Sunday, December 3, 2017

NaNo '17 Recap // I FINISHED MY NOVELLA + Over 10k in a Day

I HAVE RETURNED!! *cue the fireworks and glitter and cookies* It's been far too long since I've posted, and I've missed blogging so much. I'm really looking forward to (hopefully) getting back to a normal posting schedule this month...though I'm actually not making a commitment because um, HELLO, Christmas is a thing.

It's December now, and I'm still wrapping my mind around that. CHRISTMAS IS LIKE THREE WEEKS AWAY. How has this happened? o.o

NaNo officially ended four days ago - four days ago - and I'm just now getting around to writing a recap. I was hoping I would post weekly updates in November...buuuuut that obviously didn't happen. I explained some of the reasons on Instagram (aka the place I spend way too much time *cough*), but the short version: it was a rough month. I was busy and stressed and it was just h a r d. I didn't even think I would finish NaNo - and I almost didn't. Just barely eked out the words on the last day.

I'm still trying not to beat myself up over the fact that I didn't slay NaNo and be the epic Glitter Queen I was last year - but seriously?? I'M. SO. MUCH. BUSIER. 2016 me didn't even have a clue.

So yeah, I'm very proud of the fact that I wrote 50k in November, but there are still times when I wish I could be epic like other people (shout-out to the queens - Christine, Katie Grace, Abbie, and Audrey - LIKE HOW ARE YOU EVEN THIS EPIC??) I'm so competitive with myself; it's kind of ridiculous.

Before I ramble on too much (ha, too late), let's get on to the actual recap!

// R E C A P //

Like I said, November was a difficult month. I had tons of college work, two trips, lots of Christmas program rehearsals, and one tragic event in the family. (My aunt passed away suddenly last week, and it's been hard on my mom and her side of the family. Prayers appreciated.) All of this combined to make writing time very scarce.

I was a good deal ahead going into the second week, but...things changed. :P Our Liberty trip was INCREDIBLE and honestly life-changing (I might post about it because wow - I received a huge revelation there) but it didn't leave any time for writing. Thus me being slightly behind when we got back and having too much homework to really crank the words. I got ahead again somehow but then, voila, Thanksgiving arrived! Cue a family roadtrip and studying for finals! *nervous laughter*

I must admit, though: Thanksgiving was lovely! I got to visit with family, see FALL COLORS, eat lots of food, visit a used bookstore (can I get an amen?), get lots of aesthetic pictures, and also visit my first tree lot! It was oh-so-magical. <333 I helped my cousins decorate the tree they picked out and basically turned into a Christmas elf the day after Thanksgiving. BECAUSE CHRISTMAS. YESSSSS.

When we got back, we had another big rehearsal for our program. I was behind majorly and getting very, very discouraged because where the heck would I find the time to write 14k words during the last week? I had finals and Christmas programs and allllll the things.

BUT SOMEHOW I DID?? I don't even know how except that I wrote 5,000 of those words one day and then stayed up insanely late the other nights after all the studying I did for finals. (How am I not dead? I do not know this either.)

The important thing is: I DID IT. I WON NANOWRIMO!!!!!! It was an exhausting push to the finish, but I did it. I know I could have written a lot more words if I had the time, but that just wasn't God's plan for this year. And that's okay.

Some noteworthy things:

- I finished my novella! AHHHHHH. It ended up being much longer than the word limit of 20k (it's currently at about 32.5k right now #help), but I already know some things I want to cut. The only problem is that the deadline is approaching fast. And that's also a lot of words to cut, people. *tries not to panic*

- I beat my one-day writing record. Last year, I wrote 10k in a day. I had made it my personal goal to beat last year's record and IT HAPPENED. I wrote over 10k in one day! Granted, it was only like 100 words more than last year but still. IT TOTALLY COUNTS OKAY DON'T BURST MY BUBBLE.

- I just loved my characters so freaking much. They're precious cupcakes. Who gave them permission to be this adorable?? *awkward silence as I realize that was me* xD

I had a fun time exploring their different personalities and backstories and playing with different writing styles/character dynamics. If I could just define NaNoWriMo 2017 in one word, it would be exploration. I did a lot of exploring this year, and I loved that.

So yeah. My characters from both of my projects are darlings. *hugs them*

- I made myself cry. For the first time. YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT. My novella was the first thing I've written that's made me tear up. And it's also the first one that's literally given me chills because of the creepiness. I think it's safe to say this story impacted me a lot.

- Did I mention I was really busy? Yes? Okay, just wanted to be clear on that. :P

// S N I P P E T S //

Behind the Velvet Curtain: (I'm only sharing one because there are tons of spoilers xD)

Slices of cruel light burned her eyes. Adelia held up her hand to shield them from the painful glare and groaned.

Her whole body was trembling with chills. Pain shot through her muscles like fiery darts of torture. She clutched the thing closest to her and dug her nails into soft flesh.


Her eyes flicked open. Searing pain. She suppressed a cry of her own and blinked. The light burned her eyes—fire to her face.

Finally, she recovered from the intensity and made out the form of Theo by her side. She released her clawed grip and felt herself shudder again. She rolled her head to the side, too tired to even apologize.

But he just took her hand again and whispered, “Squeeze as tight you need to.”

/ / /
Vagrant Embers:

The man who had done me the lovely favor of shoving me to the ground, cutting my throat, and ripping my second-best shirt stood overlooking the entire operation just a few yards ahead. I knew it was stupid—I don’t claim to be the most sensible person at times—but I marched right up to him and practically dared him to stare me in the eyes.

He had his hood down now. I was surprised by how normal of a human being he looked. With his neatly-combed blond-ish brown hair and trimmed beard, he actually seemed . . . nice.

Just further proof that looks could be deceiving.

“Aren’t you supposed to be packing everything up?” He didn’t exactly say it threateningly, but his hand hovered near his hip. And consequently his sword.

I really hated him.

A stroke of impulsiveness on my part made me roll my eyes. Roll my eyes. That was definitely a decision I shouldn’t have made.

To my surprise, he didn’t retaliate. He actually smiled, and it wasn’t a cruel smile either. Not the kind I would have expected from a murderer.

Instead, his smile was sincere and something along the lines of warm. “Not many people would have the guts to roll their eyes at me. You really are an interesting case, Forest.”

How does he know my name? My mouth formed an “o” and I nearly spat out the question, but he answered it for me.

“The rumors. Remember?” His lip formed a half-smile. “You and your band of trained animals are the height of conversation in many areas of the Continent.”

A blush flamed hot in my cheeks. I knew what he was referring to: our counterfeiting. He had to have caught wind of all the stories about our false advertising and counterfeit goods. But why would that make him single us out as potential conspirators? We were just a family trying to survive in a cruel world where only the smartest and fastest made it.

I had found that out the hard way long ago.

There were so many questions peppering my mind, so the next words out of my mouth surprised me. “Do you have a name or do you just go by Hooded Murderer Number One?”

Now his grin was evident on his dark complexion. “I go by Stefan. But that’s a good suggestion. I’ll have to keep it in mind.”

Were we actually making jokes with each other? Something was wrong with this picture. I stifled the urge to laugh at his humor. No way was I going to laugh at something our captor had said.

Think serious. I put on my “serious face,” which was the equivalent of the expression I wore whenever Ren would do something stupid. Which was most of the time.

/ / /

Thorne returned a few minutes later with arms filled to overflowing with various herbs and some kind of tree bark. I wasn’t one to complain about what food I was putting in my body, but I had to admit, that bark looked a little on the sketchy side. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought that because Ozzie’s little voice piped up.

“Why is there something black growing on that?”

Jareth hurried to shush him, but it wouldn’t have done any good anyway. Ren was already joining in the outcry against the tree bark and garnering support from Nellie and Bene.

Thorne just sent me a bemused grin. “Since you’re all so averse to the idea of my cooking, why not let Forest take over?”

“No!” Everyone joined in one shout of horror at that thought.

“It’s nice to know I’m appreciated,” I mumbled, smile tugging at my mouth despite my best efforts. I had to admit, they were right. My cooking was enough to age someone fifty years prematurely.

Despite the various grimaces and groans around the group, we all sucked it up and ate the stew that Thorne prepared. To my surprise, it didn’t taste half bad. It was a little chunky at times, but I told myself it was just pieces of uncooked herbs and not whatever had been growing on that poor tree.

It didn’t seem to sit well with Thorne, ironically, because he ran out into the bushes to spew the contents of the meal a few minutes after he had finished.

“If we all die of some obscure fungal infection, blame him.” Ren indicated our gagging brother with her half-empty bowl.

Ever the optimist, Jareth said, “I’m sure it’s fine. Just a little . . . textured.”

In other words, it was disturbingly lumpy.

/ / / 

Sorry some of those were so long, but I couldn't resist. Forest's family is just the best. xD

So was NaNo '17 a success? Yes, I would say so. It was hard. Very hard. But it was worth it.

Final word count: 50,368 words

Well, how was your NaNo, writers? Can you believe we're in the LAST month of the year?? LIKE WHAT IS HAPPENING. Are you excited for Christmas?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

NaNo '17 Week 1 Update // I WROTE 20K + No Sugar?

Oops, there went the ENTIRE FIRST WEEK OF NANO.

*awkward wave* Hello there, bookdragons of the internet! I'm back with a little (or not-so-little) update on my NaNo progress. It's been a crazy first week but an awesome one nonetheless. Loooooots of exciting things have been happening. ;)

So remember me freaking out last week and saying I hadn't plotted and IT WAS ONLY LIKE A DAY TILL NANO?? Welllll. I spent Halloween (or NaNo Eve - I prefer that holiday) in the library plotting like a crazy person. And the cool thing? IT WORKED. Plotting rarely works for me, but I actually came up with a solid outline that has been super helpful in writing my story.

Well, one of them anyway.

That's right, if you didn't see it on my NaNo profile, I'm doing TWO projects this month. (Possibly one other one if I feel like it. #insaneperson) Let me introduce you guys to them really quick. The first one is the story I plotted. It's a steampunk Snow White retelling, which I started back in July. It wasn't working then but MY GOODNESS it's working now.

// Behind the Velvet Curtain //

Some curtains should never be lifted.

Adelia is counting down the days until she is finally free of her job as the magician's assistant. And when a young journalist rolls into town with the offer of a lifetime, she dares to hope her dream will be realized. The only thing that might shatter her hopes is the unusual mirror in her possession. When the mirror shows more than just her reflection, Adelia begins to wonder if legerdemain extends past the stage.

Life is determined to make Theodore bleed. One morning, he wakes up in an orphanage with no memory of how he got there. He runs away to join the circus and there discovers his two passions in life: the violin and performing. But with his impaired eyesight, he has no hopes of pursuing a professional career. He has no memory of his past and no prospects for the future...until a woman in an airship shows up at his door.

They say the world is a stage. But in the mist-shrouded society of England, some curtains should remain closed.

/ / /

I atually just realized I need to update that synopsis. Things have changed, my friends. xD 

The second project I'm officially (maybe) working on is essentially just a seedling of an idea with a title I slapped on the end of it. Ahem. Very well plotted. ;P I don't even have a Pinterest storyboard or a playlist or a mock cover or ANY OF THE VITAL THINGS. I literally just got an idea, threw together a synopsis, and uploaded it to the NaNo site like 30 minutes before NaNo began. We'll see how this goes. xD

It's supposed to be a fantasy book but like in a futuristic setting. I don't know exactly what I want to do with it or even how to describe it. All I know is there will be conspiracies and lots of siblings and epic fantasy stuff. Priorities, people.

// Vagrant Embers //

Getting involved in a murder plot was not how she thought her day would go.

Forest and her six siblings have spent their entire lives as vagabonds, wandering the Continent and selling their probably-not-counterfeit wares. But when a customer keels over dead right in front of them, they suddenly find themselves thrust right in the midst of a plot to kill the king: and they are the murderers.

/ / /

YES I'M SUPER PUMPED/TERRIFIED TO WRITE THIS. It will be 100% pantsed unless I sit down and outline it. Ironic because BtVC is my most-plotted story yet and Vagrant Embers will be my least-plotted. It's going to be interesting. ;)

Now that I've finally introduced my WIPs to you...on to the real update!

// U P D A T E //

Like usual, I stayed up until midnight and rang in the new NaNo with writing. I was attempting to do a 5k day, even though it was Wednesday (aka one of my busiest days of the week) and I DID. I actually wrote 6k that day and felt like my story had a pretty solid beginning. 

The rest of the week basically consisted of me trying to squeeze in writing late at night after all my homework was done. I'm not going to lie: I'm waaaaaaaay busier than I was last year. So I'm trying not to compare my stats to last year when I was insane and actually wrote DOUBLE what I have currently Like...what even was I doing with my life then? o.o I must have consumed unicorn supertonic or something. xD

But I realize that it's a year later. I'm a year older. I'm a different person than I was same time a year ago. AND THAT'S OKAY. 

I'm really, really pleased with how NaNo is going so far. I've managed to prioritize things and really be productive with college, writing, and other life things. I feel like that's something I really didn't place importance on last year. In 2016, I essentially ignored almost everything but writing...and that doesn't always work.

I've had research papers, college essays/applications, boatloads of homework, orchestra rehearsals, and so much more. But you know what? I feel good. I don't feel stressed - not really. Because I'm pushing myself with my writing but not past my breaking point. That's the key thing here. Are there nights when I just want to sleep and not write this darn novella? UM, YOU BET. I sometimes have to choose writing over other things I want to do.

But I'm just having SO MUCH FUN with this story and am completely in love with the characters. <333 It's actually a way more intense story than I've ever written before (may or may not have creeped myself out three or four times o.o) but that's a fun experience! There's still snark (it's in my DNA, what I can say) but all the action and plot twists and emotional conflict take front center. I LOVE IT. friends in my writing Hangout are shaking their fists at me because of all the cliffhangers. (Sorry, Em. xD)

I just hit 20k last night and am SO STOKED. That is actually the word limit for the Rooglewood Press contest entries, so I've already gone over it. OOPSIES. I write long stories, people. But I'm not stressing myself out about it. This is just the first draft, and it's more important that I explore my characters' personalities and establish the storyworld first. THEN I can go back and chop some things out. I have a good idea of how to streamline it anyway so I'm hoping the editing will be a smooth process.

SO YEAH. That's how I've been feeling. I'm in a really good place emotionally this month. Busy but satisfied and happy. :)

A few other general life things:

- I GOT ACCEPTED TO TWO COLLEGES. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! I've applied to three that I'm considering going to next fall, and two of them have already accepted me!! My mom and I toured one of them last month, and my top college (Liberty) also accepted me. WHICH I'M SO PUMPED ABOUT OH MY WORD. I totally squealed when I got the letter!

- I'm off sugar?? Yeah, I started this about five or six weeks ago. I've realized how much sugar I really consume regularly and wanted to make some healthy changes in my life. So I cut out added sugar. I only have dessert on one or two cheat days (usually one, but I DID have part of a donut for National Donut Day :P) and the rest of the week I just have very minimal amounts of sugar, most of it natural. I do feel a lot better about myself and honestly don't miss the sugar that much. It was hard the first few days but after that, it got better. Ummmm...until recently. Now that I'm doing NaNo, I WANT ALL THE SUGAR. It's hard not to stuff leftover Halloween candy down my throat (which I actually didn't eat on Halloween...WHAT IS THIS) but I've managed to so far. 

- I'm going on a trip! YES!! My mom and I are flying out to Liberty tomorrow morning (in like, less than 24 hours) for this College for a Weekend event they're having. It sounds SO FUN and busy and I'm just really, really excited. <333 BECAUSE COLD WEATHER. AND MOUNTAINS. AND JUST VIRGINIA. Virginia is my happy place. *sighs contentedly* 

- I reorganized my bookshelf! I must say, it looks even better than it did before. I had to take all my books down for the hurricane but I finally put them up again and oh my goodness. I'M IN LOVE. 😍

// S N I P P E T S //

Last but certainly not least, I'll leave you all with a few snippets. *rubs hands together evilly* These are all from Behind the Velvet Curtain. A mix of creepy/suspenseful/snarky. xD

/ / /

The creaking steps announced her arrival. Warm lamplight seeped through the opening in the door as a familiar face greeted her.

“Coming to tell ghost stories?”

Adelia rolled her eyes and elbowed past Theo into the wagon. “Got something better.” She withdrew the hem of her cloak from the plate with a dramatic flourish that only a magician’s assistant could manage.

Theo raised an eyebrow. “Well, that’s a disappointment. I was hoping you had a ghost trapped in there.”

She snorted and thrust the cake into his hands. “No hauntings tonight, Theo. Just cake.”

He broke into that dimpled grin of his and made a beeline for a stack of crates. He set the plate on top of one, then pulled out two beside it in a makeshift table-for-two. Adelia settled on one of them, and Theo grabbed a fork from the sparse number of utensils in the basket beside him.

He used the fork to cut the cake in half and slid the piece—the bigger one—on the plate toward Adelia. She regarded it with a question in her eyes, but he waved a hand dismissively. “Go ahead. You have to be starving.”

Her stomach rumbled as if on cue, loud enough for her ears to tinge hot pink. Theo didn’t even bother to hide his laugh and handed her a fork.

Feeling the heat tingling her skin, she stabbed a section of cake and brought it to her mouth. The sugary sweetness coated her tongue with a taste that could only be rivaled by homemade gingerbread. She closed her eyes and chewed the bite slowly, savoring every second of the flavor.

“I could get used to this,” Theo commented. 

She smiled and opened her eyes, not surprised to see Theo almost done with his cake already. Typical.

/ / /

Sob building in her throat, she raced for the door and into the open air. Instead of going to her own wagon, she turned to the quieting circus and wandered aimlessly through the various stands closing up. All the lights were dimming as the workers began to close down shop for the night. It must be late. She was rarely out here when it closed.

A hand seized her arm, pain rattling her nerves. She whipped her head around, reflexively trying to slap the person in the face. Black gloves stopped her arm mid-swing.

“You!” The word erupted from her mouth. Terror kicked her arms into gear again. She kicked at her brother, but he stopped her with a glance back at her wagon.

Chills raced up her spine. It was her wagon. With her sisters in it. Please don’t let him know. Don’t let him see my panic.

The cruel sliver of a grin on his shadowed face told her otherwise. “My dear sister, what’s the matter? You aren’t afraid of the dark, are you?”

The words made her heart skip a beat. He was winning. He was scaring her—and he knew it.

/ / /

It wasn’t very difficult to find the man; his practical, dusty brown vest practically shouted “out of place” in the noticeably impractical world of the circus. The reporter was ambling through the circus grounds with a bag of popcorn in his hands. Apparently he really loved that stuff.

“Good morning,” Theo said. He smiled in a desperate attempt to salvage respectability. Maybe he was lucky and Cassius actually didn’t hate his guts.

“Oh, hello.” He turned him a grin that was partially annoyed and partially ready to blot Theo from the face of the earth. There went that theory.

/ / /

The piercing scream sent desperation clawing at her chest. Adelia’s eyes nearly popped out of their sockets as she was startled into reality.

Is this reality? It can’t be. Where am I?

Horror was blazing through her head like a wildfire. Flames of fear licked at her common sense. She tried to stand but her legs and arms were bolted to the metal bed upon which she lay. All around her were grey, sunken shadows. The slender window in front of her revealed nothing except a sliver of harsh white light in the otherwise grim room. Screams continued to echo somewhere away from her, not too distant.

Her heart was hammering with panic as she tried to remember what had happened. The last thing she remembered, she was lying in her own room. Drifting off to sleep in peace as she recalled Theo waiting outside. Keeping her safe.

Now she was in a house of horrors. And she had no idea what was happening.

/ / /

Well. That seems like the perfect place to leave you all. *maniacal writer laugh*

I WANT TO KNOW: how is NaNo going? What's your wordcount? (I mean, if you want to tell - don't worry, I won't send dragons out to get you if you don't. I'll just stalk your NaNo account mwahaha. xP) If you aren't doing NaNo, how is life going in general?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Well, There Went October // I Got Instagram? + NANO

So I'm still technically on hiatus but I just wanted to let you guys know a couple things before October ends (WHAT) and NaNo starts (DOUBLE WHAT).

First bit of news: I'm on Instagram now. Technically, I've been on since April but I deactivated my account right after I got it and just "officially" became active last week. My account is private, but trust me, I don't bite. I only accept follow requests from people I either know or who have public accounts that I can stalk to see if they share similar interests. So that means you guys are probably good. xD

I thought I wouldn't like Instagram, but to be honest...I LOVE IT. It's given me a big creative boost and inspired me to practice my photography skills more. Plus, I can post little updates of things going on in my day that you guys might not see on here. *hint, hint*

Anyway, enough of that: you can find me on IG @thesunnyscribbler should you so desire.

Second little update: NaNo is basically here. Howwwwwwwww? I'm in denial of this fact. IT CAN'T BE TRUE. *runs screaming into the street*

The craziest thing is, I STILL don't know what I'm working on or HOW I'm even going to find time to work on it. I'm swamped with homework and orchestra rehearsals and upcoming trips and ALL THE THINGS. But like the crazy person I am, I just had to do NaNo.

SO YEAH. Tomorrow I'm camping out in the library to work on homework and have a one-day plotting adventure before NaNo. O.o

I'd really like to do weekly updates on here for NaNo, but that might not be feasible. We'll just have to see! I'll most likely be updating my progress on Instagram because #addicted.

Just going to plug myself again and leave my link to my NaNo profile here (yes, I know it's outdated) so you can stalk me and see when I actually upload my project tomorrow. TALK ABOUT LAST MINUTE, PEOPLE. I am not freaking out at all. Noooope. xD

Well, there you go. A VERY spontaneous update post. It feels so good to be blogging at all - even if it's just a quick, chit-chatty post. Tell me, are you doing NaNo? Are you as unprepared as I am? (Answer: nobody is.)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Taking a Break // h i a t u s

In case you don't follow my other blog (WHICH YOU SHOULD, BTW xD), I'm also letting all my friends over here know: I'm going on hiatus.

You can read the full rambly explanation HERE but the spark notes version? I'm so stressed and busy and tired and I can't handle it anymore.

I'm going to miss blogging - it's one of my favorite things that I do, honestly. I don't know when I'll be back, but I'm hoping it will be soon! This doesn't mean I'll necessarily be gone for months or anything. Just that I won't be posting on a schedule and that my posts will be few and far between. (So don't be too disappointed if you actually see a post from me in a couple weeks - you can't get rid of me that easy. xD)

So farewell for now, my dear friends! I hope to bring you a post every now and then but I'll definitely miss you all. <3

At last, now we've come to the end of all things...JUST KIDDING. I'll be back. There's no way you'll escape my madness. ;) But I want to know: what's been going on in your lives, bookdragons? Tell meeeee.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Bibliophile Sweater Tag // The First Tag Created by Yours Truly

Ever since I started blogging, I've been wanting to create my own tag. I dearly love being tagged and answering all the fun, random questions (even if I actually never do the tags I'm tagged for *COUGH*) so I thought it would be cool to create my own someday.

I wanted it to be something autumnal and book-related...and thus the idea of a Bibliophile Sweater Tag was born! This hasn't been done before, to my knowledge, but I did base the format off the Cookie Book Tag, which I did a few months ago and was created by this gal.

Basically, here's the gist of it: I came up with 11 different sweaters and a type of book that "matched" each one. I'm not sure if they all make sense? Sometimes I think I'm being clever and then it ends up just being confusing. xD

With that lengthy introduction out of the way, on to the tag!

Rules (more like guidelines...)

- Give the person who tagged you a never-ending supply of cookies (or just thank them - either works)
- Answer all the questions and use the blog graphic for this tag somewhere in your post
- Pass along the tag to at least five other people
- Wear a sweater (okay, this is optional...but why wouldn't you want to??)

// The Bilbiophile Sweater Tag //

Fuzzy sweater // a book that is the epitome of comfort

This is a hard question (well, yes, I wrote them...but never mind that) because I just have lots of comfort reads. If I were to just pick one off the top of my head, I would have to go with Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. I just read this recently for the first time and oh my word. It's so cozy and charming and beautiful. I LOVE THIS BOOK.

Striped sweater // a book which you devoured every line of

I can think of a lot of books that fit this category...namely any book with looooots of action. But A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen is just SO. GOOD. I could not put this book down. With fabulous family dynamics, a rich historical setting, and well-drawn suspense, it's just the definition of good fiction.

Ugly Christmas sweater // a book with a weird cover

(Note: this isn't meant to say that the cover is ugly. Just weird or not to your tastes. ;))

This is the closest I could find for this category. Just...yeah, the sculpture of an old man with glowing eyes is a little creepy. xD

Cashmere sweater // the most expensive book you've bought

I got this for Christmas a couple years ago, and it was probably one of the most expensive books I've been given. (Yes, I know the price - only because I was eyeing it on Amazon before Christmas. xD) BUT IT'S TOTALLY WORTH IT, GUYS. This has to be one of my top favorite books that I own. Ever. The format is the coolest thing ever, and it's just a gorgeous book.

(Plus, Peter Pan. *grins*)

Hoodie // a favorite classic book

This isn't my VERY favorite classics, but it's one of them! It's just so clever and fun and whimsical...I LOVETH THIS STORY. Highly recommended to anyone who likes whimsical fantasy-type stories.

(And can we talk about the illustrations?? I'm lowkey obsessed with them.)

Cardigan // a book that you bought on impulse

(Explanation for this one: cardigans are kind of the sweaters you would impulsively grab before heading out least they are for me. *shrugs*)

I had heard good things about this from a couple friends and was interested in reading when I found it on sale, I spontaneously decided to purchase it.

Let me just say: it was a very worthwhile purchase. *hugs book*

Turtleneck sweater // a book from your childhood

Confession time: I actually wasn't a big reader as a kid. *cue gasps from the crowd*

Yes, it's true. I didn't become a bibliophile until I was about ten or eleven. So while I read some books as a youngling, I didn't have any that I would read over and over again. (I missed out on a lot as child, apparently.)

One book that really does stick out to me from my younger reading years, though, is The Door Within by Wayne Thomas Batson. I think I read this when I was approximately twelve years old, and it's the book I hold responsible for getting me interested in fantasy.

Homemade knitted sweater // a book that is Indie-published 

THIS COVER, THOUGH. I can't get over the beauty. *stares with mouth agape for daysssss*

I could list a lot of great indie books for this category (The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson, The Reluctant Godfather by Allison Tebo, Martin Hospitality by Abigayle Claire, etc.), but for the sake of brevity, I'll just stick with this one.

To Get to You is honestly one of my favorite books everrrrr. ACTUALLY ALL OF JOANNE'S BOOKS ARE. Joanna Bischof is an mind-blowingly talented author. All of her books have raw emotion, unique premises, fabulous characters...they just have everything, my friends. And this one is the perfect summer read. Gahhhhhhhhh.

V-neck sweater // a book that did not meet your expectations

(This is supposed to be a sweater that has a v-shaped dip in the it could be like a book that dips below your expectations. It works...right? :P)

WELL THEN. This book was NOT my thing. I wrote a whole rambly review on Goodreads the other day about all the issues I had with this, and...yeah. There are a lot. xD Namely the horrible romance. Goodness gracious. *shields eyes*

Argyle sweater // a book with a unique format

This is more in terms of story format, rather than design format. It features two different plotlines, one set during WWII and another in modern times. The author weaves both plots together so seamlessly and beautifully. Kristy Cambron is TALENTED and has the most gorgeous writing style. She's so good at delving into the emotions of her characters - they just feel so real.


Polka dot sweater // a book with well-rounded characters

C' knew it was coming. xD

I raved about this in a review on my blog several months ago, and every word I said was true. THESE CHARACTERS ARE THE BEST. Like...I can't even describe the level of admiration I have for this book and its people. <333 I would totally recommend this to people who don't even read historical fiction. It has a great premise, some of my favorite characters ever, and it deals with BOOKS. #bookception

If you aren't convinced yet, just go read my review. Because I'm obviously the person you go to when you need to make major life decisions. (Aka picking out your next book to read. :P)

/ / /

Now to choose my victims. *evil chuckle*

Evangeline // An Odd Blog
Faith // The Writer's Song
Tracey // Adventure Awaits
Soleil // Thoughts from a Daughter of God
Savannah // Scattered Scribblings
Natalie // Ramblings of a Redhead Girl
Christine // Musings of an Elf
Madeline // Short & Snappy

As usual, there's no obligation to do this tag. I've forgotten or been too busy to do tags maaaaaaany times in my life. xD If anyone else would be interested in doing this, feel free! Just be sure to share a link with me in the comments so I can check out your answers. :D

For copying-and-pasting purposes, here are all the questions again.

Fuzzy sweater (a book that is the epitome of comfort)
Striped sweater (book which you devoured every line of)
Ugly Christmas sweater (book with a weird cover)
Cashmere sweater (most expensive book you've bought)
Hoodie (favorite classic book)
Cardigan (book that you bought on impulse)
Turtleneck sweater (book from your childhood)
Homemade knitted sweater (book that is Indie-published)
V-neck sweater (book that did not meet your expectations)
Argyle sweater (book with a unique format)
Polka dot sweater (a book with well-rounded characters)

WELL I DID IT. I made my first tag! *much flailing* What's your favorite kind of sweater? Are you as ready for fall weather as I am? (It's been SOOOO HOT lately. -_-) Have you read any of the books I mentioned?

Thursday, October 5, 2017

A U T U M N Update // First Time Driving + Secret Project + NaNo?

(Hello, yes, I'm totally not ignoring life's problems and homework by posting. *cough*)

HAPPY OCTOBER, WORLD! *throws leaves in the air unceremoniously* One of my favorite months of the year has dawned, and I honored it accordingly on my other blog.

There's been a loooot of stuff happening in my life lately, and I really didn't know what else to do except shout that out to the world so...yeah. Typical Mary logic. *nods*

I recently got a tripod for my camera (!!!!) so I was able to actually give you a decent quality video for once. (Well, it was SUPPOSED to be good quality, but for some reason, it doesn't look that great now in Google Drive? I spent SO long trying to upload it differently, but it didn't work...ugh. :P) Of course, I didn't have a clue what to do with editing so you basically get raw video footage of me being clueless and rambly and tired. You're welcome.

*laughs uncertainly because I look really weird in the thumbnail*

A few things I forgot to mention: I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow (my first well visit in like, six years *sheepish smile*) that I'm really nervous about. Many of you are probably aware of my fear of needles...and I just feel like I'll probably need shots and I'M LOWKEY FREAKING OUT. O_o I...can't handle needles.

I also have a super secret project that I'm working on. It may or may not involve books. But you'll have to wait to find out. *whistles innocently* It's going to take a long time to complete, and it might not actually work out? I HOPE IT DOES. Anyway, look out for a post about that sometime this winter/early spring.

I was going to put something else in this post, but I spent so long trying to figure out the video that I don't have time to spare. Bother. Hope this wasn't too much of a bore. ;)

Are you as excited as I am about fall? Any editing software you would recommend for videos? (I NEED TECH HELP PLEASE.) What have you been reading lately?

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Realm Makers 2017 Recap //

Realm Makers.

Where do I even begin?

It was one of the most memorable weekends of my life. 

I met so many friends (!!!), learned a ton of things, got books signed, met real authors, took selfies with aforementioned authors...


day 1 // 7.26.17


My mom and I had a bit of a snag going out the door that morning (her laptop was doing updates for over three hours), but we somehow got on the road only a little later than planned. Upon arrival at the airport, we headed through security. My suitcase set off some kind of warning and they had to search it--most stressful thing ever, wondering what they were going to find and confiscate *gulps.* I think I actually had a panic attack there, and I was shaking for a while afterward. 

Thankfully, that was the roughest part of the trip. Our plane landed in Chicago several hours later, where we killed time during our four-hour layover. AND GUYS. The Chicago airport was the coolest thing ever. There was this rainbow walkway thing, lots of cool architecture, and even a dinosaur skeleton in one terminal. I may or may not have snapped waaaay too many photos. *coughs* 

Our flight was actually switched to a different terminal and that gave us another little scare. The airport in Chicago is MASSIVE, but we were fortunate enough to have plenty of time to make it to the other terminal.

After another rather lengthy flight, we landed in Reno, caught a shuttle to the hotel, and were attacked by the smell of smoke in the lobby. (The casino resort was NOT my favorite part of the trip. :P) We crashed in our room soon after because it was so late--midnight in Reno, but 3 am in our time zone.

day 2 // 7.27.17


We got to sleep in the next day! Well...technically it was only 8:30 when I got up but still. XD There was a pre-conference workshop with David Farland going on, but I didn't sign up for that because #money. ;) It sounds like people really benefited a lot from it, though, so I'll have to consider that if I go again.

My mom and I went out for breakfast at this nifty little bakery, where I got this delicious cinnamon-sugar bagel. The rest of the morning/early afternoon, I holed up in the hotel and wrote up a blog post like a good little blogger. With that checked off, we went down to the conference floor to check in. (And I met Kyle Robert Shultz in the elevator! I had a bit of a freak-out reaction when I realized who he was, and it was rather amusing. XD)

After checking in, I actually met Kara Swanson! Um...offically that is. She was the first person I met at Realm Makers, when we were going up the elevator (yet again) on Thursday. I had no idea at the time that she was actually Kara Swanson--I just looked at her, commented to my mom that she "looked like a writer," and then she actually approached me in the elevator and said basically the same thing. Evidently we just don't like the casino type. ;) I was a bit floored when I found out who she was later that day. But really, she was the sweetest person ever, and I had great fun with her during the conference!

Then it was time for the opening! WHERE I MET PEOPLES. :D After the opening, the teens all had this awesome hangout in the arcade with Jill Williamson and her husband Brad. IT WAS THE BESTTT. I connected with quite a few people due to my Studio C shirt. ;) The night also included a keynote speech by Ted Dekker (which was...interesting), the amazing Fight Workshop with Carla Hoch and her "assistant" Ben (they were hilarious and taught me soooo many things about fight scenes), plus a giveaway at the end. 

Met this sweet girl, Arielle, in the Teen Track! 

day 3 // 7.28.17


The morning started off with breakfast with my dear friend Tracey. It was so surreal sitting down with her and eating muffins together. (And watching her spill coffee on herself. *chuckles*)

We all had an epic table during the opening (with Tracey, Jonathan, Hann, Audrey, Liv, Elise, and a couple other people) and then split off to our respective classes. I was lucky enough to be a part of the Teen Track with Jill and Brad Williamson this year. And wowwww, was that an incredible experience.
I learned a ton of things, including...

- In his mind, the villain is the hero.

- Everyone in your book thinks of themselves as the star.

- Build your storyworld with purpose; only build what you need and make sure that elements of your world actually create conflict and are important to the story.

- The most important step of writing dialogue is knowing your characters.

- Most guys don't typically roll their eyes. (DON'T LAUGH. This is important information, people. I didn't even realize guys don't do this very often. XD)

This course continued over Friday and Saturday. On top of all the great information, Jill gave us all a free book! (Which means she's awesome, obviously.) We also all plotted a story together as a class and needless to say, that got a little insane with sixteen people trying to plot the same book. XD But it gave me lots of cool ideas, and I'm really looking forward to writing that story!

I had two other classes that day, including a worldbuilding one and an editing demo. Both were really great classes, and I especially loved the editing demo.

Some things I learned from those:

Worldbuilding for Middle-Grade with Sally Apokedak //

- Give purpose to quirky details. (Kind of related to what Jill said in the Teen Track.)

- You should create a beautiful world worth fighting for. It makes your readers actually want to visit or live in that world.

- Everything impacts everything; events in your story should have a ripple effect.

Editing Demo with Lisa Mangum (aka one of my faaaavorite classes) //

- Don't fix something unless it's wrong. In other words, if a writer has given you their story to edit/critique, don't just change something because it's not how YOU would have written it. Only change it if it's actually wrong.

- Changing the font before you edit can help switch you into "editor mode.'

- Sans serif fonts are easier to read on screens.

- Also lots more stuff but I'm too lazy to recap it all. 'Hem. (Hann gave me all her notes from this because she's AWESOME.)

After all the classes for the day concluded, we all headed up to our rooms to get ready for the costume banquet! This was a highlight of the trip, for sure. I dressed up as Bilbo Baggins, minus his dagger and walking stick. (I figured security would frown upon those items. ;P) We hung out for a while, taking tons of pictures and stalking different people to see who they were dressed up as. Everyone was so nerdy, and it was the best. XD

The awards banquet itself was great fun (even if some of the food was a bit...questionable to my taste buds *ahem*). I sat with Tracey, Arielle, Kara Swanson, and several other people. I almost choked on my food and died of laughter, so I'd call that a pretty successful evening.

The banquet concluded rather late, but I stuck around for a bit and chatted with people. I swear I was the most extroverted that weekend that I've EVER been.

Me and the ever-sweet Tracey! Loved spending time with her. <3
Hann and Jonny! Had so much fun with these two. ;)
Me and Victoria! It was awesome meeting her. ^_^
Our epic table! *thumbs up*
Hann and moi ;)
Group selfie at Teen Track!
The costume banquet! You see the upper half of Tracey's Emma Swan
costume and my Bilbo Baggins costume.
Elise as Elizabeth Swann, Jonny as Robin Hood/random peasant/Peter Pan (let's just
stick with Robin Hood, shall we? XD), Hann as herself, me as Bilbo, and Audrey as herself.
Me, Tracey, Brianna as a medieval peasant, and Lisa as Arwen
Tracey, Liv as a fairy, Lisa, Brianna
Alllll the steampunk!
Steampunk + Toothless = perfection
Jonny and Elise
The two Jonathans ;)
Jonathan and Tracey
Um...don't ask. XD
Snow White and her adorable little dwarf <3
Kara as Anastasia!

day 4 // 7.29.17


SATURDAY WAS THE BEST. And also the worst because I had to say goodbye to all the peoples. *wipes away tears*

I started out the day with delicious breakfast (seriously--donuts and fruit and muffins...what more could we want??) with some of my friends. Afterwards, we had the opening and then split into our respective classes.

Teen Track was the first on the list again. It was actually really sad because it was our last session and we had to say goodbye to Jill and Brad. (Although I saw them that night, too--can't get rid of them. *winks*) I really learned a lot from that class, got fabulous story seedlings, and grew closer to a lot of teen writers. IT WAS FAB.

Then there was the character motivation workshop with Lisa Mangum. Truthfully, she was probably one of my favorite people teaching at the conference. Her classes were SO helpful!

Make Me: Character Motivations + Goals with Lisa Mangum //

- Your readers will believe anything if you give your characters the motivation to do it.

- You should make your characters have to choose between two things that are extremely important to them. (For instance, "nothing is more important than family EXCEPT revenge.")

- Every option the characters face must have consequences or risks.

- Don't promise change in your story that does not occur. 

We took a break for lunch, and I stole away from our table to finalize some book purchases. (I got LOTS of books, folks. Lots. Of. Books.) Afterwards, we attended one of the sponsor spotlights which was all about connecting with readers. I sadly missed part of it because of my critique session, but from what I heard, it was really encouraging and interesting. I'm not published yet, but there are some tips that really are applicable to any writer.

For Authors Who Want to Reach Readers with Suzanne Kuhn //

- An author without readers is just a diarist.

- Never be without a Sharpie. They're permanent and can write on anything. (Like when you're signing your books for people.)

- Know what author your style is like. This doesn't mean copy them, obviously--everyone has their own unique flair that sets them apart. However, readers enjoy reading books with a similar feel to other authors they've read so this is a good thing to keep in mind.

As I mentioned, I had a critique session with Jill Williamson that afternoon. It went really well, and I'm glad I signed up for it! She sent me tips on a piece of my writing that I emailed her before the conference, and when we met up, I chatted with her and asked any questions that came to mind. It was a lot different than I expected. More of a relaxed conversation about her writing experience and tips she had to offer. I will definitely want to do this again in the future, though I will probably want to write out some questions beforehand.

The two of us actually got so involved in our chat that we were really late to the next workshop. #oops xD I caught the tail end of the magic systems class with David Farland, where he shared some things that really stuck out in my mind.

Building Your Magic System with David Farland //

- There's a moral consequence to magic.

- There should be limitations to the magic in your story. It's not an all-powerful cure-all.

- Along those lines, the magic system should be somewhat broken. It shouldn't be easy to use and able to fix everything.

With that, all the actual conference workshops were over. I skipped out on much of the ending keynote by Dekker and chatted with some people during that time. A big group of us went out and ate delicious pizza (with pineapple on it--yesssss) and had deep conversations over dinner. (We also talked about how Jonathan sounded like a valley girl and learned about Canadian money...totally normal.)

Then there was the book signing! AHHHHHH. I got books signed by Kyle Robert Shultz, Kara Swanson, Jill Williamson, Robert Liparulo, Ted Dekker (thanks to Hann for waiting in line for me!), and Laura VAB. We all got an epic selfie with Mary Weber also and enjoyed a chocolate fountain. Basically...IT WAS PURE EPICNESS.

The concluding event of the evening? The nerf war. Oh my word, can you say best thing ever?? I've got to say, this was one of the highlights of the trip. Although I was 1000% clueless and basically hid the entire time, it was a blast. There were hundred-or-so writers gathered in a room with weapons. Was it chaos?

...You better believe it. ;)

Sadly, all good things must come to an end. Jonathan and I stayed there until midnight (because let's face it: midnight is the defining point of awesomeness) and I had to part ways with all my friends. *sad sigh* All in all, the perfect way to end one of the best weekends of my life.

The bookstore. (One side of it. Sadly, I didn't get a picture of
the whole place.)

Breakfast *drools*
(For the record, I was NOT ready for this picture. :P)
Forgive the blurry conference pictures aren't the
best quality. 
Selfie with Jill!
Tracey and me :)

Funny story: Tracey actually came up behind me and nearly gave
me a heart attack before this picture
was taken. (Thanks, darling. xD)

Selfie with Mary Weber (yes, this is epic)

I'm actually really obsessed with this picture.

People I Met //


You guys are all fabulous, and it was so cool meeting you! I didn't get to spend much time with some of you, unfortunately, but it was still a great time meeting everyone. :)

Authors I Met //

Kara Swanson
Kyle Robert Shultz
Jill Williamson
Mary Weber
Robert Liparulo
Laura VAB
Morgan Busse (well, kind of--she asked me to take a picture of her and some other people at the costume that counts? XD)

Things for Next Time  (because Katie Grace and Audrey did this before, so it's obviously a good idea) //

- Take more pictures. (I know what you're thinking: "this isn't enough??" Well, I was basically the only person with a big camera to lug around so I felt out of place taking pictures. Thus, next time I'd like to have an iPod/iPhone for more convenience. But we'll see.)

- Save room for books in your suitcase. Um. Let's just say it was interesting packing everything up when we left.

- Write out questions for critiques/meetings/talks with authors. I didn't do that this time, and I regret it. Although I had a great time chatting with Jill during the critique, I really wish I had thought to write down questions I had for her beforehand.

- Get business cards. Because these make you look 10000x cooler than you actually are. XD

- Take pictures with authors. I actually only have a couple pictures with authors and that's sad. NEXT TIME, PEOPLE.

- Do the pre-conference workshop. It's more money, obviously, but I think it would be really valuable. So yes. I'm interested in doing this next time. :D

- Bring a Nerf gun. Because I shall need it. Also, bring a backpack, Mary. The bags I brought to the conference were Very Awkward.

- Pre-write blog posts. News flash: it's actually really stressful to have to crank out blog posts during a writing conference. Who woulda thought. *rolls eyes* :P

Additional Notes //

- I obviously didn't take all these pictures. Photo credit for lots of these pics goes to Audrey, Tracey, and Jonathan. (Thanks for letting me steal all your group shots and candid photos! *salutes*)

- Jonathan learned how to pronounce debut at last. I'M SO PROUD.

- Pizza is good. Pizza with writers is better.


Um. So I hope you enjoyed this post two months late. It took me aaaaaaages to write, let me tell you. I had an amazing experience at RM and miss all my friends. <3 SERIOUSLY RELIVING IT ALL RIGHT NOW AND GETTING ALL EMOTIONAL.

Well, did you survive this enormous post? If so, have some cookies. *hands you some* Will you be going to Realm Makers 2018? (They just announced that it's in St. Louis next summer!) Maybe we'll see each other there next time!