From Sarah, With Joy

Writer querying two novels and some other word babies. I tend to effervesce.

New post every Monday

Monday, December 11, 2017

A Writers First Baby-steps To Plotting A Romance

Sometimes I think we go through paradigm shifts as writers. The writer we thought we were is suddenly no longer the writer we now know ourselves to be. It's as if we're a cute little Charmander with no conception of the power we will one day have as a mighty pen-wielding Charizard. We evolve. We level up.

This can take many forms. Maybe it's a form change. Maybe we've been trying to write short stories and we realize we're actually super great at poetry. Or we've been turning our nose up at epic fantasy but you've secretly got epic world building abilities and can write sorceresses like nobodies business. If you're a Geodude, own your Geodudeness. Don't be a Squirtle. Unless you're a Squirtle. Then be a Squirtle.

Of course figuring out what kind of pokewriter we really are takes a lot of time and experimentation. And maybe our true form is something like the head of a Pikachu with Rapidash's body and the soul of a Snorlax. (Behold the mighty Snorlax soul, hear her snor.) Point is, whatever monstrosity your writerly self evolves into, just be the best monstrosity you can be.

Which brings me to my latest personal writerly evolution.

In high school I had a very specific view of my writerly self. In class we were reading stuff like King Lear and Crime and Punishment and Cry, the Beloved Country, and A River Runs Through It. I wanted to BE Norman Maclean. For our big book projects one semester my teacher assigned me Moby Dick because he thought I could handle it. (I went to a small private school and had the same English teacher for all four years of high school, so suffice it to say, we all knew each other REALLY well.) Outside of class I read Charles Dickens and Jane Austen and Amy Tan.

Then I grew up.

In college I found a new part of myself. My college roommates introduced me to Star Trek and Avatar, the Last Airbender. I spent a year watching all eleven seasons of Frasier and ever chick flick I could find in the days before Netflix.

Most of all I saw all the glorious young adult and middle grade books I'd missed out on. I discovered Geraldine McCaughrean and Gary Schmidt, who both pretty much changed my life. I'd read and totally adored Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume as a kid and reading these books was almost like coming home again.

Point is, we all have different phases and interests that combine and mash together to form us into, well, us.  My particular mashup means I am absolutely rubbish at world building. Seriously, watching me try and world build is like watching an elephant seal flub across a beach. I've just never had the immersion in world building that it takes. (Basically my only child/teenhood exposure to sci fi and fantasy was Lord of the Rings and Galaxy Quest.) BUT, it does mean my writing is crisp and clean, and I'm prepped like a squirrel with walnuts when it comes to character development and a youthful, earnest voice.

So we play to our strengths. We wouldn't use a fire pokemon to fight a water pokemon, right? We would put a child molester in prison, not the Senate, right? Let's not be silly here.

In high school, if you told me I'd be working on a YA romance I'd have laughed in your face while hiding my copy of Twilight under my copy of Hamlet. But now I've realized how much certain romance stories have stuck with me, and meant to me. Maybe not Twilight, which was largely enjoyable, though not my kind of romance. But Jane Eyre is my kind. Eleanor & Park is my kind. I'm evolving, guys.

But with every evolution, new challenges arise. You don't grow a third leg without some stumbling, you know? So if you're in my situation and looking for crutches, check out Sarah Eden's blog and her incredibly useful 9 point story structure for plotting romances. I've never been steeped in the regency or traditional romance genre, and for those of you who live there, spread your wings and fly you beautiful pokewriters you. But even if you just have a small romantic subplot, Sarah Eden's powerpoint will save your tucus.

So go, writers, go.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Whatever you do, DON'T by "girl books" for your son this Christmas

We have a problem in this country. A stinking, reeking, pustulous problem that’s just beginning to burst the boil in politics, business, and Hollywood. Stories are coming to light, showing just how ubiquitous this problem is. Just how long it’s been going on, and been kept under wraps like toe fungus. The true victims of this problem are beginning to speak out and speak loud, despite being revictimized, despite not being believed.

So what is this problem?

We don’t have enough male characters in our media! Not enough strong male role models for our sons! The strong heroes we used to know have been made weak.

Just look what they’ve done with Iron Man. High-level anxiety and possible PTSD? Real men don’t have anxiety!

Now, some will have you believe that objectification of women is the problem. That female characters aren’t treated as real. This could clearly not be further from the truth. We’ve got Wonder Woman, so why do we need a Black Widow movie? We’ve got Anne Shirley and Buffy the Vampire slayer...why do we need more melodramatic, hormonal teenage girls?  See what I’m saying? Sure little girls dress up like Batman or Sherlock Holmes, but a boy version of Wonder Woman? A male Nancy Drew? Now let’s not be silly here.

One of these people who are suggesting that boys should read “girl books” is Newbery Award Winner Shannon Hale. Anybody else seeing a conflict of interest here? Her Newbery book is called “Princess Academy,” not “Prince Academy.” So maybe sometimes when she visits schools the administration doesn’t let the boys come to her speech. Why should boys know what it’s like to be a princess? Didn’t America make it quite clear in the last election how very, very, very desperate we are to avoid female leadership? I once heard Shannon tell a story about a little boy who waited until after everyone else had left, because he was too ashamed to ask for a copy of The Princess in Black in front of other boys. Darn right he should be wary! What are our sons learning these days? That girls can be just as tough as them?? Pshaw.

Sure, everybody on earth deserves respect. This is something we can all agree on. But shouldn’t women be respected as one would respect a statue? Quiet, benevolent, bestowing its grace and beauty on all who behold her? Statues have a place, as do all things of beauty.

But no, these whiners might say, women are just as varied and have just as many facets as men do. There’s just no way for men to know this for sure. I’ll even admit that it might be good if there was some way for men to understand the perspective of the other half of the human population, but there isn’t. That’s just something we have to live with. We must read from the best! What about the Hemingways and Fitzgeralds! What about the Clancys and Grishams! Look at the list of books your child is reading in school. Look at the latest bestseller the millionaire is reading in the plane seat next to you. Are most of the authors white men? Maybe that’s for a reason!

It’s like some people think reading female protagonists will increase a boys empathy and lead to a more aware, enlightened, and respectful adult. How ridiculous is that!

Monday, October 23, 2017

What The Antarctica Hole REALLY Is

So there’s a hole in Antarctica and nobody is sure why.

Well, not nobody.

I know.

A few scientists are pretty sure it has something to do with climate change, though they’re not quite sure what. In one interview, Well-Respected Scientist A said, “We’re pretty sure it has something to do with climate change, though we’re not quite sure what.” She also added, “Climate change is not a linear process,” which to me just sounds like excuses for not knowing what the icy heck is going on.

Then of course there are the conspiracy theorists who think it’s cthulhu, and this guy who thinks the hole is caused by, well…

But lucky for you, I’m here to set things straight.

The planet is a living, breathing organism. We all know this. The planet inhales carbon dioxide and breathes out oxygen. Sometimes living organisms ingest things that make them sick, which is when we get projectile vomit situations like Vesuvius and Pompeii. And then, after decades, centuries, and even millennia of digestion, sometimes a planet’s gotta poop.

Am I suggesting that the Antarctic hole is a giant sphincter, you ask? Well how else does an organism purge itself of all the filth we’re putting into it? Without cleansing itself we’re at risk of our planet getting a bad case of the hurricanes, if you get my drift. And we wouldn’t want that pockmarking the face of our beautiful home.

But the thing is, if this truly is a glacial opening of a planetary orifice, then the really important question isn’t what the Antarctic hole is, but what does Earth poop look like anyway?

Let me answer that by asking you a question.

What do gropers and blobfish have in common?

Just saying.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Nevuh Nev-Ah-Duh

When I lived in Nevada, it became pretty clear pretty fast that these are not judgemental people. They're more...leave me alone while I pull this lever people. Get out of my way on the belt loop because I'm not slowing down people. Smokes and cocktails in a whatever the blazes I feel like wearing people.

In other words, if you let them do them, they're happy to let you do you. They don't care.

Except for one thing.

Truly though, if you go to Nevada, you can get away with a lot. You can spend your entire savings on the slots and nobody will bat an eye. You can weigh 450 pounds and wear next to nothing to the theater and its just another night on the Strip. Heck, Nevada is a state where it's actually legal to vote Republican or Democrat or *gasp* even both. But there is one thing you can not, ever, EVER do in Nevada.

You can not say Nev-AHH-Duh.

It's Nev-EA-Duh, with the same bright A as Kansas and California. To a Nevadan, saying Nev-Ahh-Duh is like going to L.A. and saying CAUL-i-fornia, the same way you'd say cauliflower. (Which, in case you've forgotten in our drive-through culture, is a special type of cheese platter.) And, in a state with open-carry permits, this is not a mistake you want to make.

This is how that conversation usually goes:
Tourist: This place is great! How long have you lived in Nev-Ahh-Duh.
Nevadan: You're from the East coast aren't you.
Tourist: Yeah! How could you tell? We're from Boston and this is our first time acknowledging the existence of anything between the Mississippi River and Hollywood.
Nevadan: Here, come with me. There's something special I wanna show you in the basement of CircusCircus...

I'm not even kidding. Trumps mispronunciation when he visited Las Vegas is 99.9% of the reason he lost the state in the general election. (The list of top political issues Nevadans care about is 1. Correct pronunciation, 2. Illegal immigration, and 3. Free Public Parking.)

Just something to think about next time you're stopping through Vegas. Now excuse me, I have to go pack for my trip to New Yark.

Monday, September 25, 2017

From the Tweetdeck of Captain Blackbeard

Happy New Year to all, especially the ships I’ve plundered so hard they don’t know what to do! Love!


The Queen Anne’s Revenge has the best crew! I know crew. I have the best crew!

The papers keep rehashing our massacre five years ago--what about Anne Bonny’s missing loot! SAD!

East India Trading Co. invented rising ocean tides to make average man’s private fleets non-competitive. Disgusting!

Captain Kidd is, without question, the WORST EVER captain. I predict he will do something really stupid and then I’ll take over his ship!

I became captain all on my own, not with help from Ushkuiniks. Greatest pirate hunt! WRONG.

An ‘extremely credible source’ has signaled and told me Anne Bony isn’t actually a woman.

Anne Bonny is unattractive inside and out. I totally understand why her crew left her for Mary Read.

If Chelsea Bonny asked to hold helm for mommy while Anne gave ship away, fake news would say CHELSEA BONNY FOR CAPTAIN.

Queen Anne functioning perfectly. No matter what papers say. No time for fake news.

Eddie Teach Jr. did a great job. Transparent and innocent. Greatest pirate hunt in history! Sad!

Poorly rated Captain Kidd speaking badly of me. Then how come he’s always ogling my ships!!

My account so powerful I make my enemies quake and shiver in my tweet wake!

This is a photo of my luscious beard. It is the most luscious of all the beards. Look at it. Look.

Anne Bony says beard is fake--SO IS YOUR FACE! Beard is REAL. Fake news!






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