Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Here's to 10 Years

Yesterday evening, I made my way over to Midway airport to pick up a friend of mine who had been on vacation visiting her family. Her husband was working, so I got to pick her up and go out to dinner. (Win! Especially when said dinner is from Chipotle.) Lately, she and I see each other at church and our little group of friends sit together. Which is awesome, but it also means I don't get a whole lot of one-on-one time with this group of friends due to crazy schedules. So, church is the one time we all (usually) get to see one another. Having the time to drive and have food was exciting.

As we drove she told me as of this week she has been living in Chicago for ten years now. Ten years. A decade. When she moved to Chicago it was when she moved into the dorms at Concordia University River Forest (CURF. Now it's Concordia University Chicago, CUC. Ugh.). I've been thinking a lot about how it's been ten years since high school - you'd think I would put together that it also meant I began college ten years ago.

But for some reason those pieces didn't come together until my friend mentioned it last night. With thinking about the high school students I used to lead graduating, that has been my main focus. High school.

Ten years ago, yes, I graduated high school and closed that chapter in my life. But it was also the beginning of an amazing chapter! So much of my college experience shaped who I am today (although A LOT has changed since then) and the friends I made there are still some of my closest friends I've ever had. I talk to far more people form college than I do from high school. Other than reading random Facebook status updates.

I've been friends with some people for 10 years! It's an awesome friedaversary! (At least for those I met my freshman year...)

Ten years ago this week was when I moved into my dorm and went to Freshman camp.

I made friends who I still talk to - some on a daily basis. Some just on occasion simply to catch up. 

It was in college I started to attend the church where I received my field work training and I am a member of now.

Ten years ago was the start of where countless hours were spent at the local pub, Caribou Coffee, IHOP, and road trips to ALL OF THE WEDDINGS because that's what happens when you go to a small Christian university.

Many of my friends met their future husbands or wives those years.

I added theatre to my major and it basically took over my life - and it was awesome.

I joined the Weeks of Welcome Staff to help other new students be welcome to campus and feel at home there the way I had been when I was a freshman.

Spring breaks were spent in the Appalachian Mountains where I tore down walls and climbed mountains.

It's been a crazy ten years since meeting all of these amazing people, and I'm so grateful! Let's have another awesome ten years, shall we?

Bout of Books Update:
Total number of books I've read: 1 1/2
Pages Read Yesterday/Today: 160
Total Pages Read: 310
Books: American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Anna Dressed in Blood  by Kendare Blake

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Authors I Want to Be My Mentors

The author Stephen King once said "If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that." (Source)
I haven't read much of Stephen King. As in... I've never read any of his books. I'm way too much of a wuss to even try to pick up The Shinning or anything else like that. (Although, the Facebook book club I'm starting is reading his book Firestarter as our first one. Eek! If you want to be a part of it, click here to join the group.) However, I do respect him as an author because he has written so many novels and short stories. Many of which are best sellers and have inspired others to create movies, TV shows, and pursue their own stories. So, when I hear his words of wisdom when it comes to writing, I listen. 

I particularly agree with this statement about reading. (As does JK Rowling actually.) If you want to write well, you need to read. Granted, you probably don't need to read a kazillion books a year or anything. But you do need to read. Good books, bad books, books in the genre you write about, books outside of that genre, etc. If you don't read, how are you going to learn more about your craft? How are you going to know good writing when you see it?

No matter what your craft or talent is, you most likely have people you look up to. If you play basketball you probably look up to people like Michael Jordan. (Or whoever is popular these days. I don't know sports.) If you are a musician you listen to other musicians. If you're an artist you learn about other artists. I think you get my drift by now.

The same goes for writing. Whether you write fiction, poetry, blogs, etc. you need to read. Read something - anything. Because that's how you learn.

I was thinking about the authors I admire. Not just my favorite books, but authors who I truly look up to. The ones when I read their books I sit in awe of how they paint pictures with their words and form unforgettable characters and stories which sweep me off my feet. These are the authors who I would want to mentor me in my own writing.

Naturally, I went to social media to find out which authors my other "writer type" of friends look up to. They had a variety of different authors they shared with me. Eric Metaxas, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Jane Austen, the apostle Paul, Jeanette Winterson, Margaret Atwood, Aaron Allston, Mercedes Lackey, Virgina Wolf, John Green, Neil Gaiman, Gail Simone, Douglas Adams, etc.

All of these are different from the others, but all have something to add to the writing community.

If I were to pick any authors to be my mentors, here's who I would pick.

Elizabeth Chadwick
The Greatest Knight, Lady of the English, Summer Queen, etc.

“Weep now, but tomorrow be strong. Remember who we are and that whatever else is taken from us, they will never strip our honour and our pride.” 
― Elizabeth ChadwickTo Defy a King

Image Source
The way she can take true events and people from history and turn them into novels is amazing. I would love to find out how she does all of her research, how she organizes it, and the process she has for creating a story. Yes, some of her methods are... unusual. (I think I heard she goes to psychics or something.) However, she's undeniably a fantastic author.

John Green
The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns, Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines

“Writing, or at least good writing, is an outgrowth of that urge to use language to communicate complex ideas and experiences between people. And that’s true whether you’re reading Shakespeare or bad vampire fiction—reading is always an act of empathy. It’s always an imagining of what it’s like to be someone else.” 

Image Source
I'll be honest, The Fault in our Stars is my favorite book by him, I've only read two other ones. They were good, don't get me wrong. But I wasn't blown away the way I was with TFioS. However, I do love his videos and I love how real his stories are. Especially TFioS. He has this awesome way of writing stories for young adults which also connect to adults.

Neil Gaiman
Neverwhere, American Gods, Stardust, Coraline

"The moment that you feel that just possibly you are walking down the street naked...that's the moment you may be starting to get it right."

Image Source
I've only read two of his books so far, but I have all of them on my "to read" list and I cant wait to dig into them. He creates this beautifully "ordinary" characters and puts them in unreal situations which almost seem normal. I've been blown away by how he puts pieces together for a story and the sense of humor and ridiculousness in his novels. Whenever I've read quotes by him about art and writing and life they resonate with me and I find myself agreeing. I would love to hear him talk about writing, but about life as well. Also - he's written episodes for Doctor Who.

Anne Rice
The Vampire Chronicles

"To write something, you have to risk making a fool of yourself."

Image Source
She is the queen of vampires and the supernatural. She wrote about vampires before it was cool! I'm always entranced when I read The Vampire Chronicles. Her ideas are controversial, powerful, and unique. I love her characters and I find myself wanting to read more about Lestat partly because I still don't 100% understand him, he's so in depth. Also, she does a fantastic job of  connecting with her fans. (AKA- "people of the page.") She's always updating her Facebook page and discussing issues of the world with her fans, and when she's unavailable she makes sure her assistant (Becket) updates for her and lets everyone know who is the one writing. 

JK Rowling
The Harry Potter Series, The Casual Vacancy, The Cuckoo's Calling, The Silkworm

“I didn’t write with a target audience in mind. What excited me was how much I would enjoy writing about Harry. I never thought about writing for children — children’s books chose me. I think if it is a good book anyone will read it.”

Image Source
Let's be honest - she's fantastic. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone she's on my list. Harry Potter has some of the greatest storytelling and most memorable characters of this age. She's able to create a beautiful fantasy world and story, while also discussing intense issues like prejudice, justice, family, depression, love, and friendship, in a way anyone of any age can connect and learn from. But even beyond Harry Potter, she's great. The Casual Vacancy may not be everyone's cup of tea, but the characters were still wonderfully made and the story was written well. I haven't read either The Cuckoo's Calling  or The Silkworm yet, but I've heard great things and I'm excited to read them. And she did it while not even using her own name. Yes, the books probably sold a lot more once it leaked she was the author. However, from what I've heard The Cuckoo's Calling did just fine before then.

Rainbow Rowell
Attachments, Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, Landline

"I find love stories satisfying when you can see the work - when you can really watch people find each other and fall in love, a little bit at a time. I like slow burns. Falling in love is so good; why would you want to rush it?"
Image Source
She has become more of a recent hit- but I think we'll be seeing more of her as the years go on. Her characters and stories feel so real. It's as though these are people I would see walking around my neighborhood, on campus, and at the store. Also - her twitter is hilarious and I feel like we would laugh a lot AND Fangirl was a NaNoWriMo novel.

Erin Morgenstern
The Night Circus

"I think that's a hallmark of a really good story that it has readers that it speaks to more than others."
Image Source
Another NaNoWriMo author and the author of one of my all time favorite books. She's a creator of fairy tales and magic and wonder and love. Nearly everything I love in the world is in her book and I can't wait for her to write another. 

Then again... maybe I wouldn't have them mentor me. I'd be too afraid to show them anything I write for fear of them hating it! (haha.) If you could pick any writers (or someone in your field) to mentor you, who would you pick?

Monday/Tuesday Bout of Books Update
Total number of books I've read: 1
Total number of pages I've read: 164
Books: Completed American Gods and began Anna Dressed in Blood

Monday, August 18, 2014

Rising Star

Does anyone else watch the TV show Rising Star? It's another music competition but what's different about it is that you vote for the singers live through an app. It's pretty fun.

Well, next week is the season finale and there is one singer who I LOVE name dJesseand I hope he wins. (Although the others are excellent too.) He sings old rock music and when you first hear him talk you'd never expect him to have the power house voice he has because he's so soft spoken. But the moment he has a guitar and gets onstage it's a whole other story. He did this awesome cover of Michael Jackson's "Bille Jean." 

If you want to watch, here's the link to his performance:

What music are you listening to right now? Link up with Music Monday and let me know Sorry it's such a short post today. I had to go to Indiana for some family stuff, but I'll be back home tomorrow!

I'm working on finishing American Gods by Neil Gaiman and I only have about 120 pages left! So I'll finish it today and get going on my next one!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Bout of Books Goals

Before I go to writing about my Bout of Books goals - I just want to say how happy I am about how peaceful Ferguson was yesterday. I know there are still so many problems and things there/in the world aren't going sin g to magically go away. But they seemed to approach thing in peace yesterday and I think that should be celebrated. It's those small steps which make progress happen.

Now - onto Bout of Books!

The challenge starts on Monday and I think I'm ready to hit the books. ;-) Here are some of my goals for the week:

- Finish American Gods  by Neil Gaiman if I haven't already by then. I've been working on this book for FOREVER and I have no idea why it's taking me so long to get through it. It's a great book and I'm loving it, but it's pretty long and I keep reading other books while I'm reading this one.


- Read one book from my Kindle/Nook shelves which have been sitting on my iPad for a long time. I have so many books which have just been sitting there and I haven't read yet and I need to get to them. I'm thinking it'll be My Exile Lifestyle by Colin Wright, Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger, or Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. However, there are several others which are possibilities.


- Read a book on my "real" bookshelves which have been sitting there the longest. I have a lot of books in the same boat as my ebooks. They need to be read! I'm thinking it'll be The Cuckoo's Calling  by Robert Galibrath (JK Rowling... and this would also work for my ebook goal), The Passing Bells by Phillip Rock, or Heartless by  Paper Towns by John Green.


- Read at least 3 books. This would mean I would complete my ebook and "real" book goals, and possibly one other book if I finish American Gods before Monday.

- Read at least 150 pages a day.

So... here's hoping I do better on my goals this time around!

Bout of Books

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Overwhelmed, Lord of the Rings, Les Mis, and Polar Bears

For Vlog Every Day August (VEDA) I made a video about my reaction to Ferguson, MO. If you'd like to see it, here you go. I feel like the video explains everything of how I'm feeling right now.

Please keep the people of Missouri in your thoughts and prayers as well as the rest of us who are just trying to figure out what's happening and how to react.

Simple Moments Stick

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Bout of Books - Part 2

Remember a few months ago I tried this thing called Bout of Books? Then I had work and I got sick and couldn't keep my eyes open - thus not completing my goals? Yeah. That. Apparently there's another one coming up! I'm thinking since the preschool isn't in session again until September - I might actually be able to do better this time around!

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 18th and runs through Sunday, August 24th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 11 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Bout of Books

So, what do you think? I haven't set my goals yet. That'll be another post. What types of goals do you think I should have? Are you participating in Bout of Books?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Yes, You Can Cry Over a Celebrity

Too many times when a celebrity dies I hear various complaints from people. How we shouldn't make a big deal about them. How we didn't know them. How there are other big things happening in the world which need our attention. Etc.

Thankfully, I haven't heard any of these complaints about the recent passing of Robin Williams. 

As sad as I was reading the endless posts on Twitter and Facebook about Robin Williams, it also was endearing. Some truly awful things have been happening in the country and world lately. My family watches two or three news shows a night and it's depressing. I hate watching or even having it on in the background because I don't want the constant reminder of how many awful things are in the world.

But we can still come together and mourn, but also celebrate an amazing life. Movies and comedy we've known our entire lives and still laugh and cry over.

Because, even if we didn't know them, it's okay to mourn the death of someone famous. 

I remember in high school my friend and I were recognizing the anniversary of when John Lennon died. I was talking about it in class and a guy who sat behind me started to complain about how it didn't matter. Just because this guy was famous didn't mean we should be talking about it years and years later.

Or even just last year when Cory Monetith from Glee died, I heard people sharing how ridiculous they thought it was that so many people were mourning him.

First... It's John Lennon. Just... Really?

Second, what's so wrong in recognizing their life and death?

Remembering them is important. They were still people. They made mistakes and had the skeletons in their closet out for all of the world to see. Many times theses celebrities have awful pasts and
major issues. But they were still people. We remember our own loved ones, and we can remember those we've never met as well. Because they were people. They were people God created and loved. 

And their work was important. Yes, sometimes they made jokes or awful dance club music or just drove around a car really fast. But it made people smile. For those few moments, the outside world was gone and people were entertained. We laughed and cried during movies and TV shows. 

Because art is important. I want people to know that just because someone wasn't in politics or started a movement, or fought against the injustices of the world, and made art instead (even if it seemed silly at times), it doesn't mean it wasn't important or meaningful.

Art touches us and moves us. It shows us how we feel, what we want the world to be like, and changes us. We need those people in the world. They help to change the world in their own way.

It's not just about Robin Williams. It's all of those awesome actors, musicians, writers, directors, etc. who have left their mark and we miss. I think about that part of the Academy Awards and they recognize all who had passed that year in the movie industry. Some of the names I know, but there are many I don't. But every year a lump comes to my throat to think of all of those people.

First - because they were people. Every life is valuable.

Second- because they helped create art. No matter how large or small their role was or what sort of thing they did. They helped create something which touched others. It's important and needs to be recognized.

So yes, you can mourn when your favorite actor or singer or heck even athlete dies. Marathon their movies and tv shows. Here's to you, you wonderful artists and comedians and performers of the past whom we miss. Because it matters.

And my friends, we never know what battle people are fighting. Please, be kind to each other, and if you ever need a shoulder to cry on or lean against, I'm here.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Soundtrack of my Life

I don't know about you, but I feel like I always have background music going in my life. It's almost as though there's a soundtrack to my life. For example, whenever I hear "If You're Not the One" by Daniel Bedingfield or "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana (odd combo... I know) I will always be transported back to the summer before my senior year of high school. Long summer nights with one of my close friends, spending every minute together, talking about everything, and reading Order of the Phoenix to each other. Or "Saide Hawkins Dance" by Relient K and "Rawkfist" by Thousand Foot Krutch are the anthems of when I was in youth group.

Do you have those songs which seem to be in the background of your life? The ones where if someone made a movie about you, you know they would need to be in the soundtrack?

Music is always there in the background for me. In the car, blogging, reading, writing, etc. I even have music for my characters which when they pop up on my iPod I can't help but start plotting and getting into their heads.

I think that is part of why I was drawn to instruments like piano and guitar. They're the ones which are staples in all types of music. They're always there in the background.

I started to play piano when I was in fourth grade and I loved it. I can't say I was the greatest piano player ever, but I wasn't bad. I stopped taking lessons at some point, and that put a stall on my increasing my skills. However, by this point though I had picked up the clarinet and I was deep into band in high school and singing for choir. The clarinet is awesome and I love it, but it's not one you usually pick up to play with friends and jam or something.

However, I also had decided to pick up the guitar. When I was in 8th grade I bought one with my confirmation and graduation money thinking it would be a great way to learn how to play more popular music and maybe even try to write my own. I tried to take lessons, but for some reason it just didn't take. For years my guitar has been sitting to the side untouched. I think it's because the instrument itself it too large for me. It was bulky and my fingers weren't strong enough to get the chords.

So I kind of gave up on finding that perfect background instrument. The one I could just pick up and play.

Then, a couple of weeks ago I was watching a Carrie Hope Fletcher video on YouTube. She's one of my favorite YouTubers and she was playing a song wither her ukulele. I thought "I could totally do that."

So... I did. After some awesome encouragement from my friends via Facebook and Twitter I went online and ordered a $50 pink ukulele.

I haven't been able to put it down since. Trust me, putting it down to work on my blog is a struggle. I love playing it! I was nervous it might be the guitar all over again. I was worried my fingers wouldn't be strong enough or long enough to get everything.

But it's been awesome! It's only been a little over a week - so I might be jumping the gun a bit. But I feel like I've finally found that background music I've been searching for. Even the first weekend of getting in delivered to my door I was sitting around on the couch lazily playing as I hung out with people. It's something I can just carry around with me and play whenever I feel like.

It's like finding the soundtrack to my life.

Any song suggestions for me to learn?

I'm also linking up with Mingle Monday!