Posts Tagged ‘books’




Do you choose a hero as your main character or heroine? Why does it matter which gender? Does it affect the genre you write in or even challenge how you might think behind the main character?

The choice I always face when starting my books is finding whatever spark is that inspired it. Sometimes it’s a name that I’ve added onto; sometimes it’s a scene from a movie that I get so pumped about that I wish that I had written something similar or gives me an idea on how I could have done it differently with that premise. Sometimes it’s a person walking along the street with some feature like a colorful turban around wild curls that just fascinates me or a younger girl struggling to be taken seriously when she lacks height in a tall room or a strong voice. Something always triggers this for writers. It’s not always a character-but the question I want to ask myself after I write the premise and outline for the story is not what is next but who is going to be starring. Sometimes I fall in love with a good side character and end up realizing that I want a different main character to accompany them and partner up. I choose hero or heroine based on this: do I want to challenge myself and write from a guy’s perspective-something that I’m not familiar with since I’m a girl but yet know their actions from growing up with boys? Or do I want to appeal to that genre that I’m writing in or certain time period when a girl just wouldn’t have been included or doesn’t fit in? I ask these questions when writing a book because accuracy is so important even when writing for yourself. A girl just wouldn’t have been included in too many spy or war films long ago unless you want to step outside of the realistic world and dip into a sort of fantasy you create. Presentation for these books and historic knowledge will enhance your story and make it more believable to more than just a small crowd. Why not appeal to all sorts of audience with accuracy in your story? Everyone enjoys it when the writer takes time and research to carefully construct his story and tell a realistic tale. People want to be sucked into a world that they might live in. They need to be able to get lost in your pages if you want to become successful.

I recently went to see Wonder Woman in theaters and got a taste of that warlike image that women can be powerful and they can make a difference. It was refreshing without being heavy handed and enjoyable because it had enough historical accuracy to might have happened in that fantasy world. They set the bar with superheroes and long forgotten Greek mythology in a world where anything is possible if granted these powers. There is enough accuracy in the abnormality of a woman in a war and having no qualms about showing as much skin as she does that make this movie both funny and relatable.  It wouldn’t have been half as enjoyable if they had not described the time period like they did. It set the mood. It appealed to the genre. But it also appealed to more than just one audience.

This is why you need to be asking hero or heroine when you write your next novel. Which would accurately describe your story and fit in with their job and world they live in? If they lived in the past World Wars, perhaps the girl pretends to be a man to fight alongside her brother or avenge her lost love. I keep harping back to war, but it is an easy way of getting lost when writers insert random character unrealistically in worlds they don’t belong in. If they don’t belong, then explain why the oddity should exist in that world. Don’t just use a gender just to fit back into whatever you are comfortable with and continue the same cookie cutter character in an unrealistic role for them. Appeal to the genre. Appeal to the audience. And don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. Writers don’t become authors just by writing stories. Writers become authors when the audience lives their story.

When you start your next book, ask yourself: hero or heroine?






Okay, so the task might seem simple enough. To write, one must put down words and they form sentences and then those form paragraphs and then those form a story. That’s writing, right? Well, a good writer knows that he or she needs help and they love to ask other writers-better writers. I mean, why else would you turn to anybody just random for help in a specific field? So you pick writers and you listen to what they have to say and that’s when it gets confusing. 
Which words do you use? 

I use my Pinterest quite a lot, from making storyboards, thinking up characters, getting a visual on what a spaceship needs to look like, dreaming of my next name for my book or just getting any ideas or inspiration. I use it for the articles for telling authors what to use and what not to use and I’ve come across a few contradictory things. Mainly words. A lot of writers will use that you don’t use this word or that word and that will make publishers throw your manuscript in the trash bin but then I see others that say quite the opposite and want you to dumb down your elaborate language speaking of the eloquence of the lapis lazuli tiger statuette and then just plainly spell it out for the reader. After all, they don’t want to get bogged down by all the details. 

In my personal opinion, flowery language gets you nowhere; it’s useless, clutters the page and then wastes my limited time with words that I would never be able to spell. But I’ve seen books where this works. I’ve seen this book series all the way through and even when I hardly understood the language, once I stuck with it, it all made sense. It was a different world. Why wouldn’t they have their own terms and curse words and mechanical phrases? If they stopped to explain in great detail every time a word was spoken, that would have driven me crazy and lessened the story. Instead, Scott Westerfield delves into his series starting with Leviathan and working his way through Goliath and ending with Behemoth. The language and world is unfamiliar but he shows you what the words mean and the phrases and it is all so cleverly written. I would highly recommend the series to anyone. But there are the articles that say he shouldn’t use words no one knows. There are authors that use the dumbed down simple language too and the plot and characters so richly came to life that it made me want to read it over and over again. I do think certain words should be ommitted in writing but I also can’t condemn them. It matters what your story is about and it matters that it draws in the reader and keeps them guessing until the end. That’s what really matters. 

P.s. Merry Christmas, my lovely Ravens 

It’s that time of month again and the most awkward video award of the year goes to…


But seriously, y’all, I’m super awkward at this. Please excuse the terrible audio since our limited time and a busy Starbucks made the video rather spotty. This might be one of the last video interviews I have since my other interviewees are not able to sit down with me and verbally communicate the answers to my questions, but rest assured, I will continue to have them fill out various forms and post them as they come.

S.G. Baker, a Memphis Grizzly and University of Tennessee, Knoxville enthusiast (Whoo, go VOLS!), is an aspiring author and lives in Tennessee, with her mom, dad, and two, younger brothers Dylan and Gunner. She writes novels, and just completed her book series, The Reformation Trilogy, and now is working on her contemplation of short stories, Greetings from New York. She is also experimenting with sports writing and has been featured on the front blog page of Grizzly Bear Blues, (see link below). And she also is the genius behind this blog, .

Monica Bond interview

Monica Bond interview

Let me just preface by saying that a) I may not be the best person to look to for writing advice and b) I admittedly haven’t read that much of my lovely’s little blog in here, so I may be repeating wisdom that you’ve already heard. Also, if you come away from this with absolutely no enlightenment whatsoever, then I either am terrible at giving advice (which would not be surprising), or you have a personal problem. 
I should introduce myself. That’s what one does in social situations, right? I’m Mary Catherine, but my friends call me MCat (but I write under a pen name). I’ve done Nanowrimo for four years, and have won three out of four (I don’t like to talk about last year). It gave me the confidence to do something I hadn’t quite been able to accomplish yet – finish a novel. Well, most of the time. My first year doing Nano I wrote a mythical book that was entirely over-outlined and had a plot that went on for miles with useless filler. But we live, and we learn, and this year’s Nano is my favorite. However, Nano was not what got me addicted to writing. No, my gateway drug was stapled together construction paper with sloppily penciled words amid cut-out American Girl Doll pictures – hello age five. From there, I graduated to, well, more stapled together construction paper, this time without pictures, with three page chapters and characters with the MOST generic names possible. I’m not kidding – if I had a dime for every time that I named a character Sarah when I was seven to eight, I would have at least twenty dollars. Okay, maybe not. But you get my drift. 


Fast-forward a couple of years, and I had started composing mini-novels, with more original names (baby name books ARE your best friend) and plots that didn’t revolve around my favorite animated Disney movies (looking back, I wrote a lot of fanfiction). But I didn’t write my first real novel attempt until perhaps sixth grade. Being spy-obsessed, I churned out some 13,000 words (that seemed like a ton back then) about a murder mystery that involved the decapitated limbs of the murderer’s former victims and a girl in a black trench coat who was able to solve it all without even upsetting her black newsboy cap. Her name? Marty. I grew so attached to her that I started a trilogy about the same character. Notice that I say started – and somewhere in the remains of my old laptop, three unfinished novels sit, betrayed. I like to think that I’ll go back and rewrite them someday, because Marty and her boyfriend Skip are still close to my heart. 
I’m not going to bore you with how I found out about Nano, wrote a fifteen-page outline because I had no idea how much it would take for me to write 50k, and plummeted into a mythical (and very, very cheesy) novel that reached the goal, but never a conclusion. I like to think I’ll go back and rewrite it someday. 
Bottom line, one spy Nano (not Marty, unfortunately) and one failed Nano later, I have graduated to being able to crank out 50k in, this year, 19 days. (I finished on the 23rd after scrapping my first plot and starting four days in). The moral of this story? Practice makes almost-perfect. Of course, there is still much (MUCH) revision to be done. And I’m also not expecting this novel to end until somewhere around 70k. Also, I’m in love with it, which is probably the best feeling to have as a writer. 
Therefore, I leave you with a few nuggets of advice/facts about writers for you to file away between your latest plot bunny or shove underneath the nearest coffee cup. 
  1. Writers are certifiably insane. 
I talk to my characters on a daily basis, even ones that I’m not writing at the time. They become real, breathing, living beings that you have formulated, and one of the best ways to get to know them is to have conversations with them. Although doing it only when people aren’t around is recommended as well. 
  1. We find inspiration everywhere. 
Carry a notebook and pen with you wherever you go. Inspiration is as unpredictable as a storm on the coast. It will hit on it’s own terms, and you have to be there to catch it as it flows from you. Scribble everything that comes to your head when you see that interesting looking man on the subway/that girl who sings on a street corner for tips/that wounded dog. Even ideas that seem bad at first can have potential later, so never skip anything. Also, don’t trust yourself to remember later. 
  1. Music is a channel for inspiration. 
I don’t care whether you are the most tone-deaf person on the planet, songs are what drive my writing around sixty percent of the time. I know that I can speak for Ella as well when I say that making a playlist of songs that remind you of your story really helps with the process, especially during something like Nanowrimo. I swear by movie soundtracks and Hans Zimmer. And as for modern lyrical music, my current obsession for writing (and watching, if you haven’t yet), is the Reign soundtrack. 
  1. It’s ok to get excited, even if no one else is.
You will face people in your life who do not care about your novel. They don’t care that you have just found the perfect person to model as your main character, or that you discovered a song that described chapter three perfectly. They’ll want to know why you aren’t trying to get ahead in school, or why you don’t socialize more often. I’m blessed to have friends who are mostly fellow writers, and even a mother who understands my love for pen and paper to an extent. But when those who are too close-minded to understand why you would want to plug away at the keyboard all day show up, simply ignore them. And you can thank them when you do your first J.K. Rowling-esque interview (I’mjustsaying). So go. Scream to the world when you hit 50k (or 70k, or 100k, or the last page for that matter). 
  1. There are others like you.
And they live on blogs and and the Nano forums. So go. Find your fellow writers. Just be sure to weed out the vampire-crazed ones. They tend to be a bit less legit. 
I hope this has been slightly more than ridiculously not helpful. Bottom line: keep writing. Never stop. Even if you feel like you are blocked, keep going. That is all. 
Mary Catherine is the authoress responsible for (currently on hiatus), former writer for Bloom! magazine ( – no longer in print), the author of multiple novels such as, most recently, In a Bind (in editing) and Glory (currently in writing), and was recently recruited by her town’s newspaper as a columnist reviewing local theatre. She has been writing since the age of five. In addition to writing, she can be found singing locally and taking photos.
You can friend her on Nano’s website here:


I’ve always had confusion when it comes to people finding out that I actually enjoy writing. “What?” They always say. “You mean that you don’t just live for basketball and ballet?”

It surprises most people and often their immediate response is, “Well, why do you write?”

That is a good question.

Why do I write?

Why do you write?

I write because I love making up worlds for myself. I write because the art of creating something that someday might cause someone enjoyment while they read is special. I write to relieve stress, to vent out my anger, to express my joy, and to show an example of the inside workings of my mind. I want to open up the world’s eyes to what I see. If the authors that wrote the books that I enjoyed so much as a kid, and even now, realized what an impact they had on my personal enjoyment, I would think that they would find a personal pride in causing so much of my thinking and imagination.

If I was frustrated or mad or tired, I would pick up a book and get completely lost in their world that they created. It is not good to constantly want to escape real life but sometimes that’s all we need. We all need just a brief escape from the toils of real life to dive into something completely new and exciting. It can refresh us.

That’s my goal.

I have always wanted to bring as much joy as those authors did in my life with what I write. If someone out there reads my stories, sees my pictures, and that causes them to brighten their day, then I have accomplished what I set out to do.


Now, the second question that pops up is, how do you write?

They might ask you what your favorite genre is. But they are really asking how do you write?

I write with my emotions, and with inspiration. I write from my experiences, from my friends’ experiences and I write with the sole intention of sharing my work with others. Sometimes, it is good to write for yourself. Sometimes, that’s the only reason why you write. That’s not bad at all. But that’s not why I write.

They ask about your favorite genre but your genre reflects what you value in life. They are asking the question to what makes you tick. If your genre is medieval, perhaps you have a fantasy about princesses being saved by knights in shining armor. They want to know if you are the kind of person who values gentlemen in this world. They want to know if you value a strong leader like a princess who is willing to sacrifice herself for her people. When they ask you about writing, they may not realize it, but they are asking about you.

Writing is a reflection of you. There are some writers who believe that they write completely untainted by their works. It doesn’t work that way. Whatever you write is a reflection of some part of yourself. Non-writers most likely could not understand this. They do not realize that when a writer pours themselves into their work, they pour a little of their soul, their fire, their love into that writing. A writer isn’t separated from his work as if he is uncaring. If they don’t care about their writing, then they most likely aren’t writing something terribly good. It will seem forced and stiff without the fire of the writer.

My question to you is this. Why do you write? And how do you write?


Xoxo, Ella 🙂