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