Tuesday, August 11, 2020

A Birthday Party in the Sunset

Greetings, fellow rebels!

August 9 marked the 3rd anniversary of Rebellious Writing's existence. It is indeed a remarkable achievement to have lasted this long.

It all started with this original post by Gray Marie Cox back in 2017.....
   Have you ever read a book that was good?

       No, I mean really, really, REALLY good! And while you're reading it, you're think something along the lines of this: This book is SO good, I'm going to recommend it to EVERYONE!
     And then you turn the page and the writer starts dropping f-bombs. And you're just sitting there like,
     Well, thank you, dear writer, now I won't recommend this book to half of the people I was thinking of!
        We all have that one book. *Cough, cough* The Fault in Our Stars...

         And look, I'm not going to tell any of you what's too much and too far in, err, swear words usage. Because we all have different views and lines to cross, but here's a clue, if it would embarrass you if your dad read it aloud to your whole family, maybe you should re-think...

         Okay, I know several of y'all right now are thinking, Gray! I write YA, it's not meant for my five-year-old sister!!!  Okay, fine. If you don't want your parents or grandma to read it, because of some *cough* scenes, and some *cough, cough* words..

          Dear writers, (because this rant is directed towards you lovely folks!)

It does not make your book look cool if you drop the f-bomb or any other bombs for that matter! If your character flips off another character in your book, I'm not going to track you down to tell you how cool you are!

          And look, I'm glad you know how re-production works, I really am. But PLEASE, could you not, oh, I don't know, PUT A THOUSAND OVERLY GRAPHIC SEX SCENES IN YOUR BOOKS. Darlings, come here, come closer, let me tell you something very important... NO ONE WANTS TO READ YOUR PORN-TURNED-INTO-WORDS GARBAGE! *Gasps* I know, it's surprising!

          Seriously. Stop it. Get some help.

            "Finally I moved out! Now, I am no longer under their rules. I shall fill my books with profanities and swearing, and Momma can go bleep, bleep, bleep, herself!"?

           And then there's the glorifying things like alcohol and drugs, which, if you do this, I'm sorry, you're just stupid. THIS STUFF KILLS PEOPLE, IT SHATTERS PEOPLE'S LIVES, AND HERE YOU ARE GLORIFYING IT LIKE A COMPLETE IDIOT. Like, do you not realize how harmful this stuff is? Why are you calling it good or fun? Yeah, drugs look fun sometimes, but then when you open your eyes, you see it all. People passed out on sidewalks. People selling their bodies for crack. People with tracks on their arms-slaves to drugs. Children being taken away by CPS because their parents loved a substance more than them. Don't you understand? This is reality. This is the harshest reality, and here you are, calling it good, like the blind child you are.

           So asides from the rant, let's address the true issue, us. I've noticed something, more and more teen writers are joining the dark side and writing sex scenes, swearing, and glorifying things like alcohol and drug abuse. And I just don't understand it at first, but then when I think about it, it hits me...

         They are trying to be relevant, to be cool, to be the hot stuff on the block. But close your eyes, and imagine a world where books are good and wholesome again. Where if books have to have swearing it is used correctly and the sex scenes are only subtle hints that honor the holiness of marriage, not the stupidness of adolescence. Where drugs and alcohol are called out for what they are, a demon in the form of glory. But most importantly, where the innocence and love of friendships flourish in the books.

         Doesn't that sound awesome? Guess what, we can make that dream a reality. We are the next generation. We are the next storytellers. We are the next bestselling authors. We don't have to follow their rules. Let's break them, and make new ones-better ones. Let's break the mold and the stereotype of teens being irresponsible people who can't do anything to change the world, because we can. And we will, whether it's for bad or good. I am tired of being silent. I am tired of letting stuff like this go. I am tired of being passive. It's time to make a change, but I can't do this alone, this is a call to arms.

      What if we started saying "no"?

      No, I will not push your agenda.
      No, I will not be cool by writing cuss words.
      No, I will not write your sex scenes.
      No, I will not write in a way that makes it normal and socially acceptable for teens to hate their family. 

No, I. Will. Not. 

       Dear world, dear writers, dear everyone,

I am a teenager. And I am doing what teens do best, I am rebelling.

Who's with me?

9 other young women answered that question immediately and within the first couple of months, a website and social media pages sprang up. Hundreds of followers soon also answered the call and even though the faces have changed, we're still starting conversations with other writers and readers!

To celebrate this accomplishment, the RW team has decided to highlight several favorite posts from the three years we've been blogging :)

So, without further ado, let us begin the party!

The Best of Rebellious Writing

Most Popular Post

This post by our founder, Grace Marie Cox, really struck home to a lot of our readers in 2017. One of the things that sparked this movement was indeed our disgust for the language-ridden YA books, that no doubt was a reflection on the general crassness of society. At over 1.9k views, it very well deserves the top spot. 

Best Book Review

Lila Kims reviewed this popular YA book all the way back in 2017 and it's such a classic example of a professional book review. Both the book and the review are such a joy to read, you must check it out :) 

Greatest Guest Post

This post from 2018 highlights several popular tropes on how abuse could be romanticized, especially in supposed "romantic relationships". Amy Nikita uses popular examples like Gossip Girl, Twilight and Once Upon a Time to show what not to do. 

Tips and Tricks

This post from 2019 allowed the team to nerd out a little about one of our favorite Star Wars characters and really highlight how side characters could really have their place in the story's narrative. 

Our Best Team Collaboration Post

We as a team loved to have team discussion behind the scenes and it was one such conversation that lead to this post from 2019 right here. It was a long-overdue one too - we had gotten questions about reviewing magic in YA since the very beginning of the movement. 

Best Encouragement Post

This wonderful post by Melissa Gravitis in 2019 is worth more than one re-read, especially when it looks so dark that it's hard to continue. Every writer needs encouragement and this is a perfect dose of it that is not bound by time. 

The Random Favorite

This early 2019 post (is it really bad that many of our favorites are from 2019??) by Catherine Hawthorn explores why fairy tales have such an important role in society. Stuffed full of quotes from lots of wise people with a dash of wit, the post also explores why Young Adult readers are so fascinated with fairy tale retellings.  

And there ends the list! 

Normally, we would conclude with a note of encouragement and a toast to future writing.

But now, as much as we hate to say this, we have some rather sad news.

Some of you may have noticed that we have not been answering emails for several months. Some may also have noticed that our social media pages have gone somewhat quiet. And still others may have noticed that we haven't posted on this blog since March and even before, posting was sporadic.

The fact is....the RW crew has moved on.

Gray Marie Cox (or we should say, Grace) has moved onto new blogging adventures and is about to head off to college. You can follow her new blog here.

Catherine Hawthorn is on track to publishing her debut novel The White Rose of Duventoliel in Spring 2021. You can follow updates at her blog and at her new Instagram account (@rebellinglass71).

Faith Thompson has been writing a new WIP, Holding Up the Sky and has opened up an art Instagram (@rachel_faith_art).

Lila Kims is working on her own debut, Dusted Red. Updates can be found on her blog.

Julian Daventry, as Helena George, is publishing her debut with Sarah Rodecker, called Secrets, Ships and Survivors, available August 25.

Keturah Lamb has recently returned from her extended stay in Germany and has been helping her father's political campaign.

Clare A. has been heavily working on the complicated part of life called "education" . In any spare minute she has she rants about and reviews movies.

Melissa Gravitis, last we heard, is writing short fiction and still in university.

And one of our original founders, Audrey Caylin, has resurfaced under a new pen name, K. M. Small. You can follow her blog here.

As you can see, the whole team has had many exciting things happening these past several months, and is moving in several different directions at once. So much so that we simply just cannot give this movement the attention that it deserves.

Therefore, we have decided to officially retire the Rebellious Writing blog, the YouTube channel, the Facebook page, the Pinterest page and the Twitter page. Instagram and Goodreads will still be updated occasionally by our admins. Emails will not be answered. As stated, they have not been checked regularly since our email coordinator stepped down several months ago, and we send a thousand apologies to those writers who have been trying to reach us and received no answer.

These three years have been a blast for all of us. And it was really hard for us to make this decision.

But just because we're all singing "Taps" to this blog and most of our social media doesn't mean that we surrender.

Because there is still a war to fight. A war for clean literature for us, and the generations to come.

So how can you resist against language-ridden, abuse-filled and lustful literature?

First - write book reviews! Many of our readers rely on reviews in order to spy red flags, especially in the lust department. Our admins still use our RW star rating system to rate the book in light of those three specific categories we highlight, and we encourage you all to adopt this system as well.
Here is our star system, broken down:

Overall Content Rating
1 star - lots of language (especially the worst words), heavy amounts of abuse or showing abuse of any kinds as good, or lots of sex or lustful relations

2 star - frequent amounts of language, abuse or lust

3 star - moderate amounts of language, abuse or lust

4 star - a little language, a few situations of abuse or a lustful scene or two. 

5 star - no language, no abuse, no lust present in the work.

What do we mean by no language?

We mean that the work has no swear words (spelled out or in symbol talk). Vulgar words such as crap, suck, screw, etc., and euphemisms are not considered swear words, it is up to the reviewer discretion to include them. Phrases that allude to swearing (e.g. he cursed) are acceptable.

What do we mean by no abuse?

If abuse (alcohol, drug, child, animal or domestic) is in the book at all, it is shown in a negative light (i.e. done by the villian) and has clear consequences for the perpetrator or negative consequences for the victim.

What do we mean by no lust?

The books has no explicit sexual scenes (including making out), or any impurity beyond mild kissing between a male and a female. Carnal desire (i.e. desiring someone else's spouse, only desiring the body, etc.) should be treated the same as abuse (negative light and clear consequences).

Second - support clean authors! Follow them on social media and interact with them. Buy their books. Review their books. Recommend their books. Build up their communities so that they're not only supported emotionally, but also financially - it's really tough being an indie author these days!

Third - Talk about clean reading! The only way that issues get resolved is through exposure and debate. Therefore, start the conversation! Post about what books you like or avoid and why.

Fourth - write clean fiction yourself! Whether it's a flash fiction for Havok, or a full 120k fantasy novel, the world could use more uplifting clean fiction.

With these final words, we shall ride to the sunset. This is not goodbye, but as the French say, au revoir. In the meantime, keep fighting the fight - we shall have victory yet!

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Springing Through Time in Leap Year: Thoughts on Time Travel from the RW staff

Greetings, Rebels!

Every four years a special occasion occurs: we get an extra day. February 29th is just like any other winter day, but some of us get really excited with the chance to do something that can't happen every year.

The staff here at RW started throwing some ideas out for ways to celebrate and we decided to share with all of you our thoughts on Time Travel in fiction!

Time travel is something that fascinates me, especially as a living history interpreter (which to me, is about as close to time travel as we’re going to get). But as for time travel in fiction, I’ve only had limited experience with it. The best example I can put forth is the NBC show Timeless, and even that is a bit sketchy.
There definitely has to be rules about time travel. There is a huge push to keep from messing with the time continuum, as everything is affected by something that happened in the past. You almost have to be in your own bubble, just observing, and what fun is that??
To be honest, I’m not wild about time travel as a plot device because of how unrealistic it can turn. As Avengers: Endgame has proven, time travel also can’t fix a bad plot.
As for stereotypes, there is always the time machine. Because we can’t seem to go back in time without a time machine, which seems silly if you really think about it. I mean, don’t you think that those things would be….noticable? Written about? I know some failed prototypes were developed, but still. Would really like to see some other vehicle for traveling back in time - covered wagon with an energizer beam-like thing? THAT would be cool.

Clare A.:
I have to admit, I get really excited anytime I know that there is a book or movie that has to do with time travel. But, sometimes when I am disappointed! When I come across a story that is really well executed using time travel I get so happy!
Time travel is so often used to fix mistakes that the characters have made. We all relate to that, we think that if we could just go back to change something… Alas, it isn’t like that in the world. And it shows in time travel because most times they just make an even worse mess than before.
But for me, what makes a time travel story good? Though this is a common one and sometimes it is done poorly I like it when they go back to save someone’s life. Yes, I loved Endgame. I never want the characters to die, and while there are times when they shouldn’t come back to life (usually if you decide to kill off a character, keep it that way! Actually, our very own Julian had an awesome post about it HERE that I absolutely agree with) but every once in a rare while they feel they need to save a character. As I said, this can be well done, and this can be poorly done. For example, one of the Harry Potter books is my favorite example because it uses this so well, while another book in the series tries it again and it feels weird to me. BUT, it also shows the dangers involved with changing the past, how it changes the present.
Overall, if you tell me that a story has time travel in it, I am bound to check it out! (Pst, I'll almost always love it.)

It depends on the context, for me. Time travel in general? Can’t stand it. However, when the entire plot is driven by time travel? ESPECIALLY when you throw a multi-verse or the time-space continuum into the mix, it becomes so nonsensical to actual logic that I can let it slide. It’s something like a magic system—no, maybe it doesn’t make ANY sense. But if the story pulls it off, great! I will accept it.
Doctor Who is an example of a show that does this really well. After all, the whole show is about an alien with a time box. His actions don’t affect the future—until the moments they do. You might roll your eyes at the fact that something is a “fixed point in time”, and at least once, you might even cry (heaven knows I did). It might not be a logic that makes any sense, but it has a logic of its own, so it works.
My opinion on time travel comes down to this: by necessity, the plot of a story that includes time travel must be zany. It can’t be too serious, too full of itself. A story that’s aware it’s absolute nonsense, that incorporates that nonsense with a wink at the audience, is the way to do time travel right. Make it zany. Make it comedic. Make it absolutely nonsensical. And have fun with it. Too many stories try to use time travel as an entirely serious plot device, and it doesn’t work. The more comedic, the better.

I always have wished that the rules for time travel were more distinct in media, they honestly make no sense. No matter what you do in the past, you’re still messing up the future because you’re still impacting people and things around you. The butterfly effect would be an interesting thing to think about as well (and possibly write about?? Plot bunnies maybe???).
I think out of all the books I’ve read that Harry Potter does a pretty good job at time traveling because we saw how the small actions affected everything.
My thoughts kind of echo Julian’s, it would be cool if there was a way to witness the past but as a spectator, not a participator. That would make a little more sense technologically speaking, while still allowing the characters to learn and experience the past.
Also, if they time traveled they could be doing it to better understand the other characters, like a daughter angry at her mom time travels and watches her mom’s traumatic past experiences with her home life and then realizes that her mom has been simply trying to protect her from that, etc.

I personally find the whole time travel concept rather unlikely to ever actually be a thing in real life. And so, as something that will probably always be “just” a thing for fiction (and as someone who doesn’t read/watch a lot of time travel stories) I don’t really have an opinion.
I don’t like when it’s used to “fix” sloppy writing, or used as an “escape” when characters are backed into such an impossible situation that using time travel seems the easiest option.
I do like when time travel is made funny (think like The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd, or maybe even Doctor Who).
But let’s break the stereotypes, shall we? Maybe have a character who time travels and simply goes to enjoy things and doesn’t ever “mess” things up? Maybe if you go back in time (or to the past) people can’t see you and things you do can’t affect the past/future because you aren’t fully “in” that time. The “can’t mess up the future” thing is kinda old.

In conclusion, humorous time travel and completely in fiction seems to be the general consensus. While there are so many possibilities (which we would love for all of you readers to explore!), don't use it as an excuse for bad writing.

These are just our opinions, and we would love to hear all of your thoughts on time travel. We hope that you enjoyed your extra day! Keep writing rebelliously!

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Book Review: Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin

It all started with a trip to the library. A very long overdue trip to the library. Like, it's been over a year since I went in there, overdue. Hence, a perusal of all the adult fiction shelves was in order.

It was in the back that I found this particular novel, Wonderland Creek. I had, of course, heard about it through various bloggy friends - in particular Naomi from the blog of the same name. It had been on my TBR for quite some time.

So, I pick it up to read, carefully placing it in the stack that was growing in my arms.

And let's just say, to make the understatement of the year, that I didn't regret it one bit.


This book was really super good. I couldn't even really give a coherent introduction on my GR review. The prose was excellent - it engaged all the senses and it had an old-fashioned eloquence that could be described as "pert wittiness" rather than the snark that seems to be present in most modern novels. The protagonist's arc was rather drastic but super well done. The world-building of 1930s Kentucky was also quite stunning.

But what really impressed me about this novel was it's tastefulness of some really "adult" issues.

The first was post-partum depression. It's a phenomenon that is growing in recognition as mental health is explored more. Using a 1930s scope on it, Austin does a good job of not villifying the character, June Ann. There were times that June Ann had to leave her baby for a time in order to gain control over herself. Many people would see that as irresponsible, but Alice recognizes that it is something beyond that and fights to have other people visit June Ann and help her.

The second was the family feud. It seems a little stereotypical to have such a thing in a hillbilly atmosphere, but it does highlight how something as silly as money can really destroy communities and how important it is to build that community up.

The third was how Alice and Ike's relationship was handled. Many really conservative readers will be a little off-put by how kissy it seems to be, and to be frank, there were some points where I did feel uncomfortable. But, I feel that was the point. I've read a lot about the merits of hands-off courtship, and how copious amounts of physical affection can really skew judgement of a person...and I think this book shows that well. It's really difficult to write a romance without the physical desires and affection (which is why we've made the "mild kissing" exception to our rule), but there is a time and place to show some of the negative connotations of those lustful moments.

Now, to give a more review-like summary.....

What I liked:

- Alice. I wanted to shake her in the beginning because she was such a huge brat, but her character arc was super fantastic. Especially how she learned to wean herself off of technology (BE STILL, MY OLD-FASHIONED HEART).
- MISS LILLIE. She's one of my favorite characters.
- The tasteful manner in which post-partum depression, family feuds, and other complex adult issues were handled, as mentioned above.
- How Ike and Alice's relationship was handled, as mentioned above.
- how the book shows a little known chapter in Depression history (packhorse librarians). While I have issues with the New Deal and other welfare programs, this particular program is pretty unknown and deserves attention. I hadn't even heard of it, and I was a history major!

What I didn't like:

- I felt Mack kinda got the short end when it came to character development, especially in the romance department. I'll try not to be spoilery, but I felt like I was teased a lot when it comes to him. As much as I like slow-burn, this was a little too slow for me.
- Maggie....something about her arc's resolution seemed a little weak. I felt it was too quick too.
- The religious aspect was kinda glossed over, and what religious aspects were there felt....shallow almost. Disorganized too.

RW ratings:

Language: 5 stars.
Abuse: 4 stars. Family troubles, some "unmotherly" behaviors, and a whole lot of deceit going on.
Lust: 4 1/2 stars. A little kissy for my liking, but it was necessary I assure you. I don't normally say that, but that is a big lesson in this book and I absolutely respect the author for putting it in and doing it so tastefully.

In short, I would highly recommend Wonderland Creek to all readers of clean literature as a fun historical fiction novel that probes deep into the intellect and has a broad lesson of being charitable towards our neighbor.

It's been too long since we've heard from our book scouts! What good books have you been digging into lately? Tell me in the comments below! 

Saturday, January 18, 2020

2019 Wrap-Up and RW Staff's Favorite Books

Greetings, Rebels!

Here it is, and new year and decade all in one in the year 2020. All of us are excited for the new adventures and challenges that we will come across. 2019 had quite a lot happening for all of us which is why we had a lack of posts. We are determined to strive past this, to rebel, and get more content for all of you readers.

Starting off we want to look back on all that we did in 2019.

We wrote 31 posts in 2019, here are the top 5 most viewed:

It's So Classic Blog Party: KICKOFF

To celebrate two years of Rebellious Writing we hosted the It's So Classic Blog Party which was a huge success! Click here to see all of the entries. We loved reading every one's posts about what classics mean to them.

Historical Fiction: 4 Things Writers Get Wrong

Our very own Catherine points out several assumptions that writers make when it comes to Historical Fiction, and how they are not accurate. Having studied this, she tells us how things really were.

How To Write A Stress-Free Serial For Your Blog

Keturah gives us her secrets for how to plan blog posts in a serial style. It can be so easy and helpful for later when you don't have a lot of time on your hands. You can still blog while do everything else you love!

Thoughts about Magic in YA: Featuring the Rebellious Writing Team

This was a post where all of the RW team contributed. We gave our individual thoughts on how well we deal with magic in books. It's so neat that we all have similarities and differences!

It's Totally Okay

Julian lets us know that we don't have to read books that are popular or be ashamed if we don't read them. We don't have to do a bunch of things that we sometimes feel pressured into doing. Reading is supposed to be fun!

Social Media Stats 

107 followers, 56,915 all-time views. 
63 likes, 72 followers.
303 followers, 416 tweets, 570 likes.
48 posts, 137 followers.
22 boards, 146 followers
74 members, 23 topics
48 subscribers, 2 videos

We thought it would be fun to share the RW staff's favorite books that we read in 2019 and would totally recommend:

Mossflower by Brian Jacques
This was my first foray into the popular Redwall series. I really liked the imagery, even if it was a standard fantasy plot. The talking animals were my favorite of all. The language and prose were also really beautiful.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
This was my first of Elizabeth Gaskell and I hope to read many more of hers! Her writing style is said to be a mix between Jane Austen and Charles Dickens (two of my favorites) and that is accurate! The story pulled me in and I couldn’t put it down!

Muscle and a Shovel by Michael J. Shank
An inspiring true story that honestly made me cry because I related so much. The authenticity and truth in this swept me off my feet, not to mention I got really invested in the main character’s (the author’s) story of searching for the truth. Very inspiring!

Saving Beauty by Elizabeth D. Marie
I got the ebook and then let it sit...and then I finally picked it up and basically read it in one sitting because it was THAT GOOD. This Beauty and the Beast retelling might be a little dark and gritty, but still clean and absolutely adorable.

I mostly listened to a lot of audio books this year, and so very many good ones. I focuses on a few series and authors: How to Train Your Dragon, The Alloy of Law, Ender's Games books, and Jane Austen. Also, many non-fiction.
Favorites? I'm going to say the Alloy books (I loved how real the pain felt in those books), Sense and Sensibility (this book just satisfied my soul), the Ender sequels (each one dug deeper into the intricacies of human nature), and two non-fictions called The First Conspiracy by Brad Meltzer and The Law by Frédéric Bastiat. All of these reads impacted my year and I felt I'd grown because of them

Thanks to all of you for sticking with us through this! We hope that your 2020 is filled with reading and writing wonderful books!