I Won Camp(!) + Discussing Battle Song’s Problems & Positives + Too Much Parenthetical Commentary

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Photo by samsommer on Unsplash–thank you!

Okay, so my Camp NaNoWriMo goal was less than any other NaNo goal I’ve had in the 4.5 years I’ve done it (only 20,000 words). But it’s been over a year since I won a NaNoWriMo event, so just winning felt awesome and like I could do amazing things.

Screenshot 2017-08-01 at 4.16.21 PMLook at my lovely chart…. Clearly, I did not do very well during the first half of the month (partly because I went on vacation for an entire week), but I pulled in by the very last day. (Go procrastination!) Not quite as awesome as the NaNo where I wrote 12K the last day to win, but still pretty great.

Also, this draft (rewrite?) is turning out much better than the first one–and also very different. It’s become more emotional (I hope) and a lot more centered on war and fighting and the results of that/how that affects people. But also still about family and religion and love and all of that fun stuff. (Not sure if I told you this, but there’s an actually semi-decent synopsis/blurb on the Battle Song page! *nudges you to check it out*)

But there’s still some stuff that I have yet to figure out. My biggest problem right now is figuring out what exactly Amrya traded with the sea witch. You see, the whole idea of this novel came about from the idea that the little mermaid traded in her beauty instead of her voice. But then…that didn’t work. It didn’t affect the story at all because it’s not about beauty or about a society that really cares about beauty.

So then I decided that she was going to trade out her fighting skills, but that didn’t work because when I began writing this second draft, Amrya’s personality changed a bit. Rather than liking being a warrior, she hates fighting and killing but feels honor-bound to do it. So giving up her fighting skills was not going to challenge her enough.

When I wrote the scene between her and the sea witch, I had her trade some heartscales, which are like tokens of war + mer currency, which worked but also doesn’t affect her after she becomes human.

Now I’m wondering, should I just have her lose her voice like the original? It would better follow the original fairy tale narrative, and I think I can make it work and still have decent character development, but I still don’t know if it will affect her enough. The story isn’t about not being able to communicate; it’s about not wanting to fight. And though having her lose her voice could work, I’m afraid that it’ll detract from the point I’m trying to get across.

(What is that point? you may ask… Well, probably something along these lines: life has value + war is sometimes necessary + family is important + faith + true love and friendship + something else maybe? But that’s what it seems like it’s heading toward.)

So…what do you think? Do you think that it’s okay to have her not trade anything that really affects her (considering that the part that really affects her is that she has to marry one specific person)? Should I have her lose her voice at the risk of it sounding like it was just put there because of the original fairy tale or would it work because it’s from the original fairy tale? Or maybe she just loses it partly (like only the magic part or only for a certain amount of time)? Or do I need to find something else entirely that would make it hard? I don’t know, but I just really need someone’s opinion besides my own.

Okay, we’ve talked about my issues with Battle Song; what about the good parts? Well, there are actually quite a few.

1. The mer culture decided it wanted to be something different and it was awesome. Like, it’s still the same basic warrior clan idea thing, and there’s still a lot I have to develop more fully, but there’s magic that’s awesome and relates to singing! (Points for reference to the little mermaid’s voice being important.) And I kind of figured out why they’re fighting…which kind of leads to the next point.

2. The big problems with the mers got figured out and incorporated into the plotline! The problems were:

  • Where did the mers come from?
  • Why don’t they have immortal souls while the humans do?
  • Why are they always fighting?
  • And I also figured out why the humans are fighting, so points for that too!

And I can’t tell you the answers (because spoilers) but they’re pretty great and are actually important to the plot.

3. The minor character becomes more important. So in the original, after the little mermaid saves the prince, some girls from a convent/temple find him and he thinks one of them was the one to rescue him (and the little mermaid can’t tell him otherwise because she can’t talk). Of course, he thinks he’ll never see her again (she is in a convent, after all), but–surprise! Turns out she’s a princess from a neighboring kingdom, just put there to learn “every royal virtue.” And then the prince falls in love with her and the little mermaid turns into seafoam and that’s the end.

Anyway, this princess (Malena is her name) made a brief appearance in the first draft of Battle Song, but she becomes much more important in this draft. Not only as the character from the original fairy tale but also as Amrya’s friend and the one who introduces her to the religion of the island (which I just now realize should probably get a name). And I wrote a scene with her yesterday and I learned some deep stuff about her and she’s a great character.

So yes, I have been having fun with it (despite all of the struggles)! Somehow I doubt I will finish this first draft before the end of summer…but I do want to keep writing every day and make this story as awesome as it can be!


let’s talk!

How much do you think I should write this August? 30K? More/less? And please help me and give me some advice for what Amrya should trade! (Or at least commiserate with me and offer me chocolate?) And what did you write for Camp NaNo (if you did)? How did it go? And have you ever read the original little mermaid fairy tale, and what did you think of it and its ending?

Also I hope you enjoyed the rambling because I did and I will probably ramble more about stuff in Battle Song, hehe.

I “Finished” Battle Song–Writing With the End in Mind

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I know, I know, you got so excited when you saw this. “Whoa, she finished her novel in a month? Awesome!”

Well, not really…but I did finish the end of Battle Song(Which was only about 5,000 words long…so not that awesome.)

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I was browsing on Pinterest and I saw a writing tip that said to start writing at the end, so that you know where you’re going with the story. Since I’m not an outliner, this sounded like a great idea to try. Normally, I never have endings planed out.

So I took some time to prepare (though, not too much, since I already had a basis of the world from last November, when I originally started Battle Song). I figured out a few main scenes I wanted to happen at the end, and then I decided to write it.

But every single scene didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to.

Some might call it a waste of time because I’ll probably only use two or three paragraphs plus some phrases of that ending, but I thought it was rewarding, and here’s why.

Because the ending turned out so much what I didn’t want, I figured out what I did want.

I took a few notes while I was writing, and here’s a few of them to show you what I mean:

When this is rewritten I need to do better at the dagger her sisters giving her being more tempting or something…this is a bit not intense enough, as if everything is already decided. There’s not enough realization.


Ugh, there’s so much explaining in the scene. I want Amrya to figure almost all of it out, if possible, and have <spoiler> be the cinching moment when it all comes together. So I’ll need more stuff throughout the book.


(And a good one.)

Ooh okay so she has this ancestry line… <spoiler spoiler> So as she’s learning more about them, she’s thinking about her ancestors, realizes that…interesting, hehe. Yay!


It was a great learning experience for me. These last few scenes were supposed to be pivotalintense scenes, and they just really weren’t. Writing them told me that I needed to bring more elements of the ending throughout the entire book, so that there would be traces and hints to what would happen from the very beginning.

Basically I need to foreshadow.

Additionally, writing the ending first helped me figure out what I really wanted with this story. What I wanted the reader to feel, to come away with. I’m still figuring it out, but I have a much better idea.

In the first version I started (that is, Battle Song 1.0, (this is 2.0)), Amrya trades her beauty rather than her voice. I realized that, as I was writing 1.0, I didn’t want that. It didn’t affect her enough.

As I tried to figure out the exact aspects of her deal with the sea witch, I was having a lot of trouble, but I came up with a few ideas. Writing the ending scene, when it came up again, helped me figure it outEven though I’m still not sure about it. But it’s better.

And religion! In the original story by Hans Christian Andersen, part of the reason the little mermaid wants to become a human and marry the prince is so that she can have an immortal soul. (The mermaids don’t have souls–they drift into seafoam at death–but marriage to a human would combine his soul with hers.)

It came up in 1.0, but I didn’t really realize how important I wanted it to be, and how much it affected the story. I was really intrigued by this aspect that Disney took out (well, they took out a lot of things), and as I planned and wrote this ending, it became a very integral part of the plot line.

(Not to mention that there was a little scene that was like a fluffy bit of goodness and I love it to death.)

Writing the end was pretty awesome, and it’s also helped me as I restart with Battle Song 2.0! I’ve written one chapter, and it’s pretty great, mostly because of the development I did. Everything is a lot more important to Amrya as a character and expressed in much better ways.

So, writing the end? I’d call it a success.


let us speak to each other wonderful words

Well…that was kind of a rambly post. What did you think? It was supposed to be a writing advice post but I think it turned into more of an update post, so…oops.

Have you ever tried writing/planning out the ending to your stories/novels first? How do you plan for your ending? How do you plan your novel–or do you? What things are absolutely essential to figure out before you start writing?

Oh, and check out Battle Song‘s new pageIt’s even got a synopsis and everything. *wink wink* Don’t ask me why I winked there. I just did.

The Writer’s Tag

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I know, I haven’t done a tag since…well, since the Week of Blog Tags, and I don’t remember how long ago that was. But what writer doesn’t love talking about writing? And when May @ Forever and Everly tagged anyone who wanted to do it, why not do it…a month later? (That’s pretty good for me, actually.) Thanks, May!

So, it’s time for The Writer’s Tag! Where I talk about writing!


What genres, styles, and topics do you write about?

Lots of things, but I suppose it’s usually the same things that I like to read about!

For genresFantasy with cool plot reveals and a dash of romance. But, you know, I’ve never read epic science fiction, and yet that’s something else I’m writing about? I need to read more sci-fi…anyone know of any books?

For styles: I usually write in 3rd person, past tense, but for Battle Song, which I’m starting to work on again, it’s actually in 1st person! And my writing style is usually fairly straightforward. I would love to develop better word choice and a more beautiful writing style, but mine is pretty simple right now.

For topics: I love to write about dragons, magic, fairy tale retellings, cultures/beliefs, deep characters, and war. Probably too much war. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m not sure that I’ve written a novel that doesn’t have war in it…I just love the strength and heroism it brings out in people!


How long have you been writing?

For as long as I can remember! I still have old notebooks from when I was in elementary school with unfinished stories in them (usually about fairies or orphans…who knows?).

However, I never really took writing seriously as something I’d actually want to do with my life until my dad suggested we do Camp NaNoWriMo together, in April 2013. That’s when I realized how much I loved writing.

Then, 2014 was when writing became more a part of my life, when I took the 365K challenge and tried to write a thousand words every day.

And now, I’m trying to make writing my career, so I guess it depends on your definition of “writing”. Maybe I’m just beginning!


Why do you write?

I write because I love it. I write because if I don’t write, my mind fills with new ideas and new plots, and my Creative Dragon awakes within me, telling me that it won’t leave me alone until I write something. (True story.)

I write because I love to express emotions through words, because I can’t always speak, because there’s a beauty in showing how people progress through difficult challenges.

I write because weaving a story is my favorite way to spend my time. I adore my characters, I can’t stop the exhilaration of coming up with a new idea, and I love trying to puzzle out how everything fits together. In short, it’s awesome!


When is the best time to write?

All the time! Just kidding. I don’t know if there’s a particular time of day that I feel more productive to writing, because that’s not something I normally pay attention to, but on my new schedule I’m writing from 3:00-5:00 p.m. I don’t know, if I did it a little earlier, I’d probably be a bit more creative, but it still works! I like having a timeframe that I have to stick to–writing, and nothing else, during those hours.


What parts of writing do you love, and what parts do you hate?

Love:love that moment when everything just fits together! After you’ve been thinking hard and pondering how anything relates, and it’s so confusing, but this flash of inspiration comes and everything makes sense!

When you think of an awesome plot twist or plot reveal.

When you’re developing a character you didn’t really connect with before, and then you figure out something about them, and you just love them to death.

When thinking about a character’s death makes you want to cry (even if you don’t).

When you write that super emotional scene and your heart feels like it’s being squeezed and your characters are all so awesome and dramatic and everything is awesome.

When you have dreams about your characters being shippy. *nods*

When you have dreams that spark story ideas.

When you share your work and someone loves it! And not only that, but they connect with it. That’s awesome.

When you look back on old writing and realize that it’s not as bad as you remembered.

When you think of a deliciously sad and emotional ending or scene.

When you get to be the evil author. All too often done by me…but it’s so fun!

When you’re so in love with your story that everyone else can’t help but love it too.

…that was kind of long…

Hate/Dislike: Being stuck and not knowing where to go next.

When you have such a great idea, and it doesn’t turn out as good on paper.

When your characters are all refusing to develop themselves. Hence all the character-glaring that I do.

When you start to compare yourself with other writers and feel like a failure.

When you feel like you don’t know how to write anymore.

When someone doesn’t like your writing that you’re really proud of.

When you feel so inadequate and like you’ll never measure up.

Gosh, why do we put the “hates” after the “loves”? That’s just depressing.


How do you overcome writer’s block?

I don’t. Umm, probably through endurance, I guess? Sometimes all it takes is to keep going when it’s hard. But I think usually it helps to take a break and do something else (like drawing or playing the piano) to calm me down. After that, it helps to find where things went wrong and then try to fix it or go from there. Identifying the problem is half the battle!

(And fixing it is the other half. *sighs* Usually something needs more development…always more development.)


Are you working on something at this moment?

Yes, I’m writing this blog post. Yup! I just started working on Battle Song, a retelling of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, with warrior mermaids + cool characters + cool religion stuff + wars! (See? There’s even multiple wars in this one.) I started writing it last November for NaNoWriMo, but I’m restarting.

(I’d link you to the page, but some things are changing and I need to rewrite it. And also make a better blurb. Because I’m great at that.)

Anyway, I’m still working on re-developing stuff, but soon I’m going to start writing. This time, I’m going to write the last 10K first because then I’ll know where I’m headed. Plus, there’s some great emotional/shippy/awesome scenes at the end. *grins*


What are your writing goals this year?

Well, I do have goals from my New Year’s Resolutions post, buut a few of those might be changing. My new goals are to write every day, to publish at least two short stories, and have the first and second drafts of Battle Song done.

Unless you mean “year” as in a year from today, in which case to have Battle Song as ready for publishing as I can get it.

And, of course, to always be improving!


Tag–You’re it!

If you read this and enjoyed it, consider yourself tagged. Because I only have a few people who I could tag, and I’m also not sure how many you’re supposed to tag for this…so tag if you want it!

(Also, if you do this tag, feel free to use the graphic!)


we talk and talk and talk

Are you going to do the tag/have you done it before? I’d love a link! And if you don’t want to do the tag, feel free to answer the questions in a comment below! I especially want to know what you love and what you hate about writing.

Oh, and, P.S. I’m going to be gone next week on a family vacation. I was going to write a post and pre-schedule it, but I don’t know if I’ll have time. So if you don’t see me, that’s why!

Becoming an Author — Authory Updates, Goals, and Whatnot

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Yeah, I didn’t write a hiatus post…but it’s too late now. I was gone (church youth camp), I came back, and celebrations are in order. Or a virtual cookie handout. One of the two.

Anyway…this new post! It might turn into a blog series…who knows. It’s called Becoming an Author, with the emphasis on the unspoken “not just a writer”. You see, I’ve made a few decisions over the past few weeks that mainly culminate to this:

If I want to become an author as a career, then I had better start acting like one right now.

Hence becoming an author.

And I want to talk with you about my goals! And ideas! And how I’m faring after my first day at the “job” of being an “actual” author! (Decent…decent.)

But first, some updates.

So, you know I’ve been working on my Iris novella. I finished that last Saturday (the week-and-a-half ago one) at about a total of 24,000 words. It…was pretty great. It felt really good to start and finish something and to know that I put my heart into it. It was fun. It was emotional. And I’m so happy I wrote it.

(And, you know, if you were one of the people who read the Spotlights and decided you wanted more, tell me in the comments and I’ll email the story to you.)

Besides that, I’ve had a whole bunch of plot bunnies, mostly from my dreams, oddly enough. I wrote a 1500-word story/poem/story-poem that was vaguely Rapunzel based from a dream I had. And it was fun.

But I’ve been talking…to myself, to my family, to friends…and I know that I can’t keep writing short stuff like this. If I want to be an author, I need to write a novel. Like, an actual one. That I finish, and revise, and try to publish.

So, I had a little talk/counsel/thing with my parents yesterday and worked out some goals and a schedule for what I’m going to do this summer, and in the future.

First, I needed money. Because there’s things like college looming in my near future (eek!), and who knows when I’ll actually publish something. So I’m working part-time this summer for my dad & grandpa. (I’m transcribing my dad’s journals and editing my grandpa’s history. Both of which should maybe help me with writing, and I’ll enjoy them much more than some other entry-level job.)

And secondly, I need to write like it was my actual job. Well, not necessarily, because I’m only doing two hours a day. But I’m doing two hours a day! Which means I’ll be doing something consistently with writing, which I have not done in the past.

Also, I’m working on one novel that will hopefully be ready to be published by June 2018. If it’s not publishing-worthy or if I don’t publish it by then, whatever. But I just want to have it as ready as I can make it.

Want to know what it is?

Drumroll, please…

It’s Battle Song, the novel I started last November for NaNoWriMo! And, as a plus for me, there’s already a page for it. (An non-updated page, for sure, and everything’s subject to change, but hey, it’s there.)

Besides the novel ha, I make it sound like it’s so easy to write a novel, I’m also looking to publish a few short stories, whether through magazines or contests. If you know of a good one, please tell me! I’d love to hear it! I have one or two (or maybe just one) stories I could try to publish, so I’ll probably need to write more, but I want to try to get my name out there and maybe develop my craft a little more along the way.

I want to publish at least one short story by September 1, 2017. Because that’d be cool. *nods*

Aside from writing, there’s blogging! Yes sirree, you never thought this day would come, the day when I, Lana, at The Music of Words, would actually make…a posting schedule.

I’m going to spend two hours on “writing marketing” (which is basically just talking to people online and writing blog posts) once a week, and write two blog posts & set them to post. (Probably Saturday, since I don’t have “work” that day.) And then the other day that my post comes out, Tuesday, will also be my blog response day where I respond to comments. Which is only supposed to take 30 minutes. Heh. Heh. Heh.

But, as you can tell, it is a Wednesday, which isn’t on my posting schedule at all. It’s also not in my general schedule either, but I’m writing this during my free time. So if I have a brilliant idea for a blog post, it might appear on a random day. (You can thank me later.)

Oh yes! So, today was my very first day on the job. I actually followed a schedule from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm. Crazy, I know! (And then I had free time…ahh man, I’m going to love my free time.) So, how did it go?

Well. It went well. (Wahoo for good grammar!)

Okay, it was actually easier than I thought to keep to a schedule, though I was sorely tempted to stop and just finish the book I was reading. (I finished it during my lunch break, instead. And then read another book during my after-five-pm free time. *grins*)

But it was also hard to work on writing. I’m trying to figure out world building so that it’s actually cool (not to mention I think it’ll solve a lot of plot problems), but it’s more difficult than expected. How does one take influences from a real-world culture, put it into a fake world, with certain requirements and characters, and still make it realistic? I have no idea. But at least I’m trying, and that feels really good.


talk with me!

Do you like/not like the Becoming an Author posts & why? What should I do differently in the next one? (less updates, more advice?) Are you excited for my goals as well? What are your plans for the future & what career do you want to go into/are in? What are your best tips for keeping to a schedule? Or for writing? Or just tips for life in general? I’m a willing listener here to all the sage wisdom you have to give. Especially if it’s a little sarcastic. *wink wink*

 

Spotlight #3: Yay, Battle Song Excerpts!

Today you shall behold wonders.

You shall behold first-draft, unedited, totally fabulous excerpts from my NaNoWriMo novel.

You shall behold that there was great sarcasm in that last sentence. Although, I will only be including my favorite excerpts, so maybe there will be some fabulous bits in there…we’ll see.

So, quick review if you weren’t around, since I still haven’t made a page for Battle Song yet: Little Mermaid retelling where she trades her beauty instead of her voice, is trying to get an immortal soul, is fabulous at fighting, and there are two adorable princes. Got it?

Great. Let’s get to the excerpts, then! Just be forewarned that they may be random and confusing…



“Have you seen the beauty of the ocean? Have you seen the rippling of the sand and the swaying of the seaweed? Have you seen the fish swimming past you in schools, close enough to touch? Have you seen the light streaming through the water and the bubbling of the currents? Have you seen the deep blue that grows so dark light cannot penetrate? These are sights that no human has ever seen. We come here to experience the beauty for a short time, even if it ends sooner than not.”


She [Alavar] bit her lip. I knew it even though I couldn’t see, because that’s what she did whenever she was worried about something. “There was a battle, and you were gone.”

“I…why did we attack them?”

“We didn’t. They attacked us.”

My heart froze as I thought of the implications. “But there wasn’t a storm.”

“That doesn’t matter anymore. Now all that matters is keeping us safe, which means staying together. We needed you there—Tarisah got hurt, badly.”

“Where is she?” I was suddenly frantic. Tarisah, my sister, hurt. I had to find her, had to apologize for not being there, for not protecting her. She was the third youngest, but she’d always been smaller than either I or Kariven. Always the weakest, always the one who needed to be protected, and I hadn’t been there to fight the other mers off.

“That’s not fair,” I said, as I followed Alavar out of the hut and into the blackened ocean. “They’re not supposed to do that. They’re not allowed to.”

She laughed softly, derisively. “You think that matters to them? Now, it doesn’t matter. We’ll have to be on the watch all the time, night and day, on all sides, waiting for attacks from anyone. You think our clan will survive? No. Not us. We lost all power and authority the day Mother died.”


“No, Alavar, you don’t get it. You don’t understand. You think I’m like you–you think I’m like everyone else! I try to be, but it just doesn’t work. I fooled you, but I can never fool myself. I hate fighting. I want to explore. I want to try new things. But you all expect me to be the same and I’m just not!”

She swam back from me slightly, as if my words had physically pushed her away. “What are you talking about?”

“I hate fighting. I never liked it. But I did it because everyone expected me to. I did it because it felt like my only option. And now, my only option is to stay here and be sentry because maybe then someone will trust me again and think I’m a normal mer instead of who I actually am.”

She didn’t say anything, so I kept talking. “You want to know why I spent so much time practicing how to fight? I did it because that’s what Mother and I always fought about. Maybe I thought that learning how to be a warrior would bring her back, but it never worked because she’s just seafoam and I’ll never get to see her again and tell her—” My voice broke suddenly, clogged up so much that I couldn’t speak. “Tell her how sorry I am.”


“She will share her magic with you, but for an exorbitant price, far more than one wants to pay. But she teases it out of you, hiding everything she can with half-truths. She’ll tell you she’s mended her ways, she’ll say that she only wants the best for you, but what she really wants is the best from you. It’s said she’ll steal your tail from you if you’re not paying attention.

“Down in the darkness of the deepness of the ocean she dwells, waiting for any unwary sea creature to come her way, into her grasp. Some are lured in by visionary sights; others choose to bargain. Only those who come knowing what they want manage to leave again at all, but you can never really escape.”


Her [the sea witch’s] voice became soft now, rippling through the water like how the wind caused ridges in the water and the sand. “I know what you want, Amrya, more than you do. I can see into you, to your deepest desire, the reason why you came here. Do you want to know why you are here?”

My heart was already broken; I had no idea why I would have come, so I uttered an emotionless “Yes.”

“You are here because you want to be human. You are here because you have to cling to something and that something is a soul. You want to last longer. Haven’t you thought to yourself that you wanted to be human? When Alavar laughed at that, you wanted to show her that she was wrong. She is, Amrya. There is more beauty up there that you will never see if you stay here your entire life, and all of it will last so much longer. There is no sea up there to decay the houses, nothing to wash away all the life you have known. The human world is so much more permanent than ours, and that is why you want to go.”


After I’d exhausted my spears for the fifth or sixth round, I went to go pick them up. I bent to grab one, and when I stood up, a man was standing there, holding out two of the spears I’d thrown to me. I squinted at him, at the light blond hair, the plain clothing, and then I remembered where I’d seen him before: talking to the prince on the riverbank the day of the fireworks.

“Thank you,” I said, after staring at him for a moment, and took the spears into my arms.

“What’s your name?” he asked, a glint of surprise in his blue eyes…blue just like Alavar’s.

“Amrya,” I replied, picking another spear off the ground, and waited for him to respond with his name, but he never did. Instead he grabbed the last spear, handed it to me, and walked back the thirty-or-so paces to where I had been throwing with me.

“Where did you learn to use a spear like that?” he asked.

I wasn’t sure how to answer. The way he asked it implied that this wasn’t how he normally saw spears being used…either that, or he thought it was impressive and also rare. Either way, saying anything specific might give something odd away. “My mother taught me.”

He looked at me even more oddly than before. “Your mother? So do all the women in your family do it?”

I nodded. “I have five older sisters.”

He looked at me in surprise again, and I wondered if he would ever look at me normally. “And they all can throw spears like that?”

I shrugged. “More or less.”


“What are your plans, then, for your future?” he [the king] pressed.

Before I had time to even think about answering, Aeren put his glass down on the table, a little harder than necessary. “Amrya has just been in a shipwreck that took the lives of her loved ones. Do you expect her to have an immediate plan for her future? She’ll figure everything out, I’m sure, but she needs time, not more stress than she already has.”

“Calm down, Aeren,” said the queen. “We’ll talk about this after dinner.”

Aeren still looked angry with his parents, but his spine, which had stiffened during his outburst, relaxed slightly.


I judged the situation cautiously. I was supposed to be nice to him [Rhys], to try to get him to fall in love with me, but I couldn’t help be a little bit annoyed with him. “You enjoyed that, didn’t you?”

“What?”

“Playing with them. Lying to them.”

He raised an eyebrow and looked at me coolly. “I’m not the one who should be talking about lying.”

I looked away, at the dancing, but I didn’t really focus in on it. “What did you tell Aeren?”

“Why does it matter to you whether he believes you or not? I thought I was the one you were trying to impress. You’re just like all those other girls. You only want the crown prince in order for my money, or worse, to become queen. Or, alternately, you could be a spy from Althair who merely heard about the story of the mysterious girl who saved me from the ship.”

“I’m not a spy, and I’m not like the other girls.” I looked at him levelly and gathered the courage I had. “I told you the truth when I said I was the one who saved you. The only reason I told Aeren differently is because you didn’t believe me, so I knew he wouldn’t.”

Rhys returned the same gaze. “I don’t know whether I should trust you or not.”


We walked in silence for a long moment, both of us looking out at the ocean and the sunset as the light died and drifted into darkness. The palace glowed with faint, yellow light, and we headed toward it. “When are you planning to go back to Althair?” asked Aeren suddenly.

“I do not know yet. I’m not sure. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to go back.” No, I knew that. I was a human now, forever, and there wasn’t a way to go back. Either I would stay a human into the eternities, or I would turn into seafoam as soon as Rhys was married.

“You can stay as long as you need, of course. But my father is already impatient…he wants to know why you’re here. He thinks you’re a spy for Althair. A girl just happens to show up at the brink of war, claiming to be shipwrecked, just happening to be taken in by the royal family…he thinks it’s too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence.” He looked at me and his eyes met mine. “You’re not a spy, are you?”

“No. I’m not a spy.” I might have lied about where I came from, but I was not a spy from Althair. It would have been a simple plan, though, had it been so.

“But if war did break out…you would be an Althairian in Sannave. My father doesn’t think that safe, especially because of your training in the spear.” His voice was unsure, and I could tell in his eyes that he wanted me to confirm.

“My heart lies in the ocean,” I whispered. “I have no desire to fight anyone.”

“I believe you.”


Alavar’s voice was more bitter than I’d expected. “Is it everything you’d imagined? Did you find what you were looking for, away from your family?”

“Not yet,” I said quietly, not wanting to confront her, not when I could still preserve our relationship. I didn’t want to lose her like I had Mother.

“I told you blood was stronger than anything else. You won’t find it. You”—her voice broke—“won’t find it and you’ll die.”

I reached out a hand, as if to hold hers, but she wouldn’t come any closer to shore. “I’m sorry, Alavar,” I said. “I really am.”

“If you were sorry, you wouldn’t have ever gone. You would have stayed with us, and this wouldn’t have happened.” She motioned to the stormy ocean, the clouds above that were threatening rain. “It’s chaos down there, Amrya. I don’t know what’s happening. I escaped here because this was the only place I could think of to go. I don’t know where anyone is or even if everyone is alive. The war began and there was singing, but so much of it. As if all the clans were singing, all of them are fighting now. I don’t know if it’ll ever die down, but I can’t find anyone.”

“Alavar…” I whispered, too shocked to say anything else. My breath was caught in my throat. It was hard to think, hard to think about what it was like down there in the darkness. “No.”

“You would’ve been able to fight them off. You would have saved us, at least kept us together. You could have made everything all right, but you weren’t there.” Her tone was as biting as the rain that had just started, splattering against me in tiny drops that stung against my skin. I was already wet, so I bent down and knelt in the water, where I could reach out and just touch the tips of Alavar’s fingers when she reached out her hand.

“I’m so sorry,” I said, and tears rolled down my cheeks just as the rain did. “I don’t know what to do.”

“There’s nothing you can do. You just stay there and try to get your prince to fall in love with you so that you can stay human forever. I…I don’t even know why I came.”

“Because you miss me?” It was more a question than a statement, one that I needed confirmation to.

I thought I saw tears in her eyes. “Because I miss you.”



Can you see why I love this novel so much? Okay, maybe you can’t. I mean, I didn’t even include any of the shippy parts with Aeren and Amrya and the fruit. (Which is great.) But even though I can’t say that all of it is that well-written (these are the best I could find), I love my characters and my plot so much, and maybe in this Spotlight you got to see a tiny piece of that.

7 Lessons I Learned from Losing NaNoWriMo

HELLO ALL OF YOU! 😀 I know I’ve been gone for a long time, and I’ve hardly posted, but I really do want to get back into blogging at least once a week, if not twice a week like I used to do before.

So this November I participated in NaNoWriMo (as I’m sure many of you did also), writing my novel, Battle Song, and I didn’t win. My goal was 50,000, and I only got 37,509 words, which I’m still pretty proud of. But despite that, I think I learned the most from this NaNoWriMo, the one I’ve lost, than from any of the others, so I’m going to share some of those lessons with you (along with some pictures I took, since I was in the mood for photography)!

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Lesson #1: Manage Your Time

This is probably the most important lesson for winning NaNoWriMo in general. If you can stay on track and write the specific 1667 words a day, then you’ll win! Obviously, I didn’t do this. Not only was I busy some of the days, but the other days I procrastinated instead of writing and my time slipped away from me.

The NaNoWriMo goal for 50,000 words is created for a person who actually has a normal life, and there really was enough time for me to be able to do it…I just didn’t. So, yet another reminder that I need to figure out how to spend my time wisely. 🙂


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Lesson #2: Get Enough Sleep

First of all, let’s just admire my adorable little stuffed puppy! Isn’t she so cute?

This was a problem I had, and still have, whether or not it’s NaNoWriMo. Around 9 p.m., I lose motivation to do anything, be it writing or homework or even taking a shower. I would force myself to stay awake, telling myself I needed to write, but I learned that if I waited, I got nothing done, and not only that, I was even more tired the next day.

The biggest lesson I learned from this was really just to go to bed and do better tomorrow instead of stressing about doing it tonight.


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Lesson #3: Love Your Characters

It was about halfway through November, and I decided that I needed to figure out what was going on in my novel, because I’d written less than 10,000 words. Since the walls in my room are mostly full, I decided that I would tape papers and stuff about my characters and plot on my window, just for fun.

I started off by describing my main character, Amrya il Osamarii, and the things she learns by the end of the book. As I elaborated more on the scenes that caused this, I found that I loved her even more than I ever had before. She is so amazing.

After that, I worked on my two adorable princes and how each one of them affected her. (Also, I finally gave them names, hehe. The older one is named Rhys and the younger one is named Aeren.) I also had the cutest dream about Aeren and Amrya and how truly Aeren loved her and wanted to make her happy, and so after that I was sort of fangirling over my characters and it made it so much easier to write the story.


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Lesson #4: Love Your Story

After developing my characters, this step sort of fell into place. I loved my story because of my characters, and I loved my characters because of their story. I think this is such an important thing to remember during NaNoWriMo, to love your story, because if you don’t, nothing is going to happen.

But when you love your story, when you create characters you squee over, when you write in fairy tales and wars and adorable princes because that’s what you love to write about, that’s when the words start coming, and that’s when your story becomes so much better because of the love you’ve put into it.


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Lesson #5: Have Fun with It

This lesson is so important during NaNoWriMo! If you don’t have fun and have a positive attitude, then you’re not going to enjoy the entire month of November, stressing instead of writing. Instead, you have to find ways to have fun. Maybe for you, that means adding inside jokes into your writing or creating characters who make really great jokes. For me, this month, the fun things I did were to tape things on my window and do all of my story development in a rainbow array of Sharpies, not to mention writing scenes that were enjoyable and amusing to me.


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Lesson #6: Be Messy

It can be really hard to let yourself be messy. It was hard for me. I’d been working on revising and planning instead of drafting before NaNo started, so when it did, I was still in the mindset that everything I wrote had to be good. Writing became stressful, and it was really hard, especially when I didn’t know what was coming next.

It wasn’t until I finally allowed myself to be messy, that I told myself it truly didn’t matter  if this draft was terrible, that I began to write as fast as I had during previous NaNos, and even beat some of my own records for writing speed.

Being messy lets you have freedom. Instead of trying to constrict yourself to only writing things well, you can let yourself go…and that’s really when the creative juices start to flow. Sometimes the messiest passages are where you find glimpses of the best writing you’ve ever done.


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Lesson #7: Challenge Yourself

Let’s be honest, NaNoWriMo is a challenge, one that sometimes seems impossible. And setting yourself to an impossible, or even a possible, standard is scary. It’s frightening to think that you might not make it, but you know what? When you challenge yourself, you will write more than you can possibly imagine.

I had two days left of NaNoWriMo and 25,000 words left to write. I doubted I would win, but I kept going anyway. I gave myself as much time to write as I could, and by the end of NaNoWriMo, I kept typing away, ending up with 37,500 words, almost 13K more than I would have written had I given up two days away from the end.

So, I learned to challenge myself, to reach for the moon and land among the stars.


Tell me, if you did NaNoWriMo, how did it go? What did you write about? What lessons have you learned from doing NaNo or just from writing in general? And, lastly, what’s been going on in all your lives? It’s feels like ages since I’ve talked to any of you and I want to know how everyone is doing!

Mermaid Clans, Fairy Tales, War, and Adorable Princes (a.k.a. my NaNoWriMo Novel)

It has clearly been too long since I last posted, but I have been busy. (And also procrastinating, but let’s just focus on the busy here, hehe.) Anyhow, I’m back today to ramble for a little while for the novel I’ll be writing for National Novel Writing Month this November!

If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is who are you child, it’s where you try to write a novel in a month. Obviously. If you want more info, head on over to http://nanowrimo.org/

Butttt my novel! Let’s talk about that. It’s called….drumroll please…Battle Song. And I’m sure you’re wondering what it’s about, and, to be honest, most of it’s in the title.

I actually did talk about it a bit in this post, which also had this picture I drew:

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Of course, at that point I didn’t know I’d be writing it for NaNoWriMo, and it’s more developed now, so I’ll just give you a quick summary right now. Basically, the idea is a retelling of The Little Mermaid where the mermaid loses her beauty rather than her voice, and also where the mermaids are a warrior society.

This idea has been developed more and I just want to ramble a little bit more about the stuff I’m really excited about, mentioned in the title.

Mermaid Warrior Clans

I am so happy about this. The MC is named Amrya il Osamarii, from the Osamarii clan. Basically there’s these huge family clans/tribes and they all war among themselves because…well, because I can’t resist having fighting or war in my stories. I just can’t. I’m pretty sure that there may also be something with some of the tail scales being valuable or increasing your position in society…but yes, they’re all warriors, including Amrya.

The reason I love this besides the whole warrior thing is that we get lots of new culture with a clan thing rather than a typical nuclear family, and there’s also going to be a strong theme of family. Amrya has five older sisters (or maybe only four, I can’t remember…), and one of the main points in the story is about her mother who died a while ago.

Her mother’s death is especially important because in the original Little Mermaid story by Hans Christian Andersen, the whole reason (besides love) the mermaid becomes a human is in order to have an immortal soul (which, of course, Disney took out) rather than turning into sea foam. So the whole sea foam/immortal soul/life after death is going to come into play in the novel, which I’m really excited for.

Fractured Fairy Tales

Okay, I just love fractured fairy tales and retellings and all that fabulous stuff. I’m just going to fangirl over those until the end of my days. I adore Ella Enchanted and also there’s some great ones by Jessica Day George that I read recently, and if you have any recommendations of adorable and awesome fairy tale retellings, please tell me.

I think it’s so interesting to see how many different twists you can take on one story, and I especially love the twist I’m going to be using. It’s going to be more about falling in love because of what you say and how you act and actual friendship rather than the annoying “love at first sight” stuff. Which’ll be great. And just people who are able to be actually in love and don’t just care about beauty. (I’ll probably talk about this more in the adorable princes section.)

And then I’m so excited to be writing a fractured fairy tale just because I get to include all of these extra little tidbits from the original story. Like, the palace is a yellow-ish color, and there’s a river thing that runs under the prince’s balcony where the mermaid watches him which, you know, isn’t creepy at all, and the girls who find the prince after the little mermaid has rescued him are actually part of a convent. There’s all sorts of cool reference things that help develop the culture, and I’m very excited.

War

I told you before, I can’t resist including a war in my novels. And just because continuous battles between the mermaids isn’t enough, the humans are also in a war. Is it bad that I’m already fangirling over this? And this is made so much better because the prince that Amrya is trying to get to marry her is also trying to deal with a war and generally just annoyed with her because of that. But since Amrya has grown up learning how to fight (and more than that, underwater, where it’s so much harder because of the water resistance), she gets to show off her sweet skills and totally be better than him. It’s wonderful.

Adorable Princes (who I just want to hug because they’re great)

This is possibly one of the things I’m most excited for. I always fall for romances with princes. (Ella Enchanted again.) They’re just my favorite, especially when the princes are so cute and sweet and just the perfect gentlemen.

And there are two fabulous princes in Battle Song. I can’t wait. I haven’t really developed their characters yet, not like I have with Amrya, but I know the basic idea about them. There’s the older brother (and the fact that they’re brothers makes this even better because siblings are fantastic), and he’s the crown prince. He’s a little arrogant and rude but I still love him so much because arrogant princes are so dramatic and fabulous. He also happens to be the one Amrya saves from drowning and also makes the deal with the sea witch to marry, but no way does he want to marry her.

But, there’s also the younger prince who is so squee-worthy because he’s one of the perfect gentlemen kind of guys. And he becomes Amrya’s friend and they’re adorable and sort of fall in love, all while Amrya’s trying to get the other prince to marry her before he marries anyone else. Which creates this love triangle-ish sort of thing, but it doesn’t really count because we all know who she’s supposed to end up with.

I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, but there’s this one scene that just makes me die a little inside when I think about it because of its cuteness. Basically, there’s that whole thing where, because the little mermaid’s deal with the sea witch, every step feels like stepping on knives, right? And, in the original fairy tale, there’s this scene where the little mermaid is hiking with the prince and her feet start bleeding. And so I decided that Amrya’s feet get worse as time goes on from walking on them, and they eventually start bleeding. She tries to hide it from everyone, but eventually the younger prince finds out–and basically adorableness ensues because he’s worried about her and gahhh the damsel in distress and valiant knight thing always get to me.

And the best part about the younger prince is that he loves Amrya even though the sea witch took away her beauty, because he knows who she is inside, and that’s what he loves. Which is exactly the kind of guy I want to marry me.

And one more thing that makes me excited and also a little nervous: I haven’t yet decided whether or not it will end happily. I mean, you look at any other fairy tale retelling, you start the book, and you know it’s going to end happily. But with The Little Mermaid, the original doesn’t end happily. And so you actually have a chance of a sad ending where things don’t work out, and the girl doesn’t get the guy, and it’s not happily ever after.

Which I both hate and love at the same time. I hate it because I want Amrya to have a happy ending and I love ships that work out and fall in love, and that’s how I feel it should be. But that’s also why I love the idea of a sad ending: it’s not supposed to end that way, and you know it. But, that’s how life is sometimes. There’s tragedies and pains and there’s all that feeling and that’s the part of me that wants it to end with the prince marrying someone else and Amrya turning into sea foam.

I’m undecided right now, and it’s possible I won’t even decide until the very end. I think I’m procrastinating the decision.


Anyhow, that was a very long post, but also very fun! Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this November? What are you writing? I’m so excited for Battle Song (if you couldn’t tell). Tell me what you think. Do you love fairy tales as well? Wars? Adorable princes? What are your favorite fairy tale retellings?