3 Ways Social Media Can Help Explode Your Library

spoiler alert! i'm going to be soliciting your book recommendations so stick around like a bug on fly paper!

via @infinitelynovel

#bookstagram is no joke.  With nearly 1o,ooo,ooo entries on Instagram, there are TONS of folks linked together in the grand game of gramming books.  & a lot of those pictures give me book-envy.  Because really, do we pick up new books solely by their synopsis?  No.  No, we do not.  Book blurbs are universally obnoxious creatures to create, & most of the time they do the book NO justice.  It's sad.  Sad, but true.

APPEARANCES ARE IMPORTANT.  You may wish it was otherwise, but it is not.  Author note: I've lost track of the times people have expressed surprise over the cover of my novel Plenilune because "it doesn't look like it was self-published!"  THAT'S THE KEY, FOLKS.  That's the key...

okay, but why is social media important for your tbr list? i'm glad you asked. i'm glad you asked...

via @infinitelynovel

**Angel choir.**  I go on Instagram & discover gorgeous #flatlays of books that are basically completely free eye-candy.  Some of these grammers are super good at photography.  Am I a sucker for good photos?  Yes.  Yes, I am.  Am I going to be interested in a book based on it's cover + arrangement in the photo?  Yes to that, too.  ("sign me up for the NEXT book club!" )

Bee tee dubs, I had never heard of V. E. Schwab until @emileighlatham  + @paperfury gushed about her on Instagram.  Cue me, scrounging around our local library website for a copy of Vicious - which took an age to come in but cOME IN IT DID & guess what I'm really enjoying it.  BOOM.  Wouldn't have heard about this author except for the world's new marketing platform, Instagram.

("I said 'bookswag.'  I said 'bookswag,' Sam.")  Am I susceptible to the allure of sharing flatlays of my newfound novels on Instagram?  I totally am.  Social observation note: people who enjoy a book REALLY LIKE IT when you get that book too + start reading it.  When you tag them, link them, shout out to them that you're reading in their textsteps, they get really excited + BOOM a community is born.  It's an introvert-friendly community, too, so that's double the awesome.

via @infinitelynovel
#bookstagrammers i follow

@thatjennyfreitag (wait a sec...)

your quest, should you choose to accept it, is

  • a:: comment below with bookstagrammers you follow + love!
  • b:: comment below with book recommendations for me + the other penslayer readers!

thanks so much for reading. see you soon!
xoxo, jenny

4 Character Tropes That IMO Need to Die

If you've read books that have living, breathing people in the cast, you've probably read some of the big relationship tropes in the biz.  Tropes happen, ya know?  There are a number of patterns into which things tend to fall, & relationships are no exception.  The problem is, if you think, "Oh lookie, this is Trope X," then the trope has failed.  Nine times out of ten, tropes should NOT be so obvious that you recognize what you're seeing (exception: outrageous parodies).  Here is a personal rant enlightening post on my top most annoying relationship tropes.

4 Character Tropes That IMO Need to Die

The Geometric Affection
I. hate. love triangles. so much.  If every heroine had Elizabeth Bennet's view of matrimony, so much the better.  I mean, sure: love is a tricky thing.  What is it?  How do you know when you love someone?  How do you know when you LOVE-love someone??  Well, I don't pretend to have those answers because they are not simple answers, but I can tell you that it does not involve yo-yoing the affections of two other people.  Authors.  I am so over this.  I have seen how awkward it is to be the recipient of two people's jockeying, & it is not fun, you guys.  THIS SHOULD NOT BE NORMAL.  THIS SHOULD NEVER HAVE BECOME A TROPE.

"if you're in love two people at the same time, choose the second. because if you really loved the first one, you wouldn't have fallen for the second."
(ashamedly quoting the faceless actor)

The Engagement Ring
"Dude. I got this ring for X but I don't want her to see it before I'm ready to give it to her.  I trust you: hold on to this for me."

Oh, nO ONE KNOWS HOW THIS WILL END.  Except that we do.  We all do. Not only does this one annoy me because it's so predictable, it stresses me out at the same time because the chucklehead protagonist is TOTALLY GOING TO LOSE THE EXPENSIVE RING.  This trope.  This trope needs to be buried.  Buried + not allowed to rise from the grave so help me amen.  

The Banter
 Banter has almost zero purpose in a novel.  Almost.  Maybe one time out of ten it serves a useful purpose to help display character personality/growth/something to help sketch the individual's character, but those other nine times?  It's just irritating, childish, flimsy, pointless verbiage.  (bitter much, jenny??)  Quit with the banter thing unless the dialogue serves to improve your novel.  Why are we writing this novel?  To tell a story!  Will this help build the perfect cathedral showcasing your amazing genius?  Probably not so INTO THE SCRAP HEAP WITH YE.

The Bickering
Oh but there's more.   I. HATE. THE BICKERING.  Note: this is coming from someone who thrives on contention.  I love being angry + complaining about stuff.  (let's all enjoy this meta moment).  HOWEVER.  Bickering is the cheap, knockoff replacement for meaningful character dialogue.  Countless times, I have seen "character development" which was nothing more than two protagonists (bonus points if they're love interests) nitpicking + sniping at each other in a manner that is unrealistic + implausible.

(i kind of feel like protagonists bickering + going on to save the world is actually proof of God's existence + common grace because i can't believe the protagonists would ever survive + succeed otherwise)

Hey, you made it through my pet-peeve tropes!  I give you two challenges:

a:: avoid these tropes
b:: use these tropes but in a manner so cunning that no one realizes what you're up to

got any special tropes that annoy you?
share, please! misery loves company
xoxo, jenny

Is the Hook of a Great Novel Actually Criminal?

White Collar, Leverage, Squad 38, The Sting.  The premise of these shows/films is fundamentally illegal.  You're frowned on by the government when you lie to people + take their money, & ultimately, people hate you.  Yet the premise of these shows/films is equally crucial to pulling off the best sting in the book: the beginning.

does anybody know what "con" means?

The term "con" has floated off with its own grammatical uses: conning, for instance, which is the negative act of scamming people out of their belongings.  But remarkably, the actual term is confidenceConfidence.  & that's vital to the whole game because ordinarily people won't give you their possessions if they don't trust you.  Before you can get anything, you must first gain their confidence.

If your reader is like me, he's going to be sceptical about a new book.  The blurb on the back might pique his interest, but it's the first page that is the real clincher.  In English grammar we call it a "hook," which is telling: we're trying to snag the reader & keep him on the line for the rest of the story. But a fish doesn't like being on the hook & a painful intro won't enamour the reader to you at all.

instead of writing a hook, think of it as a confidence game

"it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a large fortune must be in want of a wife."

We all recognize this opening line (& if you don't were you born under a rock??), but look at how perfect it is!  With brevity it combines


OMNISCIENCE  |  The author doesn't just settle at saying she knows this to be true - she states it as everybody who is anybody knows this is true!  You're an absolutely dolt if you don't & none of us want to be taken as a dolt so we immediately take her at her word.

DESIRE  |  If she is in the market, what girl in her right mind would say no to a:: an unattached young man + b:: significant quantities of money?  The author casually tosses both of these gems into the first line of her novel & suddenly you want those things right now so you keep reading.

HUMOUR  |  We like funny people.  When people laugh + tell jokes, we open up to listen.  When people yell + make arguments, we close down.  Which tactic is more likely to gain confidence?  That's right.  Humour.

You are the confidence artist.  Writing is your medium.  The reader is your mark.  In a world brimming over with published works, why should the reader give you his attention?  Why should he be interested in your story?  Why does he think it will have any benefit to him?


xoxo, jenny

How To End a Book Like a Concert

That feeling you get when you end a particularly good song & you're still soaring on the last notes, loving it + sorry it's over?  That's an awesome feeling.  It's the feeling that keeps you hitting "repeat" until you're sick of the song. XD  But this kind of magic isn't exclusive to music, you know.  Writers use it, too.

I think almost any form of artistry is a form of magic.  Like Uncle Iroh + the four elements, I also think different forms of artistry can inform + improve across mediums.  This definitely goes for music + writing.  

cadence + resonance

If you have the choice between grammatically correct & technically-incorrect-but-sounds-awesome, go with the second option.  People are not going to remember your grammar, but they will remember how your words sounded.  Words play a melody in our minds.  Why do particular songs get stuck in our heads?  Because the cadence of the words resonates with us so our subconsciousness continues to vibrate with them long after we have ceased to listen. 

As a writer, you want your words to stick with people.  As a writer, you want your whole book to cling to the reader's subsconsiousness & haunt them long after they have finished the story (because that's not creepy at all, right??).  How do you do that?  Pretend your book is a concert.

writing novels is a performance art

In a world where you can simply download an artist's music on iTunes without leaving the comfort of your home, why do people choose to go to concerts?  It's not even strictly the same music because you can't do everything on a stage which you can do in a sound studio.  They go because they want to be part of the performance.  They want to experience the hypnotic magic of the singers + the lights + the bass.  They want their senses to ring in time to the music.  They want to soar.  They want to be limitless.  And when everything is over, they want that last display of lights & that last crash of notes to leave them resonating before the free-fall, out in constellation sky without gravity.  That's the awesome they want.

Beginnings are important because they hook the reader's interest for the immediate story, but ends are even more important because they impress the story into the reader forever.  When concluding your story, my advice is to end before the emotional resonance of the scene fades out of perception.  Leave the reader with that "high," whether it is an explosion like a firework or one tiny ring of struck crystal.  Let the music go on.

xoxo, jenny

2017 + Stuff About Me You May Not Know

It's March??  I'm telling you, next thing you know it's going to be Christmas - again!  Our weather, which is usually just beginning to be yucky, has gone from one brief semi-winter moment to some serious springtime temps.  I think I just saw a polar bear walk by wearing shutter shades.

 me as a person, if i am still that

I have a two year old + a two month old, & despite my best efforts I am flat-out tired.  (jenny. you just said you have an infant. duh you're tired.)  The children are honestly pretty good about sleeping (usually), but all the same I have zero stamina & most days I feel like I'm hanging on by my fingernails to get to my favourite lying-down-in-a-prone-position-in-my-comfy-king-size-bed time.  & yep, despite my best efforts, that's me physically + emotionally right now.

me as a better person, maybe??

My best efforts include exercise because people tell me that exhausting yourself with exercise makes you less tired.  Something about your body increasing its resistance to stress.  I laugh.  I cry.  But it's for my good.  & I can't really complain because the real hard stuff hasn't even begun; I'm working gently on my inner-inner core which rules out ALL standard abdominal exercises because those can just make the damage worse.  (most difficult bit is the "TVA squeeze" 'cause you haul in the hugest breath, suck in your belly button to your spine, & let the breath out as slowly as possible. i have successfully not passed out while doing this.)

me as a person trying new things (screaming emoji)

WHAT THE HECK IS MAMAMOO.  I have no idea.  I looked & I can genuinely say, I have no idea.  But the four-girl Kpop band wrote + performed "Girl Crush," which I finally gave in + listened to; turns out, that's basically me.  O___o

i just wanna be
awesome girl
girl crush!

Being smart may be better than being pretty, but can't I be both?? XD  Well, maybe not, but I do my best with what I've got.  I was never the fashionable, popular girl - I didn't know what that thing was.  Now I know, & that sounds cool.  Cool + kind + at least able to fake intelligence because that's what most of us do anyway, right...?

bullet journalling

When this was first introduced to me, I a:: zoned out because I am 100% not capable of fancy hand-letting, & b:: couldn't follow the mathematical purpose of the exercise.  But then I got frustrated with some bad habits of mine & started scrawling goals + notes down in a moleskin notebook (best notebooks, so cute + portable this post is not sponsored honest), & the next thing I knew, I was basically bullet journalling.  My how the self-righteous have fallen.

alpha reader (full-bore screaming)

I have never shown a work-in-progress to someone while it is in its ugly, barely-constructed stage, but Ethandune has been stumping me so badly that I scootched a la inchworm over to the brain behind Intuitive Writing Guide (which I still need to officially follow, bee tee dubs; I keep forgetting to do that), & asked if she would look over my manuscript + provide some feedback to help me see where I need to go - you know, the kind of stuff everyone else has been doing since the dawn of writing.  But I am a:: nervous, b:: shy, c:: my writing in a first draft is practically buck-naked + I'm not happy showing it to anyone; oh + d:: I'm passionately independent so of course asking for help goes against all of what is me.  But I did it.  & she said yes.  So here we go.

boom.  that's me.  not my most flowering time of life but thank you all the same for sticking with me + caring. until next time,
xoxo, jenny