New DIY MFA Article on Identity as a Theme in YA Literature

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One theme I’ve wanted to cover for a while at my DIY MFA column is identity: who we are, what we want to be, and all of the joys and complications that comes with those explorations. This theme can be found in books across all genres, but it happens quite frequently in YA literature – frequently enough, in fact, that I opted to do something different than my usual case study. Thus, today’s post offers insights on how identity is addressed in YA lit, its importance to readers in this age group, and what to keep in mind if your YA manuscript covers this theme.

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Lessons and Good Habits for Writing (and Living) Well

Recently my DIY MFA colleague and writing friend Leanne Sowul launched a “Be Well, Write Well” interview series at her DIY MFA column. Each interview explores a writer’s process, habits, routine, and management of their overall well-being. She also tested the questions on herself and shared her answers at her own blog. I liked the overall idea of opening up about how our work and living habits intersect so much that I decided to try it out. (Hope you don’t mind, Leanne!)

So what good wellness habits do I try not to skimp on? What “tools” are essential to my writing process? Does my process change depending on the stage of writing I’m in and/or the time of year? I share these and other answers below, plus a few writerly well-being tips and recommendations for favorite resources on writing and wellness.

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The Handwriting Challenge

A few months ago, I was tagged by Nandini of Unputdownable Books (and formerly of Pages of Rustle) for the Handwriting Challenge. (Thanks for nominating me, Nandini!) This is a fun and unique blog hop where participants write their answers on pen and paper, then take a photo and share it in the blog post to show what your handwriting looks like.

Of course, before I show you my handwriting, let’s go over…

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New DIY MFA Article on Themes in a Book Series

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Who doesn’t love a good book series? If the first installment draws me in, I can’t help but continue on with the next book, and the next, revisiting characters that have become old friends,  getting lost in their world and predicaments, and (in some cases) connecting with their themes. Which got me thinking: How do literary themes present themselves in a series? You can find the answers to that question, as well as what writers should consider when it comes to “serial themes,” at my latest Theme: A Story’s Soul article at DIY MFA.

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Guest Post by S.J. Higbee: Five Books That Inspired Her Debut Novel “Running Out of Space”

Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in a blog tour for one of my writer friends, S.J. Higbee! She recently self-published her debut novel RUNNING OUT OF SPACE, the first installment of the Sunblinded Trilogy. I was one of S.J.’s beta-readers for this novel a couple years ago, and I remember being swept away by her futuristic universe of spaceships, interplanetary travel, and a young woman who can’t seem to keep herself out of trouble. Now she’s here to share five novels that inspired RUNNING OUT OF SPACE – and I think you’ll be surprised at the variety of her picks. 

Also, thanks to Lola’s Blog Tours for letting me be part of S.J.’s blog tour, which runs until October 31st. Check out the complete schedule here.

Thank you so much, Sara, for inviting me to give my Top Five List of books that have influenced my writing and probably contributed towards the themes and ideas in Running Out of Space. I say “probably” because I am very much someone who gets an idea and then goes for it, so it is only during the layers of editing and rewriting that I get a chance to reflect on the books that have affected my storylines and themes.

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Thrilled to Be Part of a “Literary Tea Party” Cookbook!

I’ve been near-bursting for weeks to share this news with you. And now I can finally say that (*drum roll*) I’ve written the introduction to a literary-themed cookbook!

A Literary Tea Party: Blends and Treats for Alice, Bilbo, Dorothy, Jo, and Book Lovers Everywhere is written and compiled by Alison Walsh, the “chef” of the literary food blog Alison’s Wonderland Recipes. It will feature over 50 recipes of finger-food savories, breads and scones, desserts, and homemade beverages from tea blends to punches and hot cocoas – all of which can be served for afternoon tea or other festive gatherings. The best part is, all of the recipes are inspired by foods that appear in well-known novels such as J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, and (of course) Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. 
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Finding Gifts and Inspiration: The Blessings of a Writer’s Relationship with Nature

During a recent lunch-break walk at my day job, I almost stepped on a bird feather. It might not sound so extraordinary. After all, birds are part of the everyday outdoors. But unlike fallen leaves, clods of dirt, or patches of grass, it’s not every day that your foot comes in contact with a stray feather. So I stopped and picked it up.

Two thoughts crossed my mind then. First, the feather itself. Gosh, was it gorgeous. It was slender, slightly curved, and mostly brown with white horizontal bars that became indistinct closer to the tip. And at over 1 foot long from shaft to tip, it was also HUGE. I still haven’t identified what species it belongs to. (Someone suggested the wild turkey, and it seems to be the closest match.) But as I twirled the feather between my fingers, what bird once wore it didn’t matter. What did matter was how I felt at that moment: as if I’d found a piece of treasure.

Second, as I returned the feather to the ground, I thought about writing. For me, nature and writing have been deeply connected for a long time. In fact, they might be more so now than ever before. Continue reading

New DIY MFA Article on Finding the Themes of Your Writing Life

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When Gabriela interviewed me for a DIY MFA podcast two years ago, one of the questions she asked was, “What are some of the themes of your writing life?” This week I decided to pose that question to readers in my latest Theme: A Story’s Soul post at DIY MFA. But what exactly are “writing life themes”? And how can we determine what those themes are? You may want to have a pen and paper or your typing fingers handy for this one. 😉

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The Creativity Corner: Summer 2017

Summer ends tomorrow, and what a busy season it’s been. Traveling, sightseeing, getting a head cold (OK, that wasn’t fun, but it did happen), and through it all I managed to get a lot of writing and reading done. So despite the busyness, it was a productive and satisfying summer. 🙂

Without further ado, let’s launch into the Creativity Corner for a recap of what I’ve been writing and reading, and other related happenings, since the end-of-spring edition in June.
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