Books & Writing

Breaking Up with WordPress and Finding New Beginnings


Because Life Likes to Bite You in the Ahem and Laugh at You!
 

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Remember June? That time I made a big deal about being “back” to writing posts . . . and books . . . and getting my crap together?
 

Well, immediately following that post (like three hours later), WordPress decided it wanted to do us wrong. We tried to mend things (the usual end-of-relationship kinda way): we cried, they cried, had counseling chats, played the blame game, smiled at the memories, and had the “it’s not you, it’s me” talk.
 

It was them, though, not us . . . so we broke it off.


Then we did what any new “ex” would do. We buried ourselves in ice cream and workouts for a proper heartbreak-revenge cycle (it’s called balance). We had to find a new home, transfer our content, and say goodbye to all your awesome thoughts you’ve shared with us over the past couple years. I would have copied & pasted all the comments but didn’t want to seem like a comment hoarder. It’s just . . . it made me sad. So now we’re back with a new look and we’re in a committed relationship with Squarespace.


With all that, I’ll admit I had a “poor me” moment.
 

If you read the post I mentioned above, I was happy “being back” and was trying hard to let go of my writing insecurities. Then WP* glitched horribly (they lost a lot of our articles, messed with the podcast coding, locked me out as admin, etc.), and I was back to feeling like it was a sign I shouldn’t be writing or creating anything. Ever.
 

Luckily, life doesn’t only smack you around. It also gives you exactly what you need. This all happened around the time schools closed. So I was able to enjoy being a mom this summer. I did a lot of creative work, went on a girl’s trip with my editor, had fun with WAD’s** website possibilities, and had a lot of coffee (yes, I’m pretty sure that is a big factor in my happiness . . . and the survival for those around me).
 

I loved spending time watching my kids laughing, running, swimming, and having conversations with them. They’re seven years old so you can imagine just how amusing they are. Time I would have otherwise spent worrying over a post, a podcast production, or stressing over getting a scene just right. And while these are all things that make me who I am and are my passions, there’s nothing like watching my real-life creations to remind me that yes, I can, in fact, make beautiful things. But since I’m done making little humans and the twins are back in school, I’m going back to creating fictional characters and writing about life . . . through the eyes of this storyteller.
 

So I’m back.
 

Again.
 

Raymond too. He’s hiding somewhere, but you’ll hear from him soon.



*WP = WordPress
**WAD = Writers After Dark

By S. Katherine Anthony

sk bio wad pic .jpeg

S.K. Anthony (Shanny) is a writer, a reader, and make-stuff-up-er who lives in New York. She is an award-winning author and a bestseller on Amazon. When she isn’t busy with her toddler twins, S.K. finds herself being transported into the world of imagination. Well, either that or running away from spiders . . . she is convinced they are out to get her!

Website | Books 

In a Horror Movie, You’re Not as Smart as You Think

In a Horror Movie, You’re Not as Smart as You Think

When potential danger appears, the brain sends signals to its threat expert, the amygdala. Survival, being kind of an important thing, requires both urgency (“Move now! Spider!”) and accuracy (“Wait, it’s not a spider, it is just a piece of lint”). Urgency moves along a short path and accuracy along the long path.

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Using Body Language in Your Novel, Part Three—Arms, Shoulders, & Posture

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For this third installment of using body language in your novel, we’re going to focus on the upper body and ways to infuse an ordinary story with deep layers of . . . well, upper body language description O_O — I knew this experiment to write a post while tipsy would make things difficult, but let’s just say it’s “interesting” and go with it. After all, I do write “after dark”so . . . yeah.

As we know, a person’s physical actions, whether performed consciously or unconsciously, reflect their mental state. And using these cues in our stories can help the reader dissect a character’s nonverbal communication, such as being nervous, angry, or even if they’re lying, among other things. I’ve covered facial expressions along with eyes and eyebrows, but now let’s move on . . . and remember, don't over do it!

Here are some body language “tells” to further enhance your characters’ emotions:

Part Three: The Arms, Shoulders, and Posture

Arms:

Arms are used a lot in self-expression. So it can be an easy way to indicate to your reader your character’s true comfort level. Make sure you use other cues as well as the context to build the right sense of emotion.

* Raised Arms. This can be used to indicate excitement. When people are happy, their arm motions defy gravity, and so should your character’s. So have her raise her arms high above her head to show she’s super duper excited.

* Swinging Arms. Use this to indicate your character is feeling good or confident. On the other hand, think of an insecure person and how they slouch with restrained arms. So use swinging arms—or lack of—to showcase your character’s confidence or insecurity.

* Crossed Arms. Use this to indicate anger, arrogance, frustration, insecurity, or that your character is feeling defensive, closed off, or even cold.

* Crossed Arms with Clenched Fists. This can indicate your character feels defensive or even hostile.

* Crossed Arms with Thumbs Up. This can be used to indicate your character feels superior to the other characters. (This is crossed arms, but with visually demanding thumbs pointing upward.)

* Crossed Arms with Crossed Legs. This can be used to indicate your character is feeling emotionally and physically closed off. In other words, he’s resistant to another character and is opposed to what that character might be suggesting.

* Concealed Crossed Arms gestures. This can be described as your character holding onto something in front of him with slightly crossed arms. Use this to indicate your character is feeling nervous or insecure but is trying to hide it. Public and famous people are good at this.

Hands:

* Hand Texture. The physical description of hands can be used to indicate your character’s age (wrinkled or smooth), physical labor (calloused from hard work, burns from being a baker, scar from being in the army, etc.), or even privilege (having silky hands with an amazing manicure).

* Open Palms. This can be used to indicate honesty. When your character is telling the truth, his palms can be described as open.

* Closed Palm with Pointed Finger. This can be used to indicate dominance. And if it’s the middle finger, it’s a sign of aggression (as you very well know).

* Fidgeting and Twitching Fingers. This can be used to indicate your character is anxious, feeling inner conflict, or is bored. It can also be used to enhance your character’s personality, for example using specific quirks like biting nails when nervous, etc.

* Drumming Fingers. This can be used to indicate your character is feeling annoyed, impatient, or agitated.

* Clenched Fingers Behind Back. This can be used to indicate power, authority, and as a warning against misbehavior. Perfect for a character who is an authority figure.

* Cracking Knuckles. This can be used to indicate your character is ready for a fight, feeling violent, and angry.

Posture:

* Upright Posture. Described as sitting or standing up straight with shoulders back. This can be used to indicate power, confidence, and control. Your character can command respect, show leadership, and promote engagement with an erect posture.

* Leaning Forward. This can be used to indicate your character is feeling hostile or aggressive.

* Leaning Back. This can be used to indicate your character is lazy, arrogant, tired, or lacking the courage to do something important.

* Sagging Posture. This can be used to indicate your character is feeling sick, insecure, in need of help, or sad.

Shoulders:

* Shoulder Shrug. This can be used to indicate your character is confused, lacking confidence or knowledge, being obedient, or even to indicate an apology.

* Single Shoulder Shrug. This can be used to indicate your character’s lack of commitment, insecurity, and anxiety. Or it can be interpreted as a suspicious move, as in she’s possibly lying or holding back information.

* Raised Shoulders. This can be used to indicate your character is anxious, scared, insecure, tense, or is feeling small and insignificant. And if she’s combining raised shoulders with lowered head, it can mean she’s feeling threatened.

* Spread Out Shoulders. This can be used to indicate your character is relaxed and is feeling confident and assertive.

* Pushed Back Shoulders. This can be used to indicate your character is cocky and exerting dominance.

* Turned Shoulders. This can be used to indicate your character’s lack of interest, trying to escape, or feeling uncomfortable.

* Single Shoulder Raise with a Tilted Head. This can be used to indicate your character is flirting and is attracted to someone. It can also be combined with a slight turn of the head while she’s touching the side of her face.

And there it is! A couple extra details to use for your characters’ upper body gestures. Be sure to come back in the next few weeks for more body language tips for your novel.

See Part One—Facial Expressions here.

See Part Two—Eyes, Pupils, & Eyebrows here.

See Part Four—Legs, Feet, & Bonus Tips here.


By S. Katherine Anthony

sk bio wad pic .jpeg

S.K. Anthony (Shanny) is a writer, a reader, and make-stuff-up-er who lives in New York. She is an award-winning author and a bestseller on Amazon. When she isn’t busy with her toddler twins, S.K. finds herself being transported into the world of imagination. Well, either that or running away from spiders . . . she is convinced they are out to get her!

Using Body Language in Your Novel, Part Two—Eyes, Pupils, & Eyebrows

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They say that our eyes are the “windows to the soul.” Isn’t that sweet? Yes, yes it is. Which is why this would be a fantastic place to practice some poetry, but instead, how about we exploit this little tidbit to benefit our writerly lives? Let’s explore the eyes—in the art of using body language in fiction.

It’s undeniable that our eyes are very special, but what exactly do we see when we stare into someone’s eyes? Information about their emotional state, that’s what. Can you imagine what damage this type of knowledge can do in the wrong hands? Oh boy!

For the villains, they can manipulate, hurt, and deceive. For the heroes, they can help, console, or protect. OR vice versa! Hey, it’s not mutually exclusive, and that’s the beauty. As the reader, you can get an insight on the emotional turmoil they’re all going through. And as the writer, well, you hold all the power, don’t you? But with great power comes great responsibility . . . err. . .

With all that power, don’t go crazy adding visual expressions every other paragraph. Save them to enhance crucial moments in your story.

Here are some body language “tells” to further enhance your characters’ emotions:

 

Part Two: The Eyes

“When the eyes say one thing, and the tongue another, a practiced man relies on the language of the first.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


Categories:

* Aroused, Bedroom, or Doe Eyes. Sexual desire is a common cause of pupil dilation. So to indicate arousal in your character, go ahead and describe dilated pupils peeking through her lashes in the dim light. Or, you know . . . use your own wording.

* Blinking Eyes. Use this when your character is nervous or troubled about something. When the blinking rate goes up, it indicates lying, stress, or sometimes arrogance. On the other hand, rapid blinking also flutters the eyelashes and can be a shy romantic expression.

* Calculating Eyes. Described as eyes that move from side to side or looking down, use it to indicate your character is processing information or planning something—good for villains. It’s also much harder for a person to maintain eye contact while making calculations, so keep that in mind.

* Closing Eyes. When it’s for more than a second or two, this may indicate he's lied to you, since this is a type of defense mechanism. But it can also be used by visual thinkers so they can better see the internal images without external distraction.

* Damp Eyes. This can be used to indicate anxiety, fear, sadness, suppressed weeping, exhaustion along with redness of the eyes, or if your character has been crying recently.

* Darting Eyes. Have your character’s eyes dart back and forth or side to side to indicate insecurity or distraction. You can also use it to showcase your character being uncomfortable, and/or that he’s looking for an escape route.

* Drooping Eyes. Described as a lack of eye blinking, or what we call a “blank stare” on the person’s face. Use it to indicate your character is bored or tired. “Dress it up” with your character glancing at her watch, yawning, or with a repetitive finger or foot tapping to drive it home!

* Friendly Twinkle. This can be used to put other people at ease—either readers, or one character to another to show positive interest. A friendly twinkle in a character can help break the ice, make a character like another or feel comfortable, appear to be a welcoming person, or give others a cue to their fascinating personality.

* Following Eyes. If your character is following someone around with her eyes, it can indicate she’s either interested in or scared of that person.

* Glancing. Use this to indicate your character’s desire, attraction, disapproval, or suspicion. Dress it up with a smile to suggest interest, or add in a frown to indicate suspiciousness and hostility.

* Gazing Eyes. Looking up and down at a whole person can be used to indicate your character is sizing them up, either as a potential threat or as a sexual partner.

* Shielded Eyes. Covering or shutting the eyes can indicate your character’s attempt to block out someone or something he doesn’t want to hear.

* Staring. This can be used to indicate your character’s interest, shock, disbelief, surprise, or aggression of something or someone.

* Squinting Eyes. This can be used to indicate discomfort, stress, an assessment of something or someone, uncertainty, tiredness, and even anger. If your character receives a squinted eye expression right after he says something, it could mean the person doubts his words, or disagrees with him. Squinting can also be used by a character who is lying so the other person can’t detect their deception.

Direction:

* Looking Up. Have your character look upward to indicate she’s thinking, or that she’s bored or being judgmental.

* Looking Down. Have your character look down at someone as an act of power and domination. Or have them looking down but avoiding the other person as a sign of submission, or to indicate guilt.

* Looking Sideways. Looking to the left can indicate your character recalling a sound. Looking to the right can indicate that they are imagining the sound.

* Looking Down and to the Right. This can be used to indicate internal dialogue or emotions. If you had a character talking to himself, this would be his visual expression. In some cases, his eyes will also look down to his right if he's going to lie.

* Looking Down and to the Left. This can be used to indicate recollection of smell, taste, or feeling. For example, if your character was abducted and she was asked to describe what she remembered about the place she was being held, her eyes would move in this direction.

* Looking Up and to the Right. This can be used to indicate recollection of images or the imaginative construction of something—in other words: lying. If she’s looking upward and to her right, she’s accessing her imagination and is making it up.

* Up and to the Left. Looking upward and to the left can indicate recalling a memory. If she’s describing something she’s seen, she’d look upward and to the left— truthfully accessing her memory.

Eye Contact:

Eye contact between two people is a powerful act of communication and may show interest, affection, or dominance.

* Prolonged Eye Contact. Use this to indicate your character might be lying. In trying to avoid looking shifty-eyed, some liars will purposefully hold their gaze a bit too long. They might also stand very still and unblinking.

* Limited Eye Contact. Use this to indicate your character is feeling insecure. Or, she might also be lying and trying to avoid the lie being detected.

Pupil:

This is the one part of the eye where we have no control. Dilation happens automatically since we have no conscious control over our pupils, and can be used to showcase your character’s true emotion, especially if they’re trying to hide it.

* Pupil Dilation. To indicate excitement, or when they’re around people they like or admire, have your character’s pupils dilate. It can help in showcasing a character's loyalties. Pupils also dilate when it is darker to let in more light, so next time your character is in a dark room, like a club or dimly lit restaurant, you can describe your character’s eyes as dilated.

* Pupil Contraction. You can have your character’s pupils contract to indicate disgust, anger, irritation, annoyance, or when your character isn’t attracted to someone. Also, people with small pupils can appear threatening or just unfriendly, so use this tidbit to enhance a scene.

* In general, dilated pupils are positive while constricted pupils are negative.

Eyebrows:

* Lowered Eyebrows. This can be done with a lowered head, which can conceal the eyes. It can indicate deception, annoyance, and can be a sign of a dominant person.

* Raised Eyebrows. This can indicate surprise, cynicism, fear, discomfort, openness, and as a sign of attraction.

* Middle-pulled Eyebrows. Described as being pulled together. This can be used to indicate your character is angry, frustrated, or confused. It can also indicate intense concentration.

* Eyebrow “Flash.” Described as a quick repeated up-and-down movement. This can be used to indicate your character’s recognition and greeting of someone. (More effective for me: if they’re pretending they don’t know the person, but are betrayed by their eyebrows.)

So there you have it! Some extra details to use for your characters’ eyes and eyebrows. Be sure to come back in the next few weeks for more body language tips for your novel.

 

See Part One—Facial Expressions here.

See Part Three—Arms, Shoulders, & Posture here. 

See Part Four—Legs, Feet, & Bonus Tips here.

 


By S. Katherine Anthony

sk bio wad pic .jpeg

S.K. Anthony (Shanny) is a writer, a reader, and make-stuff-up-er who lives in New York. She is an award-winning author and a bestseller on Amazon. When she isn’t busy with her toddler twins, S.K. finds herself being transported into the world of imagination. Well, either that or running away from spiders . . . she is convinced they are out to get her!