Tag Archives: writing workshop

Proud Colors (LGBTQ Flash Fiction)

Red. Red is the color of romance and passion and successful first dates. This red did not cut it. Need a darker shade of red. Like glass of chilled Merlot red. Like matching his football jersey red. Makeup remover to the rescue. I viciously wiped Ruby Explosion off my lips. What else is there? Tickled Pink. Burnt Berry. Cherry Pop will have to do.

Mascara gives me eye lashes like Ramona Ortega from down the street. That girl has ridiculously long eyelashes. And curvature like no other. I’m built like a tall can of beer. Light beer. The kind women pretend to enjoy at Super Bowl parties. Mascara can’t give me curves like her.

Eyeliner is a game. Playing connect the dots with you eyelids. I always manage to draw outside the lines. “Al,” My sister stands in the doorway, folding her arms across her chest. There’s a constellation of freckles scattered across her nose. A smile curls onto her lips. This week, Pepper dyed her hair purple. Purple. The color of childhood dinosaurs and artists on the brink of insanity. Moody purple is tied into a top knot. “Need help?”

My hands brace against the granite counter. Doubt is grey, if you look at it close enough. Grey creeps along the shell of my ear. “Be honest, Pep. Do I look like a clown?” I ask because a clown was definitely staring back at me in the mirror. What if baby deer eyelashes isn’t enough to win him over? What if cherry red lipstick isn’t enough to earn a goodnight kiss?

She stands beside me, offering a simple shake of her head. “Are we going for beautiful or handsome tonight?” She asks as she skillfully traces my eyelid with the pen. Like an artist at her canvas.

A laugh hiccups in my chest. “Both, if I’m lucky.”

“Good. Because you look like both,” Pepper straightens my jacket and runs her fingers through my hair. An encouraging, motherly touch that came from my sister. Stew together yellow, orange and gold and you’ll end up with a bowl of encouragement and pride. “He is gonna fall head over heels for you. I mean, he’d have to. You’re the only guy crazy enough to wear a full face of makeup to a roller skating rink.” She adds as she finishes a near perfect cat eye with a flourish.

I face off against my reflection and dust the nerves off my shoulder. The doorbell rings. A kaleidoscope rattles in my brain. He’s early. With a playful wink, she pats me on the shoulder.

“Go get ’em, Albert.”


To everyone celebrating Pride Month, this one’s for you.

– Lady Jabberwocky

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How to Choose a Read Worthy Book Title

Hello writer bees!

If there’s any silver lining to this chaotic time, it’s that writers are using their time to work on new projects. And with new projects comes a daunting task; Choosing the perfect title. It’s a huge question for any writer with a WIP. How do you create an interesting title that catches the readers attention and perfectly represents your story?

Today, I’m showing you what story elements can lead you to a read worthy title. Here are some ideas for where you can find the name of your book.

Character Inspired Titles

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If you have a character focused piece, pick a title that highlights the main character. Although it might be a simplistic option, a book named after a protagonist can be compelling to potential readers. And it doesn’t necessarily need to be the character’s name either. Think about the role the character plays in their world.

Examples

Setting Themed Titles

Consider naming the book after a prominent location featured in the story. Do the characters live in a specific town or residence? Or are they traveling to a certain destination? Settings transport the audience to a different time and place. Intrigue your readers with an invitation to a new world.

Examples

Memorable Line or Object

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Is the adventure centered around a coveted object? Or is there a sentence/phrase that sums up the entire novel? A memorable line or item featured in the story can become a great book title. Search through the text and find those stand out bits that you feel represent the entire novel well.

Examples

Bonus Tips for Book Titles

  • Represent the right genre: If you pick a title that sounds like a fantasy story but it’s really a murder mystery, reader will be confused. Choose a title that reflects the genre. Research book titles in your preferred genre before naming.
  • Understand the theme: What themes does the novel explore? Underlying themes can be transformed into thematic phrases. Theme inspired titles give a nod to the audience of what the story is about. (ex. Pride and Prejudice)
  • Look through bookshelf: Check out your bookshelf, or the shelves at a library or bookstore. As a reader, what kind of titles catch your attention? Novels from other writers may inspire a title for your own piece.

Bottom Line

When coming up with a book title, focus on the core elements of the story. A character, a setting or even a memorable line can become a read worthy title.

What is the title of your WIP/Novel and how did you choose it? What are some of your favorite book titles? Lemme know in the comments.

Stay safe and keep writing!

Lady Jabberwocky

Writing Services // Follow Me on Twitter

Pick-Me-Up Gift Ideas for Struggling Writers

Hello writer bees,

With all the chaos in the world, some of us have a lot to say, and creating art is a great outlet. Now more than ever, an ounce of kindness goes a long way. Sending a small gift to a loved one says you are thinking of them, that you support them, and that you encourage their writing endeavors during this complicated time. Whether you want to spoil yourself or another writer in your life, check out these ideas of uplifting gifts for writers.

Mugs, Glasses and Other Goblets of Victory

It goes without saying, but I think we all need a comforting drink right about now. As cheesy as it sounds, a cute mug won’t go to waste in a writer’s home. And why not add these adorable literary tea bags? If the writer is in the editing process, maybe sending them a spiffy wine glass would be best. No matter coffee drinker, a tea drinker or a adult beverage drinker, raise a glass to the writer in your life.

Desk Essentials

Yes, you might be stuck at your desk, but you want to feel content and creative in that space. Consider purchasing some cute decorations or some useful office supplies. Like these hilarious scented candles that may or may no cure writer’s block. Also, note cards with words of encouragement would be nice too. I have this typewriter pencil holder on my desk that I absolutely adore. And trust me, I go through sticky notes like there’s no tomorrow. A thoughtful token for someone’s workspace is like a friendly reminder that there are loved ones out there cheering you on.

Aspiring Author Apparel

Let’s be honest, who wants to write their story wearing slacks, or a tie, or high heels? That’s right, nobody. Hoodies, t-shirts and socks, oh my! Some really enjoy wearing comfy clothing with a literary flair. Consider sending a fellow writer a cozy sweater to show off their bookworm pride. Even comfortable pajamas will do. Wearing something warm and snuggly is like a long distance hug they’ll be sure to appreciate. And with social distancing, I think we all need a long distance hug right now.

Weapons Against Writer’s Block

Many writers are struggling with writer’s block during lockdown. Myself included. Help get those creative juices flowing again. I’ve seen quite a few items online that help with fun writing prompts and exercises. This Writer’s Toolbox looks so fun. Also, journals can be used to plan out plots, jot down ideas or keep a WIP on track. And if they don’t use them, that’s fine. Plenty of writers out there with a unused journal collection. You know who you are.

Buy More Books

Sometimes, all we want is to escape reality and curl up with a good book. If you or another writer read or write a specific genre, buy a book from that genre. Or share a book that you are reading that made you think of them. One of my favorites is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s G’Morning, G’Night: Little Pep Talks for Me and You. I open that book anytime I’m feeling blue.


While my blog may be a small platform, I still want to do my part in encouraging and supporting writers during this chaotic time. To anyone reading this, spread a little love to all the creatives out there. We’re in this together. Let’s fight negativity with creativity.

Stay safe and keep writing, writer bees!

– Lady Jabberwocky

Writer On: May Writing Goals (Recap)

Hello Writer Bees!

Did I reach my writing goals for May? Keep reading to find out!


Writing Plans

  • Write mystery/detective themed blog posts for the entire month. – Done! I’ve had a blast writing posts dedicated to sleuths and murder mysteries this month. And you guys seem to be loving it too, which makes me so happy. Be sure to check out all the posts from May of Mystery right here!
  • Give characters from WIP some TLC. – You know, it’s interesting to see my characters evolve the more I write and flush them out. I asked myself, “How do I make these characters feel more realistic?” Characters should be well rounded, with strengths and flaws and personalities. This is something I keep in mind as I write.
  • Try to write a little bit everyday. – I’ve actually been writing more lately, taking advantage of our time on lockdown. Feel like creative juices are flowing again after a serious drought, and it’s beautiful.

Reading Goals

  • Choose a new book to read for lockdown. – Still looking through my TBR books. I’m in the mood to read a story with NYC vibes. Recommendations anyone?
  • Read more blog posts from other writers. – In an effort to support other writers during this time, I’ve read, liked and followed a bunch of new blogs recently. Seriously, you guys are posting some amazing content! Connecting with other creators in the blogging and writing community has kept me afloat.

How did your writing endeavors for the month go? Talk to me in the comments!

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

Writing Services // Follow Me on Twitter

Get a Clue: The 3 Types of Evidence In Mysteries

Hello writer bugs!

What’s a whodunit without some hard hitting evidence? Clues in mysteries can lead the detective and the reader down either the right path or the wrong path. I’m breaking down the three types of clues a sleuth will find during their investigation.

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Physical Evidence

Probably the most likely of evidence, these are the tangible clues. The kind of evidence the detective can physically hold, feel and smell. And remember, this item can be planted to frame someone else.

Examples:

  • Forensic evidence – Hair, fingerprints, blood etc. If you are writing a historical mystery, research how detectives used science to solve cases during that time period. You’ll be surprised.
  • Personal items – This could be anything, from jewelry to hand written notes to photographs. Whatever the object, it connects the culprit to the scene of the crime or connects the killer to the victim.
  • Murder weapon – Possibly the most important piece of evidence in a case. A bloody knife or a smoking gun can tip the balance of any investigation. Really consider where the weapon is found. Was it found near the dead body or was it disposed of?

Thematic Evidence

Here’s where the creative in creative writing comes in. As writers, we often use subtle nuances as hints to the reader. Think about how the audience experiences the story, the surrounding atmosphere of a scene.

Examples:

  • Weather can set the vibe of a scene. Tense situations tend to happen during dark and stormy nights.
  • Villains, especially Femme Fatales, wear light colored clothing then gradually transitions to a darker appearance.
  • That “invisible” character that is just too quiet and too innocent. Like the shifty looking butler or maid ducking in the background. You know who I’m talking about.

Verbal Evidence

Sometimes, mysteries are simply a game of questions and answers. Not only is who said what important, but what is not being said too, meaning body language and social cues.

Examples:

  • Verbal – How do suspects answer the inspector’s questions? How do they talk about the victim or the crime itself? Consider the tone of their voice. Do they sound abrasive? Defensive? Anxious?
  • Secrets – Everyone has their secrets. Who is gossiping about who? What lies are being told? What happens when secrets get exposed?
  • Body language – This is the “show, don’t tell” rule comes into play. Instead of writing “He was acting nervous”, describe how the body moves when someone is nervous.

With all three types of clues mixed into the plot, you will definitely had one solid mystery on you hands. What’s your favorite detective story? Lemme know in the comments!

Keep writing and stay safe!

Lady Jabberwocky

Watson Who? Tips on Creating A Detective’s Sidekick

Holmes and Watson

Poirot and Hastings

Nick and Nora

These are just some of the iconic duos of detective fiction. Where would an inspector be without their trusted companion? Today, I’m talking about the detective’s partner in crime, the “Watson” of a story and what to consider when creating this character.

The Function of the Foil

Opposites attract, right? The purpose of a foil, or a foil character, is to highlight the traits of the main character. Their contrast in personality or appearance reflect and highlight the specific traits and quirks of a protagonist.

For example, if the detective is level-headed, maybe their sidekick is impulsive. If the detective is a total genius, maybe their companion is a bit oblivious. Play around with the duo’s personalities. You might find their differences make them even more compatible.

For the People

Not only does the sidekick serve their detective, they also serve the audience. Usually, the “Watson” is charged with narrating the story, and every step of the investigation. They pull information about the case from the inspector, or from their own observations, and present them to the reader.

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As a close ally, know the inspector well. Keep the detective human. When the main sleuth is hard to read, their companion acts as a bridge between a distant detective and the audience. Through their interactions with the sleuth, the partner keeps the detective human, and that is such an important role in a mystery plot.

Dynamic Duo

The heart of any mystery is the relationship between the inspector and his companion. Partners balance each other out. Let there be a solid comradery and playful banter. Readers want to see how these two characters play off one another. Oftentimes, the sidekick is there for the detective to bounce theories off of. Think about it, Watson is an extension of the detective’s thought process.

Are they roommates? Lovers? Acquaintances? Have fun with their relationship between the inspector and their companion. Readers want to root for a dynamic duo. Sure, they may not be on the same page all the time. During their sleuthing, morals and consciences will be tested. A little conflict between the two makes things interesting.

At the end of the day, a sleuth’s sidekick can be a valuable addition to a mystery story. Really consider the kind of partner your detective characters need by their side during an investigation.

Who are some of your favorite detective duos? Lemme know in the comments!

Stay safe and keep writing!

– Lady Jabberwocky

Writing Services // Follow Me on Twitter

5 Deadly Essentials to a Great Mystery

Hello writer bees!

Some folks think murder mysteries are complicated to write. And they’re right. Mysteries involved many moving pieces. But once you understand the core elements of a mystery, writing in that genre won’t be as intimidating as it would appear.

So, continuing with the May of Mystery theme, let’s go over the essentials to any great mystery.

The Right Hook

Pin on 2017 Halloween ideas
Note: This is a Halloween decoration idea from Pinterest. And it’s hilarious.

Right off the bat, the crime has to grab the reader’s attention. If you don’t have the audience’s interest from the start, they won’t be interested in how the mystery is resolved. Take it from someone who has changed the murder of my WIP murder mystery before. Whether it’s a murder, a kidnapping or a theft, the mystery itself should bring shock and intrigue to the audience. Really set the scene for the reader, give them every bit of detail, no matter how small or how gruesome.

The Investigator

When mystery is afoot, someone’s there to crack the case. A sleuth character is the heart and soul of this genre. The audience needs someone to follow and root for in this mystery.

Keep in mind, the protagonist does not have to be a bonafide detective. They can be a private detective, a member of law enforcement, or a regular joe who fell into the scene. And more than one person can be involved, like a detective duo (ex. Sherlock Holmes and Watson) or a team of sleuths (Scooby Doo and Mystery Inc.) Regardless, the protagonist(s) is invested in the investigation and is determined to uncover the truth.

Phryne Fisher Jack Robinson GIF - PhryneFisher JackRobinson Mmfm ...
One of my favorite detective duos 😉

Also, ask yourself, why is the detective compelled to solve the case? The protagonist’s motives are just as interesting as the antagonist’s motives.

Suspicious Suspects

For any kind of mystery, a line-up of suspicious characters is assembled. And hidden amongst them is the true culprit. Each suspect must be memorable and standout from the rest. For example, take the suspects from the Cluedo board game. All distinct in character and yet equal in motive and opportunity to commit the crime. If not differentiated, characters will bleed together and get easily mixed up by the reader.

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How many suspects should a mystery story have? Personally, I think 3 to 6 suspects is a good number. Too many suspects will overwhelm, too little is too easy. Also, consider how the suspects relate to one another. Are they enemies? Are they lovers? How do those relationships effect the victim?

Clues and Red Herrings

Both the detective and the reader need breadcrumbs to follow. All of the evidence of the case must be out in the open. There’s no holding out on clues in a proper mystery, or the audience will feel cheated. However, not every hint leads to the truth. Some clues, called Red Herrings, divert an investigation, taking the detective down a dead end (no pun intended).

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Keep track of all the clues presented. Jot down a list of clues as you scatter them throughout the story. When does this piece of evidence appear in the story? How does it connect to the overall plot?

A Satisfying Finale

Every murder mystery needs a grand finale. The big reveal, when all the clues come together and the culprit is discovered. Sure, there can be some plot twists, but a mystery writer must deliver a satisfying ending to the audience. This means the other suspects are given alibis, proving without a doubt, the identity of the antagonist. And every bit of evidence is explained in detail. No loose plot ends, all story lines must be resolved in the end.

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What are some of your favorite mysteries? Let me know in the comments.

Stay safe and keep writing!

– Lady Jabberwocky

Writing Services // Follow Me on Twitter

Femme Fatale: The Secrets Behind A Dangerous Woman

Hello writer bees!

Today is the first day of May Of Mystery, an entire month dedicated to mysteries and detective fiction.

Let’s start May of Mystery with sheer sexiness, shall we? Today, I’m breaking down the iconic femme fatale. Here’s everything you need to know about the dangerous women of mystery fiction and film noir.

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What is a Femme Fatale?

A French term meaning ‘fatal woman’, a Femme Fatale is a promiscuous, mysterious female archetype. This seductress is sexy and she knows it, bending others to her will with her charm and beauty. Oftentimes, her story line concludes with her demise, whether by imprisonment or death.

Key Characteristics of a Dangerous Woman

As a character trope, there are some trademark characteristics a femme fatale has. Here are just a few.

  • She is street smart and vastly intelligent. Her observation skills can read anyone like a book.
  • Driven by power, independence, or wealth. Will manipulate, and probably murder, anyone to get what she wants.
  • A queen of fashion. Bold lipstick. Dramatic makeup and hair. Light colored clothing that gradually shifts to darker clothing. She makes a statement when she enters the room.
  • She uses “feminine wiles” to her advantage. When she is in a relationship with someone or sleeps with them, there’s usually an ulterior motive. Always looks after their own self interest.
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Detectives and Femme Fatales

The relationship between a hard boiled detective and a femme fatale is an interesting dynamic. While the hero seeks justices in his cases, they end up trapped in the spider’s wed. At times, they share a tumultuous romance, full of conflict and passion, eventually ending in turmoil. Will the detective turn her in to law enforcement? Or will the dangerous dame corrupt the hero?

Femme Fatale’s in Literature

Want to see a man-eater in action? Check out these

  • Brigid O’Shaughnessy – The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
  • Cora Papadakis – The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
  • Carmen Sternwood – The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

Final Thoughts on Femme Fatales

Am I telling you to shove a cookie cutter version of this architype in your work? Not exactly. If you create a perfect copy of the traditional femme fatale, she may come off as stale and unrealistic, readers won’t be interested in her or the overall story.

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Writers are meant to reinvent overdone tropes sometimes. Let aspects of a femme fatale inspire your own complex characters. The world could use more bold, fierce female characters, right?


Who are your favorite femme fatales? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading the posts from last year’s May of Mystery, click right here.

Stay safe out there, writer bees!

– Lady Jabberwocky

Do Ronald Knox’s 1929 Rules on Detective Fiction Still Hold Up in 2020?

(With May Of Mystery right around the corner, I’ve decided to repost this article for last year. Enjoy!)

Hello my amateur sleuths!

Did you know that one famous author actually wrote rules for writing detective stories in the 1920’s?

Ronald Knox was a prominent figure in the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. As a mystery loving priest, he published the Ten Commandments on Detective Fiction. Are the rules still relevant or outdated? Let’s investigate, shall we?

1.The criminal must be someone mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to follow.

True enough. If the author introduces the real killer towards the end, readers will feel cheated. How can they suspect a character that came out of nowhere? The criminal needs to be introduced within the first couple chapters of the story. Also, the audience, usually, isn’t allowed to enter the thoughts of the murderer. Their inner workings should remain unknown to the audience, until the very end.

2. All supernatural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course.

Now, I disagree with this one, just a smidge. If done right, multiple genres can be featured in a single story. Maybe a sprinkle of supernatural could work in a murder mystery. It’s all about balance. As long as the integrity of the whodunit remains solid, other genres can join in. A little fantasy and magic never killed nobody.

3. Not more than one secret room or passage is allowable.

I mean, he has a point. A second secret passage won’t garner as much surprise as the first secret passage. One hidden room is enough. Don’t push your luck.

4. No hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end.

Fair enough, Mr. Knox. Basically, this rule applies to all made up devices. Hard to acquire poisons from foreign lands or complex inventions are far too unlikely plotwise. Using an unusual method cheats the readers from unraveling the mystery themselves. Remember, detective fiction is meant to challenge the reader mentally, like a puzzle.

5. No Chinaman must figure in the story.

No, we’re not talking about those of Chinese descent. The term ‘Chinamen’ refers to evil mastermind character, maniacal laugh included. Antagonists need real motives. Their reason for committing a crime must be plausible. No sinister villains are welcome in a detective story.

6. No accident must ever help the detective, nor must he ever have an unaccountable intuition which proves to be right.

Frankly, this rule reminds me of those classic Scooby Doo cartoon, where clues fall into their laps. As tempting as it sounds, coincidences, chance happenings and bizarre hunches are just too easy. Every clue must be discovered on purpose, with purpose. Don’t just hand over clues on a silver platter. Make your detective, and the reader, work for every scrap of information.

7. The detective must not himself commit the crime.

Where’s the fun in that? Listen to Knox, it’d be a disaster to have the detective be the culprit. Plus, you’re killing any chance for a sequel. No pun intended.

8. The detective must not light on any clues which are not instantly produced for the inspection of the reader.

For fairness, the detective and the reader must have equal opportunity to solve the case. However, the sleuth can keep some less obvious clues to himself. Just collecting the insignificant clues in his/her pocket until the big reveal. The reader knows every hint, but just isn’t sure how important each piece of information is.

9. The stupid friend of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal any thoughts which pass through his mind; his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader.

I object to this one. Although he wasn’t smarter than Holmes, I wouldn’t consider Watson an idiot. Seriously, Watson could pull his own weight. The sidekick can have brains too. Heck, they may even become as asset for a detective during an investigation. Instead of being slightly below the reader’s intelligence, why can’t a sidekick’s intelligence be slightly below the detective’s brainpower?

10. Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.

See, I feel like nowadays, audiences are thrilled by surprise doubles. Not all doubles or twin need a heads up in advance. (Side note: Have you guys been watching Cloak and Dagger? Talk about shocking doubles.)


Yes, all of these “commandments” have been broken in detective fiction before. However, some of these rules are still relevant by today’s standards. Murder mysteries are complicated games, whether you choose to take note of the rules or break them is up to you. You’re the writer.

What do you guys think of Knox’s rules from 1929? Do you think they still hold up to today’s whodunits? Let me know in the comments.

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

The Artist Who Paints Sunflowers (Flash Fiction)

My therapist told me, for once, write a happy story. What a writing prompt for a gloom and doom writer such as myself. A difficult task, I admit, what with all the death and tragedy and misfortune in the world. I sat at my writing desk, pouring a glass of whisky and pushing notes of cynicism aside. Like some Peter Pan, I instead grasped for blissful thoughts.

Then, I thought of Gertrude. A friend, you could say.

A twinkling lost soul in a lost generation. Worries never seem to stain her coat. I can’t recall where she lives, but wherever it is, summer is eternal. Her life is simple. Perched on her sunny balcony like an exotic parrot, she paints flowers at her wooden easel. Daisies, roses, poppies. Sunflowers are her favorite.

When Gertrude laughs, her head tilts back and expels champagne bubbles from her lungs. With Sinatra crooning through the speakers, she slow dances with lovers in the living room. She relishes even the most boring of dinner conversation. A nymph perfectly content with simply existing.

Every morning, she returns to that easel, a servant to the art. She makes love to colors on a blank canvas. Gold drips from her paintbrush. Satisfaction curves her lips into a smile. Leaning back with a mugful of coffee, she appreciates her painting. A sunflower smiles back at her.

Gertrude is fiction.

A mere wisp of delight on a page. Although I would not be surprised if some form of Gertrude walks the earth today, an artist who paints sunflowers on a light soaked balcony. Still, there is a joy that comes with flights of fiction, isn’t there?

Perhaps my therapist was right about these so-called happy stories.


The other day, I was talking to my boyfriend about what I should post for you all during quarantine, to help uplift other writers. He simply said “Write a story. People want to read happy stories right now, to take their mind off things.”

Thank you to my better half for inspiring this story.

Keep writing, writer bees, and stay safe.

– Lady Jabberwocky

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