The NaNo Diaries: My Beauty

Recently I wrote a post in which I said, “So it begins” and told you all the things I was dreading about NaNo.

That was the first installment of what I plan to call The NaNo Diaries. Sounds epic, doesn’t it? 

Thank you. You are too kind.

As much as I would love to post about NaNo each and every day, that is simply going to be impossible. To be perfectly honest with you, posting at all during the month November feels impossible.

But for your sakes…

Well, suffice it to say I hope to post at least a of couple of these brilliant posts, because I love you all so much and would do many a harder thing for you.

Feel free to pause and let your heart melt just a little bit.

Moving on. This edition of The NaNo Diaries is going to be a linkup with my friends Cait and Sky to give you a bit of an update on how things are going.

And so, without further ado,The Glorious Questions, as Cait likes to call them…

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

I’m doing fine.

The amount of writing isn’t that hard, though I do feel like I’m under a lot of pressure. School obviously has to come first, so I am admittedly jittery until I meet my quota each day. And  relieved when I meet it… And then I start all over the next day.

And I have begun dreaming about writing, so that’s… interesting.

How is my novel going? I feel like the least-qualified person to be answering that question, sir.

It’s certainly not going the way I expected, that’s for sure.

What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

Mkali ran through the woods at a breakneck pace, panting for breath.

Well, don’t that sound exciting!

Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

Makovu, all the way. But don’t tell him I said that.

What do you love about your novel so far?

The dialogue.

To be honest with you, dialogue scares me. I used to call it my weakness, but then I realized that wasn’t quite true.

It’s my fear.

Because when my characters start talking… it’s like I’m not in control anymore. They are.

They say what they want to say and there’s nothing I can do about it. Conversations take crazy turns and suddenly things aren’t going in the direction I planned at all.

So it’s scary. But fun. Definitely fun.

Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?

I left the l out of plunked.

Punked. Sounds hipster, don’t you think?

I misspell my main character’s name regularly, which is slightly embarassing.

I have begun using the words write and right interchangeably.

And I just tried to write “lullaby” with four l‘s.

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

Middle, I think.

Though I loved the beginning. And I’m excited about the end.

But the middle largely consists of Makovu being nasty and I adore him.

What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

I occasionally listen to music on my tablet, but if I know the song and it has lyrics, I have a bad habit of doing more lip-syncing than writing. 

Instrumental music solves that problem, but not the one about how I like to dance.

Finally, I resort to Josh Groban singing in Portuguese, Italian, or French. Though I have actually memorized some of those, too, even though I have no idea what I’m saying…

I can’t write early in the day because of school, so I am forced to write almost exclusively during the evenings.

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 gave my mother a heads-up about it so she would be less likely to wonder what all his writing was for and I occasionally update my little brother on how things are going.

Other than that, I don’t talk about it.

I am a lonely soul. I will not accept hugs, but chocolate is always appreciated.

What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?

I told myself I would do this; I will do it.

That’s just who I am, folks.

I finish what I start.

What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

Have fun. Why else do people write, anyway?

Try not to think about anything that doesn’t have to do with putting the next words on the page.

Eat chocolate whenever possible.

I know, I know. My brilliance knows no bounds.

As always, a big thank you to the lovely ladies for hosting and the genius who comes up with the questions! If you don’t  the link to your Beautiful Books, I will hunt you down and murder you in your sleep… Also tell me how NaNo is going for you and who your favorite character is so far and what your secret weapon is and what you’re eating and listening to during NaNo!

I Am Doing NaNo And How That Unnatural Phenomenon Occurred

I have never participated in National Novel Writing Month before. 

Cue the gasps of poorly-concealed horror.

My reasoning was as follows:

“I am supposed to be writing like a fiend all time, and I don’t. So what makes you think that the fact that it being November is going to change that, huh?”


Due to an inspiring post by the lovely Christine from Musings of an Elf – and the conversation we had afterwards – not to mention being utterly destroyed with admiration over what Cait just did, I done got determined.

I decided that this story has been crawling around in my head for far too long. I have had enough.

Consider war declared, book.

School, obviously, has to be done first. But I refuse to keep allowing myself to use this fact as an excuse not to write at all. I have a smidge of evening, do I not? I have something remotely resembling a weekend.

So yesterday I sat down – actually laid down. On my stomach. On a hardwood floor. Pain is motivating, friends – and wrote almost 3,000 words.

Clearly I am not Cait yet. Maybe someday.

Again and again I have read that when authors look back over their careers they feel that the best thing they ever did to get better at writing was to discipline themselves to write every day.

I was too scared to attempt this because I knew that I would hold myself to it and my own dogged determination can be a little terrifying.

No more.

I have resolved to write daily, even if it kills me. And in the event that it does, my ghost will surely be kind enough to finish the book.

If by some strange miracle I actually finish the book before November arrives, I will most likely feel disappointed in myself for my premature plunge, but, never fear, I will join you all anyway!

Depending on how things look at the end of the month, I plan on making some outrageous goal – like editing the entire thing, or doubling the length, or scrapping everything and starting from scratch – and then amusedly watching myself fail. Good times.

Now. Around something like the 5th of every month, Cait and Sky host Beautiful People. Which actually turns out to be Beautiful Books this month in honor of the upcoming time of doom. So if you like this post – and even if you don’t – I recommend you head on over there and see what be happening.

Now onto the questions!

What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

I am going to preface my answer by saying that I was only eleven. Don’t judge me.

My little brother and I were playing pretend. School, to be exact. Why any kid would enjoy pretending to do school when real school is excruciating enough, I don’t know.

I was the teacher and I gave the students – myself and my brother – an assignment to write a story.

I wrote about a girl with curly black hair who ran away from home when her mother died and went to live in the woods. One day she got caught in a steel trap – like the ones in The Fox and the Hound – and a dragon-riding man in black came to her rescue. The end.

It has evolved somewhat, in case you were wondering.

Describe what your novel is about!

When Keira’s caretaker hands her over to his worst enemies, Keira’s loyalties are divided between the man she loves and the vicious dictator who saved her life.

And when she is forced to choose between them, she betrays them both by choosing herself instead and running away to the mountains.

Pursued by a mysterious brotherhood, she finds herself in a maze of subterranean tunnels where she quickly weakens without the light that sustains her.

Saint is a rogue assassin, but he has been sent on a mission to save Keira at all costs. Forced to put aside their differences and their growing attraction, they join the brotherhood that would kill them undercover.

Keira makes the decision to give up what is most important to her to save an innocent life.

What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

Aesthetic: a set of principles underlying and guiding the work of a particular artist or artistic movement.

Ah! Now that that is out of the way…

I am committed to good quality writing that has a message – not just mindless, unsubstantial fluff. I believe that story has the power to change lives, and I do not take that lightly, or want to ever misuse that power.

Introduce us to each of your characters!

Keira is my main character, but the book is not written from her point of view. She is more of an antihero than a heroine, to be honest with you. She is reserved and cold and manipulative, a definite survivor. She looks out only for herself.

The book is written from Edmonde’s point of view. He is my villain and Keira’s big-brother figure. He’s merciless.

Alex is a sweet, boyish, unabashedly flirtatious warrior and Prince of the Nomads. And Keira’s best friend.

Saint is a freelance assassin who hears directly from God – though for many years he has been refusing to listen. He’s sarcastic and cynical and angry.

Roth is Saint’s mother and was Keira’s guardian until she – Roth, that is – died. Um, spoiler alert?

How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

I just write.

Obviously, inspiration comes first and I might to a little brainstorming, but I’ve found that the best way to wpork out the details is to hash it out on paper.

I do follow a rudimentary kind of outline, but that usually comes together after I begin writing.

What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

Um, hearing what other people think of it?

List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

The setting is diverse, which is always fun. There’s a lot of desert and underground tunnels and lush jungle and mountain crags and snow.

Recently, I was skimming through a book about the show Game of Thrones. The setting is just amazing, so I like to think of that as a kind of inspiration for my book’s setting. Don’t get me wrong, I had the idea for the setting long ago. But those pictures definitely cemented how I wanted things to look.

You may have already picked up on a fantasy vibe and that’s what I want. I want the setting to be fundamentally unlike anything from history.

What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Keira’s goal is to stay alive. That sounds small and mean when I put it out there like that, but its the truth. Told ya she was more of an antihero.

Lots of things stand in her way. Edmonde, the Shadow, all the people trying to kill her.

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

Early in the book, Keira decides to look out for herself before anyone else.

One of the last things she does is to give up her soul to save a young girl that she recognizes as better than herself.

What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

Deep question.

I want the book to convey the idea that even the imperfect things can be beautiful. That beauty can be found in the midst of great pain and brokenness.

Tell me about your book! What is at the heart of the story you are telling? Who are your main characters? What inspired you to write this story? And don’t forget to include a link to your own Beautiful People in the comments – on pain of death!

Introducing… Alec!

Hi, everyone!

Since I have focused almost exclusively on Elle in all the other Beautiful Peoples I have done so far, I thought I would switch things up this month and write about Alec!

Alec is the hero of the story, Elle’s counterpart, and unquestionably my nicest character. Elle, the main character of my story, is more of an antihero herself. Saint is the antihero of the story. And Edmonde is the bad guy. Compared to all of them, Alec is sweet and innocent.

And if you haven’t yet, go check out what everybody else did this month!


1. How did you come up with this character?

It’s not glamorous, but I was playing pretend with my little brother when I was eleven and the idea for this story kind of just popped into my head. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to get it out. It wouldn’t let me alone. This story wants to be written, folks.

But that doesn’t tell you where Alec came from, does it? He was not actually a member of the original cast. Which isn’t so surprising since the “original cast” consisted of a girl, her mother, her father, and a dragon man.

Alec appeared on the scene several drafts later. He hasn’t changed much since then. He was always supposed to be a soldier, always supposed to be blond, always supposed to have a sense of humor, and always intended to be Elle’s best friend.


2. Have they ever been starving? Why? And what did they eat to break the fast?

Alec is a prince. So no, he’s never been starving. And as a soldier living in the desert, he has learned to be resourceful.


3. Do they have a talent or skill that they’re proud of?


Killing people? Strategizing? Flirting with women?

He is definitely proud of his status as a Warrior.


4. List 3 things that would make them lose their temper.


This is a hard one. Alec is so good-natured…

Let’s see… whining and complaining from his men, when people don’t trust his decisions, when his father treats him like a child and doesn’t think he can handle responsibility.


5. What is their favourite type of weather? Least favorite?


They don’t have a lot of weather of any kind in the desert, but I’m gonna say he likes the rain simply because it gives him a break from the monotony of stifling heat, and that he doesn’t like the typical, hot, dry days.


6. What is their Hogwarts house and/or MBTI personality?


Awkward moment…

I haven’t actually read any of the Harry Potter books, or watched any of the movies? So, while I know the names of a couple of the houses, I don’t know what they represent. Had to Google “MBTI” and still don’t know how it works, so…

I’m just gonna pass on this one?


7. Are they more likely to worry about present problems, or freak out about the unknown future?


I’m gonna say both. Because Alec cares about other people, that also makes him something of a worrier.

As a soldier, it’s his job to think ahead and worry about impending problems. But he also cares about what’s happening in the here-and-now.


8. What is their favourite thing to drink?


Wine. But they also drink a lot of tea.


9. What is their favourite color? Least favorite?


This question remind anyone of Peeta? Anyone?


White, green, and black. White because he loves the white sand of his home, green because it means life, black because it is the color of his people.


Least favorite? Red. The color of blood.


10. What is a book that changed their life?

Alec doesn’t know how to read, so no book has ever had the opportunity to change his life.


Want to know more about Alec, Elle, Saint, and Edmonde? Check out Appearance Edition, Childhood Edition, Villain Edition, Evil Edition, and Beautiful People #17!


What did you think? Do you like Alec? Do you have a character like him? Did you participate in Beautiful People this month? Tell me about your characters and stories!

My First Beautiful People!

I have never participated in Beautiful People before but now that I am following both Sky‘s and Cait‘s blogs, I am so excited to join them now!

So, without further ado, my first Beautiful People:

1. How often do they smile? Would they smile at a stranger?

Denise does not smile very much. Justus is probably the only person in her life who can make her smile.  It’s not so much that Denise is never happy… she just doesn’t express her happiness in smiles. She holds her happiness inside her, I suppose. She wouldn’t make eye contact with a stranger, much less smile at them.

2. What is the cruelest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?

Hmmm… Denise has had to deal with some cruel revelations in her time. 

A “friend” had to break the news to her that she was going to be forced to marry and produce the heir of an elite Nomad leader – who also happens to be the boy she fell in love with, but she doesn’t know that. And honestly, it might not make that much of a difference, because it doesn’t matter who when you’re being forced, right? Her initial reaction is to be terrified, but outwardly she is detached.

Derk admitted to her that he was kind of using her as a pawn, so that was pretty cruel. She was more verbal than usual here. She screams at him some, but calms down pretty quickly.

3. What is the kindest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?

That Justus is in love with her. She takes it in stride. She kind of already knew, so it wasn’t much of a surprise. Still, when someone makes a declaration it becomes more real and you have to deal with it, so Denise did deal with some shock. She was pained by what he said, but Denise is good at concealing her emotions. Too good.

4. What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?

This is a great question! I haven’t come up with a “first memory” for Denise yet, but she has some vague, blurry memories of her life before coming to The Empire. I should probably give her a real “first memory.”

5. What book (a real actual published book!) do you think your character would benefit from reading?

Um, any book? Denise can’t read, so… she would probably love to read just about anything. I guess if I had to pick just one I’d say the Bible?

6. Have they ever been seriously injured? How severely? How did they react?

Derk sprained her ankle, but he told Denise he was going to before he did it, so she was prepared at least. She also believed it was for a good cause. She deals with pain remarkably well. When he did this, she gasped at the pain but did not scream or cry. Come to think of it, Denise rarely screams or cries.

7. Do they like and get along with their neighbours?

I don’t know if this question is meant literally or not. Denise doesn’t have any neighbors. If we’re just referring to the people around her, then she gets along with them fine but does not particularly like any of them.

8. On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being easy and 10 being difficult) how easy are they to get along with?

Well… she’s extremely easy to get along with in some respects. She doesn’t bother anyone, or talk to them at all. But she’s next to impossible to get to know, so in that way, she’s hard to get along with. She doesn’t let people in.

9. If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go?

Anywhere that isn’t permanently dark.

10. Who was the last person they held hands with?

Wow, this is a bit of a problem. I don’t think Denise has ever held hands with anyone. I will have to remedy this…

So there you have it? Do you have any questions about Denise? Do you have any characters who bottle their emotions? Who are calculated and cold?

Mirror, Mirror: Elle

Time for Beautiful People!

This is a meme hosted by Cait at Paper Fury and Sky at Further Up And Further In, intended to help you get to know your characters better, get support and feedback from your peers, and get to know other people like yourself – or, at the least, people as like yourself as anyone can be…

Let’s get started!

1. Give a brief overview of their looks. (Include a photo if you want!)

Elle is tall and slender, with dark hair, large eyes, unusually high cheekbones – think Eskimo – and dark skin.

2. Share a snippet that involves description of their appearance.

Um, sorry. There is no such snippet in existence, as of yet. My apologies.

3. What is the first thing people might notice about them?

Her eyes. They are large and dominate her face.

At first her eyes are eerie because they are, for lack of a better word, lifeless. After she is Awakened, they return to their natural amber brown color, but would still catch your attention because of their unusual color and the fact that they give you the impression that they are smoldering.

4. What are their unique features? (Ex: freckles, big ears, birthmark, scars, etc.)

I seem to already have answered this question a few times before…

No matter. I shall repeat.

Her eyes. Her height. Her dark skin.

5. How tall are they? What is their build (Ex: stocky, slender, petite, etc.)?

I’d say about six feet tall.

It’s funny, because originally, I wanted her to be short. Unusually so. Like around five feet or so.

How things change.

6. What is their posture like? How do they usually carry themselves?

Elle always has perfect posture. Her head is always held high. She has what you might call a regal bearing.

But she’s also intimidating. Her manner is not one that would encourage familiarity – as in, she’s not the type of girl you would walk up and hug. She’s standoffish, and you can tell.

7. Your character has been seen on a “lazy day” (free from usual routine/expectations): what are they wearing and how do they look?

She’d be wearing close-fitting trousers and a loose tunic. Her hair would probably be loose down her back.

8. Do they wear glasses, accessories, or jewelry on a regular basis? Do they have any article of clothing or accessory that could be considered their trademark?

She wears her hair loose, as I said, but it is interwoven with braids. This indicates warrior status, and even though Elle is not a warrior, her unique circumstances allow her to claim this honor.

Upon joining the Nomads, Elle made the decision to embrace her heritage in the few ways she could, so she got her nose, ears, and right eyebrow pierced.

9. Have they ever been bullied or shamed because of their looks? Explain!

Not really, no. Though perhaps she doesn’t fit in among the Nomad women as well as somehow who wasn’t so overtly different-looking.

10. Are they happy with how they look? If they could change anything about their appearance, what would it be?

Elle doesn’t care about how she looks, though if you were to ask her she would probably say that she doesn’t think she’s nice-looking.

Want to know more about Elle? Check out Childhood Edition, Evil Edition, Villain Edition and Beautiful People #17!

What do your characters look like? What do Elle’s looks tell you about her? Do you know anyone who looks like Elle? Does she remind you of anyone? Do you think someone’s personality is reflected in their looks?

Tell Me About Your Childhood: Elle

How is it already time for another Beautiful People?

Not that I’m not excited. I am.

It’s just that time is behaving a bit oddly, if you ask me. Vanishing before my eyes in this completely unacceptable fashion.

You would think it would have just a bit more respect for my personal life.

Anyway. Beautiful People!

Beautiful People is hosted by Cait and Sky – thank you, ladies! – and is so much fun, and a great way to connect with other writers. So go check it out! You can also check out last month’s Beautiful People here.

And whoever it is that thinks up the questions does a fantastic job.

The questions are killer. And this month is no exception.

1. What is their first childhood memory?

Hmm… this question was asked last time, too, and I ended up drawing a blank.

I’m gonna say that Denise’s first memory is of Roth singing to her and Saint as they all sat huddled on the bed.

But this memory is hazy and vague. Denise does not even think of it as a memory as much as a recurring dream or a flashback she can’t explain – so she doesn’t try to.

2. What were their best and worst childhood experiences?

The best was definitely her few short days with Justus – though this is kind of cheating, as Denise was not a “child” in the full sense of the word, when this happened. It’s the best I can do.

Her whole childhood has been a nightmare, but being taken hostage was rather traumatic. But, again, I don’t know if this “counts” as Denise was too young to remember being taken from her family.

3. What was their childhood home like?

For most of Denise’s early life, she lived with Roth and Saint with the Fallen. They made their home in the mountain crags, so it was beautiful. But Denise cannot remember her early home.

All she can remember is The Empire, where she has lived since she was four years old. There, she is surrounded by brutality, death, and poverty.

Denise lives in the Fortress, with Derk and what’s left of his family. Her room is bare and hollow. The floor is wooden. She has no windows. There is only one door, and it leads to the hallway. Her bed is the only thing in the room.

Except for the chest.

4. What’s something that scared them as child?

Denise has never known the sensation of fear.

5. Who did they look up to most?

Derk. He is like an older brother to her.

6. Favourite and least favourite childhood foods?

Food has never been particularly appetizing in The Empire. She likes red meat when she can get it, which isn’t often. She dislikes gruel and stale bread.

7. If they had their childhood again, would they change anything?

She would change everything. She would probably choose to live with the Nomads. Or perhaps even to fend for herself, live alone in the desert.

8. What kind of child were they? Curious? Wild? Quiet? Devious?


Denise refused to talk after coming to The Empire, so quiet would be a bit of an understatement. She was a self-imposed mute.

9. What was their relationship to their parents and siblings like?

She had no parents or siblings. When she lived with Saint, they were inseparable. She admires Derk but they do not spend time together.

10. What did they want to be when they grew up, and what did they actually become?

Free. She wanted to be free.

And she became anything but.

Now that you know a little bit more about Denise, what do you think? Does she remind you of one of your own characters? Do you think you would like Denise if you met her in person, or hate her? Can you relate to her?