Monday, December 31, 2018

Drawing the Curtain: Monthly Wrap-Up and Update



The year is drawing to a close. A year that has been full of such highlights -- we will be sad to see it go. But, the best is yet to come!

Before we welcome the new year, shall we wrap up the old?


Blog Posts This Month


Help Wanted: Goodreads and Instagram Coordinator

We called for help... and we have received it. Keep reading and you will see below.





Using the Ups and Downs in Life as Writing Inspiration

Catherine tells how our own experiences can influence our writing, but how to make it clean and free from anything vulgar!




Review of the Cliff Walk Courtship #3

Catherine and Clare reviewed the final book of Cecily Wolfe's Cliff Walk Courtships series. Click the post to see their thoughts on it!






Social Media Stats 

98 followers, 36,403 all-time views. 
57 likes, 63 followers.
312 followers, 449 tweets, 641 likes.
26 posts, 140 followers.
22 boards, 137 followers
70 members, 22 topics
29 followers 
47 subscribers, 2 videos




Around the Neighborhood


This month a lot of our bloggers and followers have been putting out 2018 wrap-ups, including:
Faith Thompson, Lila Kims, Melissa Gravitis, Keturah LambJulian Daventry,
Lia @ The Singing Writer, Nicole Dust, R.M Archer, Lisa @ Inkwell, and Danielle @ Snapper!


Lisa @ Inkwell published a short Christmas story called The Boy Next Door. It's set in a near-future America during the Christmas holidays - when an unexpected snowstorm whips up! Click on the title to read it!


Our founder, Gray Marie Cox, published a post on her blog Writing is Life called Tropes We Need to Leave Behind in 2018. Absolutely wonderful read!



Final Thoughts


We have the privilege of announcing that we have filled the positions of Instagram Coordinator and Goodreads Coordinator!

Our Instagram Coordinator is a familiar face - Keturah Lamb! Many of our Instagram followers have already been introduced to her, as she has been posting on the team page since early December. Thank you so much for taking this post, Keturah! 

and now to reveal our new Goodreads Coordinator.....

JULIAN DAVENTRY

Julian blogs over at Saver of Memories, and is the co-founder of The Order of the Pen - another clean writing group! She is also an unpublished author who loves to read, ride horses, and play music!  No doubt that she is a familiar face to many of our readers :)  A big shout of thanks to Julian for volunteering!!


We're really excited to welcome Julian to the team, and for all the changes that will be coming in the new year! We here at RW cannot wait to see what 2019 brings!


In the meantime......REBEL ON!!!!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Review of The Cliff Walk Courtships Book #3 - by the RW Team




All the way back in January, we here at Rebellious Writing reviewed the first two books in Cecily Wolfe's Cliff Walk Courtship series. It was the first of many book reviews that came this year, and we highly enjoyed them.

Because of the interest that we had expressed then, Ms. Wolfe offered us a review copy of the third book in the series, which was published in October of this year. Our writers Catherine Hawthorn and Clare A. are here to tell you watch they thought of it.





Catherine's Review:

32732564
Goodreads

Synopsis:

A little sneaking off has terrible consequences one icy New Year's Eve, and the flirty Sarah Davenport gets a hard dose of reality. Shaken by a terrible accident involving a young man, she tries to rebuild her life by volunteering with her brother and sister at First Steps, the homeless shelter that was founded by her brother and sister-in-law. As she finds purpose again, she is drawn to the grieving delivery boy, Sam Duncan and seeks to help him. But will her fragile sense of hope be shattered when all the truths are revealed?


Review:


Language: ☆☆☆☆☆. No language concerns.
Abuse: ☆☆☆☆☆. Some characters were under the influence of alcohol. Characters suffer mentally from past events. A wee bit of class struggle/prejudice.
Lust: ☆☆☆☆🟉 (4 1/2 stars). There was one guy that acted a little "cozy" towards Sarah, but there were consequences. One embrace. Some sneaking off alone.   
Review of the Book: ☆☆☆☆☆.


What I Liked:

1. The support that Sarah receives after the tragedy is wonderful.
2. The faith journey that Sam takes was also handled well.
3. How Sam takes responsibility for his and his brother's actions - very manly :)
4. I liked how Sarah begins to see the humanity behind servants.
5. The use of the constant reminder of the tragedy in the story shows just how much trouble the characters had in letting go of the memories.
6. The world-building as better in this book than in previous ones.


What I Disliked:

1. Some scene and POV changes were abrupt - there should have been page or chapter divisions.
2. I feel like the characters were....different from what I remember. Granted, it's been almost a year since I read these books.
3. Why did Sarah try cookies again after two failed attempts...after she was installed in the accounts office? It didn't make sense to me.
4. I'm not sure I like how Sam's mom. She seemed a little....out there.
5. Pacing seemed a bit "off" to me. There were periods of it being a little fast and then a little too slow....and it seemed that the time between incident and recovery seemed a wee bit fast.


I felt this book was a really fitting conclusion to a wonderful, clean historical romance series. Also, I believe I am now a fan of Cecily Wolfe's works and look forward to reading more of them :).





Clare's Review:
32732564
Goodreads
Language: ☆☆☆☆☆. Zipo! There is none. Which I always apprieciate, it makes it easier to read!!
Abuse: ☆☆☆☆☆. A little bit of drinking, but shown in a bad way.
Lust: ☆☆☆☆☆.  
Review of the Book: ☆☆☆☆☆.


What I Liked:

1. The storyline. I think this might be my favorite of the three!
2. Sarah. I feel like I were in her place, I would have done the exact same thing. Total shut down, and trying to be better.
3. Sam. He's a sweetheart.
4. The epolouge. It was so sweet!
5. Sarah not being good at baking. Been there, done that... still do that.
6. Arthur. I love his character in all of the books.
7. All the support!


What I Disliked:

1. The last chapter. It really was crazy and did not seem relistic at all.
2. In one bit it mentioned that Josie was upset with Sarah's mother, but never explained why. I was confused.
3. At one point it descrides Sam combing his hand through his hair. I'm sorry, I hate it when any book says that...


Yours &c.
Clare A.




And there you have it!


Besides the usual holiday rush, we here at Rebellious Writing have been secreted behind closed doors reviewing candidates for the Instagram and Goodreads coordinators. We have made a decision and will be revealing it in our monthly wrap-up post coming next week - so stay tuned! 


Saturday, December 15, 2018

Using The Downs in Life as Writing Inspiration




Many writers will use their own life experiences to inject some realism into their stories. This isn't just limited to those happy joyful occasions. Sickness, injuries, and emotional struggles also wind up in novels.

In some ways, this can be a release for writers. It can become a way to cope with, and give awareness to, larger issues in a writer's life. As a writer, I've used several real instances from my own life as story inspiration—including a hospital visit, a food allergy, and a bad work experience. And I've learned lots of lessons along the way.

In this post, I'll highlight several problematic questions that writers face when using those "negative" personal events in their writing, and then give some tips on how to overcome these difficulties.



Question #1: Can I write about this "down"? 

The first thing that should be asked when writing a negative life experience is "Emotionally, am I able to write about this?"

Writing about the bad stuff, especially emotional distress, can really stress out a writer by triggering memories of similar events in their own lives.

For example, early on in NaNo, I was writing a scene with my villain. Now, I had purposely decided that this girl was going to have a fault that I had when I was a teenager. Writing in her POV, I wrote down a feeling of hers—a bad sentiment that I had as well—and it made me super ashamed and uncomfortable writing it.

Now I do believe that I need to show others that this "sentiment" that I had as bad in order for people not to be caught in the same trap that I was in as a teen. But at the moment of writing, I couldn't emotionally handle it—I wanted to get it over with as soon as possible. I figured that if it's too uncomfortable for me, chances are that it's too uncomfortable for others too.

Now that might be true, but upon reflection . . . I couldn't let my inner demons stop me from doing good in this world. I needed to spill all the beans. So I did end up putting down those triggering sentences, but instead kept them in a deletions file so I could review them as I edited later.

So if you're unsure if you should use your own emotional struggles, I would say:

1: Let your wounds heal a little before you spill your guts onto the page. But when you do spill; spill all.
2: Keep a deletions page—you may decide to add in or subtract those more sensitive sentences later.
3: If it's still too uncomfortable or causes you distress—STOP. Rethink your character arcs if you have to.





Question #2: Is my description too graphic or not specific enough?


When writing scenes that include throwing up, wounds and other physical grossness, knowing when to show vs. tell can really make a difference.

Graphic descriptions often leaves readers disgusted because it paints a clear picture of something that is . . . well, gross. Human's don't naturally gravitate towards gross or sickening things, at least as a general rule.

Yet, if writers are too vague about what happened, people get too curious. There is a human intolerance for mystery—we constantly want need to know what is going on.

The best strategy is to strike the balance between gross and mystery is go down the middle, especially in the drafting stage. Start by stating plainly what happened without leaving out any major details. Beta readers should not have to ask "what happened?".

Here's an example of what I mean:

At the end of his declaration, he puffed a large breath into Janina’s face. She, being overwhelmed by the pungent smell of Saoirse-Tesni shrimp, started gagging and broke away from the lord’s grasp. Blindly, she stumbled into a pillar as she fought to keep her stomach from bringing forth her supper.


Then during editing, phrasing can easily be changed to add in some description and a little more showing. Most people have a good enough imagination to connect the dots if they are provided a few hints, but they need the dots first.

A good rule of thumb is to use more description if it pinpoints important details. In the case of physical symptoms, those little subtle clues that it's one condition instead of a million others. For example, if an author has a character who is coughing up rust-colored phlegm, it's a sign that that character has pneumonia. Whereas, if the author just left it as "coughing" or "coughing up phlegm", we don't know if the character is getting over a cold or has something more serious.


So if you're unsure about your descriptions:

1. Tell in the first draft, and then balance it with showing in later drafts.
2. Use description to pinpoint what the condition is and how severe it is.
2. Consult with your alphas/betas on how much description or showing should be done in those problematic scenes. During the drafting process, they represent your audience as a whole.

  


Question #3: Is my character's reaction common or relatable?

It is a great idea to make your character unique and memorable. But you can only take that sentiment so far. While you may have a really weird character trait or have had a bizarre thing happen to you; if a character is unrelatable, readers will be turned off.

Again, going down the middle is the best way to attack this question. Alpha/beta reader feedback can also help in that regard.

Here is an example from that same scene that I shared earlier:

He nodded knowingly. “And what was it that made you so unwell, Princess?”

“Ummm . . .” Goodness, how to tell a man that his gift was what made her sick! “Shrimp, my lord.” She blurted out.

He looked at her quizzically.

“Saoirse-Tesni shrimp . . . to be exact.” She winced at her biting honesty.    

He looked at her steadfastly, as if waiting for an explanation.

“It’s the only shrimp that I cannot eat. There is an ingredient in the curing process that my body rejects. I don’t know why . . . it just makes me ill.”


A lot of people have experience with food allergies and food aversion, so I believe that readers will not find Janina's gagging and nausea to be unusual. But the fact that it's a specific food makes it unique to Janina.

The scene from which these snippets came from was based off of a true story.

When I was a kid, my mom would get "salad" shrimp all the time. We're talking shrimp the size of those in ramen cups. All of a sudden, I developed some sort of allergic reaction to that particular shrimp. Now bigger shrimp, clams, oysters, crab, lobster . . . those had never bothered me before or after that . . . .at least not until very recently. But literally, even if I ate less than ten little shrimp, I would be throwing-up-my-guts sick. Not fun. Later even the smell was enough to send me out of the room.

Just shows you how you can use practically anything from your life as writing inspiration :)




A final tip: Make this count!

Negative life events have a huge role in shaping and defining who we are as people. Sometimes, they really can affect us negatively and make us worse people. And sometimes, they make us into better people.

Strangely, especially in this media-crazed generation, people will emulate characters from books. So, we need to make absolute sure that our characters give hope and a good moral example to our readers. Just like we shouldn't let negative events in our lives stop us from our goals, we also shouldn't let our characters let their negative events stop them either.

And now it's your turn! What "negative" experiences from your life have you used in your writing? Is there any other problematic questions that you would like answers to? Chat with me in the comments! 


Saturday, December 8, 2018

Help Wanted: Goodreads and Instagram Coordinators





Calling all Rebels!!! 

Over the past six months, three of our members have stepped down from Rebellious Writing. We greatly appreciate the time that Abby, Anna C.S., and Audrey have given us and we can't thank them enough for giving us that strong start. 

Their leaving has left some holes, especially in our social media scene. We now have not one but two open positions: Goodreads and Instagram coordinators.

We do sincerely apologize for all the previous miscommunications (to put it mildly) that have happened with these two positions, especially with the Goodreads coordinator. Now that some of the craziness has died down, we can look at recruitment for these two positions much more seriously. 




Goodreads:


The Requirements for the Candidates are: 

1. Must be a supporter of clean YA reads.
2. Must have a Goodreads page and be (or be willing to become) a member of the Rebellious Writing Goodreads Group (LINK HERE)
3. A Google Account is also recommended, but not required.


The Responsibilities of the Position are:

1. Moderate all discussions. Remove spam comments and comments with swearing or other inappropriate content. If desired, new discussions may also be started by the coordinator.
2. Collaborate with the Book Scout Coordinator to find appropriate books for a future reading list and to publish Book Scout reviews onto Goodreads. 
3. Participate in the Rebellious Writing team communications via Google Hangouts and email.
4. If needed, please share Goodreads analytics data with team members.


Further responsibilities may be added in the future. In terms of time commitment, we would prefer that there is new activity on the page at least once a month.




Instagram:



The Requirements for the Candidates are: 

1. Must be a supporter of clean YA reads. 
2. Must be willing to use uncopyrighted or CC licensed images or own work in posts. Under no circumstances will illegal use of copyrighted images be allowed.
3. Have a basic knowledge of aesthetics, design and color theory.
4. Previous Instagram experience is highly recommended.
5. A Google Account is also recommended, but not required.


The Responsibilities of the Position are:

1. Post images, book or author quotes that support clean reading, clean writing, or other related topics.
 2. Moderate all comments. Remove spam and comments with swearing or other inappropriate content.
3. Grow the platform by subscribing to Instagram pages and commenting on posts that support clean books, particularly clean YA books. These can be Christian or secular. 
4. Participate in the Rebellious Writing team communications via Google Hangouts and email.
5. If needed, please share Instagram analytics data with team members. 

Further responsibilities may be added in the future. In terms of time commitment, we would prefer that there is new post at least once a month.




FOR BOTH POSITIONS: 

Because these persons will be joining our team, they also have the option of writing posts for our blog on a regular basis. While it's not required, it is certainly encouraged!

We will announce when the position is filled with a post here on the Rebellious Writing blog, introducing the new coordinator(s). 

If interested in either one of these positions or if you would like to know more, please email us (therebelliouswriting@gmail.com) and and put the relevant position name in the subject line.

We look forward to meeting our new coordinators!


Saturday, November 24, 2018

Leaves in the Wind: November Wrap-Up and Update




We are at the end of November, meaning that this year is almost over. How can it have happened so quickly? I can't even believe how quickly time flies.

We are all leaves in the wind. Some days it is calm and there is silence. Some days we a gently lifted up by the breeze and move slow but steadily. Then some days it is raging and we are blown around so quickly we can't even do anything but try to survive.

Last month, we here at RW were in a storm. We were all so busy with school, work, and our lives that we couldn't do anything here. But, we hope that we made up for it this month! Here is what we have done this month:

Blog Posts:

Revealing.....The Great American Read Finalist!


Catherine tells us all about the winner of PBS's Great American Read! She shares her thoughts on that and the top five. I am happy to say that it is one of my favorite books!




Endings That are Sunsets


Keturah Lamb's lovely post tells us how endings that are sometimes bittersweet can be satisfying.





Balanced Writing: Guest Post by Jessi Roberts



We were able to post thoughts by Jessi Roberts on why she likes to portray morally diverse characters. Thanks, Jessi!





How to Brainstorm Titles


Whether it is a title to your novel, or to a blog post, Melissa gives us tips on how to name our work (which I really needed).




Social Media Stats


97 followers, 32,627 all-time views. 
57 likes, 63 followers.
315 followers, 449 tweets, 643 likes.
19 posts, 132 followers.
22 boards, 136 followers, 1.8k monthly views.
67 members, 16 topics
28 followers 
48 subscribers, 2 videos


Around the Neighborhood:

A lot of people participated in Julian Daventry's Shared WIP Tag this month, including RW members Gray, Keturah, and Melissa.

Catherine celebrated her two-year blogoversary on her personal blog, Working by Candlelight.

Ivie started her series, Rewriting Uprising!

Please go read those posts! I know I am way, way, behind on reading posts.


Final Thoughts:

RW member Audrey Caylin had to step down this month, and all of us here at RW just want to say thank you for everything!!

We might be taking a break around Christmas, but we will have a few posts in December!

Enjoy your last few days of autumn as things turn into (or in my case are already) winter!



Yours &c.

Clare A.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

How to Brainstorm Titles



There are three kinds of writers in the world. The kind who can come up with jaw-dropping titles in seconds, the kind who struggle but consider their titles "okay", and the kind who cannot create a title to save their life.

I fall into the second category, but over my years of struggling to create titles, I've managed to compile a list of key elements necessary to consider when brainstorming a title, plus some helpful methods! So if you're not sure what to title a story or blog post, hopefully these tips will help you out!


Before you start jumbling and mixing words around, there are three key aspects you need to know first:



Your Audience

This one is fairly straight forward. If your book is YA, your audience is young adults (and a fairly big chunk of adults who read YA too). If you write for children, it will be children. Adult fiction for adults, and so on. Your audience will have a certain vocabulary, and so if you're writing for kindergartners, "The Luminescence of Twilight Lampyridae" is not an appropriate title. How will they be able to tell someone what their favourite book is? Something like "Fireflies' Journey to the Moon" might be better.


Your Genre

Readers of each genre have specific expectations of what a title in their genre will sound like. For example, in fantasy, most book titles have "queen" "king" "prince" "shadow" "crown" "empire" and so on in them. Or they have specific phrasing like "___ of ___" and "____ of ____ and ____". When I browse through Goodreads or a website, and skim book titles, these expectations help me to quickly determine whether or not I'll click on a book. Make sure you know the expectation of what titles will sound like in your genre, so you don't lose any readers!


Your Intention

Intention can span a variety of areas. There's the intention of the effect on the reader (such as creating a title that evokes mystery), the intention of your words (such as inspiring someone with your blog post), and your intention for the future of the your story (such as starting a series). All of these will impact what title you create. Let's run with the series example. Titles in a series need to be consistent, so that readers can easily pick up that they're linked, which is what Holly Black has done with "The Cruel Prince" and "The Wicked King". So if you plan to write a series, aim for titles which can relate to each other!

Now that we have that all figured out, here are some ideas of how to brainstorm your title if you're stuck:



A Couple Brainstorming Methods

- Make a Word Aesthetic List: Think of words that relate to your story or settling, and try playing around with them in different ways and orders. For example, there's Tammy Lash's "White Wolf and the Ash Princess".   
- Take Inspiration From a Key Line: Find a line you love in your story or article, and use all or a snippet of it as your title. Sarah J Maas has done this a lot, such as in "Queen of Shadows".
-State It For What It IsSometimes simple and sweet works, and leaves an impact. Take a key word or idea from the article, like a blog post titled "How to Use Scrivener". It also works for books, such as Nadine Brandes' "Fawkes".
- Pull From the Theme: Brainstorm a list of words or phrases that relate to the theme or message of the story, then think of some ways to express it more artistically or vaguely. This is what C. G. Drews did with "A Thousand Perfect Notes".
- Focus on Character: Think of ways to describe your character, their relationships, or what they do. This is common in a lot of historical novels which use some variation on "The ____'s Daughter/Son". As another example, Mary Weber used her character's name in "The Evaporation of Sofi Snow" to create intrigue.

And there you have it, some key considerations when brainstorming titles, and some ways to create them! I hope you might now have inspiration or an idea of how to form yours!



How do you brainstorm titles? Have you seen any patterns in titles in regards to audience/genre? What's your WIP's title and how did you come up with it?



~~Melissa Gravitis~~ 


Melissa Gravitis is a Christian teen writer with a Thai heart, Aussie heritage, and international blood. Growing up overseas, she developed a passion for following dreams, and crafting Young Adult stories with vibrant worlds and characters that pop off the page. Though she doesn’t own any pets (yet), she has imaginary friends called Characters that she spends most of her days with. When she’s not with them, she’s jamming to music, sketching, or burying herself in books. You can read her thoughts and follow her writing progress on her blog, Quill Pen Writer.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Balanced Writing: Guest Post by Jessi Roberts




Note from Keturah Lamb: Hey, I'd like to introduce you all to my friend, Jessi Roberts, whom I met at the Realm Maker's conference a couple years ago. She writes sci-fi stories centered around aliens and is an overall fun person to talk to — Love how she thinks critically about interesting subjects! I hope you all will enjoy what she has to share today!

When it comes to writing, there’s a line authors sometimes debate about, and that is the line between writing clean fiction and writing realistic fiction.

I’ve thought about this myself. While I don’t believe it’s wrong to put swear words in stories, I don’t use them, other than references to “h***” as a place. It would make my audience smaller, and since it feels unnatural to me, I might use them in a way that doesn’t feel realistic.

Some authors try to show that what the characters are doing is wrong, but when I feel the author’s view coming through and telling me the POV character is doing something wrong, it takes me out of the story. I’m supposed to be in the POV character’s head, not the author’s. These stories often come across as preachy, a problem common in the Christian and general market.

I like to portray morally diverse characters since that’s how life is. 

I might show a good soldier on one side, but he could be in opposition to insurgents who are also portrayed positively. I leave it up to the readers to decide what that soldier should be doing. In some story lines, I might have him change sides, or I might only mention him/her in passing and not expand on what’s going to happen to him/her.

In these cases, I think it’s fine for the readers to think about it and come to their own conclusions. I don’t believe it’s likely they’d be harmed if they chose the “wrong” outlook. I got them to think about it, and if they’re thinking about it, I figure I accomplished my goal.

I also have characters who are “good guys” but may have some beliefs I disagree with, such as racism/ speciesism or slave trading. I figure that, because society opposes these beliefs strongly, there is little chance my readers would become like the characters being portrayed.

However, there are a few things I have decided I will never portray without showing it as a bad idea. Homosexual relationships, fornication, lying for selfish reasons, and disrespect of (good) parents.

Why won’t I portray these in passing like slave traders, racism, and other issues? Because unlike those issues, our society is confused about these. 

When society doesn’t know something is wrong, authors have to be much more careful about portraying them. 

We can mention some things in passing, or even portray the characters as allies to the good guys without harming the reader because the reader will know those things are wrong, but if the reader is unsure something is wrong, we must be more careful not to normalize sinful behavior.


 What about you, readers? What are some things you won’t show?


About Jessi Roberts:
I live and work on my family’s cattle ranch in eastern Montana. I have a flock of chickens, a hyper golden retriever, some cows, and a few horses. I enjoy fantasy and science fiction and my head is full of wild sci-fi story ideas, some involving apocalypses and others involving aliens.

I’ve been published in the October 2015 and April 2016 issues of Havok Magazine, an imprint of Splickety Publishing Group.

You can connect with Jessi on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Endings That Are Sunsets




There isn't a time in my life where I can't remember writing.

But writing wasn't always so pleasant. When I was little I was very proud of my handwritten, self-illustrated short stories. But in my early teens . . . I was nearly ashamed of my struggling novels and hid them from all prying eyes.

needed to write stories others could love. But every story I started wandered away into some unknown abyss.

Horrible.
Dark.
Undefinable.

Then, in my late teens, writing changed for me after I joined a knitting group. I found a writing community on there, and we were challenged to write a short story from the prompts given.

I'd only tried to write novels, never short stories. At least not since I was little. But over the process of this challenge, of writing several short stories, magic found my pen and something clicked for me.

I'd been writing to just to write.

I wanted a story to tell – but I wasn't telling the stories I knew. All the novels I'd tried writing weren't me. They were me trying to write something that felt like a real novel. But I wasn't writing from my reality – and my endings were what gave me away the most.

My stories had no goals.
My ending had been the abyss that ate away everything.
My characters were people I didn't know.
I had no plots, I had no themes. I had nothing but words.

Until these writing challenges.

I learned to embrace my creativity. I looked at the prompts, and “What ifs” came to me . . . along with endings.

I couldn't even write a novel, and suddenly I saw the ending of my story before I'd even written it! I was elated and wrote these short stories for a good year or more before “graduating” on to other my own writing goals.

It wasn't until after using this process and finishing my first novella Silent Thoughts that I was finally able to articulate how I was doing what I was doing.

“I write sunsets,” I told a friend.

Here is what I meant:


Sunsets are the end of the day. That can be sad if you don't want the day to end. It can be relieving if the day has been too long. It can be bittersweet if the day was full of all sorts of things. But either way, most sunsets are satisfying and beautiful and give you a chance to breathe and think back on all of the day and appreciate the beauty you now see. Sunsets also hold anticipation. Because darkness will follow. It always does. But after the night, there is remains hope – the promise of another sun rising tomorrow.


Now when I write I don't just write.

I have a story to tell – actually, I have so many stories to tell. It's just a matter of choosing which one to write first. But before beginning any of my stories I envision the ending I want.

This ending may be vague in my head. It may be only a mood I feel.
When I wrote Let Me Meet Death Dancing the entire plot formed itself in my head, but I saw the ending only as an emotion. Let Me Meet Death Dancing ended when I found that emotion.

It may be perfectly imagined out – when I wrote Silent Thoughts the ending was the only scene I knew before writing the story. I didn't know any of my characters or my plot or my story. I wrote Silent Thoughts reaching out to that ending until I found it.

I'm not saying it's easy to write now.

But knowing my endings has drained the process of misery. It's also taught me that stories are not just words on paper, but words to capture something bigger.

And there's something about a beautiful ending – one that is both bittersweet and satisfying – that I feel I was born to write into every single one of my stories. Maybe that's because I love writing realistically moving fiction that captures the many aspects of human relationships and life?

Maybe it's because I relate when hope cries, laughter aches, joy knows pain?

Maybe it's mostly because I strongly believe fiction is meant to show us how to better embrace (not escape) reality, and story endings are what give us back to reality.
I want to leave the story feeling inspired and refreshed and equipped. And I want my readers to be able to do the same.

Yet, I don't feel sunset endings are unique to me, though I think this is my terminology.

Many of my favorite books have endings just like a sunset.
Authors like Katherine Paterson, Lois Lowry, and some of Stephanie Morrill's books.
A Thousand Perfect Notes by C. G. Drews and Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson are two more examples of sunset endings.

You can call them bittersweet if you like – but I find them satisfying, too. Realistically inspiring. Overwhelmingly relatable. Breathtakingly beautiful.

Just like a sunset.

Do you like sunset endings? Can you think of any other books with such endings? What kind of endings do you like to write?


Saturday, November 3, 2018

Revealing.....the Great American Read Finalist!





Hello, my dear rebels!

Let me first apologize for falling through on my promise for the 100 reviews. There were a couple of reasons. Firstly, I ran into a logistics problem of trying to review eighty or so books that I haven't read before. Second, research into other people's reviews and the citations that were required were taking way too much time.

You see, we here at Rebellious Writing had been monitoring the nationwide survey hosted by PBS known as the Great American Read. From a list of 100 books, readers voted for one book per day.

Along with several beloved classics, we have noticed (with some alarm) that there were several books that have content concerns. Because the survey is popularity-based, we were afraid that it would be skewed towards these bad books. The 100 reviews was going to be a review of each of the books on the list. But by the time I made decent headway on the post, the event was coming to a close. So, I decided to wait until the end, and make a post revealing the Great American Read.

At the same time, I would love to examine how some well-beloved titles from the list of 100 have ranked in this event, both in this post and in later posts. I'll go by category, and in this post, I shall concentrate on the most relevant to Rebellious Writing: the Young Adult genre.

There were a surprising amount of young adult novels that were chosen for America's Top 100 list. I have listed them here, in reverse order of ranking:

97. Ghost by Jason Reynolds
92. Looking by Alaska by John Green
73. The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer
71. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
67. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
66. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
31. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
44. The Giver by Lois Lowry
40. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
37. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
32. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
30. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
14. The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak
11. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
9. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis


Many of these titles are probably familiar to our readers, but I want to highlight a couple facts about some of the more unfamiliar ones...


  • Ghost by Jason Reynolds, believe it or not, was published in 2016. For a book that is only 2 years old and to be on the Top 100 list....that's insane. 
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon is about an autistic boy who solves a neighborhood crime. 

In a way, I'm very relieved how these ratings turned out. Several of the books that I was concerned about were lower on the list, and a lot of classics rated at the top of the list. 

Speaking of which, are you ready to find out what book made the top of the Great American Read List of 100 novels???? 

Then please, scroll down......

.......


........


........


........


........


........


........


........


........


........


........


........




To Kill a Mockingbird
Goodreads

I completely understand why this book was chosen as America's Top Novel. One, it's set in America itself, specifically in the American South. Two, it follows this sort of American story line — an ordinary life in a small world suddenly gets visited by big huge change. Three, the themes present in the novel are still really relevant in today's society as they were in Harper Lee's time. It truly is a timeless classic in American literature.

Apparently, this book never left the top spot in all five months of the Great American Read event. It never even got challenged. Considering that this survey was undertaken by people of multiple ages, sexes, and races/ethnicities, that is saying a lot.


The Top Five Finalists were:

5. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
3. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
2. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee



To be honest, Outlander completely surprised me — as I think it did with at least half of the people following this event. All I can say is that there must have been a huge fan base that was following it and pushing it up there. I personally am not going to read it, due to some rather grey morality issues about spouses in multiple time periods.

I wasn't surprised to see Harry Potter up there, but I personally wasn't happy. Knowing that one of America's favorite books has positive references to witchcraft says a lot for our culture, and in my opinion, not a lot of good either. Plus, from what I understand, there is some abuse concerns in there as well (dysfunctional families, etc.). Collectively, RW has not supported Harry Potter due to these concerns.

As a huge fan of both of these books, I was ecstatic to see Lord of the Rings and Pride and Prejudice up there in the Top Five. I mean, how can you not be? There is a large American fan base for each of those books, and, what's better, both are superbly clean.


In the future, I hope to give more commentary on these and other books that were featured in the Great American Read event. In the meantime, for those who wish to check out the official book list and the rankings thereof, please click this link HERE.

It's your turn! Did you follow the Great American Read? Do you agree or disagree that To Kill A Mockingbird should have won? Which book from the 100 Novel list is your favorite? I'd love to discuss (just please keep it civil)


Keep fighting the fight, fellow Rebels!



Saturday, September 29, 2018

Cresting the Hill: September Wrap-Up




In contrast to last September's pot-holed filled country road, this September has been a relatively smooth ride.

Actually, more or less, it's more like being on a crest of a hill. We're a little winded from climbing up, and we're looking around at all the wondrous sites and readers around us. But once we get that nudge, we'll be sailing down fast again. 

So what HAVE we been up to?

Posts This Month

Because of schedule conflicts and the start of school, most of our writers have had a small hiatus from RW from August-September. In lieu of this, we've had a 5-part series on self-publishing, as well as a long overdue "bookish" post. Shall we sneak a peek?

  
In this third part of five, indie children's author Shawn Robinson talks about two major indie platforms: Amazon and Ingram. The pros and cons of each are very well researched, I highly recommend you check it out! 


Book Scout Bulletin #4
Our first book scout bulletin in over nine months features several great works, including reviews of All the Crooked Saints and The List. Check it out by clicking link above!



In this fourth part, Shawn Robinson goes over two topics: advertising the book, and writing contests. It is chock full of facts and avenues for research for the aspiring indie author.  

An Overview of Self-Publishing, Part 5
In this concluding post, Shawn Robinson gives some great tips about ISBNs and book formatting - as well as some wonderful advice for newbie authors.





Remember, that if you happened to miss any of these posts, you don't have to search through the messy archives. Just click the post title!


In the meantime, what has been happening on the social media scene?

Social Media Stats


94 followers, 29,688 all-time views. 
57 likes, 63 followers.
318 followers, 496 tweets, 676 likes.
19 posts, 132 followers 
22 boards, 126 followers.
66 members, 16 topics
28 followers 
47 subscribers

Hmm. The growth of our social media from this month from last month is probably what one would expect from a plant in November....hardly anything.

Just so y'all are aware, we are still looking for an Instagram and Goodreads coordinator! Interested parties should email the team at therebelliouswriting@gmail.com.



Around the Blogosphere

The Simarill Awards have just concluded and what fun they have been! My personal favorite has been the award for the Most Magnificent Dragon, which you can find HERE.

Lilah @ The Singing Writer is spearheading a new mental health blog collaboration called "From My Mind to Yours", and she is opening the door to any blogger that wishes to join her. For more information, please email catholicgirlstuff@gmail.com.


Hamlette @ The Edge of the Precipice is hosting her 2018 Tolkein Party! Check out this years tag questions HERE.


Mary Kate @ Sarcastic Scribblings hosted a lot of guest posts, including ones from Gray Marie CoxLila Kims, Catherine HawthornIvie Brooks and Lilah @ The Singing Writer.


Nadine Brandes has revealed the cover for her new standalone novel Romanov, and several bloggers have taken part of the blog tour. If you haven't seen this beautiful cover, check out R.M Archer's post HERE.


Our world-building expert Melissa Gravitis has written a new installment of her Questions to Ask series.....about fictional armies! Click HERE to check it out!


Final Thoughts 

In our next post, I'll be returning, bearing with me....100 mini-reviews. No, I'm not kidding.
We hinted at this event in our June Wrap-Up, but the voting has picked up a lot of steam since then!

Until then.....keep fighting the fight, fellow Rebels!




Saturday, September 22, 2018

Guest Post Featuring Shawn Robinson: An Overview of Self-Publishing, Part 5



Note from the RW Team: To give our writers a small hiatus, we are welcoming author Shawn Robinson to do a 5 part series on self-publishing over the months of August and September. We hope that this will prove very useful, especially to the teen/indie authors in our audience. Next week, we'll be back on our regular schedule with our September Wrap-Up. 
In the meantime, please give Shawn a warm welcome!


Alright, we've made it through a lot of information over the course of this conversation on Self-Publishing. I hope you're still with me. Maybe it's been like drinking from a fire-hose. Sure, you get some great water, but you end up losing more than you take in. If so, don't be discouraged.

We're just going to cover a little bit more here and then wrap it up. So let's dive in!


Formatting Your Book

If you've finished your book, you're starting to realize that the document you have sitting before you doesn't look like a book. You're also probably starting to realize that you're not sure how to get it into a format ready for a printer. 

The way you get your book from Microsoft Word or Scrivener or yWriter or something else to a printer is to format your book for printing and save it as a PDF. Since this is a complicated and detailed process, I'll point you to my blog post Setting up Your Book: The Basics where I go into this in a lot more detail. 

When you upload that PDF to Createspace, KDP or Ingram, they take the digital PDF and print it! If you've never done this before, it sounds scary and overwhelming, but it's not as hard as you might think. The first time you do it is a little challenging, but after that, you just copy the file and put your next book into the already formatted file! It only gets easier!

ISBNs

You will need an ISBN (International Standard Book Number). If you're not sure what that is, here are the basics: It's a 13 digit number that's used around the world to identify and track your book. Think of it like your book's address. If you don't have an ISBN, book stores and more cannot identify and order your book for sale.

I wrote a series of blogs on ISBNs as there's a lot to know about them, but here's the simple stuff you'll want to know: 

1. Every edition/version of your book needs its own ISBN (paperback, hardcover, ebook, audio book, etc.)

2. ISBNs cost a lot of money for most people (I'm Canadian... we get them for free... sorry)

3. ISBNs are tied to the publisher. My publishing company is called BrainSwell Publishing so all my ISBNs are tied to that company.

4. A lot of companies (Amazon, Vanity Publishers, etc.), will offer to give you an ISBN for free. That is fine if you don't plan on getting your book out there for sale anywhere else. If you're just using Amazon and no one else, go for the free one. Otherwise, it's worth your while to own your own ISBN. If you take the free one from Amazon or somewhere else, they are technically the publisher (regardless of what they say).

5. If you are going to buy your ISBN, you can often buy them in bulk and save a HUGE amount of money. Google, "where do I get an ISBN in..." and add in your country. Bowker sells them in the US, Nelson in the UK, etc.

Concluding Thoughts


All right, we've covered a lot of information. There is a lot more we could cover, of course, such as trim size, creating a cover, details about book setup, book launch teams, launch dates, etc., but we'll need to wrap it up here if we still want to call this an overview. :)

Let me give you a few thoughts just to encourage you to and help you in your writing.

First Thought
Check out some decent writing software like yWriter or Scrivener. They are big helps when it comes to organizing your writing and laying out your book. I use yWriter for my blogging and Scrivener for my fiction writing (I write children's/middle grade novels).

Second Thought
Consider something like NaNoWriMo. It stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it runs in November of each year. It's a worldwide challenge to authors to write an entire novel (at least 50k words) in one month. You sign up and encourage one another to keep writing throughout the month.
If you don't want to do this with NaNoWriMo, you can always just get a bunch of friends together and challenge one another to a similar goal. I wrote the third novel in my Arestana series for NaNoWriMo and it ended up around 77k words.

Third Thought
Stick to your guns on your morals and values. One of the challenges you will face as an author is to fill your books with a lot of junk. Authors are often convinced that you can only write quality, properly expressive works if you include a lot of immoral and, what I would deem, inappropriate language and content.

You don't.

Quality writing takes people on a journey through the ideas and concepts in the book. You are not constrained by the expectations of the reader. You are free to write as you please. In my opinion, it takes greater skill and results in higher quality writing to write family appropriate stories than it does to fill your book with immoral language and concepts. Take the high road!

There you have it! A quick overview of the Self-Publishing process! All the best as you continue through this journey, and if I can be a help or encouragement along the way, let me know!

Meet the Orator:
Bio and author picture are sourced from Author website (www.shawnpbrobinson.com). Used with Permission.

I’m a writer, a husband, a father, a Christian, a hiker (or at least I was till some recent health problems), a lover of coffee, a biker (not the cool kind, but the kind that rides around on an old motorcycle and has a blast) and someone who enjoys watching movies with my sons and playing cards with my wife.

I have written (so far) four books. One is a book of short stories, the other three are a series (Arestana series). They are geared to younger readers and I have a blast writing them! You can check out my books here: www.shawnpbrobinson.com/books