process, tips, writing, writing hack

Getting Started: Substitution Exercise

During my very first creative writing fiction workshop in college, my professor, Manuel Gonzales (The Regional Office is Under Attack!), gave us an exercise that, even to this day, whenever I’m stuck getting started with my writing, I use.

The exercise:

  • Choose a paragraph (a rather sizable one, preferably)
  • Copy it into a document
  • Begin substituting one grammar element (noun/verb/adjective, etc.) for another
  • Maintain punctuation and grammar

Continue reading “Getting Started: Substitution Exercise”

NaNoWriMo, process, tips, writing

The Labor of Getting Started

When the morning of July 1 rolled around and the start of Camp NaNoWriMo dawned, I would have preferred to find myself sat at a desk with my laptop open in front of me, hands on the keyboard, tapping away.

Instead, at 5:45 AM on Saturday, July 1, I hauled myself out of my Airbnb bed and dragged myself into my Airbnb shower and then carefully carried my two heavy pieces of luggage down two flights of my Airbnb stairs.  By 6:30 AM, I was sat, slightly sweaty, on a bench at the South Ealing Station waiting for the train to Heathrow Terminal 5 to pull in.  And by 10:30 AM, my plane was taxiing down the runway and a few minutes later, I was flying away from London and winging my way to my first of two layovers: Newark, New Jersey. Continue reading “The Labor of Getting Started”

craft essay, review, writing

The Paper Magician and Character Arcs: A Craft Essay


Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic… forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined — animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner — a practitioner of dark, flesh magic — invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.


***If you haven’t read this already and don’t want it spoiled for you, this post is not for you (yet)***
Continue reading “The Paper Magician and Character Arcs: A Craft Essay”