Wednesday, September 28, 2022

No Sleep Tonight

 Sleep d.e.p.r.i.v.a.t.i.o.n.

A by product of insomnia which I suffer sometimes. And when I am in the depths of sleep dep if I have a symptom of any kind I generally think - could this be caused by sleep deprivation? Most of the time the answer is YES. Shortness of Breath - Yes, Weight gain - Yes, Depression - Yes. 

These symptoms and many more are what moves me from my natural state of avoidance of all pharmaceuticals to an unnatural for me state of - yes I am willing to take that little white pill on a regular basis.

Of course, not tonight. I am working my job so I am extremely sleepy.

I was thinking about those scheduled maintenance things. You know, when an electronic device allows you to set it up in advance to do regularly scheduled maintenance or updates.

Why can't my body be like that? If I could program regular sleep times and then automatically shut down at that time only to restart eight hours later. 


Not to be, though.

One thing that is making me sleepy is I have spent the last four days in a rewrite of my novel: Hungry Ghosts. I am happy to say that it is now ready to go to an editor.

Next task - find an editor.

Meanwhile I leave you with this lively fun song from The Faders titled: No Sleep Tonight

Originally released 3/21/2005.


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Complicated Processes

 One would think with the ongoing challenges I have finishing out a novel plot that I am not a storyteller. Here’s how I know I am, in fact, a natural storyteller.

 My grandchildren (now over eighteen) were homeschooled. Their mother, who had a degree as a schoolteacher, was their teacher and principal. I was in charge of extracurricular activities.

 Amongst those activities were frequent trips to the library.

 My grandson, Jayden, and I were standing at the counter checking out books. The librarian asked me a question (sorry, I don’t remember the question) and I immediately launched into a story.

 When I finished Jay asked me, “Washers”, (I will explain the name later), “why do you always tell stories instead of answering questions?”

 He wasn’t irritated or judging me. He was genuinely curious.

 Which got me to thinking – is he right? Do I tell stories all the time?

 Upon reflection – I do. Stories seem to be at the core of my being. Who knew?

 The whole thing reminded me of Salman Rushdie’s magical realism novel “Haroun and the Sea of Stories” in which bits of stories are given out and merged into new stories by a ‘Process To Complicated To Explain’. P2C2E gets messed up and Haroun, the boy hero, is swept up in an adventure to fix / save it.

 I was lucky enough to get a book on tape of the novel which was read by Rushdie himself and it was mesmerizing.

 Rushdie is an interesting story. Not sure if he still does but for years he had a bounty on his head from the Iranian government because his book Satanic Verses was labeled blasphemous. I’ve heard of banning books but…

 Someone once remarked with envy that Rushdie managed to meet and marry his mate while in hiding on the run from a government trying to kill him and the person speaking couldn’t even get a date.

 Of course, the same could be said of novel writing. Rushdie wrote Haroun and the Sea of Stories after he was targeted for his previous book Satanic Verses. I can’t even focus on finishing one novel even though my life is a bowl of cherries comparatively.

 In summation – I, Washers, am a compulsive storyteller. And my grandchildren call me Washers because I had been away for nine months or so working in San Diego and when I came to Kentucky for a visit my then three-year-old granddaughter, Katyna, opened the door and came running to me yelling “Washers, Washers.” No one knows why including grown Kat. But since she called me that, when Jay came along he also called me that. And it stuck.

UPDATE ON RUSHDIE: The dear man of 75 years thought he was safe now and went back out into the world. He was stabbed repeatedly before starting a lecture. He is apparently alive and kicking, thank goodness. Religious zealots strike again.


Wednesday, September 14, 2022



It will be a while before the protagonists, Claudia and Sagan, from my current WIP have sex. So why am I inspired to create a post about writing sex scenes now? 

I reread MJ Rose novel “The Book Of Lost Fragrances” and I was impressed with the intimate scene between Jac (female) and Griffin. That led to me switching from reader to writer and breaking down why I liked it. Which led to me generally examining what I like and don’t like in terms of sex in books.

Side note: If you aren’t familiar with M J Rose I highly recommend her. Her genre is suspense that verges on romantic suspense. This novel ends in HFN (happily for now) not HEA so it can’t technically be considered romance.

What elements in the encounter between Jac and Griffin give me reading pleasure? It is from Jac’s point of view and we hear her feelings throughout the act. She is resistant to having sex with Griffin because he previously broke her heart. M J Rose writes of Jac’s body betraying her resistance because she was once addicted to his smell and sense memory leads her to seduce him. Her sense of smell is engaged in another way also:

 “No one she’d been with other than Griffin had urged her body to give off that particular aroma.”

 The book is about lost fragrances so lends itself to describing the aromatics of everything. But Rose actually engages all of the senses.  

 Jennifer Crusie has many memorable sex scenes. One of my favorites occurs in “Faking It” when Davy discovers that Tilda is ‘bent’ thus freeing her from the need to keep secrets from him. They then have amazing, uninhibited sex. Along the way Tilda insists that Davy ‘con’ her.

 Previously Tilda overheard Davy enumerate the steps to conning someone. First get the mark to smile and second to say yes.

 “He kissed her on the neck and then bit her softly where he kissed her, and she caught her breath. “More?” he whispered, and she said, “Yes”.

 Third step make her feel superior. He compliments her on how she has played him up to that point.

 The fourth step is to ask for what you want while making the mark think you are doing them a favor. I’m not going to spoiler by giving you details – but step four is pure Crusie entertaining genius.

 In her book “A Gift Of Ghosts” author Sarah Wynde writes a clever, amusing scene where female protagonist Akira seduces male love interest Zane. She’s a physicist and they are in Zane’s office talking about playing games.

 “Oh, yeah? What other games do physicists like?”…


She talks about the inadequacy of chemistry to describe sex because sex is about movement and friction and that is physics.

The scene is playful and fun and sweet.

I will briefly mention that if you enjoy magical realism like I do – in Sarah Addison Allen’s novel “Garden Spells” the scene where Claire and Tyler finally get together under the magical apple tree is electric and enchanting.

I could name you several other authors who write memorable sex scenes but this blogpost would become a book.

No discussion of sex scenes would be complete however without addressing the phenomena that romance writers refer to as the ‘glittery hooha’.

GHH is used to justify events where, even if he hardly knows a female main character, or she is dumb as a post, a male main character will be her hero just to get with her because she is walking around leaving a trail of glitter flowing out of her vagina.

See to further explore this curiosity.

In summary, I prefer clever, fun seduction and playful sex situations. Slide part a into tab b or erect throbbing members springing free or fingers dripping with female honey are not my forte as a writer and I tend to skip such passages as a reader.

I don’t have any moral issues with graphic sex. I just find it boring to read and tedious to write.

If you enjoy that type of material, I recommend KristenAshley. All of her books, and she is very prolific, are filled with the gory details that I leave off the page. And yet, I read her enthusiastically. I skip over what I don’t enjoy because she is an excellent writer. Her characters are lovable, quirky, independent, strong women and, of course, alpha men getting away with things that would never be tolerated in real life boyfriends. She is also very adept at plotting and storytelling.

We’ve talked about sex but we haven’t talked about candy. Let me say this – when Claudia and Sagan venture beyond kissing, there will be candy.

Enough said.


Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Comfort Rereading

It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I’m a fan of Jennifer Cruise. My fan status for her includes not just her twenty+ best-selling books but also her blog:

 A regular feature of arghink for years, has been Good Book Thursday. Every Thursday, Cruise fans read the blogpost and comment with what they have been reading. Comments usually include what they thought of what they read and whether they recommend it or not.

 Good Book Thursday adds to my tbr (to be read) pile every week.

Shortly after covid came on the scene, a new trend in reading started – rereading. It was very noticeable in the comments on Crusies blog. Everyone was re-reading books they loved for comfort.

I was, and to an extent, still am, part of that trend. I’ve asked myself why.

For me it’s because I was, am, at the top of my stress level functioning within the new normal. I don’t want the added stress of being bruised by what I’m reading.

Amongst re-readers, content or genre differ person to person. There are those who find comfort in very suspenseful books, even horror stories. Shout out to Stephen King.

Not me.

I am comforted by HEA (happily ever after) or HFN (happily for now) books. I read a lot of romance novels.

There are certain writers whose books will always be comfort re-reads for me. I can also relax when those same authors offer new books. I trust them not to bruise me by abusing the characters they make me like or love within their stories.

Yes, yes, you must throw all kinds of conflict at your characters. But Diana Gabaldon, for example, would never be a comfort read for me. I think I know part of her process in writing. She says to herself: last book I had Jamie anally raped so this book it needs to be Claire.

Later for that. Someone please find her an editor who knows how to say no – you did that already, ad nauseum.

I digress.

Authors who are on my list to automatically buy and to read over again many times have certain things in common.

A voice I enjoy is probably the biggest thing. No matter how many times I read a Sarah Addison Allen book (like Garden Spells) I am newly struck dumb by how mesmerized I am with her wordsmithing. She consistently writes sentences or passages that lead me to say – “That’s so beautiful. Why didn’t I write that?” She has a new book coming out, Other Birds, and I’m excited because I know I will love it. She never fails me!

Another thing for me is novels that are dialogue driven. For me, Jennifer Cruise is the queen of snarky dialogue and the master of driving her plots with dialogue. We also seem to have the same sense of humor. In Faking It the heroine and her love interest meet hiding in a closet while burgling someone’s house (with good reason, of course).

Others who are on the list of authors whose books I will buy as soon as they come out and re-read many times are Susan Elizabeth Phillips (SEP), Jayne Anne Krentz (aka JAK, Jayne Castle & Amanda Quick), Kristen Ashely, Rachel Gibson, Sarah Wynde, Aurora Rose Reynolds, etc, etc, etc.

In some writing circles epilogues are a no-no. SEP always writes an epilogue and I’m glad she does. There have been times when the world was kicking me around and I’ve picked myself up easier by re-reading epilogues from her books. I dare you to read the epilogue from ‘Heroes Are My Weakness’ without smiling.

JAK writing as Jayne Castle gives her heroines dust bunnies for pets. Each dust bunny is unique in its quirks but similar in its protective qualities; a second set of eyes in the back of its head and a fierce growl that only appear when there is danger afoot.

Comfort reading and re-reading may be a trend that ends for some when they learn how to navigate the new normal, but I will always have some measure of this in my life.

Thursday, September 1, 2022


“Vision precedes reality.” Jayne Ann Krentz (said by a character in the novel ‘Amaryllis’) 

I want to be more like romance novelist Jayne Ann Krentz. 

Common wisdom says don’t compare yourself to others. I call bullshit. I think sometimes others can show you the potential you aren’t realizing. 

JAK does this in 2 areas for me. First, she’s incredibly prolific. She writes under 3 psuedonyms: Amanda Quick historicals; Jayne Castle futuristics; Jayne Ann Krentz contemporaries. 

She’s been accused of writing from a formula. Having read every word she’s written, in my opinion, she has several formulas and ALL of them produce good books. 

She’s proof of what happens when one sits down and puts their fingers on the keyboard and writes. Daily. For hours. I want more of whatever it takes to do this. 

The second area she shows me where I don’t live up to my potential is harder to explain. I’ve read some of the most profound truths in fiction. When characters in novels say things like “vision precedes reality” it’s better than non-fiction.

 I know I’m capable of writing like this. Again with the sitting…with the fingers on the keyboard – this time adding an engaged, active imagination.

 I want to be more like romance novelist Sarah Addison Allen.

 I can’t quote every word of her book ‘Garden Spells’ but I would if I could because they’re compelling. The genre is romantic magical realism but it’s beyond that. The main characters have magical quirks that form community and arc to fit together like pieces in a puzzle. And the apple tree in the backyard is one of the main characters.

 I know I can write like this. I started a magical realism genre trilogy. I still have pages on a jump drive somewhere. The guts of the story were all outlined in a red sketchbook that I was using to make notes about works in progress and ideas for other writing projects. UNTIL. I was on an Amtrak train and there was an idiot who locked himself in the bathroom with a gun. Everyone had to flee the train, leaving their belongings behind. I should’ve brought the sketchbook with me. We never made it back on that particular train and my efforts to locate the lost sketchbook were futile.

 I could have reproduced most of the background for the trilogy if I had made efforts at the time. Now it would be starting from scratch. Maybe someday.

 I want to be more like romance novelist Jenny Crusie. She’s written 20 best-selling novels and in the next 2 years she will be releasing 4 more. And all of them have snappy, snarky, dialogue-driven plots.

 From Agnes and the Hitman:

 Agnes: “Who is Carpenter?”

Shane: “He’s a man of many talents.” He looked up at her, and she remembered she was naked. “You might want to get dressed. He’ll be here in twenty minutes.”

“Is he going to try to kill me?”


“Already I like him,” Agnes said, and went into the bedroom.

 I’m not going to say I can write like this. I can write the dialogue. I can drive the plot with it. What I can’t do is what Crusie and Addison Allen are masters at. I can’t treat a book like a thousand-piece puzzle that all fits together and makes a beautiful picture in the end.

 But I’m confident that I could learn to do that.

 What I want is more time to write.

 So the question is: why do I waste the time I have doing other things?

 “Vision precedes reality.” I want my circumstances to lend themselves to my finishing novels and chapbooks. When I try to visualize what that reality would look like, though, no clear picture forms.

 Brilliant idea: I need to make a vision collage. Should I make it online? Should I do a cut and paste on poster board collage? Where would I get magazines with pictures to cut out?

 Snap – another reason why I don’t write more: I’m easily distracted like those dogs in the movie Up anytime there’s a squirrel.

 That was a great movie. Maybe I should watch it one more time.