A Writing Road’s Beginning

As I mentioned, March 1st marked my 7-year anniversary of writing. I had actually been writing for awhile before that, but that was when I got serious about it.

I remember it vividly…

On that day, I was at Barnes & Noble, and I had brought along the printed copy of the 45 or so pages that formed my first real “book” at that time, and a pencil to make notes on it while I was waiting.

I don’t know what it was about that day…

Maybe it was the story itself, sitting there all nicely printed in my hands, waiting for me to decide what to do with it now that I was stuck.

Maybe it was the fact of being surrounded by books — all that inspiration, those pages between covers that form magical doorways to other worlds.

Maybe it had something to do with the memory of one Fourth of July when I was talking to a random lady and mentioned a story I had started once and given up on. She said that she too had started writing a story when she was young, about fairies, but had never finished. She regretted that, and told me I should go back to that story of mine and, no matter what, to finish it. (That was what made me return to it in the first place. I’m deeply indebted to her, whoever she was.)

Whatever it was, that first day of March in 2007 was the day I decided to be a writer.

That was when I took my pencil to my printed story-attempt and marked everything I needed to change or delete. I made the decision then and there that I was going to rewrite the story and actually finish it. And I did.

I’ve been a writer ever since.

For all you writers out there, when did you start and why?

Meet the Stories

Juggling a stack of books is difficult, and one can only imagine that juggling a stack of books that aren’t written yet would either be impossible or very easy. In truth, it’s somewhere in between.

My silly brain is overly active and constantly overwhelmed with far too many ideas to write. But sometimes an idea reaches a certain stage when it becomes a “story” and at some point (if I have a title for it) I usually put it in my list of “official” stories, which means I’m going to try to write it. Someday.

Unfortunately, I’m by no means a fast writer, so many are going to have to wait quite awhile for me to get to them. But maybe by that time I’ll have amassed enough ideas about it that I can write it. So for some of the more vague ideas I’m in no hurry. I also have a sad tendency not to focus on one story at a time, which makes it an even longer time before I finish anything.

So this post is to “meet” a few of the books I’m writing, have written, or plan to write someday. Since there are so many, a very detailed post would be far too long for anyone to read, so I’m going to try to keep it short. Ish.

My stories — written, unwritten, and in progress — fall into the following categories (not counting fanfiction, old endeavors, and co-writing attempts).

Standalone:
7 novels
4 novellas
11 short stories

Series:
The Chronicles of Starrellia (8 novels, 3 novellas, a few short stories)
Kedran’s Wood series (2 novels and 1 in-between novella)
Tales of Evera fairytales (3 short stories)

Which comes out as roughly 40 all together. Am I crazy? Well yes, actually, but that’s beside the point. (Also, don’t worry — I’ve only actually finished 3 novels and 3 short stories, aside from my “unofficial” stuff. Which makes me not so much accomplished as ambitious.)

So without further rambling, let’s meet some stories . . .

Finished novels

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Quest For a Legend
(The Chronicles of Starrellia, book 4)
Fantasy, complete at 98,000 words.
10,000 words into rewrite, which is on hold.
Ethan sets out on a quest to discover the secrets of a strange map, but with the sudden invasion of the kingdom, he is caught up in the action. Alongside an array of friends including a princess, two talking bears, a merry young spy, and a mysterious prince who seems to have questionable intentions, Ethan battles to save the realm from the greedy clutches of an evil king. But can he save the kingdom and still complete his quest for a legend?

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Far-mark’s Dream
Fantasy. Complete at 53,000 words. On hold for a rewrite.
More info here.

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The Owl of Kedran’s Wood
(Kedran’s Wood series, book 1.)
Contemporary Fantasy / Mystery, complete at 105,000 words.
Sinister creatures called Wildlings are lurking in the woods by a small town and the members of the local Chess Club take it upon themselves to do something about it. But that is before the arrival of shape-shifting Wildlings who can look like humans, and the sudden appearance of a shady character in a black leather jacket, calling himself Tare. The Chess Club are caught up in a swirl of dark mystery and must find the answers to the secrets of Tare and the Wildlings—before it is too late.

Finished short stories:

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Clarity in Darkness
(Unsure of genre; complete at 2500 words.)
Music from beyond the buildings, through the darkness . . . calling.

Dragon Eyes
(Fantasy, complete at 4500 words.)
Ronan’s world is acting unusual, and he must discover the cause before anything truly dreadful happens.

Midnight Fear
(Horror? Complete at 1000 words.)
Walking home in the dark . . . and a black panther is on the loose.

Past projects that are on hiatus but I plan to finish/rewrite someday:

Grey Betrayal
Fantasy novel: The Chronicles of Starrellia, book 1. 50,000 words so far.

Twelve Fugitives in the Wild
Fantasy novel. 48,000 words so far.

(Those two are talked about in this post.)

The Emerald Avenger
(Novella. Historical Fiction? 22,000 words so far.)
In the tradition of Zorro and other such non-supernatural superheroes, this is a story of a masked man, set during the 1700s on a fictional Caribbean island under the jurisdiction of England. I started it a very long time ago and it will need some serious rewriting after I finish it.

Hairdo Havoc
(Humorous short story. 600 words so far.)
A whimsical tale that I started writing one day and haven’t gotten very far on due to having no idea what happens next. Sometime if I can figure out what else will happen and regain that whimsical humorous mood, I may try to finish it. It’s a very fun story even as it is at the moment.

Currently in the midst of
(meaning you’ll probably hear mostly about these over the next several months)

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Underground Rainbow
Contemporary Fantasy novel, currently writing for NaNo.

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The Invisible Mask
(Fantasy novel, currently at 10,000 words.) On hold at the moment while I work on other things and figure out the plot (because I’ve no idea what’s going to happen).
A young nobleman searching for the woman he wishes to marry. A princess who wants revenge. A disinherited brother and sister looking for a new way of life. A young lady seeking to regain her rightful land. A man who disappeared five years ago, whose daughter is still searching for him. Secrets, spies, highwaymen, people who are not what they seem, and at the heart of everything, a missing book and a dark and secret tower. The key to it all may lie with a mysterious nobleman whose shady past is hidden in lonely mansions on the windswept moors.

SPcoverSong of a Pirate
(Fantasy Novella, currently at 22,000 words.)
Started for Camp Nanowrimo and I just need to get around to figuring out the ending and writing the rest.
The pirate crew of the Sea Maid is losing the memory of why they appointed their captain, a new sailor is curious about it—and the Captain has plans of his own. An enigmatic woman who knows impossible things, a silent man found by gypsies, and a lonely nobleman with a tangled history, join in the voyage. They are bound for an unreachable island that holds the secrets to their past and their hopes for the future, but all may be lost in the end. For the boy Captain of a pirate ship no longer sings his song.

OUcover2Out of the Unknown
(Fantasy Novel, The Chronicles of Starrellia, book 2.)
Currently at 34,000 words. I’m going to go back and rewrite most of what I have so far, adding some plot points and characters, before continuing the story. Finishing this is going to be my main focus in 2014. I hope.
They will have to face their fears. An exiled king and his brother—haunted by the present. A man who has forgotten his identity—haunted by his lack of a past. A girl on a mission—haunted by dreams of the future. An outlaw four times over—haunted by his past, present, and the possibility of a similar future. All are brought together by a fate that will cause them to undertake a journey together, to try and depart from the land they are trapped in—a land from which no one in remembered history has ever escaped.

KWnovellaCoverSnowfall at Kedran’s Wood
Contemporary Fantasy Novella. Kedran’s Wood series, book 2 (or 1.5, depending on how you look at it). Unstarted, but might start soon. Currently in brainstorming/plotting/snippet-writing mode.
After the otherworldly events of the summer, the Chess Club believes the Wildling affair is behind them. But when some alarming men begin investigating what happened, and Tare returns from his absence one snowy December day, they realize their adventures are far from over. Assailed by nightmares, Tare tries to recover and does some investigation of his own, while the Chess Club must deal with local mysteries, a group of threatening people, and Christmas holidays, amid the snowfall in the shadow of Kedran’s Wood.

***

So those are the stories I’m most likely to mention ’round here.

Sometime in the future I plan to also write:

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5 other novels and a collection of novellas/short stories in the Chronicles of Starrellia
a second novel in the Kedran’s Wood series (following the novella)
a fantasy novel about young river pirates
2 science-fiction novels (one a sci-fi thriller, the other a sci-fi western)
a time-travel/sci-fi/historical fiction novella
a fantasy novella that I can’t figure out how to explain
a post-appocalyptic short story
a sci-fi short story having to do with mind reading
a time-travel story (possibly steampunk)
2 fantasy short stories about birds
a fantasy short story Cinderella retelling
a world-hopping fantasy short story (or two)
3 fairytale-like short stories that are interrelated

Several of those I occasionally work on or write down a snippet or some story idea notes for, and if at some point I get closer to writing those stories, they may get introductions as well.

But at the moment I think this post is quite long enough . . !

 

 

NaNo Looms

Around this time of year, you see them all over the blogosphere — posts about how blogs will be mostly neglected for about a month. Since there are always so many, I figure one more won’t be amiss.

I’m going to try to keep up a post a week, but I cannot make promises, and I may or may not be somewhat absent from my blog — or at least highly sporadic and unpredictable — during November. Due, of course, to Nanowrimo. Whether I’m around on the blog during the next month will depend on writing and busyness.

This will be my fourth year doing NaNo (plus a couple of Camp NaNo sessions) and I’ve always won so far. Each year has been a very different adventure, and I guess we’ll see what this year holds in store!

(Boring backstory follows — skip if desired.)

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2010 – Year 1:  Twelve Fugitives in the Wild – Fantasy, set in another world during an 18th century type era, complete with muskets, carriages, and tri-cornered hats.

The Wild Ride: I decided to do NaNo the night before it began. I had no plot, hectically (or desperately) came up with it as I went along, fell woefully behind, and spent the entire last day, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., munching chocolate and pounding out 8,000 words to catch up.

The Result: About a half-done story full of a suspicious number of plot-twists near the end. I still have not dared to start trying to tie off all the threads necessary to finish the story. But I was very proud of myself for winning and had a blast during the month.

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2011 – Year 2: Far-mark’s Dream – Medieval Fantasy

The Adventure: This time I plotted for two weeks beforehand and was much more organized, with the story all fitted nicely into chapter-breaks. I stayed up on my personal goals, the story behaved itself (mostly) and was incredibly exciting and fun to write, and I actually wrote “The End” on it — two days before the end of November.

The Result: A complete, though a bit short, very fun novel that I have plans of rewriting sometime. Once it’s rewritten I think it might end up being one of my very favorite stories.

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2012 – Year 3: Grey Betrayal (book 1 of the Chronicles of Starrellia) – Medieval Fantasy

The Chaos: I had been planning for months to write a different story (Underground Rainbow), so I thought I was all set. But just ten days before NaNo began, I switched over to this one and consequently was not as well prepared as I thought. The first week or so was smooth sailing but after that things got rocky. I still hit my 50k though, and on top of that got to meet one of my favorite characters that I didn’t think I would get to meet yet.

The Result: A part-finished start to my fantasy series (which already has parts of the other books written). Very glad to have gotten that far, and now only have to find time to finish the story and fix all the plot holes, and hope that it won’t end up being 200k words long . . .

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2013 – Year 4: Underground Rainbow – Contemporary Fantasy

… ? We’ll see how this session of NaNo turns out when we reach December 1st!

I can’t wait to write this story — I’ve spent October figuring out the plot (or, some of it… still have a ways to go… 3 days left!) and meeting the characters, and I think it’s going to be stupendously fun! Nanowrimo is almost here! I AM BEYOND EXCITED!!! (Ahem. Getting carried away in the spirit of things . . .)

***

November is just around the bend, and our stories are all set (or not, as the case may be… But we’ll not let that daunt us!). It’s time to shut out the world and get settled into the worlds of our own words.

So.

Grab your pens, laptops, coffee, and miscellaneous writing paraphernalia!

Let’s go write some novels, people!

Character Interview Attempt

Today I’m going to attempt an interview with one of my characters. I say “attempt” because he is somewhat unsociable (if not downright hostile) and may not appreciate my pestering him with questions.

Background: his name is Bithoa (prounounced bih-THOE-uh), he is a twenty-two year old outlaw, and at the time we meet him he lives in the Land of Darrotai (over the mountains from the Land of Starrellia). He’s from my 8-book fantasy series, The Chronicles of Starrellia, at the moment appearing in books 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8 (but primarily 2: Out of the Unknown and 5: To Few the Road).

Without further ado, I bring you an attempted interview with Bithoa.

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I am standing in a sunshine-filled forest glade, surrounded by leafy green trees. Before me stands . . . a rather brown figure. A tall young man, dressed in brown leather, with a brown leather vest instead of a shirt, laced up with brown leather laces in the front. His arms are bare and tanned, with more than a couple scars visible on them, and he is holding a transparent double-ended spear made of crystal. His hair is reddish-brown and shaggy, with some of it hanging down partway over one of his deep green eyes, which are staring at me rather dauntingly with mistrust in them. In his face is a wary look and he always seems to be watching out of the corner of his eye, like a hunted animal for the hunters. His eyebrows are drawn together in a frown and his mouth is a thin line as I explain to him that I would like to ask him some questions, as an introduction to some people I know. (I figure a blog might be difficult for him to grasp, since blogs are not exactly medieval . . .)

“Won’t you have a seat?” I ask him, pointing to a stump next to him.

He glances at it but makes no move to sit there, remaining where he stands. I start to sit on the stump opposite, but think better of it. I’m already a whole foot shorter than him, being only 5′ 2” myself, and decide I should not go shorter.

“Tell us about yourself, Bithoa.”

He starts to walk away. “Not interested. Why don’t you annoy David instead? I’m sure he’d love to be interviewed.”

“Get back here! Please,” I add.

He sighs and turns back to me. “Look — I’m sure no one wants to hear about me except my enemies, of which I have far too many already. If you’re so keen on these people learning about me, why don’t you tell them yourself?”

“I want it straight from your mouth. Just . . . tell about your situation. Your life. Anything.”

His eyes harden. “Allow me to say this very clearly: No.”

“Well then I’ll have to go find Calendula and make her ask you nicely. Then you’ll have to,” I threaten.

“What makes you think—?” He breaks off. Rolling his eyes in an expression of “whatever, better get this over with”, he says, “Fine.” Sitting down on the stump, he plunges the spear into the ground next to him, folds his arms, and begins. “Here in this land — which is entirely surrounded by mountains, marsh and desert, and thus inescapable — I’ve been an outlaw for the last ten years. The problem being that there are four different places — Wevion, two kingdoms in Darrotai, and the domain of the Lawdefs, the Law Defiers — and I’m an outlaw in all four.”

I whistle. “An outlaw four times over.”

He glares at me. “Yes. You know that.”

“I . . . was being dramatic,” I say sheepishly.

He looks like he wants to hit me but goes on. “So I’m hunted everywhere I go, with no escape, and now to top it all I’ve got two princes tagging along with me, bringing more danger with them. In short, life is not good right now. And I don’t see it getting any better,” he says with an accusatory glance at me. I cough awkwardly. “Is that enough?” he asks.

“No. Go on.”

He huffs. “Like what?”

“Well . . . how about some more details of your life? Like . . . your past and lineage and what you love and your greatest fears? Would you like to share some of that with us?” I should have known better, knowing what I know about those things. Warning signals go off in my head as his green eyes suddenly blaze with unconcealed anger.

“Oh yes,” he says through his teeth, “I have something I’d really like to share with you.” He stands up, his fingers closing over the shaft of the spear stuck in the ground beside him.

Before I can say or do anything, another voice calls somewhat frantically, “Bithoa!” A boy of sixteen runs up, with light brown hair, dressed in clothes that look like they were once very fine but now look a little the worse for wear, a dark blue cloak billowing behind him as he comes to a halt. A crossbow is slung at his shoulder and he has a long knife on his belt.

OUcover2“Hi, David!” I smile and a wave at the sixteen-year-old main character of Out of the Unknown.

“What is it now?” Bithoa says to David, clearly annoyed.

“Don’t do anything . . .” David starts, with a glance at me.

“Anything? I wasn’t. I was about to do something,” Bithoa interrupts. “And if you don’t leave me alone, I’ll start with you.”

David sighs unhappily. “Why do you have to be so hostile?”

“Me? Hostile?” Bithoa laughs, sarcastic and devoid of humor.

“You can’t hurt David, Bithoa,” I say. “Killing the main character is not allowed. And it’s even more not allowed to kill the author. So why don’t you just sit down again, please?”

“Maybe . . .” David begins.

Bithoa looks at him sharply. “Maybe what? Oh, I know: maybe she should interview you instead.”

“Well, I . . .” David says uncertainly.

Bithoa tugs his double-ended spear from the ground. “I’m off. I’m sure there’s some hunting to be done, or a stick to be whittled, or Donavin to get in a fight with, or some guards to find and have chase me. In short, something more enjoyable than being interviewed.” Though I know he doesn’t enjoy any of those things — except maybe getting in a fight with Donavin. He walks off, while David and I watch helplessly.

“He can be kinda difficult,” David says.

“I heard that,” Bithoa calls back before disappearing among the trees.

David looks at me and shrugs. He sits down on the stump. “Did you have some questions for me? I’d be happy to answer them.”

“Well, at least you’re polite and willing to comply . . .” I think about it, deciding I should try to salvage this interview by getting *someone* to answer some questions. I shrug. “Tell us . . . well, about you.”

David frowns thoughtfully. “Um . . . I’m a prince from Arothin in Darrotai. My older brother Donavin is in line for the throne but . . . there were problems. And now we’re on the run. With Bithoa.”

“What are some things you love or hate or fear?”

“Well, I love my brother if it comes to that. And apples.” He grins. “Hate?” His grin turns to a frown and he shuffles his feet uncomfortably. “Hate is kind of a strong word. I suppose I hate  my uncle and cousin. They killed my father the king, blamed my brother for it, and took over, and now they’ve got all the soldiers out tracking us down. Besides which my cousin Kiya always used to beat me up whenever Donavin wasn’t there to beat him up back for me . . . So I guess I fear him. And I fear for Donavin — he’s, well, a bit reckless and hotheaded, and sometimes I’m afraid he’ll just get himself killed one of these days because of it. Especially the way he and Bithoa rub each other the wrong way . . .” David glances all about and murmurs, “I fear Bithoa sometimes too. He . . . kind of scares me. And there are times when I just want him to leave. Or to throw him in the river . . .”

BithoaSketch“I heard that, too,” Bithoa calls.

David jumps. He clears his throat and squirms on the stump, his eyes appealing to me. “Um . . . could we talk about something else, please?”

The voice of David’s brother Donavin calls from somewhere on the other side of the glade. “You should leave poor David alone and interview me instead. I am the crown prince after all.”

“Oh yes,” Bithoa’s voice says derisively. “Heir to a throne that’s been stolen, and here you are, a fugitive, running from the guards who should be serving you. A lot of good your royalness is doing you.”

“Shut your mouth, outlaw!”

“Don’t call me that,” Bithoa growls.

“Oh, and what shall I call you then?”

“You needn’t call me anything, princeling.”

“Princeling!” Donavin exclaims in rage. I can practically hear him fuming. David and I look at each other, wincing. A few more heated words are exchanged between Donavin and Bithoa before sounds of a scuffle break out.

David sighs and hauls himself off the stump to his feet. “I’d probably better go see to that . . .”

***

And there you have it. It was not supposed to get that long, or that sidetracked. And I guess I introduced more than one character. But it is so hard to get some of my less sociable charries pinned down long enough for an interview . . . Hope you enjoyed! I definitely had a fantastic time writing it.
Do you have any questions to ask them?

A Tag From the Past: Every Good Word

There was a tag/quiz/link-up thingy going around that everyone seemed to be doing for awhile there, from Meghan over on Every Good Word.

Though I’m quite a bit late for this, I’m jumping on board anyway. Because these questions are far too fun not to answer. (I just hope I won’t ramble too much or be too spectacularly boring…)

  1. What was your first-ever piece of writing?

A story I started about a boy who went on an adventure and met some talking bears. It was written in pencil with horrible handwriting and atrocious spelling, in a pink composition notebook. I still look back at it fondly though (from a distance . . .) since it sparked The Chronicles of Starrellia, the 8-book fantasy series I’m working on. The story is still present in one of the books, though it has changed and expanded a good deal.

2. How old were you when you first began writing?

I was 8, and wandered randomly along with my scribbling for a few years. Then the week before I turned 12, while sitting in a bookstore and marking up my story with a pencil, I decided that I was going to restart and finish my story, and be a writer. And I did, and now I am.

   3. Name two writing goals. One short term & one long term.

Short term? At the moment, figure out the plot for my Nanowrimo novel this year. Long term? As so many others have said, get published. Someday . . . Somehow.

   4. Do you write fiction or non-fiction?

Fiction. There’s nothing like a new story to sweep us off our feet and carry us, pen in hand, into a world of adventure. If blogging and emails count as non-fiction, I suppose I enjoy those as well . . . But I’ve found that if there is a non-fiction subject I’m interested in exploring, it is better to I weave it into my fiction than to struggle with dry, personality-less words, that no one will ever read or be changed by. Many truths need to be told through fiction.

Fantasy   5. Bouncing off of question 4, what’s your favorite genre to write in?

Fantasy, without a doubt! Medieval, to be specific. There’s just something about slightly fantastic lands (slightly; I don’t really do magic) filled with forests and castles and swords and cloaks and heroes and princesses that has always delighted me more than any other genre. Plus, I am far too lazy daunted by research to write much else–I like to be able to “make up” (though I call it “discover”) new lands and peoples. I do dabble in other genres as well (contemporary, historical, sci-fi, etc.) but fantasy will always be the genre I enjoy the most.

   6. One writing lesson you’ve learned since 2013 began.

It may sound cliche, but keep going no matter what. Sometimes a story I’m writing (or a recent case for me, editing) just seems like it will never be done and will go on forever. But if you keep steadily going, it WILL get finished. Also, goals, deadlines, and rewards help. I told myself I could reorganize all the books on my bookshelves in my room when I finished, so I was very motivated. (I LOVE playing with my books. :)) Telling myself I could join Goodreads, take a couple weeks off writing, and reread Howl’s Moving Castle were also tricks I used this year to get me reaching some goals.

TolkienBooks  7. Favorite author, off the top of your head!

Tolkien! (That one wasn’t actually hard.)

   8. Three current favorite books.

I . . . [*whispered aside to the audience* Can they do that?] Um . . . I’m going to have to think about that for a moment. It’s rather impossible. At this moment in time I guess I’d have to say The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien (since it’s always my favorite), The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall (because it is just so fantastically wonderful and everyone should read it), and The Court of the Stone Children by Eleanor Cameron (since it’s my favorite book I read this year). (But I so want to add the Chronicles of Narnia and like a dozen books by Lloyd Alexander to this list . . . There, I did. Shhh.)

  9. Biggest influence on your writing {person}:

I’m going to have to put two people here . . . My younger sister. I bounce my ideas off her, and every time I write something it always has to have her approval before anyone else sees it. She’s amazing and brilliant and supportive and practically always loves what I write. She’s the one who often makes something click so I can write the story–for instance, she gave me the title I used for my latest book, The Owl of Kedran’s Wood, which made the story come together and swept me away on a writing adventure like I’d never encountered before. I don’t know what I’d do without my fantastic sister. And then there’s my lovely friend Lauriloth who has to share this place. Her weekly encouragements always brighten my day, she motivates me to write more than I normally would–not to mention we sometimes seem to share a brain–and she’s the sweetest person ever. ❤


  10. What’s your go-to writing music?

Instrumental Celtic music. Something about it just inspires me to no end and is perfectly suited to my fantasy stories. Soundtracks often work also.

11. List three to five writing quirks of yours! Little habits, must-haves as you write, etc.

Quirks? I have those? Heehee, joking. Let’s see . . . I often act out scenes beforehand and make the facial expressions of my characters while I’m writing. Which leads us to quirk number two: that my door has to be closed when I write so nobody can see me pacing around making a fool of myself . . . I keep my phone by my bed for obsessively making notes when inspiration strikes in the middle of the night–as it always will. I also keep a dream journal, which is enormously useful (but I have to make sure no one else gets a-hold of it, in case they decide I’m insane . . . My mind is a weird place.)

12. What, in three sentences or less, does your writing mean to you?

Writing is my road to the stars (and I say that in a mystical faerie type way, as opposed to a sci-fi analogy). There’s nothing else like writing to enable us to discover worlds new and old and meet such an incredible variety of people and creatures and engage in such adventures. It is rewarding and challenging and there are stories that need telling that only I can tell–in short, I write because I can’t not.

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