Author has written 7 stories for Pokémon.
LIFE UPDATE: Boyfriend left me a few weeks ago. Everything is likely to be put on hold indefinitely.
Hi everyone! It’s been a while since I updated my profile, so yeah, here is OceanSpiral new and improved. Or something like that.
Life update: I graduated university and found a job. Which are pretty much the two things that a socially stunted adolescent old me would never have believed. Future plans include going back to university to train to be a primary school teacher. Other than that, I’m pretty much the same unremarkable Mai. Just with a lot less free time.
I live with my parents and the boyfriend on a tiny wee island off the coast of Scotland. Last year, I graduated with a 2:1 degree in English and Psychology and ended up specialising in Creative Writing and Child Development respectively. I suppose the ultimate dream is to one day see a book I’ve written enter publication, but for now, I think I’d settle for a good job I’d enjoy. I don’t really know anything else that interesting about me. Have some favourites of mine so I can pretend to be a well-rounded, three dimensional, entertaining person.
Favourite colour: Purple
Favourite number: 9
Favourite word: ‘Indicative’. I don’t know, I like the sort of clicky sound it has.
Favourite film: Beauty and the Beast
Favourite anime series: Samurai Champloo
Favourite TV series: Doctor Who
Favourite animal: Penguins
Favourite game series: Kingdom Hearts
Favourite book: The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan
Favourite Pokemon: Mareep
Favourite snack: Prawn cocktail crisps. They’re a serious vice, I swear to God.
Favourite sport: Rugby!
Spirited has been completed.
Free Spirits has been completed.
Unbreakable Spirits has been completed and may be updated again.
Master’s Degree is on hiatus.
Opposites Attract has been discontinued.
Fight-Or-Flight is in-progress.
Soft Reset is in-progress
Links and Stuff
Top Eleven Writing Tips!
I've recently been asked by a few people for some tips on how best to improve one's writing. I've thought long and hard about good suggestions on how best to improve your writing and get the best out of your abilities and I've compiled a list of eleven suggestions I've been told or thought up over the many years I've been writing. So, let's find out Mai's Top Eleven Writing Tips! Why top eleven? Because I like to go one step beyond! (By the way, if you're awesome enough to get that reference, you win a cookie.)
This is quite possibly the simplest of the eleven pieces of advice here. I remember the first time we wrote a creative piece in my Higher English class and my teacher stood in front of the class and said very plainly "If you do not read, you cannot expect to write well." I totally agree with this. Very few people can sit down at a computer and write and have everything come out wonderfully. I know I can't; there's no shame in it. So, the easiest thing a person can do to enhance their skills is simply to read! Read anything and everything! Fill your brain with words. It doesn't have to be anything as big and complicated as War and Peace or as classic as Little Women or Pride and Prejudice. If you can read those kind of books, excellent, but don't panic if you don't. Pick up any book of a shelf in a library or your house and read it as carefully as you can. This can be classic fiction, poetry or popular fiction. Even good fanfiction will work! What I do when I need inspiration is simply pick up a book and read. Read it once for pleasure, get a feel of the story, then read it again, taking careful attention to images, techniques, metaphors or whatever-it-is that you feel works or is effective. Store this information away and soon, you'll find the seed of what you've read budding and sprouting, branching out as you take inspiration from what you've read.
2) Create realistic characters
Anyone who knows me knows that by my own admission, I am a character writer. Aristotle once said that plot is 'the soul' of any good literary work, and while I agree to a point, I firmly believe that the characters are vital to a novel. Think about it. You could have a plot that is the most spectacular, bombastic, amazing, fantastic thing you've ever read in your life, but if your character is bland, uninspired, unlikeable, or a cliche Mary-Sue, bottom line is, you're not going to enjoy the story. Good character design is gold for a good novel and you should treat your characters very carefully. These are people after all and should be realistic as such. One-sided characters are never enjoyable. One tip I do is write an OC form for every character, summarising their name, age, history, backstory, family, strengths, weaknesses, goals, mannerisms, quirks, fears, hopes and anything I feel is vital to understanding them. Their personality should be realistic, balanced and believable. If you're really struggling, take inspiration from a person you know. Write down key phrases about their personality and think about the way that person would be represented in fiction. Another tip is to never write things as simply as 'She is kind' or 'he is stubborn'. That is the ultimate no-no. Those are generic terms, and let's be honest, most likely to be true of the vast percentage of the population at some time or another. It's fine if your characters are kind or stubborn, but at least give them a reason and a bit of thought and background. Is he only stubborn when it comes to himself because he's self-centred? Or is he stubborn because he was raised to be proud and independent and refuses help from people? Is she kind to others only because she was bullied as a child and doesn't want anyone else to suffer? Or is it because she's secretly the kind of person who'll act kind and sweet to gain friends and influence people? If you think deeply about your characters like this, you will notice an immediate improvement in your writing.
3) Get a beta reader or become a beta reader
Beta-reading is a wonderful, wonderful thing and if you can, you should take advantage of it. Beta-reading, for those who don't know, is the process of giving someone a piece of work who will look over it critically with the aim of improving spelling, grammar, flow, description, characterisation and style. There are a lot of beta-readers on this website, but unfortunately not all of them are that skilled. My advice is to look around, read their beta-reading profiles carefully and find out what they're good at and what they're not so good at. A good tip is perhaps to go to an author you admire or someone that is skilled in an area you're not too skilled at. You will be amazed what a fresh eye on your work will do to improve its quality, and it has the bonus of teaching you what you're doing right and what you're doing wrong. For skilled writers, becoming a beta-reader is also an excellent way to improve even more. I beta-read on occasion and find that being able to spot mistakes and errors, as well as effective technique, in another person's work allows me to think more carefully and critically about my own work, perhaps avoiding silly mistakes I would normally make. And if you're really scared about going to a prolific author or someone who looks quite scary or harsh, just ask your friends!
Okay, who among us here is guilty of, once finding a style or character-design we like and are good at, remain stubbornly stuck in that rut? *raises hand* Yes, I do it too. Everyone does. We all have a 'comfort zone' in writing, whether that be a particular tense, style, structure or character design we're fond of and believe we're quite capable of doing. A tip to get better is to get out of that comfort zone. Are you a third person, past tense writer? Write something in first person, present tense. Do you like romance fiction? Forget that, write some horror. Do you write characters very shy, kind and caring? Shake it up by creating a flamboyant, mischievous loud-mouth! You have to experiment. You will never improve if you stay in the same style all the time. I'm not saying you should write screeds and screeds of this new style. Start small. A short paragraph in first person present, a cameo of a loudmouthed character, a segment of the most bizarre science fiction you've ever seen. Experimenting forces you to think of things in a different way than normal, which will make you adapt and change what you already know to make it all work and slot together. Do you write epic novels of upwards of 100,000 words? Challenge yourself to condense a short story into 2,500 words or less. More of a short story writer? Expand and elaborate on a plot and make it reach 50,000. Changing your style, even temporarily, will show you exactly what you're capable of in those specific genres or structures and hopefully make you stretch your imagination just that little bit further, which should hopefully teach you some valuable lessons for when you go back to normal.
5) Listen to music!
This is a peculiar one, I'll admit and probably not for everyone. I know a lot of people prefer to work in silence without any type of distraction, but if you are the kind of person who finds listening to music helps while typing away, you'd be amazed by how much it can help. I have a playlist on my iTunes called "Writing Music" which I use to get me in the mood for virtually any kind of scene I have to write. What is music but poetry written to sound, and if you really listen to the lyrics of a song, you can get a very good idea of how to communicate certain ideas to an audience. As well as that, we all have that 'one song' that gets us crying, that 'one song' that reminds us of the person we love, the 'one song' that riles us up and gets us motivated. Use these to your advantage! Need to write an epic battle scene? Stick on some rock, heavy metal or punk music and stab away at the keys to the wailing guitars and booming drum beats. Writing romance? Stick on the sappiest, cheesiest, slowest romantic song you can find. If you're in a relationship, a song that reminds you of your partner is always a good one. Need to write a tear-jerking scene? Put on that one song that turns on the waterworks, tap into the feelings it's associated with and start writing. Music is very good at helping us remember things and if you listen to songs that mean a lot to you or are particularly emotive, that will help you remember the strong, intense emotions you felt at the time and then you'll be able to articulate them well into your writing.
6) The 'leave it and read' strategy.
This is another of my favourite techniques to use. Now, if you're anything like me, you're probably the eager type who, once they've finished a chapter is desperate to get it uploaded and done so people can read and review. Well, did you know this eagerness could be quite damaging to your story's quality? If you finish, skim through it one time to check for any glaring errors and then submit it rashly, you could be missing out on a whole plethora of things only a beta-reader's critical eye could pick up on. If you can afford to, try and wait some time between finishing and uploading. Finish the chapter, go away for a couple of hours, watch some TV, play a video game, go out for coffee with a friend, and then come back to it. Looking at your work again with a fresh eye will allow you to read it in an almost 'unbiased' view and you'll spot minor errors a lot easier than if you were doing it impatiently straight after finishing. Now, I realise, a lot of people have deadlines and readers to please and whatnot, but if you can, leaving at least an hour between finishing and the final read-through before updating will do you the world of good. I try to leave at least a day between finishing and uploading just so I can look upon my work with a fresh perspective and hopefully what is already there. Simple enough, right, and you're probably wonder what on earth it's doing on the list. Well, you'd be amazed at just how many people don't do this. Don't shoot yourself in the foot, people. This technique is about as easy as it gets and it is so beneficial in the long run.
7) Be selective
A lot of people think more words = more quality, right? It's a common misconception. I'm sure you've heard about the 'less is more' principle and I'm here to tell you that it's so true. When I say 'be selective', what I mean is, cut out any unnecessary words that you don't need. Yes, I'm sure that passage you wrote about how the kitchen looked, right from the the way the sun caught the glimmer of the white tiles, to the magnets stuck jauntily on the fridge, to the mingling smells and sights and sounds was a spectacular piece, but think about it. Is a passage going into that much detail really necessary in a scene where the MC just walks right by the kitchen on his way to school? If you can say things in less words, then do so. Don't assault readers with paragraph after paragraph of needless description when it doesn't add anything to ambience, tone or character development. Never be descriptive just for the sake of being descriptive otherwise you'll just come across as pretentious and precocious and people won't want to read your work. For example, I've read a poem that takes up a whole book, and as beautiful as it was, I got bored of it and I got more from a poem that was just three linesI've seen a lot of talented writers try and be 'clever' with what they're writing by trying too hard with images and metaphors and instead of people saying "Oh wow, that's a brilliant image," all I end up thinking is that they're being pretentious. You'll alienate more readers than you'll gain if you try too hard. Be selective about your work. It's a showcase of your best. Better to have three excellent sentences than twelve mediocre ones.
8) Write as much as you can!
Again, a very simple one, but one that's often forgotten about. Stephen King said that "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things. Read a lot and write a lot." You will never get better unless you practice. And practice means writing as much and as often as you can. If you get that random 4AM inspiration all writers know and dread, then follow it up! Or if you really can't write right then and there, scribble down a few key phrases or ideas and go back to it later. We all know inspiration is a rather fickle friend and when it does come around, it's often at the most inopportune times. A good idea is to carry a notebook on you at all times, or if you have a smartphone with a document editor, you're gonna be laughing. Another problem for writer's is motivation and the dreaded writer's block. If you're not motivated, challenge a friend to a writing prompt competition and give yourself an incentive for writing. Or better yet, enter a real competition! If you have writer's block, try writing something else or just scribbling some ideas for scenes or characters down on paper. The key to developing any talent or hobby is just to practice, so please, practice as much as you can. And don't worry about writing something badly or if you think it's 'rubbish'. Having something down on paper is better than having nothing, and after all, you can always come back to it later to edit.
9) Don't tell, show.
I can already hear the groan of impatience and disdain that I'm including the most common piece of writing advice ever on the list, but I can't leave it out, it's simply that important. Good writers never tell us things, they show us. Think about it. What's more interesting? "Jacob was a compulsive liar." or "Jacob paused, the lie tantalisingly sweet on his tongue as it always was, the act of deceit a burning thrill he never tired of." I hope you'd say the latter. Don't ever waste time telling the readers things. Readers are smart people, they can infer from what you say and make judgements and form conclusions. Show us what you mean, don't tell us. Oh, and while I'm here, this seems to be a good place to include a particular pet peeve of mine. Do not, I repeat, do not ever describe your characters in one big chunky paragraph. Never introduce a character by saying "he stood at such-and-such-a-height, he weighed such-and-such, his hair was brown, his eyes were green, and he wore casual denim jeans with a dark red jacket." If you describe your characters like that, you are not doing yourself or your characters justice. Think of introducing a character a little like a striptease (vulgar, I know, but bear with me). Reveal a little at a time, show us the nuances, slowly and carefully, until we have the full picture. A sentence like "She yawned and scraped back a lock of her cinnamon coloured hair and then smoothed down the folds of her oversized woollen jumper" is much more effective than "She had brown hair and wore a thick jumper."
I consider conflict and tension vital to the plot of a story. Conflict doesn't have to mean like physical fights, or big epic battles in this context, but rather something a little more domestic. Conflict between characters, for whatever reasons, is always worth putting in. Consider carefully the relationships between your characters. Take a boyfriend and a girlfriend for example. Yes, they love each other dearly, but perhaps there's some habit of the girl's that the boy hates? Perhaps he doesn't like how much make-up she wears. Perhaps she doesn't like how much time he spends playing video games? Perhaps they argue over this? What about the relationship between a rebellious daughter and a traditional mother? What about two siblings that love each other deep down but fight like cats and dogs? Conflict doesn't just have to be between the bad guys and good guys. There can be conflict among good guys and good guys, and bad guys and bad guys, and this will make your story a lot more realistic. Imagine how boring your favourite novel would be if all the characters got on all of the time. Real life isn't like that, so why should it be that way in a novel?
11) NEVER force it.
Now, I know Hint 8 was "write as much as you can", but there is a very important distinction to make here. If you are capable of writing, then by all means, go for it. If you have writer's block on one thing but not on another, try the other thing. When I say 'never force it', I mean that if you're struggling, that if the prose isn't coming naturally, do not force yourself to keep going. If you force literature, it comes out contrived and false and isn't an accurate representation of your skill and capabilities. Forcing work makes you operate at diminished capacity and it's likely you won't be satisfied with what you produce. My advice is if you're struggling with a particular chapter, leave it. Do something else. Write something else if you want, but don't ever make yourself do something. As authors, we all struggle with self-confidence and worry our work isn't up to standard, and several of us have expectant readers to satisfy, but if it is not happening for you, take a break. Calm down, come back to it later and pick it up then. Your readers would rather wait a week extra for something amazing than have a mediocre update released on time.
Sienna Volbeda never wanted to be a Pokemon Trainer. Her father, Cal, a dominating and controlling man owned a dojo full of "powerhouses", all Rock, Steel, Ground and Fighting types that terrorised Sienna and her mother Suzanne. After being subjected to their violent natures, Sienna steadily grew to resent and hate the creatures known as Pokemon. Her father, determined to make his daughter a trainer, bullied and harrassed his daughter to become one, but she refused. Sienna vowed never to be a trainer. Ever.
This all changes when Sienna wakes one day and finds her mother gone. The only clue to her whereabouts is the note she left in her place. The note points her in the direction of an "incident in Hoenn" in which her mother has gone in search of. Even more shocking is the revelation that her violent father, who disappeared two years ago for unknown reasons, is somehow involved.
Faced with no other option, Sienna, the girl who never wanted to be a Pokemon trainer has no choice but to get a Pokemon and go after her mother, so scared she is for her mother's safety. So Sienna and her starter Pokemon Meloi (a spirited Mareep) embark on a rescue mission. However, this rescue mission unwittingly turns into something much more earth-shattering. Sienna and her newfound friends, both human and Pokemon, must deal with something no-one had ever anticipated to happen. COMPLETE!
Mai and Kei are both Elite Pokemon trainers, best friends since they were both children, but they couldn't be any more different. Mai, born into a battling family and practically raised on a battlefield is a fierce and fiery trainer who never lets anything get in her way. Kei is a lazy, unmotivated, chocolate loving and easy going type of guy, but whose calm and carefree nature hides a genius in battle.
When both trainers head to Sinnoh to explore the new region, they are shocked to find themselves ambushed and attacked by Mai's engima of a brother, Alec and his partner, a beautiful Russian woman named Irina. Alec's reputation as a super Elite is proved to be true, as he has no problems dispatching Mai in battle with only a few Pokemon. Even more disturbing is his revelation that he needs "strong trainers" and his attempts to capture Mai for this cause.
Faced with little other choice, Mai and Kei must discover what Alec's motivations are for wanting strong trainers, all whilst struggling with their developing and confusing romantic feelings for each other. DISCONTINUED!
A collection of background stories and filler chapters unable to fit into the main plotline of Spirited. Read about Jasmine and Nikki's heartbreaking struggles to find Sienna when she leaves them behind in Lavaridge Town. Laugh at Elliot's disasterous attempts to cook. Marvel at the rare display of brotherly affection between Lance and Elliot. And discover exactly why Meloi was abused, why Monty evolved so prematurely and what Nathan's life was like before the organization. Updated sporadically. COMPLETE! (Later publications possible)
Sequel to Spirited. Carrying on one and a half years from Spirited's conclusion, a now 17 year old Sienna discovers that her father has been released from jail and wishes to see her. In his newly set up dojo in Goldenrod City, in Johto. Reluctantly, Sienna agrees to see him. Alongside Elliot, Jasmine, Nikki and Scott, Sienna heads to Johto to discover what her father wants. She is shocked to find him a reformed man, running his dojo for disadvantaged children to learn Pokemon training. Cal issues Sienna with a challenge: beat four of the Johto Gym Leaders and he will allow Sienna to challenge him in a battle. So, joining up with Cal's newest apprentice, Bailey Gray, the party of six begin exploring Johto on the hunt for Gym Badges. However, a dangerous new menace is hovering somewhere on the horizon.
Nathan, and his old friend from Unova, Helene, are out for revenge on Sienna. Helene springs Nathan from prison, and the two immediately begin working on a new kind of technology. But this time, they aren't looking for Legendary Pokemon. Their new goal is to learn how to manipulate already captured Pokemon to get them to turn on their trainers. Therefore, it's now up to Sienna, Elliot, Jasmine, Nikki, Scott, Bailey and even Cal to thwart Nathan and Helene's plans. Along the way, mysteries will be revealed, motives will be understood and terrible sacrifices will be made. COMPLETE!
Ivy McKenzie is your typical second year Saffron University student studying for a Bachelor's in History, with absolutely no interest in Pokemon. However, when she fails a module, jeopardizing her university degree, she is forced to undertake a three month long summer study course for extra credit. Her only viable option of these courses is a three month long Pokemon journey in which she must travel around the Kanto region and collect six specific Pokemon to be presented to the Pokemon Studies department of Saffron University. However, there's a catch. She's given no starter Pokemon to help, is provided with only one pack of Pokeballs, and the Pokemon she's been asked to catch? Not as "common" as the department would like to believe.
Accompanying her on this three month course is her best friend, and innately serious trainee teacher, Jack Hartman who for some unknown reason desires to capture a rarely found Rapidash. Along the way, both young adults will discover many important things about the world of Pokemon, themselves as people and trainers, and reaffirm their views on what it is they really want from life. DISCONTINUED.
Quotes make up quite a big part of my life. Here are some of my favourites :D
"Most everyone's mad here... You may have noticed I'm not all there myself," - Cheshire Cat, Alice in Wonderland.
"Most people think 'lonely' means 'alone'. It doesn't. You can be lonely in a packed room, if the one person you're missing isn't there.' - Mrs Brown, Mrs Brown's Boys
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." - Oscar Wilde
"Why walk on thin ice when you can dance on it?" - Shadow of Eckhart
"I don't know if we each have a destiny, or if we're all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it's both. Maybe both is happening at the same time.." - Forrest Gump, Forrest Gump
I'd rather die tomorrow than live a hundred years without knowing you." - John Smith, Pocahontas
A ship is safe in harbour, but that's not what ships are for." - William Shedd
"Life is like a puzzle and we're all a piece of it. Now, you can try and change your piece, bend it or whatever so it might fit somewhere else, but that only makes more problems than it solves. Because now your piece doesn't fit very well, and you've got two of that piece, yet none of the original, see?" - The Neverending Meep
"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." - Doctor Seuss
"I realize now that the circumstances of birth are irrelevant. It is what one does with the gift of life that determines who you are." - Mewtwo, Mewtwo Returns
"You asked me once if I'd rather live here on in America. I'd rather live wherever you are."
"Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid." - Albert Einstein
"Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn't people feel as free to delight in whatever sunlight remains to them." - Rose Kennedy
"Maybe you don't need the whole world to love you, you know? Maybe you only need one person." - Kermit, The Muppet Movie
'No-one really starts out kind. All we know how to do at first is want. We want food, we want attention... it's just natural survival instinct, I guess. But kindness is something that we all have to learn as we go. It's something that grows and develops over time... the same way our bodies do.' - Tohru Honda, Fruits Basket
Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall." - Confucius
"The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it." Rafiki, The Lion King
"Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. After that, who cares? He's a mile away and you've got his shoes!' Billy Connolly
"There are plenty of others willing to call you a failure. A fool. A loser. A hopeless souse! Don't you ever say it of yourself. You send out the wrong signal. That is what people pick up. Do you understand? If you care about something fight for it. You hit a wall, push through it. There's something you need to know about failure, Tintin: You can never let it defeat you." - Captain Haddock, The Adventures of Tintin
See you, space cowboy