Penslayer Book Highlight | The Little Book of Skincare

I don't share books on my blog for the simple reason that I'm shy + I don't believe anyone will really care.  But this one book highlights my one not-writing passion, and I've just got a bug to talk about it.  Also, Mirriam said, "Just do what you want on your blog!" so I'm just going to do that + hope for the best! :)

the little book of skincare  |  by charlotte cho

VERY SHORT BACKSTORY.  |  Like Charlotte, I was late getting on to the skincare scene, and when I arrived, I DEFINITELY didn't know what I was doing.  I picked up tips here + there, but nothing truly definitive, up-front, + easy to understand as when my husband got me this little book for Christmas.  BOOM.  I took off.  Maybe this isn't immediately interesting to you, but my theory is, if you are alive + have skin, this book is pertinent to you!

The Famous 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine  |  It's possible you've already heard of this routine.  To westerners, this seems outrageously extravagant + time-consuming.  But BELIEVE ME, IT'S NOT.  Every step in this routine is crucial to giving your skin what it needs + helping you get the most out of your skin!  "Ten" steps isn't mandatory: Charlotte is careful to point out that it is "ten" in general, but some products in that routine are used only once or twice a week, or even only once or twice a MONTH, depending on what your skin needs.  But it's in your repertoire, ready to be doled out when your skin is in need.

"my skincare routine isn't crazy, it's just thorough"

1-2.  The Double-Cleanse.
Yes, twice - but not with the same cleanser.  Basic chemistry rules apply: you will use an oil-based cleanser first to break down the oily products on your skin, like makeup and ordinary facial junk that builds up on the surface of your skin.  Once the oil cleanser has worked the oil gunk loose, a water-based cleanser will be used to wash off the oil-base.  (Oil-based cleansers are designed to work with oil AND to be removed by water-based cleansers.  SCIENCE.  IT HAPPENS.)

this is not frivolous! this is basic chemistry being applied to make sure your skin is ACTUALLY clean.  we're not using two different cleansers just to look rich + fab.

3.  Exfoliate!  EXFOLIATE!
I do a head-to-toe exfoliation because skin is my largest organ + I want to take good care of it!  I'll use a rough cloth or an exfoliating mitt on my body, but for my face I will use an exfoliating gel.  Depending on your skin's sensitivity + needs, you can exfoliate only a few times a week, or very gently once a day.  I do it once every morning because my skin is pretty normal + chill, but most of my friends have VERY picky, sensitive skin, and they have to tweak the routine accordingly.

exfoliate? but WHY? because even you would have trouble wading through a barricade of icky, built-up, dead skin cells if YOU were a yummy skincare product. you want to get that dead stuff off to allow your skincare products to sink in.  ALSO it really helps refine the elasticity (youthful appearance) of your skin + promotes blood-flow to the upper levels of your dermis which is GOOD because you blood has yummy nutrients for your skin too.

4.  Toner.
Sigh.  I know.  Most people are going to skip this because it doesn't SEEM like it does any good.  THAT NOTION MAKES ME SAD.  But listen!  Even the cleansers that are just right for your skin will upset the proper pH level of your delicate facial skin.  This can lead to irritation and more problems if left unchecked.  TONER PUTS EVERYTHING BACK TO NORMAL.  In addition, toner preps your skin to absorb the other nutrients you're going to put on your skin in a minute.  Very much a win-win!

avoid alcoholic toners!  trust me, "astringents" are drying + extremely unhelpful to the facial skin.  charlotte is careful to point out that "cetyl alcohol" and "stearyl alcohol" are GOOD for you, sometimes referred to as "fatty alcohol," but in general steer clear of anything with the label "astringent" or containing an ingredient listed as just "alcohol" because it is NOT actually good for you skin.

5-6-7.  Essence + Ampoules + Sheet Masks.
THIS is where you really start giving your skin the yummy good stuff.  Essences are full of ingredients designed to plump, enhance, hydrate, rejuvenate, brighten, enliven, and enrich your skin.  It's like giving yourself a freak-healthy granola-style smoothie smack on your face.

Ampoules (as Charlotte describes them) are like essences boiled down into a concentrate.  These are powerful and used sparingly, and usually only when a problem is cropping up that needs addressing.

SHEET MASKS ARE THE BOMB.  Generally much cheaper than a bottle of essence or an ampoule, sheet masks are a way of getting a good soaking of essence on your face while minimizing the natural risk of product evaporation from your skin before you can absorb it.  They take roughly 20-30 minutes to soak in, they are cooling, refreshing, fun, inexpensive (I can get a package of them for a dollar each or less off Amazon), and they're a great way of getting LOTS of different skincare essences for many different skin needs without splashing out on lots of bottles of differences essences.

8.  Eye Cream.
DUR.  The skin around your eyes is thin, delicate, + in need of as much TLC as anything else.  Eye creams are specifically designed to work with that skin to brighten + hydrate.  (Dark circles.  Oh, I have them.)

if you don't want to splash out on a special eye cream, that's okay.  i often just use a touch of olive oil because it's healthy + hydrating.  just don't neglect your eyes, that's all!

This is often people's one + only step to their skincare routine, and yet it's nearly last in the 10-step skincare lineup.  Many of the preceding products have moisturizing elements in them, but this is the BIG GUN.  This is what keeps your skin looking plump, young, energized, rich, smooth, + elastic.  Hydration is key to keeping your skin looking healthy, otherwise it's going to become dull + flat + grey. C'est yuck.

DID YOU KNOW THAT oily skin does NOT mean you get to avoid moisturizing!  an oily face is your skin's way of saying, "HELP. I'M WORKING TOO HARD HERE."  moisturizing helps give your skin a break + lets your skin slow down + not overproduce so much oil.  there are lots of moisturizers designed for oily skin types to give them the hydration they need while hushing up their glands and calming everything down.  WELL, NOW YOU KNOW.

10.  Sunscreen.
THE SUN IS A DEATH-RAY.  I wish I could have snapped a picture of my niece's and my nephew's faces when I explained to them that sunscreen is more than just about avoiding a burn: it's about keeping off the sun's UVA rays, the ones which break down the inner cushioning of your skin, kill your skin cells, produce discolouration, wrinkles, loss of elasticity, and cause cancer.  THEY WERE SCARED.  And they should be!  The sun, as warm + inviting as it seems (I'm a cat: I loooove the sun), is extremely harmful to our health, and especially the long-term health of our protective organ - our skin.

you are probably not keen on overdrinking or smoking, right? because that's bad for your organs the LUNGS + LIVER.  so why would you skimp on keeping your largest, most protecting organ safe?  I ASK YOU.

but why this order?

All these steps + products, from 1-10, are organized rationally.  Obviously you want cleansing, exfoliating, + toning to come first to prep your skin for your skincare products (not doing this creates a waste of money if you actually bought skincare products).  But the products are used in order of weight consistency.  DUH.  Slap on a thick layer of moisturizer, and how is a delicate essence supposed to get down through your skin cells?

lightest weight product to heaviest  //  that's the way to apply

the book as a whole

- is a delight to read.  Charlotte Cho, a Korean born in California, is fully aware of the western mindset about skincare, and she does not shy away from tackling those misconceptions head-on.  All your concerns are addressed in a hilarious, easy-to-follow, delightful way, and that seemingly-weird, extravagant world of Korean skincare is opened up + revealed for what it is: a down-to-earth, no-nonsense, effective method for protecting our skin + keeping it healthy.

Skincare is a passion of mine: I could eat simple food + splash out on skincare products all day long if I allowed to!  It is relaxing, therapeutic, + the results are wonderful.  This has nothing to do with writing but it is definitely a topic which is near + dear to me, so I'm sharing it with you. Again, if you have skin + you are still alive, I highly recommend this book! <3

all images via pinterest

Ethandune [More Etc.] Excerpts | (Still) The Setup Phase

First of two, I wanted to thank everyone for the overwhelmingly understanding response to my depression post a few days ago.  It was not an easy post to write and it was NOT an easy post to send live.  Just the simple act of getting these things off my chest and out in front was a relief, and I'm so glad you were all so understanding, compassionate, and encouraging.  It has made the days easier to get through and the need to cry far less.


Through all this, I have still been able to write!  I've been doing a lot of word-wars, which have slowly but surely crept my word-count up in Ethandune to (as I write this) 28,897 words.  My writing is my core, and you'd probably never be able to tell what a mess I've been these past two weeks if you read what I've written during that time, which in itself is an encouraging thing to note.

Well, you don't get to read what all I wrote during the past two weeks, but you DO get a glimpse, so at least that's SOMEthing.  (Everyone seemed chill with the term "snippets" so I guess I'll just let sleeping dogs lie.)  Also, just a brief reminder of the chronological order of the stories:

ethandune // talldogs
maresgate // cruxgang


The high ground was a sudden outcropping of the bones of the mountain, twisting upward like a wrestler’s shoulder locked in battle with the sky. I swarmed up after the others, coming up out of a rustling backdrop of coffee boughs, and emerged with my head in the clear wind and my eyes burning with the sun. For a moment everything was a sparkle-haze of glare-flecks, like the mottling on a meadowlark’s egg, with the mothy-winged gleam of the men’s silhouettes all around me. Then, as I climbed to my feet, Plenilune opened up below me, my vision cleared, and I was looking down, down, down on a kind of beauty best taken naked than wrapped up in words.
Dammerung turned his head—I saw the little winging of silver hairs at his temples glint in the sunlight—and said to Coeur de Leon, “Which are the kingdoms of this world that are vying for your obeisance?”

Dammerung walked back from the edge; passing me, I saw a shaded aspect to his countenance, his eyes downcast to his feet as he picked his way over the rocks. The pommel of his sword gleamed an odd blue-green, and I told myself it was only the backlight of the forest playing tricks with my vision.
“Not a peaceful time,” he said idly, not looking back; “not then, nor awhile after. There was much to be buried of Plenilune dead—” He turned of a sudden, his foot on the top step which led down into the orchard. That bony, harsh, maliciously unhappy visage seized his countenance and froze it for a second in a mask of black ferocity. “Sometimes their graves can’t hold them, and they walk back undead.”

I had drunk too much sun, as a man drinks too much wine; in a sleepy, pleasant daze I walked tagalong after Goddgofang and Aaron Golightly down the sloped track to town, bumping now and again into the jostling bodies of Lapwing and Wagtail, who walked with me.

The track led me out of the coffee-swathes into a sudden, long greensward that arced across the hillside and went swooping down toward a rocky, cliffed bay below. The grasses of the sward were long and uncut, filled with the whirring rattle of the summertime cicadas, and coming out of the trees I was met with an uphill rush of sea-wind that roared among the grasses, lifting my damp hair off my forehead, and blowing up my arms from my sides with its force. The long grasses flattened and ran away before the wind like the brothers in Joseph’s dreams, and, spurred by the vein-fire magic of the thing and the respite of the open turf, I began to run downhill along the track, into the head-wind, and knew in those flying, salty, throbbing minutes how a gull must feel on the wing.

Slowly, slowly, like the swing of a cat’s tail, the foot began to move again.
“The coffee—it is ready? I will take it black.”
Knoll Fairfax handed the cup over reluctantly. “You do not demand an explanation of me?”
Aaron spoke up for the first time, having hung back on the leaf-green outskirts of the kitchen-garden, so that, once again, I had forgot his presence.
“Goddgofang likes you,” he put in gently. “He will not press a man for answers, not if he likes him.”
“Oh!” mocked Fairfax. “He likes the answers to come willingly.”
Goddgofang set his cup on his knee and shrugged pleasantly, his eyes on the curl of steam and the shadow of his moving foot.
Fairfax came round on the de la Mare, shaking his head wrathfully. “I never fought under your father. What view of action I saw was in the north, when the Carmarthen decided our borders were weak with our own civil squabbling. But I heard, even then, that your father was like that. You might be him, two decades and a hand-cast of years ago.”
“Actually,” Goddgofang raised a gentle smile to the man’s face, “I look more like my uncle.”

[What if the problem is not that large?]
I spun round on Malkin. “What do you mean?”
He shook himself, compacted his limbs, and vaulted gracefully into the deep recess of the windowsill, so that his lean black body swallowed up a cat’s-shape of stars in the glim of the night sky. [What if we are going about this all the wrong way? What if—instead of being so massive as the celestial oceans, the problem is really quite small—like a door?]
Like a door. Small—like a door. Small—like the way into the kingdom of heaven. Small—like the manger of the Christ. Small. //Small.//
“I’ve been looking at this all wrong!” I cried. “I have been trying to crowd the sun with angels, when all along they were small enough to fit through the eye of a needle!” 

The Truth About Being Honest When You Are Terrified

I've been crying for the past two weeks.  Every day I think, this is the bottom of the barrel, it can't get any worse than this - and then another barrel opens up below that and I fall even lower.  To my chagrin, I'm a painfully honest person.  I hate lying.  So every time someone asks me how I'm doing, I tell them about the barrel I'm in.  Unfortunately that has resulted almost exclusively in lectures about how to get out of the barrel, which have left me more bruised + battered than before.

you could plant me like a tree beside a river
you could tangle me in soil + let my roots run wild
and i would blossom like a flower in a desert
//but for now just let me cry//

Life leaves wounds, wounds which I'm not sure ever really heal until the Lord comes back, and I've always been a deeply passionate, vulnerable person, which means my soul is so close to the surface that it gets hurt a lot without me knowing how to protect it.  I see people close to me who have tough skins and manage to plough through their hurts, who manage to overcome them and keep going - and I'm left miserable + drowning in a sense of insecurity because I'm NOT the suffer-in-silence type.  If I try to bottle it away, I create what the past two weeks have been: swallowing-glass misery + a feeling of being emotionally dead yet suffering hellacious agony at the same time.

you could raise me like a banner in a battle
put victory like fire behind my shining eyes
and i would drift like falling snow over the embers
//but for now just let me lie//

Please Handle Souls With Care.  |  Like a small wild animal, I will lash out when I feel like I'm backed into a corner + can't take any more.  It's a nasty reaction and a nasty place to be, and it's where I've been for the past two weeks - getting pushed further + further into a corner //and then getting harried + cut more when I react because I feel like I can't take any more.//  Sometimes it's the regrettable, angry lashing-out of someone in pain, sometimes it's the desperate crying of the two blind men calling for Jesus' mercy - either way, everything around me seems to try to smother me.  My soul is cut raw + I'm begging for someone to handle it gently.

bind up these broken bones
mercy, bend + breathe me back to life
but not before you show me how to die

I'm Terrified of People Now + Somehow I Still Want to be Honest.  |  Half of what you see on The Penslayer is the burst of flame + genius that comes with my magic-prone, imaginative soul.  It's all very nice to look at, and maybe you wish you had that spark too.  Everybody writes differently, everybody has a different soul; I just wanted you to know that, behind the glamour + the flash + the prose I write which you like to eat, there's a young woman who is not always sure how to be happy, and has been crawling through a living death for awhile.  I am literally shaking head to toe with fear as I write this.  It's not all Dammerung + cool writing.  It's having never lived this life before + messing up a lot at it while simultaneously feeling like I should be doing better than I am.  It's been living with the guilt of feeling guilty.  It's been hurting + feeling like the hurt is all my fault.  It's been feeling lost + wondering if I accidentally threw away the map.

i can't be the only one

This is my story right now.  I share it because, dreadfully introverted as I am, sharing my burdens is how I find release.  I share it because I want you to know who the Penslayer Girl really is.  Of course I want you to love my writing as much as I do.  I put my heart + soul into my work.  It's a forge of passion for me.  It's a pair of wings.  It's a clipper ship + a comet + a smile from someone I love.  But I want you to know that when I write among the stars, sometimes I'm six feet under ground.

"beginning to sink, he cried, 'lord, save me!' "

image via pinterest

3 Ways Passion Will Make You a Fearless Blogger

 the fear of all humble creatives

My husband was terrified.  You know that kind of terror which becomes physical: sick to the stomach, stabbing in the heart-muscles.  Facing an unpleasant personal crisis moment within himself over his work, he was stressing - terrified - agonized - over his responsibility to create great work for clients who were depending on him.  He felt dissatisfaction in everything he produced and felt he was failing - failing his clients, failing himself, failing.

Dark ten-thirty, I was half-asleep and trying to grasp everything he was saying with the appropriate level of visual appreciation and concern, and all I could think was how exactly alike our feelings were regarding our separate modes of creativity.  I can hardly go a week without a crashing fear that I am completely kidding myself and I will never reach that vague, perfect pinnacle of writing that I strive for.  I'm terrified of letting my followers down, of ruining an ending with a flat fall, of flubbing characters, of writing a stupid plot that isn't worth the paper it's printed on.  I know that fear.  I've felt that terror.  I live with it every day.

I'm a cut-the-Gordian-knot kind of person.  I especially don't have the energy to beat around the bush at dark ten-thirty, so I asked him the dividing question which keeps my own head above the water and keeps me swimming.

"Does it make you want to quit?"

"No," he admitted after a pause; then, still more grudgingly, " makes me want to try harder."


I share this story because it highlights the core engine of creativity.  No matter how bad you may be at a given thing at a given time in your life, no matter how many setbacks you endure or how loudly your brain says, "You're really flubbing this + it's embarrassing!", your passion will keep you going.  Genius lights the way, but passion drives blind.  Logic says, "this is crap!" but passion says, "we can't give up!"

Passion is love through turmoil.  Passion is grit in the face of personal + external opposition.  Our passion for something is part of who we ARE and can't be taken away.  It keep us going - harder, faster, bolder, tougher, humming, shining, beautiful.  Passion is indispensable.  Passion is a communicable attribute of our God.


1.  I believe in myself + my work.  |  I'm not going to save the best point for last because this one is crucial.  Beneath the layers of neurosis, self-doubt, + fear, //I BELIEVE.//  I believe my work is / can be GOOD.  I believe it can be GREAT.  I believe my voice is worth hearing.  I believe my passion matters.  I believe my passion is strong enough to carry me forward.

2.  Personal insufficiency makes me want to try harder.  |  This is what passion does: it crawls over obstacles, it moves mountains, it throws them into the sea, it lifts valleys + splits oceans.  It commits me.  It's my core.  It's a tiger + a team of horses + a fire + a pole-star.  I can't - I won't - hide it: it makes me enormous + gives my work life.

3.  "I love that about your posts because they're honest + they bleed's encouraging + just refreshing."  |  Passion hushes up the doubt that would hold me back.  In a way it is both armour and a vulnerability.  It's a driving offensive maneuver that breaks through the surprised blogging ranks and (I've discovered) shakes people up with a show of what they call "sincerity" + "honesty."  It also unabashedly shows people who I really am because passion is at my centre, and showing my passion means revealing ME.  

confidence  ///  tenacity  ///  genius

These natural offshoot sparks of passion don't eliminate doubt, but they can overwhelmingly conquer when given their head.  So whatever your passion is, wherever you are, whoever you are, remember these three things and //keep going//.  Passion is powerful.  It even saved mankind.

images via pinterest

Why NOT Being a Prolific Writer is a Godsend

Georgette Heyer - 50 + works in varying genres.  
Rosemary Sutcliff - 60+ works in varying genres.  
Dorothy Sayers - 139+ works in varying genres.
Let's not even try looking at Rudyard Kipling.    

Some writers write A LOT.  You look at their work + their lifespan, and you think, "These people must not even stop to poop!"  NONE OF MY EXAMPLES EVEN HAD COMPUTERS.  You stare at your manuscript that you've been working on for the past five years and you DESPAIR.

In the Christian culture, I think in some ways this pressure to create is magnified because it's seen as a "ministry" (that word in itself has many ills to answer for).   We feel the pressure to create art that is true + meaningful + opens up the mysteries of the kingdom through fantasy (??), and all that sounds good because truthful art is a good thing.  We need to flood the reading market with Scripture-based fiction that isn't too preachy, because we need to take back ground + win souls + be a witness + write, write, WRITE.  That sounds good.  But is it?  Is it, though...?

"these our hells + our heavens, so few inches apart, we must be awfully small + not has strong as we think we are"

If you think you're going to look at the Penslayer Girl's bio + read about how she's writing for the Lord, YOU WOULD BE TOWERINGLY MISTAKEN.  I am not writing for the Lord.  And you probably shouldn't try it either.  It is a horrendous piece of cheek which has crept into our culture, and found a nice nesting place in girls' blogs.  You know the phrase: "daughter of the true King! writing for the Lord!"  You might even have that as your own bio.  I'm sorry.

The Lord doesn't need you + you don't know what you're talking about.  |  If you possibly think you know enough to "write" for the Lord, you know nothing of the smallness of man nor the immensity of God.  Do as Job did, and put your hand over your mouth.  Be humble.  God has left his written witness.  My fiction - your fiction - none of it is necessary.

"the best things which we do have somewhat in them to be pardoned"

Art < God  |  It is true that art, in its accuracy, will be a truthful representation or exposition of reality.  That is a beneficial thing to man + it is wonderful that God gave us the capacity to see the world more clearly through a microcosm of creativity.  But art never - and will never - hold a candle to the revelation which God himself has given, and we are dangerous fools to suppose we can add to the impact of the simple scripture with our poor, uneducated, proud, silly, childish, fanciful stories.

so don't despair if you don't write much

You may smell less of smoke in the judgment than others.  |  Every work I create, from "Plenilune" to my dying manuscript, will be held up in the last day and examined.  I can already tell you their peacock feathers will be burnt.  I can already tell you they have a great deal of chaff to be beat out of them, too much earthiness to be any spiritual good.  There is too much of my old man in them.  What good they may to do the souls of others, I pray to God that may be abundant.  But everything in them which is not worthy of God will be stripped out of my soul - and it will not be pleasant.

"Take comfort in your smallness."  |  Don't be hell-bent on writing a lot.  Write well.  Write truthfully.  Write humbly.  But don't strive to get to the gates with a mountain of work which will only be burnt up as stubble.

the day will show

image via pinterest

How My Writing Style is a Natural Challenge for Me to Overcome


I was inspired to tackle a post on HOW EVEN DO I WRITE  THE WAY I DO because a) people continuously ask that question, for some reason, and b) I saw a weekly inspirational gig started up on two blogs introducing their exercise with this question.


I hate being told what to do.  |   I feel reeeeeally bad about this, but how-to writing blogs are actually SUPER UNHELPFUL FOR ME.  I realize they must be invaluable for other writers because there are so many of these how-to-write posts being churned out by the second, but I am not one of those writers who benefits from them as a rule.  If you are also an independent writer person, take heart. You're not alone.

I've mentioned that I'm intuitive + I MEAN IT.  |  You know those people who say "outline your story!" "write down general ideas!" "brain-storm!"...?  They do that + I cue up Scarlett O'Hara's signature bitch-face.  That is NOT the way my creativity functions + as a general rule that is NOT helpful for me.  If brainstorming is nearly impossible for you too, take heart!  You're not alone in this either.

Do not add me to any of your Facebook writers groups.  |  I will become toweringly annoyed, excuse myself from the group, and probably seethingly despise you for the rest of my career.  I AM A VERY ALONE PERSON.  I don't share my writing with just anyone/everyone/every moment of the writing process.  Anyone who has seriously attempted drawing will probably appreciate the excruciating embarrassment that accompanies the early stages, and the repeated, "I'm not done yet" excuses made whenever someone happens to glance at your unfinished sketch.  LEAVE ME ALONE.  I WILL FIGURE THIS OUT MYSELF.

wash: "you are a very UP person"


PARKOUR  |  it's a popular, terrifying, probably very-bad-idea brand of cross-country exercise: "practitioners aim to get from one point to another in a complex environment, without assistive equipment and in the fastest and most efficient way possible." (thank you, wikipedia)  Essentially you just GO FOR IT.  It's crazy, it's scary, it's full-tilt-over-anything + everything, and it's basically how I write.

"You write like parkour," said my husband.  "You don't plan, you just start running."   THIS IS THE BEST DESCRIPTION OF MY WRITING STYLE I HAVE EVER HEARD.  It's true: with very little forethought save maybe some dim ideas of the aesthetic of the story, maybe a few concrete images, I just START RUNNING.  There are obstacles - there are obstacles in every novel's writing process - and I find a way to get over them somehow, some way, crawling - climbing - clawing - messy - muddy - bloody - breathless - somehow, I just keep going.

But it works for me!  In this crazy age of planning everything, of having every detail outlined, of suffering the pressure of feeling like you aren't a real writer because you are even beyond the bounds of writing by the seat of your pants, IT WORKS.  No, it won't work for everyone, but it works for me and I don't. care. what other people think about my writing style.


The most concrete idea I have for any + every story I begin is a sense of elevation, of something emotional + huge + electric swelling inside you, lifting you off the ground.  Like Kiki the first time she mounts her broom.  The wind beneath you, the magic catching you up, everything - including yourself - feeling bigger + bolder + more alive.  That is my guiding star for all my novels.  I'm here running hell-for-leather through I barely know what, so that someday you can read my novels and fly.

and i love it <3

image via pinterest

Bottom Line of Writer's Block + Why You'll Be Excited

Writer's block can last a day, two days, a week, a month - LONGER (!!)  During that time, our scale of panic goes from mildly peeved to "am i even a writer anymore??"  There are even countless - COUNTLESS - articles out there to get you through/over writer's block.


Sources say, writer's block is a bad thing!  Writer's block needs to be conquered!  Writer's block is annoying!  Writer's block is the bane of any deadline you ever had + all your hopes of productivity!

Sources say, a good writer will write something every day, even if it's just one line, or something pathetically minuscule like that.  WRITE EVERY DAY.  THIS KEEPS YOUR CREATIVE JUICES FLO -

NO.  Just stop.  The only thing about these last few lines that is remotely true is that writer's block is pretty annoying.  We all treasure an edenic image that we can write like the wind without check, our "creative juices" magically pouring out like the Tigris and the Euphrates, and creating a gorgeous, lush plot for our readers.


First of all, NO.  |  That idea that a really good writer will writing SOMETHING every single day?  Some people can actually pull that off.  That's fine.  But for those of us who have strained and struggled and tried it and basically pooped dry, pebbly words onto a toilet-paper document, how comforting is the thought that, "Well, at least I wrote SOMETHING today"?  IT DOES NOT COMFORT ME.  I know that, tomorrow, I'm going to have to flush those terrible lines down the drain and start all over.  So what was the point of writing that crap in the first place?

Second of all, NO.  |  Writer's block is not the devil!  It's our fault for believing that we are capable of churning out brilliant ideas ALL. THE.  TIME.  It simply is not possible.  It is a ridiculous standard to set and it will only cause us grief.  If you tell me you have not felt at least a twinge of guilt when a week has gone by without any progress shown on your story, YOU ARE VERY MUCH LYING.


Your brain can't keep up with this impossible standard of 24/7 productivity.  While there are many times when you have to buckle down + push, there are also times when your brain is just wiped out and needs to rest, and come up with the next leg of your plot.  Plots are not Athena: they do not spring fully-formed out of your head - and, even if they did, you would have a massive splitting headache, okay?  OKAY.

I am a very intuitive, subconscious thinker/planner.  A lot of my plotting goes on at a level that I am not even aware of.  And when I am in "writer's block," maybe my brain is actually stopping at the crossroads to check its map and determine where to go next?  Maybe it's taking a nap, maybe it's figuring out where to go next, maybe it's even taking a breather and dwelling on some completely-other subject so that I don't burn it out on one topic at a rubber-searing speed.


True beans.  My advice is to stop belly-aching over "a day of small things" and wait patiently until the next crop of ideas has ripened.  If you try picking the fruit too early, it's going to be tiny, sour, and useless.  Remember that some harvests will take longer to come than others.  Some plots develop faster than others.  Some minds work slower, have more things to deal with, and just basically need to tend to other things as well.  There is //absolutely no guilt// in that.  So just caaaaaalm down, everybody.  Be diligent, but also be reasonable.

you've got this!

image via pinterest :D

DAMMERUNG | Beautiful People

I am 99.9% certain I have never done a Beautiful People post for Dammerung de la Mare because who wants that kind of spoiler anyway?  But since "Plenilune" has been out for a yearnahalf, I figure it can't hurt to highlight our favourite fox in the room, eh?

Sitting up in his father's armchair, in a shuttered room, with the sense that he had to be very quiet and very still, and getting to hold his baby brother, who was then only three hours old.

The best  |  Getting to ride a pony all by himself for the very first time, without falling off or executing any horrendous gaffs, and his father's obvious pleasure in his accomplishment.
The worst  |  Being terrorized by his mother in her fits of madness, and having to hide while listening to her crying in the house.

For the most part, beautiful, long, sunshiny Marenove House.  Summer always seems to take up so much more of the year when one is a child, than it does when one is grown: for Dammerung there was no exception.  Life was summer, full of fishing and riding and barefoot exploring, reading enormous tomes of poetry and looking at cartography in old books his father owned; not even his studies could dampen that summer enjoyment of childhood.  Life was as full and as fat and as slippery-shiny as a trout.

In part, his mother's madness, but more than that he was afraid of a formless sense of his father's fear, and the keen foreboding children can have that something is about to be lost and they don't understand why.

Naturally his father, who was in many ways about as opposite to Dammerung as a personality could be: a big, commanding, stern figure that elicited both fear and respect from others.  But Dammerung also idolized the mythos of the Battle of Ampersand, and the figures which took key roles in that pivotal aspect of Plenilunar history. 

Most favourite  |  candied rhubarb tarts - perfect size for stuffing in one's pockets and absconding with to the out-of-doors.
Least favourite  |  yarrow steeped in toad's fat and boiled in a peasoup, for the prevention and treatment of colds.

Okay, all the feels.  But if I had to hone in on ONE SINGLE THING, he would have his mother happier, and longer.  That is probably his most haunting regret of his childhood.

Impetuous, quick, curious, talkative, a firstborn through and through.  He was bright, obedient, and very few things which he put his hands to did not come naturally to him.  Except mathematics.  He and I, man.  We share this one thing in common.

Dammerung deeply respected and idolized his father, and continues to hold him as an unattainable standard of what a man should be.  He was pathetically attached to his mother, and would dote on her as much as a child possibly could.  Her influence, and the time he spent with her, worked to twist and mould him more deeply than his respect for his father ever managed.  As for his sibling, anyone who has read "Plenilune" knows how that panned out...

Only the federal head of the confederation of Honours.  And yes.  But not the way he thought he would. :/

Here are ten things you maybe possibly did not know about Dammerung + his childhood. Because blogs are a much better place for extraneous backstory than one's novel, ehwot?

image via pinterest

Are You a Tear-Jerking Hack?

Contrary to my cynical expectations, I was surprised to see a sizeable backlash against the plot of recent film release/original book "Me Before You" - a story involving a have-who-loses-all and a have-not-who-loves-life.  I was pleased to see this backlash because the story is ACTUALLY HORRENDOUS.


How sweet is a story of a cynical paraplegic falling in love with his quaint, vibrant caretaker?  Um, basically very.  Cue me, reading the Wikipedia synopsis and HAVING ALL ILLUSIONS DESTROYED.  Thank you, modern writing, for crapping so thoroughly on such a cute premise.

PREMISE IN BRIEF  |  Will(iam??), rich young have-it-all, loses everything in an accident and putts around in a wheelchair.  He wants to go to Switzerland where assisted suicide is legal.  His parents convince him to stick around for six more months, during which time they hope he will change his mind.  Enter Louisa (probably pronounced "Loueesur," 'cause British), who has nothing but a joy of life, and signs on to care for Will.  He thaws, they fall in love, how awesome...  AND AT THE END HE STILL DECIDES TO COMMIT SUICIDE.

WHAT.  THE HELL.  Floored.  Disgusted.  Outraged.  My reactions + apparently the reactions of many readers/viewers.  This, my friends, is stupidity and tear-jerking at its WORST.

1.  There is NO point to Will's death.  Unlike stories built around the premise that one of the characters is terminally ill yet still forms a blossoming attachment with another character, Will did NOT have to die.  He chose to succumb to the idea that his life was worthless because he could not longer ski/ride a motorcycle/get it on with the ladies.  WOW.  What a shallow son of a bitch.

2.  Despite the fact that he CLEARLY HAS SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR NOW AND NOTHING IS STOPPING HIM, he chooses death and breaking Louisa's heart.  AND THIS IS COMMENDABLE HOW??

3.  Author Jojo Moyes said in a radio interview that she LIKES making readers/viewers cry because it shows her that she has made an emotional connection with people.  (Kind of like a woman screaming tells the dominant bondage individual that he has inflicted pain on the subordinate.)


This is an insult to the following:
  • human life
  • human connection + affection
  • basic storytelling
  • people who actually have disabilities + rock their life, choosing to be awesome instead of pathetically dead

IF I COULD, I would take away your ability to make readers cry.  I would do that.  I would force you to engage your readership in other ways, make them connect with your characters in ways that define BEYOND mere pain.
  • make them love
  • make them hate
  • make them angry
  • make them ecstatic
  • make them fight with their whole soul for the attainment of the storyline

Yes, DO THAT TO YOUR READERS.  Put away tear-jerking for a season.  It has its place, but it is FAR TOO EASY TO ABUSE.  It's a hack.  It's an amateur's crutch.  It's a narcissist's mirror.  Stop making your readers cry.  Make them CARE.


Every time someone dies, we hurl ourselves into the task of making their death MEAN something.  Death does not belong here.  Death is wrong.  Death destroys all purpose we have as living, breathing, busy, creating HUMANS.  Moyes' portrayal of Will's voluntary suicide as a good thing is a lie, and I will not let that slide.  We live before God, and our lives have meaning.  To surrender ourselves to the false god of death and annihilation is an abomination and idolatry.


My characters tend to be bigger-than-life, red-blooded folk, who live coolly, roughly, and often dangerously.  Their words are calculated to threaten and push back against anything that tries to impinge on their egos.

but they respect human life

They are not quick to kill.  Nor do I craft painful or sad storylines for the sake on getting a rise out of my readers.  No, that's absurd, that's abusing the writer's privilege, and it needs to stop.

if you want to improve yourself as a writer, stop leaning on the tear-jerk hack

image via pinterest