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Fictional and Factual Fashion

I apologize for the alliteration. I couldn’t help myself.

I love fashion. If I were to get deep about it, I’d say that clothes and accessories are a way to express myself when words fail. But really, it’s a fun hobby of mine—consuming it, discussing it, reading about it, and even writing about it. In my first book, Front Row, fashion on a budget (and dirty laundry) almost became another character in the story, especially in scenes like this:

The first thing I saw upon entering my room was the concert clothes from the last week strewn across the floor. As I picked up each piece to stuff into my nearly full laundry bag, I thought back to a memory that each item represented for me. On top was the shirt I wore last night—the pink peasant top that made me remember sitting on the loveseat upstairs in that house as I developed some sort of a friendship with Jacob. Next was the skimpy tank top I borrowed from Alex that earned the attention of Gabe in Chicago and awarded me a guitar pick at the end of the show. I tossed that one in a separate pile to wash first so that I could return it to Alex right away. The next item I retrieved from the floor was the black halter top that had aided in successfully getting us an invite to Moe’s Bar after the Milwaukee show, where I got to cozy up next to Gabe while taking my first tequila shot. I couldn’t find the red halter top I had worn to Detroit, but I didn’t need a reminder of that horrible night. Good riddance. As I pushed aside work clothes and hoodies that I wore to class, I found my newest purchase from Walmart. The top that started it all, the little pink silky camisole. I would always be nostalgic when I looked at it and recalled my meet-n-greet…

One thing I especially find enjoyable is shopping with friends, whether it’s in person or via text messages from the fitting room. My friend Barbara and I have been talking about shopping together pretty much since we started working together almost two years ago. What better way to start than gifting her a free dress?

The online women’s fashion clothing company eShakti was kind enough to offer to send me one of their dresses to try out and post about. I’ve loved my experience with eShakti in the past, but the last thing I need is another dress. I don’t wear dresses to work anymore, so the stuffed dress area of my closet and bin in the basement is relegated to weekends. And weekends are only two days long.

Continue reading Fictional and Factual Fashion

Podcasts for Writers, Pop Culture Enthusiasts, and Badass Women

Here’s what I’m listening to right now on my drives to and from work:

Writing Podcasts

Writing Excuses
This weekly podcast is in its 13th season and features a panel of award-winning traditionally published or hybrid authors and specials guests. Each season has a theme, and the episodes are bite-sized but packed with knowledge, usually running 15–20 minutes long. Their tagline is “Fifteen minutes long because, you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart.”

Author Strong
This one is not putting out new episodes anymore, but there’s still tons of content. Mat and Nancy aired an episode every day for about a year and a half, totaling 514 episodes. And I was even featured on a couple of them—Episode 100 and 206/207 (pardon the technical difficulties…).

These are some I added recently, and I haven’t caught up on all the episodes yet:

Self Publishing School
Seems to be more targeted for nonfiction, but I’ve gotten some good tips. They have had a few fiction authors on the show as well, which is nice.

How Do You Write
All about the writing process, as told by successful writers interviewed by Rachael Herron. I got her mixed up with another author known for her ability to write fast, Rachel Aaron, but it was a happy accident.

Book Marketing Show
I’ve already taken a ton of notes listening to this show. The Kindlepreneur website as a whole is a good resource, too.

Writescast
Gotta support the locals! I’ve been at writers conferences with some of these guests, so it’s fun to hear their interviews.

Pop Culture Podcast

This show is an extension of their blog, which comments on red carpet fashion, celebrity street style, and also includes TV and movie reviews. They first became known for their Project Runway recaps, which is how I found them, and then I stuck around because they’re both hilarious and insightful.

Podcast for Women and the Men Who Love or Want to Understand Them

Girl’s Girls
Blogger and NY Times bestselling author Brittany Gibbons and Meredith Soleau do a hilarious weekly show about mom life and woman life in general, often with a political lean to it.


I’m always looking to add more to my subscription list. What are you listening to these days?

Excerpt from My Current Work-in-Progress

This past weekend, I finished the first draft of my yet-untitled retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma (hooray!). In this version, Emma Woodhouse (or Brit Byers) is a socialite and daughter of former rock star and current music club owner Lonnie Byers.

Here’s a sample of one of the first scenes in the book:


Brit was supposed to go on a date today, but all she could think about at the moment was what happened last night.

She had somehow gotten home and somehow gotten in bed. She didn’t know who had gotten her there, but whoever it was, they had also stripped off her jumpsuit.

Oh crap. Had she peed in the jumpsuit? Barbara had warned her that wearing a jumpsuit was a bad idea, but Brit hadn’t listened. A hot up-and-coming designer had sent it to her, and she was determined to wear it. She wasn’t exactly sample sized, but she liked how the jumpsuit hugged her hips.

The jumpsuit, which Brit was pretty sure she was supposed to return to the designer, was balled up in the corner of her bedroom, feet away from the hamper. Who couldn’t even hit the hamper? She sat up gingerly and pressed her fingers into her temples to sooth the throbbing in her head. Her ears were still ringing from the pumping bass the DJ had been spinning.

Who the heck had tried to roofie her, and who had saved her? She hoped she was saved although by her current state of undress, she couldn’t be sure. Hopefully it was Daisy who had undressed her. Or maybe Lander had called Barbara to come get Brit. That would be the ideal situation.

Brit’s ears pricked painfully as something crashed outside of her bedroom. Her body jolted, and she pulled her comforter around her shoulders, shrouding herself completely in down feathers and satin. Please don’t let it be a rapist, please don’t let it be a rapist, she chanted to herself. Her eyes darted around the room, praying that she would spot her phone, but it was nowhere to be found. She couldn’t climb out the window—her apartment was too high off the ground.
Continue reading Excerpt from My Current Work-in-Progress

In Which I Gush about Rainbow Rowell

She had me at Fangirl.

The first time I learned about Rainbow Rowel was from her NaNoWriMo pep talk in 2013. From there, I devoured all of her books she had released (Fangirl, Eleanor & Park, and Attachments, in that order) and waited in anticipation for what was to come (Landline and Carry On).
In October 2015, I was ridiculously excited to see her speak at NerdCon Stories in Minneapolis, where I also got the chance to meet her!

Why yes, the tote bag placement was indeed intentional, why do you ask?

Oh yeah, John Green was there, too.

So what makes this woman such an inspiration to me? Her style of writing is similar to mine, I think, or what I want to aspire to. But let me count the ways:

  • Imperfect love interests. Park is a brooding Asian guy who wears makeup. Levi is a barista with a receding hairline. Lincoln is a Dungeons & Dragons nerd and kind of a stalker. Yet they’re all HOT. 
  • Imperfect leading ladies. These girls and women have flaws. And history. And personality quirks. And muffin tops. And thank goodness for that. What’s not to love? 
  • Vivid descriptions you can feel in your gut. Lines like these are my inspiration on how to free myself from clichés in my own writing. 

Eleanor’s mother was beautiful. She was tall and stately with broad shoulders and an elegant waist. All her bones seemed more purposeful than other people’s. Like they weren’t just there to hold her up. They were there to make a point…You’d look at Eleanor’s mom and think she must be carved into the prow of a viking ship somewhere…Eleanor looked like her mother through a fish tank…At sixteen, Eleanor was already built like she ran a medieval pub. – Eleanor & Park 

  • Darn good, realistic dialogue. Dialogue is easily my favorite thing to write, and it’s also my favorite thing to read. It’s easy to do poorly, but Rainbow almost always gets it right. 
  • Fan culture. The fanfic in Fangirl. The Star Wars premiere in Kindred Spirits. The music in E&P. Love it, can totally 100% relate to it, and frequently write about it myself. 
  • Hometown love. Most of Rainbow’s books are based in Nebraska, and you can tell she loves her home state. Likewise, I’m a cheesehead through and through (although I don’t watch football), and like to represent Wisconsin pride in my books. 
  • She just gets me sometimes. 

It was a pretty good strategy for most social situations: show up, fall back, let somebody else break the ice and take the spotlight. Somebody always would. Extroverts were nothing if not dependable. But even an expert mid-trovert like Elena couldn’t lie low in a crowd of three. – Kindred Spirits

Rainbow Rowell is currently writing for Marvel’s Runaways comic book series.

15 Facts about Me

Welcome to my new site! It’s possible you know me as Rebekah N. Bryan or Bek Castro. Nothing like a re-brand to shake things up, am I right? I wanted to post a little survey to introduce myself to you if we haven’t been acquainted.

  1. What is your favorite family vacation? Orlando, or more specifically the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resorts
  2. What is your proudest accomplishment? Publishing my first book, FRONT ROW. Or winning the school spelling bee in 8th grade.
  3. What is your favorite book to read? Pride and Prejudice
  4. What makes you laugh the most? Impressions or random humor. Least? Physical humor.
  5. What was the last movie you went to? What did you think? Is it bad that I can’t remember? I think it was Murder on the Orient Express. It was aight.
  6. If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be? This is easy. Sip lattes and shop all by myself. 
  7. What is your favorite game or sport to watch and play? Watch? Nothing unless my kids are playing. To play? Volleyball. 
  8. Would you rather ride a bike, ride a horse, or drive a car? Drive a car. I love driving by myself. 
  9. What would you sing at Karaoke night? NOTHING. Singing in front of people terrifies me. 
  10. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be? Chicken divan and blueberry muffins made from a box 
  11. Who is your favorite author? Rainbow Rowell 
  12.  How often do you buy clothes? Too often. I should really delete some of the sales emails I get. 
  13. What’s your favorite holiday? Valentine’s Day because it’s also my birthday 
  14.  What’s your favorite family recipe? Homemade ravioli 
  15.  Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life? Laura Prepon without the black hair