The Case of the Ever Elusive NaNoWriMo

Tomorrow is the scariest night of the year–the day before a bunch of insane authors begin to write 50,000 words in 30 very short days to celebrate NaNoWriMo (and caffeine). I planned to be among them this year, even announcing my novel on the site and outlining my brainchild.

And then, school. I was hoping to be able to balance school and writing time enough to participate, but things are ramping up as we begin preparations for our final assignments. It only gets busier from here on out. πŸ˜‰

My notes are so fully developed, that I’ve decided it’ll be safe enough to set them aside for next year. πŸ˜‰

But I still have plans. *rubs hands together* Pretty cool ones, actually!

  1. School. πŸ˜‰
  2. NaNoWriMo auxiliary extraordinaire. Since I have at least five local friends and numerous internet ones participating, I’m excited to help with brainstorming and word sprinting. πŸ˜‰ And I also have a few siblings planning to attempt it, so I just might get to be a snack queen. πŸ˜€ ❀
  3. Releasing Christmas stories! I have three Christmas stories in the editing stages. One of them is brand, brand new, and I think you’ll like it. πŸ˜‰ I’ll be putting out the call for reviewers soon (Lord willing!), so stay tuned. πŸ˜‰
  4. Actual writing. It’s still a challenge for me to fit in writing (even if it’s less than 50k), but I’m aiming for something a little more attainable. πŸ˜‰ My project? Finishing the first draft of “Legend”, a sequel to The Twin Arrows. This one follows a new cast of characters, but I promise some of your favorites will make appearances. πŸ˜‰ It needs about 6k more words to be finished, so I’d appreciate your prayers!

Just for fun, here’s the Pinterest board. Have fun trying to figure out what’s going on! πŸ˜‰

And maybe an excerpt, yes? (Warning: rough draft syndrome. It will be edited, I promise.)

Cutting his way through the fields, he walked briskly toward the back of the town where the woods met the mountain. A line of targets had been set up in a row. He drew his bow back and let the arrow loose all in one swift fluid motion. Before it even reached its mark, he had another ready, muscles taut and eyes narrowed.

His trainer would have rewarded him with a β€œwell done” and move his target farther away for another try. Seth would have shot him a jealous look and stepped up his own game. They were all gone now. Fighting the rebels. Leaving behind the women, the children, the elderly, and Gavynn. The king’s army didn’t want a coward.

He left these thoughts behind him at the training ground and plunged into the woods. It was quiet here, and he matched his movements to the calm stillness around him. One foot in front of the other. Soft footsteps. Slight, cunning movements. A rustling sound caught his ears, and he ducked behind a tree.

A chipmunk raced by, near enough he could have reached out and tweaked its tail. It paused to scrabble at the base of the tree and to empty its cheek pockets into the hole. Covering them over with expert paws, it dashed away up the tree, leaving Gavynn alone again.

A smile came to his thoughts and showed itself briefly on his face. Even though he had missed the sunrise, this would be something to tell Farren. He settled in for the waiting, his body relaxed but his eyes alert, sweeping the area facing him. The light in the forest brightened to yellow, and a cool breeze tempted his eyes to drift shut.

He heard the beast before he saw it. His eyes sprang open to view a magnificent bull standing in perfect profile a few yards away. Closing his fingertips around the fletching of an arrow, he inched it out of the quiver and knocked it onto the string. It was in flight fractions of a second later, and he watched as it sped toward its mark true to his aim.

Now came the part he never liked. Throwing his bow over his shoulder, he stood up and walked over to his prize.

Caelan came into the barn just as he was hanging the meat. β€œWhy didn’t you take me with you?”

β€œCan you shoot?” Gavynn looked at him. There was no use telling his friend the reasons he had left him behind.

β€œYes.”

β€œI’ll take you next time.”

 

So, anyway–these are my current plans. I’m learning to be flexible when God asks me to change them and enjoy every moment of it. πŸ˜‰

What are your plans for November? Are you looking forward to a sequel to The Twin Arrows?

Bookish Blessings: October Book Haul

I can’t believe I’m actually doing a book haul post!! This month has been big on book blessings. πŸ˜€

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Aaaaaaaaahhhh!!!! It’s seriously a dream come true to be holding this book in my hands. ❀ I have loved all of the books contained in this volume in their ebook form. When Hope Ann announced it was available in paperback, I jumped at the chance. My gorgeous copy arrived only days later. I can’t wait to re-read these lovely books. πŸ˜€ (You can’t see in this picture, but that book spine is THICK!)

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I picked up this little book at a library book sale. My mom enjoyed reading it years ago, so I’m looking forward to seeing how I like it. πŸ˜‰ It looks like a sweet one! (And my little pumpkin just had to make it into the picture…)

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Oooo, look! A review copy! I love Kelsey Bryant’s writing, so I’m excited to read this book in the next few days.

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Yeah, I’ve read this before, and I have a first edition e-copy, but I kinda needed the shiny new version. (Also, it’s free. πŸ˜€ )

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This is what you do with $0.99 left on an Amazon giftcard. πŸ˜€ I can’t wait to sample this author’s writing. πŸ˜‰

My bookshelf is getting tired of new arrivals being crammed onto the shelves, but I’m not–that’s for sure. πŸ˜‰ I’m so grateful for the beautiful reads I’ve been blessed with, and I can’t wait to give the new books a try!

What amazing books have you bought (or borrowed) this month?

(Thanks to my sister, Anna, for taking the higher quality pictures! πŸ™‚ )

Book Review: The River Fox

35958977“Fun meets fantasy in volume two of Jonny Jimison’s graphic novel series ‘The Dragon Lord Saga!’ Explore the epic fantasy worldbuilding of The Lord of the Rings with the cartoony humor of Calvin and Hobbes! The sand nomads of the southern desert have two new slaves: eleven-year-old Marco Millar and his horse, Scout. When the other slaves call on Marco to lead an escape, he has to decide if he is able – or willing – to be the hero they believe him to be. Meanwhile, Marco’s brother Martin tries to hold his own against a dragon, a giant spider, and a foul-tempered princess – all the while chasing down the hooded bandit known as the River Fox… But the River Fox might be closer than he ever imagined!” (from Goodreads)

After immensely enjoying the first book in this series by Jonny Jimison, my sister and I couldn’t wait to get our hands on the sequel. True to tradition, we read it together and had a hilarious time. πŸ˜‰ It had the same wonderful characters as before–darling Marco, the world’s most irritating talking horse, and the bumbling Martin–with a few new faces added to the cast. Juni is my favorite, and I love how she and Marco ask each other questions while they are on the run. πŸ˜€ ❀ (And Tombow, I love you too.) We were so caught up in the story that we finished it on the way to church and may or may not have freaked out slightly whenever we couldn’t see the satchel in pictures. (And there was so much late night giggling, that I’m afraid we did have to be reminded to be quieter. :P)

(Just a note for parents of small children, there are a few scary creatures, magical elements, and some attitudes parents may not want children emulating.)

Best part:

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Image used by permission of the author. Check out his site for more!

Altogether, I enjoyed this graphic novel and will be impatiently waiting for the next book. πŸ˜‰

Second Chances Book-Blogger Tag

We all love second chances, right? We also all love books. (If you don’t love books, what are you doing here? πŸ˜› ) Welcome to a blog tag that combines both of them. πŸ˜‰

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Name a book you expected to dislike but ended up loving because you stuck with it to the end.Β 

Earlier this year, I was asked to review a new release by an Indie Christian author. It looked very sweet, but I was nervous about reading it since one of the themes is a very hard (but realistic) topic. I started reading. I talked about it with my mom a lot while I read, checking things with her, telling her what I thought about them, and asking her advice to see if I should finish it. I ended up being very pleased with the book and blessed by the story. While it’s not a topic I would like to read about every day, I was impressed by how the author handled it. πŸ˜‰

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This book was Martin Hospitality by Abigayle Claire. (And it’s totally okay if you misread the title as “Martian” because I always do. πŸ˜› )

Admit it–we all judge books by their covers. What is one book you’ve given a try and enjoyed despite a less-than-appealing cover?

Mwahaha, a question we are all afraid to answer. πŸ˜‰ A few years ago, I launched into an Indie fantasy novel, cringing at the cover. (I hate saying that, but the cover has been changed to an extremely gorgeous one now, so it’s okay.) πŸ˜‰ I think it helped that I was reading it on a Kindle and didn’t have to look at it every time I read, but it’s mainly because the book was SO. AMAZINGLY. MIND-BLOWINGLY. FUN. πŸ˜€

That book happened to be Water Princess, Fire Prince by Kendra Ardnek.Β 

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(First cover)

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(New cover!! πŸ˜€ ❀ ❀ )

Ranting opportunity! Which author are you forever mad at for denying a character their second chance? Talk about it. πŸ˜€

Hmmm… I almost don’t have an answer for this one. I am still a little bit upset about Charlie from Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott. (But the author did give him a ton of chances, soooo…? πŸ˜€ )

Do you have a favorite book that includes a theme of second chances?

Yes, I do.

Oh, you want to hear about it?

Google defines “second chances” as an opportunity to try something again after failing one time. In this instance, I’m defining it a little more as forgiving and forgetting. πŸ˜‰ This book is chock full of forgiveness. It’s often veeeeryΒ hard for the characters to do, but I think that makes it all the more compelling. πŸ˜‰

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And this book is Crossroads by Paul Willis. πŸ˜‰

Bonus question: Name a favorite fictional romance that only succeeded because the characters were willing to let go of their first impressions and move on.Β 

Okay, major SPOILERS here. RUNAWAY if you haven’t read Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott.Β But if you’re as crazy about Rose and her “Don Quixote” as I am–STAY. πŸ˜€ Aren’t they just the best??! I love the way their relationship grows. ❀

Those are the questions and my answers! Now it’s tagging time!

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I tag Victoria Lynn at Ruffles and Grace, Lydia Howe at Noveltea, and Maggie Joy at My Attic Corner. Also, anyone else who wants to join in is quite welcome to! Just put the link to your post in the comments so we can see your answers. (You are also welcome to steal the featured image.) πŸ˜‰

Brain-Tired Writer

My brain was tired. Dead tired. Almost as if it had concentrated all of its energy on breathing and didn’t have space left over for anything else. Which was a big bummer because I actually had time to write.

I’ve spent the last six months editing and rewriting and editing stories. Occasionally, I’ve been able to fit in a short story here and there, but I still haven’t had the time to devote to purely creative writing. This past week, I picked up a half-finished story I love and set to work on it again. The ideas were flowing, I grew excited about my characters again, and I wrote over 1,000 words in the time leftover after homework. This happiness lasted for two days.

And then my tired day. Having the opportunity to do something and not being able to is like being snowed in so badly you can’t go sledding. (Except, I don’t like sledding, so never mind.)

I was up late that night making breakfast, so I decided to pull out my computer and maybe get a little writing done. I opened up a blank GoogleDoc and starting writing. It wasn’t a brainstorming, outlining, or a story proper. It was just me writing down all my thoughts of what was gonna happen next, scene by scene in a rambly, tired way.

But guess what??!!! I had so many new ideas. I have a clear idea of what’s gonna happen next. And I discovered that with just a little brain play, I can get my creative juices working. πŸ˜‰

Let’s see if I can remember this next time I have a brain-tired day. πŸ˜‰

Do you try to write when you’re tired? What’s your favorite technique for finding inspiration when your creativity is dead?

Book Review: Continuing Destiny

25578194“What would Maria’s life look like three years after The Destiny of a Galaxy? What about James, Quint, and Winter? This collection of four stories gives readers a glimpse into the romance, faith, trails, and everyday lives of this group as they each explore their Continuing Destiny.”

This short story collection by Sarah Holman was a satisfying wrap-up to The Destiny Trilogy. πŸ˜‰

Spoken Words
Aw, my babiessss!!! You did exactly what I wanted you to. Thank you so much. πŸ˜€ On a more clear-headed note, I love how Quint told Winter to stop pretending she was Maria. God gives people different personalities for a reason. πŸ˜‰

Changing Again
This story was pretty sweet. πŸ˜€ I love how Maria is learning to embrace even the good changes in her life like SPOILER ALERT!Β a little tiny prince–squeal!! END OF SPOILER And the banter between β€œthe boys” cracks me up as always. *huge, happy grin*

Maybe Someday
I felt a little bit sad reading this one. I hope Quint comes to terms with his early life and uses his testimony for God’s work. πŸ˜‰

Broken Places
I love this conversation between Maria and Winter about how God is healing and will heal them from the past. It’s an even more satisfying epilogue than all the cute, downright adorable friendship and romance stuff. πŸ˜€

Altogether, this was a great, quick read! Please pick it up even just for the banter. XD

A Creative College Project

Last week, one of my college classes ended. (Yay for more writing time!) It was an accelerated graphic design class I was taking with my brother, and, while it had its ups and downs, our final project was pretty awesome. πŸ˜€

Earlier on in the semester, our professor informed us we would get to make a full-size movie poster, book cover, or album cover for a well-known work as our final project and present it on paper. It sounded both exciting and daunting since we hadn’t learned anything yet.

We learned the ins and outs of a computer program, color theory, some composition, and how to find royalty free images among many other things. When it was time to start our final projects, I chose to make a fan cover for The Giver by Lois Lowry. (It’s a really good fantasy/dystopian book. Just don’t judge it on the basis of its movie and be sure to skip chapter five. πŸ˜€ )

I had a vague concept of what I wanted in mind, so I searched for the royalty-free images I expected to need.

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I had two other possible pictures picked out, but I liked the age and depth of expression on this one. So, I present to thee–Jonas!

I set up the dimensions (off handy-dandy Amazon since I wanted them to match a real book), imported my model images, and set to work drawing.

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Here’s a picture of it in progress. And yes, that is a Mac. I started the semester soooΒ clumsy on those, but I’ve gained a little more skill and confidence thanks to experience and excessive Googling. πŸ˜€

As you can see, dear Jonas’ face was reduced to the middle third, and I drew it with some very awesome tools. Also, I painted his eyes blue, which I’ll explainΒ more later…

We don’t have Macs at home, so I spent many hours in the school library fiddling with tiny digital brush strokes. That really wasn’t any problem though since I had great, inspiring music to keep me company. πŸ˜€ Although this song is actually from the movie, I love it to pieces, and it perfectly sums up the entire atmosphere of the book for me. πŸ˜‰

Getting our final projects designed on the computer was half the battle. Printing it was the Armageddon. Long story short, we tried four different printers and finally, miraculously, and very much relieved-ly printed them late at night just minutes before Costco closed. God really pulled some strings for us and reminded us how much He was in control of everything. I’m very grateful it turned out. πŸ˜‰

I printed two copies just in case I cut one wrong. (Our rotary cutter, usually used for quilting, came quite in handy!) Both turned out, so I followed my brother’s example and mocked it up on a real book. Just look at this… ❀

The Giver fan cover

Here’s the finished front cover!! πŸ˜€ ❀ I went with a minimalistic black and white cover with a soft, paint-y look. I love the “clean” look, and the black and white color scheme is a HUGE element of the book. Also, the eye color is another important element, but you have to read the book to figure it out. πŸ˜€ You can’t see it very well in this picture, but there’s a single tear sliding down his cheek.

The Giver back cover

And the back cover!! πŸ˜€ I’m very proud of how that apple turned out. *pats self on back* The margins turned out a little goofy because of how we folded it, but that’s okay.

The Giver spine

I enjoyed choosing meaningful elements to include on the cover, figuring out how to use all the painting tools, and seeing the finished product. And I’m still in awe of how God worked out the printing. πŸ˜‰

Have you ever designed a book cover or something else? What is your favorite program to use?

Social Media: Etiquette

Welcome to the last post of my blog series on social media. Just a quick recap before we get down to the nitty-gritty of etiquette. *curls finger on teacup* Wait, wrong etiquette…

After “An Introduction of Sorts” where I laid out what exactly I was gonna be talking about, we thought through some good social media goals together. This post was one of my favorites since it laid the foundation for everything. πŸ˜‰ After that was super fun post about choosing platforms, one on embracing safeguards, and another on time management. (*blushes* I still struggle with this one. Forever, probably.)

And now it’s etiquette time! *drops a curtsy*

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Okay, not that kind. But it’s similar. Basically this: I need to act as politely and God-honoring-ly as I would in face-to-face interaction. The “rules” aren’t different just because it’s on a computer. Here are just a few specifics I’ve identified for myself…

  1. Think before you post.Β Everyone says to do this, and I tend to think that’s it’s just another one of those sayings; but it’s actually quite invaluable. πŸ˜€ I’ve saved myself a lot of unnecessary drama by refraining from posting something or backspacing that witty put-down that flashed into my mind. If I wouldn’t say it in person, in front of others, and in front of Christ, guess what? They’re all on social media. The rules don’t change. πŸ˜‰
  2. Also, think after you post. This is something I’ve been learning a lot lately! I can’t count the number of times I’ve looked back at a post and found a horrendous typo. This could be my own faulty proofreading eye or an overeager autocorrect, but looking one last time after it posts never hurt anyone. πŸ˜‰
  3. Think about how your actions will affect others.Β I’ve been blessed with a pretty great batch of social media friends! πŸ˜€ Still, some days when they share news articles they are angry about, react to something I never wanted to see, or argue loudly in public comments, I just want to hide and throw my computer out the window. Even some of the most uplifting communities I’ve been in have those days. I’m learning to be very conscious about how what I say affects others. Everything is pretty public, after all. πŸ˜‰ If I’m shocked or angry about something, do I want others to have to experience the same emotions too?*Β My friend and fellow author blogger Sarah Holman wrote a great post on her opinion of internet negativity. I encourage you to check it out.
  4. Internet eavesdropping (a.k.a. “stalking”) is not cool. The internet is public, but people don’t often think of it that way. If I’m not officially friends with someone, researching every aspect of their lives is the equivalent of eavesdropping on a very loud conversation. I often find that, if I’m researching random people, it’s time to either get off the computer (I’m obviously bored) or to remind myself to stop looking for juicy gossip details.
  5. Keep sensitive issues private. I don’t mean details like your SS number or your birthday (I already covered that in the safeguards one). Instead I mean disagreements, requests for apologies, and the like. Instead of telling someone that they are wrong and I’m right in front of the entire digital world, I need to “go and tell him his fault” privately. (See Matthew 18) This keeps things a lot calmer and can actually lead to a great healing and clarifying conversation. I’ve experienced this firsthand! A lot of drama tornadoes can be easily avoided by humility and privacy. πŸ˜‰

That’s all for now, folks! Thanks for going on this social media series journey with me!

What are some etiquette rules you wish more people would follow? How can you incorporate these more into your social media interactions?

*There are some instances when the sadness and evilness of life should be shared with others, mainly if they can take some action like participate in a GoFundMe or sign a petition. Shock factor alone is not a good enough reason, in my opinion. πŸ˜‰

Update on My Summer Reading

At the beginning of June, I wrote a blog post all about My Summer Reading Stack. Now that’s summer is officially over (for almost three weeks πŸ˜› ), it’s time to update y’all on how I did. πŸ˜‰Β img_20170602_160148654-e1496445631928

(Look at all those lovelies!)

Nonfiction

The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges andΒ Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain were my nonfiction picks for this summer. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to read either of them, but I’m still looking forward to reading the first one soon. πŸ˜‰ (Don’t look at me like that. I know I fell down on the nonfiction job again. πŸ˜› )

Fiction

At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon andΒ The Martian by Andy Weir were my priority fiction picks. I. LOVE. MITFORD. ❀ Seriously, that book is so sweet, and I have used copies of the next two books just waiting for me. πŸ˜€ The Martian is a huge book and gets so nerdily, awesomely, tech-y at some points that it’s best taken in small doses. I’m currently about 2/3’s of the way through an edited copy, and I’m definitely not abandoning it just because summer is over. πŸ˜‰

Re-reads

The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau andΒ The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy were a couple favorites I purposed to revisit. πŸ˜‰ I didn’t make it to reading The People of Sparks (*sticks out lip*), but Sir Percy and I had a delightful time together. πŸ˜‰

Β If you’d like to see what else I read this summer, check out my Goodreads shelf. I discovered quite a few new favorites! πŸ˜€

And HAPPY AUTUMN again! πŸ˜€

What did you read this summer?

Plate Update: Tea, the Post Office, and Brainstorming

I’ve gotta hand it to September. It’s definitely my favorite month of the year. πŸ˜€ Here’s a quick update on what I did last month. This full plate included lots of tea and hot chocolate to celebrate this new season. πŸ˜‰ (Wait, beverages don’t go on a plate… Does that count?) πŸ˜€

(I’d apologize for this being a little later than usual, but I won’t because that party was AWESOME!)

Read for review:

Where Dandelions Grow (three stars)

The Coronation (review to come!)

Pleasure read:

The River Fox (four stars)

The Westing Game (three or four stars)

Answered:

Emails (parties are not planned in one day) πŸ˜‰

Questions about Students for Life (a pro-life club I’m part of)

Googled:

Adobe Illustrator (the ins and outs)

How hurricanes are named

Some of my favorite Gaelic songs ❀

Number of words Shakespeare made up (1,700!)

Why is the world ending September 23rd? πŸ˜›

MBTI (character typing, thanks for the idea Kell!)

Post office hours ❀

Number of immigrants in the US

Length of boot camp (my semester is longer, gulp)

Breech babies

Wrote:

Emails. That’s a given by now. πŸ˜›

A definition essay on relationships for English class

A short new Christmas short story! (Title and cover reveal coming soon!)

Brainstorming notes for another short story πŸ˜‰

Blog posts (the top five being Family Camp!, Plate Update: Quilting, the Galaxy, and School, All the Happy Things, Savor, and So This What a Newsletter Is For…)

Edited:Β 

300 words of “Kiera”

School papers (mine and others’)Β πŸ˜‰

My plans for the rest of the year (God is good, y’all!) ❀

Miscellaneous

Made mini cupcakes with my little sisters

Went on a family ice cream date πŸ˜‰

Attended our church’s amazing family camp

Had a family tea party to celebrate the first day of autumn ❀

Helped host a table to spread the word about our pro-life club

Watched “A Dog’s Purpose” for the first time πŸ˜€ (*sniffs*)

I also shipped out seven review copies and giveaway books, visited with my hilarious nephews, gathered with other ladies from my church to watch a livestreamed conference, and survived four weeks of college. πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰

This next month, I’m looking forward to releasing a new short story (stay tuned!), keeping up with reviews and homework, editing more of β€œKiera”, finishing up my blog series on social media, and devouring some awesome review copies. Also, getting to wear a sweater!!! πŸ˜€ ❀ It gets cooler everyday. πŸ˜‰

How was your September?Β What are you looking forward to this month?