Oh Good Grief

Posted: July 14, 2016 in Uncategorized
  1. So it’s been a minute since I’ve last been here. I’ve been swamped and yada yada with all of this work and schooling and everything. I have been writing. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I have not been slacking too much but I can’t very well post too many pictures on there so here’s to my inner nerd and inner writer research. I recently went to an old house and visited there and took a billion pictures of all of the interior and exterior of this elaborate old house. These pictures will better help you in understanding some of my future books, one about old houses and trying to make it as accurate as possible. It will be set as a murder mystery because aren’t those the most fun to read? I’m just going to leave you with these pictures and a tiny tidbit of the beginning to the story 

“She texted me to be here. But looking up at what I could see from the front, the house looked abandoned but well kept up. I knocked on the broad door leading into the main house, the stain glass staring back at me and refusing to allow access via sight for my curiosity. I called again-well, tried. But the phone only rang twice before dropping out. No signal flashed across my screen. The phone stared blankly back at me, the depleted bar in one corner very nearly red. Inside, if I ever got inside, I would have to charge it. If they even had wifi or anything living here. 
The curtain moved.
I wasn’t alone. ”

Hope y’all enjoy, xoxo,



How far are you willing to go to get your work published? Are you willing to break your morals and maybe your comfort zone in writing? Are you willing to let someone else dictate what you write? Are you wanting to write your book or someone else’s? The real kicker, or what I’m really trying to ask is this. 
Are you writing for yourself or are you writing to be famous?

Your writing isn’t fodder for the cows and certainly won’t capture anyone’s attention if they aren’t into it. And guess what? If you aren’t into it, they won’t be into it. 

Another reason not to write just for filler words unless you happen to be that kind of writer like much of journalism. I have nothing against journalism, in fact, I love seeing how a writer can draw you in knowing exactly how to read his audience. It’s impressive and it takes skill. The only problem I face with journalism is that I want to draw you into the world that I’ve created and put your eyes to the scope that I’m peering through. 

I know that my life is a series of ups and downs and people come and go in and out of it. Life happens and I have to get over it. I’m a highly dramatic person and love a good bit of theatre in my life to an extent. The problem that I’m faced with is that I care so much about things that it affects my mood drastically and it isn’t healthy. Take breakups or friendship betrayals or petty things that someone has said or a particular weird character or even that fuzzy feeling. I take it and I mold it. I scribble and scratch and fill up the pages until my fingers ache. And then I move on. 

Writing is my outlet and however busy I get, I still need that outlet. Anyone can be a writer. Anyone can be technically a good writer. I want to be the best. I strive to be the best but I also know that my writing is something that God gave me from the beginning. I can’t ignore it and I don’t think I would want to live without it. It fascinates me. I love learning and practicing it. I love notebooks, writing prompts, new pens, coffee and tea shops and all things snug and ink smelly. (Hopefully all you writers get what I mean by that and don’t think I’m just eccentric :P) 
My point is, writing shouldn’t be just about pleasing an audience or just getting an audience. Maybe your calling is the gossip column in the newspaper or magazine and that’s what you really love to write but honestly, I feel like even if I didn’t have any audience at all, it wouldn’t affect my ability to write. I don’t thrive off my audience. I enjoy it; it makes me so happy to know that someone enjoys reading it and catches a glimpse of what I’m portraying. But it isn’t about the looks that people give you but what you have to say. I want people to read my work and know just why I wrote it. I want it to pierce their soul and leave them thinking about it for days or years. We are but simple humans, bound to this earth mortally. You may remember me in heaven but not everyone will. But they may remember something that lives on. 

My ideas and words. 

I want you to have that gut surge when you read my book and ask yourself why you felt that way. I want to awaken something in you that you didn’t know you had. I want to strike home with you and have that connection. I want to give you not just binoculars to see through my eyes but get up close and personal through every fear and joyful moment. 
I want to hand you the glasses to my life and world. 





Ha! Jokes on the title when you come here thinking it’s more advice and then you realize that I’m just as lost as you are.
When publishing for your own book, you use social media, hashtags, friends, connections, maybe get an agent eventually and try to make it.
But how on earth do you become such a legend when it’s by yourself? I need advice y’all and I need it from all you writers and publishers out there and even if you have agents or publishing houses you know would look over or just critique my writing to be something. I want to finish this book this year and get on with self publishing if the agencies don’t work out.

Send help.
I need y’all’s help.

This is my begging face, y’all


Female Strength

Posted: January 31, 2016 in Uncategorized

Strong women in literature. 

For years, this has become a growing concern for women and even some men everywhere in literature. Strong women arguements stemmed from the stereotype that predominantly Disney set with the woman doing all she could for the completion of the man. Changing herself for a man seems shallow and pointless. The tomboy features always deck our strong women, hatred for dresses and love for disrespecting the old fashioned ladies always scolding them. We can break from the stereotype of these and create the frilly girly girls that still are hardcore and strong but I think even that is still lacking. Whatever happened to women characters that didn’t need to be strong? Why can’t a heroine have zero ability at protecting herself or a tendency at bursting into tears at everything? 

Why can’t we have more than just the traditional tomboyish girl or the snobby girly girl? Why can’t we have a girl that doesn’t have any clue what is going on and is just sweet and wants to do the right thing? Maybe she fails alot until she starts wising up? Maybe she’s wickedly smart and uses her brain instead of brawn. Maybe a guy outsmarts her. Maybe an animal outsmarts her. Stop making the heroine the same stereotypical one or the other and make then complicated. Humans are complicated. And not every heroine has to have everything figured out. Maybe she makes mistakes. Maybe she becomes a villain. Make your heroine different and new but relatable. Don’t use the cookie cutter and don’t just focus on making her strong. Maybe she’s weak. 

And for the love of everything, quit making every character the same stereotypical ugly until revealed gorgeous or super pretty and a bombshell. Make her stand out. Or maybe just make her like everyone else. Maybe you wouldn’t even notice her in a crowd. Maybe because she’s nothing extraordinary, that’s what makes her special. And stop making her always tiny. Maybe she’s awkwardly tall and has a lumpy body mass. Maybe she can’t run without throwing up. Maybe she’s not athletic and a complete theatre or band nerd. Make her different and with her differences, she will overcome and become strong.  

{Not my art. All rights reserved to the fantastic artists.} 



How to Make a (Mediocre) Comic 

Comics are beautifully complicated, delicate, and versatile creatures that deserve respect and love. They merge everything I love about visual art and writing into one glorious whole. They are worthy to be praised by artists of all species.


So here’s the disclaimer: Don’t bother reading this if you plan on making a gorgeous work of art that will be marveled at for centuries, because quite frankly I cannot help you. What will I help you with? A: Getting finished with a comic as quickly as possible. That’s right, I’m writing an article about the things you need to bastardize this miraculous art form. I’m going to be talking about the mediocre comic. 


First, though, let me give you my credentials. Wouldn’t you hate to read this whole dirge and then find out at the end that I was actually a sea snail, not a comic artist, and really had no idea what I was talking about? That would suck. So hello! My name is Chloe Cunningham, you can call me Chloe (or y’know, whatever else you feel like calling me), and I am the writer, director, and producer of the painfully mediocre comic, Pirate Comic. 



My comic (see above, on the left) is as expertly lackluster as any comic I have ever read. Mediocrity is a distinct part of its very nature. As such, I consider myself an expert in this subject. Also, because I like using other people’s art as illustration in order to make myself seem less self-absorbed, I’m also going to be showing you guys my very good friend Peter’s mediocre comic, Space Journey. (Shoutout to Pete for not getting mad at me when I call his comic mediocre. You’re great.)





So without further ado, let’s get to the point. What do you need in order to make a comic? You need to know what comics are like. There’s really only one way to go about this, and that’s to read comics. But you can’t just passively read comics, you have to pay attention while you’re reading them! There are a lot of important things, but here are the basics that I watch for:

• typography

• panel layout

• gutters

• pacing

• character design

• dialogue


All of these things can vary greatly from comic to comic. Compare Stand Still, Stay Silent to Sweet Talk or Jupiter or Wilde Life. Each one has their own very particular style, some very traditional, some very non-traditional.




Typography is one of those things that most authors don’t think about much. I can’t help you with it much, beyond just reminding you to pay attention to it! Especially think about where your speech bubbles will go before you plan your panels and sketch them out. Easily one of the easiest mistakes to make in mediocre comic making is forgetting you need to fit a speech bubble in somewhere and filling the whole page with other stuff. You end up having to block people’s heads out a lot.





Check out, for example, the horrible layout of this page. Besides just the fact that the time skip is a little unclear and the panel layout makes little sense, that one speech bubble just blocks out the redhead chick’s face! Shameful!





Panel Layout and Gutters are really fluid. You can do as much or as little with them as you want! Compare this page of SSSS with this page of Wilde Life. Both accomplish their goals and look fantastic, but the panel styles are totally different!



On the topic of gutters… just use your artsy, beautiful brain and you can work it out. (Gutters, by the way, are the empty spaces between the panel walls). Pete doesn’t use gutters at all in his comic. It worked for him with Space Journey, but not having gutters makes it way harder to avoid tangents and to separate scenes. I personally could never do it myself. The other thing to worry about is gutters that are too far spaced. I don’t have a specific example for this, but even my Pirate Comic has fairly large gutters. I wouldn’t recommend making them any larger: it eats up your panel space really quickly.



Pacing is probably the most divergent thing on this list. I’ve found that most superhero comic issues read like little mini soap-opera episodes. Graphic novels are specifically written to feel like novels, but they really have about the same amount of content as a short story (just because writing a story with pictures takes soooooo looooong). Tons of webcomics stretch out like epics, spanning for hundreds and hundreds of pages (SSSS applies here, too). And tons of them are more gag-a-day that form into several story arches, like Calvin and Hobbes or the webcomic Postcards in Braille.


My favorite example of pacing in a comic would have to be Jupiter. The author, Zimeta, manages to contrast quiet scenes with action scenes very well, but I think her main talent is keeping the readers invested. She brings up tons of tiny mini-mysteries in the comic, and resolves them a chapter or two later. For every answer she gives she also brings up two more mysteries, so the reader is constantly being rewarded for reading (by receiving emotional payoff by finding the answer to a question) and constantly asking new questions.


The best pacing (and plotting) advice I have is to keep your ideas organized and in a place where you can easily find them. Even if you do the minimum amount of brainstorming before beginning your comic (as I did with Pirate comic), it also helps to have a few ideas about the cast and premise before hand. I kept Pirate Comic notes on my iPod touch notes. I plot most of my stories on this great website called Hiveword. Peter has a memo notepad that he keeps notes in. Keep even the small stuff, because there will be days when you can’t remember if the “kuh” sound in “Panchenko” is a “c” or a “k”, and it will be helpful for you to have a note on that. 


 Character design is a big part of what you’ll be doing. Since I’m telling you how I write my mediocre comic, I’ll just go ahead and say that I don’t ever do concept art when I’m working on Pirate Comic. That’s why every time a new character is introduced they look awful for about three pages until I can get my act together and figure out what I want them to look like. This is a very bad idea. HORRIBLE, in fact. I would actually say I may deserve to be shot over this. It is never ok. Here are my tips for avoiding my sins.




1. Design characters you won’t mind drawing one thousand times. I’ve drawn Matt and Khan of Pirate Comic well over a hundred times each. If you change a character design to make it more culturally appealing or something, I think that’s fine… unless it makes them more difficult and unpleasant to draw, in which case I just want to point out that you will literally draw them hundreds!! of! times!!

2. Even if your comic is mediocre, do yourself a favor and make your characters look a little different. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just make sure they all have different haircuts and fashion senses. Vary their heights a little. Make some smile a lot and some not at all. It’ll help you out, I swear it on Ginger’s Daughter’s Mother’s Grave.

3. Please, just design characters you don’t hate. Make people you will like and get along with.












Dialogue is last but certainly not least. I wouldn’t want to decrease the value of the other points by saying dialogue is the most important part of making a comic, but it is. 99% of all people I’ve spoken to say they’ll read and love a comic with terrible art as long as the writing is good. Guess what? Most of the writing that goes into a comic is DIALOGUE! Fun, huh?


My biggest two dialogue tips: make every character have their own unique speech style, and show that style right up front. In Pirate Comic I tried really hard to make each character’s speech style different right up front.


The guy in page 10 is super excitable and kinda dramatic. The redhead in page 29 has some kind of horrible mauled accent and a cold shoulder. The dishwasher mechanic in page 48 is really polite. Are these great examples? Absolutely not! They’re mediocre (or worse)! But they’re still helpful, I hope.



The second tip is to read all your dialogue out loud before you set it in stone (or, y’know, in ink). Best rule of dialogue ever! Actually, regardless of what you’re writing, this should be a law. Not only is it super helpful (reading aloud helps you figure out what sounds natural or unnatural) it can be super hilarious. Especially if you get your friends to read it in funny voices.


(What’s more, if your friends are reading it aloud in funny voices, you all laugh a lot and to make the laughing continue you feel compelled to continue writing your comic. (Funny voice ideas: bad Russian/French/Japanese/Southern American accent, Elvis impersonation, falsetto)


A great side-effect of this dialogue thing is that the more mediocre your comic is, the more hilarious it is when you read it.)




There you go! That’s my advice! It’s all fairly straightforward… but the basics are important. I’ll end with the final (sobering?) reminder that you are not going to gain much from this comic. It won’t make you popular or rich, and the art and writing will probably not even be good enough to get published. You’re probably looking at years of work– real, honest to goodness hard work– of working on a comic. And you need to accept that the only thing you are going to get out of it is a comic that you, and maybe only you, will love.


Don’t worry, though. It’s so worth it. I love my comic more than anything else I have ever created. No piece of meticulously polished artwork, no glorious watercolor, not even that fantastic Minotaur poster I painted a few years back can be compared to my comic. Pirate Comic is ugly. It is unpolished and quite frankly it is rather terribly drawn. And I love it so, so much. I’m a little bit ashamed (but not too ashamed) to admit that I’ve read my comic cover-to-cover at least a dozen times. I’ve got most of the script memorized, and I quote it on what is probably a daily basis. 


















Nerdy. I know. And I don’t care. And you shouldn’t, either.


Okay! The end! You have the tools! Go out, friends, and make mediocre comics! And send them to me, so I can fangirl over them.












Chloe Cunningham should be writing a bio for herself to put in this space, but she isn’t. She’s too busy drawing. Oops. Oh well, she has a comic that you can read on Tapastic which is a rambling and episodic tale about a group of smugglers living along the post apocalyptic Florida coast. She can also be found @wishjacked on Twitter. She’s pretty ok, so like, be friends with her. Or something.

 So here’s the thing. You know the age old advice that if you are stuck in a rut, the answer isn’t just to wait it out. It is to keep plodding on and getting through it. But what if you need help? What if you can’t figure out the plot twist all on your own? What if inspiration just needs a quick kick in the butt? 
Is it cheating to use other people’s ideas and prompts and such? 
It’s plagarism if you steal someone else’s idea and words and plot twists and take their work. Remember if you have help, make sure the person is okay with it and talk to them about it. One of my favorite things to do is to have a writing date where I meet with my good friends and they help me with my ideas and I brainstorm with them about theirs. It’s fun and rewarding and you get to write it how you want. 

Now we get to prompts. 
I love a good, twisted writing prompt and I love using Pinterest for it. They have tons and tons of writer help and I constantly use that for four main loves; clothing, makeup and hair, stuff about or for my boyfriend, and all of my writing. I have too many boards, most are for writing. I have an inspirational writer board for quotes and advice about all kinds of writing or pictures I find inspiring. I have storyboards for the world and characters and all of that coming to life. I have a prompt board strictly with ideas that interest me and make me want to write them in a story. I am working on my book Fairytale and the fairytale prompts are just to die for. These are for common use. Not plagarism in any way. 

Now I love help with this kind of stuff but I also want it to be more original, more me. I change the wording and just take the basic ideas that inspire me and switch them to something like my style. It’s an info kick and I love taking them. But these prompts are only to be used because people put them out for general use. If there is a disclaimer and someone would prefer not to have other’s claim credit, then by all means, avoid using it and just make it an enjoyable read for you. 
Do you like using prompts like this or consulting your friends? Why or why not? Do you think it’s cheating? Tell me your opinions in the comments below!

P.s. Merry Christmas:-)

Okay, so the task might seem simple enough. To write, one must put down words and they form sentences and then those form paragraphs and then those form a story. That’s writing, right? Well, a good writer knows that he or she needs help and they love to ask other writers-better writers. I mean, why else would you turn to anybody just random for help in a specific field? So you pick writers and you listen to what they have to say and that’s when it gets confusing. 
Which words do you use? 

I use my Pinterest quite a lot, from making storyboards, thinking up characters, getting a visual on what a spaceship needs to look like, dreaming of my next name for my book or just getting any ideas or inspiration. I use it for the articles for telling authors what to use and what not to use and I’ve come across a few contradictory things. Mainly words. A lot of writers will use that you don’t use this word or that word and that will make publishers throw your manuscript in the trash bin but then I see others that say quite the opposite and want you to dumb down your elaborate language speaking of the eloquence of the lapis lazuli tiger statuette and then just plainly spell it out for the reader. After all, they don’t want to get bogged down by all the details. 

In my personal opinion, flowery language gets you nowhere; it’s useless, clutters the page and then wastes my limited time with words that I would never be able to spell. But I’ve seen books where this works. I’ve seen this book series all the way through and even when I hardly understood the language, once I stuck with it, it all made sense. It was a different world. Why wouldn’t they have their own terms and curse words and mechanical phrases? If they stopped to explain in great detail every time a word was spoken, that would have driven me crazy and lessened the story. Instead, Scott Westerfield delves into his series starting with Leviathan and working his way through Goliath and ending with Behemoth. The language and world is unfamiliar but he shows you what the words mean and the phrases and it is all so cleverly written. I would highly recommend the series to anyone. But there are the articles that say he shouldn’t use words no one knows. There are authors that use the dumbed down simple language too and the plot and characters so richly came to life that it made me want to read it over and over again. I do think certain words should be ommitted in writing but I also can’t condemn them. It matters what your story is about and it matters that it draws in the reader and keeps them guessing until the end. That’s what really matters. 

P.s. Merry Christmas, my lovely Ravens