Posted in Guest Posts

Rhythm

Guests appear on my blog three times a month. If you would like to know more about this, please visit my Guest Bloggers Wanted page.

Today’s post is brought to you by Thompson Crowley. Thanks, Thompson!

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There’s a certain rhythm in everything. Life, reality, whatever you want to call it, it’s all just a collection of vibrations. For us experiencing it, each and every type of scenario we can encounter trots along at its own unique pace, enveloping us, immersing us, tuning us in. There are some that flow with more ease than others and some that are a little awkward and stuttered; but all move in the direction to which they are heading.

I can’t help but notice the different rhythms in my life, they play such an integral part. For example, in my writing, what I’m doing right now. I take such pleasure in floating along the strings of sentences which effortlessly flow out of me, luring out sweet phrases and thoughts that I didn’t even realise my awareness contained. I feel so free and boundless, restricted only by my knowledge of the English language, which fortunately, for me, is full of a vast diversity of ideas and meanings that I can piece together to get my point across.

Music is the big one though. We all agree on this. When the first note of your preferred style hits you, instantly you are swept away onto a rainbow of flavoursome sensations; a rhythm which glides through you, under you, and above. Like flying in your dreams. And when I’m writing music I get to tap into this flow; I get to muddle through the intricacies, merging my own tempo with that of the sweet, sweet sounds. And when I get to throw words, poetry into the mix, that’s when it becomes even more fun.

I read a short article once by Robert Pinksy, about how all poetry is a physical thing; how it stems from your body, like dancing. And I have to agree with this. When you are writing the words, the sounds, the meanings, the shapes, you can feel them in your chest; throughout your whole being. There’s a reason why certain sounds, certain muscle shapes and thrusts of air, developed into certain meanings; it is embedded deep within us. And when you’re writing that’s what you are tapping into, that ancient, timeless, deep, ingrained, metaphysical, yet physical manifestation from your soul. And that’s why anything well written, anything you read that truly speaks to you, that truly leaves its mark, flows; it has rhythm.

So, whatever your passions: music, literature, sports, conversation, building, drawing, painting, gardening, dancing, computing, whatever; just find the rhythm you feel most comfortable with and indulge yourself deservedly; take endless pleasure in riding it as it is your own. Because that’s the only thing we’re here for…

About Thompson

After many years wandering around Britain in campervans, tents; on bikes; with prams, bags, buggies, I now find myself in Spain, preparing to flee to Australia. I’ve spent my life writing songs and performing with bands, as well as writing journals about my wayward adventures. I now look forward to doing the same down under.

Connect with Thompson

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Posted in Guest Posts, Writing

Literacy’s Role in African American Education

Guests appear on my blog three times a month. If you would like to know more about this, please visit my Guest Bloggers Wanted page.

Today’s post is brought to you by Yecheilyah. Thanks, Yecheilyah!

I’ve always enjoyed reading. If I could, I can spend an entire day reading, 24 hours easy. In school, I’ve also been far better at English and Literature than I was at math or science. In fact, the better I did in Literature, it seemed the worse I was in math. It got so bad that when I was in High School and my teacher assigned a poetry project, I wrote a poem about how much I hated math. I still hate math.

I am not the only one. Many African American young adults struggled through math and science while excelling in English. Why is that? I thought to explore the answer to this question.

It could have a lot to do with our roots, having arrived at the America’s in ships, sold as male and female slaves, and then sown in the south, slaves were not allowed to read and to write. Adamantly opposed to the education of their slaves, southern slaveholders feared uprisings. Of all the evil they’ve no doubt done to the enslaved, the southern slave-master’s greatest fear was what the enslaved would do to them. For this reason, the law prohibited the reading and writing of slaves with consequences for breaking these laws. One such law, passed in North Carolina in 1830, stated that “any free person, who shall hereafter teach, or attempt to teach, any slave within this State to read or write, the use of figures excepted or shall give or sell to such slave or slaves any books or pamphlets, shall be liable to indictment in any court of record in this State.”

As you can see, not only was it punishment for the enslaved, but also to the person who taught him. This fear of literacy was brought on not only due to fear of uprisings but also of the enslaved recognizing his slave status and thus rebelling against the concept of being someone’s property. Like anyone denied human rights, the enslaved learned to read and write in secret, many times with the help of other slaves who were literate as well as whites who taught them privately. Using the bible as a textbook, blacks learned letters and sounds, carving them into the dirt and spelling out names.

Upon freedom, Blacks continued their fight for literacy and reading was highly promoted in the African American community, especially in the south. Segregation prohibited blacks from attending the same schools as whites so that the instruction many blacks received was limited. It was limited because the teachers, only having gone so far themselves, were limited. Many former slaves still had to pick cotton, sharecropping on the same plantations that held them as slaves. This meant that children could only attend school half the time as many were called back to help their parents in the fields. Many young people were then forced to drop out of school. In short, the teachers of the southern black schools could only go so far and many of them were knowledgeable more so in English and reading than they were in any other subject. Since many were not allowed to read during chattel slavery, I suppose it made reading itself more sought after and more cherished.

Since Blacks were limited in the schools they could attend, there were a greater appreciation and passion for learning than it is today. Blacks were integral in establishing their own schools in their own communities and for pushing the importance of education. The position of Teacher was of great importance and treated as such. In “Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom”, Heather Andrea Williams discovered that “freedpeople identified teaching as a critical job for building self-sufficient communities and called both men and women into service.” Young men and women were encouraged to become teachers in hopes that their students would go on, not only to become teachers themselves, but to also go home and to teach their families –their mother’s, father’s, and grandparents—who were denied the privilege as slaves.

Black youth were encouraged to read in their spare time (benefits of a pre-TV and video game era). They repaired books using cardboard, cloth, and cooked glue (cooked flour and water) and were wealthy in the knowledge of Black Literature, not just the books but the artists. According to Williams, placing Black teachers and administrators in Black schools was part of the freed slaves’ larger campaign for self-determination.

According to a video interview by Maya Angelou, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, like Howard, Fisk, Tuskegee, Morgan State and Spelman, were “heavenly abodes.” In her words, “I kind of thought that if a child was good and died the child would go to heaven and become an angel. And if the angel was a good angel and died he would probably go to Howard.” She laughed after this statement and my fingers smile as I write this but the idea, for her I am sure, was to illustrate the importance of education in the minds of blacks at that time, particularly literacy.

I cannot say for certain why many blacks struggle with math and science as opposed to Literature. I do know that our foundation in the importance of reading is a strong one that I am sure won’t be going away anytime soon. The importance of literacy in the black community and the unquenching thirst for education is something history won’t let us forget.

About Yecheilyah

Yecheilyah Ysrayl is the Young Adult, Historical Fiction author of Black American Literature and Poetry. Author of eight books (most notably, The Stella Trilogy), Yecheilyah is currently working on her next book series “The Nora White Story”. Book One is due for release July 15-16, 2017 at The Tampa Indie Author Book Convention in Tampa Florida. Yecheilyah is also a Blogger, and Book Reviewer. Originally from Chicago, IL, she now resides in Shreveport, LA with her husband where she writes full time.

Connect with Yecheilyah

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Posted in Guest Posts, Writing

The Famous Cliche And Other Writing Things

Guests appear on my blog twice a month. If you would like to know more about this, please visit my Guest Bloggers Wanted page.

Today’s post is brought to you by Ruby. Thanks, Ruby!

guest-ruby

Writing is hard, harder for some more then others, but even for them it’s hard.

You can have all these problems, writers block for instance, I’m absolutely positive that this happens to all writers, there’s no denying it. It may be that you are stuck on how to describe a character, setting or feeling. I often find that I spend a lot of time working out how I’m going to help readers see what I’ve been imagining. As it is your work they won’t know unless you set the scene for them.

My biggest advice for you, although it might be obvious anyway, clichés. Ah, the marvellous cliché, for example: love triangles. Now, I’m not saying don’t include them, just try to make them original somehow.

In a lot of dystopian books you’ll find that the protagonist is often ‘the chosen one.’ Again, I’m not saying don’t ever use that idea, just don’t have it be the same as other books you’ve read or heard about.

There are also the similes, those extremely cliché similes, the ones everyone uses: dark as the night, as white as snow, as quiet as a mouse. You want to use them (especially when you have writers block) but sometimes most of the time, you are better off not to use them.

Cliché, to me, means ‘a phrase or situation that is so commonly used that one often expects it,’ I very much doubt you want you work to be predictable, do you?

Moving on, when you are trying to describe a feeling though words it can often be hard, there are some authors, I find that can make it like you are the character that is feeling those things, you can almost feel the pain or hurt or happiness that they are gong through. It’s not easy to do this, but I think – as with most things – that if you practice enough you will become better. I’m not saying perfect, I hate that saying ‘practice makes perfect’ because no one will ever be perfect at anything. Yes, they may be amazing and talented, but there’s always room to improve. Oh, look how cliché I’m being.

Progress. Progress is the word you should be using, ‘practice makes progress.’ I always seem to discover that I am awful at describing how things look but can describe feelings easily.

I wrote this the other day:

“She dived head-first into the pool of ice-cold water. The feeling spread though her body one limb at a time. It hit her head first, it was backbreaking and freezing. She ached with numbness, the feeling seeping throughout her, turning her blood to ice and slowly, slowly freezing over her heart. She felt it sharp stabbing pains, as if there was a sharp, jagged shard of ice slicing through her skin. She was a lost cause, she meant nothing to the world any more. Nothing.”

I’m sorry it’s not very cheery, but then what is?

Do you have any tips for descriptive writing?

Did you enjoy Ruby’s post? Let us know in the comments below!

In other news, I’ve challenged myself to read five books between Sunday, February 19 and Sunday, February 26. Feel free to join me and check out my daily updates on Twitter, Tumblr, and my Bookstagram!

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Posted in Guest Posts, Writing

Call To Write

Guests appear on my blog twice a month. If you would like to know more about this, please visit my Guest Bloggers Wanted page.

Today’s post is brought to you by Reed R. Buck. Thanks, Reed!

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To the dreamers, the creators, and the readers. To the wonderful souls left lost in the darkness of the adult world. To the children-at-heart. This is to you.

Write. Please, write. Write every day you’re able. You may not think you have anything to say, but you’re wrong. You may not think the world cares what you have to say, but you’re wrong. Your voice is your own, a unique beacon in the night. You can draw others to you, people who believed their thoughts could never be voiced by another.

It is the most difficult thing you may ever do in your life. Anonymity makes monsters of men, and there will be those who try to dissuade you from writing. They may say you’re not good enough, you will never be good enough. They may be right. The flame of your voice may be extinguished in the harsh climate of rejection.

Or you may keep it inside you, a warmth from within but not without, a gift stolen from those who might need it most. I will not blame you if you cannot bear to share it. I will only smile, and continue to call.

Write. Please, write.

To the hopers, the secret-keepers, and the dissident. To the rebels without a leader, hungry for change. To the people who will save this Earth. This is to you.

Speak. Please, speak. Speak up against injustice. Criticize the world around you for all its flaws. Shed light upon the skeletons in the closet, the mess swept under the rug for the public to ignore. You may believe your cause is already lost. You may think the world deserves to burn for its sins. You are wrong. This world is a quagmire of pressure and loss, a mold that forces conformity and acceptance of horror. Its people are nothing more than slaves to a power they can’t understand or change.

You can change it. You can speak up against it. Yours can be the voice – the pen – the blog that reminds others what matters most. You can keep humanity on track to recovery, to catharsis. But you cannot do that from inside the confines of your insecurities. You must leave them behind, for the good of yourself and others.

Perhaps your insecurities are unbearable. Perhaps there are days when you can hardly move for the weight of them around your shoulders. I will not blame you if you cannot speak your mind. I will only smile, and continue to call.

Speak. Please, speak.

Did you enjoy Reed’s post? Let us know in the comments below!

Posted in Author/Site Information, Blogging, Guest Posts

Reminder: Guest Posts Open

It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned anything about guest posts on my blog. The rest of 2016 booked up a few months before the end of the year so I let that weight slide off my shoulders for a bit.

Of course, it’s a new year with new dates and I’ll admit that I’ve been slacking on the guest post front. So, this is just a reminder to all of you that guests posts are currently open.

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I usually let people come to me if they want to guest post, but I do occasionally ask a few people to do it. Like I said, I’ve been slacking. I’ve been so focused on other things on this blog (and other things in general) that guest posting took a back seat.

In other words, I’m going to take my time with the guest posts. Until I have more things figured out, I won’t be reaching out to people about whether or not they would like to be on my blog. Instead, feel free to come to me.

This post is an open invitation to all who read my blog. Guest posting is great exposure for you and your own blog (though the post itself is not an advertisement… It should be informative and helpful to my readers). Plus, it’s fun and you meet a lot of new, cool people.

With all that said, if you would like to guest post on my blog, please check out my Guest Bloggers Wanted page. After you read the guidelines, feel free to contact me with all the information needed and we’ll chat and set up a date.

Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from you soon!

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Posted in Guest Posts, Writing

Outlining Effectively (Part Two)

Guest bloggers visit my website twice a month on Tuesday and Thursday. If you would like to be part of this, feel free to check out the Be A Guest Blogger page.

This week’s guest post is brought to you by Iridescence. Thanks, Iridescence!

You can read Part One of this post HERE.

In part one, I discussed about outlining tips for writers whose focus is their plot. In this post, I will be mentioning some outlining suggestions for writers who focus on their characters.

Tip 1

In the beginning, you might worry about starting with your characters and not your plot and how they will tie together seamlessly. Don’t think too much into your plot. You will figure it out as you go. Pick up your pen or your laptop and just begin.

But when you are outlining your characters, make sure to outline individual background stories as well. How two characters are related, how some characters will meet etc. Just those main scenes which you have in your mind. Note it down along with your character’s personality outline.

Tip 2

As I mentioned for the previous set of tips, I recommend outlining by hand more than in Word or software. Differentiating facts into sections will be a little time-consuming in Word and it wouldn’t offer much flexibility as well.

You might argue that it will be easier in a software such as Scrivener. When I used it for a trial period, I noticed that although it has several features to make outlining easier, it just isn’t the same as noting by hand on paper. It doesn’t offer that unlimited amount of flexibility. It also does not offer you a lot of information at one glance.

Also, in software, you will want to complete one section of traits before beginning any other. For example, you would want to get down all the physical traits before moving on to relationships or the past. You will not have that constriction in paper as you can just draw a line dividing the page and continue.

Tip 3

When writing/outlining a story and it’s characters, your mind will be cluttered and it will throw out ideas very fast. When outlining characters, you might think about his/her past and also a future scene at the same time.

DON’T write down one and plan to get the other down later, you might forget. Don’t be hesitant to cram notes in margins or divide sections of the paper without any planning. This is only the first attempt. Let it be messy, get it all down.

Tip 4

Use as many or as less sheets as you want. Don’t worry about it all being in only one page or being separate and orderly.Also when you want to scrap an idea, neatly strike it out once. The reason for this is the same as Tip 2 for plot-focused outliners above.

Tip 5

When you are done, don’t just accept it and leave it. Reread through the messiness and re-write everything you are going ahead with in a somewhat orderly fashion as final character spread. Also, save all your old sheets in case you want to refer back later.

Here is an example of a final character outline page (of just the basics):

Example

Do you focus on your plot or your characters? What do you think of these tips and can you think of some more?

About Iridescence:

Iridescence is an 18-year-old Indian girl studying engineering and dreaming stories. Other than reading, she loves to colour code, make notes and plan everything, Snapchat a lot and is a proud INFJ.

Connect with Iridescence:

Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Snapchat – iridescencey

Posted in Guest Posts, Writing

Outlining Effectively (Part One)

Guest bloggers visit my website twice a month on Tuesday and Thursday. If you would like to be part of this, feel free to check out the Be A Guest Blogger page.

This week’s guest post is brought to you by Iridescence. Thanks, Iridescence!

If you’re starting to write a story, no matter for a book or not, what do you think of first—the plot or the your characters? This two-part tips posts will be discussing for both the answers.

Points in this post are more relevant to those who focus more on their plot.

Note: These tips would work best for plotters.

Tip 1

Some people like plotting their story in ink and others prefer to type. Either way, I suggest plotting at least some of your story in paper. Have a pen and notebook with you always and jot down everything in bullet points. Bullet points make everything look neater, shorter, and more precise. Writing paragraphs would feel too tedious, especially when you are just outlining, and this is the reason most lean towards typing. Bullet points will also prove easier when you are referring back later as you won’t have to read the whole paragraph for one small fact. You can get it in one glance.

Also, don’t take too long writing down as it might interrupt your flow of the plot. The mind works too fast and writing in abbreviations and short forms can help get a lot down. Just make sure you can understand what you’ve written later.

Tip 2

When you want to change something, don’t scratch or scribble over it. Strike it out neatly and write down the new idea. One, this will make the page look cleaner and still appealing. Two, if later, while writing your story something doesn’t add up or match and you want to refer back to old ideas, you can clearly read what you’ve stricken out but it would be hard to make out what is under the scribble. Writing in hand saves your trashed ideas too which might actually be helpful later. In software, it would be lost.

Tip 3

You can work out jotting down points for future scenes or relevant info in 3 ways:

  1. Write down points elsewhere as you are plotting, even if it is in the middle of a paragraph.
  2. Outline one chapter and reread, writing down any new points and ideas only then and not letting it interrupt your flow in the middle.
  3. Only when you are done outlining for the day, take 10-15 minutes to reread and write down points and notes. Not caring whether you’ve written 2 pages or 2 chapters that day.

Tip 4

When you are done with some amount of plot outlining and are not in the mood for any more, never worry that you’re wasting time. Reread your outline and compare all of them together, figuring out the mismatches. Note down any changes and smooth out differences. This will help in solidifying your outline and also get your brain thinking again.

Do you focus on your plot first or your characters? What do you think of these tips and can you think of any others?