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Esther: Royal Beauty

Esther: Royal Beauty

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Book by Angela Hunt

Reviewed by: Jasmine Bennett

I love this book for two main reasons: The level of research that the author did to improve the historical accuracy of this book, and the way it was written.

It could be classified as a romance, but I will not call it one because of the nature of the story. The book is based off of the Bible book “Esther”. In this book by Angela Hunt, a young girl, Hadassah, grows up in the care of her cousin Mordecai and his wife Miriam in Susa, the capital of Persia. She is quiet and demure, but does not fancy the simplistic, practical Jewish way of life. The bright Persian cloths, the banquets and parties are what excites her. Hadassah and her cousins are invited, along with all of the other citizens, to a banquet at the king’s palace. Xerxes hosts the men’s banquet, and Queen Vashti hosts the women’s banquet. They feasted many days, and then on the final day of the feast, came the fateful wish from King Xerxes. He wanted Vashti to appear before him and display her beauty before his banquet guests. She denied the king, and then she was forbidden from entering the presence of the king, and she was un-crowned. A new queen would be chosen.

A few years later, a decree went out from the king’s palace, ordering beautiful virgins to be brought to the palace where they would be beautified and pampered, and perhaps the king would choose a new queen from among them.

Hadassah tried to avoid being taken, but she was kidnapped by slave traders. Hadassah, along with many other girls, was taken to the palace. For safety, she changed her name to Esther, a Persian name.

After a long while of pampered living, beautification and cosmetics, and lessons on how to behave like royalty, the young girls were waiting for the king to choose a new queen. Then the day came when King Xerxes called for a girl. The eunuch in charge sent Esther, knowing she was special. The king was captivated by Esther and sent for her again the next day. He was so impressed by her that he crowned her the queen. Esther starts to fall in love with the king. Is she naive by doing so? Perhaps. But I think it also shows a dedication and a deep spirit to Esther’s character. For a long while, Xerxes is enamored and fascinated by Esther. He spends time with only her, and neglects any other concubine. Then, she becomes pregnant, but after only a short while, has a miscarriage. Devastated, Esther tries to convey her feelings to her husband, the king. Not only does he not seem to understand, he starts spending less time with her. Then one night, Esther hears that he has called someone else into his presence. Hurt beyond belief, Esther realizes she, surrounded by servants, slaves, court nobles, whoever she wants to summon, is alone.

“My king and queen might have been supremely happy if not for the ghosts that haunted them. Esther mourned the children she could not seem to carry, and the king mourned the loss of his reputation as an invincible warrior.”

Esther: Royal Beauty, page 249

The story of Esther, ancient as it is, is incredibly moving, and is applicable, in a way, to modern times. Sometimes marriages go awry, or things come in-between a husband and wife. In the case of Esther and Xerxes, it is an arranged marriage, based solely on looks and captivation. But parallels to modern marriages are still there. Anyone can read this book, and relate to it in some way, although many times I choose to read the story as it stands, and not be emotionally involved.

Character Development: It was superb throughout this story, and I would give it a 10/10. The character of Esther changed from a naive, enamored young girl, to a mature, wise queen. While the character of Xerxes did not change much, I think that enhances the effect that the king thinks that he must be constant and consistent, and hold himself to a very high standard to be like his father. The torment of the standards of the king remains, even though he tries his best to relieve them.

Setting: 9/10 The Persian culture and setting of the city is hard, obviously because it is historical, and therefore hard to be totally accurate, but Angela Hunt does a fantastic job making you feel like you are there.

Plot Line: is definitely a 9/10. It moves along quickly, but lingers in each scene long enough so you get the most out of it. I enjoyed seeing the story unfold through the multiple characters, and how each character adds to the development of the plot.

Description: 10/10. The smooth marble of the palace walls, or the dust of the street, are both easy to see in the book. The description is spot-on, and helps the story to feel a certain way. To me, the description in the book is almost as important as the plot line. In a movie, you don’t need to hear the actor describe it. You can see the green of the trees, and haze in the distance. But in a book, many things need to be described, or you don’t see it.

My Summer Reading List – Romance

My Summer Reading List – Romance

We’re coming in at the end of July. Summer is very quickly passing us by. It seems as if the days are passing at a speed so fast that I can hardly keep track anymore. As fall looms on the horizon, bringing with it thoughts of college homework, colder weather, and darker skies, I find that, at times, I wish only to curl up on my couch with a good book and slow down.

Lately, I’ve found myself reading more books from the romance genre. I was never a big romance reader growing up, so this is new to me. However, there are some books that I’ve simply fallen in love with, and perhaps you’ll find your next summer read on this list to help you slow down some time, as well.

Cassidy

This book is one that has been near and dear to my heart for nearly a decade. It is one of the few romance books that I read before this year.

The main character of Cassidy, Cassidy (shocker, right?), is a seamstress living in 1880 Montana. She is well-loved by nearly everyone in the town of Token Creek. However, nobody really knows any details about her life before coming to Token Creek.

When a figure from her past arrives in the small town, Cassidy’s world is turned upside down. Her relationships with everyone in Token Creek are threatened, as well as her close friendship with (and growing love for) a local rancher.

It’s an amazing read, and you’ll find yourself falling in love with Cassidy and the many other characters in the small Montana town.

Just Above a Whisper

This book, also written by Lori Wick, is a unique one. It follows Reese, a young woman who has been an indentured servant for most of her life. When the man who holds her contact dies, she is in the bank’s control. However, Connor, the son of the bank’s owner, soon realizes that the bank owns Reese’s contract and decides to change that, instead bringing Reese to work for him, free of contract.

Reese is incredibly grateful for the freedom she’s never known, but something about Connor frightens her. Will her heart be able to cut through the fear and see the kind man he truly is? I definitely recommend reading to find out!

The Carousel Painter

I have read this book over and over again. It’s a classic on my shelf, one that I’ll forever hold dear. If you’re someone who likes to read about women pushing past the historic male suppression, this is definitely one you would love.

The book follows Carrington, a young woman in Ohio. She lands a job at a carousel factory, the only woman to do so. From day one, it’s clear that the men there want her gone, none more so than the manager of the factory, Josef.

Carrington’s friend, Augusta, a woman who has grown up lavished and doted upon, never understands why Carrington would choose to live in the factory district and work the grueling hours.

When an unexpected crime occurs at Augusta’s house, all eyes turn to Carrington. She must race to prove her innocence, or she could find herself in jail. And the crime isn’t the only thing weighing heavy on her mind, as Josef begins to take up space in her head when she least wants him to.

It’s a very good read, and I can’t recommend it enough!

Twilight

Alright, alright. I know what you’re going to say. “Twilight? Sparkling vampires? Ew.”

But wait!

Yes, it’s Twilight. Yes, the vampires sparkle (which is kind of cool, but less so for vampire lore geeks like myself. But it’s okay, it’s not a huge part of the book).

But, what you never hear about is the fact that Stephanie Meyer has genuinely written an amazing story, full of romance and thrill. When I first read this book, I found myself unable to put it down as I got to know Edward’s family, the Cullens. An unexpected twist at the end of the book will send you furiously flipping through the pages until you come to the end.

It was also interesting to see the relationship between Edward and Bella grow and develop. If you’ve seen the movies, you’ve seen it a little bit. This book goes above and beyond the movies, however.

If you’re a fan of supernatural books or romance books (or both!), I recommend checking this book out of your local library and giving it a shot. Don’t let the stigma against “Twilight” ruin your chances of finding your next favorite summer read.

Behind the Glass

If you’ve been following this blog since we began, you might remember our review on “Behind the Glass”, written by the amazing Kristen Morgen.

This book follows Rebecca, an aspiring photographer. She’s got two jobs, one for money and one for passion, she says. She has a wonderful boyfriend, yet she can’t seem to open up to him.

Then she meets Michael, a stranger at her local coffee shop. Their relationship instantly takes off as they both feel a deep connection unlike any they’ve ever felt.

However, Rebecca refuses to be unfaithful to her boyfriend, going so far as to push Michael away.

As time passes and they keep running into each other, Michael and Rebecca realize that their love is stronger than either of them has ever felt. Their struggles to find each other only make this love grow stronger, making this story the perfect summer romance read.

I hope you’ve found a potential summer read in this list! I highly recommend checking any (or all!) of these books out. You won’t regret it!

What are your favorite summer romance reads? Drop them in the comments below so that others can have an even larger list to look at!

Jessica Prieto

Good Books and Dull Books: Study tips on how to read both

Good Books and Dull Books: Study tips on how to read both

By Jasmine Bennett

Can you force yourself to read a bad or uninteresting book? Not really. But what if you’re compelled to read it? Maybe it’s a book that a friend wrote, or one that was recommended for you by a friend. I’ve heard of a lot of people that told me their friend urged them to read a certain book… and then they didn’t like it. Naturally, they want to give their friend a better review than just “Yeah, I liked it! It was really interesting.” Which can sound just the opposite of its intention.

Dull books, boring textbooks, or long history books can be read and remembered with somewhat of the same format. I use a simple process:

  1. Start by reading the Contents, and the chapters listed. It will give you an idea of where the book is going, and may even help you to remember what to watch for. This is especially useful for textbooks or history books, because the Contents can actually summarize a timeline that you can glance over from time to time. It will help you remember the general narration of the book.
  2. When you get to each chapter, look at the title of the chapter, and remember, “This is what the chapter’s about, and by the end of this chapter, I should be able to look at the chapter name and recount what it’s about.” Skim-read the chapter quickly, then go back and read in greater detail. Knowing already what happens can actually help you read, because now you’re reading “how” the end result happened. This can work with studying for school or recreational reading, and I have used it for both. Also, don’t do something mentally consuming right after you finish reading, let the information soak into your mind, and you will remember it better.
  3. If you are really desperate, need to read the book, and can’t focus, get out a pencil and paper and make your own timeline. Just a line and some scribbles that you will be able to read again. Highlight the beginning, middle, and end. Fill the gaps in-between as best as you can, and then try to memorize it. It will help you remember the book, whether it’s for a test, or for right before you see the person who recommended the book to you.

Now, a good book might be easy to read for you, but it might also be easy to forget. When you pick up a good book, make sure there aren’t many distractions around, like the TV, your phone constantly going off, or someone trying to talk to you. It’s different if you’re babysitting or keeping an eye on food in the oven. In other words, give your book as much focused attention as you can.

Obviously, it’s hard to read large portions of the book in one setting. So after you finish reading the chapter, section, etc., don’t go running to do something else that will occupy your entire brain. When you put your book down, try to do something mundane, like taking a walk, or cleaning the house while thinking about what you just read. It will help your book “digest” in your mind, rather than pushing it out with something else mind-consuming.

It helps you enjoy the book even more when you have someone to talk to about it. Find someone who shares a passion for book reading, or is a big fan of the particular book that you are reading. I absolutely love The Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit, Beren and Luthien, or anything by Tolkien. When I find someone who shares the same passion and interest for those books, it makes my day! I will discuss Middle-earth till the sun goes down. It stimulates my interest in the books, and I love hearing what other Tolkien-readers have to say about them.

In summary, read a good book carefully. After all, the words are written to be read, and also remembered. If you must read a dull book, then make it worth the time you spent reading it.

Photo Credit: hannah-grace-3Pvk8mUJF3g-unsplash.com

Interview with Shalaena Medford

Interview with Shalaena Medford

We were able to interview our June Author of the Month, Shalaena Medford, about her books and writing process! Read below to find out more about this talented author!

“Writing is easy. Writing well is difficult. And writing an entire world with real people in it is an art.”

Shalaena Medford

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

“I actually wanted to be a teacher, then it was a singer, then an actress. In middle school I started designing clothes and was actually accepted into the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. Unfortunately, I was never able to attend.”

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

“Everyone that knew me knew I was going to be a writer, except me. After high school I began working on a book, but it sat abandoned for years. Then one day I buckled down and finished it, then somewhere along the way I realized it had a sequel. Once I had the first book done and was working through the second, I realized I wanted to do this forever. I wanted to share my stories with the world.”

When did you write your first book, published or unpublished?

“My first book (Fate) was started in 2007, but not continued or finished until the end of 2010. In 2013 it was the second book I ever published. I recently finished rewriting it and plan to re-publish it at the end of this year or in earl 2021.”

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

“It’s sporadic, chaotic, and all-consuming. I often stay up late writing in Google Docs on my phone until I start falling asleep and drop it on my stomach. I’ll keep Scrivener open on my Mac and turn in my seat to that side of my desk and write while I have down time when playing MMOs.”

How long does it take you to write a book?

“It depends on the length and the story being told. I wrote All That Glitters during NaNoWriMo, but it turned into something so much longer than one book. I wrote another in the same world another NaNoWriMo, and though I passed the word goal, that one is also unfinished. More recently I managed to write over 70,000 words in just over 2 weeks.”

Where do you get your ideas or inspiration for your books?

“Anywhere and everywhere. All That Glitters was a basic idea I woke up with one morning. Hamelin, my horror WIP, was a strange nightmare I woke up from several times to feverishly write down what I could remember. Doubleborn and War Machines are both books that different friends and I started together, mixing ideas and creating something great. The Worst Dyrkon was a daydream I was writing as a (really terrible) screenplay.”

How many books have you written?

“I have started and worked on 31 books, including a fanfiction series consisting of 8 full books; All That Glitters is 6 books; the Fate series is 3. Now, if we’re talking completed books, that’s unfortunately only 5 original works, plus one rewrite, and 7 fanfiction books. I should be finishing another rewrite in the coming months, as well as hopefully finishing book 3 in All That Glitters.”

What do you think makes a good story?

“A good story is one that when you close your eyes you can see it. The words on the page blur into a movie in your head. The characters are relatable with colorful personalities and fully fleshed out pasts. I love stories that aren’t afraid of being a bit controversial and will tackle subjects others might shy away from or allow others to tell them they’re not allowed to write about it—which is something I recently had to come to terms with. For example, all advice on writing about sexual assault says don’t use it as a plot device, a character backstory, or a plot point unless the story is about that. I didn’t know what to do, since it’s a major part of a story I’ve been working on. Then my sister said to me ‘Not writing about sexual assault unless that’s the entire book is like not being allowed to write gay characters unless the book is all about being gay.’ She went on to say that she personally likes how I tackled it because it feels authentic. (I should hope so, I based most of it off the description and story of a friend who was assaulted, and she gave me full permission to use those details.) Excluding assault of any kind from a character’s backstory, just so it’s more consumer friendly, removes the chance that an actual survivor would identify with that character. If you only include it if the story is only about that, makes survivors feel like they have no one in literature that represents them, unless it’s a book they probably don’t want to read, anyway.”

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

“A quirk I have in my writing process is that my initial rough drafts are all in my head. I will daydream the scenes until I know how it needs to play out before I put it into my computer. Sometimes I will rewrite them, other times they come out exactly how they were meant to.


“A quirk within my writing is the necessity for emotion, particularly sorrow. I’ve caused many readers to cry, and if I’m being honest, I see that as an absolute win. A friend told me that I made the sorrow of the main character feel so real that he almost felt like it was his own personal pain. Rest assured, though, I write those scenes with blurred vision and tissues nearby. I also really love curveballs and shocking surprises.”

What was one of the  most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

“Writing is easy. Writing well is difficult. And writing an entire world with real people in it is an art.”

What does your family think of your writing?

“My family loves it! My mom and one sister edit for me, my other sister beta reads for me. I’m not sure about my half siblings or my other relatives, though. They never comment on it and I doubt they even read it.”

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

“I love playing video games, mostly MMOs, and watching shows or movies. Sometimes I’ll work on my digital art, though I don’t work on it nearly enough. I love listening to music and having it inspire parts for one of my stories or bringing new ideas to my mind.”

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

“I don’t have many readers, but those I do have are mostly people I know in some capacity. One of the most common reviews is how absorbed they became with the story. How they got sucked in and even became obsessed. Another comment is that my stories are unpredictable, taking a left when the reader expects a right. The number one aspect I get from nearly everyone is how they saw the stories as movies in their heads.”

Do you have any upcoming books?

“I do! Firstly, at some point hopefully this year, I will be refreshing All That Glitters books 1 and 2 with new cover art. I plan to have book 3 follow soon after. Also hopefully this year will be the grand re-release of Fate, which by all rights is an entirely new novel, just with the same plot as before.”

What is some advice you could give other writers to help them with their own writing adventures?

“Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to write a certain way with certain habits. What works for one writer does not work for another. If you wake up in the morning and are a brainless zombie, don’t force yourself to get typing just because someone said ‘good writers’ do it. Writing is not one size fits all. I know world-builders, outliners, people who write beginning to end, people who write end, then beginning. I personally just write out scenes as they come to me and then arrange them in an order that makes sense. The only two things that are true for any writer who wants to succeed are obviously first: to write. If you can’t write every day, that’s fine, but make it as many times a week as you can. Second, read. Don’t just read anything, though. Read stories that are in your genre and age group. If you’re like me and you write any genre and don’t care about sticking to one, then read only that genre when working on that book (trust me, noting knocks you out of your headspace like reading a deep fantasy when you’re writing a contemporary drama).


“Most importantly, don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t write. Research how to make it presentable so you’re being respectful to the subject. Research is, and always will be, your most important tool—researching thoroughly and properly should become one of your best skills.”

Is there any other information you wish for us to share with our readers?

“I’m an extroverted introvert with anxiety, so unfortunately, I often times fall out of touch with social media, though I try to be responsive.When I get reviews or messages about my books it makes my year and I will read over it again and again, often sharing it with everyone I know. Every author loves hearing from their fans. Honestly, leaving a review and recommending a book to friends and family are the best ways to support an author.”

There you have it! Another interview with another well-deserving author! I encourage you to head over to Shalaena’s Amazon and see what books she has to offer! They are well-worth your time.

Blog Update – 7/9/2020

Blog Update – 7/9/2020

Hey, guys! We just wanted to take a moment and give you an update about the blog.

If you’ve poked around at all recently, you’ll see that some of the website has changed. Basically, we split the book reviews and blog posts into multiple categories to make them easier to navigate. Now, if you only want to see which Fantasy books we’ve reviewed, for example, you can! Or if you only want to read posts about “General Book Nonsense”, you can do that as well!

Another thing that has changed slightly is how we are doing our monthly giveaways! Instead of the giveaways being only for newsletter subscribers, we’ve opened it to everyone on our Facebook page. This is a much larger audience, and we’ve found that it is much easier to get in contact with the winners on Facebook than with email.

Blog Posts are also being sped up. Jasmine and I have recently been able to sit down and make a plan for the number of blog posts that we are going to post. We are each looking to post at least one blog post a week. The book reviews will fluctuate each month, as we don’t know how long the books will be until we read them!

We’ve also upgraded our methods of contact! We will always have Facebook, but we’ve created some forms to make it easier to ask us questions or submit books to be reviewed. You can get to both of these through our “Contact” tab, but I’ll put them here for you to check out, as well!

Contact Us

Submit a Book for Review

That’s all the new information for now! We are, as always, incredibly grateful for all of the support we’ve gotten with this website. We look forward to bringing you more books and posts in the future!

Jessica Prieto

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

How to Beat Writer’s Block

How to Beat Writer’s Block

It’s the bane of every writer, and it has taken the lives of countless books throughout history. Writer’s Block. That dreaded foe we, as writers, must face in our daily storytelling pursuits.

However, we must not face this beast alone. I’ve compiled a list of my best strategies for when writer’s block threatens to crush my motivation, and I hope they will be some help for you, as well.

Get Rid of Distractions

This, by far, is the biggest influence for me to beat writer’s block. I’ve found that when I am in my deepest funks, I tend to scroll through Facebook or turn on the newest show on Netflix that I’ve been watching (Longmire, for those who are curious). Usually giving myself the excuse that I don’t feel in the mood for writing, I fill my writing time with anything but.

This, in the long run, only hurts my writing habits, and it will hurt yours as well. What you need to do is turn off the TV, close Facebook, and maybe keep your phone in a different room and on silent. Do anything you can so that your sole focus can be on writing.

Something that I’ve found that really helps me is a program called “Write or Die.” My favorite version of this has been the kamikaze version, where I set a timer for fifteen minutes. If in those fifteen minutes I stop writing for longer than a few seconds, the program will begin to delete the vowels in my words one at a time until I begin writing again. It’s good for me to get words on a page that I can then go back and edit later.

Take a Break

Now, maybe you have tried eliminating all distractions as much as you possibly can and still cannot get those words on the page. Maybe there is a plot hole you just can’t get around, or a character is being difficult. You’ve sat at your computer or stared at your notebook for hours and simply don’t know what to do.

Take a break.

This allows you to relax your mind and come back to your work with a clear head. The length of your break depends on you, but I recommend at least a day or two.

Go For a Walk

This is one of my favorites. There is a forest trail in the city I live in that is perfect for inspirational walks. It’s quite, shaded, and a light breeze always seems to gently blow through the trees. I’ve been able to work out many plot holes and scene difficulties while walking under the trees, letting my creativity run as it pleases.

However, walking through a park or taking a nighttime stroll are also incredibly relaxing and mind-freeing. If you’ve never just taken a walk alone to clear your mind and try to beat writer’s block, I highly recommend it. When you do, though, be sure to either leave your phone at home or keep it in your bag on silent. You don’t want any distractions.

Read a Book

What? Are you telling me that writers must read every now and then? But that’s crazy!

Actually, it’s not! How does one get better at writing? Well, writing of course, but also through reading works of other authors! There is something about getting lost in another’s story that can give you inspiration for yours.

Not only this, but it allows your mind to drift off to another world outside of your own book’s, letting it get its much-deserved break.

Listen to Music

This is one of my top three go-to’s to beat writer’s block. So much so that I have full playlists for all of my novels, ranging from instrumental music to vocal soundtracks. All of the songs characterize a particular novel in some way, whether it’d the instruments used, the beat of the music, or the words.

When I put on a playlist, say for my pirate series that I am currently working on, for example, the sound of the swashbuckling tunes throws me head-first into my novel. Songs such as “This Ship is Going Down” by Tommee Profitt reel me into my scenes that I have planned or am in the middle of writing.

There’s nothing like it, to me. When I listen to my novel playlists, I can see the scenes playing out in my mind. Sometimes a song will inspire a new scene, or put a twist on one that I thought I already had planned.

Either way, one thing is the same. The music makes me want to just write.

Play a Game

This one kind of goes along the same lines as reading. Playing a game, whether it’s a board game, video game, or roleplaying game like Dungeons and Dragons, allows you to immerse yourself in a different world. You are able to take a break from your work and be invested in someone else’s.

This can help to give you inspiration for your own work in progress, or it simply allows your mind to relax and enjoy some fun for a little while before going back and tackling whatever’s got you in writer’s block.

Besides this list, there are numerous other things that you can do to fight off writer’s block. I’m curious what some of your techniques are! Leave them in the comments below to help me and other writers defeat the monster that is writer’s block.

Jessica Prieto

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

My Plotting Method

As writers, we write. We create worlds and the characters that live in them. We weave together storylines into thrilling adventures that keep readers hooked.

To do this effectively, we must build a compelling plot! However, over the years I have learned that there are two very distinct ends of the plotting spectrum. I have been on both ends and everywhere in between.

When I first began writing, I just wrote. I didn’t care about plot structures and the Hero’s Journey. I didn’t worry about making a plan. I had a loose idea in my head and I just went with it. I distinctly remember the moment that I realized that this just didn’t work for me. I was twenty-thousand words into the final book in my five-book series. I remember just sitting at my computer, mid-sentence, realizing that my entire series just didn’t work. There were plot holes so large you could drive a semi through them. Some characters got forgotten and left behind, and there were more loose ends than I could count.

It was after this that I went from being a “pantser” to a “plotter.” Since then, I’ve found that my writing is more composed and, honestly, more interesting. I do know that pantsing works for a lot of writers, and I’m not saying that it can’t work. For me, however, I need to plot, and I am going to explain what my plotting method is, and hopefully give some plotting inspiration for other writers, too!

Basic Notes

The first thing that I do in my plotting process is take basic notes on my novel idea. This can be anything from character ideas to plot points.

I then sort the notes into a few different documents, depending on whether they are about characters, setting, plot, or anything else I may need.

For simplicity’s sake, I will discuss my character and setting processes in a later post.

Organizing Plot Points

I then organize my plot points in order, leaving spaces where I know more ideas need to go. I’ll let the document sit for a day or so, and then go back, filling in blanks and gaps. I usually don’t fill in every spot that seems to need more, but I get a loose plot formed.

Creating the Puzzle

There are many plot structures out there that you can find, but the favorite that I’ve found is the 3 Act, 27 Chapter plot structure, which I recommend checking out!

When I reach this point, I make sure that I have a large stack of index cards, some brightly colored pens, and a lot of space on my living room floor. I write each plot element on an index card and spread them out in order on the floor. Using the plot points that I have for my story, I’ll start adding them to the index cards, slowly fitting my story to the structure.

I never fail to find that part of my novel changes as I’m doing this. I either find that something doesn’t fit within the structure or that something is needed. It always makes the plot stronger, though, as I try to figure out how to fit all of the pieces together.

Chapter Summaries

At this point of my plotting method, I will take my many, many index cards and start typing them up on my computer. I’ll use each card to write a basic summary of a chapter, making sure it’s relevant to my storyline or character development. I always find one card that doesn’t fit, or find some cards that are so important that they get split into two or three chapters.

Just because it is the 27-chapter outline does not mean that there will be 27 chapters. It’s a basic guideline, which is what all plot structures are. They’re just there to help guide you to writing that perfect story that’s been stuck in your head.

Revise, Revise, Revise

Yes, I revise my outlines. Multiple times.

This is an incredibly important step, because you don’t want to take off writing something, and then in the middle of the story realize that there is a glaring plot hole that you could have realized at this stage of the process. My current book is at its fourth outline revision, simply because I catch things that I didn’t notice before.

It’s Really Up to You

This is my method of plotting. It’s what works for me. There are some that don’t use an outline at all, and others that might use more complicated methods than mine. That’s the awesome thing about developing and writing a story: there’s not one single way to do it. Everyone has their own unique ways of letting their creativity flow.

I’m curious as to what you do for your plotting, or if you plot at all! Leave a comment below on how you go about writing your books or poems!

Interview with Bethany Hoeflich!

Interview with Bethany Hoeflich!

It was my absolute pleasure to be able to conduct an interview with Bethany Hoeflich, author of the Dreg trilogy! As our June Author of the Month, I thought it would be incredibly beneficial for our readers to know just a bit more about Bethany and her fun, quirky personality!

The Interview

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

“Other than an ethereal being who sparks both terror and wonder in the hearts of my enemies?

I had a revolving number of interests as a child. Off the top of my head, I wanted to be a veterinarian, a librarian, a teacher, and an artist.”

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

“It wasn’t until a few years ago. I’m a fairly voracious reader, so I decided to give writing a try. How hard could it be?

Spoiler alert—really, really hard.

But it’s also incredibly fulfilling. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else now.”

When did you write your first book, published or unpublished?

“I wrote my first book in first grade. It’s a nonfiction book titled, ‘Cats’, and contains only two chapters. Incidentally, chapter two revolves around dogs. (Terrible story, zero stars). My teacher typed it up and bound it, along with the rest of the stories I wrote, and I still have them today.”

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

“It depends on the time of the year and where I am in the writing process. Some days are research days, while others are for outlining or exploratory writing. A handful are reserved for eating my body weight in nachos and screaming into the void.

It’s important to have variety.

Before the world imploded and the kids were in school, I’d spend about a half an hour marketing and checking social media in the morning, then another half an hour planning out my writing session. I’d write straight through until lunch. After a quick break, I’d write for another hour, then spend an hour reading before the kids came home. Now that I’ve been forced to adapt, I have to take whatever I can get, whether it’s a solid hour of writing, or fifteen minutes sporadically through the day. Writing sprints are my BFF at the moment.”

How long does it take you to write a book?

“Anywhere from three to nine months depending on the complexity of the story.”

Where do you get your ideas or inspiration for your books?

“Everywhere. In the shower, when I’m driving, when I’m sleeping, etc.

It’s actually pretty annoying.

Dreg was born from a dream I had of Mara. I won’t spoil it, but there’s a particular scene toward the end of the book that is pulled straight from the dream.”

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite, if you can choose?

“I have five books completed and published, and three more in the works at the moment.

My favorite (so far) is my current project, “The Reluctant Familiar’s Guide to Keeping Your Witch Alive.’ It’s fun, lighthearted, and a complete joy to write. I can’t wait to share it with my readers!”

What do you think makes a good story?

“Character. When I read a book or watch a movie, I don’t care about the explosions or the gorgeous worldbuilding or the mind-blowing plot twists—I care about compelling characters and watching their struggles, their victories, and their evolution over the course of the story.”

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

“I’m not sure I have any quirks, per se. I prefer to work in complete silence because I’m easily distracted.

Oh look, a book!”

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

“That characters literally come alive as you write them. Not in a creepy horror movie kind of way (at least, I seriously hope not), but I would find myself having full-blown arguments with them in my mind. Or they would reveal their backstories and motivations when they chose to do so. By the time I published Dreg, the characters felt as real as my family and friends.”

What does your family think of your writing?

“They’re very supportive, especially my father, who is my number one fan (It’s practically an obligation).”

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

“Reading is my number one go-to hobby. I love immersing myself into different worlds and losing myself in the stories.”

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

“I do! I have the absolute best readers. They are always so supportive, and I love hearing from them.”

Do you have any upcoming books?

The Reluctant Familiar’s Guide to Keeping Your Witch Alive will be released on August 28th this year.”

What is some advice you could give other writers to help them with their own writing adventures?

“Run away while you still can!

I kid, I kid.

Finish the story! Your first draft is going to be an absolute mess, but you can always go back and revise it later. Too many new writers get stuck in an endless cycle of revisions and edits and never finish a book. Don’t get caught up on perfection.

And most importantly, have fun.”

Is there any other information you wish for us to share with our readers?

“Yeah, could the person who keeps trying to summon me please stop? This is the third night I’ve gotten stuck in a bathroom mirror, and interdimensional travel is exhausting.”

I highly recommend looking to the Dreg Trilogy by Bethany Hoeflich, as it is an amazing read. We are planning on posting our review of the first book, Dreg, within the next week! Also keep your eye out for her upcoming novel in August!

Jessica Prieto


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More Blogs to Read!

More Blogs to Read!

The world, as a whole, is going through some troubling times. The media is full of things that can scare or worry us to no end. I know my own Facebook is often full of information about COVID-19, riots here in the U.S., and even killer bees, and I’ll bet that your homepages are full of the same kinds of things, too.

So, I’ve decided to take the time to compile a list of other blogs that you can read to fill your time with positivity and joy! And, of course, these blogs are all about either writing or books, because those are the best kinds of blogs, right?

Blogs About Writing

The Creative Penn – First on our list is the Creative Penn, created by Joanna Penn. She is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, so she’s got some cred when it comes to writing. Penn hosts information on nearly everything about the writing process, from writing the novel to how to best publish and market it. She also has her own courses and tools to help writers succeed in their dreams of writing and publishing a novel.

Writer’s Digest – The Writer’s Digest is another amazing writing blog. They tackle fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in their posts. With new posts nearly every day, they provide writing tips, marketing information, and even writing prompts! They also host several yearly awards, such as their Annual Writing Competition, Short Story Competition, and Self-Published Book Awards.

The Write Life – The Write Life brings information on freelancing into the mix. The site also gives information on publishing, blogging, marketing, and the actual writing. If your dream is to make a living either freelancing, blogging, or selling books, this is definitely the blog for you to check out.

Better Novel Project – The Better Novel Project is a website that I find incredibly interesting. The idea behind it is that the author, Christine Frazier, breaks down some of the most popular books to see what makes them work. What do they all have in common that make them bestsellers? From there, she’s created a “Master List” of plotting that she believes is the best way to write a bestselling novel. Along with some awesome writing merch that you can get from her, this is definitely a website to explore.

Blogs About Books

The Book Forum – The Book Forum is a magazine that holds book reviews and author interviews. You are able to see many of the articles online for free, but if you want your own copy of the magazine, a print edition will cost you $5.99.

Kath Reads – Kath Reads is a blog that mostly deals in book reviews. She’s also in collaboration with some publishing houses, such as Penguin Press and Berkley Books. As well as book reviews, she posts her own “Journal”, which is full of tidbits about her life. One memorable post is a Christmas tree she created out of books. The blog is a fun read, and it is definitely worth checking out. You may find some new books that catch your eye!

A Little Blog of Books – This is also another book review blog. This blog covers both fiction and nonfiction, and with reviews going back to 2012, you will definitely be able to spend some time looking for that amazing new book to read. She also has a small blog on the website, where she posts topics such as “Same Cover, Different Book” and “Are Libraries Killing Bookshops?”

Omnivoracious – Another book review (there seems to be a theme here, doesn’t there?) is Omnivoracious. For those who don’t know, this is Amazon’s book review website. It gives reviews of books, ideas such as “Books for Kids to Celebrate Diversity and Inspire Change”, and much more. This website even has celebrity reading lists, in case you want to know what Jonathan Van Ness is going to be reading this summer.

Long story short, there are tons of amazing blogs out there for you to sink into. Whether you want some help and inspiration honing your writing or you want to find next month’s reading list, these blogs will definitely help get you there.

From us here at Remnant Inklings, we also hope that we can bring you enjoyment and a break from what this crazy world is throwing at all of us.

Jessica Prieto


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Types of Fiction

Types of Fiction

Novel. Novella. Short Story. Flash Fiction. No doubt you have heard these terms before. You might have an understanding that a novel is a long book, such as Harry Potter or Twilight. The novella and short story are shorter, but by how much? What exactly do all of these terms about books mean? As readers and writers, it may help you to have an understanding of these different types of fiction.

Novel

First off, we have a novel. According to the Author Learning Center, a typical novel is anything that has over 50,000 words. To put this into perspective, 50,000 words is around 200 pages, give or take. Now, keep in mind that 50,000 words for a novel is the minimum. Most published novels go above this number.

Novella

Next comes a novella. These are shorter than novels, typically anywhere from 20,000 to 49,999 words. Many novellas are published as ebooks, as they are harder to get published. Some genres that novellas typically fall into are romance, sci-fi, and fantasy.

Novelette

Novelettes are even shorter pieces, coming in at around 7,500 to 19,999 words. Novelettes are also incredibly hard to pitch, so many of these are also published as ebooks.

Short Story

Short Stories, a term you are probably familiar with, is a much more condensed form of writing. These are the smallest out of our types of fiction, and are usually between 1,000 to 7,499 words. Because they are so short, these usually involve fewer characters surrounding one situation. Typically, authors will publish their short stories in magazines.

Flash Fiction

Anything shorter than 1,000 words is considered to be flash fiction. This includes forms such as sudden fiction, postcard fiction, microfiction, and drabble, mini-saga, and six-word stories.

Knowing these forms can help you to choose stories you’d like to read or write. If you are a reader and prefer long, sprawling stories, novels are for you. However, if you like shorter, more concise stories that are a quicker read, you might want to look into novelettes or short stories. As a writer, you may find that you like writing the types of stories that need a whole novel or two to tell completely. You might also find that you like writing much shorter stories, perhaps even only taking six words to do so!

I encourage you to take the time to look into different types of fiction and try something new! You might be surprised to find that you like something that you didn’t think you would.

What kind of writing or reading do you prefer? Are there any of these forms that you’ve been wanting to try or are going to try?

Jessica Prieto

Short Fiction Forms: Novella, Novelette, Short Story, and Flash Fiction Defined. (n.d.). Retrieved May 20, 2020, from https://www.authorlearningcenter.com/writing/fiction/w/identifying-your-genre/7125/short-fiction-forms-novella-novelette-short-story-and-flash-fiction-defined

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