Thursday, January 30, 2014

It's about time!

I created a detailed about me page. I figured you might like to know a little bit more about me and where I'm coming from on a day-to-day basis. I would write a bit more about the process, but I had to rewrite my "About Me" section tonight because it didn't save when I finished it last night! GASP! The worst feeling ever. Anyways, it's done now and I think I remembered most of what I wrote originally. Now my eyes are drooping so I'd better head off to bed and let you head off to check out the new page.

Oh yeah, I made a GIF to go with it! Check the new page out here.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Righting Relationships: The Four Loves

Haha, see what I did there? Righting..Writing Relationships? Excuse me a moment while I bask in my punny-ness.
Ahem. Moving on.

In today's post I want to talk about the power of a non-romantic relationship in a story. I've been finding in my own writing and in mainstream YA books, the love interest gets more thought and more page space than the best friend, sister, brother or any other relationship that doesn't involve romance. Regardless of what other characters exist (and how well-developed their relationship is with the MC) , it always seems like the love interest gets the most page space.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - Katniss and Peeta/Gale
We've got some other relationships that are interesting and meaningful, like Prim or Haymitch. However, the love triangle gets more attention.

Divergent by Veronica Roth - Tris and Four
We see Tris's relationships with other Divergent initiates, and her family, but Four gets the most page time, through Tris's thoughts and his physical presence in a scene.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyers - Bella and Edward
Do I even need to explain this one?

Why do the love interests dominate the page?
At the very root of it, we're obsessed with love and we write about our obsessions, whether we mean to or not. Our society is all about romantic love. It's why the soaps are still on; its why we look at bridal boards on Pinterest when we're not engaged or even dating anybody! It's why we emphasize our love interests.

Now, this isn't a bad thing. Who doesn't want to have a good love interest? I know I thoroughly enjoy reading a good romance every once and awhile.

However, we get into dangerous territory, as writers, when we start to believe that romantic love is the only love that can be powerful and moving in our stories. Readers pick up on our romantic mindset and protest - "This is corny!" "This is cliche! "This doesn't ring true." - because they know (even if they don't realize they know it) that there is more to love than romance.

The Four Loves and How You Can Use Them in Your Story:

1. Agape describes this love as "unselfish love of one person for another without sexual implications."
This is unconditional love. Arguably the most powerful love out there, because it doesn't come naturally, and it has to be worked at. The immediate example that I think of is a spiritual one, as in God's love for humanity. However, this type of love can extend to all sorts of relationships. This is a sacrificial love. Using agape love or failure at agape love, in a character relationship is a great way to make the reader think about their own lives and their own ability to love.

Will and Jem in Clockwork Angel series by Cassandra Claire
Katniss volunteering for Prim in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Aslan sacrificing himself to save Edmund in The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

2. Eros
Wikipedia describes this love as ""physical" passionate love, with sensual desire and longing."
This is the type of love that you're used to reading about. The romantic, boyfriend-girlfriend, love-at-first-sight, love. It's perfectly fine to use the eros love, so long as we're intentional about it and not automatically using it because it's what's expected. Using eros love in a character relationship is a great way of offering escapism, excitement and the "swoon factor" to the reader. To avoid "fakeness" consider letting your eros relationship take on some of the unselfish tendencies of agape love as the relationship progresses. Eros love isn't usually longstanding.

Romeo and Juliet from Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare
Daisy and Gatsby from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

3. Philia 
Wikipedia describes this love as "affectionate regard or friendship"
This is more of a mental love that describes mutual fondness between two people. The options are endless in how you can use this type of love in your story. Try to make the friends of your MC realistic and let them have their own agendas. Avoid friends who only exist to serve the MC.

Aristotle says that there are three types of friendships:

a)Friendship of Utility
This is a shallow friendship, or as it is better known, an acquaintance. There is little regard for the other person, but this relationship works because each person has something to offer. Think: buyer and seller.
Example: Peeta and Haymitch from The Hunger Games 

b)Friendship of Pleasure
This is a friendship where two people share an interest and enjoy taking part in their shared interest together. This relationship can easily dissolve when their shared interest changes. Think: golf buddies.
Example: Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys in Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys: Super Mystery by Carolyn Keene

c) Friendship of Good
This friendship forms because both people enjoy each others' characteristics. This could be called "true friendship" and will be hard to break, unless personalities change in the people involved. Think: two ladies who let their kids call their BFF "Aunt".
Example: Anne and Dianna from Anne of Green Gables

4. Storge
C.S. Lewis describes storge love as " fondness through familiarity (a brotherly love), especially between family members or people who have otherwise found themselves together by chance"
This is the most natural of loves. It overrides annoying characteristics and the lack of common interests, which is what makes it unique. This is the type of love that occurs when people spend a lot of time together or are very familiar with each other.

This would be an interesting type of relationship to explore in your writing. What happens when people your MC doesn't really like, but spends lots of time with, fall into this category? What happens when people sharing storge love are separated? Does their love stand up? How can storage love transition to agape?

Tris and Caleb from Divergent by Veronica Roth
Dudley and Harry from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Ron and Hermione from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling would be a good example of a relationship starting with storge love then transitioning to romance.

The real power in understanding the four loves it that you can be intentional of the character relationships that you're writing. We all know that good characters change over the course of a story; showing your character transition through these different types of love is a great way to show character development. Don't forget that most relationships are a combination two or three of these four loves.

Let me know in the comments what you think of the four loves and what your secret is to writing authentic character relationships!

Reading: Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Listening: Coeur de Pirate
Watching: The X Files

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Housekeeping! (Otherwise Know as Design Tips, Guest Posting, and Social Media)

Virtual internet points if you get this joke!
I felt like it was high time to post about a few blog-keeping items that may be of some interest to you.

1. If you haven't noticed, A Splash of Ink has had a redesign! After hours of toiling over photoshop documents and colour combos, I've pulled the proverbial trigger on this design.

If you are planning on redesigning your blog, I have a few tips.

Get yourself one of these Colour Indexes:
I (of course) got mine from the library, and I noticed that they had other books with similar content. The book has tons of different colour combinations and schemes, categorized into sections like "Intense Colours", "Muted Colours" and "Soft Colours". It's extremely helpful if you're having a hard time finding colours that match. 

My second tip is to create a tester blog. Make the blog private than make it exactly the same as your real blog (minus the posts). I made a few fake posts and fake pages, so I could see how the design would work before I started changing A Splash of Ink.

Then use to see what your blog will look like on different sized monitors, devices and computers. Don't be afraid to use the zoom out option in your internet browser to get a clearer idea of how it looks. A big goal of mine with this redesign was to have my design look the same on all devices. I quickly spotted a few issues with SOI the first time I used this site. It's a great tool. 

My third and final tip is to make your blog post area wider. This will make longer posts look more approachable and shorter.

2. I'd like to line up some more guest posts for 2014. I really warmed up to the idea last year and featured some different people. If you're interested in guest posting or working up some post trade of some sort, you can see all the details on my guest posting page which you can check out here. Above all, I'm looking for different voices with something to say, so don't be intimidated if you're a new blogger or don't feel 100% confident in your writing.

I'd love to add a few more to the list of guests I've had on SOI:
Purple Moon Blog Tour: Behind the Scenes of Brewer's Coffee
Tessa Emily Hall shares the back story of the coffee shop setting in her book, Purple Moon.
Interview with author Jamie Baywood 
Jamie talks about writing her book Getting Rooted in New Zealand and her writing process.
Caitlin Hensley and Self Publishing 
Caitlin talks about her journey to self publishing her book, Paranormal Legacy. 
Five teens answer questions on their experiences with writing.

3. I'm on the internet in other places! I don't just exist within the confines of A Splash of Ink. I've expanded quite a bit in 2013. I'd have to say that I'm most active on Goodreads and Twitter. Friend me, follow least check them out? Tehe. I love to see people outside of their blogs.

4. Oh and I almost forgot! I have some new profile pictures:

I wrote about how to take a good profile picture here, if you're interested in refreshing your own pics. 

Now, I think I've covered all the little things that I wanted to bring up. Let me know in the comments what you think of the new design! Good? Hard to read? Needs to go back to the old one? I'm open for suggestions!

Reading: Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Listening: OneRepublic's album Native
Watching: Getting caught on up EVERYTHING!!! Arrow, Chicago Fire, Castle...

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Literary BFFs: Linkup

It's time for another linkup! This one is hosted by the Book Chewers blog. It's all about friendships in books. I find the supporting characters (most often the friends of the MC) a huge part of the book, so I was happy to honor them in this post. These are my top five friendships in books that I've read. If you'd like to participate you can find the link up here.

Nancy Drew, Bess Marvin and George Fayne: Nancy Drew Mysteries
Check out the awesome tumblr where this is located.

With Bess's feminine charm and George's athleticism, they make the perfect sidekicks for Nancy Drew! They may be more cookie-cutter characters, but I'm perfectly fine with that. I don't look to Nancy Drew books for great character development, I look to them for excellent plots and mysteries!

"You're kidding right?" George commented in her usual blunt way. "Are you really so desperate for a mystery that you're going to investigate this?" 
 Bess giggled. "Be nice, George," she chided. "Poor Nancy hasn't had a burglar to bust or a kidnapper to capture in...what? At least a couple of weeks? Who can blame her for being desperate."
-Without a Trace, Carolyn Keene

Anne Shirley and Diana Barry: Anne of Green Gables 

The bosom friendship between these two is so nice to read about, because it the type of friendship you wish you had. The friendship begins at a young age and they stay the best of friends their entire life. They have their ups and downs, but through it all, they're loyal to each other.

My personal favourite, is the scene where Anne accidentally gets Diana drunk. It's just too funny.

“Miss Barry was a kindred spirit after all," Anne confided to Marilla, "You wouldn't think so to look at her, but she is. . . Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It's splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
-Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery

Juilette and Kenji: Shatter Me series
Kenji isn't exactly Juilette's BFF, but he is a friend. The best trait about him is that he isn't her lackey. He's always got something else going on that doesn't have to do with her, so he feels real and has depth as a character. He's not your traditional sidekick or friend.

This guy has some of the best lines. Not only is he funny and smart aleck-y, but he doesn't let Juilette mope around. He tells it like it is, which is very refreshing since her character was a little grating at times. Some of his best lines:

“Because if I lower my voice, I won’t be able to hear myself speak. And that,” he says, “is my favorite part.” 

“Have you ever had a girlfriend, Kenji?"
"What?" He looks mortally offended. "Do I LOOK like the kind of guy who's never had a girlfriend? Have you even MET me?”

“I'd appreciate if you'd grow the hell up and stop walking around like the world crapped on your only roll of toilet paper.”

 “All you do is sit around and think about your feelings. You’ve got problems. Boo-freaking-hoo...As far as I can tell, you’ve got food in your mouth and clothes on your back and a place to pee in peace whenever you feel like it. Those aren’t problems. That’s called living like a king."
-Unravel Me, Tahereh Mafi

Sebastian St. Cyr and Paul Gibson: Sebastian St. Cyr Mysteries 
How could I not mention my latest book crush?
What would the Viscount do without his physician/coroner? For one, he'd wouldn't have an on-demand doctor to stitch him up after some criminal attacks him or an inside source for evidence. Often times the conversations between these two take place as Paul is cutting open and examining the latest murder victim- that is, until Sebastian can't handle the smell any longer.

Not only do they have a professional(ish) relationship, but they fought in the Napoleonic wars together, forming their personal friendship. They work well as friends because they look out for each other. Sebastian keeps an eye on Paul's inclination towards opium, and Paul keeps tabs on the people trying to kill Sebastian.

Fred and George Weasley: Harry Potter Series

I hesitated to include this duo on the list, but I think there was so much more than a brothership between the two of them. Their relationship started as brothers, but as they grew older it evolved into a powerful friendship that went beyond blood ties.

These two trouble makers are great comic relief. Their shining moment (in my opinion) is when they pull all the pranks on Umbridge. They were hardly ever serious, but when it comes down to doing the right thing, they did it.

“Now, you two – this year, you behave yourselves. If I get one more owl telling me you've – you've blown up a toilet or –"
"Blown up a toilet? We've never blown up a toilet."
"Great idea though, thanks, Mum.”
-Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling

There you have it! Agree, disagree? Who is your favourite book BFFs? Let me know in the comments.

Reading: Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier
Listening: Owl City
Watching: Chicago Fire

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Booklover's Bookcase

I've had the sudden urge to organize. You (as in you OCD inclined people) know the feeling. First it's a little itch to fix some pens in your desk drawer, then it's the entire drawer, then suddenly everything is a mess and you feel the need to organize your bookshelf (because that's the mess that's the most fun to fix).

Since I had the time off last week, I indulged.
I gathered up all my stray books and the books I had stacked on other books:

As I worked towards the ideal bookshelf, I realized that those Pinterest worthy bookshelves, with more flowers and decorative vases than books:

 just aren't practical (no matter how pretty) for many of us book lovers. With that thought in mind, I compiled this blog post. Here are my tips on how to maximize the potential of your brimming bookcase.

 I have a ton of knickknacks and little mementos that people have given me, and some of them were taking up valuable bookshelf space. Start by taking all the little bits and bobs off the shelf. Then, integrate them back into the bookshelf, at the end of your organizing, by pushing your books back to allow room for the knickknacks in front.
These aren't the same items in both pictures, but you get the idea. 

 As well as knickknacks, I allowed my photography boxes room on the shelf. This may have been a good storage idea at first, but my books take precedence! Since the very top of the bookcase isn't always strong enough for books (especially if you buy a cheap-y like I did) you can put lighter things (such as empty boxes) and bigger knickknacks on top of your bookshelf. 

If you have a deeper shelf, you can make use of storage space behind books. You'll need to be strategic with your storage if you plan to push books back to allow room for knickknacks.

Just fill in the row of books, and you'll never know it's there!
Don't waste head space! I also helped my sister with her shelf, and this was a major problem for her. You can move the shelves up, but we found these stacking methods easier. Sometimes we need to stack books sideways to fit everything; it looks so much better when the books are underneath instead of on top. Use lesser read books as the "platforms":

Speaking of stacking...I stacked all of my sister's paperbacks. This saved a lot of room because there were enough paperbacks to make stacking worth it. If you only have four or five you're not really saving much room. The height of the stack should be significantly larger than the width. That's not overly complicated you guys get the idea; I won't muddle it up by trying to explain.

The final step is to face your books. If you don't know what "facing" is, that's library lingo for making sure all the books spines line up, preferably against the edge of the bookshelf. This gives a polished look to your bookshelf:

There you have it. A few tips on how to make your bookshelf awesome. I still have a few areas that I'd like to clean up on my bookshelf, but I got the real work done and the stray books put away. Below is some pictures of the finished product. Also, I have multiple bookshelves that line the corner of my bedroom, in case you were wondering about the different shelves.
Let me know your tips and what your bookshelf looks like!

Reading: What Darkness Brings by C.S. Harris
Listening: Arcade Fire
Watching: Downton Abbey reruns and Sherlock
Previously on A Splash of Photography: Ice Storm
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