Unleash Your Inner... Whatever

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I've recently discovered that I'm a naturally organized person. Planners and three-ring binders are my best friend. I like to have my week planned out--it helps me stay focused and motivated. Don't get me wrong, I like spontaneity. But I still like to have a general idea of what is going down. 
This week was especially good. I made a new recipe for dinner each night this week, had a major breakthrough with the plot of my novel, and got back into taking pictures (alas, my picture a day goal was forgotten...). When I tried to turn my camera on today, though, the lens zoomed out and the screen went black. I tried everything. It appears as if my camera is no more. I almost cried.

But I digress.

What I've learned in the last week is that there is a lot of creativity bubbling under my surface. I just have to let it out.
Corny, I know. Maybe even a little bit hipster. I hope not.

It's true, though. I think a lot of people have a creative side (then there are unimaginative people who have no creativity whatsoever). Whether it's writing, painting, cooking, design, music.... Whatever.... There's an artist waiting to be acknowledged. I'm learning that there are a myriad of things that I want to try to do. Writing is just the beginning. I want to create all sorts of beautiful things (painting is pretty much off my list. I have come to accept that I can't draw or paint to save my life).

So this is my challenge to you: Unleash your inner writer, baker, painter, whatever. Try something this year that you've always wanted to try. You might just discover that you're amazing at it and love it. You never know until you try. Personally, I'm going to try my hand at cake decorating. Even if the cake looks terrible, there's a 50/50 chance that it will still taste good. Right?


When You Fall For the Villain

Thursday, January 15, 2015

I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about. As Moriarty said on Sherlock, "Every fairytale needs a good, old-fashioned villain." What he forgot to say was that everyone loves those old-fashioned villains. Look around. Half the globe is in love with Loki from the Thor and Avengers (still not sure if that's because of the character or because Tom Hiddleston plays Loki...); Moriarty has millions of fans; everyone wants Regina from Once Upon a Time to get a happy ending. Why?

They have depth.
The best villains are complex. They don't wake up one morning and say, "I think I'm going to conquer the world and kill people who get in my way." Good villains have a backstory that builds until finally, they start down the path to the dark side. Think about it: Anakin Skywalker was told by Qui Gon Jinn that he was the Chosen One. So when Anakin's mentor, Obi Wan, didn't want Anakin to do to something on his own, he got mad because he felt like Obi was holding him back and underestimating him. Then, Anakin's mother was killed--Anakin blamed himself for not being powerful enough to save her. Fast forward and Anakin has a vision that his wife is going to die. He doesn't want to lose his wife like he lost his mother, so he turns to the Dark Side to get the power to save her. I'm sure you all know what happens next (cue the Imperial March).

It's true those are the most interesting. Also the villain has to believe they are the bad guy or else it isn't as realistic

They are misunderstood.
I'm not a big one for, 'Oh, they're just misunderstood.' It doesn't matter whether a person is misunderstood, wrong is wrong. BUT. There are times when a villain is completely misunderstood. Javert is Les Miserables didn't even do anything wrong (that I can remember) and he's considered a villain. He swore to uphold justice, so he can't let Jean Valjean escape. Javert isn't trying to be evil, yet most people just want him to jump off a bridge and leave Jean Valjean alone (too soon??). He can't stand his inner conflict of arresting Valjean or letting him go and eventually ends his own life.

They're human.
Even the most evil people are human. We can relate to them in some way. One of the most evil men in history, Hitler, adored his mother and flirted with Eva Braun. Thinking about the humanity of inhumane people is what really chills me. When I was little, I used to think that all evil people were easy to pick out: they had dark circles under their eyes and always wore black clothes. Then I grew up and realized that evil can be unrecognizable. Why? Because often--not always, but often-- villains care about someone or something. They are humans with human problems. And sometimes, if we think about it, we can see that if we were placed in different circumstances, we could be villains. Because we're all born with sin in our hearts.

Villains fascinate me. I love to dissect the 'why's' behind them. Maybe it's because I'm a writer, maybe it's because I tend to over-analyze. I've fallen in love with the villain in my Beginning of the End trilogy. There are countless pages in my writing notebook devoted to my villain's story and every page reveals a new detail. My villain's most redeeming quality isn't revealed until the second or third book: the person he wanted to destroy--the reason he became a villain--becomes the thing he cares most about.

What do you think? Do you prefer to absolutely hate villains, or do you like a villain that you can love?


Beautiful People :: Author Edition

Friday, January 9, 2015

Today I'm linking up with Sky's Beautiful People meme. This month, I get to talk about myself as a writer. Thinking over these questions really helped me; I firmly believe that self-examination is one of the best things we can do to grow. It also helped me remember why I write and how in love I was with writing when I first started. For a few years, I kind of let writing fall to the side. But now I'm back on it again. And it feels so good.

Now to the questions.

1. How many years have you been writing? When did you officially consider yourself a 'writer'?
That depends. I wrote my first story when I was five years old. It was called 'The Princess Who Went to School and Made New Friends'. And guess what--it didn't have much to do with the title. The princess got kidnapped by a witch on the way to school, then got locked in a tower. A prince rescued the princess and then they lived happily ever after and had little princes and princesses (really, that's what I wrote). I didn't consider myself a writer until I was about thirteen or fourteen. That's when the writing fever got a hold of me.

2. How/why did you start writing?
I started out a lot like Jo March in Little Women. After I wrote the princess story (and learned how to write more words than 'and' and 'the'), I scribbled out plays for my friends and I to put on for our parents (we never did). One day, I thought, 'Eh, why not see what it's like to write a story?' I was hooked. Countless stories were started and I realized that I liked story-writing better than script-writing. When I was fourteen, I decided that I didn't want to write simple stories anymore--I wanted to write a novel. The rest, as they say, is history.

3. What's your favorite part of writing?
Writing is a way for me to express myself. I may not be the best at saying things with my mouth, but when I grasp a pen, the words come easily. I really love that about writing. My favorite part about the art  of writing is character development. Inventing quirks and a backstory is easy for me. It's so fun. The worst part is knowing that none of your characters are real.

4. What's your biggest writing struggle?
Getting the words flowing. I get so excited when ideas swim around in my head. But then I sit down to write and stare at the computer screen for what seems like an eternity. Once I actually start writing, the words come faster. It's just that first plunge that takes a while.

5. Do you write best at night or day?
Either right after breakfast or after supper. Nighttime is my ideal time, though. When I really get going, I stay up waaay too late.

6. What does your writing space look like? (Feel free to show us pictures!)
It looks like this....

 A little messy, but hey--it's messy with notebooks, pens and research books so that's okay. My keyboard is also there in case I come up with a song idea.
Plus, when I turn around....
Books. Lots of books. Thanks to my mom, I have a library in my basement.
There are about 15 bookshelves full of books.
It's amazing.

7. How long does it typically take you to write a complete draft?
That depends. I've only finished two first drafts. One was written in a month, the other took me about five months to write.

8. How many projects do you work on at once?
Just like the last question, it depends. I prefer to focus on one project at a time, but sometimes other ideas sneak up on me. Usually what I do it start plotting out other ideas while I'm writing/editing my current project. It works pretty well.

9. Do you prefer writing happy endings, sad ones, or somewhere in between?
As I was telling my mama yesterday, 'I love to make my characters suffer.' She replied with a raised eyebrow. 'That's horrible.' I tend to go somewhere in between. Personally, I get mad when I get emotionally invested in a book and the ending is super depressing--usually without needing to be. Bittersweet endings are the best and most realistic. You know: a terrible thing happens, character's die, but it eventually works out in the end and the characters who survived the author's massacre get a chance at leading an okay life.

10. List a few authors who've influenced your writing journey.
C.S. Lewis, Suzanne Collins, L.M. Montgomery... The main author would probably be Suzanne Collins. Something about her writing style in The Hunger Games grabbed me. It came across as real. Her writing made me realize that the best writing isn't always flowery prose. The best writing is raw, felt somewhere deep inside you. I decided that I wanted my writing to be that way.

11. Do you let people read your writing? Why or why not?
Yes, but I'm picky about who I let read my writing. My writing buddy is my cousin, David. Him and I have stayed up late texting about all things writing. When I run into a plot hole, I text him quick. We critique each other's novels and honestly, I don't know what I would do without the feedback.

12. What's your ultimate writing goal or dream?
To get published. Okay, that isn't my ultimate dream. My crazy writing dream is to one day see one of my novels turned into a movie. That, my friends, would be stupendous.

13. If you didn't write, what would you want to do?
Read more. Spend more time on voice and piano--and music in general.

14. Do you have a book you'd like to write one day but don't feel you're ready to attempt it yet?
Yes. It's along the lines of a memoir. This isn't necessarily a book that I want to publish. It's just a piece of fiction based off the childhood 'adventures' that my friends and I had. Problem is, my writing skills aren't up to this yet. In order to say what needs said, I want to have a little more experience and knowledge under my belt. Because this story has to be perfect.

15. Which story has your heart and won't let go?
My Beginning of the End Trilogy. I've tried to put this story on the backburner countless times, but I can't stay away from it for too long. The characters haunt me. Scene ideas come to me at any given time. I won't be able to truly work on any other writing projects until this trilogy is finished.

Anyone else linking up?



Tuesday, January 6, 2015

It's funny how perfectly you can picture your characters in your head. Sometimes you can see them so clearly that you have to remind yourself, 'Okay, this person is not real'. I used to try to draw my characters, but unfortunately, I am not a born artist (ask my family and friends. they make fun of my drawings). Instead, I started searching the internet for pictures (bless you, pinterest!). And now I have faces for my characters. Or at least, similar faces. There are one or two characters that I just can't find. Oh well.

One of my favorite tips on writing says to write each side character like they believe the novel is about them. So I decided to develop all my characters as much as I did my main character. The past few days, I've been working on writing a backstory for each important character in Beginning of the End (you can read about it here) and it has helped me so much. Certain characters now have motives for their actions, and a huge plot twist just fell into my lap. It's one of those plot twists that you really hate because it will throw everything into chaos, but boy oh boy it's so exciting too!

Character development is probably my favorite part of writing. It's kind of an acceptable version of imaginary friends. There's something about mapping out a life story and giving quirks to a character. I'm not sure what that something is--there has to be a name for it--but I'm sure all you fellow writer's know what I'm talking about (or it's very possible that I could simply be crazy).

Chrissy costanza
Brynn Mason
It wasn't an easy life, being raised by two teenage boys who knew nothing about little girls. But Brynn managed. She is now independent and stubborn, confident and proud. What she doesn't let people know is that she's a wreck inside. Beneath her composure is a girl who wants a taste of a normal life, a girl who gets sick when she sees the aftermath of a battle. She's torn when she discovers that there's a spy in camp; part of her wants to forget about it, the other part wants to rip out the traitor's heart.

Riley Kale
Erik started training with Riley as soon as he was old enough to hold a gun. Now Riley is the best fighter that the revolution has. Most people mistake his quiet solitude for arrogance, but inside he is a whirlwind of deep emotions and thoughts. Riley's initial reaction to the spy is denial--until more and more information is leaked to the enemy. Then he is unforgiving.


Erik Masterson
Left alone to raise his two young cousins and lead a rebellion, Erik was initially overwhelmed. Years later, Erik is leading the rebellion into victory after victory. His most constant battle is with his cousin, Brynn. He soon regrets teaching her everything about fighting, though he can't help being proud of her talent. Discovering a spy in camp is Erik's worst nightmare, and the worst possible thing that can happen to the revolution.


Vince Mason
Vince's childhood dream was to grow up and join the rebellion against the government that killed his parents. Once he was old enough to fight, Vince gathered the best fighters and most intelligent minds in camp to form a special operations team--named The Kearney, after his father. His brainchild is now the best weapon of the revolution. He has a hard time believing that one of his men is a traitor and just tries to push it from his mind.

Colton Haynes (model / actor; 'Teen Wolf' & 'Arrow') in Abercrombie & Fitch, SPRING 2014, profile | Photography by Bruce Weber | The Sitch on Fitch | http://anfnewsnow.blogspot.com/2014/01/abercrombie-fitch-spring-2014-profiles.html

Maverick Adams
With a back story similar to Brynn's, Maverick was raised by his aunt after a bomb blast left him an orphan. He practiced fighting until he was noticed by Vince and recruited for the Kearney. Maverick is constantly annoyed by Brynn's superior attitude and enjoys getting on Brynn's nerves because of it. He gets over the friction with Brynn when he finds out about the spy; both want to see the traitor burn.

Seth Bowen
Seth was one of the shortest kids. Then puberty came--and he got big. His strength and fighting skills soon got him recruited into the Kearney. Seth is known for his intelligence, and is constantly coming up with new weapons and technology. He's known as a clown, thanks to his penchant for playing pranks. Always the optimist, Seth tries to keep everyone's mind off the traitor. It doesn't work.

Is there anything special that you do for character development?


1, 2, 3

Saturday, January 3, 2015

One of my goals this year is to take one picture a day. It isn't going to be easy (I almost forgot on the first day, then remembered at 11:45 pm). But  it should be fun. 

The little Christmas tree in my room, complete with shotgun shell lights :)


Unbroken. If you haven't read this book, then I urge you to. You won't regret it. It's the true story of WWII pilot and Olympic runner Louis Zamperini. If you need an inspirational book to start off your year, this is it. What this guy went through is astounding, yet he didn't let it break him. 

I don't know that I would recommend it for younger audiences. There's a lot of violence and some disturbing circumstances that might upset kids or squeamish people. It really is worth the read, though. I give it five stars.


Tonight will be spent writing and just taking it easy. I may have been a little overzealous in my exercising goal--now my legs feel heavy as lead. Next time, I'll be more careful. Oh well. Maybe I can incorporate the burning in my legs into a scene in my novel. Nothing like using your own pain for writing inspiration, eh?

Anyone else doing any fun projects in 2015?



Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 flew by. It was filled with so many new experiences and lots of lessons. My word that I picked at the beginning of 2014 was "Adventure". Funny enough, my word choice seemed to pave my year. Oh so many adventures. Looking back, 2014 was a crazy year, a roller coaster. 
But it was a good year.

The past few days have been spent picking my brain, trying to think of this coming year. No words came to mind. Until tonight.

My word for 2015 is Fierce.

I want to live fiercely, to love fiercely. I want to not let fear hold me back. 

Fierce in Twenty-Fifteen

So what are my goals for 2015?

Blog more

Finish editing my novel & then start the sequel

Read lots of books

Stay organized

Make a new recipe once a week

Take 1 picture every day

Stop biting my nails (really need to stop this)

Go on another fun girls trip this summer

Workout every day

Step out of my comfort zone more

The new year means nothing if you're still in love with your comfort zone. #motivation

Happy New Year, everyone.