Over my week-long holiday I set myself a challenge to read the longest book on my shelf; "The Priory of the Orange Tree" by Samant...

Over my week-long holiday I set myself a challenge to read the longest book on my shelf; "The Priory of the Orange Tree" by Samantha Shannon, which is over 800 pages and is affectionally referred to as 'the mammoth'. I can't begin to describe to you how detailed and cleverly woven the world-building in this book is. The way the world is designed, its scars and culture, moves through the characters' every actions. Despite some questionable content, the world enthralled me and inspired this post.

"The Priory of the Orange Tree"'s world is built on a vast history that comes from long-standing myths. Myths are integral to culture, religion, and rituals. They are often the basis for celebrations and customs, and stories told over campfires. It's important to note the kind of myths we're talking about here; not necessarily a false story, but rather, according to Google: "a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events."

If you're unsure how to develop your story world's myths or are baffled where to start, here are some questions you can ask yourself:

1) Who are the central characters in the myth? What are their names, or have they been lost to history? Do they perhaps only have titles?

2) What is plot of the myth? What challenge was overcome, or what event took place? Eg. a great monster defeated, an empire founded, the impossible accomplished. How does the myth explain how the hero of the myth was able to overcome the challenge?

3) How long is the myth? Has it been summarised as it's been passed down, or lengthened?

4) What format is the myth told in? Is it passed on verbally, through art, or through written works? How many copies of it are there?

5) How sacred is the myth considered? Is it the center of their religion, nothing but a story, or an integral part of their history? Would it be blasphemy to disbelieve in it or change the story?

6) Has the myth been altered over time? If so, was it intentional, or a result of the time before its creation to the current time? What has been changed and what has stayed the same?

7) How truthful is the myth? Did the event truly take place, or is it all fabricated? What does the general public believe?

8) When and where is the myth told? Are there special storytellers which can be the only ones who share it with the people, or do parents whisper it to their children before bed? Or something else? Is there a specific holiday where the myth is recounted?

9) What do other cultures and people groups think of the myth? Do they believe it, share it, think it heresy, or something else? How would they respond if they were told the myth as if it were complete truth?

10) What cultural elements have emerged as a result of the myth? Are children scared to walk in the dark alone, is the myth's hero now the figure of their religion, or something else? How does it affect everyday life, if at all?

11) Why or why not will the myth continue to live on? Why do people choose to keep telling it, and what would it take for them to stop doing so?

12) What lessons does the myth present to those who hear it? What values or historical or religious event does it teach? What are its core themes?

13) If the hero of the myth was a person, do their descendants still live? What do they believe about the myth, and how do they interact with it? How have their lives changed because of it?

14) If the antagonist or enemy in the myth has living descendants, how do they feel about the myth? How has it changed their lives, standing in the community, or the way they view the world? Are they still considered enemies?

That's all the questions for today! I hope they'll help spark ideas and worldbuilding concepts for myths and much more. Below are other posts in this blog series:

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

Don't forget that the deadline for the flash fiction contest 'Catching the Horizon' is coming up, May 4th! I'd love to see all your pieces and there are big prizes to be had! More details can be found at the bottom of this post.

What kind of myths do you see in fiction? Have you ever created myths in your storyworld? Will you be entering the contest?
Have a wonderful day! <3

Easter is my favourite time of year. This is a time where I remember the great pain and suffering Jesus endured for our sake, so that we mig...

Easter is my favourite time of year. This is a time where I remember the great pain and suffering Jesus endured for our sake, so that we might be reunited with God and be forgiven all our sins. Imagine bearing the weight of every sin of every person alive, people who have been, and people not yet born. That's billions upon billions upon billions.

That's a burden of the heaviest kind.

Jesus took on that burden, and on the third day, defeated death and rose again so that one day we might too rise with Him. 

Before I return to normal posts next week, I'd like to share my favourite Easter songs with you. Songs that remind me of the pain Jesus went through, the love of God, and how Death's chains were broken.

May they help remind you of the love of Jesus and our Father. <3

"How Deep the Father's Love For Us" 
by Stuart Townsend

Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
- - -
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

by CityAlight

See the King who made the sun
And the moon and shining stars
Let the soldiers hold and nail Him down
So that He could save them
- - -
Feel the earth is shaking now
See the veil is split in two
And He stood before the wrath of God
Shielding sinners with His blood

by Kari Jobe

The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting?
Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated

"Resurrection Power"
by Chris Tomlin

Now I have resurrection power
Living on the inside
Jesus, You have given us freedom
I'm no longer bound by sin and darkness
Living in the light of Your goodness
You have given us freedom

by Casting Crowns

Man shakes the fist at heaven
The breath of God still in his lungs
A brokenhearted Father grieves
In love He sends His only Son
- - -
He was bruised for our transgressions
Crushed and buried in the ground
As the sunrise finds an empty tomb
The redeemed of God resound

What songs do you listen to during Easter? What does Easter mean to you? How are you celebrating this year?
May blessings be upon you, friends <3

It's officially been three years now that I've been blogging on Quill Pen Writer! *confetti explodes everywhere* I cannot describe h...

It's officially been three years now that I've been blogging on Quill Pen Writer! *confetti explodes everywhere* I cannot describe how wild but amazing these last years have been, both online and offline, so thank you so, so much for your support! I couldn't have done it without you.

Last week I asked you to ask me anything, and gave hints about a special contest! Today in celebration of Quill Pen Writer being three, I'm answering all of your questions, and announcing the contest. There are special prizes waiting, and answers, so let's get to it!

What "bad" writing habits do you have that you're trying to break?

Doubting myself! I don't know if that classifies as a habit, but I tend to look at the first draft of my current WIP and compare it to the fifth or so draft of another WIP, wondering why my new one is so bad. Please be better than I am, and ignore these thoughts! You wouldn't compare the speaking ability of a three year old to a newborn, so why do we expect so much of our first drafts?

Was there ever a moment when your characters surprised you?

Pretty much every single scene. They're extremely rebellious, and like to take my plot and run away with it. 

If you had to describe your writing process as a season, which season would it be?

I've never thought about my process like this! But maybe winter? I have quite a slow, developing process, so it's far from the quick growth of seasons like spring. My ideas tend to be blanketed under snow as they develop, and then over time the ice melts as I write.

How long have you been writing?

I've been writing seriously, with the intent of being a published author, for around six years now!

How do you choose which WIP to work on?

It's difficult, but I make sure each WIP passes the "sit and stew" test. I write down my ideas as they come to me, and can spend hours fleshing out plot bunnies, but then I'll force them to wait and stew in my brain. If they keep prodding me or I'm still excited by the idea a few months down the track, that's when I chose it as my next WIP!

Do you listen to music while you write?

I used to. A year or so ago I always put on my latest favourite songs while writing, but I've discovered it's so much easier and more productive for me to write in silence. That way I don't keep changing tabs to choose the next song.

What is your favorite fantasy world?

I don't know if it fully classifies as fantasy, but the world of "The Gilded Wolves" by Roshani Chokshi is incredibly rich and detailed. I rarely see worlds that are both magical and dark, lush and dangerous, and every page breathes.

What is your favorite hobby (besides writing)?

Photography! I love playing around with angles and book shots. That being said, you can find me on Instagram @melissagravitis. ;)

What is your favorite fantasy creature? 

Griffins! They're incredibly majestic, and yet really cute at the same time. I blame this obsession mostly on my childhood love of 'The Spiderwick Chronicles'.

Favorite thing to write about?

This is going to sound very strange, but, kidnappings. Or captivity. There's so much potential drama and character growth that can happen from it, and it's a great conflict point too. (I'm not encouraging it in any way, but somehow it always shows up in my stories. Strange...)

What’s your favorite part of world-building?

I've always enjoyed coming up with different customs and values that a culture has. There's a lot of room for experimentation, and playing around, and it makes the world really feel alive!

What's your favorite thing about being a writer?

Being able to tell the stories on my heart!

What is your favorite thing about having a blog?

Talking with and getting to know all of you! It's so wonderful to be able to be part of the blogging community and walk alongside other writers' journeys.

Favorite time of day to write?

Mid-morning or afternoon, as they're my free spots of the day now.

What’s your least favorite genre of books/movies?

Horror. It's all too much for me, and the gory scenes really freak me out.

What's your favorite genre to read? to write?

Fantasy, all the fantasy! I love a world full of magic and high stakes.

Who is your favorite character out of your own?

You're asking me to choose between my children? Never. (Mida and Koray are strong contenders.)

What are five of your favorite books?

This is a tough one, but probably: "The Cruel Prince" by Holly Black, "The Blood Race" by K.A. Emmons, "King's Folly" by Jill Williamson, "Illuminae" by Jay Kristoff and Amy Kaufman, and "The Winner's Kiss" by Marie Rutkoski.

Who are some people that inspire you, and why?

My parents. <3 They love God, serve him with passion, and have given up so much of their lives for Him.

What's one book and one movie that changed your life in some way?

'Enna Burning' by Shannon Hale forever changed the way I wrote, and what I wrote. I used to love imaginary games and so on as a child, but I always tended to read contemporary or historical books. When I came across Shannon Hale's books, I fell in love with all things fantasy.

What's your favorite thing about Australia? Your favorite thing about Thailand? Favourite thing about being a TCK (Third Culture Kid)?

Australia = trees, trees, trees! And parks! Near my house!
Thailand = the food is to die for; fresh and spicy all at once.
TCK = the range of life experiences I've been able to have.

Have you ever wished you were homeschooled, or have you always been happy with public school? 

I'm happy with public school! I also went to an international school in Thailand, and both have been fine. They're great places to be part of a community and meet friends from different backgrounds.

What languages do you speak?

English and a little Thai!

If you could choose anywhere in the world to go on a missions trip, where would you choose? What if it was just to visit?

It would be a blessing to be able to go on a missions trip somewhere in the Middle East. As for a trip, same answer!

What's your impression of the U.S.?

...This is a complicated answer. *awkwardly steps away from answering because we don't have time for all my thoughts*

Has your time in Thailand affected your fictional worlds at all?

I think so! I think it's made me understand the differences in culture, being able to live in two very different ones, and it's exposed me to the complexity of the world and beliefs. That's incredibly helpful when developing different fictional cultures.

Do you like makeup? 

I don't mind it, when I have energy I put on some mascara or even a little eyeshadow. If it takes me longer than five minutes to put it on though, I usually get annoyed.

Dream car? 

Anything that runs, honestly. xD

What does your dream day look like?

Going on a walk in cool weather through the bush (forest), going home and having a great writing session, then later a relaxing evening of reading and chocolate.

Dogs or cats?

Dogs! Some cats are all right, but dogs are so loyal, cuddly, and cute.

Do you listen to musicals? If so, do you have a favorite?

I do listen to some. Anastasia is my absolute favourite; the music, the characters, the emotion, ah!

Organized or messy?

Organised! (Mostly.)

If you could visit any fictional world what would it be?

The world of "The Gilded Wolves", for the same reasons as I praised it for above! Magic plus inventions plus decadence makes a world that would leave me in awe and wonder.

If you could see any book you want made into a movie what would it be?

"The Blood Race" by K.A. Emmons would make a fantastic movie in my opinion, as would its sequel "Worlds Beneath". There would be heart pounding action, crescendos of emotion, amazing visuals, and unforgettable characters. I'm waiting, film-makers.

Would you rather go camping, or stay in a hotel? 

Hotel. Camping and I are on cold terms.

If you could go back to any time period, which would it be?

Ancient Israel, or any time during when Jesus was alive. To be able to see Him, listen to His teachings... I can't tell you how amazing that would be. 

Would you rather live near the beach or mountains?

I love mountains; they're beautiful and powerful all at once. The beach has sand, of which I am not a fan.

Ebooks or paperbacks?

Paperbacks! I don't actually own any e-books, as my eyes hurt from reading on a screen for too long.

And now.... Drumroll please...

These last few weeks I've been tossing up between a giveaway and hosting a contest, or even doing both. Last year, on my first giveaway, unfortunately I had a lot of people enter who came solely for the giveaway and used bots, etc. to try and win. So it wasn't the greatest experience, and made it tricky deciding if the winner was a real person.

This year then, I thought I might try another way to show you all how much I appreciate you! I used your feedback on your preferred giveaway prize to help form the prizes for this. The contest is called "Catching the Horizon", and there are going to be prizes for the top three contestants.

Here's the official contest information:

How to enter: Submit one 300-500 word piece based around the theme "catching the horizon". It's not necessary to use this phrase, but you can if you wish. Once you've finished, email it in the body of your email to melissagravitis@gmail.com (So no attachments please!).

Rules: You can surpass or not meet the word limit by plus or minus ten percent, which means your work can be between 250 and 550 words. Your piece can be in any genre. The deadline for entry is the 4th of May 2019. Winners will be announced the following week.

Prizes: The top three pieces will be posted on a blog post, where the winners will also be announced. Winners will be contacted and receive these additional prizes:
First Place: Two books of their choice (up to a value of $40 AU and shipped from Book Depository)!
Second Place: One book of their choice (up to a value of $20 AU and shipped from Book Depository)!
Third Place: A $10 AU Amazon gift card!

I know there are lot of technicalities here, but I hope that you all have lots of fun with this, and I can't wait to read all of your entries! I also hope this is a better way to show you all how much I appreciate you coming to my tiny corner of the internet and commenting, sharing, and discussing all things writing and books with me. You're all the best, and you make blogging so much fun!

Quill Pen Writer wouldn't be the same without you, and here's hoping that one day we can catch the horizon together. <3

Thank you so much again for supporting me and the blog, it really means the world! Do you have any more questions for me? Will you be joining in the contest? 
Have a wonderful day and best of luck with your entry! <3

Hi everyone! I'm in the midst of planning some very special and exciting things for my blogoversary next week, so today's post will ...

Hi everyone! I'm in the midst of planning some very special and exciting things for my blogoversary next week, so today's post will be on the shorter side. Right now my brain is a flurry of different ideas of how to structure everything, what to focus on, and so on, but I'd love to hear from you! Below is a Google form asking you what you'd prefer to win in a giveaway, and a space for you to ask me any questions!

I'll be answering your questions as part of next week's celebrations, and also be hosting a giveaway, and another special event! (It may or may not be something like a contest...) Keep your eyes peeled, and thanks so much for joining in! <3