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.

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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

    The second I heard the phrase, it didn't jump out at me. Rather, it slipped into my subconscious; there, but not obvious. Slowly, ev...

    The second I heard the phrase, it didn't jump out at me. Rather, it slipped into my subconscious; there, but not obvious. Slowly, ever so slowly, it made the journey into my thoughts.

    I wish I remember which writer said it.

    But I don't, so here is the phrase in all its glory: Keep your eyes on your own page.

    As artists, it's natural to compare. Usually we compare ourselves to others, and that's when we get sucked into the comparison trap. It's not pleasant. It's not fun. At all. I myself fall into it too many times to count on both fingers and toes. I tumble into it, slowly pick myself up, carry on, then trip and fall. Again. And again.

    Word warring for NaNo the other day, it nearly happened.

    I thought I had written a lot. On the Facebook chat I proudly typed out my wordcount at the end of a word warring session, complete with a smiley face. It was a huge amount of words for me in twenty minutes!

    Someone else tripled my wordcount.

    First, my eyes bulged. Then I may or may not have gasped a little bit.

    And then, I started falling.

    How come I can't write as fast as them? Am I horrible writer? I'm a horrible writer. I'll never be able to complete NaNo at this rate. I should just quit. I should--

   Keep your eyes on your own page.

   The phrase hit me out of nowhere. But I have never been more grateful for my subconscious which prodded it into my direction. The wisdom in the sentence is overflowing for anyone, but especially writers.

   There will always be someone in front of you, someone beside you, and someone behind you.

   In such a time as NaNo, or during any writing session, or a chat with writing friends, it can be easy to peek over at others' pages. It can be tempting to check where they're up to, what their wordcount is, how many people are liking their posts, and how many are commenting how amazing their story is.

   "I'm just checking," you say.

   No, you're not. You're looking for the person behind you. Most of the time, the writer whose page you're peering at, will be in front of you. So you start doubting. You fall into the comparison trap. You forget about your own page and wallow in self-pity and worries.

   Here are three truths I want you to remember:

    I could unpack each truth for years, but I'm going to leave them as they are. You know what they mean at their heart; you don't need me to explain their every nook and cranny. You know they're true.

   You just needed a little reminder.

Do you struggle to keep your eyes on your own page? Have you fallen into the comparison trap lately? Whether you are or aren't doing NaNo, how is your writing going?
Believe in yourself, and have a wonderful day! <3