I have one question for you all: how is it the end of 2018 already??? I feel like it just started, but also has gone on a long time, if that...

I have one question for you all: how is it the end of 2018 already??? I feel like it just started, but also has gone on a long time, if that makes any sense. Time is a strange thing. In all honesty, this has been one of my busiest years ever, with lots of life changes wrapped up in a slew of reading and writing. Because so much has happened, I thought it was time for a wrap up of 2018!

But rather than me rambling about all that happened, let's try and have some structure, shall we?

This was the first year I took part in the Goodreads reading challenge, and I'm so excited to say I won!! My goal was to read 35 books (not sure where that number came from, but anyway) and at the moment I'm at 42! There were some brilliant reads this year, and some not so great ones. I had A LOT of 5 star reads, probably more than ever, which made it an amazing year!

5 Star Reads:

Best Fiction
So Sang the Dawn by AnneMarie Pavese: heartwrenching, deep worlds, message of light and hope, you WILL cry.

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo: moody, magical, and darkly whimsical takes on the classics, with mouthwatering illustrations.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black: intriguing characters, spying, magic, and faeries!

A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews: tugging on the heartstrings, music and madness, exploring pain and family.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen: sweet, brushed with wit and charm.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: read it for the first time, and wow! Raw yet powerful.

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes: engaging, fresh take on magic, a fun twist on history with inspiring characters.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows: hilarious, bizarrely fun, and full of characters you'll remember.

Best Non-Fiction
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis: thought provoking, challenging, a must read for those looking to delve deeper into the Christian faith, or those who want to challenge it.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis: cuts right into the soul in a good and challenging way, an uncomfortable at times yet necessary read.

Best Series

The Kinsman Chronicles by Jill Williamson! It has some of the best worldbuilding I've ever read, delves into the human heart admist a world that's ending, and has characters that your heart will follow across worlds.

I'm happy with how Quill Pen Writer has been going this last little while, considering that I've struggled to maintain being online much because of...well, life. We're growing! I'm hoping to do a renovation of my look over the next few weeks, so keep an eye out for that when I do! 

Most Popular Posts:

Questions to Ask When Creating Fictional Monarchies

Questions to Ask When Creating Fictional Ethnicities

10 Character and WorldBuilding Prompts

Why I Won't Self Publish

Pros and Cons of Multiple POVS

My Favourite Posts:

To Be a Writer

For Us - An Easter Poem

Most of this year has been spent writing and editing two major projects: Golden Revenge, and its companion novel, Silver Storm. While I waited for my betas (you're all the best by the way!) to get back to me with feedback on GR, I wrote the majority of the first draft of SS. Towards the end of that draft I started questioning the story, so I've left it to sit there until my mind puts the pieces together. 

Golden Revenge has seen some BIG changes, and I mean big. I decided to completely rewrite two of my POVs, which then meant I had to change details in the others, and so...I essentially rewrote the story into what I hope is stronger and deeper still. I didn't want to put a bandage on the story problems my betas uncovered; I wanted to do surgery and make it better than it's ever been. Did it work? Well, I guess we'll find out soon.

So Draft 4 of GR is finished, and hopefully soon I can get back to editing it! (I might also be looking for people to quickly read over it soon too...) I'm really proud of the draft and how it turned out. In my short break from the story, I'm now madly working on writing a new one. The only hint I'll give on what it's about, is that it's called Call of the Vanished, and I'm already in love with the characters.

A lot happened in my personal life this year, some of the biggest events being me becoming an adult (and learning how much I dislike paperwork), and graduating from high school! I had the BIG exams called the HSC in October and November, my formal, and lots of other school events where I said goodbye to school, forever.

Now I have a job which I'm loving, and am ready to start university where I'll be studying communications and creative writing in the new year. Hopefully I'll also be taking archery lessons, so there's that! A lot of change has happened this year, but the good and challenging kind of change that makes you appreciate everything and everyone around you, and the kind that draws you closer to God. <3

(I know it says 2017 in the picture but shhhh it's a pretty photo. Pretend it has the right numbers)

It feels as though this year has been preparing me for the ones to come, and now I feel ready to take the next few steps and see where God leads me. I'm excited for the things to come!

Tell me about your year!! What were your favourite reads of the year? How has your writing gone? How would you describe your year in one word?
Happy New Year, and thank you so much for supporting me and this little blog in 2018, and hopefully in the years to come! Love you all! <3

Hi friends! First off I'd like to apologize for not being super active on my blog, social media, and your blogs too. Life is doing one o...

Hi friends! First off I'd like to apologize for not being super active on my blog, social media, and your blogs too. Life is doing one of its famous somersaults, with my finishing school, working, trying to figure out this thing called university and so on. Because of this, and well, Christmas(!) I'll be taking a break from posting this week.

But! I'll be back next week for a Yearly Wrap-Up, and then I'll be kicking off a special new year for Quill Pen Writer in 2019!

Merry Christmas friends! Have a wonderful and blessed time. <3

For all my fellow worldbuilding enthusiasts out there, drawing and embellishing maps for our fantasy, speculative fiction, or dystopian nove...

For all my fellow worldbuilding enthusiasts out there, drawing and embellishing maps for our fantasy, speculative fiction, or dystopian novels is often one of the best parts of worldbuilding! Your imagination can spin in wild circles and leap into creativity. Cities, farmland, mountains, cliffs, palaces, and forests burst into being at a touch of your pen!

Others, don't enjoy it as much. Or maybe they do, but have no idea where to start or what the rules are. (Are there even any rules?)

If that's you my friend, or you love making maps but are seeking extra tips, then hopefully I can help you out today. I'll be sharing the very basics you need to grasp in order to start your very own map. So let's dive into them!


As far as shape goes for your world, you have a free pass to do whatever you like! You can have one massive continent, several subcontinents, a cluster of islands, etc. Just remember that the edges of these continents or landforms will be ragged! Time, water, and tectonic plate activity have roughed out what might have once been smooth.

The most important part here is to determine where your equator is. Assuming that your world is in Earth's position with the exact same gravity, distance from the sun, and so on, the equator will often stretch through the middle. This will help with determining where your biomes are! For example, there is no way that you can have an ice glacier right near the equator, and a (sand) desert far north.


Now that you have a vague idea of your biomes and shape, the fun part starts to kick in; landforms! Keeping in mind your biomes and the likely temperature for each area, you can now throw in as little or as many as you like. Mountains, rivers, lakes, deserts, forests, marshes, tributaries, cliffs, ravines, and on and on!

If you're stuck on this section, try looking at some of Earth's existing areas to see what kind of landforms might be found in a country. For example, in Australia much of the inner continent is desert and dry grassland, scattered with salt lakes and the occasional humongous rock, while the coast is lined with rainforests, bays, forests, and rich farmland.

Jill Williamson's map in "King's Folly"
Water is Life

Water is vital for any form of being (be it plant or animal or human) to live. It allows plant growth, which encourages animals to live nearby, which leads to predators to come, and so on and so forth. When you're placing down cities, towns, villages, and forests there MUST be a source of water.

It's near impossible for communities to be established without a reliable source of water, and with water, food. This is why if you have nomadic cultures, they often originate from dry or desert areas; due to lack of water, they are constantly travelling in search of some. If your world doesn't have piping and modern plumbing, then it would logically be impossible for that city you drew in the middle of the hottest desert, to exist.

Some writers I know struggle to figure out where to put cities and towns on maps, but you've already done all the hard work in choosing where to place landforms! Mark major cities near water sources, and scatter smaller villages and towns further out from those. 

Border Lines

Unless there's only one country in your world, dotted lines can serve well to signify where boundaries are, and where certain ethnicities might dwell. If you're not sure where to place your border lines, landforms often form natural boundaries, such as a mountain range or an ocean. This is because they form natural defenses, for example, if there's only one pass through the mountain range it makes it difficult for armies to come through.

Keep in mind that the biomes and areas that you place countries in will have a huge affect on what their culture, wealth, and economy will be based on. For example, if one people group are bound to a forest, they'll likely trade in timber, value nature, and have a modest economy. Nomadic desert people likely won't have much, while a sea-faring trading empire with lots of coast will have great wealth and be rich in a variety of mixing cultures.

Map from "The Crescent Stone" by Matt Mikalatos

Now that you have all your borders, landforms, and places in the right spot, you can name them! There are a variety of ways to choose a name, so I'll leave that up to you and your preference, but remember to keep them sounding similar to those close by, as they'd likely be named by people speaking the same language. For example, who would believe a town called Eld'erath was an hour from the booming city of Xuchang? This isn't to say that all the places must be nearly identical, but try and aim for realism if you can! (Then you get away with throwing some fantastical features in there.)

Bonus Fun Activities:

- If your characters travel, with a different colour show the progress of their journey across the land!
- Add "Historians' Notes" at the side to add interest, humour, or interesting facts to the page.
- Colour it in!
- Draw crests or symbols for different countries.

How do you draw maps? Any tips you'd like to add in? Do you like to experiment with how you draw your maps? What's one of your favourite maps you've seen in books?
Best wishes with your worldbuilding! <3

If you've ever browsed a few profiles or "About Me" pages in the blogging world, you'll probably notice the phrases "...

If you've ever browsed a few profiles or "About Me" pages in the blogging world, you'll probably notice the phrases "aspiring writer", "aspiring author", "writer", "wordsmith" and so on pop up a lot. Recently the number of "aspiring"s caught my attention, particularly "aspiring writer". If someone's aspiring to be a writer, it means they're not yet one, or don't consider themselves to be one.

So what then makes a writer...well, a writer?

Maybe first we need to clarify the difference between an author and a writer. Let's consult the good ol' Google dictionary, shall we? According to Google an author is:

a writer of a book, article, or document.

And they define a writer as:

a person who has written something or who writes in a particular way.

I was surprised after searching these two up, because Google is essentially saying they're the same thing. In my mind I have a distinct separation between authors and writers; authors have published, whether traditionally or self-published, a novel or some other form of work. Authors can be writers, but until writers are published, I personally wouldn't define them as authors.

If we all followed Google definitions, no one would call themselves "aspiring". So why do we say that we're not yet writers?

Some fellow bloggers I've talked to have told me they don't feel like writers yet. But that brings up the question: what should being a writer feel like? Are we simply putting "aspiring" in front because writing isn't giving us the outcomes we desire yet?

My definition of a writer is this:

If you write, you are a writer.

There will be no magical day when you feel like you've suddenly become 'a writer', a day where all the words flow and inspiration booms, and keeps coming no matter what because you're 'a writer'. Writing is just as hard for me as when I started--because the more I write and learn, the more I realise how much there is to learn.

Maybe in that way we are all aspiring writers, because we're all aspiring to become better and learn and grow. But personally, I would never say anyone is trying to become a writer, that there's some threshold we must pass over to enter an exclusive zone. There isn't one grand achievement that will have people nodding and murmuring to each other, "There's a writer!"

Which is why I like to call all those who write, whether fiction or non-fiction, whether published or unpublished, whether beginners or masters, writers. We're all in love with the same craft. We're all writing, whether fast or slow or somewhere in between.

If you choose to put "aspiring" before "writer", that's your choice. But I thought I'd let you know that there isn't some standard you must live up to before donning the title 'writer'.

Do you write, friend? Then to me, you're a writer.

Let's chat! How do you define a 'writer' or 'author'? What differentiates them? Do you agree with me? (It's fine if you don't!)
Have a wonderful day, and write on! <3

It's here, the Grand Finale of the Shared WIP Tag! I've had so much fun sharing all about Golden Revenge , my current WIP, over the ...

It's here, the Grand Finale of the Shared WIP Tag! I've had so much fun sharing all about Golden Revenge, my current WIP, over the last month and hope you enjoyed it too. Special thanks to Jules for the tag! 

This week's post is a bonus week, where we were pretty much free to do or share anything. I had big plans for this week, and then...the internet decided to drop out. So. This post, in true last-minute-frenzy, is a mixture of attempts at being aesthetically pleasing and snippets. Enjoy!

Taylan’s feet stopped before a painting taking up half the wall. Deep blues, like the bottom of an ocean, mixed with swirls of wispy jades and white. It was where the ocean met the hills, something steady and firm against a roiling beast. A smile split Taylan’s face. He wanted to paint like that. There was such confidence in the brush strokes, almost instinctual, that stirred his gut to create. He lifted his hand, wanting to feel the rise and fall of paint, wanting to live in the painting.

Mida grabbed a silk robe to shrug over her wet body. Tying the robe tight over her, an achingly long process as her gloves kept fumbling with the string, her footsteps slapped over the tile. Five steps from her childhood friend, from the boy she’d almost killed, she halted.
He risked a glance back, then seeing her dressed, turned fully. “Your highness.”
They stood there a minute, piecing together memories and imaginings, joining them to reality, converting the child in their minds to young adults. He’d grown. His legs had popped out of the soil of time, his jawline had sharpened, his sand hair was now greased with lack of washing instead of a chandelier’s reflection. Clothes hung off his cane wide limbs, tattered, a patchwork of age and empty coin purses. 
But his eyes.
The two moons had left the sky and taken up residence in his skull. Grey oceans in the sky, falling waves and hidden stars, lay in him.
"Why are you here?"

* * *

The road took her from the servants’ space, to a lush garden. Colour drenched the air, as if sunsets had fallen to the earth and melted into flowers. Golden petals, orange curled leaves, pink speckled stalks which curled around and around. Silver dust clouded her boots as she wandered the paths which split off the road. A hum, like a plucked string, buzzed off every leaf, petal, and stalk.
Sefika stopped. She let her eyes feed on such...beauty. Never had she thought so many colours could exist together, or at all. 
Oh, Dreamers! Have I died, and gone to your Sky Garden?
A lump of shadow withered her thought. 
The palace watched her, white flecks in the black stone not managing to loosen the shadows which clung to the palace walls. No, this was not the Sky Garden. An undefeatable coldness crawled from the high towers and silent windows, slithering down into the garden, and rasping underneath the leaves. Waiting.
Sefika drew her cloak around her even tighter. She must not forget where she was. 

When Sefika had finished helping Esen, she carried her back to her mat. They peeled their oranges, the sweet scent creating a small haven in their corner of nothing. And they ate, letting the tart juices burst to life on their tongues, laughing at the seeds they spat out into their hands. They talked of how they would plant an orange tree behind the shed, and nurture it so they would never be without sweetness.
They talked of Mama and Papa until their stories of them became as real as fading memories. They talked of dreams, of secret hopes cradled to the chest. 
They talked as if life was closer to them than death.

Check out bonus round posts on the other paricipants' blogs!
Jules @ Saver of Memories
Ceci @ Ceci Creates
Lisa @ Inkwell
Julia @ Lit Aflame
Melissa @ Quill Pen Writer

Would you be interested in hearing more about Golden Revenge in the future? Which was your favourite snippet? And tell me about your writing! How did NaNo go?
Have a wonderful day! <3

This week I'm back with the Shared WIP tag, invented by the amazing Jules , and I'll be sharing about my side characters and setting...

This week I'm back with the Shared WIP tag, invented by the amazing Jules, and I'll be sharing about my side characters and setting from Golden Revenge! (One of which lives to tell bad jokes, hence, the title change.) If you're not sure what the story is about, here's a quick formula for you: 

Refugees + civil war + King Midas retelling + magic + revenge = Golden Revenge.

Now, to the questions!

List your SC’s, state one of their main hobbies, and tell us how they influence your MC in the story.

There are a LOT, so I'll keep it short and sweet here, and focus on the main ones.

Koray: loves to play cards and tell jokes; is a close friend of Taylan's and childhood friend of Mida, and spurs her on her quest. (That's a new change as a heads up to my beta readers, who are probably confused right now.)

Feriha: a physician who Taylan has had a crush on for the last four years. And still not made a move.

Kyrone: heir to the Mohetanian throne and far too obsessed with tax reports; Mida's loyal brother.

Esen: likes to play with her dolls and braid their hair; her sister Sefika works hard to keep her alive.

Doruk: king of Paralin and in love with his greenhouse; husband of Ela and lets her do whatever she likes.

Who is the SC that is the closest to your MC?

Ooh hard one. Taylan is probably closest to Feriha (or he'd like to be anyway) and Mida is closest to Kyrone, as he's one of the few people she'll actually share her problems with.

I can't find photos that look like my characters so here's a photo of herbs Feriha might use
How do your SC’s act around people they don’t know?

I'll focus on Koray and Feriha for these following SC questions, so this post doesn't go on forever! Koray would immediately start telling jokes ("What do you call a man lost in the forest? Stumped!") to try and assess their type of humour, while Feriha would be polite and helpful but likely wouldn't engage in any heart-to-heart conversation.

Case in point for Koray when under threat of death:

“Please don’t kill me, I like living. I really, really like it. I swear. Besides, I’m allergic to death; fatally allergic.”

What conflict do they add to the story (disagreeing with the MC, perhaps)?

This is a hard question to answer without giving away spoilers. Koray has...different alliances that directly conflict each other and spin everything into a mess. Feriha and Taylan disagree on a number of issues. And that's all I can give away now.

Would your MC die for any of them? What about vice versa?

Taylan would die for two SCs I mentioned, and you can probably guess one (the other shall remain a secret), and they would die for him. Who Mida would die for is a secret...

If you were writing books about your SCs, what might the books be like?

Jokes would drench Koray's so much it would turn into a joke guide with some dark moments, and Feriha's book would focus on her fight to rebuild her country and dreams. She'd love to open a hospital some day:

Feriha leaned her head on his shoulder. “Maybe you could help me run my own hospital.”
It took a few seconds for the words to sink in, the closeness of her muddling his thoughts. “Your what?”
“My hospital. Once the war is over, I want to be able to run one; make people healthy and happy, and not drain their entire savings away for it. It will have clean wood walls, and smell of lily blossoms, and I’ll give every sick child a doll or spinning top and…” She continued on, eyes brightening as she explained the plan. A pure plan. One that resulted in blood being cleaned up and wounds patched, unlike his.
Taylan’s plans were all red.

What is your favorite part about the setting?

I really like Peresay! It's partially inspired by Uluru in Australia, which is a giant red rock in the middle of our outback, except in the story a city is built around it. Here's a snippet of one of its streets just for fun:

Here, bricks and mortar lined up into clean, precise rows scrubbed free of moss or refuse. Purple tiles bordered the doors and windows. Peeks between metal gates showcased breezy courtyards and fronds of date trees basking in sunlight. As they strode down the quiet street, the scent of fresh bread danced on the wind, warm and soft.
The bakery preened itself on the right. A quiet bustle of figures dashed in front of sparkling windows, above which an elegant hand had engraved The Golden Crust into stone. Customers in gowns carrying silver woven baskets sampled pastries over laughter, either not knowing, or not caring, about the refugees’ arrival.

What was the hardest part about coming up with the setting?

Nothing I can remember! The different settings fell into place naturally for me.

Is there anything about the setting that produced a major change in your character throughout the story?

I see someone's asking for spoilers...

Did you base your setting off of any place in particular?

As I've mentioned before, I loosely based some of my settings and food off of Bulgaria and Turkey, though with a good dose of my own imagination in there and some nods to Australian land forms. A lot of the architecture and buildings in Kanta and Peresay are reflections of my inspiration.

Check out the other participants' blogs for more fun and story sharing!

Tell me about how your writing's going! Are you surviving NaNo? What was your story setting inspired by? Which of my SCs would you prefer to have tea with?
Have a wonderful day! <3

Today I am SO excited, for two reasons!! The first is that I get to share about my antagonist thanks to Julian's great tag, and the sec...

Today I am SO excited, for two reasons!! The first is that I get to share about my antagonist thanks to Julian's great tag, and the second is that Project Canvas is out! In case you haven't heard of it, it's a collection of dozens of articles from young writers (including myself) across the world sharing their writing tips, inspiration, and writing journeys. It's an amazing read, and it would mean so much to me if you would check it out. <3

Now, onto the questions!

Introduce the main antagonist of your book!

Queen Ela married into the Paralinese royal family after King Doruk was charmed by her strength, powerful magic, and beauty. As the king is obsessed with creating plants and tending to his garden, she takes on the bulk of the governing and commanding the military. At the beginning of the book she is heavily pregnant, and in the throes of planning to slaughter rebel soldiers.

Here are the opening paragraphs in her first chapter:

Ela had never been wild about war.
But as she surveyed the map spread out on the midnight stone table, an odd tingle flushed her cheeks. One hand rubbed her swelling stomach, another traced the dotted lines. Little figurines balanced on the thick paper—her armies, and the rebels’. Paralin’s inked sweeping river, dense forest, and sprawling plains were riddled with slashes. It was if the past royal families had tried to carve out disloyal territories with their daggers.
Ela preferred to do it simpler way; carve out the bodies.

What do you (the writer) have in common with the antagonist? What do you not have in common?

I would like to hope I don't have much in common with her. We both enjoy being around children, which we do have in common, but everything else? I'm not exactly a queen, and I certainly am not a Soulstreamer (a magician who can bring to life their imagination).

Since Ela can alter her appearance and apparent age, she would probably choose to look only a little older than this
What does your antagonist do when he/she is mad? Do they have a soft spot?

On a good day, she might torture a few people or watch whippings. On a bad day, she has been known to ride out to villages and raze them to the ground. Her temper is something to be feared, simply put. As for a soft spot, as I mentioned, she loves kids, and has been trying for a very long time to have her own.

Who is your antagonist’s worst enemy?  What is their greatest fear?

She considers Baris Yilmez, the leader of the rebels, her greatest enemy as he has successfully led the rebels against her for over six years. Him constantly thwarting her efforts to win the civil war frustrates her. 

As for her greatest fear, it would have to be her secret being revealed...

What is your antagonist’s weapon of choice?

Magic. If she has enough energy and a full stomach, she can touch a person and instantly snap their spine.

How would your antagonist surprise your reader?

Well, if I told you now, it wouldn't be a surprise, would it?

What is one thing your villain would never do?

Hurt her child(ren). She dreams of cuddling a baby of her own and later teaching him/her magic and how to kill, and she would never interfere with that dream.

What lie does your antagonist believe about the MC?

Ela doesn't actually meet my MC until far, far into the book. But she believes that he's a "rebel mutt" and doesn't stand a chance against her.

What is your favorite thing about your antagonist?

Though I hate her for a lot of things she's done, I always find her magic and the way she uses it really interesting. Here's another snippet for you:

Then her eyes snapped shut, and Ela’s magic came to life.
Sometimes her imagination was a room of soft, fluffy pillows spilling over a bench overlooking the abyss of her mind. The shades of pillows would change every second; a flashing rainbow. But sometimes, like today, it was different. Her imagination leaked out from a central pinprick of red light. Blood tendrils poured outward like smoke, lighting up Ela’s thoughts, feelings, and cut off memories. The red light glided toward the last, and tapped on the locked door.
The door exploded.

If your antagonist was your MC, what would your book look like?

It would be a very dark story, and it would lose a lot of its complexity, since Ela is in one location for the whole of her POV. I don't think I would want to sink my reader into the darkness of Ela's mind for very long, which is why she only has a number of short scenes.

Check out the other tag participants' blogs!
Ceci @ Ceci Creates
Lisa @ Inkwell
Julia @ Lit Aflame
Melissa @ Quill Pen Writer

Are you scared or intrigued about Ela? Are you excited about Project Canvas' release? (I am!!) How is your writing going?
Have a wonderful day! <3