children's writer

Food and Writing: Icing on Top of a Great Book

Nov 30, 2015

The holidays are here, which means lots of hot chocolate and other sweet treats to help ease those winter blues. If you should know one thing about me it's that I have quite a thing for hot chocolate. My Hungry Girl Drink board on Pinterest is a perfect example of that, but I digress. This post is not about hot chocolate. Well, mostly not about hot chocolate.

In the past weeks, I've had the pleasure of reading two great books. I read Nightbird by Alice Hoffman and The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen. Both of them ended up on my favorites shelf for the same reason. They made me hungry for more, absolutely ravenous.

I loved the way the authors used food to add a touch of sweetness to their narratives. If you didn't know, Nightbird and The Girl Who Chased the Moon are magical realism, meaning that there's just a touch of magic running along the edges, making them quite delightful reads.

From hummingbird cake to pink apple pie, my stomach was growling upon finishing these books. One character even had a cake sense, the ability to sense when cake was being made. Forget being able to fly or read minds, imagine being able to see wisps of sugar and flour swirling through the air like falling snow. How delightful!

During NaNoWriMo, I found myself writing about food more than I'd intended. No doubt reading those wonderful tales had influenced me. I found my main character had a sweet tooth as well, often craving cinnamon hot chocolate, sometimes with extra whipped cream. Now that I'll be heading into revisions in a month or so, I've thinking about how I could play up this sweet element.

While there probably won't be any characters with a cake sense, hats off to Sarah Addison Allen for that one, it's quite obvious that everyone loves a well described meal. I can't be the only one who looked forward to dinner at Hogwarts. So I've been looking through my food boards on Pinterest, searching for hearty meals, the more icing the better, trying to find some way to really delve deeper into my characters. While one character might remember fondly their first love whenever biting into a piece of dark chocolate, another might be reminded of how bitter love can be.

While making readers cry might be at the top of a writer's want list, there's also a big benefit in making their stomach's grumble and their mouths water. When in doubt, add more icing.

So tell me, is food an element you use in your writing? I would love to know.

I Won NaNoWriMo

Nov 29, 2015

I've officially won NaNoWriMo! *throws confetti* I won at 50,016 words. I still can't believe how quickly the month flew by. We say that every month, don't we? Looking back now, it's amazing how different my actual novel is compared to what I originally thought it was going to be.

Despite it not being what I thought it was going to be, I am still in like with the story. If there's anything I've learned this NaNo, it's that every novel comes with its own set of challenges, every story is an opportunity to learn and grow as a writer. I'm glad that I stuck with it.

Right now I think I need a break from the story. I've decided to spend at least two weeks away from it, although a month would be ideal. In the past, I've had such a tough time staying away. I really am exhausted this time around. NaNoWriMo is tough you guys. I'm not surprised it took five years since joining the competition for me to actually win.

I have a feeling that the story needs a lot of work, especially the ending. I'm honestly not entirely happy with it. I hope some distance will help with that. Now that NaNo is over, I'll like to get back to blogging about other things, books and inspiration for other writing projects.

I hope you guys will stick around.

Oh, and next month I'll be participating in the Write Type CP Match.

NaNo Update: Weeks Three and Four

Nov 27, 2015

*wipes sweat off brow* I somehow managed to hit 45k today. What a whirlwind this NaNoWriMo has been. I have to say, I've had a ton of fun working on this story, although the honeymoon phase ended a long time ago. It hasn't been so bad,

The site says I've been averaging 1666 words per day. I need about 1243 words per day to finish, which isn't much at all.

I do hope I can keep writing all the words. How I would love to sit down and bang out five thousand words in one writing session. How do you guys do that? I've read countless posts about it but I'm still struggling. I just want to reach the end already. That's where I am now. Thank goodness I'm almost there.

I don't even know if I'll be able to wrap up the story by the end of the month. It feels like it's going to be much longer. I guess I'll have to see. In the meantime, I've been reading three great books, one paranormal, one magical realism, and one contemporary. I'll blog about them later.

Have a wonderful Friday you guys!

Favorite Lines From Old WIPs

Nov 20, 2015

We all have shelved projects. I know I have many. There are projects I thought would be the one but weren't. There are projects that still make my heart ache when I think about them. And projects that I don't like to think about what so ever because they're that bad. Despite this, there was once a reason I lived for these novels. It might have been a a character or a line I loved, hence the title of this post. These lines have stayed with me through the years.

Summer Spell

Summer Spell was my first "official" novel. It was the first novel I queried and it got me some requests. Set in a small southern town, it's the story about a young girl's struggle to keep her family together during a drought. This scene where Cassi and her father are driving home has always been one of my favorites.
The wagon bounces along on parts of the road that’s uneven. I hear Papa say that Mama’s baking apple pie and I want to ask if they were fresh apples but I know that’s a silly question. I can’t even remember the last time I had an apple plucked right off a tree.

There isn’t much to see out the window because there isn’t much to see in these parts of Louisiana except some dying plants and animals.

A deer standing by the side of road stares at me and I stare at him, as we drive pass, and I know what he’s thinking, this land is theirs now. Even our own backyards aren’t safe anymore.
Gone by the End of July

This novel was much more difficult than my first. I couldn't figure out why back then, but I think I needed to write it in order to grow as a writer. I learned a lot about writing the year I wrote this novel. It's about a girl whose father goes missing one hot day in July, hence the title. In this scene she's had a rough night taking care of her sick momma.
Whenever Momma’s breathing slows down, and it sounds like she’s being suffocated in her sleep, I’m right there, watching. She’s been drifting in and out of her sleep. She coughs a lot. She’s dying. I know she is, and it’s just me and her in this stupid, dirty house.

Tomorrow I’ll clean it. I swear on everything I love I will. I’ll clean from top to bottom, so when Daddy comes back home the whole house won’t smell of cigarette smoke. He’ll see. Then he’d have no choice but to stay with me and Momma where he damn well belongs. I just pray he’ll come back home soon.

I miss him so much already it hurts.

It hurts like I've lost a limb.
Searching for Starlight

I wrote this one not too long ago. I think I wrote it for my middle school self. It's about friendships and wishing on stars, all of the things I still adore. It will always have a special place in my heart. In this scene my main character, Bryn, has just spotted the shooting star she's waited for all summer, the star she thinks will heal her sick mother.
I don’t wait a second longer. Mom doesn’t have any more time. It’s what I tell myself as I climb down, when my foot almost slips on a branch. I hold on tight to the branch above, take a deep breath and say, “For Mom. For Mom. For Mom.”

Dad’s at the door, but I’m stealthier remember. Before he gets it open, I’m out of the tree, running. I take off across the backyard to that loose panel in the fence.

 “Bryn,” Dad calls.

 I glance behind me, shift the panel away, and slip through to the other side. As I run down the street, my tennis shoes hit the ground in loud slaps and my binoculars rise and fall onto my chest. It is true what they say about you, isn’t it?

You are truly magnificent.
Ivy of Our Hearts

Where do I even begin with this one? I thought it would be the one but it wasn't. This story was inspired by the book that inspired me to write in first place, Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. Like Searching for Starlight, it'll always be special to me. I might even rewrite it one day. It's about two teenage girls who get lost in the woods and are kidnapped by a fairy. In this scene my main character, Ivy, has found a clue to the antagonist's past.
I thought it might have been a slip of paper, but it felt too thick. One side felt glossy against my fingers. It had been stuck in there a while so it took some effort to pull it out. Once I did, it became clear that it was a photograph, taken in black and white, yellowed from age, the edges curled like dog ears. A young woman stood in front of the cabin. Her eyes weren’t on the camera but on something else off to her side, which the camera hadn’t caught. I flipped the picture over. In black ink, in a man’s slanting hand, someone had written her name, Nora Callaway, and beneath that the words my beloved.

That's it for me. Of course, there are many more lines I would have loved to share. The family computer is much too slow and old. It took me forever to write up this post. Thanks for reading anyway. Do you have any shelved projects?

NaNo Update: Week Two

Nov 16, 2015

Here are my note cards with scenes on them. I've started to outline.

*Does a happy dance* It's the end of the second week and I'm doing well. So well. I'm on track to finish by the 30th and I couldn't be happier. Now I know that the only thing that was standing in the way of me winning NaNo in the past few years was me. But it's still early and I don't want to jinx myself. I'm going to give it all that I have to make it to the finish line.

I'm currently at 23k. Last week I didn't surpass the word count goal but that's okay. I'm happy as long as I can update my word count every day. I've been in such a great mood writing this novel. I've allowed myself to go back and read what I have so far. I know that's a no no, but I wasn't too disappointed. Don't get me wrong, this story needs a lot of work. A lot! I'm already looking forward to the next few months of editing and making it the very best it can be.

My biggest inspiration this week, like the last, has been you guys. You guys are rocking your word counts. I also wanted to share this new cover I made. It kind of stinks, but making art for my writing helps the words flow.

My goal for next week is to write the amount of words I need every day to hit 50k. It's my goal for every week this month. I can't believe we'll be at 30k soon. November only just started. Right? Well, it's flying by. Some people have already won NaNo. Oh how I wish to be them.

Favorites From My Writing Playlist: Indie

Nov 11, 2015
My taste in music has certainly grown over the years. I am no longer that teen that only listens to one particular type of music. I've branched out, tested the waters, and I have come to the conclusion that indie is one of my favorite genres. Today I'd like to share a few indie songs I really like. I tried to pick songs/artists that aren't so known.

1. Meg & Dia - Summer Clothes

I used to have a major crush on Meg & Dia. I've recently rediscovered them, and I just love this song. As the song implies, it's perfect for summer.

2. Jaymay - Sea Green, See Blue

This is new to my playlist, but I think it's really charming. 

3. Little May - Boardwalks 

I think this song is quite lovely, but that's only because I can't find the perfect words to describe how much I truly love it.

4. Lisa Hannigan - Lille 

I'm big fan of Lisa Hannigan. I had this song on a playlist I did for a middle grade story I wrote last year I believe. It has just the right amount of magic.

5. Hem - Funnel Cloud

Hem must have the most charming voice ever. I have quite a few of their songs on my playlist. I find this one to be soothing and magical.

Who's your favorite indie band? I would love to know.

Beautiful Books: The Writing Process

Nov 10, 2015

Good morning folks! Today I'm participating in a Beautiful Books link-up. It's the second week of NaNoWriMo and it's going well. I have fell behind a little bit, but I hope to catch up today. I'm at 15k and I'm aiming for 20k. I know it's a long shot for me, but I want to see if I can do it.

That being said, let's jump right into it.

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

So far it is. It's going quite well. I haven't hit any real rough spots yet. I'm still quite in love with the story. I feel like I have a lot to discover about my characters and I'm looking forward to it. *crosses fingers behind back* But really, I'm in bliss writing this story.

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

Cora Elizabeth Emerson, a witch of seventeen, applied her favorite shade of red lipstick, and set out to ruin someone’s life.

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

consider myself a pantser. For this novel, I did write a brief description but that was is it. I have tried plotting before. I found it took the fun out of writing for me. Honestly, there always comes a time in the story when I feel like I need to see where it's going. Only then will I get out my index cards.

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

I haven't set any rewards for myself. Maybe I should. It would probably be chocolate or a good book

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

I don't know. It changes from story to story. I like for my main character's name to sound a certain way. I'd like for it to flow well with the narrative. For names I really like this blog

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

The beginning of course because I find getting started is much easier than maintaining a momentum.

7. Who's your current favorite character in your novel?

My main character Cora has been my favorite to write so far. I'm finding her to be wonderfully complex. I'm looking forward to getting to know her more. I love writing witches.

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

Um, I haven't researched much. I can't even remember honestly. I must have Googled something, but I don't thing my searches have been so weird this time around. I'm mostly using my imagination.

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

I write better alone for sure. I have shared my first draft as I was writing it. I did find the encouragement helped, but I think I write faster when I keep it to myself.

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.
  1. I wake up really early in the morning and try to get writing anywhere from six-thirty to seven-thirty. This routine has really helped me.
  2. Tea! Tea! Tea! Or hot chocolate. 
  3. Yes! I have a Spotify playlist that I listen to for inspiration, and I love 8tracks for finding new tunes or listening to classical mixes. I write best to music without lyrics.
  4. I'm a morning writer through and through.

That's it for me! How's NaNo going for you? 

NaNo Update: Week One

Nov 9, 2015

Here's a picture of index cards and pushpins. It doesn't really have anything to do with this post, but I'm trying to take more photos for this blog.

Week one of NaNo is complete! I managed to keep up, despite not writing anything on Saturday. I was up since two o'clock Sunday morning determined to catch up. I ended up with a little over three thousand words that day. That's a personal best for me.

But although I am on target to finish by November 30th, I would like to kick things up a notch. Some of you guys have already hit the halfway mark. Wow! That's some great motivation.

I've settled into a new routine of writing anywhere between six-thirty and ten in the morning. It's helped a ton. I know when I sit down it's time to get to work. MAGICAL MISFORTUNE is coming along quite nicely. I find the scenes I love to write most are the ones with magic in them. My main character is a witch and it's been fun seeing how I could get her to do some hexes.

Needless to say, I'm having a blast. This is the best NaNo ever.

How are you guys doing? Do you think you'll win this time around? I'd love to know. 


Nov 2, 2015
I do hate when I miss a post. It makes my blog look so barren. This week will be much better, and what a better way to kick off the month of November but with a Currently post.

Vanessa Carlton, a singer I've loved since childhood, recently released her newest album. I'm loving her new single "Willows." It's so haunting.

I'm currently reading way too many books at once. The one that I'm really enjoying though is All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. I'm only about one hundred pages in, but I've heard nothing but good things about it. I'll make sure to keep a box of tissues close.

I've mostly been watching Bob's Burgers on Netflix, but I did check out Scream Queens during a marathon they were having on Saturday night and I did find it entertaining. I liked how they wove in a bit of humor alongside the more gruesome elements.

Thinking about...
Yesterday was the first day of NaNoWriMo, and I somehow managed to write two thousand words. Guys, for me, that's a new record. I've never written so many words in one sitting before. Usually I would aim for one thousand words and call it a day, but I knew I needed to kick things up a notch. I'm off to a great start, and I hope to keep the momentum. I did change my NaNo project at the last minute. I won't say much about it, but I made a cover using Canva.

I'm not anticipating much, except to make it to the end of this manuscript come the end of November.

Making Me Happy...
Writing, telling stories, is making me so happy right now.