You might have noticed something a little bit different clicking on this post today. Don't worry, you're still with Melissa and ...

    You might have noticed something a little bit different clicking on this post today. Don't worry, you're still with Melissa and on Quill Pen Writer! I've been considering a blog look change for a number of months, and a few days ago I finally had the time to sit down and make the changes. 

    The biggest difference is on my home page, with a header I spent (three) hours on, making sure it fit properly for both laptop and mobile. I really hope you enjoy the crisp, simple layout of my blog now! If there are any glitches or you're struggling to find something, please let me know!

    Thank you all for being here for this exciting time for Quill Pen Writer!

    Now, onto the Liebster Award! I am absolutely honoured to be nominated by my lovely friend Rebekah DeVall over at her blog. Go check it out, I'll be here waiting!
    In accordance with the award, I'm to share with you my favourite blog. Goodness, choosing is ridiculously hard. Since I love each and every one of your blogs for different reasons, I'm going to choose a blog not run by any of my lovely followers.

    It's a tie between Go Teen Writers and Well-Storied! 

    Go Teen Writers is a fantastic blog for teenage writers, and it was this blog that really helped me kick-start my writing journey. I read through all their posts ravenously, drinking the wealth of knowledge the three ladies who run it shared. From tips on publishing, to scene construction, to characters, to world-building Go Teen Writers is an excellent source for all writers, amateurs or not!

    I didn't discover Well-Storied until a little bit later, but I love how Kristen Kieffer digs deep into writing topics and doesn't skim over the top. Recently she has published a super useful series on the pros and cons of traditional publishing, and of self-publishing. If you want to take your writing down those routes, make sure to check them out!

    Now, I'm supposed to nominate between 5 and 11 bloggers I feel deserve the award. Here are the nominees! (If you've already been nominated, no worries!):

    If you've been nominated, here are the rules!

  1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog. Try to include a little promotion for the person who nominated you. They will thank you for it and those who you nominate will also help you out as well.
  2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”.
  3. Write a 150-300 word post about your favorite blog that is not your own. Explain why you like the blog, provide links.
  4. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 200 followers.
  5. List these rules in your post
  6. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post. (They might not have ever heard of it!)
  7. Post a comment in the comments of –> the award post <– so your post and blog can be viewed.
What are your thoughts on the new blog look? Do you plan on changing your blog's look sometime soon, or are you happy with the way it is? What are your favourite blogs?
Have a wonderful day! <3

    Hello everyone, and welcome back to the blog series "Questions to Ask When..."!  If you're new here, this series is meant ...

    Hello everyone, and welcome back to the blog series "Questions to Ask When..."! If you're new here, this series is meant to give you questions that can help you develop aspects of your story, especially world-building. These posts have been so much fun to work on, and I can honestly say that writing out today's post has helped me come up with a new story idea I am itching to write! 

    If you're interested in the other posts, I've also compiled a list of questions for developing histories, cities, magic, and religion. Today due to the number of questions I won't be providing examples, but I hope you enjoy it just the same!

1) What is its name? What is this name derived from; a person, a place, a historical event?

2) What is the purpose of the celebration? To have fun, honour a god or person, or mark the passage of time?

3) When is it held? Does it follow patterns of the moon or sun, or the solstices, or is it marked by a calendar date? Are the main festivities during the day, night, evening, morning?

4) Where is it held? Is it celebrated by individuals in their own homes, out in public on the streets of every city, or in a particular city? 

5) What is the "main event" of the celebration? A public performance, a gift-giving ceremony, a re-enactment of a story or historical event, something else?

6) Who is it celebrated with? Do relatives travel long distances to gather as a whole family, or is it a private affair between a few people? Is the focus on celebrating with friends or families?

7) How rowdy do the celebrations get? Is it a solemn, calm affair, or do fights and laughter rumble everywhere?

8) What ceremonies does it involve? How long do these go for, and are they considered worthwhile, or something people have to suffer through for the sake of tradition?

9) What are the roots of this celebration? Is it a way to remember an important historical or religious event, or simply an excuse to have fun?

10) Does anyone have to work during the celebration? If so, do they get paid, and how do they feel about being forced to work? How does this alter their perception of their status, and those above them?

11) Is there any food that is only eaten during this celebration? Are there any kinds of food they cannot eat? Do people look forward to eating/not eating this food?

12) Is there any special kind of drink for the celebration, or is it all the usual kind? Is this a "drinking holiday" or is alcohol not permitted?

13) What are the religious institutions' opinions of this celebration? Do they urge everyone's involvement or do they advise members of their religion not to participate?

14) Does anyone hate the celebration? If so, why? Does it celebrate an event that caused misery for their people group, or promote ideologies they don't believe in? Is there any punishment, whether political or social, for choosing not to be involved?

15) What attire is required for the celebration? Does everyone wear everyday clothes, or special garments specifically designed for the occasion? Are there any accessories that are commonly seen worn in public, such as flower crowns or masks?

16) Can children participate in the celebration, or is it adults only? Are any ceremonies modified so they can be involved?

17) Are animals involved in this celebration? Are they killed for a feast, or released into the wild as a sign of peace with the natural world?

18) What is its length of time? A day, a week, a month?

19) Is there a need for a guard or police force during the celebration? Is it likely there will be illegal dealings or attacks happening during the celebration which they need to look out for?

20) Is it likely that this celebration will continue to be celebrated forever, or are people slowly losing interest in it and its meaning? What will it take for it to stop, or to keep being celebrating?

 What is your favourite fictional celebration? Do you find this blog series helpful? Any topics you'd like me to focus the next of the series on?
Have a wonderful day, and good luck with your writing! <3

    I've had the pleasure of beta-reading or critiquing various novels, or parts of them, as well as short stories. And you know what? I...

    I've had the pleasure of beta-reading or critiquing various novels, or parts of them, as well as short stories. And you know what? It's amazing. With every single new piece I read my admiration for the writing community grows. It takes so much courage to share your work with someone, let alone be open to comments and critique.

    Though beta-reading can take up some time, it's thrilling to be able to read fresh and original work from your writing friends. While the writer benefits massively from beta-readers, beta-readers gain a lot too!

    Today I'll be outlining five reasons why you might consider helping a writer out by beta-reading!

1) Free book(s)!!!

    This one is fairly self-explanatory. If you're like the stereotypical bookworm/bookdragon and always complain about never having enough money to buy books, then here's your answer: beta-reading. It can be a toss-up sometimes on whether you'll get a more polished or a rougher draft, but the only thing you have to pay with is time and energy. Your wallet will thank you!

2) See Strengths and Weaknesses in Your Own Writing

   Have you ever heard someone say that in order to write, you must read? This is great wisdom, and I think it applies beyond polished, published books. When you beta-read, you're exposed to stories in a raw state. You get to see both their flaws and strengths, and in doing so, see them in your own writing.

   Maybe the story you're beta-reading has excellent characters with so much depth it's awe-worthy. Or maybe it's lacking a little bit in tension that carries the plot along. Or maybe the world-building is fantastic, and sprinkled with little details that make the world come alive. Either way, seeing these strengths and weaknesses when I beta-read always makes me reflect back on my own writing. Do my characters have this much depth? Do I have enough tension? How is my world-building?

3) Understand a Writer's Voice

    I used to think I didn't have a voice, or it was so subtle I couldn't find it in my own work. Upon reading the stories by writers also at similar places on their writing journey, I was awe-struck. I saw how different every writer's voice is; how it permeates every sentence, every word choice, every choice of punctuation. 

    Don't believe you have a voice? Beta-read, and see that yes, you do.

4) Be a Part of Someone's Journey

    This is one of my favourite aspects of beta-reading and critiquing. You are there to help a writer strengthen their story, talk about it from a fresh point-of-view, and offer assistance in any way you can. How awesome is it that you get to be part of a story that will (most likely!) become a published novel some day? Ultimately the writer is in charge of making decisions and writing, but you can take satisfaction in knowing you were there to offer a hand when they needed it.

5) Show Some Love!

    As much as feedback and critique is vital, a little encouragement can go a long way. You never know when a writer might flip through your comments on a rough day and see some positivity that will lift their spirits. Writing is a hard gig, and as writers we always crave positive feedback. Beta-reading enables you to encourage a writer on their hard journey, and help them make their story the best it can be.

Have you ever beta-read? If yes, do you think it's helped you improve as a writer? If not, I hope you'll consider beta-reading for a writer in need some time! Have you ever had beta-readers before, and are they a great encouragement to you?
Have a beautiful day, and good luck with your writing! <3

    Sometimes there are no words. Sometimes you stare at your screen or notebook, and they refuse to come. Your mind is a wasteland of ideas...

    Sometimes there are no words. Sometimes you stare at your screen or notebook, and they refuse to come. Your mind is a wasteland of ideas. Only lonely letters and half formed syllables whisper across on the wind, picking up dust as they go. 

    I admit, the words aren't coming to me right now. I have stories, blog posts to work on but...I stare at the blinking cursor and wonder what I'm doing wrong. Life is tiring me out right now; maybe that's the cause. I am dry, parched. I think I burned too hard, too fast, and now my inferno has become the slightest flicker.

    I am empty.

    Maybe you feel this way now too, or have in the past. You feel hollowed out; you know something is missing inside you, but you can't figure out what.

    My problem is I throw everything into a project, task, or story. I do it to my absolute best, as quickly as I can. But when you keep saying "yes" to all the offers people make you, or tasks they ask you to do... It can be very, very overwhelming. And when I think I can just keep pushing through until I get to the end of my responsibilities, I freeze.

    My words freeze.

    I spend so much time focusing on what I have to do, that I neglect what I need to do. Expressing myself creatively falls in the need section, life and other responsibilities in the have to do section.

   That's not to say that I hate everything that I have to do. But when my mind is full to the brim with to-do lists and deadlines, my burning desire to create stays the same, but my mind has no room to think outside of lists.

   So where am I going with this?

  You are not alone.

   You're not alone. You're not alone if you have periods when you feel like you can't write, when your thoughts are consumed by a tornado of to-dos and have-tos. We all go through phases of burn-outs. It's, to be honest, natural. It would be impossible to keep going and going and going and going without a rest, wouldn't it?

   At times we need to stop. We might feel dry as the Sahara Desert, but consider this stopping time an opportunity to recharge yourself. Among the busyness spend time with family, with friends, doing things that relax you THAT ARE NOT WRITING. I cannot stress that enough.

   You can take a break.

   I don't expect you to operate at one hundred percent all the time. So don't expect yourself to. Your creative muse needs holidays, time to soak in the world around it and experience life. After all, you can't write if you don't have any means to gather inspiration, right?

   The words don't have to come straight away. Smash out that to-do list as much as you can, then come back to your creations and ease back into it. Maybe do a little drawing, or some singing. Read a few books. Slowly submerge yourself back into the world of creativity, and there, waiting for you, will be your words.

   They won't leave you forever.

Are words coming to you right now? Have you ever gone through burn-out phases? What do you do to get out of them? How busy are you at the moment? (I apologize for my half-coherent post. I'm a bit of a busy mess, really.)
Have a lovely day, and good luck with your words! <3

     Hello everyone, and welcome back to another Am Currently post! It's been awhile since I've done one of these, isn't it? In ...

     Hello everyone, and welcome back to another Am Currently post! It's been awhile since I've done one of these, isn't it? In case you didn't exist back in the dinosaur period when I posted my last Am Currently (joking...maybe), this is where I share my latest reads, writing projects, beloved music, etc.!

    We've got a lot of ground to cover today, so let's get on with it!

    I am horrible at keeping record of which books I read when, but I believe I've read the following since the last post: The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill (an intriguing read!), Captives by Jill Williamson (amazing series!), and a couple others I'm honestly too lazy to name.

    As for my current read, that would be a bit of an unusual one! When I went to UTS's (University of Technology Sydney) Open Day to scout out their Creative Writing degree, I was given a free anthology! It's titled The Evening Lands, and all the work is by their students. I'm really enjoying it! It makes a nice change to be exposed to all kinds of writing styles and voices, and get a bit of variety from my novel-heavy diet.

    In addition to that, I'm about halfway through Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. Though it is a bit slow paced for me, the premise is enticing me to read through to the end.

      Here's where we get to the longest part! Soooo many crazy things have happened writing wise, from becoming part of the Rebellious Writing team (I'll be posting over there later this month!), to sending out lots of chapters of Golden Revenge to my amazingly talented critique partner, to world-building for my NaNo novel, Of Traitors and Tricksters. I also started developing a fantasy language for a plot bunny that has been tugging at my attention recently. (Sssh no, I won't tell you what it is. It's a secret for now.)

     There's also some exciting news regarding Project Canvas! If you're a writer, they are now open to submissions for articles on their new blog. Since you lot are so skilled at writing, I'm sure you'd have no trouble whipping up a tips or writing inspiration article, if you so choose! 

     Anyway, back to Golden Revenge. This YA fantasy and partial gender-bent retelling of King Midas truly is my darling at the moment. I believe in a few months it will have its second birthday! The last few months I've been intensely editing it, tweaking, adding and subtracting name it, I've probably done it. 

     The reason I mention this? I'd like to put out a tentative question: would you be interested in being a beta-reader? I'm hoping to send it out sometime in December and allow around two months for reading it. So if you'd be interested or want to know more? Let me know in the comments, and we can chat!

     Just for you, here's a super brief snippet from Golden Revenge:

"I don’t train people to kill. I train people to become fighters. To stand up for the truth, for the light, for themselves."

     I've been listening to a mix of songs recently, some with haunting melodies such as "Far Across the Land" by Eurielle and Ryan Louder, as per Anna's suggestion, and others like my old-time favourite, NF. NF has recently announced he is releasing a new album soon! I'm soooo excited! If you haven't checked out any of his songs, I suggest "Can You Hold Me", "Real", "Mansion" and "How Could You Leave Us".

    Tired, in all honesty. It's a few weeks until the end of my school year, so of course that means yearlies (final exams for all you lovely Americans). For every, single, subject. *sigh* Apart from that, I'm excited by my progress on Golden Revenge and the other WIPs! Hopefully in my upcoming holidays I'll be able to do a crazy amount of reading and writing!

Let's chat about you! What are you reading? How is your writing going? Any song suggestions for me? (Would you be potentially interested in being a beta-reader?)
Good luck with your writing, and have a fantastic day! <3