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WIPs and Life Updates

Today’s writing-in-progress post is more of a status and personal update, guys, rather than an announcement of anything new… I know I know… It’s a bit unfortunate, but I don’t have many new things going on despite (likely because of, actually) the fact that I feel like my entire life has gone through the washing machine. I feel like Emperor Kuzko in The Emperor’s New Groove.

emperor kuzco crying in the rain- ME

I have to admit that I haven’t gotten much farther in my writing since the last update, besides the fact that I’m steadily continuing with my second draft rewrites, and I’m planning (or attempting to plan!) a few more series in the fantasy genre.

On the Brightside, these rewrites are much less… painful… than I thought they would be. I had a very clear idea of what kind of story I needed to write when I started out, so I’m pretty happy with how the first draft looks. But a lot of scenes need to be redone and whole character arcs need to be fleshed out (those pesky characters and their real-ness). I started outlining the second novel (it’ll be a duology!), which made me realize that some foreshadowing/arcs need to be completed before I can get started writing the next story.

I BARELY started a new story, a bit of a fairy tale retelling, and it’s SO MUCH different than my other stories. It’s super stylistic and, honestly, I love how it’s started. It transports you into the story and is kind of eerie. Otherworldly. Fey-touched. I just have to outline it lol I know where it’s going, but I want to make it more substantial and throw a few twists in there that would make the story my own.

Also, what do you guys think about a serial fantasy retelling on the blog? Like, monthly new stories that pull from nursery rhymes and the like? It could be fun, I think 🙂 it’s just an idea I was tossing around in my head. Just another thing I’d like to do and share with you all lol

The reason why my writing progress has been so slow is because I think I’ve just gone through a quarter life crisis of sorts. My job, my future, my life in general… all of it felt as if I was missing something crucial. I felt as if I was suspended over my body and looking down for a sign of a path, but it had disappeared beneath my feet.

alice in wonderland no path no way no man

Not only did I feel as if I wasn’t grounded, but I also felt lost. I felt disconnected from everything- from my writing, the people I love, my future- it was quite taxing to experience on my own. I feel better now- it took time and reaching out to friends and family- but I came out of it knowing, more than ever, that I’m on the right path and I’m supposed to be a writer. That is my goal, it is what I am. So the crisis just kind of solidified my intentions and made me even more determined than ever. You should see my list of to-be-written-stories lol I’ve been reading a lot lately which helped me get through it and also discover more types of stories I want to write. I finally found some characters I identify with, and I realized it took me 29 years to find characters I can relate to.

I want to make sure that doesn’t happen to other readers. A lot of these “snack books” out there have the same typical, sassy main character that honestly isn’t relatable (it’s desirable, but that’s totally different). It’s my goal to write characters that misfits and outsiders can see themselves in, regardless of their gender, skin color, or age. It’s a feeling I want to convey and a connection I want to build with others. We are not alone, and my little quarter-life crisis re-instilled that fact in me. It solidified that that is the intention I want in my writing.

tina fey high five yo

I hope this finds you well, readers. And just know that if you go through anything similarly, please reach out. Sometimes having a sounding board or a different person’s opinion can open your eyes to something that wasn’t there before or something you lost sight of. Like a light. Or a path.

Just a little poll to get to know you guys better <3

How to Write a Well-Developed Character

Hey guys!

I’ve seen a lot of people online with trouble making well-rounded, believable, flawed characters that add to a story. There are “character creation sheets” that allow you to answer every question in a characters life, but honestly, though they’re fun and interesting, they don’t help flesh out a story as well as you’d want. I saw this post a while ago on Reddit, actually, and one of the responses REALLY helped me make my main characters interesting, compelling, and active. You don’t want the character to drive the story completely, it’s good to have conflict and adversity, but you want them to be able to make decisions, and I think that there are a few questions/traits that you need to determine how to answer when it comes to your character.

By using these guidelines, you’ll have a much more active and defined character that actually influences the story. It’s thanks to the Redditor in this post, accomplished author Sarah Ahiers (sarah_ahiers), that I was able to expand on these questions and really use them to create a good character.

First, you do have to start off with the shell of your character. Looks, personality, history, family, friends, etc. Then, move on to answer the following questions to know more about them and how they relate to your story. These are the defining, controlling traits that dictate your characters actions and beliefs.

 

How to create a compelling, active character:

 

Childhood Hurt:

What happened to your character when she was a child that changed her? What event, what happened to her that has stuck with her and subtly influences her personality? This could be a divorce, getting hurt, a childhood friends rejecting her, anything!

 

Foundational Belief:

What is it that your character believes more than anything? It could be big, it could be small, either way, it informs them on how they will react in certain situations. Do they believe that anyone who wears high heels are intimidating? Or maybe they believe that no one knows better than they do? Or maybe they believe God can shapeshift and has a particular affinity towards take the form of your local baker. Whatever it is, it affects their outlook on life and how they behave around other people.

 

Default Emotion:

What does your character do when they are rejected? Proved their wrong? Proved their right? It doesn’t have to be a bad default emotion, but you need to know how they’re going to typically react. What I like to do, is use this against the main character as a part of their character growth. Can they ever change this default behavior? It’s really up to them and the situations you put them in, but this way you’ll know how far you have to push them to really get them to change.

 

Deepest Desire:

Easy- what does your character want most? What compels them through your book? It could be as simple as being left alone, but their actions have to show that.

 

Achieving Action:

How will your character reach his or her desire? What actions will she take to get what she wants? Usually, this spills into your plot a lot, but it helps you see what your character has control over. Remember, you don’t want your character to be too passive. ALWAYS allow her to react and always be honest about how she’d react/act.

Bucket List!

I was listening to a podcast when I first came across the poem The Buried Life… it describes a feeling that I’ve been struggling with for years and was never fully able to articulate. I didn’t think this was something that other people felt, and I truly think that since I’ve been more open to connecting with others recently, I was able to find this conversation that resonated so strongly with me.

This poem inspired not only me, but it also inspired a whole movement and organization called The Buried Life. It’s led by a young guy named Ben Nemtin who, after struggling with depression, surrounded himself with people that inspire him. He soon realized that he and his friends were all feeling this same disconnect that he felt from their true selves, and they equally felt disconnected from their true heart and soul’s desires. With The Buried Life poem articulating this feeling to them, they decided to do something about it and created a Bucket List that allowed them to connect to each other and to their hopes and dreams. Together, they set out to fulfill the Bucket List, no matter how crazy or grand the ideas listed on it. For every item they could check off their list, they’d help someone else fulfill something on their own, and thus The Buried Life organization was born.

The name of the organization comes from the poem The Buried Life by Matthew Arnold, born 1822 and died 1888. His poem is quite long, but it essentially speaks about a man who can’t seem to connect with anyone… he feels like he can’t share his true self with the world and it’s eating him up inside. He feels as if his desires are buried under the tasks and responsibilities of everyday life. And no matter how much he wants to connect with someone, he doesn’t know if life will allow that of him. I think it’s a beautiful poem and it really speaks to me right now, because I’ve realized (through lots of self-introspection and meditation) that I have trouble connecting with people on a deeper level. A lot of what we endure on a daily basis is very “face value,” and I feel this strange disconnect from most people I come into contact with.

To try to work on this, and to follow in Ben’s footsteps, I decided to put together a Bucket List that would help me achieve my daily and lifelong dreams. Just writing it down is the first step towards realizing and succeeding in your dreams, because you never know who out there might be able to help you achieve them.

I decided to make two Bucket Lists: one is a dream big, pretend you can do ANYTHING, kind of bucket list. One where I didn’t hold back in the slightest and poured all my hopes onto paper.

My second is more of a lifestyle-change Bucket List. It’s what I can focus on daily to live the life that I desire and to fulfill my soul’s purpose.

But, I will keep these both close so I make sure never to lose sight of my heart and souls desires.

I’ll list them here, but what I’d truly love is for you to share with me some of your Bucket List items. For every big-dreamer item I can cross off my list, I want to help others succeed in one of theirs, as well.

I think these Bucket Lists will help me get closer to the true self that is inside of me and that wants to be expressed. Becoming more aware of our purpose and our soul’s desires will set us free, just as Arnold says in these five lines:

The eye sinks inward, and the heart lies plain, 

And what we mean, we say, and what we would, we know, 

A man becomes aware of his life’s flow, 

And hears its winding murmur, and he sees 

The meadows where it glides, the sun, the breeze.

So let’s get to some self-introspection 🙂 Because it is this way that we can connect and help each other live the life we were born to live.

 

Bucket List

  1. Take a full backpacking/train tour of Scandinavia and see where my ancestors lived.
  2. See the pyramids and the sphinx in Egypt.
  3. Win a Michael L. Printz Award.
  4. Fly in a fighter jet. 
  5. Write a book that gets turned into a movie. 
  6. Write a book that gets turned into a video game. 
  7. Become a certified yoga instructor
  8. Go to France and follow the path my grandfather’s unit took in WWII.
  9. Brew/mix my own bottle of wine.
  10. Learn to surf.
  11. Volunteer to save animals.
  12. Win a Pulitzer Prize. 
  13. Meet people and surround myself with people that inspire.
  14. Go to a bat cave.
  15. Co-write a book.
  16. Go into a deep-sea diving bell under water.
  17. Live on a boat.
  18. Mentor a writer who becomes a New York Times Bestseller.
  19. Live in the jungle to connect with and deepen my spirituality.
  20. Hike to a mountaintop and watch the sun rise.

 

Lifestyle Bucket List

  1. Meditate daily.
  2. Do yoga daily.
  3. Eat whole, real foods grown either locally or by me!
  4. Recycle more than I throw away.
  5. Surround myself with people that inspire, love, and support me.
  6. Make time for the people I love.
  7. Give as much as I take, and do it from a place of love, not obligation.
  8. Always write.
  9. Give back to and take care of animals to the best of my ability.
  10. Put self-care and personal goals first- I am my biggest cheerleader and I will be the one to support my goals more than anyone else

So these are really really big dreams, and it helps having them to look at so I can remain inspired. They’re just something to work towards, and the first step is putting it out there. Who knows what we can achieve! Please share your own big bucket list dreams below!!!

Current Reads | February 2018

Hi guys 🙂

It’s February and I managed to finish all my January books in January (shush- I know I only had two in my January reads…). But, I finished them! And I actually finished all my December books, too. I didn’t realize The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman was going to take so long… I think I may do a Book Chat video on that. What do you think? A Book Chat video would probably be most fun because I’m dying to know what you guys thought about the book… lol I need to get some discussion going here.

 

Anywhoooo I got a little more courageous and picked more than two books to finish this month 🙂 First off, I went to the library and picked up Grace of Kings by Ken Liu and Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor. I’ve started both and they’re very good, and they couldn’t be more different from eachother. Grace of Kings reminds me of Tales of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin for whatever reason. Maybe because it starts off describing the childhood of one of the main characters? You know, come to think of it, the book Deerskin was like that, too, and so was Taylor’s book Strange the Dreamer. It seems to be a very “classic literature” way of opening a story. Honestly, I like it!

Starlight is the second in Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series and I’m eating it up. It’s getting super dark and sad and just so angsty, I love it. Taylor’s writing is out of this world, guys. You gotta tell me if you’ve read any of her other books because I need someone that understands my adoration of her writing. It’s unreal.

 

I also went to the library and got City of Brass by SA Chakraborty and Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier. I was trying to find Wildwood Dancing by Marillier, because apparently it’s similar in style to Uprooted by Naomi Novik (I’ve been dying for a similar kind of read recently). Forest isn’t exactly like that yet, but it’s really good- it reminds me of growing up with my group of guy friends who pretty much were my brothers. And the girl in this book has six brothers… it’s just really refreshing and seems to be a take on the whole “seven sons” story. It’s also really classically written like Grace of Kings.

 

City of Brass is definitely more modern and I picked it up because DAMN THAT COVER. It’s sooo thrilling because the story is actually good, too. I’m a sucker for djinn/Egyptian mythology… which explains why I’m spending so much time playing Assassin’s Creed: Origins, too.

Speaking of video games… help me. I’m sucked into the PS4 and it’s killing my productivity. Monster Hunter World? Assassin’s Creed? Stardew Valley? Why do I choose all the games that literally take over your life?

Halp.

Lol no, I like to think of playing video games as inspiration. That’s what I tell myself at least!

Keep your eyes out for a new Youtube video this Monday on an actual book review. I’m still deciding which one because I have so many I want to recommend to you guys! If you have any requests, please let me know in the comments!