my latest moody poems

NO 1. PROMPT: “old times”

Maybe new times

Are just old times

in disguise

NO 2. PROMPT: “feelings”

How deep

is the well

of my feelings

take a bucket

and drain me dry

don’t worry

how i collapse into dust

NO 3. PROMPT: “tragedy”

Life took me

one tragedy at a time

until i was

a collage of

almosts,

nevers,

and foolish somedays

NO. 4 NO PROMPT

again she was left—

left behind,

left over.

left for reasons unknown,

left to her own sorrows.

she was just

thoroughly

unceremoniously

unapologetically

left waiting for what would finally be right.

WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING // moody marshes, grits, & zoology

I do not like doing popular things until they are UNPOPULAR. So, when I saw that Where the Crawdads Sing was being read by everyone and their grandmother, I immediately said “Ew no.”

However

I have fallen

I am sorry to disappoint

Here’s what happened: I literally saw a billboard for the movie based on this book while driving to work, and somehow it captured my attention. And sometimes I like to pretend I’m the type of person that won’t watch a movie until they’ve read the book, so . . . thus my saga began.

It’s been two weeks since I read the book, and I haven’t written a review because I’m honestly still reeling from the novel. Usually my book reviews are witty and funny, but this novel was HEAVY. Let’s chat.

An entertaining one-sentence summary

A little girl raises herself in the marshes of North Carolina, learning about the world and life from observing nature around her but then she grows up and, like the best of us, likes a *bad boy* and then oh no he’s murdered and everyone thinks it was her bc she’s just a bitter ex.

MORE ENTERTAINING SHORT SUMMARIES

Speedboat chases

MURDERRRRR

Deep south

Burnt grits

Illustrated books about nature

Lots of cool nerdy info about animals of the marsh

This book just literally makes me want to go lie in a grassy field for the rest of my life and make friends with all the birds of the world and drink only the dew of the earth

INITIAL THOUGHTS

First off, a little disclaimer: this book does have a couple parts I personally didn’t feel comfortable reading (about four), but it’s pretty obvious when they’re coming up so they’re easily skippable without taking away from the plot.

This book was GORGEOUS. The writing made me so appreciative of nature. It made me want to get rid of my phone, of my Instagram, of everything digital and live in the woods. We are losing the art of slow living; people are too glued to their technology to see the beauty of the world around them.

I’m still a little confused about what the message was, to be honest. The author believes in evolution, and refers to women in the backmatter of the novel as “mammals.” The main character talks about how in nature the males compete for the attention of the females, and there are some males that aren’t as high quality as other options but they get the females because they show off in deceitful ways.

The book seems to make this point as well: Kya’s first love truly seems to care for her, but he leaves her because of his own immaturity and fears. She uses her second love interest (Chase) only as a bandaid to her deep-rooted desire for love and community, even though she doesn’t connect with him on a mental level as she did with her childhood love. Therefore, she’s just like the female mammals: she chooses the “bad boy” because he has a nice speedboat and is just there.

*SPOILER ALERT, SKIP TO THE RATING PART IF YOU HAVEN’T READ YET*

A murder is woven throughout the whole book: Kya has been accused of killing Chase. Everyone assumes she was just jealous of his bride. You grow to care about Kya throughout the book . . . only to find out in the end that she DID kill Chase!!

In the novel, Kya watches female insects rip male insects’ heads off. It seems to be a dark comparison that she learned from nature that she has to protect herself by literally killing her ex. I’m still wondering if the author meant for Kya to be a hero or a sad villain, misunderstood and scared to the point of believing murder is the only option.

This book is very sad. You can feel Kya’s isolation, and I think we can all understood how she feels misunderstood. Growing up, I definitely felt misunderstood and judged by my peers. Also, it deals with rape which always gets me super upset. Thankfully, Kya escapes before she’s hurt.

WHAT I DID LIKE

  • The setting and description made me so nostalgic for the Carolinas.
  • I did NOT see the end coming!! I was shook. Also, loved how it was revealed.
  • The poetry throughout the book.
  • The writing style was STUNNING. Delia had to write from the POV of a young child, then a young woman. It felt so realistic to the way a child would think.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

  • The author seemed to compare human relationships to just animalistic instinct. That lowers love to just a fact of science.
  • Not sure if I liked the end itself. Mixed feelings…

MY RATING

Four stars!!!

THE CARTOGRAPHERS // maps, mysteries, & multiple povs

Me at the beginning of 2022: i shall read one book every week of 2022

Me at the beginning of 2022: *gets a FREAKING PUBLISHING DEAL*

Me: whoopsie

The events relayed to you above are 100% true, 0% fictional. I had a great plan to read 52 books but . . . I had to go and publish a book instead. So, I think I’ve read a grand total of . . . THREE BOOKS (?) *immense clapping ensues*.

I know, I know—I’m a shameful excuse for a reader.

But hey! Hey hey! I’m back, kinda sorta. I literally just finished The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd, a novel sent to me by Book of the Month. I chose it for two reasons:

  1. The cover is BOMBBBBBB
  2. It’s a thriller, and I need more thrill in my life
  3. The cover is PURTY (oh whoops did I say this already)

So, let’s dive into a review shall we?

AN ENTERTAINING ONE-SENTENCE SUMMARY

Nell is obsessed with making maps but after she became a disgrace in the map-making community she now makes knock-off maps but then her father is MURDERED and people start popping up in Nell’s life claiming that they were involved in a mysterious group with her parents called THE CARTOGRAPHERS and this person is tracking down a map that broke the Cartographers group up and there’s just a whole lotta drama surrounding this map oh also some magic maybe????

MORE ENTERTAINING SHORT SUMMARIES

Maps and mappy terms

MURDERRRRRR

Secret towns!!!!

A fire

People obsessed with maps and cartography

Maybe a little magic????

INITIAL THOUGHTS

This book was super fun!! I really enjoyed learning about cartography—I (of course) knew very little about mapmaking before I read this book, but now I’ve realized it’s a whole art. I loved how into the details the book got; I love coming out of a book feeling like I learned something. And while I’m not about to quit my job to go draw maps, I definitely appreciate them now more.

If anything, the concept itself was a little confusing. Halfway through the book, magic is introduced and I found it very jarring because until then I’d thought we were in a real-world situation. Then, a lot of explanation begins and I found myself skimming over it just so I could figure out who the bad guy was.

HOWEVER!! I must say, I was super caught off-guard by the revelation of the baddie. I pride myself in always being able to guess whodunnit . . . but I actually NEVER can lol.

Me during Murder on the Nile: OH YUS I TOTALLY KNOW WHO IT IS *GUESSES TOTALLY RANDOMLY*

Also me: 100% WRONG

Regardless, I was still glad I was wrong because that means the author successfully turned me away from suspicion.

I had a hard time finishing the book, because I started losing interest due to how heavy it was getting with explanation. But I DID finish it. And overall, I’d have to say I liked it!

Also, can I just give a shoutout to Peng for writing a successful, beautiful novel WITHOUT lacing cuss words throughout the novel? YES. IT IS POSSIBLE TO WRITE A GOOD BOOK WITHOUT CUSSING EVERY COUPLE SENTENCES. (I’m looking at YOU, Lucy Foley, author of “The Guest List”). 👀

OVERALL SUMMARY

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

QUOTABLE QUOTE

“Maps are love letters written to times and places their makers had explored.” 

i got a peek at my debut novel’s book cover.

I always love getting emails from Mel, founder of Lost Island Press (my publisher!!). It always means there’s exciting news, and we’re one step closer to publication day!

This past email was probably my most favorite yet, though. Because I finally got to see my book’s cover.

I’ve fiddled around with covers for this book so many times. In 2017, I created a cover for The Memory Jumper for a contest, and even before then I’d slapped something together from Pinterest, imagining the day I would have a REAL cover.

I was given two choices, and I could hardly contain my excitement. I kept flipping back and forth between the options, shook at how REAL they looked. And I couldn’t help but be so glad I’d waited. Waited to printed my book, waited to get it REALLY published. So many times I wanted to just hop on Lulu and print a copy for myself. I was convinced it would just never see the light of day, so I might as well see it in print once.

But NOW.

Now, it’s actually happening.

I, of course, can’t reveal anything about the cover yet. But we’ll be revealing it sometime in June, which I’m sure will come quickly! So stay excited. ❤ I know I am!

announcing the release date of my first novel

On Friday, my publisher officially announced when we’re releasing “The Memory Jumper”! I’ve been through two pretty intensive rounds of edits and I’m wrapping up that second round as we speak (it’s open in my other tab haha).

It’s about six months until release and I can’t even explain what I’m feeling.

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So, October 8 it is, baby! Stay tuned for the cover reveal, ARC campaign, and more goodies as we approach this date!

We Are All Characters

Being a writer can be pretty deep sometimes. I was just watching a video on writing, and the YouTuber said stories are driven by characters, and characters are driven by a couple things.

  1. Characters start out with a lie. This is why the book exists! A character believes a lie and operates based on that lie.
  2. They also have a deep-rooted desire. They believe “If I just had ________” or “I just were ___________”, then “my life would be INFINITELY BETTER.”
  3. Their fear keeps them believing the lie and away from their desire. This creates what we love: CONFLICT.

As I was watching the video, I was thinking . . . OH NO (haha). I am a classical character.

THE LIE

I too believe a lie. I mean, don’t we all? My lies come in different shapes and sizes and flavors depending on the season or current circumstances.

As a Christian, I believe all since is rooted in a deeply misplaced lie about God. I’m dissatisfied because I believe God can’t fully satisfy me; I’m lonely because I don’t believe God is with me. As a human, I believe I am incapable or not smart enough or not trying enough.

In my book The Memory Jumper, Adelaide believes that she can’t escape from Fawn. She can never go outside and be free. She also believes that she is a monster and not worthy of freedom because of the evil she has been a part of.

THE DESIRE

I also have a desire. I have many, because I am a well-rounded character. 😉 I desire to go to book stores and drink coffee.

Oh, wait . . . not that kind of desire?

Deep down, I just want to live a life worth living. I don’t want to die and wake up in heaven, knowing I wasted years of my life. I want to be a companion, an encourager for all whose paths I cross. I don’t want to make peoples’ lives harder: I want to make them infinitely easier.

I want to make the unloveable feel loved.

In The Memory Jumper, Adelaide wants to go outside. She wants to know that her talent is actually a blessing, not a curse. She wants to be a creator and sell her pottery and jewelry in The Switch (THE MOST EPIC flea market type place you’ll EVER read about haha). And she wants Fawn to be the mother Adelaide thought she was.

THE FEAR

Ugh, don’t get me started on this. Fear, it is a liar (as the song goes). I’ve grown to realize that fear is THE MOST POWERFUL THING IN THE WORLD (well, besides love and truth). Fear keeps us from doing what we wish we could do. Fear of failure and rejection are huge obstacles for me.

In The Memory Jumper, Adelaide’s fear is that Fawn’s abuse will get worse. She also fears that she’ll grow completely numb to the evil she is committing, turning into Fawn.

WHAT KIND OF A CHARACTER ARE YOU?

Ask yourself:

  • What is my LIE?
  • What is my DESIRE?
  • What is the FEAR feeding into my LIE and keeping me from my DESIRE?

Maybe we need more writers to pinpoint this classic recipe for conflict. There’s a reason stories are built on these concepts: they’re relatable, and they’re the building blocks of our lives! And, maybe with a little bit of introspection, you’ll be able to become a character with a positive character arc, ready for the next “book” in your “series.” 😉

Draft 2 Progress Update

I’ve been writing rabidly since the moment I hung up with my publisher.

It’s been about a month, and I have exactly one more week before the second draft is due. It’s unreal!

For a while, I felt like every spare moment was spent writing. I woke up in the morning to write, then got ready, my characters invading my mind all the while. Then I went to work, plots and characters and motivations and questions swirling in my brain. Then I came home and wrote more. All evening, actually.

I began to feel burnt out because I have no concept of having physical limits. I think I can I can I can . . . but sometimes I just can’t.

Something happened the other day that perfectly illustrated this. We had a staff training day at work, and for one of the sessions the speaker decided we should just go on a walk instead.

A 2-mile walk.

Now, I love a good walk. However, I was wearing a dress and ballet flats. I’m also stubborn, so I had to be at the front of the group the whole time.

By the time we rounded the corner (45 minutes later) and saw our office building, my ankles were crying out for relief.

I realized—wow. I need to give myself a break! Not just from work, but from writing even.

Because, I still have one more draft. It’s all going to come together.

Editing is a thousand times harder than writing. I can write all day. But now I have specific things I have to fix: I have a 70,000-word story that has to come together. Every sentence must connect to other surrounding sentences and chapters and plots.

My brain feels like Sherlock putting all these clues together.

If I’ve learned anything in life, it’s that the harder the journey the greater the reward. I am so so excited for the day I get to hold the book in my hands, and that’s what’s propelling me forward.

Keep this in the back of your mind: I’ll be having an ARC campaign for my book this summer! I’d love to have you be a part of this. Stay up to date by following me on Instagram: @amanda.michelle.brown

The Spaghetti Concept

People always ask me how I “do so much stuff.”

Beyond the fact that God has blessed me with an extra helping of curiosity and fascination with life, I just have this constant awareness that I only get one life. I don’t know how long it will last, and I want to get as much out of it as I can.

That may sound morbid, but I don’t believe it is. I think more people need to live with full knowledge of the precious gift they have.

So, a couple months ago I decided to name this lens with which I live life. I live according to The Spaghetti Concept.

A guy from church once told my mom that real Italians know their spaghetti is done by throwing it at the wall. If it sticks, then the pasta is perfectly al dente.

It’s the same for me about ideas or goals. I welcome ideas and possibilities and goals. They are all welcome in my pasture; there’s no gates or bars here.

When an idea comes at me (like start a podcast, blog, magazine, or book) I just go for it. I take that idea and throw it at the wall. If it sticks, great!! If not, then at least I can say I tried it.

It can be embarrassing to fail in public. And trying so many things publically, you’re bound to fail at least once. But we’re too afraid of failure. It shouldn’t be embarrassing; instead, it should help us realize what works and what doesn’t.

Regarding first drafts, a speaker from a The Futur video said that first drafts EXIST so you have something to edit for the second draft. If you never start that blog or book or hobby…you won’t have ANYTHING to work with.

Plus, each thing you do will teach you something. You’ll also become a more relatable person.
All of my closest friends are the more cautious, calculated type. They want the perfect logo before launching a business, or the perfect outline before writing a book. And I love them for that; I need people to balance out my crazy thoughtless just-go-for-it attitude.

So, for those calculated people: I say EXCELLENT. However, may I add on a suggestion: give yourself a time limit to soak and reflect. You have two weeks to come up with started blog post ideas; you have one month to make a logo for your podcast; you have three months to build out your freelance website.

And to those who JUST DO IT, two things:

  1. Welcome the strategic people into your life for balance and perspective.
  2. Slow down, *just a bit*. Don’t hit send or publish too fast…there ARE things called “mistakes” and ya might want to proofread or sit on a design for a while. You’ll have a fresh perspective in the morning…or next week. Always pulling the trigger has gotten me into many messes…ha!

So, keep throwing spaghetti at the walls. Ya never know what might just stick.

Writing as a Graphic Designer

That first line—

That engaging, poetic first line is my anchor point.

All I need to begin writing is an engaging first line. I know and you know that the line will probably be changed one day, but for now . . . it anchors my story.

Letters and words are my shapes. I toss them across the empty Word document, my artboard for the time being. This one isn’t right, this one could be stronger, these two say the same thing . . . my fingers add, delete, merge, and change just a slight beat behind the racing of my brain.

Rewrite. Resize.

Save. (Don’t forget that part!)

Someone once said that a first draft exists so you have something to edit in your first draft. This is true for both writing and graphic design. In writing, you need words. In design, you need objects and text.

Every great thing started out as nothingness. Now, my dear friend, you have a preliminary masterpiece.

I keep editing: does this sound right? Does this look right? Is the right feeling being evoked?

This is the synthesis of my two crafts: they truly sing together. Writing taught me to not fear harsh critique; design taught me the importance of visuals in carrying a story. Both require discipline and curiosity.

I close out of the document. Tomorrow, another blank page will be awaiting me. And, just like before, I will find that anchor point deep within that keeps me coming back to these two loves of mine.