Posts Tagged ‘novels’




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?






 So here’s the thing. You know the age old advice that if you are stuck in a rut, the answer isn’t just to wait it out. It is to keep plodding on and getting through it. But what if you need help? What if you can’t figure out the plot twist all on your own? What if inspiration just needs a quick kick in the butt? 
Is it cheating to use other people’s ideas and prompts and such? 
It’s plagarism if you steal someone else’s idea and words and plot twists and take their work. Remember if you have help, make sure the person is okay with it and talk to them about it. One of my favorite things to do is to have a writing date where I meet with my good friends and they help me with my ideas and I brainstorm with them about theirs. It’s fun and rewarding and you get to write it how you want. 

Now we get to prompts. 
I love a good, twisted writing prompt and I love using Pinterest for it. They have tons and tons of writer help and I constantly use that for four main loves; clothing, makeup and hair, stuff about or for my boyfriend, and all of my writing. I have too many boards, most are for writing. I have an inspirational writer board for quotes and advice about all kinds of writing or pictures I find inspiring. I have storyboards for the world and characters and all of that coming to life. I have a prompt board strictly with ideas that interest me and make me want to write them in a story. I am working on my book Fairytale and the fairytale prompts are just to die for. These are for common use. Not plagarism in any way. 

Now I love help with this kind of stuff but I also want it to be more original, more me. I change the wording and just take the basic ideas that inspire me and switch them to something like my style. It’s an info kick and I love taking them. But these prompts are only to be used because people put them out for general use. If there is a disclaimer and someone would prefer not to have other’s claim credit, then by all means, avoid using it and just make it an enjoyable read for you. 
Do you like using prompts like this or consulting your friends? Why or why not? Do you think it’s cheating? Tell me your opinions in the comments below!

P.s. Merry Christmas:-)

When did you get your start?:
I think the first thing I ever really wrote was in grade 5. It had to do with kids at a camp and a unicorn and that’s all I can remember, haha. That’s actually only a year or two after I started reading Harry Potter, so I guess you could say that’s what made me want to write!

How many books have you written?:
I’ve finished a total of 4 books. One when I was seventeen, which I shall never ever mention ever again because it was bad. It was so, so bad. A couple years later I wrote another one and last year I sent it out to a butt-load of agents, but alas. No one was interested. I actually wrote the sequel to that one, too. My most recent is the one I’m most proud of, at the moment. It’s the longest one I’ve written and I’m going to attempt publishing with that one as well.

What kind of experience have you had in writing?:
I guess…not a whole lot? I didn’t really do much online with it until a couple years ago, so I’m still pretty new to a lot of the stuff happening with writing on the internet. Back in 2011, I took a Creative Writing course offered at the college in my city. It was taught by a published author and gave me huge insight into the publishing world, which I will be forever grateful for.

Do you participate in any challenges?:
Depends on the challenge, haha. I’ve never done NaNoWriMo, and I don’t think I ever will, simply because I know that it’s just something I wouldn’t be able to complete. I did just take part in #PitchWars, which is run by Brenda Drake! And back in January she also ran #PitMad on Twitter. Both of those are good ways to start getting your work out there.

What kinds of writing do you do? What kind of themes do you use?:
Most—if not all—of the writing I do, would be considered YA Urban/Contemporary Fantasy. As for themes, I don’t really….write specifically to have a theme? If that makes any sense, haha. Basically, I just sit down and write and if a theme appears, that’s awesome! Although I suppose, I do usually have one theme, and that’s simply the loyalty of friends. I love writing characters with bonds of friendship so strong they’d do anything for each other. Like the Golden Trio, or Scott and Stiles, or Allison and Lydia.

What is your method?:
Honestly, I just sit down and write. I’ll know how I want the story to end, and I’ll have certain big impact scenes thought out, but I’ve never been one to sit down and outline a story. I just write on the go and hope it all makes sense when I’m done, haha.

What’s the latest project you’ve been working on?:
Into That Darkness! It’s a YA Contemporary Fantasy set mostly in Rome. It has to do with dreams and nightmares and there’s a little sprinkle of Greco-Roman mythology in there, as well. The main character, Atlanta, is biracial and another one of the leads is a POC as well. There’s also a disabled character and a queer character who get some major page time. It’s definitely the proudest I’ve been of my writing so far.

Do you have any undercurrent themes (thematic elements) to your story? If so, explain:
Wow, this is like an English essay type question, haha. In all honesty, I have no idea. Like I said earlier, I don’t sit down to write a story knowing that there are themes I want to get across. It’s never something that really occurs to me. I know that, with the plans I have for the sequels to Into That Darkness, I want to get across that girls can do whatever they want, kiss whomever they want, and it doesn’t make them a slut or a whore or bleh, any of those words. Also, just friendship friendship friendship.

What view do you position your characters in? Ex. First Person, narrative, etc.:
Third person! My first ever book was first person POV, but I’ve realized I’m not a fan of that writing style. So third person POV it is! And actually, I take it one step further and write in 3rd Person Present POV. So things like, “She says” “He moves away” “It catches on fire”. You’d think it would be a bit more challenging, trying to keep the tense right, but it’s pretty easy.

What does your character’s voice sound like in your head?:
You know, I’ve never really thought about it? I know exactly what all my characters look like, but I’ve never really thought about what they would sound like.

What accents do they have? Do they have any speech quirks or characteristics?:
Atlanta has an American one. Others will have different ones, because of where they grew up.

Can you describe their body structure/how they move?:
Atlanta is a tall girl—5’9”—and has a runner’s build, because, well, she’s a runner! So she’s long and lean, a little lanky. I picture her moving like she has a purpose, you know? Again, she’s a runner, so she walks faster and with longer strides, shoulders back.

Do any of them have siblings?:
Atlanta has a sister, although that sister is only mentioned briefly. And the character of Quin has a sister, as well, but she has yet to be mentioned.

How does your character show affection?:
She jokes around with you, makes physical contact (hugs, hand holding etc). She’ll tell you sometimes, too. Things like, “I love you”.

How well do they take criticism? How do they react to others noticing their flaws?:
Atlanta’s pretty mature at receiving criticism. She understands that it’s usually because people are trying to help. As for the second part of that question, she get’s a little defensive when it’s first brought up, and may even tell the person “no, you’re wrong,”, but when’s she’s alone afterwards, she’d probably think about it and try to see where the person was coming from. And she’d probably admit they were right.

Last of all, how much do you work on your books on a weekly basis?:
Depends, really. If I’m feeling really gung-ho about it, I usually write every day, even if it’s just a paragraph or two. But there are other times when I may only write two or three times in a month. And that’s usually because I’ve written myself into a bit of a corner and I can’t figure out how to get out. That’s when I turn to friends to bounce ideas off of.

Do you have any advice for any aspiring writers?:
I mean, technically, I’m still one of those aspiring writers, but I’ll tell you what I’ve been told. Read, read, read! You’ll only grow if you read! And of course, keep writing! Each time you write, you get better, you learn, and it only continues. You’re first attempts will be bad, there’s no way around it. But your second attempts will be better. And your third better yet. And your fourth, and…well, you get the point.
If writing is something you really want to do, just keep doing it. Be brave and start getting your work out there. Enter contests. Post it on writing websites like WattPad and Figment. Accept criticism. Take the criticism you receive and apply it. If you get multiple people telling you something, it probably means you should take a look. I know it’s scary, because that story—that book—is your baby. But that baby has to grow.
Just keep trying, is all I’m saying. Keep reading. Keep writing.

About this wannabe author:
Aged 23, Frannie is a classic case of a Harry Potter-generation child. Always trying to find the magic in everything. She’s got a severe case of sarcastic-little-shit-itis and will agree with you if you call her loud and obnoxious. Because she is. Something about that red hair, maybe?
Frannie, when not serving coffee to rude customers, can be found reading, writing and procrastinating on Tumblr. She’s a fangirl of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, worships at the feet of Pacific Rim, and somehow manages to drag her sorry butt to the gym twice a week.
You can find Frannie on Tumblr or Twitter. If, you know, you wanted to see what the hell she’s up to these days. The great, white north isn’t that terrifying. Just watch out for those geese.


When did you get your start?:

When I was a wee lass, my father’s uncle’s daughter asked me write a story about her cat. Since I kind of like this obscure relative I obliged, and thus a writing monster was born!

The first two stories I wrote for myself (I started them at the exact same time) were these terrible monstrosities that I posted on my Facebook. One was about a group of kids who could turn into wolves (very heavily inspired by Maximum Ride… shudder…) and the other was about this pair of kids who washed up on this island overrun by mythological creatures. I hated these stories a lot, I hated the characters even more. I think at this point my writing was only fueled by competition and the belief that I liked writing… even though actually I didn’t like writing.

I got my start with character creation while administrating a roleplaying group. I had to kill off somebody’s character (the somebody was breaking the rules or something) and resurrect someone else’s character (who knows why), so I made up this character with one purpose in life: kill one roleplayer, resurrect the other. My character Jake Thomson was born, and after I realized I actually loved making him up, I went on to create some 200+ more.

How many books have you written?:

Two. One I wrote for school when I was like eleven– I never speak of it because I hate it. One I wrote over several NaNoWriMo months– it is called Dreamcaught, is like a bajillion words long, and I never speak of it because I hate it.

What kind of experience have you had in writing?:

A frustrating one, filled with characters that won’t obey me and plot holes you can drive a shoal of giant squid through. There’s definitely a love-hate (but mostly love) relationship between myself and my writing utensils.

Do you participate in any challenges?:

NANOWRIMO, WHOO. That’s pretty much it, except occasionally I enter Figment contests to see how wacky I can get with two hundred words and a lot of rules. I love challenges, because I’m very competitive. Competition makes me write more than anything else. Also, I love finding loopholes in rules.

What kinds of writing do you do?:

Well, I used to only write novels. I would still very much like to finish a whole novel, but I have discovered that my true calling is script writing. My number one project right now is my murder comic, which is in typical graphic novel style, plotted like a novel but in comic form. My procrastination project, my pirate comic, is written in typical webcomic style, which just means that it isn’t plotted much at all and instead just sort of… happens. Next November I’m going to be writing a series of scripts in graphic novel form.

I write about pretty much everything under the sun. High fantasy, urban fantasy, sci-fi, modern young adult lit, superhero stories, murder mysteries, zombie stories, vampire stories… um, folk tales. I also mix genres kind of a lot.

What kind of themes do you use?:

Depressing ones. Murder comic, which is definitely the most thematic thing I’ve ever written, has many, many different themes all rolled together: at its core, it’s about the damage done to your soul if you disobey God. It’s also very theatrical– one of the characters is acting in the play Macbeth, and from it resonates the theme that power, even the seemingly small powers of being friends with a person or being trusted to be home alone, can corrupt you if used wrongly. From one character’s obsession with the musical Les Miserables comes the theme of redemption, which wars with the fact that blood (and blood guilt) cannot be washed from Lady Macbeth’s hands. Plato’s “is a thing good because the gods love it, or do they love it because it is good?” pops up a good bit.

I try to use themes that not only fits the plot, but also fits the characters. All these themes apply to each character in a separate and incredibly important way. Like… like, my depressed and secretive character Lucky Østergaard with the blood of Macbeth kills me every time. And Lucky’s very violent foil, Eliot, with the blood? Totally different effect, still totally exciting. I could write essays about how thrilled I am by themes.

In your first interview, Monica Bond quoted Mark Twain’s opening to Huckleberry Finn: “NOTICE. Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.” She brought it up to illustrate her own no-nonsense thematic story-writing. I am the opposite. I love nonsense. I hope everything I write is over-analyzed by English teachers in the future.

What is your writing method?:

1.) Have a really stupid and crazy idea. (i.e. thousands of years after the zombie apocalypse, myths written during the first years after the outbreak suddenly becomes important to the budding romance of a pair of people who have never met in person.)

2.) Plot like two thirds the book. (Only the interesting stuff, of course. None of the boring in-between stuff.)

3.) Write the book. Probably during NaNoWriMo. (Make up the boring bits as you go along or, even better yet, ignore them completely and just write yourself notes where they belong.)

4. Go back during Camp NaNoWriMo in April and try to write all the boring bits. (Spoiler: always ends in failure.)

5. Consider book finished.

6. Print book out and put it in fancy binder.

7. Never look at book again.

What’s the latest project you’ve been working on?:

Uh… a comic about a team of idiots who form an illegal smuggling company. They live in a world where the President of the United States is more like a Roman Emperor than a democratic leader. I usually call it my “super ridiculous post-apocalyptic pirate comic”. It started as a joke. It’s currently sixty-seven pages long.

Do you have any undercurrent themes (thematic elements) to your story? If so, explain:

In pirate comic? The single most unplanned thing I have ever written in my entire life? Uh… seagulls and engineers do not get along. And you also shouldn’t get an innocent and extremely feisty Scottish redhead sent to prison if you want to have peace after he gets out. I suppose it is mostly about the fact that literally everybody in the entire world is a person separate from every other person… that sounds appropriately professional, I guess.

What view do you position your characters in? Ex. First Person, narrative, etc.:

I’ve written almost everything. For a long time I wrote first person. Both of my novels are third person, with Dreamcaught being third-person omnipresent. (Seriously, Dreamcaught can’t stay focused on the same character for one page.) I’ve written stories in haiku. I’ve written stories with multiple point-of-view characters. I’ve got one that’s a series of myths, lectures about the myths, emails, and news stories, all stitched together. (I get bored really easily and like to have a lot of variety.)

What does your character’s voice sound like in your head?:

They all sound like crazy people. Voices vary a lot. My favorite voices belong to a vampire huntress with a lisp and an inflated opinion of herself and her brother who has a very even toned and logical way of speaking. Her voice is a little bit throaty, and she tends to talk quite loudly. His voice is deep, but he always sounds a little bit like he has a cold. I also have a really sweet teenager who happens to be vegan and usually talks about weird recipes and rescuing spiders and flies and his telepathic baby brother. He has a typical eighteen-year-old guy’s voice– it cracks periodically and is not very articulate– but I always enjoy listening to it.

Is this a creepy paragraph? Why yes, yes it it.

What accents do they have? Do they have any speech quirks or characteristics?:

Ha, depends on which character, of course! I’ve always been the type of person who liked giving my characters “exotic” speech quirks… my gateway drug character, Mr. Jake Thomson, had a strong English (Mancunian, to be precise) accent, and I am convinced that his accent alone saved him from the trash heap of my brain.

Since I’m talking mostly about my pirate and murder comics today (as always), I will point out that most of my stories have at least one character with a distinctive accent: in Pirate Comic, it’s Ginger with his thick Scottish accent, in Murder Comic it’s Lucky with his slight Carolina accent and his mother with her… not so slight one. Usually all the other characters have various nondescript American accents, although I keep a careful book on what kind of nondescript accents they have.

Also, when you’re writing a script of any sort, it’s always important to give all the characters distinctive speech styles– Pirate comic’s Richard Parker is unfailingly polite, Ekat likes to draw out her sentences in dramatic ways, Matt says “uh” kind of a lot.

Besides typical speech patterns which sometimes take a bit of time to pick out, there are also slightly more noticeable speech irregularities that immediately identify the character. Murder comic has the borderline gimmicky quirk of Rawlings’ stutter (which is secretly a plot point, which is why I don’t just go ahead and call it a full-blown gimmick), as well as the far less noticeable quirk of Orwell’s lack of the ability to use contractions. everybody who’s read my murder comic (namely my siblings) have immediately noticed Rawls’ stutttering, but nobody has noticed Orwell yet.

Can you describe their body structure/how they move?:

I have so many characters it would take a lifetime to explain everybody. Similarly to voice, body structure and movement is very important when designing a cast for a comic– I always want everybody to be district.

Pirate Comic’s Richard Parker is very large-boned. He’s very tall, has big hands and feet and tends to be a little on the chubby side, but despite his frame he always moves quietly and indiscreetly, usually in the background. Matt is tall and fairly muscular, his cousin Stanley is average height but gaunt, and yet both of them move in much the same way, with large and violent hand gestures, lots of bravado, and a lack of respect for other people’s private space. Richard Parker would never move with as much force as the cousins, but they’d never be able to be as unassuming as he is.

Murder comic has Lucky, who’s skinny to the point of severe unhealth, but due to his powerful bone structure he doesn’t look as thin as willowy-boned Rawlings. Lucky doesn’t react outwardly to much, but his friend Colette is a total drama queen– his rigid body and her curvaceous one accentuate it.

The reason body structure and language is so important in graphic novels and comics in particular is because most of your character development comes from watching how the characters act, even when they aren’t speaking.

Do any of them have siblings?:

Practically all my characters have siblings. I just really love sibling relationships. In pirate comic, for example, before I’d even come up with actual personalities for any of the characters I was already naming their siblings.

Stanley Yorick is the sole only child in the cast– Ekat had a sister named Natasha, Khan has a brother named Peter. Ginger, who is really named Miles Ambrosias, has two elder siblings named Nelson Aristotelis and Tabitha Octaviana, respectfully called Nelly and Topsy. Richard Parker has two sisters and a brother, all named boring stuff like Mary and David (I can’t remember what their names actually are. Sue me.). Matt has five elder sisters named Constance, Annalise, Tanya, Rebecca, and Megan.

And this is just one cast. Think of all the siblings I have in my other casts! (GASP. THE HORRORS.)

My most challenging/favorite set of siblings is obviously Murder Comic’s Eliot, Rawlings, and Orwell Barns-Myeong. Trust me when I say that playing with family dynamics for a set of three siblings is waaay harder than playing with two siblings.

How does your character show affection?:

Depends very, very strongly on the character. I can’t think of any two of my characters who show their affections the same way… just as they’re all their own separate people, they all react to things differently. Similarly, they all show their affections towards different people in different ways… so, affection takes a long time and a lot of work to write.

For my rambly example, let me talk about Lucky Ostergaard and Colette Baker from Murder Comic. Lucky and Colette are best friends and to the outside observer they’re complete opposites. Lucky is rude, sarcastic, cripplingly introverted, tends to spend his time bundling up in hipster clothing and hiding behind newspapers. Colette is friendly, optimistic, a loud and boisterous extrovert, and likes to follow people around chattering about clothing or set design or how much she loves acting. Writing the very loving, very platonic relationship between these two is a challenge, but it’s a fun challenge.

Lucky tends to show affection very quietly. He’ll pay for her coffee, give her a new set of pencils, texts her at random times telling her that her hair looked nice at school. Colette is very noisy. She screams that she loves him in the middle of the coffee shop. She buys him a set of used books and wraps them all up and then gives them to him at lunch in the cafeteria. She tries to hug him every time she sees him. At the same time, they are veeeerrryy platonic, which means most of the time they’re not showing affection: they’re being rude and picking on each other.

How well do they take criticism? How do they react to others noticing their flaws?:

It depends on the character. (I say that a lot, have you noticed?) In pirate comic, Khan and Ekat don’t really care, Matt gets all high and mighty, Ginger gets frustrated, Richard Parker gets extremely mortified and apologizes profusely and kind of panics, and Stan laughs it off and then later goes and hides in a closet to cry.

I think one of the ways to test how well developed a character is, and certainly the manner I use the most, is to run them through any and all scenarios you can think of– even highly impractical ones– and see if they react in a way that seems natural to them. How they take criticism is one of my favorite scenarios.

Last of all, how much do you work on your books on a weekly basis?:

I would say I work on planning/writing them for perhaps three hours a week, although I think about my books constantly. It’s actually really hard to say because most of my work isn’t writing, it’s drawing. I spend hours and hours and hours drawing my stories and characters every week. Today, so far, I’ve spent half an hour writing character information down but close to two hours drawing (and I haven’t even gone to Starbucks yet, and that’ll be another three or four hours of doodling.)

Do you have any advice for any aspiring writers?:

Writing is hard and stupid and it isn’t always fun, but if you decide to do it anyways you are awesome. Also, don’t spend too much time on Pinterest.

About the interviewee:

Chloe Cunningham was born back in 1792 and promptly began life as a crazy person. Obnoxious, overly enthusiastic about everything, and probably the happiest person on planet Earth, Chloe spends most of her time drawing comics and spouting random facts about her 200+ characters. Things to note: she is friends with a Pomeranian named Beowulf the Hero who can teleport, and is suffering from addiction to chocolate milk. She thinks she’s funny, even though she really isn’t.

Chloe has lived in six different states and nine different houses. She has been a hostess in an Asian restaurant, a docent at a French Colonial historical site, a bed-and-breakfast maid, and was once President of her 4-h group, despite the fact she never ran for president. All this has contributed to her terribly wacky creative nature.

You can read her practice comic about smugglers at it’s website: Rocking Boats and Making Waves. You can also be her friend. You know, if you want.




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