Saturday, May 11, 2019

How To Write A Stress-Free Serial For Your Blog

I've written several serials for my blog now, two fiction and many nonfiction. And I've finished them all ... something that has resulted in many of my friends asking me, "Please, share your secret!?"

And because I don't want it to be a secret, I have decided to share.

1. Have an idea worth finishing
First, know what you want to write. It's all good and fun to know that you want to write a serial, but make sure before you start writing that it's actually serial material. Inspired to write something, but been putting it off because it's just not quite good enough or appropriate for a traditional novel but you're in love with it anyway? 

Ask yourself if your current reader base would like it. For example, writing horror if your readers are a bunch of Christian 14-year-olds is not a great idea. Try to make sure the content still fits your blog. 

All of my serials were ideas I was passionate about. 

The fiction ones, The Lawrence Children and Susan of Narnia, were ideas I'd had since I was about fourteen, so the plots had been simmering in my brain for a good five-eight years before finding life in words. 

My nonfiction serials, Living With The Amish, Why I Love/ Hate Myers Briggs, On Spending Time and Working Before Resting, and many others were all topics I was passionate about through experience and thus couldn't keep in a single blog post. 

2. Finish it BEFORE you start posting 
Then, once you're certain, write it all out. DON'T WRITE SOME OF IT AND POST BEFORE IT'S FINISHED. That's a sure way to guarantee a load of stress for yourself. Plus, you'll end up forgetting and finding you don't know what to write next, and then your serial will never be finished, or you'll have long breaks between publishing breaks, and your audience will lose interest. 

So write everything first.

For both The Lawrence Children and Susan of Narnia I wrote the first drafts in under three weeks. 

For most of my nonfiction series, I wrote them all out in the space of a couple days, if not a single day. Except my Amish series took right at a year to put together, because of having to work with so many people.

Because my fictional serials weren't novels I was trying to write for publication, but something I was doing for fun for my blog, I didn't use quite the same method as I usually do. I took maybe a week tops break from the manuscripts, then dove right into the second draft. And that's all the writing I did ... the second draft usually took me about the same amount of time as the first. 

In the first draft, I focused on getting the story down. 
In the second draft, I focused on making the story more interesting, taking out parts that made it dull, adding description where I needed it, and tightening my prose. 

3. Find Beta readers, and possibly editors
After finishing the second draftI looked for a few beta readers among friends and Go Teen Writers. I even found a few people wanting to edit and had a few people go over my serials. 

I didn't want to put a ton of work into these as it's just for my blog, but at the same time, I didn't want to post garbage. So I looked for about three-five beta readers and one or two editors. I did this only on my larger series though, not any of my two-parters. 

My beta readers would point out plot inconsistencies, bad dialogue or confusing wording, and characters doing things out of turn. 

My editors would do basic line edits. 
I actually hired Elisabeth Houseman to edit Susan of Narnia, because I was really excited about that serial. And she did a fantastic line edit. 

I've also had R. M. Archer edit for me, and I've always been very happy with her work. 

One last thing that's very good to do, is to thank all your beta readers and editors. And I actually write and schedule this post just after finishing up step three so that I don't forget who was involved with helping me. Here's my afterward post for the Lawrence Children as an example. And I have one written up for my Susan serial, too. It's just scheduled and waiting to post until the serial has all been posted ;) 

I should have probably written a thank you post for my Amish series, too. But I didn't ... and at this point, I'd have a hard time remembering all who helped me put that together. Which is really sad and why I should have written it when I had the chance. 

4. Schedule it on your blog
This actually will take some time. For my shorter series, I can give it an evening or two. But my fictional series took several evenings. 

I'm not sure how other blogging platforms work, but Blogger has really funky formatting behaviors. Especially when copying from one place to another. I usually write through Google Docs or LibreOffice. Sometimes I can copy the text straight over from there to Blogger. But sometimes copying and pasting will put white behind all the text, so I'll have to copy and paste into the website bar, then copy that and paste into my Blogger document. 

That'll make the text standard to whatever I have set on Blogger, but it also means everything is now blocked text. So I have to go through and make all my paragraphs.

IT'S VERY IMPORTANT your format looks decent. Don't think your readers are going to give your story a chance if the text looks miserable. And small paragraphs are crucial, so don't be lazy with forming paragraphs. 

Once I have all my posts formatted in Blogger, I choose a regular day for posting. For non-fiction series, I post on my regular Wednesdays. I did my Amish posts every couple of days, but my two-parters were done on one Wednesday and then the next. 

I also collect all my permalinks and include those at the end of every post so that readers in the future can conveniently find any post in the series. 

For my fictional series, I form a new draft and copy the permalinks there, since those posts are usually about twelve posts long. Once all twelve permalinks are together and formatted how I want them, I copy them and paste them at the end of each of my other posts. Having that extra draft to work from saves time from going back and forth through each of the actual posts. Once I'm done, I delete the draft containing the permalinks. 

5. Forget that about it and allow others to enjoy!
You've written your serial. You have it scheduled out ... if it's a twelve-parter, that means you have a year of content and you NEVER have to worry about writing or posting. Whew! You've just saved yourself from losing ten years of life. Can't you just feel that stress rolling away, and wow, there's so much joy? 

All you have to do now is share your posts on social media whenever they publish—most times I forget it's even time for the next installment to post until after the fact. It's always a nice surprise to see that it's still working without my needing to remember its existence. 

Posting your serial should be fun, and this method of doing it makes certain of that. Your readers can enjoy and you need never have the displeasure of experiencing stress or blogger shame. 

Have you ever written a serial? Do you have any tips to share? And what are some of your favorite serials, fiction or nonfiction, that you've ever read from blogs? Share links! 

Saturday, May 4, 2019

May the Fourth: 5 Writing Tips that Can be Learned from Chewbacca

Today, as many fans around the world know, is Star Wars day! The reason behind this is that one of the common sayings in the series is "May the force be with you", and today we say "May the Fourth be with you."

Because of this special occasion, we here at Rebellious Writing wanted to do a post of some kind featuring something from the Star Wars series. When we learned that Peter Mayhew, who plays Chewbacca in the series, had recently passed away; we decided to focus on his character, and what we as writers can learn about it.


5 Writing Tips that Can be Learned from Chewbacca


1. Make your creatures distinctive in many ways - physical, mental and emotional.
What makes Chewy stand out is his height, his hair and his language. One time he is referred to as a "walking carpet", because of how he looks; but anyone who is familiar with him knows how lovable he is.

2. Provide non-English speaking characters lots of context for his speech.
If your sidekick doesn't speak English, you're going to need another character to translate or provide non-verbal gestures so that he may be understood by the other characters. Han's replies to Chewy always indicate what he said. You can also always tell his emotions based on the pitch of his voice.

3. Loyalty.
This is very often the defining characteristic of a sidekick character. Chewy can be a little harsh when you first meet him, but once you know him he is going to stick with you. An example of that is in Episode 5, when he notices that C-3PO is missing and does not stop until he finds him.

4. Using a sidekick's flaw as conflict for the hero.
Chewy's short temper slowed down the group several times during the original films, creating frustration for the team members...among other things. While it's easy to create this puppet-like side character that do the hero's bidding, this makes for a boring and non-memorable character.

5. Have the sidekick be able to act independently from the hero.
In Episode 6, Chewy separates himself from the main fighting force to overtake an AT-ST unit (otherwise known as the metallic dinosaur-like tanks). This act turns the tide of the battle in favor of the Resistance. This was not under Han's orders, but of his own intuition. This again comes down to having the side character be his own character and not a puppet. If Chewie was under Han's orders all the time, he would have been useless in Episode 8.

In Conclusion

Chewbacca is such a famous and memorable sidekick, and a worthy character to base your own sidekick characters on. We hope that you can use these tips to flesh out your own characters.

"May the force be with you" in all of your writing escapades!

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Rise and Shine: April Wrap-Up and Update

It is often said that "April showers bring May flowers", but it seems hard to believe it when there is never any sunshine, only the rain. "Rain" for us writers can mean several things, either we are stuck only plotting, not doing any writing, or we are editing, and it seems like we will never reach the end.

The good news: All the "rain" is bringing beautiful "flowers".

But, who said that rain is a bad thing? I have always loved rain, because even though we can't see the sun, we still know that is behind the clouds. In these times, our writings are what brighten up people's days. We need to "Rise and Shine" so brightly, even if it means that we are doing the hard tasks, the boring ones, the results will be worth it.

We here at RW had a "rainy day" where we decided to take a break April 7th. Besides that we had some book reviews, getting us back on track!

Posts this Month:

Brushing Shadow and Poisoned Apple: 2 Book Reviews - by Catherine Hawthorn
Catherine reviewed Brushing Shadow, the sixth book in a series by Anna Lee Huber, and we had one of our book scouts, Rachel Kovaciny review Five Poisoned Apples. Follow the bold link to see their thoughts on those two books.

"Uncommon" Book Reviews: Mini-Reviews of 5 Lesser Known Novels - by Julian Daventry
We are always reading new books because it is exciting, but is it because we think that old books are boring? Julian recommends older books that are worth a shot.

Monthly Statistics:

98 followers, 44,901 all-time views

59 likes, 68 followers

306 followers, 449 tweets

39 posts, 141 followers

22 boards, 137 followers

81 members, 23 topics

46 subscribers

Camp NaNo Stats:

As many writers know, April is a Camp NaNo Month! Each of us RW members love to write, so here are some of our stats from this Camp.

Catherine: Goal is 20k. Right now she is at 17k, and still has a few days!
Faith: 120,015, and she won, and finished her book!
Julian: 8 hours and 54 minutes spent editing!
Lila: Goal is editing 100 pages. Currently at around 70ish!
Keturah: 25k words!

Way to go, girls! You have all done so fantastically!

Around the Blogosphere:

The website Fairy Tale Central was launched! It is run by Arielle Bailey, Faith White, and Christine Smith. Such a cool place to check out for all fairy tale lovers!

ArielCatherineCeciFaith, Julian, Nicole, and Sarah all participated in The Shared WIP Tag.

Kara Lynn, and a few helpers, revealed the cover of her book The Broken Prince which is coming out in June!

Our very own Melissa Gravatis celebrated blogging for three years on her blog, Quill Pen Writer! Congrats, Melissa!

One of our followers, Danielle Droubay celebrated her "writerversary", she has been writing for five years! Way to go!

Final Thoughts:

Keep on writing! I look forward to one day reading all of your "flowers," your amazing creations.

Yours &c.

Clare A.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

"Uncommon" Book Reviews: Mini-Reviews of 5 Lesser Known Novels

New books are popular, and for good reason.  These stories are for us, today.  The plots and themes often deal with current issues.  We can relate to the characters as they go through the same things we face-high school, college, jobs (in the contemporary genre, at least).  The authors are still alive and can be contacted for interviews, fan mail, or just to share tidbits about their new releases.  Covers are shiny and new and beautiful.  New books, however, often have content that we at Rebellious Writing are rebelling against.

Old books...are less popular.  And for good reason.  The writing can be hard to understand.  The messages and characters are different.  And the author is likely some middle-aged person writing in some stuffy study by typewriter or something.  And probably dead.

In our effort to escape the content found in newer books, we turn to these older books.  Perhaps, despite the dry, stuffy writing, we can find a story to satisfy our thirst for reading-without sacrificing our standards.

And then we find the truth: sometimes older books aren’t so great either.

It’s a fact of life.  Not every new book is full of lust and gore (yay for that), and not every old book is clean.

Today I’m going to cater to some of our readers who love older novels and recommend a few good ones.  And maybe some of those folks who usually avoid these kind of books might be inspired to pick up one of these and give something different a try.  :)

(Click the book title to be taken to the Goodreads page.)

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Everyone’s heard of this, I’m sure.  If you haven’t, I can only assume you’ve spent the last 16 years locked in prison, trying to write a book about making Italy into one nation.  It’s a long, dragging read.  You’ll want to throw yourself out a window a few times because it’s so confusing.  But it’s worth it.  According to my sister, who loves this book to pieces, “You’ll learn all sorts of things.  You’ll learn how convince people to commit suicide, to convince people to not commit suicide, to make it look like someone committed suicide, how to communicate with a quadriplegic, how to overprice chicken, how to sail, how to escape prison in sixteen years, how to rescue someone, how to befriend assassins, how to make friends with pirates, how to politely insult someone, and so much more.”

The Scottish Chiefs by Jane Porter

Celtic lore lovers?  Here you are!  Dashing Scottish heroes, epic ladies, and lots of high adventure!  Kind of like Braveheart but without the R rating.  :)  And lots more side plots and fun book features like that.  You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll enjoy the action.  There’s a lot of characters to suit fantasy novelists, and it’s nicely written as well.

The Traitor’s Gate by Avi

So I was very dubious of this book when I first started reading it.  It’s not my genre, not my time period...basically the only reason I picked this was because a friend gave it to me and I enjoyed other books I’d read from this author.  But it started to get a little interesting...then more interesting...then I was reading as fast as I could.  I would say “a moving little mystery novel set in foggy London."  Kinda cute.  Kinda eye-opening to the time period (like a Charles Dickens novel, but easier to read).

Lysbeth and Pearl Maiden by H. Rider Haggard

Pearl Maiden has always been a favorite book of mine.  A historical fiction novel set during the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD about a Jewish orphan girl.  It’s cute.  A love triangle...but with the girl not being able to pick either of her lovers because neither of them share her convictions.  For lovers of roman and/or Jewish history, it’s a must read!

Lysbeth, however...the first time I read it, I got bored and stopped.  Yes, I actually didn’t finish it (which rarely happens).  But I eventually forgot I didn’t like it and picked it up again...and read the whole thing...and loved it.  Kind of a love triangle again (hmmmm) but with a totally different take on it!

Both are highly recommended!

Any older (aka, not newly released) books y’all like and recommend?  Have you read any of these?  Remember, there’s no shame in reading and loving older books.  Nor is there shame in loving a book that no one else has read, where there’s not even a fandom to share it with.

Read what you like.  But try new things.

Keep reading, Y'all!
~Julian Daventry

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Brushing Shadow and Poisoned Apple: 2 Book Reviews

It's been quite a while since a bookish post made it's appearance here on Rebellious Writing! So for this post, I'll be giving a review of Lady Darby Mystery #6: A Brush with Shadows, and will be publishing RW book scout Rachel Kovaciny's review of the Five Poisoned Apples anthology.

Disclaimer: All opinions are the reviewers', and may not reflect Rebellious Writing as a whole. Rebellious Writing's reviews and star ratings only apply to the work in question, not to every work by the author.

A Brush with Shadows (Lady Darby Mystery #6)
A Brush with Shadows

Language: ☆☆☆☆🟉. There were a few instances of bad language, including at least one instance of "Jack---" that I remember. Most were said in the heat of anger, and not on general principle.

Abuse: ☆☆☆☆ . Lots of family conflict. Mentions of an abusive husband.

Lust: ☆☆☆. Multiple instances of alluded marital relations between husband and wife (and potentially pregnancy because of it), multiple allusions to affairs of a womanizer (and the paying off that happened after), multiple instances of illegitimate children. Not recommended for unmarried women, though it's perfectly acceptable for married women to read.

Overall: ☆☆☆. I rather liked it for the most part. I'm not sure how I feel about the how the plot was handled though. I was expecting a much more plot-centric book like a standard mystery and this one was really focused on relationships and characters. It was pretty engaging, but there were a few times when it slowed a little.

If you're wondering why in the world I'm reading the most recent book in a series without reading the first ones....I assure you I'm a victim of deception here.

See, I saw it in a thrift store and thought it looked really interesting so I picked it up. There isn't a number anywhere on the cover so I had no idea where in the lineup this book was. I didn't realize until later that it was the most recent book of the series. Despite this, it was easy to get a feel for what the characters were and what the backstory is.

What I liked:

- Gage. Best description I can say is that he is a MAN. Like, a real honorable gentleman, who is absolutely masculine and protective and downright attractive.

- Kiera. Her name is perfect, and I liked her character. She's smart, has a dry sense of humor and has a wonderfully feminine soft heart.

-The world-building was wonderful, including the social aspects. I felt as though I truly was on the English moors.

What I didn't like:

- The amount of newlywed intimacy and alluded relations. I should note that the intimacy between the newlyweds was nothing immoral. However, as an unmarried woman, I don't really need to read that (nor should I really - it tends to lead me down paths that I shouldn't tread). I found it super distracting, and I felt that it took a little away from the plot in a couple of spots. Sometimes it worked and others it didn't.

- The lack of plot drivers. By that, I mean that there was much more focus on characters and their relations with each other rather than the underlying mystery. I could understand why it was written this way a little because of the family history - however, I've read other historical mysteries that use that plot device much more efficiently.

- The amount of illegitimacy and the somewhat shady way this particular society viewed it. I'm sorry, but marrying within the first few months of the child's conception doesn't change the fact that the child was conceived out of wedlock. The parties are still guilty of committing fornication, and it should not be emulated. As proven by the characters, that lifestyle can be passed down generations! And really, this idea that men can't control themselves is a bold faced lie.

- There were some allusions to issues of class and morals that seemed just a little too modern for me.

- I was rather miffed to see a cliche ending to this mystery. Everything else seemed original enough!

Five Poisoned Apples: A Collection of Snow White Stories
Five Poisoned Apples

Language: ☆☆☆☆☆
Abuse: ☆☆☆☆☆
Lust: ☆☆☆☆☆
Overall: ☆☆☆☆☆

Five retellings of the familiar fairy tale “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” by five different authors!

"Falling Snow" by Skye Hoffert sets the Snow White story in a magical circus where all the performers and circus workers are magical beings... except one young girl. She works as a clown but aspires to be a tightrope walker, and she has no idea that everyone else is magical, least of all the circus owner’s handsome son.

"Raven's Heir" by Jenelle Hovde has this little tinge of Robin Hood flavor that I dig. An orphaned princess seeks to unite her kingdom against her stepmother. She escapes the castle and finds help from a band of rangers, one of whom turns out to be the boy she was betrothed to when they were both very young.

"The Fairest One" by Cortney Manning features a young princess who befriends an enslaved dwarf who helps her escape her greedy stepmother and seek assistance from the dwarven council. It's kind of got a bit of the story of Queen Esther from the Bible woven in as well.

"Red as Blood" by Maddie Morrow is told from the point of the view of an assassin who's tasked with hunting down and killing a member of the royal family, but not told why, and the near-disastrous results.

"Snowbird and the Red Slippers" by Rachael Wallen mixes the fairy tale ‘The Red Shoes’ with ‘Snow White’ and sets the whole story in a prestigious ballet school in New York City, with a poor North Korean dancer at the center. Passion, obsession, culture clashes, and envy all play a part, and I found it to be a stunning conclusion not only to this collection, but to this series as a whole.

Review provided by: Rachel Kovaciny

Rachel Kovaciny lives in Virginia with her husband and their three homeschooled children. She has independently published her book "Cloaked," a western re-imagining of "Little Red Riding Hood," and "Dancing and Doughnuts," another of her western re-imaginings of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." In her free time, Rachel writes for the online magazine Femnista, reads, bakes, blogs, watches movies, and daydreams. You can check out Rachel's blog HERE.

We graciously thank Rachel for this wonderful book review! If any of you have any books to recommend to us, please leave a review of them in our Contact Form ~ we love receiving them!

In the meantime, check back next week for more book reviews, courtesy of Julian Daventry!

Keep fighting the good fight, y'all!

Saturday, March 30, 2019

The Lion and the Lamb: March Monthly Wrapup

It's been a wild ride here in New England this winter.

The weather has gone from dumping buckets of snow on our heads, to pouring so much rain our garage flooded, to giving us days so warm we can wear T-shirts outside. There's been skiing and there's been roller skating. There's been hot cocoa and there's been ice cream.

The swing between warm and cold makes me think of the books on my reading list. I swing back and forth between periods where there're lots of clean books on my shelf, and times when I'm reading whatever happens to be on the market.

Right now, it seems kind of like everyone is writing books full of crud. There's so much smut in the world—could we ever actually succeed in making uplifting, hopeful fiction be the norm?

That's the winter. But don't worry, friends. The spring is coming.

Posts this Month

A Defense of Non-Committal Writers by Catherine—a really great look at the fact that we don't have to rush through our writing projects! Let's take our time and create a work of art worthy of our pride. 

Thoughts About Magic in YA by the Rebellious Writing team—the whole team got together to discuss our thoughts on magic and whether or not it's okay in YA! We had a blast writing this one, and hope you all enjoyed it too!

Short and Snappy: How to Write a Gripping Flash Fiction Story by Lila Kims—everyone writes novels, but how can you tell an excellent story in less than a thousand words?! This post does an awesome job providing advice on how to do it!

Taking a Closer Look: Details are Everything by Clare A.—is content okay in small doses? What harm does a little bit of the yuckier elements of smut do? Clare is here to inform us that it may effect more than we think. 

Monthly Stats

98 followers, 41,360 all-time views

58 likes, 63 followers

307 followers, 449 tweets, 638 likes

38 posts, 142 followers

22 boards, 141 followers

74 members, 23 topics

45 subscribers

Around the Blogosphere

It's almost Camp NaNoWriMo! Next month, we can expect to see lots of posts about that from team members and followers alike.

Christine is starting a new blog called Fairy Tale Central along with two other bloggers, Arielle and Faith, and it's going to be absolutely fantastic! It should be releasing soon.

Nicki Chapelway gave us a post featuring the most pressing books on her TBR! If you need more books for that shelf (and you know you do), check out her list!

Our team member, Keturah, started a serial story on her blog about Susan Pevensie from Narnia! Only one chapter is up on her blog at the moment, but it has the makings of a really awesome story.

Julian asks her readers to consider the main goal of getting published: is it for the pursuit of our own happiness, or is it for the glory of God?

Final Thoughts

It can be cold out there, and it can feel like you're alone. But we're never alone. There are lots of other Rebellious Readers and Rebellious Writers around you. All you have to do is look.

Have a wonderful April, everyone! 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Taking a Closer Look: Details are Everything

I love to read and review books (and movies!), but sometimes it is so hard! Though I hate to admit it, I am a very sensitive person. And it’s not that I had a sheltered childhood, I’ve been watching PG-13 movies for as long as I can remember.

Books are my comfort zone, I read everywhere. In the car, curled up in some corner, in my hammock (in the summer, of course). These are all the comfy places, but I can even read when I am not comfortable, because I’m in a different world. But, when things disturb me from that, and interrupt my worlds, I don’t like it one bit.

But, if there is something that is so, so, so small, do I take a point or star away?

I am so picky, about everything. My mom and sisters always complain that when I’m watching movies I flinch every time someone curses, or when there are suggestive references, or when someone is smoking. When they ask, "How did you like it?" My first impulse is to say all the problems with it.

They say, “You have to look past those things to get to the meaning.”

My problem: I can’t.

They always say, “It is just such a little thing! It doesn’t matter!”

Exactly; it isn’t vital to the plot, so why is it there?

Do we just turn “a blind eye” towards it?

Now, when it is vital to the story, or it shows consequences, I am perfectly fine with it! Stories are about growing and overcoming obstacles. Evolution! But what I’m talking about is when someone, without a care in the world, mentions “his husband”. Ouch, no, no, no.

“That character never appears, they are only mentioned once, no big deal!” People say.
What? Excuse me!? I’ve had a book that this happened in and every time I think about it this comes to mind instead of the awesome story.

When there is one “little” thing, or a lot of “little” things, I can’t focus. It might be the greatest work the world has ever known, but I can’t concentrate on the beautiful message because of all the “little” things.

I like to think about it like pointillism. Look at any painting that was done using this technique. Think about how much time and effort was put into it. Some people will ignore the little black smear, but not I. Any story, whether it is dark or light, funny or inspiring, has a happy ending or a sad ending, it is a masterpiece, and I want to enjoy it to it’s fullest... but sometimes, and it really saddens me, I can’t.

This is how we start down the dark trail. The things that are just “tiny” grow bigger. Then, before we know it, they aren’t so little anymore.

This is what we need to rebel against! We can fight back. You don’t have to throw something in just to be “cool”. We can’t change everything in the blink of an eye, but we can take baby steps that lead us on the right path.

Yours &c.

Clare A.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Short and Snappy: How to Write a Gripping Flash Fiction Story

Flash fiction. Even if it isn't your go-to project and you'd much rather crank out 100,000-word behemoths, writing short fiction will strengthen you as a storyteller. Although I'm definitely still a novel-writer first and foremost, I've cultivated a deep appreciation for flash fiction over the past several months and have already learned important things about how to write it! So today, I'm going to share three tips for writing a gripping flash fiction story.

1) Make sure your story has a strong beginning, middle, and end.
This is not to say that a flash fic with a strong beginning and middle but a weaker ending (as in, not much closure) won't be a good story, but it's a brute fact that the stronger every part of your story is, the stronger and more impactful your story will be.

I feel like endings that provide sufficient closure are harder to write when it comes to flash fiction. A fully-rounded story of such short length is a huge challenge. But the more flash fiction I read (shout-out to Havok Publishing!), the more I realize that the stories with the most closure, the ones with a real, satisfactory conclusion, are the most enjoyable. A story with little to no closure often leaves readers feeling cheated, especially if that story had a strong beginning and middle.

Believe me, I fall victim to the struggle. It's hard! But how does one get better? Research story structure and then PRACTICE. Simply, don't stop writing flash fiction. Keep at it, my friends, and pretty soon you'll have a score of short stories with strong endings under your belt.

(Note: The brevity of flash fiction makes a couple hanging strings almost inevitable. But don't mistake "a couple hanging strings" with an unsatisfactory conclusion.)

2) Keep it simple. I'm mainly addressing fantasy and science fiction here, which often involve complex systems. One thing I've discovered is that info-dumps have no place in flash fiction whatsoever - and most flash fic writers realize this, but here's the problem that arises: The story turns out confusing and hard to follow because it acts like you can grasp a complicated set of concepts or a complex world with nothing but a few hints. The truth is, you can't shove a Tolkien-esque fantasy setting into 1k words. Either stick to what's familiar within your chosen genre or drastically simplify your original concepts. And by that I mean actually simplify them, not simplify your explanation of them.

If your fantasy/sci-fi system is too complicated to be simplified, don't try to fit it into the tight flash fic model at all. Save it for a longer story, where you'll be able to give it the fleshing-out it needs. Simple and easy to follow will grip readers more, especially in short fiction.

3) Have your main character change in some way by the end. This is another challenge for flash fiction because you're trying to develop a realistic transformation in a small amount of words, but it's a well-known writing lesson I believe should be emphasized for flash fiction. Characters make or break a story, and excellent character development is a crucial aspect of truly gripping flash fiction. And it doesn't have to be a big, glaring life transformation. It can be subtle. All I ask is that you put your character(s) through something that CHANGES them.


As you can see, although flash fiction is a challenging story format, it provides valuable practice with story structure and character development. It's a great exercise for novel-writers seeking to improve their niche, and it brings immense satisfaction to write and polish a piece in as little as a week. Of course, you'd ideally want to spend more time on it than that, to produce the highest-quality story, but you know what I mean. It's only 1,000 words!

And yet, it's not just any ol' "1,000 words." An epic 1,000-word story can be just as gripping and enthralling as an epic 100,000-word novel. So go forth and give flash fiction a try!

The Lord's Truly,
Comment below whether you've had experience writing flash fiction and what you've learned from it. Also, I know there are plenty more tips for writing in this story format, so feel free to add some of those other tips below!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Thoughts about Magic in YA: Featuring the Rebellious Writing Team

Magic in YA tends to be a touchy business which divides Christian readers from secular readers. Just ask anyone who has gotten into a debate about Harry Potter.

This was an issue we, as an organization, ran into almost from the beginning. We wanted to appeal to both Christian and secular audiences. But since this was such a dividing issue, we had several discussions among the team members explaining each of our beliefs on magic, and some of it's effects of the YA genre.

At this moment, we have no defined stance on magic in YA. However, in this Roundtable discussion, we will outline our own personal viewpoints on magic. From there, we will draw a consensus stance, which will serve as our working stance on magic in YA. 

Gray Marie Cox
Founder, Blog Writer, Pinterest Coordinator, Assistant Goodreads Moderator

To me the real question is; where do we draw the line when it comes to fiction? The great thing about books and writing is that reality can be bent. One of my favorite books when I was younger was Tuesdays at the Castle, but a living castle and stuffed animals that can turn into mythical creatures isn’t realistic, so how does this work?

The answer is fiction, which is “a belief or statement that is false, but that is often held to be true because it is expedient to do so”. The great thing about writing is that you create the rules.

A lot of stories start with the prompt “what if?”.

What if the government becomes corrupt to the point of forcing the people to rebel completely?
What if there’s a zombie apocalypse?
Or what if magic was real?

The most important thing when it comes to magic in fiction is, like most subjects, where we draw the line.

I’m okay with magic themes that are found in Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, or The Wizard of Oz, because in the end they have good morals and aren’t dark or alluding to a greater darkness. They stay within the realm of fiction because that’s what they are--fictional works created for our enjoyment and imaginations.

Faith Thompson
Blog Writer, Facebook Coordinator, Assistant Goodreads Moderator

I was raised on things like Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and many, many other fantastical works. Many of these stories feature magic. As a child, I never questioned the morality of magic; my parents never made it seem strange, and I simply loved the stories that involved it, partly because they were fantasy but also because they featured these things I knew could never be done in the real world.

I didn’t even know that broader debates existed in the world of readers as regards magic— not until I started reading Harry Potter. I knew there were other kids— among them my good friends— who weren’t allowed to read HP but I assumed that it was for the same reason my sisters couldn’t watch LotR. Too scary.

Knowing a bit more about magic and finding my own faith has led me to believe this about magic: It’s okay. If it is within the realm of another fantasy system, it’s okay. I’m more picky about magic here, in the real world—for example, I love Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle, but there is some creepy magic use that makes me a bit uncomfortable within that story. Things like Harry Potter have never bothered me.

Essentially, I want to see good characters fighting for the light and overcoming darkness and evil. And if magic can contribute in some way to making the darkness heavier or the light shine brighter, than I want to see it.

Catherine Hawthorn
Blog Writer, Communications Manager, Blog Post Formatter, Assistant Goodreads Moderator, Book Scout Coordinator

I class “magic” as an act of supernatural force that can be used by either God, angels or demons. It’s one of those ambiguous terms that can confuse many people, depending on the usage of it. However, in most cases, it deals with the occult.

I’m firmly against alchemy, animation, illusions, duplication, shape-shifting, mediums, scrying, fortune-telling, shamans, summoning demons or other spirits, sorcery, necromancy, witchcraft, mages, warlocks or other such arts. Amulets, omens, seances, and Ouija boards are also big no-nos. Such dark magic can be used only by villains if it has to be present but it must be defeated in the end.

If any magic be present in books, I much prefer that the character be born with the power instead of having them learn. Being born with a power implies that a Creator infused the person with the power, rather than having them learn from a demonic source. I believe that magic should have limits. It can’t fix everything like a Divine Being can. There should also be limits on who practices it, and where.

In short, I take the views of magic held by the founders of Christian speculative fiction, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. It’s a matter that needs kid gloves in order to not be singed by Satan.

Melissa Gravitis
Blog Writer, Twitter Coordinator

For me, whether or not magic is okay comes down to a simple question: What’s its source? The term magic itself is vague, but I understand it to be anything that we can’t explain by human or scientific powers, and have to look to spirituality or supernatural powers instead.

If you think of magic that way, imagine someone from another world coming to Earth and being blown away by singing. They can’t sing; none of their people have the ability. They can’t explain what they’re hearing or have any understanding of how to do it. To them, it would be magic. In fiction, if a group of people have been granted unique abilities and powers, in my opinion it’s the same situation, and reflective of how they were created. In which case, I’d love to read about them!

On the other hand, if characters draw power to manipulate and control through dark forces, for me this needs to be shown as dangerous and harmful. Never in any circumstance should playing with the world’s evil be depicted as harmless fun. So long as the book portrays magic from powers of darkness as what it truly is, I think it makes a powerful statement.

To sum it up, I enjoy reading about magic, but its source is key. If it comes from evil, then it should be shown as evil, but if magic is a way to describe a people group’s created abilities, then you’ve a wonderful story on hand!

Clare A.
Blog Writer, Blog Scheduler

I have always been encouraged to believe in magic. I always read fairy-tales and other stories including magic. I do believe that I am like Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables. She believes in the magic of a new day, in beautiful scenery, and when her joy is beyond words her thoughts are for the magic and the beauty of it all. Her imagination knows no bounds.

That being said, she has been known to take it too far. That is where it gets tricky, where is too far?

I never even thought that magic could be bad. I was shocked when I learned that some people refused to read Harry Potter. I totally respect that, but I was just surprised because I had never considered it. I began to find fault in it and decided that I didn’t like it. I stuck through it to the end and, boy, am I glad that I did. The whole story goes far beyond where I ever thought, and it is amazing. There are some things in the Harry Potter books that I do not agree with, but overall it is a good read.

I used to pretty much only read Fantasy novels. The Chronicles of Narnia will always be my favorite though, they have such deep messages! I never found anything wrong with magic, and I always loved the battles of good vs. evil that showed that good always prevails. One day I stumbled across a book that was different. It involved evil spirits and ghosts in a way that I had never read and it sort of said that they were bad, not real, etc…. But it also had a final note that disturbed me.

Lately I have seen movies that have genuinely scared me because of the way magic was being used. I have decided to back away from those because suspense is good in books and movies, but being terrified is not.

So, what I have to say is that fantasy and magic in books and movies should make you happy, make you discover deeper meanings, and love the world for what it is.

Keturah Lamb
Blog Writer, Instagram Coordinator 

When I was a young teen I discovered fantasy through the works of Tolkien and Lewis and believed I was a fan of all fantasy, and told people so. This bothered my mom for quite a time as she was raised believing all fantasy was evil. I knew that Tolkien’s and Lewis’ books weren’t evil, but profound, enriching, and full of depth. But I didn’t know how to explain this to my mom for the longest time. I wanted to read fantasy, but I didn’t want to flippantly justify my reading material just because I liked it.

Finally, I came up with this. Magic in a fantasy world is just another way of saying miracles. It’s not really magic. It’s not of the devil, but a part of a fictional world. According to my theory, this made any sort of magic set in another world good and anything of this world bad. Meaning Harry Potter was out and Lord of The Rings was in.

But then I developed a strong interest in mythology. And that really worried my mom. And to be honest, I was a bit worried myself. I’ve always wanted to make sure what I read adds to my life and draws me closer to God, not Satan. But I didn’t know which mythology did for me.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized there’s a balance to everything. And I’ve learned some more things about myself. I actually don’t like most fantasy. Most fantasy, in my opinion, is a rip off of Tolkien or Lewis, or the magic is just so dark it’s obviously not casting light into our lives. I’ve become so picky with what fantasy I’ll actually read (Jill Williamson and Brandon Sanderson are two of the few I can think of). But I also realized that I love to study and research. And while myths may be centered around gods/ demons in disguise, there is much to be learned from myths.

C. S. Lewis said, “A myth is a lie that conveys a truth.”

And, “Now the story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it really happened: and one must be content to accept it in the same way, remembering that it is God’s myth where the others are men’s myths: i.e., the Pagan stories are God expressing Himself through the minds of poets, using such images as He found there, while Christianity is God expressing Himself through what we call 'real things'.”

And he said so much more on myths because he also loved them and felt they were partially responsible for his salvation.

The thing is this; we are attracted to fantasy because it is spiritual. Spirituality is and should be of our first nature. We should be drawn to the supernatural, for it is what keeps us alive and gives us purpose. But even so, we should be careful. Because not all spiritual or supernatural things are of God’s spirit, but some are of Satan’s spirit.

And how do we differentiate the two? I think it will depend on the person and what he or she is taking from what they read. Are you learning? Or does your mind feel contaminated? Are you loving God and His Word more, or has man’s fantasy become more appealing to you? Do you love what God has created most (Earth) or do you wish with all your heart that you lived in Narnia (man’s myth). Is fantasy leading you down a darker path, toward witchcraft?

When I was younger I said I loved fantasy because it reminded me of Revelation.
But now I know that I dislike most fantasy because it is more akin to the Beast than to God, and I love only that which makes my life and mind more like Yeshua’s.

Julian Daventry
Blog Writer, Goodreads Coordinator

When I learn that there is magic in a book, there are a few things I want to know: is the author a Christian, or at least someone likely to handle the magic in a respectful manner (and not just throw in a bunch of dark magic because that's what cool)? Is the magic part of the structure of the story world? Is it something people are born with that they must learn to use? Or does the magic come from spells or potions? Did a character have to partake in some ritual in order to gain their powers?

Basically, does the magic have roots/origins that are dark or godless? Or are they simply part of the inner workings of the world? Especially with things like magic, there should be a line between good and evil, and doing good should NOT look like doing evil. (Like in The Hobbit movies, when Galadriel fights Sauron and looks like the "all shall love me and despair-this-is-what-happens-if-I-take-the-Ring" Galadriel glimpsed in The Lord of the Rings. I'm not against her showing her power, but I really think they should have made her all white and beautiful, not dark and creepy, in The Hobbit.)

If a book seems perfect, but has a magic system, I'm certainly not going to cross it off instantly. But if there are other things in the book that concern me, plus a magic system, I'm less likely to check it out.

Because, when it gets down to it, I prefer non-magic fantasy, not necessarily out of religious or moral concerns, but out of personal preference.

I feel like magic often gives authors/characters an easy way out. Is the MC trapped at the top of a tower, with the only exit guarded by enemies? Well, you can have the MC zap them all with some elemental fire or whatever, or you can have the MC attempt to fight, or give up and attempt to escape a prison cell later, or maybe he/she climbs down the side of the tower, or maybe the MC simply jumps. The latter options all have a little more excitement, IMO.

Secondly, I have a hard time connecting characters learning to harness elements or otherwise magic. I know I'm supposed to get some "learn to persevere" lesson from those situations, but I just...don't. I end up reading and being a bit bored. I'd much rather read about a character learning to sew, or fight with a sword, or scale a mountain.

Thirdly, I think characters in magical worlds tend to be overpowered at times. I get tired of all the characters wielding elements or being "completely invincible if they didn't have this traumatic past that they have to break through to become the BEST EVER." Give me a normal human struggling with normal human weaknesses any day.

Essentially: I don't mind magic in books, when done correctly. But I'm getting tired of magic and it's stereotypes.

 In Conclusion.....
"Where do we draw the line?" 

It can be safely said that Rebellious Writing approves of such magic that is found in The Chronicles of Narnia or Lord of the Rings. Therefore, we are not totally against magic in YA. However, we are sensitive to the nature, source and effects of such magic - so we cannot approve all forms of magic in YA. 

As we developed our standards for rating books, we were unsure as to whether magic should be included in the list of rating categories. As you can see, many of us have strong opinions as to whether magic is appropriate and how it affects our personal ratings.

Categories such as Language, Abuse and Lust could easily be justified as they are natural concerns. We can see the immediate effects of such bad material in YA. Magic, on the other hand, is not nearly as clear-cut. 

In the end, because the nature of the argument is of spiritual concerns and not strictly natural, we decided to not include that as an actual rating category.  However, because of our strong Christian base, we started putting disclaimers on book reviews citing any magical concerns as we found them. Book Scout reviewers are also free to disclose any such concerns in their reviews.

We hope that this post clarified our stance on magic in YA, and that you enjoyed reading this discussion! Always remember to read and write rebelliously - together, we can beat the darkness! 

Saturday, March 2, 2019

A Defense of Non-Committal Writers

Today, I bring you a post that has been stewing in my mind for over a year: a defense of non-committal writers.

What do I mean by "non-committal writers"?

I mean those writers who jump from one WIP to another. They are the ones that have at least four-ten WIPs going on at once. Every month it seems, they come up with a new story or have little progress on their old ones. They are the epitome of a hobby writer.

There is a solid pressure from other bloggers to adopt tips from other writers, including the following:

Writing must be serious
You must work at it constantly
You must commit to one WIP.

Part of this is because many bloggers use blogging as a platform for a future professional career as a writer. And if a writer ever hopes to be a professional (that is, published) writer, it is good that the craft be taken seriously. After all, it's rather unfair to readers if they're teased about a story and then they find that it's tabled because of one dumb reason after another (a situation that I am very familiar with....).

However, I see a few problems with this sort of approach from an author's perspective. First, it leads to burnout and boredom - a sure death-knell of a creative spirit. Second, it is not forgiving towards other pressing obligations such as work or family. And third, it turns a hobby into an obligation which then turns the writer away from writing in the first place.

I'm not saying to be a lazy writer and put nothing into your craft. I encourage you writers to invest time in learning, and make a mistake or two. Have some structure to it and don't forget about your stories entirely.

What I am saying is, don't make it as structured as training for the Olympics at first. Maybe work up to that point if you are a person that needs structure. But employ moderation and self-knowledge when you are making your writing schedule. The latter is extremely key, especially as you battle the obstacles of writing a novel.

Overcoming Obstacles as a Non-Committal Writer

Keeping with the balance of life and sanity, it is important even for a non-committal writer to make progress on their spite of whatever obstacles they come across.

Understanding the obstacle is very important to overcoming it. This will require some reflection and extra time, but it's well worth it.

There are two common obstacles that non-committal writers will use as justification to switch WIPs or stop writing on their current project. And they are stuck plots and naughty characters. For this section, I'll give a simple explanation and then go into some strategies that have worked for me as a non-committal writer.

The Plot Is "Stuck"

This can happen quite often when writing. Sometimes this is a result of writers block or procrastination/lack of motivation.

There are plenty of times when I'm just simply stuck on where the story is going or what the characters are doing. So I'll just let it stew in my muse for a while. And quite often, an inspiration will come. It could be in a day or a year, but it does come.

Take for example Rose of Culmore. I was ridiculously stuck on Rose O'Neill's character and motivations for months. And then one day I was browsing through my Spotify suggestions and came on this one song and suddenly I was plunged into Rose's head, crystal clear.

Sometimes, you just need one research article or a physical reminder of one of your characters' struggles to get you writing again. You may not find this particular spark the first time you look, or the second, or the forty-fifth. But keep a weather eye out sailor, it will come...and often when you least expect it to.

Many writers will say to throw the unexpected at your characters. Be deliberate when using this - otherwise there will be a lot of editing that needs to be done. Remember, a slapped-together plot with lots of drama is about as bad as a bland plot.

Uncooperative Characters

Sometimes, a character's reaction won't make sense or will seem counter to what their character seemed to be. Often a writer will use tongue-in-cheek humor and say that the characters are not cooperating. To some, this can seem like reality.

As with all creative endeavors, not everything that is in the writer's head will translate correctly onto the page all the time. Quirks of the imagination often "control" many character's reactions and depending on what kind of muse you have.

As a parent of a rather rebellious muse, I find that I have to leave some leeway if I'm ever to get anywhere. Otherwise my imagination will be flooded with "that's not how it goes!" and other such annoying phrases that either drown or beat my poor plot bunnies to death. Having and making note of alternate choices may also help during editing as well.

Also, finding similar characters in books, movies and TV shows really helps to solidify characters. Take note of characterization in the back of your mind as you watch stuff. You can always rewatch later to get the full effect.

Why I'm a Non-Committal Writer

I don't view story writing as a dining experience in which you are inundated with meal choices and you can't decide which to eat. I view it instead as more of a garden with plants that require different needs at different times.

Plot bunnies are like little sprouts - some of which are weeded out and others are chosen to grow more. Then these plants are given water (passion) and fertilizer (research) to help them grow bigger and stronger. Weeds are cleared out as they grow. And then there is a time to let them grow and mature on their own while you work on other projects.

I find story-writing to be an organic process that grows at its own rate. Sure, it needs water and weeding, but does it need it everyday? I find that if I don't force myself to write everyday, the story grows better in quality as well as quantity.

Writing is not my life. I'm not a full on career writer. I have other things to do, about twenty other hobbies to pursue and a livelihood to catch.

Do I wish to be a professional writer one day? Of course. However, there is more than one method to reach publishing success. I'd much rather take twelve-sixteen years to write a truly wonderful masterpiece and still have a fulfilling life like Tolkien did than to write like crazy for a year and some odd months to write a book that will be forgotten again less than five years from now.

Slow and steady wins the race, my friends. Don't let the hares badger you into sacrificing the love of the story.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Starting Things Right: Monthly Wrap-up and Update

It's the shortest month of the year, and boy, did it fly by (at least for me).  I really only remember about two weeks of it.  (Did we really have all four weeks???)

Anyway, February can be kind of sad and gloomy.  I mean, it's short.  It's in the middle of Winter.  And we've finally lost the adrenaline rush of the New Year.  All those big ideas we had?  All those goals we set?  The New Year Resolutions?

Let's be honest, we're not so excited about them anymore, and we've maybe even skipped a few days on whatever goals we might have set.  We tell ourselves we have good reasons - too busy, too tired, have more important things to do.  And maybe that's true.  But admittedly, sometimes we just don't feel like doing anything other than lying in bed and scrolling through Instagram.

Start things right, y'all.

If you decide to do something new, like keeping a journal, when you find yourself skipping out on an entry five days later, you know you're not going to keep it up for very long.

Make sure you start well.  If you begin something casually, and aren't too worried about missing a day, it's going to be very hard to finish strong.  You need to tell yourself you want to keep this up, and then you need to prove to yourself that you can and are willing to do what it takes.  Show yourself that you actually want to accomplish this.

The way you begin something often determines how you'll finish.  When you start a race, if you take off too fast, you'll be winded and get cramps and will eventually have to stop and catch your breath before you can keep going.  But if you start too slow, you might never catch up to the people in front of you before the end and you won't get your best time.  (Yeah, you can still finish either way, but it won't be as good as it could have been.)

These first few weeks of starting something new are very important.  You're going to start forming a habit, no matter what you do.  Do you want to form a habit of writing in your journal every evening?  Or do you want to form a habit of putting something off and only doing it now and then?

It's going to be hard.  You're forming something new, after all.  But you have to keep going, just for another week or two.  Do whatever it takes to get that daily task done or goal met.  Sometimes you'll want to give up or skip a day.  Don't.  It'll get easier, I promise.

~~*~~ POSTS THIS MONTH ~~*~~

By Clare A.: From the Heart: How to Write a Clean Romance While Avoiding Stereotypes

~~*~~ MONTHLY STATS ~~*~~

98 followers, 39,457 all-time views. 
57 likes, 63 followers.
311 followers, 449 tweets, 638 likes.
34 posts, 139 followers 
20 boards, 138 followers.
71 members, 22 topics
45 subscribers


Despite all the nasty weather, bloggers have been busy.  (Maybe it helps that blogging is usually an indoor activity?)

Savannah talked about what she wished she'd known when she first started blogging.  To those who just now starting out, this post is definitely worth a look!
Rebellious Writer member Keturah walked us through her steps on researching - a fading art.

Need help with motivation?  Nicole posted about finding motivation for a non-passion project.

If you'd like some humor, chocolate, and ships...Christine has a great post on Valentines Day dates for fantasy characters.

If you're like me, you've got a stack of unused-but-beautiful-journals.  Why not check out RW member Melissa's post about why we should handwrite?

We all love torturing our characters (though we might never admit it).  For some tips from a pro, check out Faith's post!

~~*~~ FINAL THOUGHTS ~~*~~

Once you train yourself, once you establish those habits, it really does get easier.  Sure, there are days where you genuinely don't have time, or where you find yourself too distracted to actually get something done.  But those don't get you off track like they used to when you first started.

Even runners have bad days, y'all.  I can run three times a week and then just have a bad day.  But I still go out. Maybe I'll just run a mile. Maybe I'll walk more.  But I'll still go out and try to get something done, because I've established the habit of going out.  I'll take it easier, but I'm still out there. And it's a lot easier to keep running when you're constantly going out (even if you're just doing a little distance), then if you run sporadically.

So persevere with your goals, y'all.  Don't give up.  Keep going strong.

Keep Reading Y'all!
~Julian Daventry