Hello, friends! It’s been about a month since I last blogged, and I’m afraid I must warn you not to expect any kind of consistency from me for a while yet. I’m busy with school, work, college prep, and all kinds of graduation-related things. Then, of course, I will actually start college.
So my blogging may be somewhat inconsistent this summer/fall; but don’t worry, I have no intention of stopping. I love it too much to consider that.
Anyway, as you can probably tell, the point of this post is that I’ve been blogging for two years! (Well, really six years, but two on a public site.) I published my first “official” blog post on this blog on April 22, 2019. I was a shy sixteen-year-old and very much a newbie when it came to online interaction, but I am so glad I took the step to make my blog public — I’ve made so many friends, found like-minded creators and readers, and had a great deal of fun over the past two years. And I’m no longer a stranger to talking online (though I may still be a little shy sometimes ;)).
All right, on to the actual post…
⟡ stats ⟡
- My most viewed post of all time is announcing the Hope in Disaster short story contest! I really enjoyed hosting and judging this contest last year with my friends Charis and Kiki. If you’re interested, you can read the winning stories here.
- I’ve had 27,617 views, 2,785 likes, and 1,723 comments.
- I currently have 333 followers, which is a nice symmetrical number and also makes me very thankful. Obviously, followers aren’t the most important part of blogging, and I’d far rather have ten loyal readers than a thousand who don’t care about me (and, to be clear, I’m certain that less than half of those 333 people actually read/comment on my blog). But. It’s still pretty incredible to know that hundreds of people are interested in my content and writing. So thank you.
⟡ Q & A ⟡
Thanks to everyone who asked questions! I hope you enjoy learning more about me. Let the interrogation commence!
This got quite long… apologies XD I hope you enjoy reading it anyway!
from Samantha @ Bookshire
~ What is your writing process? Are you a pantser? A plotter? A plantser?
I’m a plantser! (Falling somewhere between a plotter — who plots an entire story before writing it — and a pantser — who figures out the story through the process of writing it.)
I start stories based on random ideas (like specific scenes, characters, settings, or tropes). I’ll write maybe one to five chapters, and then I’ll take a break and work out some of the plot. Where’s it going? What’s the endgame? What’s the point of the story even existing? If I like what I’ve written, I’ll make playlists, family trees, aesthetics, and other fun extras to help me stay motivated and remember details about the world. Then I’ll dive back in. I don’t usually have an outline, just random notes about what I want to happen. (Sometimes those notes are only in my head… XD)
~ Do you tend to read in big chunks of time, or little chunks throughout the day?
Big chunks, usually. I can read for hours, and I often do if I have the time and I’m interested in my book. If the book isn’t super interesting or I just don’t have the time, though, I can read in little chunks too.
~ Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Night owl… I think. I’d far rather stay up late than get up early, and I’m always tired in the morning. But I don’t tend to stay up incredibly late, either.
~ Are you a mood reader, or…I’m not entirely sure what the other option is…not a mood reader? (As a follow-up…if you’re a mood reader, do you ever feel stifled by your TBR?)
I am not a mood reader (she says to herself as she re-reads her favorites for the fifteenth time while ignoring all the classics sitting unread on her shelf). That is, I do not want to be a mood reader, and I am trying not to be one, but it’s hard. And yes, my TBR can be stifling. But it’s gotten better ever since I put it all in one place (Goodreads) and then carefully looked it over and got rid of all the books I didn’t truly want to read. There are less than 100 books on each of my 3 TBR lists (to read, maybe someday, and nonfiction that I’m interested in), with a total of maybe 250. Which isn’t that terrible considering I will probably live for another several decades.
~ What is your favorite season?
Autumn! I adore the smell and the colors, plus my birthday is in October, and the start of a new school year is always invigorating and fresh.
~ What’s your favorite weird food combo?
I like tuna with salsa! I’m not sure if that’s weird though? My mom thinks it’s gross but my sister doesn’t mind it.
from the Grim Writer
~ Which of your WIPs do you think would make the best debut novel (it doesn’t have to be the one you’re closest to finishing)?
Probably The Ancient Song, which is a modern-day retelling of Fiddler on the Roof. I think it has the most promise of all of mine (though it is *definitely* not the nearest completion nor the most polished). But I think I’d like my debut novel to be fantasy, since that’s my main/favorite genre. In which case it would be either Red Raven or, if I want to aim at a younger audience for my first novel, either Remnant or one of my unwritten random ideas (Shade Island, Aelarrim, The Banner-Bearer, or You Are My Sunshine).
Which is, I know, not a very helpful answer. Shall we go with Red Raven?
~ How many thousands of words have you written? (Estimate, of course, ha.)
Gah. I think it’s 500k, ish, if you count all of my drafts plus things I wrote as a kid and school writing. Maybe even more? I don’t know. How does one estimate such a thing? *has existential crisis*
~ Which of your own characters do you like best, as far as the feel/aesthetic goes?
*glares at you for asking such a hard question*
Uhh… Let’s go with Marelle? It’s probably either her, Aionladon, or Kalrona, but their vibes/aesthetics are all similar, and Marelle is pretty awesome so I’ll stick with her.
~ What are some songs that you feel describe your personality?
- Kindness | Jess Ray | I’m the only one surprised / when I revert to a teen drama queen
- Chapter Seven: Orphan Theism | Levi the Poet | beauty pulls me beyond myself like I don’t even have a choice
- Audition (the fools who dream) | La La Land | here’s to the hearts that break / here’s to the mess we make
- True Love | Frozen | I know this solitude, I know this kind of cold / but I had faith in what the stories told
- Caledonia | Voces8 | so I’ve been telling old stories, singing songs / that make me think about where I came from
- Wondering | HSMTMTS | if I could go back and change the past / be a little braver than I had / would I still be lost
- Eustace Scrubb | Sarah Sparks | as He looked through my eyes at the things I despise / I felt pierced by His gaze
~ How would you describe your own brand/aesthetic in terms of a scene?
Okay, well, first, I love your description of my aesthetic, and now I want to try to do that for yours! But I’ll try mine for now.
Walking through an old cathedral at golden hour, and you can smell autumn — or spring — or both — through the stained glass windows, and there’s gentle haunting choir music floating through the room. And it makes you remember all the stories you love most. Then the violin and bagpipes and dulcimer begin to play.
Perhaps that’s more of “an experience Maya would like to have” than “the way Maya’s aesthetic feels to other people.” I don’t know.
~ If you didn’t blog, what would you spend that time doing?
I don’t know. Actually, I’m not sure what you mean by this question. If you mean what would you do with all the extra free time, then, uh, school and chores and reading (and wasting time online)? Which is what I’ve been doing this past month instead of blogging, lol. If you mean what other platform might you use to share your work, then Instagram (but I think I’m going to get that soon anyway).
~ What never fails to inspire you to create?
Nature. Specifically the forest and any and all bodies of water.
~ Why is your dream college your dream college? (I forget the name of it but you know what I’m talking about XD)
It’s Hillsdale ;). And it’s my dream college because it’s committed to teaching history and philosophy in a rational way that honors America’s founding ideals, and to educating students on those ideals. Hillsdale refuses government money in order to keep its curriculum this way. Plus, the campus is beautiful and the atmosphere is welcoming and has a sort of light academia aesthetic 😀
~ What style of fanart would you love to be skilled in? (I guess meaning, what style of art do you like/subject matter for fanart? What fanart do/would you make?)
I like realistic, detailed fanart for fantasy books. Some of my favorite fanartists include Sheb (possible adult references in some pieces), Emily B. Martin, Blvnk (may include mild sexual content/language in some pieces), Hannah Williams, UptheHill (includes PG-13-ish sexual content and elements in many pieces), katadesmoi (possible adult references in some pieces), and Laura Hollingsworth.
~ What draws you to a piece of art? (whether that be visual, literary, poetical, etc.)
I think this question is closely tied to the very idea of art and what it is and is not. I agree with Roger Scruton that art should be beautiful (which, of course, begs the question what is beauty — which I will not attempt to answer today). I personally am drawn to art which is beautiful, at least subjectively, and was clearly created with great care. I especially appreciate art that draws me into a wider universe of more art (fanart for a good novel/series, movies with sequels or companions, a poem by a prolific author, or even just a painting with so many details that I can look at it over and over and see new things).
~ What’s one book you’ve read that you’ll never, ever forget?
There are a lot of these, but for today I’ll answer with the book I’m reading right now, which is C.S. Lewis’ masterpiece Till We Have Faces. I’m reading it slowly and savoring every line. I’ve even *gasp* been underlining parts. Here’s a quote I read recently that struck me:
He rejected, denied, answered, and (worst of all) he knew, all I had thought, done or been. A Greek verse says that even the gods cannot change the past. But is this true? He made to be as if, from the beginning, I had known… and as if all my doubtings, fears, guessings, debatings, questionings… had been trumped-up foolery, dust blown in my own eyes by myself. You, who read my book, judge. Was it so? Or, at least, had it been so in the very past, before the god changed the past? And if they can indeed change the past, why do they never do so in mercy?
~ Do you have any pets?
My family has a female cat named Gandalf 🙂
~ Where is your favourite place to read or/and write?
I love that you spell favorite with the “ou.” I wish I did. If only American spell-checkers weren’t wrong…
I mostly read on my bed, and mostly write at our table. I don’t know if I have a “favorite” place to do either.
~ The most important question: what is your favourite ice cream flavour?
I like dark chocolate cashew milk ice cream best!
from Havalah R. Peirce
~ Can you speak any other languages besides English (and Latin XD)?
Nope. Unless Quenya counts XD (and I only know a little, not enough to say I “speak” it). I can also say a few scattered things in Welsh and Greek.
~ Do you like camo print?
Ehh. It’s fine. I wouldn’t wear it.
~ Favorite kind(s) of sandwich?
The place where I work sells a wrap that has feta, chicken, red pepper mayo, tomato pesto, basil, and a few other things I can’t remember… and it’s heavenly.
~ Favorite OC?
~ What smells like summer to you?
Chlorine and sweat. I guess.
(Can you tell summer isn’t my favorite season? XD)
~ Are you afraid of heights?
Not really. I mean, I’m not afraid to climb a tree pretty high or stand on a balcony several stories up. But I do get disoriented and dizzy when I’m really high or on a balcony without a sturdy railing.
~ Which fictional character would be the most boring to meet in real life?
This is a hilarious question!
I guess I’ll say any of the characters from You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. I was on the crew for that musical this May, and the whole cast and crew agreed that none of the characters have arcs — that is, they don’t change. Which makes for a funny 2-hour show but wouldn’t exactly work in real life.
~ Would you rather have a home on the beach or in the mountains?
~ If you had a pet platypus, what would you name it?
~ What’s the longest book you’ve read?
Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson, which is 1232 pages and 460k words long.
~ Do you like to make DIY crafts?
I wish I did, but… I don’t 😂
~ What fairytale do you think there should be more retellings done for?
I don’t know many obscure fairytales, and all my favorites have had so many retellings done already! So I don’t know. I would like to see a retelling of The Snow Queen that’s more faithful to the original material than Frozen was, though. Or a re-imagining of Red Riding Hood that *doesn’t* feature her falling in love with the wolf.
~ Favorite fictional world?
I’ma go the short easy route and say Middle-earth. (Or mayyybe the cosmere.)
~ Fictional characters you’ve had dreams about?
Ahh this is such a fun question! I don’t think I’ve ever dreamed about a fictional character, though. Unless we’re talking daydreams….
~ Food you wish was mentioned in books more often?
Cilantro, because it makes every (savory) dish better. We need more cilantro representation, y’all.
~ Ride a horse or a dragon?
Horse. I’d say dragon to sound cooler, except that motion sickness happens to affect me. Plus, I’ve actually ridden a horse before, and it was fun.
~ What style of clothes do you wear?
Casual (usually jeans or sweatpants and a t-shirt), with a sort of boho/classic mix when I’m being more fancy. (On Sunday to church I wore a tan linen skirt, a rust-colored embroidered blouse, my gold cross necklace, and a bunch of Ringcrush raw stone gold rings.)
~ Do you have a hero?
~ What is one thing that you do that other people think is weird?
Sometimes I read the last line of a book before I’m even halfway through. *hides*
~ What is your favorite time of day?
If I weren’t always so tired in the morning, I’d have to say very early morning, because I’ve always loved being the first person to open the door and smell the fresh cool air. Golden hour is nice too, and I’m usually more awake then XD
~ Have you ever taken the Myers-Briggs personality test? What are you if so?
Yep! I’ve taken several different versions and gotten INFP/J every time. But I have some friends who are really passionate about cognitive functions, and I tried to understand those and got myself thoroughly confused… and then Emily (one of said cognitive-function-enthused friends) said I’m INFP anyway.
~ What types of stories do you like to read?
I love epic fantasy novels with ingenious worldbuilding, shippable romances, and clever plot twists. Bonus points if it’s vaguely historical (Megan Whalen Turner, Robin McKinley), a fairytale retelling (Thorn, Book of a Thousand Days), or Tolkien-esque but not a Tolkien copy (Brandon Sanderson, Anne Elisabeth Stengl).
~ Are you a Marvel fan?
Yes? Sort of. I still consider myself a part of the fandom, but I’ve grown to like it less lately. I do want to watch WandaVision though!
~ How has blogging changed your life?
I talked about this at the beginning of the post! Mainly it’s helped me gain confidence and make connections (:
~ What has been the most amazing part about blogging so far?
Hosting a writing competition with Kiki and Charis was incredible! Also, having conversations with some of my blogging heroes, and even becoming pen pals with a few of them.
~ What’s one stereotype people generally put you in?
I’m a pastor’s kid… and I think people assume I don’t have struggles (with sin or mental health) sometimes? Which is absolutely not true. Also, people seem to think I’d like to work in childcare/preschool because of all my little siblings. Uh, no thanks, I don’t want my job to be the same thing I do all day at home XD
~ What first got you excited about writing?
Narnia! I wanted to know what happened to Susan after The Last Battle, so I wrote a fanfiction at age six.
from Ryan Elizabeth
~ What’s your favorite Latin phrase?
Either virtus tentamine gaudet (“strength rejoices in the challenge”) or Soli Deo Gloria (“Glory to God Alone”).
~ Do you play any instruments?
I play the piano.
~ Is there a certain “aesthetic” you’d associate yourself, your blog, or your writing with?
I’m not an expert on aesthetics but maybe a mix of cottagecore and academia (light academia for color scheme and atmosphere, but dark for content and writing style).
~ Do you have a favorite word from the English language? If so, what is it?
I love glory. And petrichor. And northernness. Most of my favorite words are actually Latin, Greek, or Quenya 😂
from The Story Sponge
~ Is there a book you thought you would hate that you ended up loving?
I don’t think I’ve ever read a book I thought I would hate, so no.
~ Is there a book you thought you would love that you ended up hating?
Shadows in Flight by Orson Scott Card. I have a complicated relationship with most of OSC’s work — part of me loves it and part of me really, really doesn’t — but on this one, my opinion is firm. It’s awful.
~ Who is your favorite hobbit and why (if you can even choose a favorite)?
Bilbo, because he and I are so alike.
As they sang the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves. Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick. He looked out of the window. The stars were out in a dark sky above the trees. He thought of the jewels of the dwarves shining in dark caverns.
~ Have you ever written a story featuring a manatee?
~ Do you prefer fall arcs or redemption arcs?
Redemption, of course! (Does anyone prefer fall arcs? Yes, they can be fun to read, but really only if there’s redemption in the end.)
~ Would you like honey or condensed milk with your bread?
~ Is it strange to interact with people via your blog and then also interact with them other ways via email, letters, or in person?
Not really. I quite enjoy getting to know people better through letters and email. So far I haven’t met any of my blogging friends in person.
~ Is it hard to kill characters in your stories/cut characters out of later drafts?
YES! *sadly remembers poor Elarin*
~ What’s your favourite point of view to write in?
I think third limited, but I also like first person!
~ Can you manage two+ WIPs at a time?
Yes! I have many more than two WIPs =)
~ Have you ever written something you cringe upon reading now?
The goodmen of several nearby towns received numerous reports of a young man, heavily armed, running alongside a galloping white horse — and not falling behind. Accounts differed on the point of who rode the horse. Some said it was a beautiful maiden brandishing a sword. Some said she was an old woman feebly handling a kitchen knife. Those nearer the truth described her as a middle-aged, yet still agile, woman with a dagger.
The goodman of Alii, not sure what to make of this, scratched his beard.
(In case it’s not obvious — yes.)
~ Favourite trope in books?
I love fantasy quest novels! And magic schools. And death of the mentor.
~ What are your thoughts on fantasy?
I love it! When it’s done well, that is. My favorite types are currently high/epic fantasy, historical fantasy, gaslamp, fantasies of manners, and fairytale retellings.
~ Do you have any siblings?
I have a lot! I’m the oldest.
~ Do you like enemies to lovers more than friends to lovers?
I think I like them equally! Either is great if it’s written well.
Thank you so much for all the questions and for all the awesome experiences over the past two years! Here’s to many more.
Until next time,
the stories are true ~ m a y a