Guest Post: “Text or Texture,” by Roger Leatherwood

The next guest blog post comes courtesy of Roger Leatherwood. Roger and I share a common bond, in that we’ve both made a decision, later in our lives, to follow our muses and take this writing bug that’s been nagging us, taking us further and possibly someplace better.

We also share a mutual admiration for Miami Vice; as some of you are aware, this blog partially takes its name from what I think is the show’s best episode, “Out Where the Buses Don’t Run.” Okay, maybe not the best episode, but definitely my favorite. Roger believes some of the episodes of the first season, such as “Evan,” “No Exit,” (the one with a pre-Moonlighting Bruce Willis memorably playing a sadistic arms dealer), and “Calderon’s Return, Parts 1 &2” are better.

I’m inclined to agree. We also agree the show took a nose dive after Season 3, but it did get better in the final Fifth Season, when Sonny Crockett went rogue for a while, having suffer amnesia and believed himself to be his undercover alter ego, Sonny Burnett.

Anyway, it was damned good show, and as glitzy as it was in the day, it’s an underappreciated cop procedural these days. It doesn’t get enough credit for reimagining what police dramas could and would be capable of; without Miami Vice, I say, there’s no NYPD Blue. You can quote me on that.

At any rate, Roger’s guest post, “Text or Texture,” follows below; it’s an excellent think piece on the writing process that I think you’ll certainly enjoy. I know I took much from his guest post.

Roger’s bio – Roger Leatherwood worked on the lower rungs of Hollywood for 20 years before giving up and returning to print fiction.  He can be found on



I’ve been writing, like most writers, for about all of my life, inspired most and indelibly when a poem I wrote in 6th grade appeared in the weekly newsletter to parents. I really only became serious about it in the last couple years, and I counted up how much I’ve written and was surprised it already numbered over 250,000 words.


There’s a couple short novels in there but mostly it’s made up of a lot of stories and blogposts that may end up reused in other formats, if I can track characters through and come up with some appropriate endings.


If I keep it up for in another 3 years I’ll be up to a half a million. Unless I just jinxed it by writing this right now – the writer’s block will begin tomorrow morning.


I really started over 3 years ago, with a rush of ideas and feeling for craft and building my written legacy and had stories carefully plotted out ahead of time, about this, and they’ll do that, and the ending will be thus. In the rush to get as many words down as possible, to capture sudden floods of inspiration, I’ve also had those flashes that aren’t fully formed, ideas that come suddenly in the night or while walking the dog, in the shower or at dinner, fertile scenes and frozen vignettes, more impressions than narrative.  I also tried to capture those in their ripe and fleeting birth, discovering what they’re really about as I write then out, teasing the nuances by nailing it down. Sometimes they have no endings and they remain unfinished. Sometimes a phrase or a paragraph fits into something else, a good workshop.


Some stories magically form complete in an afternoon and I look at it, perfect and strange and I say – who’s is this? Others I struggle over for 6 months, changing the ending, cutting the first 4 lines, going from third person to first, adding 1000 words to the middle. It’s all careful negotiations between the moment of inspiration at the flush of birth and the craft, the 99%, the years since 6th grade, the 250,000 words.


All practice, mindlessly or word by stubborn word, early before coffee or after a couple scotches. Not only am I figuring out what to say, I’m figuring out how to say what I’m trying to say.


It’s not just text, it’s texture.  The voice, the package.  Stumbling or breezy cant.  Whether its minimalist poetic flash or lush patois-heavy confessional with unreliable narrators at every corner, whether hard-boiled crackle or mannered omniscience, all approaches form my ability to say what I want, in the way that best gets it across.


Some start as very self-serious until I discover they benefit by having a lighter more humorous tone (or, less often, the opposite).  Some seem like they’ll run 6000 words until I break them on the page and they’re done saying what they want by page 4.  Promiscuous adjectives make domestic set-pieces sensual and dense; clipped and terse sentences turn gothic horror into nihilistic assaults.


The gaps between the words are the texture. What’s pointed to that isn’t there, yet obvious for those with an ear. Every writer discovers his “texture,” from Faulkner and his lush tangled metaphors, to Vonnegut with his deceptively casual conversational affect.
I read a wide variety of fiction, but the ones I keep going back to over and over, from O’Brien to de Assis to Poe to Delany to Gibbon, have their own texture that makes whatever they’re writing about enjoyable – what they’re writing about, the actual text, doesn’t matter.


I could go on, but –  I don’t have an ending.

Guest Post: CONTEST! Who Will Write The Next ‘Robert Langdon’ Adventure? YOU! (By Ensis)

The next guest blog is a rather unique guest post, in that it’s both really inventive and it requires reader participation. It comes to us courtesy of Ensis, who wrote this entire guest blog post based upon my takedown of Dan Brown’s writing style; Ensis put together a MadLib-style parody of a Dan Brown novel, and had so much fun doing it, he’s now turned it into a contest. And here’s where the reader participation comes in. The reader that comes up with the best Dan Brown-style MadLib wins a copy of Dan Brown’s newest paint-by-numbers epic, Inferno. More details about the contest below, but you should definitely participate. Hell, I’m definitely going to throw my hat into the ring in this contest, even if I think Dan Brown’s writing is a sign of the Apocalypse.

A little bit about Ensis, before we get started: Ensis is the author of Don’t Read, a book blog which encourages readers to avoid bad books. He is also a seven time winner of National Novel Writing month and enjoys editing his novels a little too much…

Alright, here goes. Have fun with this one, gang!

CONTEST! Who Will Write The Next ‘Robert Langdon’ Adventure? YOU!

By Ensis

Do you want to be as successful a writer as Dan Brown? How about a free copy of his new book, Inferno, with some neat amateur art? Well now you can!
Everybody knows Dan Brown uses a formula to write his books, and who can blame him? Everybody loves Mad Libs! Fill in the blanks of the Mad Lib form below with your funniest Robert Langdon Adventure and post it as a comment or email it to me! The funniest story wins!
The prize is a brand new hardbound copy of Inferno by Dan Brown. And, to sweeten the deal, I will draw a doodle of your choosing on a blank page inside. Once the winner is chosen and the prize claimed, I will buy the book, draw in it, then ship it. The winning story will also be featured in a blog post and have their site linked to, if applicable.
I will add some samples of my art later so the winner can get a feel for my style. I’m best at dinosaurs, but I can also do birds and dragons.
Now some rules!
1. Standard MadLib Rules apply.
2. Deadline is June 30th. Judging period is one week.
3. One entry per person, please!
4. I will draw whatever you ask. ANYTHING.
5. Winner has one week to claim the prize.
6. You must follow my blog. Because seriously, why would you not want to?
Hit the jump to find everything you need to enter the contest. 
Now get writing!

Choose words using this guide:
Robert Langdon awoke in (CITY NAME) and began (INSIPID ACTIVITY). He then met (FEMALE PROTAGONIST), and he could tell by her (VAGUE DESCRIPTION) she was (ADJECTIVE1). 
“Oh, no!” she exclaimed. “Here comes The (SECRET SOCIETY)! They’re out to get (MACGUFFIN) and have us killed by (MYSTERY ASSASSIN WHO IS A CHARACTER WE’VE KNOWN ALL ALONG)! Let’s hurry into that nearby (HISTORIC LANDMARK)!” As Langdon ran with (AFOREMENTIONED FEMALE CHARACTER) he checked the face of his Mickey Mouse [TM] watch. 
“Crap! Is it (TIME OF DAY) already? We’ve only got (NUMBER OF PAGES REMAINING IN BOOK) hours until the (MACGUFFIN) is triggered and (INTRANSITIVE, PRESENT TENSE VERB)!” At last they reached the (AFOREMENTIONED LANDMARK) and hid beneath a (HISTORIC OBJECT) where there was a secret passage. Leaving the (AFOREMENTIONED ASSASSIN) outside the convenient passage, Langdon and his sex object waddled along the passage. Admiring her (PORTION OF FEMALE ANATOMY), Langdon reflected on how much he’d like to (VERB1) his new sidekick, but then remembered his life of bachelorhood, which he keeps telling everyone is his choice. 
When they’d reached the other end of the tunnel, Langdon’s cell phone rang. It was (ESTABLISHMENT FIGURE WHO MIGHT ACTUALLY BE THE BAD GUY BUT MIGHT NOT). 
“Yello?” Langdon answered.
“Langdon! It’s me,” he (NEEDLESS SYNONYM FOR ‘SAID’1). “It turns out, based on my calculations in (BULLSHIT PSEUDOSCIENCE) that the (MACGUFFIN) will (VERB2) us all unless you can figure out the secret code to unlock it, which was engraved on the (LANDMARK).” 

“I’ve got it!” Langdon (NEEDLESS SYNONYM FOR ‘SAID’2). “That (NOUN1) carving on the front of the (AFOREMENTIONED LANDMARK)!”
“What about it?” (FEMALE PROTAGONIST) asked.
“Everybody thinks it’s the unversal symbol for (ACTIVITY). But according to ancient (EXTINCT CULTURE)’s belief from which this symbol originated, it’s actually the universal symbol of (ESOTERIC CONCEPT)!”
“(EXCLAMATION)!” shouted (FEMALE PROTAGONIST). Langdon turned to see she was now pinned by (AFOREMENTIONED ASSASSIN), who was pointing a (NOUN2) at her neck, as though threatening to spill her (CLUMSY METAPHOR FOR BLOOD) all over the pavement of (AFOREMENTIONED CITY NAME).
“Thanks for solving the puzzle, (DEROGATORY EPITHET)!” (ASSASSIN) said. “But you fell right into my (ADJECTIVE2) trap!” He pointed the (AFOREMENTIONED NOUN HE WAS HOLDING) at Langdon. In an Instant Langdon fell on the ground, apparently dead. Then (ASSASSIN) took off his (DISGUISE). 
“It’s (CHARACTER NAME WE MAY OR MAY NOT RECOGNIZE)! Why didn’t I realize it sooner?!” Then she used her (MARTIAL SKILL SHE SHOULD HAVE USED EARLIER) to incapacitate (ASSASSIN) while he was distracted. 
Langdon got up, dusted himself off, and said, “Good thing I only pretended to be dead!” Together he and (FEMALE) seized the (MACGUFFIN) and disarmed it. 
“I would have gotten away with it, too,” said (ASSASSIN), “If it wasn’t for you meddling (PLURAL AGE GROUP)!”
“Well now that’s over, let’s (METAPHOR FOR SEX),” said (FEMALE). 
“Okay!” Langdon (NEEDLESS SYNONYM FOR ‘SAID’3). And they (PAST TENSE VERB) back to (LANDMARK). 

Guest Post: “Things That Make Pregnant Women Cry,” by Gemma Amor

The next guest blog post comes courtest of Gemma Amor, who hails from the UK. She runs two blogs; one, the very funny pregnancy blog Nine Month Bun (no explanation necessary), as well as her business blog, MarketingAmor, in which she, in her words, dispenses “bite-sized marketing advice for businesses.” Gemma’s due to give birth to her first child any day now, so right now’s a good time to feature her latest blog, Things That Make Pregnant Women Cry, as today’s guest post here at OWTBDR.

I can’t help but think of what Gemma is experience and what my wife experienced nearly six years ago with our child. She’s handling her pregnancy the same way my wife did, with equal parts humor and complete aggravation. Trust me, Gemma, it gets better. OH, IT GETS SOOOO MUCH BETTER. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…okay i’ll stop.

Gemma’s bio is as follows: ‘Gemma Amor has been writing for most of her life. She is currently the proud author of eleven unfinished novels, and has set herself the seemingly insurmountable task of actually completing one before the birth of her first child. When not wrestling with manuscripts she is a Marketer who also likes to blog about pregnancy.’

So, without further ado, here’s Gemma Amor’s guest post, Things That Makes Pregnant Woman Cry


woman_crying_mThis post is in honour of the genius, a whole tumblr site dedicated to all the many inconsequential reasons
children cry, and cry, and cry.

I’ve often thought there should be an equivalent site for pregnant women, especially those in the final weeks of countdown when the world becomes
a very frustrating place.

So here are some of the reasons this pregnant woman has been crying this last few days. I did think about illustrating this post with images,
but just couldn’t summon the energy to retreive the necessary usb cable:

Reasons I have been Crying

– All of my food, no matter how carefully chopped, speared and balanced, ends up on my belly.

– I can no longer remember what it looks like between my legs.

– My boobs get trapped beneath my armpits when lying in the bath reading a book.

– I haven’t worn any nice underwear since my honeymoon.

– The Pedigree Chum advert on the telly

– The cups and mugs won’t all fit in the cupboard

– I can no longer sleep due to cramp, hip pain, bad dreams and needing to wee every few hours.

– I am suddenly convinced I am going to be a terrible mother

– I can’t see the pot that the midwives want me to wee in and invariably miss

– I have an extra chin

– It’s sunny outside

– It’s not sunny outside

– My nails look terrible but I cannot be bothered to do anything about it

– I am never going to finish writing my novel

– I can’t go clubbing (I never liked clubbing)

– I can’t wear high heels (I rarely ever wore high heels)

– Suspenders and corsets are an impossibility (No comment)

– I burnt the toast

– I’m cross with myself for crying (again)

– I miss cycling (I gave my bike away years ago)

– I’m worried the baby won’t like Star Wars as much as we do

– I burnt the pasta

– I want a runny egg

– I want a mohito.

– I want to meet my baby.

Sales in bog roll have risen dramatically in my neighborhood.

Guest Blog Post: “Addicted” by Victoria Sawyer

For the inaugural guest blog post, Victoria Sawyer has kindly shared her blog post entitled, “Addicted.” You can read more about Victoria Sawyer at her blog site, Angst, which, not so coincidentally, happens to be the name of the memoir she’s recently published.

Victoria blogs about her past and present struggles with anxiety and depression, and does with equal parts self-deprecation and blunt-force honesty. Her blog is a refreshing departure from the woe-is-me brand of depression-variety blogs that tend to exist in mass numbers in the blogosphere. And she’s damned funny, did I mention that? I’m currently reading her memoir – in flashes, admittedly (sorry, Victoria!) – and I’m struck by her honesty and how she places the reader front and center inside her mind.

In short, a read through her blog is like a read through her mind, a ride through a roller coaster. But she’s going to get you off the ride easy, dear reader. Trust me on this. Anyway, here’s her guest post, and thanks for sharing this one, Victoria.

(And if you want to do a guest post for this blog, just let me know, and we’ll work out the details. Thanks!)



You guys, I have a confession to make: The girl who stands before you, or wait…sits before you…types before you, the girl clacking on the keyboard really fast, no still not right, the girl who is hiding behind the computer monitor, yeah her, she is a blog addict. This is my brain on blog. It’s like PCP or something hallucinogenic, whereby I write really crazy stuff with no shame. Ab-so-freakin-lutely, no shame. Shame on me. Can someone please put out a PSA about this?! I had no idea the dangers associated with frequent blogging and now look at me, I’m 78 or so posts deep after only 5 months. FIVE MONTHS!! You people need to recognize how truly heart wrenching this situation is. It’s sad to see what’s happening to our nation’s youth, or those slightly older than the youth, but who still think they are young. They always used to say you can’t trust anyone over 30. Is that still true? I didn’t just say that dirty word, 30. Erase that from your brain.

See the staring eyes? That’s from squinting at the computer screen for hours on end!
Now, blogging is a problem for me. It’s like these words and thoughts just keep coming into my head and they are so freaking genius that I must share them. I’m not under my own free will here, the blog is controlling my mind. While I sleep, its in there crafting up crazy words and giving me delusions of grandeur. See that, I did it again, I said my posts are genius and we all know that’s not true. They are sad, sad ravings of a loud mouthed malcontent.

The thing is, I do kind of love it. I wish I had found this drug, I mean blogging business earlier in my life because it’s so cool! I get to write stuff and people sometimes read it and leave me with witty repartee. I love that! See, I can blame it on my readers for why I keep coming back. You can be my scapegoat! Why, by the by, are goats used for scaping? I don’t understand that one at all, but I feel cool saying it. So yea, the writer in me is loving to do blog. Shoot up blog. It’s like I can’t hold back. I’ll write a post or two or three and then I just want to publish them! I know, I’m going further and further down the rabbit hole now.

The thing is, I want to hold back because I’m terrified of blog burnout. I’m sure it’s right around the corner, that soon I will have nothing left to write about, that I would have exhausted every conceivable topic and my blog will truly be my word of the week, year, this word is stuck in my head, insipid. NOOOO!!! Anything but that!!! But I can’t stop! That’s the true definition of an addict right? Someone who can’t say no. That’s me. I just keep posting, day after day after day, when I should just stop!

Now the thing is, you guys will still be around when blog burnout inevitably rears its ugly head, right? No?! I knew you were fair weather friends! (colloquialism city! BAH) I can hear you now, “Look at that old blog burnout Victoria Sawyer! You new bloggers can take a lesson from her, she went too fast, posted too much, soared too high and now look at her, lost and alone. No one reads that blog anymore. It’s TRITE!” Sob…SOBBBB!! Is this my cry for help? I don’t know…I don’t know. It’s too much fun right now, it’s pulling me in and I don’t want to stop! If it’s wrong, I can’t be right! Don’t make me stop!

Now guys, don’t get used to this aside-style writing. This is gonna be over soon (at least for ONE post) because I have an awesome SERIOUS blog post coming soon whereby I am going to challenge you to a duel and if you are afraid or chicken or yellow (again two references I just don’t get) I’m gonna say, goodbye and eject you from my inner circle! haha! I kid, I kid. However I am going to challenge you. Me…yup, the girl who is hooked on blog, who needs a DARE program stat. Or in this case a BARE program. HAHA. Blogs Are Really Evil or maybe Blogs Are Really Epic. And guess what? My husband who is completely not cool at all and also older than me (haha honey!) told me that blogging is dead. Wrong! Wrong again! I love being right. Oh and did you know that blogging is a gateway drug to other harder drugs like Twitter? It’s all very true kids, don’t start blogging.

Ok, I’m gonna stop being cliche, after all nothing under the sun is new and I’m just reiterating a bunch of stuff you already knew. Oh and I swear to you, this is my last post for the week. I promise! (Can you really trust a blog addict’s promise?) Pretend I didn’t write that. Now…come back soon to see my challenge. It’s Truth or Dare!! (Gene Simmons tongue!)