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Hi! I'm Sky.
I love words, stars, and superheroes.
I'm a fangirl, writer, and spoonie.
Beautiful People
Beautiful People is a monthly link-up for writers designed to help you get to know your characters.
Hosted by myself and Cait @ Paper Fury.
A Novel Idea
A Novel Idea is a weekly link-up for writers focused on everything about the writing process.
Hosted by myself and Ashley @ Ashley Aspires.
Are you young and sick?
In all my spare time, I run a blog for teenagers and young people with chronic illness.
We are young and sick. But we are not alone.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Novel Idea: 6/28/16

Sky Destrian


As a writer, keeping inspiration going from week to week can be tough. My wonderful friend Ashley and I want to change that. The point of A Novel Idea is to get your writing juices flowing even when you don’t feel like writing. We also want it to help you dig deeper into what writing looks like for you and let you share it with the world. We’ll be posting installments weekly, all focused on four things: characters, your novel, you writing process, and writing prompts. Follow the weekly guidelines and post it on your blog, then link up with us! We’d love to hear from you each week.


This week, we want to challenge you to write a scene about the following photo. Anything goes, as long as it relates to the picture in some way. Let your imagination run wild--we can’t wait to see what you come up with!
Description: Two people, only their hands visible, sit at a table drinking wine and having a conversation.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Introducing Further Up and Further In Design

Sky Destrian
When October 2016 rolls around, I'll have been blogging for ten years. It's honestly shocking when I think about it. I've had many different platforms and blog titles, but in the end, I always came back to my home blog: Further Up and Further In.

One of the things blogging opened the door for me to do was design. Rather than make me my own blog design, my dad told me to learn how to do it myself. Though I was peeved at the time, it's something I can't thank him enough for because it led me to discover that I am truly passionate about graphic design.

So, with that, I'm pleased to announce that I've officially opened my design business to commissions. I've had the business in motion for almost a year, but it's never quite been official... well, now it's official! I'm open for business, and that feels really good to say.

If you're looking for affordable graphics--logos, blog designs, or book covers--I'm here to help! Head on over to my design site to check out what I offer and for how much. Affordability is my goal, and so is making a design that you will absolutely love.

As a special thank you to my blog readers (if you're reading this post, that's you), I'm offering a discount for you guys. When you fill out the contact form, enter the coupon code "FUFI" for 20% off your offer. This coupon code is valid until the end of June!

In summary, thank you so much for reading 
and for being a part of my life for the past ten years. 
Here's to many more! ♥

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Novel Idea: Quin & Andie

Sky Destrian
This week’s prompt is: What would the back cover of your novel say? Try to make it as intriguing as possible. Remember, this is all readers have when trying to decide if they’re going to read your book or not. Do the best you can to convince a hypothetical reader to pick up your book.
Today I'm focusing on a story that Ashley and I are co-writing. It doesn't have a title yet, but it revolves around two characters... Quin and Andie. Here's the back cover version of their story:

Ever since they met in high school, Quinton Lancaster and Andie Giordano were inseparable. But now they're miles apart, broken up, and desperately missing each other (even though they won't admit it). Just when they thought they'd never see each other again, their brother and sister announce that they're getting married... which means the whole family will be there, much to Quin and Andie's dismay. When finally reunited and forced to confront their emotions, will Quin and Andie remember that their love is worth fighting for?

Have you entered A Novel Idea yet? If not, do so here!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Novel Idea: 6/21/16

Sky Destrian


As a writer, keeping inspiration going from week to week can be tough. My wonderful friend Ashley and I want to change that. The point of A Novel Idea is to get your writing juices flowing even when you don’t feel like writing. We also want it to help you dig deeper into what writing looks like for you and let you share it with the world. We’ll be posting installments weekly, all focused on four things: characters, your novel, you writing process, and writing prompts. Follow the weekly guidelines and post it on your blog, then link up with us! We’d love to hear from you each week.


This week’s prompt is: What would the back cover of your novel say? Try to make it as intriguing as possible. Remember, this is all readers have when trying to decide if they’re going to read your book or not. Do the best you can to convince a hypothetical reader to pick up your book.

Friday, June 17, 2016

A Novel Idea: Meet Poppy

Sky Destrian
This week's A Novel Idea prompt is...
This week we are asking you to describe your character without using a picture. What do they look like? What do they wear? What is their personality like? Help us get to know your character without using any pictures at all!

As you may have noticed, a favorite pastime of mine is finding pictures of my characters and then using them in blog posts. So this is going to be an interesting but good challenge for me!

This week, I'm introducing Poppy Spencer, my character in the novel that Ashley and I cowrote together (and finished yesterday!!!). She's paired with Ty, whom Ashley introduced on her blog here.

Name: Poppy Elizabeth Spencer
Age: 23
Birthplace: Atlanta, GA
Birthday: March 14th
Physical appearance: Poppy has super curly sandy blonde hair and dark eyes. She has a heart-shaped face with a smattering of freckles on it. Her smile lights up her entire face. She's tall, lean, and a bit angular.
Style: Poppy can be found wearing anything from t-shirts and sweats to a sundress, depending on her mood. She's pretty feminine in what she wears and really enjoys wearing pretty outfits whenever she can, as long as they're comfortable too.
Personality: Poppy's personality, in a word, is sacrificial. She's loyal to her friends and family and would do anything for them, even if it hurts her. She's compassionate and empathetic and really sensitive. She has a sense of humor, and her favorite thing to do is be with her friends--particularly her best friend, Ty Mellaney. She can't cook at all, but she really loves to read, especially Nicholas Sparks. She says thank you way too often, much to the dismay of Ty. She is determined to see the good in everything, even when there's no good at all.
Backstory: Poppy's parents passed away when she was two, so her Aunt Mary took her under her wing and is her only family. Aunt Mary means more to her than anything, and her health is failing, so Poppy spends her days taking care of her and worrying about the day when Aunt Mary will no longer be there. She also works as a nanny for Ty's mom, which she loves doing. Despite the hard parts, Poppy is an eternal optimist, and she really does love her life.

Thank you so much for reading. Have you participated in A Novel Idea? Link up here!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Novel Idea: 6/14/16

Sky Destrian


As a writer, keeping inspiration going from week to week can be tough. My wonderful friend Ashley and I want to change that. The point of A Novel Idea is to get your writing juices flowing even when you don’t feel like writing. We also want it to help you dig deeper into what writing looks like for you and let you share it with the world. We’ll be posting installments weekly, all focused on four things: characters, your novel, you writing process, and writing prompts. Follow the weekly guidelines and post it on your blog, then link up with us! We’d love to hear from you each week.



This week, we are asking you to describe your character without using a picture. What do they look like? What do they wear? What is their personality like? Help us get to know your character without using any pictures at all!


Friday, June 10, 2016

Giving Up on Self-Hate

Sky Destrian

By Ashley Strawser

I'm going to be brutally, 100% honest with you right now. This isn't something that I'd normally do, but it's taking a lot for me to actually write this post.

I'm overweight. Most of my life, I have been. "Morbidly obese" according to the BMI scales and any website that you'd look on. Fat, in "less kind," but true, terms.

I have a lot of friends who are into fitness. There was a time when I was. I was exercising 5 days a week and I went from being roughly 250 pounds all the way down to 118 pounds. I was about as close to anorexia as you can get without actually being anorexic. I ate about 1200 calories a day and burned off a whole bunch of those exercising.


I wanted to be skinny. I wanted the world to look at me differently - not just as the "fat girl" who eats too much and doesn't know how to be healthy.

And maybe they did when I was a size 2 and looked like I was a walking skeleton. Maybe I looked good by the world's standards. Maybe they looked at me and thought, "Wow, she's got it all together."


But the truth of the matter is, I didn't. I wasn't any happier with myself at a size 2 than I was at a size 16. In fact, pretty much all I cared about when I was thinner was staying thin. I cared about exercising and making sure I didn't eat over my calorie allotment every single day.

When I got myself out of that mindset, I put on weight. I went back up to practically the same size I was when I started. I look in the mirror, and I'm unhappy. I want to get fitter, but I'm scared to fall into the same rut I was in before where I was obsessive about it and that was all I thought about.

But...let's be honest. Is skinny really all that matters? Is exercise the only thing in life that we should worry about? Shouldn't we worry more about our families? Our friends? The people we love? They're not going to care if you're skinny, overweight, if you eat right, or if you don't.

Sure, for health reasons, we should be trying to eat better. We should be trying to get healthy and stay healthy. We should be not eating all the cake and ice cream in the world (although, that'd be fun to try!)

But in the grand scheme of things, there are a lot more important things in life than being skinny. When you're thin, there's always going to be someone thinner.

I guess the moral of the story is: be happy in who you are. Don't overthink it. Don't obsess over being beautiful by the world's standards because they're skewed.

Even those models don't look like they do in magazines.

Be you.

So, I have given up on self-hate. I have given up on looking in the mirror and being mad at what I see. I'm who I am. My pants size doesn't matter. My mind does. My heart does. My life does.


Ashley Strawser is a 20-something writer, Disney fanatic, wine lover, and foodie. You can find her at Ashley Aspires, where she occasionally finds the time to post about Disney, teen girl self-help, and sometimes even a good recipe. But don't expect too many posts - Ashley is busy working a full-time job, and hanging out with her family!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A Novel Idea: Journey Through my Writing History

Sky Destrian

This week, A Novel Idea relaunches. Some of you may remember me participating back in the day, so when Ashley asked if I wanted to help her with it, I was thrilled. I'm excited to bring it back!

This week is a bit of an introduction to talk about our writing styles and what we like to write. For me, this is a hard question to answer because I write a little bit of everything. To start off with, I'm going to discuss my writing journey and how I've gotten to this point.

Writing is what brings us togethah today.

Without further ado, let's blast to the past!


Sky's Official Writing Timeline


1996-2000

I was born. I also wrote a story about an ant who was separated from his family. My grandma helped me write it, and she laminated it. I felt so cool. That feeling was what hooked me on writing forever. Thank you, Grandma.


circa 2000

After being raised on a steady diet of children's books, I wrote one of my first stories: Dogs and Cats Castle. It was a short picture book that I wrote and illustrated myself, which my mom stapled together. I then proceeded to read it aloud at my fifth birthday party. 

2000-2008

I wrote a large amount of stories in WordPad documents on an old desktop in the basement of our townhouse. None of them went very far, but I continued trying. I also wrote a long generational saga that was a loose Madeline fanfic, and I wrote it in a Wizard of Oz journal, which helped it feel like a real book. I also wrote a couple of Narnia fanfics (before I realized there were more books than just The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) and made up quite a few characters who doubled as my imaginary friends. As I got older, I finished my first chapter book. I don't know if I ever titled it, but it was a mystery inspired by The Boxcar Children in which children solved a kidnapping. Said children were all cousins and were all named after states.


circa 2008

I sat in the grass outside and decided that I wanted to "get serious" about this writing thing. So, I came up with my first serious writing project: Talryn's Tale. It was your run-of-the-mill medieval fantasy with a secret sibling plot and a girl without a home. Though I never finished it and doubt I'll rewrite it, it still remains close to my heart. 


circa 2008-2011

I met two of my closest friends, Ashley and Georgie, and started writing various writing projects with them. Around this time is when I got my start in writing non-fiction, and I devoted much of my time to blogging and running an online magazine called Kids of Faith. My first time doing NaNo was in 2009, where I participated in the Young Writers' Program and made my goal of 30k. I participated in the adult NaNoWriMo in 2010 and accidentally got to 50,000 words.

My NaNo 2009 project. The first one!

circa 2011-2013

I got my first writing mentor, which encouraged me to get even more serious about my writing than I ever had been. Additionally, I wrote Reese's Pieces, which was my first full-length novel that I finished. I also got a free proof copy from CreateSpace. It is an amazing feeling to hold your book in print.


I took a trip back into fantasy and started Silver Tears, which occupied my time quite a bit. It led to plotting a full series and then writing a prequel, Broken Wings, in 2012. I also met some of my closest friends through establishing a NaNo support group called The Tea-Spitters. In 2011, I began Because I'm Irish, which signaled a new era of enjoying both my characters and writing in a way I didn't know was possible. I continued writing. Some of my current writing projects I'm still working on were born during this time period, like The Angel Novel, Because We Can, and Petrichor.

circa 2014-2016

I kept blogging, started The Fangirl Initiative, and continued to grow my nonfiction writing career. I also came up with a ton of new novel ideas, rewrote my first novel, and kept plugging away at my dream. Thus, we arrive in the present.



What does the writing process look like for me?


While I've had my share of outlining, my favorite thing to do is discover the story as I write it. Sometimes my stories come to me by a picture on Pinterest or a situation in real life. Or a song, or a show, or a movie. Anything is fair game. My immediate move is to create a Pinterest board. I use Pinterest for plotting probably a little too much. Once I feel the book is "ready" (this is an arbitrary term), I begin writing. Some books languish a little longer than others, and some are finished sooner than others, but I still love each and every one of my writing projects.


What do I like to write?


I've written fantasy, sci-fi, and contemporary. I would sum up my favorite genre as anything weird. A town overwhelmed by crime (Petrichor). A girl kidnapped by a boyband (Because I'm Irish). An evil scientist's plot to overthrow the world and also ruin my main character's life (Lost Girls). Books about space, magic, and chronic illness--anything is fair game. However, I also really enjoy writing simple contemporaries, which give me the chance to slow down and write about something more relateable to real life.


And finally, why do I write?


As my old blogging bio said, "I write for the same reason I breathe. If I didn't, things would get difficult." I write because when I don't, I suffer and don't feel fulfilled. I write because I love it with a passion. I write because it's impossible for me to stop.

Why do you write? Did you do A Novel Idea? If not, link up here!

Introducing A Novel Idea

Sky Destrian
As a writer, keeping inspiration going from week to week can be tough. My friend Ashley and I want to change that. The point of A Novel Idea is to get your writing juices flowing even when you don’t feel like writing. We also want it to help you dig deeper into what writing looks like for you and let you share it with the world. We’ll be posting installments weekly, all focused on four things: characters, your novel, you writing process, and writing prompts. Follow the weekly guidelines and post it on your blog, then link up with us! We’d love to hear from you each week.



This week, tell us about your writing style/what you like to write. Whether it’s POVs, genres, tenses, topics, or settings, tell us everything. This can be as deep or as simple as you want it to be--just have fun with it!


What novel are you working on this week?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Beautiful People: Fiona (June 2016)

Sky Destrian
Here we are again, back to Fiona Bartulli, one of my soul characters who is always at the back of my mind. Almost an exact year ago, I was featuring her in my BP post, and a couple of years ago, I finished Because We Can close to Fiona's birthday, June 6th, also known as... TODAY. I have a weird habit of celebrating Fiona's birthday, so I figured I'd keep the tradition going this year and answer our latest BP questions about Fiona's childhood, which is kind of a bittersweet childhood. Dun dun dun. Let's do this.


1. What is their first childhood memory?

She remembers a trip her family took to New England for Christmas when they stayed in a cabin. All that Fiona remembers is sitting with her parents in front of the roaring fire.


2. What were their best and worst childhood experiences?

The best: driving on road trips with her dad in his convertible with classic rock playing.
The worst: ice skating and taking a big fall, then being forced to continue ice skating as a sport even though she was scared of it and wanted to quit.



3. What was their childhood home like?

Her childhood home is the only place she lived, and her parents still live there. It's a small white house a five minute walk from a beach in New Jersey. There's a front porch with a swing, and Fiona's room is just as she left it--painted yellow, with an old, ratty pale yellow comforter and childhood/tween posters covering the walls. It's a major trip to the past and nostalgia when she goes back to her house.


4. What’s something that scared them as child?

The dark and the monsters under the bed. She's still not totally convinced monsters don't exist. Actually, she knows for a fact they do--they just are completely different than she expected.

5. Who did they look up to most?

Her dad. She was always closest to him, and she still is. He is her constant.


6. Favourite and least favourite childhood foods?

Favorite: mac and cheese.
Least favorite: brocolli or anything green.


7. If they had their childhood again, would they change anything?

Yes. Though it's impossible to change people, Fiona would want to change her mom and make her mom less perfectionistic. However, after Fiona goes through some things, she'd instead want to go back and try to make her relationship with her mom better.


8. What kind of child were they? Curious? Wild? Quiet? Devious?

Quiet, yet sassy when she felt like it. She was very introverted, but she had a temper. (Oh, wait, she still does.)


9. What was their relationship to their parents and siblings like?

As we've already touched on a little, Fiona had a really good relationship with her dad. Her mom? Not so much. Her mom had high expectations, which grated on Fiona's nerves, and they both have very strong opinions and are pretty stubborn. This made for an awkward and tense combination, and Fiona and her mom's relationship is still strained because of it. (Also, Fiona has no siblings as of right now.)


10. What did they want to be when they grew up, and what did they actually become?

When she was younger, she wanted to be a violinist who played solely for the pleasure of it. Much to her dismay, she did become a violinist, under circumstances she wasn't fond of, to say the least. Dreams do come true, but sometimes they turn out to be nightmares. (Ooh, that was accidentally profound.)


Did you do Beautiful People? If not, join in here!

Beautiful People: Childhood Edition

Sky Destrian
Happy June, writerlings! It's almost summer, and I honestly can't believe it. Come back, 2016--where are you going? (Stop, I don't want to chase you, this isn't funny anymore.)

For your summer relaxation, we have prepared a list of Beautiful People questions focused on your character's childhood!

But first...

What is Beautiful People?
Beautiful People is a blog meme hosted by myself and the ever-awesome Cait @ Paper Fury. Every month, we post ten questions to help you get to know your characters better. They can be elusive and enigmatic, but we hope every question we post brings you closer to the answers about your wonderful beautiful people (your characters). 

How do I join?
Just jump in! Snag the questions, post them on your blog, and come back to add your link! I also recommend checking out the posts of the other participants. It's a great way to make new friends.

Please also give Cait and I a link back--whether through a regular link, or these shiny blog buttons:





And now for the questions!

  1. What is their first childhood memory?
  2. What were their best and worst childhood experiences?
  3. What was their childhood home like?
  4. What’s something that scared them as child?
  5. Who did they look up to most?
  6. Favourite and least favourite childhood foods?
  7. If they had their childhood again, would they change anything?
  8. What kind of child were they? Curious? Wild? Quiet? Devious?
  9. What was their relationship to their parents and siblings like?
  10. What did they want to be when they grew up, and what did they actually become?
Let's chat! What are your plans for this summer, writing or otherwise?

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Beautiful People: Kess (#2)

Sky Destrian

I'm jumping in just before the linky closes to participate in Beautiful People for May. (Yes, yes, I do realize it is June now. I'm trying to get back into posting and writing, so what better way to do so than by participating in BP?

If you haven't joined yet, you can find out how here.


Today I'm talking about my character Kess Matthews. Kess has been around for about two years, and I've featured her a couple times before. However, I only just recently started trying to rewrite Metal and Bone, so I have even more incentive to get to know Kess even more.

She's a mechanic who takes care of her two younger siblings and lives on the coast in San Francisco. An ISTP, Kess looks at everything in a logical fashion and is constantly trying to understand how things tick. She does have a wild side, however, and will often be found with a different hair color each week.


1. How often do they smile? Would they smile at a stranger?

Kess is actually pretty pensive at first, but once you get to know her, she smiles often. She would probably not smile at a stranger because she'd be too caught up in her own little world, but if a stranger smiled at her, she'd certainly smile back.

2. What is the cruelest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?

The cruelest thing was unintentionally cruel, but it was the news that her parents had died and it was implied to be her fault.

3. What is the kindest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?

That she has a beautiful smile. She blushed, but she hid it down deep inside her for rainy days.

(Please enjoy a badly photoshopped picture I did.)


4. What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?

Going to the beach with her parents before her siblings came along. Her father threw her in the ocean and she and her mom made sand angels. It's a lasting memory because Kess remembers being so dang happy.


5. What book (a real actual published book!) do you think your character would benefit from reading?

This is HARD. Um... maybe I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson? I just think she'd enjoy the prose.

6. Have they ever been seriously injured? How severely? How did they react?

Kess accidentally cut her hand in her early days of being a mechanic. It wasn't too severe, but since it was on her palm, it hurt a ton. She reacted by swearing up a storm, then bandaging herself up.



7. Do they like and get along with their neighbours?

Yes! Kess' neighborhood is extremely well-knit, and even though Kess is a fairly private person, she still has made deep relationships with her neighbors, especially after her parents died.

8. On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being easy and 10 being difficult) how easy are they to get along with?

I'd say about a 6. She's hard to get to know, but once she lets you in, you're golden.


9. If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go?

Paris or Barbados. Paris because it's the city of love, and Barbados because of the warmth and the tropical atmosphere.

10. Who was the last person they held hands with?

Either her siblings or her significant other, depending on the day.


Want to join in the fun? Link up here!

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