}

Thursday, January 17, 2019

A Review of the Angel Eyes Trilogy by Shannon Dittemore

Hi guys! Can you believe we're halfway through January already?? I hope your New Year has been going well. I'm pretty proud of myself because I've been keeping up with my bullet journal and my daily goals. I've also written a little and I've been reading a lot, which has been SO great because this past year or two, it has been so rare for me to actually sit down and just read for a while.

And that's a great transition into this post, because today I'm reviewing the first books I read this year: the Angel Eyes trilogy by Shannon Dittemore.



I had heard good things about this trilogy from other bloggers. I had first gotten to know Mrs. Dittemore from her posts on the Go Teen Writers website, and so I knew that I would have to read her books eventually. And now that I have, I definitely loved them.

I'll be doing a mini-review of each book and then sharing my thoughts on the trilogy as a whole. This post is mostly spoiler-free, but of course the parts about each book will give a little bit away if you haven't read the previous books. Also, for those of you who have read them, I'll include some spoilers in white text so you have to highlight them to see anything. Like this: spoilers spoilers hi guys

ANGEL EYES

There are just certain books that hook me right from the beginning (I guess every book should be that way), and this was one of them. The book starts with Brielle returning to her tiny little hometown of Stratus, Oregon, after some kind of tragedy has happened in her life. The mystery, the cold weather, the woods by her house-- it gives it an intriguing, almost eerie feel.

Then we meet Jake, who is so endearing and has such chemistry with Brielle from the moment they meet. Brielle realizes from the beginning that there's something strange about Jake and his "guardian", Canaan. Jake gives her an odd object that gives her comfort-- and also makes her see things. Like the angels and demons around her. She soon realizes that the object is a halo, which belongs to Canaan, who is actually an angel.

This book was a great lead-in to the rest of the trilogy. You get a taste of the setting, grow to love Brielle and Jake, and slowly watch Brielle's eyes start to open (no pun intended).

The only thing I was unsure about with this book at first was that I expected it to be a bit more realistic. The story starts and the angels/demons thing is kind of lowkey; in the celestial POV, you see them having conflicts, but they mostly stay out of the terrestrial (what the normal people without celestial vision see). But then as the story went on, they began to have more of a role in the terrestrial, and it just started to feel like a fantasy. The human trafficking thing just felt weird, being run by a legit demon and all. These celestial beings living on Earth and having so much to do with humans just felt kind of weird. (although if I'm honest I can't say with absolute certainty that this doesn't happen! who knows, "entertaining angels unawares" could go a lot deeper than we think.) (more on my opinion about that later, because those are not my final thoughts on it.)


BROKEN WINGS

This book is a little more difficult because I feel like a lot happened in it and it's all hard to classify.
So, just a quick overview of a bunch of things that happened: we meet Satan, which is super chilling (how ironic). We meet the Sabres, the angels who fight with worship. We meet Brielle's dad's new friend, Olivia Holt.


We find out what really happened to Brielle's mom.

Also in this book, Brielle's and Jake's private little world with angels and demons begins to come to light with others, such as Brielle's dad and best friend. They face the demon that has been plaguing Brielle's and Jake's life for the past seven months.

Brielle goes through a lot in this book. From her dad starting to drink again, and the way-too-young Olivia (who gives off a bad vibe to Brielle) hanging out with him, to disturbing, unexplained dreams, to a lot of drama involving her mother's death... it's not a walk in the park for our poor girl in this book. The title "Broken Wings" is really fitting for everything that happens, because Brielle learns to be broken and still go on. This is said in a lovely way in the last line of the book: "I'm broken, but here in the red orchard, surrounded by the sweet smell of worship, I raise my hands above my head,
and I believe."

I overall liked this book as much as the first one. But I felt like the overall plot was kind of everywhere? I don't know, it could definitely just be me. I just remember as I was reading it, trying to decide what the main plot was and I was having trouble coming up with one. But it still carried the story nicely and led well into the finale.

DARK HALO

The last book picks up right where the previous one left off. (Brielle's still dancing her little heart out in the orchard.) Jake's gone, and there's a heavenly battle raging above Stratus.

Then circumstances land her right in the middle of the Danakil Depression, all alone-- save for the company of the Prince of Darkness. You know, Satan.

I just want to talk about this part of the book for a minute. I think it was so well done. Brielle is literally facing off with Satan, and he is seducing her to all his evil lies. Brielle is listening to him, telling herself that he's a liar, that he's just trying to trick her, but she can't help but be drawn in and believe him. He's so appealing and obnoxiously charming. When he offers her the dark halo that will
take away her celestial vision, she doesn't just say "nope, under absoutely no circumstances am I taking that thing" like we think she should be able to. She gives in to temptation a little and has to fight it.

I think that's a great example of what happens in real life sometimes-- temptation happens, and we know that we should fight it. And maybe we try. But sometimes we're pulled in anyway, because it's just like it's portrayed in this book-- sin and temptation are appealing sometimes. And I feel like it's important for us to see the characters we love struggling with that-- nobody wants a perfect hero. If they don't struggle with something, it's not really that rewarding to root for them. (More on that later, too.)

I was a little worried after Danakil that the book had slown down and would have a subpar finale. Danakil was actually pretty early in the book-- less than halfway in. And it really felt like climax material-- after fighting demons all this time, Brielle meets Satan and has to deal with his temptation face-to-face. After that, I just felt like the closer I got to the end it still felt too slow to be leading up to a great climax.

But it did. I can't say too much, but I was satisfied by the ending and  I think it measured up.

There was one thing in this book that perplexed me. Brielle suddenly, without any clues that it could lead to this, discovers that her friend Ali, who was murdered just before the first book started, was Jake's twin sister. I was totally thrown off by this. If I'm not mistaken, there was only one tiny indication in the whole trilogy about this-- Brielle looking at a picture of her and Ali and thinking for a fleeting moment that Ali was Jake, because of the way she was smiling and her hair was slicked back. I just felt like that whole twist was really pointless. It was revealed very close to the end of the third book, and with everything that was going on, there really was hardly any time to process it and the characters didn't say a lot about it after the reveal. I don't know, I just didn't see the point. 


And just look at those covers! Aren't they gorgeous?
So, my thoughts on the whole trilogy. I'll start with what I said I'd come back to.

Although they took a different turn than I was expecting, the nature of the books didn't bother me anymore by the end. I was expecting a more realistic story when I started, but the thing is, everything that happened in these books could actually happen. I mean, the prologue is an actual scene from the Bible where people were actually seeing the angels that were fighting for them. Eve met and was tempted by Satan face to face, like Brielle was. The New Testament says that Jesus gave His disciples power and authority to heal, like Jake does. So while everything in these books was carried out in a more fantastical manner than we read about in the Bible, yeah, I think it could totally happen.

Okay, now back to the subject of perfect characters. I really struggled with whether or not Jake fit this description. I loved Jake, don't get me wrong, but honestly, I felt like he should have dealt a little more with temptation, like Brielle did. Maybe I shouldn't have thought that, because he's not the main character, so that kind of thing was mostly focused on Brielle. It just felt like he was the only human character who never really did or said anything wrong. (Tell me your thoughts on this in the comments!) I don't know, maybe that's what literally being raised by an angel does to you. That aside, though, I really did love Jake, and his and Brielle's relationship was so cute.

I also adore Kaylee. I mean, yeah, she's the typical spunky, quirky sidekick. But she is so supportive of Brielle and continues to stick with her even after she starts seeing the DEMONS that are attacking them. There's a scene in Dark Halo where Kaylee and Brielle are having a heartfelt conversation about different things, braiding each other's hair. It's just such a sweet scene.

I loved how worship and prayer were used in these books as weapons. I already mentioned the Sabres, who literally fight wars with worship. And throughout the whole trilogy, we see Jake and Brielle doing the same thing-- praying in the face of danger, worshipping to resist the enemy.

So! There were a couple things about this trilogy that I didn't care for or understand. But overall, I loved it and it's now definitely one of my favorite trilogies. I will for sure be rereading it in the future-- for enjoyment and also because there were a lot of things that kind of went over my head the first time (I don't pay attention) that I think I'll be able to put together a lot better after a second time.

All right, guys, thank you for bearing with me through this very long, kind of all-over-the-place post. Have you read the Angel Eyes trilogy? Who's your favorite character? Any other trilogies I should check out?

Thursday, January 10, 2019

My 2019 Goals

IT'S 2019!

I'm excited for this year. I feel like it's going to be a good one. I was sad as always to see Christmas go, but I think I was more ready than ever this year to start fresh again. My routine and some of the healthy habits I'd gotten into had totally gone down the drain and I was so eager to get back to that.

So, today I'm going to be sharing with you guys some of my goals for 2019! I kind of accidentally made a lot of them? Which is kind of funny because last year I didn't technically make any. I just felt like last year it was better for me to just try harder in every area of my life, be intentional with my time and money, and not waste a moment, rather than make a bunch of hollow goals.

But this year I found that I wanted to make goals and lists. Maybe it was because I had gotten so far off the routine I had established and wanted to redeem myself. But I have goals, and I'm looking forward to actually putting the effort into achieving them.

So here they are: just a few of my goals for 2019 (in no particular order)!

(ft. the first book I read in 2019)

KEEP UP WITH BULLET JOURNALING

I got so involved in bullet journaling this past fall. It was helping me so much to stay organized and make daily goals, and I was looking forward to sitting down each evening and drawing out the journal for the next day. But, like many other things, I got off track and stopped being so faithful about it. I'd get days behind and then catch myself up just so there wouldn't be any gaps.

So this year, I want to be diligent again about keeping up with it. Like I said, it's such a great help to me and also very satisfying to see all the organized little calendars and boxes, so I definitely want to keep up with it and not get behind again.

GET OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE

This could include many things, but I mean it mostly in the way of social situations. If you know me personally you know that I'm extremely antisocial outside of a computer screen. Unless someone's my close friend I prefer to keep to myself and avoid them. It sounds awful and I feel bad about it sometimes, but my introverted self just wishes that everybody else would mind their business and leave me alone. Don't talk to me, don't look at me.

This is me. So, so me. 
But at the same time, I want to be a friendly person. To show love and light to those who need it. So this year I want to try to always be getting out of my comfort zone in some way. Even if just means something as simple as walking through an occupied aisle at the store instead of seeking out a deserted one.

KEEP UP WITH READING BLOGS

This is HARD, y'all. There are so many great blogs that I try to read. And I fail. All the time.

But especially now that I've started my own blog, I want to make more of an effort to stay up-to-date with all the blogs I read, too. I've gotten so far behind on some of them and I want to keep from doing that this year.

FINISH A BOOK

I have all these stories sitting in my laptop unfinished and I keep flipping back and forth between this 
one and that one. It's been so long since I started some of them and I feel kind of guilty for leaving them like that so long.

So this year I want to finish one of my books. Any of them (because I can never predict which one I'll be in the mood to work on this year, heh). I'm not talking about edited and polished and publisher-ready (although that would be fantastic); I just want the story written and ready to move onto the next draft.

KEEP TRACK OF HOW MANY WORDS I WRITE


So this is one that I literally JUST came up with, but I think it will be fun. (Until I get tired of keeping track...) I'd like to try to actually keep a record of how many words I write every time I sit down to write. I think it will be interesting at the end of the year to be able to look back and actually see those statistics (and not just for the month of November ;).

I'll just count my books in this, not blog posts or anything. Of course, I can't promise that I'll stick with this one. It's just something that I'd like to try and if I decide it's not something I want to do all year, I'll stop. But I want to give it a shot, anyway.

These are definitely not all my goals for this year. Like I said, I seem to have a lot. But I'm ready for this year and excited to see what it will bring. Each year gives us 365 days in which we can grow and learn and accomplish so much. Can you imagine what we could do in a year if we worked as hard as we're actually capable?

What are some of your goals for 2019? Do you enjoy making lists or do you keep it all in your head? What are you most excited for in 2019?

(also, I'm trying out normal black font for this post instead of the brownish color I've been using as I feel black will look more standard and polished... what do you think? is black better? I'd love your opinion.)

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

End-of-Year Wrapup

(*posts an end-of-year-wrapup at the beginning of the year*) (oops)

We made it-- 2018 is over.

It's always such a weird feeling letting a year go. On one hand, I'm kind of sad, especially if some really great things have happened that year. It's silly, but you'll never get to live in that year again, you know? And then on the other hand, I'm so ready to start a new year with a fresh outlook and a clean slate.

But before I do that, I usually look back at the past year and recall what it brought me. And that's what you're reading right now: my first end-of-the-year wrapup post.

BLOGGING

I STARTED MY BLOG THIS YEAR! *confetti*

Thank you to everyone who's read my blog, left comments, and supported me. Starting this blog was such a big step out of my comfort zone and I'm loving it so far. I hope to share much, much more with you all in the next year!

READING

This year has not been great in the way of reading. I don't mean what I read, but how much. Of course, I still read, and that's what matters, but I just didn't read as much as I would have liked.

Please excuse this unproportionate Goodreads screenshot.

Honestly, most of the year was consumed with reading the complete Oz collection by L. Frank Baum. Which I very much enjoyed, but whew. What an undertaking. Also, I just want to point out that Goodreads only counted these as five books, but excuse me, there were THREE books in each 
volume, thank you very much.

Not counting the Chronicles of Narnia which are of course going to win out over everything else, I think my favorite book this year would be The Bridge.

(I just logged onto Goodreads and it said to me "Challenge yourself to read more this year!" and the suggested amount of books was 12. XD Shows you how little I read in 2018.)

WRITING

Sooo...

*drumroll*

I WON NANO THIS YEAR!

If you've been reading my blog you've probably seen me yell about this more than once. So, sorry. But this was a huge triumph for me and I'm still so happy that I did it.

Other than that, I did some work on one of my other stories this year (which you'll probably hear about eventually). But the main thing is that... *whispers* I won NaNo.

LIFE

This year's been kind of full of things.

First, I turned 20. Which is crazy. I literally still forget sometimes that I'm not a teenager anymore, 
and then I feel like I'm 80 years old. Seriously, how am I already 20?

I became an official crew trainer at work, which means that I'm one of the people they depend on to properly train new hires. I'm also expected to help my fellow employees whenever they don't know how to do something, or correct them if they're doing something incorrectly. SO MUCH POWER. (jk.)

This year I said goodbye to my 18-year-old dog Shadow.


And I got a car! Which is great for me, not so great for my bank account. But, you know. That's how it is.

Overall, it's been a good year. There's been some stuff to deal with, but, you know, I'm sure nobody's year was perfect. It's often how we choose to deal with everything that makes the year good or bad.

Anyway, guys, there you have it! I hope you had a great year and that 2019 will be even better!

How was your 2018? Anything fantastic happen? Did it go by super fast for you, too? Let's chat!

Monday, December 24, 2018

BETHLEHEM.

Bethlehem.

It just sounds magical, doesn't it?

I don't mean magic in the way that it is normally defined. I'm not talking about what makes reindeer fly, or snowmen come to life. I'm talking about miracles, and true stories that stir an indescribable feeling in our hearts. Special times that we hold onto and treasure.

It's funny how there are certain words that don't just sound like normal words to me anymore. Bethlehem is one of them. Speaking the word, hearing it-- it carries such an incredible feeling, a supernatural feeling that fills our hearts with joy. When I hear the word, I think of a sacred night long ago, when a young girl found no place to lay her newborn baby but a manger. A shining star over the 
city. Shepherds leaving their fields to come and see the newborn king.

Maybe it sounds strange to connect such emotion to a simple word, but no name of any other city sounds quite so special as Bethlehem.

For anybody who celebrates Christmas, the name brings to mind the wonderful Christmas story and how this holiday began. For those of us who know that Child personally, all these centuries later... it brings to mind so much more than a story. It brings hope, love, peace, and yes, magic. Magic greater than Santa Claus could ever create.

There are some things I just can't describe. I guess the way this word, Bethlehem, sounds to me is one of them. Maybe I'm the only one who feels this way. But when I hear Bethlehem, I think of Christmas. Of all the Christmas Eves I've listened to my parents read my favorite Bible story. Mary, whose world was turned upside down but who took it gracefully. Joseph, who stayed beside her and trusted God's plan. Jesus, that innocent baby who was born just to sacrifice His life to save us from our sins. A magic of its own kind.

So it doesn't matter where I hear the word or who says it. Whether it's on a Rankin Bass special about a long-eared donkey...


...or The Nativity Story...



... or one of my favorite Christmas songs...



Bethlehem is magical. And I hope you can feel the same magic I do.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem... (Luke 2:4)

Thursday, December 20, 2018

A Review of Karen Kingsbury's/Hallmark's THE BRIDGE

Wow, you guys. It's almost Christmas. I can't believe how fast this holiday season has gone by. I feel like Thanksgiving was just last week and now here we are with Christmas next week!

Anyway, today I'm sharing with you guys about one of my new favorite Christmas stories-- The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury. (I'm going to be talking about the book and the movie.)

Last year I watched the two-part movie for the first time and really liked it. I remember really liking the actors (especially Katie Findlay) and of course I loved that it was about a bookstore. So this year I finally read the book and I loved it.

I'm going to be reviewing both the book and the movie and comparing them. I'll try to keep spoilers to a minimum (or at least warn you before I give any, ha).


THE BOOK

This book tells the story of Charlie and Donna Barton, a very special couple who runs a very special bookstore in Franklin, Tennessee: The Bridge. Here, people find not only book recommendations but loving advice and friendship.

Molly Allen and Ryan Kelly are music students who have an unusually special connection, and the Bridge plays a big part in bringing them together. But due to misunderstanding and deception, Molly and Ryan are torn apart. They go their separate ways and pursue their dreams.

Now, seven years later back in Franklin, things are going downhill fast for Charlie and Donna. The Bridge was hit by a flood and all the books were destroyed. Now the Bartons, already struggling financially, have to face the possibility of losing their beloved bookstore too. What's more, Charlie is in an accident and lands in the hospital. 


Ryan, having just come off the road, hears about the hard times the Bartons are going through and is determined to help. He encourages people to pray for Charlie and to donate books to restock the bookstore. Across the country, Molly hears about everything that's going on in Tennessee and can't help but go back.

Needless to say, she and Ryan reunite. And I'll stop there so I don't give anything else away.

I guess I was a little surprised with how much I liked this book. Partly because I really haven't read a lot of Karen Kingbury's books at all, and I don't usually read much in the romance genre. Or maybe because I always feel like when I watch a movie adaptation first, I won't enjoy the book the same way I would have if it was the way I first experienced the story. But I almost like the book even more.(More on why later.)

I just love the two couples in this book. Charlie and Donna are such good people, opening their bookstore up to everybody and treating them and thinking of them like family. And Molly and Ryan... they just have one of those relationships where, even though they're fictional people, you root for them and just hate to see them separate. They care so much about each other that they do what they think is best for the other person even though it means heartache for themselves.
The book nerd in me also loves how they connect over a book. Even though I've never read Jane Eyre, I love the quote "I would do anything for you, sir. Anything that was right" and how it was used in the story.

And the way this book ends, the way everything wraps up, is just so heartwarming and fulfilling. So much love and generosity and Christmas spirit and it's just so sweet. 


THE MOVIE

Like I said, I saw the movie before the book and loved it. The main storyline is the same, but there are some details that were changed for the movie. For example, Molly and Ryan are 25 instead of 29-ish, and they knew each other in college for two months as opposed to two years in the book. When they reunite Ryan's life is basically the same as it was in the book; he's been touring, playing for different people, but (mild spoilers ahead) Molly's is pretty different. In the book her father has died and she is running an animal shelter, and also playing in a symphony. In the movie her father is still alive and Molly is working for him, about to take over as CEO of the company, and dating Preston, the guy who she's been expected to marry basically her whole life.

I liked this part better in the book, because even after Ryan and Molly parted ways, they were still encouraged by one another to follow their dreams and make the decisions that were best for them and other people in the long run. It's just kind of sad in the movie to see Molly, mostly, having given in to her father's plans for her even when she knows that's not what she really wants.

But, like I said, basically everything else story-wise is the same. The heartwarming ending happens almost exactly the same way and is just as heartwarming.

The movie was released in two parts (which infuriated everybody who watched the first part in 2015 and didn't realize that they wouldn't get to see the next part until next Christmas), and I actually like that. There have been other movies that were made into more than one part and it was just unnecessary. But in this case, I felt like it was actually a really good move. Like I said, I love Ryan and Molly's relationship, and I think we needed that extra screen time to see them meet and have plenty of time to connect. In the book their entire relationship happened in flashbacks, which worked, but I love being able to experience it in the movie in "real time", if you will. At no time in the movie did it feel like they were just trying to fill up time because they made it into two parts. 


Another thing I loved about the movie, which I've already mentioned, was the actors. I think Wyatt Nash and Katie Findlay had really good chemistry, which is necessary because of the connection Molly and Ryan have. And Faith Ford and Ted McGinley totally fill the parent-like, loving roles of Charlie and Donna. Except for the fact that Molly and Ryan are younger and a little different in physical appearance, I can completely picture the actors from the movie in their respective roles when I read the book.

So, I guess when it comes right down to it, the book and the movie are pretty even for me. Both have their advantages, and regardless of whatever differences there might have been, I love the story. If you enjoy Christmas romances/inspirational stories, you should check it out. (... that felt like a school report. Sorry.)

Thanks so much for reading! I feel like this review was kind of allll over the place but I hope you enjoyed it. And I hope you all are having a fantastic holiday season! We're so close to Christmas-- everybody squeeze the last little bit of Christmas joy out of these next few days.

Have you read or watched The Bridge? What are some of your favorite Christmas stories (books or movies)? How has your Christmas season been? Any special plans? (I know that was a lot of questions, but hey, I love Christmas, so let's chat!)


Also, stay tuned for my special Christmas post on Christmas Eve!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Know the Novel Part 3!

Hi guys! Today I'm doing the third part of Christine's Know the Novel linkup. Although I didn't do the second part, I've had fun with parts one and three and I'm so glad I've gotten to participate!

Sooo, here we go!



1. Firstly, how did writing this novel go all around?
The writing this NaNo went better than it ever has before. Which is funny because I was still behind the entire time (oops), but I was still writing consistently and the story was going pretty smoothly. (Minimal stopping and panic-planning.) And although I haven't actually finished this novel yet, I still have a good feeling about the rest of it.


2. Did it turn out like you expected or completely different? And how do you feel about the outcome?
Pretty close to how I expected! It really hasn't veered off from how I imagined it at all, which is kind of nice because I was able to stick to my (vague) plan. I think it turned out pretty well so far.


3. What aspect of the story did you love writing about the most? (Characters, plot, setting, prose, etc.)
I loved writing a character who has such a turnaround from when you first meet him. Archlan has to learn and go through so much and helping him make the right decisions and figure out what's really important.


4. How about your least favorite part?
All those parts where the characters are just TRAVELING and there really isn't that much to say. I'm not Tolkien, guys. I can't get away with narrating every step they take.


5. What do you feel like needs the most work?
Besides the overall yuckiness of first-draft syndrome? Probably the length. I know I should be focusing more on the just telling the story than just making it longer, but my books tend to come out a lot shorter than I'd like them to be.


6. How do you feel about your characters now that the novel is done? Who’s your favorite? Least favorite? Anyone surprise you? Give us all the details!
Well, like I said, it's not done done, and there aren't really a whole lot of characters to choose from. So I would have to say that Archlan is my favorite, with Quinard coming in a close second. They became such good friends so fast and Quinard came in at just the right time, when Archlan really needed someone to be there for him. As for least favorite, it would have to be Rian, Archlan's girlfriend. She pretends to love him and maybe she does have some kind of feelings for him, but her band of thieves and basically everything else come before Archlan and she's just really not that great of a girlfriend. Or person.


7. What’s your next plan of action with this novel?
Finish it, first. Ha. Then I'm not sure if I'll start editing (just because I'm so stoked about how this novel went) in January, or put it on the back burner for a little while and work on something else. (I'm missing my other babies.)


8. If you could have your greatest dream realized for this novel, what would it be?
To see it get published and eventually made into a movie that makes people cry.


9. Share a snippet of one of your most favorite scenes! Well, it's pretty atrocious (remember first-draft syndrome?), but here's a short snippet from right after Archlan and Quinard met:

With frustration he let out a cry, and all the trees around him began to tremble as if a great wind had just blown through. They lifted their roots out of the ground, not moving from their spots but merely shifting their positions. The ground around Archlan and Hil shook as if an earthquake were touching everything but them.
 After releasing his frustration and emotions for a minute, Archlan took a deep breath, and all the trees grew calm again. There was a minor upset in the soil, but nothing too tragic. He looked around, took another deep breath, and was about to ride on.
 But he jumped when a voice cut through the silence. "Ho there, friend Archlan!"
 Archlan looked in alarm toward the direction the voice came from. There, riding toward him, was Quinard, looking a bit confused and quite awestruck. "What was that that just happened, pray tell?"


10. Did you glean any new writing and/or life lessons from writing this novel? Honestly, I think it would just be that the more I write, the better I'll get.

Well, there it is! Thanks so much to Christine for making this fun linkup and I hope we get to do it next year! ;)

And thanks for reading! Stay tuned, because I'm planning some Christmas posts I'm excited about!

Did you participate in Know the Novel this NaNo/year? Or any other linkups? Let's chat!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

5 Things NaNoWriMo 2018 Taught Me

Hey guys!

Soo, we made it. NaNoWriMo is finally over and we can go back to our (mostly) normal lives. That may still include writing, but it might NOT include obsessive pounding on the keyboard to get your word count for the day and/or trying to catch up because of all the days you fell behind. (Or was that just me?)

Today I'm going to be sharing four things that NaNoWriMo taught me this year, or simply reminded me of. This was simultaneously the toughest and best NaNo I've ever had, and I feel like I grew a lot as a writer this November.

Soo without further ado (what does that even mean?): 


(This is my first banner! Needs some work, but it's not bad.)

#1 I NEED TO WORK ON MY PLOTTING SKILLS

I'm a pantser. And that showed when I went into this novel with a general idea of what was going to happen, but not a lot of information on some of the details. I didn't write bios about each of my characters; I just got to know them as I wrote them. I even made up a character mid-story. I formulated events that were never in my original plans (and, frankly, I didn't know if they were going to stick-- gotta get to that word count somehow) but actually seemed to kind of work.

And all that's okay, to a degree. And maybe for some people it's just plain okay. But for me, it just doesn't always work anymore. Like always, I didn't have a perfect outline for this story, therefore there was a lot of the in-between story that I wasn't sure about.

I always try to plan my novels, I really do. But the truth is, the last four novels I've started have been for NaNo and I've started planning them way too late, therefore I run out of time and greet November 1 with a minimally planned story.

And you know what? I never won a NaNo (until this year). So I feel something has to change. Next NaNo (and with any new novel I write) I'm going to start a lot earlier, planning and outlining. I'm terrible at outlining. But I'm going to work on that and other ways to plan a story, because I knew what needed to happen in this story better than I think I ever had before and it was a lot easier to write that way. I don't think I'll ever be a hardcore plotter-- maybe "plantser" is the right word for me.

(By the way, I don't mean to imply that if you don't win NaNoWriMo, that means you're a failure and need to change the way you write. I'm just talking about ME and what held me back personally from winning.)

#2 THE FIRST DRAFT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE PERFECT

Obviously we all know this. For me, first draft = messy writing. Bad jokes and awkward sentence structure. First drafts are just about getting the story down on the page.

But I'm mostly referring here to the actual story. If you're like me, sometimes you run into a place in your story where you're not sure what should happen next. So you completely MAKE SOMETHING UP that may or may not actually have any bearing on the story.

I'm not talking about completely changing the direction of your story (having your MC suddenly get the notion to start an animal rescue while he's supposed to be saving the world from Evil Villain is probably just a plain old waste of time). I'm talking about coming to a point where you don't know how to get from point A to point B so you create a possible bridge between those two events. I do this all the time. And I don't always keep what I write.

It might sound like a waste of time, but I don't think it is. First of all, speaking in NaNo terms, it gives you something to write/get your word count in. Second, it helps you move along with your story without stopping and getting stuck on one thing. Third, every word you write is like exercise for your writerly self. The more you write, the better you'll get at it, even if you don't use everything you initially put in your story. And lastly, it helps you explore different ideas for your story and come up with the right one. You might have heard the term "discovery writer". I think that's what this means-- instead of planning out every detail, you have to just write and discover your story.

Long story short, I think it's okay to write parts of your story that you might know for a fact are not going to stick, because it keeps you going, helps you decide what's best for your story, and you can always change it later.

#3 WORD SPRINTS ARE THE BEST

Y'all, word sprints SAVED me this NaNoWriMo.

Seriously, if it wasn't for those ten-minute spurts when I FORCED myself to keep from scrolling through the Internet and agonizing over the fact that I was so behind on my word count, I don't know what I would have done. Distractions are SUCH an issue, and word sprints helped me to shove those distractions to the back of my mind and not let them come back until that timer went off.

Plus whenever I finished a word sprint I rewarded myself with chocolate, so. That made it even better.

#4 I LOVE WRITING

We all knew this, right?

But seriously, this NaNo helped me remember how much I love to write and how special and important it is to me. It reminded me that I want to finish this story and all my other stories and see them on bookshelves one day. In a year where I've done very little writing, it rejuvenated my love for it.

#5 I CAN WRITE 50k IN A MONTH

Lastly, this NaNo taught me that I CAN win NaNoWriMo!

In my last post I told you guys how I won my first NaNo, on my fourth year of trying. Remember how I said earlier in this post how I got stuck and that kept me from winning? That happened EVERY time. By the third one, you can imagine I was getting pretty discouraged. Not because I couldn't finish NaNo, but because I couldn't finish my stories. Getting stuck is the worst, y'all.
But this year it rolled so much better. And while I haven't finished my novel yet, I made it to 50k. I carved out the time every day to write and I caught up at the end of it all just in time to win NaNoWriMo.

And it was fantastic.

This NaNoWriMo was so great. I already can't wait for next year (and I'm going to be better prepared ;))! And I'm ready to keep writing. I'm still excited about this year's NaNo novel Roots to Claim, and I'm hoping to finish it this month. With all the craziness of Christmas, we'll see. But that's my hope! I can't wait to finish writing Archlan's story.

Well, that's it for today! I hope you all had a great NaNoWriMo and for those who didn't participate, a great November! Here's to December!