Writerly Wednesday – Stop and think before you write

I have always been a fly by the seat of my pants writer. I often dream the story, map the scene, faster than my fingers can type it. This leads to typos and unemotional scene work (in my own opinion). I recognized this weakness in myself before anyone could point it out to me, but I didn’t know what to do about it. I always told myself that it was fine – I was writing. All of my professors just wanted me to keep writing. I didn’t know how to stop and no one seemed incredibly worried about the fact that I wasn’t stopping – until this past Spring when I was forced, for the first time in my writing career to stop and think before I wrote. You see, I use to write novels the way some people talk – before even thinking. Sometimes I would realize what was happening in a scene just as I was writing it. As a writer, I felt like I had very little control. Sometimes I still feel this way… but I realized fairly quickly that this was a problem.

You see, I use to write novels the way some people talk – before even thinking. Sometimes I would realize what was happening in a scene just as I was writing it. As a writer, I felt like I had very little control. Sometimes I still feel this way… but I realized fairly quickly that this was a problem. You see, unplanned writing is often ineffective writing–or at least it is not nearly as effective as if could be. I use to set a scene to accomplish one thing and end up accomplishing something else. I always thought that this was good, it meant that I knew my characters well enough that I could let them run the story–WRONG. For me, because I can only speak for myself, this means that I’ve lost control of the story. Pause. Think. Breathe. Then Write.

Pause. Think. Breathe. Then Write.

Think. Breathe. Then Write.

Breathe. Then Write.

Then Write.

I’m the writer, I should know best. Giving my character’s control in the story can be nice, but it should never be the only way the story is written. At some point, the writer must take the pen, or keyboard, into their own hands and control where the story goes.

My last semester of college was stressful, but it was exactly what I wanted it to be. The English professors at Gardner-Webb may never truly understand what they did for me when they allowed me to study genre and write a novel for my thesis. Four years of writing on my own led up to that moment of writer realization.

I hadn’t been doing it wrong the entire time, but I could most certainly be doing it better.

To keep things very simple, for my thesis project I studied the Victorian period and wrote a novel that reflected a lot of the things I’d learned. It was while working on this project that I began to realize what I’d been doing wrong and how I could correct it through research. I could be a better writer, make my scenes stronger and my characters more realistic, by preparing for scenes.

Typically I write fantasy so I assumed that research didn’t really make a lot of sense. It should be my ideas, why taint them with the vastness of the internet? Of, but I was missing the point!

When you are planning to go camping what do you do? You pack. You make a list. You bring a tent, blankets, food, water– the basics. If you don’t consider what the weather will be, the type of terrain, the amount of people going, or the location, you will forget things and end up in a mess. You might dress for summer and end up with snow. You may need bug spray. You may experience the horror of having forgotten to bring toilet paper. There are so many moving parts in planning a trip — writing is literally the exact same.

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Scenes need to be planned and packed for; otherwise, you may end up killing a character who is more beneficial alive. You might miss a really incredible plot point because you didn’t bring a map. I know, believe me, I’ve done both of those things. My writing became so much stronger when I started consistently living with a writer’s notebook and when I started planning before I wrote. Do I still listen to every bullet point or follow everything on an outline? No. Sometimes my character’s say that the story should be one way and I let them because otherwise I will get bored and quit. Follow your heart…but maybe also your plan? 🙂

I typically use a writer’s notebook as a guide. I’ll be writing about my own planning process next Wednesday.  Tell me about your writing process. Do you wing it or do you plan it?  How much control do your characters have?

 

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0cf4b5_f96085ede92143278d8874b405bce387~mv2Hello! My name is Brianna Joy Crump and I am a twenty-two-year-old writer from Raleigh. North Carolina. I am a recent graduate from Gardner-Webb University where I received my BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. While in college, I wrote nine and a half novels, as well as multiple short stories and a handful of poems. I am currently rewriting one of my novels and hoping to pursue agents and publishing come the fall. For more information, feel free to contact me on social media or check out my website.

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Story Time Saturday – Adel

I will go ahead and say that this blog post is more for me than it is for readers.

I don’t remember much about my freshman year of college. It often comes to me in the smallest of ways, no more than a snippet of a memory–an inside joke or a sweet note. I kept a blog on Tumblr of my entire college career. I was a lot more dedicated about updating it the first three years and a little lazier about it towards the end, but I have them nonetheless. They are mine and I am very thankful for the gift of social media. I may not remember it myself, but I can scroll through my Tumblr and see the moments that shaped my experience at Gardner-Webb. I can see when I became friends with people and, sadly, when I stopped being friends with people. But that is a post for another day…

Today I want to talk about one particular memory, taken from my own mind and not the blog. I can quite vividly remember the moment I met Adel.

At Gardner-Webb University they have this torturous program called University 111. It is a requirement for all freshman.  Perhaps it wouldn’t have been quite as terrible if I wasn’t such an anxious introvert. Anyway, it’s more or less a class where you learn how to be a college student. They teach you so much, and also absolutely nothing. They don’t warn you about how much you’ll grow to hate CAF food. They don’t tell you how hard it is to make it to that 8 am and not just stay in bed. They don’t tell you that you’ll definitely spend more time watching Netflix than you will studying for any of your classes. They don’t tell you that most of the people you meet freshman year probably won’t stay your friends. And they make certain to leave out any and all information regarding what to do when you eventually fall in love with college life and have to leave. What University 111 does is put you in a room with ten to fifteen complete strangers and make you pretend to get along and like each other until you actually do. Now, I will go ahead and say that I did not stay friends with anyone that was in my University 111 class, in fact, I can’t remember any of their names. But, it I met one of my best friends through one of the group building events that University 111 forces you to do.

Adel. 

I remember sitting cross-legged on the floor of Marissa’s dorm room watching her paint. Marissa would become my roommate the following year, but at this point, we were just new friends. She is incredibly artistic and was busy preparing for her University groups activity at October Fest (an indoor Halloween festival that Gardner-Webb hosts every year). They had to run a booth and give out candy to the hundreds of kids that would be coming for the festival. Their theme had to do with princesses and they were giving out paper crowns.

There was a knock at the door and in came a girl who I’d never seen before. I don’t remember if she introduced herself or not, all I remember is that she had the thickest accent I’d ever heard in my life. Hungarian–although I didn’t know this at the time.

Adel looked down at Marissa and I and said, “Ayeneegum.”

It was clearly meant to be English but she’d said it with such force that it was almost frightening. Her thick accent made the words blend together until it sounded like one long sound. Naturally, we were confused, Marissa, less so than myself since she seemed to know this girl and I most certainly did not.

She was asked to repeat herself and again she forcefully said, “Ayeneegum.” When this was met with blank stares, she spoke again, “Ayeneegum.” This time she snapped her teeth together for added effect. Marissa and I exchanged an uncomfortable look.

One of us asked, “You mean gum? Like chewing gum?”

Adel rolled her eyes as if we were complete idiots and said, “No, gum.”

“It’s like a candy…”

“No.” Adel grabbed the waistband of her athletic shorts, pulled the fabric taut before letting it snap back against her hip. “Gum.”

I remember putting the dots together and grinning. “Oh! You mean elastic?”

 

Turns out, that is exactly what she meant.

And that is the story of how I met Adel.

 

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Adel getting sharpie tattooed by Marissa our freshman year.

 

I could go on and on about her and how funny, and sweet, our friendship is. Of the people I met freshman year, Marissa and Adel are the only two friends who have remained with me. They are, perhaps, some of the friends I hold most dear to my heart because I have known they the longest. They have known me since I was still learning who me was. It’s crazy how much has changed since that day in Marissa’s room. I don’t know how the heart decides to love someone or why it does, but I most certainly love my friends.

edit 4.jpgOn Tuesday morning Adel will fly back to Hungary and I may never see her again. I don’t want to think about it, but I don’t know how I can avoid it. It is happening whether I want it to or not. For four years I have had a clock on my phone set to Budapest time so I know when I can message her. For four years I have read every text message she sends me in her accent. I have been her teacher, her editor, and her mom. She calls me “mum” and has for as long as I have known her.

 

And she is getting on a plane and leaving. I know that my heart is going to break in a whole new way on Tuesday. Adel has always wanted to know why I haven’t included her in any of my books. I have a tendency to write people in, or their idiosyncrasies, unintentionally. She wants to be in a book and I want to write her in, but I know that I cannot do her justice. I can’t explain who she is on a page–I’m trying right now and failing, I can already tell. I don’t know how to express the kind of person that she is. I can’t perfectly capture her accent or her odd way of speaking. I can’t describe to you just how easy it has become to understand her. The way she talks is natural, normal and I love it. I love her. She is one of my best friends in the entire world. And I always want to tell her that I can’t write her in because no one will believe me. An agent or beta reader would accuse me of being stereotypical or misrepresenting a group of people. But Adel is just that unbelievable. She is not ever Hungarian. She is absolutely insane.

She is often more naked than she is clothed. 

She eats mayonnaise on her pizza.

She always swaps out her middle finger for her pointer finger whenever I do something she doesn’t like. 

She’s never eaten at a Tacobell. 

Her American alter ego is named “Elizabeth Happy” and she calls herself that whenever she wears makeup. 

She can’t say the Hungarian alphabet because it is too long. 

At Christmas, we play Santa Claus and leave candy in her shoes. 

Her laugh is always forced, then turns real. 

American curse words never really sound as harsh when she says them. 

She taught me how to say “hide and go seek” in Hungarian and I would tell you what it is but I actually have no idea how to spell it. 

She loves the One Direction song, “Steal My Girl” because she usually can’t remember the words to American songs and instead sings, “Na Na Na” to the tune. It actually works for this song. 

She once rode around campus hanging out of the passenger side window of Katie Pie’s car. 

She cries whenever she hears the song “I Lived” by OneRepublic. 

She is currently road tripping across American and by the time she leaves on Tuesday she will have seen more of my country than I have. 

Our group of friends often joke about how she is a mythical creature. She isn’t real. She doesn’t exist. But she does–and I am so incredibly blessed to have known her.

 

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One of our senior pictures. From left to right: Shay, Me, Marissa, Adel, Lili, Sydney, Kayleigh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, I don’t think she ever did find the elastic she was looking for. 🙂

 

 

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0cf4b5_f96085ede92143278d8874b405bce387~mv2Hello! My name is Brianna Joy Crump and I am a twenty-two-year-old writer from Raleigh. North Carolina. I am a recent graduate from Gardner-Webb University where I received my BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. While in college, I wrote nine and a half novels, as well as multiple short stories and a handful of poems. I am currently rewriting one of my novels and hoping to pursue agents and publishing come the fall. For more information, feel free to contact me on social media or check out my website.

 

 

Writerly Wednesday – Writer’s Laziness

Writer’s Block: a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece.

– Webster

I’m probably going to jinx myself by saying this, but…I’ve never had writer’s block. I’ve never really struggled to decide what to do next with a plot. Usually, I have a general idea of where I’m going and I’ll either follow my outline (if I have one) or I’ll pants my way through it and hope for the best. I’ve just never had a moment where I had to pause for a long period of time and decide what to do, pausing so long that I physically could not write. Now, this is not to say I don’t struggle, because I am an annual pass holder for the writing struggle bus, but I don’t really find problems in the writer’s block area. .

I do, however, have issues with what I like to call Writer’s Laziness. I’m a college student and I get really tired really often. I got to class, to work, back to class, back to work and by the time I get back to my room it is often really late at night and I have other things to work on. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I will work through this by writing my novel during any and all breaks, even in the back of some of my less-interesting classes. But sometimes I can’t even manage that. I don’t have the energy to be creative. I’m exhausted. I want to Netflix or nap during my breaks, not write. And this is totally laziness on my part. I know it is. I dread writing, even when I am at an exciting part of my novel- I just don’t care. I’m too drained.

I’ve experienced this (am currently experiencing this) with the creative piece I am writing for my senior thesis. My academic project is on Neo-Victorian and Steampunk literatures. I am doing a genre study and comparing the two types to decide if they are overall compatible with one another- I believe they are. And now I am using the last four years worth of writing knowledge to create a piece that represents my beliefs. I’m writing a novel. This novel has been a ton of work. Fun. But work. I’ve never written anything even slightly historical and for this novel, I am settled snuggly in 1882. Working on this and working on a twenty-page academic paper has been draining. I was writing the creative piece a few thousand words at a time and then I just got overwhelmed with the academic part of the paper and had to switch my attention over to it. I wrote sixteen pages of the academic piece in one day and sent it off to my thesis mentor to be read.

Then I told myself I deserved a break.

This was something I shouldn’t have done and now I know it. You see, once I get a taste of what not writing is like (the tv shows, the naps, the video games, the books…) I find it really difficult to go back. I’ve found myself sucked into the void of regular college life and I am loathed to return to my former writerly duties. I don’t want you to think I don’t love writing because I totally do. I am my happiest when I am knee deep in unfinished novel…but I am so tired. And everyone keeps telling me to take a break, breathe, forget about it for a little while- but I can’t. That only makes it worse.

I have writer’s laziness. 

At this point, I think the block might be easier to deal with.

I need to push through this.

But I can’t be alone right? There are others out there. Other people have to suffer from Writer’s Laziness too. Whose with me?!

So here, let me share some of my coping mechanisms for writer’s laziness:

  • Lock yourself in a room and write.
  • Reward yourself for writing. I usually buy myself a bag om peanut M&Ms and I let myself have one M&M per page I write. Or you could use bathroom breaks as an incentive. Don’t act like you’ve never done that! Every writer knows what it’s like to be mid thought and need to pee. Keep trekking on and when you’ve hit your goal go to the bathroom.
  • Challenge yourself. Give yourself a word goal or a page number you have to reach and push until you do. I’d suggest making this a daily thing, versus an overall project number. So something like “1,000 words today” or “5 pages today.” I love a good challenge.
  • Take dance breaks. You heard me. Dance it out. Every five pages get your groove on. I don’t really do this myself, but I have friends in college who do. Get the wiggles out, bounce around. Sometimes you can run yourself dry by just sitting at your desk for too long. Which brings me to my next point…
  • Go somewhere new to write. This doesn’t work for everyone, but if it works for you then it is a really great way to revitalize yourself and your writing. For me, writing in a new space is hit or miss. I either write 10,000 words or I may tap out a lousy sentence. But it can be good for the writerly soul. Go to a coffee shop, sip a latte and try to view your writing in a new light.
  • Give yourself a deadline. This goes hand in hand with the challenge one, but I sort of see them differently. For me, a challenge is a personal thing. It’s just a goal. A deadline means that you have to do it. It’s solid. Something terrible will happen if you don’t. Insert your own terrible deadline missing punishment here_________. Anyway, I usually use deadlines with beta readers. I’ll tell myself that I have to have however many chapters done and in dropbox for my dad to read by midnight this upcoming Saturday. This doesn’t always work, but I tell myself that it has to be done. If you haven’t figured it out already, I thrive under pressure.
  • NaNoWriMo – So this isn’t always running, but when it is you should be doing it. I love NaNo and have written the first draft of at least have of my novels through their camps and other events. For those of you unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is in November. In that month you are given the challenge, if you chose to accept it, to write 50,000 words in a month. Now, this isn’t a full novel but it is a great start. And sometimes you need a little nudge to get your crap done. NaNo isn’t just in November, they have what they call Camps that run in April and in July. Overall, it’s a really fun challenge and you can get some pretty nice goodies it you win. Try it.

 

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LOOK IT’S MY CAT.

 

Anyway, those are my tips and tricks for beating Writer’s Laziness. They may also work with Writer’s Block, but I wouldn’t know. I’m just lazy. But the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. I suppose I’ll give my own advice a try and see if I can kick butt on this novel for thesis. Wish me luck.

 

What are your tips for killing Writer’s Block/Writer’s Laziness? 

 

 

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0cf4b5_f96085ede92143278d8874b405bce387~mv2Hello! My name is Brianna Joy Crump and I am a twenty-two-year-old writer from Raleigh. North Carolina. I am a recent graduate from Gardner-Webb University where I received my BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. While in college, I wrote nine and a half novels, as well as multiple short stories and a handful of poems. I am currently rewriting one of my novels and hoping to pursue agents and publishing come the fall. For more information, feel free to contact me on social media or check out my website.

5 Reasons Why You Should Be An English Major – With Star Wars

We love what we do. I don’t know that the history or science majors dislike what they do necessarily, but you never really hear them trying to recruit other undecideds to join their group. In the English department, and I can only speak of mine, we are an inclusive bunch. You don’t know what you want to do with your life? Oh, you should be an English major! You aren’t sure about that business degree? Oh, be an English major! You have a cold? Be an ENGLISH MAJOR! We want everyone to get to experience the wonderful classes and literature that we have over the last four years.

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We have the best class discussions. Although the topic may be Science-FictionLiterature we are constantly on the lookout for plot ideas and they come to us in waves. We joke about “what if” and spout plot twists without thought. We can turn any conversation into a genre conversation. We have deep feelings about Hamilton and Harry Potter. We are not afraid to color outside the lines, letting our class discussions go where they will in an effort to figure out exactly how we feel about a text.  Every discussion can and probably will reference something from Star Wars.

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We have the best people. My peers, even my teachers, are going places. Sometimes I sit in class and listen to my fellow English majors talk about their projects and I just know I’m in the presence of a future best-selling author. That’s so cool. Looking at your classmates for not just who they are now, but who they will be in ten years. I’m not sure any other major, aside from perhaps theater, really puts you in a situation where you feel that way. As an Engish major, you are constantly on the brink, or perhaps sitting next to, greatness.

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We aren’t competitive. Okay, so again, I can only speak of GWU, but I know our department is this way. We are always in support of each other’s writing career. We want our friends to do well, there is enough space on the world’s bookshelf for all of us. We follow each other on social media, talk easily and freely about our writing projects, get equally uncomfortable when we have to workshop with one another and celebrate each other’s successes. The only thing we compete over is who can make the wittiest comment.

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We are all weird together. We can laugh about dragons and witches and faeries. Plots and ideas are always taken seriously. Harry Potter is everyone’s favorite book series and if it isn’t it soon will be. We all have our own favorite author and we fangirl/boy over them constantly. We get overly excited when we find out that other people have read and love the same series as we do. We all equally love and hate workshop. We watch the same TV shows, play the same video games, critique the same movies and over analyze absolutely everything in between. We all have the same dream, we will just accomplish it in creatively different ways.

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0cf4b5_f96085ede92143278d8874b405bce387~mv2Hello! My name is Brianna Joy Crump and I am a twenty-two-year-old writer from Raleigh. North Carolina. I am a recent graduate from Gardner-Webb University where I received my BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. While in college, I wrote nine and a half novels, as well as multiple short stories and a handful of poems. I am currently rewriting one of my novels and hoping to pursue agents and publishing come the fall. For more information, feel free to contact me on social media or check out my website.

Dear Prospective Student,

I spent eighteen years looking forward to high school graduation. My entire academic career was a timeline leading up until that moment. That diploma. So I had eighteen years to decide what I would do after high school.

Where I would go.

What kind of job I wanted.

College?

Where?

I had 18 years.

And by the time I reached the end of those eighteen years I was really ready to head out. I didn’t cry at my high school graduation. I didn’t care. Didn’t even bat an eye at it because, by the end of those eighteen years, I knew what I wanted. I even knew what college I wanted to attend and everything—In fact, I decided that when I was in the 8th grade. I had enough time. Eighteen years was more than enough time.

So I graduated.

I went to Gardner-Webb University. I’ve spent four years here.

Let me begin this by saying that four years is not enough time.

I’ve spent four years learning and making friends and stressing myself out. And now they expect me to have all of my shit together. Leave and get a job. I’ll be honest with you, I’m not ready to go yet. I just haven’t had enough time. I’m not sure anywhere else can compare to what this place means to me. This crap heap of a place that GWU calls “Decker Girls Dorm” has been my sanctuary for four looooonnnngggg years. It smells and the water is usually either too hot or too cold, there is never a washer open and the dryers are always broken, BUT it’s my crap heap. It’s home. I love it. I even love the fact that there is carpet on the walls. It’s weird, I know, but I’m used to it now. I like the comfort of the “Decker funk”—if my clothes didn’t smell like Decker then what would they smell like? As much as I didn’t want it as a freshman, I want it now. I was just a kid then, I didn’t know any better. I wanted shiny and new. I wanted it to smell fresh and have bright lighting. I was stupid. I don’t want those things. I want cozy and quirky and smelly and dark and haunted and creaky and cold and lived in. I want Decker.

And here’s another thing: I love my friends. I love yelling down the hall to see if someone is home, I love impromptu Cookout runs and being peer pressured to skip classes. Singing in the car is one of my favorite things and I don’t know what I’ll do when I don’t have a car full of friends to do it with anymore. I enjoy having adopted sisters and knowing that they just “GET IT.” I love making funny videos and playing board games. I love snow days and decorating our hallway for the holidays.

This has, without a doubt, been the best four years of my entire life. And I’m supposed to just put everything in a box and leave. They want me to just release this white knuckled love that I have for my school and for the beautiful community that creates it. I had to wade through eighteen years of crap just to stumble into happiness and it only lasts four years. I don’t want it to have an expiration date.

That sucks.

Today is my last first day of classes at GWU.

In 120 days I am going to have to leave this place.

I will leave professors and classes, some of which have altered my entire world. The English Department is absolutely fantastic. You won’t find kinder, sweeter, lovelier people anywhere. I belong with them. They are my team, my kindred spirits, my humans. We can laugh and joke and be weird together because we all have the same fantastic and almost (but not quite) unattainable dream of being teachers and writers. We want to go on to do great things. I want them to go on to do great things—and I know that they will. I know the people in my English classes will go one to do and write things that will change lives.

And perhaps this is all because we are in a place that has changed ours.

Which is why in 120 days I—we—will have to leave. Turns out, for many of us, greatness is located outside of Boiling Springs, North Carolina. I shouldn’t be surprised. After all when I stepped onto this campus four years ago I knew that I’d eventually have to let it all go. But I didn’t love it then like I do now. I didn’t understand how a place could turn into a home. I’ve never experienced that before, not without my biological family playing a role. This was, after all, completely mine. And that cycle doesn’t end when I leave.

There will be a new group of scared freshman; maybe you will be one of them. These freshmen, with their bright faces and lanyards slung securely around their necks, will never know that I was even here. Even though this is my home. Even though I have eaten at those tables, read those books, tripped over that loose paver, gone sledding on that hill, stressed over those finals and eventually walked across that stage—it won’t remain mine. Gardner-Webb University is home and I don’t want to be abandoned by her, but she also belongs to thousands of other people. I guess all I’m saying is: I wish I had the same eighteen years now that I did then. From birth, all the way through elementary school, middle school, and high school, all I wanted was a place to really belong. And I found it here. At Gardner-Webb University.

Dearest Prospective Student, as you visit different schools think about what you want out of the next four years. For you, just graduating high school, four years is a very very veeerrrrrrrrry long time. I’m here to tell you that it isn’t. Don’t breathe! Don’t blink! Careful or you’ll miss it. Before you know it you will have four years worth of academic knowledge and a lifetime worth of memories. Find where your heart belongs and then bury it there. Live in the messiest dorm, make the oddest friends, laugh until you cry and grow to new heights. Wherever home becomes, make it yours—because you only get it to keep it for so long.

Best of Luck,

Brianna Joy Crump

 

P.S. Don’t wear your lanyard around your neck. 😉

 

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0cf4b5_f96085ede92143278d8874b405bce387~mv2Hello! My name is Brianna Joy Crump and I am a twenty-two-year-old writer from Raleigh. North Carolina. I am a recent graduate from Gardner-Webb University where I received my BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. While in college, I wrote nine and a half novels, as well as multiple short stories and a handful of poems. I am currently rewriting one of my novels and hoping to pursue agents and publishing come the fall. For more information, feel free to contact me on social media or check out my website.