Chatterbox: Waiting Fulfilled

Monday, December 22, 2014

Tommorow is what my siblings fondly dub "Christmas Adam," which means it's also the perfect time to write a Chatterbox. This one's a stand-alone (drat, here we go again); I hope you enjoy it.

Waiting Fulfilled

Your mem'ry's fading
Bright crocus leached of color
I have lost your warmth

Her eyes were bronze.
Not the bronze of the tribes, or their hammered breast-plates, but the bronze of the gypsy's bracelets and the ghost of the sun after it's just set, and the sliver of reflection on a pool at that time too; more alive. Her face was colored this way too, but freckled; and the darkness of her brows and lashes set steep contrast to it, casting shadows that matched those resting beneath the cheekbones of her broad, chiseled face.

"Nina," someone said, and a shadow moved in the corner of the white tent. "It is nearly time." 
Her narrow nose lifted contemplatively, but she did not turn to face the man. Her eyes were yet downcast; even the glint of the lantern did not catch the bright discs, for they were covered, hidden. 

"You will be ready?" the man continued, for it was a man, creeping cautiously towards the table at which she worked. It was widely arranged with powders, brushes, pigments - all women's territory he did not understand, all curious and wonderful in the slender, bronzed hand of Nina. 

"I will be ready as I am always ready." Her lids still sheathed the eyes like they were weapons; still her gaze held back, unreachable, locked on some bright object on the table beneath her fingers. The man backed away, bowing and nodding in turns.

"Of course, my lady." He ducked from the room.

At last, peace! Her eyes turned up to the glass, but though she was more at rest with the lackey gone from the room, her face showed little change, but that her eyes were not hidden now. Across in the reflection, she caught the bronze and noticed it was dull; there was something missing. Dark hair cascaded long and straight about her face, but the little pieces framing it followed the curve of its shape, and hugged the hollows like shadows, making a firm outline of bronze-on-black. 

Quickly her fingers stepped over other pans and pigments until she found a deep plum-red, meant for lips. Her little finger stuck adeptly in the pot and swept it over her lips and left a thin, dark stain. Across her cheekbones she dusted white-gold, and through her brows a rich brown. Her hair she parted down the middle, and tucked behind her ears. Time passed; she sat still.

"My lady?" It was grown lighter outside now, and the lantern would no longer be necessary. She took the handle of the thing, and blew it out, ignoring the little man and staring at her reflection for a long time, seeing and not seeing. The sky grew light and around her the yellowy tent flaps showed the outer blue, then gold then - white - still, her eyes did not brighten and her complexion looked lacking. Men ushered her from the vanity stool to the outer portion of the tent, to a small cushion in the room's center, and still her eyes were dull, but now again they were hidden from view. 

The tent flaps fluttered in the breeze, and all were silent; all watched and all waited for they did not know what was to come, and those who did knew well enough to keep closed their mouths at such a solemn time. The sun was nearly risen now; the breeze that danced the tent-flaps brought it in, and the warmth fell on the face of Nina but her eyes were downcast, and they could do nothing for her. Just now, just now, they seemed to whisper. Any moment, and it will be time.

All at once the hushed silence died, and a true silence was felt as the jink of horse-things could be heard outside the tent just then. Every ear seemed strained to hear the musical sound. Her heart clenched within her, but her face showed no change, and on the bright object within her brown fingers Nina still stared.

"Nina." It was a man's voice that came in with the sunshine and the breeze and the blue sky, and it seemed to be a part of it, at home with it, sweeping through the tent as it may have swept across the open desert sands. Slowly, her chin raised, slowly, her cheekbones lifted and caught against them the sun's golden glow in a white reflect - slowly, her eyelids opened. 

"Elpidios." Her lips formed his name; and it was so, for he was her hope. Deep within the bronze circles emblazoned a tinder-bright flame.

The Impossible Female Character (and how to avoid her)

Monday, December 15, 2014

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I did a post awhile back about The Impossible Male Character, which people seemed to like, and in the comments I noticed a trend: this was applicable to women as well. With a little research (it's hard to beat down on your own sex, I'm sorry) and a little probing, I present to you The Impossible Female Character, and how to avoid her.

Characteristics of The Impossible Female:

1. Perfect hair (it probably flows in the wind and curls like a Disney princess).
2. Is the immediate object of every man's attentions (hey, she's just drop-dead gorgeous and completely unavoidable!)
3. Is shy when it suits the plot but still kicks rears without blinking (because that's normal).
4. Even if she's not busy winning the war with her hairpin, she still manages to look like the hero (heaven forbid a woman be portrayed as gentle).
5. Gets her feelings hurt easily (but it's always someone else's fault for crushing her creativity).

I can't say I haven't written my share of the impossible females either. It's one of my weaker points, making the woman into the person that I want her to be (and consequentially that I wouldn't mind being myself) instead of the person she ought to be, from a literary perspective, or who she actually is.

So. Let's avoid her, shall we?

How to Avoid the Impossible Female

1. We all have some dream hair, and too often it's manifested in our main female characters. Don't believe me? Open up the book nearest you and find a description of the female lead.
Avoiding this is surprisingly un-difficult, but it depends on the setting of your book. Instead of giving her "wind-touseled locks" how about straight up messy hair? If she's running around through the forest odds are she hasn't had time to style them with the latest TreSemme product. Or maybe she does have nice hair (they don't all have to be disheveled, after all) but at the price of other things. Just balance it out - a real girl doesn't look like a model all the time. (Hair does not bounce back as cartoons would suggest.)

2. It's obvious the male love interest needs to, at some point, fall for the girl. But please don't make it a head-first fall on page ten, yes? Don't make it so easy for the reader that when the two come together it only seems a matter of time. Yes, the relationship should be natural, and of course there are the characters that need to fall together early on in the plot-progression, but for the majority of literature it remains true: the girls that are fought for are won better in the end. One of my favorite examples of this is The Eagle of the Ninth; go read it.

3. This third stereotype is probably the most common, not because it is such a great idea, but because it is so often looked over. The characteristic of woman to be shy and exceptionally quick at once is so rarely the case in real life, and so often the case in modern literature. Please, tell me the last time you felt capable of slicing and dicing a villain (whether verbally or otherwise) while lying on the couch feeling puny and hiding behind thick-rimmed glasses? It's just not natural. True, a woman has mood swings. True, the shy girls have a lot of talents you wouldn't know about (because they're too scared to share) but if you're too scared to share, why do you think being in a tense situation is going to make her show-and-tell any better? (And on the flip side, have you ever met a girl who can judo-flip a 200-lb man and hides the fact? Women are proud creatures by nature and we probably won't let you forget it.) I speak from experience as a quiet girl: I may have delusions of grandeur but even I know I won't be the first to win a battle of strength. Again, it's all in the balance.

4. And then there's the girl who doesn't do much, yet somehow it comes out that any sucess is by her doing. This is a bit of a caveat for the weaker female characters to still get some time in the spotlight. I must admit - I like to see a good wit winning now and then, but if I'm honest it's usually the hand-work that gets the job done. As fun as it is to let your female characters sparkle and tongue-lash, words don't win real wars. Just keep it in perspective. (This one doesn't apply to all genres.)

5. I'm hesitant to throw this last one in the mix, as a crying woman doesn't seem very perfect to me; I could be far from the mark, though, as I am a woman myself. Nevertheless, she does crop up in a lot of novels these days, and more often than not her weepy nature is blamed on other sources. I'm not sure why this is; it seems everyone wants to blame someone else for his problems, but either way if a woman can't own up to her own faults it makes for a pretty sorry read (side note: a woman who whines about her faults is no better). Give her a reason to cry that is her fault, make her understand it, and yes, maybe a little pettiness will be appropriate - we're being realistic here, as you'll recall. In short: write a girl who cries about the right things, and sometimes the wrong things (because we all do). Don't have her blaming her tears on someone else, and don't make her a soppy mess all the time, unless you intend her as a joke or a caricature.

Female characters are hard work and a lot of maintenance, so keep up the struggle (I'm right there with you).

(Making) Art Is Not For Free

Monday, December 08, 2014

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I've been spending a lot of time and thought on success, lately, as my high school years wane and college decisions loom in the future like very large ghosts. I've found it's acutely simple to get wrapped up in "five-year-plans" and all that lot; while I'm racking my brain and bank account at the thought of college, the things I took true pride in a year ago are in shambles behind me.

It's not even that I don't have time: it is actually that my spare time is spent working for others so I'll be able to publish a book, so I'll be able to buy a friend's. Sometimes it feels like an unbreakable cycle, and as I said to my father the other night, you can't make art for free.

This is not a post to tell you about how I will dust off my bookcase, pick up my pen, and sharpen my eyeliner pencil; I would instead like to share the small ways I've sifted in art among the work, because like a conscience, when ignored for too long your creativity will also shut down.

1. Wake up early.
It's quoted all over Pinterest and Tumblr but there is truth in it; taking time to watch the sunrise puts yesterday's struggles and today's to-be-fought battles in the background and the graceful presense of God in the foreground.

2. Pray.
I cannot tell you how vital this is to success and to peace, for the artist who struggles to balance work and play. I know no other nor better way to refresh my palate than in the presence of my Savior.

3. Take timed Beauty Breaks.
At strategic intervals in the day I will allow myself enough time on Pinterest to repin 5 lovely things. Nothing negative, limited sarcasm (unless it's particularly humorous) and all beautiful; in this way, I feel constantly - if only very gently - inspired.

4. Dress nicely.
It's not the same as writing, but if you tell a story, share a concept, challenge your comfort-zone with what you wear, it tends to bring a little more creativity into the day. Dressing well takes time, and is understandably not always an option; still, make a habit of it and it will begin to come easier.

5. Everything is inspiration.
Last week, I found inspiration for Psithurism during an ACT Test-Prep class. If you look for it, I promise it's there. Just remember to document it, as well - a small note on your phone or a sticky note should do - and it's there to pull back out when you're lacking.

What keeps your creativity going?

November Snippets

Monday, December 01, 2014

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It's December (didn't see that coming, did you?) and among other things, NaNoWriMo is over. It was a full month of writing, I got a lot done, and that means a good, full snippets post for you all. (If you're interested in seeing my stats or reading an extra snippet of Psithurism, you can check out my NaNoWriMo page here.) And for the rest of you, enjoy!

The Snippets:

“Many long days I spent indoors, for I was a woman and I could not work. His work was in the practice of law, and he brought home to me the papers he worked on, and through them taught me the necessary skill. It has been many years since I have studied the written word; still, I believe I could decipher passably now.”
Adair listened to her silence for a while, and she soon realized he expected her to continue, though she did not like what followed.
“His life was taken from me in the warm breath of summer, and for many days I was cold with it and could not find peace.”


“You are a philosopher, sir,” She turned back to give him a smile, and found him staring at her, dark brows quirked like he was figuring a riddle, and she the subject. 


The day was in full-colored array when she next opened her eyes, the swift clamoring of bird-feathers departing from the open window and into the sky’s blue ice. She scrambled to the doorway, child still in the crook of her arms, and gazed in raw astonishment at the day’s glory, distant hills gold and tawny in the mid-morning sunshine, the sky void of a single cloud, as though the wind had swept them all away; a rich green scent filled the air, and it was sharp as pine and rich as evergreen. The ground crunched underfoot with a late frost – though perhaps it was not late for the south – and the trees clung evermore to their red-and-doeskin leaves. 


The sea in his pupils grew stormy and grayish, and she found herself praying, to whom she did not know, for his patience with her. If there is a god of this earth, which she did not doubt, yet did not understand, let him see that I am in need


He did not know what the proper way to do this was, but he brought her shoulders close to his own, wrapping his cloak around them both. Her cool, smooth skin tingled against his, but it felt just right that she should be there, under the hollow of his shoulder-bone, keeping him strong as he kept her warm. There was a partnership between them that a truce could no better sustain.


In later months, he would have described it as horse-like, legs long and slender, whiter than milk, a full body of muscle, and gently flickering tail of alabaster. The rest he could not put into words, for it was the wildest of all. His shoulders were flanked by great, furling wings that seemed to reach to heaven and back in one undulation, rippling with feathers and barely perceptible flecks of gold. From every inch of his body, where fur should have grown, light grew instead, reaching out far into the forest’s dark until Adair forgot entirely where he was. 


“You wake me an hour earlier than necessary. You batter your way into my threshold, and collapse onto my floor like a man on the run, and you refuse to answer me when I question this act. What’s your fear, Edeson? Do not tell me you haven’t one – it is as purple in you as your own dark cloak. I could have heard your heartbeat from my cot if I wished’t.”


The sky was all but black now, and it was in her head that she had seen the place before, experienced the storm she could feel approaching. The clouds were as ink, spilled from a giant well, but the earth was still dry, branching into cracks and shatters that crisscrossed a strange pattern all around her feet. A bird-shriek of lightening sliced down and suddenly her memory returned to her and she knew where she stood. The ground was hot with the day’s sun. A fiercely cold wind whipped her tattered skirt around her legs, and she shivered. 


“You are a queer girl, Ara.”
“I am sorry.” There was nothing else to be said.
“It is not that I am upset at you.”
“No? Are you not always?”
She felt him chuckle then, and shifted her closer to him. She wanted to refuse, but it was impossible; his skin was warm through his clothes, and it seeped into her own skin and weakened her.


     “Come,” Tarquin said firmly. The boy did not move. “Come,” he repeated, very cautious by still very firm.
Adair’s head at last turned, at last he blinked, at last his face showed some faint sign of recognition. His eyes burned like the hottest flames, bright and blue and flickering.
He said nothing, only stared straight through Tarquin’s face, his eyes, his mask. And his stare said more words in better ways than his tongue could have till for the first time, Tarquin felt a sort of crashing within him, like a great wave, and it hurt; he ground his jaw. 
Adair broke into a run down the stairs, his hair flapping as he went – a shadow, dancing – and faded into the darkness below.


November Soundtrack

Thursday, November 13, 2014

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November's nearly half over and the writing is going well (I'm re-writing Psithurism, for those curious) and I figured it was about time to stop and update the blogosphere. I did not, however, have time for a full post. Instead, I'll present to you my November soundtrack, in collaboration with my Psithurism playlist. I hope you enjoy listening to it, and perhaps find a new favorite song. I'm a firm believer that music connects people.

(Psithurism + Otherwise)
1. The entire Gladiator soundtrack by Hans Zimmer
2. Soldatino by Paolo Bennet
3. Dust and Gold by Arrows to Athens
4. The Parting Glass by Ed Sheeran
5. Dante's Prayer by Loreena McKennitt
6. The entire The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King soundtrack by Howard Shore
7. Whole by Rixton
8. The Gael from The Last of The Mohicans by Dougie MacLean
9. Home by Ingrid Michaelson
10. Your Song by Ellie Goulding
11. Ordinary Human by OneRepublic
12. Here and There by The City Harmonic
13. Try by Colbie Callait
14. Wish I Stayed (acoustic) by Ellie Goulding
15. I Know Places by Taylor Swift

What are you listening to as you write (or otherwise) this month?

The Woman Behind Anon, Sir, Anon: An Interview With Authoress Rachel Heffington

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Hello loves! Bree here. Today, in celebration of the iminent release of Anon, Sir, Anon, the brilliant author Rachel Heffington is here to chat about the book, the work behind it, and a peek at what's to come. If you love mysteries (or even if you don't), read on!

1. Tell us a little about yourself as an author! What's your mission statement? Your ideals? What makes you tick? This is always a subject on which I am willing to wax verbose. To spare you, I will try to make a concise answer: My mission has been to put forth fun and decent fiction with a Christian worldview, but not necessarily christian fiction. By which I mean that my writing should appeal to both secular and christian readers. The christian readers will find the christianity understated and understood--with my mysteries, especially, I am not attempting to evangelize the masses--and the secular readers will find themselves curious over what makes my characters tick, why certain issues are more heinous and not taken for granted as they are in most of the modern world today.
What makes me tick? Humor, quaint powers of description (Wodehouse? Milne? Chesterton?), and a sense of a greater Story beyond. Also, epic, sweeping prose. Which I cannot write but definitely appreciate.
2. What first prompted your writing of Anon, Sir, Anon? A random selection off a library shelf. By the time I’d come to the end of P.D. James on Detective Fiction, Farnham was knocking at my mind’s door. It was, essentially, spur-of-the-moment.
3. I heard rumors of Anon, Sir, Anon becoming a bit of a series - can you tell us a little more about that? It was long a principle of mine that I would never attempt a series, strictly because the idea of the mechanics involved scares the pididdle out of me. However, with my mysteries, instances are more isolated. I can contain each story within itself as a semi-stand-alone novel while still complimenting its brothers and sisters within the series. I can handle that, and am fond of such books I have come across in my reading. I love Vivi and Farnham and the town of Whistlecreig which I created for my purposes. My readers have loved them. I look forward to pursuing them on more cases, and have begun writing the second Vivi & Farnham mystery, Scotch’d The Snakes.
4. If you found yourself (like Vivi) going off to help a distant relative and caught in a murder-mystery, what would be your first course of action? Probably a thought of how I could write this into a novel. Truly. I have no powers of logical deduction but I’d simply refuse to be left out of it and employ myself in taking everyones’ characters and aiding in the establishment of suspects, in which field I would accidentally excel. I am also quite willing to take nighttime walks out of doors to track people, things, clues down.
5. To which character in Anon, Sir, Anon do you most closely relate? Vivi. We are not alike, but we are not dissimilar in certain aspects (Jimmy. Ahem. Jimmy.).
6. Did anything surprise you in the writing of Anon, Sir, Anon? Do you think there are aspects of the story that will surprise your readers (other than Whodunnit)? I think traditional-mystery readers will be surprised at the tone of the novel.It’s quite comedic...but I think other readers will be surprised by the gravity of certain moments. I made it a point not to be surprised plot-wise. The author can’t afford it in a mystery. I was, however, happily astonished to find certain lines that are That Sort that make an author proud.
7. If I remember correctly, you drew a map of Whistlecreig. Could you be persuaded to share it, along with your reason/method for creating it? Quite so! The map is included in the book--my wonderful designer actually smashed it in there--but I will be posting it online for readers who want a closer look. I found myself in need of a map by virtue of the fact that the probability of the murder and certain suspects relies heavily on cross-country timing. I also wanted readers to be able to get a feel for Whistlecreig and its environs. And for a third reason, I wanted to be sure I wouldn’t describe directions wrongly and for that, I needed a concrete drawing of the town’s layout.
8. I love reading a good, classic murder-mystery. What books would you say inspired Anon, Sir, Anon? I am probably shooting my own endeavors in the foot by admitting this, but...none. None directly. I am not an aficionado of the genre and simply rolled up my sleeves, researched, and took on the task on a whim.That being said, the classic golden-era mysteries (especially Dorothy L. Sayers) most assuredly inspired the setting. Nothing like Britain for a ripping whodunnit!
9. Mysteries can be complex on their own; I imagine writing them is quite a task. What were some of the ways that you kept details/circumstances/suspects in order? I kept a list of suspects, a list of clues, and a list of what scenes I definitely wanted to have in the book. Then I had an excellent team of beta-readers who would catch slip-ups and let me know. Couldn’t have done it without them! Golly.
10. How do you hope to affect readers with this book? I hope Anon, Sir, Anon takes a different tone than some mysteries when it comes to how the author treats the victim. I want the reader to feel uncomfortable with the fact that someone has been killed. I don’t want a mannequin to have died--it was a real person and it should affect the reader as such. From what I’ve heard from advance-readers, I think I’ve managed it fairly well. But that’s what I hope. Also, I hope the reader wants more Vivi & Farnham. By the time I’d finished writing this mystery, I wanted it to go on! Cannot wait to get on a roll with the next. :)

Thank you so much for having me here, Bree! [and to my readers] I hope to reach a whole new world of readers with this mystery, and that could mean you! So please drop by The Inkpen Authoress--come in! I’d love to know you better. :)

The Miracle of Literature (Guest Post at Fullness of Joy)

Monday, November 03, 2014

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Today I'm visiting lovely Joy's blog! Read a sneak peak of the post here, and click over to read the rest.
Last night I watched, for the first time, the movie Dead Poet's Society. Aside from the unavoidable tear-shed (that caught me by surprise), it got me thinking about literature, poetry, art, and that little je ne sais quoi in a few rare works that rakes you in and clutches your heart. As a writers, I know we all strive for that element, and it is often the determining factor in whether or not the book becomes an all-time favorite...Click here to read the full post.

Quality vs. Quantity

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

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With NaNoWriMo almost upon us, I was all ready to write up a nice pep-talk post to bolster your spirits (and mine), when something my sister said held me back. We were talking about dance, and passions in general, and I started thinking about all the successful writers of history, past and present, and what made them successful.

I know we've all heard the phrase "quality over quantity" a hundred and one times, but if you were expecting this post to say anything about how this is the key to higher page views, or something of the sort, your in the wrong place.

I want to tell you why I think quality work is more important than the speed at which you produce it, for your own sake above anything else. We're artists, you and I - we want our work not just to be loved, we want to be the best in our particular genre. And often, in the rush to keep up with the speed of media these days, we scurry along our work and in the particular case of NaNoWriMo, shove in the extra words to better fit our goal.

The issue with this way of thinking is that you begin to sacrifice the style of your piece of work for the expectations or goals of someone else. Yes, length is nice, but a good, well-crafted sentence is not graded on length but its ability to effectively and artfully relay information.

It may take longer to get to your goal - in fact, I guarantee you it will - but in the end, a 40,000 well-written piece is far more valuable than 50,000 words in dire need of editing. You're not learning or improving on anything by speeding up; in fact, you cripple your ability to write well by scrambling to write "faster" for any extended period of time.

This goes for blog posts as well. I often find myself wanting to post on this space simply for the reason that "I haven't posted something in a while," and while that is completely valid, posting for the sake of posting, writing for the sake of writing, creating for the sake of creating - is missing the point of the process. We create, we write, we design because we have something to share - not because we "think we should."

My father always asks, when I tell him how much I've written in a day, "how many of those words were good words?" And I want to ask you the same thing.

Every word should fight for its existence in your sentence. If it can't make a good case for lodging, it doesn't belong there.

My Top 5 Blogging Tips

Monday, October 20, 2014

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Someone emailed me yesterday asking for some blogging advice, and as I prepared to respond, it occured to me it would be much easier to share it here. I have gotten several of these emails in the past, and I love helping people in whatever small way I can; however, instead of replying to multiple emails, it's much more timely for me to share them here, for anyone and everyone.

I have to preface this with the fact that I am in no ways a blogging expert, and any advice I may share is simply what I've learned through the past 4 1/2 years that I have been blogging. That said, however, I have picked up in a few things that I think are particularly essential.

1. Design (I'm aware this could be considered advertisement. I promise it's not. :)
A good design is like dressing well - it makes reading what you have to say enjoyable, instead of distracting from your content, and it is often the difference between readers that will stay and readers that will go. If the first impression someone gets from your blog is that the design is clunky, they might not stay around to realize how fantastic your content is. That's the sad truth.

2. Consistency of Purpose
When people read your blog, they begin to expect a certain style or general range of topics from you. If they keep coming back, odds are they like it - so don't change it. Try to keep a consistant style and post about the same topics - writing, fashion, fitness - you choose, just stick with it. Dovetailing with this, try to keep to a posting schedule if at all possible (this is the hardest for me). Maybe you always post on Monday mornings, or you share monthly snippets of writing, or you host a recurring event (Chatterbox is a brilliant example). Find your niche, and stick with it.

3. Color
I am, as you can probably tell, a very minimalistic girl. You could attribute this to many factors - I am both claustrophic and OCD, which if you're psycologically-inclined, you could probably trail it back to - however, it is important to add color and interest to your blog. I know we as writers can easily get caught up in the words, and that is very important; it's just as important to break things up with a picture here and there. Keep your pages short and to-the-point, and limit, where possible, the length of your posts as well. I only want to spend so much time looking at a screen per day, and if your post does not feasibly fit into that length, I might have to forgo it.

4. Cleanliness & Housekeeping
Proofread your posts. Try to avoid typos and run-on sentences. Know the basic rules of grammar, and try to formatt things fairly decently (tip: it's better to go basic). Update your pages regularly. Keep your sidebar items to a minimum. If I have to struggle to understand a post due to technical issues, odds are I won't stick around long. Don't make your readers work to understand you; it's just common courtesy, like keeping your house clean.

5. Be Gracious
My favorite blogs are the ones in which the authors interact with the readers; it makes blogging more of a community, and some of my best friendships have been formed this way. It doesn't take long to tell someone thank you, reply to a comment, or read a post. If you want people to promote your blog when you have Special Things happening, it's important to reciprocate. Help other people! Don't get into catfights in the comments section! Remember that people took time out of their day to comment on your blog, even though they didn't have to. You can't build up a readership, frienships, or audiences without helping other people too. The street goes both ways.

Anything you'd like to add? Let's chat!


Monday, October 13, 2014

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"Okay, now you're just repeating company slogans."

As a student and an entrepreneur (of sorts) it is very easy for me to push off responsibilities. This is due to the simple fact that, saving homework, none of my projects have deadlines. I am, in essence, working for myself, and my Self can be very lenient in when it wants something finished. Let's be honest: I am ridiculously good at procrastination, and though I have multiple methods of keeping myself on task (you wouldn't believe the number of notebooks I go through) when the rubber meets the road, if I don't sit my bottom down and do the thing, it doesn't get done. No one else is telling me to "get it done", because the work that I do is firstly for myself.

I'm not just talking about writing here, though I'll admit after a certain amount of papers and homework, I really don't feel like staying at my desk to write anything, even Psithurism. What I'm talking about applies to anything. If you waffle your way over to the computer, check your email, your dashboard, Pinterest and what not, that's another thirty minutes you could have spent furthering your project. (Don't tell me Pinterest is marketing. XD) Do you want to finish the book? Shut off the internet and write. Do you want to create a community with your blog? Reply to the comments, share the post, interact with other bloggers. Do you want a strong core? Do your crunches! Procrastination has a way of snowballing, so the more you push off working on something, the more you'll continue to do just that.

It all boils down to this: we make time for the things that are important to us. If what your working on is really worth it to you (and I'll bet it is), make time for it. I know firsthand that busy people get twice as much done as those with free time because they've learned to milk their minutes.

For you as much as me, it needs to be said: do it now. Don't wait for tomorrow, for more time, for the right inspiration or whatever other excuses you have. The time is now. Write the book, clean the cupboard, paint the picture. You'll wish you did tomorrow. w

PLENILUNE: Cover Reveal!

Monday, October 06, 2014

It's no secret I (and many others in our online community) have been anxious to both read this book and share it with you. Plenilune, planetary fantasy (don't know what that is? click here) by Jennifer Freitag is due to release on the 20th of October (consequentially my birthday) and today? You finally get to see its killer cover.

So who is Jennifer Freitag?
JENNIFER FREITAG lives with her husband in a house they call Clickitting, with their two cats Minnow and Aquila, and their own fox kit due to be born in early December.  Jennifer writes in no particular genre because she never learned how, she is make of sparks like Boys of Blur, and if she could grasp the elements, she would bend them like lightning.  Until then, she sets words on fire.Living with her must be excruciating. Read her blog | Find her on Goodreads 

And what is Plenilune?
The fate of Plenilune hangs on the election of the Overlord, for which Rupert de la Mare and his brother are the only contenders, but when Rupert’s unwilling bride-to-be uncovers his plot to murder his brother, the conflict explodes into civil war.
To assure the minds of the lord-electors of Plenilune that he has some capacity for humanity, Rupert de la Mare has been asked to woo and win a lady before he can become the Overlord, and he will do it—even if he has to kidnap her.
En route to Naples to catch a suitor, Margaret Coventry was not expecting a suitor to catch her.
This is one book you can judge by its cover; Freitag will burn hearts and worlds alike with this stunning piece. (Click here to read my advanced review - and while you're at it, add Plenilune to your to-read shelf.)

September Snippets

Saturday, September 27, 2014

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"And strange how clouds that look like mountains in the sky / are next to mountains anyway."

I've finally gotten back into the swing of writing (fitting it into my schedule and sorting ideas into reality) and I figured it's about time I let you all read some snippets. I'm writing all over the place at the moment, so the snippets were chosen accordingly. It also occured to me that this post might serve to explain the difference in writing-style between my three main novels: Psithurism and Gumusservi are obviously sister works, but the style does vary slightly between the two; as previously stated, Finding My Balance is far more delineated than most of my work.

I hope you enjoy them. :)


"A dark shadow flew in her face, a scream lodged in her throat, yet somehow she didn’t faint. Instead, an odd voice in the back of her mind told her she was a silly girl to be afraid of the dark. It sounded a bit like her mother."

"“Ara,” she squeaked, colouring and hoping the dark would cover for her. It was not an extraordinary false name, but it would do. The man was studying her curiously, and the child in her arms sniffed. “Just Ara? No surname, nor title?” “Have you trouble comprehending it?” “No, no – only, it is not every night one finds an Ara.” Gooseflesh appeared on her arms."

"Her heart squeezed with a sudden, senseless desire for the intangible Home, and though it was just that – senseless – the coolness of it, like a gasp of fresh air, caught in her throat and stuck hard."
"She slid a fair hand into his hard one. She was wild, brash, foolish; it was the first decision she’d ever made on her own."

"The desert is thick. Many other places are full with shrubs or water, or places and people, death or life. They are crowded to bursting with something, and that Something defines them. But the desert is not full - no, it is full with something else. It is an emptiness that occupies it all, that fills the hollow, dusty void. The thick depth aches for something to fill it, while rejecting, with its very nature, life itself. The Nothingness thickens, clots like blood in the heat, covers up the hole within itself. Such a noose can steal the life from something, and whatever, or whomever finds herself caught in the nothingness is gone.
Down in the rich woods of southern Vita Anima there lived an old woman, suffocating like a flame under a glass, remembering."

"“Fast fellow, ain’t he?” The new boy’s accent was quite obviously New Yorker, but all she could see now were the lights on the ceiling of the gallery, shining like so many burning stars, and the feeling in her heart that the entire world was thrown madly out of proportion."

"“I didn’t want it all to end. I thought we all…I thought we had an understanding. I thought if a man” she heaved a sob “I thought if a man kissed a girl it meant he loved her.”
“Maybe he’s not a man, then. Maybe he’s nothing more than a foolish boy. We’re not in the south, at any rate. Men kiss and run, and you’re better off avoiding them altogether.” Maria seemed to speak from experience, but Scarlett was still thinking about Hugo."

"Smack. “That’s what you get for playing with me.”
She hoped to heaven his cheek hurt good, and raced out into the night. It should have been the perfect exit. It should have felt like victory, and she should have never looked back."

Favorites? Tips? Questions? I want to know!

Writing Is Not Architecture

Thursday, September 18, 2014

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In editing a paper yesterday, I began to think about writing, and how terms like "parallel construction" et al make writing into architecture - and what that means. In academic writing, one building-block at a time we stack up our stories until we have a firm cement construction that is the Argumentative Essay.

Well. That's all well and good if you want to write a tight argument and convince someone of the validity of your point on some issue, but that's not how we write books.

I see it this way: argumentative writing is your workout routine. It's healthy, and very good at all around tightening, toning and perfecting you(r writing skills). When it comes to writing literature, however, we get to freestyle. And dance is not always symmetrical - that's the beauty of it. Some lines (or in this case, sentences) will be beautiful, elongated, wordy, they'll fill your soul with all the richness and beauty of expression that is creative writing. But then there are these guys. The short, steady one. In dance, these are the static, heavy movements, and the contrast between the two is what makes a piece so captivating and keeps your reader reading, or your audience watching. Without each other, both sentences become monotonous and dull. No amount of profuse vocabulary (highfalutin-mumbo-jumbo, as Gilbert would have it) will make that sentence new, unless you break it up with something easier to chew on. No amount of defeatist drama in those 4-5 word sentences will grab your reader any faster if you don't incorporate some longer sentences and let your writing flow for once.

See the thing about architecture is it assumes similarity. For every flowery, Grecian pillar, (or sentence) you need three others for the remaining, respective corners of the structure. But with creative writing, we get the freedom to stack a tall, flowering pillar next to a short, squat one, next to a sharp square one and so on. The resulting myriad of sentence-lengths is what creates rhythmic, living writing, with that sort of je ne sais quoi that perhaps now vous sais quoi precisement. 

So please, for the sake of all of us reading, vary your sentence length. Nobody. Wants. To. Read. Like. This.

Being Brave (about what you write)

Monday, September 15, 2014

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I've had a thought that I'd like to share - and I'd love if you continued the discussion with me.

I've read countless posts on the importance of being brave with your writing. Rah rah! they cheer. You're going to write this novel, slay those characters, and burn the hearts of your readers on a post.

Have you read them too? There seems to be a glorification in the world of literature these days of punchy, bloody, gutsy stories. I don't mind it, to be honest. If there's one thing I despise, it's dishonesty; forced gentleness. What I don't like is blood for the sake of blood; vulgarity for the sake of 'honesty'.

There is a time for bloodshed, possibly in every story. There will definitely be places for tears and emotions, if your book is any good. But when your writing becomes entirely raw, emotional struggles, or hardcore battle scenes? That's too much to work through. Reader's shouldn't be made to suffer that much. Yes, in buying your book they are choosing to live in your world for the duration of the plot. Yes, you as the author have the freedom to write the book the way you feel it must be written. But at the end of the day, people will not read a book that holds a sword under their chin from page 1 to page 100. That's just not fair.

So what exactly is being brave in writing, if you can't terrorize your readers and give them reason to believe there's no escape (until the last second).

Being brave in your writing means holding your own.
That means that whatever the world says about life is not necessarily what you say. It means while the rest of the world writes cheap fiction, while your friends write in styles that you admire but could never master, you hold to your own style. It means using gentleness and punchiness in their turns, for specific purposes, and not simply to catch readers with your saber-tip title or to look like you know what you're doing. Violence might be a part of that. But you must not be afraid you use weakness, too. All bloodshed and murder and gore only deplete the sanctity of life. Even if your story requires death, even if it requires a lot of it, give your readers (and yourself) a breather. A small peaceful moment. One person's life that isn't destroyed. Two characters that eventually do find love. A happy ending for a minor character at least. It might not be what everyone else is doing, but your story will be the better for it.

Brave doesn't mean blood. Brave means you don't back down.

How To Edit Your Novel

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

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"It's been so must be fireproof / Cause nobody saves me baby the way you do"

Some of you may or may not know that I am editing my personal novel Finding My Balance at the moment. I intended to start at the outset of summer, and finish before the schoolyear began. Er, whoops. That didn't happen. Actually, from the first day of summer straight through to the first day of September, I probably found time to write thrice. Who would have thought summer would be busier than the school year?

All that aside, I have begun editing it now that school has brought things back down to a dull roar, and I thought I'd share my method with you. Just, you know, in case you would like to use it or it would be helpful. Or something like that.

The Editing Process

1. Write the novel.

2. Highlight your entire document bright, in-your-face, neon yellow.
The purpose of this (aside from blinding you) will be explained. Keep reading.

3. Find your favorite scenes and paste them into a seperate document.
For me, these were the prologue and the last two scenes of the book. These will stay untouched for a decent length of time until I have edited the rest of the book and can come back to them with a fresh perspective.

4. Edit.
One scene/chapter/page at a time, depending on the day, I copy and paste said section into a blank document and work exclusively at it until I feel it's reached its full potential (for the time being). Some scenes are hard, and I might need to save them seperately for a day or two while I work on them. The point is: don't put it back in the original document until you like it - every bit of it - and until it works.

5. The highlighting makes sense
because the edited scenes, after being pasted back into the original document in exchange for their former selves, will not be highlighted. The words-to-be-worked-on stick out like a sore thumb, and I don't accidentally skip over the scene that I also happen to dread working on. (Ahem.)

I should also add that I was not very far into the Finding My Balance rewrite when I found I could not edit in chronological order. This is okay. Write what you're ready to write (just don't forget about the hard scenes). 

Happy editing!

What's Up, Where I've Been, and What To Look Out For

Monday, September 01, 2014

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Grab yourself a cup of tea, I've got some things to share, dear friends.

So it's no secret I've been M.I.A. here. Heck, I've only posted once between now and July. Gracious. Has it really been that long? How does one waltz back into blogging after a month-long unnanounced hiatus? Does she start with some profuse, wordy apology, or is it more like "Hello, I'm Bree Holloway and I've neglected my blog for too long"? Does she need an introduction? Does she launch back into it as though nothing happened?

Though I'll never properly learn how to start a blog post, I do know that school started (hello!) and well, there are some pretty huge changes on the horizon for this space that I can't wait to share with you all (as if you haven't heard that one before).

Before we go anywhere, though, I've got some things to say.

1. YOU. Yes you, reading this right now, you are fantastic. I've been reflecting a lot lately on what a blessing it is that I get to chat with and become friends with so many wonderful women. Guys, our community is special. I don't ever want blogging to become a chore; I appreciate you like you wouldn't believe.

2. I'm not going anywhere. I've seen it happen so many times: someone changes her blog, talks about all the excitement up ahead, and before you know it gone and become different, and not the quaint homey place you started out loving. You miss the old sphere and the author that went with it. I've been through it multiple times, and I don't like it. Whatever happens to this place, (I can't say any more yet, sorry) I'm still me; I'm still your weird little Bree. And I still love you all. ^.^ That got real deep real fast.

3. I will explain all of this. Eventually. This post is ridiculously cryptic and I understand if you are all very confused. To be honest, I have no way how to relay enough of this information that you get a feel for what's coming, without spoiling anything. But there will be an explaination post, everything laid clean and all questions spoken for, because I dislike being confused, and I dislike confusing people. :)

Why was I gone so long? I felt that I did not have anything I wanted to share with you all just yet. I have been writing again, mostly working on Finding My Balance, but to be honest, I was afraid to share snippets with you of the progress there. Admittedly, it is not my best work, and I'm getting the kickback I knew I eventually would hit from leaving off writing for so long. Actually, it's sort of punched me in the gut. I've done a lot of academic writing and not much else for so long that my creative writing is a little crippled.

I'm almost relearning how to write, and it's pulling teeth. I sleep better at night knowing at least some of these unnending thoughts are saved safely and typed out cohesively. I can leave them off, and my brain is more at ease. I'm loving the heck out of it.

There you go - a bit of chicken scratch to colour your evening, and a peek into what's coming. I'm quite excited to share what I've been working on with all of you, and if I'm not mistaken, you'll be excited too. 

July Favorites

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

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It's been too long since I've posted here, but instead of diving back into the swing of things in full verbal-splendour, I'm starting a new habit: monthly favourites. A break in the topic-swing, a little light-hearted chatter with you all (because you're my favorites) and sharing the things that made my month and might make yours too.

Thanks to Emily Chapman for the idea behind this post.

Plenilune, obviously. (Don't know what this is? Click here.) Hang on to your hats, ladies - October's going to have a slam-bang finish.

Being healthy is hard work. I'm a self-professed sweet tooth, and while I could resist pasta/bread/pastry all day, if you offer me chocolate I'll have a lot more trouble refusing. That being said, I splurged a week or two ago on a caramel frapuccino (I swear I'll never spell that right) at Starbucks with my treat receipt and literally finished it off in about 10 minutes. My stars. Go give it a try.

There are several posts that I could list here, because I happen to read some fantastic blogs, but I've forgotten what they are over the course of the month because I'm not too great at remembering things. My favorite this week, then, was this one by Katie (which was technically posted in August, as it happens). I happen to be juggling a lot of responsiblities at the moment, which is part of growing up I suppose, but this definitely helped me slow down and breathe a minute. It's a short, quick read, and definitely worth your time. I don't care how busy you are - go read it. ;)

You all know my music tastes dabble in practically every genre - I like a good beat and a ridiculously large sound, but also highland-esque melodies, a dash of Billy Joel and soundtracks that soar. (I'm literally all over the board.) However, this month I've been particularly obsessed with Ed Sheeran's rendition of The Parting Glass. There's just something about his voice that I've been playing this song over. and. over.

My style is quite Parisian & mostly simplistic, so it won't surprise you that lately I've found myself particularly drawn to stripes - thin in particular. Navy and white, black and white, blush pink and black - I love it all.

As I haven't had a chance to do much book-work lately, I've been journalling a ton. I've loved making my journal a place for creative writing as well - poetic observations on life and all that jazz. And it's nice to not think about any sort of editing - just writing for the sake of keeping memories for myself.

What have you been loving this month?


Monday, July 28, 2014

Many of you may (or may not) be aware that Jennifer Freitag of The Penslayer is due to self-publish her in-the-wings novel Plenilune very soon. The question is: when?

I could be a nice blogger and just give it to you, right there.


You also could be one of those people who scrolls down to the release date, expecting it to be large and red and emboldened at the bottom of the post.

(I'm not making it that easy.)

It also might occur to you that you have not yet been told even the subject of this book - which will determine whether searching for the date is worth it or not.

(...You're probably right.)
The fate of Plenilune hangs on the election of the Overlord, for which Rupert de la Mare and his brother are the only contenders, but when Rupert’s unwilling bride-to-be uncovers his plot to murder his brother, the conflict explodes into civil war.To assure the minds of the lord-electors of Plenilune that he has some capacity for humanity, Rupert de la Mare as been asked to woo and win a lady before he can become the Overlord, and he will do it—even if he has to kidnap her. En route to Naples to catch a suitor, Margaret Coventry was not expecting a suitor to catch her. 
Now you've firmly decided to buy the book upon it's release, you'll want to know the earliest date you can possibly purchase it. (Hint: it's also my birthday.)
Haven't figured it out yet?

your date-choosing skills are on point, jenny.

So if you feel like celebrating my birthday with me (hurrah!) or you just want to buy a fantastic book, mark your calendars for October 20th! I'll be participating in the cover reveal of Plenilune as well, so keep your eyes trained on this page in the meantime: it's something you won't want to miss.

That wasn't too hard now, was it?


How To Be A Writer

Monday, July 21, 2014

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[A list, because at the moment my brain does not do anything but. 2-week packing does that to ya.]

1. Dedicate Yourself
You can't just 'like' something to pursue it: you have to want it (and be willing to live, eat, breathe and dream about it). You know you're doing it right when your characters are as much a part of your household conversations as you are.

2. Be Prepared To Loose Your Sanity
Characters and story lines will dominate your thoughts whether you want them to or not. 

3. You'll Probably Start Liking Enya
It's just part of the job description. And no one quite knows the reason.

4. Your Friends Will Ask To Read Your Book
...When obviously that first draft is anything but legible! Don't worry, they'll soon resort to asking once a year whether you've finished "that book yet." Much better.

5. Grab Some Tea
An age-old standby, really.

6. Throw Your Inner Editor Out The Window
You can invite him back in when you've finished writing the actual book.

7. You'll Be Asked What You Do "At That Computer All Day"
And when you explain, they probably won't believe you.

8. Be Prepared To Be Ridiculed For Calling Pinterest Research
They really won't understand this one.

9. You Will Still Be Thinking About Writing On Breaks
Hey, your characters would get lonely at home by themselves!

10. You Could Read 101 Tips On Being A Writer
But until you sit down and type, the page is still blank. Funny how that works.

Right. Best of luck!
(this post is in jest. please do not take it too seriously. XD)
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