My phenomenal, talented writer friend has a blog now. And it’s about #hairspiration from Pintrest. Check her out for easy, straightforward tutorial! <3 Share the love!
Originally posted on Cube Chic:
So my very first hairstyle tutorial is called the Tuck and Cover. You only need two things. A headband and Bobby pins.
I also use some hair products but they aren’t exactly necessary if you prefer to go without. This hair style is super quick. It takes about 10 minutes to create the style. As you’ll see throughout my posts I always try to get as much ready as possible the night before. That’s one of the things I love about this hair style it looks great even if you sleep on it.
So that being said, you probably want to pick a headband that not only matches your outfit, but is not likely to poke you in your sleep.
Step 1. Is to wet your hair. I recommend this but you can do it even if your hair is dry. I like to add mouse so that my hair…
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Every writer has done it at one point or another. Even without meaning to, we all imagine what it would be like to see our story, our characters, our heart on the big screen. It typically happens after the book is out in the world, published and gathered a following, but for me the daydream came after I shared my completed work with a very trusted friend. With at least 30 books being made into movies just in 2014, it’s not uncommon to consider a book potentially being made into a movie after its completion. IF you climb your way onto the NY Times list or achieve fangirl/fanboy status with a large enough demographic (the two things aren’t mutually exclusive) because both will ultimately lead your book(s) down the path to Hollywood greatness.
While visiting family for Christmas, some inquired thoughtfully about what plans I had with the manuscript now that I’m nearing the completion of my Master’s degree. Besides asking about the title, subject, etc. of the book, they were anticipating on my novel being so popular that it could be the next Hunger Games. I’d like to point out here that this is not my goal. The Hunger Games are phenomenal movies, and based off of stellar YA books, but my plans or writing is never in attempt to be the next “whoever”. Sure, Dollhouse Daughter is YA and it has elements of fantasy much like the book to movie versions making waves in the box office. However, that wasn’t my original intentional. I wrote Cassie’s story (and Marge’s) because they deserved a chance to be heard.
And yet, the thought of seeing my story on the big screen is thrilling. My characters, my funny bits of dialogue spoken by actors trying to capture the same essence I wrote into the book. It would be an accomplishment beyond my furthest expectations.
Now that the book is nearly finished (pending revisions/epilogue) I want to share my inspirations and casting choices if the powers that be would decide my book should be made into a movie. Please note, some characters will have both inspirational photos and popular actors shown while others have inspirational photos only. In addition, the choices are almost exclusively made in regards to physical descriptions. So, without further delay, I give you:
Cassandra Brooks-13 years old
Inspiration-This was the first picture I found that reminded me of what my brain had conjured for Cassie. It’s nowhere near exact, but the white blonde hair, bright, clear eyes, and a simple beauty of budding pubescence. The actress was found on New Faces, where most of the “inspirational photos” listed in this post have come from, and provided a foundation for what was cooking in my brain.
Hollywood-Elle Fanning is my choice for Cassie. She has a sweet demeanor and an innocence that fits perfectly for the personality of Cassie. And as fate would have it, I’ve found a photo of her wearing a summer romper similar to the one I imagined Marge dressing Cassie in Chapter 5.
Mita Lachman-13 years old
Inspiration- I found this girl, I think on New Faces also, but I’m not sure. She was actually the exact image of who I expected Cassie’s bff to be even down to the red bindi on her brow. I haven’t found a Hollywood comparison, but we’ve got some time considering the book hasn’t even been published. Maybe I should be thinking Bollywood instead of Hollywood for the actress choice. I didn’t want to make her stereotypical for someone of Indian descent, but I absolutely adore the Bollywood and more traditional Persian fashion that it was impossible not to include a character as straightforward as Mita.
Marge (Bristler) Brooks-45 years old
Inspiration-This one was difficult. Finding the right look for Marge was a careful blend of strong, feminine features and crazy eyes. The actress found fit most of the description I wanted: strong, angular cheeks with eyes that command attention and wavy light hair that could have easily been teased and out of control when she was younger.
Hollywood-This choice was even more difficult, but my good friend mentioned at the beginning of the post came to my rescue. During our discussion of premium A-list actresses to take on the demands of a narcissistic, obsessive compulsive mother whose defining moment in her personality was finally beating her mother (both physically and emotionally) into submission. Glenn Close is perfect for the role. After villainous characters such as Cruella De Vil or Claire from The Stepford Wives, Glenn Close is uniquely qualified to play my deranged Marge.
Henry Brooks- 43 years old
Inspiration-This actor from New Faces captures the roughness I was hoping to express with Henry. His history of working in the coal mines hardened him in a way. He even kept the disheveled look even after he was promoted to a project manager position (cozy office job) almost as a physical manifestation of the difficult marriage with Marge. And yet there are times where he is allowed to show emotion when it comes to Cassie and his father. I think the combination of these physical descriptions and emotional experiences will make Henry a pleasing character for the audience.
Hollywood- Jason Bateman. Good looking, talented, and capable of the hardened, stoic persona that Henry gives off while also managing to be heartfelt and utterly adorable when needed. Other than that, there’s not much else I could ask for. Just put Jason Bateman in some flannel and work boots and give him a slight Pennsylvanian accent and he’s perfect.
Nathan Brooks-21 years old
Inspiration-Like most of the inspirational photos, I found this fellow at New Faces, and for the life of me never wrote down the names. Yet, he captures the gorgeous perfection I wanted for the Brooks golden boy. His hair naturally brown, but dyes it black after meeting girlfriend Miranda who requires a specific “look” for her boyfriends.
Hollywood-From Switched at Birth and Once Upon a Time, Matt Kane is a prime model of male physique to play Nathan. He, in all honesty, doesn’t require much in the way of acting prowess. He’s just a regular 20-something who’s trying to get along with his family while also trying to separate himself and grow up.
Now that we’ve covered the main characters before the Brooks move to Georgia (spoilers, I know), I wanted to show case some of the more prominent characters in the rest of the story.
Starting first with my antagonists, Jessica and Clarence O’Donnell. Enter two perfect specimens of Southern grooming, accentuated by lots of money and encouragement from society to be the best out of everyone. And then add one, uncomfortable, slightly introverted, neglected young girl (Cassie) to the mix and you have instant teenage drama.
Jessica O’ Donnell- 16 years old
Jessica didn’t have an inspiration to begin with, so I ended up finding her Hollywood match from the start. Bella Thorne is perfect…literally. Cassie refers to Jessica as a Barbie in her internal dialogue, which can only accentuate Jessica’s perfection. This picture to the left is as close as I could get to what I thought she’d look like. My only change would be to lighten Bella’s hair to a fair, strawberry blonde. And the eyes. Both Clarence and Jessica have the same shade of blue eyes, so we’d have to affix both Thorne and Brodie-Sangster with different colored pupils. No biggie in the way of movie magic.
Clarence O’Donnell- 13 years old
Now onto Clarence, who by the picture (above right) was an adorable young boy in my mind, and perfect for my leading lady to fall for, right? Who doesn’t expect a YA book to movie to have a teen heartthrob that the main character struggles with at first and then grows to love within the confines of the film. And that’s what makes Clarence so clever. Teen heartthrob is a must, and so when it came to choosing the Hollywood actor for my book to movie version, I wanted someone heartthrobby enough to capture the hearts of young movie-goers, but able to crush their hearts with his arrogance (acting). Thomas is perfect for it. His work in Doctor Who as a bratty school boy is an ideal foundation for Clarence.
Next is a much more positive character– Jean Abellard. 27 years old. Caretaker. Haitian. Friend. Lover. He’s the kind, Southern man that keeps Cassie grounded and allows her to be herself while at home with people who don’t really know her. My inspiration skipped straight to the actor I’d love to play Jean sans hair in this picture–K.C. Collins from my favorite show, Lost Girl. He’s a phenomenal Canadian actor who would capture the grace and casual handsomeness that I had hoped for Jean.
And last, but certainly not least, my favorite character–Azalee Longchamp-26 years old. The short (least spoiler-ridden) description is that Azalee is the shining light in the dreariness of Cassie’s existence. Take the compassion of a mother who lost a child too soon, add a little mystery, a little vodou magic and faith, sprinkle in a bit of spiritual intervention, a dash of calculated recklessness and what do you have. A gorgeous, confident vodou priestess in the market for a young girl to teach the ways of the world and keep her on her toes.
We’ll start first with the inspiration. In the prologue I describe the below outfit in what hopefully is an aptly written description that isn’t too specific or too vague (that’s really the dream isn’t it?). And so I direct your attention to the full-figured photo above left for the outfit that first inspired my vodou priestess. Next to that image, in the center, is my Hollywood choice–Kat Graham. She’s currently most notable for playing the witch Bonnie Bennett is The Vampire Diaries, which makes her uniquely equipped to handle supernaturally-based roles. She’s the perfect skin tone, age, temperament. Well, she’s everything. The photo to the right is the hairspiration for Azalee’s beautiful locks. While I’d like to say she would keep Graham’s dark locks, the box braids on the right in that warm caramel shade is exactly what I pictured for Azalee. Granted, there were also little beads and many many more braids, but that is neither here nor there when your imagination can fill in the blanks.
Alas, there was one other actress who could have played Azalee. Angela Bassett would have been brilliant for the role, but I wanted to shy from the current portrayal of Marie Laveau and New Orleans voodoo in American Horror story. It is my most treasured goal for Dollhouse Daughter to highlight the traditional vodou found in Haiti, which can be seen in the different spellings between the Haitian vodou and New Orleans voodoo in this very post. I want to celebrate the wonder and glory of the vodou faith and beliefs, which can get muddled in the theatrics of the New Orleans influence. I love them both, but Azalee and co. come from Haiti and represent a purer form of vodou that has captured my heart in the years I’ve researched and written this book.
In the end, the actors, the photos, the inspiration is simply another way to bring the story and characters to life. I, by no stretch of the imagination, assume that my book will be good enough to make it onto the big screen. But it is a dream. A dream that one day I hope you, my lovely minions, may support and help me achieve. For now, I hope you enjoy this post and look for some excerpts of the novel to come in the near future!
Lastly, I leave you with an adorable kitty selfie. Happy reading/writing!
Before I begin the analysis of my ill-fated attempt at NanoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I want to congratulate some of my lovely writer-ly friend who did win this year and showed me what Nano can offer every writer if given the right motivation. Both of my friends Denise and Rion are seasoned winners, and Rion has been an ML(Municipal Liason) for multiple regions in the U.S. These phenomenal ladies have many helpful tips and encouragement for any who wish to learn more about Nano or need help throughout the event. So, don’t forget to check out their blogs (linked above).
December 2014 marks the first failed attempt at NanoWriMo for the Spotted Writer. While it is only a technical fail since I didn’t write 50,000 new words for the month of November, I knew beforehand that I couldn’t succeed. Well, wouldn’t is a more appropriate word. If I had scheduled and outlined I might have won, but I did none of those things. There was little time for me to prepare when I was finishing Dollhouse right before November began. That on top of the fact that I had never written more than 700 words in a day meant that I was destined to lose. (For those who don’t know, a daily word count of 1,667 is needed to complete the 50,000).
Don’t worry my lovely minions, I was not discouraged and I’m not upset at the outcome. I knew going in that any amount of new words would be an improvement from my current standing (about 1,500) for the piece tentatively titled The Hawthorne Grove. I managed a total of 350 words give or take a few, but my mind was still focused on my manuscript. Which is why I’m hoping the below tips will be of help for those who also didn’t manage a win at NanowriMo to improve for next year-including me.
#1- Any new words…any at all 1-50,000 is a true win. The simplified goal for National Novel Writing Month is to create an uninhibited habit of writing daily and consistently. That kind of discipline is astronomically helpful for a writer no matter what age or experience level. I still continue to struggle with putting down new words daily, so next year, the plan is to write every day no matter what. Maybe not 1,667, but new words every day is a great achievement.
#2-Even if you’re not an outlin-er, a basic plot outline makes the goal of reaching 50,000 more manageable. Now in my case I did have an overall idea of what The Hawthorne Grove could be about. Unfortunately, I hadn’t ironed out any specifics other than some character profiles. For some, that may be enough, but for me I needed more direction if I’m going to write at a faster pace. And thus I say unto you slow writers, plan. Plan for all of October and by the time November arrives, you will have everything in your arsenal ready to go. This is also where I fell short because I was still writing a majority of Dollhouse Daughter even into the first week of November, so I never made time to plan.
#3-Focus on the one idea. This is a good tip in general, and coming from someone who skips between different works frequently this is a challenge in itself. I became so distracted in November (even after I finished Dollhouse) with revisions and my beta reader comments that I never switched my brain to focus on the novel I was supposed to be writing. So, focus on the idea at hand and don’t let revisions clutter your mind and distract you. If necessary, make notes in a separate document or put  in the place where you want to come back.
This is my advice. I found it all on my own. It’s little, and simple, but good. Yeah, still good. Now onto the phenomenal events that have happened in the last month.
First and foremost, I finished my first novel. You can view the post about finally finishing the piece here. It isn’t publishable yet, but Dollhouse Daughter has a completed first-ish draft. I hate say first draft because I’ve revised the overall story and the setting so many times. Ultimately, though, I finished it. Woot!
And then, my minions, I was asked to speak at a creative writing class at the school my boyfriend works at. The request came as a complete and utter suprise because I assumed that my boyfriend had been whispering awesome compliments about me to his coworkers. In reality, I had a fan in my midst…a.ka. my boyfriend’s boss. Imagine my further surprise as I had never met his boss and he had never actually read anything of mine. He was fantastic in his support, especially when I discovered he was an avid reader and huge supporter of local writers.
I accepted without question at the opportunity to share what small nuggets of wisdom I can manage to articulate to other. Most of the wisdom I’ve learned from my mentors and guest speakers is currently bumbling around in my brain waiting to be absorbed and utilized at the right moment. So, what I really wanted to focus on was giving them an introduction into writing in the real world. Beyond the classroom assignments and what to expect if they want to pursue higher education (which even to this day and thousands of dollars in debt I still support). Lucky for me, the class was made up of mostly seniors and some sophomores and underclassmen and the class was an elective, so the students were invested in what I had to say at least in some respect.
I started off the class with Mark Twain’s “what what you know” not in the sense that you must ONLY write what you know. Instead, I wanted to impress upon these writers how import it is not to put more into your story than you’re capable of accomplishing. I had learned first hand that no matter how much I wanted my novel to be in Revolutionary war England, it was going to take my characters and I decades (and a degree in history) to write it. It didn’t fit to try and make the story work in a setting and a time that I knew nothing about when I had all of the knowledge about modern day America already in my arsenal.
My initial fear is that I would sound pretentious and condescendingly repeat the same precepts that are drilled into every beginner’s brain. The students, however, were a blessing. Sure, every speaker would love to have more questions, but out of the eight or nine students there was at least a dozen questions, which was exciting. There is so much promise for these writers to be even if they were just taking the class for fun.
One of the most difficult points to cover during the class was higher education (my Master’s degree included). For the parents of the millennial generation and later, college in general may seem like the obvious next step, but for the students it’s much bigger than that. In 2014, college is the equivalent to the mortgage on an incredibly expensive home without the guarantee of a return on investment (although to be honest depending on where and when the house may not be guaranteed either). And with a liberal arts degree or concentration…forget about it! With the average American having a potential of two to three career changes in their lifetime (source: some article that is probably now outdated by a few years) what room is there for thousands of dollars in debt for an education you may never fully utilize? These are a few of the fears/concerns that make it that much more difficult for students to choose what to do next, especially if their true passion is writing.
Yes, an understanding of the English language and communication is a vital skill set that students, and people in general should be more in tune with, but how does that translate to a well-paid career? With the right choices, it can pay off well. If you push yourself toward an unconventional or non-traditional career path, it could bring you a wealth of success and stability. I guess my main point (and I made this to the class) is being confident in your decision. I knew in high school that English/writing/reading/literature would be my life. I knew that nothing else would do, and I was willing to sacrifice everything I had been taught to achieve it. I was willing to forgo the more traditionally stable positions in the medical field (at the behest of my father) or education (at the request of my mother) in favor of my passion. To this day, I don’t regret that decision. What I regret most is not choosing wisely about which school to ascertain my degree from, allowing my debt to pile higher than Mt. Everest.
But, I digress. My temporary class had little to no knowledge or advice on what to choose or even if they had a choice. I impressed upon the necessity to fully support their decision and if they had doubts not to make one hastily or at the behest of anyone! I agreed to the possibility of living paycheck to paycheck until I found my place in the work force. I was 100% ready to follow my passion wherever it lead. And I am so incredibly happy with where I’m headed.
I’m sure these students still have their reserves and questions about the craft and especially about how writing fits into their future, but I think…I think…I gave them something to chew on for a little while. They had the opportunity to read some of my novel that I continue to slave over for three+ years, and experience a public reading. It gave me a chance to see how it would be in front of a high school level class as well as a chance for those students to see possibilities for themselves if they are passionate about writing. And even deeper, it provided a continuous flow of information between writers regardless of age, experience, education or amount written. I saw in those students a glimmer of hope for something they enjoyed or the potential for it to grow. The experience has opened me to the phenomenal path ahead, and I cannot wait to share more milestones with you.
I’ll leave you all with some of the pictures from my vacation. I attended Blizzcon in Anaheim and experienced the glory of San Diego. If given the choice to live in a mansion in Pittsburgh, PA or homeless in San Diego, CA- I would choose San Diego in a heartbeat. It is quite the change from being on the east coast and I relish the thought of going back! Look for more updates and maybe even some excerpts from Dollhouse Daughter to come.
Happy reading and writing!
I am back, my minions, and with exciting updates and news. First and foremost, I am happy to announce that I have finally finished the draft of Dollhouse Daughter and entering the last leg of my Master’s program.
Thanks to my off-season NanoWrioMo group, I have been challenged for the past two months with a specific word count by the next meeting. I began with the simple task of writing 3,000 new words in about 3 weeks. Sound easy, right?
Despite my horrific history of poor writing routines, I’ve managed in the last month and a half to cure myself of that habit and finish a FREAKIN’ BOOK! My procrastination typically debilitated my progress, but I did increase my daily word count from 100-200 to 1000-1300 a day. It wasn’t consistently that high, but never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that I would have written that many words.
While we are on the subject of impossibilities…the certainty that I would finish my manuscript piece on time was low. Dangerously low when you take into account that I initially took an entire calendar year off school to finish it and planned to be done in May of this year.
Clearly, May came and went without a finishing novel draft. But thanks to my phenomenal creative support system both in my Master’s program and outside of it allowed me to achieve my goal of completing by November 1st.
And now that it’s done, I feel a wealth of confidence and accomplishment. As most of you know, I haven’t finished a piece of this magnitude before and there is so much work still left to do.
However, the accomplishment to me is huge. I have a habit of not finishing and now I have a workable manuscript when I start my final semester in January 2015. And so I leave you lovely minions with this great news to begin a new adventure with my first stab at Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) which I will update soon.
Wish my beta readers for Dollhouse Daughter luck! Hopefully they will enjoy Cassie and Co. as much as I have.
Welcome minions! I’m finally adding another installment to this never-ending blog series. I find myself looking forward to these posts more and more because it gives me a chance to truly reflect on what kind of piece I’m developing and to share what I’ve learned along the way.
Onto the topic at hand—where is my story going? No, I’m not talking about the plot or the character’s movements from room to room. I’m talking about the where. The setting. The place. Whatever you call it, it’s the magic behind the scenes or a character all its own. In the dozens of writing workshops and seminars I’ve attended, place isn’t something you just throw in or use without proper consideration.
Not utilizing the full potential of place is as much of a writing crime as too many adverbs. This may not be a carved-in-stone rule of writing, but hell what rule is carved in stone? Mostly, I just want to express how underutilized place is in a ton of commercial writing. When I say commercial writing, I mean books that are made with the intention of being sold or published on the commercial market i.e. Amazon, Createspace, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Scribd etc. Whether it costs money to read your book or not, never ever forget about place. It represents the where in the all-important foundation of your story (simplified: who, what, when, where, why).
If you simply choose New York for your alien story because it’s easy—think again! Place can ground readers in history like Anglo Saxon Britain or allow the reader an escape to a faraway galaxy uncharted by humanity. I, for one, have fallen prey to laziness in this department for a few of my unfinished pieces that I dare not share with the world yet. This is especially true for my earlier drafts of Dollhouse Daughter, which was initially set in London during the late 1700’s. Without knowing it, I set myself up for disaster.
I knew nothing about the 1700’s much less London in that period. It was after two pages that I made the switch to a modern London with a few chapters based in modern U.S. The change in period was a fantastic relief because it made my job as the writer so much easier, but I unknowingly still struggled with place. My manuscript, still untitled at that time, had grown to a whopping six chapters before my laziness caught up with me. Eventually, my Irish mentor suggested I write what I know because in the chapters I’d written there was little to nothing about British culture. At that moment, I realized the right place for my story wasn’t in London; it was a town called Warrenton, Georgia.
Step 1–to finding the true place for your story is research. A normal part of every story has at least some research. Outside of realm of “write what you know”, we wordsmiths crawl onto the world wide web searching for delectable bits of information. Now that I’ve found the right setting for Cassie’s story, I had to figure out what it meant to live in the deep South. Being a native Northerner, I had quite the task ahead of me, but research is only useful if you…well, if you use it. So, I studied youtube videos, pictures, and articles in hopes that I could catch the essence of Warrenton. But I couldn’t research too much. I had to put a limit on how much I perused because I’m not writing an essay of the culture of the deep South. I only need to learn enough to keep my story moving. And I hope others can appreciate place a little more after sharing the fundamentals I used in my own novel.
Step 2–Dialect is both the easiest and hardest part of showing place because it can be simple for someone to write a dialect they know, and so easy to create stereotypes or bog the story down with unintelligible dialogue. Mark Twain is by far the best and most controversial example of how dialect can transform a simple novel ( The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn) to a piece of timeless literature. He had a magic formula that made his writing seem realistic without distracting from the story. So my challenge was not only to include accurate, exciting Southern dialect to give the right characters flavor, but my Haitian Kreyòl had to be just as present if I wanted to truly represent the vodou of Haiti. It was even more thrilling to know that my past French classes were put to good use since it was a major component in the construction of Kreyòl as a language. Below are just some examples of my own use of dialect in Dollhouse Daughter:
“Burn my biscuits, that woman’s nose is up so high in the clouds she could drown in a rainstorm,” Betty said.
“And just to ruffle my feathers, that foul woman had the au-da-city to tell me that Sandy should be having little Samantha baptized in a Lutheran church instead of St. John’s.”
Oh, honey,” Jessica said, flashing her too-bright teeth. “It’s all Coke in Georgia. They mustn’t teach common sense in them Northern schools.”
“No, pitit mwen, it will not hurt.”
“Papi, please hear me.Your LeeLee needs guidance.”
“Bonjou, pitit Brigitte,” he bellowed, his baritone voice thunderous even against the sound of the drums. “You have come to us humble vodouisants on a special evening. Tonight we celebrate the changing of the moon by meeting Mambo Azalee’s nouvo zanmi, Cassandra from the North.”
Let me know what you think and especially if anything screams out as being inaccurate or unrealistic because I want to make it the best it possibly can be. The next installation of N.S.T.P.P.N. will be coming up shortly with an emphasis still heavily devoted to place. It should be posted within the next few days, so don’t forget to check back. And as always Happy Reading and Writing!
Throughout the two and a half years I’ve been building this platform, I’ve received blog awards and surveys that help share who I am as a person and a blogger. It’s reminiscent of a right of passage for bloggers to post at least one of these introspective questionnaires. This survey of sorts is probably the most personal and technical I have had the pleasure to write.
And so I have been invited by my very dear friend Matt from WantonCreation to take part in a themed post about my writing process. Matt and I began our blogging journeys around the same time, and he has been such a phenomenal inspiration to me since we first found each other. His blog is much more versatile than mine including posts about music, interesting sites to check out, and his recent move to Sweden. Matt is both witty and humorous in his posts, so please be sure to check him out!
So, this particular blog hop stops at Spotted Writer Station for a look inside my writing process, which up until this post I hadn’t given nearly enough thought. I hope you, my ferocious minions, learn a little bit about me from these questions and the person I’ll be tagging at the end.
What am I working on?
The only answer I should have at this point is my novel Dollhouse Daughter. As most of my writer’s group knows, I have terrible issues with procrastination and focus (hence why I’m typing this post instead of revisions). Dollhouse Daughter is a coming of age story, but also a reaction of how families recycle mistakes across generations. Here is a working book blurb:
Cassie Brooks, a bookish 13-year-old girl from Pennsylvania, must move hundreds of miles from her childhood home when her grandfather falls ill and her parents are left to care for the Brooks Plantation in Warrenton, GA. Cassie has a choice—settle for her narcissistic mother, a passive family, and the unforgiving awkwardness of a new school or give in to the temptation of vodou after meeting a mysterious woman in the forest?
The blurb could use some fine-tuning, but I’m over halfway finished with the novel. It’s taken me two years to get to this point, but I feel confident in my characters and the way my story is told. I think people will enjoy my main protagonist Cassie with her love of Japanese anime and her snarky comments. I also think they will love to hate my antagonist Marge— not necessarily a true villain, but she’s mighty difficult to tolerate in the same room. Eventually, I hope that at least one person will enjoy the finished product and it will lead me to my Master’s degree.
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I branch out into a few genres (sci-fi, fantasy, horror, mystery), but if we’re talking about Dollhouse Daughter the genre would definitely fall under YA fantasy. Yes, I know it’s a mega popular genre, especially within the past ten years, but when the characters speak to you—you better damn well listen. Anyways, I think I bring an honesty to the genre that otherwise could be forced or disingenuous. I think me being a 25-year-old lends to a closeness to the suffering in my teen years. I mean, I still haven’t fully processed everything I am and everything I can be. The terror and loneliness that Cassie feels when she’s with her family isn’t something I pulled out of the ether; it’s pulled straight from my heart onto the page. Not only that, but the fantasy element isn’t an escapism like it is typically defined in the genre. I wanted my fantasy to intensify the situations in my stories. Instead of running away from reality, my characters, especially Cassie, must face the harsh facts life has to offer.
Why do I write what I do?
I’ve loved fantasy and science fiction ever since I started reading. It’s really as simple as that. I write the same wonderful ideas that have nurtured me into an avid bibliophile since first grade. Dragons, ghosts, aliens, vampires, zombies—all of my favorites will find their way into my writing not on purpose, but because it has helped shaped me into the writer I am today. My love of fantasy began with Into the Land of the Unicorns by Bruce Coville, and from then on I knew I wanted to write about magic and space for the rest of my life. It allows me to show the truths of humanity without the limitations of what’s “real”. I can choose to make a story about zombies with my imagination and people will learn more about me in the process.
How does my writing process work?
This is the tough question. My process goes against everything that most authors/mentors tell you to do. But hey, whatever works right? I don’t wait to revise until after I’ve finished the first draft. For me, there is no first draft. There’s only the work in progress and the finished manuscript. I keep working at each sentence until it feels right to me. So, it makes me a slower writer and it takes me much longer to finish a piece, but it’s so worth it.
By the time I finish a chapter, it has gone through at least three to four “drafts” and is nearly ready to share with my writer’s group. Sure, there are mistakes, and things that need to be touched up. However, I try to make it count the first time instead of waiting until I’m completely finished to go back and change it.
At the same time, the best place for me to write is actually at lunch during work. No internet, no kitty, no bed—NO DISTRACTIONS! I find myself getting the most work done when I physically have no other distractions or ways to procrastinate. I think the most rewarding part of my process is that the product is well worth the wait. I end up with a fantastic chapter after a few weeks or a month of work.
Her authorial name is K Orion Fray, but I know her best as Rion. She is one of the most imaginative, focused writers I’ve ever met. Let me break down how stellar she is:
Maxed out twice during 2013 NaNoWriMo with two novels in progress, one of which is currently being published on her website as a serial. Rion has successfully become an audiobook reader, cosplayer, moderator (not sure about the exact title) for NanoWriMo, blogger, published author, and many more. I could effectively write an entire post about how much I adore my dear friend because well, it’s easy to find great things to say about her. In the workshop where we first met, Rion astounded everyone (especially me) with the sheer amount of quality content she was able to write during our ten minute prompt. It was at least three full-sized pages if I recall. Nay my friends this was no exaggeration or fluke; she is the real deal full of wonder and geekery that blows my mind every time I talk with her. Plus she loves all the cool shows like Doctor Who and Supernatural. I wish her luck on her version of this post, it was a blast! Now you must check her out!
Happy reading and writing!