NanoPrep /// Part 4 /// Are you Ready? (it's okay - I'm not either)

6:00 AM

So I was sitting there, chilling, feeling all chill and cool for the upcoming month of craze. And I realized my plotline was kind of foggy in my mind so I pulled up my folder and realized ... I hadn't written one yet.


So yeah. As you might imagine, I was mildly concerned after this discovery. Nano is in just three days, after all. And ... I don't even have a plotline??

So not ready.

But, even though I made this startling discovery just yesterday, and when I started to grind out a plotline and realized there was a bunch of stuff I still didn't know, I still feel peace with the rapid approach of November 1.

You know why?

I will never be completely ready.

There are so many aspects to a story, because a story reflects life. Just think about your life for a second. There are hundreds of things, thousands of things, that have happened to you to shape you into the person you are today. There are tons of things that you believe, hundreds of people that you know, bunches of things that you've done and seen. It would take years to figure out every little thing that has happened to your character, and the world around them.

You could spend so long on trying to figure out everything, that you never end up writing the book. If all you ever do is plan it, and think about writing it, and ponder what will happen and what happened before to lead up to the now ... then you'll be old and gray before you're ready.

Nano is about taking a leap. It's about jumping into the ultimate abyss of writer doom and trusting the wings you have written to carry you up and out of that pit. It's about stepping out of our comfort zones. We might not feel prepared. But will we ever?

Last year for nano, I wrote the first draft of The Thief's Conspiracy. Since draft 2 of that project is giving me such grief, I think that's why I found myself struggling at the beginning of this month, when I started planning The Dream Walkers.

I was planning to make it perfect.

"Duh," you might say. "That's what planning is for. We all want to be perfect."

But it doesn't work like that. First drafts are supposed to be bad. THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE BAD. Yet here I am, going into this thinking, "I can't mess this up. There's no way I'm going to spend seven months on editing the second draft of a book again."

I was failing at trying to write a plotline because I couldn't fit it in the three act structure. The middle was all hectic and I didn't know what to do. I was terrified of messing up again and having to edit it for months. This idea has so much potential. How can I risk ruining it?

And that's where I need to stop. If you're thinking this, just stop.

You cannot ruin your story.

You hear me?

You cannot. ruin. your. story.

It doesn't work like that. You can write a really horrible, wretched, messy first draft which you end up saving exactly 0.00298% of, but you can't ruin it. Heck - you can write five drafts, all of which you end up scrapping.

But still. You cannot ruin your book. You cannot fail. You can do badly. But you can always take that bad, and try again. You can work with it. You can make it better. You can't write a book so badly that there is no hope for it.

You learn the most when you fail, after all.

So ... nervous about nano? Why should you be? You can't fail. If you don't meet the 50k, you didn't fail. As long as you do your best and write what you can, you have not failed.

So do not fear! Go plan, but realize it's okay to change those plans halfway through. It's okay to plan a bunch. It's also okay to not plan much at all.

You're not supposed to get it perfect on the first try. Especially not when you're writing half the book in a month. Quality does not happen that quickly. Nano is about quantity, not quality. So, just for this month ... let quality flutter out the window.

Cut yourself some slack. Go make a list of what you love about this story, before you're in the heat of nano-craze and are despairing. Remember why you love this, your story, your writing. Why you love this thing we do.

Go forth, fellow writers. Be courageous!

Are you ready for nano? What do you have left to plan, or are you all set? 

Quick note: if you're on Facebook, you should totally join in on Abi's 5k1day event! I am co-hosting it with her on November first, and we're planning to do one at the midpoint of the month and one on the last day. Please come and join us! (You don't have to write 5k - you can write 3k, or 1k, or 10k. Whatever fits your pace the best!)



Believe in Yourself

11:00 PM

Four years ago, right around this time of the night, I finished my first book.

I remember it vividly. I was sitting at my desk in our school room. It was relatively late at night and everyone was asleep except for my older sister and my dad. The lights were dim. My big purple binder sat on the desk before me, open and ready for the last words that would dub it "finished". My hands were shaking so badly as I scribbled those last few words.

Since this was the first book in a series, I didn't feel like I could
write "the end" but I had to write something XP

They were shaking because I knew I was close to the end. I'd been working towards that moment for almost two years. I knew each word that would form the story's closure. I'd had them planned for a very long time.

And finally I was writing it.

Hands shaking, I managed to scratch out those last few words. Then I set my pencil down, stared at the old notebook page ... and burst into tears.

I sobbed hard for probably ten minutes. Maybe longer. My sister and dad came in and asked what was wrong and I could just manage to croak out, "I finished it."

A year and eight months since I'd started writing this story, I wrote the last words. Why did I sob my eyes out? (I was twelve, by the way) I've never cried when finishing a book since then. I cried twice when I wrote my WIP, but that was during one really touching scene that always makes me almost cry, and while writing the very very tragic climax. Both really emotionally gripping and difficult scenes. But not the ending.

So why was my first book different?

It was my first book. And if you've never finished a book before, you'll probably sympathize with the point I'm about to make.

Up until that moment ... I wasn't sure if I could do it.

A lot of people "write stories" after all. Pretty much all of my friends had at least started a story at one point in their lives, but they didn't usually make it past page three. So when people heard I was a writer, they just assumed I was like them. Not really serious about it. I made it past chapter three pretty quickly (thanks to my cousin) but I still wasn't sure if I was really a writer. I wasn't sure if I had it in me to write a full length novel ending in "The End."

But I did. (you could argue that I didn't, actually, since I didn't end with "the end" but we'll not go into that right now)

*dumps a couple more pictures on you just cause*

I had a hanging bed for several years around this time, and I developed
this ritual of sorts where when a big thing happened,
I'd write under my bed. And so, obviously, I wrote under it that night. XP 
I am way too sentimental but this is the calendar from that year
(forgive my atrocious handwriting ICK)

I also felt like no one believed I could do it. This belief is probably really wrong, but it was there, wedged in the back of my mind. No one takes you seriously, it would whisper. No one believes in you. You should just give up. You're not good enough to write this, anyway. 

But I did. I wrote the book. I pushed through and ground out all four hundred and fifty-three pages of it.

*sniffles* my little baby

I didn't give up.

If you haven't finished a book yet, let me tell you this. You will. You will if you don't give up. So don't give up.

No one believes in you? Who cares. God believes in you. That's why he's given you this passion. This gift. Now it's time for you to believe in you. Believe in yourself. Trust that God knows what He's doing with your life, and plunge in head first with everything you've got.

God believes in you. I believe in you. Now you need to believe in yourself.

Don't give up. Keep writing.

Have you ever finished a draft? If you haven't, are you close? If you have finished a draft, what's some advice you'd give to people who are still trying to get there?



Keeping Sight of God through the Busy Seasons

6:00 AM

NANO IS COMING! It's approaching on swift wings, flying down and upon us. Soon, we will be consumed in the craze nano brings: buckets of coffee, bars of chocolate, sore wrists, aching fingers, burning eyes, late nights, fists banging against the keyboard ...

It's easy to forget that November is still a month. A month of life that is precious and meaningful.

So, we as Christians must ask ourselves ... what about God?

It is so easy to forget, even when not in the Nano craze, that God is our rock and He is who we live for and strive to serve and please. I get so consumed with writing, I forget who gave me the gift of writing in the first place.

"I don't have time for God." That's such a tempting thing to say. Gotta get the words, gotta get them down. We only have 30 days and 50k is a lot. Those words aren't going to write themselves. If we take our minds off our task, we won't figure out that gaping plot hole. We've got to think about writing and our characters and the story every single minute or an idea might escape us.


I'm not saying you need to sit down to an hour long bible study every day. That's not really realistic. Not if you want to hit that 50k. But I am saying that you don't need to forget God. November is still a month of life. And, as Christians, we have pledged our lives to God.

So how do we keep our eyes on Him?

I went through a time last year when I was terrified I was going to have to give up my writing. I wasn't sure if that's what God had planned for me. I was afraid that it consumed me too much. That it was an idol to me.

And, for a time, it was.

Writing had consumed my every waking moment. Thoughts of my plot and characters drowned me daily so that I couldn't see the world around me, couldn't focus on anything else, couldn't give my whole attention to my friends and family when I needed to.

But how do you let go? How do you separate your story from yourself so that you can live?

Here are some things that have helped me.


This seems like a given, but it is (in my opinion) the most important thing you can do, especially during the busy times in your life (like Nano). I don't like to make a schedule for when to pray, because when I do that it becomes something just to "check off my list" and I don't ever want God or my faith and the things that will build it to become something that I need to "get done" so I can move on to other things.

That being said, I do try to pray in the mornings when I first wake up, and at night before I go to bed. If I don't have any sort of schedule at all, I can easily forget to pray. I really encourage you to get up in the mornings and pray. Go outside for a walk, pray while you go make coffee and breakfast, or pray at your bedside, on your knees. Pray while you watch the sunrise. If you start your day with a prayer, it reminds you of who you are and whose you are. And that is very, very important.

Read the bible. 

This also is a given, I know. But spending just a few minutes in God's word will really help orient you and keep you in a constant state of spiritual growth, which is what we as Christians strive for everyday.

I want to post on bible studies soon, but I'll briefly summarize my thoughts for you here. When I say "read the bible" I don't necessarily mean pick a book and read a chapter every day. If you do that, once again it becomes a chore or a thing that you just "check off" your extensive list of to-dos. The most meaningful studies for me have come from embarking on topic studies.

What weighs on your mind? What tugs at your heart? What do you struggle with? What fascinates you? I'm doing two topic studies right now (sort of). One on kindness and one on self image / beauty / self-esteem / etc.

Immerse yourself in the word for just a few moments. Look for a new perspective in God's word on something you're struggling with. It will help you grow and bless you.

Keep your mind on Christian conduct.

We can never be perfect. We all know this. But keeping your mind on Christ-like behavior, being conscious of how you treat others, will keep your mind and heart on Christ.

Praise God.

This is sort of on the prayer spectrum, but you can praise Him in other ways too. Put on Christian music in the car and sing along. Put your heart into worship. You might find the break from writing-thoughts and all-things-books-and-nano will help freshen your mind for when it is time to write.

Nano is a wonderful thing. It is such a blessing to me in my life, and my writing and I cannot wait until November! But let's do our best to remember who made us and gave us the ability to write, to create. Thank Him, for He is good!

Do you struggle with separating your thoughts from all-things-books-and-writing? What are some things you do to keep your eyes on God?



NanoPrep /// Part 3 /// plot (and tea)

6:00 AM

I decided to do this post a bit differently than I have been doing my NanoPrep, since PLOT GUYS. WHAT IS PLOT. HOW PLOT.

Usually I don't have much trouble with plot. I have like, no shortage of issues and things to throw at my poor characters to keep them busier than I can handle. Now that I'm writing middle grade and downing the violence significantly, there's like ... not much happening. O.o

*is very weirded out by this*

(hush. weirded is totally a word.)

ANYWAY. So I'm cruising along (this is going somewhere, I promise.) and I'm trying to think of what I can add to spice things up. Because right now, I've got the characters. I've got the story world. I've got the premise, the magical idea that makes you squeal and giggle and blink butterflies of beauty and happiness.

But ... the plot. It's saggy. I've got a plot line sitting in the form of the Three Act Structure right now, and it's just ... missing something. And so I was surfing pinterest, looking for inspiration, for something to click in my brain and inspire me as to what I needed to add. A person? Another conflict thread? All the prompts on Pinterest are cool, sure, but ... they weren't what I was looking for. They're not making me ask the questions that will lead to the kind of answers I need. No matter what ideas I think of, it doesn't fill in that "Thing" that I'm missing.

So what questions do I need to be asking? That was what I needed to pinpoint, because Pinterest was failing me. #sorrypinterest

Anyway. I don't have it all together. But hopefully through writing this post, I'll inspire you and me to brainstorm a way out of this.


#1: Look at your inciting incident.

The inciting incident is soooooo important guys. If you don't know what this is, YOU NEED TO KNOW. LOOK IT UP. It's basically what sets your story into motion. It's that big THING that happens that disrupts the characters' normal world and sends everything into chaos. It's your story's hook. The concept. For instance, mine is, "A boy gets trapped in the world of dreams." BOOM BABY. In just nine words, I have a bunch to work with. Think about what would happen, and then what wouldn't happen. Keep asking "how" and "why". That deepens everything.

#2: Look at your characters' goals.

I have this weird habit of letting my characters accomplish the goal they had from the inciting incident halfway through the book, and then, in the course of them accomplishing the goal, they're given new goals. Halfway through the story. Not sure why this happens to me, but ... I guess I get tired of having the same goal for a whole novel?

I'm sure that concept has an official name. If you know what it is, TELL ME. I'm going to try not to do this ... eventually. But for now, yeahhhhh no. This kind of has to happen.

You need to make sure your character's external goal is big enough to encompass a whole book. My characters' goals are, "Find Jake" at first, and that is not a big enough goal to fill the whole book. Hence, the goal change midway through. The goal shifts: "Get back to reality." That's a bigger one which will last me to the end of the book. But you've got to make it difficult. It would be good to make lots of smaller ones too to help along the way. As obstacles arise, so will new goals. And goals drive the story.

#3: Don't forget structure.

Another reason why Pinterest wasn't helping me was because, though it game me lots of random ideas, that's all they were. They were not connected to the plot. Therefore, there was no structure to them.

They go to an underwater city? GREAT! Super cool and fun! But how does that help with my plot issue?

They get lost in a forest of clocks? YAYYYYY. Not really helpful.

I know a bunch of things that need to happen, but I don't know how they fit into the structure of the book. And that's really important. Each scene in a book needs to be meaningful in that it pushes the story forwards in some way. So when you're brainstorming ideas, look at your structure. If you see that you don't really have a climax at the end of Act 1, or that your Midpoint doesn't really change much, think of how you can up the importance there and add new elements to heighten their significance.

I hoped these might have given you some ideas?

*crickets chirp*

Ehem. Anyway. Here's a picture of a turtle. Cause everyone needs a picture of a turtle in their life.

he's judging you

And now. You've probably been scratching your heads wondering, what does tea have to do with any of this? I SHALL TELL YOU.

Last year during nano, I had recently fallen in love with Vanilla Chai tea. It's just sooooo good. And so, every night when I went to my room to type away on my cheap walmart iPad keyboard, I would sit with a cup of that tea by my side and sip away as I typed.

I kind of fell out of the Vanilla Chai tea phase for a while. And then, a couple months ago, I saw a box of it sitting on my shelf and I though, Oh I haven't had that tea in forever! I'm going to make some.

And so I did.

And at that first sip, it was incredible. It was like someone had hypnotized me back to NaNoWriMo 2015. I was hit with the memories I made that November, and I was reminded of the beauty of writing the first draft of TC.

And so now, when I edit, when I do anything related to TC, I make a cup of Vanilla Chai tea.

I know you're all probably really confused right now, thinking, "But, coffee? Life blood? Every writer's life drink?" But I do pretty much all of my writing after 9 P. M. Sadly, coffee is not the best thing to drink before bed, and I'm a hard-core super strong fully caffeinated girl.

BUT MY POINT IS. I like to pick a tea. And then that tea is my 'writing tea.' But I make it specific for each project. Since I'm starting a new WIP soon that's completely unrelated to TC, I might have trouble transitioning between the two. So if I work on one this day, and the other the next day, I can make the tea for one this day, and then the tea for the other the next day to help get my mindset right.

Yah see what I'm sayin'?

I don't know if I made any sense at all but I'M TIRED AND I JUST THOUGHT IT WAS KIND OF COOL, OKAY?? *blinks hard and sips DW's tea since I'm brainstorming while blogging #likeaboss*

Oooh and DW's tea makes me happy cause I remember drinking it as a kid and loving it so it has nostalgic meaning to me already. So yeah, you should totally try that! It's fun and then your tea becomes special. :D

I'm pretty sure most of this post was incoherent rambling but I DON'T EVEN CARE OKAY. *slumps off to brainstorm and use this post for reference because I AM A MESS HELP*



in which i post when i'm not supposed to with a special announcement i had absolutely no idea i would be making (and also BEAUTIFUL BOOK LINK-UP WHAT)

6:00 AM


I am dying to make this announcement to you guys, because I AM FLAILING LIKE A HELPLESS JELLYFISH PULLED FROM THE OCEAN and I don't even know anymore like WAT IS LIFE. WHAT IS WRITING. HOW WURDZ.

Ehem. So yeah. You know how I've been saying that I'm going to write The King's Vow, the sequel to The Thief's Conspiracy, my current WIP, for NaNoWriMo?

Haha. HAAAA. Ahaaaa. Ehem.

Yeah. No.

It came to me on a walk with my little brother. The inklings that I was a little more interested in this one idea than I really should be, given future plans. And then, in the shower, it came to me. (because let's face it guys -- all the best revelations come in the shower.)

I am not ready to write The Kings' Vow

Part of me is curled up in gross sobbing because I've been wanting to write this for SO LONG. (Well, it hasn't been THAT long but still.) And then part of me is kind of amused with myself. I've been planning to write this book for November's nano for ALMOST A YEAR and then, the month before, I realize I'm not quite ready. How does that ... work? Like, WAHT? o.O

There are a lot of reasons to why I finally came to this decision, but I'll give you the short version.

My WIP has been quite a rebellious child lately. The plot is being very stubborn, mainly because SO STINKIN' MUCH HAPPENS in SO STINKIN' LITTLE TIME (the book actually takes place in 16 days) and I am just really confusing myself and drowning in the chaos of conspiracies and plots and murders and assassinations and spies and ALL THIS CRAZY STUFF LIKE WHAT IS GOING ON I AM SO LOST.

SO. There's a lot of stuff I still need to figure out for book one. And with book one being in ... well, the state it's in, I can't write the sequel now. If I do, it will probably end up being thrown out the window on some dark night and then completely rewritten which WOULD NOT BE FUN CAUSE I HATE REWRITING. UGH.

Anyway, I'll wrap up this rambling rant now. *is done*

Just kidding. Ha. Ha.

I MUST ANNOUNCE NOW WHAT BOOK I AM WRITING. mwahahahhahaa. If you've been to my What I'm Writing page, you'll know what I'm talking about. And if you go check it out now, you'll see I've made a few updates. *grins mischievously*

For NaNoWriMo, 2016, I am writing .......

*drum roll*

*is making this way too dramatic*

*doesn't actually care oops*

picture not mine, source here

*cue the endless screaming and flailing*



EHEM. I am very calm what are you talking about.

So yeah, I'M WRITING THIS! And to celebrate, I am going to participate in my first ever Beautiful Books Link Up!!! Hosted by Cait at Paper Fury and Sky at Further up and Further In!

I will keep it relatively brief, since I've already rambled quite enough. XP

The Glorious Questions

1. What inspired the idea for your novel and how long have you had it? Oops. Kind of answered part two of this question above. But I got the idea when I was tucking my little brother (he would have been four at the time) into bed and I asked him if he wanted me to give him a dream, since my grandmother used to do that for me when I was little and scared to go to sleep on my own. He actually said no, and I was really surprised. And I started going into detail about the fascinating lands he could travel to if I gave him a dream, and then I kind of went into a fascinating land myself because I thought HEY WHAT A COOL BOOK IDEA. Thus, The Dream Walkers was born.

2. Describe what your novel is about! Mwahahaha. I actually have a blurb! It took some work, since this story is going to be in omniscient POV (which basically means head-hopping made okay) I don't really have a main character? I kind of had six. Then I kind of had five. And now I think I've found the main character (cause there has to be one, right?) but I'm not sure ...

Anyway. I did it and I will likely write a post about writing blurbs for ensemble cast books because THAT WAS A NEW CHALLENGE.

Here it issssss!


There is a place beyond reality. An island far away where everything is possible and anything can happen.

Every night, Chloe goes around to each of her foster siblings and gives them a dream. When sleep falls, their spirits rush off to the magical land of Dream World. In Dream World, the children are free to do whatever they want whenever they wish. Jake can run around and be as reckless as he wants. Maggie can chase after him on a valiant steed summoned from the dust. Agatha can go on magical adventures with her pet wombat. Wolf can hide up in the clouds and watch it all from a safe distance. And Chloe can walk on the water and dance with the stars and talk to the moon–her only friend.

When Maggie and Jake get into another fight and a dare goes a little too far, Chloe must venture with her siblings deeper into the Dream World than ever before to save their brother. The deeper they go, the more real things become and their journey grows more treacherous than any of them could have imagined.

But how do you know what’s real in a land made of dreams? 

I'll note -- if you haven't written a blurb yet, I highly recommend doing so. I only wrote this up a few days ago and I've already used it quite a bit. Even though it will probably change in future drafts, it's still incredibly valuable to have and definitely worth the effort!

3. What is your book's aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like! I MADE A COLLAGE. HAVE A COLLAGE.

And a few words are just like SO MUCH ETHEREAL-NESS BECAUSE LIKE WOW. Most of the book happens in a land made of dreams, so basically anything can happen and you get cool things like dancing on the stars and climbing the moon and walking on water and floating on/snuggling with clouds and all that super weird but cool stuff. Basically every world builder addict's dream.

4. Introduce us to each of your characters! 

So I have quite a few characters, but not very many at the same time? Like, all my characters are very important and there are very few minor characters (at least, so far). So I'll just show you the MAIN main characters. The cast that runs the show. The foster children.

I have five. (I actually originally had six, but one of them was just not fitting into the plot and he had to go and I'm really confused about him like why was he even there in the first place if he was going to just run off and leave me like that but OH WELL.)

1. Chloe

Chloe is my adorable cinnamon roll muffin cake who is quite a loner. She's the essence of me as a child which might surprise a lot of people because I've never appeared to be a loner. Somehow, though, I've felt very alone for as long as I can remember and am only recently getting over that and trying to grow past that and find the truth.

ANYWAY. Here's a picture.

Chloe, age 11

2. Jake 

Jake is my little naughty meanie boy. He's rough and gruff and makes fun of everyone and is downright rude like, why you acting like that you naughty little thing?

Let's say he learns some stuff in Dream World to whip him into shape XP

Jake, age 9

3. Maggie

MAGGIEEEEEE I LOVE HER SO MUCH. She's Jake's twin sister and actually basically my little sister? She's a tomboy and she's got a strong will and she yells way too much and stomps around and wears her red hair in two long braids that she likes to hit people with and she's just very headstrong but also very soft and emotional inside and SHE JUST STEALS MY HEART AHDKJFASLDHKJFH. *hugs little child*

Maggie, age 9

4. Wolf

Wolf is my frightened little scaredy cat baby. He is afraid of everything and knows it and is just so ashamed of everything and who he is and just AHHH POOR BABY. And this is something I feel very passionately about and I have a feeling will become a theme -- that just because you're afraid of something doesn't mean you're not, or can't be, brave. And that's something he has to learn and just AJSKDFLKJSDFHALKSDJF.

Wolf, age 8

5. Agatha

Agatha is my adorable little six year old angel who actually has quite a temper but is usually very sweet and just so adorable and very inquisitive and big eyed and I just love her so much. She's not afraid to ask questions, or speak her mind.

Agatha, age 6

5. How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?) I have a folder on my computer filled with files of book ideas. This is where I begin. Last Thursday, I created a new folder and that's when I know the book is officially a WIP. Because when I create that folder, I can fill it with separate, more detailed documents filled with specific notes on certain things. As you probably guessed, I also make a map (I've had one for this for about a year) and write a blurb (or at least try. This project was being finicky.)

Last year, I went and stocked up on nano bribery candy, but sadly I am broke so that is not an option. *weeps* I'll just settle for lots of coffee.

6. What are the things you are most looking forward to about this novel? THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS AHHH. I think one of the biggest things is that it's a standalone, which means ONLY ONE BOOK TO WORRY ABOUT AND THE PLOT WILL HOPEFULLY BE SO MUCH MORE MANAGEABLE AND I AM SO EXCITED FOR IT. Also ... the world. Enough said. I just cannot wait. *aggressively loves magical, impossible things*

7. List three things about your novel's setting. *swallows hard* Only ... three? Well ... Nano is all about doing the impossible, so I guess we've gotta start sometime XP


    2: I'm still not sure what the boundaries/rules are? Because I know there have to be SOME. So far I only have one solid rule which applies for the Second Level (which I will explain for Thing Three) and that is, "Gravity is a choice." *mad cackling* Ehem.

    3: Since this is Dream World, I needed to figure out how they can go deeper into the world, and why the one kid goes into a coma in the first place, getting trapped in Dream World, so I decided there were layers. There are three layers (four if you want to be technical, but only three are super important here). The First Layer is called The Shallows and it is basically a blank slate of gray and white. When children arrive, that's when things appear. The land is molded and customized to fit the childrens' imaginations. Most children never go deeper than this. They're not supposed to. But, of course, my cast does *evil grin* The Second Layer is where most of the story happens. It's where the one kid goes at the beginning, and it's where all the adventures happen, because this level is a little more real than they first thought. There are certain things that have to happen in order for you to come here, because when you make it to this level, you become a ... *wait for it* Dream Walker. MWAHAHAHAHA. Ehem. The Third Layer is The Deep. No one has ever come back from The Deep, and no one is quite sure what is down there. *mysterious smile*

8. What is your character's goal and who (or what) stands in the way? This question could be taken several ways, but I'll address the main plot side of this. My cast of adorable little children are all trying to save their brother, who did not wake up the morning after the little "dare-gone-wrong" incident. He's trapped in the Dream World. And my charries have to go save him. (of course, a whole new set of problems arise when they finally get to him, but that would be spoilery so I'll hush up now.) *zips lips and smiles innocently*

9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel? All my characters go through a journey. They each start out this story with a lie that they believe, and they all learn by the end of it the truth (or at least the beginnings of it, since the truth is not always that easy) and are changed for the better.

10. What are the book's themes? What do you want the reader to feel when it's over? I try not to plan my themes, but ever since I realized what a thematic writer I am (I didn't realize this until ... a few months ago. #oops) I have noticed the themes that appear in my stories more and more. And there are a good deal of themes I've already spotted. I'm trying not to pay too much attention to them, or even write them out, because I want the story to come as it is meant to be. But I know that belonging and family are going to be two big parts of it. I want readers to know that they have a place in this world, that they are here for a reason, and that they belong, even if they may not feel that way.

*whistles* wow that was fun! And ... very long. *did not actually keep it relatively brief #oops* I AM SO IMPRESSED IF YOU MADE IT THROUGH THIS WHOLE THING LIKE WOW. *gives coffee and hot cocoa*

This is already getting so long, so I'm going to give just one more very brief note.

Plans ... don't always work out. So don't hold onto your plans too tightly. I was so determined, so set on writing The King's Vow. Even as I was plotting and illustrating and drawing maps and fleshing out characters for DW, somehow I was still convinced that I was going to write TKV. But that wasn't how it worked out at all, and I know I'm not going to regret this decision.

As a good friend told me, you have no bonds, no restraints! You are free to write what you want, when you want. So do it. <3

How about you? Have any of your plans been turned on their head? DO BEAUTIFUL BOOKS IT IS FUN. How did you come up with your book idea, and what do you look forward to most in writing it? 

*none of the pictures are mine, and all were found on Pinterest


NanoPrep /// Part 2 /// Who are You?

6:00 AM

Hello, stalkers! This is part 2 of my NanoPrep series. If you missed part one, you don't have to go back and read it, but you can if you want to here!

So. By now, you hopefully have a story idea. You know (sort of) what your book is about and you have that idea that makes it so beautiful.

But what about the characters?

I firmly believe that characters are the most important part of a story. When I look at my favorite books, or even just books that fill me with a warm feeling, they all have one thing in common.

The characters. I love them. (or hate them. yet I still love them? dunno how that works ...)

But what if you don't have a character yet? What if you don't know what kind of hero needs to step up for your new idea? Or what if you have an idea, but it just doesn't seem quite enough? You look at this character and keep asking the same question.

Who are you?

Characters have always come quite naturally to me. When I get a story, the characters generally come hand in hand. I have a vague idea of who they are, but I don't really know them until I write them. So don't freak out if you don't really know your characters yet.

The surest way to do that is to write them.

For some people, it takes a whole first draft until they really know their character. For others, it could take even three drafts.

But right now, let's focus on what we can do before we start our stories. What we need to know before we start.

(Technically, you don't NEED to know much at all. But knowing the basics can really save you some editing.)


Who was your character before the book started? What were they doing the day before your book begins? An hour before?

What happened to your character to make them who they are today? Knowing their past experiences can really help you anticipate how they handle things and how they see the world.

Fear and Desire

These two are such HUGE motivators when brainstorming characters. What is your character afraid of? I'm not talking about spiders and monkeys here. I'm talking about thoughts that haunt them. Fears that plague their every waking moment, or at least rest in the back of their minds.

Fears like, "What if I'm not good enough?" "What if no one likes me?" "What if I'm getting all this wrong?" "What if everyone is lying to me, and I'm really not important or special or worth anything at all?"

Fears. Lies. You get the gist.

If you're writing a sequel, ask yourself a few questions to refresh yourself about them, and then more. How do the events in book one change them? If a certain fear was eased in their plot arc, or a certain desire fulfilled, what replaces that now?

Myers Briggs

When I started planning The Thief's Conspiracy, I took this test for my two main characters. It's sooooo helpful in getting to know them. Even if you're not really sure about your charrie yet, even if you don't know them thaaaaat well, I'd still recommend you take it, and then read about the type. Some stuff might not be accurate yet, but a lot of it will and it will help immensely in fleshing them out in your mind.

Character aesthetics

And this is just SO MUCH FUN, OKAY?!?

There are lots of characters aesthetics you can make. Collages, songs, drawings. But there's this one really cool one where you put together words for aesthetics and like WHAT EVEN IT IS SO COOL. Like, we're writers. And we get to make pretty, writer-y things for our characters?!?! I think YES.

I'm not sure where exactly this originated, but I heard about it from Carlyn Ross on the GTW facebook group and YOU SHOULD TOTALLY DO IT FOR YOUR CHARRIES BECAUSE IT MAKES YOU THINK ABOUT WHO THEY ARE TO THE REST OF THE WORLD. Like. You describe bits of them, little parts that people see, and it carries this weight that means much more than just an outward thing. It's so much deeper than that.

I'm going to give you an example because I FEEL LIKE IT and also The Thief's Conspiracy DID just turn a year old on the second, and I feel the need to celebrate somehow.

And I give to you Rissa's character aesthetic.

Clenched jaw, aching ribs, fists at sides, wrists shackled with burning iron, glaring eyes, heavy heart, scarred back, long dark hair, bloody knuckles, empty eyes, soft voice, gentle steps, a secret place deep inside no one can see, no one can control.

There're also character collages and pinterest boards were are also REALLY FUN AND YOU SHOULD TOTALLY MAKE THEM. I like to make character collages and book collages and put them as my desktop background and then I get ALL DA FEEEEEEEELS. *doubles over and howls*


There are loads more things you can do for your charries, but those are some of my favorites. And now I shall do as I did last week and give you some pictures to inspire you, in case you don't have a character yet or need to flesh one out!

Picture 1: the farm girl


Who is this girl? Why's she sitting outside with all the animals? What's she looking at? What's she thinking about? Does she live alone? Is she poor? If so, why? What does her father do? Is her father around? Does she long to travel the world, or is she fine here, feeding the animals and cooking for her family?

Look. Notice. Ask questions. 

Picture 2: the boat boy


Who is this boy? Is he a repairman, down below to fix something wrong with the ship? If so, what went wrong and how? Why is he down there alone? Is he a pirate? Why is he down there? Maybe he's harvesting something that the ships catch when sailing through these special waters. What is that thing, and why does he want it? Who will he sell it to? And how did he end up becoming a pirate? Are these ships full of people or abandoned? Maybe he's a poor boy (could be orphaned) that's looking for something to scavenge, and he's about to brave the ropes and climb up to look inside. What will he find there?

Look. Notice. Ask questions. 

Picture 3: the violin man


Who is this old man? Why is he sitting in the shop, alone? Is he waiting for someone? Customers? Is no one coming? Why? Or maybe music has been outlawed, and he's waiting for soldiers to come and take the violins away ... Or he could be a wizard, infusing his violins with magic ... but why?

Look. Notice. Ask questions.

Sometimes I am afraid to ask "why". Usually this fear comes when I've already written the book, because I'm afraid if I dig deeper I'll have MORE EDITING TO DO AND NO UGH. As little editing as possible, please and thank you.


So, especially now that we're planning, DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK WHY. Why takes everything deeper, and it really makes you think.

Don't fear. Look around you. Notice what you see.

And ask lots of questions.

I hope you liked this post! I have an announcement to make soon. I'm not sure when I'll do it, but I already wrote the post up so I might put it up Wednesday, or Tuesday ...? We'll see. I'M SO EXCITED THOUGH AHHHH.

(No it does not start with "e" and rhyme with creditors, sadly, but IT'S STILL EXCITING)

How is Nano Prep going for you guys? Do you have all your characters figured out? Do you do any of the excercises I mentioned? Did the pictures give you any ideas? Please share with me! 



NanoPrep /// Part 1 /// Prompt Me

6:00 AM


WELCOME TO MY NANOPREP SERIES!!! I'm so pumped for this, guys! I really am enjoying writing this so far, and I hope you will enjoy reading it!

The goal of this series is to get your creative juices running and the wheels of your glorious brains turning. The goal is to inspire you. Because some of us might not know what we're writing for nano. Some of us might have just a vague idea, but have a lot of stuff they need to figure out because they actually have no idea what's going on (that's me). And some insane people might know exactly what they're writing and what's going to happen, but they're already bored because WHERE IS THE FUN IN PLANNING EVERY LITTLE THING EVER?

Fear not! There is always something else to discover, some new idea waiting.

It is time for me to PROMPT YOU.

Part 1 of NanoPrep /// Prompt Me

What is an idea?

What is it about certain ideas that make a book? 

What triggers the wheels in your brain to turn, the creative juices to roar in the river of your mind, your hands to fly across the keyboard, mind and heart racing together as the thrill of the idea comes pouring from you?

Everyone is different. That's why our world is such an interesting place. Everyone is inspired by different things, and everyone's inspiration comes in a different way.

But not every idea you get is going to become a full-out story. It just doesn't work like that.

How do these ideas come? The ones that make a story? Where are they from?

And how do you get them?

Maybe you don't have a story idea for nano yet, and you're freaking out. Let me beg you not to. Ideas are all around you. Some will jump out at you as if God put them right into your lap. Some you have to fight for.


Notice things.

It is a notorious problem for writers to walk around in our own heads, not really paying attention to the world around us. I am sure guilty of that sometimes. But have you ever just stepped outside and breathed? 

Do it. Step outside. Don't even open your eyes. When I say "notice things" I don't just mean you need to look. You need to smell. You need to taste and feel. You need to listen. 

Step outside, close your eyes, and take a deep breath.

What do you smell? Maybe a bit of smoke is drifting on the wind. Maybe your neighbors are grilling out. Maybe there's a honeysuckle or rose bush by your house, and the wind carries the beautiful scent straight to you.

Notice things differently.

It's easy to see a tree ... and see a tree. It's easy to listen to your grandfather talk about his childhood, and just hear your grandfather talk about his childhood. It's so easy just to see and hear things as they appear, or as everyone else sees them.

But there's more there. There's so much more there. More than what can be seen. You walk outside and you see a tree. But maybe the tree is dying. (I know it's fall, but work with me here.) Study the leaves. Are they just turning new colors, the colors of autumn, or are they speckled with yellow and brown? Don't just hear your grandfather's story. Hear the past. He's opening a gateway to a different time, a different way of life. And you have the chance to hear it.

And that leads to the most important idea generator of all.

Ask questions. 

Let's go back to when you stepped outside. You might have smelled smoke. Was there a fire? Where? Is it a building, or maybe a tree? Did someone start it, or was it a mistake? An accident? If someone started it, why?

Your grandfather is telling you about his past. Why? Why's he telling you all this? Does he fear for you, thinking you might be about to face something and wanting to prepare you? Does he KNOW you're about to face something, and want to prepare you? How can he know this, and what exactly is he trying to prepare you for?

The trees are dying. (I, personally, like this idea.) All the trees are dying. But say it's the start of summer. The leaves are supposed to be blossoming from the buds that pleased your eyes all spring. But instead the buds are falling to the earth, unopened, and the branches are turning gray. Did someone poison the forest? Why? Did a person poison it, or did the earth itself? How could the earth poison it? Is there magic in the earth? How did it get there? Who put it there? Where did it come from?

I could go on and on. So many questions can be asked by just looking around the world that we live in. It's a marvelous place. Not all of them will generate a full-out book idea, but you can always get more smaller ideas to spice up the book you currently have (if you have one).

I know this is already getting pretty long (I could ramble on for a lot longer too) but I'm going to leave you with one more thing. At the MYWW back in June, I was in a small 11(ish) people workshop group with Jennifer Nielsen. (*screams*) She was walking us through this exercise while going over worldbuilding with us, but I loved the idea so much I thought I'd do it for other things too.

Like building a story idea.

Picture One: the light under the road


Look at this picture. Study it a bit. What's the first thing you notice? The light, probably. The light and the girl. You notice the light because it's dark outside, and you notice the girl because she's the only one there.

So why is she in the street, alone, at night, in her nightgown? What's she doing? Did someone call her to come look at the mysterious light in the ground, or did she notice it from her window? And what's that light about, anyway? Is it a portal to another place, another world? Or is there a room hidden under the asphalt? Maybe a lab of scientists? What if they were running a test, and she was actually the only one who could see the light ...?

Look. Notice. Ask questions. 

Picture Two: the monster's meal


Oooooh I like this one. It's dark. It's creepy. They look to be in a dead forest, at some kind of ruins. Who are the people bringing that bowl? Is it a sacrifice to this monster? Is the monster on their side, or against them? Why are they giving it food? Who all knows about it?

Look. Notice. Ask questions.

Picture Three: the coffin

What are they carrying? Did someone die? Is their body in the coffin, or is it a ruse? Maybe someone died, but they're trying to keep it a secret. There aren't many people, after all. Or maybe the person that died was a nobody. So no one cares about why he mysteriously passed. No one except his brother. Or his sister. Or his mother. What's their status? Do they work at the castle you see in the background, or do they own it? Why would they want to keep it a secret? Is the child a disgrace? Did someone in the household, someone with authority, kill him?

Look. Notice. Ask questions.

I could give you so many more pictures and ask so many more questions. If you still don't have a book idea, go look on Pinterest! Check out my Inspire Me board. I post all kinds of pictures like this on there.

Look. Notice. Ask questions. 

Hopefully this got your creative juices turning! If you didn't have a story before, I hope you might begin to get ideas now! Keep looking and noticing the world around you. Keep asking questions.

Also, if you're wanting to write a shiney new blurb for your nano page, check out this guest post I did on Katie's blog a while back! (It remains one of my favorite posts I've ever written. For some reason, I really like blurbs. XP)

Did you like this post? (please BE HONEST because I'm planning more like this for the rest of the month.) Did you come up with any ideas? Share in the comments! 


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