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!

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Posted in Interviews

Meet Phyllis Edgerly Ring, Author

It’s my pleasure to welcome Phyllis Edgerly Ring to my blog.

Phyllis Edgerly Ring

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Because I began life as an Army brat, and I’m a Baha’i, I value a world citizen’s perspective about where our human family is going on its shared journey.

My nonfiction books explore how to create balance between the spiritual and material aspects of life. I write fiction because, like so much of art, it can help us discover just what shape this balance is taking within our own lives. More than any other kind of writing, book-length fiction requires an absorption and immersion that will lead to what wants to be known and realized — in a story, and in a life. When a writer goes the distance with this, it allows mysterious unseen threads to weave into what both emotions and spirit can recognize as true and, in that recognizing, encounter what transcends this earthly life.

How long have you been writing for?

Since my teens and, in a focused way — selling and publishing work — since my late 20s. I wrote for magazines and newspapers, which was a great way to build the skills I now value and rely on as I write books.

What is your writing process like?

I allow whatever portion of a work that wants to come to reveal itself and I capture it down. I’ve never started at the beginning, but what the beginning is always becomes clear as I allow the process to reveal things in its own way, which is almost never in chronological order. Once enough pieces come into existence, they begin to show me how they connect and relate to each other, and what further directions to take. This, for me, is one of the most rewarding aspects of the experience.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

I’m possessive and protective about the start of my day (which may come even before the sun shows up) because of the quality of its energy. For newly arriving writing, this is the very best time. For revision work, late morning and late afternoon seem best. I don’t necessarily get words onto a page every day, but I am always writing – living with the work, and “noodling” and discovering more about it.

What motivates you to write?

The utter joy of it, immersion in this deeply absorbing and revealing experience. As some writers describe, it can be like living in my own movie. Plus, the research that most of my writing requires is a delight for nerdy me. It never feels like work, just pure delight in discovery, with inevitable surprises.

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?

Called my sister, who is also a writer, as was our mother. Then I went straight downtown to inform my wonderful local independent bookstore.

Are you currently working on anything new?

My first book for children, Jamila Does Not Want a Bat in Her House, is coming out this year. And my latest novel, The Munich Girl, keeps me busier as I interact with book clubs and other widening circles of readers, and offer presentations about it at libraries and such. I’ve also waded into 2 new projects. One is what I’d term spiritual memoir, based on my experience with writing The Munich Girl and some of the nearly inexplicable synchronicities that it brought. The other is historical fiction set in 19th-century New England.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

Something that incorporates the powerful role of story in human experience, and healing. I worked in the healing field early in my life. I learned that story plays an enormous part in how people heal, because it supports how they come to resolution, understanding, and eventually, find peace as they make meaning about life experience.

What is the easiest part of writing for you? What is the hardest part?

The easiest: that it’s there waiting for me everyday, and I can pursue it anywhere I am in the world. Hardest (sometimes, at least), is that every writing work has its own timetable, directly related to the one connected with my own development, and that it’s wise not to try to force or speed up.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

If I am true to the nature of my own writing self, allow it to be the soul-led experience it is, the process will be enjoyable, full of discovery, even empowering. It will amaze me. And, I believe, it will be a part of what transforms me.

What is your favorite book or genre? Is there a special book that made you realize you wanted to write?

Historical fiction has attracted me from my earliest (grade school) reading days. The first book I read on my own that made a huge impact on me (third grade) was a biography of the medieval life and work of St. Elisabeth.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Read, persevere, learn craft — do all of these until you find both your voice and the process that works for you. Then relish the rewriting as much as you do the exciting early drafting that brings with it so much discovery. Also, learn how to be edited, so that you’re able to recognize when someone’s applying this fine skill to your work and it really does improve it, help you past your blind spots, etc.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I love hearing from readers with their thoughts and reflections about my books. They can contact me at info@phyllisring.com. Thanks very much for this opportunity, Rachel. ☺

Author bio:

Phyllis Edgerly Ring lives in New England and returns as often as she can to her childhood home in Germany. She has studied plant sciences and ecology, worked as a nurse, been a magazine writer and editor, taught English to kindergartners in China, and frequently serves as workshop facilitator and coach for others’ writing projects. Her published work includes fiction and inspirational nonfiction.

Connect with Phyllis Edgerly Ring:

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page

Phyllis Edgerly Ring’s Books:

munich-girlBuy Links:

Amazon | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK | Audible

Posted in Short Story Sunday, Writing

Short Story Sunday 147: Chef

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            Selena took the handle of the pan in her left hand and flipped the pancake high in the air. As she set it back down on the stove, she took a pinch of cinnamon in her right hand and sprinkled it along the top of the pancake. She breathed into the warm scent and smiled content.

“What is that smell?”

Selena looked over her shoulder and noticed her sister, Aubrey, entering the kitchen. She was still in her teal pajamas bottoms with a black spaghetti strap tank top. Her hair was sticking up in places Selena didn’t know was possible and Aubrey rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand groggily.

“I’m making pancakes. Doesn’t it smell delicious?” Selena took another deep breath through her nose. She sighed happily.

“It smells so good, it woke me right up.” Aubrey yawned.

“Well, it didn’t wake you up that much.”

“Once I have a bite I’m sure I’ll wake up more.” Aubrey chuckled. She sat down at the kitchen table and leaned back in her chair. She watched her sister flip over the pancake again and sprinkle something on it. She tilted her head to the side in confusion.

“Cinnamon,” Selena said without turning around to look at her sister. “I was going to make blueberry pancakes, but we’re out of blueberries. So I decided to make chocolate chip. But we’re out of chocolate chips too.”

“Oh, yeah… I melted the last of the chocolate chips to have something to dip my animal crackers in.” Aubrey stated.

Selena nodded her approval. Chocolate covered animal crackers were the best, especially if you dipped it yourself in freshly melted, creamy chocolate.

“Anyway,” Selena continued, “I found cinnamon in the cabinet. We never use cinnamon and I wondered how it would taste with pancakes.”

“I’m sure it’ll taste just as fine as it smells.” Aubrey said.

Selena took the pancake off the pan and placed it onto a large plate. She picked up the batter and poured the rest into the pan. Steam rose into the air and the beige batter bubbled up as it sizzled against the hot metal.

“You made enough batter to make only two pancakes?” Aubrey asked.

“One for each of us,” Selena pointed to the already made pancake. “It’s as big as the whole pan. It’s two in one.”

“What if I want four?”

“Then you can make more yourself.” Selena said. Then she picked up the pancake mix and looked inside. “Actually, we’re all out of pancake mix now.”

“We should go food shopping soon, I guess, huh?’ Aubrey asked.

“I don’t really think our lack of pancake mix, chocolate chips, blueberries, and cinnamon is a reason to have to go food shopping.” Selena laughed as she sprinkled more cinnamon onto the pancake after flipping it over.

“We have cinnamon.” Aubrey said.

“Not anymore.”

“You used the last of it? But we never use cinnamon.”

“I put a lot on, I think. Because we never use it,” Selena smiled.

Selena turned off the burner and picked up the pan dropping the freshly made pancake onto the large plate. She put the pan down on the back burner to let it cool. She picked up the plate with the two pancakes and brought it over to the table where Aubrey sat. Aubrey breathed in the pancakes as they were placed in front of her while Selena came back to the table with a bottle of maple syrup and two forks.

“I don’t get my own plate?” Aubrey teased.

“The dishwasher is still going and we have no clean plates.” Selena said. She poured the syrup all over the pancakes until there was nothing left. “And now we’re out of maple syrup.”

Aubrey cut a piece of pancake with her fork and stabbed it bringing it up to her mouth. “What would mom and dad say if they saw us right now?” she chuckled before taking a bite.

Selena chewed her piece and swallowed. “Dad would be proud. I don’t know about Mom.”

Aubrey groaned with a smile on her face. “This is so good! I’m glad you decided you would take over the cooking when we moved in here.”

Selena closed her eyes grinning goofily. She nodded. She was a fantastic cook, if she had to say so herself.

“Thank you, little sister.” Aubrey held up her fork with a piece of pancake on the end as a toast.

“To us for being adults!” Selena held up her own fork and they clinked them together before taking a bite in unison.

Aubrey laughed as she chewed. “You know, aside from the lack of food and all the dirty dishes.”

“But we have fun.” Selena winked.

Words: 786

I hope you enjoyed this story! Let me know in the comments below.

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Posted in Reading/Book Reviews

The One by Kiera Cass

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Title: The One
Author: Kiera Cass
Published: 
May 2014, HarperTeen
Genre: Young adult dystopia
How I got the book: I bought it

Summary:

The time has come for one winner to be crowned.

When she was chosen to compete in the Selection, America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the end of the competition approaches, and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants.

My Review:

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I bought this book along with the second novel, The Elite. As soon as I finished the second book of this main trilogy, I immediately picked up The One and quickly finished it in a day.

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America and Maxon still had a rocky relationship in this novel. It was beginning to get annoying again and then the truth came out about Aspen and America having a previous relationship before Maxon came into the picture. That gave some conflict between Maxon and America and it was awesome. Not that I liked seeing them fight, but it’s part of who we are.

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The major plot of this one was for Maxon to finally choose a wife. And honestly, I thought America was actually going to lose for a while. Which was cool because I didn’t realize how much I rooted for her until I thought she wasn’t going to win. Also, I think it would be kind of cool if the protagonist didn’t get the guy in the end. However, with these kinds of novels, we all know how everything ends.

The final battle scene brought everything home. People died who I didn’t expect to get killed off and honestly, it hurt when they got killed. Due to spoilers, I don’t want to say too much on this matter, but it was nicely done.

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Kiera Cass, as I’ve said in my previous reviews, has such a way with words. The characters could have been stronger, but the ending was perfect for the series as was the final battle scene. Everything was so intense in the last few pages and I was on the edge of my seat for the majority of the book. I would read Cass’s work for the rest of the my life.

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While this book still wasn’t as good as the first one, The Selection, I still absolutely enjoyed the book as a whole. Everything was wrapped up neatly with a nice bow on top. The ending was perfect and each and every character throughout the trilogy had some sort of ending, which was nice to see.

The One by Kiera Cass gets…
5-stars5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“The best people all have some kind of scar.” –Kiera Cass, The One

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Posted in Writing

On Themes: How To Write About Death

Death is part of real life as it is in fiction. The main difference is that we have the power to kill our characters whenever and however we want. We also have the power to bring them back, if our novel allows it.

When it comes to writing fictional pieces, I think we often forget that we don’t live forever and neither should our characters.

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Common themes about death:

  • Circle of life
  • Grieving
  • Illness
  • Age
  • Immortality
  • Early death
  • Homicide
  • Accidental death
  • Escaping death

There are more death themes, but these were the ones I came up with for now.

Why writing about death is important

We don’t write about death to be a downer to our readers. We write about death because it’s part of everyday life. People get sick, people get old, freak accidents happen, some people are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This is the same for your characters. If you’re writing about war, then some of your characters are going to die. Yes, your story may be fictional. However, unless you state that all the good guys in your novel are immortal somehow, then there must be death.

Grieving is a big part of death. Seeing characters grieve can help readers relate the situation in real life.

How death can help your characters grow

Your protagonist’s grandmother can’t be 90-years-old forever. If the main character’s grandmother passes away, what happens? The grandmother is gone physically, but not mentally or emotionally. Your protagonist will be sad and grieve, but will eventually move on. Remembering the good times and life advice from their grandmother develops your protagonist and teaches the readers something.

Death is beautiful

Yes, that sounds weird, but hear me out.

When writing about death, you’re not actually talking about death. You’re talking about life.

Think about it: When you go to a wake or funeral in real life, people have gathered to comfort each other, talk about and remember all the good memories of the deceased. You’re celebrating the deceased’s life.

What was it about the deceased’s life that was so special?

Make the deaths count

Don’t kill characters for the sake of killing them. Let their death be a lesson to your characters and to your readers.

Let the deceased leave something behind for your characters and your readers to hold onto, to remember. Something that makes them really miss the deceased, something that makes them feel real emotions for the death.

Keep in mind your genre

If you’re writing a murder mystery, then the deaths are a little more loose and most likely have less meaning behind them. They may not be someone close to your main character, they may not be someone that your reader will get to know before their death.

However, if you’re writing a coming of age story and a dear family member or close friend passes on, how would your protagonist react?

In conclusion

Death is an interesting topic because some people are averted to talking about it. It seems like a difficult subject, but it’s easier than you think. Don’t be afraid to put emotion behind it. Don’t be afraid to really express how you, as a writer, a reader, a human being feels about it.

What’s your advice on writing about death in novels? Let me know in the comments below!

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Posted in Writing

On Themes: How To Write About Love

Love is a broad topic. You can love your significant other, your family, your friends, your pets, objects, anything.

There are certain kinds of love. There is such a thing as loving too much or loving too little. Sometimes something is mistaken for love or there’s no love at all.

When it comes to novel writing, romantic or not, there’s always some sort of love element thrown into the mix. No matter who it’s between, someone is loving someone or something.

how-to-write-about-love

Common themes about love:

  • Loving others – relationship
  • Loving others – friendship
  • Loving yourself
  • Mistaken love
  • Lost love
  • Forbidden love
  • Marriage/Divorce
  • Parent/Child
  • Love triumphs
  • Happy love
  • Unhappy love
  • Accidental love
  • Forced love
  • Rejected love
  • Love at first sight
  • Teen romance

There’s so much more, but I can’t think of them all right now.

What kind of love are you writing about?

Before you begin, figure out what kind of love you’ll be focusing on. A sweet romance? Erotica? Friendship? Is this something you experienced in real life, or are you winging it?

Either way, lay it all out for yourself so you can figure out where to go next and when. Of course, your characters will have a lot to say about it, as they should, but it would help if you had some sort of idea.

What makes a good love story?

I’m sure this goes without saying, but…

Emotion. You need emotion.

If your main character is falling in love, let your readers fall in love, too. There’s nothing I love more than falling in love with a fictional boyfriend and then getting mad that he’s just that: fictional.

How love can help your characters grow

We all have a heart. We all feel love, we all feel heartbreak.

Falling in love or falling out of love can help define us as a person. It puts us through a certain challenge that we may or may not be ready for, but we face it head on because that’s life. This should be no different for your characters.

If someone asked your protagonist out, what would they do? If someone broke up with them, what would they do? If they broke up with their significant other, what would they do?

If they were losing a best friend, if they rekindle with an old family member, what would they do?

In conclusion

Love is important and you can interpret it in so many ways. When it comes to writing about love, let it come from the heart. Let it come from experience.

Okay, this is getting corny now, so take this as you will.

How do you interpret love, romance or otherwise? What other tips do you have? Let me know in the comments below!

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