Wednesday Workshop: Tribes, Doubts, and Traps

Don’t walk into traps.

It sounds like sound advice, but we often just walk into them willingly or without knowing better. Here’s a hateful post, let’s call it out or pile on. Here’s a negative way of looking at the book market, calling it hopeless. Here’s to telling ourselves our writing will never get any better or anyone will even care or notice. Here’s to thinking we have to write in one genre, or there aren’t incredible opportunities elsewhere.

They are traps because this is you, or someone else, telling you how to think. It’s like a magical unreasonable godmother shows up and gives you a list of reasons to down on yourself, quit, or take a view of something that is one way of thinking straight to defeatsville.

Part of this is the culture nowadays. We live in a strange time, between a media-driven world and one driven by online tribalism. We used to be told what to watch and what to think by the media, now our opinions are being mostly formed by groups or ‘tribes’ online. We join a tribe for some particular belief, or form one ourselves, and we help spread the word. We may join multiple tribes for multiple causes, and we wrap ourselves in a particular way of looking at the world.

I was struck by last Monday’s presidential debate, and I went to sites on both sides. I don’t want to get today’s politics into this, but a larger trend fascinated me.

Both sides said they won.

How could that be? There is always a measure of ‘we won this’ hype on both sides, but regardless of what you believe or who you support, step back and take a look at what is happening. People see what they want to believe. The opinion is formed before the event, and the tribe’s view of the outcome is predisposed. Yes, we all like to think we are rationale, reasonable people and events shape our beliefs; but in a larger sense we often go into a new experience with a predisposed notion of the outcome.

Politics over (because, um, obvious), as I just wanted to use this as an example of how this tribal view happens. It is so hard to step out of one side or the other and see this happening, as emotions get in the way of reason and logic.

It is very rare something totally unexpected happens and we are taken by surprise and we change our views as a result.

Tribes spread views, and you could have one member say ‘the book market sucks’ and you (or a subset of the tribe) takes that as a truth. We tend to pick and choose the facts we use to make beliefs with that conform to the beliefs we already have. Well yes, of course, this is simple logic right? I am describing how rain is made or how a sunset works. Simple cause and effect is simple. What does it matter?

It matters when you talk yourself out of trying. It matters when you talk yourself out of success. A lot of life depends on being the last person left trying and working on the things you love – long after normal people wold have quit. There are always those stories of the entrepreneur or artist trying and failing for years when everyone around them telling them what they were called to do was hopeless and pointless – and then all of a sudden, success.

Validation.

What that person knew all along and tried in vain for years is finally proven to be something people wanted.

You need to set yourself up in that mode of thinking. You need to see yourself as a reclusive genius working on your next masterpiece, and the world just doesn’t get you. Not yet. If people don’t respond, it is just a matter of getting the word out. It’s never your work. It is just a communication problem. What you do is unique, powerful, and special. Skill matters, message matters, but stamina and staying power matters more.

Without the will and energy to take that next step, you never will.

Talking yourself out of your future is probably the number one danger to the success waiting for you. You need to get there, so don’t turn around or talk yourself out of the trip. If the trip sucks, don’t assume the next one will.

You need to keep trying.

You also need to have a layer of bullshit protection, and also be a little careful about what you hear in tribes. You come first, and your dream is valid and more important than everything else in the world that may be going on, distracting you, or possibly upsetting you. What happens every day really doesn’t last or matter, but the things you believe in and love will last.

Don’t let the everyday get in the way of your future.

Stay the course and believe.

Nina’s Lust: Book 9 of “Bikini Babes’ Carwash”

Nina’s Lust: Book 9 of “Bikini Babes’ Carwash”

Foamy suds covered my car’s windows, putting me in a sudsy fantasy land of white bubbles.

That is, until the neon-green bikini-covered breast pressed through the suds and mushed flat against my windshield. The suds crept around her massive mammary, the skin slippery against the glass, and the green fabric wet and threatening to pull off her body.

“Fuck yes,” I said, my head lost in a near-orgasmic haze as I bit my wet, red lip. I had one hand on the wheel, and my other hand hidden under a jacket on my lap, the jacket that concealed a hiked up skirt and black lace panties down around my knees. Needless to say, my other hand was the more busy one at the moment. “Scrub my fucking car you hot little bitch.”

“Excuse me?” Darthaniel’s voice came over the speaker of my phone, amplified through the car’s Bluetooth system to the speakers.

“Oh hey Darthaniel,” I said, “just at the car wash. I asked them to wash the grille.”

“Yeah,” he said, and I could almost hear his smile, “that’s what I heard. What do we have this week?”

“Car wash book,” I said, sliding forward in the seat to get a better grip under me, and I sighed at the sensation of my hand fully covering my skin. My panties pulled tighter around my knees as I forced them father apart. A set of pink-bikini covered breasts slid against the opposite side window and I let out a long, steamy sigh as I watched them slide all the way up the glass, pressing flat, round, and firm.

What I wouldn’t do to lick the fucking glass.

“Yeah?” Darthaniel said, expectantly like I was leaving him hanging. “So how was it?”

“Not what I expected,” I said, “before chapter one got over with I learned about how they put the entire car wash together, a bag of stolen money, a full-body massage parlor, an old unsolved crime, a near drowning, the city council being bitches about their business license, a miscarriage, and a broken vibrator. Then again, this is a book nine of a series, but still that getting started text was a bit thick.”

I slowed my hand’s pace to keep myself on the edge and talk with him, plus the girls had moved to the back of the car so the show wasn’t in clear view. Still, at this rate I would be steaming up the windows before I got to the full car vacuums. Thank God for the cherry car freshener they gave me since it would cover up the smell of pussy in here.

“Sounds like a lot of getting started text,” he said, “did it ever get going in a good way?”

“This was more a romance book,” I said, daring to expose a little more of my bare upper legs out from under my jacket as I shifted in the seat and continued to work myself. Part of me wanted one of the cute gals outside to see me and what I was doing in here, but another part of me felt a deep but intoxicating shame. “Really, once I realized this entire book was more like a copy of a soap opera digest I began to enjoy it. There is a she likes him, he slept with her, they did this, she had that problem with her, and what is this other girl going to do once she realizes she has bigger dreams to follow. The sex was brief and a bit short at best, and I wanted to see more of that bonding and lust going on.”

“Wait a minute,” he said, his voice filling the car over the speakers. I had the bass on my system turned up, so the rattle of his voice permeated me in a deep, but satisfying way. I thrust a finger deeper and nearly rolled my eyes back into my head, letting out a long, wet sigh. “This sounds like a crazy book Sylvie, really. Where is the thrill? You know, that sort of forbidden and nasty thing that would happen at a car wash filled with hot, wet, scantily clad babes? You know, things like sexily playing with a hose, two girls kissing each other, and one reaching under her bikini bottom while a horny customer watches through the glass.”

That did it.

“Oh my God,” I said as the nasty images bounced around in my mind, and my hand went into overdrive. I felt myself panting uncontrollably as I worked myself faster towards the end. “Oh God, yes.”

“Excuse me?” Darthaniel said over the phone.

“I said, oh my God…you are so right.” I felt my insides melting away as my haze turned towards that moment where one walks dangerously close to the edge of the cliff. It was coming and I knew it. Once wrong word or touch would set me off. “At times this read more like a case study you would read in business class, and the others it felt like a soap opera. It did have a lot of characters bouncing around in there, and at times it felt a little much to keep track of them. Did I enjoy it? Yes, as a sort of soap opera sort of relationship book where we get to peek inside the lives of a bunch of interesting gals running a business. Did it need some more kinky stuff? I would say yes, plus more of that sexy car wash fantasy stuff. You know, like watching these gals through the glass and having those sexy thoughts about them.”

“That’s what I would have expected,” he said. “So, a recommend or not?”

I closed my eyes, pushed my jacket all the way up to my hips, and brought myself right up to the edge.

“A soft yes,” I said, my voice lost in lust. “Really. I mean. Okay, it was interesting. And a book nine. I wanted more though.”

Right there I lost myself, and the world melted away.

“I gotta go Darthaniel,” I said between breaths, hanging up the phone before he could say goodbye.

“See you soon,” I said to no one, the side of my head against the seat, my breasts heaving under my shirt.

I felt the spasms subside and my world drifted back to normal.

A tap on the window woke me up.

Two scruffy, yet ruddily handsome, Hispanic men in body shirts stared at me through the window, both smiling like a cat who caught the mouse. They had towels in their hands and they were drying off the crystal-clear windows.

Oh shit.

How long had they been out there?

“You want us to vacuum?” one said, half-laughing and shaking his head. “My hose is ready.”

I shook my head ‘no’ as I shoved the jacket between my legs, and gave the two of  them my best, wide-eyed innocent look.

“No thanks I’m good,” I said as I waved, winked, and drove away.

“Maybe next time.”

Wednesday Workshop: Just Bitch or Get to Work

There are times I feel exactly like that.

You can “just bitch” or “get to work.”

The two are really opposites, and there is plenty of things in this world that set me off, social media, politics, insane statements, and sometimes life itself. At times it feels like being able to focus is a skill that is so hard to nurture, as we live in an age of pointless distraction.

Bing!

Look at this, a headline popped up on my phone. Look at this social media post. Look at this, look at that.

And I am guilty of just mindlessly bitching about social media and what it does to people, and then I tell myself one could bitch about social media until the end of time and accomplish nothing.

There are things in this world which are black holes of wasted time, energy, and effort. Even mentioning and commenting on them sinks you further into the abyss. There is nothing good to come of commenting on certain subjects any further. It is like the current state of politics in certain countries, there is a time when I am done listening to pundits, my mind is made up, and no further controversy or shocking event can sway my mind further. I am done with you, news and commentators. I am done. My mind is made up and I will vote my conscious the way I see things at this moment – when the time comes.

I am done.

And in that moment, I find a freedom and peace of mind that I have always sought but never possessed. The television can come on and the talking heads can fight, a vitriolic post can scroll by on Facebook, and all hell can break loose but I ignore, change the channel, and move on with more important things in my life.

I have made up my mind and I am done.

I can move on to better things. I can focus on my projects again. I am free. I no longer am affected by hateful words or posts. I am immune to the pointless ravings of talking heads.

Again, just bitch or get to work.

In this “just bitch” is exactly what it is, just bitching. A pointless waste of time trying to win an argument on the Internet. You have to teach yourself to just walk away, even if the outcome you fear so much comes true.

Guess what?

Life will go on, and you need to get on with it. I could bitch about how unfair life is all day long, but the only thing that would do is rob me of the chance to live it.

So maybe that bill comes due and the money you planned for other things needs to get spent on keeping your head above water. Maybe you get sick. Maybe you lose your job. Maybe the person you want to win doesn’t. Maybe someone says something about you that hurts. Maybe your car got wrecked. Maybe you lose someone or something you love.

It hurts.

And I have been there.

And there is nothing I can really say except you can choose to live in sorrow, misery, pain, or hatred.

Or you can move on and live the rest of your life the best you know how. Learning how to forget sometimes is what we have to do, and what those who love or loved us would want us to do. Those that love us never would want to see us sad, so a part of coping with loss and setbacks is putting that next foot forward and deciding you want to keep walking through life.

To not, “just bitch,” but to “get to work.”

And life, yes, sometimes is it work. Shutting up and doing what is expected of you. Doing what you know needs to be done instead of taking time for yourself. It is the sacrifice we make to live how we choose to live. Mind you, we can’t work all the time, and taking time for ourselves is just as important sometimes, and you need to know when you need to do this – and stick to your time-off plans.

Again, you made your mind up. This is the way it is going to be. You can listen to compromise and reason, but getting caught up in the shifting winds of changing your mind each day is no way to live. It is no way to find peace in your mind, and in your heart. You are building your opinions and beliefs on the sand of what is told of you each day, and there is no way to ever build upon something which cannot support anything.

You will never move on if you live entirely in the moment.

So, what does this have to do with writing? It is a good question because at times I find myself wandering in my thoughts for a while before I can bring a discussion to a cognizant point. It is just who I am and how I write, and sometimes the random points and observations make sense after I explore for a while to find out what is bugging me, and how this all applies to being a better writer. There are times when I want discreet and to-the-point information, such as when to use a comma or a period. There are other times when I have a larger train of thought circling an issue like clouds around a hurricane. This is one of those moments where you have to understand the majesty of the storm before you understand why it is here.

It is this.

We can get lost so easily. We can let external events control who we are, when we work, if we work, and the quality of our work. Now this applies to not only the work you do for money, but your creative work as well. You can go to a job and feel constantly distracted all day, finding little things to distract yourself with, never getting a damn thing done even though you know you should, and before you know it you go home with no real sense of having done anything but waste your time and the person paying you.

This probably makes me a terrible employee, but hear me out.

This can affect your creative work as well. Another day goes by without writing a damn thing. Uncompleted series sit on the shelf. You feel neither motivated or interested in starting anything. You feel it is over. You again find little things to distract yourself with all day, games, news, social media, or anything to keep your mind occupied from doing what you have to do – or what you love to do.

Yet, you do great work.

When you do find motivation, you do great work. It is not like you don’t know your stuff – you do. You sing when you should sing, and everyone stops and listens. You shine in whatever you do, and people take notice not because they are being nice, but because you honestly do some incredible stuff. People tell you what a great worker you are, and what a creative and skilled person you are all the time.

Yet you never feel it.

So you end up rejecting that notion of your skill and talent, and you distract yourself again. You may not even care at this point, as you are unhappy and even the prospect of doing a good job and appreciated for that means nothing to you.

Maybe you are truly unhappy and you need to change your life.

But the only way out, for me, has been through hard work. At the places I have worked and the creative pursuits I have chased, I found that there is this highly uncomfortable period when I thrust myself back into a task or a project where I hate what I am doing. It causes me stress. I find myself struggling at the most basic of tasks. I dread coming back. The work is hard. I want to be doing anything else than what I am doing.

Distractions call to me like sirens perched on the rocks.

Bitching is an unproductive way out.

But if I stick with it, either at work on when I create something beautiful, it always pays out. It always does even if it never does. The pain was worth it. I did a good job. The task is done. The book is written. Editing is over with. Something beautiful has been created and released to the world, where it can change lives and entertain those looking for a moment of escape.

But I made a decision there, just like I did when I chose to make up my mind.

I am going to get this done.

I am done hating what I do or bitching about it.

I am done, and this is getting done.

I am going to subject myself to a little discomfort now, but after a while, I will really get into what I am doing and enjoy working on the task or creating what I love to create. I will get over that initial shock of hating working on something, and I will find myself in my work again.

And I love finding myself there, because this is who I am.

A hard worker and I take pride in this fact.

And there, in that realization, that peace of mind comes back and I am me again. The creative and productive person I know. The one who can blow off distractions. The one who can sing and shine. The one who looks forward to diving into a job or a creative task the next day.

Even if it takes a little effort to get started sometimes. Forgive me, but I will eventually get there and I can live with that. But that fact does not make me any less of a hard working person or a creative soul. Simply put, understand we may not always feel motivated to do something, but ignoring that lack of motivation and powering through that rough part of getting started is a skill that could change your life.

Be proud in your ability to start a task and stick with it.

And also, be proud of who you are.

Bossy Request

Bossy Request

He looked up at me with his steel-blue eyes and the casual smile that melted my heart. His elbows rested on the quartz counter-top of his expensive kitchen, one in a neighborhood where I had to be buzzed in just to drive the streets and every house looked like something out of a dream, impossibly large, and impossibly beautiful.

Like him.

The man of my dreams is a multi-trillionaire, and while I suppose he could be my boss in some fantasy I decided that my fantasies would be now and I would drink of them as deeply as my eyes feasted upon every fire of his being.

Mister Wolff Sharke.

He had invited me here for dinner.

He smiled as he tapped the spatula on the counter, the puzzled look in his eyes drawing me in. He looked down, guiltily, and then back up as I threw my jacket over the back of the overstuffed leather couch and I closed with him, narrowing the distance between us.

He remained in the kitchen, waiting for me.

“What happened to the chef you ordered for us?” I said, being deliberately coy.

“He couldn’t make it,” Wolff said, “and I realized I am at a bit of a loss at this whole cooking thing.”

“You know Sylvie,” he said as he examined the box of Hamburger Helper in his hand, “I just can’t figure this stuff out.”

My long, slim, and hard-working fingers snatched the box from his hand. He gave me an innocent look, and I ignored him at first, resting my eyes on the back of the box for a moment as he took me in. His cologne hit me, and I am sure my perfume hit him as I notice the sudden jolt of my scent touch his nose with his eyes reacting in tow. I read the box but not really, letting him stare all over me as I leaned against the counter, nodding my head slightly as if I were taking the carefully written words of a food marketer down, and wondering how many times they fucked this recipe up in the test kitchen before they agreed upon these measurements and cooking times.

Finally, I gave him the look he waited for, my eyes staring into his. I waited a moment before speaking, moving my lips slightly to watch his eyes dart down to them and back up into the pools of my attention, and then I gave the anticipant man the exact words he needed to hear.

“Are you good,” I said, “at following directions?”

He nodded without saying a word.

“Then bring me your meat.”

I opened the box and grabbed a copper pan and spoon from overhead, as I readied the stove for tonight’s festivities. I filled a measuring cup with water and placed it to the side of the stove, separating the sauce packet from the dried noodles, and then turning on the stove as the pan heated.

He stepped behind me and wrapped me entirely in his attention, one arm to each side of me as the heat from the stove rose between my breasts.

“Where do you want me to put the meat?” he said, placing a paper-wrapped pound of ground sirloin on the counter next to me. “Do you want me to put it in now?”

I shook my head and teased his face with my hair. “Not yet, wait for the pan to get hot, we want a good sear on it for the flavor. Cooking is all about flavors, you know, knowing how to pull them out, how to nurture them, and knowing what flavors go with what. There is also a question of too much, too fast, and too slow, and knowing when those moments are good instead of bad.”

I grabbed his wrist with my hand suddenly, and I felt him jerk in response.

“Sometimes readers need a good shock to the taste-buds every now and then,” I said. “Life is a mix of slow-cooking and sudden, bold flavors. You need to know when, and you need to know those you serve. The dish matters, but the moment and audience do as well.”

I paused and smiled. “It is like this book I read…”

I felt him silently laugh behind me, as the sudden rush of air from his nose tussled my hair. “Here we go again…”

“Silence,” I said, “and follow directions. So this book, a secretary and her hot boss. She spends the whole first part lusting after him, watching him in the company gym, taking in the scent of his cologne, and just drooling over every task he assigns to her in Outlook. I half expected her to go back to a private office, strip nude right there at work, and begin touching herself on a vacant desk until her inbox was filled by those long fingers of hers. Those long legs planted on the desk with her knees bent sharply. Those stockings still on, and her heels planted firmly on the surface. Her hands searching and long fingers probing like a metadata search for the word pleasure.”

I paused. “I know I would.”

He jerked, and rested his chin on my shoulder. His hands wrapped around my waist. “Remind me to hire you for something, anything.”

I continued to cook while I let him simmer.

“So he invites her back to his place for dinner, and then does the whole spill scalding coffee on herself thing so he can get her shirt off in his office. I didn’t like the whole scalded skin bit, as I seriously stay away from burn injuries in my erotic romance, but it luckily turned out to be a no-harm done thing and the two of them had some near-misses and skin-on-skin time in the workplace. I liked it, and it was a tasty bit of appetizer before the main course.”

“I like it,” he said, speaking dangerously close to my ear, “she sounds fun. What would have you done to seduce your boss?”

I smiled. “Pop a coffee pod into the machine, press the button, and then sit on his desk in front of him in a skirt short enough for the gals on the morning news while it brews. Do the whole crossed-leg thing as his mind searches for a way to crawl up my skirt. Uncross them and rest them the other way for a while. The slow tease as the coffee assaults his senses. Spend a couple moments too long at the machine asking him how he likes it as he checks out my ass under my pencil-thin skirt. You know, the whole letting him fuck me with his eyes thing.”

The meat went in the pan as the sear of the sizzle sending a cloud of steam into the air, and I felt him stiffen behind me.

“I wouldn’t have let you get up off the desk,” he said into my ear in a low tone of voice, and I felt the shiver of pleasure race down my spine.

“Don’t sharpen your pencil yet,” I said with a smile, waiting for the meat to sear before turning it over to sear the rest, “I’m not done. So anyways, she gets to his place and lo and behold, the cook is a no show and he is screwing up dinner. I loved that part, because it let her ride into the rescue. She cooks, and he spends the rest of the night getting close to her, which was a fun little scene and I just loved the turnabout. He had these sort of silly dom things where he told her what to do, but she remained herself and in control of the kitchen and I loved that.”

I waited as I cooked and he never removed himself from my back. He gave my waist a playful squeeze as he watched me cook over my shoulder. Of course, I knew he checked out my handiwork in the pan just as much as he spent staring down my shirt, because men think with their stomachs and follow other parts of their anatomy like a cart attached to a horse.

Except tonight, I was driving.

“Did they have sex?” he said, brushing the side of his face into my hair.

I nodded, making a mmm-hmm noise as I finished up the meat, poured the water in and mixed in the sauce packet. I covered it and turned around in his arms.

“I liked it.”

And really, that is all he needed to know. I let my voice dip down into a husky range I rarely use, slowing my words, and letting my tongue help pronounce the words in a more sultry way.

“A lot.”

And that is because I wanted to turn up the heat just a little more to get tonight’s main course to a rolling boil.

“This one was a great little office romance, plus a scorching wild romp afterwards as dessert. I loved the writing style here, everything teased and laid on the layers of sensual. The expectations and emotions stacked up like a seven-layer chocolate cake, and by the end I was ready for a glass of wine and some bath and candle time alone. This one was a great little short about someone working under someone in more ways than one, and it lit a fire in me that won’t easily be sated.”

“By the way…” I sighed and gave him a relaxed smile. “What’s for dessert?”

He held up a box of no-cook, easy-bake peanut butter cup dessert with the chocolate Graham-cracker crust.

Wednesday Workshop: Brevity and Completeness

Brevity or completeness?

As writers, we revel in completeness.

We feel the need to show readers how smart we are with a complete breakdown on how a fantasy society works, the complete process of how a starship’s engines convert matter into energy, the complete family history and tangled webs for the setup of a romance novel, and the entire life story and ‘why’ of a heroine and how she can never trust another man again. You may see us doing long ‘info dumps’ at the start of a novel just to get all of that out there so readers can love us even more for our weaving of the web and mastery of the complexities of relationships, tragic histories, or the workings of star-drives or fantasy kingdoms.

As readers, we value brevity.

Who cares? Please get this over with! Is there something happening here or is there going to be another long-winded, talking-down-to explanation of something or someone’s bad day or life that our eyes bleed with boredom and our mind reels with nervous anticipation. If you can’t stand techno-thrillers with the inner workings of how a computer or jet aircraft works with this piece of technology or that weapon’s design, how is it that romance does the same thing with endless backstories and inner monologue that essentially lays out the same ‘why something happens’ in the same way?

We want it over with.

We wish all this backstory or technical detail were somehow introduced to us piecemeal, mixed in with dialog and action so we could get things going and the story off to a great start. We don’t need to know paragraphs on how a computer works just like we don’t need the same amount of backstory on her troubled life.

We can hint at it. We can drop little bits here and there as we go to create interest, and get the reader wondering why. We can get the story going with her sitting in a bar, and maybe acting a little strangely, but then us figuring that out from the little tidbits dropped along the way.

She brushes the stranger off saying, “Not again.”

She hangs out a little bit too close to her friends even when they say she should go over to his table.

Someone mentions Mexico, and tells her she should go because she has her passport.

She says no.

She looks around at the place where her heart was broken before.

The tan line on her ring finger.

She keeps looking at the door when someone comes in.

As a reader, a match is lit in my mind. What is going on here? Why is she so reserved? Who is she expecting to walk in? Mind you, we aren’t told anything else but this, and all of a sudden, we are trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together in our minds. The blank spaces here are just as important as the pieces we do have. If we could only figure out where this one goes, and that one looks like it goes up there…

And the other book lays all of this out for us. She met her first love here. They had a whirlwind romance. They fell in love. He swept her away to Greece, to some deserted island, and he proposed to her. She wore the engagement ring for months. He needed to take care of something before the wedding. She never heard from him again. She called and called. He never called back.

She gave up waiting.

Yes, that is a great story, but there is a difference between a great story and a great introduction. I love the scene in the bar with all the questions raised, and this sets me on a ‘page flipping odyssey’ from page one. I love that backstory to death, but I do not want to see the book start with laying all of these cards on the table. It is like the thrill of being told a great ghost story, but having the person telling you the story start off with the secret behind the ghost.

The fun is spoiled.

The little mystery and raising of anticipation is ruined.

I want to figure things out for myself, and not be treated like I need to be told everything. Mind you, I want that little backstory about him and her and Greece to still be there when I figure everything out, but I don’t want the writer to mentally take notes in chapter one and lay out the book, or even the character biographies for me in these long-winded, ‘getting started’ paragraphs where you can almost see the writer taking notes on the page to lay out characters, places, and plots.

I want a little more sophistication than that.

I want to start in media res and be thrust into something where I have to read carefully and pay attention to get my sea legs under me and grasp what is going on. Put in ion the party talking to important characters from page one, and skip[ the entire ‘driving there’ scene where the main character spends 4,000 words of mental narrative laying out the who, what, where, when, how and why of everything we are about to see. Mind you, the five W’s plus the how are all important points to hit, but a great writer can hit those while at the party, mix them into the action, and keep readers guessing and wanting more while ratcheting tension up, either dramatic or erotic.

We don’t need the entire plot laid out for us ahead of time. If the antagonist is a bitch, we can easily show that at the party instead of have our main character tell us that hours of reading time before we even meet the bitch.

We could do that on the first line, if we choose, with not one word of setting up happening to ruin the surprise.

“Well,” she says, “not every fairy tale can come true. Welcome to life.”

That. That is the first line of my book. The bitch laying out a zinger and our heroine at the bar, retreating back into her gaggle of friends to regroup and recover from having that sunburned patch of emotions slapped raw.

I don’t need to lay out their relationship first, nor do I need to lay out what happened. She is a bitch and did a typically bitchy thing, and the reader is rubbed raw by this all-too-familiar event. Do I have that backstory written and how the bitch came to be a bitch? Oh yes, I have all my writer’s notes squirreled off here in secret in a safe place, and I will be pulling from them as I need them. Like the squirrel with her stash of food for winter, I won’t be revealing them all at once, and I will pace these reveals off when I need to show another part of the story and advance the plot another notch or two.

I have a lot of notes to pull from too. Ninety percent of writing a complex book is taking a lot of notes the reader will never see. I will have notes on what happened on the day he proposed, what he wore, what they did that day and week, some of those moments on the slow boat ride together, and a lot of material I can pull from as I write this twisting tale of lust and loss.

If I have to make something up?

It goes in the notes right then for the record, and also to make sure it doesn’t conflict (or I conflict it later with something else). If I am making too much up it is time to make more notes on the events I may need to pull from now and later.

We can have brevity while delivering a complete experience.

We achieve this by being complete in our plans, yet never revealing them all.

And being selective and patient when we do.

Kor the Savage

A set of thundering hooves came close behind him and he risked a glance over his shoulder. It was Andara herself astride her great white stallion, the Amazon chieftain galloping hard on his tail. In one hand she gripped her horse’s reins, in the other she swung a loop of rope above her head. Her naked, tan breasts bounced unfettered as her steed galloped beneath her; her long red ponytail fluttered behind her like a braided horse’s tail.

She cast the rope. The air whistled with hemp.

Kor the Savage: Barbarian lust in an erotic world

Savage swords and sorcery barbarian meets futanari Amazon chieftain in a violent world?

I’m in.

This one surprised me and it is a real gem for cross-gendered adventure fans. This story is written in that savage, rough and bloody style of ‘conqueror’ books, with a barbarian hero and a well-endowed in more-than-one-way sidekick Amazon, and the two wrestle, fight, banter, and make love as savagely as the world is deadly and I devoured this one like a leg of lamb pulled from a spit and offered to me in a tribal gathering.

The atmosphere here is dead-on perfect, and we even get the sights and sounds of this world along with that dirty, gritty feeling. The imagery of the barbarian and the Amazon futa chieftain making love in the dirt, wrestling down a hill, and then ending up in the mud and water to finish is something out of a movie, and it fit the feel of this book perfectly.

The sex is good, if not just a tiny bit on the short side, but this is a short story so more sex would have meant less sword-swinging so I was fine with it. The book made me want to read a longer version of this tale, and I feel it is truly something that could be expanded to epic length and enjoyed.

Some of the genre’s tone and color notes are hit upon in this book as well, and it feels like it was written from a fan of the savage swords and sorcery genre. Oppressive cities filled with distrustful citizens, wild plains filled with Amazon tribes and the freedom of the wild, and hideous monsters lurking in dark towers. The tale does not feel like it was pulled from some tabletop adventure or MMO either, it has a genuine air of authority and honesty written from a fan’s perspective, and it thrills and entertains with its mix of savagery and sexual situations.

The futanari angle fits perfectly, and I could imagine a tribe of Amazon she-warriors roaming around a world like this and our barbarian hero using the lot of them (and them as well in a mutual fashion) for savage and rough-riding pleasures. I enjoyed this one immensely, and it is a well-deserved and fun romp through a savage world filled with sword (and ahem, spear) swinging women of a feral world, and the long-sword wielding barbarian who rides with them.

Me wanting more is the sign of a good book, and that is really my only fault here. This is one I felt I could have lost myself in, and it is a brief taste of a job well done.

Sunday Writing: One + One

Oh, beautiful fears with your twin shadows uncertainty and doubt. How you never escape us, unlike the glory days of the past. How we remember these days, flashes here and there, memories of the best and rarely the worst. Except if those times were truly terrible, and then we can recall every moment, second by second, with random snapshots filtering through to our memories to begin the painful process of remembrance once again.

Though in a way, we need to remember these times. This is what makes us human. Sorrow and doubt. Happiness and the power to blissfully forget. Hope for the future.

We are each still here, living our lives on the paths upon which we choose.

Doing the best to our abilities.

Living.

For some, that is enough. For some, just being able to share is enough. We can dream of golden days ahead, but many of us know any road ahead of us is long and hard, and we can either enjoy every bump and pothole along the way or dread each. For me, it is a mix mostly, there are times when I bemoan the difficulty of life and complain about how nothing is easy. How some days it is difficult to get out of bed in the morning, yet I must.

But there are other times, especially when I am sharing, when I realize how truly blessed I am to be alive.

To share is to live.

To contribute to this event call ‘life for us all’ is a blessing, even if I am one voice, never heard, in a crowd of billions. To be a part of this is an amazing thing. To share my vision of worlds and people to never be, yet these characters and places are crafted from pieces of us all is so special and once-in-my-lifetime the magic is undeniable.

Even if only one person reads what I do and is touched.

This is an amazing thing.

And tomorrow comes with its heartaches and tough times. Bills appear in the mailbox. The sacrifice of work and its joys of contributing to a difficult world which I never dreamed I would be a part of is my weekly routine. It is pain, yet it is validation. I am someone. I can do good and great things outside of my creative box. I have value more than just dreams, yet my dreams are the things in which I live for.

They are important to the world outside my thoughts, just as much as the life I live and the things I do.

I suffer so I can create. I live so I can share. I dream and build so I can do so again tomorrow, even in the face of agony and tears, the bitter memories of a painful past, and the genuine belief that while there may be some days ahead which are just as tough, or tougher still, that on the balance all the good times coming up will be worth the trip.

I have to see these places.

I have to have these experiences.

I need to share, I need to create, and I need to be in a place of creation and excitement in order to live in the future I wish to live in. Moreso, I need to help others do the same. To help, to offer a hand up, even if it is through my own unique and biased view of the world, it is a hand up. A word said. A suggestion offered. A thought shared. To bring light upon something which would sit in darkness. I do not do these things because it helps me, but because I know the power it has in helping others.

If someone were to offer this to me, even if I did not entirely agree with the words which were said, I would be both excited and grateful at the time someone spent considering my work seriously and with thought, and then sharing that with the world. Helping others is a special thing, with rewards and a gracious and unselfish satisfaction a power all its own. One must help others without expectations to be able to feel this power, and then do so time and time again without bragging or raising one’s own value in pride envious of others.

What we do in public does not make us great, it is what we give in silence.

The world needs more of this.

Not charity, but honesty and an honest effort to lift others up.

To bring light to darkness.

To admit wrongs.

To right them and be able to move on.

It is always better to move on, and again, the power of those better days ahead is what makes living for the future always better than living in the past.

What I do isn’t perfect, but it is me. I don’t admit to being anyone or anything special, nor do I want to be. I say things as I see them, and I expect you to disagree. What I write may not be the things you like. I don’t expect them to be, but again, they are a part of me. What I do is what I do.

And I expect these things to be true of everyone.

And I smile at the uniqueness and individuality of every soul on this journey with me.

It is what it is, I suppose. But this thing called sharing is special. To bring a light into another life. To suffer through the painful creative process to bring a new idea into the world, and to watch that idea live and take on a life of its own. And when we see how our creation changes a life, we silently smile and know that the path we walked to get here was worth it.

And that the path ahead will even be more so.

Come, walk with me.

Let us see this future together, no matter where it brings us. Good times or bad, I have a plan, and so do you. Events may bring us together, or they may send us far apart. But we shall take special satisfaction at having been here, together, in this singular, rare, moment in time. That connection, that shared experience, and this moment is what makes the memory of this time special in the faded photographs of our minds, years from this moment.

Me, speaking to you.

And you, speaking to someone else.

Creating, then sharing is that connection.

One, plus one.

Wednesday Workshop: Demonetization

This is a big issue, but one writers of mature content should be aware of in today’s climate. I picked the above video as an example of the negative opinion of the demonetization issue, and to be fair, a search on Youtube brings up a wealth of pro- and anti- opinions on the subject:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=demonitization

What is demonetization? Youtube is removing monetization (i.e. getting paid for ads shown on your videos) from videos that are not ‘advertiser friendly.’ Again, to be fair, Youtube has a right to say yes or no to show anything on their site, and advertisers have a right to say ‘I want my ads to be shown on this type of content.’

But the policy bothers me greatly, and you see this mainstreaming “de-platforming” force happening everywhere and not just Youtube. Content that is independently produced about any sort of controversial topic, such as depression, political opinions, sexual humor, violence, profanity, speaking about drugs or war, videos of natural disasters, or even head-scratcher subjects like acme treatment (watch the video, why an acme-treatment company wouldn’t want to advertise on acme-treatment videos boggles my mind). If you want to read the advertiser guidelines, here is a link to them, and I posted a screenshot of them below (for newsworthy comment and discussion):

https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/6162278

policy guidelinesWe see this same type of force working against books confined to ‘adult dungeons’ in online bookstores – where they don’t appear in search or categories and their ability to earn money is greatly reduced. Mind you, a book in an ‘adult dungeon’ still pays creators if it is sold, so the comparison is not entirely fair, but the reduction in revenue is a force similar to a demonetization policy.

Again, to be clear, book publishers are in a better position – at least we get paid.

We can’t be found, but we get paid.

Now, with videos, this is happening to everyone else who produces content which can offend someone is subject to having their monetization removed, and thus, censored because you cannot make money for producing content and it is not worth your time. Even though this content may have an audience.

To be fair, you can still post videos about controversial subjects – but they won’t be monetized. They have supposedly pulled back on this policy a little and put forth an appeals process, but to have anything like this seems heavy-handed and draconian. It scares people away and stifles speech.

There isn’t any money in making these types of videos.

Supposedly no advertiser wants to touch them.

Youtube is a channel, an everything network, people get that and so should advertisers who sign on there. This isn’t the public airwaves or even a cable channel. This is us, or it was supposed to be.

Now it is ‘don’t upset anyone.’

Sound familiar? Every book I write. Every social media account I manage. Sorry, you have been flagged ‘adult products and services’ you cannot advertise. Sorry, your books are erotica, they really aren’t shown or found that easily. Everyday I log into Facebook I wonder if my erotic fiction discussion groups will be closed. If your website is even somehow adult-related you can’t be found that easily in web searches.

Controversial content!

Sorry.

And now, it is happening to content creators who don’t even write adult novels. I know, we were the canaries in the coal mine here it feels like. Anything remotely controversial feels like it is being shoved into an ‘adult dungeon’ where it cannot be monetized or found. This is not just happening to people who create ‘sexually explicit’ content anymore, it is happening to everybody who does sexual humor, violence, vulgar language, speaking about drugs (even dealing with the side-effects of prescribed ones), and discussion of events relating to war, political conflicts, extremism, natural disasters or tragedies (even if graphic imagery is not shown).

So by these rules, you can’t speak about a hurricane or the damage it caused and be monetized. You can’t react to a political speech. You can’t drop an f-bomb in a review of a game or movie. You may upset someone.

Sorry.

Porn-pocalypse?

Speech-pocalypse.

What is the takeaway here? Are we screwed? As book writers, we are a little better off than those who make videos, and that is a shocking thing to be saying. They can’t create sexually-explicit content and be monetized, and we can. They can’t create controversial content and be monetized, and we can. Our books can still be bought and sold, even if they can’t be found. We still get paid for our hard work, even though it may be hard work to find it.

It’s not all so great for us, however. Their videos still appear in search, though one wonders when that shoe will drop since it did on us a long time ago. No one wants controversial subjects to appear in search by default, right?

Again, what is the takeaway? How can we not walk away from this and not feel screwed?

Direct customers to shops and platforms which support free speech.

Do not allow yourself to get sucked into supporting a platform with a monopoly on distribution. If you support a monopolistic platform and they screw you, you have a right to complain. You also have an obligation to walk away and bring customers with you to a platform where you and your fans will be treated fairly. With today’s monopolies these places may not exist, and your model for supporting yourself will not work with the smaller audience there.

You may be stuck working within the new guidelines if you choose to stay, because it is next to impossible to fight these Goliaths in technology. You never know, there may be a program to make the entire site’s content more friendly to a ‘world audience’ and therefore this content sterilization and ‘dumbing down’ happens because there are bigger fish to please than a lone producer such as yourself.

If we don’t support alternative distribution channels today they might not be there tomorrow. I admit, I am not the best example here due to time and my own actions, but I am thinking seriously about this.

I am changing my purchasing habits accordingly.

I am not so sold on the platforms which silence us, and the technologies and services which go hand-in-hand with these policies. A new phone or tablet? Being so attached to these services and systems? Maybe not. Not until things change, at least, because I have to be fair and give them a chance to correct this mess.

I can’t support you if you don’t support content creators and free speech.

I know you have to be accountable to your advertisers and make things better for them, but hey, you are probably the largest and most powerful corporation in the world – and you can do better than this.

I am sure there are advertisers who would love to be seen on those videos.

I would if I could.

Do those of us who produce ‘controversial content’ not want to advertise?

Figure it out “tech giants”, seriously.

But until then, as content creators, develop a distribution strategy that supports alternative channels that support free speech and paying creators for their hard work – and not judging them based on what that work contains. If there is an underlying principle here, one that guides my thoughts, network usage, directing customers, publishing, and purchasing habits – it is this:

“I can not support platforms which do not pay content creators for their hard work.”

…and…

“Do not judge me as a content creator or my contributions to society.”

Because seriously and honestly, if what I do is utter crap, no one will read or watch it, and the free market shall speak. No one will buy the book, the reviews will tank, and the general crappiness shall be known. If I made silly controversial content videos and no one watched them, seriously, then whatever few sub-fractional pennies that were made with 100 views isn’t going to hurt anyone. And also, people are smart enough to separate the ads from the video – we get it, these are Youtube’s ads for the service not the content creator’s.

We get it.

Do not judge the content creator. Do not judge the customer. This is all we ask.

We chose to watch this. We subscribed to the channel. We want to pay this person for what they have to say, and reimburse them for their time and creativity – no matter what the message is. It is our choice and our right to support people who create things we cherish and love. I will watch the ad knowing part of it goes back to the person who put this video up (and a part to the service hosting the video, I get that), and I know that ad doesn’t necessarily speak for or support 100% of the content of the programming just like it doesn’t on normal television.

We aren’t stupid.

Please stop treating us as if we were.

Sense of Sin

“Fair point, Miss Summers.” Would you like to get started, then?”

Breathing slowly, Beth tried to compose herself. She took care not to break eye contact with Adam. He smiled, looking deep into her eyes, his head tilted down.

She brushed her hand against the leather of her skirt, almost—not quite—pulling it up a little. Adam studied every move she made. Beth bit her lower lip.

Before she knew it, he was on her, his hand grasping her thigh and his hard forearm pressed against the nape of her neck. Her legs felt tiny in his strong hands, and everything about him overpowered her, his strength, his size—

Sense of Sin

At times, this reads like a Taylor Swift song, the heartache, the how could he, the sense of anger and a loss of control.

At others it seems like a lesson in obedience and dominance, with her commanding him as her submissive and the two of them finding completeness within each other through their twisted games.

And then, there is that tease, that little thing the writer holds out on you and keeps pulling away. The big reveal, hinted at and keeping you reading, while the cliffhanger at the end of each chapter keeps pulling the string and the mouse keeps just out of the reach of our paws. It is like me saying that my final verdict on this book is-

You’ll have to wait.

Keep reading.

Beth continued up to the desk, dropping her bag to the side and innocently cocking her head at Adam. She gestured to her leg, mouthing a little kiss. Never one to turn down an invitation, Adam leaned down, taking his time, feeling her anticipation, and kissed her foot. She wore a pair of black knee-high boots, and he could feel her shiver when he kissed them, shaking as he moved to the pale flank of her calf, bare and hairless. Then her leg-

Beth pulled her skirt up just a little. Somewhere between an invitation and a dare.

I tease because I can, and it keeps you reading. And you like it. The sex is powerful, leading, teasing, doting and lustful in its details and explicit nature. It commands and teases, pulling back at that right moment you wish the characters would just go all in and ravage each other, yet a patient hand guides this and carefully builds. If you don’t know how to carefully stoke a fire in a reader’s mind, pulling back when the reader wants more, and delivering after the ache is so great we cannot stand it anymore, you shouldn’t be writing erotic romance.

This? This is very well done and it stoked my fire perfectly. So my final verdict is a-

Patience.

There were moments which threw me, like a disjointed timeline and the point-of-view of other characters I wasn’t as interested in as I was the two main characters. Her and him. The jumping into the past felt odd, a revelation that I was thoroughly interested in but it did not have the impact I wish it would have had if the revelation was in the present time. If there was this open question floating about “in the now” about “will she or won’t she?” I feel this would have had more power and sting, and this would have been a real page-turner for me. It’s like weaving a “he is cheating on me” thread through the book and then resolving it by the end with the big reveal. But a big reveal lost in the past does not seem as powerful and engaging, at least in my feeling. But I admit, the question did have me turning pages, so it was well done.

The control and bondage was also perfectly done, with detail and those ‘little moments’ like kissing the scuff mark on her boot before being allowed to go further that I reveled in. The nastiness too, while father apart than in most erotic books due to the romance, was well paced and thoroughly delivered upon. It lit a fire, let it warm, and roared to life exactly when I wanted it to deliver heat and passion.

The snow flicked through the air, winter winds cutting across the campus. He considered checking again, if only to get in from the cold. Usually, Beth’s friend across the hall was home, but her door went unanswered as well, and the volume of the music she played was usually the dorm room equivalent of a tie on the door.

Do not disturb indeed, Adam thought. At least someone was getting lucky.

Not that he couldn’t do the same. Sooner or later, there would have to be someone else, for him and for Beth.

Not believing himself for a second, Adam turned his collar to the cold evening air and dropped to his knees, opening the bag he had brought. Not this time. Not with Beth. Beth was something different. He knew how to show her that.

Oh, romance, how you toy with my heart so. And how I love you for this mistreatment, relishing in every heartbreak and misunderstanding, finding myself flipping pages crazily to see if they will stick together or break apart. What I find myself lost in is how relaxed I am in this writing, it disappears and I am there, beside the characters, lost in their thoughts, and in that moment with them. Even their darkest, most intimate times, I am there. It is a powerful testament to the quality here, and it cannot be said enough how I appreciated the flow and the transparency of the style – while still finding time to highlight those little details of the falling snow and the turning of the collar against the chill of the air.

Well done.

Well done indeed.

So my final verdict? Is shall say this, in a great romance book, and also in a great erotic romance book as this one is, you will get that ‘final verdict’ well before the end. You will come to understand the message and even the ending before the end even comes. In this review, if I have done my job right, you will know if I liked the book or not before I even have to flatly tell you my feelings in a rating. It is an understanding delivered throughout the story and along the way, and this is the job of a great romance writer.

So in a way, you already know what I feel.

You understand long before the end.

And no matter the ending and how this comes out, you know.

Wednesday Workshop: Mechanical

The electrons light up pixels, feeding targeted content into our worlds. We don’t make these worlds, nor do we control them, as subconsciously biased hands write algorithms to control the streams of information we are expected to react to.

They show, we react.

I ask myself where are the streams of information I would want to see, grand, sweeping vistas of buttes and plains covered in snow, with massive elk herds wandering across the prairies as their breaths turn to vapor in the chill air. Rain-forests so full and lush the sky itself becomes a multi-layered canopy of green in a world where life itself clings to every surface, moss so thick one could lie on it like a mattress, and layers of rot and rebirth in an endless cycle of the meaning of life. Shorelines of rocky, jagged majesty where the spray soars high in the air and seagulls circle above, floating effortlessly in the sky as the pure azure blue of the sea contrasts the endless blue sky above, dotted by careless clouds, and covered in the warm sun.

These are the worlds we never see.

Instead, a dozen ‘top stories’ of celebrity and selected ‘news’ outrage trending on popular hashtags are my world every morning. Here are the things in which we feed you, now please comment. Please be a part of the herd. Please put your blinders on and see what the machine allows you to see. Please follow along.

We are expected to be triggered.

A trigger is a response, a mechanical reaction like the trigger of a gun. You pull it, and it goes one way, and something violent happens as a result. A simple action, requiring a simple word or impetus, resulting in a predictable result. If you see this, think that way please – everyone else does. If you don’t, you will be ridiculed and singled out. A trigger really only goes one way. See X, react Y.

We are not expected to think.

For in thinking, we can go any way. We can agree, disagree, agree to disagree, think something different, and respectfully discuss things and possibly come to new conclusions. Or change our opinions. Thinking does not conform to the simple world of machines, the binary codes that flip either on or off that computers ‘think’ in if you can actually call it thought. You see, computers cannot think, they can only react. For the worlds of social media to work they need to break down the complex interactions, or free thought, into simple reactions, for or against, like or dislike, share or ignore. When social media tries to create a “world” for us to see, it relies on programmed thought.

Programmed thought.

Think about that.

Programmed.

Thought.

That emerald green and lush rain forest? Ever see a computer-generated movie, and the trees look fake for some reason? They are placed too uniformly, the underbrush just doesn’t look right, and there are things missing which in real life would have been there. You know, because these are the things in which you have seen with your own eyes. That is the world created by social media. Fake. Programmed, Created for our consumption. Computer-generated and not real.

It looks, for all intents and purposes, like a discussion. Like a little society. Like a classroom where thought is openly discussed and new topics are as free to come and go as people are in the room. The topics are all selected for us. The discussion is all programmed to go one way, because the posts and ‘friends’ we see are the ones who think like us. The topics we see are the ones the machine chose for us to see that day, based on hidden computer codes that think for us, make the decisions for us on what the machine thinks we would like to see, and pre-selects and ‘generates’ the world we log into every morning.

It is as fake as that computer-generated forest.

There is no forest there, and there is no discussion there.

That forest was created by a computer putting trees where the computer thinks they should go.

That conversation was created by a computer populating topics in front of you because the computer thought these would appeal to you, either in the positive or the negative.

Two ways.

Forward or back.

Like a trigger.

But there is a larger problem. Our world shrinks. Imagine one of those majestic vistas in nature, perhaps one we have never seen before. Like the beauty of one of the world’s dying coral reefs, or the view from atop a grand and boundless mountain. Something if which we saw it, would change our lives. An un-Photoshopped view of the world. It would open our eyes a little more, and make us see the world as a beautiful (and sometimes tarnished and imperfect) place. Computers don’t know how to show us things that we may have no interest in, but may change our world once we have seen them.

It goes against logic.

We have no data on your ‘likes’ of waterfalls, and maybe you have never seen one, so no, we won’t ever show them to you. There is no data. You don’t get to see that. Sorry.

The computer decides for you, that you don’t ever get to have this life-changing experience today.

Thank you for using the service!

Instead of experiencing the world, opening your mind, and enjoying the first moments of new experiences – we become trapped in the mundane. Celebrity news. The outrage of the day. Polls as breaking news. New product announcements. Sports scores. Things which have already happened. Cat pictures. Viral videos. Trending hashtags. All the things in which we were interested before, but none of the things which may possibly change our lives.

Triggers, not experiences.

When I was growing up, my mother would always warn me about spending too much time in front of the television or the computer. “Get out there and experience the world!” she would say. Hang out with other girls, do some after-school activities, get involved with sports, go on field trips, travel, see the world, and visit the library. Read a book. Get outside that tiny, constrained world of television or online things.

There is more to life than what you see on a tiny screen.

It is admittedly harder today because we can take our television and online worlds with us on our phones’ tiny screens. Most people experience the Internet from the confines of social media, and more people experience the Internet via mobile devices than a traditional desktop. Augmented reality is a new thing, where the lines between social media and the real world blur.

I suppose this is how it is going to end, with that old-fashioned advice. There is more than life than the posts on your wall. The world isn’t a place where complicated issues can be boiled down into hashtags and triggering words to react to, either for or against. One of the skills you will need to exist in this new world is one common in the old world, the ability to think for yourself outside of social media.

Why does this matter? Experiencing the world makes you a better writer. Having the ability to have experiences outside of your tiny world enriches your writing, your depth of thought, and the ability to put people, places and worlds which you may have never seen into words. You need to experience to be able to share. You need to go outside your comfort zone to experience the things which may change your life, and which may change how you think. We need to be able to connect with people, to see different views, and to understand other points of view. Otherwise, how would we be able to write for characters unlike ourselves?

It all matters.

Thinking matters.

Experiencing matters.

Being able to escape the programmed box computers sort us into every day matters.

Escape the machine for a moment, and allow yourself to be amazed by the equally horrifying and life-changing moments this world has to offer. There is the negative along with the positive to consider as well, and we need to be open to the world’s hardships along with its wonders.

But more so, we need to open ourselves to having our lives changed by the things we may have never even considered to be a part of our carefully-controlled worlds.

Live.

Out there.

Outside the box.