What’s a common theme in your writing?
Coming of age is a theme I’ve used in all my stories. Not that my main characters are literally growing up, but I like to use it metaphorically. I like to write about young women but are coming into their own, finding their footing and their confidence in themselves and the world around them. Finding inner strength but also finding strength in their fellow women. I just really love strong women who empower other women. That’s one of the strongest themes in Elements. My main five characters are girls who could not be more different but they come together and find unity and sisterhood as they battle their literal demons together.
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Do you have an expression that you probably use too much in your writing?
The first one that comes to mind is characters using their hands as they talk. I like animated people, people who throw their hands up when they’re excited or clench their fists when they’re angry. But I definitely use the term “talked with their hands” specifically too much, if I’m being honest. I also have an issue with “I felt” and “I saw.” I’m a teller, not a shower and that’s been a big struggle in maturing my writing, but knowing is half the battle.
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Use at least five adjectives to describe the environment in your WIP.
Oh I love the environment! Sets the tone for the entire piece. Nature is such a huge element to witchcraft, so I wanted to explore that throughout my WIP. The main reason I put my fictional town, Rifton, in Oregon was simply how beautiful it is. I grew up in the mountains so I wanted to pay homage to that chapter of my life. The crisp air. The cool breeze that sweeps across the valley as the sun sinks behind the mountain peaks. The lush green pine trees and the smell of sticky sap. The way the slush from a melting snow storm seeps into the canvas of your sneakers as you walk down the street. The forest is beautiful to look at, but it fills the other four senses all the same.
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Which character is an absolute pain to write and why?
Ugh, I hate admitting this, but my villain. It’s taken me literal years to develop my main antagonist into something that actually scares the shit out of me. Villains are hard. How do you create a backstory for them that isn’t cliche? What made them evil? What even is evil? Villains who are evil for the sake of being evil are boring and the last time I wanted was an epic group of heroes clashing with a mediocre bad guy. His motivation has definitely changed over the years, but people change. People let things fester, they let their emotions take them over and turn them into completely different beings. That’s something I wanted to give detail to, the humanity of villains. Something to make him relatable. Something to make him the hero of his own story.
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What have you learned recently, about yourself, about your writing, about your story?
Recently, I’ve learned that I’m better than I think I am. Throughout my life, I’ve guarded my writing like a pot of gold. I remember being in elementary school, I’d write in class with my arm covering the page, hunched over to protect as much of it as I could. And I did this because I was afraid of being made fun of. Even in later years when I grew more confident in myself, I rarely let anyone read my writing. I wrote my first novella my senior year of high school and only a handful of people read it. And I always wondered, are these people saying it’s good because it’s actually good or because these are my friends who care about hurting my feelings?
That’s always in the back of my head, wondering if my friends think I’m actually a good writer or if they compliment my writing because they’re my friends. I am absolutely my toughest critic, always holding myself to such an unobtainable level. I remember the first time I handed off a completed draft of Elements to be read, the feedback I got was, “it reads like a book.” And I haven’t let anyone else read it since. The collecting pile of publication rejection letters only solidifies my fears, but recently I came to a conclusion.
I write for myself, to express myself and to have something that belongs to me. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if five people actually like it or five million, it’s mine and it’s something beautiful that I love and I relate to it. I’m a reader and I’ve read countless books, and I think it’s good. That has to count for something, right? I figure if my own toughest critic can see beauty in my words, they have to be pretty good.
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Have you ever read a thing in a book or seen in a show/movie where you thought: “Oh, this is good, I’m gonna steal that!” What was it?
Magic and spells, usually. With my current WIP, Elements, I have been trying to do my own spin on magic. Make it something unique while still honoring the practice of witchcraft, because it’s a fine line, ya know? There’s still so much about the craft I’m still discovering and learning myself, and there’s so many different opinions out there. The story evolved into what it is because of my fascination and pull towards witchcraft but where I am now in my life, I’ve come to have a great deal of respect for it. And I want that to come through in the plot and the world I’ve created. One of my favorite things about fantasy is that you can answer the question “why?” with “because!” and it’s completely acceptable. While I do plenty of that, I want some of it to be believable and relevant to modern day witchcraft, so we’ll see how well I deliver on that.
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Have you ever read a thing in a book or seen in a show/movie where you thought: “Oh, this is bad, I can do this so much better!” What was it?
I won’t name names because I’d never publicly do that to another writer. We all have our differences and styles, that’s what makes us unique. If all writers wrote the same, the world would be the grayscale option on a printer. That being said, the one thing that I have read more often than not where I thought I could do better were romance novels of the erotic variety. Don’t look at me like that, you know you’ve read at least one in your travels.
My issue is that there’s no plot and some people like the plotless smut but I am not one of them. Characters need purpose, direction, motivation. Sure, I guess getting laid can be all of those things but I need more. I need more than a petite woman with big boobs getting hit on by a tall buff dude with Chad Michael Murray’s face. The fantasy is great and all, but it’s just so superficial. Those intimate moments have to be written well, otherwise it feels awkward.
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Tell us about a scene you’re most looking forward to writing in your current project.
So while my current project is a five book series, there are MANY scenes I’m looking forward to writing. One of the perks of being a plotter, I like having a road map of how things are going to turn out which takes a lot of the pressure off the actual writing for me, but I still have to be feeling a scene for it to sound right. That being said, what I’m most excited about writing in the future is definitely the end of the fourth book. I know that sounds ambitious as an unpublished writer but this series is getting done even if I have to stand on the street corner and sell copies myself. But the ending of the fourth novel is something I’ve had in the back burner of my mind for years now. It’s one of my favorite branches of the plot, favorite twists, favorite thing you never saw coming with honestly, my favorite character. Are we supposed to have favorites? Do they have to be our protagonist? Anyway, it looks and sounds great in my head, and I’m taking my sweet time to ensure that it transfers through the keyboard.
Day 21: What’s a trope you haven’t used yet but want to use one day?
Slow burn is definitely one I’ve never done before that I think would be fun. I’ve never written a genuine romance novel, it’s always been a background theme. There and making an impact on the story but not the main purpose. There’s something about watching two people slowly fall in love, knowing that they’re meant to be together but waiting for the two of them to figure it out. There’s been times where I’m reading a slow burn romance where I wanted to grab the two characters’ heads and push them together. “Now kiss.” But that’s what keeps your audience engaged, giving them little nibbles of something good and then slowly revealing it. Each page is turned because the readers are eager to see what happens to these people they’ve grown to care about. You have to give them something to care about, characters and readers both.
It’s funny that it’s one I haven’t used when it’s one I definitely relate to. My husband and I were friends for years before we started dating, granted we were sixteen when we got together but the slow burn was still present.
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Day 20 prompt: Make a mood board.
Ooh man, do I love a good mood board. Nothing gets creativity flowing quite like a good aesthetic, right? Pinterest is my best friend for this kind of stuff and my WIP, Elements, has its own account. This particular mood board I made for my main character, Whitney, the water witch.
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