Storytelling Lessons: Stranger Things Edition

My husband and I just finished binge watching the second season of Stranger Things this weekend. Let me rephrase, it only took us 24 hours. He had minor surgery so it was the perfect excuse to stay in and not move off the couch, except to get more chips and dip. Because, priorities and all that.

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Man, what a show. What an incredible lesson in storytelling. There are several things I learned while watching this show, and here are just a few of them.

  • You don’t have to write elaborately to write meaningful emotion. Stranger Things does this in such a special way. I won’t include spoilers because the show just got released on Netflix, but there is a highly emotional scene towards the end of the season where people are just sitting in a bare room, telling stories about a specific character. It’s moving and important, and even better, simple. It’s about timing and placing those scenes in the right places.

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  • The visual picture matters.ย The only thing movies and TV have over books is beautiful cinematography. There is a moment in the show when you see something scary, something evil from one of the main characters perspective. More specifically, from right behind him, and able to actually witness the goosebumps rise on the back of his neck. It was a freaking incredible shot. We may not be able to give our readers that moment, but we can come pretty dang close. The point? The picture you paint is super important, and even though we may not be able to move the camera behind the character’s head to create that amazing shot, we should do our best to give our reader’s their own goosebumps.

 

  • We love feelings of nostalgia.ย Between Stranger Things and Guardians of the Galaxy, I think it’s obvious we all have a thing for the 80s. Considering I was born in 1981, I’m one of those people. We love being reminded of how life used to be, especially the pop culture we obsessed over as kids. The music, the hair, the clothes. And just FYI, this season of Stranger Things does NOT disappoint in that area. We like remembering what life was like pre-internet, and teaching those kiddies born in this millennia what childhood was like for us. How can use this as writers? Reminding readers about the past is not only an effect story-telling tool, it’s also a way to engage our readers by using their own past experiences and eliciting those feelings in our own story.

 

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  • Write like your reader will not be able to put your book down.ย One of the things I love about this show is their absolute audacity in assuming I was going to binge watch this entire season this weekend. They shot and edited these episodes in such a way that it was practically impossible not to! Every episode was such a beautifully frustrating cliff hanger, you’d think they planned it or something. I think it’s okay for us to write the same way. Don’t tie bows at the end of chapters. Just assume your readers don’t need to pee, or eat dinner. Write only the important things and be relentless! Don’t give your reader the opportunity to put your book down.

 

  • It’s okay to let your character make dumb decisions.ย I lost count how many times I groaned into my hands in frustration or yelled at the TV to a character for something stupid they were doing. “Don’t go into the hole you igit!!!” “Why are you doing this alone?” “How can you possibly think this is a good idea?!” I’m not sure when I decided all my characters had to be smart and strategic in everything they did, but Stranger Things reminded me that sometimes people do dumb stuff, and it’s okay for that to be reflected in my stories. Besides, reckless decisions lead to danger, great tension, and high intensity scenes, so why not?

 

Have you watched Stranger things yet? What show are you currently binge watching? If you have a show you think I should watch and could learn from, let me know!

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Bookstore Feature: FoxTale Book Shoppe

Lately, I’ve been a bit obsessed with the Independent Bookstore. Everything from the unique, comfy feel and laid back charms, to the inevitable formation of relationships that seem to come easier with small businesses. I pin them on Pinterest, stalk them on Instagram, and marvel at their ability to harness my sense of nostalgia.

When I thought about content for my blog, I knew I wanted to write about things I personally loved, and hoped other readers enjoyed as well. And the Independent Bookstore Feature was born! I plan on visiting as many indie bookstores in the Southeast as I can and feature them on my blog on Fridays. Plus, just to make it more fun, I’m going to visit these places with one of my author friends, so you can get two different perspectives if you’d like. ๐Ÿ™‚


We decided to start in our own backyard with one of my favorites: FoxTale Book Shoppe in Downtown Woodstock. (I am a little bias considering Woodstock is one of the settings in The Door Keeper.) But if you’ve ever hung out or been there, I know you don’t blame me, because it’s incredible!

Easily, one of my favorite things about FoxTale is the location. Tucked back off the main town square, complete with park benches, gazebo, and fountains. (Side bar: my husband asked me to marry him in that gazebo. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Surrounded by amazing restaurants, dress boutiques, dessert shops and a new amphitheater; this book shop has the vibe you are looking for from a small town with ALL the perks.

The next thing I loved about this Bookstore is the enthusiastic lady working there, a blue haired chick named Hyphen. Yes, everything about this woman brought a smile to my face. Her name, hair, book recommendations, and obvious love for all things books were not only refreshing, but super appreciated. She guided us around the bookstore, pointing out her current reads, (enthusiastically telling us the plot,) helping me find a purchase of my own, showing us the secret stash of ARC’s, (and graciously ging us each a couple,) and telling us her own story. Almost 11 years ago, she was one of the first customers of FoxTale. She came so often, she eventually landed behind the check out counter working one day, and been working there ever since.

Random side bar: One of my favorite things in life is a good theme. Ask anyone who knows me, when I throw a party, or start any new project, there must be a theme. It’s seriously one of my love languages. And I adored FoxTale’s theme. Everywhere I looked there was a fox of some kind. They had a beautiful stained glass window of their logo, stuffed foxes hidden on shelves, chalk art and statues strategically placed throughout the store. It was amazing.

As we moseyed around the store, I noticed a beautiful door on the back wall. My friend Bonnie mentioned I should do a “Cool Door Count” at each bookstore we visit considering my Trilogy revolves around awesome doors. FoxTale started this super strong at an incredible 6! There were 6 really cool doors all throughout the bookstore; from displays, french doors, door behind secret curtains, even the check out counter was a door! Not sure if any other bookstore can compete with that.

This was a really strong start to our Indie Bookstore tour. We had an amazing time with FoxTale and look forward to another visit. If you are ever in Woodstock, make sure you stop by and tell them hi! If you want more information about the different events they do, you can check out their website atย http://www.foxtalebookshoppe.com/. They are also on Instagram and Facebook. If you’d like to get my friend Bonnie’s perspective of our visit, check out her blog here. (She’s about to rock the children’s book world with picture book coming out next year.)

Do you have any recommendations of Bookstores for us to visit? Let me know, I’d love to hear about your favorite indie bookshops!

The Lost Door Cover Reveal!

I am SO thrilled to reveal this cover. I wasn’t able to have the same designer as The Door Keeper, but she and I had similar styles. So I was able to capture the feel and vibe of the first cover into the second with some of my own drawings. Then after handing them off to my friend, Brittney Kaefer, she proceeded to work her magic with them. Complete and beautiful and amazing magic.

One of my goals in life is to constantly be growing and evolving as a person and I wanted that to be evident in these books as well. So Brittney and I worked to really capture the essence, characters, and plot of this story in the artwork. Which made me all the more excited about the clues and hints the cover would give you as to the story inside. Everything from the stag, stars, tree roots, and flowers all have relevance. Then Brittany took it to a whole other level with textures, overlays, and all things digital that are way beyond my brain power. So the cover itself is much more intricate, detailed, and evolved from the first, but still matching in whimsy and fantasy elements.

I can’t thank Brittney enough for partnering with me to create a beautiful cover that I am super proud of. Thank you Brittney, for enduring all my emails and texts. You are one talented chick. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m extremely proud of this cover and to share it with you all. Without further ado, I present you: The Lost Door.

 

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The Lost Door Blurb:

โ€œYou have every right to be scared. But I promise you this, you come from a lineage of some of the strongest and bravest women these worldโ€™s have ever seen. You were made to do this; my mother and yours made sure of it.โ€

Itโ€™s been over seven years since Eden learned the truth about where she came from and that her mother was a Door Keeper from another world. Edenโ€™s own daughter, Gabby, is about to turn 18 and learn the story herself, and about the predestined future that lay ahead of her. As fate would have it, the worlds intervene before Eden can tell her daughter the truth, throwing the family into complete and utter chaos. Gabby must find the strength to save her Mom while grappling with unbelievable realizations about herself, her family, and what it all means for her future.

This anticipated sequel to The Door Keeper introduces interesting new characters, opens two new doors into unique and magical worlds, where our heroines must face the harsh elements and mythical creatures long thought extinct. The Lost Door explores the circle of mother/daughter legacy, the unbreakable bond of family, and the sometimes inescapable repetition of the past.

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Let me know what you think of the cover! If you’re interested in being a part of the blog tour, or a part of my promotional team, please let me know. Thanks for all your support and look forward to sharing the continuation of Eden and Gabby’s story with you!

This is the kind of writer I want to be:

When I was a kid and teenager, I loved to read. Obviously I didn’t enjoy all the school assigned reading, but I loved to read fantasy and romance and all the seemingly unattainable things of my youth.

But getting married young, having special needs kids, and attempting to find my career path; I managed to forget that I enjoyed reading. There were WAY too many things that needed my attention and money: changing diapers, therapies, work, sleep, actual clothes (not pajamas) and the occasional date with my husband.

Then one day, in my later twenties, I picked up a book y’all may have heard of . . . Twilight. Suddenly, my mind and imagination sparked in a way it hadn’t in years, and I remembered I loved to read.ย How much I’d missed the magic, escape, and all the imaginary worlds beyond this one.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the kind of writer/storyteller I want to be. Who is my ideal reader? Who do I want to focus my marketing towards? Who are the people who I want to actually read The Door Keeper?

A couple days ago, I texted with a friend who had just finished the book on her vacation, and she said something that affirmed my answer. She said, “Yea, it makes me want to keep reading too . . . I kinda fell off the reading band wagon but I’m back on . . . It’s so good for your soul.”

Jordan is mom with two kids, a husband, and a career she enjoys. She is busy juggling a lot, but on a vacation, she read The Door Keeper and it reminded her how much she enjoyed reading.

I want this series to be that kind of series. I want to be that kind of author.

I want to be that fun, easy, whimsical read that reminds you how good it feels to pick up and get lost a book. How wonderful it is to be taken on an adventure outside of your own life, and explore other worlds. I want to reignite the imagination we had when we were younger, before real life overwhelmed us with chores, obligations, and work.

That is who I want to read this story. That is who I want to write for. Do you know someone like that? Are you them? Well, thenย THISย was written for you.

Please share this post with your friends and if you’ve read the book already, give it to a friend to borrow who may need reminding they love to read.

Help me spark our imaginations, reengage our minds, and reignite our passion for reading, because Jordan is right: It’s good for the soul.

Vote for The Door Keeper’s Cover!

Hey everyone! I was thrilled to learn over the weekend that The Door Keeper’s cover was entered into a cover bracket!

Thank you to M.L.S Weech for including my beautiful cover art designed by the talented Meg Brim.

Everyone go to theย CONTESTย and vote to send The Door Keeper to the Sweet 16!

Vote and share with your friends! (And see some of the other beautiful covers there are in the fantasy genre.)

Help me spread a story of Joy.

I should be editing this morning. BUT, I’m finding it hard to concentrate, so I figured it’d be helpful to share what I’m feeling. You guys seem to like it when I’m vulnerable.

I’m finding it increasingly hard to remain positive about the world and current events.

There is so much division, frustration, anger, fear, and harsh words, and it’s insanely easy to get caught up in it. Every status or comment I read, I feel the respective emotion boiling up in me.

I’m already tired of it. So, here’s the deal. I’m asking all of you to help me spread the Joy. A couple of years ago, I went through a program that helped me determine my life’s mission. If you dumbed down my life to one sentence…what is the point of me and my life? To bring Joy. That’s it, pure and simple. Writing has been an amazing way for me to attempt to do that.

In my opinion, I have written the best kind of story. The Door Keeper is a story where joy, peace, and hope prevail and *spoiler alert* FEAR is the villain. One thing I want us all to remember is that fear can not withstand joy, hope and peace. It crumbles under the weight of it.

So let’s crumble the fear, frustration, anger, and division for just a moment. Help me share a story of joy, hope, family, reconciliation, and forgiveness. Because, even if it only lasts the time it takes you to read the story, at least fear falls to the wayside for a moment. And in my opinion, every single moment joy winning over fear is a victory.

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The Awkwardness of Self Promotion.

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If I’m being completely honest, this part of the job is the weirdest. I’m not even going to say hardest, because it’s not especially hard, it’s just…weird.

I wrote a story and I think you might enjoy it. Unfortunately the only way for you to find out about it, is for me to tell you. So here comes the dilemma. I have to go around saying:

Buy my book! Buy my book! Buy my book!

I’ll try to say it a bunch of different ways so you don’t get annoyed…but chances are, you will still get annoyed. And just so you know, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to.

But I need you to know, it’s not about the “buy.” If you find someone to lend you my book, that would be awesome, and sounds great to me.

It’s not about the “my” either. I would like this story if it were someone else’s. I think it’s a fun, entertaining story that people my age who is wrestling with being a mom and making her mark on the world, will love and relate to.

It’s simply about the “book.” It’s about The Door Keeper and Eden and Gabby. For me, it’s all about the characters and their journeys. So maybe I should change my chant to:

Read Eden’s story! Read Eden’s story! Read Eden’s story!

Important question, how can I promote this story with out you feeling like I’m self promoting? I would love to know how to better connect to you as a reader. How do you pick the stories you read? What is my best chance to get this story into your hands?