Deborah Rocheleau

Author. Language Fanatic.

Spoken Word: “Mermaid Searching”

Here’s a link to my Spoken Word performance of my poem, “Mermaid Searching.”



A Little Pep Talk

Today, YA Highway asks: “The end of the year is close! How did you do on your goals this year?”


Is it just me, or is a writer’s work never done?

First drafts, rereads, second drafts (also third, forth, fifth, etc)

Critique partners, query letters, twitter pitches

Lit mag submissions, agent research, blog posts

And then there’s reading. Reading for comp titles. Reading for craft. Reading because that’s what we’re doing this for, right? Because we love good books, love reading them and sharing them and discussing them. If we’re not reading, there’s no point in writing, because the greatest metaphor ever isn’t worth a dime till it’s a picture in someone else’s mind.


All this to say, it’s easy to get bogged down as a writer. It’s easy to get caught in the wash, rinse, repeat cycle of setting goals and completing them. Granted, if we didn’t set goals, we’d accomplish a whole lot less. Like, nothing.

Still, it’s important to remember that goals aren’t the objective. Writing is the objective, and loving writing, loving it so much that even when you hate it, you keep at it.


There will always be time for new goals. They’ll be new years, new accomplishments, new NaNo-something-or-others. But you’ll only keep at it if you love it. Can’t see yourself ever stopping. And by you I mean me. And anyone else who needs a pep talk right now.


I’m ready for the new year.

Stress Words (Part Two)

For today’s stress words quiz, we delve into the world of prepositions. What fun!

Through vs. Across

Occassionally, in going over my writing I come across sentences in which either one of these prepositions will do. How to decide?

The difference may seem trivial, but just consider the possibilities:

Would you rather:

A). Sludge through a muddy lake


B). Water-ski across the water


A). Stay up late burning through a good book


B). Skim your eyes across the pages


A). Reach through the vast emptiness of the universe


B). Build a bridge across the void


Every word has weight. Even prepositions. Writers have to sweat the small stuff, but don’t lose heart: by working carefully through your manuscript, pondering the value of every word, your skill with language will pay off when it shows across the pages.

Stress Words (with Quiz)

As finals week approaches for all you college students out there, I thought I’d share some favorite “stress words”—that is, words that as a writer you can stress over to no end without ever deciding which one is best. To help take the pressure off, here’s a mini-exam that’s less pass-fail and more Choose Your Own Adventure.

The word(s) of the day is Someone/Somebody

Grammatically interchangeable, not even an English handbook will help you with this one. Somebody connotes a body, perhaps

a).  The victim of a gruesome crime

b). a dead body washed ashore by the tide

c). an anesthetized patient on the operating table

d). an unnamed soldier carried by his comrade across a battlefield

Someone emphasizes a person’s “oneness,” meaning they are:

a). A loved one

b). A pantheist

c). The chosen one

d). Completely unique

This month’s TCWT blog post question got me thinking about why we read contemporary fiction:

Which fictional world would you most like to be a part of, and what role do you think you would fulfil within it?

People love to read. Books offer an escape from everyday life, a new world to explore, one more magical or futuristic or in some way different from the one we live in. Readers can forget their own problems when they read about the hero’s struggle to slay  dragon or revolt against a tyrannical megacomputer, struggles which (most likely), none of us will ever face.

So where does that leave contemporary fiction?

Contemporary, realistic, call it what you like. I’m talking about books set in the real world, with characters like you and me facing real problems that we or someone we know has probably faced. There are no fantastical elements. There’s no magic. This isn’t a travel story. Some people don’t like these kind of books because of this, preferring instead to read about worlds and problems unlike their own.

Yet for others, these stories provide an escape unlike speculative fiction. Can I honestly say I’d like to live in the worlds of writers like Melina Marchetta, Sara Zarr, or Dana Reinhardt, facing the same struggles and heartbreak their characters face? Maybe not, any more than a fantasy fan can say they’d really love to slay a dragon, or face down an ogre, or run from a megacomputer, in constant fear of their lives.

Whether I like it or not, however, I do live in the world of a contemporary novel. I will face setbacks. And character flaws. And heartbreak. The difference is that, in fiction, an author can take the most tragic events and weave them into a meaningful whole. They can make sense of the trauma, art out of the unbearable. That is a world worth living in. It’s a world I believe is possible, though it’s often hard to see. This is the gift of storytellers, no matter their genre, to show the world as it is,  to show how to find the character arch in life’s scattered events, and to remind us every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

For your reading pleasure, fav contemps:


What We Lost (formerly Once Was Lost)

By Sara Zarr


A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life

By Dana Reinhardt


On the Jellicoe Road

By Melina Marchetta



By Jessi Kirby

Now, go check out all the other posts in the blog hop:

4th December ~
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Roadtrip Wednesday NaNo Winners!

It’s Wednesday, which means another YA Highway Roadtrip!

This Week’s Topic: It’s December! That means NaNo is over. Did you have a successful writing month (whether you won or not)?

I said in my last NaNo post that I was doing a half-NaNo, as I was already 25,000 words into my current WIP. Well, I did finish off those last 25,000 and get some semblance of a full story onto paper. Halfway through the month, though, I was interrupted by some other exciting writing-related opportunities.

In light of these opportunities, I had a lot of good news to share with my family over Thanksgiving. I realized something, though. As excited as I get on the inside about every step I take in my writing career, I always find it hard to share my joy with those closest to me.

Part of me is afraid to get too proud of opportunities that (as in the querying process) are far from a sure thing. I don’t want to get myself too excited over something that may not pan out.

More than that, though, I don’t want to get my family excited, as I don’t like to share bad news. And even though I know that rejection is part of the game and nothing to be ashamed of, I can’t help feeling a bit of a phony every time I explain to non-writer friends and family that “things just didn’t work out that time.”

Despite all this, it feels ungrateful to never share my success with the people who have encouraged and raised me to be the person–and the writer–that I am.

I know they won’t judge me if at first I don’t succeed. More importantly, I know that just because I fail, I am not a failure. In the end it is my dream, and I can’t worry about how far-fetched others think it is.

So I’ll keep writing (or editing, or querying) until I reach my goals. Because the game’s not always won in NaNo: It’s won in all else that follows.

Growth is….

As a writer, growth is looking back and realizing how many times your work deserved be beaten down, but wasn’t.

Gratitude is realizing all the people who didn’t beat, but encouraged you.

This weeks YA Highway Road Trip asks “With American Thanksgiving approaching, what writing-related things (or people)
are you thankful for?”

I wouldn’t be where I am with my writing without the help of some incredibly talented writers and teachers I’ve encountered. I’m thankful for the writing teachers who never told me I couldn’t. I’m thankful for the ones who suggested I attend writing conferences, where I’ve grown more in my writing than anywhere else.

I’m thankful for the writers who have gone above and beyond to help me in my journey toward publication. Their enthusiasm has kept me going so many times.

I can’t believe there was a time when I hadn’t written a novel, when I didn’t know what a literary agent was, when I couldn’t define the passive voice, or tell you when it’s okay to use it. But I know that, without the help and training I’ve received, I’d still be at the point I was two years ago.

All this to say, there are only a million and a half opportunities out there for writers. There are plenty of excuses for writing poorly–you’re young, your new, you’ve never had any training. There are zero excuses for not growing, if you want to. Attend writing conferences. Read books (books that teach writing, and books where the writing itself is a teacher).

(Side note: If you’re looking for an excellent conference, check out the Mad Anthony’s writers’ conference or the Antioch Writers’ Workshop).

Participate in blogs, library events, book signings to network with other writers, and overall write. Write like you mean it, because in a world of 6 billion people what you make might just mean something to one of them.

And they’ll thank you for it.

Confessions of a Half-NaNo

Welcome to our 204th Road Trip Wednesday!
Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic. We’d love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link – or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments.

This Week’s Topic: It’s November! Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? If so, what’s your project about?

Confession: I’ve never done NaNoWriMo before.

In fact, I’m technically not doing a full NaNo this year, as I was already halfway through my current WIP on October 31st. It seems like every year I’m already so deep into a project that it doesn’t make sense to start something completely new.

That being said, I’m giving it a try this year with a half-NaNo, which is pretty much me writing my current WIP as quickly as I can. It’s a YA contemporary with some slightly nonrealistic elements thrown in (think If I Stay by Gayle Foreman). It combines one-armed rock climbers, miraculous springs, the ghosts of dying girls, and romance in a story of trust and healing.

I’m hoping NaNo will help me turn off my analytic, literal mind in order to write about things I don’t understand and characters that may or may not exist. I recently read an interview with Aimee Bender in which she describes doing just that while writing The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cakes.

So, with a world of magic realism and not-quite-realistic fiction as my guide, I’m participating in my very first half-NaNo ever!

My Very First Scary Story

First off, I’m excited to be part of the Aussie Owned and Read “A Nightmare in Aus” blog hop!

It’s hard not to get in the spirit of Halloween with all the scary literary events in October. I’ve been to panels of horror writers, scary story readings, and even written and published my very first scary story!

For Halloween, my school Wright State’s literary magazine, Nexus, had a special editor’s project for stories about “What Goes Bump in the Night.”

You can read the stories, including mine, “Etymologist’s nightmare,” on the Nexus Website.

Have a great holiday season, everyone, and stay safe!

Also, don’t forget to stop by the other blogs on the hop for some more Halloween fun!

You are next… Click here to enter This list will close in 3 days, 15 hrs, 48 min (11/3/2013 11:59 PM North America – Eastern Standard Time)


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