Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Final Pre-NaNoWriMo Pep Talk

In only two days November will be upon us. When midnight strikes Halloween will roll out as it always does. Maybe you'll still be out partying or at home wearing your costume as you pick through leftover trick-or-treat candy. (Or not leftover and just what you have... cause why would you give away your candy?) Or maybe you're in bed already because you're smart and want a good night's sleep. Good for you. No matter where you are, the clock will strike 12am on November 1.

NaNoWriMo has begun.

I, and I'm sure a lot of other people, have mixed emotions about the start of NaNoWriMo. On the one hand, I love being able to have an excuse to dedicate a whole month to writing. I love working on a new project and collaborating with thousands of other people doing the exact same thing and how we are all there for each other. I love talking with my friends about their novels and reading the pep talks and perusing the forums.

Then there's the other half of me. My schedule is wildly different from it has been for every other NaNoWriMo. Before, my work schedule was somewhat flexible and it was the calm before the storm of the Advent/Christmas season at the church. Now, my schedule is more rigid and I can't leave work an hour early if needed to meet someone at Starbucks for a writing date. Working two part time jobs, searching for freelance writing gigs, and searching for more work doesn't leave a ton of free time.

We've been having technology issues at home lately, so we are down to one laptop. Mine. Which is fine, I don't mind sharing and most of what I do can be done on my iPad. However - I hate writing on my iPad. My time using Scrivener, my writing program of choice, is going to be cut down a lot.

On top of it- I have barely a skeleton of an outline. Usually I'm all planned out. My characters have rich backstories, The novel has a semi-detailed outline and I have a basic idea of where it's going. This year... not so much. I don't know what it is this year, but I feel woefully unprepared. Doubts fill my mind.

My novel will be awful.

I won't have time.

There will be major plot holes.

The characters will be shallow.

I'll lose motivation.

Anyone else having the same doubts and thoughts?

Yeah... that's what I thought. So, here is my final pre-NaNoWriMo pep talk. Not just for you, but for me too.

My novel will be awful.

Yeah... maybe. That's life. Sometimes we create something that completely sucks. It happens. That's how we learn though.

But what if it's not? What if it's brilliant? What if it's the best thing you've ever written? Yeah... how awesome would that be? But you're never going to know until you sit down and write it.

I won't have time.

No one has time. Put on your big girl panties and deal with it. Yes, you might need to have later nights and/or earlier mornings for the next 30 days. You might need to cut back on Tumblr and bingle watching TV shows on Netflix. Worse things have happened. Get up, turn off Netflix and Tumblr, drink some coffee (or your caffeinated beverage of choice) and write your novel.

There will be major plot holes.

There usually are. Even in some of your best stories - there have been major plot holes. But you always work through it. You have friends who are fantastic writers who point them out and help you. Find your writing friends and brainstorm. Talk it out. Go to the NaNoWriMo forums. Then go write your novel. Sometimes just writing and letting it flow will surprise you with something fantastic. But those holes will never be filled until you write.

The characters will be shallow.

Get inspiration from people in real life. Have dates with your characters. Eventually they'll flesh themselves out. Keep writing and sometimes as you write they get better. When I say sometimes, I mean usually.

I'll lose motivation.

We all have those moments - and it's okay. You're allowed to take breaks sometimes. But don't worry about that yet. Why are you worrying about the future? That's for future you to worry about later in November.

The moral of the story?

You just need to get to writing. Maybe it'll fall apart, maybe it won't. But either way, you won't know until you try.

Write your story.

What's my plan, you ask?

One, for now I'm just going to focus on my very first scene. MAYBE the first chapter. That's it. I want to picture it in my mind so when I sit down to write November first it can pour out of me. I'll worry about the rest later.

Also, I started reading Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. It's about a girl who participated in NaNoWriMo (or at least that's the impression) and now her novel is going to be published. The book goes back and forth between her story and the one she wrote. So a book within a book. It's making me really excited for November to start.

Need more inspiration? Kristina Horner has a ton of NaNoWriMo videos and pep talks on her YouTube channel. This one is my favorite. She did it three years ago, but it's my favorite thus far. If you can't see the embeded video below you can click here. 

What are you doing to get ready to write in November? Do you have any advice for people like me who are having mixed emotions about NaNoWriMo?

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Halloween Tag!

Kirstie of A Quick Succession of Busy Nothings tagged me to a Halloween survey. She made a video of hers, so I did too and posted it on my YouTube channel earlier this week. Check it out!

I tag:

Willie of Lazy, Happy, Board, Happy, Sad
Brittany of Stories, Songs, and Praise
Alexandra of This Journey of Journeys

And no, you don't have to video it like I did! ;-)

The Questions:

What is your favorite horror movie?

If you were in a horror movie how far do you think you would get?

Favorite scary video game?

What is your favorite scary story?

What's one unusual thing you're afraid of?

What's your first memory of Halloween?

What your favorite Halloween memory?

What was your best Halloween costume?

What's your worst Halloween costume?

Which is scarier...

Werewolves or Vampires?

Ghosts or Zombies?

Creepy Dolls or Creepy Clowns?

Freddy Kruger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Meyers, or Leatherface?

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Finally! A Positive Book Review!

After what felt like reading books and book and books I didn't enjoy for reviews, finally, I was given one I truly have enjoyed.

Overview Without Spoilers

Maviah was born into shame - at least according to the standards of her time and culture of Israel in 30 AD. After her son is killed and her father is captured in an attack on her kingdom, Maviah is sent to King Herod to plead on behalf of herself and her father. She is joined by Judah and Saba who are there to protect and guide her journey through the dessert. Yet, along the way Maviah finds much more than she had originally thought.

AD 30
Author: Ted Dekker
Publisher: Faith Worlds/Center Street
Release Date: October 28, 2014 TODAY!
Received Book From: in exchange for an honest review
Genre: Historical/Fiction/Christian

My Thoughts

The Premise

AD 30 was a much different book of Dekker's than I have read before. The other two books by him I have read were contemporary thrillers, this one is historical fiction. Although, this does not mean there aren't adventures and plot twists all through AD 30. Political intrigue, wars, battle, revenge, murder plots, this book is not lacking in the excitement category by any means. All in the midst of this, is the characters learning and hearing more and more about the mystic called Yeshua. I loved his use of the name Yeshua, vs. Jesus. It helped to make him become more alive instead of my own preconceived notions about who I think Jesus is. Reading Yeshua helped to see him in a more unbiased way. It is also more historically correct. What was also interesting was how Yeshua himself was only in a handful of scenes. You would think a novel about people learning about Yeshua in his time would center around him, but it didn't at all. Yet, his impact was still felt through the whole novel.

The Characters

Maviah was strong, cunning, but sympathetic. As you read, you see how much suffering has been in her life which makes her sympathetic and your heart breaks for her. But she's not a character to throw herself a pity party to the point where you want to roll your eyes and think "let's move on already."

Judah at first almost seemed too good to be true - which I think Maviah felt the same way. But as I read about his warrior spirit and his way of almost being obsessive about things, it made me be turned off to him a little. But I liked that because it showed he wasn't a perfect person. Also, he's the relative of one of the magi who had visited Yeshua as a young child which is pretty awesome.

Saba was intriguing. He was strong, level headed, and mysterious. But I would have liked to have gotten to know him better. I'm hoping in the next book we learn more about him.

Phasa was King Herod's wife and became a close friend (if not a sister) to Maviah. She was so fun! She loved her jewels, was a spoiled brat, and treated Maviah like a queen. Yet she had her own inner strength as well.

One thing I want to note about the characters which I loved: they were ethnically diverse and correct. As in Yeshua was Jewish, the characters were Arabian and Palenstinian, and one was even (gasp!) black! Having Biblical type characters who aren't WHITE? WHAT IS THIS MADNESS????

The Theology

Depending on your religion, denomination, personal beliefs, etc. you'll have your own thoughts about the theology expressed in this novel, which is fine. Personally, I thought Dekker did a great job. What's awesome about him is that he can talk about intense and deep theological issues in the story without being overly preachy. Christians and non-Christians alike can appreciate his novels. It's a wonderful balance very few authors have. I feel as though even Jesus (or Yeshua in this case) would appreciate this since he was a storyteller himself. Dekker even noted which of Yeshua's quotes were from the Bible (a majority of them were) and which elements of the story were simply interpretation. This is a major distinction we need to make when reading books such as this. The interpretations of scripture are simply what Dekker thinks- not Biblical truth.

The characters discuss Yeshua's teachings extensively. They ask questions we still ask today. For example: "He says to turn the other cheek, but what do you do when an injustice has been made? Do we just let them get away with it? That doesn't make sense." They even point our parts of his teachings which at times appear to be hypocritical and teaching against each other. What do you do with that?

Again, we just need to remember this is simply Dekker's own interpretations. He's contributing to an ongoing conversation.

Overall Thoughts

In case you couldn't tell - I loved this book! At first I felt it was a little slow and I wasn't sure were it was going. But as I read it all came together to form a fantastic story. Which is what this was - a fantastic story. Yes, he talks about faith and Yeshua is a major part of the novel. However, Dekker knows how to tell a compelling story while still balancing faith. I cared about the characters, the plot twists and adventures kept me on my toes, and the theology discussions made me think.

I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Look! It's So Pretty!

Oh, hi there! What's up? How's life? We haven't caught up in forever! Tell me about you. What's going on with you.

Oh, me? What's new with me?

Not a whole lot. You know... same old same old.

Unless you count...

MY NEW BLOG DESIGN!!!!!!!!!!!!

Isn't it sooooooo pretty? (If you are reading this through an email or a reader then come visit the actual site so you can see it too!) I can't get enough of it. FOREVER ago my bloggy friend Sarah and I had started talking about her redoing my blog for me and we started to throw around ideas. Then life happened. We both quit our jobs, moved to new states, and started our lives over again. We messaged back and forth a bit still planning and plotting, but we just never got around to the actual redesign. Then a couple of weeks ago Sarah emailed me and was like "LET'S DO THIS!" So we did and I couldn't be happier! It's even different than we had first imagined and SO MUCH BETTER It looks more professional but also uniquely me.

Feel free to poke around, explore, etc. I'll be updating the site as time goes on such as putting new content in the "About Me" page and things like that. So pardon my dust as those details get changed around. But beyond that - the new blog layout is here! If you have any questions on where to find something just let me know!

Thank you SO MUCH Sarah for all of your patience and hard work! If you like what you see, you should check out her design page by clicking here. She not only does blog design, but also makes the cutest prints and cards EVER.

Now, moving onto Music Monday!

Do you know what's awesome about today? (Other than my new design of course.) Taylor Swift's new album just released! It's already on my iPad and it's downloading to my computer as we speak. Or... type.

I'm not going to claim I'm a die hard Taylor Swift fan. I have two of her albums and they rotate in and out of my iPod depending on if I'm in the mood for her music. I'll be honest, I had but drama back in the day and Fearless got me through it.

 I have been SO EXCITED for her new album. I even got some cool points over at the extended care where I work for playing "Shake it Off" on my ukulele. I'm definitely going to be jamming out to 1989 on my way to work this morning.

So... in honor of Miss Swift, here's "Shake it Off!"

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn't Fly

Friends, writing book reviews is hard. In case you haven't heard, there's been a lot of drama with book reviews on blogs and authors and it's a whole big mess. I don't know a whole lot about it, so I can't comment. However, I will say that knowing I had to write a book review this week I wasn't very excited. Especially since it wasn't going to be a very good one.

I seem to have a knack for picking books with truly awesome ideas, or at least intriguing. Then, the actual book itself doesn't live up to the promising premise. It's disappointing and difficult. As a result, I end up reading a book I don't want to read and writing a negative review I don't want to write. 

Needless to say - a career in book reviewing isn't in my future. 

Because of this, I want to back away from reviewing books. I won't completely cut it out, in fact I have one coming up soon that I actually think will be good. Beyond that though, I'm going to cut back. I'll only review books I REALLY want to read. There have been some I've been asked to read, and I'll do a few of those as well. But other than that, I only want to talk about books I enjoy and want to read. Reading shouldn't be a chore- it should be fun. Life is too short to read books you don't like. Right? Right.

This is the latest book I've read for review:

Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn't Fly
PT Jones
CHI Teen
Release Date: October 21, 2014 (TODAY!)

I ended up giving it 2 stars on Goodreads. The idea was cute. A girl discovers a guy who can float and as a result her entire town (particularly the children) begin to float too. Which of course leads to many crazy events. Cute, right? In my opinion, it fell short. Everything was shallow and could have been so much more in depth. 

If you would like to know more about my opinion, feel free to contact me and I can go further into detail.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Gypsy Life

It's not really a secret I love Lady Gaga. It's one of those things where I used to be embarssed about it, but I just can't be. I love Lady Gaga. There are some songs I could take or leave, but there are some songs of hers I just LOVE LOVE LOVE. Whether it's a fun dance song I can jam out to in my car or some of her more personal and powerful songs.

Okay yeah... she has some issues. I won't deny it.

But she posts more photos of her dog on Instagram than I do and you gotta love a girl who loves her dog, right? Right.

I do truly love how she stands for being an individual and letting your inner weirdness (or "monster") shine. Is it just an act or simply the "brand" she's given herself? Maybe. But it's one I can stand behind so I'm okay with it.

Naturally... I wanted to learn a Lady Gaga song on my ukulele. That's pretty much where all of my music inspiration has been coming from lately. I decide I want to learn to play a song and then I basically just live and breath that song until I have it down.

The song I chose was "Gypsy" which I feel like is the best song on "Artpop." It's a love story about people who have wanderlust and leaving everything behind but still wanting someone to love.

What music have you been getting inspiration from lately?

I'm also linking up with Mingle Monday!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

NaNoWriMo Prep: I Have No Plot!

In only 15 days NaNoWriMo will be upon us. Thousands of people around the world will be typing away to create 50,000 word novels by the end of the month. Usually, this is one of my favorite times of the year. I love checking out the forums, brainstorming ideas, and writing in my little notebook all of the plans I have for my upcoming novel.

This year, I'm already stuck. It's only half way through October and I feel like I'm at a dead end. While, I know overall this isn't really a problem. A ton of people go into NaNoWriMo not having planned a single thing. In fact, I love the process of writing and seeing where my story goes and how it changes as I write. However, I like to at least have a rough outline and know generally where I'm going. As of right now, I feel like I don't have a plot. There are a few scenes in my head, but nothing which comes together to create a storyline.

Surely, I can't be the only one in this situation. Other people must be having issues with brainstorming their stories, right? So... Here is advice I give to you... And myself.

1) Find Brainstorming and Writing Buddies

This is always one of my biggest pieces of advice for those doing NaNoWriMo. The beauty of this month is that you have a built in writing community where everyone is in the same boat and know what you're going through. I'm so excited I live in a city because I'll have a lot of opportunities for write ins. (Declare a home region on the NaNoWriMo website and you can go to some in your area!) Or you can go to the forums and get ideas and buddies there.

You can also go to your "real life" friends. I was able to vent some of my frustrations to a close friend over the weekend, and while she's not a writer she helped ease my mind. I them texted a writing friend and we are going to hang out next week to brainstorm story ideas.

Other people are a valuable asset to your writing!

2) Develop Your Characters

Nearly every year during NaNoWriMo I have some sort of plot issue which is solved by developing my characters or switching one detail about them. The dynamics and the chemistry between the characters personalities can help drive your plot. I can't tell you how many times I've been on a long drive in October or November and start having "conversations" with my characters (I know I sound crazy right now) and suddenly new plot points and twists come to my head.

In fact, I wrote up a character development worksheet on Google Docs for you all to help you out. It gets pretty detailed and you can use what sections are most helpful to you, but I know sometimes thinking through those details can really help me flesh out my characters.

3) Get Some Visuals

I've learned to LOVE Pinterest and Google Images for helping me do my novel planning. I don't know about you, but it helps me to have images of people I think would look like my characters, pictures of what I think would be in their apartment or where they live, etc. I have secret boards for my NaNoWriMo novels, and I started a public board for writing tips. You can find it by clicking here.

What other advice would you give people (aka: ME!) when they feel like they are stuck in their novel planning?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Are You My Mummy

I feel as though everyday I get more and more into the "fall" spirit. This weekend there was perfect fall weather with the sun shining but a slight chill in the air, the NaNoWriMo site is officially up and running for this year, and yesterday I spent all day with some friends at Six Flags for Fright Fest. (I only got scared by one of the actors once!)

I can't even remember the last time I've been to Fright Fest. I think it was in high school. It's so much fun though. I love watching all of the actors in costume walking around scaring people and the ridiculous/corny/slightly creepy decorations the park has up everywhere. My favorite costumes I'm pretty sure were the old time soldiers with gas masks It was very Doctor Who. I tried to take a picture to post with #areyoumymummy but they were walking too quickly. :-(

But there is also this amazingly cheesy show called Love at First Fright and it was my favorite part of the day. They sang all of these songs and threw in as many pop culture jokes as possible and it made my heart happy. So, now I have "Time Warp" stuck in my head. Which... isn't too bad. I love "Time Warp" and it's a perfect Halloween type song.