August 2016 Recommended Reads — Feel Free to Share Your Own!

August 2016 Recommended Reads #paranormal romance #history #YA #scifi #fantasy #bryn donovan

Over the summer, I got out of the habit of writing posts about what I was reading, probably because I wasn’t reading as much as I should’ve been. But the summer is winding down, and even though it’s been many, many years since I was in school as a teacher or a student, I have that “beginning of fall semester” feeling when you’re ready to read a lot and learn new things. I wonder if other people get that feeling around this time of year, too?

Anyway, here are books I enjoyed recently!


Seeker, Arwen Elys Dayton.


August 2016 Recommended Reads #paranormal romance #history


If you liked The Hunger Games but you thought they were, you know, not brutal enough, Seeker is for you! Okay, this YA scifi/fantasy is not that similar to Suzanne Collins, although it apparently is going to be a movie, and I’m looking forward to that. It takes place in a highly original world with innovative weapons, and it would be spectacular on film.

One long sequence involving one of the young men, Shinobu, was so brilliant and entertaining that I had to re-read it. And I would recommend Seeker to writers just based on the fact that it was one of the most well-developed and sympathetic cruel villains I’ve ever read.


Wulfe Untamed, Pamela Palmer.


August 2016 Recommended Reads #paranormal romance #history


I’m not surprised this one has 100 reviews on Amazon and an average of 5 stars. Although I write paranormal romance, I sometimes struggle to find PNR books that I really love. And then when I do, I’m so happy. There were a few things in this world that I would’ve changed if it were up to me, but Wulfe is my kind of romantic hero — not a “bad boy” but a good man — and the unapologetically high level of emotion in this shapeshifter story makes it just my kind of drug.

Although this is book 8 in the Feral Warriors series, it’s the first one I’ve read — I’m always jumping into a series late in the game. I’m going to read the rest of them!


The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism, Doris Kearns Goodwin.


August 2016 Recommended Reads #paranormal romance #history #YA #scifi #fantasy


I always had a high opinion of Theodore Roosevelt, and I finished this book with an even greater appreciation for his drive, his political skill, and his intellectual and physical energy. However, I learned he could also be a spiteful and egotistical jerk, and his love of war for war’s sake revolted me. William Taft, on the other hand, emerged as a deeply sympathetic (and surprisingly feminist) character, much better suited for his dream job of Supreme Court justice than for the presidency. His wife Nellie was a force of nature who, in another era, probably would’ve been the better POTUS of the two. The Tafts were crazy about one another, and it seemed like after she became ill, he lost his way. The most impressive person in this whole book, however, is the writer Ida Tarbell, whom I’d read about before.

This was a long and detailed book that left me with as much knowledge of the 1912 U.S. presidential campaign as I have of the 2016 one — and since I’m pretty politically engaged, that’s saying a lot. It’s interesting to note how little some issues and dynamics change, and how much others do.


August 2016 Recommended Reads #paranormal romance #history #YA #scifi #fantasy #bryn donovan


Have you been reading a lot, or are you looking forward to more reading this fall? Have you come across any good books lately? Let me know in the comments! Have a great week!

Friday Happy Hour: What Song ALWAYS Puts You In a Good Mood?

Friday Happy Hour: What Song ALWAYS Puts You In a Good Mood? #happy songs #playlist #positive vibes

Hey friends, happy Friday! This is an open thread, so if you just want to chat about how things are going this week or comment on what other people say, that’s great. And I thought I’d ask a fun question on Friday and see what kind of answers I get.

Some of you know I love to make music playlists. I make a new one for each writing project, plus I listen to a different musical genre every month and put a new playlist together for it right at the beginning of the the month (I’ve started sharing those through my newsletter.) The other day I was thinking about songs that always make me feel positive and happy. Here are just a few of mine:


Nina Simone, “Feeling Good” 


American Authors, “Best Day of My Life”


Avicii, “The Nights”


Tony Bennett, “The Best Is Yet to Come” (Tony is one of my all time favorites!)


Want to suggest a happy song? Want to chat about life? Feel free in the comments section! And even if you don’t, thanks for reading and have a great weekend!


16 Great Gift Ideas for Writers

16 Great Gift Ideas for Writers! For birthdays, Christmas, or graduation. Give them, add them to your wish list, or treat yourself. #writing #scriptwriting

Like everyone who works in the greeting card industry, I happen to know that August is a month when a LOT of people have birthdays. And since so many writers read my blog, I wanted to do a post about great gift ideas they might like to give to their writer friends or add to their own wish lists for birthdays or for Christmas. And of course, you might want to treat yourself!

Some of these are inexpensive gifts, some are splurges, and some are in between. Prices or availability may change after I put up this post. I can’t go back and check it all the time. I have writing to do!

I’m giving away #6 to one of my newsletter subscribers in October, so sign up if you want to! (I used to try to do giveaways on the blog, but it was too hard to track people down afterward, so now I do them on the newsletter once in a while instead.)


16 Great Gift Ideas for Writers! For birthdays, Christmas, or graduation. Give them, add them to your wish list, or treat yourself. #writing #scriptwriting



1. Five Star Spiral Notebook, College Rule, 200 Sheets. $12.50

25 Brilliant Gifts for Writers #great gift ideas #amwriting

Let’s start with the basics! This is what I write first drafts in. To me, it’s the best notebook because A. it has more pages than the other notebooks and B. it has a plastic cover that doesn’t get all torn up and protects your writing when you spill your coffee on it, not that I would ever do that.

As a kid, almost nothing made me happier than a brand-new notebook, and I haven’t changed a bit.


2. Pay No Attention to My Browser History tee shirt, sizes from kids’ sizes to Men’s 3XL. $20.

25 Brilliant Gifts for Writers #great gift ideas #amwritingI thought about my horrifying Google search history a lot when I was writing my “Not Quite Dead” post, hahaha.


3. “The Beginning” Hoodie Sweatshirt, sizes S – 2XL. $51.26

I love this design! I can just imagine snuggling into it on a fall day and starting Chapter One, page one of a brand new novel.


25 Brilliant Gifts for Writers #great gift ideas #amwriting


4. GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, by Debra Dixon. $9.99 for Kindle

25 Brilliant Gifts for Writers #great gift ideas #amwriting

Hey, fiction writers! Here’s a book about plotting that might change your life! I’m sure I’ve talked about it on the blog before. I’ve given it away in a drawing for my newsletter subscribers, just because I think it’s great. Do I follow it exactly as a writer? Um, no. I should maybe try that! But just the principles have helped me so much.


5. A big corkboard. (This one is 30” x 18” and it’s $23)

25 Brilliant Gifts for Writers #great gift ideas #amwriting
Virtual corkboards are included in the popular novel-writing software Scrivener, and you can use Pinterest boards for inspiration. There’s something so old-school and awesome about having tangible inspiration and notes right on your wall, though! It’s like what investigators do in movies to solve cases. Maybe add some index cards to go with it.


6. Eat. Sleep. Write. Mug, $13 + shipping.

25 Brilliant Gifts for Writers #great gift ideas #amwriting

Very nice for anyone trying to make writing more central in their lives… or anyone who’s already writing nonstop, for that matter.


7. Editing Marathon: Please Do Not Disturb Mug, $20

25 Brilliant Gifts for Writers #great gift ideas #amwriting

Since I spend more time editing than writing, I figured I’d include an editing mug as well. This mug was created for photographers in mind, but if there’s a better gift for someone who just finished a first draft of a novel, I don’t know it (as long as they like glitter.)


8. Novel Teas, $15.

This is English Breakfast tea, in teabags with literary quotes from novels to inspire a writer. You could put this in a basket with one of the mugs above and maybe some cookies and you would have an awesome writer gift for somebody! This actually would be a very nice gift for a fellow book club member or any reader, too.

25 Brilliant Gifts for Writers #great gift ideas #amwriting


9. “Today’s Good Mood Is Sponsored By Writing and Wine” Glass, $17

25 Brilliant Gifts for Writers #great gift ideas #amwriting

Many of us writers do drink more than caffeinated beverages, after all.


10. Final Draft 9, $175 – $180

25 Brilliant Gifts for Writers #great gift ideas #amwriting

If you’re a screenwriter, Final Draft is amazing. I know! It’s expensive! But it will save you about a half hour on the hour of formatting time. It does it all for you. It has over templates for television shows, screenplay, stageplay, and graphic novels. It even reads your script back to you! You can assign different voices to the different characters.

Okay, if you really need something cheaper (and without as many features), check out Celtx!


11. WordPress: The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Mastery, by Justin Gibbs, $14.38

25 Brilliant Gifts for Writers #great gift ideas #amwriting

Ohhh, I bet I could have used this a while back. It probably would have saved me a lot of trouble! I don’t have this book, but it has good reviews, and it looks like a great gift idea for any emerging author who’s looking into setting up her blog or author site.


12. A Passion Planner, $30

25 Brilliant Gifts for Writers #great gift ideas #amwriting

For writers to get their work done and still hold down jobs and raise children and so on, they need to stay organized. I’m a Franklin Covey kind of gal, myself, but I know a lot of people who love this planner. I think a dated one is a particularly nice Christmas gift, so I’m linking to the 2017 planner here. They have other designs and undated options, too.


13. A Zazzle gift certificate.

I’m making this suggestion particularly with indie authors in mind. Sometimes you need to print up business cards for a conference, or bookmarks and other swag for writer events… a gift certificate to Zazzle can help with that!

25 Brilliant Gifts for Writers #great gift ideas #amwriting


14. A massage gift card.

25 Brilliant Gifts for Writers #great gift ideas #amwriting

Writers can develop problems with their hands, arms, shoulders, and back from being on the keyboard for so long. They can also get stressed out about their work! That makes a massage gift card a great idea. I’ve linked to Spafinder here just because you can use their cards at thousands of locations, but you can get gift cards from lots of spas and practitioners. (Here in Kansas City I go to Michael Schuver, the best massage therapist I’ve ever visited.)


15. Fix-It and Forget-It Big Cookbook: 1400 Best Slow Cooker Recipes!, edited by Phyllis Good, $14.10

25 Brilliant Gifts for Writers #great gift ideas #amwriting

Crockpots are great for writers. Slow cooker recipes usually don’t take much time, they make a bunch of food so you can freeze some for later, and your dinner won’t burn while you’re trying to figure out how the heck to fix a pesky plot hole.


16. Master Lists for Writers: Thesauruses, Plots, Character Traits, Names, and More, by Bryn Donovan, $12.40

16 Brilliant Gifts for Writers #great gift ideas #amwriting

I wrote this book to help people think of how to describe things, develop plots, build characters, and so on, and hey, lots of people like it!


16 Great Gift Ideas for Writers! For birthdays, Christmas, or graduation. Give them, add them to your wish list, or treat yourself. #writing #scriptwriting


Do you have a gift idea for writers, or is there something particular on your wish list as a writer? Let us know in the comments! Thanks so much for reading, and happy writing!


How to Defuse a Negative Situation: The Science of Non-Complementary Behavior

How to Defuse a Negative Situation: The Science of Non-Complementary Behavior #flipping the script #what to do if someone threatens you

Last week, Mr. Donovan and I were on a shuttle at the Kansas City airport, heading back to the parking lot where we had left our car after an amazing vacation. Soon after we sat down, the man sitting across from us on the bus began yelling that the driver had skipped his terminal.

The driver apologized and said he would get him back there as soon as possible. (With the configuration of the airport parking lots and roads, he couldn’t just do a U-turn.) The man called someone and cursed loudly about his bad luck, then hung up and cursed some more. His body language suggested that he might jump out of his seat and assault the driver, who made repeated apologies and was visibly frightened.



Sitting across from him, I planned what I would do if the situation escalated. I would ask him where he was going and empathize with his problem. Although he was completely out of line and I was pretty angry at him for scaring the driver and other passengers, I thought some understanding and acknowledgement of his frustration might help calm him down.

Who knows if it would have worked or not. The driver let him off at a stop, telling him another bus was coming to take him back to his terminal, and the guy got off, still cursing.

I learned a few days later that there was principle of behavioral science in what I was planning to do. It’s called non-complementary behavior.

The idea is that humans mirror each other in our interactions most of the time. If you’re friendly to me, I’m friendly back. If you’re grouchy, I’m grouchy.

And if you’re antagonistic toward me, and I’m kind in return, it may be difficult for you to continue being antagonistic, because you’re wired to mirror my behavior. This reminds me of Proverbs 15:1 in the Bible: “A soft answer turneth away wrath.”

Here’s how I heard about non-complementary behavior. On a writing project at work, my boss’s boss shared this remarkable video, which tells a true story about a woman who defuses an armed robbery by offering a gunman a glass of wine.



This is apparently part of an episode, “Flipping the Script,” of a free podcast called Invisibilia. Confession: I’ve never listened to a podcast in my life! I’m going to check this one out, though.

I think that expression “flipping the script” is really apt here, too. Then gunman had already written out this scene in his head: he points his gun at people, and they either give him cash or he starts shooting them. When people didn’t behave according to his mental script, it threw him off of his scripted lines and actions as well. His narrative was interrupted.

This idea of non-complementary behavior doesn’t just apply to armed robbers, or even to hostile men on airport shuttles. If someone is just cranky, for instance, I can choose to meet that with something other than crankiness.

It’s really difficult to do this! It’s human nature to point out that it’s not fair that the other person is being less than pleasant. The urge to retaliate is strong — never mind the fact that “They started it!” is a justification not worthy of anyone over the age of twelve.

It’s a great thing if you can stop negativity from spreading to you, which then stops you from spreading it to other people. And having a specific name for it — non-complementary behavior — might help me put it into principle more often.

Have you ever defused a negative situation in this way? Or does it sound like something you’d like to try? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading, and have a great week!

Well Friends, Iceland Is An Amazing Place.

Well Friends, Iceland Is an Amazing Place. #what to see in Iceland #where to visit #what to see #travel tips

Last Sunday, Mr. Donovan and I got back from spending a week in Reykjavik and touring other parts of Iceland. We were celebrating a milestone anniversary! If you’re a regular reader of my blog (thank you if you are, you are wonderful!), you know that I haven’t traveled a ton in my life, I very much want to travel more, and I believe that travel isn’t the only adventure.

But anyway. It was a wonderful week, which you probably already knew if you follow me on Instagram. Iceland is amazing. And in case you’re looking for travel tips on what to see there, or you’re just curious, here are some reasons why! (P.S. on the big videos, you’ll have to click “play” — they won’t start automatically.)

The land isn’t done making itself yet.

There were big volcanic eruptions as recently as 2010. A lot of the land is comprised of lava fields, some of them covered over by moss. The North American and European tectonic plates leave giant cracks and chasms in the earth.

Here’s a view from inside a lava cave. (In the HBO production of Game of Thrones, Jon Snow loses his virginity in this cave. Frankly, it would be a terrible place to lose your virginity… the whole cave floor is sharp boulders.)

.Well Friends, Iceland Is an Amazing Place. #what to see in Iceland #where to visit #what to see #travel tips


This black sand beach with basalt columns was one of my favorite places.

Basalt Columns, Black Sand Beach, Iceland #travel tips #what to see in Iceland


I’ve been told that these rock outcroppings on the beach used to be trolls. They turned to stone because they got caught out in the daylight. I can neither confirm nor deny this story.


South Coast #travel #iceland

A post shared by Bryn Donovan (@donovanesque) on


The whole country is powered on renewable geothermal energy.


Boiling water and steam coming out of the ground

A post shared by Bryn Donovan (@donovanesque) on


It’s a raw, volatile landscape that fills you with its energy.


Well Friends, Iceland Is An Amazing Place. #travel tips #what to see in Iceland


We took advantage of the geothermal pools… both a small one…


Well Friends, Iceland Is an Amazing Place. #what to see in Iceland #where to visit #what to see #travel tips


And the big famous one, which deserves its own section.

They have The Blue Lagoon.

The Blue Lagoon is a huge naturally heated pool, and every tourist visits it. It’s like the Eiffel Tower. We purchased the very expensive admission ahead of time, and took a bus there in the evening through wind and icy rain.

We were thinking, “This is ridiculous. Maybe we’ll be in the water for five minutes.” The locker room was crowded and chaotic, the lockers themselves incredibly confusing. And then we got out in the water.


Well Friends, Iceland Is an Amazing Place. #what to see in Iceland #where to visit #what to see #travel tips


Because it’s so big and they only let so many people in, it doesn’t feel crowded at all. It’s misty and dreamlike. We went and got our glasses of sauvignon blanc from the swim-up bar, found a particularly hot spot where the big lava rocks shielded us from the wind (which didn’t bother us at all, once we were in the water), and had a long, romantic conversation. It was an incredible experience.


There are big, beautiful, breathtaking waterfalls.

Mr. Donovan and I have seen some waterfalls in my time. We’ve hiked down the Grand Canyon to swim at the foot of the Havasupai Falls. We’ve been to Niagara. But the waterfalls in Iceland are just…


At first I thought he was taking my picture but it's a video 😄 #travel #iceland

A post shared by Bryn Donovan (@donovanesque) on




A post shared by Bryn Donovan (@donovanesque) on



A post shared by Bryn Donovan (@donovanesque) on


You can even stand behind a huge one!


From behind a waterfall

A post shared by Bryn Donovan (@donovanesque) on


Iceland doesn’t think of itself as small.

Iceland has a shockingly low population. 330,000 people. The Kansas City metro area has about 2.2 million people, and nobody thinks of us as a big city.

Iceland’s football team beat England this past summer. England has 53 million people! And they really like their football! An Icelandic woman, Katrin Davidsdottir, won the 2015 CrossFit Games and earned the title of Fittest Woman on Earth.

Two different Icelanders told me that Icelanders tend to be positive, and it certainly seemed that way to me.

They do amazing things in Iceland. Look at this church they built, Hallgrímskirkja (the statue in front is of Leif Erikson.)


Well Friends, Iceland Is an Amazing Place. #what to see in Iceland #where to visit #what to see #travel tips

They turned old water tanks into a beautiful building. It’s called The Perlan…


Well Friends, Iceland Is an Amazing Place. #what to see in Iceland #where to visit #what to see #travel tips


And here’s what it looks like inside.


Well Friends, Iceland Is an Amazing Place. #what to see in Iceland #where to visit #what to see #travel tips


They make beautiful artwork! This is a piece by Rósa Sigrún Jónsdóttir. The flowers are crocheted – can you believe it? She stiffened them with bookbinder adhesive.

Well Friends, Iceland Is an Amazing Place. #what to see in Iceland #where to visit #what to see #travel tips #art #Rósa Sigrún Jónsdóttir

Here’s a closeup:


Well Friends, Iceland Is an Amazing Place. #what to see in Iceland #where to visit #what to see #travel tips #art #Rósa Sigrún Jónsdóttir


Even Iceland’s small horses don’t think of themselves as small. Don’t call them ponies. They are horses.


Well Friends, Iceland Is an Amazing Place. #what to see in Iceland #where to visit #what to see #travel tips


I am so deeply grateful that I got to take this trip. And it reminded me that I’m not done forming, either… and that I can do big things. That’s true for all of us.


Well Friends, Iceland Is an Amazing Place. #what to see in Iceland #where to visit #what to see #travel tips

If you’ve visited Iceland, or you live there, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section. Or if you’ve ever been inspired by a trip, I’d love to hear about that, too. Thanks for reading!



100 Writing Prompts Based on Dialogue, for Fiction, Screenplays, and More

100 Writing Prompts Based on Dialogue for Fiction, Screenplays, and More #idea starters #creative writing #NaNoWriMo

Hey friends! I created this list of idea starters mostly with novelists and short story writers in mind, but they would also be helpful for script writing, for creative writing teachers, and even for improv coaches.

No matter what you’re working on, the way you use these writing prompts is basically the same: you pick a line of dialogue and you write a conversation or a scene that includes it. Most of these are geared toward contemporary mainstream stories, but I’ve thrown in a few that go more in the direction of historical, mystery, thriller, romance, fantasy, and science fiction.

It took a long time to come up with these, but it was also pretty fun. If one of them winds up in your finished work, that’s just fine with me. Writing prompts like these can be really helpful if you sometimes wonder how to overcome writer’s block. Pin or bookmark it for future use!


100 Writing Prompts Based on Dialogue for Fiction, Screenplays, and More #idea starters #creative writing #NaNoWriMo

  1. “Ma’am, is this your dog?”

  1. “No, it’s really not that complicated. He’s a bad person.”

  1. “Hey… what’s wrong with your face?”

  1. “The king is missing.”

  1. “Ah yes, come in. Close the door behind you.”

  1. “How could you do this to me?”

  1. “Um, sorry. That one’s not for sale.”

  1. “You’ve got thirty seconds to explain to me what you’re doing here.”

  1. “Ain’t nobody ever told you who your real daddy is?”

  1. “I know this may be hard to believe, but I’m on your side.”

  1. “Never heard of that being used as a murder weapon before.”

  1. “Just sit around and cry, then. I don’t have that luxury.”

  1. “I’m sorry. I thought you were someone else.”

  1. “That’s the nice thing about telling the truth. You don’t have nearly as much to keep track of.”

  1. “Of course we’re best friends. No one else would put up with our shenanigans.”

  1. “That’s the least of your worries.”

  1. “You look a lot different from your profile picture.”

  1. “Do you trust me?”

  1. “You found it on the beach? You know, when most people take a walk on the beach, they pick up seashells.”

  1. “Sir. This is for children only.”

  1. “I haven’t tried this on a human yet, but it should be very similar.”

  1. “What? I meant it as a compliment.”

  1. “Who put this in my coat pocket?”

  2. “I can’t do this any more.”

  1. “You think you’re so good-looking, but deep down, you’re the kind of ugly that PhotoShop can’t fix.”

  1. “I know you did your best, but it just wasn’t enough.”

  1. “Even if I could stop it, I wouldn’t.”

  1. “You have got to see this.”

  1. “Guess who made the evening news?”

  1. “I don’t really think of myself as a thief…”

  1. “Are you just going to keep walking by my house or are you going to come in?”

  1. “We do things a little differently in the 21st century.”

  1. “Please return to your assigned seat.”

  1. “Dude. It’s 3 in the morning.”

  1. “I can’t believe I used to think he was attractive.”

  1. “Actually, you are speaking to the manager.”

  1. “Where are your clothes?”

  1. “Well, this contest isn’t going to rig itself.”

  1. “Hi, I’m calling about your ad?”

  1. “I can’t believe I’m telling you this.”

  1. “I should have told you this a long time ago.”

  1. “I am only telling the truth when I say that you have not behaved completely as a gentleman in this matter.”

  1. “I thought we were friends!”

  1. “That’s not a good look.”

  1. “It’s a genetic trait, but it’s exceptionally rare.”

  1. “I love you, but I don’t even think I know who you really are.”

  1. “She’s evil, but she does have a point there.”

  1. “I didn’t know you could talk.”

  1. “Sweetie, what were you thinking?”

  1. “What makes you think it was an accident?”

  1. “Sorry. You’re the first person I’ve spoken to in ten years.”

  1. “I don’t suppose you’ve got a blowtorch around here?”

  1. “I know you’re here. You may as well show yourself.”

  1. “Get a job!”

  1. “This isn’t going to be a typical best man speech.”

  1. “According to this, you owe them eighty thousand dollars.”

  1. “We thought at first that it was part of the performance.”

  1. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen y’all in church.”

  1. “I would break his thumbs right now if I could.”

  1. “Why are you helping me?”

  1. “That’s the worst reason I’ve ever heard to have a baby.”

  1. “I didn’t even recognize you!”

  1. “Is it worth breaking your vows over?”

  1. “I told you not to read that.”

  1. “Put the turkey down.”

  1. “I didn’t ask to be abducted.”

  1. “That’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever heard.”

  1. “Where did you learn how to do that?”

  1. “Are you banned from all Taco Bells, or just that Taco Bell?”

  1. “I thought you had him!”

  1. “Humility is not one of my many virtues.”

  1. “How can you stand living here?”

  1. “She’s young, fertile, and from a good family. What more do you need to know?”

  1. “Sometimes being a total geek pays off.”

  1. “You don’t have the correct paperwork.”

  1. “Careful not to break the—oh.”

  1. “I wasn’t going to say anything, but yeah.”

  1. “I’d love to help, but I want to keep all of my money in case I want to spend it on other things.”

  1. “Well aren’t you the cutest little thing?”

  1. “Why is that your password?”

  1. “Please don’t use sarcasm. It confuses me.”

  1. “After we lost you, things just weren’t the same.”

  1. “If you were logical you would’ve killed me already.”

  1. “Well, that could’ve gone better.”

  1. “Sometimes I feel like she’s still at my side.”

  1. “We’ve been waiting two hours.”

  1. “Your services are no longer required.”

  1. “I feel like we’ve met before…”

  1. “Does he hit you?”

  1. “Yes, it’s a questionable line of work, but I’m good at it.”

  1. “She’s in the building.”

  1. “Wow! It’s an honor to meet you.”

  1. “You were in a crash. Can you tell me your name?”

  1. “This used to be a great country, but people like you are destroying it.”

  1. “I’m cured. I swear.”

  1. “My chances of living to a ripe old age are unfortunately excellent.”

  1. “Let’s face it, you don’t exactly blend in.”

  1. “Forgive me if I’m misreading things, but do you want to make out?”

  1. “The next time you shoot a guy, don’t do it on national television.”

  1. “We’ll need to take a blood sample to be sure.”


100 Writing Prompts based on dialogue #how to overcome writer's block #creative writing exercises #fantasy #scifi #romance #mystery #scriptwriting #improv prompts


I hope you liked this post! If you don’t want to miss any posts like this for writers, follow the blog if you aren’t already doing so — there’s a place on the lefthand side of the page that you can click. Happy writing!



If You’re Married, Did You Get Married Wrong? We Did.

Did You Get Married Wrong? We Did. #romantic advice #how to have a happy marriage #how to know he's the one

Tomorrow Mr. Donovan and I are celebrating a milestone anniversary. Last year on our anniversary, I shared one of those “secrets to a happy marriage” posts. This year, I’ve been thinking a lot about how, according to most articles I read, we got married wrong. Here’s some of the advice I’ve seen…

Date for a long time before you get married.

Mr. Donovan and I got married about six months after we started dating. He popped the question after we’d been dating for three weeks.

To make the story clearer: when he and I were both in the same creative writing program, I started dating him with the intention of marrying him, and finally hinted very hard: “Isn’t there something you want to ask me? Something really important?”

In that three weeks, we did get to know each other pretty well. We talked nonstop. He let me read all his old journals, which not many people would do. But even before we started dating, I was sold. He was unfailingly kind, intelligent, cute, and funny, we liked the same obscure fantasy author, I liked the way he looked at me and listened to me, and I felt deep down that we should be married.

Everyone tells you not to do it this way, and logic is on their side. At the same time, I’ve heard so many couples say things like: “I saw her at a party and I thought, She’s the one.”

Don’t get married too young.

I was twenty-three and he was twenty-five. I don’t think that’s scandalously young, but it sometimes surprises people.

Wait until you’re financially solvent… or at least have a steady job.

We were both students and part-time instructors, and for the first two years of our marriage, we were living below the poverty line.

Don’t live together before you’re married.

We did, and part of it was financial (see above.)

Don’t believe in “soul mates.”

This one has gotten a lot of traction lately. The idea is that if you believe you both were meant to be, you won’t be prepared to deal with the tough stuff.

I believe more than ever that Mr. Donovan is my soul mate. It never made me expect that things would always be easy, because no part of life is always easy.

I’m not saying that other people should believe in soul mates, because I’m not in the habit of telling other people what to believe in (other than themselves and their potential.) I’m just saying it worked for me.



When I got married, I didn’t even plan the wedding. It was in another state, and besides, this was before Pinterest. If I were doing it today, I would be geeking out over every little detail and spending whole weekends researching centerpieces, but that’s not who I was then. My parents did the hard work of planning all the details of a lovely traditional wedding (thank you, Mom and Dad!!), and I showed up with a fancy dress. (I went to a bridal shop, tried on three dresses, and bought the cheapest one. It took an hour.)

I think there’s a lot of good relationship advice out there, and I am always looking for ways to be a better wife. I’ve never read The Five Love Languages, for instance, and I’ve heard good things. And 10,000 Ways to Say I Love You is one of my favorite books ever, and I need to read it again! Mr. Donovan and I have had a wonderful time so far, and I want to make the next years even better.

However, I’m not sure advice on how to get married is all that useful. Everyone’s path is different. Some people do absolutely everything “the right way,” and it still doesn’t work out, and it’s not their fault at all.

Sometimes divorce is the only sane choice. For a lot of people, getting married at all would be the wrong choice! There are no rules for any of these things.

I’ve met couples who were embarrassed to say how they met. Sheepishly, they’ll admit they met at a bar and hooked up, or they got to know one another online. But everyone should celebrate their story!

If you’re married, did you “get married wrong”? If you’re single or divorced, what are your opinions? I’d love to hear — I always learn so much from the comments section. Thanks for reading!


WIP Wednesday — Share What YOU Are Up To!

Hey friends! It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means that I share an excerpt of a writing project in progress and invite you to do the same. A paragraph or two to a page is best. Since we’re sharing work that is rough, it’s not a space for critique, though positive feedback is welcome!

Last month I shared a little bit of my story A Knight Restored, about an art conservator at a museum and a medieval knight who was turned into a stone statue. Over the centuries, this knight has developed the ability to talk to people in their dreams, which has kept him from losing his mind. In this scene, he’s gone into one of Emily’s dreams for the first time.



Tall cases full of books surrounded him in a grove of even taller trees. He saw Emily search one shelf and then another, appearing much as she did in waking life, save that in her dream she wore a white gown, more suited for Gryffen’s time than her own. As he approached, his heart pounded so loudly in his chest it nearly deafened him. He prayed that she would not flee and awake.

She straightened and looked at him. “It’s you.”

Now that Gryffen was speaking to her, he scarce knew what to say. He made a deep bow. “Lady Emily.”

“Who are you?”

“I am Sir Gryffen de Beaumont, who was oft called Sir Gryffen the Fierce, son of William de Beaumont, at your service.” Although he had been filled with joy when she could hear him before, while she was awake, the effort to convey even a short idea had drained his energy. This was so much easier.

“Emily Porter.” She shook her head. “But you’re not real. You’re a sculpture.”

He crossed the distance between them, for no fear touched her lovely features or sweet voice now. Oftentimes, that which frightened men and women did not alarm them in dreams. “Once I was a living man, as you see. I know not how long I have been trapped in the form of stone.”

Her lips parted. “That’s not possible.”

Gryffen could not restrain a bitter laugh. “Would that it were not. I can feel but not move, see but not speak, and none living can hear me. Until you.”

“I thought I was losing my mind,” she whispered. “I could hear you in my head. You told me to touch you.”

“More truth to say I begged,” he admitted.

She reached out and took his hand. Overflowing with gratitude at the simple contact, he bent down and pressed his lips to the tops of her fingers.

“Um. Okay.” She giggled as Gryffen straightened again.


WIP Wednesday Bryn Donovan


Please share something of your own — don’t be shy! Or if you are shy, you can just talk about what you’re working on, too.  Thanks for stopping by!



My Novella Is In This Boxed Set — Pre-Order It For 99 Cents!

Under Your Spell #romance boxed set #paranormal #bryn donovan #wicked garden

Hey friends! If you subscribe to my newsletter, you already know about this. I’ve talked before on this blog about Wicked Garden, my Southern gothic novella. You’ve even seen a couple of excerpts of it in progress! It’s is an emotional romance with an unstereotypical hero that deals with a haunting. I’m so pleased with how this story came out, and I hope you like it, too!

Wicked Garden is in this boxed set with nine other novellas called Under Your Spell: a Romance Boxed Set of Masked Balls, Haunted Gardens, Magic, and More. It launches in the fall, but you can pre-order it here for only 99 cents, which is a pretty great price for 10 novellas!

Under Your Spell #romance boxed set #paranormal #bryn donovan #wicked garden #free

Here’s the blurb for my story:

After a painful breakup, Nicole moves to a house in Savannah, resolving to be single. Aaron, her new neighbor, is a true Southern gentleman who tempts her to forget that plan. But the house’s evil history haunts the garden and Nicole’s dreams… and Aaron has secrets of his own. To end the curse, Aaron and Nicole will have to overcome their past fears and give their relationship a chance to bloom.

Fair warning: my novella does have one explicit sex scene. A lot of people enjoy those, and I enjoy writing them, but they aren’t everyone’s preference, so I just wanted to let you know! I believe that most of the stories by the other authors aren’t steamy.

If you do pre-order it, please let me know below so I can thank you personally! If you don’t read romance and just want to say congratulations, that’s awesome too. No matter what, thank you SO MUCH for inspiring me with all your comments, and thanks for reading the blog!

Today Is Lughnasadh: What’s Working? What Isn’t?

Today Is Lughnasadh: What's Working? What Isn't? #wheel of the year #semi-charmed life #how to say no

When I was a kid, I always thought it was too bad that August didn’t have any holidays in it. One of the reasons I chose the month of August to get married was that I wanted to give the month a little extra sparkle.

Back then, I’d never heard of an ancient Gaelic festival called Lughnasadh. Although almost no one celebrates it in my country. it resonates with me, and I thought you might enjoy hearing about it too.



In ancient Ireland and Scotland, Lughnasadh coincided with the first harvesting of the grain. It was named after the god Lugh. Here’s an interesting story about Lugh: he travels to the kingdom of the Tuatha Dé Danann, fairies or immortals, to join their court. The doorman is unimpressed with our hero. Lugh says he’s a smith: the doorman says, “Yeah, we’ve got one of those.” Lugh explains that he is a warrior, a musician, a poet, and the master of many other trades. With each claim, the doorman says, “We’ve got one.”

Finally, Lugh asks, “Okay, do you have a guy who’s all of those things?” The doorman admits that they don’t, and Lugh joins the Tuatha Dé Danann. In today’s world, creative people increasingly have to play many roles, from writing to marketing to art direction. A lot of us can probably relate to Lugh’s versatility.

At the same time, attempts at versatility and efforts to branch out don’t always pay off. Waverly Fitzgerald writes that Lughnasadh is a time for regrets, farewells, harvests, and preserves.

In what ways do you need to let go, give up, and move on? Some seeds grow into thriving crops, while others wither. What have you learned from the crops that didn’t take? Are there dead plants that you ought to stop watering?

No question about it: owning up to the fact that something isn’t working or isn’t right for you can be disappointing or downright painful, but clearing it away leaves space for other dreams.

What blessings have you received this year that you should pause and give thanks or feel grateful for?

Sometimes it’s all too easy to take these things for granted.

What do you need to preserve and keep? It could be your zucchini crop, your memories of a family trip, or creative work. Even things that don’t seem like such a big deal now may mean the world to you later.

A few years back, I wrote a poem about Lughnasadh, and here it is:




Here’s to all the goals that didn’t come close to fruition,

the fancy college pulled out of, the cancelled vacation,

the cost of airline tickets and even some tuition,

vanished like your diet. It’s been an education.


Burn the decorations for the party no one could make.

Toss rotted vegetables you meant to eat, like every week.

But here’s to the one or two plans that did actually take.

They’re like warm apples, and black grapes so fat with juice they leak.


You may think it’s a small crop, but it’s time to make preserves.

You may think nothing ever changes and yet all along

your parents are growing older, the children on your nerves

are growing up, and your habits now, TV shows and songs,


will be what stabs you with nostalgia many years from now.

The good times that you wanted are right here in this mess now.


Today Is Lughnasadh: What's Working? What Isn't? #wheel of the year #semi-charmed life #how to say no









In good seasons and difficult ones, we are always learning and progressing. I hope you have many harvests and preserves, and hope you have a great month!