Monday, May 30, 2016

CNF, Part 1

Happy Memorial Day, everyone! To those of you who have loved ones who've given their lives in the service, I thank you for their sacrifice. They will not be forgotten. Not by you, not by me. Thank you.

And to those of you who came here looking for a post about writing, I will not disappoint.

Today starts a new month-long series, A Study in Genre. Every week I'll be talking about a different genre, what it is, how it works, how to use it, and what to avoid with it. It'll be a lesson for everyone involved, because as you'll see, every writer still has much to learn about writing. Even the pros would tell you that.

This week?

Creative Nonfiction

I took some CNF classes in college, and the first thing I noticed in these classes is that almost no one actually knew what creative nonfiction really is. All the students looked around like they had no idea why they were in this class or what they were really here to learn, and even the teacher seemed a bit baffled on how to teach it.

That's because to most of us, creative nonfiction sounds like an oxymoron.

See, we're taught that nonfiction has to be dry and boring, that there's no flair to it, no style or real story. But that's not true at all, and that's where creative nonfiction comes in.

Nonfiction, in general, just means something that isn't made up. It's real, it's things that actually happen, or even textbooks to teach about specific topics. Those books we've all read in school, in whatever class, are nonfiction. Most of the stuff we read all the way through college (even novels) is also nonfiction, because for some reason teachers think it's the best genre to learn from.

As you well know, I beg to differ.

Creative nonfiction, essentially, bridges the gap between fiction and nonfiction. In CNF, we're allowed to embellish a little bit here and there. That means we can include things like dialogue, notions into the thoughts of every character's mind, and studies that go deeper than the average nonfiction novel can do.

Really, CNF is a license to lie. People who read CNF know that not everything in these stories is true, that there are things the writer has embellished upon to prove a point — and that's exactly what we should do with it (but I'll get more into that later).

For those of you who were confused, I hope this clears things up a little. CNF is a really fun genre to work with, which we'll see through the rest of this week. It's a genre that's not just about telling the story of a real person, but about telling a story, in the same way that fiction would do.

Check back in on Wednesday to read my favorite things to do with CNF, preferred POVs, and more!

[love & happy memorial day]

{Rani Divine}

Friday, May 27, 2016


After the last two weeks’ posts about Mavguard, what sorts of things we want to publish and what we are as a business, I was asked a few questions about what you all could submit for the next edition.

The short answer is as follows:

Short stories
Visual Art

The long answer, however, takes a bit more time. Let’s do a breakdown.

1. Short stories

Our editors’ favorite pieces have been works with deep emotional meaning. We’ve most enjoyed things that explore new reality, that… well, that has fun. We like to see that writers are enjoying their work, that they’ve been working on their craft and that they’ve tried new things with their work. For me personally, I enjoy coming across submissions where I can really see the writer through the writing. Check out Emilina in Edition II to get a better idea of what I mean here.

2. Poetry

Honestly, we need more poetry. We’ve had difficulties getting very many poets to submit their work. What I really want to see is an array of different pieces, both lighthearted pentameters and deep, meaningful free verse—and everything in between. I like to see that the poet meant something by their work, that you are trying to convey something with your words. I don’t just want to read a poem that you threw together at the last minute, because you wanted something to submit. Although, some of those turn out pretty well too, I’ll admit. Check out In Bloom and Seemingly in Edition III to get a better idea here.

3. Visual art

Send us everything you have! People lately have reviewed Mavguard by saying that we mostly like to publish photography, nature shots, and things of that sort. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We’ve been pushing for more paintings, more graphic design, calligraphy, sketches, sculpture, every single form of visual art. But we can’t help it if only the photographers are willing to send in their work. After all, they make beautiful art as well. Check out some of my paintings in Edition III, as well as the various photography by Julie Haider in all three editions, to see how differing we can be in these regards.

In the end, it always boils down to the fact that we want to see what you have to offer. Whatever it is, whatever work you like best, send it in. Please. I really do want to see it, and hopefully publish it.

Oh yeah, and we’ve published 95% of people who’ve submitted for any given edition. So there’s that.

See you on the other side.

Submissions window closes June 30


{Rani Divine}

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


By now we’ve talked about three different words that I’ve either cut out or limited in my vocabulary. These are words that carry meaning, words that have weight to them, weight many people choose to ignore. The last of them is no different.


In the Bible, God says to cast all our cares upon Him. And that’s the basis of my decision to cut this word out of my speech. This is actually the word that I’m most working on right now, the one I’m working hard to completely cut out. It’s a word that I would rather not say, but it’s one that gets said by many people, much of the time.

Thing is, if God wants us to cast our cares on Him, then we shouldn’t care about anything down here. That starts, for me, by cutting it from my vocabulary.

It means I try not to say things like “I’ll take care of it,” or “I care for you,” or even "be careful," and change the word for something more appropriate. I now say “I can do that,” “I love you,” or "be cautious," rather than the former sentences.

Maybe that seems a bit much for some of you, and so I’ll repeat something I’ve told you earlier in this series:

Words carry power. 

They carry far more weight than we tend to attribute to them. You have what you say you have, and you don’t have what you say you don’t have. Speaking can give either life or death to anything. With our words we can either build up the people and things around us, or we can break them down.

Remember Proverbs 18:21?

“The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.”(NLT)

How about Deuteronomy 30:19?

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!" (NLT)

We have the choice to either build up or destroy with our words.

Choose wisely. He already told us which one to pick. 

For me, wisdom said to cut care out of my vocabulary. Maybe that's not what wisdom says to you, but I know words better than a lot of people. I'm a writer by trade, so you can't deny that. And I know how much power they really have, and how they influence people and things. I've seen it, I've lived it, and for me, this is the right thing to do. 


{Rani Divine}

Monday, May 23, 2016

On... what?

It’s the last week of our series, which means we only have two posts left! (Friday is again reserved for more info about Mavguard, since that’s been so popular as of late). And since it’s the last week, I want to focus on a phrase that I honestly do not understand. I’ve looked up its beginnings, its meanings, and I still don’t get it. Most of my friends laugh at the term, but I’ve heard it enough in popular culture that I thought it was worth bringing up.

On Fleek

What. The. Heck.

So I heard this one for the first time at some point late last year, and I’m pretty sure I was struck completely dumbfounded by it. It’s not even a word! What is fleek supposed to mean, anyway?

From what I’ve gathered, it’s a positive word. When something is on fleek, it’s on point, it’s good, it’s exactly as it was intended to be. And from my research, it all started with a video of a girl saying that her eyebrows were on fleek today.

I wonder if she knew how much she would affect the English language.

Here’s the thing:

It’s very obviously not an educated phrase. Personally, I prefer to keep my words on the educated side of English. I’m a learned person, I have a degree in English, and I know a lot of words. I write many of them, in any given day. That being the case, I prefer not to sound like I’m making words up as I go.

On fleek sounds like someone made it up. Probably because someone did.

My question to you, is how many of you actually use this phrase, and how many of you pay attention to what it means? Does it bother you that it doesn’t really have a meaning, that it’s a phrase coined by some random person on some random video, someone who thought their eyebrows looked great that day?

It bothers me. But I’m a wordsmith. This is what I do for a living, it’s the thing I feel the most connected to. I know words, and I know fleek isn’t one of them.

No apologies required. *wink*


{Rani D.}