ISWG, Science Fiction, and Birthday Greetings

ISWG, Science Fiction, and Birthday Greetings

ISWG, Science Fiction, and Birthday!

Hey, writers. Hope you’re doing well. Today’s post is in response to the Insecure Writer’s Group question: “What do you love about the genre you write most often in?” #ISWG

My answer: what’s not to love? In science fiction, I have aliens, robots, and spaceships. These are shiny objects that I love dearly, but they aren’t the reason I write science fiction. In my journey to becoming a writer, I tried everything from advertising to zombies. I loved the journey and each piece I wrote along the way. But there’s a feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you hit the thing that makes you happiest – and for me, that’s science fiction with a bit of romance.

I love writing what could be the future of humanity. I love inspiring my readers through my characters. I love throwing everything evil and bad at a character and seeing how they wiggle their way out of trouble. I know when I adopt a character they will be dipped in the deep end of the ocean without a safety ring.

I love the books I’ve read in the genre and the writers who make me stretch my imagination. I know you’ve probably had the same experience – reading Robert Heinlein’s Friday, or Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Complete Orisina. When I read The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine, I was swept away to another world where H.G. Wells took over and showed me other possibilities. I remember getting goosebumps the first time I read Logan’s Run. And no science fiction book post would be complete without The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s the book that made me look at towels in a whole new way!

In my novels and work, I want to share what I love most with others – and I hope you’ve experienced that in this post.

Today’s my birthday, and I wanted to say thanks for sharing it and the other days of the year with me. I really appreciate my reader and writer buddies. Keep reading, keep writing, and keep living your best life.

Write on,


DarWrites Logo #2 2017

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

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It’s Time for Writing Alchemy

It’s Time for Writing Alchemy


Hey, Writers! Welcome to 2018! I hope you had a fantastic winter break if you took one – I did! Happy to say that my foot is recovered. Thank goodness for that!

This year, I’m starting out with a bang – I’m participating in a Blog Challenge [and as soon as I’m approved, I’ll add links!], so prepare for a little bit of energy – and I hope it helps you with your writing!

To kick us off, I’m going to set the tone for the year – 2018 is about persistence and finishing things.

I don’t know about you, but I have a huge backlog of projects just waiting for attention – and 2018 is the year we’re going to get it done!

It’s so exciting – I want to encourage all of you to take a look at what you wanted to do this year and add one thing that you’ve tucked away.

I’ve written about game plans before, about setting goals, and more, but I thought something interesting could happen with 2018 – what if we pursued our passion and persistence like a game?

What if we gamify the writing business – turn it into a writer role playing game and level up with each month?

I don’t know about you, but there have been times lately where I’ve doubted myself I’ve been in darkness where I doubted my writing abilities and purpose. Who am I to share what I have?

Even thinking that thought is hard to admit. It’s harder to write and I hesitated when letting it out, but we’re about big changes here and facing our truths.

And the truth is, with each writing struggle, with each new challenge, comes a new opportunity for growth and a chance to reignite the writing passion that burns like embers inside me. I bet you have embers inside you, too. I bet they’re ready to reignite.

So this year, I’m dedicating writing to you. We’re going to be persistent. We’re going to finish things. We’re going to realize that even in the darkest night, stars twinkle. And when Darth Vader had a Death Star, Yoda and his buddies rallied.

So let’s take this challenge and level up our writing and our life – let’s finish things by creating a plan. Let’s encourage each other through actionable steps, and get it done. Because, my writer buddies, we are the only ones who can.

I’m the only person in this whole world who can write The Divantinum Project. And you’re the only person in the world who can write yours.

So buckle up. It’s time to face our challenges with writing alchemy.

Write on,


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DarWrites Top 10 Posts of 2017

You know you love top 10 lists – and here it is – the top 10 posts about writing by writers! You’re a busy writer – and if you missed one, check it out!


 1. Imagery and theme in “Young Goodman Brown and The Minister’s Black Veil”

YGB vs MBV Hawthorne 

2. Pathos, Ethos, and Logos in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart


3. 1,001 Plots to Get You Started

1,001 plots to get you started


4. A Peek Inside a Writer’s Journal

A Peek Inside a Writer's Journal

5. Top 10 Things to Ignite Writing Creativity

 Top 10 Things to Ignite Writing Creativity

6. How to Start Freelance Writing, Part 1


7. Writing Prompts from 1,001 Plot Ideas to Get You Started

 Writing Prompts from 1,001 Plot Ideas to Get You Started

8. Rayden Valkyrie: Behind the Scenes by Stephen Zimmer

 Behind the Scenes

9. On the Darkest Hour: When You Think of Giving Up Writing

 On the Darkest Hours

10. Breaking the Rules by Stacey Oberle

 Breaking the Rules by Stacey Oberle


I’d like to thank all my readers and guest writers for their fantastic feedback and contributions! This writer is getting busy on 2018 – and what comes next is going to blow your socks off.

Happy writing!


DarWrites Logo #2 2017

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Gift for Writers: Science Fiction Romance Writing Prompts



DarWrites Touchstones

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A Writer’s Wish List 2017

A Writer_s Wish List 2017

A Writer’s Wish List 2017

Hey, writers and friends and family of writers.

I hope you’re having a fantastic week! As we come into the holiday season, I’ve noticed the emails from parents and significant others of writers have started coming in…so I thought I’d help out and create A Writer’s Wish List. But I didn’t want to make it a normal “get a pen and notebook” post. Instead, I’ve challenged myself to come up with gifts for writers at several levels – from DIY to $$$. Hope this helps.

Happy Holidays!

Write on,



DIY Writer Gifts

Writing Plot Bunnies

Plot Bunnies

Knit your writer a Plot Bunny. Instructions are for knitting, but if you crochet, just make a similar square and you’re good to go. Yes, I’ve had these around since 2009, but a few people asked me what it was and I’ve made new writing buddies since then, so check it out.

A writer’s Christmas ornament. This is cool because you can specify it to your writer and their genre – not to mention they will have something totally unique! Need ideas? Check out Pinterest for some cool DIY ideas.

A Traveling Writer Kit – this is DIY as I have never found one that I loved, so it depends on your writer – ask them what they want in their ideal kit. The cool thing is this can be customized to your writer and to their styles and needs. My writing kit was about $40 if we’re excluding my computer and accessories which I already had. What goes in it? Think journal, pens or markers, bookmarks, sticky notes, index cards…I have index cards everywhere.


Create a jar of writing prompts for your writer. Include writing prompts and mantras. Ideas for inspiration: adventure, fantasy, romance, science fiction. Think about your writer’s favorite books and base writing prompts off of that. For example, I love Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. A perfect prompt would be what would Mr. Darcy be like in today’s society? Would a modern Elizabeth Bennett be interested in Mr. Darcy? [I think I just found my next romance novel]

Writing Reminder Stickers – grab a stack of sticky notes and write “writing reminder” at the top – leave enough space for dates, times, and other notes!

Cork board writing board for inspiration – I love this thing and have two so I can tell you they work.


Writer Gifts Less than $20

The Writer’s Block candle is $19.95 plus s&h.

A Tea Christmas Wreath. Never heard of it? I made two Christmases ago and they were adored. We refill the one we keep every year. Learn how to make a Tea Wreath from With Our Powers Combined [Seriously, the only thing I had to buy for this was the wire ring and tea…so we’re talking about $15 unless you get fancy].

A writer-specific coffee mug like Tears of My Readers. I also saw a cool Snoopy mug at Barnes and Noble this morning. Water bottles work just as well.

Is your writer constantly on the go? Find them something aromatic like Doterra essential oils. I like past-tense, balance, and zen.

If your writer is a tea lover, check out this hand-stamped tea spoon.

There is a really cool, simple keychain that reads Word Warrior.


Moleskine. Moleskine. Moleskine. Did I say it right? Moleskine. I don’t care what anyone else says, a writer needs a notebook and my notebook of choice is Moleskine. I may be obsessed, but it’s an awesome notebook with a hard top that will keep going as long as your writer does. I’ve used them for years. Oh, and if you find another type of awesome notebook, share the love – let me know and let your writer know because the only thing we love more than finding books we love that we’ve never heard of is finding awesome new journals.

Coffee or Tea – depending on your writer – or just get them a gift card to the nearest, friendliest café and they will love you for forever. Want bonus points? Add a bottle of their favorite creamer or a bag of sugar…we all need our caffeine.
A yummy candle. I recently got Tuscany Candle’s Sea and Sand candle. It’s inspiring me!

A Buff Headband. Because sometimes we writer need to channel characters be they pirates, people wearing head scarfs in space, or just need to get our hair out of our faces while typing.



$20 – $50 Writer Gifts

A pair of fabulous fingerless gloves from Storiarts. [] The Pride and Prejudice ones are my cup of tea, but your writer may prefer others. The lower part of the arm is tight, but that can be adapted.

If your writer is a reader, check out this cool scratch-off top 100 essential novels chart.

One of my BWFs [best writer friends], Stacey says she’d love a writing totem – a small portable thing to hold onto while she writes. I don’t really have one totem, but if I think about it, I always have lots of toys around – like Snoopy, Woodstock, and my writing trio: Yoda, Darth Vader, and Chewbacca. Although now that I think about it, they aren’t portable, but they are adorable!


Chewbacca, Darth Vader, and Yoda come to inspire during the holidays!


Jewelry. There are tons of cool writing inspiration jewelry out there.

A Book Seat. I love this thing for homework and for reading. There’s a handy little pocket in the back for highlighters, sticky notes, or your charger. It can hold the page for you with a plastic marker that keeps the pages open. And I love the color. It’s purple, how can you not love it? They have many different colors, and when I looked it up again, they have a comic book one. Oh, and if you’re curious about the book on it, it’s Clive Cussler and Robin Burcell’s Pirate.

A gift card to a bookstore or to Amazon. Seriously. I used to think that gift cards were thoughtless gifts, mostly because there is lack of thought in them, but in this case it’s the opposite – you love your writer so much you don’t want them to have just one book under a tree – you love them enough to give them the pleasure of shopping for said book, pawing through pages and pages of them online or in real life, and then buying them. That’s love.

Inspirational toys or books. Laugh if you want to, but I think one of the ways to get in touch with my inner writer is to play. Not into toys? Try a cool game like Bananagrams.


$50 + Writer Gifts

Accessories to the computer are always nice. For me, it’s the Microsoft Surface Pen, Mouse, and Power Cord replacement.

Ooh – a waterproof, shockproof external portable hard drive would be nice.

Glassbaby Votives are pretty and useful in case the power goes out and your writer needs to write by candlelight. Hey, I live in the Pacific Northwest – it’s rainy and windy here.

Kindle. It’s kind of a no brainer – an electronic reader that stores hundreds of novels? You bet. I can even access my library’s book on it via their website.

An Electric Kettle. Because writers need tea. Or a coffee pot…your choice.

A writer’s retreat or conference – either diy or an existing one. I’ve done both and they each have their pros and cons. Hint: writers like starting with local writing retreats because it’s less intimidating than the large crowds. I’ve been to tiny ones and huge ones and it’s easy to get lost in the big ones – so for the first few, go with local ones. It’s kind of like sticking your toe in the water before you jump into a lake. Need inspiration? Check out writing magazines or websites for inspiration.


Happy Holidays!

I hope you choose something awesome for your writer – and remember it’s not the price tag that counts, it’s the love behind the gift! One of my favorite gifts was a portable writer’s kit that a friend made me. Share the love.


Need more ideas? Check out this post: How to Support Your Writer.

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You Could Be Write by E. R. Smythe, notes to a writer from her character

You Could Be Write by E R Smythe and Chris Weigand

You Could Be Write by E. R. Smythe, notes to a writer from her character.

Hi, I am Sir E. Robert Smythe in service to Queen Sage of Gwill. I am her Head Galactic Safety Ambassador, working to help young people to find their way through some of the issues that they may encounter.

In the Lost Detective I help Sam and Zoe learn about homelessness and dealing with grief, but you can read all about that in the excerpts and blurbs in this post. Today I am here to talk about writing. Writing is not my area of expertise, but I am sure that I can offer some aid in this area.

Sir E. Robert Smythe and the Lost Detective

My first suggestion is to not preach to the kids, don’t have adults solve the problems. The author needs to guide the young people without doing for them. Young people in this age group 8-12-year-olds don’t want a parent. They need to solve their own problems. At this stage of their lives they are in a transformational stage on the verge of being a teenager while still being a child. Their minds and bodies are changing and the books they are reading need to acknowledge that without being to mature.

The second suggestion is for the writer to acknowledge that the kids are not stupid.  You cannot talk down to them. They have lived maybe not as much as the author, but they probably know their way around their world better than you. They are real people with real lives. The author cannot diminish what they are going through for though it may seem childish to the author it is not to the young people reading the books. The author must acknowledge this, the reader’s life, issues and problems are as real as any other age group. Look at the world through their eyes of wonder and magic, instead of an adult’s jaded eyes.

Well it’s time for me to wrap this up. Darlene wanted something short and inspirational, I’m not sure I’ve done that, because like I said I am not the author, but I think I have shared some of my wisdom as one of the characters. So, go out, have fun, read a book, but watch out for Morton the Morph and his Panngoes. I try to keep them under control, but Morton has a habit of getting away from me and making trouble. He means well, he just has a bad way of doing it.

Enjoy and I’ll see you soon.

Sir E. Robert Smythe

SIr E Robert Smythe by Chris Weigand

From Sir E. Robert Smythe and the Lost Detective, by Chris Weigand

“All right. Love you mom.” Zoe kissed her mom on the cheek and ran back to the camp.

     She found the book on her cot in the tent and started to head back to the park. Passing the swamp she noticed Morton the Morph, the yellow toad like creature and his small blue pear shaped panngoes playing on the edge of the swamp. One of the panngoes bounced into the swamp.

     “Hey, you guys shouldn’t go in there,” Zoe yelled.

     “Oh don’t worry about them. They’ll be fine, just a bunch of panngoes,” Morton answered as more of the creatures bounced into the swamp.

     Zoe heard some dogs barking and one of the panngoes squealing. “One of them might be hurt. Shouldn’t you go in there and check on them.” She heard another sound, children talking and laughing. “Oh no someone’s coming. I have to hide. Mamma doesn’t want me to talk to any strangers.” The swamp would be the best place to hide, so she followed the panngoes into the swamp.

     One of the bigger ones had fallen in a hole and was calling out for the others to help him. Zoe followed the sound of the crying.



     Sam stomped through the kitchen door of their two-story house. “Some animal dumped the trash cans again. Why does it only happen on the days I have to take out the trash?” He snarled as he grabbed a trash bag and a pair of rubber gloves.

     “Sam, stop your complaining and get it done. We’re supposed to be meeting Hunter and Anna to go to the park for the Reading Club kick-off,” his sister, Bridget said.

     “Yeah, I’d rather head over to the Gullies Swamp soccer field for a quick game of soccer. I’m sure Hunter would too. I’m too old for the reading club.”

     “Well, you can’t do that.” Sam’s dad said. “Didn’t you see today’s paper? They voted to take that field on the other side of Gullies Swamp and turn it into a homeless community while they build some low cost housing for the homeless.”

     “Why the heck are they doing that?” Sam said. “Where am I supposed to play soccer?”

     “The high school field is open and the new field at the park.” Bridget answered.

     “But we always play at the Gullies Swamp fields.”

     “Well I think those fields are creepy. You have to go past the haunted swamp.” Bridget said.

     “It’s not haunted.” Sam said.

     “But you told me…”Bridget said.

     “Bridget, how many times have I told you not to listen to your brother’s stories about the swamp?” Mom said. “He does that just to scare you so you’ll stay away. Sam, finish cleaning up the trash so you can take your sister to the library.”

      Sam grabbed the broom and stomped out the door slamming it behind him.


Sir E. Robert Smythe and the Lost Detective

Can Sam overcome his anger to welcome Zoe and aid in the establishment of a homeless shelter in the community? 

During summer vacation, while Anna and her brother Ben along with Bridget and her brother, Sam are participating in the Summer Reading Adventure at the local library the town council announces that they are building low income housing for the homeless. While the housing is being constructed a tent community has been established on an old soccer field on the other side of a haunted swamp. Sam is upset by this turn of events, but his anger is only beginning.

In the meantime, unbeknownst to them, the girls befriend Zoe, one of the homeless people living in the tents. The girls spend time together tracking down clues supplied by the books they are borrowing from the library that will eventually lead to a prize at the end of the Summer Reading Adventure.

When Bridget and Sam’s grandfather dies in a tragic car accident Sam’s anger increases it is discovered that Zoe’s father was the drunk driver in the truck that crashed into grandfather’s car. The family lawyer reveals in the will that the farm and house have been left to the community to build low income housing for the homeless.

Sam’s anger reaches a boiling point and he directs it at Zoe and hatches a plan to get back at the people he thinks are taking away everything he holds dear.

Muse It Up Publishing





Christina Weigand is a writer with more characters in her head than she knows what to do with. Her mission is sharing the Word of God with readers of every age. Her favorite color is purple and she loves drinking tea while writing.



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CTWS: The NaNoWriMo 2017 Edition

Coffee Talk & Writers Secrets NaNoWriMo 2017.jpg

Coffee Talk & Writers Secrets: The NaNoWriMo 2017 Edition

Hey, writers! How is it going?

I bet you’re writing and editing a storm.

I’ve been dealing with a lot of challenges lately – the biggest of which is a foot which constantly sends pain racing through my body. The way that I deal with it is like any other writer – I focus on something else.

For me, that is the world of The Divantinum Project and its characters. Yeah – if you’re not new here, you’ve heard me babble about TDP for well, forever. It’s the all-consuming project that soaks up my writing time. But the thing is, this November, I’ve dedicated to two things: (1) finishing the first novel which is in an editing stage right now, and (2) drafting Shadow’s Light: TDP Book #4, aka my NaNoWriMo project.

Yes, that means another year of NaNoWriMo! [I think I just heard half of my friends cheer and the other half groan.] I know there are mixed feelings about NaNoWriMo, but I have to admit that I’m a steadfast loyalist who writes by the seat of her pants.


In fact, to gear up for this month’s NaNoWriMo shenanigans, I cleared the decks, swept the cobwebs from the series, and refilled my entire writing bag. I was all geared up…and there are so many events which are happening this month, I felt prepared for anything. Well, anything but my foot in a boot. [Let’s not go there on that saga.]

So I am writing from the comfort of my hobbit hole…here in the Pacific Northwest while rain patters outside the window, dogs snore under the desk, and it’s nice and quiet…until a fly goes by and the Karma dog alarm goes off. We even had a few snowflakes yesterday. She barked at them too.

Can I share a few of my favorite touchpoints this prep time? I think you’ll like them.

I started NaNoWriMo in 2006 and did one novel per year – not including the many April, July, and other month frenzies I had over that time – wow. Yeah, I’ve been doing this for what feels like forever. I started as many do, with John Anealio’s fantastic song which references both writing and Dr. Who: “I Should Be Writing.”

I then moved onto an updated version of the NaNoWriMo Song by Kristina Horner.

I pulled out Stephen King’s On Writing and Chris Baty’s No Plot, No Problem. And then I really geeked out when I learned that Grant Faulkner wrote Pep Talks for Writers. I spoke with my writing buddies – and agreed with a few that we were going to check in with each other for mutual encouragement.

I created a list to help you focus.

How to be focused during NaNoWriMo

  • Turn off all electronics that you aren’t physically using to write
  • Create a soundtrack for your novel – top seven songs
  • Coffee or tea – find a beverage that works for you
  • Clear your workspace
  • Create a door sign/door decoration that allows others to know what you’re doing and why it’s important.
  • Sit your bum in the chair. Make words.
  • Repeat step 6 until your arranged writing time is done.
  • Rinse and repeat as often as needed

And then I created came up with an unorthodox tip list for you for NaNoWriMo.

  1. Pen and paper, keyboard and fingers.
  2. Writing buddies – you’re going to have an emergency at some point during the month. Have a writing buddy to turn to because they will be your support group when all the other normal people in your life will look at you like you’re crazy.
  3. Fruit and vegetables. Don’t go with junk food – be a clean eats nut who drinks her coffee and eats her salads.
  4. Give yourself permission to write something horrible. Because then you’re going to write with no restrictions – and you’re going to get something deeper and more interesting than you would otherwise. This means you will need to edit – and I mean a lot – but it’s worth it. Trust the panster [novelist who writes by the seat of her pants in the first draft to get the interesting stuff out].
  5. Keep in mind this is a first draft. This is not a finished piece. This is the first step on the path of being a writer.
  6. Write. Seriously – sit down and do your work. In the end, this is the only one that matters – everything else is optional.

I dabbled with the idea of how procrastination can help you be a writer, but then procrastinated on the post so it isn’t ready for this week.

DarWrites Wordle 2017

I did create a list of my mobile bag:

  • Container of some sort – like a messenger bag or a backpack
  • Laptop, charger, and accessories
  • Moleskin notebook and pens
  • Post-it notes
  • -Chapstick and lotion
  • Water bottle
  • Coffee and/or tea container

I made a “Heart of Divantinum” graphic while waiting at the doctor’s office.


Hope these little bits of information help – and I hope that you’re working on the novel that makes you happiest! Keep going, writer!


DarWrites Touchstones

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Anagnorisis and Peripeteia in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Anagnorisis and Peripeteia Curious Incident

Anagnorisis and Peripeteia in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Curious Incident

The heart of Mark Haddons The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is a detective story, but the novel isn’t only about the detective story; it’s about the remarkable boy who solves it, Christopher John Francis Boon, who “know[s] all the countries of the world and their capital cities and every prime number up to 7,057” (2). Some writers create plot twists that are easy to solve, but Haddon creates a character that overwhelms the reader with knowledge naturally that helps to bury all clues. Haddon creates a situation as unique as his character and enables the reader to discern the plot twist only when Haddon wants to.


He sets up the plot as a typical detective story with a crime and several suspects, but the detective in this case is a fifteen-year-old mathematician with behavioral problems (6-8). As in any good detective story, the character eliminates the obvious and redirects suspicion on the next potential offender (30-31), but the setup isn’t the focus here-the clues after the setup are important. Seemingly out of nowhere, Haddon introduces a curious clue: a box full of letters in Christopher’s father’s closet (93). The letters, he finds out, are from his mother, and tell of why she left his father (104-112). Haddon steers the camera lens of the story where he wants to go, to Christopher’s father, who reacts violently to finding out Christopher snoops (114). This leads to the father talking with Christopher and admitting the shocking revelation that he “killed Wellington” (120).

The word anagnorisis comes from the Greek, and according to the Encyclopædia Britannica means “recognition” and “a startling discovery that produces a change from ignorance to knowledge” (anagnorisis). Christopher sees this as a betrayal; to him, if his father could kill a dog, he could potentially kill him too (122). Haddon shows the way Christopher thinks things through logically and makes links without connecting emotions. To Christopher his father may kill him “because had told a lie about a big thing” (122). So it looked as though it was one character (Mr. Shears) (58), but really it was Christopher’s father (122). Haddon cleverly executes clues into the general mix of facts that run through Christopher’s head so that the information just appears as part of the facts. No one recognizes who did it until the outburst. 

Haddon completes the plot twist by using peripeteia, or “an ironic twist” (peripeteia). Instead of completing the normal expectation of a detective novel such as the bad guy going to jail, Haddon follows Christopher through his logical course of events: stating a question, finding several possible answers, and eliminating all but the most logical (130-131). This creates an interesting story situation because Christopher determines the best thing to do is “going to London to live with Mother” (131). The book takes a decided turn of events as Christopher runs away and travels via train to London (137-190). Haddon completes the twist by following it to a logical conclusion: the Mother moves back to the town Christopher grew up in and leaves her boyfriend (213-214). Again, Haddon turns away from expectations—a family reconciliation, or another pat answer—and goes for a reasonable conclusion—the separation of the family, but the idea that both family members are still in Christopher’s life (220-221).

Writers can learn from Haddon how to create an incident and twisting the expectations and the outcome to a new, original place. By weaving the story in the way he did, Haddon creates a story that approaches more universal tones like family life, and runaways. By itself the story of a math genius who solves a puzzle would be good, but Haddon takes his story to another level by creating an original line of thought and following it through to an unusual end.

I rate this as a three star book. starsstarsstars


Works Cited

“Anagnorisis.”Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 8 Jun. 2016. 

“Peripeteia.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 8 Jun. 2016. 

Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. New York: Vintage Books, 2004. Print.


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Thank You, Readers!

Oh, my sunshine! Thank you, readers, for making DarWrites a fun place for writers! I really appreciate the traffic and the feedback I’ve received from this site!

Thank You Readers

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My Top 11 Favorite Anthropology Topics

My Top 11 Favorite Anthropology Topics


My Top 11 Favorite Anthropology Topics

Darlene Reilley



I started with archaeology and come back to it every time. If I weren’t a writer, I’d be at a dig site, buried in dirt up to my elbows…and I might still do this. Archaeology rocks (pun intended) because you get to ask questions and touch artefacts that people used – as an archaeologist, you’re the link between cultures long gone and the people today. You get to help people understand that our human lineage is vastly diverse – and that people in the past were adaptive, creative, and intelligent. As an anthropologist, I see the world as we do – with individual cultures and perspectives, but I also see the grander total of who we are and the deep past we share. We are so much more than what we think. I’m not just “Darlene – Irish-British-German-American, daughter of immigrants;” I’m also “Darlene – human – homo sapiens sapiens, child of a massive lineage including people who built the Pyramids, who cultivated tea, and who touched the moon.” How cool is that?



Underwater Archaeology

I chose dirt over water simply because sharks don’t live in tombs…and underwater archaeology is the most expensive field you can get into. Would it be cool to dig and find pirate treasure? Sure, but I can do that on land, too.



Disaster and Recovery

Some people may think this is a bit morbid, but one of the most interesting research topics is disaster. Catastrophes have a way of bringing out the best and worst in humanity – and we can learn so much by studying them…and try to make sure that the impacts of future disasters are mitigated. For more information on this, check out Catastrophe & Culture: the Anthropology of Disaster, edited by Susanna M. Hoffman and Anthony Oliver-Smith from the School of American Research Advanced Seminar Series.



Ancient Sumeria

Out of all the ancient civilizations, the Sumerians were the most interesting. Sumerians invented writing. They started tallying their goods on clay bullae – and from the humble beginnings grew everything you’ve ever read or wrote. This is the place where our concept of civilization began.



Goddess Cultures  

I’ve written whole papers on this topic. And I’m pitching them to publications now.



Ancient Egyptians

The single question I still haven’t answered from my childhood research lies below the Sphynx. There’s a chamber that Egyptologist (Egyptian archaeologist) Zahi Hawass  and others have looked into…and no one has solved it yet. What is the chamber under the Sphynx? Is it a burial chamber, a preparation area, or what? Inquiring minds still want to know. One of the biggest things that makes archaeologists angry is when people destroy cultural finds…and over the last few years this has been happening in Egypt and other places. As writers, this is good information for novel fodder – if you want to break an archaeologist’s heart and get them worked up, have someone loot a museum. Then you can bring in a specialist and work with international organizations and find the goods…and save the day and unite the romance leads in the book…go ahead, we could all write a version of this and not have the same thing. Run with it.



Ancient North America & Hunter/Gatherers

Oh, the simpler (more dangerous) times.



Ancient Greeks

Want a fabulous culture to explore with mythos, diverse sides, several periods to explore, and a historical setting that is one of the best? Take your characters in time or space to a culture similar to Ancient Greece. There’s nothing like it – and they saved a lot of human culture over the years. Between the Greeks and the Egyptians, they pretty much saved a lot of historical records when Europe was in the Dark Ages. I bet there are still caches of knowledge – books, papyrus, or more – in both places.



Lithics and Stone Tools

One of the coolest things that ever happened in an anthropology class happened in archaeology. Want to create someone who is totally amazing and will wow the students? Create an archaeologist who flint knaps. Here’s a link: I’m not kidding when I say this is one of the coolest things ever – one three-hour class made me want to skip out and drive over two hundred miles to fetch a bucket of special rocks. This is the allure of the dirt…and your archaeologists will never have clean hands – unless they’re attending a function and trying to impress patrons (and even then it will only last until they dig the next day). I have yet to meet an archaeologist who keeps nails painted for more than a day – most don’t bother.



Biological archaeology – bones bones bones

You knew it was going to come up. My favorite room in any anthropology building is the basement lab at PLU. I created a similar room for my novel. Here is the perspective Gaea took on it:

Zavier was a three-story brick building built in 1937 and rebuilt after the tsunami. My haven was the basement anthropology lab that covered half the floor with ten rectangular tables arranged in a horseshoe around Dr. J’s desk at the front of the room. Two chairs sat at each table. Floor-to-ceiling metal cabinets were stacked with boxes to the brim. When I had extra time, I cataloged the items for Dr. J.

The wall opposite the door held massive wood cabinets with roll-out drawers from floor to ceiling and two glass cabinets. Inside the first cabinet were Native American artifacts gifted to the department. The glass cabinet next to it was the reason most people avoided the room and a few were attracted to it—the cabinet of skulls from Australopithecus afarensis to Homo sapiens. Skulls were cool! Where else were you going to see not only what we’re made of, but how? I’m talking Darwinian evolution here—it’s the coolest thing ever. Dr. J. dug all over the world, but before I knew her she was an Archaeologist specializing in Ancient Greece and Ancient North America.

I loved the room because of the cabinet’s contents. The skulls were from Physical Anthropology 101. The plaster copies of real skulls were created for study and given to the department ages ago. The first was A. africanus, found in Laetoli, Tanzania, the maker of the Laetoli footprints and the one they call Lucy, the most famous skeleton anywhere, with broad cheeks, huge eye sockets and brow ridges, and a small skull. A. aethiopicus followed, from Ethiopia, with wide cheek bones and smaller brow ridges than afarensis; the main difference was the sagittal crest—a large Mohawk ridge on his head. Pieces from A. gardhi and A boisei kept each other company—neither was a full skull. A. robustus had smaller eye sockets and brow ridges, a bit of a sagittal crest, but a less wide face and smaller nose cavity. Homo rudolfensis followed, the first who kind of looked like a human skull if you squinted. H. habilis, aptly named the “tool maker” was next, followed by H. ergaster. H. erectus followed, the first hominid to use fire and the guy who left Africa. Then came H. neanderthalensis—short, stalky humanoids who buried their dead and used tools which showed how sophisticated they were. Next on the shelf was Homo sapiens, the first of the modern humans who roamed from 1 million to about 100,000 years ago, and then the Homo sapiens sapiens, modern humans. Next to the modern human skull sat a Gorilla skull for comparison. Through the glass-front case, I saw him past my reflection. I was totally not a Pan.

Two full skeletons stood in front of the cabinet, waiting to greet the students. The male wore a bow tie and fez and the woman wore a bracelet of gardenias and a gold and black woven lei. At the back of the room was a bank of airscreens and behind everything, a solid row of bookcases rimmed the room. A few computers from the last century sat in a cardboard box with other antiques. The Divanitnum Project



Concept of Deep Past

I mentioned this briefly above, but it can’t be understated – our human lineage is more diverse and interesting than most people give us credit for. I’ve heard it in many ways, but the one I react to the worst is “stupid ancestor.” People think that just because a person is a hunter-gatherer or lived a long time ago, they didn’t have as much intelligence, passion, or heart as we do now. That’s a deadly mistake. Especially if you’re character is a person who travels to another country or planet. Literature is riddled with people who “stepped in” the same fallacy of reasoning –  and paid the price. If you learn one thing from this, please let it be this: people in the past were smart. They created everything from art to literature. Give them the respect they’re due.

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