To be understood, don’t mince words

As writers, sometimes we try to think of the most eloquent way to convey a message. Sometimes, the most direct way is the best way.

I was at the supermarket with a friend who was a college English instructor. He was a person who usually spoke as though he taught English. He wanted to buy a freshly grilled chicken from the meat department. There were no foil bags on hand to keep the chicken warm. My friend asked the butcher, “Ain’t ya’ got no bags for these here chickens?”

The butcher grabbed a handful of foil-covered sacks and said, “Oh, sorry, we ran out. Here,” and he slipped the chicken into the foil bag and sealed it.

I said to my friend, “Ain’t ya’ got no bags?”

He shrugged and said, “I wanted attention. I got what I wanted.”

Life in the Moment

The poem below acknowledges the cycles of life and expresses deep appreciation for living life in the moment. In honor of Black History Month…


By Thompson, Clara Ann (1869-1949), Songs From the Wayside

I sat in the door of our cottage,
One golden autumn day,
And the breezes stirring the tree-tops,
Were as soft as those of May.

But looking away to the woodland,
Through hazy autumn air,
The red and gold of the forest leaves,
Proclaimed the frost-touch there.

The grass was still green in the pasture,
Where soft-eyed cattle trod,
And down in the deep, sheltered valleys,
Were asters and golden rod.

But I knew the merciless frost-king,
Would come with might, erelong,
And blast all the green things remaining,
And still the sweet bird-song.

So my heart drank in the warm beauty,
Of that soft autumn day,
With a wistful love for ev’rything,
So soon to pass away.

How Many Words in a Young Adult Novel?

I’m working on a young adult novel and the most publishable book length is a question I have been researching.   I will be posting on ‘optimal YA novel length’ for several days. I would love to hear what you have discovered, too, so please use my comments block to tell me about your experience with YA novel length.

One answer from Writers Digest is a simple spread:  55,000 – 69,999 words.
Resource: Word Count for Novels and Children’s Books: The Definitive Post: Chuck Sambuchino: October 24, 2012

My novel is historical, and I am wondering if the rules change for contemporary fiction including romance, or science fiction, or dystopian, or any other genre.

Answering self-doubt

“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”
― Vincent van Gogh
Writers, like painters, are often subject to self-doubt. An itty bitty self-doubt committee sits on your shoulder and whispers in your ear, “Who do you think you are?” Or, “You’re fooling yourself if you think anyone wants to read what you write.”
One way to answer the inner self-put-down-voice is to say, “Thank you for sharing, oh voice from within; now move along. I have writing to do.”
Then write.