Looking for more to read? Head over to my new blog, Rebekah Joan!



That number. That glorious, wonderful, amazing, crazy number.
Gee. I don't even know how to write this post, except to blurt it all out and hope it makes sense.
See, I finished it. I finished the first-slash-third (explained here) draft of the Three Worlds Series. 63,079 words. I believe I teared up three times when writing this dang thing. Once quite awhile ago, twice today.
I've been so close to the end of this novel for I don't know how long, but I haven't been able to find time to write it between school, the three homeschool co-ops we're doing, and writing another novel for school.
But, finally, I decided that I was going to finish this book, and I was going to finish it today. This is my last free weekend for a while, and I decided I was going to spend it how I wanted to. So I did. I wrote and wrote and wrote.
Clara, one of my characters. via

I'm not sure I like the ending. I mean, I like the last line. I personally think it's amazing. But I feel like it's kind of weak. After Alexa and Drew (the two main characters) come back from Abif (one of the three worlds, where the majority of the book takes place), there's a short scene between them, and then a short scene with Alexa's family.
My Novel in a Year teacher has said a few times that the resolution is supposed to be short. Two chapters at the most, I think she said. So I tried to keep it short. But Alexa went through so much emotional pain, and even though I had her realize that eventually she'd be okay, I guess it ended on a rather sad note. In fact, I feel like the last few chapters are a little on the dark side, because...well, they're fighting darkness.
via Pinterest
This, of course, is probably just my emotions going wild, because the author is so much closer to the story than the readers will ever be. So, for me, the ending is dark, sad, miserable, and...I don't know. But there's one happy scene. One very, very happy scene. And it should make everything better. But I feel like it doesn't.
Of course, it's only the first-slash-third draft. It's not perfect yet. So my inner editor is screaming, too.
But I think that once this book is finished, it's going to be pretty cool. Splendid.
I just have to edit it a bazillion times first.
Bekah Joan


NaNoWriMo Survival Guide

Hey, Rebekah here! I updated this post on my new blog with a 2019 NaNoWriMo calendar and everything. View the new guide right here!

Looking for something to read?

Check out my FREE book, The Runaway House, on Wattpad:
When Lee witnesses a murder, her only chance at survival is running. Somewhere along the way she meets a man who takes her to The Runaway House, a safe place for fugitives and runaways. There she begins to find peace, courage, love, and a real family.

Check it out here.

Hey, there! I'm glad you've stopped by to make your NaNoWriMo experience amazing!

This is a two-parted survival guide. Part I consists of tips and tricks I've seen, heard, read, or experienced. Part II consists of supplies I’ve discovered are helpful to have handy.
This is here to help you prepare for NaNoWriMo, along with struggling through it. Please, please don't read just summaries. You can do that at first, but click on the links. They're a lot more helpful than the summaries, and they're written by adults with more experience, not some sixteen-year-old girl who's only done NaNoWriMo once before.
There’s a lot of information here, and quite a bit of it is repeated. But the more it’s repeated, the more important it probably is.
I’ve been accumulating this information since May, so if this isn’t the best survival guide you can find, well…I wouldn’t be surprised. But I did put a lot of time and effort into this, so take a look. Who knows—you might even learn something (I did).
Oh, and here's a random thing (that's not so random, really. It fits here). Go check out The Office of Letters and Light's blog. It's quite helpful.

Image Courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.

Part I: Tips & Tricks

1. Trick Yourself.

In The Write Practice's post 7 Tricks to Write More with Less Willpower, Joe Bunting talks about how to trick your subconscious into writing for you (#3). This works, guys. I've tried it. It's very helpful for when you just don't feel like writing in general. (To be honest, this whole post is a great reference for NaNoWriMo AND writing in general.)

2. Write or Die.

(No, not literally.) If you haven't heard of Write or Die by Dr. Wicked, I pity you. You need to check it out, especially if you're a NaNoer. I found it last year, at the end of November. Basically, the thoughts running through my head were something like this: WHERE THE HECK HAVE YOU BEEN ALL OF MY LIFE? You set your word goal and a time goal, and then write (you don't have to get the desktop version one. There's an online version, under "apps")! But you can't stop for more than a few seconds without some form of punishment. Dr. Wicked's methods of punishment can be harsh or gentle, depending on the mode you set it on. But be careful! He will start erasing your words if you stop for too long.

3. Backwards NaNoWriMo.

I haven't tried this form of NaNoWriMo yet, but I guess it works . Basically, you write a lot on the first day of November, and as the month goes by, you don't have to write as much each day. On Day 30, you actually only have to write one word. That's right. One. Word.

4. Watch People.

Whenever you aren't writing, watch people. They'll give you ideas, and as the Write Practice says, they're "free inspiration."

5. Don't Edit.

Whenever I read or hear tips about NaNoWriMo, this one is always there. Don't edit. It's a waste of your time until you're done. Right now, just write. You can't afford to edit. You don't have time, and personally I think editing can be very draining and frustrating. So just wait.

6. Have a Plot.

Please, oh PLEASE. As Nathan Bransford stresses in his blog post Do You have a Plot?, you need to have a plot. Duh, you might think. But bear with me. If you actually read the post, it is explained that a plot is very different from a theme, and people tend to think of the theme as the plot. So before I get any more confusing, just read the post. Okay? No, seriously. Go read the post, make sure you have a plot, and if you don't, MAKE ONE. And make an outline, too. (I recommend the Snowflake Method, which was recommended to me by Amy Wallace. It's a lot of work, but so worth it.) I didn't have one last year, and it screwed me up. So have one. You'll stray from it, for sure, but you need to have one. That way, when you feel lost, you'll have something to come back to.

7. The Write Practice Again.

Here are five tips from The Write Practice (yes, yes, I really do like that website) on how to win NaNoWriMo. They're simple tips, but very effective.
1. Write with friends.
2. Write fast.
3. Don't edit.
4. Use a timer.
5. This isn't just about 50,000 words.

8. Don't Worry About the Names.

Last year, I got stuck on names. I wanted them to be right, and it took up a lot of time to find the right ones. But I learned a lesson from that fatal mistake: forget about the names. Either already have the names planned out, or if you come across an unexpected but nameless character, use a random name generator, like this one. Specifically that one because it's more than a name. It gives you an address, an email, phone number, Mother's maiden name, birthday, and a whole bunch of other random information. And don't generate over and over until you get one that you like. Stick with the first one. You can change it all later. But when you're writing for NaNoWriMo, it doesn't matter.

9. Sometimes, You Might Need a Boost in Creativity.

Shana Lebowitz compiled a list of 36 ways to boost creativity right over here. Some of these won't work for NaNoWriMo (I think visiting a country is out of the question, plus the whole asking for someone's opinion needs to wait until December. Right now you're just getting the words out, not trying to please someone else). But listening to music, writing by hand (even for a bit), or going to bed can be great options.

10. "Seeing is not Observing."

In this article, the power of taking field notes to enhance your observation skills is explained. But to me, I got something for writing out of it. Whenever you aren't writing, have a notebook. Always. Even by your bed at night (we all know that's when the best ideas come to us). Notice everything going on around you. Write down how the little boy's smile turned into a laugh when his mom started tickling him. See that rose? Describe everything about it. Take a picture of it if you have a camera with you. Just remember this: always be observing, and find a way to put those observations into your novel. It'll boost your word count and give your scene a bit more depth.
Besides, who doesn't like pretending to be Sherlock Holmes?

11. Reward Yourself.

I got this one from over here. They'll give you links to other articles that explain why and stuff. The point of the post: reward yourself when you do something significant. Not after every sentence. If you finish your word count for the day, celebrate. Get more done? Celebrate. You're halfway? Celebrate. But do NOT celebrate by not writing. As it says in the article, "never reward writing with not writing. Rewarding writing by abandoning your schedule is like rewarding yourself for quitting smoking by having a cigarette." -Paul J. Silvia

12. Know How to Defeat the Two Types of Writer's Block.

One of the NaNo pep talkers from last year (for the YWP), Ally Carter, wrote a post that helped me a lot. It's about the two types of Writer's Block, how to recognize them, and what to do about them. (Also, here are all of the pep talks from the YWP, and here are all of the ones for the "normal" NaNoWriMo.

13. Writer's Relief Comes to the Rescue!

(Yet another great writing website!) Over at Writer's Relief, their staff have given seven very helpful tips for NaNoWriMo. They are: prepare mentally, clear your calendar, create an outline, have draft notes, stock the fridge (healthy food, guys), exercise, and set rewards. Go read the post. They get more in depth, and they're probably some of the best tips I've found while putting this thing together.

14. Timers are Great.

You know they are. Don't deny it. They help keep you on track. Write or Die is a great one with a goal all set in, but if you don't like that, here's another one.

15. Make a Long Playlist and Don't Stop Until it Does.

Don't stop for anything. No food. No internet. No messing around. Nothing. (Okay, you can get up to pee, but that's it.)


From The Office of Letters and Light, I show you eight tips they provide for surviving Camp NaNoWriMo, that are still very useful for NaNoWriMo. Or real life.
S-Size up to the situation. (You can do it.)
U-Use all your senses, Undue Haste Makes Waste. (Don't write so fast that your story is confusing, but don't write so slow that you can't finish in time.)
R-Remember Where You Are. (You're among friends, it's okay to suck, and you're at the beginning of the rest of your writing life.)
V-Vanquish Fear and Panic. (Forget about fear. It's pointless. Instead, have a plan, stick with it, and stop worrying.)
I-Improvise. (An acronymn.)
  • Ideas
  • Mayday Option
  • Punting the Critic
  • Reinventions
  • Open Doors
  • Volume
  • Interaction
  • Sidestepping
  • Experimentation
V-Value Living. (People, experiences, etc. are our inspiration. We need them, and we can't shut them out. No piece of artwork is worth losing someone over.)
A-Act Like the Natives. (Learn from the professionals, but don't be mislead by fallacies. Basically, writers write. So write. A lot.)
L-Live by Your Wits, But for Now, Learn Basic Skills. (Make the story exciting while still improving on alliteration, metaphors, dialogue, etc.)

17. No Plot? No Problem!

The Office of Letters and Light has come up with three things to keep in mind while brainstorming for your plot.
1. Ideas are like celebrities.
2. Document everything.
3. Two stormy brains are better than one.

18. Just Write.

Sometimes, that's all you need to do. Just write, write, and write some more!

19. Forget Everything You've Just Read.

I've read over and over again that, when it comes to writing, the rules are optional. There's almost always some exception (including exceptions to this rule). So if something isn't working for you, maybe you can break that rule. You're a person. I'm a person. We have different opinions, lifestyles, methods, etc. Some rules work for me, some don't work for you.

Part II: Supplies

1. Healthy food.

Don't let yourself go completely unhealthy while you're going through NaNoWriMo. Writer's Relief suggests over here that "maintaining a healthy diet will keep you focused and alert for the long writing journey ahead of you."

2. Notebook, Pens, Pencils, etc.

Always carry these. ALWAYS. As mentioned earlier, if you decide to take field notes, you'll need these. Besides, you never know when a brilliant idea will pop into your head. And, as I have often experienced, I forget that idea if I don't write it down. (Especially at night. That's why I have a special notebook that I keep on my nightstand.)

3. Your Favorite Movies.

Yes, movies. And TV shows. Whatever you need to help you get over your problems, whether it's Type 2 Writer's Block (as mentioned here) or a lack of inspiration. Compile a list of your favorite movies/episodes and keep it handy. But don't watch one EVERY time you feel tired. Sometimes you just have to push through, because sometimes what you're feeling is Type 1 Writer's Block being sneaky. Watch out for him. That little bugger wants to ruin your November. Don't let him.

4. An Awesome Mug.

Picture this: you're writing away on a cold November night, wrapped up in a blanket with a mug of tea or hot chocolate or coffee or whatever you prefer. And what mug are you sipping your hot beverage from? It could be this fantastic Writer Mug, designed by yours truly. I worked hard on this and lovelovelove it, and you should too! Buy it (or browse other products!) here.

5. Your Brain.

Please don't forget this. Just...please. While it might be quite amusing for others to watch you try to write 50,000 words in thirty days without your brain, you'd be in a lot of pain.

6. NaNoWriMo Calendar.

It’s helpful to have your goals written down. Even if it’s just your normal calendar with the wordcount goals written on every day, do it. I have one at the end of this post that you can use. You can set it as your desktop background or print it off or whatever. It has the number day, the wordcount goal, and an inspiring quote/note, along with a couple challenges and prompts. (Don't like mine? Google search for one and you'll probably find one you like.)

7. Character Profiles.

These will come in handy, I've heard. What color were your character's eyes? Refer to the character profile instead of searching for it. Stuck on not knowing how your character would react to a certain situation? Look at their personality in their character profile. Of course, these should be made before November 1st. You can find the Official NaNoWriMo Character Questionnaire right here. The Write Practice has  the 35 Questions to Ask Your Character From Marcel Proust. Both are wonderful.

8. An Outline.

Outlining probably isn't your favorite thing. I get that. It's not my favorite either. But it must be done. The Snowflake Method is the long way around. But there are others. Even if you just write the beginning, middle, and end of the story—it's something.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

EDIT: Here's a 2015 NaNoWriMo calendar for you all! Good luck this year!

2016's Calendar:

Unfortunately, I didn't get around to making a 2016 calendar for NaNoWriMo. But I found this lovely one by Kiriska on DeviantArt!

Have any tips or tricks I didn't mention that you love to use? Post them in the comments!
I am also planning on posting a series of reminders, bits and pieces of encouragement, and possibly some interviews during November, so stay tuned! (Edit: you can find those in the 2013 archives.)


an excerpt [1]

(Because Rose did one here, and I thought it was a wonderful idea.)
Basically, the main characters (Alexa and Drew) just found a portal into another world, Abif. Of course, they go through it. Tell me what you guys think (if you want to)! I feel like it moves a tad too fast, and then too slow (*sigh*). What do you think? Have fun reading! :)

     I’m thrown down, and I hit the ground hard. Feeling Drew get up next to me, I open my eyes with caution. It hurts, but not nearly as bad as the fall did.
     “Where are we?” I ask as I take in the vast field we’re in. It’s not December anymore. I look up and, for a moment, forget about being transported to a big field that I’ve never seen before. The colorful, dancing leaves of the faraway trees catch my attention. Their branches reach toward the drifting clouds and the soaring birds. A light breeze blows my hair over my face. I tuck it behind my ear after Drew helps me up.
     The air is still cold, but it's warmer than home. Maybe we somehow made it south of where we live. You know, where it’s still October instead of December. Yeah, that really makes sense. The ground is soft and muddy. It must’ve rained recently.
     Drew runs a hand through his red hair. “Isaac told me we’d find another world called Abif. I thought he was joking. But now…I’m beginning to doubt that.”
     “Another world?” I explode.
     “What else did he say?” It’s easy to hide the bitterness in my voice. I’m too shocked. Apparently, we’re in a different world, a different dimension, a different universe. I have better things to do than worry about Isaac playing favorites.
     “Something about a war and staying out of the open. We need to hide.”
     “Why should we even listen to him?” All right, so maybe my jealousy of Drew is coming through a bit. I’m a tad annoyed at Isaac for not telling me what he did to Drew. Maybe I don’t want to listen to either of them. Besides, I like this field. It’s pretty.
     There’s a whizzing sound coming from above. When I turn my head up, I see a dark, thin stick flying toward me. An arrow. I step out of its way before it hits me.
     “That’s why. Let’s get out of here.” Drew grabs my arm and starts running, pulling me with him. He’s aiming for the woods. Unfortunately, the trees are pretty far away. Two more arrows land in front of us. At the same time, two land behind us. I don’t know if we can make it. But Drew pulls faster, and I follow. The trees are our only cover.
     The arrows stop. I don’t understand why. Risking a glance behind me, I see two people running after us. There’s a blond-haired girl and a tall, young man. They don’t have any more arrows in their quivers.
     Drew pulls me harder. I can hear the dead grass crack and break as our feet smash into and destroy it. We’re almost to the woods now—maybe ten yards away. I take another small peek over my shoulder. The man is still running after us. The girl is picking up arrows and aiming.
     But it doesn’t matter. Just a few more steps and we’ll be under the protection of the trees. Just as I hear the sickeningly familiar whiz of an arrow speeding toward us, Drew pulls me behind a tree. The arrow lodges itself in the wood.
     The trees are thinly spread. Grass still covers the floor, along with some colorful leaves and some stray branches. I can see a glowing ball in the sky that’s casting a reddish light on everything. It’s nice to know this world has a sun, too. Just as we start to head through the trees, a branch groans from up above. Before I even have time to look up, two people have jumped down and tackled us. At the same time, the man and the girl step into the shelter of the trees.
     Her bow is loaded. Just that is enough to make us cooperate. When my captor, a big and burly man, picks me up, he accidentally twists my arm. With my other elbow, I jab him in the ribs. Instantly, there’s an arrow a foot from my face.
     “Don't you dare try anything, missy,” she snaps, a menacing glare tainting her pale skin and pretty features. She speaks to me with such force that the ground underneath us should be crumbling. She has a few freckles and sad brown eyes. But those eyes are also glaring at me.
     Her jeans are muddy and torn at the knees. Her brown and short coat is torn too. Some mud is splattered on it in uneven patterns. If I’m right in what I see, she has some dried blood on her right sleeve.
     “Who are you?” the man, dressed in darker jeans that are just as muddy and a tan shirt, demands. He has a funny accent—the same one Isaac and Freya have. I wouldn’t say he’s more than twenty-five.
     I don’t know what to say. Will they kill us if we tell them the truth? I haven’t had time to think about why they’re after us. What do they want?
     “Who are you?” Drew returns. The guy holding him is even bigger than mine. He has a frightening eye patch over his left eye.
     The blond girl shifts her aim from me to him, her frizzy French braid swaying across her shoulders. “Kenneth asks the questions, not you.” She has the accent, too.
     “Kenneth,” Drew muses, thinking over the name. What’s he doing? He’s going to get us killed! “What’s yours?” he asks the girl.
     She glares at him, but she lowers her bow. I don’t get it. Why is she doing this?
     And then, with a mischievous grin from Drew, it all clicks. If they wanted us dead, we’d be dead. I can tell from the confident way that this girl holds her bow that she’s used it a lot. She’s got to have almost perfect aim. She was only shooting arrows at us earlier to scare us. Drew realized that he can say whatever he wants and she won’t hurt him.
     “Clara,” she relents. “What are yours?”
     “Drew.” He nods to me. “She’s Alexa. If you don’t mind my asking, what did we do to get shot at?”
     Clara’s eyes flash distrust, and Kenneth steps in. “No more questions until we figure out more about you two.” He looks at all of our captors. “We’ll take them to the safe house.”
     I gulp. They may call it a safe house, but for Drew and me, I highly doubt it’s anywhere near that.

Bekah Joan
p.s. i do apologize for any typos or grammatical errors. i tried to sift through it and fix them all, but i'm sure i have failed somewhere. i do hope you enjoyed reading!


the story of arthur and rosemary

We recently helped my grandfather move into a smaller apartment than the one he was in before. He had a whole bunch of notepads that he didn't need any more, so I was allowed to keep them. The other day, I was using one, and a few pages slipped out from the back. I didn't get to read them until this morning. The two pages, penciled in my grandfather's wobbly cursive, were full of the blooming love story of my grandparents. They were young and full of life and in high school. And, having not heard my grandparents story before, I find it to be quite adorable. So, read on.
(And listen to their song right here.)
(No, this isn't my grandparents, and I obviously didn't take it, but it fits. It just does. (via Tumblr.)

"I, Arthur, met Rosemary Ruth in April of 1945 at a dance held at the downtown YMCA every Saturday night. I was introduced to her by a mutual friend. She loved to dance, and was very good at it.  The things about her that attracted me to her was her personality and the devilish (impish) look in her eyes when she was teasing or kidding around. I believe it was the following Saturday that I asked if I could walk her home, and she said yes. We started dating after that. She was still dating two other fellows from time to time, but within six months we started going steady. I took her to the East prom and Lawrence Park prom in 1946. I attended her graduation in February of 1946, and she attended mine in May of 1946.
Since it was April when we met, we adopted the song "I'll Remember April" as our favorite song.
After graduation, I worked at the GE plant and Rosemary worked at the Sears store. On the nights they were open until 9 o'clock P.M., I would go up town to walk her home to her house.
Usually after a Saturday date, when we got to her house, Grandma Clara would have a platter of sweet rolls waiting for us. After dating for a long period of time, Rosemary and I went to Abbatte Jewlery Store and she picked out her engagement ring, although she did not know when she would receive it. I gave it to her on New Year's Eve, 12-31-1947 at a party.
We were married on August 5th, 1948 and went to Washington D.C. for our honeymoon.
Rosemary and I had a one room apartment until I was called into the army in August of 1950. Then Rosemary moved back home. When I was sent to school at Fort Benning, Georgia, Rosemary came there and for 3 months we lived in an apartment in Phenix City, Alabama.
Upon discharge from the Army we rented an apartment for about three years. Then we moved to Wesleyville and lived there until late 1957 when we bought another house. We lived there until we sold it and purchased another house from my father in 1958."

Bekah Joan
p.s. i have a surprise coming very, very soon. i think some of you dear writers out there will enjoy it.


september, spies, madness, poetry, camping, and an award.

here's a random picture of hot chocolate because it's September.

WARNING: this post is really, really random and unorganized. ;)
-It's September. Like, September sixteenth. When did that happen?
-And the last Gallagher Girls book comes out tomorrow. *Sobs.* You all should seriously watch the book trailer for it over here.
-Also, my mother started a blog about her crazy crafting skills, life, family, etc. It's pretty cool, even though we're still kind of working on the design...But still! It's cool. Check it out over here.
-Over at Figment, I published all of those poems I wrote in April. Guess what it's called? April. (Well, really April [A Collection of Poetry], but whatever.)
-We went camping. (Yes, again.) It was fun. I wrote a lot more than I normally do on our trips, and took a teeny-tiny amount of pictures. I must admit, I'm all right with this. 
-Grace M. over at Fictionally. awarded me for the Liebster Award. (Thank you, my dear. <3)
So, here goes.

There are a few rules to be followed upon accepting this award and they include:
- Link back the blogger that tagged you.
- Nominate ten others and answer the questions of the one who tagged you.
- Ask ten questions for the bloggers you nominate.
- Let your nominees know of their awards and tag backs.

Here are Grace's questions:
1. If you could visit any book/movie world, what would it be? Can it be one of my own? Just kidding. :) Probably...hmm...uh, this is hard. THERE ARE TOO MANY. I guess I'll go with Amara from Donita K. Paul's DragonKeeper Series.
2. Favorite genre(historical, contemporary, fantasy...) ?Action/adventure. <3
3. Do like to buy books or borrow them from the library? Buy. They MUST be mine.
4. If you could travel back in time, where would you go? Oh, dear. Another hard question. Seeing my parents' wedding would be pretty cool.
5. When it comes to snack food, do your prefer salty or sweet? Sweet. Definitely.
6. Where is one place you would like to visit? London, England.
7. Book store or online shopping for books? Book store.
8. Do covers influence you to read/not read, some books? Unfortunately (but sometimes fortunately), yes...
9.  Which do you prefer, series or stand alone books? Series. There's more time to get to know the characters and see friendships/personalities develop.
10. If you had to get rid of one of your favorite books from your book shelf, which one would it be? Are. You. Serious. No. I CAN'T (unless it's a school book. In that case, my Algebra 2 book would be gone in an instant!). But if I was forced to, probably a kid book that I'm only holding onto because...well...I don't know.

My Ten Questions:
1. Who are your top five favorite literary characters?
2. If you were at a dance/ball thingy, and Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston asked you to dance, who would you say yes to? (You can only dance one more time.)
3. Would you rather read in a quiet coffee shop, outside (with nice weather), or inside your home?
4. Real books or ebooks?
5. Do you like, love, not care about, or detest poetry?
6. If you had the chance to travel forward in time, would you take it?
7. What's your favorite song?
8. Do you prefer rainy days or sun-filled days?
9. Do you have a blog that you look to for inspiration/encouragement? If so, what is it?
10. (Yes, I stole this one from Grace.) Do covers influence you to read/not read, some books?

And I nominate...anyone who wants to. Have fun with it! I did. :)
Bekah Joan


oh, the dear blue sky.

"I see skies of blue, 
And clouds of white. 
The bright blessed day, 
The dark sacred night. 
And I think to myself, 
What a wonderful world. "
Bekah Joan
p.s. those pictures are unedited. just saying. and i do apologize for the lack of my own words in this post. but this song. oh, this song. it's wonderful. you must admit that.


blueberry hand pies {recipe}

Double-Crust Pie Crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening, or butter-flavored shortening, chilled in freezer
5-10 tablespoons ice water or milk

1. Combine flour and salt in large bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender, 2 knives, or your fingertips, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

2. Sprinkle one tablespoon ice-cold water or milk over part of mixture. Toss gently with a fork; push to side of bowl. Repeat mixture until mixture is moistened and can be formed into a ball. (The dough should hold together when picked up and pressed, and should not crack.)
3. Divide dough into 2 pieces and flatten into 24-inch disks. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap; refrigerate 30 minutes or overnight.
4. Proceed with Blueberry Hand Pie recipe.
Makes enough dough for 8 hand pies.
(This recipe was adapted from crisco.com. To be honest, I didn't even use it. I made the dough with the recipe I've always used. If you decide to, just make sure you're using a double-crust pie crust recipe.)

Blueberry Hand Pies

2 cups blueberries (about 10 ounces)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 recipe double-crust pie crust or 1 box of 2 prepared pie crusts
1 large egg, whisked with 1 teaspoon water
1 tablespoon raw sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Toss blueberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
3. Place a 14-inch sheet of parchment paper on a work surface and remove one disk of dough from refrigerator--or unroll one of the prepared pie crusts. Roll dough gently to 1/8-inch thick. Use a back and forth motion from center. Turn dough 45 degrees between each roll to keep it round. If dough sticks to surface, dust lightly with flour.
4. Using a butter knife, cut disc into quarters like slicing pizza. Mound 2 or 3 tablespoons of blueberries in center of each quarter and moisten the edges. Fold right bottom point of dough over to the left bottom point to form a smaller triangle, and press edges to seal.
5. Leave pies on the parchment and transfer paper to a baking sheet. Brush pies with egg wash, and sprinkle with raw sugar (such as Sugar in the Raw). Cut slits in tops.
6. Bake hand pies, rotating sheet halfway through, until joices are bubbling and pastry is golden brown, 35-40 minutes. Juices will run onto parchment. Transfer pies from parchment to a wire rack.
7. Repeat steps 3-6 with remaining dough and berries.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
(This recipe was adapted from www.bonappetit.com and www.marthastewart.com. I made these things last month some time, and they are amazing. I found the recipe in my local newspaper, written by Jennie Geisler.)

Bekah Joan


my characters are crazy.

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Seriously, my characters really are crazy. I don't understand them. How could they do this to me? They're putting me through so much torture, turning my brain into mush, and tying my hands behind my back while they do somersaults and cartwheels and backflips.
Hold on. Sorry, let me back up.
I was writing. It was a great day, my characters were being awesome and surprisingly cooperative, and then BAM! They do something crazy. Insane. Stupid.
The worst part? I have no idea where it came from. Literally. They just decided to sneak out in the middle of the night to find the bad guys. Yeah. They went looking for the bad guys. And (accidentally, but they were being stupid so not really) get kidnapped. Seriously—this was not my doing. It was theirs. I don't know where it came from.
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So now I'm trying to deal with their craziness, wondering what's going to happen to them. Are they going to die? (I hope not.) Get tortured? (Now, that would be appropriate punishment for being disobedient characters.) Maybe they should get rescued...but not yet. There's plot development that I guess has to happen before that. They can't get kidnapped for no reason, right?
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There's so much I want to do with this book. There's even more that, as I take my Novel in a Year class online, I realize I'm doing wrong. And that sucks. It really, really sucks.
One of those realizations: when I started out writing a few years ago, I was too nice. Nothing bad could happen. Then I realized that there has to be conflict. If there isn't, the story would be really boring. So then I was too mean. It got to the point where my cruelness was pointless. And (I think) being too mean is probably just as bad as being too nice.
So now I'm trying to find the balance. The in between, with the right kind—and amount—of conflict.
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So, we'll see how this goes. Now I need to go try to figure out what the heck I'm supposed to do with these curiously crazy characters of mine. It's so much fun when they take over the story.
Bekah Joan
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