Thursday, January 23, 2014

You Might Be an English Major If...


Author's note: The following post was taken from my other, more personal blog, Life After My Bachelor's. If you like random bouts of insanity fueled by caffeine, yoga, and an unhealthy addiction to cheese, feel free to click over and follow me. On with the post!

"Yes, I'm an English major. "

"Yes, I enjoy it."

"No, I haven't been published."

"No, I don't want to teach."

Sound familiar? If you got your bachelor's degree in English, creative writing, or literature, it most definitely should. I get some pretty strange questions on a regular basis. Granted some of them come with the territory, but that doesn't excuse the ignorance I come across at times. Troublesome questions about the future, your career, and inevitable poverty that every writer is damned to experience are a telltale sign that you might be an English major.

What are some of the others?

Well, you might be an English major if...

  • you've had a crush on a literary character (GATSBY) or long-dead author (heyyyyy Fitzgerald)

  • you've written fanfiction for Jane Eyre, The Age of Innocence, or Nineteen Eighty-Four

  • the coffee shop or library is your home away from home

  • you think Coleridge's story about "Kubla Khan" is crap

  • you've contemplated getting a book quote tattoo

  • you love rereading books

  • you read classics for your own personal enjoyment

  • you have a Goodreads account

  • you're skeptical of Sparknotes

  • you understand Moby Dick but still somehow hate it

  • your blood is 80% caffeine and 20% alcohol

  • deadlines are the best inspiration

  • procrastination

  • procrastination

  • procrastination

  • you've taken a trip to a dead writer's house

  • you love smelling old books

I could go on with this list for forever. If anyone's interested, I might write more in another post down the road.

What do you think? Would you say these are accurate?

P.S. Dibs on Hemingway. Find someone else.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Where to Find Character Names


A few years ago I walked into Goodwill with the intention of purchasing a gently-used sweater. I walked out with a baby name book that made my mother raise an eyebrow.

"Is there anything we need to talk about?" she asked.

I laughed and explained to her that I was going to use it to find names for my characters. She wasn't the only one I needed to explain my purchase to. Any time I whipped out the book, my friends, coworkers, and loved ones all wanted to know what use I had for it. If you're a writer, you need several resources for character names. While a baby name book is one example, there are several other options.

A close second to the baby name book is the baby name website. The internet is full of these; they're cropping up all over the place! Some of my favorites include Behind the Name, Baby Name Voyager, and Baby Names. These sites contain lists of popular names as well as the meaning, history, and origin of them. If you don't want to go out and purchase a book, you should utilize these free resources.

Here's a tip for names that I bet you've never heard: the next time you watch a television show or a movie, pay attention to the credits. Pick a first name and combine it with a different last name. Congratulations! You've named your character!

Another great method is to take a stroll through a cemetery and pick some names off headstones. If you don't feel comfortable using names that have belonged to people, mix them up like you did with the movie credits exercise.

One of the most difficult things about being a writer is knowing what to name your characters. Hopefully these free resources can help. Happy naming!


Monday, January 13, 2014

Put Your Butt in the Chair and Keep It There


Writing is equal parts torture and pleasure. On some days, my fingers fly over the keys with a speed that surprises me. On others, it's all I can do to open my word processor, let alone put something down on the page.

Writer's block happens. It strikes without warning.

The good news is that you can do something about it.

The next time you find yourself at your wit's end, mucking about trying to find your next line, follow my advice:
Put your butt in the chair and keep it there.

No, that's it.

You heard me correctly.

The secret to writing even when you don't feel like writing is to put your butt in the chair and keep it there until you've gotten something written. You'd be surprised how inspired you become when you can't pee, eat, or go out with your friends until you've met your allotted goal.

When it comes to writing, the hardest part is getting the words from your brain to your fingers and onto the page.

Keep your butt in the chair and see what happens.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Book Review: Morning Glory by Allison Blanchard


Having read Allison Blanchard's debut novel Forget Me Not, I was thrilled to have the chance to read and review the sequel. Morning Glory continues the story of Adeline, a high school girl whose ordinary life is turned upside down when she encounters a boy named Cole and his native traditions. Blanchard's new novel is the perfect blend of depth, drama, and romance. Her stellar cast of characters, dedication to narrative, and attention to detail make Morning Glory an even greater success than Forget Me Not. This book is fantastic.

Fans of the first novel's protagonist Adeline will not be disappointed by her portrayal in this sequel. Blanchard stays true to Adeline's character throughout this novel, and I had a difficult time finding anything that did not feel true to character. My other two favorites, Cole and Emma, are given an equally respectful treatment. The relationships established in the first novel are deepened and explored further in this sequel. Because fiction is about people, I loved Blanchard's depth of characters and exploration of family, friendly, and romantic relationships throughout her new book.

Another quality that makes this sequel worth reading is Blanchard's dedication to the established narrative. Blanchard reminds the reader of the legend established in Forget Me Not while adding details that enhance the realism of the mythology. She also does an excellent job of keeping up with her characters' histories and backstories (I'd like to know how she does it because I could use a few pointers).

With a whole mythology to look after, it's impressive that Blanchard does not slack off when it comes to her attention to detail. As with the backstories, Blanchard makes certain that every part of the legend exists for a reason--that is, every seemingly-insignificant detail coincides with something that happens in the story. Nothing happens unless it needs to. This level of attention is something that I have the utmost respect for.

My only complaint about the novel? At times, it seemed that there was too much convenience. Certain events felt contrived rather than inevitable. Without giving too much away, I had a hard time believing the identity of the man who pulled Adeline from the river. Even then, Blanchard did her very best to convince me, which is why I am reluctant to list this single grievance.

This sequel is as good as, if not better than, its predecessor. I enjoyed every second of the book and found it difficult to put down. If you loved Forget Me Not, or if you're in the market for a new kind of paranormal romance, you need to check out Blanchard's work.

You can purchase Blanchard's debut novel on Amazon. She also has a blog that you can view here.

Want me to review your book? Comment or send me an email! I'd love to get in touch with you.

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