Juggling School and Writing: Part 3

Hello Lovely Readers,

I have been absent from here and my Facebook page recently. Part of that is because I spent nine days recent in Costa Rica for a school trip.

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Writing on the beach in Costa Rica

The other piece is that school is coming to a close so I have papers and projects to do. But I am back down and really excited for this post. Today, I am talking about my support network in regards to tackling college and writing.

I am beyond blessed when it comes to support. My family (both immediate and extended) are always there for me, supporting me in all my endeavors. My gramma wanted to be a writer at one point, so she always gets so excited when I talk about my writing. Both of my grandpas have read a very early manuscript of my first book and kindly provided grammatical corrections. When I attempted to do a KickStarter, they all supported me and told all their friends about it.

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My mom, my gramma, and me on college visits

I would not be where I was without my family’s encouragement and support. My parents and siblings are also super supportive. My oldest brother regularly tells me how cool the things I am doing, whether writing or my major. Personally, I think he’s cooler. I mean he is living in Hawaii, but we’ve agreed to disagree on that topic.

 

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Me and one of my biggest cheerleaders

It is late night (or early morning) conversations with my brother that reminds me that everything I am doing is because I love doing it.

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Me and my other brother

My little brother is a source of constant support and humor. In reality, he is the person who most inspired Anthony. It was my brother’s huge heart and desire to help everyone that shaped Anthony.

I also wouldn’t be anywhere without the support of my two best friends. These people listened to my crazy ideas when I was first starting to write seriously, and encouraged me to pursue my dreams. Several times, I subjected them to the horror of reading some of my early writing. (Let’s just say that those things will never be removed from the shelf.)

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Both my model for Odessa and my first reader/content editor

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All of these people are instrumental in supporting me in my writing journey, but you all are probably asked, what does this have to do with time management. So these people are all the people who are outside the writing roles. Their support roles range from encouragement to brainstorming to reminding me to also focus on schoolwork (Thanks, mom!). But they don’t help me juggle my writing and my school work.

Enter a lovely group of teen/young adult writers! Probably about five years ago, I discovered a group of young writers on Facebook called Go Teen Writers! At first I wasn’t so sure. They all seemed to be a lot more into writing then I was and at times I had a hard time keeping up with their jargon and these things called word wars that they did. Little did I know that when I started college that these word wars would become my lifeline to my writing world.

I discussed briefly in my first post of this series how I used writing to help destress me, but there were times during school were I wasn’t super stressed so I wasn’t writing as much. My Go Teen Writers facebook page hosted word wars. It was a good encouragement for when I wasn’t do anything for school to sit down and write for a solid twenty or thirty minutes. It was with the support of these fellow writers that I was able to grow as a writer and finish not one but three books in less than four years. While these books aren’t published yet, they would not have existed without the encouragement from these group of writers.

The most important lesson about writing that I’ve learned in my three years so far as a college student is that a support system of like minded people is key. While we all are doing different things it life, it is still beyond helpful to know that I can hop onto facebook and there will be someone else who is willing to help me or support me in my writing.

I hope you all have enjoyed this short series of juggling writing and school. Leave any questions you have below.

Until next time,

Bethany

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Juggling Writing and School: Part 2

IMG_1323Hello lovely readers,

I want to apologize for being rather late on this post. The irony is that I’m writing several posts on juggling writing and school, and these last two weeks school took over my life. Thanks for you patience. Anyways, I seem to be over the hump and am flying towards the end of my semester. So today, we have two of my fellow writing friends with us. In my first post I talked about ways I juggled writing and school. I wanted to make sure that you guys got to hear from other people to who may have other strategies. Anyways, my lovely friends, Jessica and Lauren, kindly answered some questions I had about them juggling writing and school.

Q: What is your favorite way to squeeze in writing while attending college?

Jessica: My favorite way to squeeze in writing in college is to make sure it’s the first thing I do every day. That means that if I have to work at 7am, my alarm goes off at 5am, and I write for an hour. This suits me because I tend to lose focus and drive as the day goes on. If I get writing “out of the way” first thing, then no matter how nuts the rest of the day gets, I still got some writing done.

Lauren: When I have lighter semesters I’ll schedule a specific time to write, every day. When I have heavier semesters I will write whenever I get a moment. Before class starts, during meals, car rides, during boring lectures (shhh don’t tell anyone I said that), etc.

Q: What is a piece of advice you would give freshman you about writing while going to school?

J: I would advise a freshman writer to set aside a specific chunk of time every day to write. The earlier, the better. My freshman year, I remember that it was unpredictable how any given day might go. I really failed at keeping up with writing freshman year. I would always think, “I’ll get to it later tonight!” Then later would arrive and I’d find myself in the dormitory lobby eating pizza with my friends at two in the morning. Later never really comes! Writing has got to be now!

L: This piece of advice applies to all parts of college, not just the writing part. And that is get a planner. In it write down all of your assignments and events as well as a to do list then schedule a specific time to write. This decreases stress because you know exactly what you have to get done. It makes college a lot more manageable and finding a time to write a lot less stressful. Also, college is all about balance and sometimes you have to compromise but don’t stop writing. Some days you can write for an hour but other days you may only have a couple of minutes in between classes and that’s ok. Lastly, be careful not to burn yourself out. I’m a history major so I write a lot (and I mean a lot) of papers. Sometimes I have to take a break from my personal writing so that I don’t get burned out on writing in general. Your brain needs a break otherwise it will be a lot harder to write and the quality of your writing might decrease.

Q: What surprised you about juggling college and writing?

J: What surprised me most when college first started was how easily distracted I became. I was in love with a sparkly new lifestyle, and I could rarely bring myself to turn down social excursions in order to write. When I finally did sit down to face my projects, I was too drained to buck myself up and make any progress. Until I started making writing the first priority of my day, it was very hard for me to find time to write, not because of outside circumstances, but because of myself.

L: Writing is really easy for me to push on the back burner. I have to be very intentional about it. It’s because I do so much reading and writing for school I really do have to push myself. It’s a heck of a lot easier to watch Netflix when I have some spare time.

Q: What is the most time consuming part of writing (brainstorming, first draft, edits, etc)?

J: For me, the most time consuming part of writing is revising. I can crank out a first draft of a novel in a month or two, but I have been known to spend years ripping a story apart, writing and rewriting and adding and deleting and rearranging the whole thing. My first few drafts of revisions usually I make the story rougher than the rough draft. It takes a lot of experimentation for me to figure what actually works and feels right.

L: For me, the planning is the most time-consuming part, specifically world building. It takes me forever because I go pretty detailed and it takes me a while to think through those things.

Juggling Writing with School and Work.

Hello Lovely Readers,

Today is the end of a very long week for me, but I managed to get all my homework done with enough time to make a blog post.

For those of you who don’t know, I am currently a junior in college studying Environmental Science. I began writing in high school. My high school was really unique in that in nearly every class we were allowed to use laptops to take notes and do school work. In my history class, we regularly had assignment to write fictional stories set in a certain time period. Now, those pieces of writing will never surface again, but that really woke up my love of writing. As a high schooler, it was relatively easy to manage writing and school. I didn’t work, so after I had swim practice and all my homework was done, I was free to do whatever I wanted. Most nights that meant I wrote.

When I first went away to college, I thought it was going to be something similar. Not much was changing, if anything I was going to have more free time than I did in high school. But boy, was I wrong. For those of you not in college yet, your professor tend to forgot that you take classes outside of theirs. It was overwhelming that first semester, trying to juggle college classes, swimming on the school team, working, and finding time to write. Often times, it was much more appealing to watch Netflix, than slave over edits or first drafts of a story. Slowly, my writing time slipped away in favor of sleep, Netflix, or homework.

In the three years since then, I have learned several lessons about juggling time for writing. The most important one was that I needed to make time to write during my week even if it was just ten minutes.

In high school, writing had become a stress reliever, but I hadn’t realized how much it helped until I couldn’t do it in the same amount at college. Most of my time in class at the college level was all very analytical thinking, which I was expecting, but learning Calculus did not give much room for creative thinking. Now as a junior, on days when my brain is on overload from chemistry or botany, I can pen even just a paragraph of a story to sort out my thoughts.

I also discovered that I processed some things through my writing. Scenarios from my life would appear in my stories with either the best case or worst case outcomes. Even though they were different characters, it helped seeing the extremes of how something could end. During my freshman year, I got so caught up in my own head, that I wasn’t able to process things in an efficient way.

Another lesson that I learned was multitasking. I know that sounds funny, especially if you are someone who believes that women are always multitasking. Both college, I knew how to multitask in someways. I knew that I could eat and do homework or listen to a conversation while reading a book. But in college, I learned the ways to multitask on the computer.

By learning how to do this, I discovered the best way to find time to write. Like most college students, I enjoy watching Netflix, especially binge watching when shows get new episodes. But what I didn’t like was just sitting there and mindlessly watching a show. I felt like I was wasting time. So freshman year, I started to split my computer screen. One side would be Netflix and on the other side, I would have my current WIP (work in progress) up. I completed many words that way.

The third lesson I learned was time management. If you ask a college student what the hardest thing for them to learn, most would say time management. In high school (especially since I was an athlete), much of my day was mapped out for me. I had certain times that were for homework, practice, etc. It was fairly easy to use my allotted free time for writing.

However, college is a whole different ballgame. No one is telling you when to go to bed, when to eat, when to go to class. It is very different. Now, my freshman year was still pretty scheduled. I had practices twice a day and a full load of classes, but after five pm my nights were open. Those hours before bed were for homework and free time. Looking back as a junior, I realized that I did not have the greatest time management skills. I am still learning even now. It took me a while to get in the groove and figure out how to schedule in writing time. But eventually, I figured out how to schedule time for everything and have time left over now.

Even now carrying 22 units, I write nearly everyday. There are some weeks were no writing is done, because it is taking everything I have to just make it through those weeks. Not everyone will have the same experience as me, but it can be done.

Next week, I’ll be talking with some of my fellow Teen/Young Adult Writers (yes, I know I’m not a teen anymore, but I’ve known several of these writers since I started writing) about how they are juggling their schoolwork with their writing. The week after than, I will be talking about how community and family support played a role in writing while in college. If there are any specific questions you want answered comment and I will do my best to answer them or see if any of my friends can answer them.

Until next time,

Bethany

The Lost Girl of Astor Street Clue Hunt: Clue #5

Good morning lovely readers,

So today we have an exciting guest on the blog.  Today, we have Stephanie Morrill (one of my all time favorite authors) on the blog for an interview about writing and her upcoming book The Lost Girl of Astor Street which is on shelves today. If you follow me on Facebook, you have probably seen me post a few things about the upcoming release.

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Stephanie Morrill is the creator of GoTeenWriters.com and the author of several young adult novels, including the historical mystery, The Lost Girl of Astor Street. Despite loving cloche hats and drop-waist dresses, Stephanie would have been a terrible flapper because she can’t do the Charleston and looks awful with bobbed hair. She and her near-constant ponytail live in Kansas City with her husband and three kids.

Bethany:What got you into writing? 
 Stephanie:I’ve wanted to be a writer since first grade. My elementary school encouraged writing time and we had freedom to write whatever kind of stories we desired. Then a parent volunteer would type our stories up for us, and we could pick the color for our cover and the binding. At the end we were supposed to illustrate it (I was awful) and then read it to the class. I loved it so much, and after that I always wanted to tell stories for a living.
B:What is your favorite part of the writing process?
S:I love so many parts of the process, but probably the brainstorming part is where I have the most fun and the least hair-pulling-out moments. That’s a time when the story still feels perfect and full of potential. But I love the first draft and edits too. I even love writing my synopses!
B:Where do you get inspiration for your writing from? 
S:Like most writers, I get story ideas all the time. I’ll be at the grocery store, and I’ll overhear a bit of conversation. Or I’ll drive past a boarded up house and think about people who used to call it home. Not all the ideas stick, but a lot of times they start sticking to each other and building momentum. My initial idea for The Lost Girl of Astor Street came while I was putting away laundry, of all things. My mind was wandering (as it often does during chores), and I started thinking about different stories I like. I thought about Veronica Mars for a while, and then something triggered a thought about Downton Abbey, and I thought, “I wish there was something out there that was like Veronica Mars but in a Downton Abbey kind of setting. Oh, maybe I could do that!”
B:Do you base characters off people you know in real life? 
S:I sometimes start with people I know in real life. Or I borrow from them. My friend Kelli once told me that she hates slow dancing because she always tries to lead, and I thought, “That’s so Piper!” and put it in Piper’s mouth.
B:Why 1920s Chicago? 
 S:Because of what an interesting time and place in history it was. Prohibition opened the doors to all kinds of morality questions, and there was very little structure in place for enforcing it. So criminals grew richer and more powerful every day. They had tremendous influence in politics, and it was a very scary thing to stand up to them. There are so many interesting stories out of our country in that decade.

Stephanie’s book, The Lost Girl of Astor Street, is a definite must read for those who love historical fiction books. I’m pretty sure I read it in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down. You can get the book at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

Clue: is closer

Clue 1: Stephanie Morrill
Clue 2: Some Books Are
Clue 3: Gabriella Slade
Clue 4: Page by Page, Book by Book
Clue 5: Pens and Scrolls
Clue 6: Singing Librarian Books
Clue 7: Heather Manning
Clue 8: Annie Louise Twitchell
Clue 9: Noveling Novelties
Clue 10: Kaitee Hart
Clue 11: Classics and Craziness
Clue 12: Zerina Blossom
Clue 13: Rebecca Morgan
Clue 14: Keturah’s Korner
Clue 15: That Book Gal
Clue 16: Anna Schaeffer
Clue 17: Hadley Grace
Clue 18: Lydia Howe
Clue 19: Ramblings by Bethany
Clue 20: Matilda Sjöholm
Clue 21: Lydia Carns
Clue 22: Broken Birdsong
Clue 23 & Clue 24: The Ink Loft
Clue 25: Roseanna M. White
 

Until next time,

Bethany

World of Shadows: Review

Hey guys,

Today, we are another stop on my fellow author’s blog tour for her new book that released on December 11. I had the opportunity to read the book, World of Shadows, early, and I have to say that it was phenomenal. World of Shadows was written by my friend, Emily Rachelle.

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Born in Panama, Emily Rachelle traveled throughout the country and the world with her Air Force family. She currently attends university in Indiana, pursuing a degree in public relations. When she’s not curled up with a book or her computer, Emily loves to ride around campus on her hideously hot pink bike. Of course, if it’s raining (as it often is in Indiana), Netflix-binging and amateur art are always options. Emily is also the author of poetry collection Rain In December and Christian novella Sixteen. You can find her on her blog and on Facebook.

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In this urban fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, modern-day teenager Beila Durand is plagued by nightmares that lead her to discover – and wind up trapped in – a cursed underground world. The invisible people that live in this medieval village depend on Beila learning the truth behind their curse – and why she is the only one who can set them free.

In her quest for answers, however, all she seems to find are more questions. Where do the echoing screeching at night originate? Who is the isolated man that speaks with Beila from the shadows of his cloak? What does this New York girl have to do with any of it? And will she ever find a way back home?

Check out the book on Goodreads and Amazon

My Thoughts on the book:

For those of you who don’t know, I love reading retellings of fairy tales. When I was given the chance to read it in advance, I knew that I couldn’t resist, and the story did not disappoint.

The main character, Beila is a complex, well-rounded, and multidimensional character that was well developed throughout the book. While modeled after Belle in the original Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, she stands alone with her own personality and story. But in tradition Belle or Beila fashion, she is fascinated by the library found deep within the mysterious winding tunnels.

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The mysterious man in the cloak, nicknamed Shadow by Beila, is marked by his mysterious bits of wisdom and knowledge of the unknown curse that is plaguing the mysterious tunnels and village belonging to the invisible people. Together these two compelling character shape the core of the story.

However, my favorite character was the unique Adele, one of the invisible villagers. Emily crafted the supporting characters in a beautiful and compelling way. Prior to the book, I had never read a book that had invisible characters that were so vividly described. Interaction with the villagers were done through the eyes of Beila, and the descriptions were beautiful painting the villagers in a way that despite them being invisible I could picture what they looked like.

Emily takes a traditional story that most people grow up hearing and spins in a new and fresh way. Just when the reader thinks that they know what is going to happen next, the story turns in a new direction. In a beautiful mix of modern and medieval, the fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast takes on a refreshing new twist. I look forward to reading more from Emily Rachelle if they are anything like this book. Five out of five stars.

Don’t forget that there is a Rafflecopter giveaway.

Bethany

World of Shadows: Dream Casting

Good Afternoon my lovely readers,

Not sure about you guys but today is a rather chilly Winter day. I’m looking forward to spending the afternoon and evening doing some writing and reading some fellow author’s works. Today, we have a special treat on the blog. A good friend of mine and fellow author, Emily Rachelle, just put out her book World of Shadows. Today, she is here on the blog talking about her dream cast for her characters. I will also be posting a review of her novel on December 22 so make sure you check back in. Without further ado, my friend Emily.

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About Emily:

Born in Panama, Emily Rachelle traveled throughout the country and the world with her Air Force family. She currently attends university in Indiana, pursuing a degree in public relations. When she’s not curled up with a book or her computer, Emily loves to ride around campus on her hideously hot pink bike. Of course, if it’s raining (as it often is in Indiana), Netflix-binging and amateur art are always options. Emily is also the author of poetry collection Rain In December and Christian novella Sixteen. You can find her on her blog or on Facebook.

bookdesign596About the Book:

In this urban fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, modern-day teenager Beila Durand is plagued by nightmares that lead her to discover – and wind up trapped in – a cursed underground world. The invisible people that live in this medieval village depend on Beila learning the truth behind their curse – and why she is the only one who can set them free.

In her quest for answers, however, all she seems to find are more questions. Where do the echoing screeching at night originate? Who is the isolated man that speaks with Beila from the shadows of his cloak? What does this New York girl have to do with any of it? And will she ever find a way back home?

You can find the book on GoodReads and Amazon

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Dream Casting

Every writer I know has several moments in their writing process when they envision their story as a movie. For me, that’s the whole thing; when I write, I’m just recording a movie in my head. You’d think casting a movie would then be second nature to me. In reality, dream-casting World of Shadows is probably the hardest thing I’ve done to promote this book. I have such a clear image of every character in my mind that it’s hard to find someone who fits. But I’m here today to share a potential cast list with you!
Our first order of business is Beila’s family. At the beginning of the book, Beila is moving back into her childhood home with her father, her brother, and her sister. Beila’s dad was a tricky one to cast, but I decided on J.K. Simmons. He seems like he’d be good at a fatherly role. jk-simmons
Beila’s sister Viviann was fairly easy; Landry Bender is perfect for the girl I envisioned. She looks the part and carries herself the way Viviann would.

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Beila’s brother Damien was such a headache to cast—almost the hardest, in fact. In the book, he’s the quiet, steady, reliable older brother. There’s actually some deleted scenes in which Beila seeks him out for advice. He’s one of my favorite characters in the book, and I wanted him to be perfect. I ultimately decided on Tom Sturridge, but with the right actor I could be convinced to change my mind.

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In the tunnels, two of the most important characters Beila meets are the apparent leader Adele and her daughter Louna. Since both characters are members of the invisible village, appearance takes a secondary place in casting these parts. Personality and voice are key.
I knew the moment I began this casting experiment that I just had to have Astrid Berges-Frisbey somewhere in the cast. I fell in love with her as Syrena in the fourth Pirates of the Carribean movie, and as a French actress she embodies the spirit of the tunnel village. I did consider several other women for Adele’s part, but Berges-Frisbey had my heart before I even started. It was meant to be.
Adele’s daughter was a bit harder to figure out. So many child actors are older than I realized, and I didn’t want someone who could just pass for a young girl—I wanted this movie to be age-realistic. Eventually, I found Harshaali Malhotra. Malhotra is Indian, so not quite the person you’d expect to play the daughter of a French peasant woman, but she looks a lot like the Louna I imagined. She’s young and sweet and innocent, but she can portray the gravitas of a girl who’s lived through the experiences Louna has.

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By far the hardest role to cast was Shadow, the mystery cloaked man. I needed someone who could win readers’ hearts without fitting too easily into the usual idea of “tall, dark, and handsome.” I can’t have my character pigeonholed. I’m not sure if that’s where I landed, but it was my goal.
One of the many original inspirations for Shadow’s character was actually Alex Pettyfer, but since he was already in Beastly, I felt that option was out. Then I discovered an actor from Reign, but he played the historic prince that inspired part of my book, so I didn’t want to cast him, either. I thought I’d found my man with Mitchell Hope… who, besides lacking the maturity I wanted, turns out to play the son of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast in their Descendants franchise. Would I ever find a leading man who wasn’t already tangled up in the story?
It took me hours, but I finally determined that Nicholas Hoult was the man for the job. I loved him in Warm Bodies, and I’m so excited to see him in Equals when I get the chance. He can play unusual romantic leads and fill the heartthrob role. His characters always win my heart. I think he can achieve the aura of mystery Shadow’s portrayal would require.

Finally, Beila Durand, our leading lady. Obviously the main character is the most important role in a film. I considered dozens of actresses for this part. After much internal debate, I narrowed my options down to two ladies: Hailee Steinfeld and Ariel Winter. The decision was tough. I watched movie clips and trailers from both women’s works as well as interviews with the actresses. I love Hailee Steinfeld as a singer, and The Edge of Seventeen looks funny and original. But does she have the right personality to play Beila? I’d never heard of Ariel Winter before. It was Winter’s interviews that finally made my decision; her family relationships and her personal motivations in life showed me she was perfect for the part.

It’s highly unlikely my book would ever be a movie. Even if it did, authors rarely get a say in casting decisions when their works are translated to the screen. But writers can dare to dream. If I were making this movie, this is the cast I would choose.

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Hope you guys enjoyed having Emily as the guest blogger today. It’s been so much fun working with her on the tour. I am excited to share my thoughts on the book later this week. Make sure you check out her facebook page and blog as well as her book.

Here is a Rafflecopter giveaway for the book.