Monthly Highlights - January

Saturday, January 31, 2015
- I found this super cute calculator in our 'drawer of randomness.' No one in my family knows where it came from, but the buttons are very plump and squishy. I like pushing them down. xP
- PIZZA! I had pizza a lot this month. And I'm completely fine with it.

- I made a mosaic with my wonderful aunt. (It's the blue one on the right) I tried to make it look like a dragon, but I'm thinking it looks more than a dragonfly. Either way, I'm satisfied. :)
- I have made major progress in editing my novel. I still have about half to go through, but I'm ecstatic to have made it this far. I'm hoping to finish the first round of edits by the end of February.

-  I did some archery with my cousin Anna yesterday. It was sooo much fun, and I actually hit the target instead of having it fly halfway across the world.
I'm on the right, and Anna is on the left.
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I got three books in January.
 -- One Realm Beyond by Donita K. Paul
-- North! Or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson
 -- On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson. 
And I read 7 books.
((I would've liked this number to be a bit higher, but with the busyness of this month, I'm surprised I read that many))
1. Heartless by Anne Elizabeth Stengl -- This was my second time reading this one. I really enjoyed reading it again, but it's not my favorite in the series.
2. Veiled Rose by Anne Elizabeth Stengl --  (So far) This is my favorite of the Tales of Goldstone Woods. The first half was just of a sweet friendship between two kids that I absolutely adored. This was my second time reading this one as well, and I still loved it to death.
3. A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes -- What caught me about this book was the premise and plot. Each person has a clock counting down to the day they'll die. I felt like the messages got a bit preachy at times, but I'm still anxiously awaiting the next one.
4. Moonblood by Anne Elizabeth Stengl -- I got a bit confused at times during this book with all the worlds and different characters, but I was happy that Lionheart and Rose Red's tale were continued.
5. Starflower by (again) Anne Elizabeth Stengl -- I liked this one about the same as Heartless. I really enjoyed it, but it wasn't my favorite of the series.
6. On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson -- This. Book. Was. Amazing. In a way it was geared towards younger children and the concepts could be quite silly at times, but yet the plot was complex and the characters so awesome. And his footnotes on the bottom of the pages were hilarious.
7. Roverandom by J.R.R Tolkien -- Well. I'm not quite sure what to say about this book. I read it for school, and it seemed so unlike Tolkien's usual writing. It was odd, and I was confused about 90 percent of the time.
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- Katie Grace
What were the highlights of your month? 

Every Writer Has Their Beginnings

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Each story has a beginning. You can't start one without it. It wouldn't make sense for you to start your novel with the ending where the hero defeats the dragon, or saves the princess. Part of reading a book is becoming involved with the hero and their world before the action starts.
Take Frodo for example. You need to see Frodo in his beloved Shire so you can understand his sacrifices as he carries the ring to Mordor.
Or in The Chronicles of Narnia, you see Peter, Lucy, Edmund, and Susan interact before they set foot in Narnia, setting up their relationship and their personalities.
And in the same way, each writer has a beginning. There was a moment in your life where you suddenly became a writer. Maybe it was when you were young, and you wrote tales about fairies and princesses, or your family. It could be that you started writing when you were older, and started to think up plots and characters, giving them goals and missions for their life.

When I was younger, (think really young, here!) I loved to write. I have a notebook with stories on random pages, filled with barely decipherable handwriting and misspelled words. Here's one of my first:

Mommy Here are some.
Daisys for you.
thank you Katie.
You are Welcome.
the end
Genius, right?
(And according to my illustration I was a giant when I was younger and flowers were three times the size as peoples' heads.)
But after that phase of short stories, I stopped. The 'school' writing started to take away the fun of the creative writing. There were no more stories in my world until January of 2014.
And that's when I started my first novel.
It's been roughly a year since I started that first novel. It pains me to read my first draft. Every other sentence is cringe-worthy, and the writing is terrible. But (I think) I've improved. My writing is not nearly perfect, but it's better, and with every sentence I write, and every article I read, my writing gets a bit better, and my knowledge grows wider.
Let's go back to beginnings. Just like you can't start a story at its end, a writer can't skip ahead to the part where they're published. Creating a novel is a tedious path and takes lots of work. Writing is hard work. It will take time to get your manuscript polished. It's not something to do quickly.
I think every writer has their moments where they feel like their work is worthless. I've experienced it. But before you toss it aside, or consider it 'garbage,' take a step back and look at how far you've come. Look at the bounds you've taken since the beginning. You've made progress. You're getting better.
- Katie Grace
If you're a writer, when did your journey begin?
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Editing When You Don't Feel Like It

Wednesday, January 21, 2015
In my last post, I wrote a bit about the new stage of my writing journey: editing.
And, no. Editing has not become in any way easier for me, but I'm making progress. Slow progress, but progress nonetheless.
Someone commented on that  post saying, "I believe, as with writing, editing also needs you in the right 'mood' that you enjoy what you are doing."
I agree with this comment. It is a whole lot easier to get work done on a project when you are in the right 'mood,' but what if you aren't? Or, simply, what if you don't have time? There are only so many hours in a day. I don't have a choice of whether I'm in the right 'mood' or not. I simply just have to do it. Here are three different tricks I used to get myself into the 'editing mood' the reader was talking about.

 1. Look upon your work positively.
You can look upon everything with different angles. Take photography for example. Often taking pictures from new 'angles' can make it look a lot more interesting and artistic.
With editing, you can do the same thing. Once sitting down to start editing you can say, "I'm only a couple chapters into my novel. This is going to take forever. How am I ever going to finish?"
But take a new angle on it. I can look at the five chapters I have edited so far and compare them to the original copy. They've improved. I'm making my story better. There are less adverbs, more description, and I took out the mindless dialogue. I look upon it with hope, and not discouragement.
2. Music.
Music is totally motivational. When my dad does projects he always turns on music and has taught me to do the same. Music can take the boring out of a situation and replace it with a new and exciting vibe. Suddenly doing dishes is a lot more interesting when putting it to an epic movie score.

One website I like to use for different music moods is They have a vast array of themes that you can use for writing. "Dystopian, motivational, steampunk, and battle scores," are a few of them. The categories have been great for involving me in the emotion of my scenes.
3. Giving Yourself Goals
By the end of the day, I should have a half an hour of editing completed. ...Should. 
It's hard to keep up daily goals, though, because some days are a lot busier than others. So now what? But you see, I also have this monthly goal for January: 930 minutes. Then, like NaNoWriMo, I can catch up on the days I fell behind.
Having a goal to keep me on track is a must. Without a goal, there is nothing to strive for and nothing to achieve. It's very easy to just give up and state, "Oh, I'll work on it another day." (Procrastination is never the key. *says the girl who does it all the time*)
And then, when you make your goal, CELEBRATE! This is the time to drag out the confetti and bake loads of cookies. (Or cake. Or brownies. Or pizza. Whatever food seems to help you celebrate best.)
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Get excited about the work you're completing. If you're using Microsoft Word, use the 'track changes' feature so you can see all the awesome changes your making, and to keep the old work if you decide what you're doing is not such a great idea. Turn off the internet, reward yourself with chocolate --- do whatever it takes to get yourself in the 'editing mood' and attacking that document. (Please attack it gently, though. There's some good in your document, dear reader, and it's worth keeping.)
- Katie Grace
How do you get yourself in the 'editing mood?'
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Editing Musings

Thursday, January 15, 2015
I was hoping to have more than just one post up in two weeks, but part of the problem was that my computer charger broke (gasp!) , and that deleted a couple days out of my schedule.  ...And there's this thing called editing.
Yup. I've started editing my novel.
And simply put, I like writing a whole lot more.
Writing actually goes quickly for me. Between Word Wars and the help of NaNo programs, my novel was finished within a few months. It was exciting to see my story grow and the characters move forward in their journey. I never had the problem with having to force myself down to write the words.
This January, with a few other writing buddies, I set up a goal to edit my novel for thirty minutes a day so then I'd have time for reading, school, and blogging. Thirty minutes isn't that bad, right? I mean, thirty minutes of writing goes by super quickly, so why shouldn't editing be the same?
... I wish it was the same.
I've spent about six hours so far, attacking my precious novel to pieces, and I've only just started chapter five. It's a bit discouraging. It's easy for me to find mistakes in my novel, but it's a lot harder to know how to make them better. I often spend minutes on just one sentence, agonizing on how I should change the wording---how I can make it better. I have the way it's already written cemented in my mind, so it's sometimes hard to take a different angled view on it. 
But the encouraging part, is that I can see definite improvements. (Yay!) I think I'm finally knowing where to put the puzzle pieces together, and finding the missing ones that weren't there before. I'm actually liking what's being written. Which is a good thing, because why write something you dislike? I'm hoping I can finish the first draft of editing by May. Possibly June. I'll have to see if the NaNoWriMo chapters continue to be showered with grammar and typo errors...
So, in all, I've started editing.
- Katie Grace
Do you have any experience with editing?

Reading Goals for 2015

Wednesday, January 7, 2015
I read exactly 60 books last year. I was reading consistently until I reached mid summer, when I started to get really crazy with writing. Before I knew it, it was December and I had only read a handful of books in the last months.
I'm really hoping to change that this year. When I read, inspiration starts building up in my mind. It sparks new ideas, and helps improve my own writing. I don't want to become so obsessed with writing that reading falls off my list.
So this year, I set a goal of 67 books.

2015 Reading Challenge

2015 Reading Challenge
Katie has read 2 books toward her goal of 67 books.
 And as you can see in the widget above, I have read two books so far. Heartless by Anne Elizabeth Stengl, and On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson. Both are very good. :)
I am keeping track of the books I read using Goodreads, which is basically a social media website for books. You can find my profile here if you want to friend me.
And to make this post interesting, here are some of the upcoming books I plan to read in the next couple of weeks:  
1. The Tales of Goldstone Woods
Red Lettering: Writing That Rough Draft: Guest Post by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
I finished Heartless a couple of days ago, and am just a few chapters away from finishing Veiled Rose. I'm excited to read the rest of the series. :D
2. The Silmarillion
 I've been wanting to read this one for awhile. I enjoyed The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings immensely. It'll be nice to get into the Tolkien world once again. :)
 3. The Wingfeather Saga

I couldn't find a picture of all four of the books, but I really want to read the rest of the series, including The Warden and the Wolf King. I just need to find a way to get ahold of them somehow...

 4. One Realm Beyond
   I've read some of other Donita K. Paul's books and really liked them.  Upon reading the back synopsis of One Realm Beyond, I knew that I wanted to read it immediately. Therefore, I want to read it very soon. :)
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Below is a varied selection of the books I read in 2014. :)
- Katie Grace
Do you have a reading goal this year? If so, what is it?