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?