Not knowing what to do, he went downstairs to ask and was met by the little girl he met outside in the chicken coop. “Hi Oscar! Why ain’t you in school with the other boys?” Lilly asked. Shrugging his shoulders, he answered, “I’m going tomorrow.”
“Good,” she said, “We don’t need anymore stupid boys in this place.”
“What about you? Why aren’t you in school?” Oscar asked curiously.
“I don’t need it, I’m already smart.” She declared.
Not believing her, he said, “Nuh uh, everybody has to go to school, Miss Mary said so.”
“She’s not the boss of me!”
“Oooh,” Oscar exclaimed, “You a devil child!”
“A what?” Lilly asked, rather dismayed.
“My momma used to say when a girl wasn’t right, she was a devil child.”
“That’s silly! If I’m a devil, then you’re a devil too!”
Resisting the label, Oscar declared, “Nope! I’m saved by the Lord, and am one of his sheep.”
“You look more like a goat to me!”
“Baaah!” Oscar bleeted, having finished his closing argument.
Not quite sure what to make of him, Lilly began walking away and said, “Just another stupid boy.”
I was asked by Dellani Oakes and Karen Vaughan to participate in a blog series about sarcasm and humor so I decided to find out what was considered funny in literature. This quest took me way back in time before Terry Pratchett and Mark Twain even before Shakespeare. I actually found one-liners from ancient Rome, and even further back to the Eyptians. Below I listed some of what you could call an evolution of humor throughout the ages. Most of these come from literature, while others are of unknown origins. One thing to keep in mind is that what people may have found funny in ancient times may have us scratching our heads today. Nonetheless one thing unites all cultures, people loved to laugh no matter the time or place. I really enjoyed researching this subject and hope you enjoy it as well. So without further ado..
“I do not see a stoneworker on an important errand or a goldsmith in a place to which he has been sent, but I have seen a coppersmith at his work at the door of his furnace. His fingers were like the claws of the crocodile, and he stank more than fish excrement.” –Satire of the Trades
Ancient Greece: Aristophanes’ Rant About Modern Poets:
“A disgrace to their art. If ever they are granted a chorus, what does their offering at the shrine of Tragedy amount to? One cock of the hind leg and they’ve pissed themselves dry. You never hear of them again.” –The Frogs
A man is taking care of his departed wife’s burial. Someone asks him: “Who is it that rests in peace here?” The man answers: “Me, now that I’m rid of her!” –Source Unknown
After his wife had beaten him badly, a man crawled under his family bed. “Come out this instant!” his wife screamed.
“I am man enough to do as I please!” he said. “And I’ll come out when I’m good and ready.” –Ming Dynasty Tales
CHIRON: Thou hast undone our mother. AARON: Villain, I have done thy mother.
–Titus Andronicus: Act 4, Scene 2
In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria. –There is debate if Ben actually said this but it’s funny, so I included it.
To create man was a fine and original idea; but to add the sheep was a tautology (redundant). –St. Louis Post-Dispatch (30 May 1902); also in Mark Twain : A Life
You can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think. –You Might As Well Live: The Life & Times Of Dorothy Parker
“In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.” –The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe
“I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.” –The Lost Continent
“Just erotic. Nothing kinky. It’s the difference between using a feather and using a chicken.” —Eric
So what are your favorite one-liners from history, tell us in the comments section.
Bio: Rachel Rueben is author of YA, supernatural as well as romance books. Her work can be found her on the Cereal Authors blog as well as Wattpad. She is also a blogger at Writing By The Seat Of My Pants where she discusses self-publishing and rarely refers to herself in the third person. 😉
At the beginning of most writing projects there is a bit of excitement as well as fear when it comes to approaching certain topics. Many authors love stirring the pot but at the same time we need to be sure that we’re making sense. No matter how desperately we want to be articulate or intellectual, if we’re not making sense we’ve failed as artists. For example, in one of my scenes in Miss Mary Mack, I had several scenes where the children were in school and back in the 1930’s, school was a much different place than it is today.
I wanted to begin the chapter with the children saying the Pledge of Allegiance however, there was problem with that, the Pledge of Allegiance wasn’t officially accepted by the U.S. Congress until 1942 and even then it was revised in 1959. So I had to find the right version for my book to recite. That was my first hurdle, the next would be another scene where several kids were chosen to raise the flag but as you guessed there was a problem. You see the flag we know today was different back then because there were only 48 states. Alaska and Hawaii were still only territories. So my scenes had to be rewritten to reflect that.
Regrouping & Redeploying
To say I was annoyed by all this would be an understatement but I was determined to learn how schools functioned back then. I found interviews and historical sites that filled in the gaps and learned everything you possibly could about school. I learned about burn barrels which were used for waste disposal in country schools and even what types of lunch children brought to school (mainly leftovers from dinner or breakfast). This type of information enabled me to make this world more tangible and relatable.
Including Myths & Folklore
As I mentioned last month, Miss Mary was a compilation of people but she was mainly inspired by the character Rosa Carmichael, a matron of a Civil War orphanage. Rosa was an infamous character who was accused of abusing children in her care however, there is no proof that she ever existed. The story goes that she was tried and acquitted of abuse only to be ran out of town after being accused a second time. There are no court documents mentioning such an event and no grave was ever found belonging to Rosa. Yet this doesn’t stop the tale from being told by locals as well as tour guides. I took pieces of the story and wove them into my own, for example, folklore says, that in the cellar of the orphanage, there were chains where children were beaten and tortured. However, the folklore forgets to mention that the orphanage was commandeered during the Civil War and it was most likely POWs that were shackled in that cellar. So in my story, I make the cellar a place where unruly children are disciplined.
Why Fuss Over Minor Details?
It’s true that most people won’t notice the finer points if you don’t tell them so would it have mattered if I had the children in my story saying the Pledge of Allegiance in 1930? Probably not, but it would’ve been embarrassing if someone did notice. Yes all books have mistakes or inaccuracies but that doesn’t let us off the hook. It’s our responsibility as authors to make sure our work is as great as it can possibly be. Things don’t have to be perfect, but they do have to be professional. If you can go the extra mile, why not? Who knows, maybe your readers will go the extra mile for you and tell everyone about your book. 🙂
Bio:Rachel Rueben is author of YA, supernatural as well as romance books. Her work can be found her on the Cereal Authors blog as well as Wattpad. She is also a blogger at Writing By The Seat Of My Pants where she discusses self-publishing and rarely refers to herself in the third person.
I can’t believe it’s been five years! You know they say for a 5th anniversary you’re supposed to buy wood but the only thing I can think of that a writer would want that’s wooden is maybe a pencil? Okay, how about a paperweight? Hey, you know paper is technically made from trees, imagine it, I can be the Oprah of loose leaf paper…
Call me crazy but I don’t see anyone getting excited over paper products. As you see, tradition isn’t very helpful when it comes to a fifth anniversary. However instead of going on about how lame these gift traditions are, I’d rather explain why we decided to do this blog in the first place…
Once upon a time, a group of authors got together and decided form a collective blog where we shared book excerpts, writing tips, or just plain ranted. Today, with over 1,100 posts, we’ve surprised even ourselves by the amount of work we’ve done and I can only speak for myself but I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished here. If it weren’t for this blog, I wouldn’t have started, let alone finished my romance novel, Fedelta.
This blog keeps me accountable, it forced me to take my career seriously. It also keeps me surrounded by other authors who are also pursuing their dream and that’s infectious.
As I look back on the last five years, I noticed that many of the authors that started out with us are no longer around. Some had health problems or money issues, while one of us actually died! It’s been quite the journey nonetheless and the fact that we’re still here, and still writing, tells you about our determination. This isn’t our hobby, we’re serious!
Anyway, enough of my babbling, I wanted to showcase the works of our authors here and hope you take the time to pick up one of our books. Just click on the graphics, and it will take you to that author’s Amazon page.
Dellani Oakes Author of Sci-Fi & Romance:
J.D. Holiday: Author of Children’s Books & Short Stories:
Karen Vaughan: Author of Cozy Mysteries:
Amanda M. Thrasher: Author of YA & Children’s Books:
Ruth Davis Hays Author of Fantasy Novels:
Rachel Rueben: Author of Romance & YA
Stephanie Osborn: Author of Sci-Fi & Mystery Novels:
I guess the moral to this story is, to always surround yourself with people who are doing the thing you want to do. Despite what the naysayers tell you, you can succeed at a career in publishing. It just takes time and dedication. A few years ago, there was a TED Talk concerning the subject of grit and how success is usually determined not by intelligence or talent, but by grit. Grit is often defined as determination and/or resolve. After seeing that video, this blog immediately came to mind, because I can say without a doubt, that the Cereal Authors are some of the grittiest authors you will ever meet and I mean that with all the love in the world. ❤
Anyways, happy anniversary guys, it’s been a privilege to know you all and to be part of this blog. And here’s to the next chapter of our journey…
Most of the images in this post are courtesy of Pixabay
Rachel Rueben is a moving force behind Cereal Authors. She’s also instrumental in the success of our radio broadcasts each month. She’s the level head and calm voice who answers the phone, deals with glitches and keeps me from freaking out. She’s an invaluable member of the Cereal Authors and Red River Radio teams.
Rachel Rueben is a romance and YA author as well as a blogger. Her books include: Fedelta, Eternal Bond and Hag all available on Wattpad. Her self-publishing blog: Writing By The Seat Of My Pants focuses on things like marketing, social media and the publishing industry at large. She also assists several podcasts on the Red River Radio Network, where books, authors and writing are always the topic of interest.
How long does it take you to write a book?
The quickest I ever wrote a book was around 6 months, while the longest, was 7 years.
What makes you laugh or cry?
What does your favorite book say to you? What do you feel it might say to someone else? (could be either your own work or that of someone else)
My favorite book of all time is Women Pray: Voices Through The Ages, From Many Faiths, Cultures and Traditions by Monica Furlong. It was a book of quotes about life, love and loss from women throughout the centuries and I adore it. I’ve always loved studying history and religion so this book brought both worlds together.
I hope to others the book might convey that women’s history didn’t start with Susan B. Anthony and the Suffrage Movement.
Have you ever, over the years, lost yourself in a certain piece (novel) to such a degree your family, friends, and even YOU, didn’t recognize yourself, and if so was it worth it?
Yes, just recently I was discussing a controversial event and found myself actually starting to talk like one of my characters from Fedelta. Meaning, I was using language that was rather “strong” for someone like me. I swear it was almost like a possession, where my characters were manifesting themselves through me. Honestly, as strange as it is, I believe it’s worth it, always.
What are your publishing goals? Meaning: Would you like to become a bestseller or just make a comfortable living at it?
I would personally just like to make a living at this, in essence, I want a career, not just a one hit wonder. It’s not that I haven’t been open to the possibility of being a bestseller, it’s just not my goal.
Describe your Muse and the working relationship you share.
Well my relationship with the Muse is a complicated one, for one, I don’t believe inspiration just falls out of the sky. However with Miss Mary, things are different, it’s one of those cases where things are falling into place and I really believe something weird is going on with this creative project. I feel like this book will be written when it wants to be written which is terribly frustrating, so much so, that I started another novel.
How has the digital age affected your craft?
The digital age has made things like education and networking effortless, this is both a gift and a curse. You have gurus now who now give contradictory advice which confuses a lot of people. For example, just a few years ago, it was advised that authors not write in the first person but many of the bestsellers of that time where written in first. These types of things can often cripple an author or mislead them to believe there is a right or a wrong way to write their book.
If you had to start your writing career over would you do anything differently?
Heck yeah, I would’ve went indie sooner rather than just scoffing at the idea of self-publishing. Years ago, was a publishing snob because I was taught that if you wanted to be considered a legitimate author, you had to follow the rules. That meant getting an agent and going through the system. Agents and editors were all preaching this stuff well up until they started buying up the rights to bestselling indie books.
Do you believe the cliché that artists need to starve for their art?
Absolutely not, I don’t believe in starvation but I do believe in paying your dues. But not getting paid or getting your share of respect, is just wrong and backwards.
Do you feel any of your works convey the message of the legacy you want to leave behind, if so, which one(s)?
I think Hag and Miss Mary are the two books that convey a message of courage and independence. I hope my books speak of strength in regards to the human spirit.
We’re doing something a bit different today. Instead of just one author, you’ve got FOUR! There’s a reason for this, so please bear with us but a moment and read on.
Sarcasmˈ/särˌkazəm/ Noun: The use of irony to mock or convey contempt. Synonyms: derision, mockery, ridicule, scorn, sneering, scoffing….
And the list goes on. It’s important to define this word, because not everyone knows what sarcasm is, but we all use it to one degree or another. I’m convinced my family would be unable to communicate without it. In fact, my youngest son was, without doubt, the most sarcastic five year old in his kindergarten class.
Sarcasm is a tool that, when used properly, can add interesting dimension to an author’s dialogue. Imagine your favorite characters on a TV show or in a movie, chances are, they’ve got a snarky side. These characters, and their lines, are memorable because they really spice up the chitchat. This witty repartee is fun to listen to, read and to write. I’ll be honest, I don’t think my characters could communicate without sarcasm, either.
I’ve been told I’m sarcastic. I shall neither confirm nor deny this allegation. Instead, I’d love to share some of my work with you and you can judge for yourself. Over the next few weeks, a few of my (supposedly) sarcastic friends are going to talk about using sarcasm in our work and in life. Rather than giving them a big introduction, I’ll let their work speak for them. If you’d like to find out more about these ladies, click the Guilty Parties link above.
Sit back, sip your favorite beverage, (I find that sarcasm is best with lemonade, but you be the judge) and be prepared for some dry humor, wise cracks and a tad bit of sarcasm. Just a little…not too much….
Someone wants movie producer Kent Griswald dead. Unfortunately, the first attempt is foiled by the fact that it’s not Kent on the beach, but his younger brother. In broad daylight, in front of dozens of witnesses, someone takes a pot shot at Connor. Detectives Weinstein and Scott are dispatched to investigate.
Detective Vanessa Weinstein came on the scene ten minutes after the shooting. Aggressive and competitive, she was an up and comer. She knew how to play the game and used her femininity to her advantage. Dressed in a black power suit and a very white shirt, she stood out clearly on the beach. Somehow, in some mysterious way that Walter Scott couldn’t explain, the woman didn’t sweat. Her black hair was sleek, unmoving in the wind off the ocean. Her skin was perfectly dry, not even a bead of sweat on her full lips.
“The rest of Daytona’s in hell in this late season heat wave and you stand there looking like the Sugar Plum Fairy,” Scott complained, wiping his face with a handkerchief.
“Don’t sweat in my crime scene,” she said in a bored tone. “What’s going on upstairs?”
“Got two perps, one actual shooter, one decoy. Second guy left his weapon. Your guy left a shell casing. Looks like both had the same kind of gun. No serial numbers on mine.”
“Why would they make it easy? You didn’t find my gun, huh?”
“Nope. But the shell’s a 5.56mm, so we’re figuring they both had identical weapons. MSSR.”
She nodded, taking a sip of hot coffee from an insulated mug. Scott slurped water from a rapidly warming bottle and wiped his brow on his fist.
“Jeez, can we at least get outta the sun? I’m gonna fry.”
“You should try getting a tan, Walt.”
“I’m Scottish and Scandinavian, Ness, I don’t tan. You could put me out here all day, I’d burn red as a beet.”
“They’re purple.” She moved into the shade of a cabana bar where they’d set up their command center.
My characters wield sarcasm like well-sharpened sword. Laura Hamilton Fitz uses sarcasm to deal with sticky situations when faced with bad-asses trying to kill her and annoying people she has no patience for. Many people will tell you she has an attitude but as a busy mom, CSI and corpse magnet extraordinaire. (see I used sarcasm there) Laura doesn’t have time for BS.
Stella is Laura’s nemesis (next to her mother of course) and knows how to push the girl’s buttons. I am surprised that Stella herself hasn’t made it to Laura’s hit list…. Anyway, in one scene from Dead Men Don’t Swing Laura puts Stella in her place after the pest gives her a hard time about doing a eulogy for a dead, and might I add, not well liked tenant.
I went down the hall to the laundry room. I couldn’t even fathom doing a load before checking the traps and washing out all the machines before using one. I was just putting my loads in when Stella flounced in. I gave her a look that said, “Don’t start lady.” She’s either dense or doesn’t care and got on my case about the eulogy.
“Ya know Stella, you’re usually an astute woman but right now you are down to two brain cells and they are limping. I am only going to say this once, so listen closely! You can shove your eulogy! I don’t know the guy. The other tenants aren’t being forthcoming with details except for stuff I refuse to put in a tribute to the dead man. I also don’t have the time for this crap and it’s not my job.”
Ruth Davis Hays – Translations from Jorthus Series
Tools of the trade Sarcasm can be a fun and useful tool. It can be brought up in different ways. It can be presented in the narrative to express a character’s particular view of the world:
High school locker rooms. Every kid’s favorite place. The arena to expose our physical flaws to our worst critics like exposing our jugular to a vampire. (Watchdogs, a young adult novella in progress)
Or it can be a personality trait displayed in speech:
“A snow storm in the desert? Nothing out of the ordinary here!” Keinigan tried to pry a laugh from his dour companions.
Yet, his question was taken in earnest by the good dravan scholar, who proceeded to educate him on climate aberrations and how a reoccurring anomaly marked over a span of documented time can be construed as an ordinary pattern.
Keinigan groaned and pulled his cloak down over his head to block the freezing winter winds. The amount of snowfall was indeed strange for this area, but he made a mental note not to attempt humor around Master Calbraum anymore. (The Illusion, a Jorthus novel in progress)
My favorite, from time to time, is to use it to quickly convey a relationship between characters:
Before Dharromar could open his mouth, Keinigan’s fist smashed into his jaw. When the stars cleared from his brain, he was blinking up at his attacker. “I get the feeling you’re not happy to see me,” the changeling groaned from the dirt.
“Actually, I’ve been waiting to do that for a long time.”
“Little bit. You?”
“Wonderful. Your concern for me is truly touching. Now if you really want to be a help, you could come down here and suck my bolls.”
“Maybe later. I’m too busy celebrating.” Keinigan shuffled around the tent randomly as he listened to the voices of Lylith and the magda councilors filtering through the fabric. “Didn’t you hear? The changeling has returned to save us! Hoorah! The darquone are already retreating just hearing you’re back. I feel folching fantastic!” (The Illusion)
When the bite of sarcasm is set in contrast to more sincere narrative or dialogue, it stands out to the reader and punctuates either the writer’s opinion of the character or the situation. I find it incredibly irresistible at times, but must remind myself to read it not as intended but as written, in order to find out if the words are successful. If the sarcasm does not come across, either I am not doing my job or I need to rethink my use of the tool.
Disheartened, Cassie began to make a quiet retreat when she turned around and saw a homeless man who put his hand over her mouth and dragged her towards an abandoned building behind the brownstones. Biting his hand, and elbowing him in the face, she managed to free herself from his grasp. Turning around, she kicked him right in the yam bag when the homeless guy yelled in agony, “Damn’ it Cass!”
Doing a double take, she looked closer at him only to realize it was Amato. “Jesus, John, what the hell you doing walkin’ up on me like that?”
“Tryin’ to get you out of trouble!” he said through gritted teeth. Doubled over, Amato took deep breaths trying not to vomit in the alley.
Blushing, Cassie tried not to laugh. She was tempted to apologize but that wasn’t happening. Besides, it was nice to know she could still handle herself even in her messed up condition. A few minutes passed before she asked, “Ya gonna be alright?”
He looked up at her bewildered, “No wonder we broke up.”
Shrugging her shoulders, she answered right back, “Not every man can handle a strong woman.”
“Not every man wants a ball buster.”
Straightening up, Amato signaled for her to follow him as he limped away. Not feeling all that great herself, was starting to feel a sharp pain in her head. She had forgotten to take her meds and was now paying the price for it. As the two of them hobbled away from danger, the sounds of the city permeated the air playing a soundtrack to this ridiculous love story. Sirens, barking dogs and Amato’s bitching rang loudly in Cassie ears as she wondered how the hell they were ever gonna make it through this?
Join us the 15th of every month when one (or more) of us will share snippets of our stories — focusing on sarcasm, of course! We will comb through our work and find the best bits for you. You have our promise on that! Would we lie to you? ~Dellani
Last week, I discussed the closing of Predators & Editors and the possible alternatives authors can use when investigating a potential publisher or service provider. Today, I’m going to list sources that can help indie authors educate themselves on the publishing business. After all it’s much harder to take advantage of an educated author and that’s what most scammers fear.
Authors are notorious for drawing back the curtain on the publishing industry by talking about their experiences with editors, posting their contracts, and even revealing their monthly income. This rips the veil of secrecy that kept the publishing industry mysterious while keeping authors broke. Oh sorry, I meant starving for their art.
Anyway, let’s get started…
News About The Industry
Did you know that All Romance Books and Ellora’s Cave went under in 2016? You would’ve if you had been keeping tabs on the industry. Listed below are just some of the blogs/newsletters dedicated to the publishing industry.
Book Life (Focuses on self-publishing and owned by Publisher’s Weekly.)
BookBub PartnersMainly they discuss their platform but they also share tips on book launches, marketing and self-publishing hacks.
This is just a small list of all the wonderful blogs and podcasts that indie authors can glean from. As self-publishing becomes more and more the norm, authors are going to have to make decisions about the direction of their careers. Some of these blogs and podcasts can help at least point you in the right direction. The author community is a very supportive place as you can see, we do watch each other’s back. Though losing Predators & Editors was a big blow to indie authors, it didn’t break anyone’s determination to keep on keeping on. This is the greatest thing about the author community, and I’m proud to be part of it and you should too.
If you have any suggestions for newbie authors whether it be a podcast, blog or book, let us know in the comment section.
Not long ago, the author community lost a precious resource when the Preditors & Editors website went dormant last year. For those of you not familiar with P&E, it was a site that listed and graded publishers as well as publishing services. They helped countless authors such as myself make important decisions and avoid scams.
They are currently looking for a new caretaker who will have the monumental responsibility of updating the website as well as all the information on it. For those of you actually thinking about taking on the challenge, be warned P&E comes with the burden of constant threat of lawsuits as well as harassment from the mentally disturbed. It’s no surprise that no one is rushing to pick up the torch but I know eventually someone will because it’s too important to let die.
Instead of going on about how lousey this is, I’m going to give you alternative resources that will help you avoid scammers as well as help educate you about this business.
Finding Out About Scams & Unethical Practices
Predators & Editors did not exist in a vacuum, there are two sites that I am aware of that are dedicate solely to educating authors about the sharks in the publishing waters.
However don’t stop here, there are several other ways to discover if your publisher is on the up and up.
Investigating The Quality Of Your Publisher
The golden rule for any author looking to secure the services of a publisher is to go to Google and type in the company name with the words; “scam”, “complaints”, or “reviews” and if nothing pops up, that’s a good sign however, you still have more investigating to do.
You would think the one place to look is the Better Business Bureau because it’s considered a trustworthy organization that rates businesses. However, the vanity publisher Author Solutions, has an A+ rating even though there have been numerous complaints over the years as well as a class action lawsuit in 2013. So a good rating with the BBB doesn’t carry much weight these days especially, after various media outletsreported that businesses were paying for good ratings. Just a warning, if you’re going to use the BBB as a source of information, make sure it’s not your only source.
Other Sites That Grade Businesses:
As with most review sites things can be manipulated but if you’re seeing the same complaints over and over again by different people then you may want to take heed.
Google Reviews(First make sure that you’re logged into your Google+ account and just go to Google Maps and enter the name of the company you’re investigating. You should see an address as well as a rating.
Find The Office Water Cooler
You shouldn’t just stop at what customers are saying, if things are really bad at a company like they were at Tate Publishing and Author Solutions, then their employees are talking. Fortunately for us, there are sites that allow employees to rate the companies they work at. This can be a Godsend for those who are on the lookout for things like upselling, shoddy production or terrible customer service.
CareerBliss (Be sure to use the drop down and choose “reviews” before searching the company’s name.)
If you’re not into doing all the leg work then you might want to join a professional organization that will do it for you. Many places like ALLi (The Alliance for Independent Authors) and IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association) offer recommendations for services such as editors, formatters, as well as designers.
These are just some of the places that indie authors should check out if they want to investigate a publisher or service. Next time, I’ll be discussing resources for authors who want to educate themselves about indie publishing as well as publishing matters in general so stay tuned.
In the last year I’ve been suffering from writers block and I couldn’t understand why? I mean I could see the story clearly but I had trouble coming up with the right words. Every scene was a struggle, which led to me abandoning the story (Miss Mary Mack) several times. Then one day I was having a discussion with a friend who was having trouble dealing with her teenage daughter when she came to the realization that their problems were rooted in the fact that they were both so similar. Now if that isn’t the ultimate form of irony then I don’t know what is? However as my writer’s block continued, I read several articles on why authors write themselves into their work and reached a shocking conclusion: I was Miss Mary!!!
No, I don’t go around murdering people, (although those thoughts do pop up in my head from time to time) I took pieces of my life and sprinkled them throughout the story. Miss Mary was in fact physically modeled after my first grade principal Miss Murray, who wore dark clothing that covered her body from head to toe. She also was a disciplinarian which made her a terrifying figure in the first grade. However she wasn’t evil, just tough.
I also had a fourth grade bus driver by the name of Miss Johnson who was sometimes called, Miss Mary. She didn’t really like driving a bus and insisted we all ride in silence. Weird, huh?
Then there’s me, I’m not too fond of children, I mean don’t hate them, I just prefer not to be around them. P.S. I come from a long line of women who were reluctant mothers. So I was able to draw on that when it came time to summon the callousness required for a villain. It was also then I realized that I was trying to make sense of my past. And guess what? Miss Mary is the perfect vehicle for that, I can run loose and do as much damage without really affecting anyone in the real world. The big plus is that I can kill and not wind up in prison. I guess this is what George R.R. Martin feels like every time he sits down at his computer. LOL!
Okay, I’m Getting To The Point!
When your work hits too close to home, it can be difficult to navigate through the story. If you have a real unresolved conflict in your own life, it may be near impossible to resolve the one in your story because you can’t imagine your characters finding peace. You know, the apology that never came, the relationship that failed, or the never ending dysfunction of a family, can really damage your perception and almost make you blind to the obvious. I know, I had this problem and the only way to get through it was to think my way logically through it. I had to know what readers or in this case society expected from this book. I had to dole out punishment and correct injustices. That doesn’t always happen in real life. I also had to step back and let my characters go their own way. Once I did that, their world unfolded and things began making sense again.
A Final Thought
As with most things in life, writing isn’t about you. Sure you can create worlds and characters but once you do so, they start to develop their own reality. Try as you may, you are not of their world and vice versa. Only a piece of you will live on in your work, but the rest of you gets to move on and make peace with the reality that is meant to be.
Bio: Rachel Rueben is author of YA, supernatural as well as romance books. Her work can be found her on the Cereal Authors blog as well as Wattpad. She is also a blogger at Writing By The Seat Of My Pants where she discusses self-publishing and rarely refers to herself in the third person.
Last month I shared an excerpt of my recent novel Miss Mary Mack and I’m sure some of you are really confused. I understand after Fedelta, Miss Mary seems very different and maybe even strange but I followed the muse and she took me in a different direction. A very different direction.
Miss Mary was based on an experience I had one hot, summer’s night. In fact it was so hot that I decided to sleep with the window open and as I was falling asleep, I heard giggling and a little girl singing, “Miss Mary Mac, Mac, Mac all dressed in black…” At first I thought I was dreaming but it was just some silly neighborhood kids who had snuck out and were playing around at 1 a.m. Yeah, I live in that kind of neighborhood. When I realized what was going on, I was angry but also, inspired. I wondered, how would these kids have survived back in the days before child abuse was considered a bad thing? What can I say, I was having a Stephen King moment! As my mind swirled, it was then that I saw her. A woman, standing at the end of my bed and she was dressed in a matronly 1930’s style dress with granny boots. As she looked down on me, I could see the scowl on her face and I knew immediately what was going on. The muse was speaking. So I got up and scribbled on a piece of paper the words: Miss Mary Mack and went to bed.
The next day, I did write a brief paragraph outlining the idea but did nothing with it. At that time, I just started writing for this blog and Fedelta was born, I was also finishing up Eternal Bond, so I didn’t have the time to start yet another project. But fate has a funny way of making you do things because over the next few months, I started hearing stories about Orphan Trains on Youtube as well as ghost stories from the Civil War. The spark that lit the flame was a story I read about a woman by the name of Rosa Carmichael who ran an orphanage and was alleged to have abused the children in her care. So I sat down and grudgingly wrote a few paragraphs which I finally shared last month.
I don’t have any idea as to where this story is going, but I know it’s going to lead me down paths I’ve never explored before. Most books do. What a lot of readers don’t know is that sometimes our stories surprise us (the writers) as much as it does them. Actually this is the fun part of writing where characters become real, and situations uncertain. In any case, I hope you stay tuned for the next couple of excerpts from the book because something tells me that Miss Mary is going to be one of my most challenging characters yet.
Bio: Rachel Rueben is author of YA, supernatural as well as romance books. Her work can be found her on the Cereal Authors blog as well as Wattpad. She is also a blogger at Writing By The Seat Of My Pants where she discusses self-publishing and rarely refers to herself in the third person.