Saturday, 29 April 2017

The Voices of YA Tag

    Happy Saturday everyone! (Or Friday if you're in a different time zone, or whatever day it is when you're reading this!) Today I'll be participating in the Voices of YA Tag, which was created by Caitlin Lambert. The tag has been made for YA writers/bloggers so they can share about their passion for YA! I wasn't technically tagged for it, but as Caitlin opened it up to anyone who wished to participate, and I wished to, here I am! Thank you for creating the tag and letting me join in on the fun, Caitlin!

    Here are the rules:

1) Thank the person who tagged you
2) Link to the original creator
3) Answer the ten questions
4) Tag AT LEAST two other YA writers/bloggers

    This awesome tag is split into two parts, so let's get into it!



ABOUT THE WRITERS:

#1 - What draws you to YA?

    Firstly, I'm in YA age range, so almost all the books I read are YA and I enjoy writing characters my age. But the odd thing is that I've been reading YA since primary/elementary school. I was always an advanced reader, and when I found YA books I was hooked, even if I didn't always understand everything. I managed to get my hands on some far-too-mature books for consumption by sneaking into my school's high school library. True fact.

    That aside, there's this beautiful thing about YA where topics that are hard, and raw, and tough to get through can be explored. But it's not just all wallowing in darkness. There's light in it too, mixed with hope and examples of people overcoming the odds with bravery. YA characters push through hard times and come out the other side scarred, but having learnt and persevered. I could on about it for days, but that's the heart of my reason for loving YA.

#2 - Describe your writing process. Do you like outlines and structure, or seeing where the story takes you?

    Process? What process? 

    I'm kidding, I do have a bit of one. I used to be an extreme pantser but as this made me extremely stressed in editing, I now do some before hand preparation. Most of the time I world-build for a few weeks, fleshing out the geography, history, and culture of the world; which in turn tends to spark character and plot ideas. Then I'll scribble down the basic premise and a few scene/chapter ideas, and if I'm feeling artistic, some scrap-book worldbuilding. Then it's off into the first draft to pants the rest!


Sneak peek of two characters' backstory from Splintered Crown. This style is what I call scrap-book worldbuilding. Apologies for the blurriness; can't have you knowing all the spoilers now, can we?

#3 - How long have you been writing? Where are you in your journey?

    I've been writing seriously for four years now. Before that I always enjoyed writing, but I mark 2013 as the year I began to strive towards being a writer and considered it my career goal. A lot has happened in these four years, and I've grown as a writer both in my attitude towards writing and myself, found my voice, and discovered how best I write.

    At the moment, I'm editing the second draft of a book I believe wholeheartedly could be published in the next few years.

#4 - What do you need to write? Coffee? Music?

    A glass of water to keep me hydrated, earphones, and good music that will drown out any background noise.

#5 - If you could offer one piece of advice to another writer (OTHER THAN "don't give up"), what would it be?

    Wow, this is tricky, simply because there's so much to say. It's hard to narrow it down to a single piece of advice, as every writer is at a different part in their journey, but I would say this (as I shared on twitter the other day):


Only YOU can write YOUR story. No one can write it like you can. Your voice is important, because it's yours, and yours only.

ABOUT THE BOOKS:

#6 - What book still has you reeling from its plot twist? (*no spoilers please*)

    Honestly, as Caitlin also said in her post, Red Queen blew me away with its plot twist. I had a vague idea something bad was coming, but gosh, did it make me mad...



#7 - What books are you most anticipating this year?

    I'm looking forward to Sarah J Maas' new books coming in May and September; Tower of Dawn and A Court of Wings and Ruin. Oh oh! And Obsidio in the Illuminae Files series! It comes out next year, but sshhh, I'll still be anticipating it all year.

#8 - In your opinion, what YA book/series has the most unique premise?

    The first book series that pops to mind is the Birthmark series by Caragh M O'Brien. As the books develop, so does the premise, and it blew my mind. I love the series so much!



#9 - What is your all-time favourite quote from YA lit?

    From Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas: "You could rattle the stars...You could do anything, if only you dared." 

#10 - What book do you most hope will have a movie adaptation?

    Illuminae! There have been rumours about it, I believe, but I would love to see if they could pull off the adaptation. I would be very cross if they messed with my beloved characters though...

    That's it for the questions! I tag the below people, and anyone else who wishes to do it!


Jeneca @ Jeneca Writes
Victoria @ Wanderer's Pen

I hope you enjoyed the post! I'd love to hear some of your answers to the questions! What's your favourite YA book quote? What piece of advice would you offer to another writer? How long have you been writing?
Let me know in the comments, and have an awesome day! <3

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Am Currently... #8

    It's the holidays!!! For a few more days, that is... But despite my quickly dwindling free time, I feel like I've accomplished a whole ton over the last two and a half weeks. Between family outings like attending the Royal Easter Show (the baby animals were so gorgeous) and exploring Circular Quay, where the Harbour Bridge and Opera House are, I've crammed in plenty of other activities.

    Let's get to it!


    Sadly, I prioritised writing over the Easter Holidays, and so I am still reading the Shadow Queen by CJ Redwine, but have also started Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder. I'm super excited about the later as I loved the first book, Poison Study, and I'm hoping I'll love the sequel just as much. 

   This doesn't technically count as reading, but I bought the Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, which is a super cool reference guide when you're unsure of how to convey a character's emotion. It lists physical signs of the emotion, internal sensations, and mental reactions, to name a few. I definitely recommend it if you're interested in writing!


   Wow, do I have a lot to put down here. Though I'm not participating in Camp Nano, I might as well have been due to the amount of writing I've gotten through. At present I've written nearly 20,000 words of the first draft of Splintered Crown, a YA fantasy about Crim, who has trained his whole life to become Heir to the throne, only to have his sister chosen over him. You can read a more detailed description of it here.

   In addition to that, I finished the first draft of my piece for Project Canvas (which is an amazing opportunities for teenage writers, by the way) and am looking forward to hearing feedback from the editing team on it. 

   And in addition to that, I cracked straight into second draft edits of Golden Revenge. I've been working on the novel for over a year now (yay!), and yesterday was especially ecstatic about it. Why? Because I finally got inspiration on how to change one of the POVs so it flowed with the rest of the story, and made sense in context to the world. After having a mental block about it for several weeks, it was great to break through!

   Here's a little snippet from one of the novel's POVs, Mida, who is a gender retelling of King Midas with the golden touch:

Mida wrapped her gloved hand around the lord’s elbow, letting him take a minute to realize that the only thing between him and death was a thin layer of magical leather. She kept the smile on her face. Maybe if she freaked him out enough, he would leave. Or die in a hole. 

Whatever came first.


    I am OBSESSED with listening to the new Beauty and the Beast soundtrack, particularly Evermore (so powerful and raw) and Main Title: Prologue. If you're thinking 'what on earth' to the last one, it's an instrumental song on the soundtrack that is both magical and special. Check it out. :)


    Pretty good. I'm excited to get into the editing of Golden Revenge this morning and hopefully rewrite/edit yet another chapter. It will be interesting to see whether that distracts me from my homework yet again today...


Let's chat about you! How is your writing progress going? Are you participating in Camp Nano? What's on your TBR and what's your favourite song at the moment?
Let me know in the comments, and have a fantastic day! <3

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Who Are They?

    She's the one with a thousand journals. Some are filled, words and ink and inspiration tumbling over and running into each other in creativity's chaos. Others, not so much. Their pages start off in small bursts, but then the words are smudged. Sentences half-finished, ideas abandoned.

    He's the one with a warehouse for a mind. There doesn't seem to be an end to its horizon. Thoughts are produced, packaged, and presented to him by the tens of thousands each day. Most are tucked into the back storerooms or thrown out with trash, unoriginal and unloved. But a few are kept in its blooming greenhouse and cultivated with time.

    She's the one whose fingers know the keyboard better than human flesh. Every letter's place, every hidden trick and short-cut, she knows them all. Auto-correct is her sworn nemesis, 'add to dictionary' her favourite friend. She spends hours pushing buttons painted with symbols as she weaves them into heartache and joy.

    He's the one who hides his dreams behind expectations. In the late nights he closes his door, shutting out one world and entering another. The blinding glow of a white screen is not a midnight movie, but rather a fear bound secret. His mouth says he'll go to university for one thing, yet his heart pleads for another.


    She's the girl who's never been good at anything except this. She binds herself to it, defines herself by its success, builds her identity on the title it brings. So when the hate from those she trusts comes in comments, in critiques, in crucifying her story, she crumbles. Hugs her knees to her chest and cries. Thinks she'll never be good enough.

    He's the boy who could be successful in anything, but happy in nothing. His reports ooze As and teacher's praise, and he's his parents' pride at dinner parties. But someday he's going to tell them what truly makes him feel alive, and their dreams will shatter like fine china.

    She's the girl who seeks what could have gone so wrong. As tears carve permanent grooves into her cheeks, she scours the online abyss for answers. 'Common writing mistakes' 'how to improve bad writing' and 'why am I so horrible at this' plague her search bar. Eyes devour every article as her head bobs, and she realizes where she took a wrong turn.

    He's the boy who fears mouthing the truth. He paces back and forth, wears an anxious road into the grey carpet. Cars hum to a stop in the driveway and sparkle with a wealth he wants, but doesn't need. His hand jerks open the door, breath catches in his throat, and his feet lead him to the living room.


    She's the girl who pushes back her chair, and smiles. Wipes away the tears. Folds up the hate and leaves it in a closed drawer. Cracks open the journals, pours through ink and stories and people that swept her away the first time, and allows herself to love them once more. Tries again. And again. And again, until she knows the tears mean next time it'll be better.

    He's the boy who faces those who he fears, and speaks. Their faces fall, but he keeps talking, letting his gut and heart spill out for them to embrace, or step on. He finishes. Then even as one fights showing utter disappointment, the other smiles and pulls him into a hug. It's new for them, raw for him. But he'll keep going, because he knows that with the secret out the only thing he can fear is himself.

    She, he, the one, the girl, the boy. Who are they?

    Writers.



Hello everyone! Thanks for joining me today with this unusual post. I had a thought in my mind last night, and when I started typing, it turned into this small two-sided story. It's not overly edited, I haven't spent hours examining every word, because I wanted to share my real thoughts and ideas with all of you. I hope you enjoyed it!

What are your thoughts on 'Who Are They?' Can you connect with any of the characters or their struggles? How is your writing going?
Let me know in the comments, and have a wonderful day! <3

Monday, 10 April 2017

First Blogiversary and a Special Q & A!

      I've been blogging for a year. How is that even possible? I'm so confused yet so excited at the same time! I wasn't sure if I would make it this far, to be honest. I've gotten into quite a few mental ruts and times of no inspiration, so I'm super proud of myself for pushing through and making it to this day. 

     I'm also incredibly thankful for all of you! Without you guys, I don't know if I would have stuck with Quill Pen Writer. So thank you for following officially or unofficially, thank you for gorgeous comments that have beyond encouraged me, thank you for sharing my posts and so much love. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love you all, truly. <3



    To give something back to you all I wanted to do something special, which is why a few days ago I posted a form where you could submit questions. Many of you asked several questions, and for organisation's sake I'll be answering each separately.

    Thank you to Grace West, Rachel, Hannah White, Jeneca, Shanti, Andrea, and Cait @ Paper Fury for submitting questions!

Do you know when you will try to go into publishing?

    Traditional publishing has always been my aim, though I suspect it's a while off. The first book I'll probably be submitting to agents is Golden Revenge, as it's a stand-alone and is in the best shape at this stage. I still need to do second draft edits and send it out to beta-readers, however, so perhaps my querying process will start next year? A little unknown at this time.

What are your favourite books, movies, and TV shows?

Books -- This is sooo hard, which is why I appreciate the plural form. Presently my favourite books are Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas, Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman, and Left Behind - the Kids series by Jerry B Jenkins and Tim LaHaye.

Movies -- It's a dead tie between Prince of Egypt, the Huntsman: Winter's War, and the new Beauty and the Beast.

TV Shows -- Major Crimes, Dance Academy, and the Australian Masterchef take top place, though I am becoming slightly obsessed with Lost. (No spoilers, please!)


I love love love the soundtrack and film
What was your first completed novel about? (completed first draft, that is) How old were you when you started and finished it?

    My first completed first draft was called Royal Academy, based on an imaginary world I created with my long-term school friends. The world was split into different realms, primarily the Shadow and Sun Realms, who were at odds. In the story, girls are kidnapped from their Earthen homes and brought to the Royal Academy, where they enter a life or death competition to become one of two queens that rules each realm. 

    I was 13 when I started writing it, and finished it four months later at a total word count of 74,735 words. When I went back to look at the word count I was actually really surprised, as I thought it was half of that. I really do love the story, even if it had cringe-worthy romance and a main character too much like me.

    Shadows rule! (If you understood that reference, I love you)

What was the first story you ever wrote?

    Well, in kindergarten I wrote the following story: "Once upon a time there was a magic rose. The rose turned into a bus. The end." The first 'proper' story I ever wrote outside of school was, if I remember correctly, Sharissa's Story, about the best girl thief ever. The best.



What is your favourite food? Favourite drink?

    I have so many favourite foods (like chocolate) including, near the top of my list, hibachi chicken and ravioli. As for favourite drink, water is my fave (I know, I'm weird) but if that doesn't count, ma naow bun is second. It's a Thai sour and salty lemon drink with crushed ice. Yum!

Have you ever been to the US before?

    Despite my accent and having several American friends, no. Maybe someday. :)

Cats or dogs?

    Dogs. Cats can be cute, but most aren't as affectionate in my experience.



What do you say when people ask you where you come from?

    Oh my, this is always a tricky situation. Most of the time people ask if I'm American, due to my accent, but I have to correct them. To be honest I don't consider myself from anywhere other than the world. I answer by saying: "I'm an Australian citizen who's lived in Thailand for fourteen years." I have a Thai heart, international blood, and Aussie heritage.

What's the best thing about attending high school?

    I will temporarily reserve my whining about assignments to say, high school is pretty cool. The best thing is being able to connect with people while still learning. I am grateful to have an education, unlike many others who are unable right now. But I'll still complain about homework, cause, that's what I do. XD

How do you find time to read?

    Sadly I don't read as much as I should right now. I usually try and read before I have my shower or before bed in short little bursts. They eventually add up so I can finish a book.



What inspires you or motivates you to continue blogging?

    Blogging, particularly thinking of post ideas or finding time to write them, has always challenged me. Most of the time I take inspiration from my current writing experiences or problems, as it makes it feel like I'm writing something real and not something put out there for the sake of it. Reading other blogs can also help spark different ideas too.

What is one of your favourite blog posts you wrote on this blog?

    This is so hard! There are so many I love, and ones that got amazing responses from you all. But I really think writing Therapy Session helped me explore a new and interesting part of my blogging style. I'm hoping to put out more posts like it in the future.



Are you first a reader or writer?

    I developed my love of writing from reading, and I adore books, but if I only have an hour to do something in a day, I will write. So I suppose I'm firstly a writer.

Is there a less popular fairy-tale or folklore or myth you'd love to retell as a novel?

    Writing a re-telling of several Lithuanian and Latvian folk tales interests me, like Twelve Brothers, Twelve Black Ravens, where their sister is the hero, and maybe elements of the Swan Queen. What's really interesting is both of these folk tales end with the narrator suddenly revealing himself in first person, and talking about how he was there. Exploring this narrator character would be fun!


    Again, thank you for the questions and for joining me on my writing journey here on Quill Pen Writer! Now to throw a few questions at you!


What was the first novel you ever wrote about? Favourite food and favourite movies? What's your favourite blog post you've written? (link me in the comments!) Any other questions for me?
Have a fantastic day! <3

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Any Questions?

     Hey everyone! This post is going to be a bit out of the ordinary, as my first blogiversary is coming up! On the 10th I'll be doing a special Q & A, answering all your questions. They can be on anything such as my current writing projects, past ones, writing habits, personal experiences, favourite food, current reads, anything!

   Unless I get thousands of questions, I'll try my very hardest to answer all of them. Please don't think that any are stupid! I'd love to hear from each and every one of you. <3

    Below is a google form where you can enter your questions. Thank you all for all your wonderful support!