Thursday, 20 July 2017

ideas from Pinterest || [hopefully] tragic dialogue!

Today I've got a [brief] collection of dialogue snippets from Pinterest. I've tried to form a theme, but I'm not terribly good with themes, so here they are: potentially/kind-of tragic dialogue snippets.



Of course, you could rebel and use these in an unexpected way, thereby making them completely-not-at-all-heartwrenching. E.g. if your character addressed the first one to a pizza. Or the second one. Or any of them, really.


"I've lost count of the promises I've broken for you."

"No. Not you. Anyone but you."

"This is highly irregular. They shouldn't have feelings."

"You here to finish me off, sweetheart?"

"Daddy, are we the bad guys?"

"You always smile like you're about to cry."

"The best way to keep a prisoner from escaping it to make sure he never knows he's in prison."
- Fyodor Dostoevsky, apparently? No idea who he was, though!

"We've been through a lot together, and most of it was your fault."

"Sometimes memories are the worst form of torture."

"You're not going to lose me, okay? I won't leave y-"

"It hurt once, but I don't feel it any more."

"Freedom doesn't feel like I thought it would."

"If anyone could have saved me it would have been you."

"I'm not sure when I knew you'd never forgive me."

OH I BELIEVE WE WERE TALKING HEARTBEAK??
hERE HAVE SOME QUICKSILVER

If these prompts are depressing, apply them all to food in some way!! don't worry! I promise that next time, my theme will be something along the lines of "EXPLOSIONS!!"

.....

"Battle the monsters in your closet and craft a beautiful poem from their remains."    <-- a little motivation from the CampNaNo emails. Because it's late and I'm tired and can't think of a good way to sign off. (that seems to be the standard situation whenever I'm blogging??)

Friday, 14 July 2017

#VoicesofYA tag

Jane at Maiden of the Misty Mountains has tagged me for the #VoicesofYA tag! Which is awesome, because I'd been watching it go around the blogosphere and sort of hoping someone would pick me. Thanks, Jane! ;)

What draws you to YA?
The fact that the characters are the same age as me? Roughly? Also, I feel like YA has more emotion or is more raw or interesting or something.

Describe your writing process. Do you like outlines and structure, or seeing where the story takes you?
In life, I love structure and knowing what to expect.

In writing, I once wrote a 20-page outline (okay, they were A5 sheets, but I was like thirteen) that had dissolved into a semi-first-draft, complete with dialogue, by the end. Annnd... that was as much work as the story got. Writing that had completely drained my need to write the story. (Which, considering the quality of the 'plot' and the unoriginal [read "copy-cat"] characters, was a good thing.)

Still, I WANT to plot, but I haven't found any methods that work?? Pantsing really grates on my structure-loving self and I panic whenever I try to think ahead?? Please help?!

How long have you been writing? Where are you in your journey?
I was thirteen when I started my first 'novel'. (I intended to to finish it, really I did... Instead it's the first in my folder of WIPs to finish when I figure out how to make them less flat and cliche.) (shh, don't tell them I said that; my children believe me when I tell them I love them all equally) So that was... over half a decade ago.

Now, I hope my stories are a bit better, but I'd still say I'm just starting my writing journey. I've started taking writing more seriously (I'm even trying to finish a first draft!...) but I'm still nowhere near publication or letting anyone else read my [partial] drafts. Just... no. For your own sake.

What do you need to write? Coffee? Music?
I don't drink coffee, I'm still trying to train myself to write while listening to music, and I don't snack while writing. (Writer Police: hi we're here to take away your license)

There are certain things that I need to write, though. I need to be in my room, at my desk, and no one else can be in the room. I'm just really fussy, I guess?? which isn't good if I'm away from home and need to work on my projects.


Good thing I don't leave my room much, right??

If you could offer one piece of advice to another writer, (OTHER THAN "don't give up"), what would it be?
Um... Well, something I wish I heard more is that my first draft will be junk and that's okay. I get really stressed about it. But everyone starts with a first draft, and no published author will let you read it. So my advice would be to not worry about the quality of your first draft; just finish it, and then you can shape and polish it.

What book still has you reeling from its plot twist?
Umm. I can hardly remember ANY significant plot twists. I don't know if that's because I read boring books, I just have a terrible memory, or I'm so smart nothing surprises me (obviously this is the reason).

However I probably should mention Jennifer Lynn Barnes' The Fixer - I did not see that twist about her parents.

What books are you most anticipating for this year?
I kind of... don't have a clue what's coming out this year?? I have no system for finding new books. (Except following blogs that talk about TBRs crushing them.) The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre came out this year, though, and I was waiting for that one!

In your opinion, which YA book/series has the most unique premise?


Help. I have no idea. (it's late + I'm unwell [of course I'm unwell it's week 2 of Camp hahaha]) Plus I'm always afraid of questions that say "MOST" or "FAVOURITE" or any other absolute sort of word. Because I know that once I answer the question I'll think of five other things that are better. (That's assuming I managed to answer the question at all and don't just freeze up. In this case, I just froze up. Whoops. I'll probably remember some books in time for answering comments.)

What is your all-time favourite quote from YA?
I read too fast to collect quotes. Actually, I'm sure I read some good ones - in The Fixer? The Lost Girl of Astor Street? The Wrath and the Dawn? SOMETHING I read recently, anyway. But I have no idea what it was.

Maybe I should read slower?

What book do you most hope will have a movie adaptation?
My first instinct is to say The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen. But when I think about it, that would probably be quite violent?? (THIS IS IN NO WAY AN EXCUSE FOR YOU TO NOT READ THE BOOK. It's not graphic, I promise. [Although the third book in the trilogy... I honestly have no idea how he manages to keep going.])

So instead I'd like the Ranger's Apprentice series. But not as a movie, unless they commit to doing one for each book. [None of that rot like "here's one movie of books 1-4 in a random order :) and Halt looks notHING LIKE IN THE BOOKS :) enjoy it :) :) :)"] Maybe a TV series would be a better option??



And I'm tagging two of my Camp cabin-mates, who started their own blogs less than a month ago! They've been part of a young writers' community, The Order of the Pen, for a long time (they were the ones who created it, too), so they should have some great writing advice coming up on their blogs! And other stuff, of course (no pressure, guys xD) I'm looking forward to seeing them answer these questions!

Sarah at Pen of a Ready Writer
Julian at Saver of Memories

You should definitely go check out their blogs. They're just starting, but they're going to be awesome :) *flaps hands at you*

Want to talk about books? writing techniques? random things? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Monday, 10 July 2017

Beautiful People #26 (my first time participating!)

Me: I should do a Beautiful People link-up post! talk about my characters to all the people who read my blog because apparently they have nothing better to do!
Me: *waits for post that isn't about family because my characters are all orphans*
Me: hooray new questions!
Beautiful People: today we're talking about you writers.
Me: ...
Me: close enough.

PAPERFURY


1. How do you decide which project to work on?


I shuffle through my folders and see which story captures my interest.
This may be the reason for the answer to Q2.


2. How long does it usually take you to finish a project?


Forever, apparently. At least - if we're talking novels - I haven't finished any yet. THIS WIP WILL BE THE ONE. (or not.)


3. Do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?


Sit at my desk, open laptop, stare at wall, rearrange desk so everything is lined up and at right angles, stare at wall, listen to Owl City, stare at wall, switch to Pinterest tab, don't write.


4. What time of day do you write best?


I would love to be a morning writer. Not early morning, but after breakfast. I could get my writing done, then move on to other important things. Like Life (let's just pretend I have one).

Instead, I procrastinate and then have to stay up until eleven at night (that's REEEALLY LATE, okay guys??) and get my writing done then.


5. Are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?


I don't think I've been writing long/intensely enough to have developed a style. I do love the dry, understated humour of some classic children's books... but I don't think I have that in my writing.


 6. Why did you start writing, and why do you keep writing?


BECAUSE AUTHORS ARE INCONSIDERATE AND HAVE NOT WRITTEN THE BOOKS I WANT TO READ.


7. What’s the hardest thing you’ve written?


Psychology assessments for university (I'm so glad I didn't continue that course)

Not to seem like a bad writer or anything, but if it's hard I kind of - leave? work on something else? or more likely forget writing altogether.


8. Is there a project you want to tackle someday but you don’t feel ready yet?


I have a heap of projects I started and then abandoned, with the intention of finishing them one day... that might count?

There was one I started and really loved the idea of, but it required more knowledge than I had about police procedure + hospital procedure + how do comas work? + how does amnesia work?? (If anyone has information about any of these, please comment and tell me!! It's set in Australia, though, so telling me about your sheriffs and PDs will be fascinating but unfortunately unhelpful.) It isn't exactly that I didn't feel ready; I just couldn't 'pants' my way through it, during NaNo, when important points rested on things I didn't know. (E.g. If a cop's girlfriend is under investigation for multiple murders, he's probably put on some temporary leave-thing, right?? But he had to be working on her case [up until she murdered his sister] because #plot more like #noplot. And what's the procedure for holding an amnesiac murder suspect in hospital?? Would they believe she has amnesia?? How severe can amnesia get, anyway, and what's that like??)


9. What writing goals did you make for 2017 and how are they going?


I didn't make a list of goals (maybe I should, next year? I might actually get something done??) But participating in April and July's Camps was certainly good... I think I'd like to finish the draft of Three Sisters (my WIP for both Camps) this year? Hopefully it will be going a lot better after July (and November, if necessary).


10. Describe your writing process in 3 words or a gif!




[I apologise for the grammar error. It wasn't me.]



So that's me + a few details of my writing life + my first time participating in the Beautiful People link-up! Want to talk about anything? Do we share any writing habits? (I hope not, for your sake.) Do you have some helpful advice or some information about comas or amnesia??

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Leibster Blog Award

A while back (I'm a Master Procrastinator), Gray at Writing is Life nominated me for the Leibster Blog Award.

 Now I had to look this up, because I'm still pretty new to blogging and all the traditions etc. But apparently the Liebster Award is "for new blogs and/or those with fewer than 200 followers, and [is] meant to motivate newcomers to the blogging community". "Liebster" means something along the lines of sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome - it's German. (That link also talks a lot about what the Liebster Award is for and what you do with it.)

Basically:
The Liebster Award is to share the blogging love - you're trying to get your readers to check out newer/lesser-known (but awesome) bloggers. When 'nominated', you can display some sort of award icon if you like. Write a post which -
    a) thanks [and talking up the blog of] the person who nominated you;
    b) answers any questions they asked you (and includes new ones for the next bloggers to answer); and
    c) nominates some relatively unknown blogs you think deserve more notice. (Don't forget to comment on their blogs and tell them!)

'kay. So. Gray is... awesome! She was the force behind the beginning of the #RebelliousWriting movement. She wrote a rant about how writers have to be readers to be good at their craft. She's sweet and replies really quickly to comments on her blog. She has an amazing singing voice, too, which I was fortunate enough to hear in a Q&A vlog. (Sorry, Gray, but it's true xD) If you haven't checked out Gray's blog - or joined the #RebelliousWriting movement (which is getting its own website soon?) - then you should definitely go have a look! (And then come back, obviously...)

*flaps at you*

And Gray asked me eleven fascinating questions!

--{1. What is your biggest pet peeve?}--





(I apologise for any trauma that may have been suffered as a result of these images; however, I refuse to take any responsibility.)

--{2. What is one of your favourite things?}--
My laptop? I mean, for a long time I didn't have much access to the amazing (and also really frightening) thing called 'the internet' unless I was using it for school. I am pleased that I no longer have to keep all my secret stories stuff on a USB because #littlesisters.

--{3. Do you have a song stuck in your head? If so, which one?}--
At the time Gray tagged me, Fireflies and Vanilla Twilight.

Now, Fireflies, Vanilla Twilight, Fuzzy Blue Lights, The Saltwater Room, Dental Care (so punny!), On the Wing, and My Everything. I refuse to apologise: I have a lot of catching up to do.

(Anyway, I only know the lyrics to Fireflies [and it's ANNOYING when I have one of the others stuck in my head and I can't sing along]. I'm not obsessed. *coughs*)

--{4. What is your favourite book from this week?}--
I'd like to say Legend by Marie Lu or The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine. But I read them last week.

The only book I've actually read in the last seven days is How to Speak Dragonese by Cressida Cowell. (I preferred How to Train Your Dragon. And I haven't seen the movies.)

--{5. What is your favourite movie from this week?}--
Kung Fu Panda 2. It's also the only movie I've watched this week. (It's still really funny, though.)

But my brother borrowed my copy of The Hobbit [book], and now he's on The Lord of the Rings (even though he normally reads non-fiction), so I'm hoping I can watch the Hobbit trilogy with him! Sometime! Not sure when! Gotta love tertiary study!


 --{6. Do you have a favourite YouTuber? If so, who?}--
I'm actually not sure as to the definition of YouTuber, but I love listening to Peter Hollens, Owl City and the Piano Guys; I also love Studio C.

--{7. White, milk, or dark chocolate?}--
Milk. 

White chocolate is not chocolate. I don't care if it's with raspberries in a cheesecake. It isn't chocolate. And dark chocolate is 'adult chocolate'. At least in my experience, kids don't like it. (I am not an adult. I am a kid.)

...But of course, if someone's handing out white or dark chocolate, will I say no? Of course not. (If for no other reason, then because if I do, my siblings will have had more treats than me. I know. I am pettiness personified.)

--{8. What is your favourite word?}--
My- WHAT? of all the words in the world, I have to pick one?? Based on what??
THIS IS NOT A NICE QUESTION GRAY. 



--{9. Do you have a secret talent?}--
I can wiggle my ears. And raise either eyebrow independently of the other. These talents are actually quite useful on quests.

--{10. Who is the first person that comes to mind when you think "weird"?}--
Myself.

Is that weird?

*doesn't answer my own question*

--{11. Would you rather be super famous or rich and unknown? Why?}--
Rich and unknown. That way I could help people who needed it, without the gossip magazines questioning my motives and saying dirty things about me in general.

Also, if I was super famous, I would have to talk to hoards of people. PEOPLE. (Introvert talking here...)
ugh people
I mean they can be great but sometimes they get a bit much irl.
especially in large bunches.



Now there are a heap of amazing bloggers out there, floating in the blogosphere, waiting for people to realize their amazingness...

But I'm not much of an explorer. I like my comfortable circles.
And even when I do find a new blog, I tend to follow + read + basically stalk + not comment. Which means the blogger doesn't actually know me. So having me rave about them would feel weird.

Still, here are some fairly new blogs that you should all go check out (if you haven't already) because they're pretty awesome: 

The Florid Sword: Faith started blogging around the same time I did - March this year - but she posts more consistently than me, so her blog feels more 'developed'. ;) She blogs about writing and faith in the real world and music. (and musicals. she'd love to talk to you about Hamilton.)

a surge of thunder: Andrea's first post was in February this year. She writes about writing and raves about reading, which is of course awesome, because those are VERY IMPORTANT topics.

Audrey Caylin: Audrey started blogging in October last year. She writes encouraging posts about life and posts about writing (I'm starting to see a pattern here??) And she just had a blog makeover, which looks amazing.

So, girls, I'm passing the Leibster Blog Award to you.
Here are a few blog-related questions I'd love to see you three answer! 
1. Why did you begin blogging?
2. What blogs inspired yours when you were starting out?
3. What's your blog's 'theme'? (whether topics, visuals, aesthetics, sense of humour...)
4. What fictional character would be your arch-nemesis? (HAHAHA NO I NEVER PROMISED A THEME TO THESE QUESTIONS, YOU MUST BE MISTAKEN)


And of course I'd love to see anyone else answer these questions in the comments!

Thursday, 29 June 2017

ideas from Pinterest - for superhero stories!


I didn't mention in my Writer Stag post, but I've recently started writing superhero stories as well as fairy tales and contemporary runaways. ('Superhero' is totally a genre, 'kay??)

So here is the superhero/villain-themed next installment (first post here) of 'ideas from Pinterest'. I have scoured that soul-sucking site for months, gathering the required information/ideas for this semi-series of posts... do not waste my labours.

(does anyone here actually write superhero stories?)

Edit: As Lisa points out in the comments, mixed-gender roommates would be very non-standard. If you want the dating twist - which is not required, it might be nice to have a story without romance - you could have a mixed-gender student share house.

--{well I'm not going to walk there}--

"You can ALL fly and I'm the only one who can't. Can you not argue about who's going to carry me while I'm standing right here??"

--{...insurance rates}--
"You superhero types are constantly driving my insurance rates up with your destruction. I wouldn't complain [much] if you were at least fighting supervillains, but you're usually just fighting each other!"
(definitely the [disguised] superhero's new landlady!)

--{is it possible you had a pre-existing condition?}--
"I volunteered for a super-soldier program and I'm the only one that's shown any abilities in response to the drugs. Now you're trying to tell me I was in the placebo group??"

--{should have picked someone else}--
"You took me hostage for your bank robbery but you should probably have picked aaanyone else. *telekinetically trolls them until they turn themselves in to the police*"


--{terrible at this secret identity thing}--
"Once we caught you climbing in the window of our mutual office?? No, sure, that's a compleeetely plausible reason. If anyone asks, we'll tell them you were here and working hard. With your dorky glasses and crazy broad shoulders and mysterious scrapes and bruises, of course you're just a regular office worker! *coughs*"


--{behind-the-scenes crew, couldn't have done it without you}--
"You're a superhero, which is awesome, but as your best friend that leaves me with a lot of responsibilities. Doing your homework. Forging sick notes from your parents. Fetching bundles of clothes from behind bins in alleys. Carrying a spare costume everywhere. Oh, and the washing. Being your best friend is actually a lot of work?? and I hope you appreciate that."


--{best friends?}--
"No, I don't want a chocolate, I just watched you take them from that girl scout - no, I'm not mad you didn't come to my birthday party, I'm perfectly aware you were in jail, I put you there - yes, I received your gift, and returned it to the museum - that's someone else's coffee, I don't want it and just stOP ACTING LIKE WE'RE BEST BUDDIES OKAY"


--{when your power is public knowledge}--
"I was born with the facial birthmark signifying superpowers and I have to put up with supervillains harrassing me, I shouldn't have to- no, no autographs - you don't approve of superheroes? too bad, lady - I will not demonstrate anything in the shopping centre - all I wanted was eggs would you people leave me alone."

--{maybe would have preferred not to know?}--
"Recently I've gained the ability to tell when someone is lying. You've been my best friend from childhood, but everything you're saying to me - even your name - is a lie. What's up with that??"

--{not the intended outcome}--
"You told me there would be no side effects."

>--{danger levels}--
"I can measure how dangerous people are just by looking at them - regular kid is 1, trained man with an assault rifle would be about 7. You're the new kid at school and you don't look like much but you're a 10??"

--{first time getting shot}--
"Exactly how and when did you find out you're bulletproof?"

--{family dinners}--
"Family dinner night again, and Mum's posted bail (our latest showdown got you arrested, but to be fair, you'd just melted a museum) so we can have - and I quote - 'a civil, sisterly conversation, at the table instead of flying around dressed in spandex'."




Plus a random slightly relevant?? driblet from my recent life:
I was playing chess (circular chess, actually, with three people) and my brother said he should have archers?? So I replaced my bishops with Hawkeye tokens?? Sadly I'm the only one in my family who knows that kind of stuff... so no one said I see what you did there. :(



Which of these was your favourite? Do you write superhero stories? Do you want to talk about a completely random thing?? (or maybe circular chess?) (and SOMEONE please tell me you see what I did there ;)

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Blog tour for teen author Emily Mundell's debut novel!!

I'm super-excited, because today, I'm participating in a blog tour for a teen writer's new book! 

Emily Mundell has written a fantasy novel called The Sorceress and the Squid. Now today is the third day of the blog tour, so you've maybe seen all the cover and synopsis and stuff already? Yes? No? ...just in case you haven't, I shall put it all right here!  

That's right, I have ALL THE THINGS, here for your convenience!!




Synopsis!   And cover!
In the magical land of Perth, divisions between the Old Kingdom and the New have waged for centuries. The humans have long harbored a mistrust of the spell-casting Fae, and vice versa. In the midst of this conflict, Estrella the Sorceress lays waste to the Training Academy for Human Warriors, making an enemy in the soldier, Jalen. During their standoff, Jalen is turned into a squid and Estrella, unable to restore him to his original form, takes pity on him and travels west across the Sea to bring him to the Wizard in hope he can be saved. But is there more to the unrest in Perth than meets the eye?


P1130191.jpg

Author bio! With picture!
Emily Mundell is a 19 year old author, artist, horsewoman and lover of the wonders of the wide world. She hails from the Great White North of Canada and has spent her life growing up in the heart of rural Alberta in a close-knit farming community - though she has often entertained fantasies of inhabiting the Shire.

Writing is her true passion – though horses and art take a close second. With fantasy as her primary genre, Emily has been writing stories since the tender age of eight when she finished her first “book.” She is currently working to complete her Creative Writing Certificate through the University of Calgary. An avid bookworm, true country-mouse, and unconventional tree-climber, Emily can usually be found on a horse, working on one of her half-dozen projects, chasing a loose cow, or being swept off her feet by the man she calls her own personal “hobbit.”




Emily's social media links!
Links where you can buy the book and/or read reviews!

(these ones are really important! click them! click them!!)


I also have two special things you'll only get on this blog!!


#1: My review. 
(Okay, so it's also on Goodreads...)

[I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Because seriously - even though I haven't written a review since I was last forced to in high school - maybe I should do more? because free books. *can't believe I didn't know this was a thing*]

The book: You know how e-books - particularly indie published e-books - are filled with formatting errors often enough that you now cringe at the thought of reading one? No? It's just me? (Fine.) But this book, THIS BOOK DID NOT. Words were not split across lines. There were no glaring typos. Formatting was consistent. Perhaps those are rather petty things to judge a book by, but you don't know what it means for my opinion of a book. I began The Sorceress and the Squid expecting the usual e-book problems, and it didn't have them.

The characters: Estrella, a sorceress, and Jalen, the warrior she turns into a squid, alternate POV. I'm not going to try to describe them for you; I'm going to give you quotes.

Estrella:
"It was a lovely morning for war-mongering." (First line. I mean, this is obviously a fascinating narrator voice.)
Second page: "Her attempt to stick her nose beyond the pages of her books was going very poorly."

I identify so much with the second quote... and it's even better because it comes so soon after the first one.

Jalen:
"Jalen grimaced - if a squid could grimace -"
"He tried to shrug, but realized quickly that was beyond his squid abilities."
"He made a low whistling noise, or tried to. It ended up being sort of a bubbly sound. Apparently squids couldn’t whistle."

I just love the whole frustrated-warrior-is-now-a-talking-squid thing. xD
The plot: I expected the plot would be simply a quest to find the Wizard, and I was concerned that the strain of holding that up for an entire novel would bring out the quest cliches. I was wrong, for two reasons:
1. Estrella complained enough about carrying the jar (fairly, I think, as it would have been terribly awkward) that the quest-journey flew past. Characters bickering and being snarky = yasss.
2. The journey ended; they got to the Wizard's island; and I thought, oh well, it's been a nice read - not terribly complex, but nice.  And then- >>betrayal!<< (I can't give any more details because spoilers.) And I realised I was only half-way through. In the second half there's battles and new friends and tragedy and hope and magical duels and awesome stuff. (That's so vague. How do people even write good reviews without putting spoilers through the whole thing??)

The ending felt both a bit rushed, and satisfyingly true:

 - I thought some some details could have been emphasised more - I took a while to figure out that >>Estrella was going to train Jalen<<, for example. And I thought it could have been more clearly stated that >>Jalen could do magic now too<<, although I suppose the circumstances made it obvious. Emotionally, I felt like Estrella and Jalen weren't quite ready to finish? She was still struggling, and he'd had a whole new element added to his character.

 - Honestly, though, I think the ending for Estrella would have felt faked if that (spoilers!) had been somehow fixed? And it's so sweet that he's sticking around and helping her. (That last scene in the rain... adorable! *mushy heart eyes*)

The setting: I WANT ESTRELLA'S HOUSE, OKAY? It's on the top of a mountain, on the other side of a slightly magic forest, and it's a one-room building with lots of clutter and cupboards and a wall and a half of bookshelves. I could see it... and I'm terrible at picturing setting. Other settings include a boat and a semi-magic island - which were cool - and a battlefield, which I got a little confused over. But I typically get confused about setting, so...

Content: Magic and some battle scenes (nothing too graphic).

Adored: Estrella, Jalen, Estrella + Jalen, Estrella's house, her grumbling about carrying Jalen in the jar, Jalen being alternately "yep I'm a talking squid!!" and "nope squids don't talk haha that's ridiculous why would I talk??", the brief appearance of a magic carpet, the hopeless goblin gang, and the Gollum-like creature. Also the ending was sweet/bittersweet.

Complaints: There was a bit about handholding that I thought could have been drawn out into more of a plot point. ...Okay, maybe I mostly wanted them to hold hands a bit more... but it still could have been a great plot point! I was picturing them >>standing on a hill holding hands and fighting the battle with their free hands<< , and I was a bit disappointed that never happened... ;)

Mostly, though, this book was at times sweet, snarky, heart-wrenching, and funny. (I mean, when they were waylaid by goblins, Estrella zapped their bottoms.) Four out of five squids spellbooks.


#2: A character interview with sorceress Estrella! 
(I took quite a risk with this... she mentioned some quite gruesome things she's done to humans...)

JEM: Today I have a special guest: Estrella the sorceress! And before I go any further, I should probably mention – Estrella, I look human, but that’s because my other form struggles with typing. So... we’re good? I’ve heard you’re not too fond of humans... 

ESTRELLA: Recently I've become a little more open-minded, though I am only particularly fond of one human. I will take your word for it, though I'd be interested in seeing your other form when this questioning is all said and done.
I too look like a human, despite my magical abilities. I can forgive this in you as well.

JEM: Now, you live in the kingdom of Perth, on a mountain. In a cluttered little house with a wall and a half of bookshelves. If that’s not awesome I don’t know what is. Do you leave your home much? 

ESTRELLA: I didn't used to hardly ever – except to pay the Wizard a visit of course. I had few friends and still do. Honestly, who needs them when you have books? I get out a little more these days, which is a bit ironic but that's another matter...

JEM: Books are better than the real world, I agree! How long have you lived here? 

ESTRELLA: I'm glad we see eye-to-eye. I have lived on this mountain 102 years, before that I trained with the Wizard on his island.

JEM: Do you see other people – Fae, I should say – often? 

ESTRELLA: Occasionally, when they need me. I'm known as a bit of a healer around these parts and the Fae often come to me for spells or potions.

JEM: Who are your closest friends? 

ESTRELLA: Certainly I have been friends with the sailors, Aryn, Jonnan and Dariela the longest. After them, Mila the tree-spirit and Kyra the wood-nymph. I believe that our shared experience brings Jalen and I closer than anyone though.

JEM: That's to be expected. *grins* I'm sure Jalen, for one, will never forget that experience. How do you spend your time? 

ESTRELLA: He'd better not forget! I went through a lot of trouble for him. I spend a lot of time reading, naturally. There are many days up in the mountains where nothing exciting really happens. I also practice my magic – to a level of perfectionism, perhaps. When I am good at something I tend to do it extensively, especially magic as it has always been the most stable and secure part of my life, a bit ironic I know. Nowadays I spend more time with people than I would normally have liked, but I am learning to enjoy that too.

JEM: You say you spend a lot of time reading – have you read all these books? What are they about? 

ESTRELLA: All my books? Heavens no. I am a collector and do so obsessively, but I do not always have time to read what I have found. I have read perhaps ¾ of my collection. Many of my books are books of spells which require, slow, careful and deliberate study as you read. I confess I have not gone through them all yet. Someday I will manage this.

JEM: Of course, spellbooks would need careful study – you wouldn't want to misread a spell.*coughs* But I'm sure you'll get through them someday – perhaps with your pupil! What spell do you use the most? 

ESTRELLA: Yes, bad things can happen when you misread or misquote a spell. Telekinetics is the most practical use for spells. There are plenty of times when I am in the thick of something and do not want to or cannot make the effort to grab a necessary item. It is especially great in battle. Telekinesis takes only the energy that you would use to lift the item physically, so if it is a regular item, perhaps the size of a book, then it is not hard at all. If I wanted to lift a boulder I could, but that would use an excessive amount of energy.

JEM: I have to ask... have you ever made yourself a cup of tea telekinetically so you didn't have to stop reading? 

ESTRELLA: Of course! I have done this several times. Unfortunately the mental energy it takes to make the tea ends up distracting me from my reading anyway, but at least I can stay seated and cozy in my chair.

JEM: It sounds like telekinesis is a regularly useful spell! What spell do you wish you had more excuses to use? 

ESTRELLA: *chuckles* Oh, there are so many of these. Some simply because they inspire amazement and require such skill. Some because they are fun. I did enjoy shooting electric currents at goblin bottoms on our quest. That was thoroughly satisfying. Also, telepathy. It is a strange phenomenon to be inside someone else's head and I do not always like it, but it is also very interesting and there are many times I wish I could understand them better. I do not use this spell on principle, I do not believe it right to poke around in the minds of others.

JEM: That's good of you. I never even thought to be concerned about what you might be doing to me right now... What’s the worst thing – or spell – you could do to someone? 

ESTRELLA: Hmm, this is a difficult question. There are many I think that would be awful. I can inflict a curse of extreme itchiness that does not abate for even a moment, driving the victim mad with it. Using telekinesis I can do many horrible things like peeling flesh from bone...I have done terrible things with fire...things I would rather not discuss.

JEM: ...oookay. Sorry I asked. *moves a little further away* Where do you see yourself in five years? 

ESTRELLA: I do not see much change in my life, especially in the sum of five years, what a short time! Of course for a human that is a good many years and a lot can change. Once you have lived a century or more, five years becomes a short span. I suppose in five years I may have mastered new magic techniques and that will be a development. I may have trained my pupil quite a bit better as well.

JEM: And a fun question to finish! If you, hypothetically, got mad enough to turn someone into an animal, hypothetically, what animal would you pick? 

ESTRELLA: Seeing as I have already experimented with a squid (which is a thoroughly inconvenient animal to spellcast a person into, let me just say), I think I would go with something that can walk on
its own legs. Perhaps a dog, I do like dogs. Or, better yet, a horse or something that could carry me instead of me carrying it! Yes, I think that would work well.

JEM: Something you don't have to carry does sound like a good plan. I see you're all sorted out for next time someone annoys you! 
 
ESTRELLA: Hopefully I won't have to go through that same situation ever again, but yes, I will try to do it more conveniently next time.

JEM: Thanks for the interview, Estrella! Best wishes for your pupil's training... and for your efforts to enjoy spending time with people. (Reading would be easier, but persevere!)




Now if you're following the blog tour, here's the schedule for the week:

(I am so helpful :D)

Blog Tour Schedule graphic.jpg
Estrella wanted to know what I look like in my non-human form.
Don't judge. We can't all secretly be dragons.



Have you read The Sorceress and the Squid? What did you think about my interview with Estrella? Want to talk about the book? Comment!
 

Sunday, 11 June 2017

#RebelliousWriting: *scrubs YA MC's mouth out with soap*

Gray over at Writing is Life has started a thing, guys. And if you haven't heard about it yet, I'm proud to present to you: The #RebelliousWriting movement

YA is full of rubbish we really don't want to read about. 
Media presents immoral behaviour to teens as normal; teens think it must be normal; media says "see? that's realistic! it's how they are! they need more!!". It's a vicious cycle.  
As YA readers, we need better. As teen writers, we can do better. Let's push back.


Today I'm writing about swearing in novels - why it's unnecessary, or if not, how to get around it. (Side note: does anyone know how YA compares to adult fiction for rates/intensity of swearing?? because YA is. so. bad.)


To start with, a dictionary definition: 
Swear (v): use obscene or blasphemous language; use a profane or indecent word in anger etc. 

I've grown up surrounded by people who don't swear, but as far as I can tell, these are the reasons for swearing (feel free to correct me): 
1. To blaspheme God, address some obscenity to Him, or similar. 
2. To abuse someone by calling them obscene words. 
3. To shock listeners by the vulgarity. 
4. To be 'cool'. 
5. As an intensifier. 
6. Because they simply don't realise they're saying it anymore [and mean next-to-nothing by it].


Now let's look at novels - specifically the characters, the readers, and the author.

Good guys first. Are any of those six actual good reasons for your good-guy characters to swear? (In my opinion, no.)  
Why does your (supposedly good!) character need to say that word? 

A reason we're often given is that they're in great pain/danger/stress, and it's realistic for them to swear. 


I don't agree.

Let me tell you about my dad. He's a hardworking and loving Christian. At various times, he has: cut the tip off a finger (more than once), been kicked by a bad-tempered cow, blasted air into a cut with a compressor (his whole arm swelled up and it felt/sounded like bubble wrap when we poked it), burnt himself in various ways, watched a nurse dig around in his wrist with tweezers for a shard of metal ("Here it i- nope, that's a tendon"), and set his jeans on fire while welding (no joke)

At no time have I ever heard him swear. 

So when people say people tell me their characters need to swear to be realistic? I just wonder why they can't write good characters. Sure, people struggle. That's how we are, and your characters should struggle too (with different things, depending on their strengths and weaknesses). But have them trying to do the right thing, please?? Maybe have them biting their lip to keep bad words coming out?

If a character swears because he's broken his leg, isn't he actually abusing God for letting that happen?? Or else he's simply using that word as an intensifier, which seems to me unnecessarily profane, and quite dangerous morally. 

Children and teens will (sadly) encounter bad language. They may be tempted to copy it. This is realistic to portray in fiction, especially if your character is a young person whose 'friends' are leading her astray into rebellion. As long as you show this is wrong, I think it could be appropriate to do something like this: 
Filled with heat, Jess spat out a phrase she'd heard Mack use - often, and to great effect.
Her mother's face cracked.
"No- I didn't mean-" Jess sucked in a breath, the cold shame and horror which flowed off her mother filling her gut.
This isn't swearing "to make the character realistic"; this is part of a larger theme, rebellion against parents. (Which is also ungodly and we see far too much of it, okay? Dunno about you, but I couldn't bear to break my loving parents hearts. We can be teenagers without being rebellious; our characters can too. Possible future #RebelliousWriting post.) You'll also notice I did not actually swear in my example; I'll talk about that after going over your other characters: 

Bad guys. Yes. Realistically, the villains - or the bad kids at school - will swear. We don't swear because we're Christians, children of God, but obviously people without those beliefs won't be inhibited by the moral code that comes with them.  
I understand if you feel your bad guys would swear. But.

Consider your readers.  Are they 'bad guys'? Possibly. Probably not. Probably they're just struggling with the world's lies, like all of us. Help them out here.  Don't reinforce the world's lies of what's acceptable and normal! Your readers don't need you to feed them bad language.

Where your villains insist it's necessary/in character for them to swear, try saying exactly that: "[X] swore." That's simple, helps us to know that's a bad guy, and doesn't extend the wrong vocabulary. Plus, it's a nice short sentence that will add variation to your sentence structure! ;)
You can use other phrases. "Said a bad word". "Said something my mother'd take a bar of soap to my mouth for". "Abused his gods" (for fantasy). "Cursed him and his family line and the day he was born". Anything like that. 
"Mr Villain swore hard enough to strip paint, and Charrie flinched."
Also, consider your own soul. Your writing affects you as much as it affects any reader
 -- maybe more, because you study it, labour over it, spend your life on it. (Audrey Caylin wrote a post which discussed that a bit: {STORIES ARE POWERFUL}.) If you put bad language in your novel, you're hurting yourself as well as your readers.

And if an author is relying on swear words to make their characters/story "interesting"? That's completely lazy writing.


Just letting you know: as a reader, I have no problem with 'regular' characters not swearing, and writers leaving the villains' swear words out. Say "He swore", and I won't complain it's unrealistic, and I will be able to tell that's a bad guy, and that will be one tick for you on my checklist for whether I'll recommend your book! 


Did this post make sense? What do you think about swearing and all that stuff in YA? Readers + writers - I'd love to hear your opinion! And are you getting involved with the #RebelliousWriting movement? (hint: you should!) 

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

About character journaling (as promised)


 A few people asked for a post on character journaling when I mentioned it a while back. Since it's just something I do - I think I got the idea from a GoTeenWriters post?? - I decided to do some research so I'd have a little more knowledge [before I pretended to talk about it like I actually knew].

Turns out I don't do character journaling?

Google won't define any of these terms for me (I'm ashamed of you, Google), and keeps giving me results about journaling's health benefits for your personal character, but as far as I can tell these seem to be the meanings of various terms:

Character journaling: Keeping a diary as your character.
Character interview: Pretending you're sitting opposite your character and asking them questions.
Character questionnaire: Hair/eye colour, family members, age, all that important and yet really boring stuff.
Voice journaling: Ask a question every so often, and your character answers it and just continues in a stream-of-consciousness sort of thing?

I find the questions in questionnaires (and possibly interviews, depending) good to know the answers to, but not useful for finding a character's personality. Is there a reason blue is his favourite colour? It's possible - but personally, I don't have a favourite colour or a reason behind that. And character journaling might be a good way to find out about your character, but I don't have the motivation or patience to write a whole book just to find out that my main character actually doesn't like all the travelling they've been doing, because of their insecurity and that one thing that happened (involving their family) when they were small. Or some such detail.

For investigating a character's personality, I use what one source called 'voice journaling'. [Seems like a cross between interviewing and journaling??]

I get a piece of paper and write a question at the top. "What's your relationship with your mother?" is a handy one, despite my cringing every time I use it ("So tell me about your mother!"). I have dug up so much family/political dirt with this one. (In my excuse, I was interviewing various members of a scheming royal family, so it was relevant.) Once 'the character' starts answering, I try not to overthink, but to keep writing and go with the flow - wherever feels right. Sometimes what comes out will clash with a previously-thought-out background detail, but I usually find I like the new version better. Other times, I simply get more ideas for rounding out the character.

Here's my standard list: 
    *spends half an hour trying to find list in mountains of paper* 
    *possibly a sign I've been procrastinating writing for too long??*
  • What's your relationship with your mother/father like?
  • Who was your first love? 
  • What do you think about [Character B]? [good for getting an insight into your main character from a fresh pair of eyes, or exploring a supporting character further.]
  • What is your greatest fear? 
  • What is the trait you most deplore [in yourself/others]?
  • Which living person do you most admire? [interesting in a fantasy world... requires thought into worldbuilding! Is it an author? A scientist/inventor?? An athlete???] 
  • What do you dislike most about your appearance?
  • What quality do you admire most in a man? In a woman? 
  • What is your greatest achievement? 
  • What is your greatest regret? 
  • How would you like to die? [this actually sounds a bit ominous?? especially coming from the author??]
  • What is your motto? 
  • What is the most evil thing you've ever done? 
  • Who or what would you die for? [I use this one a lot.]
  • Do you like yourself? 
  • What is your responsibility to the world? 
  • Is it acceptable for you to cry? 
These are my favourites I copied off a bigger list somewhere. I have the memory of someone living in a house full of nesting Silence and have no idea where. 

I use them like so:
Who or what would you die for?
In a professional sense, my job is literally to die for Torr [country] or Queen Melanie, if dying is called for. As Double Sir Benjamin Doyle, personal guard to Her Majesty Queen Melanie, and a knight of Torr, I defend them both with my life; and if ever there is a situation where either the queen or I must die, Torr or I must fall, by my honour I will gladly die. And if they are ever in danger, it is my duty to place myself between them and the sword. In a personal sense, on the other hand, I am very fond of Ma and my  adopted sister. For them I would do a lot; but I'm not sure if I could die for them. If they were in mortal danger I certainly would rather die in their place, but the problem is, I can only die once. As long as I'm fighting I can protect everyone, but when I come to die, I can only do it once and then I'm gone. And I have a responsibility to Torr and Queen Melanie, and I don't fully trust anyone else to replace me. Especially not as Melanie's guard. No one understands her like I do. May I never be in a situation where I have to choose. I know I must place my loyalty with queen and country. However, if some blackhearts had a knife to Ma's throat and had refused all negotiations and offers of duels, demanding that I surrender and be killed in exchange for her life, I can't imagine saying, "Sorry, Ma," and walking off. Or with Lyndie [adopted sister] either. I suspect that - unlike in theory - I would die for whichever of the four might need me first. And another problem is that once I've been killed, I can't defend them any longer, or make sure the killers don't just slit their throats as soon as I'm out of the way. I suppose the cause of that problem is that I have an extremely limited number of people I trust - and they're the ones I'd die to protect.
[I'm sure that was an annoying large chunk of we-don't-really-care text. Sorry. This WIP is my baby - first serious novel (and still not finished O.O) - and Benny is one of my favourite characters. I like him better than the MC, actually...]

In this instance, I discovered something I could use in my plot: conflicting loyalties for a man whose life was to protect others, but didn't trust anyone else to do his job.



My characters often take the questions different ways. They lie, redirect, gloss over the truth, avoid the question, deliberately misinterpret the question, typically start by asking what business it is of mine anyway... and talk for a whole page. I discover new things about their personalities and backstories, who they love and who they hate. Villains typically do the evil gloat thing and then threaten me. One of my favourite characters (not the villain) threatened me too, actually, but it was on someone else's behalf, which shed a bit more light on his relationship/history with her. Another started his answer to "Who was your first love?" with "My first love is [his country] (I willfully misunderstand your question)"; he emphasized his loyalty/duty, but moved from that to his upcoming arranged marriage, showing that his mind was, in fact, on his first love [hint hint he's starting to suspect it's someone he's not supposed to be in love with. surprise.]

There are a few similar questions here at Gotham Writers - some the same as mine, some a little more questionnaire-y in feel. (Completely irrelevantly, I have no idea why you would call yourself Gotham Writers, but it sounds... brooding.) And the article I read about voice journaling is here - the extract from The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell is good.

Do you question your characters? Do they always cooperate and answer your questions properly, or do they lie and/or talk about something else? Have you ever been threatened by your characters?? I hope this was helpful!

p.s. is it journaling or journalling?? spell-check doesn't like either? not that I'm relying on the spell-check, of course...

Friday, 2 June 2017

May: it's over?? (no it isn't, go away)

Me: (approximately half-way through May) Huh look at that. Some bloggers are doing May recaps already!
Me: I don't need to worry about that yet, obviously. Those are the serious bloggers. No one expects me to be too organised.
Me: *internets a bit more*
Me: What day is it?
Calendar: 1 June.
Me: ...
Me: liar there is no way I missed May.

Unfortunately for me, it is, in fact, June. (Winter, and the cold's arrived right on time. Help.) And, May being over, I am to inform all you lovely [organised] people how I spent my time.






So my goal was to work on Three Sisters.

HAHAHAHA.

I wrote 500 words one day - when I couldn't bear the guilt - and ignored it every. other. day. I have been thinking about it, of course, but not as much as I should have been.

Part of me is whispering, "why are you even telling them that?!", and another part is retorting "accountability!!" quite sternly. That's why I'm telling you guys - so you can... what was it Kenzie said? *switches tab* Okay, and I quote: "If you fail [at your writing goals], everyone screams at you like a wild black-toothed banshee and stabs you in the left toe with a rusted metal pitchfork". [Seriously, follow Kenzie. She's one of the funniest writer-bloggers this side of the internet.] [Also seriously, please do not stab me with a rusted metal pitchfork. I happen to be extremely attached to my left big toe. Some stern words - or even banshee screams - would suffice.]

I don't know if you've noticed yet - I think I've done a pretty good job of hiding it - but I don't actually have a life?

I honestly have no idea what I've been doing. Which makes me very nervous when people ask. 


Read:  
Entwined (Heather Dixon). I LOVED THIS BOOK. Even though at times I was a leeetle thrown by the technology in the fairy tale (they talk about building an underground railway, for example, and have pistols), I decided it added character. And the romance[s]! *squees*

A heap of ebooks/novellas that were free on Amazon.
Most of them were - okay. Not great. One in particular was terrible - although I thought at the start it had potential, I just couldn't figure out what was going on... or why I should care. (I will not name it.) A few novellas of Jodi Hedlund were cute, and I read Fairchild's Lady by Roseanna M. White, who blogs on GoTeenWriters sometimes.

In Between (Jenny B. Jones). Free on Amazon, but really enjoyable! The narrator is snarky to cover her emotional vulnerability, and the characters jump off the page. My only complaint would be that the ending felt a bit off, but that's probably because it's the first book of a series.

At First Sight (Jennifer Lynn Barnes). An assassin falls in love with his target, who's the first person to look at him and actually see him - usually people's gaze slides right off. Five stars (although there's a few little uncorrected moral issues, such as petty theft). Someone recommended this and the book below, but I don't remember who.

The Winner's Curse (Marie Rutkosk). Another five-star book! If only the library had the rest of the trilogy... >.<

The Sorceress and the Squid (Emily Mundell). I got an ARC copy from the author! I GOT TO READ THE BOOK EARLY! *coughs* I mean, I am to write an honest review to help promote the book, which required me to read it before its release.
Watched:  
Agents of Shield: Season 2. Oookay. This is rated MA15 for good reasons. Torture (really made me wince), death (obviously), boy/girl stuff (can we leave it at kissing, guys??), and cutting up a dead body (that really freaked me out I was covering my eyes gross gross gross). There were good parts too, though. That Hydra double agent from season 1? That person totally got even creepier and started torturing/killing people for 'closure'! uhhh... not a good part, sorry. Well... FitzSimmons (my OTP!) finally decided to get their act together!! (actual good news!)

(actual bad news: -> straight after Fitz manages to arrange a first date, Simmons gets sucked into a rock, which promptly re-solidifies.<- NOT OKAY. [select to read]) And in other OTP news: my new OTP - Static Quake (Lincoln x Daisy) - has had a very promising start! (on the other hand, I've looked up enough Season 3 spoilers on YouTube... -> I LOVED LINCOLN why can't they let Daisy be happy, okay?!<- Yup.

Doctor Who: Season 8. Apparently I just needed a bit of a break between Eleven and Twelve? Because Twelve is actually quite good, in a bitingly sarcastic (but brittle) way.

Arrival - on recommendation from Faith. That twist - it made me rethink the whole movie (and I'm still not sure I got it?) But it's a brilliant movie and I loved the incredibly different structure of the alien language (and Jeremy Renner, of course... although I struggle to see him as not Hawkeye)

Amazing Grace. Rewatch because it's been ages. (And because when I first watched it I didn't know Benedict Cumberbatch.) (Not that I know him now, but I'm familiar with some of his wor- scratch that, I now know Benedict Cumberbatch.) BUT I FORGOT THAT WILLIAM PITT DIES IN THE MOVIE.

Music:
Owl City -Fireflies and Vanilla Twilight are my new favourite songs. I have been listening to them on loop and that's rare for me. 
2Cellos - Wake Me Up and Game of Thrones Theme. I haven't seen the show, but it's great music for my WIP. And Wake Me Up... watch it, okay?

[I should probably call this section my TBR additions, or something, but it tends to include movies, so I have no idea what to call it.]


Illuminae (Amie Kaufman), The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre (Gail Carson Levine), The Beautiful Pretender (Melanie Dickerson).

La La Land (is it okay? I mean, for those who've seen it, is it appropriate?)

The only real thing I have planned for May is to continue with Three Sisters. (Maybe this will be the story I finish??)

Oh. And I suppose I should do my assignment for my tertiary education thingy. It's Library Studies - and yet it's really boring??

Calendar: ... now it's June second. 
Me: