Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It’s the Little Things

I’m thankful for. . .

Polka dotted umbrellaStranger’s smiles.

Polka dotted umbrellas.

The tapping of leaves falling on the rooftop.

Penguin socks.

The sound of a book’s pages turning.

Babies’ smiles.

Pink cell phone cases.

Those in between moments of sleep where you’re dreaming but half awake.

The smell of overturned earth just after a rain.


The smooth feeling of ivory under your fingertips when playing the piano.

Piano Fingers

When you find a song so beautiful it clutches your soul and brings tears to your eyes.

Open windows.

Fall Leaves Reflection

The reflection of fall leaves on water.

Goofy selfies with my sister in the car.

Bare footprints in the ground.

The delighted chaotic sounds of children playing.

Nonsensical late night conversations.

Freshly washed sheets.

Buying a new book.

The faint rumbling of distant thunder.

The imprint of pencil on fingers after drawing.

The pink and purple and orange glow of sunsets.

Sometimes it’s the smallest thing that can bring out the greatest joy—the sound of a loved one’s footsteps coming up the stairs, a child’s dimpled smile, a gentle breeze blowing through the window. God has created a beautiful world full of millions and millions of things to be grateful for. And I don’t want to miss them.

Struggles often blind my view of the beauty around me. I focus so much on dark things I forget that God’s light shines in every moment of every day. We just have to be willing to look for it and always keep our eyes on Him.

I never want to take for granted the tiny gifts in life God has blessed us with. I want to remember that no matter how dark life may seem, there’s ALWAYS something to be THANKFUL for.

1 Thessalonians 5 18

(Click the link for my original "It's the Little Things" post.)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Beautiful Books #2 - Discuss ALL the NaNo Writing

We have made it past the halfway point of NaNo, peoples! Just two more weeks to go. I can’t even believe it! If you’re still with me after enduring the loopy trigger my brain switches to during NaNo, bless you.

Today my post actually has a purpose and isn’t some caffeinated induced randomness my NaNo brain produces. Well, there will be some of that but at least it has a topic.

I’m joining in on Beautiful Books, a linkup designed by the ever lovely and brilliant Sky and Cait. What is Beautiful Books you may ask? Pure awesomeness! Beautiful Books is a three part linkup expanding through October, November, and December. During October they gave us 15 questions centered around plotting. This month the questions cover how the writing process is going. And next month we’ll discuss editing. It was originally created with NaNo in mind but ALL are welcome to join in, whether you’re doing NaNo or not. Which means you, yes you, right there in the purple hat, need to clickety click on over to Sky's post over heeere or Cait's thisaway and join up to this month’s fabulous linkup. Yes? Good? All right!

To the questions!

Beautiful Books Button

1. Be honest: how is your writing going?
Super well, actually! Last week I think I hit that “week two slump” a little bit. A few days I had to painfully force the words out. But thus far those days have been few. I still have a bit to go, but I’ve gotten to the point where I’m building up to the climax which is always fun. Also some characters from previous novels have cropped up, included Darven and Leiden, the MCs from last year’s novel. If you were reading my blog during last NaNo you probably know how much I love meh boys. It has been a BLAST having all these old characters show up. Pretty much all of yesterday’s writing was me just sitting there grinning while I typed to see all these characters join up. And I’m also building up to the finale of the series, which will be the next two books. So, basically, writing is going GREAT. This book has really not given me many difficulties at all, which is a miracle.

2. What’s your first sentence/paragraph?

If Iavin had a list of the things he wanted to be doing at that very moment, standing in the midst of the crowded ball room of laughing, dancing, far too loud people would be at the bottom of the list. Actually, it probably wouldn't have made it to the list at all. But Iavin's list of wants and obligations were two very different things.

He tried standing in the corner as inconspicuously as possible. Being inconspicuous was kind of hard though when one is wearing a bright blue suit with gold seams that seemed to glow at every tiny exposure of light. And when the party was for you.

3. Do you have a book cover, and/or pictures that reflect your book?
Oh yes, that’s the fun part!

My book cover. . .

More White than Stars Book Cover

Strictly made just for the fun of it, of course.

And some inspirational pictures. . .

Great White Dragon

Snow City

Dark Elf Attack

All found on Pinterest. The board for the whole series is HERE. Although I really need to expand it.

4. Do you have pictures of each of your characters? If not, describe them for us! (Be as descriptive as you can.)
Indeed! At least for my main three.

IavinIavin, my awkward, adorable main point-of-viewer.

Sayleth is my white-headed mute girl and Iavin’s dragon rider partner.

CaelAnd Cael. . .well, Cael is the villain that likes to pretend not to be. Except he has extremely blue eyes and doesn’t have a weird dragon thing. Practically the one character in the series without a dragon. So naturally there’s one in the picture I found for him. >.>

5. What scene are you most excited to write?
Hmmm. . . I actually don’t have too many more to go, and have already written a lot I thoroughly enjoyed. There was one scene where Iavin and Sayleth were imprisoned alone together and Sayleth taught Iavin some letters in that world’s version of sign language, since she’s mute. It was a sweet scene. I pretty much like all the quiet, one-on-one scenes between those two. Also one-on-one scenes with Iavin and Cael. I enjoy exploring their friendship because they really are kind of friends even though Iavin keeps telling himself he hates Cael. It’s a pretty big mess.

I was also vastly looking forward to the point where Darven and Leiden reentered the picture, which happened Friday. Excitement on my part ensued.

But now I guess I’m just waiting in anticipation for the peak of the climax where tragic and fun things happen. *grins*

6. Share a snippet or a scene that you really enjoyed writing.

Iavin suddenly had an intense desire to have a conversation with her, a real talking conversation, just her and him. But the only way she could talk was with Cael around, and that was the last thing he wanted.

A memory came to him, a flash of when he first discovered Cael's treachery in that little shack outside of Ahredit. Cael had removed his hand from her and she made rapid motions with her hands in attempt to say something. Sign language, Cael had called it.

"Do you have a whole language with your fingers?" he asked.

Her face lit up and she nodded.

Encouraged by her enthusiasm, he asked, "Could you teach it to me? So we could talk. Without the dragons or…Cael, I mean." He rubbed the back of his neck. "I know you probably get frustrated with me when you're trying to tell me something. I'm pretty slow with figuring things out."

She firmly shook her head and then reached for his hand. He watched curiously her soft fingers bend his knuckles down and turn his thumb out. Making him hold the awkward hand position in the air, she then swiped a finger across the floor. Glancing down, he found a letter A drawn into the dust. Sayleth pointed to the letter and then his fist.

"A?" he said, shaking his shaped hand. "This indicates the letter A?"

Grinning wide, she nodded.

His heart thumped with excitement. He laid his palm back out flat and held it out to her. "More, teach me more!"

Since I just mentioned that scene and all.

7. Now that you're writing, have any of the plot details, or the process itself, turned out different from what you planned or imagined?
Not really. It’s surprisingly stayed pretty in sync with the outline. And since this is the fifth book of the series, I’ve gotten pretty accustomed to this plot and world. XD It always feels perfectly natural returning to this series, like going back home. So I haven’t really experienced anything too shocking along the way.

Although there was a character death that I was NOT expecting. She wasn’t a big character or anything, but I had no plans on her dying whatsoever. I didn’t really have plans on anyone other than nameless soldiers and such dying. But there was a battle and Iavin opened his eyes and there she was having a sword thrust through her chest and I was just like, “What???” Quite a moment.

I was a bit surprised to see how fiery sweet, mild Sayleth can get. (Usually because of Cael.) And even Iavin has shown some backbone a couple of times. (Usually when Cael upsets Sayleth.) But I think the most surprising moment was when I realized Cael sees Iavin as a skittish puppy to mother and be amused over. *blinks* Yeah. Is that even possible? The antagonist mothering over the protagonist? I mean. . .

Cael patted his shoulder, eyes gleaming bright in the darkness. "Mhm. I know exactly what you meant. Come on now," he stood and grabbed Iavin's arm, "you really should be sleeping."


"We've got another full day of traveling tomorrow. You need your sleep." Cael pulled him to a stand, dragged him back to Nemayn, and practically tucked him to bed, carefully making sure Iavin's cloaks covered him sufficiently. "You sleep well now."

Iavin watched the boy walk off, not entirely sure what just happened but far too sleepy and cold to figure it out.


8. Is there a character or aspect of your plot that's difficult to write?
You know, this book really hasn’t given me much difficulty at all. All the characters have been fantastic. They’ve just come so naturally on the pages, I really love them.

There was one section where the characters were traveling through the mountains and it really dragged on. I thought they were going to be in those mountains forever (Iavin did too actually), and I was really ready to move on to the next section. But I was also having a bit of a writer’s rut for a couple of days when I was writing that part, so that could have been it. Otherwise, this novel has been a dream.

9. What’s your favorite aspect of this novel so far? Favorite character?
Oooh goodness. How can I pick one? There are so many things I’ve loved about this book!

Again I think I’m going to have to fall back to the relationships. Iavin and Sayleth are so sweet. They make my heart swell. And Iavin and Cael’s relationship. . .well, you’ve seen. I’ve never written a friendship like that before and I’m having way too much fun. Sayleth and Cael also have a very interesting relationship that hurts my heart a little because. . .bad things went down with those two back in the day. But I really love seeing them react toward one another. It’s similar to Iavin and Cael in the complicated area, but Sayleth genuinely wants the best for Cael (and, really, he wants the best for her, or what his twisted mind thinks is the best) and it just gets so confuzzling and hurts my heart and I love it because writers are weird like that.

Also, I’ve really enjoyed the snowy aspect of the novel. There’s snow EVERYWHERE. The majority of the novel is set in a super freezing place. And, honestly, I can’t recall a time I’ve ever written about places in snow. I don’t know why, but most of my novels are in the summer or spring or just a place that doesn’t snow a lot. So this has been a new experience for me and I’ve really enjoyed it. Except I think half my word count is just used up of the words frigid and icy. Whoops.

Favorite character??? WHY. Uuuugh. I guess it comes down to either Iavin or Cael to be perfectly honest. But don’t get me wrong, Sayleth is my precious baby girl, I’ve just spent so much more time inside Iavin’s head, and Cael, well, he makes things interesting.

I’m really going to miss seeing the world through Iavin’s eyes once the novel is done. The pessimistic way he looks at the world is actually highly amusing for some reason. He has a very “Welp, I’m pretty sure I’m about to die” view about everything. The way he just accepts that he’s doomed and always expects the worst is somehow adorable. I love him so much. <3 And I think we all know my feelings on Cael. He’s just so complex and constantly shakes things up, and still somehow has a very bright outlook on life. And I really never know what is going to come out of his mouth next. I CAN’T choose between the two!

10. Have you drawn off of any life experiences or people you know to create your novel and characters?
Er. . .not really. I shamefully never really create characters based off real people. Really, I don’t ever get to create characters at all. They just pop in my head and demand a story and I’m just like, “FINE.” Then I torture them and give them tragic backstories and they regret choosing me as their author. *smile, smile*

I like to pretend I have a pet dragon. Can I count that as life experiences?

11. Do you have a playlist or certain song for your novel and/or characters?
I don’t listen to nearly enough variations of music, so I never can find any with lyrics that fit my stories or anything. But I do have a parcel of random instrumental songs I listen to while writing. Lyrical songs distract me too much, it can only be instrumental. Soundtracks are my best friends. Actually, most of the music I listen to while writing this book is soundtracks from video games. You’d be surprised how fantastic the music is in video games. The Final Fantasy X soundtrack is my favorite. Pandora is also my best friend.

12. Let’s have some fun for a moment: imagine you are somehow transported into your book’s world. Which character are you most likely to be found hanging out with?
Why are these questions so haaard???

Iavin is my adorable baby but that’s mostly because I’m always inside his head and forcing him into uncomfortable situations (did I mention he hates the cold? *grins*). If I was actually just hanging out with him, it might be a bit hard because I tend to do better around talkative people, and it’s easier to pull teeth than get him into an ongoing conversation. That would also make it awkward with Sayleth since she can’t talk at all.

But Cael. . .Cael is actually super easy to talk with, even when he’s imprisoned you and is trying to take over the world. But what can you do? I could really appreciate his snark and quirky sense of humor. We’d actually probably get on really well. (And I’m not just saying that because that’s the answer I wanted. *cough, cough* I genuinely took a long moment to thoroughly think this thing through.)

13. How do you keep yourself motivated to finish your daily wordcount? (Pinterest? Internet breaks? Chocolate?)
I actually haven’t allowed myself to touch Pinterest except for quick references or something since NaNo started. Once I’ve fallen inside the abyss that is Pinterest it takes me days to find my way out. So I’m trying my best to keep my distance. (It’s hard.) And I don’t like chocolate. (Try not to have a heart attack. I know it’s shameful.) Internet breaks definitely though.

But really, the main thing that keeps me writing is my overly obsessive self. I can’t seem to STOP writing. I set ridiculously high goals for myself and my OCD nature won’t allow me to fail those goals. So just seeing the words go up motivates me the most. I always start out with writing 2k words and not allow myself to touch the internet or much of anything until that goal is reached. So that really forces me to get the words written. After that, I only allow breaks every 1k words. Also, I would really love to finish this story by the end of the month and since my books are always so woefully long I just keep making myself pound out the words, knowing if I don’t there’s no way I’ll finish it in any decent amount of time.

14. What’s your favorite writing quote or piece of writing advice?
Oh goodness, there are so many I love I don’t even have a specific favorite! These three are on the top of the list though. . .

Write Bravely - Bill Stout

Shoveling Sand - Shannon Hale

Glint of Light - Anton Chekhov

15. How does this book make you feel so far? Are you laughing? Crying? Frustrated?
Half of the time I’m grinning at all of Iavin’s doomed thoughts when I’m really not planning on making him get hurt all that much. . .you know, hopefully. And Cael does and says things that take me by such surprise I literally laugh out loud. Then I want to hug Sayleth and be her best friend. Now last night I did write a scene that genuinely really depressed me. It was referencing something that happened way back in book 2 that I still haven’t recovered from and it just reopened that wound. But then the scene immediately following had me giggling and grinning stupidly at the screen. So yeah, mostly it’s all been fun. But I’m also forcefully keeping myself from reading back through parts because whoo! I write bad first drafts, especially during NaNo. I’m just going to keep writing and enjoy the story, the state of it can be worried about later. *points to Shannon Hale quote above*

. . .

Overall? This NaNo has been very good to me, and I look forward to plunging through the second half of it and finishing up this book.

So let’s do it, NaNo’ers!!! And, tell me, how is YOUR NaNo going? Fabulously, I do hope.

Monday, November 10, 2014

You've just crossed over into…

For me, NaNoWriMo is kind of like the Twilight Zone where the rift between fiction and reality is a little fuzzy. Fiction starts feeling real and reality seems distant and hazy. When you spend an entire month stuck inside a novel it gets awfully difficult remembering those characters aren’t actually real, and those events didn’t just happen, and. . .did I remember to shower this morning? It’s a very dizzying time, NaNo.

The Twilight Zone

You may have tried to hold on to your sanity those first few days, but by the time you’re stepping into week two it has given up on you. Don’t worry, it’s so much easier to write when sanity isn’t bogging you down with its silly responsibility and common sense. You won’t miss it.

Mine went fleeing pretty fast (not that I ever had much sanity to begin with, but you know). I mean, when one writes 50k words in 9 days, there’s really no room for sanity.

NaNoWriMo 2013 Wordcounter (50k)


Yeeeah. My mind is swimming with words, words, WORDS and it’s a little hard seeing reality past them all. But who caaaares? NANOWRIMO. “Reality is a lovely place but I wouldn’t want to live there.”

Now that I’ve hit 50k I’m just going to keep writing until I’ve reached “The End”. But being as how I’m only about halfway (maaaybe a bit past halfway, I’m not sure) I’ve still got a l whole lotta writing ahead of me.

Things are definitely going quite. . .swimmingly. (Hehehe. . .hehe. . .heh. . . Ahem.) It’s getting interestiiiing. Cael just did something *le gasp* NICE. And not out of manipulation, I’m pretty sure anyway. Just a genuine act of kindness. (I won’t tell you it’s his last one before horrible things happen. . .) And Iavin, my dear, sweet, shy Iavin, has actually shown some backbone. He even threw a chair out of anger! I mean, it only flew about two feet before plunking to the ground, but it was a good effort. Sayleth is also proving to be a lot more spirited than I thought she was. Cael has a way of bringing the rage out of even the mildest of people. . .

Basically, my days are entirely full of my novel. I literally sometimes have a hard time focusing on normal daily tasks because my mind is so heavily centered on my story I’m not even paying attention to what I’m doing. The Twilight Zone, I’m telling you.

But that’s okay. I kind of love it. Getting the opportunity to spend a month so heavily immersed in my novel that I feel as though I’m breathing the same air as my characters. . .ah, it’s a feeling that can’t even be described. It’s these moment that I realized why I love to write. Those moments when a character isn’t just a character anymore, but someone so close and connected to your heart you laugh when they laugh and cry when they suffer and long for their company when you’re not writing. Those times the words disappear from your eyes and instead you’re there, living right along your characters, feeling and seeing and experiencing everything they do. That moment you wake up and are so enthusiastic about your novel you almost skip breakfast just so you can dive right into writing.

Breathings of Your Heart

These moments are rare. Mostly writing is just a lot of staring blankly at a screen or painfully forcing those words out when you’d much rather be perusing pinterest. But, once in a blue moon, we get touched with a bit of magic, invigorating, beautiful, and it reminds us why we trudge up that tiring mountain.

Or, you know, you think you’re floating through the Twilight Zone and wonder why on earth you chose to be one of those mad writers.

But it’s all good.

Good luck on week two, NaNo’ers! This is usually when steam starts running out, but just remember why you write. Never stop reaching for the magic. It’s always worth it!

Today’s Writing Snippet:

"You know, ripping holes in someone's castle is considered rude."

Sayleth leaped to her feet and Iavin spun around. Nemayn was already crouched, ready to pounce at the white haired boy mere feet from her bared teeth.

Cael did not seem very concerned, despite the dried blood running down from his temple that served as a reminder of the last time he encountered the begrudged dragon. His clothes were also a little torn and streaked with stained blood. Whether it was his own or someone else's, Iavin did not want to know.

"Things aren't looking good out there," Cael said.

"For…who?" Iavin dared to ask.

"Depends on how you look at it." Cael took a hobbling step forward but Nemayn's warning growl halted him. "Careful there, girl, think of Sayleth. You already gave me a pretty bad blow." He rubbed at his temple, wincing.

Nemayn just responded with a warning snap of her teeth.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Halfway There…?

NaNo 2014 Banner

Well, it seems NaNoWriMo has descended upon us! And, you know, it’s a totally good idea to reach the halfway point 4 days within the event. . .

NaNoWriMo 2014 Wordcounter (25k)

Right? Riiight? Because it’s not like I’ve lost hold of reality. Noooo. Hehehe. . .heh. . .heheh.


So maybe my OCD tendencies kick into hyperdrive during November and I can’t seem to stop making myself write. And yes, I hit the halfway point last night. But my goal for NaNo is not to reach 50k but to finish my book as quickly as possible. And since my books always end somewhere above 100k I have to really push those words out. And also I’M HAVING FUN.

My cast is just as delightful as I thought it’d be. Iavin slays me time and time again with his adorkable self.

Do you ever have those characters that you don’t need to flesh out and discover? Sometimes they explode from your brain with all the personality in the world and when you write them their thoughts pour from your fingertips as easily as your own. Iavin is one of those characters.

I’ve discovered beginning are usually hard for me to write. I’m always ecstatic to start a new story but then I never fully get into it until two or three chapters in. It takes a bit of time to get to know my characters, discover the world, get deeply into the plot, etc. But once I’ve established these things my love for the story blossoms. Thus, the first day or two of NaNo tends to be a bit of a struggle for me.

But this year the first day has been my favorite so far.

Almost the entire story is written from Iavin’s point-of-view, and looking at the world through his eyes is as natural as breathing. I didn’t have to experiment with the first chapter to get a feel of his character, it just flowed on the pages instantaneously and I can’t imagine tiring of him. His sweet, awkward, shy self makes my heart full. (Although I may feel a bit guilty slinging him into peril.)

Sayleth is also proving to be a delight. I was excited about attempting a mute character, but, to be entirely honest, also rather nervous. But my fears were for naught. The challenge of finding ways for her to communicate has been a blast. Plus, this is a fantasy, which means I’m allowed a few otherworldly tricks. *grins*

Then there are the dragons. Iavin’s dragon, Nemayn, is currently sneezing out snow she just sniffed into her snout. She’s kind of a total mess. While Sayleth’s large, white, male dragon, Daeomin, has a tendency to hide behind his tail. Watching an enormous dragon act like a skittish puppy is an amusing sight, let me tell you.

And Cael, well, his first words were: "By Ugrafel's beard, you people make a lot of ruckus." This was commenting on a pretty intense battle. Right now in the story he just said killing Iavin and the gang would not be beneficial to his state of being so. . .yeah, at least there’s that. Cael. What can I say?

All in all, the story is going pretty great. The beginning feels info dumpy and now I feel like I’m not giving enough info. I keep having to shove my Inner Editor away. I was heavily editing a novella just before NaNo started, so it’s taking me a bit to remember I have permission to write messily. It’s starting to sink in though. Actually, I think I’ve just about scared my Inner Editor away with all the atrocious writing. Um, success? Hey, it’s NaNo. What would NaNo be without a messy first draft? Right now I’m just enjoying writing the story. It can always be rewritten. That’s what NaNo is for after all, to pump out those words and get that first draft written, no matter how it turns out. So write I shall!

Speaking of which. . .I should probably be doing that now.

How is NaNo going for everyone?? Can you believe we’ve almost made it through the first week? We got this! *fistpump*

Today’s Writing Snippet:

Frowning, Iavin pulled his frostbitten arm up with his other hand and cradled it against his chest. "You did this to me. You sent your glacier— Erm, gwac—" Anger blinded his memory. "Your ice bird thing to attack us!"

"Now, Sii, that was not very nice," Cael scolded, turning his head to face the bird. "I sent you to persuade them to come down, not freeze the poor boy's arm off."

The bird ruffled its feathers and turned its beak to the sky, as if offended.

"I apologize on her behalf," Cael addressed Iavin again. "She can be a little overzealous. Come here, that arm looks ready to crack right from its socket."

Iavin had the same thoughts, but he wasn't about to let Cael do anything about it.

Cael breathed a frustrated sigh. "Don't be stubborn. I can fix it. Right, Sayleth?"

She turned sad eyes to Iavin and nodded.

Iavin hesitated, looking back and forth between the two, before shuffling forward. He supposed not much more damaged could be done to it anyway.

Cael shooed Sii off his shoulder. The bird crowed in indignation and clamped her claws down into a boulder where she watched everyone with her piercing white stare. Iavin eyed the bird warily but the pain of Cael grabbing his arm pulled his attention back to his doom at hand.

P.S. I apology for the randomosity of this post and for any future posts. I sort of threw my sanity out a window and locked it out on November 1st. I’ll probably let it back in come December 1st (maybe the 2nd). Until then. . .well, I’m just really, really sorry.

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