GUEST POST FROM KARA SWANSON, AND GIVEAWAY FOR "THE GIRL WHO COULD SEE"

Saturday, December 9, 2017
(phew, that's a long blog title. :P)

Happy Saturday, everyone! We're sixteen days away from Christmas (um, what). To tide you over until the twenty-fifth, my lovely friend and author, Kara Swanson, is graciously taking over the blog today. (and I've added in a giveaway of her book at the end -- The Girl Who Could See -- so keep reading for that. :)

I'll keep my babbling to a minimum and let Kara take over from here. :D


(Yes, that is a giant picture of her book's cover. You're welcome.)

Hi Katie!

Thank you so much for having me on your blog. So appreciate you reaching out. And I can't wait to hopefully get to see her in person at Realm Makers this year! (Which, if any of you aren't familiar with it, Realm Makers is a Christian writers conference for speculative fiction authors!)

I met Katie through Go Teen Writers, and have always been so inspired by her tenacity and writing skill! She and I both started writing at a young age, and tend to weave our own stories into our fictional ones. My latest release, The Girl Who Could See, came out in June of this year and is about another young woman who is carried along on an adventure.

Fern Johnson can see the impossible. Since she was a child, she has had an imaginary friend named Tristan--but Tristan has never left. This blonde, weapon-wielding warrior has never been far from her footsteps, but while he claims he is here to help, Tristan's very existence is shattering Fern's life. Because she is the only one who can see this invisible hero, and the decaying city around him, while the rest of the world believes that he is only a figment of her imagination. That Fern is going insane. 
But Fern Johnson is not crazy. She can see into a parallel world--and if she's not careful, the monster that desolated Tristan's planet is going to destroy hers.
The Girl Who Could See started off with two short lines in my head, a prompt that I had to follow:

They say every child had an imaginary friend.
Mine never left.

So I continued to tug on that string, and a story about a young woman who stands in the hallway between two worlds is what unraveled. Beyond that, another large aspect that impacted the creation of this story was a real-life battle I was fighting--and am still battling. Lyme Disease. I've had Lyme for six years, and only this past year did I finally find a treatment that is actually curing the disease. I'm so grateful to be almost 100% Lyme-free, but when I wrote The Girl Who Could See, I was thick in the middle of my fight against the sickness. I was in constant pain, and could hardly trust my own mind as I was so tired my thoughts weren't my own.

The emotions and struggles that followed this were soon woven into my novella. Fern is unable to drive, and constantly feels like she doesn't fit in, like she's being pulled between two worlds. With my Lyme symptoms, driving was too dangerous for me to get my license, and I felt like I could see the world passing around me--but I was stuck on the outside, peering in. Unable to tangibly touch life.

Just watch it pass by.

But like Fern, I kept fighting, and eventually was able to survive--thrive, even--despite having a disease that to most would have seemed like a curse. Lyme allowed me to appreciate every moment of my day, it gave me a new gentleness toward the broken and hurting. I have been able to encourage so many with chronic pain, because I've experienced the hopelessness and agony.

I soon came to realize, just like Fern does in The Girl Who Could See, that what may seem like my greatest weakness can actually be my greatest strength. That it's the broken things that can shine the most light.


Thanks so much for that, Kara. <3 If you can't tell from her guest post, she's one of those people with a giant heart that overflows with enthusiasm. Before I skip right to the giveaway... can I flail? Like, how is that for a concept?? Cue the suspenseful music beginning to play because that sounds like pure epicness. *unfortunately doesn't own this book but needs to change that IMMEDIATELY*

Well, if you haven't already bounced to the giveaway with excitement, now's the time to enter for a paperback copy of this awesome novella.

(If the giveaway decides to be stubborn and won't load, follow this link.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway will be open up to the 25th! And on Christmas I'll contact the random winner. But until then there's no stopping you from snagging the book over on Amazon -- after all, it's a short novella that would be perfect to help you catch up on that Goodreads challenge. ;)

Thanks for reading! I hope the rest of your day manages to be both relaxing and productive. (is that possible? maybe. probably. good luck. xD)

(and if you're discovering my blog through this giveaway, hi! Eat some virtual pizza and introduce yourself -- you're more than welcome to stick around.)

<3,
katie grace

don't be afraid to leave a comment below for Kara!

NOVEMBER HIGHLIGHTS // 2017

Saturday, December 2, 2017
*barges in with carols and cookies and Christmas trees* MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE! Yes, I know there are still twenty-three days until Christmas, but who doesn't love a little extra Christmas cheer? 

At least I need some extra Christmas cheer. Even though it's December, it doesn't feel like Christmas. All of the snow we had on the ground melted, I haven't listened to much Christmas music, and our tree isn't even set up. O.O (not to mention all of the cards and presents I haven't started on... *cries because I am the worst gift giver*)

ANYWAY, I'm here to talk about the highlights of November, so let's get into them!

THE INFINITY WARS TRAILER. PLEASE TELL ME YOU'VE SEEN IT SO WE CAN FREAK OUT TOGETHER. (here's the link if you haven't) I've already watched it five times and have freaked out every time. I only shed a couple tears out of excitement, so be proud. *absolutely cannot wait* (only 152 days away!!) It's been fun to see the internet explode with the conjoined excitement for this movie. :D

Speaking of movies, I watched more movies than I read books this month. (can I even call myself a bookworm?? o.o) It was a good mix -- Wonder, Thor: Ragnarok, Murder on the Orient Express, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay Part 1, and Wonder Woman. I feel like there was maybe one other I watched, but my mind is blanking, so it must've not been that memorable. :P

The other "big happening" of November is that I repainted my room! Guys, painting takes so long. It took several days of me working from after lunch until nine at night to complete this project, but the finished result was worth it. *happy squeal* (is it okay if I dump a few pictures on you? Because that's totally what I'm going to do)


There aren't as many highlights as usual, but it's proving difficult to think past, "wait, I did other things than write this month??" #NaNoWriMoProbs


The Book of Lost Things [3.5/5] - for some reason I thought this was a middle grade book, but... #nope It was kind of a mashup of fairytales, each of them taking an unexpectedly dark twist. Very unique! But also somewhat scattered.

Eliza and her Monsters [5/5] - THIS BOOK. *hugs it* It's about a webcomic writer whose work goes viral, and how she deals with the confusing meld of her online life and "real" life. I really, really loved it and could relate. <3

The Girl Who Drank the Moon [3/5] - I wanted to love this book, but... it kind of dragged on and on and not much happened. :/

December is going to be my month of BOOKS. I have a long list on my phone of books I want to read in December, so we'll see if it's possible to get through all of them. Renegades is my next read! Also look -- I received pretty buttons for preordering it. <3

*tries to refrain from mentioning the obvious* *fails* So, NaNoWriMo happened. (duhhh) Instead of repeating more rambles about the insanity, here are the links to my wrap up posts:


If you don't want to commit to reading through all of those posts, here's a short rundown:

  • Coffeemaker broke 
  • Sadness over coffeemaker
  • New coffeemaker bought!
  • Words written
  • Lots of words written
  • Words deleted (not on purpose. bothersome crashing computer -.-)
  • Some despair
  • Some excitement
  • MORE words written
  • YAY I HIT 50k
  • So many characters, much character problems
  • Strange lacking of pizza eating
  • Lots of yawning
  • Lots of staring at the ceiling
  • Lots of procrastination
  • LOTS OF WRITING
  • Wrote The End!
  • Time to sleep
  • Poor sore fingers

I saw this challenge below on my Facebook feed and couldn't help but participate: Scroll through your manuscript. Let the cursor fall where it may and you have one terrible title.

1. Weak Attempts At Talking
2. The Bottom
3. A Strange Experience
4. Kind Of A Mess
5. Screamed And Dropped
6. I Could Fly
7. Her Parents' Planters
8. Worrying About Life 

It's so hard for me to even choose a favorite. The last one is hilariously and unfortunately relatable, but "Kind Of A Mess" describes the novel's current state well. xD

What's next for me writing-wise? I usually take a writing break in December, but I'm so eager to start editing Where Shadows Lie again that I might just take it slowly. I ordered a coil-bound draft from Lulu for making scene edits which should be super fun. I've never edited on paper before. o.o

And I also ordered my first-draft copy of my superhero novel! (when I first wrote that sentence I accidentally wrote first draft coffee. #fail) I cannot wait to add it to my collection. I don't think I ever shared this in my NaNo posts, but there's a really special significance about my superhero story that I just realized. The whole concept is about superheros losing their powers at age eighteen, yeah? It's all about growing up and moving on from childhood, which is crazy because this is my last novel I wrote as a teen. o.o *sniff* I just thought that was really special. <3

Congrats to all the NaNoWriMo winners! It was neat scrolling through Twitter and seeing all the "winner" badges. But honestly congrats to anyone who managed to write words during this crazy month. You guys are all superheroes. <3

December is my annual blogging break! Which is sad, but I am looking forward to a break. Here's what the month will look like:

2nd - this post! yay for monthly highlights!
9th - a lovely guest post by a certain lovely author. (there may or may not be a giveaway, so be here for that!)
16th - no post! 
23rd - no post, but ON THIS DAY THERE WILL JUST BE TWO DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS. o.o
30th - end of the year wrap-up post!

I hope you all enjoy your December! This is the last month of the year, so let's try to make it count. 

<3,
katie grace

so. how are you nanoers?
what did you come up with in the "terrible title" challenge? xD

NANOWRIMO WEEK #4: LOTS OF MOVIE WATCHING AND I WROTE "THE END!"

Saturday, November 25, 2017
*stumbles into the blog post with tired eyes, a half-finished mug of coffee, and a blanket tied around my neck as a writing cape*

The end is near, you guys. You're almost done. You've made it this far -- I know you can make it to the end. *hands you cookies to sustain you through the rest NaNoWriMo (and the rest of this post ;)*

unsplash
DAY EIGHTEEN: 1,466
THE CLIMAX IS HAPPENING. THINGS ARE GOING DOWN. I knew this was going to be an intense scene since I first brainstormed it, but... eek. (Though... I'm afraid that my mind thinks it's more climatic than what's actually going down on paper. When I read back on it I might think, "oh, that's it?" BUT OH WELL THAT'S WHAT'S EDITING FOR, RIGHT?)

*sobs quietly at the thought of editing* *banishes that thought from my mind forever*

 
DAY NINETEEN: 0
Today was a break day! Sundays are always pretty busy days for me. Church and work and family and being tired from waking up early. :P So instead I did some reading. I'm currently reading The Book of Lost Things, which is kind of a modgepodge of fairytale retellings with darker twists? I probably explained that wrong but so far it's good. *nodnod*

ALSO. I totally forgot to share this on last week's blog post... BUT LOOK AT NADINE BRANDES' NEW COVER FOR HER HISTORICAL FANTASY RETELLING, FAWKES. (phew that was a lot of caps but this deserves allll the attention)


Isn't it gorgeous?? You can find out more about the book in her blog post where you can enter to win an ARC!

DAY TWENTY: 1,051
Even though today was a Monday, which means the start of another week of school, it was awesome for several reasons. Here's why.

  • I wrote at the coffee shop today! Which is always delightful.
  • I FINISHED THE CLIMAX?! Guys, I only have the resolution to finish, now. I could be done with this book in a couple of days. o.o *freaks out*
  • After writing, some of my coworkers and I went to go see Murder on the Orient Express. It was a "good" movie up until the twist, which it then became a "great" movie. My mind is still spinning. O.O
  • To wrap up the night I made myself some pizza. (mwahaha)

Today was a good day and I'm very thankful for that.

DAY TWENTY ONE: 796

Ughhh today was another sluggish day and I HAVE NO IDEA WHY. It is rather frustrating, but at the same time... I'm kind of okay with the words coming slowly? Because I probably have only around 5k left in this story, and it makes me sad to see it end. I've been incredibly invested in this story for the past few weeks -- it feels so weird to think about not working on it anymore. o.o

So maybe I'll write three hundred words a day for the rest of the month so I can my time with the book last more. xD

Oh! And I saw the movie Wonder today. It was a very emotional and touching movie that I highly recommend. <3

DAY TWENTY TWO: 2,075
I started this writing day wanting nothing to do with my novel. I developed a strong urge to do nothing but REEEEEAD. I have a massive TBR pile and I want to try to make at least a dent in it. *sobs*

But once I started writing... THE WORDS CAME SMOOTHLY AGAIN. *cheers* That might be because I had pie this evening, so the sugar fueled the words, mwahahaha. It was a chocolate-type-of-something-pie that tasted like pure amazingness. I'm not usually a huge pie fan (especially fruit pies, because I feel like fruit isn't meant to be soggy and baked), but if it has chocolate? SIGN ME UP. 

Also... I'm determined to finish this book tomorrow. O.O I have two more small scenes and an epilogue -- EEK.

DAY TWENTY THREE: 1,946
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! (I mean... by the time you read this Thanksgiving will have been two days ago... BUT I HOPE YOUR DAY WAS AMAZING ANYWAY. And filled with lots of food, mwahaha.)

To put it plainly: I'm stuffed. My dad surprised my sister and I with donuts for breakfast, and then we gorged ourselves with all the Thanksgiving food with our extended family. (mmm... dinner rolls... and mashed potatoes... and pie... <3 <3)

After the Thanksgiving festivities I did some writing, and then my family and I watched The Hunger Games. (which... is kind of ironic seeing that we watched it on a holiday that revolves around food) AND GUESS WHAT? 

During the movie...
I
finished
my
novel.

BOOM. Just like that... I'm done with NaNoWriMo. Typing that out makes it seem a little more real. Wow. *mind explodes*

I think I'm happy with how my novel came out. Obviously there are lots of things to fix, because it's a first draft, but I have a nice little list of editing notes to look back on when I finally decide to improve this story. It ended at 69,000 words, but there'll be lot to add later.

Also, I wrote my first epilogue?? It's a very bitter-sweet experience. *sniff* I think everything about finishing a book is rather bitter-sweet. :P

NANOWRIMO STATS:
 [these are stats from the whole month]

words written: 69,237
time spent writing: 41h, 35min
cups of coffee consumed: so many
books read: one and a half (this is a sad number)
movies watched: four
highest word count in a day: 5,441
lowest word count: 0

All in all, it was another successful NaNoWriMo. Is it weird to say that I'm a little sad that the insanity is done? I just really love the month-long thrill of being wrapped up in a story that I created.  And the incredible community that comes together during the crazy month! It's so cool. <3

I guess now the question is... what's next? First, I'm definitely devouring Renegades now that I've finished my novel. I'M SO EXCITED. (and I'm ignoring the negative reviews because I hope with all of my heart that I love this book)

And then for the rest of the month, I think I'm going to take it slowly. Catch up on blogging, reading, painting my room (yay!!), and anything else spontaneous that pops in my mind. ;) My poor brain could use a break. (and my sore wrists)

HOW ARE YOU SURVIVING. <-- I'm pretty sure I've asked that question in each of my NaNo posts so far... but it's a genuine question that the answer can change from week to week. xD

I'll be back next Saturday with my November highlights!

<3,
katie grace

have you been able to read any books during nano?