Tuesday, December 1, 2015

RELEASE DAY! Mia Kerick talks Stream of Consciousness Writing and her newest novel, Clean!

Welcome back to my blog, Mia! 

Mia Kerick is one of my favorite authors not only because she is an excellent storyteller, but because she is forever spreading her wings and exercising her fine talents in new ways. My first exposure to her writing was Beggars and Choosers. If you haven't read it, please do. It's an incredibly worthy read. In this story Mia writes one of the main characters, Brett, with a very unique accent and syntax. In doing so, she adds a deep layer to Brett and puts the reader directly in touch with his thoughts and feelings. I was amazed then, and continue to be amazed now, at Mia's infinite talent. Today, she talks about Stream of Consciousness Writing, something most authors fear to do. Not only because it is difficult to write, but because it puts the reader directly in touch with a character's  mental processing, not only feelings and thoughts. Mia, you have excelled once again. Let's give Mia a big round of applause! 

“Laughter bursts up out of me too it just forces its way up from my gut to my throat to my lips and I can’t hold it back and I don’t even try too hard. The sound of my laughter fills up the cold shed where we’ll be drunk soon enough and he’ll forget I stopped being an asshole for a minute or two just long enough to laugh.” Trevor, Clean by Mia Kerick
Clean is available now at CoolDudes PublishingAmazon
Add Clean to your Goodreads List!


High school senior Lanny Keating has it all. A three-sport athlete at Lauserville High School looking at a college football scholarship, with a supportive family, stellar grades, boy band good looks… until the fateful day when it all falls apart. Seventeen-year-old Trevor Ladd has always been a publicly declared zero and the high school badboy. Abandoned by his mother and sexually abused by his legal guardian, Trevor sets his sights on mere survival.

Lanny seeks out Trevor’s companionship to avoid his shattered home life. Unwilling to share their personal experiences of pain, the boys explore ways to escape, leading them into sexual experimentation, and the abuse of illegal drugs and alcohol.  Their mutual suffering creates a lasting bond of friendship and love. When the time finally comes to get clean and sober, or flunk out of high school, only one of the boys will graduate, while the other spirals downward into addiction.  Will Lanny and Trevor find the strength to battle their demons of mind-altering substances as well as emotional vulnerability? Clean takes the reader on a gritty trip into the real and raw world of teenage substance abuse.

Clean is available now at CoolDudes PublishingAmazon, and All Romance Ebooks
Add Clean to your Goodreads List!


Before you assume that my editor has taken an extended vacation at an inopportune moment, there are several essential facts you should know about Mia Kerick:

*She knows how to properly punctuate a sentence.

*She is capable of writing with better than average grammar and mechanics. (Mia consistently received B+ grades in high school and college English classes, just saying.)

*She is driven to do something markedly different with every novel she writes, in terms of stylistic choices and narrative voice.

*She has done her research on the literary device called the stream of consciousness.

Now that you understand these basic facts, I will break the unsettling news about today’s release, Clean. WITHIN TREVOR’S NARRATIVE VOICE, there is INSUFFICIENT PUNCTUATION, as well as IMPROPER GRAMMAR.

Yes, such is the untidy truth. But never fear, there’s an excellent reason for this state of affairs, which can be explained with these three words: STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS.

What is the stream of consciousness writing device?

As defined by May Huang in Qwiklit, stream of consciousness “is a type of writing that originated with the works of psychologist William James (Brother of Novelist Emeritus Henry James). Basically, its purpose is to emulate the passage of thought through your mind without any inhibitors.” I think of it as an inner monologue of sorts, in which the narrator’s thoughts and feelings move through his brain as a stream, constantly ebbing and flowing, with little structure, but still possessing sufficient direction to tell the story. 

Art by Kari Higa
“Why the hell not?” I unscrew the cap and take a long swig. “Me first” comes into my brain “me first” like a little kid would say...“I gotta take care of me first or else nobody will.” His fingers are twitching and it looks like he’s fighting not to pull the bottle outta my hands. Go for it Lanny, snatch the bottle...I dare you to go for it cuz you know how bad you want to...come on dude, think “me first” for once in your damn life and grab the bottle of booze...I dare you...what do ya have to lose? But instead I say, “Here ya go, dude,” and I say it real gentle then I pass it into his hands and he’s drinking like a baby from a bottle eyes closed and humming before I can even blink.  ~Trevor, Clean by Mia Kerick
Notice in the above example of Trevor’s stream of consciousness his thoughts seem random and the sentences are long, some qualifying as run-on sentences. Also note that by the end of this seemingly disorganized paragraph you have acquired an awareness of what has happened; and you possess a unique understanding of how the main character, Trevor, feels about the event. As a reader, you’ve experienced the thoughts moving through Trevor’s brain in the exact same manner he has. You have delved not only into the character, but into the his consciousness.

I chose to use the stream of consciousness writing device to put forth Trevor’s narrative voice. My main goal in using this device is to allow the reader to literally enter the mind of one of my main characters. It allows the reader to understand Trevor’s motivation when he acts cold and cruel to Lanny. Stream of consciousness also allows for increased empathy, as Trevor is not telling the reader how he feels, but is simply feeling it. And thus, the reader feels it too. Furthermore, stream of consciousness is an excellent technique to use when you are dealing with mental disorientation. An author can express each and every thought and idea freely without having to formally structure it with he thought or he worried or wondered or pondered. As Clean deals with substance abuse, experiencing Trevor’s disorientation firsthand is enlightening to the reader. 

Of course I am not the first to use stream of consciousness in writing—perhaps merely the least famous writer to have used this technique in my literature. Here are some popular authors, with examples, in the stream of consciousness writing style:

1. James Joyce’s in Ulysses.

“I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”

2. Virginia Woolf in Mrs. Dalloway.

“What a lark! What a plunge! For so it always seemed to me when, with a little squeak of the hinges, which I can hear now, I burst open the French windows and plunged at Bourton into the open air. How fresh, how calm, stiller than this of course, the air was in the early morning; like the flap of a wave; the kiss of a wave; chill and sharp and yet (for a girl of eighteen as I then was) solemn, feeling as I did, standing there at the open window, that something awful was about to happen …”

3. Dorothy Richardson in Pointed Roofs

“On one side was the little grey river, on the other long wet grass repelling and depressing. Not far ahead was the roadway which led, she supposed to the farm where they were to drink new milk. She would have to walk with someone when they came to the road, and talk. She wondered whether this early morning walk would come, now, every day. Her heart sank at the thought.” 

4. William Faulkner in As I Lay Dying

“Nonsense you look like a girl you are lots younger than Candace color in your cheeks like a girl A face reproachful tearful an odor of camphor and of tears a voice weeping steadily and softly beyond the twilit door the twilight-colored smell of honey suckle. Bringing empty trunks down the attic stairs they sounded like coffins…”

There are also more current writers who have used the stream of consciousness device, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, The Hours by Michael Cunningham, and Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates, among them.

Yes, I am in excellent company.

“He’s concentrating so hard on getting high it’s kinda cute. And I wanna smile cuz I haven’t smiled in days but something’s nagging at my mind and I gotta figure it out before I can smile. And shit, like magic I know what my problem is. It’s gotta be worry cuz somewhere I heard that there are people who don’t get high the first couple times they smoke weed and I’m real worried that Lanny won’t get high cuz he’d be seriously crushed. Don’t wanna see him crushed tonight wanna see him high and feel him all soft against me...missed him missed him missed him so bad.” ~Trevor, Clean by Mia Kerick
Here is an informal example from a student, Megan L, Pembroke, MA, of her stream of consciousness thoughts with regard to her stress at completing an in-class writing assignment.

“Thinking on, I decide to refuse to do the assignment; it's pointless anyway. This empty paper is so intimidating, so blank. It would be smaller if it had writing on it, but I have no ideas so I can't fill it anyway. I refuse to do the assignment. NO! I'll use this blank slice of a tree to draw a Snoopy, or ... that girl is done already? I better get moving ... oh no, I forgot. I'm not doing the assignment. I'm too boring to do it. I have no interests. I remember now. Back to drawing. The bell's gonna ring soon. I don't care. I'm not doing the assignment. It's stupid! Who says,"Write about anything that interests you," anyway? Who can do that? She's done too? I don't find her interesting at all. She's not interesting. But she's done. She's done with her paper. So is that girl over there. And her. And her. And ...” 

In conclusion, I worried about taking the risk—writing a novel using a literary device that may lead readers to the conclusion that I am unaware of the rules of punctuation, grammar, and mechanics. Especially if a reader is exposed only to a fragment of the book rather than the book in its entirety with both characters’ contrasting narrative voices, you may believe that my work is riddled with errors and is in dire need of an editor’s strict hand. However, with this blog post, I hope you approach Clean with an open mind to creative stylistic choices and writing devices. 

My final sample of my use of the stream of consciousness narration device is from first time we meet Trevor in Clean.
Comment below for a chance to win a $10 gift card from Amazon! 
Winner randomly picked by Cody's macaw, Kismet!


Trevor wouldn’t even look at me when I walked over to the gas station this morning to say hi. And Jimmy’s Fuel Stop is like three miles from my house so it took a major effort to walk there, especially since I’ve been feeling like total crap lately. Another one of my shaky human bonds bites the dust. I need to go out and get myself a cat.

“Can’t you see I’m working, Keating?” That was all he said. But I’ve always been good at reading between the lines. I could tell what he was thinking as he stood beside the gas pumps, totally caught up in not looking at me. “Take a hike before you get me fired, loser. Some of us got goals in life....” So I took off before he had a chance to make me feel like I shouldn’t have ever made an appearance on the planet earth. But I still know it would have been better had I never been born...maybe Joelle would still be okay.

It’s Saturday afternoon and nobody’s home. Mom and Dad are probably off at the park with Joelle, sloshing through the wet snow together so she gets her daily exercise. Or maybe they took her to the make- your-own-sundae-place to improve her fine motor skills by sprinkling sweet toppings on big scoops of ice cream. I’m in Mom and Dad’s bathroom, bent in half with my head stuck in the closet, searching the cluttered shelves for anything that will get me high enough to escape. And I mean anything.

That’s when I see the cough syrup. The bottle in front is almost new, and there’s an older bottle of a different brand right behind it, little more than halfway full. Seeing these medicine bottles reminds me of something Chad suggested about a week or two ago— that we should try robo-tripping. He told me that if we drink enough cough syrup, the DXM in it would get us high in a “super blissful, tingling-body-parts way,” which sounded pretty decent to me then and still does now. Not completely surprised I remembered Chad’s exact description of a DXM high, I thank God for this dextromethorphan stuff that suppresses nasty coughs, because it looks like I’m going to find my much-needed buzz after all.

Pleased that I don’t have to resort to sniffing glue from the tube on my father’s basement workbench or huffing my mother’s hairspray—and believe me I came close—I snatch the bottles with a shaky hand. They’re both sticky with the syrup that dripped down the side last time one of the Keating’s had a major head cold accompanied by a hacking cough. Licking my fingers provides me with a hint of the cherry flavor I’m probably going to be barfing up later tonight. But I don’t care. I can’t get through a single day without some help, and by that I don’t mean help from my human friends, seeing as I have none left.

The walk to the shed seems longer than ever. It’s an effort to so much as put one foot in front of the other. I haven’t eaten anything for a full day; I’m sure that’s why I feel like such crap. And it’s not like I want to think about this stuff, but I can’t stop myself. The “stuff” I don’t want to think about is really people. The people I have hurt so much lately because of my bad habits.

This list starts with my little sister Joelle, who I told to “stuff a sock in it” when she asked me to read that goddamned book about a kid going to school—for the zillionth time! “School’s not all it’s cracked up to be, Jo. Stop being so damned excited about it! Those kids are gonna tear you to pieces and won’t even wait until you turn your back to do it!” It hurts too much to remember the expression on her face right after I told her that, so instead I stare beyond the leafless trees into the gray sky and think about my parents.

I’ve hurt Mom and Dad a lot too, because they know I’m sick, they just don’t know exactly what’s wrong with me. And I’m not sure how much they care. Their plates are too full already with Joelle’s problems, I guess.

I glance down at the two bottles of cough medicine dangling from between my fingers and remember Chrissy and Robyn, who I use like toilet paper. They can do way better than me in the study-buddy department.

I trip over a root that crosses my path and fall to my knees, but just as quickly drag myself back to my feet. A stray root isn’t enough to stop me from getting to where I’m going.

I’m almost at the shed now, and I can’t avoid thinking about him any longer. Trevor hates me. He never calls anymore, never asks me to go to the shed to drink some beer and fool around. He just looks at me in the hallway at school with angry disgusted eyes, and tells me every chance he gets “you’re fucking up your life and I’m not gonna let you fuck up mine.”

Trevor Ladd...the ultimate untouchable. If I could’ve made somebody like him want to be with me, I would’ve surely been able to win my parents back. Well, no such luck. I’m more of a zero to Trevor than I ever was...and Mom and Dad still don’t care.

Blew my entire life sky high. Which is where I’ll be soon, if all goes according to plan. I lift each bottle of sticky sweet cough medicine to my lips and kiss them, one by one.

Just the sight of the tiny, beat-up brown shed fills me with an indescribable sense of relief, probably like the feeling of coming home after years at sea. As soon as I push open the door, I see that Trevor isn’t here and I’m illogically disappointed. But Trevor can’t save me from myself. He did his duty; he tried to get me clean, and he got clean in the process.

Way to go, Trevor.

Alone in a frigid shed in the middle of the woods, I’m more than eager to suck down a couple bottles of cough medicine so I can be somewhere else...someone else. A vision of Landon Keating forms in my mind—not Lanny, the student, or Lanny, the athlete, or Lanny, the son and brother—but the near-future version of me when I’m “simultaneously mellow and stimulated,” if the online experiences I’ve read about taking DXM are accurate. Sad truth is, I’ll take just plain disoriented. Any effect will be fine if it whisks me away.

I drop down to the cold floor and without ceremony open one of the small bottles. The cough medicine goes down more easily than I thought.

Cherry-berry-sweet-thick-burning-soothing- pleasure-pain. It doesn’t take too long.

Itchy as hell...belly’s on fire....

“Read to me, Lanny...read it again!

”Can’t feel my legs at all....

“Wishes don’t wash dishes, son.”

Can’t stop barfing.... So sick....

“Take a hike, Keating—you filthy, no-good, loser boozer-druggie!”

Blew it with Trevor...blew it with everybody.

Can’t breathe...need a breath....

Gonna die here alone.

Clean is available now at CoolDudes PublishingAmazon
Add Clean to your Goodreads List!


Ms Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and four non-pedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty-three years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it’s a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young people and their relationships. As a teen, Mia filled spiral- bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big- hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to CoolDudes Publishing, Dreamspinner Press, Harmony Ink Press, and CreateSpace for providing her with alternate places to stash her stories.

Mia is a social liberal and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of human rights, especially marital equality, which is now the law of the land in the United States—woot! woot! Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

Stop by Mia’s Blog with questions or comments, or simply share what’s on your mind. 
Find Mia on FacebookGoodreads, and Amazon.

Comment below for a chance to win a $10 gift card from Amazon! 
Winner randomly picked by Cody's macaw, Kismet!


  1. CODY!!!! MY NUMBER ONE AUTHOR SUPPORTER!! Thank you so much for hosting me on your fantastic blog today!!! I am so excited to be here and happy to explain my use of stream of consciousness writing device to make Trevor's voice feel real and immediate!!! THANK YOU for having me Cody!!!

    1. My pleasure, Mia! It's great to have you back!

  2. Excellent post Mia! Can't wait to read this book. :)

    1. It's a great book, Dianne! A very important book too.

    2. Dianne- it was so thrilling to be able to use words like paint, if you know what I mean. I could be so creative with Trevor. I loved it!

  3. The Mia Effect is back!!!!!!!!!!! I have been waiting patiently for this book release day. So excited to read another book from one of my favorite authors. ( and since Cody know he's one of my favorite authors I want mention him here;)
    I have EVERY book from Mia!!! And I already know this book is going to be one of my favorites!
    Thanks Mia....and you too Cody.

    1. You are the very best reader, Michael! Thank you for stopping by and commenting you always make us smile! Thanks for reading our books!

    2. Michael- i think this one will definitely have the Mia effect!! But brace yourself, there are some tough places to get through before you earn that Happily Ever After!!

  4. To us at CoolDudes Publishing, offering Clean to Mia's fans (and ours), was really something we simply had to do with grace and tactile excitement. When we read the raw manuscript, we couldn't put it down. Editing the book took just under a week because Mia's writing is just such a pleasure to read and edit. Stream of Consciousness (SOC) is difficult, but when it's done right, the effect is absolutely riveting. As mentioned above, many authors have used SOC to great effect, and it's really not as simple as sitting down to write for ten minutes without pause for grammar or punctuation. There is thought. That's what humans do. Think. And that's what SOC is. It is only successful in fiction when the story has a plot, great characters with goals, settings, scenes and exposition. But, Clean represented to us, more than just SOC. We needed to feel for both Lanny and Trevor. And we felt in bucket-loads. We needed to grasp the message in the novel and within the first few pages we realized that the entire book is the message. That's why we Thunderclapped Clean, because the universal message it conveys is vital to all of us; those who have an almost incurable addictive nature, and also those who have not. The book aspires to please and entertain. In short, the book is a work of genius. Thank you Mia for offering us this story. Your talent is beyond comprehension. We're over the moon that you took a chance on us.

    1. Louis, and everybody, I'm (almost) speechless... but there is still something left to say. Thank you for this profound and touching comment. I have never been so happy at work on my books as with CoolDudes Publishing as it is a personal experience with you. There is excitement from you as a reader and a publisher, and from Louis C as a cover designer; there is a sense that you want to please me as much as I want to please you- which, honestly, is very rare in this world. Every day I feel as if I am honored by you and that you appreciate what you call my gift, and therefore I'm willing to take a chance, as I did with Trevor's stream of consciousness
      style of narrative. Stream of consciousness is hard to write because there is no rules--no right and wrong. I just had to craft it so that his narrative flowed or stuttered, as thoughts move through a person's mind, and at the same time be understandable. I rewrote Trevor's parts over and over until I felt I had it right. Thank you Louis, for the opportunity to write for a publishing house that is as welcoming as a home!

  5. I am so excited for everyone to read Clean! I think the stream of consciousness really helps us get into Trevor's mind, humanizing him. Happy Release Day, Mia!

    1. Thank you Yukari!! Your words mean so very much to me! Thank you for reading Clean prior to the rest of the world and offering me your thoughts!

  6. This one is gonna rip my heart out, I can tell already. As for punctuation and sentence structure... I didn't miss it at all. Which is amazing considering when I read I'm constantly adding my own punctuation when I feel something was left out. In these excerpts, I never felt the need to do that. It made sense just as it was. And I knew who was speaking (which is not always the case in novels).
    Mia, write, write, write,! Congratualtions on another great book. !!!!!

    1. Kerry- your words mean so much to me- i hope you will let me know how you end up liking the story! thank you for your support!

  7. This looks really, really good, Mia! I can't wait to start it.

    1. I am hoping it breaks your heart and then puts it back together again!!

  8. After a highly scientific process, Kismet has picked a winner! Congratulations to Dianne Hartsock! You won Mia's prize!