Friday, December 25, 2015

Writing Holidays Into Your Story

Merry Christmas, Wordlings! *showers everyone with snow and glitter and Christmas cheer* I love Christmas in case you can't tell ^ ^

We all love the holidays! If it's not Christmas that we love, there's another one that tops it. And if you don't love ANY holiday....well lets pretend you do because that's insanity ;)

On this very special holiday, I decided it would be appropriate to write about holidays in the stories we read and write. I'm in the mood after all :D Onwards! *runs through snow like puppy below*

When we writers write a novel, world-building is one of those things that really defines the story. If I say, "The Maze Runner", you probably think of the Glade or the maze itself. When I say, "Harry Potter", you think Hogwarts. When I say "The Hobbit" you might envision the Shire. Places and the unique worlds in the stories we read (especially when it comes to speculative fiction) are elements that we CAN'T forget. I mean seriously, if you 'forgot' about District 12 when I say "The Hunger Games", you probably didn't read the book. Without the world of the story, I would argue that there would be no story at all.

So how about those holidays you were mentioning, Cassia? 

I'm glad you asked!

Fictional Holidays 

In our society, Christmas is a pretty big holiday but that doesn't mean it will hold the same significance in your story world. Maybe Christmas is nothing more than a piece of history or maybe it never existed to begin with. Especially in the case of fantasy and science fiction novels, the holiday/holidays in the story world are probably straight from the author's imagination.

Think about some of the books I mentioned above. In "The Maze Runner", there's a sort of welcoming party after every new Greenie arrives; in "The Hunger Games" the Reaping starts the story and the rest of the novel REVOLVES around the twisted yearly 'celebration' of the Hunger Games. "Harry Potter" has Quidditch, "Divergent" has the choosing ceremony and the people of the "Chrysalids" killed deviations while they sung hymns.

When making up holidays, it's important thing to remember that they have to MEAN something in the story. If you make up a holiday but it doesn't show something about the character or the world, it probably isn't worth keeping.

Real Life holidays 

Whether it's a birthday, Christmas, or Halloween, holidays that we regard in the world as we know it can be just as effective story as the fictional ones can. If you're writing or reading historical, contemporary, mystery etc, the holidays that we're familiar with might be the most common.

The benefit of using a familiar holiday is just that it's just that: familiar. Your readers will know exactly what you're talking about and the tone of the holiday will set the tone of the scenes you write surrounding that holiday. You can even use it for irony. Maybe someone dies on Christmas eve or someone is reunited with their long lost brother on Halloween. There's loads of possibilities with the holidays we're familiar with!

How Holidays Can Augment Your Story

Holidays have a significant tie to the culture and world they come from and more importantly, the people. Whether made up, real or based on a one that's real, holidays will enhance both world building and character development if used correctly and at the right time of the story.

How does the society feel about the holiday? Does this line up with what the main character thinks or does it contrast? What does the holiday mean for the plot? How does the celebration define the world?

Answering these questions will make your fictional holiday really come to life in your novel.

If you're interested in learning a little more about this, one of my favourite blogs, Go Teen Writers has wrote about this back in July. You can read the post here! 

Do you write Holidays into your novels or short stories? Have you read any books where the holiday was done really well?  

Have a great Christmas, Wordlings!

Friday, December 18, 2015

7 Reasons Why Every Aspiring Author Should Work in a Bookstore

I started working at a bookstore this past summer because well, I adore books and bookish things. Also, as a writer I had it in my head that I could learn about the market. Little did I know that when it came to my authoring endeavours, there were many more benefits that I wasn't even remotely aware of.

One evening, I started talking with a coworker while the store was quiet. I was telling him about how this February I would be traveling to Florida to pitch my first novel. He asked me if I was nervous and I responded by saying, "A little, yeah."

"Don't be," he replied, "You literally pitch books to people every day and get paid for it."

I blinked. He was right. My job is to sell books and often times that means elevator pitching books that I've read myself or even ones I've only heard of or read the back cover of. Not only that but the people I'm pitching to are complete strangers. Sound familiar?

Our conversation got me thinking about all the reasons why this job was beyond perfect for me so I compiled a list.



As I mentioned above, you pitch books daily! It's fantastic practice for pitching your own book. You learn what catches people's attention and what doesn't, you learn how to adjust pitching a single book based on the customer. Age and gender matter when it comes to pitching; different people will react differently. 


You learn all about the market. Not only can you see what kinds of books are actually on the shelves but you get to watch how the new releases change from month to month. Also you can observe what's selling and what's not. 

There was one book in particular at the store I work at that had a ton of advertising. We all thought that the books would be flying off the shelf but we were completely wrong. I haven't seen a single customer with a copy of the book. 


Not only do you learn what's IN the market but you learn what's LACKING. Customers will come in looking for something specific to read and there will be nothing that matches their description in our system. Believe it or not, bookstores don't have every type of book out there. It just goes to show that there's still original ideas out there to be claimed! 

Some things I've been asked for are secular teen romances without swearing or sex, teen historical fiction that ISN'T about the second world war, or adult mythology fiction (like an adult Percy Jackson). There's a high demand for these things, writers! Get on it before I do ;) 


You start to pick up on what type of people buy certain types of books. This is a massive lesson on audience. I've learned a whole lot about who I'll be selling my books too and let me tell you, I was a little off on what I was originally speculating. Plus, as an employee of the store, I get to talk to these people. It's like talking to your future audience and it's so cool! I get to ask them what they liked about certain books and what they didn't like about others. It's fabulous research. 


Plot bunnies! The cover art is enough to spur plot bunnies alone but even some cryptic back cover synopses have gotten the ideas flowing. I have a coworker who will try to guess what books are about based on title alone. It's an amazing way to get ideas for new stories in my opinion ^ ^ 


Marketing strategies are acquired. When new books come out or are reprinted, I get to witness firsthand which of the marketing strategies are best received by certain customers. It's kind of another way to look at your audience and generate some ideas about how you might approach advertising your story within a bookstore. 


Publishing houses are starting to become less of a mystery to me. I'm starting to piece together what genres certain houses like to publish. I'm also learning that there's many more houses out there than I thought. Hopefully one day I can be represented by one of those publishing houses and have one of my books on the shelves :D  

Just a small handful of publishing houses I've come across

Do you work in a bookstore? If you do, do you have anything to add to my list? 

Keep calm and write on, Wordlings!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Beautiful Books | Living City is Written....Now What?

November is over and a few weeks behind us which means that NaNoWriMo is officially over. So my wordlings, did you win? Did you come close? Even if you didn't quite make it, the fact that you made the commitment to begin with is beyond commendable! *showers you with confetti sprinkles*

Now that December has come it's time for the third month of Paperfury's blog link-up, Beautiful Books. This time it's about the aftermath (aka editing). 

This is the first time I'm experiencing this process of writing. I'm feeling a mixture of pride and uncertainty and I stare a lot at the box my manuscript resides in. I haven't even touched the first draft so I'm expecting some more strong emotions to come about. 
But anyway...onwards to the questions! 

On a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best), how did the book turn out? Did anything defy your expectations?

On's a blind analysis since I haven't really read over much. I'm gonna be safe and say 6 or 7. It's a first draft after all and there are some things that I know need improvement. I got lazy for some scenes and breezed through them knowing I'd edit later. The story itself though? I'm very proud of that.

There was quite a bit that defied my expectations, actually. Sometimes I'd be about to move onto a new scene and it would just feel wrong so I'd go with the flow, letting my characters guide me, when all of the sudden a new development twists the entire outline, forcing me to rethink some scenes I had originally planned. All of the defiances worked for the benefit of the story though so three cheers for that!

Comparative title time: what published books, movies, or TV shows are like your book? (Ex: Inkheart meets X-Men.)

I've always tried to figured this out but felt I never could....let's give it a shot though.

The Maze Runner (for the escape stuff) meets...Percy Jackson (for the mythos and ability stuff)? When I put it like that my story sounds rather cliche XD

I suppose that's what I get for coming up with the comparative title on the spot ;)

Maybe a splash of "Heroes" in there as well? 

Do you enjoy working with deadlines and pressure (aka NaNoWriMo)? Or do you prefer to write-as-you’re-inspired?

Deadlines and goals are much better for me. *inner adventurer screeches* Sorry, inner me! We can still spontaneously explore the world!

Without some sort of goal in sight that I can compare my progress to, absolutely nothing will get done. I'm the type that has to tell myself how many chapters I'll study for a final exam or in the case of writing, how many words I'll write by the end of the week.

I will write when I'm inspired but usually poetry will come out of that. If I want to make this author thing work, I need to write both when I want to and when I'd rather curl up and binge watch "Once Upon a Time" all day.

Plus, deadlines always make writing feel epic

How do you go about editing? Give us an insight into your editing process.
Well I've never actually gone through the editing process but so far I've taken some steps and have a plan...
Step one: 
Print off my full manuscript. 

Step Two: 
Box the manuscript and hide it for six weeks. 

Step Three: 
Send the first draft straight off the keys to my Alpha readers with guidelines for watching for continuity errors. For most, I send a list of questions to answer so I can get the feedback I need.

Step Four: 
Read over the Alpha feedback once all or most of it has come it and make note of important or repeated comments in my feedback journal. 

Step Five: 
Once the six weeks have passed, I can open the box and take out the manuscript to edit. I edit best when I can scribble all over the margins and mark up every mistake—I like visual proof that I'm fixing mistakes. It's soothing XD 

Step Six: 
Write draft two. 

Step Seven: 
Send the second draft to selected Beta readers for micro edits. 

Step Eight: 
Mark up a printed copy of draft two. (why do I have a feeling I'll be spending a lot of money on ink and paper?) 

Step Nine: 
Read the comments and write them down like I did with the Alpha reader comments. 

Step Ten: 
Rewrite to form a third draft. 

Step 11: 
Reread the third draft and make any necessary changes ie. commas, spelling, word choice. 

That's the plan anyways....let's see how it goes. I've only gotten to step three so far. 

Bring on the rewrites! 

What aspect of your story needs the most work?

"Aspect". Thank you for not making it "aspects" XD

The beginning for sure. I was a little unsure of where the story would go when I started so it needs a massive reworking. It's choppy and rushed and confusing. Pieces are great but the pieces don't flow yet. I need to make that happen.

What aspect of your story did you love the most?

The ending <3 <3

I love my ending with a passion. It just fell into place and I wasn't expecting it to. It sets up the next book without being too much of a cliffhanger. I also really liked the build to the ending. There was a lot more action in it that I expected but I'm really glad so much of it got in there. As a reader, action is one of my favourite parts of a story.

Give us a brief run down on your main characters and how you think they turned out. Do you think they’ll need changes in edits?

Well this should be fun!

*Drags Kim to the stage* This is Kim. She's my main character and she's super determined...maybe too determined since it gets her into some trouble. Also, she's a little too independently wired for her own good. *pats her head* She needs to make friends.
She turned out exactly as I hoped and better. As I wrote, I found out a lot about her. I do need to change her reactions to a few events and also must explore her backstory some more. She lead me astray a few times so there's some false info in her profile. *parents glares her* 

And this is Colton. *pulls Colton onto the stage* He's my caring British character who is definitely the most level headed of the group. He's kind of the only one who can actually talk Kim out of something since he's reasonable and knows how to tailor information to certain individuals. One thing that I kept running into with this one is that he sometimes acted a little too much like Matt in both speech and action. I'll need to watch for that in my edits.

Lastly, I'll introduce you to Matt. *yanks him to the stage with Colton and Kim* He's not exactly the most charming of people but he's pretty helpfully so we've decided to keep him around, haven't we Kim? Colton?

Matt surprised me though, proving he has a heart for those suffering from injustice. It's a good thing this isn't a revolution story or he'd probably get himself killed.

So those are the main three for this book. *hugs them all*  

What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?

Edits and beta readers for sure. Beyond that, I'm going to be prepping all January to pull together a fabulous pitch—one sheets, first five pages etc. In February I'll be travelling to Florida to pitch it to agents and editors *fingers crossed*. If that doesn't work, I'll start querying and hit up some more conferences. I'm determined to be published. 

Share a favourite snippet!

Oh boy...this is hard. Most of my favourite snippets are at the end and they're full of spoilers. I do like this piece though: 
"Kim looked back at the phone and rolled the turtle charm between her finger and thumb. "What're all these phones from?" 
Matt reached into the box and pulled out one with a black protective case. "Wrecks." 
Kim's eyes darted to him. "Like…"
"It's a museum of stuff from Up There. What did you expect?" 
"Well I knew it would be like this but…all this stuff. It feels so personal to hold." 
Matt sighed. "I know what you mean. Whoever owned this phone, it's a piece of their life." He flipped the device over in the palm of his opposite hand. "You can tell a lot about a person based on what they owned you know." 
Kim glanced at him. "What do you mean?" 
"Well, this person has a protective case around an old phone. The case is black and clunky. Obviously they didn't really care about trends. Functionality was more important to them." He nodded to the phone in Kim's hand. "Whoever had that phone was obviously a girl, probably liked the colour green and maybe went to Hawaii or something." 
Kim looked at the phone. "I never would have thought of any of that." 
Matt dropped the phone in the box. "Yeah well you pick up on it when you're surrounded by this stuff.""
What are your writing goals and plans for 2016?

As I mentioned above, there's that trip to Florida. I hope to finish "Living City" to it's final draft and have the first draft of "Crec" written. If I'm lucky, I'll even have "Sunken Sky", Tholus's second book started. I'm super excited for 2016. It'll be a new era in my writing universe :)

2016, here I come

So that's the link up for this month. If you missed last month's post where I talked about the process of writing "Living City", click here and if you want to learn more about the story itself, follow this linky here. 

How was NaNo this year? 
Did you do Beautiful People? Share a link with me so I can read about your novel too :) 

Write on, Wordlings! 

Friday, December 04, 2015

Sweater Weather Tag | A Canadian Girl Reminiscing About Warmer Weather

I got tagged by my friend Tori at Stori Tori's Blog recently. Sometimes I postpone tags for some reason but since this one is seasonal, I felt a little more pressure to do it XD Bonus points for not having to rack my brain for new facts about myself like I normally have to for tags ;)

So this is more of a fall tag but I decided to do it anyways. It makes me think back to a time when there wasn't snow on the ground and when I could walk to the bus with a hoodie instead of a ski jacket. *sighs* Nostalgic, isn't it?

Onwards to the Questions!

What's your favourite candle scent?

It's funny that this question came up since I recently just discovered the answer to this while building the candle display at Chapters. It's a tossup between Gilded Amberleaf candle, Cranberry and Wild-Rose or Mulberry. All three are amazing.

Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate? 

It depends on the day. If I drink coffee it's in the form of an Iced Cap from Tims but I love tea in the mornings and my friend Kendall and I make some pretty wicked hot chocolate.

What's the best fall memory you have? 

Oh do I pick just one of these? I think the best one was back when I was in junior high. I went to a family friend's birthday party out on a farm. The weather was perfect, the fall colours were bright, we had a bonfire where we roasted hotdogs, attempted (and failed XD) to pop popcorn over the fire and made s'mores.
The best part of the evening though was when we all got a hold of a bunch of golf carts and dirt-bikes and played cops and robbers throughout the entire property. Cops got the golf carts and robbers go the dirt-bikes. One image I still have printed in my mind is coming around the corner of a barn and seeing two golf carts speeding through a wheat field until one of them ran out of gas at the furthest possible point from the house. The guys had to push it back XD
*sighs* That's a good memory.

What's the best fragrance for fall?

I love the smell of a bonfire and I love how the smell lingers in my hair and on my clothes. I also love the smell of dying leaves. Those two things combined make the best fragrance ever.

Favourite Thanksgiving food?

Well I had Thanksgiving back in October cause I'm a Canadian and all that but that doesn't change the fact that my all time favourite food from the holiday is stuffing. When there's leftover stuffing in the fridge, I'll just eat that with a little bit of gravy drizzled on top.
I'm making myself hungry...

What is autumn weather like where you live? 

Welp. It doesn't last long, that's for sure. It's pretty warm for awhile and then it slowly cools down before dropping into the freezing temperature complete with wind and snow. This year was warmer than most but we still got snow in November.

This was the day of the first snowfall a few weeks ago. It snowed for another 24 hours following this photo.

Most worn sweater?

I have this one knitted sweater that's black and white with a fuzzy hood and it has oversized buttons and button loops. I just got it this year from my mom and I love it :)

Football games or jumping in leaf piles? 

You know....I'll have to go with football games—assuming it's just a group of friends and family playing in a park. I love leaves but I hate finding them in my clothes for weeks after I play in them.

Skinny jeans or leggings? 

They tie for me. If I had to pick though, I'd pick jeans.

Combat boots or Uggs? 

I love my Uggs but for fall, I'll pick Combat boots. There's not much time that I actually get to wear them since the snow comes so quickly.

Also, something about combat boots reminds me of going on an adventure

Is Pumpkin Spice worth the hype? 

I'm going to be totally honest—I've never had pumpkin spice before. I've heard mixed opinions and prefer to stick to my Caramel BrulĂ©e lattes ;)

Favourite fall TV show?

Well I don't really watch TV. I'm about to catch up on Heroes Reborn though. Otherwise....does Good Mythical Morning count?

If you've never seen them, look them up immediately XD They're literally my favourite YouTubers ever

What song really gets you into the fall spirit? 

Bloom by The Paper Kites :) Or Featherstone or St. Clarity....The Paper Kites have such a wonderful earthy sound *melts*

Hats or scarves? 

Hats! I love hats. I adore scarves too but hats are my preference.

What's your #1 favorite thing about fall? 

So many things. The smell of the dying leaves, the wind in my hair as I walk down the path behind my house in the evening, the fact that the trees match the colour of the setting sky, the sound of the leaves as they rustle across a barren strip of pavement, the quiet mornings, the still nights...
Well that got rather poetic XD

I can hear the sound now ^ ^ 

The 5 Nominees (Tag, you're it!) 

Since it's getting to be more Christmasy (at least where I am) you can always change the questions to be about winter and Christmas instead of fall and Thanksgiving (it's still sweater weather, after all ;) )  It's up to you though! 

Victoria Nightsky @ A Gathering of Dreams

Kat Cho @ Readiculous Blog

Leah Oxendine @ Barefoot Rebel Hippie

Tracey Dyck @ Adventure Awaits

Anna @ Foxes and Fangs

Do you have anything you look forward to when fall comes around? Any favourite memories?

Enjoy the season, Wordlings!