Life

What I Learned from 2016

6:00 AM

I have learned so much this year. Far more than I could ever fit in one post. But since my seventeenth birthday was just two weeks ago, and 2016 is coming to a close, I thought it would be fitting to give you all sixteen things I have learned in my sixteenth year of life.






1. You can learn and grow so much from studying the bible for yourself.

Last January was when I finally started to study the bible for myself. It took some time to find a rythym of how studying the bible really worked for me, but every step of the process brought insight, development, and growth. I am not the person who started this year. I am much older, deeper, and I'd like to think wiser. And I definitely know God on a deeper level than ever before.



2. Editing takes time.

I started draft two of The Thief's Conspiracy in February and I still haven't finished it. It's taken me so long to make progress, in part because this is a new step for me in my writing journey. And it's still taking me a lot of time to understand that editing is not a fast process like first drafting. It takes time, and it is agonizing.


3. I enjoy blogging.

I also started a blog last February. And in doing that, I've realized just how much I enjoy it. It's a way for me to sort out my thoughts and share what I have learned with you all. And I am so glad I started it. The whole blogging community is amazing.


4. Growth takes time.

I wanted to grow fast. When I started studying the bible, I wanted all my issues to be solved like *snap* I didn't want to wait. Yet some part of me knew I needed to. Knew how important is was to take my time, to meditate and pray and not rush through it just so I could check it off my list. 

Growing takes a lot of time. A lot of things take a lot of time.


5. Bad situations will always exist in your life. Once you accept this, then you can learn how to handle them. 

Sadly, my first instinct when something bad happens is to go OH NOOOOOOO and kind of shrivel up and wail and flop and groan and just throw a massive pity party.

Which does absolutely nothing.

Bad things will always pop up in life. Something remotely bad is always going to be going on. So the best you can do is just suck it up and deal with it. Learn how to get over it and live with it, or fix the problem if you can. 


6. The world is so much bigger than you.

Which might sound kind of insulting at first, and rather dismal, but is actually a really good thing. Imagine if the world really was all about you? Every little flaw you had would be magnified, every mistake you made like a declaration of war in its importance. You couldn't rest!

Problems that chew you up and spit you out, that grind on your every waking thought, often lose their deathly, crushing hold once you step back and realize that life really isn't all centered around you. Other people exist, too. And a big part of our life here on earth is to help others.

Once you step back and appreciate that the world is bigger, that you are small, the problems that seemed so big before dwindle. Your priorities might become reorganized.


7. Lies that you believe take time to deal with and overcome.

There are a lot of lies that I struggled with this year. Lies I believed about myself, about others, about what others thought of me, etc. And I knew a lot of them were lies. But still, I couldn't overcome them.

It's so much bigger than that though. These aren't things you just "get over". You have to learn why they're there and figure out the truth to them. Realizing a lie is a lie just isn't good enough. Until you've gotten a hold of the firm, solid, undeniable truth, the lies slip and lose their hold.


8. Distance makes things harder, but not impossible. 

My best friend moved 1,652 miles away back in March. Half my closest friends live states away from me. Most of my childhood friends left for college in August. The distance makes things harder, certainly, but not impossible. Relationships may change, but you can still grow through it. Don't give up your long distance friends. They're golden.



9. What you think people think of you is often not what people think at all. 


(good luck making sense of this one)

For some reason, I had it in my little brain that most of my writer friends suddenly didn't like me very much at all, and that I was an annoying nuisance (in essence). I'm really not sure where these thoughts and fears came from, but when my writer friends surprised me with a laptop, I couldn't exactly hold to those beliefs.

Just because you think/feel something doesn't mean it's the truth.


10. You're not as bad as you might think you are. 

Before the workshop in June, I wasn't sure if I really stood a chance at being an author. I wasn't even sure if I was good enough. But the authors there all believed in us. You could see it in every class, every panel, every keynote. They believed in us. They knew we could do it, that we had what it takes.

I learned that I'm not actually bad at writing. I've still got a long way to go, but I've already come really far. Which leads to number ...


11. Writing is a journey.

It takes time. It takes growth. Every single step and stage has something to offer, some lesson to teach you. Stop concentrating on what you don't have and look for what you do, and what you can learn.


12. Things take time. 

This is a theme I've seen in this post so far that's going to get ZERO editing because I'm writing it at 1 A.M. Friday night with burning eyes and sleep calling my name so it must be a good point

This day and age is so rushed. We don't know how much time we have here, after all. How can we stand to wait? But growth takes time. And life is all about growing and changing and learning and discovering. But these things take time. Remember that.


13. Prayer is important.

For a long time I struggled with the question, "Does prayer even make a difference?" I still struggle with it (in one sense). But a good friend told me this, and it has erased many doubts for me. "Prayer may not change your circumstance, but it will change your heart." 

Prayer gives you perspective.


14. Loneliness can be felt when surrounded by people. 

I don't know about you guys, but that's when I feel most alone. Not at home in my room at night. When I'm at Church or a devo, surrounded by my peers with people who are only kind of my friends. It's okay to feel alone when surrounded by people. Just make sure you have real friends out there, even if they're a thousand miles away.


15. Live with intent.

Don't let things just happen by accident. Don't just go about accidentally doing things. Do things. Mean things. Think about stuff. Don't be afraid to explore. Don't hold back. We've only got so much time, after all. And things take time. So be bold and decide what you want to do and who you want to be.

You will become the person you want and strive to be, after all. Make sure that person is the right one.


And the last thing I will share with you today, the last lesson on my list is this.


16. Get your heart right.

Life is all about heart. Where is your heart?

It doesn't matter what you do. It doesn't matter how bad or how good you are. It doesn't matter if you helped the old lady with her groceries or treated your siblings nicely.

What matters is where your heart is.

Because once you get your heart in the right place, then these things will be the obvious course of action. Before getting your heart right, these actions are pointless and empty. When you get your heart in the right place, doing the right thing will become a part of you. And when you mess up, it's okay. Because you still tried to do the right thing.


There's so much more I want to say. But that's what Stan here is for, right? XP I'll be back again next week to blab. But I hope you enjoyed this post!

What did you learn this year? 


<3

Embrace It

6:00 AM

I AM BACK. (...obviously)


My brilliant brother worked for an hour to bring my beloved Natasha back to the world of internet and communication (for some reason she wanted to live under a rock) and now I can bring you all a post on this lovely Christmas Eve.

And, no, I'm not talking about Christmas (I love Christmas, don't get me wrong). Sorry. Should I? Maybe ... Hmmmm.

Nah. 



So nano was a thing that happened *sweats nervously* We've all had some time to recover from that, and I'm just getting back into edits on my pre-nano WIP, The Thief's Conspiracy. Before returning to this, however, I had some dark thoughts. I'd read some YA and couldn't help notice the similarities between my stories and others. And I began throwing around dangerous, detrimental questions.

"Why am I writing this book anyway?"

"It's taking so long--is it even worth it? Will anyone even care to read this?"

"It's such a wreck. I don't have a clue what I'm doing. I should just give up."

These thoughts are all very real and very difficult to ignore.

Which is why you shouldn't ignore them. 

Don't pretend they're not there: they are. Don't act like they're not really a problem for you. Acknowledge them. 

Don't push them away. They'll just creep back up in different ways that are harder to see. 

People (or at least, me) tend to think that admitting we have these thoughts and struggles makes us weak and cowardly. That we're being stupid and timid when we dare to utter aloud, "But what if it isn't actually good?"

But that's all wrong. It's totally wrong. The cowardly thing to do is shoving it aside. Why? Because when you're shoving problems and struggles away, you're just taking the easy way out. You're hiding from the battle, not winning it. Shoving them out of sight makes it so no one else can see it. It makes it seem to go away for a bit.  

But really? It's just deeper, buried under thoughts. And sooner or later ...

it

is

going

to 

come

back. 

Burying a fear does not get rid of it. It just gives it more power.

So when you're afraid of something, when you're struggling with something, don't shy from the thought. Sit down and fetch it and examine it. Look for the lie in it. If it's not a lie--just an ugly truth--then think about what you can do to change it. 

This applies to more than just your writing. Thoughts like, "I'm so ugly" "I'll never be good enough" and "No one likes me" are very big fears. Why should we hide them? 

I say embrace them. Embrace the fear, embrace the doubt. Embrace the hurt and embrace the flaws. They're all true to some extent, after all. We shouldn't hide from the truth. 

And then ask why. These are big issues here. We need to properly confront them. If you're getting hunted by an angry rooster, it won't go away if you run and put the barn between you and it. It's still there in the barn, and you're going to have a difficult time thinking about anything else, for fear that it creeps up on you and flogs you. Sure, it might forget about you for a while, but it's still there so the problem still remains.

"We get the point. Where are you going with this?"

Let me give you an example.

"I'm so ugly."

I'm sure this is a thought we can all relate to. We've all looked at ourselves in the mirror and disliked what we saw. So rather than just shoving that aside and saying, "No, don't think that. It's not true," just stop for a second. Look in the mirror and really let yourself think that thought that's usually just a little nag in the back of your mind, a nasty whisper in your ear.

"I'm so ugly."

Look at yourself. Why are you saying that? On what grounds has this fear taken hold? Do you really think that, or is it just a fear? And if you really think that, why? What part of yourself do you think is ugly, and why do you think those parts are ugly?

I'll use another little example. I have freckles. Lots of them. They cover my face and arms and legs. My skin is also a little reddish, to top that all off. And that's really a big insecurity for me. I always used to think my freckles were so ugly, and I would write my characters as having "pale faces" because in my little mind, pale and clear skin was beautiful skin.

Why did I think that? I'm not really sure. But we have a way of seeing something that's completely opposite of what we are and thinking it's beautiful--and since it's the complete opposite of what we are, that must make us ugly, right?

See, look at this progress. We've let ourselves think this thought and given it the recognition it was probably cowering from. Because when you recognize it, sometimes that's really all it takes to realize how stupid it is. Once confronted with the truth, lies have a way of crumbling and collapsing. Ugly truths are harder to overcome and get peace with.

Don't be cautious to think. Be cautious to hide from the questions and thoughts and fears. 


Well, I totally went on a rambling rant. (this post actually started out on a completely different subject oops) I hope this might have helped some of you in some small way. And that it, you know, makes sense. *sometimes doesn't actually make sense oops oh well*

What are some thoughts and fears you struggle with? How do you overcome them? 

stubborn Natasha + lack of sleep = posting break

6:00 AM

Hey guyssssss *waves weakly*

So my lovely laptop, Natasha, decided she did not want to connect to the internet, and so the post I had mostly written is now inaccessible to me. I am writing to note to you all on my little iPad keyboard, and wondering how on God's sweet earth it was that I blogged before my awesome writer friends got me a laptop.

I also need sleep.

I am just so tired, guys. And I think all of you can relate. Life is hectic and busy. So I'm going to take this Saturday off, and I might take next Saturday too if I can't figure out what's wrong with Natasha.

But I won't leave you completely Today without some brain thoughts! (Cause I'm just so nice) Where you might have read my post, instead I want you to do something different.

1) take a moment and pray. Pray for the amount of time it would have taken you to read this (five minutes, maybe?) or longer.

2) go hug your mom. Or your dad. Hug your family, say hi to them.

3) clean your room. (I don't know about you guys, but my room is a wreck. Nano's a thing. That happened.)

4) go outside and breathe. It's cold and windy but so beautiful. This earth is a beautiful place.

Wake up. Open your eyes and admire the beautiful world around you. Thank God for it.

I'll be back soon! <3

Nano

What I Learned from NaNoWriMo 2016 (AKA. in which i actually just ramble)

6:00 AM

You're probably getting tired of these, because let's face it: everyone is going to do a nano recap.

But you know what?

I DO WHAT I WANT.

So I'm gonna tell you how nano went for me and some things I learned because I'm sure you're all dying to know.

This is draft two of this post. I ditched the last one after I’d done this to about 50% of the thing and realized I was going absolutely nowhere. And embarrassing myself.

*sigh*

NANO IS OVER. MY WORDS SHOULD BE BACK.

Let’s see if I can be a bit more coherent this time round, yes?

I’d like to not just blab about my nano project, but give you a bit of brain thoughts to ponder. We’ll see. (I’m already rambling, aren’t I? I guess this post is determined to be a rambling post.)

For those of you who don’t know, I DID finish my novel! The last two days of Nano were … crazy, for lack of a better word.

I whipped out the last 15k in them, determined to finish. I know some people can do that much in a DAY, but this month wasn’t like that for me. I averaged about 3k a day, making several 5k days and three 7k days. My highest day was 8k, on the 29th. The novel itself came to a close at 94k words. Which … is not an acceptable word count for a MG novel. *proceeds to pound head against desk*


I also had something going on EVERY. SINGLE. WEEKEND. O.O I spent six nights away from home. That caused a bit of stress, but it all turned out well in the end! 

But I'm rambling. Here, let me tell you what I learned this month in a bit more orderly fashion. 





1) It is actually OKAY to write something new. 

I’d been working on draft 2 of TC for like, seven months. I was going a little crazy. Plus, I still have not received feedback on the three chapters I sent off, so the whole book was beginning to look rather ugly to me, dirtied in my eyes by the raging doubts and fears of my poor little writer heart.

But this book was just so … refreshing. I’m sitting here, and I know there’s a bunch of stuff to be fixed and lots of edits to be made. But I’m hopeful. And, really, I don’t have a single negative thought about this book. I don’t hate it, which will probably change when edits come round. But I don’t hate the mistakes I’ve made. I know they’re there, and that’s okay.

It's really nice to have something you can be proud of. Something you can feel good about when one child is being stubborn.

Breaks are important. Not just writing breaks in general, but breaks from specific projects.



2) WRITING ENSEMBLE CASTS IS HARD. 

I wasn’t really expecting this to be much of a problem, but it kind of was. In the depths of my sleepiness ridden nano nights, I would type out the wrong names and have the wrong characters speak and characters answer their own questions and some characters basically disappear because INCLUDING SIX CHARACTERS IN CONVERSATION IS HARD. Especially when it’s in certain characters’ natures to be quieter? But then somehow when you write a character who is quiet in conversation, it’s hard to make them not disappear.



3) WRITING MIDDLE GRADE IS HARD (at least considering word count and not killing people

A 94k word middle grade book is … not okay. So I need to do some serious cutting on that. I don't know how that's a possibility right this second, but that's what edits are for ... right? *uneasy laugh*

But yeah, writing middle grade has actually been really fun. When I write YA it's just so HEAVY and I don't know why but whatever. This book wasn't a bundle of happiness and rainbows and laughter, but it did have its moments. AND I ONLY GOT MISTY ONCE WHILE WRITING. I DIDN'T FULL OUT SOB AT THE END LIKE I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO.

Hm? Ha. No. Of course I didn't write a sad ending. Would I do that?

4) First drafts can bring new ideas and surprises 

Of course, I already knew this. But STILL. I say, go for it! Embrace them. It’s always super fun to surprise yourself

My biggest surprise from DW was probably the chapter length, which averaged about 600 words. 

,,,that's really short, guys.

I wasn't sure how I felt about this at first, but I ended up really liking the short chapters. It made things feel like they were happening faster, and allowed me to take full advantage of my omniscient POV while not head hopping, since I generally kept with one POV for each chapter. 

So if your book takes a turn you didn't expect, embrace it! The chapter length is just one example. This book gave me a nice amount of surprises, and I can't wait to see what edits will bring. Be bold! After all, what do you have to lose? 

And I guess that's really my last point so now I'm going to bold it to make it more meaningful and official.

5) Be bold with your writing. What do you have to lose?

Throw in an elephant named Herald? Sure.

A bridge of living birds? Dude, totally. 

Turn a car that's sinking into the liquid-like earth into a bunch of rubber chickens? Why not.

It's your book. And with draft one, it's yours and yours alone. A good friend once told me that draft one is just you telling yourself the story. So be bold with it. Be crazy! What do you have to lose, anyway? With the type of book I wrote, I had so many ways to be bold and crazy. I needed to be bold and crazy. I wouldn't have gotten a lot of good ideas if I hadn't taken the plunge.

Ignore that inner editor and ask, "Why not?"


I know, I know. This was a slightly rambling post. BUT IT'S BETTER THAN DRAFT ONE, I PROMISE. Next week I will give you a nice, clean post about the beauty of messy art. 

And since you've made it this far, HAVE SOME SNIPPETS. *hurls all my first drafty writing in your faces*


***

Wolf is my faaaavorite

***

Wimbo is also my favorite XP

***

And that's all of my first draft writing that you're going to see XP 


HOW DID NANO GO FOR YOU, MY LOVELY STALKER BEANS? What did you learn? Did your book surprise you? 

<3

Nano

What is Nano Really About?

6:00 AM

As writers, we tend to get really attached to our books. I think all artists get attached to their works. A painter (probably) has a deep connection to their paintings, just like a musician finds meaning in all their pieces.

Since we are so deeply connected to our artistic works, it's easy to get 1) obsessed, 2) defensive/over-protective, 3) overly attached, 4) deeply emotionally invested, and lots of other similar things.

(Hey, it's the end of nano. My words are in short supply. Cut me some slack.) XP

So here a lot of us are, nearing the end of nano. And that big question looms.


Will I hit 50k?


It's the Big Question, after all. It's what we've all been working towards all month ... right?

If you haven't hit this number yet, you might be experiencing some doubts and fears that you won't reach it. And that will somehow make you ... a failure at writing.

After all, this goal has been set. When we don't reach a goal, we fail.

...right?



Guys, I hope you don't think this. I've probably said this before, but I'm going to say it again.

We are creating art here. And we're not all going to do it the same way.

The goal of this month, the goal of NaNoWriMo itself, is NOT TO HIT 50K.

The goal is to get you to write.

The goal is to get you to think about writing. To try to find time this month to dedicate to your novel. How you do that is up to you. How much time you spend is your choice personally. Some have more time to dedicate to writing than others.

And that's okay. That's just how life works.

If you're not at 50k yet, don't despair. You still have time to punch out the words and hit that mark. And even if you don't hit that 50k, even if you've only written 100 words this month, you still wrote.

And that makes you a winner. Because this month is not about 50k. This month is about working on our stories. Our art. What we love.

Don't let yourself get down in the dumps if you didn't write as much as everyone else did. Where would be the fun in that, if we all wrote the same?

So spent these last few days of November how you will. Write when you can, and write what you love. Have fun. Enjoy yourself. Whether you write it all this month or not, if you put your mind to it this book will get written eventually. So keep writing, nano or not. Have confidence in who you are and what you do.

Do what you love, and do it boldly.

Have you hit 50k for nano? If not, do you have another goal in mind? Are you struggling with your word count, or are you feeling okay / good about it? If you need some encouragement, I'll try to respond to your comments on Sunday! (I'm gone all day today and for most of Sunday though, but I'd love to chat with you guys) 

<3

Writing

The Monstrous Beast of Comparison

6:00 AM

How are you guys surviving? I'M NOT. HAHAHA. AHAAAA. Ehem.

Well, I mean ... I guess technically speaking I am? Because, um ... I hit 50k on Thursday. *sheepish grin* BUT I STILL FEEL LIKE I'M DYING. I had 3k to go on Thursday evening but was severely lacking in motivation for some odd reason, but Katie was amazing and word crawled me to 50k, even though she had a long day and was sleepy. *hugs the lovely Katie*

I was pleasantly going about my day on Friday when I realized I hadn't gotten a post ready. So here's what's left of my coherency XP

Today we're going to talk about a beast that lurks in many places. It hides within NaNo and other group projects, and other projects, period. It's a nasty beastie.

It is ... Comparison.



CONFESSION TIME. Some of you might remember that I switched my nano novel in the beginning of October. I took on a whole new project about dreams. I was so excited, I did my first Beautiful Books post about it.

And then I read two other Beautiful Books posts. You know what their books were about?

Dreams.

Immediately, I felt that warm glow of excitement, the rush of happiness as I plan a new creation, that love and passion for an idea ... I felt all of that fade. Like iron heated over the fire, I had been thrust into the water, and my warmth for The Dream Walkers, my excitement and passion for it fizzled.

Their books are better, a little voice whispered in my ear. Their ideas are cooler. You think this is such a good idea? You're stupid. A goose could write this book better than you. You should just give up now, before you embarrass yourself.

This was stupid. I knew it was stupid. For any book I choose to write, I'm going to find similar ideas out there, or at least stories with similar elements.

That's why comparison is such a dangerous beast. It's so easily accessible. All you have to do is poke in on a writer friend and be like, "Oh heyyy how's nano?" and then they'll say, "Oh, I'm super behind at only 181473298474897562523k words" to which you reply

i'm done


It's so easy to feel bad about yourself then. Why can't I be at 181473298474897562523k words like so-and-so? UGH I'M SUCH A FAILURE AT WRITING.

That is where I will address my first qualm with comparison.

Qualm #1: everyone has their own pace

I did a post on the woes of word warring a while back, and in it I talked a bit about pace. (not the pace of a story, but the speed at which one writes)

In a really good war, I can crank out 300 words in 5 minutes. That means in a 10 minute war, I will (on occasion - when I'm steaming and words are explosive) crank out 600ish words.

This is my pace.

It's my goal now that I've pinpointed it. Yes, I am capable of writing 300 words in 5 minutes. Yes, I can write 600 words in 10 minutes. That is my pace.

So when I word war someone, I am not aiming to beat them.

I'm aiming to beat myself.

And that perspective needs to be zoomed out to encompass all of NaNoWriMo. For some, it is possible for them to crank out 20k in a day. *pointedly looks at a few particular people* Some people can finish NaNo in THREE STINKIN' DAYS. Heck, Katie did hers in 10 (i know, she's a boss).

These people are all different. They all have their own paces, their own processes, and their own styles. Just because someone can crank out 20k in a day doesn't mean I'm a failure for not being able to do the same.

It doesn't work like that.

300 words in 5 minutes.

That's my pace.

That's MY pace.

It's not yours. You need to find your pace. And if you have a slow war, you can tell yourself, "I know I can write faster." Not, "So and so can write faster. Why can't I be like them?"

That's just not a fair outlook. We are all amazing, unique, talented people. Embrace your pace. Embrace your process and style.

Embrace yourself, for you are unique and special. No one can tell your story like you can, and no one can write quite like you. Take pride in that. Don't let yourself get down because of your differences.

#rantover

(can you tell i'm passionate about this? sorry to rant. actually i'm not sorry.)


Qualm #2: everyone has their own ideas and ways of taking them

I can sum up my book in a single word: dreams.

But something happens when you do that. You lose ... just about everything that makes the book yours. So if you walk around thinking, "I'm writing a book about dreams and it's going to be the best thing ever!!!" that might not be the smartest mindset.

Think about your best friend. What do you love about them? I love my best friend's laugh, and her smile, and her corny jokes that are just so bad I can't help but double over laughing till I can't breathe and my face is red and tears are streaming.

Now imagine what would happen if we all walked around looking at people and seeing their skeletons. Just the bones that support and hold them together.

They're all basically the same, right?

There are no more unique people, with pretty laughs and smiles. That's all gone. It's just bone.

Treat your stories like people. See the story for what it really is - and when you catch yourself comparing your story with someone else's, zoom out. Look at the whole novel. Is probably won't be a similar as you think.

Qualm #3: everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses

My cousin is a boss.

(just thought you ought to know)

I'll have to tell you all the full story sometime of how I became a writer, but my cousin played an integral role in that.

But today is confession day. And I'm here to say that ... I've always been a little jealous of my cousin.

She has such an amazing brain. Her ideas - just ... WOW. So many, so creative, so all over the place. They come so effortlessly to her (or seemingly so).

And like, this girl ... you should see her work at characters. She has page after page after page of backstory on her characters. And not just the main ones. If I asked her who her MC's cousin's best childhood friend was, she would be able to look at me and tell me a summary of this person's life, including major events that shaped them into the person they are today. It doesn't even matter to her if they're in the story or not. Legit. Like, I am not exaggerating. It's crazy.

My brain doesn't work like that. I don't understand how she can do it, and I used to get really down about it. Like, can't I be awesome like that too, please?

But that's not how I work. I come up with the character backstory I really need and don't go much further. (except for in world building - hehehe) and that works for me. Backstory is one of her greatest writing strengths. World building is mine.

We are different.

And that is okay. It is nothing to feel down about, or ashamed of.


Take a closer look before you say something is "better" or "worse". Think more of differences and the beauty we have in being unique. Reevaluate how you think when you look at someone's blurb or snippet or word count. Don't think why can't I be like them? But try to appreciate them for who they are, and show that same courtesy to yourself.

NaNo is a giant, world wide effort. It's really easy to fall into the trap of comparing. You're writing alongside thousands of other writers! Of course it's going to be difficult not to look over their shoulders and see their word count and their snippet that looks so beautiful and say, WHY CAN'T I WRITE LIKE THAT?

But please don't. Don't see differences as being better or worse. Just look at them as differences. It will make the world a much more beautiful place.

How goes nano for you all (if you're doing it)? Do you struggle with comparing?

<3

Nano

How to Ignore your Family and Write Like the Boss You are

6:00 AM

HAI GUYS. IT'S ME AND I'M HYPER TODAY SO IT ONLY MAKES SENSE THAT YOU GET A HYPER POST. HEEEHE.

Ehem. You might have noticed I write 2 different kinds of posts. Either reasonably deep, or really just incoherent and loud. Today you will receive the latter. 

So. My family has this thing that they do. It's gotten better lately, since I'm the oldest one in the house now, but it was really bad there for a while. Everyone just sort of ... gathers. In my room. While I'm writing.

...like, what?

I’m not sure why this happens. During nanowrimo last year, it happened, like, EVERY NIGHT. I’d be sitting there, typing away, getting really into it, building steam … and then BOOM. The family swoops in to make allllll the noise and distractions. I'm not even in their conversation, just slightly angrily typing away with my writer glare (see below) in place and my headphones (see below) crammed on.

As you can expect, I am now a pro at tuning out loud noises and voices and major distractions. I sat in a room full of people the other day while my friends played a card game (#introvert) and cranked out 200 words in like, five minutes. Allow me to give you some life changing advice so you, too, can be a pro.

What why are you looking at me like that I am completely serious.






Tactic 1 /// headphones

They work the best. Fam sees you with them on and it’s like, oh I can’t talk to her. Headphones are the better than earbuds since they’re more visible, but earbuds will work if that’s all you have. Just pretend you can’t hear them when they say your name. And when they shake you, just tap your ear like, I'm busy, or yank it out and let it hit them and be like, "oops. sorry. now what do you want."

It also makes the awkward silence less awkward when they're sitting on your bed staring at you, and you're happily ignoring them and typing away and grooving to your writer music.


Tactic 2 /// the writer glare 

The fam tries to speak and you kind of look at them. It’s kind of a glare, but it’s more glazed because your mind is on your story and the characters and the scene you’re trying to write and then the family member nods slowly and backs up.


Tactic 3 /// writer threats 

As writers, we have a quite limitless box of threats to unleash. Don't be afraid to threaten banishment to a distant galaxy, death by giant snap turtles, or drowning in ogre snot. Writer threats will scare off the younger siblings. Maybe even the older ones, if you play it right.


Tactic 4 /// ask nicely? 

“Hey I’m trying to write. So can you just … leave?”


Tactic 5 /// the info dump

Your family is probably at least somewhat interested in what you’re writing. So dump it on them. They’ve dared to enter the domain of your room, your top secret writing head-quarters. They signed up for it. (Although, be careful about this one. A) your plot will be so captivating that they want to keep listening, or b) they’ll fake smile and nod uneasily and then creep out of the room and you’ll question if your plot is actually good and wonder what you're even doing with your life. #beentheredonethatoops)


(Can you tell my words are leaving me?) XP


Tactic 6 /// SCREAM


Loudly. It'll startle them. Then just keep doing it until they run away.


Tactic 7 /// just ... ignore them

You’ve got your headphones on. You’re typing away. Your family – for some strange reason – has decided to gather in your small room and party. I DON’T KNOW WHY. MAYBE THEY LIKE BEING NEAR YOUR BOOKS??? But they’re there, and you’ve got skills because you’re in your own little world. Just keep typing. They’ll go out … eventually.


Tactic 8 /// war someone

It's really useful to be in the middle of a word war so you can be like, GUYS GO AWAY I AM IN BATTLE. They might not fully understand the significance of this statement, but when they see the fighting gleam in your eyes they will back away slowly and at least pretend to understand. They don't want to take the place of your opponent.



And that’s about all I have for you. Hopefully I'll think of some more ignore-the-fam-and-write-on hacks, but for now this is the best I’ve got. Of course, not that you should always ignore them. Sometimes, a good game of bananagrams or a nice walk with your mom is needed to break the author craziness. I know it might feel like you’re wasting time you could be spending working out all these plot holes and cranking out all those words, but you don’t have forever with your family. Enjoy the time you have while it lasts. <3

(...while, um, still you know. getting your word count in.)


Does your family have a habit of gathering in your room to watch loud horror movie trailers and play with scorpions? (not exaggerating) How do you write through it? SHARE YOUR HACKS, MY LOVELY STALKER BEANS. 


<3

Writing Encouragement

Writing Impacts YOU

6:00 AM

Hi guyyyys! It's day 5 of nano! How are you all surviving? *checks pulses* I'm actually at a sleepover today, and I'm going to be gone. all. day. SO. ahaaaaaaha. I had to get ahead on the first few days so my word count on the third was 12k, and it's probably going to stay there. I realized midway through day 1 that I'm actually going to be gone ... every weekend this month?? Or at least, doing a big time sucking thing every weekend. *hysterical laughter*

But that's okay. You got this, I got this, we all got this. Please tell me how you're doing! I WANT TO HEAR ALL THE THINGS <3

But anyway. I was feeling the blogger love /before/ nano, so I will hopefully have enough posts to still keep on schedule (look at me! *dances*). This particular post has been on my heart a lot, especially this week.

So. On with the post!



I want to change lives with my writing.

That's not something I've always consciously wanted. I started writing stories simply because I enjoyed doing it. But it has grown into something so much more. And suddenly there's this pressure. I want to help people. I want to impact my readers. I want to give them that powerful emotional experience that every writer strives for.

But ... what if I don't? What if I never even finish this book, anyway? What if no one ever reads my words?

If you're thinking this, I want you to stop. Right here, right now, stop. Gaze at these words and think.

Why are you writing?

The Dream Walkers. I'm writing this book because there are things I need to discover, and this book is my key to doing that.

I'm writing this book because it will impact me.

Not my cousin. Not my mother. Not my dad or my siblings or my best friend or my best friend's aunt or my neighbor's niece.

I'm writing it because it is going to help me. It's going to change me. It's going to impact me.

That may sound a bit selfish, but I don't think it is. Likelihood is, someone out there is struggling with what I've been struggling with. Maybe they have a sister they're not sure how to get along with. Maybe they have a fear they can't conquer. Maybe they have a longing to be loved and accepted (don't we all have that longing?) and are struggling with feelings that they're not, and never will be.

And so, in helping myself ... I just might help others. If I do get this book published (which I'm pretty sure I will) then yes, my writing will reach others.

But right now, I'm not there yet. I'm in Nano. I'm in messy draft one. I'm in bad words and crunch time and uncertainty and late nights and ice cream binge eating and sore wrists. That's where I am.

But I'm discovering. And that's beautiful. And it's just what I needed.

Writing impacts you. So if you are afraid you will never help anyone, never change or challenge anyone, never influence or inspire, just take a look at yourself. What has writing done for you?

Is that not worth it?

Keep writing, lovelies. It's worth it.


Please, tell me how nano goes for you! And if you're not doing nano, what things writing-wise are you doing this month? 


<3

Nano

NanoPrep /// Part 4 /// Are you Ready? (it's okay - I'm not either)

6:00 AM

So I was sitting there, chilling, feeling all chill and cool for the upcoming month of craze. And I realized my plotline was kind of foggy in my mind so I pulled up my folder and realized ... I hadn't written one yet.

#oops



So yeah. As you might imagine, I was mildly concerned after this discovery. Nano is in just three days, after all. And ... I don't even have a plotline??

So not ready.

But, even though I made this startling discovery just yesterday, and when I started to grind out a plotline and realized there was a bunch of stuff I still didn't know, I still feel peace with the rapid approach of November 1.

You know why?

I will never be completely ready.

There are so many aspects to a story, because a story reflects life. Just think about your life for a second. There are hundreds of things, thousands of things, that have happened to you to shape you into the person you are today. There are tons of things that you believe, hundreds of people that you know, bunches of things that you've done and seen. It would take years to figure out every little thing that has happened to your character, and the world around them.

You could spend so long on trying to figure out everything, that you never end up writing the book. If all you ever do is plan it, and think about writing it, and ponder what will happen and what happened before to lead up to the now ... then you'll be old and gray before you're ready.

Nano is about taking a leap. It's about jumping into the ultimate abyss of writer doom and trusting the wings you have written to carry you up and out of that pit. It's about stepping out of our comfort zones. We might not feel prepared. But will we ever?

Last year for nano, I wrote the first draft of The Thief's Conspiracy. Since draft 2 of that project is giving me such grief, I think that's why I found myself struggling at the beginning of this month, when I started planning The Dream Walkers.

I was planning to make it perfect.

"Duh," you might say. "That's what planning is for. We all want to be perfect."

But it doesn't work like that. First drafts are supposed to be bad. THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE BAD. Yet here I am, going into this thinking, "I can't mess this up. There's no way I'm going to spend seven months on editing the second draft of a book again."

I was failing at trying to write a plotline because I couldn't fit it in the three act structure. The middle was all hectic and I didn't know what to do. I was terrified of messing up again and having to edit it for months. This idea has so much potential. How can I risk ruining it?

And that's where I need to stop. If you're thinking this, just stop.

You cannot ruin your story.

You hear me?

You cannot. ruin. your. story.

It doesn't work like that. You can write a really horrible, wretched, messy first draft which you end up saving exactly 0.00298% of, but you can't ruin it. Heck - you can write five drafts, all of which you end up scrapping.

But still. You cannot ruin your book. You cannot fail. You can do badly. But you can always take that bad, and try again. You can work with it. You can make it better. You can't write a book so badly that there is no hope for it.

You learn the most when you fail, after all.

So ... nervous about nano? Why should you be? You can't fail. If you don't meet the 50k, you didn't fail. As long as you do your best and write what you can, you have not failed.

So do not fear! Go plan, but realize it's okay to change those plans halfway through. It's okay to plan a bunch. It's also okay to not plan much at all.

You're not supposed to get it perfect on the first try. Especially not when you're writing half the book in a month. Quality does not happen that quickly. Nano is about quantity, not quality. So, just for this month ... let quality flutter out the window.

Cut yourself some slack. Go make a list of what you love about this story, before you're in the heat of nano-craze and are despairing. Remember why you love this, your story, your writing. Why you love this thing we do.

Go forth, fellow writers. Be courageous!


Are you ready for nano? What do you have left to plan, or are you all set? 

Quick note: if you're on Facebook, you should totally join in on Abi's 5k1day event! I am co-hosting it with her on November first, and we're planning to do one at the midpoint of the month and one on the last day. Please come and join us! (You don't have to write 5k - you can write 3k, or 1k, or 10k. Whatever fits your pace the best!)

<3

Writing

Believe in Yourself

11:00 PM

Four years ago, right around this time of the night, I finished my first book.




I remember it vividly. I was sitting at my desk in our school room. It was relatively late at night and everyone was asleep except for my older sister and my dad. The lights were dim. My big purple binder sat on the desk before me, open and ready for the last words that would dub it "finished". My hands were shaking so badly as I scribbled those last few words.

Since this was the first book in a series, I didn't feel like I could
write "the end" but I had to write something XP

They were shaking because I knew I was close to the end. I'd been working towards that moment for almost two years. I knew each word that would form the story's closure. I'd had them planned for a very long time.

And finally I was writing it.

Hands shaking, I managed to scratch out those last few words. Then I set my pencil down, stared at the old notebook page ... and burst into tears.

I sobbed hard for probably ten minutes. Maybe longer. My sister and dad came in and asked what was wrong and I could just manage to croak out, "I finished it."

A year and eight months since I'd started writing this story, I wrote the last words. Why did I sob my eyes out? (I was twelve, by the way) I've never cried when finishing a book since then. I cried twice when I wrote my WIP, but that was during one really touching scene that always makes me almost cry, and while writing the very very tragic climax. Both really emotionally gripping and difficult scenes. But not the ending.

So why was my first book different?

It was my first book. And if you've never finished a book before, you'll probably sympathize with the point I'm about to make.

Up until that moment ... I wasn't sure if I could do it.

A lot of people "write stories" after all. Pretty much all of my friends had at least started a story at one point in their lives, but they didn't usually make it past page three. So when people heard I was a writer, they just assumed I was like them. Not really serious about it. I made it past chapter three pretty quickly (thanks to my cousin) but I still wasn't sure if I was really a writer. I wasn't sure if I had it in me to write a full length novel ending in "The End."

But I did. (you could argue that I didn't, actually, since I didn't end with "the end" but we'll not go into that right now)

*dumps a couple more pictures on you just cause*

I had a hanging bed for several years around this time, and I developed
this ritual of sorts where when a big thing happened,
I'd write under my bed. And so, obviously, I wrote under it that night. XP 
I am way too sentimental but this is the calendar from that year
(forgive my atrocious handwriting ICK)

I also felt like no one believed I could do it. This belief is probably really wrong, but it was there, wedged in the back of my mind. No one takes you seriously, it would whisper. No one believes in you. You should just give up. You're not good enough to write this, anyway. 

But I did. I wrote the book. I pushed through and ground out all four hundred and fifty-three pages of it.

*sniffles* my little baby


I didn't give up.

If you haven't finished a book yet, let me tell you this. You will. You will if you don't give up. So don't give up.

No one believes in you? Who cares. God believes in you. That's why he's given you this passion. This gift. Now it's time for you to believe in you. Believe in yourself. Trust that God knows what He's doing with your life, and plunge in head first with everything you've got.

God believes in you. I believe in you. Now you need to believe in yourself.

Don't give up. Keep writing.

Have you ever finished a draft? If you haven't, are you close? If you have finished a draft, what's some advice you'd give to people who are still trying to get there?

<3

God

Keeping Sight of God through the Busy Seasons

6:00 AM

NANO IS COMING! It's approaching on swift wings, flying down and upon us. Soon, we will be consumed in the craze nano brings: buckets of coffee, bars of chocolate, sore wrists, aching fingers, burning eyes, late nights, fists banging against the keyboard ...

It's easy to forget that November is still a month. A month of life that is precious and meaningful.

So, we as Christians must ask ourselves ... what about God?



It is so easy to forget, even when not in the Nano craze, that God is our rock and He is who we live for and strive to serve and please. I get so consumed with writing, I forget who gave me the gift of writing in the first place.

"I don't have time for God." That's such a tempting thing to say. Gotta get the words, gotta get them down. We only have 30 days and 50k is a lot. Those words aren't going to write themselves. If we take our minds off our task, we won't figure out that gaping plot hole. We've got to think about writing and our characters and the story every single minute or an idea might escape us.

...right?

I'm not saying you need to sit down to an hour long bible study every day. That's not really realistic. Not if you want to hit that 50k. But I am saying that you don't need to forget God. November is still a month of life. And, as Christians, we have pledged our lives to God.

So how do we keep our eyes on Him?

I went through a time last year when I was terrified I was going to have to give up my writing. I wasn't sure if that's what God had planned for me. I was afraid that it consumed me too much. That it was an idol to me.

And, for a time, it was.

Writing had consumed my every waking moment. Thoughts of my plot and characters drowned me daily so that I couldn't see the world around me, couldn't focus on anything else, couldn't give my whole attention to my friends and family when I needed to.

But how do you let go? How do you separate your story from yourself so that you can live?

Here are some things that have helped me.

Pray.

This seems like a given, but it is (in my opinion) the most important thing you can do, especially during the busy times in your life (like Nano). I don't like to make a schedule for when to pray, because when I do that it becomes something just to "check off my list" and I don't ever want God or my faith and the things that will build it to become something that I need to "get done" so I can move on to other things.

That being said, I do try to pray in the mornings when I first wake up, and at night before I go to bed. If I don't have any sort of schedule at all, I can easily forget to pray. I really encourage you to get up in the mornings and pray. Go outside for a walk, pray while you go make coffee and breakfast, or pray at your bedside, on your knees. Pray while you watch the sunrise. If you start your day with a prayer, it reminds you of who you are and whose you are. And that is very, very important.


Read the bible. 

This also is a given, I know. But spending just a few minutes in God's word will really help orient you and keep you in a constant state of spiritual growth, which is what we as Christians strive for everyday.

I want to post on bible studies soon, but I'll briefly summarize my thoughts for you here. When I say "read the bible" I don't necessarily mean pick a book and read a chapter every day. If you do that, once again it becomes a chore or a thing that you just "check off" your extensive list of to-dos. The most meaningful studies for me have come from embarking on topic studies.

What weighs on your mind? What tugs at your heart? What do you struggle with? What fascinates you? I'm doing two topic studies right now (sort of). One on kindness and one on self image / beauty / self-esteem / etc.

Immerse yourself in the word for just a few moments. Look for a new perspective in God's word on something you're struggling with. It will help you grow and bless you.



Keep your mind on Christian conduct.

We can never be perfect. We all know this. But keeping your mind on Christ-like behavior, being conscious of how you treat others, will keep your mind and heart on Christ.


Praise God.

This is sort of on the prayer spectrum, but you can praise Him in other ways too. Put on Christian music in the car and sing along. Put your heart into worship. You might find the break from writing-thoughts and all-things-books-and-nano will help freshen your mind for when it is time to write.



Nano is a wonderful thing. It is such a blessing to me in my life, and my writing and I cannot wait until November! But let's do our best to remember who made us and gave us the ability to write, to create. Thank Him, for He is good!


Do you struggle with separating your thoughts from all-things-books-and-writing? What are some things you do to keep your eyes on God?

<3 

Nano

NanoPrep /// Part 3 /// plot (and tea)

6:00 AM

I decided to do this post a bit differently than I have been doing my NanoPrep, since PLOT GUYS. WHAT IS PLOT. HOW PLOT.

Usually I don't have much trouble with plot. I have like, no shortage of issues and things to throw at my poor characters to keep them busier than I can handle. Now that I'm writing middle grade and downing the violence significantly, there's like ... not much happening. O.o

*is very weirded out by this*

(hush. weirded is totally a word.)

ANYWAY. So I'm cruising along (this is going somewhere, I promise.) and I'm trying to think of what I can add to spice things up. Because right now, I've got the characters. I've got the story world. I've got the premise, the magical idea that makes you squeal and giggle and blink butterflies of beauty and happiness.

But ... the plot. It's saggy. I've got a plot line sitting in the form of the Three Act Structure right now, and it's just ... missing something. And so I was surfing pinterest, looking for inspiration, for something to click in my brain and inspire me as to what I needed to add. A person? Another conflict thread? All the prompts on Pinterest are cool, sure, but ... they weren't what I was looking for. They're not making me ask the questions that will lead to the kind of answers I need. No matter what ideas I think of, it doesn't fill in that "Thing" that I'm missing.

So what questions do I need to be asking? That was what I needed to pinpoint, because Pinterest was failing me. #sorrypinterest

Anyway. I don't have it all together. But hopefully through writing this post, I'll inspire you and me to brainstorm a way out of this.

So.





#1: Look at your inciting incident.

The inciting incident is soooooo important guys. If you don't know what this is, YOU NEED TO KNOW. LOOK IT UP. It's basically what sets your story into motion. It's that big THING that happens that disrupts the characters' normal world and sends everything into chaos. It's your story's hook. The concept. For instance, mine is, "A boy gets trapped in the world of dreams." BOOM BABY. In just nine words, I have a bunch to work with. Think about what would happen, and then what wouldn't happen. Keep asking "how" and "why". That deepens everything.


#2: Look at your characters' goals.

I have this weird habit of letting my characters accomplish the goal they had from the inciting incident halfway through the book, and then, in the course of them accomplishing the goal, they're given new goals. Halfway through the story. Not sure why this happens to me, but ... I guess I get tired of having the same goal for a whole novel?

I'm sure that concept has an official name. If you know what it is, TELL ME. I'm going to try not to do this ... eventually. But for now, yeahhhhh no. This kind of has to happen.

You need to make sure your character's external goal is big enough to encompass a whole book. My characters' goals are, "Find Jake" at first, and that is not a big enough goal to fill the whole book. Hence, the goal change midway through. The goal shifts: "Get back to reality." That's a bigger one which will last me to the end of the book. But you've got to make it difficult. It would be good to make lots of smaller ones too to help along the way. As obstacles arise, so will new goals. And goals drive the story.


#3: Don't forget structure.

Another reason why Pinterest wasn't helping me was because, though it game me lots of random ideas, that's all they were. They were not connected to the plot. Therefore, there was no structure to them.

They go to an underwater city? GREAT! Super cool and fun! But how does that help with my plot issue?

They get lost in a forest of clocks? YAYYYYY. Not really helpful.

I know a bunch of things that need to happen, but I don't know how they fit into the structure of the book. And that's really important. Each scene in a book needs to be meaningful in that it pushes the story forwards in some way. So when you're brainstorming ideas, look at your structure. If you see that you don't really have a climax at the end of Act 1, or that your Midpoint doesn't really change much, think of how you can up the importance there and add new elements to heighten their significance.


I hoped these might have given you some ideas?

*crickets chirp*

Ehem. Anyway. Here's a picture of a turtle. Cause everyone needs a picture of a turtle in their life.

he's judging you


And now. You've probably been scratching your heads wondering, what does tea have to do with any of this? I SHALL TELL YOU.

Last year during nano, I had recently fallen in love with Vanilla Chai tea. It's just sooooo good. And so, every night when I went to my room to type away on my cheap walmart iPad keyboard, I would sit with a cup of that tea by my side and sip away as I typed.

I kind of fell out of the Vanilla Chai tea phase for a while. And then, a couple months ago, I saw a box of it sitting on my shelf and I though, Oh I haven't had that tea in forever! I'm going to make some.

And so I did.

And at that first sip, it was incredible. It was like someone had hypnotized me back to NaNoWriMo 2015. I was hit with the memories I made that November, and I was reminded of the beauty of writing the first draft of TC.

And so now, when I edit, when I do anything related to TC, I make a cup of Vanilla Chai tea.

I know you're all probably really confused right now, thinking, "But, coffee? Life blood? Every writer's life drink?" But I do pretty much all of my writing after 9 P. M. Sadly, coffee is not the best thing to drink before bed, and I'm a hard-core super strong fully caffeinated girl.

BUT MY POINT IS. I like to pick a tea. And then that tea is my 'writing tea.' But I make it specific for each project. Since I'm starting a new WIP soon that's completely unrelated to TC, I might have trouble transitioning between the two. So if I work on one this day, and the other the next day, I can make the tea for one this day, and then the tea for the other the next day to help get my mindset right.

Yah see what I'm sayin'?

I don't know if I made any sense at all but I'M TIRED AND I JUST THOUGHT IT WAS KIND OF COOL, OKAY?? *blinks hard and sips DW's tea since I'm brainstorming while blogging #likeaboss*

Oooh and DW's tea makes me happy cause I remember drinking it as a kid and loving it so it has nostalgic meaning to me already. So yeah, you should totally try that! It's fun and then your tea becomes special. :D

I'm pretty sure most of this post was incoherent rambling but I DON'T EVEN CARE OKAY. *slumps off to brainstorm and use this post for reference because I AM A MESS HELP*

What's your writing beverage? Do you struggle with plot? IF YOU WANT TO RAMBLE TOO, FEEL FREE. TELL ME WHAT YOU'RE STRUGGLING WITH IN WRITING/NANOPREP RIGHT NOW.

<3 

in which i post when i'm not supposed to with a special announcement i had absolutely no idea i would be making (and also BEAUTIFUL BOOK LINK-UP WHAT)

6:00 AM

HAIIIIIIII!

I am dying to make this announcement to you guys, because I AM FLAILING LIKE A HELPLESS JELLYFISH PULLED FROM THE OCEAN and I don't even know anymore like WAT IS LIFE. WHAT IS WRITING. HOW WURDZ.

Ehem. So yeah. You know how I've been saying that I'm going to write The King's Vow, the sequel to The Thief's Conspiracy, my current WIP, for NaNoWriMo?

Haha. HAAAA. Ahaaaa. Ehem.

Yeah. No.

It came to me on a walk with my little brother. The inklings that I was a little more interested in this one idea than I really should be, given future plans. And then, in the shower, it came to me. (because let's face it guys -- all the best revelations come in the shower.)

I am not ready to write The Kings' Vow

Part of me is curled up in gross sobbing because I've been wanting to write this for SO LONG. (Well, it hasn't been THAT long but still.) And then part of me is kind of amused with myself. I've been planning to write this book for November's nano for ALMOST A YEAR and then, the month before, I realize I'm not quite ready. How does that ... work? Like, WAHT? o.O

There are a lot of reasons to why I finally came to this decision, but I'll give you the short version.

My WIP has been quite a rebellious child lately. The plot is being very stubborn, mainly because SO STINKIN' MUCH HAPPENS in SO STINKIN' LITTLE TIME (the book actually takes place in 16 days) and I am just really confusing myself and drowning in the chaos of conspiracies and plots and murders and assassinations and spies and ALL THIS CRAZY STUFF LIKE WHAT IS GOING ON I AM SO LOST.

SO. There's a lot of stuff I still need to figure out for book one. And with book one being in ... well, the state it's in, I can't write the sequel now. If I do, it will probably end up being thrown out the window on some dark night and then completely rewritten which WOULD NOT BE FUN CAUSE I HATE REWRITING. UGH.

Anyway, I'll wrap up this rambling rant now. *is done*

Just kidding. Ha. Ha.

I MUST ANNOUNCE NOW WHAT BOOK I AM WRITING. mwahahahhahaa. If you've been to my What I'm Writing page, you'll know what I'm talking about. And if you go check it out now, you'll see I've made a few updates. *grins mischievously*

For NaNoWriMo, 2016, I am writing .......

*drum roll*

*is making this way too dramatic*

*doesn't actually care oops*

picture not mine, source here


*cue the endless screaming and flailing*

YES I AM WRITING MY MIDDLE GRADE STANDALONE NOVEL THAT I'VE BEEN PLANNING FOR ... OVER A YEAR? *just made a lot of strange sounds becuase I JUST REALIZED THAT I'VE ACTUALLY HAD THIS IDEA FOR ABOUT TWO YEARS AND I THOUGHT OF IT BEFORE I THOUGHT OF MY WIP'S IDEA*

O.O

EHEM. I am very calm what are you talking about.

So yeah, I'M WRITING THIS! And to celebrate, I am going to participate in my first ever Beautiful Books Link Up!!! Hosted by Cait at Paper Fury and Sky at Further up and Further In!

I will keep it relatively brief, since I've already rambled quite enough. XP


The Glorious Questions

1. What inspired the idea for your novel and how long have you had it? Oops. Kind of answered part two of this question above. But I got the idea when I was tucking my little brother (he would have been four at the time) into bed and I asked him if he wanted me to give him a dream, since my grandmother used to do that for me when I was little and scared to go to sleep on my own. He actually said no, and I was really surprised. And I started going into detail about the fascinating lands he could travel to if I gave him a dream, and then I kind of went into a fascinating land myself because I thought HEY WHAT A COOL BOOK IDEA. Thus, The Dream Walkers was born.

2. Describe what your novel is about! Mwahahaha. I actually have a blurb! It took some work, since this story is going to be in omniscient POV (which basically means head-hopping made okay) I don't really have a main character? I kind of had six. Then I kind of had five. And now I think I've found the main character (cause there has to be one, right?) but I'm not sure ...

Anyway. I did it and I will likely write a post about writing blurbs for ensemble cast books because THAT WAS A NEW CHALLENGE.

Here it issssss!

~~~~~

There is a place beyond reality. An island far away where everything is possible and anything can happen.

Every night, Chloe goes around to each of her foster siblings and gives them a dream. When sleep falls, their spirits rush off to the magical land of Dream World. In Dream World, the children are free to do whatever they want whenever they wish. Jake can run around and be as reckless as he wants. Maggie can chase after him on a valiant steed summoned from the dust. Agatha can go on magical adventures with her pet wombat. Wolf can hide up in the clouds and watch it all from a safe distance. And Chloe can walk on the water and dance with the stars and talk to the moon–her only friend.

When Maggie and Jake get into another fight and a dare goes a little too far, Chloe must venture with her siblings deeper into the Dream World than ever before to save their brother. The deeper they go, the more real things become and their journey grows more treacherous than any of them could have imagined.


But how do you know what’s real in a land made of dreams? 

~~~~~
I'll note -- if you haven't written a blurb yet, I highly recommend doing so. I only wrote this up a few days ago and I've already used it quite a bit. Even though it will probably change in future drafts, it's still incredibly valuable to have and definitely worth the effort!

3. What is your book's aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like! I MADE A COLLAGE. HAVE A COLLAGE.



And a few words are just like SO MUCH ETHEREAL-NESS BECAUSE LIKE WOW. Most of the book happens in a land made of dreams, so basically anything can happen and you get cool things like dancing on the stars and climbing the moon and walking on water and floating on/snuggling with clouds and all that super weird but cool stuff. Basically every world builder addict's dream.


4. Introduce us to each of your characters! 

So I have quite a few characters, but not very many at the same time? Like, all my characters are very important and there are very few minor characters (at least, so far). So I'll just show you the MAIN main characters. The cast that runs the show. The foster children.

I have five. (I actually originally had six, but one of them was just not fitting into the plot and he had to go and I'm really confused about him like why was he even there in the first place if he was going to just run off and leave me like that but OH WELL.)


1. Chloe

Chloe is my adorable cinnamon roll muffin cake who is quite a loner. She's the essence of me as a child which might surprise a lot of people because I've never appeared to be a loner. Somehow, though, I've felt very alone for as long as I can remember and am only recently getting over that and trying to grow past that and find the truth.

ANYWAY. Here's a picture.

Chloe, age 11



2. Jake 

Jake is my little naughty meanie boy. He's rough and gruff and makes fun of everyone and is downright rude like, why you acting like that you naughty little thing?

Let's say he learns some stuff in Dream World to whip him into shape XP

Jake, age 9


3. Maggie

MAGGIEEEEEE I LOVE HER SO MUCH. She's Jake's twin sister and actually basically my little sister? She's a tomboy and she's got a strong will and she yells way too much and stomps around and wears her red hair in two long braids that she likes to hit people with and she's just very headstrong but also very soft and emotional inside and SHE JUST STEALS MY HEART AHDKJFASLDHKJFH. *hugs little child*

Maggie, age 9



4. Wolf

Wolf is my frightened little scaredy cat baby. He is afraid of everything and knows it and is just so ashamed of everything and who he is and just AHHH POOR BABY. And this is something I feel very passionately about and I have a feeling will become a theme -- that just because you're afraid of something doesn't mean you're not, or can't be, brave. And that's something he has to learn and just AJSKDFLKJSDFHALKSDJF.

Wolf, age 8



5. Agatha

Agatha is my adorable little six year old angel who actually has quite a temper but is usually very sweet and just so adorable and very inquisitive and big eyed and I just love her so much. She's not afraid to ask questions, or speak her mind.

Agatha, age 6


5. How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?) I have a folder on my computer filled with files of book ideas. This is where I begin. Last Thursday, I created a new folder and that's when I know the book is officially a WIP. Because when I create that folder, I can fill it with separate, more detailed documents filled with specific notes on certain things. As you probably guessed, I also make a map (I've had one for this for about a year) and write a blurb (or at least try. This project was being finicky.)

Last year, I went and stocked up on nano bribery candy, but sadly I am broke so that is not an option. *weeps* I'll just settle for lots of coffee.

6. What are the things you are most looking forward to about this novel? THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS AHHH. I think one of the biggest things is that it's a standalone, which means ONLY ONE BOOK TO WORRY ABOUT AND THE PLOT WILL HOPEFULLY BE SO MUCH MORE MANAGEABLE AND I AM SO EXCITED FOR IT. Also ... the world. Enough said. I just cannot wait. *aggressively loves magical, impossible things*

7. List three things about your novel's setting. *swallows hard* Only ... three? Well ... Nano is all about doing the impossible, so I guess we've gotta start sometime XP

    1: DREEEEEEEEAMS. THE WORLD IS MADE OF DREAMS AHJDSKFLHAKJSDHFLEUH. LIKE, TECHNICALLY THE WHOLE BOOK HAPPENS IN A DREAM WHICH JUST HAS MY WORLD-BUILDER HEART FLAILING WILDLY AND HAPPILY IN THE EPIC MAGICAL GLORY OF IT.

    2: I'm still not sure what the boundaries/rules are? Because I know there have to be SOME. So far I only have one solid rule which applies for the Second Level (which I will explain for Thing Three) and that is, "Gravity is a choice." *mad cackling* Ehem.

    3: Since this is Dream World, I needed to figure out how they can go deeper into the world, and why the one kid goes into a coma in the first place, getting trapped in Dream World, so I decided there were layers. There are three layers (four if you want to be technical, but only three are super important here). The First Layer is called The Shallows and it is basically a blank slate of gray and white. When children arrive, that's when things appear. The land is molded and customized to fit the childrens' imaginations. Most children never go deeper than this. They're not supposed to. But, of course, my cast does *evil grin* The Second Layer is where most of the story happens. It's where the one kid goes at the beginning, and it's where all the adventures happen, because this level is a little more real than they first thought. There are certain things that have to happen in order for you to come here, because when you make it to this level, you become a ... *wait for it* Dream Walker. MWAHAHAHAHA. Ehem. The Third Layer is The Deep. No one has ever come back from The Deep, and no one is quite sure what is down there. *mysterious smile*


8. What is your character's goal and who (or what) stands in the way? This question could be taken several ways, but I'll address the main plot side of this. My cast of adorable little children are all trying to save their brother, who did not wake up the morning after the little "dare-gone-wrong" incident. He's trapped in the Dream World. And my charries have to go save him. (of course, a whole new set of problems arise when they finally get to him, but that would be spoilery so I'll hush up now.) *zips lips and smiles innocently*


9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel? All my characters go through a journey. They each start out this story with a lie that they believe, and they all learn by the end of it the truth (or at least the beginnings of it, since the truth is not always that easy) and are changed for the better.

10. What are the book's themes? What do you want the reader to feel when it's over? I try not to plan my themes, but ever since I realized what a thematic writer I am (I didn't realize this until ... a few months ago. #oops) I have noticed the themes that appear in my stories more and more. And there are a good deal of themes I've already spotted. I'm trying not to pay too much attention to them, or even write them out, because I want the story to come as it is meant to be. But I know that belonging and family are going to be two big parts of it. I want readers to know that they have a place in this world, that they are here for a reason, and that they belong, even if they may not feel that way.

*whistles* wow that was fun! And ... very long. *did not actually keep it relatively brief #oops* I AM SO IMPRESSED IF YOU MADE IT THROUGH THIS WHOLE THING LIKE WOW. *gives coffee and hot cocoa*

This is already getting so long, so I'm going to give just one more very brief note.

Plans ... don't always work out. So don't hold onto your plans too tightly. I was so determined, so set on writing The King's Vow. Even as I was plotting and illustrating and drawing maps and fleshing out characters for DW, somehow I was still convinced that I was going to write TKV. But that wasn't how it worked out at all, and I know I'm not going to regret this decision.

As a good friend told me, you have no bonds, no restraints! You are free to write what you want, when you want. So do it. <3

How about you? Have any of your plans been turned on their head? DO BEAUTIFUL BOOKS IT IS FUN. How did you come up with your book idea, and what do you look forward to most in writing it? 

*none of the pictures are mine, and all were found on Pinterest
<3

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