Saturday, March 17, 2018

Happy Saturday!

As of last week, I finished my third draft of Where Shadows Lie. My critique partner read through the story as I edited it, so this also means that she reached the end as well! (which was rather nerve-wracking, but that's to be expected)

I knew that once we completed our critique sessions I wanted to write a post about the whole process... but how-to/advice posts aren't really my thing (especially since Rosalie and Alyssa recently wrote amazingly helpful posts on this topic). So instead this is just my experience of having my novel read by my critique partner, Emma. 

We met in person at the library weekly, which became a day I both dreaded and looked forward to, hehe. (yay for friends and writing! boo for being scared to have someone actually read your writing!) But here are some of my thoughts about the whole process:

This can also be rather terrifying (especially if the feedback is negative), but mostly it's so helpful. As soon as my critique partner finished the chapter I received her all thoughts: the good, the bad, the confusing parts, and the parts where she fangirled over characters and plot twists (mwahahah).

And if I'm unsure about a certain plot point, I can ask her! I tried to ask general questions so I didn't narrow in on a small moment in the story. Instead of asking, "was this scene too slow?" I tried to ask, "how was the pacing in this chapter?" Then I'm not accidentally ruling out chances for other possible feedback. If I still need clarity after this question, then I can narrow in on that specific scene and ask about it's pacing.

Sometimes when I'm writing, I sit back in my chair (or flop on the ground and stare at the ceiling) and pretend that my novel is perfect. I dream of handing over a chapter to my critique partner, only to have her say, "Wow! There's nothing but good things here!"

Spoiler alert: that doesn't happen. Ever. There's always something tiny to nitpick or readjust -- I think the main goal of editing is not to make your book perfect, but into something that you're satisfied with and proud of. Editing is a journey.

This is one of my favorite parts of the critique sessions I've had with my friend. I've been working on this book since October of 2016, and haven't been able to talk about the plot twists and characters with anyone until now. IT'S SO FREEING. It's a little preview of what it will be like to have people reading the published version someday. :D

Not to mention that it's so refreshing to study someone else's writing! It becomes tiring to continually evaluate my own novel, and it's a fun change to discuss motives and goals of someone else's characters. (ahem, though it's not fun when they die. -.-)

To those confused by this point, you've obviously never had someone read your work before. Because watching them intake your precious novel is pure torture. 

If you do feel faint during a critiquing session, here are some tips on how to avoid it:
  • bring a paper bag to access if you start hyperventilating
  • if you do faint, bring pillows so you can at least land on something soft
  • also bring a fan to keep you cool when you start sweating
  • or just bring a water bottle and dump it on your head if the nerves prove too much
    • because then you aren't nervous about the story or fainting -- just the fact that you're completely drenched
  • binge-eat comfort food (like pizza!!)

With working and Church activities and responsibilities and writing and just day-to-day life... it's hard to find a spare chunk of time. It becomes ever harder when you try to find a chunk of time that words for two people.

But somehow my critique partner and I were able to find a few weekend afternoons and mornings to squish in our writing time, which was so needed. Not only did we critique each other's novels to pieces, but afterwards we got to catch up on life. It's a 2 in 1 experience. ;)

Before this novel, I've really never watched anyone critique my work in person, and I didn't prepare myself for how terrifying it was going to be. I'm sitting there, across the table, watching her scroll through my document. -- does she like it? is she yawning because she's tired or because she's bored with my story?! did her eyebrow twitch or was that an expression of intrigue and surprise?? --

See "con #2," because this is where the possibility of fainting might become a reality.

Obviously I jest a little bit, but it really was scary. The good thing is that my nerves lessened the more we met for critique session. I became used to the fact that I would receive lots of comments, and learned to be happy when she only pointed out a hundred errors instead of two hundred (ha).

me during our first critiquing session: please just like it please don't say anything bad please be nice please --

me during our final critique session: GIVE ME ALLLLL THE CRITIQUES.

At first each critique she gave hurt a little bit. I saw the truth. I saw the sense in her comments, but I took each correction as a negative. Because critiques = a bad novel... right?

Not necessarily. Because with each critique, there's a potential for making that weak part in your story a strong one. For instance, one of her comments was that she had trouble understanding my character's goal/purpose in a certain chapter. It might take a few tries to fix that problem, but then hopefully my character's motivation will come across clearly, and the negative critique (hopefully) becomes a strength in my story.


You see all of those bullet points in the notebook above? Those are all things I need to fix. Thankfully they're not all giant plot points -- some are just little line errors. But still. And those are only from the first eight chapters! I have six more pages like those filled with corrections (or should I say "potential strengths? :P).

I'm going to need so much pizza and coffee to get through this next draft.

But thankfully Camp NaNo is coming up! I'll desperately need that extra motivation to guide me through these edits. Yikes. xD

So, basically: find yourself a critique partner. Beside the risk of fainting, you really can't go wrong. xD

AND GUESS WHAT? IT'S OFFICIAL. I HAVE TICKETS FOR INFINITY WARS. *screaming forever* April 26th here I come. :P

katie grace

have you ever had a critique partner?


Saturday, March 10, 2018
It seems like it was just yesterday that I wrote my post, "Dear Senior Year." In actuality, it was published aaaalllll the way back in August. (um, what. I don't understand how time passes by so quickly. SOMEONE GET ME A TIME TURNER. Anywho. *cough*) That post began with how fall was quickly approaching and now here we are, with spring about to arrive. (at least if the snow decides to ever disappear. -.-) 

Since I started my senior year with a blog post, now it only seems fitting that I end it with one. Hopefully this post doesn't turn out to be too sappy, but I won't make any promise since I'm a deeply emotional person. xD

dear senior year,

You've finally come to an end. Twelve years of school, countless hours, two thousand, one hundred, and sixty days in all... completed. Done. I won't be facing the textbooks in the fall after a summer break. I won't sit cross-legged on my grey folding chair any longer, with a blanket wrapped around me like a burrito. I won't have to grit my teeth through frustrating battles with stubborn math problems. (<<< hallelujah to the last one!) 

I'm finished, and for some reason that's a terrifying thought.

I've explained this before, but school and I have never been the best of friends. I'm an impatient, hands on type of person, and the prospect of sitting at a desk all morning to think through difficult concepts until my head hurts? ... eh, I'll pass. I've never liked school, but now that I'm done, I realize how comforting school was. (never dreamed of writing that sentence, ha!)

I explored the idea of comfort + school a little bit in my last senior post, but it's become more evident now that I've graduated. When in school, my purpose/task was set out for me. I woke up every morning, and I didn't need to think about cars and jobs and money and ~adult responsibilities~. 

I feel a bit like Bilbo Baggins. I was in the routine of the life that I was accustomed to, living comfortably in my Bag End home, eating lots of pizza and other good food. But then I opened the door for the dwarves, and now I'm getting dragged on this new and stretching journey in life. (BOOM! ADULTHOOD! OFF ON AN ADVENTURE YOU GO!)

(as I reread that analogy it's a pretty awful one and isn't very similar to my situation, but I'll take any opportunity to call myself Bilbo Baggins and pretend to be a hobbit thank you very much.)

It's been weird having people say, "Congratulations on graduating!" Sometimes it seems like the concept of me being done with high school is easier for them to believe than it is for me. Every morning I wake up expecting to trudge back to my school desk, but then remember -- wait! I'm done! (so then I proceed to make coffee and spend the morning writing which has made mornings actually enjoyable)

And once the "congratulations" take place, the inevitable question strikes: "So... what are you going to do with your life?" [psst, go read nadine's wonderful post about this dreaded question]

Oh. Yay. *existential screaming*

Though I make fun of the question, I do understand. I'm a naturally curious person and would want to know my Top Secret Plans if I were them. But the problem is that I'm me and I still ask myself everyday what it is that I'm going to do with my life. :P

Unfortunately, I don't have any Top Secret Exciting Plans. I'm not going to college because a) I have no idea what I'd go for, and b) I don't want to go just to go and spend all that time and money.

So instead, for now, I'm going to keep working at Starbucks (yay for free caffeine! (<< thank goodness for spell check because I cannot spell "caffeine" for the life of me). I'm going to search for a second job and hopefully settle into a routine that I enjoy.

I may not have as much time to write, but you better believe that I'll spend the spare moments I have chipping away at my novels, taking those baby steps toward publication. Writing is something that I don't think I can ever give up, no matter how insane and chaotic life gets.

We'll see where this crazy journey of life takes me. As intimidating as it can be, I'm excited to see what God has in store for me. :D

Well, those are my scattered senior updates! A lot of my blogging/writing friends are going through the same life changes of becoming adults, graduating, and having change fly at them, so it's comforting to know that I'm not the only one. We can all freak out together! :P

Have a wonderful weekend. <3

katie grace

are you experiencing change? like it? hate it?


Saturday, March 3, 2018
YAY IT'S FINALLY MARCH! To me, February always feels like an in-between month where nothing happens. I think it's the fact that spring is just around the corner, and yet... it's really not. *sniff* Is warm weather too much to ask for?! :P

Even though it feels like that, I found myself surprised by how many highlights and noteworthy things took place this month! So let's get into them.

• Like I said above: it's definitely not spring yet. Seven inches of snow decided to dump on our heads one night, and I don't think the roads have ever been more scary and slippery to drive on. Even though I dislike snow, it is peaceful watching it fall. After I got off work that night I stepped outside and the world was completely quiet. I didn't hear any cars, or anyone talking, or any other city noises. It was just me staring out at the snow, and that beautiful moment almost made the cold worth it. 

• I found this thread on Twitter of "the top 100 Marvel quotes." (I think my top ten favorites are #10, #11, #13, #32, #47, #49, #63, #67, #83, and #100. (and of course all the rest that I didn't mention, heh. :P)


• Guys, I'm so awkward. Actual interaction I had at work:

me: [is making a drink when I hear the drivethru ding] Welcome to Starbucks, how are you?
customer: [with a low voice that sounds like one of our regulars] good!
me: [assumes it's the regular I think it is] Oh, is this Jason?
me: [goes to the drivethru screen and realizes my mistake] ....... Well, this is awkward.
customer: [orders]
me: [slowly dying inside as he comes to the drivethru window] I'm so sorry, I thought you were one of our regulars!
customer: .... I am a regular.
me: ........ oh. [dies forever]

So it was fun trying to dig myself out of that hole. .-. :P

• On a more positive note, I GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL. I'm done. Forever. People keep asking me how it feels and it's a mixture of it-feels-so-nice-to-be-done and oh-no-what-comes-next?!

• My parents and sister went out of town for the night since she had a gymnastics meet, so I took advantage of this and watched Rogue One at full volume while eating a pizza all to myself. It was a fabulous night and I would 1000% recommend the experience.

• Other movies I watched this month: Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man Homecoming, Rogue One, Les Mis, Breathe, Black Panther. (as you can see, I'm still going strong on the Marvel Movie Marathon. xD)

• Princess Academy [4/5] - THIS IS SUCH A CUTE BOOK. It's probably my fourth or fifth time reading it since I've grown up with this story... but I still enjoy it just as much. A quick, fluffy, cozy read. <3

• In 27 Days [5/5] - Um. Wow. THIS BOOK. I've seen bloggers rave over this one, but I didn't know it would be this well-deserved of the good reviews. I walked into Barnes and Nobles, picked it up, sat down, and didn't move until I finished it. Then I promptly ordered it from Amazon so it's now sitting comfortably on my bookshelf, hehe. The characters were amazing, the story was amazing, the writing was amazing. It was full of amazingness. <3 <3

• A Wrinkle in Time [3/5] - Another story from my childhood! Our copy (which smells delightfully like old books) is so "well-loved" that the spine is almost completely broken in half, oops. I read this in anticipation of the movie coming out in a few days! It'll be interesting to see what they do with it since this book is so weird. I hope it's good. :/

I also bought three books this month since they were all on sale! I don't have a picture of them since the lighting was being bothersome, but they are: In 27 Days, The Warden and the Wolf King, and Midnight at the Electric. I haven't read The Warden and the Wolf King yet... I want to reread the rest of the series and refresh my memory before I jump in. But the other two books are two of my favorites that I couldn't not have on my shelf. <3

Also... I'm just going to drop this picture here. #bookwormproblems #whywontyoufit

I'm still working on third-draft edits, but I'm getting SO CLOSE to completing it! I should be finished by the end of this month so then I can start fixing all my critique partner's comments. (so many comments. pages and pages filled with stuff to fix, eek.) 

Also, it's time to freak out and panic because Camp NaNoWriMo is in less than a month. I'm participating (duh, how could I not??), but I have no idea what I'll be working on. I don't have the time (or an idea) to prepare for writing a first draft, so I'll probably just keep editing? But what should I set as a goal? Ack, all things to think about.

(and if you're not sure if you should participate in Camp NaNo or not... read this post I wrote last year and be convinced, hehe.)

Now that I'm graduated, I have all morning to write and it's the most glorious thing. I've been forcing myself to wake up earlier, sit down with a cup of coffee, and then get allll the things done. You better believe I'm going to take advantage of this extra time while I can. xD

Clicking on the pictures will lead you to the posts in a new tab! I'm really happy with how all of these posts turned out for the month. Especially the first novel ones. xD 

(Oh and -- usually bloggers have a little section linking to their favorite posts people have written throughout the month and I think that is the coolest thing. At the start of every month I tell myself I'm going to gather and keep track of posts, but I  always forget. -.- BUT I'M GOING TO TRY THIS MONTH because all these wonderful bloggers deserve allll the recognition. I'll have to write a giant sticky-note reminder on my computer or something so I don't forget. xD)

I've been really bad at thinking about posts ideas lately. They're usually very last minute which gets rather stressful. So I'm not exactly sure what's to come! xD I'll probably end up doing some nostalgic birthday post since I'm turning eighteen on March 19th. Ack. I'M GOING TO BE AN ADULT. *mind explodes* I'm not going to spend too much time thinking about that. :P

I hope your March is fabulous and filled with minimal stressing about Camp NaNoWriMo approaching! xD

katie grace

any fun plans for march?
are you going to participate in camp nano?