Why I’ve Been Gone and Why I’ll Continue to Be

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Hello, all my lovely readers! First of all, this is not a goodbye post. I will come back! Rather, it’s a summary of what I’ve been doing these past few months, an announcement of the continuation of my hiatus from my blog, and the reasoning why.

What have I been doing?

The last time I posted was January 22nd. I’d finished my Snowflake Method outline for Battle Song and had written about 10k in the first draft (though I did mention that I was having difficulties forcing myself to write). And then–poof!–I disappeared.

I wrote fairly consistently in Battle Song through the first week of February, and then I wrote only sporadically through part of March. I probably added 5k-8k more words to what I had before. I just didn’t feel very motivated to continue–especially as I didn’t feel like scenes were turning out the way I wanted them to.

So…I stopped writing.

Then I went on choir tour in March, and I started writing a novella. If you’re interested in the whole story behind it, you can read this next part; if not, just skip ahead.

((Remember the Iris novella that I did two spotlights on? Iris’s daughter, Aleria, came from a novel that a friend and I wrote together. That friend was with me on choir tour…so I decided that I wanted to write her a story about some of our other characters…which of course grew longer and longer.

((If you’re interested in how the stories connect…in the novel we wrote, Aleria (daughter of Iris) meets this guy named Ryder. He was adopted when he was a baby by a different family. That family had a daughter named Sophie. She died when she was a young girl…but this novella explores what would have happened to her if she hadn’t died.

((So it’s not even real, which is depressing because it’s adorable.))

Okay, back to the story of what I’ve been doing. So, I know a couple of girls at church who also like to write and we started this writing club where we set goals. Anyway, in April, we decided that if we all finished our goals by our next meeting (the first Friday in May), we would get to have a potstickers party.

So I guess I have potstickers to credit for helping me write in Battle Song again. You see, I made this goal that I would finish writing the novella and write three scenes in Battle Song in that month. And I had to do that so that we could get potstickers.

So with potstickers in mind, I kept working on the novella…and it kept getting longer! My stories have a tendency to do it. But I needed to finish by the next meeting…so as I neared the end of that time, I was pretty much writing every day.

When I finished the novella (at 31,026 words–Iris had 24K), I only had two days to write three scenes in Battle Song, but I did it! (For the potstickers, of course.) (Except our meeting has been postponed twice since then, so will I ever get my potstickers? Who knows.)

Since then, I’ve actually been excited about writing in Battle Song, and I’ve written fairly consistently, trying to write about an hour every day. I usually end up writing 4 days a week.

I started keeping a writing log where I keep track of how many words I write in how much time…and then I calculate my average words per minute…usually between 18 and 22. Which ends up being around 1K an hour. I don’t know why it’s so fun to calculate my writing speed…but it is!

Anyway, long story short, I’ve been writing consistently in Battle Song and it currently has a total of 27,686 words.

Other than that, school is out (!!) and I figured out where I’m going to college and I’ve had a lot of choir concerts!


Wait…so you’re still on hiatus?

In short, yes.

This could turn into another long story, but that’s okay. Basically, I’ve decided that I won’t be blogging until I finish drafting Battle Song. I may do the occasional update on writing stuff, but I won’t really be here.

The reasoning behind this? Well…the other day, I was looking through my dad’s kindle and saw the book The One Thing by Gary Keller. And since I didn’t have anything else to do (we weren’t at home, so there really wasn’t much I could do), I started reading it.

It’s actually a book about how to be successful as a business, but…I thought it was interesting and applicable, nonetheless. One of the parts I found most interesting talked about balance and how it’s not always a good thing.

Basically, the idea was you try to balance your life, relationships, etc. but with work-related things, sometimes you have to throw yourself off-balance and completely pursue “the one thing”.

“The one thing”, according to the book, is the thing that is most important, the thing that will make everything else unnecessary or easier to accomplish. I’ve decided, that for me, right now, the one thing” is to finish Battle Song.

And instead of trying to divide my time between blogging and writing, I want to just write, and then come back when I’m done…when I can adequately focus on blogging well.


What will your blog look like when you get back?

I’m not entirely sure yet, but my hope is to post more consistently for sure. I want to really put some effort into my blog and think about what I’m writing.

I have had some post ideas that I’m excited for…there’s this blog series that could be fabulous (we’ll see) that has to do with short stories and possibly some world building posts. Hopefully, more ideas will come as I write Battle Song so I’ll have a whole plethora to choose from when I come back.

If you have any ideas, feel free to tell me!


A short thank you note

Also, I want to thank you all for your support…even though I am crazy and disappear all the time and have these really long rambling posts…you guys still read and comment! I’m so happy that I have made such great friends with my blog who are so kind to me.


Let’s talk, shall we?

What have you been up to in the time that I’ve disappeared? Tell me all about how life is going! What writing projects are you working on?

Do you agree that being off-balance is sometimes necessary, and in what aspects of life? What “one thing” could you work on?

And also, tell me if you want a spotlight or two from the novella about Sophie that I wrote! If you do, I can post those in the next few weeks since it really won’t take too much trouble. And if you have post ideas for when I come back…I’m definitely open to suggestions!

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The New Year Approaches (2017-2018 Goals)

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Hey, everyone! Hopefully you all had a wonderful Christmas and so forth! I am back–hopefully for real now, since I want to continue blogging at a more constant pace this next year. Of course, I said that last year, too. BUT! This post is about the New Year, and New Year’s resolutions!

It’s a tradition to review my goals from last year, and make new ones for next year. I’m going to try to make this year’s goals more clear and concise–hopefully just one for each section. However, the review from last year will be a little longer.

If you want to see my post like this from last year, see here: Review of 2016, Plans for 2017


2017 Goal Results

Life Goals:

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

Well…I did well at this for the first part of the year, and then it started to drift away. I still read my scriptures in the morning, but I’m so tired that it’s just not very conducive to reading and understanding. And I’ve also been struggling with praying…so I know that I still need to improve on this one!

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

Hahahhha nope. But…I actually did better than I thought. I got 201 entries (as of Dec. 19th, when I started writing this), which is only 55% of the time. But that’s still a lot of entries.

My worst month: March, with only 6 entries.

My best month: June, with 25 entries. (Which is so close to meeting the 85% mark!)

1st half of the year: 100 entries exactly!

What I noticed is that I tend to write more entries if I write every day–skipping a day leads to skipping more days, while writing multiple days in a row makes me more likely to write more further on. (And maybe this is obvious, but it was cool.)

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

Yes! I have applied to some colleges, and I know I’m accepted to one of them…we’ll see on the others in 2017. I’m not sure exactly where I want to go, but I have an idea…the question is if I can get a scholarship because I need money.

But I am proud for my applications! One of them was especially stressful, with basically 6 essays required…but I did it!

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

Yes, and yes. Although I did not get my driver’s license by February, hehh, and I think I had to get an extension on the online class. Thank goodness those are both done!

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

Oops. I forgot about this. And while I did some service, I’m pretty sure I didn’t do it once a week. I need to do better at this one as well.

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

No, I didn’t get a job. I’m still afraid of being stuck working a job that I hate…but I’m also realizing how much going to college will actually cost, and…I either need to get a job or do some work for my dad some more.

But, I sort of got a job… I think I might’ve mentioned it once–my grandpa wrote his own history, and I edited it for him. Not necessarily a “real” job, but I did earn some money from it.


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).

Definitely did this! Well…not necessarily the 5 books a month, but I did read 60 books & add reviews for them. I read a lot more, too, but I went through a phase where I didn’t want to write reviews on Goodreads, so I didn’t…

At the moment, Goodreads says that I have read 74 books, though I assume what I actually read is somewhere in the range of 85-100, which makes me quite satisfied!


Blogging Goals:

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

Yeah, that didn’t happen. You may have noticed, but halfway through the year or so, I just got tired of blogging and didn’t do anything. However, I’m hoping to do better next year! (Posting less frequently, but more regularly.)

2. Keep the sidebar of my blog updated.

I think I need a sidebar that doesn’t need to be updated, hehe.


Writing Goals:

1. Complete the 365K challenge.

No…I did this for January, and then it all fell through once February began. I definitely haven’t done as much writing as I wanted to, and while I feel like it’s okay that I didn’t meet some of my goals, I’m sad that I didn’t write often or consistently.

2. Finish 3 novels, one of which has to be Enhanced.

I didn’t finish Enhanced, and technically I didn’t finish any novels, but I did write and finish my Iris novella, which is something that I’m really proud of! You can read excerpts here and here, if you’d like.

3. Start a maximum of 2 novels.

I have to think about this, but I might have actually done this one since I didn’t write as much this year, haha. I started (and finished) my Iris novella, and I started the MG dragon novel I mentioned in last year’s post for April Camp NaNo (and lost).

I also started Battle Song again, but since that was a second draft, it doesn’t really count, right?

4. Write a short story/flash fiction every month.

This did not happen. I think I might have written one short story this year…though I did start a couple of them, I think.



Thoughts on 2017 & Other Accomplishments

So, I clearly did not do very well on my goals (except for the reading one, haha), but…I feel pretty good about my year as a whole. Maybe it’s just rosy recollection, but I think I needed some time and space to spend more time on school and the people around me. So here’s some other accomplishments from the year:

  • I made some really awesome friends this year at school! And since one of the things I’ve struggled with for a long time is being shy, it feels so good to be around people who actually care about my opinion and want to be around me! Whenever I’m around them, I can’t help but thank God for the blessings He has given me.
  • I started “Becoming an Author” with Battle Song. I think I’ve only done two posts in this series, but hopefully it will continue in the future…or it will just become my entire outlook! I’ve become more focused on my writing and trying to improve with it, to make it actually something I can do in the future.
  • I applied to college! And I tried out for a music composition major, something I probably wouldn’t have done on my own, but my voice teacher encouraged me to. And even though I don’t know if that’s something I want to do, I feel good about reaching out a little more than I normally would.

There are probably other things, too, but I’m really only remembering the last few months or so–but they have been good months!

Now on to the New Year! Yay! *hands you some cookies to help you get through the rest of this post*



Goals for 2018

I want these goals to be slightly more ambiguous than the last two years’ have been. Not in a bad, vague way, but in a way that allows me to accomplish something good even if my perspective changes throughout the year. With this, I’m trying to keep it to only one goal per section as well!


Life Goal(s)

Learn how to live on my own. (See, kind of vague.) I’m planning on going to college next year and living on my own, even though I could probably still live at home, in order to help myself grow and learn new things, and so forth. So…I have to figure out how to do that (which kind of terrifies me)! And a lot of things could be involved with this, but that’s my main goal, so I’ll leave it at that.

Grow closer to God and more secure in my beliefs. I know I said I was keeping it to one per section, but I feel like this one is important enough that I need to add it in as well. This year, I feel like I’ve grown farther away from what I believe, and I know I need to do better.


Reading Goal

Read 60 books and review them on Goodreads. I know I’ll read more than that, but I think this is a good amount for me to actually review. I should probably also figure out how to use Goodreads as a sort of form of social media or something, but right now, I just use it as a way to track my books, and that’s okay.


Blogging Goal

Find out what I want to blog about, and do it consistently. I’ve spent a little bit of time deciding what it is I want to blog about and what I want to share with you all (basically I’m just going to talk about my writing every day, mwahaha). I don’t know how often I’ll post–maybe only twice a month or something–but I want to make it consistent and not have several-months-long breaks from blogging. Hopefully, though, I’ll be more excited about posting and post more often!


Writing Goal

Publish Battle SongI can’t accurately describe the tingly, nervous, and excited feeling that writing that goal down gives me! But I think that I can actually do it. I’m finally at a place where I think I care about writing in the right way to try to publish, and with a novel that is actually publishable. (I am so excited about Battle Song, by the way! Even though it can often be very confusing and frustrating.)

I want to try to traditionally publish first. If that doesn’t work, then I will self-publish, but the reason I shifted my focus from Enhanced to this novel is because it felt the most plausible to be able to be traditionally published, and I’m super excited to embark on this crazy adventure with it!



Let’s talk!

How did your year go? What were your best moments/accomplishments, and what are your top goals for 2018? Link to your New Year’s Resolutions posts once you’ve written them; I’d love to check them out! And what do you think about me trying to get Battle Song published? Crazy, exciting, or both?

Also, it’s been a while! How have you all been? Tell me about your Christmas and all the adventures you’ve had while I’ve been gone!

5 Random Updates

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I should make all my headers like this…it took me about three minutes. Then again, it’s rather uncreative. But it works in a pinch when you’re tired and want to go to bed.

Well, some of them are random, anyway. They’re less random and more rambly. I should’ve called it 5 Rambly Updates. So, I don’t know what to post about but I decided I should probably post before I leave on hiatus for a little bit.

So randomness/ramblyness (rambliness?) ensues.

#1: Update on Blogging & Hiatus

Okay, this isn’t random, really. But I’m going to be gone next week. *nods* And maybe longer than that because I don’t know what to blog about if I’m not writing regularly. And I haven’t been writing regularly. *hides in shame*

Also, I now have over 100 followers! Thank you, everyone, for reading. It means a lot that you read and (hopefully?) enjoy my blog!

#2: Update on Life

I’ve been thinking a lot about college and stuff and whyyy does it cost so much? Some days it seems so far away and I’m like, “Oh, I’ll just not worry about it,” and other days I’m so overwhelmed and I feel like I’ll never be ready. (I spend a lot of time between two conflicting emotions like that.)

I also don’t want to think about school, so I haven’t started my summer homework. And I have been procrastinating a lot recently. It’s a problem.

I read around 20 books in June…some have yet to see the light of a goodreads review, though. But I’m working on that. Actually, I’m reading rather than writing reviews. Probably not a good thing, but I’ll get around to them sometime.

#3: Update on Self Growth

Hm. Hopefully I’m not getting any taller, but I think I am getting better as a person. More or less. I don’t really know. I’ve been praying to have more charity, and it’s helped, but then I also have days where I get frustrated and take it out on everyone around me.

And I complain way too much. Any ideas? Say two things positive after every complaint?

#4: Update on Musicality

After all, this blog is called The Music of Words. So, what musicking have I been up to? Not much. I’ve been taking voice lessons but I haven’t practiced much since my last one…eep. So I know my voice is probably getting worse as I sit here, not singing.

But I’ve been playing the piano recently, not practicing, but at least playing. Mostly as a form of escapism from the world. I can’t escape through singing…it’s too much of me, I think. I know people hear it and they hear me. But when I play the piano, they hear the music and I hear the music, and I don’t have to worry about improving my voice or how I breathe or that I miss a few notes. I just play.

#5: Update on Writing

*sigh*

Yep, that’s a pretty good description on it’s own. Lots of sighing. Lots of glaring at myself in the mirror (and at my characters if I feel like it). Basically, I haven’t been writing much even though I’ve had time to, and that just makes me feel all guilty inside. Grrrrr.

Plus, Camp NaNo? Ha! Especially since I’m going on hiatus. I’m going to lose again. And it’s because I’m too lazy to write.

But I have made some progress on Battle Song! I’m at a grand total of 8,570 words so far and I’m having a lot of fun exploring the world and some of the magic of the world. (The mers can do magical stuff through singing, which is so fun to play around with. And traumatize Amrya with.)

I want to talk to you about it! Though I’m not entirely sure what to talk about…what do you want to hear about? Characters? Plot? Setting? A Spotlight with an excerpt or snippets? What I’m struggling with? I don’t know, you tell me what you want to hear. I’ll try to oblige, unless inspiration suddenly strikes…


Alrighty, there’s my updates & basically my tired, late night version of a monthly wrap-up post. (What happened to the Dares? I don’t know. I would still like to do them, but the posts took a long time to write, and I never seemed to accomplish much.)

Anyway, how have you been? Any updates you want to share with me? Tell me how your writing is going or what thoughts have been on your mind lately during life. Do you play an instrument or sing? How do you feel about music?

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!

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!

happiness jealous world header.png


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!

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!

march review header

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.

april reading header

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!

april writing header

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.)

april goals header

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!

april reading header

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.)

april blogging header

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.

april writing header

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!

Monthly Dares: March 2017

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Yay, March! It’s been a little while since I posted, and I’m a bit late for March, but that’s okay! It’s never too late to make new dares. If you’re new here, you may be wondering what monthly dares are? They’re inspired by the fabulous Kellyn Roth @ Reveries, and basically you set goals for the next month and dare yourself to do them! My twist on it is that most of my goals help me to achieve my New Year’s Resolutions throughout 2017. You can check out February’s post here. Let’s begin!

*NYR indicates that the goal is part of a New Year’s Resolution.

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Overall, February was kind of bleh. Some parts of it were great…other parts of it were not so great. But I did learn some new things and have decided to trust in God more and turn my life over to Him, which was awesome. Anyway…here are my results!

 

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1. (NYR) Read my scriptures every morning & pray morning and night. Pretty good! Basically, the same as last month, which is that I read my scriptures every day and prayed almost every day. However, there’s a lot of room for improvement in regards to actually getting something out of it…but I did get a new scripture journal, and the other night I felt really close to my Heavenly Father as I was praying, which was wonderful.

2. (NYR) Write in my journal at least 23 times (since 23 is my favorite number)! More or less. Well, more on the less side, actually. I only wrote 11 times…but at least I wrote several entries that were more than one page. That’s pretty impressive in and of itself.

3. (NYR) Research the colleges in my state and see which ones I’d most like to go to. Not really. I did think about college a lot, though! And this was partly I’ve already basically decided where I want to go to for college…now I just have to get a good enough ACT score to get a decent scholarship. *crosses fingers*

4. Study for five minutes every night for the ACT. I did okay with this goal. I didn’t do it every night, and I’m definitely not feeling ready to take the ACT in just a few days, but the fact that I did study is great! And after I take the ACT the first time, I’m going to study more and get good enough to get a really high score on it.

5. (NYR) Get my driver’s license! Seriously! Failure. I didn’t even drive. No more on this subject…I don’t want to dwell on the pain of this procrastination.

6. (NYR) Finish my online class and take the test and BE DONE WITH IT. Nope… I got an extension for the class and I have to be finished and take the test next week. Which totally explains why I haven’t done any assignments for it today… *hides in shame*

7. (NYR) Do at least 1 hour of service once a week, and try to do one small act of service every day. *dies* *slowly* Well, I was feeling positive at the beginning of the post. Okay, so I didn’t do any huge service stuff. But I did, on the other hand, do some small little service. But nothing deserving green, or even yellow, text.

8. Keep track of the chores I do so that I can actually get paid for them. Work for Dad for at least a couple of hours to get back in the groove. Yeah! At least for the first part. I didn’t really do all that many chores, though, so I think I’ll have to alter this goal again to meet my needs.

9. Floss every night. I’m rockin’ this one! Still not every night, but I think I did better this month than in January. Like, it’s even starting to be a habit and it’s quick and pretty much painless even when I’m super tired.

10. Sing at least 4x every week to practice for my weekly voice lessons. Hm…not my best. I think I sang more in January. I was busier this month, but that’s not really an excuse. I think I sang an average of 2 times a week. Maybe 1.8 or something like that.

11. Finish Personal Progress! No. I didn’t even really work on it. I have to finish sewing this quilt and it’s going to be the death of me. (Not really, but how come it’s so hard to arrange blocks in the right place?)

12. Get off the computer by 9 p.m. at least half the time. Hopefully this will help me to get to bed sooner…? This never happened. It might have happened once. And I also didn’t get to bed sooner, either. *marks this goal for review as well*

13. Do at least 20 minutes every week of Spanish practice with Duolingo. Grrrrr. I did it for one out of the four weeks. So that’s something, at least. And I went to Spanish class as well… Okay, okay, I’ll try to do better next month.

14. Hand write a letter and mail it to someone. *sighs* This didn’t happen. I mean, I thought about it, and I thought of who I’d want to write too, but it didn’t happen. I just need to buckle down and do it!

15. Make a meal for the family at least once. *sighs again* Nope.

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1. (NYR) Read 5 books this month. Awww yeah! I read 7 books this month! Not quite as good as last month’s ten books, but still above my goal!

2. (NYR) Write reviews for the said 5 books on Goodreads. Mostly. I’ve written reviews for three of them, and the reviews for the other four (plus the one I read today, in March) will be coming eventually! I’m kind of excited to write my review for The Hunger Games because after I finished it, I was analyzing all of these writerly things and why it was a bestseller and such. No promises that I’ll remember all of my thoughts by the time I write the review, but I’ll try my best. You can find my Goodreads page here, and I actually have a profile pic now! It’s the same one I use everywhere online, but still, it’s not a blank face anymore.

3. At least one has to be a book that someone has recommended or that is on my TBR. Check! I read Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. After watching the anime for a second time, I decided I wanted to read the book. I loved it and I shall also be writing a review of that soon!

4. Read at least 200 pages more in The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1) by Robert Jordan. Well, no. But I decided that if I don’t enjoy reading something, what’s the point of reading it? So I’m probably going to just stop reading this anyway because I can’t even convince myself to open it up anymore.

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1. (NYR) Write at least 6 blog posts this month. Pretty darn close. I wrote five blog posts, and in actuality, I did write a sixth one on the last day of the month so that I could achieve that goal, but I decided not to publish it because of Goal #3 in this section. I didn’t feel like you’d love the post, so I decided it wasn’t worth posting.

2. Make a graphic for each post, like I’ve been doing. Yep! No more to say here.

3. Blog what I want to and don’t feel pressured about it. Yes, I did this! And it’s been really great, but I have been thinking about blogging recently and I realized that my blog, at the moment, probably only appeals to writers. I believe once people start reading and enjoying my books, they’d love to read it more, but at the moment my posts mainly only help writers, and that’s the audience I’m getting.

But as an author, I need more of an audience of readers…so my thoughts now are: how do I draw in people to my blog who’d be interested in reading my books while staying true to myself and enjoying blogging? What kind of posts would I enjoy doing that would accomplish this? Do you have any ideas for me?

4. (NYR) Keep the sidebar updated, especially the word count for Enhanced. Well… There wasn’t all that much to update.

5. Make the Zel page. Also, think about making a resources page sharing what you’re learning about self-publishing and stuff. I don’t think so. I mean, a goal to think about things isn’t a very good goal…but I definitely didn’t make the Zel page (bad llama!) and I didn’t think all that much about making a resources page. But I did think about it once or twice, so maybe that counts for something?

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1. (NYR) Write 28,000 words this month (1k every day) and keep track on it on the 365K spreadsheet. Ha. Ha. No. My spreadsheet is horribly sad. I wrote a pitiful 11,116 in February. Basically, I didn’t write 2/3 of the time. *flails and wails*

2. (NYR) Write 30,000 words in Enhanced. Even worse. I think I wrote something like 6k in Enhanced this month. On the other hand, I did get past a major problem I had with it, but I’m still finding it hard to get back into the story again.

3. (NYR) Write a short story or flash fiction. *growls at self* No. I did work a little bit on a short story, but I didn’t come close to finishing it.

4. Finish the short story from last month. Nope. Nada. Nothing. Didn’t even think about it.

5. Write another chapter in TC. *melts because melting seems like the appropriate response* I think I opened up the document once…but I didn’t write a thing.

6. Force my friend (a different friend than from #5) to write her part in the CN (a different collaborative novel), so that we can finally finish it. YAS. A wonderful, glorious YAS. Because it was very hard, but it finally did happen! Now I just need to force her to write just one more part, and then I’ll write one and the book shall be done with!

7. Research cover-making and the important aspects of it, since that’s definitely a major point with self-publishing. Yeah, a bit. I did do some research; I read a couple of articles, found some more self-publishing articles, etc. I still do have more to learn, though, but I did pretty good at this part of the goal.

8. Along with #7, create at least five covers using what I’ve learned, at least one of which I have to be proud of. Not yet. I’ve only made one cover so far (which I’m not terribly proud of), but I want to continue doing this in March and give you a nice post at the end about what I learned and sharing & critiquing the covers I made–yay!

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This is a new section where I can share the awesome things that I did that weren’t in my goals! Yay! So, here’s a short list of some of the things I did:

  • I was more social! Which led to me getting asked out on a fun date. (I mean, I’d already known the guy for many years, but I know that being more talkative made the difference.) I’m really getting into the social aspect of Social Dance class. I’ve made several new friends, and I’m improving in my skills with talking to guys!
  • I went to a three day writing conference, which was amazing! Seriously, there are so many things that I learned that I want to try and to share with you. My dad took me and I skipped school to go listen to authors talk on different subjects. This is part of what inspired me to finally get over the stuff that I was having problems with in Enhanced.
  • I went to a family history fair thing and now I want to learn stories about my ancestors.
  • I turned 17! Yay! I got a coloring book and gel pens, a Brandon Sanderson book, a jacket, and a lovely new scripture study journal!
  • I decided on my birthday that I would turn my life over to God and let Him be the one who takes control and guides me. I’ve been hearing all over the place in seminary and in church that He will help me with my goals and to become the best I can be. And yes, I’ve failed many times every day since then, but I know that when I have relied on Him, He’s helped me. It’s amazing.

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Now onto March and my dares for this month! Everyone cross your fingers that I’ll be able to achieve them!

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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.

2. (NYR) Write in my journal at least 20 times! This gets lower every month…I guess I’m just waiting for a goal that I will actually reach.

3. (NYR) Research the colleges in my state and see which ones I’d most like to go to.

4. Take the ACT!

5. (NYR) Get my driver’s license! Or at least work on it.

6. (NYR) Finish my online class! This one is happening this month no matter how much I procrastinate, thank goodness.

7. (NYR) Find service to do, and do it! My cousin told me about this project people were doing in her neighborhood where they crocheted afghans, and I do love crocheting, so I think I’ll ask her for the pattern.

8. Do my chores more often (every day, if possible)! Work for Dad at least 10 hours this month–money goes toward college.

9. Floss every night.

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

11. Finish Personal Progress…I know I have to get this one done…I just have to!

12. Get enough sleep so that you don’t die the next morning. (a.k.a. get 8 hours of sleep.)

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

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

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

16. Learn a story about an ancestor.

mar-reading

1. (NYR) Read 5 books this month

2. (NYR) Write reviews for the said 5 books on Goodreads + reviews from last month.

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

4. Read something edifying or knowledge-giving. (Yeah, I don’t even know what that means either.)

mar-blogging

1. (NYR) Write at least 6 blog posts this month. (Wahoo, 1/6 of the way there!) 5

2. Continue making graphics (because this is one of the easier goals to keep).

3. Come up with five blog post ideas that I would enjoy writing but are not just about my book or about writing advice.

4. (NYR) Keep the sidebar updated, especially the word count for Enhanced. Add a “Scripture of the Week” section?

5. Seriously, just write a couple of bleh paragraphs on the Zel page. That’s better than having nothing there.

6. Reach out to other bloggers! Comment on 5 people’s blogs that I’ve never commented on before.

mar-writing

1. (NYR) Write 40,000 words this month (1k+ every day) and keep track on it on the 365K spreadsheet.

2. (NYR) Write 40,000 words in Enhanced. This one I think is kind of crazy. 40k is a lot even in NaNo months, but I do need to catch up from last month. If I really do write 1k every day, I think the excess that I write will add up to 40k total (though maybe not in Enhanced necessarily).

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

4. Write another chapter in TC. Don’t let the story dieee!

6. Force my friend to write her last part in the CN. We’re so close!

7. 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.

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February was kind of a crazy month, and writing-wise, I did pretty badly. Again, reading was one of my best, but blogging also had a definite improvement from last month! And life was about the same as last month. So the takeaway: I can do better! I want to really take a positive outlook on this and actually do better next month! Hmm…maybe I can find some way to measure how well I did each month and compare…

Anyway, I just want to keep trying again and again! I think that is the most important thing to do. No matter how many mistakes I make or how much I want to growl at myself for how I did this month, I can always try again! And that’s what I’ll continue to do.



What are your thoughts? How did your February go? Are you excited for another chance to try again and start over? What are some of your goals for March? I want to hear about them, so link me to your posts or just tell me! What posts are you most excited for this month and what new ones do you think I should introduce? How should I do better at blogging? I would love your advice!

Thank you all for reading! You are amazing!

Rambles on Writing #2: Things Are Looking Up

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In my last post, Rambles on Writing #1, I talked about how everything in my novel seemed to be falling apart and I didn’t know how to write it and the plot was terrible and blah blah blah all of my complaining. So a big THANK YOU to everyone who encouraged, advised, supported, and commiserated with me in response.

I said I wanted my next post to be more happy and so it is! I am much more happy. There are still things to work on (like maybe actually writing something in Enhanced, but I figured out most of the problem and kind of how to fix it. (I found more problems, too, but mainly smaller ones.)

The main problem with my plot, I realized, was that none of my characters really changed. I’d made all of these lovely little plots for them to go through and struggle with, but they weren’t really struggling because the plots didn’t really affect them.

First of all, I added in the moralistic dimension that my writing had been missing. Obviously, you don’t want a book to end with, “And that’s why you should always…” because that isn’t going to change people. But if you can write a book with inspiring characters and play with the reader’s emotions, then they can learn a lesson from it and apply it to them. That wasn’t happening before, but hopefully it will now.

For that, I wrote down a list of a lot of the life lessons that I’ve learned (or should have learned) and a lot of them just fit with characters. Like, “You can’t change other people, so change yourself,” goes definitely to Taira. And Kai’s is clearly, “Heroism means integrity. You have to keep to your standards no matter the situation or justification,” which is possibly my favorite one.

Some of the others were tricky, like with Will or Bennett, but I figured them out. (“You can make a difference” and “if you work hard enough, you can accomplish anything,” respectively.)

Then I took the plot and altered it just slightly so that it would affect all of them personally. Since Meryn is so separated from the rest of them and really isn’t participating in the main plot, she was the main problem, so I spent a couple pages figuring out why their plan would affect her.

And now I’m feeling much better about the plot. There’s still so much to do, but at least I know where I’m going and why it’ll affect the character and so hopefully I have enough to get back to writing on.

I may do a very short and basic outline so that I can figure out what I’m already supposed to have written and included, but I might not and instead just continue where I left off with the better plot. *shrugs*

Anyway, I know this is a rather short and bland post, but, hey, things are working out more and I’m feeling happy about the development I’ve done, so I figured that was worth sharing. (Don’t worry, I’ll have some more exciting posts after this busy weekend.)


Oh, and before the questions at the end of this post, here’s a quick update on blogging that I forgot to post a week or two ago-I’ve gotten to a thousand comments! The thousandth comment was done by Kellyn Roth, who well-deserved this honor due to her many comments on my blog (somewhere around 150 by now. Actually, I lied–nearly 200 comments!). Thank you all for all of your comments and your conversation with me! It’s been lots of fun.


How has your writing been coming along? Have you had any breakthroughs like I have had, are you stuck in writer’s block, or are you still just breezing along with amazing skills? I would love to hear about all of your novels–go ahead, ramble!

Monthly Dares: February 2017

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I feel like February is a really purple-colored month…don’t you?

It’s time for the second Monthly Dares installment, inspired by the illustrious Kellyn Roth @ Reveries! If you want to read last month’s post, you can find it here, but I’ll be reviewing my goals from last month in this post, so you could survive without reading it. (But, you know, if you want more of me, then you should probably read it.)

Monthly Dares are monthly goals that you make for yourself. Each month you review how you did on last month’s goals and make goals for the next month. I also use it to keep track of my New Year’s Resolutions. Sounds fun, right? So, without further ado, let us begin!

*NYR stands for New Year’s Resolution



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Life Goals:

1. (NYR) Read my scriptures every morning & pray morning and night. Yeah! Well, mostly. I did really great on reading my scriptures every day, but that’s not really surprising considering that I already did that every day. Praying, on the other hand…I actually did better in the morning than during the night, which is kind of crazy. I’ve just been really tired this month and I went to bed a lot without praying. Bad llama.

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. Well… I definitely did not miss only four days. I think I probably ended up only writing half of the time or maybe a little more. But considering my record for December, that was an improvement!

3. (NYR) Research different college majors I’m interested in, and research at least one in-state college. Yeah…. No. Actually, I did look into the majors at one of the colleges I’m interested in, and I did decide that I probably want to minor in Creative Writing! However, I do not want to major in English…the only exciting classes there are the Creative Writng ones. So yeah, I have no idea what I’d want to major in.

4. Study at least 2 hours (30 min a week) for the pre-college test. Not really. You can see my success rate steadily declining as I go down the list… I did study 30 minutes, once. However, I have a different idea for this next month, so hopefully there’ll be some improvement there.

5. (NYR) Get my driver’s license! Not even close. I don’t even think I drove at all this month, let alone practiced or took my test or any of that. So nope. And I don’t even really have an excuse.

6. (NYR) Catch up on my online class, which probably means doing 1 assignment every school day. Um… Yeah, this didn’t really happen. In fact, I’ll probably have to ask for an extension considering how far I still have to go. I did work on it a little bit, but in no way did I “catch up.”

7. (NYR) Do at least 1 hour of service once a week, and try to do one small act of service every day. Pretty good. I did an hour of service every week except one. I shoveled snow, helped clean my church, and tied blankets for refugees! I don’t think I did as well at doing a small act of service every day…but there’s always next month!

8. Earn some money by doing at least 12 hours of work for my dad over the month (3 hours a week). Nope. I didn’t do this at all. Granted, the Christmas tree is still in the way of the desk I use to do it, but…that’s not really an excuse.

9. Floss every night. Improvement! I didn’t do it every night, but I definitely improved. I did 5 to 6 nights every week, which is awesome.

10. Sing at least 4x every week to practice for my weekly voice lessons. Not quite. I averaged about 3 practices a week, which is okay, but I didn’t reach my goal.

11. Do at least 2 hours (30 minutes a week) of Personal Progress. Semi-decent. I probably did an hour on it total, but I didn’t really feel like I got much done… I need to start working on my quilt since I want to finish all of my Personal Progress by the end of the month.

12. Go to bed before 10 p.m. at least 15 times this month. Ha. Ha. I think this might have happened twice. Well, maybe three or four when I was so tired that I just fell asleep. However, I only went to bed after midnight twice, so…I mainly stayed in the range of 10-11 p.m. Not good, but not super bad either. Okay, maybe it is super bad, considering how tired I am.

13. Do at least 2 hours (30 minutes a week) of Spanish practice with Duolingo. Basically not. I did about 20 minutes the entire month.

14. Hand write a letter and mail it to someone. No, unfortunately. I didn’t ever feel like I had the time, even though I probably did…

15. Try updating Habitica every day and see if it helps me to keep these goals. Awww yeah. (Studio C reference, anyone?) I’m still going strong on Habitica and it’s really helped me so far! It’s the reason for me flossing more and that I actually wrote in my journal as much as I did. So yay!

Reading Goals:

1. (NYR) Read 5 books this month. Done and done! I actually read 10 books this month, which was awesome! I think having this goal and knowing I needed to read books this month led to me reading a lot but also not feeling super overwhelmed.

2. (NYR) Write reviews for the said 5 books on Goodreads. Yep! I reviewed 9 out of the 10 books…if you want to check them out, here’s my Goodreads page!

3. At least one has to be one that I’ve started but not yet finished. Technically… I read The Archived by Victoria Schwab, which I technically started in December, but that wasn’t my intention behind the goal. I didn’t finish anything that I’d been reading for a really long time like ADSOM or the first Wheel of Time book.

4. Make a Goodreads goal of 60 books for this year. Check! That one was pretty easy.

Blogging Goals:

1. (NYR) Write at least 6 blog posts this month. Almost. I only wrote four posts, but that’s okay. I was happy with the blog posts that I posted.

2. (NYR) Keep the sidebar updated, especially the word count for Enhanced. Yep. Basically the only thing I did was updated Enhanced’s word count, though…I probably should’ve done something more, like take off Battle Song since I’m not currently working on it right now.

3. Create the page for the Zel novel. Oops. I kind of forgot about this…? So no, it didn’t happen.

4. Make pretty graphics for at least 3 of the posts. Yes! I made a graphic for every one of those four posts and I’m happy with them.

Writing Goals:

1. (NYR) Write 31,000 words this month (1k every day) and keep track on it on the 365K spreadsheet. I scraped through… I did write 31k in the month (barely), and I did keep track of it, but I didn’t write 1k every day. Still, I got the 31k, and that was the most important part.

2. (NYR) Write 30,000 words in Enhanced. I tried… I ended up writing about 25,000, which is pretty good. Thankfully, I’d already written 10k of it before 2017 began, so I do have a little bit of leeway. If I actually had written every day, I probably would’ve gotten there, but the days I skipped were hard.

3. (NYR) Write a short story or flash fiction. *nervous laughter* I didn’t start on this until the end of the month (procrastination for the win!) but I did end up planning a short story out and writing ~500 words in it. I still need to finish it, though.

4. Write a chapter in TC, a novel that I’m writing with a friend that should no longer be abandoned. Definitely. Well, technically, I finished a chapter I’d started, but it only had a couple hundred words in it, so it was basically like writing a chapter. I also got excited about it again! Which is a good thing.

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. I wish. I got her to write a couple of paragraphs, but it didn’t end up happening. Of course, this one is not entirely under my control, but it’s still frustrating.

6. Ask friends & other bloggers about self-publishing vs. traditional publishing to get a better outlook on it. Yep! I rambled about it a bit for one of my posts (Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing) and I’ve done a little bit of research beyond that. Currently, I’m leaning toward self-publishing, but still doing research on both.



Whew, there’s the review! I learned a lot from this month, and I have a couple of new ideas to try for this month’s goals, which are coming right up!



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

2. (NYR) Write in my journal at least 23 times (since 23 is my favorite number)!

3. (NYR) Research the colleges in my state and see which ones I’d most like to go to.

4. Study for five minutes every night for the ACT. I think this simpler, shorter time frame will work better for me to actually study. Besides, people always say that studying every night helps more than studying a lot one night.

5. (NYR) Get my driver’s license! Seriously!

6. (NYR) Finish my online class and take the test and BE DONE WITH IT.

7. (NYR) Do at least 1 hour of service once a week, and try to do one small act of service every day. I thoroughly approve of this goal, so I’ll keep it how it is.

8. Keep track of the chores I do so that I can actually get paid for them. Work for Dad for at least a couple of hours to get back in the groove.

9. Floss every night.

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

11. Finish Personal Progress!

12. Get off the computer by 9 p.m. at least half the time. Hopefully this will help me to get to bed sooner…?

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

14. Hand write a letter and mail it to someone. I still definitely want to do this one.

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

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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 a book that someone has recommended or that is on my TBR.

4. Read at least 200 pages more in The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1) by Robert Jordan. I’m kind of struggling with finishing this book…at this rate, I might finish it by the end of 2017.

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

2. Make a graphic for each post, like I’ve been doing.

3. Blog what I want to and don’t feel pressured about it. I’m starting to learn what sort of blog posts I like writing the best, and so I want to write more of those and not feel pressured to write any other things. Which is why schedules don’t work for me.

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

5. Make the Zel page. Also, think about making a resources page sharing what you’re learning about self-publishing and stuff.

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1. (NYR) Write 28,000 words this month (1k every day) and keep track on it on the 365K spreadsheet.

2. (NYR) Write 30,000 words in Enhanced. This will be even harder this month, since there’s only 28 days…but we’ll see how I do!

3. (NYR) Write a short story or flash fiction.

4. Finish the short story from last month.

5. Write another chapter in TC, a novel that I’m writing with a friend.

6. 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. I’m really working on this one. I’m even bribing her with cute shippy scenes that she can read as soon as she writes it.

7. Research cover-making and the important aspects of it, since that’s definitely a major point with self-publishing.

8. Along with #7, create at least five covers using what I’ve learned, at least one of which I have to be proud of.



So, what did I learn this month? My main takeaway was that I need to print off my dares! I forgot about several of them throughout the month and just focused on the main ones instead of trying to work on all of them. Because of this, a lot of time that could have been spent productively was instead used to procrastinate. This month, I’m definitely going to do better, especially with my life goals.

What was I proud of? I’m really proud with my reading goals this month–did you see all of that green? They were awesome.

What do I need to work on next month? I need to work on doing the little things more–like the handwritten letter or the Duolingo. That stuff is harder because it’s not done every day and so I need to focus more on it.



How has your January been? What have you accomplished? Do you have any posts about January? Link me to them–I’d love to read them! What are your goals for February?