NaNoWriMo · WIP · Writing

NaNoWriMo: Week Two

“Let perseverance be your engine and hope your fuel.”

—H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

IMG-6428Sooo…week two! This is always a hard week for everyone, I think. Things change in week two. I realize what a huge undertaking NaNoWriMo is. Doubt is beginning to crawl along the edges of my mind. I mean, NaNoWriMo have even called it the “week two blues.” So you’re not alone. Thankfully, I’ve remained beyond target this week with 40k—meaning I’ve written just as much this week as I did last week (almost)—but it hasn’t been easy. Some days I’ve sat down and words have just been so achingly difficult. I find this happens when I reach this point with most of the books I write, too: I arrive at a place in the story where things HAVE to move forward, but most of the time I’m not sure how to get there. I mentioned in the last post I LOVE middles…and while that’s still true, I’m in the thick of the book where the plot feels stagnated, my characters are refusing to cooperate (which is ironically fitting as my protagonist is SUPER stubborn…), and I realize that I probably should have prepped more. Thank god for coffee…

But. Just. Keep. Going.

This is exactly what NaNoWriMo is about—writing when it gets tough, writing when you’re not sure you can write. Breathe in. Breathe out. You’ve got this. It’s about writing down the words now, and editing later, and getting down the core of the story—why you’re writing this particular book in the first place. So…breathe. Take a break. Bake some muffins. Go for a walk. Find a way to fall in love with your story, so much so that it banishes fears of failure. Let yourself daydream, let your mind wander. Sometimes the BEST writing happens when you’re not actually writing at all. Tell yourself it’s okay if you don’t win, because with writing, progress is all that matters. Crank up that inspirational music (a la Two Steps from Hell), shut out the world for a bit…and write.

… At least, that’s what I’ve been telling myself all week.

And slowly, it’s been getting better. Scenes are beginning to pour out of me; I’m less frustrated; I have a clearer vision of what direction the book is taking. I’ve reached the part in my NaNo project where, as the toughness begins to pass and I become more familair with my characters, I can see the end in sight (or, at the very least, the end of NaNoWriMo). I now know where the story is headed, and I have a firm, but not set in stone, concept of how the characters will get there. And of course, I’m incredibly excited for the climatic scenes and big, explosive moments I’ve been dyinnggggg to write since I began the project.

Continuing in the same vein as the last couple of weeks, here’s a track that’s literally been getting me through week two of NaNoWriMo in one piece, by none other than the hands-down incredible Howard Shore. (The entire score for these three movies are just breathtaking. And this one…oh my gosh, CHILLS. This song literally inspired an entire scene/plot movement for this book.)

I’ve literally been listening to “The Grace of Undómiel” on repeat during certain scenes. It’s somehow hopeful & ethereal, as well as beautifully…sad. (And yes, it’s making me want to rewatch the entire series… Maybe after NaNo…)

Despite the fact that I’m 10k away from completely NaNoWriMo, I still have a TON of this novel left to complete that I’ll hopefully write over the rest of November/December, so for now, I intend to keep doing weekly updates of my NaNo progress! (…and let’s hope I can work out the kinks in this plot before moving on.)

And one last time for all the NaNoWriMo people out there who feel the same as I’ve been this week…

You simply have to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Put blinders on and plow right ahead.

—George Lucas

Week two of NaNoWriMo is coming to an end. How are you going? What’s gotten you through this week of NaNo?

Currently reading: …again, nothing! But hopefully I’ll pick up a book once I’ve completed the 50k & will probably end up slowing down my pace.

Currently listening to: “Reputation” by Taylor Swift… Yes, I LOVE her new album.

NaNoWriMo · WIP · Writing

NaNoWriMo: Week One (+ Beautiful Books Link-Up!)

ONE week down of NaNoWriMo, three more to go… How is everyone going!? As I draft this post, I’ve reached 23k. So far, I’m SUPER pleased with my progress. I admit, it was a slow start for me—I think about 2k words on the first day—but after that, as I fell more in tune with my WIP, everything has been going much smoother (I mean…as smooth as writing can ever be.) I admit: part of my brain is still, even days later, stuck in my last WIP, but the more I write, the easier it is to open the Word Doc. and dive in straight away. In my last post, I mentioned that I would continue to share some of the music from my playlist that I’ve been using as inspiration … so this week’s is “Flames of Glory” by Really Slow Motion. ❤

I absolutely love the slow-build of this song, and how it’s full of so much hope and determination…and it REALLY reminds me of my protagonist. Whenever I’m feeling unsure in this MS, this is the song I go back to for inspiration.

bb-redone1So today, I’m linking up with Cait & Sky for the “Beautiful Books” link-up. I’m SUPER excited for this, because it fits perfectly in with my first NaNoWriMo weekly update.

(P.S. the lovely & kind & amazing Cait just recently announced her book deal and I am so excited. Go check it out!!)

1. Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?

Sort of talked about above, but well! I haven’t yet reached the I-hate-you stage of this WIP and words are coming fairly easily.

2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

I mentioned that I didn’t intend to share anything from this rough-rough-rough draft, but here we go. (FYI: this isn’t the first paragraph/sentence. Just something from this draft I think is somewhat passable.)


3. Who’s your current favorite character in your novel?

My favorite character will ALWAYS be my protagonist. She’s full of light, and hope, and she’s 100% willing to fight for what she believes in, and for herself and her sisters.

4. What do you love about your novel so far?

This is so, so hard to choose. Because so far, I love everything about my novel. I love the bond shared between the three sisters; I love the concept of my Fae and griffins; I love the dangerous and beautiful world it’s set in. World building has always been a favorite element of writing fantasy to me, and it’s been incredibly fun (…so far) to craft this world!

5. Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?

Nothing that I’ve noticed so far, but oh my god, I just know that when I go through to revise/edit there will be so many of them. My last WIP (which I completed just before NaNoWriMo begun), was written in third person, whereas I chose first for my NaNo project. So, as my brain is still sort of in editing mode from my last WIP, I’ve been making embarrassingly stupid third/first person POV errors, and accidentally switching between them. (It’s SO not going to be fun correcting them. Gah.)

6. What is your favorite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

It’s sort of cheating if I say “all of it”…but it’s true! I’ve been toying with this concept for just about a year now…so it’s all pouring out of me. Like I mentioned in my NaNo prep post, I’m not a huge planner, but so many scenes, characters, and settings have slowly been unfurling in my mind for what feels like forever. Beginnings are always challenging to write (have I started in the right place? Is it engaging enough? Is it easy enough to understand with a whole-new fantasy world setting?), so I sort of love them for that. I already know this beginning will undergo a whole lot of revision by the time I’m done with it. The middle is fun, too. For a lot of writers this is where the plot sags, but honestly, I see it as an opportunity to introduce new places and people, and plant the seeds for the ending scenes. The ending is always so much fun to write. When I write my endings, I’ll usually write them all in one sitting…because they’re scenes/ideas/concepts that I’ve been DYING to get out the entire time.

7. What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

Coffee. So much coffee. Too much coffee. I love to have a drink around me when I write (and edit.) But if it’s not coffee, then definitely tea. Right now I’m obsessing over a cranberry and pomegranate (I drunk SO much of this when I revised MIDNIGHT QUEEN… As it’s partly inspired by Hades & Persephone, it seemed fitting) & strawberry, loganberry, and raspberry tea. I don’t often eat while writing—a little too distracting—but music is a must. As is silence. I can write anytime, but I prefer nighttime when it’s quieter. Also…I am not a morning person. At all. And if you want to see a picture of my writing space, my first ever post on this blog was about that!

8. How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone?

A little bit of both, I guess. It’s so nice to have a writing group to cheer you on, and writing sprints have definitely helped to increase my word count this week, but at the end of the day, drafting is often a solitary thing. I love to be completely, utterly wrapped up in my project, and I can only do that alone.

9. What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?

Music. My Pinterest boards (which I’m borderline obsessed with.) Coffee…or tea. And also: those handful of scenes that I’ve been dying to write. They give me a goal to reach for—something in the WIP to look forward to even when writing becomes like pulling teeth.

10. What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

  2. Take a break. Go for a walk & immerse yourself in nature, bake some cookies, write a blog post. Some space from your WIP will give you clarity, and might be enough to reignite your passion for it.
  3. Don’t freak out if you’re behind with your NaNoWriMo word count. Even if you don’t win, it doesn’t matter. Whether you write 100, 1000, or 10,000 words this month—it’s ALL good progress.

Bring on week two! How are you all faring? Any tips for when writing gets difficult? What’s your favorite thing about your WIP right now?

Currently reading: Nothing right now! Taking a tiny break during NaNoWriMo.

Currently listening to: “…Ready for It?” by Taylor Swift.

NaNoWriMo · WIP · Writing

NaNoWriMo Begins!

National Novel Writing Month has BEGUN! Which means that everyone’s diving head-first into their novels, scrambling to find their NaNo-prep, and banishing their inner editor to get 50,000 words done this month. To recap, I do intend to post weekly with updates, with the exception of this beginning post. I hope everyone had a fabulous Halloween yesterday, too, and although I usually stay up to midnight to write…I didn’t this year. Because apparently I’m an old lady, and I fell asleep.

As a reminder, you can follow me on Twitter (where I hope to do some sprints if people are interested) and the NaNoWriMo website where you can friend me/add me as a writing buddy.

I’m finishing up Day 1 of NaNoWriMo with the daily 1,667 words. Nothing more, nothing less (though I plan on REALLY adding some more numbers to that tomorrow.) Here’s the thing, though: Yesterday morning, after writing over 7k, I finished a redraft of the novel I’ve been working on since (roughly) the beginning of September. Reaching just over 75k, I’m so pleased with the way this draft has turned out. It’s so, so, SO much better than what I drafted late last year. Sort-of inspired by Norse mythology and my adoration for dragons/wyverns, it was INCREDIBLY fun to write, and my inner editor is already ticking away at elements I want to work on for the next round of revisions. I spent the rest of the day doing last minute prepping for NaNoWriMo, but it’s been a slooowww start as my brain is still stuck in the world of my last WIP.

“Creativity takes courage.”
—Henri Matisse

This isn’t my first time doing NaNo and hopefully won’t be the last…but I’m a little nervous. This year, I dedicated a lot of time to working the kinks from my WIPs. This meant heavily revising, tweaking, and sometimes even scrapping entire drafts and starting again, until they fit my vision. First drafts can be super-difficult that way: you KNOW it’s probably going to suck, but you have to keep going anyway. Like they say—you can’t edit a blank page. With the added pressure of the competition-feeling that NaNo brings with it… I’m not altogether surprised that, though the first day is down, I haven’t written as much as I know I can. It was fairly easy for me to finish off those last seven thousand-or-so words for my last WIP, so I can write quickly and smash out great numbers, but I know that this time around, it’s going to take me a little while to get back into that writing groove. Of letting myself suck, knowing I have time to fix it later.

You can fix anything but a blank page.”
—Nora Roberts

My novel this month will be an idea I’ve had since late last year, and I’m SO pleased I’ll be able to finally, finally write it. Loosely based in Celtic myths, it’s a high fantasy about Fae, sisterly-bonds, court politics, lightning, and griffins. (!!!) As usual, I have a growing playlist set up on my iTunes, and here’s the first track on the list, by the always-amazing Audiomachine. (And in case you’re wondering, I probably won’t share any excerpts from this WIP during the month, because it’s 100% going to be terrible. Hah.)

I fell in LOVE with this song the moment the ‘Worlds of Wonder’ album was released. Honestly, it reminds me so much of the book (especially the opening chapters.) I think I could listen to this song over and over again and never get tired of it. There are scenes from this book inspired by songs I’m aching to write, so I’ll share those inspirations as the month goes on, along with the weekly check-ins on how I’ve been doing.

“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.”
—Jack London

Good luck, NaNoWriMo-ers!

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this month, or are you working on something else? Let me know what you’re writing below! And what are your sources of inspiration to get you through the month? Let me know what your NaNoWriMo username is, and I’ll add you as a buddy!

Currently reading: AN INTRODUCTION TO CELTIC MYTHOLOGY by David Bellingham (Research!)

Currently listening to: “Look At What You Made Me Do” by Taylor Swift. (I’m unashamedly in love with this song… so damn catchy!)

NaNoWriMo · Writing

NaNoWriMo Prep

So… It’s that time of the year again! NaNoWriMo (and for people who have no idea what I’m talking about, National Novel Writing Month: aka where writers aim to write a book in a month—you can read more about it here!) is juuuuuussst around the corner. If I’m being honest, I wasn’t sure I’d compete this year. A few posts ago I talked about how I was a bit burnt out from writing and how I fell back in love with writing again & my current MS, and I realized this is the perfect way to continue that. I’ve spent most of…okay, all of…this year editing, revising, and sometimes completely rewriting some manuscripts from scratch. It’s been…interesting.

But I’m so, so excited to dive into this new concept, because it feels like it’s been forever since I’ve had a chance to let myself be bad at writing, since I’ve let myself draft something just for fun instead of revision (although I DO love revision.) I intend on working on my YA high fantasy Fae novel I’ve been dyinnnggg to draft, because yes, I’m totally obsessed with anything and everything that’s elves/Fae related. I have a current working title, which I love, but I won’t share it yet incase it doesn’t stick.

I also plan on blogging weekly with my NaNo adventures, so keep an eye out for that. And add me as a writer buddy on the NaNoWriMo website, because I LOVE meeting new writer friends. 🙂 … And I think we’ll ALL need as much encouragement as possible to get through November in one piece. Join me on Twitter too, where I’m thinking about hosting some writing sprints throughout the month.

nano-2017-participant-badgeAs we’re nearing November, I’ve been thinking a lot about prep…and how I, personally, prep for NaNoWriMo. I’ve always been a bit of a pantser (if you don’t know, pantser = no plotting… Just winging it, basically), because I love to be surprised by the twists and turns in my story as I write it. But sometimes it’s not always the best approach. I know people who meticulously outline every detail of their novel, and others like me who finds that outlining rigidly kills the creative process. The more I write, the more I get to know how my writing process works, and how it changes with each novel I write, and how each novel is a different journey.

In saying that, I’ve realized I’m this strange amalgamation of a pantser and a plotter. Generally, before I write the novel, I’ve had the plot/concept/characters in my mind for some time. Before I write it, I have to be excited and passionate about the novel…or it’s just not going to work.

Prep-wise, here’s what I like to know before I start an exploratory draft:

  • The beginning (this is super important for me—if I’m stuck at the beginning then I’m just going to get frustrated, and want to quit.)
  • The middle and/or the major turning point in the story (for me, it doesn’t have to be a massive plot point—it might just be a shift in my protagonist’s attitude, a reveal of some sort, or something that pushes my characters toward their goals.)
  • The end (this is an obvious one, but I find it difficult to start a novel if I don’t know how it’s going to end, so knowing how the novel ties up helps me come up with key points along the way.)
  • A few key scenes I’m DYING to write (these are the scenes that are aching to spill out of me, the ones that, even when writing is tough, keep me going, because they just need to be written.)

I’ll also have a playlist ready to listen on a loop as I write, and I’ll share some of the songs with you guys during November. If you’re a visual plotter, then Pinterest is also an AWESOME way to prep…and totally counts as research. I’ve been plotting by hand, too, which I absolutely love, and do before every draft/set of revisions, because it makes the novel feel like, well, a real novel, and my perspective on the book changes.

And my final piece of advice

Write the novel that’s aching to be told. Write the tale that’s burning to be set free. Write the tale you’re not sure you can, because it seems too large, too scary, too raw. That’s the story you must tell.

Now I’m off to power through the rest of the novel I’m working on, so fingers crossed I’ll have it finished by the end of October.

Writers out there: Are you doing NaNoWriMo next month? How do YOU prep for the event?

P.S: Have you guys seen The Last Jedi trailer yet?!! Literally watched it about five times now, and I’m obsessed. The music, the voice-overs…I get chills every time. Can’t WAIT for this movie, and Rey looks completely badass.

Currently reading: Just finishing up CRIMSON BOUND (which is amazing!) I then intend to devour Beren and Lúthien. ❤

Currently listening to: Melodrama (Album) by Lorde.

Reading · Writing

Current Reads & What I’m Listening To

Hi, everyone! So, it’s October! Which means warmer weather (or, if you’re on the other side of the world, then autumn leaves and frost), candy (!!! I. Love. Halloween.) … and the one-month countdown to NaNoWriMo. I told myself last month I’d participate and I plan on holding myself to that, and if I’m successful, it’ll mean I’ll most likely complete ALL my writing goals for ’17. So: keep an eye out for later this month when I’ll blog about NaNo prep—and how I plan for the event (which might help some of you if you’re competing!)

It’s been a little while since I’ve talked about what I’m reading, and although I’ve been so slow at it lately, here are a few of the books that I’ve read recently & some of the ones sitting on my desk to be read.

fromthebeasttotheblonde2From Beast to the Blonde by Marina Warner. This is a fantastic, fantastic look at women in fairy-tales and folklore, and consequently quite feminist (which I freaking love.) While most of the non-fiction serves a purpose for my writing, I picked this one up on the whim because the title caught my attention, and while not strictly related to my writing, I love crafting female characters who are strong, and vulnerable, and real. So—if you’re a fan of females and their role in fairy-tales and folklore, I highly recommend!

29939048Roar by Cora Carmack. I haven’t read any of Cora Carmack’s contemporary romances, but as she’s been compared with J. Lynn (who is one of my all-time favorite romance authors—I LOVE her Wait For Me series) I intend on doing so soon. First off: this book sounds AMAZING, and everything I like in fantasy…so fingers crossed I’ll love it. Secondly: that cover is so gorgeous, and the cover for the sequel, Rage, is equally as beautiful.

images1Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge. I’ve mentioned this before, but I was a HUGE fan of Rosamund Hodge’s Cruel Beauty. It enchanted me from the beginning and held me captive until the end, and Crimson Bound (so far) is exactly the same. I admit I was surprised at first to see it’s written in third-person-POV (whereas Cruel Beauty used first person), but Rosamund Hodge handles it beautifully. Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to checking out the author’s other series, Bright Smoke, Cold Fire. Also: All of Rosamund Hodge’s titles are so beautiful.

BerenLuthienBeren and Lúthien by J. R.R. Tolkien. If you even remotely know me…then you’ll know I’m a massive Tolkien fan, and The Silmarillion is hands-down my favorite Tolkien book ever written. (I would pay good money to see this one adapted to screen, because oh my GOD, I think it has the potential to be breathtakingly amazing.) A tale similar to Arwen and Aragorn, Beren and Lúthien’s story was my favorite from The Silmarillion, so naturally, when I discovered Christopher Tolkien was releasing this? I was thrilled. (That—and there are totally gorgeous illustrations by Alan Lee, whose previous work with Tolkien’s books capture everything so perfectly.)

Music-wise, I’ve added a whole bunch of new songs to my writing playlists thanks to Two Steps from Hell and Audiomachine releasing new albums on the same day. It was like Christmas, and WOW. Both albums blew me away. They’re vastly different—whereas Unleashed (Two Steps from Hell) is badass and adventurous, Life (Audiomachine) is gloriously uplifting and beautiful. ❤ Music has always been an essential part of my plotting and writing process…and both these albums are just both so incredibly inspiring. I’ve talked a bit about how influential music is to me as a writer—and honestly just a person in general—and both these new albums were MORE than I could have hoped for. ❤

So if you guys love score/soundtrack music, then go check them out!

Additionally, I’ve been binge-listening to Lorde’s new album, which is FANTASTIC, and while I don’t usually listen to pop, or at the very least I’m super-selective about it, I love Melodrama and the new angle she’s taken on her music. And ‘Green Lights’ is such an uplifting, hopeful, new-beginnings sort of song… I just love it.

That’s it for this post, but later on this month I’ll have a new post on NaNoWriMo prep, and I’m even considering blogging weekly about my NaNo adventures…but we’ll see.

Readers and writers: Do you plan on doing NaNoWriMo ’17? What are you all currently reading? Any music you’re obsessed with right now?

Currently reading: CRIMSON BOUND by Rosamund Hodge.

Currently listening to: Basically just alternating between ‘Unleashed’ and ‘Life’ right now.

WIP · Writing

It’s Spring! + Writing Burn-Out

Hey, everyone! As much as I adore the cold weather, I’m super-glad it’s spring…because spring means so many glorious photography opportunities (and reading out in the sun and not getting icy-cold.) The flowers are in bloom, the skies are blue, and in Greek mythology, Persephone has returned from the Underworld and is raising the flowers from the winter-soaked soil with Demeter.

Here are a handful of my favorite shots from the past few weeks!

Apart from photographing flowers… I’m a HUGE astronomy nerd. This was taken from my backyard!




So, at the beginning of the year, I wrote an outline of what I wanted to complete by the end of the year writing-wise. I totally admit: it was VERY adventurous. But…I wanted to push myself. I wanted to see how much I could accomplish. I wanted to stretch those writing muscles to the very limit. It was a personal test of mine—to see if I could do everything on my adventurous writing list. It took me six months to write MIDNIGHT QUEEN, so by the time I’d redrafted that, I sort of figured: hey, I might not finish everything on my list, but I gave it a go, I tried, I did as best as I could, and I pushed myself. Once I let go of the pressure, I heavily revised (as in rewrote, like, 99% of it) TEOS in just under two months.

I now have only two things left of my list for the year. It’s September, and it’s completely doable. I’m a quick writer, too (not as quick as some writers out there, but I can still get a lot of words down in a day) so theoretically, it should be easy to tick off all my writing goals for ’17.

It’s also impossible for me to not have a working WIP. I love to have something to brainstorm about. Something to write, or fix, or plot…to daydream about.

But, like most writers, my creativity cycle ebbs and flows.

Sometimes inspiration crashes into me, and I can’t get the words down quick enough. Other times it feels like the world has sucked all the words from me, and this is one of those times. I think every writer goes through cycles of creativity, and sometimes it’s SO HARD to get out when you’re in a rut, like I am now.

Writing right now is…hard, like pulling teeth, but it’s getting better slowly. I think it’s been a culmination of things: Drafting and revising so much already this year, I feel sort of burnt-out. I not only needed to recharge, but find the love again in writing and my current project. I’m currently working on THE FLAMES ARE LEGION (a brief rundown of the plot: a wyvern-tamer is forced into taming/training the rising dragons for the tyrannical witch-queen of the Empire and her army) after not touching it for over six months, and it’s a strange, but exciting experience, to fall back into my volcano-ridden, ash-covered, blood-filled world.

I realized something last night: I needed to figure this WIP—and myself—out before I could push on with this draft. So this morning I woke up. Made myself a cup of coffee (or two…) and got to work. I spent most of the morning on this WIP, and I think I’m finally, finally, finally working my way out of the rut I’ve been in for weeks, and it’s slowly feeling like a weight’s been lifted from my shoulders. To reignite that writing spark, I did the following things:

1. I wrote a pitch/query, as well as a synopsis. I’m not a huge outliner; I prefer to be surprised by my stories and where they take me…but sometimes this leads to very muddled, very confused drafts (and I think in turn why I’m in such a rut.) This helped A LOT. I now have a clearer direction of where I want the story to go. I know my characters better, and how their emotional development affects the plot around them. I have an ending, too, as well as a way to set up into the next book in the series and the events to follow. I also focused on ramping up the tension between the characters, and how to twine some of my most beloved characters more closely into the plot.

2. I reread what I’ve already written—and decided that it wasn’t as crappy as I thought it once was. (Or at least I know there are ways to fix it in later drafts.)

3. I found a way to fall in love with my MS again. Writers can be so focused on trying to write the perfect story we forget to take a step back, forget about its flaws for a moment, and let ourselves fall back in love with it. For me it’s been finding the root of the story and the initial inspiration which has helped. My protagonist is a wyvern-tamer, and because I was so focused on what was wrong with the story, what needed to be done, just how much further I have to go on it… I kind of forgot how badass she is, and how much fun she is to write. Writing a synopsis and query has helped me realize that, okay, so while I might still have a long way to go until this novel is done-done, I love what I currently have of it, and I’m looking forward to seeing what unknown twists will surprise me along the way.

To all the writers out there: How do YOU deal with a writing burn-out?

Currently reading: THE SONG RISING by Samantha Shannon

Currently listening to: Game of Thrones S7 score by Ramin Djawadi (!!!!)

P.S. guys: HOW GOOD WAS SEASON 7 OF GAME OF THRONES!? I was literally spellbound the entire time. From the music to the acting to the special effects… simply AMAZING. (And—well, dragons!) I need the next season NOW.

Reading · Writing

Fairy-Tales: Writing them, Reading them, & Why I Love Them

It’s been a little while since I’ve blogged… so, an update: Last blog post I shared a teaser from TEOS which I’ve then since finished (!!!). This draft finished up at 80k, and I plan to give myself a couple of months’ distance before looking at it again & editing. That way I can look at it with a clear mind, fresh eyes. Since finishing TEOS, I’ve been polishing THIS STORM RISING (which I’ve now done) and I know I’ve said it before—but I love this novel. I mean, I love all my novels, so it’s totally redundant saying that. I like to think of it as Star Wars meets White Collar, and although I don’t know if it’ll go anywhere (fingers crosssedddd) I seriously had a blast writing/editing it! (Even though my last round of edits was…painful. But going back to the characters and the world was seriously a joy.)

But today… fairy-tales. If you slap ‘retelling’ or ‘fairy-tale inspired’ on the back of a book, there’s a 100% chance I’ll read it. Hands down, retellings of myths and fairy-tales, are my favorite. No two stories are the same—ever. Every person is unique…and so are their stories. This rings true with fairy-tales and retellings, too, because while we all might read the same story, we all take away different things from it. Maybe you see Cinderella as weak—unable to stand up for herself. Or maybe you see her a kind, beautiful soul, even when she was treated like…cinders. Maybe you see Belle as foolhardy for loving the Beast…or maybe you see her as being brave for daring to love someone so seemingly monstrous.

(Also, as I’m writing this, I’m watching a livestream of the US total solar eclipse… and WOW. Total fairy-tale, mythic vibes.)

I confess: most of my books are inspired by fairy-tales. MIDNIGHT QUEEN, my YA fantasy, is a mash-up of “Beauty and the Beast”, “The Firebird”, and “Hades and Persephone” (as well as some Celtic and Norse myths.) THE EMPIRE OF STARS was inspired by “The Maiden with the Rose on her Forehead” (although since then has become more original than a retelling) with a few nods to “Cinderella” along the way. Even THIS STORM RISING, my epic sci-fi, has nods to myths and fairy-tales here and there.

I can’t pinpoint what it is I love so much about fairy-tales. I grew up on them. I sought them out in every book and movie I could. They’re are an endless, glorious source of inspiration for writers, and I love them for so many reasons. And they’re challenging to write, too: you might have an original source of inspiration…but it’s also your duty to find a way to make it unique. Write the same tale as the original, and people are going to notice (and complain.) Make it too different and it might not even be considered a retelling anymore. So it’s a fine line between creating something original and exciting—and telling the same tale again.

Research is crucial when writing retellings. Think of the unanswered questions, the What Ifs of the story, the fairy-tale’s origins. Blend it with other tales, fragments of mythology. Put it in a futuristic setting—a la Cinder by Marissa Meyer—make it different. Make the reader question what they thought of the tale, turn a beautiful world into a terrifying one, a terrifying one into a beautiful one.

DSC_0007One of my favorite retellings must be Splintered by A.G. Howard: it turned what I thought of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland on its head. It was no longer the carefree, pretty world Carroll made it out to be but a dark and terrifyingly seductive world that I LOVED and never wanted to leave. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi takes “Hades and Persephone” and blends it with Indian mythology into a sumptuous, beautiful romance. Cruel Beauty uses “Beauty and the Beast” and twists it into a Greek-styled world with a curse. Even Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass began as a re-imagined Cinderella that turned into an epic fantasy.

There’s an infinite amount of possibilities out there—so many ways to tell the one tale. Make the villain the hero. Make the hero the villain. Fairy-tales represent humanity in the most beautiful and terrible and raw ways; they give us hope and show us the way authors see the world around them through fantastical, richly-imagined tales. So now I’m off to look through my MSS to decide which project I’ll work on next (…And yes, I can guarantee it WILL be fairy-tale/mythology inspired in some way.)

So how about YOU? Do you enjoy fairy-tale retellings?

Currently reading: FEVERSONG by Karen Marie Moning

Currently listening to: Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov