New DIY MFA Article on Love as a Literary Theme

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When I noticed my next DIY MFA post was scheduled for the week of Valentine’s Day, I decided it was time for a case study on an appropriate and timeless theme: Love.¬†If you think about it, though, love is one of the most frequently discussed and deeply profound themes in literature. Plus, the most compelling thematic explorations of love touch on romantic love as well as love of other forms (kindness, compassion) and in other types of relationships (friendship, family). This is the case with the two example novels in today’s Theme: A Story’s Soul post, and I hope you *love* the end result (or, at least find it informative). ūüėČ

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New DIY MFA Article: A Case Study on Legacy as a Literary Theme

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Remember how I said that I’m changing my posting schedule next week? That’s because I have two¬†posts for you this week, including my first DIY MFA article of 2018. ūüėČ

Today it’s a case study on legacy and immortality, themes that aren’t examined frequently in literature but can be insightful and profound when that examination is done well. So what makes¬†Station Eleven¬†by Emily St. John Mandel a brilliant example? By using a museum, historic plays, and two characters who represent different ways of building a legacy that can impact the next generation.

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Reflections on 2017, and What Matters More than Having the “Best Year Ever”

Last January, a friend gave me this New Year’s party hat. The timing for this sparkling “gift” couldn’t have been more appropriate: I was ready to send a YA fantasy novel to beta-readers, and 3 weeks into a crowdfunding campaign to help me afford a trip to the Iceland Writers Retreat. Not to mention I had a whole list of goals and plans for 2017, and if things worked out the way I’d hoped, maybe I’d be closer to my dream of being published by year’s end – a pretty good “best year ever.”

Today, that hat still sits in my writing space (a.k.a. my dining room table), and I’m no closer to being published than I was a year ago. But that doesn’t mean 2017 was “not the best year ever.” Rather, it turned out much¬†differently than I thought it would.

Was it challenging? Absolutely. Discouraging? At times, yes. But it was also one of the most exciting, inspiring, and humbling years I’ve had the privilege of living.

For all those reasons, I can’t write this annual reflection post in the same way I’ve written those of past years. Instead of focusing on milestones, blog statistics, and defined plans that could change in a few months, I’d like to share what I learned this past year. How certain events sent my mental health spiraling and shook my faith and self-confidence. How other events and important choices helped me heal and made me look at life – even why I write – from a different perspective. How it all, in the end, reminded me that I’m intelligent, creative, and determined enough to rebound from setbacks. Continue reading

The Creativity Corner: Autumn 2017 (Plus, I’m on Hiatus for the Holidays)

I guess I should start this post by wishing you a Happy Winter Solstice… But I’m not a fan of winter. ūüėČ Either way, it’s hard to believe that another season has passed, and what an inspiring and productive autumn it was, creatively speaking. The funny thing is, when I was writing the end-of-summer Creativity Corner, I was already looking ahead to fall… and I realized that October and early November would be the best time to get as much writing done as possible before Thanksgiving and Christmas.

What a fantastic decision that turned out to be – because I’m¬†stunned¬†at how much I accomplished since then!¬†I’ll get into all of that shortly. And as always, feel free to share what you’ve been reading and writing (or revising, editing, etc.) this past season in your comments.
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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‚Äôs 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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