The “Wonder” of a Message

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Image: Amazon.com

This week, I began reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Some of you may have read the book last year when the film adaptation starring Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts, and Owen Wilson was released. The book first came out back in 2012 and received many accolades since.

For me, this book is reminding me of why I love literature. Sometimes, it takes just one book to give us a new perspective on things, including life. It’s why Christian Fiction has become part of my life since the summer before beginning college, why I’ve come to appreciate the classics of Dickens and other Victorian authors, and why I want to write.

I want to pass along the messages I’ve learned, and help others see what I do now.

For those who haven’t had the chance to read the book, Wonder is about a boy named August, or “Auggie,” who is attending school for the very first time in his life. Auggie has an extraordinary face that distinguishes him from other children. I am currently on page 100 of the novel…and it’s beautiful. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, you should. The message is very relevant…and something we all need a reminder of from time to time: be kind.

Never be afraid to check out a book everyone else is talking about. It might contain a message you need to hear and remember, because there are still good things in this world.

Happy writing!

 

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Writing Prompt: Observing Memorial Day

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Image: michaelbennett (freerangestock.com)

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone! Here are some prompts to think about the significance of this holiday:

  • Write a poem about why we should pause to celebrate and remember.
  • Write a profile about a local veteran in your community or family member who served in the military.
  • Write a story about the meaning of sacrifice.
  • Free write

Whether you choose one of the above prompts, attend a Memorial Day parade, attend a vigil, place flags on the graves of our veterans, and more, please remember our heroes this Memorial Day weekend. They made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Let’s not forget that not just this weekend, but every day.

Happy writing…and to all our troops and veterans, thank you.

Writing Experience: YAYWORLD

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Image: YAYWORLD

Even writers find themselves taken away from writing of all sorts by busy schedules. Apologies for less posts shared this month.

Today, I’m going to talk about a content creation marketplace that you should check out not just for utilizing writing skills, but also making some money. It’s called YAYWORLD.

Launched in June 2017, YAYWORLD is a start-up content creation site where YOU write and share your opinions, hobbies, experiences, and so on. If you’ve visited my blog before, you might have noticed the “YAYWORLD Posts” page in my portfolio. Here, you find posts I’ve contributed to their site. When I recently remade my blog, I added a photo of a box containing my pens. Above the picture was a caption reading, “LET ME WRITE FOR YOU!” If you click on it, you’re led to my YAYWORLD profile and their website as a whole. This has become another way of promoting the site while also showcasing my work. I’ve enjoyed sharing my thoughts and experiences with YAYWORLD and letting people see other things I’m interested in outside of writing and music. We are all quite multi-faceted people.

So why should you check out YAYWORLD and what’s in it for me besides money? Well, you have a chance to give more attention to something you love, especially if it’s local! For example, let’s say there’s an independent bookstore I love visiting that I feel people in my home state of Massachusetts should check out. Besides writing about my experience with the employees or their inventory, I can take it a step further by getting the local business to sponsor me. I can propose to the bookstore about what writing about them will do for their business and give them another option for attracting the younger generation. We would then negotiate a reasonable fee for my work. I would have photos, some ideas, and more to craft a great post. Plus, with YAYWORLD having so many websites specifically linked to state, country, and city, I can narrow down my posts to a specific audience. For my metaphorical post, I would choose YAYMASSACHUSETTS or YAYBOSTON if the bookstore I visited was in the Boston area. Besides promoting what you can do, you are also giving businesses and franchises another opportunity for advertising and promotion.

But remember, your sponsor needs to register with YAYWORLD before you can go forward. Your posts are also NOT reviews. They are about sharing your experiences and talking about a business people should check out or consider. Your posts are also about the hobbies and interests you enjoy that you think deserve some more attention. With music posts, for example, I’ve written profiles about favorite artists; chronicling their careers, some of my favorite performances and so on. With travel, I talk about what stood out to me and how the trip made me feel. I also make sure to include images and videos that will draw people in. Having a post with just words is not enough to entice people to your sponsors or your work.

Plus, social media can be a viable asset for promotion of not just the business, but you too! Share your posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more to reach a larger audience and generate interest in what you have to offer.

I regret that I haven’t done many posts lately…but maybe it’s because we all get scared sometimes. We have a lot to offer, but sharing opinions – especially on the Internet – can be frightening at times. Plus, you want to promote places or people that you care about, but you don’t know how they will respond until after you ask. My advice would be to give YAYWORLD a chance and take a deep breath, and let go of fears. Write to your heart’s desire and do what makes YOU happy. That’s what writing should be about. But you never know until you try.

To get started, just create one post and then you’re ready to go! For more information, check out yayworld.com.

Happy writing!

Taking the First Steps

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Image: Leland Davis (freerangestock.com)

I apologize for no post last week. Personal things took up my time…and sometimes you don’t want to write. You want to give yourself some breathing time. I think a lot of us see change as a bad thing once in a while because we sometimes have to grow in order to move forward. We want to stay where we are because it’s safe and routine. We fear the unknown.

Because we like the idea of knowing what will happen so there are no surprises.

You might have noticed some changes to this blog: different featured image, color scheme changed, and so on. I’m still thinking of how else I can change this blog so it better represents ME and speaks to more writers. It was scary as this was the third time I was rearranging things. You don’t want to change things too much to alienate your audience, but at the same time you want things to represent your growth and changing perspective.

I have felt this change, a lot, in my writing lately. You may have read two recent posts from April regarding a sudden motivation to write again and opening up about my struggles to write a novel. These have been steps, for me. Being real about my failures as a writer, but also about the opportunity to change where my passion is headed. Since last week, I found myself going to my local library for research. I was suddenly struck with inspiration and wrote the ideas down in a notebook.

Another step reached.

I’m not sure where my current project is headed, but I like where it’s going so far. If you’re struggling to write again, remember to be patient with yourself and have faith. Take it one step at a time, and everything else will follow suit.

Happy writing!

 

A Favorites List: My Top 20 Books

 

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Image: Merelize (freerangestock.com)

I’m going to experiment with something new this week: a ranked list of some of my favorite books. We see these lists all the time whether in end-of-year issues of favorite magazines, bestseller lists, and so on.

I got the idea to share a list when I recalled a 2015 100 greatest novels list I saw in college. In my ‘The Victorian Novel’ class, my professor shared with us a list put together by the BBC titled, “The 100 greatest British novels.” In it, BBC Culture contributor Jane Ciabattari spoke with 82 book critics all over the world (except the UK) about the greatest British novels. The numbers were tallied based on which novel was considered the greatest by each critic. Looking at the list, I was intrigued to see a couple novels I had read made the list (Sense and Sensibility, Wide Sargasso SeaVilletteBleak House, Frankenstein, and Middlemarch to name a couple).

As I write this, I wonder if the list has changed for 2018. Some books may have changed ranks over the years while some have not. New books would take the place of others. I also came across a 2012 list from Publishers Weekly ranking the best books by the Brontë sisters (whom I discussed in a post earlier this month about writing influences). If you use a reading journal, you may have found some lists for book recommendations.

However, I do find lists tricky. Rankings may depend on interest, genre, and so on. Plus, we all have books that we love and some do not. I still think lists are interesting because of that variety because you may end up reading a book you’d never thought you’d like until you saw it on a list.

Below is my top 20 list of favorite books. I felt a top 10 list would be more limited and harder to narrow down choices. Feel free to check out any books that catch your interest! Also note that this list is not limited by genre, topic, or time period. I also love all these books equally, so don’t worry if you disagree with a rank.

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20) One Evening in Paris by Nicholas Barreau (2014)

19) The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton (1913)

18) Undeniably Yours by Becky Wade (2013)

17) Unlocked: A Love Story by Karen Kingsbury (2011)

16) Ocean Star: A Memoir by Christina DiMari (2006)

15) The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck (2015)

14) Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom (1997)

13) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

12) Bathsheba by Jill Eileen Smith (2011)

11) Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks (2010)

10) Bleak House by Charles Dickens (1853)

9) The Little French Bistro by Nina George (2017)

8) Paper Hearts by Courtney Walsh (2015)

7) The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks (2008)

6) Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (1874)

5) Villette by Charlotte Brontë (1853)

4) Between Sundays by Karen Kingsbury (2008)

3) Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938)

2) Chords of Strength: A Memoir of Soul, Song and the Power of Perseverance by David Archuleta (2010)

1) The Reason by William Sirls (2012)

 

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What are your top 20 favorite books? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Happy writing!

Starting the Novel Over: My Story

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Image: Pexels

One of my biggest writing goals since I was a teenager was publishing a book. I can imagine for my fellow writers, that has been yours too.

Last week, I talked about going through my notebooks, binder, and flash drive. In it, I came across MANY poems that I forgot about over the years. As I read through some of my works, I felt the passion I had when I was younger budding again. There are many reasons why a novel is never finished: writer’s block, fear, life getting in the way, and so on. Sometimes you even come up with multiple ideas for a story, but they never go further than that.

I got the idea for my first novel in 2015 while on vacation in Maine. Upon entering the cottage my family and I stayed at, my brain was buzzing with ideas. After two weeks, I had a notebook filled with fifteen pages of ideas, characters, scenes, and more. Now and then I touched the story, but my final year of college took priority over sitting down and writing.

Upon graduation, the job search also took priority. By November 2016, I was participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and wrote over 26,000 words. But…nothing happened after that.

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Image: Pixnio

I have felt like a failure as a writer. I even found myself questioning my passion. Maybe if I was passionate for something else, life would be easier, safer, better even. Maybe I was kidding myself all these years about my writing.

That’s why I had shared what I did last week about a friend commenting on how much I wrote. It felt like much-needed motivation, a revival of my passion after other things buried and burned it out. Also, my opportunity to review books for Hallmark Publishing has revived the desire to write again. Seeing their guidelines, reading the books that I have so far, and reading about a writer recently get her book published…awakened this drive I haven’t felt since before starting college.

I may not publish the book that I’ve started. The other ideas I’ve developed may never come to fruition. But, my writing isn’t dead.

It’s just starting over.

Writers, whatever may come, you will get that book out.

Happy writing!

Encouragement and Revisiting Influences

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Image: Ramdlon (Pixabay)

I apologize for no post last week due to Easter and a busy week ahead of the holiday. I hope you all are well and writing to your heart’s content and reading great books!

…this week was interesting in terms of writing. One of the biggest things, I think, a writer needs once in a while is encouragement. Whether it’d be from a friend, family member, fellow writer, and so on. Another is realizing how much authors influence other authors.

In late February, I had received a comment from a friend that stayed with me since. The comment wasn’t about how beautiful, honest, or raw, etc etc my work was (writers, of course, do appreciate those compliments when we receive them). Instead, the comment referred to HOW MUCH I wrote.

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Image: StockSnap (Pixabay)

I have felt discouraged as a writer because I don’t write every day like others do. I don’t have a set schedule even though I’ve struggled to make one for a few years now. I also get discouraged when people don’t think I’m writing because I don’t do it on a daily basis and comment on that to me. Just because a writer doesn’t write every day or on a schedule doesn’t mean they’re not a writer.

Earlier this week, that comment was on my mind again. So I went through my drawers looking for my binder and growing collection of notebooks. I also checked out my flash drive.  I was quite stunned by how much I found, some writings from as far back as high school that I forgot about. That discovery got me thinking, a lot. If I could write as much as I did before…what’s stopping me from writing that much, or even more, now?

Sometimes you receive encouragement when you least expect it. When it happens, hold on to it when the doubts come. I’d like to thank this friend for his comment about my work; I really needed it.

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Image: Philip Halling (geograph.org.uk)

Another piece from this week involved revisiting a writing influence. I have admired and found writing influences throughout my life. But there was one–make that three–I had discovered in college: The Brontë sisters (Charlotte, Emily, and Anne). If you’re a big Brontë fan like me, you’ve probably read Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Agnes Grey, and so on. You may have also read their poems.  Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is currently on my to-read list.

I found myself revisiting how their works stirred my love for classic novels, particularly Victorian literature, and changed my role as a writer, by writing about them. When that post is complete, I’ll add it to my portfolio so you all can read it. That piece was my first time writing about an influence on literature and how I want to write my stories. As I wrote about the Brontës, I thought back to reading their novels and poetry. Later, I’d come across documentaries about them, a reimagining of Jane Eyre called Jane Steele, and books that imagined what their lives were like while also staying true to historical accounts.

I believe the Brontës are the reason I fell in love with more classic authors including Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, and more. Plus, I have realized how much the Brontë sisters influenced many other writers to this day.

Take courage from people and writers, past and present. You never know when you’ll need it most.

Happy writing!