8/27/16

The Authors are Rising Tag

I have a big test coming up tomorrow and I wasn't really feeling the 'author interview' post (hey, I kept my word on the bunnies so that cancels this out, right? XP ) So it's time for another tag!


I just did a video interview, so I might be stretching it on the personal level, but this looked so much fun I just couldn't resist!

I was tagged by Rebekah @ Rebekah's Remarks. (thank you, Rebekah!)



Da Rules: (I will admit, "da rules" confused me on my first read)

>>Write a post thanking the person who tagged you; include the tag, the 11 questions asked, your answers, and in reply to the request of a small piece of poetry or writing, write a brief 150-word story.
>>At the end of the post, provide 11 new questions.
>>Request a brief 150-word story from the people you tagged.
>>Tag at least one person, and include a link to their blog.



DA QUESTIONS:


How long have you been writing? 

I've been writing for about five and a half years. (I started my first book when I was eleven.)

What made you decide to become an author? 
My big sister told me I should write a book, so I did. And I fell in love with writing and never really stopped.

Where do you find inspiration? 
I love to find inspiration wherever I can. In every day little things. In the sky and clouds and trees and the rest of the world around me. In the people I see in the stores, in the clothes they wear and the expressions on their faces. I love finding inspiration in music. (instrumental tends to be my favorite for bookish inspirations, but vocals are sometimes really good too.) There are so many other places to find inspiration, but I'll end with Pinterest. All the pictures just blow my mind, and I love the creative juices they kick into action!


What's a favorite quote from a book/story you've written? 
OH OH OH. Ohhhh. Okay so I have two. I will share them now.

"There is no freedom but death."

and

"She wished she could tear her heart right out of her chest. Maybe then, with it gone and done away with, things wouldn't hurt so much."

I know those are both, like ... really sad but I LIKE THEM OKAY??!?! DEAL WITH IT.


What's the title of the favorite story you've written?
Well, I haven't written that many stories. I don't think I can pick a favorite of the few I have written, but the most fun project I've ever taken on would be the first book I co-authored with my cousin. We titled it, The Call of Atlantis, and I love it so much!


Do you prefer writing in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person? 
I think my favorite will always be first, even though my WIP is in third. I just love how deep you can go into your character's head and how you almost become them as you write.


Who's an author you tend to write like?
I remember back when I first started writing and I read Percy Jackson and the Olympians. From that moment on, my sass tripled and really began to show in my writing. My first projects were like this, but my WIP is a much darker story and I'd say is more of a Suzanne Collins style, almost.


Do you write in short bursts fairly often, or several thousand words in one sitting but with larger breaks between sittings?
These days, I write several thousand words in larger sittings, generally. Usually at night. In my room. With the door shut and everyone sleeping. 


Have you ever had scenes (usually written late at night and discovered the next morning) when something happens in your story that you weren't expecting? If so, could you tell us what it was?
That would have to be the time I killed off a VERY IMPORTANT CHARACTER along with the one death I had originally planned. After I wrote the scene I kind of did a double take like, wait, so-and-so dies too??? WHAT? WHAAAAT? And then I wandered around in a confused author daze for a while and ate ice cream. 

What's an odd writing quirk you have?
*sniffles and cries because I am not interesting and do not have any quirky writing quirks*

What's the weirdest thing you've researched for a story?

UMMMMM. I don't ... know? I've had to do research on Russian accents, Russian fighting styles, tigers fighting, and a deaf child laughing. 


And...one last thing: Give us a peek into how you write by sharing either a 150 word story/poem or a snippet from one of your longer stories.
I'm a liiiiitle nervous about this one because I don't think I've ever actually shared any of my writing here? And I've been blogging for a little over half a year already (wow) so like...I think it's about time I share something. XP

Here you go! This is a song/snippet from chapter three of my WIP, The Thief's Conspiracy.

~~~

Bowing her head, she began the Hunter’s Lament.
“This day I take a life,
I beg to be forgiven.
I have no choice in this,
This sin I must commit.
Please, please, Fair Mother,
Shroud me not in death.
Forgive me,
Forgive me,
Forgive this cursed deed.”
Rissa finished the song with the usual, stupid tears in her eyes. She swiped them away with the back of her arm and covered the grave. Taking the other half of the arrow, she laid it on the top of the dirt and covered it with the rest of the soil.
She wiped her filthy hands as best she could in the grass. Dried blood and murder stained her skin, covered by the smeared dirt the grass could not wipe away.
She took the rabbit and, after placing it in the sack, headed back for the Festival grounds. The sun’s first rays broke out across the earth in warm greeting. The bag over her shoulder hung far heavier than it should have.
Forgive me.
If only she could set her arrow on Greer instead of the innocent creatures of the forest. How much easier her life would be.

~~~


Okay so, that was a liiiitle bit longer than 150 words but oh well. I hope you liked it! (This is also part of what was sent to HarperCollins *screams*)

*EDIT* I completely forgot to tag people. *face palms* I'm going to tag five, like Rebekah. If I didn't tag you, and you want to do it, please feel free to do so! <3

I TAG: 






If I tagged you, no worries. I'd love to see you do it, but you don't have to! And you can answer the same questions I did because I'm too lazy to think up more. Please do comment to let me know you saw this, though. If not, I'll come find you *innocent smile*

Enough about me. What about you guys? How long have you been writing? What's the title of your favorite story you've ever written, or the most fun? What's the weirdest thing you've ever had to research for a project? 

<3

8/25/16

An Interview with Petra Reini

I come with a very special post for this Thursday! I was wondering around in a totally random BooksAMillion when I just happened upon a young girl who I happened to know. And, of course, I just happened to have a list of questions to ask her so I could record her geniusness and share it with you all.

So I bring to you a video interview of the lovely Petra @NovelingNovelties! (And me. You can see my face (sorry about that ;P) and hear my voice now, if you want)





BIG THANK YOU TO PETRA for a) meeting up with me and not screaming and running off after an hour of talking to me, b) bringing her camera so we could film these, and c) editing the videos so that they were all pretty and had some music and lovely text.

And if you would like to see her interview me, you can watch the video here! In which I reveal ALL MY TOTALLY WISE WRITER SECRETS because I am obviously the most knowledgeable Bean of Ever. Totally. Ha.

Oh, and a little note. INTERVIEWS ARE HARDER THAN YOU MIGHT THINK. I must do a post on this. YES, I WILL POST ON THIS ON SATURDAY. *nods to self and wanders off to go write some more*

Did you like this? Do you have any more questions for Petra (that I can drag her over here to answer) or for me? And how about you? How long have you been writing? What are some themes in your story, and did you plan them? What's been the hardest part of the writing process for you? TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELVES, LOVELY STALKER BEANS. 

<3

8/20/16

The Thing about Bunnies

AS PROMISED: a post on bunnies.

Aren't I a good little blogger? Look at me, keeping my word on what I post. I promised you guys a happier post, and here you are! ENOUGH ABOUT DEAD BUTTERFLIES.

Now we have ...

BUNNIESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


(just in case you didn't know, bunnies are my favorite animal so I might go a little crazy with bunny love in this post. asking forgiveness in advance.)

LOOK AT THE RUNNING LITTLE BUNNY!!!!!!!!!! ISN'T IT ADORABLE???

Wait don't leave! I promise this is writing related.

You've all heard the phrase, "rabbit trails" right? Or, "plot bunnies"? So you're sitting there typing ever so slowly on this idea you've been working on for three stinkin' years ... and your hands just don't want to move and your brain is mush and what do you even like about this story anyway? The MC is soooo dull. The plot is sooooo dull. Everything about this story seems sooooo dull and you're sick and tired of it and struggling not to just print out your whole document and burn it. (just deleting it on the computer wouldn't be satisfying enough, lets face it.)

And then, all of a sudden ... A BUNNY! LOOK AT IT.


It's running hard, and if you don't throw everything down right this second, it's going to get away. And it's so cute and fluffy and adorable and exciting ... how can you not toss aside your WIP and race after it?

And so you do. You close your doc and pull up a new one and stop that bunny in its tracks. It's a little slippery and challenging to snare, but once you've got it you're all the more satisfied with it. It's snuggled up in your arms and it's SO STINKIN' CUTE.

paradiiiiiiiise

You've caught the little ball of fluffy delightfulness, and you've got your cup of coffee and your notebook and you're scribbling frantically and getting ink on your hands and lots of cramps and it's just so wonderful and new. You've caught it! It's so exciting, this new idea. Any thought of your WIP is long gone. That poor project is lost in the chase of the new, lively bunny.

And then, once you have about one little page of hastily scribbled notes, your conscious kicks in.

You were supposed to write 2k words today, drat. And you're behind from yesterday's goal, too. You need to grind out 4k, or else you'll lose the steam you've been keeping up since the beginning of the month. You're determined to finish the draft before nanowrimo in the fall so you can take a break and write something new and fresh.

So you get up. You leave your new little bunny and you sit your butt down and you begin to write.

But the bunny isn't done with you yet.

what are you doing
It perks up when you get out of bed, and it watches in bewilderment as you return to your old book.

Nope. It's not having that.

YOU MUST WRITE ME, MORTAL
It comes right up next to you and sticks it little nose in your face and says, YOU MUST WRITE ME.

Your hands falter on the keys and you bite your lip, torn with indecision. You can't think about your WIP anyway ... so maybe you could just pull up the doc/journal page for your new idea and ...

Thirty minutes later, you snap out of it. It's ten oclock! You have to hit your word count. So you go back to your WIP and you set the timer for twenty minutes and you WILL NOT STOP FOR ANYTHING. The house could catch fire, your little brother could come running in with a pirahnha clinging to his nose, or all your stuffed animals could come to life and began playing duck duck goose in a circle around you, but you refuse to budge.

You will finish this.

The bunny is angry you've left it again. He sticks his face in yours once more and growls, WHY YOU NO WRITE ME.

LET ME LOVE YOU

The clock ticks on and so do you. The bunny goes ignored.

The bunny isn't happy. The bunny is sad. His angry steam isn't working, so he decides to take a new tactic.

but ... why can't you write me?
Your fingers are faltering at the fluffy, pitiful ball of pure cuteness, but you have to get this done. You've got to get up early tomorrow, so you need to go to bed at a sane hour. YOU MUST GET TO WORK.

Through sheer willpower, you ignore the adorable creature hovering over your shoulder and grind out your 4k. They stink though. They're so forced, and you don't know what to do about it. But they're words, and you'll have to settle for them.

The rest of the week is much the same. Every time you turn around, the bunny is there. Sometimes furiously demanding, sometimes slightly sad.

why you no love me
Finally, come Saturday when you're supposed to write 10k, you can't take it anymore. You slam your fist down and say, "WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO? I CAN'T JUST ABANDON MY WIP!"

The bunny doesn't care. He stands there watching you, head tilted, whiskers quivering. That's when you know you've got to do something. You can't just ignore it.

But what do you do? What do you do when that amazing, new, tempting idea is lurking and prodding and making all the words you put into your WIP forced and terrible, because your heart has shifted and you don't feel the love for it in that moment?

The key is to get the bunny to quiet down for a while. You've got to lull the fluff-ball to sleep. Then it won't lurk, it won't follow you around, and it won't fluff up adorably and give you the big baby eyes, distracting you from what you need to be working on.

Now you know what you need to do. But ... how do you lull the rabbit to sleep?

Writing and time. That's the only thing you can do. You open the doc/journal for the new idea and you let yourself get lost in its fresh, beautiful wonder for just a day or two. You make a map. You come up with the names of your characters. You get a vague idea for the plot.

Now that you're paying attention, the bunny doesn't have to work so hard to be noticed. He can relax a bit. Snuggle up.

getting sleepy

You're so close. It's been three days since you've left your WIP. But just a bit longer ... just this last plot point you want to get down and then ...

the bunny is out

Awwwww he's asleep! FINALLY! Like a mother with her whiny newborn, you slip out of your chair and gently pick the baby up, praying you don't wake him. You carry the little rabbit to a bundle of blankets where you tuck him to sleep for a good long while. Hopefully.


The bunny is fast asleep now, and you go back to your WIP feeling refreshed from your small break. It actually helped to think about another idea, and you plunge back into the old one with renewed vigor.

Like that mother with the baby, you only have a certain amount of time before you hear the crying that means your free time is up. The bunny will wake, but hopefully he'll sleep longer than a baby would. In the meantime, you can write on your WIP undisturbed (for the most part).

~~~

I don't get a lot of book ideas (about one every month or so) but when I do, they are massive, beautiful bunnies that demand my attention, usually for several days. Once I stop ignoring them and give them the time and attention they want, they usually quiet down and I can go back to my WIP after those few days of indulgence. I'm going to write this story eventually, anyway. The time is not wasted. It's good to take a break and have fun with a new idea for a while.

Can you relate to this? Do you get lots of book ideas? What do you do when a plot bunny is lurking? 

*Just to let you know, I am on a retreat currently and will not be back till late Sunday, so I will be slow in replying to comments. Thank you for taking the time to read this! I love you all!*
<3

8/13/16

The Thing About Butterflies

“For me it's like this: I make up a novel in my head (there will be more about this later). This is the happiest time in the arc of my writing process. The book is my invisible friend, omnipresent, evolving, thrilling. During the months (or years) it takes me to put my ideas together, I don’t take notes or make outlines; I'm figuring things out, and all the while the book makes a breeze around my head like an over-sized butterfly whose wings were cut from the rose window at Notre Dame. This book I have not yet written one word of is a thing of indescribable beauty, unpredictable in its patterns, piercing in its color, so wild and loyal in its nature that my love for this book, and my faith in it as I track its lazy flight, is the single perfect joy in my life. It is the greatest novel in the history of literature, and I have thought it up, and all I have to do is put it down on paper and then everyone can see this beauty that I see.

“And so I do. When I can't think of another stall, when putting it off has actually become more painful than doing it, I reach up and pluck the butterfly from the air. I take it from the region of my head and I press it down against my desk, and there, with my own hand, I kill it. It's not that I want to kill it, but it's the only way I can get something so three-dimensional onto the flat page. Just to make sure the job is done I stick it into place with a pin. Imagine running over a butterfly with an SUV. Everything that was beautiful about this living thing -- all the color, the light and movement -- is gone. What I'm left with is the dry husk of my friend, the broken body chipped, dismantled, and poorly reassembled. Dead.

“That's my book.”


- ANN PATCHETT



The first time I heard this quote was from my dear friend, Sierra. I didn’t quite understand it at first. "Didn't quite understand", as in, really confused and slightly horrified. Like, what on earth?! Dead butterflies? Those are what my books are? How morbid!

But, as I began the second draft of The Thief’s Conspiracy, as I began having to make big changes and decide on things and ideas for my story … I began to realize just how true this quote is.

Our ideas are butterflies, fluttering about in the beautiful gardens of our brains. And, when we try to capture them and pin them on the page, they die. It only makes sense. They lose their magic and beauty when forced into a 2D world.

But you see, it’s not just the book as a whole. Every idea works like this. Every scene idea, character idea, plot idea … they just don’t measure up when you first throw them out on the page.

Why?

When you write your first draft, you’re throwing up. More than that – you’re puking your guts out. (I know that sounds a little gross, but it’s the best way I can describe this.) This book has been brewing inside you, and you’ve got to get it out. So you puke it up.

If you're like me, this form of brain puking is strange. You don't realize you've vomited until you see it again later. In other words, first drafts are a dream for me, full of beauty and discovery. It’s the second draft where I start to see draft one for what it really is: puke. Gross, clumpy brain vomit.

But how can this be? It was so beautiful. So perfect. So exciting.

So when I see this mess I've created, I get frustrated and annoyed. I throw up my hands thinking, "What happened?" 

I wrote it. That’s what happened.

For a long time, I didn’t understand that. I didn’t understand that simply ‘writing’ it was the problem. So I came up with new ideas, 'better' ideas, that I thought would solve the brain puke issue. I thought these brilliant new ideas would clean up the mess I’d made before. That if I just did it a different way, then finally it would be good.

But these new ideas lived and fluttered in the garden of my brain, too. They, just like the ones before them, were magical, ethereal, otherworldly beings. They were butterflies. So the same thing happened as before: when I put them on the page, they died.

And so this went on repeat. Again and again. Every time, that new idea becomes so enticing. The little butterfly dances right in your peripheral as you type, its beautiful wings catching the light and tempting you to ditch what you’re working on and go for the new, pretty butterfly instead.

Do you get what I'm saying here? Do you see the problem?

We don't give ourselves, or our ideas, a chance. We puke them out on the page, and when we read them it's like ... What is this? What was I thinking? This is terrible!

Of course it's terrible. You haven't even edited it yet! It's puke!

Every idea you come up with has its own set of problems. Its own set of plot holes. Its own issues you'll have to work out in the next draft.

So what's the answer? What's the answer to this butterfly problem?

The thing about butterflies is that they can almost always be saved. Once you pin a butterfly, you just have to be gentle and patient. You need a lot of pins, sometimes. A lot of light, a lot of patience, and a lot of time.

Your ideas, your delicate butterflies, are still beautiful. They just need some work. It's such a sad thing to see our ideas - beautiful, flawless bits of our imagination - plucked from our brain and pinned on the page. But that's life, guys. That's what we have to do if we want to share our creations with the world.

Let me give you a word of advice on this. When that idea you were so excited about just doesn't seem the same on the page, don't give up on it. It still has that potential. If you can, try to remember the beauty you saw in it, when it was just you and the butterfly-idea floating in your brain-garden.

Don't give up on your ideas. You just have to give them a chance. Some ideas will fail. They'll turn out not to fit with the story. But always try to give them a chance, unless you're positive it's not going to work out. They're a whole different thing once edited. Give them that chance to shine beyond the first draft.

It will never be the same as when they floated free in you head, but with a lot of time and effort, your enchanting, magical ideas can become beautiful again.


I wholly acknowledge this post was slightly sad (and a little morbid). I will try to plan a happier post for next week! XP Maybe I'll talk about rabbit trails and cute, fluffy bunnies. *nods to self and goes to plan next post*

Do you struggle with this, ditching your butterfly-ideas before they have a chance to be edited? What's a piece of advice you've learned, with ditching ideas or saving them?

<3

8/6/16

What I Learned in June: Lesson 4

I learned SO STINKIN' MUCH in June, so this will be my last post with this theme. Being disliking of strict schedules and possessing a need to be free and unrestricted, I decided to just ditch this post series. I'll be posting more about what I learned, of course, but that's what this blog is for. To share with you things I've learned as I try to be the best that I can be.

MOVING ON!

Katie and Aimee posted about this already, so you should totally check theirs out because they're really good. But I had to add my own thoughts about it.



Your writing has power.


This was the big "theme" of Jennifer A. Nielsen's keynote at the MYWW. She kept stressing to us that our writing is special. Each and every one of us has a story to tell, and that story has the power to change lives.

After the keynote, I went to get my books signed. I had a huge stack of them, and two copies of her second book (long story for another post). I told her I really enjoyed her keynote, and that it really touched my heart, and that I hoped I could someday touch people with my writing the way she had.

I will never forget when she looked me in the eyes and said, "Oh yes. You will. I know you will. You are a writer. You are meant to write stories that will change lives."

(Jennifer is such a quotable human, goodness.)

Just typing that out made me get the goosebumps again. And grin like a dork because let's face it I'm still a hopeless fangirl.

She hadn't read any of my writing. How could she say this to me, with such confidence? She looked me right in the eyes when she said it, and I could just feel her belief and trust in me. A girl she barely knew.

How could she say this to me? How could she say it with such confidence? She had no knowledge of me to verify if what she was saying was true.

But it was. And it still is.

I am meant to write stories that will change lives.

And you are too.

I know what you might be thinking, and Jen mentioned this in her keynote. "I'm just writing a story to entertain people. It's not going to affect anyone. It's not going to change lives. It's just for fun."

But you see, that's not true. For a long time, I thought that's what I was doing. I was writing stories for fun. Nothing more.

And I got discouraged. I thought my stories must not mean much, since they didn't have any strong themes or underlying messages (at least, not that I could see). I haven't been through much in my sixteen years of life. I haven't seen earth shattering trials. I've had it pretty easy, compared to a lot of people.

So I kept asking myself ... what do I have to offer? What wisdom could I ever possibly give to the world?

We all have faced something. Big or small, that something is a something. And we have all learned from those somethings. Sometimes, what we learn can apply to similar trials others have faced. You might be writing more than you realize. More deeply than you've intended.

That's certainly what happened to me. When I started planning my WIP last year, I had no themes in mind at all. I never do. That's not how I plan. I discover a bit of the plot and a lot of the storyworld, and then I write. That's when I discover the characters.

And that's also when I discover the themes.

Sometimes, I don't even see my themes until after I've written an entire draft. With my WIP, I didn't realize I was handling big issues until I told my friend what my book was about.

"It's about a tiger that escapes and tries to kill the prince, and my MC Rissa gets framed for it and has a week to clear her name before her sister is sold and her life forfeit."

That's about what I said. And my friend looked at me, her jaw hanging, and said, "Let me get this straight. You're writing about ... slave trafficking ... assassinations, murder, racism ... Basically everything that's going wrong with our world right now?"

I stared at her, completely taken aback. No! I wasn't writing about any of that! I ... well. And as I sat there, struggling with what I was supposed to say, I realized I couldn't say that. Because I was writing about those things. So I just looked at her and said, "I'm not writing about how great they are, or something. I'm writing about how you fight them."

And it was in that moment that I realized my book, my work in progress, is really thematic. It deals with some tough issues. Issues that my friend could rattle off after hearing a sentence of what it was about.

If I couldn't see that until half a year after finishing the first draft ... no wonder I haven't been aware of the power my words can have.

I tell you all of this because a) you gotta admit it's kind of funny. I mean, who doesn't just smile uneasily and say, "That sounds great!" when you stumble through what your book is about? I was not prepared for this kind of reaction.

And b) you may not realize it yet, but your story has theme. And if your story has theme, it is going to touch someone somewhere. It may not be huge and noticeable. But you're writing about people, aren't you? Humans. And humans go through stuff.

Humans + plot = theme

I am obviously a genius at math (ha. ha.) so this equation is infallible. Obviously.

POINT BEING: Your story is yours, and yours alone. Only you can tell it. You have a story inside you (probably lots of them) that will reach someone in this big world and change (or even save) a life.

Don't doubt yourself. Keep writing. Edit hard and without mercy. Make your story the best it can be.

Your writing is valuable and unique, and your stories deserve to be told.

Are you writing a thematic book? Did you mean to? Do you plan your themes before you write your stories, or do they come to you as you're writing? Or are you like me, unaware of them until someone points them out to you?

<3