Monday, October 30, 2017

Beautiful Books - The Nether Isle {NaNoWriMo 2017}

Today is the day you have ALL been waiting for. And by that I mean…probably none of you have been waiting for. But, like, let’s all just pretend? Yes? YES.

So what even is today about???



FINALLY. Here two days before NaNo. Took me long enough. Sheesh. (But can we also pretend NaNo is not the day after tomorrow for the sake of my sanity? K. Thaaanks!)

This NaNo is going to be wildly different from all the past 7 NaNos I’ve participated in. As I’m sure you alllll know by now since I constantly babble about it (seriously, I think I sound like a broken record sometimes), for all my 7 NaNos I was writing a 7 book fantasy series, one book for each NaNo. Which means, for me, “NaNoWriMo” has always just been synonymous for “continue my Colors of a Dragon Scale” series. NaNo was just the time for me to immerse in that world. I can’t even think about NaNo without thinking of my CoaDS series.

But, last NaNo, after years and years of working on it, I wrote the finale for CoaDS. Which meant…no more CoaDS for NaNo. And that feeling is WEIRD. You do get accustomed to something after doing it for 7 years straight.

It’s really, really strange for me to not be plotting the next CoaDS book this month. To not be working on it at all. But you know what? I’M ALSO REALLY EXCITED. I’m going to miss disappearing in the CoaDS world every November like I have for the past 7 years, but at the same time…I’m kind of really ready for something new. It thrills me to think I can now write absolutely whatever I want for NaNo. I adored writing CoaDS and making it my NaNo journey. But those books are written, and now it’s time to tackle something new and fresh. AND I AM PUMPED. SO VERY PUMPED. (Though I’ll still probably totally be feeling nostalgic over CoaDS for the duration of November. I love new experiences, but I’m also a sentimental person. YOU JUST CAN’T PLEASE ME SHEESH.)

The one lovely thing about writing a series for each NaNo is I never had to worry about what I was going to write each year. I had that figured out for 7 years straight. At first I was thrilled at the prospect of getting something new to write this year. On the other hand….WHAT WAS I GOING TO WRIIIITE???????

After much hemming and hawing and sleepless nights and a list or two, I finally settled on something. AND I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS STORY, GUYS. SO SO SO SO SO SOOOOO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s completely different from anything I’ve ever written and yet has so many elements that are familiar to me and I love. AND I CANNOT WAIT TO WRITE IIIITTTT!!!!!!

Oh wait. You want me to stop rambling and ACTUALLY TELL YOU WHAT IT IS??? Fiiiiine.

Lucky for us, our dear Sky and Cait have brought back Beautiful Books, a linkup much like Beautiful People, but instead we get to talk about our novels! And you absolutely do not have to be doing NaNoWriMo to join in!


Visit Sky @ Further Up and Further In or Cait @ Paperfury to join the linkup!




Mock cover I made just for fun. Image not mine.


1.) What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

That’s a complicated questions because it just kind of…evolved over the past few months. Near the beginning-ish of this year, I was thinking about NaNo (yeah, that early on, I may be a bit NaNo obsessed…). It hit me that, hey, I’ll be writing a new book for NaNo this year and I HAD NO CLUE WHAT IT’D BE. As we discussed, this hasn’t happened in 7 years.

One thought I had was to take every type of story element I love and throw it all into one novel. Because WHY NOT? After that idea, I kept a list on my phone of any cool story elements that popped in my head. And I continued to add to it ever since. (I still add to it now and again.)

Somewhere amidst this I was thinking how I’d like to write a story that completely takes place in some sort of mysterious, creepy forest where all sorts of strange things happen. I don’t know, guys, I just really love creepy forests. That thought kept staying with me and I couldn’t seem to shake it.

Then, one day a few months ago…

I got this random idea of a camera that took pictures of the past. As in, you take a picture, and the picture that comes out is of some past scene, not the present. I FELL IN LOVE WITH THIS IDEA. I knew I had to write a story involving this.

The creepy forest idea was still at the forefront of my mind, so I decided why not combine that with the magic past camera idea? I was still thinking about adding all the story elements I love into one thing, although once this story idea started taking shape, that plan fizzled out a bit. Though it still has plenty of things I love in it. But it was the magic camera idea that really pulled things together.

Though, strangely, I didn’t have any semblance of a plot and no characters. Usually I get character ideas first or right with plot ideas. But this idea was so vague. For months all I had was the thought of some mysterious forest area and a magic camera… But I really wanted to write it anyway! Who needs a plot and characters, right? Right??? Eheheheheh…

Then, one morning at the end of July, everything clicked. It was like the flood gates burst open. All the ideas came in at ONCE. Plot, characters, setting, EVERYTHING. Within the span of about 30 minutes, I knew who my characters were and what my story was about. AND I WAS SO EXCITED. To the point that I was doing a jig I was so thrilled over this story. #truestory I had work that day, but thankfully it was quiet so I spent the work day on my phone making a list of alllll my ideas.

After that, the ideas kept coming and coming and I knew I had to write this for NaNo. It’s one of those things that will make me burst if I don’t write it!

And good gracious, that was a ridiculously long story and WAY more information than you all needed. MOVING ON!


2.) Describe what your novel is about!

Well, well! I just happen to have a (pretty rough) blurb handy.

The Nether Isle—a mystery, a danger. And a prison.

Seventeen-year-old Karis Levine had only ever heard stories of the infamous island where the most savage of criminals are taken. Never in her life did she suspect she'd be flying on a prisoner airship, doomed to live the rest of her days on the island herself. What few days she has left. For the Nether Isle is not a kind one.

The moment Karis is dropped from her cage into the Isle's clutches, she is swept up in all its oddities—from doorways that transport a person to different sections of the island, to ruins of a formerly thriving town, to items imbued with magic, to a redheaded phantom girl. Then there is Jonah, a young man who doesn't appear savage at all. With his help, she might just be able to stay alive.

But why does the Isle exist at all? And who once lived in such a place?

With the aid of a magic camera that produces pictures from the past, Karis and Jonah work together to discover the riddles of the Isle's forgotten days. But the closer they get to answers, the more Karis begins to question everything—including Jonah.

Because on The Nether Isle, nothing is safe.

As you can see, my “creepy forest idea” turned into a whole creepy, overgrown island. AND I LOVE IT.

This story will be a young adult steampunk-fantasy. The world, technology, infrastructure, and clothing are very heavy on the steampunk side. Though standard steampunk usually is based off the Victorian age, I feel like my world is closer to the 1920s? Technologically speaking at least. But, really, the majority of the story takes place on this mysterious island where the “fantasy” aspect takes over. Lots of magic, lots of weird stuff happening. Buildings that move. Doors that change colors. Possibly a super scary beast running around. The island may or may not be alive. JUST FUN AND CREEPY FANTASY THINGS. It also has a bit of a mystery vibe, too. But, come on? Having a camera that reveals things in the past is the perfect setup for my characters to be sleuths and discover the the Isle’s mysteries. And it’s both really creepy but also with fun, hilarious stuff too. Because why have one genre when you can have ALL OF THEM???

So I guess I did end up mixing a bunch of story elements I love. I love steampunk. I love fantasy (duh). Mysteries are great. Creepy stuff is awesome. I love funny stories. It also have a convoluted plot because I’m incapable of keeping things simple buuuuut, in truth, the more complex plots get, the more I love them. (It just hurts my brain when I’m the one writing them…) I AM ALL THE EXCITED.


3.) What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

I love this question!

Creeping mist. Whispers in the night. Gnarled, swaying trees. Crumbling buildings. Dark shadows. Twisting vines. Crunching leaves. Morning sunlight filtering through the hazy woods. Creaking cages. Karis’ mirthful laughter. Jonah’s soft smile. Water ripples. Cracked stone steps. Overgrown gardens. Cogs and screws and old tools scattered around dusty rooms. Rainy days in an ancient library. The whir of airships. Phantoms, lost things, found things, doom and hope and family and sacrifice and friendship.

Okay, I need to stop. But if you want a more visual peek at the story I have a PINTEREST BOARD. And I’m quite in love with it. ^_^


4.) Introduce us to each of your characters!


There’s essentially only two main characters and two side characters. And one or more of those is a villain but I’m not telling you whoooo. *cackles* This is, to date, my smallest cast I’ve ever done. And…it’s kinda great! I mentioned in a post recently that I purposely chose a small cast because my last two NaNos involved like 20 main characters. O_O Sometimes I can’t even remember my own name. Why did I think I could keep up with all of those people??? Needless to say, I was ready for something manageable. It’s kind of a relief to have such a small cast! And I only have one POV even though it’s in third-person. Which is strange for me. I pretty much always have multiple POVs. But, again, I was trying to make this book more manageable than my last two NaNos. XD

But GUYS. I’m kind of head-over-heels for these babies!

Karis is the POV character and my adorbz baby girl. She’s bouncy and energetic and smiles a ridiculous amount and laughs at just about everything. She struggles to stay still and focus—her mind a constant buzz of wandering thoughts and ideas. She hates when she’s forced to follow rules and practicality, much more thriving on spontaneity. But her heart is a big one. She deeply desires to help anyone in need. Even if her methods are sometimes a little…unorthodox. Overall, Karis is a kindhearted, creative, free spirited soul that just wants to bring goodness (and perhaps a little fun) to the world. She’s a mix of the fun-loving and whimsically chaotic personalities I talked about in this post. AND I CANNOT WAIT TO SPEND THE NEXT MONTH IN HER HEAD. I adore the fun, energetic characters!


My other precious baby child. Jonah is quiet, calm, and caring. Putting others’ needs before his own is just second nature. Though at first he can be very shy and reserved, once he’s comfortable with a person his chatty and enthusiastic side comes out. He has a passionate personality, and oozes warmth and comfort. He’s a sensitive type, to others and his own emotions, as his emotions run deep, especially due to him holding them in most of the time. His tendency to be awkward causes him a lot of embarrassment. He’s also a planner, and gets frustrated when things don’t work the same way twice. He’s obviously a bit taken aback by Karis’ nonsensical methods of handling things. But with her creativity and his logic they end up work so well together. THE BABIES. <3 Jonah is absolutely a precious cinnamon roll.

Of course. They each have their secrets... *CACKLES*

My other two characters are Elisabet (“Bet” for short) and Darya. Buuut you’re not supposed to know anything about them, so. *zips lips*


5.) How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

It tends to be different with each book. But for NaNo I always write a ridiculously detailed chapter-by-chapter outline so I know where I’m going and can focus on the words instead of getting stuck with the plot. For me, personally, it just works better that way when I’m having to write a whole story in only 30 days. If I’m pantsing, I like to have more time.

But ANYWAYS, as usual, I completely outlined this story. I started out making character sheets for each of my characters and really digging deep into their personalities, down to their Myers-Briggs types and love languages because I’m obsessive like that. Once I got them and their backgrounds all figured out, I then spent about two weeks feverishly working on my outline. Annnnd it ended up being 16k words. Just the outline. O_O Like I said…I like to make them detailed. I don’t even know, guys…

I also definitely like to assure I have ample supplies of caffeine and am not caught up on other life things before I basically ignore life for a full month. Very important. *nods*

OH. And this year I’m using Scrivener for the first time AND I AM SO EXCITED. It is the perfect writing program for a list-obsessed, OCD writer like me. I have everything organized on it, with sections for my character sheets, an outline (all sectioned off into chapters), my actual draft, ideas, reminders, everything I need all right there! I am soooo pumped to be using it this NaNo for the first time! :D


A screenshot of The Nether Isle’s file on Scrivener.


6.) What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

BASICALLY EVERYTHING. I’m thrilled to be writing something new and different. Between editing Burning Thorns and writing a CoaDS book for each NaNo, it feels like it’s been a while since I’ve just written something utterly new. I cannot waaaaait to tell Karis’s and Jonah’s story because I adore them. And then just the plot itself is wild and crazy and kinda dark and creepy but also with some really fun and (hopefully) unique things as well. Plus feels. Lots of feels. Because feelsy stories and making my readers and myself scream and cry is my fave. (#ActuallyEvil) I think it’s gonna be a wild, amazing ride all the way through. I’m grinning just thinking about writing it!


7.) List 3 things about your novel’s setting.


  • A huge part of the story is these ruins of a weird city. There are buildings built on cliffs and upper levels with bridges running from one place to the next and river on the bottom. The buildings are cracking and a little overgrown by vines and things, but still mostly functioning. Annnd sometimes there’s weird stuff happening in the city ruins, such as the pathways moving like conveyer belts and all sorts of odd and magical items inside the buildings. The style of the city was heavily inspired by this picture…


  • There are “Doorways” which look like square archways placed around the Isle that will randomly deposit you on another place on the Isle.


  • Karis is from the High City of a continent called Ilderwind. The High City is the thriving capital of Ilderwind with a jumble of buildings, stoned streets, a big City Hall. Just a booming steampunk-style town. We get the occasional glimpse of it throughout the story.


8.) What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Karis and Jonah’s first goal is to not die on this crazy Isle that seems bent on killing them. Because, ya know, not dying is cool. Karis later is determined to discover (due to some spoilery circumstances) why the Isle exists at all and who once lived there. But her digging up its secrets leads to…lots of other things which I cannot tell you.

Who or what stands in their way?


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

*points to above gif*

Come now. I’m not giving everything away.


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

Even though I have a 16k outline, theme is something that always happens more prominently while writing. I never really choose a theme. It just…happens. I do know there’s a lot about sacrifice. (Because that theme pretty much always crops up in my novels. It’s just so important to me.) Despite appearances, there’s not all that much in the way of romance. *GASP* In a YA novel? I KNOW. CRAZINESS! Instead, there is a lot of focus on family because I feel like there is not nearly enough of that in the YA genre. But, come on, people! Family is amazing! Family, sacrifice, and standing up for what is right no matter how hard it may be would be the core themes I think. …For now. Who knows what it’ll all be once it’s written!

When my readers close this book I want them to feel like they were taken on an amazing, wild ride. I want them to have laughed and cried and maybe howled a time or two, but, by the end of it all, feel like it was worth it.

. . .

And there we have it! You probably now know waaaaay more about The Nether Isle than you ever wanted to. If it wasn’t obvious, I’m REALLY REALLY REALLY EXCITED TO WRITE THIS. Annnnd I’ll continue to be talking all about it throughout NaNo. #SORRYNOTSORRY

The day after tomorrow, guys! O_____O The next time you hear from me, we’ll be nearly a week into NaNo. And, for any of my newer readers, I’m going to apologize now. The posts I produce during NaNo tend to be my wildest, most incoherent, lack-of-sleep-caffeine-induced posts ever. So…yeah. It’s gonna be fun! *runs away cackling madly*


TELL ME YOUR THOUGHTS, O’ READERS. What do you think of my NaNo novel? Are you in shock NaNo is the day after tomorrow????? (notpanicking notpanicking notpanicking) And for those of you not doing NaNo, would you consider setting up a donation for some of your sanity to the rest of us? Because we’re gonna need it! HAPPY NOVEMBER, EVERYONE! *throws glitter and confetti and fall leaves*

Monday, October 16, 2017

7 (Non-Romantic) Relationships I Love to Find in Books

I know what you’re doing. You’re squinting at that title, trying to make sense of it.
Does that say “Non-Romantic” book relationships? WHAT? THERE IS NO SUCH THING. THAT’S JUST A MYTH.

WELL. They say dragons are a myth too, but we all know that’s not true at all. They’re somewhere out there. I’LL FIND THEM.

But until then and I become a professional dragon rider, I guess I’ll stick to blogging about mythical things like books having relationships that aren’t romantic.

Now, I do actually like romance in books. I don’t like romance books, as in the romance genre. (Ugh, no. Pleeeeease give me a plot that has more than boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy and girl get back together THE END. That just puts me to sleep and/or makes me lose my lunch.) But a touch of romance on the side amidst the world ending can be nice sometimes. (Because them teenagers gotta fall in love whilst bringing down planets and saving the universe. Duh. Makes total sense.) And hey, shipping wars are great! I spend an embarrassing amount of time shipping my own characters. I get it! We like romance. We like to fangirl. That’s fine.

BUT. I do desperately wish these books would acknowledge that, hey, OTHER RELATIONSHIPS EXIST TOO. Have books, YA books especially, never heard of the terms “family” and “friendship” and “platonic love”????? Sheesh, it doesn’t even have to be nice relationships. What about sibling rivalry that ends in betrayal and death over who gets the last taco? Or childhood superpower besties who go their separate ways and one becomes a supervillian and the other a superhero? (<— Yes please.) There are so many types of relationships that can add fun and tension to the story that doesn’t have anything to do with romance.

You don’t believe me do you? (That’s okay. Sometimes I don’t believe myself, I’m so confusing.)

COME. Allow me to turn this myth into a reality!

. . .

Back in July I did a post on 7 Book Character Types I Will Never Tire Of. Because I’m obsessed with characters and lists, I’m going to do something similar today and list 7 of my favorite non-romantic relationships I love to find in books. And I’m even going to list a  couple of books (and linking them to their GoodReads pages) under each point to prove that books can have more than just romantic relationships in them! (And make you add more books to your TBR because I’m evil helpful like that. You’re welcome.)



This one has always been special to me. Maybe because I have an older, protective brother myself? But I even featured this type of relationship in my very first story I wrote when I was 9.

There’s just nothing quite like seeing the strong, nice, brotherly type do everything in his power to keep his little sister safe. Whether that’s going to the ends of the earth to rescue her from a supervillian or simply sitting on the front porch with a shotgun to keep those annoying high school boys away. You know, just in case one of them is a sparkly vampire. He knows she could do better. Like marrying pizza or her bookshelf instead. Big Brother knows.


The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann

Though the protagonist, Bartholomew, is young, he is very protective of his little sister Hettie. In a world where no one wants anything to do with changelings like them, he has to be. He knows they have to stick together. They’re relationship was precious, and actually is featured a bit more in the sequel, The Whatnot. Let’s just say Bartholomew kind of quite literally goes to the ends of the earth for his little sis…


The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Peter Pevensie was always one of my top favorite Narnia characters. Why? Because of his protective nature. Aslan knew what he was doing when he appointed Peter as High King. He makes mistakes, but his heart is right and loyalty unmatched. Though I love his relationship with all his siblings, I always felt like he had something extra special with Lucy. She was his youngest sibling after all, his littlest sister. And you know, without a doubt, he’d do anything in the world to keep his little Lucy safe. Their relationship melts my heart!




For anyone who hasn’t heard this term, let me assure you, this is not romance in any sense of the word. It’s a term we fans use to describe those irreplaceable friendships. The kind we all wish we had. Think Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. Shawn and Gus from the TV show Psych. Cory and Shawn from Boy Meets World. You gotta love ‘em! Although, despite having “bro” in the title, this term has become so popular it now means basically any friendships, no matter the genders. But, for me personally, my favorite is still the classic male besties.

This is literally my favorite relationship to find in fiction—books, TV shows, movies. Or to write it in my own novels. I DON’T CARE. JUST GIVE ME ALL THE BROS. (Why do you think BBC’s Merlin is my favorite show to exist? Merlin and Arthur’s friendship gives me life.)


Brothers-in-Arms by Jack Lewis Baillot

I’m not a big historical fiction fan, but I knew I HAD to have this story because BROMANCE. And oooooh my goodness. This book destroyed me. In the best way possible. Franz and Japhet have been besties since childhood. But things get a little messy when World War II breaks out because Japhet is a Jew…and Franz is not. And just SDLKJDLKJSLJDF. THIS BOOK. If you love bromances and don’t value your heart at all, READ THIS BOOK.


The Sentinel Trilogy by Jamie Foley

Darien and Jet have a complicated relationship—in that they despise each other the moment they meet. OBVIOUSLY it’s a setup for some great bromance. They bicker and clash and don’t understand each other at all. And then they throw their lives into danger for the other (and then whine about it and question their sanity later). EXCUSE ME WHILE I FANGIRL. This is one of the bessst types of bromances. It’s a popular one, and for a reason. You gotta love those friendships where they actually hate each other and then almost die for each other. #TRUEFRIENDSHIP



This is my second favorite after bromances. You can't help but love a group of utterly messed up and different people coming together and forming a totally dysfunctional family. The Guardians of the Galaxy movies perfected this trope. I mean, who would have thought a pop culture-loving human, two aliens, a raccoon, and a tree could come together and save the galaxy??? But by golly THEY DID IT. Family doesn’t have to be blood. Sometimes talking raccoons and a tree can be family, too!

Occasionally members of the motley crew will form a romantic relationship. But that’s okay. Every family needs a mom and dad, right? (Nate and Sophie from Leverage anyone?) Which is another absolutely fun thing with the motley crew—seeing each person take on a specific family role. Who will be like the father? Who are the bickering siblings? Who’s the baby that must be protected? THERE IS JUST SO MUCH FUN TO BE HAD.



The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

With each book in this series, the motley crew became larger in larger, until we had a team of totally epic people off to destroy the evil queen. AND IT WAS THE BEST. Marissa Meyer did a brilliant job of bringing all the characters together and showing their different relationships with one another. In the end, they were like a well oiled machine, ready to save the world. #SQUADGOALS (Can I be part of the Rampion crew? PLEEEASE????)


The DragonKeeper Chronicles by Donita K. Paul

Donita K. Paul is a master of motley crews. When you pickup her books, you just never know what types of characters she’ll throw your way. The DragonKeeper Chronicles has it all. From a slave girl, to a crazy wizard, to a rambunctious little girl, to a reluctant librarian, to DRAGONS THE SIZE OF KITTENS. It just goes on and on. And then you get to watch all these unique peeps work together to stop wicked plots and evil wizards and just SIGN ME UP PLEASE AND THANK YOU.



Because you can never, ever go wrong with twins. Boy twins, girl twins, boy and girl twins. I DON’T CARE. JUST TWINS. And they’re especially fun in books because they usually have some sort of magical twin connection and abilities. IT’S FUN. TWINS ARE GREAT.


Twinepathy by C.B. Cook

Albany and Brooklyn are SUPERPOWER TWINS. Which is doubly as awesome as normal twins. These awesome girls have a TELEPATHIC CONNECTION. Ever need to yell at your siblings but they’re all the way across the house? Well, Albany and Brooklyn can just do it WITH THEIR MINDS. So convenient.



The Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight

Kyrin and Kaden are the actual sweetest. Kyrin is brave and thoughtful and quiet. While Kaden is fun-loving and a little outspoken but just an all around teddy bear. I doubly love him, because, though he’s Kyrin’s twin, he just ooooozes with that protective older brother vibe. But both of them will literally do anything for the other. And I mean anything. (Brb sobbing.) And just SDKJ:KLJSJKDFJ. THEY ARE PRECIOUS.



For some reason I’ve always found those families that have approximately 87 sisters so fun and appealing. I have one sister and we have the bestest of times fangirling and squealing together. But just imagine if there was like 5 more of us?! The house would probably explode in glitter and it’d be fabulous. I’ve always adored Little Women for this very reason. The March sisters’ antics together make me smile every time. I love it when books feature a family of sisters literally flooding the pages with all the girly fun.


Entwined by Heather Dixon

And literally every 12 Dancing Princesses story ever, which is why 12DP is one of my top favorite fairytales. But Entwined is the best I’ve ever read. The sister relationships in this one were spot on. Those girls had the best time together. And they were so real. They’d bicker and stay up late giggling and protect each other and tease each other and just YES. Heather Dixon did a phenomenal job balancing 12 girls and giving them all different personalities. Ugh. Now I want to go reread this book…


Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I mean, duh! This is like the epitome of sisters in fiction. What I especially love about the Bennet sisters is how they each have such realistic and different relationships with one another. Lizzy and Jane are of course the older ones, and naturally closer to one another than with their younger siblings. Mary is very much the middle child left to her own devices. Kitty and Lydia are the immature young ones who influence each other for the bad. The family dynamics are so real. You gotta love them!



So there a man or woman sits, quietly reading a novel, minding their own business when BOOM. They’re suddenly bombarded by some random kid off the street who turns their lives completely upside down and why oh why did this happen to them? They literally just sat down. And now this child they don’t even know is making them get out of their comfy chair and save the world or some such nonsense?

I mean, they can’t say no. They’re a responsible adult. How can they send this parentless child out to save the world alone? What if they forget to bring a coat and catch a chill? What if, horror of horrors, they don’t pack enough food? What if they don’t have the proper equipment and skillsets to destroy their enemies?

You know the drill: Responsible Adult wants nothing to do with Wild Child. Wild Child worms their way into Responsible Adult’s cold, hard heart. They both become better people in the end. We all go AWWWWW!!!

I am always, always up for this type of relationship.


Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Lord Ballister is a villain and Nimona is a shapeshifting little girl who insists she be his sidekick. What can go wrong? (Read: Everything. Everything can go wrong.) This is actually a graphic novel, by the way. Not something I usually read but UGH. It was so good and epic and destroyed me. (Sidenote: There was a liiittle bit of iffy stuff in it though. Not too much, and a lot was more implied than in your face, but I just want everyone to be aware.)


A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder

Miss Drake literally just wants to have a quiet life reading and sipping tea. But, ya know, that’s kind of hard when there’s suddenly a little girl named Winnie bursting into her home and causing havoc, including setting loose magical and dangerous creatures from a enchanted sketchbook and forcing Miss Drake on an adventure to go capture them all. Miss Drake and Winnie’s growing relationship was utterly adorable. And, oh yeah, did I mention Miss Drake was a SHAPESHIFTING DRAGON? Because yes. Speaking of dragons…


(who is apparently not in distress)

HELLO??? Who needs romance when instead you can be besties with a DRAGON? In fact, I petition all fiction ever just be about dragon besties. The world would be a better place, I guarantee it.

But seriously now. Why does fiction always portray dragons as evil beings trying to imprison and eat damsels? Dragons are rather cocky creatures. Why would they eat people who like them? And, as a girl, I can assure you girls like dragons. It’s a fact. I think in the real world dragons would be flattered by our awe of them and we’d all just be epic buddies.



The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede

Out of sheer boredom of being a princess, Cimorene up and decides to run away and live with a dragon. #MyRoleModel She and the dragon Kazul form a great team. Such as when they need to scare off knights who are trying to “rescue” Cimorene from the big, scary dragon. Um, hello? She just wants to hang with her dragon bestie and read and organize the dragon library all day. (Did I mention she’s my role model. Because she’s my role model.)


Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George

After rescuing the heroine, Creel, from a group of bandits, the dragon Shardas offers her a free bed and board in his cave because dragons are very polite creatures. Obviously. I adored Creel and Shardas’ relationship. These two quite literally become total besties. They enjoyed just hanging out and talking and saving the kingdom together—normal friend activities. But seriously, there was something so real and cozy about their friendship. Creel would knit or crochet while Shardas talked or sung to her. I’m telling you, dragons can be very nice, domestic creatures! (Will someone pleeease get me a dragon best friend for Christmas??? *puppy dog eyes*)

. . .


SO SEE??? There can toooootally be epic relationships in books that don’t have anything to do with romance.

Also DRAGONS. Just add dragons in your books, people. It’ll make them 3000% more successful. Trust me.


LET’S FANGIRL/BOY. Name some of your favorite types of non-romantic relationships in fiction! Do we share any? Or have completely opposite opinions? And do you have any book recommendations for me that feature any of these types of relationships? (Particularly epic bromances, motley crews, or DRAGONS???) BECAUSE I NEED THEM ALL.

Due to the fact that October is getting away from me and I still have a ton to do to prepare for NaNoWriMo (not that I’m freaking out or anything I’mtotallyfreakingout), I won’t be posting next Monday. But then the next Monday (Oct. 30th) I’ll be finally telling you guys alllll about my NaNo novel! I’ve just got to actually figure it out myself before I can, ya know, tell you about it. *nervous laughter*

Monday, October 9, 2017

How to Have a Successful NaNoWriMo (Bonus: Without Dying)



But this one has true purpose! Last week I had a dear soul seeking advice on how to venture into the NaNo waters, and I’ve had multiple people ask me similar questions throughout the years. Thus I decided to finally just write a whole post with some tips and tricks on how to have a successful NaNoWriMo.

ALSO. Most of these apply to just writing a novel in general. So even if you’re not participating in NaNo, this may still be beneficial. (I PROMISE I LOVE ALL OF YOU.)

Naturally everyone’s NaNo experiences and writing habits vary from one person to the next. Some of this may not be helpful at all. But these are just some tips I’ve learned over the years to help me stay on track, keep some of my sanity (#LIES there is no sanity during NaNo), annnd NOT DIE. Which is always a plus!






If you’re anything like me, the moment midnight strikes and October 31st turns into November 1st, you’re only focus is WRITING. All those other silly life-y things are just a distraction and annoyance because WORDS. MUST WRITE. MUST REACH WORD COUNT. WOOOORDS.

But wait! You didn’t answer that email you promised you’d get done. And what about all the laundry that’s piled up? And and and…what if the worst of the worst happens? What if you get…WRITER’S BLOCK????

The last thing you want at the beginning of NaNoWriMo is to realize you have 2938493 other things that need doing. Or to be writing happily along only to get utterly and woefully stuck in your story and not be able to continue writing.

That’s where we take advantage of October. I always refer to October not only as “NaNo Prepping Month” but “Catch Up Month”. Because that’s when I make sure I’m fully caught up on emails, commitments, housework, whatever it may be! When November 1st hits, I like my plate to be empty so I can focus fully on my story. Sure, things will still pile up throughout the month, but at least they won’t be piling up on top of an already huge to-do pile.

Then there’s the ever dreaded WRITER’S BLOCK. Fun story, I used to be a full pantser. Plotting a story was unheard of! But for my first NaNo I decided, “Hey, what if I attempted plotting a story to assure I don’t get writer’s block?” And so I did. And by that I mean I wrote a nearly 10k-word chapter-by-chapter outline. (I have an obsessive personality, okay???) Needless to say, no writer’s block plagued me that NaNo. I always knew what scene came next. Which was lovely. Thus I plotted for the next NaNo, and all the ones after that. These days, I consider myself a plotter more than a pantser. (My young self would be shocked at my adult self.)

But ANYWAYS. I’m  by no means saying you should write a 10k-word outline. (Some of you may actually value your sanity. I obviously hate mine…) I’m just saying, even a little plotting is good security for when you have to write a whole novel in only 30 days. But if you’re a hardcore pantser, ignore my advice! YOU DO YOU.

(Buuut if you want a step-by-step guide on how I personally like to plot, you can read THIS POST. Except I hesitate to share it because I wrote that back during my FIRST YEAR OF BLOGGING. That post was written 7 years ago, guys! But it may still help if you’re looking for some plotting ides. Just…read at your own risk.)



The first week of NaNo is a magical time. You’ve just embarked on an exciting adventure. You’re stepping out into the great unknown, ready to pour those words onto the page and see what amazing discoveries you find on the way.

Then the second week happens.

You’ve been writing nonstop for a week. You’re exhausted, have consumed an unhealthy amount of caffeine, and your plot is falling apart. All you can think of is, “There’s still THREE MORE WEEKS OF THIS???”

(Okay, the second week is oddly usually my favorite because I’m getting comfortable with my story and in the habit of writing every day, SO THERE IS HOPE.)

By the third and fourth week, all the things you’ve been ignoring have begun to pile up, the dishes in the sink are reminiscent of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, there are Thanksgiving plans to be made. That silly Life thing is getting in the way of the words! Suddenly you’re finding you do not have nearly as much time or mental energy to write as you did that magical first week and your word count is suffering. So what are you to do?

Take advantage of the magical high of the first week! Rack up them words while your mental energy is still filled up. (And while you still love your story and don’t want to burn it with fire and throw the ashes in the ocean.) Use that first week to write as much as possible so you’ll have a cushion for when Life happens and exhaustion takes over. Trust me, your second-half-of-November-self will be singing praises to your first-half-of-November-self.



If you look at NaNo as a whole, it can seem…daunting. I mean, 50,000 WORDS IN 30 DAYS???? ARE WE CRAZY? (Well, yes, but that’s not the point.) But here’s the thing, you really only have to write 1,667 words a day. That’s the designated daily number to reach that 50k. Not too overwhelming, right? Of course, that means you have to write 1,667 EVERY DAY, and if you miss a single one you’re suddenly behind on the word count. *cue crisis*

So I like to make myself a goal of 2k minimum a day instead. Just like using the first week to rack up the words will form a cushion, adding a little extra to that designated 1,667 also gives a nice comfy cushion to halt those uncomfortable crises. And that little 333 extra words really doesn’t feel like too much extra work, but it adds up in the long run!



On the flip side, instead of making one set goal for every day, making different goals each day is a huge help. Because some days are just going to be busier than others.

For example, on the days I’m going to be home all day, I may set myself a crazy goal of 5k for that day (because I hate myself apparently). But on the days I’m at work, I have to be more realistic and shoot for just 2k for the day.

No matter what, I always try to set some kind of word count goal at the beginning of each day. Because if I didn’t, I may just say, “Eh, I’ll write when I can” and then…“accidentally” scroll on Pinterest for 2 hours. But a goal helps me stay focused and forces me to keep writing until I reach it. Because I CANNOT FAIL. #Perfectionist

And word count goals aren’t the only kind! I also set rules for myself. One that helps a TON is the rule that I’m not allowed to touch the internet or update my word count on the NaNo website until I’ve written the first 1k or 2k words for the day. THAT’S SERIOUS MOTIVATION. Or maybe I’ll set a rule that I can’t watch the newest episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic until I’ve reached my daily word count goal. Again, MOTIVATION, amiright?




Writing is a lonely, discouraging adventure. Sometimes it feels like Frodo’s journey to Mordor was easier because at least he had Sam, right??? But we have to face this journey ALOOOONE. *drapes arm over forehead dramatically*

But wait.

Do we have to do it alone???

Guess what? YOU DON’T. Especially not during NaNo! Because with NaNo, you’re traversing the same journey with thousands of other people. IT’S MAGICAL. Buuuut, unfortunately, you’re still technically in your bedroom typing up those words with no one but your cat to keep you company. And holing yourself away for 30 looong days can get…depressing. That magic spark at the beginning may fade and you start questioning your life choices.


NaNo takes so much mental energy. Trying to tackle it and keep up the optimism by yourself is HARD. So what to do?

ANNOUNCE TO THE WORLD YOU’RE DOING NANO. Tell your family, your friends. Chat with people on the NaNo forums because what better support group is there than people going through the exact same thing you are? You can even select on the NaNo site what region you’re from and you can attend actual, real life write-ins with people in your own region who are participating in NaNo as well. Fun stuff!

Social media is also a lifeline. Twitter (<—shameless plug to my twitter account) is my favorite place to hang out during NaNo, because it’s quick, so doesn’t cut into much writing time, but at the same time I can keep up with my fellow Wrimos and scream and cry and whine share my own progress. We even post snippets over there and our current word counts and cheer each other on. I love my little twitter community!

How ever you do it, JUST FIND PEOPLE. Whether in person or online. A support group is vital! Not only to have people who will keep you accountable, but also to get some encouragement boosts during those days when you just want to crawl under your bed and never look at a keyboard again.



“I thought we were talking about writing, Christine,” I know you’re probably thinking. “What is this foreign word exercise???”

I KNOW. Craziness. But, believe it or not, exercise is good for you and even helps with your writing. SHOCKING, RIGHT????

Okay, so, truthfully, I don’t exercise neeearly as much as I should. But I do find it even more important during NaNo than other times because we’re spending sooo much time bent over our computer screens. I mean, yes, your fingers are getting an unbelievable workout but, ya know, SPOILERS: we do have more than just fingers.

Last year I made a habit of exercising every afternoon during NaNo. It was super hard to pull myself away from the computer and cut into my writing time. But you know what? I actually wrote more words that NaNo than I had for the last multiple NaNos. I realized taking a break and moving my body around for a while helped refuel my creativity and energy. I was pumped and ready to dive right back into writing after each workout.

Plus, you know, it helped keep me alive and stuff.

It’s also good to get up and move every 30 minutes or so. Lately I’ve been occasionally getting up from my laptop and doing a few jumping jacks. Because, turns out, sitting at the computer for 5 hours straight isn’t good for one’s body. WHO KNEW???

Yes, it can be hard to force ourselves away from the words, but, in the end, you’ll be so glad you did.

(And I’m mostly just telling myself this because I’m the worst about forgetting to exercise. SO EXERCISE, CHRISTINE. SHEESH.)



Just like getting up and exercising can help refuel your creativity as well as save your poor muscles from misery, switching where you’re writing does the same.

This one is a big one for me. I do my best to write in different places throughout the day. Sitting in one place can be a drain on body and mind. I’ve learned if I’m feeling unmotivated to write, simply switching to a new seat can recharge my imagination.

If you’re able, move to a new location every hour or so. And I don’t mean you have to leave your house. Just find a new place to sit. I’ll switch from my chair in my room, to the bed, to the desk, to the porch swing, to the table on our deck, all in the course of one day. But also taking your laptop to the library or a local coffee shop is great, too!

Just move around! The change of position and scenery will do wonders for your motivation.


(water is probably good too)

You now why it’s a stereotype for writers to consume unreasonable amounts of coffee?


Not only does caffeine reboost our energy enough to churn out a few more hundreds or thousands of words, it’s also just much more fun to have something tasty to drink while you sit there writing and writing and writiiiing. Taking a sip of something delicious is a nice little break for our minds as we ponder the next sentence. It breaks the monotony. All around, it’s a win-win!

So yes, drink that coffee! I mean, come on. Writing 50k words in 30 days? YOU’RE GONNA NEED COFFEE. It’s science.

But it doesn’t have to be actual coffee! There are all manner of tasty, caffeinated drinks to boost your energy. Sheesh. It doesn’t even have to be a drink. Why not have a pack of gummy bears and eat one every 100 words? (By the way, little reward systems like that is fantastic motivation as well.) Just something to keep your mind alert and help you not lose it as you sit there writing for 5 hours. (Oh wait, we just discussed how we’re not supposed to sit at the computer for 5 hours straight, didn’t we…?)


Immense amounts of caffeine isn’t exaaactly the most healthy thing for your body. You still need water! We’re supposed to drink 8 glasses of water a day after all. I don’t think 8 cups of coffee counts… I pretty much always have a glass of water next to me. Like, at all times. That way I’m drinking it throughout the day and, ya know, not dying. Because when we’re in that writing zone it can be hard to remember to get up and drink some water. So it’s good to make sure you always have some next to you. I sometimes find I drink more water when I’m writing, because when I get stuck on what to say in the next sentence, I’ll end up reaching for my water as I ponder how to word it. And, well, I get stuck on how to word things…a lot. So I end up sucking down that water preeeetty fast while writing.

Basically, JUST TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. It can be easy to slip into bad habits during something as crazy as NaNoWriMo (trust me, I’m the queen of bad health habit…). But making sure you’re healthy is so much more important than getting thousands of words in a day. (<— LISTEN TO YOURSELF, CHRISTINE.)

And, as I mentioned earlier, you’ll probably find yourself able to produce more words if you keep your mental and physical energy up.



Back in the olden days, I always thought if I wrote, I had to set out a couple of hours at least to do it.

Then NaNo happened.

From my very first NaNo, I quickly learned the value of writing in short bursts between those life-y things. Waiting for your lunch to come out of the oven? Go throw together 100 words. Sitting in the doctor’s office? Pull out your phone and get some words down. It may seem like writing in 5 or 10 minutes increments won’t add up, but it does!

In general, I definitely want to set aside a couple of hours at a time to write and fully disappear in my story for a while. But, unfortunately, Life happens (#Rude), and it’s great to get in the habit of writing some words amidst Life.

To me, that’s the true point of NaNo—to teach us how to find time to write even when we don’t have time to write. To create those stories we’ve always wanted to amidst our crazy busy lives.

I can’t even begin to number all the good writing habits I’ve learned by doing NaNo each year. (I mean, sometimes I don’t act on those habits I’ve learned but, ya know, knowing them is a start, right? *cough*)



NaNo can be a stressful time.


Okay, okay. NaNo is a stressful time. But you know what? The whole point is to just have FUN!

Sure, the “goal” may be to write 50k words in 30 days. But I firmly believe that’s not the ultimate purpose.

The TRUE purpose of NaNo is to help us create the stories that have been buzzing in our head, aching to get out. To teach us how to make time for writing amidst our busy lives. To just have a good time and write stories with countless other people around the world!

So it doesn’t matter if you write 500 words or 50,000. What matters is that you did write something. I repeat…


You stepped out bravely and did your best and made progress on your creative pursuits. And that is what makes you a winner. Not your word count.

So don’t let that scary word count number stop you. Don’t let the fear of failure hold you back. JUST WRITE AND HAVE FUN.

There is something so special and magical about NaNoWriMo. It’s something I’ve been trying to put into words for 8 years now, and I still can’t. You just have to experience it for yourself.

So if you’re wanting to give it a try, DO IIIIIIITTTTTT!!!!!!

I promise, you won’t regret it.

~ ~ ~


LET’S TALK WRITING. Do you have any things to add to my list? Any habits that help you get those words to the page (without dying of stress #Bonus)??? Do you like to plot or pants your novel? Or are you a plantser and do a little of both? (I’ve literally done all 3 because I’m a weirdo.) And do you have any other questions about NaNo I didn’t cover here? ASK AWAY.

P.S. If you’re doing NaNo, I’d looove to buddy you over there! You can find my profile HEEERE!!!

Monday, October 2, 2017

7 Tips For Choosing Your Next Novel To Write



Which also means it’s officially…


(Are you freaking out? Because I’m totally freaking out.) (Also, I warned you NaNoWriMo will be like my only posting subject for a while. #Sorrynotsorry)

SO. Last week I basically took a whole post to yell at you all to just write the story you want to write and not let fear stop you! Buuuut some of you may be thinking, “That was all well and good, Christine, but I still don’t know what story I want to write for NaNoWriMo.” I mean, out of the 2938398434 plot bunnies that have been vying for your attention, IT CAN BE HARD TO CHOOSE. There are so many variables.

Such as…

  • What are you in the mood to write? (Fantasy? Rom-com? That weird steampunk story with ninja sorcerers and zombie pirates that’s been sitting in the back of your mind for years?)
  • Do you want to try writing out of your usual genre or stick with the familiar?
  • Should you write something with a small cast to make things simple? Or a large cast to help add to that word count?
  • Are you wanting to write a story that will actually be publishable or just do something fun and crazy for yourself?
  • What story are you even willing to stick with for 30 long crazy days???

THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS TO CONSIDER. Deciding on what book to pour your HEART AND SOUL AND SWEAT AND TEARS into can be…daunting. Terrifying. Overwhelming. Let’s face it, sometimes it’s a complete nightmare. Remember last week when I said I lost sleep trying to decide on what my NaNo novel would be? Yeeeah.


Because I love you all, I’ve compiled a list of some tips and questions to ask yourself to help you wrangle that unruly indecision into submission! (This is more a less a part two or continuation of last week's post. Sort of… Let’s just pretend!) These are all things I’ve done over the years (and not only with NaNo, with ALL my novels) that have helped a lot, so maybe, hopefully, perhaps they’ll aid you as well!




This one is probably obvious but it’s very, very, very, very IMPORTANT. Spending hours inside one single novel can be…tedious. To say the least. Especially during NaNo when you’re forcing yourself to write day after day after day. You do NOT want to be bored with your story.

If you have a story idea that just doesn’t fuel your soul then…maybe find something else that does? That’s ultimately how I settled on what I’m writing for NaNo. I had multiple ideas, but one in particular made me literally do a little jig I was so excited to write it. (I’M AN OVER EXCITABLE PERSON, OKAY??) It was at that moment I knew that was the story I wanted to write this November.

So whether you’re doing NaNoWriMo or just looking for that next book to pen, make sure it’s one that makes your heart dance at the thought of forming it into being.

AND don’t just write the story idea you love, also write scenes you love. See, back in the olden days, with Baby Christine’s novels, I’d often just write whatever next scene came to mind. I’d settle for my first ideas, even if they were mediocre. As a result, I ended up writing a lot of boring scenes. Which meant I was bored. Which also means my readers would be bored. WHICH IS A BIG NO NO. I did quite a bit of this in my NaNo 2012 novel. I had so many scenes I forced myself to write that I just…didn’t want to. Needless to say, that wasn’t my favorite NaNo.

Thus, once NaNo 2013 rolled around, I made one simple goal: Make the story AWESOME. No more mediocre scenes! No more boredom! Which included making every single scene something I’d enjoy writing. I do extensive plotting with NaNo novels, so as I plotted, when I thought up a scene that bored me, I’d ditch it and replot the scene into something I knew I’d have a blast writing.

NaNo 2013 was one of my most favorite NaNos. (And one of my most feelsy novels to write because emotional scenes are my faaaave. Those poor, poor characters… Bwahahahaha…haha…ha. Ahem.)

Since that experience, I’ve learned—plotting or pantsing—if I’m about to write/plot a scene that bores me, I need to STOP and rework it into something fun to write. Which, in turn, will hopefully be something fun to read.

Moral of the story: Write a whole book that is chock full of stuff you enjoy writing about. Don’t just “settle”. Write something you LOVE.



Okay, so this is very much a suggestion, and may be personal taste. But after 7 years of NaNo, it’s something I’ve discovered is helpful for myself.

(Disclaimer: Yes, I did write each book of the same series for all seven of my NaNos, so I don’t exactly have the expertise of someone who wrote completely different novels every NaNo. But each book in my series followed different characters and, though set in the same world, had very different plotlines, so each one still felt new and fresh. Thus I still learned what I liked to write and what I didn’t along the way despite it being 7 years of one series.)

Sometimes I get bored writing the same ol’, same ol’. I have to shake things up and try new things to stay interested in my novels. But, at the same time, there are some things I know I’d never want to write. (Like historical fiction, for example.) I like to stay in my comfortable realm of speculative fiction, while still adding some new, interesting plot devices I’ve never tried before. That way, I’m not too overwhelmed writing something I have no clue how to write, but at the same time know I have some fun, unexpected things to try my hand at.

For example, I wrote a 7-book medieval fantasy series for the last 7 NaNos. Medieval fantasy is my genre, it’s the one I feel the most comfortable with. The one I started out writing, and will probably always come back to. Buuuut after 7 years of writing in the same medieval world, I kind of wanted to shake things up. Where the first few books stuck to a very classic medieval fantasy world where the most interesting thing that happened was swordfights (so many swordfights Z_Z), as I got older and more experienced in writing, I shook things up in the series. Such as stars being people, and a dragon the size of a city, and EXPLOSIONS. Explosions everywhere! (Not even kidding.) I also raised the stakes, added torture scenes (that was a new one for me), threw in a very interesting character, etc., etc. Suddenly, that simple medieval fantasy series I was kind of getting bored with by the time I got to the third book became WAY more fun to write. And I happily wrote 4 more books and finished it. All because I chose to try new things, even though I was writing my “comfort zone genre”.

Yes, it is good to try new things and get out of your comfort zone. Buuuut, ya know, sometimes we have comfort zones for a reason. I think I’d be a terrible historical fiction novelist. That is not my comfort zone, and it’d be silly to attempt it just for the sake of “getting out of my comfort zone”. We have the genres we love and don’t love. It’s as simple as that. So why not just expand our comfort zones? Why not stay inside them, but spice them up with some new, shiny things? Like unicorns and explosions. (You can never go wrong with either of those things. #Fact)

Believe me, spicing up a genre you love is a blast. These days, what makes me want to write the most is adding new, crazy twists to genres I already love to write. Familiar and new—best of both worlds!



This is an important question, especially for NaNo novels. Because once November 1st hits, none of us are going to want to cut into our writing time by spending hours on Google researching…only to realize those hours of work was spent just so you can write one paragraph of something accurately. Now, a lot of people while first drafting just make notes at parts that need to be researched, and then do the proper researching during the second draft. That’s good. I totally do this myself. (Well, sometimes I fail at the whole physical note taking, but I make notes in my brain. That counts…right? Imakesomanymistakes.)

BUT. Let’s pretend I did lose my mind and decide to write historical fiction. Maybe I spontaneously feel like writing a 1800s novel set on the sea. WELL GUESS WHAT. I’m kind of the worst at history and am super bad about knowing the terms of things as simple as clothing items, and I know nooooothing about ships. If I didn’t research I couldn’t write anything. Instead of just a note here and there reminding myself to research a sword fighting technique or what mushrooms are poisonous and then moving on with the story, the WHOLE novel would just be one note that said “DO YOUR RESEARCH YOU UNEDUCATED LUG NUT”. And that’s only 7 words, so it wouldn’t exactly be a successful NaNo. But, if I had the mind to, I could spend the entirety of October pouring myself into 1800s facts and learning the inner workings of ships and be ready to write those 50k words instead of…7.

SO. It’s just a matter of how much you want to research or not. Being fully prepared once you’re ready to begin that story will save a lot of stress, believe me!


(Aha, I mentioned this one at the beginning of the post. Continuation!)

This is actually something I very much took into account myself for this NaNo. See, for the last two NaNos, I was writing the big two-part finale for my medieval fantasy series. Which meant every. single. character. that was featured in the previous books were now ALL together in these finales (with the exception of the ones that died eheheheh…heh). I was juggling about 20 main characters at once. (I really wish that was an exaggeration…) Needless to say, I got a leetle overwhelmed. And by that I mean I was banging my head on my desk wondering, “Whyyyy did I make so many characters???” (I may have to cut some come revising time. *cough*)

After two years of that and finally being done with the series, I decided something for this NaNo: It’s going to be a small cast. No matter what novel I wrote, the cast was going to be SMALL.

But that’s just me. There are many pros and cons to small vs. large casts, particularly for NaNo novels.

Such as…

-Small casts are easier to manage, but they don’t always aid in the large wordcount department.

-Large casts will get you a lot of words (my series finale ended at 147k words because I had roughly 94958 loose ends and sideplots to tie up, yeeeah), but it can be overwhelming. I mean, I can’t even remember my own name. How am I going to remember 12 character names??? And manage it in only 30 days?!

But this is of course a personal thing. Some people always want to write large casts, some people prefer just having a small group to keep up with. These are simply thoughts to consider before you embark on this 30 day writing journey! Or…any writing journey!


#5: PRAY

‘Cause writing 50k words in 30 days requires a lot of prayer!

Okay, but seriously now. This is something I’ve been working on for the past couple of years, and it has made a huge difference. For some reason, I used to not think of praying for my writing???? Which was crazy, because my writing is basically my life. And I firmly believe God gave me this passion for it, so why would I not include Him in the whole process?

I believe last week I mentioned how a couple of years back I had made the decision that the next novel I wrote I’d write with purpose. As in, I wouldn’t just write yet another first draft and then move on to the next shiny thing. I’d actually stick with this book and pursue publishing with it and get serious about becoming an author. But that brought on the question of: WHAT ON EARTH DID I WANT TO WRITE??? This was a big deal. That next novel may become my debut novel and launch my writing career. But what did I want to start with?

Then it occurred to me. I should pray.

And I did. A lot.

Right around that time, the results for the 2nd annual Rooglewood Press contest were about to be announced. The goal of the contest was to write a Beauty and the Beast retelling novella, and I had entered an entry. Well, the morning the results were going to be released, I snagged up my phone the moment I woke up and looked to see who the winners were. My name wasn’t on the list.

But you know what? Instead of the bitter disappointment I expected to feel, I felt…peace. I pondered it as I showered that morning, and the answer to why I felt at peace and what I had been praying for hit me: That novella I had entered would be much better as a novel. In fact, Beauty and the Beast is a very special story to me, and my love of fairytales has been around since I was a toddler. Wouldn’t it be special to have my debut novel a Beauty and the Beast retelling?

And that’s how my novel, Burning Thorns, came to be. If I had won a spot in the contest, I wouldn’t have been allowed to turn Burning Thorns into the novel it is today. I don’t think I was ready to be done with it. Of course, it’s got a long road yet. I don’t know if it’ll be published or not, or what God has planned. But I do know He gave me that peace and has helped guide me on my writing journey.

Because God cares. He cares so much about your passions. He gave you that passion for words after all!

And that’s why I shared this (overly rambly) story with you. To show you that praying for your writing is important. If you’re feeling lost, ask God to guide you to that next story. You never know what amazing journey He’ll take you on!



“Oh come on, Christine!” you’re all no doubt moaning. “You literally wrote a humongous post last week about not being afraid!” I know, right??? And, fun fact, that post from last week sort of started out as this post. But my point about not letting fear hold you back from writing your story got so long, I just made it its own post and decided to write this one for later. (Which is why I keep mentioning last week’s post in this one, since they were originally going to be one in the same.) What can I say? I HAVE A LOT OF THINGS TO SAY.

But yes, I’m putting this point here anyway because IT’S SUPER IMPORTANT. And I have one more thing to add that I didn’t mention last week.

Sometimes it is tempting to not write that SUPER AWESOME EPIC AMAZING story idea you have for NaNo because we are writing at breakneck speed and making a mess of things. The idea of totally creating a disaster out of that story idea you love so much is scary.

And I’m going to be real with you, NaNo novels are messy! THEY ARE. You’re writing thousands of words in just 30 day. SO MANY TYPOS. SO MANY PLOT HOLES. HOW DID THAT CHARACTER’S NAME GET CHANGED THREE TIMES? I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING. (<--- My actual NaNo experiences.)

But you know what? Honestly, sometimes I wonder if my NaNo stories come out better. Yes, they're littered with typos and dreadful writing and even plot holes, but the HEART is there, possibly more than with other stories. Because I'm living my novel. Non-NaNo novels I write are usually written more slowly in between life. But with NaNo novels, they are my life. For 30 days I’m living and breathing that novel and, no joke, I get a little disorientated when I look up from writing and focus back on real life, because I’m so utterly and completely honed in on that novel for so many days in a row. I get so wrapped up in the world and characters and emotions, I think they come out with more HEART and LIFE than my other novels. Typos and plot inconsistencies can be fixed during the editing phase. But it’s during that first draft phase that you’re putting the HEART of the novel together. And that’s what really makes a good story into a great story.

So even though I did a whole post on it last week, I’m saying it again: Don’t be afraid of getting your novel “just right”. Just WRITE it. (SeewhatIdidthere?)



You know what? Forget all my tips and ignore my advice and listen to Loki instead:

This is your novel. Your time you’ll be using to write it. JUST WRITE WHAT YOU WANT. Don’t be afraid (<— okay, that’s the one tip you shouldn’t ignore), don’t let anything hold you back. If you want to write about leprechauns who live on the moon and battle space werewolves with cheese graters, DO IT.

Stay in your comfort zone. Don’t stay in your comfort zone. Plot all month. Forget plotting and pants the whole thing. Write the largest cast ever. Or make a story that literally only has one person. It doesn’t matter!


You’re going to have an absolutely amazing time!


Now my favorite bit, talking to YOU. Do you have any tips or tricks you use to figure out what novel to write next? Do you have a specific type of novel you like to write for NaNoWriMo? AND WHO’S DOING NANOWRIMO????? (I’m excited, if it’s not noticeable.) Alsoooo if you’re new to the whole NaNo thing or just interested in it but have some questions DON’T HESITATE TO ASK ME. NaNo is my favorite subject and this’ll be my 8th time to participate so…hopefully I know my way around enough to answer any questions. *grins*

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