This Craziness. To try and wrap my head around everything that happened, would be like asking me to write a short novel -- i...

    This Craziness. To try and wrap my head around everything that happened, would be like asking me to write a short novel -- in other words, impossible. But! For the sake of summing up and reflecting on 2017, I shall attempt to.

    In my first ever Quill Pen Writer Yearly Wrap-Up, I'll be focusing on different aspects of my life, both online and offline. Otherwise, I'd probably go on an hour long ramble about nothing and everything! The post is still lengthy, so please bear with me. 

    To the wrap-up!

   This year wasn't the best reading year I've ever had, but it was still decent, and I have plenty of books I will be forever glad I read. It started off spectacularly with Gemina, then as schoolwork and life events started to pile up, I often had to prioritise my writing over reading. But! I did buy quite a lot of books. Here are some I bought/was gifted this year:

- Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
- Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
- Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine
- This Savage Song by V.E. Scwab
- Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
- The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill
- Captives by Jill Williamson
- Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
- White Wolf and the Ash Princess by Tammy Lash
- Violet Grenade by Victoria Scott

   And mmmmmmaaaaannnnnyyyyy more!

   Writing wise, 2017 was a rollercoaster. I started the year off sure I was in the final editing stages of Draped in Deception. I even went so far as to search for a critique partner for it, but the feedback I got in return, pushed me to realise that this manuscript needed to be put down. So I turned my attention to a first draft, called Golden Revenge

   After working hard through a second draft, as a result of random conversations and God's prompting, I established a friendship with my wonderful, wonderful critique partner. She's been such a brilliant human being and inspiration to me, and helped me push Golden Revenge a step further. Thanks, Liz. *tackle hugs you*

    About half-way through the year, I then became a part of a Facebook group chat for writers, thanks to Project Canvas and a few incredible individuals. They've helped me expand my worlds and explore my characters like never before. Thanks to all of you, too. *more hugs*

    Then November came, a.k.a. NaNoWriMo, where I wrote over 53K, and a little over half of Of Traitors and Tricksters. I'm still pushing through its first draft, but slowly, but surely, I'm getting there! Just before, and in the few weeks after NaNo, I completed the third draft of Golden Revenge, and started on the hunt for beta-readers. I'm still in the process of sending out chapter batches, but I can say for sure, I have an incredible bunch of betas!

    Throughout it all, I managed to write four short stories, a sequel novella for my critique partner's birthday (which she will likely murder me for), and brainstormed a writer's workbook. I have learned so much about myself and my writing this year, and I'm proud of all I've managed to achieve. Even if my writing life didn't go the way I anticipated this year, I don't mind. It's all stepping stones on a journey, after all!

    I've moved twice this year -- in January I moved from Thailand to Australia, and this week, I moved house. Can I say something? Moving internationally, in terms of stuff, is far, far easier. You only bring a few suitcases and boxes, and throw out or sell the rest. Simple. Moving in the same city, you have to lug everything around.

    Moving to an entirely different school, and adjusting to a new country, had its difficulties, but I was blessed with an amazing group of friends that helped me along the way. *additional hugs if you're reading this* Sadly there was no dance class at my new school, so I took initiative to keep it up in my own time -- it's a great relaxing strategy, exercise, and another way to tell stories as well! 

    From my first post of the year "How I Worldbuild" to my Merry Christmas post last week, 2017 has been my best blogging year yet. I made so many more blogging friends (thanks, everyone!), became part of the Rebellious Writing group, and saw my stats explode with my new series, Questions to Ask When...!

    Here are my favourite posts from 2017:
- Questions to Ask When Creating Characters - Backstory
- #Rebellious Writing - Where is the Light?
- 100th Post / My Writing Journey
- Who are They?
- The Comparison Trap

    The most popular posts from 2017 are:

- Questions to Ask When Creating Fictional Cities
- Questions to Ask When Creating Fictional Schools


    It was a jumble of highs and lows, and joys and stresses. 2017 was an adventure, to be sure! Here's to a wild year!

How would you describe your year in one word? What books are you glad joined your bookshelf this year? What craziness has happened in 2017 for you?
Happy New Year's!

    Hello everyone! I can hardly believe I'm saying this to you all again, but Merry Christmas ! I am so incredibly thankful to all of y...

    Hello everyone! I can hardly believe I'm saying this to you all again, but Merry Christmas! I am so incredibly thankful to all of you for supporting my little blog and my writing journey, more than I can ever say. You have changed me, and I can say for certain, this has been a positive change.

    There's no official post today, as I'm in the thick of moving house, but I really hope you have a restful and joyous holiday! I'll be fully back next week, for a Quill Pen Writer Yearly Wrap-Up. 

    Have a joyous time celebrating, and a Merry Christmas!

There are two things that terrify me: waiting for feedback on a story, and going back to look at old blog posts. What will I find? Some...

There are two things that terrify me: waiting for feedback on a story, and going back to look at old blog posts. What will I find? Something barely okay, or content that will make me cringe for eternity? So when the wonderful Victoria @ Wanderer's Pen tagged me to participate in this blog hop...I was nervous. (But thank you, Victoria!)

My content, image, and purpose for Quill Pen Wrier has shifted dramatically over the past (almost) two years. But before we peek at my first published post, here are the rules for the hop, originally started by Sarah:

  • No cheating. You must highlight your first post. Not your second post, not one you love… the first post only.
  • Link back to the person who tagged you (thank them if you feel like it or, if not, curse them with a plague of ladybugs).
  • Cut and paste your old post into a new post or reblog your own bad self. (Either way is fine, but NO editing.)
  • Put the hashtag #MyFirstPostRevisited in your title.
  • Tag five (5) other bloggers to take up this challenge.
  • Notify your tags in the comment section of their blog (don’t just hope they notice a pingback somewhere in their spam).
  • Feel free to cut and paste the badge to use in your post.
  • Include “the rules” in your post.
  • Completely silly rules that I’m making up as I type:
  • Write your post while wolfing down your favorite dessert.
  • Do 10 cartwheels after you hit “Publish.”

My first post, Stardust and Dreams, posted on the 10th of April, 2016:

  Sometimes a sentence will pop into your mind, and you can’t shake it off. It sticks like caramel, sickly sweet and quick to fasten to your teeth. The sentence is everywhere for a few days, and then it fades into the background. It’s a favourite doll set aside when its owner has grown up.

       All we are is stardust and dreams, latched onto my mind during a road trip through the Thai mountains a few months ago. 

I immediately scribbled it down. I could imagine a character hugging their knees, staring at the sky, world torn apart, saying the quote. It struck deep with what I thought was truth.

Not quite knee hugging, but you get the idea.

       I eventually forgot about it.

       But a few weeks ago, it rose from the watery depths of my creative brain, and I reconsidered it. I considered it for not only the characters we write, but ourselves, and I realized something.

We are more than stardust and dreams.

       We have strengths, weaknesses, flaws, quirks, goals, joys, dislikes, passions, families, and yes, dreams. But we are not dust stuffed with make-shift dreams and given hope one day we might accomplish them. We are creations of the Living God; we are his children.

       If we tell ourselves that we are not made of anything important, we are failing to see the story God is writing for us. He is the author of our story, and we are the fully dimensional characters.

       So if you think you are pieces of the heavens it didn’t want anymore, dropped and forgotten, take a deep breath. Look at every part of your heart and mind. There are emotions. There are thoughts. There are promises. There is God’s lingering touch, the message that says, I made you. I made you for a reason.

       God has never regretted making you, because you are more than stardust and dreams.

You are special.

My thoughts on the post: I actually completely forgot about this post! I had another one in mind, that I thought was my first, so I was surprised to see this was the one. It's definitely a reflection of a lot of my thoughts at the time. What's particularly interesting is I could underline sentences in the post, of specific thoughts or realisations that I clung onto in that part of my life.

My original plan for Quill Pen Writer was to have two posts a week, one inspirational, and one for writing advice. (Any guesses which one this is?) That eventually didn't pan out, and I took a different turn in the way I presented my thoughts and opinions. I feel that I wrote this post more for myself than anyone else, which makes it close to my heart.

I'm glad it didn't end up being one of my old cringy writing advice posts, haha! Now, because I want to see other blogger's first posts, I tag...

And here is the blog hop banner, if you wish to use it:

What are your thoughts on my first post? How has your writing style and content changed from your first blog post? Do you cringe, or smile, when you read your old writing?
Have a lovely day! <3

    As a teen, school is both fortunately and unfortunately a part of my everyday life. Sometimes I love it, other times (read: mostly) I gr...

    As a teen, school is both fortunately and unfortunately a part of my everyday life. Sometimes I love it, other times (read: mostly) I grumble and groan about it. So incorporating a school into a story doesn't exactly sound thrilling...but! The wonderful thing about imagination is being able to craft anything from it. 

   Whether your characters are in a public or private school, home-schooled, or being tutored (or in a fancy magical school) you can have fun with it! To help you out with creating a fictional school, I've compiled a list of questions to ask yourself:

1) Where is the school located? Is it in a busy, populated area, or isolated from the nearest town/city? Is it on a hill, and are floors staggered? Is it several stories high? How can students travel there?

2) How many classrooms are there? What do they look like? How are the desks arranged? Are there even desks, or do they use tables, or sit on the floor?

3) How are students arranged to sit? Are they allowed to choose their own seats, or do teachers decide their order? If the latter, how do teachers decide who sits where? Is it based on gender, age, friendship, or who won't get each other into trouble?

4) What kinds of tools are used to teach? Are there blackboards, whiteboards, or do they only use paper? Or do they use papyrus or clay? Do they use quills, pencils, pens, or styluses? Have they invented a writing system yet?

5) Who attends the school? Is it exclusive, or open to all? What are the requirements for attending it? Do students have to pass a kind of test in order to attend?

6) How many teachers and staff members are there? Are there any hierarchical rankings within staff? What are the different roles? Do the teachers need any form of qualification to teach? How are teachers selected?

7) Is there a school uniform? Does it differ for boys and girls? What do the students think about it? What does it look like? What does it feel and smell like?

8) What kinds of assessments are issued? Are they hand-in tasks, or all exams? A mix? How are these conducted? Are there any "special tests" that are considered a major school-ing life milestone? When are these taken? Are they life-threatening, or strictly pen and paper?

9) How many years/grades/levels are offered? Is it possible to repeat them if a student fails? 

10) What classes are offered? Are there any classes specific to the year/grade/level? Are any classes exclusive to certain students? Can students choose which ones they wish to take, or is it decided by the school?

11) What form of discipline is there? Are teachers allowed to hit their students? Or is discipline non-physical, such as detentions, discussing with parents, etc.?

12) When was the school built? Is it obvious that it's old/new? Have any shocking historical events occurred? Has it ever been set fire to or vandalized?

13) Is there a sense of community at the school? Do students and staff take pride in it, or do they simply not care? What is the school's reputation? Do parents strive to enroll their child in the school, or is it a last resort?

14) Are there any celebrations, traditions, or events specific to the school? How did this come about? Is it looked forward to, or dreaded? Do these involve sport? Are sports popular?

15) Is there any sense of hierarchy between groups of students or years/grades/levels? Are there clear divisions between groups of friends? Are there students who are isolated from the others, or those who move from group to group? Is it considered a betrayal to belong to multiple groups?

16) Who funds the school? The government? Fees parents pay? Does this ever influence what the students do, learn, or say at the school, or is it not a concern at all?

17) Who sets the school curriculum? Is there a city-wide, regional, national, or international standard they follow? Will this influence students' job opportunities? Or do teachers decide what to teach on their own?

18) What is the school's logo? What are its colours? What meaning do these carry? What is its mission/vission? 

19) Are there any rival schools? What is their rivalry based on: academics, sports, something else? Have students ever come to physical blows, or is it more verbal, or eyes made at each other? Something else?

20) Is it a boarding school or day-school only? If a boarding school, which teachers are in charge of the students out of classroom hours? What special rooms or activities are provided?

                      More in the Questions to Ask When series...

       Religion // Cities // Magic // History // Celebrations // Backstory // 
                                       Character Interview //

Have you ever written, or plan on writing, a fictional school? How is your writing going in the aftermath of NaNo? Any post suggestions for this series?
Good luck world-building, and have a brilliant day! <3

    After I finished climbing the mountain that is NaNo, right after I hit the top, I turned around and looked at the path I took. The place...

    After I finished climbing the mountain that is NaNo, right after I hit the top, I turned around and looked at the path I took. The places I fell, where I rested, where I nearly ran up its side. I think reflection is important. How else will we recognise and celebrate how far we've come, the obstacles we've overcome?

    So today to reflect on my wild experience with National Novel Writing Month this November, here are five things I learned about myself and my writing process.

1) I Work Well With Deadlines

Having a daily as well as a monthly goal pushed me to go further than I have in a long time. The visual aid of stats made me itch to push the bar up, and make sure it always stayed above the minimum needed. My aim was always to finish a few days earlier, and I did! This is the first time I've finished early for NaNoWriMo, so I hope to be able to keep up the pattern next year.

2) Words Wars are Great

In my first few days, when I was able to war all afternoon, I pumped out a huge amount of words for me. Word wars kept me from becoming distracted, instead focusing my mind on the story and my keyboard, nothing else. Encouraging competition can be helpful!

3) Prioritise, Prioritise, Prioritise (Yes, I spelled that right, I promise)

Some days I felt as if the weight of studying, homework, research for school, life, blogging, and writing, would crush me. But I took a deep breath, and prioritised. If I was already ahead that day with writing, I let myself focus more on another area. Or if I had a more flexible schedule, I tried to write as much as I could.

If I hadn't, I probably would have drowned in stress. So yay for NaNo for helping me sharpen my prioritising skills!

4) I Love More than Two POVs

I had plans to only have two POVs in my novel, but my characters and my brain had other ideas for me. A couple chapters in, a new character demanded the spotlight. Then another. And now like in almost all of the stories I'm serious about writing, there are four POVs. 

There is something about a complex plot and showing different sides of a narrative that draws me in. As for why four? Perhaps it's my magic number.

5) Outlining Can Be Helpful

I wrote the heading with a slight wince, because I am a declared pantser (most of the time). But I actually, by some strange turn of events, plotted out my beginning scenes. I flew through them. It helped me knock out the first couple thousand words, and get ahead of my wordcount goal, something that helped me out on busier days.

BUT I've also found out a lot of character secrets and plot twists by not plotting out of the middle, even though being clueless of what will happen next has slowed me down. I suspect I'll be doing a mix of plotting and pantsing from now on.

What did you learn this month, either from NaNo, or from life and writing in general? Do you plot? Do you enjoy word wars or do you steer clear?
Good luck with your writing, and have a great day! <3

    I am so so SO excited to introduce you all to AnnMarie Pavese! Not only is she a fabulous writer who draws you into worlds crafted with ...

    I am so so SO excited to introduce you all to AnnMarie Pavese! Not only is she a fabulous writer who draws you into worlds crafted with perfect attention to detail, and creates extraordinarily vibrant characters, but she's also a sweetheart! I have her to thank for helping guide me deeper into the writing community.

    In celebration of her debut novel, So Sang the Dawn, that has been released today (24th of November, available for sale on her website!) I'm going to be interviewing her. But first! Here's a little bit about AnnMarie!

AnnMarie Pavese lives in the mountains of Arizona, which were a huge inspiration in the creation of Frostholm. A former waitress and web designer, she unashamedly skipped college in order to pursue writing full-time. She spends her days writing, dog-momming, and mentoring other girls as they pursue their own writing dreams. She is obsessed with the woods and the cold and always writes best when it's raining or snowing.

Website -- Facebook -- Instagram -- Twitter

And this is the wonderful back-cover copy to So Sang the Dawn:

Seventeen-year-old Aurora Ballern has never had quite a normal life. As an orphaned ward of the state, she’s been sent to live out her existence at the city’s most prestigious boarding school while waiting to be adopted. The only family she’s ever known is her best friend and boarding school roommate, Raine Fording. As the two girls approach their final year of school, they find themselves longing more and more for escape from the confining walls of the academy, but when escape comes in the form of a kidnapping, everything they’ve ever known changes in an instant.

They wake to find themselves captives in the strange and somehow intriguing land of Frostholm, a mountainous region of vast forests and continual snow, completely undiscovered by the rest of the world. The warlord responsible for their capture is ruthless and unwavering in his demands that Aurora become a warrior and take lives for his kingdom, on the grounds that if she refuses, Raine will pay the ultimate price.

While in captivity, Aurora and Raine strive to cling to their unfaltering devotion to one another, though eventually, the lines between love and survival begin to blur, and their sacrifices become much steeper than they ever thought possible. Even in the midst of their greatest darkness, they’ll discover that hope can always be found, and that though the pain of night seems endless, the light of dawn will always return.

Now for the interview! I'll be bold, and AnnMarie will be the one giving the lovely, thought-provoking answers.

When did you first tell yourself ‘I’m going to be a writer’?

Honestly, I didn’t decide that I wanted to be an official writer until about two years into writing So Sang The Dawn. When I began writing, I was doing it for me, and so that I could find myself and find healing. It wasn’t until after working on Dawn every single day for two years that I started to entertain the thought that I could possibly share my gift with the world.

Who was your early writing inspiration, and who is your current one?

C.S. Lewis was probably one of the most major of inspirations for So Sang The Dawn and my writing in general, especially The Chronicles of Narnia. I remembered being so enraptured with his world of Narnia, and the battling kingdoms and the beautiful landscapes, and the personality depth of Aslan and Jadis and the Pevensies and all the other characters, and I just remember longing to figure out how I could pass those gifts on to other people.

My current inspiration comes from all over the place, but I have to say that I probably draw the most inspiration from other indie authors. There’s something about reading another indie’s work that just makes me feel really connected to the author themselves, whether or not I know them in person, and it’s so neat to see the similarities and differences between our worlds and characters.

What or who inspired ‘So Sang the Dawn’?

That’s definitely a loaded question! Without getting too lengthy, it was my own battle to keep searching for the light in the midst of the worst of darknesses that inspired the story of So Sang The Dawn. In the book, Aurora and Raine go through a lot of hard moments, where they feel hopeless and want to give in. But there’s always glimpses of light and hope to keep pulling them forward, and even writing those encouragements for them was a huge encouragement to me in real life.

On another note, the setting for So Sang The Dawn was definitely inspired by my love for rain and snow, and my affinity for wildlife and the woods. My home in the mountains of Arizona was a huge inspiration for some of the places that Aurora and Raine find themselves in the book.

What’s been the hardest part of writing for you? The easiest?

The hardest part in the beginning was finding my voice. If you’re a writer, you know right away what I’m talking about. It’s that specific style that an author writes in, their tone and their manner, which can be lengthy and poetic like the Classics, or it can be short and choppy with details and descriptions being few and far between.

It took me a lot of years before I really discovered where my own voice fell, and where I wanted it to fall. I love my writer’s voice now, and it’s now turned from the hardest part of writing to the easiest, because it comes so flawlessly to me which makes writing so much more enjoyable.

How has your faith come into your book?

My faith has definitely been a major part of Dawn, and was a huge inspiration in forming the storyline itself. I actually set out from the beginning to make So Sang The Dawn an allegory, similar to The Chronicles of Narnia. I wanted to give people something adventurous and dramatic and thrilling to read, but also give them something that was encouraging them between the lines and breathing hope into them, whether they realized it was happening or not. I really wanted it to be a story that changed with each reader; I wanted each person to be impacted by something different, rather than just following one, cemented message that you would have to feel, or not enjoy the story at all.

Which character reflects you the most, and which is your favourite? (Shhhhh, it’s possible!)

There’s a lot of me in my characters, even in the ones you wouldn’t expect. Unquestionably, the ones who reflect me the most would be the main characters, Aurora and Raine. I definitely poured my heart and soul into those girls to bring them to life.

As far as side characters go, my favorite is one you definitely wouldn’t expect. It’s a girl named Aara who comes into the story about halfway through, and she’s hardened to the world and is under the impression that compassion is a weakness. She’s really tough on Aurora, and though her indifference seems to come into play at a really bad time for Aurora, it’s also the thing that lights a fire under her to pick herself up and keep going.

If you could describe your writing journey in one word, what it would be?

Incredible. Writing is definitely a journey, and you never know what kinds of things you’ll discover about yourself as you go. I would absolutely be a completely different girl if I had never chosen to start writing.

If you could alter any part of your journey, would you? Why or why not?

I think the only thing I would change would be to go back and make myself connect with other writers a lot sooner than I did. I wrote by myself for a lot of years, and while it was very healing, it was also very lonely on a lot of days. Writing is such a different experience now that I’m connected with other authors and have someone to share my struggles and triumphs with.

Other than that, I don’t think I would change my journey at all. Some parts were hard and frustrating, and there were some really rough days where I thought I would just give it up completely, but I think the way my journey happened is what made me who I am, and made Dawn the story that it is.

Would you rather spend a day as your protagonist, or a day as your antagonist?

Now that’s a hard question. I actually don’t hate my antagonist (though you probably will once you meet him). Truthfully, I really respect him and his character as a whole — maybe that’s just because I know his full backstory and understand what made him the person he is. That being said, I really wouldn’t want to live as him. On the other hand, I would hate to be Aurora or Raine, and have to deal with all the things he puts them through. I don’t know… tough question!

What advice/encouragement would you give to other writers?

I actually spend a great deal of hours during the day mentoring other girls, not just with writing, but with their lives themselves. I love every part of it. One of my favorite things to tell them is to just let go and write. Don’t worry about prose or tense or character arcs or worldbuilding. There’s always time to go back later and add those things. But if you just pour yourself onto the page and write what you want to write, and not what you think others want you to write, your story will be drastically more vibrant than you ever thought possible.

Thank you for all your wisdom, and for sharing about your world and characters with us, AnnMarie!

Thoughts on AnnMarie's advice? How does So Sang the Dawn sound to you? How would you describe your writing journey in one word?
Please thank AnnMarie for coming over as well, and I hope you have a fantastic day! <3

    A very strange, highly unusual thing has happened. No, I am not discussing the fact that the weather forecast said heavy rain, and there...

    A very strange, highly unusual thing has happened. No, I am not discussing the fact that the weather forecast said heavy rain, and there's sunshine. I'm talking about how I am actually *gasp* ahead for NaNo! In between the writing frenzy, some other things are happening as well, and so what do I have for you today?

   Another Am Currently!

    I recently cracked open This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab and goodness, I was blown away. Though some parts of it I was unsure of, the story carried me along and ripped the breath from me. It's been my reading highlight of the year so far! I also read Violent Grenade by Victoria Scott (seems to be a Victoria month) which was...interesting! In a good but slightly--make that very--creepy way?

    I'm very eager to start reading my signed copy of White Wolf and the Ash Princess by my friend Tammy Lash, and get my hands on a copy of So Sang the Dawn by another lovely friend, AnnMarie Pavese. So many exciting books coming out!

    NaNo has been the perfect opportunity to start my first draft of Of Traitors of Tricksters! I am currently sitting a little over 35K, and my characters are both making me want to strangle and hug them at the same time. It seems like at the moment OTAT will be another standalone, which I'm happy about! (All my attempts at series have...gone downhill, let's say that). Hopefully by mid-December I'll have finished its first draft.

   In other news, I've been brainstorming for the workbook based on my Questions to Ask When... series. I'm unsure whether I'll charge for it at this point, so if you have any thoughts on that, let me know!

   Meanwhile, I've been playing with a short novella taking place in the events after Golden Revenge, while doing some line editing of the latter. Golden Revenge will be making its way to beta-readers in less than two weeks! Ahhhh!

    I'm on a band kick at the moment, and I have to say, if you don't know For King & Country or Cimorelli, please go check out their music! For King & Country have a masculine yet heartfelt sound, and the Cimorelli sisters have voices that blend perfectly.

Recommended songs:
For King & Country
- Priceless
- Fix My Eyes
- To the Dreamers

- Pretty Pink
- Fall Back
- Never Let Me Fall

    Tired after a long week of school and NaNo, and looking forward to the weekend. I seem to have been able to balance writing and school this week, though with a slew of assessment tasks, I'm worried about reaching my wordcount. But! I will keep reminding myself NaNo is about writing something and being a part of the community, not about winning.

How has your month been so far? What are you reading? Any band suggestions for me? How are you? (Sorry for being quiet on the blogosphere! I hope to catch up on all your lovely posts soon!)
Have a fantastic day! <3 

    I must have written several dozen introductions to this post, usually along the lines of how chaotic yet fun NaNo is, but none of them ...

    I must have written several dozen introductions to this post, usually along the lines of how chaotic yet fun NaNo is, but none of them sounded right. So what am I doing? Writing an introduction about how I can't write an introduction. Perfect.

    Anyway, today I'm linking up with part two of Beautiful Books, which is hosted by the lovely Cait and Sky. The aim of this month's is to share how your writing is going, so let's get to it!

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

Typing this up, my brain is fairly calm for once. Most likely this is because I actually slept a decent amount of hours last night. As for my novel...dare I say it...pretty well? It's thrown plenty of plot twists and new POVs my way, but I've been scooping them up and carrying on. 

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

Well, I believe I've shared the first sentence before, but since you asked, here are the very first draft-y beginning paragraphs (because I am a rebel):

“The execution papers are all in order.” The guard’s voice carried out from the darkness, and wrapped its ember fingers around Bakari’s chest.

Beside the guard, Prince Raad sneered as he gazed into the cell. “Of course they are. Who would object with tearing out the heart of a prince killer?”

Bakari pressed his back into the corner of the the cell’s rough brick walls. His fingers fumbled to grasp the beetle amulet lying on his bare chest. Blessed Tayi, please, save me. I have no offering for you other than my life. Spare it, and it shall be yours. I swear it on your everlasting power.

“Open the door,” Prince Raad ordered the guard.

The guard undid the door’s heavy bolt. “Honoured One, he must be alive for the ceremony.”

“He will be.” The prince stepped inside. “Just.”

3) Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

Agh, such a hard question! I love bits and pieces of different characters, but I have to say Bakari. Mainly because I am being horrible to him and feel guilty, and also because...SPOILERS.

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

I'm having fun (read: lots of pain and frustrated brainstorming) with the mystery element to the story. Which consists of me trying to figure out what on earth actually happened, who is lying, and so on. Playing with the Ancient Egyptian inspired world is exciting too!

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

I tend to fix up my typos as they go, so sadly, I don't have any to share.

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

I have a special fondness for the exact middle of my books? Because that is usually where I have no idea what to write, so a plot twist slams into the story-world, and everything spins into chaos.

What are you talking about? I'm a kind author.

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

Snacks aren't my thing, but music is! I hop onto Spotify and listen to whatever songs come up--I don't have any specific playlists... But! If you want to listen to the theme song of OTAT, listen to this song:

8) How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?

I am very private on my offline life, and even online I only share the novel's happenings on my blog, and occasionally on Twitter. But usually my critique partner pulls snippets out of me with no mercy. *glares, then hugs*

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

Once I start a story, one that I believe in as much as I do in this one, I won't stop. I will finish the first draft. I have to. So even if I feel like my words are cliche, or the plot is sagging, I keep surging onward.

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

I shared most of them in last week's post, but I'll be original and throw some new ones your way:

#1- Sit down. And write.
#2 - If you think your first draft is perfect, be worried. It's not supposed to be.
#3 - To write an effective antagonist, pity and fear them at the same time.

How is YOUR writing going? Who is your favourite character? What keeps you writing?
Good luck with your story, and have a fantastic day! <3