END OF THE YEAR GOALS // 2017

Saturday, September 23, 2017
"Huh," you may say as you read the title of this post. "This sounds familiar." 

Observant reader, it is familiar to you for a good reason. I've done two End of the Year Goals posts before -- one in 2015, and the other in 2016. I never feel like they're the most interesting topic... but they always turn out to be one of my most popular blog posts??? 

This is a fun and easier blog post to make, so hey -- I'm not complaining. xD Let's get into my goals for the end of the year.

1. NANOWRIMO
  • this one is so obvious I'm not even sure why I bother mentioning it.
  • I'm hoping to do more coffeeshop writing this November! I mean, I work at a coffeeshop, so that works out nicely. I can stay before and after shifts and enjoy a steaming cup of chai/coffee. <3
  • Speaking of coffee, I have a tradition of buying myself a coffee mug each year for NaNo.  AND HAVE YOU SEEN THE MERCH FOR THIS YEAR?!? It's all superhero themed, which is brilliant, since I'm writing a superhero story.
  • I've refrained for three years from buying any NaNo merch, so I'm taking this as a sign that I must buy my first NaNo T-Shirt. :D
  • I was talking to Jane in the comments of one of my other posts, and we were discussing this fear that we'd suddenly forget how to write. That I wouldn't be able to write fast, and when I sat down to make the words happen... they just wouldn't come. It's the type of fear that would take place in a writer's nightmare. I know it's illogical... but I find myself thinking it year after year.

2. PLOT MY NOVEL!
  • because in order to write a novel, I kind of need a plot. 
    • (I suppose this is optional, since I've chosen to forgo it before... but that method is not recommended if I want to keep most of my sanity while editing.)
      • [but no matter what I guess I'll lose some sanity while editing. heh.]
  • Another NaNo fear: what if I can't find a plot?
  • That fear had better not become a reality, because I don't have a plan B. 
  • My method of plotting:
    • brain-dumping all "what ifs" and "possible ideas" onto a notebook page
    • do the above step multiple times until there's a rough over-arcing plot structure
    • cry
    • eat food
      • preferably pizza
      • or cookies
      • or both
    • then use the magical snowflake method!

3. BRAINSTORM BLOG POSTS
  • going along with this theme of "fears..." I also fear that someday I'll run out of blog content to produce.
    • which is another Stupid Fear because there's always something to blog about.
      • like hippos
      • or rhinos
      • or pizza!
      • ahem.
  • but anyway, I want to be prepared for next year. I hate panicking on Friday night, wondering what to blog about... so by brainstorming ahead of time I can avoid the last-minute-writing-long-past-midnight.
    • (so if you have any posts you'd like me to write about... do let me know)
  • Since NaNoWriMo is coming up... I've been thinking about what I want to do blogging wise during November. The past couple years I've done weekly NaNo wrap up posts. Are those still interesting? 

4. KEEP MY ROOM CLEAN
  • HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
    • ha.
  • I may seem like I would be a neat and orderly person, seeing that I enjoy clean and minimalist and aesthetic looking things... but my room is a catastrophic disaster 97% of the time.
  • BUT having a clean room inspires me, so especially with NaNoWriMo coming up (sorry for continually reminding you oops), I want my writing area to be as motivating as it can be. 

5. ACQUIRE ANOTHER PAIR OF FUZZY SOCKS
  • Fuzzy socks are magical.
    • actually, socks in general are magical.
  • that is all there is to say about this goal. 
  • boo cold, frozen feet.
  • yay comforting, warm socks.

6. BRAINSTORM BULLET JOURNAL
  • so far I've been keeping up with my bullet journal throughout the year (yay!), but I'm hoping to do some new things with it in 2018.
  • right now it's more of a to-do list/planner, and while that's super helpful and motivating... I want to make it into more of an artsy journal.
  • because I won't want to look back on my to-do lists in ten years (they'll probably still all look the same: write, edit, blog, work. :P), but if I make it more personal, it's like a memory book of sorts! That's something future me will definitely want to flip through.
  • with things like:
    • memories
    • quotes
    • doodles
    • souvenirs/letters
    • printing out some pictures??
    • journal entries
    • thoughts about life
    • writing prompts
    • [along with the planners and to-do lists]
  • the prospect of a new year can sometimes be overwhelming, so this is one way I can hype myself up for 2018. xD (but shh it's still three months away so I shall refrain from talking about it)
<3,
katie grace

what are three things you want to accomplish by the end of the year?

THE STAGES OF CHARACTER BUILDING

Saturday, September 16, 2017
NaNoWriMo looms on the horizon, which means I've begun preparing for the epic month-long event. Most of my preparation includes stocking up on coffee, chocolate, and epic soundtracks. But I'm also giving another go at plotting. (hahahaha let the crying and frustration begin) 

Even though I'll officially start plotting in October, I've already had a few quick brainstorming sessions. So far I've exited them without a plot -- only hundreds of more questions and the miserable reminder of how terrible I am at characterization.

Maybe you love creating characters, maybe you hate it, or maybe you're like me and land somewhere in the middle. Regardless of how you feel, characterization is something that's essential to the writing process. 

Normally, this is where the post would segway into "Five Great Tips To Make Your Character Come Alive!" But I struggle just as much as anyone else, so instead we're going to talk about that struggle. :P

When crafting characters, I find myself slugging through three stages. They're not recommended stages -- I suggest you skip straight to the third one if possible -- but unfortunately I am not superhuman and must obey the laws of the writing process.

(This post was inspired by a conversation with the lovely Hannah!)


[[alternatively titled: the "old and crumbly gingerbread man" stage, or the "thin and spindly stick person" stage.]]

Ahh, you've heard of cardboard cutouts. It's a common phrase when referring to flat, boring, and unpersonable heroes. In this first stage, it's impossible to define my character as the hero -- instead they're basically an unemotional blob meandering through my novel's plot. 

My character wouldn't even react if they were stabbed, since they have no feelings or motives or understanding of emotions. I have to drag them through the actions like an amateur robot whose coding is completely whacked up. Trying to build a connection with my character is like pulling teeth. Or smacking my head on my keyboard a bajillion times out of pure frustration. 

Needless to say, I'm not on great terms with my character during this dreaded first stage. They always frustrate me with their lack of personality, and the thought of editing my novel with a hero this boring drives me insane. Sometimes, before I drift off to sleep, I quietly chant to myself this important reminder: don't kill them out of annoyance, don't kill them out of annoyance, don't...

via
Stage number two is where improvement slowly starts to happen (very... very... slowly...). I stop wanting to kill my character and maybe just seriously injury or maim them instead. Now they've transformed from the thin slab of cardboard into a functioning lego character, complete with dimension, shape, movement, and the possibility of a small brain in that little yellow noggin of their's.

At this point we're not best friends... but in mutual agreement that there's hope for the future. It's a growing relationship! And whether we like it or not, we're stuck with each other, because once a character, always a character. (Unless they die. Or unless I'm completely ruthless and cut their whole story arc out of the novel. #beentheredonethat)

via
After HUNDREDS of long hours, working late into the night, and countless drafts... my cardboard lego person finally evolves into what they were meant to be from the beginning: a character. It's like my little child escaped the "terrible twos" and now everything in the story can come together. My hero reacts to hand stabbing or terrible events like a normal human. They have fear and strength and problems and moments of victory.

This sounds awesome, right? I mean, my character and I are getting along! They've become a hero a reader can relate to -- it's what I've been working toward from stage one... but now I feel guilty about their hard and perilous journey. 

When they ache, I ache. When they must travel through haunted forests and fight creatures of the deep, I get scared! When they become injured in any way (or die. WHOOPS.), I feel horrible. I finally built up this connection with my character, only to betray them by killing off their parents or best friend or pet. Go me.

It's a lot easier on my conscious to lead a soulless cardboard cutout through my story instead of a friend... but it all pays off in the end when the novel is a thousand times better because of it. My character would otherwise disagree, but OH WELL. These are the woes of a writer. :P

<3,
katie grace

what about you? do you struggle with characterization?

NEW FIRST DRAFT COPIES! (+vlog)

Saturday, September 9, 2017
Hellooo! I hope this September Saturday morning brings you sunshine and coffee and all things awesome. Huzzah for having a whole weekend ahead of us! 

Last May I ordered paperback copies of my novels -- first draft versions. I wrote a whole post on that and the process. I 100% recommend doing this, and I enjoyed it so much that I did it again. :P Today we're touring the new versions and why I redid them.



I included a selection of photos in this post, but ultimately I felt like it would be easier to showcase the books in a video, so I went ahead and recorded a video. I kept the video under eight minutes so I don't waste a huge chunk of your day (more time for writing and editing!). But if you're not a video type of person, there's a short overview of the books below. 

So I guess today is a vlog and a blog post. It's a vlog post! (ha... ha... ha... :P)


[enjoy my excited rambles about books! And maybe it's just my computer... but the automatic playback quality is super low so make sure to adjust it if it looks horrible xD]

I'm going to be repeating a lot of what I said in the video, so don't feel like you have to read on if you already watched it.

"So why order new copies, Katie, if you already bought some?"

Good question. BECAUSE LOOK AT HOW GORGEOUS THESE ARE.

Now for a real answer. 

  • I really love the clean and minimalist design
  • these books are a matte finish which looks (and feels!) a lot nicer
  • EVERYTHING MATCHES!
    • even the interior matches. same font, same size, same color, etc.
  • when sitting on the shelf, it's more obvious that I wrote these, and they're not just a really bad collection of self-published novels :P
  • someday I'll publish one of these books, and the professional copy will be so fun to compare to the plain white version!
  • I also wanted these books to be smaller (5x8 instead of 6x9)
  • there were some formatting mistakes on my other copies, so I knew what I had to do differently for these!



Most of the interior changes were nitpicky little things, but I did add headers to my novels! As you can see above, I inserted the title on the top right of the page, and (below) my name on the top left. I suppose there's not much point in doing this, because I'm the only one who will ever read these hideous versions... but it looks nice and professional. xD


The only text I put on the back of the book was how long it took me to write them. I forgot to put the date on my newest novel. -.- I was a sad human the moment I realized my mistake. *sigh* Oh well. It's a first draft, so the cover might as well display the true state of the inside -- imperfect.

(and by imperfect I mean very, very, very imperfect. I fear for the person who accidentally peeks inside one of my firsts drafts and passes out from the mere shock and horror of it all. xD)

Last time I ordered my books using Lulu, and this time I chose CreateSpace. They both work super well, but I chose the latter this time because CreateSpace has a matte finish option.


Thanks for reading and/or watching! Bit of a shorter post, so I want to hear what's going on with all of you guys! Any plans for today or the weekend? Any good books you've read recently? I stayed up past midnight last night reading Electric at the Midnight. IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL. <3 <3

And to any of those that are being impacted by Hurricane Irma... be safe. I'm sending some prayers your way.

<3,
katie grace

AUGUST HIGHLIGHTS // 2017

Saturday, September 2, 2017
It's the end of summer, and I'm completely okay with that. Because fall means writing with sweaters, chai, soft instrumentals, scented candles, and fuzzy socks. I mean... what can get better than that? (beside ordering a pizza)

Before we completely move on to fall, here's a look back at August and the last of the summer days.

Every month in my bullet journal I have a column for special memories, and it's quite amusing how many of them are food related: homemade quesadillas! coldstone ice cream! pizzzaaaa! donuts! constant coffee drinking! So there's my quick food overview for August. :P

I attended TWO weddings this month, which is kind of insane considering the fact that I haven't been to a wedding in about ten years. Both weddings served extremely delicious cupcakes (like a Snickers one! o.o), so that was a win!

This made me laugh until I cried:
Still working a bunch at Starbucks. Now that college has started there have been a lot more students in our lobby, and I've also begun to hang around writing before and after my shifts. It's just a pleasant atmosphere, yeah? There's something about a coffeeshop that increases productivity by ten thousand percent. (it's not a proven fact but it might as well should be)

The lovely Gabriela and I are watching Stranger Things together (very slowly, since life is a thing for both of us), and my sister and I have been (also slowly) enjoying Pysch. I don't think I could ever be a binge-watcher, no matter how appealing that sounds. There are so many other things to do! Unless I'm sick. Then I'll binge-watch away.

My sister and I also discovered the hilarity that is Studio C. Their YouTube videos are absolute GOLD (and clean!). But goodness, there are so many of them. Any favorite sketches I should definitely watch?

Music finds of the month:

Alcatraz // Oliver Riot -- catchy tune! it's one of those where you can't help but tap your foot along to the beat. I feel like this could be a soundtrack for a character?

Haze // Amber Run -- it's a sad song, but sometimes the soul needs to listen to an achingly beautiful sad song. the vocals are amazing, the lyrics are amazing, and it might be one of my new favorites so GO LISTEN TO IT. (I first found this song at night when it was raining and it fits so well <3)

I've come to the conclusion that it's finally time to lower my Goodreads goal. I reduced it from 100 to 60. *winces* And even with the new goal, I'm STILL behind. Pathetic, I know. BUT SOMEHOW I SHALL PREVAIL.

I read three published books this month. I also went through Alea's novella, but... unfortunately that doesn't count toward my Goodreads goal. -.-


Strange the Dreamer [2/5] - it started off amazing, and I thought for sure it was going to be a five star book! but then the plot dragged on and not a lot happened and I got bored, so it quickly became a two star book. :P

1984 [4/5] - dude, this is an example of a very intense dystopian society. o.o also, it was one of the first classics that I actually enjoyed!

Saint Anything [4/5] - cute fluffy book that is about family and friends and there is LOTS of pizza so obviously I loved it.

AND LOOK! Moving onto bookish news... one of my favorite authors and friend, Nadine Brandes, has signed a book contract with Thomas Nelson! You can proceed to run over to her blog and read all the little story tidbits she spilled. :D


I've falling in love with handwriting, which isn't good news for NaNoWriMo...
WHY IS WRITING SO HARD? *sobs* Hannah and I were talking about making progress on writing and editing, and I told her that "I feel like a snail." Seriously. Getting anything accomplished is taking 10000x longer than it normally does. Last week it took me thirty minutes to rewrite 300 words. I was focused the whole time, too. Just??? Why?? Usually it takes me under ten minutes?? 

I'm hoping that I can speed up the pace in September. Obviously I want to make sure that the content I'm producing is quality... but at this rate I'm not sure if I'm ever going to finish this draft, and that would be quite unfortunate. Feel free to yell at me to go and edit anytime. :P

September will be my final push before the NaNoWriMo prep starts! All I have for NaNo is this vague superhero idea... and it isn't much to go off of. It better work out, because I don't have a plan B. :P

OH! The first draft copies I ordered of my books finally arrived! I plan to share some pictures and maybe a snippet of a vlog later in September (if I can get my act together and actually take pictures and record a video :P). But they're very gorgeous and it's hard not to keep staring at them.


Lisa decided to be the sweetest person on this planet and wrote an entire blog anniversary celebration post for me! I read it, squealed, and proceeded to lay face first on the ground because I didn't know how to handle the excitement. :P

Erin, one of my favorite bloggers, just redid her blog design and it is GORGEOUS. She's just an all around talented and lovely person, so do check out her site

I'm so tempted to link to every post Rosalie writes because they're all so awesome, but instead here is her latest one that really connected with me. It's about passion gone wrongWhen Something I Love Became Something It Shouldn't.

-

I hope your August was amazing, and if it wasn't... I hope that September goes better for you. May the words and inspiration (and motivation, ha) come easily! Let's go conquer this month and our goals together. 

<3,
katie grace

what do you hope to accomplish in September?
have you discovered any new music this month?

THREE YEAR BLOG ANNIVERSARY

Saturday, August 26, 2017
*crashes in with streamers and balloons and glitter and upbeat tunes and cookies and PIZZAAA!*

Happy Saturday! I'm assuming that you've read the title of this post, but in case you have something against blog titles and skipped it over... it's my three year blog anniversary! (it's technically tomorrow... but I'm celebrating it today since I always post on Saturdays so close enough)

Today I'm going to take a lil' nostalgic trip back through my blogging journey. Last year I went ALL OUT for my two year anniversary -- giveaway! fancy pictures! elaborate Q+A video! Naturally, this year's celebration should be bigger and even more extravagant. The longer I blog the better I'm supposed to become, right?

Heh. Well, yes. Supposedly.

I don't have anything complicated and wonderful planned -- just an overview. I had the idea of sending everyone a pizza so we could all eat and celebrate together, but that didn't end up working (surprise, surprise). Instead I'll eat pizza all lonely-like in my own house, and you can do the same from wherever in the world you live. Deal?

I could go on and on about pizza, but it's probably best to move on. Insert celebration post. :)

the pictures in this post are from my cousin's extremely aesthetic wedding <3 <3 <3
STATS
AFTER ONE YEAR OF BLOGGING // 2015
followers: 121
posts: 82.
AFTER TWO YEARS OF BLOGGING // 2016
followers: 308
posts: 144
AFTER THREE YEARS OF BLOGGING // today!!
followers: 504
posts: 176
TOTAL PAGEVIEWS: 185,233
TOTAL COMMENTS: 7,965


I share these stats, not to brag (not that there's much bragging to do, ha) but to show that growing a blog takes time. It means posting consistently, getting your name out in the blogosphere, and producing quality content. Keeping a blog means hard work, but ultimately doing it because you enjoy the process and the challenge. 

I truly do enjoy blogging -- especially with how it's brought me new friends and experiences and opportunities and the chance to shout my love for stories and pizza across the internet (and write really long run-on sentences *cough*). Does that mean I enjoy every single part of blogging? No. I don't enjoy pounding out a post at two in the morning or trying to break my brain over HTML coding. But when I'm able to finish that blog post anyway, or conquer the coding... that makes the frustration worth it. It's certainly taught me a lot about perseverance. :P

One of the most helpful things I've learned throughout blogging is how important it is for me to keep a schedule. There's that expectation set up for the readers from the start whether it be a post a day or a post a month. But a schedule keeps me accountable. It's hard for me to say "I'll post on Saturday!" and then not follow through on that. I've kept this up for three years in a row, so it's obviously worked out fairly well. ;)

Posting every week on Saturday means a lot of late Friday nights for me. Some teens spend their Friday nights partying, blasting music, eating food, staying up long past midnight. I also do this. Just exchange the partying with blog post writing. :P

*awkward transition* Let's look at the most popular posts, eh? My most viewed one from all time is How Writing Has Shaped My Everyday Life. That post was inspired by a question Emily Drown asked, so thank you for that, Emily. You're fabulous. :P


NaNo Week #3 // Snow, Snippets, and A Sluggish Brain is my second most viewed post?? Which is a bit strange, since it's nothing special?? I'm a bit confused by that, but... okay. xD


Finally, Being Real is my third most viewed post. It's a collection of thoughts about life and how we present ourselves on the internet. Ultimately, it's a promo post for a collaborative post for Burning Youth. I haven't posted much on there, still, but I'm looking forward to more in the future. :D



It's been an incredible, crazy year of blogging. I've made new friends, hit 1,000 followers on Twitter, gone to conferences, and taken more pictures which I am posting semi-consistently on Instagram. (and I'm planning on posting more often so let's become insta buddies xD)

And can you believe that I've now had this blog design for an entire year? I'm very happy I haven't accidentally destroyed the coding while experimenting a few times... (oops)

I'm looking forward to this next year of blogging. NaNo is looming ever closer, and I've been brainstorming blog topics so I don't have that last minute panic of, "ohmygoshIhavenoideawhattopostandit'stenatnightonfriday" (good luck deciphering that.)

There are so many people I want to thank. If you do comment, make sure to check back for my reply because I really want to take the time to individually appreciate all you lovely people who never fail to brighten my day with your words. That's my favorite part of blogging: making friends with other readers and writers!

Here's to another amazing year. <3

<3,
katie grace

[also, before you leave... my good friend Athelas is setting up a blog tour for Bryan Davis! If you want to feature him and the book (a MG superhero novel which sounds positively epic o.o) on your blog... sign up here.]

how long have you been blogging for?
thank you for celebrating!

DEAR SENIOR YEAR,

Saturday, August 19, 2017
In a few weeks, it will be fall. It's hard to believe -- as a barista I'm bracing myself for the pumpkin-spice craving rampages, and as a student I'm bracing myself for my final year of school. *distant, terrified screaming*

A while back I wrote "dear senior year" as an idea for a blog topic. I honestly can't remember what sort of route I wanted to take this, but it sounds like a letter to the upcoming school year, so I'm going to treat it as such. It might be more of a rambling, "here's what's currently on my mind" type of post, but we'll give it a try.


dear senior year,

I thought you'd never come.

I know -- I'm wrong to doubt -- but I remember being a little girl counting down the years on my fingers until I'd graduate school. First I had to use both hands, all ten fingers for ten years, but eventually I only needed one hand, and now I can count my remaining year on one finger.

No matter how many times I tell this to myself, it doesn't seem to sink in: I'm graduating in less than a year. I'm going to be an adult in less than a year.

Um. What. (???!)

Half of me is still convinced that I am a little child. I'm writing this post on my desk, and just yesterday I spontaneously danced in the rain. I don't like vegetables. Animated movies are my favorite. I don't play and make believe stories with my dolls anymore, but I do that with characters and isn't that basically the same thing?

But then the other half is me is so ready. I've never been one to enjoy school, and the thought of working instead actually excites me. Still -- it's scary and involves adulting and even more busyness.

I remember watching the seniors in our Church -- they stood around in circles and talked instead of playing games. They were so much older and mature and welcoming and kind. Now it's crazy to think that I'm in their position. Except I don't feel as mature as they looked. You bet I'm playing a gym game if there's a chance. :P

Life, from now until this time next year, is going to change an insane amount. Graduating! Turning 18! Full-time job! Possibly querying! Buying a car! Writing two books! Publishing fifty more blog posts! Hopefully making new friends! Strengthening old friendships! 

Lots and lots of new things. o.o

I'm realizing that, even though I really don't like school, there's something strangely comforting about it. It's what I've done for twelve years of my life -- there's ease in the known! There's no thinking about what comes next; I just do the next lesson in my workbook day after day after day after day...

But I'm learning that transitions like this will happen all throughout my life. I'm a writer, obviously (hopefully that's not hard to figure out). Lord willing, I'll eventually transition from this book writing stage to the publishing world. It'll be the scary unknown of graduating highschool all over again.

The unknown is daunting -- the uncertainty of "what's going to come next?" But do you know what's the good thing about all of this?
No one goes through the journey of life alone.
It may seem like it at times, I know, but even when people fail you, God is still there. Everyone is struggling with something in their life, and he's there for all of it. 

And that's one of the most comforting things (yes, even more comforting than a giant cheese pizza in your lap while curled up in a fuzzy blanket watching the best movie ever) in the world. 

I'm not sure what this post turned into... but enjoy or relate or take from it what you will. Sometimes blog posts turn into an overhaul of thoughts. xD

<3,
katie grace

what new experiences is fall bringing for you?

WHY I WOULD BE A HORRIBLE BOOK CHARACTER

Saturday, August 12, 2017
Sometimes, when watching movies and reading books, I like to imagine myself as the main character. I wonder how well I'd survive in their position -- seeing that most of them fight dragons and evil overlords -- and after much thought, I've reached the conclusion that I'd be a terrible main character (specifically in fantasy/sci-fi novels)

Here's why.

Aside from the occasional castle feast and stale chunk of bread in their sack... when do characters eat?! They're off adventuring from dawn to dusk with minimal amounts of food. Sheesh, don't they need sustenance for energy? While they starve, I'm over here relating with Pippin and wondering why there aren't consistent meal (and snack!) breaks.

[I really love Pippin xD]
I've mentioned this on the blog before, but I'm a hardcore night owl. I'll stay up past midnight writing books, reading books, reorganizing my books, gazing fondly upon my books... (ahem) There's something about the late hour that inspires me to get all the things done -- even unfavorable tasks like cleaning my room or doing some school work..

Mornings on the other hand.... HAHAHAHAHAHA. #nope

I don't know about you, but I definitely wouldn't be able to wake up in the forest (assuming that I got any sleep on the rock hard earth), ready to fight monsters and trek across mountains. These characters have endless amounts of energy!

Also how do they wake up without an alarm? The army may ride at dawn, but without prompting I won't show up until noon. (And that's assuming I had enough time to go down to the kitchen and scrounge for some breakfast. Muffins, anyone?)

Petition to start shelving fantasy/sci-fi books in the superhero section because W O W their strength and endurance is basically superhuman. Think of all the running and fighting they constantly do! I'm very impressed (even though it doesn't take much to impress me but shhh).

As these warriors master swordfighting and archery after a few days of practice (probably with a broken limb or two because #conflict), I'd still be gathering enough muscle in my arms to pick up the extremely heavy weapons. Have you ever shot a bow and arrow? It's tough -- I can't imagine doing the action again and again during a battle that lasts for hours. 

Plus these characters need insane emotional strength since they're almost killed every other page. I'm surprised there aren't more mental breakdowns, to be honest. I think I'd need to find a nice tree to sit under so I could have a good cry. xD

Need I say more? 

There's a strange lack of pizza in novels, and that fact alone rules me out from becoming a book character. If the other challenges didn't kill me, the grief of being without pizza surely would. :')

- - -

I'm well aware that this post sounds pathetic. But don't worry! I'm exaggerating only slightly (ha...ha...). I'm going to go take a moment to be thankful that I'm not "the chosen one" because I'm pretty sure nothing good could ever come from that. (except for maybe a new book idea? maybe that would justify everything...)

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed that somewhat ridiculous post! Next week is my three year blog anniversary (!!!!) and though I have nothing planned, it'll still be fun to take a look back. xD

Make your weekend amazing! May the words flow smoothly and lots of writing get done. :)

<3,
katie grace

WHAT TO DO WITH CONFLICTING BETA READER FEEDBACK

Saturday, August 5, 2017
It's officially August! How is everyone recovering from Camp NaNoWriMo? I edited for over four and a half hours on the last day in order to meet my goal, and now I'm a little worn out from all of that. I tried writing two different posts before finally settling on this topic -- sometimes the words don't like to word and it annoys me greatly. -.-

This post is inspired about a message I received from the lovely Jeneca:
"I'm confused about what to do with all my beta reader feedback. Some said the dialogue was natural, others thought it not. Some thought the christian elements were natural and well done, while others thought it was too easy and the characters wouldn't reach such conclusions. What did you do with conflicting beta feedback?"
I had many of these same problems when I sent my novel to beta readers (w o w it's been over a year by now). So after some messaging back and forth, here are the tips Jeneca and I compiled:


1. STUDY THE FEEDBACK

In my novel, there was one character in particular that everyone had different opinions on. Most said he was their favorite, but several others said, "eh, he falls in the background and I feel like I don't actually know him." I could've just gone with the majority, but instead I took the time to study his story and his role and realized that yes, he's a likeable character, but I should dive into his thoughts and mind a bit more. He wasn't as developed as he could have been, and that's what the scattered negative opinions picked up on.

Evaluating comments and the story will take a long time, but it isn't supposed to be an easy process. Use your feedback for brainstorming and re-outlining. Your betas have given you an immensely helpful gift.

And hey, if making pie charts and graphs and all that fancy stuff is how you roll, DO THE THING. 

2. KNOW WHO YOU'RE SENDING THE STORY TO

This kind of goes along with studying the feedback. But are the people you're sending your precious little baby to fantasy and sci-fi readers? Have they beta read before? Are they your mom (because chances are their opinion might be a liiiitle biased)? Do they read the same genres as you? 

Knowing their tastes, likes, and dislikes, can help you discover if their feedback is a preference or an actual problem. Different people like different things. Goodness, sometimes I scroll through Goodreads and find it crazy how someone's one star read is a five star read for me. You're not going to please everyone. It's easiest to accept that now.

3. CONSIDER ASKING YOUR BETAS FOLLOW UP QUESTIONS

I hated doing this step, because my betas had already done me a HUGE favor as it was... but, say, if several people struggled with the worldbuilding in your story, considering asking them, "What exactly about it was unbelievable? What sparked the confusion?"

Sometimes digging deeper into the why it was a problem can make the answer clearer. I had to ask one of my betas to expand on their feedback with my own world, which made me realize that I needed to expand my culture and history and traditions of my desert land.

One way to help avoid this is to have really clear and specific questions for your beta readers to answer. Some people I know are crazy talented editors and able to point out problems without being prompted. But if you're wondering about the structure of your story's ending, be sure to ask your critiquers!

4. REVISE AND RESEND

If you're 100% stuck and have no idea which way to go on some of the issues presented... ask another set of eyes to give it a read through. Maybe this person can solely focus on the struggle you're having with a certain character or plot point.

But whether you're having problems or not, it's a good idea to have a couple rounds of betas. They tend to comment on the parts that are most problematic, so once you fix those, you can send it off to a new group of people and dig a little deeper into the revisions. 

5. SOMETIMES YOUR GUT IS THE WAY TO GO

Gentle reminder that this is your story -- your heart's story, so make sure not to take the heart away. You wrote certain parts in certain ways for very specific reasons. Studying the logic and reasons for the beta reader's answers will help make things clear, but in the end it's your decision. Fix and keep what's best and stays true to your novel. <3

Don't be afraid to kill your darlings and hash them to pieces for the sake of making your story the best it can be.
("darlings" being the words + phrases in your novel, and not the actual characters haha)

<3,
katie grace

have you ever struggled with conflicting feedback?
how have you dealt with it?

JULY HIGHLIGHTS // 2017

Saturday, July 29, 2017
July was a good month, but I'm excited for August to come.

I know I comment on the busyness of life every month... but I honestly think July was my busiest month yet. *collapses* I think I feel this way after every NaNo month -- exhausted and accomplished... but really just ready for a break after all the late nights of writing after work and school and life. :P

Let me say this: I really love movies. I know I'm a bookworm and I feel a little traitorous by typing that... but movies hold a special place in my heart. July's movies can be summed up by one character: Spider-Man. I watched the original Spider-Man, Amazing Spider-Man, and the newest one twice! Bet you can't guess who my favorite superhero is. :P

I also saw the movie Dunkirk! It's not my usual genre -- I don't think I've really ever watched a war movie, but the trailer looked awesome, the music sounded awesome, and Christopher Nolan directed it, so I knew it would be awesome. It was such a different movie, which is why I loved it so much. It's like it was made of a series of moments, not focusing on the big picture, but the memories and images that stand out. It's hard to explain so you'll just have to go and see it for yourself. But, man. I want to write books like Christopher Nolan directs movies. <3

Switching to talking about blogging... One night, when I was supposed to be editing, I became inspired and did some coding for a new sidebar widget. If you're reading this post in your browser on a desktop, you can hover over the images under the "read more" section and it should direct you to new posts. (The HTML coding might've broken my brain but I'm glad I finally figured it out :P)

This happened this month:

So. Reading this month. *laughs nervously* ...I read three books. (and bought four. heh. (pictured above) No, not the greatest. Not the worst, but I'm okay with it. I'm debating whether I should change my Goodreads goal from 100 to... something lower. But that feels like cheating, and I don't know what to change it to, and part of me hopes to still reach 100 even though there's like a .0001% chance of that still happening. (one can dream :P)


Even if it wasn't a good month for reading lots of books... LOOK AT HOW GORGEOUS ALL THOSE COVERS ARE (!!!). That automatically makes everything a bit better. xD

The Night Circus [3/5]
The Scorpio Races [5/5]
Kingdom of Ash and Briars [1/5]

Along the lines of good and bookish things... I finally converted my sister into the bookworm world. She's cruising through the Lunar Chronicles faster than any of the books I read this month, and this is HUGE, considering she read a total of like three books last year. So I'm a happy and proud older sister. :')


[editing on Independence Day with appropriately themed pen colors :P]
So many writing things have gone done this month. I started off July strong with finishing my novel, WTaRR. I'm not happy with the ending (or most of the book, if we're being honest), but I'm just glad to be done with it. This novel has become my new "problem child," and I'm content to let it rest on the shelf for a good couple years months before tackling edits.

Meanwhile, I'm slowly cranking along with my Camp NaNo goal (90 minutes a day). I'm behind (no surprise) BUT I'M DETERMINED TO STILL MAKE IT! I'm editing the second draft of Where Shadows Lie. I spent the first week of Camp re-outlining the entire plot, which was exhausting, but SO. WORTH. IT. I finally solved a plot hole hole that's been bothering me since I've plotted this novel, and I couldn't be more relieved. (it's the best feeling ever <3)

Also... *whisper*
(I feel like my month could be summarized as "a superhero-y kind of month" :P)

By the way, I'm insanely jealous of all you lucky people who went to Realm Makers this year. I didn't think I would get very envious, but the pictures and workshop tidbits are being posted and I want a teleportation device now more than ever. 


*whisper* August is going to be my three year blogging anniversary. o.o And I have nothing planned. Any ideas or posts you want to see? Otherwise I might do things a little more laid-back this year. It'll be a surprise for everyone involved. :P

Jeneca and I had a lovely conversation about conflicting feedback from critiquers and beta readers, so I might wrap up some of the points we discussed in a post ('tis a tricky matter).

I look forward to chatting with all of you in August! Enjoy the last month of summer. *sniff* (but that means fall is next, which is my favorite season, so I can't be too sad. ;)

<3,
katie grace

did you buy any books this month?
watch any good movies?

#WIPjoy - Where Shadows Lie

Saturday, July 22, 2017
Happy Saturday!

Have you heard of #WIPjoy? If you're not familiar with it, it's a Twitter hashtag created by Bethany Jennings that involves daily prompts and chances for writers to share about their novel. She's created a lovely Twitter community full of writers encouraging each other and becoming excited over future stories. :D

The idea is that you keep up with the hashtag, tweeting your answers every day... but I have a habit of forgetting about it and falling behind (whoops). So I'm going to choose my favorite questions and compile them in a blog post. 


describe yourself and your WIP

I'm a pizza eating, pun making, and story flailing, and bad-at-describing-myself writer. :P

My WIP is called Where Shadows Lie, and it follows Eerie, a young girl, trying to save her parents from shape-shifting shadows. (and that's the best I can do for a one sentence pitch xD)

your first inspiration for this WIP

I feel like a lot of writers get their first inspiration for the plot or characters, but I usually get my ideas from a mood/aesthetic/vibe/feel (who knows if that makes sense xD). I was on the way to a youth retreat with my youth group. We drove past a hauntingly beautiful forest of birch trees and BOOM! I immediately knew that I had to make their twisting branches and shadows my next story setting. 

would you rather: get trapped in your story for a week, or have your antagonist enter your life for a day?

BOTH OF THESE SOUND EQUALLY TERRIFYING. Have my antagonist enter my life? Uhh, no thanks, especially if they're specifically in my life to hunt me down, and, er, finish me. 

I would love to meet the characters in my world... but I'm not sure how I well I'd survive with the shadows and the creepy forest and the shape-shifting darkness. I'd probably have to go with that option, though. How could I pass down an opportunity like that? <3 (I feel like being trapped in my story is basically like being trapped in my own mind for a week. #research xD)

a line you nailed perfectly

I'm not one to share a lot of my writing, and it's rare for me to be insanely confident with one line... but I spent forever trying to come up with the title for my first chapter and I'm happy with how it turned out:
chapter one: beware the monsters of the birchwood forest  
I'm also fairly satisfied with my first line?? (below)
We can't leave, because the shadows won't let us.
So the first two lines are great, and then everything's a mess from there on out. xD

your MC's aesthetic in seven phrases


fierce little warrior sandy bare feet chopped hair adventurer best friend is a fox talks to the trees

would you rather: never publish this WIP, or watch it be adapted into a horrible movie?

OKAY THAT'S JUST AN EVIL QUESTION. *shudders* Are you trying to torture me? ('cause you're succeeding)

*comes back to this question after a literal ten minutes of thinking about it*

I've decided that I'd be okay with either. Yeah, I'd love to publish this WIP, but I have so many novels in my future! I've got time -- lately I've been talking about not rushing the process, and this is part of that.

If this WIP was made into a horrible movie, at first I would be terribly disappointed. But look at the Percy Jackson movies -- everyone hates those, but the books are still insanely popular and loved. If anything, it would drive more traffic back to the original story.

So, like any other "would you rather" question I'm given, I can't decide. But there's my reasoning for both. :P

choose an ideal reading spot, food, drink, and music to go with your book


reading spot: quiet window seat with the view of a gray, stormy sea
food: pizza DUH
drink: CHAI. <3 or tea. or coffee. really anything cozy and soothing would work
music: haunting instrumentals, Aurora, the sound of the crashing waves, aching silence

what's something you're still figuring out about this WIP?

Beside the plot and the beginning and the middle and the characters and the setting and the conflict and the story arc? (you think I'm kidding but I'm mostly serious. :P)

The ending. Endings are incredibly difficult for me. (because no matter how great of a beginning you have, I feel like the reader is always going to walk away from the book with the emotion you give them at the end: are they satisfied? disappointed? angry? inspired?)

share a thought that keeps you going as a writer

Here's a couple because I can't just keep it to one:
You're the only person who can write this story.
A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit. (Richard Bach)
A writer is a writer not because she has amazing talent, or because everything she does is golden. A writer is a writer because, even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway. (Junot Diaz)
The secret to writing is pizza. (Katie Grace (hehe...)
a line that was hard to write

The answer to this question would mean copying and pasting my 77,000 word novel into this blog post, because every. single. sentence. proved to be difficult and took much thought and creativity.

So. There. Writing is hard. :P

why do you yearn to share this story with the world?

It's a story that's unique to only my heart and mind -- one that God's given me to write, and I will write it to the best of my abilities. I yearn to share it so that I can meet and encourage others through it. Storytelling is a powerful, beautiful thing. <3

- - -
Here is the complete compilation of the #WIPjoy prompts (click on the image for a larger version). I encourage you to write a post about your WIP using the questions, because I'm always curious as to what everyone's writing. ^.^

<3,
katie grace

how did you get the inspiration for your WIP?