Hello friends! As your local representative of the future (thanks to timezones) it is very, very close to the end of November, and with it, ...

Hello friends! As your local representative of the future (thanks to timezones) it is very, very close to the end of November, and with it, the end of NaNoWriMo. There are always vast mixed feelings about this time, often intermingled with whether or not a writer 'won' NaNo. If you're feeling discouraged about your wordcount or the progress you made this month, then I'd like to share something with you:

Dear Writer,
You are not your wordcount.
You are new lines of ink stroking across fresh parchment.
You are the dreams that lie between the wake and the fall.
You are whorls of soul and spirit and deepening heart.
To strip you down into the cramped lines of numbers,
Would be to ignore the person behind your wondrous words.

Just as a moment does not forge a whole hour,
A single month and its rise or fall does not define you.
Your words may be an extension of the creativity
That burns inside, but they are far from being you
You are courageous, brave, and streaked with the
Wildness of a writer who truly dares.

Having written one word or one hundred thousand,
Changes not a piece of your heart.
So write on, dear writer, knowing that you are,
And always have been, far more than your numbers.

A fellow writer

How has your month been? How did NaNoWriMo go for you? Do you fall into the trap of measuring your worth in your wordcount? (I do!)
Have a wonderful day! <3

If you'd asked me a month ago whether I could write while listening to music, I would have given you a resounding 'no' and said ...

If you'd asked me a month ago whether I could write while listening to music, I would have given you a resounding 'no' and said I needed complete silence. Recently, however, I've discovered I actually can write while listening to music, provided it's instrumental! So over NaNoWriMo I dipped my toe into cinematic soundtracks, whether from movies, TV shows, or games, and discovered some incredible music.

If you're on the hunt for some new music to listen to while writing, I hope you find new favourites in the list below!

1) Prince of Egypt

This movie has one of the best movie soundtracks ever, in my opinion. Every note is raw with emotion, whether it be sadness, joy, desperation or peace. There are a number of songs with words, but also quite a few scores without! My favourites include 'The Burning Bush', 'Chariot Race' and 'Goodbye Brother'. I nearly cry every time I hear the last one!

2) The Crown

In addition to a gripping plotline that portrays recent history through an immersive and humanised perspective, both seasons of The Crown include majestic and tense scores. Hans Zimmer works his magic in the theme, and the rest are just as powerful, my favourites including 'Headlines', 'Your Majesty' and 'Duck Shoot.'

3) Red Sparrow

I've never watched the movie but wow, is the soundtrack steeped in danger and drama. There's a Russian classic influence infused with modern beats that makes a unique listening experience, and with scores on the longer side and so many variations, it's an easy soundtrack to put on repeat and be constantly surprised. The best of the scores include 'Overture' and 'Didn't I Do Well?'

4) Tangled

Easily my favourite Disney movie, with songs that will make you laugh and smile. Besides its well-known musical numbers though, it also boasts an impressive number of instrumental scores! There's an upbeat, adventurous feel to most that's perfect for chase and dance scenes alike. My favourites have to be 'Flynn Wanted' and 'Kingdom Dance'.

5) Gloria Regali

Tommee Proffitt has an incredible assortment of cinematic songs, both lyrical and instrumental, and the man is a genius when it comes to this album collaboration with Fleurie. The landscape of a dangerous, dark and haunting fantasy world comes through each song. While most have words, those without are just as beautiful, such as 'Demolition' and 'Premonition'.

Can you listen to music when you write? What are your favourite soundtracks to listen to? (I'm sure there are so many incredible ones out there!) Do you enjoy any of the ones I've listed?
Have a wonderful day! <3

It's the middle of November, which means we're now officially halfway through NaNoWriMo! I'm feeling surprinsingly positive abou...

It's the middle of November, which means we're now officially halfway through NaNoWriMo! I'm feeling surprinsingly positive about where my WIP is going, so I'm super excited to share with you all today where The Masks We Ink has taken me. To do that, I'm joining the second part of Christine Smith's Know the Novel link-up. If you'd like an introduction to my story, check out the first part here!

Now, to the questions!

1. How’s the writing going overall?

Surprisingly well! As of writing this, I've written 44K for NaNo and am 77K into the story! That means I'm at the home stretch for NaNo and approaching the climax soon!

2. What’s been the most fun aspect about writing this novel so far?

I truly love spy stories, and so this WIP has been fulfilling my deep need to write about an intelligent, ruthless yet also vulnerable spy. Livana is incredibly complex, sometimes frustrating yet always so very human. While on one hand she loves her job and takes pride in the way she's protecting her country, as she goes through the story she begins to feel the weight of all her lies, deceptions, and false relationships. She's been fun to write because of how complex she is!

3. What do you think of your characters at this point? Who’s your favorite to write about?

I've already talked about Livana, so I'll give Nex, my other POV, a shout-out! He's the illegitimate child of the empire's general and a close friend of the crown prince, but he's trying to find his place in the world apart from his relationships. While he makes some bad decisions (read: a lot), he truly has a good heart, and always a well-timed joke on display. Arsin is also a gem! She's a sweetheart and believes berry tea can fix every situation.

4. Has your novel surprised you in any way?

They always do! TMWI especially did so around the midpoint, as I thought the magic system wouldn't come into play, but it certainly did. I always enjoy when my stories take unexpected twists though, so it was more an excited kind of surprise than a frustrating one!

5. Have you come across any problem areas?

My climax is a bit of a blurry haze at the moment, which worries me. At this point in my stories I usually have a clearer idea of the event that the climax centers around, so hopefully I can pull together the threads of different plot lines coherently enough soon.

6. What’s been your biggest victory with writing this novel at this point?

That I've been able to keep to only two POVs! In the past I've had the tendency to gather extra ones as I go along, so it's amazing that I've stuck with my original number.

7. If you were transported into your novel and became any one of the characters, which one do you think you’d be? Would you take any different actions than they have?

Well, most of them are wanted dead by someone, so this poses a tricky question. Perhaps I would be Rheya, Nex's half-sister. She's quite the fierce fighter and is a rising soldier, so I would love to learn how to fight and feel what it's like to be involved in a battle. As for the second part of the question, I can't answer that without giving out spoilers!

8. Give us the first sentence or paragraph then 2 (or 3!) more favorite snippets!

Here's the first sentence: 

As the messenger tore over the frozen road, Artress Livana Glacia wiped her poisoning spoon clean.

And now for two snippets!

Winter made observation near impossible. Despite being moonsheight, clouds heavy with the coming snow drew darkness in folds over Tabula’s Garden. Only thin cracks, like frozen trails of lightning, snuck through. The snow on the ground reflected mere flecks, and cast shadows on others. With the freeze setting in, Livana’s fingers and toes threatened to become icicles if she stayed still, but stay still she must.

For the shadow was arriving.

* * *

Hood casting his face in shadow, bladed gloves on his fingers, Nex waited in a shroud of incense. While the incense sticks his mother had given him for his Assembly day had been a potent herbal mix, the three burning on the table before him let off wisps of smoke and charred bones. Their haze blurred the curtained bed to the left, the gauzy fabric hung from the ceiling, the door now being creaked open.
Nex laced his fingers, full purse a lead ball on his belt.
“Good eve.” His contact from the Second Rising slipped into the chair opposite his. “Don’t you look menacing tonight?"
It was the same joke, everytime. But Nex couldn’t afford to let his hood drop, even wearing a plain wood mask he’d bought in the marketplace. Being his father’s son would win him no mercy if his involvement was betrayed.
“You look grand yourself.” His voice was lower than usual, a rasp they both knew was put on.
“It’s the bruises, isn’t it? Flatterer.” With a laugh, she slid the black-steel mask onto the table. This was how the Second Rising could hide for so long; masks on their faces, gloves to cover the ink on their skin. But despite Nex’s insistence on covering up, she always let him see her face: not a pretty one, more often bruised and cut with lips blue from cold.
She leaned forward with a sharp smile. “What do you have for me tonight, Scarbinder?”

9. Share an interesting tidbit about the writing process so far!

I thought the entire WIP would take place in Luasti and Whitebreath Palace, but my characters have started travelling to another location (without my permission)! 

10. Take us on a tour of what a normal writing day for this novel looks like. Tell all!

Since I'm on uni holidays at the moment, I usually have mornings to myself. So after an hour of walking or gardening, I'll turn on my writing music (recently it's been the Prince of Egypt instrumental soundtrack) and set the timer for two hours. Then I write as much as I can in that time frame! So far I'm averaging around 2700 words per two hours. No wonder my fingers ache!

How is NaNo going for you, if you're participating? Has your story held any surprises? Even if you're not doing NaNo, do you have a snippet to share? I'd love to read them!
Have a wonderful day! <3

The more I read, the more my tastes in books has become fine-tuned. These days I can easily predict which stories will become all-time favou...

The more I read, the more my tastes in books has become fine-tuned. These days I can easily predict which stories will become all-time favourites early on (though some still surprise me!) if they have a certain trope or situation I adore. So I thought it might be fun to chat with you all about them, and to hear what you love in books! We can geek out together over some favourites and chat about all things story.

So what do I gravitate to in books?

1) Excellent Character Dynamics

There is nothing better than a pair or group of characters who complement each other, rile each other up, foil each other, and banter! It makes me feel as though I've joined a pair/group of friends, and all the little interactions build up into teaching me something about each character. Extra bonus points if their conversations are witty or hilarious! Banter makes me go metaphorically weak at the knees.

Books that do this amazingly: 'Spin the Dawn' by Elizabeth Lim, 'Truthwitch' by Susan Dennard, 'The Gilded Wolves' by Roshani Chokshi, 'The Raven Boys' by Maggie Stiefvater 

2) Fascinating World-Building

When I start reading and feel as though I've walked into an entirely different world and way of thinking, and as if I'm steeped in a different galaxy, I cannot help but be swept away. There is something thrilling about exploring a new world and truly escaping this one. When done right, fantastic world-building is etched into the story, and not confusing!

Books that do this amazingly: 'Dance of Thieves' by Mary E. Pearson, 'Caraval' by Stephanie Garber, 'The Fifth Season' by N.K. Jemisin (note that this is adult fantasy and quite a lot of content however)

3) Hate-to-Love Romance

Now I know this isn't for everyone, but I am a sucker for a well-executed hate to love romance. The reason behind this is because I love seeing characters grow and develop, both in themselves, and in their relationships with others. It's special to see how they challenge each other and grow closer because of it. Not to mention the tension and stakes it can lend to a book!

Books that do this amazingly: 'Dance of Thieves' by Mary E. Pearson, 'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen, 'Spin the Dawn' by Elizabeth Lim, 'Letters to the Lost' by Brigid Kemmerer. Cait also has a list of recommendations on her blog if you'd like more

4) Multiple Perspectives

Done right, I'm always thrilled when I discover a book is written in several POVs! Particularly when it means we get to see different sides to the plot, world, and characters. It can add great depth, increase the tension dramatically if the POVs oppose each other, and feature a variety of voices and tone!

Books that do this amazingly'Truthwitch' by Susan Dennard, 'Furyborn' by Claire Legrand, 'King's Folly' by Jill Williamson, 'Letters to the Lost' by Brigid Kemmerer, 'There Will Come a Darkness' by Katy Rose Pool

5) Personal High-Stakes

While I enjoy storylines centered around saving the world, I am first and foremost drawn to high stakes that are inherently personal. If the character's goal is to save the world just for the world, I can feel quite detached. Stakes that matter to the character's inner lives are the best! Whether it's friends, family, a desire to prove themselves, a need to be loved, a need to survive, give me all the characters in impossible circumstances!

Books that do this amazingly: 'The Hunger Games' by Suzanne Collins, 'This Mortal Coil' by Emily Suvada, 'Poison Study' by Maria V. Synder

What do you love in books? What thrills you when reading, what makes you smile or gasp? Do you share anything on my list? What recommendations do you have for me?
Happy reading! <3

Depending on your time zone, when you read this NaNo may have begun, or your clocks may be teetering on the last hours beforehand. Or you co...

Depending on your time zone, when you read this NaNo may have begun, or your clocks may be teetering on the last hours beforehand. Or you could be several days in! Whatever the case, first off I'd like to tell you that YOU CAN DO IT! 50K seems like a steep mountain to climb, but so long as you sit down and write, I'd consider that a success. NaNo is all about being motivated to work on your WIP and join in with the community!

That being said, I can find it easy to get stuck during NaNo. The pressure of a wordcount can blank out my creativity, and coming up with the next scene to write can become a mental burden. Whatever you might believe about writer's block, every writer experiences struggles for inspiration at one point or another. I hope these questions, both craft-focused and fun, might bring the muse back!

1) What's my protagonist's goal? What step can they take next to try and accomplish it? What stands in their way?

2) What is my antagonist up to? What are they planning and what stands in their way? Do they still need resources to achieve their goal, an ally, or simply time? Why? Is there any way they can achieve it more quickly?

3) What is the worst thing that could happen to my protagonist right now? My antagonist? How would that affect their goal, emotions and relationships?

4) Is my protagonist feeling that their goal is unachievable? Who or what could bolster them? How can their motivation be strengthened or renewed?

5) How can the previous scene(s) lead to the next? Is there a clue that can be investigated, an apology that needs to be made, a problem to be solved, something else? What emotions are my characters carrying into the next?

6) What made me fall in love with this story idea? How can I focus more on exploring that idea or recapture that feeling in my next scene?

7) If this was a book I was reading, what would I want to happen next? Would I want an action scene to take my breath away, a kiss, a spat between characters, my protagonist having to make a hard choice, a cute moment? Something else? Can I write that next?

8) Is it time for my protagonist to face more challenges or tension? Who or what might stand in their way or provide it? How could my characters react?

9) If I have an idea of my climax, what are the steps that could lead up to that point? What needs to be achieved before it?

10) What secrets are my characters hiding? How could they be exposed, and what would they do to protect them? What would be their reaction if their secrets were revealed? The reactions of those around them?

11) What songs do I associate with my characters and my story? When I listen to them, what mood or tone do I feel? How can I reflect that in my setting?

12) What is the most dramatic, heart-wrenching event that could occur? What scene can I write that will make me feel?

I hope these questions will help you overcome writer's block, and inspire you throughout NaNo! How is your writing going? Do you often get writer's block during first drafts? How do you conquer it?
Best wishes with your writing! <3

Hi friends! I have officially finished my first year of university (wohoo!): thank you for all your well wishes over my brief hiatus! Now th...

Hi friends! I have officially finished my first year of university (wohoo!): thank you for all your well wishes over my brief hiatus! Now that I'm back, it's straight into NaNoWriMo prep! And Know the Novel is here to save the day. A link-up across three months, Christine Smith designed these November edition questions to help introduce our NaNo novels. So without further ado, I present to you my latest passion project, The Masks We Ink!

1. What first sparked the idea for this novel?

The Masks We Ink (TMWI) is actually a prequel to a prequel! (Or at least, it used to be.) Some of you might remember a story called Splintered Crown I began writing a few years ago. In it, there was a farmer named Thekla, who revealed she was a spy for many years, and for fun I dug deep into her backstory. Eventually I became so enamoured with her story that I knew I had to write it, and she was renamed Livana!

2. Share a blurb!

In the heart of her enemy's court, Livana's mission is simple: infilitrate the crown prince's inner circle and bring down the empire. But when there's sudden silence from her handler, she's left without any way to contact her homeland. Then a message comes in the night: her old spymaster is dead, the new one is her old nemesis, and he's determined to cull any spies disloyal to him. 

Unless Livana can discover the other spy stationed in court and kill them, she'll meet a poisoned blade.

3. Where does the story take place? What are some of your favorite aspects about the setting?

The majority of the story takes place in Luasti, the winter capital of the Vinkantri Empire, and more specifically in Whitebreath Palace! I love the contrast between the frigid landscape and the colour that the Kantri soak the palace in. Here's a quick description of the outside:

The palace spires grew from the frozen ground like stalagmites, white and blue stone ribboning the brutal winter sky. Frost iced its curved awnings and turrets. Red as blood droplets, veith berries shivered off low branches glazed with snow. 

4. Tell us about your protagonist(s).

I can't tell you too much about Livana, mostly because she herself doesn't know! Before going on mission, Irises (the names for Lynnican spies) have any memories related to family or home removed, so they can fully become their aliases. Though she doesn't remember anything of her past, she does remember training to be an Iris. She put her whole soul into training and was especially close to Spymaster Cobra, who was like a father to her.

Before she walks into any situation, she plays out every possibility in her head to map her path to victory no matter what. She's incredibly driven, clever, and has a fondness for blankets and poetry. Her quick mind can make her a formidable foe, but she feels as though she has a hole inside her, and she can't figure out how to fill it.

5. Who (or what) is the antagonist?

Livana's primary antagonist is Parax, the new spymaster. He's determined that the game he's playing with her and the other spy will result in her death, and he drops numerous hints to the other spy about how to find Livana. Only one of them can remain alive and on mission in Vinkantri, and Parax is making sure it's not her.

6. What excites you the most about this novel?

I love spy stories!! And in TMWI Livana is having to outwit and outplay not only her natural enemies (those in the empire) but also those who should be her allies. There's going to be plenty of twists, a good dosing of betrayal, and large swirls of court intrigue. Essentially, this is the kind of book I'm dying to read!

7. Is this going to be a series? standalone? something else?

I was hoping it might be a standalone, but there are so many threads tangling through this book that it's highly likely that I'll need at least a sequel. So it's highly likely it will be a duology!

8. Are you plotting? pantsing? plansting?

In past NaNos, I've focused much more heavily on pantsing, but this year is different! While I don't have an outline, I have several twists planned out in my head and a number of scene sketches. There's a big question mark in the middle, but I really need my beginning fleshed out first to be able to figure out what's happening there!

9. Name a few things that makes this story unique.

Spies trying to discover the other's presence in court, a whole ethnicity of masked people, icy castles strangled by snow and colour, scrolls that reflect their message to a sister scroll continents away, twists I can't reveal!

10. Share a fun “extra” of the story.

I've been sneaky and actually started writing TMWI, since it will be around double 50K, so I'll slide in a quick snippet here!

The paper was silent. Livana turned the thin, ragged strip of yellow parchment over once, twice, but no ink formed on its surface. No symbols except the daily report she’d coded onto it last night appeared.
She sunk onto her desk chair, tingles spreading up her arms. Perhaps Cobra had forgotten to respond, perhaps there was urgent palace business, perhaps the fragment of mirscroll was dead.
Livana lit a candle and held the mirscroll up to its small flame. Still no new ink.
Perhaps Cobra was dead.

Are you doing NaNo? If so, tell me about your project! What inspired it? Are you a plotter, a pantser or something inbetween?
Best wishes with all your writing! <3

Hi everyone! I wanted to drop in to let you all know quickly that I'll be on a short hiatus for the next two weeks. My final weeks of th...

Hi everyone! I wanted to drop in to let you all know quickly that I'll be on a short hiatus for the next two weeks. My final weeks of this semester at university are rolling in, meaning there are plenty of assignments! But as soon as they're done I'll be back and posting again!

In the meantime, write freely, edit fiercely, my friends! <3

NaNoWriMo preparation season is upon us! While I'm still undecided whether or not I'll participate this year, I know many of you are...

NaNoWriMo preparation season is upon us! While I'm still undecided whether or not I'll participate this year, I know many of you are surging forward with plotting and brainstorming your NaNo novels. Whenever I try and plot I can grow stressed with trying to think about the whole story, so I thought I might pull together a number of quick and fun prep activities that take the pressure off!

Some of these focus on plot, some on character, some on worldbuilding, and some are just fun! I hope you find them helpful and enjoyable.

1) When, Must, But

This first one is a nod to the formatting of a basic pitch, and can do wonders for giving your story an overall structure to follow. Fill in your story's details into the template below!

When (event) happens to (character), (character) must (achieve this goal) or (consequence). But then (event or reason goal cannot be achieved easily).

2) Five Senses

Your character is in their favourite place. Write a short descriptive paragraph about it, focusing on the five senses. After you're done, have a look at the worldbuilding that you've assumed; for example, your character might have ran their hands down a smooth wooden counter of the local apothecary, and the rest of the shop is also made of wood. Either (a) wood is a common resource of the country and there are forests nearby or (b) they live near such a country or (c) it's incredibly rare and this is no ordinary apothecary!

Ask yourself questions about every detail you introduced, thinking about its history and past. You can focus on worldbuilding, as above, or ask yourself questions about the people who care and cherish for the objects around.

3) Local History

A local historian from your character's home country/town/city is looking to write a book about the local history. Who do they interview and why? What events would they focus on, and what might they try and gloss over or hide? What artifacts might tell them more?

If you're looking for extra credit, write a chapter or introduction from their book!

4) Everything to Lose

Because writers are cruel creatures, we like to torture our characters as much as possible. Focusing on your main character, make a list of everything they prize, like, and love. Then divide your list into three sections: what would hurt them if they lost it (1) a little (2) a lot or (3) would break them.

Come back to this list when you're writing, and as you move through your story, make your character progressively move through the levels of pain! Who said writing wasn't fun?

5) A Trip to the Food Court

Gather your cast of main characters and take them for a trip to the food court (in your local mall or in their world, either one works). There are an overwhelming number of choices: what does each one of your characters choose? Why? Do they make their choice easily, do they make a spreadsheet to evaluate their options, or are they so overwhelmed they give up and have nothing? Write it out as a quick scene if you like!

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? How do you prepare (or do you)? What other fun prep activities do you use?
Best wishes with your writing! <3

September has existed in this strange paradox between long moments of rest and fast-paced, consuming whirls of responsibility and stress. Mu...

September has existed in this strange paradox between long moments of rest and fast-paced, consuming whirls of responsibility and stress. Much has happened and yet not a lot. If you're confused, then you're not alone! So am I.

It's been a long time (read: months) since I last had an edition of Behind the Pen, so I thought I'd take the opportunity this week to catch up with you all and have a chat about what's been happening in my writing, reading, and everyday life since then!

These last few months I've been grateful for...

- Lots of open doors writing-wise and being able to receive very valuable and encouraging critiques of my work.

- It's finally spring in Australia! So my neighbourhood is filled to bursting with flowers and colour, and my garden is shaking itself back to life.

- Wonderful friends at university.

- Chocolate... because chocolate is always amazing!

- My family and the support and understanding they give in regards to my writing.

Recent Reads:

"There Will Come a Darkness" by Katy Rose Pool --- a multi-POV YA fantasy about a world where the six prophets who guided humanity disappeared over a hundred years ago, but they've left one final prophecy about a coming prophet who could save, or destroy, them all. I read this one super quickly because I was enjoying it so much! Apart from a few content issues, I love books that make me gasp at plot twists and have my heart pounding, which is exactly what this one did!

"100 Days of Sunlight" by Abbie Emmons --- an emotional contemporary that explores how we view others, ourselves, and disability. While there were a few aspects of how the theme was handled I didn't necessarily agree with, I loved Weston as a character and it was a cute, fast, and feelsy read.

"A Darker Shade of Magic" by V.E. Schwab --- an adult fantasy where there are four Londons with various amounts of magic woven into their worlds. The main character can travel between them, and might be the only person able to stop dark magic from spreading into all four. I'm still on the fence about this one! I'd heard a lot of great things so was looking forward to it, but while the worlds were intriguing and immersive, the characters lacked depth for me personally, especially the villains.

Current and Upcoming Reads:

"City of Brass" by S.A. Chakraborty --- another adult fantasy! This one is set in 18th century Cairo, where our main character Nahri is an outcast with mysterious healing abilities. When she accidentally calls a djinn, she puts herself in the path of ancient and revenge-hungry beings, and has to go on the run with him. The world is very lush in this one! There's also some excellent worldbuilding in terms of history, and I'm excited to keep reading.

"Frankly in Love" by David Yoon --- to balance out all the heavy fantasy I've been reading lately, I thought I'd have a go at reading this contemporary! It has the fake dating trope which I love and sounds like a lot of fun!

I had a look back at my last writing update (in May) and no surprises here, I'm still working on the same two WIPs! Now though, rather than being on the first draft of Call of the Vanished, I'm completely overhauling it in my second draft. This is a part of my writing process I'm learning to really enjoy; the freedom to change as much as I want, cutting and adding and rewriting deeply. The largest change I've made so far is going from three POVs to only one! It's been a learning experience, as I usually write in several, but lots of fun.

A piece of exciting news is that I'm almost ready to query Blood Like Gold! (It used to be called Golden Revenge, as a heads-up.) I'm moving into the final round of polishing the manuscript, otherwise known as being crippled by doubt and stress, and narrowing down my list of agents to query. It feels as though it's time to let the story make its own way into the world, so if you could keep this process in your prayers, I would really appreciate it!

I won't give too many this month, but here's a quick one from the second draft of Call of the Vanished! Here are the two first lines, subject to change, of course:

The gun burned cold on the back of Lonnie’s neck. “Step away from the van.”

I'm about a month away from finishing my second semester of university, meaning I'm almost a third of the way through my degree! It's very strange to think of it like that. It's even stranger to think I graduated and was at formal a year ago. Where does time go?

As I'm studying Creative Writing as one of my majors, it's been especially interesting to work on the assignments they give us. I admit I was nervous knowing this whole semester would be on creative nonfiction, but I've been pleasantly surprised! The depth of research needed aside, it's really pushed me as a writer to write stories without making up anything. It certainly hones your observation skills!

Tell me about what you're reading and writing at the moment! And how's life in general? Are you feeling drowned by work or breezing through? What milestones are you approaching with your writing?
Have a wonderful day! <3

One of my favourite parts of being a writer is that I'm constantly learning and developing my craft. There are so, so many resources onl...

One of my favourite parts of being a writer is that I'm constantly learning and developing my craft. There are so, so many resources online and offline to help writers, from workshops to classes to blog posts to webinars. But while the amount out there is incredibly diverse and enriching, it can be difficult to wade through all of it to find what's useful for you!

Over a year ago I shared my top 5 resoucres for writers, and since then I've discovered even more that have kept me in touch with the industry and pushed me to grow! My hope is that you too might find them beneficial for your writing journey!

1) Susan Dennard's "For Writers"

The best way to describe this website page is a goldmine. For years Susan Dennard has written articles on everything from query writing, to ways to edit your work, to overcoming productivity blocks. I've only just dipped my toe into these articles, and already found myself furiously taking notes. Susan is able to condense complex questions into bite-sized chunks, and teach in a straight-forward and clear manner that will make you fall in love with writing all over again.

She also has a wonderful newsletter and guide to querying which are absolutely worth checking out!

2) 88 Cups of Tea 

88 Cups of Tea is a podcast hosted by Yin Chang that has interviewed hundreds of author superstars and literary agents, such as Holly Black, Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, V.E. Schwab, Stephanie Garber, Samantha Shannon, and so many more! Each episode is beyond inspiring, with authors sharing how they fell in love with stories, how they pushed through the writing blocks in their journey, and writing tips. The podcast does a wonderful way of showing how even the most popular authors met periods of struggles and doubts, but also celebrates their successes and passions.

Additionally, the website has thought-provoking articles and essays on all things writing!

3) Jane Friedman's Blog

Jane Friedman is a highly respected publishing industry expert, and her blog is a hub for excellent articles on the latest changes, trends, and writing advice. There are also classic guides to writing queries, synopsis, self-publishing, and different traditional publishing paths. I highly recommend subscribing to the blog posts and spending time sifting through the wealth of information available!

4) Pub(lishing) Crawl

The question I've been asking myself recently is: how did I not discover this before? Pub Crawl is yet another goldmine of articles, these written from a mixture of successful authors, literary agents and editors. Virtually every category related to writing is here: writing craft, promotion, writing as a career, agents, revision letters, motivation... You could spend years reading through everything!

5) The Middle-Grade Ninja Podcast

You don't have to write middle grade to enjoy this amazing podcast! There is a staggering array of guests on this show: from YA to middle grade authors, to literary agents, to editors at huge publishing companies, to book promotion experts. If you're in the stage where you're looking for literary agents, I highly recommend finding episodes featuring agents! It will give you a great grasp of what they're looking for, as well as their personality!

Have you heard of any of these resources before? What are your favourite writing resources? Feel free to share them, I'd love to have a read/listen!
Happy writing and researching! <3

Due to our modern-day association of technology with smartphones, the latest earpods, and TVs, it can be easy to overlook developing the tec...

Due to our modern-day association of technology with smartphones, the latest earpods, and TVs, it can be easy to overlook developing the technology of our fictional worlds. When I read, it's rare for fantasy books to steer from traditional swords, parchment, daggers and other medieval-esque technologies. Which is a shame! It makes more sense for fictional worlds to have their own technologies, and gives these worlds so much more depth!

So what do I mean by technology? According to Google, technology is "the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry." Essentially, technology is developed to make tasks easier or more efficient. It can range from weapons to communication to cooking materials to blacksmithing.

If you're eager to add unique yet realistic touches to your world, then creating technology for it is the perfect place to start. Let's get to some questions you can ask yourself, to help develop them!

1) Why was this piece of technology invented/created? What problem does it solve? How does it help people achieve a specific goal?

2) Who created it? How long did it take, and were they being paid for it? Did they plan to keep it to themselves, share it for free, or sell it on the market? What were the challenges of creating it and its prototypes? Why was the creator motivated to invent it?

3) When can it be used? Does it rely on shifting materials or time, such as sunlight or the stars? What limitations does this put on it?

4) What is needed to operate it, whether that's skill, certain materials, or a specific individual? How easy are these skills, materials, or individuals to come by?

5) If an individual must be trained to use it, how long does it take to obtain a basic understanding of it? What about mastery? Who trains them, where, and at what cost? How exclusive is the training?

6) What legal restrictions or benefits on using the technology exist? It is illegal, and if so, who is still willing to use and trade it? If it's encouraged by the government or power structures, why? How does it benefit them?

7) How have attitudes to the technology changed over time? Was it first distrusted, then accepted, or vice versa? Have attitudes stayed the same? What caused this change or stagnation?

8) How likely is it that the technology will be replaced with a better, updated model? Is it the latest upgrade, or the first? Why might someone use a more basic model compared to the latest, or vice versa?

9) Who has access to the technology? What might be barriers to individuals obtaining it; money, laws, social pressure, something else? What might encourage individuals to obtain it despite these? Or is there no stigma or cost attached, and the technology is readily available? Why?

10) How do different cultures view the technology? Is it widely spread, or is only one people group using it? Why?

11) How large is the piece of technology? What is required to transport it? Is it able to be tucked into a pocket, or is a box needed, or a wagon? How difficult is it to move?

12) Are there any religious protests to the technology's invention or usage? If so, then how does it clash with the religious teachings or doctrine? Are religious groups' members encouraged to use it, banished if they do so, or something else?

13) How are people using the technology in a way it was not designed for? Have people been able to repurpose it for criminal deeds, or for good? What effect has this had on the people who use it, and their society?

More in the 'Questions to Ask When...' Series
Cities      History      Celebrations      Magic
Characters (Backstory, and Interview)
Schools      Monarchies      Religion (Part 1 and Part 2)     

What is your favourite piece of technology from a book you've read? The most creative? How often do you create your worlds' unqiue technologies?
Have a wonderful day, and best wishes with your worldbuilding! <3