Saturday, July 29, 2017
July was a good month, but I'm excited for August to come.

I know I comment on the busyness of life every month... but I honestly think July was my busiest month yet. *collapses* I think I feel this way after every NaNo month -- exhausted and accomplished... but really just ready for a break after all the late nights of writing after work and school and life. :P

Let me say this: I really love movies. I know I'm a bookworm and I feel a little traitorous by typing that... but movies hold a special place in my heart. July's movies can be summed up by one character: Spider-Man. I watched the original Spider-Man, Amazing Spider-Man, and the newest one twice! Bet you can't guess who my favorite superhero is. :P

I also saw the movie Dunkirk! It's not my usual genre -- I don't think I've really ever watched a war movie, but the trailer looked awesome, the music sounded awesome, and Christopher Nolan directed it, so I knew it would be awesome. It was such a different movie, which is why I loved it so much. It's like it was made of a series of moments, not focusing on the big picture, but the memories and images that stand out. It's hard to explain so you'll just have to go and see it for yourself. But, man. I want to write books like Christopher Nolan directs movies. <3

Switching to talking about blogging... One night, when I was supposed to be editing, I became inspired and did some coding for a new sidebar widget. If you're reading this post in your browser on a desktop, you can hover over the images under the "read more" section and it should direct you to new posts. (The HTML coding might've broken my brain but I'm glad I finally figured it out :P)

This happened this month:

So. Reading this month. *laughs nervously* ...I read three books. (and bought four. heh. (pictured above) No, not the greatest. Not the worst, but I'm okay with it. I'm debating whether I should change my Goodreads goal from 100 to... something lower. But that feels like cheating, and I don't know what to change it to, and part of me hopes to still reach 100 even though there's like a .0001% chance of that still happening. (one can dream :P)

Even if it wasn't a good month for reading lots of books... LOOK AT HOW GORGEOUS ALL THOSE COVERS ARE (!!!). That automatically makes everything a bit better. xD

The Night Circus [3/5]
The Scorpio Races [5/5]
Kingdom of Ash and Briars [1/5]

Along the lines of good and bookish things... I finally converted my sister into the bookworm world. She's cruising through the Lunar Chronicles faster than any of the books I read this month, and this is HUGE, considering she read a total of like three books last year. So I'm a happy and proud older sister. :')

[editing on Independence Day with appropriately themed pen colors :P]
So many writing things have gone done this month. I started off July strong with finishing my novel, WTaRR. I'm not happy with the ending (or most of the book, if we're being honest), but I'm just glad to be done with it. This novel has become my new "problem child," and I'm content to let it rest on the shelf for a good couple years months before tackling edits.

Meanwhile, I'm slowly cranking along with my Camp NaNo goal (90 minutes a day). I'm behind (no surprise) BUT I'M DETERMINED TO STILL MAKE IT! I'm editing the second draft of Where Shadows Lie. I spent the first week of Camp re-outlining the entire plot, which was exhausting, but SO. WORTH. IT. I finally solved a plot hole hole that's been bothering me since I've plotted this novel, and I couldn't be more relieved. (it's the best feeling ever <3)

Also... *whisper*
(I feel like my month could be summarized as "a superhero-y kind of month" :P)

By the way, I'm insanely jealous of all you lucky people who went to Realm Makers this year. I didn't think I would get very envious, but the pictures and workshop tidbits are being posted and I want a teleportation device now more than ever. 

*whisper* August is going to be my three year blogging anniversary. o.o And I have nothing planned. Any ideas or posts you want to see? Otherwise I might do things a little more laid-back this year. It'll be a surprise for everyone involved. :P

Jeneca and I had a lovely conversation about conflicting feedback from critiquers and beta readers, so I might wrap up some of the points we discussed in a post ('tis a tricky matter).

I look forward to chatting with all of you in August! Enjoy the last month of summer. *sniff* (but that means fall is next, which is my favorite season, so I can't be too sad. ;)

katie grace

did you buy any books this month?
watch any good movies?

#WIPjoy - Where Shadows Lie

Saturday, July 22, 2017
Happy Saturday!

Have you heard of #WIPjoy? If you're not familiar with it, it's a Twitter hashtag created by Bethany Jennings that involves daily prompts and chances for writers to share about their novel. She's created a lovely Twitter community full of writers encouraging each other and becoming excited over future stories. :D

The idea is that you keep up with the hashtag, tweeting your answers every day... but I have a habit of forgetting about it and falling behind (whoops). So I'm going to choose my favorite questions and compile them in a blog post. 

describe yourself and your WIP

I'm a pizza eating, pun making, and story flailing, and bad-at-describing-myself writer. :P

My WIP is called Where Shadows Lie, and it follows Eerie, a young girl, trying to save her parents from shape-shifting shadows. (and that's the best I can do for a one sentence pitch xD)

your first inspiration for this WIP

I feel like a lot of writers get their first inspiration for the plot or characters, but I usually get my ideas from a mood/aesthetic/vibe/feel (who knows if that makes sense xD). I was on the way to a youth retreat with my youth group. We drove past a hauntingly beautiful forest of birch trees and BOOM! I immediately knew that I had to make their twisting branches and shadows my next story setting. 

would you rather: get trapped in your story for a week, or have your antagonist enter your life for a day?

BOTH OF THESE SOUND EQUALLY TERRIFYING. Have my antagonist enter my life? Uhh, no thanks, especially if they're specifically in my life to hunt me down, and, er, finish me. 

I would love to meet the characters in my world... but I'm not sure how I well I'd survive with the shadows and the creepy forest and the shape-shifting darkness. I'd probably have to go with that option, though. How could I pass down an opportunity like that? <3 (I feel like being trapped in my story is basically like being trapped in my own mind for a week. #research xD)

a line you nailed perfectly

I'm not one to share a lot of my writing, and it's rare for me to be insanely confident with one line... but I spent forever trying to come up with the title for my first chapter and I'm happy with how it turned out:
chapter one: beware the monsters of the birchwood forest  
I'm also fairly satisfied with my first line?? (below)
We can't leave, because the shadows won't let us.
So the first two lines are great, and then everything's a mess from there on out. xD

your MC's aesthetic in seven phrases

fierce little warrior sandy bare feet chopped hair adventurer best friend is a fox talks to the trees

would you rather: never publish this WIP, or watch it be adapted into a horrible movie?

OKAY THAT'S JUST AN EVIL QUESTION. *shudders* Are you trying to torture me? ('cause you're succeeding)

*comes back to this question after a literal ten minutes of thinking about it*

I've decided that I'd be okay with either. Yeah, I'd love to publish this WIP, but I have so many novels in my future! I've got time -- lately I've been talking about not rushing the process, and this is part of that.

If this WIP was made into a horrible movie, at first I would be terribly disappointed. But look at the Percy Jackson movies -- everyone hates those, but the books are still insanely popular and loved. If anything, it would drive more traffic back to the original story.

So, like any other "would you rather" question I'm given, I can't decide. But there's my reasoning for both. :P

choose an ideal reading spot, food, drink, and music to go with your book

reading spot: quiet window seat with the view of a gray, stormy sea
food: pizza DUH
drink: CHAI. <3 or tea. or coffee. really anything cozy and soothing would work
music: haunting instrumentals, Aurora, the sound of the crashing waves, aching silence

what's something you're still figuring out about this WIP?

Beside the plot and the beginning and the middle and the characters and the setting and the conflict and the story arc? (you think I'm kidding but I'm mostly serious. :P)

The ending. Endings are incredibly difficult for me. (because no matter how great of a beginning you have, I feel like the reader is always going to walk away from the book with the emotion you give them at the end: are they satisfied? disappointed? angry? inspired?)

share a thought that keeps you going as a writer

Here's a couple because I can't just keep it to one:
You're the only person who can write this story.
A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit. (Richard Bach)
A writer is a writer not because she has amazing talent, or because everything she does is golden. A writer is a writer because, even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway. (Junot Diaz)
The secret to writing is pizza. (Katie Grace (hehe...)
a line that was hard to write

The answer to this question would mean copying and pasting my 77,000 word novel into this blog post, because every. single. sentence. proved to be difficult and took much thought and creativity.

So. There. Writing is hard. :P

why do you yearn to share this story with the world?

It's a story that's unique to only my heart and mind -- one that God's given me to write, and I will write it to the best of my abilities. I yearn to share it so that I can meet and encourage others through it. Storytelling is a powerful, beautiful thing. <3

- - -
Here is the complete compilation of the #WIPjoy prompts (click on the image for a larger version). I encourage you to write a post about your WIP using the questions, because I'm always curious as to what everyone's writing. ^.^

katie grace

how did you get the inspiration for your WIP?

in which I endlessly flail about spider-man homecoming

Saturday, July 15, 2017

I've been counting down the days, waiting for this movie to come out, since last May. I've had multiple trailer watching marathons and frequent flailing attacks from the sheer excitement of it all. Dude, I've been so hyped that it's probably a bit pathetic.

My wonderful father bought tickets for the sixth -- the night before it came out. When we left to go to the theater I immediately became nervous -- what if I didn't like it? Maybe it'll only be, "good," and not the "BEST MOVIE EVER." And then maybe I've built it up too much for my family, and what if we're all just a sad bundle of disappointed movie goers? 

I will keep this post spoiler free... except for this: Spider-Man Homecoming is now one of my new favorite movies. There were no disappointed movie goers. ;)

Spider-Man has always been one of my favorite superheroes. The original movies with Toby Maguire were my first introduction to the superhero world. (MEMORIES <3) I wasn't a huge fan, but I think that's because younger Katie somehow knew that there would be a better Spider-Man in the future. :P

So then came along the second remakes with Andrew Garfield. (I told myself I wouldn't spend ages on the backstory of my life with these movies but HERE WE GO ANYWAY :P) I feel like these movies get hated on a lot. And yeah, they had some problems, but I still loved love them. And the second movie? It broke my soul. I cry a lot in movies, but outright weeping? I'm still pained over what happened. :P

Now we've moved on to the newest Spider-Man and I'll probably never be done screeching over it. I know many were wary about yet another remake, but I was stoked from the beginning. Because Marvel! How could I not be excited? xD

*weeps happily* I had every right to be excited. IT! WAS! SO! GOOD!

For me, one of the draws to Spider-Man as a hero is how gosh darn young he is. He's in highschool -- my age! (well, technically two years younger than me but close enough) The previous movies had old(er) actors and never really showed the school side of things. But half of Homecoming basically took place in the school. They did it very realistically, creating the struggle of balancing tests and friends and life. (I'm no superhero, but I can attest to trying to do all the things at once and instead just exhausting myself. So go Spidey. :P)

I looove all the characters. They're all unique and have such varied personalities, but it works. Heh, there was one scene where the students were doing sit-ups in gym class, and Michelle (one of the characters), just laid on her back, lifting her book up and down while reading. As a fellow bookworm, I relate. 

And it was a genuinely funny, laugh-out-loud movie?? It almost felt like a comedy at some parts because the theater kept exploding with chuckles. I expected the lightheartedness (because of what I had seen from the trailers) but then DUDE it got intense. My sister and I were shrieking (as quietly as you can shriek) throughout all the action. The tension didn't let up and I might've stopped breathing halfway through the movie from the sheer stress of it all (ESPECIALLY WITH THAT CERTAIN PLOT TWIST AH o.o). It felt like I was in the story and the scenes with the characters fighting the villain.

A++++ to the storytelling and character building and acting. In the other Spider-Man movies, I feel like they became accustomed to their powers suspiciously easily. This Peter Parker messed up. He struggled and failed at times, but that made me love him even more. Because yes, he's a superhero, but he's still a human and isn't perfect.

What I love about Peter's character, is how hard he tries to be a good person. There aren't any crazy anti-hero antics -- he's just a good kid trying to do good for his friends and I adore the important emphasis on that. He made mistakes but kept trying, which is a good lesson for all of us -- to keep persisting through our battles. He has such a raw determination and strength and energy to him and ackk I just really love seeing those traits in a hero.

*happy sigh* Basically, go watch Spider-Man. (and then tell me what you think so we can flail about it mwahaha)

katie grace

have you seen spider-man homecoming?
who is your favorite superhero?


Saturday, July 8, 2017
Before I start this post, I want to publicly announce that Spider-Man Homecoming met every one of my expectations and it is now officially one of my favorite Marvel movies ever. That is all, and you can continue now. (Got to get those priorities out of the way... :P)

Anywho... today I'm sharing a few of the things I learned at the Minneapolis Young Writer's Conference. I'm always astonished by how wise and thoughtful the authors are -- they're such an inspiration. Hopefully some of the tidbits below will strike with you as well. :)

I've always known this -- that stories are forever there. But when Wayne Thomas Batson mentioned this at the workshop, it actually clicked. Once a book is published, it's there until the world is no more (unless some dystopian/futuristic society comes to the ridiculous conclusion that books are evil and destroys them all. heaven help their souls). 

At least to me, I found this extremely encouraging. Even when I'm gone, my story can still touch and entertain and transport people to other worlds for generations to come. That's pretty amazing.

(it also makes me thankful that I'm living now in this time, because think of how many books will be published in another 200 years?!? Our TBR piles would be complete insanity. xD)

For one of the workshop classes, an amazingly kind and hilarious acquisitions editor (Jillian Manning) taught about her job and the process of signing on a story. She gave us a couple stats for the amount of proposals she receives which I found really interesting: (as a note: this is unique to her, so it will be different for other editors)

Estimated proposals she receives: 

Daily: 5
Monthly: 150
Yearly: 1,800

She only chooses thirty on a good year, which means that's an acceptance rate of 1.64%. I knew becoming published was hard, but... wow. Those are some crazy numbers.

Along the same lines, Shannon Hale talked about how she got rejected close to 50 times before landing a contract. AND HER BOOKS ARE AMAZING! In one of her classes she said, "Rejection doesn't mean you and your story are worthless; it's the wrong place and wrong time." Keep going. Keep revising. Keep writing. Your hard work will pay off in the end.

Ahh, crafting the dreaded pitch. They're hard for a reason -- summarizing a 80,000 word book in less than 35 words seems like an impossible task. But it's something that needs to be done (unfortunately... -.-)

Sabaa Tahir taught a class about characterization -- finding their goal, motivation, and conflict. After she expanded on each of these she wrote out a simple formula for describing the main arc of your story.

name wants goal because motive but conflict.

made-up example: 
Karen wants to escape the dungeon because her execution is soon but she has nowhere to go.

HOW SIMPLE IS THAT? Obviously this wouldn't be the finished pitch because it's pretty bare and sounds like it's copied from a formula ('cause it is)... but it's a great exercise to get the wheels in your mind turning to help write the official one sentence summary.

The authors from the conference had a panel together and they all adamantly agreed on this one thing: Live first. 

If you have the chance to go to a movie with friends, do it! Go and explore, go and live, go and interact with people. Writing will always be there, but not these unique opportunities to make memories with others.

This was encouraging for me to hear, because it's what I've been thinking about a lot lately. These teen years only happen once! I really want to make sure and enjoy them and create fun experiences. (except in the months of April, July, and November. Those will forever be dedicated to NaNo and my social butterly-ness might disappear xD)

I'll end it on that lovely message -- one that I hope you and I will both take to heart. Live first, and live well, my friends.

katie grace

what have you learned about writing recently?
if you try out the pitch formula, I'd love for you to share your result!
(because I am endlessly curious about everyone's stories :D)


Saturday, July 1, 2017
Guess who completely forgot about writing a blog post today?


So now it's nine at night and I want to finish a novel and prepare for Camp NaNo and bullet journal and make tea and reply to emails all before midnight and I think I have a bit of a problem. Sometimes doing all the things is not possible and that's unfortunate. xD

*whisper* I think this is my favorite picture I've ever taken. I REALLY LOVE DAISES. <3
I discovered an amazing new music artist, Aurora! She has a hauntingly beautiful voice and her songs are perfect for writing -- especially fantasy. One of my favorite songs by her is Nature Boy. This song is a cover, but most of her others are beautiful originals.

Speaking of music, I saw Switchfoot in concert -- one of my favorite bands. THEIR LYRICS. THEIR SONGS. Ugh, they just make my heart happy. I also saw For King and Country at the same music festival, and while I don't like their songs quite as much... they put on such a good show. I couldn't stop grinning from the epicness. xD

At the end of the month, I traveled to a lakeside resort with my extended family, which meant volleyball, rock painting, reading, singing twenty one pilots by the fire, and writing by the lake. It's refreshing to get away, and I made major progress on writing. So yay! 

I've also started school. (surprisingly, I've done this voluntarily. :P) Being homeschooled allows flexible scheduling, so I've decided to take advantage of that and start early so I can finish sooner next year. Hopefully I will stick to this. We'll see. xD

Also, we're halfway through the year. Heh. (scary thought, isn't it?)

(left) rock painting for Where Shadows Lie! 
(right) the gorgeous cover of the Evaporation of Sofi Snow

FINALLY a good month for books! Which is very needed, since I'm eighteen books behind on my Goodreads goal. Yup. Eighteen. I did the math (basically the only time I'll do math by choice), and I have to read a book every 2.5 days to meet my goal of 100 books. Please tell me I'm not the only one behind on my reading goal. :P

Oh! For the first time in forever (*resists the urge to start singing Frozen*), I read a book in one sitting! My attention span is too small to do that normally, but Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore held me tight and I couldn't put it down. o.o Sooo good, even though I'm not usually interested in that genre.

The Knife of Never Letting Go [3.5/5]
Angel Eyes [5/5]
The Evaporation of Sofi Snow [3/5]
Real Friends [5/5]
The Wish Granter [2.5/5]
A Torch Against the Night [3/5]
Unfolding [2/5]
An Ember in the Ashes [3/5]


And congratulations to my friend, Brianna, for published her book Unsanctioned Eyes this month! I have a giveaway going for a paperback copy, a notebook, and bookmarks, so might want to check that out. ;)

There wasn't a lot of writing done this month, but I'm starting to get into the swing of things again! I got around 15,000 words written, and I wrote about 5,000 of those words on paper! I never thought I would enjoy writing on paper because it goes sooo slowlyyy.. but I've found that the words come a lot smoother. There's never the problem of staring at the paper unsure of what to write next -- it all flowed beautifully. So maybe writing a whole novel on paper will be in my future. :D

Who else is doing Camp NaNoWriMo? IT'S NEVER TO LATE TO JOIN THE CRAZINESS! I will be editing my novel, Where Shadows Lie. (and finishing my prequel novel but that should hopefully only take one or two days) My goal is 45 hours, which is 1.5 hours a day. It'll be tough, but I'm READY FOR THE CHALLENGE. I've got an amazing cabin to help me out with the insanity. :D

Along the lines of writing, I went to the Minneapolis Young Writer's Workshop this month! It was a fabulous time of learning and friendship and sitting by established editors and authors over lunch. Such an amazing opportunity. <3

I had a bunch of my internet friends come to stay at my house (aka no sleep ever and bunches of giggles over silly puns instead), which made the experiences 100000x better. These ladies have encouraged me in my writing and faith and my general journey in life, and I owe them so much. <3

top: laura, hannah, olivia, kristana
bottom: aimee, caroline, meee! xD

Overall, it was a fabulous month. July will return to the normal hustle of work and school and writing and blogging and friends and all the things, but June was a nice (and exhausting) change of pace. 

May Camp NaNo be fabulous and filled with many words and productivity. You can do this. 

katie grace
what's your camp nano goal?
anyone else behind on their reading challenge?