Hiatus for a Companion Animal

hiatus, noun: pause, interruption

via Thesaurus.com.

Indeed, I am on a hiatus for the moment as I attempt to get myself together after a long previous month of NaNoWriMo and having to say goodbye to my beloved dog, Morticia, who has terminal cancer that we’re watching carefully. Please bear with me, and I will return soon. Possibly even next week. It’s all going to depend on what’s going on with our sweet Morticia, who is still with us at the time of this writing.

Breaks are necessary for good mental health. I hope you are all doing well and taking the necessary pauses you need to be well, too.

In the meantime, why not browse my about page to keep you entertained?

The Writer’s World v. The Real World or: Suspension of Disbelief

I read a lot of fun and funny articles written by virologists, engineers, physicians, firearms instructors, and others in STEM careers who like to educate on real science versus what you see in the movies. I enjoy those articles because they’re useful and they teach valuable lessons to the masses about the wonderful world we all live in at the moment.

But does that mean writers are stupid? That we don’t get it?

Well, maybe.

I can’t say that I have a PhD in anything. I know psychology up and down and can work with writing mental disorders from both sides of the couch. I do that in The Psych Writer series quite often (and that’s something I’ll be writing about again soon, I promise). But when it comes to firearms, virology and immunology, physics, chemistry, veterinary studies, pharmacy, or any trade requiring an expert, I don’t know squat.

So I do research, and I learn. But sometimes what’s real and what’s proper just isn’t going to fit my story. I might need something to explode when my character shoots it and you’ll never know if she used regular shot or whatever. I might need someone to catch a bullet mid-air and be relatively unscathed from the experience. Those things aren’t real. They’re not going to happen. That’s probably a good thing.

Also there are not giant tentacle inter-dimensional monsters the last time I checked, nor is the country I live in divided into Territories rather than States. Also in my world women were recognized for their scientific achievements early on, and white people didn’t dominate the planet with colonialism.

The writer’s world is not often our same (or sane) world. For me, I purposefully divorced the Silver Hollow world from this real one so that you’d know you weren’t in Kansas anymore. Or wherever the hell you are while you read this. You get the point.

Sometimes writers just have to make it up as we go along, too. I’m currently writing a story that takes place in my world in 1902. Paper cups weren’t invented in our world until 1907. But guess what? My main character is using paper cups. That’s not a goof. I write things this way on purpose. I have to sit down and ask myself what the world would be like in a place where germ theory was accepted earlier because “sin” wasn’t a concept. I have to wonder about a world where money is king rather than the false construct of race. I need to think about how ways my world differs from my real one.

So if you read something that isn’t accurate, seems strange, or is otherwise wrong in this world, please, consider that it was likely done with a purpose. As a wonderful scientist friend of mine (and cracking good writer, by the way) said: “As a scientist, I am fine with this. I don’t want to read a technical bulletin. I do enough of that 9-5. I want to escape.”

As a writer, I’m happy to provide readers with an escape.


I like to write often about things that hopefully couldn’t ever happen in our world. If you’d like to point out how inaccurate my writing is (because it is, most likely), you can do it on my Facebook or Twitter page. I might just refer you back here, though.

Pleasant Publishing with Pronoun

Ugh, even that title sounds like an advert. But I promise it’s really not. I’m receiving no compensation from Pronoun for writing this. I just wanted to share my experience for all of the indie writers out there who are looking for a platform to get their work out for public consumption.

Back in October, in time for Halloween, I published Now Entering Silver Hollow. Well, we published it (my spouse and I).

The first time I was in print, Red Rattle Books took care of everything for me. They did my editing, proofing, publishing, and marketing. In that sense, traditional publishing is lovely. But the downside is that you have to do a lot of your own marketing, too, and you will see less of a cut for the work you put out. Your ROI is much more slim.

Then, I published Exit 1042 using Kindle Direct Publishing. It was simple enough. Just follow the steps and get your book out. This process was simple. The only added difficulties were that I had to do my own editing, proofing, publishing, and marketing. Okay, fine. At least I get a slightly larger piece of the pie I spent all my time slaving over, so that works for me. The downside of that is the distribution isn’t wide. It’s on Amazon Kindle and that’s that. So people who own/use/want to access through Nook, Kobo, Google Play, or iBooks are screwed if they want to read your things, because Amazon held onto it exclusively.

That’s okay, of course, because I agreed to it and thought it would be helpful because I was new to self-publishing and had no idea there was a way to publish on all platforms all at once.

Then, along comes Pronoun.

I had no clue what it was, but I was doing an article about the astounding ProWritingAid app when I had to write about publishing platforms. That’s when I found Pronoun and fell in love.

It’s a clean, easy-to-use publishing platform that lets you publish on multiple avenues. If you’re not lucky enough to have a professional editor or otherwise excellent editor look at your work before you publish it, they can connect you to their services. Yeah. They also have amazing book cover artists that will help you with your book’s cover art. Granted that part isn’t free, but you as a writer understand that artists and craftspeople deserve to be compensated for their work.

But everything else on Pronoun is free. You publish, you get your royalties when people buy. That’s it. No magic.

So I started out and discovered that when Pronoun became difficult and unwieldy, it wasn’t a part of the platform that was giving me problems–it was my own errors. Fortunately those were easy to clear up. A bit of formatting here, a touch of what the hell am I doing there, and voila, problems solved.

I had great support throughout the process. I found one issue where I ran into a brick wall and needed help. For some reason, my print ISBN wasn’t pulling through with Amazon, so while Pronoun was telling Amazon they were the same book on different platforms, Amazon was having a derp moment and not believing it.

I contacted Pronoun, thinking they were probably insanely busy and wouldn’t be able to get back to me in a hurry, so I’d have to suffer with the issue for a few days. Not so. A friendly Author Happiness Advocate (yes, that’s their title) named Elissa Bernstein got back to me in less than 16-hours and was pretty much the most incredible person I could work with. She was friendly, personable, and went out of her way to make it a painless experience. She reached out to Amazon who graciously fixed the problem and in less than 24 hours from the time my issue started, it was resolved. I know Amazon also has great customer service (I know this through experience), but I really didn’t think they’d hop-to when Pronoun came knocking.

Don’t know why I thought that but I’m glad I was wrong.

So much gratitude to Elissa for that, and for answering all of my off-the-wall questions about publishing. I’ve promised myself not to pester her with philosophical/unrelated queries, but I bet her answers would be phenomenal.

Here’s the GTTP (get to the point) version: If you’re going to do your own publishing, use Pronoun for your eBooks and CreateSpace for print. You won’t want to run screaming from the house and throw yourself off a cliff that way.


Anne writes books. She likes to write. Write. Anne. Write. You can follow her around on Facebook and Twitter, even at the same time, probably.

New Book, New Hook or: I Hate Pants

I write these ahead of time, you know. My time-management skills are actually pretty damn good if I do say so myself. I even manage to get a good night’s sleep about 45% of the time, and that’s only on account of the violent night terrors and nightmare disorder that rouses me to consciousness about three times a week on average.

So future me–November 10th me (I trust I’ll still be alive by the time this publishes, but no one knows for sure, right?) is right in the middle of NaNoWriMo. I’m working on a new book that I will publish probably much later than I write it. It’s a tale of the Weird West. I’ve never tackled a Western before but among my favorites are A Fistful of Dollars, True Grit, and The Outlaw Josey Wales. But of course because I let my freak flag fly as they say, I have to add something weird and kind of gross to it, and maybe something sexy now and then.

In addition to the NaNoWriMo excitement, I’ve published another book and I’m super excited about it! Now Entering Silver Hollow is a horror story about a haunted house and the various strange goings on in the small eponymous town. So that’s my new book with a new hook, or an old hook with a new twist. So that would be kind of like a corkscrew hook, which sounds bad-ass (or maybe that’s just me).

Once NaNo is over, I’ll be turning my focus to editing projects, including a “part two” in the Silver Hollow series. The working title is Mercy Hospital. You might even get to find out what happens to the magnificent Oscar, the cat with fur the color of red autumn leaves. Maybe. It’ll depend if he’s feeling up to making another appearance.

Life is a whirlwind and I’m caught up in it without pants. But I hate pants anyway (leg prisons) so I’m good with it. Bet you didn’t think I’d come around to the pants thing, did you?

You know, pants aren’t so bad (they cover my tremendous and beautiful behind, after all), but when I get home, they come right off so I can get into my shorts or house-dress. I like to be comfortable, especially when I’m writing. Pants are not comfortable for all-day wear.

Well, this is me, and this is my personal post about my life right now. Hopefully I’m still alive when this posts, or you’re all gonna feel creepy and weird when you read it, or maybe even cry. I trust I will be (barring a catastrophe or being crushed by a falling piano–which would be a calamity), and I trust that I’ll be laughing about this along with you in a few weeks.

Also, you’ll be getting another installment of The Psych Writer soon. We’re gonna tackle something lighthearted and fun: writing Major Depressive Disorder.

So join me in NaNo if you’re doing it this year, or drop me a line on my Facebook or Twitter page. I’d love to hear from you, even if it’s just to say “hi.”

Discover Stephen Bentley: It’s his turn now…

In case you missed it, a few weeks ago, I was interviewed by the wonderful Stephen Bentley. You can find it here: Discover Anne Hogue-Boucher: Author Spotlight – Stephen Bentley

So now I’d like to chat with you a little bit about Stephen and just how cool he is. I mean, he’s mega-cool. He’s cool with extra cool.

He wrote a book about the events where he was an undercover cop for Operation Julie. If you’re in the UK, then you probably already know that’s a huge deal. It radically changed the way drug busts operated there, essentially setting the standard for future operations.

I think the tale is so thrilling because it’s true, and Stephen is unflinching in his assessments–of himself, his colleagues, and those he was set to watch. Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story tells us a lot about the action but doesn’t come across as cheesy. You don’t feel like you’ve been dropped into an episode of Starsky & Hutch (yes, I’m dating myself with that reference, shut up).

If you haven’t read my interview with Stephen, head on over and take a gander, and while you’re at it, head on over and grab a copy of Undercover: Operation Julie. Then, why not head on over to my Author’s Page and see what I’ve got cooking?

I’m still waiting to hear from a few more of you about The Psych Writer, and I’ll be back with that in just a couple weeks. Currently I’m working hard on NaNoWriMo, tackling a Weird West tale this time. I’ll tell you more about that later.

See you next week, and keep reading.

 

 

The Psych Writer: What Next?

Since we took a break for a few weeks from The Psych Writer after a seven-part series on grief, I’ve noticed that TPW is actually pretty popular. So because I love the subject, and I love to write, and I love to have people read, I was thinking of reaching out to all of you by opening up comments.

What kinds of things would you like to read about next, in the context of writing/creating a convincing character with a mental health issue? There are so many I can write about, including the ones I find are most misunderstood and abused by laypeople who watch far too much television and think that Sherlock Holmes is actually a psychopath (WRONG!) because the writers are ableist twats.

I’ll open the comments up to you, or you can comment via Facebook or Twitter.

What would you like to see next for TPW? Below are a few choices, but you’re welcome to come up with your own.

  • PTSD
  • Major Depressive Disorder and Dysthymic Disorder
  • Bipolar I, II, and Cyclothymic Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder
  • Autism Spectrum
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • OCD and OCPD

Now I’ll probably work on all of these and more, but I’m reaching out to you, my fine and beautiful reader, for what you’d like to see next.

In the meantime, happy writing, and try not to tear up my inbox too much. *wink*


While I was doing all of this, I was getting a book ready for publishing. If you’re up for a journey through Perdition and back, hop in your car and head for the sign that says Now Entering Silver Hollow. It’s available on several eBook platforms, and in print through CreateSpace and Amazon.

Who is a writer? Jen Jones on the Full-Time Writer

When I recently read an article by Jen Jones called Writing Is My Job, her voice resonated with me. As a full-time writer and editor, I know those struggles. Of people belittling and demeaning your work because you don’t have a standard 9-to-5.

Well, for the holidays, I took a temp job in October for three months so I could make extra money. So currently I do this second job, come home, write, sleep, and start over all over again the next day. For me, it’s a second job that might last six months instead of three, but we’ll see. My writing comes first.

For those of you who are writers, I just wanted to let you know that it’s okay to consider your current 9-to-5 as your second job. Because that’s what it is. You may not make enough to quit the second job and devote full-time to writing, or you may not be able to stretch the budget to get used to being paid quarterly.

It doesn’t matter. Your reasons are private and what you make is no one’s business.

And for those of you who don’t write and look down on those who do say they’re writers, sit your judgmental asses on the side for a second and listen up: if someone tells you they’re a writer, don’t make your first question “are you published?” It may seem like an innocent enough question and seem like you’re just inquiring where to buy their work, but to a writer who is struggling to publish or finish a manuscript, it can be a painful question. Plus I know some people do it to be dinks and belittle the person’s profession or make them feel small. That’s not any of my readers, though, I’m sure.

Just because they aren’t published yet doesn’t make them any less of a writer. I’ve published 5200 articles–all of them ghost-written. I’ve published a short story in an anthology, and I’ve published a one-shot short story on Amazon. I have a full composite novel coming out just in time for Halloween. Yes, I’m a writer. Even before I published my first short story.

Be nice to us indie authors. We’re just here to tell stories and be entertaining.

So what do you ask, then? A better question is, “what are you working on?” Okay, while it’s a grammatically incorrect question, it gives the writer a chance to tell you about their newest project or something they have already published. It increases your likelihood that you won’t be killed off in their next chapter, too. So side benefit.

“What are you working on?” is the question that a writer asks another writer, unless we’re being dicks on purpose. Sometimes I’ll ask, “where are you at with publishing?” because I want to be helpful. It’s a different question than “are you published” because I don’t presuppose that you have to be published to be a writer. It also gives the other writer a chance to brag about their new deal with Random House, or tell me they’re braving the waters of self-publishing and are in need of an editor.

Whether you’re a full-time writer or you have a second job to support your writing career, if you work hard day in and day out writing on your manuscript and you know what it means when I say the phrase “elevator pitch” without using Google, then congratulations, you’re a writer.


My name is Anne, and I write stuff. You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook. I also answer questions on Quora.

The Editor’s Corner – The Rough Draft

As you know, last week we just finished up a section on grief in The Psych Writer Series. So this week I wanted to take a break and head to The Editor’s Corner. After all, we’re writers, not psychologists. (For those of you enjoying TPW, we’ll get back to it soon!)

I have a little online writing group and as a freelance editor, I give writing tips and tricks to the youngsters on how to improve their writing (they are ages 13-20). But I don’t care to be all high-and-mighty. I write, too.

And my rough drafts are hellacious.

Everyone’s are. But I put them up in the group, anyway.

There is a reason that I post my rough drafts for their critique. I want to show them that even an editor who picks apart everything about a novel from start to finish to help them make a better piece of writing also has crappy rough drafts. We all have our quirks and problems in our first draft.

This is why I present them a rough draft, so they can see that.

Why?

Because the first time a person gets their manuscript back with line-by-line changes and more “red ink” on it than black, it’s effing discouraging and makes people want to throw their work out the window and into a bonfire.

But I assure them: if you get something back that marked up, it means you have potential. An editor will not waste time on a work if they don’t think it can grow.

So if they or you ever ask me for my professional feedback and you get it, even if some of it’s difficult to take, know that me spending time on your work means something. It means I think it has potential, and that’s the highest compliment an editor can pay to a writer.

In a letter to 19-year-old Arnold Samuelson, Ernest Hemingway once wrote the following:

“Don’t get discouraged because there’s a lot of mechanical work to writing. There is, and you can’t get out of it. I rewrote the first part of A Farewell to Arms at least fifty times. You’ve got to work it over. The first draft of anything is sh*t. When you first start to write you get all the kick and the reader gets none, but after you learn to work it’s your object to convey everything to the reader so that he remembers it not as a story he had read but something that happened to himself.”

This is what an editor helps people do. We don’t function as writers in that moment. What we do is massage the work into a shape that will leave the reader euphoric, devastated, or otherwise moved. They will incorporate your story into the tapestry of their lives.

This is why I share my rough drafts with my group. To show them that the work is always, without exception, in need of more refinement.

So when you share a work with a professional and it’s a rough draft, expect a lot of feedback. A lot of it. That doesn’t mean it’s bad or it’s crap. In fact, it’s the opposite.

Happy writing!


I am Anne Hogue-Boucher. I write stuff and then I edit it, and then edit it some more. I also get it edited. If you’d like to read some of my work, pick up a copy of Exit 1042. There’s more on the way. You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

The Psych Writer: Grief – Phase Seven: Acceptance

This is the final installment of the grief section in The Psych Writer series. Last week, we took a look at The Depression Phase. But now we can take a nice, deep breath and look at how far we’ve come. All the way to acceptance.

These phases are organized for the benefit of the clinician. They are not set in stone and the patient will likely not feel these things in order, or one at a time. They might, but they might not. Grief is individualized. There is also fluidity in acceptance. It can fluctuate, just like the other phases.

Oh, acceptance, this phase is so lovely, right? Happy bluebirds sing all around you as you realize you fully accept that x loss has happened and sunbeams arch from your head in a golden halo of enlightenment.

NO.

Acceptance isn’t pretty. It’s not always peaceful. It’s not often a loving, gentle tutor that allows us to smile once again. No. It’s part of the process, and sometimes, perhaps most of the time, it’s ugly before it is fine. The experience varies from person to person.

What acceptance is can be anything from a bitter resignation to one’s fate, to a calm recognition of this is how the way things are, and everything in between. This is the moment where a person says, “my mother is dead. Nothing can change that,” or “I lost my job and there’s no going back.”

Acceptance is the first step to putting one foot in front of the other and rebuilding life without whatever was lost.

Acceptance from the Patient’s POV
The patient feels the loss, though often less acutely than in the other stages. The grief has been replaced with the ability to function without the target of their loss. There may be lingering feelings of sadness, anger, and those feelings may resurge from time to time, but there is a sense in the person that they need to move forward. Acceptance of a non-lethal event, such as job loss or divorce, a spark of interest in other activities may arise. The person may have found a new love interest, or a new job may have them ready to move on from the old one.

Acceptance from the Therapist’s POV
While this is often a good sign that the patient is ready to make significant leaps into moving forward, it is important to check in with them to see how they feel about their newly found acceptance. Is there resignation? Optimism? Pessimism? Fear of moving forward? It will be up to the therapist to help the patient work through those retentive feelings so that the patient can move toward healthy and more helpful feelings.

What this Means for You, The Writer
Getting to acceptance might be a good starting point for your character, and however they get there will be far more interesting than the feelings themselves. Does your character need revenge in order to accept something that was taken from them? Will it help? Will they regret what they’ve done, or will they accept it and move on to better things? Starting a character in the acceptance phase might be interesting if you can flip the acceptance on its ear. What comes next after they’ve accepted their fate? These are all questions you may wish to answer for your character.

If you came here looking for psychological assistance, please contact your local crisis line. Dial 2-1-1 in the US for the United Way, or contact the Samaritans in the UK. For a list of international crisis lines, click here.

Breathe easy, we’ve gotten through this together. Now go write.


Now that we’ve done this in-depth examination of grief, let’s move onto some other topics. I take requests (you can ask via Facebook or Twitter). Next week I’ll do some fluffy topics or post a picture of my cat. Maybe. Or I might drag you further into the abyss. Who knows with me? If you’re in need of some lighthearted diversions, check out my Facebook and Twitter. Or for some entertaining fiction that touches on grief and loss, grab a copy of Exit 1042.

The Psych Writer: Grief – Phase Six: Depression

This has been a dreary series for some, I’m sure, so thank you to all the readers who are stubborn enough to get through it with me. For others, you understand that death and grief are part of the human condition. It’s worth closer examination. Sometimes it even helps.

Last week as part of The Psych Writer series, we took a look at the fifth phase of grief: anger. This week, we examine depression.

Remember (and for regular readers, say it with me): these phases are organized for the benefit of the clinician. They are not set in stone and the patient will likely not feel these things in order, or one at a time. They might, but they might not. Grief is individualized.

As clinicians we have a bit of a conundrum on the use of the term “depression” here, because depression is a clinical diagnosis. It’s more than just feeling sad. Depression is an illness that is typically long-term, can be lifelong, and can be hazardous to the patient. Yet we use the term here because depression not only means feelings of sadness, but a patient can develop Major Depressive Disorder in this phase. Not only that, those who already have MDD can face a downturn in mood or behavior. In other words, grief can push them further down the spiral.

Basically, you’ve got a lot of shit to do in this phase, too.

Depression from the Patient’s POV
Life is empty and pointless without X, where X is the source of loss. This is the phase most commonly associated with grief, so chances are, you’re familiar with it. Life is colorless. Bland. Some of the things I’ve heard from people in this phase have been soul-sucking. The depths of despair when facing a loss can be, well, depressing.

“I cannot live without them.”

“Not even food tastes the same.”

“I’ll never be able to listen to jazz again. It reminds me too much of my [loved one].”

“We used to go for walks together every day. Now I can’t even get out of bed. Without X, it’s just not worth it.”

“If I’m dead, then I can join them.”

Anything you can imagine that reflects the loss that’s depressing as hell can be found in this phase. It is utter disaster for a patient. Some believe they will never recover.

Sadly, some won’t recover. Some will spiral into MDD, and some will get worse if they already have MDD.

Depression from the Therapist’s POV
It is up to you to help the patient move away from this phase. It is not done quickly, and there is no efficient magic trick to make them better. Sometimes, you have to call in a psychiatrist’s consultation, particularly if the patient is already on medication for MDD, or they really should be on something for MDD. No, you’re not giving them a magic pill that will take away their pain of loss; nothing will do that. When you suggest medication, it’s because you are using a tool that may help pull them back from the abyss and give grief clarity.

In other words, you are helping them to just grieve, rather than get sucked down into the horrific abyss of MDD.

Remember some of the things I mentioned that I’ve heard from people in the depression phase? Let’s look at them through the lens of an ethical therapist.

“I cannot live without them.” (Silent warning bells. Find out if the patient is suicidal. Find out if they have the plans, and means. You may have to hospitalize.)

“Not even food tastes the same.” (Anhedonia is possible. Discuss what this means for the patient. Find out if they’ve had any unexpected weight loss. Note it. If patient has history of an eating disorder, consult with treatment team. Work with them and the patient. Work with the patient to help them find a way to remember their loved one through food, but in a healthy way.)

“I’ll never be able to listen to jazz again. It reminds me too much of my [loved one].” (Anhedonia is possible. Discuss the reasons. Let the patient talk and tell you a story about their loved one’s favored music. Help them remember this is a process and that over time it may become a positive way to remember the loved one.)

“We used to go for walks together every day. Now I can’t even get out of bed. Without X, it’s just not worth it.” (Loss of a physical activity can make depression worse. Discuss and explore alternatives, or how to get back to walking, etc.)

“If I’m dead, then I can join them.” (MAJOR ALARM BELLS BETTER BE GOING OFF IN YOUR HEAD. Patient has suicidal ideation. Check for plans and means. Hospitalization may be necessary.)

What this Means for You, The Writer
Of course it depends on where you’re going with the story. Usually when a writer examines grief in fiction, this is the phase that they start at because it’s the most recognizable and seemingly the one that gets the point across. Your character may have stopped eating. They may overeat. They stopped showering and grooming.

But consider writing from one of the different phases or combining a few instead of starting at depression. If and when you do choose to write this part, don’t forget the impact of show over tell. Show me the uneaten dinner in the fridge. Show me the ashtray full of cigarettes and the character lying in bed with a red face puffy from crying. Show me the dirty hair and stench of two-week’s worth of unwashed laundry, piled up in the corner and threatening to grow legs and walk off. Show me the guitar in the other corner just gathering dust. The darkened room. The unmade bed. The broken mirror.

Remember, it’s not the grief itself that’s interesting, it’s how the character faces it, doesn’t face it, or makes matters worse that is interesting to the reader.

If you came here looking for psychological assistance, please contact your local crisis line. Dial 2-1-1 in the US for the United Way, or contact the Samaritans in the UK. For a list of international crisis lines, click here.

Now go write. Go for a walk, too. Get a little fresh air.


Wow, just one more topic and you can breathe easier. We’ll move onto other subjects too, and I do take requests (you can ask via Facebook or Twitter). If you’re in need of some lighthearted diversions, check out my Facebook and Twitter. Or for some entertaining fiction that touches on grief and loss, grab a copy of Exit 1042.