Just finished novel number ten…

If that title didn’t get you, I don’t know what will!

For my ‘superfans’ (Are there any? Not sure, but maybe. A girl can dream…) who know I’ve only published two novels, with another on the way in March, you might be wondering- where are the other seven? Why can’t I read the other seven?

Chill out, Veruca Salt. Eventually, I do hope these will all be released.

While some of my unpublished novels don’t have titles (most do), and are in various stages of editing madness, publication possibilities, and other states that come before actual book copies are available for your enjoyment, it is tremendously exciting to me to have met so many characters, created their worlds, and helped them solve their problems.

And, of course, find love. Isn’t that what this is all about?

So, while my latest novel, (for now) titled ‘Always Yours Forever’, is complete in the strictest sense, I’ve only just today sent it to a trusted beta reader for my first round of feedback.

Here’s hoping sweet, goofy Lorenzo and sassy, straight-laced Tillie bring that reader the enjoyment they brought me.

And more, that soon enough you’ll be reading their story, along with the rest of what I’ve done.

No worries, I don’t plan on stopping any time soon, friends. And I intend to take you along on this journey with me. All the highs (and lows- hoping there aren’t many of those!) will be ours to share and enjoy!

In the mean time, while you wait for whatever is coming next from me– have you pre-ordered your copy of ‘Lucy in Love’ (and the rest of the books in this series) yet?

Here’s the link in case-

Happy reading!

My latest WIPs

Hello friends!

As I seek to revamp this blog into a more casual conversation intended to keep you in the loop with my writing, works in progress, appearances, and releases,  I thought I’d start this change with a quick view of what I’ve been working on recently.

Since the release of my first novel, Picking Daisy, I’ve been fortunate enough to have alucy cover mediumnother published novel, Forgiving Tess. Both novels have been very well-received by readers with numerous positive and encouraging reviews. If you haven’t read either of them yet, by all means, please check them out!

Currently, I’m looking forward to the release of my next work, a novella, titled ‘Lucy in Love’ that is part of a series called ‘Ponder This’. ‘Lucy’ is scheduled for March 6th publication. My hope is that this novella will be equally enjoyed by my readers.

In addition to these projects and my ‘day-to-day’ job teaching, I’ve also finished numerous other novels, as well as a novella continuing the story of Robby and Daisy from ‘Picking Daisy’- stay tuned on that one as I’m considering self-publishing it as a ‘freebie’ for signing up for my newsletter, which I also plan to start soon. You, blog readers, will be the first to know when it’s ready as well as how to take advantage of this great deal.

As for the other ‘finished’ novels (is a novel ever really finished? Even after publication?), I hope to be able to get them to you sometime in the coming days, months, or years ahead in any number of ways, so as I said already- stay tuned! I promise to keep you posted!

I am excited for this improved blog, and to communicate in fun, new ways with you, my wonderful readers!

Happy reading!

A little late to the New Year’s Party

While many of you were making resolutions (and breaking them) I was letting this blog run itself because, quite honestly, I’ve had a very busy time of it lately.

And thankfully for all of you, I’m also a planner who’d scheduled the blogs (with the help of several guest writers) well into the months ahead. But now, I’m at the end of that pre-planned run and reconsidering, as I have been for some time, the direction of this blog.

Previously I’d considered my audience to be fellow writers looking for advice and inspiration, but increasingly I’m thinking it’s time to regroup and focus on another group altogether– readers.

Apologies to the writers in the audience. But stay with me. I’m hoping you, too, will be happy with this turn of events, and I do intend to continue, at times, with writing advice and inspiration. After all, those old habits die hard.

As I work on planning some blogs for the weeks ahead I intend to incorporate more about my own writing, my process, and especially characters, casting, and music. I hope you like the results, but as always, I’m open to your feedback and insights too.

Let’s have a fun time of it, shall we?

Happy reading, friends!

Lady Trent’s World of Dragons

Please enjoy this blog post by guest writer Mark Brestensky.

blog mark B pic 1

Personally, I’ve always been a fan of stores with a medieval fantasy setting. Something about the idea of knights in shining armor fighting powerful dragons always captivated me. If it involved a dragon, I would be instantly drawn toward it.

One day, I was looking for a new book to read when I stumbled upon In the Labyrinth of Drakes: A Memoir by Lady Trent. The title stood out to me more so than other titles I looked at. Never before had I been interested in a memoir. But it involved a labyrinth of dragons, so naturally I decided to get the book.

What I did not expect was the actual setting. Going into the book, I assumed it would take place in a medieval world, with knights and kingdoms. However, to my surprise, the story actually takes place in a Victorian era. The book’s true author, Marie Brennan, had taken my expectations and twisted them into a much more interesting setting.

blog mark B pic2

The setting’s locations are fictional, but are based on real world locations. For example, the main character’s homeland, Scirland, is based on parts of Europe. Quarrat, where most of the story takes place, is based on Middle Eastern culture. By relating these fictional locations to real world locations, the reader can better interact with the story and relate to it. Outside these fictional locations, only one fantasy element can be found: dragons.

Dragons are crucial to the military effort of the world Brennan created. Dragon bone is said to be the hardest material, and is prefect to make military ships and weapons. Logic would dictate that since dragon bone is so valuable, there would be dragon farms everywhere to produce more. Unfortunately, dragon breeding is a nearly impossible task in this world; a task which even the greatest minds cannot figure out.

This Victorian fantasy world plays well off the main character of the story, Isabella. Isabella, who is recounting her adventures through her memoirs, is a woman scholar and explorer. This can cause problems for her, however, as the Victorian setting reveals the hardships women faced.

Isabella often goes unacknowledged by her peers, and her life is seemingly covered in various scandals. The bulk of this story in particular also takes place in a fantasy version of the Middle East, and as such there are even more hardships Isabella must face. The book shows how Isabella must face the hardships of her gender in a time where women were expected to tend to the home.

When Isabella and her friend and colleague Tom are given the opportunity to revive a program that focuses on the prospect of successfully breeding dragons, the two immediately accept the opportunity. In their Quarrat lab, Isabella and Tom reunite with their friend Suhail, avoid a raid from a hostile nomad group, escape kidnapping, attempt to breed dragons with little success, viewing a dragon mating flight, and find themselves inside the long-abandoned Labyrinth of Drakes.

With so much adventure within the book, what could be a boring explanation of science experiments becomes an interesting and thrilling experience. These experiences are enhanced through the memoir style of writing. Brennan provides great detail no different people and situations, which allows readers to both picture Isabella experiences and what she thinks of these experiences.

As Isabella goes through the story, she will sometimes recount her previous adventures. At first, I thought it was just more great writing that allowed people to imagine all sorts of crazy adventures before this one. As it turns out, however, these adventures actually happened in other books! I had accidentally started the series on the fourth book.blog mark b pic3.jpg

What I liked about how In the Labyrinth of Drakes handled these moments is how I could understand them without reading the other books. Reading the other books in the series helps with the understanding of Isabella, recalls of her previous adventures, but they aren’t required.

Overall, In the Labyrinth of Drakes has excellent writing, both in its world building and characterizations. Isabella is a likable protagonist who you want to see succeed in her academic endeavors. Brennan expertly writes Isabella’s memoirs as if she was actually in this world she created and experienced everything she wrote about. Although, if this article interests anyone, I would recommend that you start at the first book, A Natural History of Dragons.

Working your way through writer’s block

A guest blog post by Thomas Frick

There have been a couple of blog posts I’ve seen here about writer’s block, so I wanted to take a stab at it, in no small part because I’ve been facing some pretty intense writer’s block preparing for this article. Here’s a list of some of the things I do to get through writer’s block.

  1. Get alone. If you have a roommate, one of the most distracting things in the world may be feeling like they want to talk to you while you need to work. The solution? Get away! Finding a place to work undisturbed is vital to getting writing done. Sure, blog thomas frick picwe have endless ways to distract ourselves while writing, but it’s so much easier to tell yourself to shut up and stop getting in the way than it is to tell a friend to shut up.
  2. Start early in the morning. This might be more contested among the night owls out there, but I find the easiest time to force myself to write is in the early hours of the day, when almost no one is awake. Being able to visit public spaces that feel empty is amazing for the imagination. Writing for me always feels a bit like an adventure into the unknown: I may know my destination or my route, but never both. Seeing emptiness gets me excited to go explore the depths of my thoughts.
  3. Throw out formality. Sometimes, the hardest point for me is when I have an idea of what I want to write about, but I can’t find the right words to put on the screen (or my paper). Often, I realize I’m trying to craft the perfect sentence in my head, so I never have to come back and edit my paper. That’s dumb. If I have the idea in my head, it’s more important to communicate it than to craft prose to make God weep. Sometimes, this means abandoning writing altogether and making an outline.
  4. Put on some instrumental music. This is, perhaps, the most dangerous part of my techniques to try to work through writer’s block. I normally will put on classical music, which is dramatic enough to be incredibly distracting. The point of putting on music is not to listen to the music – it’s to create a white noise to drown out the sound of both nothing and of others talking around each other. If the music you’ve picked is distracting you, then it’s not helpful and you should turn it off. In this way, playing music can be dangerous to working through writer’s block. This tip is for when time marches inevitably onwards, and you’ve lost those beautiful early morning hours where you can work in peace and solitude to the crowds of the general public.
  5. Explain your writing to someone else. In the event that you are still stuck, find a trusted friend and talk to them about what you’re trying to write. You can explain to them the prompt, your ideas, your lack of ideas, why you’re getting stuck, fears you may have about the writing, and much more. Please note that this is unlikely to directly result in words hitting a page. Instead, this is meant to help you attack a piece of writing from different angles. I find that this is my least favored solution, because I’m often too proud to admit to being stuck on writing. However, when I do take it, I find myself with more ideas than I can write down. I just need to be careful to write something

One last thing: when you hit the end of a piece, always take some time to reflect on what you’ve written. Have you communicated your points well? Developed a character? Moved the plot forward? Discovered something about yourself? Writing doesn’t need to just satisfy some requirement: giving information on an article, fulfilling a school assignment, or finishing a research paper. Writing can and should always be also a process of self-discovery. Have fun with your writing and discover something new about yourself.

 

Happy Writing.

Overcoming Graphophobia

A guest blog post by Jacob Shirk

Have you ever read something and thought, “Wow, this is so good; I could never write like that.” Or maybe you’ve said to yourself, “I’m just not a good writer; I suck at this.” These are both things that I told myself for a very long time. I’m here to tell you not to make the same mistake that I did!

 

Throughout high school, I hated writing. I felt like I was awful at it, and it got to the point that I would become physically uncomfortable thinking about writing. I couldn’t bring myself to start writing something, and if I did start writing, what I wrote was awful because I was so focused on how much I hated what I was doing and how bad I thought I was at it.

 

But when I came to college, I began to realize something: I could no longer afford to feel awful about my writing. I needed to find ways to get better. Here are the three things that I did to fix my problem:

  • I shifted my mindset
  • I practiced
  • I got help and feedback

 

A mindset shift can be the most important step in improving at something. The biggest problem I knew I needed to address was my feeling that I was never going to be good at writing and that I wasn’t creative enough for it. I began looking at it from the viewpoint of “I’m getting better at writing” rather than “I’m awful at writing.” Every great writer, no matter who they are, had to start somewhere.

 

The second most important step in getting better at something is practice, practice, and more practice. The way I went about this was sitting down every day, setting a ten minute timer, and writing about a random topic. I had no direction, plan, or anything of the sort. I just spewed thoughts onto the page. As silly as this may sound, this helped me learn how to translate my internal dialogue onto a page for others to see.

 

Finally, I got help! I brought my writing to everyone, my family, my friends, my roommate, my professors, really anyone with a pair of eyes that could give feedback. You are never alone: there will always be someone who can help you make your writing better. Realizing this made my life so much easier. Having other people’s eyes on a project can mean getting valuable points of view or improvements that you might not have otherwise gotten.

 

Over the course of my first semester in college, I went from someone who was terrified of writing, to a confident, well-spoken writer. If you feel like maybe you’re awful at writing, and you feel like you can’t get better, all is not lost! Have hope for yourself! Don’t let yourself believe that you can’t get better at something. You might not be the best writer ever, but everyone has something important to share with the world,  and writing can be one of the best ways to share it.

 

Good luck and happy writing!

4 Ways Visual Art Helps Reduce Writer’s Block

Please enjoy this blog post by guest writer Anna Busalacchi. 

Writer’s Block is frustrating—especially with the pressure and expectation that we must feel inspired all the time. Sometimes, finding inspiration isn’t as easy as some make it seem.

With my interest in all things artsy, I researched the connections between visual art and writing and have put together a list of 4 ways visual art and images can help you reduce writer’s block.

  1. Draw ideas in a Sketchbook.

Instead of writing out your ideas with words, try drawing them! You do not have to be “good” at drawing by any means. Think of a sketch like the brainstorming part of the writing process. Take a sketchbook and some pens or pencils and try to visualize your ideas on the paper. This will give you concepts to refer to later. Feel free to add color as well.

  1. Create Pinterest Boards.

This is a popular option, but so worth it! Creating Pinterest boards for different concepts or ideas can be a great way to reduce that horrible writer’s block. Even if you do not have any specific ideas in mind at all, just start by making some boards with similar-looking photos. How do the photos in the board make you feel? What do they represent? Asking these questions can help to spark a little bit of inspiration.

 

anna b blog post.png  screenshots taken from my Pinterest: faithfullyblooming

 

  1. Try Art Therapy.

Art Therapy can come in many different forms, but it’s a great way to reduce stress and clear your mind from any distractions that may keep you from coming up with ideas.

  • Focus on how you are feeling and try to draw or paint your emotion(s).
  • Make a collage of photos that can act as an inspiration or goal board. This one is almost like making a Pinterest board, but instead, you physically will print, cut, and arrange photos.
  • Color! Grab a coloring book, or print some coloring sheets, and gather some colored pencils, crayons, or markers and just color. This one is super simple and doesn’t take much thinking, yet, still gets your brain thinking more creatively.

Here’s a link to 100 Art Therapy Exercises for more ideas:

https://www.expressiveartworkshops.com/expressive-art-resources/100-art-therapy-exercises/

  1. Write about art.

Take a trip to a local museum or search online for some images of famous artwork. Simply write about what you see in the painting and come up with a meaning for the artwork. Your interpretation is completely unique to you and there is no right or wrong answer. Focusing in on the artwork helps to enhance creativity and stimulate deeper thinking. Make up a backstory for the subject in the painting. Write about who or what the subject is, where they came from, or what brought them to where they are in the painting. This automatically gives you a little writing prompt to help bring you out of your rut!

Which technique sounds most interesting to you? Leave a comment below!

Guest Blog: What Not To Do When Making a Book into a Film

Please enjoy this guest blog by Hannah Stiller!

We’ve all had a favorite book made into a movie. Since films like Gone with the Wind and earlier, Hollywood has been turning well-loved literature into visual masterpieces. However, it is undeniable that among the many, many renditions there are some that are better than others. This is not the purest argument where a book to film is not good unless it is the word for word visualization of what each individual person who read the book saw, rather I would like to suggest a standard to hold these films to which movies based off of books in the past have set. Here are three suggestions for successfully turning a book into a good film.

  1. Keep the storyline the same

Some of the worst book to film movies take way too much liberty when changing the storyline. Others such as The Fellowship of the Ring, and Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe do it gracefully. The filmmakers of these saw that there were too many details (think Tom Bombadil in the Fellowship) which would not translate into film. Other films such as Percy Jackson and the Lighting Thief misidentify plot points for details and end up changing the whole flow of the story.

  1. Don’t introduce new or change existing characters.

Book lovers around the world create strong ties of identification with characters from their favorite stories. That those characters will change when they are put on the screen is a possibility, but there are many which go far over the line. Tauriel in The Hobbit, for example, was not an original character in Tolkien’s book (neither was Legolas but that’s a different argument). The introduction of her character completely changed the story arguably for the worse. Changing characters can also be harmful as exemplified in Jack Reacher, a tall dark hero portrayed by a short Tom Cruise. The movie itself can be considered good, but its interpretation of the book is pretty poor.

  1. Don’t Consult the Fans

Hear me out. Some of the best book to films have been created by directors and producers with highly critical eyes, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Jason Bourne. Some of the worst have been brought to life by fans of the books, Percy Jackson, Beautiful Creatures, Divergent, and Valerian. While this can be a topic of great debate, history strongly suggests that an unbiased opinion often has the clearest vision.

Do you agree with these suggestions? There are certainly many others and possibly no perfect way to turn a book into a film, but we all love a good story and hated to see them turn out badly. Comment below if you think of more ways to make a good book into a good movie.

The Best 3 Holiday Desserts to Impress a Crowd

Please enjoy this guest post by writer Gracie Turnbaugh.

It’s official. The holiday season is here! This time of year isn’t complete without a plate of goodies everywhere you look. So as you prepare to plan for your next holiday party, or just want to bake some tasty treats for your family, these three recipes will be perfect for every occasion. 

 

Christmas Crack 

This dessert is deemed “crack” for a reason! Your guests won’t be able to stop reaching for this. With just five ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry, this recipe can be whipped up in no time. Feel free to make the recipe your own by substituting the chocolate chips for white or dark chocolate chips, or adding other toppings like graham cracker crumbs, pretzels, or whatever else you’re craving! 

https://www.iheartnaptime.net/christmas-crack/ 

 Gingerbread Cookies 

It’s not Christmas without gingerbread cookies. This recipe has been used by my family for years and I’m sure it will continue to be passed down to generations. With its delicious use of spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg in combination with sweet molasses, this recipe will leave your guests wanting more. Decorate with sprinkles or icing if you’re feeling extra festive. 

https://medium.com/@gracieanna22/gingerbread-cookies-37467ccb1ee9 

Vanilla Sugar Cutout Cookies

This cookie is another classic. You can’t go wrong with a simple sugar cookie, and with the help of cute cookie cutters, icing and food coloring, and a couple sprinkles, these cookies will be the talk of the party. This recipe has been in my family for years because of its simple yet delicious taste! 

https://medium.com/@gracieanna22/vanilla-sugar-cutout-cookies-b3e4298a044 

 

 Happy baking! 

Three Fun and Easy Activities to do at Home for the Holidays with Your Loved Ones

Please enjoy this blog post by guest writer Erica Johns.

The holiday season is usually known for being tons of fun, but it can be hard sometimes to think of things to do inside. This becomes a problem when we aren’t quite feeling up to bracing the cold winter weather. Here are three ideas so that you can have fun with your friends, family, or a significant other, while staying warm!

Cookie Decorating

Who doesn’t love a good Christmas cookie? However, this idea can go much further than just your typical activity of baking cookies. I recommend adding an element of competition while decorating. Make sure you are stocked up on decorating supplies. Starting with the frosting, you should have at least a few flavors of frosting for the base, as well as many colors of gel frosting for smaller designs. Then moving on to toppings, chocolate chips and a variety of sprinkles are always a good idea. However, my personal favorite are the little candy letters, getting to write little messages on your cookies can be a lot of fun. Then, pick an unbiased judge, and see who can create the best decorated cookies! It might even be fun to have categories; most colorful, tastiest, most creative, etc.

Another fun twist on this idea would be a Cookie Swap Party. You can invite over some of your friends, asking them each to either come with a dozen of their freshly baked cookies, or their recipes. You can bake together, or trade cookies! This is also a great opportunity to implement an element of competition; who has the best tasting cookie? There also is a chance for categories such as, most flavorful, most unique, etc.

Gingerbread Houses

Now, you may feel like this is too much baking after you have just spent a lot of time thinking about cookies. However, this idea actually doesn’t include baking.

Grocery stores carry gingerbread houses, where all of the parts are pre-made, they only require assembling! This is fun because after you simply put the parts together, you can decorate the house, and even make little gingerbread men to live there. Similar to the cookie decorating idea, this is a great chance to create a competition for the best looking gingerbread house.

Christmas Movies

This idea, unlike the others, requires zero frosting, or any other baking ingredient for that matter. Netflix, as well as many other streaming platforms carry multiple Christmas movie classics. My personal favorite being How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Cuddle up with a bunch of blankets, some loved ones, a fire in the fireplace, and a good cup of peppermint hot chocolate to enjoy a good movie! You could even make a marathon out of it, how many can you watch in a row?

 

Conclusion: There are many things you can do with the people you care about, especially during the holiday season. The possibilities are endless, both inside and outside, sometimes you just have to get creative!