Spotlight #4: A Novel for Sundays

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In Monthly Dares: January 2017, I mentioned that on Sundays I was writing a different novel than Enhanced in order to try to honor the Sabbath more, and today I shall be talking about that novel!

The decision not to write my normal novel on Sundays came…I don’t know, a year or two ago, when I was doing NaNoWriMo. I decided that I wanted to not have to think about it or worry about it on Sundays, and just go to church and spend time with my family. Sometimes, it’s hard not to write when the characters are crowding my head, but I haven’t done it since then.

However, doing the 365k challenge this year posed a problem…if I was to write 1000 words every day, that meant I’d have to write a thousand words on Sunday as well. And so I found this novel that I’d written a prologue and part of a first chapter of beforehand and decided to continue it this year. (See, that way, it doesn’t count as starting a new novel, so I’m not breaking any resolutions.)

It’s a contemporary romance about this independent, stubborn girl (well, adult) named Scarlett, and some of the challenges she has to go through with her faith and life. I’ve read a lot of romances by LDS authors, and while some of them touched on the subject of their faith, I’d never really found one that really showed the progression of faith and how that changed the character–they were all just about the romance.

So this novel was born from me wanting to write something where the main character has to really go through some big spiritual development, with some romance on the side.

Basically the idea is that Scarlett has been running from her life for the past year or two because of a lot of really hard things that all occurred around the same time, and she just felt like she had to get away.

One day, she finds herself back in her home state of Utah, in a little town called Heatherfield, where her old car (lovingly called Miss Must) breaks down in front of a box of zucchini and a house for rent.

A series of “coincidences” occur, and Scarlett finds that everything has fallen in place for her to settle down for a few months in Heatherfield. Throughout her time in the little LDS town, she has to show her resilience and be humbled, to give up her pride and fears and trust in the Lord–and those around her.

It’s about her spiritual journey and how she herself improves, and has to give up things, and try new things, and fix her mistakes, and…I’m really happy about it. I don’t know yet what specific things are going to happen to her, but I love the concept of the novel and that I can include my faith and testimony in it, which is so precious to me.

Since this is a Spotlight, I’m going to include a little excerpt here of one of my favorite parts that I’ve written. It’s by no means polished, but I love its message.



All the way out of Heatherfield, my mind was drawn back to Lane and that old house. It wasn’t that either had been particularly special, but…it was just nice to talk to someone normally again.

Missy started stuttering as I drove past the church. “Don’t you dare break down again, Miss Must.”

Even with me threatening her full name, Missy still shuddered to a halt, just in front of the church where I’d prayed earlier.

I leaned my head against the steering wheel and closed my eyes. “This is it. Next time I can get to a car dealership, I’m going to buy something better than you,” I muttered to Missy.

After I let the threat sink in, I tried the car again. Nothing. I then tried to appease Missy, telling her how much I appreciated her, but nothing worked. What was it Lane had said he’d done? Something about the engine…or maybe the battery? I couldn’t even remember.

I’d learned in primary to pray in situations that seemed hopeless, so I figured it was worth a shot. Heavenly Father, please help Missy to start again so that I can leave. Thank you. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Nothing. Of course it hadn’t worked. It wasn’t like any of my other prayers had ever been answered; why should this one, the smallest of them all, be the one He listened to?

I looked out the window again at the church. On the other side of the street, just an hour ago, I’d sat there and prayed for an answer. I hadn’t seen a vision; I hadn’t heard a voice. I wasn’t even sure if the Spirit had said anything.

But five minutes later, Missy had broken down just in front of Lane’s house, where he’d shown me a house that should have been on sale but the owners were considering renting. And now, just when I was about to leave Heatherfield, Missy had broken down again.

Heavenly Father…? Maybe I shouldn’t even have to ask you this, but…is this the answer to my prayers? Am I supposed to stay in Heatherfield? Is this where I’m supposed to be?

I hadn’t even said “amen” when I felt something a little indescribable. I hadn’t felt it in a long time, the sense of warmth and complete peace that filled my heart, emptying my mind of all its doubts. The Spirit.

Thank you, I whispered to my Father.

Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

 

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I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject over the past fourteen days of the month. I mentioned in my January Dares post that one of my writing-related goals was to get a lot of different opinions on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing…and also to do some research of my own. Not just to know about it, but so that I could hopefully decide which one I want to do.

I still have several people to ask, and so there may be a part two of this at the end of the month, but today I was thinking about it a lot and looking through different websites and trying to pinpoint what exactly my goal was, and you know what I found out?

Self-publishing isn’t the easy way out.

Okay, yes, you can write a novel and put it on CreateSpace with minimal effort, but making an actual career out of self-publishing? It’s hard. Way hard. When you traditionally publish, the choices are left out of your hands. You don’t have to worry about talking to libraries and bookstores and managing how much your book is priced, and all of that, because the publishing company takes care of it.

But then you lose control, which seems to be the main reason that authors choose self-publishing. That’s why it’s hard–it’s an entrepreneurship, where you deal with the repercussions if your book doesn’t sell out; you have to be the one to make the hard decisions; you have to be the one to revise your book; you have to be the one to do every single little thing.

And that’s the reason traditional publishing is so wonderful, as well. Because all you have to really do is write and revise and have an online presence, and write some more. And if that’s all you want, then that’s great.

I still don’t know which I want to do.

I love the idea of self-publishing and being able to market my own book. I love that I can write what I want, when I want. I love that I reserve all the rights. I love that I’m the one who can be in control.

When I was younger, I created my own massage business around the house (mainly geared toward my dad and mom), which led to my older brother also creating his own, competing massage business, which I responded to with a ferocious increase in marketing.

I liked getting paid, but, more than that, I loved convincing people to buy from me. I loved creating little massage cards that I could print out and cut out in nice little stacks. I loved making posters exclaiming about me giving the massaged person an M&M or a skittle for every minute they were massaged. I loved marking down star ratings of my massages (though I can’t say I reacted well to the not-so-good ones) and calculating the overall rating of my business. I loved creating specials where people could buy certain things from me and get something else free. I even created a newsletter partnered with my brother’s business, with my dad as the editor, to inform my parents of important massaging information.

All this points to me choosing self-publishing, and I admit that today, looking through all of the options that were open to me, the same sort of excited feeling washed over me…but I’m also terrified.

I’m terrified of having to do things I’ve never done before, and, yeah, you still have to do that with traditional publishing, but I’m terrified of the idea of having to do it on my own.

I love to improve myself, but there are times when I feel so alone trying to do it on my own, and I desperately want someone there to help me, to give me advice, and to carry me through those hard times.

That’s why traditional publishing is so tempting. It’s so safe, so easy, but it’s also stagnant to me. I want to query so I can be rejected, I want to query so I can be accepted and know that my writing really is good enough, but I don’t know if I actually want to be traditionally published.

The choice is obvious; I know it is. I know you can see it–if self-publishing is going to be hard but rewarding for me, then that’s the road to take, isn’t it? I can see it, too, but that doesn’t mean I’m not afraid. Even though I know I have years and years ahead of me, and that I can change my mind, and that I could even do both if I wanted to, something seems so final about saying that I’ve decided to self-publish.

Gah. I need to stop doubting myself, but I’ll wait until the end of the month–part two of this, probably. Until then…if you have any opinions/advice/good places to learn about either type of publishing, please comment below and let me know!

Monthly Dares: January 2017

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You know what’s really funny? It’s January 2017, not January 2016! Haha, I guess this new year is just going to take a little while to get used to…

It’s time to begin the Monthly Dares inspired by Kellyn Roth @ Reveries! I introduced them in my last post, Review of 2016, Plans for 2017. The idea is that you dare yourself to do several things throughout the month and in the next month’s dare post, you check up on them, then introduce dares for that month!

My little twist on it is that most of my dares for the month are going to be helping me to work on my 2017 resolutions. That way, I’ll be able to accomplish them and not forget about them.

Yesterday, my dad, my brother, and I all started using this website/app called Habitica, where doing good habits and tasks in real life earns you in-game experience points, equipment, gold, and so forth, and bad habits make your avatar lose health. We’ll see how it goes and if it works out for us! I think it sounds like fun.

Anyway, let’s get on with the Monthly Dares for January 2017!

*NYR stands for New Year’s Resolution

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1. (NYR) Read my scriptures every morning & pray morning and night.

2. (NYR) Write in my journal at least 6 out of 7 days a week, which equates to 27 days in January; I can miss only four.

3. (NYR) Research different college majors I’m interested in, and research at least one in-state college.

4. Study at least 2 hours (30 min a week) for the pre-college test.

5. (NYR) Get my driver’s license!

6. (NYR) Catch up on my online class, which probably means doing 1 assignment every school day.

7. (NYR) Do at least 1 hour of service once a week, and try to do one small act of service every day.

8. Earn some money by doing at least 12 hours of work for my dad over the month (3 hours a week).

9. Floss every night. I don’t have a problem with brushing my teeth, but flossing them can be really hard sometimes…

10. Sing at least 4x every week to practice for my weekly voice lessons.

11. Do at least 2 hours (30 minutes a week) of Personal Progress.

12. Go to bed before 10 p.m. at least 15 times this month.

13. Do at least 2 hours (30 minutes a week) of Spanish practice with Duolingo.

14. Hand write a letter and mail it to someone

15. Try updating Habitica every day and see if it helps me to keep this goals.

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1. (NYR) Read 5 books this month.

2. (NYR) Write reviews for the said 5 books on Goodreads.

3. At least one has to be one that I’ve started but not yet finished.

4. Make a Goodreads goal of 60 books for this year.

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1. (NYR) Write at least 6 blog posts this month. (Wahoo, 1/6 of the way there!)

2. (NYR) Keep the sidebar updated, especially the word count for Enhanced.

3. Create the page for the Zel novel.

4. Make pretty graphics for at least 3 of the posts. (Again, yay, 1/3 of the way there!)

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1. (NYR) Write 31,000 words this month (1k every day) and keep track on it on the 365K spreadsheet. (I wrote 1,653 words yesterday, so currently I’m ahead!)

2. (NYR) Write 30,000 words in Enhanced. This means I should end up writing more than 31,000 words this month, since I’m not going to be writing it on Sundays. (On Sundays, I’m working on a novel that will hopefully bring me closer to God and Christ…I may introduce that more fully for a Spotlight this month.)

3. (NYR) Write a short story or flash fiction. I have absolutely no ideas (unless I’m finishing a different, really long short story I started), so that’ll be fun.

4. Write a chapter in TC, a novel that I’m writing with a friend that should no longer be abandoned.

5. Force my friend (a different friend than from #4) to write her part in the CN (a different collaborative novel), so that we can finally finish it.

6. Ask friends & other bloggers about self-publishing vs. traditional publishing to get a better outlook on it.



I triple dog dare you to comment! (Reference, anyone?) What are some of the things you want to accomplish during this January? Are any of them the same as mine? Have you ever heard of/tried Habitica? If so, what are your thoughts on it? Do you still feel like it’s 2016 (apparently, I do!)?

Have a very happy New Year and January, and good luck with your goals & resolutions!

Review of 2016, Plans for 2017

Creative title, I know. I spent a long time on that one…

I know I’m a little early to be writing my end of year/new year’s resolutions post, but I didn’t really have anything else to write except a couple of updates that I’ll mention really quickly before the whole new year’s thingymajig.

Life updates: Christmas was fun! We decided as a family to open our presents on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, so that we could focus on Christ during the actual Christmas day, which was really awesome. We did lots of singing and service. Then on Boxing Day we exchanged gifts; I got the digital drawing tablet that I wanted and a lot of other fun stuff (like llama pajamas that amuse me greatly). So it’s been a good holiday season so far, and I still get a few more days on break!

Writing updates: For Christmas I also got a Brandon Sanderson book (Arcanum Unbounded) and while I was reading it, I just really wanted to write my rewrite of Enhanced. Because that’s the closest I’m getting at the moment to something as awesome as Sanderson’s epic fantasy.

So I may have put Battle Song on the shelf for a little while. I know I shouldn’t, but…I wanted to write Enhanced, and I wasn’t getting anywhere with Battle Song anyway, so…Enhanced it is. I started yesterday and have written about 3.4K more, so I’m at 7Kish. It’s going well; you can see my progress on the right side of the blog.

Okay, I’m done with the updates; that’s all I wanted to say, and now it is time for the old year/new year stuff!


Last year’s post, if you want to read/skim: Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016


Review of 2016

It’s been a good year…well, that could just be me looking at it with rose-colored glasses, I suppose. I feel like I changed and improved a lot socially and as a person, but while my writing is improved, I didn’t really do as much as I could’ve/should’ve. (Which was in part because school is hard and busy a lot, but I also procrastinated quite a bit.)

Since I didn’t make any life goals on my blog last year, I’ll just share some of my accomplishments:

1. I joined marching band (color guard) during this summer/fall! It was a big accomplishment for me because I was trying something new, not to mention something I didn’t always feel good at, since I’m not as good with physical activities as I am with mental ones. But I progressed a lot and made new friends and gained a lot more self-confidence, so it was a big accomplishment for me.

2. I started taking voice lessons this summer, also. For the same reasons as above, it’s been hard but also rewarding. I don’t practice as much as I should…but when I do, I can hear my voice growing better and better! I also had my first voice recital and did very good considering getting up and singing solo in front of people terrifies me. It’s also helped with my self-confidence.

3. I definitely improved on my scripture study–I’ve started reading every morning and I also have a journal to take notes in with my scripture study and while at church, which is awesome.

4. I went on a date. Okay, that shouldn’t be such an accomplishment to go on one single date, but I hardly talk to guys and so I was proud of myself for asking a guy out on a date and having a fun (though slightly awkward at times) time with it. It was a good experience.

That’s all I really have to say/I can think of. So yay! Life accomplishments were definitely awesome this year. Writing accomplishments, on the other hand….not so awesome.

From last year, I made several goals:

  1. Write/finish my Zel novel.
  2. Revise Enhanced (which was at that point nicknamed KT).
  3. Write Cryonic, the sequel to Enhanced (I called it KT 2 in that post).
  4. Do NaNoWriMo again.
  5. Finish novels–I even mentioned it was a priority.

And here are the results of these goals:

1. Write/finish Zel novel.

Ahah. Well. I did write it. Some of it. Approximately 34, 515 words of it. Okay, I’m downplaying this quite a bit because I feel bad that I didn’t finish it this year, but I am proud of what I have of this novel. I really love the setup of this story (Rapunzel as a foreign criminal + awesome magic quest) and my first chapter is great. (Hmm, maybe I should post that as my next Spotlight, even though it has nothing to do with what I’m writing right now.)

So I made progress, but I didn’t quite complete the goal. (Which is the case with most of these.)

2. Revise Enhanced.

Well…no. Not really. At the time I made this goal, I’d only just finished, and I didn’t really know what it entailed. I think I did close to, if not a total of 40 hours working on developing the characters, setting, and plot in order to rewrite it, but I only have about 8.5k written. I love the story, though, and I’m making progress on it now.

3. Write Cryonic, the sequel to Enhanced.

Sort of. I wrote 40K worth of the sequel during Camp NaNo, but then my planning for Enhanced’s revision took over and I wasn’t ever prepared to write it at all. I hadn’t planned out anything when I wrote it, so there wasn’t much of a way to finish it, without first rewriting Enhanced, which didn’t happen, as said before. So nope, not really.

4. Do NaNoWriMo again.

I did do it, but I lost everything. Well…not everything. I won April Camp NaNo writing Cryonic, with just over 40k/40k. But July Camp NaNo, when I was trying to do 40 hours of prep for Enhanced, I only ended with 24 hours/40. (I did finish up those hours afterward, though.) And then November, the official NaNoWriMo, I procrastinated from Battle Song a ton, and ended up with 37.5k/40k. So, I did do NaNo, I just lost more than I ever have.

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Stats for the preparation of Enhanced.

5. Finish novels.

Nope. While in 2015 I finished two novels, this year I finished nothing, which is one of the biggest reasons my writing goals feel unsatisfactory to me this year. I wrote a lot. I prepared a lot, both for Zel and Enhanced and even Battle Song, but not one of those novels (or even my previous ones) did I finish. So while I am proud of what I did accomplish, I’m a little bit frustrated, and I’m going to try to do better in 2017.


Phew. This post is already past 1000 words long and we’ve only just finished with 2016’s review. Prepare for more rambling. Maybe take a hot chocolate break, or rest your eyes with a short nap before continuing.

But…I’m not really sorry. This post was long last year; I have reason to expect it’ll be even longer this year, especially with the inclusion of life goals and not just writing ones. Plus, I’m rambling more than I was last year, even in this middle part. (But there are pictures in this next part, so that makes things better, right?)

Right ho, then, let’s move on to 2017.


Plans for 2017

I want 2017 to be better than this year–way better. Which means I have quite a few goals to share, though more writing ones than life ones. I want to try to keep them better, too…I think I may put my goals on the sidebar of my blog so I don’t forget about them, and maybe show my progress on them somehow…

One of my friends, Kellyn Roth @ Reveries has been doing posts with monthly “Dares,” which is essentially daring yourself to do something each month and following through with it the next. (Basically, a lot like this post, only monthly…because I know how much you all love to read extremely long posts.) Here’s an example of one of her Dare posts! Anyway, I think this would be really fun to start doing and help me to segment my goals into smaller pieces that will help me keep on track. So look forward to those!

Anyway…the actual resolutions/goals!

Life Goals:

1. Continue reading my scriptures every day, and pray every morning and night.

2. Write in my journal at least 6 out of 7 days every week (85% of the time).

3. Start researching colleges and apply for college at the end of 2017.

4. Get my driver’s license and finish my online class (this should be done by February, though).

5. Do an act of service at least once a week.

6. Get a job. I don’t want one…but I need one and it’ll be a good experience for me.

Reading Goals:

1. Read at least 5 books a month and post reviews on them on Goodreads (so a goal of reading 60 books…though I might change that to 75). And…that’s about all.

Blogging Goals:

1. Blog at least 6 times a month (at least 72 posts throughout the year).

2. Keep the sidebar of my blog updated.

Writing Goals:

1. Complete the 365K challenge. In 2015, this was one of the things that really helped me write a lot and integrate writing in my life–the idea is to write 1,000 words every single day for an entire year. I didn’t do that this year because I was going to be doing so much planning, but this year I’ve done a few more things to help me.

Firstly, I’ve decided that planning/developing/researching/etc. for an hour can count as a thousand words. Secondly, I’ve create a color-coordinated spreadsheet that will calculate how many words I’ve written total by only putting in the number of words I wrote that day, which will help me easily keep track of what I’ve done.

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Here’s a little screenshot of part of the spreadsheet.

2. Finish 3 novels, one of which has to be EnhancedThis was one of the things that most frustrated me about last year’s writing: no novels finished. So next year, I’m going to finish three novels, one of which is the rewrite of Enhanced.

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The other two novels, I don’t care what they are, as long as I finish them, but I do have several novels I’ve started that range from 20K to 55k already written, and it would be very simple to complete a couple of them. Specifically, I’d like to finish Riven and Zel, maybe even Battle Song, but if those aren’t the ones I finish, that’s fine. I just need to finish at least two other novels besides Enhanced.

3. Start a maximum of 2 novels. That’s right; I’m only going to start 2 novels this year because I’m going to be focusing on finishing the others. One of these is going to be in November NaNoWriMo, because I always start a new novel for that, which means until November, I can only start one novel. (Writing down ideas/first scenes doesn’t count.) I’m thinking about starting an MG novel about dragons for my little brother, but maybe not. I want to keep my options open at the moment. Although, if I start that one in the next two days, I wouldn’t be starting in 2017 and so it wouldn’t count…heheheh.

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Doodles of the people in the dragon MG novel, though the guy in the middle is definitely inaccurate. I just need to figure out how his personality is and then I can actually draw him. But Mikael and Asta are spot-on.

4. Write a short story/flash fiction every month. This one is less important to me than my novelling goals, but I do know that I need to improve on writing shorter pieces than novels, and it would be really cool to submit one of them to a magazine or contest so that I could get that experience of writing, revising, and submitting on a much smaller level than with novels.

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5. These aren’t necessarily goals, but I do have a couple of things that I’d love to get done writing-wise, though they may not happen:

  • Find beta-readers after rewriting Enhanced. After I finish the rewrite, I want some feedback from people on the overall story and the big things that I need to revise.
  • Get a short little thing published where people will read it just because…like I said, I want that experience, and I also think it’d be really awesome.
  • Plan out and really develop Cryonic so that I’ll be able to write it soon sometime.
  • Research more about publishing options, both traditionally and self-publishing.

Happy New Year, everyone! How has it been for all of you? What are you planning on doing next year? Comment with some of your achievements/goals or link to your new year’s posts! Also, if you have any ideas on how to keep myself motivated, please tell me! What do you want to hear updates on? What novels should I work on in 2017? Etc. Thanks for reading!

Happy 1st Birthday!

You know, I always thought that when I’d had my first blogversary I’d do something really awesome, like have a book giveaway or…or I don’t know, something cool. But by now, you can probably guess that I have nothing planned. Not even cake. Unless it’s virtual blog birthday cake. In which case I have a multitude of it. Enjoy.

So if you have any ideas, please tell me what I could do to celebrate The Music of Words‘s birthday. Any posts you want me to write? A new series of blog posts? A story or excerpts you want me to post? Something awesome? -shrugs- I’ve got nothing right now.

But yes, exactly one year ago, I decided I wanted a blog and made one. Since then, I’ve written 65 posts, gained 61 followers (including myself, obviously), chatted with 658 visitors for a total of 874 comments, and received a total of 2,111 views. Thanks, everyone!

I find that I don’t have much more to write. I guess all I have to say is happy birthday, blog, and thank you all for reading/following/commenting/etc.!

Finding Happiness in a Jealous World

There is so much talent in this world. So much that, at times, it’s really hard not to feel bad about ourselves or jealous of others. There’s so much comparison in the world, and we want to be the best. Or, sometimes, it’s not even that. Sometimes we just want to be as good as someone else, and we’re not.

As a writer, it’s hard not to be jealous of others; just think of the millions of books that have been published. Apparently, the statistic (from a quick search on Google) is that a million books are published in a year in the U.S. That’s strong competition. The questions start to creep in: will I ever publish a book? Will someone ever read my writing and love it? Everyone is telling me that I’m a young writer, that I won’t be published for years, and sometimes it is so hard to keep the dedication.

In some ways, it’s even harder to not be jealous of the people close to us. Even writers that I’m close to, that I love and are amazing and I should wish all the best for them, I sometimes feel a twinge of jealousy when they seem to be progressing so much farther or so much faster than I am.

The world is so full of competition and self-pity. We see someone who has practiced art for years paint something and say to ourselves, “I wish I was that talented,” and when someone asks us to draw something, we say, “I can’t.”

Tell me, what has happened when you have told a girl she was pretty? 90% of the time the reaction is “What? No, I’m not. What are you talking about?” I can’t tell whether it’s because they really are confused by the compliment, or if they want the compliment to continue; they want reassurance that they really are beautiful.

You are.

You are beautiful. You are talented. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, especially if it’s yourself.

But maybe the reason the world is like this is because we made it this way. In our jealousy, in our pity, we’ve become self-centered. When others have accomplishments, because of our lack of them, we have no joy in them. In fact, sometimes we even wish that others would not have done such a wonderful thing so that we wouldn’t feel so bad.

That’s not how it’s supposed to be. Just think of how wonderful this would be: whenever someone had a good day, you had a good day, too. Whenever someone accomplished something, you shared in their joy. Whenever you saw someone making a difference, you were happy that the world was a better, brighter place, and you were encouraged, not discouraged. As one of my teachers put it, “Life would be a party all the time.”

Isn’t that what we want life to be like? We want to be happy. But we mistakenly believe that this will come by others praising us for what we do, or from being better than other people.

Happiness doesn’t come from the outside in. It comes from the inside out. Only you have the power to decide whether you are happy or not. When people used to tell me that, I didn’t understand what they meant when I was so sad. But I think I understand now.

It means that when someone accomplishes something, you choose whether to be happy or jealous. It means that when someone is better than you, you choose whether to use them as a model or to covet their position. It means that when someone gives you constructive criticism, you choose whether to honestly receive it or to push it away because you don’t want to change.

It’s hard. I will freely admit that, that right now, in the short-term, making that decision to put others in front of yourself is hard. But happiness is worth it, and it becomes easier every time you make that decision.

I challenge you: make the choice. Say “thank you” when someone compliments you, and pay it forward by complimenting others. Share in the joy of other people’s accomplishments. Smile at people. Serve others. Work hard. You will be happy, and you will find your worth.

There is a quote by Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a leader in my church, that I think describes this perfectly. “We become more substantive as we serve others. Indeed, it’s easier to find ourselves because there’s so much more of us to find.”

Spotlight #3: Yay, Battle Song Excerpts!

Today you shall behold wonders.

You shall behold first-draft, unedited, totally fabulous excerpts from my NaNoWriMo novel.

You shall behold that there was great sarcasm in that last sentence. Although, I will only be including my favorite excerpts, so maybe there will be some fabulous bits in there…we’ll see.

So, quick review if you weren’t around, since I still haven’t made a page for Battle Song yet: Little Mermaid retelling where she trades her beauty instead of her voice, is trying to get an immortal soul, is fabulous at fighting, and there are two adorable princes. Got it?

Great. Let’s get to the excerpts, then! Just be forewarned that they may be random and confusing…



“Have you seen the beauty of the ocean? Have you seen the rippling of the sand and the swaying of the seaweed? Have you seen the fish swimming past you in schools, close enough to touch? Have you seen the light streaming through the water and the bubbling of the currents? Have you seen the deep blue that grows so dark light cannot penetrate? These are sights that no human has ever seen. We come here to experience the beauty for a short time, even if it ends sooner than not.”


She [Alavar] bit her lip. I knew it even though I couldn’t see, because that’s what she did whenever she was worried about something. “There was a battle, and you were gone.”

“I…why did we attack them?”

“We didn’t. They attacked us.”

My heart froze as I thought of the implications. “But there wasn’t a storm.”

“That doesn’t matter anymore. Now all that matters is keeping us safe, which means staying together. We needed you there—Tarisah got hurt, badly.”

“Where is she?” I was suddenly frantic. Tarisah, my sister, hurt. I had to find her, had to apologize for not being there, for not protecting her. She was the third youngest, but she’d always been smaller than either I or Kariven. Always the weakest, always the one who needed to be protected, and I hadn’t been there to fight the other mers off.

“That’s not fair,” I said, as I followed Alavar out of the hut and into the blackened ocean. “They’re not supposed to do that. They’re not allowed to.”

She laughed softly, derisively. “You think that matters to them? Now, it doesn’t matter. We’ll have to be on the watch all the time, night and day, on all sides, waiting for attacks from anyone. You think our clan will survive? No. Not us. We lost all power and authority the day Mother died.”


“No, Alavar, you don’t get it. You don’t understand. You think I’m like you–you think I’m like everyone else! I try to be, but it just doesn’t work. I fooled you, but I can never fool myself. I hate fighting. I want to explore. I want to try new things. But you all expect me to be the same and I’m just not!”

She swam back from me slightly, as if my words had physically pushed her away. “What are you talking about?”

“I hate fighting. I never liked it. But I did it because everyone expected me to. I did it because it felt like my only option. And now, my only option is to stay here and be sentry because maybe then someone will trust me again and think I’m a normal mer instead of who I actually am.”

She didn’t say anything, so I kept talking. “You want to know why I spent so much time practicing how to fight? I did it because that’s what Mother and I always fought about. Maybe I thought that learning how to be a warrior would bring her back, but it never worked because she’s just seafoam and I’ll never get to see her again and tell her—” My voice broke suddenly, clogged up so much that I couldn’t speak. “Tell her how sorry I am.”


“She will share her magic with you, but for an exorbitant price, far more than one wants to pay. But she teases it out of you, hiding everything she can with half-truths. She’ll tell you she’s mended her ways, she’ll say that she only wants the best for you, but what she really wants is the best from you. It’s said she’ll steal your tail from you if you’re not paying attention.

“Down in the darkness of the deepness of the ocean she dwells, waiting for any unwary sea creature to come her way, into her grasp. Some are lured in by visionary sights; others choose to bargain. Only those who come knowing what they want manage to leave again at all, but you can never really escape.”


Her [the sea witch’s] voice became soft now, rippling through the water like how the wind caused ridges in the water and the sand. “I know what you want, Amrya, more than you do. I can see into you, to your deepest desire, the reason why you came here. Do you want to know why you are here?”

My heart was already broken; I had no idea why I would have come, so I uttered an emotionless “Yes.”

“You are here because you want to be human. You are here because you have to cling to something and that something is a soul. You want to last longer. Haven’t you thought to yourself that you wanted to be human? When Alavar laughed at that, you wanted to show her that she was wrong. She is, Amrya. There is more beauty up there that you will never see if you stay here your entire life, and all of it will last so much longer. There is no sea up there to decay the houses, nothing to wash away all the life you have known. The human world is so much more permanent than ours, and that is why you want to go.”


After I’d exhausted my spears for the fifth or sixth round, I went to go pick them up. I bent to grab one, and when I stood up, a man was standing there, holding out two of the spears I’d thrown to me. I squinted at him, at the light blond hair, the plain clothing, and then I remembered where I’d seen him before: talking to the prince on the riverbank the day of the fireworks.

“Thank you,” I said, after staring at him for a moment, and took the spears into my arms.

“What’s your name?” he asked, a glint of surprise in his blue eyes…blue just like Alavar’s.

“Amrya,” I replied, picking another spear off the ground, and waited for him to respond with his name, but he never did. Instead he grabbed the last spear, handed it to me, and walked back the thirty-or-so paces to where I had been throwing with me.

“Where did you learn to use a spear like that?” he asked.

I wasn’t sure how to answer. The way he asked it implied that this wasn’t how he normally saw spears being used…either that, or he thought it was impressive and also rare. Either way, saying anything specific might give something odd away. “My mother taught me.”

He looked at me even more oddly than before. “Your mother? So do all the women in your family do it?”

I nodded. “I have five older sisters.”

He looked at me in surprise again, and I wondered if he would ever look at me normally. “And they all can throw spears like that?”

I shrugged. “More or less.”


“What are your plans, then, for your future?” he [the king] pressed.

Before I had time to even think about answering, Aeren put his glass down on the table, a little harder than necessary. “Amrya has just been in a shipwreck that took the lives of her loved ones. Do you expect her to have an immediate plan for her future? She’ll figure everything out, I’m sure, but she needs time, not more stress than she already has.”

“Calm down, Aeren,” said the queen. “We’ll talk about this after dinner.”

Aeren still looked angry with his parents, but his spine, which had stiffened during his outburst, relaxed slightly.


I judged the situation cautiously. I was supposed to be nice to him [Rhys], to try to get him to fall in love with me, but I couldn’t help be a little bit annoyed with him. “You enjoyed that, didn’t you?”

“What?”

“Playing with them. Lying to them.”

He raised an eyebrow and looked at me coolly. “I’m not the one who should be talking about lying.”

I looked away, at the dancing, but I didn’t really focus in on it. “What did you tell Aeren?”

“Why does it matter to you whether he believes you or not? I thought I was the one you were trying to impress. You’re just like all those other girls. You only want the crown prince in order for my money, or worse, to become queen. Or, alternately, you could be a spy from Althair who merely heard about the story of the mysterious girl who saved me from the ship.”

“I’m not a spy, and I’m not like the other girls.” I looked at him levelly and gathered the courage I had. “I told you the truth when I said I was the one who saved you. The only reason I told Aeren differently is because you didn’t believe me, so I knew he wouldn’t.”

Rhys returned the same gaze. “I don’t know whether I should trust you or not.”


We walked in silence for a long moment, both of us looking out at the ocean and the sunset as the light died and drifted into darkness. The palace glowed with faint, yellow light, and we headed toward it. “When are you planning to go back to Althair?” asked Aeren suddenly.

“I do not know yet. I’m not sure. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to go back.” No, I knew that. I was a human now, forever, and there wasn’t a way to go back. Either I would stay a human into the eternities, or I would turn into seafoam as soon as Rhys was married.

“You can stay as long as you need, of course. But my father is already impatient…he wants to know why you’re here. He thinks you’re a spy for Althair. A girl just happens to show up at the brink of war, claiming to be shipwrecked, just happening to be taken in by the royal family…he thinks it’s too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence.” He looked at me and his eyes met mine. “You’re not a spy, are you?”

“No. I’m not a spy.” I might have lied about where I came from, but I was not a spy from Althair. It would have been a simple plan, though, had it been so.

“But if war did break out…you would be an Althairian in Sannave. My father doesn’t think that safe, especially because of your training in the spear.” His voice was unsure, and I could tell in his eyes that he wanted me to confirm.

“My heart lies in the ocean,” I whispered. “I have no desire to fight anyone.”

“I believe you.”


Alavar’s voice was more bitter than I’d expected. “Is it everything you’d imagined? Did you find what you were looking for, away from your family?”

“Not yet,” I said quietly, not wanting to confront her, not when I could still preserve our relationship. I didn’t want to lose her like I had Mother.

“I told you blood was stronger than anything else. You won’t find it. You”—her voice broke—“won’t find it and you’ll die.”

I reached out a hand, as if to hold hers, but she wouldn’t come any closer to shore. “I’m sorry, Alavar,” I said. “I really am.”

“If you were sorry, you wouldn’t have ever gone. You would have stayed with us, and this wouldn’t have happened.” She motioned to the stormy ocean, the clouds above that were threatening rain. “It’s chaos down there, Amrya. I don’t know what’s happening. I escaped here because this was the only place I could think of to go. I don’t know where anyone is or even if everyone is alive. The war began and there was singing, but so much of it. As if all the clans were singing, all of them are fighting now. I don’t know if it’ll ever die down, but I can’t find anyone.”

“Alavar…” I whispered, too shocked to say anything else. My breath was caught in my throat. It was hard to think, hard to think about what it was like down there in the darkness. “No.”

“You would’ve been able to fight them off. You would have saved us, at least kept us together. You could have made everything all right, but you weren’t there.” Her tone was as biting as the rain that had just started, splattering against me in tiny drops that stung against my skin. I was already wet, so I bent down and knelt in the water, where I could reach out and just touch the tips of Alavar’s fingers when she reached out her hand.

“I’m so sorry,” I said, and tears rolled down my cheeks just as the rain did. “I don’t know what to do.”

“There’s nothing you can do. You just stay there and try to get your prince to fall in love with you so that you can stay human forever. I…I don’t even know why I came.”

“Because you miss me?” It was more a question than a statement, one that I needed confirmation to.

I thought I saw tears in her eyes. “Because I miss you.”



Can you see why I love this novel so much? Okay, maybe you can’t. I mean, I didn’t even include any of the shippy parts with Aeren and Amrya and the fruit. (Which is great.) But even though I can’t say that all of it is that well-written (these are the best I could find), I love my characters and my plot so much, and maybe in this Spotlight you got to see a tiny piece of that.

7 Lessons I Learned from Losing NaNoWriMo

HELLO ALL OF YOU! 😀 I know I’ve been gone for a long time, and I’ve hardly posted, but I really do want to get back into blogging at least once a week, if not twice a week like I used to do before.

So this November I participated in NaNoWriMo (as I’m sure many of you did also), writing my novel, Battle Song, and I didn’t win. My goal was 50,000, and I only got 37,509 words, which I’m still pretty proud of. But despite that, I think I learned the most from this NaNoWriMo, the one I’ve lost, than from any of the others, so I’m going to share some of those lessons with you (along with some pictures I took, since I was in the mood for photography)!

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Lesson #1: Manage Your Time

This is probably the most important lesson for winning NaNoWriMo in general. If you can stay on track and write the specific 1667 words a day, then you’ll win! Obviously, I didn’t do this. Not only was I busy some of the days, but the other days I procrastinated instead of writing and my time slipped away from me.

The NaNoWriMo goal for 50,000 words is created for a person who actually has a normal life, and there really was enough time for me to be able to do it…I just didn’t. So, yet another reminder that I need to figure out how to spend my time wisely. 🙂


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Lesson #2: Get Enough Sleep

First of all, let’s just admire my adorable little stuffed puppy! Isn’t she so cute?

This was a problem I had, and still have, whether or not it’s NaNoWriMo. Around 9 p.m., I lose motivation to do anything, be it writing or homework or even taking a shower. I would force myself to stay awake, telling myself I needed to write, but I learned that if I waited, I got nothing done, and not only that, I was even more tired the next day.

The biggest lesson I learned from this was really just to go to bed and do better tomorrow instead of stressing about doing it tonight.


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Lesson #3: Love Your Characters

It was about halfway through November, and I decided that I needed to figure out what was going on in my novel, because I’d written less than 10,000 words. Since the walls in my room are mostly full, I decided that I would tape papers and stuff about my characters and plot on my window, just for fun.

I started off by describing my main character, Amrya il Osamarii, and the things she learns by the end of the book. As I elaborated more on the scenes that caused this, I found that I loved her even more than I ever had before. She is so amazing.

After that, I worked on my two adorable princes and how each one of them affected her. (Also, I finally gave them names, hehe. The older one is named Rhys and the younger one is named Aeren.) I also had the cutest dream about Aeren and Amrya and how truly Aeren loved her and wanted to make her happy, and so after that I was sort of fangirling over my characters and it made it so much easier to write the story.


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Lesson #4: Love Your Story

After developing my characters, this step sort of fell into place. I loved my story because of my characters, and I loved my characters because of their story. I think this is such an important thing to remember during NaNoWriMo, to love your story, because if you don’t, nothing is going to happen.

But when you love your story, when you create characters you squee over, when you write in fairy tales and wars and adorable princes because that’s what you love to write about, that’s when the words start coming, and that’s when your story becomes so much better because of the love you’ve put into it.


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Lesson #5: Have Fun with It

This lesson is so important during NaNoWriMo! If you don’t have fun and have a positive attitude, then you’re not going to enjoy the entire month of November, stressing instead of writing. Instead, you have to find ways to have fun. Maybe for you, that means adding inside jokes into your writing or creating characters who make really great jokes. For me, this month, the fun things I did were to tape things on my window and do all of my story development in a rainbow array of Sharpies, not to mention writing scenes that were enjoyable and amusing to me.


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Lesson #6: Be Messy

It can be really hard to let yourself be messy. It was hard for me. I’d been working on revising and planning instead of drafting before NaNo started, so when it did, I was still in the mindset that everything I wrote had to be good. Writing became stressful, and it was really hard, especially when I didn’t know what was coming next.

It wasn’t until I finally allowed myself to be messy, that I told myself it truly didn’t matter  if this draft was terrible, that I began to write as fast as I had during previous NaNos, and even beat some of my own records for writing speed.

Being messy lets you have freedom. Instead of trying to constrict yourself to only writing things well, you can let yourself go…and that’s really when the creative juices start to flow. Sometimes the messiest passages are where you find glimpses of the best writing you’ve ever done.


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Lesson #7: Challenge Yourself

Let’s be honest, NaNoWriMo is a challenge, one that sometimes seems impossible. And setting yourself to an impossible, or even a possible, standard is scary. It’s frightening to think that you might not make it, but you know what? When you challenge yourself, you will write more than you can possibly imagine.

I had two days left of NaNoWriMo and 25,000 words left to write. I doubted I would win, but I kept going anyway. I gave myself as much time to write as I could, and by the end of NaNoWriMo, I kept typing away, ending up with 37,500 words, almost 13K more than I would have written had I given up two days away from the end.

So, I learned to challenge myself, to reach for the moon and land among the stars.


Tell me, if you did NaNoWriMo, how did it go? What did you write about? What lessons have you learned from doing NaNo or just from writing in general? And, lastly, what’s been going on in all your lives? It’s feels like ages since I’ve talked to any of you and I want to know how everyone is doing!

God for President?

This is a fabulous post by my friend Kellyn Roth that I think should be reblogged all over the blogosphere. However you feel about the results of the election, and whether or not you believe in God, the thing we need right now is love among ourselves instead of contention. That’s what will see us through no matter what happens in the future.

Send the light

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Today millions of American have to choose between two presidential candidates.

One is Delilah in her trickiest form.

The other is a bull-headed Samson.

That’s a hard choice, and I won’t even try to tell you which one is better. This is one of the most debated elections in the history of the USA, and I think I’ll stay out of it, especially since I can’t vote. 😛

Secular audiences seem to be of the opinion that if Clinton or Trump (whomever is their favorite) is chosen, America is going to become ‘great’ again. Because man is going up, up,up! (Ha!)

But that leads to the supposition that America was once great before.

Let’s think. When was America great? Most would say it was pretty good when the US first started up, back in the late 1700s. They might say it was greatest in the 1940s, the 1910s, or some point…

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Mermaid Clans, Fairy Tales, War, and Adorable Princes (a.k.a. my NaNoWriMo Novel)

It has clearly been too long since I last posted, but I have been busy. (And also procrastinating, but let’s just focus on the busy here, hehe.) Anyhow, I’m back today to ramble for a little while for the novel I’ll be writing for National Novel Writing Month this November!

If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is who are you child, it’s where you try to write a novel in a month. Obviously. If you want more info, head on over to http://nanowrimo.org/

Butttt my novel! Let’s talk about that. It’s called….drumroll please…Battle Song. And I’m sure you’re wondering what it’s about, and, to be honest, most of it’s in the title.

I actually did talk about it a bit in this post, which also had this picture I drew:

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Of course, at that point I didn’t know I’d be writing it for NaNoWriMo, and it’s more developed now, so I’ll just give you a quick summary right now. Basically, the idea is a retelling of The Little Mermaid where the mermaid loses her beauty rather than her voice, and also where the mermaids are a warrior society.

This idea has been developed more and I just want to ramble a little bit more about the stuff I’m really excited about, mentioned in the title.

Mermaid Warrior Clans

I am so happy about this. The MC is named Amrya il Osamarii, from the Osamarii clan. Basically there’s these huge family clans/tribes and they all war among themselves because…well, because I can’t resist having fighting or war in my stories. I just can’t. I’m pretty sure that there may also be something with some of the tail scales being valuable or increasing your position in society…but yes, they’re all warriors, including Amrya.

The reason I love this besides the whole warrior thing is that we get lots of new culture with a clan thing rather than a typical nuclear family, and there’s also going to be a strong theme of family. Amrya has five older sisters (or maybe only four, I can’t remember…), and one of the main points in the story is about her mother who died a while ago.

Her mother’s death is especially important because in the original Little Mermaid story by Hans Christian Andersen, the whole reason (besides love) the mermaid becomes a human is in order to have an immortal soul (which, of course, Disney took out) rather than turning into sea foam. So the whole sea foam/immortal soul/life after death is going to come into play in the novel, which I’m really excited for.

Fractured Fairy Tales

Okay, I just love fractured fairy tales and retellings and all that fabulous stuff. I’m just going to fangirl over those until the end of my days. I adore Ella Enchanted and also there’s some great ones by Jessica Day George that I read recently, and if you have any recommendations of adorable and awesome fairy tale retellings, please tell me.

I think it’s so interesting to see how many different twists you can take on one story, and I especially love the twist I’m going to be using. It’s going to be more about falling in love because of what you say and how you act and actual friendship rather than the annoying “love at first sight” stuff. Which’ll be great. And just people who are able to be actually in love and don’t just care about beauty. (I’ll probably talk about this more in the adorable princes section.)

And then I’m so excited to be writing a fractured fairy tale just because I get to include all of these extra little tidbits from the original story. Like, the palace is a yellow-ish color, and there’s a river thing that runs under the prince’s balcony where the mermaid watches him which, you know, isn’t creepy at all, and the girls who find the prince after the little mermaid has rescued him are actually part of a convent. There’s all sorts of cool reference things that help develop the culture, and I’m very excited.

War

I told you before, I can’t resist including a war in my novels. And just because continuous battles between the mermaids isn’t enough, the humans are also in a war. Is it bad that I’m already fangirling over this? And this is made so much better because the prince that Amrya is trying to get to marry her is also trying to deal with a war and generally just annoyed with her because of that. But since Amrya has grown up learning how to fight (and more than that, underwater, where it’s so much harder because of the water resistance), she gets to show off her sweet skills and totally be better than him. It’s wonderful.

Adorable Princes (who I just want to hug because they’re great)

This is possibly one of the things I’m most excited for. I always fall for romances with princes. (Ella Enchanted again.) They’re just my favorite, especially when the princes are so cute and sweet and just the perfect gentlemen.

And there are two fabulous princes in Battle Song. I can’t wait. I haven’t really developed their characters yet, not like I have with Amrya, but I know the basic idea about them. There’s the older brother (and the fact that they’re brothers makes this even better because siblings are fantastic), and he’s the crown prince. He’s a little arrogant and rude but I still love him so much because arrogant princes are so dramatic and fabulous. He also happens to be the one Amrya saves from drowning and also makes the deal with the sea witch to marry, but no way does he want to marry her.

But, there’s also the younger prince who is so squee-worthy because he’s one of the perfect gentlemen kind of guys. And he becomes Amrya’s friend and they’re adorable and sort of fall in love, all while Amrya’s trying to get the other prince to marry her before he marries anyone else. Which creates this love triangle-ish sort of thing, but it doesn’t really count because we all know who she’s supposed to end up with.

I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, but there’s this one scene that just makes me die a little inside when I think about it because of its cuteness. Basically, there’s that whole thing where, because the little mermaid’s deal with the sea witch, every step feels like stepping on knives, right? And, in the original fairy tale, there’s this scene where the little mermaid is hiking with the prince and her feet start bleeding. And so I decided that Amrya’s feet get worse as time goes on from walking on them, and they eventually start bleeding. She tries to hide it from everyone, but eventually the younger prince finds out–and basically adorableness ensues because he’s worried about her and gahhh the damsel in distress and valiant knight thing always get to me.

And the best part about the younger prince is that he loves Amrya even though the sea witch took away her beauty, because he knows who she is inside, and that’s what he loves. Which is exactly the kind of guy I want to marry me.

And one more thing that makes me excited and also a little nervous: I haven’t yet decided whether or not it will end happily. I mean, you look at any other fairy tale retelling, you start the book, and you know it’s going to end happily. But with The Little Mermaid, the original doesn’t end happily. And so you actually have a chance of a sad ending where things don’t work out, and the girl doesn’t get the guy, and it’s not happily ever after.

Which I both hate and love at the same time. I hate it because I want Amrya to have a happy ending and I love ships that work out and fall in love, and that’s how I feel it should be. But that’s also why I love the idea of a sad ending: it’s not supposed to end that way, and you know it. But, that’s how life is sometimes. There’s tragedies and pains and there’s all that feeling and that’s the part of me that wants it to end with the prince marrying someone else and Amrya turning into sea foam.

I’m undecided right now, and it’s possible I won’t even decide until the very end. I think I’m procrastinating the decision.


Anyhow, that was a very long post, but also very fun! Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this November? What are you writing? I’m so excited for Battle Song (if you couldn’t tell). Tell me what you think. Do you love fairy tales as well? Wars? Adorable princes? What are your favorite fairy tale retellings?