November Afternoon Tea with SJ + Know the Novel Part 2

Good afternoon!

I can’t believe a month has already passed and I’m typing up this post. (TBH, I actually don’t want to think about this month ending.) But anyhow, November’s nearing an end and it means I get to sit down with cups of teas and chat about my life. 


This month I’m snagging Know the Novel tag from Christine. I know Merie Shen was doing it and a couple of other bloggers I know, and it looked so much fun I couldn’t resist! So here I’ll intrude with my current WIP for Meno-Wrimo and start from part 2. 

But  before I carry off with this, pour yourself a steaming cup of herbal tea. I’m having Camomile which is an excellent antidote for my nerves (!) and will probably have rosehip later as well. 


Here we go…

1. How’s the writing going overall?

I wish I can say it’s been amazing, which is not true at all… *insert sad face*

In fact, this month’s writing has been slow. For every day I hit 2K or more, there would be a day I barely scraped in a few hundred. So at this point, I don’t think I’ll be able to complete my goal of 50K.

2. What’s been the most fun aspect about writing this novel so far?

Finding out mysteries I didn’t know existed! For example, my MCs (they’re siblings) come across information I didn’t know about in their search for this Spell called the 9th Chart. There’s an uncle I didn’t know about, there’s a confession that wasn’t planned (which is exactly what confessions are), and murders (okay, that was totally planned) and a myriad of things like that. 

3. What do you think of your characters at this point? Who’s your favorite to write about?

When I started out, I didn’t really like Sion, the older brother, since I had to literally exert myself to write in his POV. But now that I’ve been writing, I find I’m super fascinated by his story and how they’re intertwined with his sister’s.

4. Has your novel surprised you in any way?

You mean the scandalous family history I uncovered that had another secret layer to it with as much necromancy in it as the first?

5. Have you come across any problem areas?

Have you come across any problem areas? (You know when I start answering questions with another question I have a problem.) Well, there is this one problem I have in that I’ve reached almost 130K into the novel and finally got to the start of the midpoint…

6. What’s been your biggest victory with writing this novel at this point?

Consistency. I’m proud to say that although I haven’t been able to write as much every day as I would have liked to, I’ve only missed a couple of writing days in this month. Simply showing up to my catastrophic WIP surely counts as a victory. 

7. If you were transported into your novel and became any one of the characters, which one do you think you’d be? Would you take any different actions than they have?

I want to say Lystra because she’s so much fun, but I would definitely be Sion. And no, I’d probably not make different actions since he’s practically based off me. #sorrynotsorry

8. Give us the first sentence or paragraph then 2 (or 3!) more favourite snippets!

Since I started this novel in April, I guess I’ll go back right to the beginning…

When I was twelve, I failed the entrance exam of a prestigious magical institution known as Woodstone Abbey to some. This academy, located in the Mirrored world where everything was the same as the world you and I live in but–you guessed it, yes–it had magic. And surprise, we’re stuck in the non-magical side of the mirror, and we have to try extra hard to get into a magical institution. I know, it sounds pretentious. 

But it really wasn’t in our situation. 

S. J. Barnard

9. Share an interesting tidbit about the writing process so far! (For example: Have you made any hilarious typos? Derailed from your outline? Killed off a character? Changed projects entirely? Anything you want to share!)

I’m handwriting this novel, which comes with mishaps like cramped hands, mostly legible (but sometimes not) handwriting, & c. The most interesting thing that happened during writing is that I’ve created another secret society on top of the three I had and sabotaged the blooming friendship between one of the MCs. Again, #sorrynotsorry!

10. Take us on a tour of what a normal writing day for this novel looks like. Where do you write? What time of day? Alone or with others? Is a lot of coffee (or some other drink) consumed? Do you light candles? Play music? Get distracted by social media (*cough, cough*)? Tell all!

Writing looks like anything these days, since I write whenever I can. I usually try to block out my surroundings listening to my Woodstone or mood. soft-intense playlist drinking teas and hot chocolate and apple cider by the litres. I try not to distract myself on the phone by playing music on it so that I can’t wander off to use other apps, but Instagram is always interesting to wander off into…

And that’s it for today! 

Thank you for reading!  How was your November? Did you do NaNoWriMo? If so, how did it go? What WIPs are you working on currently? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

October Afternoon Tea with SJ + Updates

Good afternoon…or to be more exact, good evening!

I know, I was hoping I’d finish this post much earlier, but I worked my last night shoot yesterday which ended in the morning, so my bodily functions have reversed yet again. (Not to mention that I binge-watched yet another Japanese drama–and cried buckets.)

So, today, we’ll be having a firefly tea…

As it’s Halloween, we’ll be out in the garden where there are candles lit inside jack o’lanterns, twinkling lights hung across from the balcony, kettles full of apple cider, and the likes. Now, I don’t traditionally celebrate Halloween, but it’s impossible to ignore my neighbours blasting rocket fireworks into the indigo sky, so why not? There’s also helpings of kabocha-pumpkin pies, tarts, cupcakes, and my favourite–chestnut and sweet potato Mont Blancs!

All right, are you ready? Here we go…


I finished my Goodreads challenge of 120 books! *inserts cheers and fanfares* This month, I took reading leisurely like I did in September, so I didn’t read as much as I was going to, but given everything that happened with my life, I think that was a good call. 

October Books

  1. Girl, Wash Your Face…Rachel Hollis
  2. The Theban Plays of Sophocles…Sophocles/David R. Slavitt
  3. The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships…Suzanne Stabile
  4. The Bullet Journal Method…Ryder Carroll
  5. Archenemies…Marissa Meyer
  6. Supernova…Marissa Meyer
  7. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard 1: The Sword of Summer…Rick Riordan
  8. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich…Alexander Solzhenitsyn/H. T. Willetts
  9. Max…Sarah Cohen-Scali/Penny Hueston
  10. Dust…Kara Swanson
  11. Webデザイン良質見本帳…久保田涼子 (Web Design Sample Chart)
  12. Emily of New Moon…L. M. Montgomery
  13. Tess of the Road…Rachel Hartman

Overall, I think I read more nonfiction than usual which had been my goal, so that was good. I could also read a few books I’ve been meaning to read (the Renegades trilogy, Magnus Chase) and re-read my favourite…Emily of New Moon. The most interesting read of the month was Tess of the Road. It’s not for everyone, but I think that was quite singular. 


I got two jobs: One as a background performer, and the other as a medical interpreter trainee. At the end of the month, I’m rather sorry to say both are over for me (as of current), but believe they were a valuable experience. 

In backgrounding, I had night shoots, which meant I was coming back home at 5 am-ish. As a morning person, it was quite challenging. (In fact, I’m still kind of groggy right now…) Yet at the same time, I could meet many people on the set and forged valuable connections I greatly think of as a blessing. 

In medical interpreter training, I was pushed more than before in my interpreting skills. I usually think it’s pretty fun to translate, since I do those things mostly for volunteers and for church, but doing it as an actual job was another experience. Because I couldn’t attend the last day of training, I didn’t get the job, but I loved how present I would be in every situation and how I could still maybe pursue a path in medicine. We’ll see how all this leads, to…


Got your second cup of apple cider? (I know, I can’t promote apple cider enough.) Perhaps a bite of Mont Blanc? 

Okay, now that we’re settled, let’s dive into what my writing looked like for this month. 

As I mentioned in my Academics section, since I got my job I couldn’t focus as much as I wanted on my writing side of life. I was going to try to cram in Elijacomb Alexei Fleur the 17th before my Meno-WriMo thing, but stopped around 10K in because I realised I should focus a bit more on prep. Which is a pity, since I love Elijacomb. It’s one of those really light-hearted projects you can sit down to and start pounding away.

Anyhow, I was thinking I would revenge-write Elektriem since if any of you remember last year, that was the project that really broke me. I was journaling, outlining, and defining character sketches. I got to a point I felt comfortable to start tackling the project on November 1st. (Which is like tomorrow.)

And yet. 

I started re-reading Woodstone Abbey, my Camp NaNoWriMo project this year. I was writing it from April to June, the word count is around 98K, and I’d only gotten over the inciting event. Now, when you’ve written almost a 100K and your story just started, you usually have a problem of some sort. I spent the summer break trying to figure out what was wrong, tried to cut down the word count (and characters, might I say with a bleeding heart), and nothing was working. At last, I abandoned it to rot on my shelf thinking it was my worst work yet. 

Then, I re-read the entire thing this week. 

I don’t know what possessed me to do it, but I was suddenly seized with the urgent desire to read Woodstone. And like most  authors out there would know, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. Of course, there’s still some parts I could probably cut down and fix. But now, I’m really motivated to write Woodstone just to see what would happen. 

So that, my friends, is my Meno-WriMo project of the year. 

Life + Updates

Whew. That was a lot. But then again, a lot had happened this month. I wasn’t expecting October to be so…intense. 

Then there’s November. 

Yes, that’s right. November is the month us writers must brace ourselves for. 

And that’s why I’m going to be taking a short hitout. I know, it feels like I just took hitouts for the entire summer, and now I’m going to disappear again. But don’t worry, only for the month of November. I’ll be back on the last Saturday of November to the tea and also how my Meno-WriMo went. Which, by the way, is a bit of a nerve-wracking prospect, but hey, I trust in my future self. I’ll hopefully have a blast writing, even if sometimes it could get excruciating. 

And that’s that.

Thanks for reading! That’s it for today. How was October for you? Did you have anything new you started? What will November look like for you? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!