Saturday, July 28, 2018

July Wrap-Up: Beating the Heat



Here in Maine, it's hot and humid and gray.

Clouds hang low over the lakes, often dumping rain out of nowhere. The green of the trees is often muted by the darkness of the shadows that conceal the sun, and thunder shakes the glass in the windows and sets all the dogs to barking. Some days there is nothing to be done but lie on your stomach in front of a fan and weep for the lack of air conditioning.

And yet, it is beautiful here. Pure blue water gleams like sapphire under the sun on the days when the clouds decide to leave us alone, and sometimes the sun actually lets its heat subside enough that going outside is bearable and preferable to staying in. There's a rugged beauty to this state that cannot be summed up in words, and despite the heat, it's gorgeous here.

What is the point of this ramble?

Some days, in our quest for clean writing, we find ourselves on the front lines of the fight against vulgarity and ugliness. The heat can be unbearable. People grow livid, conversations get ugly, publishers churn out books crawling with smut and things that make our faces burn, and there doesn't seem like there's an end in sight.

I want to encourage you all to keep going despite the heat. To find the beauty in the midst of it. There's wonderful moments of triumph in this fight, and days when the darkness is almost non-existent. When you find that perfect clean book...it makes it all worth it.

Our team has been up to quite a bit this month, so let's look at how we've spent the month of July beating the heat. ^_^

July Posts

How to Write GOOD Clean Fiction: A Guest Post by Josie Beth is where one of our readers talks about great techniques to  write clean fiction practically!





"Should We Include Other Faiths in our Stories?" is a thought-provoking post by team member Melissa Gravitis about what including diversity of belief in fiction can do for your novels!





Romanticized Abuse: A Guest Post by Amy Nikita

A brilliant look at the way so much modern YA takes disgusting displays of abuse and toxic relationships and makes them supposedly "shippable" and "romantic." 

Social Media and Stats

Website

90 followers; 26,856 pageviews all time

Facebook

55 likes; 61 follows

Twitter

317 followers; 494 posts; 673 likes

Instagram

19 posts; 128 followers

Pinterest

112 followers

Goodreads

65 members; 15 topics

Google+

~30 followers

YouTube

46 subscribers

Around the Blogosphere

An author who is near and dear to many of us on the team and to our followers, K.A. Emmons, published the second book in her Blood Race series, Worlds Beneath! Her blog tour has brought her to the blogs of team members Lila, Faith, and Audrey, as well as to those of many of our followers. 

Our dear Keturah Lamb turned 22 this month! She wrote a beautiful post reflecting on that birthday and the lessons she's learned in twenty-two years over on her blog. 

Audrey Caylin, as well as many others around the blogosphere, attended the epic Realm Makers writers' conference for Christian speculative fiction, and Audrey won a scholarship for next year's conference! A huge congrats to her. <3 

What do you do when writing gets tedious and the world and characters don't make sense? Melissa Gravitis deals with this question in her post about "play" in our writing. 


Final Thoughts

No matter how much difficulty we might deal with in our fight for clean literature, it's worth it. Facing down the heat will be hard sometimes, but we can do it. Come on, fellow rebels. Let's make August a month to remember.


Saturday, July 21, 2018

Romanticized Abuse in YA - Guest Post by Amy Nikita



Thank you so much to the Rebellious Writing team for inviting me here today! I’m honoured. Romanticised abuse is a topic I feel strongly about, and I feel like it’s becoming more and more relevant. We all know abuse (be it physical, emotional, or sexual) is wrong, but somehow writers still get away with glamorising it.

In my mind, there are two types of romanticised abuse:

1. It’s Perceived as Romance

This type is extremely popular in YA at the moment. You just need to read a Sarah J. Maas book to find toxic dynamics between men and women, violence against women, and violent sexual relationships. But it’s supposedly okay, because it’s “just who the couple are”, or it’s “how the fantasy world works”. Violence becomes normalised in these relationships. It’s even thought of as sexy and hot. Think of Rhys and Feyre in the ACOTAR series, or Christian and Ana in Fifty Shades of Grey, or Chuck and Blair in Gossip Girl, or Edward and Bella in Twilight, or Damon and Elena in The Vampire Diaries, or any movie or TV show where there’s a “bad boy”. 

It’s supposedly okay if bad boys stalk the heroine, treat her like she belongs to him, and even get violent with her because he’s a bad boy – it’s what he does. It’s okay to be possessive – he just cares a lot. He comes from a rough childhood – you have to sympathise with him. It’s okay if he bites her – he’s Fae, it’s what they do. 

And writers can be sly about it, too. They’ll make their hero handsome, wealthy – do whatever they can to disguise his problematic behaviour. But when you strip away good looks and status, there’s a monster underneath. We as readers need to recognise that.

I’m not against bad boys. But I do think characters can be bad boys without sexually assaulting or emotionally abusing the heroine. Violence should never be the norm in a relationship. When writers start glamorising violence in relationships, there’s a problem. And the sooner teenagers stop swooning over bad boys and violent sex scenes, the sooner we can get back to the true definition of heathy romance and love.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."
– 1 Corinthians 13: v4-8

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 
- 1 John 4: v18


2: Treated Lightly/Plot Device

Too often I’ve been reading a book or watching a movie where I’ll come across a horrific incident of sexual assault and/or rape, just to find that the author skips right over it without actually addressing the incident. In TV’s Gossip Girl, Chuck Bass attempts to rape three women, and yet the series completely glosses over it in favour of developing his character and making him out to be the dark hero. In Once Upon A Time, two male characters are raped, and the writers ignore the incidents and focus on the rapists’ characters: two beloved, popular heroines.

Or rape and sexual assault are just used as plot devices. It’s shocking how easily authors can throw a scene of sexual assault or attempted rape into their book, and only use it to move the plot. The incidents aren’t there to show how the victim’s affected – they’re just there for entertainment value.
Then there’s writing style. Many authors are way, way too flippant when it comes to writing abusive relationships and/or sexual assault. In Daughter of the Pirate King, the tone of the book is humorous, so when the author includes two incidents of sexual assault, the tone is light-hearted as well.

That’s unacceptable. If you’re going to write about an abusive relationship/ sexual assault/rape, then I think it is your duty as the writer to properly handle that topic with the attention and sensitivity it deserves. It’s a heavy, serious plot choice, and it has consequences. It requires a lot of page time and a lot of careful thought.

Abuse is a reality – we don’t need it sugar-coated and we don’t need it romanticised. We need it addressed.

I hope you've enjoyed this post :) Please share your own opinions in the comments. What are some examples of romanticised abuse you've seen in either movies or books? Do you agree that it’s becoming increasingly prevalent? What are your thoughts on this topic?


Hi I’m Amy! I’m an 18 year-old book nerd, film fanatic, coffee addict, feminist, and child of God. I write book and movie reviews (among other posts) over at A Magical World Of Words. My dream is to be a published author – if I ever survive the editing process of a book ;)

Connect with Amy on:
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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Should We Include Other Faiths in Our Stories?




When you’re passionate about something, it’s hard to keep it quiet. You want to talk about it with all your friends, your family, sometimes even strangers. It slips into the cracks of your life, fills them up, and helps bring a form of wholeness. For a lot of people, this passion is their religion. Their faith. For some of you, I would suspect this might be Christianity. My faith has made me pause in my writing before, and wonder, how much is too much? Where do you draw the line between preaching, teaching, and suggesting? Should I even include other religions, other faiths, into my work? I believe that we should. In fact, I think we do Christianity (or whatever faith you follow) a disservice by excluding them. So why include other faiths into our stories? 1) It's Realistic In our world, Christianity is not the sole religion, not by a long shot. There are vast beliefs all over the globe, all with their own gods, rituals, history, and so on. There are millions (if not billions) of people who follow belief systems that differ from yours. Of course, story settings can sometimes limit this. If you set a story in Thailand, for example, it's likely almost all your characters would consider themselves Buddhist.

Yet in any story, especially if you write in the contemporary genre, having characters who follow different faiths and religions will bring about a sense of realism to your storyworld. And if your storyworld feels real, so in turn will your characters and plot. 2) An Opportunity for Tension From a storytelling perspective, conflict and tension are key to a story's success. Without it, plots don't move along, and characters don't change. If you make two characters, who follow different faiths, suddenly burst into a theological argument about the afterlife while eating ice cream, the conflict will seem forced and crammed in there.

But what about if they've just left their mother's funeral, and one mentions hope of seeing her again, but her sibling shuts the idea down as stupid and baseless? Then, you have conflict that is natural, reflective of the characters' current mindset, drives the story forward, and gives you an opportunity to showcase faith. I believe the key here is not to force theological differences into the story -- but let the story events draw them out, and simmer tension.

3) Allows the Reader to Think

If you only include one faith or religious view point into a story, no doubt readers of that faith will connect to it. But what about when someone who adheres to a different faith reads it? Invariably, they will compare your themes, message, and beliefs to their own. The comparison stick already exists -- not including another in your story, where you can address possible issues or questions that arise, is a missed opportunity.

Presenting opposing view points, gives your story greater depth. It allows you to examine all sides of your theme. Take revenge, for example. If your character is fully set that it is the right thing, that it is justified, their character arc can't take place unless they are confronted by someone who believes the opposite. This is a lesson I learned in my writing recently -- the character who opposes your MC's belief, does not have to necessarily oppose their goals. It can be far more interesting and impactful if it a friend, ally, or family member challenges a character's core beliefs. By including other faiths, you are allowing the message you want to get across. The reader will not believe simply because it's what you said, but because they've journeyed with the character through different view points, and come to their own conclusion.

This isn't to say you have to write every other religion or faith like they're as true as you believe yours to be -- but just remember, no one believes in something they think is false. I would try and treat all other faiths in my writing with respect, even if I disagreed with them, but how you depict the other faiths, and if you even include them at all, is your call. I truly believe, however, that by including other faiths into your stories, you can craft a story that is realistic, has extra potential for tension, and deepens your theme.

What are your thoughts? Do you believe we should include other faiths/religions in our stories, or should we exclude them? How do you use your faith to deepen your themes?

~~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.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

How to Write (Good) Clean Fiction: Guest Post by Josie Beth




Our local library had a book sale — all the books you could fit into a Walmart bag for two dollars. 

Being a bookworm, I rushed to check the tables for any good books. My mom went with me to help. As she was looking, she asked why they were getting rid of so much teen Christian fiction that seemed perfectly fine. 

I told her the sad truth: “Christian teen fiction for girls is more times than not terribly written, and readers know that.” 

Often, when we think about books that are intended to be clean — like Christian fiction — we pass over them, because we know they’re going to be cheesy and boring. Or, when we try to argue that clean fiction is the better route, we get the reply “It’s unrealistic.” 

This puts Rebellious Writers in a tough spot. How do we write without language, abuse, and lust without being called cheesy or unrealistic? 

It’s actually quite possible if you know how to do it. Here are a few ways to write (good) clean novel:

 1. How to write without language 

We live in a world where people curse a lot and cursing in novels “shows who the character is”. Readers probably will get quickly annoyed with your creative replacements. There are two solutions to this.

One, don’t. You can simply *not* curse. Seriously. If your character gets caught in an avalanche, have him run away, not shout swears. I doubt readers will even notice. 

Two, pass over it. The critics are right. Swearing can show character and is realistic. If you’re okay with it, write “she cursed” or something similar instead. It shows realism and character without forcing the reader to see your language. 

2. How to write without abuse 

Alcohol, drug, domestic, child, and animal abuse exist. There’s obviously the route of not including this in your novel. But if you want to include it, you have to learn how to portray it in a negative light. 

Abuse is wrong. Yes, some people in your novel may think otherwise. However, we can use this tool I like to call “authorial truth”. While your characters think acting sinfully is okay, there’s a way to show their actions as wrong even without saying it.

To show this authorial truth, characters suffer when they make mistakes and are rewarded when they do right. For example, if your character abuses alcohol, he ends up getting drunk and making choices he regrets. If your character abuses her children, she gets in trouble with the law. 

Don’t take this to mean you can’t have characters that disagree. Having a wiser character advise others against sinful actions or simply knowing that it’s wrong is a good step. 


3. How to write without lust 

Close the door, will you? Readers know people do in bed, and even readers who don’t care about clean fiction complain about explicit sex scenes. Cut any of these scenes out of your novel; everyone will agree it’s better. 

You can also use that authorial truth I talked about earlier to show any wrongful desire in a negative light. Realistically, most of my teenage friends don’t even kiss their boyfriends or girlfriends, so don’t worry about that. If you’re trying to find drama to complicate the plot, there are other, more masterful ways. 

In short, it’s possible to write a good book that’s also clean if you just put a little bit of effort into it. Show all of these in a negative light and cut out explicit parts we don’t want to read. 

What do you think? How do you write good, clean fiction? Share your thoughts with me in the comments!




About the Orator: 

 Josie has loved stories, places, and people for as long as she can remember, so it wasn't a surprise when she took an interest in writing. You can find her noveling, dreaming, making music, acting out characters, or posting on her blog, starlightandsunshine.net, where she shares writing along with many other aspects of her life.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Summer Solstice: A Summary of June

The summer solstice is the longest day of the year. It is the peak; after that you have to go down the other side. Sometimes we feel that we must have reached the peak a long time ago, and that we can only go downhill, forever and ever, and that there will never be any ups. But, I believe that we are still going up, that there is still more to come. It comes every year and it will come again, so keep your spirits up!

Summer for RW has been great so far (notice all the awesome guest posters we have this summer!). Look at all these great posts we had this month:

June 2018 posts:

How to Write a Swoon-Worthy Non-Romance: Guest Post by Taylor Bennet
Taylor gave us some great tips, and Keturah and Faith told us what they think about her book, Porch Swing Girl.





Review of Day Moon by the RW Team
Lila and Audrey told us what the YA dystopian novel by Brett Armstrong is like.



6 Ways to Find Clean Books: Guest post by Rachel Meyer
Our guest poster Rachel tells us ways to find good books when we are sick of the bad. I definitely agree with her on #5.





Social Media and Stats:

Website:
89 followers, 22,644 pageviews all time

Facebook:
56 likes, 62 followers

Twitter:
314 followers, 491 tweets, 666 likes

Instagram:
19 posts, 128 followers

Pintrest: 
24 boards, 103 followers, 3k monthly viewers

Goodreads:
65 members, 20 topics

Google +:
26 followers

Youtube:
46 subscribers, 2 videos.

Links to all of these can be found at the top of this page.


Summer Treats:

In summer with heat waves crashing down, sometimes it is too much to handle. We all need breaks so I am here to show you some things as exciting as jumping in cool water on a hot day.

The Great American Read
Recently, PBS started a nationwide online survey to find out what the greatest novel is in America out of a list of 100. While several good classics are on there, there are several books on there that are not clean in the least. Here at RW we are all voting for the books that are clean! Please join us in voting for your favorite clean reads!

Camp NaNo
RW has a cabin for July! Faith Thompson is in charge of it. It is open to any follower of RW so if you are in need of a cabin, get in touch with her!


Posts around the 'hood:

Gray Marie Cox had three inspirational, encouraging, and helpful posts: You're NOT a WriterCharacter Arcs // Why You Need Them and How to Start Writing Them, and The Problem with Darkness in YA.

Abigail Lennah launched her new blog, Story-Eyed!

One of our followers, Micaiah SaldaƱa, recently wrote a wonderful series on writing non-cliche strong female characters - see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3!

Faith Thompson has taken a new pen name! Check out this post on her blog to find out what it is, and more about her!

Melissa Gravatis wrote a great post about Should We Rate Books Lower if They Have Objectionable Content?

Lila Kims and Ivie Brooks collaborated on two different posts: Lila's Why I Want to Trad Publish, and Ivie's Why I Want to Indie Publish.

And finally, Ivie Brooks has recently announced that she is accepting sign-ups for a blog tour of her upcoming book, Uprising!! Click HERE to visit the sign-up form on Ivie's shiny new author's website.

Final word:

What I mostly want to say is, keep your spirits up! Summer is an amazing time, and it will always come again. You have not reached your peak yet, so keep climbing.

Yours &c.
Clare A.