Coffee Confessions: Choosing to Express Like Espresso -A Guest Post by Author Caroline George

Writers tend to be different. Maybe our abnormality is accredited to the excessive amounts of time we spend with our own thoughts. Maybe we see and understand more than non-writers. Maybe our creativity has fried our brains.

I was and am different.

As a determined, overly imaginative teenager, I decided to spend my seventeenth birthday with my mom at Counter Culture Coffee in Atlanta, Georgia. There were two things I wanted for my birthday—a handmade vintage sundress and barista lessons. If the requests don’t convey my weirdness, let me preface by saying I had already published two books and launched my author career by the time I first used a tamp and steam wand. Different described every aspect of my life.

The first thing I learned about working an espresso machine:

Coffee is an art form.

Baristas at Counter Culture are required to complete various courses and training before receiving certification. These classes teach basic espresso machine usage, the chemistry of milk, and much more. All of this information is needed when working in authentic coffeehouses.

How does coffee relate to creative writing?

Writing requires the same amount of knowledge, practice, and skill as pouring the perfect latte. Professional baristas must be so familiar with the coffee-making process, they know when milk reaches the desired temperature, when the espresso is pulled to its prime consistency. Professional writers must also be so well-versed with their craft, they’re able to develop plots and characters with ease, build concise and effective sentences.

I tasted my first espresso shot at barista training—I was required to take multiple shots of espresso pulled at different draw times. My body was buzzed on caffeine as I made lattes, attempted a tulip and art design with steamed milk. The drinks were proof—I was not knowledgeable, practiced, nor skilled.

There are three writing tips I learned from Counter Culture classes.

Knowledge: Acquiring know-how takes effort.

Writing is a constant education, same as working as a barista. To be successful as a writer and author, one must do research, learn about the publishing industry and current market.

Practice: Knowledge is useless without implementation.

Like knowing how to pull an espresso doesn’t mean a barista can work an espresso machine, someone who knows how to write isn’t always a good writer. Once knowledge is gained, it needs to be applied and practiced.

Skill: Time determines talent.

Although some people are gifted with natural writing ability, the best writers gain their skills from utilization and diligence.

We have to make lattes with disfigured latte art before we can pour intricate floral designs. We have to be willing to write not-so-great stories before we can build masterpieces.

I left Counter Culture over-caffeinated, covered in grinds, and more appreciative of baristas. The experience was so inspiring, I made my main character in The Vestige (coming June 30 from Evernight Teen Publishing) a barista—shameless self-plug.

Overall, as writers, we need to express like espresso.

We need to be knowledgeable, practiced, and skilled.

 

About Caroline:

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Caroline George, author of THE PRIME WAY TRILOGY and THE VESTIGE, resides in Nashville where she spends the majority of her time in hipster coffeehouses, sipping lavender mochas and undertaking over-the-top projects. She is a two-time Georgia Author of the Year nominee, speaker, blogger and writer for teen magazine PURSUE. Caroline studies publishing and public relations at Belmont University and works as a publicist for local artists.

Instagram @authorcarolinegeorge

Facebook/AuthorCarolineGeorge

Twitter @CarolineGeorge_

Website: authorcarolinegeorge.com

 

About The Vestige:

Choose to see the unseen . . .

Julie Stryker has spent her life in the scenic streets of Charleston, South Carolina, bicycling to the local college, working at a coffeehouse, watching her family fall apart and back together. She has plans, dreams—all of which seem out of reach. Then she meets a handsome stranger at work, and she believes her life is on the brink of a much needed change. But after a tragic accident, Julie is whisked away from the only home she’s ever known and confronted with a life-altering secret: The end of the world has already occurred and a portion of humankind has been kept oblivious.

Tossed into a hidden world of deception, Julie must confront the truth within herself and reveal the government’s layers before the end of the world becomes a permanent reality.

1st Layer: What you can see.

2nd Layer: What you know is real.

3rd Layer: What you can neither see nor know is real.

Unfolding by Jonathan Friesen

I received this book from the author/publisher for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are all my own.

The Synopsis:

Jonah wishes he could get the girl, but he’s an outcast and she’s the most perfect girl he knows.

And their futures seemed destined to fork apart: Jonah’s physical condition is debilitating, and epileptic seizures fill his life with frustration. Whereas Stormi is seemingly carefree, and navigates life by sensing things before they happen. And her most recent premonition is urging her to leave town.

When Stormi begs Jonah for help, he finds himself swept into a dark mystery his small town has been keeping for years. And the answers Stormi needs about her own past could possibly destroy everything Jonah has ever known—including his growing relationship with Stormi herself.

Review:

Trying to fit the Gospel into a YA novel, and still have it sell, is very hard to do, and though I applaud Jonathan for trying, I think he may have spent a little too much time on trying to fit the Gospel in than he did to develop the story.

It was very well written and I fell in love with both Jonah and Stormi (Arthur too), I was just left with unanswered questions and was very confused at the ending. Stormi’s gifts aren’t really explained until the middle of the book, the antagonists aren’t dealt with in the end, and honestly, I wasn’t really sure what the plot was as I read.

Now don’t get me wrong, the way it’s written made it impossible to put down and I enjoyed reading it, I’m just left with many questions, but perhaps this is what the author wanted. Regardless, I’m only going to give it 3 out of 5 stars, though I do recommend it to anyone who wants to give this Christian YA a chance, maybe its plot will be clearer to another reader.

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Rated:

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It’s My Life by Melody Carlson

This is a guest review, read and written by Sophia Marie, who blogs at Teens Live for Jesus. For a full bio and links to her personal sites, please progress to the end of the review.

The Synopsis:

Typical Caitlin: “Dear God, it seems I’ll never get this right. One minute I think I’m doing pretty well, and the next thing I know I’m having totally selfish and shallow thoughts. How long will it take for me to really change?”

Sophia’s Review:

Best friend? Pregnant. Second best friend? Seriously sick. Ex-boyfriend? Hanging out with someone else.

Caitlin can’t help but worry about all the people in her life. She tries to help, but that takes up SO much time and doesn’t’ even seem to help anyway. And then her parents get all upset with her about what she wants to do after she graduates next year. Seriously? Doesn’t Caitlin have a right to do what she feels God calling her to do? Then again, is that Him speaking – for sure?

It’s My Life explores the topics of mission, dating (or not!), teenage pregnancies, family relationships, and more. The book delves deep into the thoughts of a teenage girl. 

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Rated:

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Guest Review Bonus: Series and Author Information

It’s My Life is the second in the Diary of a Teenage Girl: Caitlin series. The first is Becoming Me; the third, fourth, and fifth are Who I AmOn My Own, and I Do!

For more information on Melody Carlson, visit her website and Facebook page.

About Sophia Marie:

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Sofia Marie is a missionary kid, continuing to explore the expansive world of college. She loves running, reading, writing, and spending time with friends. One of her dreams is to become a high school teacher who is always there for her students. Sofia Marie’s blog, Teens Live for Jesus, includes devotions, quotes, discussions on music, and over 70 book reviews for Christian fiction and nonfiction.

Unwritten Melody by Tessa Emily Hall

I received this book from the author for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are entirely my own.

The Synopsis:

Does breaking free require breaking the rules?

Cassie Gilbert lives every day in the shadows of her deceased mom’s rebellion. But now that she’s seventeen, she finds herself longing to break away from her grandmother’s suffocating rules, experience what it’s like to be a regular teenager, and fulfill her songwriting dreams.

James Russo, former American Spotlight contestant, escapes to small town Willow Creek, SC hoping to flee from his tarnished past. When a school project pairs him with the principal’s shy granddaughter, he’s determined to get to know this Emily-Dickinson-obsessed and typewriter-using girl. His plan? Convince Cassie to co-write songs for his demo album.

As Cassie gets to know James over “project meetings” (more like opportunities to match her lyrics with his melodies), she becomes intrigued by his sense of adventure and contagious passion for music. But soon, his past becomes exposed. Cassie’s left to wonder—did she make the same mistake Mom did by falling for the bad boy?

Then, Grandma’s control pushes her over the edge. Cassie must choose between remaining in the chains of yesterday, or delving into her own freedom by completing the melody her mom left behind.

Review:

Beautifully woven together in this story is the healing power of music and all-too-real life issues, confronting the problems of depression in a way that provides hope and endurance.

Unwritten Melody follows the high-school life of Cassie and her desire to be free of her Grandma’s control, without hurting those she loves in the process. I love that Cassie is a model of how one should act in conflicting and unfair situations rather than being that character who we use as an example of how not to act; she is sweet, passionate, and extremely humble in all of her actions and I genuinely loved reading about her.

Cassie’s and James’ story inspires the readers to follow their dreams earnestly, but to always remember that our decisions affect those around us, and especially those closest to us. I give Unwritten Melody a full 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to readers who are looking for a clean romance, with enough “real life issues” to keep the story going.

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Rated:

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