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How I Use Pinterest To Help Me Write My Novels

My debut novel isn’t 100% ready to be published yet, but I have already started working on my 2nd novel.  Right now I’m still in the very beginning – or outline mode – but before I blink, I will quickly be descending into research, drafting, and revision modes so I already started a Pinterest board to help me.   

The working title of my second novel is Leo’s Decision which is set in my hometown of St. Louis, it has ties to Cardinals Baseball as my lead’s father was a pro baseball player, and I want to feature some of my favorite things about St. Louis including the food on The Hill, an old Italian neighborhood I grew up near.  Now, I haven’t lived in MO since 2001, and although I have visited and did live there for 25 years, I don’t remember everything – especially street names or where certain counties are located within the city limit – so I use Pinterest to help me find maps, restaurant menus (so I can spell food correctly!), and other goodies.

Also, I’m not a huge baseball fan.  Okay, full disclosure – I understand baseball, even played one summer as a kid, but I’m not a sports fan – so I have also pinned a few things about baseball including lingo, the uniforms from the 1990s, and other research links to help me when I need to write about the sport.

My other favorite thing to do when starting a mood board for a new novel is cast my characters.  If you head over to Leo’s Decision on Pinterest you will see I’ve picked a few people to play the characters in my head….and yes, I choose Steve Carrell for my lead’s step-father and John Stamos as my lead’s father – they have the right looks and I can imagine those actors walking around playing out the scenes as I write them.

During the outlining phase, I like to use Pinterest for inspiration as I work out scenes, come up with my complex characters, and help me finalize a research plan.  Once I start writing, I use the images to help me with descriptions, help give my scenes a sense of place, and can sometimes help me with tricky dialogue.  And after the book is all edited and ready to go to a book cover designer, I can look through other YA book covers and add to my mood board so all of my vision is in one place to send on to the artist to create my cover.  Exciting!   If you’d like to see an example of that, check out The Art of Lying’s Pinterest mood board as I added a bunch of covers so I’ll be ready for that part with my debut novel.

Do you use Pinterest to help you with writing or your artistic endeavor?  I’d love to connect with you over there, send me a friend request, show me your favorite board, or share an image you think might help me with my novels!


What I’m Currently Reading

Starting a writing career involves a lot of sitting down and well…writing, but one must also keep the well fully stocked with new images and new ideas.  I do this in a few ways – movies and TV shows (because I’m visual like that), listening to music (because music feeds my soul in a way that other things do not), and reading books.  Here are a few of the books I’ve either just finished or are currently reading in both the Fiction and Non-Fiction categories.  Note about the non-fiction though, these are writing related or personal development type books, not the non-fiction books my husband likes to read, which are usually about a founding father or a war of some sort.  


I just finished two amazing books recently.  Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy and The Order of Omega by Kirsten Martin. Both are YA books but one is a coming of age story and the other is sci-fi/fantasy.  Julie Murphy’s book is becoming a movie soon (with NEW Dolly Parton music!!!) and Kirsten Martin’s book is the 2nd in a Trilogy called The Alpha Drive.  I actually just started the 3rd book (Restitution) the other night.  Dumplin’ was traditionally published, while The Alpha Drive trilogy is being self-published.  I follow both authors on various social media channels and, actually, Kristen’s YouTube channel has been an amazing help to me during my own writing and publishing journey over the last few months.  

Lately, I’ve been trying to read more indie published books, especially other YA (Young Adult) books but Dumplin’ caught my eye (and I believe was in a BookBub special) because of the mostly black cover. The only thing in the very middle is a plus-sized girl in a red dress and big blonde hair (this is small and in cartoon form) and I was like – who is this character?  Since the next step after finalizing revisions of my own novel is choosing and working with a cover designer, I’ve been paying more attention to covers.

I recommend both of these books – and I would highly recommend reading Dumplin’ before seeing the movie.  If you like sci-fi/fantasy books then The Alpha Drive is a fast-paced trilogy with a complex protagonist who is trying her hardest to save her friends and family from an evil organization.   I have quite the long list of To Be Read under this section – most are already on my Kindle, but if something pops up in my inbox (I get a lot of author’s newsletters) or in a BookBub special I’ll most likely add it to the pile.  


I just finished Prosperity for Writers (along with the workbook) by Honoree Corder and I’m currently knee deep in Write. Publish. Repeat by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant.  Prosperity for Writers was very eye-opening in terms of mindset, which I talked about a few weeks back, and how I view money and the process of making money, spending money, and the whole myth of the starving artist.  This tied in quite nicely with Write. Publish. Repeat as the authors of this book are also of the mindset that writers can make money, in fact, can make good money, as long as they are producing quality products (books) and lots of them.  I’m barely 1/3 of the way through and it can be quite overwhelming because they give you a ton of info so I put it down quite often and read other things and then come back to absorb some more.

I consider my writing a career, a new career sure (and very young) but I am trying to think of this like a business and myself a businesswoman.  This is not easy for me, it doesn’t come naturally so reading these books are helpful, but they are also filled with new decisions, new ideas, and new ways of thinking. I’ll be honest, I get burnt out or down on myself so I like having a few different books in slightly different categories to bounce around in. So, in that vein, I also have quite a big To Be Read pile under this category as I have books about publishing, marketing, and some health&wellness type self-help books too.

Do any of these sound interesting to you?  What have you been reading lately?  Do you use an eReader or tablet to read on or do you like what I call Dead Tree Books? (I call them that because I personally detest the REAL book label – I read a real book, even if it wasn’t printed on paper and I’m currently writing a real book even if my readers read it on an eDevice of some sort – a small pet peeve of mine!)  Do you like self-help type non-fiction or more of the civil war/Benjamin Franklin biopics type non-fiction? Let me know what you’re currently reading and give me some ideas for my ever-growing reading list.  Thanks!

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Creating a 3-Act Structure with Tarot Cards

I’m back for part two of my writing exercises using the Tarot for Writers book and my tarot cards.  Last week I created a new character, named Leo, and this week I’m using an exercise on page 72 about creating a three-act structure with two plot points.  I did not pull a card for the climax (seen in the book example) because I’m not actually writing this whole book.  Have a look-see at what cards I pulled and what I came up with for my beginning, middle, and end.   At the end of this post, I’ll tell you my thoughts going forward and what I’m going to write based off this reading for you guys! 

Act I – King of Swords
Leo, under the thumb of his father – a former MLB player, has played baseball his entire life from little league on through High School.  It is just expected that he will either go pro or play during college.  His father left baseball because of an injury and then became a professional agent.  He is powerful, successful, and charming.  Women love him, men want to be him – he never married Leo’s mother, but they co-parent as a team fairly well.  Leo’s father has high expectations of him and demands perfection above all else.  Leo must be the best! 

Plot Point 1 – The Moon
Leo, unhappy with the choices his Dad has made for him, has a dream one night while camping with his buddies.  He wakes up and walks under the full moon to the nearby lake where a young woman sits on a rock.  They have an amazing conversation about life, love, and the journey one must take for themselves when starting college. 

Act II – Nine of Cups
A college orientation party finds Leo in new surroundings.  Here no one cares about his Dad or sports at all really, but higher pursuits – science, literature, religion.  Leo must stand on his own two feet, as it were.  He wants to enjoy his time away from family and old friends, especially as he pursues this new life, but he’s finding it hard to figure out exactly where he stands and what he stands for.  He can’t seem to make up his mind about a major and starts having panic attacks that cause him to break down, sometimes going through a major depression for days/weeks at a time.

Plot Point 2 – The Sun
Leo is having trouble making new friends and starts to wonder if he somehow screwed up his entire life by walking away from his Dad’s plans.  He decides to take a long walk one beautiful Sunday to a public park that’s close to campus, to get away from his troubles.  He sees a group of guys playing ball for fun – no jerseys, no real official teams, no coaches.  Just a group, playing with a ball and a bat, having fun.  He asks if he can join them, which they immediately welcome and he plays for hours.  Sweating from the hot sun, he grabs a water and starts talking to one of the young men who goes to his school.  During their conversation, he realizes what he wants to study and finds a hobby that he’s good at and can enjoy for life.  He and his new friend walk back to campus together. 

Act III – The Hanged Man
After his day of fun, Leo chooses a major, settles into college life and meets the young woman from camp at a dance.  She’s the daughter of the Dean and just graduated from college the year before. She’s only a few years older, very taken with our Leo and they start dating.  Leo finally feels like himself.  He feels confident and has the courage to call his father, who he hasn’t spoken to in months and they start hashing things out on their way to redemption and a better, more grown-up relationship.   Leo feels like he’s on the right path – he has a handle on his shiny object syndrome, knowing that he can read and study anything without losing focus and he has matured into a bright young adult. 

Here’s what I’m thinking – I love the scene where he’s camping and meets the young lady by the lake so I think I will write that scene (2-3 thousand words) and post on the blog in a few weeks – I will get this one done quicker than my last tarot short story, I promise.  Does that sound like a good deal?  Or…if you guys like another scene more, comment and I’ll decide in a few days (maybe…Mon or Tues next week).  Thanks!

What do you think?  Would you read this book? Does it sound interesting?  What kinds of things do you see in these cards – seriously, give me your ideas, I might incorporate them.  I enjoy these exercises, but I’m not sure if I would use tarot cards to plot out a full book – but who knows.  I’m working on a novella right now that I plan on giving away for free when I get my newsletter ready so maybe I’ll pull a few cards if I have issues or run into plot problems.

Have you ever used the tarot cards for creative inspiration? Show me – I’m always trying to think of fun, new ways to use my cards.  

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Behind The Scenes: Modern Art and The Art of Lying

Today I’d like to share with you another look Behind the Scenes of The Art of Lying and talk about my love for Modern Art and how it influenced my main character, Rachel.

  Rachel is a young artist on the verge of a big break and her own gallery show.  I love visiting museums and art galleries and our apartment will have plenty of art on its walls once we get fully moved in (it’s only been, like, a year – whatever).  My love for the art world, especially modern art, is one of the biggest reasons Rachel spoke to me.  When she appeared in my brain – because, for some odd reason, most of my stories start with the main character first – I knew she was an artist immediately.  It was the thing that identified her so clearly, her whole persona.  It’s what made me so excited to start this novel, and what has kept me working on her and it for years.  (YEARS, people!)

My three favorite modern artists are Piet Mondrian, Wassily Kandinsky, and Alexander Calder. Besides being dubbed Modern Art, they all have one thing in common – bright, bold colors. I’m not a beige person, my favorite color is red followed closely by blue, yellow, and green – bright, bold colors is seriously my thing. Rachel is also not a beige person.  She wears black a lot, sure, but her art is all about color.  She describes her art as being in the Pop Style, like Andy Warhol, but because of my passion for clean lines, bold colors, and movement in art, she definitely has touches of those in her paintings as well.

Rachel meets another artist, a smaller character named Cassandra, who also would consider herself a modern artist but her pieces are very different – she makes modern day quilts. Bright, bold colored fabric is used to make faces and landscapes of the New York City skyline.  She blends the traditional art of quilting with her love of modern day art techniques to pen a love story of the people and city that surround her.  I loved being able to create two very different characters and styles of art to explore in this novel.  

Exploring my passions, like painting and art in general, is one of my favorite things about writing.  I love modern art, I can write about it.  I love the circus and the world of performers, I can write about it (hint hint).  I love families and how they work together (or not), how they solve problems (or not), and how they communicate (or not) within crisis so that’s what I write about.  They say write about what you know, but I say write about what you love.   Just because I myself can’t paint or sculpt or quilt doesn’t mean I can’t read and write about it.  

Who is your favorite artist?  Do you like the old masters? Classics? Sculpture?  And if you are a writer, do you put your passions and hobbies into your stories? Do you write what you know or what you love?
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A Journey through “Tarot for Writers” – Part 2 the Story

NOTE:  This is the short story I finally wrote based on the tarot cards I pulled during this post HERE – A Journey through “Tarot for Writers” – Part 1 the Exercises.  I enjoyed this process, sorry it took so long to actually finish it and get it posted.  If you enjoyed these two posts, let me know.  I can do more of these exercises from the book or I can show you how I’m using the cards in my actual writing projects.  Enjoy!

The Hanged Man
By Jennifer Gregson

“So, Mr., uh…” she flipped the folder open, using her long red fingernail to scan down the page, “Fundi.”

“Yes,” he said, coming fully into her office and shutting the door behind him.

“Please, have a seat, we need to chat.”

Eli sat down, adjusting his shirt, noticing that he had buttoned the bottom two buttons wrong and that’s why he was having issues all morning.  

“Mr. Fundi, HR will be here any minute.  Do you know why?”

He looked at his boss and then down at the floor.  Yes, he knew why but, he couldn’t say a word, he had promised.

“Don’t look at the floor, look at me,” she said, standing straight up in front of him.  Her gray wool suit and beige silk camisole, both very expensive, showed very little creasing.  He wondered if she had sat at all that day.   She was known to walk the hallways while thinking and talking to her assistant, Carol, who tried to keep up with her.  

“Elijah, I’m very disappointed in you.  You were well liked, well respected around here.  I never suspected you would steal from us.”

“What? No, I never. I didn’t,” he stammered.  He flexed his fingers.  Now what? He couldn’t turn on his friend.  Not now, not after what he told him last night. But they think he did this? Was he going to be fired?  Is that why HR was on its way?  To escort him out of the building with a box of his belongings in his hands?

“Well, you had access to the Harris Toy Company’s file.  You had access to all of the information.  Information that their competitors now have, and are using against them.  Using to create their own campaign.  Harris is ruined and they’re blaming us.”

Eli looked down again, this time at his fingers.  He started ticking off the reasons he’s keeping this secret.  AJ’s girlfriend just told him she was pregnant.  AJ’s mom is still very sick and needs to be moved to a better nursing home.  AJ has a record.  This will be three strikes.  AJ will go to jail.  That’s a definite.  Did he want his friend to suffer? His friend’s family?

“Mr. Fundi what are you doing? Are you mumbling to yourself?  Are you trying to confess?”

“No, ma’am.  Ms. Fields, I’m not.  I am very sorry.”

“You’re sorry?”

“Yes.  I made a huge mistake.  I let my mouth talk when it shouldn’t have.  I talked while drinking with my buddies and someone heard me.”  It seemed like a plausible enough lie, but that’s not what happened at all.  AJ sold that information, on purpose, for a boatload of cash.  

“I know you’re lying to me,” she said, sitting on the edge of the desk, her skirt hiking just slightly above her knee.

“No, I made a mistake.”

“Well, that’s definitely true. But that’s not what happened.  We know money exchanged hands.  We know it was a calculated issue.  We know ‘someone’ did this on purpose.”

Eli looked right up into her eyes.  He was always so nervous around her.  Patricia Fields – so polished, poised, and powerful.  And beautiful.  Her eyes were the prettiest blue he had ever seen, but they were sad.  Cloudy.  Too much coffee, not enough sleep.

Patricia looked back at him.  A lost puppy, that’s what she always thought about him.  But, not in this moment, he looked strong.  He looked like a grown up.  Ready to take on the day and the world.  He was definitely covering up for someone.  They would figure it out, with or without his help.  HR was coming and he would be escorted from the building.  She couldn’t help him from that without him talking.

As he walked back to his desk with HR and security, he hung his head, so as not to make eye contact with anyone.  He didn’t want his coworkers looking at him with shame in their eyes.   He boxed up the few things he kept at his desk, and followed the security guard and HR manager out the door, another security guard directly behind them.  At the front door, they collected his badge and handed him a letter.  Sealed.  He tossed it on the top of the box and walked toward his car in the parking lot.

After placing the box carefully in his car, he sat in the front seat and wondered aloud.   “What now, idiot?” 

A knock on the window made him jump.  AJ, looking nervous and damp, was looking in.   Eli didn’t want to talk to him. Not now, and especially not here.  I mean, was he the biggest moron ever?  He had to know they were watching him, didn’t he?

After a few, very long, seconds, Eli rolled down his window and just said, “Not now.  Meet me at the bar tonight, 6 pm, and you better….I lied for you, man.  Now go back to work.”

Eli nursed the beer he was drinking and checked his watch for the fifteenth time.  5:59 pm He glanced at the door, but still no AJ.  He better show up.  Alone.

6:03 pm, AJ stumbled into the bar, looking like he already had a few, but where?  He only got off work a little while ago.   AJ flopped down across from Eli.

“You are my hero!” he said, motioning to the bartender.

“For what?  Getting my ass fired?  Saving your ass from jail?”

“Well, yeah…that is a true friend.  Who got you that job anyways?  Me.  I saved you, you saved me.”

“But you cost me that job.  A job I was good at.  A job I was starting to really like. Now what?  I can’t get another paralegal job because of this so I’m back at square one.  Worse.  Because I have bills too and I need another job fast.”

“I can help with that.  I have more information. Good information and I need a go-between.”

“Are you insane?  Or just stupid?  You went to college right?  We were there together, right?”

“Yes, and I finished.”

“My father….” Eli trailed off.  He grabbed his beer and finished it, “If you really cared about me, AJ, if we were really friends you’d do the right thing.  You’d come forward, on your own and clear my name.”

“I can’t do that. The baby, my Mom. She’s not herself, and you know that.”

“Yes, and I have a mother too.”

“Not one with Alzheimer’s. I go visit her, she thinks I’m Dad or her older brother.”

“I get that.  You have problems.  Dude, I understand, but you know what?  I did my duty, I protected my friend.  You thanked me.  Great.”  Eli stood up, grabbed a ten from his wallet and threw it on the table.  “Beers on me, see you around. Maybe.”

AJ didn’t try to stop him.  Eli walked out into the early evening cool air and headed to his car.

The next day Eli realized he had nowhere to go and piles of laundry so he took them over to his Mom’s house to talk.

“Okay, so why are you here on a weekday?  What happened?”

Eli took a deep breath, “I got fired.”

“What?”  his Mom sat down next to him on the couch.

Without meaning to, Eli opened his mouth and the entire truth poured out of him.

“I did it to save my friend and now I feel like the biggest idiot in the world.  I thought I was doing the right thing, in the moment, but now I’m not so sure. I think I just ruined my life.”

Eli’s mom looked at him with a mixture of pride and sadness.

“What?” he asked her.

“I’m proud of you, but I have never liked that AJ boy, he got you into so much trouble in college and it just keeps happening.  Is there anything you can do?  Can you go back to your boss and confess?”

“I could, sure.  AJ is an idiot, but he’s my idiot.  I wish I could talk to him, make him understand, make him see the right thing, you know?  But he’s so caught up in his own, um, stuff to see that he’s throwing away 10 years of friendship.  I’m out.  I’m done.”

“Honey, you are old enough to say shit in this house.”

Eli smiled.

“Eli, you need to start thinking about you.  You and your happiness.  When was the last time you stopped and asked yourself if your life was making you happy?  That job was good, it was good money, but did it make you happy?  Has anything since the accident made you happy?”

Ugh, she had to go there.  He was a mechanic, a damn good one, until…the accident.  A small leak, gas most likely, caused his garage to blow up.  He was in the office doing paperwork when it happened, which saved his life, but after that, he couldn’t walk into another garage. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is what the doctor’s called it.  Scared was what he called it.  He couldn’t work for months.  AJ got him out of his funk and got him the job at the law firm. 

“No.”  The only thing Eli could say.  Nothing had made him happy in a long time.  But, seeing his boss every day made him smile.  She was so confident and sure of herself.  She was amazing.  Watching her think and work, watching her win at all costs was such a, well, turn on, I guess.  He didn’t want to think about her in that way, but she was stunning.

“Son, you need to stop worrying about everyone else.  You worry about me too much and you worry about your friends too much. Who worries about you?”

“You do.”

“Besides me,” she said with a smile, “Your friend is only thinking of himself.  You like working with your hands, right? So, maybe there’s something there – I mean, there are other jobs besides a mechanic that allows you to work with your hands.”

“So, what are you telling me to do Mom?”

“I’m not. That’s the thing.  You have to figure this out all by yourself.  The only thing I’m telling you, stop worrying about me.  Stop worrying about AJ.  Just think about you, for once.”

His mom got up to put his laundry in the dryer.  Eli stared out the window. He knew he needed to do the right thing, even if it got AJ fired, even if he got him in trouble because AJ was acting like an idiot.  He thought he was being a good friend, but AJ was just going to make more deals, more mistakes and get himself fired….or worse.  He was going to throw away his life, then what would happen to his child and his mother? 

Once he got home, he pulled out a piece of paper and hand wrote a note to his ex-boss asking if it would be improper or illegal to meet out of the office for coffee, that he had some information, something that would help her figure things out.  He put her address on it and a stamp and put it in the mailbox.  That was it.  It was going out and there was nothing else to do now but wait.  

His leg wouldn’t stay still.  It had been three days since the letter went out before she called.  He had started wondering if she was going to just ignore the letter, ignore him.  He had sent the letter and then started creating a file of sorts, with information, but no outright names.  He wanted her to have the clues, but not the answer.  
“I don’t have time for games, Mr. Fundi,” she said as she chugged the hot coffee, steam rising up to meet her face.

“I know, but, I need to make things right.  I  just can’t tell you what’s going on, though I do have a folder with enough information that you should be able to know exactly who it is without me having to name names.  And there’s more than one name involved.  The fallout won’t be pretty.”

“Selling information goes up higher than just a paralegal?”

“Yes, the said paralegal in question had help. A lawyer dropped the file by accident, on purpose and they’re splitting the money.”

“What?  Are you positive?”  She looked up at him, he nodded.  “Why tell me now? Why didn’t you confess this the other day in my office?”

“Because I am an idiot.  I thought I was being a good friend, but I was wrong.”

He handed the folder to her and motioned for the waitress.  After ordering a slice of pie he sat back and watched her read the file.  She was wearing a dark red skirt and black sweater, it was casual Friday in the office.

“You can’t be serious?  He’s on his way to making partner…are you sure?” She looked up from the file,  “Why are you smiling?”

“You’re so smart.  I’m probably too stupid for thinking that information was going to be harder to gleam.”

“No, it’s just that I started looking into things myself.  You knew two other paralegals so we started there.  I just didn’t think to look any higher.   You’re sure?  100% sure?”

“Yes, ma’am. I didn’t want to believe it either, but apparently your ‘on his way to make partner’ lawyer has a gambling problem.”


They sat for a few minutes in silence while the waitress set Eli’s pie down and refilled the coffee mugs.  Eli took a bite and looked over at this smart woman trying to figure things out.

“You want to walk?”

“What?” she asked, clearly lost in her mind.

“In the office, I’ve never seen you sit this long.”

“I sit in court all day so when I get a chance to stand and move around, I do.”

“I’ve seen you come up with brilliant things while walking around the office.”

“How long did you work for us?”

“8 months.”

“That’s it?”

“Yes. I liked working there, but to be honest, I wasn’t happy there.”

She looked down at her coffee and stirred the cream in with a spoon.

“You were a hard worker though.”

“I always work hard, ma’am”

“Ugh, enough with the ma’am shit, okay.  Call me Patricia.”

“I can’t do that.”

“Why?  You don’t work for me anymore. I’ll call you….”

“Elijah or Eli.”

“Eli, I like that.”

They sat in silence again for a while.  Eli finished his pie and drank his coffee.

“What are you going to do with that information?” he asked her.

“I don’t know.  I know we need to take care of this, of both of them…but I’m wondering, have others done this?  Is it the first time?  And how do I get more proof?”

“I can’t help you with how many others, but…you have a big case coming up, correct?”


“And some of the information you have is critical and confidential to a certain large pharmaceutical company, correct?”

“Yes, and that lawyer is helping me.  He asked to help me.  I just thought it was because of him making partner, he wanted to look good for the higher ups, but….you’re saying….no, I still have a hard time believing this.”

“I know, and I’m sorry.  But it’s not just my paralegal friend.  Yes, he is in it and he might have started it, I’m not sure.  All I know is my friend and your lawyer both have money issues and need cash fast.  This is a way to do that.”

“But they have to know we’re looking into things, right?  I mean, after firing you, we’ll be on high alert.”

“Do they?  Or do they think they got away with it?  People get cocky. They slip up, make mistakes.”

She closed the folder and put the notes in her bag.  She finished her coffee and sat back.  She looked at me for a really long time, before a smile crept across her lips.

“What?” Eli asked.

“You are smart.  Too smart for your own good I think.”

“That’s what my Mother says.”  Eli smiled too.

“What can I do to help you?  You didn’t deserve to be fired.  I can help you find another job, talk to someone, let them know the inside scoop, as it were.”

“No, I’m done with the legal field.  I miss working with my hands.  I used to be a mechanic.”

She smiled even wider. 

“What?” he asked. 

“I can’t picture you in dirty coveralls, covered in oil.”  

He laughed and looked down at his khakis and a button up shirt, “Well, that was me and I liked it and I was really good at it, but…well, it’s difficult right now to do that work.  My past…it’s just….well, I’m actually going tomorrow to talk to a construction firm about a job opportunity.”

“Construction.  I think you’ll be good at that.  I have a feeling you’ll be the boss soon.”

“I don’t aspire to anything that big, but…maybe I should huh?”

She threw down $50 and got ready to leave.

“Don’t you want to wait for your change?”

“No, give her everything.  I come in here a lot and I know she just lost her husband, and they have two kids.”

He smiled at her.

“What?” she asked.

“You are very different out of the office…” he wanted to go on but stopped himself. He knew she’d never say yes.

“Can I contact you again, for more, information if need be?” she asked.

“Of course, you have my phone number.”

She smiled.  He smiled.  She walked out and he watched her.  Maybe he didn’t do the right thing right away, but he felt good.  He was going to lose his friend, that was a guarantee.  But growing up sometimes meant leaving people behind. 

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Behind The Scenes: Locations in The Art of Lying

I thought I would start a new series here on the blog called Behind the Scenes.  I’m finishing up my final round of revisions on my current novel, The Art of Lying, and I will be sending it to an editor before self-publishing later this year.  I thought it might be fun to do this Behind the Scenes look at my book and how I’ve been writing and revising it.  Today I wanted to start with Locations.  My book is set in Manhattan, mostly, with some scenes in New Jersey.  When I started this book, I was living in Manhattan so I don’t have a ton of personal pictures to add, but I will add some links to the NYC parks department pictures, Wikipedia, and my own personal Pinterest folder for the book. 

Moving on Up

My main character and her family live on the Upper East Side in a fancy high-rise apartment building.  I lived for many years among those buildings and looked online for a few different types of floor plans before drawing my own – see below for the one I sketched of the apartment.  I adored the UES, Park Avenue with its median parks, and the historic feel to the area with the older buildings and store fronts.  I thought my main character’s Mom would have chosen the UES as the area to move from NJ once they had some wealth, ala The Jeffersons from the 70s sitcom.  When you’re moving on up, you move to East Side. To a deluxe apartment in the sky…..sorry, I was totally singing there, but I’m done now.


Below 14th Street

My main character, Rachel, is an up and coming modern artist with her own gallery show, new money, and a funky artist loft in Downtown Manhattan.  See below for the quick sketch I made of her loft setup.  Her favorite park in the city is Union Square Park.  This park is always bustling with activity from families, shoppers, tourists, and the like.  It has a weekly farmers market that has a ton of stalls and a very active community and neighborhood surrounding it.  Rachel goes on a first date with a young man in the book which I based on an actual restaurant that my husband took me to for our second date (after we saw one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies).  It has diners, bookstores, subway access, and many coffee shops around the area.

The Big Apple

So, Rachel has her artist loft in downtown and she lives uptown, so she spends some time either walking around or on the 4-5-6 subway trains.  This was my old train system that I basically spent my whole commute on so I didn’t need much help here either.  She’s addicted to coffee and right now, Starbucks is the name of the game (I mean, there are at least two spots in the city I can think of that have competing Starbucks either right across the street from each other or down the block from each other) so she does go there quite a bit, or have coffee in her hand from there. Manhattan, where I lived for 10 years, always felt like home and it seemed the perfect place to set my novel.  

Bridge and Tunnel

Rachel and her family came from a small town in New Jersey, but she’s only there two times to visit her Grandfather, so I spent more time on research for the one scene where she visits an old familiar family haunt, Wildwoods Amusement Park. I’ve never personally been there, but I have been to various Six Flags and Disney parks so I understand the basic theme park concept.  I did use their website and pictures found online for layouts and a few ride names. 


Pinterest has been amazing in terms of finding images and maps to use for this project.  If you click here you will be taken to my The Art of Lying board which has images of artist lofts, Union Sq Park, and other images that help me with my novel, including some celebrities that I chose to “cast” and help me “act” out my characters.  It will give you a bit of an idea about what my book and the characters are all like and some ideas about Rachel’s flavor of modern art.  I used this amazing site for everything and will be doing it again on my next big project (hint: it’s set in the circus). 
What else would you like to know about me and my writing process?  I have plans to talk about the music I write to, my favorite Modern Artists and how they inspired me (and Rachel), and possibly my writing space setup (which is still a mess, even though we moved practically nine months ago).  What else would you like to know more about?  Let me know and I’ll see what I can do.  Thanks! 

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A Journey through “Tarot for Writers” – Part 1 the Exercises

So, I just picked up Tarot For Writers by Corrine Kenner from the library (amazon link) and I already love it – seriously, it’s going on the To Buy list. 
I got Tarot cards this past Christmas and started learning all about the cards and how they were organized, Major vs. Minor Arcana and the different suits – Wands, Pentacles, Swords, and Cups. I started pulling cards in the morning and journaling. I started doing simple 3 card spreads for various questions I was thinking about in my life. This book though, takes the tarot cards and my creative life, to a whole new level.
The book is divided into three parts. Part one is about how the cards are organized and how to read them (simply and quickly). Part two is the writing exercises dealing with character, plot, settings, descriptions, and beating writer’s block. Part three is a guide to the cards with keywords, writing prompts, and things to think about for each card in a standard deck.
For fun, I thought I would go through two of the exercises – Character Creation and a 3-card spread for Beginning, Middle, and End. I’ll show you the cards I pull, what I write for each answer, and any other insights that come up. Then I will take what I write during these two exercises and I’ll compose a short story (1000-1500 words) and post that in a few days.  Okay, it sounds like fun to me. Lol  
Exercise 1: Character Creation (page 40 in the book)
Use the cards to answer the following questions. You can pull as many as you like to determine the answers. Note, I’m going to pull one card per question and I’m going to create a protagonist and an antagonist. If I need any further characters after doing Exercise 2 (the plot portion) then I’ll go back and do that on my own. Also…I named the characters after I pulled the cards, but put it at the top for easier ID.
PROTAGONIST – Elijah, goes by Eli
1. Is your character a man or a woman?
Card – Four of Swords
Notes – Man
2. How old is your character?
Card – Seven of Wands
Notes – 27 years old
3. What does your character look like?
Card – Ten of Cups
Notes – Medium height, brown hair, brown eyes, likes colorful clothing – oranges, blues, reds
4. What does your character do for a living?
Card – Ten of Swords
Notes – He was just fired, over a suspicion of wrong doing – the company he had just started working for says he stole proprietary information, he didn’t do it but he knows who did – but wouldn’t snitch
5. How does your character spend his or her free time?
Card – The Hanged Man
Notes – Carpentry, using his hands building things – it’s his passion
6. Does your character have a spouse, children, or a pet?
Card – Five of Wands
Notes – No, but he has a very tight-knit group of guys that have been friends since grade school
7. What are your character’s hopes and dreams?
Card – Two of Cups
Notes – A loving relationship, marriage even. Security and companionship.
8. What does your character fear most?
Card – Queen of Pentacles
Notes – Disappointing his mother and lack of money, he grew up poor and his Mom worked two jobs to make sure he got what he needed throughout his childhood. 
ANTAGONIST – Pansy was her given name but she changed it to Patricia to sound more lawyer-like
1. Is your character a man or a woman?
Card – Queen of Wands
Notes – Woman
2. How old is your character?
Card – Four of Cups
Notes –  40s-50s
3. What does your character look like?
Card –  Six of Cups
Notes – Younger than her years suggest, most people assume she’s 30 but she’s pushing 50. Bright colors look good on her, pale skin, blonde hair.
4. What does your character do for a living?
Card – Ace of Swords
Notes – Lawyer, Eli’s old boss, the one who accused him of stealing
5. How does your character spend his or her free time?
Card – The Chariot
Notes –  She secretly loves car races, like the Indy 500 and Nascar. She always wanted to be a race car driver, but her father wouldn’t hear of it – it was too dangerous for his only child. She was smart and her father knew she could go places with an education and a career.
6. Does your character have a spouse, children, or a pet?
Card – Ace of Cups
Notes –  Had. Past tense, now divorced. He slipped through her fingers. She was working all the time and they were too young to really appreciate what they had. He has since remarried and has children with his new wife.
7. What are your character’s hopes and dreams?
Card –  Knight of Cups
Notes –  State Supreme Court Justice…for now
8. What does your character fear most?
Card –  Two of Swords
Notes – Dying alone, never feeling love again – having to choose between love and her career again
Exercise 2 – Beginning, Middle, and End (page 69 in the book)
Just lay a card for the beginning, middle, and end of your story. Note, I laid all three as if in a regular 3-card spread with Beginning on the Left, Middle in the middle, and Ending on the Right – as shown below in the picture. Also, I used what I had gathered from the above Character creation exercise…meaning, this is the beginning, middle, and end of their story – not just a random plot. Okay, then here we go.
Card – The Devil
Notes – The day Eli gets fired. We see him being grilled by his boss, Patricia about the stolen information and although he didn’t do the deed, he knows who did and he won’t budge. She uses all of her lawyer tricks on him, thinking since he’s just a lowly paralegal he’ll crack. Although she’s pissed off that he won’t tell her what she needs, she’s oddly attracted to his reserve. Eli confronts his friend, the one that got him the job, the one who is actually stealing information and begs him to come forward for his own sake.
Card – Judgement
Notes – Eli can’t convince his friend and starts to pull away from his group of friends. While visiting his mother he accidentally lets it slip that he lost his job and why. His Mom is both proud and saddened by his actions, and gives him some advice: do what’s right for his friend. Tell the truth. But will Eli just give up 20 years of friendship that fast, even when he feels betrayed?  Will he have to think outside the box and come up with a different alternative to help himself and his friend and his ex-boss out?
Card – Page of Cups
Notes – Our young hero has decided and with it has totally turned his whole world upside down. He is on his own for the first time in forever and must learn to fend for himself. He must decide what’s best for him and him alone without worrying about his Mom or his friends. He has to realize that his needs are just as important and how he feels about himself needs to come first. He talks to his ex-boss, Patricia – gives her just enough information to figure out the pieces for herself and decides to look into carpentry type jobs instead of corporate money-making opportunities.

Final notes from me….in all honesty, this was fun but I’m nervous. This is not something I would normally write about – which is some ways is exactly what I need, but in other ways I feel completely out of my element. I hope I haven’t given myself too much information for a short story. Right now, I have a lot of interesting ideas about how to proceed and how to write this story.  I’m going to jump in, like the Fool card might do, and just start – shitty first draft and then clean up a bit before I post. Part 2 coming soon!!!
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Too Many Books, Not Enough Time

I finished the first book of Game of Thrones (still haven’t seen any of the HBO series….sorry) and was looking through my To-Read list on Goodreads and realized I have more books that I want to read than time to read them.

In between running around after a very mobile toddler, writing, exercising, eating, sleeping, and spending some time with friends and family there’s not much left over for reading. I know how important reading is for a writer so I make it happen, but it’s slow and steady.

GOT took me two or three months to finish and I could make the argument that it was a long novel, but truth be told, I lost interest half-way through and switched to a few non-fiction books about conflict and plotting. Then I came back and finished.

What made me lose interest? I think it was too many chapters about the men (and fighting, or getting ready to fight, or just getting done with a fight) and not enough with Khaleesi/Dany, who I found so interesting. She was tragic, brave, and I knew eventually she was going to have dragons (mostly from a Time Warner Cable commercial, but also because what writer in their right mind puts in dragon eggs without giving us a dragon!).

Ok, I’m getting off topic, my main point was I’m overwhelmed with my to-read list. I just started the second book of the Divergent series (Insurgent by Veronica Roth). Also on my list is the second book of the Cinder series (Scarlet by Marissa Meyer), the second GOT book (A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin), Life of Pi by Yann Martel, Smoke & Mirrors by Neil Gaiman, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, Mindy Kaling’s non-fiction book (Is Everyone Having Fun Without Me), and Kristen Chenowith’s non-fiction book (A Little Bit Wicked). I think I also have a few writerly type books on the list as well.

I’m overwhelmed just typing that list…I want to keep track of books I want to read (I even have a Pinterest board called Books Worth Reading where I keep things I see online)….but sometimes seeing that list, or seeing the books in my Nook apps queue is….counterproductive to me reading at all. I know, it’s weird….one of my many quirks.

So…what do you guys do? Do you hide books, not go to goodreads or pinterest or wherever you keep your list online….seriously, I’m in need of some help. Thanks!

P.S. – Sorry about the short blog hiatus, we were in Virginia visiting family and the week before hand was spent getting ready to travel by train with a toddler (which was super fun actually, I’d recommend it!). Hope to get back on a posting schedule this week. 🙂

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Late to the Party

While my little man was trying to wake up this morning, and I thought about this here blog…my mind wandered to television and some of the new shows we’ve been watching in our house.  This led me here – five pop culture phenomenons that I started liking way too late.
1. Firefly.  I love Nathan Fillion, but I did not get this show when my sister first started talking about it – and she talked about it a lot.  It wasn’t until a few years ago that a marathon was on the Science channel that I finally got it.  I have now seen each episode at least three times and I now get it.  Stupid FOX, messing up a good thing.  Maybe if it had lasted more than a few episodes I would have caught on sooner.  
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Look, I have nothing against Joss Whedon, I swear…I just didn’t get the appeal of this show.  Now, this is a new one for me and I’m only on the sixth or seventh episode of the first season, but I get it now.  It’s funny, scary, twisted, dark, interesting, and clever.  I will get around to finishing this series, but it’s a bit much to watch around my toddler and my husband isn’t a fan….so it will take awhile, but I will finish it, I swear.
3. The West Wing.  It has Dulé Hill in it (Gus from Psych!) and apparently Matthew Perry shows up (right?) but I just was not into this show when it first aired.  I was a senior in college and not into politics, not that I’m really into politics now, but I can at least understand and appreciate more about what goes into the White House and the Presidency.   Also, I think I’m the only person who enjoyed Aaron Sorkin’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip – and I can see where his style is used in both shows.  What else has he done?
4. Game of Thrones.  Okay, this one is a bit different as I’m talking the books and not the HBO show.  We don’t have cable so I haven’t seen any episodes but everyone talks about it on Facebook and Twitter.  The thing is, I probably would have gone my merry way for years except the Revision class I’m doing strongly suggested we read the book as a character study lesson – and she’s right, the first book is rich with amazing character development.  I get to the end of the chapter and I’m like….wait, but what comes next?  I have already added the discs to my Netflix queue and will get around to that as soon as I’m done reading.  I have a feeling I’ll be reading the whole series too.  
5. Community.  Okay, back to television.  I knew this was becoming a cult classic and that the network threatened to cancel or something….right?  Anyways, we accidentally caught an episode this past season and I laughed my butt off, even though I knew nothing about the characters or what was really going on – that’s good TV!  So we loaded up Hulu Plus with the rest of the show and we’re almost caught up.  Troy and Abed (in the morning!) are my favorites, although Jeff is the best douche in the world.  

So….there you go, five pop culture phenomenons that I realized way too late were awesome.  I’m fixing that, though, slowly but surely.  Next week – check out part two, the opposite side of this coin – five things other people think are ah-may-zing that I just don’t get.  I’m sure to piss off some people too, so good times.