Thursday, December 31, 2015

Beautiful Books #3: SlavicNovel Yet Again


Well, 2015 is almost over here in Chicago - only six and a half more hours to go until the New Year! I thought I'd end off the year with this month's Beautiful Books post - obviously not because I'm LAZY AND PUT THINGS OFF UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE, but because it's all about edits and future plans and hopes for next year.

I wanted to finish SlavicNovel by today - that was the goal - so that I could have something editable fresh for the new year, but that didn't happen. However, I'm close to the end! I just need to figure out that dang climax.

Anyway, here we go with the questions!

1. On a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best), how did the book turn out? Did anything defy your expectations?

Weeeell I haven't finished it yet. But it's really close to being done. I'd say right now it feels like a 4 or a 5, but maybe that's pessimistic? The ending (ish) defied my expectations because it was way more complicated than I thought it would be dangit.
But on a happier note, some of my characters defied my expectations and were way easier to write than I thought they would be - namely, Baba Yaga, Damla, and Oriana.

2. Comparative title time: what published books, movies, or TV shows are like your book? (Ex: Inkheart meets X-Men.)

Dang this is complicated. Let's go for the Grisha books (by Leigh Bardugo) meet The Darkest Part of the Forest (by Holly Black) meets... something with ninjas. I dunno.

3. Do you enjoy working with deadlines and pressures (aka NaNoWriMo)? Or do you prefer to write-as-you're inspired?

Deadlines help definitely. I don't like them, but I can't deny that I am ten times more productive with them than without them. I like to think I'm self-motivated (homeschooling and all that) but perhaps that's only with academic pursuits. With writing, it's way harder.

4. How do you go about editing? Give us an insight in to your editing process.

Confession time: I've never reached that point on a WIP where I wanted to edit it. My collection is full of first drafts. But with SlavicNovel, I know I want to go farther. Here's my plan:
-Take a month long break from the novel.
-Send it to my kindle/phone and read it straight through as though it were any book I was reading.
-Make a gigantic plot outline using sticky notes and/or Scrivener
-Make the plot make sense. Cuz right now it doesn't.
-While working on plot, figure out character arcs kinda simultaneously.
-Eat a lot of chocolate after the plot is happy. CELEBRATE
-Take a break from the technical stuff for a month or so and conglomerate a ton of worldbuilding facts and fun stuff
-Somehow dive into rewrite #2.

What'll happen after that, I don't know. I'm not sure how rewrites work in my world. We'll see.

5. What aspect of your story needs the most work?

This is so hard to pick. I'm going to go with two things: worldbuilding (which is usually awesome for me *sad face*) and the conclusion/climax. I'm bad at tying plot points together.

6. What aspect of your story did you love the most?

Characters! As always. See next question :-)

7. Give us a brief run down on your main characters and how you think they turned out. Do you think they'll need changes in edits?

I have quite a few major characters because epic fantasy y'know.

Tania (my MC) - ew. She definitely needs work. She's so dang normal, and when she's not normal, she's whiny and immature. I can't seem to figure her essence out. She's supposed to be a bit of a jerk, but I can't figure out what she is when she's not being a jerk. Currently, she's pretty unlikable, which isn't good for an MC.

Stefan (Tania's unintentional friend) - pretty decent. He's kind of peppier than I though he'd be, but it's good, it balances out Tania's jerkiness.

Baba Yaga (witch) - epic sassy witch. She came out way sassier and way better than I expected she would. All the love to Baba Yaga.

Damla (thief) - wait no, all the love goes to DAMLA, not Baba Yaga. Or split it evenly between the two? Because this little marzipan ninja is my favorite of the badass women of SlavicNovel. She is perfection.

Oriana (warrior queen) - she's pretty decent, my major issue is that she's basically Damla but without as much heart and more violence. Which isn't what I want. Oriana's got heart, but it's a different kind from Damla's and I'm struggling to show that.

Koshiy (villain) - I'm trying to not make him your stereotypical dark bad boy but he very much so wants to be. I'm still not 100% sure what he's going to end up but whatever it is I know it will be fabulous. I don't have doubts with him, just unsureties.

Then there are various mermaid characters who are lesser than I wanted them to be (Laryssa, Rusalka), so I'm going to work on expanding those in the next draft.

8. What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?

Though I have hid many novels in dark holes forever, SlavicNovel is not destined for that path, happily. There will definitely be WAYYY more edits though, and eventually - maybe in 2017? - I'll find some beta readers. Querying and publication is the eventual goal, but that's a long while away.

9. Share a favorite snippet!

Hm. To a sharp eye this might technically be spoilers but oh well....

10. What are your writing goals and plans for 2016?

Drafts #2 and #3 of SlavicNovel! Start a fresh WIP (not sure which one yet). Write a couple short stories because I'm awful at that. Write around 100 words a day (small and therefore manageable).

Now it's your turn! Tell me about your editing process! (Any advice for me?) And what are your plans for 2016? Writing and otherwise?

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Winter by Marissa Meyer // in which i cry because this beautiful series is over


 Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?  


I haven't written a review in AGES, it feels like, but now I'm BACK! And ready to flail about The Lunar Chronicles again!

Marissa Meyer has solidified her position on my bookshelf as one of my favorite writers. It takes skill to pull off such an excellent, excellent conclusion, and she DEFINITELY has that skill. Winter blew me away. I can honestly say that it was my favorite out of the entire Lunar Chronicles!

Let's talk logically about what was so awesome about this book (otherwise I'm just going to dance around flailing about WHAT A BOOK GO GO CINDER YOU BADASS AND EEEE CRESS AND THORNE I CANT STAND THE ADORBS AND OH IKO IKO MY BABY and then dissolve into a puddle of sadness that the series is over).

Because this is a final book, everything sort of ties together here. As the series progressed, the amount of main characters increased and points of view multiplied - and in Winter, we have the most sub plots yet. However, Marissa Meyer deals with this masterfully, and I never really felt confused. The many plot strands and character arcs twist together into an entirely cohesive and solid story with an extremely satisfactory ending. I struggle with plot in my own writing (as I have complained many times), and so when someone produces something like Winter where there are SO MANY plot bits that somehow just FIT like puzzle pieces, I stand in awe and wonder. Highest commendations to Marissa Meyer.

Characters! The characters in the Lunar Chronicles are always so well written, and so distinct, and the "new" ones we get in Winter (namely, Winter and Jacin) are no exception. Winter is such a darling ball of clouds and sparkles and dreams and I just want to wrap her up and protect her from everything. (Which everyone else kind of does too, actually.) Jacin, even though we've met him in previous books, gets fuller development in Winter, and I grudgingly began to like him. Actually, I think he and I would make a good Winter-protection-pair.

Talking about Winter - I adored the scenes with her and Scarlet! Their friendship is the most wonderful thing. I love how they have their own little endearments they call each other. And the scene with the mutants showed both their strengths kind of wonderfully.

Wolf! I loved meeting his mother. Also, tears. For him and for his mother. For everything that happened and happens to his family. Gosh, he has a hard life.

It seems that Kai has grasped his role as Emperor, and finally is being super proactive. He's grown up! Eee I'm so proud of him.

There's so many shippable things in this book, and Cress and Thorne are my favorites. I'm so glad they got their happily ever after finally, and both of them just make my heart so joyful. Cress is just so huggable and adorable (and I relate to her most of all the characters). And every time words come out of Thorne's mouth, they're funny, no matter how serious the situation. I really want this made into a movie or TV show so that I can see Thorne brought to life because - dang!

Oh, and Iko! She requires a book of her own. She doesn't get an official ship but - mwahaha - I have one for her. And I want it to happen!Displaying IMG_8237.JPG

The only think I think that could have been improved a bit was the logistical and political side of things. I'd have liked to hear more about the Cinder's thought process during the rebellion. In Cress, she talked about how she wouldn't want to be a ruler of a country/planet/moon, but by Winter it seems she has fully resigned herself to this fact (even though by the end she does make appropriate governmental modifications). I want to see her struggle with choosing to be a leader, and we didn't get enough of that in my opinion.

But that's just minor stuff. This book was fantabulous and I can't wait for Stars Above in February because I don't want the Lunar Chronicles to end! *cries*

Have you read Winter? Who's your favorite character? (Who's your favorite ship?) 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Beautiful Books #2: SlavicNovel again

So yes, I missed Beautiful Books last month. BUT I WAS WRITING FURIOUSLY so HA I have excuses. NaNoWriMo is the ultimate excuse.


December is much less busy than November, so I will do both last month's and this month's. Here are November's questions! The December official post comes next week. :-)

1. Is the book turning out how you thought it would be, or is it defying your expectations?

Well, yes to both, kind of. Parts of it are exactly as I expected. Parts of it are totally different. Baba Yaga for one is a lot sassier than I expected her to be, which is AWESOME. Damla is a lot sassier too, which is DOUBLE AWESOME. Tania is a lot more obnoxious, which is NOT AWESOME and may get toned down in draft two.
I also thought, because it was so well plotted, there would be no major surprises. BUT WAIT. A random dude showed up and started making eyes at Damla, who isn't supposed to have a love interest. Stay away, Martin! She's a sass-master now.

But a lot of it is just a mish-mash of plots and scenes, and, frankly, right now it feels like a giant mess. Is there a central theme? Is there a proper path of events? Is it the grand epic I imagined? Who knows? Probably not.
But that's the fate of the first draft.

2. What's your first sentence (or paragraph)?

I shared this in my last Snazzy Snippets, actually. (Even though that probably won't be the real beginning in the final version.) So I'll share the first paragraph of Part Two of the book.
Damla looked around the empty alleyway and, with a small grunt of effort, pulled herself onto the balcony above. Pulling out a small, sharp, pin-like tool from her pocket, she knelt down by the lock on the balcony door and bit her lip. The lock was a little more complicated than she’d expected, but it was definitely very old, and so with a few twists of her pin, she heard the satisfying click of it opening.

3. Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you ever tried both methods and how did it turn out?

I am a PLANTSER. A hybrid. Because YES I have tried both methods, and I am about to relate to you the (not so) fascinating tale of how that turned out.

IN THE BEGINNING... I thought I was a hard core planner (even though I wasn't). I would lie on my bed and plan all the novels, and write out extensive plots. But I never finished books. I'd get bored. My first NaNoWriMo novel was partially planned. At about 10,000 words, my plan DIED. So I pantsed the rest and it was awful. "Never again," I said to myself. "I must stick to planning or else it will collapse like The White Rose (aka Sophia's NaNo 2012)."

So I plotted out everything for NaNo2013, which was actually going to be an utter rehaul of a teensy thing I had written in my babyhood called Kings and Traitors. And then, on the evening of October 31st, 2013, a thought struck me. A scene, an image, a character. "Dang, I should write that," I said to myself. So I discarded any thoughts of writing Kings and Traitors that NaNo, and instead entirely pantsed my way through the mad and hilarious mess of a space opera called The Ulianthra. I reached 50,000 words at the climax, which was good, because I had no idea what to write next. So the beautiful horror that is The Ulianthra sits on my computer, unfinished, never to see the light of day.

For NaNo2014, I plotted out EVERYTHING - well, almost everything, except the ending, because I am bad at endings. Which can cause problems. Also, I grew bored of NaNo2014 (which you lovely folks know as VeniceNovel, or Masked Souls), and quit before I reached 10k. Good going, Sophia. (It was my first year of university, cut my some slack!)

And then suddenly, this year, I had an epic plot, with twists and things that ACTUALLY MADE SENSE, and I wrote it out immediately and dove into it just in time for NaNo2015 and then it just worked.

So really, when I say I'm a plantser, what I really mean is I don't know what the heck I'm doing with this noveling thing I just go with what the voices in my head tell me to do.

4. What do you reward yourself with after meeting a goal?

Sleep. All the sleep. Because I usually meet my goal at 11pm at night. (At least that's how it turned out this NaNo.)

5. What do you look for in a name? Do you have themes and where you you find your names?

Ah, names. I have a love-hate relationship with names, and I name my characters a little haphazardly depending on the genre and the story. Some characters have names that Mean Things. For example, apparently Damla means "Water Drop" in Turkish. Others, not so much. In SlavicNovel, many of my secondary characters have names because - oh dang he needs a name that's vaguely Slavic so how about Misha?

6. What is your favorite to write: beginning, middle, or end - and why?

I like middles. But early middles. And beginnings. Because I KNOW how they're going to play out, and can see the entire scene in my head.

7. Who is your current favorite character in your novel?

I knew I liked her, but I didn't know she'd end up being my fave. But she has! Damla has the most perfect mix of sass and badassery combined with a really sweet heart, pretty excellent morals, and a nice dose of common sense. I couldn't ask for a better character!
(Dang, my favorite character isn't my villain? Applause for me. Maybe I'm normal after all.)

8. What kind of things have you researched for this project, and how do you go about researching? (What's the weirdest things you've researched?!)

I reasearch with The Almighty Google, and so far I've researched lots and lots of Turkish culture (and a bit of Slavic culture too, to fill my knowledge gaps). BUT.

The weirdest thing I've ever researched was for this project - mermaid sex. Think about it! Actually, maybe don't. Googling this was an interesting experience, to say the least.

I also had a long discussion with my mother about mermaid sex, nymphomaniacs, and sex slaves. It was surprisingly chill. I wish equally chill mothers upon all you writer friends.

9. Do you write better alone or with others? Do you share your work or prefer to keep it to yourself?

ALONE. I cannot write when there are people.

And I DO share work - I have been sharing work more lately, actually - but only teeny snippets. No big works. It's still super scary! I don't want to share my babies until they're perfect! (And we all know they'll never be perfect.)

10. 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!

I don't have super set writing habits. I particularly enjoy writing on a certain couch in my front room, though (featuring our just-decorated tree):

Displaying IMG_8254.JPG
Displaying IMG_8254.JPG
It's such a nice little sunny spot during the day! And the couch is super comfy and reclines with a foot-rest. <3

I write best in the afternoon, I think, but rarely do I actually write then. I usually end up writing in the evening or early in the morning on the train to school.

NO MUSIC ONLY SILENCE and the occasional coffeeshop chatter if I'm feeling like it.

I eat whatever my mom gives me when she fears for my survival because I've been sitting in the same position on the aforementioned couch for too long. Usually it's fruit, nuts, and cheese. Sometimes it's tea. And on lucky days, my dad throws me a chocolate bar.

What are your writing snacks? Are you a plotter or a pantser? And what's the weirdest thing you've ever researched for a novel? Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

November // NaNo + Denmark

November seems to be the month when everything happens to stop me from blogging: NaNoWriMo, exams, preparing for finals in December. So that's why I was only able to blog twice in November. I also didn't read very many blogs, which is why I'm skipping the "What I Liked," and "What You Liked" parts of the recap this month.


I haven't finished the story yet, but it's coming along marvelously. I hope to finish it by the end of December, and then have it ready for edits in the New Year. Have I mentioned how much I FREAKING LOVE THIS NOVEL? It's my fave.

Now that NaNo's over, it's time for some BIG NEWS.

I am going to Denmark for four months!

If you've been following me on Twitter, you probably know already, but yes - I am going to be studying abroad in Copenhagen for the spring semester (January - May)! It's kind of freaky, but also overwhelmingly exciting. I know I'm going to miss my Chicago friends... but COPENHAGEN. EUROPE. BEAUTIFUL DANISH PEOPLE.

So what does this mean for Ravens and Writing Desks? 
First of all, I'm going to keep blogging while I'm in Denmark, for sure. No question. BUT, I'm going to be blogging much less (ha, much less than two posts a month? Nice one, Sophia). So if you would like to write some guest posts for me in the coming five months, let me know! Comment below, or send me a twitter DM, and we'll coordinate stuff! 

Another thing: I'm going to be blogging my adventures! Not here, obviously - this blog is relegated to book stuff. But if you hop on over to Seeking Souls, you'll be able to follow my traipsings through Europe. Check it out! I'd take you all in my suitcase, but since I can't, taking you along virtually with a travel blog was the second best option.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi - I rarely read graphic novels but this one looks lovely (and I've heard excellent things about it too)

(Photos link to their instagram versions.)


(Yes, I met Marissa Meyer. AGAIN. It was epic.)

How was your November, my lovely friends? Tell me in the comments! Did you do NaNoWriMo? If you won, congrats! If you didn't congrats! You wrote words, which is more than I can say for myself, most days. Have you read Winter yet? And - would you like to guest post for me? Please say yes. I will give you all the chocolate fudge. You will have a mountain of chocolate fudge. *puppy dog eyes*

Friday, November 6, 2015

Snazzy Snippets // NaNoWriMo Edition

I'm fully into NaNoWriMo, and this year it's coming along marvelously! I'm steadily a day ahead in my word count, which I am OVERJOYED with. And I'm loving my novel. It has no title yet, but it does have a pinterest, which you can check out if you'd like.

snazzy snippets graphic

Snazzy Snippets is a (bimonthly?) linkup hosted by Emily and Alyssa. It's a chance for us to share our writing, which I rarely do (because my babiiiiieeees are preciiiousssssss). So what better time to join in than NaNoWriMo? (Also, that means this snippet is pure first draft, so not superbly beautiful. Bear with me.)

I'm sharing a snippet that falls under the second prompt: a snippet featuring a friend/family member of your protagonist. And, since my protagonist obviously has no friends (as you will find out from the snippet), you get to meet her grandfather!


Tania,” said her grandfather, slowly stumping over to the cupboard and pulling out the tea. “What was all that outside?”
Tania frowned, and said nothing, instead reaching for the cat that rubbed up against her ankles. She tried to pick it up but it scowled and dashed off. 
“Stupid cat,” she muttered. “Make up your mind.”
“Tania,” her grandfather repeated, a little more intently. “Leave the cat alone. What happened outside? Marika is a nice girl and I don’t want you getting into fights.”
Tania flopped down onto the chair by the door and closed her eyes. 
“Marika is a judgmental harpy, and the rest of this village is just like her.”
Her grandfather sighed and turned to the fire. “Honeybee. Help me make tea?” he asked, and Tania pushed the stray hairs that had escaped her braid out of her eyes and got up. As she hooked the tea kettle onto the metal rod over the fireplace, she felt her grandfather’s calloused hand touch her shoulder.
“Were they talking about your mother?” he asked gently.
“They didn’t expressly say it, but I could feel they wanted to,” she said, turning to face him. “It’s not my fault my mother couldn’t have children. Why do I have to live with her twisted decisions?”
“You are the reason for her ‘twisted’ decisions,” said her grandfather. “She loved you so much that she was willing to danger her life for the chance of giving birth to you.”
“So I was born. And then she died,” Tania replied bitterly. “All her efforts to have a child were pointless, because then she didn’t even get to enjoy me or take care of me. And I’m left with them.” She waved her hand dismissively towards the street. 
The old man sighed and sat down creakily into the chair by the fire. “Are you really having that much trouble with your friends, honeybee?”
Tania scoffed and threw a twig into the fire, making it crackle. “Friends. They hate me. They think I’m cursed. I don’t have friends.” She wished she could throw this whole damn village into the fire and watch it crackle. Then she’d live with her grandfather alone – and in peace.

So there's that! Share your snippets with me! How's your NaNo going?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

October // NaNo prep (+ not much else)

Sheesh October was such a busy month! I barely posted anything, I read half a book (!!!!), I reviewed absolutely nothing, and I'm super behind on responding to comments and commenting on other blogs. However - I do have a giant plot for my NaNovel and got midterm grades of A on all my classes. So not entirely a slack-off month.

I went to an excellent Halloween party at school and dressed up as quite an epic pirate (if I do say so myself). I would post pictures but all the pics I have include school-friends and I do not have their approval to post online. So you'll just have to take my word for it when I say that I looked dang good. 

What else did I do in October? Hm. I'm not sure if there's anything blog-worthy that happened. My future study-abroad/adventure plans got more solidified, but they're still not 100% set, so you'll have to wait for next month's recap for the big announcement! But it's coming - with guest posting opportunities, so stay tuned!

Oh, and remember how I said my sister was considering making a blog about food? Well it is officially Happening - but not until Christmas break when she has some free time from her busy schedule. She's applying to universities now and is going mildly insane (though today she received her first acceptance email!). 

Even though I've had a slow blogging month in October, I can't promise I'll be much better in November, thanks to NaNoWriMo. However, I am hoping to get the following things posted on this blog:
~the November Beautiful Books post (read my October one and meet my NaNovel!)
~at least ONE review (hopefully two, but that may be too much to hope for).
~the writing tag that Katie tagged me for that I promised I would do two weeks ago.
~NaNo progress posts (at least two).

Now that I look over that list, I may be pushing it. Eh, it's good to have goals.

Very small - all came from the free-books-library-discards shelf at my train station. (I adore that shelf so much!) 

Ordeal by Innocence and The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie

So I took exactly ZERO photos this month on my instagram, and I was tagged for SO MANY tags there too. Oh well. Maybe I'll do better this month? (I'm going to see Marissa Meyer again (!!!!!!!!) so at least that photo's happening.)

Everyone's telling you how to prepare for NaNoWriMo, but let Shim at Sketches and Scribbles explain how to be UNPREPARED

Bennet at My Sky of Paper and Ink writes about Slaying the First Draft and how to start writing when we're faced with that blank page.

And Maggie Stiefvater tweeted this and MONDAY CANNOT COME QUICKLY ENOUGH:

So, as I said, I only posted three times this month, but you all seemed to like my responses to the #WritersLife tag, where I proclaim my writer's secrets and woes.

Lovelies! Tell me about your October. Did you dress up for Halloween? Did you plan your NaNovel? (If you're doing NaNo, friend me!) ARE YOU AS EXCITED ABOUT THE RAVEN KING COVER REVEAL AS I AM?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Beautiful Books #1: SlavicNovel


Well, it's that time again - Cait and Sky switch up their normal routine and change Beautiful People into Beautiful Books in preparation for NaNoWriMo!

Today I introduce you to what I am (rather unaffectionately and boringly) calling SlavicNovel:

1. How did you come up with the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

Approximately... three? four? years ago, I was thinking about my culture, and how fun it would be to write a novel about the creepy dark things of Ukrainian folklore. I was also thinking about how little I remembered of the folktales my grandmother would tell me when I was little, and how the only ones I remembered involved (a) so many anthropomorphic animals or (b) retellings of western European fairy tales with a bit of Slavic culture thrown in. Someday, I thought, I'll write a story about a girl who disappears into the forest and has to face the demons and mermaids and Baba Yagas that live there.

And then I forgot about it.

Approximately... two? three? months ago, Cait mentioned she was writing a Slavic fantasy. Yay, more Slavic fantasy in this world! I thought. Then, more recently, she mentioned she needed culture-help, and I inundated her with a rather long comment, since, if you ask me, I WILL SHARE THE STORY OF MY PEOPLE. I mean, seriously, cultures are cool, and I love sharing mine (and hearing about yours).

And then I thought - wait. I know a crap ton about Slavic culture. I've been wanting to write some high fantasy for a while now. And I still have that tiny plot bunny hopping around in my brain whispering darkness! forests! magic! evil! folklore!

And NaNo was approaching. So here I am.

2. Why are you excited to write this novel?

Many reasons:
- MY CULTURE (see above)
- Dark magic
- Badass women
- Sexy mermaids (i.e. badass women)
- Witches (i.e. dark magic combined with badass women)
- Warrior queens (i.e. badass women)
- Lots of Ukrainian-style food (pierogie, fluffy bread, cheese-butter, and possibly the only delicious ways to eat beets and cabbage)
- A splash of Turkish culture (which I have no idea about HALP)
- Clever thieves (i.e. badass women)
- A dark sexy immortal villain

Also, I plotted out approximately 80% of this novel in a single weekend. This is a RECORD for me, people.

3. What is your novel about, and what is the title?

Well, this novel is about the things I bulleted above. It also involves people falling in love with the wrong people (and occasionally with the right people), a neglected youngest prince, and a lesbian mermaid who wants to seduce women, instead of men like the rest of the mermaids do.

I'm gradually realizing I don't really have a good summary, just a lot of exciting components.

I also have no title. The Raven King would actually be quite a perfect title, no lie, but I'm not trying to compete with Maggie Stiefvater here.

4. Sum up your characters in one word each. (Feel free to add pictures!)

Characters are possibly my favoritest thing in the world so I kind of went overboard on this one and threw nine at you. Enjoy!

Tanya (my darling MC) - confused
Baba Yaga (Slavic Folklore) is from the Slavic regions and is sometimes viewed as an evil witch or a female demon.  She is supposed to travel around flying in a black cauldron or on a freaky animated house that traveled on chicken legs!  She would prey upon travelers and other unsuspecting folk with her huge mouth that was reported to stretch to the corners of the earth.  Her form was that of an elderly wicked looking woman.  As a side note the word 'baba' in Russian is short for grandma.    ...:
Baba Yaga (old lady of the forest) - manipulative
medieval warrior  vLadimir KALINSKi:
Oriana (warrior queen) - blunt (in word and deed)
Middle Eastern Beauty 1 by Ryan Bayer on 500px:
Damla (adorable thief) - underestimated
Stefan (neglected youngest prince) - enthusiastic
Koshiy (SEXY VILLAIN) - perverted (what? he is! the creep)
Rusalka (mermaid queen - aka SEXY VILLAIN #2) - vengeful
Laryssa (lesbian mermaid) - longing
A man's age is something impressive, it sums up his life:  maturity reached slowly and against many obstacles, illnesses cured, griefs and despairs overcome, and unconscious risks taken; maturity formed through so many desires, hopes, regrets, forgotten things, loves.  A man's age represents a fine cargo of experiences and memories.  ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:
Tania's grandpa  (as yet unnamed) - solid

5. Which character(s) do you think will be your favorite to write? Tell us about them!

Laryssa's my sad little lesbian mermaid, and I'm very excited to write her. However. I think my absolute favorites are going to be Oriana (my badass warrior queen) and Damla (my quiet, sweet, adorable, cunning thief). Actually, I think my favorite thing to write is going to be the dialogue and scenes involving them both. They have some fun conflicts in store - both with words and with weapons.

Stefan is adorable and mildly snarky too, so he may quickly rise in my favor. We shall see.

6. What is your protagonist's goal, and what stands in the way?

My protagonist is Tania, and she's possibly the only character I don't have fully fleshed out. She's a little foggy right now, but ultimately, she wants the safe adventures of the fairy tales - as in, adventure without danger, where she can return to her grandfather and tell him all about it. (She doesn't realize that yet.)

Physically, she wants to find Koshiy, steal the golden box which holds the secret to his immortality, and bring it back to Baba Yaga, so that Baba Yaga will clear her of her commitment to work for Baba Yaga. It's complicated, and all kind of goes back to Tania's mother not realizing what happens when you make deals with the dark things of the forest.

A lot clearly stands in the way. Koshiy himself, for one. Also, a lot of politics surrounding Koshiy - both magical and non-magical politics - that Tania doesn't know about. There are many people/things who want Koshiy dead, but they can't agree on how/who gets to kill him/why the heck this mortal girl is involved in the whole mess.

Also, her grandfather can't really take care of himself so she can't be away from home for too long. So many complications.

7. Where is your novel set? (Show us pictures if you have them!)

It's kind of a fictionalized version of Ukraine/the Black Sea/Turkey. I'm slowly making a crappy map on microsoft paint. Here's what I have so far.

Told you it's crappy. But hey, it's functional.

8. What is the most important relationship your character has?

I'm guessing this is about the main character? Tania is super close to her grandfather, but he's not present for a lot of the book, even though his well-being is the driving action for a lot of Tania's decisions. A second relationship that is important for Tania is a growing friendship between her and a stray prince named Stefan who is really not cool with being a youngest son and so decided to run off.

Everyone in Tania's village is kind of suspicious of her since her mother had dealings with the forest folk and Baba Yaga. Because of this Tania has put up barriers to close relationships in order to stop herself from being rejected. Friendships aren't an option in Tania's mind-world, so when Stefan comes along it really requires a lot of lessons to be learned on her part.

(I'm still deciding if I ship them or no... Do I want it to remain a friendship? Hmmm we shall see.)

9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

She has a friend now - yay! She discovers that her agenda isn't the only one - her "quest" overlaps with someone else's "quest." And as cliche as this is: she learns teamwork actually works and sometimes working alone can be selfish.

10. What themes are in your book? How do you want your readers to feel when the story is over?

Some potential themes (though these are hard to determine for me before the book is actually written):
- selfishness destroys things
- revenge destroys things
- breaches of trust destroy things
- racisim and ethnocentrism destroy things
- don't destroy things.
- dark things have reasons for being dark
- there are always two sides to the story - sometimes three

By the end of the book I want readers to be interested in Slavic (and potentially Turkish*) culture. And I want them to feel mildly creeped out but simultaneously alert for adventure every time they enter a forest.

*if I actually do the Turkish parts right OMG HELP ME GUYS SERIOUSLY

BONUS! Tell us your 3 best pieces of advice for others trying to write a book in a month.

Okay *deep breath* here goes:

1. DON'T EDIT - yet. I feel like everyone says this but it's worth saying again. November is for word-spewing. December is for editing. Repeat after me. DECEMBER IS FOR EDITING. If you don't write the thing you can't edit the thing.

2. Tell the people you see habitually that you are doing This Thing. Then maybe they'll forgive you if you disappear from all social life for a month to write your NaNovel. But seriously - it's awesome to have a support group that understands and can encourage you. My dad is totally into me doing NaNo and is the best cheer-er-on-er. My mom is a bit more hesitant but is cool with it as long as I tell her I won't let my grades fall and I won't destroy my eyes by staring at a computer screen too long. So if I disappear into my room for an hour or two - she knows what I'm doing, and will bring me grapes and cheese and water. That got off track - basically the people you tell will either support you (great!) or know to avoid you (still great!).

3. Consider taking a social media break. Yes, I know it's hard because part of the NaNo experience is Twitter with it's word sprints and encouragement, and the NaNo forums with a little bit of everything lovely. But think about assigning a certain amount of time where you turn off the wifi and just write. After your time is up, you can hop back onto Twitter or the forums and announce your newly-increased wordcount - won't that feel lovely?

SO FRIENDS! Tell me about you writing projects! Are you doing NaNo? (Add me as a buddy if you are.) Do you have any advice for other NaNoers? And do you have any insights into the Turkish culture? (seriously I need help here so badly.) 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

#WritersLife Tag // secrets! woes! grasshoppers!


Last month, Cait at Paper Fury tagged me for this lovely thing. Time to talk about the struggles and joys of a #writerslife!

WRITE FUEL: What do you eat/drink while writing? 

I will probably eat anything that is placed in front of me. Seriously. I am not a picky eater, and when I am in creative mode (or just reading a good book), I sometimes forget that food is a thing that is necessary for survival. My mother kindly saves me from a death of starvation or thirst, and brings me water, fruits, and occasionally lovely tea. What will I do when I move out of the house?

WRITE SOUNDS: What do you listen to while writing?

The sweet sound of silence. When I am listening to music, my brain says, "OH! This music is stupendous! Listen to the nuances! Listen to the instrumentals! Listen to the lyrics! Don't pay attention to anything other than the music!"

And thus I cannot be productive in anything other than silence. Coffee-shop chatter, though? That's totally fine.

WRITE VICE: What's your most debilitating distraction?

Oh, I have plenty. But my most debilitating one is probably plot bunnies and character ideas for new novels. I hop around from idea to idea like a spastic grasshopper.

WRITE HORROR: What's the worst thing that's ever happened to you while writing?

I... don't have a lot of bad things that have happened to me, luckily. No mysterious losses of writing. But the worst think is probably some horrific cases of writer's block I get, especially when it comes to plotting. My mother sometime finds me collapsed on the floor with a piece of paper and a pen, trying to scribble some kind of plot diagram and bemoaning wildly that I somehow made the younger son ten years older than the elder. (Note: I am not exaggerating. This is 100% true. Ask my mother, she will corroborate.)

But that just comes with the territory of being a writer. So, no, so far, nothing too bad.

WRITE JOY: What's the best thing that's ever happened while writing or how do you celebrate small victories?

Here are a few best things:
  • I finished a NaNovel in 2012 for the first time. This was the first time I had actually finished a novel in general. So many tears and misspellings and magic.
  • I wrote a flash fiction story two months ago -and it was actually good! I seem to never be able to write short stories of any kind. 
  • I plotted 80% of a novel in a weekend (two weeks ago, actually). For those of you who don't know, I am possibly a contender for Worst Plotter Ever. My (rather excellent) characters wander around in a haze of uncertainty. So this is Very Momentous.
Here are ways I celebrate:
  • Dance around the house.
  • Express joy to my (kindly obliging) family members.
  • Grin stupidly for the rest of the day.
  • Plan my book signing events for when I am rich and famous and beloved by all.
WRITE CREW: Whom do you communicate with or not communicate with while writing?

I tweet a bit. I express my general woes (usually concerning plotting) to my (now not so obliging) family members. But that's basically it. I have no writing buddies of any kind.

(However, I now have a few friends in college who are writer-nerds and fangirls and with whom I can discuss my writerly plans. I'm even attempting to tempt one to join the madness of NaNoWriMo this year... and apparently I got her out of a two-year-long writer's block so she at least owes me an effort to try NaNo, right?)

WRITE SECRET: What's your writing secret to success or hidden flaw?

But for you, my lovelies, I will reveal ALL.

Here are my secrets to success:
  • Carry a notebook around EVERYWHERE. Scribble plot twists, character inspiration, disjointed scenes. Draw maps. Sketch 
  • Use your favorite writers as INSPIRATION. Not as comparisons. The instant you start comparing yourself to published authors (especially your favorites), you have condemned yourself to the Pit of Despair. 
  • Eat a lot of chocolate. Good chocolate. Quality is key. You cannot get writer's block if you are filled with chocolate. This is a proven scientific fact and I know it because I am a pre med student and therefore knowledgeable about science and stuff. 
Here are my hidden (or not so hidden) flaws:
  • My plots are CRAP and make no sense. 
  • Sometimes they are entirely nonexistant. My poor characters!
  • I have never written a novel that I want to edit. (Hopefully this NaNo will change this.)
  • I hop, as I said, from plot bunny to plot bunny like a spastic grasshopper.
WRITE-SPIRATION: What always makes you productive?

Having a lot of homework. What is the correllation? I do not know. I always get super inspired when I have absolutely no time to write. 

Plot twist inspiration also help LOADS, obviously. But those are few and far between.

WRITE PEEVE: What's one thing writers do (or you do) that's annoying?

So I know I am very annoying when I bombard my mother with tales of my writerly woes regarding a certain WIP, and then suddenly the next month I'm telling her about my new shiny plot bunny.

"Don't you think you should finish some novel sometime?" she says, kindly, but obviously annoyed at my grasshopper tendencies. 

She has a point. 

WRITE WORDS: Share one sentence from a project, past or present.

I really really wish I could share something from my 80% plotted NaNovel 2015. But clearly that hasn't been written yet, so I will share something from NaNovel 2013, which I entirely pantsed, and then hid on December 1st. I rediscovered it a few weeks ago, and read it in all it's 50,000, unfinished glory. It's awful. But it's also wonderful, in an odd, messed up way. (It also has more sass and jokes than any of my other novels combined.)

I'm going to be a rebel, like Cait is, and share more than just ONE sentence. 

So that's that! Off I go on my spastic grasshopper to plot my NaNovel for next month!

Tell me about your writing life! Share a favorite sentence you've written recently (or two)(or three) in the comments! And whether or not you are one of the people below, feel free to do this tag!

Katie at Spiral Bound
Annie at Curious Wren
Skye at Ink Castles