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 She is also an unpublished author who loves to read, ride horses, and play music!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!