Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Double Feature

So, I realized the other day that the lovely Opal @ Opal Swirls tagged me for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award last month and I never noticed (because I am numb like that). Sorry, Opal. She also nominated me for the A Writer’s Life for Me Tag a few weeks ago, which means I have some catching up to do. Thanks for the tags, Opal!

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award


Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their site.
Put the award logo on your blog.
Answer the ten questions sent to you.
Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.
Nominate ten blogs.

Opal’s Questions (both bold and italic):

Motto to live by? Silly or for real.

Well, I don’t exactly have a motto, but my family often quotes one from Robots—“Never try, never fail”—which seems like an excellent axiom.

Favorite type of cookie? The most important question.

TOO MANY OPTIONS. But if I had to narrow it down, I’d say pretty much anything with both chocolate and mint.

Do you dance in the rain? Please tell me you at least jump in puddles.  

YES. I do dance in the rain. In fact, when I was a counselor at a summer camp, most of my campers probably assumed I’d lost my marbles because I went mud sliding and jumping in puddles and all that fun stuff. (What do you mean, I set a bad example?)  


What do you know about New Zealand? I always have a NZ question.

I know New Zealand is beautiful, and I’m pretty sure you call people from New Zealand kiwis (which is easier than saying New Zealandishers, or something like that). I want to live there someday, and I’ve already established that, when I’m dictator of the world, I will allow NZ to continue as a free state. Also, fun fact: Of the people who visit my blog, kiwis have taken third place in number of page views since they bumped out France. (Aussies come in second, and Americans take first, in case you were curious.)


What do you find the hardest about blogging? Be honest.

Remembering to blog. It’s not that I have a bad memory, it’s just that I have difficulty with the concept of time (days and weeks—I’m fine with minutes and hours). A month can pass, and I might not even notice. So I’m always worried I’m going to skip a week’s post because I’ve lost track of what day it is (it’s almost happened a couple times—shhh, don’t tell).


Strangest thing you’ve seen in public? Yeah…

When I used to live in Africa, I went to a restaurant that had a tame deer hanging out near the tables. I also went to a gas station that had a zoo attached (but it was a really depressing zoo because the lion was dead and the giant tortoise was sick).


One word that describes you? A word you would use to describe you.

Coffee (don’t even question this—it’s totally an adjective).


Do you have a favorite poet? A poem, a poem is good too.

I’m a big fan of Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Edgar Allan Poe, but I also like Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Time Does Not Bring Relief; You All Have Lied” and Robert Frost’s “Bereft”.


Last book you read and enjoyed? To steal from Heather (again).

This is a hard one because I usually read (and consequently finish) more than one book at a time. So I’m going to cheat a little on this question and tell you about one I’m currently reading and enjoying. (Sorry, Opal.) I’m working on MONSTERS OF MEN by Patrick Ness (in case you were wondering, it’s the sequel to THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO and THE ASK AND THE ANSWER).


The best sport in the world is… soccer/horsebackriding.

Sorry, neither. I choose cross-country. I wasn’t a big fan of team sports when I was a little person, so I liked the freedom of cross-country. I could just ignore everyone and set my own pace.

A Writer’s Life for Me Tag


Thank the person who tagged you (and link back, because that’s just good etiquette.)
Answer the ten questions.
Re-post the picture.
Tag 5-10 bloggers.


What kind of writer are you?

An obsessed one. When I was in high school, I’d finish my work and then rush to the laptop to work on my book. I didn’t do much else (socializing, sports, eating, sleeping? Who needs all that?).


When did you start writing? What made you want to try it?

I started writing when I was a little seven-year-old living in Africa. My teacher was this great Northern Irish woman, and she taught the best writing curriculum ever. (Side Note: Comparing that to some of the experiences I had in American schools, I can safely say I’m not sure I would be as into writing now if I’d been first exposed in the United States.)


What inspires your stories?

This is a difficult question to answer because it’s a bit personal. So I’ll just put it this way: each of my stories characterizes something I’ve lost.


What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

This ties in with the last question. I write about loss and grief in its varying forms (loss of family, loss of friends, loss of trust, loss of country, etc…) It’s how I figure out what’s going on in my head. I also write about interesting things like psychopaths, dragons, and xenophobic cultures.


Are you a panster or a plotter or a bit of both?

It’s funny—I used to be strictly a panster, hands-down. I only needed to know the starting and ending points. But last NaNoWriMo, I found I needed to work up a rough outline of everything before I could write (and by rough outline, I mean very rough). Now, as I’m hurtling toward another NaNoWriMo, I’ve been getting even more into the planning mood, so I may be evolving as a writer—or I might just be going through a stage. I’m not sure yet.

Where are you at in your journey? Querying, agented, published?

I’m currently querying and working on other projects to distract myself.


Have you ever entered any writing contests? Finaled? Won?

I made it to semi-finals in two essay-writing contests when I was a wee little tyke.  


Who are your writer heroes?

Ray Bradbury. Bet you didn’t see that one coming. (And I also have to add Nova Ren Suma because she is a master hypnotist when it comes to her prose.)


Have you been to a writing conference? Share your best or worst conference experience.

Never been, unfortunately. Hopefully I’ll make it to one someday.


Top 3 tips you’d give to newbie writers?

Disclaimer: These are just tidbits I needed to hear along the way, so please take them all with a grain of salt. They may not work as well for you as they worked for me.

One: You may feel heartless and cruel, but if you can’t summon the strength to kill off or torment your characters when it’s necessary to move the plot along, you might want to think about choosing a nicer, softer profession, like botany, whale-watching, or professional croquet (if they have that). Okay, so that’s a little harsh. My point is, to be an effective writer, you have to be at least a little cold-hearted.  

Two: If you were to eat a cake made almost entirely of frosting, you’d probably feel a little sick—you might not even make it all the way through. In writing, adjectives are your frosting. And while they make a great accent, you don’t want to give your readers upset stomachs. So you’d be doing yourself a great favor if you avoided sentences like, “The girl with flowing blonde hair and rich emerald eyes flung the large, half-way deflated, orange rubber ball toward the small, tow-headed, mischievous toddler with brown streaks of crumbly, chocolate cake smeared carelessly on his rounded, apple cheeks.” If you were dressing up to go out, you wouldn’t try to wear a dozen necklaces at once (well, I certainly hope you wouldn’t)—so don’t make your reader suffer a similar experience. Make every word pull its weight.

Three: Shoot your inner editor. I’d never even finished writing an entire first draft of a novel until I participated in NaNoWriMo and just wrote like a crazy person with a posse of angry lawmen on my tail. Race toward that finished draft as if your life depends on it because—trust me—it does.


And there you have it. Since I’m pretty sure most of the bloggers I follow have been tagged for one or both of these already, I’m not going to nominate anyone. But if you haven’t, and you’d like to, just let me know and I’ll link back to you. (Also, just as a heads-up: Next week is my first blogversary, and there will be a giveaway!)


  1. That's a hilarious axiom. XD If I were a fan of running, I think I would like cross country, too. It's very interesting that your stories are all based on loss, which sounds very sad, but it sounds like it could also very therapeutic. Good lucky querying!

    1. I know, right? I really liked how running cross country gave me time to think, and even though I was on a team, it was really a solitary sport, which is my favorite type. I do find writing about loss to be very therapeutic, and I do try to mix things up because writing about the same theme over and over could get a little boring, although there's a lot you can do with it. Thanks!

  2. You lived in Africa? That is so cool!!! What part? I have some South African friends here, but I'd never met a South African before I moved to Oz.

    Hahaha, yes, I love that line. My sister quotes it often.

    And I love your writing tips, especially because you related it to cake. Everything is better when it relates to cake.

    1. I lived in Cote d'Ivoire, West Africa and I stayed in Ghana for about two weeks when we were evacuating. I don't think I've met any South Africans, actually, though my sister has met a family of Americans who lived in South Africa for years and years (which doesn't quite count).

      Your sister has good taste. :)

      Thanks--I'm glad you like them. True that--everything really is better when you relate it to cake.

  3. Omg I'm soo tempted to steal the writerly one. XD I was actually part-way through creating a writer tag so WE'LL SEE HOW THAT GOES.

    Ahhhh I've been to a gas station (well, petrol station in Oz) where there was a sort of wildlife zoo attached, IT WAS WEIRD. They just had a whole pen of emus and kangaroos and camels...they all looked half dead and I felt so bad for them. :| Granted, it was like in the middle of Australia, where you could have a picnic on the highway for like 53 years and never see a car. BUT I DIGRESS.

    I LIKE YOUR TIPS. I shot my inner editor too. It was very traumatic and I lost 6 months to writers block but then -- BOOM -- and I'm not a messy but happy first drafter. :')

    1. You should totally steal the writerly one. I'd love to see your answers (and now I'm super excited to see you create your own writerly tag--I've actually been considering creating my own tag, just not specifically writing or anything).

      Petrol is such a cool word-just saying. So apparently Cote d'Ivoire isn't the only country that's like, "Well, we have a gas station--but do you know what would make this even better? A zoo!" Half-dead animals in zoos are so depressing--like, what even is the point? Why not just look at a painting of a sad camel instead of an actual sad camel?

      I'm glad you like my tips. :) I've been running from the law ever since I shot my inner editor, but I think it was worth it. I'm glad you were able to get past your writer's block--breaking past that infernal wall is the best feeling ever. :)

  4. You used to live in Africa? That's amazing! And thank you for those tips, they're very helpful <3

    a little bit of sunshine

    1. Yes, I lived in Africa for over two years when I was little. :) You're welcome--I'm glad you liked them. <3 Thanks for dropping by!

  5. Happy blogversary! Thanks for doing the tags :)

    1. Happy (belated?) blogversary to you too! And you're welcome. :) (Sorry I didn't clue in to the first one sooner.)

  6. I can't figure out which part of this post is the best, because it is too fab. Congratulations on the award, of course, but also your answers? Coffee as an adjective! Edgar Allan Poe (*high-fives*)! Cold-hearted writers and all-frosting cake! Seriously fabulous.

    Thanks for commenting on The Devil Orders Takeout!

    1. Aww, thanks. :) Coffee is totally an adjective--it just is. *high fives right back* Edgar Allan Poe is brilliant. I'm glad you liked it. :)

      You're welcome, and thanks for dropping by!

  7. Oh myyy gosh, today I've been finding out about so many blogs, and realise...It's a small blogging world... These are such great tags! Can't wait for more posts :D

    Check out my blog? I you want to ~

    Rukiya XX

    1. Oh goodness yes, there are soooo many blogs out there, and yet it really does feel like such a small blogging world when you think about it. I'm glad you liked the tags. :) Thanks for commenting!

  8. I love the analogies you used for the adjective advice! They make sense when put that way. I can't stand reading popular books with a ton of adjectives. Sometimes I question their readership. . .

    Shooting the inner editor! YES! (Okay, so mine isn't exactly shot, more like gagged and trapped in a dark closet to be released at the proper time.) I never, never finished a first draft until I stopped editing what I had written and stopped rethinking every sentence as I wrote it. This was probably one of the hardest lessons I've had to learn thus far.

    1. Thank you! I struggle with this problem, so it's something I constantly need to remind myself of--and a cake made of frosting really drives the point home. I feel vaguely ill just thinking about it. :P But yeah, overuse of adjectives just makes the writing feel clumsy and imprecise.

      Okay, I'll admit, I didn't kill my inner editor--I just shot to wound. But it was still effective, though gagging and trapping in a dark closet is a totally viable option as well, with the added bonus of fewer messy bloodstains to mask with random furniture. And I feel your pain--I used to edit was I went, and I just couldn't make any progress. I kept losing steam and losing sight of my goal and losing that sense of why it was I was even writing. So, for me, NaNoWriMo is one of the most effective tools ever.

  9. Ahhh. I was the same way. I used to be a strict pantser, but then I started plotting more, so now I'm just a plantser. :p It works out pretty well, so then I don't feel trapped by the plans I have for my book.

    And that's cool that you used to live in Africa. ^.^

    1. Aww, planster high five. I think, being a planster is so great because I can begin to appreciate both sides of the writing community, and I can take advantage of the different strengths in each technique. I'm glad it works for you too! :)

      Thanks. :) I'll probably write a post or two about living in Africa some point.