Hoarding Plot-Reveal-Secrets Syndrome

Friends, I have a problem.

It’s called Hoarding Plot-Reveal-Secrets Syndrome.

Okay, so this is a name I made up. But whatever it is, I HAVE IT.

Let me explain.

When I’m writing a story, I have to set things up in the story before I can get to the major plot points.

Then the beginning gets longer than I planned, because I’m a disaster longwinded.

And I also have this strange thing where I ALWAYS HOARD SECRETS.

  • If there’s a big reveal about a certain character? = Hoard it.
  • If there’s a plot twist? = Hoard it.
  • If there’s a villain doing things THAT WE SHOULD KNOW STRAIGHT OFF but it’s “too early” to reveal? = Hoard it.

This results in the unfortunate tendency for nothing interesting to happen in the novel for huuuge stretches of time, as I throw in tiny hints toward said hoarded plot-reveal secrets but don’t actually put any of them in until way later in the book.

BECAUSE… SECRETS.

Because I’m saving them for later. *cough*

But this means that I DON’T INTRODUCE VITAL PLOT PIECES EARLY ON BECAUSE THEY’RE TOO “SPECIAL” TO PUT IN YET.

I don’t even know, guys. I’m a mess.

(It doesn’t help that sometimes, if I’m discovering a story as I go, and don’t have it all plotted when I start, I don’t even know the big plot points until I discover them when the heroes do…)

It’s not just one book, or anything. I’ve noticed this multiple times in my writing. It adds up to a repeated problem.

Enter Hoarding Plot-Reveal-Secrets Syndrome.

(Thank you, Doctor. No, really. You’re a huge help. -_-)

It would be like if in The Lord of the Rings, they don’t find out what the One Ring is actually for until, like, Lothlorien.

It kills me that I can’t offer specifics about my own stories to help explain this, because… spoilers. But let me be vague for you and pick one story as an example…

I’m currently writing KW2, The Secret of Kedran’s Wood. (Oh, great, there’s a secret in the TITLE. And guess what, it doesn’t get revealed until HALFWAY INTO PART THREE. I’m not even there yet. I’m even hoarding plot points from myself. Joy.)

I’m currently writing Part 2 (I always split my novels into three parts — no idea why, it just works that way so I can have bite-sized pieces).

Unfortunately, the “setup” on this novel has taken so long, that Part 1 is currently 63,522 words.

THAT’S RIGHT, THE FIRST “THIRD” OF THIS BOOK IS CURRENTLY THE SIZE OF SOME NOVELS.

I need help.

There’s a character I’m going to introduce who’s going to be hugely important to the plot, and may even steal the show from Tare (*universe stands still while audience squints and asks “IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?”*) and I keep putting off introducing said character. And I keep having the villains beat about the bush instead of doing THINGS. And the heroes are always trying to figure out the mysteries but they keep juuuust eluding them.

One of the problems with this… er… problem is that if the PLOT doesn’t start until halfway through the book or later, then… what is going on to start with? It’s kind of like the description on the back of a book, making you interested without “giving things away”.

While we’re on the subject, what is my summary for this book going to look like? O_O

The Secret of Kedran’s Wood by Yours Truly

In which Tare and the Chess Club do things and discover SHOCKING, EXCITING THINGS (No, really. They’re awesome.) but those are in the final third sooo we’re not going to talk about them here on the back of the book because #secrets and BECAUSE YOU NEED TO READ 100K WORDS OF RAMBLING FIRST THANKS.

Not to mention, it’s awkward when you can’t tell anybody the reason why your story is cool. Because it’s spoilers.

Or is it?

HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT YOU CAN TELL PEOPLE ABOUT YOUR STORY WITHOUT RUINING THE SURPRISE.

Ahem.

Y’know, I should just accept that the Kedran’s Wood series is getting longwinded and episodic and should just become a serialized book-equivalent of a TV show. Yeah. Let’s do that…

But that doesn’t solve the plot-reveal-hoarding issue for my other works.

Basically, IT’S STARTING TO BE A PROBLEM. And I have NaNo coming up and don’t want to do this to… whatever it is that I’m going to write for NaNo. (Which, incidentally, I haven’t decided yet. I’m doing it, but picking a novel? SO HARD. *cough*)

So, does anyone else have this hoarding-plot-reveal-secrets problem?

And, more importantly, WHAT IS THE CURE? O_O

I don’t want the stories to be drawn out and lack plot-reveals until the final few chapters, but howww do I sprinkle them in?

How do I stop feeling like I’m “spoiling” the story by actually, you know, revealing what’s going on every now and then?

How do I stop hoarding the juiciest bits and cackling about how I’ll get to reveal them …someday?

How do I know what I can and can’t reveal about the plot or the sequels or whatever?

HALP.

Do you suffer from Hoarding Plot-Reveal-Secrets Syndrome? Any condolences or tips for me? XD

Advertisements

If You Want To Write

if-you-want-to-write

I Used To Think I Cordially Disliked Reading Books About Writing

I’ve discovered that this is not true.

I dislike reading books about writing which tell me how to write.

I am, however, apparently highly agreeable to books about writing which tell me that I don’t have to listen to those other books which tell me how to write.

In fact, not only that I don’t have to listen, but that I emphatically should not, and should write from myself — what is true, and free, and me-like (in my own words; look at me being all delightfully rebel like this and saying things how I want).

Let me back up a moment and explain.

I’ve gotten rather disillusioned with how-to writing advice in general, over time, because it feels too much like I’m being told what to do with my stories and how to bend them into a “proper shape” which they may not naturally want to bend into. It stifles me, fills me with doubt, and crushes my spirit and creative light — that delicate fluttering-wing flame of the artist inside a person, too easily snuffed by winds of doubt.

I recently read a book called “If You Want To Write: A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit” by Brenda Ueland, and it did the opposite, telling me something quite different: that it’s important to tell your story in a way that is you, and speaking of the dangers of critics/criticism/a critical way of thinking, instead focusing on love and truth.

It is rather a good feeling to read a book which says something different than the norm of the modern-day craft of writing. Effectively saying that my instinct all along has been correct — to write how I want and let the rules go hang (at least for the present).

I’m the writer, these are my stories, my blogs, my words, and if I can’t tell them like they want to be told . . . then who will? A lot of “rules” — the ten (more like ten thousand) commandments of Proper Writing? (Which all contradict each other anyway and constantly change.) No. I don’t think so. Following a lot of made up “rules” does not a Great Novel make.

I think I’ll pause here before I go further, and have a footnote. But I’ll have it right here instead of making you scroll all the way to the bottom of the post, which is a bother, and I want this one to actually be read. (Besides, who says feet can’t occasionally put themselves up to get comfortable?)

Footnote: If This Post Is Not For You

footnote

If you are one of those writers who likes to write according to the rules, if that is your calling, by all means: go for it! This is not to pull you down, to tell you you are doing it “wrong.” Because whatever is right for you is right for—you guessed it—you.

This post is only to say that for anyone who, like myself, has felt stifled and condemned by rules and critical thinking, that there is another way—that we can be free!

But, as Brenda Ueland often stresses in her own book which I am speaking of (and in her own footnotes) — whenever she’s telling us how to do something, she adds that if you want to do it the other way, then do it that way!

Neither Brenda nor myself are trying to tell you that our way is the best and only way. So if you disagree with this post, if you feel the rules should be followed, if you enjoy being a critic because you like to analyze, etc., then be that way! That way is you, and you are free to be it. 🙂

I just thought I would say that. I’m not trying to be critical and say that if you’re trying to follow rules, you’re doing it wrong—no, I’m only trying to say that this book allowed me to see a new and freeing way for ME to live, and if this post is not for you, I will not hold it against you, and I hope you will do the same. 🙂

(End of footnote.)

“If You Want to Write: A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit” by Brenda Ueland

ifyouwanttowriteIt was originally published in 1938, and I found a reprinted copy from the 1980s at a library book sale, because I had once seen the book highly spoken of, which made me curious. As I said, I’m wary of books on writing, and writing advice in general, since it tends to leave me jaded, depressed, and rather defiantly angry (none of which are feelings I enjoy).

But I tried this one out . . .

And I’m so incredibly glad that I did.

THIS BOOK, THOUGH.

Brenda Ueland talks of writing creatively with joy and truth and freedom, the way that is YOU, instead of “intellectualizing,” i.e., in her wonderful words: “primly frowning through your pince-nez and trying to do things according to prescribed rule as laid down by others — and bearing in mind a thousand things not to do.”

Bless this woman and her counter-cultural thoughts from 1938.

It was so freeing to read a book that was focused on love and creativity and discovering your true writing self (instead of focusing on what to do, what NOT to do, and various “rules”). It was the positive, not the negative. It was freedom, not limiting options. And it filled my soul with a joy and a freedom in thought and writing that I’ve not felt in a very long time.

I just felt so inspired reading this, and gladdened that somewhere, sometime (in this case nearly 80 years ago… ahem) agreed with me and thought similar things to ones I’ve felt deeply but almost unconsciously for a long time, particularly about being critical and about so-called writing rules—and thought them deeply enough herself to write a book about it, which was simply a pleasure to read. I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, but I devoured this one.

But I will let this book speak for itself, in its own words, before wrapping up my thoughts on all of this.

QUOTES BY BRENDA UELAND FROM “IF YOU WANT TO WRITE”

writingspirit

“Since our wish to create something is the life of the Spirit, I think that when people condemn what we do, they are symbolically destroying us. Hence the excruciatingly painful feeling, though to our common sense it seems foolish and self-centered to feel so badly.”

inspirationrules

“But inspiration only dies down because the theoreticians, the horses of instruction, begin to dissect, analyze and then codify into rules what yesterday’s great artists did freely from their true selves.”

criticsdiscourage

“This is why I don’t like critics, whether they are English professors, or friends, or members of one’s own family, or men of letters on literary reviews. It is so easy for them to annihilate us, first by discouragement [footnote: Remember that discouragement is the only illness, George Bernard Shaw says.] and then by shackling our imagination in rules so that we cannot work freely and well on the next thing.”

hesitancymars

“It is because of the critics, the doubters (in the outer world and within ourselves) that we have such hesitancy when we write. And I know the hesitancy just mars it. It does not make it better at all.”

creativelove

“For I know that the energy of the creative impulse comes from love and all its manifestations–admiration, compassion, glowing respect, gratitude, praise, compassion, tenderness, adoration, enthusiasm. Compare the tenderness of great artists with the attitude of critics toward other men.”

imaginationdivine

“I wish I could show you why I object to critics and why I think they do harm and stifle and obstruct all creative power. It was William Blake who revealed this to me. ‘What we so often call Reason,’ Blake said, ‘is not the Understanding at all but is merely derived from the experience of our five senses, derived from Earth and from our bodies.’ “You cannot do this,’ Reason says (and all those erudite critics) ‘because it did not work the last time. Besides, it was logically and scientifically established by so-and-so after plenty of experiments,’ says the rationalist, the materialistic scientist, the critic, basing all this on merely physical experiences and so shutting out the glories of their Vision, their Imagination, which is Divine and comes from God and cannot be weighed and measured by scientists, established and explained.”

artistlover

“Of course I am sorry for them too. Because by encouraging the critic in themselves (the hater) they have killed the artist (the lover).”

Conclusion

I want to love. I don’t want to hate. I want to enjoy a book, not tear it down and put its flaws in a spotlight. “Look! Look! This is a bad thing!” No; if there is a bad thing, I may quietly point it out and move on to the good. I may heartily dislike—even hate—something in a book, because it is not the true good thing which I want it to be, but I take no pleasure in hating. Hating, criticizing, being critical… they do not bring me joy. They pull me down and darken my spirit and make me sad. Loving things and books and people and stories and characters—that does bring me joy.

Why do people so enjoy the creative surge of writing a new story, and instinctively do not like to turn their critic back on to edit it? We have so enjoyed being free to love and create and make art, that to be once more yoked with hate and critical thinking and rules, and the perceived need to bend our work of art to the will of others, is all the worse after such freedom. Loving and creating outweigh hating and criticism any day, at least in my book.

Light is greater than Darkness. Love is greater than Hate.

The bright original creative soul that is YOU is greater than any rulebook on “writing well.”

I want to love. And I want to be an artist, a writer, who loves—and creates out of that love, stories that come from my true self and from the desire to tell the truth and a story. I want to be a better writer, one who writes a story as well as I can, who does not fall prey to criticism from within or the kinds of rules that critics have made to shackle the creative writer into writing within a box according to a set of rules and what not to do.

More than anything (in the terms and imagery of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “On Fairy Stories”) I want to write and be a subcreator who takes leaves from the Tree of Tales and writes them into a story as best I can.

And so I say, if you want to write: Write.

Replace your inner critic, who hates, with your inner artist, who loves.

Go out and, in the words of Neil Gaiman, “Make Good Art.”

Do not be afraid.

Write what is you

and do so with all the truth and love you have in you.

10 NaNoWriMo Survival Tips

10nanosurvivaltips

So I was throwing some random NaNoWriMo advice at a friend on Goodreads, and decided to actually post that advice and a couple other things as a blog post. Because hey, why not? Maybe someone will benefit. 🙂 (Plus, how better to procrastinate plotting that book I need to start writing tomorrow than by blogging, amIright? 😉 )

In no particular order, here is some random advice for how to survive NaNoWriMo. Because writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days definitely calls for survival tips.

(You may know all of these and/or I may have said all of this before, in which case OH WELL you may as well hear it again. XD We could probably use a refresher course…)

1) Know your plot! …If you don’t yet, you’re in a little bit of trouble, but don’t despair, you still have a day-ish left. 😉 And you haven’t, you can try to do some outlining during the month. Just be aware that you may need to do this… (If you’re a pantser, I salute you, brave soul.)

2) Lots of wordwars/wordsprints! If there’s nobody to wordwar with, I like to just set a timer and wordwar against that. If there’s a timer going for 10-15 minutes, I feel like I need to be writing the whole time and so I actually WRITE; and it’s a very rewarding feeling, writing down the amount of words I get each time, to know that after that amount of time I actually got words written. 🙂

(EDIT: New on the NaNo site this year is a wordsprint timer with optional prompts! Check it out!)

3) If you can, write to music. Turn on some fast music with a steady fast beat if you can write to music, because I’ve found I type faster with that. (May just be me.)

4) Try to stay on top of the 1667 per day goal if you possibly can — it’s no fun being behind later in the month. Falling behind really adds up. That being said, also try to write more at the beginning if you can! Chances are you’ll be more excited about your story at the beginning and not tired out yet, so the more you write early on, the better it will be. 🙂

5) Be willing to just write anything, and do not even think about going back to edit! That will derail you pretty fast if you go back and tweak. Leave a note to yourself about what to change if you need to and move on.

6) Get some encouragement if you’re feeling behind. Reading a pep-talk or ranting to a writing friend about being stuck/behind and getting reassured, or having some chocolate, or rewarding yourself when you hit that particular goal by getting to read a chapter of that book you really want to read or something, can totally help. (Of course, I’m the first to admit that the reading-a-chapter thing can backfire if you accidentally read the whole book… >.> So, beware!)

7) Remember to get up and move around. …Wait, what? For real, you should try not to spend the ENTIRE month of November sitting hunched over a laptop/notebook. (As someone who spent a few months this year with serious back pain from using too much computer and not moving enough, take it from me: you don’t want that.) Stretch! Take a walk! (It’s amazing the benefits of a good brisk walk to brainstorm scenes. Almost as good as the notorious in-the-shower-inspiration. I still maintain both of these are because you can’t actually write down your ideas at the time…)

8) Drink water. You thought I was going to say coffee, didn’t you? 😉 Which is good in the caffeine/warming-up categories, but seriously, it’s important to stay hydrated, and  you’d be surprised how much better I feel when I drink 8-10 glasses of water every day. Give it a shot. 🙂 Coffee and tea, while also good November drinks, especially when it’s cold, just don’t hydrate like good ol’ water. I fill a gallon water jug up to the line I marked after measuring 10 cups into it, and just pour the water into a glass throughout the day, which is an easy way to keep track. It helps SO much, especially since I tend to get headaches when I don’t drink enough water; and it’s super hard to write with a headache.

9) Don’t give up! Even if it looks like you won’t hit the goal for the day, or for the month, just keep writing anyway. You’ll be surprised with where you end up if you just keep going. 🙂

10) Have fun! Enjoy the ride and try not to get too stressed out — just enjoy the crazy fun that is writing and knowing others are too. 🙂 (I’m trying to remind MYSELF with this one… I tend to get stressed instead of enjoying myself. :P)

Aaand while I’m in a NaNo-y mood . . .

If you haven’t seen it, you can pop over to my post from last year, NaNoWriMo, My Dear Watson, which is NaNo-in-a-Nutshell-with-Sherlock-gifs.

(And even if you have seen it, go see it again, because NaNo + Sherlock Holmes = why wouldn’t you? 😉 )

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll just be over in the corner wrapped in my shock blanket, because NaNo’s TOMORROW???

Share your best advice for NaNo in the comments! We can all always use more tips! 🙂 Best of luck, everyone! YOU’VE GOT THIS.

The Wisteria Writer Tag

WWtag

Grace @ True and Pure tagged me for The Wisteria Writer Tag! Thanks, Grace! 🙂

Since there were ten questions she answered, and then she made ten new questions… I’m adding a few of the questions she answered because I wanted to answer them too. 🙂

I’m also not tagging anyone, but feel free to consider yourself tagged if you’d like to do it! Just let me know if you do so I can read your post. ^_^

Speaking of posts… would you lookit that. This is my 175th post. *confetti* Go me. XD

ALSO! If you haven’t voted in the Silmarillion Awards yet, do scurry on over there and vote by the end of July 14th! Your favorite fantasy characters need your vote!! 🙂

Okay. Now on to The Wisteria Writer Tag…

The Rules

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Answer the ten questions asked.
  • Add ten (writing or book related) of your own.
  • Nominate ten people.

The Questions

  1. What do you use to document inspiration and ideas?
  2. Can you share a snippet of one of your current pieces of writing?
  3. What authors or books inspire you?
  4. What is the first story that you ever completed?
  5. What story (short story or novel) do you consider your best work so far?
  6. Do you outline your novels before you start writing, and if so, how?
  7. Who is your favorite character that you created?
  8. What style of prose are you best at writing (description, dialogue, action, etc.)?
  9. What is the first thing you do when you start revising a piece of work?
  10. When do you write (in the morning, after lunch, before bed, etc.)?
  11. Where do you write (on your bed, at your desk, etc.)?
  12. What is your favorite music to listen to while you write?
  13. What writing advice do you want to give yourself?

What do you use to document inspiration and ideas?

For several years now, I’ve been keeping a series of writing notebooks/journals. I have one each year, either a nice journal or notebook, which I label for that year, and all my random ideas and a lot of my plotting goes in there. I do have folders and files on my laptop where I keep track of bigger things for specific stories sometimes, and my actual-writing mostly happens on the computer as well, but as far as inspiration and ideas, most of it goes in my notebooks. …I really should go back through them for ideas.

Can you share a snippet of one of your current pieces of writing?

Here’s a snatch of later on in The Other Half of Everything:

Having gotten free of Ivan, Teague folded his arms, turned away, and stood staring at a wall. Lulin scurried to fetch first-aid supplies to clean Ivan up. I hovered anxiously, flickering nervous glances between the brothers.

“Dinner,” Teague proclaimed shortly, pointing me toward the kitchen.

Normally I would have been annoyed. Not today. Gratefully, I fled back to my soup.

OHEbannerfinal2

What authors or books inspire you?

Diana Wynne Jones, Lloyd Alexander, George MacDonald, Mirriam Neal. Also Tolkien because we’re kindred souls.

What is the first story that you ever completed?

QLcoverQuest for a Legend, which was then book #4 in my Starrellian Saga. …Which is now in a complicated position what with me reworking the whole series. (No, the three small “stories” I wrote when I was maybe 10 or so that were 500 words, 900 words, and 1400 words, respectively, which we do not talk about, do not count. *cough*)

What story (short story or novel) do you consider your best work so far?

Whoa. This is a really interesting question! It’s complicated because my opinion of my finished stories change over time… So at the moment, I’d say Darkling Reflections, my 11,000 word mystery/romance story. Which is odd considering it’s the only thing like it that I’ve written and I’ll probably write nothing like it ever again. It’s not even fantasy, precisely… But it’s my favorite right now, since with most of my other things, I feel like they need a bit of work to be perfect… 😉

Do you outline your novels before you start writing, and if so, how?

I usually do, but it depends. I tend to have at least a rough idea of the story, but I prefer to outline it pretty well. It doesn’t always happen though, and sometimes I just start writing. XD As for how… it changes so much from story to story that I’m slightly at a loss for what to say on that subject. I like to have a “blurb” sort of summary, and if possible a rough list of the main events, at least, and a list of characters. From there it depends.

Who is your favorite character that you created?

*clutches heart* HOW CAN YOU DO THIS TO ME. Ahem. I don’t want to offend anybody. >.> But… yeah… probably Tare. *cough* I can’t help it. I love everyone else too though!! (Also… *twitches at the word “created” since I actually “discover” my stories*)

TareBW

What style of prose are you best at writing (description, dialogue, action, etc.)?

Wow, I have no idea. O_O Um… mayyybe dialog? I do enjoy that the most, I think. But I don’t know if I’m “better” at writing it than other aspects… I would of course love to be equally skilled in all kinds, if I could be!

What is the first thing you do when you start revising a piece of work?

If it’s something pretty big, I print it and go over it with a pen or highlighter. Usually. Not that I’ve revised a lot of things. >.> If it’s just a smaller thing, I just… I don’t know, read through it and fix typos and make sure it actually makes sense? *shrug* I don’t analyze my revising process much since I don’t always make it that far. 😛

When do you write (in the morning, after lunch, before bed, etc.)?

All over the map. I think I WISH that I wrote in the morning, but that I usually write before bed… and, more likely than not, after I SHOULD be in bed… Ahem. I don’t want to be a night-owl but a lot of my writing tends to happen then.

Where do you write (on your bed, at your desk, etc.)?

At my desk on my preciousss my laptop. Unless I happen to be at a write-in for NaNo, in which case I write at a library or restaurant, or if I am writing in my writing-notebook, notes/plotting/etc., in which case I’m usually on my bed or in my comfy reading chair, or occasionally in a car.

What is your favorite music to listen to while you write?

I don’t always listen to music when I write… but if I do, it’s usually something that is a theme-song of sorts for the story in question, or else instrumental Celtic music, usually.

(If I’m writing The Secret of Kedran’s Wood, I’ll sometimes have this one playing. I listened to Stand in the Rain wayyyy too many times when I was writing Darkling Reflections and have no regrets. XD I sadly don’t have a theme-song for The Other Half of Everything. Which is dreadful because it actually is supposed to have music involved because Meridian is a music-nut like Teague is a word-nut. And yet I don’t have any music I associate with the story. No wonder I’m uninspired. -_-)

(very Meridian) (source)

What writing advice do you want to give yourself?

Don’t be afraid. Just write down the stories. Don’t let fear hold you back from putting those words down. Fear of less-than-perfection and all the rest of it is just a trick to make you not write. So just do it — write the tales on your heart, fearlessly. You can perfect them later. What do you fear? Don’t fear it. The pen is mightier than the sword.

Paper Crowns Blogtour: Mirriam Neal Interview

PaperCrowns3

I’m SUPER excited to be part of the Paper Crowns blog-tour (going all month long!) with an interview with Mirriam Neal herself! *cue excited squealing*

I kid you not when I say that when I learned Paper Crowns was published, I spent the next day+ dancing ecstatically around the house making high keening happy noises and randomly shrieking “Paper Crowns is published!!” (You think I’m joking? Ha. Just ask my poor family who had to put up with my fangirling…)

I had the pleasure of beta-reading the story when it was first written, and I remember flailing with happiness whenever I found a new chapter in my inbox. THIS BOOK IS EXCELLENT, PEOPLE.

I recently got the published version (THAT was a happy day, aaahhh!!) and read it again and it was just as good — or, well, BETTER BECAUSE IT’S PUBLISHED! (Aside from some typos. Which I have it on good authority are being fixed, so.) I plan to read it again very soon. Maybe tomorrow… And again soon after that. (What, I’m totally normal, honest.)

PaperCrowns1

(My cat, Callette, was not thrilled about a photo-shoot… BUT CATS. Unfortunately she is not blue, but I love her anyway…)

I AM NOT EXAGGERATING WHEN I SAY THAT THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE BOOKS EVER. It’s just… perfect. Mirriam Neal is a genius writer, and while I’ll read anything she writes, this just takes the cake as the best ever because of its unexpectedly light fantasy faerie-tale feeling. The CHARACTERS are the best of ever (Halcyon! Azrael! Astryn! Ginger! Salazar! Asterope! I love them alllll!) and the humor and bickering and plot and setting are all just perfection.

It has everything: a sarcastic fey blue cat, a fire elemental, a grouchy wysling, a gingery heroine, friends and traitors, villains and lovable heroes, lots and lots of snow, muffins, forests, and a good deal of folded paper. It makes you laugh and wrenches at your heart and makes you fall in love and long to go on an adventure. I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH.

I’m so very excited it’s published now so that I can insist everyone reads it.

And I do, you know. Insist you read it, that is. You will NOT regret it.

THIS BOOK THOUGH!!! ❤

Here’s a bit about the book and author and then on to the interview!

pc

Paper Crowns

Ginger has lived in seclusion, with only her aunt Malgarel and her blue cat, Halcyon, to keep her company. Her sheltered, idyllic life is turned upside-down when her home is attacked by messengers from the world of fae. Accompanied by Halcyon (who may or may not be more than just a cat), an irascible wysling named Azrael, and a loyal fire elemental named Salazar, Ginger ventures into the world of fae to bring a ruthless Queen to justice.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Publisher


Author Bio

tumblr_o4995pxJel1tkzty6o1_500Mirriam Neal is a twenty-two-year-old Northwestern hipster living in Atlanta. She writes hard-to-describe books in hard-to-describe genres, and illustrates things whenever she finds the time.  She aspires to live as faithfully and creatively as she can and she hopes you do, too.

You can connect with Mirriam online here:

Blog | Email


Interview with Mirriam Neal

Deborah: Could you tell us a little about your usual writing process (planning/pantsing), and how the process of writing Paper Crowns was similar or different?

Mirriam: Paper Crowns is different because it was spur-of-the-moment. I more or less woke up one day and thought, ‘I want to write this story,’ and so I did. Usually there’s a lot more work involved – I wait until I have at least half the cast created, until I have a vague idea of the ending, until I know some major plot points. Usually I have a framework, but with Paper Crowns I knew the ‘feeling’ of the book I wanted to write, and that was enough. I wish this happened more often, honestly.

PaperCrowns4

Which character from the Paper books would you say you are the most like?

I actually had to ask my friend Lauren about this. We settled on Rooney (the heroine of Paper Hearts) almost simultaneously. I’d say Rooney is more extraverted than I am, but we share many of the same characteristics.

Part of Paper Crowns takes place in our world . . . Is it any particular place—America, England… (double-decker bus?)—or did you deliberately leave the setting open to the imagination?

I deliberately left the setting open – when I began it, I wasn’t even sure it was set in our world! But I quickly realized it was, and decided it was more fun to leave it open for interpretation. Personally, I see it set in England, but that’s just me.

On that note: Accents. I hear Hal’s accent as British and Asterope’s as some sort of Irish. Is this more-or-less accurate (I hope)?

You’re correct on Asterope’s accent (points to you!) but during the rewrite, I realized Hal’s accent wasn’t so much London as a bit of Korean (Busan-dialect, specifically) with a splash of Scottish.

(I’ll probably still hear Hal as British, but oh well. XD) Will we get to learn which wysling was involved in the intriguing Hal/Astryn/kingfisher backstory and/or might we ever get this tale in book (or even short story) form? Because that would frankly be awesome. 😀

I’ve lowkey considered writing a novella dedicated to this particular slice of backstory, because it would be fantastic fun and I’m as curious about it as anyone!

(Yay!) Is Asterope still going to get his own book?

His book is waiting in the wings; very much alive, but not in the immediate future. Ras Algethi Chow gets his own novel first.

Do the verily muffins have an inspiration?

I was hungry and I wanted muffins. Hunger is good inspiration when writing food.

The main character of Paper Crowns does a lot of origami. Is that an art form you’ve dipped into yourself?

It’s inspired by two things. One: Yes, I’ve always loved origami, although I’ve never been ‘into it.’ I’ve never devoted the time – except for paper airplanes, and paper boxes. I’ve folded those my whole life, and the stories surrounding paper cranes have always fascinated me. Two: Owl City’s ‘Sky Sailing’ album featured a music video starring a paper airplane. That album heavily inspired the novel.

Your answers to a couple of questions from other interviews got me wondering about your outlook on wanting readers to take away a certain message (or not) from many of your books. I’m curious: Do you see there being a difference between tackling a “big question” in a book versus trying to preach a “message” to readers?

It’s a tricky line on which to balance, I’ll give it that, and I used to be ‘preachy’ (although even then, I was trying not to.) I think honesty and a genuine heart are very important when you really want to make your readers think and question. Readers are intelligent. They’ll know if you’re an arrogant know-it-all, forcing an opinion down their throat. Rather than forcing my opinion, I present it. I think that’s the difference.

Your books seem to have simultaneously a freshness of originality and a touch of richness of story that’s already out there. How do you view this in your own writing and what advice do you have for writers about coming up with “new” things but using echoes of other tales and, without “copying,” putting a new spin on them to deepen the story tapestry?

I’ve never been asked this question, honestly, and it’s fascinating. (Also, thank you for the compliment!) I think stories ‘echo’, as you so wonderfully put it, when there’s truth and honesty to them. People will tell you that every story has already been written. If you break a story down into a basic three-step formula, then sure, every story has been written; but I disagree with the statement. A story is so much more than a formula. Each story is different due to hundreds of tiny factors, circumstances, and personal influences from the author. I also find that you can create a world that’s been created a million times before, but if you fill that world with a cast of funky, original, diverse characters, nobody will care about the world. (At least, they won’t care about the world nearly as much as its inhabitants.) Also, I think it’s horrifyingly easy to be caught up in trying too hard. When you try too hard to be original, it shows more care about what people think than the story itself. Novels know what the author cares about, and novels know also know what the author should care about. It’s why readers, I think, can tell the difference between a real novel and a hollow one.

PaperCrowns2

Your vivid characters are a classic feature of your work, and always one of my favorite things. Any tips for writers about writing characters, especially involving interactions, snark, and humorous banter? (Of which you are the queen.) Share your secrets if you have any…

Have a sense of humor. I know that’s not very helpful, but it’s true – you can’t write humor without a sense of it in the first place. I don’t know how to teach a sense of humor, but you can definitely learn it. What makes you laugh? Dissect that. Also, there are many kinds of humor. Subtle, circumstantial, slapstick, sarcastic, trickster. As for the non-humorous part of the question, I think it’s a tendency authors have to think they must know their character perfectly before they start writing them. I used to fill out three or four bio sheets for every character before I wrote them, but in doing so, I essentially murdered their personality before it hit the page. You want them to be alive and breathing when they first open their eyes. You DON’T want them reduced to a set of answered questions. That’s a surefire way to kill them before they’re ever really alive.

Could you tell us a little about what’s next on your writing plate? (When the next Paper book might be out, what other book(s) we might see from you next…?)

Revising Paper Hearts (the sequel to Paper Crowns) is very high on my list, as is editing Dark is the Night (a redemptive vampire novel) and finishing The Dying of the Light (a futuristic samurai retelling of Robin Hood).

Thanks very much for stopping by my blog and putting up with my pestering! 🙂 It’s an honor to have you. ❤

Thank you so much for having me! I had a fantastic time. You have mad interview skills.

***

So what do you think, blog readers of mine? Was this fun or what? (Answer: yes.) Are you going to read Paper Crowns? (The correct answer is OF COURSE. Ahem.) SERIOUSLY THOUGH IT’S AWESOME. ❤ Be sure to check out the rest of the blog tour and enter the GIVEAWAY for a signed copy of Paper Crowns that Mirriam is holding on her blog! 🙂

(…And now I need to go reread Paper Crowns again.)