Does every novel need conflict?



Short answer: Sure.

Reason: Keeps the story interesting. Makes the reader want to continue to find out the resolution.

This week, I had a couple days to sit down and dig deep into the crevices of my brain and plot out the scenes for the Flour City Blues sequel. With most of the ideas, I’m finding myself laughing out loud over the hilarity that is going to be happening throughout the story. Then, I came to a complete halt.

Where is the conflict?

Throughout this musically-enhanced joyride that this book is going to be, I found this to be my real-life conflict. Where am I going with everything? Am I going to let my characters off the hook easily or throw them a few curve balls?

Flour City Blues had plenty of conflict: the parents, girl troubles and a brief rift in friendship. It came extremely easy. With this book, I’m finding it a bit challenging.

Comedy aside, I’m sure I’ll come up with something.


Have you had issues with developing conflict in your writing? How did you resolve your own writing “conflict”?






Photo: Ove Töpfer via Free Images



The path to fictional writing enlightenment lies in Bluto


Oh baby, it is time! I’ve got the itch and it needs to be scratched! We’re talking about getting a move on the sequel to FLOUR CITY BLUES.

I don’t know what other authors do while they write—if they listen to music, have a particular spot to write, etc. For me, I gather my inspiration from classic pop culture and music.

I set up a soundtrack with my last book, and made references to Bill Murray movies (Stripes and Meatballs), because I developed this character—who for some reason—loves those classic SNL cast members (Murray, Chase, Belushi) and carries that type of juvenile, pervy humor with him well.

The soundtrack included the bands that the characters love. It consisted of doo-wop, garage and pop-punk. I listened my soundtrack well into the hours of the night, while I wrote. For me, music playing consistently helps me cut out any distractions and permits me to write for a few hours.

So the next book is going to pick up where the last left off. We have high school graduates! The story will continue as my lovely boys experience life after high school. College? What about the band? I don’t want to give anything away, but I will say one thing—two words:

Animal House.

Yes. Animal House. When I started talking about toying with the idea of writing a sequel I immediately thought of this movie. It is perfectly appropriate with nonsense, oozing with collegiate sexuality and you have your resident flunkie student, Bluto. It has been my go-to reference while jotting notes and ideas for the next book.

Toga! Toga! Toga!

And believe me, this is going to be a riot to write. I have some anecdotes and scene ideas scribbled out, and I found myself laughing so hard, I started coughing.

You know, those types of coughs where it really hurts and your eyes start watering…


Writers: How do you write? Do you set up a soundtrack or write in silence? Where do you get your inspiration? 


Let your novel consume you


So you want to write a book, but what is holding you back?

It’s going to suck.

I don’t have the time to write it.

It’s going to suck.

No one cares what I have to say.

It’s going to suck. 


Truth is, these thoughts will constantly be on your mind. Books only get written when you ignore all that mental chatter and fear.

So what else will get you through it?

Booze. Just like all those other gin-soaked “classic” authors.

Kidding. (Am I?)

Anyway, it is how you tell the story. Think about something you enjoy doing. Or someone. Or someone you enjoy doing.  (giggle)

It’s all how you see and describe things.

Take some time to free write. Describe what you see around you. Go to a cafe and people watch. Be as descriptive as possible. As you work on your writing, think about your story line. Do you feel as though you have something to share? Have a compelling plot in mind?

Even if you claim to not have the time, try to devote 15-30 minutes free writing or planning your idea.

If you come up with something, eventually your idea will consumer you and the time to write will just appear. The more motivated you are, the more you will find your self accessible to work on your new craft, because the only thing that is going to suck is keeping that idea to yourself.

“Love what you do and do what you love. Don’t listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. You do what you want, what you love. Imagination should be the center of your life.”

-Ray Bradbury

Photo: We Heart It

How to get over the “I don’t give a shit about today” feels


The hard thing with having a business is that sometimes you may have a day (or few) where you just want to call it quits, throw in the towel and run away–for a day, week or forever. You work long hours and people expect you to be available and devoted to the baby of a business you conceived, cultivated and raised. When you want to want to get away from it all, it seems like a shock to the outside world with one unanimous exclamation, “BUT I THOUGHT YOU LOVE WHAT YOU DO!”

Well, yeah. That’s why people start businesses and work for themselves. But like everyone else, you get a little burnt out. You get in these funks when you wear the same pants for a week and face the day with a hairstyle that is half sticking up and half pillow-matted.

Or maybe that’s me.


Oh you too?

Good. I’m not alone.

So if you do slither out of bed, slap the keys on the phone to shut off the annoying alarm sound and shuffle off to work, how do you get through the day?

You can trick yourself, or create a little game revolving around lists. If you make lists, you can manipulate them to motivate yourself to get working, especially when you need to make deadlines.

You see, those ruts that we may end up getting ourselves into could be because we have too much going on and we don’t know how to tackle everything. Now, go ahead and start on those lists. What needs to be done like, yesterday and what can be held off for a week or so?

This is where my OCD tendencies really shine. I’m obsessed with lists and I constantly offer up the game of tricking myself to complete tasks. I have paper lists, and try to scribble into oblivion each one as they are completed. My paper lists tend to be at my side, usually with immediate or daily tasks. I experience a weird thrill with each scribble.

For my long term tasks, I fell in love with the Springpad app. I downloaded it to my iPad as I basically run everything I do off of that. I have lists made up for blogging, book ideas and goals. It definitely helps as a place to rein in ideas to get to when I have the space to do so.

What about you? Do you use lists as a management to get your tasks done?

What tricks have you come up with to get yourself out of a work rut?


Photo from happyillusion on Instagram


How do you feel when you’re not inspired?


There are days when your brain feels a little empty. As a creative, it is a horrible feeling to not feel inspired. It is a blank, stagnant feeling where time can be spent working on something new.

Writer’s block or lack of a creative burst of inspiration can either be a sneaky little force at work that is preventing any progress, or the simplest explanation is that you’ve completely run out of fuel.


When you’re uninspired, you may have reached a point where you need to fill up at the inspiration station (yeah, I totally went with that), however you see it fit to gain momentum. That empty feeling may be spiritually and emotionally, as you already poured heart and soul into everything that has been created up until this current stop.

There are a couple ways to deal with feeling uninspired:

1) If those environmental forces are at work (any distractions, feeling lazy, tired, etc.), take a deep breath and try to crank out your best. There could always be time later on for edits or changes. Sometimes, just a impulsive go at something may result in a real gem of work if you actually sat down fully prepared and inspired.

2) If you’re feeling empty, don’t expect yourself to sit and wait for the write words to start flowing out. Take a walk, catch a movie, listen to music. Do something that gets you active. Emptiness could also happen when we’ve worked ourselves to far and have reached the point where you really do need a break.

(If you absolutely need to make a deadline, I do find freewriting or doodling spurts help spark a little inspiration. It doesn’t fill the tank completely, but it may help get some tasks done.)

So, what do you do when you’re not feeling inspired?

Photo by Ralph Nardell

What lights your creative fire?


During my Friday night Target stroll, I meandered over to the books and magazines, spending a good deal of time scanning the latest. There aren’t many bookstores in the area, save for the massive Barnes & Noble* which is out of my way, so I pace around the approximate two-and-a-half aisles of books at Target.

*Remind me to find time to visit B&N. This gal need a bookstore afternoon STAT.

Suddenly, there’s about ten titles I want to buy at THAT MOMENT and an additional ten more ideas for future books. I broke out my phone and started typing out ideas to save for later, since I have the tendency to forget golden ideas as soon as I walk away.

(Believe me, there are a few good ideas I let flutter away in the wind and for the life of me, I cannot retrieve them. RIP good ideas.)

Target’s book aisles sure got my (creative) fire going. In my currently busy life, I don’t give myself the luxury of stopping and
observing my surroundings, so there was definitely some sort of subconscious force at work that told me that I needed to take a looky
loo. That reenergized feeling was refreshing and reprogrammed my brain to re-evaluate what I should/could be working on.

That was my Friday night excitement.

Has anything popped out at you at a random moment and totally lit up your creative fire?

Photo via Flickr

So I’m going to write the FLOUR CITY BLUES sequel…


This past Wednesday, during a lull at the shop between cleaning up the
kitchen and customers, my brother asked me what I was planning to
write next.

So I tossed him my ideas, including one that may be an offshoot of
FLOUR CITY BLUES. This one I wanted to start writing is actually set a
few years after the actual time setting of FCB. So he looked at me and

“Your next book should just be the sequel to FLOUR CITY BLUES.”

He listed his reasons why, I listened and could see his point. I left
FCB open to have a sequel written, and planned to write a sequel
eventually down the line, I just don’t know exactly where I wanted to
take it.

Over Starbucks espresso the next morning, as we had time to kill
before heading to the shop, so we tossed some ideas around for the
plot. As a big fan of my first book, it is great to see my brother as
my biggest supporter and someone anxious to see what is in store for
my characters. Expect more hilarity, raunch and plenty of Animal
House-inspired antics.


Photo from Stock Exchange