When high school was finishing up for me, and I was staring at the blank space of several months before university started, I smiled to myse...

When high school was finishing up for me, and I was staring at the blank space of several months before university started, I smiled to myself. "I'm going to have all this free time! I'll be able to grow my platform, put extra effort into my blog, and be more active on social media! Finally!"

That...didn't happen. In the slightest.

To be honest with all of you, I'm not entirely sure why I've been taking steps away from social media and being less active on it. I've got more time in some ways, but in other ways my life has done a one eighty in what I do everyday, where I work, where I go, who I'm with. Almost everything's changed.

I've been really down on myself lately, looking at dwindling number of views on blog posts, at how long it's been since I've mustered enough enthusiasm to write a Tweet, at the hours it takes for me to scrape up a basic blog post.

Am I losing my passion?

Certainly not for writing, and not for this wonderful community of readers and writers expanding across blogs and the platforms I am on, if quietly.

But I think I've been putting a lot of pressure on myself to jump into the buzz of social media, the lightning fast replies, the humour or encouragement that each Tweet is supposed to have, the constant scrolling, scrolling, scrolling.

As much as we talk about taking our time with our writing, there's this constant pressure to build platform. To grow, to reach thousands of readers before you even publish a book, to build up your own community and do everything at once. We're expected to create every day in small snippets to scream at the world that we still exist, that we're still here and scrabbling for our dreams.

It's like I think that with lower numbers or less engagement, people have stopped caring. And that's a very, very dangerous mindset. I've met some of my closest friends online, and social media is a great way to meet friends, but when did those meaningful interactions start because of a post? In my experience, these relationships have always truly begun by one on one messaging.

Numbers do not define us. Platform does not define us -- it's a marketing game that we're all being sucked into, thinking that we must be great and well known and have thousands of likes in order to be successful. Monetary wise, sure, that's probably the case.

But I don't want to be defined by my numbers or how often I tweet. That's not why I started writing. Numbers should never be my goal, but rather being here,  because this is where I want to be. Here, in this small space of the internet. Talking about writing and books and how hard it is to write this. Being here with all of you.

Maybe you've been battling this too, or maybe you're on fire in your social media. But whatever you do, don't let the numbers become how you define yourself. The second we start looking at our stats or comments for our worth, and not our Father above, we lose sight of everything. We forget the gifts we have been given, whether that be family or a safe country or beautiful surroundings or that one friend that completely gets you.

If all we do on social media and blogs is market ourselves, we're degrading ourselves down to a number. So let's stop beating ourselves up when the stats are low, when we're just not feeling like posting on social media. Find where your worth is.

Because it's not in that one comment. It's not in the numbers.

God crafted you, bit by bit, and nowhere in His book did He write He would only love you if your Instagram post got a hundred likes. He loves you always, high numbers or no.

I'm still struggling through this, still trying to make sense of my motivations when I approach my stats page. I don't have answers, but I'm slowly moving my worth away from cold black lines and to someone above infinitely loving no matter what.

This post was a jumble of thoughts, but I hope it might have resonated with some of you. Are you battling numbers and stats? How do you feel about your platform at the moment? Where do you find your worth?
Have a blessed day. <3

As every writer knows, plot bunnies are stubborn yet welcome additions to our brains, because who doesn't love new ideas? But they also...

As every writer knows, plot bunnies are stubborn yet welcome additions to our brains, because who doesn't love new ideas? But they also (at least mine) have a habit of abandoning ship soon after arrival, leaving us to wade through uncertainty of how to proceed with the new story. And so brainstorming comes in to save the day!

Today I've moved away a little from my usual installments in 'Questions to Ask When...' to give you ideas of questions to ask when brainstorming a new story. These are by no means everything you have to know before you start writing, as everyone has a different process. But if you're stuck and searching for a way to develop your story, I hope these questions might spark inspiration!

1) Who is the story’s main character? Why? 

2) What problem is the MC (main character) faced with? How did this problem come about? How do they respond to it at first, then later on in the story?

3) What does the MC want more than anything?  How does the problem make this difficult or important? Is what the MC wants actually good for them? Is what they want their goal in the story, or is that something else?

4) What lie does the MC believe? Why do they believe this? Will this lie ever be broken? What or who will it take to break it, or reinforce it?

5) What is the overarching story problem? Will this be resolved in one book, or will it be part of a problem throughout the series?

6) Where is the story set? Earth, another world, outer space? How will this affect the MC and the story problem?

7) Will there be several POVs, or just one? What tense will you write in?

8) Who or what is the antagonist? Who stands in the way of the MC getting what they want, or meeting their goal? Why are they standing in the way? Are they deliberately causing harm to the MC, or are they simply caught in crossfire?

9) What does the antagonist desire more than anything? Why do they want this so badly? What kind of ethics do they follow? Can they justify their actions, or believe them to be right? 

10) How far will the antagonist go? What is one thing they will never, ever do? Is there anyone or anything they would protect at all cost?

11) What other characters are in the story? What’s their relationship to the MC or the antagonist? What do they desire, and what stands in their way? What are their fears?

12) What’s at stake for everyone in the story? Is there are a specific timeline that they must follow to avoid catastrophe or solve the problem? If not, then what keeps driving them towards their goal?

13) How will the story start? What pushes or convinces the MC to go on a journey? Where will it start? Will there be a prologue, or a scene from another POV?

14) Who is your ideal reader for this story? What kind of books do they read, what kind of characters do they love to read about? What tropes do they expect, and which ones can you twist?

15) How would you sum up your story in one sentence? Two sentences? A paragraph? What images or music represent your story and can give you inspiration?

16) What are some ways the story could end? Will the story's problem resolve, will the MC get what they want, or something else?

17) What will be the character arc of the MC? Will they undergo a positive or negative change, or no change at all? What events will lead to this change or keep them in the same position?

18) What will the story's title be? How does its title represent its characters, themes, plot, or key ideas? Will you need a working title until you can brainstorm more?

More in the 'Questions to Ask When' series...
Cities      History      Celebrations      Magic
Characters (Backstory, and Interview)
Schools      Monarchies      Religion (Part 1 and Part 2)     

Would you like me to do more posts in this series like this? What new stories are you working? Tell me all about them!
Have a wonderful day! <3

There are tons of books I've seen friends shouting the praises of, or authors I follow who've released books, and my hands are itchi...

There are tons of books I've seen friends shouting the praises of, or authors I follow who've released books, and my hands are itching to get hold of them! Today I've compiled a list of books I desperately want to read, but something has held me back. Most likely it's that shipping on Amazon to Australia murders wallets, the book hasn't come out yet, or life has been rude and interrupted my reading time. Nevertheless, I am determined to read all of these as soon as I can.

All that being said, to the books! And may your TBR survive this post!

1) Love and the Sea and Everything in Between

I follow Brian McBride on Instagram and have heard about his book in Go Teen Writers for a while now. Contemporary isn't often my go-to, but his passion for the story comes across in every single post. It explores mental health, holding onto your faith, and everything that's raw and deep.

2) The Blood Race

Everyone has been screaming about this one to me! It's described as a sci-fi/fantasy thriller series, which is right up my alley! Everything about this book seems epic and like it will smash my feels in half, so of course, I'm up for reading this as soon as I can.

3) Romanov

Nadine Brandes is officially now one of my favourite authors, and I'm incredibly jealous of those who got ARCs for this book. Not only is the cover absolutely stunning, but I love the movie Anastasia, so I'm super excited for a Romanov retelling, with magic no less!

4) A Sorcery of Thorns

I recently finished Margaret Rogerson's "An Enchantment of Ravens" and while I did have one minor problem with it, the worldbuilding and description captivated me so much, I'm very excited to see how she might incorporate that away from a romance-based plot. And again, a beautiful cover!

5) Mark of the Raven

Another one I've heard so much about! The main character is being called "reserved but strong, and not in the physical sense", which is exactly the kind of character I love to read about. I'm eager to grab hold of this one ASAP!

6) The Boy Who Steals Houses

Cait, who runs the spectacular blog Paper Fury, is releasing another book this year!! A Thousand Perfect Notes hit me in the feels, so I'm expecting another wonderful and heartbreaking contemporary from her. And the cover!! The colours are perfect.

7) Within These Lines

Stephanie Morrill was one of my early writing mentors through all her advice and encouragement over on Go Teen Writers. (She's even given me lovely feedback on my first chapter!) I'm so grateful for all her support, and for her amazing stories!! Within These Lines sounds like the kind of book the world needs.

8) Project Canvas

I finally received my paperback of this, and I'm so proud to have been a part of this project! My article is about worldbuilding, but there are so many great articles on everything from writing inspiration, to creating characters, to plotting, to blogging... A must read for all writers!

9) The Girl Who Could See

Apart from the stunning cover, and how lovely Kara Swanson is, the premise has some similarities to a WIP I'm working on right now, and I'm eager to see where she takes the story! It's a TBR veteran of mine and I keep hoping for the day I might finally hold it in my hands.

10) Gilded Wolves

Praise is gushing in for this book! The setting and characters sound rich and complex, and I'm always up for adventures through worlds that are as glamorous as they are dangerous. Did I mention the cover is simply beautiful too?

Have you read any of these books? Which books are you dying to read? Which of these should I read first?
Have a wonderful day, and happy reading! <3

This is the post I never thought I'd write, because I type up almost everything, including this blog post. I type my novels, emails, mes...

This is the post I never thought I'd write, because I type up almost everything, including this blog post. I type my novels, emails, messages, short stories...the lot. But as I've begun English tutoring and slowly going back to using my journals, the importance and sometimes necessity for handwriting is showing its face very plainly.

I'm (fairly certain) that you, dear reader, are older than the children I teach, so I won't spend ages talking about how handwriting is essential for learning how to read and write. But the benefits extend far beyond the basics. So what are they? Why is it so important? 

1) Break From the Screen

I love my laptop, I really do, and I will forever spend the majority of my hours writing on it for convenience's sake. But often my eyes get tired from staring at the screen for hours, and they ache to do something else. These days I'll move away from my computer to a journal, and scribble out new writing ideas, brainstorm my next steps, write a quick poem, anything. Eye health is so important, and spending time away from your devices will make you your eyes' best friend. 

2) Cements Ideas in Your Brain

Anyone who has ever taught or tutored knows this. The act of writing down ideas, rather than simply spouting them off, fosters both memory and increased understanding of what you're writing. It's likewise a workout for your brain; as Susan Reynolds in "Fire Up Your Writing Brain" says, "handwriting is one of the most advanced human capabilities, because it combines all the complexities of language in concert with psychomotor activity." She also quotes studies that explain how handwriting makes you more likely to remember what you're writing. If you'd like to remember that shiny plot bunny, write it down!

3) Slow Down and Think

I can type much faster than I can handwrite. For writing my novels and longer works this is convenient, but it also means I rarely slow down and really think about my stories and where I'm going next. I just keep typing and switching words and stumbling around in the document blind about my next goals. I've found handwriting my next steps, or brainstorming scene possibilities on a physical page, to be incredibly useful, as the slower pace allows my brain to think through everything I write. Slow thinking can lead to the solutions for many plot holes!

4) A Lost Art

It's likely that as technology continues to grow in importance in everyday life, that typing will become more popular than handwriting, which is a shame! There's such beauty in it. (At least, handwriting that doesn't look like mine.) We may have fonts and all, but the perfected letters of these doesn't express emotions like handwriting does. Handwriting is literally the soul of a moment in time. Looking back at my old diaries, the way I've written cues me better into what I was feeling than my words ever will.

5) You've a Ton of Journals and Need to Use Them

I collect more and more journals by the month, so I'm serious about this one! As writers we love journals so much, gush over stationary, so we better put them to their intended use. Filled journals are like the unpublished novels of people's lives, dreams, and thoughts. It's a bound up collection that has more beauty and gives more insight than typed documents in a digital file. Journals are yours to keep, and are waiting to be filled with writing!

Do you handwrite at all? Why or why not? Is handwriting a lost art to you, or is it something we can all do without?
Have a wonderful day! <3