This post is late, since I was gone when we actually passed my blog’s anniversary, but August 2nd marks the 4th year of this blog in its functional state. After being away from the internet all summer, I have a renewed appreciation for the fact that God has blessed me with this blog and with the passion for writing and with an audience that finds value in what He’s given me to say. In the past year, I feel like I’ve finally found the nook where I need to be writing. It’s been great to enjoy blogging again so much and to see it help and inspire y’all. Worldview has been such a big part of my life for my entire life, because it was important to my parents to teach me how to think and how to develop worldview, so it’s something deeply important to me to be able to tie that in with the writing skill that God has given me and use it to help other authors.
Anywho. To celebrate, I have a brief Q&A, a blog tag, and then a quick run-down of what I’ve been writing and reading in the past year.
How is writing going/anything about your WIP you can share?
I’ll go more in-depth when I give my writing recap, but writing is going well! I didn’t do a whole lot of writing over the summer, but I did come up with a handful of worldbuilding ideas and I was inspired for The King’s Paladin by my work with horses. And in the past week I dove straight back into Calligraphy Guild—I was super excited to get back to editing and reacquaint myself with that project—and I’ve actually already gotten through seven chapters of my beta feedback! I’m almost halfway through, in pages, so I’m making pretty quick work of it, but I’ve only done shallow tweaks so far and I’m saving the bigger changes for after I’ve gone through the whole book once. But I’m excited!
What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
Worldbuilding. XD Worldbuilding is the one part of the writing process that is largely effortless for me. I just let my brain run wild and let myself have fun with it, and I love tying everything together and making it work.
Second choice would be editing, because I also love analyzing and fixing and making things work that way.
What book has had the most influence on your writing style?
This is a tough one. I’ve read soooo many books, and I don’t feel like any of them are super similar to what I write, stylistically speaking? The first one that comes to mind is Lord of the Rings, but I noticed the similarities between Calligraphy Guild and Lord of the Rings after I read Lord of the Rings again, and before that it had been ages since I’d read them. So I don’t feel like that was a particularly direct influence. Maybe Faye Fite’s (Hannah Heath’s) Terebinth Tree Chronicles. I think those had a big hand in pushing me toward the type of thing I write now, and I feel like our writing styles are fairly similar.
What do you hope people will get from reading your writing?
Encouragement. Enjoyment. Things to think about. I hope that I am able to write books that are fun to read, that have deep and immersive worlds that readers feel like they could explore, but that also have depth and hope. My big thing with worldbuilding, which extends to my stories within the worlds I build, is to create something that is rich and immersive and fun and that explores meaningful topics. I love to use worldbuilding, and stories within worlds, to present worldview topics in a way that’s fun and thoughtful and fits in. Storytelling and worldbuilding should be, I think, ways to present questions of worldview in a way that you don’t beat readers over the head with a “right answer.” Stories and fictional worlds ought to present those questions in a way that makes the reader think and allows them to come to their own conclusions, and that makes it enjoyable to do so. So. That’s basically what I want to do with my writing.
Which of your characters is your favorite?
That’s like asking me to pick a favorite friend. Or song. Or book. Or parent.
I love so many characters, I genuinely have no idea who would even make the top… 10. Like. There are so many. In Calligraphy Guild alone, it’s impossible to choose. (Makio is pretty cool, though.)
What’s your favorite music to write to?
It depends on what I’m working on. For Calligraphy Guild I have a collection of pretty mellow instrumental music (plus one Arcadian Wild song that has lyrics). For most of my stories I have a lot of pop music and Imagine Dragons and stuff in that vein. I guess largely pop and rock.
How old are most of your characters?
Most of them are in the 17-19 range, these days. There used to be more 16-year-olds, and then I got older and realized how young that is and nudged a couple ages up. XD But since I write largely YA, most of my characters are around 17-19.
How many characters have you killed?
Um… Not that many, considering all my started projects, but I guess the key word there is “started.” A lot more characters would die if I would actually finish some of those stories.
What would you give up to become a better writer?
Most of what I give up to grow as a writer is time and money. I’m not especially attached to either one, so…
I’d love to put in the time and money to go to Realm Makers some year, but those plans keep falling through. ;P
Which of your characters do you relate to the most?
Duyên from Calligraphy Guild. Hands-down. Which makes sense, since she was written based on me. It’s been wild, though, coming back from camp and realizing I actually relate to her even more since my job this summer. I didn’t know that was possible, but… here we are.
Why do you write your genre?
I write fantasy because it gives me free rein of my imagination and offers so many opportunities to explore concepts more freely than I’ve found other genres to allow. It allows me to take what I see and read about and experience in the real world and put it into a more flexible context where I can shape it and mold it and explore it from different angles so that I can understand it better and hopefully others can, too.
When I write sci-fi, it’s usually to explore realities of my current culture and its trajectory in a way that makes it feel more immediate. Essentially for the opposite reason I write fantasy, since I enjoy fantasy for the distance it lends to the issues I write about.
The contemporary I write on rare occasions is usually because I want to write wish fulfillment. XD
Who’s your favorite character that’s not yours?
And I thought picking one of my characters was hard. There are even more options now.
Sam Gamgee? He’s at least near the top, if not at the top.
Which characters are the hardest for you to write?
The ones that are smarter than me, because then I look stupid trying to write them; or the really angsty ones, because they make me want to slam my head into a wall. (*cough* Looking at you, Nissa.)
What are your non-writing hobbies?
Ballroom dance, singing, blogging about theology and worldview (well… I guess that’s also writing), reading (duh), drawing every now and then (largely fashion design)… I’d like to add gardening to the list, but I haven’t gotten there yet.
What’s your “writer fuel”?
In which sense?
As far as what snacks/drinks I consume while writing, I eat dark chocolate when I have it and I love Bigelow’s vanilla chai black tea. I drink that tea all the time.
As far as what keeps me mentally stimulated to write, I’m usually inspired by life experiences and conversations I have and things I read that I think would be cool to take pieces of and turn into a culture or a story.
Favorite race you’ve developed?
Either the vansae or the skinwalkers. Both of which are shapeshifters, actually. The vansae are harlequin-like, with the ability to shift into other humanoid forms, take on new faces, etc. The cool thing about them, though, is that they don’t have physical sight; they have a limited mental ability to “see” around them in very muted shades, which is why they like bright colors and high contrast. The skinwalkers shapeshift into animals by wearing the skins of said animals.
How has your writing impacted you?
Well… It fostered my imagination as a kid. I had a wild imagination, and writing was a good outlet for it and helped to keep it alive. As I got older, it became a way to vent emotions, too; I have certain stories that were wish fulfillment or that reflect struggles I was going through when I wrote them. Over the past few years, it’s been a way to explore worldview more actively, and to provide an outlet for information I take in and then transform. Most importantly, it’s drawn me closer to God. I’ve learned so much about Him as a storyteller and creator, I’ve come to understand His world better through creating my own, and writing is an area in which I very actively pursue the aim of glorifying God. There are some areas where I’m not so great at being intentional about glorifying God, but when I write, it’s often a very present goal to glorify God through my work and reflect His character in my worlds and stories.
Who’s your favorite hero/villain that you’ve made?
I think my favorite villain is probably The Scarlet Wraith. I created her as a character well-known across the world, a legend, someone who had certain consistent attributes but who was seen through many different cultural lenses, and so from that standpoint I think she’s super cool.
Favorite hero… Maybe Madison Thompson from The Shades and the Elect. Madi is a lot of fun, but she’s also very solid and principled and determined to learn how to be the best hero she can be.
How often do you write?
It depends a lot on the season, and also on what you count as writing. XD Worldbuilding ideas crop up quite often. I draft infrequently. Editing can be anywhere from every day to… eh… several times a month? Depending on how I feel about the project, how much time I have, how much brainpower I have… XD Blogging is hard to say, since sometimes I batch and other times I write posts the day before they’re due (like this one XD). So, yeah. It depends on a lot of factors.
What’s your favorite thing about blogging?
The fact that God uses it to bless people. My second favorite thing is just having a place to express my thoughts, because I have lots of them and it helps for them to go somewhere, lol, but it really wouldn’t matter that much for me to express my thoughts if there were no reason to do so. I continue to express my thoughts because apparently they’re helpful, and I’m really glad I’m able to help and inspire and provoke thought through my writing.
What’s the most valuable advice about writing that you’ve been given?
I don’t know. I don’t tend to receive a lot of advice directly, and what advice I gain indirectly I tend to just sort of… absorb rather than remember. So I’m not sure.
Now for the tag! This is a brand-new tag from Miles Lawson, and the theme is biographies. Which might be a bit of a challenge for me, since I don’t read a lot of biographies. But we’ll see how it goes! XD
- Link back to the original site.
- Mention the one who tagged you.
- Write an autobiography in seven words.
- They do not need to form a complete sentence.
- To make it more interesting, answer seven seven-word questions.
- Tag seven other bloggers.
- Think of seven seven-word questions, or use the same ones as you answered.
Autobiography in seven words: Author of worlds reflecting the world & Word (cheated a little with the ampersand, lol)
Starting simple, what’s your happiest childhood memory?
I have a lot of good childhood memories. None of them are particularly standing out as the happiest, at the moment. There are few specific moments that stand out very clearly in my memory; I don’t remember things particularly well. XP But I have many memories with family and friends, having fun, feeling loved, all that… I just can’t think of anything specific. XP
What age would you choose to revisit?
17 was a pretty good year. But it would have to be revisit, ’cause I’d lose a lot of growth if I went back.
How would you have your biography end?
“She passed with grace, having lived her life to the full and having blessed those around her as much as she could; she passed in peace, knowing that she would meet her Creator and see the fulfillment of His kingdom as she’d always tried to imagine.”
What would you name the current chapter?
In Which She Has No Idea What She’s Doing But Tries to Serve God Anyway
Who would you write a biography about?
Tolkien. I know that’s already been done, and mine probably wouldn’t be anything new, but Tolkien was awesome.
What are seven of your favorite (auto)biographies?
I genuinely don’t know if I’ve even read that many.
- Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson
- From Scratch by Tembi Locke
- Sometimes the Magic Works by Terry Brooks
- The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
- As You Wish by Cary Elwes (also stretching it)
- Eric Liddell by Catherine Swift (I don’t remember liking this one that well? I thought I remembered it feeling dumbed-down. But I rated it 4 stars and I need more on my list, so…)
- The Surprising Imagination of C.S. Lewis by Jerry Root and Mark E. Neil (also a stretch, but it’s a great book)
How have those biographies affected your life?
Adorning the Dark was a great encouragement toward making art to glorify Christ, and the ways that can be done, and how we keep our focus on God rather than ourselves or the art. And The Surprising Imagination of C.S. Lewis, somewhat similarly, was a fascinating look at the many ways imagination can be used to either exalt God or exalt man, and how we can use it in so many different ways to glorify God.
Allie @ Of Rainy Days and Stardust Veins
Farren @ Paper and Quill
Bleu @ Always Write the Good Write
JHD Paul @ Maple Quill Penning Magic
Syberyah @ AtTAGirl
Mattie @ The Blossoming Writer
You, if you’d like to do it! :)
And now, to wrap things up (I know; this has been a mammoth of a post), the highlights of my reading and writing in the past year.
My reading in the past year has been a lot of nonfiction and classics, primarily. I got really picky for a bit and really needed meatier reading than the YA fantasy I’d been reading before, to the point that I could not bring myself to pick up a lot of the books that I would have read before that phase hit. And it was really good! The classics were enjoyable, the nonfiction was fascinating, I was on a Tolkien and Lewis kick for a bit and read a lot by and about both of them, I read Mistborn and some other fiction by authors I know I like… It was pretty cool. I seem to be coming out of that phase, however, which is good for my ever-growing physical TBR with its remnants of YA fantasy. XD
Writing-wise, I’ve been working almost exclusively on Calligraphy Guild and Deseran’s worldbuilding. I started CG in August two years ago, and I’ve barely worked on anything else since. It’s so much my passion project, and I can see such clear direction with it, so it’s taken up all of my attention. This past year it’s gone through several drafts, as well as reached alpha-readers, sensitivity readers, and beta-readers! Whoo! Next up: Professional editor. And the way things are going, I hope to get it off to the editor at the beginning of October! *happy dance* I’m getting so close with this book, y’all, and I still love it so much. I’m so excited to finish polishing it, prepare it, and publish it so that all of you can read it. I so hope that y’all love it as much as I do. (But if you don’t, don’t feel bad. We all have different tastes, and I don’t expect everyone to love it.) Anywho. It’s going quite smoothly—supernaturally smoothly, just like the entirety of this process has gone—and I’m pretty pumped.
I’ve also been poking at The Dark War Trilogy again. I think I have a bit of a framework for restarting The Shadow Raven, which would be a big step in the right direction, but I don’t know if I’m ready to fully dive back into that project yet. We’ll see how things go after Calligraphy Guild. I might work on TDWT, or I might go back to The Half-Elves or The Masked Captain, or something else entirely. I do still have Deseran short stories I’ve been meaning to write, which might come the most smoothly after Calligraphy Guild since they take place in the same world and have similar flavor.
A big thank-you to all of you for reading, commenting, and just being here, whether it’s been four years or a few days. I’m so glad I get to interact with and get to know all of you!
Thank God for four years, and may He continue to use this blog for many more years to come.
‘Til next week!