Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Writerly Reading List

In the past year or so, I have gotten serious about writing.  Since then, I have also started reading more. I have met new people (mostly over the internet), and I have learned a lot.  My life has been very different.  A lot more hours go into reading and writing, blogging, and chatting with my internet buddies.

I have mentioned before that one of the keys to becoming a better writer is reading.  It really is.  You are admiring the work of someone like you who has experience.  You learn from them.  So, in this post, I thought I would give a list of books that writers should read.  Books where their authors have nearly mastered the complicated art of writing.  A Writerly Reading List.

1. Out of Time Series by Nadine Brandes

A Time to Die

2. The Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight


The King's Scrolls

3. The Makilien Trilogy by Molly Evangeline




4. The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit

Lord of the Rings

8. Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elizabeth Stengl
Veiled Rose
Goddess Tithe
Golden Daughter
Dragon's Light
I haven't actually read these, but I have heard great things from my other friends who have! (I am not going attach all the covers for Tales of Goldstone Wood because the series is so long.)

A Time to Die Book Review

I just finished reading this awesome book today!  I thought I would review on it... to share it's awesomeness with you all.  Don't worry, no spoilers! xD  (I have never written a review before, so bare with me...)

About the Book:

How would you live if you knew the day you’d die? 

Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system. But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her Clock is running out.

My Review:

Overall - This book was a definite must read.  It involves dystopian government, Christianity, and finding your purpose through a supensful plot.  This story keeps you on your toes, and is very unpredictable.  I adore Nadine Brandes style, and she does a fantastic job at writing the main character from a first person perspective (which can be difficult).  Nadine's voice really does speak through this novel.

I have to say, Nadine, I am dying to read the second book, A Time to Speak.  Can it come soon enough???

Plot - Since I am being completely honest in this review, I have to say it was a little slow to start.  She got into the story pretty quick, but it didn't get really suspensful until about 50 pages in.  After getting to that point, it took me two days to finish it.  Enough said?

There were some plot twists throughout the story, which kept it very exciting.  The plot was also realistic.  When I say that, I mean it could really happen in that world.  So based on that world it was realistic.

There were also small subplots that had to do with the other characters.  But, they were connected to the main plot in some distinct way.

Nadine also left questions that weren't answered until the end.  This left me guessing, and wanting to keep reading to find out more.

Characters - YES! YES! YES!  The main character felt so real... so human.  She was a perfect example of human nature and their relationship with God.  The book was written in first person (as I have already mentioned), so you really need to have character development down.  You need to be able to know this character almost as well as you know yourself.  The author clearly knew this character like the palm of her hand.  

About the Author:

Nadine Brandes learned to write her alphabet with a fountain pen.
In Kindergarten.

Cool, right? She dealt with ink splotches before even knowing how to spell. She never decided to become a writer. Her brain simply classified it as a necessity to life -- like bathing, eating, and sleeping.

Nadine is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination.

When she's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, Nadine is out traveling, finding new music, and pursuing active life.

Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, released Fall 2014 from Enclave Publishing.

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Writing Process: On Each Step

The writing process is very familiar to every writer.  There are three basic steps: planning, drafting, and editing.  Today, I am going to talk about the steps and what I do when.  You may do it differently, and that is fine, I am just sharing how I take the process.  Remember, every writer is unique!

1. Planning.  Okay, let's talk planning.  I would say it is one of my favorite parts of the whole writing process.  This is where your plot idea really comes into shape.  It finally gets out of your head and onto paper. 

I usually do two stages of planning.  On before starting the first draft, and another before editing.  First, I will talk about the planning before writing the first draft.

After I have the idea semi-formulated in my head, I bring it out on paper.  I basically write down a paragraph about basic plot and what is going to happen.  I just use MC for Main Character and villain at this stage.  Then, I take it to the next level.  I make a basic outline.  I use the Three-Act Structure, which I read about from Go Teen Writers (If you want to know more, go here).  For Galaxy Connectors, I even went as far to make a graph of it (This part isn't necessary,, I just did it for the visual aid).  I evaluate what I have done so far, and make appropriate changes.  There are still "holes" in the outline, where I can let my imagination run wild in the 1st draft.  This also keep me more into the story while I am writing. 

Now, that I have an outline, I do world-building and character development.  I won't go too much into detail on these.  Maybe in another post.

After that, I say I am pretty much done with the first planning stage.

2. Drafting.  In drafting, I would follow my basic outline.  As I mentioned earlier, I would fill in the holes in the outline.  The most important thing to remember when drafting is that it doesn't have to be perfect.  It is just the backbone of the story.  There will be flaws, chinks, and mistakes.  I look at drafting as a 50,000 word outline.  A very detailed outline. 

3. Editing.  This is where the real writing happens.  Although, this is the step that a lot of writers dread.  So, first I would read through your story first draft once or twice and take notes as you go.  This will help you know what major things to address.  This isn't for grammar or spelling.  I am talking about plot issues.  Maybe your MC does something totally out of character, or something happens that just doesn't work with the plot.  Then, you want to go back and fix those changes.  Also, if your world needs more detail or something, you can plan a little more.  Then, you can go back and fix grammar errors and perfect (or almost) your book. XD

Please vote in my poll on the right and tell my how you like this post!

 - Mickayla <3

Saturday, June 6, 2015

6 Tips to Make Your Reader Not Put Your Book Down - Part 2

...Now for Part 2 of the my 6 tips.  Enjoy!

4. Introduce unanswered questions at the beginning of the story, but don't answer them until the end.  The questions can be connected to your main plot or a side plot, you just want to make the reader want to find the answers to the questions.  Try to keep bringing them up throughout the book, and even give clues for the reader to piece together.  You want the reader to have little mysteries to think about when they aren't reading the book.  That will make them want to come back and read the book ASAP.

5. Step back and look at your book from the reader's point of view.  This can help you know what you still need to put in your book to make it more exciting.  If you haven't noticed, I have written both of my posts from mostly this perspective.  Ask yourself these questions:
         - Does it have a strong grabber?
         - Does it have a good cliffhanger at the end of most chapters?
         - Is it unpredictable?
         - Does it have questions that make you want to finish the book?
         - Would this book stand out to me in the library or at a bookstore?
         - Would I stay into this book?

6. Read other books that you don't want to put down.  A lot of writers tell you to read, read, and read.  You can add me to that list.  I think that you can get so much advice from other published authors and their books.  Analyze the book using the same questions.  Learn from authors who have already mastered the craft of writing.

Well, that's all!  I hope you enjoyed the 2 part post!  Tell me how you liked it in the poll to the right!  Thank you XD

- Mickayla



Friday, June 5, 2015

6 Tips to Making Your Readers Not Want to Put Your Book Down - Part 1

When I read, I like a book that I don't want to put down (although I don't really think my family does XD).  If it doesn't keep me in the story, I often won't even finish the book.  So, as a writer, I have made it a priority to keep my story interesting, so the reader wants to keep reading your book.

1. Start you story with a good grabber.  I would say this is one of the most important parts of writing your book.  I usually don't worry about it too much in writing my first draft, but address it more in editing.  Creating a good grabber can make your reader want to buy your book from the bookstore, or rent it from the library. 

When I am at the library (for example), I look at three things before I check out the book.  I look at the cover (I admit that I do judge a book by it's cover.), the synopsis, and the first couple pages.  I do it in that exact order.  If it passes the first test (the cover), then I move on the synopsis.  If it passes that, I read the first couple pages.

So, as you can see, a grabber is really important.  It can be as little as a strange sound to start out the story, or more of a preclude that leaves the reader with aching questions that need to be answered.

Also, don't take forever to get into the story.  In a typical story, it starts out with the main character's normal day life.  I have made the mistake of trying to draw out my beginning.  The faster you get into the chunk of the plot, the better.

2. Make a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter.  Some readers, will read a chapter, then put the book down and do something else.  Mostly, it is because the reader doesn't have time to sit around all day and read.  When people do that, you want to leave them with an aching feeling to read the next chapter. 

When I read a good book, I just read chapter after chapter.  I could stay up all night reading a book that has cliffhangers at the end of each chapter. 

You can end it with a villain laughing in his evil way over a trap he set for your MC (this is one of my favorites XD), or something jumping out at your characters, or new information that has just been shared.

When I write my first draft, however, I don't really worry about chapters.  I just write.  So, setting cliffhangers will fall in editing.  But, whatever stage of the writing process you do it in, the most important thing is to leave the reader wanting to flip the page and read the next chapter.

3. Keep your plot unpredictable.  This is really important when I read a book.  If the plot is too predictable, then the story seems boring.  In planning, I try to make at least one major plot twist, and a couple small ones.  Even though, I may know how the story will end, I leave space for me to add twists that even I wasn't expecting.  This keeps me on my toes as a writer.  This effect can then rub off on your reader.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Please vote on my poll on the right to tell me how you liked the post!  Notice how I am leaving you hanging for Part 2?  Come back tomorrow for the last 3 tips!

- Mickayla

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Liebster Award

I have been awarded by Alea at Elvish Pens, Fantastical Writings and Katie at A Writer's Faith!  Thank you both very much!

Rules for the Liebster Award:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog.
2. Give your readers 11 random facts about yourself.
3. Answer the 11 questions from the blog who nominated you.
4. Nominate 11 bloggers to receive this award.
5. Come up with 11 questions for your nominees.

11 Random Facts about Myself:

1. I am horse-crazy!
2. I am a sponsored archer.
3. I remember my first time "hunting" when I was 2. (Hunting is in quotes because I wasn't really hunting, I was just sitting with my Dad watching for deer.  I guess the correct term would be scouting.)
4. I am currently reading Every Tear by Molly Evangeline.  (This book is amazing and definitely a must-read!)
5. My favorite board game is Scotland Yard.  (If you haven't heard of this game, you should look it up.  It is super fun and a great family game!)
6. My desk is covered in Bible versus and encouraging sayings.
7. I am an extrovert.  Definitely.
8. I get obsessed over one word sentences.  (Really random, right? Notice the reference above...)
9. I am pretty random.  (Do you think that I am running out of ideas yet?)
10. This year I am doing a Lord of the Rings English curriculum, which I am super excited about!
11. I have been to Night of Joy (A huge Christian concert at Disney World) for the past 2 years.  I hope to go this year as well!  (If you are thinking about going, it is so worth it!)

*wipes sweat from forehead* Boy, am I glad that's over.

11 Questions from Alea:

1. Why did you name your blog what you did?
Oh, good question.  Well, first of all, I wanted something unique.  I also was looking for something that involved both writing and drawing.  So, I came up with Pencils Can Change the World.  I knew it was perfect.  It sounded intriguing, and unique.
2. Do you have a posting schedule?
I wish.  Yeah, I tried that and it didn't work out too well.  Although, I do try and set a goal to post once a week.  Lately, that hasn't been going over too well, but I am hoping extra spare time in the summer will help me out with that.
3. Do you like pizza?
I LOVE PIZZA!!!  (I mean, who doesn't?)
4. What is your favorite book (or book series)?
That is a tough one.  I would probably have to go with the Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight.  Although, the book series is not complete, the first two books have proven the book series is my favorite!
5. Have you ever fangirled about your own writing?
I have.  And it was actually just yesterday.  I was shipping two of my characters. XD
6. Are you on Pinterest?
Yes.  I don't pin a whole lot, but it can be really helpful when planning for your book.
7. Do you play a musical instrument?  If so, what do you play?
Yes, I play guitar. (I am not very good, but YouTube is helping me with it XD)
8. What kind of music do you like?
Mostly Contemporary Christian.
9. Have you ever tried a tutorial from the Internet and had it backfire or not work?  (If so please share the story!)
Yes.  My sister and I found this homemade DIY projecter, with a shoebox and an iPod.  After a couple hours of changing the size of the hole and the distance of the device to the hole, we gave up.  My Dad felt really bad about how frustrated we were, so he ended up getting us a projector for Christmas that year. 
10. Do you like to swim?
I do!  I just recently moved to a house with a pool, and now that it is summer, I have been swimming a lot. 
11. If any fictional character could be your best friend, who would it be?
Either my MC from my WIP, or Jace from Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight.  But, I wouldn't want them to replace my awesome best friend!

11 Questions from Katie:
1. Why do you write?
Hmm... I write because it let's me build my own world and my own story.  I wouldn't say it is out of self-pity, but the life I create for my characters is often more interesting than my own life.  Also, I want to write something that I could turn around and read.
2. If any fictional character could be your best friend, who would it be?
I already answered the question above, but I will copy the answer in again.  Either my MC from my WIP, or Jace from Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight.  But, I wouldn't want them to replace my awesome best friend!
3. What's one really weird dream you've had?
All my friend's were littlest pet shops. XD (Trust me, I was really little.)
4. If you found a portal that could transport you to any fictional world of your choice, where would you go?
Can I mention more than one? Hehe.  My top would probably be Middle Earth, but I would also like to go to Narnia, Ilyon, and my own world.
5. Paperback or Kindle? Why?
I like paperback better.  Although, price-wise, I would prefer Kindle.  I really like to hold the pages in my hand and it is easier to look for a certain part in the book.
6. What's one post you've written that you're most proud of? 
Probably, Erasers: An Artist Best Friend.  You can read it here.
7. What's an interesting quirk that you have?
When I am really hyper, I talk in this really annoying and cute voice.  I drive my family crazy. XD
8. Can you share a picture of your bookshelf? (More commonly known as: a #shelfie.)
On the left are my pleasure books (don't worry, there are more behind) and on the right are my schoolbooks.
9. What are three things on your bucketlist? Or do you even have a bucketlist?
Three things on my bucketlist are go to a midnight movie premiere, see the hobbit houses in New Zealand, and live on a ranch.  You can look at the rest of my bucketlist on Pinterest here.
10. How old were you when you started writing?
Well, I started writing when I started school, but I started writing seriously at 11.
11. Share the last sentence of your WIP with us!
*cough* Do I have to? *cough*  Fine, here it is: How could I lose her now?  After all we have been through? (Yes, I realize that there are two sentences, but they fit together.)

My 11 Questions for You:

1. What inspired you to write?
2. What is your favorite Bible verse?
3. What is your favorite season of the year and why?
4. If you draw, paint, or do any form of art, can you share of picture of your favorite?
5. What book are you currently reading?
6. Do you listen to music while you write?  If so, what is your favorite?
7. Have you ever taken a fandom quiz?  If so, what was it for?  What were your results?
8. When you write, do you prefer to type it or hand-write it?
9. What is your favorite part of the writing process? (Ex. Planning, 1st Draft, Editing)
10. What is your favorite form of exercise?
11. What is one word that describes you?

I nominate:

T.W. Wright at Indonesia Around Me
Annabeth at Crumpled into a Blog
Laura at Laura's Sweet Treats
Tessa at Christ is Write

I can't think of 11 bloggers who have not already been nominated, so anyone else who wants to do this award is welcome!

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Key to Writing Faster

Today is my blogiversary!!!  Pencils Can Change the World is 1 year old.  Happy Birthday!

Okay, so I know I haven't posted very much lately, but I have a good excuse.  School.  I have been working hard to finish up the year and now I am finally done.  Hopefully, the extra spare time will help me post and write more.

Real quick, before I get into writing faster, I want to say, that I did win Camp NaNoWriMo (Super delayed results, right?).  Yes, I do realize it is June and camp was in April, but I just haven't gotten to say it until now.  Also, I am planning on doing another Camp NaNo in June, just on my own, since I will be on vacation half of July.

Now, on to my post.  Writing faster can be super helpful.  Your can get more words in a word war, which lengthens your story, which makes you finish yoru first draft faster.  Quite a plus, right?

Well, to be honest, I used to be a very slow writer.  In 10 minutes, I could write 150 words.  I couldn't set a really high word goal for NaNo because I didn't have that much time to spend.  That is when I read a post on another blog somewhere (I forget which blog this was).  Here are a couple tips I used for doubling my word count from 150 words to 300+ words in just ten minutes.

1. If you don't type "correctly", I would definetely suggest learning to type without looking at your keys.  This not only saves lots of time, but can help you with my second tip.

2. When you are typing out yor story, don't worry about typos.  Don't even look at your computer-screen or keys.  Look off into the distance.  Whether out a window, at a painting, or even closing your eyes.  After much practice, this can help you focus more on the scene (or even feel like you are in the scene) than the actual typing of it.  Tip: I usually go back after the word war and change the typos I may have done after each word war.

3. Don't worry about how cheesy the sentence may sound.  All of those dumb lines or cheesy, unexplained, dreadful sentences can be changed in editing. 

4. Another thing that helps me is planning out my scene in my head before writing it out.  This gives me a general idea before I start the word war, so I don't have to pause in the middle to figure out what happens next.

I really hope this helps!  I am also going to put a poll up so you can tell me how much these techniques helped you.  

One more thing before I close this post.  Jill Williamson, a published author, is looking for youth artists to enter into a contest.  The prize is one of your illustrations in her new published book, RoboTales: Tinker.  For more information, visit