Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Yet Another Writing Tag That I Stole

Cait from "Paper Fury" gave permission for other bloggers to steal these questions, seeing as they were originally stolen from @rebeccarmix. We bloggers are nothing if not thieves. 

Me as a sneaky, sneaky thief.
What are your favorite kinds of scenes to write? Why?

-Witty dialogue:

I love writing dialogue, so much so, I really should be writing way more screenplays than I do. This can be my downfall, though, because come editing time, I have to deal with three straight pages of dialogue where my characters are floating around in space. I probably knew where they were and what they were doing when I wrote the scene, but heck if I know that now.

-Characters sitting around, doing absolutely nothing except being themselves:

Another fun, but potentially problematic scene. I jump at any chance I get for characters to just sit around and let their personalities shine through as they talk about some TV show or bicker with each other. This usually means I end up cutting 10% of the book later because these scenes do nothing to move the plot forward.

-Super dramatic, "all is lost" situations:

Now these are fun and helpful, especially in my high-stakes fantasy novels. I love a little drama now and then, and the darker it is, the better. These are the scenes I can imagine as movie moments.

-Melodramatic prose:

Again, 90% of this stuff gets edited out later, but it's still fun to write, because when I get going, I really get going. I find this great flow that allows me to write a ton of words, which is what I need, during a first draft.

We’re all our own worst critics—so, what about your writing are you genuinely proud of? Don’t hold back.


Again, it's something I love to write, and it's something I think I'm actually good at. This is probably the one and only aspect of my writing I've never had to work at getting better, because it came so naturally. Everything else is still kind of a mess, but I love my dialogue. My characters always have distinct voices and talk like real people would. I think part of why it's good is not only because I read a lot, but also because I watch a lot of TV.

-Writing characters I'd want to hang out with in real life:

I have to like my characters to feel invested in them, and that usually means I end up writing characters I wish I could be friends with. These are my favorite people to read about in other books, so I'm hoping that's a good sign about mine.

-The tight bond of friendship between characters:

I love gangs of friends who stick together to either save the world, put on a school play, carry out some heist, or any other grand plan. It's a fun dynamic to play with, because those kinds of friends would do anything for each other, but they also tease the others incessantly. My characters always have close friends who make regular appearances throughout the book and have great chemistry with each other.

What do you love about writing? What excites you? What makes all of this nightmare struggle worth it?

-Getting ideas for new projects:

The "ooh, shiny!" moment is arguably the most exciting stage of any project. It's brand new, so you aren't sick of it yet, and it's full of possibilities, so you aren't stuck yet. Getting bored with the project or not knowing what to do with it will come later, but the initial idea is always tons of fun to play with.

-Finishing a project:

There's nothing more satisfying than typing the final words of a first draft. It's a weird, bittersweet feeling, but after weeks of pushing through the tricky middle sections, it's so rewarding to finally get it done.

-Creating Pinterest boards/playlists:

This usually goes along with the brand new idea for a novel. One way I like to flesh out the tone of the story is to create a soundtrack for it and start messing around on Pinterest. It may not help with plotting much, but it keeps me excited.

-Getting feedback from critique partners that I made them laugh/squee/cry:

I love fangirling about other people's projects, so having someone fangirl over mine is beyond cool. I may not have a YA novel out in the world yet, but the few people who have read my writing and gushed about me make me feel like a real author.

What’s something you’re not as strong in that you’d like to improve?

-Fight scenes:

Dear God, how does any writer survive writing a fight scene??? If you actually enjoy them, please, tell me your ways. Describing any kind of scuffle for more than a paragraph has me wanting to rip my own limbs off, and yet, I have to do it because that's what happens in a high-stakes fantasy novel. They're just so boring, even though they're supposed to be exciting.


I like the idea of worldbuilding, but actually creating new worlds is really, really hard. Who can keep track of those many rules?? Not me, that's for sure. I'm already confused enough about the details of certain things in my contemporary novels. But I love magic and mythical creatures and paranormal stuff, so worldbuilding is a must.

-Plots where things actually HAPPEN:

This is usually my downfall in contemporary novels. I'm too eager to let my characters just talk to each other and not really do anything, even though I'm supposed to be raising the stakes and escalating the tension. Fantasy is a little easier for me to make "exciting," in some ways, because I can have a lot more magic and bloodshed.

-Grounding my characters in a clear setting:

This kind of goes along with worldbuilding. Since I love dialogue so much, I tend to neglect physical descriptions of things, including the setting. It'll maybe get a sentence or two, but that's about it. Oops.

We talk a lot about “big” writing dreams (movies! shows! bestseller list!) but do you have a smaller, quieter dream for you and your work? What is it?

-Someone creating fan-fiction or fanart from one of my novels:

Again, someone fangirling over my work is the best.

-Authors I love reading my books and/or talking about them:

I would flip if Becky Albertalli or Rainbow Rowell or Marissa Meyer tweeted about my book or did a blurb for one (or J.K. Rowling, but that's a bit lofty of a dream).

-Seeing my book on display at a bookstore/library:

Enough said.

-Being a part of book conferences/event and meeting some of my favorite authors:

I love going to author panels, signings, classes, etc., so getting to be a part of one with other writers I respect? That would be amazing. Even if a little public speaking was involved, I could get past that to sit at a table with my favorite authors.

Are there things that pop up in your writing over and over again whether you like it or not? What are they?

-References to whatever current TV show or musical I'm obsessed with at that moment:

I can always tell around what time I wrote a certain scene because the characters will bingewatch "Sherlock" and I can go, "Ah, yes, that was a 2014 novel." It's kind of fun to find these when I go back to older projects. It's like a mini time capsule.

-Characters who are such close friends, all of my critique partners assume they're actually harboring secret crushes for the other, when in fact, they are not:

This happens more often than you'd think. I can repeat the "they're just friends" mantra until I'm blue in the face, but my entire critique group will stare back at me with amused smiles and say, "no they're not," despite the fact that I'm the author of the story.

-Certain names I use and reuse throughout different books without realizing it:

I have multiple characters named Izzy, Charlie, and Liam, off the top of my head, most from abandoned projects. I'm not sure how it happens, but it does.

What are some tropes that you unapologetically adore writing? What are ones you never write because you can’t stand them?

Tropes I love:

-Slow burn romances
-Apparently just romances of all kinds
-The Strong Female Character TM (so long as she has flaws and isn't emotionless)
-Dysfunctional families
-The protagonist sacrificing themselves at the climax of the book
-Villains with whom you can empathize

Tropes I hate:

-Love triangles (I write "fake" love triangles instead: two characters like each other, but one is convinced that someone else is actually the recipient of the crush)
-Tough guys with no feelings
-Love at first sight
-"I let out a breath I didn't realize I was holding."
-The heroine doesn't realize her own beauty

If you could hop in a time machine and give baby-writer you one piece of advice, what would it be?

Honestly, I feel like I'm still waiting for grown-up-writer-me to come give baby-writer-me advice. But I guess the advice I probably needed to hear a little earlier was that projects aren't birthed magically perfect. They take a ton of time and lots of editing. I didn't realize how much of writing was rewriting until the past few years.

What’s the last book/last books you read that made you go "HOLY SHIT that’s some good writing!!"?

-Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
-The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
-A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews
-Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
-Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

Do you have a book out? A book you’re working on? Tell me about it!

In typical Kate fashion, I am working on entirely too many projects at once, so I'll give you little snapshots into each of them.

Currently plotting:

-A fairytale comedy based on a Pinterest prompt I saw a while ago. A woman promises two witches separately her firstborn, so the witches share joint custody and go from loathing each other and the different parenting styles to eventually falling in love. One witch is your typical Glinda "good witch" while the other is a "wicked witch" (both with a twist, obviously).

-This one is also based on a prompt I saw (maybe on Twitter?). "Mamma Mia," except a young daughter learns her mom sold her soul to one of three demon lords and needs to find out which one she has to kill to get it back. I'm still trying to decide if I want to make this a full on lighthearted comedy, or something darker and more sarcastic.

-Captain Darling. My NaNoWriMo novel about Mrs. Darling following her children into Neverland and descending into villainy as she becomes the terrible Captain Hook.

Currently writing:

-Captain Zahira and Her Wayward Crew. I say I'm writing this, but really, it's been sitting unfinished in my documents for months. I'll go back to it eventually, but I've got too many projects to edit at the moment to continue with this one. This was, yet again, based on a prompt I saw. A pirate captain is cursed to die within the year unless she gives her heart freely to another, but instead of searching for romance, she decides to spend her last year gallivanting with her ragtag crew, who all try to secretly set her up with different people along the way.

Currently rewriting:

-'Til the Last Star Dies (probably to be renamed Angel of the Underworld). An immortal witch falls in love with a mortal witch hunter. It has everything: revenge, a magical emerald that has the power to unleash an undead army, friends turned evil, witches and demons, morally gray characters, and more.

-Ms. Holmes. A completely genderbent, steampunk Sherlock Holmes story with time travel. I wrote it when I was fourteen, so it's a mess, hence why I've been procrastinating the rewrite. But I still think it has a solid basic structure of what it needs to be, so I just need to figure out how to fix the plot.

-All the World's Afraid (which is a terrible title that doesn't apply to the story anymore because I reworked the plot). I finished the first draft last week and now I'm going at it with a red pen. The two teen girls playing Cosette and Eponine in their school musical fall in love over the course of the production, but both are convinced that the other could never like them back for various reasons. Lots of misunderstandings occur throughout the book, as well as a touch of paranormal happenings since the actress playing Cosette is convinced the actress playing Eponine accidentally cursed their theater by saying "Macbeth" during a rehearsal. It is yet to be determined whether that is true or not.

Currently querying:

-Beneath the Moon and Stars. My YA contemporary romance between an aspiring musician living in a poor, abusive household and an aspiring painter living in a rich household with his severely dysfunctional family. It's a simple story, but it still has my heart, even though I'm pretty sure I have to give up querying it for now since I'm at thirty rejections now. Maybe it'll find a home sometime in the future.

Tag, you're it! Continue the trail of stolen tags by answering the questions on your own blog or in the comments. What are some of your favorite tropes? What keeps showing up in your writing, whether you like it or not?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Furry Friend Tag (Because You Need More Pictures of Scout in Your Life)

I was tagged ages ago to do this by Engie at "Musings From Neville's Navel," but, me being me, I'm only getting around to doing it now. I have hundreds of cute pictures of Scout and nowhere to put them, so this is the perfect excuse to spam all of you with my dog's adorable face. You're welcome.


What is your pet’s name?

Scout! She was given the name Kara originally, but she is not a Kara in the slightest. My mom came up with her name and decided to name her after Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird, because we're nerds like that. It totally fits her, too, because she's feisty and stubborn.

Scout does NOT like snow.
What kind of pet is it and what breed?

Gee, think someone needed a haircut?
She's a shih-chon, which is half shih tzu and half bichon. Shih tzus were originally bred as royal foot warmers to the emperor and bichons were bred to be sailor's companions, so Scout is all about being right next to her people, no matter what we're doing. She follows us around everywhere.

She also will lay on any of our possessions, making it impossible to get work done. Here she is on top of at least three notebooks.
And cuddling with one of my old stuffed animals.
How long have you had your pet?

My nine-year-old self with my new puppy.

It'll be nine years, in just a few weeks, which is crazy to think about. I don't really remember a time when we didn't have Scout. I mean, I do have memories before then, but they don't seem quite right because Scout isn't in them.

How did you get your pet?

Heh. Funny story . . . I was the only one in my family who really, really wanted a dog, but of course, I was allergic. My mom and I both have terrible allergies when it comes to cats, so cats were always a no go, but dogs were a bit milder. When I was younger, my parents would trade off with my brother and me to have parent-kid dates, so when it was my turn to pick what we'd do, a lot of the time I picked going to this puppy store in town, because it was the only one that let patrons play with the puppies, even if they weren't considering buying a dog.

Best store policy ever.

Eventually, Scout was the puppy I picked to play with, and she was the sweetest thing. She was tinier than all the other puppies and just wanted to sit in our laps. We fell in love with her instantly, and when we left the store, she cried as she watched us go. Scout became the only topic of conversation for a while, because I couldn't stop thinking about her and fantasizing about taking her home with us. We decided to bring my dad and my brother back the next day to visit her, my mom secretly hoping that my dad would say he didn't see what we saw and there was no way we should buy a dog. But, because Scout is Scout, she won all of our hearts. Even my younger brother, who at the time was terrified of dogs, was smitten with her.

We decided to go home and think about it, and I had a mini meltdown that night because I was so scared someone else was going to buy her first. My parents called the store the next day to let them know we were coming to get her, and it was just in time, too. As we were walking in the store, there was another family by her crate, as if they were considering taking her home.

Curled up in my lap.
For the first several weeks we had her, all she wanted to do was curl up in our laps, no matter what we were doing. When somebody left the room and came back, her tail would wag like crazy and she'd run over to them on her teeny tiny legs. I'm pretty sure she was nervous we were going to leave her again, since the first time we left at the store she whimpered pathetically. But some of my earliest memories with her is having her curled into a little ball in my lap while I wrote at the computer for my first year of NaNoWriMo.

So yeah, we didn't plan to get a dog. It just kind of happened. We joke that Scout is like a wizard's wand: we didn't choose her, she chose us.

For some reason she can't stand our Christmas stockings. We have to hide them from her every year, or else she'll eat them.
How old is your pet?

Eating her birthday "cake."
She just turned nine! We celebrate each of her birthdays like we would with one of ours. She gets presents, a cake, a nice long walk, the whole nine yards.

Out for a bike ride!
What is your favorite memory with your pet?

Attempting to lick my face.
How can I choose? I don't think I have very specific moments in time where I remember doing something with Scout. She's always just been a constant in my life. One of the things I love about her is she can instantly sense when something is wrong. If I'm upset or stressed, she's the first one there to investigate why I'm sad. She also loves to lick our tears, which always makes me laugh, so she always makes me feel better.

She was fascinated by my homecoming makeup.
And, as much as she doesn't cooperate, it's tons of fun trying to get cute selfies with her. I have so many selfies of us.

What are some quirky things about your pet’s personality?

Still not sure why I found her sitting like this . . .
Oh, where to begin . . .

Scout is nothing if not quirky. And manipulative. And insanely clever.

One of the weirdest things she's done is somehow turned into one of Pavlov's dogs. We have no idea how this habit started, but anytime someone in my family turns the TV on, Scout leaps up from wherever she's lying and marches in front of us to demand a treat. She could be dead asleep two rooms over, but she'll still hear the click of the TV being turned on, and she'll race over to beg for a treat, usually by climbing on top of the coffee table. She won't stop crying until we've given her one, then we can watch our show in peace.

On top of the coffee table.
She also loves to lay in laundry. This often prevents us from ever folding our laundry.

In the laundry . . .
Bundled up in a blanket . . .
And curled up on top of our Santa hats.
And when she's not lying in the laundry, she's lying on top of any surface she can climb onto. Chairs, tables, the tops of couches, beds, etc. She's like a cat or a bird. She perches on top of high surfaces.

Picnic table
Coffee table
Basket of blankets
The piano (???)
A chair outside.
What does your relationship with your pet mean to you?

I am so insanely protective of Scout, it's not even funny. I am completely attached to her. I don't tend to have many nightmares, but whenever I do, it's almost always about something happening to her. She makes me so happy every day. Whenever I get up in the morning, she's there to greet me with a wagging tail, and she's the last one I say goodnight to before bed. I don't know what I'd do without her.

Getting a tummy rub.
What are some of your favorite pastimes with your pet?

Cuddling while my brother and I read a Guinness World Records book.
She is the perfect cuddle buddy whenever we're reading or watching TV. She can usually be persuaded to lie right next to us if we have a blanket for her to curl up on. But she also has a couple times during the day where she has a ton of energy and wants me to chase her while she plays with a toy. And, for some reason none of us can figure out, she loves to lick my hands all over. Not anyone else's hands, just mine. She seriously treats them like her own personal ice cream cones. It's very bizarre.

She loves her toys.
What nicknames have you given your pet?

I don't think we have that many nicknames for her, but you can usually catch one of us saying these things to her throughout the day:

-"You're so cute"
-"Why are you so weird"
-"Hey, crazy"
-"What are you doing"
-"Hey, come back here, where are you going, we still need to dry off your paws!"
-"Hi, my doggie"

So that's Scout. Tell me all about your furry friends! Leave a comment and/or steal this tag for yourself.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Captain Darling - NaNoWriMo Project of 2018

October is here! It's finally fall! And that means it's finally time for me to officially announce my 2018 NaNoWriMo project.

*cue air horns, bells, whistles, and any other obnoxious sound you can think of*

In years past, I've had glimmers of an idea, maybe a title, and a half-finished Pinterest board going into November. That's not to say that's how it was every year, but that's certainly how it's been the past few years. This time, I actually have a completed outline (albeit a rough one), a title, a cover, and a very aesthetically-pleasing Pinterest board. I'm feeling pretty good about this novel.

Blogging world, meet Captain Darling.

My hook (see what I did there?) isn't pretty at all and needs some serious polishing, but it does a decent job summing up what the book is about:

When Mrs. Darling goes to tuck her children in for the night, she’s shocked to find they’ve flown from their beds and into the night sky with a sinister boy named Peter Pan. Determined to rescue them from their kidnapper, Mrs. Darling ventures into Neverland, where she’s returned to her youth, and meets up with a ragtag pirate crew. The crew has lost their captain to Pan’s murderous ways, and after she proves her bravery to them, they agree to help Mrs. Darling in her mission. They’ll both profit from their partnership: she regains her children and the pirates get revenge on Pan.

But Pan has already poisoned the Darling children against their mother, insisting they stay with him and the Lost Boys, who cater to Pan’s every need lest he banish them from Neverland like he has with so many others. If Mrs. Darling is going to save her children, she has to fight for them. The longer the war between pirates and Lost Boys rages on, the deeper Mrs. Darling sinks into darkness and despair. And when Mrs. Darling loses her right hand in battle against Peter, she becomes as sharp as the hook she now wears.

Proud and insolent youth, prepare to meet thy doom . . .

This idea came about because of a couple different reasons. The first spark of inspiration came from me performing as Captain Hook in a production of "Peter Pan Jr.," and because I wasn't ready to let that role or story go, I decided to write a Peter Pan retelling from a female Captain Hook's POV.

But the second part of the novel came from me doing research about the origins of Peter Pan. I still can't confirm if this story is completely true or not because the story itself is a little hazy on the details, but I read a couple different articles that said when he was writing his play, J.M. Barrie's first instinct was to have Hook played by a woman. He originally cast the actress playing Mrs. Darling as Captain Hook, thinking it would be a nice touch for Peter Pan, "The Boy Who Hated Mothers" (which was an early title option for the play), to have a mother as his arch-enemy. However, the actor playing Mr. Darling was a bit of a diva and wanted more stage time, so he convinced Barrie to let him play Hook instead. The tradition to have Mr. Darling double as Hook has stuck ever since because of that.

Whether or not that legend is completely true, I still thought it was fascinating to have Mrs. Darling and Hook be connected in some way. And here we are!

Now for the reason you're all really here . . .

Pinterest aesthetics.


I love how it's the perfect touch of mystical and creepy, which is the balance I'm trying to strike with the book itself. I want it to retain the nostalgic sense of magic and wonder that's in Peter Pan, but with everything slightly twisted and not as it seems.

If you want to check out more, head over to my Pinterest board.

The characters

Most years, I've cast my characters using either famous actors or random pictures of people I found on Pinterest. This year, though, I've had trouble coming up with anyone to represent my characters, other than Mrs. Darling/Hook and Smee.

Karen Gillan would be the PERFECT choice for Mrs. Darling once she's in Neverland. She's feisty, intimidating, but still sweet and motherly, when she needs to be. Watching her portray a descent into darkness would be all kinds of fun.

You might think Mark Sheppard is an odd choice for Smee, but hear me out. It's easy to picture him as the put-together, suit-wearing king of Hell from "Supernatural," but I think he has enough comedic timing to become the loyal sidekick to his captain. He's equal parts hilarious and villainous.


Other than putting together my Pinterest board, making a soundtrack for my novel is my favorite part about the early planning stages of writing a book. Here are some of the songs I've put on my playlist so far.

"Lost Boy" - Ruth B.
"Enter Sandman" - SHEL
"Never Never Land" - Peter Pan (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
"Pirate Song" - Peter Pan (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
"Hook's Tango" - Peter Pan (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
"Tarantella" - Peter Pan (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
"Captain Hook's Waltz" - Peter Pan (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
"Monster" - Imagine Dragons
"Bleeding Out" - Imagine Dragons
"Glory and Gore" - Lorde
"The Ruler and the Killer" - Kid Cudi
"Welcome to the Jungle" - Guns N' Roses
"Stay With Me" - Into the Woods (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
"Witch's Lament" - Into the Woods (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
"Here Comes the Reign" - Les Friction
"Save Your Life" - Les Friction
"Come Back to Me" - Les Friction

"Monster" by Imagine Dragons is pretty much Captain Darling's theme song. It sets a good tone for the whole book.

"If I told you what I was
Would you turn your back on me?
And if I seem dangerous
Would you be scared?
I get the feeling just because
Everything I touch isn't dark enough
If this problem lies in me

I'm only a man with a candle to guide me
I'm taking a stand to escape what's inside me
A monster, a monster
I've turned into a monster
A monster, a monster
And it keeps getting stronger"

All in all . . .

What I'm most excited for with this book is the chance to write a novel from a morally gray character's point of view. I love it when I'm able to empathize with a villain in any story. It's the mark of an exceptionally good writer whenever that happens. It's easy to make a reader fall in love with a hero, but when they fall in love with someone a little flawed and twisted, it means you have a well-developed character on your hands. It's going to be interesting writing this unusual good vs. evil story, because it's not so clear who's good and who's bad.

If you're participating in NaNoWriMo, add me as a buddy! My username is sportakate.

What's your NaNoWriMo book about this year? What are you most excited for? Leave a comment!