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


~~*~~ AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE ~~*~~

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

Saturday, February 16, 2019

always reading




It seems like everyone has a reading goal these days.  Some of us have Goodreads Challenges - maybe reading 20 to 200 books.  Others have TBR stacks to plow through, or a list of books to check out from the library over summer.  There are the speed-reading prodigies, flying through 300 books or more every year.  There are those who struggle with reading, and are (rightly) proud of their 10 books.  And there are others who manage to find time among their busy schedules to read 20 or so throughout the year.

(Now I'm not necessarily talking to the speed-readers, here.  I'm talking to the rest of us ordinary humans, who may not have the time or brain-power to read a novel in one sitting.)

How can we nudge up our read count in order to reach our book goals?


A Little at a Time


I know a lot of us are busy.  We have jobs, families, social obligations, and our own novels to write.  And that's great!  But maybe we can find some wiggle room for extra reading.  We have a tendency to check our phones at the slightest pause in our daily life.  Waking up in the morning, what do we do?  Clocking out on the job, what's the first thing we do on our way to the car?  We check social media.  Conversation dies down, and we're instantly on FaceBook, looking at memes.  What if all the time we spent scrolling through posts we've already seen on Instagram or Twitter was instead spent on reading?

Seriously, you can really get a grip on your book goal just by reading a single page at a time in the few snatched minutes throughout your day!


Always Read

My Dad once told me, "We need to always have a book we're reading."  He has books everywhere - lying around by his bed, in his truck, on his desk at work.  He carries at least one around with him all the time, so whenever he finds time during his busy day, he always has a book nearby to grab and read a few pages of.


Have Books Everywhere (and I mean it)

I know some people might have a harder time reading multiple books at the same time, and I understand.  It can be confusing to keep plots and characters straight when you're reading a bunch at a time.  But here's a trick: if you're going to read more than one at a time, read books in different genres.  Have a fantasy novel by your bed to read a few pages of before you go to sleep.  Keep that self-help book in your purse or satchel to read over lunch.  Have the e-book arc on your phone to read when you find you have a few spare moments in the car (or on the bathroom, lol).  And read a spiritual book in the morning, along with your Bible reading.  Always have a book nearby.


Any Reading Counts

Alpha/Beta read a book for a friend?  Count it towards your goal.  Listening to an audiobook in the car on the way to work?  Count it!  Reading to your siblings?  Count it towards your goal.  I read Misty of Chincoteague to my little sisters in 2018, and of course I counted it!  (I don't count every single little book I read to them, but I do now and then, just to call things even.)


Determination

You need to want to read at any chance you get.  You need to be able to put your phone down and pick up a book.  You need to exit out of the Studio C tab and pull up the e-book.  You need to turn the movie off and snuggle under the covers with a flashlight.  It can be hard work.  Sometimes we just don't want to read.  But it never hurts to learn some self-control.  Remind yourself of your goal.  Think about how fun it will be to boast about the amount of books you read, and how embarrassing it would be to admit you didn't make your goal - and all because you watched YouTube videos instead.


Count the Cost

Perhaps you've set a high reading goal, but you don't have that much money to spend on reading material.  Do I really need to tell you to go to the library and look for good books to check out?  Be sure to follow Rebellious Writing (and other like-minded bloggers) for reviews on books, if you're hesitant to try new ones.  Librivox.org has lots of free public domain audiobooks that you can listen to.  The iBooks app on my phone has lots of free (mostly public domain) books to download.  If you stalk authors and writers on the blogosphere, you might be able to get some a free PDF of a book in exchange for an honest review.  And you can always re-read the books you have.  Just because the book is over 100 years old, or because you already read it, does not mean it won't count towards your goal!

Keep reading, y'all!
~Julian Daventry

Saturday, February 9, 2019

What if the World is Dirty? (How to Rebelliously Write about Dark Subjects)



"We only accept clean books."

"There was cussing and negative behavior in this book!"

"I hated the level of violence in that book. I definitely didn't need to read all of that."

We've all heard these complaints. Honestly, most of us can probably attest to having made these complaints or stating these things ourselves--myself included. As rebellious readers and writers, we all want clean books and less content.

But as I've delved deeper into the world of young adult literature, as I've discovered my writing identity and goals, I've found something:

It is not always possible to write 100% clean books.

How is this the case? Is it not always possible to combat the darkness? Well, yes and no. The thing is, sometimes, more often than I think we'd care to admit, we can't just write happy sunshine stories and expect to get across what we want to get across. If you want to write a Holocaust novel, it's not going to be clean. There's no way to make it so, not without sacrificing the weight of what truly happened in Hitler's concentration camps. Sure, you can block out language; you can choose not to describe things in detail. But in the end, you cannot write a completely clean and bright Holocaust story. You just cannot do it.

And this leads to a point that I think is very important: In order to combat darkness the best, you must let it be there in true darkness, but you must refute it with a stronger light.

Let's look at one of my favorite series as an example: Tricia Mingerink's Blades of Acktar. This is a story about a fantasy kingdom where the imposter king keeps his lords and provinces in check through a system of assassins. These assassins are his bodyguards, his police force, and his generals; they kill anyone he deems unnecessary, are not above terrifying women, and wear each of their kills as a scar on their shoulder. If they fail enough times, they will be brutally tortured until they die.

Mingerink manages to keep all of this in a very bleak series, but still maintains a massive light. How? How does she do that? And the answer is: By drawing contrasts.

In the midst of all the other assassins, there is one who sees things differently. He must learn to put his darkness behind him and embrace the light, and he must fight for the good instead of the bad. He is a contrast.

This boy, Leith, has spent his entire life in the darkness of a world where death and punishment are simply the way of life. But outside the king's castle, he finds a haven among people who actually care. The king and his assassins stand in stark contrast to the good people beyond, who are healers and pastors and people who love God and each other.

In this series, there is a contrast. The darkness is strong, but the light is stronger still.

And THAT is how you write rebelliously about something dark.

Depict the darkness as it is--evil, despicable, heart-breaking. But do not leave it at that. Don't glorify the darkness; don't let it have the last word.

Give the forces of good the victory.

And let there be light in the darkness.



Saturday, February 2, 2019

From the Heart: How to Write a Clean Romance While Avoiding Stereotypes




I tell everyone that I don’t like romances. When someone asks what my favorite genre is I will usually say mystery, classics, historical fiction, etc., anything other than romance. When characters kiss in movies I am the person who closes my eyes, sticks my tongue out, or covers my face. I have even been known to groan.

But anyone who really knows me will tell you otherwise. I even believed this lie until one day I was telling my mom my five favorite movies; she pointed out to me that four out of five of them were romances.

Since then I have come to the realization that I am actually a huge fan of romances, (and have even written one myself,) but I am very picky. Today I am going to be sharing with you three tips on how to write sweet, wholesome romances, and how to avoid writing stereotypical ones.

(Note: I have seen exceptions to all of these that are truly wonderful, I have just noticed that most books or movies are more enjoyable without them.)

1. Remove the “Love at first sight” trope.

This one is my biggest pet-peeve. Remember when I mentioned groaning earlier? This is usually the cause. As I said, I have seen exceptions that work really well, but in general: just no. Love is a really powerful word. Love is a really powerful action. I can definitely understand that people are attracted to “good looks”, but that is what I would call infatuation, not genuine love. When you genuinely love someone it is for their personality, because of who they are. It doesn’t matter what they are wearing, or look like, because spending time with them, and being near them is a joy to you.

Just do whatever you can to avoid this.

2. Become the characters.

In a really good book you become the characters, so the writer must do the same thing. If you are uncomfortable, your readers are going to be uncomfortable, and that is not good, that is not what you want.

3. Give them faults.

This is the one that I really struggle with, I want all of my characters to be perfect! But what is the point of a story without the characters becoming better? If no one improves then the story doesn’t go anywhere. Just remember to keep it clean and show that they are faults, that no one is perfect.


Remember to always write rebelliously!

Yours &c.

Clare A.

P.S. We're trying out a new blog banner theme as our old one has been discontinued on Canva. How do you readers like it? Tell us in the comments!