Writing Tips: From FVP Featured Author, Casondra Brewster

Take this year’s SnoValley Writes! writing class in the comfort of your home or local cafe’ courtesy of FVP Featured Author, Casondra Brewster.

casondra-brewster-author-photoThis year I’m teaching a class called Level Up Your Writing through the writing organization I founded back in 2008, SnoValley Writes! in conjunction with King County Library System (Washington). These free classes take the adult student writers through much of the technical stuff any MFA candidate has to do — the whole deconstruction process as it applies to key components of writing and all the included literary devices any word crafter has in their collective tool box. In addition to understanding all those things, the students have to practice it in their own work.

When FreeValley Publishing asked me to contribute to their blog here, it seemed natural to provide another place where other writers could access the Level Up Your Writing learning track. So even if you don’t live in the Cascade Foothills where SnoValley Writes! is, you can take these lessons and do your own craft mastery workshops.

Level Up Your Writing – Lesson 1

The class starts with picking out a book by an author you admire and a story you love. Anyone who has gone through the MFA process may say this is cruel, but we’re taking a lighter approach than one may experience in a typical creative writing masters course. It’s certainly cheaper this way.

Of course you get out of it what you put into it. So start with re-reading your beloved classic and reading it as if you’re not only a writer but an editor.

Having a book that you own, and can reference as a text, is important to learning to read as a writer. As you read you can ask yourself questions like: How might you have written a scene differently? How might you have changed things up? Where is the writing strong? Where is it weak?

Next, examine the outside of the book. Do a writing exercise on why you picked up the book — introspection is the key to learning the whys of what you do and what that means about your person, in this case your writing life person. Answer these questions:

  •   What enticed you to pick up the book specifically?
  •   If the book was recommended, what appealed to you about the cover?
  •   What part of the book’s jacket copy appealed to you? Are there specific words that pull you in? What devices does the author employ to pull you in via the jacket?
  •   Before reading the book, what part of the story piqued your interest the most within what’s included in the text of the book jacket?

Next think about your own writing. If you have a particular body of work, say a novel, or a collection of poems, or even writings on one non-fiction subject, how would you do the same?

More next time in, Lesson 2: Continuing the DeConstruction Process – Reading like a Writer

Casondra Brewster – All Rights Reserved

Launch Party – Casondra Brewster’s Wilderness Rim

Under the light of a full moon, FVP Featured Author, Casondra Brewster‘s new YA novel, Wilderness Rim – Book 1 of the Echo Falls series was celebrated in true NW style. Cheers!

Get Your Sasquatch On!

Come and Meet Our New FVP Featured Author, Casondra Brewster, and Celebrate her New Release YA Fantasy, WILDERNESS RIM – Echo Falls! This Saturday at The Black Dog Arts Cafe’ at 8062 Railroad Ave SE, Snoqualmie, WA. This will be a fun event with treats and music…FREE to attend. Sasquatch/NW themed attire encouraged. Come on down!


Abaak Lajjad

The form sat partially obscured by the mismatched building edges on the store fronts of South Fork’s downtown area. He was caught between the bakery and the theatre. He was a relatively new fixture in this town of just a little more than five thousand. His hands, folded on his bent knees were red from the elements, flaked with weariness. On his feet were dingy sneakers and were the only thing that said he was of this world. The rest of him was covered with a burlap-looking, dark brown body-length robe, including a hood that only let his chest-length, gray but streaked with street crud beard show. Many passersby had visions of a medieval friar when they saw this homeless soul.

Demeter's Corpusules - by Jackie Fedyk

Demeter’s Corpusules – by Jackie Fedyk

He rarely looked up at those who were trying their best to ignore this creature crouched on the street. However, when he did, you could have sworn his eyes were rust. Not brown. Not red, but the same kind of rust on your uncle’s 1976 Caprice Classic left out and abandoned in too many Detroit winters.

When the streets were empty except for leaves being blown by the gusts into a devil’s whirlwind, he would slowly rise. He would walk around the back of the shops and see what sustenance he could find in the dumpsters and trash cans, his hands not ever losing their red tinge. The things he picked from the trash were not always easily identifiable as food. If you watched closely you might see him gnawing on bones and discarding the seemingly more satisfying flesh. At moments he moved so quickly, you’d have thought you’d mysteriously missed whole moments of time. He would lick on broken bar glasses and suck on pieces fractured plates. If an alley cat or rebel raccoon competed for treasures in the rubbish, the cloaked vagabond would hiss with a level of hatred only hell beasts are capable of producing. For that brave living thing which resisted the hissing and secondary swatting from the cloaked figure, would surely incur a fatal swipe from his one long gray thumb nail on the cloaked figure’s main hand. If you were the spider above the doorway where this creature’s shadow crouched out of the inevitable Pacific Northwest rain, you would know that the blood of those rebellious vermin was his wine.

On this particular night, a young buck police officer saw the hooded figure behind the bakery. The rain poured, muting out the sound of the unlucky rat that tried to bite the unfortunate man the cop observed on the street. The officer watched, but his thoughts kept telling him to leave well enough alone. It was more work to incarcerate this man than to leave him be.

Although another thought battled inside his mind, saying that what he saw was not quite right. He could not really see clear to a reason that he should act. As he drove away, however, he could have sworn that those eyes below the hood were not merely rust, but radiating.

A simple whisper, “Abaak Lajjad,” would be the only thing that the spider in the doorway’s corner would hear before it also was captured and swallowed into the wide mouth full of too-long teeth shadowed beneath the brown cloak.

Casondra Brewster is a writer, editor, literary teacher and mentor, as well as the founder of SnoValley Writes! She hopes one day to make the valley more famous than Forks, Wash.

Excerpt from SECOND THOUGHT. Published with Permission. Find out more about Casondra Brewster. This excerpt and other writings available in literary journal FALL INTO STORY.