Sunny Day Towing Company (Self Care 100 Word Story)

“Did you call for a tow?” A woman in dungaree overalls asked, stepping out the truck. Stitched named tag read ‘Sunny’.

Crying, he sat on the curb and nodded, clothes drenched from the rain.

Her eyes assessed the damage. “Yeah, that’s not looking good.”

“You’re telling me,” He choked a teary laugh. “Can’t seem to get myself out of this ditch,” No broken-down vehicle in sight, only a grey raincloud floating over his head. “Life’s been rough lately, y’know?”

Smiling, she attached the truck’s hook to the edge of the cloud. Thunder rumbled.

“Don’t get overwhelmed, I’m here to help.”          


Hello Writer Bees,

I’ve had a tough week for me. Changes at work have left me stressed. Had at least two breakdowns. It’s been difficult to write blog posts and my WIP when I’m in this bad head space. When hard things in life pile on like that, it can be overwhelming. I try to be a positive light and post content for you guys, but in this moment, my mental health is struggling.

I need some self care, to re-shift my focus and attitude. And from that need for self care came this little 100 word story. Feel like I poured my sad feelings into this piece. Now I’m a little lighter, dusting those heavy emotions off my chest and heart. From a challenging time came a simple sweet story. Writing isn’t just art, it’s an outlet. And I’m pretty lucky writing is my outlet and safe space.

And shoutout to Mister Jabberwocky for letting me ugly cry all week. He really is the sweetest, most supportive partner. Again, I’ve pretty lucky.

If you are struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out for help and talk to someone.

Write with heart.

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky          

5 LGBTQ+ Books to Read During Pride Month (Repost)

Hey Writer Bees!

Diversity in storytelling is so important. Every kind of person should be represented and represented well in all mediums. No matter the story, the characters need to feel realistic, and that includes in terms of sexuality and gender identity.

In honor of Pride Month, I’m sharing some colorful books that celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Distant and exacting, Bruce Bechdel was an English teacher and director of the town funeral home, which Alison and her family referred to as the “Fun Home.” It was not until college that Alison, who had recently come out as a lesbian, discovered that her father was also gay. A few weeks after this revelation, he was dead, leaving a legacy of mystery for his daughter to resolve.

I’ve read this book, and let me tell you, it’s an outstanding story. Alison Bechdel is an exceptional and brave writer. Full of humor and heartbreak, I couldn’t recommend this graphic memoir any higher. You don’t have to be queer to feel touched by her life story. Seriously, Fun Home is a must-have in your book collection.

Amazon.com: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic eBook: Bechdel, Alison ...

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

On the first day at his new school, Leo Denton has one goal: to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in his class is definitely not part of that plan–especially because Leo is a trans guy and isn’t out at his new school.

Written in first person narrative, Lisa Williamson tells the story of two transgender students who are navigating their gender identity. Based on reviews, it’s a great exploration of what it means to be transgender today. This one is definitely on my To-Be-Read list!

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson - review | Children's ...

Prince and Knight – Daniel Haack (Author), Stevie Lewis (Illustrator)

In this modern fairy tale, a noble prince and a brave knight come together to defeat a terrible monster and in the process find true love in a most unexpected place.

Not every prince is looking for a fair maiden. If you want to introduce the youngsters in your life to inclusivity and the LGBTQ+ community, look no further than this charming children’s book. This fairytale is colorful and magical and incredibly sweet. Frankly, I might buy this book for my nephew, so he can learn about acceptance and love in all forms.

Prince & Knight (Mini Bee Board Books): Haack, Daniel, Lewis ...

Stonewall: The Definitive Story of the LGBTQ Rights Uprising that Changed America

On June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village, was raided by police. But instead of responding with the typical compliance the NYPD expected, patrons and a growing crowd decided to fight back. The five days of rioting that ensued changed forever the face of gay and lesbian life.

For all the history buffs out there, this is the book for you. A masterful, powerful retelling of the Stonewall Riots and the first gay rights march, written by historian Martin Duberman. With everything going on in the world right now, this piece of work is so relevant and on the pulse. Learning about our history is important, now more than ever.

Stonewall: The Definitive Story of the LGBT Rights Uprising that Changed America by [Martin B.  Duberman]

This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson

There’s a long-running joke that, after “coming out,” a lesbian, gay guy, bisexual, or trans person should receive a membership card and instruction manual. THIS IS THAT INSTRUCTION MANUAL. You’re welcome.

Lighthearted and informative, this is the unofficial guide to being gay and/or curious. Inside, there’s candid answers to any and all LGBTQ+ related questions. No matter your sexual preference, this book makes for a great gift and an even greater addition to your bookshelf.

This Book Is Gay by Juno Dawson, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

As writers, as readers, as humans, let’s expand our horizons and promote inclusivity in all that we do.

What’s your favorite book showcasing the LGBTQ+ community? Lemme know in the comments.

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

Follow Me on Twitter

Born a Bloodhound (Detective Mystery Flash Fiction)

Hello Super Sleuths,

This work on fiction is based on last week’s post, the 5 archetypes of fictional detectives. Enjoy!


In every lifetime, I’d been born a bloodhound.

The city was a graveyard, grey and cold and deadly silent. It was near midnight. On a lonely street corner by the museum, I stood there in the pouring rain. Fedora and trench coat drenched. Smoke rose from the sewer grate.

She stood beside me, a viper in heels. Eyelashes sharp like butcher knives.

“Finn, darling,” Her hands slip inside my coat, warm as a shot of ice cold whiskey. She whispered into my ear. “Let’s forget about this little museum jewel heist. The robbers are probably long gone by now,” The minx kissed me, full and feverish. Lips were red like a stop sign. “Couldn’t we just run off together instead? It’d be so easy.” Easy, she says. Easy like a bullet to the head.

I lit a cigarette and eyed the moon. “A dame like you is going to be in a world of trouble someday.” She snickered, her fingers inched towards the gun holstered on my hip. I snatched her wrist. “Quit playing games and fess up already. I know about your little scheme. Now, you want to tell me where that million-dollar diamond is? Or do I have to search you myself?”

Eyebrow raised, she offered a wide wolfish grin, full of teeth and poison. “Please do, inspector.”
———————————————————————————————————–

Every incarnation, there is a trail I’m bound to follow.

That sunny summer morning on Cherry Blossom Lane, I sat cozy in my armchair. On the coffee table, there’s a tray of tea and oatmeal cookies. The rain would arrive later, my bones could sense it. 

“Miss Finnegan, are you feeling alright?” The aid, Gloria, handed me a porcelain teacup embellished with golden roses. Accepting the cup, I nodded with a smile. Looking out the window once more, I watched the new neighbors shuffle cardboard boxes. Lady Whiskerdown, my faithful companion, leapt into my lap.

“Dear? Did you hear about Mister Massey next door?” I asked.

She hummed. “They said it was a robbery gone wrong, yes? Poor thing.”

“His son moved in so quickly after his father’s death, don’t you think?” I pondered. As soon as the yellow police tape was removed, the son was quick to move into the lovely estate. How odd. Lady Whiskerdown thought it odd too.

“Miss Finnegan, you are being nosey again,”  The nurse teased, wagging her finger. As Gloria left the room to fetch my afternoon pills, I gripped my walker, hoisting myself up. “Where are you off to now?”

I may be retired, but an old dog like me can sense trouble when it’s around. Like the rain, my bones could sense it. I gave her a sweet, harmless smile. “Only saying hello to the new neighbors. Where’s the harm in that?”


Every breath dedicated to unraveling the most tangled of life’s mysteries.

After hours, school gave me the heebie-jeebies. Once bustling with classmates, the hallways were eerily empty. Flashlights in hand, my pals and I the snuck around. With the janitor’s permission, of course. He wasn’t thrilled about the recent hauntings and kidnappings either. Our sneakers squeaked against the linoleum tiles. A heavy mini backpack strapped to my back, full of everything a good detective needs to catch a ghost. Fishing net included. Scrunchie on my wrist, in case of emergency.

We found locker #66G. I pried open the metal locker with a screwdriver, its contents spilling out on the floor. Let’s see. A stack of overdue homework. A half-eaten cheeseburger. A bag of glow-in-the-dark powder. I gulped. “Guys,” I turned to my gang of cohorts: The mathlete with thick rimmed glasses, the blonde vixen in a cheerleader uniform, the skater with the tie dye shirt, the dog. “I think I found something.”

Above us, the lights flickered. A strained, moaning sound rang through the halls. Suddenly, a specter in white rags with a phantom mask appeared, floating and glowing a ghoulish green. Rattling chains looped around it’s arms.

“It-it-it’s the Grahamsville G-G-Ghost!”

“Yikes!”

“Finley, run!” My friend called out to me. The Grahamsville Ghost hovered towards us.  

Real ghost or not, I wasn’t looking to become the next missing victim. New plan: Run!


I tried experimenting with different tones here, different subgenres of mystery fiction. Sometimes, It’s good to write outside your comfort zone. In the first part, I was aiming for noir vibes, second part was more a cozy mystery and third part was based on Saturday morning cartoons. Let me know what you guys think in the comments. I’m open to feedback.

Happy sleuthing!

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

The Brawn Man of Brooklyn (A Superpowered Short Story)

They called it an extraordinary phenomenon.

A regular Hercules, Dr. Rabinowitz on 3rd street claimed. Frankie was born with the capabilities of lifting objects 100 times heavier than his body weight. Super strength, as the kids would say. His mother said Hail Mary in Italian ten times a day and cried, as if her son was some kind of devil. She constantly scolded him out of fear of his destructiveness. “Don’t touch that!” and “Don’t touch anything!” and “Don’t you dare touch the baby!”

He was a toddler. And his strength was something unexplainable, something that should remain a secret. If he pressed his hand into wall too hard, the wall would crack. Toys, if not handled gently, would be crushed or broken into pieces. Even the metal handle of his bicycle was indented with his fingertips. He couldn’t control this, even as he got older, his power grew more dangerous. On the kindergarten playground, he pushed a kid out of the sandbox and cracked his rib. When he was seven years old, he threw a baseball and it landed three blocks away and through a car windshield.

He couldn’t touch anything. He wasn’t safe.

When his sister, Camilla, was an infant, Frankie would hold his small hands behind his back and peek into her crib. He was afraid of breaking her too.

His father owned a deli under the train tracks, Berardi’s Deli. Behind it was a dead patch of grass they called a backyard. And above it was a shoe box apartment they called a home. His father wore a stained apron as he sat on the sidewalk’s edge, smelling like fennel seed and sweat. He smoked a cigarette and watched the kids in the street play. Frankie, now a small boy with small hands, sat beside him.

“Pops, why can’t I play with them?” The boy asked, watching the kids play stickball. “I promise I’ll be good. I won’t hit so hard. Honest.”

His father gave him a side glance, taking a long drag and rubbing his stubbled chin. “Last time, you knocked a kid out.”

He looked down at his small hands, discouraged “I-I didn’t mean to, Pops, he was….”

“Your mother with have a heart attack if she finds out you hurt someone else with your…” Trailing off, he stood up and stomped his cigarette out. The few remaining embers in the curb fizzled into the cement. “Don’t let nobody see you doing that. You hear me?” He warned. Frankie’s eyes wandered to the window to the apartment above the deli, where his mother, with tired eyes, looked out.


“I don’t think it’s a good idea, Camilla.” He said, looking down at his feet as they walked home from high school one crisp autumn afternoon. His black hair fell into a perfect greased curl.

“Sure it is,” His sister grinned, holding her biology textbook in her arms. “You love baseball.”

“Watchin’ baseball, sure. Not playin’ it,” He shrugged, still unsure “Pop’s will be mad. And Ma’s gonna be in hysterics if she finds out.”

She nudged him with her elbow. Her long wool skirt matched her mint green sweater. “Come on, don’t worry about that stuff, Frankie, you’d be amazing and you know it.”

Frankie sighed, shoving his hands in his Letterman jacket. A chill blew between them. A police siren blared in the distance. The sun was setting, burning orange and gold.

“What if I hurt someone?”

“What if you only hit home runs?” She countered with a laugh.

“I’m serious, Camilla,” He grabbed her arm lightly, as if he was holding a feather. They stood on the street corner across from their family’s deli. “I can’t control this. Someone’s gonna get hurt.”

“You can control it. You don’t have to be scared. You’re strong… super strong, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You can do something good with it.” The sirens grew louder.

As they crossed the street, a car screeched around the corner, being tailed by red and blue flashing lights. A police chase. Frankie was in the middle of the street, frozen for a moment. Camilla screamed, pulling at his hand. “Frankie, move!” He wouldn’t budge. He didn’t want to be scared anymore. The car barreled towards him. He pushed his sister out of the way, and braced for impact, with an arched back and outstretched arms.

The car slammed into Frankie, metal crushed against his chest, pushing him back a couple of feet. His sneakers skid against the pavement. The vehicle was stopped completely, with three bewildered robbers wearing ski masks sitting inside. The next day, the headline in the newspaper dubbed him “The Brawn Man of Brooklyn”.


Hello Writer bees! I’ve been feeling gross this week. For the record, it’s not COVID. While I’ve been under the weather, the Mister and I have been on a nostalgia trip, revisiting shows and movies from our childhoods. High School Musical One and Two were involved. Since I love that nostalgia feeling, it seemed fitting to share this short story I wrote back in 2017. Back when I was a newbie writer. Hope you enjoy!

—Lady Jabberwocky

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5 Subgenres of Romance Fiction Explained

Hello Writer Bees, 

With Valentine’s Day only a few days away, let’s talk about the lovely subgenres of Romance Fiction.

Historical Romance

Rev up that time machine and travel back in time with a Historical Romance. As the name suggests, this love story takes place in the past, usually before 1950. Historical periods such as the Victorian era, Medieval Times, or the Roaring 1920s are examples of possible setting used in this romance subgenre. No matter the year, the time and place of a plot may impact a couple’s relationship. Rules of courtship and class can apply to characters and their relationships. When writing a historical romance, historical accuracy and research is crucial. Describing and understanding the clothing and culture of a time long ago will bring a certain era to life for your audience.

Paranormal Romance

Twilight

Love can be magical. And in a paranormal romance, it really is! In this romance subgenre, elements of fantasy, paranormal or sci-fi are at the core of the plot. Not necessarily restricted to magical creatures only, a Paranormal Romance could include any non-human creature, from ghosts, to fairies, to the ever-irresistible vampire. That being said, there’s an opportunity here to explore a human x non-human relationship, or a couple from different magical backgrounds. Truly, the possibilities are endless. Incorporating fantasy elements in a love story requires solid worldbuilding. If magic is real in that world, create a magic system and know who can use magic and how. If the story involves a non-human creature, what specific characteristics apply to that race?

Contemporary Romance

If you’re looking for a modern day happily ever after, perhaps a contemporary romance is more your speed. This romance subgenre focuses on current conventions and topics, for a more modern approach. Subject matter may include online dating, LGBTQ storylines and workplace romance. Main characters don’t fit the mold and may not live up to what’s considered attractive by society. Often times, the heroine is an independent woman with a career. This romance subgenre encompasses all shapes, sizes, colors and sexualities. When writing in this romance subgenre, remember that love isn’t perfect. Create characters with flaws and challenges and place them in realistic dating situations.

Erotic Romance

Fans Self GIFs | Tenor

Things can get steamy quickly in this romance subgenre. Erotic Romance centers around explicit, sexual interactions between lovers. It’s not total smut, but let’s just say vividly detailed sex is a major component of the plot. Relationships grow and develop through scenes of physical intimacy and intense chemistry. Often, characters are cliché and unrealistic, examples being a curvaceous cutie or six-packed hunk. If I’m honest, this is not my favorite genre. However, if I had to give a piece of writing advice, it’d be to focus on the character’s physicality, the way they move and how they interact with others. During intimate moments – not just sex scenes – be mindful of how body language is written. Readers want to feel swept away, and maybe a little turned on, when they read this kind of story.

Romantic Suspense 

Romance plus adventure equals an exciting romance subgenre. Romance suspense involves action, suspense and intrigue as the couple tackles situations like a murder mystery or criminal plot. In some stories, there is a threat on one person’s life and the other must act as protector. Or perhaps they protect each other. Characters that play well in this romance subgenre can be detectives, superheroes, members of law enforcement or even femme fatales. Regardless, in the end, the heroes form a strong romantic relationship, hopefully leading to a happily ever after or grand finale kiss. Whether there’s a mystery to solve, a villain to defeat, or a race against the clock. Romantic Suspense can be thrilling story for many readers.


Like this post? Then check out the 5 Subgenres of Mystery Fiction Explained.

What’s your favorite romance subgenre? Talk to me in the comments.

Stay safe and stay creative.

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

Follow Me on Twitter

5 Subgenres of Horror Fiction Explained

Hello Writer Bugs!

Since we are officially in spooky season, I wanted to dedicate a couple posts this month to horror writing. Horror fiction is intended to frighten the audience senseless. A lot of people love a good scare. As a genre, horror can come in a variety of shades of darkness. Today, I’m breaking down the most notable subgenres of horror fiction.


Gothic

See the source image

The gothic horror subgenre is a healthy mix of horror, mystery, death and a little romance. And some would say it’s the true beginning of horror fiction and the jumping off point for other horror subgenres that developed over time. The macabre takes takes center stage in this type of story. Setting plays a key role in gothic horror. The atmosphere must be dark and moody, usually taking place in a castle, religious abbey or haunting estate. The theme of death and love are prevalent in the plot. It’s a dreary, decaying world full of ominous omens and unexplainable events.

Example: The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Monster

See the source image

Let’s do the monster mash. A true classic in horror genre. Typically, the plot centers around a character(s) encountering a creature. Creatures of the night are either the result of scientific experiments, born from fantastical means, or simply urban legends come alive. Iconic monsters including – but not limited to – werewolves, vampires, mummies, zombies etc. An argument could be made the even gigantic monsters like Godzilla would be included in this horror subgenre. Sometimes in the narrative, there are underlying themes of duality, an internal conflict between good and evil. It’s an interesting battle to explore within characters. Is the monster really a monster at all?

Example: Dracula by Bram Stoker

Paranormal

See the source image

In the paranormal subgenre, it’s all about the fear of the unknown. Evil spirits, wicked witches and demonic entities wreck havoc and chaos in the lives of mere mortals. Ghosts, demons and haunted houses tend to fall under this category. Exorcisms – whether the holy kind or the high-tech ghostbuster kind – occur in paranormal horror. Similar to the Monster horror subgenre, antagonists can have supernatural abilities and there’s usually a struggle between good and evil. However, paranormal creatures are derived from mythical, other-worldly origins. And let’s be honest, the things that go bump in the night are often what scares us the most.

Example: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Killer

See the source image

A killer is on the loose! For this horror subgenre, the story focuses on a central killer. The main antagonist can be a supernatural entity or a natural born psycho. Whatever their reason, the killer’s sole mission is to annihilate anyone and everyone they deem a target. With elements of a thriller and/or crime plotline blended in, building suspense is crucial in this kind of story. You want the reader to feel like the killer is breathing down their necks and lurking around every corner. Will the killer be brought to justice in the end? That’s entirely up to the writer. In horror, no one is promised a happy ending.

Example: American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

Psychological

See the source image

Send readers into a living nightmare. Throw rationality out the door and turn the mundane into something terrifying. Characters in psychological horror have either fallen into madness or are trapped in extraordinary situations. Surreal imagery or bizarre visions experienced by the protagonist only add to the insanity. For this horror subgenre, the narrative would benefit from a tight viewpoint, not a multi-narrator piece. A single character’s internal conflict can be just as compelling than an external conflict, if written well. Phobias, paranoia and one’s deepest fears are explored in this type of plot. In psychological horror, there’s not overarching monster or antagonist, the real monster is the human mind itself.

Example: The Shining by Stephen King


Personally, I’m not a fan of excessive gore. However, as a mystery writer, I sometimes must describe a corpse or a crime scene, for the sake of the fictional investigation. A little bit of horror can go a long way in any genre.

What’s your favorite subgenre of horror fiction? And if you are a horror writer yourself, how would you categorize your story? Talk to me in the comments. As always, I love hearing from you.

Stay safe and stay creative.

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

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(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

How to Build Suspense In Any Genre

(This is a repost. Because this lady is on a mental health break. Thanks for understanding.)

Hello writer bugs!

Whether you are writing a mystery or a horror, or even a romance, suspense can be a total game changer in any kind of story. Here are some tips that will have your readers hanging on the edge of their seats in anticipation.

What is Suspense?

Dictionary definition:
A state or feeling of excited or anxious uncertainty about what may happen. A quality in a work of fiction that arouses excited expectation or uncertainty about what may happen.

Simply Put: The fear of the unknown. Keeping the reader guessing. Who is the true murderer? What’s in the haunted mansion down the lane? Building suspense means offering the reader a question that they feel they must learn the answer to. The trick is to prolong giving them that answer while maintaining their interest.

Now, let’s talk about techniques you can use to help build up suspense in your story.

Solid Villains and High Stakes

See the source image

A stirring tension and conflict can be crucial in any genre. Great antagonists who challenge the protagonist create that exciting conflict. Explore the villains motivations. Why has he set this evil plan in motion? What is his connection to the hero? Throw away the idea of a villain who only wants to rain on a parade for no good reason. Really flesh out the character and make them a worth opponent for the hero.

The stakes must be high. Whatever is at risk, whether it’s a loved one’s life or the world’s safety, needs to be important to the protagonist. So important that they will jump through any hoop the antagonist throws at them. And if they fail, they would be devastated.

Point of View

Focus on the character’s perspective. See the world through their eyes. Let the reader learn information as the character does. Narrowing the point of view is an excellent way to build tension. Unlike an all knowing, omniscient narrator, the character won’t know what’s around the corner and what will happen next. Consider who tells the story, and how the story gets told.

Think about it like this. Imagine shining a flashlight into a dark room. You only see the beam of light, and not the rest of the room. The freaking Frankenstein monster could be standing in the corner, and you wouldn’t even know. Gives me the chills just thinking about it.

Image result for flashlight shining in dark cartoon

Pacing and Ticking Clocks

Experiment with style a bit. Short, fragmented sentences give a feel of breathlessness. Brief pauses will add weight to a scene. Keep in mind about the pacing of the overall story. The longer answers stay hidden, the longer some readers will continue reading. But don’t hold out for too long, readers may loose interest. It’s all about leaving a trails of information breadcrumbs for them to follow.

The use of time is another way to build suspense. Everyone can relate to the feeling of time running out. Your MC should be working against the clock. That’s why scenarios like “You have 24 hours to find the girl” work so well. Will the hero make it in time? What will happen if time runs out?

See the source image

After a Dark and Stormy Night

Hope you guys use these techniques when adding some suspense to your next story. What’s your favorite moment of suspense in a book or film? When I think of suspense, I always think of the movie, Speed. Keanu Reeves and a bomb strapped to a bus? Classic suspense thriller.

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

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5 LGBTQIA Books to Read for Pride Month

Hey writer bees!

(This is a repost. I wanted to once again shine a spotlight on some wonderful literature celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community. – Victoria)

Diversity in storytelling is so important. Every kind of person should be represented and represented well. No matter the story, the characters need to feel realistic. That includes their sexuality and gender identity.

In honor of Pride Month, I’m sharing some colorful books that celebrate the LGBTQIA community.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Distant and exacting, Bruce Bechdel was an English teacher and director of the town funeral home, which Alison and her family referred to as the “Fun Home.” It was not until college that Alison, who had recently come out as a lesbian, discovered that her father was also gay. A few weeks after this revelation, he was dead, leaving a legacy of mystery for his daughter to resolve.

I’ve read this book, and let me tell you, it’s an outstanding story. Alison Bechdel is an exceptional and brave writer. Full of humor and heartbreak, I couldn’t recommend this graphic memoir any higher. You don’t have to be queer to feel touched by her life story. Seriously, Fun Home is a must-have in your book collection.

Amazon.com: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic eBook: Bechdel, Alison ...

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

On the first day at his new school, Leo Denton has one goal: to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in his class is definitely not part of that plan–especially because Leo is a trans guy and isn’t out at his new school.

Written in first person narrative, Lisa Williamson tells the story of two transgender students who are navigating their gender identity. Based on reviews, it’s a great exploration of what it means to be transgender today. This one is definitely on my To-Be-Read list!

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson - review | Children's ...

Prince and Knight – Daniel Haack (Author), Stevie Lewis (Illustrator)

In this modern fairy tale, a noble prince and a brave knight come together to defeat a terrible monster and in the process find true love in a most unexpected place.

Not every prince is looking for a fair maiden. If you want to introduce the youngsters in your life to inclusivity and the LGBTQ community, look no further than this charming children’s book. This fairytale is colorful and magical and incredibly sweet. Frankly, I might buy this book for my nephew, so he can learn about acceptance and love in all forms.

Prince & Knight (Mini Bee Board Books): Haack, Daniel, Lewis ...

Stonewall: The Definitive Story of the LGBTQ Rights Uprising that Changed America

On June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village, was raided by police. But instead of responding with the typical compliance the NYPD expected, patrons and a growing crowd decided to fight back. The five days of rioting that ensued changed forever the face of gay and lesbian life.

For all the history buffs out there, this is the book for you. A masterful, powerful retelling of the Stonewall Riots and the first gay rights march, written by historian Martin Duberman. With everything going on in the world right now, this piece of work is so relevant and on the pulse. Learning about our history is important, now more than ever.

Stonewall: The Definitive Story of the LGBT Rights Uprising that Changed America by [Martin B.  Duberman]

This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson

There’s a long-running joke that, after “coming out,” a lesbian, gay guy, bisexual, or trans person should receive a membership card and instruction manual. THIS IS THAT INSTRUCTION MANUAL. You’re welcome.

Lighthearted and informative, this is the unofficial guide to being gay and/or curious. Inside, there’s candid answers to any and all LGBTQ related questions. No matter your sexual preference, this book makes for a great gift and an even greater addition to your bookshelf.

This Book Is Gay by Juno Dawson, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

As writers, as readers, as humans, let’s expand our horizons and promote inclusivity in everything we do.

What’s your favorite LGBTQIA book? Lemme know in the comments.

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

Follow Me On Twitter

Scream For Ice Cream and Murder (Mystery Short Story)

Hello Writer Bugs!

For this post, I’m sharing my response to one of the mystery prompts of the week, describe a crime scene. Here’s a short story, featuring the detective duo from my WIP. Let’s go back to the scene of the crime.

Warning: This scene may be disturbing for some readers. Contains blood and a dead person.


I’m not going to sugarcoat this. There was too much blood for an ice cream parlor. No pun intended.

The cops needed an extra hand on this one. It was a curious case. And curious cases in Coney Island tend to fall under Mister Barnaby’s territory.

As the detective and I entered, the little bell by the door jingled. It was what you’d expect from your classic ice cream corner shop. Squeaky linoleum floor. Squeaky red barstools. Buckets of dairy. Cash register full of dough. Dusty chalkboard that listed all their sweet treats.

I checked out the menu. “15 cents for a sundae? The crooks. Though a chocolate cone does sound pretty good.”

Oscar, now is not the time.” He sighed, eyes inspecting the shattered front window, glass shards on the porch steps. Thick eyebrows pinched together on his wrinkled face. “Someone broke this from the inside, not the outside.”

“What’s that mean?” I shoved my hands in my pockets and took a guess. “Someone was locked in?”

His shoulders shrugged. “Perhaps to make it appear as though there was a break in. Our culprit is none too bright. The world is full of imbeciles.” Leaning on his walking stick, the detective teetered towards the bar. Behind the counter, a trail of blood drippings. A red handprint stamped on the doorway leading to the backroom. The temperature plummeted. In the cluttered storage, jars of sprinkles and candies lined the shelves.

“Didn’t Officer Lester say the body was back here?”

More splashes on red on the floor. A path of drippings led to the ice locker. Strange, the walk-in fridge was locked from the inside. Like something out of a locked room mystery we’d listen to on the radio. It took some fiddling, but eventually, I heaved the heavy vault open.

Between tubs of cream and cake boxes, a round man – Sal Pellegrini – slouched on a chair, with an ice pick lodged in his neck. “Jesus Christ,” My stomach twisted into a knot. “Yikes, right in the jugular. What happened to you, big guy?” Apron splattered with red and brown mess. Skin turned blue. Dark purple fingernails. Frost lingered on his thinning hair. He smelled like vanilla and death. In his left fist, a crumpled piece of paper. A recipe card. I handed it to the old man. “Any ideas on this one, boss?”

His eyes flicked back and forth, like he was reading something. “I remember this. Newspaper article published on September 29th, 1921. Mr. Pellegrini’s family recipe was deemed the best Strawberry Shortcake in New York.” He teetered closer to the body, a shaky grip on his walking stick. “Well, everything make perfect sense now.”

“It does?”

“Of course. It would seem someone tried to steal the famous cake recipe. When Mr. Pellegrini refused to hand it over, his attacker stabbed him in the parlor room.” The detective hummed, glancing around. “Somehow, he fled from his attacker, but was losing too much blood.”

“You got all that from a blood trail and a crumpled piece of paper?”

“Certainly.” He pointed to the brick wall that Mr. Pellegrini’s back was leaning against. “Move that one.”

A single brick disconnected from the wall. When I pulled the loose brick out of its place, we found a hiding spot of more recipe cards. Chocolate fudge, Vienna cake, Lemon sponge cake. Old recipes passed from generation from generation. “He locked himself in, to protect his family’s heirlooms, I’d imagine. Hid his prized possessions in plain sight. Quite impressive.”

“Or absolutely insane.”

“Regardless, a killer is still out there. There is more work left to be done.”

Mister Barnaby turned to leave the ice cream parlor. As always, I followed him, like a shadow. But not before I helped myself to a chocolate ice cream cone, with extra sprinkles.


This is the last post for May of Mystery. Thank you all so much for sticking around. Hope you all enjoyed!

Stay safe and keep writing.

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

Are S.S. Van Dine’s Rules for Writing Detective Stories Still Accurate?

Hello amateur sleuths!

Welcome to the start of May of Mystery, an entire month dedicated to mystery writing. Two years ago, I broke down Ronald Knox’ Rules of Mystery Writing. Surprisingly, he’s not the only author who has created rules for mysteries. In 1928, S.S. Van Dine published “Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories”.

Are these guidelines still relevant to today’s detective fiction? Or are they outdated? Let’s investigate, shall we?


1. The reader must have equal opportunity with the detective for solving the mystery. All clues must be plainly stated and described.

Absolutely. A mystery story is not only a tale for readers to enjoy, it’s also a puzzle for readers to solve. It’s a game. All the clues must be on the table. Both the sleuth and the audience must have equal opportunity to unravel the mystery in the end.

2. No willful tricks or deceptions may be placed on the reader other than those played legitimately by the criminal on the detective himself.

Red herrings and plot twists are one thing. Misinforming the readers intentionally is another. Readers are counting on you, the writer, to tell it to them straight. If the antagonist tricks the detective, they are tricking the audience as well, and that’s fine. Withholding information, lying to, or just messing with readers for laughs? That’s bad. It’s a disservice to the audience.

3. There must be no love interest. The business in hand is to bring a criminal to the bar of justice, not to bring a lovelorn couple to the hymeneal altar.

I disagree with this one. Stories can be multi-layered and fall under more than one genre. A love interest never killed nobody… Wait, let me rephrase that. Having a romance element mixed in with a mystery plot is not impossible and need not be discouraged. Heck, it could even add to the suspense of the plot, if done correctly. You don’t have to be chained to one genre. Balance is key. A love interest, or a spark of romance, in a murder mystery is fine, in my opinion.

4. The detective himself, or one of the official investigators, should never turn out to be the culprit. This is bald trickery, on a par with offering some one a bright penny for a five-dollar gold piece. It’s false pretenses.

True. The detective cannot be the culprit. That’s like saying the protagonist and the antagonist are the one in the same. That actually makes no sense. Like, where’s the conflict? He’s right, it is false pretenses.

5. The culprit must be determined by logical deductions — not by accident or coincidence or unmotivated confession. To solve a criminal problem in this latter fashion is like sending the reader on a deliberate wild-goose chase, and then telling him, after he has failed, that you had the object of his search up your sleeve all the time. Such an author is no better than a practical joker.

For a clue to accidently fall into the detective’s hands? Where’s the fun in that? Coincidence very rarely happens in an investigation. Sure, that may happen in cartoons, but that’s taking the easy way out. Think of real life investigators. I’m sure they’d love a murder weapon to just fall from the sky. Make sure the evidence is found by means of detection and deduction, not gift wrapped with a bow for the sleuth.

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6. The detective novel must have a detective in it; and a detective is not a detective unless he detects. His function is to gather clues that will eventually lead to the person who did the dirty work in the first chapter; and if the detective does not reach his conclusions through an analysis of those clues, he has no more solved his problem than the schoolboy who gets his answer out of the back of the arithmetic.

You need a detective in detective fiction? Shocker. Well, you don’t necessarily need a professional detective, an amateur sleuth or private investigator works too. I do agree though, whatever the main character’s job is, they do need to detect. No matter their profession, the protagonist must dissect clues and actively investigate the crime.

7. There simply must be a corpse in a detective novel, and the deader the corpse the better. No lesser crime than murder will suffice. Three hundred pages is far too much pother for a crime other than murder. After all, the reader’s trouble and expenditure of energy must be rewarded.

For a minute, can we just appreciate “the deader the corpse, the better” line? Pure gold.

In my opinion, this point shows its age. The central crime of a detective novel doesn’t have to be a murder. It usually is, but it doesn’t need to be. There are plenty of mysteries out there focused on a kidnapping or a robbery or another major crime. Those can be just as compelling as a murder mystery.

8. The problem of the crime must he solved by strictly naturalistic means. Such methods for learning the truth as slate-writing, ouija-boards, mind-reading, spiritualistic seances, crystal-gazing, and the like, are taboo. A reader has a chance when matching his wits with a rationalistic detective, but if he must compete with the world of spirits and go chasing about the fourth dimension of metaphysics, he is defeated ab initio.

I understand where he’s coming from with this one. In the real world, yes, a detective must find clues by rational means. However, if a mystery does dip its toe into other genres – say, fantasy or supernatural – them magical means could be plausible. But, for the most part, sleuths should be grounded in logic. Finding evidence in such a mystical way does cheat the audience a bit, unless a fantasy element is heavily present in the plot.

9. There must be but one detective — that is, but one protagonist of deduction — one deus ex machina. To bring the minds of three or four, or sometimes a gang of detectives to bear on a problem, is not only to disperse the interest and break the direct thread of logic, but to take an unfair advantage of the reader. If there is more than one detective the reader doesn’t know who his co-deductor is. It’s like making the reader run a race with a relay team.

Clearly, this man did not live long enough to see the animated wonder that is Scooby-Doo and Mystery Inc. You can have more than one detective on the case. Many great mysteries have dynamic duos or reliable Watson-types in them. Multiple characters can work together and share the glory of solving a case. A team of sleuths can share the spotlight, each member bringing something different from the investigation.

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10. The culprit must turn out to be a person who has played a more or less prominent part in the story — that is, a person with whom the reader is familiar and in whom he takes an interest.

Agreed. Don’t introduce the culprit halfway through the story. That’s cheating. The reader must have an opportunity to solve the case alongside the detective. The antagonist should appear in the beginning of the story and be actively involved in the plot, one way or another. Otherwise, you risk duping the audience, in an unfavorable way.

11. A servant must not be chosen by the author as the culprit. This is begging a noble question. It is a too easy solution. The culprit must be a decidedly worth-while person — one that wouldn’t ordinarily come under suspicion.

True enough. ‘The butler did it’ is a bit cliché. When you have a line-up of suspects, think about who, on the surface, looks least likely to commit the crime. That character might be the best choice for a compelling antagonist.

12. There must be but one culprit, no matter how many murders are committed. The culprit may, of course, have a minor helper or co-plotter; but the entire onus must rest on one pair of shoulders: the entire indignation of the reader must be permitted to concentrate on a single black nature.

Keep in mind, this list was written in 1928, Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express was published January, 1934. That being said, it is possible to have more than one culprit. Typically though, yes, there is a main criminal performing the crime in a given story. Someone has to be the bad guy, right?

13. Secret societies, camorras, mafias, et al., have no place in a detective story. A fascinating and truly beautiful murder is irremediably spoiled by any such wholesale culpability. To be sure, the murderer in a detective novel should be given a sporting chance; but it is going too far to grant him a secret society to fall back on. No high-class, self-respecting murderer would want such odds.

Personally, I’m not a fan of stories involving secret societies and mafias. At the start of any mystery, the suspects need to be on the same level of suspicion, the same playing field. And yes, if one of the suspects is a freaking crime boss or hit man for the mob, that does not bode well for the plot. It may even fall into the ‘too cliché’ category.

14. The method of murder, and the means of detecting it, must be be rational and scientific. That is to say, pseudo-science and purely imaginative and speculative devices are not to be tolerated in the roman policier. Once an author soars into the realm of fantasy, in the Jules Verne manner, he is outside the bounds of detective fiction, cavorting in the uncharted reaches of adventure. 

Again, I believe a mystery can dabble in other genres, even fantasy. In any world – real or otherwise – the murder must make logical sense. I do think the means of murder and detection must be realistic. When things feel too farfetched, readers will lose interest.

15. The truth of the problem must at all times be apparent — provided the reader is shrewd enough to see it. By this I mean that if the reader, after learning the explanation for the crime, should reread the book, he would see that the solution had, in a sense, been staring him in the face-that all the clues really pointed to the culprit — and that, if he had been as clever as the detective, he could have solved the mystery himself without going on to the final chapter. That the clever reader does often thus solve the problem goes without saying.

When it comes to evidence, you must be upfront with the audience. All the pieces of the puzzle have to be on the table. They don’t have to make a crystal clear picture, but all the relevant clues must be gathered before the ending. Remember, timing is everything. Be aware of when and how the reader and the detective learn the facts of a case.

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16. A detective novel should contain no long descriptive passages, no literary dallying with side-issues, no subtly worked-out character analyses, no “atmospheric” preoccupations. Such matters have no vital place in a record of crime and deduction. They hold up the action and introduce issues irrelevant to the main purpose, which is to state a problem, analyze it, and bring it to a successful conclusion. To be sure, there must be a sufficient descriptiveness and character delineation to give the novel verisimilitude.

Well, too much description can be boring. No one likes a word vomit. Details set the scene and paint a picture for the reader’s imagination. On the other hand, subplots can actually benefit the story as a whole. Also, flushed out character are important. Character must have depth and feel genuine if an audience is going to connect with them.

17. A professional criminal must never be shouldered with the guilt of a crime in a detective story. Crimes by housebreakers and bandits are the province of the police departments — not of authors and brilliant amateur detectives. A really fascinating crime is one committed by a pillar of a church, or a spinster noted for her charities. 

Basically, the culprit should be someone the audience least expects. That makes for an ever so satisfying plot twist. This relates to the point regarding mafias. If one suspect in the lineup is a rogue with a long crime record, that character being the killer may come across as predictable.

18. A crime in a detective story must never turn out to be an accident or a suicide. To end an odyssey of sleuthing with such an anti-climax is to hoodwink the trusting and kind-hearted reader.

What an anti-climatic ending that would be. All that investigating and clue hunting for nothing. An actual waste of time, for both the reader and the detective.

19. The motives for all crimes in detective stories should be personal. International plottings and war politics belong in a different category of fiction — in secret-service tales, for instance. But a murder story must be kept gemütlich, so to speak. It must reflect the reader’s everyday experiences, and give him a certain outlet for his own repressed desires and emotions.

Before you ask, gemütlich means pleasant and cheerful. I had to google it. Although, there’s not much cheerfulness in a detective story. Every suspect needs a solid motive. Whether those are personal means or not, that’s up for debate. Thinking about it now, I suppose people are driven to crime due to personal reasons. Make sure each suspect has a clear motive or carries an ounce of suspicion, like any one of them could have performed the crime.

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Last point is the lightening round!

20. And (to give my Credo an even score of items) I herewith list a few of the devices which no self-respecting detective story writer will now avail himself of. They have been employed too often, and are familiar to all true lovers of literary crime. To use them is a confession of the author’s ineptitude and lack of originality.

  • (a) Determining the identity of the culprit by comparing the butt of a cigarette left at the scene of the crime with the brand smoked by a suspect. With modern day investigation techniques, I’m sure this is possible.
  • (b) The bogus spiritualistic seance to frighten the culprit into giving himself away. Yeah, I don’t think that would work. No good.
  • (c) Forged fingerprints. On the fence with this one.
  • (d) The dummy-figure alibi. Sure, that’s probably fine, right?
  • (e) The dog that does not bark and thereby reveals the fact that the intruder is familiar. Love this! Saw it happen in an old noir film. Made me laugh. 10/10.
  • (f)The final pinning of the crime on a twin, or a relative who looks exactly like the suspected, but innocent, person. Evil twin trope, a classic.
  • (g) The hypodermic syringe and the knockout drops. Somewhat overdone in fiction, however, knockout drugs do exists. I’m on the fence with this one too.
  • (h) The commission of the murder in a locked room after the police have actually broken in. Has this guy never heard of a locked room mystery?
  • (i) The word association test for guilt. Not sure what this means, but I’ll take his word for it.
  • (j) The cipher, or code letter, which is eventually unraveled by the sleuth. Hate these. Nobody has time for that.

What do you think of Van Dine’s rules for writing detective stories? Do you agree or disagree with any of them? Talk about it in the comments.

Stay safe, keep writing and happy sleuthing!

Love,

Lady Jabberwocky