Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Babysitting, Sunburns, and Out of State Siblings

Well, this is it. The farewell post to my favorite month of Spring. *sighs* I think that May wins as the fastest fleeing month of this year so far...which is saying something, since ALL the months have gone by incredibly fast. I'm still catching my breath after April. And Summer isn't going to go by any slower. Our family is already neck-deep in preparing for a pretty significant milestone for a certain younger brother of mine this Saturday AND a church retreat next week. Life just doesn't appear to listen to me when I politely request it to SLOW DOWN. Ugh. But enough introduction. I'm sure you're wondering what on earth has kept me strangely quiet on here...honestly, I'm wondering a bit myself. ;) 

This month started with my parents deserting my older sister and I to fend for ourselves as the babysitters of younger siblings while they flew to Wisconson and witnessed my one and only older brother graduate from his seminary. He then joined them and returned to Washington were he was going to be ordained by a group of elders and pastors who had been a godly influence to him throughout his growing up years. 
The day before Andrew's ordination ceremony, my older sister Sarah (yes, she's the one who got married recently) came up for a week to see us and watch Andrew ordained. 
The last time we were all together was for Sarah and Jesse's wedding last September, so having all of us together for a whole week was pretty special. :) 
During this crazy time with all ten of us running around (selfishly trying to get in as much time with Sarah and Andrew as possible) I had my first nanny job end after the parents' schedules lined up so that one could watch the baby while the other worked. This wasn't a tragedy for was exactly what the goal had been when I started babysitting Alice. But with the dad on military time we hadn't known if it would work like we hoped it would. 
Here's where I started realizing God had everything figured out for me...a couple days before I found out that my job watching Alice was at an end, a different nanny job was offered to me, this time for two little girls. At first, there was no way I could juggle the two jobs together, but God quietly shut one of the two doors and I landed this new nanny job. (I'm starting in just a couple weeks!) I'm still in awe at how He managed to put that altogether for me. Don't tell me He doesn't care about the little things in my life. He does. Always has, always will. 
May ended with our church's annual Memorial Day Picnic, hosted at our house. This event requires a LOT of yard work (and house work) that kept all of us busy the entire month. However, God blessed us with AMAZING weather and a wonderful turnout of people. It was fun to see new faces in addition to all the awesome regulars. ;) 
You know those sunburns I mentioned in the title? Yeah, I got pretty scorched during the time spent outside. BUT THEY WERE SO WORTH IT. I also got doused in water...our water ballon fight kind of turned into a "lets fill up five gallon pails and drench everyone with those". It was cold. And it made playing volleyball in our sanded court rather painful. BUT THAT WAS ALSO WORTH IT. XD

This month was not a very good month of writing. I hate to make excuses for my sad amount of writing...BUT family time IS kind of important. However, next month I'm taking a class on college composition, so I'll be cranking out essays by the bucketload. Thankfully, writing essays is something I actually enjoy. 
I wrote a Mother's Day poem. That ought to count for SOMETHING, right? 
I did write some in "A New Name", and started outlining "The King's Cousin" and "Silent Voices" May wasn't a complete loss. ;) 

I'm in middle of like...five to ten books right now, but I did actually COMPLETE three books during May around all the insane mess of busyness. And all three were amazing. Reviews to come on Goodreads. :)
Image result for jupiter winds c. j. darlington
Image result for to kill a mokingbird

Image result for thick as thieves

My wonderful group of beta readers have been wading (pun intended ;) their way through "Ocean Mist" with surprising speed. Two have finished their first read through already, with a couple others not far behind. I'm so grateful for their helpful insights. My poor story needs a lot of help, and help is exactly what they're giving. Without them, I wouldn't feel nearly as confident that my story is going to become something worth reading as I do now. :) 

Here's a sample of what I've had on my playlist this last month.
This song can ONLY be sung in a Scottish accent.
And it will probably be stuck in your head.
You're welcome. ;)
Here are the case you couldn't understand what he's saying. :P I included some interpretation of some of the words below (identified by *.)
The Midges

Sung by Kenneth McKellar

The midges, the midges, I'm no gonnae kid ye's,
The midges is really the limit,
Wi teeth like pirhanas, they drive ye bananas,
If ye let them get under yer simmit*!

The Lord put the Garden of Eden on earth,
And it's north of the Tweed, we believe,
Ay, Scotland's the place, and the whole human race,
Started off with MacAdam and Eve!
In six days or under, he finished this wonder,
Except for the Forth and Tay Bridges,
Then always a bloke for a practical joke,
He made Scotland the home of the midges!

 Back in 1314, the proud Edward was keen,
To take Scotland into his care,
But he made a U-turn when he reached Bannockburn,
Just a few weeks before Glasgow Fair!
For the midges let loose by King Robert the Bruce,
Straight into the English they tore,
So they ran off in tears, and for six hundred years,
They've been blocking the A74!

 Now never forget, when the sun's going to set,
And the midges arise on Loch Eck,
Like the vampires you see, played by Christopher Lee,
They will give you a pain in the neck!
You can smack them and whack them; in vain you'll attack them,
For they know every move that you make,
If you manage to kill yin****, another half million,
Are ready tae come tae the wake!

 Now Torquil the piper's a giant of a man,
With a sporran** as long as your arm,
And in Oban he's known, for the sound of his drone,
And a pibroch*** of real highland charm!
But they're sighing and sobbing, the ladies of Oban,
For Torquil is not what he was,
Since a midge in Glenbranter got hold of his chanter*****,
And carried it off in its jaws!

*simmit (semmet): a vest (part of traditional, male Scottish dress)
**sporran: a pouch (part of traditional, male Scottish dress)
***pibroch: bagpipes
****yin: one
*****chanter: bagpipe part



Goals Reached:
1: Write 10,000 words in "A New Name"
#epicfail I tried guys. I did.
2: Read 5(+) books
Better luck next month. *sigh* WHY IS THIS SO HARD? I love reading...I really do!
3: Write a poem
4: Complete a short story
*cough* Well, it was a nice thought. 
5: Work on editing "Ocean Mist"
Yes. I did. *thumbs up*
6: Spend less than an hour on the internet each day
Surprisingly, I did best on this one. With family around I didn't have much time to waste on Pinterest. ;) 

Goals for June:
1: Read 5+ books
2: Write five chapters in "A New Name"
3: Write five essays
4: Finish outlining "The King's Cousin" and "Silent Voices"
5: Begin editing "Ocean Mist"
6: Finish a short story

Because I foresee a very busy month ahead of me, I thought I'd warn you all that I might not be able to post much on here. I'll try to reply to your comments, and expect a couple blog posts throughout the Summer (I'm still planning on doing 21 Answers posts and monthly overview posts)...but I'm taking a break from Internet stuff (excepting Camp NaNo) until September. 
You could write me snail mail if you really need to get ahold of me. :P I just have a lot going on in my life right now, and the Internet has been bumped down a few notches in my priorities list. So there you gave it.
Also, I'm going to try to upgrade my blog a little...which will mean a lot of days when you happen upon it during the middle of the construction process. Try not to get a heart attack. Everything will look better (hopefully) by the end of summer. :P Speaking of which, I NEED HELP FOR THIS. If any of you are any good at blog design, please let me know you're interested in helping a poor girl out via a quick email. Otherwise, I'll try to manage on my own. *sniff* *puppy-dog eyes*
Other than that, I think I'll stop rambling and let you get on with your life. How was YOUR month of May? ;) 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

To Mom: A Mother's Day Poem

I think most of us can admit that our moms have played one of the biggest parts in our lives. Most of us grew up with her as our teacher. Moms tend to be (in my experience :P) encouraging, sympathetic, and the greatest example of a Christian wife and mother. 
Ok, so I might be a tad bias...(not to boast, but I think I have the best mom by far)...but I thought all the amazing things my mom has done for me over the years deserved a poem. You are welcome to  share this poem with your own mothers if the sentiments apply. :) You're welcome. 
Let your mother know she's appreciated today. Once you've done something fabulous for her, drop by again and leave me a comment letting me know what it was. I want to hear about it! :D
To Mom: 
A Mother's Day Poem

My mom is pretty great,
I've watched her my whole life.
She might not be perfect,
But she can handle strife.

She's organized, she's kind,
And she's attractive too,
(My dad would want that in)
Ask anyone: it's true!

She's a great example 
Of Proverbs thirty-one,
A godly wife and mother,
And besides all that, she's fun!

Not every day is easy...
There's ups and there are downs.
My mom has made a few mistakes,
But her love for us abounds.

The job of being mother
Is not an easy task,
But my mom does it pretty well
Go find someone and ask!

Life is never boring
If mom is somewhere near.
She likes to bring us joy,
Mom really is a dear.

Movies, ice cream late at night,
Play dates and outings too,
Company over for dessert,
And those are just a few!

I could name way more than that 
Of things she's done for us
To make our lives so very nice
She deserves a huge A+!

Someday when I'm a mom,
She's who I want to mimic:
Godly, selfless, kind, and fun...
Yes, that would be quite epic.

Mom, this poem is for you
To show you just how much
I love you and appreciate
Your love for me and such.

These are the words that couldn't fit
Inside that card I gave,
The ones I needed to express
That Mom, you are my fav!! 

Happy Mother's Day to my mom especially, but to all you other moms out there too! You are loved. :) <3

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Life of An Author (Part Two): Finding the Inspiration

After realizing I hadn't done one of these since...January??!?! after PROMISING you guys I would do one every month, I thought I'd change this to a more quarterly thing. ;) Or, a whenever-I-have-time-to-squeeze-one-into-my-hectic-schedule thing. :P 


I'm here. 

And I have a subject I think all we authors can relate to, and something that has been on my mind a lot this year. (It also happens  to be the topic I chose to write for Project, yeah. ;) Hope you enjoy!  

How do we find inspiration? 

​Inspiration is a funny thing. It comes, it goes…or sometimes, it doesn’t come. If you’re just beginning a story and trying to figure out what exactly you want to write, trying to come up with a new scene/character/plot twist, or seeing the light at the end of the story…but not really being sure of how you’re going to get where you were supposed to end up, and wondering who else has problems with those areas, rest easy knowing that you’re not alone. The struggle is real. It happens to all of us writers. 
​The question is; how do we do it? How do we inspire ourselves?
​Well, unfortunately, there’s no easy, step-by-step guide to inspiring yourself. Why? Because each author’s way of getting inspired is unique to themselves. However, I have some good news for you. Inspiration WILL come.
​There are ways you can trick your brain into gaining inspiration faster. Over the years of being a writer myself, I’m going to give you some of the things I use most when I find myself stuck in a certain area.

I Make Sure I’m Following an Outline:
​As a very strong panster, I totally get those of you who kind of brush over the fact that a story needs an outline. Outlines are one of my writing nemeses. I dislike using them as a general rule…but I have to say they are a necessary part of a book. After all, nothing helps your inspiration like having a place you know you need to end up in the next chapter.
​So, if you’re like me, sometimes you need to take a moment when you get hit with writer’s block and find out where your book is headed and where you want it to end up.

I Question My Writing:
​I’m also a somewhat scattered person, so I can get caught up in a conversation between characters and completely forget where I was going with my plot line. When this happens, I inevitably will end up against a wall in my writing. Even if I have an outline to follow, I don’t always know how to get to where I want to be with a certain scene or chapter. This is when I begin a self-interrogation of my story.
​Where do I want this scene to end up?
​What should my characters do in order to get there?
​Which direction do I want this to go?
​How can I make it work with the rest of the plot line?
​How do I get from point A to point B in my story?
​These questions, among a couple others, usually work to get me past whatever made me come to a temporary halt. ​

I Listen to Music:
​Maybe it’s just me, but music can add a lot to my writing. I use it in several different ways, besides just having it as a background soundtrack to my story. Often I’ll hear a song that really works with a certain scene through its lyrics, or music that is perfect for keeping the rising and falling action exciting and intense.

I Talk with Friends or Family Members:
​There are times when I feel especially lost in a certain area. Maybe a character is acting up or I’m drowning in descriptions but completely dry of plot, among other writer issues. This is when I find someone to talk to, either an online buddy or a friend from church or family member.
​It can be so helpful to get out pent up problems by talking to someone about them. Sometimes, I just need a fresh mind to take a look at my work or a set of willing ears to listen to the wrinkles and help me smooth them out. There’s no way an author can get a book perfect without a lot of assistance from people they trust.
​Countless times I’ve been inspired by a conversation with someone, whether for a scene, for a character, or even for an entire plot line. Never underestimate the imaginations of fellow human beings.

I Go to Pinterest:
​Don’t laugh. Pinterest gets a lot of flack from people, and I can understand where they’re coming from…I myself have wasted countless hours on there that I will never get back.
​However, I’ve found Pinterest to be helpful too. I’ve had my writing juices set on fire many times by character pictures, setting ideas, and dialogue and story prompts.
​Yes, it can be time consuming and even wasteful of time I could have spent writing…but in the end, I think it balances out and is worth a try.

I Read Helpful Blogs:
​I have a few blogs by fellow writers that I follow and read on a regular basis. Often these authors have gone through what I’m going through and have helpful insights, tips, and tricks to get me back on track and writing again.
​It’s always nice to know that I’m not the only writer out there that has struggles.There are a lot of people out there who have gone through writer’s block, loss of inspiration, procrastination, etc. They all have tips on how they got over the various roadblocks in their writing. I promise you’ll come away both encouraged and inspired.

I Read Books:
​Sometimes, there’s nothing as inspiring as sitting down and reading a good book. We all have our favorite authors, our favorite writing styles to read, and our favorite time periods to read about. We write what we love, we read what we love…see the connection? Not all copying is bad. (As long as you don’t break the law, of course.) If you know what you love, do that. Then you’ll never fail to want to write more.

I Take Breaks:
​Ok, so this sounds counterintuitive. Stop writing in order to be inspired? Well, not exactly. Hear me out.
​It is possible to write too much. It’s true. If you force yourself to continue writing when you don’t feel like it, your story is going to end up sounding really dry and boring. Trust me, I know. If your story doesn’t have drive behind it, it will end up falling flat.
​There’s a time to keep writing, and there’s a time to step back and reevaluate your life. That’s almost a Biblical principal.

I Write Other Stories:
​Most authors can relate to me when I say that I usually have five to ten stories going at once. Often times more, sometimes less. If I hit a wall in the one I’m currently working on, I switch to a different one.
​While that might sound confusing, it has helped me lots of times. Occasionally, I finish an entire different story while waiting for inspiration for the one I’m supposed to be working on…but at least my time isn’t being put to waste, right?

​Like I said before, every author is different when it comes to finding inspiration. As you can see, there are so many ways you could get inspired. Now it’s up to you to find a way. You will, but it might take some time. Thankfully, you have time. So relax and enjoy the writing process instead of stressing over your lack of inspiration.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Easter, a Conference, and a Book-Signing

And, look at that: it's May. Now pick your jaw off the floor and continue reading my post. Or, you know, go finish that math lesson you've been procrastinating on, because GUESS WHAT? the school year is almost over! (For some of you lucky people who have yet to graduate and start college...yes, you get the last laugh.)
Well, I'm not completely done with the month of April yet. I have yet to let you know what has been keeping me extremely busy for the last thirty-odd days. It's a long, hectic story, so buckle up and enjoy a sneak-peek into my life recently.

That's it. I've finally realized that life is never going to slow down. It's ok, I've accepted that fact. I'm an adult now, right? I can handle this...right? *distant sobbing*
Ok, I'm back. Oh, that's right, we were talking about life. *sighs*
The month of April started out with the usual Easter preparation. Our church holds an annual Easter Cantata (as well as a Christmas one) that is always a lot of fun to be a part of. In case you didn't know this, our family is very musical, so we are often a big part of our church's musical things (choir, cantatas, special music, etc.) and this year has been no different.
Squeezed between the Easter Cantata and Easter Sunday was a pretty big event for me: a book signing at a local coffee shop. The Coffee Oasis is a ministry our church has supported from the beginning, and I love what they do for the youth of our community. I would encourage you to look into this amazing outreach and keep those who run it in your prayers.
Anyways, the people in charge have been family friends for YEARS, and when Mom mentioned I was looking for a place willing to host my book-signing, they graciously allowed me to use one of their facilities.
As some of you requested, I got pictures! :) Below lies the proof that people of ALL AGES can enjoy my books. ;)
My dear friend and supporter, Mrs. Miller,
has been a huge help and encouragement to me
throughout my writing endeavors. :) 

Yes, there was actually a LINE at some
points during the two hour time period. ;)

A happy customer!
(Ignore the fact that he's a younger brother of mine please.
He DID actually buy the book...
and cooperated for this picture, so. XD)
At the end of two hours I had sold a grand total of thirty books. Yes, you read that right. THREE, ZERO. I was so blessed by the amazing support group who offered to help me set up the booth, my fabulous fan base in Port Orchard and Gig Harbor, and my incredible family and close friends who selflessly sacrificed their Saturday afternoon to make sure I was able to pull this dream off. You all, and I mean ALL have been such a huge encouragement to me...I can't even begin to say how encouraged I feel TO. THIS. DAY.
Easter Sunday came and went...and we took a brief breath of air before launching ourselves into the next event: the Christian Heritage Homeschool Conference.
My dad is part of the leadership that run this event, so we were more involved with it this year. The speakers were awesome, and the vendor hall extremely tempting to this book lover (and avid book BUYER)...but I had one goal in mind this year as I'm a college kid with a limited budget.
The last time I was unable to attend the conference, my mom purchased a series from an author some of you know pretty well. B-) At the time, I had no idea who she was...but that was soon to change. After falling in love with the characters in her series, I found her blog and began keeping up with this wonderful woman.
Over the next two to three years, I won second and then third place in her annual fan fiction competition before outgrowing them.
With a new series coming out, I kept myself from reading spoilers (as hard as it was) because I wanted to be able to get them from her as signed copies and be able to open them with the first thrill you get when opening a book you haven't read before.
This year, we were finally both going to be at the same conference at the same time. I bought the books I had been waiting to get and met Susan Marlow for the first time.
I gave her a copy of my book as a 'thank you' for introducing me to the world of online, teen authors. :)
The books! *squeaks* So excited to FINALLY
have my hands on them! :D

She was so much fun to talk to, and I ended up giving her a signed copy of my story. Why? Well, she was the main reason I met Jesseca Wheaton and Emily McConnell, as well as most of you other online aspiring authors. I felt she deserved a thank you gift for that. Because of her I have met two amazing girls face-to-face. :D
So there was the month of April in a somewhat streamlined and organized fashion. Hopefully some of my rambling made sense to you. ;) Now onto some of the things I was able to accomplish last month!

As many of you know, last month marked the beginning of Camp NaNo. With everything else I had going on last month, I was unable to get to my goal of 50,000 words...but I did top out at 30,500ish. About 17,000 of that was put toward the beginning of "A New Name"...enough that I MIGHT be able to share snippets with my poor, suffering story blog. >.< I'll be sure to let you all know when that happens so you can read them too. ;)
The rest was written in secret stories you guys don't get to even hear about ignore this sentence. In fact, I'm going to cross this out so you don't read it. Are you reading this? *disapproving noises* Really, guys. Seriously? STOP IT. 

Well, so I actually WAS able to reach my goal of five books. But some of them were *shrugs* I don't have covers for them all, but those I DO have covers for I will give you. ;)

Western Civilization I: the REA CLEP test prep book
Dandelion Dust: Make sure you have a Kleenex box near. Trust me.
A Boy for Rocky: I was given the opportunity to edit and format this delightful children's story by an elderly man I'm friends with.
Ocean Mist: Something about sending a book out to editor's makes you want to read your own book. Several times.
The Secret Keepers: Yes, I finished it. No, I haven't updated that on Goodreads. Yes, a review on Goodreads IS COMING. Thank you for your patience.

Did I read more than five. No. HOWEVER. I have a few books on my shelf now that shouldn't take me long to get through. B-)

As some of you know, I released my novella, "Ocean Mist" to beta-readers last month...I'm hoping to have it edited and ready to publish by the end of Summer! :) This will take time and effort, but I'm looking forward to having it in my (and some of your) hands! :D

Loving this song by Matthew West...the words...*hugs words*

And THIS song by Jason Gray...just...GAH.

And last, but not least, this song by Jadon Lavik:

April's Simply Story Prompts...just for your enjoyment! ;)

Which one do you relate to the most? Let me know in a comment! :D

Goals Reached:
1: Write over 50,000 words in "A New Name"
*cough* I tried. Really I did.
2: Post another "Life of an Author" post
3: Send "Ocean Mist" out to beta readers
YES. I did this. (Thank goodness.)
4: Read 5+ books
Err...I read five? So, that counts, right?
5: Write an Easter poem
Albeit a bit on the late side...but YES. I did!
6: Spend less then an hour on the internet each day all honesty, I forgot that one. It's a good goal though. I think I'll keep it for next month. And...for like...the rest of my life. XD

Goals of May:
1: Write 10,000 words in "A New Name"
2: Read 5(+) books
3: Write a poem
4: Complete a short story
5: Work on editing "Ocean Mist"
6: Spend less than an hour on the internet each day
Those may seem simple...but don't underestimate my ability to keep myself so busy I get NONE of them done. It has happened in the past. It will probably happen in the future. But bless you for having faith in me. XD

There it is. The hectic month of April summed up for me in one blog post. If you made it aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll the way to the bottom of it, congratulations. Have some chocolate. :) Until the next post...hope you all have a fabulous May! :D

Blog Tour for Project Canvas!! *cue intense celebration*

GUYS, I couldn't be more excited to share about this incredible book that is going to be available for you to get your hands on in just ...