Show vs. Tell #RRBC #RWISA

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything related to the craft of writing and this is a subject that we all can use a refresher on. So, if it’s redundant, I apologize. I still see this over and over again, especially with Indie writers. So, for what it’s worth, here we go.

Don't Tell me

If you wonder how can I show something, ask yourself; how do I notice she is quick, he is happy, it is big?

  • Don’t tell me the story…show me, using your words.
  • Place the reader INTO the story. This is especially important in first person POV—but also equally important in third.
  • Use the senses to bring the reader along for the ride. Sight, Sound, Touch, Taste, Smell.
  • Be specific and creative.

For example…One might describe a love interest this way. This is Telling:

  • I watched Jack walk into the room. He was hot; maybe the best looking boy I’d ever seen.

Rewriting the scene by using specificity and the senses, here’s showing:

  • Jack didn’t walk into the cafeteria. He swaggered like the Mayor of Westfield High School, as he shook hands and slapped shoulders. If there had been a baby somewhere, he would have kissed it. Normally, that sort of attitude makes my stomach turn, but not today. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He even nodded at the lunch ladies. When he got to my table, our eyes met for the briefest of moments, and I felt like the only girl in the world.

You can add character detail, voice, and setting at the same time. This is showing.

  1. USE DETAILS (NO – It was a spooky house. YES – The house had dark windows, a doorway covered in cobwebs and an overgrown path leading up to it.)
  2. SIGNS YOU ARE TELLING – Adjectives – big, old, high  etc. and any form of the words “to be.” (She was happy. He was impatient. )
  3. USE NOUNS AND VERBS – Nouns and Verbs FORCE you to describe. (NO – He was a grumpy man. (Adjective) YES – He rarely talked and when he saw kids playing, he let out a grunt.)
  4. USE SENSES – (NO – It was a lush garden. YES – The garden bloomed with wild red and orange flowers that filled the air with a thick sweet fragrance.)
  5. DIALOGUE LINES ARE ALWAYS SHOWING – It’s the character talking, not the author.
  6. BE CAREFUL WITH DIALOGUE TAGS; THEY OFTEN TELL – It’s better to express the way the character is talking with body language. (NO – …she said jokingly. YES – …she laughed and slapped his arm.)

You don’t need to show absolutely everything, especially if it’s not important to move the plot forward. You risk the danger of being too lengthy or detailed. For example, NO three-page descriptions of the woods.

“Telling” is often used to move the action along quickly or relate necessary backstory.

However, you run the risk of “info dump” if you tell all the backstory this way.

When you “show,” you put the reader in the driver’s seat and let them “feel” the scene, emotion or action.

Use a combination of the two, to amp up your storytelling!


  1. Imagine a movie scene in your head. Write all the detail that you see. No “floating” heads of dialogue—be sure to describe where people are standing, what their hands are doing, noises in the room, where they are. Activate ALL the senses.
  2. Use Action Verbs to “show” what’s happening.
  3. Avoid using “was,” “is,” “are,” – All “To Be” words. This is Passive Voice.
  4. Consider investing in “The Emotion Thesaurus” by Angela Ackerman, AND “Emotional Beats – How to Convert Your Writing into Palpable Feelings,” by Nicholas Rossis to get a sense of how physical movement conveys emotion.

You can write your first draft by telling if that’s what you need to do to get the story down, but ramp up all the feels in your story by showing through your subsequent drafts.

Happy Writing! Happy SHOWING!

show vs tell_Mark_Twain



Jonah – Part 8

When we left Jonah and Tidus last week, a horrendous and sudden storm had totally destroyed his hut. He’d grabbed Tidus and his meager belongings and fled. After Tidus chanted and held his Amethyst Gemstone to his forehead, the storm had stopped as suddenly as it had started. Now Jonah’s returned to make the shocking discovery of a new bigger and better hut and a new burlap bag. Let’s join them and see what’s next.

Jonah stood rooted in the same spot for a long minute. He turned to find Tidus close behind him.

“What? How?” He pointed to the hut.

Tidus shrugged. “Maybe something in the bag will answer your question.”

Forcing his feet to propel him forward, Jonah reached the burlap bag and pulled the tie. He dumped the contents on the hard ground.

Another book and a note fell out. He dropped to his knees. With shaking hands, he unfolded the note and read it out loud. “Because you thought of someone other than yourself for the first time in your life.”

Tidus knelt beside him. “You mean you’ve never thought about anybody other yourself your entire life?”

“I suppose so,” Jonah muttered.

“But, you made sure I was safe and it seemed to come naturally to you.”

Jonah reached for the new book. “Dark Side of the Light Chasers,” by Debbie Ford.” He held the book out to Tidus. “Ever heard of this one?”

dark side of the light chasers

Tidus nodded. “It’s a workbook of sorts. There are exercises after every chapter.”

“Exercises for what?” Jonah thumbed through the pages.

“It’s sort of a guided way to work on yourself, to face your shadow self and do shadow work.  My favorite quote from the book is, ‘Remember, all the answers you need are inside of you; you only have to become quiet enough to hear them.’

Jonah stood. “Shadow work?  Answers inside me? That makes no sense.”

“It will when you read the book. Looks like you have to do some self-discovery work if you ever want to leave this island.”

“I’ll read the book and learn the right words to say. Then I can talk my way out of here.”

Tidus drew a symbol in the dirt. “It doesn’t work that way, Jonah. They’re not interested in your words. Your actions are what they want to see.”

Jonah squinted. “You’re a weird kid, Tidus. How do you know so much about all this? Did they send you? And what is that you are drawing in the sand? You aren’t doing some sort of magic spell, are you?”

Tidus dropped his stick and stood. “No. I swear it. This is what we call sacred geometry. It is the symbol of the flower of life.”flower-of-life-beach

He continued, “What I told you is the truth. My father disappeared. My mother died and I’m all alone on the other side of the island. I would take you there if I could. Then you’d see I speak the truth.”

“Okay, kid. I believe you. It’s just that you seem to know a lot about all this self-work stuff. More than a kid your age should know.”

“It’s simple. My mother taught me from all these books. She was also teaching me how to grow and use my magic when she died. I have lots of books back at my home. If you want, I could bring you some. Maybe I could help you.”

Jonah shrugged. “Suit yourself. Bigger men that you have tried.” He slapped Tidus on the back. “Let’s look inside my new digs.”

With his dagger drawn, Jonah flung the rickety wooden door open to reveal a more spacious and weather-proof hut. As far as he could tell from the dim light, the inside was empty. He could almost stand up inside.

He sheathed the dagger and tossed the new book into one corner, then emptied the contents of the bag he carried over his shoulder. He quickly dug a small hole and re-buried the Jerky. With some of the vegetables Tidus had brought, he could make them a nice soup to eat. He leaned back against the wall and blew out a breath.

His head spun with thoughts. He was being forced to look at himself. The thought frightened him more than anything or anyone he’d ever faced. This was not going to be easy or pleasant.

Texas Regional Radio Music Awards


The 8th Annual Texas Regional Radio Music Awards show was held in the Arlington Music Hall on March 2nd & 3rd. I had the privilege of attending on the 3rd with a Press Pass and two photographers in tow.


“I never got in the music business to win awards,” said Male Vocalist of the Year nominee, Jamie Richards. “I just got in the music business to make music and if I win an award that’s extra. So that was it for me and I’m thrilled to be nominated.”


Jan Sikes and Jamie Richards


I think what Jamie vocalized could be echoed by all of the nominees for these awards. Any artist who truly loves what they do shines in the crazy business of playing music.

Larry Joe Taylor produces the largest music festival in the State of Texas yearly in Stephenville. The Larry Joe Taylor (or LJT) Music Festival was up for an award as the best music festival.  I asked Larry Joe what the nomination meant to him.

He replied, “Well, this is our seventh or eighth nomination and we’ve won all of them. It’s always a pleasure to be nominated for something that we love so much and that we’ve worked so hard to create. We just hope everyone else loves the festival as much as we do. Win or lose, we still feel like we are the best festival around. This year will be our thirtieth year, so we must be doing something right.”


Jan Sikes interviewing Larry Joe Taylor


I completely agree with Larry Joe!

And then, I had the chance to interview Sundance Head, winner of The Voice Season 6. I asked what this nomination meant to him.


Jan Sikes interviewing Sundance Head


“Well, winning The Voice was awesome, but it’s more important to me, to be recognized by my peers back in my home state,” Sundance said. “I’ve worked really hard to gain respect in Texas radio and become part of the family. I had just really kind of got in there before The Voice. I still never had a number one on the charts until after The Voice, so I think that gave me a little boost. But, this nomination is very important to me. I love being from Texas. I respect all the musicians and artists on the radio and the way that they handle everything.”

What’s next for Sundance Head?

“We are getting ready to release our record to the nation. I just finished recording it in Nashville at Ocean Way with Buddy Cannon and Dean Dillon producing. Dean has some cuts on the record as well as Jamey Johnson, J.T. Harding, and Sean McAnally who just won songwriter of the year. This record is full of integrity and I’m hoping it will be one of the best country records to come out in the last twenty years,” Sundance explained.

When will the record be released?

“It will be landing at the end of March or first of April.”

So, we’ll have to keep an eye out for the new Sundance Head music!

Sundance Head

All of the performers at the show did an amazing job, but the ones that blew me away were GRIT. That stands for Girls Raised in Texas. They sang acapella and the harmonies were nothing short of amazing.

Other performers of the night were Guthrie Kennard, Gus Samuelson, Sundance Head, Bradley Banning, and Jamie Richards.


And the winners are:


It was a great night for me. I got to visit with lots of old friends.


A parting kiss.


🙂 Guthrie Kennard

A HUGE Thank you to Robert Keith and Darleen McAdams for all the great photos!



Jonah – Part 7

Last week, we left Jonah and Tidus in the midst of a horrific and sudden rain storm that erupted when Jonah questioned Tidus about his father. Let’s join them and see how they fared the storm.


Jonah snatched up his meager possessions as the deluge beat down unrelenting, on the crudely made hut.

Water ran in streams, washing everything in its path down toward the murky waters. He had no time to waste. He dug the jerky out of the ground and tossed it along with the books and his other belongings into the burlap bag.

“Can you make it stop?” He yelled at Tidus.

Tidus sat dazed, his eyes rolled back in his head. He chanted words Jonah could not understand. The fragile walls of the hut began to collapse around them.

Jonah reached for Tidus, slung the burlap bag over his shoulder and ran. The rain blinded him. He stumbled over tree roots and briars.

Where to go?

Jonah pulled Tidus along. His need to protect the kid was strong. Tidus remained lost in some sort of trance.

Finally, Tidus pulled back. He reached into his pocket and withdrew a large Amethyst Crystal.


He raised it to his forehead and chanted in a rumbling voice unlike any Jonah had ever heard. “Bay of old and sun so bright. Clear the mist of clouds at night. I, son of Drake, beseech you. Dispel the darkness, bring the light.”

Almost as quickly as it started, the pounding rain stopped. Black clouds parted, and bright sunshine reflected off remaining droplets on branches and leaves.


“What in the hell just happened?” Jonah exclaimed.

Tidus placed the gemstone back in his pocket and shrugged.

Jonah turned in a full circle. “That’s all you’ve got? A shrug? My hut is destroyed. What am I going to do now?”

“Sorry,” said Tidus. “Perhaps you shouldn’t mention my dad again.”

Jonah mumbled. “You can bet on that one.” He stomped off in the direction they’d come. When he cleared the trees, he gasped.

His hut was intact. Only it was larger and sturdier than the original. And, it even had a door.



Jonah’s head swam. How could that be? He’d watched it collapse around him. Surely he was having a wild dream.

Nothing made sense.

And, a newly delivered burlap bag sat nearby.

The Hat by C.S. Boyack

5 star

The Hat is one of the most fun stories I have read all year! Here’s the blurb and my Five Star Review



Lizzie St. Laurent is dealing with many of the struggles of young life. She lost her grandmother, and her living arrangements. Her new roommate abandoned her, and she’s working multiple jobs just to keep her head above water.

She inherits an old hat from her grandmother’s estate, but it belonged to her grandfather. This is no ordinary hat, but a being from an alternate dimension. One with special powers.

Lizzie and the hat don’t exactly hit it off right away, but when her best friend’s newborn is kidnapped by a ring of baby traffickers, Lizzie turns to the hat for help. This leads her deep into her family history and a world she’s never known.

Lizzie gives up everything to rescue the babies. She loses her jobs, and may wind up in jail before it’s over. Along the way, she and the hat may have a new way of making ends meet.

Humorous and fun, The Hat is novella length. Wonderful escapism for an afternoon.


Lizzie St Laurent is heartbroken that her grandmother died and she got nothing from the estate. In anger, she grabs a box out of the back of a moving truck vacating her grandmother’s antique shop. Once she finally settled in with a glass of wine and opens it, she is shocked to find a fedora hat. She quickly discounts it and continues grieving the loss of her beloved grandmother. But, the hat is a living entity attached to her family through Lizzie’s grandfather and generations before him. And while it takes her a little time to adjust to it, they turn out to be quite the team. From playing the upright bass, which Lizzie has never touched in her life, to rescuing kidnapped babies, the Hat takes Lizzie on quite the journey. I loved this novella from C.S. Boyack. It has so many different elements and plot twists that it always kept me guessing. The ending couldn’t have been more perfectly executed. If you like off-the-wall stories with elements of supernatural, ghouls, witches and a Hat that can perform all sorts of magic, you’ll love this story.

About C.S. Boyack:


I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.

I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.

I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.


Craig is a member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.






#RRBC Writers’ Conference & Book Expo REGISTRATION OPEN

The annual RRBC Writers’ Conference and Book Expo is open for registration. via REGISTER NOW! #RRBC #WCBE 

If you are an Indie Author or a Traditionally Published Author, a blogger, a reader or an aspiring writer, you will gain invaluable information by attending this Virtual Conference.

AND, you can attend in your favorite pajamas as you never leave your home. No expensive hotel bills or meals. Just a plethora of great information, ideas, and writing tips. The added bonus is getting to discover new authors! So, register today!

Register for the 3rd Annual RRBC Writers’ Conference & Book Expo

Jonah – Part 6

When we left Jonah last week one of the fanged beasts that inhabit this tangled and briar ridden island threatened to end his life. In a moment of carelessness, he’d left his dagger laying inside the hut. Let’s see how he gets out of this one.

Jonah managed to sidestep the lumbering beast, but it quickly turned and charged again. He cast an eye toward the hut, calculating. Could he make a dash for it? The blade of his dagger glinted in the sunlight as if taunting him.

A piercing whistle cut through the air.

The beast stopped in his tracks, tucked his tail and slinked off into the tangled brush growling.

Jonah whirled in the direction of the whistle and blew out a long breath. Tidus stood a good ten yards away.

“Hey,” Jonah yelled. He scrambled toward the boy. “Please don’t run. I need to talk to you.”

Tidus held a crudely woven basket in his hands and approached Jonah.  “Here.” He shoved the basket at Jonah. “I thought you could use these.”


Jonah lifted the lid and glanced inside to find an array of vegetables and fruit. All his original questions fled. “Where did you get these?” His mouth watered at the sight.


“I grow them.” Tidus fell into step beside Jonah. “Where I live looks nothing like this.” He gestured at the tangled terrain.

Jonah pulled a Mangosteen from the basket and bit into it, ignoring the juice that trickled down his chin. “I want to go with you, Tidus.” He said between bites.

“I thought I was taking you, but they wouldn’t let me.”

They reached Jonah’s hut and ducked inside.

“Who are they? And thank you for this gift.” He set the basket on the ground and grabbed another piece of fruit.

“You are welcome. I don’t exactly know who “they” are. My father was teaching me when he disappeared and never returned. Then my mother died and that left me.”

Jonah let out a soft whistled. “Sorry kid. And, sorry I was such a bully the other day. I wanted to get off this godforsaken island more than anything. I was only thinking of myself.”

“Why are you here? Did your mom die too?”

Jonah leaned back. How he wished that were the reason. “I’m here because I was given a choice. I could either go to prison or come here. I chose here. At least I’m not locked in a box, although now I wonder if wouldn’t have been easier.”

“You must have done something really bad.” Tidus reached for Jonah’s book, The Four Agreements. “My mom used to read me bedtime stories out of this book.”

“Bedtime stories?” Jonah shoved a hand through his hair. He couldn’t bring himself to tell this boy about all his bad deeds. “Tell me more about your mom.”

Tidus’ eyes glowed an iridescent green. “She was beautiful and kind. She had long silky violet hair and her hands could do such amazing magic. Both my mom and dad were teaching me, but now, I’m alone and only half-taught.” His voice trailed off. “I wish my dad would come back.”

Jonah’s mind scrambled for logic but found none. This kid was obviously born to a witch and warlock. He recalled stories he’d heard about these people being banished from the mainland hundreds of years ago. Even though Tidus appeared to be a young boy of twelve, in truth he could be over one hundred.

He prodded. “Tell me about your dad.”

The clear blue skies disappeared in an instant. Thunder boomed, and angry dark clouds swirled, turning day into night. Lightning crackled in the brush nearby and a deluge of hard driving rain pounded the hut.

stormy sky

Tidus cowered. “I don’t think I can.”

So Far Behind

so far behind

I just know I’m not the only one that ever feels this way. I have loaded myself down with more than any person can possibly do in a 24 hour time period. As a result, anytime something comes along that upsets the old apple cart, so to speak…

apple cart

Well, it gets overwhelming.

I have two amazing, beautiful, smart and talented daughters. (I have to brag just a little.)

Mom,Crys,Deva (2017_11_16 21_30_48 UTC)

Well, this is me and them many, many years ago. 🙂

So, the youngest daughter (yes, that little one above on the left) is a corporate attorney. While she has a very demanding and high-paying job, she also has two beautiful little girls of her own.

They are my sunshine.

My daughter had to travel to Milwaukee this week on business and needed me to step in and take care of these two little ones. “No worries,” I told her and myself. Sydney is in first grade, so she’ll be in school all day and the little one goes to a daycare. I can do this easy-peasey.

BUT…little one got sick right before my daughter had to leave. She was running a fever of 102. SO….need I say that I did not take her to daycare this entire week? Instead, we had two doctor visits and lots of cuddling and praying that she’d get better.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because I am SO far behind on everything that I normally keep up with…your blogs,  my blog, your emails, the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB, Texas Authors, the North Texas Book Festival, Buddy Magazine, The Oklahoma Farm and Ranch Magazine AND my book that I’m trying to write.

But…know what? I wouldn’t trade one minute of rocking that sweet baby, singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” or even bribing her with sweet Robin Eggs to take her horrible tasting medicine. Life is short. Babies quickly grow up to be adults and we just get older.

Forgive me if I haven’t responded. I will get to everything eventually.


Tails (Silver Wishes Book 1) by Wendy Scott #RRBC #RWISA


Tails    wendys-picture1-10



Heart-stopping, tail-dropping adventure from award-winning children’s author WJ Scott.
FINALIST in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards UK 2017 9-12 yrs.
Sometimes loss is the only thing that saves you.
Last summer during the dreaded hunting season, Kywah lost his tail, his magic, and his value as a Silvertail. Now the hunters have returned and he’s terrified. Especially when he recognizes Samsa, the very hunter that cut off his tail, and ruined his life.
But when the pack becomes trapped in the foothills with no escape, Kywah realizes he’s their only hope. Without a tail, he’s worthless to the hunters and their wizard masters. If he can escape, he can find help for his pack. All he has to do is locate the Wise One and retrieve the Deep Magic.
Which would be hard enough even if he still had the magical tail sense his kind are born with. But what choice does he have? If he doesn’t take the risk, his pack will lose everything. And because Kywah knows exactly how that feels, he can’t let it happen.


A story that includes fairies, wizards, magic, mythical creatures, and a heart-stopping adventure. When the Hunters captured young Kywah and cut off his tail, he was sure his entire life was over. After all, the tail was the pride of every Silvertail. Not only was it a sensory tool, but a status symbol and held their magic. But Kywah had survived the brutal attack for a reason.

The hunter sold Kywah’s tail to an aging and decrepit Wizard who was intent on regaining the power and magic he once had. Using the tiny bits of silver he harvested from the tail, his hope sprang high that he would once again capture the magic he needed to take back his power. When the Wizard offers to pay top dollar for as many Silvertails as the hunters can harvest. Kywah’s clan, and all other Silvertails are placed in grave danger.  The one thing that would save the Silvertail clan was the “Deep Magic” that could only be attained from The Wise One. Kywah volunteered to go. After all, he no longer had a tail and the hunters would not seek him. My heart broke for this youngling over and over as he struggled to save his clan, risking his own life. When he was captured, I chewed my nails. When he met Buster Boy, the Labrador Retriever, a friendship formed that would bond the two for life.

If you love a story with Gypsies, fairies, magic and plenty of tension and adventure, you are going to love this book. These sweet animals stole my heart in their struggle for survival.


Wendy Scott is an Award-Winning author who resides in New Zealand. She is a member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB AND THE RAVE WRITERS INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF AUTHORS.

You can learn more about Wendy HERE

Follow Wendy on TWITTER      FACEBOOK


Jonah Part 5

When we last left Jonah, he’d been driven into the water by a multitude of hissing green snakes. His body was covered with wounds from the stinging nettles and thorns and he’d lost Tidus. He’d simply disappeared into a crevice in the earth and the snakes had blocked Jonah from following.

Jonah spent the next two days nursing his wounds and scouring the area where he’d seen Tidus disappear. It appeared the earth had simply swallowed him up and left no traces.

He kept a wary eye out for the snakes that had blocked his path. Had he imagined the entire event? He’d heard stories about men going mad. Maybe he was now one of those men.

After another day of searching. to no avail, he hid from the brutal mid-day sun inside his makeshift hut. He hoped that Tidus would make another appearance. He wouldn’t let him slip away this time.

His gaze landed on the discarded books in the corner. He reached for “The Four Agreements” and opened it. What the hell? He didn’t have anything better to do with his time.

The opening page read, “To the Circle of Fire; those who have gone before, those who are present and those who have yet to come.”


Jonah puzzled over the reference to the Circle of Fire. He remembered a time back on the mainland when he’d hidden in the woods and observed a group of scantily clad women dancing around a fire, uttering chants and incantations. He grinned at the memory. All he’d thought about at the time was undressing the one with the golden hair.

Chapter 1: “What you are seeing and hearing right now is nothing but a dream. You are dreaming right now in this moment. You are dreaming with the brain awake…”

A dream? Well, I don’t like this dream so I’m going to change it, Jonah thought.

He read farther. Before he knew it, the sun sank and the sky turned a bright red and orange. How had he lost hours in this book? And, what was the big deal about reading it? Most of it was common sense about keeping your word and not taking anything personally. These were things living on the streets had taught him.

But, one thing the book didn’t cover was fear. It was fear that had kept him alive. He’d earned a reputation over the past few years. Everyone within his path learned to respect and fear the “Wrath of Jonah.”

He closed the book, stepped outside his hut and stretched his muscles, enjoying the rippling strength beneath his skin.

Tomorrow he would search more closely for the caves Tidus referred to. Tomorrow he would find them. Another world existed on this island of terrors and somehow Jonah knew it was nothing like the world he was trapped in.

The low growl of a fanged beast drew his attention. He reached for his dagger only to realize he’d carelessly left it inside the hut.


The beast lunged forward.