New Story on WattPad!

Announcing a new story on WattPad–Rings of Saturn! Join Evie as she travels back in time in a race against the clock to try to save an entire city of people. This story updates on Fridays. Get started reading it today.

Writing Life

Where I Write

This guy looks about how stressed I’d be trying to write a short story or novel in public.

Where writers choose to work on their craft matters. I was in a Starbucks today, meeting someone to sell some crafting equipment. (I decided to stop crafting anything but stories and poems because everything else is just a distraction.) As I stood there, I observed people sitting and working on laptops and tablets. Most of them had headphones on. Most were tucked into some dark corner, ignoring everyone around them so they could concentrate. One guy was spread out over half the counter and glared at me when I sat down, like my mere presence was disruptive to his workspace.

I wondered why these people bothered to come to the coffee shop to work at all. Maybe their homes are noisy. Well, Starbucks was noisy–and with some construction going on outside, I hope their headphones were noise-cancelling. Maybe their homes are too distracting. But the comings and goings of a busy coffee shop would distract me.

There’ve been so many times people have suggested I go and work at a coffee shop, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. It’s not based on concern that I’ll seem pretentious–I don’t think I am pretentious and even if I seemed that way to others, it wouldn’t really affect me. It’s based on the fact that I don’t think I’d be as productive.

When I’m writing, especially fiction or poetry, any real-world distraction is detrimental to my focus, to my work. I’m usually searching my brain for the exact right word or playing out a scene in my head. The only place I can efficiently do this is closed up in my small bedroom. I go full-screen on my computer and ignore everything else if I really need to concentrate. For me, writing in public spaces is like inviting the public into my imagination while I try to sort out a story in there. It just doesn’t work for me.


Where do you write? If you’re not a writer, where do you work? If you work in an office, where would you prefer to work? Why?


Under the Golden Cross

“Didn’t you kill any Turks today?”

Joseph looked down at his tunic, white with a red cross. The other man, large and looming, wore a dark splatter across his. A badge. “I carry the golden cross. I’m no killer.”

At dawn, Joe rode into battle. Pulled from his horse, he dropped the cross and plunged his knife into his attacker’s neck. Red sprayed across Joe’s tunic, dripped onto the cross in golden sand.

This piece of historical micro-fiction takes place during the Crusades, a topic I’ve always been interested in writing about–but I need to do much more research before even imagining writing a novel set against the backdrop of those wars.


Indirect Dialogue


I’ve been playing around with indirect dialogue lately, and I think I’m in love. To be honest, I hardly ever used this in the past, but now that I am using it, I notice a few things:

  • My stories are smoother
  • I can spend time showing where it counts
  • I don’t feel like I’m writing a play

Using indirect dialogue is like coming up from being under water and taking a breath. But before I get into discussing how it helped me achieve these three differences, there’s one thing you absolutely have to know:

What is indirect dialogue?

If you already know the answer, great! You’ll want to read this anyway because I’m going to refer to the examples later. If you don’t, no worries–I’ll get you up to speed.

I’m sure you’re used to seeing direct dialogue in a book or story. Direct dialogue might read like this:

“Mom, I want to go see a movie with my friends,” she said.

“What time does it get out?” Mom asked.


“That’s past your curfew.”

“Please? All my friends are going and I just aced that math test.”

“Oh, alright.”

Direct dialogue happens on the page like your reader is in the room (or whatever setting you’ve selected).

Indirect dialogue is reported after the fact, with just enough information to inform the reader of what they need to know, like this:

Mom agreed I could stay out later than curfew to see the movie with my friends because I aced my math test.

Do you see the difference? Great! Let’s move on to how incorporating indirect dialogue helped me improve my fiction.

Smoother Stories

In the example above, the direct dialogue takes up six lines. The indirect dialogue only takes up two lines. This helps my fiction move at the pace I want instead of being forced to plod along in dialogue that only serves one purpose.

That’s the key to writing dialogue–writing it directly requires that it perform multiple functions. Not only does it need to inform (and hopefully engage) the reader, but it should reveal something about the characters: personalities, motivations, fears, etc.

Indirect dialogue doesn’t have to do all of that. It just has to inform the reader. If you have a bit of dialogue that exists only to offer the reader info they need, consider making it indirect.

Also, the story flows better visually. Large swaths of dialogue were just weighing my work down. Now I try to combine indirect and direct dialogue so that I can get in and out of quotes quickly, and back to the story.

Space to Show–Where I Need It

I’ve written about showing vs. telling before. Showing takes up more space than telling, and it slows the pace of a story.

Sometimes, that’s what you want–to slow things down. Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes you want to slow the story, but not with dialogue.

Using indirect dialogue instead of always relying on direct dialogue means you have the space to show where it counts. Remember: Showing doesn’t need to happen throughout the story. It needs to happen where it’s important.

My Novel Is Not a Play

Plays are wonderful. I love watching them performed on stage, I love reading them, I love acting them out on the loft in my house when no one’s around. But my novel is not a play.

I don’t want it to feel like a play when I’m writing it. If I’m including play written scenes like Kathryn Davis does in her eloquent and wonderful book, Versailles, then that’s one thing–but if I’m not, it shouldn’t write like a play and it shouldn’t read like a play.

There’s more to a play than dialogue of course, and I completely admire playwrights. I think it must be difficult to convey everything that’s going on in dialogue and stage direction and no freedom to break into exposition.


What’s your favorite passage that includes indirect dialogue? If you write, do you like to use it? Why? If you don’t like to use it, how come? Discuss in comments!

Writing Prompts

Writing Prompt: Historical Micro-Fiction


I love historical fiction, and micro-fiction is fun to write. So today’s writing prompt is to write a work of historical micro-fiction. You can pick any historical time period, any place, any event. But here’s the tricky part: Don’t exceed 75 words. Have fun!

Fiction, poetry

WattPad and FanStory

I’m new to using both of these sites that I’ve been meaning to use for a really long time. What can I say? Other things had to happen first. But I want to share with you that I’m now active on both.



This is where I’ll post serial fiction. Right now, I’m working on Pathogen, a story I’ve been meaning to write and share for a long time. While my main fiction focus is on historical literary works, what I post on WattPad will be just for fun, for us to enjoy together. Because of that, I’m sorry to say–I’ll only be posting about 1,000 words or so each month.

Even with that pace, we can unfold stories there together, writer and readers. I just published this month’s section, which I originally wrote years ago as part of my MA program–but I wanted to give it a once over before publishing it and now I finally had the opportunity. Look for the story to continue next month!

Start reading Pathogen today.


This is where I’ll post short fiction and poetry. My main goal here, in addition to connecting with other writers, is to participate in contests. I started posting yesterday, and FanStory only allows me to post two things each day, so there are only four right now. But here’s what you can read if you head over there today:

  • “Dept. of Reformation,” a pastiche of Jenny Offil’s book, Dept. of Speculation
  • “The Coach,” a short story told only in dialogue, no dialogue tags or quotation marks.
  • “In Memoriam J.G.M.,” a pastiche of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “In Memoriam A.H.H.”
  • “Land of the Gods,” a poem I wrote after the earthquake, tidal wave, and nuclear meltdown in Japan

Update: After a few days of use, I’ve decided not to participate on FanStory. I’ve removed the above listed posts and I will share them here next week, along with others I’d posted to that site. 


I welcome feedback on both of these sites, so if you’re a member, please feel free to share your thoughts on these and any other pieces I share. Happy reading!

polls, Writing Life


Dear writers,

I’ve always wanted to form some kind of writing community where hard-working writers can gather to improve their craft. If you’d be interested in that sort of thing–irrespective of any particular genre–please consider answering the brief questions below.

Thank you!