All You Need is Love

This blog, I would like to conclude the NaNoWriMo Writing challenge. 

I admit, the last week of the November month, I completely fell off the wagon (I wrote 24,241 words) and I couldn’t run hard enough to catch back up and jump back on. The day before Thanksgiving, my mother got a call her father wasn’t doing well. So, we went right away to see my grandpa. He passed the following the week; an angel got his wings on Wednesday, Dec. 4. 

He taught me that love is a promise and affection is a souvenir, once given, it can’t be forgotten because he wouldn’t let it disappear. That in the end, the love you take should always equal the love you make. My grandparents’ relationship growing up taught me that true love exists if you want to find it. So in remembrance of him, I wrote him into the novel I am writing. I actually finished the novel Dec.1. You can never die if your a character in a story right? 

So, now I am on my dreadful way to both edits and his funeral. But if writing about grim reapers and researching the different cultures of the world and how they view death has taught me anything, it’s that it is never the end, you just continue on somewhere else.

-Nicole

In memory of my grandfather, David Ostrander

A Writing Update

Hi writing folks!

This week has been terrible for me as I have a horrible cold and I am going through training classes with my puppy! We only lasted three classes and then we were kicked out. German Shepherds are known to bark, and my boy has a deep and super loud bark. Too much for the trainers there to handle. Nothing stops him from barking, so here I go finding another place who can help. So with that being said, to calm myself, I have been writing. I am pretty steady at 1,000 words a day, which they recommend 1,600 a day to stay on top. So, some days I go over, and some I am under. Right now I am at 14,000 words.

I have been working on this novel. I started with the idea from a short story in college, a story that most of my classmates thought was a part of novel when it wasn’t back then…not yet. But the writing idea I had was to imagine if one day you woke up with your grandmother by your side telling you to take over the family business…the business of being a grim reaper. I actually got ripped apart for that story in class, so I came back with a different version of how to become a grim reaper. I am nineteen chapters in and I am so ready for the novel to be written and over.

My tip (and struggle) is to keep writing, you can always edit later. Only stop to fix corrections of words from typing fast—because those pesky red lines are so distracting—but keep going. Just get it on paper. Get it done. You can do it.

And here’s a photo of Thunder because having him close helps too! He is as black as Grim.

So now a bit from Addey on how she has been making out (spoiler from Addey–it’s nowhere near as good as Nicole has been doing!)

Nicole challenged me to also try to write this month.  I’ve been a bit overwhelmed with lots of random other things on my to do list, so writing has fallen to the wayside a bit, but the idea of so many others around the world using November as their excuse to write like crazy has inspired me to at least try to write more for this month—even if it’s not 1,000 words a day.

I have also been working on an idea for a novel that I have written and re-written again and again.  It’s an idea that came from a German movie I watched in a class in college.  It’s a source of pretty random inspiration, but so far everyone I have talked to about the plot line and story idea think it’s a great idea, and something unique.  That’s part of the battle in and of itself when it comes to writing—getting the idea just perfect—so I am rolling with it.

My issue was that when I have had the first several chapters critiqued I have been told time and time again that the beginning just wasn’t grabbing the reader.  I didn’t have a good beginning.  So I think I was putting off working on the idea anymore because I didn’t know where to start.  But I decided to tackle a new beginning—to start of a chapter or two into what I had before.  It meant cutting out a lot of already written work, but the book will be better because of it.  I think I’ve come up with a killer first line, too, if I do say so myself.

So that’s where I’m at.  Only a few chapters into my new version of the same idea, but better off than I was in October.

Are you taking on NaNoWriMo to the full extent like Nicole, or using it as inspiration to set aside more time for writing without an end goal in mind like Addey?  Let us know by commenting below!

Jump On Board for NaNoWriMo!

As most writers know, November is a special month because of NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month. We here at borrowed solace do not accept novels, but have in the past accepted excerpts that were not used in novels, but came from one.

So what is this challenge? Basically, you have to write 50,000 words towards a novel (or complete a novel) or large writing project within 30 days. But why can’t this be a collection of short stories, novellas, and poems that make up 50,000 words like our very own journal?! It’s up to you!

So our challenge to you, as some of us editors will participate in this challenge as well, is to write 50,000 words–whether it actually ends up as a novel you have always wanted to write, a memoir, a journal, a chapbook, or a collection of short fictional or nonfiction stories is up to you. Writing is hard when you have a full-time job, school, life, pets, family, friends, clubs, groups, and so much more, so here are a few tips from us editors on what we do for this challenge:

Tip #1: Get organized.

First, know what you are going to do, how you are going to do it, and when you are going to do it. The where and why really don’t matter right now. Some people can write anywhere and some people have a designated writing spot and most writers just like to write. So, are you going to write a brand new novel, finish a novel left hanging in your literary closet of unfinished ideas, or a collection of stories or poems? Once you decide on what, then you can address the how–meaning, how are you going to piece it together? Are you going to write in order of the chapters, write a bunch and then piece together how the stories or poem should follow each other? You need to figure out where to start off from if you are completing a novel. Make an outline, or an agenda day by day if you are a planner like me. I think the biggest challenge for me is finding the time to sit down and actually write!

Tip #2: Set goals you can achieve every day.

The purpose of the challenge is to write—not edit. To put words down on paper to total 50,000. It may seem like a lot, especially to achieve in 30 days, but managing what you can do in a day can really help. Maybe take a few days to plan and devise an attack, then write and keep track of how many words you can write in a day. Some people are fast writers and some are really slow…like me. I write slow, it takes a full day to write two chapters for me.

Tip #3: Get it done!

No excuses, no distractions—except for research or world developing–and no hesitation. For some writers we hesitate to write because we may not have inspiration. Not having any inspiration is not a good excuse, procrastination is not an excuse (though very real), and not being good enough is definitely not an excuse (we’ve all been there, full of doubt). Wing it or plan out a strategy, but know that you can write 50,000 words in a month…in 30 days, and it can be awesome!

Tip #4: Don’t stop.

When you are tired, unfocused, and unsure where to go, just step back, look at what you already completed, and keep going. Most writers won’t challenge themselves with this opportunity, but a lot do. Be the one who doesn’t stop and can complete an amazing project that not a lot of writers can actually complete.

Tip #5: Don’t hesitate to step out into the community.

During this month, awareness of writing spreads, so a lot of people are writing! Don’t be afraid to reach out, talk, and interact with people doing this challenge, especially us here at borrowed solace. You can comment on this blog if you ever need a hand in this challenge, because we editors are struggling too.

We are writers, storm and tide makers, playing the dramatist on stage, the quirky fashion designer tailoring our words, and we are the humans willing to jump into the sea to see what kind hurricane we can create. So don’t be afraid—jump with us!

An Update to Our Masthead

As many of you know, Nicole Taylor went on a hiatus for the Fall 2019 journal. Nicole Taylor was our nonfiction editor and a founder of borrowed solace. She recently decided, after many long and tough considerations, to permanently step away from the journal. We loved having her aboard our ship sailing in these mighty waters with us for the past two years. We wish her success finding all the gold hidden in sunken pirate ships and we know she will watch out for us from a distant lighthouse.

Going forward and into our future, I, Nicole McConnell, your executive editor, will be taking on Nicole Taylor’s role. I will be completing all of her duties in reading nonfiction submissions, selecting finalists, and editing final selections. So please bear with me as I learn her role even more. I am excited to fully embrace this role and can’t wait to see what people submit for nonfiction again this time around.
As for art…Addey (poetry) and Amber (fiction) and I are currently deciding how we want to move forward with art. For this journal, we will be using art as our main cover as we always do, and art for the cover pages of each section.

Please stay tuned for the next announcement, as we also are excited to announce we are finally on our way towards print. So watch for those announcements as well!

Sincerely,

Nicole McConnell

All About Submissions for Issue 3.1

If you’re thinking “Wow, they’re open for submissions already?  The fall issue just came out!” Then you would be right.  We’re thinking the same thing. But such is the life of a journal, and we can’t wait to start reading submissions for issue 3.1, which is un-themed and will come out in spring 2020.  That’s right—2020!

To get your creative juices flowing and give you at least a little bit of insight into what we are looking for, each of the editors has shared a quick summary below of what they hope to read in submissions for issue 3.1!

Fiction:

I’m looking for creative and gripping tales that will haunt the confines of my thoughts. 

Art: 

We are trying something different for art! For this next issue, there will not be an art section, but instead you can submit your art to be featured on our front and back cover! Any type of art can be submitted, though truly unique pieces that play with colors and shock us with how beautiful this world can be, and what people can create, is what will get you accepted.

Nonfiction:

True stories work when two things happen: they keep you wondering how the story is going to end and they make you think or feel (or both.) I want to read stories that have both of these things and that keep my attention to the end, spark my sense of wondering if the tale is real, and strike a place of sympathy—let me know how much the story wants me to care. Bring on the truth! 

Poetry:

With any un-themed issue, I’m never quite sure what I’m looking for.  With un-themed editions there really are no rules, which is what makes them exciting.  As always, I’m looking for work that is exciting to read.  Work that twists and turns as I read each word, and work that plays with the absurdity that language can be.  Give me your crazy poems, your somber poems, your sappy love poems, but make sure that there’s something unexpected contained within the lines on the page.

We hope this helps get you started—we can’t wait to read what you submit.  Happy writing!

Issue 2.2, Corruption, is Out!

This is the third themed edition of borrowed solace, and we selected corruption. Our first theme journal was hinterlands, we picked it to navigate the unknown and uncharted literary places we were traversing since it was our first journal. To break apart the magic and meaning inside a word, to distort reality, to discover truth, to see if we could sail in our boat crafted from stars, space gems, and sparkly dreams or would we be engulfed in the flames of a falling meteorite and sink to the bottomless sea. Home was the second theme because home is supposed to be solace, though we quickly learned home for others can mean a house filled with lies and monsters, courage and love, walls that can turn colors and morph, and inner dragons that can lead us off cliffs to go home. Places that once felt like home are now just somewhere to sleep, smells to define us to others, and we discovered that those who we live with can either bring us joy or pain.

Corruption involves both of these themes to their core. We want to discover the truth behind the lies that lead people to their demise. Corruption is often uncharted but easily accused of and hard to battle. Lies, monsters, and pain are what brings corruption to life. What is a person willing to give, willing to change, willing to embrace for something more, for something we didn’t have before in ways and with decisions we wouldn’t normally make or things we wouldn’t say or think.

You don’t have to dress like Batman or Robin to fight corruption and crime, but if you are like me and donned a cape to read these stories, poems, and embrace art; as always I employ you to read with an open soul that can be filled by borrowed solace seas.

I, with Amber and Addey, thank you for being a part of our little legion of lowercase letters.

Thank you for reading, contributing, and supporting us.  We wouldn’t be here without you!

Writerly Inspirations: August Thirtieth

Happy Friday! This week on the blog we have another collaborative piece you can take with you into the holiday weekend.

Addey and I collaborated on a poem (poems are easier to write collaboratively it seems!) that you can read below.

To concoct this poem, Addey and I texted lines back and forth (we stole the idea from the poem Amber and Addey wrote a few weeks ago). It’s a fun way to get some inspiration if you’re feeling a little bit stuck–you never know where a poem or story is going to go when using this method, and usually it’s not where you would expect!

Try collaborating with a writer friend and see how your separate inspirations combine into one creative work, and check out our poem below!

Sleepwalker

by Nicole McConnell and Addey Vaters

What does it mean?

When you dream about someone–

someone lost to the dark abyss?

And no gravity exists to pull you to the light.

A light that glistens on broken shards of mirror

like the stars had fallen from the sky.

The sky might as well have fallen down–

it should have, but you held up the sky as every

night I dreamed to have your strength–

prayed that the falling stars would give me peace,

because every day I have to wake without you.

On Tropes

So the editors and I, while in a design meeting for the upcoming fall journal, got to talking about Hunger Games. I have read only two of the three books because, to me, they were a dry and slow read. Except for when the author would speed up during the beginning and ending, the prose was slow, and used a lot of tropes. Our talk about books didn’t stop there, as the Twilight series, the Mortal Instruments series, the Throne of Glass series, and so many more rely on the “love triangle” trope. I didn’t really care for the love triangle in Hunger Games, but when I went to finally watch the movies just few a weeks ago, I watched the trope play out on screen. I’m still struggling to figure out if I like the book or the movie better, but that is for another discussion. Addey, Amber, and I agree that some tropes right now are overdone in both books and movies/television.

Tropes, as we writers and readers know, are common underlying subplots to a story–building blocks to the main thread that help develop characters. If you look up writing tropes that are over done, “love triangle” is usually always the first one listed. Why? What makes people like reading about love triangles, and why do writers feel they have to write tropes?

I went to a workshop about putting clever twists on common tropes and here is what I learned: tropes are proven concepts that readers will read, but nevertheless they are common and overused. It really is a shortcut a writer can use to describe the subplot. But, tropes can also be a sort of useful tool. Tropes are a way to express an idea to an audience, and every genre can have tropes that fit just within that particular genre.

What tropes really do as building blocks is set up internal conflict and tie the theme to the story. It can help the log line, pitch, hook, and blurb because these tropes can be used as phrases or keywords for easier searches for readers which might sell more books.

Now here is the kicker–the twisted part to make a common trope yours. Play with “what if;” what aspects can be changed. I think this is why Hunger Games did so well–because the idea, the story, the conflict, was so original and different, it intrigued other readers and writers. And now, like Addey said in our conversation, the idea of Hunger Games is no longer original as other writers have used the idea for inspiration.

So, what about the setting can be unique to your world, the occupation of the hero, the time period the action takes place in, give the readers an unusual focus, or use all of these things. Try to take a trope in the genre you usually write, and then twist it with “what if” and see what you come up with. Try mixing tropes together, torture the hero or heroine with the trope, interplay with an archetype, look at tropes while watching TV or watching a movie, and see what you would do differently with the tropes used.

For some more information and a bunch of links for other help on tropes, visit the following sites:

Really Useful Links for Writers: Tropes and Clichés

14 Popular Fantasy Tropes — And How to Make Them Feel New Again

Romance Tropes

Genre Tropes

Happy troping!

Six Word Prompt: A Girl and A Lion

Write a story or poem and tell a tale but in six words–of where this little girl came from; where she is going; if the lion she is dragging is really a stuffed animal or if it protects the little girl from monsters at night; or if the lion teaches the girl to be a little princess warrior by day and night. What adventures has that road carried them on? Whatever sparks the ignition, use it to write about this girl and her lion. 

Please comment below with your six word story or poem.

An Update on Corruption!

Take a peek inside the next edition to hear about to the selections and finalists from the editors…

Nonfiction — guest editor Nicole McConnell:

I am filling in for an editor and reading, selecting, and editing nonfiction pieces. I have read selections for previous editions to help with the volume of fiction and poetry. I also worked for a journal in college for a semester and I helped with the nonfiction section, so I have some experience. But, like all corruption in general, with some of the stories submitted, I couldn’t tell if they were real or fake, or how much was real and how much was creative license at work. Nonetheless, the stories that I selected are probably different from the style picked by Nicole Taylor, which will make for an interesting edition. I hope you pray, laugh, cry, understand, and are amazed by the wonderful stories of those whose lives have been corrupted by something. Read about one girl who believes in God once, how elements in a man’s life can be broken down into moments, how a girl lied, how a girl will always be the outlier of her family, and how an angel in red will always be there…

Fiction — Amber Porter:

This journal’s selection ranges from shady business practices, to the corrosion of the human self, and many things in between. While some stories may not appear to be slathered in corruption, there are corrupt hints and inklings spread throughout each piece. I hope you enjoy these seven pieces and the corruption that lies deep beneath their written words.

Poetry — Addey Vaters:

I am so excited for our readers to see what’s in store for issue 2.2!  Even though our themed editions are sometimes hard to edit due to the overarching theme that must be included in each accepted piece, I thought we had some amazing submissions this time around.  The poetry section will have some wonderful takes on corruption — corruption of the soul, of natural beauty, of perceptions — and as always includes some frivolous plays on language.  Readers will get to see work from new writers who have never appeared in the journal before, as well as poems written by memorable poets who have graced the pages of borrowed solace in the past.  Corruption is a conflicted issue with such beautiful language talking about such dark things, but I’m eager for issue 2.2 to get out into the world!

Art – Karen and Nicole McConnell:

Art has been a surprise. In the past, there has been great art, but for this journal there has been amazing art! The artists who submitted really took off with the theme of corruption. This journal, there is unique art that we never published before like interesting collages, different views of people, landscapes, the environment, and the corrupted world surrounding us. My mom and I aren’t going to say too much as we want this journal to be a bit of a surprise like it was for us!

Please stay tuned for the list of stories, poems, and artists who will be featured in issue 2.2 and even more to come as this corrupted edition is being pieced together…