Mix-Tape Mondays: This Time With More Guitars

I’m sorry I’ve left you waiting so long, but never fear


are here!

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Mix-Tape Mondays: Very Violent Horses Edition


This week I wanted to do a more contemporary novel, and one I had reviewed on the site (no matter how useless my review was). I went with my favorite novel of 2011, a Printz nominee that was signed and doodled in by the author herself at the only book-signing I have ever attended in my life: Continue reading

Character Study: NaNoWriMo Prep, Pt. 1

NaNoWriMo is only four days away but I am itching to get writing. None of my words count before Nov. 1st, and I play fair, so I am letting all of that creative pressure build in hopes that once that starting gate opens I will be sprinting my way through writing my second novel.

There is still the matter of the itch, and since I am writing a sequel I though it behooved me to climb back into my characters minds and walk around for a bit before I try any running. To accomplish that I have found some character development questions that I’m going to answer for three significant characters in a manner as spoiler-free as possible.

Autumn Kavanaugh

  1. What’s your character’s favourite colour?Yellow
  2. Do they/would they choose to wear a scent? What would it be?Possibly. Something bright and fun but comforting, with fruity notes to it. Blackberry and vanilla. 
  3. Do they care about what things look like? All things, or only some?Not generally. She has a utilitarian approach to looks, where things need only look good “enough”. The bar for “enough” is set fairly low.
  4. What’s their favourite ice cream flavour? Strawberry.
  5. Are they a tea, or coffee drinker? Or soft drinks, or do they drink a lot of alcohol? What kind?Lemonade is her favorite drink, soda (Orange or Strawberry Fanta) a close second. She does not drink alcohol.
  6. What kind of books do they read? What TV shows and movies do they watch? She reads fiction, preferably funny. Nothing too dark. No crime novels or shows, no mysteries. She doesn’t like to read books or watch shows that use suffering for entertainment value. Enjoys novels of manners like those by Jane Austin, Henry James, Edith Wharton, and Thackeray. She likes musicals, and comedies with heart. She’d take Emily to watch Pitch Perfect and she’d buy Juno and the collected works of John Hughes. When watching TV she’d choose So You Think You Can Dance or The Big Bang Theory.
  7. What kind of music do they like? Do they like music at all? She loves music, particularly if it’s good for dancing. Favors punk, electronica, and sillier showtunes. She would definitely have “Gangnam Style”, Ellie Goulding’s albums, and be up on the latest developments in dubstep.
  8. If they were about to die, what would they have as their last meal? Fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, macaroni and cheese, and blueberry pie (that she probably made herself) for dessert. With lemonade to drink, of course.
  9. Are they hedonistic? In all cases? Or does practicality sometimes/always/often win out? Autumn is mostly practical, but at a point in her life where she is looking to think less to ignore some things that aren’t going so well. She’s trying hedonism on, but it doesn’t necessarily suit her. She’s inclined to be a bit of a martyr, though she doesn’t think of it that way.
  10. Do they have any philias or phobias? Fear of abandonment, and she’s not crazy about fire or loss of control (hence the avoidance of alcohol).


Emily Kavanaugh

  1. What’s your character’s favourite colour? Lavender

    She better keep this one well-hidden.

  2. Do they/would they choose to wear a scent? What would it be? Floral, with lots of white flowers like lilies or gardenias. Possibly a chocolate note.
  3. Do they care about what things look like? All things, or only some? Yes, very much. Emily is highly invested in things looking just the way they are “supposed to”, including herself…to the point that her expectations might not be strictly realistic.
  4. What’s their favourite ice cream flavour? Cherry Garcia
  5. Are they a tea, or coffee drinker? Or soft drinks, or do they drink a lot of alcohol? What kind? She drinks alcohol socially, when it is offered, but she doesn’t seek it out. Her favorite drink is hot chocolate (with a mound of whipped cream atop a flotilla of marshmallows). She drinks tea when she can get it, and root beer the rest of the time.
  6. What kind of books do they read? What TV shows and movies do they watch? She reads romance novels and fairy tale updates, though no one outside of her home knows that. She prefers the more outlandish romances, the ones with pirates and knights. Twilight is her bible.  Her taste in movies runs to romance as well, comedies are fine but she particularly likes the dramas. She’d be first in line for Breaking Dawn Pt. 2, watch Anna Karenina with her sister, and she owns well-worn copies of Titanic and Dirty Dancing. She’d watch Once Upon A Time and Vampire Diaries.
  7. What kind of music do they like? Do they like music at all? Pop, particularly ballads. Her Spotify would show Leona Lewis, Taylor Swift, and Celine Dion in heavy rotation. She likes “Someone Like You”, but not Adele’s other songs, and she thinks Carrie Underwood has too much attitude. Justin Beiber and One Direction would fulfill the dreamy boy requirement.
  8. If they were about to die, what would they have as their last meal? Lobster, with chocolate mousse for dessert.
  9. Are they hedonistic? In all cases? Or does practicality sometimes/always/often win out? She is. Emily lives almost entirely in service to her own pleasure, and she can rationalize most of her behavior to seem thought-out rather than based on a whim. Practicality does not win out because Emily doesn’t have much concept of what is practical.
  10. Do they have any philias or phobias? She is afraid of deprivation. She’s afraid of looking foolish or uncool.



  1. What’s your character’s favourite colour?He likes deep earthtones: oxblood, mohogany, and forest green…but he doesn’t really care enough to choose a favorite.
  2. Do they/would they choose to wear a scent? What would it be? His own natural musk.
  3. Do they care about what things look like? All things, or only some?In a low-key, binary way. Things are attractive/unattractive, cool/uncool, appealing/unappealing without a lot of shades in between. That is the degree to which it affects his decision-making. Want or do-not-want.
  4. What’s their favourite ice cream flavour? Dark Chocolate
  5. Are they a tea, or coffee drinker? Or soft drinks, or do they drink a lot of alcohol? What kind? He drinks quite a bit of alcohol, homemade wine and store-bought beer, though it doesn’t often show. He’s not big on coffee, soda, or tea, though he’ll take whatever’s offered and does go for the occasional glass of milk.
  6. What kind of books do they read? What TV shows and movies do they watch? He doesn’t read or watch TV much. He’s read the classics that pop up in conversation Romeo and Juliet, Of Mice and Men, etc. He’s read a couple of Nick Hornby books three-quarters of the way through before he got bored and moved on. Jeopardy!, horse racing on ESPN, and big cat documentaries can sometimes hold his interest. When he goes to the movies he chooses raunchy comedies like Project X or Superbad.
  7. What kind of music do they like? Do they like music at all? Looking at him one might guess Jason Mraz or Jack Johnson, but he actually leans more toward the tortured and disgruntled: Trent Reznor, Johnny Cash, and Black Flag pour from the speakers in his crappy Volkswagen.
  8. If they were about to die, what would they have as their last meal? Spicy sausage with peppers, a perfectly ripe orange, chili-cheese curly fries, some figs, and a chocolate milkshake all washed down with a bottle of cherry wine.
  9. Are they hedonistic? In all cases? Or does practicality sometimes/always/often win out?At his core, Silas is a hedonist. However, he can put that inclination aside for a time in order to focus on reaching a specific goal.
  10. Do they have any philias or phobias? He loves horse racing and the sensual pleasures: food, sex, music, you name it. He is afraid of losing the people he loves, and he keeps that circle small as a result.

I have yet to revise Grove, and I kind of knew that I should do an exercise like this before trying because these three characters were not as three-dimensional as I wanted them to be. This was pretty useful in for clarifying who they are, how they should have related to each other in Grove, and how they will relate in Starsand. Stay tuned for another installment of Character Study tomorrow!


The lovely Kirsten over at A Scenic Route has tagged me for the Next Big Thing meme! Now that I am done preening, I’m ready to answer ten questions about my unpublished manuscript.

1. What is the book’s title?

Grove. I am on the fence about whether or not it needs a definite article.

2. Where did the idea for the book come from?

I had this other book, a dating/personality-type book (I love those things, I will read them and decide what my friends are all day long), called Wood Nymph Seeks Centaur: A Mythological Dating Guide. Being a happily married lady, I read this book and contented myself with assigning types to my friends’ boyfriends and my ex-boyfriends. It seemed very clear to me that one of my ex-boyfriends qualified as a certain type…which led me to think: what if he were actually a mythological creature? Around that time I had also made a woodcut for a calendar of prints, influenced by a classic fairy-tale. I always felt really sad for one of the characters in that story, who is really nothing more than a messenger for the people who are supposed to be “learning a lesson”.

Around the time that these two thoughts were percolating in my brain, I also had a friend posting constantly about NaNoWriMo on Facebook and I happened to read The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. I loved that book, and Stiefvater’s posts on it in regard to “writing the book you want to read“. So on October 31st of last year, with nothing more than the last scene in my head, I signed up for NaNoWriMo. By December 1st I had 52,000 words, give or take.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Is New Adult Suburban (Light) Fantasy a real genre? It is now. I just invented it.

4. What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

For Silas, there can be no one but Jonathan Rhys Meyers. He has the right kind of humor, the sexiness, the look. That sinewy grace. Ideally J.R.M. ten years ago. Autumn could be played by Kat Dennings or Mae Whitman.

Emily I see as an Emma Watson or Mia Wasikowska type, Mia probably has the edge in terms of acting. Josh Peck would make an acceptable Duan, with teenaged John Cho on reserve.

Eila needs Kate Hudson (or even better, Goldie Hawn) in her early twenties.

5. What is a one sentence synopsis of your book?

Ugh. I have yet to do this in an interesting fashion without giving away the ending. Autumn returns from college to her suburban hometown to begin a soul-crushing job at the local hardware store, and finds herself and her sister swept up in a strange social circle that she never imagined existed.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I have absolutely no idea. I was surprised enough that I wrote a book, double-surprised that people liked it, and now I am trying to figure out how to make it the best version of itself. I imagine that when I feel it’s ready I will try to find an agent for some period of time, perhaps a year, and if nothing happens then I will self-publish.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

One month. I started just after midnight on November 1st and finished early in the evening November 30th. About three days in I lost everything I had written, and had to re-write it all. About four scenes, including the first scene and the ending.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Well…I kind of wrote it because I hadn’t read anything else like it, and it was something I wanted to see. It is sort of thematically related to books like Catherine Knutsson’s Shadows Cast by Stars or Jackson Pearce’s Sisters Red.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Francesca Lia Block’s dating life, an ex-boyfriend, the Print Club Calendar, Greek Myth, Celtic lore, Druidry and other pagan belief systems, my experiences working at a big-box hardware chain, love for my hometown/region, and my relationships with people in my family.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

You might get a sweet idea for an awesome (if somewhat weird by today’s standards) party! I flatter myself that this book is funny and that I am good at writing dialogue! The scenes at the big-box store might motivate you to go to/stay in college!

Now for the moment in which I become the end of the line. I am supposed to tag other writing-type folks with manuscripts who might be the next big thing. However, the only one I know is the person who tagged me. Should I gain friends who qualify in future, I promise to nominate them here.


This morning I issued a challenge to my crit partner, T.L. Albright, and she has accepted. The challenge was issued thusly:

I propose a challenge. By midnight tomorrow night each of us has to e-mail the other a picture, to be used as a prompt. Then we each have to write a story based on the prompt by the end of May. What do you think?

This is the image I received from her moments ago:

A John Bauer Painting













And this is the one I sent in return:

A Bryan Froud print.












Let the challenge begin!

If any of you readers would like to take the challenge yourselves, and create a story based on either of these prompts, I would be pleased to share it here on Ink as a guest post

The Wisdom of the Fool Won’t Set You Free: Love Triangles in YA Lit

While I don’t see Hunger Games as “Team Peeta” vs. “Team Gale”, anyone who says  they never cast a mental vote for who Katniss should end up with is a Big Fat Liar. Since the biggest role many female characters in YA novels get to play in their own stories involves picking a fella (thankfully not so for Katniss), the love triangle is a go-to for injecting a little drama into the proceedings. Today I want to take a look at the love triangles in four YA novels: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr, Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce, and Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

There will be many spoilers. If you have not read these books, and will cry if they are spoiled, please spare me the pain of making you cry.


Angle A: Edward Cullen – variation on a vampire, Volvo driver, venerable, possessor of marble-like abs.

Angle B: Bella Swan – new girl at school, reads gloomy books, thinks everyone who likes her is kind of dumb (including her parents).

Angle C: Jacob Black – motorcycle riding long-haired Native A-were-ican, destined to lead his half-people.

Anyone who has read my prior entries reviewing three of the four Twilight novels knows that I think Jacob is the obvious choice in this setup (up until the character assassination). Jacob has both the “Bad Boy” archetype and the fact that he makes Bella a better person on his side. He is honest with her, respects her autonomy (again up until the character assassination), and helps her develop a social life with people other than his own relatives. Edward lies to her, ensures her compliance with his wishes through subterfuge and abandonment, and ensures a life of isolation by poisoning her and dragging her into the woods after chewing open her womb.

But hey, you know, different strokes.


Angle A: Keenan – Summer King, ginger dreamboat, provider of magical honeyed wine and endless revels. 

Angle B: Aislinn – seer of faeries, skipper of school, hangs out in nightclubs and will probably acquire many tattoos and non-iron facial piercings over the course of her adulthood.

Angle C: Seth – gets around, statutory rapist, wearer of nail polish, may look like Trent Reznor, has already acquired many tattoos/piercings, lives in a boxcar.

Full disclosure: I have only read the first three books of this series, so all of this is based on Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange, and Fragile Eternity. This triangle is slightly different than the Twilight configuration: the idea of fated love is mixed in with the immortality vs. natural lifespan quandary. Also the fact that if Aislinn doesn’t choose Keenan it will literally kill him and the entire Summer Court. No pressure. Keenan doesn’t really love her either, he’s still hung up on the Winter Girl, but he’ll do anything to save Summer (and rightly so, it’s my favorite season). There is really no reason whatsoever for Aislinn to choose Keenan romantically. Both he and Seth have plenty of other ladies to choose from, but Aislinn goes moony for Seth’s brooding artist in a boxcar bit. The whole love triangle is actually a lot less interesting than the question of whether or not Aislinn will take up the mantle of Summer Queen. As with Bella, it’s a bit of a foregone conclusion. Aislinn is choosing Seth, even if he is a lot more likely to give her Hepatitis C.


Angle A: Scarlett – Badass one-eyed hunter babe with an axe, as scarred on the inside as she is on the outside.

Angle B: Silas – fetching young woodsman, Scarlett’s very capable hunting partner, pursuer of underage raven-tressed beauties, player of guitar.

Angle C: Rosie – sister of Scarlett, folder of origami frogs and baker of cookies, two-eyed babe with knives, possessor of raven-tresses, sixteen.

Here’s a triangle turned on its ear! Silas catches a peek of a freshly showered Rosie and suddenly he’s more interested in being the Big Bad Wolf than hunting them. Scarlett doesn’t even realize she is in a triangle until Silas and Rosie get a little too overt with the lingering glances, and is she competing for the guy or her sister? She doesn’t want to lose her sibling or her hunting partner, and part of her resents Rosie for being hale and whole (though it was Scarlett’s protection that allowed her to remain so). Silas may have two ladies for the choosin’, but it’s Scarlett who makes the final decision. She loves hunting more, everyone knows it, and Silas rides away with the booby prize: shut-in, underage, middle-school dropout Rosie.


Angle A: Gale Hawthorne  – Towering, glowering, hunting hottie who has taken a shine to Katniss after long years in close proximity; filled with anger, excellent military strategist, amoral.

Angle B: Katniss Everdeen – Braided huntress with a hole in her heart, volunteer, resentful, Mockingjay, amoral. Survivor.

Angle C: Peeta Mellark – Bruised baker, idealist, talented painter and camouflage artist, admirer of songbirds. Romantic.

Gale and Katniss are too much alike. They are destructive and angry…if each of them were an element they would both be fire. If they got together they would make a bigger fire and destroy everything! Neither has any real morality to speak of, only a utilitarian philosophy of survival that might permit a pairing. Katniss actually needs Peeta, he is her missing heart and soul. He is the earth to her fire, ever-present, able to let her burn or damp the flames when they burn too hot. Suzanne Collins realized this.

So she said, “Okay, Katniss. You can have Peeta.”

“Once he’s ruined!”

Whenever I think of love triangles in YA fiction, I am reminded of a scene in Rob Thomas’ novel Slave Day in which high-school lust object Tiffany Delvoe counsels her good-girl classmate Jenny during Spanish class. Jenny is torn between her football player boyfriend who keeps pressuring her for sex, and his “nice guy” best friend who has made his willingness to be an alternative known. Tiffany compares Jenny’s triangle situation to a Communist department store: you have a choice, but it’s still the blue shoes or the red shoes. Tiffany recommends a store with more selection.

Words for young ladies to live by.