Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Life Of Music

Ever since I was little, music was a big part of my life. I didn't grow up learning the piano, but I was in the school choir from the time I was in 4th grade to when I transferred schools, along with the clarinet in fifth grade. I played the flute in junior high and high school, learned the guitar in high school, and was also part of my high school's handbell choir. That love of music moved with me into writing and other things in my life.

I issued the challenge because I was curious as to how music and writing affected my co-bloggers.

My music in relation to what I'm writing is in two parts. I have this odd kind of story, where it's being told through one character's point of view, while there's a diary involved that tells the story of another character. It's extremely different to what I've written in the past and I happen to like how it's going.

The first song I'm going to talk about has to do with my main character, who I admit I had to go through my iTunes and find a song to match with her. She's thrown into a world that's not her own just like most fantasy stories, right? But she's one of those girls who believes in science more than fantasy. That is why I picked It's Not Fantasy by Kari Kimmel.

My second character whose story is told is my main character's older sister. This story is told through diary entries that Marissa happens to love. This one has to do with something that has not been revealed in the story and only one person knows. The song I chose for her is Somewhere Only We Know by Keane sung by the Warblers.

My last relevant song that sets the whole tone of the story. I am going to be a nerd and choose Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid, sung by Darren Criss. I just love the idea of wanting to be someone else and being told no. Isn't that always part of life?

As you can see, my music ranges and I love Darren Criss just a little bit. I've got 80's rock, a lot of 90's music, and some current artists. I just hit shuffle on iTunes and skip around until I've got a good song I like.

Finally, just because I'm a nerd and thought this was hilarious as I was writing out this blog entry. I'm done after this, I swear.

Monday, November 28, 2011


So last week my fellow blog sisters and I were issued a challenge by the lovely Mandy. Well Mandy, all I have to say is

What music I listen to depends on my mood. If I am angry or frustrated I turn to Jimmy Eat World. When I just want to chill I pop in a Snow Patrol cd. If I'm in a southern, nostalgic, where-my-roots-are mood the country music comes one. Feeling kinda "bleh" I just put my itunes on shuffle and let it decide what I'm feeling. But, my go-to band has and will probably always be Train. Yes, I listen to Train all the time. Their cds are constantly in my car, their songs on my ipod, their melodies stuck in my head, and their lyrics written all over my school notes. So, of course, when I am told to pick a song for something I usually immediately start running through Train songs. They have some amazing where-did-that-come-from kind of lyrics. They thrown in lines you never expected and I love how creative and (do I have enough swag to use this language) fresh they keep their songs. They don't stick to the conventional lyrics, and that is one of my favorite things about them.

But which song do I pick? I needed to relate it to writing. I thought about it for a while before I had that Homer Simpson "doh" moment. *facepalm* Why not use the song that is entitled after something that writing needs? Words. I thought it was appropriate. But, how to twist it into inspiration for writing? I began to look at the lyrics that moved away from the normal "I love this person so much I'd do anything for them" style. I began to relate them not to a person but to my so-called novel. It began to click. No, I will not give up on my novel! No, I will not say goodbye and stop writing!! I will roll with whatever changes my characters are going through and I will stand by their side no matter what.

Well...its beginning to sound good.

But , what about the chorus? At this point I began to think about J.K. Rowling. Yes, everything seems to come back to her doesn't it. That is what the dictionary calls true inspiration. Anyway, JKR never wrote about what she thought people wanted to hear, she wrote about what she wanted to write about. She was told that writing children's books would get her nowhere. She was told that no one would want to read a book about a British boy wizard. But she wrote that story anyway. She didn't let others talk her out of her dream.

Another way I look at the chorus is relating it to writer's block. Sometimes you just can't find the right words or you just get lost in the path of them. But, when that happens don't let it get you down. Take advantage of it to maybe research a little more about a character or a setting. Maybe work on your vocabulary by searching a thesaurus for the word you are missing. Whatever you need to do to break down that brick wall you just hit, light a fire under it and go. Make something explode (literally or figuratively). Shake up your story with some unexpected fuel and watch it burn out to where your story needs to be. Whatever it takes to move your story forward, however long it takes, just don't give up.

Your words can be your saving grace or your weapons. Let them burn in a way that that either lights your path or shows your wrath.

Let them burn.

Let them burn.

Author: H.P. Lovecraft

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Quote of the Week

"When writing a novel, a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature."
- Ernest Hemingway

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Beginnings Are Easy

"I'll be writing until I can't write anymore. It's a compulsion with me. I love writing." JK Rowling

Reading and writing has always been an extremely large part of my life. In first grade, I was in the only reading group that was reading chapter books in my class. In fourth grade, I wrote and published my first book as part of a class assignment. In sixth grade, I started writing to escape a reality I wasn't too fond of at the time. That's where I'll begin.

In sixth grade, I was forced to move from everything I'd ever known. It was only a twenty minute car ride from where we had moved, but I still had no friends and was known as the nerd in my class because I was always reading. I found comfort in the books I read from Harry Potter, which I had been growing up with, to Shannon Hale novels which are still some of my favorite books. Not long after, I began creating my own worlds where I could escape from the reality of being a nerd, the only girl in my family, and the only child who was not ADHD or Autistic.

From there, I would write every chance I got. I wrote about magic and far away lands that weren't so out of reach. I always had a love of fantasy, so that's where most of my stories were based. Fantasy worlds that were still within our own realm.

I've never strayed too far away from that sight. I still write about normal people who don't fit in or even people who fit in extremely well who are taken away to a new world. I love researching myths and fantasy, trying to twist them to fit my own need. It's always going to be something I hold close to my heart and something I'm never going to give up on.

If I get published, that would be amazing. I'm not saying I would ever be the next Stephen King or JK Rowling, but I would love to have a physical copy of a book and just be able to say, "I did this. This is a goal I have been able to reach."

I don't think I'd ever be able to get as good feedback as I get from my girls I do this blog with. I know that I can send them something and be told what's good or what needs to be changed. Especially with a big portion of my book, I know that I can send it to Marissa and she will help me decide if there's something that shouldn't be revealed until later in the story.

You girls are amazing and I feel so lucky to have been able to meet you. If it wasn't for Hogwarts Radio or ShadowKissed.Net in Amy's case, I don't know where I would be right now. You girls will always be my biggest inspiration.

Now, I have a challenge for our bloggers in next week's posts. Find a song that describes what you're writing and explain why you chose it and how it relates to your writing.

Friday, November 25, 2011

[Insert Witty Title Here]

Like Amy, I had troubles over the past few days trying to decide what to write about for my inaugural post on this lovely blog; my co-bloggers have set high expectations that I think I will fall short of. Even up until when I sat down to write this, I still had no clue what to write about. And then it hit me, somewhere as I tried to make a title: I should write about deciding a topic to write on.

Beginning to write a novel can be extremely hard for some people, especially when you don't have a topic to write about. That was my problem when I first started NaNoWriMo this year. I didn't know what I was going to write about. All the ideas that I came up with were stealing from other authors' works. A story about witches and wizards, a story about vampires and werewolves, a story about faeries. And besides feeling like I was stealing their ideas, even though my plotlines were totally different, I felt overwhelmed by trying to start a novel that took place in a world that I would know nothing about until I began crafting it with words was daunting. I felt like I would mess it up. But thankfully I had decided in mid-October that I was going to do it, so I had a little time to think of other ideas. Then one night I had a dream (I know it sounds cliche, but it's true!), and it all clicked into place. It's safe to say I was ecstatic that I finally had a direction to move in. And not only did I have a direction, but I knew all about the places that my character was going to go, because I had been there myself. Then when November 1st came along, the words just started flowing out of my fingers and on to the keyboard. Not that I'll even finish my 50,000 words by the end of the month, but like my co-bloggers have said, at least I started!

On a completely unrelated note, one thing that I think is one of  the key "ingredients" to writing is lots of food and drink. I know that when I'm writing, not only is my mind hungry to see where my story will take me next, but my stomach is also begging for something. It seems every time I get into a good rhythm, I become hungry and have to grab something to eat. Even if I've just eaten. My mind relates writing with eating. So I've outsmarted my stomach and now when I go to write, I bring lots of snacks with me so I don't have to interrupt myself. And it works quite well.

Well, there's my two cents about starting a novel, and if I've helped even one person start on their goal of writing a book, then my mission has been accomplished. Much love!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Ingredients

For the past few days, I've been wondering what on Earth I will blog about on my first post. I've read the wonderful posts my friends have put up and I feel I can't write anything that good. However, I must, so here we go!

There are a few things I think are really important to have or do when writing. First and foremost, you need a support group. I hadn't written in months and months because I thought I was too busy. At the beginning of November however, my friends convinced me to join NaNoWriMo with them. I don't have enough words as of today to even dream of winning NaNo this year, but I needed that push from my friends to start writing again. They got me going when I had months of self-induced writer's block. If you've got a support group, you can run ideas that you're iffy about past them, you can ask them for random ideas like names, or you can find inspiration in them. It really does change the whole writing process when you have a group that is going through it with you.

Another thing that I believe is very important is some form of planning. It doesn't have to be anything terribly detailed, but it should be enough that you have something to write off. I had to deal with this first hand at the beginning of NaNo. I decided that I was going to do NaNo on the first day of NaNo. Needless to say, I was rushed, getting myself together for it. I decided that for the month, I'd work on a project I'd thought of over the summer. I only had the basics written down, and it became apparent in my writing that I didn't know my characters very well. I'd only bothered with the main character in jotting down my ideas over the summer and when it came to actually writing, that showed.

Last but not least, you need to just write. I know all too well how easy it to just say you're too busy or to say that you'll start writing next weekend. I also know how easy it is to just write between classes or during a spare minute or two at work. We all have busy lives, but if you really want to write, you can always find a little time here or there to jot something down. Once you get going again, it'll be much easier to continue. All you need is that first plunge.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Plunge

Mark this in history as the first official book post for this blog. We had the obligatory “hello” post and the unexpected birthday post (thank you to my gurrrls by the way. My birthday was wonderful J) but it is now time to get down to the nitty gritty business that this blog was created for. To me, this blog represents inspiration, motivation, imagination, and all those other cliché –ation words. It’s a place created for those who need help in their writing, including the bloggers ourselves. Somewhere we can help and be helped when we get stuck in those muddy ruts and our tires are spinning. This blog will hopefully be the wrench we need to get back on the road.
However, as this is the first blog, I feel that it is only appropriate that we begin where people normally like to start: the beginning. Where do you begin this book you have thought about writing so many times before but never had the idea for it? This was my problem. Then, that bright white light showed up to help me on my way. I like to call that light the transcribing team from Hogwarts Radio. It is a relatively new team created for a dearly loved podcast nearing the end of its time. To use a very overused idea, its end is my beginning. I created some friends who then persuaded (or perhaps peer-pressured is a better term) me to start NaNoWriMo. Even though I will never finish on time to win this year (I think I have about 5000 words) I am glad that I began. That is the point of this post. I BEGAN!
I have always thought about writing a book. However, every time I began to write it always ended up with some unloved child in a cupboard type room whose life was a big secret that would soon be revealed. Sound familiar? It should. And if it doesn’t then you have about seven books to get caught up on. Anyway, this cupboard child never went away. So I gave up on ever writing a book.
But then I found friends. That is my first advice to anyone. Get friends. They really do help. But you have to find the ones who will support and motivate you even when you feel stuck in a cupboard with no space to move. Friends will get you to do things that you would have never thought was possible. Obviously, don’t do the things that make you go against your morals (like drugs, sex, Twilight, ect.) but do take the opportunity to try some things. It might make all the difference. For example, I have some great stories on jumping into a freezing swimming pool in the middle of January when the temperature is in the teens and twenties (Fahrenheit). I did that for three years in a row. It started a tradition in my youth group that is carried on to this day. It even expanded to my youth minister and pastor jumping in one year with a crowd of excited church members standing with video cameras ready for the big splash. And it all started with a friend of mine saying, “Hey, let’s go jump in the pool!” Yes, it was terrifying. Yes, it caused a heart-racing adrenaline rush. Yes, it did hurt for a bit. But, that one or two minutes of fear, anxiety, and pain caused memories that would last a lifetime and a crazy feeling of satisfaction. Had I simply watched my friends jump in I would probably regret it. I would constantly wonder how it was, what it felt like, and why they wanted to do it again the next year.
With my novel, I just began to write. I took the first jump and discovered that cupboard kid again. But, slowly, as I kept going farther and farther into the story’s development that cupboard room began to expand into a regular sized room with one wall made of glass so that my character could see the sky at night. I learned to just let my imagination take over and to record all of my brain-rambles. There are some good ideas that come from nowhere sometimes. My biggest break through idea came when I was sitting in a macroeconomics lecture. I wrote it down in my notes, took it to a computer after class, and let my fingers fly over the keyboard to develop the idea further.
The point of this post is to just start. When I jumped in the pool the first time, I was bundled up in layers of clothes. From that I learned that it was better to wear shorts and a t-shirt because the less fabric meant a quicker dry-off and a quicker recovery. The same goes with my story. I just jumped into writing and let it take me where I needed to go. I learned more about my characters the more I thought or wrote about them. I discovered their secrets, their desires, and their personalities more as I just kept writing. That cupboard kid became a 17 year old orphan girl with long, bright red hair, a passion for painting, a love of literature, and a family secret to discover. Now I just have to find out that secret. Time to plunge a little further.

Author: Cody Doctorow

Friday, November 18, 2011


It just so happens that the same day we start our new blog, one of our bloggers has a birthday! Marissa is officially 21! As a Happy Birthday post to her, check out this video from a group all of our bloggers love: Potter Puppet Pals!

Marissa, Happy Birthday from all your fellow bloggers! We hope you have a great day!

Welcome to Pen, Paper, Priorities!

We are a group of girls who met through transcribing a Harry Potter podcast called Hogwarts Radio and started NaNoWriMo 2011 together, only to find that we all enjoy writing. We created this site to talk about our experiences writing, give tips, and have fun.

We can't wait to start and we hope that you'll join us on this fun adventure.