It's been some time since I last shared about my stories and especially my characters, so I'm super excited today to be able to part...

It's been some time since I last shared about my stories and especially my characters, so I'm super excited today to be able to participate in the Voted Most Likely Tag! Both Victoria and Emily tagged me (thank you!!), which means I'm double-tagged and probably should have gotten to this before now. But I digress. To the tag!



The Rules:

Rule One: Thank the lovely blogger who tagged you. You know you want to. (Double thanks for a double tag! <3)
Rule Two: Include this lovely link in your post.
Rule Three: Use your own lovely Original Characters (OC’s); don’t use a friend’s characters or characters from your favorite fandom. They can be from any project, so long as you created them. For more fun, try to use as many different characters as possible.
Rule Four: Tag at least five lovely blogger friends to play along.

1) Most Likely to Be a Poet

Summer from Call of the Vanished (I just finished its first draft!) loves to write and everything that has to do with stories, so she's probably written a hundred poems by now. Most likely they'd be nature or love poems.

2) Most Likely to Dance in the Rain

Feriha from Golden Revenge. I can't say exactly why because of spoilers, but she loves the feeling of raindrops on her skin, and the rumble of thunder beneath her feet. It's a dance that she's always eager to join.

3) Most Likely to Look Good in a Kilt

I feel a little uncomfortable saying Koray from Golden Revenge, but with his super big grin and constant joking he could pull anything off. Even if he felt very awkward in one, he'd turn it into a huge joke.

4) Most Likely to Get Punched in the Face

Taylan from Golden Revenge. Apart from his general stubbornness and anger issues, he puts himself into a lot of situations where he's not everyone's best friend. 


5) Most Likely to Drop Everything and Become a Sheep Herder

(This is a super random question, but sure.) Considering Lonnie from Call of the Vanished is a country boy and doesn't like cities all that much, I can see him becoming a sheep herder or a farmer in general. 

6) Most Likely to Be Found in the Library

It's a tie between Summer, and Kyrone from Golden Revenge. They'd be in different sections of the library though; Summer would devour every fantasy book and browse the fiction aisles, while Kyrone would check out every book on history or accounting he could find.

7) Most Likely to Sleep Through an Earthquake

If I was a character, this would be me, because this has actually happened in real life. But since I can't pick myself, I'll pick Alp from Golden Revenge, as he's a very deep sleeper and has been mistaken for dead once while napping.

8) Most Likely to Steal Food from Other Peoples’ Plates

Koray. And he'd do it with a smile and a joke so that by the time you realized your food was in his mouth, you would be more amused than annoyed.


9) Most Likely to Cheat on a Test

Connor from Call of the Vanished would cheat on a test, mostly to give himself the challenge of finding the answers beforehand and seeing if he could get away with it.

10) Most Likely to Say “Oops” After Setting Something on Fire

Vaara, also from Call of the Vanished, has the funniest quips and comments ready for the worst situations. She makes jokes to keep herself from panicking, and this seems like the perfect example of that.

11) Most Likely to Open an Orphanage

Feriha, if the orphanage could double as a hospital. Her heart is huge and aches for all the hurting, broken people in the world, especially children. 

12) Most Likely to Run off with the Circus

Koray is apparently the star of today's post. He can entertain a crowd as well as one person, and he'd have plenty of card tricks up his sleeve.


13) Most Likely to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse

There's a mysterious (and fairly creepy) character called Kola in Call of the Vanished and honestly, he would survive anything. He has skills in deadly areas and can make himself blend with shadows, so zombies wouldn't be a problem in the slightest.

14) Most Likely to Fake Their Own Death

Ela, the queen and villain of Golden Revenge, would definitely consider doing this and moving abroad if she felt like she was losing her power. She'd make sure to take as much money as possible to claim a new life elsewhere.

15) Most Likely to Die and Haunt Their Friends

Taylan would make a restless, hurting ghost who would never find peace after death. I can picture him haunting his friends but mostly enemies, scouting the earth, looking for one more chance at vengeance.

I focused on only two WIPs today and their characters, as they're the main ones in my thoughts at the moment, but I hoped that you enjoyed these little snapshots of their personalities! Now, I tag...



If I didn't tag you, please feel free to steal the tag! Which of your characters are most likely to cheat on a test? To dance in the rain? How is your writing going?
Have a wonderful day! <3

I had the enormous pleasure of hosting a flash fiction contest to celebrate my blogoversary this year, and wow, you all outdid yourselves! ...

I had the enormous pleasure of hosting a flash fiction contest to celebrate my blogoversary this year, and wow, you all outdid yourselves! I had so many excellent entries that choosing between them was incredibly difficult. It broke my heart that I couldn't give everyone a prize, and the best I could stretch the prizes was to have a tie for third place! All that being said, thank you for everyone who submitted for the contest, and here are the winners!



Tied Third Place - Skye Hoffert
Thoughts from Melissa: This piece had a different take on the theme and I loved the banter and quips between the two characters! There are also beautiful moments of description and an underlying tension woven throughout the piece. If you'd like to read more of Skye's work, she blogs over at Ink Castles

Muted, soft blues and pinks appeared through the viewfinder of my camera. I pulled it away to appreciate the clarity of the sky before me. The clouds looked like puffs of cotton candy, the way they were edged in pink.  As I looked back through the lens, the image seemed slightly warped. Not as crisp and alive as the one before me. Lifeless. 

I snapped a picture anyway. Fiddled with the dials and changed the aperture value to match the failing light. It didn’t matter what I did, the photo would never be anything more than a cheap copy. That didn’t seem to ever stop me from trying.

“Are you going to be out here all night?”

I didn’t turn around to acknowledge the mocking voice. I flicked through my less than perfect photos on the led screen.

“That’s a yes then. I brought you some tea.”

I gave the intruder a cursory glance and mumbled a ‘thank you’.  He was a mess of bed head and a wrinkled hoodie. I barely registered his somewhat annoying presence.  I was losing the vibrancy of the sunset. The light was leaving me. I snapped a few more shots. The click of the shutter was always a soothing noise.

I sorted through them in frustration.

He leaned in closer to get a better look at the photos I was flicking through. “Those are really good,” he said, his voice belaying way more appreciation than they deserved.

I blew hair out of my eyes, and inched away from him, “No, they’re really not, they're disappointing.”

He laughed. “Well I’d have to disagree." He nudged me with the still-hot thermos. "Not that I know much about this kind of thing, but they’re pretty and that’s kind of the point, right?”

I glared at him. “Not quite."

“It’s not?” He squinted at me and pulled a small stack of Styrofoam cups out of his hoodie pocket. He held one out to me and I reluctantly took it.

“Is this sanitary?” I inspected the cup for any unsavory additions.

He smiled, his white teeth gleaming in the now dim light. “Probably not.” He poured a generous amount of steaming milk tea into my cup.

The warmth spread quickly to my red fingers, I hadn’t even realized how cold it was. I took a careful sip, it was more milk than tea, but it warmed me up.

I watched the sun disappear taking all of the colors with it. “I missed it.”

He quirked an eyebrow at me. “What did you miss?”

I clicked my lens cap on, “The sunset... Everything.”

“You got plenty of pictures of it.” He looked confused, as he squinted at the sky with me.

I shrugged, “I didn’t capture it. I never seem to do that... the pictures don’t do it justice.”

“What exactly are you trying to capture?”  He asked, punctuating his question with a loud slurp of tea.

I dodged his gaze and focused on the now navy blue sky. “The horizon.”

Tied Third Place - Conrad
Thoughts from Melissa: Both mysterious and engaging, this piece captured me straight away. It's poised in the moment of a life-changing decision, with a killer last line that had me hungering for more.

     He leaped from rock to rock. The years had hardened him. 
     He was not a child anymore.
     He smirked at the frantic cries in the valley behind him. “No longer,” he whispered.
     He slowed as he reached the crest of the ridge, no longer defiant. The place he dreamed of standing for years now felt frightening and unknown. Where was the moment of glory, of achievement?
     He glanced behind him and saw “them”  searching for him, their cries now changed to whimpers. Shaking his head,  he tried to move on but his feet felt like lead. He looked at the crest that had for so long been the line between heaven and earth, the place of  a lifetime of sunsets.
     What if something large and frightening lay on the other side? He shuddered, but even worse, what if nothing lay on the other side.? 
     Collapsing to his knees, he put his head in his hands. Was it better to have the joy of a dream or to take the risk of testing its reality? He didn’t know. He had never known.
     He had never been able to escape before. Their soft little hands had always gently but firmly pulled him back. Why did he think this time would be any different? Did he even want this time to be different?
     He looked back again at the little creatures milling around, then pulled himself up . He was so close. Or maybe he was farther than he had ever been. 
     Raising his eyes to the starry sky  and the unblinking moon, he murmured, “If something, or someone, is out there... help!” 
    He stood. Did he feel stronger? He didn’t know. The line between imagination and reality had disappeared long ago, if there had ever been a reality. 
    He took another step. One more and he would glimpse what was on the other side. 
    Which was better, imaginary beauty or painful reality? 
     Maybe there was such a thing as beautiful pain.
     He knew his dreams had only been beautiful because of the hope of reality. A dream without hope  was like a mist that would just be blown away by the winds of time.
     If his dreams were destroyed by what was on the other side of the horizon, they weren’t worth having anyway.  
     He felt a new sensation now, peace spreading throughout his body where peace had never been. He was afraid of being unafraid, of letting down his guard, but all those thoughts and feelings slowly trickled away, replaced by peace. 
     He smiled. 
     Had he ever done that before? He didn’t know, but he knew that he liked it. 
     Here he stood, on the fine line between two worlds. One step would set his destiny. What had happened to the fear that had once plagued him? 
    Taking a breath,  he stepped forward,  sending tremors through the only life he had ever known. 

Second Place: Emily G. 
Thoughts from Melissa: This piece was so much fun to read and was the perfect blend of high stakes and adventure. A lot of character was revealed in the few lines of dialogue and the ending had me on the edge of my seat. I wanted more! If you'd like to keep up with Emily's writing, she blogs over at The Ones that Really Matter and is on Instagram @bookwieldingemily. 


Sail Far Enough
Legend says you can catch the horizon. What legend fails to mention is that the horizon just might catch you first. ​

I can see that now, as I stand in the dead of night clutching the sides of our stolen ship. The starry sky bulges like a canvas, as if someone on the other side is trying to break through. And the ocean roars beneath us, rushes up fifteen feet over the stern and pushes us forward.​

A few days ago, this had seemed a fantastic plan: sail through untouched waters, so far that eventually, the place where the water and sky meet begins to grow closer. And once we reach that point, reap the abundant riches said to be found there. ​

Sounded like a pretty good deal for four lowly orphan boys. Kids of eighteen who can no longer live in the orphanage, but have no money to survive outside of it. ​

"Vinn!" ​

I turn to see Fal standing across from me, throwing a crate over the side of the ship and motioning for me to start doing the same. I look down at the cargo rolling around on the floor and reach out with one hand, unwilling to let go of the ship with the other. ​

I hear a grunt and look up. Tomman is at the helm, trying to steer us out of danger. He's the best man for the job, yet even he struggles. ​

No wonder, with sky and sea literally reaching out to grab us. ​

"This is crazy," Tomman yells, shaking the wet hair out of his eyes. "Why did we think this was a good idea?"​

Ralloren, standing at his side, stumbles then rights himself. "Of course it's crazy!" he says. "We always knew that!"​

The words of the old legend suddenly enter my mind. Sail far enough, and you can catch the horizon. ​

My hands clench into fists. Ralloren's right. We didn't know what we were getting into, yet we decided to try anyway. Now we're here, and we can't let this opportunity go. ​

"Tomman!" I shout. "Stop!"​

Tomman throws a brief look over his shoulder, the incredulity clear on his face. "Did you smuggle some rum on board after all, Vinn?" ​

"We've come this far!" I edge toward him and clamp a hand down on his shoulder. "We can't just turn back!" ​

He looks at me, uncertainty in his eyes. ​

"We wanted to catch the horizon, right? Well, we won't if we run away from the challenge! This journey was about courage, going where nobody's been before, right?"

"Yeah!" Ralloren nods eagerly. "We've got nothing to lose but our pride!"​

I turn to see Fal joining us. "I'm in," he says.​

Tomman hesitates. Then suddenly he releases the wheel. A great wave pitches us all to the floor. I look up to see the stars grow closer and wrap around the back of our ship to meet the rising waves.​

We all look at each other. "Here we go," Ralloren says, grinning. ​
The sea calms and our ship glides forward, as if there had never been a struggle at all.​

"Us and the horizon, catching each other," I say in wonder. Before us, a rift opens up between the water and the sky, spilling light into our path.

First Place: Kayla Stoltzfus
Thoughts From Melissa: Kayla's story immediately hooked me with its gorgeous prose contrasted with the horrors of the scene. There's a deep and challenging undertone and theme to the story that had me thinking long after I first read it. So much is packed within so few words.


The Train Will Come
     I reach, yearning for the brightness, for the strip of light they call dawn. For years I have sought it, longed for it. My fingers brush the light, but just as I grasp it, a whistle shatters the stillness. It’s that train again. The train that always passes by with its wretched human cargo, their hands wriggling out between the slats, reaching for hope. 

     It always happens. Just as I touch the horizon, as I nearly have my dream in my hands, the train comes with its wailing load of humanity. The first few times I saw it, it touched me, and I sacrificed my dream to deliver bread and water to dirty, chapped hands. 

     Now my dream has become a reality. I hold the dawn with white knuckled fists, a tenuous relationship between human and infinite. Light oozes out between my fingers, softening the train’s iron contours and falling on filthy, grasping hands. 

     I draw the light toward me, hugging it, reveling in the warmth. 

     A church stands beside the tracks, all warm wood and stained glass. It’s Easter Sunday, and the building is full, the singing almost as beautiful as the light I hold in my hands. 

     Don’t they hear the cries of the hopeless that languish just outside their door? Why don’t they do something?

     As the wailing grows louder, the saints raise their voices, drowning it out. They sing for an impossibly long time, long after I know the pastor should be sermonizing. 

     They are waiting for the train to leave. Don’t they know it never leaves before sunset? They should, as it is like this every Sunday. Eventually, the singing stops and the pastor starts in. His voice is rich and soothing, but it does not soothe the wounded humanity trapped in with their own sweat and tears. 

     I cradle my pulsing armload of light, not caring to hear what he has to say. Sunset will eventually steal my dream away, but for now I relish my time with it. 

     Time flies by, and before I know it, the church empties. People stream out, and several actually pause to stare at the train. One little boy holds out a crusty piece of bread he digs out of his pocket, but his mother pulls him away, covering his ears from the moans and wails. 

     I look away, shaking my head. Someone should help those wretched souls.

     Hours later, the churchgoers have all gone on to their large houses and Sunday afternoon naps. Shadows creep across the sky, and my dream slips away. 

     The whistle blows. As the train disappears over the horizon, I chastise myself for feeling guilty.

     It will come again, like it always does.

     Won’t it?


Please join me in congratulating the winners!! If you didn't place, please know that I enjoyed every single submission and it was so hard to choose between all of them. May your words continue to develop and shine! <3

When I attended a panel of the NSW Premier Literary Award winners a few days ago, one of them took an interesting standpoint; that craft, ab...

When I attended a panel of the NSW Premier Literary Award winners a few days ago, one of them took an interesting standpoint; that craft, above all else, is what creates great fiction. There was a lot of disagreement and mixed opinions in the audience, some saying that creativity is all in the subconscious, others trying to find a middle ground between the ideas.

It got me thinking about what I believe makes great writing. Does it come from talent, practice, or something in between? Great writing is subjective and what constitutes it is a post for another time, but for now let's define it as writing that you love and stories you want to visit again and again.



Talent

There are some authors that are superstars. They're the authors everyone has heard of, the household names, with stories that become fandoms and movies and TV shows, and generate more Bookstagram posts than you can count. They shoot to the top of the bestseller lists and have raving fans. These authors... it seems like they've just got it

I think there are definitely people who are naturally talented in writing. They're the children who spin stories from a young age, with wild imaginations, who curl up in the corner with a notebook. Everyone has different gifts, and one of those might be an affinity for words. Just as some children can pick up an instrument and master it in a few weeks instead of years, talent and natural ability also applies to writing.

The problem with assigning all great writing to the result of talent is that it negates all the work that author or writer put into improving their story. It's dismissive of the author's efforts and hard work. They might have had a step up through being born with a gift, but gifts don't manifest completely by themselves. They have to be nurtured and built upon, or they'll never be realised.


Practice

This is what almost every post with writing advice focuses on; the rules, the structures, the ideas to get writers looking back at their manuscripts, and reworking them until they're clean and polished. Practice is writing, then rewriting, then writing again. It's looking hard at what they've produced before, analysing it, and seeing what they can do better.

Practice is craft. It's getting feedback and beating out the story as if its molten metal, shaping it in the heat of the forge.  There is definitely something to be said about how practice creates great writing; the more a piece of art is looked at and refined, the clearer and often more beautiful it is to those who consume it. As they say, practice makes perfect. 

Almost every first draft a writer produces, talented or not, will never be amazing and without flaws. Not to mention everyone's first stories are... cringey, as the general consensus goes. That's where practice and revision come in to save the day. We have to be careful, however, not to neglect experimentation and inspiration in favour of practice; then we follow already written scripts, tying in tropes and rigid structure without allowing creativity to settle in.


We Need Both?

I think that while both talent and practice are essential to great pieces of writing, a better way to put it might be this: you need craft and creativity. Writing is a mesh of structure and the colours inbetween, it's both the canvas and the paint, the recipe and the dish. It's necessary to be careful when throwing words around like 'talent', for if that's championed above everything else, it will push so many writers away.

Hard work and passion, a love for writing, and a commitment to becoming better at it; these are the things that makes great writing. If a talented writer never bothers to edit their stories, the writing won't be great, it will be half-baked. Talent is a stepping stone, but it doesn't stretch across the whole river; there will still be swimming, whether you take the stone's path or not.

Writing requires practice, a willingness to learn, passion, and creativity. When they join together and the writer puts in both their love and their willingness to work, that's when great writing is produced. 



Where do you think great writing comes from? Do you agree or disagree with me? What elements make up great writing?
Have a wonderful day, and best wishes with your writing! <3

Over my week-long holiday I set myself a challenge to read the longest book on my shelf; "The Priory of the Orange Tree" by Samant...

Over my week-long holiday I set myself a challenge to read the longest book on my shelf; "The Priory of the Orange Tree" by Samantha Shannon, which is over 800 pages and is affectionally referred to as 'the mammoth'. I can't begin to describe to you how detailed and cleverly woven the world-building in this book is. The way the world is designed, its scars and culture, moves through the characters' every actions. Despite some questionable content, the world enthralled me and inspired this post.

"The Priory of the Orange Tree"'s world is built on a vast history that comes from long-standing myths. Myths are integral to culture, religion, and rituals. They are often the basis for celebrations and customs, and stories told over campfires. It's important to note the kind of myths we're talking about here; not necessarily a false story, but rather, according to Google: "a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events."



If you're unsure how to develop your story world's myths or are baffled where to start, here are some questions you can ask yourself:

1) Who are the central characters in the myth? What are their names, or have they been lost to history? Do they perhaps only have titles?

2) What is plot of the myth? What challenge was overcome, or what event took place? Eg. a great monster defeated, an empire founded, the impossible accomplished. How does the myth explain how the hero of the myth was able to overcome the challenge?

3) How long is the myth? Has it been summarised as it's been passed down, or lengthened?

4) What format is the myth told in? Is it passed on verbally, through art, or through written works? How many copies of it are there?



5) How sacred is the myth considered? Is it the center of their religion, nothing but a story, or an integral part of their history? Would it be blasphemy to disbelieve in it or change the story?

6) Has the myth been altered over time? If so, was it intentional, or a result of the time before its creation to the current time? What has been changed and what has stayed the same?

7) How truthful is the myth? Did the event truly take place, or is it all fabricated? What does the general public believe?

8) When and where is the myth told? Are there special storytellers which can be the only ones who share it with the people, or do parents whisper it to their children before bed? Or something else? Is there a specific holiday where the myth is recounted?

9) What do other cultures and people groups think of the myth? Do they believe it, share it, think it heresy, or something else? How would they respond if they were told the myth as if it were complete truth?



10) What cultural elements have emerged as a result of the myth? Are children scared to walk in the dark alone, is the myth's hero now the figure of their religion, or something else? How does it affect everyday life, if at all?

11) Why or why not will the myth continue to live on? Why do people choose to keep telling it, and what would it take for them to stop doing so?

12) What lessons does the myth present to those who hear it? What values or historical or religious event does it teach? What are its core themes?

13) If the hero of the myth was a person, do their descendants still live? What do they believe about the myth, and how do they interact with it? How have their lives changed because of it?

14) If the antagonist or enemy in the myth has living descendants, how do they feel about the myth? How has it changed their lives, standing in the community, or the way they view the world? Are they still considered enemies?

That's all the questions for today! I hope they'll help spark ideas and worldbuilding concepts for myths and much more. Below are other posts in this blog series:


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

Don't forget that the deadline for the flash fiction contest 'Catching the Horizon' is coming up, May 4th! I'd love to see all your pieces and there are big prizes to be had! More details can be found at the bottom of this post.



What kind of myths do you see in fiction? Have you ever created myths in your storyworld? Will you be entering the contest?
Have a wonderful day! <3

Easter is my favourite time of year. This is a time where I remember the great pain and suffering Jesus endured for our sake, so that we mig...

Easter is my favourite time of year. This is a time where I remember the great pain and suffering Jesus endured for our sake, so that we might be reunited with God and be forgiven all our sins. Imagine bearing the weight of every sin of every person alive, people who have been, and people not yet born. That's billions upon billions upon billions.

That's a burden of the heaviest kind.

Jesus took on that burden, and on the third day, defeated death and rose again so that one day we might too rise with Him. 

Before I return to normal posts next week, I'd like to share my favourite Easter songs with you. Songs that remind me of the pain Jesus went through, the love of God, and how Death's chains were broken.

May they help remind you of the love of Jesus and our Father. <3




"How Deep the Father's Love For Us" 
by Stuart Townsend

Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
- - -
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished



"Jerusalem"
by CityAlight

See the King who made the sun
And the moon and shining stars
Let the soldiers hold and nail Him down
So that He could save them
- - -
Feel the earth is shaking now
See the veil is split in two
And He stood before the wrath of God
Shielding sinners with His blood


"Forever"
by Kari Jobe


The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting?
Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated


"Resurrection Power"
by Chris Tomlin

Now I have resurrection power
Living on the inside
Jesus, You have given us freedom
I'm no longer bound by sin and darkness
Living in the light of Your goodness
You have given us freedom


"Hallelujah"
by Casting Crowns

Man shakes the fist at heaven
The breath of God still in his lungs
A brokenhearted Father grieves
In love He sends His only Son
- - -
He was bruised for our transgressions
Crushed and buried in the ground
As the sunrise finds an empty tomb
The redeemed of God resound



What songs do you listen to during Easter? What does Easter mean to you? How are you celebrating this year?
May blessings be upon you, friends <3

It's officially been three years now that I've been blogging on Quill Pen Writer! *confetti explodes everywhere* I cannot describe h...

It's officially been three years now that I've been blogging on Quill Pen Writer! *confetti explodes everywhere* I cannot describe how wild but amazing these last years have been, both online and offline, so thank you so, so much for your support! I couldn't have done it without you.



Last week I asked you to ask me anything, and gave hints about a special contest! Today in celebration of Quill Pen Writer being three, I'm answering all of your questions, and announcing the contest. There are special prizes waiting, and answers, so let's get to it!


What "bad" writing habits do you have that you're trying to break?

Doubting myself! I don't know if that classifies as a habit, but I tend to look at the first draft of my current WIP and compare it to the fifth or so draft of another WIP, wondering why my new one is so bad. Please be better than I am, and ignore these thoughts! You wouldn't compare the speaking ability of a three year old to a newborn, so why do we expect so much of our first drafts?

Was there ever a moment when your characters surprised you?

Pretty much every single scene. They're extremely rebellious, and like to take my plot and run away with it. 

If you had to describe your writing process as a season, which season would it be?


I've never thought about my process like this! But maybe winter? I have quite a slow, developing process, so it's far from the quick growth of seasons like spring. My ideas tend to be blanketed under snow as they develop, and then over time the ice melts as I write.

How long have you been writing?

I've been writing seriously, with the intent of being a published author, for around six years now!

How do you choose which WIP to work on?

It's difficult, but I make sure each WIP passes the "sit and stew" test. I write down my ideas as they come to me, and can spend hours fleshing out plot bunnies, but then I'll force them to wait and stew in my brain. If they keep prodding me or I'm still excited by the idea a few months down the track, that's when I chose it as my next WIP!

Do you listen to music while you write?

I used to. A year or so ago I always put on my latest favourite songs while writing, but I've discovered it's so much easier and more productive for me to write in silence. That way I don't keep changing tabs to choose the next song.


What is your favorite fantasy world?

I don't know if it fully classifies as fantasy, but the world of "The Gilded Wolves" by Roshani Chokshi is incredibly rich and detailed. I rarely see worlds that are both magical and dark, lush and dangerous, and every page breathes.

What is your favorite hobby (besides writing)?

Photography! I love playing around with angles and book shots. That being said, you can find me on Instagram @melissagravitis. ;)

What is your favorite fantasy creature? 

Griffins! They're incredibly majestic, and yet really cute at the same time. I blame this obsession mostly on my childhood love of 'The Spiderwick Chronicles'.

Favorite thing to write about?

This is going to sound very strange, but, kidnappings. Or captivity. There's so much potential drama and character growth that can happen from it, and it's a great conflict point too. (I'm not encouraging it in any way, but somehow it always shows up in my stories. Strange...)

What’s your favorite part of world-building?

I've always enjoyed coming up with different customs and values that a culture has. There's a lot of room for experimentation, and playing around, and it makes the world really feel alive!

What's your favorite thing about being a writer?

Being able to tell the stories on my heart!



What is your favorite thing about having a blog?

Talking with and getting to know all of you! It's so wonderful to be able to be part of the blogging community and walk alongside other writers' journeys.

Favorite time of day to write?

Mid-morning or afternoon, as they're my free spots of the day now.

What’s your least favorite genre of books/movies?

Horror. It's all too much for me, and the gory scenes really freak me out.

What's your favorite genre to read? to write?

Fantasy, all the fantasy! I love a world full of magic and high stakes.

Who is your favorite character out of your own?

You're asking me to choose between my children? Never. (Mida and Koray are strong contenders.)

What are five of your favorite books?

This is a tough one, but probably: "The Cruel Prince" by Holly Black, "The Blood Race" by K.A. Emmons, "King's Folly" by Jill Williamson, "Illuminae" by Jay Kristoff and Amy Kaufman, and "The Winner's Kiss" by Marie Rutkoski.


Who are some people that inspire you, and why?

My parents. <3 They love God, serve him with passion, and have given up so much of their lives for Him.

What's one book and one movie that changed your life in some way?

'Enna Burning' by Shannon Hale forever changed the way I wrote, and what I wrote. I used to love imaginary games and so on as a child, but I always tended to read contemporary or historical books. When I came across Shannon Hale's books, I fell in love with all things fantasy.

What's your favorite thing about Australia? Your favorite thing about Thailand? Favourite thing about being a TCK (Third Culture Kid)?

Australia = trees, trees, trees! And parks! Near my house!
Thailand = the food is to die for; fresh and spicy all at once.
TCK = the range of life experiences I've been able to have.

Have you ever wished you were homeschooled, or have you always been happy with public school? 

I'm happy with public school! I also went to an international school in Thailand, and both have been fine. They're great places to be part of a community and meet friends from different backgrounds.

What languages do you speak?

English and a little Thai!

If you could choose anywhere in the world to go on a missions trip, where would you choose? What if it was just to visit?

It would be a blessing to be able to go on a missions trip somewhere in the Middle East. As for a trip, same answer!

What's your impression of the U.S.?

...This is a complicated answer. *awkwardly steps away from answering because we don't have time for all my thoughts*

Has your time in Thailand affected your fictional worlds at all?

I think so! I think it's made me understand the differences in culture, being able to live in two very different ones, and it's exposed me to the complexity of the world and beliefs. That's incredibly helpful when developing different fictional cultures.



Do you like makeup? 

I don't mind it, when I have energy I put on some mascara or even a little eyeshadow. If it takes me longer than five minutes to put it on though, I usually get annoyed.


Dream car? 

Anything that runs, honestly. xD

What does your dream day look like?

Going on a walk in cool weather through the bush (forest), going home and having a great writing session, then later a relaxing evening of reading and chocolate.

Dogs or cats?

Dogs! Some cats are all right, but dogs are so loyal, cuddly, and cute.

Do you listen to musicals? If so, do you have a favorite?

I do listen to some. Anastasia is my absolute favourite; the music, the characters, the emotion, ah!

Organized or messy?

Organised! (Mostly.)

If you could visit any fictional world what would it be?

The world of "The Gilded Wolves", for the same reasons as I praised it for above! Magic plus inventions plus decadence makes a world that would leave me in awe and wonder.

If you could see any book you want made into a movie what would it be?

"The Blood Race" by K.A. Emmons would make a fantastic movie in my opinion, as would its sequel "Worlds Beneath". There would be heart pounding action, crescendos of emotion, amazing visuals, and unforgettable characters. I'm waiting, film-makers.

Would you rather go camping, or stay in a hotel? 

Hotel. Camping and I are on cold terms.

If you could go back to any time period, which would it be?

Ancient Israel, or any time during when Jesus was alive. To be able to see Him, listen to His teachings... I can't tell you how amazing that would be. 

Would you rather live near the beach or mountains?

I love mountains; they're beautiful and powerful all at once. The beach has sand, of which I am not a fan.

Ebooks or paperbacks?

Paperbacks! I don't actually own any e-books, as my eyes hurt from reading on a screen for too long.

And now.... Drumroll please...


These last few weeks I've been tossing up between a giveaway and hosting a contest, or even doing both. Last year, on my first giveaway, unfortunately I had a lot of people enter who came solely for the giveaway and used bots, etc. to try and win. So it wasn't the greatest experience, and made it tricky deciding if the winner was a real person.

This year then, I thought I might try another way to show you all how much I appreciate you! I used your feedback on your preferred giveaway prize to help form the prizes for this. The contest is called "Catching the Horizon", and there are going to be prizes for the top three contestants.

Here's the official contest information:

How to enter: Submit one 300-500 word piece based around the theme "catching the horizon". It's not necessary to use this phrase, but you can if you wish. Once you've finished, email it in the body of your email to melissagravitis@gmail.com (So no attachments please!).

Rules: You can surpass or not meet the word limit by plus or minus ten percent, which means your work can be between 250 and 550 words. Your piece can be in any genre. The deadline for entry is the 4th of May 2019. Winners will be announced the following week.

Prizes: The top three pieces will be posted on a blog post, where the winners will also be announced. Winners will be contacted and receive these additional prizes:
First Place: Two books of their choice (up to a value of $40 AU and shipped from Book Depository)!
Second Place: One book of their choice (up to a value of $20 AU and shipped from Book Depository)!
Third Place: A $10 AU Amazon gift card!

I know there are lot of technicalities here, but I hope that you all have lots of fun with this, and I can't wait to read all of your entries! I also hope this is a better way to show you all how much I appreciate you coming to my tiny corner of the internet and commenting, sharing, and discussing all things writing and books with me. You're all the best, and you make blogging so much fun!

Quill Pen Writer wouldn't be the same without you, and here's hoping that one day we can catch the horizon together. <3


Thank you so much again for supporting me and the blog, it really means the world! Do you have any more questions for me? Will you be joining in the contest? 
Have a wonderful day and best of luck with your entry! <3