"I am not the real Dread Pirate Roberts"

Oh how my grandmother would have smiled had she been here. I am told that she was the sort of person who would go grocery shopping, strike up a conversation with a total stranger, and then invite them back to her house for tea (and possibly oreos). I am not an extrovert, in that respect I do not take after my Grandma Gwen. However, venturing out upon this adventure I have taken into the realm of publishing is a quest which requires an extroverted personality. I’d like to tell you a story, a delightful story and real-life quest, that I got to be a part of recently.

“Regarding your grandmother. Dear Mme. Schmidt.”

This was the beginning of an email I received a few months ago.

“People don’t talk that way anymore, Ben.”
“No, but they think that way.” (National Treasure)

I was intrigued by the subject line, though I didn’t recognize the email address. I opened the email and read further. The email was from a gentleman who had read a short story back in 1958, written by a Gwen Walker. The short story, titled “The Ordeal of Lady Godiva,” had so charmed him when he first read it, that he kept an eye out for other works by this author. So it was, that when I had He Whistles for the Cricket published this past Christmas, he noticed and was led a merry chase around the interwebs until he happened across my blog, the story of how I had typed up and published my grandma’s book for her, as well as my email address.

Hoping to find more information about an author he admired, as well as charmed by the idea of my family working together to publish a book (my typing up my grandma’s book, my sister-in-law painting the cover art) he emailed me. He inquired whether or not  this was the same Gwen Walker who had written “The Ordeal of Lady Godiva” and, if so, whether I could provide him with more information about her, why she hadn’t written more, and if I could send him copies of her book. He also wanted a copy of my book so that he could compare writing styles.

Having never heard of “Lady Godiva” I did a little more research (asked around my family members) and emailed him back, regretfully informing him that my grandmother was not, in fact, the author he was looking for. I figured that was the end of it.

However, this gentleman is a great lover of the written word (he owns over 2000 books… and I thought my 400+ books was a vast collection!) He is also in the possession of two books by friends who are unable to publish their own works – thus my story of how I had published my grandmother’s book intrigued him beyond idle curiosity. He purchased a copy of He Whistles for the Cricket, and asked for my book as well, which I gladly sent to him. In return, he sent me a copy of the short story that had started him on this quest: “The Ordeal of Lady Godiva.”

After reading this delightful short story, I am convinced that the Gwen Walker who wrote this story and my own Grandma Gwen could have been “kindred spirits” as Anne would say. It is sweet and funny and I enjoyed it greatly! I can see why it would send a person on a quest to find more stories by the same author. Anyone who has ever read a truly fantastic story can understand the desire to read more from the same author, even if the next story is not about the same characters.

Hope you enjoyed today’s post!

~ jenelle

The Importance of Fantasy

I wrote a while back about why I prefer to write fantasy. You can read that post here

Today’s post is by another blogger (and a friend of mine). She puts it quite beautifully, so I asked if I could link to her post and she gave her permission. You can read what she wrote here.

Isn’t that lovely? I love the G.K. Chesterton quote she included (if you didn’t read her post, you won’t know what I’m talking about).

Hope you had a great weekend! See you next week.

~ jenelle

Featured Artist Friday: Brynna Gabrielson

This week’s featured artist is from all the way across the “pond” Brynna Gabrielson, author of Starkissed a Young Adult romance novel.

Here are some links to her book on goodreads, amazon, kobo, and smashwords

You can find out more about Brynna and her writing on her website or on facebook

Blurb about Starkissed:
Kissing movie star Grant West may be every teenage girl’s dream, but when it happens to Sydney Kane, it’s nothing but a nightmare. Sure he’s cute, but having her face plastered all over celebrity gossip blogs is not something she’s interested in. Now cheerleaders are trying to befriend her, reporters won’t stop calling, and her mother keeps chasing her with a curling iron so she won’t be caught by the paparazzi with flat hair ever again.

Forgetting Grant is all Sydney wants and Colin, the guy she’s had a crush on since seventh grade, seems like a pretty good way to do it. Then Grant shows up at Sydney’s door begging for a second chance and the more she gets to know him, the more she isn’t sure she wants him to go away. But with Grant in the picture, Colin is backing off and she definitely doesn’t want that. Everything is a mess and Sydney doesn’t know what to do, who to choose, or how to make those pesky cheerleaders leave her alone. She only knows one thing for sure, being STARKISSED isn’t a dream come true at all.

1. When and why did you start writing?

Writing was something I always loved growing up. Granted my skills at plot structure or character development were a bit awkward, but I can remember when I was maybe 11 or 12 starting a novel about myself and Seth Green falling in love. Granted I never finished this masterpiece in the making, but I used to spend hours at my computer typing away, pouring the worlds in my head onto paper (or the word processor). Not every story involved love affairs with Seth Green of course, sometimes there were vampires (I was really into Buffy the Vampire Slayer) or witches or cute boys from school. It wasn’t until I was 17, though, that I started to take writing really seriously. At that point I was in my senior year of High School and I’d applied to do a degree in Tourism. But then in second term I started a Creative Writing class and it felt right. It was exhilarating and fun, and within weeks I’d pushed Tourism aside and applied to do a Bachelor of Arts degree at my local university, majoring in Creative Writing.

2. Why did you choose to write in this genre?

I love YA books and I firmly believe that some of the best literature out there is Young Adult. YA books have this amazing ability to absorb their readers on a different level than general fiction. They’re relatable and inspiring. On the whole YA readers are more passionate and excited by the books they read. It’s awe inspiring. As for the actual writing for Young Adults, it’s always come naturally to me and I just love writing about teenagers. It’s a tumultuous time in anyone’s life and everything is so much more dramatic and exciting, there are so many possibilities. It’s invigorating and makes writing so much fun. And also, to be honest, I think there is a teenage girl permanently trapped in my brain.

3. What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous?

I used to read all this advice from writers where they’d say – don’t take writing degrees in university, it’s something you can learn on your own etc. To be honest though, I think it’s a load of bull. Writing may be founded upon natural talent, but taking classes helped me become a far better writer. I learned not to just create stories, but how to develop them and shape them. I learned how to workshop with other writers and take and give critiques, and in that I learned how to recognize the flaws in my own work. It helped me grow so much  and even though I still continue to learn,  those years at university were the best thing that happened to me as a writer. So to any writer out there who is feeling nervous or doesn’t know where to begin – take a class, or in the very least, join a writing group and learn to workshop with other writers.

4. Describe your process for writing/completing a novel?

I’m one of those writers who plans things out. I can’t just come up with an idea and press go in my brain. I have to think about it, endlessly. I have to see exactly where each element of the story will take me and why. I need to know the end before I can make the beginning work. So I create outlines and goals and fill notebooks with ideas. I’m both incredibly organized and completely disorganized at the same time when I do this, so I have no true structure to my writing process. But to get from A to Z, I have to figure out B through Y.

5. What is the best part about writing?

Those moments when you’re in the middle of a manuscript and the words just start pouring out of you so fast, it’s almost too hard to get them all down. Those moments where you’re so inspired it just feels like the story you’re writing is gushing from you. I love that. I love seeing the worlds I created in my head come to life on paper. It’s so exciting and satisfying.

6. What is the hardest thing about writing?

I never feel done. No matter how many times I go over a draft I always feel like I need to do more, fix more, change more. Starkissed is the first novel I’ve published, and even now I’m sitting here wondering if I should have changed one thing or the other. It’s ridiculously hard to let go and just let it be.

7. What is your favourite thing you have written? Why?

In my last year at university I wrote a small piece for my non-fiction class. In it I essentially embodied myself at 15 and wrote all these letters to my favourite actors or musicians at the time. It was a comedy piece and when I submitted it for class it got fantastic feedback. So I decided to submit it to my school’s literary journal and it was accepted. Every year the journal holds a launch party and they ask those who are published in the journal if they’d like to read. I signed up and went in front of a room full of my peers and professors, not to mention a ton of people I’d never met before and read it. I was barely a paragraph in and the room was in stitches laughing, and they continued throughout the whole piece. It was amazing hearing people responding in such a way to something I had written, and to this day that piece remains my favourite!

8. Who would you most like to thank for their involvement in your writing career?

The one person I would love to thank, is the one I can’t. My mom died nearly four years ago. Even though she’s gone, she’s the reason I am where I am today, doing what I love. She always encouraged me and supported me and made me believe in myself. She was my best friend and she gave me the courage to be who I am, and to go for my dreams. Now I’ve published a novel, and maybe it’s not the way I always wanted it to happen, but people are out there reading my book and I have no regrets. I’m living my dream, being a writer, because my Mom told me I could.

9. What is the most fun thing about writing?

I think that goes back to the earlier question about my favourite thing I’d written, because the reason I love that piece so much is because I got to see how much people enjoyed it. More than anything, I love sharing my work with people and it’s the best feeling in the world when you know they like what you’ve created. I love to make people laugh and smile, and seeing something I’ve done make them do that is amazing.

10. What is the most boring thing about writing?

Proofreading. In all fairness, I love proofreading and for the most part I’m really good at it. Except when it comes to my own work. I can proofread other people’s work no problem, but for my own,  I can’t create the separation I need from the material in order to spot the glaring errors, so it’s a difficult task. Because it’s so hard, in order to get my manuscripts in their top condition I have to go over them repetitively which can be time consuming, exhausting, and yes, very boring. I proofread STARKISSED at least 6 times! I probably didn’t catch every error, but I caught most I think. It would probably make sense to hire someone to do the task for me, but at this point in my writing career the cost just isn’t feasible. Perhaps next novel though!

Thank you, Brynna, for taking the time to answer these questions!

~ jenelle

Featured Artist Friday: Kristen Day

Today for Featured Artist Friday we have Kristen Day, author of Forsaken: a daughters of the sea novel
Also available on nook
Check out her blog

1.  Which authors do you admire?  Why?
I admire all poets because they can capture so much meaning in so few words.  But if I had to pick one author that I admire the most it would be Sylva Plath.  I know that may seem a little odd, but I love how her mind works.  She was never the most stable or sane person, which I believe made the great writer she was.  She was able to see the world in a completely different light and I strive to do the same.  That’s why people read.  To escape into a world that is completely different than our own.  
2. What inspires you to write?
I don’t so much as get inspired to write as I have to write in an effort to not have my head explode.  Against my better judgment, my mind is constantly churning out crazy ideas, quotes, and ways of describing my surroundings.  I love words – everything about them.  Some people play with recipe ingredients, others play with fabrics or colored pencils; I play with words. 

3. What is your process for writing/completing a novel?
My process for writing can be described as a beautiful disaster.  I come up with the general idea of the subject; and then decide on the setting and characters.  I spend a lot of time on the characters before I ever type a word of the novel.  Once I give them their own personality, habits, quirks, and dreams – they tend to create the story for me.  I then regurgitate the entire story from my mind to the paper.  Next, I add descriptors, inner dialogue, and small details.  The third go round involves me and my best friend: a thesaurus.  It’s a pet peeve of mine to have the same word in a chapter too many times.  It’s just unfair to all of the other words waiting in the wings, really.  Next, I re-read the entire book and make sure I am happy with each scene.  I strive for the readers to feel a certain emotion in each scene, so if I get a different emotion than I intend – chances are they will too.  Last but never least, I send it to my editor Stacy and she adds her magic touch.
4. What is the best part of writing?
The best part of writing is when you are completely finished with a story or novel.  It’s a feeling of personal accomplishment like no other.

5. What is the hardest thing about writing?
The hardest thing about writing is being distracted by those much less important things like sleep, eating and going to the bathroom.

6. What is the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself through your writing? 
I’ve learned that seeing the world differently is an asset, not a liability.
7. Describe your ideal place to write.
My ideal place to write would be a cozy room, with soft string lights to give it a warm, enchanting glow.  It would have a bay window with lots of pillow so I could also see outside. 

8. How do your ideas come to you?
I’ve always been a visual person with a incredibly, vivid imagination.  I have a hard time seeing anything without thinking about how I could add my own twist, stamp of quirkiness, or crazy additions.  It’s as simple as seeing a piece of discarded wood and seeing it morph in my mind until it becomes a beautiful piece of distressed wall art with a little paint and a lot of love.  All of my ideas start as normal every day things, stories, or concepts; but when I open up my mind and let it run, they suddenly have a life of their own and I just hold on for the ride. 

9. What is your favorite thing you have written?  Why?
My favorite thing I’ve written is a poem about the color red I wrote in second grade.  That’s when I fell in love with writing.

Thank you, Kristen!

~ jenelle