Should Books Be Made Into Movies?

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I’ve been wanting to do a discussion post where I can hear your thoughts. So, after watching the third Hobbit movie yesterday, I wanted to ask you the big question: should books be made into movies? And what are the pros and cons of doing so?

I think every author, at least once, dreams of seeing their novel on the silver screen. And yet, readers are almost always unsatisfied with the job that the movie producers do.

So, should books be made into movies?

Ultimately, I want to hear your thoughts & your ideas, but I’m going to share some of the pros and cons of movie adaptations. Tell me if you agree or disagree with them!


PROS OF A MOVIE ADAPTATION

  • It brings more people to the book and gives the author a greater reading community.
  • It shares a good story with more people. Some people who don’t read books will watch the movie and get to share in the genius.
  • It’s easier on your mind when the book is hard to understand (*cough*Lord of the Rings*cough*) or when you’re just tired.
  • It has music! Which is awesome! Especially when you get a really cool soundtrack (Lord of the Rings, again!).
  • It helps you visualize. Especially when you’re like me and you can’t visualize what characters or settings look like. Plus, there can be awesome landscapes that are just awesome.
  • It can add new meaning to the story. Sometimes movies give me new perspective on the characters and story, and they can occasionally move me even more than the actual story does, or be a companion to it and make them both feel even awesome-er.

CONS OF A MOVIE ADAPTATION

  • The producers sometimes don’t read the book! Okay, not really, but they sometimes veer so far from the actual story line that it’s ridiculous. I’m looking at you, The Lightning Thief and Ella Enchanted.
  • People don’t always read the book (which is generally better) after seeing the movie. Isn’t it so frustrating when someone says they’ve seen the movie, whether or not they like it–and then they refuse to read the book? And it’s so awesome, but they just won’t.
  • Or, people don’t know it was a book in the first place! Has anyone else read How to Train Your Dragon? (I like the movie better…)
  • The story is reduced to a shorter time frame. Except in The Hobbit, when they made it longer. This means that things have to be cut (S.P.E.W. from Harry Potter!) and sometimes those things were important to the original plot, so it changes it. Sometimes, this can be a good thing, but most of the time it’s just frustrating.
  • It’s limited to what you can see. Which means that if a book uses a lot of internal dialogue and conflicts, it’s a lot harder to show those. So either those conflicts get changed, or they develop and resolve it through different means that don’t occur in the book.

Obviously, there are good and bad things about movie adaptations. So I want to hear your opinion:

Should books be made into movies? What movies are actually better than the books, if any? What are your favorite and least favorite movie adaptations? What components are needed in a good movie adaptation? If you could make any book into a movie, what would it be, and what would you change?

Ramble away, and we’ll discuss it!

 

Blog Tour: The Dressmaker’s Secret & Ivy Introspective by Kellyn Roth + Giveaway!

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Hi everyone! I’m super excited to be helping to open Kellyn’s Roth’s blog tour for her two novels, The Dressmaker’s Secret and Ivy Introspective, books 1 and 2 of The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy!

 

Kellyn previously published The Dressmaker’s Secret, but she’s republishing it with some changes as she releases the second novel on June 24, 2017. So let me tell you a little bit about them! I’ll do a little spotlight on both books and then give you a character spotlight on Jordy McAllen, one of my favorite characters from Ivy Introspective! And then the giveaway, of course!


The Dressmaker’s Secret

The Dressmaker's Secret 1After a revealing conversation with the first children of her age she’s ever met, curious eight-year-old Alice Chattoway realizes that one ought to have a father … and she doesn’t. Having determined that his absence is making her mother unhappy, Alice resolves to find him and create a family for herself.

However, Alice’s mother, Miss Chattoway, is reluctant to answer any questions posed about a man she’d much rather forget. While Alice investigates, Miss Chattoway tries to balance her own spiritual turmoil with her need to be both mother and provider to her daughters.

Will Alice ever unravel her mother’s secrets? Can Miss Chattoway let go of the past to reach for the future?

This novel is narrated by a little girl, but it’s actually about both Alice and her mother, Miss Chattoway. It deals with love, spirituality, and family, which are all awesome themes and so fun to read about. Plus, Alice is so funny. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, then you’ll love reading The Dressmaker’s Secret!

Find The Dressmaker’s Secret on Goodreads

Order The Dressmaker’s Secret on Amazon


Ivy Introspective

Ivy Introspective 1Trapped in a world where she doesn’t belong, twelve-year-old Ivy Knight struggles to keep her head above water as her simplicity is brought to light by her new position as a young lady growing up at Pearlbelle Park.

Worried about their daughter’s inability to fit in, Ivy’s parents decide to send her to McCale House, a boarding school in Scotland for boys and girls like her. However, alone and frightened without her beloved mother, sister, and nurse, Ivy can’t seem to focus.

Will Ivy ever learn what Dr. McCale is trying to teach her? Or will she remain lost in her own mind forever?

Ivy Introspective is a fitting sequel to The Dressmaker’s Secret, though, this time, we get to hear about Alice’s twin sister, Ivy, who was born “simple.” We also get to hear about another young and irresistibly lovable girl, Posy, as she goes to her own boarding school.

I loved reading this novel and getting to know Ivy, with her love for stories and for music! (I can’t help but love characters who love music and stories!) The portrayal of Ivy’s struggles is interesting, and I loved to watch her learn and grow, even to the point where she can help other people! Ivy is so lovely and sweet–you can’t help but love her.

Find Ivy Introspective on Goodreads

Pre-Order Ivy Introspective on Amazon


Character Spotlight: Jordy McAllen

Now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for (or at least the moment I’ve been waiting for!), the spotlight on Jordy McAllen, a minor but awesome character from Ivy Introspective.

I mean, he just somehow decided to be my favorite character in Ivy Introspective (besides Ivy, of course). Have I ever had a favorite character who was only in a few scenes of a book. Nope…until now!

Okay, so first off, he’s Scottish! So not only does he have look awesome, with his cool reddish/auburnish hair and greenish eyes, but he also sounds awesome with his Scottish brogue! It’s so fun to read his parts out loud, and it’s especially fun to say “Ivy” the way he does: “Ay-vee”. Seriously, try it. You’ll be glad you did.

And secondly, he has such an awesome personality! He’s an ESFP, so not only is he optimistic, enthusiastic, and fun to be around, but he also cares deeply about other people! Seriously, I want him to be my friend, too.

For some background on Jordy: he was born to a farmer’s family with five other siblings. At age 12, approximately four years before Ivy Introspective, he decided he wanted to be a doctor. When Jordy met Dr. McCale, he was offered a job as Dr. McCale’s assistant at the McCale House, a boarding school for mentally challenged children. That’s where he meets Ivy!

Jordy is so awesome, it’s almost worth reading the book just for him. I say “almost” because he only stars in a few short scenes, to my sorrow… But guess what? He’ll be back in Beyond Her Calling (book four)! I’m probably way too excited about that…but I don’t really care! I can’t wait!


Giveaway!

Enter into this giveaway for a chance to win a paperback copy of both The Dressmaker’s Secret and Ivy Introspective! (U.S. only.) Or, if you don’t live in the U.S., you can enter the second giveaway for an ebook copy of both books!

Enter the giveaway here!


Continue on the blog tour

The blog tour for The Dressmaker’s Secret and Ivy Introspective continues from the 20th through the 30th. You can follow along with this schedule and see all the awesome posts that are planned–and find some new blogs and blogging friends along the way!


let’s talk!

Are you excited for Kellyn’s new releases? Will you be following along/participating in her blog tour? And do you adore Jordy as well? What accent is your favorite to talk in? (I like to read Scottish/Irish out loud, but I can’t do it on my own. I can sort of do an Australian accent, and then another accent that probably isn’t even from a real country…) And…how has your summer been so far? Do you have any fun plans?

The Writer’s Tag

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I know, I haven’t done a tag since…well, since the Week of Blog Tags, and I don’t remember how long ago that was. But what writer doesn’t love talking about writing? And when May @ Forever and Everly tagged anyone who wanted to do it, why not do it…a month later? (That’s pretty good for me, actually.) Thanks, May!

So, it’s time for The Writer’s Tag! Where I talk about writing!


What genres, styles, and topics do you write about?

Lots of things, but I suppose it’s usually the same things that I like to read about!

For genresFantasy with cool plot reveals and a dash of romance. But, you know, I’ve never read epic science fiction, and yet that’s something else I’m writing about? I need to read more sci-fi…anyone know of any books?

For styles: I usually write in 3rd person, past tense, but for Battle Song, which I’m starting to work on again, it’s actually in 1st person! And my writing style is usually fairly straightforward. I would love to develop better word choice and a more beautiful writing style, but mine is pretty simple right now.

For topics: I love to write about dragons, magic, fairy tale retellings, cultures/beliefs, deep characters, and war. Probably too much war. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m not sure that I’ve written a novel that doesn’t have war in it…I just love the strength and heroism it brings out in people!


How long have you been writing?

For as long as I can remember! I still have old notebooks from when I was in elementary school with unfinished stories in them (usually about fairies or orphans…who knows?).

However, I never really took writing seriously as something I’d actually want to do with my life until my dad suggested we do Camp NaNoWriMo together, in April 2013. That’s when I realized how much I loved writing.

Then, 2014 was when writing became more a part of my life, when I took the 365K challenge and tried to write a thousand words every day.

And now, I’m trying to make writing my career, so I guess it depends on your definition of “writing”. Maybe I’m just beginning!


Why do you write?

I write because I love it. I write because if I don’t write, my mind fills with new ideas and new plots, and my Creative Dragon awakes within me, telling me that it won’t leave me alone until I write something. (True story.)

I write because I love to express emotions through words, because I can’t always speak, because there’s a beauty in showing how people progress through difficult challenges.

I write because weaving a story is my favorite way to spend my time. I adore my characters, I can’t stop the exhilaration of coming up with a new idea, and I love trying to puzzle out how everything fits together. In short, it’s awesome!


When is the best time to write?

All the time! Just kidding. I don’t know if there’s a particular time of day that I feel more productive to writing, because that’s not something I normally pay attention to, but on my new schedule I’m writing from 3:00-5:00 p.m. I don’t know, if I did it a little earlier, I’d probably be a bit more creative, but it still works! I like having a timeframe that I have to stick to–writing, and nothing else, during those hours.


What parts of writing do you love, and what parts do you hate?

Love:love that moment when everything just fits together! After you’ve been thinking hard and pondering how anything relates, and it’s so confusing, but this flash of inspiration comes and everything makes sense!

When you think of an awesome plot twist or plot reveal.

When you’re developing a character you didn’t really connect with before, and then you figure out something about them, and you just love them to death.

When thinking about a character’s death makes you want to cry (even if you don’t).

When you write that super emotional scene and your heart feels like it’s being squeezed and your characters are all so awesome and dramatic and everything is awesome.

When you have dreams about your characters being shippy. *nods*

When you have dreams that spark story ideas.

When you share your work and someone loves it! And not only that, but they connect with it. That’s awesome.

When you look back on old writing and realize that it’s not as bad as you remembered.

When you think of a deliciously sad and emotional ending or scene.

When you get to be the evil author. All too often done by me…but it’s so fun!

When you’re so in love with your story that everyone else can’t help but love it too.

…that was kind of long…

Hate/Dislike: Being stuck and not knowing where to go next.

When you have such a great idea, and it doesn’t turn out as good on paper.

When your characters are all refusing to develop themselves. Hence all the character-glaring that I do.

When you start to compare yourself with other writers and feel like a failure.

When you feel like you don’t know how to write anymore.

When someone doesn’t like your writing that you’re really proud of.

When you feel so inadequate and like you’ll never measure up.

Gosh, why do we put the “hates” after the “loves”? That’s just depressing.


How do you overcome writer’s block?

I don’t. Umm, probably through endurance, I guess? Sometimes all it takes is to keep going when it’s hard. But I think usually it helps to take a break and do something else (like drawing or playing the piano) to calm me down. After that, it helps to find where things went wrong and then try to fix it or go from there. Identifying the problem is half the battle!

(And fixing it is the other half. *sighs* Usually something needs more development…always more development.)


Are you working on something at this moment?

Yes, I’m writing this blog post. Yup! I just started working on Battle Song, a retelling of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, with warrior mermaids + cool characters + cool religion stuff + wars! (See? There’s even multiple wars in this one.) I started writing it last November for NaNoWriMo, but I’m restarting.

(I’d link you to the page, but some things are changing and I need to rewrite it. And also make a better blurb. Because I’m great at that.)

Anyway, I’m still working on re-developing stuff, but soon I’m going to start writing. This time, I’m going to write the last 10K first because then I’ll know where I’m headed. Plus, there’s some great emotional/shippy/awesome scenes at the end. *grins*


What are your writing goals this year?

Well, I do have goals from my New Year’s Resolutions post, buut a few of those might be changing. My new goals are to write every day, to publish at least two short stories, and have the first and second drafts of Battle Song done.

Unless you mean “year” as in a year from today, in which case to have Battle Song as ready for publishing as I can get it.

And, of course, to always be improving!


Tag–You’re it!

If you read this and enjoyed it, consider yourself tagged. Because I only have a few people who I could tag, and I’m also not sure how many you’re supposed to tag for this…so tag if you want it!

(Also, if you do this tag, feel free to use the graphic!)


we talk and talk and talk

Are you going to do the tag/have you done it before? I’d love a link! And if you don’t want to do the tag, feel free to answer the questions in a comment below! I especially want to know what you love and what you hate about writing.

Oh, and, P.S. I’m going to be gone next week on a family vacation. I was going to write a post and pre-schedule it, but I don’t know if I’ll have time. So if you don’t see me, that’s why!

Becoming an Author — Authory Updates, Goals, and Whatnot

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Yeah, I didn’t write a hiatus post…but it’s too late now. I was gone (church youth camp), I came back, and celebrations are in order. Or a virtual cookie handout. One of the two.

Anyway…this new post! It might turn into a blog series…who knows. It’s called Becoming an Author, with the emphasis on the unspoken “not just a writer”. You see, I’ve made a few decisions over the past few weeks that mainly culminate to this:

If I want to become an author as a career, then I had better start acting like one right now.

Hence becoming an author.

And I want to talk with you about my goals! And ideas! And how I’m faring after my first day at the “job” of being an “actual” author! (Decent…decent.)

But first, some updates.

So, you know I’ve been working on my Iris novella. I finished that last Saturday (the week-and-a-half ago one) at about a total of 24,000 words. It…was pretty great. It felt really good to start and finish something and to know that I put my heart into it. It was fun. It was emotional. And I’m so happy I wrote it.

(And, you know, if you were one of the people who read the Spotlights and decided you wanted more, tell me in the comments and I’ll email the story to you.)

Besides that, I’ve had a whole bunch of plot bunnies, mostly from my dreams, oddly enough. I wrote a 1500-word story/poem/story-poem that was vaguely Rapunzel based from a dream I had. And it was fun.

But I’ve been talking…to myself, to my family, to friends…and I know that I can’t keep writing short stuff like this. If I want to be an author, I need to write a novel. Like, an actual one. That I finish, and revise, and try to publish.

So, I had a little talk/counsel/thing with my parents yesterday and worked out some goals and a schedule for what I’m going to do this summer, and in the future.

First, I needed money. Because there’s things like college looming in my near future (eek!), and who knows when I’ll actually publish something. So I’m working part-time this summer for my dad & grandpa. (I’m transcribing my dad’s journals and editing my grandpa’s history. Both of which should maybe help me with writing, and I’ll enjoy them much more than some other entry-level job.)

And secondly, I need to write like it was my actual job. Well, not necessarily, because I’m only doing two hours a day. But I’m doing two hours a day! Which means I’ll be doing something consistently with writing, which I have not done in the past.

Also, I’m working on one novel that will hopefully be ready to be published by June 2018. If it’s not publishing-worthy or if I don’t publish it by then, whatever. But I just want to have it as ready as I can make it.

Want to know what it is?

Drumroll, please…

It’s Battle Song, the novel I started last November for NaNoWriMo! And, as a plus for me, there’s already a page for it. (An non-updated page, for sure, and everything’s subject to change, but hey, it’s there.)

Besides the novel ha, I make it sound like it’s so easy to write a novel, I’m also looking to publish a few short stories, whether through magazines or contests. If you know of a good one, please tell me! I’d love to hear it! I have one or two (or maybe just one) stories I could try to publish, so I’ll probably need to write more, but I want to try to get my name out there and maybe develop my craft a little more along the way.

I want to publish at least one short story by September 1, 2017. Because that’d be cool. *nods*

Aside from writing, there’s blogging! Yes sirree, you never thought this day would come, the day when I, Lana, at The Music of Words, would actually make…a posting schedule.

I’m going to spend two hours on “writing marketing” (which is basically just talking to people online and writing blog posts) once a week, and write two blog posts & set them to post. (Probably Saturday, since I don’t have “work” that day.) And then the other day that my post comes out, Tuesday, will also be my blog response day where I respond to comments. Which is only supposed to take 30 minutes. Heh. Heh. Heh.

But, as you can tell, it is a Wednesday, which isn’t on my posting schedule at all. It’s also not in my general schedule either, but I’m writing this during my free time. So if I have a brilliant idea for a blog post, it might appear on a random day. (You can thank me later.)

Oh yes! So, today was my very first day on the job. I actually followed a schedule from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm. Crazy, I know! (And then I had free time…ahh man, I’m going to love my free time.) So, how did it go?

Well. It went well. (Wahoo for good grammar!)

Okay, it was actually easier than I thought to keep to a schedule, though I was sorely tempted to stop and just finish the book I was reading. (I finished it during my lunch break, instead. And then read another book during my after-five-pm free time. *grins*)

But it was also hard to work on writing. I’m trying to figure out world building so that it’s actually cool (not to mention I think it’ll solve a lot of plot problems), but it’s more difficult than expected. How does one take influences from a real-world culture, put it into a fake world, with certain requirements and characters, and still make it realistic? I have no idea. But at least I’m trying, and that feels really good.


talk with me!

Do you like/not like the Becoming an Author posts & why? What should I do differently in the next one? (less updates, more advice?) Are you excited for my goals as well? What are your plans for the future & what career do you want to go into/are in? What are your best tips for keeping to a schedule? Or for writing? Or just tips for life in general? I’m a willing listener here to all the sage wisdom you have to give. Especially if it’s a little sarcastic. *wink wink*

 

Spotlight #6: Meet Samuel (Iris, Part 2)

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Spotlights: excerpts, commentary, and random stuff about my current writing. Previous Spotlights can be found here.

If you remember the last Spotlight, I introduced to you a new story that I’ve been calling Iris but will probably be called something else (The Flower of Esclia?). Well, it was supposed to be a short story, but I have 17,000 words so far and it’s still not done.

So it’ll probably be more of a novelette/ novella.

Anyway, I told you about some characters last time, and today you get to meet a new one! His name is Samuel, and he’s quite fantastic. He’s the son of a travelling merchant and was Rosie’s and Iris’s childhood friend. He’s perceptive and…I don’t know how to describe him. You’ll have to read the excerpt.

Random updates on the current writing: The story keeps getting more complicated. Shippiness is at an all-time low between Garic and Iris, but don’t worry, it’ll get better. And I basically have no idea what I’m doing anymore, so I’m making it up as I go along.

All right, all right, I’ll give you the excerpt.

A few minutes later, Samuel sat down next to her and flicked the reins, starting the horses into an easy walk. “The prince is in the back…but he’s right, you know. It looks like it might snow.”

Iris tilted her head to the sky, blanketed with clouds so that neither stars nor moon could be seen. “Maybe.”

“So what’s this about Rosie?” asked Samuel.

This was not how she wanted him to find out. If anything, she didn’t want him to find out at all. Rosie would be better in his memories as free and unfettered, not crippled and locked away in her room. “Last time you and your father left…”

“Yes?”

“About a month later, there was an…an accident.”

Samuel turned to her, dark eyes filled with pain. “What happened?”

Iris took a deep breath. Better to get it over with quickly. “A carriage driver lost control and one of his horses nearly killed Rosie. She survived but…but she has no movement below her neck.”

He was breathing heavily, and she thought she could see the memories running through his mind. Their times together had always been filled with physical activities, with running wild through the streets in a race, or playing tug-of-war, or dancing in the lantern glow of the autumn festival.

That had been the last time Samuel had been there, and Rosie had practically glowed all through those two weeks. And at the end was the festival, where the musicians played and the people of Eyspar danced, and Samuel and Rosie had spent half the night together, spinning around each other and whispering and laughing.

Looking at him, Iris knew that was exactly the memory in his eyes.

“She’s pulled through, though,” she whispered. “You know Rosie…she can find happiness in every situation. I don’t know how she does it, but she does.”

Samuel didn’t answer for a long time, the silence filled by the wind in the grass and the quiet clopping of the horses’ hooves on the dirt road. Finally he spoke. “It’ll be warmer in the wagon. You should go inside.”

It was easy to tell that he wanted to be left alone, so Iris nodded, and he stopped the horses so that she could climb inside.

The wagon was cluttered with wares and barrels and a dim lantern hung in the corner, swaying, illuminating Garic in the only clear spot, leaning against the wall.

She sat down as far away from him as she could, which was only a few feet, and looked down at the ground.

“You’ve been crying,” said Garic.

Of course he’d notice the one thing that she was trying to hide. But what did it matter? It didn’t change the fact that Rosie was never going to stand or walk again. That she could never be who she was once before.

“We haven’t seen Samuel for over a year,” she whispered. “He didn’t know about—” Her voice broke. “About Rosie.”

Iris glanced up at Garic, bathed in warm lantern light, extending his arms to her.

Tonight, when the wind whistled sorrowfully and Samuel’s heart was breaking, she let herself go to him. Tonight he held her, and his solidity dampened the pain, made it bearable.

Tomorrow she would push him away again, tomorrow, but tonight…tonight she let her silent tears fall on him until she fell asleep.



lettuce talk (hahaha I’m so clever)

What do you think of the Spotlight/excerpt/Samuel/everything? Does the block quote format make the text too big? (I’m kind of thinking so.) If you could put the characters into any situation & observe their reactions, what would it be? And randomly, how are you today? What’s been the best part of your day/week?

Beautiful People: Parental Edition (with Aleria, Iris, and Garic)

PAPERFURYThis month’s Beautiful People interview is about parents! The character we shall be talking about today is Princess Aleria of Esclia, whose parents are Iris and Garic, so basically I’m just talking about Iris and Garic anyway. See how clever I am, talking about what I’m currently working on?

If you missed my excerpt with Iris and Garic, you can check it out here (Spotlight #5: Iris) and understand why I’m casually just fangirling over my own characters…

Beautiful People is a monthly character interview hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In.


Now for the questions!

  • Overall, how good is their relationship with their parents?

Pretty good. Garic and Iris both try to be close to their daughter, but they also try to protect her from a lot of things, which causes some tension. They’re also gone a lot and it’s hard for Aleria to always communicate with them, but she does know that they care about her.

  • Do they know both their biological parents? If not, how do they cope with this loss/absence and how has it affected their life?

Yes, she does.

  • How did their parents meet?

Well, this is the story that I’m writing currently, so I could give you the very in-depth version, but in short, Iris is famed to be “the prophetess of Eyspar” and Garic comes to her for help because he’s the prince and he’s afraid someone wants to kill him.

  • How would they feel if they were told “you’re turning out like your parent(s)”?

Aleria would get that warm, fuzzy feeling inside because she admires her parents, especially her mother. She wants to become like them, and if she were told that she was, she’d be thrilled.

  • What were your character’s parents doing when they were your character’s age?

Well, Aleria’s story starts when she’s younger than Garic and Iris are in their story, so nothing extremely exciting. Garic was doing princely things, like preparing to come of age and being tutored in all sorts of things and trying to deal with his father’s remarriage. Iris was probably embroidering pillows and starting to look for suitors and being dragged on adventures with Rosie and Samuel.

  • Is there something they adamantly disagree on?

Garic and Iris trust their adviser, but Aleria does not, and in fact does not like him at all. She wants them to get rid of him, but they won’t, and she doesn’t understand why.

  • What did the parent(s) find hardest about raising your character?

Raising her to not thinking that she could have whatever she wanted…which they didn’t exactly succeed at. She’s the princess and the only child, and she did get what she wanted. But they did manage to raise her to be kind, which was a partial success.

  • What’s their most vivid memory with their parental figure(s)?

Aleria remembers more with Iris, I think, and there’s not specifically one that stands out more than the others. She loved to sit and watch her mother embroider in the night, by light of a candle, humming…

  • What was your character like as a baby/toddler?

Adorable but willful. She liked to get into things she wasn’t supposed to, but you know, with that innocent smile and chubby cheeks, how could one be angry with her?

  • Why and how did the parents choose your character’s name?

Aleria is Garic’s mother’s name, and she was awesome. They wanted Aleria to grow up as strong and gentle and royal as she was.


Also!

Because I love you, when I was supposed to be writing yesterday, I made a Pinterest board about my story with Garic and Iris. There are adorable pictures & mysterious captions and little quotes from the story, so check it out and tell me what you think!


let us talk!

What are your thoughts? What would you ask Aleria, Iris, or Garic if you could ask them one question? What are the best kind of parents in books/in real life? If you did this Beautiful People interview, link me to your post!

How to Design Lovely Images for Your Blog Posts

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Designing featured images for my blog posts is something that I’ve learned to enjoy–and I’ve found a way of doing it that’s really easy & that I’d like to share with you today! It does require a little bit of practice, but most of it is simple enough that even if you’ve never edited a photo, you’ll be ready to make a beautiful graphic for your post after reading this.

Here are some examples of images that I’ve made. No two are quite alike, though there are some similarities between them because there are certain types of fonts and styles of design that I love. As you make your headers, you’ll discover what your interests are as well.

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(Images link to their respective posts, if you’d like to check them out.)

To illustrate my points through this tutorial, I’ll be making a graphic for this post that I wrote before I starting making graphics consistently, called Finding Happiness in a Jealous World.


Choosing an Image

The great thing is, you don’t need to be good with a camera to get a free image that you can use on your blog! There are several sites online with free stock photos that you can use without having to credit anyone, not to mention that most are fantastic quality. I usually use Pixabay or Unsplash for my graphics.

Step #1: Use Different Keywords

Usually, I don’t know exactly what kind of image I want for a post, but for this one, maybe something nature-y? Maybe something with trees, because I like trees. So I’m going to search for “trees”.

If you find any that you think you might like, open them in a new tab and keep looking. You just might be able to find something better! If you can’t find something that you think fits the mood of the post, try a different keyword or a different subject.

Here are a few that I’m now considering:

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Step #2: Use a Picture with Space

Remember, you’re going to need to add text to these pictures, so you don’t want a picture that’s crammed full (like a picture of a forest). You’ll want a picture with a lot of open space wherematt-lee-18767.jpg text can be added. If you look at this picture on the left, there’s not very much open space where the text could be seen. The only open places are the sky and the grass around the border of the picture, and most of the time you’re going to want your text to be somewhere near the center. You can get away with it being a little off (and sometimes it even looks better like that), but generally, you want your title to be around the center, and these trees are blocking that.

You’re going to find some pictures that you really like, but if they don’t have space for text, don’t use them. Use them in your post as a pretty landscape or something.

Step #3: Choose Your Favorite Picture

Yep, that’s what it comes down to when you have multiple great pictures with a lot of space. You want to choose the picture that you think is the prettiest and also fits the mood of the post the best. It’s your choice.cristina-gottardi-177261.jpg

I like all of these, but I actually like this one on the right the best. I feel like the orange leaves complement the post the best, even though I’m not entirely sure why. (I’m not sure if this is instinctive or just because I’m the author of the post and I know what mood I want.)

Once you choose your picture, download it, and we’ll add some text!


Adding Text

I normally use PicMonkey for this because it’s easy to use and it’s online, so you don’t have to download anything. I don’t have the premium membership, so fonts are limited, but it’s still quick and easy.

Step #1: Choose a Fitting Font

You may have to try a few different fonts to figure out which one you like the best. Personally, I tend to like thin fonts, and I either type them in all caps or in all lowercase–but you do what you like the best! I think this post will look better in all caps, so I’ll find a font I like for thdifferent fontsat.

Oh, and remember to choose simple, readable fonts. Even if you love a crazy font, it’s usually best to use something that’s readable, even if it might seem a little boring. (Again, there’s always exceptions.)

Sometimes it’s harder than others to find the right font (this was one of those times), but keep looking! You may not be able to find the perfect font, but you can find something you really like. I normally don’t use handwritten fonts, but I actually really like the bottom right one, called “Sue Ellen Francisco”. I think it fits with the post.

Step #2: Keep it Balanced

As you’re formatting the text, remember that balanced does not always mean centered. Having balance means that the entire image feels like it works together when you look at it–from the image to the font. (Coloring the font in the nexblack text headert step will also affect this.)

Additionally, make important words bigger as you format the text. It’s usually better to have some variation in font size rather than in font type. And use your space! You can either use it to make your words really big and prominent, or you can use it to surround your words and have emphasis. Keep playing around until you get the look you want.

Step #3: Add Some Color!

Coloring the font can be fun–and it it can also be hard. I really love the overlay function (on picmonkey, click on the text and it’s under “blend modes”). If you’re using overlay, have black or white text originally. I’ve found that this makes the overlay look the best.

If you’re just going to color the text directly, there is one very important rule to remember: only use colors thhappiness jealous world header.pngat are found in the photograph naturally. Most photos don’t have pure black or pure white in them, so using those in the fonts looks a little bit garish. The eyedropper tool is very useful for this.

In this header image, I wanted to emphasize the orange, but I didn’t want it to be super bright, so I picked a muted orange and brown from the picture and used those for my colors.

Ta-da! You’re done!

Look at that beautiful image!

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let’s talk!

What would you have done differently than me for this header? How do you do the graphics on your blog? Do you like tutorial posts like this or not? Are there any questions that you have on what I’ve said? I’d love to help & explain more!

Spotlight #5: Iris

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I couldn’t find an iris, unfortunately…but this is a pretty flower too.

This Spotlight has been the most finicky one. I’ve written three full drafts of it, one about character voices in Enhanced, one about starting sentences when I was rewriting Enhanced, and one with snippets from the rewrite of Enhanced. But this post has nothing to do with Enhanced, so I’m crossing my fingers that it will work out. (Plus, the fourth time’s the charm, right?)

P.S. If you don’t know what a Spotlight is, the definition is “weekly hahhaha no excerpts, commentary, and random stuff about my writing”. Read my previous Spotlights here.


Anyway. The story.

I know I just talked last post about how I was starting a “new” writing project, The Blade. But you know those times when inspiration actually hits you? Yeah, you’ve just got to follow it. So I did.

Before I give you an excerpt (yay!), here’s some backstory & information on the short story, currently titled Iris.

A few years ago, one of my best friends and I wrote a novel called Eyes Closed, about…well, royalty, a throne, magic, and trust. One of the two main characters is a princess named Aleria, and this short story is a prequel about her parents’ story. (Because they die before the novel begins, we never get to know much about them.)

It’s probably actually going to end up being more of a novellette/novella instead of a short story, which isn’t good for The Blade, but eh–this is more fun! (Pro tip: Always write whatever is most fun. It’ll definitely help you finish things.)


And here’s your regularly scheduled excerpt!

There’s so many to choose from! *has small crisis* Okay, here’s one that should work (a.k.a. it’s not very spoilery, it includes both Garic & Iris, and I also just really like it).

She led him up a flight of stairs and knocked on a door. “Rosie? Are you awake?”

A few moments later, the answer came. “Come in.”

“I brought you a visitor,” said Iris, and he found he loved the smile of anticipation on her face as she opened the door.

He stepped inside to find a girl lying in bed. Though she was pale and obviously sick, she looked much like Iris, and he couldn’t help but smile at her wide, blue eyes.

Iris was smiling so widely that she could have rivaled the brightness of the sun. “Rose, this is Prince Garic. Prince Garic, this is Rose.”

“You can call me Rosie,” said the girl in the bed, a little shyly.

“Rosie. You have a name fit for a princess.”

If saying kind things to Rosie would make Iris smile at him like that again, he thought he’d never tire of it.

“Have you seen my garden?” whispered Rosie, nodding her head toward the window.

He was about to reply that he hadn’t, when he saw the handkerchiefs hanging down. He crossed the room to them. Beautiful flowers were embroidered on each one of them, each a different kind. Pansies, carnations, lilies, and a rose… He fingered it, knowing it was the one that Iris had been working on when he was last here.

Warmth flooded him as he looked at the flowers, then back at the two sisters. “It’s the most beautiful garden I’ve ever seen,” he said quietly, his voice wavering just slightly. “It rivals the castle’s.”

Rosie’s smile was beautiful and innocent, but he found Iris’s even more entrancing. She motioned subtly to the chair by Rosie’s bedside, and he sat down in it, unsure of what to say.

Rosie spoke first. “What is your favorite flower?”

Garic was tempted to say an iris, but he was sure that would leave Iris’s eyes shooting daggers at him, so he refrained. “Peonies. The yellow ones.”

“Iris,” Rosie breathed, “will you embroider me a peony next?”

He couldn’t help but wish that her smile was bestowed on him rather than Rosie as she spoke. “Of course.”


what think ye?

Do you like the excerpt? What do you think of Garic and Iris (and Rosie, of course)? Do you want to know more? Did I finally do this Spotlight justice? How often should I do Spotlights? And what are you currently writing? I want excerpts & commentary & random stuff about it!

Why I Disappeared + My New Writing Project

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So you may have noticed that I disappeared from the blogosphere.

I mean, it was just a slight disappearance that took up, yeah, about the whole month of April. Eek.

And I know what you’re all wondering: Why did you leave us with no warning? We’ve all been suffering without your fabulous blog posts! Don’t leave us anymore!!

Or something of the sort.

Well, there wasn’t a huge reason why I disappeared…mainly just a culmination of lots of little things that led to me not posting and only commenting on a few blog posts throughout the month.

Here’s some of the reasons:

  • I totally failed Camp NaNo. I don’t know how this affected me, but about the time I stopped writing in my novel, I stopped checking my blog as much. I stopped writing because I got to a point where I didn’t know how to write anything I liked (which I’m still struggling with, a bit).
  • The post I was working on was taking a long time to put together. Like, it was taking longer than my Dares posts do! It’ll still be coming to you, at some point, but I’m only about halfway through it at the moment. (For a sneak peek, it’s about positivity!)
  • Life was busy. Between school nearing the end of the year, choir festival, composing a choral song, reading lots of books, and procrastinating a lot, there just wasn’t any time. (Okay, I had some time. But not a lot.)
  • And…yep. I’m sorry for leaving you without your favorite blog.

But I’m back now, and hopefully for quite a while as well!



And now for more exciting things… I’m working on a new writing project!

Well, “new” might not be the correct terminology. I actually started this project two years ago, during April Camp NaNoWriMo, so it’s actually quite old. But I haven’t worked on it for a very long time, so right now I want to finish it! (Remember, one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to finish writing three novels.)

It’s called The Blade (or, at least, that’s what it’s called for now), and despite there being a lot of fighting and war and stuff like that, it’s really about the internal struggles of a girl named Riven, trying to figure out who she is.

It also involves:

  • A sword-fighting teacher who doubles as an counselor
  • A boy with a crooked smile and great letter-writing skills
  • A sash
  • A loyal horse (or two)
  • A desert-y setting with canyons and red rocks
  • A mysterious man in black (yep, like Princess Bride)
  • A magic-less fantasy
  • A war
  • And a lot of heartbreak

And I know you’re dying for an excerpt now, so I tried to find something non-spoiler-y but still something I loved. So here’s this:

“Sometimes Malik sings to me when I can’t fall asleep,” said James, leaning up against the rock.

I stared. This Malik was sounding stranger and stranger. What sort of man would sing a little boy a lullaby to help him sleep? Well, perhaps the same kind who would take a whiplash for him. The kind of man who would love…so why would he be with the Bleeding Sun? “He sings to you?”

James nodded.

“What does he sing?”

“I can’t really remember all of it,” he said softly, a faint blush of embarrassment rising to his cheeks. Perhaps he didn’t want to have me intrude on this memory. Or maybe he just didn’t like singing.

“What’s the song about?”

James drew his finger through the red sand for a few moments before answering. “It’s about falling asleep and dreaming of a castle, and a princess.”



talk to me!

Did you miss me terribly? (Actually, don’t answer that, I know you did.) Did you write any awesome posts that I didn’t read/comment on & should? What was the best/worst part of April for you? How did Camp NaNo go for you? You must tell me everything I missed! And what do you think of my new project? Are you excited to learn more about it?

Monthly Dares: April 2017

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Yay for springtime and warmer weather! I’ll even be okay with some April showers…as long as it doesn’t snow again. *crosses fingers* It’s been so warm that I don’t think it will, but…you never know.

Anyway, it’s yet again time for the Monthly Dares post, stolen from inspired by Kellyn Roth @ Reveries! How time flies! I’m trying to accomplish my New Year’s Resolutions with this, and those dares are marked with (NYR) next to it.

Who’s ready to see lots of red colors? Let’s go!

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March was beautiful and springtime-y and there were some very fun things that I did, but I don’t think it was very good for me dare-wise. But I do know that I did get more sleep, which is one good thing!

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1. (NYR) Add more meaning to my scripture study and prayer. Journal about scriptures 5x a week, and write down a prayer at least 2x a week. I actually think I got worse… I journalled about twice during the month and didn’t write down any prayers. My scripture study got worse too because I decided sleep was more important…I need to do better!

2. (NYR) Write in my journal at least 20 times! Um… I don’t even want to count it. It’s under ten. I was going to say that I was doing better these past few days, and then I remembered it’s April now. *sighs*

3. (NYR) Research the colleges in my state and see which ones I’d most like to go to. Not really. Mainly because I don’t think I want to go anywhere different than my original choice… But I did look at what majors there were at that college, and I eliminated about half of them. Just, you know, seventy more to choose from…

4. Take the ACT! Yes sirree! (Is that how you’d spell it?) I took the ACT, and I think I did pretty well, except for the math section… I don’t have my scores back yet, but I should hopefully get them soon.

5. (NYR) Get my driver’s license! Or at least work on it. Yes and no. I did not get my driver’s license. I did, however, work on it. I tried and failed taking the writing part of the test. I think I’m supposed to try again this week…eep. Wish me luck!

6. (NYR) Finish my online class! Aww yeah. I procrastinated even more, but it’s done!

7. (NYR) Find service to do, and do it! I am a despicable human being. (Reference, anyone?) I don’t know if I did any service. Wow. That deserves a really slow clap, Lana.

8. Do my chores more often (every day, if possible)! Work for Dad at least 10 hours this month–money goes toward college. That was a failure. I did my chores like five times and I didn’t work for my dad at all.

9. Floss every night. I thought I did okay…but then I went to my dentist appointment. I didn’t have any actual cavities, but they said I had 5 places where cavities were developing because I wasn’t flossing enough. My mom said they were probably from before I started flossing more consistently, so that mollified me a bit.

10. Sing at least 4x every week to practice for my weekly voice lessons. *headdesks repeatedly* I sang less this month than I ever had. I skipped like two weeks. (I was busy for most of them, but still.) Let’s not talk about this one.

11. Finish Personal Progress…I know I have to get this one done…I just have to! Well, apparently I didn’t have to. I thought about it–I thought about it a whole lot–but the thing about thinking about things is that nothing actually gets done.

12. Get enough sleep so that you don’t die the next morning. (a.k.a. get 8 hours of sleep.) Yeppers! (No, I’m not entirely sure where that came from either.) I didn’t get 8 hours of sleep every night, but a majority of the time I did, and I didn’t feel like dying any of the mornings except for one (and I had a reason to stay up that night).

13. Do at least 20 minutes every week of Spanish practice with Duolingo. Ehh… I actually did some, but not 20 minutes a week. *shrugs* Maybe ten minutes two of the weeks.

14. Hand write a letter and mail it to someone. I worked on it, but no. I started writing it at the beginning of the month and then was called away, and it’s been sitting unfinished on my desk ever since.

15. Make a meal for the family at least once. Nope. Which is kind of weird because I’m pretty sure we were assigned nights to do it on…but it didn’t happen. I did make myself a yummy sandwich today, though, so…

16. Learn a story about an ancestor. Nope. Nada. Nothing. Well, I learned a couple of things about my parents, but that wasn’t really what I was going for with this dare.

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1. (NYR) Read 5 books this month. You know it! I think this has been my best New Year’s Resolution because so far I’m going strong. 7 books again this month.

2. (NYR) Write reviews for the said 5 books on Goodreads + reviews from last month. Yup. I mean, it’s possible that I wrote mini reviews for nine books yesterday in order to do it before I wrote this post… *laughs nervously* Anyway, you can find all of the books I’ve read this year on my goodreads 2017 challenge page.

3. At least one has to be a book that someone has recommended or that is on my TBR. Yes! I read Pride and Prejudice on choir tour, which I’ve been wanting to read for a while, and it was wonderful!

4. Read something edifying or knowledge-giving. I think so. I read my scriptures…I also researched some Viking/Nordic culture stuff for my Camp NaNo novel. I think what I meant here was for me to read a non-fiction book, but…research kind of counts too, right?

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1. (NYR) Write at least 6 blog posts this month. Not quite. I wrote 4, and my stats did suffer, but eh. I was busy.

2. Continue making graphics. Mostly. I kind of skimmed on some of them, but basically.

3. Come up with five blog post ideas that I would enjoy writing but are not just about my book or about writing advice. Woah, I forgot about that one. Nope. I’ll need to do that next month.

4. (NYR) Keep the sidebar updated, especially the word count for Enhanced. Add a “Scripture of the Week” section? Sure… I mean, there wasn’t much to update. And I did at a Scripture of the Week section–I’ve had three scriptures or something so far.

5. Seriously, just write a couple of bleh paragraphs on the Zel page. That’s better than having nothing there. *more slow clapping* I’m still at a record no for this dare, even though I could probably throw something together in five minutes.

6. Reach out to other bloggers! Comment on 5 people’s blogs that I’ve never commented on before. Forgot about this one too…but I did do it, slightly. I commented on two new blogs, and I <em>tried</em> to comment on some other ones…but Blogger will never let me comment using my WordPress account, even though it has an option to do it…which is frustrating because I found some cool blogs!

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Oh no, let the horrors begin…

1. (NYR) Write 40,000 words this month (1k+ every day) and keep track on it on the 365K spreadsheet. No way. I might have written 10k. Maybe. I don’t know because I didn’t keep track of it.

2. (NYR) Write 40,000 words in Enhanced. This one I think is kind of crazy. You’re right, past Lana, it is crazy. I wrote a teensy tiny amount in Enhanced. There is a reason for that, though. I’m not sure if I’ll make an entire blog post about this, but, in essence, I decided that Enhanced’s plotline is a little too complicated for my current skill level. I’m not really giving it up per se, I just need more time to outline it and more writing practice before I can come back to it.

3. (NYR) Work on The Luminary (the dark short story I mentioned in a different post) and outline it to its completion. Haha, nope. I forgot about that.

4. Write another chapter in TC. Don’t let the story dieee! It’s dead. In fact, all of my writing died in March. Did I even write anything? I don’t even remember.

5. Force my friend to write her last part in the CN. We’re so close! Yassss! My one good writing goal. I forced her to do this on a bus on choir tour (mwahaha) and now I just have to write my part and the novel will be finished at somewhere around 110k! I’m very happy about this.

6. Continue with last month’s goal of cover-making research + making 5 covers (one of which I have to be proud of). Write a post afterward sharing what I’ve learned. Gah. No. I want to do this still, since the post sounds really fun, but I didn’t work on this at all.

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  • I went on choir tour! It was extremely fun: we sang a lot, had fun, hung out in our hotel room and basically had a blast
  • I sang in a local production of Rob Gardner’s Lamb of God. It is quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever done. Lamb of God is a musical work with choir, orchestra, soloists, and narration about the last days of Jesus Christ and his resurrection. It’s extremely spiritually moving and has always strengthened me.
  • Here is the composer talking about Lamb of God, and HERE you can find the entire thing on a youtube playlist. If you are a Christian (or if you’re not), just listen to it. You won’t regret it, I promise.
  • I went to school and did a lot of homework. Exciting, I know.
  • I started composing a song! I guess that actually started in April…well, more on that later.
  • I wrote 2 short stories which is kind of a shame, since I’ve had that goal for a few months, and then the one month I don’t have the goal, I actually do it–twice over.
  • I made a three-pronged mission statement for my life. (1. Be worthy to stand in God’s presence. 2. Become the best person you can become. 3. Reach out to others with talents and service.)

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I’ve made some changes and I decided to make three overall goals for the month. These are my big goals, and if I can do all three of these, I count April a success, no matter how many dares I fail.

1. Succeed in completing at least 10 dares.

And that means pure dark green, folks. I think I average about five of these. If I can get ten, then I’ll have doubled in a month–that’s awesome, right? I know I can’t do all of my dares, since I’m not perfect, but I know I can get ten.

2. Do something important every day.

I may have stolen this from Kell, too… The idea is that every day, you go to bed feeling like you’ve accomplished something worthwhile. I’m going to keep a paper by my bedside with every day on it where I can write it down at the end of the day.

3. Be a better person at the end of the month.

I want to follow my mission statement (see the above “Other Awesomeness” section) for my life and improve. I want to come to this dare post next month feeling like I’m a better person than I was before–not only more accomplished, but also more righteous and more of a warrior for God.

april life header

1. (NYR) Add more meaning to my scripture study and prayer. Journal about scriptures 5x a week, and write down a prayer at least 2x a week. I’m keeping this because I want to do it still.

2. (NYR) Write in my journal at least 20 times. Not quite the 85% in my New Year’s Resolution, but 67% is decent.

3. (NYR) Do my own laundry this entire month. I decided that researching colleges is just going to stress me out. The more important thing is to develop a work ethic and learn how to live on my own so that I’ll be able to go to college.

4. (NYR) Get my driver’s license!

5. (NYR) Do an act of service each week and write it down. Bonus points: do an act of service every day.

6. Write down what chores I do. Do at least $20 worth of chores.

7. Work for Dad at least 10 hours this month–money goes toward college.

8. Floss 27 days out of 30. Also, focus on brushing and flossing correctly.

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

10. Do at least 10 hours of work on the quilt for Personal Progress–you can do it!

11. Do at least 20 minutes every week of Spanish practice with Duolingo.

12. Hand write a letter and mail it to someone.

13. Make a meal for the family at least once.

14. Make 5 personal meals. These could be simple like a sandwich–I just need to practice making food for when I go to college.

15. Finish composing The Lord is My Shepherd. In seminary (a church educational class), we’re challenged to share our testimony of Jesus Christ through our talents. I started composing a choral piece using text from Psalm 23. I’m excited about it!

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1. (NYR) Per usual, read 5 books this month.

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

3. At least one has to be a book that someone has recommended or that is on my TBR.

4. Read a non-fiction book. (We’re reading a nonfiction called The Ghost Map in English, and I decided it’s a good genre to try out.)

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1. (NYR) Write at least 6 blog posts this month.

2. (NYR) Keep the sidebar updated. Why did I make this a New Year’s Resolution again? It seems rather useless.

3. Come up with five blog post ideas that I would enjoy writing but are not just about my writing or about writing advice. Although, just coming up with five blog post ideas in advance would be cool.

4. Make a Zel page and a page for the MG dragon novel I’m writing for Camp.

5. Continue to focus on readability while keeping my voice in my posts.

6. Reach out to other bloggers and comment on 5 people’s blogs that I’ve never commented on before. I really like this goal…it’ll probably be a staple from now on.

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1. (NYR) Win Camp NaNo by writing 40,000 words this month in my MG dragon novel. I’m not sure how I feel about the 365K challenge at the moment, but yes, I still want to keep track of my writing.

2. (NYR) Finish the MG dragon novel. (If I write it in 40,000 words, this’ll be a two-for-one deal! However, I think it’ll take at least 50k.)

3. (NYR) Catch up on my 365K challenge count. I think I’m somewhere between 30-50K words behind, so I don’t actually see this happening, but it would be awesome.

4. (NYR) Finish a short story. (The Luminary would be awesome.)

5. Write a chapter in TC (novel with a friend).

6. Write a part in the CN (novel with a different friend). Normally, this is easy, but since it’s NaNo I’m not sure how distracted I’ll be with writing that.

7. Design two book covers this month.


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My dares haven’t been working, and I think I’ve figured out why. I can’t accomplish all of my dares. I, do, however, need to focus on them. Without focus, I won’t accomplish anything–and if I’m trying to accomplish everything, I won’t accomplish enough. Hence why I decided to create three overall goals for this month.

In April, I’m going to try to focus on succeeding well in a few goals, and increase that number each month.



VERY QUICK REVIEW for those who have been skimming:

  • I kind of failed everything last month except for my reading, and I epically failed my writing goals.
  • So I decided to make overall goals to help keep me on track.
  • I went on choir tour last month.
  • And go listen to Lamb of God(That’s another link to the youtube playlist.)


Your thoughts?

Did you enjoy this post? Do you like Dare posts or not? Should I shorten them? What can I improve with my readability? I know I need to make the section where I actually make the goals more readable, but I don’t want to just bold random parts of the goals–any suggestions? Did I do better at keeping my voice this time? What are some of your goals for April? Tell me at least one awesome thing you did in March!