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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Guest Post: Writing and Abandoned Projects by Faith René Boggus

Welcome to my latest guest post featuring Theme: Abandoned. Today, I’m featuring a post by a dear friend of mine who just got married! (CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN, FAITH!!!) 

Please welcome Faith René Boggus and her post on picking up old, not-quite-forgotten projects.


Piles of papers and notebooks slowly collecting a layer of grey particles. A thousand words hidden as a million zeros and ones stashed in a forgotten part of a hard drive. Every writer has abandoned projects. Sometimes it’s that you realise you don’t like the piece any more or that you just can’t figure out how the big plot points come together. Other times it’s that you love the project so much that you don’t want it to end or that you’ve gotten so busy that you don’t think you can justify spending time writing. There are so many types of works that are left behind.

The What Was I Thinking

These are the stories that leave you wondering if you were high on painkillers or writing after being awake for over 24 hours. The ones that don’t make any sense or are so bizarre that they catch you off guard. The ones that cause you to sit in stunned shock or laugh until you cry because the plot is just so strange or poorly tossed together. You set it aside after a while, thinking that you might be able to salvage it eventually. But years later, you end up finding it and having another session of crying laughter or shocked confusion.

Most of the projects that I find after abandoning them are this type. I start writing or plotting with just a character and a specific scene in mind, and then try to form the rest of the book or short story around it. And golly, does it lead to some interesting finds. One of which being a book about a girl who lived in a retainment camp in the future and managed to escape because of a promise she made to a friend. That promise? To save a pet frog that hadn’t been seen for over ten years. Somehow this escape led to the revolution needed in that country. Excuse me as I go ask my 13-year-old self what I was thinking.

The Does It Have to End

These are the types of projects that you set aside because you just aren’t quite ready to finish them yet. And then you just wait. And wait. And wait. And you’re still waiting, years later. You enjoy the characters too much. You love the setting. You smile when you think about the plot. But you still don’t finish it.

If you wait too long, this might turn into a What Was I Thinking. The plot becomes confused in your mind, and something you once love then becomes dreaded or comical. Be wary of setting works that you love aside. If you do, you may not ever finish them.

The Can This Be Over

These are the writings that you’ve just worked on so hard for so long that your brain can barely function when you need to think about it. It’s the kind that you were once excited about, and you became determined to finish it. Then the excitement faded, but the determination stayed. At least for a little while.


You eventually set it aside because you just can’t think about it anymore. And for years, you leave it because of the negative memories tied to trying to write it and getting bored, tired, frustrated, or even angry. So instead of finishing it, you just ignore it, hoping it will finish itself.

The I Did This

These are the books that you look back on as you are writing with pride and slight awed confusion. You love how they are turning out and want to keep writing. But you’re so amazed with what you have written and aren’t certain if you can continue with such wonderful writing or plot or characters that you slowly lose confidence, even though the evidence that you can write and think like that is directly in front of your eyes. So as you lose confidence, you slowly stop writing. Making sure that the piece remains un-marred.

However, you still get excited when you think about the plot or the writing. You dwell on the characters and the scenes. You daydream about the settings. You live in the story a little bit still, even though you aren’t working on it. Go ahead. Pick it up. Keep writing. You can do it.

The I Completely Forgot

These are the collections of words and thoughts that you enjoy writing and can’t wait to finish. But as you keep writing, you realise that you can’t remember where the book was going or who the characters are or what the plot was. The pieces just don’t fit together. Your memories and thoughts about the project are just out of your grasp, and you start to get tired of trying to reach them. So you put it away to try and figure it out another day.

But then you just don’t get it out again. You think about it on occasion trying to remember tiny pieces, but they still elude your grasp.


But there are ways that you can pick these pieces back up and recreate them or finish them, whatever type of abandoned project it is.

Here are some of my reasons why you should pick up your old and forgotten writings and how you can use them or finish them.

Rereading your work can show you how much your style and writing have changed.

If you’re anything like me, your style and writing change from project to project and even from scene to scene. Looking back on things that I wrote growing up to the things I wrote in college, or even the things that I wrote as recently as earlier this year, I see a huge difference in my wording and tone. I find it very refreshing and even comical or exciting to reread my past works and see how much I’ve changed. Sometimes I even find a style that I want to return to. I want to dip my feet back in that pond and feel the cool reviving water swirl around my feet. And then I want to take off, leaving it’s trail behind me as my wet footsteps leave words and stories in my wake.

You can find amazing quotes that you want to use in different projects.

Far more often, I find quotes that I hate rather than find ones that I love. However, whenever I stumble across a quote that I enjoy in a project I just plain don’t want to use or finish anymore, I think of the projects that I do want to finish and try to find a place for them there. Sometimes these little phrases even spark something entirely new, and I form a brand new story or poem around the once-forgotten words. Perhaps the same will take place for you.

You might like the premise or idea even if you don’t like the writing.

Rereading works that I left by the wayside has led to this discovery more times than I care to admit. I have so many short story and novel ideas or even entire plots figured out from projects that I had started but didn’t truly enjoy at the time. Most of the time, when I’m no longer enjoying a project, you can easily tell in my writing. The writing becomes sloppy and difficult to understand or just very dull and bland. So I scrap all the writing, but I keep the plot or the premise and save it. I tuck them safely in folder to ensure I don’t lose them. Eventually, I dig them out and start writing. And I enjoy them much more than before.

What type of abandoned project is the most common one for you to find in your writing folders? How often do you look back over your old writings? Let us know in the comments below!

Also, thank you so much Azelyn for letting me be a part of Word Storm!

***

Meet the Author



Faith René Boggus is a linguist obsessed with European culture, particularly when it comes to France and England. She likes to collect mugs, create art, experiment with words, and drink tea. You can read more about her and her stories on her blog, Abogguslife.

Previously in Theme: Abandoned!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Author Interview: Hannah Heath

Welcome back to Theme: Abandoned!

As I continue to (willingly) go without internet, I’ve conducted an author interview for your enjoyment. I’ve been following her blog for a while now, and a couple of years ago, I wrote a story review for my blog of her first publication.

Please welcome Hannah Heath, indie author of “Skies of Dripping Gold” and “Colors of Fear.”


Welcome, Hannah! It's good to chat with you. I hope you're having a lovely spring. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hey, Azelyn! I’m so excited to talk with you! Thank you for having me on your blog.

I’m an author of YA Christian Speculative Fiction. My goal is to write encouraging and inspiring Christian fiction that is accessible to the religious and non-religious alike. I spend most of my time reading, writing, or science-ing (that’s not a word, but it should be). I have an intense love for all things nerdy: particularly Batman, Harry Potter, Marvel, and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I covet a good cup of chai tea and a serious conversation, but am also always down for copious amounts of sarcasm and nerd references.

Do you prefer mountains or the ocean or both?

Hmmm. That’s hard. I grew up by the beach, but also spent a lot of time camping as a kid. So I’m going to have to go with both, particularly the type of mountain that looms right over the ocean. I want to build a house on one and just admire the view all day. Which is largely impractical and unproductive, but still. That sounds amazing to me.

That does sound amazing. Who are some of your favorite authors? How have they inspired you?

My favorite authors are varied and often change, so I’ll just pick my current main three: C. S. Lewis, Douglas Adams, and Fyodor Dostoevsky. A weird list, I know. Let me explain: Lewis and Adams encouraged my love of sarcasm and irreverence in fiction (and real-life). Dostoevsky and Lewis taught me that no question is too big or too dark to tackle. And all three of them showed me that strange, honest, out-of-the-box stories, while scary to write, are often the best kinds.

Do you have a writing schedule? If so, what does it look like?

My schedule varies each semester and often has to be very flexible due to College Student Busyness and Lyme Disease Tiredness. However, when a schedule is possible, it usually involves me writing every day at around 10 AM. I write for at least 30 minutes… Sometimes more, but rarely less. I light an incense stick or a scented candle, put on some music (usually electropop or EDM), and fill up a cup of water that I will inevitably forget to drink, then I dive right in.

Can you tell us a bit about your published stories?

For sure! I’ll start with “Skies of Dripping Gold,” which was my first publication. A YA Christian dystopian short story, “Skies of Dripping Gold” is set in an urban world where the air is poison and mysterious elevators all over the city are rumored to take worthy people to Paradise. The main character’s sister is dying from the poisonous air, so he sets off to climb the elevator tower and figure out exactly where it leads, a task that nobody else has ever successfully completed. It’s a very personal story for me, as it deals with topics such as illness and faith struggles.

“Colors of Fear” is the first short story in the YA Christian Fantasy series, The Terebinth Tree Chronicles. It tells the origin story of a young, fearful desert elf who will one day lead a band of assassins to kill the most powerful sorcerer in their world. I’ve been writing The Terebinth Tree Chronicles universe for almost ten years, so I’m excited to get to share it with you all.

How many stories are in The Terebinth Tree Chronicles? Have you set a release date for the next one?

There will be five stories and “Colors of Fear” is currently the only published (or even completed) story. The second one, titled “Flames of Courage,” will hopefully be released on 07/07/18, but I’m not sure. I probably should be, given it’s my story, but I can’t ever tell these things because my life is messy and my thought process is even more so.


Your covers are pretty awesome and vibrant. When did you decide you wanted to design them yourself? How do you choose what kind of image you want for each cover?

Thank you! I’m so glad you like them. I decided to design my own covers when I peeked into my bank account and saw the sad numbers sitting in my checking’s. I’m also a bit of a control freak, so I wanted to be able to design the covers myself to make sure it looked the way I wanted… bright, simple, and eye-catching.

Currently, the process for choosing a cover design is two parts loving symbolism and bright colors and one part having very limited artistic skills. I like each of my covers to showcase an important part of the story (the colors in “Colors of Fear,” the symbolic dripping sky in “Skies of Dripping Gold”) and I try to make sure the colors match the mood/feel of the writing. I also choose images based off of artistic skill: my talents are fairly limited in the drawing realm, so I mostly end up drawing landscapes and silhouettes.

One last question, just for fun. Do with this what you will. Pick three random characters from any of your short stories? Got them? Okay, now imagine they are all trapped in a cave together. What happens?

Oh. So much fun. I’m going with Gabriel from “Skies of Dripping Gold,” Jayel from “Flames of Courage” (she appeared briefly in “Colors of Fear” as the nameless half-blooded she-elf with fiery hair), and Wanderer from “Colors of Fear”:

Gabriel and Wanderer would start hammering on the cave wall while Jayel would make fun of them. Gabriel would get annoyed with Jayel and Wanderer would get annoyed with both of them, so they’d all sit down in separate corners. Then, as time passes, Gabriel would take charge and formulate a plan to get them out. They would all quickly realize that Gabriel’s plan sucks, which would end in a lot of swearing on Gabriel and Jayel’s parts. But, eventually, Wanderer would put his foot down, shut everyone up, and divide up their supplies so that they could survive until somebody finds them. It would end with everybody being good, though vaguely annoyed, friends.

Such a great answer! I laughed.Thanks for the opportunity to chat! (And for putting up with my internet scheduling difficulties.) Have a great week!


Meet the author!


Hannah Heath is an author of Christian speculative fiction, college sophomore, and regular comic con attendee. You can read more about her and her stories on her witty and nerdy blog appropriately named Hannah Heath or hear her talk about books and writing on her YouTube channel.

***

Lets chat! Have you read any of Hannah’s story’s yet? If not, what are you waiting for!? Be sure to say hello!

Theme: Abandoned
Up next: Writing and Abandoned Projects by Faith René Boggus

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Guest Post: Abandoned by Daley Downing

Welcome to my first guest post featuring Theme: Abandoned. I’m taking a writing hiatus for the month, but I’ve scheduled some wonderful guest posts for your enjoyment. They even fall within my regular schedule of poem, bookish post, and writing post!

Please welcome my first guest writer, Daley Downing, who wrote a lovely poem to start off the month.


Abandoned

Abandoned – ghostly, cold, alone
Or, abandoned – peaceful, solitude, freedom

A world left behind, will we ever know why?
Out of necessity, or simply taking a risk?
Do they reminisce of the place they walked away from,
Or does it never cross their minds, tug at their heartstrings, haunt their dreams?

The ravages of war, the demise of a way of life
But it always means we get to start again
New crops will grow on land left to rest,
Rivers will once more run clear and deep

Can we just forget? Is it safe to let go of all we knew, all we were?
Do we need to always carry these pieces with us?

Abandoned – the shell of a building, the shell of a human spirit
Empty space, a chilled heart
Broken hopes, lost roots
A blank slate, a fresh start
Find so much love to fill that aching place

Let go, reach out, plant seeds of grace, growth, trust
Stay strong, move on, or go back
Never allow your faith to be abandoned

***

Meet the Author


Daley Downing is a blogger, indie author, stay at home parent, former dance teacher, and cat whisperer. When she’s not glaring at her computer or wrangling special needs children, she’ll be found reading, attempting to write more than she did the day before, or listening to Celtic music. You can stalk her at her website, The Invisible Moth.

Let’s chat! What was your favorite part of the poem? Don’t forget to say hello to Daley!


Next to come in Theme: Abandoned!
Author Interview: Hannah Heath

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Book Review: The Astonishing Color of After

“Once upon a time we were the standard colors of a rainbow, cheery and certain of ourselves. At some point, we all began to stumble into the in-betweens, the murky colors made dark and complicated by resentment and quiet anger.  At some point, my mother slid so off track she sank into hues of gray, a world drawn only in shadows.”

This book hit me in the feels like a semi-truck.

Usually, I read good books at a faster pace, but I could only handle this book little bits at a time. It was so intense. Leigh’s mother struggles with depression, which hit so close to home. I have struggled with depression at times—including one point when I was reading this book, so I had to set it down for a week. But while it was difficult to read, after I read another book or two in-between, it was very well-written. And I like it when authors write a note at the end talking about mental illness instead of just leaving readers alone with the story.



Book: The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan
Genre: Magical Realism, Mental Illness, Contemporary, Young Adult
My rating: 4/5 stars
Awards: None (yet!)
One-word description: *internal screaming*

When I first opened the book, I found myself groaning like the kid from The Princess Bride: “Is this going to be a kissing book?”

The magical realism elements of the book were particularly mysterious. More than once, I was left wondering if Leigh wasn’t just imagining everything. Other times, she held physical evidence, and even though I’ve finished the book I still have my doubts. Magical realism, at the end, should leave readers wondering what’s real and what’s not, even if they’re used to reading fantasy, and the author, Pan, did a wonderful job!

The story takes place both in America and Taiwan, which I found to be excellent because usually multicultural books deal with one or the other. And Leigh was easy to relate with, as she loves her parents and her art, despite all the difficulties. Though there were times she wasn’t perfect, it actually made her easier to relate with.

I also particularly liked the book’s dialogue. At times, the characters spoke their minds but other times, they had difficulty speaking and communicating at all. Most often, I didn’t feel like I was reading a book at all. It felt so real.

However, there were times when the book got repetitive, repetitive, repetitive. I’m not sure repeating certain words again and again and again was really necessary, though I did like the use of the phrase “I want you to remember”. Another problem I had was that I took so many breaks, I actually started confusing this story’s characters with another story’s.
Reaching the end of the book was almost like the end of The Princess Bride:

Grandpa: And as they reached for each other... *closes book* 
Grandson (aka ME): What? What? 
Grandpa: Ah, it’s kissing again. You don’t want to hear that. 
Grandson: I don’t mind so much. 
Grandpa: Oh, okay. *continues reading*

In all, I gave The Astonishing Colors of After 4/5 stars for an excellent story, well-developed characters, and great themes. I would recommend this book to fans of young adult books, magical realism, and accurate stories about mental illness. However, I would strongly caution readers who may struggle with depression and/or readers who know somebody who does. While this book addresses suicide and depression in such a way that had me silently thanking the author at the end, it can be rather intense.

Doesn’t The Astonishing Color of After sound intriguing? Have you read it yet? You might also enjoy these booksStarfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman, Tell Me Something Real by Calla Devlin, and A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.

Let’s chat! Has The Astonishing Color of After made it to your to-be-read list yet? Anybody out there read it? Have any book recommendations featuring characters with mental illness?

***

Similar book reviews: Goodbye Days, A World Without You, and The Snow Child

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Origami Swan: Novel Title Change and Cinnamon Rolls (aka Characters)

If you haven’t noticed already, I’m slightly obsessed with cinnamon rolls. They hold pleasant memories for me. When I was studying for my undergraduate degree, I would visit my Grandmama every Thanksgiving and Spring Break, and she made the world’s best cinnamon rolls, and then she’d let me add extra frosting and let me eat out of the frosting bowl because she’s just that kind of wonderful person! (We’re not actually related by blood, but I call her Grandmama anyway.)

And comparing fictional characters to cinnamon rolls is loads of fun. I like the trend with my favorite fandoms. (Maybe it’s old and stale now? Who cares!) So I thought, why not introduce the main characters of my novel, Origami Swan (previously called Just Breathe), by using the comparison. Here goes!


Title: Origami Swan
Story Type: novel
Current Writing Stage: querying literary agents
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult Fantasy

Looks like a cinnamon roll but could actually kill you: Mary Lee Winters




Slightly obsessed with technology and prefers to go by her middle name, Lee. Carries around an e-guide to the Labyrinth, written by her dad, “The Professor.” Makes her initial appearance when a vendor at the Maze Market points her out to the main character, Agatha.

Looks like she could kill you and could actually kill you: Agatha Jordan




Recent high school graduate who likes collecting books, discovering the best hiking trails, and working at her dad’s garage. Prefers logic to emotion yet tends to be impulsive. Makes her appearance as the protagonist and narrator on the first page.

Looks like he could kill you and is actually a cinnamon roll: Guy Graves



Also known as the coffee addict or “Guy of Gisborne” and is not a fan of mornings. At all. Don’t bother talking to him until he’s had at least three cups of black coffee. Makes his initial appearance at the Maze Market when he mistakes Agatha for Lee.

Looks like a cinnamon roll and is a cinnamon roll: Genesis “Jen” Montgomery



A chemistry major and a college senior who likes quirky sci-fi novels. Tends to be socially awkward but enjoys deep, philosophical conversations. Makes her initial appearance wandering in the Labyrinth.

That’s just a few facts about the main quartet of characters in my latest novel. I could say more, but I don’t want to give too much away.

This list isn’t quite the comprehensive cast. I haven’t even mentioned the antagonists yet! And yes, I know some of the names are weird. #AuthorConfession: I took some names I originally didn’t like (e.g. Agatha) or random terms (e.g. Guy) and gave them to my characters, and they kinda stuck. Now I like them and they’re not changing.

Let’s chat! Who would you most be interested in meeting? Who are you most like? (Of all the cinnamon rolls, I’m probably “looks like she could kill you and is actually a cinnamon roll.”) When’s the last time you had an actual cinnamon roll?

***

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Poem: Still Life in Spring


It’s officially spring!

At least it is where I live. Actually, we had a pretty early spring, a brief snow that killed most of the crocus, then sunny day after sunny day. It’s unusual for this time of year. Usually, we get more rain, but I’m enjoying the sunshine! (I kinda miss the rain. Then I don’t have to water my outdoor plants.)

Until we get our next rainfall, I’ll take whatever kind of weather we’ve got! (Unless it's tornadoes/droughts/floods/earthquakes/tsunamis/erupting volcanoes. No and thank you!)


Still Life in Spring

Have you ever seen a flowerfall?
The way the petal spills down the rocks,
a bouquet of white and purple icicles.

The cherry blossoms unfold like origami—
one day baby buds, the next busty blooms,
then their color drips away like waterlogged paper.

The sky’s painted blue; somebody forgot
to erase the smudges of white and with one stroke
a blur of purple-gray thunder shatters the illusion.

Not even the ground is still—
she crawls with ants, writhes with worms,
cracks from the dry days all too firm.

The tomcat stands petrified in the field;
the hawk swoops down; the dog bites dirt
as the mice wait for the rain to come down.

***

Let’s chat! What does your typical spring weather usually look like? Do you prefer sunshine or rainy days? What’d you think of the poem?

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Guest Bloggers Wanted! (Theme: Abandoned)

I’m switching things up a bit. If you came looking for a poem at the beginning of the month, rest assured, I’ll still be posting one next week instead. I wanted to give my fellow bloggers the opportunity to consider writing a guest post!

As I announced in my last newsletter, I’ll be taking a planned writing hiatus this June. (I’m also considering stopping my newsletter as it usually takes 5+ hours of writing, editing, photography, formatting, and of the two people who actually reads it, one is my critique partner.) I usually take a hiatus once a year, and June seemed like the perfect month for 2018 because it’s my birthday month (you didn’t hear that from me) and the wedding month for one of my closest friends! That isn’t to say that I won’t do any writing. I probably will, but I won’t be writing blog posts of my own.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t host guest writers!

Without further ado, please welcome the theme for June’s guest writers:


Ever felt alone in a crowd? Ever explored a crumbling structure that was once teeming with life?

Sometimes, the world can be a lonely place.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Sometimes we read to discover other characters and fellow readers who share similar characteristics.

Sometimes we write to express ourselves amid our loneliness. Sometimes writing helps us connect with readers.

Books with a desert(ed) setting. 


Think sand dunes, uncharted islands, harsh environments, ruined castles, abandoned manors, you name it. Remember, not all deserts are hot. Antarctica is classified as a desert because it receives very little precipitation.

Writing about abandonment. 


Are you a poet? How about a novelist? Short story writer? If you’re a poet and want to write or have written a poem about abandonment, feel free to share it. Or if you’re writing a story with abandoned characters/settings, feel free to write a post about it.

Other. 


The above are just prompts. If you have an idea for a post that doesn’t quite fit any of these categories, feel free to pitch your idea. I’m open to suggestions.

Are you up for the challenge?

If you answered yes, feel free to get in touch! Contact me via contact@azelynklein.com .

I look forward to hearing from you!