A Brainstorming Exercise by j.d. brewer

I made this brainstorming exercise for a workshop I did at the Buda Public Library. I’ll end up using it at some point in my classroom next year as well. I originally intended it for personal use, but thought sharing is a good thing. I emailed Message to Bears to ask for permission to use two songs, and I heard back today. So Voila! The blank page is the writers curse, so be inspired, answer questions, and make up your own. If one picture grabs a hold of you, run with it! If you’re doing campnanowrimo, working on your next project, or writing a short poem,  and your stuck with a blank page or trapped in a scene, here’s something to get the gears turning. The directions are quite simple: 1) Analyze each picture. 2) Imagine you are in the picture, the place, the action. 3) Answer each question in lists or phrases. 4) Do not worry about writing the question or answering EVERY one. 5) If you come up with your own question, answer it. *If you want to return to a picture, or stick with one, then go with it! Use this video until you get unstuck, until the page is no longer blank, until you have words to start playing with. *Disclaimer: there is one typo in the questions inside of the video. Air high five to whoever finds it. Please forgive me. I am imperfect. Music is by Message to Bears. Permission has been given to use the songs for this purpose. The first song is, “You are a Memory.” The second song is, “I Know...

Un-Saved Saviors: J.D. Brewer on Editing Setbacks

Mt. Lemmon, Arizona, circa March 2016. Imagine two women, holed up in a cabin typing until their fingers cramp and their eyes bleed. That was my work-wife and I. Three weeks of no internet, no husbands, hiking breaks, coffee (lots of coffee) breaks, and writing. It was such a productive time. Against a backdrop of forest, she plowed through her next fantasy book, and I was patiently carving through On the Other Side of Greatness trying to make it right. Follow her shenanigans @4OlivaSavage on Twitter. The thing is, I’m a down-right clod-brain when it comes to writing endings, and something about the second half of the book was achingly off. You see, this is a book that was written before The Birth of Anarchy, but it sat without an ending to make sure it connected to the series correctly. It is a distant, distant prequel to Vagabond, and therefore, it has been the trickiest ending I’ve ever had to grapple with. It was meant to launch in March, but I decided to give it some more space. Like all good relationships, I’d rather it be right than forced, so I changed my launch projections. Which brings me to June. I FIGURED IT OUT! I found an ending that gives Lucas Rios agency in her choices and lets her be the bad-ass she was always meant to be. However, as I was combing through the line edits two nights ago, I realized there was something anemic about the writing. “Surely,” I thought to myself, “there shouldn’t be this many edits to make at this point in the process!” That was the...

J.D. Brewer on Criticism Vs. Negativity

Check out the Video Below — On Criticism Vs. Negativity — for a personalized reading of the following blog.  I get asked all the time, “How do you deal with criticism? Especially when it’s malicious and unkind?” It took me a while to understand this question. After all, what does it mean to deal with something anyways? Deal implies bargaining. It implies that I have a chance in making someone see things my way. If I compromise in this way, if I change in that way, then maybe, just maybe, you’ll change your mind and like me and what I’m doing. But when it comes to criticism, dealing is impossible because everyone loves their own opinion far too much. Then the question gets tricky because I have a beautiful relationship with criticism. Criticism, when it its constructive, when it makes me focus on my craft, when it makes me stretch to be better, is my best friend. I’ve taken many insightful comments from readers and peers and have applied them because criticism is something you should use to make informed decisions about your writing. You don’t deal with criticism. You work with it. But then again, what they really want to know cannot be found within the question, “How do you deal with criticism?” What they really want to know is, “How do you wake up in the morning, hear someone be a jerk-face about what you are doing, and push through to finish it anyways?” They want to know, “How do you work within the fear that you’re just not good enough? How do you get past the...

Vagabond’s Sequel, The Birth of Anarchy has Been Released Out Into the Wild!

That’s right folks! The Birth of Anarchy launched this month without a hitch! It is officially available on Amazon! For those of you who are visual, check out The Birth of Anarchy’s Book Trailer, featuring music by singer-songwriter, Carrie Williams! She is super talented if you un-mute the button on YouTube! Also, as a special treat and at the request of one of my amazing readers, I’ve read the first three paragraphs of The Birth of Anarchy out loud under a Christmas tree!    The Birth of Anarchy is Vagabond’s Sequel. Below is a little bit more information if you are curious!  “The past is just as unwritten as the future, for both places in time hold unborn stories, and the only moment you can truly trust exists between the here and now.” Anicetus Petrakis grew up searching for unborn stories—those stories lost in the crevices of time and the shifting perspectives of those who wrote and rewrote the Republic’s history. Groomed to follow the family tradition of politics, he was taught to navigate a world manipulated by half-facts and missing-truths. His future appeared to have a set course until he learns about the Unnamed, a Terrorist organization within the Rebels on the Tracks, threatening to create Transgenic abominations that will contaminate the Human Genome. At the request of his grandfather, Anicetus plants himself in the midst of the Rebels under the guise of garnering peace between the Citizens of the Republic and the Vagabonds of the Tracks. Hucksley, an incorrigible Track-girl takes on the task of guiding him through this new path, but can Anicetus outmaneuver her ploys in order to...

To the Motherless Daughters on their Wedding Day

The first boy I ever loved didn’t love me back. We were small town kids with small town hearts, and neither person knew how to speak the language of the other. And there is a timeless beauty in that. I don’t blame him. At the time, I was a grieving hot-mess. I was learning how to be a motherless daughter, an abandoned sister, a prize in a custody battle between a step-dad I hardly knew and a father I barely met, and the perfect student. I had to wear a mask for the world, and more often than not, that mask would falter. I’d break down. I’d loose control. I’d mess up. I’d say the wrong thing. I’d cry at the wrong moment. To ask a teenage boy to take that on was never meant to end well for me. Yet this crack in the capillaries, those heartstrings that tie us to moments in time, was the first pain I could make sense of after my mother died. I finally felt normal because it was the kind of pain all my classmates went through. For a long time, I’d listen to my friends cry over a boy and wonder what that felt like. What did it mean to miss someone that left by choice rather than someone that left by death? When it finally happened, I wish I could say it hurt less than the other loss, and I wish I could say that one loss wasn’t exasperated by the other. But this first heartbreak was made more visceral the moment I realized I couldn’t run straight to my...