Book Love, writers life, writing

Saturday Check-In: Agent Showcase, Fall Crafting, and Books I’m Reading

Hey everyone!

I decided to start something new this month and hopefully the months to follow: a weekly check-in and short post about what’s going on in my life. I’d also love to hear what’s going on in your life, too 🙂

#WriteMentor Agent Showcase

So this week, as the title states, is the Agent Showcase for #WriteMentor. On Thursday, September 6th, all entries were posted and you can go on the website and review all the wonderful mentees imaginative and diverse first pages.

I have enjoyed reading my fellow mentees work! Hard to believe the summer has flown on by and we are now considering entering the query trenches with our #WriteMentor manuscript. Again, I owe all the world of thanks to my funny and sweet mentors, MB Dalto and Amber R. Duell.

So that’s what’s happened this week.

I hope to transition and begin working again on my dark fairytale retelling, KING BLUEBEARD.

Fall Crafting

I absolutely love fall. I posted a pic on Instagram of my first pumpkin spice latte with my dear friend a day shy of September, haha! Ringing in the season early.

Something I love to do in the fall is make crafts with my Mum and friends. I enjoy walking on the beach and picking up sea-glass and pieces of driftwood. My mum made the cutest pebble art piece for Adam, Maggie, and I.

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I hope to work on either a mosaic or a braided rug this fall. Or maybe make some autumn candles 😉

What I’m Reading

 

 

I picked up Touch of Gold after hearing some great things about it! It’s a King Midas retelling ❤ Enjoying it so far.

Lindsay Galvin is one of the #WriteMentor mentors and I kept seeing her book being tweeted so I ordered. It’s soooo good! If you’re interested in the ocean and the environment and mystery, I think you’ll enjoy this.

I read Chantal Gadoury’s Little Mermaid retelling and really enjoyed it! She sent me an ARC of this Persephone and Hades retelling. Love her storytelling and writing style ❤

What books are you reading right now? What activities do you like to do in the fall? I would love to hear below!

Loie xo

Uncategorized

The Sea Carries Me Along

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Hi all!

I’m writing from my little apartment in the port city, Saint John. In one day I will have my twenty-seventh birthday. Every year around my birthday, I always feel reflective. I think about what happened in the year, how I’ve grown, and where I want to go in the future.

What I’ve summed up for the past year is this: it was a year for new beginnings.

I transitioned and started writing full-time. I dealt with some personal problems. I leaned on God and hoped and prayed for a new beginning.

As with any journey, the going gets tough at times. I’m grateful for friends and family who supported me.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to write and make new writing friends online! My life has been enriched this past year. I’ve met so many new people and I love receiving messages from them and dreaming together.

Today, I am in a place where I get to write articles and fiction full-time from home and tutor Chinese students English. This is fulfilling and brings me joy. I am so grateful to be here. I know life is a journey and there are swells and waves and shipwrecks at times.

But right now I am peacefully crossing a stretch of sea that carries whispers of hope and new life and surprises on the wind. I throw my hands up in the air and say yes.

Thank you, God.

THE OCEAN BY NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE

The Ocean has its silent caves,
Deep, quiet, and alone;
Though there be fury on the waves,
Beneath them there is none.

The awful spirits of the deep
Hold their communion there;
And there are those for whom we weep,
The young, the bright, the fair.

Calmly the wearied seamen rest
Beneath their own blue sea.
The ocean solitudes are blest,
For there is purity.

The earth has guilt, the earth has care,
Unquiet are its graves;
But peaceful sleep is ever there,
Beneath the dark blue waves.

 

*

I hope you enjoyed the poem 🙂 I love everything to do with the sea. I suppose that has something to do with growing up by it in a small town and then moving to a port city.

Do you do anything special for birthdays? Do you make a plan for the upcoming year or add to your bucket list? Let me know in the comments below ❤ !

Until next time,

Loie xo

writing

The Creative Benefits of Journaling

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Photo by Jess Watters on Pexels.com

Do you want to nourish your creativity? Perhaps you feel blocked from time to time. Did you know that journaling regularly can help artists and creators? Keep reading to find out more!

Benefits of Journaling 

Researchers have shown that the act of journaling is therapeutic. We often have a deluge of thoughts and ideas throughout the course of a day. By writing them down, we may gain insight about what we are thinking or feeling.

  • Notice trends in your creativity 

When journaling about my writing progress, I might take note of the time of day I felt most productive or creative as a writer and why.

  • Learn more about yourself 

This goes hand in hand with the previous point, but throughout the journaling process, I begin to see what upsets or energizes me. Maybe I will discover that I am at my best, creatively, in the early hours of the morning.

  • Clarifies jumbled thoughts 

I have a lot of racing thoughts, so I find it super therapeutic to write them down. When I do this, I can make sense of the tangle in my head. This is calming and I feel ready to move onto creative writing.

Free-Write 

Honestly, when I sit down to write in my journal, I just let my pen fly across the page. It may be a short entry, or it may be a longer entry. Sometimes I will sit down and end up writing a poem or short scene. Other times, I might grumble about how I feel or what I need to get done. If I journal in the morning, I write about any dreams I can still recall.

I even journal about the novel-writing process. After completing a chapter, I go back to my journal and discuss how it went. Sometimes, the practice of journaling about my novel helps unblock my mind if I’ve arrived at a deadend.

Daily Practice

It’s best if you get into the habit of journaling twenty minutes a day. By sitting down and writing, you may surprise yourself by what appears in your notebook! Perhaps you will get a new idea for your latest work-in-progress or discover a solution to a problem you have.

Morning Pages

If you want to learn more about the creative benefits of journaling, check out Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. She highly recommends writing Morning Pages. 

Happy writing, friends!

Until next time,

Loie xo

 

writing

Creating characters

July 3rd, 2018

Hello, lovelies! I hope you are having a good week so far. Happy Camp NaNoWriMo for those of you who are participating, whether you’re editing, writing, or outlining. I hope to write a novella set in the world of THE LOST SAGES, and explore one of my secondary characters, Tsura. I’m excited to learn more about her 🙂

I’ve decided to start blogging about the craft of writing, with the hope of better understanding it. In my own search to understand various techniques, I’ve found some neat books and informational videos.

The wonderful thing about being part of a writing community is getting to share information and tips with one another. After you read this blog, I would love to hear your own thoughts on how to create compelling and real characters 🙂

Writing video notes 

I stumbled upon Kim Chance’s writing videos on YouTube. I really enjoyed listening to her break down some of the various craft elements. In this video, she shared how she creates well-rounded characters. Kim kindly provides a character profile questionnaire that can be found on her website.

She discussed these key points: cultural influences, mannerisms, occupation and socioeconomic status, family relationships, spirituality, and education. Life experience is a big one. What have the characters gone through or what has happened to them before we meet them on page one.

In my book, THE LOST SAGES, Evren is poor and alone at the beginning. This really influences her decision making when Captain Sa’av, infamous pirate, arrives on Ionoke Island, seeking a navigator to bring him to the sinister Sea Queen’s lair.

Personality, of course, is a huge one. How does a character view themselves and how do other characters see them? I loved these two questions!! Oftentimes, we can see ourselves in a different light than those around us 😉

Growth

To become three dimensional, the character must experience some change over the course of the novel and journey.

What is the character’s goal? What is the motivation behind the goal and what is at stake if the character fails? For example, if Evren does not find the sinister Sea Queen’s lair, then her and Captain Sa’av won’t be able to retrieve an antidote to an epidemic that is claiming the air from thousands of lungs across Tarkais.

Question Time

Do you brainstorm all the details of a character before writing them? Do you have an image of the person or perhaps a feeling or situation they are involved with?

When I received an edit letter from a manuscript critique I won, the editor kindly suggested I begin to think about how Evren moves, talks, and interacts with others.

There were some things I knew from the beginning when I drafted THE LOST SAGES. But as always in revisions and rewriting, I learn MORE about my characters. A bit of backstory sheds new light. It’s amazing, the continual unfolding and learning that goes on.

Building Character 

With the help of the questionnaire and a character profile sheet an editor sent me, I found I had plenty of questions to answer when it came time to brainstorm Evren.

I also like to listen to music and let my brain wander, imagining Evren in certain scenarios and wondering how she would react. Free-writing also helps a ton before drafting a novel. I write a random scene with Evren in it. This allows me to see how she would handle a confrontation with a character or a dangerous situation.

Finding their voice 

I find voice a bit tricky and elusive. However, each draft I write or re-write, brings me that much closer to capturing the voice of the character. I think details in the book revealing how they walk (do they slouch, stride, or saunter) and talk (do they have a lisp, accent, or use certain words repeatedly) for example, help with capturing the unique voice of the character. Everything that makes them unique and different, will stand out.

Captain Sa’av, in the first draft of this book, was ice cold and arrogant. I realized early on that wasn’t really him. In fact, he was more goofy and eccentric. Evren appears to be uptight at the beginning, but she really relaxes once she is around people whom she feels safe with. All of this I discovered as I re-wrote.

What do you do?

How do you create characters? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Until next time,

Loie xo

Book Reviews

Friday Book Review: The Fix

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Published in 2015 by SkyPony Press

Young Adult Contemporary

Standalone

Goodreads

“One conversation is all it takes to break a world wide open.

Seventeen-year-old Macy Lyons has been through something no one should ever have to experience. And she’s dealt with it entirely alone.

On the outside, she’s got it pretty good. Her family’s well-off, she’s dating the cute boy next door, she has plenty of friends, and although she long ago wrote her mother off as a superficial gym rat, she’s thankful to have allies in her loving, laid-back dad and her younger brother.

But a conversation with a boy at a party one night shakes Macy out of the carefully maintained complacency that has defined her life so far. The boy is Sebastian Ruiz, a recovering addict who recognizes that Macy is hardened by dark secrets. And as Macy falls for Sebastian, she realizes that, while revealing her secret could ruin her seemingly perfect family, keeping silent might just destroy her.

The Fix follows two good-hearted teenagers coming to terms with the cards they were dealt. It’s also about the fixes we rely on to cope with our most shameful secrets and the hope and fear that comes with meeting someone who challenges us to come clean.”

General Gushing

So, I mainly read young adult fantasy or adult fantasy so this was a change. Did I ever love it! I went to my local bookstore and was browsing through the teen fiction section and my gaze landed on that beautiful cover with the shiny gold sticker 😉 After picking it up and reading the first chapter, I decided that I wanted it. It was raw and real and tugged my heart strings. I related to it so much, about meeting someone in your youth that truly saw you, not the image you had created but rather the hurts and secret dreams that you cradled within.

I read it in one sitting. I was supposed to be working on a project but I couldn’t put this book down. I cried and laughed and cheered Macy on. Thank you Natasha, for writing such a moving and real story.

Characters I loved

I loved Macy. I loved her with all of her imperfections and could understand why she acted the way she did with guys. Sebastian was swoonworthy and so intriguing. I loved how honest and open he was with Macy, where she felt comfortable enough in his company to share her darkest secret.

Moments I loved 

There were a few scenes from the beginning that came full circle by the end of the book. The swimming pool scene at the END of the book was my favorite ❤ Powerful way to end the book and I cried again 🙂

Upcoming books by Natasha Sinel: 

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Woohoo! This book came out on Tuesday, June 12th. I will definitely be heading to the bookstore to pick up Natasha’s latest book.

Writer Thoughts 

As I writer, a goal I hope to accomplish in my writing is to create real characters that people can connect with, love, cheer for, and maybe even cry with. I loved Natasha’s book for this reason – I fell in love with the cast of characters and felt the heart in each and every one of them. They were complicated and messy and broken. But they also had hope.

Until next time,

Loie xo

writing

Writing is re-writing

May 2nd, 2018

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Good afternoon all!

Some of you may have heard this phrase before: writing is re-writing. A lot of the time, we look at the finished book in our hands and don’t realize the amount of drafts it took to get to the final copy. As a reader, I certainly didn’t know much about the process of writing a book.

When I first began writing more seriously in 2012, I was a newbie and didn’t know much about drafting and revising. I finished my first complete novel during NanoWrimo that fall and then in January took a look at the manuscript. It was awful. There were plot holes and two dimensional characters and hardly any description. The bits I did like I saved and then decided a re-write was in order. That was when I began researching how to re-write and revise.

Marissa Meyer has a great series about how she brings her story idea to a complete novel. She outlines what she does in each stage from brainstorming, research, first, second, third drafts, etc. I found that to be quite helpful when tackling my own first re-write.

Presently: the continual learning curve 

I received feedback on my current fantasy WIP, THE LOST SAGES (formally titled EVREN) and am working on it now. There was so much helpful feedback that I’ve created a TO DO list and am tackling each one separately. Even though it feels like I have to climb a mountain, I know in my heart of hearts that I will be so proud of this book when I’m done.

The thing I am realizing too is, this book is one of the first projects I’ve taken on and I am learning SO much. I am receiving insight into myself as a writer and where my strengths and weaknesses lie. I am learning a lot about grammar and proper punctuation and the age old, show don’t tell rule as well as the infamous info dumping in fantasy novels 🙂 It is all good and encouraging. I know this is the path I need to take to grow as a writer. I want to feel confident in my ability to pen a story and have the proper tools in my toolbox, as Stephen King explains craft.

I am at the point in my writing career where I can sense a few things coming down the road. I want to write stories I am proud of and that have heart in them. I want people to to resonate with them and perhaps see themselves in the characters. I also want to write the best story possible. I don’t want to settle.

This week I have been thinking a lot about creativity and projects we take on. Sometimes if we take on too much, our writing suffers because of it. I’ve noticed that I haven’t been able to focus as much and find it hard to return and work on THE LOST SAGES. I sat down and wrote in my journal, trying to discern what was keeping me distracted. Too many projects on the go. I needed to narrow my focus and so I have. Now, I set myself a reachable goal for each week and hope to have this latest draft done by June.

What are you all working on? How many drafts do you write? I would love to hear below.

Until next time,

Loie xo

writing

Staying motivated

April 18th, 2018

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Hi all *waves* How are you all making out? We are well over the halfway mark of April 😀 Today I am working on an edit letter for my critique partner and then plan to add some words to my Camp NaNoWriMo project later. After, household errands: clean the fridge, give Maggie May a bath, bake blueberry-banana muffins, and buy groceries.

Motivation and finishing projects 

Today, I thought I would talk about motivation. I have been thinking a lot about this lately. The never-ending energy I seemed to crackle with in November during National Novel Writing Month seems to have disappeared as of late.

I do notice a cycle with my creativity where in the fall, I find I can write thousands of words and my mind is simmering with new ideas. For some reason, the spring brings a new wave. I focus on edits and blog posts and research.

But I know that perhaps someday – if I am on a publishing schedule – I will need to switch the writing and editing hats effortlessly. So, how does one stay motivated? How does one focus on a project? Even if it may be the last thing you want to do?

1. Go for a walk 

Fresh air and pretty nature scenery tends to clear my mind and allow me to refocus. I can then usually come home and get to work.

2. Do something creative and different other than writing 

I like to bake or sew or make candles. My Mum is teaching me how to sew and it is a lot of fun to flex new creative muscles.

3. Magical cookies (from Susan Dennard) 

Write a list of the magical things or what Susan Dennard calls ‘magical cookies’ about your book, to try and generate that excitement again about WHY you wanted to write this particular story in the first place. Check out this link for more info about magical cookies.

4. Music

Listen to music that inspires you. Just breathe and be present with your project. Turn off Twitter, Facebook, and your phone. In this day and age, it is SO easy to get distracted. Try to have some quiet time with yourself and your story. Have a notebook nearby or your laptop so you can jot down any ideas that pop into your head!

5. Reward yourself

By making plans or marking events on my cute doggy calendar, I have a visual reminder of what is happening during the week. For instance, today I will be meeting a friend for lunch. That is something I am excited about so I will work extra hard this morning.

What motivates you and helps you stay on track? I would love to hear below in the comments 🙂

Until next time,

Loie xo