WRITING IS AWESOME

Saturday, October 21, 2017
The year isn't quite over, but it's quickly coming to a close. For me, November means NaNoWriMo and writing whenever possible, and December means reading and Christmas and trying to recover from the previous sleepless month (aka: regaining my sanity).

I've learned a lot about writing this year -- more so than any other year. I've learned about the world of publishing, the art of crafting a novel, my limits, how I work best, re-evaluating my WIPs and thinking about my next steps in this journey.


One of the most valuable lessons I learned was during Camp NaNoWriMo back in April. My words ran dry. My creative soul was tired, brain pushed to its max with all of my crazy ambitions. I was bored with my story, frustrated with my goals, and losing energy, so I didn't have much of a choice but to take a break. 

I wrote a post during that break: The Joy in Stress Free Writing, where I said that I would take writing slowly until I rediscovered that passion. I'm someone who is driven by conquering goals and challenges, so it felt weird to not have any of those hanging over my head and clogging my to-do list.

It's been five months since my writing break. Did I rediscover the enjoyment?! Did it help? Did it teach me anything??

Well, yes. It taught me two things in particular.

1. I can't stop writing.
I've tried gymnastics. I've tried playing the piano. I've tried swimming. I've tried ice skating. I've tried painting. <-- I enjoyed all of these activities for a certain amount of time, but eventually lost interest. 

Writing is a different story (<-- I think I just accidentally made a really lame pun). When I take a writing "break," I find myself doing some anyway just because I enjoy it so much. Even editing isn't quite as bad as it used to be. Now I've come to appreciate how I'm making my story better and dream about it being on the bookshelves one day. *happy sigh*

The month I took off in May showed me how hard it was for me to take a break.  Yes, I may have taken a break from my story, but my writer brain is always churning, always thinking about some future idea. 

2. I can't stop writing because I really, really, really like writing.
Like I said before, I didn't like taking a break, but it helped me rediscover the joy in writing.

Let me clarify before you read into that: I never stopped liking writing... but I did let the stress and the pressure to overachieve impact the enjoyment. There's magic in creating characters and worlds, and that had dwindled.

So I kept my goals smaller than normal, trying to avoid another burnout or having this become a reoccurring problem. And hey -- it worked! Instead of trying to finish a full round of edits for Camp NaNoWriMo, I only went for half of my novel. I didn't get as much done, but I also didn't end the month hating my novel. (always a good thing)

I've fully recovered from the burnout, and goodness, I've realized how much I really loke writing. I love creating worlds. I love penning stories that can transport the reader to another dimension. (unfortunately not literally. though that would be rather impressive if I could send readers to a warped time in space xD)

When I first started writing I wanted to become a published teen author. I still think that would be awesome, but I also realize that my chances of that happening are becoming slimmer. And I'm okay with that.

Even if I'm never published, I'll keep writing because I enjoy it. 
I enjoy the escape, the thrill, the community around stories. God's given me this ability and place to spew my creativity. (and don't worry -- even though I'm content with being unpublished... I'm still going to work as hard as I can to become an official author. :P) 

I don't even know what my point is for this post. Writing is awesome, guys. And it's important for me to keep checking in with myself: am I writing because it's become a responsibility -- another task to complete and wordcount to meet? Or because I truly enjoy it? It's incredibly easy to get wrapped up in the hustle.

So someday I'll be seventy years old, counting down the days until NaNoWriMo, writing my 50th novel or something crazy like that. I'll have a cupboard overflowing with an enormous assortment of coffee mugs and tea cups. I'll be the NaNo grandma -- writing because she can't stop. Writing because she enjoys it.

(now I'm giggling over that image. CAN YOU IMAGINE IF THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS? dude I want to be a cool writer grandma xD)

Anyway, thanks for reading my rambling post. "See" you next week with allll the October highlights! (and screaming about the fact that NaNoWriMo is SO SOON.)

<3,
katie grace

what did you learn about writing this year?

ABOUT MY SUPERHERO NOVEL

Saturday, October 14, 2017
Happy Saturday! We only have seventeen days left to panic before NaNoWriMo begins! *yay* Last year I wrote a post about what I was writing for NaNo (it's funny how much of that story has already changed since editing), and that went surprisingly well, so I summoned the courage to do it again. 

I'm linking up with the Beautiful Books Tag hosted by Sky and Cait! Thanks for supplying the questions and the community. :D

I first got the idea at the MYWW workshop! I was in Sabaa Tahir's class and our assignment was to create a world together. One of the suggestions was that when a child turned eighteen they would receive a special dragon-speaking ability. That's been done before, so I wanted to turn the idea on its head. What if kids were born with superpowers, but lost them upon turning eighteen?

That's where my story originated! So I've had it for... four months? It came right in time for NaNo and I'm very thankful. xD

SUPERHEROES! *excitement*

Oh. Wait. You mean an actual fancy-professional-like blurb? I'll try. :P
They receive a superpower upon birth. They lose it once they turn eighteen. 
Ten years ago, Tasia's brother was kidnapped by hero traders -- criminals who use children's powers for their own crooked exploits. Her parents haven't been the same since, now convinced that he's dead. But until evidence proves her wrong. she refuses to believe that it's true. 
Tasia and her superhero partners are stationed in a destroyed underground railway system. Guided by her power of light, they spend their days patrolling for possible threats... until they stumble upon a dead body. Officials order them to let stronger heroes deal with this case, warning of hero traders involved with the murder. Clinging to the hope that it might be connected to her brother, Tasia convinces her team to go undercover and hunt the villain of this victim. 
The dead body is only the beginning. They learn crucial information about a rising villain, and soon their mission isn't just about restoring Tasia's family, but saving hundreds of lives in danger. 
The clock is ticking. Can Tasia and her team put their powers to use before they disappear entirely?
[only a rough blurb because it's SO LONG and needs condensing. but it'll do for now.]
 
YESS. This is my favorite question because I simply adore aesthetics. They create this powerful vibe and mood. It's almost like envisioning your book in movie form? I don't know, man. I'm kind of obsessed.
-- flickering lights, soft echoes, baggy hoodies, crunching boots on loose rock, the sound of cars thundering over a tunnel, radio static, coursing adrenaline as you flee death's arms, power, cuts and scrapes, day old fast food, bold newspaper headlines, missed calls, the indescribable bravery it takes to stand against evil --

ALL THE BRAINSTORMING! Lots and lots of brainstorming. I used to despise plotting, but now that I've experienced how helpful it is, I don't think I can ever go back to my pantser ways. Yeah, some people think it's boring to know exactly how the story is going to end (presumably, ha), but until I actually write it... it hasn't happened. I still get to experience that thrill and excitement. *shrug*

Other ways I prepare: ordering NaNo merch, going to a NaNo event at my library (I'm a little nervous about that because I have NO IDEA what to expect o.o), picking a theme album for my story, eating pizza, upping my caffeine intake (I kid, I kid)...


Before I start introducing the characters, please allow me to take a moment to ramble on the struggles of characterization. For instance: WHY IS NAMING CHARACTERS SO HARD? I've created temporary names for them (as you will see below), but... ugh. I despise naming like I despise spiders and vegetable pizza. >.< I'm assigning them a title that they will go by for the rest of their life! And that I will have to type hundreds of times! That's too much pressure for my little heart.

I could go in detail and describe all of my characters... but I have a lot and this blog post doesn't need to be the length of a novel. :P Instead, here are their powers and my pathetic naming abilities.

Tasia - can summon little, burning orbs of light out of her palms. (her name is the only name I have so far. #fail)
Mindy - mind reader. (MIND-y. Get it? :P)
Wallace - can walk through walls. (WALL-ace. Heh.)
Isaac - is able to see through other people's eyes. (EYE-zack.)
Missy [side character] - never misses a shot. (MISS-y. she never misses. :P)




I am so pumped about writing with a cast of characters! My last novel, Where Shadows Lie, had only one main character and one side character. There's little dialogue/interactions in that book, and now I'm transitioning into a Superhero story with four main characters. It'll be very different, but I'm ready for the change.

I'm also excited about finishing the novel! Because... if you weren't aware (you should be), Marissa Meyer comes out with a superhero book, Renegades, on November 7th. I have it preordered, but since I'm also writing a superhero book, I'm forcing myself to wait to read it until I've finished my own novel. Even though my project will be plotted out by that point, I don't want to accidentally sneak in any threads of inspiration from her. It'll be agony to wait, but then my conscious can remain clear in case I spot any similarities. :P

I also can't wait to find a title. Eventually. Hopefully. *grumble* Titles are usually one of my favorite parts of creating a new story... but it's giving me a headache this time. Oh well. xD


one: the majority of the story takes place in the underground railways. They've been abandoned for a looong time. Decades ago a supervillain destroyed them by exploded the railway transports, taking hundreds of innocent lives. It might be fun to write a short story about it someday... but I'm getting ahead of myself. I haven't even finished plotting the novel. xD

two: the world is an alternate US reality/timeline. I like the idea of placing the unfamiliar in the familiar. Then the core of the world itself remains the same -- but the culture, organizations, and how the cities run is obviously very different because there are young superheroes everywhere.

three: tying into the point above, it's been really fun exploring how having superheroes would impact the culture! I've created schools specifically for superheroes -- tests detecting their powers upon birth, how to use and maximize their powers, and short-term institutes specifically designed to help them adjust to life after losing their powers and to help settle them in the "real" world. (PHEW that was a long sentence. Oops.) Once they graduate from the school, the heroes will be assigned a mission or a station and use their powers for the good of their city until they turn eighteen. 

[those were more culture/world-building stuff than setting... but oh well. :P]

Well, I already mentioned this in the blurb, but if you skipped past that... my MC's (Tasia) goal is to find her brother who was kidnapped ten years ago. She was only seven when he first disappeared -- just a bit too young to go adventuring into a crime-infested city. :P

Now that she's older, with an opportunity at her fingertips. a group of friends that have her back, and limited time before her powers disappear... It's either now or never.


There you have it -- all the juicy little details of my NaNo novel. I hope you're intrigued! I don't think I've ever been this excited about writing a specific story. Beside the title, the ideas have come fairly easily, and so far there's not a sign of a sequel (I could cry I'm so happy about that).

Here's my NaNo profile so we can become buddies and scream about words, and then here's my Pinterest board for this novel (because #aesthetic).

<3,
katie grace

what are you writing for nanowrimo?

NEW FINDINGS OF 2017

Saturday, October 7, 2017
I love to babble excitedly about things I'm passionate about -- I mean, who doesn't? 2017 has been a fantastic year for discovering all sorts of epic new stuff. I've been mentioning a few in my monthly highlights throughout the year, but I wanted to consolidate my favorites into one, big post. Here's a list of my new findings (specifically: music, books, and movies) of 2017.

(I wanted to write this later in the year since it's meant for the entirety of 2017... but next month is NaNo and December is my blogging break, so I guess it's now or never. xD)

M U S I C:
(links are going to lead to YouTube, though the songs are available on Spotify)
(pictures in this post are not mine.)
>> ARTISTS <<
aurora
nature boy //  half the world away

Her music is absolute PERFECTION for writing -- especially for fantasy stories! She has a hauntingly beautiful voice and gorgeous, lyrical songs. I find them very calming yet an exceptional background for writing evil scenes. xD

[if you like her music, consider giving a listen to the music artists fleurie and ruelle!]

nf
oh lord // real // know

(technically I discovered his music last year... but I didn't start consistently listening to it until this year, so)

Please let me take a moment to scream because he just released a new album yesterday! *screams* I haven't listened enough to create any concrete opinions, but so far I really like it. I'm partial to the song Know (linked above) just because it has a Twenty One Pilots reference in it. o.o So that's awesome. xD

If you don't usually listen to rappers, still give him a try because his lyrics are just so powerful and emotional. You may find this weird, but I almost always listen to NF's music while writing blog posts. I don't know why?? But there's something about the intense word-spitting that gets my fingers flying across the keyboard. xD

(forgot to mention that he is a Christian rapper and his songs are clean so you don't have to worry about any language or gross stuff like that. :P he's not afraid to talk about heavy themes, though.)

>> SONGS <<
underground

THIS SONG. <3 I have a soft spot for simple songs that just tell a story, and this is exactly what Underground does. Ugh, I don't know why I love it so much, but I can't help but smile each time I hear it. This song creates such strong visuals in my mind!

i built a friend
alec benjamin

The first time I heard this song was when a dancer performed to it, and it was so beautiful and heart-touching that I immediately started to cry. IT'S SO MOVING I CANNOT. I recommend watching the dance with the song for the best experience. :P

(also... even though I was crying when I first heard this, I was extremely creeped out because I HAVE A STORY IDEA THAT IS SO. SO. SIMILAR TO THIS. Like, crazily similar. It's like they stole the idea out of my head, switched a few details, and then made it into this epic song. Seriously. It's weird.) 

{other songs}

B O O K S:

This year I've tried to be more realistic with my book ratings. When I was younger I basically rated every book five stars -- maybe four if I really wasn't feeling it. But now as I scroll through my Goodreads I don't know which books were actually worth five stars. Sigh. So here's the general outline of my rating system:

five stars: WOW THIS BLEW MY MIND I PROBABLY READ IT IN ONE SITTING AND EVERYONE AND THEIR DOG MUST READ THIS BEAUTIFUL MASTERPIECE.

four stars: It was a really good book! I maybe have one or two problems with this book, or it just didn't have that extra magic of "oh my goodness I can't." o.o

three stars: didn't love it, didn't hate it. 'twas "fine."

two stars: well... I finished it! but... it was a struggle. like trying-to-walk-in-high-heels-on-a-tightrope-over-a-sea-full-of-crocodiles sort of struggle.

one star: most likely didn't finish this book. urghhh. reading this story was like getting bitten by one of those crocodiles in the sea under the tightrope. (okay, that sounded harsh. but... there's probably a reason I'm rating the book one star. xD)

OKAY THAT WAS A HUGE BUNNY TRAIL. Anyway, all of that and describing my system was to introduce my five star reads of 2017. So far I've only read four 5-star books, which is a little disappointing, but I also haven't read as many books as previous years. And I really really love these books. *hugs them to death* I almost think they're due for another reread. ;)

(links will lead to goodreads if you click on the author's name)
midnight at the electric
jodi lynn anderson

I've flailed over this book before, BUT PLEASE LET ME FLAIL OVER IT AGAIN. I randomly picked it up at the library because I thought the title was pretty. I glanced at the back cover blurb, saw the word mars, and knew that I had to at least give it a try.

(advice: don't start book at 11:15pm. you will unavoidably stay up past midnight and suffer from an aching back and tired eyes the next morning)

This is the kind of story I want to write. The author has such a way with words, flowing beautifully and lyrically. It's not a huge action book -- there aren't world ending disasters and explosions. Instead it's about family histories that span generations. It's about loss and friendship and getting to know the hearts of the characters. IT'S JUST SO GOOD.

The mood/aesthetic occasionally gave me Interstellar type vibes? (which makes even more sense as to why I loved this book, haha)

scorpio races
maggie stiefvater

So. Confession: I first picked this book up three or four years ago, gave it a try, and stopped a couple chapters in and decided that it was the most boring book to ever exist. I WAS SO WRONG. I must've been in the wrong mood or something, because I completely adored it when I gave it a second try! One difference is that I listened to it on audiobook this time, so... maybe that's what changed my mind?

But, ugh. Super gorgeous, lyrical writing. <3

angel eyes
shannon dittemore

I honestly wasn't expecting to like this book very much. I've never been the type to be intrigued by books with Christian paranormal elements, but Nadine told me that she read it in one sitting, so I decided to pick it up.

And then I never set it down until I finished it. That's huge, because I haven't read a book in one sitting for a looong time. This book has a little of everything. Action, adventure, mystery, a touch of romance, a touch of humor.

This book is Christian fiction book, and it had some very poignant and thoughtful messages. Usually Christian messages don't strike me as much in books, but this one did. And the angel characters didn't seem odd -- they were done carefully and the author handled it well. :D

real friends
shannon hale

Now as I'm going over my list of five star books, I realize that they all have one thing in common: I've read them in one sitting. (excluding The Scorpio Races, but that was a ten-hour-long audiobook, so.) :P

Real Friends was an extremely quick read -- it probably only took me a half an hour. It was so cute! The majority of the book is actually based on the author's life and her struggles with friendship, which made it extremely heartfelt and relatable. READ IT.

M O V I E S:
spider-man homecoming

I mean... this movie probably doesn't come as a surprise to you, seeing that I wrote an entire blog post about my extreme love for it. So I'll just link to that instead of rambling about it here. xD

dunkirk

*sighs happily* I'm not one for war movies, but I love Christoper Nolan's work, and the trailer was amazing, so I tagged along with my dad when he went to the movie theater to see it. I'm so glad I did. It's a very unique movie and it's hard to put it into words. There's hardly any dialogue, hardly any focus on the characters. << sounds like a horrible idea, right? But it worked so perfectly. It's like the movie was made up of little moments instead of a giant, complex plot. Just go see it -- you'll understand what I'm saying when you do.

{OTHER GOOD MOVIES}
gifted // the theory of everything // the greatest game ever played // rewatched Civil War for the sixth time, hehe // rewatched the Harry Potter series

- - -
PHEW YOU MADE IT TO THE END (presumably. maybe everyone gave up halfway through :P *hands you cookies if you did survive until the end*). I think this was the longest blog post I've ever written. Which makes sense since this took four hours to write and format and edit. *naps for seven years* *or maybe just until NaNo*

<3.
katie grace
what are your new findings of 2017?