Saturday, November 15, 2014

Liebster Award: 10 Questions Blog Hop

Two of my friends, Sandie and Vanessa, nominated me for the Liebster Award. I'm going to be honest, at first I wasn't sure what this award constituted. But then I thought to myself, Self, it has "award" in the title so that can only mean good things, right? In reality, the Liebster is a friendly, pay-it-forward type of award that bloggers pass around to other bloggers as a way of helping readers discover new blogs to follow. Pretty neat, huh?

Part of what's involved this time is answering 10 questions, largely related to my current WIP (or work-in-progress, in layman's terms). Right now, that also happens to be my NaNoWriMo novel. Which is the other cool thing about being tagged for this. It just so happens I love talking about the novel I'm working on. ;)

So, without further ado...

1. Where does your story take place?

A BEAR GORGED ON SORROW (or ABGOS as I fondly refer to it), takes place in tenth-century Denmark, near the end of the Viking Age, and just as Christianity is gaining entry into the country. I chose this setting for the neat interactions between the old and new religionsNorse pagans often converted without abandoning their old superstitionswhich I felt heightened the drama in the story, and has so far allowed me to explore some interesting themes related to faith.

2. What genre is your story?

Historical Fantasy. I'm trying to keep it as historically accurate as possible, but with the added fun of having runes and curses actually work, and Christians performing real miracles. Since the story is based in part off of the tales relating to Bera and Bjorn in The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki, it makes sense to keep a lot of that fun pagan magic. Plus, one of my characters gets turned into a bear, sooo... there's your fantasy aspect right there.

3. What POV is your story told? First person, or third?

Third-person, past tense, alternating between two POV characters: Bera, a female runemaster, and Hvit, a lonely, embittered queen.

4. What 5 songs would best describe your WIP?

I LOVE this question. Like many writers, I keep a running playlist with songs that "fit" the book. Sometimes it's because of the lyrics; other times, I just like the way the song feels. Here are 5 that I most associate with my book (in no particular order):

A. "Glass Heart Hymn" by Paper Route
There's a ghost in the mirror / I'm afraid more than ever / My feet have led me straight into my grave / Oh Lord have you walked away? / Oh Lord have you walked away from me?
B. "Wings" by Birdy
Sunlight comes creeping in / Illuminates our skin / We watch the day go by / Stories of all we did / It made me think of you / It made me think of you
C. "Oats in the Water" by Ben Howard
And you'll find loss / And you'll fear what you found / When weather comes / Tear him down
D. "If I Had a Heart" by Fever Ray
This will never end / 'Cause I want more / More, give me more / Give me more
If I had a heart I could love you / If I had a voice I would sing / After the night when I wake up / I'll see what tomorrow brings
E.  "This Place is a Shelter" by Ólafur Arnalds
5. Are you a plotter or panster? Why?

I am a pantser, through and through. I've fought my nature, attempting to outline novels before, but oddly enough, I never end up finishing those books. I prefer following the pulse of the story, letting the characters have the freedom to do what they want. I like not knowing what's going to happen and figuring it out along the way. I'm also fortunate enough to have a natural instinct for story structure, too, which helps me avoid the usual pitfalls of pantsing.

That isn't to say I don't sometimes make eyes at outlines. Those outlines, man. They can be pretty sexy.

6. What's your favorite scene in your WIP?

Oooh, hmm. This is a tough one. It's a toss-up between Hvit making a sacrifice in the woods, or Bera and Bjorn in the cave after she first frees him from his bear-form. I'd like to post a few lines, but I'm highly protective of my WIPs in this early stage.

7. Do you find a newly discovered technique helps you with your WIP?

Yes, actually! I'm doing something in this novel that I've never done before with any other writing project: I'm jumping back and forth between scenes, following where the inspiration takes me. Typically, I am a strict chronological writer, but I kept getting hung up on scenes I didn't feel like writing. This not only solved that problem, but also revived my interest and motivated me to keep going, reminding me what aspects of the story I still loved. It was an eleventh-hour Hail-Mary (how's that for mixed metaphor?), but it worked. Whether I will repeat this habit in future WIPs, I'm not sure. Part of my OCD, perfectionist self is still annoyed that I'm writing out of order.

8. Who is your favorite writer?

No! Bad question! I love too many writers! But if I had to pick... hrm... Shannon Hale or Margaret Atwood, probably. Atwood when I want poetry or prose that will cut me, and Hale when I want to just enjoy a story and feel generally hopeful about life and love. Liane Moriarty also gets an honorable mention, as do George R.R. Martin and J.R.R. Tolkien.

9. Which actors would you pick if your book was optioned for film?

Another easy question! I actually headcast my characters before even beginning the book. (Yes, I'm one of THOSE writers. I have a secret pinterest board and everything.) I find choosing a PB (or play-by) helps me visualize the character, and sometimes watching the actor/actress speak/behave in a role also helps me get a sense of voice, movement, and behavior.

Here's my cast:

Birgitte Hjort Sørensen as Bera
Norman Reedus as Bjorn
Jessica Grabowsky as Hvit
10. What advice to you have for writers?

Can I just post a link to Chuck Wendig's blog? No? Fine, fine...

Shoot from the hip. I don't mean that in a macho, cowboy-struttin' way (though I do love me a cowboy who can shoot from the hip). I'm talking about lightning quick instinct. 

Trust yourself; trust what aspects of the story you're being drawn towards and go there. Even if it scares you. Especially if it scares you. Yes, "shooting from the hip" will sometimes result in your aim being off, and the story or characters going in the wrong direction for a time. That's okay. Sometimes you will hit upon something you didn't mean to. That's okay, too. In fact, that's great! That might be exactly what your story needs. 

Maybe you're like me, and at the end of the day, you realize you're telling a different story than you thought you were. The only way to find out for sure is to press ahead. Even if you miss your target ninety percent of the time, that ten percent will always be worth the effort you spent trying. 

So endeth the metaphor.

And now, here are the wonderful folks I would like to nominate for the award! (If you've already been tagged for this, I apologize. You don't have to do it again, unless you'd like to.)

Laura Heffernan
K. Kazul Wolf
Lisa Houghton
Rosalyn Eves
Sara Jo Cluff

Here are your questions:
1. What most inspired your current WIP?
2. How do you best get "in the zone" for writing?
3. Do you have a certain time of day/place where you find you're most productive?
4. If you could sit down and pick the brain of one author, living or dead, who would it be? What would you ask them?
5. Your WIP has just become sentient. On a scale of 1-10, how much trouble are you in?
6. If money was no issue, where would your ideal writing vacation take place?
7. How did you come up with the title for your current WIP?
8. Who would you want to direct the movie adaptation of your WIP?
9. What advice would you give to another writer?
10. Hypothetical: You have a time machine and a nefarious mind. You can travel back in time with one book and take credit for writing it. Which book would it be?


  1. Firstly, LOVE the new look of your blog! Awesome.
    What great questions and answers. Your novel sounds amazing. More of a pantser here too. I like letting the characters lead me. It's really exciting that way. Your answer to number 10 is perfect. It can be so hard to trust ourselves sometimes, but that's often where the magic lies.
    Great post H. I'll be keeping my eyes open for A Bear Gorged in Sorrow. (great title)

    1. Thank you, S! Pantsers for the win! ;)

      I'm so glad you liked my answer to #10! It's something I'm constantly having to reteach myself, because I have a tendency to get hung up on doing everything right the first time around, and also worrying about how other people (imaginary readers/family) will feel about what I'm writing. I almost didn't start writing ABGOS for fear of touching those sensitive religious issues, but at the end of the day, I couldn't pull away from the desire to go for it anyway. I'm so glad I have!

      I'll be keeping my eyes open for A Bear Gorged in Sorrow. (great title)

      Thank you! As someone who struggles with titles and naming things, I'm pretty pleased with that one. ;)

  2. Hayley, this was so sweet of you to nominate me! And I love reading about your writing processes. Your story sounds awesome: I love reading historical fiction with a bit of fantasy. Good luck!

    1. It was my pleasure! Thank you for the comment and the follow! I look forward to reading your answers. ^^

      Ooh, if you enjoy hist fic/fantasy and provided you're interested, I might have to hit you up as a CP for the story when I've finished it (and edited it into a more acceptable shape, haha). ;)