A Sunshine Tag + Cosy Books

writer1. What are your top five favorite novels?

It would be impossible for me to list the five ultimate favorites, but I’ll list five books that I love. The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke. The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien. The Riddle-Master by Patricia McKillip.

2. What style do you enjoy writing in the most?

My style tweaks and morphs with each novel I write, to suit the genre or style of the book, so I really couldn’t say.

3. Whose writing to you admire the most?

I admire many authors, and they’re all very different. I admire the descriptive, evocative prose of Jenny and Rosemary Sutcliff. I love the depth and complexity of Patricia McKillip. I love the simple, clever humor of Diana Wynne Jones.

4. What is the thing that prevents you most from writing?

My own mind, more often than not. It’s like a troublesome bed – it doesn’t like to be made up.

5. What is your favorite WIP?  

My current favorite WIP is Paper Hearts, but only because I’m ‘in the mood,’ as it were. My favorite changes depending on my turn of mind.

6. What is your nickname?

I have a few; ‘Mirri’ being the most common. Others include Momo (‘Peach’ in Japanese) and the newest, ‘Ma petite pomme de terre,‘ which is a nickname I received via letter this morning from Jenny and means ‘my little potato.’

7. How many siblings do you have?

I have four; two elder, married sisters, an elder brother, and my younger sister.

8. If you could visit anywhere, where would you visit?

If we’re choosing from this dimension and reality, then I would say the British Isles. I would be content to land anywhere in that region.

9. How many writing blogs do you follow?

Not many, to be honest. I follow the blogs of good friends who blog about writing quite frequently, but I don’t know that they could be counted as ‘writing blogs.’

10.  If you had to choose between Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston, who would you pick?

Joseph Morgan, and be done with it.

On to the next; a sort-of tag begun by Rachel Heffington and continued by Jenny and myself. (Jenny, you’re becoming rather famous in this post.) I was conversing about the topic of ‘cosy books’ with Jenny yesterday, and we came to the conclusion that we really don’t read many that fall into that category. The novels she listed are identical with mine, but I’ll add a few more that I think are rather ‘cosy’ so I can still claim a little originality for myself.

Anything by Beatrix Potter

I grew up half-in the world of Peter Rabbit and friends, and I collect the small hardbacks wherever I can.

Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne

Winnie the Pooh was – and still is – one of my greatest fictional friends, always there when you need a hug or a small smackerel of hunny.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

This book is strange, whimsical, beautiful, and engaging. While perhaps not completely the stuff of snuggly sweaters, I re-read this book every year .

Instead of tagging anyone, I’m going to take the lazy route and open these to anyone who wishes to participate. Now, I’m off to continue putting in the final edits to Paper Crowns; the sooner to find an agent. And, very appropriately, the album Paper Hearts by Silver Trees just began playing. It’s a sign, and time for me to go!

Top Ten Most Influential Books

bookmagicIt’s been a while since I’ve accepted a tag, but this one has to do with books! Not just books, but the ten most influential books I can think of. This is not going to be easy, but I’ll do my best. (I’ll probably end up listing ten books, and then realizing tonight that I left out five other, more important ones; but life goes on.)

I should also note that I’m not including books written by any of my friends. I want to keep this a fair fight.

1. William Bennet’s Book of Virtues. Growing up, this is the book I have the most distinct memories about. It’s a thick, almost Dictionary-sized volume, filled with stories and poems both famous and obscure. It carried tales about everyone from Icarus to The Cobbler and the Brownie to Oedipus and the Minotaur, and I know it shaped the way I think and write, even now.

2. The Narnia series. I know this is an entire series, but I grew up on it. I remember the day my mom brought home The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It didn’t take us long to finish all the books, and they’ve remained a heavy influence.

3. The Hobbit. Another book I grew up on, this book showed me that you can have fantasy, humor, adventure, danger, intrigue,and  a large host of characters without sacrificing a solidly good story filled with subtle virtues. (I would include all of Tolkien’s other books, but I don’t want to be too obvious.)

4. The Inkworld trilogy. It seems like forever ago that I first read Inkheart and got hooked. Those books showed me how to craft words like magic, how you can have an alternate world in your novel without following a set pattern, and how characters, through the most subtle gestures, can become the deepest and most memorable.

5. The Hollow Kingdom trilogy. Beauty and the Beast meets Labyrinth; this series is all but perfect. Everything about it, from the Goblin King to the main character (with whom I always identified very strongly) is beautiful; and the fact it was written as a series of letters gives it a thoughtfulness many books don’t have.

6. I Capture the Castle. I read this book, along with the Hobbit, every year. There’s something so unique and fascinating, something almost fantasy-like about this novel even though there’s nothing fantasy about it. I have my friend Cassie to thank for introducing me to it, and I’ll never be able to repay her.

7. The Grand Sophy. This book was better than Jane Austen – I’ve never finished a Jane Austen book. I’ve seen all the movies and miniseries, but none of the books ever captured me like The Grand Sophy did. I recommend Sophy to almost everyone I come across, if books come up in the conversation.

8. Tahn. This was the first time I realized that I loved tortured heroes with tragic pasts. That, quite obviously, influenced my writing…a lot…

9. The Riddle-Master Trilogy. Patricia McKillip became one of my favorite authors of all-time after I read this novel. Her colorful characters, her lyrical writing, her complex and beautiful plots – she is a complete master of her craft, and someone I look up to.

10. A Wrinkle in Time. This is another novel I grew up with, and it became as much a part of me as my skin and bones. A bizarre but relatable tale about love and everything that implies. I read this almost every year.

I know I left out many authors and novels that I would also like to list, but if I made a COMPLETE list it would be probably eighty books long. What about you? What books have influenced your life and writing craft?

Feeling Liebsterish

I was given the most awesome Liebster award by the even more awesome Katie at Whisperings of the Pen!

Rules: Post eleven random facts about yourself, answer the eleven questions the awarder has given you and make up eleven questions for your awardees to answer in return. Tag eleven fellow bloggers, and notify them of the award. Also, they say there are no tag-backs in this game, but I’m breaking that rule. They also say the eleven blogs you tag must have less than 200 followers. But I say if your blog has more than 200 followers, good for you! You will not be shunned. Feel free to participate! 

Eleven Facts Selected off the Top of My Head

1. I’m quite adept at impersonations and have been known to do Ken Davis skits in Ken Ham’s voice, sing Blue Christmas like Elvis, and scare my sister by singing like Josh Groban. Which is not very useful as far as talents go, but is one I have nonetheless.

2. I’m really awful at painting my fingernails, but I like colors so I do it anyway.

3. I’m very fickle toward fictional characters. The minute I finish writing one, I begin another (or four, in this case) and fall in love with all of them. I also tend to tear up if I find a song that’s just right for them. (The Meaning of Always – RED by Taylor Swift. Last night. It was an epiphany. Or an apostrophe if you’ve seen Hook.)

4. I tried to dye my hair pink with kool-aid and it all washed out in the morning without dyeing anything. Apparently this is a sign of healthy hair. I wished, just for a second, that I had unhealthy hair.

5. It throws people off when I tell them I have a quick temper, like heavy, depressing music, and write novels like Monster. I think it’s because I have a baby face and look a lot like I imagine Bess from Nancy Drew would look. (Which is basically true; plump, blond, blue-eyed, would generally rather stay home, has lots of friends. With a dash of George.) When Jon and I had breakfast and we were talking about flaws, I mentioned the temper problem and he started laughing. “What!?” I exclaimed. Doing an admirable job to get a hold of himself, he looked me square in the eye and said, “I just have a really hard time believing that.” “Believe it,” I said, grinning. “My family does.”

6. I’m double-jointed and so when I’m just standing, my hip tends to slide out and my knees lock. It probably looks pretty awkward, actually. O_o

7. My brother, dad and I watched Prometheus the other day. During the scene where the woman is cut open for surgery to have the alien baby pulled out, I’m the only one who kept my eyes open.

8. I have a thing for bright blue eyes. Watching Robin Hood: “Allan has such pretty eyes.” During Revolution: “Bas’s eyes are so pretty.” Looking at pictures: “Wow, those eyes are so pretty.”

9. If I have a nightmare, the villain will either be Nazis or bizarrely crooked teeth. When I was little, it was my older sister’s evil doppelgänger.

I have strange nightmares.

10. When I was little, I always sort of hoped I’d find a Monster hiding in my room so I could name it and he could become my late-night Visiting Friend.

11. According to my family and friends, I’m going to marry an insane, deranged, suicidal, depressed and questionable man with a past bigger than South America. I actually want someone who will watch the stars with me late at night, won’t mind when I sit up in the middle of the night with an idea and want to tell it to him, and will get me to go out and do things and have fun when all I want to do is sit glued to my computer.

Katie’s  Questions

1. Do you outline before starting a novel? If so, how extensive an outline do you create? I outline in a really vague, shaky, organic sort of way. Anything I do can be changed or reneged on; I usually only have two or three points I know are really solid must-happens. It’s more like, I have all these ideas and quotes and pictures in a multifaceted melting pot (thank you, Max) and I stir it and then pour it out and it becomes something that wants to be a novel in the near future.
 
2. Do you profile your characters to flesh them out and make them as realistic as possible? If so, would you share the template or basic outline you use?  I actually used to. It was such a major help! Now, though, a new character comes into my head and after thinking about them for a little while, I know them well enough I don’t have to outline. Granted, I still do outlines now and then because they’re fun – and I might end up learning something new while I’m at it.
 
3. How do you balance the busyness of life with your writing goals? (Give a girl some advice here.) Aha. Um. I- uh. Oh. Well, see…I…um…uuuuhhhh well, here’s what I do. I get up. If it’s early and no one else is up, I write. When I’ve finished school and chores, I write. If I can’t get on the computer or have used up my 2 hours of time, I handwrite. And then I type it up, if it’s actually stuff I’m going to use. I fall so in love with my books and characters that I can’t not write. It becomes almost like a huge, physical itch and it won’t go away until I write it down. I schedule phone calls and chats with people at convenient times, and I tend to opt out if the rest of the family is going shopping or somewhere uninteresting. (Don’t look at me like that; I go if it sounds interesting!) And I still end up forgetting and neglecting things, but that’s in part due to my brain. It has more holes in it than the theory of Evolution.
 
4. Do you force yourself to finish a writing project before starting on a new one? Sometimes. Right now, I love the system I have – I’m working on four projects at once and so far, I’ve been in the mood for at least one of them every day. Plus my reading team is AMAZING for motivation and that other word that always slips out of my brain just when I need it – accountability, that’s it. So every now and then, when I know a story isn’t going anywhere and I’ve fallen out of love with it, I leave and start something new – but I used to do this way more frequently. Lately, I’ve finished everything I’ve started. (YAY!)
 
5. HOW IN THE WORLD DO YOU CONTROL THE PLOT-BUNNIES?!  I DON’T I LET THEM BREAD LIKE FIBBINOCCHI BUNNIES AND THEY HELP ME. I still have Heather, my plot bunny; Zig, my leprechaun from Ireland, and Penny, my flying pig. They’re all very helpful.
 
6. Once in a while, we all write characters that scare us for one reason or other. How do you deal with these characters and the emotions they evoke in you? Hmm. The only character I’ve ever written who scared me was Mir, and he scared me in a good way. He scared me because I had never felt that strongly about a character before. I don’t think I’ll ever, ever forget the day I wrote the scene where Eva tells Pocky that Mir is going to die. It was the first time my feelings had been so physical – I had a hard time breathing, tears were running down my face, and my chest felt like it was closing in on itself. And all I hope is that one day I’ll have a character who kills me that beautifully again.
 
7. Bronte sisters or Jane Austen? The Bronte sisters in theory; I love the dark, mysterious, gothic stories. But Jane Austen in reality, because all of the movies from her books have been better.
 
8. Peeta or Gale? (This has everything to do with everything.) Gale in the movie, Peeta in the books. Yep. Or can we just say Finnick? Maybe?
 
9. Do you people-watch? Do you find this inspires you to create more relatable, three-dimensional characters based on your observations? I do people-watch, but I have a funny way of doing it. If we’re out and about, unless I’m just sitting there bored with nothing to do, I forget to watch people. When I find a model for a character, though, I search them up online and watch them that way. It helps me get down little nuances about them; their quirky habits, the way they say things, their facial expressions. Over time, this has helped me create characters without needing an actual model (though I do like having models. It’s inspiring and gives other people a visual).
 
10. Do you write best when warm and cozy indoors, or outdoors with the sun in your face and the wind in your hair? Definitely indoors. I like having music, inspiration at the drop of a hat, and being able to look out the window at gray weather. Gray weather is my favorite.
 
11. How do you keep your writing new and original? How do you avoid falling into clichés? To be honest, my writing usually comes from about five unoriginal ideas blended together, with a dash of whatever happens to come out of my soul. It becomes, that’s all I can say for it. Sometimes I find it useful to employ clichés because, I’ve found, that it can really be the most clichéd things that jerk the most emotions out of me. That’s why they’re used so often – sometimes, clichés work. I try to avoid most clichés but some I embrace with open arms.
 
My Questions for the Tagged
 
1. Do you create playlists for your novels when you write, or do you write better without music?
2. Is there anything you have given up in order to be able to write?
3. What character (not your own) has moved or inspired you the most? Why?
4. Have you ever seen a real-life version of your character walking down the street?
5. Have you ever been inspired by something completely random and strange? (“Did she say she liked to draw swill-buckets?”)
6. Have you ever come up with a fantastic idea, only to find out that someone in the past stole it from you?
7. Is there one thing people tend to say all the time that you absolutely hate?
8. Is there a Tumblr you go to for inspiration?
9. What does your writing space look like?
10. Do you have a ‘routine’ for writing?
11. Have you ever been struck with creative lightning at an inappropriate time?
 
The Tagged
(If you are tagged and don’t have a blog, you can answer the questions in the comments – it means I tagged you because I think you’ll enjoy the questions, and I’m curious about your answers)
 
Katie (since she likes tagbacks… *laugh*)
Deb
Una