Why I Use Music in My Writing

blog 18aI listen to my music as I clean the house. Soulful R &B blasts while I’m doing my hair. I perform dance sequences and sing along to my favourite Hip Hop joints in the shower. Alternative rock music wails as I’m driving. Motown hits swirl through my mind with the story ideas I’m typing on to my laptop. Pop songs bop my head while my students complete a writing exercise. It can be said that music is in my daily life. 

Many people have similar experiences with music. Maybe they listen to different genres either way the fact that music is a part of the majority of people’s lives is evident in the Top 40 list, Billboard Music Charts, and the long successful run of music magazines, such as, The Rolling Stone. Music touches everyone. 

Therefore, why wouldn’t my characters have music in their stories? My characters are created from traits I have and from personalities that have entered my life. Basically, they resemble people. And in such, not only do my characters feel love, pain and intimacy (like everyone else), they listen to music. 

Music in a novel can set the mood similar to the scores played in a film. It gives the audience an extra stimulant to what feelings the character is going through in a particular scene. It can also help the reader internalize that emotion since music is relatively popular by its beat and common message.  

There are songs about heartbreak, redemption, having fun, feeling lonely, regrets, and etc. All emotions humans have felt sometime in their lives. Making it relatable which also adds a way for your readers to feel connected to your characters. They can empathize what the character is going through because they themselves have felt similar in those recognizable moments. 

So, add some music to your stories. Give you reader a background sound that strengthens the awareness of the conflict and/or tension in the story. Think of it as a hint to what is about to happen like the ominous music before the killer jumps out in a film or the slow jam that plays at the moment the hero and heroine unite in a Romcom movie.  

Or try creating a soundtrack. Or have a character make a mixtape that follows what they would most likely listen to. 

Adding a musical element to your writing will make an impactful difference in how people read your story. 


For ideas check out my YouTube channel at  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCm30hEYSEt8Ji27AOT5ICVw     

Subscribers to my newsletter get special offers and exclusive extras. Click to subscribe.  

Also, don’t forget to leave a comment about how you use music in your life and/or in your writing.

Could You Be a Writer? 10 Ways to Know If You Are a Writer.

writingPeople have dreams of being a firefighter, a famous actor or singer. They imagine the enjoyment of being excited to work every day, instead of slumping out of bed to do a job they have no interest in. A job that pays the bills. Not everyone gets their dream job. Not everyone knows what they are meant to do in life or what really makes them happy to go to work. One way to find out is by exploring your habits and interests. Could you be a writer?
The questions below explore the possibility of this field of creativity. Your personal answers will reveal if this is the right path for you.

1. Do you have a notepad or some paper and pen next to your bed stand?
If you have these items resting by your bed, you are a person who has ideas that you must jot down in the middle of the night, before bed, and when you wake up. You can’t let those ideas go. You may use them for a future story or use them to help improve the novel you are working on now. Either way, that pad by your bed is a clear sign that you are a writer.
2. Do you imagine alternative endings to books, TV shows, or films?
After you read a book, watch TV or come from the cinema, your mind plays around with better ideas to end a storyline that you had been somewhat enjoying until the middle or end of it. You think that could have been so much better if they had done this instead. Writers think of how to revise a story.
3. Have you ever read a book and thought you could do better?
In an eBook enterprise of self-publishing that has exploded in the past decade, readers will come across some crappy novels. (I hope I’m not in that category.) These books will lack substance, have predictable outcomes, and cheesy dialogue. Basically, a step below watching a made for TV movie from Hallmark. If you have been exposed to such horrendous writing, you may want to write something to show up other authors.
4. Are you thinking about a book idea?
Everyone has a unique story that springs from their own individual experiences. Novels are a manifestation of what has happened mixed with what could have happened. You could have an idea for a book that with time and patience can turn into a great novel.
5. In passing moments, do you think about how to work out a storyline or scene?
Whether you are stuck in traffic or having a cigarette outside on your porch, if you find yourself imagining what your character will do to carry into the next plot point or how the story can turn into a book, then you must be a writer.
6. Do you write down interesting names and research baby naming websites when you are not expecting a little one?
You’re not having a baby but you are looking up meanings of names. Nicknames and popularity rank of names that you find interesting are playing across your mind. You watch the opening credits of a show and think “Wow that person has a good last name”. Some writers have trouble thinking up the right name for their characters. What name will be suitable to portray the awesomeness of this person that had been plaguing their thoughts? Authors use search engines to spark this inspiration for that name their readers will remember forever.
7. Do you daydream about characters?
When you have an idea of a person, you think of how they would respond to a certain comment. Wonder how they would act in normal or abnormal situations. How they would dress and gesture. Their background. The way they enter a room. These and many other scenarios authors find themselves creating in the cervices of their imaginations.
8. Do ideas come to you when you are people watching?
Say you are sitting on a park bench or in line for the cashier at a store. Look around you. People are interacting. They give the quiet observe plenty of ammunition to use in a story. Lots of times writers will find themselves eavesdropping into a public conversation and thinking “I could use that in my book”.
9. Are you the storyteller in your group of friends or in your family?
During the course of a week or a day, one might find that they are spinning a tale about a person or a fictional event to entertain loved ones. Maybe your lover asks you to tell them a naughty story during pillow talk. Talking about a world/scene where people escape into has become your talent. Use that to begin writing.
10. Do you not remember conversations your partner has said about change of plans for that day or week?
Maybe you missed what was said about an appointment, an asked favor or some assigned responsible. Lately, a few times in the week my husband claims he told me that I’m dropping of kids because he has an appointment or my daughter has to have a certain item that day for school , etc. And I have no reconciliation of this conversation. Nothing rings a bell. All because as he was talking while my mind was occupied by a story. When the story becomes an obsession you might need to write.
So, could you be a writer? If you answered yes for most of these questions, you are on your way to being a potential writer. Don’t quit your job. Explore your talent in this. Jot down some notes. Try writing out a plot. Write a novel. Get someone to read it. Then, revise and edit the crap out of it. Check out my earlier blog, Turn Your Story Ideas into a Novelfor help.
If you answered no, to most of these. Then you know writing may not be for you. Explore something else. What do you enjoy doing in your free time? How can you make it a career out of it?

Leave a comment about your own ideas of what makes a writer.
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How to Write a Review in 5 Minutes

adult-books-business-374016Reviews are important. Most people read reviews to help influence their decision. Should I buy this type of iPad or stay in this hotel? How have others felt about this movie or restaurant? Is this product of entertainment worth spending my hard earn money on? Seeing others’ viewpoints towards the desired item can weigh in on a purchasing decision.  

Think about how many times you have asked a friend or family member, if you looked good in a particular outfit you were trying on before buying it. Or when you look at printer features from 10 different printers, how do you decide which is best for you? From other people’s opinions, right?  In fact, that’s what a review is: someone’s opinion.  

Yet, how do we write a review? For some, it comes easy. I liked it or I didn’t like it and here are the reasons why. Simple, isn’t it? Some people still don’t feel confident in doing this. To help, below I have created a guide to make writing a review even simpler: 

Firstly, the essential parts of a good review are that it should: 

-have a short title; 

-a introduction telling the readers what you are reviewing; 

-a relaxed, friendly style; 

-a new paragraph for each point you make; 

-both positive and negative opinions; 

-reasons or examples to help explain these opinions; 

-and a recommendation in your conclusion. 


Well, how do I express these points? Here are some sentence starters to help get you to start writing that review: (Use them or tweak them to suit your style of writing.) 

1st Paragraph -INTRODUCTION: 

I had been waiting ages to (see/read/visit…pick your verb) (Name of what you are reviewing) and when I got the opportunity it gave me a lot to consider for this review, both good and bad! 

2nd Paragraph- SUMMARY  

(What is it about? Who is in it? Or what does it do? Or what did you see there?) 

The story was based on…. 

The film relates the story of… 

The book is about… 

The main theme…. 

There are many memorable characters including…. 

The place has… 

The restaurant serves..   

3rd Paragraph- YOUR OPINION 


The thing I really enjoyed/preferred most was… 

I was pleasantly surprised by… 

What pleased me above all….. 



What I disliked most was…. 

I was really disappointed by/with…. 

What I found hard to believe…. 


4th Paragraph- RECOMMENDATIONS  

I would/would not recommend this…..to everyone/anyone, even… 

Although I  am not a fan of……, I suggest that you (pick a verb) it. 

If I had to (pick a verb) this…(Name of thing you are reviewing)..again, I  definitely say that it would be a waste of time/worth it.  


And you’re done! You can use these sentence starters to help you get into the flow of writing a few reviews. The format will come like second nature. Soon you will be using your own words to type out your opinions of products and/or entertainment. 

Don’t take your opinions for granted. People care about your perspective and if you style it right, they will listen to it. 

For examples of reviews I have written, go check out my blogs: Black Love Review and Why Supporting Other Writers’ Novels Can Be Extremely Useful. 

You can also look to any webpage that sells products. Get familiar with other people’s reviews, then write your own. 

Happy writing. 


Do you read other reviews how do they help you make a decision? Have you written reviews before? What do you like to review? Leave your answers in the comment section below. 


13 Story Ideas that are RARELY Used in Novels and/or Films


Coming up with story ideas can be nerve racking. You may have tried looking at pictures or listening to music, etc. Perhaps, you’ve read my previous blog on story ideas, but still cannot get inspired.  (Click on story ideas to read the previous blog.)

Want something fresh? Something new? Are you desperate to have a different take on a story that will get readers talking? I have some awesome story ideas about topics rarely written about.

When a writer spins a story about a subject which people don’t really explore, it can create a new niche. Or, at least seems original. The important thing to remember is NOT to stress yourself out on being original or new wave. The fact is that in this day and age nothing is completely new or original.

antique-guatemala-house-1202952There is a saying in teaching pedagogy: “Why reinvent the wheel?” It means there is no reason to stress yourself out when using a method that already works. The wheel has been around for ages and it has always function the right way without any need to reconstruct it. It does its purpose, nothing else can do what it does better.

Keep in mind, you can decorate the wheel. Put some spinners on it to make it look entertaining, but at the end of the day, it is still just a wheel that functions like all the other wheels. Most stories are like this. Your unique writing voice and telling of the story gives the tale its glitter.

Styling your novel in an original way can give you more popularity and prestige. Wicked, for example, is the simple retelling of an old story. Again, Gregory Maguire didn’t recreate another wheel. His style simply bejeweled it with a rich retelling of the story from a different point of view.

So, let’s get that glue gun heated up and lay out some precious stones. Below are ideas that range from genres of romance, crime, and fantasy. However, with a little twerking, any idea can be modified into the desired genre you are writing in. Or, shake yourself out of your routine and try another writing style. Maybe it will knock some creativity through to get you writing again.

Here are 13 story ideas:

  1. High class prostitute falls for average man but refuses to quit her job. Write about the trouble and turmoil their lives go through as they try to make this relationship work.
  2. Mythology is always a good “go to” resource. I think it is time for someone to write about the relationship between Hades and Persephone. Plus, a pushy mother-in-law that demands to see her daughter 6 months out of the year must have a story to be told.
  3. For Shakespeare fans: Write about Mercutio’s heartbreak. Someone must have done a number on him. How else could he deliver the most powerfully, riveting speech about anti-love?
  4. Black market crime syndicate provides certain individuals a virtual reality experience of murder/theft/crime for the right price. For one individual, things get out of hand after he experienced his wife getting murdered.
  5. An out of work manager at a daycare decides to use her new free time to reprogram her husband’s bad habits. Her experiments based on child psychology training has her reshaping her husband into her idea of the perfect man.
  6. The story of the fictional secret lover of (name that dead person).
  7. A family escapes a Japanese Internment Camp during World War II. How did they do it? What happened after their escape?
  8. Woman has psychic link to objects. Every time she touches an object she sees the history behind it, such as, who has touched it and what it was used for.  When she touches (name that object), she sees an unsolved murder. The police don’t believe her. It is up to her and her blind neighbor to find the killer and put him to justice.
  9. Navy man is in training to be a US Seal. One problem: he is having an affair with his commanding instructor.
  10. Writer falls for the recurring hero/heroine of her/his book, then character comes to life. How can a fictional character stand up to real life situations? Does the writer still desire her/his character when there is laundry to be done and no one has washed the dishes?
  11. A husband is a closeted homosexual who is leading a double life. He stays in an unhappy marriage but he goes out at night to satisfy his true nature. Soon his teenage son comes out to him. Will the husband have the courage to reveal his secret? How does that affect the family?
  12. Pregnant girl finds out her baby daddy is an alien. Her child could be humanity’s savior or destroyer.
  13. Some more Shakespeare with a twist: What about King Lear in a Sci-Fi version? Three half human, half dragon daughters battle over their kingdom in the wake of their father’s “terminal illness”. In fact, their father is playing sick to see who should have the crown and who really loves him.


I hope these story ideas get some of your creative juices flowing. Once you have the idea you like, read my blog “Making Your Ideas into a Novel” for further help on writing your story.

Tell me what you think about the ideas or add some ideas of your own in the comment section below.




Why Supporting Other Writers´ Novels Can Be Extremely Useful


One big aspect of improving your writing craft is by reading other authors´ works. Preferably, the genres you write about, or at least are interested in.

Seeing your craft through the eyes of others helps develop your own skills. Maybe, you have trouble with characterization or dialogue. Reading the examples from fellow successful authors can guide you to turn your words into a perfect rhythm of writing.

Take a further step and review what you’ve read by them. Authors appreciate all types of feedback, good and bad. Comments about their work help authors think of ways to improve their own style.


Based on your review, readers may try reading that particular book. Leading them to another novelist could prompt readers towards you. If readers share your opinion of that book, they will think your books will be just as entertaining as the other writer´s. The company you keep scenario, right? Also, you never know. An appreciative fellow writer may write a review for you. Let the back rubbing begin!


Help your fellow community by reading different authors’ stories, sharing your thoughts, and recommending writers to others


Now on to my review:

Click image to buy book.


M. Malone and Nana Malone have done it again in Deep (The Deep Duet Book 1). Rafael DeMarco is trying to get his life on a normal course as he is reintroduced into his little sister’s life and family. He tries hard to shake the demons of his past but a missing jewel keeps him under the radar of his old government employment. The target on his back grows bigger when he comes in contact with Diana Vandergraff. Diana is a woman focus in avenging her father, who happened to have been murdered by Rafe. Pretending to be a damsel in distress, Diana gets Rafe to play right into her hands. However, with all Diana’s scheming, she is starting to fall deep into the role Rafe believes her to be. And Rafe is beginning to not understand life without her in it. Leaving the reader to see that maybe both have gone in too deep.

The thing I enjoyed most was the inner monologues the characters had with their conscious and sometimes their libido. These lines had me cracking up, such as:

“So not the right time to realize she was cute and smelled amazing. Focus, man.”


“How evil can he be? He stopped to help a total stranger . She shut that shit right down . That was her traitor of a vagina talking.”

I loved how real it made the characters. They are similar to thoughts I’ve had or shared with my girls. I was pleasantly surprised by how this bonded me to the main characters while was a big catalyst to motivate my reading.

I also really enjoyed the steamy love scene. They were hot like fire! Ohhh child! They were something else. I still waving the fans of those flames.

There isn’t much I can say that was bad about this novel. If I had to point out a flaw, it would be Rafe’s constant presence in the apartment. Yeah, at times he did leave but for short periods at a time. Didn’t he have a security job to do? Also, for a dangerous man, I felt there should have been more scenes of tension to show how dangerous he could be. A little more showing, then telling in this part of his character.

Either way, I would recommend this book to romance readers who love a dangerous man with talented hands and holds a soft spot for saving women from trouble (whether it be real or imaginary).

Turning Your Story Ideas into a Novel

abstract writing

Now you have a story idea. Your excitement grows while you wait for the computer to load the word document, where you will type your new story. The white page pops up and it is as blank as your mind. You have an idea but you don’t have a clue on how to develop it into a story. 

This can be very demotivating and a waste of time. Luckily, I have a way around this mental obstacle. When I worked as an English teacher in Northern California, one of my favorite units was creative writing. I would break the writing process up into weeks to give students time to develop a short story. The first week the class conducted various brainstorming techniques to get their story idea. The following week was dedicated to structuring that idea. A technique I am going to share with you. 

Welcome to the How. Whether you are a pantser that writes where the inspiration takes you, or a plotter with organized structures, the most successful way to completing a novel is having an outline. Nooooooooo!!!! 

boy yelling

Calm down. It doesn’t have to be that serious or that difficult. You don’t even have to stick to it if you don’t want to. Think of your story outline as a road map to destination: novel completion. And like most road trips you can take detours, or alternative routes.  

An outline won´t stop you from discovering hidden roadways. This fun experience, that the secret inner pantser in me loves, can heighten your experience of the trip while successfully getting you to where you need to be. All with the help of having an outline to help steady you back on your course. 

I will discuss the two ways to go about making an outline for the pantser and the plotters. Feel free to omit steps in the plotter if you want a less constricted plan. Either method should ensure a finished novel. The length of time to completed it will entirely depend on you discipline of finding time to write it. 

Finding the Plot 

First, I should point out the plot. Every story has a simple plot line to follow. You need these points to make a strong story. You can’t just have your characters hanging out at a coffee shop talking. Actions and dramas must happen for the reader to want to read on. 

Let’s breakdown the plot structure in this chart. (I love visuals!) 


Okay, so that is the foundation of any story. The creative writing tricks of foreshadowing, characterization, rich description, theme, irony, etc are weaved throughout this structure. In another blog, I will address these techniques. 

Now let’s look at the different approaches to creating an outline. 

The Method  

You notice that the main theme in a plot is a problem and its possible solutions. In order to make problems, the writer and reader must know a little about the character. 

Step 1: Write out a character sketches. 

  • This can be of your protagonist and your antagonist. Or if it is a romance, the two people who are to fall in love. 
  • Keep it simple. Below is a sketch to use.  
  • Name: 
  • Profession: 
  • Hometown: 
  • Current Location: 
  • Inner desire: (Motivates character to continue through obstacles/solve problem in story) 
  • Outer desire: (Motivates character to continue through obstacles/solve problem in story) 
  • Physical Characteristics: 
  • Likes and dislikes: 

****For plotters: You can modify it to add more. Write quick notes about each one. Include possible information: the character’s family history, past lovers and love failures, ambitions, list of favorites from food to color, their go to outfit (=clothes they normally wear), free time activities, thoughts when first met antagonist and/or love interest, etc.  

Also, researching things like name meanings, characters likes and the setting can help you get a more in-depth understanding of your characters’ world, which will come in handy when you are writing. 

Either way you need to know what to write about your character. Plus, you can always go back and add more during the writing process. This is just to get the ball rolling. 



Step 2: Identifying the problem 

What is the main conflict in your novel? What will bring your narrative to life? 

The classic conflicts in the majority of successful stories are: 

  • Character vs. Character 
  • Character vs. Nature 
  • Character vs. Self 
  • Character vs. Supernatural 
  • Character vs. Technology (Ex:) 
  • Character vs. Society (Ex: Animal Farm) 

Both pantsers and plotters should write out the main problem then spider graph the possible solutions. Next, write the possible problems created from those solutions. Here, you have constructed a web of ideas to fall back to when you are stuck. Obviously, the plotters´ web will be far more detailed than pantser. 

This is a good place to do some research about the topics in your story. It may help you come up with more problems and solutions. 

Step 3: Make a Loose Outline 

Following the procession of events set in the basic plot, write quick notes on what scene/actions should take place during each plot point. 

I’ll use the story of Cinderella for an example: 

  • Incident:  
    • Cinderella, sweetie who has evil stepsisters and step mother. Set in a land far away at her house. Conflict/Problem: not allowed to go to ball where prince will choose a wife 
  • Rising action:  
    • godmother allows her to go to ball but must be back by midnight. Dances with prince and falls in love 
  • Climax:  
    • midnight Cinderella must leave before she turns back. Prince doesn’t know who she is or how to find her but she leaves a glass slipper.  
      • (Here the original conflict is solved but with an added complication: Cinderella got to go to the ball but the prince can´t find the bride he has chosen. Now, it´s the prince´s problem, not Cinderella. Her conflict was resolved. In the falling action, we see the aftermath of her resolved conflict.) 
  • Falling Action:  
    • Prince has all the females in the land try on the shoe. Stepmother breaks shoe. 
  • Resolution:  
    • Cinderella has the spare shoe. Marries prince. 

This can be as detailed as you would like, pantsers. Plotters will probably write over 2,000 words in this section alone. Take the day to do this. Come back to it until you have a loose guide. 

****For plotters: Let the plot line you have created marinate for a day or two. Later, go back and add more details such as, how the character gets to one plot point to the other; what other characters come involve at those particular parts of the story; connect the path of conflicts arising; etc. 

After a week or less, you should have a strong direction of where your story is going. 

Step 4: Finally, the Hardcore Outline! 

Pantser this is where you will probably leave us. The next step is a method for plotters. But everyone is welcome to try it. 

For each plot point, write notes on a scene that would express the ideas in that point. I’m a fan of the less detail the better but I like to fall back on a general idea. Again, this is up to your discretion.  

Be sure the scenes are in the order you would like the story to go. It is okay if you decide later to switch out scenes or delete/add scenes. This is only guidelines to get you to complete a writing piece. 

now what

What Now? 

Well, write. 

It should take up to a week or more to complete this process of planning. I like to do it over about 5 days then use the weekend for the novel to settle in my head before I start writing.  

Don’t expect a masterpiece. The important part is to get the words down. If you notice that your flow is constantly being interrupted by research, or lack of how to describe something, just highlight a note to yourself to go back in the editing process and fix it. Continue to write without minimal details holding you back. The editing process will smooth out all those bumps later. 


Now you are equipped with a story idea and how to make it into a novel. Good luck! Let me know how it goes. 

Share and/or write a comment below.