Tag Archives: teens can write too blog chain

The Writing Glasses and Other Habits of Mine

This post is for the April Teens Can Write Too! blog chain. This month’s prompt was:

“What are your writers’ habits and eccentricities?”

As far as young writers go, I’d say I’m pretty normal. There are very few things I do that most other writers don’t. There are some things that might make me seem a tad eccentric, though–and here they are.

I have a pair of clear-lens, non-prescription glasses that I like to have on when I’m writing. I originally bought them for cosplay purposes, and I’ve gotten rather attached. I put them on whenever I need to focus; it’s as if an alternate frame of mind goes along with putting them on. Wearing my glasses basically tells me, “Enough with the distractions. It’s time to get to work.” I put these Writing Glasses on for my fiction, for schoolwork, for blog posts–I’m wearing them at the moment.

I strongly prefer music to silence when I’m writing. For some reason, listening to music curbs my need for further distractions. If I don’t listen to music while I’m writing, without fail, I will jump online and waste about an hour, starting checking my email and ending up watching kitten videos. Music helps me live inside my head a little more, which is somewhat contradictory, since music is yet another layer of information coming into my mind from the outside. Logic aside, this is extremely helpful to me when writing fiction. I sometimes put together little “soundtracks” for whatever piece I happen to be working on, and this helps to keep the ideas flowing.

When working on my novel, I have to give myself little pep talks on what I’m going to write about. I mutter to myself as I open the Word document, select the proper music, and don the Writing Glasses. “OK, Allegra. She’s going to go into the library now and discover the book on the creation of the monarchy. She has to be really interested but morally disgusted by her findings. Don’t leave out those mood-setting details. All right. Deep breath. Remember to make the text sound archaic.” I often have to pause for these little soliloquies in the middle of writing, as well. It’s not the best for when other people are in the room, so sometimes I just assume a meditative air and address these issues internally.

I often spend my hours lying awake at night constructing “trailers” in my mind for my various planned and in-progress works. I try not to make the “actors” (all of my own invention) look exactly like my characters–usually they’re a bit older, since nowadays it seems that 20-somethings are playing teenagers more often than actual teens. I pick the action-y scenes, a humorous line or two, and of course the all-important romantic moment, and mash them together into an artistic montage. Then I pick some soundtrack music and play it back to myself a few times. At the end, that really fast voice says “comingsoonratedPG13.” I suppose all of this is just a product of my own over-active imagination and unrealistic hopes and dreams.

That’s about it for anything that be considered strange about my writing life and habits. Why don’t you see how eccentric everyone else is now?

April 5––Comfy Sweaters, Writing, and Fish

April 6– — The Leaning Tower of Plot

April 7––Lily’s Notes in the Margins

April 8–– From My Head

April 9––This Page Intentionally Left Blank

April 10––The Word Asylum

April 11––Rachel’s Book Reviews

April 12––Novel Journeys

April 13––A Farewell to Sanity

April 14––Sword of Ink

April 15––The Dreamers Adventures

April 16––The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer

April 17––Here’s To Us

April 18––Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)


Posted by on April 17, 2012 in Writing


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A Supporting Character Speaks Up

This post is for the March Teens Can Write Too! blog chain. The prompt for the month was:

“Choose your favorite of any of your own characters. Conduct a ten-question interview with him or her.”

Let’s welcome a certain young lady by the name of Jennet to the blog! Jennet isn’t my protagonist–in fact, she only appears in two chapters of my novel. However, she is by far one of the most fascinating characters I’ve ever created, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to interview her before a captive audience. (Someone did remember to lock the exits, right?)

Allegra: Well, I’m happy to have you here, Jennet! Why don’t you say hello to everyone?

Jennet: You seem nice enough, for your complete strangeness. You all talk like you’re from the north or something. So hello. But, the important thing here is, what in gods’ names am I doing here?

A: I’d just like you to answer some questions. Nothing too personal or political. Why don’t you start by describing yourself?

J: If you insist. I’m a dwarf and I’m fifteen years old. I’m from a cesspool of a village along the tunnel systems. I’m not really into politics, mostly I just try to get along and not break my neck, but if you wanted to know, I’m a royalist. I had a real close tangle with a bunch of rebels and some young folks from the capital a few months ago. That was the most exciting thing that’s happened to me in a while.

A: What was your impression of these “young folks”?

J: Oh, they were lunatics. *laughs* Well, one of ’em was a dwarf, maybe half-blood. The other two were humans–tall as trees and pale as milk. All about my age. The dwarf girl, see, she was wanted by the rebels or something, so she had her face plastered like it was burned, as a disguise. The humans were dressed like street performers, I’m not sure why. All three of ’em were damn shifty. Not bad folks, really, just trying to lie low. The human boy was attractive.

A: Speaking of that. What do you look for in a man?

J: Just that: a man. Someone who can do work, and who’s capable of defending himself. I can’t stand boys who soil their trousers at the thought of a fight. But if he thinks that I need defending, he’d better think again. I need respect, too. *pauses*  I do rather like cocky, rakish sorts.

A: What’s your main goal in life?

J: First, to get out of my village. Once my younger brothers are settled and all…I’d like to see some other countries. The crowned heads. I’m handy enough with a dagger that I’ve thought of becoming a mercenary. There’s money to be had in crime. My ma would pitch some fit, though.

A: I can see why. How is your relationship with your mother?

J: It can be a bit difficult. She just wants me to help her around our house–my dad ran off when I was just a little bit–but I’m always going off doing this-and-that. But most of the time she’s just looking out for me, I think. And I…look, do we have to talk about this?

A: Um, no. Moving right along. Has anyone ever compared you to an animal?

J: *rolls eyes* Yes. It’s always a crow. Jennet, you’re such a crow. Are you sure you’re not a shapeshifter, Jennet? Oh, you must be a crow the gods punished to become a dwarf. On and on. It’s because my laugh is all harsh and I have this beak of a nose. Also, I really enjoy shiny things.

A: I wouldn’t mind being compared to a crow. What’s wrong with it?

J: It’s damn tiring. You wouldn’t know about that, Miss-Fair-Skinned-Silver-Tongue. And I don’t see a single shiny thing on you. Oh, wait. Pierced ears. Bah.

A: Well, what’s your favorite thing about yourself?

J: Definitely my street smarts. There’s no city I’d want to avoid, and no scum I wouldn’t take on. If I can’t fight ’em, I can outwit ’em or outrun ’em.

A: Impressive. How about your flaws?

J: Over-confidence. So maybe forget about what I just said, eh? Also insensitivity. My looks could stand a polish, too.

A: What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you?

J: This. Right now. Who are you, what am I doing sitting in this room, and what is that glow-y contraption you’re tapping on?

A: Never mind that. Uh, thanks for coming, Jennet! Any parting words?

J: I didn’t have much choice in coming, did I? No parting words. Except, don’t call me Crow Girl, don’t insinuate I’m from the north, and never make me change a baby’s napkin. Now can you please unlock those exits?

That’s all for now, folks! Any questions you may have for Jennet, she will happily  answer.

Want to follow our blog tour? Here are the participating parties, day by day

March 5 — — Kirsten Writes!

March 6 — – Struggles Of A (Maybe) Teen Author

March 7 — –This Page Intentionally Left Blank

March 8 — – The Dreamers Adventures

March 9 — — Lily’s Notes in the Margins

March 10 — – A Box of Letters and a Cup of English Tea

March 11– –From My Head

March 12 — –The Word Asylum

March 13 — –Oh Yeah, Write!

March 14 — – A Farewell To Sanity

March 15 — — Novel Journeys

March 16 — — Comfy Sweaters, Writing and Fish

March 17 — – Oops Was That Loud?

March 18 — — Here’s To Us

March 19 —— The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer

March 20 — –Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)


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On Love Polygons and the Big Kiss

This post is for the February 2012 edition of the Teens Can Write Too! blog chain. This month’s prompt was:

“What are your thoughts on romance for your typical genre? Do you tend to have a little, a lot, or none at all?”


Undoubtedly, my typical and favorite genre in both reading and writing is fantasy/sci-fi and its various derivatives, including but not limited to dystopian, steampunk, paranormal, epic fantasy, and macabre. While it is most certainly possible for these types of storylines to stand on their own merits, I always find them most enjoyable when there’s an element of romance lurking somewhere in the thick of the plot.

In reading these types of stories, I find that a touch of romance in the background–or even a broad brush of it in the foreground–adds that much-needed sense of humanity to the outlandish plot, particularly in YA. Even if a group of teenagers gets involved in a supernatural event of some sort, are they honestly expected to drop all hormones immediately and for all time? Let’s face it–it’s not going to happen. My taste for a bit of romance in reading is also fed by my own secret inner idealist (or hopeless romantic). This is the girl who doesn’t like animated Disney films. And you thought I was soulless!

Writing romance, however, is a whole other evil empire to be overthrown. Reading about love is easy–all you do is soak in someone else’s words. When one has no experience in these matters, as I do as of the posting date, it is decidedly difficult to write about it oneself. How are you expected to write about that fabled Big Kiss when, to yourself, it reminds just that–a myth? It’s like the Forever Alone guy handing out relationship advice. On the other hand, if I could only write just what I know, I would only be writing stories about single high schoolers who are told by their elders that their “intelligence is intimidating” but are probably just awkward weirdos.

So basically what I’m getting at is that the best I can do when writing romance is to take all I’ve read, watched, and heard from others, put them together in a big mental jumble, and use modified versions of the pieces that work best with the rest of the story. In a few years, I’ll probably read back the so-called romantic moments I write now and spray some beverage across the room from laughter.

The one thing I am confident about when writing romance is cliche avoidance. Love triangles featuring two badass guys and a weak-minded central female character have no place in my story, and neither do trouble-free InstaLUV tales. Love polygons of other sorts are acceptable, and two characters can fall in love quickly as long as there’s some amount of conflict later on. I’m chill with it as long as vampires and werewolves don’t both get involved.

Oh no! A Twilight reference! Everyone run for cover before she starts ranting!

All right, I can take a hint, you guys. Why don’t you check out the rest of the blog chain instead?

February 5– –Novel Journeys

February 6– –Lily’s Notes in the Margins

February 7– –Kirsten Writes!

February 8– — Comfy Sweaters, Writing and Fish

February 9– –A Farewell to Sanity

February 10– –The Word Asylum

February 11– –From My Head

February 12– –Esther Victoria1996

February 13– –Embracing Insanity

February 14– –Red Herring Online

February 15– –Go Teen Writers (Honorary Participant)

February 16– –This Page Intentionally Left Blank

February 17– –Oh Yeah, Write!

February 18– –The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer

February 19– –Here’s To Us

February 20– –Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)



Posted by on February 19, 2012 in Writing


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Books as Projectile Weapons

This post is for the January 2012 Teens Can Write Too! blog chain. This month’s prompt was:

“What are examples of books you’ve thrown across the room with force? Why did you throw them?”

This was a pretty tough prompt for me–to be honest, I’m not much of a book-thrower. I’m really more of set-down-the-book-as-if-it’s-a-bomb-and-start-crying person, and I’ve only done that one or two times. If I had the strength of will, however, to throw a book across the room and risk denting my Doctor Who poster, here are a few volumes that could have had the honor.

  1. Bright Shadow by Avi. I think we can all agree that if we met Avi, we would get down on our knees and worship him. He’s an amazing writer and just as cool as any pop star–he goes by just one name, after all. However, this book severely disappointed me. I probably wouldn’t have hated it so much if I hadn’t expected so much. The plot, characters, everything seemed poorly done. It’s been quite a while since I read this, so I can’t go into much more detail, but I know that this book was the bane of my existence for a few days in middle school. Although I didn’t throw this one myself, I did witness my science teacher throw a copy of it across the room when I told her I hated it. Thanks, Ms. N.
  2. Swordbird by Nancy Yi Fan. I’m just begging for rotten fruit to be thrown at me by including this one on the list. Nancy was 12 years old when this one was published, making her a common teen author idol. The book was good enough–perhaps a high average. I was frustrated by this one because of pure, raw, teen-angsty jealousy. The only reason I did slam this book down when I’d finished and not, for example, Eragon, was because there were some aspects I disliked rather than none at all. I’m ashamed to include this one on the list, but I’m speaking for my past self here.
  3. Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede. How did I dislike thee? Let me count the ways…oh, this book.  I absolutely detested it. The characters were poorly drawn, the world-building was weak, and the action was so slow that when I got to the end, I hadn’t realized that the climax had already happened. Some folks absolutely adore Wrede’s work, but I won’t be getting another one of her books. When I threw this book down, it was more out of relief that I’d finished than anything.
  4. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan. I used to be completely and utterly infatuated with Riordan’s work. I still have a soft spot for the PJatO series and the various derivatives, but I haven’t read any more of it since this one. I thought everything was going to be merry and bright when the young demigods made it back to Camp Half-Blood, but no–we have to reveal a horrible truth in the last sentence of the book. Riordan fans, you know what I’m talking about. I said “NO!” about five times before it finally sank in that the book was over on that sour note. I then went into a phase of pseudo-depression for about a week before I got over it.
  5. Mastiff by Tamora Pierce. This book, too, was tossed down on the bed and moped about because of the ending. *SPOILER ALERT* I waited six months for my pre-ordered copy of this series conclusion to come, barely able to wait for Rosto and Beka to finally declare their mutual love. And what do we get? Some random mage dude instead. *END SPOILER ZONE* I really think Pierce could have done better with that. Authors, you can only cross us fangirls so many times before we get upset. Your book might just end up wedged in somebody’s bedroom wall.

Want to follow our blog tour? Here are the participating parties, day by day

January 5 –— From My Head
January 6 – — Comfy Sweaters, Writing and Fish
January 7 – — Laugh A Blog
January 8– — Tay’s Tape
January 9 – — Esther Victoria1996
January 10– — The Word Asylum
January 11– — Kirsten Writes!
January 12– — A Farewell to Sanity
January 13 – — Red Herring Online
January 14– — Here’s To Us
January 15–– The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer
January 16– –Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)




Posted by on January 14, 2012 in Book Rambles


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How To Make a Monster

This post is for the Teens Can Write Too! blog chain. This month’s prompt was:

How do you develop and relate to your characters?”

To come up with characters, I have a fairly static system. I call it P.L.A.N., the criteria being placed in order of importance, like so:

  1. Purpose: Why does one come up with a character in the first place? So he, she, or it (I’ll be using “she” for ease of typing for the rest of this post) and can carry out the action of a story, of course. The first thing I need to think about when developing a character is her purpose in the plot. Whether it’s to fulfill a long-lost prophecy or bully the protagonist in the cafeteria, a character’s reason for being is always the most important and easiest thing about her to come up with.
  2. Looks: A character’s physical features help determine what readers think of her. They can tell a lot about her background and can add to the story’s atmosphere. They also give readers an automatic evaluation of the character. Even a reader above stereotyping is going to have a different opinion of a character, who, say, has died-black hair and a nose piercing than of a character wearing a cheerleading uniform and pink eye shadow.
  3. Attitude: Basically, this is a character’s personality, but I call it attitude so the character development system forms a coherent acronym. This is fairly self-explanatory.  It includes how a character reacts to a situation, her morals, how she acts with other character, how she speaks, and her interests. This is the most likely to change element of a character. I revise character’s personalities constantly, almost obsessively. Is she turning into a Mary Sue? Or is she so flawed that readers won’t give a crap about her? I’d even go so far as to say that I’m usually insecure about my characters’ personalities.
  4. Name: Although I often come up with a character’s name before numbers two and three, it is the least important thing about a character, at least to me. Names can be interpreted in different ways. Say this arbitrary character I’ve been talking about is named Antoinette. Maybe her parents are French, or maybe they’re just francophiles. Perhaps they’re professors of history who were studying the French Revolution at the time of her birth–though if this were the case, I would be convinced that these parents must also have a love of the macabre, considering the lovely Queen’s bloody fate. My favorite resource for names is this–it provides the most comprehensive name search I’ve found. I also have a baby names book that I use for instant reference or when the Internet is down.

All of this is a rather dull and commonplace explanation of how I invent my characters. The second half of the question, relation, is where things get very interesting. I’m sure you longtime readers have heard the following tale multiple times, but for the newbies stopping by for the chain, here it is once again:

I was in the midst of one of my hardcore multi-thousand word writing sessions usually taking place on weekends. The hour was late, nearly 11 PM, but I was really into the groove, and the momentum my fingers had picked up on the keyboard would probably have been difficult to stop anyway. My handy plot map now directed me to set my merry band of characters on the run from The Bad Guys, and I complied. As I wrote of their desperate bid for freedom, I found myself noticing how tired they must be getting, how cold, how thirsty. Their boots would be soaked through, because, like in any good fantasy novel, it was snowing. I was bone-tired myself, but I could not bear to let the gang suffer. Therefore, I stayed up past midnight getting them safely to their destination. Only once they found a proper tavern in which they could have a bit of mead and get some shut-eye did I go to bed myself.

All this may sound like I’m over-indulgent of my little creations. In fact, I’d like to say quite the opposite, because there’s rarely a moment in my stories during which the protag or one of her sidekicks is suffering emotional and/or physical pain. As Gail Carson Levine writes in her handy guide for younger writers, Writing Magic (allow me to detour briefly by saying that, years after procuring this little volume and following its advice religiously, it still holds a treasured place on my bookshelf), making your characters suffer is what makes the story interesting. Don’t accuse me of not letting my characters suffer sufficiently, because they sure as Hades do.

It’s just that those perfectly annoying little figments worm their way into my mind, my soul, until they’re more than figments. They become real to me, more real than any character whose story I’ve read or watched, and, in a strange way, more real than myself. Creating characters puts my mind on a whole other level of reality. Sometimes I feel like the suffering I put them through isn’t exactly my fault, because it’s “part of the story.”

But that story came out of my head, and so did the characters! My characters are monsters, each and every one–from the evil overlord to the barmaid, they become a part of me, and refuse to let go. It’s a love-hate relationship. They suffer, I feel bad about it sometimes (I cried when I killed off a certain character), but feeling for characters so deeply, and in such a complex way, sure makes for a good story.

Want to follow our blog tour? Here are the participating parties, day by day

December 5– — Comfy Sweaters, Writing and Fish

December 6– — Tay’s Tape

December 7– — This Page Intentionally Left Blank

December 8– — Embracing Insanity

December 9– — Novel Journeys

December 10– — Crazy Socks and Ninja Bunnies

December 11– — Kirsten Writes!

December 12– — The Land of Man-Eating Pixies

December 13– — A Farewell to Sanity

December 14– — Esther Victoria1996

December 15– — The Word Asylum

December 16– — Teenage Reader

December 17– — Missy Biozarre, Young Adult Author

December 18– — Red Herring Online

December 19–– The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer

December 20– — Here’s To Us

December 21– –Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)



Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Writing


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Just in case you haven’t seen the HG trailer yet…(and other notes)

Other Notes

First off, the Teens Can Write, Too blog chain (which is co-hosted by yours truly) is currently scheduling participants for the December chain. If you’re a teen or are in your early twenties and have a blog, automatically making you a writer, you should check out the chain and get involved! You can get more information and sign up here.

Secondly, John Hansen is hosting a contest over on his blog, The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer, in celebration of his 50th follower (congrats, John!). This little contest has already collected its entries–six-sentence stories from his readers–and is now in the voting stage. There are some great stories to be picked over and voted on, and it’ll only take a few minutes, so why not head over and take a look here? (Psst…vote for mine. Except I can’t tell you which one is mine, as they’re all anonymous. Oh…just vote.)


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Fads, Evil Thistles, and Surprisingly Bad Grammar

This post is for the November 2011 Teens Can Write Too! blog chain. This month’s prompt was:

“What are the wackiest, funniest, most disturbing search terms anyone has ever used to find your blog?”

I need to stop looking at the search terms used to find my blog; I’m only creeping myself out. Most of the search terms used to find my blog are perfectly mundane (titles of books and the like), but there are a few real gems. They’re not particularly disturbing, but they make me wonder about the types of people who accidently landed on this blog. Here are a few that made me laugh, twitch, and/or look twice.

ancient people with rocks–Yes, I do believe that ancient people had rocks. They came pre-made.

tamora queen of the goths–Are we talking about the ancient Goths who sacked Rome, or the modern type who hang around malls wearing all black, white, and red?

the w on the cover of witches and wizards–I think you mean “Witch & Wizard.” As for the “W,” it’s on fire, it’s orange, and it has human faces protruding from it.

evil thistle plant–Now I have an image stuck in my head of thistles coming to life and beating us all to death with their purple poofy flowers.

why chocolate is so amazing–I personally can’t see why anyone needs to ask this. Chocolate just is.

good replies to “here’s to us” email–The best I can decipher this one is that there is a chain or spam email going around with the subject line saying “here’s to us.” How dare they steal my blog title?!

fads right now–Look around you: Uggs, Justin Bieber, and kitten videos. These are dark times, my friends.

edger allen poe–I was starting to worry this person was going to spell his last name incorrectly, as well.

official illusions–Is there a National Registry of Illusions? I’d like to know.

2 girls did photos of fake fairies–So they did. It’s a fascinating tale.

horus acrostic poem–Sorry, but I’m not the best source of information on ancient Egyptian literature. Why don’t you consult your local library?

funny witch quotes–Quotes about witches, by witches, or directed at witches? And they have to be funny? You’re much too demanding, anonymous search person.

i am number four figurative language–I’m happy to know that some people still pay attention to literary devices.

stonehenge chain link fence–I’m just not quite sure about this one.

messy homework–Well, it happens sometimes, especially if you save it for the bus ride to school.

We were also asked to write a little bit about our NaNoWriMo projects or current novels for the blog chain.I’m not a NaNoWriMo participant, but I have vowed to try and finish my current WIP by the end of November. The first draft was finished a long time ago, but it’s simply abominable, so I’m doing a total rewrite, which is currently at about 76,000 words. It’s a YA fantasy of the medieval-epic style, but I’d like to say it’s less of an idealized “high” fantasy as a harsher, underworld fantasy. There aren’t any supervillains, but there aren’t any superheroes, either.

Want to follow our blog chain? Here are the participating parties in order.

November 5th — – Kirsten Writes!

November 6th — – A Farewell To Sanity

November 7th — – Eat, Sleep, Write, Repeat

November 8th — – Embracing Insanity

November 9th — – Novel Journeys

November 10th —- – Red Herring Online

November 11th — – Tay’s Tape

November 12th — – The Land of Man-Eating Pixies

November 13th – – Random On My Mind!

November 14th – – This Page Intentionally Left Blank

November 15th — – Here’s To Us

November 16th— –  The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer

November 17th — – Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for the next month’s chain)


Posted by on November 15, 2011 in Interwebs, Etc., Writing


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