HAPPY bIRTHDAY!

Today is Rose’s birthday!

Giving my characters birthday’s has always been something I’ve done. Occasionally I’d mash together the birthday’s of friends and family members. I started writing the first version of Vermin when my niece was two, so her and Rose have the same birthday. So happy birthday to my super fun, creative, fashionable, warm-hearted niece…and to the outspoken young lady from my debut novel.


So…Roland and Nicholas’ birthday’s have already passed since the novels release. I actually do celebrate my character’s birthdays just like i did with my favourite toys as a little kid.

NaNoWriMO rEFLECTIONS

I thought I’d do a NaNoWriMo reflection post, to break down what I accomplished this year, my feelings about my project, and other stats.

In total, I reached 55,453 words during the month of November. Although I didn’t complete my manuscript, I am glad that I was able to reach the word count goal of the month.

When it comes to the importance of word counts I can only speak for myself, but I find that focusing too heavily on trying to have a specific number of words isn’t helpful. It might be because of how much pressure it was to have specific word counts for essays in university, as I never understood why in some of my courses being 200 under or 500 over was so strict? I mean, I get if someone is handing you 10 pages when the assignment required a minimum of 4, but there were some professors (many of which I luckily avoided thanks to my amazing upperclassmen), who would deduct marks for every 10 words you were over. I think this definitely has effected how I approach the 50k words. Like, I want to reach the minimum word count, but if I’m over I’m not going to go through a cut 30% of my book just so I can have exactly 50k words. To me that seems silly. Instead, I treat NaNoWriMo as though I’m trying to reach a writing milestone. Do I wish I could’ve reached this milestone and completed my manuscript in a months time, absolutely. Am I disappointed that I was unable to? No, because I’m happy with what I was able to get done, and at this rate, I should be ready to send my manuscript off to my editor by my deadline as planned.

According to my NaNoWriMo stats, on average I was writing anywhere between 2000 and 7000 words a day. It seems that on the weeks where I missed days I was spending more time writing on my days off to make up for it. Apparently I was also writing a lot between 4 and 5pm, which is a little surprising to me because there were many times that I was up till the wee hours of the night typing away…however, based on my work/recording schedules this month I’d say that it would make perfect sense for me to be writing around 4pm every day.

I also consistently had the “happy” emoji throughout the month, which means that while writing I was feeling great!

I’d say this is 100% accurate. This entire month I was I zoned in, and couldn’t wait to get back to my manuscript. It got to the point where I was dreaming about it, and waking up in the middle of the night itching to get back to it. I tried my best to get enough sleep, because I find when I’m tired a I make more silly errors like spelling a word using American versus Canadian English (like center and centre).

I try to have spellcheck set to British/UK English and or Canadian so that it doesn’t underline words that are spelled correctly here, but most programs don’t correct the American spelling, regardless of whether you change your settings or not. If I had to give feedback for editing software’s and writing programs, I’d say this is something that often gets overlooked.

English is a weird language. You can go your whole life spelling pajama as pajama only to realize that it’s actually pyjama…and that’s why it makes no sense when you look at the word because when you speak you pronounce the word as “pyjama” not “pajama” but you write it as pajama because a lot of the books you read as a kid were printed in the US, versus Canada. Also Canadian’s aren’t consistent with the spelling of this word and we tend to flip between the two versions…but pyjama’s is technically right…and is still the preferred spelling. So neither version of it is considered wrong.

I know that might be a random example…it but this is something that has frustrated me since I was 13 and I read The Boy in the Stripped Pyjama’s. I think that was when I realized the difference.

It’s like, you’re technically not spelling it wrong but you’re also not spelling it right. People lose marks on their essays for something as small as that! So, keep this in mind if you’re taking English Literature in University like I did.

Sorry, I got a bit off topic there…back to NaNoWriMo21.

I had an absolute blast this year, and I really liked seeing how supportive everyone was. I know some people had a bit of a rough time here and there, and it was nice to see other writers coming in to cheer them on and give them a little boost. I think we all need a bit of encouragement sometimes, and the overall vibe this year that I got from the community was really lovely.

I’ll be continuing to work on my manuscript everyday until it’s complete. I’m mainly excited about peoples reactions to certain characters and scenes. I know there are a few spots here and there that I need to go over, but overall I feel extremely good about this book. I love it.

@theverminseries is on tiktok

@theverminseries is now on TikTok!

There will be a lot of character and book themed posts on this account, along with information about the series. I really wanted a space where I could share the character art, mood boards and inspiration for this series, and thought it would be fun to showcase it all in short little videos.

According to my NaNoWriMo stats, I’ll reach 50,000 words around November 28th, and thankfully things are coming together nicely. Honestly, word count doesn’t matter much to me…but I do like knowing how quickly I can type.

I’ve been thinking of making little bookmarks with my characters on them…just cute little things to have. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since forever, but I keep putting it off. Maybe I will to celebrate the release of book two?

NANoWriMo Update

I’ve been having a lot of fun with NaNoWriMo this year, despite being on the fence about whether or not I’d partake…however, I’m not really aiming to reach a specific word count but instead to complete the ending of Vermin’s sequel. I’m very far along, and have been making an effort to write everyday.

The Vermin Series (along with myself) are now on TikTok, as a large chunk of the readers are use Bookstagram, BookTwitter and BookTok, we thought it would be best to have updates about the series on all three. I’ll try to make the content as fun and engaging as possible.

I just finished writing one of my favourite scenes in book two so far. I’ll try not to give away any spoilers, but the scene follows one of Nicholas’ siblings. For those who haven’t finished or read the first book yet, I won’t say anything more. I’d hate to say something that might spoil it for you.

I’ve also been working on two other projects. One is voice over related, and I have been having an absolute blast recording! What I can tell you, is that it’s for a really cool children’s web series, and that I play two key roles. It also makes me feel like a little kid again, and reminds me of one of my favourite things to do in the summer with my family when I was small.

Well, I’d better get back to writing. Although slightly ambitious, I think I might be able to finish Vermin and start prepping another book that I was hoping to write in December. We’ll see how things go of course.

Here’s a little sneak peek at one of the chapters in book two:

Her image danced before him, bright and colourful like the inside of a kaleidoscope.

Vermin, Ardin Patterson

NaNoWriMo Begins

I’d been debating on participating in NaNoWriMo this year, mainly because I wasn’t sure if I’d have time, but in the end I thought it would be a good motivator for me to really dive into my work.

Vermin is coming along nicely, and I’m always thrilled when I hear someone else has read it. It’s really cool, having others read your work.

I was also casted for a new animated series, so this month will definitely fun! I’m thrilled to start recording this show, especially since I get to work with one of my favourite directors.

Now, back to NaNoWriMo, I really want to push myself and write as often as I possibly can. I’ve been both writing by hand and typing because I find that I can continuously build the world inside my head even when my laptop isn’t directly in front of me. I pre-planned a lot so that I could spend as much time writing as possible. Usually I continue to research and plan as I go, but this time I’m really trying to focus on allowing myself to write freely. Writing by hand seems to help with this a lot. There’s less distraction.

My minimum goal is to add 1000 words a day, as I know that not everyday will be ideal with work and also factoring in life events and schedule changes. I think last year I made my goal around 5000? One year I did 10,000 a day, which was surprisingly doable but I was lucky enough to have a lot of spare time. I’ve learned over the years that focusing on the word count while drafting can create a lot of unnecessary stress. It kind of takes the fun out of writing for me, because it feels like I’m drafting an essay for school versus a novel…and I would rather much enjoy my time writing. One year my draft was around 98,000 and not once did I panic about the word count. I chose not to focus on it at all, and just write. Personally, I’d rather have the right words rather than a bunch of stuff all thrown together that’ll most likely be cut down once the editing starts.

If I can, I’d like to draft more than one book this year but I’m going to be realistic, factoring in how much spare time I actually have outside of work.

I want to wish all those participating all the best! Have fun with your stories and feel free to challenge yourself here and there. Perhaps try a new POV or genre? Maybe try to incorporate a certain character trope you’ve always wanted to explore…or flip a common trope on its head! Just have fun!

October book haul

A bunch of the books I ordered arrived this week, on top of the ones I’d purchased in store. I am so excited to read them! Most of what I got was manga, but I also got the new Green Lantern thanks to my fantastic co-worker Scott! Thanks Scott! Oh, and I got two middle grade books that looked absolutely amazing.

My sister and I were freaking out over We Were There, which we read as kids. She loved the series, and Sand Chronicles. I also showed her the cover of Honey and Clover, which she thought looked super cute. I have to agree, I’ve always loved the art style of that series but I didn’t get a chance to read it when I was younger.

I’ll be sure to review all of these books once I’ve finished reading them, and I’ll try my best to keep these reviews spoiler free! I think I’ll have to put myself on a book buying ban until after Christmas, because I’ve already got two books that I’m going to be gifting myself, and I’m hoping that I’ll get gift cards from my family like I usually do…so that I can…buy more books.

What I really need is another bookshelf. I’ve been secretly thinking of how I can turn my brothers old bedroom into a library. I’ll of course keep his bed in there so he has somewhere to sleep when he visits, but like…perhaps I could just add two…or four shelves?

If I don’t convert his room into a library I might need to convince my sister that our game room could also double as a cute little library. It won’t be the Beauty and the Beast library of my dreams, but I think with the right décor and a little rearranging of the furniture, that it’ll look really cool.

If you’ve read my novel Vermin, you’ll know that there is a library on the top floor of the Crispin’s house. The library isn’t as pretty as the one in Beauty and the Beast, since they don’t live in a castle…but it’s cozy. I should try building it on the Sims4. I will if I have time. I’m mostly reserving my free time for reading and catching up on Netflix. I finally watched the final two episodes of Tokyo Revengers this week and cried. I wish there was an English translation of the manga because my French isn’t that great…and I don’t think my 9 year old niece should be translating that for me. I do have a French-English dictionary but the only books I can read in French well enough to understand are children’s picture books and middle grade graphic novels. Without pictures, I get stumped.

Well, I best finish my chicken nuggets. My sister was kind enough to share them with me. Also, if you liked the song in my reel it’s by Mitski. It’s called Working for the Knife. It’s really awesome. I’ve been listening to it while drafting some scenes this week.

Reading & Writing

The other day I was able to get a good chunk of writing done, which I’m absolutely thrilled about. Trying to manage several different projects, on top of work can be a bit challenging. I often have to remind myself to take breaks and make time for other things like reading, drawing or playing games with my friends.

I’ve been trying to get through my TBR by multitask reading. I tend to finish my manga and graphic novels within a few hours…usually stretching them out into two nights. Novels I’ve been taking my time with, mainly because I’m really enjoying the stories and want to hang out with the characters a little longer. My manga and graphic novels are series, so I get to see the characters again and again…but all the novels I’ve read recently are one offs and it makes me a little sad when I have to say goodbye to the story.

I have a group of novels that I can’t wait to start, so I made sure to get ahead in my reading goals back in August and September, so that I could have time to enjoy them before the year ends. I love to get to the point where I’m reading books in 1-3 days like I used to, but with work I just don’t have the time and during university reading books that fast really took away from the experience. I like to enjoy the books I read, actually pay attention to the language being used and the way the characters develop throughout the story.

Recently I’ve picked out a handful of 9-12 books to read. I like to jump into them every once in a while because they’re always extremely entertaining and they have the best cover art! I don’t know what it is about children’s literature, but the covers bring me so much joy! They’re always so interesting to look at. The cover artists are so talented! Bravo! These are also my favourite books to do for audiobook narration, so whenever I get auditions for them, I hunt them down and read them (if they’ve already released in stores!).

I was really hoping I’d be posting more art myself this month for #inktober but I haven’t. It’s not even that I haven’t drawn anything or had the desire to do so, I’ve just been more focused on my writing…and much of my free time I’ve wanted to read.

I knew prior to publishing that at a certain point I’d need to become more strict about my writing schedule, so whenever I have a day off I spend it working on my books. I’m glad that this was something I figured out early on, because I like to spend a lot of time on the planning stages and am constantly doing research while I work. One thing that I’ve been doing recently is compiling a list of outfits for certain characters/colour pallets. I notice as I get to know my characters better, that there are certain items of clothing or colours that they tend to wear, for example in Vermin, Rose always has ribbons in her hair. These little details help me connect well with my cast of characters, and I think it adds a little to their personality.

Rose Crispin by @nuggiedraws

Speaking of Vermin, book two has been coming along nicely. I’m extremely pleased with my progress and can’t wait to share more details on it. I know there are many people who are excited about the sequel, and I’m so, so, so incredibly happy to hear that! Thank you so much for letting me know your thoughts on the book.

As for my other projects, I’ve had to hold off on a couple of them temporarily while I work on other things, but I’m still thinking about how to improve them and also how to really build up to key events.

Creating a Middle Grade Book Rec List

My sister-in-law requested some series recommendations to help expand my nieces love of stories, so I’ve been on the hunt for a handful that I can gift her for her birthday/Christmas.

In my adult life, after realizing how hectic the holiday season gets, I’ve tried to get gifts for my family members as early as September. With my niece I keep track of things that she mentions throughout the year and buy them later. Shopping early also stops my wallet from crying after the holidays. December is the busiest month of the year for me outside of work, so planning my gifts and getting them wrapped up by the end of November saves me time and alleviates stress.

One thing that I’ve noticed is that I have to get a really good feel for a book before passing it along to my niece. Often I’ll read them first, because I would hate to give her something that she might not enjoy, and on top of it something that might be too scary or too mature for her at this time in her life.

I’d say 9-12 is a hard age group to navigate when it comes to young readers, because on top of each kid being an individual with their own unique interests, there are also different levels of maturity in each of the books and series one might encounter when shopping in this section. I was definitely one of those kids who read books intended for an older audience between 9 and 13…however, much of these books were manga and graphic novels. My experience as a reader definitely effects how I approach recommending books for kids, especially kids I don’t know personally like my niece. That’s why I don’t like to recommend books I haven’t read.

For adults who aren’t big readers themselves, I can imagine choosing books for others is a challenge. I salute you. My personal recommendation, if you have absolutely no idea what to buy the bookworm in your life is to just give them a gift card for your local bookstore. It’ll save you the headache, and they can pick out something they like. You can always pair it with a bookmark, or a mug if you want the gift to feel a little more personal.

I’m thinking of reading through a handful of middle grade books over the next month so that I can get a good idea of what might actually peak my nieces interest. When I can’t think of a series, one thing I try to do is to recommend people specific authors who I’ve read extensively like Judy Bloom, Jerry Spinelli, or Kenneth Oppel. All authors who I’ve read multiple works from, and really enjoyed despite not all of their books being contained within a series.

There are just so many great reads to choose from, but each person has their own preference and I feel it’s important to take that into consideration.

Another little project that I’ve started is that I’ve been creating lists of middle-grade books based on certain topics such as sports, theatre, mystery, family, spooky, pirates…etc…because this can really help figure out what books to recommend. Once my list is a little more organized, I’m going to post it on my blog, with the description. This is is going to include a chunk of books that I haven’t read, but just because something isn’t my cup of tea doesn’t mean it isn’t good and I want this list to be filled with books that I can come back to with my niece or a family friend with kids and go, “You really like basket ball, there’s this entire series on that, or you can read this book over here where the kids on the team have to hunt down a thief.”

I love helping people find their next favourite book, so for me this is kind of just a fun little project to do in between working and writing. I hope this list is useful, and I can’t wait to add more to it as I go.

Author Q & A

Today I will be answering some questions about myself and my work! I pulled question prompts from the website: The John Fox.

What is the first book that made you cry?

The first book that made me cry was one of the books in the Camp Confidential series. It was when the character Priya got into a fight with her best friend Jordan. I haven’t read this series since the sixth grade, but I remember the scene vividly. The book that made me cry after that was The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

Have you ever gotten reader’s block?

When I was in university I stopped reading novels for fun and only read what was on the syllabus…a lot of which was really dry. The entire time, I felt like I was being forced to read, and it was taking the fun out of one of my favourite hobbies.

I managed to rekindle my love of reading by reading more manga and graphic novels during university. These were my “books to read for fun” while the novels I was assigned for my classes continued to be my homework. Doing this prevented me from getting reader’s block, and I’ve been able to discover so many new favourite genres since graduating!

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Yes, and I did for a while with my poetry. I ended up publishing under my real name after I became a voice actress since it made sense to keep my work under the same name.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I write whatever I want to read. That’s what got me into writing in the first place. When it comes to readers I just try to keep in mind the age group of my target audience, and the genre I’m writing in. Other than that, during the first draft I go wherever the story takes me.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

The majority of my friends who write are poets, song writers and journalists. I love their work and support them whenever I can. Having friends who are into the arts is nice because you can cheer one another on! It’s also great because sometimes they have valuable knowledge to share such as tips, or lessons they’ve learned along their own journey. After graduating however, I’ve gotten to know a lot of amazing authors of a variety of genres, and am always excited to see their work! I’ve also had opportunities to work with some of them whether it was their my voice over work, or by doing editing and beta reading on early drafts of their books.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

That depends on the book. I have some books that are series, and others that are stand-alone. I mostly do whatever the characters ask for…so if the story requires more room for the characters to grow, I’ll do a series. If the events and character growth take place in a short amount of time then it will usually end up being a single book.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Keep reading! Keep practicing! Keep having fun! But please, please go outside a little more. We need a tan.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I’m getting better at meeting the deadlines I set for myself. Prior to publishing I would create really loose deadlines, and would do my best to stick to them, mainly because I knew that eventually I would need to learn to work within that time frame. Now, I try to write every day and keep track of my progress for each project so that I can meet all of my deadlines on time.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

A lot…like…I don’t even know anymore. Years ago I knew the exact number but now I can’t even remember. I can tell you that I’ve got about 3 projects on the go aside from The Vermin Series, that I’m super excited about.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I spend a lot of time researching, mainly because I never stop. Before I begin a book, I’ll research whatever I think I need to know at that introductory point…usually this is just to help form the setting. Afterwards I will continue to research as I go and compile all of that information into notes.

How many hours a day do you write?

It depends on the day. I try to write for an hour minimum whenever I can. If I miss a day, I don’t stress over it and make it up later on.

What did you edit out of this book?

There were a few scenes and some dialogue that was taken out. There was also a bunch of stuff that was added, to help flesh things out more. Most of what was added was from the sequel, which now gives me more room to expand since it was introduced earlier in the series.

How do you select the names of your characters?

I really like names, and depending on the story the names of a character are significant. In The Vermin Series, I picked named based on the time period that the story takes place, however in the case of my characters surnames, I believe I came up with those while glancing around my room. A lot of the time I find that characters end up being named after streets in my neighbourhood, or after plants.

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

I’d either be a singer or an artist…which I already do but I’ve missed singing for an audience these past few years. I do get to sing for work though, when I’m voice acting so that’s always fun!

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Some of my books have secret inside jokes that are between my sister and I. Only she’d know what they are an I like that, because the jokes are usually really stupid and corny but they make us laugh.

What was your hardest scene to write?

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but in book one the hardest scene for me to write was the one between Roland and his mother. I cried writing it, I cried editing it and I cry every time I read it.

Do you Google yourself?

Yes. I like to check the release dates of shows I’ve worked on and I find the fastest way is to look up my own name, mainly because it’s not popular.

What is your favorite childhood book?

This might be a long list…but if I had to pick Jerry Spinelli, Gordon Korman, Margaret Peterson Haddix and Judy Blume were my top authors. I also adored the Babysitter’s Club, Princess School and Camp Confidential Series.

Does your family support your career as a writer?

Yes, 100%. I’m extremely grateful and fortunate to have a family that supports all of my creative endeavors. It can make such a huge difference when you have the support of those closest to you.

Want to learn more about Vermin and where you can grab a copy? Check out the link above!