Saturday, October 29, 2016
The craze of bullet journaling caught my eyes a few months ago. Everything about it seemed cool -- bullet points, lists, tasks, doodles, check boxes, pretty headers and handwriting... but yet I didn't know where to start. 

There are plenty of Pinterest boards out there of bullet journals (like this one, this one, and this one), which gave me lots of good inspiration for my own. I began to realize with all of this research -- after looking at spreads on Instagram, Pinterest... even YouTube, that there is no one way to make a bullet journal. 

Bullet journals are an organization system that you can customize for your own needs. After I realized this, I finally took the plunge and started one. (hint: it's awesome.)

My "bullet journal essentials" are a notebook, my favorite pens, and a ruler so I can draw neat graphs without it looking like a three-year-old drew it. I just got my journal from the dollar section in Target for starters. I didn't want to spend twenty dollars on a notebook and then decide that bullet journaling wasn't my thing. (like this one I'm eyeing. Or this one.)

I prefer dotted, graphed, or blank paper, just since I have more freedom to draw and go "outside the lines," but do what works for you!


Why not a bullet journal? I love bullet journaling, because it makes me feel organized, despite being a very non-organized person. Bullet journaling has helped me keep track of goals and tasks in one central place, instead of scattering sticky notes throughout the house and just losing them in the couch cushions only to find them three years later. Oops.

You don't have to be artsy to have a bullet journal. It can be very intimidating at first, but if you can write somewhat legibly and make check boxes, you're more than qualified.

Bullet journaling is a nice way to reflect. I love doing it right before I go to bed while listening to soft music or instrumentals. It helps me unwind and see what I accomplished (or didn't accomplish) that day and jot down little memories and happy moments.

Below is what a four-day spread looks like for me. I have a time chart on the side of each day, connecting to my to-do list/activities for the day, and then memorable moments on the side.

(i'm just realizing that I drew the arrow to "read" instead of "work" on sunday and whoops I did not read for six hours that day :P)

I use my bullet journal for a lot of random things. Goals, a calendar, blogging schedule, books I read, sleep tracker, random journal entries for special events, little charts... I plan to start a chart for funny quotes/moments in November and a word count system for NaNo that I'm still figuring out. xD

Whenever I try to keep up a regular journal, I struggle with consistency. It was too easy to push off one day, and the next, and then next, and then a month would go by with the journal collecting dust on the shelf.

I was worried that bullet journaling would be just another "task" and add on to the craziness of my week. But it's been more of an excitement than a burden, which is awesome. Bullet journaling is great, since it doesn't take very long. If I want to spend a half an hour on it making it look all nice and pretty... I can do that! If I'm tired and just want to sleeeeeeeeeep, I can do that too! It's very flexible, which is nice for this insane life. xD

(above: a little "welcome" page to the month. I like having the month's dates so I can check them off as I conquer each day.)

Overall, I feel like bullet journaling has helped me be more productive. It's helped me look ahead to the rest of the week, and realize what tasks I need to get done now since I won't have time to procrastinate on them later. 

Having the little check boxes/to-do list for each day has worked well for me. I like seeing them all filled so everything matches, so it's more of an incentive to get allll the things done. :P

Above is my monthly spread, and that is definitely my favorite page. It's fun to be able to look at the month in one image, seeing how often I worked and the fun events that took place. (Though, I will not talk about how awful it was trying to make all the boxes even and the same length. Mathing is hard. -.-)

So there's my bullet journal. If you're like me and have been looking for a way to combine EVERYTHING into one place, maybe this is your thing! It's fun to give it a try regardless if you want to continue it forever or not. :P

Though this was a shorter post, hopefully it provided some inspiration or was just fun to look at. :D

// katie grace

Do you keep a journal?


Saturday, October 22, 2016
I successfully plotted a novel.

Let me repeat that: I plotted a novel from the start to the end before writing it.

A couple months ago, I would've read that statement and laughed, shaking my head, wondering how such a hardcore pantser like me could possibly have the organized mindset to put the plot in place before writing a novel.

But after I finished rewrites of The Sand Dragon's Song last month, I decided that maybe I should give plotting a try. Since I was going into all these NaNo events without much of a plot, I kept ending up having to rewrite the whole book, which caused me lots of grumbling and annoyance and only ended up in me hating my book. Not fun.

So by plotting out my novel beforehand, I may not be able to avoid rewriting entirely, but I sure will be able to hopefully avoid rewriting the whole darn book. And that's my real purpose in plotting -- to make editing a little easier. (since editing is the actual worst.)

I've had some people ask how I've been going about plotting. Here's how.

(and this is less of a "how to plot post," and more of a, "here's how I did it... give it a try if you want." there's no ONE way to write a novel. do what works to get that plot out of your head and out into the words on the paper.)

One thing that I'm very particular with, is that I have to plot on paper. Some writers love their OneNote or Evernote or Scrivener files, but there's something about the computer screen that doesn't draw out my imagination in the same way. It's been really nice to have a writing project that's not dealing with the computer for once and allows me to do it "the old fashioned way." ;) 

I do miss typing dramatically, but NaNo is soon approaching and my fingers will be able to fly again. Mwahaha. Meanwhile I get to doodle and draw cute little arrows on the page so it works out. xD

I've always had this vision in my head as plotting being this horrible evil thing. But... I...  actually had lots of fun? And it worked?

I used Randy Ingermanson's How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method. (recommended by the lovely Nadine

Best. plotting. book. ever.

It explores all angles with your novel -- target audience, themes, characters, summaries, three act structure, the fears you might have. It begins big and goes small, eventually moving into a scene by scene outline. (which is where I stopped, because that is too much plotting. xD)

The snowflake method helps develop your one sentence pitch, back cover summary, and synopsis. Before I even wrote the book, I've already gotten those three terrible things out of the way. I now have a pretty good idea of what to say if people were to ask me what my novel is about. I have a three page synopsis, that only took me a little over an hour to write.

For me, the snowflake method was magical.  

It helped me sort out the plot of my novel without having to write an icky outline or plan every. single. scene. (which to me seems like a terrible nightmare.) I know all the main disasters and turning points, but little scenes will pop up in between and surprise me.

And... it didn't take very long? I was expecting for plotting to take days upon days upon days. Which it did, but I split it up into smaller chunks per day. I'm now sitting here with the full plot of my novel, after spending about thirteen hours on it.

(oh, and speaking of times and such, I'm timing how long it takes me to complete this book. from plotting to writing to editing and everything in between. basically just a fun experiment for a nerdy lil' stat obsess-er like me)

Above is a picture of all of my plotting pages. There are eighteen shown, but I'm up to twenty and counting. Even though I have most everything figured out, I'm still doing some prequel ideas and worldbuilding and tightening up things in general.

(these pictures is also why I love plotting on the paper. so visual and exciting to REALLY see how much work you've done. *flailing* xD

There are ten days until NaNo. (whoops. freaked you out. freaked myself out. sorry.) I'm rather excited to not be a panster for once. Hopefully the month will go by a little bit smoother.

And hey, if you want to give plotting a try, you should totally do the thing. Ten days is not much, but it's enough to get a general idea of the plot. Well enough to write it. There's an overview of the Snowflake Method here that you can follow, otherwise I would recommend getting the Amazon copy. It tells a story within a story, with examples, and is SO much fun to follow along with. Seriously. Read the sample if you don't believe me. It's definitely the coolest plotting book you'll find.

(i'm beginning to sound like I'm sponsoring this book but I just found it REALLY helpful for my panster soul to ease into xD)

All in all, my experience with plotting was positive. Will I continue to do this for later books? Probably. Depends on the overall first drafting experience and edits. But let's not think about editing right now with NaNoWriMo in the future. :P 

I wish you all the best in the last week of NaNo Prep, and may you conquer the NaNo beast in November. :D

// katie grace

Are you a pantser or a plotter?
How do you prepare for NaNoWriMo?

exploring my nanowrimo novel || where shadows lie

Tuesday, October 18, 2016
In which I become brave and talk about my novel even though that is a Very Scary Thing with capital letters. :P

(Also, enjoy a random Tuesday post because apparently blog posts are easy to write when I'm sick and I felt like spreading the excitement of my soon to be WIP. :D)

Where Shadows Lie was originally supposed to be a standalone, until it decided that it wanted to be a little rebel and demand a prequel. *headdesks repeatedly* (I'll get over it, but right now I'm moping because a prequel means all the more work and THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A LITTLE STANDALONE. Oh well.)

I'm linking up with the beautiful books linkup hosted by Sky and Cait, though I'm cheating because I'm skipping some of the questions. Even though I'm plotting this novel, I'm a pantser at heart and must leave some things undecided. :P

My brain is weird, guys. I get ideas in the most random ways and I'm not sure how my mind even works.

I first got this idea in April, when I was traveling to a youth retreat with my friends. On the way to the retreat, we drove on a road with birch trees scattered on the side.

It's so weird how clearly I remember that moment. How I remember what song was playing (Got that Fire by Royal Tailor -- has absolutely nothing to do with my story xD) when I thought to myself, I need to write a story that takes place in a birch tree forest.

So I made it happen. I jotted a few sentences in my notebook for sermon notes (which has now become half sermon notes, one fourth doodles, and one forth story scribbles) -- something along the lines of, birch tree forest, mysterious feel, creeping shadows, and it has been stuck in my head ever since.
Well would you look at this? I have a handy dandy little blurb that took forever to write for you all to read.

We can't leave, because the shadows won't let us. 
Eerie is tired of hiding from the monsters in the birchwood forest. Tired of spending her days inside with her parents, tired of having a little red fox as her only friend, and tired of living on an island surrounded by an endless silver sea. But no matter how desperately she longs to escape, she can't, and all because of the shadows. 
As she continually wishes for change, her wish is granted. Darkness invades the light of the sun, and Eerie is helpless in the middle of the forest. When the cloud of shadows finally pass, she finds herself utterly alone -- her parents, her fox, her shadow... gone. 
Her shadow is on the hunt for her soul and will stop at nothing for it, willing to twist and deceive her mind to snatch what it desires. Eerie sets on a journey to find her parents, stretching her courage and strength. But to save them, she has to discover where the heart of shadows truly lies. Will she be able to conquer the darkness before it conquers her?

tangled branches. glittering sea. speckled light. pale skin. little red fox. bare feet pounding on the forest floor. scribbled notes on faded paper. soft beat of a lonely heart. twisted shadows. dark, crashing waves. scratched birchwood. a silver-tipped arrow.
WELL. Normally I prepare by doing nothing and then smacking my keyboard hoping for somewhat coherent words.

This year is a bit different. I tried this weird method called plotting. And... it worked? I kind of have a plot? I HAVE AN ENDING? (no beginning, but I can worry about that later. NaNo isn't quite like NaNo without stress.)

Also, catching up on sleep while I can, because I know I will hardly get any when NaNo comes. xD

THE CLIMAX. There's this one scene. This one scene that makes me actually squeal every time I plot it out. I cannot wait to put that scene into words. I'm flailing just thinking about it. Maybe I'm the only one who gets this excited about a scene? Please tell me I'm not. :P

I'm excited about the general feel of my novel. It's the type of story I would want to read -- mysterious, lyrical, character based... I cannot wait to write this thing GAH.

*really just wishes this novel was already written and rewritten and edited so you all can read it and share in my flailing*


The island itself is surrounded by a sea. A silver sea, that glitters, almost sparkles, when you set your eye on it. There is no end -- at least not one that has been found -- and no bottom. It is endless, but not a weight to look upon, as it is a very pretty sight.

Until, you know, it turns deathly black later in the book. Mwahaha.


Since this takes place on a mysterious island, there are lots of mysterious plants and creatures. Like the speargold (lame name but I tried) bushes -- thin, razor sharp bushes made out of white branches and golden leaves. Do not touch. The leaves may bite and the branches may spear you.

In the words I wrote in my plotting notebook: basically, it can kill you. so. danger.


Throughout the book, Eerie discovers more and more of these empty houses in the birchwood forest. Unmade beds and messy rooms reveals that the inhabitants left unprepared. This raises questions -- But why? Where did they go? Have there been others living on the island all along?
Eerie wants change, and she believes that will only happen by leaving the island. But very quickly things happen and her goal is no longer to leave the island, but to save what the island has taken from her. Thus the journey and the danger begin and poor little Eerie is given more than her heart can probably handle.

Sorry, Eerie. *winces*
hope. friendship. conquering the darkness. overcoming fears. to never give up.

Those are some of the themes that I know will appear, but it's surprising how easy it is for a book to take its own path. Different themes turn up, and readers may draw different themes from my writing. I hope that's what will happen -- that they can take what they need to hear for themselves.
I want readers to feel something. Good or bad. Maybe a bit of both. I want them to feel inspired and unstoppable and wish to read the thing all over again.

Or, if I'm being really honest: I want my readers to feel like they just finished a slice of pizza. Sad that the book is over, but happy that the journey was epic.

// katie grace

What's your one sentence pitch for your NaNo novel/WIP?
or if that's too hard and you just want to link me to your beautiful books post, DO THE THING.
(cause I reallllyyyy want to hear about everyone's genius ideas)

Don't Be Afraid To Give NaNo A Try

Saturday, October 15, 2016
I told myself I wasn't going to write a post about NaNoWriMo, because that is the #1 hot topic in the blogosphere right now, but I couldn't resist. I love NaNo too much to not talk about it.

(before I continue, NaNo is an insane writing challenge that stands for National Novel Writing Month where you write 50,000 words in one month.)

Maybe when you hear the word, "NaNo," your mind automatically goes to, "more like naNO. Nahh no. Heh. sweats nervously at my lame sense of humor that sounds better out loud

I took a poll on my Twitter (that I may or may not spend too much time on), and a surprising amount of people were still as of yet undecided on whether they would do the NaNo challenge or not.

Basically, this post is to convince you to give NaNo a try. Before that scares you, I do understand that NaNo is not for everyone. Some writers write best without pressure and on their own time.

But, if you are one of those unsure writers, still debating on whether or not you should do NaNo this year... go for it.

Yeah, you might not make it. You might decide against it after a couple of days. You might start falling behind on school and and realize that it's all simply a little too much.

But don't let the fear of failing hold you back. Instead let the hope of succeeding push you forward. 

Because what if you do succeed? What if you walk out of November with 50,000 words and/or a finished novel? (we won't talk about the need for sleep and intake of caffeine consumption)
"NaNo Stats show: You have a 0% chance of winning if you don't create a novel. Let's do this!"
(dorky little quote from NaNo's website that is 100% true :P)

Maybe you'll surprise yourself -- that's how my first NaNo year turned out. (I was going for 15,000 words. Ha. Silly me.) Maybe sudden motivation will appear.

Maybe you won't make 50,000 words, and that's okay. Maybe you'll only come out with 5,000 or 10,000 or 20,000 words. What I'm going to say is obvious, but an important reminder -- that's more words than what you started with. 

If NaNoWriMo can inspire you to write some words -- however many that may be -- that is the real goal. 

If you're going into the month, knowing that you want to shoot for less than 50,000 words, you can use the Young Writer's Program that NaNo offers. It's for writers eighteen years of age or younger, and more like Camp NaNoWriMo in the way that you're able to choose your own word count. (and there's no shame for going for half the amount of words or even less!)

Don't be afraid to give NaNo a try. NaNo has taught me how to write under a deadline. Shown me how many writers are actually out there. Forced me to just get the words on the page. To show that editing isn't important in the first draft -- that can come later.

It's a scary challenge. It will be stressful. But go for it. No one's going to think any less of you if you come out of November with under 50,000 words. We'll all be happy to celebrate at the writing that did get done.

// katie grace

(convinced yet? sign up here and add me as a buddy if you want to stalk my stats!)
(and like I said already, no shame is NaNo isn't for you! There's no guilt in not being able to do it this year. :)

What scares you about NaNoWriMo?

a bookish post

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Today I am talking about books. Because... books.

It's been a bit of time since I've had an entire post just dedicated to books. I'm going to be rambling about some of my favorite stories I've read this year -- and include pictures because that's always fun. (I've read 111 books this year so I'm very proud of being able to narrow it down to only a couple)


Below is a list of my five favorite books (and one trilogy) in no order, because putting them into a specific order would be impossible. xD

My mom and I went adventuring in the cold to take pictures of these beautiful books. I carried them for a whole mile and I AM PROUD TO BE A STRONG BOOKWORM. (beside the fact that the neighbors probably now think I'm weird)

(will do anything for books, even if it means kneeing in the sand and walking a mile with VERY HEAVY HARDCOVERS)


[brandon sanderson | goodreads]

The third book FINALLY CAME OUT THIS YEAR! Ugh, this series. It's hilarious and epic and intense and fun and has superheroes and it's just the best trilogy ever. (or one of them. I say "this is the best book!" to most books I read. :P)

(I have them all in pretty hardcovers and it makes me happy)


[claire legrand | goodreads]

I have to admit -- I picked this book up at the library just because of the cover, because it is SO PRETTY. (I rarely pick up books by their covers, but this one worked out nicely? So maybe I should do it more often?) The simplicity of the colors and the illustration and the fonts... *happy sigh* And then once I read this book, it turned out to be a beautifully deep and lyrical story that is basically just the best. It deals with mental illness in a wonderful way and just READ THE THING. 

[noelle stevenson | goodreads]

Until this year, I had never read a graphic novel. (at least that I can remember. ha.) I don't know why -- words AND art?! I'm insanely impressed by these alien humans that can draw and write. How... just... how?

Anyways, even though I'm not used to graphic novels, Nimona is now one of my favorite books. Ever. It's such a sweet and humorous read -- shape shifting, superhero powers, and funny banter -- yet has a perfectly bittersweet ending that I just adored. LOVED TO DEATH. There's something about bittersweet endings that will always make me happy. I guess it maybe seems more realistic that way. *shrug*


[jaqueline west | goodreads]

This... this book is weird. I mean, a girl hallucinating shakespeare characters?? Who even thinks up a plot like that?

(apparently the author. but I can in fact confirm that the author is as sane as a writer can be, and is very nice. I met her twice and it made me all sorts of happy when she said, "it's Katie Grace, right?" when signing my book. :D)


[nadine brandes | goodreads]

SO. MUCH. EXCITEMENT. *freaks out*

The first line of the book. The last line of the book. EVERY LINE IN THE BOOK. The themes and the characters and the story is just amazing. The series deals with a very thought provoking question -- how would you live if you knew the day you died? And... and you just need to read this series. xD 

(If you haven't read this series and are interested... there is a facebook party happening on October 18th, and there will be lots of fun and giveaways! I am 100% going and wouldn't miss it for anything, so DO THE THING.)

[marissa meyer | goodreads]

*sighs happily over the lunar chronicles*

Winter was actually the first book I read this year, and it obviously was one of the best. Fairytales in space. So much yes.

AND GUESS WHAT?! To continue the bookish excitement...


And it was fabulous. She is the sweetest human and treated everyone so nicely. Our writing styles are also very similar -- she writes around six thousand words a day, but then usually ends up scrapping her first draft. Ahh, the problems of speedy drafters. :P

And I got to take a picture with her! And they turned out! I am a bundle of happiness and IT WAS SO MUCH FUN TO MEET MY FAVORITE AUTHOR. (and she's done like a billion NaNoWriMos. It makes me so happy that she loves the NaNo craziness.)

// katie grace

What are your top three favorite books you've read this year?

September Highlights // 2016

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Welcome to October. Let's conquer this thing.

(actually, first there's this post. then go conquer the thing.)

slapped some text on a picture because there were no pretty leaves to take pictures of and be fancy with. *sobs*

I DID THE BULLET JOURNALING THING. And... I actually really liked it. Loved it. It's a great way to review the day quickly, and set up important tasks for the month/day/week. Pretty sure I'm hooked and there's no going back. :P

It was my dad's birthday this month, and we got him an ice cream maker! (which really means that he gets to make us yummy ice cream all the time. love you, dad.) Vanilla chocolate chip malt, raspberry, peach, vanilla, and oreo mint are the ones we've made so far. SO GOOD. And a little chilly, but then it's just an excuse for fuzzy socks and blankets. ;)

Apparently it was National Coffee Day on September 29th? Which was lovely, since I work at a coffee shop and got to celebrate by serving coffee for most of the day. I used to hate coffee, but I've grown a rather strong liking to it -- especially when there's chocolate IN it. :P

Several exciting things that have to do with my favorite band in the entire world. (aka = twenty one pilots.) One, my sister and dad surprised me by getting these bracelets (that also work as anklets) from the Mall of America! They're the cutest things and I am probably going to wear them nonstop. 

Two... *drum roll* I'M GOING TO A TWENTY ONE PILOTS CONCERT. Excuse me while I shriek forever. And cry. Because twenty one pilots. Enough said. *happy sighing and flailing*

(On a randomish note, does anyone know any coders? I have some things that are being a little wacky on my blog (search bar, social share buttons...) and I have no idea how to do the thing. Help/recommendations would be very appreciated. :P)

Also, I guess fall is officially here? Fall is one of my favorite seasons, though now that it's arrived I've been nothing but a shivering pile of sweatshirts and blankets. I despise the cold, which is unfortunate since I'm always cold. And it's freezing where I live. Blerch.

(sneak peak of the bullet journal, mwahaha)

Not a lot of books this month, but rewriting practically ate me alive, so I'm happy with what I have. :P

The Star-Touched Queen: 2/5 -- wasn't thrilled with this one. kind of bored? there was a huge plot twist that I thought was amazing, but then I stopped caring as much.

Some Kind of Happiness: 5/5 -- THE COVER. THE STORY. THE WRITING. THE MESSAGE. ugh. dear goodness this is easily one of my favorite books ever now and I love it so. stinking. much. it's amazing. <3 <3 <3 

The Progeny: 2/5 -- *hides because I didn't like this one but SO many people loved it*

A Time to Rise: 5/5 -- This book. Ohh, my heart. I was just amazed by the character's growth and the themes. It made my heart ache with happiness and everyone must read this series. <3 

Deny: 4/5 -- I haven't been loving many fantasy books lately, but I loved this one! It reminds me a lot of the Ilyon Chronicles. :D

The Leaving: 4/5 -- the writing and the premise was super cool, but I wasn't terribly thrilled by the ending. but overall I liked most of it.

Ahhh, writing. Writing was acting like an evil villain this month, continuously punching me in the head and thinking that I would never finish this stupid draft. 

But the little hero inside me arose to conquer the villain. But, dude, it was hard. Second drafts are my least favorite thing in the world. Second drafts are the drafts that make me hate writing, hate my book, hate everything. THEY'RE JUST NOT FUN, OKAY?

The good news? This little hero finished her second draft rewrites. *celebration* I wrote 17,000 words this month, and then closed my document, shut my computer, and proceeded to ignore it aggressively. 

(I didn't touch my computer until I needed to write this blog post. almost a week! o.o)

Now what will I do, seeing that the rewrites are done? 

There is this deep, dark, exciting force that looms in the near future. Hundreds of thousands of writers await its arrival each and every year. It is pronounced many ways, but has only one name: NANOWRIMO.

I tried to sound dramatic did I succeed?

I will be plotting Where Shadows Lie during the month of October. I'm using the Snowflake Method, and a whole post on that will be coming later, so I'll stop before I start rambling. xD

I actually have my posts planned out for once? Here are some that I'll write...

A tour of my bullet journal! I'm really excited about this one -- hoping that my pictures will turn out for it. :D 

What it was like to give plotting a try. I'm a hardcore pantser, so I'm interested to see how it works out. We'll see if I survive. xD

/ katie grace

Are you a coffee drinker?

and now you can go conquer the thing.
*sends pizza with you to aid you in your quest*