November 2014 - further up and further in

Sunday, November 30, 2014

November 2014: Recap

Sunday, November 30, 2014 2
November 2014: Recap
In many ways, this November wasn't quite what I expected. I'm not even sure what exactly to say about it--it's been quite the whirlwind.

The biggest thing that happened to me was saying goodbye to someone very close to me--a kiddo from our daycare that we babysat since he was 6 weeks old. He moved out of state on the 26th. It's incredibly difficult, but I know he's going to be so happy where he's moving to. I'm grateful we were able to have him in our lives. That said, goodbyes are never easy.

The highlight of my November was our mini-vacation. Over Thursday and Friday, for Thanksgiving, we took a trip to my aunt and uncle's house two hours away to spend time with family. We spent the night at a hotel and on Thanksgiving Day, my mom and I took a walk to a lake. I had an awesome time, and it was so nice to get away. I came home extremely refreshed and inspired. Writers need breaks like this every now and then. (But today I'm resenting that I have to get back to real work after vacation. Humph.)

If I had to pick a theme for November, it would be: new roads. (I wrote about New Horizons once, actually, which also fits.) One of the biggest things that happened to me was starting a new blog, which you'll read about later. But I also started a just-for-fun novel and got to know my novel for NaNoWriMo, both of which hold so much potential. Overall, I have a lot of things to be excited about and look forward to. Even though it's been a year full of loss, I do believe in happy endings--no matter how long they take to get here.

my new road

On the Blog

The majority of my writing time this month was spent on NaNoWriMo, and it showed due to lack of blog post. I did manage to post on the blog 8 times, however. I wrote about the beginning of NaNo, and how to figure your character's physical appearance. Cait and I posted round 2 of Beautiful Books, which was a smashing success. I answered the Beautiful Books questions for my own novel, which was incredibly fun--you can read that here. I killed a man in fiction and wrote about it. I did A Novel Idea twice, first here and then here. Then I posted about The Fangirl Initiative & Great Gatsby.

Other Blog-Related Writing 

Speaking of The Fangirl Initiative, that was a major project for me this November. I started it as a stress-outlet and it quickly exploded into a full-fledged blog with weekly columnists, seven days a week. I'm in awe. You can view it here. All of our weekly columns start this week! Thanks to those of you who offered to help!

On The Fangirl Initiative, I wrote the introductory post, as well as posts about The Great Gatsby, Tony Stark, and the new Star Wars movie. We also had R. Wiersema and Mirriam Neal start their columns! There are more to come this week.

On the Grafted blog, I wrote a post about the simple beauty of grace. I also helped put together Issue 4, which premieres tomorrow, December 1st! In it I'll have a piece about how my year went, and there's tons of other great content I'm super excited about. Check it out tomorrow by going to


As you probably already know, I participated in NaNoWriMo this month. I finished NaNo today at 2:42 pm, with a total of 50,048 words. The story isn't done yet, but I'm slowly bringing the novel to a close. I slid into a total of 50k with a first kiss, bribery, threats, and overall cuteness. It's been a fun ride. 

Due to stress over my NaNo novel, I started a random just-for-fun project about a bunch of kids starting their first year of college. I haven't written much yet, but it's really fun and I'm looking forward to see where it takes me.

Obviously, I wrote a total of 50,048 words this November, give or take.

I'm still trying to collect my thoughts about my NaNo novel--expect another blog post or two about that. In the meantime, just know it was one of the hardest yet most rewarding NaNos I've ever done. (And weird, due to the fact that I ended up writing a full paragraph in my sleep.) I've made a ton of new characters and come up with another novel series. While I'm not as excited as past years, my excitement is still tangible and I'm very, very satisfied.


This music playlist is one of the most extensive ones I've ever done for my monthly playlists to date. Most of my playlists have had 4 or 5 songs. This has 23. And you'd better believe it kept me sane this November, amidst goodbyes and heartache and writing up a major storm. It's been amazing, November playlist. You'll forever live in infamy. I love you.

On Instagram

first collage: random snapshots from the first half of november.
second collage: second half of november & our thanksgiving trip.
view the captions here.


My sister and I finished Once Upon a Time season 1, and are 2 episodes away from finishing episode 2. My TV watching suffered because of NaNo as well, so I halfheartedly tried to catch up on Agents of Shield and not much else. (My brother and I did start watching Modern Family though, which is hilarious, and we continued watching The Middle.) Other than that, my TV intake has been lacking. It's been pretty pitiful. But that's what December and January are for, right?

Other Entertainment

Over our two-day Thanksgiving vacation, I read The Help. It was incredible. I didn't want it to stop. Once I closed the book, I had all the classic symptoms of book withdrawal. What do I do with my life?

We also watched the movie "Life as We Know It" the other day. Josh Duhamel is awesome.

In Conclusion

November wasn't easy, I'm sure of that. But I'm excited to see what December and January hold. 2015 will bring a fresh start, and like I said, there are tons of new roads waiting for me.

Bring it on, December. I'm (sort of, not really, kind of) ready for you.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Novel Idea: Kess & Cooper

Friday, November 21, 2014 1
A Novel Idea: Kess & Cooper
Today for A Novel Idea, I'm going to try my darndest to get my writing juices flowing again. I got ahead in NaNo and promptly ended up... not writing. I'm writing now, but inspiation is still low. This is obviously a problem, so here I go.

Despite the fact this doesn't actually have anything to have with my NaNo novel, maybe it will help to immerse myself in that world again.

cooper's eyebrow game: on point.

Today I'm focusing on Kess and Cooper. They're cousins. I've done a questionaire for Kess before, actually. You can read that here.

Kess has been around a lot longer than Cooper, and they weren't always related. Cooper was a character I wasn't planning on who cropped up in my NaNo novel (he was a Barry Allen CAMEO. Now he's a character. What?!?). For some reason, he had the same name as Kess, and my brain started thinking "what if..." so voila. Cousins were quite accidentally born. (And a novella about Cooper's siblings, but that's another story.) Cooper's arrival in my novel quickly spawned an entire series, including helping me with a more fleshed-out plot for the book Kess is in, Metal and Bone. Basically, Lost Girls, which was just a random project that I didn't think would go too far, has made itself into way more than just a standalone. I'm both thrilled and baffled by this.

I haven't been able to keep my mind off of the characters from these novels, like these two, even though I'm supposed to be focusing on other characters in my NaNo, Lost Girls. Nevertheless, they have been pestering me all week. I'm hoping A Novel Idea will help get them off my tail. Let's do it.

(A Novel Idea is a blog meme by Ashley @ Ashley Aspires. To participate, click here, or click the button at the end of this post.)

1. If they could choose to live in another decade, what would they choose and why?
Kess: The industrial revolution. She'd love to see all the gears and moving parts as they came into being.
Cooper: The 1700s. He'd want to run a printing press and aid the American Revolution efforts.

2. Do they want a job that helps people or a job that makes money? 
Kess: A job that makes money--she has her siblings to provide for. Ideally, she wants the jobs to be something she likes.
Cooper: A job that helps people and that he enjoys. He has enough money already. (He's doing forensics at a large lab corporation, which he both enjoys and believes helps people.)

3. If they were to come into a million dollars, what would be the first thing they would do? 
Kess: Buy a house for her siblings. 
Cooper: Give it away. He's stereotypically nice like that.

4. What do they do when they’re bored? 
Kess: Read magazines or tinker with her beater car.
Cooper: Read classic literature, mostly. Or go for a walk. 

5. And in honor of my birthday: What is their favorite kind of cake?
Kess: Cupcakes, hands down.
Cooper: chocolate, or cheesecake. Every time.

A Novel Idea

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Fangirl Initiative & The Great Gatsby

Monday, November 17, 2014 3
The Fangirl Initiative & The Great Gatsby
Fun fact time! You probably already know that I'm a huge fan of ... stuff. TV, mostly, but also movies and books and... you name it. I proudly claim the name of nerd and fangirl.

I've wanted a blog where I could talk about that for a long time. Not that this blog isn't great, I love it! But I also wanted to create a space where people could contribute and join the team, as it were.

I don't know what happened, honestly. It's not like I don't have enough to do in the blogging world. But I had a moment of crazy last night... and I made that blog.

It's called The Fangirl Initiative, and it's located here. Here's a snippet of the first post:

Nick Fury is such a cool dude, am I right?
So, you may be wondering what this random space in the blogosphere is. THIS... *waves wildly* is the product of my intense love for THINGS. Things like TV shows, movies, books, and everything else. Simply put, I'm a fan of storytelling, good characters, and hot actors. (Sorry, I had to admit it.)

I found an outlet for my fangirlishness on Tumblr for a while, but as great a place as it is, it can be chaotic. I'm also taking this an organized step further, with (semi-)coherent posts, reviews, and doses of fandom. I want to provide a place for fellow fangirls to connect and read about the things they love--and not feel ashamed for doing so. Hopefully, The Fangirl Initiative will do just that.

Here's the thing: I need your help. I'm accepting guest posts on your favorite TV show, book, movie, or comic of choice. (Or anything you can think of. If it's fiction or related to nerdiness, it counts.) You can also send me an email to apply to be on the team of regular writers. (I'm still trying to work on criteria for that, but hey, I'm open!)

If you want in, I'd love to have you. Seriously. I'm looking for guest posters, regular columnists, and staff members of all kinds. Things that would be fantastic are:

- Weekly reviews of each episode of a show as it airs
- Book reviews
- Posts with lists, like 5 Reasons Why I Love The Great Gatsby & character analysis posts

If you're interested, please send me an email at mountainfireflower[at]gmail[dot]com, or DM me at @skyofthetiger! (There's also a nifty contact form on the sidebar of The Fangirl Initiative blog.) Avengers Fangirls... assemble! Or something like that.

I ended up getting overeager, and I wrote my first post for TFI on one of my favorite books of all time, The Great Gatsby. Here's a snippet from that as well.

I have a confession: I'm not a huuuge fan of classic literature. (Please don't stone me.) However, last year I read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and it quickly catapulted to my list of favorite books. Why is that? Some days, I still don't even know. It has everything I thought I wouldn't like in a book: it's a classic, it has a bad ending, and it's a rather bleak book. But regardless, I still adore The Great Gatsby. It's probably my favorite book ever, actually. And here is my attempt to put my incoherent ramblings about Gatsby into words: five reasons why I loved it.

And for the record, DON'T WORRY. This blog, Further Up and Further In, will not be going anywhere, and I will still be talking about all the things I love, both here... and there.

That's hopefully enough self-promotion for me for one day. But here's a question: what's one TV show, movie, book, or anything else you've been enjoying lately?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Novel Idea: Playing Catchup

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 2
A Novel Idea: Playing Catchup
I've missed out on the past two weeks of the A Novel Idea linkup due to being knocked down by dry socket. However, now that that's mostly vanquished, I wanted to play catchup by answering all the questions from past rounds, including this week's. That'll be three rounds of A Novel Idea, and fourteen questions.

(Sorry, I can't resist a well-timed cat gif.)

What is A Novel Idea, you may ask? A Novel Idea is a link-up for writers hosted by Ashley @ Ashley Aspires. Every week she posts questions related to writing, your characters, and your novels. Check it out by going here to this week's edition.

[Astrid is from my NaNo' 13 novel, Petrichor.]

1. What is their favorite hobby?
Shooting stuff.

2. Favorite color?

3. Favorite food?
Spaghetti, noodles, and ice cream.

4. Do they like to read? If not, why? If so, what is their favorite book?
Yes, Astrid does like to read. Her favorite book is 1984. (Her author hasn't read it.)

5. How do they usually spend their Saturday night?
Putting her brothers to bed and reading. On the rare occasion, Blade will drag her out of the house and they go "clubbing." (In a small town, it isn't really that great, but they try.)

[From my NaNo '14 novel, Lost Girls.]

1. Describe their daily routine. Does it change, or is it always the same?
It changes because Evee works 2 or 3 different part-time jobs, so her schedule shifts depending on what job she has that day. However, she always eats three square meals a day and tries to make time for her girls. She'll try go to bed around 9, though she also loves staying up reading, crafting, or watching movies.

2. If they knew they were going to die in 24 hours, what are 3 things they would do?
a.) Eat a lot of food. | b.) Write personalized messages for each of her girls and spend as much time with them as possible, | and c.) go to San Francisco so she can ride on the trolley.

3. If they could choose, how would they die?
Peacefully, of course, but if not, she'd like to know she died for a purpose.

4. What 3 words describe their personality?
Careful, motherly, striving.

[From my NaNo '13 novel, Petrichor.]

1. Are they a dog or cat person? Or neither?
Neither. Dangerous animals are more conducive to Cobie's search for the next big thrill. Wolves and snakes all the way, baby.

2. What is their favorite season?
Summer primarily, but also that space between fall and winter.

3. What music do they listen to?
Where Cobie lives there isn't a lot of music. However, she'd probably like classic rock.

4. If they’re old enough, do they drink alcohol?
She's not old enough, but she does. Ahem.

5. Do they have any bad habits? If so, what?
Rebellion for one. (Actually, I love that about her, so never mind.) Hiding and denying her emotions exist is another big one. Those are more flaws though. Actual bad habits: chipping off nail polish and not cleaning up her things.

Need a break from NaNoing, but want to get to know your characters better? 
Check out A Novel Idea!

A Novel Idea

P.S. I have no idea why the thumbnail for my last post isn't showing up on the main page. If you have any thoughts on this, let me know. (It's irking me.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I killed a man. (IN FICTION.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 6
I killed a man. (IN FICTION.)

CALM DOWN. CALM DOWN. I DIDN'T ACTUALLY KILL ANYONE. Just a character. Good. Now that that's settled, let's continue.

As shocking as this may be, I haven't actually killed any characters in my past 13~ years of writing. (Don't worry, I was surprised by this too.) I've planned to, of course. I just haven't ... gotten around to it.

So yesterday on November 10th, you can imagine my shock when suddenly, BAM! A beloved character of mine was dead. (I'm not telling you who, but it's in my NaNo novel. You may now look at the faces in my Beautiful Books post and wonder who it was.) I had planned on killing this person, but planning and writing it out are two different things. I decided to just power through the scene, and I did. (And it hurt like heck, but I digress.) I know I wrote it, but I was so into the zone that when I realized what I had done, it was still jarring. Suddenly, one of my favorite characters who I had just started to fall in love with was dead. (And an OTP = broken. < / 3)

("But SKYYY! How can a post about death have such a pretty stock photo?" You may ask. Well, trust me. The other stock photos for "DEATH" were not that great. You can thank me later.)

Understandably, I am conflicted about what I have done. It's spawned a spin-off novel and added another dimension to a novel I've struggled to define all year. So that's fabulous. I got two new characters out of the death. From death is birthed life... Or something like that.

But at the same time, it's really frickin' sad. I know I'm taking a rather flippant tone in this post, but please know I don't take death lightly. In fact, it really sucks. And I especially want to be careful with my characters (since that's pretty much the only people's deaths I can control).

So here I sit, the day after killing my first character. And I'm wondering, should I have done that? I don't know. I think I'll leave it for now, at least until NaNo is over. But at what point is pain too much pain? What if I had kept him alive? What would the plot be then?

I'm mostly okay with what I have done, but my intensely loyal soul feels like I've just betrayed someone. (Ugh, I know, I know, it's not logical, but I'm not really ever logical.) And please don't misunderstand me, I do think there's a time and place for killing off characters. I just did not expect mine to be filled with these little tendrils of self-doubt.

What about you? Have you ever killed off a character? Did you regret it?
If you have never killed off a character, do you plan to? Why or why not?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Plot Thickens: Beautiful Books #2

Thursday, November 06, 2014 10
The Plot Thickens: Beautiful Books #2
NaNoWriMo is going gloriously, and by that, I mean it's been a glorious ROLLER COASTER. One day I hate my book, the next I don't. There have been many plot developments since I last spoke to you on the subject of Lost Girls, so prepare for the ride. (It will be a wild one, trust me.) And if you want to participate in Beautiful Books and answer these questions for yourself, check it out by going here!

1. Be honest: how is your writing going? 

It's been weird and a little hard. This novel is a tough nut to crack. We haven't quite gotten acquainted with each other yet. On the upside, I've seen the words "lost girls" so many times that they don't look like words anymore. Wait. That's not a benefit. Never mind. (I tried.)

2. What’s your first sentence/paragraph? 

When I was born, my spine was crooked, and it seems my life hasn’t straightened out since. I’ve always had a weird sense of vertigo, like my world is spinning and I’m not quite right on my feet. I don’t know what causes this. If I did, I would have put a stop to it long ago. It eats away at me and makes me angry. I deal in hard facts and cold logic. Not knowing where I’m going bothers me. 

Some of this vertigo eased off when I landed my internship at Starlight Labs. If you go through the town of Manchester, there it is--a high spire reaching into the sky. I wanted to be like that; I’ve always reached for the stars. It became a dream of mine, then. When I was seventeen, I applied. Two years in and I’m still an intern, but I know I’ll climb the rails. Leading the company is my goal, of course. World domination, all that. I don’t aim small. 

*Manchester is just a stand-in name because I don't know where the heck this is set.

3. Do you have a book cover, and/or pictures that reflect your book? Do you have pictures of each of your characters? If not, describe them for us! (Be as descriptive as you can.) 

Book cover:
(Do any of you guys have color schemes for your novels? Obviously LG's is purples and blues.)

Jem, my first pov character:

Evee, second main pov (and the most troublesome):

Hal, Jem's brother and Evee's future intended... (hehehe.)


Daiyu & Joie

Sienna & Malia

Lily & Amie

There's also Scrapper and Freddie, two brothers who have been welcomed to the Lost Girls under extenuating circumstances. They look like Nolan Gould (I suppose) and some other kid whose face I can't name?! I'll figure it out. I'm not putting them here because I haven't quite settled on their faces yet, but they are definitely major players.


Dr. Susannah Lovelace & Dr. Christian Maxwell

Some guy who started out as a Barry Allen cameo for fun but now will have a personality and name overhaul, and his sister, Bryn Matthews

4. What scene are you most excited to write? 
ANY SCENE WITH HAL because so far he's just been a punk who won't listen to his sister and I haven't gotten to write him actually interacting with anyone. But he's so CUTE.

Also, I thiiink I've gotten a little out of my slump by agreeing to kill someone. So that'll be fun.

I can't wait to write Hal/Evee romance later in the book.

This will also probably be a scene at some point. Because reasons.

5. Share a snippet or a scene that you really enjoyed writing. 
On the second day that Scrapper is here, he runs in frantically while we’re eating breakfast. 
 “Evee,” he says, out of breath. “I need to talk to you.” 
“Okay,” I say. 
 “Found this.” He hands me a crumpled piece of paper. 
I unroll it, greeted by a crudely drawn sketch. And this sketch looks just like me. Under it is “WANTED” printed in bold letters, as well as a cash reward of $2,000. 
“$2,000? You’re worth more than that,” Joie says, then goes back to eating her oatmeal. 
“This is odd,” I say. “I thought they gave up the manhunt for me.” 
“Womanhunt,” Joie supplements. 

6. Now that you're writing, have any of the plot details, or the process itself, turned out different from what you planned or imagined? 
Um, yes. For sure. Jem's boss was originally supposed to be a man, and then entered Dr. Susannah Lovelace, a kick-butt scientist who is rational, anti-social, and yet completely likable at the same time. Occasionally there will be cracks in her serious exterior, and those are so fun to write. Jem and I both love her. (Jem's other boss is the same man as previously planned, not to worry.)

In addition to that, the whole novel itself is just turning out more different than I imagined. I didn't imagine it to take such an Arrow-and-The-Flash-like quality in terms of the universe and setting. I also didn't expect to love the Lost Girls (as in the titular characters) quite this much. Also, there's a character I wasn't planning, who started out as a Barry Allen cameo, but whom will get a personality and name overhaul once I can get the brainpower and time. Until then, though, I remain in first draft mode and call him Barry, as well as dropping references to Peggy Carter, and calling my town Manchester even though it's probably not even close to there. This is what NaNo does to me.

7. Is there a character or aspect of your plot that's difficult to write? 
Yes. Surprisingly, the science-y aspect has been the easiest (but I'm just slapping down really random facts that are probably not true at all). The hardest has been writing Evee, who is bordering on a perfect Mary Sue like character due to lack of any moral ambiguity or tragic backstory. Howeeever, today I've decided she has some regrets and the illusion of perfection she presents is just that: an illusion. And there are beginning to be cracks in her illusion of perfect glass. (Whoa. Deep.) Anyway, I'm starting to love her again and I think this will be different than anything else I've written. Fun stuff.

8. What’s your favorite aspect of this novel so far? Favorite character? 
My favorite aspect is Jem's lab. It came to my almost fully fleshed out and it seems so open and inviting, but also conceals dark secrets. I love it so much. Writing about merges and inner-office politics and Jem working at her job is just so fun to me, I don't know why!

My favorite characters right now are Jem and Joie. Jem because I understand her more than I expected to and relate to her a great deal, as well as find her extremely lovable. Joie I love because she's witty and sarcastic and could not care less what other people think of her. She's extremely fun to write and the things she says make me laugh.

9. Have you drawn off of any life experiences or people you know to create your novel and characters? 
Yes. Life experiences: I'm disabled, like Jem. While I'm not in a wheelchair, I have gone through similar struggles while facing my chronic illness, fibromyalgia. I've drawn upon that to create Jem's character, and while there are some differences between us, I'm hoping that I can help portray disability in a more positive light. (As well as just portray it in general, since we need more characters like this in books.)

Like myself, Evee is also a perfectionist (which is helping me make her more real and relatable). Joie reminds me a lot of a friend of mine, as well.

10. Do you have a playlist or certain song for your novel and/or characters? 
Playlists are some of my favorite things. I haven't quite developed the one for LG yet, but here you go:

Photograph by Ed Sheeran
Tenerife Sea by Ed Sheeran
Home by Ingrid Michaelson
Abraham's Daughter by Arcade Fire
No Light, No Light by Florence + the Machine

So basically we go from cute to creepy in about three songs.

11. Let’s have some fun for a moment: imagine you are somehow transported into your book’s world. Which character are you most likely to be found hanging out with? 
I'd probably track down Hal and make him elope with me. (I'm sorry?) I'd also love to hang out with Joie. I'd love to visit Jem's lab, too.

12. How do you keep yourself motivated to finish your daily wordcount? (Pinterest? Internet breaks? Chocolate?) 
I think about how nice it will feel to update my wordcount bar on the NaNo site, and then I just write as much as I can. What helps is not looking at my wordcount for a while, and then I'm completely surprised when I see how much I've written. Come to think of it, I haven't used Pinterest as a motivator yet! I'm shocked.

13. What’s your favorite writing quote or piece of writing advice? 
Prepare for the spammage.

“Don't tell me that the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” --Anton Chekhov
(click to enlarge photos)

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”
― Ray Bradbury

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.” ― Ernest Hemingway

"Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open." ― Natalie Goldberg (quote found via my friend Annah)

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” ― Neil Gaiman

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”
Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

I'm sure there are others that I'm forgetting, but here you are!

14. How does this book make you feel so far? Are you laughing? Crying? Frustrated?

This about sums it up.

*major props to Aimee @ To the Barricade whose gifs made me laugh out loud and inspired me to use gifs as some of my answers, as well as Allie @ Little Birdie Books and Cait @ Notebook Sisters for the inspiration to use gifs in general.
Gifspiration? Can we call it gifspiration? Can that be a thing?

What about you? How is NaNo going? 
Are you a mess like I am? Sound off in the comments!

And I'd love to read your answers, so go participate in Beautiful Books! You know you want to...

all novel information and excerpts are copyrighted to Sky Walden, 2014. if you steal it, i will come after you with a large stick. and possibly my wizard's wand.