Beautiful Books: NaNo Update (The Library in the Stars)

NaNo update time!

I’ve been writing The Library in the Stars for NaNoWriMo and I thought  it was about time to do a sort of update on it — so fortunately there’s another edition of Beautiful Books this month (cutting it close on the timing) to help my tired brain out with that. XD

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Beautiful Books is a linkup for writers hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further in. Join in the linkup if you like!

1. Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?

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Well, I hit 50,000 words on The Library in the Stars on Sunday night and therefore finished NaNoWriMo a few days early, so… I’d say my mental state and my novel are both doing pretty good. XD I do seem to have a cold (UGH), and I still have at least five (probably very long) chapters left to finish the novel, and the book itself so far is a confusing plot-hole riddled nonsensical mess, but in spite of all of that I’m pretty enormously ecstatic to have completed my 7th NaNo!

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

lscoverThe first time the doorbell rang, the sixteen-year-old Coltridge twins simultaneously looked up from where they were sprawled comfortably with their very different books on opposite sides of their shared rooms at the university.

Veronica, surfacing from her Galaxy Timeline History 0000-5300 textbook, dropped her book onto her desk on top of a volume of Science and made for the door, nimbly dodging stacks of her brother’s novels on the floor in her way. “I’ve got it!”

Brendan, from his low over-stuffed couch in the corner, eyed the doorway curiously over the top of the book he was reading as she pulled the door open.

–from The Library in the Stars

3. Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

Drayke Essengale (space elf) and Damian (shadowy hero) are currently fighting for that position. I love them both a lot. <3

4. What do you love about your novel so far?

lswinThe characters. The fantasy in space. Getting to write scenes from several different ideas that I’ve had for a long time, all in one story.

All of the things?

(Except the plot holes and monstrous first-draft-ness of it, but shush, we’re not thinking of those things right now.)

5. Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_winnerProbably.

Mostly missing a word or forgetting where a sentence was going and not really completing it because it got so long…

I also one time wrote Drayke when I meant Damian… Whoops.

#ThePerilsOfCharactersWithTheSameStartingLetters

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

They all have their pros and cons. I honestly don’t know.

7. 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!

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I don’t really have “writing habits”… which is part of my problem. XD

I don’t eat while I write. I write best in the evening when I have no distractions… which sometimes translates to VERY LATE. I wish I was a morning writer but that didn’t really happen this NaNo.

I have been listening to music and it’s been helpful. Mostly a few songs from Skillet’s latest album, “Unleashed” (Feel Invincible, Stars, and I Want To Live), some songs from the Newsboys’ album “Restart” because it’s fast with a good beat (That’s How You Change the World, Restart, Go Glow), and “The Lord of the Dance” soundtrack because it’s epic and perfect. <3

8. How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?

I do pretty much write alone in general, but my family will usually hear about how it’s going (and cheer me on accordingly; they’re amazing) and I’ll have a sibling or two read the chapters as I write them, and I do chat about how it’s going with a couple of online friends throughout the month. Mostly, though, the loner thing.

(Pretty much: I’m Batman. Or Tare. Tare works alone too… *cough* But even Batman needs his Alfred and co., and even Tare needs his Chess Club.)

9. What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?

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This NaNo, it’s been my wordcount goals and the helpful Scrivener progress bars each day… so mostly the determination to stay more or less on track and get my words done each day.

I’m verrrry pleased to announce that I actually stayed on track and never fell behind par on my wordcount ONCE this month! This is big news. In 7 years of NaNos, this is my first time to stay on track the entire month. :D

10. What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

Not sure if they’re my top three, but off the top of my head:

  1. Keep writing: don’t give up.
  2. Wordsprints! (And fast music for them.) I wrote SO much my last NaNo day this year by using the awesome wordsprint feature on the NaNo site. SO MANY WORDS. Never underestimate the power of setting a timer and writing the whole time with fast music.
  3. Don’t be afraid — if you’re afraid of the next scene, just cheat. XD

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There you are. My NaNo update. Now excuse me while I ignore the fact that I still have probably a quarter of The Library in the Stars to write to finish it, and go burrow somewhere comfy and read away my cold to avoid feeling miserable and possibly nap for a week BECAUSE I FINISHED NANO! I’m very happy and looking forward to reading other books now that I don’t have to write my own at the moment. The books are caaaalling me…

Behind the Scenes: Writing Tag

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I was tagged by Madeline @ Short and Snappy and Abi @ Rambling Writer quite some time ago for the Behind the Scenes Writer’s Tag (here and here) — thanks ever so much to both of you! ^_^ (And everyone, do check out their blogs!)

I may have done this one or something like it before but I honestly don’t remember so I’m doing it regardless. XD Because who doesn’t enjoy a look behind the scenes at how writers write? And it seemed an appropriately writerly kind of post for NaNo. ;)

Here we go!

1. Is there a certain snack you like to eat while writing?

I don’t eat while I write because I can’t multitask like that. XD I don’t even usually drink a hot drink because if I’m writing I forget about it and it goes cold… (And I don’t have a Meridian to remind me about it like Teague does; not that he notices…)

2. When do you normally write? Night, afternoon, or morning?

Usually at night. Unfortunately. *cough* It makes for some late nights, I’m afraid… But it seems to be when my brain wakes up enough to be creative.

3. Where do you write?

At my laptop at my desk in my room, usually. Sometimes on my bed or in my big chair though.

4. How often do you write a new novel?

Bahahaha! *collapses from laughter* Um. Yeah, I’m just going to pretend this question is hilarious in order not to get bothered by it. XD I’ve written 3 complete novels so far, over several years, and they were all at random intervals and took totally different amounts of times. There is no “usual” with this odd duck of a writer.

5. Do you listen to music while you write?

Sometimes, if I remember to turn it on (see above snacks question).

6. What do you write on? Laptop or paper?

Laptop if it’s actual writing. My writing notebook if it’s notes or small amounts of plotting.

7. Is there a special ritual before/after you write?

I usually have to be in my room with no one around, and the doors closed, with no distractions and some idea of what I want to write. …This suddenly explains how little I get written. O_O A revelation, I tell you! Moving on… I sometimes turn music on, or go find my plotting notes for that bit, or read the last part I wrote. Other than that, not really.

As for an afterward ritual… not in particular, unless it counts to get up, stretch, stare at the clock as if it’s gone insane because where on EARTH did all that time go, and wander off to get a drink and possibly find some poor soul and make them read my latest scribbles. ;)

8. What do you do to get in the mood to write?

I only wish I knew. >.> I’ve discovered walks are helpful, though. Also going to bed, because that’s when my brain wakes up and wants to keep me awake and make me go write when I want to sleep, because it’s helpful like that…

9. What is always near the place you write?

My laptop? Maybe my notebook and pen. And my phone? Or a glass of water? I don’t know, not always anything particular. *shrug*

10. Do you have a reward system for your word count?

Not usually. It tends to be its own reward, I guess. ;)

11. Is there anything about your writing process that others might not know about?

I usually have to play the entire scene out in my head a time or two before I can write it.

I also have discovered a helpful phenomenon which is something I call “draft-zero scene-plotting” wherein I just scrawl out the rough scene and dialog without punctuation/capitalization/proper sentences, in order to get the scene down on the page in its roughest form, so that I can then elaborate on it and flesh it out into real writing. That way I don’t have to worry about being “perfect” at first. It’s sort of an extreme sort of plotting, crossed with a very sloppy first draft technique. I don’t use it all the time, but when I do it seems to work wonders.

Speak to me, writers! What are your writing habits? If you’re doing NaNo, how are you doing? (Three weeks down, guys! We can do iiiit!) Did you enjoy this peek behind the scenes? Feel free to take the tag and do it yourself!

The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson (Book Review)

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The Silent Songbird

by Melanie Dickerson

Young Adult / Christian / Historical Romance / Fairy Tale Retelling / The Little Mermaid / Medieval


_225_350_book-2070-coverEvangeline is gifted with a heavenly voice, but she is trapped in a sinister betrothal—until she embarks on a daring escape and meets brave Westley le Wyse. Can he help her discover the freedom to sing again?

Desperate to flee a political marriage to her cousin King Richard II’s closest advisor, Lord Shiveley—a man twice her age with shadowy motives—Evangeline runs away and joins a small band of servants journeying back to Glynval, their home village.

Pretending to be mute, she gets to know Westley le Wyse, their handsome young leader, who is intrigued by the beautiful servant girl. But when the truth comes out, it may shatter any hope that love could grow between them.

More than Evangeline’s future is at stake as she finds herself entangled in a web of intrigue that threatens England’s monarchy. Should she give herself up to protect the only person who cares about her? If she does, who will save the king from a plot to steal his throne?

Published November 8, 2016, by Thomas Nelson


Links — find The Silent Songbird on:

Thomas Nelson | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Goodreads


My Review

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5starratingAnother enchanting, romantic Young Adult fairytale retelling from Melanie Dickerson!

Evangeline, a young woman with a beautiful voice (and the ward of King Richard), is kept in a castle but longs to go out into the world. She finds her chance when she must escape marriage to a horrible man, and meets a caring young man named Westley le Wyse. Deception, scheming villains, and misunderstandings all stand in her way, as she tries to escape her fate and find love and a deeper faith in God.

I was curious how a retelling of The Little Mermaid would work with no magic and not even a mermaid, but it worked wonderfully in this book! It was so fun to pick out the references and see how the retelling wove through the story in surprising yet fitting ways.

The plot was so interesting and really kept me on my toes, wondering what would happen next and how it would all work out. It had a lot going on, was exciting and sweet by turns, and kept me totally absorbed in the lives of these characters, who felt so real. I loved them!

Evangeline was a good heroine, who I quite liked. Westley was the best—endearing, noble, kind, with a sense of humor, though also conflicted about a lot of things going on, and quite energetic which for some reason was really cool. I liked him a lot. I also love their names! (Speaking of the name Westley… I couldn’t help grinning when Eva told Westley “as you wish” once. I loved that! :D)

The romance was so sweet and beautiful—loved it—and the Christian elements were also lovely.

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Hagenheim books! Only missing The Golden Braid…

The other characters were great to read about as well: Lord and Lady le Wyse, Westley’s parents—his mother was so nice, and his father was simply awesome. Reeve Folsham, too. He was a gruff character who surprised me by really growing on me. The rest of the characters were all well-written.

The whole book, in fact, was written excellently. And I loved the setting, which I felt so immersed in: the medieval English countryside and castles! So awesome. <3 I also loved that King Richard was in the story!

The book started out a little predictably (heroine supposed to marry old, ugly, evil man, and determined to escape), so that part sounded somewhat like other books (but I suppose that couldn’t be helped, and it quickly moved on to become surprising and intriguing). Otherwise, I didn’t have any real complaints and I just really enjoyed it. :)

I’m aware this is a sort of sequel to The Merchant’s Daughter by the same author, which I’ve not read yet, and I can tell that anyone who read it will love reading this one and seeing references and characters from before. But The Silent Songbird also stands alone, and my lack of familiarity with the first one didn’t take away from my enjoyment of reading this. In fact, it’s made me even more excited to go back and read The Merchant’s Daughter, very soon, to read the story of Westley’s parents!

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Three generations of le Wyse brides! ;)

Whether you’re a long-time fan of Melanie Dickerson’s novels, or thinking of trying one for the first time, I highly recommend picking up The Silent Songbird! It’s one of my favorites of her books so far, and I’m eagerly awaiting her next release. :)


I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Retellings, anyone? I know I certainly can’t resist reading them. XD Have you ever read a retelling of The Little Mermaid?

#DescribeYourWIPinThreeWords Tag

#DescribeYourWIPinThreeWords

#DescribeYourWIPinThreeWords

Quite some time ago, the lovely Rebekah Hendrian (@booklass13) tagged me for a writing tag on Twitter, #DescribeYourWIPinThreeWords, which is exactly what it sounds like. I promptly did not do it, due to not knowing which WIP to try. So I thought I’d turn it into a tag on my blog and expand it.

I decided I’d take a dozen of my WIPs (don’t worry, I’ve only started half of them; the others are in plotting mode) and do all of them with three words each.

It’s really difficult, by the way, so I don’t know how well I did . . . But I tried and it’s all in fun anyway. ;)

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The Secret of Kedran’s Wood

Winter, doubt, friendship.

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The Other Half of Everything

Writer, worlds, siblings.

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The Invisible Mask

Secrets, mansions, gentlemen.

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Heartseeker

Heartless love. Bard.

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Song of a Pirate

Memory, sea, selkies.

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Hairdo Havoc

Bizarre. Traveler. Humor.

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The Silver Forest

Curse. Faes. Princesses.

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The Siren and the Skyship

Steampunk. Love. Tea.

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The Library in the Stars (NaNo 2016)

Time, minds, space.

Once Upon a November

Magic, writing, pumpkins.

From That Shadowy Land

Changelings, shadows, Tamlin.

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The Princes of Starrellia

Adventure, princes, bears.

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So there you have it! What do you think?? Also how would you describe your WIP in 3 words?

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October 2016

Whew. October was at least as busy as I expected it to be, and largely consisted of much pre-NaNo running around. I’m sure there were other things in there too but they may have been lost behind the madness. Ahem.

Writing

lscoverMostly what I did, writing-wise, in October was — surprise — plotting The Library in the Stars for NaNo! Not entirely plotted, sadly, but we do what we can.

I also, as I mentioned, started trying Scrivener for the first time and may or may not have TOTALLY FALLEN COMPLETELY IN LOVE WITH IT. Ahem. Not that I’m excited about it or anything. Not at all. *coughcough* Waiting to see if I enjoy writing in it during all of NaNo before passing final judgement on it, but I definitely like the organizational aspects of it.

Snippets

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None from October, but Sarah asked if I could share some snippets, so here are a few from the other month, from The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (KW2) — enjoy! :)

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Reading

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Despite NaNo-prep insanity, I still managed to get a few (awesome) books read last month!

A couple of small books: I’d been wanting to read more Neil Gaiman, so Odd and the Frost Giants happened: strange but okay (maybe 3 or 4 stars? The only one of the month which wasn’t SUPERB. But still enjoyed). I was thrilled to find another Moomin book which I hadn’t read, and LOVED IT! It may be my favorite Moomin book yet. ^_^

Then I’m still working through Stephen R. Lawhead’s Bright Empires series and enjoying it IMMENSELY. Seriously, I just love these books so muuuch and I need to read the final book ASAP! <3 Aaaand obviously I positively adored An Earthly King judging by my review, so. ;)

Much delightfully awesome reading going on this month!

Blogging

Posts around here:

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Reviews on my book blog:

Watching

  • Ant-Man — I finally saw this one! Hurray! Not my favorite Marvel movie ever, but I really enjoyed it a ton. XD So much fun!
  • Big Hero 6 — Part of it was sad… but otherwise a lot of fun and a very cute movie. ^_^ Much adorbz.
  • starwarsrebels

    (My buddies. ^_^)

    Star Wars: Rebels (Season 2) — For most of this, I really enjoyed the second season (though not quite as much as I loved the first season) and just had so much fun hanging out with my Rebels character buddies… until the VERY END of Season 2, like the last couple of episodes, when certain things happened and are starting to happen which are 1000000% NOT OKAY. I’m very much an angry camper at this point. *glowers* So yeah, in my opinion, the last few episodes positively DID NOT HAPPEN. So there. Humph. (I do highly recommend the first season, but if you’re going to watch this one, don’t watch the last two or three episodes. Just. Don’t. -_-)

  • Emma (2009 BBC miniseries) — I’ve heard great things of this one, from many people, so it was fun to finally see it! Definitely enjoyable. :) I really liked the amount of time it had to really show the whole story. :D Much fun. <3
  • Emma (1996* TV movie with Kate Beckinsale & Mark Strong) — I’d actually watched this one before, in fact before reading the book (fortunately I hardly remembered it, so I was able to enjoy reading the book for the first time earlier this year). ‘Twas even more fun than before, since I actually knew what was going on. XD
  • Emma (1996* with Gwyneth Paltrow & Jeremy Northam) — …Yes, I did in fact see 3 Emma adaptions this month. *coughcough* What can I say; I recently read the book so I’ve been trying the movie versions. *shrug* This one I was excited to find at a secondhand bookshop, because Jenelle had told me I needed to see it and I couldn’t find it at the library. So I was very glad to get a chance to see it, and it was so much fun! Especially since it had Pepper Potts and Obi-wan Kenobi. *coughcough* Also, I loved this Mr. Knightley (the book version is still my favorite, but this one’s probably second. ;) Though obviously I like ALL the screen versions of Mr. Knightly I’ve seen, because they’re all awesome, just not quite like the Mr. Knightley of the book, who is still a more superior man as one might say… ;)). Oh, and the archery! Fun.

*Because 2 different Emma adaptions coming out in 1996 (one a TV movie, one in theaters) is not confusing at all… >.>

November Plans

Obviously, it’s NaNo (how are we almost a third into the month? o.o), so my plans mostly consist of WRITING ALL THE WORDS!

But I also have a writing-related tag scheduled for each Monday for the next 3 weeks, so that should keep something going on the blog even if I’m not actively posting. ;)

So, that’s what’s up with me — how about yourselves, my roadlings? How was your October? If you’re doing NaNo, how’s that going? If you’re not, what else are you up to? (And I do hope you’re not sick of hearing about NaNo… *coughcough* Sorry about that; I know how one-note the internet can sound during November… >.>) I hope you’re all doing splendidly! <3