Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

question- what is molestation? May 21, 2015

I just heard about celebrity big brother from 19 Kids and Counting Josh Duggar’s confession that when he was a young teen, he behaved inappropriately with younger females, that he underwent counselling, and while he’s sorry about it, he’s received his forgiveness and moved on.

The internet seems full of those who label him a molester and think he should have been sent to jail.  I am somewhat confused by this response, because to my mind, a young teen, awash in hormones he doesn’t know how to deal with, is a boy in need of good counsel, frank conversation, and restorative justice, not a boy who needs to be tossed into jail.

I don’t know the details of Josh’s case, but then neither do those commenting all over the internet, so let’s keep this theoretical:

Facts: Young teen brains are not developed, therefore, impulse control is undeveloped. Pubescent hormones impact judgment.

I have to say that I think this kind of scenario speaks more loudly for the needs of young people to have thorough sex education- including not just the biology of their changing bodies but frank discussion regarding sexual autonomy and gratification.  Those of us who remember the wildly fluctuating passions of our first crushes need to remember that this is all extremely complex and confusing for 13 and 14 year old kids.  Media is assaulting them with messages about what sexuality means, their families and faith communities may have contradictory views.  How much did you discuss this stuff with your parents?  How much do you discuss with your kids?  I think our kids from toddlerhood need to know what is okay touching.  They need to know that they have autonomy over their bodies and that they should keep their hands off other people’s bodies.  But if they don’t, what should happen?

So here’s my question, with respect to pubescent youth– What is assault?  What is abuse?  What is mutual curiosity? What is counselor worthy and what is criminal?   Are there age lines?  Intent lines?  Subjugation lines?  What do you think is appropriate?  How would you want your son dealt with if he confessed to touching younger girls?

What is criminal responsibility for kids?

In the interest of disclosure, I am married to a youth probation officer who deals with this every day.  There definitely can be psychopathic rapists at 14, but they are a rare commodity.  Let’s concentrate on average kids.


poem- suspended September 22, 2014

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:23 am
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I am


between breath,

hovering within a moment,

alive in every cell,

dying a small death

until I’m inhaling





poem- cat woman May 26, 2014

She slashed him.


Pain scratched and yowled around his brain,

longing for palliation.

He saw compassion and affection in your eyes

wrapped his hands across your neck and

in the explosion of  agonized ecstasy,

you choked down his hurt.


She twitched her fingers.


With his backward gaze,

he saw anguish curling lithely behind your eyes.

You saw his pitying relief, even as his pain

purred so loudly in your head

it blocked the words

he should have said.




This one is for Amber


sensory sex writing: tips from Diana Gabaldon May 18, 2013

Filed under: OUTLANDERishness,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 7:22 pm
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Diana Gabaldon posted on Facebook today that she’s writing an ebook about writing sex scenes.  As an example, she posted a selection that appeared to contain most of the “How to Write Sex Scenes” article she wrote for Chatelaine that she has posted on her website .  If the title of this post drew you here, and you just want to hear how to write sex scenes, head right to that article.

Her  basic premise is that sex scenes are about emotional connectiveness, not the sexual act, so a sex scene isn’t about the sex, it’s about something else, and there are ways to amp up the emotional quotient of a scene to show that.  She advocates the Rule of Three: include three senses in the descriptions and the scene will be rich and evocative.

In the ensuing comments, Diana made some interesting observations that I’ve been pondering.  Teacher Patricia Davis said she coaches her students to follow the methods Diana espouses and Diana responded,

Diana on writing emotion

 “the key to writing strong emotion is restraint.  You actually don’t write “about” emotion, you just show it happening.  You don’t want to get between the reader and the emotion, is what it comes down to, so the writing can’t show.”

It’s the old adage about showing not telling.  Show the emotion, don’t tell about it, but don’t show it in such a way that the writing is apparent.  Like cameras and microphones appearing  in the frame in your t.v. shows, if the writing technique is obvious, it kills the magic of the illusion.

I have to confess, the more workshops I take on writing, and the more authors I interact with, the pickier I become as a reader.  I know what should be done and whether I manage to do it in my own work (fingers crossed!) I want excellence in what I read now.  Like an amateur magician, I’m harder to fool and less tolerant of incompetence.

There are tricks and tips out there like the Rule of 3 that she outlines in the article.  Writing isn’t magic.  You don’t put things on the page and have them perfect immediately.  Writing is a craft, and you must practise it in order to be good at it.  To a compliment about her writing and observations by Magsasakang Pinoy, who said if he wrote, he’d follow her suggestions, she responded,

Diana on writing

“There are really two parts to writing fiction: finding the story, and then getting it from your head onto the page, in such as  way that it arrives more or less intact in the reader’s head <g>  I don’t know that you can teach anyone how to tell stories, but you can certainly teach them the craft of putting words on a page.”

It’s a little like Oz requesting we “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”  But even if we know ‘how’ we can still be manipulated by a master hand wielding the craft to create the magic.   A weak writer will have us stalking up to pull back the curtain and shout, “Ah ha!  I knew it!” but a strong writer will leave us happily suspending our disbelief as the magic unfolds.  When the scene is over we blink happily back to real life, and savour the mastery we’ve just experienced, even more impacted than the non-writer reader, because writers know just how skillfully we’ve been manipulated (and we LOVE it when it happens!).

We are so lucky to live in a time when writers can use social media to interact with their readers, and when it is so easy to give and to receive coaching and encouragement!  I am thankful and awed on a daily basis.

(Thanks for staying with me.  Now go read Diana’s article if you haven’t already, and I’ll get back to editing Grace Awakening Myth.  I need to use that Rule of Three in a few places!).  🙂



sex scenes July 24, 2012

Filed under: OUTLANDERishness,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 9:16 am
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I have been writing a brand of YA that leaves sex scenes safely out of the picture, and firmly entrenched in the reader’s imagination.  But eventually the time will come (reasonably soon in the process of writing Grace Beguiling, I think!) when I will have to write a real scene involving sex, and I can only hope that I will do it as well as Outlander author Diana Gabaldon does.  I will be following her advice from this article, because Diana Gabaldon is a master of honest, well-crafted, realistic, brilliantly steamy sex scenes!


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