Jenna Lynn Brown

M/M Romance Author

The Auld Lang Syne of Barnaby Sloan by Jenna Lynn Brown

The Wish series #4.

Barnaby Sloan and his boyfriend, Liam, are trying to be more open and communicative, and tell each other everything. With New Year’s Eve approaching, Liam invites Barnaby to join him at the museum’s New Year’s Eve party. At first, Barnaby is hesitant because he knows his ex-boyfriend, Xander, will probably be there, but his desire to please Liam overrules his worry about the temptation Xander may present.


At the party, all seems to be going well until Barnaby meets Jared, Liam’s cute, new secretary, and Jared’s date: Xander. Xander makes no secret that he still wants Barnaby. Shaken by the encounter with Xander, Barnaby lashes out at Liam and seeks comfort elsewhere in the museum. 


New Year’s Eve is a time for new beginnings. Can Barnaby resist the temptation to return to old habits?

Available in ebook from these retailers.

Coming December 15, 2020…

Barnaby Sloan and his boyfriend, Liam, are trying to be more open and communicative, and tell each other everything. With New Year’s Eve approaching, Liam invites Barnaby to join him at the museum’s New Year’s Eve party. At first, Barnaby is hesitant because he knows his ex-boyfriend, Xander, will probably be there, but his desire to please Liam overrules his worry about the temptation Xander may present.


At the party, all seems to be going well until Barnaby meets Jared, Liam’s cute, new secretary, and Jared’s date: Xander. Xander makes no secret that he still wants Barnaby. Shaken by the encounter with Xander, Barnaby lashes out at Liam and seeks comfort elsewhere in the museum.

New Year’s Eve is a time for new beginnings. Can Barnaby resist the temptation to return to old habits?

This essay was originally published to the writing community Get Your Words Out.

Returning to Old Ideas

Or, how to find motivation after a break

In 2005, I wrote the first draft of what would become my first published novel, Chiaroscuro. While rewriting it over the next year, I got ideas for a few other stories in that universe, centering on some major characters and some minor ones, for a series I named City by the Bay.  (Yes, as in, “I want to be there in my city.” I was really homesick for California, y’all.) The next story came easily, and was published in 2009 as Something Beautiful. I eagerly started the third story, which I called Cartography for Beginners. I got about 8000 words into it, and then…

Nothing.

For months. 

Every few weeks, I opened the file and reread what I had, hoping that an idea of how to continue would pop into my head. I knew how I wanted the story to end of course — I write romances, the ending isn’t the hard part — but how to get there just refused to … pop.

Meantime, I wrote other stuff, mostly novellas and short stories and fanfic. Readers and even my editor asked me if there would be more City by the Bay stories, and I talked about it sometimes in my chats on the publisher’s community page. But not matter what I did, Cartography for Beginners was stuck in a limbo of “I don’t know what to do next.” 

Then after three years, I was reading the file again, and like magic, I knew what should happen next. And what should happen after that. And after that. It took a few months of deep focus, but the rough draft was finally finished in May 2011 and Cartography for Beginners was published in 2012.

Currently, I’m working on an idea I originally got in 2016 from an incident between one of my role-play characters and his now-partner, that I’m calling Continuo. I’ve started over quite a few times, and put it aside quite a few times to work on other things–mostly Fidele, AKA the novel that ate my brain. (Fidele ate my brain so thoroughly that a year after its publication I still feel it echoing in my head.) Despite all the setbacks, I do want to write this story–I want these characters’ story to be told.

Sometimes an idea will strike like lightning. I wrote the first draft of Fidele in three weeks, for example. Granted, it was only 38K words then, but it gave me a solid foundation to work on. 

But sometimes an idea needs some time to find itself. I refer to it as the “percolating” period, when I set a story aside to let my subconscious work out solutions to whatever narrative problems sprang up. 

I don’t believe either method is better than the other — as with most things writing, you do what works best for you, or what works best for that particular story. But if you have an idea that’s been waiting for a long time, or a story that you started but don’t know how to finish, how do you find your inspiration again?

Aside from just waiting, here are a few things that have worked for me:

  • Write down your ideas, no matter how big or small. Keep an active, and detailed as possible, idea file, and write down every idea you possibly can. 
  • Write down the inspiration, the “what if”, and any snippets of dialogue or description or whatever that came with the specific idea. Attach pictures if it was a visual inspiration. 
  • Create a mood board or a playlist. Keep those in a place you can easily find them again — I bless Spotify for making playlists so easy that I never have to worry about losing a curated playlist when I change computers again. 
  • Research aspects of the idea, even if it’s something small like a period-accurate pair of shoes or how religious acolytes cut their hair. Research will help you get a feel for the world again, or help with your world-building by using real-world equivalents, and help you want to be in your own version of that world again.

Then, when you want to return to the idea, you have whatever inspired you in the first place in an easy-to-find location. If you’ve done several reminders, you’ll have inspiration for multiple senses to kickstart your creativity again. 

  • Reread what you’ve previously written. If you didn’t take notes but did write a few hundred or thousand words, reread them and write down any thoughts you have while you’re reading. 
  • Reread a favorite novel. When I feel like my creativity is waning, I visit my favorite books to refill the well, so to speak. 
  • Rewatch a favorite movie or TV series, go to a museum, go to a play or a dance performance or a concert (when such things happen again), go for a walk in the woods. As with books, a beloved piece of art (yes, nature totally counts as art) can clear your head enough to get some thinking done. 
  • Search for inspiration, in new places and in old.  I firmly believe that when you open yourself to new ideas, they will find you, but you have to do your part, too. 

Most of all, if you really want this story to be told, don’t give up. It may take time, it may take research, it may take the weirdest Google searches to appear in your history, but if you believe you can write the story, you will.

This essay was originally posted to the writing community Get Your Words Out.

At the beginning of the month I downloaded a bunch of apps with the intention to test them out and offer brief reviews of each one. Then I got a new job and have been studying for license certification exams, and completely forgot about this essay until yesterday.

Oops.

So let’s talk about two apps on different ends of the productivity spectrum, Moleskin Journey and Notion.

Notion is available on mobile, desktop, and browser platforms, and is a product of Notion Labs. It is primarily intended for project management for schools, businesses, and personal use. The personal plan was recently changed to have unlimited “blocks” or individual pieces of information, meaning you can use it for all your everything without a subscription or flat fee. There are other levels to their pricing plans, of course, with more features, but a personal plan will probably be enough for most writers no matter how much mythology and backstory your story has.

As far as its functionality goes, Notion can:

  • store notes and documents
  • be a content management system
  • be a wiki
  • be a kanban board
  • be a gallery
  • all sorts of other functions as outlined in templates provided by Notion Labs and the Notion community.

If you want to delete apps on your phone and consolidate everything into one, Notion is a useful tool. You navigate using dropdown menus or breadcrumb navigation, you can use icons or graphics to differentiate different areas, and add colors or change fonts to personalize your databases.

But… since it’s intended for business, it’s a little bland. And for me, it made organizing my story notes feel like work, not something that gives me joy.

Since Notion didn’t suit me but I still wanted an app that would help me keep track of goals and tasks, I decided to give Moleskine Journey a try. Journey is made by the Moleskine company — the journal people — and tries to recreate that simple aesthetic digitally. Primarily, Moleskin is a journal app, so you can update your calendar, set yourself goals or reminders, and even have the app wake you up every morning.

Where the magic happens is the Projects tab. Here, you can create separate goals with their own lists of tasks, color-code them, set their own due date and reminders and so on, and set the tasks to be completed by a certain date or repeat every day.

Journey is intended for creatives, and allows you to create several projects or one big project with several related tasks, or whatever suits your needs. I find it a little more quirky than Notion, and a little more charming. You can keep it strictly business and fill your calendar with appointments, or you can remind yourself to watch your favorite Let’s Player every day. Not that I do that. That would be silly.

The downside to Journey is if you like organization, Journey doesn’t offer as many tools as many other apps. There isn’t a built-in priority system, for instance, so every task is given the same weight as the other. There’s no central section for notes and graphics, so repetitive tasks for a project have to be entered on each one. The navigation tends to be a bit mystery-meat in the name of minimalism, and I find myself saying like DeeDee on Dexter’s Lab, “What does this button do?”

So, my search for the ideal productivity assistant continues.

Any recs?