Writing Ranting – NaNoWriMo – The Viper’s Library

I’m please to announce my NaNoWriMo project for November 2022. I actually started this for last November’s NaNoWriMo, but it grew into a trilogy, and I was polishing up another novel for publication

This month, I hope to get the final 30k done based on my estimated word count. Either way, I will finish this draft.

I have a playlist on YouTube and cosplay (see featured image) for my main character on my TikTok and Instagram stories. I’ll also be posting regular updates.

Zelenka, a new breed of vampiric viper, has been in hiding for 200 years. When a group of hunters chase vipers who know Zelenka into her quant town, word gets back to her sisters and sire. Now Zele has a choice: run, fight, or play her sister’s twisted games.

Dante and his companions, Killian and Nolan, are skilled viper hunters who are more than happy to make a deal with Zelenka to help protect her lands in exchange for the secrets of her kind.

But the deal becomes more than Dante and Zelenka bargained for when they’re forced to play along with Zelenka’s sisters’ games.

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3 Tips – For NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month starts tomorrow, and I thought I’d share some tips for a successful month. 

Also, I’ll be including videos on more of my posts.

  1. Don’t feel like you have to stick to the 50k goal if that’s too daunting for you. You can edit your goal or create a new goal for the same project. Also, your outline and summary counts if you’re working on that too. It all goes towards that final book.
  2. Keep your inspiration flowing with some good wiring playlists, whether it’s your favourite artists, or some emotional, instrumental music. My YouTube and Spotify has some playlists if you want to check them out.
  3. Writing sprints are a great way to help keep you focussed, so be sure to find some sprints either via the site or through other writing groups.

I’ll be announcing my project tomorrow.

Writing Ranting – Supporting Writers Between Writing

As writers, we can be a complex bunch, and we write for many reasons. One of my main reasons is some form of therapy to process my emotions or dreams. This form of expression through art isn’t new, and writing can get a lot of emotions out in a way that makes it meaningful to me as a mental health sufferer. 

I don’t often talk about it on here or my bookish social media because I want to keep things light. But sometimes, I need to just point things out.

Recently, I offered to be a beta reader for a couple of writers I knew through TikTok. They were both super nice, but one manuscript, I couldn’t finish because of life changes, and the other I took longer than I planned. When I explained this and apologised, they were both so understanding. 

They both said I could reach out whenever if I was struggling or just wanted to talk. Sometimes people say that to be nice, but I got the sense they meant it. Either way, it was nice to hear since I have been going through a rough time since spring. 

My mum is going through cancer treatment, and though we had some very good news that the treatment is working, it’s still hard for her with the side effects and being very limited in what she can do. Last week was particularly stressful because I have a foster kitten, Nix, who is in a very bad way and has been in and out of the vet’s for over two weeks now. Then my dad had his COVID vaccination and had the usual reaction so was limited in what he could do. 

When it rains it pours. 

All this is temporary, but with my mind not being able to cope with too much going on, I just stalled for a whole week. It was Mum, kitten, work. That was all I could manage. 

Writing Ranting – Magic Makes a Story

Magic systems are more than just world building in fantasy fiction. As a writer, you make the rules and can use your magic system as part of the plot.

Here are things to consider for your magic system when planning your story…

  • Create a challenge for your characters like newly discovered magic, opening a magical room, translating a magic book.
  • Represent something emotional for your MC. Maybe trauma locked away their powers. Maybe an estranged parent has answers.
  • Establish a social hierarchy. More power could mean more respected or feared. Certain abilities might be good or bad in society.
  • Tools to complete a bigger task. Maybe a specific power will achieve the final goal. Maybe a certain combination of abilities is the only way to solve a problem.
  • Secret magic. Perhaps magic is banned, so any magic users have to hide it. Someone could dabble in dark magic and they have to keep it a secret.
  • A race. There could be something special that multiple people are trying to find.
  • Base your magic system on something real. Manipulating natural energy or elements can make it easy to set limits and exceptions.
  • Magical conduits like devices, runes, spells, etc. can have specific magical effects on things or people around them. 

There are probably more, but these are some of the main things that I have in various WIPS. 

My favourite is connecting emotion to magic. I have a character who fears her magic because her mother couldn’t maintain control, and my MC is worried she’ll end up the same. Another WIP has merging magic that is only possible with a strong emotional connection like family, friends and extra fun when it’s between lovers.

In one WIP, I imagine the magic as a way to combine magic, science, and religion in that one all powerful being (a sort of star) released a massive amount of energy that created the universe. This being then created worlds and more masses of energy that are like stars from a science perspective but are also similar to angels. Each ability has a scientific explanation or theory behind it, such as creating wormholes like portals, breaking down and reforming physical matter for shifting, bending light, etc. Sure, much of it is pushing it in relation to exact science, but it helps me as the writer decide what is and isn’t possible. 

One WIP has stones that hold the power of the elements, and only specific people can use them through special devices. The stones are also used for everyday things like light, heat, showers, helping plants grow, and powering airships.

Writing Update- The Fourth Wall Series.

Oops. I meant to give this one last check yesterday before posting it, since I post my writing ranting on Wednesdays. This week has been a bit weird with final prep for summer camp at work and family health stuff getting to me. Actually, this is perfect way to introduce todays post because it’s something I work on when I don’t have much.

The Fourth Wall is a new mini series I’ve started based on a TikTok video I made about my MC accidentally hearing me as the writer. I thought it would make a few short and fun pieces to have for various characters where they overhear me or tumble into my world if it suits the story’s magic system, which in some cases, it does.

It’s also a way to get an interest in my novels as prequel chapters since they’re set not long before the mains story and don’t spoil anything. I have some other short stories planned for various WIPs as non-spoiler backstories, and some bonus chapters from other POVs. But they’re something to share after I’ve published to keep people interested in between each book in the series.

Mostly, these started when I got into writing slumps or in the middle of planning. They helped with world-building and fleshing out my characters or detailing past events that don’t need whole scenes or chapters in the main book. 

I have my debut novel about to go through the publication process once I’ve chosen my editor and made some decisions on art, etc. My Fourth Wall story with Clair will be available before publication as a glimpse into her life. Also, it’s something fun to write during a busy few days where I need to write but can’t focus on the main novel.

Writing Ranting – How Realistic Are Your Characters? Part 2

Warning: Spoilers of Zodiac Academy, A Court of Thorns and Roses, and The Dark Artifices ahead.

Disclaimer: I don’t read a lot of LGBTQ+ books purely because I don’t come across that many recommendations from the sources I find new books from. That being said, quite a few books in my preferred genre include LGBTQ+ content either through 1 of many POVs or a character close to the MC. 

We’re in Pride Month, so I thought I’d share some of my favourite LGBTQ+ romances. 

  • Mark and Kieran from The Dark Artifices. This is established pretty early on in thestory so not much of a spoiler. I just adore these two and how they found comfort in one another. The mentions of them cozying up to each other after hunting the skies just warms my heart. 
  • Seth and Caleb from Zodiac Academy. In a series with a lot of enemies to lovers, this friends to lovers is refreshing. It’s also so freaking hot how they tease one another since Caleb is supposedly straight until we start seeing hints of his feelings for Seth. Also, his reasons for holding back don’t come across as “Wait? I’m gay?” it’s more like “He’s my best friend and I’m scared of ruining that.” I just love how it plays out.  
  • Mor and Emerie from ACOTAR. I had very mixed feelings towards Mor in the original ACOTAR trilogy and the way she treated Cass and Az. But now I’m over it, and have read A Court of Silver Flames, I want to see things happen in the next book. 

As a writer, I believe it’s important to be inclusive without forcing characters for the sake of it. However, I have a few characters whose sexual orientation works for their character and the story, not that working for the story is more important. It just comes across as more relevant and realistic based on similar relationships I’ve read in other books. Yes, below is including minor spoilers from various WIPs, but nothing significant story-wise.

  • Cleopatra ends up being torn between the boy she’s grown to love and the girl who holds answers to her past.
  • Marina has a tragic love story when she crosses worlds to be with the girl she loves only to find her gone.
  • Drystan is open to anything in bed but will ultimately choose a woman for a relationship.
  • Esme is occasionally physically attracted to men, but only loves one woman.
  • Killian and Nolan are more than happy to be intimate with each other if a woman is involved. 

Like many aspects of my characters, things with their personalities and preferences evolved with the story and just felt right. 

Book Review – Cursed Fates – Zodiac Academy Book 5 – By Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti – 5 stars

Warning: May contain spoilers, but opening comments are spoiler-free. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If you haven’t read book 4, then this review contains major spoilers.

I want to cry for these girls all the time. They never get a break for more than 5 minutes before it all goes wrong again. And if I hear one more person blame Tory for being star-crossed, then I’m going to lay the smack down on them.

What I liked…

I wanted Tory to say yes at the end of the previous book, but totally support her decision to say no in that moment. And now I love her constant questioning her decision and if she should have chosen differently.

I love more of the girls getting their own back on people who hurt them. 

In between the bad stuff, there are some cute and funny moments. I just love the fluff. 

I hate (but secretly love) more hardships for both girls. No spoilers on that, but it’s obvious at this point that things never go right for long.

More sibling tension between Darcy and Tory, which makes their relationship more realistic. 

Darcy. Honestly, I don’t feel overly strongly about Darcy most of the time compared to the others. I like her, but she’s not my favourite. But I feel so bad for her in this book. 

Tory. One of my all-time favourite characters now. Perfect balance of sass and sarcasm. Sometimes she gets a little too self-loathing for my liking, but that’s just her character. 

Caleb. No spoilers, but he does a few very nice things in this book for various people, and I think he’s becoming a good friend to Tory. Sure, he gets something out of it when he gives her an amazing surprise (probably my favourite scene in the whole book, maybe the whole series), but he’d probably do it for her anyway. And what’s brewing with him and a certain other person? I’m hoping that plays out in their favour. 

Darius. He knows he fucked up, and I like reading him stew in what he did to Tory and why she said no. I still hope they fix it, but he needed an emotional slap in the face to spur him into action.

Orion. Not impressed dude. You fudged up royally. Still love you. 

Spice. Woah. Spice is twice as nice when there’s 3 😏. I wasn’t sure I was going to like the dynamics when I realised what was about to happen, but it totally worked. 

I just love how the Vegas and the Heirs are finally on the same side with more playful rivalry mostly (emphasis on mostly). I think it started with the snowball fight at the end of book 4. I loved that scene. 

What I didn’t like…

I still don’t like Max, Seth and Xavier’s POVs. They’re fun characters but their POVs are… meh. But that’s mostly because I’m more invested in the other POVs, even Caleb. 

Final thoughts…

At this point, I can’t fault anything to the point I would take stars away. I’m invested in the story and the twins, Orion, and Darius, and even a few of the other characters as things blossom between them. Each book is an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish, and I freaking love it. 

Writing Ranting – How Realistic Are Your Characters? Part 1

I recently saw a few TikTok posts from the same account about portraying body size and characters of colour in books and related character art. I genuinely appreciated her pointing this out since I have mixed race characters and some who are plus sized. I’ve included a couple of her videos at the bottom.

My reasons for these characters vary from loosely representing people I know, including myself when it comes to weight, and being from various backgrounds that are part of the inspiration for my world.

For example, I have a character who is mixed Egyptian and Persian. Her skin colour seemed obvious once I’d decided her heritage, and any art I commission will reflect this. I’m reluctant to share my inspirational art right now because I don’t own it, but I imagine Jasmine from Aladdin with hints of Cleopatra as the best visual representation of my character.

As for her body size… that’s definitely inspired by my own weight problems. She’s depressed and under pressure and puts on weight when she’s due to emotional stress. Then she’s under a different kind of stress that causes her to lose a lot of weight. Both these instances represent my personal struggles with size, so if anyone has anything to say about her suddenly being slim, then I have a long list of reasons why this is very real. But by the end, her slightly larger size is when she’s more healthy mentally and emotionally.

I’m grateful for social media because I learn what readers really want as well as what I want to portray in my books. I would be mortified if something I’d written was offensive in this way, and while I know I can’t please everyone, I can take realistic representations seriously.

I also plan to use a sensitivity reader, especially in relation to race, to be absolutely sure I don’t use the wrong language when describing my character. I want my characters’ visuals to be clear but also using appropriate wording.

Writing Ranting – Helping Other Writers! Part 2

Writing may come naturally in some ways, but not necessarily in others. One writer might have the ideas for a fun story with a good structure. Another might have a knack for writing dialogue, while another is better at scene-setting or world-building. These are just a few aspects that make a good story. 

Working with others can help share your talents to make one super talent while keeping your stories your own. I would never consider sending anything to an editor or agent without running it by my peers, and in exchange, I help them too. 

Critiquing is a great way to share work with other writers. I found Critique Circle several years ago. I go by Fantasist if you want to find me on there. I’m not particularly active since I’ve finished critiques and betas on one book, and the next isn’t ready for sharing. But I found this website amazingly helpful. Not only learning about writing, but learning about my own style and what kind of writer I want to be.

I’m also on a couple of private writing chat groups and have my own on Discord, which is a bit quiet lately, but mostly because there aren’t that many people on it yet. Feel free to email me or find me on Discord lovefantasy#0367 for more info and an invite.

Sharing your work not only brings writers together, but you can learn so much about writing and what you want from it. I think I’ve learned more about writing from sharing and critiquing than anywhere else. 

Writing and Reading Ranting – Don’t Feel Bad I’ve Not Having Enough Time!

Lately life has been getting to me, and I haven’t had much time or brainpower to write or read. It happens to all of us. I meant to post this yesterday but forgot. 

Instead of huffing and getting frustrated about it, I’ve focussed on short posts for my writing blog which I’ve hashed out while waiting for something or half watching TV after lunch or dinner before getting on with the essentials. It takes less brainpower than writing my novels because I’m just expanding on whatever thoughts crop up on any given week in relation to writing. 

I’m always thinking about my novels or adding notes, but sometimes, sitting down to write at a document can feel daunting when life is weighing on me, so I’ve dialled back in that respect. I did manage to hash out some rough scenes last weekend on my viper WIP and felt pretty good about them. I can never let any WIP sit for long.

As for reading, I’m catching up with my Audible TBR since there are a few good series I’m partway through. I’m currently flipping between Mystic Bayou by Molly Harper and Halven Rising by Jules Barnard which are a group of standalones but follow on from one another through different protagonists. 

So I don’t feel bad for not writing and reading, because I am writing and reading in the ways that I can. And I’m keeping up with my social media posts since they feel good to make. I’m on TikTok as @lovefantasynovels and on Instagram as @emiiadashfire