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gypsy

This morning, we lost one of the lovingest, fiercest, itty-bitty, little forces to be reckoned with since pets were domesticated.

Gypsy’s Vixen ala Mode–aka Gypsy, aka Mrs. Loud, aka Little Houdini–passed away suddenly at approximately 7:20 this morning, after a short and unexpected bout of weakness, labored breathing, and sudden fatigue.

Gypsy was unusually small, even for a toy poodle, but her spirit was as big as any Great Dane’s. She enjoyed giving high-fives, rubbing her head on things, eating cheese with her daddy, cuddling with her mommy, and minding everyone else’s business. She had the temperament of a hunter, often seeming to be unaware of her petite size, and frequently getting in over her head because of this oversight. But she always prevailed.

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Gypsy also loved having her head kissed, getting belly rubs, running like the wind, and giving hugs. Despite her sudden illness, she endured long enough to pass away in her favorite place–her mommy’s arms. And at 8:30 this morning, we took Gypsy to the place she knew as home, and buried her with her green flannel pet pillow and her favorite black and white blankie.

We adopted Gypsy in 2000 from a resident at the Heritage Eastridge rehabilitation and retirement center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her owner was progressing in age and having trouble caring for her. Although he called her Patricia, we changed her name to Gypsy partly because of the fact that ours was the fourth home she’d had in her short life, and also, we named her after the Fleetwood Mac song, Gypsy, which we are both fans of.

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(Gypsy with her mommy–her favorite place to be)

She is survived by Sven, her brother and companion of almost thirteen years. He will miss her dearly and her absence from our family will leave a hole that will never be filled.

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(Gypsy goofing off with her daddy)

We love you, Gypsy. We will always miss you and always love you. Rest in peace, Sweet Eyes.

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Although I try to keep this blog strictly related to writing, sometimes I like to veer off track a little. A couple of things have combined to inspire this particular post–mainly the passing of my thirty-sixth birthday a few weeks back–which apparently has caused me to ponder some things.

I don’t have children, and that is a choice I made at 22. At that age, doctors (or at least my doctor) refused to give me the snip despite my certainty that I’d never change my mind on the matter. I’ve made no effort since to get the cobra de-venomized–mostly out of laziness–and gratefully, I’ve fathered no children–that I’m aware of–in the meantime. That was almost 15 years ago, and I still haven’t changed my mind–but I will admit to having a kind of biological desire to pass something on.

So… on this long, hot, boring day, I’ve made a list of things I’ve learned–both from experience and from the experiences of others–that I’d like to think I’d take the time to teach my child–if I had ever had one.

Don’t judge me. Raising rhetorical children is no easy task. Why, I’ve spent almost an hour and a half on the little bastard today alone. This is my imaginary child, and I will raise it as I see fit.

But seriously…

101 Things I’d Like to Teach My Child

#1. Never let anyone tell you something isn’t funny. If you’re laughing, it is, in fact, funny.

#2. Age and wisdom are not necessarily synonymous with each other.

#3. Blood isn’t always thicker than water.

#4. If you set out to “get even,” don’t expect it to go as planned.

#5. Anyone who tries to isolate you from your friends and family is giving you the first warning of abuses to come.

#6. Insecurity is the root of the majority of all character flaws.

#7. Next to an absolute refusal to fail, integrity will take you further than anything.

#8. There are just as many people who will help you as there are who will hinder you.

#9. If you have no self-respect, it’s your own fault.

#10. Inspiration is a flake.

#11. Responsibility is a verb. Admitting fault is just the first step. Fixing the damage is key. If the damage is irreparable, accept that and learn from it.

#12. Never let anyone threaten you. And veiled threats are still threats.

#13. The underestimation of others’ intelligence is the ultimate practice of stupidity.

#14. Don’t maintain relationships with people who have no loyalty to you.

#15. Insecurity is absolutely a choice. And it’s a lazy choice.

#16. Yes, there are such things as grown men who need to talk to their mothers every day, and no, you do not need to be one of them.

#17. If you want to be respected, do respectable things.

#18. Before you criticize another person’s behavior, be sure you’re not guilty of the same thing.

#19. No matter how many times you watch a bad movie, it will still suck.

#20. Listen to people when they speak about their relationships with others. People tell you all the time who they really are.

#21. Choosing your company wisely isn’t self-righteous. It’s vital to good health and an industrious life.

#22. People come and go. Let them.

#23. Never think you’re so unique that the rules don’t apply to you, and never think bad people will make exceptions for you.

#24. If you want something, expect to work damned hard for it.

#25. There is a price for everything. Everything.

#26. If someone hurts you and apologizes for it, let the hurt go and forget the incident. If they do the same thing a second time, they are abusing you.

#27. Forgiveness is not saying something is okay. Forgiveness is the choice to let go of resentment.

#28. Sometimes you have to remove a person from your life in order to forgive them. That’s okay, but always forgive.

#29. You don’t owe anyone anything, and no one owes you anything.

#30. Don’t accept gifts from anyone who wants something in return.

#31. Envy is ugly at best and cancerous at worst. Never indulge in envy.

#32. You are not responsible for anyone’s feelings but your own, and no one has so much power that they should be allowed to dictate yours. Own yourself.

#33. Never let anyone tell you what to believe. Be silent, ask tough questions, and trust your instincts to tell you the truth.

#34. Make friends with people who possess the qualities you want for yourself. Step up, not down, and never let anyone tell you that’s arrogant or judgmental.

#35. Never let anyone invade your personal space, not even me.

#36. There will come a time in life when you’re given a choice between doing what others expect of you and choosing to be true to who you are. Choose to be who you are. It’s harder, but you’ll never know personal fulfillment if you don’t do it.

#37. It’s none of your business how people perceive you.

#38. Flattery only works when it’s genuine.

#39. Happiness is a feeling, and all feelings come and go. Acceptance is the closest you’ll ever come to a permanent sense of happiness.

#40. You don’t have control over other people and only fools think otherwise.

#41. There is a different between ignorance and stupidity. Ignorance is the lack of knowledge. Stupidity is a decision to remain ignorant.

#42. No matter what you love to do, there’s a way to make money doing it.

#43. You cannot control what other people think of you.

#44. Love is as much a commitment, a decision, as it is an emotion.

#45. Being at the mercy of your mood is one of the most self-defeating habits one can adopt.

#46. Never allow your children to openly criticize other adults. It makes everyone look stupid.

#47. Just because you have the constitutional right to express your opinions doesn’t mean you have to. Never let anyone tell you that you’re obligated to any cause.

#48. Life has enough drama. Avoid people who bring chaos and upset into your life.

#49. People who aren’t secure enough to introduce their friends to each other are questionable.

#50. You have control over your actions… and nothing or no one else.

#51. Don’t assume you can disrespect a person because they are in your house, and don’t allow anyone to disrespect you because you are in their house.

#52. You are not responsible for anyone’s actions but your own.

#53. Be leery of anyone who tells you how nice and trustworthy they are.

#54. The choices you make every day–large and small–will determine how your life turns out and who you become.

#55. If there is a devil, fear is his greatest tool, and if there is a god, forgiveness is his.

#56. Sometimes the line between honesty and cruelty is a thin one. Err on the side of kindness.

#57. Open as many doors for other people as possible. This is the best way I know of to get ahead.

#57. Addiction doesn’t die, it simply changes form.

#58. Always sincerely congratulate others for their successes.

#59. Very successful people have worked hard for it. Never assume they got lucky.

#60. Never say you don’t have time to read. We all know this is bullshit.

#61. Never, ever complain about your spouse. It makes you look foolish.

#62. Never assume doctors have your best interest at heart.

#63. There are things you can change about yourself, and things you can’t. Determine the difference and accept yourself.

#64. Never assume anyone is wiser than you.

#65. Figure out who you are before you’re thirty. Being a lost soul at fifty is laughable.

#66. Bitterness is a choice.

#67. If you work hard and accomplish your goals, the fear of age will not own you.

#68. You can’t replace a person with anyone else.

#69. If you feel like no one ever listens to you, try doing what you say you’re going to do. People hear integrity.

#70. The ego is weak, ineffectual, and it cannot sustain you. Go deeper.

#71. Humility is an indication of intelligence.

#72. You cannot be good at everything, nor do you need to be.

#73. Don’t enable others, and don’t allow others to enable you.

#74. Whether or not God exists, prayer works.

#75. Fear lies.

#76. Exercise is not over-rated.

#77. Soulmates exist.

#78. The universe is on its own time-frame. You won’t always get what you want when you want it.

#79. Don’t pick and choose biblical references. If you’re going to bring the bible into it, bring it all.

#80. There’s no such thing as casual sex.

#81. Before you set out to “teach someone a lesson,” ask yourself when the last time was that someone taught you a lesson.

#82. Make a list of daily goals and adhere to them. Over time, you’ll be amazed.

#83. Revenge only works on TV.

#84. Don’t throw the first punch… and don’t hold back once it’s been thrown.

#85. People know when they’re being manipulated.

#86. Think critically before forming an opinion. That way you won’t be that dumb ass who can’t seem to make up his mind about even his most basic perceptions and beliefs.

#87. If someone takes an interest in you, rest assured they want something, but don’t assume it’s something entirely self-serving either.

#88. The world will always want fantasy, glamour and romance. There are a million ways to work that to your advantage.

#89. Know the difference between business and pleasure and don’t mingle with those who don’t.

#90. If you want to go places, find out what people want and deliver it.

#91. Life is approximately 5% chance and 95% free will.

#92. The best way to age gracefully is to make it your goal to be a better person this year than you were last year.

#93. There will always be someone in your life who thinks everything needs to be done their way. Let them. It’s fun to watch them gape in stupid surprise when no one obeys.

#94. “Brushing your teeth” is a figure of speech. You need to clean your whole mouth.

#95. Trying to be unique is anything but unique.

#96. Don’t rush to lose your innocence. Once it’s gone, it doesn’t come back.

#97. People who have no heroes are either entirely without direction, or way too cynical.

#98. No matter the price, never let anyone own you.

#99. There’s always a choice. Always.

#100. Better to be naïve than jaded.

#101. Don’t allow people to misuse you. Simply don’t stand for it.


As I’m sure I’ve already mentioned, character writing is my favorite part of the fiction process. Nothing else–except maybe the finished product–is as satisfying to me personally as the moment a character begins to tell his or her story. Sometimes, they reveal themselves in slow sections, teasing you with their secrets and the private details of their personas. Sometimes, they come fully-formed in an in-your-face moment of undeniable clarity.

My intrigue with the process of character development is what keeps me writing, and it is what has prompted me to elaborate on it here, and dig a little deeper into some of the characters I’ve created, with the purpose of learning more about the mystery of it in general, and maybe even learning a little more about my own process. And, one of the most frequently asked questions any writer receives is about the development of characters, so I thought it might also be fun for the folks who have read my work to see the inner workings of my imaginary friends 🙂

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The first character that comes to mind, for some reason, is Brytt Tanner, Sterling Bronson’s dim-witted side-kick in Beautiful Monster, so I’ll start with him.

Brytt came into existence pretty early on in the plotting of Monster,  and if I remember correctly, it all started–as it often does–with his name. My co-author, Mimi A. Williams, met a man named Brytt in the workplace. The moment she mentioned the guy’s name, I knew I had to use it.

The first thing I knew about Brytt was that he was a stripper. I’m not sure why that was–again, probably the name. It just sounds kind of strippery, I guess.

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Next came his physical appearance. I figured a bulky, muscle-bound blond guy would be an interesting antithesis to Sterling’s dark, brooding good looks. I don’t like to create characters who look too much alike, and second, I’m a sucker for contrast. After ascertaining the basics of Brytt’s appearance, the next thing I did was start browsing the internet for his doppelgänger. This isn’t something I always do, but at times, I’ve found it helpful. So, I found a photograph of a guy that fit the mold, and referred to said picture when I needed to expound on details. I considered posting that picture here, but have ultimately decided against it. I think it’s best to let readers fill in their own blanks and use their own imaginations.

Not all of Brytt was pre-planned. He–like all good characters–came with a little of his own agenda, and one of the first things that surprised me was his dim-wittedness. I don’t know that I would have deliberately created him to be such a lunkhead, but as is so often the case, this is how he kind of “revealed” himself as I wrote him.

And it worked… which is also very often the case when you trust your characters to do their own things.

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It was also a surprise to me that Brytt was almost–but not quite–as morally corrupt, sexually deviant, and as dangerous as Sterling. In the beginning, Brytt was created, I think, simply as a means to give Sterling–who lives by himself–more opportunity for dialogue. But as the story progressed and began to demand artistic unity, Brytt began to play a significant role in the novel.

Brytt’s last name was tricky. A strange thing happened as we got further into the story. We started noticing a pattern… an absolute overuse–and abuse, really–of the letter C. We had Claire, Connie, Carlson, Cassidy, Carson, Carlisle, and probably several other names that began with the letter. I wish I could tell you why C became such a prominent player, but I can’t–I don’t know. Wierd things happen sometimes. So, after we made the discovery of the letter Cs undeniable overuse, Brytt’s last name–Carson–was changed to Tanner. Tanner, because at the time, I worked for a company with the word “Tanner” in the title. I’d been at the company for thirteen years, and figured it deserved some kind of recognition for paying my bills all that time. Unfortunately, Brytt probably isn’t really the most complimentary thing to be associated with, but for what’s it’s worth, I like him. He amused the hell out of me… and hey, it’s the thought that counts…

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I can’t remember if Brytt’s addiction to cocaine was a surprise or part of the plan, but this was the most fun, and most challenging thing about him. His constant “pit stops” kind of became his calling card, his personal catch-phrase in a sense, and it was interesting to describe the physical symptoms, like his glassy eyes and powder-congealed nostrils–and it was a total blast describing the actual snorting of the cocaine. I know… I’m kinda twisted that way, but it was fun. The snorting of coke is not glamorous. I wanted that to be very clear when Brytt did his thing, and it turned out being more hilarious than anything.

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Brytt is, believe it or not, one of my favorites. He was fun because he didn’t allow Sterling to take himself so seriously. Well, maybe Sterling took himself seriously, but Brytt made it impossible for me to take him–and the rest of the story–as seriously. Brytt is one of the reasons Beautiful Monster was so much fun for me. He moved the story along like a good character, he played by the rules by not demanding more stage time than his part required, and he forced me to learn more about the darker, sleazier side of life. I absolutely love him, and I have no doubt he will reincarnate, in some form or another, in my future writes.

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Beautiful Monster is available in paperback and ebook format at www.damnationbooks.com, and everywhere books are sold.

If you like my blog, also stop by and give me a like at my Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/thejerodscott?ref=tn_tnmn


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Since an early age, I have had make-believe people in my head.  I know how that sounds and I am willing to admit its psychotic connotations. But quirky, questionable, batshit crazy, or otherwise, it’s the truth.  Psychologists might say I was unhappy and turned to creating an alternate reality to escape the misery of my own world.  But I don’t believe that.  I was a perfectly happy child.  Odd, but happy.  I just liked the idea of making up my own people whose lives I could script and design, and … who would live or die under my ruthless command (insert evil laugh here).

In the beginning of life, I suppose it seemed very normal.  Most kids have imaginary friends and the like… but mine weren’t really what I’d call imaginary friends.  I never interacted with my make-believe people, I just knew all about their lives: their names, jobs, locations, likes and dislikes, etc.  I used to sketch them out, and occasionally, I would put them in little stories, but many of them just sat until, by the time I was a teenager, I had notebooks populated with the profiles of these fictional characters and no idea why, or what to do with them.

By the time I was nearing twenty years old, I’d thrown away my stuffed animals and done away with ninety percent of my childhood fancies.  But one thing never changed: the people living in my head.  As I got older, they became more and more like real-life, three-dimensional human beings.  I suspect that as I matured, I began drawing on the traits of those around me, and those I saw on television.

You’d think that by now, when I sat down to write a story, I’d just pull out an old notebook and pick and choose characters. Instead, however, I’m still coming up with new people all the time. Different stories require different personalities, some of which haven’t yet come to my attention.

One of the most fascinating things about being a fiction writer, in my opinion, is getting into the minds of the characters. I use the word fascinating rather than fun because it isn’t always fun. For example, while writing Beautiful Monster, I was mortified at times to be in Sterling Bronson’s head. I remember frequently asking myself in various situations, What would Sterling do? and shuddering at the thought.

Currently, I am working on two projects. One is The White Room, which I still intend to have finished sometime near the end of summer. I’ve made this manuscript a lot more fun by discovering the joys of third person narrative. In this book, I get to explore multiple points of view, and now that I’ve begun doing it this way,I wonder how on earth I ever wrote from just one character’s perspective. The White Room is full of all kinds of fascinating points of view. There are good guys, villains, victims, sexually deviant women, men with addiction issues, living people, some undead folks, and even a guy with obsessive compulsive personality disorder. I’m seeing the world through several different pairs of eyes and I’ve never had as much fun writing as I am with this one.

The other project I’m working on is much different in a lot of ways. I can’t elaborate on this one too much because it’s still kind of top-secret… but it’s getting written, and it’s going well. For this one,  I am also exploring a few different points of view, but this is a whole new experience because I’m writing from a ten-year-old boy’s point of view…as well as a very old woman’s. This project is teaching me new things, expanding me in fascinating ways, and forcing me to stick to the point as it’s not intended to be a full length novel.

Having learned to see one story through the eyes of multiple characters has shown me new layers to the stories, as well as cleared up numerous issues I’ve had with past manuscripts which never reached completion. To be honest, I don’t know if I will ever return to first person…unless, of course, it seriously benefits a story I’m writing.

Anyway, I’d love to hear from readers and other writers on this topic. I’d like to know what readers love–and hate–about characters. I’d also love to hear from other writers about their process in character development.

Thanks for reading!

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Her mouth preys on my body

And the secrets that it keeps

And only in those moments

Does my own damnation sleep

Her kisses pierce my skin

As only glisten-quick lips can

She resurrects my pleasure

With a devil-red command

With ravenous hands I venture

 And with blind eyes do I see

Her body on my body

Like a whole new piece of me

And pieces of her linger

When she’s long since left the room

I wear her scent like leather

Her tattoo of Blue Perfume

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© Jerod Scott


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Only in the darkness

Does truth tell itself so well

So eloquent, so honest

With  no vanities to sell

Behind the black of masks

So brave becomes the soul

In the bliss of freedom from

The illusion of control

The abandonment of past

And of vast contingencies

Based on gracious ventures

That no one even sees

But to come untamed before

Someone that you trust

To transcend this blend of ecstasy

And fleet of freeze-dried lust

Standing back, aghast

Faced with your own strength

With no lace to give permission to

The light of day’s broad length

It is here that I find freedom

In this pitch-black synagogue

It is here I find religion

It is here that I find God

© 2009 Jerod Scott


Being a writer isn’t a choice. It’s a condition and those of us afflicted are intimately acquainted with the suffering we were born to endure. Because our tortured lives are lived in the service of our art, we strive to sacrifice our very souls at the altar of literature for the sake of presenting the world with the beauty of our pain.

Today, we have decided to share with you the burdensome joy of our oft-flailing endeavors to create for you, Dear Reader, the finest, most insightful fiction our poet-souls can spew forth.  We shall reveal our rituals and our deepest secrets so that you may understand what all writers go through every day of their tormented lives to give the gift of verseful prose and to keep the word-thirsty demons of our condition at bay and our sanity at least partially intact.

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TT: So, Jerod, I used to use heroin to spark my imagination, but that wasn’t quite elegiac enough, so now I make my own absinthe. Not only is it a staple of great literary tradition, I also find the color green clarifying and provocative and it allows me to maintain both creativity and beauty in my life. Do you have a similar support system?

JS: I gave up absinthe when my liver protested too much. I replaced that sweet nectar by the very bonnet Laura Ingalls Wilder wore when she was compelled to write her Little House on the Prairie series. It still brandishes the magic of long ago, which really was beneficial when channeling Sterling Bronson in Beautiful Monster. http://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Monster-Mimi-A-Williams/dp/1615727752/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&qid=1364787121&sr=8-17&keywords=Beautiful+Monster Tamara, what attire do you don to conjure up your tortured brilliance?

TT: I dress as a Union gunnery officer, circa 1864, because after all, isn’t writing a war with words?  Words are my rifle, my computer is my sabre and rattling it is my life.  I’ve worn this outfit for all my novels except Moonfall when I found it necessary to dress in a full Felician nun’s habit, complete with the garters and holey leggings of the Benedictine monks.  Do you perform any rituals to enhance your performance?

JS:  I believe that to get to the creative depths of our souls, we must maintain the precarious balance of each of our universes by creating and destroying in equal portions. That being said, my rituals include but are not limited to breaking furniture, smashing mirrors, throwing champagne glasses into the fireplace, watching I Dream of Jeannie reruns, and animal husbandry.

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No, but seriously, my real rituals are far less spectacular than any of those.  I like to wear electronic nipple clamps while I’m slaving over my work. There’s something about the power juicing through my body that I believe adds an adventurous edge to my writing. I also center myself by counting the hairs on the back of my left hand.  There are many hairs and this helps me find inner peace. It’s my Zen moment of the day and I always look forward to it.  Do you have any rituals, Tamara?

TT: I do, but none as interesting as yours, I’m afraid.  I keep a framed signed photograph of a young Samuel Clemens over my computer.  It’s been handed down in my family since he presented it to my great-great-grandparents, Chester and Sarah Bellham as a wedding gift in 1859.  (They were traveling after their wedding on the very first steamboat he piloted after receiving his license.)  Each evening, at the end of the working day, I close my computer and light a votive candle kept on the little altar below the portrait.   Then I choose thirteen ants out of my husband’s ant farm and hold them, one by one, over the flame with long tweezers until they crisp while I recite these lines partially from Tolkien:

Cut the cloth and tread the fat!

Leave the bones on the bedroom mat!

Pour the milk on the pantry floor!

Splash the wine on every door!

Hubba hubba shebop shebop

Hobbits, don’t let my new book flop!

 Those lines have spoken to me since I was ten years old in ways I can’t begin to explain, even to myself. Perhaps it’s merely silly superstition, but I believe that these small sacrifices aid my creativity.

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JS: That’s amazing, Tamara. I do the same thing, but I didn’t admit it earlier because I didn’t want PETA to go after me.  I do it a little differently. My altar includes a painting of Stevie Nicks and a tambourine, which I shake vigorously before sacrificing my ants to her. After the sacrifices have been executed, I look up to the Stevie Nicks painting and recite the following lines three times:

“Just like the white-winged dove…

Sings a song, sounds like she’s singin’

Ooh, baby, ooh, said, ooh…”

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TT: Why Stevie Nicks?

JS:  Why Mark Twain?

TT: Good point.  We all contend with our private demons in our own ways.  Jerod, they say no book is written by just one person, so tell me what role your wife plays in your writing life.

JS: She lies. She tells people I’m a plumber because she’s very embarrassed, but in private, she’s quite supportive, going so far as to help me count the hairs on the back of my hand to help me focus. I couldn’t do it without her because she’s a far keener mathematician than I.  What of Robert Damien?  How does he cope with your literary mistress?

TT: Threesomes.  Well, Jerod, in closing, what advice would you give to new writers?

JS: As a natural born writer, you’re surely already hanging on to life by the thinnest of threads, so my advice to invest in plenty of anti-depressants, read books such as The Story of O by Pauline Réage, Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann, and of course, The Back Passage by James Lear. Also, find a good luck charm – worry stones. It’s nice to have something to rub whilst pounding away at your work, and according to ancient legend, worry stones are also good for your circulation depending on the vigor of your worry. Additionally, porn is good because it clears the mind, but make sure you have a keyboard cover.  Exercise.  Kegels are great because you can do them right at your desk and the keyboard cover also comes in handy. Also I glue leather elbow patches to my Lycra Spandex unitard and carry around a meerschaum pipe because it makes me look literary. I advise all new writers do something similar. Think like the writer — BE the writer! What’s your advice, TT?

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TT: I advise always taking writing very, very seriously. There’s no joking around when it comes to being a Published Author.  This is a business, damn it, and you must be a professional at all times. Make sure, as well, that your subtext is well thought out and inserted consistently so that people will know just how brilliant you are–and obviously, you must be sure there are always many deeper meanings in whatever you are writing. Thinking like Camus is excellent for romance writers, and I recommend Nietzsche for humorists, but the cant of any serious philosopher will fit the other genres.

Any more to add, Jerod?

JS:  Yes. I agree one hundred and seven percent.  You must take your art as seriously as you do every breath you take. Each move you make and each claim you stake in writing is important. You don’t have to put on the red light. Just write. Write like the wind. And remember, I’ll be watching you.

TT: One last question, Jerod. However did you get the original Laura Ingalls Wilder bonnet?

JS: eBay.

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