Archive | May, 2011

Perspective and Wonder

18 May

by Kat Zhang


If you’re a visiter to my personal blog, you probably know that I left for Madrid, Spain yesterday and arrived this morning 🙂 Can’t say I’ve done much yet, but just walking around the city, it seems wonderful. And the weather’s fantastic. But you’ll have to go to my blog if you want travel posts; here on LTWF, it’s all about the writing and the story-telling (weeellll, not entirely true, lol). So what does my trip to Spain have to do with writing? Especially since I’ve barely gotten off the plane?


And this: 

And this: 

Yes, I have a bit of an obsession with photographing scenes outside plane windows. But it’s not just about looking at a pretty cloud or the way the sunrise looks from 4300 meters. It’s about a different perspective. It’s about wonder.

Perspective and wonder. Those are two very important things for a writer, I think–the ability to see something in many different ways, to look at something not just from your own perspective, but from someone else’s. To look at the cloud bank not as a 21st century girl who has been zipping around in planes since she was three, who should really be long jaded by the scene outside a plane window, but as a 14th century worker who can only dream of seeing what clouds look like from above, or as some nymph of the skies, who has seen nothing else her entire life–who sees this as home.

Well, I’m off to read my orientation packet and try to at least get a vague sense of the metro layout before I need to meet up with the other people tonight 🙂 I can’t wait to really explore the city: its museums, parks, shops, restaurants…

Perspective and wonder, right? :]


Kat Zhang is a Spoken Word poet and a Creative Writing major. She is represented by Emmanuelle Morgen and her book HYBRID–about a girl with two souls–recently sold to Harper Children’s. You can read more about her writing process and books at her blog.

How to Major in Awesome and Fun

17 May

By Sammy Bina


Well, it’s official! I graduated. I’ll never have to write another thesis, worry about being late to class, hike up a ridiculously large hill to turn in a bunch of useless forms, or do homework. As of Sunday morning, I’ve stepped into the real world. And you know what? It’s scary.

For the last five years I’ve been waiting for the day when I’d no longer have to worry about school. Since 2006 I’ve attended four different universities, each one a bigger challenge than the one before it. And while I accumulated a decent amount of knowledge from one very large stack of textbooks, I also learned a lot about myself. So, while I’m feeling nostalgic, I thought I’d take some time today to share a little of what I learned over the last few years in regards to being a Creative Writing major.

I’d like to preface this story by saying I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer. I began my college career as a journalism major, spawned by my love of Kirk Cameron (who played a journalist in that one movie, Left Behind). It sounded like such a glamorous lifestyle — jetsetting to all these foreign countries and interviewing important people. “I could totally do that,” I said to myself.

Well, it turns out I couldn’t. That was the first (and most important) lesson I learned in college: I wanted to write for myself, not because other people told me I had to. It was the reason I switched to Creative Writing and transferred colleges. Both of those decisions were key to getting me to where I am now. So I urge you all to remember, when you get frustrated with your writing, remember you’re doing it for yourself. What other people think doesn’t matter. If writing makes you happy, then that’s all that matters. Never let someone tell you differently.

As someone majoring in Creative Writing, it’s safe to say that you’re going to be asked the following question more than once (probably way more than that, actually): “So… what, uh, do you plan to do with that?” I was asked that so many times that, for a while, I really began to doubt my choice. What was I going to do with my degree? Being a writer wasn’t going to pay the bills. Hell, I didn’t even have an agent, let alone a book deal. I just knew that writing was what I loved to do and I learned to be satisfied with that. It wasn’t until after I figured that out that I really started looking into publishing.

And these days, I am satisfied. Quite satisfied, in fact. College was certainly a trip, and it had its ups and downs. But I can honestly say that I had fun. The Creative Writing department at my school was awesome. I learned so much about writing, characterization, setting, plot, and most importantly, how to put together a story the night before it’s due. I made great writer friends that I still have to this day. Which leads me to my next lesson: never turn away a fellow writer. Because no matter what, you’ll always be able to learn something from them. And you’ll probably make some really great friends in the process.

Another key piece of wisdom I’d like to impart would be this: don’t be discouraged. People are going to doubt you, including yourself. You’re going to get ripped apart in workshops, or by others who read your writing. You’re going to get ridiculously stressed out and wonder why you even bothered to go to college in the first place. There were definitely times when I considered dropping out and just looking for a job. But you know what? I stuck with it. And if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have this totally awesome picture to show for it:

(Yes, we’re 23 and still play Harry Potter in our caps and gowns.)

Some more advice: get involved. It’s so cliche, and everyone tells you how important it is, but it’s true. Most universities have some kind of newspaper, or magazine, or literary journal. Find out what your options are and sign up. I worked for my school’s literary journal for over three years, and I probably learned more from that than I did from my workshop classes. I saw so many different styles of writing, in so many different genres. I learned what worked and what didn’t. I also made writer friends which, as I said, are totally awesome. Tuesday nights will never be the same, knowing I don’t have a meeting to go to. But the 3+ years I spent with those kids and the stories we got are some of the best memories I have of my time in college.

Being a Creative Writing major also taught me not to be afraid to ask for help. I’ve always been pretty independent, but the last few years I’ve accepted the fact that sometimes I need help. Those writer friends I made? They were the people I turned to. When I couldn’t think of a word, or a name, or needed help with my effed up plot, they were there for me. And not just when it came to writing. They were indispensable in other areas too. When my work got plagiarized, when I moved halfway around the world, when I wrote my thesis, when I began querying, they were there. I’ll never forget that.

There are lots of other things I could say, but they don’t really have a lot to do with writing, so I’ll leave them out. But I can say this: two days after graduating college and I feel on top of the world. I’m still struggling to figure out what I’m doing, but I’m okay. I’ve got some time to make plans. Sure, the job market is terrifying right now. And I’m sure I’m going to be doubting my degree again in the near future. I’ll just have to remind myself that I majored in awesome and fun, and that if I try hard enough, I’ll find something. You guys will too.

So I know it’s cheesy and cliche, but I feel the need to remind all of you of one very important thing: Don’t ever let someone tell you you can’t do something. If you want to major in Creative Writing, do it. If you want to be a writer, do it. Don’t major in business if you’d rather be plotting novels. Do what you love. I turned out okay, and you will too.


Sammy Bina graduated with a degree in Creative Writing, and is an intern for the Elaine P. English literary agency. She is currently editing her YA dystopian, SILENCE. You can follow her blog or find her on twitter.

What Oprah Likes: Anathema or Must-Have?

16 May

by Savannah J. Foley


I recently saw someone online who could be classified as a ‘hipster’, ranting about how he would never read anything on Oprah’s book list, and looked down on those who do.

Now, we all know the stereotype: Suburban housewife who loves soap operas and celebrity gossip shows, crying when she watches Lifetime and breathlessly waiting for the next book in Oprah’s book club to be announced so she can meet up with her fellow soccer moms for ‘book club’ and complain about how they haven’t had time to read that week’s chapter.

But that stereotype isn’t true for a lot of readers. So why, when I was writing my review of  A MOUNTAIN OF CRUMBS, did I choose to decline to mention that Oprah had listed it as one of ’10 to Watch For’ in her magazine, O, in February 2010?

Is an endorsement from the queen of daytime television a prize or an albatross?

Let’s take a look at other books Oprah has recommended:

  • The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck
  • Night, by Elie Wiesel
  • Middlesex, by Jeffrey Euginedes
  • A Million Little Pieces, by James Frey
  • The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison

What’s so special about these five books? I’ve read them. I enjoyed them. The Bluest Eye is even one of my most favorite books of all time.

So… do I lose my street cred for this? (Do writers even have street cred?)

What if I told you that she’d also recommended The Hunger Games, in a list of books to steal from your teenager? Along with The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Number the Stars, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Hatchet?

The woman has an eye for good quality fiction, no doubt about it. So the argument isn’t ‘why would you read any of the crappy books on Oprah’s list’ but rather ‘why would you read something that’s so popular Oprah endorses it?’

In essence, why are you so mainstream?

‘Mainstream’ has a negative connotation. It means ‘everyone’s doing it.’ It’s popular. It’s easily accessible.

It’s… bad?

Recently I was reading in the New Yorker -Oh, side note: I get the New Yorker. Does that make me pretentious? Or is it such a popular magazine that it makes me mainstream? Does it matter that I got a wicked deal on my subscription, $25 for one magazine a week for the whole year, or I never would have signed up? Does it matter if that matters?

Anyway, I was reading an article in the New Yorker explaining the phenomenon of hipsters, and the author gave a definition/origin I hadn’t heard before: Hipsterism came about when individuals made an effort to partake of a culture that wasn’t mass-manufactured, that felt more organically developed and authentic.

And, you know, I get that attitude. Don’t create me a product line to tell me what I’m going to be into next. I’d much rather figure out what I’m into on my own.

But then the hipster movement turned into a quest to find things that no one else knew about; to be ‘into’ something before every other alternative-seeker was into it, because at that point the product would be mass-manufactured and become ‘mainstream’.

But books aren’t mass-manufactured. Not in terms of ideas. A team of executives doesn’t get together and get market data for their target consumer and pay a team of engineers a lot of money to design an appealing product (unless you work for James Frey). No, each book starts out as a love project, a spark of inspiration in the writer’s mind. Are there trend-chasers? Sure. But you can tell which books chased a trend, can’t you? No one’s going to put them on a Top 10 list.

So I’m not sure that books should fit into a hipster’s worldview on mainstreamism. Oprah didn’t design the books to appeal to her audience; she selected beautiful, humanity-filled, enriching works of art.

So nobody should feel ashamed to be reading something on Oprah’s list. Personally, when I see a book with an Oprah’s choice sticker, I get an immediate impression about the book: it’s good.

But why take pride in reading only Oprah’s choices, or reading only Oprah’s non-choices? Just read what you like, and if you have a source that weeds out a lot of flak for you, more power to you.

What do you think? Should who else likes books that you like affect your opinion of a book?


Savannah J. Foley is the author of the Nameless (originally known as Woman’s World) series on Fictionpress and is signed with the Bradford Literary Agency. Her website is, but she updates more frequently on her livejournal. She is currently working on editing Nameless to go out on submissions. You can read an excerpt from Nameless here.

Saturday Grab Bag: Mashup

14 May


Here are some great links on writing, the industry, and all things book related. Some are serious, and some are just downright hilarious. We highly recommend you read them!

– You might’ve heard about the uproar following New York Times’ Gina Bellefante’s review of GAME OF THRONES, the HBO adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series, A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. She claims Fantasy belongs to men – but this article looks at why fantasy appeals to so many women.

– BEST. COMIC STRIP. EVER. If you’re feeling the tiniest bit of doubt, this comic will definitely put you back on track!

– Curious about what the next big trend will be in YA? Well, looks like mermaids are going to be the next big trend to make a splash.

– The title pretty much says it all.

– Some pretty amusing comics! Definitely check them out.

– Boys, here are some reasons you should date a girl who reads. (Girls, this is bound to make you smile!)

– Howl’s Moving Castle = awesomeness. Howl’s Moving Castle PAPERCRAFT?! TOO awesome!


(Many thanks to Alex once again for this link as well! :D)





Wooo! It’s the weekend! Share with us any thoughts, links, or book recommendations! Happy Saturday!

Book Recommendation: A Mountain of Crumbs, by Elena Gorokhova

13 May

by Savannah J. Foley


A MOUNTAIN OF CRUMBS is everything a memoir should be… beautiful, insightful, and transportive. It tells the story of young Elena growing up in Soviet Russia, her fascination with the west, and her efforts to create opportunities for herself despite a culture irrevocably entangled in The Game, called vranyo:

“My parents play it at work, and my older sister Marina plays it at school. We all pretend to do something, and those who watch us pretend that they are seriously watching us and don’t know we are only pretending.”

AMOC takes the reader into the heart of Soviet Russia and plunks you down just before the author herself is born, so that we get a feel for her resilient, military doctor mother, and the struggles she endured to not only marry a husband who wouldn’t eventually die in the war, but care for her village which had no birthing center -until her mother wrote to Stalin himself for permission to set one up in her own apartment.

Like mother, like daughter. Elena was strong growing up, despite several mishaps that intimately portray what life was actual like in that place and time. That was what I loved best about this memoir; not only is it a story, but it’s an immersion and an explanation, a psychological peek into a culture far removed from my own.

Though Elena has lived in the United States for decades now, she still channels the perspective of her childhood and adolescence perfectly. She is the gateway, the translator, showing us something completely different while explaining it in ways we can relate to.

As an example of this different perspective, when Elena is a teenager she works for a tour agency that takes visiting foreigners on carefully structured and scripted tours of her city. The Russia the foreigners see is not the one that actually exists; with guards on street corners and lines for toilet paper beneath signs praising the Socialist Party.

One boy tries to give her a gift to thank her for her help during his visit, but from the gift shop he selects a beautiful silver bracelet. In the boy’s eyes he is giving her something pretty and special; a gift he would give a girl back home. A gift a girl back home would be delighted with.

But to Elena, the bracelet is a symbol of the freedoms he has that she does not. As a tour guide, she is allowed to enter the gift shop with her charges, but she may not purchase anything from it. No Russian can; the gift shop is part of the tour’s facade. It was created to show foreigners that Russians have nice things, but it’s all a sham, part of the vranyo. Besides, what good would a silver bracelet do Elena? She’d rather have a book, or a new pair of pantyhose. Those are the status symbols of her culture, not beautiful bracelets no one is even allowed to buy.

It’s not just the different perspective that I loved, however. Elena’s work is poetic, especially in the beginning as she describes the yellow waters on the shore of her family’s summer home, or the vivid imaginings her young mind produces as a result to every threat: Her father’s near-death on a fishing trip, monsters threatening from every dark corner, and the scents and textures of her grandmother’s garden. This was my favorite passage from the book:

“The o‘s in the Russian word for whirlpool, vodovorot, rolled down his tongue like a handful of peas.”

Billy Collins former U.S. Poet Laureate, of whom I’m a huge fan, even agreed to blurb this book, saying, it is “the Russian equivalent of Angela’s Ashes.”

The only thing I didn’t like about this book was that it ended! We follow Elena through to her marriage to an American in order to get a passport (a mutual decision), but shortly afterwards the book ends. I can’t wait for the sequel to be written so we can see how she reacts to America.

If you enjoy memoirs (like me!), or if you’re curious about Soviet Russia (especially if you like Russian fairy tales and want a bigger insight into the culture that produced them), I highly recommend picking up A MOUNTAIN OF CRUMBS, from Simon and Schuster.

Elena Gorokhova is represented by Molly Friedrich, of the Friedrich Agency.


Savannah J. Foley is the author of the Nameless (originally known as Woman’s World) series on Fictionpress and is signed with the Bradford Literary Agency. Her website is, but she updates more frequently on her livejournal. She is currently working on editing Nameless to go out on submissions. You can read an excerpt from Nameless here.

Revisions Live Chat!

12 May

Hey guys! Remember, the chat is at 9pm Eastern Time, today. Or well, “today” here anyway… It’ll last about 2 hours, if the past chats are anything to go by, so drop by if you’re late, but we’d love to have a good group at 9, too! 😀

Click Here to Enter Chat!

Narrative Tension and the Ticking Clock

12 May

by Julie Eshbaugh


“The ticking clock,” is a plot device that is used to constrain your story and put a time limit on your protagonist as he or she works to resolve a conflict. The concept is simple – a certain task must be completed by a certain deadline or the character will fail and suffer the consequences of that failure. An entire story can be a ticking clock (the film RUN LOLA RUN is a good example) or a ticking clock can be part of a single conflict within a larger story (such as the clock tower scene in BACK TO THE FUTURE.)

The addition of a ticking clock instantly creates increased tension. A challenge may feel relatively easy to overcome if time is not an issue. But take away the luxury of unlimited time and you immediately turn up the heat on your characters.

Let’s look at some real life examples. If you’re a student, consider the last paper you had to write. When did you feel the most tension – when you had two weeks to get it written, or 24 hours to hand it in? Writers under contract to a publisher know the reality of the ticking clock all too well when they are up against a deadline to turn in revisions. How about a football team, down by 10 points, at the two minute warning? We all run into ticking clocks in life, and we know the stress they can cause. Sometimes that kind of stress is just what your story needs to increase the pressure on your characters and make the action as compelling as it can be.

Although the ticking clock may feel like a device that is best suited to thrillers, it can be used in almost any kind of story. Below are a few examples taken from films. (I came up with a few from books I’ve read recently, but I was too concerned about spoilers to include them!)

RUN LOLA RUN – Lola (Franka Potente) has 20 minutes to deliver 100,000 German marks to save her boyfriend’s life.

TITANIC – In one scene, Rose (Kate Winslet) has to rescue Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) from a room below deck before it floods and he drowns.

SAY ANYTHING – Lloyd (John Cusack) has until the end of the summer to win the heart of Diane (Ione Skye) before she leaves for a new life in England.

ROMAN HOLIDAY – Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) has just one day to experience all the joys of life as an anonymous citizen, including falling in love with an American reporter (Gregory Peck.)

BACK TO THE FUTURE – Doc (Christopher Lloyd) has until the moment lightning is destined to strike the clock tower to get the DeLorean time machine in position to send Marty (Michael J. Fox) back to 1985.

(While avoiding spoilers is too important to me to mention specific examples, I can at least say that I can think of examples of ticking clocks in all three of Suzanne Collins’s HUNGER GAMES books, as well as INCARCERON by Catherine Fisher, which I just finished and highly recommend.)

Tips on getting the most out of the Ticking Clock:

• It’s important to maintain the tension all the way up to the deadline. The device alone will increase the pressure on your hero, but the conflict still needs to escalate. As your hero runs out of time, the stakes need to stay high. Your protagonist can not accept missing the deadline as a viable solution.

• As the deadline approaches, the obstacles to succeeding should increase. In the eleventh hour, the plan that has been working smoothly should completely crumble. Don’t let your protagonist off the hook by allowing her to solve the problem too early.

• Don’t let your hero know how it turns out. It’s easy to imagine that a ticking clock could come across as a gimmick. This is most likely to occur when your hero doesn’t feel threatened by the deadline. Your hero must respect the danger of the ticking clock. Don’t let your hero become too confident.

In closing, I want to share the clock tower scene from BACK TO THE FUTURE. I’m sure you’ve seen it before, but I’d like to ask you to watch it for the example it gives of a perfectly executed ticking clock within the plot. (Also, watch for the two actual “ticking clocks” in the scene.) ENJOY!

What do you think of the ticking clock device? Have you ever used it? Do you think it’s something that you would like to try in your own writing? Please share your thoughts in the comments!


Julie Eshbaugh is represented by Natalie Fischer of the Bradford Literary Agency. You can read her blog here and find her on Twitter here.

Tackling Revisions

11 May

by Susan Dennard



This post has been UPDATED

and re-posted on

Pub(lishing) Crawl!


Susan Dennard is a writer, reader, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. Her debut novel, SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY, is now available from HarperTeen. You can learn more about her on her blog or twitter.

Film and the Written Word

10 May

I love film.

Yeah, okay, that might seem like an odd thing to say on a blog pretty much dedicated to writing and novels and such, but it’s true. I adore film. I’m nuts about costuming and lighting and how they build sets. I could spend days analyzing the color schemes they use for the characters’ clothes and the meaning of every facial expression the actors portray.

I love the technical side of film-making, so it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that I’m really into watching commentaries, especially director commentaries. I like to hear what they’d meant for every scene. Why did they choose that particular angle? Why that kind of lighting?

If you know me at all, you probably know that I’m a bit of an enormous Firefly fan (TV show by Joss Whedon, for the uninitiated). I’m actually in the middle of watching his commentary with Nathan Fillion (actor who plays the hero of the show) about the show’s pilot. Yes, I paused the video to type this article up. What can I say? When I get the urge to write something, all else must stop.

There’s so much I’ve learned about writing from film. Some of it, yes, does come from reading film scripts. But a lot of it comes from commentaries like this. It’s a beautiful thing to hear someone break down their story for you, and I wish authors had the same opportunity. Am I the only one who would pay to read some kind of “author commentary”? Maybe a book that had the regular story text but had author’s notes stuck in in a different color or in footnotes or whatever? I think that would be amazing.

In the mean time, though, I guess I’ll stick with director commentaries.

One thing I’ve learned is the physicality of a character. I’m a great lover of dialogue. It’s something I put a lot of focus on—a book or TV show or movie with unrealistic dialogue will turn me off like nothing else.

I admit, though, that my focus on dialogue sometimes leaves me with characters who say too much but forget to express themselves through their actions. I’m not talking about big actions, like showing a guy is brave by having him lead the assault or whatever. I’m talking about little things, like a touch on the hand or a shifting of the weight or a hug between two characters when one simply goes limp.

But if TV shows and movies have taught me anything, it’s the art of saying as much as you can with as little as you can. Every look is loaded. Every movement counts. If it’s not important, it’s left on the cutting room floor.

In general, good books are the same way. In my revisions, I muddle around, moaning and groaning about the little details. But then I watch a well put together movie and all of a sudden, I remember the big picture. Wasteful dialogue? Gone. Cute but meaningless scene? Cut.

I think it was actually Joss Whedon who once mourned the cutting of some scenes from his movie, Serenity, but in the end said that they had to be sacrificed to that all-powerful god of story-telling: Momentum.

That really hit a cord with me. I’d been struggling with the pacing in HYBRID for a while, and this really helped me figure things out. It also helped me figure out what was “wrong” with many of the stories I’ve read but put down or not enjoyed.

A story needs momentum. Things must move ever forward. Yes, the reader/audience needs time to breathe and reflect, but things can never grow stagnant.

That is the most important thing. Of course, a story that’s all plot momentum and no character interaction or emotional attachment, etc, doesn’t tend to do well (though I’m sure we can all think of a story or two that is exactly that and still manages to do just fine in the eyes of some…)

As always, it’s a balance. Writing, I’m coming to learn, is an everlasting struggle between saying too much and saying too little. One is as bad as the other, but if you manage to hit that perfect spot…

Well, you get something rather magical.

I’m off to watch the rest of this commentary, then. Then maybe I’ll try to get in a little revising. Gotta keep searching for that sweet spot :]


Kat Zhang is a Spoken Word poet and a Creative Writing major. She is represented by Emmanuelle Morgen and her book HYBRID–about a girl with two souls–recently sold to Harper Children’s. You can read more about her writing process and books at her blog.

When Your S.O. Misinterprets Your Actions as a Writer

9 May

by Savannah J. Foley


The other day I was looking up character names in a baby names website (something we all do, I’m pretty sure), and I got to thinking about how what I was doing could be misinterpreted by my boyfriend. Afterwards, I came up with the following list of scenarios that a boyfriend unfamiliar with writers might encounter with his new writer girlfriend. It’s mostly silly, but maybe you’ll laugh at one or two. 🙂


1. You leave your computer up on a webpage of baby names.

Misinterpretation: OMG she’s pregnant! Or she wants to have my children and is already planning out their names. Is this a hint? Was I supposed to find this?!

What Really Happened: You were using the list of baby names to find the most awesome name ever for your new character.

2. You talk to yourself out loud, in different voices.

Misinterpretation: You just went into full-blown metal disorder mode, a la A Beautiful Mind.

What Really Happened: You were just plotting really hard and accidentally vocally acted out some of the characters you were working on. It’s normal, really.

3. He catches you mock-strangling, -stabbing, or -shooting an imaginary victim.

Misinterpretation: You’re homicidal and you’re practicing for killing him.

What Really Happened: You were -again- acting out a scene in your book to get a feel for the actions and emotions. Totally normal.

4. Your browser history shows searches for “the perfect murder” and “poisons without antidotes.”

Misinterpretation: Surely this time you’re out to get him.

What Really Happened: Nope. Still figuring out plot details for your murder mystery subplot.

5. You stock up on chocolate.

Misinterpretation: You’re PMSing.

What Really Happened: Not this time. You hit a tricky part in your manuscript, and need some chocolate to get through it. Or you submitted something and are anxiously awaiting a reply.

6. You stop showering and suddenly avoid spending time with your S.O.

Misinterpretation: You’re trying to convince him to break up with you because you’re too chicken to do it yourself.

What Really Happened: You’re working hard on a deadline and literally forgot to shower/spend every waking minute working on your project.

7. You suddenly start spending more time “at the library” or “at a coffee shop.”

Misinterpretation: You’re cheating on him!

What Really Happened: You were just trying to give him some space since apparently your every action means you’re insane and trying to cause harm. This was your way of getting out of the house and having the time/space to, once again, focus on your project.

8. You start visiting thrift stores and “alternate fashion” stores.

Misinterpretation: You’re becoming a dirty hippie. You’re an artsy person, it had to happen sometime, right? This would also explain the no-showering thing.

What Really Happened: You’re researching styles of a particular decade.

9. You ask his cop uncle a lot of complex and detailed questions about law enforcement.

Misinterpretation: You’re considering a career change into law enforcement.

What Really Happened: Absolutely not! It’s just research! It’s ALWAYS research!

10. You change your degree from English or Creative Writing to something more mainstream, like Business & Management, or Computer Sciences.

Misinterpretation: Surely this time it’s a sign of giving up the dream, right?

What Really Happened: No, you just realized you don’t have to have the degree to be able to write well, so what’s the point? Might as well have a backup.

11. He catches you practicing your smile and posing in the mirror.

Misinterpretation: You’re an imaginative person, and so therefore you were pretending to be a movie star, for research, right?

What Really Happened: Actually you were just practicing for your author shot.

12. You sneak into your room on tiptoe, not making a sound.

Misinterpretation: He’s with the program now. He concludes you’re pretending to be a cat. For research. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

What Really Happened: …Actually, you were trying to see if your leftover toys from childhood move and talk when you’re not in the room. What? Writers never truly lose their inner child! Plus you saw Toy Story 3 recently, and, well… it was worth a shot.


Savannah J. Foley is the author of the Nameless (originally known as Woman’s World) series on Fictionpress and is signed with the Bradford Literary Agency. Her website is, but she updates more frequently on her livejournal. She is currently working on editing Nameless to go out on submissions. You can read an excerpt from Nameless here.