Featured Writer: Lydia Albano

Lydia Albano is a fellow writer on figment [yay for figment!] who has several novels in progress, Finding You in particular.  I love her writing style and her use of clear description, not to mention her stories.  On her figment profile she says: "I run up the down-escalators, live on musical theater, and think Gregory Peck is dreamy. I sing praise to my King, speak up for what I believe in, and try to live a life that glorifies my Lord Jesus Christ. I whole-heartedly believe in fairy-tales and happy endings, wear high-heels, belt out showtunes in the shower, watch Doctor Who and eat watermelon.  I sometimes think in a British accent."

Being an avid reader of Finding You and Esmeralda [though I haven't finished that one yet, I'll admit], I decided to ask if I could feature her on my blog.  She agreed, and here are her answers to the questions I asked:

What motivated you to write Finding You?

I had this idea one day of a boy and a girl who met in a field everyday, escaping the world in a way, and he gave her a bird’s nest.  It was a totally random idea (and since the setting changed to an industrial, Steampunk one, the field became a rooftop).  Later I mixed it with a plan for a book that alternated between narrators: a convicted pirate / deserting soldier and a girl who got picked for the king’s harem.  It was a mix of a lot of random imagination, but I hope it comes out streamlined.  I also have an interest in (fighting) trafficking.

Can you explain a little about the story?

Oh dear, I guess I’ve already done that now.  Well, it’s about a boy and a girl, Tam and Isla, who have grown up together and (without telling the other) are in love. When Tam joins the army (right after surprising Isla with a kiss) she tries to see him off and is kidnapped into a trafficking circle of sorts.  The majority of the book will chronicle the alliances she makes with other prisoners, their relationships, her growing strength without Tam to guide her, and her unwavering quest to free herself and find the boy she loves.

What is the most fun book you’ve ever written (are writing)?

Proxy was fun, until it started bugging the heck out of me.  I really love writing fairy-tale retellings, which tend to be spin-offs of Snow White since I was about thirteen.  At the moment it’s probably Dichotomy, a kind of dark story about a schizophrenic wanna-be-writer young man who listens to the literary characters in his head and is accidentally used by one to become a serial killer while he sleeps.  It’s so different from anything else I’ve done, and unpredictable.

Do you have any hobbies (besides writing, of course)?

Not really.  Ha-ha, writing is definitely the top one.  I LOVE drawing and fancied becoming a fashion designer for some time.  I really love riding horses, attempting to play the guitar, and jumping off cliffs into rivers in Vermont.  And watching Doctor Who.

Who is your biggest literary inspiration?

I can’t pick one!  I idolize Jane Austen, and Charlotte Bronte of course, and so many of the greats that everybody cites.  And then Suzanne Collins and Shannon Hale and all of them.  But to be honest, a yet-unpublished author, Anande Sjoden (you can find her on figment!) is one of my favorite writers ever and has made me push myself harder than ever, just reading her fantastic (obsession-inducing) work.

What book are you reading right now?

“Under The Never Sky” by Veronica Rossi, and waiting for “Insurgent” at the library.

Name your five stranded-on-an-island books:
1.       The Bible – yeah baby
2.       Catching Fire *blissful sigh*
3.       Pride and Prejudice
4.       Nattie & Finn aka Waxflower Wood (Anande Sjoden)
5.       Maybe Enna Burning?  Or The Great Gatsby?  I can’t think!  Wait, nope, I got it.  Les Miserables – then I’d be forced to finish it!

Which book do you think you would fit into best (or which literary character are you most like)?

I think I’d fit really well into the Dauntless faction in Divergent, but best of all would probably be Northanger Abbey (I’m a lot like Cathy) or North and South or maybe The Phantom of the Opera.

You are allowed to invite three authors to tea, which do you choose?


And finally, what do you consider the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

I don’t know that it’s really profound, but as far as being helpful to me, people have told me the classic, “Write for yourself; if you’re not happy with it, no one else will be either.  Don’t worry about pleasing everyone the first draft.  Just write.”  I take criticism very seriously, and while I want it, it can be really easy for me to meditate too long on a tiny criticism and forget that it’s a matter of opinion, and that the story is mine.

You can check out Lydia's novels on her figment page: Lydia Albano
Also, you can read more on her blog:  Ink-Stained Hands

-The Newsie


Lost in Literature

This isn't really a book review.  It is more of...an "appreciation" for a great book [series, actually] that I feel gets looked over.  

Everybody knows of Mary Poppins right?  Julie Andrews singing "Just a teaspoon of sugar makes the medicine go down, medicine go doooown..." instantly comes to mind.  But what most people don't know is that is based off of a book, or two books, by P.L. Travers: Mary Poppins and Mary Poppins Comes Back.  

As a child, Mary Poppins was one of my favorite Disney movies.  I loved the scene where they all have tea on the ceiling and have to think of something sad to get down.  And my favorite part is when they go into the chalk picture and ride carousel horses and ride in a horse race.  

But I can remember picking up the book Mary Poppins from our shelf one day and, feeling some doubt, starting to read it.  It was during that time I was in the musical The Little Mermaid, and I would sit backstage on off-time during rehearsals and shows and devour Mary Poppins.  I quickly read the three sequels we had, and loved every one of them!  

What is quite sad is that everyone has heard of the movie, but no one has heard of the books!  I think I am the only person I know of who has read them [or at least four of them].  While reading, they enchanted me with their tales of a magical nanny who has no tolerance of nonsense; Jane and Michael who are caught up on wild adventures; John and Barbara, the twins; Robertson Aye, the gardener who has a hidden secret; the People Under the Dandelions; and a whole host of other characters including Admiral Boom, the Ice Cream man, Ellen the housekeeper, and Mrs. Brill the cook.  

These books are sheer genius.  The first being published in 1934 in London, it tells about the Banks family living on Number Seventeen Cherry Tree Lane and their extraordinary experiences with a truly extraordinary nanny.  The writing is fresh, brilliant, and classic.  The characters well-developed and memorable.  

Some may think it is a childish book, and yes, Mary Poppins is perfect for children to read.  But I still enjoy every bit of it.  And C.S. Lewis once said, “A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.” 

So if you are looking for a good read, then I highly suggest Mary Poppins.  Sit back with a nice cup of tea and lose yourself in London early 1900s, with Miss Lark and her dog Andrew, Bart the Pavement Artist, Miss Corrie and her gingerbread, the Balloon Lady whose balloons cary you over the park, and Mary Poppins herself. 

Add a wild East Wind, an elegant ball beneath the sea, a trip to a distant planet, a remarkable experience under the marigolds in the park, Miss Calico's enchanted candy canes, a circus in the sky, and timeless London jargon and you are in for a wild, classic adventure.

[Don't forget to vote on the poll!]

-The Newsie


The Hobbit and Les Miserables

And this is the post in which I flood you with pictures of the two movies I am most excited to see when they come out!  I'm more excited about these than Catching Fire, so that should say something...

The Hobbit:

Les Misérables:

Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean

Samantha Barks as Eponine

Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman

Helena Bonham Carter

Anne Hathaway

Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne

On set

Les Misérables

I have decided I'm going to go see these two on opening night, at midnight.  Anyone care to join me?

-The Newsie


Interview with K. Morgan, S.F. Pilot

An interview with one of my characters, Kit Morgan, who was kind enough to sit down with me today and share his mind...

Me: "Your name, Kit, is it short for anything?"

Kit: "Karter."

Me: "Now, you attend the Conservatory of Aeronautics.  Tell me, was it hard for you to get in?"

Kit: "Every bit of it was devilish.  It takes work.  And guts.  Less if you're from a rich family.  But I had a good promoter."

Me: "And, just reading the summary here, you did leave the Conservatory didn't you?"

Kit: *laughing* "Leave?  I was kicked out.  Politely, of course.  But kicked out, nonetheless."

Me:  "Why, exactly?  If you don't mind me asking."

Kit:  "Money.  My sponsor took ill, and no one was paying the tuition.  And they've always seen me as a troublemaker.  This was just an excuse to get rid of me."

Me:  "Sorry to hear that.  Later on in the story, you're caught trespassing at the Base, correct?"

Kit:  "Yes."

Me:  "For what reason is that?"

Kit:  "Well, that's what they all want to know, isn't it."

Me:  "Rumor is you were copying aerocraft blueprints for the Sky Force."

Kit:  "People will talk."

Me:  "Yes, but the main point is, you were trespassing and found guilty of illegal activity against the Ether Force.  How does that reflect upon yourself?  What are your thoughts on that?"

Kit:  "It really doesn't matter what I think.  No one will care what I have to say.  They'll just change it to suit their purposes.  I will say, though, that I will do what I believe is right, regardless of what other people think."

Me:  "And this girl, Jacey Drake..."

Kit:  "What about her?"

Me:  "Weren't you two good friends?"

Kit:  "You could call it that.  Jacey's a good pilot with nerve.  Better than most lads who graduate the Cov."

Me:  "But you've broken ties with her, and with every friend from your former life, true?"

Kit:  "I don't know what you mean by 'every friend'.  I ain't got that many.  But yes, Jacey was one of the few, and we fight for two different causes now.  I respect her still.  Just not her choice."

Me:  "Well, before we close, I'd like to ask you one last thing: what do you consider yourself as first and foremost?"

Kit:  "A pilot.  And my da made sure I was a good one.  There are other things people would call me, most of them earned I have to admit.  But I'm a pilot, first of all."

Me:  "Well, I think we're out of time.  But thank you, Kit Morgan, for taking a few moments to talk with me."

Kit:  "A pleasure."

Me:  "And I wish you good luck with the Sky Force."




I just added a page up on the top bar: "Novels".  It highlights some novels I'm working on, the synopsis and characters, and is a reminder that I actually need to finish every one of them.  

So, in case you were wondering what my mind does when I'm supposed to be working on school or what-not, read through Novels.

[Oh, and don't forget to vote on the poll!]



...If I could just get out of this place

So, because this editor has nothing better to do than dream of faraway places, I am going to bombard you with pictures of Scotland.  I will travel there, one day...someday...sometime in the future.  And write a novel about my very long trip around the world visiting foreign countries and soaking up culture.  I can call it Around the World in More Than Eighty Days.  

On second thought, I think that would be a bit too original for some publishers.  

Anyway, hiking along the green braes and glens of Scotland, I swear I could churn out a story worth of Tolkien--given all the inspiration I need and some time.  And what better place to get inspiration than sitting on a heather-covered brae with a slightly overcast sky and a stiff breeze coming off the ocean?

Ah, sigh...



What is a writer?

What is writing?  What is an author?  Some people may think of an author as simply a person who writes a story, a person who crafts words.  That is true, but not by half.  Writing is a shell, an armor that we hold around ourselves: a protection against assault I guess it could be described as.  Some may say that to be a writer is to be a coward, writing about heroic deeds while hiding behind a pen.
But I beg to differ. 

Writing is anything but cowardly.  Do you know what it takes to write?  It takes becoming a whole new person—not yourself, a whole different character.  You don’t just think one day, “I’m going to be a writer because it’s cool”, and then proceed to churn out half a dozen pages about a lovesick teenager in high school and then leave off because it got hard.  Or you got bored.

No, a real writer suffers through; forcing themselves to write, write, write, because that’s what they live for.  It’s not about writing when you want to write, it’s about writing when you hate it—when your soul is bleeding through your fingers, when your characters mutiny against you, when each word comes as a challenge.  Because that takes true grit.  To carry on, to write with all your will when you don’t know what to say, that is courage.  And to love every second you do.

Anyone can write when they know what to say, what words to write upon the page.  But a true writer will find what to write deep within them.

After hours of frustration and red-inked paragraphs.

After deleted and re-written scenes.
After pages upon pages of descriptions only to be trashed.

Many people do not understand the relationship between an author and their novel.  Our writing to us is like our child.  You don’t raise your child quickly; it is a gradual process, per se.  The same with a story, book, or memoir.  You don’t rush what is placed between the pages—you write with you fingers, you mind, and your soul…and never expect other people to understand.

That is what it is to be a writer—and I have merely scratched the surface.  To really understand what it is like, look through the countless drafts, many tired nights, frustrations with a certain sentence, struggles with descriptions, choppy dialogue, and conversations we have with our characters as if they were real people. 

That’s where you’ll find what it truly takes.