• On Making Time to Read (And Why It Matters)

    Photo credit: TheGiantVermin on Flickr
    I have a confession. I’m terrified to share this with you all, but I want to nonetheless.

    I haven’t been reading. Well, that’s not quite true–I’m reading a lot at work, since I’m an editor, and I’ve been reading some essays and articles and things of that nature. I just haven’t been reading fiction–not anything that’s published, not outside of work.

    I know that as a writer, I have to read often. Stephen King, one of my writing idols, said in his book On Writing, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

    According to King, reading helps you recognize the shape of good and bad prose. It helps you appreciate language and hunger to put magic down on the page. You can’t be a good writer if you’re not a good reader. Reading is the best thing you can to to improve your writing prowess.

    And I wholeheartedly agree with him–reading is important. As much as life gets in the way, I’m well aware that I make a lot of excuses. I do have time to read. But I often fill that time with Netflix or iPhone games or just wasting time on the Internet. I don’t put it toward furthering my writing career. I don’t use my free time as productively as I could.

    It should come as no surprise that I want to make a living from my writing. I want it to be my career. In order for me to realize that dream, I’m going to make every effort to improve as a writer. That means I have to learn to make better use of my time–which in turn means I have to make myself read more.

    Recently, I read a post by the wonderful Lucy Flint in which she confessed a similar struggle. Like me, she wants to make it a point to read more, concentrating her efforts on reading more fiction in order to improve her writing. So I’m coming clean, too. I want to read more. And I need you all to help hold me accountable to that.

    Also, that means I need more book recommendations. Feel free to leave some in the comments below!

    What are your tips for reading more? What are some books that you couldn’t put down?

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    .@brianawrites hasn’t been reading enough fiction, and she needs some advice. (Click to tweet)

  • TOUCH Act I, Scene 1

    TOUCH: A Play in Two Acts

    (Open on a woman, the SEEKER, sitting on a bed, looking embarrassed. Another woman, the CURED, her caregiver, reads from a diary. As she speaks, the SEEKER hangs her head in shame.)

    CURED: (Reading aloud) “I’ve never been hugged before. I don’t know anyone who has. For as long as I can remember, the world has been full of people shying away from physical contact. There are no accidental touches without immediate apology, shame, and a little bit of fear. I wonder if life has always been this way. I wonder if the history of the human race is nothing but a list of ‘thou shalt not’s scribbled onto massive stone tablets. Did people ever touch? Maybe even on purpose? I wish I knew. I’d like to know. Even if I never get to touch someone myself, I think I could be happy just knowing that somewhere, long ago, someone else had been touched. (She slams the diary shut and tosses it onto the bed.) Well, young lady? What do you have to say for yourself?

    SEEKER: I didn’t mean anything by it.

    CURED: Then why did you write it?

    SEEKER: I don’t know.

    CURED: You don’t know?

    SEEKER: That was meant to be private. (The CURED stares at her sternly without saying another word.) It’s my diary, all right? No one would have read it.

    CURED: I found it.

    SEEKER: That’s different. You know what I mean.

    CURED: Honestly, after everything I’ve been through… what were you thinking writing something like that? You know what could happen if it fell into the wrong hands.

    SEEKER: Of course I do. I’m not an idiot.

    CURED: You’re acting like one.

    SEEKER: (Sighing) I had a lot on my mind the other night. I couldn’t sleep because my thoughts were driving me crazy. One of the girls at school said writing in a diary can help–

    CURED: What girl at school?

    SEEKER: Why does it matter?

    CURED: Three of your classmates were arrested last week. How can you be so blind?

    SEEKER: I’m not blind, Mother. I just choose not to see.

    CURED: I don’t see the difference.

    SEEKER: The difference is choice. (Beat) Those arrests were awful. They pulled the girls out of class and handcuffed them in the hallway. One of the other students fainted. I wanted to cry. (Pause) I’m sorry you think I’m stupid. I’m not stupid at all. I can’t help noticing what’s going on around me and I need some way to cope. The diary isn’t hurting anyone. I think I should be allowed to keep it.

    CURED: You can’t keep it.

    SEEKER: Why not?

    CURED: We’ve been over this. Too dangerous.

    SEEKER: I keep it in the house. No one besides you and I has ever seen it.

    CURED: That doesn’t mean they never will. (She sits down beside THE SEEKER) It all starts with thinking. Then writing. Then the next thing you know, you’re embracing a hug dealer and trying to explain to the police that you stumbled and he caught you–which, by the way, did not work for me.

    SEEKER: Mother, that won’t happen.

    CURED: You don’t know that.

    SEEKER: I’m not you. (She picks up the diary and holds it against her chest) I want to meet my donor.

    CURED: You know that isn’t possible.

    SEEKER: Doesn’t City Hall keep records?

    CURED: I don’t even know who your donor is. It could be anyone. (Beat) If you’re not going to give me the diary, at least stop writing in it. Maybe tear out that last entry. I want to keep you safe.

    SEEKER: I’m sorry. (She gets up from the bed and crosses to the door. The CURED stands.)

    CURED: Where are you going?

    SEEKER: Out.

    (Lights fade as the SEEKER exits, leaving the CURED alone.)

    To Be Continued…

    TOUCH: A Play in Two Acts

    Thanks for reading my work!

    Come back tomorrow for another installment of Touch, which I’m updating every weekday, and make sure you’re following along with the blog and on Twitter so you don’t miss an update!

    If you enjoy my writing, consider reading my novel Blood and Water–you can read more about it here.

    -Briana Morgan

  • BLOOD AND WATER Draft 1, Chapter 14 (Excerpt)

    cup-of-ice-water
    Maia was the one who came in to wake him. He was surprised to find he’d been sleeping in Fleur’s bed. How had he gotten from the bath to the bed? He didn’t remember anything beyond Fleur pouring freezing water on him.

    “Dr. Devereaux wants to increase the dosage,” Maia said as she opened the blinds. Sunlight poured in. Was it the same day as it had been or already the next? “She thinks your body is more responsive, which means I could see side effects soon if we don’t make a change.”

    “You mean, you’ll get sick again like I did,” he said.

    “We’re both still sick.”

    “I know. But you know what I mean.”

    Maia chewed the inside of her cheek, the way she did whenever she had something on her mind. It had always been Jay’s way of knowing when something was wrong, and he had learned to pay attention to it.

    He sat up against the pillows. “What’s going on?”

    “I’m not sure I want to tell you.”

    “Maia, that’s not fair. Now you have to tell me.”

    A muscle jerked in her jaw. “It’s about Sean.”

    “Okay, what about Sean?”

    “He doesn’t want Melanie around you anymore.”

    Jay felt his stomach drop into his feet. He slumped against the pillows and let his head loll back. So that was it, then—Melanie had finally explained to Sean what was going on. The timing was terrible, but then again, he knew it had to happen sometime. They couldn’t have kept it a secret forever.

    “I’m sorry,” Maia said. “I know this must be hard.”

    It was so much more than that, but what had he expected? It wasn’t as though they could run off in the middle of the night and elope. There were still people alive who would ask questions and worry if they disappeared.

    “I’ll be okay,” Jay said.

    To be continued… Look for the completed draft of BLOOD AND WATER coming soon!

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    “‘I’m sorry,’ Maia said. ‘I know this must be hard.'” Read an excerpt from @brianawrites’ novel BLOOD AND WATER. (Click to tweet)

  • BLOOD AND WATER Draft 1, Chapter 10 (Excerpt)

    calais-france
    When Jay woke up, he had no idea what was going on. Everything looked foreign. There was something damp and heavy on his forehead. He reached up and discovered a washcloth. With a single touch, everything came flooding back to him: the Chunnel, Calais, Dr. Devereaux, and treatment. He’d consented to treatment without really knowing what it entailed. Was that wise? Probably not. Did it matter? Not at all.

    He couldn’t wait around for death, whether it was his or Maia’s. They needed to find a solution.

    When he tried to sit up, someone pressed a hand against his chest. He looked up to see Dr. Devereaux standing over him, frowning in the waning light. How much time had passed? How long had he been asleep? Was it sunset already?

    “Where’s Maia?” he asked.

    “She’s across the hall,” she said. “We’ve all been waiting for you to wake up.”

    Jay took the washcloth off his head and set it on the floor. Dr. Devereaux made no move to pick it up. After looking around, he noticed that they were the only people there.

    “Where are my friends?”

    “Across the hall,” she repeated, “in the laboratory. If you feel up to it, we’ll go there now.”

    A laboratory. That meant chemicals, instruments, science – potentially even a cure. He swung his legs over the side of the couch, planting his feet on the floor. Dr. Devereaux hovered over him. When he started to stand, she grabbed his arm. The contact surprised him. Her hand was cold.

    “Careful,” she said. “You’re weak. We’ll go slowly.”

    He didn’t feel weak, but he was still groggy. When was the last time he’d had a full night’s sleep? He couldn’t remember. He needed to rest. Maybe if he got a few more hours’ sleep, he’d feel better.

    “It’s okay.” He lowered himself down onto the couch. “I think I’ll just sleep for a little bit longer.”

    Dr. Devereaux didn’t let go of his arm. “Jay, you’ve slept enough. We need to get you some food and water and check your vitals. You’re malnourished, dehydrated, and very, very ill. Do you understand?”

    It took too much effort to answer her. Jay put his feet up and stretched out on the couch. He turned over on his side.

    “Jay,” she said, “se il vous plait. Please.”

    He let his eyes fall closed. “I’ll get up in a minute.”

    Why did everyone want him to use so much energy? Didn’t they know how sick he was? He needed his rest. He felt like he’d walked halfway around the world. He’d had a seizure, for God’s sake. Why couldn’t everyone just leave him alone and let him sleep for a while?

    A white-hot pain exploded against his cheek. His eyes snapped open. Dr. Devereaux stood with her hand out, massaging her palm. His fingers probed his skin. It burned.

    “You slapped me,” he said.

    What do you think will happen next? I’d love to hear your thoughts and predictions below!

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    “He couldn’t wait around for death, whether it was his or Maia’s. They needed to find a solution.” (Click to tweet)

  • BLOOD AND WATER Characters

    Medical instruments
    When this blog post goes live, I’ll be close to halfway finished with my novel BLOOD AND WATER. Right now, I’m expecting the novel to be around 50K, which is a respectable length. Lately, I’ve been doing  lot of thinking about who would play my characters in a film version of the novel (ambitious, I know). Since a few of you know some things about the book, I thought it would be fun to share my choices for everyone. Keep reading to learn how I envision these beautiful, doomed teens inside my head.

    Jay Harris (Michael B. Jordan)

    Michael B Jordan

    I stumbled upon this one by accident. My friend Whitney was visiting me, sitting beside me, and scrolling through Tumblr. I happened to look over right as she landed on a picture of Michael B. Jordan. It was love at first scroll. Granted, at 28, he’s a little old for Jay, but Hollywood is always casting grown men as adolescents. Besides, I like the way he looks.

    If you think this actor looks familiar, you might’ve seen him in Fruitvale Station, Parenthood, or Friday Night Lights.

    Maia Harris (Gabrielle Union)

    Gabrielle Union

    It was difficult for me to find a black actress between the ages of 20 and 30. I settled on the beautiful Gabrielle Union, even though she’s definitely out of my target range (I hope I look as good as she does at her age). SHE LOOKS AMAZING.

    Anyway, Gabrielle Union has taken on all kinds of acting projects, including Being Mary Jane, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Bring It On.

    Melanie McCartney (Sarah Bolger)

    Sarah Bolger

    For Melanie, I wanted an actress who was actually Irish. The lovely Sarah Bolger is perfect for the part. I haven’t seen her in much, but she is absolutely gorgeous. I can’t get over her eyes. I get the feeling she’d do a great job of embodying Melanie’s sweetness and sass.

    You can watch Sarah Bolger in The Tudors and Once Upon a Time.

    Sean Wu (Darren Criss)

    Darren Criss

    I’ve been a fan of Darren Criss since A Very Potter Musical (Look it up on YouTube). I’ve never stopped loving him, even when he joined Glee. How’s that for dedication? Criss is my first choice to play Sean, mostly because he’s Eurasian – there’s even some Chinese and Northern Irish in there.

    Like I mentioned before, you can watch Criss in A Very Potter Musical, Glee, and Girl Most Likely.

    Fleur Devereaux (Nathalie Emmanuel)

    Nathalie Emmanuel

    From the moment I first laid eyes on Nathalie Emmanuel, I knew she was perfect for Dr. Devereaux. Beautiful, smart, and capable of holding her ownI have no doubt that Emmanuel would do the French doctor justice. I don’t want to say much more about the character, since a lot of you don’t know her yet. All you need to know is that Emmanuel is flawless. AND LOOK AT HER HAIR.

    Nathalie Emmanuel has landed roles in Game of Thrones, Hollyoaks, and Furious Seven.

    If you’ve read part of BLOOD AND WATER, what do you think about these choices? Who else could you picture acting these roles? Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter so you can stay updated on my writing progress!

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    How do you envision the characters in your novels? @brianawrites shares her ideas for her novel BLOOD AND WATER. (Click to tweet)