Monthly Dares: April 2017

dares april 2017.png

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!

april life header.jpg

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?

april blogging header.jpg

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.

april other awesomeness.jpg

  • 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.


april learned.jpg

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!

Rambles on Writing

screenshot-2017-02-13-at-4-31-56-pm

There have been so many thoughts going through my mind recently about writing and my writing journey, so this probably isn’t really going to be a post about Enhanced like I was planning for it to be. (But that’s okay, one of my February dares was to blog what I want to, so I will.) But I will give you a status update on it! And hopefully a post about it soon.

Current Word Count: About 38,350-ish. The exact count should be on the sidebar. Which is about 32% of my goal. I think that’s around where the plot is…*shrugs*

But the problem is that I’m starting to get bored of it… I love my characters and talking about them, but right now I feel like the plot is really…suffering. I mean, I have a plot, but it’s not very prevalent, and the whole book is very character-heavy so far without much action. The first draft of Enhanced was basically the opposite–all action and no character development, so I know I need to find a balance between the two.

The thing is, I’m not sure how long it will take me to find that balance. Do I work on developing that for a little while instead of actually writing so that I can try to fix it, or do I finish this draft because I want to finish it and move onto other things? Don’t get me wrong, I still love the novel, I just…I’m tired of it, like I said.

Another problem is that I’m not sure how to fix it. I’m sure I’ll figure it out eventually, but I don’t know how to get to that point without totally changing the plot and maybe even the characters again. I thought I’d had the right plot this time, but now, writing it, it seems way too character-heavy…but maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be…gah, I don’t know.

So because of that, I’m instead working on this really dark short story that I started a long time ago with lots of characters who are devious and murder each other. Fun, right? I do enjoy it, but I keep adding more characters and it’s getting longer and longer…already it’s over 15 pages… *nervous laughter*

But when I finish that, I’ll be looking for some people to read it and tell me what they think about it, so if you like the sound of it, then keep that in mind. (Of course, I could procrastinate on the story again for a few months and not come back to it for a while, so don’t get too excited.)

And then…well, I decided to get over my fear of sharing my writing with my family and share some of my novels with my dad to read. So I gave him a list with a little summary of each of them and he decided he wanted to read Raven, my very first novel.

And it just so happened to end up that sometime around chapter five, he started reading it out loud to both me and my younger brother. At first, I was a little bothered, but I love listening to him read, and he did such a great Kergan voice that I couldn’t help but let him keep going…

By a few chapters later, when he told us it was time for bed, my brother kept calling it “that amazing novel” even though he knew the name of it, and my dad said to me, “You know, this is first draft stuff and he’s saying that it’s amazing. That means you could probably start publishing for children really soon.”

I started to say, “I don’t want to publish for children,” thinking about Enhanced, but then my words were cut off as another thought came into my head–the idea I had for a middle grade novel about dragons that I had wanted to write for my little brother specifically.

And I do want to write it. I always knew Raven, despite it being my first novel and not that great in some ways, had a vibrancy and excitement about it that I’ve never been able to replicate…and I guess I feel that if I write that dragon book, for children, then it’ll bring some of that back. And, you know, the thought of publishing soon isn’t bad either.

So I’m in a bit of a quandary (I’ve been wanting to use that word for days now…). I want to finish Enhanced but I don’t want to work on it, in part because it seems actionless and has too much character development, especially when compared to a novel written for middle grade.

I’m thinking about writing the MG dragon novel for Camp NaNo in April since it should be shorter and I might actually be able to finish it in a month…so I think I might do that. Which means I should keep working on Enhanced, but the question is, should I keep writing or try to figure out what core elements need to be changed and…I don’t know, start rewriting it again?

Ugh, I don’t want to rewrite it again. Maybe there being too much character stuff isn’t a bad thing…? I think I might need someone to read what I have so far in order to tell me that. Any volunteers?

*headdesks* Any opinions, advice, comments, etc. are most appreciated since I’d love for help with this problem. Thanks for reading all of my complaining…hopefully next post will be much better and happier!

In My Characters’ Shoes: Leaving Home

I’ve heard people say to “write what you know”, and I’m sure you have too. Of course, it never seems to really make sense–unless, of course, you’re writing an autobiography. But today I had quite the adventure, and I learned more about what “writing what you know” means.

The idea came into my head like, well, a light bulb flashing on. I could be like my characters. I could be called to action. I could be called to adventure and have to leave home.

Characters usually have to leave their homes–it’s an integral section of the Hero’s Journey–and my personal characters have had that experience too. Usually, they have to do it quickly, sometimes within a matter of minutes.

So I decided that I would try the same thing. I would give myself ten minutes to gather whatever I would need to survive while journeying for three days, and then get out of my house before the time ran out, without anyone noticing. I gave myself a tiny bit to think of what I might bring with me, and then I began.

Those ten minutes gave me an adrenaline rush, though there wasn’t any real threat. I started by grabbing my backpack and going downstairs to my room, then emptying out my school stuff and putting stuff in it. Running up and down the stairs and collecting items in the ten minutes would’ve been hard enough.

What made it harder was that my siblings were watching.

They were milling around the kitchen and other important areas upstairs, doing their thing, and I had to collect stuff and bring it downstairs without them noticing. I’m honestly amazed that they didn’t see me carrying the food down, because I felt like it was totally obvious.

At the very last second, I yanked open my bedroom window, pulled out the screen, and exited from my window well, so my family wouldn’t see what I was doing, and emerged outside with my backpack on my back and ready for adventure.

The first thing that I found really interesting about this experience was how easy it was. I got this weird thrill when I looked down at the stuff I was packing in the backpack and realized, I could be running away right now. This is how easy it would be. Ten minutes, and I could be gone.

Not that I’d ever want to run away from my home, of course, but I’d never really thought it would be that easy to do so. No one really paid attention as I carted stuff downstairs; no one seemed to care what I was doing. It would have been so easy to just disappear.

The second thing I found really interesting was some of the specific things I bought with me.

107_0002 cropped.png
A picture of all the stuff I managed to fit in my backpack.

Of course some of this things are practical and expected: some food, money, a coat, clothes, shoes. But some of it surprised me after the ten minutes were up and I was reflecting on what had happened.

I’d brought my scriptures, the USB with all my novels saved on it, and a blank notebook and a pencil, without even really thinking about it. They just seemed like things I might need.

And after I’d calmed down, I was kind of amused by those choices. Who knew if I’d ever find a computer where I could upload my novels? If I was running away, would I really have time to write stories in my notebook?

But it makes sense, too. Those are the things that are the most integral parts of my life, and so I put them in there. I read my scriptures every day, and I want to keep reading them, so I put them in. I love to write, so I put in the USB and the notebook so I can keep doing it.

I’d always thought that someone leaving home would take the most practical and the most memorable with them, but it turned out that I hardly took anything that had memories for me. No stuffed animals, no mementos to remind myself of my family. Instead, I took unmarked scriptures and a blank notebook.

Both of these insights helped take me into my character’s shoes, and now, I can write about it properly, because I’m writing what I know. Obviously, my characters wouldn’t go through the same process as I did–most of them don’t even live in the same world!–but from my discoveries, I can, in a sense, know what my characters would do.

I can now write a running away scene where no one seems to notice, or make it so they have to avoid people who are around while they collect the items needed for their journey. I’d never thought about how people might be around, and now I can write it properly.

And if I know what’s most important to my characters and what they do every day, what their habits are, then what they put in the bag would reflect that, instead of small mementos that hold memories but are only occasionally used or glanced at.

This was such an interesting experience, and I want to experience more of these moments where I get into my characters’ shoes, and then share my insights with you. Any suggestions on what scenario I should try out next?