Ship of the Sky

This week on the blog we are bringing back the exquisite corpse! A little morbid sounding, this is just a writing exercise where you work collaboratively with another person (or more than one person) to add bits and pieces of language together to make a complete poem (or story, or song, or whatever you’d like!) This week, I was joined by Addey to create a poem over text message. So here it is:

Ship of the Sky

By Nicole McConnell and Addey Vaters

The raindrops fall like heavy boulders onto my shoulders.

No matter how hard I tried to harden myself, they soaked me, not rolling off or crumbling.

All the while I stood still in this eye of the storm you created, not moving, not waiving…

Instead waiting for an outcome I knew wasn’t coming.

But I wasn’t alone, the ocean surrounded me.

The crashing waves matched the crushing doubt consuming my soul,

And from that a ship rose out of the water next to me, the moon its sails, the muted sun its hull, the stars it’s deck

It sprung to life out of the nothingness of the sea as if beckoning me aboard…

A string of stars pulled me up onto the deck,

And the churning wind blew into the sails, propelling me into destiny.

A Mystical Update

We are excited to read from our submitters about what truly mystifies them in this world. If you missed the workshop where we talked about the upcoming theme, you can email us at editors@borrowedsolace.com to get the workshop handout if you would like one sent to you. Just put “handout” in the SUBJECT field with a quick message, “I would like to be sent the workshop handout.”

You can also listen to the podcast we published this week–an episode with a quick update and recap of the workshop. You will have to watch for upcoming events–we plan to have more workshops in the future! If you have a great topic you would like to see us cover in a workshop, you can always email us or submit a contact form on the website for us to review.

Don’t forget: if you want to submit an article for the blog, you can do so as well in green submissions.

Last little tidbit, next week we will have a print book in our hands for proofing!! Stay tuned on how print is coming along for the very first journal we ever published online, and what recent journal might get published in hard copy.

Submissions Are Open

…and the fall 2020 theme is Mysticism!

This may be a hard noun, word, abstract concept to conquer. But this team of editors believe in you! Look below to see what each editor is looking for. All we ask is that you have fun with writing and submitting these stories, poems, and art.

fiction editor Amber Porter:

I’m not asking for much, just what mysticism means to you. I want to be mystified.

poetry editor Addey Vaters:

For me, the theme of mysticism doesn’t need to be direct. Sure, send me your poems re-imagining ancient myths and telling spooky stories, but also send me your poems about lost loves that still haunt, magical days spent in the sunshine, and everyday life described in fantastical ways. The idea of mysticism may seem like it has to entail a surreal or fairytale experience, but I’m most interested in poems that make the mundane and the mystical collide.

nonfiction editor Nicole McConnell:

Telling the real tale of mysticism might be a struggle, so I am looking for anything that has brought magic to your life, mystery, or even the paranormal. I want to see what kind of magic you have found in life, a turning point of when faith stopped or when you started to believe, a good and real ghost story encounter, a scary and mysterious story. I want to be mystified as well because everything is a little bit more possible with a little bit of magic and this universe is filled with it.

art

What seems magical, abstract, paranormal, strange, concrete, and so much more around you? We want to see art and photos of the strange, yet not strange, world we live and the art we can create from that strangeness.

To submit, visit our submissions manager. Happy submitting!

If you are feeling unsure about what to write, or if your story fits in with our theme, here are some examples of words/feelings/ideas that could be a good mystical fit:

A Quick Update from Your Editors on COVID-19

Addey

I am able to work from home, which has it’s own challenges but means that I am so much better off than many. I am grateful for this time, even though it is confusing and stressful. I’ve been using my time at home to work on my reading list and actually finish a short story I’ve been working on for ages. While the current set up is inconvenient for most of us, I know that we will be able to look back on this one day once we get to the other side, and that’s what keeps me going. This, too, shall pass.

Amber

Well, it hasn’t really changed much for me. I’m an introvert who doesn’t go out all that often anyways. I just hope family and friends are being cautious and taking care of themselves.

Nicole

My family is safe and I am blessed that I am able to work from home. But it is also a double-edged sword as working with customers and having a puppy barking at everything, climbing on top of the coffee table, chewing through blankets at the seams, and having both of your dogs following you around as a second shadow is hard. Though, like Amber, I have no problem staying at home without contact with the outside world in person.

Journal Updates: Do you want to be featured?

1.       Next week: we will give hints leading up to the reveal of our secret theme for the fall journal, which we are excited about! We will also let you know when we are opening back up for submissions.

2.       Podcasts: we are calling anyone who wants to participate in our creative careers series! Do you have a creative career and want to tell people about it? Let us know and you could be interviewed on the podcast! Shoot us an email at podcast@borrowedsolace.com if you are interested in being featured. We are also going to be releasing and episode next week about how to create during this time of chaos with helpful tips about reducing anxiety and stress.

3.       The blog: we are calling all people who want to submit a blog post or article! We are looking for content to help other writers and artists. Do you have any tips on what makes a good short story? A great poem? A way to get published? A unique way to create art? If so, you can click on the link below and submit your article for review:

Submit to the blog!

Update on Issue 3.1

For this week, we are doing an update with the blog.


We are putting the finishing touches on the Spring 2020 journal coming out, drum roll please…. Friday, March 27th!


Please look for this amazing journal coming your way and if you are part of the journal, congratulations and thank you for being a part of this journal.


We are also discussing the next theme for Fall 2020. We haven’t completely decided yet, but we do know the subgenre will be somewhere in the horror category! 


As always with this crazy world, stay safe and well. 

10 Creative Things to Do Every Month as a Writer

1. Experience Art

Don’t just go and look at art—feel art. Embrace art. Study art. Art takes hard work, patience, silence, a flood of emotions, or a lack of emotions, lots of time. Realize the passion, the technique, the sacrifice art takes. Writers can learn to walk on a painting, a character from a play can inspire our creation for our own, music expresses more ways to say things in beautiful ways like poetry, and every writer can learn something from art. We are all kind of an artist except we paint with words. Museums, concerts, films, and theaters are all great places to seek inspiration.

2. Evaluate Writing & Self

I don’t think writers do this enough. Write a list of both strengths and weaknesses. Work on these, value yourself as a writer, and you should always be growing as one. Track your progress. Keep track of how much or how little you write every day.

I don’t write every day, I write in large quantities, and then I revise. It is a part of my process. Find a pattern and a process and then track whatever you do as a writer, look back at the month and see what you could do for the next month to help improve or better yourself. Things like increasing word count, or what is the difference from night-to-day? Do you write more in the morning or before bed? Do you not dedicate enough time to writing, where-else can you pull that time from? Give yourself goals to reach as a writer and as a reader.

3. Write a 2000 Word Story and Cut It Down to 300

Revision is the hardest thing the writer must do. Writers either tend to go over the word limit, or under the word limit. This challenges you to have a start and a finish. To consider the power of each word. To pay attention to style, syntax, diction, voice, scenes, actions. Everything the writer wants to include and exclude. Pay more attention to the art of your words and the beauty of the story unfolding in a short frame.

Flash writing is very hard for some writers, and easy for some. But finding the balance between word count and style is a goal to strive for.

4. Write in Another’s World

Use the rules of the world to write in. This will challenge your writing skill, we learn best as writers when we are just starting out to write like someone else. To understand the language the same way the author intended for the audience. Do you like the style? The bare language? The overloaded syntax? The rules of magic? The world building? The stage to set the setting? The introduction to the characters?

I still use this exercise to re-emerge myself in language. To follow the rules of someone else, it helps me get out of my head for a while. It helps me get past writer’s block for my own writing projects.

5. Look at and Revise What You Wrote for the Entire Month

I write everything by long hand and then type it. I date everything I write as well. I hate revision, it takes me a long time. So, I write for two weeks, let’s say about 2-4 chapters, and then I revise the last two weeks of the month. I usually rewrite when I revise, or send my chapters off to beta readers and revise based on their feedback. I rely on my beta readers for different things, and I switch between them for different projects.

Looking at what you wrote at the end of the month, and then revising, will improve time management when writing. It will be less work when you have completed the project and when the time comes for edits and publication. It will help ward off the dreaded manual overhaul, I promise.

Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.

Benjamin Franklin

6. Find a Club or Go to a Meeting

If you look online for local meetings, usually there are writing groups and clubs around town. Join one or go to a few group meeting/hangouts. Talking with other writers will teach you a lot if you already don’t do this. I have a group of writing friends and we meet once or twice a month We talk about what we are writing, any new techniques what we learned and what to try, or cool books to read. We also beta read for each other and discuss each other’s writings to help evaluate one another.

Other writers will make you a better writer, guaranteed!

7. Start a Blog or Post on Another’s Blog

Blogs are great because they are filled with advice, links, and current topics of the writing world. Blogs do take a lot of time and work, I won’t lie. But if you are a serious writer, and want to learn thing and want to share those things with others—this is the way to do it. Consider starting one if you haven’t already. It will help build your brand as an author and a writer.

Otherwise, follow a blog by signing up for the newsletter. Or if you know someone with a blog ask them to be a guest writer once in a while. A blog can also help exercise a different way of writing. Have fun with it!

My suggestion would be to post at least once a month and with insightful material and topics to keep your followers and readers interested. A blog is meant to be helpful to other writers and readers, to give encouragement, inspiration, and advice. Be truthful. Be generous. Be awesome.

8. Listen to a New Song, Watch a New Movie, New TV Show, etc.

This is all about inspiration, creativity, and imagination. Write a prompt from a song title or from the lyrics. Use a TV show to write in an author’s world different than your own. Or a movie to spark a possible plot twist in a story you are writing, or write a trope used in the movie.

Explore a video game with one of your own characters. Instead of just reading a book for your pleasure, look for literary crafts the author used, and try to implement them into your story. Use anime for imagination. Write a short story based on the theme of the anime, or the daily life of a character, but them doing everything the opposite. Where does the story take you then?

9. Find a New Author or Blog to Read

Constantly expand your horizons as a writer. Maybe even try reading outside your favorite authors and genres, and explore other blogs. They will have tips and that can be unique to add to your skill set. Every genre has a set of techniques, and crossing genres is thrilling for both the story and the reader.

The tools you can add to your writing toolbox will always improve your style and story.

10. Write a to Do List for the Next Month

Some writers are organized and some aren’t. It doesn’t matter if your writing process is organized or messy, keep track of what needs to be done. Once you start writing a list, it may become overwhelming, but call it a master list. Take 3 or 5 things off that list to do every month. It increases productivity as well as positivity. Your brain releases endorphins when you check a box down, and it feels good to accomplish things.

Here is an example of my list for the month:

·         Revise chapter one based on critiques

·         Finish writing chapter two

·         Finish writing chapter three

·         Send both two and three to Amber for beta reading

·         Write and publish a blog post

This is an article from my blog on HubPages and you can click on the link below to read it or check out my other articles!

10 Creative Things to Do Every Month as a Writer

The Book Club

We are starting a new category here on the blog–the book club. This is a series that will cover all things books–what we are reading, what we recommend to you, and anything else book related that we want to share with you! Today we have a collaborative post covering two books that we have read recently. Should you take the time to immerse yourself in these books? Keep reading to find out!

The last book I read was, Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake.

A little poem for a quick synopsis on the book:

“Three dark queens
Are born in a glen,
Sweet little triplets
Will never be friends

Three dark sisters
All fair to be seen,
Two to devour
And one to be Queen”

I don’t really go on social media very often, and I am terrible at posting (if you couldn’t tell), so I didn’t even know there was a lot of hype about this book. But I subscribe to Owl Crate, and this came in one of the boxes. I am a huge fan of young adult, especially fantasy (I tend to write fantasy), so I decided to go ahead and read this book without knowing basically anything, without having any pre-conceptions at all. After I finished the book, I was so confused, frustrated, and a bit over-whelmed that I looked up this book to find out what the hype and the not-so-hype comments and reviews were.

I don’t usually give bad reviews when it comes to books, but because the summary of this book was written so well, I had some expectations. What I got after reading was an anger disorder. Instead of giving bad reviews, I tend to try and analyze the book to see what went wrong as either a writer or a reader. Me and the other editors just did a podcast about beginnings, and I remember saying for fantasy, “beginnings are hard because of world-building.” This book is a prime example of where and when you should not start.

I was so confused trying to keep track of the world, the rules, the cultures, the game the princesses are playing, the relationships, the cliché tropes, and the horrible side characters who were more important than the main characters. And now I realize I am getting off track, but might as well keep going–you don’t really see any of the promises the summary of the book gave until you are 400 pages in. And now, I am done going off track.

This particular book taught me that as a reader, writer and an editor, I took a point-of-view of being snobbish with what I thought might be a cool book. There are a few things I learned to stray away from when writing my own stories, as I have painfully learned from reading this book.

1.       Don’t over promise and not deliver: I think a lot of people got sucked in like I did with the idea of this book that it could be something cool—and it was not!

2.       Pacing: pacing in a story is sooo crucial and this novel had terrible and slow pacing which made people want to give up reading.

3.       Clichés and tropes: be careful on how these are used, don’t use them only for an idea and plot line structure. Enough said, so many people can rant about this, it seems not to get heard, though.

4.       Characters: main characters should be focused on solely when driving the plot forward, secondary characters are there to support—not to act. (So many people in the reviews and comments got caught up hating the secondary characters and said that the main ones were hard to focus on. As the reader I find this funny because I didn’t think there necessarily were supporting characters).

5.       Having too many characters: this can actually harm the story rather than give it complexity if not done well.

6.       World: for fantasy and sci-fi writers, the world building is what we are all about. (I pride myself on being a good world builder). I can understand it’s hard for any writer to make up a world and then describe that world to readers even, if it’s the world we are living in and it’s realistic, everyone’s story is different. That is what makes every novel different. Blake’s world building was not well thought out. She used rules and society norms to change her plot when she needed a turn, a no-no. World building is a setting which can be used for several things, but should not be for turning the plot. No-no and I am doing a finger no-no wag at this book.

7.       Lastly, I promise: so many people said this book was dark. Show me where?!?! This book wasn’t twisted or dark at all! If we are going dark, I want cruelty, murder, mayhem, crazy cray murder plots towards the sisters, the torture of souls and bodies. If this world is supposed to be dark, then why doesn’t the world get Dirty Harry? I don’t get it. There was barely any killing at all, and when it did happen, the author glossed over it! The hell, don’t tell, show, that is what makes a horror/twisted little fairy tale good–the details in how the deed was done.

I now rest my case. If anyone has read this book, let me know in the comments below if you liked it! I thought I was the right audience for this book, but maybe I am not and cannot appreciate it the same way someone else can. If you did not like this book, I feel your pain. If you want to read this book to see if the reviews or comments are true…I will give you a dare this year as a goal to read this book!

And now, on to Addey’s thoughts on a decidedly different type of book…

I went through a bit of a drought when it comes to good books at the end of last year.  I tend to read books that fall into one of two categories: classics or historical fiction.  I am also a Christian, so a good chunk of what I read falls under the category of Christian or inspirational fiction, too.  Towards the end of last year and during January of this year I read two books, neither of which were very good.  I have some tried and true favorite authors who were some of my favorites when I was first introduced to inspirational historical fiction, and one of those said authors came out with a new series towards the end of last year.  Through a fortunate series of events I was given autographed copies of the first two books in the series, so, of course, I had to read them.  But they were disappointing. 

I can usually get through a book in a week, but both of these books took me several months to finish!  I think this may be due to the writing style—when I fell in love with this author I was in high school, and that was a shockingly long time ago once I get to thinking about it—and I also think it’s because this author has started churning out books at an alarming rate, which leaves little time for thoroughly developed characters and plots.  They are the kind of books that follow similar plot lines.  Where a reader can tell what’s going to happen next and where characters seem to be watching the plot go by but not participating in or feeling the events of the story.  I felt like I needed to finish them, but I won’t be getting the third book.

You may have noticed that throughout this whole description I have not mentioned the author or series, and that is because these books are not actually what I’m going to write about today!  I’m going to be telling you about a different, older book by one of my favorite authors that I finally tracked down and ordered online.  It’s not autographed and is, in fact, a slightly tattered copy retired from a Midwestern library district with stamps and bar codes over the cover to prove it.  And it’s such a good book!  I finished it in less than a week compared to the months that dragged by before I finished those other two.

The book I’m actually going to be talking about is The Frontiersman’s Daughter by Laura Frantz.  It’s Frantz’ first novel, and one of only three that I hadn’t yet devoured by the author as of a month ago.  I can see, now, why this book started off Frantz’ career—it’s truly a good read!

First, a little backstory.  Sometimes when I am in need of a good book to read, I will go to the library and walk up and down the rows of shelves, pulling out books at random.  I don’t always take them all home with me (for only three weeks, don’t worry—I’m not a library thief!) but it gives me some new authors to check out.  I tend to go for books that have covers that are eye catching and that look like my kind of books.  If you are familiar with the inspirational historical fiction genre, then you know what I’m talking about.  There’s usually a beautiful heroine on the front, dressed head to toe in period attire, surrounded by some bits of the story’s setting.  On one of these library excursions a year ago I found a series of books called the Ballantyne Legacy.  The covers fit the bill, and I decided to give them a try. 

…and that’s how I was hooked by Laura Frantz’s books!

In the year since I discovered her books, I slowly tracked them all down at the library, and even purchased one of her newer books from good old Barnes and Noble, but I was having a hard time finding a couple books, one of them being The Frontiersman’s Daughter.  Recently, then, after my disappointing re-introduction to the author I mentioned previously, I wanted to read something good!  So I looked online to see what I could find and ended up ordering five books, one of which was The Frontiersman’s Daughter.

Unlike Nicole, I was very pleased with my choice!  The story is set in the time frame right around and after the American Revolutionary War, but most of it takes place in the territory of Kentucky, or Kentucke, as it was first called, and is largely unconcerned with the Revolution.  It’s a really good story that left me wanting to know what happened next.  There’s a bit of a love triangle, which I usually despise, but actually worked in this story (although one of Lael’s—the main character—love interests’ story lines is never really resolved, which left me wanting more).

One of the reason’s I like Frantz as an author is that she doesn’t shy away from using historical vernacular.  I find that in a lot of historical fiction that falls into the not-so-great category the characters speak like they were born yesterday.  That doesn’t add up if the character is, in reality, 200+ years old, so I appreciate when authors trust their readers enough to use the spelling and speaking styles that are accurate to the time period the characters are in. 

Frantz also just has a knack for writing believable storylines and love stories.  There’s nothing I hate more than a rushed story, or one that barely focuses on the love story and suddenly has characters get married in the end seemingly out of nowhere.  Love takes time to develop, and I appreciate that Frantz’ plotlines allow for this time.  The books are, consequently, sometimes on the longer side.  I often find, though, that I get so engrossed in the story that I wish there was more!

To sum up this lengthy examination of my reading habits: go read Laura Frantz if you are a fan of historical fiction!  Even if you aren’t a reader of “inspirational” fiction, her books don’t hit you over the head with it, so I’d still recommend giving them a try.  The Ballantyne Legacy series is a great place to start, but The Frontiersman’s Daughter is an excellent place to dig in, too.

Images courtesy of Goodreads (1, 2, 3).

Valentine Poems

Today, since it is Valentine’s Day, I wrote some poems about my dogs with, of course, some photos. The first poem is for my puggle Ellie Mae. The second poem is about my little man, and German Shepherd, Thunder Storm. Hope you enjoy! 

Ellie (left) and Thunder (right)

Car Ride

On day of reprieve
the river calls our names
the car begs for her ears
to fly as she smells the
wind out the window
her curly tail wound tight
as we ride as one
adventure onto the seas
free as the willow trees
her whines
curly tail
snorts
the summer heat
trudging tug boats
flying fish flies
the river freedom
from our home,
cares, woes,
the things that
colden our bones
and when the sun
threatens to set
we beg the day to stay

In the Daylight

this beautiful nightmare
came covered in black,
tawny colored eyes with
a storm of understanding
in world i didn’t understand yet
but he is more patient than i
to teach my nerves
tightly wound in my body
to stay steady in front of the herd
to overcome the obstacle
to protect oneself in life
not too fast
not too slow
be formidable while awake
the shadow of an avalanche
facing a daunting challenge
set by his steady gaze
his steady heart
his never-ending loyalty to waiver
telling me when i sleep
don’t be discouraged by my
lack of focus
one day soon
one step near
one breath closer
i will become the best friend
you need me to be.

 

DIY Alcohol Ink Art

Do you like making art?

How about with alcohol?

Not the kind you drink though, sorry. Today, I would like to show you, mostly tell you, my process of making your own alcohol inks and some fun things you can do with them.

First, hit that dollar store! I am cheap and poor with that million dollar attitude (could spend it if I had it), so you can find everything you need at Dollar Tree.

Supplies:

·         At least eight bottles (I used the empty travel shampoo bottles)

·         Two packages of  permanent markers, eight count (make sure it is permanent)

·         Rubbing alcohol 91% proof (there are different grades out there)

·         Pliers

·         Rubber (latex/nitrile) gloves

·         X-Acto knife

·         A frame with real glass or any type of paper

·         Hair dryer or heat tool

Instructions for DIY alcohol ink:

1.       With a small struggle and with gloves on, rip the marker in half and take out the color stick (don’t know what else to call it). Put this in a bottle and make a small incision of it in the middle to let the ink bleed out, each color will have two each.

2.       Pour alcohol like it’s raining into the bottle until a half an inch from the top.

3.       Next screw the cap on and shake.

4.       Do steps 1-3 for all bottles.

5.       Next, let them sit on a shelf and be forgotten about for at least 24 hours, though the longer, the better.

6.       Also in a separate spray bottle, put rubbing alcohol in it and fill it to the stop.

7.       Optional step: you can take the color stick out and squeeze the remaining juice (ink) into the bottle, or like lazy me and keep it in the bottle.

8.       Another optional step: can also label your bottles with colors, I don’t.

Instructions to create some not so terrible art:

1.       Disassemble your frame so only the glass remains. Put the rest of the frame aside. On a piece of cardboard, place the glass, select the colors you would like to use and combine, and the alcohol spray bottle.

2.       Spray the glass with the alcohol, dibble, dabble the colors in random dots, lines, swirls on the glass. Then spray again with the alcohol.

3.       I used a hair dryer as opposed a heating tool, a heating tool gets too hot and you cannot work the ink as much—in my opinion. But anyways, it may take a few times, but you can make waves, mix the colors together, and make it dry faster. I noticed the ink likes to go the edges, so blow inward when that happens and you will not get a line.

4.       Put the frame back together and there you go! A masterpiece!

5.       Also once it is try, you can spray again, only once or twice and it will create dots instead of a blurred line.

6.       You can either frame it by itself, or print something off from the print and put behind the class I have both shown below of what I did.

Let me know if you have tried alcohol inks, what you have done with them, or tried my version!

This is how the inks should look when you are done making them. 
Here are some examples of what I did with the inks.