog today for two reasons.

1) That no matter what the odds are against you, there’s always a way to write if you’re determined to be published. Persistence is an important quality to have as a writer.

2) Writing from the heart shows through to your readers. If there’s no emotion, a story can be flat and uninspiring. If the writing gets deep into the emotion of the characters, the reader feels those emotions along with the character–living, breathing, feeling every moment. As an editor, my personal favorites are tear-jerker moments. If a writer can make me cry, she’s done her job right. 🙂

Capri Smith is a writer and secular homeschooling mother of four. Her youngest daughter, Keke, was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes in August, 2006. Since then, Capri has been a pioneer in the use of diabetic alert dogs. Their service dog, Teddy Bear, has kept Keke seizure free for over three years. A book that includes his story is due out in the near future. When Capri is not focusing on her kids, she can usually be found holed up in her bedroom typing out her thrillers. On her door hangs a sign – “Interruptions Tolerated for:  Fires, Profuse Bleeding, or Blood Sugar Issues Only.” Teddy Bear is the only one who complies. Visit Capri’s blog at http://www.caprismith.com/

I was acting in a movie, one of the star parts. In the scene that we were performing, I was the mom racing on crutches no less—behind a gurney that held a little blond girl. The nurses clutched the side-rails and bolted down the corridor in front of me.  A petite, pony-tailed nurse straddled the little girl, bagging her, and swaying as she rode along on the wild teacup ride towards the ICU. The floors we moved along were slick and the crutches that I was supposed to balance on slipped out from under me crashing me to the floor. I rolled and tried to get up, but this wasn’t really a movie, and up was very far away.

A month earlier, my daughter, Keke, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. T1 is very different from the diabetes of Paula Dean and Halle Berry. T1 is an around-the clock, never-give-up, no-holds-barred fight. And in that moment, the fight was life or death, and the doctors had prepared me for death to win. Keke was comatose.

I am a homeschooling mom and a thriller writer. I spend my days checking blood glucose numbers, teaching algebra, and writing scenes—like the one above that I lived through not so long ago. It’s not often that I actually write about diabetes. I take refuge in my writing and writing about the monster that stalks us gives me no respite from the constancy of the disease.

I do use my experiences in my fiction, though—panic, terror, impuissance, strain, exhaustion… I know these emotions so well. I can easily write how it feels to think you can lean on your highly intelligent spouse only to watch his brain abandon him, as he calls 911 and forgets his daughter’s name and age. Or to think that as a parent you are the strong one – but then your nine-year-old uses his hands to force fear-frozen legs into motion, sliding forward to save the day as the paramedics’ sirens wail closer.

It’s all fodder for my books—though I’d give almost anything to just be able to make it all up.

Writing and being the mom to a disabled child are roles that often stand in opposition. For me the biggest issue is the sleepless nights. It’s like being the mom to an infant who never grows big enough to sleep until morning. I check Keke’s blood frequently through the night. To miss a low could mean we’d lose her. We have a diabetes alert dog, Teddy Bear, who shares my vigilance. And often it’s his clickity-clacking in the halls that pulls me from my dreams.

Exhaustion makes me fall asleep in front of my computer. The imprint of my key board is impressed on my cheek as I type this. Sometimes I just can’t keep my eyes open. Other times, fatigue creates brain-fog that muffles already ambiguous words and awkward reasoning. But it doesn’t stop me from writing. Because I love writing. And because it’s mine.

I guess the other side of the coin is that sometimes I am excited–tapping out the perfect plot twist, my characters yelling at each other as they go fisticuffs in a fabulous brawl. Jazzed by the vivid scene, I am deep in my own world, then yanked back to reality when Teddy Bear comes to alert, or my daughter yells, “Mom, I need help.” It feels like someone is throwing a pail of water on the fire of my imagination. But I can use those feelings, too. I’ll just remember how the annoyance tightens my jaw and heats my blood, and then how quickly my body chills when I see the low number show up on her blood meter. How it actually feels to run hot then cold. As I type these words, I’m thinking that I actually have the perfect place to insert those feelings—a scene that I’ve been frustrated with…

My goal each day—whether writing from a place of inspiration or a place of sleep deprived, muddled confusion—is to write for six hours. Sometimes this comes at three in the morning, when Keke’s having a bad night. Sometimes I get to sit down at nine a.m. and type straight through lunch. I’ve learned to take everything day to day. And that’s okay, because what’s a day without writing?

Thank you, Capri, for sharing such intimate details of your life and showing us how precious every moment can be. You are an inspiration to moms/writers everywhere! We wish you all the best in the hopes of finding a cure!