Language Therapist

They just had “words.”

My friend had a recent break-up, like the other night, and I sat down with him and talked to him about it. I told that he needed a language therapist. As a writer, that was something I could do.

The words we use every day influence how others react to us. I’ve been in the middle of so many family situations that I tend to speak and deal with issues in a neutral, diplomatic manner. I’ve also learned not to take crap. So I gave my friend a few pointers on how not to upset someone with comments that could be inflammatory. I’ll give the example below:

The Ex: Relationships just happen or they don’t.

Friend: That’s ridiculous. You have to work on them.

I told him that what he said was a put-down, and negation of the other person’s feelings and beliefs. When he said “That’s ridiculous,” what is between the lines is: your belief is ridiculous. Instead, I offered him this, “Okay, I believe that relationships must be worked on, and problems ironed out.” This statement is much more neutral (and probably not perfect). The word “okay” is acknowledging what the other person said as a valid feeling, and offers the speaker’s feelings of disagreeing by offering his own point of view.

I’m all for neutral and positive statements. When used in communication, the other party is more likely to respond in a neutral or positive manner. Now, that doesn’t mean neutral statements happen all the time during arguments, but as I have to put out flames all the time, I must say that how we use language is important.

I learned a few months ago the power of a positive statement (which doesn’t imply an optimistic one). For example:

Negative statement: I do not want someone who eats crap food all the time and never works out.

Positive statement: I want someone with a healthy lifestyle.

The first is a negation, a separation. The second is inclusive and a statement of what one is looking for as applied to dating. When reading or hearing a negative statement, often the “not” become invisible and the opposite becomes what is found. With a positive statement, what is desired is found. I’ve been working on incorporating this into my life and into my writing. It makes a difference!

How do you communicate? Would you react positively to neutral or positive statements?

P.S. I have a new class posted on my website for preparing to write a novel in 30 days. Also check out my regular website at Remember to “like” my author page and follow me on twitter @kandrewturner  (see the right hand of this page).


Autumn-The Season

Fall colors in New Hampshire.

I know you all might be a bit tired of the MFA application posts I’ve been writing. Me too. I’d like to write something different than the last few ones.

Autumn is my favorite season, hands down (and not just because the word autumnal is so awesome). There is something magical about the cooling temperatures, the hint of natural spice floating in the air, wood fires starting to burn… I love it. Southern California is not particularly renowned for splendid falls or showings of color (though we do have some). I hope this year is one of those years where the season hits. Occasionally, we don’t have much of a fall, the weather is summer and then winter. I believe a couple years ago we had a hot spell were it was 120 in October. Not the most autumnal weather!

So why is fall my favorite? Other than it’s a lot cooler in the day, and a bit chilly at night, I was born in the late fall (tail end of November) so my birthday month falls in the season. It also happens to be the season of choice of National Novel Writing Month—an event I adore more now because I’ve “won” and it is a great time to focus just on writing new material. This year I’ll be working on a YA novel featuring gay characters and prom. I’ll also attempt to write a novella featuring a gay couple and what happens when and old friend turns out to be gay and in love with the protagonist! I’m excited as a lot of the stories I’ve been working on have not featured in heavy terms gay characters.

Fall colors in New Mexico

That was a nice digression. Anyway, autumn also has shorter days. I don’t know why this is exciting to me. Maybe because autumn to me represents the large changes in our lives. The moments we realize that we are not meant to live forever, that we are meant to live, to enjoy the last of our fruit with those we love. Autumn is a reminder that we should strive for what we want, not wasting the little time we have on pursuits we shouldn’t be aiming toward. In any case, I love the change I can feel and smell in the air. I know it is close and I’m excited. This is the time of change.

What is your favorite season? Do you love/hate fall? Let me know!

Book Review: In the Footsteps of the Silver King

I admit it took me a while to even get started reading this novella, In the Footsteps of the Silver King, by Paul Kareem Tayyar (print and ebook link). Once I started, I had a hard time putting it down. I hoped to get some reading done of my vacation, and as that didn’t happen, I opened it up while waiting for a plane on the way home. I forgot for several times I was in the airport terminal! This story follows Patrick Karimi as he embarks on a journey he never thought he’d take.

The story starts as a long prologue showing various episodes of Patrick’s father, Hassan, an Iranian immigrant to the US who returns to Iran. These episodes serve as a template to the heart of the narrative. His father cheats death so many times, the 1st person narrator is surprised when his step-mother, Nazim, calls from Iran, telling him that his father passed away. She mentions there is a package that he should expect in the mail. In the letter from his father, Patrick is told to find his father’s silver medal. This leads Patrick on a quest to find the object and return it to his father’s resting place. Patricks encounters old friends of his father’s, first at the LA County Fair near where he lives, then up to San Francisco, where he meets a precocious girl named Dorothy and her older sister Gemma, interrupting his search for a Catholic Priest that knew his father. Once he meets the priest, he must find Penelope “The Cloud Queen,” who has moved to Portland to live with her granddaughter.  He recovers the medal, and books a flight to Iran—a place he has never been.

The story is uncomplicated and very straight forward. I enjoyed the limpid writing. Every sentence placed on the page shines and gleams. Every word is in it’s place and rings true. There is no unnecessary language. Paul Tayyar has an excellent writing voice that captivates and draws readers in. There is a minor hiccup between Chapter 9 and 10 where the transition is not as fluid as others in the book. Patrick is obsessed with popular culture covering everything from sports to music, from fiction and poetry to movies. I had no idea who many of these icons mentioned are, nor felt the need to look them up. Each character seems to know more about popular culture than would seem normal. I think this is part of the magic with the writing.

This story is a winds through Patrick’s adventure in finding the lost medal. As the title suggests, Patrick is pushed out of his daily comfort zone of his life in Long Beach, CA, and follows in the come-what-may attitude his father possessed. Each complication of finding the next piece in the puzzle, the next step in the quest, adds to Patrick’s character, deepening his own understandings of his father and unacknowledged aspects of himself. While many of these side-adventures seem unnecessary at first, such as why Patrick chooses to accompany young Dorothy home, they become immediately necessary to the story. He must experience each and every thing he does that leads him to the land of his father’s birth.

This novella is a terrific read. I was never confused about anything happening as each scene flows smoothly to the next. Each character felt so real and alive that I could meet them on the streets and have a nice conversation about their life. Paul Tayyar is talented and this shows in this polished tale of a young man following a path laid out by a letter written by his father. Go out and read it!

Back To It

Well, I’m back home from vacation, sad to say. Aren’t we all though, when it is time to come home? It feels like I haven’t left at all.

Over the last few days, I’ve decided to increase my productivity and reduce my anxiety. Upon arriving home, everything that I’d forgotten about for the week cam crashing back with a vengeance. So, I decided to try Wunderlist (after checking out PeerPressure). I have to say that it is a nice application and syncs with my MacBook and my iPhone. So far so good. I know what I need to do, and when I need to do it. Often I feel like I’m missing something which makes me feel anxious, one of the reasons why I like To Do lists: they keep me sane so often. It’s nice than just Reminders (which is perfect for reminding me to do things when I get home).

Also, after a brief hiatus, I’ll be meeting several people in the coming weeks. Here comes a bunch of poetry material. Poets, artists, musicians, we love to express those bad/awkward dates with people. So be nice. 🙂

I hope you all are having a wonderful week!