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Let’s Talk Research: Illuminated Manuscripts

Let’s Talk Research: Illuminated Manuscripts

When I first began writing my YA fantasy novel, Illuminate, all I knew about the story was that it needed to include illuminated manuscripts. The problem: I only had a scattering of knowledge about illumination.

In this entry, the first of a series about my research adventures, I’m going to talk about the places I went, the books I read, and some of the weird things I learned. Hopefully this will be entertaining and educational–and perhaps help another young writer on their way!

iceland ms

Research Trips: The Places I Went

Living in England during my master’s opened a lot of opportunities…Continue Reading

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Color in Afghanistan

Color in Afghanistan

Short piece I wrote for funsies/World Nomads recently.

When I told people I was going to Afghanistan, they looked at me like I’d gone mad. I was twenty-one, 5’2”, and grinning while I said it.

Our Afghan driver took a small group of us outside Kabul one day, to the valleys around Istalif. Freed of the city, our dust and dung coated lungs began to work again.

“Are you sure we should do this?” my sister asked in harried Pashto when the paved road became a dirt path became a rocky riverside became an actual river.

“Yes, yes!” he said. “It’s worth it!”

We emerged at the base of a canyon and tumbled out of the car. On our…Continue Reading

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2014 in Review

2014 in Review

If 2014 had a word, it would probably be: Belonging.

In 2014, I…

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First Book Launch + Returning to the States

First Book Launch + Returning to the States

So one or two things have happened in the last few weeks. And by one or few things, I mean a whole ton of stuff.

At the beginning of October, my parents came to England for a series of fun adventures. We drove around because my dad considers it a personal challenge to take on as many foreign roads as possible. Bookstores were visited and historic sites toured. Our trip included high tea with my dad, which was something a little like trying to have high tea with Ron Swanson.

At the end of October, my parents helped me pack up my flat and we moved everything out. Seeing your home stripped back to the way it was when…Continue Reading

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Photography: Iceland

Photography: Iceland

Add another country to my list: Iceland!

I recently discovered that with IcelandAir, you can stopover in Iceland for up to a week on your flights across the Atlantic. So on my move back to the States from England, I arranged to stay a few days in Iceland. It rocked. I’m totally going back.

Below are a few of my favorite pictures from my short trip. Enjoy!

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10 Questions to Ask When You Create a Fictional Culture

10 Questions to Ask When You Create a Fictional Culture

The way I build worlds is by collecting cool stuff from the history, myth and people around me. I blend these details with my own imagination, and create my own cultures. Culture is a vital part to realistic worldbuilding.

Normally there are a few particular cultures that interest me at a given time. I read whatever I can find about them, their environment, their traditions and their myths. The interesting details filter into the new world I’m creating (example: at one time, Venetian widows could only remarry on the stroke of midnight).

In the long term, there is nothing more inspiring and challenging than visiting foreign cultures yourself (especially if you can get far beyond your comfort zone to do it). This is…Continue Reading

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My Top 10 Most Inspirational Places in the World

My Top 10 Most Inspirational Places in the World

10. Mont St Michel, France

Before dawn, when the tourist buses haven’t arrived and cats rove the alleys with bleary-eyed delivery men—that is when Mont St Michel is alive. You stumble half-asleep through its medieval streets, and in the cold and the dark it’s not a tourist trap, it’s timetravel.

You stand on the old walls, look out at the treacherous marshes and watch the tide come in. At first the water hardly seems to stir, but then you look away, look back, and the ground’s vanished.

When the monastery opens, and you elbow past the late-comers to an empty nave, echoing with the footsteps of long-gone monks, you feel it again: The aliveness of it, as if the island only…Continue Reading

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