Mid-Nanowrimo Update: Things I've Learned


Well... we're over halfway there and I'm way behind. Way way behind—but that's okay! I'm still determined to finish out the month strong even if that means finishing without making it to 50,000 words. So far amidst road trips, my husband falling sick with a three-day flu, work crises, deadlines and a plethora of unnecessary drama, I'm almost to 20,000 words. That's a lot for a little over two weeks—especially for this slow writer—but not for Nanowrimo. Excuses aside, I've already made a running list of reminders to myself as I attempt to press on:

ANXIETY KILLS WORDCOUNTS

I have anxiety. Mostly mild stuff but it can creep up on me when I least expect it—like when my husband brings home the flu: hello full-on panic mode. When my brain goes into a panic, it's working double time and all it can focus on is the anxiety, which is bad news for writing because it isn't going to happen. Not until the dust settles and that usually means late-night writing sessions where my brain is too tired to dwell on anything else. That brings me to item number two.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEALTH FIRST

Sitting around all day eating nothing but junk for an entire month is going to make anyone feel less than their best, but health is mental too. There will be times when I have to step away and do what you have to do to deal with anxiety. I need to give myself those writing breaks and the freedom to put other things before my Nano project because it's not the first priority. I can't beat myself up if work or anxiety ruins a writing day—that will only put me in a bad place where writing becomes a toxic source of guilt and that, to me, is infinitely worse than missing my words count.

SHOW UP AND PUT UP

I schedule my writing time, but often I feel my attention drifting to other matters. I have several side projects that demand attention, but the real killer is finding myself adrift through the internet. When it's writing time, it's fingers-on-the-keyboard-eyes-off-pinterest-time. If I'm going to schedule the time to write, I'd better be writing. This is probably the best thing Nano can teach is the ability to shut out everything else and write.

KEEP YOUR EYES ON YOUR OWN PAGE

It's so easy to get discouraged when you're behind yet you see people put up 30k words in a day and finish at day three (If that is you, holy crap you're amazing. Don't let us slow-pokes stop you). But honestly, HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE? Second, are there diapers involved? Third, and more importantly, is that even something I'd want to do? Nope. That's not me. I'm guessing that involves intensive prep and outlining and while I believe in prep, I'm pretty adamant about my headlights approach to outlining. I have an ending in mind and a time frame for the story, but that's all I need to get where I'm going. That's my method, but that's not everyone's method, and if I've learned anything in my 25 years of life, it's that comparison is the thief of joy. There are definitely times where I wonder if I'm doing it all wrong, but then I remember that no two authors walk the same road. The way of others is not my way, so I've been making sure to keep my eyes turned firmly ahead.

WRITE WITH RECKLESS ABANDON

There's a reason I don't outline my first drafts—it's because I love the pure exploration phase of a novel. I place my characters into a plot and then I see what happens. I can't let my characters act for themselves when I'm working with a rigid outline. Gosh, that sounds pretentious, but I need flexibility. Plotting aside, with writing this many words in a month, there is no time to sit back and chew on the phrasing of my sentences as I am oft to do outside of Nanowrimo. Here's what Nano has taught me over the years: be willing to let your first draft suck. Over and over, I've told myself "no one is going to read this." The first draft is for me and me alone.

HAVE FUN

The most important thing I've learned: it's not worth it for me if I'm miserable i.e. it's being a toxic source of guilt. So far, it's not. Writing is my love and my passion, but I don't need Nano to finish a novel. Nano, I do for the community and the joy of writing a story with others alongside me. I have a huge novel to edit when this is over so my primary goal besides getting to 50k words, is getting there without getting burnt out. I might be tired at the end, but if it's a burnout sort of tired it won't be worth it.

And that's all for now, because it's time to write. But first, what have you guys learned?

NANOWRIMO 2015


So who's up for writing 50,000 words in a month? I am most certainly going to give it a shot again this November. This will be my third try at Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month for all you non-writers) and maybe, with the right planning, I just might make it 50k mark this year. I've come close in recent years, but it's still a major challenge for this slow writer.

WHAT WILL I BE WRITING, YOU ASK?

Just a little something I've been planning, tentatively titled Suite Revenge. Edwardian England. Magic. Murder. Class struggles... yeah, the research for this hasn't been random at all. So here's the blurb:

"Chambermaid and amateur sleuth, Elsie Ellison starts work at London’s finest hotel with the hope that her position will be the next step in solving the mystery of her mother’s disappearance. But when an esteemed lady of high society is most inconveniently found murdered in her suite, the staff and the hotel's discerning occupants are all thrown into chaos as they are caught up in the investigation. For Elsie, nothing could be more thrilling than to witness a real intrigue first hand. That is until magic appears to be the killer's weapon of choice — and Elsie was the last person to see the deceased alive.

In Edwardian England, nothing could be more vulgar to the old guard nobility than magic, nothing except perhaps electricity. Constable, Arthur Mulloy knows this fact all too well. Magicians are barely tolerated outside of Lower London, and he and his superior officer are in pursuit of a rogue one until their attention is drawn to a high society murder at none other than the Pemberton Hotel. While the Yard would like the case closed quickly and quietly, it seems the murderer has a message for the upper classes: magic is here to stay; make way or be prepared to suffer the consequences."

IN THE MEANTIME...

When I'm not working on revising I Wish I May, I'm working on a familiar piece of Fantasy with my critique group that's much darker than my usual fare, titled Mordant. You may have read a snippit of it I wrote for a contest last year. I haven't been able to get the girl with the poison kiss out of my head since, so she's getting her own novel.

The First Paragraph:

"Each step of my determined trudge through the shin-deep, reeking mud is met with a wretched squelch and all I can think is that I hope this Oracle is worth my ruined boots. My movement, which has been torturously slow, has come to a full stop as I must pull my leg loose from a particularly soft patch of earth. With a good tug, my foot breaks the suction and the pocket collapses, spraying my face with sludge. It is no matter, though at times like these I resent my heightened Fey senses. I tuck the loosened strands of coal black hair into my braid and set my gaze ahead. Amid the muck and mire, the jagged outline of a castle ruin rises from the swamps of the shadow realm. The end of my journey is near."

There you have it! She's dark and twisty in all the best ways and is ready to wreak some havoc on those who cursed her. It have quite a lot going on at the moment, but I couldn't be more excited to bring these stories and characters to life!

Will any of you guys be taking up the torch with me to write 50k words this November? What are you doing to get ready?

The Infinity Dreams Award

Hello, dear readers! The wonderfully talented Christina Im at Fairy Skeletons has passed on the Infinity Dreams Award blog tag to me. Thank you so much, Christina! She is a major sweetheart and I highly suggest you check out her blog and writings! So here's how it works:

  • Thank and follow the blog that nominated you.
  • Tell us eleven facts about yourself.
  • Answer the questions that were set for you to answer.
  • Nominate 11 bloggers and set questions for them.

THE FACTS WERE THESE...


1. I have an obsession with the films of Wes Anderson. If you've known me for all of five minutes, I've probably already pressured you into watching one. My favorite is The Grand Budapest Hotel. It's a masterpiece in its own right and it's the pinnacle example of his storytelling style. My second favorite is The Fantastic Mr. Fox. But in addition to Wes Anderson, I love many directors with unique, whimsical, stylized, and distinct storytelling styles. If I'm not pushing Wes Anderson on you, I'm probably making you watch a Coen Brothers, Quentin Tarantino, or Baz Luhrman film.

2. I do my best writing in the morning as soon as I sit down with my morning coffee.

3. I play music almost all day long. I'll listen to almost anything. Almost. No Murder Squash songs please.

4. I'm a fan of fairytales and folklore... the more obscure, the better! My favorite fairytale has always been Rumplestiltskin; I've been trying to write a retelling of it for a year.


5. Speaking of fairytales... I'm obsessed with Disney. I grew up on the animated films and those kinds of stories have always stayed with me. I was also so obsessed with Princess Jasmine when I was little, that when I turned three, I wore the Jasmine costume I got every day for a year. My mom was also the coolest and let me pick all my own clothes.**

6. I make a delicious chicken tortilla soup. Seriously.

7. I collect the Thor comic series. Lady Sif is my girl and IMHO she deserves her own film WAY before the Black Widow. I don't mean to throw shade on the Black Widow, I just think Sif has more dynamic backstory that has already gotten glossed over by the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Oh yeah... I'm obsessed with Marvel. If Sifki is one of your secret OTPs, we should talk.

8. I love the Assassin's Creed video games!

9. I was born in Michigan.

10. I've recently gotten into steampunk, and recently joined The Punkettes blog as the Mythpunkette contributor. I have written a couple steampunk short stories, but I'm dying to work a steampunk aesthetic into a full-length novel.

11. I'm YA lit obsessed. No, that does not mean I love vampires and werewolves. Unless we're talking about Lord Akeldama and Lord Maccon, then that's a different story and an entirely different genre.

**Read I was a brat and my mom quickly learned to pick her battles.

CHRISTINA WOULD LIKE TO KNOW...

If you could steal the wardrobe of one book character, whose would it be?

  • My first answer would be to say Aelin Ashryver Galathynius because who else is there with a better wardrobe? Because delicious dragon dresses. Because assassins suits. Because you know she has great taste in clothes but she'd also slip a dagger in-between the ribs of anyone who dared mess with her wardrobe. I'll leave Aelin's closet alone, but I'd definitely make a move on Lysandra's closet.
Your life has just become a novel! Write a short pitch for said novel.

  • One writer. One novel. The clock is ticking as Adelyn races to polish her manuscript and make her masterpiece worthy of the discerning eyes of agents and editors alike. But forces are against her. Tumblr and the Netflix are thieves of precious time, and Adelyn must vanquish both if she is ever to get her manuscript sent out.
What's your favorite foreign film?
  • I'll admit, I don't watch many foreign films and especially not recently. Does watching BBC almost exclusively count? I saw the New Zealand film What We Do in the Shadows (2014) last winter and it was freaking brilliant. It's a mockumentary about Vampires and it's hilarious. Also, on Netflix I loved the French romantic comedy Populaire (2012).
What does breakfast typically look like for you?
  • Coffee and a piece of fruit.
If you could make a PSA on any subject and have it broadcasted to the entire world, what would that subject be?
  • Probably about YA and the fact that it is legitimate genre for more than just what can be compared to John Green. Seriously. The books that have had the most impact on me and have inspired me to write have all been YA books. Seriously Seriously. YA =/= lower quality.
What is your stance on unicorns?

Favorite obscure word?

  • Tenuous. Adjective. Very weak or slight. Very slender or fine; insubstantial.
Who is your favorite non-human(ish) fictional character (think animals, robots, etc.)?
  • ABRAXOS! ABRAXOS! ABRAXOS! Can you tell I've been reading Queen of Shadows? He's my favorite flower-sniffing dragon of all time. I want a "My other ride is Abraxos" bumper sticker. But this answer might be cheating. I have a theory he's a Fae trapped in his animal form... which would be awesome!
Go back to the very first post you made on your blog. Is it cringe-worthy or surprisingly okay?
  • It's awesome! It's only about one of my favorite movies of all time: Bringing Up Baby.
You have to assemble a team of nine bloggers—including yourself—for a grand and dangerous adventure, Fellowship of the Ring-style. Who would you choose and why?
  • Oh dear! I'm not sure. You'd all have to compete in a series of tasks YA style to prove your skills for this epic adventure, that's for sure.
What is your favorite soup?
  • Gah! Soup is my favorite food group! I love a good Lobster Bisque, but for pure comfort, I'm going to say Olive Garden's Chicken Gnocchi soup.

NOW IT'S YOUR TURN...

I never have enough people to tag with these things, but here goes:


and anyone else who feels inclined to do the tag!

YOUR QUESTIONS...

1. What is your Starbucks order?
2. What is your favorite Fairytale or Myth?
3. How do you find inspiration to write?
4. What is one of your guilty pleasures?
5. If you could only read the work of one author for the rest of your life, who would it be?
6. What is your Hogwarts house? Faction? District?
7. What was the last book that kept you up at night?
8. If we had to go on a Lord of the Rings-esque adventure, what skills would you bring to the table?
9. Describe your current WIP in 140 characters or less.
10. What is your myers-briggs personality type?
11. If you were a pie, what kind of pie would you be?


THANKS AGAIN, CHRISTINA!

I Finished A Novel... Now What?

I Finished a Novel... Now What?

As many of you know from my social media accounts, I've finished the first draft of I Wish I May! The grand total: 108,260 words and 359 pages of 8.5 x 11" paper. I wrote "The End" on August 31st and let me tell you... it felt oh so good. It took a grand total of six months to write this luscious hunk of paper and it wasn't always easy. There were definitely ups and downs and writing certain parts of this novel felt like pulling teeth, but this is my darling novel. From the moment that I wrote the first conversation between Zelda and the prince in a notebook at the laundromat, it was love at first sight.

Now it's time to edit. I started my first full read-through this morning and I can't wait to make this manuscript the best it can be. There are a few ideas rattling around my head for changes, but most importantly, I can't wait to send it off to my beta readers. In the meantime, if teen lit, fairy godmothers, magic, and romance are things that interest you, you can read chapters one through ten on Wattpad and Figment.

So what's next? It's time to get back to work that's what. Between editing, I have tons of projects down the pike I can't wait to sink my teeth into.

I have a short story in progress called The Painter's Apprentice that I'm working on finishing.  It's an alternative history of the French Revolution (sort of), but it was mostly an excuse to flex my writing muscles to craft a story in first person POV and present tense. You can read it on Wattpad and Figment if art, revolution, and Fae folklore are your thing.

After that, my next project is the second of my Victorian Christmas novellas. Last Christmas I wrote a novella in twelve parts called Carols & Courtship and posted a chapter daily for each of the twelve days leading up to Christmas (sort of). In the chaos of the holiday I ran a little behind, so my goal this year is to have the novella done before the actual holidays arrive since I will be in and out of town this year. I have given this sequel the title Mistletoe & Matrimony. This story will follow one of the characters from Carols & Courtship as they try to find the happy ending they didn't get in the previous novella. 

As for my next novel, I have a notebook full of possibilities and a few short stories I want to turn into full novels, but my next project has never seen the light of day...yet. I'm a total pinaholic when it comes to creating Pinterest boards for new story ideas. You can usually guess what I'll be writing next based on these, but I will confess... I keep the best stuff secret. I'm still working on the characters and won't likely have time to start until 2016, but I thought I would share a few images from my secret Pinterest board. If Edwardian England, magic, and class struggles are your thing, well... you're going to have to wait a little while for this one.


A Practical Guide to Book Mapping


Editing a book is hard. So is keeping the big picture in mind, but it's a lot easier if you have a bird's eye view. Recently, I started editing a novel and found I needed a way to keep track of the novel's big picture. I've done this in the past with notecards on a cork board, but I needed something editable that wouldn't take rearranging eighty notecards or lengths of string to move things around. Anything I couldn't access from Panera was not an option, and if it was too complicated of a system, I know I wouldn't keep up with it.

Between sessions of Camp Nanowrimo, my amazing cabin mates and I began discussing Developmental Editing and the lovely Angela Myron turned me on to the book mapping technique. She shared JK Rowlings infamous hand drawn book map with the group. I'm sure every Potterhead and writer alike has seen it floating around on the internet, but the idea intrigued me.

I did some Google searching and found a few articles from writers who use book maps to help them through the editing process, but everyone seemed to have a different way of doing it. There doesn't seem to be a wrong way so long as your chart gives you a look at the information YOU want to look at.

Next I'll show you the chart I built for my own purposes and why I built it that way. Feel free to take this method and make it your own. It has been a great help in getting a birds eye view of my novel, and it might work well for yours too if it's something you need during editing.

book map chart
book map chart 2

And there it is! In all its color coded glory (click the photos to enlarge)! So here's the lowdown:

Column A is the scene code. The first number is the act, the second number is the chapter number, and the third number (if necessary) is for if I need to break down the chapter into individual scenes. For example, chapter eight has two separate scenes. It's located in act two so it is given the code 2.8.1. and 2.8.2. and you can bet your bottom I've put this code at the start of each scene in my draft for easy searching in what is a 300+ page manuscript.

Column B is the date the scene takes place. I'm notorious for forgetting how long time has passed between scenes. This is a huge lifesaver as it makes you check for continuity in dates, times, weather, class schedule*, etc. at the start of every scene you edit.

*(Yes I did write out the class schedule for my fairy godmothers in training, and it's a block schedule so it changes depending on the day of the week.)

Column C is the slug line. This is a screenwriting term for a sentence that's included at the start of every scene in a screenplay which typically includes the time of day and location of the scene. A screenplay will also include whether the scene is inside or outside, but to me this seemed self explanatory from where the scene is set.

Column D is the goals of the protagonist for the scene. Before I started writing the novel, I wrote a character arc for Zelda using the 8 point character arc structure (found here). This column is where I keep track of that, as well as her reactions and actions as she gets involved with the subplots. The boxes are color coded so I can quickly see which main plot or subplot the scene is focused on.

Columns F and onward are the goals of secondary characters (i.e. Imogen and Specs) and plotlines for the subplots of the novel (i.e. Zelda's Magic Struggles). I'll make note in these columns what a character does in the scene or if they are just mentioned. This a great way to see how long it's been since you mentioned a character or a subplot. As you can see in column G, I haven't mentioned Specs in a while and I don't want the reader to forget about him, so I'll probably add him into chapter five where it makes sense for him to be in the scene.

As you can probably see from the silly nature of some of my comments in the spreadsheet, this doesn't have to be formal, but it should let you see what the goal is in every scene and it should keep you from losing plotlines and characters in the shuffle and chaos of drafting. That's it. If you have any questions, sound off in the comments.

Happy editing!

Film Friday: The Fall


If I had to pick one theme from movies as my favorite, it's storytelling. Whether it's the protagonist whose storytelling acts as the (unreliable) narrator like Ed Bloom in Big Fish (2003) or the film uses a frame story (a story within a story) as in The Princess Bride (1987), I love it when movies embrace and explore the human necessity of storytelling in both character and plot.

Furthermore, my favorite movie to successfully use the frame story device is The Fall (2006), not to be confused with the television show. It is a story within a story where, unlike The Princess Bride, we see character growth and development (read audience investment) in both storylines.

The Set-Up


Our frame story begins in a LA hospital in the year 1920. A hollywood stuntman, Roy, suffers a fall in the line of his work and ends up a paraplegic. He tells a story to a little girl with sticky fingers, Alexandria, about a Red Bandit in an effort to get her to steal Morphine for him.

The result is the most beautiful film you've probably never seen. The story of the Red Bandit reacts and shifts with the frame story as the plot progresses and the relationship changes between Roy and Alexandria. I could go on forever about the little details that make this film so amazing, but you need to see it for yourself. Just watch it and be amazed. The fantasy scenes which feature the Red Bandit were filmed in over 28 countries over the course of four years. Now that is dedication to storytelling if you ask me.



I mean... just look at all the beautifulness!

All images belong to Googly Films. Edit via.



Film Friday: Gran Hotel


It's Film Friday! "What's Film Friday?" you ask. Well, I've posted a couple of other posts under this tag, but I haven't really kept up with it. That will change in my resolve to blog more. Before I ever started writing, I was obsessed with film. The drama, the costumes, the glamour, the sets — everything I've learned about  mise-en-scène, I've learned from studying film. So on Fridays, I'll share pretty screen caps and thoughts on my favorite films (and television). I will not be reviewing films on this blog. I think there are already far better people than I to tell you why a film is good or not. What you'll find here is what you find most days: general fangirling and gushing over things I like.

To kick-off this post series again, we're going to start by loosely interpreting the tag to include television because welcome to my blog, where the tags are made up and the points don't matter. Also, I just really need to tell someone about this show so I can stop driving my husband crazy talking about it. This show which has consumed my entire fangirl heart, is a Spanish drama called Gran Hotel (Grand Hotel) and I represent about one fifth of its entire English-speaking fandom.
Sad Andrés
Gran Hotel Fandom party of one, your table is ready.
Set in an Edwardian Era Spanish hotel, the series follows Julio Olmedo in his quest to solve the murder of his sister while he impersonates both a waiter and a guest of the Gran Hotel. From there, the plot takes all sorts of twists and turns with a murderer on the loose, betrayal, poisonings, fake pregnancies, forbidden romance and so much more. I just binge-watched the first season and I will just say that Downton Abbey has nothing o n this show. I mean, a girl gets killed with a meat tenderizer! They just don't make television like this at the BBC! It has had me sitting on the edge of my seat on numerous occasions, and I seriously cannot express my love for all the mothers slapping their willful sons. Oh the drama! I can't get enough of this show and I don't even speak a lick of Spanish (I've actually picked up some phrases from the show like "Dónde está la carta!"). The gorgeous sets, stunning costumes, and carefully crafted shots are all just icing on this drama cake.
Then, on top of all the betrayal, backstabbing and murders (yes that's murders plural), there is the beautiful, simmering, slow-burn romance of Julio and Alicia Alarcón, the daughter of the hotel owner, Doña Teresa, and fiancé to the hotel 's devious manager whose solution to every problem is to have his manservant shoot someone. True it's a bit trope-y considering she's the hotel heiress and he's a waiter, but this is seriously everything I wanted but didn't get from the relationship between Downton's Sybil and Branson. Seriously guys, this is gonna be my OTP of the ages.

And since I am a fandom of one, I had to make a mix for this series considering I couldn't find any on 8-tracks that could fully indulge the feels I have for this show. So here you go! Here's a mix that I think embodies the glamour of Edwardian Spain and my love for Julio and Alicia.

 
all images are the property of Bambú Producciones

The Writer Who Doubts


In the fall of 2013, a shiny-faced girl with stars in her eyes decided she wanted to write a novel. After all, she had written a small novel in 8th grade for a year-long class assignment. It was called a "masterpiece" but was essentially a poorly constructed "quest fantasy" that has hopefully been lost to the world at large. So, with visions grandeur in mind, the newly minted writer opened her word processor and began to write.

Little did she know that she wouldn't finish that novel. That at 35K words it would be shelved, perhaps never to see the light of day again. That girl was me.

Writing is a strange and curious thing that I have only started to endeavor to understand. There are times when I wish I had just picked up knitting. But life had other plans. Big plans. I'm currently working on my second full-length novel (third if we are counting the first unfinished one), and there comes a time, usually once the manuscript has become fairly large and clunky, when I start to doubt everything. Flying through the first 10K words is a glorious honeymoon stage where every word feels just right, but times will come when it takes great pains to get through each new plot point. And that struggle, I hesitate to say, makes me wonder if the whole novel was that great of an idea to begin with. One those days when writing just one sentence feels like a marathon, I start to wonder "Who am I to write this story?"

Writing is one of the hardest things I've ever done. When I started, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. As a writer, when most of the time it's just you and your computer, it's easy to get myopic about your writing – to think you are the only one out there who isn't getting anything done. But over the course of my short writing career I have read everything I could find on the craft and sought out the wisdom of other writers, and guess what, these times of struggle happen to all of them. I even see some of my favorite authors weeping and gnashing their teeth on twitter over tricky manuscripts. It isn't hard just for me, it's hard for everyone.

But this feeling, that burning question, "Who am I to write this story?" is my old friend Impostor Syndrome rearing its ugly, many horned head. Have you met Impostor Syndrome? Me and this particular beast are well acquainted. I still consider myself a new writer and am therefore prone to moments of doubt. My hope is that I can silence Impostor Syndrome in time, but for now the monster needs proper supervision so he doesn't chew on my shoes and potty in the house.

"Have you met Impostor Syndrome? Me and this particular beast are well acquainted."

When the doubt comes, when the words don't flow, it's easy to forget those first 10k words, the first spark of inspiration that made me decide that I didn't just simply want to write a story, but that I needed to write it. I hold onto that need, because writing is always hard, and there are characters and stories stuck inside me. They need to be let out whether they are written by an impostor or not. I'm not qualified to offer writing advice, but I simply leave you with my honest belief that everyone has a story to tell. Sometimes writing comes easy, and sometimes it doesn't, but the desire to share stories is hardwired into human nature. And if it is human nature to share stories, then there are no impostors (Unless you are a robot. Hopefully there aren't any sentient robots reading this post). So find a way that works for you to get the words on the page, because if it comes from the human experience, it is worth being written.

ABOUT

Adelyn is a midwest girl, a part-time magazine editor, a full-time fangirl, and an anytime writer.
She spent her formative years telling stories. Whether it was making up stories to help her sister fall asleep or acting (poorly) in theatre, she loved to entertain with words, song and the occasional dance. She graduated from Grove City College in 2012 with a BA in Marketing Management. After two years in the corporate world telling brand stories, her interests turned to stories of the fictional kind. She eventually quit her cushy desk job and entered the world of editorial publishing where she now works as a lifestyle magazine editor.


The (YA) Writer's Workout




As writers, we tend to be a sedentary group. I know this from personal experience because I cant sit and write for many hours at a time. I'm sure this won't come as a surprise to you when I say prolonged sitting is bad for you. I'm not breaking any new ground with this blog post. I'm not a doctor, personal trainer or nutritionist, but I think everyone in America knows that you're supposed to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day and you can look up all the scary ways sitting is killing you if you want, but I wont rehash those things here.

Exercise is good! It stimulates brain function, making you smarter and more productive! Smarter people than me have proved this.

In the spirit of spring cleaning, I decided to make determined steps to spruce up my habits and lifestyle. The first thing to go was the three-hour writing sessions at my desk. I don't have a standing desk to switch between sitting and standing, or room in my tiny apartment for a treadmill to make a walking desk. If these options are available to you, they are highly recommended by those smart people I mentioned earlier.

For the rest of us, getting exercise while we attempt to stay productive, requires a bit more ingenuity. I decided that stopping every 45 minutes to get up and move works well for me. This is about the time during a writing session when my focus starts to wane and I open up a new tab and head over to Pinterest. Instead of spending my time between bursts of writing in the rip currents of my Tumblr dashboard, I took a page from superstar YA writer Marissa Meyer's, Cress and found tons of fun earthen videos, info graphics, and danceable songs that Crescent Moon might have discovered for her exercise breaks in her satellite.

Couch Workout (10:00)
Freestyle Kanye Dance Break with Kath and Levi (3:11)
Detox Yoga to get in touch with your inner Amity (20:00)
Get abs like Roan (5:00)
For all the girls with a book boyfriend, learn the choreography for "I Really Like You" (6:24)
Kickboxing Ballet so you can fight like Celaena (35:00) 
Run to your mailbox and back like you just woke up in The Glade (2:00)
"Sugar" Dance Warm-up with Illea's Sweetheart America (4:25)
"Uptown Funk" Zumba for Capitol citizens (4:42) and choreography breakdown (11:25)
Deep stretching yoga for a peaceful mind (34:22)
Friends don't let friends skip leg day (5:00)
Plus MORE 10 Minute Workouts (10:00)

These videos and exercise plans, on their own, aren't a complete workout regimen. They are simply a mean of getting you up out of your chair to have a little fun. I will definitely add more to this list as I find them! Have fun writing and moving!

I Like This Library

Grayfield Inn Drawing Room

In case you don't know, I love a good home library. When I'm not writing, my passion is interior design. I'm always thrifting and antiquing to find old and unique pieces of furniture to fill my apartment. Having always been the creative sort, beauty continues to inspire me even as I write. Thus, writing and reading in a beautiful space lubricates my creative gears and helps them turn.

I chose this space to share because it is a great reflection of my personal design style.

It's cosy without being cluttered, and vintage without feeling stuffy. I gravitate towards brighter and airier spaces, but what grabbed me about this photo was the amount of textures used in the design. There is woven fabric in the rug and on the stool, worn leather on the chairs, velvet on the sofa, and of course worn linen on the books spines. Adding texture to a room is my favorite element of design because it is one of the most overlooked. Without it, the room can feel flat and one-note. When done right, the room becomes a treat for all the senses. 

My creative spaces must have texture. What's one feature your writing space has to have?


Optimism for the New Year

New Years Resolutions- I've come to know them as the bold declarations we make each January as we look to the new year with a shining faces full of childlike optimism. I used to share in the optimism with the same determined resolve to eat less sweets and floss more often. While these resolutions were made for my benefit, I always found my attention to them straying within a month or two.

For years I didn't bother to make resolutions with the excuse: "I'll just give it up anyways" and partially because the thought of going for a run makes me want to take a nap. But this year when the ball dropped, and I was already in bed, I wondered why I was so vehemently against making a new years resolution. Was I that lazy? Or did I just want to avoid examining myself and taking a fair assessment of my shortcomings?

I wondered to myself over the weeks, in the midst of disheartening news about the radical injustices in our world, terrorism and hate- what I could do to reduce the amount of ill nature in the world. How do I, as one person, make a difference in my own life and the lives of the people who surround me?

A human being is a complicated thing- no really! Each of us is broken and sinful and predisposed to fail in many areas of life. We mess up and bump against people, leaving each other damaged and hurt in an increasingly complicated world. But there is good in us too. We are all capable of kindness and compassion to those hurting around us. But to harness our goodness, we have to look at what we do that hurts others.

That may sound absolutely absurd to some. Society tells us that we are all great just the way we are. Don't ever change. Don't apologize. Do what makes you happy. I've heard these words in my own head whispering, "I'm pretty great. There's not anything wrong with who I am." But this is just me looking at myself, and the world, with eyes pressed shut and fingers stuffed into my ears. If I'm honest with myself I would tell you that I can be selfish at times, blissfully ignorant on the regular, bossy to a fault, and careless with my words. I could go on, but I like feeling somewhat good about myself and have the propensity to fret over how people think of me, so I'll leave it at that.

The truth of the matter is, my farts don't smell like Chanel and neither do yours. So I'm proposing that we all look to the new year with a new notion: we all are a little bit sucky, but we all have the propensity to be better. (My mom the dental hygienist requests that we all try to floss more too).

How do we do this? How do we make living in the world around us well... more livable? What kind of resolution do we make if this is our aim? Keeping in mind of course, that a resolution is just a goal- something we want to reach, a number on a scale or a paycheck we want to achieve; but goals are made for nothing if we don't have a course of action set in place to reach those goals. The trouble I ran into with my resolution is that I can't measure my effect on the world around me. I won't be able to say next December I sucked 52 kerfuffles less in 2015 than I did in 2014.

In my weeks of reflection, I came up with three things that I believe will help me navigate through a year that I'm sure will have its ups and downs: Awareness, Compassion, and Action.

My first goal is to be more aware. Aware of what? Calories? My underused gym membership? Sure I can spend the next few months denying myself chocolate, but in the grand scheme of things what does that add up to? No, my resolution looks at the health of my community, the people who I come in contact with. I have an uncanny ability to put up blinders when I encounter things that make me uncomfortable: illness, poverty, injustice. This year I'm taking off the blinders and unstopping my ears.

My second goal is how I want to respond to what I see in the blinderless world: with compassion. This means approaching the circumstances of others with the mindset of understanding. I believe that getting into this pattern of thinking will help us all to better comprehend the trials of life that others go through, that we may not experience ourselves. 

Thirdly, compassion and awareness are empty sentiments if they are not followed up by action. It's one thing to say to someone "I sympathize with your struggles" and it's another to give them a shoulder to lean on (sorry for the cliche). But I think this, the most important step to bettering the world around us, is the hardest to do. Why? Because it involves putting yourself aside and putting the needs of others before yourself be them spiritual, physical, emotional, or even monetary.

Our human nature and much of the conditioning of our society has made us self-centric beings. In the world of me it is easy to turn completely in on yourself and the struggles of your own life- to focus on your own sufferings. But it seems to me that every year the people of this world are dealt bigger and bigger blows. It is no longer just about me anymore.

As I pondered my new intentions for 2015, turning my eye to others and dying to self started to sound near impossible for those days when I get stuck in patterns of thinking that induce my anxiety. But I remembered that I have an ally for change in my life, and that is God. He placed upon my heart step one in my pursuit of being a better member of my community: seeking him first. It is only through of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives that we can be changed.

I probably won't write on this topic again because it is a personal goal- one I will without a doubt fail at on a regular basis and one I would feel insincere about sharing triumphs in. This process of becoming a more outwardly turned person will be difficult, but I believe this is a call God makes to all of us, the behaviors of which are aptly described in the book of Romans:

"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

'If your enemy is hungry, feed him;

if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.

In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.'


Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."


I've found the optimism again. This isn't a resolution to feel guilty when I break it because I have set an impossible goal for myself. I know that when I fail, God's grace is there to set me right. It is my fervent hope that I can be a better part of the world around me this year whether I'm at home or at work or at play- a more aware, compassionate, and an active force for good in this world. I hope all who read this and know me on a personal level will keep me accountable to this resolution. I also hope these words might inspire others to examine their own lives and the impact they have on their immediate environment. So cheers to 2015- let's do better.

Writing News

Well... not necessarily news, but I have decided to give Wattpad a little try so I have posted The Sixteenth Kiss over there, as well as on Figment. This also gave me the excuse to create new cover artwork! So pop on over to Wattpad and check it out. I'm still figuring out how to work the site so you will have to forgive any odd formatting and such.

I'm a Liebster

Oh, the Liebster Award! This award has been going around since I started blogging about three years ago. Glad to see it's still going strong. I've gotten nominated by Fairley and Brianna but I'll do Fairley's questions since she nominated me first!

So what is a Lieberster? The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. The meaning: Liebster is German, and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. Who the heck knows if that is really correct but it's sweet. Blogging is about building a community and The Liebster Award is a great way to connect with other bloggers and help spread the word about newer bloggers/blogs.

Here's how it works:
1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
2. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you plus create 11 questions for the people you’ve tagged to answer.
3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post.

4. Go to their page and tell them.

5. No tag backs!

1. I am an avid writer. I am currently doing Camp Nanowrimo in hopes of finishing one of my first novels.  I've been writing all my life but I caught the fiction bug last fall. It has only been a year so I still have a long way to go but it amazes me how far my writing has come in such a short amount of time! I have never had such joy as I get when I am sharing my stories with others. It is such a high. You can read my writing HERE!

2. I am a freelance graphic designer and a marketing professional. I love creating beautiful logos and eBook covers and I am always available for hire! Check out my design blog if you feel so inclined.

3. I'm married to a really awesome guy and it is almost our one year anniversary and I can't believe it! He is a total jock and I am a total theater geek but I've converted him to a musical lover as well. He knows all the words to Les Mis and I couldn't be more proud!


4. I'm a coffee addict. I can't function without my morning cup of joe.

5. My favorite TV shows include everything ever created by the BBC. But altogether I don't watch too much TV anymore.

6. On the other hand I LOVE movies. I don't watch them often and I am SUPER picky with which movies I'll watch. I could go on and on and on about movies I like and my favorite classic films but that is an entire blog post in itself.

7. My favorite books have always been the classics but I have recently gotten into YA books this year. I have read 15 books since January and I'm pretty proud of myself since I haven't really read for leisure since high school. The awful marketing books I had to read in college really turned me off reading for a while but now I'm getting back into it.

8. I'm a Christian! Jesus loves me and he loves you too! That probably should be number one but I don't have cool pictures. I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ the Son of God who died for my sins on the cross. I am what my uncle calls a denominational mutt, in that I have pretty much tried them all. I love seeing how different denominations worship and I find good in so many, as long as the preach the good and true Word of God. If you want to know more about my faith you can send me an email! It's over there on the sidebar!

9. My favorite snack food is popcorn! I could live off that stuff.

10. I've been to France and Ireland! I actually saw the Queen of England when I was in Ireland. And that is my only celebrity encounter EVER.

11. This is the worst/coolest thing that almost happened to me. So the summer before my senior year of college I got an iPhone, my first smartphone (important detail). That summer I had a six week internship and when that ended, I was left in Cleveland with nothing to do for the last month of summer. So I went to an open casting call for extras for The Avengers movie, which was filmed in Cleveland, and stood in the boiling sun in business attire for five hours and made friends with other hopefuls in line. Once we got into the hotel they had us fill out a form with our availability and any acting experience/special talents, asked us to email them a picture of ourselves in formal wear if we had it, gave us a number, took our photo, and sent us on our way. My mom said she even saw me and this girl I met walking out of the hotel on the local news coverage! When I got home, I sent in a picture of me in my formal gown and waited.
They told us they would call if they wanted to use us. I never got a call. I figured it was a long shot since like 5,000 people showed up for like 1,000 spots. Went off to college blissfully unaware of what might have been. January rolled around my senior year and my husband (then boyfriend) tells me that he tried to leave a voicemail for me but my phone said my voicemail wasn't set up and that I might want to set it up since I was applying for jobs at the time. So I set up my voicemail, which I didn't have to do before when I just used standard cellphones, and got a slew of messages I had missed since AUGUST when I got the phone. I hope you have guessed where this is going. One of my first few messages was from the extras casting director asking me to be in The Avengers movie. I'd missed the message by like six months. I could have been screaming gala guest 1,278 and I missed that opportunity. I was depressed for an entire week after that because, if you know me, I am a huge fan of Marvel! And that is worst/coolest thing that almost happened to me.


1. What's the number one thing you love about reading?

I love being able to escape to faraway places! It is like time travel but with a cup of tea and a comfy couch.

2. Who is your favorite fictional character?

That is really such a hard question. I love so many characters for so many reasons. I'll put it this way: I wish I had Hermione Granger's passion, Tris Prior's bravery, and Celaena Sardothian's bad-assness.

3. Who is your least favorite fictional character?

I really didn't like Cassia Reyes from the Matched series. She felt very flat and underwhelming to me. Her love interests were far more interesting to read about, so I really enjoyed the third book which featured their viewpoints.

4. Have you read a book/book series that you felt was underrated? 

The Divergent series, without a doubt. I think people are always unnecessarily harsh on anything that is marketed as the next big thing. People love to look for ways to tear down anything good and I think this was an easy target. It's a GREAT story and anything that successful and popular is bound to have a target on its back. It's not a perfect series, but it meant a lot to me when I read it and Tris that really stuck with me when I finished it. I couldn't stop thinking about the books weeks after I put them down.

5. Have you read a book/book series that you felt was overrated?

Haven't we all. I truly don't pay much heed to what other people say about books. I read what I like and I like most of what I read. Not every book is for every person. The only books I really didn't like that others raved about were The Alchemist and Girls in White Dresses. Neither of them did it for me but others really seemed to like them.

6. What's your favorite book genre?

It's a tie between Classic Literature (mostly the Brits) and YA. Pretty much anything that gives me the feels.

7. Who is your favorite author?

There is no clear winner here. My current favorites are Jane Austen and Sarah J. Maas. I have been reading a lot from both of them lately.

8.  What is your favorite book?

Does ANYONE have just one favorite book? I'll go ahead and say Ella Enchanted. It was my favorite as a child and it still inspires my love of fairytales as an adult. (The movie is a TRAVESTY. DON'T WATCH IT.)

9. How long does it take you to finish a book (depending on it's length, of course)

About a week.

10. Have you ever cried over a book? (If so, which one/ones?)

I cry at everything. I'd give more details but... spoilers!

11. What book would you recommend that everyone should read?

The Great Gatsby, it is a fundamental piece of literature that everyone, especially writers, should read. It is the most gorgeous book I have ever read. It is tragic and beautiful and Fitzgerald's writing is something that doesn't come through onto a movie screen. Baz Luhrman did a decent job but you just can't... John Green gets it.


(sorry if you have already received this)

1. Who was your first book crush?
2. If you could be any fictional character, who would you be?
3. If you could live in any fictional universe which would you chose?
4. Which author would you let take control of your life?
5. Which book has had the most impact on your life?
6. What was the last place you traveled to?
7. Which fictional character would you want to be stranded on an island with?
8. Which book is your favorite guilty pleasure?
9. What book made you fall in love with reading?
10. If you could have any superpower, what would you choose?
11. What is the best book you have read this year?

The YA Prom!


Lets go to prom... YA style! I would definitely choose Prince Maxon from Kiera Cass' The One for the royal treatment. He might even let me change into jeans if I really wanted to. I would just hope that rebels don't crash prom. As far as real proms go, I don't really have any horror stories. Although I did end up ditching BOTH of my dates to hang out with my girlfriends. Both guys I went with were just friends so I was probably nervous that they wanted to kiss me at the end of the night! I'm pretty sure I'd let Prince Maxon kiss me if he made a move!
Check other YA Prom posts HERE


Tales of Floryndal: The First Princess



I am currently in the process of working on a new short story that is set in the world of The Sixteenth Kiss titled The First Princess. Both of which can be read on my Figment page. The First Princess is a retelling of sorts that has reimagined the popular German tale of Rumplestiltskin.  I won't go into too much detail so as not to spoil the twists I have taken on the tale. I decided to give the retelling a French Provincial feel to it since it is set in the "Kingdom of Dankert", an area that has become much more civilized than the Scandinavian inspired "Stalvart". "Stalvart" is set in the northern regions of Floryndal and is pretty isolated from the other kingdoms. I hope your eyes haven't glazed over my world-building ramblings. I really need to draw this all out on a map.

I'm pretty new to the whole world-building game as this is my first foray into fantasy. I've found that keeping a Pinterest board of inspiration helps as well as keeping a running list of all the different kingdoms I mention. I like to include what their forms of trade are and what makes the citizens visually distinct.  I'm not sure I'll ever use the vast amounts of background info I've written about Floryndal but it feels good to have it all written down. Like its an actual place with a system of trade and a logical geography to it.

I will be writing more of The First Princess this month but as soon as July hits I'll be using Camp Nanowrimo to FINISH The Sixteenth Kiss. You heard me! I said finish. That's the goal at least but I have a pretty poor track record of finishing Nanowrimo projects. Will I be a winner come August? I'll let you know.

The Sixteenth Kiss: Playlist



Like many other writers I'm sure, music fuels my unquestionable genius writing sessions. Since The Sixteenth Kiss is an entirely new genre for me I felt like I need a playlist geared specifically to inspire the Hans Christian Anderson in me... or something. What I have here is a rather odd assortment of songs that have set the mood for some of my scenes or brought inspiration to some of my characters. All of which provide some good, epic, fairytale listening...or something. It's a playlist people! Listen and read along!

Writer out.

I Like This Library

Hey, April! Leaving so soon? I think someone sat on the remote because I seem to have fast-forwarded through the month of April. Now that May is almost here, it means our new lease starts soon! We are forsaking our beige on beige on beige apartment in the middle of suburbia for a much cheaper place in a cute small town that is just about as adorable as they get.  Our new duplex apartment, while much smaller, has wood  floors and a yard, which is about all we need. I wanted wood floors. Sam wanted the yard. Win-Win.

Now we are faced with the daunting task of fitting everything into a smaller space. The first challenge being our massive (and I mean MASSIVE) collection of books. It is our goal to have a library in our home some day and we are well on track with our many volumes.

In concordance with our home library fantasies, I’ve decided to introduce a new feature on here where I regularly share library inspiration to be called “I Like Your Library”. Hopefully someday I’ll have library photos of my own to share.

In the meantime, I like this library (see above photo).

Latest Work: The Sixteenth Kiss

As some of you may know from my twitter, I have started a new novel for Camp Nanowrimo to overcome some writers block on my previous novel. I originally hadn't planned to participate in Camp Nano but the idea for this novel came to me in a dream, in fact. I never really remember my dreams long enough to use them as novel material but this  one stuck out to me so much that I literally jumped out of my bed and ran to my laptop to write it down. I dreamed up a rather amusing conversation of a Prince lamenting his inability to wake up sleeping princesses with the infamous True Love's Kiss and his parents' resulting dismay since, "that is just how Fairytale princes find their true love."


I have titled it "The Sixteenth Kiss" and the premise is simply this: A pandemic of maidens cursed with eternal slumber awaiting True Love's Kiss, and Prince Benedikt can't seem to wake any of them. So far the words are flying on the page and I made the decision to use only a very rough outline. I like to outline everything to death which has both helped and hurt me in the past but I wanted to leave myself open to inspiration on this one. So far it's working and I have had a couple of moments of clandestine inspiration that really helped me take characters to new depths.



If you are interested, I have posted the first chapter on my Figment page for your reading pleasure!