Thursday, December 29, 2011

2012 Goals

Hard to believe that the end of 2011 is already here! This time of year, I like to write down my goals for the next year. I think it's infinitely important to have goals, and to actually write them down on paper. The act of writing them longhand seems to solidify them and make them more real (at least for me). I like to write them in big, fat sharpie, too, so they are nice and dark and bold.

A lot of people make New Year's Resolutions around this time. Resolutions are good, but GOALS are great. Resolutions tend to be vague, and tend to be forgotten. For example, before I really understood goals, I would have a New Year's Resolution along the lines of, "Get in shape" or "Write more" or "Save money". These things are all good, but they aren't defined. How do you define getting in shape, or writing more, or saving money? Without having a defined GOAL, resolutions are useless. How will you ever cross off "Get in shape" if you have nothing to define it by? By defining these resolutions, you turn them into goals. "Get in shape" becomes "Lose 10 pounds" or better yet, "Exercise five times a week". Do you see the difference? It goes from vague to specific, and when you have a specific goal, you know when you achieve it. "Write more" becomes "Write 12 short stories" or "Write X amount of words every day/week". "Save Money" becomes "Save X amount".

So this year, instead of writing New Year's Resolutions, write Goals, and be specific. Also, don't just think of your goals, WRITE THEM DOWN. Seriously. Get out a sharpie and a piece of paper, and write them down. Now they are concrete, tangible. Now you can cross them off as you complete them. Ahh, the satisfaction.

Here are my 2012 Goals:

1. Write New Novel
2. Send out query letters
3. Learn 6 new songs on the piano
4. Read at least 24 books
5. Do crunches, squats and push-ups/weights 3x a week
6. Write 12 short stories
7. Get student loan down to X amount
8. Go to Disney World! (Just to throw a 'Gimme' in there)

Once you have your Yearly Goals defined and written down, you've completed Phase 1. Yay! Oh, wait, you thought you were done? HAHA. No.

Yearly goals can seem big and daunting. My "Write New Novel" goal seems big and daunting even to me. How do you tackle these goals? Easy. You break them down into Monthly Goals. This makes your big, Yearly Goal into a smaller, more manageable Monthly Goal. Again, write these down on paper.

For example, here are my January 2012 Goals:

1. Write at least 15,000 words of New Novel
2. Learn a new song on the piano
3. Read 2 books
4. Do crunches, squats and push-ups/weights 3x a week
5. Write 1 short story
6. Pay X amount toward student loan

That's not so bad, is it? It's still defined, but it's smaller. Do this for every month so that all of your Yearly Goals are broken down into Monthly Goals. Phase 2 is complete.

On to Phase 3. Weekly Goals. Yup, you guessed it--break your Monthly Goals down into Weekly Goals.

For example, the first week of January will look like this for me:

1. Write at least 3,750 words
2. Choose a song to learn on the piano and practice on Tuesday and Thursday
3. Read a book
4. Do crunches, squats, and push-ups/weights on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
5. Start a short story
6. Set aside X amount for student loan (this is really a monthly thing for me, not a weekly thing, but I'll put it here just for example)

Then, I make a daily To-Do list based on my Weekly Goals. I usually do this at the beginning of the week. I guess you can call that Phase 4.

Why do people usually forget their New Year's Resolutions by February? Because their goals aren't defined and broken down. They don't have a map to follow, so they stop trying. Making defined Goals and breaking them down like this is essentially making yourself a map, something you can follow to finish your Goals. Saying you're going to write a book sounds lofty, but saying you're going to write 3,750 words a week sounds doable. It's all about bite-sized pieces, one piece at a time. And you just keep going.

So with that,

Happy New Year!!

See y'all in 2012 :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011 Favorites

So, just for fun, here's a compilation of my favorite stuff from 2011.

Favorite Music: 
1.Coldplay-New album Mylo Xyloto. Favorite song from this album is Paradise.

2. Florence + The Machine-New album Ceremonials. Favorite song from this album is Seven Devils.

3. Greg Laswell (He was a new discovery for me!) Favorite song is Comes and Goes (In Waves).
4. Mumford & Sons (Another new discovery for me!) Favorite song is White Blank Page.

Favorite Books: 
1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

2. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

3. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

There are SO many books that I didn't get to read this year that are on my 2012 To-Read list. I didn't have an actual "list" of books for 2011, so I didn't end up reading as much as I'd wanted to. But watch out, 2012, I come prepared with a LIST this time!

Favorite Recipes:
1. White Chocolate Raspberry Bars, which you can find in my previous post here
2. Brownies, recipe courtesy of Maggie Stiefvater, which you can find here
3.Oh, actual food? Not just desserts? Okay, then I'll choose Orecchiete with Spicy Sausage and Broccoli Rabe, courtest of Giada De Laurentiis. I got the recipe from her cookbook, Everyday Italian. The recipe is online here, HOWEVER, for some reason online it says turkey sausage instead of spicy pork sausage. Use the spicy pork sausage! Unless, of course, you want to use the turkey sausage. Whatever.

Favorite Purchases: 
1. iPhone. The awesome factor is WAY high. Definitely best purchase of the year. Portable Twitter, anyone?
2. Cowboy boots. I got these in Nashville, so you know they're legit!

What's some of your favorite stuff from 2011?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cookies! And New Novel Fun!

Happy Monday! I'm kind of in shock that Christmas is only a few days away. I feel like I haven't had enough cheer yet this season. I mean, this weekend I TRIED to have some Christmas cheer. I blasted Christmas music and baked for hours and hours. It started out quite fun and festive. I was in the Zone. But after the third batch of cookies, I was tired. I mean...really tired. I'd been standing for a few hours already (those of you who are wondering why only three batches of cookies took a few hours, the answer is RAINBOW COOKIES), and the happy holiday music was starting to irritate me. It was becoming ironic, because I was no longer in the Christmas Spirit. But I still had like three more batches of cookies to go, so I put on my New Novel playlist to brainstorm while I baked. So, that was fun, but unfortunately the Christmas cheer didn't last too long. This week though, I will be SURE to get my cheer on. Santa mug, I'm looking at you.

And because I want to show off, here are two of the cookies that I made. White Chocolate Raspberry Bars and Rainbow Cookies. Compliments are welcome.

My husband loves rainbow cookies. They are kind of a pain to make because it is a long process, but the outcome is lovely, isn't it? He always raves about them and it makes me quite big-headed. BUT. Yesterday he tried one of the white chocolate raspberry bars, a new recipe that a co-worker gave me, and he proclaimed something that I never saw coming. He said that he liked them BETTER than the rainbow cookies. Um...what!? I SLAVED over those rainbow cookies, and the raspberry bars were the easiest thing I made! I used a Pillsbury sugar cookie roll for crying out loud! But...I have to agree. I'm not a huge fan of rainbow cookies anyway, but let me tell you, those raspberry bars are DIVINE. So in the spirit of giving, which is part of holiday cheer, I give you the recipe:

White Chocolate Raspberry Bars
Ingredients: 1 roll Pillsbury sugar cookies, seedless raspberry preserves, chopped walnuts, white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. Spread the cookie dough onto cookie sheet using fingertips, so it covers the whole cookie sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned and when you stick a toothpick in the center it comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes. Spread the raspberry preserves over the cookie. Sprinkle with nuts. Melt the white chocolate (I simmer some water in a sauce pan and put a bowl over it with the chocolate in it). Dip a spoon in the chocolate and drizzle over the cookie. Let cool, then cut the cookie into bars.

As far as writing goes (lovely segue, don't you think?), I'm still plotting and brainstorming and getting to know the characters in New Novel. It's really interesting, this being the second novel I'm writing, to go through the beginning process again. It feels much different than the first time around. I mean, I still don't know exactly what I'm doing, but I feel more prepared. More confident. I'm not wondering if this will ever actually get finished, because I know it will. So I'm really enjoying this brainstorming process. I want to have a good enough idea of the story by the end of the year, so that come January I can start writing. Eeek! So excited. One difference I've really noticed is that when I first started plotting/writing my first novel, it was very plot-driven. I put the story before the characters, and so the whole time it was frustrating when I couldn't figure out who my characters were. This time, though, the characters came first. Well actually, the setting came first, and then the characters. Then because of who the characters are and what their situation is, the plot flowed from that. So again, very different, but in a very exciting kind of way.

How is everyone's writing going? Anyone else having a baking extravaganza? Make the raspberry bars!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thursday Things

It's Thursday again, so, that means you get some THINGS! That also means I get to make a list, which makes Amanda a happy girl.

1. I know you're all losing sleep over my mouse sitch, so here's an update: THEY ARE STILL HERE. The exterminator came and did not exterminate. For some reason, in my mind, I pictured a Ghost Busters-like machine that would just suck the mice away, like that machine thingy did with the ghosts. Am I remembering this correctly? Anyway, that did not happen. He put a bait box (with poison bait, natch) in the basement and in that cabinet where they were coming in. And then he left. So I took it upon myself to seal the holes by the pipes with steel wool, and that has seriously helped. Now instead of a MICE INFESTATION there's maybe like one or two that are getting in. So now I just wait for them to eat the poisoned bait and DIE! DIE! DIE MICE DIE!


2. I've noticed that ever since I started blogging, I've been drinking a lot of tea. I've always been a coffee person but now, for whatever whackadoo reason, I'm a tea person. Between the hours of 9am and 5pm, you will always find me with a mug of tea. If you do not see me with a mug of tea, you can be sure that it's just because I'm up making MOAR TEA. It's very strange. I have no explanation for this sudden switch of caffeinated beverage choice. It just happened.

3. I'm insanely excited about my New Novel! Oh, wait, now I can't remember if I've even mentioned this on the blog. Okay, I remember posting about this shiny new idea that I had while trying to revise my WIP. WELL, since then, I've decided to set WIP aside for a while. Why? Well, I shall tell you. I've been working on WIP for two years. I finally finished it and jumped directly into revision mode. I marked it up. I made up a new outline of changes. I started changing things. And then...I realized I was doing it all wrong. I wanted to add another POV and that changed the entire thing (for the better, I think). But for some reason I couldn't figure out exactly how I wanted to execute this, and I was having trouble figuring out character motivations and blah blah blah. And then I realized that I never just let the story sit. It's just been a constant WIP for two years. So, now it is sitting. Simmering, if you will. And in the meantime, I have this New Novel that I'm plotting out and I am basically in love with it. Honestly, I think it's *The One* We'll see. I...haven't actually started writing it yet. Ha. But I just have this feeling, you know?

4. I wrote down all of my 2012 Goals in big, fat sharpie the other day. And boy, it's making me excited. I still need to break these down into monthly and weekly goals, but just seeing them makes me think 2012 will be a fun and productive year. I'll let you in on one: Finish writing New Novel. That might seem obvious, but considering it took me two years to write my first novel and I didn't even revise it yet, finishing a novel in one year will probably be a challenge for me. But I really, truly know that I can do it. I'm so excited!

5. I'm having a hard time finishing books lately. I don't know why this is. I want to blame the books...I mean, maybe it is the books. I don't know. I won't share which ones they are, but there are two books I'm thinking of specifically that I started reading and didn't finish. And it's weird, because they are both in series that I really enjoy. Maybe I just lost interest? But I have a whole pile of books I want to read, and now I'm wondering if I should first finish the books I started, or just move on to the other books. And ALSO, I'm getting the itch to re-read books. But then I look at my to-read pile and think it would be silly to re-read when there's so much I haven't read yet.

Books in my To-Read pile: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, Hourglass by Myra McEntire, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, and Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare. These are all sitting on my desk, waiting patiently.

Meanwhile, I'm dying to re-read The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

The dilemma!!

5 Things seems like a nice number, so I'll leave it at that. Ciao!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Don't Go Near The Baking Cabinet!!!

Yesterday was a day like any other. Except that I was traumatized beyond repair.

Let me preface this by saying that I LOVE our new little cottage. I mentioned a week or two ago that The Husband and I were moving, and move we did. We now live in a lovely little cottage, aka a pool house on a very nice man's large property. It's wonderful. Anyway, on my lunch break yesterday, I merrily decided to bake some cookies. Nothing says Holiday Season like some freshly baked cookies, right? So I went over to the cabinet where my baking ingredients are stored, one of those rotating corner shelve deals, and pulled out the sugar. My delight was soon diminished as I realized the bag was leaking and sugar was suddenly pouring out all. over. the. place.

After I cleaned up the mess, I scrutinized the bag and lo and behold, there was a small hole in one of the bottom corners. I taped it up, thinking it must have gotten banged up traveling from old home to new home. I went back to the baking cabinet and pulled out the flour, which proceeded to ALSO LEAK EVERYWHERE. At this point, I was aggravated. I mean, I only have an hour break and now half of it was taken up by cleaning this stupid cabinet. I realized then that there was sugar, flour, and other various baking ingredients all over the bottom of the shelf. I started pulling everything out, only to find out that EVERYTHING had holes in it.

And then I saw it. Little black things the size of grains of rice. Mouse droppings.

I quickly googled "mouse droppings" just to be sure. And yep, I was right. It was definitely mouse poop.


I was so grossed out. Our last apartment had a bug problem, and now we have a mouse problem?! Anyway, I threw out all of my baking ingredients and thoroughly cleaned the entire cabinet. While half my body was inside the cabinet to reach the back, I noticed a gaping hole toward the back where a pipe came out. So THAT was where they were coming from, those sneaky vermin. I plugged the hole up with aluminum foil until a better plan was hatched, and immediately called The Husband to tell him the news. He emailed our landlord and apparently there will be an exterminator coming to our rescue. Thank goodness, because I wouldn't be too thrilled if I had to set mouse traps.

So, that was my exciting and traumatizing day. I really, really love our new place, especially the kitchen because it's so pretty and updated. But I have to say, I'm a little leery of going in there now. Especially near the baking cabinet. *shudder* I suppose I'll have to buy all new baking ingredients and keep them in airtight containers or something until the exterminator comes, because CHRISTMAS BAKING WILL HAPPEN! Don't worry those of you who will consume my cookies, I PROMISE to only use brand new ingredients, and to keep everything nice and poop-free. :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Time Is A Tricky Mistress

The passage of time is a strange thing, isn't it? We all have time, and we all chose what we will do with it (though sometimes it can feel like we don't have a choice, but really, we DO). Right now it's 12:33am on a Sunday, and I'm thinking of the new novel I want to plot out and hopefully start to write tomorrow. But of course there's the day job which takes up 9 hours of my day. And my general lack of early-rising ability (let us remember it is 12:33am--I am a night owl apparently). Let's also remember that dinner must be made, and that usually takes about an hour. Oh, and the laundry. Monday is laundry day in the Olivieri household. So let's say that after the day job, dinner, and laundry duties are over, it's about 8pm. The husband and I have our nightly TV watching routine that cannot be broken (okay, sometimes it is broken), which means that by the time I get a moment to THINK about my novel, it will be around 10pm. Oh, dear goodness. Where did the time go? I don't LIKE going to bed late, despite my previous statements. It just seems to happen that way because nighttime is the only time I can do stuff, like write. Although I have found that my best writing happens during the day when I'm not falling asleep over my laptop at midnight.

Anyway, time.

It passes whether we like it or not. It pauses for no one. It makes no exceptions. It doesn't care what our circumstances are or whether we have a 5 YEAR PLAN FOR CRYING OUT LOUD or if unexpected things happen or if we have direction for our lives or if we don't. It just. keeps. going. And we can either DO SOMETHING while it passes, or not.

I tend to complain about no having enough time. I'm sure you do too. Time is a valuable thing which gets filled with many invaluable things, and when that happens and we notice it we tend to get upset. The trick is not to let it get filled with invaluable things. And that trick is tricky.

Like, even though I would prefer to write during the day and then go to bed at a decent hour, I need the day job to pay the bills. So, that needs to stay. And even though I wish dinner would magically make itself while I write, that never seems to happen. So, cooking needs to stay too. Same with the laundry. And, uh...the TV know. Sometimes you just need to watch some good evening television with your spouse. And so the THING that is VALUABLE to you is somehow pushed down the line of things to do, and by the time to get to it, there's not ENOUGH time.

So, back to the trick that is tricky, which is to say, filling time with things that are valuable. You'll never get to erase those chores and necessary things that aren't fun from your schedule, but usually you CAN find time in between these things. For example, although I find it TORTURE to wake up earlier than absolutely necessary, I could, COULD wake up an hour early and get some writing time in. I COULD also write during my hour lunch break instead of...what do I do on my lunch break anyway? Obviously it is nothing important if I can't even remember it. I COULD also set aside an hour before TV time, which is probably wasted by browsing the internet. And then I could write for one more hour after TV time (which, again, is usually wasted on the internet) and go to bed around 11-12 which is much earlier than I have been. Did you see what I did there? I took the larger chunk of time I would normally write (which can end at 2am sometimes), and I broke it up into smaller chunks throughout the day, where normally I would be lollygagging on the computer or hanging off the side of my couch acting like I'm bored even though I have a million things to do or pretending to be productive by folding laundry but really I'm procrastinating writing. I mean I didn't actually do this in real life yet, but I COULD. I really could. And then I could fill my time with value and actually get some SLEEP. Sleep is good. I wish I was sleeping right now, in fact. My bed is insanely comfy, by the way. Literally, almost every night when I climb into bed, I think to myself "This is the most comfy bed in the world." No, I'm not joking. I really think that to myself every night.

Anyway, what was I even saying? Something about trickery? Time is a tricky mistress? DO YOU SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DON'T SCHEDULE YOUR TIME? You end up writing delirious blog posts at 1am (did I seriously, SERIOUSLY just spend a half hour writing this? Time has evaded me once again!) that start out sounding all mystical and interesting..."Time...what is...time?" and then you end up going on a tangent about your schedule and your heavenly bed then you forget what you're talking about and a half hour has passed and you don't know how because it feels like you just started typing this three minutes ago. And then you write an entire paragraph out of one long run-on sentence?

So the moral of the story is that time is a tricky mistress and you must schedule your time properly to fit the important things in, lest time get the best of you.

And now I'm going to schedule this post before I re-read what I wrote and decide against it. And maybe I'll make a to-do list for tomorrow so I can have some semblance of time management after writing this.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

In Which I Babble About New Story Ideas

Gah! It's been crazy around here, so I want to apologize for being kind of MIA with my blog posts. We just moved into our new place this past weekend and are still getting our bearings and unpacking, etc., etc. I must say that I LURVE our new place. A lot. So...that's nice and happy.

Anyway, something happened last night. The husband went to bed, and I stayed up to work on revisions for my WIP. I typed maybe 200 words and then stopped, because I just wasn't "feeling" it. I decided that I probably needed to start over again because it wasn't exactly how I wanted it, but I wasn't in the mood to delete so many words. So, instead I started typing something completely and utterly new. Something that had been simmering under the surface for a few months, just aching to be let free. I didn't write too much. I hadn't plotted at all and really had no idea what the story was even about. All I knew was the setting and the main character. I wrote a little snippet, quite pleased and excited with it, and then went to bed.

While I was laying in bed I was thinking about this new story and what the premise might be. I had this awesome setting, and this awesome character, but where, exactly, was it going? Then, to my utter surprise and delight, my brain decided to give me a gift. It TOLD ME exactly what this story was about. It told me about two more characters, and various complications for my main character, and what was going to happen. And I was like, ZOMG!! YES! And I literally did a little flail in the dark. This morning I jotted everything down, and now all I want to do is write write write this new story. It is CALLING to me. And let me tell has a tantalizing call.

But then some other part of my brain is like, "Um, hello? Revisions? Current WIP?" And I'm like, "Uhhh, I knowwwwwwwww." Now don't get me wrong, I lurve my WIP. It's like an old friend. But my WIP is one of those stories where I know I'll have to make a zillion revisions before I get it right. I don't know why this is. It just IS. And the thought of getting it right makes me very, very excited, but I still don't know exactly HOW to make it right. But this NEW's already just SO RIGHT. And it's most definitely a standalone. One book, and then done. WIP is most likely a three book series.

I know, I'm babbling. Sorry. ANYWAY. So I'm thinking of possibly writing a teensy bit of this new story. Just a little, keep it casual, you know. I'm still married to WIP and all. WIP will be my priority, but I think perhaps working on the new story will get my creative juices flowing in a new way. Right? That makes sense? Or am I just fooling myself? Should I jot down new story's ideas and set it aside until I'm done with WIP?

I don't know, guys. Have you ever had this happen before? What did you do? Is it wise to start a new project while still revising a WIP? I'm thinking, MAYBE, of setting aside a minimal amount of time per week to work on the new story, just to placate myself. We'll see.

We shall see.

(*excited flail for new story!*)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thursday Things

Some things on this fine Thursday:

1. The Husband and I are moving into a new place this weekend. Yippeeee!! We loathe our current apartment, and so this move is quite exciting for us. QUITE exciting.

2. Because of said move, almost all of my THINGS are packed away in boxes. I don't like to be without my things, but I've learned that I really only need a few things to survive, namely: my laptop, my teapot (also, a mug and tea are implied (but I'm telling you just in case you didn't realize the implication--you're welcome)), my iPhone, my planner, and a book. I am content with these things. Shall I say things one more time? Things.

3. It is December today. Just thought you should know. It's also my brother's birthday. Happy birthday, Matt! (I don't think he reads this but if one day he does, this birthday wish will be here, waiting. I am a good sister.)

4. Today is Christmas card writing day. It is a day in which I write out Christmas cards. Preferably with a glass of red wine and Christmas music playing merrily in the background. Unfortunately, The Husband packed away our bottle opener, so no red wine for Amanda :( I now have an excuse to get a peppermint mocha from Starbucks, though. I NEED a merry drink whilst writing out holiday cheer!

5. I hath written out my writing goals for next year. It makes me feel motivated. And excited! Unless I fail. Then, I'll just feel like a failure. BUT I WON'T!

6. I will share these goals with you at the end of the month. Like an end of year wrap-up. Or maybe like a pre-beginning-of-year syllabus. Either way, it will be a list, so I will enjoy writing it. I like lists. Oh, hey, I'm writing a list right now! Maybe that's why I'm enjoying writing this post so much. LISTS!

7. My tea is now cold, and I have no microwave to heat it up with because The Husband already packed it away. Why must he pack away all the beverage opening/heating tools?!

8. I am learning to play Carol of the Bells on the piano. It is fun. I like it. (No, I don't really play the piano. I PRETEND by learning songs and then I sound like I know what I'm doing but really, I only know VARIOUS SONGS.)

9. That's it. Oh, wait, let me do one more so that it's Ten Thursday Things. That seems much better than Nine Thursday Things.

10. I'm currently reading Crossed by Ally Condie, and I love it so far! I'm almost half way through, and I'm SO rooting for Cassia and Ky! I also love how Ally incorporates poetry into her books. I don't usually read poetry, but the way it's used in Ally's books makes me want to.

BAM! TEN Thursday Things.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Novel Writing: The Opposite of Instant Gratification

So, I wrote a post on how I hit "The Wall" a few weeks ago. I was in a serious funk and hardly worked on revisions at all. I think the enormity of what needed to be done scared me. And honestly, it still scares me. After I finished the draft I marked it up summarized the new scenes I wanted to write, but when I started writing, something happened. I started writing from a second character's POV, and I loved it. This changes a lot of things. Now I can't follow my marked up draft and new summaries perfectly, because I have another POV to think about. I still don't know exactly how I'm going to do this. I still haven't figured it all out. I think what scares me is that after I finish revising, I'll have to revise again and again and again. I have this vision of my story, and it's so awesome and perfect and I can see how amazing it COULD be. The hard part is figuring out how to get it to that stage...and it might take a while. And a lot of drafts.

This is why it's hard: because the hours put in and the work done and the sleep lost do not show instant results. For some writers, the results may come faster and easier than others. For me, it feels like it's taking an eternity.

Writing is NOT instant gratification.

I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but this is where I'm at. It's a long road ahead. There are no shortcuts. I guess I'm just starting to realize this. Sometimes I read about authors who can write a novel in such and such time and revise in such and such time, and I feel like I'm just SO. FAR. BEHIND. Like they're all on this happy writer's train and I'm standing in a field watching it go by, never to find it again.

But, as not to make this a whiny post, I will say this: I DO know that the time invested will be well worth it. The only way to make my story shine like it does in my "vision" is to put the work in, even if that means revising ten more drafts after this one. I believe in this story, and one day it will get there.

So, how is everyone else doing? :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What Are You Thankful For?

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a holiday in which a turkey is of utmost importance. There may even be an auxiliary turkey (yes, my family makes an 'auxiliary turkey'). And of course the stuffing. Oh, the stuffing. There will probably be some sort of cranberry sauce, various other side dishes and don't forget the PIE! It goes without saying that most of you will experience a food coma. I know I will. This is normal.

But besides the FOOD, what exactly is this holiday? Well, it's all in the name. I don't know about you, but sometimes I can get so caught up in the "holiday"--the preparation and planning and visitors and travel plans--that I forget it's supposed to be a day to give thanks. It's a time for thanksgiving.

So, here are a few things that I'm thankful for:

1. Jesus.

2. My husband and all of my family. Love you guys!

3. My friends, near and far. Some of my very closest friends live far away, which makes me sad, but I am beyond blessed to have such wonderful people in my life!

4. My health and the health of my family. This is not something to take for granted, and I am so grateful that so many of my loved ones are healthy.

5. Writing. I don't know what I'd do without it. It's the best possible outlet I could ever dream of, it's fun, it's challenging and frustrating at times, and it's a journey that I'm very thankful to be experiencing. It makes me alive.

6. And finally, you guys! I'm so thankful for the community of writers I've met this past month or so that I've been blogging and twittering. I never imagined that such an amazing group of people existed, all with the same passion for writing and reading and books in general. You guys rock!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! So, what are you thankful for?

Monday, November 21, 2011

How Do You Write?

Lately I've been noticing some of my writing quirks, and it got me thinking about how I write and the circumstances I prefer while writing.

For example, while I was drafting I preferred to write OUT, like at a cafe. I also preferred to have a hot beverage, like coffee or tea, while writing.

Now that I'm revising, I prefer to write at home. Preferably on my couch. Preferably with a hot beverage. But I'm also noticing that I can't concentrate if anyone else is in the room. I've tried to put earbuds in and listen to music, but that doesn't really cut it. For whatever reason, I just cannot focus if someone else is there. As I write this, my husband is in the room and it's not distracting me at all, so apparently this just applies to novel writing. Anyway, because of this, my writing time starts around 11:30pm and ends around 2:00am. I usually never go to bed that late! But, alas, it's what's working for me right now. (Some of you might be wondering why I don't just go into another room. Sometimes I do! But I also concentrate better when nobody else is AWAKE and I'm REALLY alone :) I know...I'm only hurting myself here!)

I'm also learning that I like to use a fresh document every time I sit down to write. This is a really new thing that I just discovered last week. I noticed that if I see a ton of words in the document, all I can think about are those words and if they're good enough and if that's really how I wanted to execute that scene. But if I skim over what I last wrote to get into the mindset, and then start writing in a fresh, blank document, I can write more...and also write better. A blank page makes me feel more creative and free, if that makes sense. Then once I'm done I paste it into the original document. Voila!

I really do wish that I could write anywhere, at any time, with or without anyone in the room. I know that I COULD if I had to (though I DO think my best work happens under my preferred circumstances). I'm not sure if these quirks are temporary or permanent (hopefully temporary!), but they are what they are.

So, what I want to know is this: How do you write? Do you have writing quirks, preferred circumstances, etc.? I'm very interested to know!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Fun! Quotes Edition

Happy Friday! Hope you all have a great weekend. Here are some quotes to leave you with:

And finally...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Procrastination Slash The Evils of the Internet

You sit down to write. You're armed with water, a hot beverage and a snack. You open your word processor and skim the last few paragraphs you wrote the day before. You're ready to go.

You start typing. Clackity clackity clack. Happy writing! Yay! Things are going well.

And then, something happens. Something not unusual. You type a word, read the sentence back, and realize that you need a synonym. That word just doesn't work. Suddenly, there is a voice. An icy, ragged voice in the back of your mind, and it whispers "Use meeee."

You give it no thought. You're a writer, after all. You hear voices frequently. Now back to this word that does not work. You need a synonym, so naturally, you need a thesaurus. You minimize your word processor and open up your web browser, finding your favorite online thesaurus.

But wait! You see something in one of your that a new email? Abruptly, the cold voice is back. "Use meeee," it pleads. "I've brought you a gift! Look in your inbox."

Enticed, you click on your Email tab...and behold! TWO new emails! And oh! One of them is from your critique partner, the other is from Twitter, informing you that someone replied to one of your Tweets. These ARE gifts!  You open the email from your critique partner, relishing every word they write about your MS. You must reply to this email at once to ask their opinion on problem number 2 in MS, and also discuss what they pointed out, and also find out what they think about the heroine doing that thing in chapter 9. And so you do. You send the email out, feeling satisfied.

"Use meeee."

What? Oh. That voice is back again.

"You've forgotten your other giffftt!" it rasps.

Oh, right. Twitter! You click on the person's reply. Hahah, oh, this person is so funny! Hm, you wonder, what is everyone else up to on Twitter?

"Go look!" the voice urges.

Yes. Yes, you think you WILL go look. Besides, you should probably reply to your reply, anyway. You scroll through the Timeline, reading everyone's tweets, and reply to your reply, spending a little too much time trying to think of something witty and funny to say.

"Look! Look over there!" The voice says. You think you hear a gritty, low laugh, too, but you aren't quite certain.

What does the voice want you to look at? Oh! Someone just posted a new blog post! This person writes quality blog posts. You click on the link and read gleefully. You notice in their "Labels" section that they have a label for Writing. Well, hey! YOU'RE interesting in writing.

"Check it out!" the voice says.

You think this is an excellent idea. The blogger probably has some sterling things to say about writing, which will help you with your OWN writing. Wow, there are so many posts on writing! How wonderful. You read and read and read, so thoroughly entertained and enlightened.


What? What was that? Was that you, Voice? Suddenly, you realize that HOURS have past. You're supposed to make dinner and get ready for that thing tonight and clean the kitchen and OH MY GOSH your writing time is gone?! Noooooooooo!!

"Wait! I brought you another present!" The voice says.

Absolutely not! Who is this voice, anyway? "It's all your fault, Voice! This is ALL YOUR FAULT. Who are you? Show yourself like a man!"

The voice laughs darkly. "You know who I am. I bring you emails and Tweets. I give you information and entertainment and endless possibilities!"

You gasp, realizing how stupid you've been. "Internet," you say breathlessly. "You've been enticing me this whole time when all I really wanted was to find a synonym!"

The Internet clicks its tongue at you. "You silly, silly writer. Don't you know that you have the POWER to deny me? But alas, I have won."

You fume, your mouth becoming smaller and smaller as you realize the Internet is RIGHT. "Darn you, Internet!" you cry.

The Internet does not yell back, for he is content. "Until next time," he says.

And you close your web browser, your word processor, and your computer down, defeated. THIS time.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I Am A Writer

I am an amateur writer. I make mistakes. I spell words wrong and use bad grammar (poor grammar?). My sentence structure can be improved upon. My word choices should be reconsidered. My voice, my plot, my characters...they all need work.

I am a slow writer. I take my time. I procrastinate. I avoid, daydream, and get distracted. I delete, rewrite, and delete again.

I am a fearful writer. I'm afraid that the story in my head won't translate to paper the way I imagine it. I'm afraid that nobody will like what I write. I'm afraid that I won't get better. I'm afraid that I'll fail my story and myself.

I am an insecure writer. I read what I've written and gag. Delete, delete, delete. I read my favorite books and think, I'll never be that good.

I am a wandering writer. I wander into life and excuses and daydreams. I wander into other people's books for a while. I wander into new ideas and neglect my main project. I wander through my main project--aimlessly.

I could go on. And on. And on.

But I am also this:

I am a determined writer. I see my weaknesses and am prepared to overcome them. It will be hard. It will be work. But it's worth it to me.

I am a steady writer. I may not write quickly, but I write enough. I set realistic goals for myself and I do them. I finished my draft this way, and I'll finish my revisions this way.

I am a conquering writer. I am aware of my fears and insecurities, but I don't let them stop me. Sometimes they delay me. Sometimes they grieve me. But they don't defeat me.

I am a loyal writer. I don't always write every day. But my writing is constantly on my mind, popping up at odd times and even times and all times. Sometimes I wander, but I always, always come back.

So I've come to accept this: I am a writer.

I may be an amateur, slow, fearful, insecure, and wandering. I may be determined, steady, conquering, and loyal. But I also write. And that makes me a writer. No adjective needed.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Music and Writing and Stuff

You guys!

...I don't know. I just wanted to say that. But anyway, happy Friday! I'm currently listening to If I Die Young by The Band Perry, and I think I'm obsessed. Nay, I KNOW I'm obsessed. I literally cannot stop listening to this song on repeat. If you've never heard it, here you go (and you're welcome):

She's holding a book of Tennyson's poems, and at the very end they show a page from the poem The Lady of Shalott. *sigh* So romantic! And tragic, too, obviously.

This has got me in a dreamy, romantic mood, which is NOT the state of mind I need to be in to write. My story is not like that. Though now I want to write a story with this mood in mind. *tucks away for later* I do have a playlist for my current story, but I've been listening to the same songs for over a year and honestly, they've lost their magic. I think it's time to find new songs that capture the same mood. Also, I'm considering listening to music without lyrics for a change of pace, and also because sometimes the lyrics can be a bit distracting while trying to write.

Oh yeah, did I mention that I've chucked my revisions so far and am starting from scratch? Yup. I wasn't so far along that it really matters, it was only a couple thousand words or so. But seeing that blank page fills me with a kind of energy to write, and to make it good. When I had all those words on the page that I knew were just wrong, it sucked away my will to write. And now I'm excited again :) Word doc., new playlist, new attitude. Well, I haven't got the playlist yet, but I will soon. Any suggestions? I need darkish stuff, but nothing too heavy. Does that make sense? One song from my playlist that will stay is Teardrop by Massive Attack, because it really captures the mood. The song itself, not the video. The video is weird. But here ya go:

I think it's so interesting how music can really affect mood and your state of mind. It's pretty cool. Except times like now, when all I want to do is listen to The Band Perry and daydream!

Do you guys listen to music while you write?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Wall

Sometimes you're just chuggin' along, writing your story, happy and productive, and then...BAM! You stop. You look around, wondering what caused this sudden stop, but there's nothing but open fields all around. There's even some flowers and a light, refreshing breeze. You should be sailing, FLOATING through your writing at this point. Maybe you even have an outline. Maybe your draft is done and you're revising. This stop was unplanned and unsolicited.

So, you take a step forward, anticipating getting your groove back. Except...your foot hits something hard and invisible, and you can't move. You try again, with more effort this time. But nope, there's something in the way. Something huge and invisible. Something that is STOPPING YOU from writing.

No, it is not "writer's block". You have ideas and you know what needs to be done. The problem here is something far, far different:

You've hit The Wall.

The Wall is a point at which you cannot seem to go on. You have halted, and you don't know why. "Noooooooo!" You say in slow motion with a deep, tortured voice. And to that I reply "Yes," in an annoyingly calm tone. Now, I'm no expert on The Wall. The Wall can take on many forms and can be battled with many weapons. Here, I will list just a few of the ways that you can battle The Wall.

1. Go around The Wall. This may seem obvious, but The Wall is actually quite long--endlessly long. The tactic for this is to acquire an automobile to DRIVE you around The Wall. Attempting this by foot is not advised. Every hundred feet or so, you must veer sharply in the direction of The Wall to see if it's still there. If it is, keep driving. If it isn''ve found the end of The Wall! Note: The time that it takes you to find the end of The Wall may be considerable. During this time, it's suggested that you have a brainstorm sesh and go over your outline for inspiration and motivation.

2. Burrow under The Wall. Your weapon of choice here is a shovel. Yes, you are going to work up a may-jah sweat. First, you must assess WHERE you are currently standing in relation to your writing. You want to be able to emerge from the other side of The Wall at the exact place where you wish to continue. This means that you must take a good, long stare at the writing that you have already done to gain vision for the writing that lies ahead. Is what you've already written REALLY what you wanted to write? Did that character take a wrong turn somewhere? Did you go on a sub-plot tangent two chapters back and now you're stuck in a place you don't want to be? Could that thing have happened differently in a better way which makes that other thing possible? You need to figure this out before you start digging, or else you'll end up far, far away from the vision on the other side of The Wall. Once you've figured out where the problem is, FIX IT, and then start burrowing. You will be on the other side of The Wall in no time. (Actually, it will probably take a while. But the point is that you WILL be on the other side of The Wall!)

3. Climb over The Wall. The evident choice here would be to use a ladder, but if that's what you were thinking, you have clearly underestimated the sheer HEIGHT of The Wall. They don't make ladders tall enough to climb over the wall, or EVERYONE would be climbing over their Walls and there would  be no point to this post, now would there? No, you must use a long rope with a grappling hook to SCALE the wall. First, you must find the point at which you want to throw the hook. As with burrowing under the wall, proper placement is key. You have a decision to make now: Do you throw the hook right where you stand, and just continue on with your writing wherever you land on the other side? Or, do you aim to throw the hook so that you end up on a new path? This is a tough decision, but quite necessary to battle The Wall. Think hard.

4. Demolish The Wall. Weapon of choice: wrecking ball. Some of you may not want to take the time to brainstorm, go over your outline, or rewrite stray scenes. Maybe you don't care if you will have a mess to clean up later, you just want to KEEP GOING. If that's the case, this is the tactic for you. It's quite simple and straight-forward, really. You must LAUNCH the wrecking ball at The Wall, which may or may not require you to operate heavy machinery. Watch with glee as The Wall crumbles, invisible pieces of it flying everywhere. Repeat this until there is a gaping hole in The Wall which you can walk right through. Once on the other side, DO NOT look  back at the mess you have made (though it is invisible, you will be able to FEEL it). Just keep going, and worry about the mess later.

And so, as you see, you have many options for battling The Wall. Currently I am standing in front of my own Wall, assessing the situation. Normally, I think I'd  be more of a burrower, but since I'm still at the beginning of revision and there won't be too much of a mess, I think I'll go with demolishing it. And anyway, one of my writer friends graciously loaned me a wrecking ball.

Monday, November 7, 2011

An Evening With Maggie Stiefvater

This weekend was wonderful (whoa alliteration) for many reasons:

First, I went to a close friend's bachelorette party.

Second, I had amazing sushi.

Third, I met the New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater. And SHE. IS. AWESOME.

Maggie Stiefvater is one of my absolute favorite authors, so I was beyond thrilled when I found out she was doing a signing near me. For those of you who don't know, Maggie is a bestselling YA author, most known for the Wolves of Mercy Falls Series which includes Shiver, Linger, and Forever. She is also the author of Lament and Ballad, and her newest novel is The Scorpio Races, which I just started reading and absolutely LOVE.

This was the first author event/signing I've ever been to and I went alone, so I was slightly nervous since I didn't know what to expect. But I had nothing to be nervous about because Maggie is just SO nice and funny and an overall amazing person. There were probably around 100 people there, so the turnout was pretty good. When I got there I settled into a seat and waited in anticipation for Maggie to appear on stage.

For the first segment of the event, Maggie spoke for about 20-30 minutes. And let me tell you, she is SO funny. I'm talking hilarious. She's very passionate about the stories she tells and puts on these crazy voices for emphasis. She spoke about the "Ten Steps for writing a Maggie Stiefvater Novel", which I now wish I wrote down. I'll try to remember them for you, though I can't promise they are in order.

So here they are, the Ten Steps for writing a Maggie Stiefvater Novel, from Maggie herself (each step was explained with a Maggie-style story):
1. Come up with an idea.
2. Pick a "mood" for the novel.

3. Know the ending.
4. Do the research.
5. Start writing.
6. Somebody has to die within the first chapter or so.
7. There is no step 7.
8. Add food to the novel. Yes, food. (She even invented her OWN food for The Scorpio Races, called November Cakes. You can find the recipe on her blog here.)
9. Ummm...yeah, I don't remember this one.
10. STEP 10 I REMEMBER! Because it was this: Forget all of these steps. :)

And there you have it, the, 9 steps for writing a Maggie Stiefvater novel! After she finished speaking, she opened up the floor for Q&A, and then she signed books. She was very generous to sign the 4 books I brought--Shiver, Linger, Forever, and The Scorpio Races.

She even doodled in my copy of The Scorpio Races!

In the little "program" the library gave us, it included the recipe for Maggie's November Cakes, along with Maggie's recipe for "Cookies The Size of Your Head". I am going to make these cookies tonight because I am CRAVING chocolate chip cookies. And since Maggie is obsessed with cookies/cookie dough, I don't think she'll steer me wrong. If you'd like this cookie recipe, you can also find it on Maggie's blog here. If you haven't read Maggie's books, I highly recommend them. Her writing style is unlike any other.

I hope you guys had a great weekend too! Let's make this a productive week!

Monday, October 31, 2011

To-Do Lists

Happy Monday slash Halloween!! Firstly, an announcement:

**FUN ALERT!!** For a special Monday treat that I had absolutely nothing to do with, I'd like to direct your attention to one of my favorite blogs for a SERIOUSLY COOL contest! Prizes included signed copies of super-fabulous books. And the best part is that the contest rules are incredibly easy. Now, go HERE to check it out! And also, you should follow this blog because it's awesome.

Now on to the regularly scheduled program:

I guess today might be slightly more fun for some of you with costumes and candy and festivities and such, but generally, Monday's have a bad reputation. You know, the whole work week, stress, and responsibilities thing. I get it. But Monday is quite important to me because it's the day that starts my weekly To-Do list. And I heart my To-Do list.

Some people have asked me how I managed to finish my first draft. Writing really looks different to everyone, and all writers have their own way of pushing through the draft. There's no "right" way to write a novel, but one thing is common in all writers: Persistence.

I mentioned in my profile that I'm obsessed with To-Do lists, so I figured I'd explain why. As a writer, I DEPEND on my list. I need it. I love it. Maybe that's a little too "structured" for some people, but it's how I do what I do. If I didn't have a To-Do list, my novel would never have been written. And without it I will never complete my revisions. Why? Because my list is comprised of GOALS, and goals propel me to keep a forward momentum. I like to work toward things. I like to complete tasks. I especially like to see check marks next to said tasks. It's like a signal to my brain that says, "Good job!" And it gives me the warm fuzzies. :)

My To-Do list is actually broken down into four separate entities. My yearly goals are the largest part of the cumulative "List". These are generally made around December of the previous year, kind of like New Year's resolutions. I break my yearly goals down into monthly goals. This makes them easier to tackle. My monthly goals, as you might imagine, are written on my monthly calendar which hangs on the wall by my desk. The monthly goal is then broken down into weekly goals, which are written in my weekly planner. This sits on my desk. Finally, my weekly goals are broken down into daily goals, which are on an app in my iPhone. With this app you can check off tasks as you complete them, and it actually shows little check marks! Those check marks are like PRIZES. I want to collect ALL the check marks! It's like a game! Sort of.

I know this sounds a little OCD, but if I didn't do this I would probably never get stuff done. I'm one of those people who suffers from the PROCRASTINATIONS. My lists help me overcome this debilitating disease.

So that's my "secret". That's how I keep myself going with my writing. I set goals, I break them down into smaller goals, and I DO THEM. I don't always get everything done on my To-Do list. Sometimes life happens and I fall behind. Sometimes I get lazy. Sometimes the motivation is just gone and I need to take a break. But the point is that I don't take a break forever because my list is waiting, and the satisfaction of completing it far outweighs the temporary satisfaction of being lazy.

With that said, it's time to get stuff done. I hope everyone has a wonderfully productive Monday!

How YOU do keep yourself moving forward?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Revision: a.k.a I Liken My Manuscript to Humpty Dumpty

First of all, happy Friday! Woo hoo! Don't you just love a good Friday?

As I mentioned in my previous post, I recently finished the first draft of my novel. This was a huge feat, and I'm proud of myself for actually finishing the darn thing. But the thing's not really finished.

At all.

Any writers out there will know what I'm talking about. Now that the joys of drafting are over, I can look back and see how naive I really was. Let me explain. To do this, I shall demonstrate my thought process over the course of writing the draft.

Beginning of book
Me: Wow, look at how much I wrote! I'm pretty good at this writing stuff. I'm totally going to be an author in no time.

Beginning of book
Me: Yes! The plot is thickening. I'm genius. GENIUS! The story is flowing! This is actually turning into a BOOK!

Middle of book
Me: Um...what is this story about again?

Middle of book
Me: I think I need an outline. Yeah, I really think I need an outline. What am I even writing right now? WHAT IS THIS CRAP?

Middle of book 
Me: Thank you, outline, for showing me the light. Yes yes, I know, I should have had you from the beginning. All that matters is that you're here now, and I love you. *caresses outline*

End of book
Me: La la la, Let me read everything from the beginning just to see how the story is flowing...GAH! The entire beginning needs to be changed. The. Entire. Beginning. How do I keep going when I can't stop staring at the mess that is behind me?!

End of book
Me: *deep breath* Okay. Everything is crap. It's crap, okay? But I kind of understand what the story is about now. I just need to finish this draft, and then make it the story I want it to be.

After the draft is done
Me: The first draft is done! Yes! YESSSS! I am awesome! No, I'm not. The whole thing is garbage and needs to be rewritten. *sobs*

To the untrained eye, this may look like I'm just becoming increasingly more negative. But really, that's not the case. What was happening was that I was learning what it means to put a story together, and that it's not easy, and it doesn't come out right the first time around. At least not for me.

When I first started writing I thought that you wrote your book, edited a little here, changed some words around there, and voila! Done. I realize now how utterly wrong I was. Revising is NOT just going through the story line by line and making the words pretty. It's much more than that. It's literally dissecting your manuscript scene by scene, wadding through the garbage to find the salvageable stuff, tightening the plot, the characters, the dialogue, throwing out A LOT, adding stuff back in, and trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. But making him prettier, smarter, and unbreakable. It's kind of overwhelming.

Yes, I just called my manuscript Humpty Dumpty. Except with revision, it's like he already fell of the wall once and is cracking all over, but I'm the one who has to push him off a second time to really BREAK him order to rebuild. Make sense, maybe? Am I just weird? OF COURSE I AM.

I'm still at the beginning stages of revision, but I can tell that this story will be QUITE different from the story I currently have. It's going to be an insane amount of work, and I have no idea how long it will take. But I do know that my story will be better for it. And that's really what matters, right? Because once that final draft is done (whenever that may be) I will finally have written the story I set out to write in the first place.

So, it's time to go push poor Humpty off the wall...he'll thank me for it later.

Oh! I almost's a nice little visual to leave you with for the weekend!:

This is a picture I took right after printing the draft for the first time. I was all proud and feeling artsy. The manuscript posed like a pro! Just looked at that nice clean stack of pages!

Okay, now to revise!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dare to Dream

So, here I am writing my first blog post. I honestly never thought I'd start one, but after spending hours upon hours reading various author blogs and websites, I got The Itch. As in, The Itch to start my own blog. As in, The Itch to create another outlet for procrastination, and hopefully amusement (for myself, obviously).

No, I am not an author, silly reader (is there anyone even out there?). Didn't you read the little profile blurb on the side of the page? No? Well, I suppose now's a good time to fill you in:

I am an aspiring author.

Bah! Writing that makes me squirm and want to hide under a blanket. It's kind of been my little secret for the past year and half, you see. I've been working on my first YA novel for almost two years and I just recently finished the first draft (woo!), but I've only told a select few people. Why? Well, to be honest, it's because I'm afraid of what people might think. I know the immediate reaction is probably along the lines of, "You want to be an author? Yeah, okay." Or, "Can know...write?" Which I perfectly understand. It's not something you hear everyday, and those who know me might write it off as a phase.

Here's another reason I've kept my writing on the down-low: When I'm finally done editing and revising my novel, I fully intend to query agents. And I expect to be rejected. I know it's a tough industry, and you have to be amazing to get an agent, let alone a book deal. Not everyone who reads my book will love it. So, the more people know about my dream, the more people will know when I get rejected. And I think that might be slightly embarrassing to put myself out there and let the world see me fail.

But here I am, "coming out". It's true, and it's my dream. MY DREAM! And I won't be embarrassed for having a dream and chasing it. Sure, it might not come true. Maybe I won't ever get published. Maybe I won't even get an agent. But I have hope, and I'm going to do all that I can to make this happen. And at the end of the day, published or not, it's about me doing something that I love.

Write. Create. Explore. Dream.

Right now it's about the journey. The process. The really hard work and the determination to get better. So, if you'd like, you can join me on this journey. Maybe some of you have secret dreams too? I'm sure you do. I hope you have the courage to follow them.

Until next time!