• an interview with human sunshine // paper crowns •

One of my dear friends, Mirriam Freaking Neal (yes, Freaking is her actual middle name), has published her second novel!

Mirriam is one of the most talented young artists out there (+ I’m not just saying that). Even the first draft, which I had the privilege of reading, was hilarious, witty, and a joy to read! With the editing and her growth as a writer, the completed version is something like Christmas in May. Paper Crowns is one of those rare literary jewels (that’s not cliche at all in case you’re wondering) that appeals to children and adults alike. I highly recommend purchasing a copy for yourself, your siblings, your child, your niece, your nephew, each of your extended cousins, and that one old man at the bus stop who looks like he could stand to smile a little more.

I’m a very picky reader when it comes to contemporary literature and a stingy penny-pincher, so believe you me when I say that this is a delightful story worthy of your time + $$. My sister and I have laughed out loud so many times throughout this novel.

That said, following is the required author-bio + official Paper Crowns description and then the interview.

• introducing mirriam neal •

Mirriam Neal is a twenty-two-year-old Northwestern hipster living in Atlanta. She writes hard-to-describe books in hard-to-describe genres, and illustrates things whenever she finds the time.  She aspires to live as faithfully and creatively as she can and she hopes you do, too.

• an interview with human sunshine // paper crowns •

• where you can find her •


//Barnes & Noble




//Publisher’s Page

• paper crowns •


Ginger has lived in seclusion, with only her aunt Malgarel and her blue cat, Halcyon, to keep her company. Her sheltered, idyllic life is turned upside-down when her home is attacked by messengers from the world of fae. Accompanied by Halcyon (who may or may not be more than just a cat), an irascible wysling named Azrael, and a loyal fire elemental named Salazar, Ginger ventures into the world of fae to bring a ruthless Queen to justice.

• le interview •

R: You usually write darker, grittier novels and the Paper Series is basically the polar opposite of Monster, your last published novel. What inspired you to write Paper Crowns, a lighthearted story?

M: I was writing another dark, gritty novel and I wanted a kind of palate cleanser. The Paper books help keep me from going ‘too far’ when working on darker things, pulling my focus toward something more lighthearted and simple. They help keep me grounded in moderation.


R: In what ways has your writing style changed since you released Monster?

M: My style tends to change and shift to suit whatever project I’m currently working on. This makes it hard to pinpoint exactly how it’s changed, except to say it has matured and evolved as I have. Practice makes better.


R: How was the publishing process this time around different from when you published Monster?

M:Self-publishing and Indie-publishing are very different. With Indie-publishing, the process isn’t entirely in my hands, and everything goes through the publisher, meaning I have a good deal of say – but not all of it. It’s easier for things to get lost in translation and it takes longer, but the novel ends up with more reach.


R: There are typically a few themes floating around in each of your novels; are there any we expect to identify in Paper Crowns?

M:*laughing* I get asked this so often. Not exactly, no; it doesn’t have any of the usual gritty or complex themes I like to explore. It’s a fairytale, which means it’s good versus evil – and that’s always a good thing, I think.


R: What keeps you inspired and in love with your writing?

M: This is such an interesting question. I’ve never fallen out of love with it, but I don’t do anything to stay ‘in love’ with it. My love for writing just ‘is.’ Sometimes I’m not in the mood to write, but sometimes I’m not in the mood to hang out with people I love. It works the same way. You have to give it time and attention, but I don’t necessarily ‘try’ to stay in love with my writing. I just do. Everything is filtered through my love for it.


R: The world of Faerie is quite beautiful and you describe it in such a way that the reader feels that they could actually be there without bogging us down with detail; you must have a visual for that. Where do you draw your aesthetic inspiration? 

M: I’ve never been fully satisfied with the worldbuilding in Paper Crowns, so I’m very glad you feel this way. I draw my aesthetic from usual sources, of course – Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ for instance, but I also drew inspiration from Neil Gaiman and Cornelia Funke. Not specifically, but the way they create and envision without constraint. I imagine the world of faerie as a giant curiosity cabinet, with pieces borrowed from everywhere. A piece of broken blue glass, a sea shell found on a beach, a button, a bone.


R: Are there any specific places you go to gather inspiration?

M: I find a lot of inspiration writing in coffee shops. Typical, I know; but the energy inspires me. As much as I love writing in seclusion, it’s refreshing to go where people are. The vibe is inspiring. Also, writing in front of a great view is wonderful.


R: What is your favorite thing about Paper Crowns? Character interaction, plot, world…?

M: The characters are always my favorite part of what I write. Every time.

R: It my favorite part of your writing, too. ::ignores the sound of her heart shattering::


R: What are your favorite personality characteristics of both Hal + Ginny?

M: I like Ginny’s stick-to-activity. She doesn’t take guff and she doesn’t give up, even when she’s in way over her head. As for Hal, I like how he manages to stay completely devoted to Ginny while keeping a very broad view of things. He doesn’t lose his focus.


R: Are there any writers or stories that inspired you to write the Paper series?

M: Diana Wynne Jones was a huge inspiration, although in an odd way – much of it was subconscious. It wasn’t until I went back and re-read the Howl trilogy that I realized how much of an influence she had really been.


R: Should Paper Crowns become a movie, who would play the main characters?

M: It’s the dream of every author, I think, to see their book become a movie. (A well-done movie, that is.) I would cast Birdy (the singer) as Ginny and Jin Yi-Han (R: 100% ready for the film) as Hal – he’s far older, but he plays younger characters very convincingly.


R: What was your greatest struggle in writing Paper Crowns?

M: There really wasn’t one. It’s the easiest novel I’ve ever written.


R: You’ve mentioned that there are going to be additions in the Paper series (personally, I’m stoked for Paper Hearts). Is there anything that ties them together (other than the location + characters) or can they be read independently from each other and still make sense?

M: They can be read independently, but reading them as a series would be more fun, I think. There are small nods, cameos, and references that would add a lot of enjoyment.


R: What is one quote or phrase that you think captures the feel + tone of Paper Crowns?

M: The quote I put at the beginning of the novel sums it up. ‘The world of faerie is a dangerous place.’ John Howe gave me permission to use said quote, for which I’m eternally grateful.

R: I will forever be jealous of your friendship with John Howe, honestly.


R: What is one lesson you’ve learned from writing and publishing Paper Crowns and will apply to future novels?

M: A) Indie publishing is just the next step toward traditional publishing, and B) don’t stress. This entire process has been exciting, but I’ve stressed about it so much that the excitement was dulled. It’s taught me to relax.


R: In 50 words or less, tell us something random you’d like us to know about Paper Crowns.

M: Hal’s accent is, in fact, a blend of South Korean (Busan dialect, specifically) and Scottish. No, I haven’t spent time talking aloud trying to figure it out, why?

R: I need the movie now so I can figure out what that sounds like.


Not convinced yet? Then I shall channel my inner-Ursula and cry over your poor, unfortunate soul. I don’t often recommend anything as highly as I recommend this book and supporting this starving artist. (Okay, well she’s not

Pick up a copy and you too can be this happy.

Pick up a copy and you too can be this happy.

starving, but still…)

Mirriam, thank you for your time + for sharing your skill with us! I’m still doting over my signed copy (this life is surreal) and really looking forward to your future novels!

Eternal love,

Rana || xoxo

• the creative vibe •

Ehh, what’s up, Doc?

[Written while sipping her mocha + caramel coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts.]

Labor Day Weekend •

I know it’s a bit late, but I really felt that I needed to add to the gender rights debate (although I feel that calling it a debate is putting it kindly as most rely on emotions to spur them on). So with that out of the way, I think we can move on to happier, less controversial topics.

Like cupcakes + photo shoots!

My favorite fellow ginger came to stay with us over Labor Day weekend and we had a blast. We decorated for autumn, blasted K-Pop over the speakers, made cupcakes (I say we – I mean I made cupcakes), and stepped outside for pictures.


I have a little story for you here.

Mom cleaned our baking cupboard a few weeks ago and I discovered that we were in possession of a cake decorating set. The feeling I had upon this discovery can be likened to that of finding out that you have a long lost twin and they were living in the basement you didn’t know you had.

Essentially, a m a z i n g.

For the cupcake recipe, click here.

For the frosting recipe, click here.

• the creative vibe •


Photo Shoot

So it’s not officially autumn, but it is autumn in my heart. I feel that it is now appropriate to dress the part.

*cue the purple eye shadow, plaid, black, + combat boots*

• the creative vibe •

IMG_4403 (2)

IMG_4406 (3)

IMG_4423 (1)



• Beyond Labor Day •

Since then, school has been metaphorically kicking my butt, but I am overcoming it. Or maybe not. I’m not sure anymore. Last night, I got bored, so I did algebra.

I’m not sure who’s winning.

I’m not even sure whose side I’m on anymore.

However, I did speak with my high school teacher yesterday and we struck a deal. Cookies for an A. She’s really quite the bomb diggity. This is the teacher that gave me all the points for a smart alec answer to a math question.

On the even brighter side, I made pumpkin bread + crumble topping.

For the recipe, click here.

• the creative vibe •

(It’s absolutely delicious with cream cheese!)

I also made a paleo pumpkin syrup for coffee! I find it’s best if you heat up the milk + syrup at the same time. That way, the spices dissolve a bit. Here’s the recipe for that.

• the muse •

My art class is entirely too long (3.5 hours every Wednesday) but it’s gotten me to do a little more than I normally would.

For homework, I had to draw some interior. I chose my side of the room my sister and I share. Hopefully, I’ll get that up sometime, but it’s on my USB which is currently not plugged in to my computer and I’m far too lazy to fish it out of my bag.

do have a non-homework sketch though!

Meet Luhan, ex-member of EXO (a pretty kicking K-Pop boy band).

• the creative vibe •

I need to fix his eye and mouth (mouths have always been a trouble spot for me artistically speaking and not so artistically speaking), but I’m pretty happy with how he turned out anyway!

His hair was fun. I really like drawing hair.

It might be because I have an affinity for my own head of the stuff, but h a i r, man.

Speaking of which, check out this video.

I nominate Stephen Colbert for president.


And now, I’d like to close by quoting a mischievous bunny: The-uh-the-uh-the-uh-That’s all folks!

Have a lovely rest of the week! You’re going to be swell!



clinging to summer

Happy Friday, darlings!

I know what you’re thinking. Rana. Summer. She’s clinging to it? Are you sick???? Fear not. This ginger tries her best to stay out of direct sunlight. I mean that I’m clinging to summer break. Because this is my senior year. My last year to stay home. I’m not ready for the new stage of life (or school in general). So I think it’s best if I could live in a land of eternal summer break.


This past week has gone fairly well. We’ve watched Leap Year and Decoy Bride, both of which I high recommend and laughed myself silly over. A dear friend of mine told me that Katie’s sense of humor (from Decoy Bride) reminded her of mine frequently. Amused? Highly. Comfortable with that? Not sure. And Amy Adams plays and adorably awkward, helpless, clumsy American romantic in Leap Year, so it’s essentially guaranteed hilarity.

Monday night…

…turned into alfredo sauce + pasta night. My brother (!) asked for the recipe and I told him it was a secret. Because I came up with a better recipe than last time and I’m not sure if I ought to release it yet… 😉

I decided that my dream is to own a company/restaurant called Luscious Noodles and I will sell alfredo sauce and/or delicious pastas. It will be the bomb diggity.

Alfredo Pasta | The Gingerling

Alfredo Pasta | The Gingerling

On Wednesday…

…we went to town, did some school shopping, thrift shopping at Clothes Mentor (I got an adorable floral dress), and craft shopping at Michael’s + Hobby Lobby! I have a million (read: 10) empty sampler tea tins from World Market and they were simply too cute to throw out.

So I did the natural thing: make candles out of them! Five are lavender scented and five are spiced pumpkin scented. We’re kind of huge into candles.

I guess you could call these… tea lights.

Candle-Making | The Gingerling Candle-Making | The Gingerling

Candle-Making | The Gingerling

Candle-Making | The Gingerling

Floral | The Gingerling Floral | The Gingerling


I made them dang candles (and a mess) as well as Chicken Cheddar Shells. Seriously, go to Publix, find the sample station, and grab that recipe + the Basil Pesto Salmon recipe – they are delicious! And yes. I’m a pasta fanatic. I know it’s not healthy, but life is short.

Chicken Cheddar Shells | The Gingerling


I made Fairy Bites; they taste like magic and hope. It might be because I used my Happy Unicorn Sprinkles… Either way, delicious and addictive.

Fairy Bites | The Gingerling

Fairy Bites | The Gingerling

Love always,


My Hand Lettering Process

Sorry for the radio silence! We’ve been driving all around the state, looking at colleges + universities last week. But I don’t want to talk about that now.

I want to talk art.

More specifically, I want to talk about hand lettering art! Now, I’m not assuming anything about you, but I know I can’t be the only awkward chick with no social life worth speaking of. So in case you’re looking for something to do between now and the apocalypse, here’s a peek at my hand lettering process because, I tell you, this is the bomb diggity.

What You’ll Need:

  • A quote
  • Scrap paper
  • Printer paper (or a nice piece of thick paper, depending on how professional you want your end result to be – just make sure you can see through to your scrap paper)
  • Pencils
  • Eraser
  • Ruler
  • Scotch tape
  • Marker/pen with a fine tip (I use Copic muti-liner in the size 3.0)
  • Colors (optional)
  • Imagination + Patience

The Process:

Step the first: acquire your scrap paper + quote and get sketching! There’s no right or wrong way to do this. Just do what you want until you like what you’ve got. I use the ruler to make sure my lines are straight. Make sure they’re evenly spaced too. Oh, and this might be the greatest time to give your progress a quick look-see and be sure you have all your words and letters. Yes, I have left out letters before…

What you can do to help eliminate that mistake is write your quote down at the top of the page and just keep checking to make sure you’re not missing anything.

My Hand Lettering Process | The Gingerling

Atomic Fireballs are optional, but a snack is never a bad idea. As nice as it would be to be known for dying a starving artist, I’m not sure if that benefit outweighs the cost, you know?

My Hand Lettering Process | The Gingerling

A dear friend gifted the pencil-miser, special pencils, fine-tipped markers, and colored pencils to me last Christmas and they (and she) are the bomb-diggity.

My Hand Lettering Process | The Gingerling

(TIP: Go to a fonts website – I like 1001 Fonts -, choose one you like and can copy by hand. Choose the option of looking at all the letters in your font of choice. From there, you can copy your quote with that font! And don’t be afraid to make some words bigger than others or use different fonts. A quick Google search can show you which pair of fonts look best together.)

Step the second: Outline with a fine-tipped pen. I used that Copic one.

Step III: Take your nice paper and lay it on top; make sure it’s directly parallel. You don’t want straight lines going semi-vertically across the page! Or do you? Now go ahead and tape your nice paper onto the scrap paper and begin tracing over that with either a pencil or a pen, depending on how confident you are in your tracing abilities.

(NOTE: If you’re worried the paper will rip, just slap the tape onto the back of your hand a couple times to take away some of the sticky-ness.)


Final Step: Add some quirky art! I usually outline in pencil (do it lightly so you can erase without burning a hole in the paper) and then go back over it in pen + color.

(NOTE: I’ve been revisiting this page for inspiration. But when you’re looking for doodles (or quotes), make sure you limit that time or you’ll never get anything done.


My Hand Lettering Process | The Gingerling

My Hand Lettering Process | The Gingerling

My Hand Lettering Process | The Gingerling

Other hand lettering pieces: Excuse the poor lighting/quality. These are already on my wall and I didn’t want to take them down.

My Hand Lettering Process | The Gingerling

I love the circular aspect of it. It just requires more time, patience, and imagination. 😉

My Hand Lettering Process | The Gingerling

My Hand Lettering Process | The Gingerling

My Hand Lettering Process | The Gingerling

And these are a million others.

And these are a million others.

If you decide to give hand lettering a go, I’d love to see it in the comments!

God bless and may you never be conquered by marauding vikings. Or geese.