Tuesday, June 30, 2015

3 Things I Love in a Good Story // Heidi

Welcome to our new monthly series—3 Things I Love in a Good Story! I decided to post this first month myself to help give an idea of what we’ll be doing, but I’m looking forward to all your eager participation in the coming months!

In short, I’ll be highlighting a guest post here each month sharing (in about 500 words or less) three of the things you love in a well told story. (And notice I said it’s three OF.) There are probably dozens of things you love—and whatever three you choose may not even be the biggest—so your selections could range from plot similarities (i.e. “I like a lot of action in the climax”) to a good dose of humor to certain character qualities in the protagonist. When it comes to good story, the sky’s the limit! 

I think this promises to be great fun and, of course, all your feedback will help any of us writer types out there as well. ;) 

One last thing: the three points can also be from both literature and film—though obviously, some will tend more towards one or the other. 

And now without more ado… 

from Heidi


1 – Balanced description 


Not huge, easy-to-skip blocks of text, but vivid turns of phrase regularly and beautifully punctuating action and dialogue. Sometimes lyrical, oft times keen and hard-edged, it’s description taking its brilliance from the mind of the writer. Words flashing light on a new angle of a rare jewel—bringing forth meaning entirely fresh—or words highlighting something familiar fashioned anew, shaken and turned inside out and upside down to show the still solid green strength at its core. 


2 – A strong ending 


I love it when a story feels like it’s working toward the ending the entire time—every subplot has a part to play and every character has a pivotal role. But more than that I want to feel that deep rightness where everything has been fully culminated—the ah ha! moment with the ending pulling together all the deep threads, some of which I may not even have seen (or may not notice until the third or fourth or fifth time reading or viewing it). This means I don’t really like important characters popping in during the second half of the story, etc. If they’re going to have a pivotal role I like them at least foreshadowed or mentioned or hinted at much earlier on. Once the conflict is resolved I also like the ending to follow fairly quickly. Not slam bang, but without tacking on a few extra chapters of potential doubts and indecisions for the main characters. 

And also—the last line. It’s vital. 

3 – Good camaraderie 


Trying to pick and choose what to highlight for my third point, this one struck me and I was surprised to realize just how many of my favorite stories (in book and film) have this characteristic. It’s camaraderie as in the deep friendship and loyalty of a Jonathan and David. For a few examples: 

Two brothers forming a close kinship bond (Shadow on the Mesa

Two erstwhile enemies building a friendship (North & South

Shipmates working together (The Buccaneers

A loyal servant loving, laughing with, and trusting his master—with each willing to give their life for the other (Zorro

It’s even present in well done romantic relationships! In this case it’s not always easily detectable as “camaraderie,” though sometimes it is (think Frozen and Tangled and Jane Eyre and Austen’s Emma), but it’s that tie that pulls the man and woman together under similarities and despite differences. 


It’s a part of the genuine foundation of the friendship underlying a healthy romantic love whether or not (given the particular story) that friendship comes before or after the falling in love.

~     ~     ~ 

So there you have three of my favorite elements! Would you like to share three of yours in a guest post? And you don’t have to be a writer to qualify! This series is by story lovers for story lovers. So don’t be shy. I’d love to have you!



Heidi Peterson is a lover of wide-spreading land, summer dust, white pounding waterfalls, and mountain tops; also of good dark coffee and rich stories. Most of all she's a lover of the One who is the Word, the Word made flesh. You can visit her additional blog (where she shares more about books, movies, and further marvels of life) at: Along the Brandywine.

Visit and contact at: Sharing the Journey // Along the Brandywine // ladyofanorien(at)gmail(dot)com

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Inklings & A New Blog Series!


A quick reminder that the Inklings link-up is still happily open for entries through the 30th. If you can, do jump in and join us! Also, I'm planning to start yet another monthly blog series here soon so stay tuned for further exciting developments! ;)

I hope you're all having a lovely Tuesday!


Heidi Peterson is a lover of wide-spreading land, summer dust, white pounding waterfalls, and mountain tops; also of good dark coffee and rich stories. Most of all she's a lover of the One who is the Word, the Word made flesh. You can visit her additional blog (where she shares more about books, movies, and further marvels of life) at: Along the Brandywine.

Visit and contact at: Sharing the Journey // Along the Brandywine // ladyofanorien(at)gmail(dot)com

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

An Interview with Heidi Grace Salzman

Today I'm happy to be interviewing fellow writer and blogger Heidi Grace Salzman!


Heidi Grace Salzman is a Christian YA writer. She loves writing, blogging, talking with friends, attending writing conferences, reading almost any genre, baking, swimming, throwing knives, and analyzing plots. She lives in windy, hot Texas with her three sisters and parents. She credits all her writing skill to her Savior Jesus Christ. She blogs at wielderofwords.blogspot.com.


~     ~     ~

1. (Heidi P.) Some differences and similarities you see between the three major forms of storytelling—literature, music, and film? 
(Heidi S.) Well, books have the advantage of letting you into the character’s thoughts, emotions, and hidden agendas. We also are seeing the world through the character’s eyes. In movies we see the world through our emotions, but we can hear and experience the world better than in a book. Film also has the advantage of showing us exactly what the characters look like. Movies take us on a journey that we can’t put down and rest from as you could with a book. It builds more tension in that way, more than a book does. I’m not sure about music . . . Although, it really adds to the emotion in movies. If you removed the music from movies, it would lose a lot of power. 

2. How have you seen those three mesh together in your own creative process? 
Movies help me with my characters and setting. I always imagine my book as a movie in my mind and then write whatever I feel, smell, see, etc. Books help me hone my own voice and show me what I don’t like and how I can improve as a writer. They also help me be more creative and refresh me. I love listening to soundtracks when I write because anything in the music may bring a surprise about in my writing. It also helps set the mood for the scene. Music helps a lot for action scenes. 


3. When and how did you first begin writing? 
I began writing when I was 16. (I even know the date. ;) January 2, 2012.) Before that, I hated anything that had to do with books. I detested reading and I always had something better to do. Then I read the Viking Quest series and I knew I wanted to become a writer. 

4. What are you currently working on? 
I’m working on a novella, which is the first book in a series I’m planning. I don’t have a title right now since I just started the rough draft, so for right now I’m calling it The Radley Collins series. (Radley is the protagonist.) It’s an adventure/mystery series like The Hardy Boys. I’m really excited about this novella. This is the first book in years that I’ve felt certain I’ll finish. 

5. Particular author/s who have influenced you? 
Well, Lois Walfrid Johnson who wrote The Viking Quest series, Chuck Black whose sword fights I’ve studied in order to write my own (I read all of them and wrote down each adverb he uses in his fights), K.M. Weiland, and of course Daniel Schwabauer who developed the One Year Adventure Novel (OYAN) curriculum. 

6. Is there a “non-writing” activity that shapes your writing? 
Really, doing anything helps shape my writing. When I’m doing chores (or other things), I often describe the surrounding area or my actions as if I was writing it. I think it helps strengthen my perception of details and ability to write good setting. 


7. Your opinion on the advantages and disadvantages of digital books? 
A good advantage of digital books would be space. You can have hundreds of books on one slim, eBook reader. But that’s not nearly as impressive as a room stocked with books. I also think digital books have the disadvantage in the reading experience. You can’t feel the book, smell it, flip through it . . . It’s just not the same and I think I will always prefer paper books to digital. ;)

8. Do you ever do graphic design to help with your writing? 
No. I’m a terrible artist on and off the computer. A few times I made a rough outline of a castle or house, but nothing more. 

9. Do you outline? If so, in a general way or very detailed? 
I do outline. I’ve discovered that it is absolutely vital to writing. I used to be pretty general with my outlines, but as I’ve grown as a writer, I write more detailed outlines. With my Radley Collins book I did a very detailed outline using K.M. Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel as a guide. The book was so thorough that I finished my outline 18 days before my deadline. I also spotted huge plot holes that would have discouraged me later on. 


10. Do you work on multiple projects at once? 
No. I never have and I probably never will unless I’m in a tight fix. If I focus on even just two projects, neither will be thoroughly done. 

11. Do you edit as you write? 
It depends on the book I’m writing. If I’m writing an epic, yes, I do a 50 page edit, but with the Radley Collins novella, I’m going to edit after the book is completed. However, because I’m a perfectionist, I go over my chapters about three times before I move to the next. (It’s awful, I know.) 

12. Certain themes you see surfacing and resurfacing in your work? 
In almost every book I write, a theme on self-sacrifice or the power of love pops up. I’m not sure why I always target that theme in particular . . . I suppose because it’s something I want to remind myself of. 

13. A particular aspect of writing you struggle with or a challenge you’ve overcome? 
I struggle with actually finishing a book. Which is obviously a big problem for a writer. I have finished three whole novels and several short stories (one of which I've published). But for the past two years, I’ve had trouble finding a story good enough or the motivation to finish it. 


14. How do you deal with feedback—particularly negative feedback? 
When I get feedback—especially negative—I try not to talk to the person for a little while. If it’s an email I don’t reply for a couple days. I take my writing very personally, especially since I put a lot of my own emotions and experiences into my work. When people insult it or even gently suggest a better way to word sentence, I take that to mean they don’t like me. That is one thing I really need to overcome. I know I’m way too sensitive towards critiques. 

15. One thing you’ve learned from other writers? 
That’s a hard question . . . I’ve learned a lot. But one main thing would be to study the craft: Read all you can about writing, write all you can, get critiqued, critique others, talk to other writers, go to writing conferences. The more you learn, the better you’ll become. 

16. A helpful nonfiction book or website? 
K.M. Weiland definitely has one of the best writer’s blogs out there. Her books on outlining and structuring your novels are excellent as well. Emily Tjaden also has a wonderful blog with tons of advice. I love her style and how easy it is to grasp the concepts she’s talking about. Nonfiction books would be Outlining Your Novel, The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction, Writing Active Setting books one, two, and three. 


17. What do you consider one of the single most important things to remember (i.e. an attitude or technique)? 
I think the most important thing to remember is that you can do this. Even if your novel is a flop you can still make it good. It’s okay to stop writing for a while and cry out your frustration, but you have to get back to work and try again. I’ve fallen many times in my writing journey, but I remembered that I had to get on my feet and roll up my sleeves. When I did that, I found a little gem of a novella. I might not have found it if I had given up when I wanted to. 

18. A word of encouragement for fellow writers? 
Pretty much what I said above . . . Just keep on going and don’t give up. If this is what you really want, don’t trade it in for something else. Authors can make it in this world. But they have to start as beginners. You have to work to get there. So keep on working. :) 

~     ~     ~


Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Heidi! ;)


Monday, June 8, 2015

Inkling Explorations Link-up // June 2015


Inkling Explorations is an exciting link-up for any and all story lovers who love discovering treasures in everything they read—whether it's in an old favorite or something crisply and deliciously new on the shelf.

It's completely optional (you can enter some months and not in others) and it's open to entries from literature and film—and with selections from fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, romance, action, poetry, even sometimes non-fiction! The range is pretty much limitless. (Note: Entries will be moderated, however, and must be clean, edifying, and suitable for all ages.)

*Rules*


1. Post the Inklings button on your sidebar.
2. Do a post on your own blog relating to the month's selection/subject (a literary excerpt as short or as long as you like AND/OR—if specified that month—a screencap from a film with an explanation of how the scene builds/develops the story). Link back here somewhere in your post.
3. Come back here and paste your link in the comments box and I'll add it to the post. Then enjoy visiting and reading everyone else's contributions!

That's all there is to it!

June Topic: A Gripping Story Opening in Literature


(June specific notes: "Gripping" doesn't necessarily mean high action; specifically, it's anything that caught your interest and kept you reading! ;) Also, book selections only this month, i.e. no film entries.)


My entry is from A Sea Queen's Sailing by Charles W. Whistler 


(It might seem cliché here, highlighting a story beginning in the aftermath of a fight, but this opening drew me in so hard I was quite literally eating, sleeping, and breathing the story for several days till I reached the wonderful ending.)


“The black smoke eddied and wavered as it rose over my father’s burning hall, and then the little sea breeze took it and swept it inland over the heath-clad Caithness hills which I loved. Save for that black cloud, the June sky was bright and blue overhead, and in the sunshine one could not see the red tongues of flame that were licking up the last timbers of the house where I was born. Round the walls, beyond reach of smoke and heat, stood the foemen who had wrought the harm, and nearer the great door lay those of our men who had fallen at the first. There were foemen there also, for it had been a good fight.”

Action, reflection, and conflict…


The rest of the story is delightful—tense in places, quite original, and tremendously satisfying. It’s an old book and hard to find, but if you can hunt it down I highly recommend it!

 ~     ~     ~

Now let the fun begin! Entries are open through the end of the month and I can't wait to see your selections!

Up next month: A well crafted animated film climax


Saturday, June 6, 2015

"Beyond the Mask" Now in Theaters!


A quick reminder here with the exciting news that the Burns family's independently produced adventure film, Beyond the Mask, is showing in theaters this week!! It's a great story and (if you haven't already) click here to find it in a theater near you to enjoy the story and support this groundbreaking event!



Heidi Peterson is a lover of wide-spreading land, summer dust, white pounding waterfalls, and mountain tops; also of good dark coffee and rich stories. Most of all she's a lover of the One who is the Word, the Word made flesh. You can visit her additional blog (where she shares more about books, movies, and further marvels of life) at: Along the Brandywine.

Visit and contact at: Sharing the Journey // Along the Brandywine // ladyofanorien(at)gmail(dot)com

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Quote of the Month ~ June 2015

(click to enlarge)

For more great Quotes of the Month click here.





Heidi Peterson is a lover of wide-spreading land, summer dust, white pounding waterfalls, and mountain tops; also of good dark coffee and rich stories. Most of all she's a lover of the One who is the Word, the Word made flesh. You can visit her additional blog (where she shares more about books, movies, and further marvels of life) at: Along the Brandywine.

Visit and contact at: Sharing the Journey // Along the Brandywine // ladyofanorien(at)gmail(dot)com
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