Tough Questions

“How are you doing?”

That question never created such a vacuum of indecisiveness as it did just then. I’m fine, but I’m not fine.

I’m a wreck, but holding myself together pretty good. I’m teetering on an edge, so precariously balanced I feel the tension throughout my body. It’s tight. I can continue as I am holding everything together or at any given moment fall apart into uncontrolled weeping.

My grandmother is dead. Not two months ago, we discovered she had cancer. Over the weekend, she was admitted into the hospital with a severe infection the doctors couldn’t bring under control. All her organs began failing rapidly.

I understand sudden death. A crash, a gunshot, the ones that go quickly. It hits you – and hard. Then they’re gone. When you witness the decline, the symptoms, the steady steps of a body failing, it looks so different. It hits different. What do they feel in those final moments? Their body is fighting to survive, keeping everything strung on a frayed thread as they lie there in a comatose state.

She opened her eyes. I didn’t know if it was just the body losing control or if she was really there. She couldn’t speak. But something was wrong. I felt it and I felt I knew what it was too.

“Getting tired of sleeping on that side, Grams? Don’t worry. I’ll ask the nurse to shift you. You’re doing so well. Go back to sleep.”

It was time for her morphine. Pain brought her back to Earth, back to her useless body. The Hospice care aids said she would recognize our voices and touch, but only the family’s. So maybe Grandma was more connected to Earth than we realized. Maybe she was in a difference space – a sort of loading platform with her train peeling off a mournful sound in the distance. She was just waiting to say her last goodbyes.

And she was waiting for Mom – her daughter.

And waiting to get comfortable one last time.

I stood in the hallway with Mom while the nurses shifted Grandma and got her into a mostly upright position. We entered the room. Grandma’s eyes were wide open. I approached to see if she was alert, but these eyes were empty.

Then she looked at Mom. And died.

I never thought death bothered me too much. I have my faith and my God and all that. I guess I’m just angry because we thought we had more time with her. We made plans. She had her health and an active lifestyle. Then, in two months, she was gone.

The trouble with humans is we think we have time.

This has been,


Books and Affiliated, Raw

Be Your Own Hero

It’s pretty evident in my writing. The heroine always needs someone to help her defeat the villain. She builds a team throughout the story, so she’s not doing the journey alone.

Which is fine. Everyone needs a team backing them up. But the reality is, this was a direct correlation to my psyche at the time. I wasn’t strong enough to fight my battles. My heroines betrayed my own weaknesses.

It took challenging myself in my job and gaining confidence in my career to prove that my MC could do the same. I interviewed tough. I got my sh** together. I show cased my accomplishments without reservation. It’s true the old saying that a writer needs to become the person they need to be to write the book they need to write. I’m finally the person I need to be to write empowered female characters. I finally feel empowered in my own story.

And you should be empowered in your story. After all, you’re a hero, not a passing placeholder. Live like a hero.

This has been,



Book Review – Anonymous

I picked up a free Kindle read. It had a lovely cover. The picture intrigued me and reminded me of other books I had read with similar quality covers. Also, it was free.

So, a few things. The writing isn’t bad. Truly. But the beginning has some holes which completely lost my interest.

First: The Trope

The MC has fallen for the cutest, most unattainable princeling despite the fact that she’s “plain” (as expressed in the narrative.) I’m never a fan of the “I’m plain Jane” narrative even though I’ve been guilty of such myself. Let’s break the habit together. The MC’s delirious hope escalated during literally one incident where the princeling caught her from tripping.

Booooo. *YAWN*

Fix: Entertain us with a wildly outrageous series of interactions in which these inevitable love birds keep running into each other. THAT would be interesting.

Second: The Hook

The story starts during climax but keeps patching the reader back to this singular exchange so you’re trying to figure out what’s going on and what happened to make what’s currently happening relevant to what did happen.

Right? Confusing. The hook brought you in with a promise, but then goes through a poor job of bringing you up to speed.

Fix: Begin by setting up the readers with your cast. Plain Jane has a crush on the princeling and they keep bumping into each other, either romantically or awkwardly. I’ll take either. Or both. Definitely both. Then flash forward to present day so we can panic along with her.

Third: (And this is only the first three pages, mind you.) The Investment

The MC is unduly concerned over [incident] which she suspects involves her princeling (who probably doesn’t even know she exists, yada yada) and she abandons her post to find out. Dilemma:

  • A) we don’t know WHO she is.
  • B) we don’t know WHAT is going on.
  • C) we don’t know WHEN this story transpires.
  • D) we don’t even know WHERE she is or WHY her post is important or TO WHAT DEGREE (sorry, just had to had that last one.)

Why should we be concerned or feel for this MC’s situation? We know nothing about her, except for the “desktop patching” we keep getting which is pulling us from the action.

Fix: This story can still be viewed from present day moments before the action. The MC could be seen daydreaming over said encounters with her princeling. We could learn her status, her job, her plainness, all at once, then cue the action. Now we’re invested. We know the stakes and we know the reward. We have a firm grasp of the world and our heroine, and we’re ready to follow her.

Readers genuinely want to care about the main characters. We do. We are looking for escape, adventure, or relatability. Hopefully all three at once.

I know some famous writers get away with this all the time, but there are reasons it works and reasons it doesn’t. Here’s a few reasons it didn’t.

This has been,

A FanTC Reader

PS the book title and author has been intentionally left out because I do not trash books publicly, and I do not wish emotional harm on the writer. Their writing was good. They have a few tropes (so do we all.) Maybe with a stronger editor, they could have created an edge-of-your-seat beginning experience.