Sunday, April 2, 2023

Novel Idea #2

For the second installment, this is probably best as a YA or children's book:

Using as many of the fairy tales you remember from childhood, write a story interweaving the stories into something that makes a logical whole world. Think of Shrek, only it doesn't have to be comedic, or too centered on nursery rhymes... remember, you don't have to make a whole series about it, though that worked well for several seasons, didn't it? Eh, Nick?

Feel free to go dark with this if you want to, turning the piece into horror, or selecting the more disturbing of Grimm's tales... whatever you choose to write about, even if you turn it into a modern crime novel, make it as realistic as you can, so that its fairy tale elements are woven into the fabric of the real world around us, but in surprising ways.

Or turn it into a poem, giving us enough clues so that we know who each person is, without your naming a single one of them. Let the glass slipper, the three bears, or the mirror tell us where we are and what you are drawing from.

Use the idea if you like, or leave it. I'll be back with more (let's hope I can keep this going through the whole month). 

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Novel Idea #1

It's been too long, but rather than apologize, for the next 30 days--the ENTIRE MONTH of April--I'm offering a gift: 

Each day I will post ONE idea for a story, novel, children's book, screenplay, or whatever. And the idea is for ANYBODY to use. Feel free to write a story of your own from the idea, or use it as inspiration for whatever you would like to work on... or just use it to help you kickstart your own writing. 

Novel Idea #1:

Multigenerational family has a genetic mutation--they are born capable of transforming into merpeople when young. If they do so before they hit puberty they develop the ability to change any time they get into water, but if they wait until adulthood, the transformation becomes blocked. 

After centuries of being snared as selkies or burned as witches, they decide normal is better, so for more than a century they have forbidden any swimming or water exposure for all of the children until they turn 15. Everyone has been normal for several generations now, but parents are taught of the curse so that they can keep the normal cycles going. 

Until one member, secretly angry with the world, invites all the cousins to his lake house for a week. And takes them out on a boat and tosses them into the water. 

There you go... if you aren't into mermaids or fantasy, that's cool. Just check back here tomorrow for more. And let me know if you come up with a writing from this. I'd love to read it!

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Color Blind

Just let me tell you what it means
To be color blind.
It doesn't mean you're blind

--You fool--

That you don't notice browner skin
The silken black of Indian hair
Or that you negate any conscious thought 
That someone different from you
Might just have to deal with shit
You don't.

--That is merely blind, you fool--

It means you notice all that is unique
The utter differences
The nappy hair, the cheekbones
Even how a person's speech
And fears, experiences, culture 
Are not like yours.

--In other words, you fool--

You choose--you truly choose
To love them as yourself
To see the value in the different
To know with all your heart
They have as much a right 
To life
To love
To peace
To happiness

As you.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Too Long between Posts

I really should be writing this on my Not Writing Anything Anymore Dammit blog,  but I've been just as lame updating that site as this one.

But this is going to change.

I have found--and I am not alone in this--that it is so very easy to get myself to work on my novels... and so very hard to get myself to work on anything else. Especially marketing.

It's my failing... but it has to end. The response to my book has been overwhelmingly positive, but the chances of its ever taking off and gaining a wide readership is slim to none if I don't market the book. Therefore, to fight my stupid reluctance to market the book (despite my desire to see it go places), I am making a list.

If you are a regular reader of my blog in the past, you know I am a lister. I make lists on a daily basis, and I am currently about to finish filling my fourth list book.

So here's my marketing list for JULY:

1. Make a list of potential agents using my current and prospective books.
2. Write some short stories (either for publication or contest or both) to get my name out there more and get more items published.
3. Set up at least three book signings or reading nights with local or state bookstores.
4. Build an author website.
5. Send out at least 5 agent queries.
6. Write on my blogs at least twice per week.

It's a short list, but it's one I've been ignoring for almost a year since my book came out, just like I've been ignoring my blogs. I know I'll still be revising the third Joshua book in the series, as well as working on the start of a manga version of book 1, but this stuff also needs attending to.

What tasks have you been avoiding? How might you add them to your list for July?

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Publication... at Last!

My book is coming out! My book is coming out!

Thanks to Black Rose Publishing, my first fantasy novel in a series is coming out August 9, and I am prepping to begin a book tour throughout the coming academic year (and beyond).

Given how many years I've been working on this series, I'm as surprised as anyone to finally have the book come out in final form. It turns out, too, that getting one's book published is both daunting and exciting, but I'll explain all that in a future post. (Hint: It mostly involves the meaning of the series, and how much I want the books to change our thinking, especially here in the United States.)

Here's the cover:

Cover art courtesy of Black Rose Publishing
The book comes out August 9, but it's already available for pre-order (10% off) through the publisher at their website:


If you'd like a signed copy, you can pre-order those, too. Just post me your e-mail, write me at shakespeare824 at, or find me on Facebook (Cheryl Carvajal), and we'll make that happen. If you want more details, you can read about it on the publisher's website, but you can also email me directly, and I'll share some details with you that way.

More information about the book to come... including a few excerpts... to stay tuned.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Audience... and My Stage Fright

As I teach in my college classes, every writing has an intended audience.

You may feel, as I sometimes do, that your writing is to weird or unfinished or crappy for anyone else but yourself, but eventually, if you are a writer, you intend for your writings to be read by someone.

And there lies the problem.

Who is our audience? Well, honestly, that depends on what we are writing, and why. I write in nearly every genre--essay, poetry, fiction (short and long), and drama (short and long). Each genre--and each work itself--has a different intended audience, and a different set of issues caused by the very audience I intend to reach.

My novels are all the culmination of a set of ideas, many months (no, years) of work, and painstaking revision and effort. I have literally (yes, I do know the meaning of this word and use it correctly) have revised my first novel nearly 30 times. My third novel was stopped and almost scrapped three times, and I've overhauled it, starting the novel over from scratch, changing the main character, changing the entire genre of novel, and changing POV and verb tense (which is really, really hard to revise, it turns out). Why all the work? Because I want my novels to read seamlessly, to satisfy readers without annoying them with too much detail, too little, events which are too stupid or too preachy or too unbelievable, without "too much" anything. Of course, I cannot truly know my audience, for so much of my personal preferences in reading come out, and I know other readers will never be exactly like me. Another problem is that I am my primary reader. I've read my books far more than anyone else has, mainly because I have shown them to so few people (mainly because they rarely feel finished).

With plays, I have a different audience entirely. I have to imagine all of the play in front of a live audience. Even more importantly, I have to imagine actors and directors taking my play and making something out of it, and create ways to help them do so easily (few sets, abbreviated action, logical shifts, etc.). After all, if a director doesn't feel the play is worth doing, and actors don't enjoy it, it won't be performed. But the final judge is still the audience, and I have to consider how I can place in the meaning of the piece (the whole reason I wrote it to begin with) into the work without losing the spontaneous feeling one should have watching stage action through a fourth wall. The largest difficulty with this is probably obvious: I can never know how a play, a particular scene, or even a line works until the play is in front of an audience, live, and my writing is already public. This is rather like a comic, who doesn't know if a joke works until it does--or doesn't--in front of a real audience.

With poetry, I usually write with an audience in mind, too, but, in my case, the audience is nearly always singular. Instead of writing from a particular POV (the way that Edgar Lee Masters wrote his Spoonriver Anthology), I write TO a particular person, someone in real life. Often I write to my husband, as I can prove with a huge list of sonnets and other love poems, but I also write to others, even a few people who have passed away. I send poems to people, but often I write them only for myself, with no intent to ever share them with anyone, including their intended audience. Poems are a way for me to clear my head of some issue, to get something proverbially (not literally) off my chest. I have several to my father, for instance, but they are more like letters I write, seal, but never mail.

If you write, you know, deep down, that you have an audience for your work, an audience beyond yourself. That is both a good thing and a bad thing. If you long for a huge audience of superfans who will love your work, your task may seem quite daunting, and any lukewarm response to your writings can feel like a knife to the heart. God forbid that a reader express distaste for your writing, or you might find yourself crushed for months. I am thicker skinned than many, but only to a point. It's the reason I keep revising and not submitting my work to anybody.

It's funny that I am writing about audience here, in my old blog, since only a handful of people even read this, and I rarely get more than a response or two, nearly all from my fantastic sister. (Thanks in advance, Stephanie!) Perhaps, however, if you happen upon this page, you will see that, in the end, I am still writing to myself most of all. I am writing to understand myself better, to work through ideas, to see what is holding me back.

I would love to know what you see holding you and your writing back. What fears do you have about your audience? Who do you believe your audience to be?

Until next time, keep writing...

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Hazards of the Unforeseen

I'd ask whether life has ever handed you something you did not expect, but it would be a stupid question. Unless you are Nostradamus, it's happened today... or at least this week. My life is filled with the unexpected.

Right now my existence is permeated with it. I had eye surgery, which, unexpectedly to me but not to the eye doctor, it seems, meant I could drive in a week but would have to read large print EVERYTHING for the next 4-6 months.

My kids, only one month into school, have proven they cannot properly handle their classes without my constant nagging and looking over their shoulder. So they are behind. Again. And I have to refocus them ALL DAY to help them get caught back up.

My house is in need of its final overhaul, remodeling the last remaining ugliness. Unfortunately, that involves ripping down wallpaper and refinishing spots on the wood floor. The wallpaper alone has been a beast--the dining room alone took me FIVE DAYS to tackle.

I could whine more, but I won't. I just use these unexpected events as an excuse most of the time. An excuse not to write.

Not productive, I know. You don't have to tell me. Just as I don't have to remind you about all the unforeseen hiccups in your life. So, my vision still a bit blurry, I rip down wallpaper until my fingernails disappear, spackle, stretch my aching shoulders, and wait for NaNoWriMo.

Yet my hope is unchanged. I WILL get this remodeling done. I WILL see fine within the next few months (already I can write this without enlarging it on the screen, and that is GREAT news!). I WILL find a way to make sure my kids stay caught up AND still have time for my own pursuits. I WILL get my priorities back the way I want them, and not the way I have to place them for now.

This will pass. This is temporary. I WILL start my agent search very soon...

As soon as I get the last of this damn wallpaper down.