Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Silence on the Blog

Hello, followers (and any visitors that might be…visiting),

The blog has been very quiet lately, I know. I also have not forgotten my commitment to writing a series of posts on strong female characters. I still want to do this and am working on my list of characters to examine, however…it came at an ill time for me.

Shortly after I wrote the first post announcing I was going to be doing these character studies, I found out I'm going to be moving after the first of the year. This is the first time I've moved since I was 5 years old, and it's rather overwhelming to me. Combine that with finishing up my last couple months at work and some other personal things going on in my life right now, I simply haven't had time for blogging.

I'd much rather take a long time and complete the kind of research and studying I want to do for a post rather than throw something together haphazardly. That's why I haven't continued my posts on the strong characters, and why I won't until probably after the first of the year.

So as not to lose touch, I will still post on the site, only it will be random, whether it's an update on my progress with my current WIP (you all have been so supportive since I announced I started writing the first draft of the second Drasia book - THANK YOU!) or a book recommendation or whatever it may be. Hopefully after the holidays and after we've settled into our new place I'll be more consistent with blogging!

Good luck to all of you currently in the middle of NaNoWriMo and enjoy your holidays!

~*~ Sarah

Monday, October 20, 2014

Drasia Book One: First Draft Begun

Remember Drasia? It was all the rage a year ago.

So last year I finished the first draft of my WIP, The Descendants of the Drasia: The Prequel (working title). The next 2-3 months I did my best to focus on revisions, and failed. Miserably. Or maybe not so much as failed as became overwhelmed. I realized I had many story lines and characters that either didn't contribute much to the story or inhibited it, and when you choose to cut out more than one major character, things become a wee bit tricky.

So what did I do? I began work on the next book in the series. Book One. And no, I can't come up with a working title for it. It's driving me insane.

I began writing the first draft at the beginning of the year…and then scratched it ALL. Every word was burdensome, every page made me want to gag, and basically I was disgusted with how the story was developing. It was one of the worst beginnings to a story I've ever written, in my opinion. I couldn't see a future for the story and so left it alone for a very long time, instead focusing on some other projects. (You could almost say I abandoned it, but deep down I knew I wouldn't be able to forget about the characters.)

Then this summer on the 18-hr drive to Indiana, I pulled out my laptop and began writing. I got the first chapter done, and though I wasn't entirely pleased, it was leaps and bounds beyond the first beginning. I started chapter two, and today I finished it. I'm pleased with how it turned out. I at least feel a lot more grounded with the story, and I can see a pretty clear direction of where to take things.

So what's next?

1. Chapter Three.

2. Sticking with it.

3. Creating a working title.

4. Sticking with it.

5. Creating a detailed map of the world (for my own personal reference, I am NO artist).

6. Second draft/revising the prequel.

7. Did I mention sticking with it?

Where are you with your current WIP? 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Choose the Next Female Characters to Study!

Hello all! Just whipping up a quick note to apologize for not following up on the "strong female characters" post from a month ago. I haven't forgotten about the character studies I promised, but I've had a lot of other things occupying my mind lately that I've had to focus on.

However, while I'm trying to get my life sorted together again, I figured I'd open up the discussion on female characters for participation! Like I said at the end of the last blog post, I want to take some female characters and examine whether or not they should really be seen as "strong."  Remember, we're trying to reach for the core of what makes a character good, not just what is perceived as the stereotypical "strong female character."

If you have a certain female character you love (or hate!), I want you to tell me and I will do a "character examination." These characters can be from books or television (though I can't promise if I'm not familiar with the character already to read a trilogy or watch an entire series at this time, but I'll do my best :~) ).

You can comment below, go my pinterest board and comment on the correlating pin for this post, or go to the Contact Me page and use one of the other ways to message me. Can't wait to hear from you! 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

So You Want to Write a "Strong" Female Character?

It's all over social media. It's in every Q&A, every blog, TV show, comics. MORE STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS! No more damsels in distress, but women who can hold their own and don't need someone to save them.

Even characters we already know are changing identity in the fiction universe. I recently wrote a post about the new Thor in comic books now becoming a woman (here). The story is that the Thor we know now will lose the ability to wield the hammer and a woman will pick it up and become the new Thor.

Why introduce more female characters? Variety, perhaps. It's true that for years males have dominated the "hero-type" arc. If someone wants to change things up, use a different perspective to make their point known, I'm down with that.

What I cannot stand is introducing a female character because she is a she.

The hooded figure somehow managed to trip him, and his back slammed into the ground. The point of the sword stilled at the edge of his adam's apple. 

"Fine, you got me. Unveil yourself, coward, so that I may see my foe before I die."

The figure gently pulled back the hood, and a tangled mess of black curls swept down her waist.

"You're a woman?" he snarled. 


No, not really.

Obviously, this example is cliche and predictable, but that's the point. In our attempt to push more females into the universe of story-telling, they've become predictable and, quite frankly, lame (*this is not in every case, just to make clear!*). So many characters I've seen lately have the same story : She wanted to prove she was just as capable of handling tough situations as men, so she joined the fire department. Her family is dead and so she learned to fight as her way of getting revenge.

Other "marks" that automatically label a female character "strong" that I've seen a few times recently are a character marrying but not taking her husband's last name, skimpy outfits (which has been around for years), or a character is a lesbian — all three of these hardly ever needed to enhance the story, but thrown on to keep the undertones sexualized, the female "female," or identify with the world of relationships today.

(Sara Lance from Arrow. The good: She loves her family and wants to protect them and has a special heart for protecting other girls who can't protect themselves. The cliche: Angry, bisexual, and not-gonna-protect-much-with-that-suit)

What do I think is lost in the majority of strong female characters? There is no subtlety left. It's all or nothing.  "GIRL OVERBOARD!" is what I imagine popping up on the screen when I see another "kick-butt" female. It's damaging to our perspective.

It's no wonder people cringe when they see a main character is a woman. So many interesting female characters are nothing more than balance and are given nothing to do besides look tough and say no to the man who wants to take them home. Go ahead, drink them under the table, girl. What are you left with at the end of the day? …Well, we never really get to see that, do we?

I'm all for a woman character who is able to defend herself, whether that's through speech or in a physical aspect. If a woman wants to be a police officer, fire fighter, etc., then she should go for it and be commended. But I don't think she should be commended just because she is a woman. It all comes down to character.

So how can we change this tainted view of female leads? What does — or should — it take to make a female character likable? Here's a thought: Who says that a "strong" character has to mean she can take care of herself and beat the boys? It's true that females want another female to identify with, but we should love and admire a character because of their actions and their moral decisions, not just because the character is a woman.

As writers we should strive to create well-developed, complex, and strong characters, both male and female. Over the next few posts on this subject (they might be interspersed among others) I'm going to examine a few "strong" female characters whose cores are weak and also look at female characters whom I feel have earned the right to be characterized as "strong."

Do you believe the majority of "strong" female characters are misguided? 
Let me know in the comments! 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

5 Ways to Release Your Creativity

(I apologize for the image being blurry. My photo editor is acting up)

I'm a procrastinator. I have a hard time managing my schedule (of which you are probably well aware by now - the blog hasn't had much attention from me lately, though surprisingly the amount of views have been steady, so thank you!!). There are days I say I will write…but I never get around to it. I haven't adopted the "write every day no matter what" system (yet).

It's easy to fall out of routine or to get discouraged when the well feels dry, and during that time sometimes our creative side plunges and can feel neglected.

So when you're in one of those ruts, I'd like to encourage you to ALWAYS be nurturing the creativity inside of you. It doesn't mean you have to write a chapter, or even a paragraph, in your WIP everyday. Some of us are just too busy, whether you're a mom or trying to balance a full-time job. However, it's important for you to have "me" time. Sitting down and writing a battle scene or emotionally-tugging conversation between two characters just isn't what you want to do at the end of a long work day.

So what are some things you can do to get those creative juices churning once more?

1. Daydream. Think about your story, your characters, plot holes, twists, cliffhangers, settings, secrets. Writing isn't the only part of paying attention to your beloved characters; it's necessary to take a break and just think for a while.

"A big part of writing is actually the thinking. Sometimes you're just thinking and thinking and thinking, and you've got to just say, "Whoa, stop thinking about it, so you can just really "think about it." -- Everybody Loves Raymond, Episode 2x07 "Working Late Again"

2. Listen to Music. Do you have a writing playlist? Turn that on and listen to it while surfing the web or cooking dinner. I just made a playlist that isn't technically for listening to while I'm writing, but more of a "scene-provoking" playlist. The songs get my emotions going and my mind rolling; I've thought of many different possibilities for scenes while listening to these particular songs, and a few of them also relate closely to certain characters I'm working on developing. In fact, I've got it playing right now.

Currently listening to: Hear Me by Imagine Dragons

3. Create an Inspiration Board. I have a cork board above my desk. For now, I've filled it with noir-inspired images/inspiring quotes. I plan on adding more variety, but I just pulled the images from magazines I had lying around and pinned them to the board. You could also use a smash book and create one for each story or character. 

4. Search for Character Faces. Ah, there's nothing better than having a new story pop into your head and scrambling over to Pinterest to start searching for the "perfect face" for your main character. Not only can you find a character match, but images can bring scenes and a developed plot line to mind. It doesn't cause much strain on your mind, but it's easy to get deeply involved (careful, you may find two hours have slipped by in no time *cough*).

The newest "character face" (Nicola Peltz) I discovered for my most recent story idea. Her name is Eden. 

5. Create Book Covers. This is by far one of my most favorite things to do when I'm feeling creative but having a bit of writer's block (or plain laziness o.O). What's more inspiring than seeing YOUR story on the cover of a book, no matter that it isn't what's going to end up on the shelves. Just seeing my story title and name pasted onto a picture is enough to get me writing.

Here are some I created for a story in development, Where Lies Lead



What do you do to invoke creativity? Let me know in the comments!

(If enough people comment/message me to share my playlists and/or inspiration board, I'll share those in another post! (: )

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Jane News

This is simply a geeking-out post, so excuse the hyper undertones and enjoy!

First of all, Jane Eyre: Writer's Digest Annotated Classics with Annotations by K.M Weiland is available on Amazon (and earning great reviews so far). Author K.M. Weiland looks at this beloved classic through the eyes of a writer and discusses technique, character development, symbolism, and much more. This is going to be a must-have; I can't wait to get my hands on this book!! (Click here to view on Amazon)

Second, The Jane Austen Centre has constructed a life-size wax model of Jane Austen, using her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh's first hand account of Austen as well as other accounts.

"Her figure was rather tall and slender, her step light and firm, and her whole appearance expressive of health and animation. In complexion she was a clear brunette with a such colour; she had a full round cheeks, with mouth and nose small and well-formed, bright hazel eyes, and brown hair forming natural curls close round her face."

I got chills when I saw this - you all know how much I love Jane Austen's works!
(Think she's holding the start of a book in her hands? Which one do you think it is? Hehehe!)

Opinions: Character Gender Change

Say what now?

If you're into superheroes, Marvel comics, and frankly hunky men (or if you've simply perused the latest headlines), you might have seen that Marvel character "Thor" is no longer a male in the comic books.

When I clicked on the original headline on FoxNews about Thor becoming female, I was initially angry. I'm not saying I'm against feminism or strong female characters (look at my latest work-in-progress and Pinterest boards to verify), but frankly I'm sick of the obsession to cater to female audiences just because…they're female. Does anyone else see a slight problem in this?

However, upon doing a little more research, turns out the male character of Thor supposedly is to lose his ability to wield the hammer, and a female picks it up. While it has been noted the writers wanted to cater a bit to the audience of today and there are many gaps still to be filled, this storyline seems straightforward.

If the character of Thor had been completely replaced by a woman, erasing the male existence that's been with us since 1962 just because "there aren't enough female superheroes," I would've been greatly disappointed. (Which, by the way, there are at least over a hundred listed on Wikipedia from comics and television). However, I'm tentatively excited to see how this will play out, how others will respond, and if this will spill into the Marvel Studios movie franchise.

I intend to write more posts concerning views on heroines in the future, and I fully understand that others might not agree with me. That's great — we can't all think alike or there would be nothing to talk about. I'd love to hear your opinions in the upcoming posts, so feel free to leave comments here on the blog or on my pinterest account (also vote on the poll!). Just keep it civil, peeps ;)

So…what do you think about Thor's character change?

(I wrote an article on News for Shoppers that highlights what little detail we have been given from the Marvel Editor in Chief concerning the new female Thor. You can read it here.)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway of The Case of the Tabloid Tattler!

Author Perry Elisabeth Kirkpatrick is having a blog tour for the release of her new book, The Kitten Files: The Case of the Tabloid Tattler. She has graciously allowed me read the book ahead of time and post a book review as part of her tour!

A cat that writes? Impossible! But not so in The Case of the Tabloid Tattler. Detective Keith is shocked to discover the stray cat he took in can carry a conversation on paper. Together, they form a plan on how to solve Keith's latest case in which a wealthy young woman's secrets are being sold to the public by a perpetrator.

I first offered to write a book review because I thought the story sounded like something I would've been excited about as a young kid. I wasn't mistaken.

The book is charming and cleverly twists you around as you try to figure out just who is spying on Mrs. Thornblood and exposing her private life. The wording is simple enough for a younger reader to understand, yet incorporates just enough mystery and suspense to keep you on your toes and does a wonderful job in setting up future books.

I also enjoyed the special insight into a cat's life; the author did a great job in not letting us forget the protagonist was a domesticated animal while still providing a personal voice.

I wouldn't want to give away any spoilers by adding more details, but this story is perfect for your curious and mischievous young readers and would also make an excellent candidate for story time.


A Bit About the Author:
Perry is a Christian, homeschool graduate who has written and published "The Heavens Declare," "Light of the World," "Pearl's Practice," and "The Case of the Tabloid Tattler." She lives in beautiful Oregon with her best-friend-turned-husband and their sweet baby boys. Find her books and other writings and connect with her at:


The book releases on the 17th, but in the meantime the next blog tour stop is at , where E. Kaiser will interview Perry about her writing process, AND, where blogger Holly Ciampi will be bringing you a character interview with Mia, the cat.

Perry Elisabeth is also hosting a giveaway for a signed, free copy of her new book, a chance to help name the dog in Book 2, or a free e-book version! Enter below for a chance to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Book Review: The Death of King Arthur

Last year in the fall I had purchased The Death of King Arthur: A Retelling by Peter Ackroyd. In the book, Ackroyd takes Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur and turns the language into modern English. The book was on sale, so I snatched it up; I have a hard time understanding old King James language, so this sounded perfect to me. (Plus, after finishing the BBC series Merlin, I wanted to learn more about the real Arthurian legends.)

Unfortunately, I've been less than thrilled with this retelling.

First of all, I do want to say that the book has been a good, basic introduction to the Arthurian legends. I've learned some things that I'd never heard concerning the legends, and some of the ideas in the book have been quite thought-provoking.

However, the style in which this retelling is written, though meant to be understood in modern language, is extremely simple. As I was reading, I felt like I had picked up a middle school book. It just all seemed very odd to me for the reading to be so incredibly simple, but the subject matter not always for young children.

For my reading experience, it felt unnatural and plain. This book might be preferable to keep on the nightstand for late at night when you're too tired to do any serious reading; The Death of King Arthur is broken down into several books and sections for each little story, so it's easy to choose one or two 3-7 page stories to read and then set aside. This is what I'm going to do and move on to another book for the majority of my reading.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Would I recommend this to a friend?: For a fairly light read or, as I mentioned, night time book, yes.

Have you ever read this book? What was your opinion?
Have you read the original Le Morte d'Arthur?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Exciting News (Personal Opportunity)

Hello, followers!

I just wanted to update you all on some news that is personally exciting to me.

Earlier this week I applied to write on a site called News for Shoppers, where shoppers and consumers can read the latest information on not only online shopping, but also get updated on entertainment news (TV, books, music), travel, social networking, ect.

On Wednesday night I found out I'd been accepted and am now a "journalist" for the website; I've already had my first article posted! I plan to post mainly on entertainment and personal care/health as I get started but hopefully branch out as I get the hang of things.

You can read my first article here and subscribe to to email alerts for new posts from me, if you're interested. 

As you know, I've always been more of a creative writer than a journalist, but I'm very excited for this opportunity to gain some experience and stretch my comfort zone. :)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Random Facts About Me

Hello all! I've never done one of these things before, but Mercy Ray was kind enough to tag me in her response, and I thought this would be a good opportunity for all of us to get to know each other a bit better in a fun way. :) This is for participation in The Sunflower Blogger Award. I share 11 random facts about myself, answer 11 questions that Mercy Ray gave me, and then tag 11 bloggers and give them 11 questions. Shall we begin?

11 Random Facts About Me

1. I'm lactose intolerant. 

2. I can sit down and watch superhero movies all day, or I can watch BBC shows with my mom over and over. My interests are quite broad :P 

3. Out of fiction genres, contemporary seems to be the hardest for me to write. 

4. Emma by Jane Austen is one of my all-time favorite books, but I've only read it once.

5. I'm deathly afraid of snakes. I can't even look at a picture of one without hyperventilating, and even saying the name makes me jittery. 

6. Biology was the only science I liked in school. 

7. I'm nearly incapable of making a decision. Deciding answers to the questions coming up below was quite hard for me. I drive my family and friends crazy because I always have to see what they want to do and make sure I don't pick something that they don't want.

8. I love knick knacks and collecting things. Fairly recently I've developed an interest in collecting tea pots and tea cups. 

9. I've wanted to be an actress since I was about ten years old, which completely contradicts my shy, introverted self.

(Being an introvert is like being Robert Downey Jr. in your head and Castiel in real life)
(~image found on pinterest~) 

10. Oklahoma! was the first old musical I saw, and I've loved them ever since. Singin' in the Rain and State Fair are two of my favorites. 

11. I hate cooking. I get stressed in the kitchen because I'm a perfectionist, and I just plain don't like it. I tell everyone that I'm either going to marry a chef someday or buy a lot of take out. ;)


My Answers to the 11 Questions

1. What is your favorite TV show?

"Family time" evenings were always TV time growing up, so it's hard for me to pick a favorite! However, lately I've been watching Blue Bloods with my parents, and I've become a bit obsessive. 

2. If you could live in any country, besides the one you live in now, which would you pick?

Ireland, because it's gorgeous, and I hear the people are extremely friendly. One thing I've always dreamed of doing is going to Ireland, finding a breathtaking spot, and just sitting down for a day and writing.

3. What is your favorite wild animal?

I'm a huge animal-lover, but I'd have to say dolphins.

4. If you could live as a character in any book, which book would you choose?

Does a series count? I'd have to choose The Chronicles of Narnia. I'd love to have the opportunity to escape to another reality but still know that I could come "home." Plus, I know the books so well I probably wouldn't have to deal with getting lost in a new place ;P

5. If you had to choose, which of these famous cities would you live in: Paris, London, or New York?

London. I'm not even going to pretend I had to stop and think…

6. What movie, book, or TV show can you quote endlessly? 

I have to go back to The Chronicles of Narnia probably, both books and movies. 

7. What is the most embarrassing thing you have ever done?

I can't give a direct answer; my life is full of embarrassing moments. I'm a very awkward person. 

8. What is the bravest thing you have ever done?

I can't say this is the bravest, but flying to North Carolina by myself took some guts; flying makes me very nervous. 

9. What do you consider to be the best smell in the world?

Chicken grilling on a summer evening!

10. What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?

I had a skiing accident when I was 13 and ended up having brain surgery. 

11. If you could punch a fictional character in the face, who would it be?



And here are the tagged bloggers, though I don't have 11! ;)

My 11 Questions for the Tagged Bloggers: 

1. Do you prefer writing with paper and pencil or on the computer?
2. If you didn't write/blog, what would you be doing?
3. Who has influenced you the most, whether it be a "historical" figure (missionary, author, president, ect.), someone you know, or a character?
4. What song do you find yourself listening to the most lately?
5. Do you love the feel of a paperback in your hands or the convenience of a kindle/the like?
6. What was the last word you wrote in a story or read in a book?
7. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
8. If you could choose one thing to accomplishment immediately from your bucket list, what would it be?
9. What is one quirk you consider to be special and unique to you? (C'mon now - we all have one!)
10. What is your one essential travel item? 
11. What is the first story ever you remember writing?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Character Names: List #2

As far as page views/repins on Pinterest, y'all seemed to approve of the first list! Here is another list of boy and girl names for you to use as reference and help in naming your characters.

The meanings and origins for the names on this list are taken from Also keep in mind that while I distinguish names between "girls" and "boys," some of these are unisex as well. 


Pippa - meaning : Friend of Horses ; origin: few different answers, from English to German to Dutch

Adelaide - meaning : Noble kind  ; origin : French form of the Germanic

Evelyn - meaning :  (possibly) Desired ; origin : English

Ingrid - meaning :  Ing is beautiful  ; origin : Old Norse name derived from the Germanic god ING

Phoebe - meaning : Bright, Pure ; origin : Latinized form of the Greek name

Lorelei - meaning : Luring rock ; origin : Germanic

Isla - meaning : Island of Islay ; origin : Scottish

Meghan - meaning : Pearl ; origin : Latin (from Margaret)

Imogen - meaning : Maiden ; origin : Gaelic

Aylah - meaning : Oak tree or Terebinth tree ; origin : Hebrew transcription of Elah

Zara - meaning : Blooming flower ; origin : Arabic

Keira - meaning : Black ; origin : Irish (traced back to a masculine name, actually)


Thomas - meaning : Twin ; origin : Greek form of the Aramaic

Elijah - meaning : my God is YAHWEH ; origin : Hebrew

Logan - meaning : Little Hollow ; origin : Scottish Gaelic

Jonah - meaning : Dove ; origin : Hebrew

Cameron - meaning : Crooked Nose ; origin : Scottish

Kian - meaning : Ancient ; origin : Gaelic

Harvey - meaning : Battle worthy ; origin : English

Tiernan - meaning : Little lord ; origin : Irish Gaelic

Kevin - meaning : Kind, gentle, handsome ; origin : Irish

Colin - meaning : Whelp, young dog ; origin : Gaelic

Are your favorite names on either of these lists? 
( Quite a few of mine are! ;) ) 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Book Review: Unspoken by Dee Henderson

Last Christmas I received Unspoken by Dee Henderson. If you consistently keep up with my posts, you'll probably recognize I've mentioned this author several times. Henderson has inspired me in my own writing, and her books are always full of suspenseful expectations and action.

Naturally, I was psyched to start reading this book, but I held off until around the end of February just so I could savor the anticipation. …It is now April, and I've just finished the book. Don't let that shut yourself off completely from the review, however. I've never been so confused but satisfied (and a little chastised) by a book.

Seeing as every other book I've read of hers contains tense thrills and nonstop action, I expected this book to be the same. The back cover was a bit misleading for me, but after reading the book I reread the back cover summary and realized it wasn't as black-and-white, guaranteeing action as I first assumed.

I, unfortunately, spent half of this book waiting for the pace to pick up; three quarters in I realized that wasn't going to happen and spent that time in disappointed reading. However, for the last quarter of the book, I opened my mind and started accepting the story for what it was. If I had realized this in the first place, I think I would've enjoyed the book more.

Brief intro to the book: Bryce Bishop is a rare coin dealer; when Charlotte Graham offers him a fortune of old coins at an unfathomably low price, he can't say no, not only to the coins but to the mysteriousness of this woman. He will soon discover she indeed is not a mere inheritor of a plethora of coins.

I applaud Dee Henderson on her research; she is THE QUEEN of research in all of her books, and I'd love to sit down with her someday and just ask a million questions on how she goes about gathering material. I don't know if she's had personal experience dealing with coins, but you'd think so considering the depth of detail she uses for the characters.

While this helps the circumstances and lives of the characters to feel real, I found myself bored by the lengthy discussions of business talk and how to manage handling and preparing coins for sale. Not that Henderson's writing failed in being interesting, for she's excellent at making mundane ideas feel important, but I found myself bored just because I'm not someone who would be interested in reading pages of dialogue merely about coins. As a writer I can love and appreciate the work and detail, but as a reader I personally felt like skimming the pages a few times. (This goes on for about the first half of the book.)

All of that being said, the heart of the story is truly the title: unspoken. The entire book really focuses on the building relationship of Bishop and Charlotte, the trials they must overcome, the choices they must make, the challenges in facing ghosts of Charlotte's past. I don't want to go into too much detail so as not to spoil anything, but writing a review on such a book is hard without over explaining.

While the pace did pick up towards the end and certain matters were resolved quickly (which was needed to balance the rest of the "slow but steady" story), at the end of the book, I was tempted to go, "That's it? I wanted more!" I then stopped myself and reconsidered. Really, the book ended on a perfect note for the characters, whether everything was "resolved" or not. What I wanted resolved wasn't the point of the story. What was "unspoken" wasn't just what was left hanging, but also what was settled and what was to come, if that makes any sense.

Overall, I felt like this was a nice change of pace and a character-driven, "mature" story. I would love to reread it again sometime with more of an open mind so I can examine the character developments closely. I also felt a bond with Charlotte towards the end of the book; her spiritual thoughts and even struggles were something I felt I could relate to, which made me love the end of the this book even more.  :)

My rating: 4 out of 5
(keeping in mind, this is a "retrospect" rating. If you had asked me to rate this just a few weeks ago, I would've given it a bit of a lower rating)

Would I recommend this book to a friend?
Yes, I would. Again, I don't want to scare anyone away from reading this book because of my review. Keep in mind this is a very "personal reader" sort of review, and I went in thinking the story would be entirely different. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Character Names: List #1

While daydreaming about one of the stories I'm dabbling in developing, I discovered a fantastic element to add to the story, but it required the creation of several more character names. I'm someone who loves naming characters and truly enjoys the process, however, after spending a long time having already come up with names for these characters, I was dragging in the idea of hunting for more.

So, in an exercise to help me create some more names, I decided I'd start creating a list we can all benefit from! I won't promise to add to this every month,  but I'll post a new list every now and then. Hopefully this will be fun for us all and help get some creative juices flowing. When you like a particular post's list, bookmark the page, or write it down and pin it up on your inspiration board or file it away for an easy go-to reference list! (I will do my best not to repeat names, but forgive me if down the road I miss one here and there!)

Today, the meanings and origins are taken from **Please be aware that some sites will post different meanings.**


Harper - meaning: Harp Player ; origin : English

Eden - meaning: Paradise ; origin : Hebrew

Nora - meaning: Honor ; origin : English

Charlotte - meaning: Free ; origin: English

Layla/Leila - meaning: Night/Black ; origin: Arabic

Rowan - meaning: from the Rowan tree ; origin: English

Louisa - meaning: Famous Warrior ; origin: English

Audrey/Audri - meaning: Noble Strength ; origin: English

Faye - meaning: Fairy or Elf ; origin: French

Wren - meaning: Small Bird ; origin: English

Clare/Claire/Klair  - meaning: Illustrious ; origin: French


Noah - meaning: Rest, Peace ; origin: Hebrew

Isaac - meaning: He Will Laugh ; origin: Hebrew

Liam - meaning: Strong-Willed Warrior ; origin: Irish

Henry - meaning: Ruler of the home ; origin: German

Aiden - meaning: Little Fire ; origin: Irish

Carson - meaning: Christian ; origin: American

Sebastian - meaning: Venerable ; origin: Greek

Connor  - meaning: Wolf lover ; origin: Irish

Luther - meaning: People army ; origin: English

Caius - meaning: Person of Earth ; origin: Latin

Austin - meaning: Great ; origin: English

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Taking My Own Advice: Personal Post

I've written many posts on writer's block and procrastination. Well, I haven't so much had writer's block as the latter one lately. I've been procrastinating horribly in my writing. My excuse has been my hours having gone up in my job, but that's such a lazy excuse.

I've also been struggling with the core of my Drasia story. In my last post, I talked about how our stories can hide a serious element that is the heart and soul of the story and gave some tips on how to recognize what is lacking. I've had to take my own advice and examine Drasia, because for a long time there has been something wrong with the story.

I discovered it was my perspective. I was too absorbed in comparing what I was writing to other stories in the fantasy genre, and by doing so I was literally killing my story. I was trying to make it something it really wasn't, and I was letting, simultaneously, pride and bashfulness prevent me from writing.

Why pride? I was trying to make Drasia the next best-selling fantasy series. Obviously I never have thought of this as a real possibility, but as someone who loves reading and watching good fantasy, it's nearly impossible not to make some sort of comparison. I was moving farther and farther away from writing simply for telling the story to wanting to write my story to be recognized. YUCK!

Why bashfulness? By comparing my writing to great works like The Lord of the Rings or whatever else it be, I was beating down my own work. I slowly fell into the pit of self-wallowing and discouragement and didn't consider my writing to be up to par. Is my story as good as others? I say no way, but then again that's not for me to say. What I have to remember is that I'm not J.R.R Tolkien. I'm not J.K. Rowling. My writing is my own; my story is my own. I have to focus on developing and making my writing better rather than constantly comparing myself to others.

Now I hope to be able to update all of you soon on the progression of my Drasia series and let you know what other things I discovered it to be lacking. I figured this confession was enough for one day :)

So take it from me — don't let yourself beat yourself down based on others. It's not going to help make your writing better. Only your hard work, consistency, and diligence will make you the writer you want to be.

(**I found this post on tumblr via a friend on Facebook. The writer talks about the fallen dreams of being teenage writer. It made me look back at my younger teenage years and chuckle at myself a bit, but in a way it also addresses comparisons. I encourage you to read it! I Was That Teenage Writer **)

Monday, March 3, 2014

What Is Your Story Lacking?

You've just come up with a brilliant story idea. The outline is created in detail and you can't wait to get started. Or perhaps you've already finished the first draft of your short story or novel. However, there's something nagging at you. You don't want to pay attention to it after all the hard work you've just put forth, but the feeling can't be ignored. Something isn't right. Something is missing.

Knowing something is lacking in your story is discouraging, but you don't have to allow it to become daunting. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to get started in delving into the root of the problem:

1. Get a Different Perspective

Look at your story through the eyes of a reader. Really make the effort to forget that you know this story inside and out; distance yourself. What might you, as a reader, expect to come next? What would you want from the story? (Tip: Pretend you're in the movie theater and imagine your story on the big screen. What are your hopes for the outcome of a good plot?)

2. Risk a Twist

Take your crucial moments and use a different scenario. What could bring something new and unexpected? New characters? An unexpected death? Secrets? Surprise yourself and you'll more than likely surprise your reader.

3. Boy, Girl…Neither?

Your male protagonist is a Black Ops agent,  but what if he was a she? How would that change your story's perspective and even overall message?

Perhaps your story is about three law or rule-breaking friends. What if your characters were animals? That would certainly add a twist to your perspective, setting, story lines, and perhaps your intended audience.

4. Personality

Your protagonist is naturally shy - or is she? Is she simply quiet, or is that a defense to hide a darker secret? By asking similar questions, you create opportunities for a deeper story line.

5. Driving Goals

I was once developing a story set in the 1940s. I could see the vision perfectly in my head…but there was something terribly wrong with the story, and I couldn't put my finger on it.
Finally, after doing some comparison with other story ideas to get to the root of the problem, I realized there was no focus in the plot. I'm not just talking about a theme. Look at it this way: What is it your characters are striving for? What's the one obstacle, whether physical or inner emotions, that your character has to overcome? How does this affect the story? (I recommend author K.M. Weiland's post on Most Common Writing Mistakes: Characters Who Lack Solid Story Goals. )

If you are struggling with your story, I hope this will give you some inspiration and heading in asking the right questions. Remember — that feeling of discouragement and insecurity about your story doesn't mean you have to start from scratch or throw the whole idea away. Be looking for ways to improve your story and characters. You'll eventually find the confidence you're looking for in a great tale.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Book Review: All Things Hidden by Tracie Peterson and Kimberly Woodhouse

**I received a free review copy of All Things Hidden from Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group**

I have to say I really enjoyed this book. The story was one of those where it took me a little while to get into, but by the middle of the book, I couldn't put it down. Overall, it was very sweet and the characters not only believable but likable. I enjoyed how Peterson and Woodhouse created a protagonist, Gwyn, who could at the same time be an excessive worrier (something I can relate to easily) but also hold an amazing amount of faith and strength. 

This book is also based on a true historical account, the settlement of the Matanuska-Susitna Valley in 1935, and real-life figures were woven into the story. It was very interesting to learn a bit of history about Alaska and see how it would've affected not only those settlers coming in but also the natives already occupying the land.

I have two grudges against the book: One, there were a couple of grammatical errors. I only counted two so I wasn't upset about it, but it's still disappointing to see that in a published book. Two, though the ending certainly had a bit of a twist which had me gasping a few times (I'm sure my parents thought I was going insane), there was something lacking as well. I feel like the authors skipped over some content that would've linked the ending together and satisfied the readers more. This is obviously more of a personal preference, however.

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Would I recommend this book to a reader interested in this genre: Definitely.

Monday, February 17, 2014

30 Blog Post Ideas for Writers

I'll admit, the well has been pretty dry as far as blog posts go. I've been looking up articles with titles such as "100 Blog Post Ideas for Writers" and such, when I was hit with a brilliant idea — why not create my own list of blog post ideas? So hopefully you can use this list to be inspired for your own blog and writing; you'll probably see some of these ideas pop up in future posts on here :)

On-Going Content:

1. Favorites of the month — whether they be favorite books, writing resources, cute journals, story-inspiring pictures, ect.

2. Series — My most recent on-going content was a three-part series on how to name characters. Think about something on which you have definite views, strategies, or opinions. What are your thoughts on fan fiction, and how can it relate to others? What are some ways you can research your story era and and setting? How do you develop a short story?

3. Story Updates — If you like to personally involve your readers in your writing journey, don't forget to update them on your progress every now and then.

4. Character Interviews/Introductions – Are you currently working on a story? Introduce your characters to your blog readers to get them involved personally. Create interviews or answer a character development sheet in your post. You can introduce a new character every week or every month.


5. Book reviews — the most obvious. Give a brief description of a book you just read, whether fiction or technical, and go into some detail on why the book did or didn't work. (Remember, if you're going to give spoilers, warn the readers first!)

6. Movie reviews — Perhaps not everyone would use this on a writing blog, but I believe it's a bit of a uniquely different idea to include. I'm very interested in screenwriting, so I love to review movies based on the quality of the script and depth of character. It can be just as beneficial as reviewing a book.

7. Software reviews – Use a specific software program for writing? What do you like and not like about the site you use for your blog? Help other writers and bloggers get started!


8. How about a personal anecdote that inspired a story?

9. Have you based a character off someone in your life?

10. How did you personally get started writing/blogging?

11. What author/person has inspired you in your own craft?


12. How do you find your inspiration for story and character ideas?

13. Is there a particular song that inspires you or originated an idea?


14. Writer's Block — We ALL experience some form of this. How do you push through? Create a list of ways to overcome this foe.

15. Your favorite books or a list of books you plan to read.

16. Do you have any tips for blogging?

17. Ideas for blog posts ;)

18. Create a list of possible organization ideas for your writing schedule and even how you keep the area in which you write organized.

Involving the Readers:

19. Social Media — Branch out, create an author/blog page on Facebook, a twitter account, a blog email, ect. You may not believe in having a personal account on some of these social sites, but having one geared towards your writing is very helpful in drawing in followers and spreading the word on your writing.

20. Giveaways — Who doesn't love a contest and free stuff?! Give away a copy of your favorite book, a cute journal/pen set, writing inspired jewelry, ect. Make sure you gear whatever item you choose towards those in your readership.

21. Open it up for questions/suggestions — I have a blog email and a page on my blog where you can ask me questions and suggests books/movies to review. This can give you an idea on what your followers are wishing to see more of in your blog content.

22. Interviews/Guest Posts — My Double Living just welcome its first guest blogger at the end of January, and it was wonderfully excepted. This can increase your readership, followers, and provide great experience not only for you but also the guest blogger.

"Holiday" Specials: 

23. Valentine's Day — Who do you consider to be the greatest couple in literature/film?

24. Thanksgiving — How will you manage your writing schedule during the busyness of the upcoming holiday season?

25. Christmas — Why not share a short story or poem of your own creation revolving around this celebration?

26. New Year's — What are your goals for the new year as far as writing, stories, reading, ect.?


27. Answer trouble questions — Take a glance on your social media, favorite blog, or even somewhere like pinterest. Do you recognize certain themes popping up? What about questions about how to eliminate an excess character? Or how to write that certain fight scene? How about having problems communicating with others about your story?

28. Write a post about overcoming fears of writing and instead writing boldly about what you feel strongly about.

29. Take a twist with your readers; consider what would've happened if, for instance, Dorothy had strayed from the yellow brick road. After giving your thoughts on the wonder and even danger of taking unexpected twists in a story, open your post up for discussion with your followers.

30. Have you attended a writer's conference or taken a writing class online? Share your experience and why you think others should or shouldn't do the same.

I hope these will inspire you if you're stuck blogging ideas. Remember — always leave your post open for discussion. Not everyone will agree with your opinions or with your suggestions. Everyone has their own technique that works for them. A great way to stay open minded and involve your readers is to end your post with a question, such as:

How Do You Find Inspiration for Blog Posts?

Monday, February 3, 2014

2014 Reading List

I almost hesitated to make a reading this list this year because I feel like I rather failed in the amount of books I read in 2013, though granted it was a crazy year of unexpected happenings. So, as part of my goals for the upcoming 2014 months, I've decided to try to read at least two books per month, preferably three and all depending on the size of the books. I'd like to share with you a few of the books included on my list.

1) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

I'm currently in the middle of this book, and to be honest I'm not thrilled with it. I'll give a more detailed book review when I've finished. 

2) Unspoken by Dee Henderson

This was one of my Christmas gifts and I just started reading it last night. Dee Henderson is one of my favorite authors and I'm sure it won't disappoint!

3) The Death of King Arthur: The Immortal Legend by Sir Thomas Malory and Peter Ackroyd

I picked this up on sale in a little book shop fairly close to me. Peter Ackroyd retells the legend of King Arthur and his knights using modern language. I'm very interested and excited to have fun with this book.

4) The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Marion Zimmer Bradley takes the stories of King Arthur and puts them into the perspectives of the women in these tales. Who wouldn't want to read this book?!

6) The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

I discovered this book last summer and thought it didn't sound like your typical book. I hope to get my hands on it at some point and find out if it's really as good as it sounds!

7) Longbourn by Jo Baker

This book takes a look at the lives of the downstairs servants from Elizabeth Bennet's home of Longbourn from Pride and Prejudice. I love stories like Downton Abbey, so I have a feeling this is going to be an enjoyable read.

8) Ginger: My Story by Ginger Rogers

I've read hardly any autobiographies, and I thought to ease myself into this personally hard-to-read genre I'd start with someone that I'm familiar with and love. (I love old musicals/movies, and the Astaire/Rogers duo is one of my favorites.)

9) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Not a type of book I would normally pick up to read, but the storyline sounds like a heart-tugger. Also, I just purchased a little poster of a quote by John Green, so I figured I'd better read one of his books. :P 

10) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Path

A classic but not in it's original sense, it seems. This too seems like one of your unusual books, and also sounds a bit unsettling, but from what I've seen other say, it might be hard to put the book down.

11) Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Again, not my usual type of book, but this was recommended by an actress/writer that I greatly admire and seeing as how I consider myself a major introvert, I thought this looked really interesting. I bought it on my new kindle fire and have to say I like the writing style so far and have come across some intriguing viewpoints this author has on the world of differing personalities. 

There you have it! As you can see, I seem to be leaning towards books that somehow retell familiar stories and genres I haven't gone for in the past. I want 2014 to be a year I branch out and try new things, and where better to start than reading? 

(You can visit my pinterest board here to see some of my other books including more classics on my reading list. I'm constantly adding!)

What's on your reading list? 
Do you have a book you'd like to recommend to me? I might just review it!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Constellations and Stories: 6 Tips for Focus

        "Why can't they have this in June or something?" I mutter to myself, breath escaping from my scarf and fogging in the October air. It drifts up to join the crescent moon in its wreath of wispy clouds. "Oh, but then it wouldn't be a fall festival, would it? How silly."
I hoist myself onto the back of the hay wagon in my turn. I jostle into a space beside my friend Bonnie, sit – in a crack between bales, of course – and worm my numb toes under the belly of the white dog who lies like a patient ghost in the floor of the wagon. Bonnie and I grin at each other, because the tractor is too loud for talking, and dig our hands into the sides of the bales to steady ourselves as the wagon lurches gracelessly out of the driveway.
The first scattering of songs ends and people sit mostly in silence, laughing once in a while when the tractor pitches into a pothole and makes us lean into each other. Bonnie says something about the group of little faint stars to the east.
I untuck my nose from my scarf long enough to say, “That’s the Pleiades,” with a bitter smile. It might be my favorite constellation, clustered so close as if to keep warm against the vast cold of the black sky, except that I can never look at it directly.
“It’s so hard to see,” Bonnie yells over the tractor. “You can’t look at it straight. But when I look beside it, I can see it.”
“Know why that is?” I shout back, trying to judge the distance from her ear and figure out if I’m hurting her.
I run my tongue over my lips and catch the last spicy traces of sassafras tea. I love sharing this bit of information. “There are two types of cells in your eyes: rod cells and cone cells. One of them is better at absorbing light, and the other kind is better with color – I can never remember which is which. But the ones for color are concentrated at the center of your retina, and the ones for light are thicker near the sides. So when you look directly at something dim, it seems to vanish, because the whatever-cells can’t pick up its light. Then when you look sideways, the other type of cell can see it again.”
“Oh!” she says, as if in epiphany. I doubt she heard half of my explanation, but I’m satisfied. I grin into my coat collar, a little bit warmer as we rumble on into the night.

Ideas are like constellations. Sometimes they’re bright and clear, so compelling that they demand to be stared at. Sometimes they’re obstinate, only looking right if you lean back and squint at them. Sometimes they’re too shy to be seen directly at all, and you have to pretend you’re not looking at them to find out what they are.
But if you stare at something directly for long enough, even something clear and brilliant, you begin to lose focus. You blink, rub your eyes, anything to keep it where it should be. But focus, like starlight, is an elusive thing. You get bored with looking at your constellation. You think it may not be as pretty as you thought it was. And those other constellations start to look awfully appealing.
I like to stargaze. Consequently, I have read several books on stargazing, and I cannot count the times I have been told to use red cellophane over my flashlight while I’m looking at the star maps, so as not to ruin my night vision. I was always just a bit indignant. What if I don’t have red cellophane? What if my flashlight isn’t bright enough? Basically: what if that won’t work for me?
Similarly, I cannot count the number of tips I have read on how to focus on a writing project. Set a schedule. Drink coffee. Outline your book start to finish. Freewrite. Take breaks. Don’t take breaks. Drink more coffee.
But what if that won’t work for me? And what if I don’t like coffee?
This isn’t going to be like all the other posts full of tips on focus. Because I’m not going to tell you what to do. I’m going to help you find your own coffee and your own red cellophane.
And now, a list of my best techniques for concentrating, perfected in a trial by fire (aka NaNoWriMo):

1. Move.
A stagnant pool of water isn’t very inspiring, is it? I mean, just look at it. All full of boring muck and slimy pebbles, with flat little bubbles on the top that give a lazy snap when you touch them, almost like it’s too much trouble to pop, but they’ll do it if they have to. Likewise, sitting still in one place for too long can stunt your creativity. Go outside. Run around and remember again how vast the sky is. Remind yourself that in the grand scheme of things, your work is quite small. If you can’t run around the house, do jumping jacks. Run in place. Frolic down the hallway. Ignore the disturbed stares of family and friends. Find the kind of movement that inspires you. Whatever it takes, move.

2. Eat.
Find your ‘brain food’. For me, this is a peculiar combination of cold grapefruit, dark chocolate with blueberries, and hot vanilla chai (no, I don’t consume them all at once). I find that food works best when you reserve a particular type for writing. For instance, there is a bar of dark chocolate with blueberries in the cabinet at all times, but I save it for emergencies. Find a food or drink that you like and ration it out. Only eat it when you’re writing. I find that this gives it a strange quality, almost as if, by virtue of being eaten for inspiration, it gives inspiration. I’m sure it’s an illusion, but sometimes it’s necessary to trick yourself.

3. Rest.
Writing is tough. Anyone who has attempted to write anything longer than a short story knows this. Not only sticking to your motivation when Pinterest and Facebook call, but avoiding burnout when you’ve been too inspired for too long. Try this: turn on the song that best fits your work. Bend over your keyboard. Lace your hands into your hair and listen. Just listen. Think of nothing at all but the music. Notice its intricate details, revel in its ebb and flow. Given a break from work, your brain will likely thank you by providing new ideas, sometimes from a single trumpet flourish or the sound in the center of a particular word. If music isn’t your thing, watch your favorite movie or read a book you love. Everyone needs a break once in a while.

4. Accessorize.
Find an inspiring object. This may be harder for writers of a certain genre, but lately my object has been a blank leather journal I got for $5 at Hobby Lobby. It has a bumpy cover and creamy, rough pages.  It’s inspiring to me because it looks like something one of my fantasy characters would own. I can imagine one of them carrying it in their satchel, jotting down their thoughts inside it. Previously, my object was a picture of Emilia Clarke (who happens to look like my MC) that I cut from a magazine. I find this helps me focus by keeping me in the story world. Find an object and keep it beside you. Pet it if necessary.

5. Schedule.
Oh, here it comes, you’re thinking. She’s going to give me some kind of scientifically proven method of cutting my time into little segments to maximize my creativity. Actually, nope. I hate schedules, which is part of the reason I hate posts like this, because they usually give you one. Now, I’m aware that some of you may thrive on a schedule, which is part of my point. You may have guessed by now that the theme of this post is largely find what works for you. Two things about time management concern creativity: time of day, and time of actual work. Firstly, find the time of day at which your mind is most active – everyone has one. If you can, always write during that time. Secondly, find the use of that time which is most productive for you. I find that twenty or thirty minutes of intense work, interspersed with short breaks, are best for me.

6. Persevere.
If nothing else works, stick it out. (This is a lot harder than it sounds. Actually keeping your butt in the chair and your mind on the task when you don’t want to is one of the hardest things I’ve attempted.) Don’t make excuses. If you know you should be writing, get the heck off the internet and write. Don’t stop looking for inspiration. Don’t give up.

What are your tried-and-true methods of concentration? What has fired you up and what has miserably failed? Let me know and perhaps I’ll add them to my list.


Thank you to Elizabeth for appearing as a guest blogger :) You may remember her post "Intelligence" was listed as one of my October favorites. I highly recommend you visit her blog and keep up with her stories on her Facebook page.