Normalcy Doesn’t Work

Hey Guys!

It’s been a while since I’ve had publication news to share, but I’m back to say my short story Kaleidoscope was published in Shift the Zine! I couldn’t have been happier to receive their email saying they accepted my work.

I’m not sure what I was expecting to come from this piece when I wrote it. It was done in one sitting, but as I reread it, I felt like it wasn’t quite right. This story was originally double in length and jumped around a lot. Before I chopped at it in the editing process, it was definitely a realistic fiction/contemporary piece.

I’ve written contemporary pieces before and I love reading them, but something about this story begged for a new genre. There was a little inkling in my brain that slowly turned into: “hey, why don’t you make Jared’s painting come to life?”

I promise you’ll understand that question once you read my story.

pexels-photo-94736Once I decided to go through with the plan, the story read easier. I cut most of the original draft and settled on an odder, more emotionally charged piece. For the main character Jared, who I’ve written before, but never in a story I submitted, he’s an artistic guy. He heals through what he creates. He takes his emotions and shoves them onto a canvas. My desire to alter the story came from the needed exploration of what Jared’s art can do for him especially after suffering from heartbreak.

This story couldn’t have been possible without the help of one of my dear friends Kristie, who created the character of Ash and through her, I have been inspired to create so many things.

If you’d like to give Kaleidoscope a read, click here, and be sure to share your thoughts with me (if you’d like), in the comments.

Xx

Megan

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Writing The Hard Stories

In order for characters to grow, they have to face hardships, have things taken from them, lose their initial opinions. As writers, we plan how this happens and are tasked with the most difficult thing: capturing this development on paper.

Writing a story isn’t easy. It takes a lot of will power, imagination, and convincing yourself that your writing doesn’t suck. Once you’ve managed to move past these qualms, you may come up against another challenge. How do I handle writing a scene that is either extremely personal or possibly triggering?

I’m a firm believer in using writing as a way of dealing with life or even escaping it. For a long time, writing was the only comfort I had. I threw my emotions onto the page no matter how much it hurt or even if the words I was putting down made no sense.  Some of the short stories that came from these moods were emotionally charged and on the dark side.

To this day, I still like to write the heavier stories, ones that are both a challenge and a release. Sometimes, I need to step away from my WIP. Other times I get lost in the mindset of my characters or the events playing out before me until hours fly by and I have to snap myself out of it. This happened a few months ago when my MC sought revenge on a group of people who kidnapped his best friend. To put it lightly, the end result wasn’t pretty nor was the mentality of the character going into the ordeal. I remember saying to myself: “These thoughts are psychopathic.” However, I finished the chapter and emerged with new questions about my MC and my capabilities as a writer.

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There’s another scene in my story about death, which I took details from a personal event that happened in my life. The chapter was depressing to say the least and I found my mood descending with every word I wrote. The good news: it’s one of my favorite chapters. The bad news: I felt every ounce of my character’s pain.

It’s a double edged sword being a writer when our characters become like people we know and grew up with. Their suffering isn’t always something we can separate from our own. I choose to dive into these emotions, using it as a current of inspiration. How I come out of the experience once I’m done writing, I figure I’ll handle later.

This method does not work for everyone. Stories can get overwhelming, personal; hit a bit too close to home. But these are also the parts of the story that connect with our readers, that make us clutch books to our chests and weep at an ungodly hour of the night. Whenever you write scenes like these, here are some tips to remember:

  1. Do your research. You don’t want to offend anyone with what you’re writing, let alone come across as ignorant. There is no such thing as too much research.
  2. Take a break. There is no reason to harm yourself while writing. If it gets too much, you can save it for another day, take a breather, listen to music, or watch your favorite show or movie. You always come first.
  3. Make sure these scenes are not included for dramatic effect, but actually advance the story and the growth of your main character. Shock value is not the best reason for including a dark scene.
  4. Understand it’s okay if it is not right the first time. That’s what editing is for. Those scenes that don’t feel right will either be polished or cut.If you’re still having trouble, Beta Readers are a great resource to see if you’ve accomplished what you set out to do.
  5. Don’t let anyone tell you not to write something. If it’s for the better of your story or even a way of dealing with what’s going on in your life, do it.
  6. Remember your readers. Writing a scene correctly and appropriately will connect you to your audience.

These scenes will always be part of our jobs as writers, but it’s how you go about them and handle yourself in the process that really matters.

Xx

Megan

Sitting Down with Rosalyn Eves

Hello Readers & Writers,

I had the pleasure of interviewing Rosalyn Eves, author of Blood Rose Rebellion due out March 28th 2017. It is the first installment of a historical fantasy trilogy. To read my review of the book, click here.

Before I kick off the interview, here is a synopsis of Blood Rose Rebellion:

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

I personally enjoyed this book and was eager to get into Rosalyn’s head about where the idea came from as well as why she chose this particular point in history for her setting.

Q1: One of the things that drew me to this book was the history alongside the fantasy. What made you pick this time period for Anna’s story?

Rosalyn: I’ve always been fascinated by the nineteeth-century—it was my favorite period to study in English literature classes, and I wrote a dissertation on nineteenth-century women’s rhetoric in the American West. I always knew the story would be in the nineteenth-century, the question was just where. Deciding to set the story in Hungary helped me narrow down the time-frame to 1847-48, the time leading up to the Hungarian revolution and a dramatic, exciting period in the country’s history.

Q2: Describe Blood Rose Rebellion in three words.

Rosalyn: Magic, romance, rebellion

Q3: Are there any traits that you and Anna share?

Rosalyn: Like Anna, I have an unfortunate habit of taking people at face value—that is, I tend to believe what people tell me about themselves, even though I’ve learned that this isn’t always accurate. Sometimes I’ve had to learn the hard way, just as Anna does.

Q4: If you could wield the powers of one Luminate group in Blood Rose Rebellion, which would you pick and why?

Rosalyn: Lucifera is my favorite order—not only do they have cool powers (flight, earth folding, portal creation), but it’s my favorite order name. All of the Luminate order names come from Latin roots—and while we now mostly associate Lucifer with the Christian devil, “Lucifer” actually means “light-bearing.”

Q5: What do you want readers to take away from your book?

Rosalyn: One of the things Anna struggles with in the book is the difference between fitting in and belonging—for all her struggles to fit in, it’s not until she stops trying to fit other people’s perceptions and embraces who she really is, that she finds her place and her tribe. I want readers—especially young readers—to know that they are enough, whoever and however they are.

Q6: Have you always enjoyed writing or was it something you grew into?

Rosalyn: I’ve always loved telling stories: my mom says when I was little, just old enough to hold a pencil, I would draw pictures of girls in dresses whose trains spilled off the page, and tell stories about them to anyone who would listen (usually my little sister). In junior high and high school, writing was something I was good at and took pride in—but it wasn’t until much later that I muscled through the real work of learning how to revise and make a story shine.

Q7: What are some of your favorite books?

Rosalyn: Oh, so many. It’s easier for me to name some of my favorite authors: Robin McKinley, Jane Austen, George Eliot, L.M. Montgomery, Lois Bujold, Leigh Bardugo, Georgette Heyer, Susanna Clarke, Megan Whalen Turner, Roshani Chokshi, Stacey Lee . . . how much time do you have? I really just love books—but especially books that marry a historical sensibility with a hint of magic. But I’ll read anything that’s good: I just read Angie Thomas’s THE HATE U GIVE, and while it has neither magic nor is it historical, it was immensely powerful.

Q8: Are there any other historical periods you want to write about in the future?

Rosalyn: I’m toying with something set in nineteenth-century England with the pre-Raphaelites, and a story in the American West. Neither of those are committed to paper yet, so we’ll see what happens!

 

Author Bio:

reves swanky seventeenRosalyn Eves grew up in the Rocky Mountains, dividing her time between reading books and bossing her siblings into performing her dramatic scripts. As an adult, the telling and reading of stories is still one of her favorite things to do. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys spending time with her chemistry professor husband and three children, watching British period pieces, or hiking through the splendid landscape of southern Utah, where she lives. She dislikes housework on principle.

Her first novel, BLOOD ROSE REBELLION, first in a YA historical fantasy trilogy, debuts March 28 from Knopf/Random House.

To keep in touch with Rosalyn and other project she’s working on, be sure to follow these links:

Website: www.rosalyneves.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RosalynEves
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rosalyneveswriter/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rosalyn.eves/

Once again, thank you to Rosalyn Eves for agreeing to be on my blog. Be sure to check out Blood Rose Rebellion and keep an eye on my blog for more book related fun.

Xx
Megan

The Importance of Sentence Structure

Hey everyone,

Both of my new projects for 2017 are underway. My YouTube channel by the name of Geektastic now has videos. I also did a heap of filming yesterday with my family. There’s a lot of good stuff coming so stay tuned.

My second project, The Inkwell Council, has completed its first manuscript critique and with permission of the lovely author, a post has been written with tips for authors to keep in mind. If you want to learn about sentence structure and creating the perfect rhythm for your story, click here.

We will be posting more tips and tricks, so keep an eye on Inkwell. Also, if you have a fantasy manuscript that needs review, don’t hesitate to email us. We will be selecting our second manuscript very soon!

That’s all for now.

Xx Megan

What You Can’t Always See – Flooded Anthology

Hello Fellow Bloggers,
vg-headshot-squareI have an important issue and person that will be featured on the blog today. Her name is Victoria Griffin and she is the creator of Flooded Anthology. The project is centered on raising awareness about brain injuries and the effects they have on one’s life. This all came about after Victoria suffered a concussion that left her unable to speak, walk, or comprehend the passage of time. She wanted to be able to use the anthology to describe the complexity of brain injuries as well as create an expansive and truthful representation. The anthology itself will be a compilation of fiction and creative nonfiction (roughly 80,000 words) for writing can sometimes do what mere facts cannot: make a person feel what it is like to have a concussion.

For this anthology to happen however, it needs the help of anyone and everyone. Whether you share the information around social media, donate to its kickstarter page or both, this project requires the support of an audience larger than just Victoria herself.

For more information, I have included an interview with Victoria below. The interview begins with a word association game, then branching out to more in depth responses about the project.

First words that come to mind when you think of Flooded?
Helpless, Afraid, Desperate
First words that came to mind when you thought of this project? 
Community, Strength, Understanding
First words that come to mind when you think of your concussion?
Dark, Stolen, Wrong
First words that come to mind when you think of writing?
Connection, Expression, Honesty
First words that come to mind when you think about your life now?
Unexpected, Fluid, Beautiful


What inspired the anthology?

In January of this year, I took a hit to the head during softball practice. I immediately felt drunk, but the next morning I had difficulty speaking and walking. My trainer assured me the symptoms would be gone within two weeks, after which the doctor assured me they would be gone within three. After four months, two ER visits, a drug overdose (caused by a neurologist who was supposed to help me), and a desperate struggle to graduate without being able to read or perform basic, everyday functions, I finally recovered.

On the surface, the concussion cost me my senior season of softball and four months of my life. But in reality, it left scars so deep, they are difficult to describe—which is what prompted me to write about the experience. When I realized there was no publication solely dedicated to brain injuries, I began to truly consider how concussion awareness is approached—with facts and statistics—and how inadequate that is.

 

What was it like to be concussed?

A brain injury is difficult to describe. I feel like I could write a thousand pages and never capture the experience. I can tell you that my mom said I sounded like a four-year-old, and my dad said my eyes were always dull and lifeless. I don’t remember the first two weeks at all, and after that I would “lose” gradually decreasing sections of time—a few days at first, then a day, then hours, and eventually minutes. When I finally gained enough strength to walk around the apartment, I would get stuck on the stairs and have to call for help. A sound as small as footsteps would send me into sensory overload attacks—which I came to call flooding—during which I would involuntarily curl into a ball and be unable to move, speak, or breathe.

Have you ever been near to drowning? Each time an attack happened, I felt like I was drowning. Getting air was more difficult than pressing through the heaviest backsquat I’ve ever attempted. And each attack lasted hours.

Still, all I’ve really described is the physical. Can I explain to you what it feels like to lose your mental capabilities? To lose your language? To not be able to understand words spoken to you? To feel paranoia so strong you can’t look anyone in the eye? To lose your emotions, so that all you feel are the artificial sadness and fear induced by the injury and medication?

What could someone who has never experienced a brain injury gain from reading Flooded?

The anthologflooded-logoy is not simply for survivors. While it will certainly be an outlet for them to express their personal realities, they are actually the group of people who (as readers) need the anthology the least.

When I realized I was concussed, my first reaction was to try to hide it because I knew I would be benched. What if I had read an anthology like Flooded? What if I had known what could happen to me? I was lucky. I walked away from my brain injury with no permanent damage, and my poor decision early on did not negatively affect the outcome. But it could have. And for many, it does. Reading an anthology like Flooded may help others to make better decisions in such a situation.

If you have not experienced a brain injury, you might in the future. Or a family member or close friend might, and they will not be able to tell you what they’re going through, not until it’s over. What if you had the opportunity to gain insight into their struggles? I know my friends and family would have leapt at the thought of learning anything about what was happening inside my body and mind.

Concussions don’t just happen to athletes. They happen after a fall or a car accident. They are a part of life that needs to be addressed in literature. At the very least, gaining empathy for another’s pain and struggles makes you a better, more understanding person. Who doesn’t need that in their life?

How did your concussion change your life?

The concussion completely altered the course of my life, directly and indirectly. Because of it, I wound up discovering a new passion—freelance editing. But the most significant result of the injury is its impact on my perspective and my worldview. I now have a much deeper understanding of the sorts of challenges some people face every single day—those who struggle with depression, anxiety, and learning disorders.

I also have an incredibly deep-rooted appreciation for the people in my life. We all know that extreme situations bring out the best and the worst in people. I saw people behave in ways I never would have expected. I saw true cruelty, to a degree I didn’t believe people to be capable of, not from strangers but from people who had been in my life for years.

But I also saw extreme compassion and sacrifice. I saw a few friends and family members put their lives on hold to make sure I made it through. From driving across the country to staying with me when I was afraid of what might happen during the night, I can never repay those amazing people, but I will spend the rest of my life trying. And now, I consider of every person in my life, would they be the one to make sure I kept breathing when an attack hit? Or would they be the one to step over me and leave me alone?

Becoming A Part Of Flooded

If writers want to be a part of Flooded, they can submit pieces via Submittable starting November 15th and ending February 28th. After the Kickstarter event is over, details about submissions will be available at victoriagriffin.net. Anyone can submit; you do not need to have suffered a brain injury or know someone who suffered a brain injury. The anthology is dedicated to awareness, education, and welcoming writers of all ages, skill level, races, genders, and backgrounds.

For the anthology to happen, Victoria is using Kickstarter which is an all-or-nothing crowdfunding platform. If there is even a dollar short of the goal, the money raised is not received. For that reason, Victoria has set both a bare minimum and target budget to fund the anthology. The budget will cover cover art, design, interior layout, Submittable fees, editing and proofreading, promotion, and contributor payment and copies.

Rewards for Supporting Flooded

all-rewards

How can you help?

Spreading the word is key. Share a link to the Kickstarter page on social media. Tell your friends and family. Help us to turn this project into a movement. And of course, you can visit the Kickstarter page yourself, and pledge to support the project. 

Conclusion

So with that I encourage everyone to please help out this amazing expression of creativity and awareness. It was why I personally signed up to join the blog hop – to support Victoria and this anthology. Let us make Flooded a reality.

Xx

Megan

 

Why You Should Read YA

Hello bloggers!

Today I present to you the second installment in my YA Series. The introductory post can be found here. However, this was not written by me, rather by a wonderful guest writer, R. K. Brainerd. She tackles the idea of why YA needs to be read and the parallels between being a teenager and literature. Without spoiling too much, I bring you the guest post!

 

Forget Why You CAN Read YA; Here’s Why You Should

pexels-photo-largeYoung Adult literature is probably the most popular genre-slash-age-group section out there today. You can find nearly any genre, theme, or issue presented in YA style, from quick, fun reads to solemn, heart wrenching stories.

Yet YA gets a lot of flack. I won’t talk about the overused example that starts with a T and ends with vampire, but many people use it as their prime example to reduce YA to a genre of whiny teenage heroes and crappy love interests. Or, heaven forbid, that YA itself is destroying ‘higher’ literature in the name of stroking teenage egos in what they want to read.

I think when most people remember being a teenager, they remember only the drama and excess hormones. So let’s delve into teenage stereotypes.

 

Teenagers are dramatic and self-centered.

These pivotal years are key in self-identity. Teenagers constantly change, almost daily, both body and mind. There are constant questions of identity, society, and belonging. It’s scary, it’s often intense, and a lot of times it feels like the end of the world.

*cue stereotypical dramatic teenage voice*

But guess what this means?

Teenagers are often philosophers.

All of this time spent asking these questions means as lot of time spent inward thinking. Think of the popular YA books on the shelves today: you’re going to find them dealing with big subjects like life and death, gender issues, race, sexuality, what society should look like, corrupt governments – the list is endless. Sure, teenagers have a tendency to see in black and white, which will be tempered as age brings wisdom. But with the genre that is both aimed at and written as teenagers, this means that YA as a genre is often trying to tackle the deep issues of life and living.

 

Teenagers are rebellious.

Teenage-hood is also a period of rejection: rejection of parent’s views, societal views, peer views – even while there’s a desperate search of belonging, it’s a time of further questioning of upbringing and norms.

This means that typically, YA as a genre is pioneering. They deal with issues before they’re ‘comfortable’ to be addressed in adult literature. The easiest issue to point out currently is literature addressing being gay or transgender, particularly in areas where it is forbidden or dangerous to be so. Furthermore, YA stylistically pushes forms, such as writing in verse, or written as emails, online journals, and fan-fiction.

Sure, something might all be silly in the end, but rebellion is how we challenge norms and seek being better.

 

Teenagers are learning.

Let’s be real, we’re all still learning. We learn lessons about self, the world, other people, until the day we die. But the teenage years are so hyper-focused on this learning reality that the YA genre becomes steeped in it.

Even as adults, YA literature can bring us back to that time of hyper-learning, where we can question. It reminds us to learn, to think, to dream. It lets us feel that again.

 

Teenagers are insecure.

With all of the questions of life, it’s hard to be secure about anything. In YA literature this results in the opposite occurring: YA is overwhelmingly about empowerment. Think of almost any YA novel – in the end, the hero wins. They defeat the villain and save the world, making it a better place. At the very least, even if much is lost, the world is ultimately just a little better.

We could all use a little empowerment in our lives.

 

With all of this in mind

Even while YA often presents in rebellious, dramatic ways, it’s also typically fun and fast to read. YA characters generally have strong voices that are easy to connect with and really get in the character’s head (maybe because a majority of it is written in first person).  This makes YA very accessible, no matter the reader.

There are – of course – many other age groups of literature that deal with deep issues of life and living while teaching in pioneering ways. And, of course, there are the bad apples of YA. In the end, YA, like all the others, is inhabited by masterpieces, fun reads, and crappy literature.

But the greatest stories are the ones that touch our deepest selves, where child meets adult, and we dream in our hearts. YA succeeds because it is able to connect child to adult (after all, this is what teenage-hood is all about).

In the end, YA literature is about touching readers in a way accessible to everyone. And it’s in this way that it can and should be read across all ages, where we can be reminded of our inner selves, be empowered, learn, and remember the importance of rebellion and life’s biggest questions.

 

About The Author:

R. K. Brainerd writes YA and NA in the realm of fantasy, usually with a speculative element. She’s been making up stories since the day she realized she could, and is making her first foray into the published world. She blogs about this and more at awakedragon.wordpress.com, tweets random and helpful things as @awakedragon, and regularly posts pictures of goats on Instagram as Rkbrainerd.

A Little Sprinkle of Horror

“What is one thing Megan cannot do?”

If you ask my family and friends, they will reply with, “Watch horror movies.” With Halloween creeping around the corner, I know many readers will gasp in disbelief at this, but I must admit the truth. I can watch movies with gore in it, depressing and dark features, but present me with jump-scares or the supernatural and I am calling it quits. My adult self has not bit the bullet and faced my fear because it would probably end with me hiding in my room for weeks on end.

The irony of this all is my short story that has been released today by Fantastia Divinity Magazine is in fact a horror story.

DUN! DUN! DUN!

There are no ghosts or demons, but I did write this with an eerie feel in mind. The story was inspired by one of my best friends while we were doing a little exploring at a field near our homes. The entire area was and still is being built up and remade for guests: a circus for families, gardens that can be rented out for anyone wanting to take up a hobby, even an ice skating rink. The construction workers have not made their way through the entire field just yet so there are still buildings that require serious redoing, including abandoned air hangers.

Seeing them up close was creepy. Having my best friend and I spout ideas about a story taking place in them was even creepier. However, that night I came home and the story wrote itself. There was a brief intermission I took on the piece to work out some last minute details as well as write other things, but last year it was finished, edited, and shipped out.

It was odd for me, who dabbles in endless Fantasy and Sci-Fiction, to take on a different genre. I never expected it to happen, but I will not protest my muse when it wishes to get something done. I think a large appeal behind writing the story was having the ability to take a place from my life and tweak it with my imagination. I didn’t have to make up a setting. It was already available for me to play with. The rest of the details filled themselves in.

If you’re interested in checking out the story, which is called Unreturned, it can be found here. A kindle version will be uploaded within a few days which I’ll be sure to place here too. For a spookier experience, I’ve attached a picture of the actual air hangar. Happy reading.

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Xx

Megan