Friday, October 30, 2015

In which the fabulous Aimee talks to us about Nano

Only two more days until NaNo!! Waht is this. I'm not ready!! But before you start panicking, we have another NaNo veteran, Aimee, who's going to tell us about how to have fun with NaNo instead of stressing.

Having Fun With NaNoWriMo
We’re days away from that time — NaNoWriMo. A month of insanity and novel-writing and support and stress and tears, and pretty much everyone enjoys it. You could look anywhere in your circle of writerly blogs and find a good handful of posts about NaNoWriMo. How to write more, how to win, how to write faster, how to plan. With only a few days between us and November, people are going crazy getting everything in place.
I’ve already blogged about that on my own blog — here — so I’m not going to come up with more advice for you, especially since we’re so close.
I’m gonna remind you to have fun.

Now, I get it. You want to win NaNo. You want to succeed at NaNo. I want to succeed at NaNo just as much as anyone else. But sometimes I can get caught up in failing, or not writing fast enough, or even the dreaded someone else wrote 50k in the first week and I’m not even halfway yet sort of thing that’ll inevitably go through your head. This happens. NaNo is a big deal. But at the same time…what’s the point? To win?
You’ll get a big NO from me because I do what I want.
NaNo is about fun. NaNo is about putting words on the page. In fact, NaNo is about putting quickly-written, completely imperfect words and sentences on the page. Spewing out all your random thoughts even if they don’t have anything to do with the plot. Random plot twists. Brand-new characters you didn’t anticipate. NaNo is about writing what comes into your brain.
It’s also about writing with people. Word wars! Support! Discussing how best to murder characters! People — other writers — are the very best part of NaNo, and as someone who’s ultra-competitive believe me when I say that it’s no fun at all the moment you start comparing.
It’s not about writing a whole entire novel.
It’s not even about writing the full 50k.
It’s not about writing faster than someone else unless you’re warring and it motivates you and then yeah, I guess it could be.

It’s not about writing better than everyone else.
Or writing to get published.
It’s about writing. Writing with people. Writing a story you love and hopefully one that’s fun for you. It’s about creating a first draft that definitely sucks, and loving it anyway. It’s a wild ride the whole way through, and there will definitely be stressful moments along the way. But don’t let that get to your head.
Take a breather.

Enjoy NaNoWriMo.

   Aimee Meester is a reader, writer, watcher, and lover of all things weird and/or sci-fi. When she's not busy reading, writing, watching, or otherwise procrastinating she's a homeschooled extrovert who happened to find the internet and build up a bizarre little blog of her own. Her love for Les Mis knows no bounds.

Go check her out, guys, she's the coolest. Are you ready for NaNo? Shoot me a comment below so we can scream in terror together. Also, what do you think of the new blog design?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Beautiful Books #1 - In which I flail uncontrollably about my book

   One of my favorite linkups of all times is Beautiful People, run by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In. In November, they switch it up a little and change it to Beautiful Books, so we get to flail about our books instead of our characters. I'm very excited about this, because I don't think I've told you guys very much about my book(that's not a good excuse though I could talk about my book for forever and not be bored).

1. How did you come up with the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

   I got the idea in February(I think) of 2014, while I was doing math. I was listening to samples of Audiomachine songs on iTunes(because I was an uneducated child and knew nothing of the joys of Spotify and Pandora), when, due to my overactive imagination and strong inclination to getting distracted, I started imagining a scene to go along with the song. That scene became the prologue, and the song title, Nameless Heroes, inspired the whole premise of the story.

2. Why are you excited to write this novel?

    So, sooooo many reasons. This is the first story I've written where I've gotten past the first chapter. I've put so much of my heart and soul into it already, and it means so much to me, and to other people already as well(*glances at Emily*). I love the characters so much, and they mean so much to me, and I'm so excited to see them grow(and to have them kiss). This is the first story where I really feel capable of writing the whole thing.

3. What is your novel about, and what is the title?

   The title is Children of the Nameless, and I actually wrote a little back cover thing a while back.

   Mum tilted her head back, closed her eyes, and sighed.
   "You've heard the stories of the Nameless? The mysterious heroes who worked so hard to stop the war, and then disappeared?"
   "Of course." What was she saying?
   Years of loneliness filled her eyes when she looked at him.
   "Your father was one of the Nameless."

   Every child knows the stories of the Nameless, a legendary group of young men and women who rescued those in need, only to disappear without a trace, never giving their name. Kaleth has heard the stories all his life, one of the only rays of hope as war threatens to destroy his country and the whole world.
   But he never expected to learn that one of them was his father. Or that the other five Nameless had children as well.
   And so, with their world teetering on the brink of destruction, the six children of the Nameless team up to try to continue the legend their parents left for them. But when tempers flare, hearts are broken, and destruction threatens everything, is there any hope?

   This first book(it's a trilogy) is about friendships and being brave and doing the right thing no matter the cost and I have so many feelings over it.

4. Sum up your characters in one word each. (Feel free to add pictures!)

   Oooooh boy. I could talk about my characters for hours but I will condense them to one word if I must. And I included links because some of the words are weird.

Kaleth: Leader

Danica: Oracular

Allorie: selfless

Katria: Liberosis

Egin: Aesthete

5. Which character(s) do you think will be your favorite to write? Tell us about them!

   Really, I'm excited to right about all of my babies, but so far, I think I like Egin the best. I get to play around with formatting the words, which I  l o v e. Also, he is a precious child and I love anything that has to do with him, so.

6. What is your protagonist’s goal, and what stands in the way?

   Their main goal is to end the war, although all six of them have more personal, emotional goals as well. Their main obstacle is the Feor, the people who started the war, and the fact that no one really wants to listen to a bunch of teenagers, no matter who their parents were.

7. Where is your novel set? (Show us pictures if you have them!)

   There's a lot of traveling. And a lot of forests. And a city inspired by 1800s steampunk London with some Asian influences. There's also a country based on Japan/China who owns provinces like England used to. And an Irish Viking city. And torture chambers. And lots and lots of forests.

8. What is the most important relationship your character has?

   Barrow's most important relationship is with Danica. Egin's is with his cousin/adopted little sister Lisbet. Kaleth and Allorie's is with each other. And Katria's is with her best friend(*cough*totally just friends*cough*), Conryn.

9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

   For Barrow, things are getting better and he's happier. Egin is becoming a lot braver. Allorie is finally learning to stand up for herself and isn't letting herself get pushed around. Danica is becoming more confident and is learning to trust herself more. Katria really cares about the cause, and her new friends(although she never stops missing *cough*a certain someone*cough*). And getting more prideful.

10. What themes are in your book? How do you want your readers to feel when the story is over?

  Heh. What do you mean, themes? I can barely write; I can't think of themes. That's for later drafts. But as for how my readers feel... *evil laugh* I want them to be panicked/angry, since I'm kinda going to leave them on a terrible cliffhanger. And I really want them to care about the characters. That's pretty much the most important thing to me.

11. BONUS! Tell us your 3 best pieces of advice for others trying to write a book in a month.

1. Don't listen to me I don't know what I'm doing
2. Find a way to motivate yourself
3. Write. A lot.

So, what do you think of my baby? I'm super excited to keep writing it. Did you do Beautiful Books too? Drop the link below and we can flail about our books together.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

In which the lovely Nessie talks to us about NaNo

   Hello blogglings! In preparation for NaNoWriMo next month, I've asked a few seasoned veterans to give us some advice about it. Today's post is from my lovely friend Lily. Show her some appreciation! 

   For some, November means warm scarves, pretty leaves, and pumpkin spice lattes. For those of us with over active imaginations and ink for blood, November means National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. Thirty days of mad scribbling, brainstorming, word wars, and caffeine. 
   This year will be my fifth year participating in NaNoWriMo, and my seventh NaNoWriMo event, as I’ve participated in Camp NaNo twice. Over the last five years, I’ve learned a lot about NaNo and writing. Today I’m going to share some of those things with you, things that (I hope) will both encourage you and help you get through any mid-NaNo blues.
  • You’re going to learn something.
       You can’t spend 30 days writing your inky heart out without learning something. Maybe it’ll be that you really hate plotting, or that you need to plot more, or that murder mysteries are a lot more fun than you thought. You will learn how much you love writing, how many words you can write in an hour, and how to plow through writing slumps when you have no idea what to write but need 500 more words. These lessons are every bit as valuable as the novel you end up writing.
       Also, your typing skills are about to get 10x better. 

  • Sometimes what you write really sucks, and that’s okay.
       One of the goals of NaNo is to just get the story on the page, no matter how stilted your dialogue is or how many inconsistencies there are. You may be questioning this line of reasoning, thinking “Why would I do that? Don’t I want to make it as perfect as possible on the first try?” And yeah, I can see why you would think that, but this exercise is about letting go of the need for perfection. It’s about not letting the need for perfection hold you back from writing the story in your heart. You can always fix problems later. It doesn’t need to be perfect on the first draft. And, sometimes writing with that reckless abandonment that allows the dumbest puns ever and cringe-worthy romancing yields some story gold, like a new character who shows up out of nowhere and becomes one of the best people you’ve ever created (true story, this has happened to me a couple of times).
       There’s a really great quote from Shannon Hale that I want to share here: “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”
       Building sand castles is messy. Writing first drafts is messy. That’s okay. You’ll fix it later. “But Lily!” you wail. “Second drafts are scary! I’ll be eaten by a scary editing monster! They have big teeth and eat authors for dessert!”
       Yes, second drafts are scary. But so are first drafts. They’re just scary in different ways. If you can conquer a first draft, you can do a second draft. And, in my experience, second and third drafts are where the magic starts to happen, when things start to come together and you make yourself and your best friend cry with your literary genius (true story).
       So don’t let the fear of writing something that will need editing scare you into a case of Perfectionismitis. Perfectionismitis and its evil sidekick Doubt are known story killers.  

  • You may decide halfway through that for you to make this TOTALLY AWESOME SHINY NEW IDEA work, you’re going to have to change EVERYTHING. Or, you know, not EVERYTHING, but VERY NEARLY EVERYTHING. This is also okay.
       Here’s something you learn about writing after you’ve written a couple novels: as you’re writing you have cool new ideas that are even cooler than the cool ideas you started out with. And implementing these cool new ideas means changing things. Changing things is okay. You can totes change things. CASE IN POINT: way back in 2012, I started out writing my NaNoNovel in first person. A couple months later and 60K in, I decided it needed to be in third person. So, I went back and changed the whole thing to third person. Was it a pain? Yeah, a bit. Was it worth it? Oh yes. CASE IN POINT #2: I had this one character, Aunt Trevina. Aunt Trevina was awesome. Aunt Trevina did not belong in the story. So, I had to cut her out of the story. That was not fun. Was the story better off for it, and am I totally going to save her for another story later? Yes. Sometimes the changes you have to make are painful, but they’re worth the feeling of watching this story that’s a part of your soul come together into something even cooler than you first imagined. 

  • The NaNoWriMo community is great.
       The NaNoWriMo forums are lots of fun, and a great place to find cool writer friends (true story, I met some of my best friends through NaNoWriMo). They’re chock full of people dealing with the same problems as you are, who you can complain about hard-to-write spots and characters who won’t behave with, and who can offer advice when you need help.
       Also, the NaNoisms (typos) forum is one of the funniest things ever. 

  • There’s a good chance that your characters will take over at some point and do their own thing despite the fact that you’ve told them (repeatedly) that they need to follow the plot line.
       There are a couple things you can do in this situation: roll with it (maybe the characters have better ideas than you do), try to fix it (maybe they’re just mischievous idiots and need to be brought back in line), or skip to the next scene and move on.
       And get used to it, because this happens, and sometimes it doesn’t matter how many novels you’ve written or how well you plotted, the characters still take over. If the characters are smarter than you are and have handed you a cool new plot, please refer back to #3 and what I said about cool new ideas.

  • There is no “right” way to write a novel.
       I like plotting and talking about my novels with other people because it makes me excited about the story. My best friend is not a plotter and doesn’t talk about her stories with other people because it takes away from her excitement of writing the story. Each person has their own method of writing novels. By participating in NaNo, you’re going to learn what your process is. Maybe you’ll learn because your plotting failed spectacularly. Maybe you’ll learn because your plotting went incredibly well. Whether you learn because something was successful or because it failed, that lesson is still as important as the novel you’re writing. Some techniques or tips or tools will work for you, and others won’t. Thomas Edison learned 10,000 ways not to make a lightbulb. You may learn that two or three tools don’t work for you.  Figuring out how writing novels works for you is an important part of becoming Super Writer Person, and will make the next novel you write easier and better. 

  • Try new stuff!
       Has there been a plotting method you want to try out? Or maybe a new genre? Give it a shot! NaNo is a great place to try new ideas and genres out. I’m going to be trying first person again for the first time in years, and I’ll be writing my first true fantasy. 

  • It’s okay if you don’t reach the word count goal.
       Yes, you can’t “win” NaNo unless you hit the 50k mark (unless you’re participating in the Young Writers Program, which allows you to set your own goal). But here’s a thing: You’re a winner if you wrote anything at all. Maybe you learned that NaNo isn’t a tool that works for you. That’s okay. I myself will not be shooting for 50k this year because I just don’t have time. But I’m still going to participate and write what I can. The point is that I will have written something.  

   Before I finish off this post, a couple of cool resources you might want to know about:
  • The official NaNo wordsprints Twitter ( has word wars throughout the day, which can be super fun. (word war (n): an event in which two or more writers write for a specified amount of time and compare word counts afterwards to see who wrote the most. Can be good for the competition, or for just an intense writing sprint.)
  • Written? Kitten! This website gives you a new picture of a kitten for every 100/500/whatever-number-you-decide words you write.
  • Having a support group of people who are also participating in NaNo is great. 

   And there you have it! Stuff I’ve learned from NaNo. Now, go forth, write, and be awesome!



It is okay if you write toward the story instead of the word count. Stiefvater does not like NaNo because it pressures her to write toward a word count goal, and not the story, and that drives her nuts. SO. It is totally okay if you write less than the word count goal because you took the time to think through a scene that will actually benefit the story, instead of writing an extra 500-word scene full of bad puns that you wrote just to reach the word count goal and that you'll end up cutting anyway.

I refer back now to what I said about sucky prose. Sometimes you need to write sucky prose to get through a scene, sometimes you need to write sucky prose just to get writing at all, and sometimes you don't realize your prose is sucky until later, but you don't need to pressure yourself into writing something that is both sucky and also totally pointless just to reach a word count goal. If you're like Stiefvater, that will drive you nuts.

Above all else, have fun. If writing the totally pointless word-count-adding stuff is fun (or you've noticed that sometimes it shakes loose new ideas), then go for it because you totally deserve to have a blast while you write, even if you cut that stuff later. But unless you want the motivation, you don't need to put extra pressure on yourself, especially if extra pressure will result in anxiety that will screw with your productivity.

I guess my final point is this: write the way that works for you. If the basic set up of NaNo works for you, great! If it doesn't but you still want to participate, be a NaNoRebel and do what you want! You have an amazing story waiting inside of you. Tell it the way that works best for you.

   About the author: Lily J. (aka Nessie aka the Lady of Ashes and Ink aka Lily the Ever Morbid) wrote her first story at the age of twelve in an unfruitful attempt at getting out of writing a book report. Despite that plan’s failure, she kept writing the story anyway, and has been writing ever since. You can find her on the interwebs on her (woefully sporadic) blog, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr, and NaNoWriMo.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Fairytale Retellings I’ve Read/Want To Read

   Oh hey look I'm posting again. Yay me!
   And I'm breaking the rules by doing a Top Ten Tuesday from months ago, and doing ten books/series plus some honorable mentions. Because I can. And in no particular order, because favoritism.

1. The Lunar Chronicles
   Okay so I've only read Cinder and part of Scarlet, but how could I not love this series? I mean, sci-fi fairy tales? Cyborg Cinderella? Really cool cultures? Flail-worthy romance? Sign me up!

2. Wildwood Dancing

   Okay so THIS BOOK. It's Twelve Dancing Princesses meets The Frog Prince IN ROMANIA.  It's glorious and I command you all to read this thing. The sisters are lovely and the whole setting is very mysterious and intriguing and wonderful.

3. Ella Enchanted and Fairest

   Everyone knows Ella Enchanted, but no one knows Fairest, and this saddens my soul. Ella Enchanted is a Cinderella retelling, and Fairest is a Snow White retelling about Ella's best friend's older sister. There's magic singing! And gnomes! And body image issues handled very well! Like yes!!

4. Sisters Grimm series

   These books and I have a very complicated relationship. Granted, I haven't finished the series, and it is geared toward younger children, so that might influence it, but still. There are quite a few "stupid/eccentric beyond believability for comedic effect but intelligent when needed" characters, which I hate. Also there's the whole "unbelievably bad foster homes" thing. Everything was just wildly improbable. The basic plot idea(fairy tale characters transported by the Grimm brothers from Europe to America for protection) is really cool, though.

5. Hawksmaid

   THIS STUPID BOOK OKAY. It's the story of Maid Marian and Robin Hood, their childhood, and how they became the "criminals" we know today. Marian is a female hawker in the 12th century with an almost-magical connection to her birds. I love this thing okay??!? (Just look at the precious children.)

6. Twice Upon a Time series

   These books are adorable. They take traditional fairy tales, twist them a little, and then tell it form the point of view of both the princess and the prince! They're pretty darn adorable and I highly recommend them(there's also a Beauty and the Beast one, which I haven't read, so I might no promises for that one).

7. Rapunzel's Revenge/Calamity Jack

   So, imagine if you took the story of Rapunzel, gave her a Southern accent, and stuck her in a magical and vaguely-steampunk version of the American Wild West, you would have this series. And they're graphic novels.

8. Bella at Midnight

   My mom and sister and I have read this so many times it's mildly ridiculous. It's obviously a Cinderella retelling, but there's so much wonderful backstory(and Bella and the prince are the cutest ever okay) and politics and explanations, and all the characters(even the stepfamily) are so deep and it's a beautiful beautiful story and I demand everyone read it right now.

9. Just Ella

   And here's...another Cinderella retelling. This one is different. Like, really different. What retelling have you read where the princess falls out of love with the prince? Actually don't answer that; it might make me look stupid. Ella is such a sassy child and the royalty are idiots and Jeb is just *heart eyes*. Also, the sort-of sequel, Palace of Mirrors, isn't a retelling but is very lovely as well. It's one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors.

10. Book of a Thousand Days

   Can't guess what fairytale this is based on? Not surprised. It's based on a little-known fairytale, that Shannon Hale took, expanded, and set in a fantasy Mongolia. Yay for non-European fantasy! I have so many feelings over this I don't know how I managed to stay coherent that long. Ack. It's told in journal entries(with occasional doodles) and is the story of a maid who is locked in a tower with her lady for seven years when the lady refuses to marry her suitor. Dashti is so optimistic and loyal and inspiring, and Lady Saren(who I'm guessing has some mental disability?) is hard to handle at the beginning, but she grows so much and just ahh. Also, if anyone can find a Khan Tegis for me, that would be greatly appreciated.

   Other books/series that I enjoy are Frog Princess series(princess turns into a frog instead of the prince), Princess Ben(all sorts of fairy tales woven in), Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow(East o' the Sun, West o' the Moon), Princess of the Midnight Ball(Twelve dancing princesses), The Princess School series(little girl princesses at princess school), The Wide-Awake Princess series(Sleeping Beauty's little sister), and Twisted Tales series(princesses + fighting skills + Choose Your Own Adventure).

   Go read all the things, guys.

   Also, just in case anyone was wondering, my birthday is tomorrow. *throws confetti*

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

In which I return and ramble about several Important Things

   Hi. It's me, your local-ish almost-nonexistent blogger.
   I'm back.
   Lots of things have happened while I was gone.

  • I went on a month-long vacation to California by myself. More on that later probably.
  • There's been a lot of friend drama in my life. Which isn't normally something I'd talk about on here, but it's been kinda detrimental to my writing time/ability and my mental health. So.
  • I've discovered I probably have ADHD? Which is probably why I have such a hard time blogging. And why I thought this list was gonna be a lot longer. Huh.

   Oh, that was the other thing. I decided to do NaNo this year.

*internally screaming*
   Now, this is a very scary thing for me. See, my max word count in one day is about 700 words? And apparently for NaNo you have to write 1667 words a day to win?
   Which is why I'm cheating. Wildly.
   I'm aiming for 25k instead of 50k, and I'm writing a story I've already started.
   I'd heard that NaNo frowned upon cheaters, so I was very hesitant to do this, but my friend and more reading have assured me that it's okay. After all, NaNo is about pushing yourself, learning how to turn off your inner editor and just write, not about writing 50k or else. So, I'm super nervous about this, but also excited.
   Which kinda brings me to my next point (see I can be organized on occasion). It's something that I've needed to say for a long time, and it's as much for me as for someone else who might need it.
   *deep breath*

   There's always That One. That one writer whose brain the muses seem to have chosen as their permanent abode. Sure, the stuff they write might not be perfect (hahaha who am i kidding they're practically perfect), but it's beautiful. And emotional. Their blog posts are perfect and always go up on time. Their plotholes, when they exist, are practically invisible. Their characters are so alive, you're afraid they'll jump off the page and punch you in the face (this is a very legitimate fear). Their settings and descriptions are tangible. And basically you just look at them like

This isn't even an exaggeration.

   And you know what? It's hard. It's hard when you look at them and see perfection, and then you look at your own writing and just...ew. No. What even is this mess. Why do I bother. This sucks. I can't believe I let this see the light of day. I should just stop. Yeah. That sounds good. I'll stop writing.
   Don't do that.
   Your writing is valid. Just because someone else is good, it doesn't mean you aren't. I bet if you asked that person, they'd point out all the flaws in their writing that you never noticed. They see backstage. They see those nights when the words don't flow and giving up seems like the better option. They see the panicked nights when they have a half-written blog post to publish the next day. They see the image on the page, and it doesn't match up to the vision in their head. They see the potential, and to them, their writing doesn't match up.
   Just like what happens to you.
   You know what? To someone, you might be That One Perfect Writer. Or maybe not. It doesn't matter. Because you are valid. Your writing is valid. The things you write, the things you feel, they are important. Your writing could inspire someone. It could motivate them. It could save their life. Or maybe, it'll just be important to you. It doesn't matter who it matters to. But I promise you. It matters.

   I leave you now with these wise words of Tyler Joseph. Don't give up. Keep writing. Keep fighting. You matter.