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Please Welcome H.M. (Hannah) an avid reader, aspiring author, blogger, adjective lover, Big Sister, Sweater-wearer, Fangirl, Coffee drinker, Christ follower, and TEENAGER. She has a very beautiful and impressive blog over at Plottingertwist. Very impressive for a young person! Here is a link to a recent post My Thoughts on J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series.
Hannah and I first bumped elbows on Twitter and since have become blog-buddies. She’s a very impressive teenage writer, blogger and reader! I can see the talent literally pouring out of her hears, and as an INFJ, she’s also one of the rarest personality types on the planet.
So where are you from?
~ I am from a tiny town in Texas. (Buffalo, TX if you need a specific one.)
I’ve been to Texas several times but I’ve never heard of Buffalo, TX. A lot of Buffaloes must roam there eh?
How did you come to love books so much?
~ I grew up in a book-loving family! My great grandmother collected books & she passed the tradition down.
That’s so sweet. I grew up in a TV-loving family, I defected later. Books are much better. I find that family is always so instrumental in our early reading habits. I love how your grandmother collected books, what a good pattern. My grandmother helped us out a lot when we were wet behind the ears. And when our ears dried she was still tireless. Kind of like an older version of the Energizer Bunny. I miss her dearly.
Even though my grandmother passed some time ago, her love never entered the grave. It fervently lives before us; bright as coming day, tugging on our souls forevermore.
What childhood experiences had a major impact on your writing?
~ I was homeschooled, so one of my favorite bookish memories is my mother teaching me to read. Along with that, my father used to read to me before bed every night. Together we went on many adventures with Doctor Doolittle, Mr. Popper’s penguins, & Ramona with her sister Beezus.
It’s astounding that parents can give the gift of reading to a hungry child.
Favorite childhood books?
~ A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle & Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit were two of my favorites as a child. And even as an adult, I still continue to go back & reread my old favorites. There is something special to me about both stories!
YES we always come back to the classics!
Who are your favorite authors today?
~ I enjoy reading the works of Charles Dickens, Roald Dahl, J.K. Rowling, and Jane Austen.
Nice. Uh, mine were probably Dr. Seuss and the incredible Hulk. I suppose they’d make a nice team. Lol!
What writing project are you currently working on?
~ I am currently working on several projects, but my primary one is called Polaroids + Postcards. It is a story about a serious guitar-player & a free-spirited travel blogger who cross paths and are forced to go on a road trip across America together. (It’s been an especially fun project thus far because I am uploading each chapter on Wattpad, so my blogging friends can read it & give me advice as I write.)
That sounds like a pretty interesting story premise. Haven’t used Wattpad before but I’ve heard of it several times.
You’re a writer; so what’s your story or what inspired you?
~ It all started with books. There was something almost magical about the moments when my mother would sit with me curled in her lap, reading my favorite picture-book for the thousandth time. And this feeling only grew when she took me to the library for the first time. And when she taught me to finally read on my own. I felt like I wielded some kind of super-power when all the words melded together into sentences, and that’s when the burning first began. I knew that I wanted to write a story of my own! And I finally did. And it was terrible. The cringe-worthy picture book was entitled Princess Butterfly. Oh, and let’s not forget to mention that I illustrated it myself! (Need I say more?)
Yet as bad as that little story of mine was, seeing my parents smile at my poor attempt at a masterpiece added fuel to the fire. I didn’t stop there, and my stories grew in depth & complexity. Now, at the age of 18, I’ve lost count of the number of stories I have penned, the notes I have scribbled, and the characters I have crafted. None can quite compare with my debut work, Princess Butterfly, but it’s safe to say that I am glad of that!
AMAZING STORY. I love it. You’ve definitely got the fire. I can almost see the smoke and embers.
What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?
~ My “surface goal” is to become a best-selling fiction author. But this is just scratching the top layer of my aspirations. In my journey to become an author, I dream of sharing my deepest thoughts & feelings through the written word. I hope to inspire others the way my favorite authors have inspired me. I want to not only entertain my readers, but also help them grow by writing stories that ask hard questions & make them think for themselves. And I desire to write something that will touch people & make them look at the world with a new perspective.
Impressive! You just elicited the WOW factor.
What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)
~ Time-management has ALWAYS been a challenge for me. Sometimes pulling away from one project to work on another is hard for me, because I like to give my everything to one specific thing at a time. But along with that, I also tend to be distracted quite easily. So you can imagine how quickly that can get out of hand… Lol! (Darn you, Twitter & Pinterest!)
I completely understand this one. The quicker you get a handle on this the better off you’ll be. You’re headed straight to the bestseller’s list one day kid…Tell em’ I sent ya.
What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)
~ First of all, writing isn’t just a hobby for me—it is a calling. I truly feel like it is something God has planted in me, so I honestly think it would be impossible to completely stop writing. But at the same time, the idea of becoming someone’s favorite author & them being inspired by my work makes me want to work even harder at it!
I already know you’re a hard worker. It practically jumps out of your pores. But, HAVE FUN IN THE PROCESS. Don’t let pressure, stress, or even the work, take away the joy in writing.
Author Anne Janzer in her book, The Writer’s Process Getting Your Brain in Gear, speaks of balancing and utilizing both parts of your brain in the writing process. She points out knowing when to implement or inhibit, the editor and the muse in different phases of the process. I highly recommend it to any student of the craft.
What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?
~ Honestly, I think most of the time we are our own worst enemy. We allow ourselves to be discouraged, get bored, be lazy, be distracted, and it makes for a tough battle to win. So I would have to say that goes for myself as well. It’s an uphill climb! You live, you struggle, and you learn from your mistakes.
Are you sure you’re only 18? License and registration please.
Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?
~ I know that for me, personally, this often happens due to my strange attention-span. I will have inspiration for stories at the oddest of times & feel the need to start working on it immediately, temporarily abandoning the unfinished project I was currently working on. (But I rarely work on ONLY one WIP at a time. I usually have several that I add to, which helps me to never let my brain completely shut down if I reach a dry spot on one story.)
But another reason I think writers do this is because of boredom. Sometimes we get discouraged after reading the same piece of writing over & over, and it just seems increasingly uninteresting, so we scrap the idea altogether. The key here is not allowing yourself to become discouraged. Remember, even the greatest authors of all time had first-drafts of their novels!
Yes. This brings to mind many thoughts. Many of us have the same experience trust me. *raises hand* Having ideas is one thing, but being able to grasp and develop it into a compelling story, is craft. This is what I’m learning right now. Here’s a profitable remedy for distracting story ideas:
*So what interests you in classical languages and studies? (I love Greek, Hebrew, and Latin by the way).
What actually got me into Classics were the languages themselves, particularly Latin grammar. I’ve always leaned heavily philological—my dissertation looked at how Roman authors used descriptions of odors in their texts, and at how those descriptions give us greater insight into Roman sensory culture.
Now that sounds cool. First, Classical studies is utterly fascinating. It’s no secret that people love roman culture. They definitely left their footprint on society. Yammers, I’ve got so many things to pick your brain about!
*What made you want to pursue this in college?
I needed a language requirement and had a friend who took Latin in high school and loved it. The next year I took “Greek and Roman Civilizations” to fulfill an honors requirement, and the rest, as they say, is (ancient) history.
Oh, Greek and Roman Civilizations sounds great. I’m not sure what it is about these two cultures, but they were powerhouses.
*Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes and no. I wrote as a kid—my school had a “Publishing Center” where we could illustrate our stories and have them bound into little books—and when Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Ring adaptation came out I got really into fantasy writing. I entered college as a writing major but didn’t really know what I would do with it—I naively thought I could study creative writing and magically become a successful fantasy author, so I was never very interested in my professional writing classes. In hindsight, I wish I’d gone that route; I think I would have enjoyed marketing.
Man, your high school had a publishing center? That’s awesome! Wish we had one. So many people have been influenced by the Lord of the Rings its amazing. I’ve seen the movies but haven’t read the books yet. *sinks in shame*
*Are you originally from Michigan? (I was just in Ann Arbor actually)
Yes; my family lived in Indianapolis for a year when I was about 2, but otherwise we’ve always lived in Michigan.
Cool beans! I like Michigan.
*Do you despise the Buckeyes?
I had to look up the Buckeyes to make sure they are, in fact, Ohio State, so…that probably tells you how I feel about them. 😛
Lol! Yup, that’s good ol’ fashioned Ohio State. Just curious. There seems to be a great rivalry between the two. Makes for great entertainment!
*Would you use your background in classical studies to influence your writing?
Subconsciously, I think I do—my Latin classes were where I learned 90% of English grammar, and studying literature has definitely made me think about what I’m conveying with my own writing. I haven’t set any stories in Rome-inspired cities, though, or raided classical mythology for ideas—probably in the future, though!
I bet. It’s a rich source to draw from!
*You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you?
I’ve always been telling stories to myself—I played soccer as a kid and mid-game I’d be standing in the field staring at the clouds imagining what lived up there. I remember taking bike rides and narrating stories out loud as I rode. 😛 Because I was fairly shy, I think writing them down was the natural next step. Interestingly, though, I’m not a natural storyteller—I’ve always been better at the actual writing than at crafting a narrative.
Eh, narrative, can be learned of course. You’ve been telling stories since you were a kid though, that counts. For what it’s worth, I’m not a natural storyteller either, but that’s a skill that can be picked up as we learn the craft. I have a particular fascination with narrative, point of view and how it affects the story. When you learn something new drop me a line.
*What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?
At the end of the day, I think I’d say it’s to give people hope. I’ve got nothing against sad stories, and while I shy away from killing characters whenever possible, I understand the value of doing so in the right situation. But I want to write stories that, no matter what bad things might happen in them, leave my readers looking forward and thinking about the possibility for good—in people, in the world, in their own lives. I don’t write Christian lit, but I am a Christian, and I hope that underlies everything I write.
Well very good. (Pun unintended)
*What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)
1. Loss of interest. Occasionally I start writing and have no idea where the story’s going, and most of the time I peter out and lose interest before I develop a direction. But that’s not always bad—sometimes I just need to get a scene out of my system, or try something new as an exercise.
2. Writing difficulties. If I’m not sufficiently dedicated to a story, any serious snag (plot holes, character issues, etc.) might cause me to give up rather than push through.
3. Edit-as- you-go syndrome. I get so bogged down in editing that I don’t give the story room to grow and develop. My most popular tweet says “Keep writing, you can edit later,” but it’s advice I’m terrible at following!
These are all valid points. The “edit-as-you-go-syndrome” seems to be a common one. You hack the thing to pieces before its even ready. I planted a gladiolus bulb in the front yard one year. After a few short weeks, I was so frustrated because I didn’t see any growth. So what did I do? Dummy me, had to go dig it up to see if it was growing. It had a beautiful bright green stalk about 3 1/2 inches long judding out of the bulb. Of course it broke in half when I dug it up. *sigh* Plants are both beautiful and frustrating at the same time. To see them grow, develop, bud and blossom is absolutely beautiful. But sometimes waiting for it to grow can be very frustrating. I suppose beauty requires patience.
*What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)
One of my favorite things about writing is just hanging out with my characters. Getting to know them. Watching them interact. Giving them a hard time. If I’m not excited about the people in my story, chances are I’m not enthused about the story itself. So part of my motivation is getting to spend time with cool, albeit totally fictional, people, and part of it is hoping that someday I’ll get to share these characters with readers—who will hopefully grow as attached to them as I am.
This is a good one. I’ve heard many writers say the same thing. Hanging out with characters, or living in imaginary worlds etc. But you’re right Kate, if we’re not excited about our own peeps, it’s hard to imagine anyone else will.
*What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?
Impostor syndrome—the constant conviction that I’m not good enough, not creative enough, don’t know enough. It might sound stupid for a fantasy writer to say this, but I don’t tend to think of myself as a very creative person. I need to remind myself that cool ideas are only a small part of what it takes to succeed as a writer, regardless of genre.
This just validates that you’re a writer! A normal one. Cool ideas are relatively easy to come up with. But to take an idea and ripen it into a compelling story, is craft. Which can be learned. To me, a writer is essentially a learner. We’re just like the characters we create. We have goals, desires, dreams and what not. Then there’s the dreaded antagonist standing in our way. He often uses the fear tactic to stymie us. Works like a charm every time. As writers we have to learn to work through those internal conflicts to achieve what we want. Then as we overcome the internal conflict, we’re empowered to deal with the external conflict. Next thing you know you’re off to save the day and live happily ever after. But knowing the nature of the conflict and facing our own antagonist is the heart of the battle.
*Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?
Any number of reasons. I was just reading a post by a writer lamenting that her favorite genre has fallen out of favor with agents and publishers—despite the fact that this was what she loved to write, she was considering giving it up because she was worried it wouldn’t sell. Time is another one—either the realization that writing a book takes a great deal more time and effort than expected, reluctance to set aside the necessary time, or an actual lack of time due to life circumstances. In the end, unless you remember what it is you love about something—a hobby, a dream, a job—you can always find a reason to give it up.
Well said. I like how you brought it back to what we love about something that’ll “keep the drive alive”. Love is most interesting isn’t it? There’s a great deal of investment that goes into writing a book, published or unpublished. Love will keep us afloat amidst treacherous waters.
*What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?
Think about why you started writing in the first place, and what you love about it. It can be really easy, in the tsunami of social media, to feel you’re not a “real writer” or that you’re “doing it wrong.” It can also be easy to get caught up in what’s popular and believe that in order to be successful, you have to write something similar. Don’t. Stick with the story in your heart. Write for yourself. Write for the fun
of spending time with your characters. Whatever gives you joy in writing, start from there.
I LOVE THIS. You know, by doing these interviews, I’m the first one that get encouraged. Writing is an extremely subjective experience, written by fantastically subjective persons. And the definition of success is also a very twisted subjective concept to most people. We tend to subjectively measure ourselves based on what we see objectively in others. We try to climb the mountain that they built. As they say, Rome wan’t built in a day. But then, it’s hard not to see the mountains around us. James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell, JK Rowling, Suzzanne Collins, Victoria Aveyard, George R.R. Martin. They’re gorgeous and breathtakingly majestic. Don’t try to climb their mountain; grow your own wings and take to the sky, see where it takes you.
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Author page of JR Handley, a veteran who writes military science fiction to excise the demons of his time spent fighting in the Late Unpleasantness in Mesopotamia.
British-Canadian scientist and writer