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Creepy Villains, Strong Superheroes and Deceptive Music Boxes #IWSG #amwriting #Musicboxes

[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]

This month’s awesome Co-Hosts feature other fabulous writing friends:  Fundy Blue, Beverly Stowe McClure, Erika Beebe, myself, and Lisa Buie-Collard!

Check out our IWSG homepage.  And as always, thank you to founder Alex J. Cavaugh 🙂 


Do you have an all time favorite hero? What about a villain?

What was it about this character that moved you?

When I read the IWSG question of the month in the newsletter, immediately I thought of Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight. Creepy to the core from his crackled painted face, his dark eyes that held no light, and that scarred exaggerated smile.

He moved fast too, ending a pointed statement and adding fear as he shoved a bomb in a poor banker’s mouth. I cringed. I cringed a lot during the movie.

Even when I watched it for the second time.

Many posts ago, I talked about the importance of heroes and villains and how good heroes need great villains to create spine tingling tension. Not only tension, but believable tension. The audience wants to relate, to feel compelled to something whether it is the cause or a character.

I’m driven by character, whether good or bad.

To answer this month’s question, when I write, I mostly write for the hero. I do have a working manuscript in progress where I volley between both. I’m not quite  sure how this version will turn out. I’m not sure if I can dig deep into the heart of the villain to justify the greatness the character deserves. Time will tell.

Villains bring out the worst and  the best in heroes. Jack Gleeson states: “Both villains and heroes need to have a steadfast belief in themselves.”

What makes the Joker so creepy?

The Joker simply doesn’t care; he is an agent of chaos and loves destruction. “He simply wants to watch the world burn.” ~The writing cooperative

Questions: Who drives your books, villains or heroes? Do you think heroes can also have a sad dark side? Why do you pick the character you do?


Music Boxes

Speaking of great characters with great stories to tell, check out Music Boxes, by my writing friend Tonja Drecker.

The book jacket grabbed me at once:

“I only desire your talent…”

Twelve-year-old Lindsey McKay’s biggest dream is to be a famous ballerina. But after moving to New York, she ends up at the Community Center with a teacher who’s a burly bear in tights.

When she meets Madame Destinée, the teacher of a top dance school who offers her classes for free, Lindsey can’t believe her luck. In exchange, she must perform in the school’s exclusive midnight shows, ones sure to make her a star. But something’s not right…
One by one, the other dancers disappear. Each time they do, a music box with a figurine just like the missing ballerina joins Madame Destinée’s growing collection. If Lindsey doesn’t discover the truth about the dance school, she might end up a tiny figurine herself.

Where to Find the Book

About the Author

Tonja Drecker is a writer, blogger, children’s book reviewer and freelance translator. After spending years in Germany exploring forgotten castles, she currently resides in the Ozarks with her family of six. When she’s not tending her chickens and cows, she’s discovering new adventures, nibbling chocolate and sipping a cup of tea.


Links to Connect with Tonja

And A Really Great Video

Thank you for visiting today. Have a great rest of your week 🙂

Four Fast Thoughts on YA and MG Genres #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Author Toolbox Blog Hop

The Author Toolbox Blog Hop is “a monthly blog hop on the theme of resources/learning for authors: posts related to the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, blogging tips for authors, reviews of author-related products, anything that an author would find helpful.” Want to jump into the writing tool box? Search #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join via blog, click here.

Thank you Raimey!


In 2008, my son was born. My life changed. No longer quite so free to go out wherever I wanted, I happily stayed in with my first born, rocking him, cooing over him, helping him roll over and crawl.

In those quiet moments of holding him in my arms while he slept, I began to read again. On one of my mom’s visits from Colorado, she suggested we get out for a brief afternoon to see an actual movie—Twilight, the new hot young adult craze.

“Twilight?” I asked, because I hadn’t heard of it. I did want to get out though, and I sat in the packed theater gradually drawn into the slow, windy town, the character dynamics and new friendships. I loved every last bit of the movie along with the young audience. When I found out the movie stemmed from a series of books, I bought them all and read them each, word for word.

Twilight was my first introduction into the Young Adult genre. I quickly discovered other amazing authors like Becca Fitzpatrick, Maggie Stiefvater, Alyson Noel and Richelle Mead. Young Adult books seemed so refreshing with younger voices I could easily relate to, nail biting growth as they dealt with major life hurdles and humanely failed, then eventually succeeded to some degree.

Today in 2019, the genre has exploded—divided if you will. We have Young Adult with all sorts of subgenres. We also have Middle Grade, an equally healthy younger genre.

Some folks may ask, “aren’t young voices all young?” Definitely not. There’s a huge difference between books for Middle Grade and books for Young Adult. I had no idea some of the specifics were so detailed so I thought I’d mention a few today.


  1. Age Group.
    • An 8-11-year old perspective verses a 17-year old. The struggles are definitely different in an 8- year old world from a 16, even 13-year old.
    • Middle Grade stories are often told in 1st person perspective.
  2. Book Length.
    • Middle Grade is much shorter with an average word count between 30–50 K words verses YA at 50-75K.
  3. Voice through the world specific to the age.
    • Dialogue should sizzle with what your audience really says and would say or do, which is tricky sometimes when you think of bad language. In the articles I read, definitely think twice about bad language in middle grade books. A good point to consider: Middle Grade audiences often get their books primarily from parents, librarians, and teachers.

A great quote on what age to make your MC from article one in Writer’s Digest: “remember that kids “read up,” which means they want to read about characters who are older than they are.”

  1. Themes important to the different age groups.
    • Middle Grade focus on relationships in their world.
    • YA focus on what’s their world beyond their relationships.
    • Agent Alex Slater with Trident Media Group was quoted in Writer’s Digest as clarifying character and world to the different genres: “a colleague once said something like, ‘MG literature explores how a character finds the world, and YA literature examines how the world finds a character’.”


Any fun tips you’d like to share on YA and MG differences? I’d love to hear it.

Imaginative Potential in Useless Academic Requirements #IWSG #amwriting #WednesdayMotivation

[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]

This month’s awesome Co-Hosts:    Raimey Gallant, Natalie Aguirre, CV Grehan, and Michelle Wallace!

Check out our IWSG homepage.  And as always, thank you to founder Alex J. Cavaugh 🙂 


Galileo Quote

This past Monday while I was getting ready for work, while the pups wove in and out of my legs in the bathroom, the 6 a.m. news caught my attention. A survey of post high school students listed four top useless required learning items:

  • The Pythagorean Theorem
  • The Periodic Table
  • Protons and Electrons
  • The sum of Pi = 3.14 and then some.

Post high school students cited they not once used these formulas or learning points in school since they were required to memorize them, so why not take more classes in managing college student loans, learning how to do taxes, and how to budget money once out of high school?

Do I agree?

I’d have to say no, and maybe a little yes?

Math and Physics were not my friends. I’m a picture person. I don’t memorize lengthy jumbles of words and numbers without seeing a bigger application. However, just because I struggle to understand certain concepts, doesn’t mean these concepts shouldn’t be required learning. In fact, I believe in Plato when he said, “Geometry will draw the soul toward truth and create the spirit of philosophy.”

So where am I going with this conversation of science and math?

This month’s IWSG question asks, “Besides writing, what other creative outlets do you have?”

I find creative outlets in everything. From the way I cook, to the way I work on the computer as a graphic designer in Public Relations, to the way I write my notes on a page at work when my print and cursive swirl together, and my bullets become flaming falling stars (which aren’t really stars by the way). In fact, my whole note page may become one giant doodle.

Creativity never leaves us. We always find our own ways of self expression.

And what do math and physics have to do with creativity? Lately, they’ve been the source of my creative inspiration. My second draft in  my YA Urban Fantasy/Sci-Fi manuscript has challenged me to merge science and magic. I’ve had to revisit the topics I once dreaded, and am now doing it on my own terms. No horrid college textbooks. No over the head lectures where professors talk to the chalk board more than to my face. I don’t have that kind of time anymore, so I invest it wisely in YouTube PBS mini lessons in astronomy and physics. I’ve covered everything from magnetic fields, to electron charges, to neutron stars, magnetars, galaxy formations, and the importance of tides and how they shift with the new and full moons.

And required subjects in high school? Sure I would have loved to have taken accounting or a business class instead of Chemistry. I don’t think skipping Chemistry would have done me an ounce of good. Why? Required academics exposes our minds to unfathomable possibility. I now have a greater imagination, and it’s one mixed with science, hypotheses, and magical potential.

What about you? Would you agree with the post high school graduates? What was your least favorite subject in high school? Was any subject or formula useless to you? I’d love to hear it.

Surprise Disasters Bring Sunny Outcomes #thursdaythoughts #amwriting

May the very best outcomes find youThursday morning, after feeding my new sweet baby rescue pups, I heard a loud crash come from somewhere inside my house. The pups and I looked up. My heart pounded faster. Quickly, I scoured the house and nothing seemed awry. Kansas City temperatures have been dangerously low these past few days and I thought a huge branch or something might have fallen on the roof. Yet, nothing turned up. Not until I stepped into the garage, hit the button for the garage door, and strangely the door wouldn’t open. After careful inspection, I noticed the spring on the garage door broke. I panicked for maybe 60 seconds since I couldn’t get to work, and this is not the time of year for me to be stuck in my garage. Not in public relations. Not when I’m in charge of some major academic and legislative events.

The good news? The panic has passed. The garage door repair company is on its way, and the lesson is right out there in front of me.

Some days, the day has its own mind. That’s okay. We just have to decide in a moment how we can change our hearts with the new direction. Lucky for me, my new direction involves edits on a second draft of my manuscript while I wait.

We can’t plan everything. Some days we climb hills, and some days we ski with a beautiful finesse right down them. No matter what happens today, may the very best outcomes find you.

Happy Thursday all 🙂