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?

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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.

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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’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!

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?

Giving Good Critique: The Oreo Method

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I haven’t written an advice-y post in ages. So I decided to write one on something I feel is very important–giving good critique. Critique is actually one of the most helpful things in the world, and being able to accept critique and constructive criticism is a good quality to have.

But also important is to be able to give critique to other people in a way that encourages and motivates them, while still being useful. In the example of sharing a piece of writing, though saying “OHMYGOSH I LOVED IT!!!!” does give a little thrill of happiness to the author, it doesn’t help them improve much. Likewise, being told, “I liked it, but this and this and this and this could have been done better,” is just discouraging.

So let’s find a happy medium: the Oreo Method. Now, I actually heard this called a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, but I decided that I’d apply it to writing using Oreos instead, because I like those better. Yum yum yum.

So, what is the Oreo Method? Well, it goes like this:

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Essentially, the idea is to sandwich the constructive criticism inside of constructive flailing over awesomeness. Which may sound like we’re trying to hide the parts that weren’t so good–but we’re not! The inside of the oreo is just as delicious as the outside, which brings me to another point.

The funny thing is that telling about the awesome parts can be just as useful as telling about the potential-for-awesomeness parts, if you do it right. If you say, “I loved it all it was just like a real book!” that’s not as helpful as something like, “I loved the way you described the setting in this paragraph because it felt really vivid, like I was actually there.” Telling people where and what the good parts are is just as helpful as telling them where they could improve.

Should we do an example now? I’m feeling like it’s time to do an example. This is an excerpt from a book I started writing last April, tentatively titled The Blade. I chose it since I think there are a number of things that are both good and can be improved. Let’s look at it:

Sometimes I wished I wasn’t the Blade, that I could be just a normal girl with a normal life sewing and cooking and whatever else normal girls did. But whenever I thought of that, I remembered what Efron had told me that day.

Everyone knew he was growing older, the gray starting to show in his thinning hair, and without a heir, they all wanted him to choose a new Blade. They lined up rows of their young boys, trying to impress him.

I’d watched from my perch in a tree as the man I knew only as the Blade then inspected each of the boys, every one of them standing perfectly still. The process was boring, but there was something about the Blade that interested me. The way he moved, the way he spoke…everything about him was powerful and strong.

As Efron neared the end of the row of the boys, everyone watching shifted uncomfortably. How long would it take him to choose the next Blade? They’d been through thousands of boys already from all over Scronna, traveling miles for their own chance. The Blade passed by every single one of them.

At the end of the line, he shook his head. Angry murmurs ran through the crowd. Why didn’t he just choose the next one already? Why didn’t he do what needed to be done? He was a fool to keep not choosing anyone. Soon, there would be no boys left.

I scrambled out of the tree, hoping to catch a better glimpse of the Blade through the crowd. In my trousers and tunic, I probably looked more like a boy than a girl, aside from the two braids of hair that ran down my back.

Falling in step next to him, I felt like I had accomplished everything. I had something to boast over any other child ­–I’d walked right next to the Blade. And now I would talk to him. “Hello, Blade.”

“Efron,” he corrected, then glanced down at me. “Who are you?”

“My name’s Riven, if that’s what you’re asking,” I said. “How come you aren’t choosing any of those boys to be the next Blade?”

He glanced back at the boys who were now struggling to find their parents in the crowd. “None of them fit the qualifications for being the Blade. You have to be something extra special to be it. And these boys, they’re all the same. They’ve all been trained the same way. They’ll all become Knives, and some may become Rapiers. The Blade needs someone different than that.”

“Like what?” I asked, not really sure where he was walking to, but content to follow him anyway. I had nowhere better to be.

“I need someone who’s different. Someone who’s not content to just be normal.” Then he looked over at me again. “Let’s get you home now. Where do you live?”

Home. Such a foreign term. I twisted one of my braids between my fingers, wondering if he’d be the one to understand what no one else had understood. “This is where I live,” I said, gesturing to the open air around us. “I sleep under the stars.” The stars were beautiful, spreading across the sky like speckles on the coat of a dapple gray horse.

“You sleep on the ground?”

“Most of the time. If the wolves are nearby then I’ll sleep in the trees sometimes,” I said, watching him intently, waiting for the moment where he’d tell me I needed a home and a mother and a real place to sleep.

“But you have nowhere to stay? I thought no one lived on the streets. Surely someone could take you in and­­–”

I folded my arms. “Yes, someone could. I’d rather stay out here, and I don’t live on the streets. I live outside of towns, where the grass grows wild and the wind is so strong it can blow you right over if you’re not careful.” My hands were already unfolded, gesturing away. I had been so passionate about it that I could never stay angry at anyone for long, not while I was trying to explain it to them, anyway.

“You’d rather stay outside than in a house?”

“Why not? I’ve never had a home, and I’ve never had anyone to love either. I love the grass and the trees and the sky and the stars…and that’s enough for me.”

Efron gave me a small smile. “I have a preposition for you, Riven.”

“What is it? Don’t try to make me live with someone or anything like that. I could never stand that, ever.”

“I want you to be the next Blade.” He said it straight out, without a single moment of hesitation. It was so unexpected that it caught me completely off guard. “But I’m a girl.” There had never been a Blade who was a girl, ever.

He looked me in the eyes, crouching down so we were at the exact same level, like we were equals. “But you’re not a normal girl. You’ll never be the kind of girl who will stay inside without taking a chance at a fight. You have too much fire in you for that.”

Now that we’ve read the excerpt, it’s time to form our critique, starting with the top of the oreo–some awesomeness. Usually for the first one, I choose an overall thing I liked, or a specific thing near the beginning so that the critique flows in some sort of close to chronological order. Once I choose that part, I start writing the critique around that.

I really liked it! I think it has an interesting premise and I like the interesting tidbits of world building that you show–the Blade is the name of the country’s leader! And Efron says that people will grow up to be Knives, or maybe Rapiers. I’m not exactly sure what those are but it sounds like this country is all about fighting and I think that’s super interesting.

There’s the top of the oreo, where I shared some stuff that I thought was awesome. Next comes the filling, things that could be improved. You might have noticed that throughout this post I have completely avoided using the word “bad” to describe these parts, because even if they are that, we don’t want to focus on that. We want to focus on their potential to become as awesome as the other parts, and how that could be achieved. Usually I put the biggest issue I see in the first slot…for no reason, really. It doesn’t really matter which improvement you select from the excerpt at which time, aside from the flow of the critique.

One thing I was a little confused about was why Efron chose her to be the Blade. Though I think she does make a good Blade, we hardly see any of her personality in this section, and I don’t think what she talks about would really warrant him choosing her–especially if he didn’t pick someone out of thousands of boys. I think an experience that shows her potential for fighting skill or leadership would make it more realistic.

Okay, now for the next part of the oreo, some more awesomeness on the outside. I usually try to make it relate on at least some level with the constructive criticism, so that the transition isn’t jarring.

Aside from that, I thought the parts of her personality you did show were fun. I loved getting to see Riven when she was little! Her conversation with Efron amused me, especially the fact that she felt so proud to be next to the Blade despite the fact he had just walked past a whole line of other children. I liked the style of the flashback too, how most of it was in Riven’s current voice, but the actions still conveyed younger Riven’s personality.

The fun part about this method is that you can either stop there, or it can go on forever. You can either make an oreo stack (awesome, improve, awesome, awesome, improve, awesome) or a double or triple or quadruple decker oreo sandwich (awesome, improve, awesome, improve, awesome). I just choose whichever one flows better. I’ll do a double decker for this one.

I don’t really understand why she would have lived in the wild and not wanted to have a home and a family. It seems like part of her really longs to have love and acceptance, so why not when she was younger? Also, she must have had a family at some point–she couldn’t have just grown up there. Maybe she finds this out later?

Anyway, I can tell that she does love it because of the way she describes it. The way she talks about the wind and how she compares the stars to a dapple gray horse just feels magical, and almost makes me want to drive into the middle of nowhere and have a campout. 🙂

I could continue and go more in-depth…but because of the length of this monstrosity of a post, I’m gonna stop now. Sometimes when I close, I sneak on another awesome thing I liked, but otherwise I thank them for letting me read it. It’s hard to put your own writing out there, and they deserve a thank you for their courage.

I really enjoyed getting to read this. Thank you so much for sharing it!

And…there’s the end of my critique! Thank you for reading through this ginormous post (if you made it all the way through alive, hehe) and I hope it helps you with your critiques!


What do you think? I was going to post another piece of my writing and have you practice, but I have a better idea! In the comments, post a short excerpt of writing (probably try to do no more than 300 words, since it’s just in the comments) or share a link to some of your posted writing. Then, look through the other comments and practice by giving the other commenters a short oreo critique on their writing! It shall be much fun! 😀

Blogging Evaluation Thingy

I didn’t know what to title this, so…yeah, it’s a “thingy”. Lately I haven’t been having too much inspiration for blog posts, and while it might just be doing Camp NaNo with Cryonic that’s been stealing all my creativity from me, I want to take a look at how I’ve been doing blogging–and mainly, what you’d like to happen on it.

First off, I want to talk about some of my blogging accomplishments! One of them is just starting a blog in general. I always thought it would be cool to start a blog, but when I actually started it, it was even cooler than I imagined! One of the biggest reasons for this is because of you. At the beginning I was kind of just amazed that people would want to read what I’m writing. Now, I have more than 900 views, I’ve written 35 posts, have 19 followers, and 423 comments! That is amazing, and it’s all because of you. Pat yourself on the back and give yourself some chocolate.

And since you’re reading all of this stuff, I’d like youopinion on what you want to see on this blog. Obviously, you won’t be forcing me to do anything, but I’d like this to be enjoyable for both of us.

So, what have you liked/not liked so far? What would you like to see more/less of? To jog your memory, here are some of the things I’ve done blog posts about:

  • Writing stuff related to music stuff (I feel like I haven’t done one of these in forever)
  • Short stories/poetry/other writing-y stuff
  • Advice and stuff I’ve learned about through my current writing projects
  • Randomness (blog tags, random facts about me, etc.)
  • Character interviews
  • The occasional ramble about my novel/plot bunnies I’ve had
  • Book review
  • Annnddd…I think that’s about it, actually.

Also, are there any things that you would absolutely love to read about that I haven’t really done yet? (Or just things you’d like to hear, that works too.)

So it’s sort of an evaluation thingy for myself. I accept constructive criticism and suggestions as well as praise and would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my ramblings!