Why Do I Write?

That is an excellent question and I’m not sure I can give a clear answer.
Some people write to share a story. Some people write to touch someone. Some people write to understand. Some write as catharsis. Some people write to tell a story that they would love. Some people write with hopes of fame and fortune.

All these reasons and more inspire men and women and children to put pen to paper.

So… why do I write?

I write because I cannot help it.

I write because it makes me miserable not to.

I write because I enjoy seeing people I created come alive.

I write because my favorite moments are when the story begins to write itself.

I write to distract myself from troubles of life.

I write because I want to one day be rich and famous (yes, yes, there are easier ways to get fame and fortune, but please don’t crush my dreams).

I write because I want to tell someone these stories, but I don’t want to make eye contact (kudos if you get that reference).

I write for the sheer addictive joy of it.

I write because I am afraid. Without writing, I do not know what I would do with my life.

I write for the joy of having a reader yell at me for an awesome plot twist.

I write because I cannot help it.

Ten years of writing has ingrained it into my soul. Without a notebook and a pen, I feel lost.

A Writer’s Life For Me

So. A few things:

One, this article from a pantser on writing everyday. This article is inspiring, at least to me. My own personal writing streak has been going since Sunday. I’m looking forward to seeing how long I can keep it up.

Two, the before mentioned article writer said he usually had multiple projects going at once, so that he can make his writing time as productive as possible. If he isn’t in the mood to work on one thing, he works on something else. Now, there are times when you just have to knuckle down, grit your teeth, and write through whatever it is. But for me, if I am not inspired or if I’m discouraged or if I’m convinced there’s something wrong, my productivity goes WAY down. (I haven’t quite figured out a cure-all for how to get past that, by the way. I could tell you a lot of things that have helped, though.) Back when I wasn’t trying to write for publication, I’d just not write for a few days and wait for either inspiration, excitement, solution, or a plot bunny to show up.

I don’t have that luxury now. I probably panic more than anything else when I hit a block or snag.

I don’t recommend panicking. I recommend you find a way to allow yourself to write a “bad” first draft. (No, I don’t know how to do that, either.) I further recommend you get used to the idea that editing is a long, long process, so you might as well enjoy it. (Don’t even ask. I know very little about how to enjoy editing.)

Okay, back to the point. If you ever look down at the very bottom of my blog, you will notice a word count meter. I’ve had one for my WIP Shifting Sands for a while now. If you look down at the footer now, you will actually see two meters.

I now have two WIPs.

As I said earlier, I cannot afford to not write for days as I wait for inspiration or for my subconsciousness to untangle a knot. As I’ve also said before on this blog, Shifting Sands has been giving me all kinds of problems. And as you may not know, the last month for me has rendered me unable to work on sorting out messes that the story has been giving me (Busy, busy, busy and then sick last week.).

So what’s wrong with Shifting Sands? Possibly nothing. Or maybe there’s just one problem and I haven’t figured out what it is yet. Maybe I just hate the style I’ve written it in and need to go back and fix that. Maybe I’m not ready to outline novels so intensely yet. Maybe it’s trying to type it instead of writing it in a notebook. Maybe I am just too worried that I’m going to mess it up. Suffice to say that writing that particular story has been giving me more grief than joy. And with writing, if you don’t love it, you need to evaluate why you’re doing it.

Well, I love writing usually. And I want to tell this story. But something I can’t put my finger on yet is wrong.

I went about three weeks without writing anything substantial– I was too busy and too tired. Ouch. That lead to guilt. And feeling like I absolutely had to write. It seemed like everyone else was being productive and there I was, trying to force words out for a story that I cringed reading parts of. And I was sick last week, so every problem with the story suddenly seemed larger.

On Saturday, I started playing with the idea of starting a new story. Not giving up Shifting Sands, just giving myself time for subconsciously sorting out the problems with it and releasing myself from worry of getting it right, and from the pressure I was feeling (as a reaction; I was not actually being pressured) from everyone else who was being productive and seemingly happily so. Besides, it could be something I wanted to write for eventual publication anyway, so I would still be “working”. So, Sunday I started L.A.S.E.R..

L.A.S.E.R. is urban fantasy, almost completely pantsed, and is being written in a notebook. So it’s pretty different from Shifting Sands.  And if/when I get stuck on L.A.S.E.R., I’ll flip back to Shifting Sands. I’m not saying it’s a perfect solution, but for now, it’s working.

And lastly, NaNoWriMo starts in just over two months. I have no idea what I shall attempt for the endeavor. I don’t even know that I will participate. Out of all the NaNos and Camp NaNos I’ve done since November of 2011 (six total), I’ve only had one successful one (November 2011). And by successful, I mean I wrote something that I actually finished and I didn’t drop out. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to participate in attempting to write 50k in one month; giving myself plotting headaches and euphoria when I’ve written 2k in a day (that is truly not sarcasm–being drunk on writing is an awesome feeling). The problem with the before mentioned sentence is that I have trouble keeping up with the 2k every day and 2k usually takes up everything I’ve planned (pantser, remember). Plus, a lot of my writing is trial and error. I have to start writing a story before I actually know if I want to write it and see it through (I don’t know why. I apparently don’t know a lot about what I’ve said in this post.). And at the rate I’m going, I may very well end up editing for NaNo (again) and that’s just not as fun. But I may yet participate. We’ll just have to see what happens.


So, what’s up with you guys? Any thoughts on having multiple projects at once? Any other thoughts on the article or writing streaks? Who is planning on doing NaNoWriMo? 

“Every individual is the architect of his own fortune.”

It’s time for Beautiful People, a monthly link-up hosted by The Notebook Sisters and Further Up and Further In!

Also, it’s time for Character Encounters, another monthly link-up hosted by Kendra at Knitted by God’s Plan.


They’re both ways for authors to get to know their characters.

So, I decided to combine them.


I blink up into the apple tree. A man clad in bright green is up there and he has a fiery orange bird on his shoulder. Not only is it odd that someone is in the tree, but that bird looks… like a phoenix.

The man sees me. He smiles a little. “Come on up, Robyn! There’s room.”

“Claudius? Is that you?” I start climbing up. “What are you doing here? You aren’t supposed to be time-traveling, yet.”

Claudius cocks his head. “Time-traveling?”

I wince. He’s not supposed to know that. “Never mind.” I sit on the branch on the opposite side of the tree. “How are you, Mavis?” The phoenix squawks then takes off to the sky.

“She’s not talkative,” Claudius replies. He looks around. “I wish these apples were ripe.”

“They will be soon enough. Hey, Claudius, since you’re here, would you mind if I ask you a few questions?” I pull out a notebook. I had written down some questions to think through. But I hadn’t actually expected to meet my character face to face.

He gives me a strange look. “Don’t you already know everything about me? You are my author, aren’t you?”

I have to keep myself from snorting. “I wish that I did know everything about you. But I don’t. So can we talk?” I pull out my pen hopefully.

He shrugs. “Sure.”

“So, what do you regret the most in your life?”

Claudius’s eyes grow huge. “That’s a very deep question for a discussion in an apple tree. But… I’d have to say that I regret not taking my sister with me when I left my home a few years back.”

“You have a sister?”


I write down what he says.

 “What is your happiest memory?”

“Um… I’m not sure. Probably when I found Mavis. She’s a good friend. She’s good at getting rid of ducks.”

“Yeah, you’re not fond of ducks, are you?”

“They’re a nuisance!”

Before he can begin a rant about ducks, I ask the next question. “What’s your sorrowful memory?”

“The death of my parents. But can we not talk about that now?”

“What majorly gets on your nerves?”

“What annoys me? I don’t know. I’m usually pretty easy-going. But I’d have to say that Sand-Wizards forgetting their jenfoil annoys me. No jenfoil, no sand power. And they know they need it.”

“Do you act differently when you’re around people as opposed to being alone?”
“I think everyone does. But the difference isn’t that great for me. I tend to talk to myself when I’m alone. And the only times I’m alone is usually when  something is wrong. I almost always have Mavis with me. So I’m usually trying to talk out a problem. Other than that, I think I also feel more relaxed when I’m alone. There’s a lot of pressure to being a Sand-Wizard overseer.”
“What are your beliefs and superstitions?”
Claudius is silent for a few minutes, a thoughtful expression on his face. “All of them?”
“Are there a lot?”
“No, but I don’t… it’s hard to describe what exactly I believe right now. As for superstitions, I’m in the habit of sprinkling salt on the threshold and windowsill of my room.”
“To keep away demons or Fey or something?” I don’t remember planning demons or even Fey for this particular story.
Claudius shakes his head, much to my relief. “To keep away sand dragons. They don’t like salt. Which is only partially a superstition.”
“What are your catchphrases, or things you say frequently?”
“You don’t want me to talk about my swearing habit, do you?”
“Nope. Let’s move on.”
“Are you more prone to facing fears or running from them?”
“These are very probing and personal questions.” He runs his fingers over the tree bark. “In a way, I guess I run from my fears. But I try to do what I feel has to be done.”
“Do you have a good self-image?”
“Um… yes, I suppose. I mean, I’m good, I think… this is a complicated question to answer. “
“Do you turn to people when you’re upset, or do you isolate yourself?”
“Again, I am very rarely completely alone. But when I’m upset, I tend to conceal my feelings and finish whatever duty I’m working on at the time. Then I isolate myself, though that isolation includes Mavis.”
“You do not completely conceal your feelings.”
“Your swearing habit.”
“That depends on your definition of upset. When I’m sad, I conceal and then deal with it later. Angry or very frustrated… I swear and then try to shove my feelings down. Want to know another regret I have? I wish I hadn’t gotten into the habit of swearing.”
“I was a bit surprised to find out about that habit myself. But at least you’re flawed.”
Claudius gives me another odd look. “That’s a good thing?”
I look down at the last question in my notebook: If they were standing next to you would it make you laugh or cry?” That’s not exactly a question I can directly ask Claudius. That’s actually question for me.
I look up to see Claudius staring at my notebook. “You have nice handwriting.”
I smile.”Thank you.”
“Claire can’t read, you know.”
I nod.
“So?” he asks.
“So… what?”
“Do I make you laugh or cry?”
I grin. “Laugh.” I reply.
Claudius smiles back at me as Mavis lands on his shoulder again. I blink and they are gone. And I am still in the tree, surrounded by apples that are not yet ripe.
 (Sorry for the weird formatting. I have no idea what’s going on or how to fix it.)

A Sneaky Peek

Shifting Sands is going quite well. A bit slow, but that’s half my fault and half the fact that I can’t type very quickly. I am working on remedying both problems. But I’m excited about the story and everything is going well…

Who wants snippets?

If you have any helpful criticism (though I don’t know how you possibly could without the rest of the context the snippet is in), feel free to leave it in the comments. Enjoy.


Sandstorms almost never came to Kathos.


“Are you okay? Let me help you up.” Claire squinted and looked up to see a someone wearing bright green. A hood covered most of his face and a pair of goggles protected his eyes. A Sand-Wizard and judging by the voice, a man. His hand was outstretched to her, waiting for her to grab it and pull up. Even though she had always been awed by these people and had wanted to see them in action, she hesitated before taking the Sand-Wizard’s hand. She stood up and gasped as a fresh spasm of pain burst in her ankle.

“Come with me.” The man put one arm around Claire’s shoulders to steady her. She put an arm around his shoulders as best as she could; he was about a foot taller than her. With his help, Claire limped toward a building.

As they walked, Claire noticed that there wasn’t any sand blowing around them. She looked up at the Sand-Wizard. He must be the reason the sand stopped, he was controlling it. The man glanced at her and their eyes met. She blushed and turned away.


Claire’s parents had hidden her from the Ministry. They didn’t believe in the Hingut religion, but to say so or to try to leave the cult was almost asking to be tortured and possibly executed. No one could leave. No one could doubt. Anyone who tried was made an example. Claire’s parents were considered lucky that all that had happened to them for hiding her was that she was just given to the Ministry.

Lucky? To have their daughter taken from them forever?


“But Claire Mariel,” the High Priest smiled again, “This is an honor— the biggest honor a novice can ever hope to receive. Why wouldn’t you want to do this?”

“Because I’ll die. Please, is there no way someone else can do this or that I can buy my way out?”

“We all die eventually. This is just an honorable way.”

“With all due respect,” a hint of iciness edged into her voice, “this is still a death sentence, no matter how you try to hide it in all your talk of honor. The Chosen still dies, no matter how you dress it up and gloss over it.”


Claudius stood in front of her, arms crossed and a frown on his face. This was her first chance to get a good look at him. His hair was dark brown, a striking contrast to her blond. They both had gray-blue eyes, but hers were merely overcast skies while his eyes were already infused with the storm. His face was angular and his shoulders broad. The impression he gave Claire was strength.

And irritation. Claudius was definitely irritated with her.



Plot Bunnies

Boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew!

No, wait, that’s potatoes…

Plot bunnies are adorable ideas that usually show up when you’re already working on a story. They try to lure you away from your WIP to write their story. They won’t leave you alone. And when you go to actually write them, they more often than not abandon you without leaving even an inkling. But sometimes, plot bunnies are honest and loyal.

There are usually two ways that people react to a plot bunny visit.


The first reaction is almost a rational one. “I love this idea and I want it but I already have a project and this bunny won’t leave me alone!”
The second one goes hopping off happily after the bunny, dropping everything else.

Neither of these are actually good reactions. Because, as I’ve said, plot bunnies can be good and friendly. But you can’t just drop everything to chase it to find out. And it’ll just torture you to have it bugging you day in and day out as you try to ignore it long enough to get your real WIP done.

So, what should you do? How do you properly catch a plot bunny so it won’t bother you but so you don’t lose what is possibly a good bunny?

My personal capture method is writing the bunny down. I have a whole notebook devoted to plot bunnies and I also have a folder on Microsoft One Note. In these, I write down the plot bunnies, concept bunnies, itty-bitty thought bunnies that I have for stories. Gotta catch ’em all.

Then I leave the bunnies alone.

Seriously, I leave the bunnies alone. When I need an idea, I go back to the notebook or folder. But it won’t do me any good if I keep checking on them and feeding them magic carrots. They’ll just want to keep eating and growing and then eventually devour you (metaphorically). When I write them down for later, they leave me alone. Sometimes entirely. But the ones that have abandoned me aren’t good for my stories, anyway.

Also, I have recently learned that I need more to my stories than just an idea. Sure, that’s inspiration and a spark, but Shifting Sands is turning out really well for all the planning and outlining and false starts I’ve done. So going after any idea right away isn’t a good idea. I need to let it simmer and figure out if I actually have a whole enough story.  (It seems I’ve been converted to outlining during the last few weeks.)

Are you being plagued by bunnies? Have you figured out another method short of a Poké Ball for containing them? Let me know in the comments!



Quick Post

Just a quick post to let you know that I’m alive and I haven’t forgotten about you. There will be awesomeness in the future, I promise.

My blogging friend Kendra E. Ardek is having a blog party. She’s blogging for five years and has been published for three! I will be participating in some character interviews (and maybe a game or two) here in the next week.

Camp NaNo…

Truth is, I made a big mistake right at the beginning of Camp. I don’t think I have ever finished a NaNo anything with the same word count goal I started with. So when I lowered from 30k to 25k right at the beginning, I didn’t think it was a big deal. But it was. Yes, I was just trying to give myself some slack, but instead I created apathy toward Camp.

But not apathy toward the story. Shifting Sands is now almost 4k. Three chapters done. And they are some of the best chapters I’ve ever written (in my humble current opinion). I have learned a lot during the writes and rewrites of this one. I’m thinking about digging into writing mechanics here soon.

Also, I’m also thinking about starting a question day. One a week or every two weeks, I answer five questions. There’s a 55 book questions tag (five at a time = 11 posts) and I was just nominated for a blog award that, coincidently, also asks five questions.

I’m wondering about snippets… seriously considering it, in fact. What do you guys think?


(By the way, I can’t seem to get gifs or Pinterest pictures in my posts easily. Are there any WordPress users who could explain how to do this?)



I Hope I Don’t Sound Too Much Like an Infomercial

Little post. Again. But there has been three consecutive awesome posts. They can’t all be awesome.

First, the novel. Shifting Sands has been mostly an adventure in outlining, brainstorming, and YA noveling. (My processor says noveling is not a word. Well, what does it know?) Back to the point, I have written actually very little in comparison to all this outlining and it’s scattered between a notebook and a Scrivener document. I did not actually make it to the infamous page 30 in the notebook. But I highly doubt that I will give up on this novel. It’s too good a story.

Secondly, Go Teen Writers is having a 5-day long word war. Yes, I am participating.

Thirdly, ever heard of Swagbucks? It’s an online reward system.  You use their search engine and do other stuff to win points (I get almost all my points from the search engine). Then you can redeem the points for rewards (450 gets an $5 Amazon gift card). I redeem for the gift cards. The point? They do this thing called referring. You give the link to your friends, friends click the link and start using Swagbucks, and then you get 10% of the points they get. So… my referral link: swagbucks.com/refer/phaedrazephyrio   It works like this: http://blog.swagbucks.com/2014/01/new-referral-earning-opportunity.html. You can read more about the Swagbucks stuff on their site.

And if you sign up in the next few minutes, you’ll receive a free… 😉

So, that’s it. DFTBA.

Short, Sweet, To the Point


Going Postal is amazing!

Writing is going well. I’m over 6k now and close to that infamous 30 pages.

I’ve also introduced a character who I did not expect to be so very talkative as she is. And I also seem to have created the equivalent of Scotland in my world. Just from the way the talkative girl talks… she sounds like she’s from Scotland to me.

Claire has been acting like some sort of combination of Vin from Mistborn and Elsa from Frozen. Just a bit though. (No, she does not want to build a sandcastle.)

There may be snippets posted here soon.

Um… made homemade eggrolls this afternoon. Delicious, but very time consuming.

That’s really about it. I need to be getting off to bed.

Good night/morning/platypus to you. DFTBA.

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It’s Off to Work We Go…

You know what I want to do?

I want to write a work song for my story. We can probably blame this on an over-exposure to sea shanties of late (Hey-ho, Chicken on a Raft!), but still!

Sailors have work songs. The black slaves in early America had work songs. Lots of different careers have work songs, some of which are still well-known to us. (Cape Cod Girls, anyone?) (That actually may be another shanty… I think I’ve got a shanty-addiction.)

So! What goes into a work song? (This is by no means an all inconclusive list.)

It’s catchy. (Okay, that’s not mandatory, but I love spirituals and shanties and folk songs in general and they tend to be catchy to me, at least the upbeat ones. If I’m going to write a work song, it had better be catchy.)

A lot of them have a line that’s repeated as part of the chorus and part of the verses. Not all, but a lot.

Erie Canal, for example:

I’ve got a mule and her name is Sal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
She’s a good old worker and a good old pal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal

Blow the Man Down

Come all ye young fellows that follows the sea
To me, way hey, blow the man down
Now please pay attention and listen to me
Give me some time to blow the man down

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

I looked over Jordan and what did I see
Coming for to carry me home
A band of angels coming after me
Coming for to carry me home

Why? Because there’d be one person or group sing the first line and everyone else would reply back with the repeated line. It also gives freedom to make up new verses easily. For example:

Oh, I’ve got to go to bed real soon

Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal

Because I can’t sleep in till noon

Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal

Okay, that wasn’t great, but do you see what I mean?

Another thing I just realized: the repeated line often has some meaning to those singing it. Do you guys know what “chicken on a raft” is? It’s eggs on toast! “Fifteen miles” was originally “fifteen years” and that’s how long the mule worked on the Erie Canal.

So. My workers getting a work song are Sand-Wizards. They move sand all day (if any job ever needed a work song…). First thing I would do, is establish that repeated line and give it a meaning to the workers. Then the chorus. And then the verses.

And the verses of work songs can be about anything. Spirituals tend to have Christian meanings in the verses. Many shanties are about women (unfortunate, but true). And Cape Cod Girls… it’s basically just a fun song about fish guts. Which is really odd.

I leave you with a song about Dixie (which sounds like it’s about homesickness to me):

Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton,
Old times there are not forgotten,
Look away, look away, look away Dixie Land.

In Dixie Land, where I was born in,
early on one frosty mornin’,
Look away, look away, look away Dixie Land…

So, does anyone have a favorite folk song, shanty, spiritual, etc.?

You’re a Sand-Wizard, Claire…

(Disclaimer: I’ve never read or watched Harry Potter. But I couldn’t resist the chance to parody a famous line for a title.)

It’s time for Beautiful People, a monthly link-up hosted by The Notebook Sisters and Further Up and Further In. (There is a button for this, but I don’t know how to get it into the post. I’ll figure it out, eventually.) (Update: I figured it out! Obviously. Thanks, Jessy Jones, for explaining how to!)


So, this link-up is basically a character interview so writers can get to know their characters better. I’m feeling pretty confident about my WIP. I’m not scared of losing it. So…

Yep. You guys get a blurb for Shifting Sands and you get to meet my MC, Claire!


Blurb first:

In a world that is plagued by frequent sandstorms, there are people with powers to save everyone from the sands. Claire has just become one of them, a Sand-Wizard. But Claire was born into an inescapable cult that hates the government and despises Sand-Wizards. And the cult leaders have just chosen Claire as their traditional sacrifice. This isn’t an honor, it’s a death sentence– at least in Claire’s mind. She begs for a way out and is offered the choice of assassinating a Sand-Wizard leader instead. She goes undercover to do it. But the man turns out to be someone she can’t bring herself to do in. He’s been nothing but kind to her and has helped her learn to master her sand powers. But if he doesn’t die, she will. And the cult is breathing down her neck as the day for the sacrifice draws closer.

And now for the questions. (Help me out here, Claire. I’ll let you answer these questions in first person, if you want.)

1) What’s their favourite food? (Bonus: favourite flavour of chocolate!) Does ice count? No? Alright, fine. Sherbet. It’s pretty close to ice, at least in temperature, and it gets really hot here  in Kathos. And in the Edges. And pretty much anywhere you go in this desert. As for favorite flavor of chocolate, I’ve only had chocolate once in my whole life. It was in a cake. That was good.
2) What do they absolutely hate? The fact that I have not been allowed to see my parents since I was five. I’m sixteen, now. Such is the life of a novice priestess.
3) What do they enjoy learning about?  I really enjoy learning about being a Sand-Wizard. They’ve always fascinated me and now, I’m one. The power to control sand is amazing.
4) Who is the most influential person in their life? Believe it or not, my parents. I lived with them for the first five years of my life and during that time, they taught me everything they could. They shaped my beliefs, not the Hingutti leaders.
5) What is their childhood fear? Being Chosen to be Intervention has always scared me. Now I’ve had the horrible luck of actually being Chosen. If you want a normal fear, I’ve never liked the idea of scorpions. Or sand-dragons.
6) What is something they have always secretly dreamed of doing, but thought impossible? A lot of this is turning out to be about my life in the cult, isn’t it? I’ve always dreamed of leaving the Hingutti. Me and my parents. But we can’t. The Hingutti would hunt us down and make us examples. The other impossible thing I’ve dreamed of is one day having a family. But Hingutti priestesses are single. That kind of messes everything up.
7) What is something he is impractically afraid of? Thunder. I guess it’s not so much the thunder that scares me as it is the rain. We don’t get much rain here, but when we do, there is always the danger of a flood. I’ve been told there’s never been a flood in Kathos, so I really have nothing to worry about, but when it thunders, I can’t help thinking of flooding. Maybe I’m actually scared of drowning. Drowning in a desert…
8) Are they a night owl or morning person? Morning person. You have to be a morning person when you’re supposed to get up before dawn and clean the Temple. It’s never actually dirty, oddly enough. Probably because we clean it every morning.
9) Do they say everything that pops into their head, or leave a lot unsaid? Ha! Ahem. Sorry. If I said everything that pops into my head, I would be dead. Literally. Though, maybe I am a bit outspoken… You know, I’m not sure. Robyn?

10) What are their nervous habits? I don’t think I have a nervous habit. I’m nervous a lot so who could actually tell if I had one? (Robyn here. Claire blushes at the mention of a certain someone she’s supposed to assassinate. She also starts playing with her hair when she gets really nervous. Just starts twirling it…) I do? (Yes, you do. All of it.)


And that’s Claire! Thank you, Claire, for agreeing to answer these questions. You’ve been most helpful.

I agreed to this?

Yes, you did.

Robyn, does everything work out in the end of my story?

Define “work out”…