Do what you love. Always

My advice to young writers
I guess this is really for anyone who needs it, but here we go!!

 

Follow your passions.  Do what you love. And love what you do.  

For some, that means going to school and getting an expensive piece of paper.  But for others (myself including) it means going to work with a smile on your face.  

 

I started writing when I was in elementary school, got put into a magazine (which you will never find.  I used a pen name that I have literally told no one), and then shelved my creativity until high school, where I wrote in silence.  One of my best friends read through everything, and -God bless her soul- printed out each chapter and put it into sleeves and gave them their own 3 ring binder, which she kept in her locker or let her boyfriend(s) read.  BTW, she was not a harlot, just dated a couple guys in high school. Back off you vultures.

But eventually, that all faded and I stopped writing for a couple years, regardless of how much people told me they liked it.  After that I got calls and emails from several publishing companies after they had read some stuff that I had posted on forums and shit (back when the internet was new).  Those calls sent me into a panic. “I can’t be a writer, that’s ludacris. I’m not nearly good enough for that.” And I delved into a hole and put a shell around myself.

There came a time, I don’t even know what was going on in my head, when I went back to NaNoWriMo, which sparked my interest again and I started writing.  Not long after that I helped form a publishing company, and now here we are.

Yet, none of you know who I am.  I am just a person writing a blog who has her hand in the bowl of claims of validation, trying to tell other people to do things.  What you don’t know is that I have written for a couple big-name authors, with my own words scribed under their name. I have sold papers and stories to different companies and people and colleges that I cannot even begin to wonder where they ended up nor who took the credit for my words.  But here’s the thing with that: I, Courtney, am happy. And you can bet your bottom dollar that not many people could say that same thing today. I don’t make bookoo dollars (even though I work anywhere from 40-80 hours a week) and I should, in all reality, find a new job. But I love the passions of what I do.  We have a company office, where we can sit here and help create a future for you young writers that just want to take a leap into the world and try to be noticed. I get to play with my passion every day, and I want to.  

There are still those moments when I have to stop and wonder if it is all really worth it.  I get the “So how’s business? And your writing?” Question from each and every one of my family members, which is more obligatory than anything.  I can see the doubt in their eyes and hear it in the way they say “So when are you going back to school?” A good chunk of my closest friends are on standby, waiting for things to go downhill, but not knowing that I have an arsenal in my inbox just waiting for the right time to come out to play.  There are days- nights, realistically- where I sit at my desk, with my coffee steaming and my bottle of water (Hydration nation folks) half-full, pulling up several college websites with my bank statements sitting right in front of me. I have thought about turning my back on myself and starting fresh somewhere new.  I am more than capable of doing something much more practical with my skills and my padded resume, where I know that I would make a lot of money.  But I love writing.  

So my point is, don’t be afraid to fail and ignore the people who scoff at you, and do what you love.  Take the time to focus on the things that make you passionate, or at least take some time away from your safe life and focus on something that you love.  Write books, paint masterpieces, and sing lullabies, build houses. Whatever calls to you. You have only one life, and you might as well live it the way you want to.

 

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

-Walt Disney

 

-The Great and Powerful Oz

 

How to Spice up your writing

How to spice up your writing

 

There are Faux pas’ in the world of writing, just like there is in the world of fashion (I.E. crocs).  Do you want to be the Croc’s of book writing?! No, that’s what I thought. So here are some basic things to do/avoid to enhance your story.

 

“Said.”

There is quite possibly nothing more mood-killing than reading the word “Said” a million times.  We know that the person was speaking, so show us, don’t tell us (A topic that will be approached as you continue on).

 

“I love you.”  Said Jenny.

“I know.”  Said Juan.

“Really?”  Said Jenny.

“Really.”  Juan said.

 

Boy, if that didn’t make you cringe, then you need to pick up a few books and actually read the words on the pages and not just the front and back covers (I actually feel rage right meow.  I am so sorry).

 

Using the word “said” Is practically suicide.  It is one of the major things I would tell clients when they hand me a fresh, juicy, manuscript.  “If I see ‘said’ distastefully, I will burn that paper and only feel bad because of the amount of trees it took to prove this point.”

 

Try, instead, adding emotion to your piece.  Throw in some flare, some pizzazz, some oomph!

 

“I love you.”  Jenny tucked her hair behind her ear, biting her lip to hide the strange sensation the new words had brought to her tongue, the books in her hand seeming to be the only thing keeping her grounded.  She felt as if everyone in the hallway at Greensnatch High had stopped to stare at her.

“I know.”

She met the burning gaze of Jaun’s brown eyes, her body growing cold.  “Really?” She whispered, afraid that her voice would betray her.

“Really.”   

 

I had to name the school “Greensnatch High School” because I ruin beautiful things with shitty humor.  But, do you see my point?

 

Dry Description

Now, this is a tricky one because there are two ways to fix this, and it entirely depends on you as the writer, and the subject that you are portraying. For instance, romance is about description and detail, whereas poetry or symbolic writing is about what you don’t say.  

 

Adding more description

This one is pretty easy to fix.  

 

The sunset was pretty.

 

Spice that F**ker up.  Give it a little tone.

 

The pinks and oranges of the setting sun held steady against the dark greens and browns of the tree we sat in, replacing its warm touch with a cool caress, leaving a trail of gooseflesh tickling my arms

 

Okay that was a pretty shitty description, but you get it.

 

Adding emotion

Show, not tell.  

 

Tears ran down her face as she read the letter.

 

No.  Bad dog.  Spit that out.  Throw some emotion in there, don’t tell me that the character is crying, show me, let me get into their head and feel it with them (And this goes for all emotions, but it’s 3:30am and I’m a single 25 year old, so sadness is relatable, okay? Okay).

 

Jess lost track of how long she had been staring at the folded piece of paper.  She read it once, then a second time to let the shock sink in, and then three more times just to make sure that what it said was real.  She held back the pulsing in her eyes for as long as she could, taking deep breaths and telling her heartrate to slow down. She swiped away streaks of black from her cheeks, the sleeve of her favorite grey jacket not yet given a chance to dry.

 

Do you feel that?  Do you feel that Mister Crabs?!  I never once said that she was crying, but it was very well assumed.  

 

Taking away some description

There are times when you don’t particularly need to be super descriptive.  Correct me if I’m wrong here, but one of the best things about reading is creating the scenes in your mind and coming imagining things alongside the MC.  

 

Jacob was over six feet tall, with blonde hair, grey eyes, and a thin frame.

 

Where that description works, there is a better way of doing it.

 

Jacob was taller than me and easily half as thin.  What made matters worse was that his eyes were more pretty than mine, even his lashes were longer and his sandy curls more bouncy.   

 

Let the imagination take part in the creation of the character.  How many of us have seen a book-turned-movie and had to say “Wow, yeah, that character was nothing like what I imagined.”  And went on to list the differences? So yeah, try and leave a little mystery with your descriptions.

 

And of course, SHOW, NOT TELL

“Woowww Courtney, writing in caps?  That’s a little aggressive and I’m gonna need you to stop yelling.”

 

This is probably the most important thing.  Show me what is happening either through dialogue or through description.

 

After the uprising, they waited one hundred and thirty-seven years to come out of hiding again.

 

Instead, guide us to the assumption.  

 

We went into hiding after the last uprising.  Vladimir had put enough of a rift on our kind that we had to stay underground for decades, occasionally letting someone slip back into the human world to see if they got noticed.  One by one we wandered up from our sanctuary as fewer and fewer of our kind came back. I, being the Second to the King, was the first of his loyals to step out into the moonlight.  

“Sir, might you tell me what date it is?”  I stopped the first man I saw, who had a strange device in his hand that illuminated his face and white chords coming from inside of his ears.

“January 3rd.”  The guy furrowed his eyebrows, pulling one of the white tubes from his ears to see me better.  

“It is always hard to adjust to a new year, isn’t it?”  I chuckled, willing him to give me some inkling of the year.

“I still write 2013 on my papers from time to time.”  The man pressed the tube back into his ear and pushed his glasses tighter between his eyes.  

“As do I.”  I tipped my hat at the man, trying to ignore the strange look he was giving me before turning away.  To be fair, if an extremely pale man asked me for the date and was wearing a trenchcoat, I would have reacted much more brashly.

“137 years later. 137.”  I shook my head, adjusting the hat lower to cover more of my face as I disappeared into the crowd.  Now I had to find the new sanctuary in a world that I no longer understood. This was about to get interesting.   

 

Raise your hand if you want me to write that story.  Because I kind of want to.

But anywho, you see what I mean, yes?  Show what is happening, don’t just blatantly say that the sky is blue.  Let your readers use their imagination, and for the love of writing, DON’T use “said” more than a skater boy uses “like.”   

 

Anyways, comment anything that you would like to see me/us talk about in future blogs, as we are only here to help you out.

 

Follow us on Insta, Facebook, Twitter, and whatever the hell else you kids use these days.

 

Peace out Girl Scout.

 

-Courtney

 

Get to know your character with these 100 Questions

100 questions to ask to really get to know your character

 

Character creation is like going on a blind date.  Except you made the person up (which is 100% not a psychiatric case).  So, copy and paste this beast into your preferred writing platform and get to know your character!

 

Note: get into the mind of your character and answer the questions as they would.

 

  1. What is your name?
  2. What is your title?
  3. Where are you from?
  4. Race? (This question is especially valuable in Fantasy/SciFi stories)
  5. Eye color?
  6. Skin Color?
  7. Hair Color?
  8. Favorite color?
  9. Moms name?
  10. Is mom alive/What killed Mom?
  11. Dad’s name/What killed Dad?
  12. Siblings?
  13. If yes, where are they now?
  14. Married?  Spouses name?
  15. Children? Their name(s)?
  16. Preferred fighting style?
  17. Lefty or Righty?
  18. What era were you born in?
  19. How old are you?
  20. What is your destiny?
  21. Puppies or Kittens?
  22. Guns or melee?
  23. Favorite Drink?
  24. Who is your best Friend?
  25. What makes you mad?
  26. Something you couldn’t live without?
  27. What is one thing you should do in your life before you die? (from your characters perspective)
  28. Quirks?
  29. Biggest Fear?
  30. Biggest regret?
  31. Nicknames?  Where did they come from?
  32. Morning or night person?
  33. Would you rather trade looks for intelligence, or intelligence for looks?
  34. Messy or organized person?
  35. Any Collections?
  36. Introvert or extrovert?
  37. One subject that you know the most about?
  38. If you had a warning label, what would it say?
  39. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
  40. If you could be any animal, what would it be? And why?
  41. What is one thing you will never do again?
  42. If your life was a movie, what title would best fit?
  43. Would you rather discover new planets, or the deepest part of the ocean?
  44. If you have to choose to live without one of your senses, which would you choose?
  45. What would be the first thing you did if you became leader of a country (Or similar)?
  46. What superpower would you possess, and why?
  47. If you could time travel, would you go to the past or to the future?
  48. Craziest thing you’ve ever done?
  49. What is “home” to you?
  50. What are you most grateful for?
  51. How would your best friends describe you?
  52. How would you survive a zombie apocalypse?
  53. Would you be more likely to fight for love or money?
  54. Describe your perfect day.
  55. What is your ultimate goal in life?
  56. Wine, whiskey, or beer?
  57. What makes you the happiest?
  58. What trait do you like most about yourself?
  59. How do you de-stress?
  60. What is the craziest thing you have done, and how did it end?
  61. What sound do you love the most?
  62. Views on Astrology?
  63. What is one thing you could change about yourself?
  64. Is there anything that you refuse to do, under any circumstance?
  65. If you could live forever, how would you spend eternity?
  66. In what ways do you hold yourself back?
  67. How do you want to be remembered?
  68. What was your greatest failure, and how did it change you?
  69. What topic will you never joke about? Why?
  70. How do you want to die?
  71. Do you believe people are inherently good, or bad?
  72. Do you believe in a God(s), or higher power?
  73. What is the biggest thing missing in your life?
  74. What does it mean to be powerful?
  75. Are we obligated to help others?
  76. What is truth?
  77. What is beauty?
  78. What is Love?
  79. Do you believe in Soul Mates, and have you ever been in Love?
  80. Favorite drink?
  81. Would you join the military (or similar)?
  82. What gives your life purpose?
  83. Pessimist or optimist?
  84. Do you have an addiction?
  85. How do you deal with pain?
  86. What happens to us when we die?
  87. Dance or Sing?
  88. Guilty Pleasure?
  89. Irrational fears?
  90. If you were to die tonight, would you have any regrets?
  91. What is something that draws you to people?
  92. What is your view on rainy days?
  93. Are you a thrillseeker?
  94. If you had to change your name, what would you change it to?
  95. Any weird talents?
  96. Do you like surprises?
  97. What has been on your mind the most lately?
  98. Who/what has been your biggest teacher?
  99. Where is your happy place?
  100. Are you happy?

TOP 10 BOOKS I WANT TO READ IN 2018

1.) The Magicians Trilogy

I’ve already started the first book, so if I don’t finish this one in 2018 I will be very disappointed with myself.

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Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A high school math genius, he’s secretly fascinated with a series of children’s fantasy novels set in a magical land called Fillory, and real life is disappointing by comparison. When Quentin is unexpectedly admitted to an elite, secret college of magic, it looks like his wildest dreams have come true. But his newfound powers lead him down a rabbit hole of hedonism and disillusionment, and ultimately to the dark secret behind the story of Fillory. The land of his childhood fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he ever could have imagined. . . .

2.) The Sandman Series

This series has like…10 books, but I have already read half of them, and they are small since they are graphic novels. So I’m lumping them all together. These are my absolute favorite books, and I am planning on doing a book review about them soon. I just haven’t been able to finish them yet.

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In PRELUDES & NOCTURNES (Sandman Series Vol #1), an occultist attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. After his 70 year imprisonment and eventual escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. On his arduous journey Morpheus encounters Lucifer, John Constantine, and an all-powerful madman.

3.) The Lunar Chronicles

I read Cinder, and fell in love. When I found out there were other books telling different versions of fairytales I knew I wanted to read more.

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CINDER, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she finds herself at the center of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen – and a dangerous temptation.

Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth’s future.

4.) The Demonata Series

I’ve been a fan of Darren Shan since his 12 book Cirque Du Freak series. I read the first book of the Demonata series years ago, and loved it.  I’ve somehow wandered away from it, and still find myself wondering what lies in store for the main character Grubbs. Since I can’t get it out of my head, I know I need to finish this one or it will haunt me forever.

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Grubbs Grady is an average kid. A bit bigger and slyer than a lot of boys his age (he loves to play evil, ingenious tricks on his sister), but nothing special. He leads an ordinary life, and expects it will always be that way. But when his parents and sister behave strangely … and Grubbs decides to stick his nose in … his entire world is thrown into chaos. He discovers that demons are real, and that terrible things can happen right in front of your eyes.

5.) The Cruel Prince

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 Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

   To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

   In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

6.) Tess of the Road

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In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can’t make a scene at your sister’s wedding and break a relative’s nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess yanks on her boots and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending to be a boy.

Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it’s a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl–a subspecies of dragon–who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she’s tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one.

7.) The Job of the Wasp

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A new arrival at an isolated school for orphaned boys quickly comes to realize there is something wrong with his new home. He hears chilling whispers in the night, his troubled classmates are violent and hostile, and the Headmaster sends cryptic messages, begging his new charge to confess. As the new boy learns to survive on the edges of this impolite society, he starts to unravel a mystery at the school’s dark heart. And that’s when the corpses start turning up.

8.) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

I’ve seen the movie, but never read the book. I’d like to see if it’s as fun to read as it was to watch.

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Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox—the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.

9.) The Internment Series

I have been a huge fan of Lauren DeStano since I read her other series, ‘The Chemical Garden’. When I saw that she has more books out there, I knew I had to get my hands on them.

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On the floating city, you can be anything you dream – a novelist or a singer, a florist or a factory worker… Your life is yours to embrace or to squander. There’s only one rule: you don’t approach THE EDGE. If you do, it’s already over.

Morgan Stockhour knows getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though her older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. There’s too much for her at home: her parents, best friend Pen, and her betrothed, Basil. Her life is ordinary and safe, even if she sometimes does wonder about the ground and why it’s forbidden.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially once she meets Judas. Betrothed to the victim, Judas is being blamed for the murder, but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find—or whom she will lose.

10.) A Face Like Glass

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In the underground city of Caverna the world’s most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare – wines that can remove memories, cheeses that can make you hallucinate and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat. The people of Caverna are more ordinary, but for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to show (or fake) joy, despair or fear – at a price. Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a little girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. For Neverfell’s emotions are as obvious on her face as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, though entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed.

Drawing from Feeling

Have you ever just put on a song and put pen to paper, and see what comes out without worrying about making it perfect? I get art blocks, because more often than not I am too trapped inside my own head. I’m thinking, “What should I draw? Who should I draw? What is the message?”. And while these are things to think about, sometimes when you’re just staring at a blank canvas, and struggling to even come up with anything you need to just unplug and let your mind wander.

When you’re not worrying about the subject, or the message of your work then you’re free to explore all possibilities whether they are perfect or not. It doesn’t matter if you’ve captured the way a person’s eyelashes curl, or the exact shade of blue in the sky because you’re not drawing anything in particular. You’re just exploring, which is always beneficial even if it doesn’t turn out right. Because then, at least you have created something rather than put everything off until you come up with the perfect idea.

Gnarled

‘Humanity’ by Meagan Deiss. 2018.

I was just feeling pretty out of sorts the other day, and put on some music. I grabbed a piece of paper, and started scribbling loosely, just playing with colors. I was just going with the flow, not trying to draw anything in particular. I wanted to capture the song, and the feelings I had in the moment.

It’s a good exercise if you are having art blocks. Choose a song, whatever speaks to you, and try to draw that song. How do you capture the bass sound? How do you capture that melody on paper, and visually represent the feelings it brings within you? Whether it is abstract, or traditional there is no wrong answer as to what you come up with.

 

The Pledge

A great deal of time ago, I wrote this story. I never finished it, as I do with most of my projects, but I thought of posting it here for entertainment. Some day, I may find myself picking this up again…

Chapter 1

“I told you. The blue one looks more slimming”, Eleanor called imprudently. “You don’t want to scare everyone off with your unsightly back fat”, she added.

Merritt rolled her hazel eyes, and replied without missing a beat, “Yes, but then who would be there to distract everyone from the bloated potato on your face. Oh wait…that’s your nose, isn’t it?” A cheeky smile curled Merritt’s lips.

Eleanor crossed her arms, and harrumphed indignantly. But then a moment later they both looked at each other, and laughed.

“You know…”, said Eleanor pointedly, “ I heard from Mrs. Knowlton that a great many families from the Danton entourage will be in attendance tonight. Not to mention, Mr. Levi Danton himself.”

Merritt raised her eyebrow in confusion. “So?”.

“Well, you two were childhood friends, were you not? And it’s been so long seen you’ve seen each other. Aren’t you excited to make his acquaintance again?” Eleanor questioned her sister, as she looked at herself in the mirror approvingly.

A laugh bubbled from Merritt’s throat at this. “Well of course I’m excited to see him! I haven’t had anyone to talk to in months besides you! And your conversation is as stimulating as staring at a blank wall.”

Eleanor glared at her younger sister. “Ha. HA.”, she replied sarcastically. “ And you know that’s not what I meant.”

Merritt finished smoothing out her sapphire blue gown, and looked at her sister in bewilderment. “No? Then, I’m positive I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Sometimes, Eleanor felt that they weren’t even sisters. Merritt could be so dense! “I meant aren’t you excited to see how he’s changed? To see if…feelings have changed since you’ve been a part? You’ve both grown so much in the last 7 months. He’s a man now, and you’re…well you I guess.” She shrugged.

Merritt continued to scrunch her brows in bewilderment. “In…what way?”, she questioned.

“Oh nevermind!”, Eleanor scoffed. “ You’re the worst person to chat with about girl matters. I swear, I’m better off talking to Papa about these things than you!”. Eleanor threw up her hands in exasperation, and walked off, leaving Merritt to finish getting ready.

She looked at her reflection in the mirror, seeing her pale blonde hair, and even paler complexion. Merritt actually knew what she meant. She just didn’t think things were like that for her, and Levi though. He was her best friend since childhood. They played together. Grew up together. Got into trouble together. “We even made a promise to each other. Friends forever.”, she recalled to herself. That wouldn’t change after just a few months a part….would it?

 

4 months ago in Brick Brack’s Shack:

Three figures stood in a dark, and empty room of the festively named tavern, Brick Brack’s Shack. It was a place for those without a place to find refuge for the night. And for others, it was a place for dirty dealings, and any manner of deed that should not be spoken of in the daylight hours.

One of the three figures appeared to be wearing a black, dusty looking robe. His hood was covering most of his face from view, but the little illumination there was still highlighted his milky white eyes, which stared at the door stoically, waiting. The other two were chatting quietly.

The shorter one was a flashy girl in radiant colors. She had striped and polka dotted mismatched socks that somehow complimented the rest of her random ensemble that looked thrown together. Her short hair was bright, cherry red, and at the top of her head were two furry wolf ears. Her eyes were golden like the sun.

The one she was talking to was a handsome, tall man with black hair. He was surely dressed for a party with a fine dark coat, decorative maroon vest, and top hat. His shoes were polished, and his black gloved hands were pressed around an expensive looking cane with two heads, one laughing, and one crying.

The door opened just then, and the two stopped talking. They all looked at the boy who walked into the room.

“Sorry I’m late”, he said apologetically. “I just got into town, and had some things to take care of.”

“The only one who stands to be hurt by your lateness, Levi, is you.”, said the tall gentleman.

Levi shrugged, as if to say, ‘Oh well. What can ya do?’.

“So, after all this time, you are ready to stop resisting, and obediently work off your father’s debt to us?”, questioned the tall gentleman with an elegantly raised brow.

Levi sighed heavily as he replied, “The way I see it, there’s no way around it. You’ve got me pinned into a corner here. Which I’m sure was part of your plan all along.” He glared at them all.

The red haired girl smirked at the tall man, and exclaimed, “Yup! Soren’s great at that!”

“Soren, huh?”, Levi said far too casually. “ Guess I never even bothered to learn your name after all these past months. I’ve just been calling you Demon, or Bastard.”

Soren smiled, yet his eyes remained cold as he said, “Yes, well, Whelp or Bitch suits you too, I think.”

“Haha! He called you bitch!”, giggled the small wolf girl.

Levi’s eyebrow twitched in annoyance.

The dark robed man cleared his throat, startling Levi who didn’t even notice his presence.

“Shall we begin?”, he rasped, speaking for the first time since entering the room.

Soren nodded in agreement. The girl smiled wickedly. “I’m Ylfa, your witness, and the chatterbox over there is Rumel by the way. He will be officiating the ceremony.”

“Kneel in the middle of this etching.”, the mysteriously cloaked Rumel said.

Levi also hadn’t even noticed the complex drawing on the floor. He couldn’t make heads or tails of it, but it must have been a spell of some sort.

“Oh, and I suggest you find something to bite down on.”, Ylfa said cheerfully. “Don’t worry about the sound. No one will hear your screams. The walls have been silenced already.”

“Wha-?”, Levi started to say with more than a little concern in his voice, but as soon as he entered, the magic rune lit up, binding him inside the spell.

A flash of silver caught Levi’s eyes from Soren’s direction. He pulled out a sharp dagger from his coat pocket. Levi gulped in fear. He wasn’t informed of this! Knives were not good! Sweat was starting to bead on his forehead as he thought that maybe he should have asked more questions about this first.

Soren stripped off his black glove, and made a large cut along his own palm. ‘As long as it’s not me’, thought Levi.

“With this blood, we bind.”, said Rumel, chanting from a rehearsed verse only he knew the words to.

Ylfa brought over a large wooden box with ease, which was surprising considering it looked like it weighed a great deal more than she did. She opened it for Soren, and backed away quickly, not at all wanting to be near what was inside. With his bloody hand Soren reached into the box, and grabbed a long, silver chain, taking care to smear his blood all along the individual links as he did so.

“With these chains, we ensnare.”

And at Rumel’s words, the bloody chains levitated from Soren’s palms. Levi was astounded. He knew magic was real of course, but couldn’t help but be amazed when it was right in front of him all the same. It wasn’t every day you were part of a spell being cast! Even if it was to his own detriment.

‘Don’t think the boys back home will believe any of this’, he mused to himself darkly.

“With these bonds, your will be broken.” Rumel’s words echoed throughout the room ominously.

Like a whip, the chains flew to Levi’s skin, wrapping and coiling around him. The silver gleamed red with Soren’s blood, and burned itself into his body, melding silver and flesh together. Levi couldn’t help it.

He screamed.

The chains scorched and wriggled under his skin, physically burrowing into his body. The pain was excruciating. It was the worst feeling he ever experienced. It was both tearing his body apart, and melting it from the inside. His throat was hoarse with screaming, and he could feel his vision darkening. He was about to pass out.

“The shackles of subjugation command you to speak. Do you bequeath your life to this demon?”, called Rumel. His words sounded as if they were underwater. Everything was fading to Levi. He felt so weak, so stripped of his being.

“Levi! Answer!”, shouted Soren, briefly cutting through the murky fog of his mind.

Before his eyelids fluttered closed, and his muscles completely gave out, Levi sealed his fate with the whisper that would change his life forever.

“Yes”.

Photoshop Brushes

Here are some resources I have found helpful if you are looking for 100% free digital brush sets. I may write another blog post about this topic, showcasing the brush sets that are worth paying for as well. Just let me know down in the comment section if you’re interested.

Brusheezy

https://www.brusheezy.com/

This is the largest free brush site I have come across in my search on the internet, and I use it quite often. Basically, if you can think of it, it’s on here. They’ve got trees, clouds, patterns, speckles, animals, grass, hair, grunge, texture, etc. There is even a sister site to this one called ‘Vectoreezy’ if you are looking to get clean vector images for your Illustrator designs. Now all of these are uploaded by regular artists, just like you and me, and they tend to have a disclaimer whether they would like to receive credit for their work or not. So read the description about the brush set thoroughly before you download.

Creative Bloq

https://www.creativebloq.com/photoshop/free-photoshop-brushes-11121140

They have compiled their very own wonderful list of brush sets that are awesome. So, they’ve already done most of the work for you! What I really like about their list is the pencil, realistic charcoal, and marker brush sets. When painting digitally sometimes it’s hard to replicate that ‘traditional’ style you get with good old fashion pen and paper.

My Photoshop Brushes

https://myphotoshopbrushes.com/brushes/

This is another great resource. There are a lot of famous, professional digital artists that upload their personal brush tool sets on here with reference photos to what they painted themselves using those particular brushes. So, if you want to paint like Connor Burke, a renowned concept artist, his brushes are literally on this website. And they’re free!

DeviantArt

https://www.deviantart.com/?q=brushes

DeviantArt is not only a website dedicated to artists all over the world uploading their work for critique, and selling prints. There are a lot of artists that upload their own brushes for free as well. Again, you will have to look at the description to see if it is available for personal, or commercial use. Just type in brushes, or brush sets in the search bar, and see what you’ve got! Because it is an open source site, not all of these brushes will be high quality, so use your own discretion.

All Nighter Hacks

We’ve all been there.

You put your term paper off until the very last minute, and now you need to pull an all nighter to get it done. You’ve got precious little time, but somehow have to churn out a whole project to save your grade, and your ass. You’re stressing, slowly falling into madness from lack of sleep, and you’re pretty sure the more you work, the more your sentences look like alien gibberish written backwards. And while slacking off until the last minute is never the ‘right’ way to get your work done, here are some tips that may make the whole process a little bit smoother when you’re on that time crunch.

1.) Fuel.

Whatever your poison of choice is, whether that’s coffee, redbull, nachos, skittles, or a big, juicy apple (Any death god’s out there? No? okay, I’ll go home….), you’ve got to keep those eyelids open and energized. According to spoonuniversity.com, some of the best foods to help with this would be nuts, seeds, and fruits. Water and caffeine are the best beverages to keep you awake too. Who woulda thought?

2.) BRIGHT LIGHTS BABY

Turn on all the lights in your house. Darkness triggers our brain into thinking, “It’s bed time!”. So, the best thing for you is to keep it bright, so you are more likely to stay awake.

3.) Focus Sounds

Plug in those headphones, and put on your favorite shit to listen to. Everyone is different. Personally, I can’t listen to an upbeat dancy song when I’m working on something because it will make me want to party. Usually, I’ll put on some Celtic Thunder or something else I find calming. I don’t know why. But it helps me focus. You find your thing that keeps your mind sharp, and really crank it up. The sounds help to block you from any distractions from the outside world. Not only that, but music is just fun to listen to, and can boost your mood while you slog through your work!

4.) Limit distractions.

This ties in with the previous point. Turn off the TV. Turn off your phone. (or at least turn off the sound) Lock your door. Tie your hair up. Put your dog to bed because that cute face is too distracting for any work to get done! I know from personal experience, every time my phone pings with an alert, text, update, etc that I get distracted and lose focus on what I’m doing (Perhaps I just have ADHD?), and before I know it I’m playing Space Corgi into the night even if I started out with a plan to get something done.

5.) Take a break!

I know this seems counterproductive, but it actually helps. According to theatlantic.com the optimum ratio of work is 52 minutes with a 17 minute break in between. If you don’t take a break apparently your concentration, and mental function plummets. This may help combat that ‘burnt out’ feeling that tends to come on during/after an all nighter, and improve your overall efficiency with getting that project done quicker, so you can maybe catch a wink of shut eye.

6.) Bring on the Hubba Bubba!

Now this one is weird, and I didn’t know this until I was researching on livescience.com, but apparently chewing gum helps improve your cognitive memory. It gets blood flow to the brain quickly. Crazy, right? This only works for a short period though, so don’t overdo it with the gum.

I hope that helped some of you procrastinators out there. Next time, try to get your shit together all right?

(Who am I kidding? I’m right there with you guys with bags under my eyes and a stack of gum next to me)

I must tell…

I have a confession to make

 

Time for a truth bomb folks.

I, the almighty, have run out of stamina.

There is no more steam.

Running on E.

Exhausted my resources.

The juices stopped flowing.

 

You get the point.  I am coming up on the 1 year anniversary of taking on a 6 book ghostwriting contract (Stay tuned for that release btw.  Love ya. Kisses) and I have 2 books done. TWO. I have spent countless hours chugging away at this damned project, just trying to get through it, to see it to the end.  But here I am, stuck. I think the product is not my best, but it is too late to turn around and start fresh. So instead, I get to stick pins and needles into my brain and try to pull out a good product that I am not even 100% confident in.  At first I thought “pfft, of course I can write a book in a month, I do it for nano every year.” Like this was going to be some really satisfying piece of cake, but here I am trying to pull things from the depths of my mind, hoping for a miracle of some sort.  I have read the story 3 times, have changed/added countless things, and yet I still have the worst case of artists-hate-their-work going on.

Not to mention, this post is the first one I have focused on in a few days (obviously. Sorry).

In all honesty this is a distraction from me having to do any actual work at the moment because I am just stuck.

 

But this happens to all of us at some point.  You hit a wall and you don’t know whether to smash it down, slide down it, or just stay there until someone helps peel you off.

Sometimes you get so wrapped up in the solid projects that they become stale and eventually you lose sight of it entirely.

It’s a helpless feeling, like you will never get your spark back, but some nagging old grandmother sitting in the back of your head is telling you that YES, you will come back to the dark side and crank out more work.  

But in the meantime, you stew in the idea that you are not actually doing anything productive.

It is 2:40am, I am sitting in my office staring at my laptop and Wanda (My fish.  She killed Cosmo in a fit of marital rage), and hoping that some spark will come back.

This post helped some, if I am being honest.  My heart has grown attuned to the silent sounds of my fingers smashing the keys just behind the vibration of the music playing in my ears.  

So, what you are really reading is just words that make the sounds that get my focus in motion.  Okay, now go back and read it much slower, it will make sense eventually. 

Anyways, thanks for staying tuned this long.

 

Ya’ll are great, every last one of you.

Except you Jerry.  Fuck you.

I don’t know anyone named Jeremy I’m sorry.

 

-the intoxicated-by-the-night, Courtney

Shout Out of the Week 2

Hello!

It is once again, that time where I give a shout out to an amazing creator that I’ve recently been obsessed with. That is Toonimated Draws! Not their real name of course, but it is an indicator that he/she not only draws, but also creates animations.

I will post all of the social media links down below so you can check out his/her blog, store, etc. Because I mostly want to talk about the webcomic Room of Swords.

Image result for room of swords

If you enjoy sci-fi adventure stories then I highly recommend you check this out. The description of the webcomic is this, “Strangers plucked from time must find an escape from a mysterious extra-dimensional world. Along the way, they uncover secrets about their environment, how they arrived, and who they are.”

Intrigued? I know I am.

Not only is it an interesting story so far, (chapters are still being released) but the characters themselves are fun to read. Gyrus is a cowardly, yet intelligent astronaut, and Tori is a prideful knight from another land. A weird duo thrown together on an alien planet that have to ‘restore the Room of Swords to open the gate to freedom.’ It reads like a video game with quests, monsters, and puzzles to figure out, which brings out the nerd in me.

Oh, and did I mention this comic is animated? That’s right. Animated. There are panels with animated movements to give the story real depth. The swing of a sword, or the confused blinking of eyes adds a whole other layer to this comic that traditional media wouldn’t be able to capture.

But seriously, just take a look at the first page, of the first chapter. I guarantee you will be hooked enough to keep on reading. And before you know it, you will have finished the whole chapter.

Links below:

http://www.webtoons.com/en/fantasy/room-of-swords/list?title_no=1261

http://toonimated.com/

https://www.instagram.com/toonimated_draws/#_=_

http://toonimated.com/STORE