March 2016 – Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Month: March 2016

Awesome Resources for Creative Writing: How to Describe Pain

One of the hardest parts of creative writing (for me, at least) is to describe the myriad sensations that flood the human body on any given day.

Think about it:

A twinge in your lower back from too much time spent sitting or lying down.

An ache in your knees from too much high intensity exercise.

A crick in your neck from sleeping in the wrong position.

A dull throbbing in your head from eye strain or stress.

And the list goes on!

Our bodies are flooded with thousands of sensations every day–ranging from “so minor as to be unnoticeable” to “debilitating”. Writing these sensations is surprisingly difficult. You can only say “his head ached” or “a twinge ran down his spine” so many times before it gets boring and dull.

This became a SERIOUS problem recently. As I’m working on Book 4 of The Last Bucelarii series, the main character (the Hunter) is suffering through a couple of days of pretty gruesome torture. I could only think of so many words to describe pain. I found my descriptions getting a bit repetitive.

Thankfully, the internet helped me out!

If you’re struggling with describing pain and painful sensations, here are a few places to check out:

MacMillan Dictionary This is a list of a few pain-related words. They’re mostly adjectives, but they can give you ideas of how to describe pain.

Put Learning FirstAt the bottom of this page is a list of awesome words to describe different types of pain (suffocating, stinging, sharp, shooting, blinding, etc.).

Reference for WritersThis list of descriptions is a bit basic, but there are a few ideas on how to “show” pain instead of “telling”.

Word DreamsThis is a list of 24 ways to describe pain without relying only on saying “it hurt”. There is a lot of “show, don’t tell” descriptions. (Note: Check out some of the other pages for more descriptions…)

Yahoo Answers A few people have given some pretty creative answers to how to describe pain.


Check out these sites for ideas on how to write your characters’ aches and pains without getting repetitive…

Struggling with a Problem? Walk it Out!

How many times have you found yourself wrestling with some problem with your novel? Perhaps your characters just aren’t turning out the way you wanted them to, or you’ve written yourself into a corner and can’t figure out how to escape. It’s a problem I’m pretty sure all writers are familiar with.

What do you do to solve the problem? I usually stop what I’m doing, close my computer, and head outside to take a walk around the block. By the time I get back, I’ve figured out what I need to do. Or, at least I’ve come up with the beginning of the solution.

According to a 2014 study from the American Psychological Association, walking can actually help to stimulate creative thinking and problem-solving! Of the students given creative thinking tasks to solve, 100% of the participants in one experiment increased their creativity while walking. In three other experiments, anywhere from 81 to 95% of participants grew more creative while walking compared to sitting.

Interestingly enough, the walk itself is what sparks the creativity, not the location. The participants who walked indoors had the same amount of creativity as those who walked outdoors. Odd, huh?

This study provides proof to back up what I (and doubtless many others) already knew: walking helps to enhance creative thinking.

Some of the world’s most famous thinkers spent time walking as a means to enhance their creativity, including Shakespeare, Aristotle, Thoreau, Dickens, Kierkegaard, and Beethoven. All of these great minds discovered the creativity-enhancing benefits of walking long before the APA conducted a study to prove it.

If you’re stuck on something in your writing (or in any aspect of life or work), get up, take a walk, and let your mind wander. You’re far more likely to come up with creative solutions to your problem!


What’s your problem-solving secret? Drop a comment below and share the wisdom…


Walking with Shadows 12

Book Review: Walking with Shadows by Luke Romyn

After a couple of weeks, it’s finally Book Review Wednesday again. I took a while with this one because I wanted to give it my full attention. Boy, was it worth it!

Note: I reviewed another book by this author: The Legacy.


Walking with Shadows

A plane crashes in the midst of the Amazon rainforest, leaving only two survivors: Jonas Drake, a wealthy award-winning author, and a terrified young boy named Jeremy.

Walking with Shadows 12

Jonas must find the strength to lead Jeremy through an army hunting them for ransom, predatory beasts, and all manner of perils not found in the concrete jungle he usually calls home. To keep Jeremy calm, Jonas shares extraordinary stories involving magical characters, tales from his early days as an author. Unfortunately, neither of them know what to do when these creations start to come alive in the jungle surrounding them.

Filled with profound characters, this stunning adventure journeys into the heart of a man turned cold by a world he barely recognizes, who slowly thaws while learning to care for someone other than himself.


My Review: 4.5 Stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, thanks largely to the addition of the stories woven throughout. The stories told by the main character were simple and childish, yet they each held a simple lesson that was brought out throughout the book. Definitely the best part, in my opinion.

The character of Jonas Drake was well-written, though I found the antagonist to be a bit too stereotypical. He’s exactly what you’d expect from a villain in this type of novel. No surprises there. The supporting character of Jeremy had a few of the clichéd reactions expected of children (not necessarily the way children actually are, but close enough).

The writing flowed well, and the book held my attention. Despite a few minor flaws (such as failing to describe the terrible humidity of the Amazon rainforest), the book was well-written and worth a read!


Here’s a Taste:

The river emerged beyond a small rise. It appeared much narrower here than back at the lake, and the current seemed faster as a result. Jonas pondered for a moment, wondering if the caimans would avoid the area as a consequence. Nothing triggered in his memory to confirm his suspicions, and he stood frozen with wide eyes and sweaty palms.

A lead ball settled in his stomach at the thought of having to approach that water. The surface was churning as the current rushed over submerged rocks.

Or caiman heads, his paranoia warned.

Ignoring the internal voice, Jonas stepped forward, snapping twigs cracking loudly under his feet as he moved. Crouching down, he picked up a stick the length of his arm and tossed it into the water, staring hard for any sign of a response from a submerged lurker. Nothing reacted.

“There are other ways to get water, you know.”

The tone was old and gravely, nothing like Jeremy’s high piping voice. Nevertheless, Jonas still turned to the boy. “What did you say?”

Jeremy frowned up at him, confused. “I didn’t say anything.”

Jonas gritted his teeth. He knew that voice, but it was one he hadn’t heard for many years. He peered at the trees surrounding them, half expecting one of them to talk once more. Only the sound of wind whistling through branches reached his ears, and Jonas rubbed his hand across his mouth. Taking one last glance around, he took another step forward.

“Why take the risk?” the same voice enquired.

Jonas whirled around. “Who’s saying that?” he demanded.

Nobody answered him.

Jeremy stared up at him, worry creasing his expression. “Are you okay?”

“Can’t you hear that?

“Hear what?”

“It’s…,” Jonas trailed off. “Damn, don’t worry. I must just be getting tired.”

“But who did you think it was?” Jeremy entreated.

Jonas peered around at the forest once more and blew out a frustrated breath. “It doesn’t matter who I thought the speaker was; it couldn’t possibly be him. Now, let’s just focus on safely obtaining some water.”

The trees seemed to lean in toward Jonas as he walked warily toward the river’s bank. Roots curled upward in an attempt to hinder his progress, but he stepped high, beyond their reach. Logic dictated to him these things weren’t actually happening, but they felt real enough at the moment.

Trying hard to push the distractions from his mind, Jonas focused on the water and on the bank of the river. If danger were to erupt from anywhere, those would be the most likely locations.

“Are you okay?” he called back to Jeremy.

“Of course I’m okay. We’re just walking.”

Jonas exhaled a tight breath and tried to remind himself of that fact. They were just walking.The woods around the pair seemed to retract at the knowledge, and the ground became less rutted. Jonas stole a quick glance at one of the trees nearby and breathed a sigh of relief that it looked to be nothing more than a boring old tree.

“Is everything all right?” Jeremy asked, his voice soft. “You’re acting weird.”

“Everything’s fine. Keep your eyes open for caimans or hippos or bitey fish.”

Jonas slowly unscrewed the bottle’s lid and placed it in the pocket of his pants, holding the uncapped container in his hand. The gurgling river rushed by in front of him. Peering down, Jonas tried unsuccessfully to see beyond the surface. Bubbles and sand combined to leave nothing but a churned-up mess, impossible to pierce with ordinary eyesight.

“Here we go,” he whispered.

The clear plastic bottle was gripped tightly in his left fist – if he were to lose a hand, he would prefer it wasn’t his dominant one. Jonas crouched down and paused for the briefest of moments before dipping the neck of the bottle beneath the surface. Seconds ticked by, each one filled with the expectation a giant reptilian head might pop up at any moment and drag him under the murky water. The memory of being dragged underwater by a set of toothy jaws struck Jonas hard, and he jerked his hand back.

Breathing heavily, he glanced at the bottle. Still half empty. He swallowed, knowing he had to repeat the ordeal he’d just suffered. Prolonging it would merely delay the inevitable; if he could accomplish his task now, it would mean that much longer before he had to repeat such a torment.

Sucking up his courage, Jonas slipped the bottle back beneath the water, trying to make as little disruption to the already churning surface as possible. His eyes darted left and right, searching for any indication of the silent predators. Every wave sent shocks through his heart, but he held firm until the bottle appeared to be overflowing.

Jonas tugged his arm clear of the water and darted back from the edge. Pulling the lid from his pocket, he swiftly sealed the container once more. The bottle slid neatly into his pants pocket.

“Well, that wasn’t so hard,” he proclaimed.

“Um, I think we have a problem,” murmured Jeremy.

Jonas spun around, only to find himself staring straight down the barrel of an AK-47.


About the Author:

Publishing his first book, The Dark Path, in 2009 saw it voted in the top 10 horror novels of that year, even though Luke denies ever intending the novel to be classed as horror. Luke Romyn has gone on to become a USA Today best-selling author and is now one of the most popular indie authors in the ever-growing eBook market. He personally completes everything from cover art to final formatting, working tirelessly with editors to refine the best stories possible for his readers. The results are international bestsellers you’re certain to love diving into. Hundreds of thousands of readers can’t be wrong.

Find the book on Amazon:


Find out more about Luke on his

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Awesome Resources for Creative Writing: Celtx

On today’s Awesome Resources for Creative Writing post, we’re going to look at a new tool for writing: Celtx. (Thanks to Jordan Harris for this one!)

You may already use MS Word (like me), or perhaps you prefer Scrivener, Evernote, or some other word processing software. But you may just find that Celtx has a few features that can come in handy if/when you branch out into other forms of writing–i.e. scriptwriting, screenplay writing, comic book writing, etc.

Celtx is a program designed for writing screenplays/scripts, and it’s highly recommended for those who want a cheaper program. The basic software will run you from $10 to $15, though the Plus package will cost up to $250. It comes with a wide range of tools that can help you write scripts, including storyboarding, location features, scheduling tools, and more. It will even format your script according to the typical Hollywood format. There is a free-to-use version, but with fewer options and functions than the pay-to-play one.

While it may be designed for screenplays/scripts, it’s easy to use for writing novels as well. The software can convert stories between formats, and it will save you a TON of time if you decide that your novel/comic book/screenplay would be better in another format.

Celtx has a few features many novel-writers will love, such as:

Digital index cards, which will make it easy for you to organize multiple stories, characters, plots, settings, etc.

Distraction-free full screen writing, which sets the program to occupy your entire screen so you don’t get distracted by anything running in the background.

Writing session timer, ideal for those who have a limited amount of time in which to write, but don’t want to be watching the clock.

Writing progress reports,  which will help you (and any writing partners) stay abreast of your progress on the work.

If you don’t want to spring for the pricier MS Word or Scrivener, Celtx has A LOT of features that makes it a good option for just $15. Definitely worth a look!


When Wishes Become Goals

We all have things we wish we could do. They mostly remain unspoken and in the back of our minds, something we daydream about when we have an idle moment. They never really come to light, but they stay just that: wishes.

Yet sometimes, a wish becomes more than that. We examine it more closely, we begin to give it form, and we may even speak it aloud. Our wishes suddenly become something tangible, something possibly even achievable.

But how can we take those wishes and make them real? Simple:

Larry Elder, the “Sage of South Central”, once said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” While it was meant as a statement on the importance of planning when setting goals, I think it applies in this case as well.

I had always wished I could do something creative. I always told myself, “I think, if I could come up with a good idea, I could be a great writer.” But when it came time to actually put it into action and write something, I never had the time, the idea, or any solid action plan. I kept putting it off, and it remained as a wish in the back of my mind for years.

Then came the day that I decided to put some feet to that wish. I was traveling to visit my brothers for a weekend vacation. I figured, “Why not spend some time writing?” I had a long wait between flights, with hours to kill and nothing important to do. It was the perfect opportunity.

Sitting in the airport, waiting for my flight to leave, I penned the first 1,500 words of a story that has yet to see the light of day (but, by the gods, it one day will!). Over the weekend, I kept working at it in my spare moments, until I had a 13,000 word short story/comic book script. Boom! At the end of a 4-day vacation, I had written my very first something.

I didn’t get much writing done until the winter holidays, a month later. I had spent the month preparing for what I was going to write, but I hadn’t yet figured out how to set aside the time for writing. But over the days off I got over Christmas/New Year’s, I spent a few hours every day to write. Thus was born what eventually became The Last Bucelarii (Book 1): Blade of the Destroyer. Since that day, I have figured out a simple plan that allows me to spend 10 to 15 hours per week writing.  The rest is history…

Why am I telling you all this? To reinforce the truth behind that simple quote. Once you put feet to your wishes and actually create a plan, they suddenly become real and achievable. It doesn’t matter if you wish you could “be an actor”, “go back to school”, or “learn to throw knives”. To translate a wish into a goal, all it takes is coming up with a realistic plan and follow through!



Awesome Resources for Creative Writing: Google Drive

On today’s Awesome Resources for Creative Writing post, I want to talk about a tool that can and will save your life: Google Drive.

As a writer, I have two HUGE fears (aside from the fear of my writing sucking):

Being injured–specifically my fingers/hands/arms–and being unable to type.

Losing my hard work as a result of computer malfunction or human error.

While there is very little I can do about the first fear, Google Drive makes it easy for me to ensure that my second fear never becomes a reality!

Google Drive is a cloud-based storage solution Google offers for free to everyone with a Google account. Google’s interconnectivity makes it easy to use with any Google product, though most people use it in tandem with their Gmail account.

Google Drive provides a “limited” amount of storage space, though at last check, that was 15 gigabytes. For writers, it’s MORE than enough to store every single Word document on our computers a dozen times over. To give you an idea, I have 10,000+ Word documents stored on the Drive, and it currently uses 310 MB.

This means that you have a quick and easy backup for all of your manuscripts–one that doesn’t involve an easily-damaged hard drive, CD, or flash drive. No matter where you are, you can access your stored files, using any device that has an internet connection. You can use the Google Drive website or mobile app, log in with your Google account, and access your files.

This is a MAJOR benefit for people like me who are worried about losing their hard work. It’s happened more than I’d like–a few times, MS Word has malfunctioned and deleted EVERYTHING I’ve written. I’ve lost hard drives and computers more than I’d like, and barely recovered important files. Thanks to Google Drive, I have my files accessible from anywhere.

To make sure I don’t lose my hard work, I back up my writing every two weeks. It’s a simple “drag and drop” process to upload the files, and Google Drive is as easy to organize as your computer hard drive. It’s a handy tool to ensure that I NEVER have to go back and re-write because of some silly computer malfunction or software error.

Want some tips and tricks to help you master Google Drive quickly?

15 Tips & Tricks To Get More Out Of Google Drive on HongKiat

Try these 5 undiscovered Google Drive tricks on PCWorld

20 Tips and Tricks to Use Google Drive Like a Boss on Maximum PC

Is Being a Good Parent Killing You?

Disclaimer: I’m a parent, and being a parent is a highly fulfilling, enjoyable part of my life. I love my kids very much.

Still, when I came across this article, I found it amusing. I’m not going to use it as ammunition against my kids, but it’s still an odd thing to consider.

According to a study from Northwestern University, parents who are empathetic and understanding of their kids’ needs tend to suffer from chronic, low-grade inflammation. They tend to experience their kids’ suffering, leading to reduced immune function.

Now, let me make this clear: psychologically, empathetic parents and their children tended to be healthier than non -empathetic parents and their children. Children with empathetic parents were also physically healthier, with less risk of aggression and depression and overall more empathetic. But empathetic parents had higher levels of inflammatory markers, indicating chronic inflammation–though, thankfully, on a fairly low level.

Why is this? One belief is that to be empathetic, we have to push aside our feelings in order to focus on the feelings of the person we’re empathizing with. This “pushing aside” can cause stress, which in turn causes inflammation. Parents who are empathetic often sacrifice their sleep, exercise, food, and leisure time for their children’s sakes, leading to reduced overall health.

Does this mean you should be a cruel, heartless parent? I wish! No, the children who are psychologically the healthiest are the ones with empathetic parents. It’s in your children’s best interest for you to empathize with them and try to understand how they feel. But if YOU feel like you’re dying a little inside every day, at least now you know what’s killing you…



Book Review: The Sword Chronicles: Child of the Empire by Michaelbrent Collings

It’s Book Review Wednesday, and I’m bringing to you another mythical creature: a book I give a 5-star rating to! I reviewed another of this author’s books, but I found myself enjoying this one MUCH more…


The Sword Chronicles: Child of the Empire

She is a Dog – one of the many children and teens across the empire of Ansborn who have been sentenced to fight in the arenas. There they fight in battle after battle until they die for the sport of the people of Ansborn – an empire built atop the peaks of five mountains.

But one day she picks up a knife… and everything changes.

She discovers she is a Greater Gift – one of a handful of magic users with powers so great they have only two choices: to join the Empire as one of its premier assassins, or die as a threat to the Empire itself.


She is no longer a Dog. Now, she is Sword. And she will soon realize that in this Empire, not all is what it seems. Good and evil collide, and she can never be sure whom to trust – not even herself.

She holds life in her hands for some. Brings death by her blade to others.

She is a killer.
She is a savior.

She is Sword.


My Review: 5 Stars

I’m a fantasy reader through and through, and I love discovering books that bring fantasy worlds to life in new and unique ways. This book does just that!

The world created by the author is original, yet just familiar enough that the reader is immediately at home in the fantasy realm. From politics to religion to economics to human nature, the book treads familiar ground in a new and unique way.

The character of Sword is interesting (if not the most unique), but it’s the people around her that really make the story worth reading. All of her fellow “Blessed/Cursed Ones” have their own individual flavor and personality that I found highly enjoyable.

The plot itself isn’t the most unique, but it still held me captive throughout the book. The writing was top-notch, with no grammar or punctuation mistakes. All in all, it was a book I highly enjoyed, and one I would recommend to all fantasy readers.

My only serious complaint: it’s a standalone and not a series. I would have loved to learn more about the world and characters in the book!

Here’s a Taste:

The second her fingers touched the knife, something happened.

It was something like the times when a shockstick slammed down on her. A thrumming, pounding pulse that ran from the knife to her fingers to her hand and arm. It settled deep in her chest, a fire that would not be quenched.

She remembered, for an instant, her Dream. The Man and the Woman, reaching for her. She felt as though she was loved again.

Then one of the other Pack jumped at her. She moved, unaware of how she was moving, of what she was doing. She was only vaguely conscious of the dirt floor of the arena kicking below her feet, her arm moving so fast she couldn’t see it.

The Dog who had jumped at her continued his jump. Only she wasn’t there, and when he landed he was holding his stomach.

Not holding it. Holding it together.

He stumbled. Fell. Blood ran into the sand.

She spun. Two more Dogs rushed her. Three. They fell as one.

She did not know what she was doing. Her arm was its own master, the knife its own creature, a beast that sought only to drink the blood of her enemies.

Four Dogs down. Then five. Ten.

The last three circled her. No hesitation in spite of all that had just happened, because a good Dog never hesitated. Never thought, just attacked, just killed or died.

They leaped.

They fell.

And she did not have to look to know that all who had stood against her were dead.

It had all happened fast. So fast that the crowd had utterly hushed. Shocked to silence by the impossible ferocity and skill they had just witnessed.

And it had happened so fast that apparently the Riflemen had been stunned to inaction.

But not anymore.

She heard the shot.

She moved.

Something numbed her hand.

Another shot.

Again her hand tingled.

The hush that had spread over the arena somehow intensified.

A single voice whispered into the silence, “Gods’ Charity, she blocked them. She blocked the bullets.”


About the Author:

Michaelbrent Collings is an internationally-bestselling author, multiple Bram Stoker Award-nominee, and one of the top indie horror writers in the US. He is also a produced screenwriter and (most important) a father and husband to a great family.

Find the book on Amazon:


Read his thoughts on his website:

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Awesome Resources for Creative Writing: Writing Forward

I’m always looking for resources to help me improve my creative writing skills. This could mean anything from coming up with new story ideas to honing my writing to giving me inspiration to keep going. That’s exactly what Writing Forward offers…

Writing Forward is (according to the “About Me” page) “a creative writing blog packed with tips and ideas that will inspire and inform your writing projects.” The site’s mission: “to share helpful and inspiring creative writing tips to benefit the greater writing community and to advocate on behalf of all writers and artists.”

I was quite impressed by the immense range of resources available on the website:

Articles on how to write better — This includes blog posts on things like how to conduct proper research, important practices for more efficient writing, how to know between good and great writing, how to be a faster writer, and more.

Articles on creative writing — This looks at all the elements of creative writing, as well as how to tap into your innate creativity.

Articles on grammar — If you want to learn about homonyms, homophones, the difference between grammar rules and “guidelines”, or brush up on your grammar (basic and advanced), there is a lot of information here.

Articles on poetry — Poetry writing is very different from story writing, copywriting, and journaling, and the articles here can help you improve your poetry-specific creative writing skills.

Articles on storytelling — Writing is about telling a story in a compelling, clear, and concise way that people will want to read. The articles on this topic deal with things like how to write good villains, the secret to iconic characters, story ideas, and more.

Writing exercises — This is a section dedicated to exercises that will help you improve your writing skills across the board.

There is so much more information here, including story ideas, writing prompts, random guest posts on every aspect of writing, books to help you improve your writing, and simple writing tips. All of the blog posts and articles are worth exploring, as they contain a wealth of information on how to be a better writer. Definitely a site to check out!



Deep Thoughts from Intelligent People

It’s “Deep Thoughts” Friday, and I feel in the need for a bit of inspiration. Thankfully, I can always find a few quotes to cheer me up!

Here are some that helped me get into gear for work this morning:

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”  ― Albert Einstein

“The deeper thought is, the taller it becomes.”  ― Dejan Stojanovic, The Sun Watches the Sun

“When a poet (though I’d say “artist”) digs himself into a hole, he doesn’t climb out. He digs deeper, enjoys the scenery, and comes out the other side enlightened.” ― Criss Jami, Venus in Arms

“If you’re in a war, instead of throwing a hand grenade at the enemy, throw one of those small pumpkins. Maybe it’ll make everyone think how stupid war is, and while they are thinking, you can throw a real grenade at them.” ― Jack Handey


“I have found so much beauty in the dark, as I have found a lot of horror in the light.” ― Azereth Skivel

“You are only as free as you think you are and freedom will always be as real as you believe it to be.” ― Robert M. Drake, Beautiful Chaos

“Can a person who has been brought up in the heart of a thick dark forest, where one has to beat a path through multiple layers of trees just to take a letter to the post office, have any conception of what it’s like to spend one’s entire childhood waiting for a single tree to grow?” ― Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, The Greenhouse

“I believe you find life such a problem because you think there are good people and bad people. You’re wrong, of course. There are, always and only, the bad people, but some of them are on opposite sides.”  ― Terry Pratchett

“Silence is the best melody.” ― Azereth Skivel

“One of the biggest challenge in life is to see things for what they are instead of what you want them to be.” ― Saahil Prem

“In so far as we cherish the tangibles, we must value the intangibles. The intangibles, though as latent as they may seem to be, they are solemnly tangible.” ― Ernest Agyemang Yeboah

The splendid thing about falling apart silently… is that you can start over as many times as you like.”  ― Sanober Khan

“Who I am stops me from being who I want to be. Who I want to be stops me from being who I am. I am who I am. I’m one of a kind. I am me.”  ― Kyle Tomaszewski

Feeling motivated? I know I am! Have a blessed day…

Quotes courtesy of Goodreads

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