Writing with Bleed: Thoughts on Creating Short Stories

In illustration, bleed is art that goes beyond the edge of where the page will be trimmed. This ensures that the art will cover the entire page. By illustrating with bleed, artists make the art bigger than it needs to be. The same can be said of short story writers.

In the short story The Lottery, author Shirley Jackson focuses on one moment in the lives of the villagers at the center of her narrative. Although the story ends, the characters’ lives do not. There’s aftermath the reader doesn’t get to see because the main action—the story—has already been told. If we were to ask Ms. Jackson what happened to the villagers afterward, she would have an answer. Not a solid play-by-play of each character’s whereabouts perhaps, but enough of an understanding that extends past the short story’s end—that’s the bleed!

My short story, The Baby in the Bathwater, was written with bleed: Zed survives the fall into the dumpster and makes it to the pay phone on the street corner where he tries to call Ryan. He reaches for a quarter to make the call but realizes his wallet and phone are upstairs. Instead he decides to find Cole, knowing there’s a strong chance he’s nursing his worries at the local bar. That’s as far as I thought out to write my short story.

Does Zed go to prison for murder?

I don’t know.


Do Ryan and his girlfriend get back together?

No clue.


That stuff’s beyond the bleed, beyond what the story needs and the reader needs to know.


After taking a stab at short story writing and mulling over my thoughts on bleed here, I’ve found I enjoyed writing the bleed as much as I enjoyed writing the story. Zed and Ava’s history started off as bleed, then evolved into backstory that made it into the actual story. It’s fun to explore beyond the edges of your art and paint a bigger picture than your story provides—this way if your reader toes the line or gets the chance to ask you what’s beyond it, you’ll have answer.

Inktober 2016

inktober_promptsIt’s Inktober! Woot! Woot! I actually took time and came up with 31 drawing prompts. No guarantee I’ll keep up with them all but it was fun making the list!

For those looking for prompts you’re welcome to follow mine. The list on the left is of little things that should be drawn big. The list on the right is of big things that should be drawn small.

Have fun and please feel free to share a link to your #inktober illustrations via the comments box below.

Frankenstein Fish

Blogging is like having an aquarium, but without lives at stake.

Let me start at the beginning. You decide to get a fish tank. Why? Because you like fish and you got mad fishy-ideas! You’re ready for the world to see your awesome fish-abilities! You pick out a tank that suits your needs, you get a fish, drop it in your tank, and BAM! You’ve got an aquarium!

You’re excited! You’re bustin’ out mad fishy ideas and next thing you know you’ve got six fish in your tank!

But then you hit a wall.

Well, not so much a wall as a hill; a Hill of the Mind. And suddenly, adding new fish to the tank becomes difficult and unenjoyable. You change tanks thinking maybe a new design will spark your enthusiasm and help you generate new fishy-ideas but it doesn’t. Bottom line: aquarium maintenance -–much like blogging -–is not a joke.

If my blog really were a fish tank my fish would be belly-up in the murkiest water. All summer long my blog felt like a burden.  I’ve been unfocused and then felt guilty for not posting content. To be honest, I read in a How-To-Blog article that if your blog’s not providing a service or information then it’s an online diary. Appalled by this notion, I took a few months to come up with a new game plan. I tried to write posts which would provide a service to readers, but soon I realized I don’t know enough about writing and publishing to be able to drop post after post of knowledge.

After an unproductive summer, I reread my earlier blog posts in the hopes of rekindling my love for blogging and remember why I started a blog in the first place. While these early posts did not provide much guidance there’s an honesty behind them I want to get back to. When providing a service, it’s important to acknowledge what you know as well as what you don’t. I acknowledge that I don’t know a lot, but my experience as a writer working in children’s book publishing is material I want to share and will hopefully be enough for interested readers to learn from; or at least be amused by.

That said, I’m cleaning out my fish tank, plopping in a cool pirate ship, and Frankenstein-ing my fish back to life!

Feel free to check out some of my older posts by clicking here and here!

Also, for all (two) of you Friday Floetry fans interested in seeing more unedited poems inspired by observations from my commute, I will be bringing Friday Floetry back in 2017!

True or False: I am the only person who finds blogging difficult?……. FALSE! Share your biggest blogging obstacles and/or advice on overcoming them in the comments below.


Favortie First Lines

If you’re not on Twitter and following me you should be because occasionally I have  moments of brilliance.

What’s the latest moment you ask? Oh nothing much, just an idea of epic proportions sure to sweep across the nation and blow everyone’s mind at once!!!

Okay, maybe it’s not that epic, but it is a great idea I hope you’ll take part in. Let me start from the beginning… *throat clears*

*dramatic music*

In a world filled with children’s books, words run rampant igniting all forms of chaos!  Yet amidst the fires of literary anarchy there rose a hero. Well, not so much a hero as a hashtag. But it wasn’t just any hashtag, it was the only hashtag powerful enough to restore order to the immensely unsettled literary lands. That hashtag was know as: #FavoriteFirstLines.

It’s soul purpose (Yes, I said soul purpose not sole purpose because this hashtag’s mission is rooted deeeeeeep in its very being.) is to be a means through which literary enthusiasts can share their favorite first lines of literature.

The first line of a story is the most responsible collection of words in the entire piece. It is burdened with setting tone, scene, and pacing of a story. If the story’s title is the address of a house ,then the first line is the front door. It’s that line’s job to give a potential reader the gist of a house they no little or nothing about, and convince him/her to cross the threshold. No easy feat.

As an aspiring children’s author and avid reader I’ve become a curator of first lines. Those stories with original, character-revealing, scene-setting, curiosity-poking first lines tend not to disappoint. It pays to pay attention to these lines and identify what makes some sizzle and others fizzle out.

I will be joining the other members of the social media universe in using #favoritefirstlines (because apparently this hashtag is already being used and I did not make it up as I thought I had a few minutes ago before I searched and found it on Twitter… *sigh* is there nothing new under the sun??) to share and collect my favorite first story lines. Please feel free to share your favorite first lines with me via Twitter @whatsticks or in the comments below!

Why What Sticks?

What Sticks. Not to be confused with What Stinks. I’m sure there’s a blog named that somewhere in the internetosphere that covers all kinds of olfactory offenses but this isn’t it. What Sticks refers two important reasons for my online existence.

Stick Figures. I love drawing them! Drawing is all about communication, and while I would love to be able to sketch flawlessly detailed portraits and landscapes, they are not the art forms I turn to when I have something to tell. Stick figures are more than capable of expressing a wide range of emotion and action that helps me get my point across.

Seeing what sticks. I want to be a writer, and to be a writer one must write. So this blog acts as an exercise. I’ll write a bunch of different posts consisting of poems, sketches, rants, musings, and writer’s-process confessions and see what kind of reactions or responses I receive.

I’ve just reread what I wrote and it’s not as interesting as I it sounded in my head an hour ago. I apologize. It’s incredibly hot and humid in this room and it’s affecting my concentration. Ughh. It’ll get better. Not quite sure if I’m promising you that or myself, but hopefully we’ll both be satisfied.