Tuesday, December 6, 2016

So You Didn't Finish NaNo? Join the Club.


  As discouraging as it can be to read through the long list of blog posts concerning writers who finished their novel this past month, I am here amidst a throng of successful, driven people, to rally behind the ones like me who did not complete the Holy Grail of Writerdom. NaNo.

  So you didn't finish NaNo? No worries, neither did I.

  And neither did some others (I know it seems like everyone and their great aunt Barb completed a NaNo novel - and good on them) but seriously, you and I aren't the only ones. Okay?

  And you know what else? We're not the losers of the writing world either.

  (I'm saying this for my own benefit too, just so you know.)

  Did you get any writing done this month? I did, it wasn't much but it was something. More words than I had at the beginning of the month.

  I'm betting you've got more words now than you had November 1st too.

  What were you doing this month instead of NaNo? Yes, some of it was probably a lot of procrastinating (I know I'm guilty as charged) but I bet there were some special, important things too. Special life things. Aren't you glad those happened? Would you trade words on the page for them? I wouldn't.

  Yeah, it sucks that you didn't meet your goals, trust me, I know, but you aren't a writing failure because of it. I promise.

  Personally, I hardly got anything done in my fairy-tale/fantasy novella The Snow Dragon. But I do have a solid first few chapters and I learned a lot about my plot through that. I have a better sense of the story's direction and I'm incredibly excited to take it further.

  So while I can't say as I finished a novel this month, I did write, and that's the important part.

  Plus, a lot of other amazing things happened in the meantime, and I've already written two books this year, I think I'm doing okay.

  I think we're both doing okay. So don't worry, friend. That book will get written. Today, tomorrow or years from now, it will.

  Don't be discouraged.

  Just keep writing.

 

Friday, November 18, 2016

3 Things About Revisions

  (or rather, Slowly Chipping Away Any and All Desire to Become Editor)

  Well guys. How are you? I have to say I am super strung-out, awash with a ton of messy, mixed feelings and so deeply entrenched in a busy schedule that writing has not hardly happened this November. I know, it's NaNo month, yet I manage to fail miserably every time! Sigh.

  To update you on the happenings of the month (since a Monthly Highlights post is being postponed til December-ish I think)...

  - We finally got our proper snowfall and winter is likely here to stay - it was only a month late.
  - I finished the first draft of Faithless right at the end of October for school (super stoked for that).
  - I've been really trying to fix up The Sorceress and the Squid for an editor's eyes, but so far haven't found anyone to take the poor thing off my hands and pick out all the mistakes I keep missing on my 27th read-through (and this is what my post will be about).
  - I got engaged. No biggie.

VERY VERY VERY BIG BIGGIE SEND HELP


  Anyway, I'll tell you guys all about that happening some other time, this is a writing blog and we're here to talk about writing.

  Or editing, more specifically I suppose.

  So my novel, The Sorceress and the Squid (which I shall henceforth abbreviate as TSatS cause my poor fingers) though short was a year(ish) in the making. More because it wasn't meant to be a serious piece of work at the beginning and sort of morphed into that, kind of like all my writing. :P

  It's been through beta-readers and about seven drafts of me now and it's beginning to take a shape that I am super proud of and actually really love. Rereading it and poring over it has been actually a terrific experience. It's so cool to half-forget what you wrote and then come back to it and remember it but have it feel almost like a reader experience - I love that.

  I also think this story is super cute and fun and I really want to share it with people. I also really want to share some of what I've learned/am learning for those out there who are working through the tenth draft of their book. Whether you are getting all happy and excited about nearing the completion or you just want it to end already, I feel you. I've been both places *coughcoughFaithless* and I'm here to say, it definitely is worth it.

  What I'm Learning Through Revisions...

  #1 IT'S NOT THAT SCARY

  Surprise, surprise. It's actually okay. Yeah, jumping into that big, messy first draft is a little daunting but hey, you created that big, messy first draft. You alone have the ability to master it, the duty to pursue it to be the best it can be. Only you can do that. Consider it your own personal quest and just dive straight in. Like Bilbo in The Hobbit, it only took him one night to decide on the adventure that would change his life. Have a dash of courage in you that pushes you just a little farther than you normally go and take the plunge into your manuscript.



  #2 YOU GET MORE QUALITY TIME WITH CHARACTERS

  Consider it a shaping time of sorts. You've got these guys back and you get to work with them; fix their flaws, soften (or sharpen) their edges, be with them through struggles. Of course depending on what the plot calls for. But honestly, this is my favorite part of revisions. I love being able to still spend time with my MC's, Estrella and Jalen, and develop them better. The act of fleshing out their characters more and more is almost therapeutic for me. I guess cause I love them so much. But if you're a writer with a strong connection to your characters, look forward to this! It's awesome.

LOTR gifs ftw

  #3 THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS PERFECT

  This is the most difficult pill to swallow in all of this. As much as I don't like it, no matter how many times I go over this story it will never be flawless. Not even an editor will make it that. But it will be worthwhile. I believe that wholeheartedly. And let's be real guys, perfect things are boring. Nobody wants to be perfect. Leave room for a little bit of mess and don't sweat the small stuff. You've got this. Your novel is going to be great.

  Stop looking at me like that, all this pain and suffering of editing isn't that bad - is it?

tbh i set this up for this gif

Now that I've got you all pumped up about your editing process (which is totally irrelevant to everyone's NaNo process!), what are some of the ways you get through editing? And what are some of your favorite things about it?

(Sorry this is such a short post, again, life has imploded because of the very big biggie mentioned above, keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I try to navigate the road ahead!)  

Saturday, October 29, 2016

When Writing/Life Is Hard

  Guys, this is a quick pop-in post to let y'all know that I am indeed alive and even though life is slowly eating away at my sanity I AM STILL HERE!

  Now, if someone could please invent a machine that creates clones so I can inhabit multiple bodies and actually accomplish things, that'd be great.

  Anyway. This month I've been working away at my third novel, Faithless, as my online writing course has demanded that October be a writing month to finish a novel. So I have buckled down and attempted to command the beast that is this story and bring it towards some sort of closing.

  Well, today I wrote the climax and second-last chapter.

  It sucked.

  I know, not the exciting announcement you pictured, eh? Well, it's true. To be honest the entire story kind of sucks and I am happy to be nearly finished with it more than anything. Not looking forward to editing though.

  There were a few reasons I wanted to write a post today:

  1) To tell you guys that the first draft of Faithless is almost complete.
 
  2) Because I haven't posted anything in a bazillion years.

  3) Because I want to complain.

  Complain about what you ask? A nominal question. I want to complain about everything.

  ***This is the part of the post where you may decide to quietly close your browser and move on with life rather than listen to me rant about mine. I'll give you a sec.***

  Still with me? Wonderful.

  Basically, life is an absolute whirlwind. Lots of good things are happening, but they also all want to happen at once (along with less than good things). I am really struggling to keep up with all I have to do.

  Farmwork.

    School.

       Actual writing.

          Social media for writing (eg, blogging).

             Trying to be an artist.

                Equestrian activities (lessons, riding my horses, paying for my horses).

                   Stressing about money.

                      Trying to spend time with people I care about.

                          Trying to practice photography.

                              Attempting to edit and self-publish.

                                 Wanting to read more books.

                                     Trying to find another job.

  This list could go on but you get the idea I'm sure. Mentally, I'm exhausted trying to keep up with it all. Writing has fallen way low in my priorities (as much as I don't want it to), especially trying to cultivate a writer's platform. I am miserably failing at that and thinking about it is pretty stressful. I want to be good at it, I want to be able to devote all my time to writing as a career. But I simply can't right now. There are too many other things demanding my time and attention and too many other things that I want to devote all my time to as well.

  It's like being pulled in a million different directions and it's kind of terrible.

  Like right now, I have a dozen other things I could and should be doing, but I felt the need to do this because I've been having a terrible time keeping up this blog and it's just...ugh. You feel me? Stressful.

  And unfortunately, I don't have a message to glean or leave you with from all this. I guess it's just something I need to work through.

  Who else out there is feeling overwhelmed by life? How do you deal with it when things are hard and busy? Show me your secrets, please!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

September Highlights

  Yet another month passes and I am resisting the urge to lament on how quickly the year is going by. I will be cruel and remind you though that there are only three months left in the year. Ready to go Christmas shopping yet?



  LIFE IN GENERAL

  It was a pretty busy month with harvest going on as well as farewelling friends and having cousins over all the way from Australia. Never a dull moment this month.

//FAREWELL PARTY. Lost yet another MacKenzie to the wiles of the wide world. One of my very best friends headed off to Bible college in England. She's getting to live in a castle and learn about God and that's so cool. I'm kinda jealous but mostly sad cause she's gone. Le sigh. She'll be back for Christmas though, so I'm excited for that.\\



//STAR WARS BIRTHDAY. My little sister Ava had her ninth birthday party back at the beginning of the month. She opted for a Star Wars theme so we invited some of the homeschool families over and had a fun festivity. Jonathan's younger brother, Josh, took things to the next level with his Mace Windu costume. Complete with a bald head and black painted skin. It was an intense cosplay.
Yes, he shaved his head just for the party.\\



//SPRUCE MEADOWS TRIP. Myself, my sister Blythe, friends MacKenzie and Elise, Jonathan's two sisters, Trina and Kyrianna and his mom all got to go see the Masters event at Spruce Meadows together. I was unfortunately losing my voice that day so singing along to Disney songs on the way there was not working out for me super well. Regardless, we got to see some awesome equine athletes and enjoy a lovely experience on the Spruce Meadows grounds on our girls day out.\\



//AUSTRALIAN COUSINS. Eleven years ago some of my cousins moved away to Australia. We've seen them off and on over the years, and this year some of them came back overseas to visit. We've had quite the time hanging out, adventuring and fooling around together. Including races in the farmyard, fart-noise contests in the basement, listening to Fall Out Boy full blast with the windows down, watching cartoons in the movie theater, lots of good stuff. Cause cousins are awesome.\\



//HIKING. Myself and cousin Morgan got to head out to the mountains with Jonathan's family last weekend. As always, I was not disappointed. It was beautiful out there and we had a really good hike, we even spotted a Grizzly Bear! It was Morgan's first time in the mountains and his first time seeing/holding snow in eleven years. Lots of fun to be had.\\



WRITING THINGS

  Well, most notably I finished my third draft of edits on The Sorceress and the Squid. I'm quite proud of that and now that I believe the plot to be all streamlined and working well I can get down to the grammar. Yay, my favorite. :P I am a step closer to publication though, and I'm certainly excited about that. I've started looking into Kindle Publishing and I've got an illustrator and everything. Super cool stuff.

  On the tenth my friend and I hosted a 10K In A Day writing marathon at our local library. Attendance was low and unfortunately none of us made it to 10K (we didn't give ourselves enough hours) but I did finish two and a half chapters of Faithless, which is excellent. It was the most I'd touched that manuscript all summer.

  Aside from that there was not too much writing to be had due to the events above as well as day-in day-out life. However, courses for my Creative Writing Certificate have begun again and that should propel me back into writing (fingers crossed).

READING THINGS

  I did a little better for reading this month than the summer, which I am happy with. I got two books read in a week but then my streak kind of died. I made it up with a couple of comics instead. XD

 


  The Killing Joke 4.5/5 - Definitely worthwhile, even if it was a very short comic. I borrowed it from Jonathan and was not disappointed. It was quite intense but thoroughly enjoyable if you like insanity and exploring the psyche of deranged killers...but hey, we're all writers here, right? It's practically in our blood to like that. 

  Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Promise: Part One 4/5 - As an ATLA lover I definitely am enjoying getting into the comics series since the TV show left just enough loose ends to keep you wondering. The only thing I wish was that they could make them a lot longer!

  The Girl On The Train 4.5/5 - I really liked it. It was mysterious and completely drew me in from the beginning. I wanted desperately to know how things would turn out. 

  Hacker 3.5/5 - I do enjoy Ted Dekker and I enjoyed this book as well, though it's not my favorite by him. It was quite a mindbending read and I would certainly recommend it. 

  Harley Quinn's Greatest Hits 4/5 - I don't read many comics/graphic novels, though I think I might start doing so, but I really enjoyed this one. It was nice cause it had lots of snippets from various different Harley Quinn stories, so I got to see a wide range of her canon. It was pretty interesting. 

BLOGGING LIFE 

  Not a ton of activity there, but I did make a couple posts this month. I am aiming to post more as time goes on, but here's to hoping. :P

  Current blogger stats...
  3364 pageviews
  8 followers
  48 posts

GOALS

  I am happy because I definitely met my goals from last month. Finally! This is cause for celebration by making new goals, lol.

///FINISH FAITHLESS. With my new classes I am being challenged to write a novel in a month this October, so I am going to attempt this with Faithless. It will need a new draft and I think I'm going to go over and fix it up and flesh it out and see if I can have it finished by month's end. I have my doubts, but since it's a school thing I may have to suck up my laziness!\\\

///FINISH EDITING. I would really like to finalize all my editing for The Sorceress and the Squid and get that all done. It will be nice to have a completed manuscript ready to go to work instead of another messy first draft.\\\

///READ 3 BOOKS. A low bar but I'm hoping to hurdle it. I have a lot of books I've just bought that I'd really like to read, so I shall get those out of the way if I can.\\\


  Tried to keep this one short and sweet - we'll see if that worked out or not! Hope you guys had an amazing September. Are you sad to see summer completely gone now? Or are you a fall person? What were some of your September highlights? Let me know below.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Wisteria Writer Tag

THE WISTERIA WRITER TAG

  This isn't really a writing-related post, it's another personal post - because I seem to be good at those. I was tagged by the stupendous Jonathan Trout of Fishing 4 Ideas to do what is I suppose formally known as the 'Wisteria Writer Tag'. Jonathan has posed a lot of cool questions, and since I've stayed home from church this morning due to being sick and have the house to myself, I figured this was as good an opportunity as any to go ahead and make (start) a new post. 

  So, without further ado...




Rules: 

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you. 
2. Answer the ten questions asked. 
3. Add ten (writing or book related) questions of your own. 
4. Nominate people. 

Here are Jonathan's Ten Questions:


1. Which of your writing projects is your favorite and why?

  That is an extremely difficult question to answer...I think I'd have to say my fantasy series, The War of the Three Crowns, is my favorite. Simply because I've been working on it for so so SO long that the characters are my literal children and it's fantasy and my plot is so involved and complicated that I might never ever finish them (but I'll keep writing anyway - even if it kills me). I've grown and changed so much as a writer and as a person by writing these stories and I love them so much. They are killing me slowly (I've been thinking/plotting/writing/imaging them since the tender age of 11 - so like, nine years ago) but I cannot give them up. They simply don't leave my head, no matter what other projects enter in, they are still there. And I wouldn't have it any other way. 

  The basic synopsis' of the first two books of this series can be found on my About My Writing page if anyone is interested in checking it out. 

2. Can you share some snippets from your favorite project? (and no you cannot say no to this IT IS MANDATORY) 


  Well, if you insist I suppose I can try to find something that might not make your eyes bleed. :P Bear in mind that none of this has been properly edited yet!

  
feat: my angst-ridden, anxiety-filled mc, falaroy and his many insecurities
3. What is your favorite tense (past, present, future) and voice (first, third; I don't think it's actually called that but I'm using that word because it makes sense to me and I can't think of the right one. XD) to write in? 

  For the most part I use third person, past tense. I've done some third person, present tense and some first person past tense and some first person present tense and probably lots else that I'm forgetting. But I like third person and past tense because then I have a lot more freedom with who to use as a narrator. Probably too much freedom. :P

4. When is your favorite time to write?


  I used to have a scheduled writing time in the morning and that was really good, I got quite a bit done. I generally prefer to work in the mornings so I can spend the afternoon outside or off somewhere and the evening/night just being on the internet for fun and not working. 

5. What is the the most unpleasant thing you've put one of your characters through? (random note but this question stems almost entirely from a Camp NaNo April conversation in which we discussed why it's good to be mean to your characters. XP Yup, I still remember it.)


  Um, like, my whole freaking book? *sorry characters, you deserve a nicer person to write your stories than me*

  Haha, I don't know though...I mean, I don't have any super specific instances. My one character, Saagar, (whose story I'm working on now) lost her entire city, country, life and family because her husband/childhood companion was a secret terrorist and blew everything up; leaving her with third degree burning, PTSD and a lot of emotional angst and trauma...so I mean. Can it get much worse than that?

6. Are you a more character-driven writer or a more plot-driven writer? 


  Well, I love a great plot and I like to think I've come up with some good ones. But I do generally construct a more vague or less streamlined plot than I do with characters. I become kind of obsessed with characters and emotion and drama and I definitely feed off of that when writing a lot more than plot. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing... 


7. Are you a plotter or a pantser?


  It kinda depends, but overall I am a plotter. I have way too many things going on in my head and too many story worlds (belonging both to me and others) to not write stuff down and figure it out. I'll go crazy and forget it all when my brain crashes someday if I don't release some of that data onto paper to refer back to when needed.  

8. What is your favorite word processing system to write in and why do you like it? (SCRIVENER FOR THE WIN)


  I've only ever used Microsoft Word and I don't plan on changing that anytime soon.  

9. If you were left on an abandoned island with the last character you wrote about, how would that go for you? (I know it's super original but unfortunately not from me. XD I pulled it off a meme.)


  The last character I wrote about is Saagar and she's kind of flipping useless (sorry, honey) and so am I so we would probably die. But we're both angsty and emotional and over-dramatic so at least it would be interesting.  

10. What is your favorite writing resource? (this could be a blog, website, newsletter, writing book, that one pet who listens to all your writerly ramblings, anything basically XP)


  Good question. I love reading other books I think most of all for inspiration. And also other blogs. Veronica Roth had a really excellent blog back in the day and I've read many many very good ones since getting more into the blogosphere. Twitter is quite an impressive resource too if you know how to use it. I guess in general, the Internet would be my choice. XD


  And here are my ten questions...


1. What about writing a best-seller someday most appeals to you? Or if you aren't interested in that, what motivates you the most in writing?


2. What was your favorite book as a child and why?


3. What is your least favorite part of writing and how do you get yourself through it?


4. Choose your favorite character from your current manuscript. If you could have the chance to do a crossover, which other fictional character from another story who would you choose to have meet them?


5. Which writer's work has most inspired you in your writing journey?


6. If you had to write a historical fiction novel, who/what would you choose as your subject?


7. What is the highest word count you've ever written in a single day?


8. What is your biggest dream as a writer?


9. Who is your favorite blogger to follow?


10. Where do you see yourself (writer-wise) in the next five years?


  I don't really have anyone to nominate for this, so instead I'm going to be a rule-breaker and demand that those who read all the way through this post answer my questions in the comments, so I can get to know you ALL better in a way that is fairly easy for everyone. How does that sound? Good? I thought so.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Emily's Top Writing Tips

  Because you didn't ask and I delivered.



  1. USE OUTLINES. They will keep you on track, they will keep you from getting stuck and not knowing where to go, they will literally save your life. No joke. It makes sense, cause if you don't know what you want to write then you'll either do one of two things:
  a) Write nothing.
  b) Babble incessantly about things that ultimately don't have anything to do with anything in your story because you're just writing to figure it out for yourself. And hey, there's nothing wrong with that, but you can avoid the hassle and give yourself a break by using outlines to keep you on track.

  As a disclaimer: this doesn't *always* work like you think it would. I finished a sixty chapter fantasy novel last year. I had a tremendous fifteen or so page outline with a paragraph of description for each of those sixty chapters. And you know what? My stupid characters decided they were going to play "real person" and decide their own fates. I know, how inconsiderate, right? It was ridiculous and now I have a first draft of over 200,000 words with dozens of characters and plots running absolutely amok, killing each other, starting wars...


  So yeah. Be kind to yourself and use outlines. Even though they probably won't actually save your life, cause your characters are generally hellbent on ruining it - if they're anything like MY characters anyway.

2. DON'T BE A PERFECTIONIST (at least, not at first). If you want to finish a story ever at any point in your existence you've got to put aside that awful, innate desire for it to be perfect right away. Just write the dang thing. Forget about it being The Best and Shiniest Novel Ever™ because it's simply not going to be right now. You've got to face the facts otherwise you'll end up like this...

actual footage of me

3. SHOW - DON'T TELL. When you write, you want to be showing, not telling. That just means leave it up to your audience to understand characters and situations. If you have a character who is a compulsive liar rather than saying or describing that straight up, let the audience figure it out through the narrative. Show how the character lies all the time with the plot, don't just say that he does. Make us believe it! This is a basic rule of description and great for character/plot development as well.

what it looks like to try and make show - don't tell - work

4. SOME CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT KEYS. Show - don't tell//Develop characters through each other, just like people in real life, characters are shaped by other characters and their relationships//Develop characters through struggle and hardship, this is how we develop in reality//Don't put characters in molds, types or stereotypes, round them out. Real people are always very out-of-the-box when you get to know them//Avoid basing characters off yourself - though I like to take aspects of myself that I struggle with or put myself into other situations for inspiration.

your well-developed characters will be proud of you
5. ORIGINAL SMIGINAL. Don't worry about being original, that isn't your goal as a writer. Your goal is to write a story worth reading. And if that's the case then your audience will enjoy it, whether it's completely, totally original or not. 



  And there you have it, Emily's Top Writing Tips. The thing you never knew you needed in your life. You're welcome. 

  Do you guys have any go-to writing tips for fellow writers? What are some things that have really helped you along in your writing journey? Share them below. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Summer Highlight Reel

  *casually shows up to the blog a month later, with Starbucks*

  Just kidding, I dislike Starbucks and its overpriced-ness. I also detest coffee.

  But yes, I have been virtually dead on here for over a month now. But I'm back! You can all cheer and jump up and down in excitement!

  ......

  Or just scroll down and continue reading to hear about my awesome and totally unproductive summer!


  You've probably heard this a million times and had the thought yourself another million, but man, where did summer go? It flew by ridiculously fast, more than ever before and I am sad to see it go. But also not, cause there are many exciting things happening this fall/winter and I can't wait for those. Ah, life is thrilling these days.

  Speaking of which...

  SUMMER LIFE OF CRAZY

//GETTING OLD. The uber-hectic summer started out with...my 19th birthday! Meaning I am now, at the time of writing this, 304 days away from being 20. How terrifying.
I spent my actual birthday on a birthday date with Jonathan. Since our birthdays are three days apart we generally celebrate together. This time we went to the pub *le gasp* and ordered yummy food. I wore a hot red dress and after our food we went to the park and walked and there was rain and thunder and sitting in the car and it was wonderful all around. The next day I had an actual birthday party with some of my friends. We played a few games and then decided to brave the chill of the local lake, even though a thunderstorm was building. The water was numbingly cold and I couldn't feel most of my body by the time we climbed out, but it was really fun. Did you know that cold water sends girls into fits of high-pitched giggling?
After that we headed home and more or less hung out and later fell asleep to Treasure Planet on VHS (yes, I turned nineteen, not nine). All in all a fantastic time.\\


//CAMP. I have no idea how to sum up an entire two months of working out at a wilderness camp. So many different adventures and happenings and challenges, it'd take a whole separate blog post (or two!) But I definitely grew and changed over this summer and I am super thankful for all the experiences I had my fifth year of work. I so enjoy my fellow staff and seeing how we collectively shed the light of Jesus into so many lives. It's pretty amazing. Also, I didn't have another sketchy bee incident on horseback this year. Hooray!\\


//GOODBYES. Worst part of the summer was having to say goodbye to my lifelong friend, Mackenzie, for a year while she goes to serve as a missionary in Cameroon for a year. She won't be back til next July - which sounds like a super long time but it'll surely go by as fast as anything. I am and will be missing her, but I'm also very excited to hear about her adventures and see how she grows and changes over this next year. She's awesome and she'll be a blessing overseas just as much as here I'm sure. My last day with her and my other MacKenzie friend was very sad. Despite our stoic exteriors we all kind of broke down in the end and there were a lot of tears.\\


//RIVER TRIP. I went on my first canoe trip down the North Saskatchewan last month. It was quite a ride. My legs got super cramped sitting up front with the dog for hours, but I really enjoyed it. Even going over the whitewater - I was quite nervous at first. Thankfully the canoe did not flip and we made it safely downriver. I went with Jonathan's family and we had a pretty awesome day.\\


//WEDDING. Two of my friends got married a couple weeks back and I got to be part of the bridal party, which was pretty great. I haven't even been to many weddings, let alone been in one, so I'll cherish that memory. It was out by a mountain lake and the weather was lovely and everything was picturesque and awesome. Jonathan was one of the groomsmen so we got to be coupled up and I rather enjoyed that.
I rode with him on the way back, as we were both supposed to be heading out that night for our last week of camp, but a crazy thunderstorm hit us and stayed with us all the way out of the mountains home and we abandoned plans to go to camp and stayed just at my house for the night. The lightning and hail and rain levels were unbelievable. It was such a cool experience.\\



//BAPTISM and STAFF PARTY. At camp's end we had a baptism for Trina, Jonathan's sister, and a camp staff party. Both of which were excellent. Camp staff parties are always a great time, lots of games and good food and friends to hang out with. It's always a great way to end the summer.\\


//INTENSE HIKING. Jonathan and I went on a double date with another camp couple up a mountain near Banff. It was not an easy climb. I'm not even exaggerating to say that I nearly puked twice and nearly fainted even more. However, as you can tell by the pictures below, the view was very much worth it.\\



  Some other cool life things, I tried trimming horse hooves this summer. So far I've done the equivalent of one horse. Trimming is when you take the horse's foot or hoof and clip their nails basically, but you have to do it so as to help not hinder the growth of the foot and then rasp it off and make it nice. It's a lot of squatting and holding up a horse's leg along with it, so it's a good work out, especially when you're slow and inexperienced like me and it takes a long time so you have to squat for a long time. Leg pain anyone?

  I've also garnered a huge interest in photography over the summer. I've enjoyed the art quite a bit throughout my life, but I got really into the idea of making it a career over the summer. Writing is my favorite activity of course but I do enjoy photos and art a lot and I think it'd be a really fun job...

  In any case, if anyone out there is interested, I have a VSCO page for photography that I've started. If nothing else it'll give you a glimpse into my aesthetic and life for sure. Check it out here if you like!

WRITING THINGS

  Well, in the busyness of six weeks at camp and all those other activities (plus many more unmentioned) above, I did not find much time to write. Like, at all. So much for my summer project story, I guess it'll have to wait til winter this year. Which I suppose is okay, since it's a winter-type story anyway.

  I wrote a little bit of Faithless and I'm currently working through chapter twenty. That story is all over the place and I'm not sure exactly how to gather it up and streamline it to my prepared ending, but I guess I'll figure that out this fall as I get back into it. I've hardly touched it this summer so it might take me a bit to get my muse back.

  The past couple weeks I've finally gotten the opportunity to start working through the beta-reader comments (thanks so much, Abby!) in my novella, The Sorceress and the Squid. I think after a couple more read-throughs and a grammar check or two it might be ready for *squeals* publishing! Super exciting stuff. I'm aiming to self-publish this one through Amazon, since it's not really a serious work of fiction. I have no idea whether anyone will actually be interested in it or not, but who know? I might make a little bit of money off of it. At the very least I'll be able to say I'm a published author, right? 

  So I guess we'll see what fall/winter bring. I know I'll have a full load between working, some college courses, writing, arting, horsing and running around to various hang outs and activities, as usual. But I am looking forward to seeing what kinds of writing goals I'll have accomplished by year's end.

READING THINGS

  The summer was terrible for reading. I know it shouldn't be, but there's definitely no time for reading anything other than your Bible at camp (unless you want to get up at like, five am, ugh) and the rest of the time was me scrambling to get other things done. So yeah, not much reading on my part. I did manage to read one novel however...

A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness. Jonathan bought this when we were out on one of our dates and once he'd read it, recommended it to me. It was an awesome read. Quite short - I devoured it in less than two hours - and hugely thought-provoking. Also very sad. I made the mistake of reading it to the end upstairs in the main room where everyone could see me start crying. The story is about a boy learning to deal with grief. I can't say more without spoiling, but it's very magically written and really gets down to your core. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for something short and simple, but deep and profound.



  Another reading-type thing that I did this summer was make a Goodreads page (jumped onto that bandwagon a little late, I know). I don't have much up there yet but as I'm hoping to read more this fall/winter I should post some of the books I get through. Maybe that will motivate me...
  You can check me out here!

BLOGGING LIFE

  As you might have noticed, I didn't really have one of those this summer. It's hard without internet most of the time. XD I'm hoping to get back into it with a little more vigor though. I've got some ideas for writing-related posts that I hope to spin out over the next few months.

  Current blogger stats...
  3134 pageviews
  8 followers (slowly climbing, thank you so much!)
  44 posts

GOALS

  Some new goals for the upcoming month since I didn't really give myself any for the summer...

  ///THREE CHAPTERS OF FAITHLESS. Keeping it small cause I have a lot of things happening here in September, including my cousins from Australia are coming!! Yayyy!\\\

  ///FINISH TSATS EDITS. If I keep at it I should be able to get through all my comments and the third draft edits fairly easily. We'll see if this happens in the craziness of harvest season and visiting cousins.\\\

  ///MORE READING. Like two books, at least. Doable right? Hehe.\\\

  I'll keep the goals basic and short for now and see what happens once the snow flies I'll probably have a little more time for these things. It's only the first of September though (only - ha! It was like, January yesterday), so I've got a bit of summery-ness left.

  Now that I've finally managed to spew out some kind of messed up blog post, I'd love to hear about your summer. What was one of the biggest highlights for you? Are you looking forward to the new school/work year? Tell me all about it below.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Life is Threefold

  How has everyone's summer been? Mine is not only flying by, but it is incredibly busy and there are so many things rushing around in my head these days, it's crazy. I'm currently working at a Christian summer camp for a week at a time with three day breaks and loving it. It's my fifth year as staff and even in just two camps I am happier and more fulfilled there than ever before. Also: exhausted. But that's a given.

  This won't be a very long post, but I figured I should try to update my blog with something because I'm not going to be very un-busy for a month or so yet. And yeah, it's not really about writing, but I hope that some of the things I share in this large ramble might be an encouragement to those of you reading.

  Something I'm learning this summer is that life is a threefold thing.

  Past. Present. Future.

  And you can't just take one at a time.

  If you only focus on the PAST you are going to be miserable. Trust me, been there done that. Focusing only on all the wonderful people, places and things that you miss will bring a bittersweet sadness that - if left to grow - will turn into something hard, cold and lost. It stops you from appreciating the things going on around you for how they are. It's incredibly painful actually to think only about what has happened and go about missing things you can never return to. There's no hope in that. Focusing on the past only has been my struggle for most of my life and is something I am slowly overcoming. It's one thing to appreciate, enjoy and miss certain memories. It's another to live in a frozen world that has happened and can never happen again.

  I've found that some people live only in the PRESENT. Their focus is so wrapped up in the here and now that they often get into trouble. Whether that stems from forgetting about past mistakes and experiences that should dissuade them from certain actions, or not realizing that what you do now has future consequences. Both of these options can lead to trouble. While living totally in the present and just loving the moment you are in is not wrong and can often be wonderful and euphoric, it can get sketchy when it begins to blind you to the possibilities of harm or danger. It's all about balance.

  Now, living strictly for the FUTURE pleasure or excitement will never get you anywhere either. You can never attain the future, thus, you will never be satisfied. You will always be looking for something, unable to be content with what you have and what you had. Many people make this mistake I think, especially in our day and age now. There's always something better to be had than what is had right now. This can do a lot of damage to a person. Constantly hunting and searching for that one thing that will complete them, but that one thing is always one step ahead, never to be attained. Granted, thinking about the future gives you hope and purpose and something to look forward to, but focusing only on what will come will do nothing for you at all.

  This is why I think life is threefold, and why you have to take them all in balance. I think the center of it all, however, should be the present. That is what we are able to use for good and effect, right now, right where we are. Rather than thinking about things that are too late to turn around or about those things we will do at "some point" we should look at what we have now and do our best with it.

  Here is a fitting excerpt from one of my favorite CS Lewis books, The Screwtape Letters, where he discusses the Past, Present and Future.

****READ THIS BOOK, OKAY?****

"The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present — either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.
Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present. With this in view, we sometimes tempt a human (say a widow or a scholar) to live in the Past. But this is of limited value, for they have some real knowledge of the past and it has a determinate nature and, to that extent, resembles eternity. It is far better to make them live in the Future. Biological necessity makes all their passions point in that direction already, so that thought about the Future inflames hope and fear. Also, it is unknown to them, so that in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities. In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time — for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays. Hence the encouragement we have given to all those schemes of thought such as Creative Evolution, Scientific Humanism, or Communism, which fix men’s affections on the Future, on the very core of temporality. Hence nearly all vices are rooted in the future. Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead. Do not think lust an exception. When the present pleasure arrives, the sin (which alone interests us) is already over. The pleasure is just the part of the process which we regret and would exclude if we could do so without losing the sin; it is the part contributed by the Enemy, and therefore experienced in a Present. The sin, which is our contribution, looked forward.
To be sure, the Enemy wants men to think of the Future too — just so much as is necessary for now planning the acts of justice or charity which will probably be their duty tomorrow. The duty of planning the morrow’s word is today’s duty; though its material is borrowed from the future, the duty, like all duties, is in the Present. This is now straw splitting. He does not want men to give the Future their hearts, to place their treasure in it. We do. His ideal is a man who, having worked all day for the good of posterity (if that is his vocation), washes his mind of the whole subject, commits the issue to Heaven, and returns at once to the patience or gratitude demanded by the moment that is passing over him. But we want a man hag-ridden by the Future — haunted by visions of an imminent heaven or hell upon earth — ready to break the Enemy’s commands in the present if by so doing we make him think he can attain the one or avert the other — dependent for his faith on the success or failure of schemes whose end he will not live to see. We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow’s end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the Present."
  Have you guys been having any philosophical thoughts this summer? Do you think you live in one of these threefold things more than another? I'd love to hear about how you all are doing. Let me know below!

Monday, July 4, 2016

My June Highlights

  Yeah, I know this post is super belated. I was at camp staff training for the past five days and I am not only tired but very very busy for the next couple days and if I manage to get this out it will be a miracle...

  But miracles can happen.

 

  So this month ended up being (predictably) crazy busy and I had hardly a moment's pause. July and August are looking much the same so don't expect much from me in the way of posting over the next two months, life is insane in the summertime, but I look forward to living it to the fullest and telling you guys about it later on.

  Also, I can't believe it's halfway through 2016. Guys, this is not okay. Time is going wayyyy too fast for me.

  LIFE IN GENERAL


//END OF YOUTH GROUP. Well, the end for the year anyways. I am part of an epic youth group consisting of boys and girls from the ages of nineteen to thirteen who would band together and slaughter anyone in handball or dodgeball, any time, any place. We have a great group of God-loving people who also have a brotherly love for each other and a close camraderie that I really love. We have had many awesome (and violent) moments together over the past couple years. I look forward to going back next year and being too old but not giving a crap about it. :P\\

Our last youth picture (not all of us, but most).

//COMIC CON. The biggest city in my area held their first annual Comic and Entertainment Expo this month and it was pretty cool. Very small compared to the major cities in my province but still pretty cool. They had a board gaming table that we spent a good hour playing at. I didn't win. Won't say anymore on that.\\

//2ND ANNUAL PRINCESS PARTY. We had one of these at my house last year but it was actually a secret proposal between my friend's older brother and his girlfriend, that was really cool. This year we did it without proposals. Basically all the giant homeschool families in my area dressed up in medieval garb and came over to our farm and hung out in the decorated lawn, had tea and snacks and some of us older girls went to ride my horse in our princess dresses. It was pretty awesome. 

I couldn't choose one representative picture.

Great ways to desensitize your horse.

//WRAPPED UP RIDING. Since we'll be gone at camp most of the summer, we won't be at our riding lessons very frequently through the next couple months, so we got a good jumping lesson in before July came along. It was lots of fun, even though I was riding a difficult and testy horse.\\

This was Kyrianna, best video we got of the day.

//HOMESCHOOL GRAD. My oldest friend, Kenzie, graduated this spring and we had a great party for her to celebrate not only that achievement but also to send her off as she prepares to go overseas to the Cameroon in Africa for a missions trip this next year. She will be dearly missed, but it was really good to celebrate her and have a huge, fun party full of games and dancing and laughter.\\

Again, couldn't pick just one picture.
//GOING-AWAY PARTY. To go along with the Kenzie theme, us older girls had a surprise party for her as well as some of us took her on a horseback ride on her grandpa's trails. We had supper together and played some games and broke out into song by the end of the night (this group is full of incredible musical and vocal talent). It was a good night.

Us oldest females of the homeschool clan. Many pretty faces.

Some of us at the top of Moose Mountain.

//BELATED GRAD TEA PARTY. So the ladies at my family's church didn't know I graduated last year and felt bad so they put on a grad tea for me and I was allowed to invite some friends and we basically did our own thing. Cause we're cool like that.\\


 //NEW BABY. One of my horsey friends, Janna, and her husband Cragg who used to work for my dad, had their first baby this past week. His name is Blair and he's actually pretty cute (this coming from someone who really doesn't like babies).\\

He's also tiny.

//STAFF TRAINING CAMP. I looked forward to this all June and wasn't disappointed. Our annual staff training camp was just as fun as ever and is making me super excited for the summer. A couple of highlights was when we practiced an "evacuation", got on a school bus, drove to the nearby(ish) town twenty-five minutes away, stopped at the 7-11 for candy and then went to the arena to watch the pre-Canada day fireworks. It was a surprise and pretty neat. Our camp is a wilderness camp and it's so weird to load up and head back into civilization all as a group. The particular town, though nice, has some very strange people (including a man who brought a whole toilet to sit on to watch the light show, no joke). Another highlight was when we were playing baseball and I caught someone's almost homer and got them out and the whole group of staff just made this "ooo..ooooo...OOOOHHH!" noise that was absolutely awesome. XD Anyways, I'll stop bragging. It was a great time.\\

  All in all, June was super cool life-wise and super busy. There's tons more I didn't even cover, but there are some of the highlights.

WRITING THINGS

  As you may have gathered from the chaotic mess of the above section, I didn't get much writing done. I am one chapter away from my goal with Faithless of getting to 20 chapters before summer and I may be able to do it in the next couple days before camp, but unlikely. In any case, that story is starting to take shape and though it will need a lot of editing I am enjoying it and I think it will be pretty cool to read.

  I got all my edits back from the lovely Abigayle Ellison and I am so excited to get a chance to sit down and work my way through them (eventually). Once this summer calms down and the chaos lifts I will be doing that for sure.

  Other than that, I didn't really do much writing this month. I just tried to get as many chapters of Faithless done as possible. I think I got three or four or something like that, which I will decide to be satisfied with for the moment.

READING THINGS

  At the beginning of the month I actually did quite well in this aspect, I read three books all in the first week and nothing since. :P I doubt I will get much read over the summer, but I could try to do one or two maybe...

THE ROAD by CORMAC McCARTHY. I really enjoyed this one, it was written very uniquely and was an emotionally complex read. It really made me think and wonder and put myself in the character's shoes. It's for mature audiences due to darker subject matter, but it is a good story and I recommend it for sure.



   



A GRIEF OBSERVED by CS LEWIS. After reading 'Til We Have Faces' last month I wanted some more CS Lewis in my life, so I picked up this, which is one of only a few of his books I haven't read. It took me about half an hour because it's very short, but it definitely made me think about and question things as well. It is a series of letters/journals that Lewis wrote in the wake of his wife's death and though I have never experienced the death of such a close loved one, that is a big fear I have and I could definitely relate to the things he was saying. It was a hard book, but a good book. Very recommended.




THE BELL JAR by SYLVIA PLATH. I had heard about this author and this book for awhile so I picked it up at Chapters and started it. I found it really interesting and almost relatable in ways that were startling. It is a story about a young woman on the brink of success who falls into a year of mental illness that nearly destroys her and I think that the matter-of-fact, blunt and clear-eyed observations of the main character and how some of them are similar to mine...it was neat but almost creepy, if that makes any sense.





BLOGGING LIFE

I hardly made any posts this month but I gained a couple followers, to my great surprise. I can't imagine next month will be very active at all, but that's alright. When I come back I'm sure to come back inspired.

Current blogger stats...
2547 pageviews
6 followers (so happy about this actually!)
42 posts

Looking forward to what next month brings!

GOALS

I won't be making many goals for the next couple months cause I know I can't meet them, however, I can do a few things, and I will try.

My June Goals

///FINISH FIRST DRAFT OF FAITHLESS. I did not do this but I came close to twenty chapters done and I think the end mark will be something like thirty, so maybe summer will bring those next eleven? Who knows.\\\

///FINISH 3RD DRAFT OF THE SORCERESS AND THE SQUID. This one did not happen but I'm hoping there will be some time for it this summer...hoping. Praying.\\\

///WORK ON SHORT STORY. This didn't happen. I haven't touched that thing for months now. Ugh.\\\

///FINISH OUTLINE FOR SUMMER PROJECT. I did do this though I may not get the chance to actually write it much. We'll have to see.\\\

(This was just me basically saying how I did nothing productive this month. How sad.)

My July Goals

///DO MY CAMP WORK WELL. This sounds easy but it's actually really hard to be happy, enthusiastic, kind, generous, encouraging and smile all the time. We'll see how it goes.\\\

///WRITE TWO CHAPTERS OF FAITHLESS. This *should* be doable. Theoretically. We'll see.\\\

That's all I'm asking for myself this month, it'll be a miracle if that much happens.

  Anyways, it was my 19th birthday yesterday and I am now closing in on being a senior citizen in my twenties. Today I am having my party and I should probably get up and get ready for that...hehe. But hey! I managed the miraculous! My June Highlights post is now up. You're welcome.

  How was your June? What sort of cool things happened to you? Tell me about them!