Monthly Archives: September 2015

What to Read

Because no one’s reading list is nearly long enough (ha!) why not add:

  1. Greenglass House by Kate Milford – Absolutely charming. A safe haven for all kinds of mysterious guests, the Greenglass House is full of old secrets and intriguing characters. Twelve-year-old Milo is intent on discovering the secrets of his family’s home, and with the help of some unlikely friends he will uncover mysteries he could only have imagined.
  2. Lunatics by Dave Barry & Alan Zweibel – Ridiculously fun and completely unpredictable, Barry and Zweibel send readers on a ride like no other with polar opposites Philip and Jeffery. Each page brings more comedic mayhem than the last.
  3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie – With its wit, heart, and clever sketches, this book was eyeopening for me. It is based on some of Alexie’s own experiences and follows Junior, a contemporary teen growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to shape his own fate, he leaves the reservation’s school and enrolls in a rural, all-white high school. Provoking and well written, I highly recommend this book.

Happy Reading!

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Motivation: Writing Prompt

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Happy Writing!

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Brief Announcement

This is normally where I offer the internet my possibly-not-so-wise-but-might-be-useful-who-knows kind of writing wisdom. However, I’m taking a short break this Friday because (drum roll please…) I finished writing my book yesterday! It’s obviously rough and needs self-editing, but for today my hands need some rest. Fear not, I shall return to the virtual realm for Motivation Monday. If you miss me in the meantime, you can always follow me on Twitter or Pinterest.

Thank you, my patient and lovely writers, readers, and passers by! Have a great weekend.

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September 25, 2015 · 8:48 am

What To Read

(Cue dramatic voiceover)

This week on What to Read

1. The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss Haven’t read fantasy like this in a long time. Love it! The Kingkiller Chronicles is a fantastic series full of magic, character, and wit. The protagonist is wry, charming, and complexly written, and his supporting cast is a riot to meet. Highly recommended. (But seriously, Rothfuss, can you give us book three already? Please and thank you.)
2. The View From the Top, by Hillary Frank – A story of perception and self-discovery, this book follows eight-year-old Anabelle through the last few months of summer before she leaves for college. However, we see her not only as she sees herself, but through the eyes of several other characters who all seem to have different impressions of who Anabelle really is. A quick, quirky read, I enjoyed this as a fun summer addition to my reading list.
3. The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis – An oldie but a goodie.  A lot of us read these books as kids and/or have seen the film adaptations. If you have already read them, maybe you’d like to rediscover them all over again, revel in your inner wonder. If you haven’t, get to it, man! C.S. Lewis a literary boss.

Happy Reading!

Have your own suggestions or books you’d like me to review? Feel free to comment below!

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Motivation: Quote

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You said it, Teddy. Don’t compare yourself to others. Look, take notes, learn, but don’t put yourself down because you think someone is better at something. Don’t compare. Not in writing, not in looks, not in life. You do you, because you’re the only You you’re ever going to get, and you’re already pretty fabulous.

Happy Monday!

(Art taken from Pinterest)

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September 21, 2015 · 9:03 am

We’re Still Afraid of the Dark


We're still afraid of the dark (1)

Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? Nobody really. How many of us have actually encountered a wild, man-hungry wolf? Likewise, how many of us have ever found ourselves dangling from a cliff hundreds of feet from the ground? Unless you’re a professional mountain climber or enjoy really adventurous Friday nights, probably not many. But at some point, you have probably found yourself walking alone in a dark parking garage with the sense that maybe you’re not as alone as you think. Fact of the matter is, we’re all still afraid of the dark.

Writing about fear can be hard. It’s something I struggle with myself. The key is figuring out how to make the fear relational.  As author Richard Price put it, “The bigger the issue, the smaller you write. Remember that. You don’t write about the horrors of war. No. You write about a kid’s burnt socks lying on the road.”

Bring out the dark side in everyday objects and scenarios. Simple can be powerful. Everyone’s felt the split second of panic before the fall. Not everyone has fallen from a fatal height. So if you’re writing about hanging from a cliff, don’t focus on the height. Write about how it feels to have nothing beneath your feet, the feeling of dirt crumbling between your fingers. The TV series Doctor Who does an incredible job with this concept, from men made from clock-work to flesh-eating shadows. What’s so scary about them? Clocks and shadows are everywhere. We’ve been all but desensitized to their presence in our everyday lives, and what’s more terrifying than the enemy hiding in plain sight? Or the monster we know is there, but can’t see? The fear is in the potential for harm.

In my novel, Holden is terrified by a hallucination of the monster that attacked his village even though he knows the beast is dead. Why? He doesn’t fear the monster itself. He’s afraid because he knows what it has the potential do, which is take away the people he loves.

Nothing is more frightening than the human imagination. So…what are you afraid of?

 Happy Writing!

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What to Read

Not sure what to read? Here’s a hint:

1. A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini – From the author who brought us The Kite Runner comes the compelling, beautiful, and haunting story of two women struggling to survive conflict in Afghanistan. Chronicling three decades of Afghan history, it’s a story of family, love, and redemption in the face of tragedy.
2. Sisters Red, by Jackson Pearce – A twist on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, this is one of my favorite revamped modern fairytales. The bond between sisters Scarlett and Rosie is beginning to strain after years of hunting the Fernis (werewolves). Rosie wants a life of her own, but Scarlett, isolated by her childhood scars, can’t seem to see beyond the hunt. Meanwhile, women’s bodies are piling up in the city and the enemy’s power is growing. Very soon, the sisters will have to choose between each other and what they believe.
3. The Storyteller, by Jodi Picoult – Not what I expected, but still incredibly interesting, especially for anyone who is interested in tales from WWII. This book tells the story of Sage, a young woman with cripplingly low self-esteem, who befriends a beloved elderly man of the community, Josef Weber. But Josef has a horrible secret, and as he shares the story of his life, Sage is forced to choose between the man she sees and justice for the man he was.

Happy Reading!

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Motivation: Writing Prompt

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Happy Writing!

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September 14, 2015 · 8:27 am

Pitfall: Not Just a Fun ’80s Video Game

Pitfalls of Writing

Hang in there, little buddy. We’ve all dangled from a fraying rope over that same pit. Every writer has his or her fatal literary flaw, whether it be time management, structuring plot, writer’s block, Pinterest — the list goes on. I personally struggle with outside distractions (Another video of a cat stuck in a cardboard box? I’d be crazy NOT to watch it!), sticking to a linear plot structure, and constantly rummaging through the pantry to see if a bag of chips has magically appeared in the five seconds I was away. Today though, we’re going to look specifically at plotting, outside distractions, and writer’s block.

Plotting: Stick to Your Guns

So you’ve started a new story. Huzzah! It’s an exciting place to be, but beware, it’s a long rode to that final period. Not everyone likes to plot out their story piece by piece, some prefer to sit down and go at it without a specific direction in mind. If that’s you’re style, awesome! I approached fiction writing that way for a long time. The more I’ve written though, the more I’ve realized I’m the kind of person who needs a bit more structure. This doesn’t mean planning page by page, or even chapter by chapter. Sometimes it’s just breaking down the story in your mind into a beginning, a middle with several distinct plot points, and an end.

Often though, I get overexcited about certain plot points and start skipping around like a crazy person. And so,  we’ve come to our first pit. Skipping over scenes with the intent to come back to them later can be dangerous. It creates literal holes in the story, and if I’m not careful I sometimes find myself building a rushed, poorly constructed bridge across the gap. So if you’re the type of writer who needs structure in plotting, I would recommend sticking to your guns and plowing through tough scenes rather than taking your chances with a grappling hook.

Distractions: Munchies, Phones, and the Internet

A writer’s gotta do what a writer’s gotta do, even if that means skipping the cat video. There are a lot of things out there to keep us busy, things that try to lure us away from our laptops and notebooks with lovely promises of entertainment. A lot of the time, it probably works. This pit is going to be tricky to cross.

The best advice I can give is this: Keep snacks and drinks with you while you work, leave your phone in the other room, and do your best to resist opening irrelevant tabs on the internet. The internet can be an unbelievably valuable writing tool for inspiration, spelling, fact checking, the works, but it’s a bit of a “keep your enemies closer” situation. Know when to use the internet as an asset, but don’t underestimate its addictive powers.

Writer’s Block: Lord Help Us All

Um…uh…yeah. This pit’s got alligators and poisonous snakes, and all you’ve got a rope that’s about to snap. Get up, stretch your legs, and take a walk. Paint something. Call a friend and ask what he would do in your character’s place. Dang it, go ahead and indulge yourself. Watch that cat video. Maybe it’ll teach you how to claw your way out of your own metaphorical cardboard box.

Happy Writing!

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What to Read

Take time to enjoy:
1. Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein – For those who like stories set during WWII, this is a great choice. The book follows two young British women, one a pilot (Kittyhawk), the other a spy (Verity), and the trials they face upon crashing in enemy territory.
2. The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey

One word-

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I’m not typically a fan of alien-themed apocalyptic stories, but this one got me. The plot caught my attention and the characters held it steady throughout the entire book. Good choice for fans of the genre!

Happy Reading!

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