Friday, October 30, 2015

The Behind-the-Scenes Writing Tag

Hamlette tagged me with this recently and it couldn't have come at a more perfect time. (Thank you, Hamlette! ;))

Is there a certain snack you like to eat while writing? 

Glass after glass of fresh whole milk. Also, dark chocolate and (at the moment) fruit leather, of all interesting things. :) 

When do you normally write? Night, afternoon, or morning? 

I’m trying to keep flexible with being able to write at any time, but -- unless I’m at a riveting place -- morning definitely seems to be my most productive time. Blog posts I generally tend to write in installments all throughout the day and in between everything else. 

Where do you write? 

As of a couple months ago, I used to only write at the computer in the basement, but since being given another laptop computer I’ve found it hugely stimulating to move around the house. Sometimes the dining table, or sitting in the rocker in the library, or standing by one of the chest freezers in the basement, or sometimes at the sewing desk. 

How often do you write a new novel? 

Each novel is a marathon for me and I generally try to focus on one at a time -- letting the others have time to simmer -- so starting each new project is an infrequent and momentous occasion. 

Do you listen to music while you write? 

Yes!!! Almost always. And different stories have different selections. Right now, for A Flame Shall Spring it’s Cinderella 2015 and Ever After and Dreaming (by André Rieu) and sometimes, Beauty and the Beast

What do you write on? Laptop or paper? 

The laptop, but I have an entire collection of handwritten notebooks and generous piles of miscellaneous scraps of paper covered with all sorts and combinations of oddments. 

Is there a special ritual you have before or after you write? 

No, besides backing up everything connected with my current WIP each and every time I finish a writing session.

What do you do to get into the mood to write? 

I’ve been working hard on making a steady writing habit of late and, thankfully, I think the ‘sitting down and staying with it regardless of mood’ is getting a bit better, BUT I do have certain movies that are a huge part of my process, freshening me up for different stories and generally starting off an explosion of creativity. 

What is always near the place you write? 

This has changed a little with being more mobile, but I still absolutely love the calendar and character collages my sisters made me for On David’s Shoulders

Do you have a reward system for your word count? 

I’m trying to get better with just writing and then being comfortable editing out later, but by default I tend to focus strongly on the less-is-more principle, which -- needless to say -- tends to give a low word count. I do keep microscopic track of it and spreadsheet every last adjustment, which is tremendously helpful for pacing, etc. So all in all, seeing it fluctuate up and down as necessary where the work needs to expand or tighten up, is quite satisfying (not to mention encouraging)!

So... I guess that answer ended up being my overall philosophy on it, but no, I don't have a reward system per se. :)

Is there anything about your writing process that others might not know about? 

For me, whenever a new story arrives, the ending generally always comes first. So before writing I sit down and work back to the beginning and then go forward again, figuring out the major plot points. Then I keep the outlining very low key between those points, leaving plenty of room for character changes and new developments. Sometimes the major incidents shift as the book grows, but so far the built-in flexibility has taken on any and all changes without skipping a beat, so I’m thoroughly happy!

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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, October 29, 2015

Quote of the Month ~ October 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)comh

Friday, October 23, 2015

October Inklings

A lot's been happening of late and -- what with water going under the bridge and life being full and so forth -- I'm putting up a quick reminder that our October Inklings is still open through the end of the month! (And note, I did change the link system, but it's still easy. ;)) You can click here for the link post.

And... I can't believe when I wrote it that I omitted to mention The Borrowers books by Mary Norton! Of all quintessential gypsy scenes to forget! Those books are packed with scenes and generally what I first think of when the topic surfaces. :) 

Looking forward to your entries if you're able to!

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, October 21, 2015

An Interview with Braden Russell

Today I'm happy to be interviewing fellow writer and blogger Braden Russell.

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Braden Russell is an aspiring author and music instructor who writes weird speculative fiction from various Oklahoma coffee shops. He is the author of five unpublished novels, and currently plans to self-publish his first book in 2016. Story in all forms is his passion, and he discusses Charles Dickens, Brandon Sanderson, Coldplay, and Monsters, Inc. with equal enthusiasm. You can find him blogging about writerly things at his website The Storymonger

1. (Heidi) Some differences and similarities you see between the three major forms of storytelling—literature, music, and film? 
(Braden) You know, I don’t really think much about the differences and similarities between these three mediums. They’re all just story for me, and I’m passionate about all of them. I write novels to explore the big stories I have in my head, while I write songs in a more autobiographical context, based on things I’m going through at the time, trying to make a little more sense of everything. Sometimes I have a story that is so visceral and exciting, and I’m seeing scenes and hearing music in my head, and I plan to make that one a movie. 

So I guess all three of those things are pretty muddled up in each other. 

2. How have you seen those three mesh together in your own creative process? 
(Whups, I guess I already answered this question. Heheh.)

3. When and how did you first begin telling stories (in both book and film)? 
I think I wrote my first story when I was six. It was called How Jery Rat Kild the Monstar, and my mother helped me staple it together out of colored construction paper so it looked sort of like a real book. I remember telling my mom I wanted to give it to the mailman, so he could sell it to someone for me—I was quite the self-publishing entrepeneur, apparently. 

4. What are you currently working on? 
I’m revising my novella, The Weatherman’s Apprentice, a post-apocolyptic story about a young boy who discovers that his father actually brought on the deluge that destroyed the world. Also writing the first few chapters for an online webfiction serial called The Firewall Saga. I really like serial fiction in many forms, so I’m excited about trying my hand at it. 

5. Particular authors and/or screenwriters who have influenced you? 
Brandon Sanderson is a living author who has been a huge influence on my writing, and Charles Dickens is a dead one. I don’t have any favorite screenwriters, per say, but I really love Christopher Nolan as a writer/director. He is a masterful storyteller. 

6. Is there a “non-writing” activity that shapes your writing? 
Drinking coffee. Also sleeping. I never take naps, but I love the idea of them and hope to someday have enough time to take one. 

7. Your opinion on the advantages and disadvantages of digital books? 
Honestly, I really hate digital books. I have trouble focusing on them. If I’m holding an actual book in my hands, with a cover and pages and a smell, I can get into the experience of the story so much better. However, there is a huge place for digital publishing nowadays, and I do plan to e-publish my novella before I make up a print version, because people are more prone to buy an ebook written by an unheard-of author before they buy a print version. 

Someday, digital books will probably make real ones extinct. I have no problem with that, as long as everybody just gives me their real books. 

8. Do you ever do graphic design to help hammer out details? 
I am partially colorblind, and also just generally aesthetically challenged. I don’t do ANY kind of graphic anything. 

9. Do you outline? If so, in a general way or very detailed? 
I adore outlines, but don’t stick to them very well. I’m a discovery-outliner, I suppose—my outline gives me a basic idea to work with, to keep momentum, and at the same time it’s general enough to let me experiment and go off on tangents. 

10. Do you work on multiple projects at once? 
Yes, but it’s probably not a good idea for me. In fact, it’s definitely not a good idea for me. I am the world’s worst multitasker. 

11. Do you edit as you go along or wait until a project’s reached a certain definitive stage? 
I edit as I go, because I can’t stand not to. I write slower that way, but my first drafts are much smoother than a lot of people’s first drafts. I know you’re not supposed to do that, but I can’t really help it, and it seems to work for me. 

12. Certain themes you see surfacing and resurfacing in your work? 
Redemption seems to be a pretty big theme in my stories, as well as moving on from tragedy and dealing with change. I write a lot of antiheroes. 

13. A particular aspect of writing/storytelling you struggle with or a challenge you’ve overcome? 
I have trouble with the pre-writing stage—taking time to really develop the story and the characters before I dive in. I’m working on that. I have a story right now that I really want to write, but I’m giving myself a good long while to mull over it before I start putting it down on paper. 

14. How do you deal with feedback—particularly negative feedback? 
I have pretty thick skin for negative feedback pretty well, as long as it is delivered nicely. If someone tells me they don’t like my story, and give me a good reason why, then I get to fix that problem. If I don’t agree with them, and I have a good reason for not agreeing with them, then I don’t fix it. I really haven’t had that much experience with people just being mean about my stories—I guess I’m lucky that way. 

15. One thing you’ve learned from other storytellers? 
That I will never be the best storyteller out there, or the worst. You can always learn something from your fellow spinners of tales, and you can usually teach them something as well. 

16. A helpful nonfiction book or website? 
Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott is probably my favorite book about writing, and art in general. Helping Writers Become Authors by my friend K.M. Weiland is a fantastic resource as well. 

17. What do you consider one of the single most important things to remember (i.e. an attitude or technique)? 
See number 15! Humility, as always, is key. You will never reach a point where you’re so good that you don’t need to learn anymore. If you think you have, you’re holding yourself back from all kinds of good things. 

18. A word of encouragement for fellow writers? 
Don’t get in a hurry! I have to tell this to myself all the time. If you truly have a passion for writing stories, you will become published, and people will read those stories. Keep writing, keep telling those stories, look forward to the day when you can share them with people, but don’t forget to enjoy the journey along the way.

~     ~     ~

Note from Heidi: Thanks so much for sharing today, Braden! And everyone, be sure to check out Braden's blog The Storymonger.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

3 Things I Love in a Good Story // Natalie

from Natalie

1. A character I will remember 

I love stories that stick with you after I read or watch them. And usually this is because of the characters. Characters are the main drive of a story for me. If I don't like any of them, I probably won't like the story! I don't need to necessarily relate to the characters-but I want to care about them. A main character that I neither relate with or admire or feel anything positive for is not going to interest me much. 

So, whether it's wanting them to be happy in life, wanting them to succeed on their quest, wanting to see them become a better man or woman--I need characters that I will root for and cry for. There must be something in their personality and story that will not let me easily forget them. 

2. A sweet romance 

I love a romantic angle entwined somehow within the story. It should be pure, God-honoring, and memorable. I just love reading a book or watching a movie and discovering two characters that I just NEED to be together. 

I prefer the romance to be part of a larger plot, but there are stories I love that, despite various themes and plots within the story, the main focus IS on two people learning to love each other (-cough cough-most of my favorite period dramas -cough-). But I want it done well. If there's literally no plot but the two characters falling in love, it probably will not be a good story to me. 

3. A part that makes me cry 

Lastly, I love it when a book or movie makes me cry. This tells me that it touched something in me and I know I won't easily forget it (The fact that I cry easily over emotional things makes no difference!). 

Happiness, sadness, nostalgia, excitement, pity--all of these emotions can bring forth tears from me, and when they do I feel happy because the story succeeded in what should be its ultimate main goal-touching the feelings of its reader (or watcher). 

Thank you so much for having me, Heidi!

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And... would you like to share three of your favorite things in a guest post? You don’t have to be a writer to qualify! This series is by story lovers for story lovers.
For post specifics/guidelines you can see the initial post here, then send Heidi a quick email at ladyofanorien(at)gmail(dot)com. Don’t be shy. I’d love to have you!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Inkling Explorations Link-Up // October 2015

So… I’m traveling this month, but we can’t skip our Inklings, now can we?? Especially with such a splendid topic! ;)

Which is: A gypsy scene in either literature or film

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And you can probably all guess my choice... Ever After.

Specifically when the prince and Danielle go adventuring and end up joyously hobnobbing with men of the forest—men with stained leather trousers and flying fists and spinning swords and a high sense of humor. 

Men of the forest living under their own code, but recognizing and honoring true fortitude and arch ingenuity and downright courage. 

I won’t tell what they’re arguing about… or what she does… or describe what happens afterwards… but it’s momentous. ;) 

Because it gets better. Much better. 

There’s this entire following scene… which, yes, is a kissy part and soooo sweet! I don’t want to give spoilers—and I shall stick to my resolve—but if you want a little more you’re most warmly welcome to hop over and read my review here

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Finally, since this is such an exciting topic (and there’s such a rich wealth of possibilities in both literature and film) I can’t help myself—I simply have to drop a few tantalizing ideas. First off, there’s always that Certain Famous Scene in a book (and movie) we all know and love: JE by CB. Then there’s Austen’s Emma. I think Scott has some excellent scenes in Guy Mannering (at least, if I’m remembering correctly—it’s been years since I read it, which needs to be remedied). And, of course, there’s always the riveting hold-up of Prince John’s caravan in the Disney animated Robin Hood. :) 

As always, entries are open through the end of the month and remember, you can write as little or as much as you like. Have fun and I can’t wait to see what you all come up with!!

(EDIT: I apologize, but I was recently getting spam entries using my previous link system, so I've switched to a different method. Just leave your link in the comments section here and I'll happily update this post with a direct link to your entry!)

Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves @ Hamlette's Soliloquy
"I shouldn't speak to you..." @ Raindrops on Roses & Whiskers on Kittens


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!

(And note: you can visit here for blog buttons and links for previous months. :))

Up next month: A giving of thanks in poetry or prose

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