Monday, December 29, 2014

2015 Fortunate

Is 2015 really only a few days away? Where did 2014 go? There's something about getting older which makes time go faster I think.

I wish there was more I could say about 2014. It was pretty uneventful to be honest. Which I think is good sometimes. I think this year I needed it to be uneventful so I could relax and recover.

But now it's time to get off my butt and get moving again! I don't do relaxation very well for long.

I'm having a hard time thinking about what's to come in 2015 though. Heck, I can't even think of movies and books coming out this upcoming year I'm looking forward to! Which makes it hard for me to dream up of things I think will happen in this upcoming year. In my experience, you never know what will happen. Life throws so many curveballs at you - how can you predict what will happen?

Well... I'm sure some things will happen.

Babies will be born. People will get married. People will go to funerals. Celebrities will make mistakes and shock us all. Somewhere in the world there will be political and social unrest... Sometimes even a little too close to home. A big summer blockbuster will hit movie theaters and a pop song will get stuck in everyone's head to the point where we want to punch something but still jam out to it when we think no one is looking. Sports teams will win and they will lose. Cat YouTube videos will go viral.

Our world is pretty predictable once you think about it actually.

Unless the apocalypse comes of course.

But let's not go there.

Maybe there are some things I can predict, or at least hope for, in 2015.

Facing new challenges and choices. As it has been for the last year, I have a feeling my hunt for a full time job will continue through 2014. With that, I'll meet new people, have a different schedule, learn new things, and discover more about myself while also learning how to balance a new job with the other goals and dreams I have. How do you balance trying to write and participate in theatre and pursuing dreams while also still attempting to pay bills and get rid of those awful student loans?

Joining new theatre groups. There are a few shows I have my eye on in 2015 I'm hoping to audition for. I'm excited to jump back into community theatre and try my hand at new roles and groups.

Writing stories. I'm sure I'll be participating in NaNoWriMo once again in 2015 and one of my big goals is to make writing a priority. A draft will be completed. Thanks to some wonderful writing friends who are helping me out, I have a feeling this prediction could come true.

I'll continue to still be me and learning who that is. You'd think after a certain point in time you'd know for sure who you are. But I'm learning that once I figure it out, I change again. My views are constantly being challenged. My opinions change. My place in the world adjusts and I with it. Who I am at my core remains the same, but everything branching off it seems to constantly evolve.

There's no possible way we can truly predict the future. Life changes in an instant and we never know what it'll throw at us. But still, in a way there are things we can always depend on, and we can always
hope. Which I think is part of what celebrating the new year is all about.

Hope. Hope in knowing the past is gone and something else is coming. That there's always second chances, and we can always begin again.

Mr. Thomas & Me

What are your predictions for 2015?

And looking for Music Monday? Well... We've talked it over and we have decided to end music Monday. It was a fun idea at first, but have decided to have it end. Thank you to those who participated! We loved having you! 

I will leave you with one last song though. One of my holiday favorites and perfect for New Year.

Friday, December 26, 2014

2014 Book Wrap Up

And another Christmas has come and gone. The gifts are unwrapped, the feast was eaten, the movies watched, and the carols sung. Technically, yesterday was only the start of the 12 days of Christmas. Today is two turtle doves. Tomorrow I'm going to Indiana to see my family and have another small Christmas gathering. So, at least there's that. But, the day after Christmas I can't help but feel a small loss at how quickly the season passed.

Now, we move onto looking toward 2015. Which means... it's time for me to look back at all of the books I read in 2014! It's End of Year Book Wrap Up Time!

Last year I tried to make this a link up - but I failed horribly and something got all messed up with the link stuff. Boo. Besides, a lot of bloggers I follow have already done their book wrap ups for the year. However, if you haven't done one yet, feel free to use my questions and let me know in the comments if you posted your answers on your blog! I'd love to read them!

I was also going to make this as a video. But, after making videos for 25 days straight I just don't have the heart to do it. Maybe in a couple of days I'll post a video to YouTube.

Anyways. Onto the wrap up!

And if you aren't much of a reader - feel free to adapt this survey for movies, TV shows, music, etc.

1) How many books have you read this year?

My goal for 2014 was to read 60 books and I read 72!!!!!! 


That's just crazy.

2) What book surprised you the most?

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. I had heard from a lot of people this book was amazing. That it was SO GOOD! But I didn't know anything about it. I couldn't find out what the heck this book was about! The only thing I kept hearing was how amazing it was. So... I picked it up from the library with my doubts.



And I'm going to do to you what everyone else did to me and not tell you anything about it.

Just... trust me on this one. Part of the amazingness of this book is the fact you don't know anything. I ended up finishing half of this book all at once and staying up far too late one night until I got to the end and sat up in my bed all "OMG WHAT DID I JUST READ?"

It's fabulous. Trust me.

3) What book were you the most disappointed in?

The Vanishing Act by Mette Jakobsen. One of my favorite authors, Erin Morgenstern, had reviewed this book on her blog and had a quote about it on the cover. I've never seen her put any reviews on her blog ever and this was one GLOWING. Naturally, I had to pick it up.


So diaspointing. The writing style was very sweet, mysterious, and lyrical. It made sense why Erin Morgenstern liked it because it slightly reminded me of her. The characters were also very sweet.

But nothing happened. I kept waiting for something to happen - and it never did.

4) Did you start any new series?

Naturally! What's a year of reading 72 books without starting up any new series?

The Maze Runner series by James Dashner*
The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher*
The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences by Pip Ballentine and Tee Morris*
Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas*
Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy Laini Taylor*
Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews
Lux by Jennifer L Armentraut*
Magnificent Devices by Shelly Adina
Queen Elinor of Aquitaine Trilogy by Elizabeth Chadwick*
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
French Twist by Sandra Byrd
The Maledection Trilogy by Danielle L Jenson
Finishing School by Gail Carriger
Miss Peregine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Allie's War by JC Andrijeski
V by Joanna Wiebe
Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess

* = favorites

5) Did you finish any series?

But of course! Some of them I had even started and completed in 2014.

His Fair Assassin Trilogy by Robin LaFevers
Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy by Laini Taylor
Anna and the French Kiss Trilogy by Stephanie Perkins
The Maze Runner series by James Dashner
The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

6) What was your favorite book cover this year?

I wasn't completely blown away by book covers this year. There were some good ones, but not a whole lot where I looked at them and was like "wow - that's gorgeous." That being said, I do love the cover of the book I'm reading now, Winterspell by Claire Legrand. The picture below doesn't do it justice. It's all shiny and wintery. Then, the actual cover cover (not just the book jacket) is this beautiful winter white with ice blue lettering. So pretty!


7) What was the best non-fiction book you read?

I only read three non-fiction books this year and all were so different from each other, but also so fantastic. Never Have I Ever... My Life So Far Without a Date  by Katie Heaney, Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo, and Choose Your Own Autobiography  by Neil Patrick Harris. All three were so fantastic!

Never Have I Ever was hilarious and so relateable. I swear, the author of this book has been stalking me because our love lives (or in our cases... non existent love lives) are basically the same thing. Right down to being in Jr. High loving JTT but dumping him for Justin Timberlake when NSYNC rolled around.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers is a book chronicling the lives of people in a slum of India. If you have a passion for learning about the world, social justice, and wanting to truly help people, you need to read this book. It's so eye opening and truly reveals what it's really like for the people in these areas and gives you a better understanding of the corruption and how complicated things truly are.

Choose Your Own Autobiography was hilarious. I loved the fake endings NPH would have for different parts of his life, and learning about who he is and how he got to be where he is now. But he also includes photos (or audio clips of him as a kid and such if you have the audio book), recipes, and magic tricks!

8) What are you currently reading?

Right now I'm working on Winter Spell by ... and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I'm also working on re-reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green for my Facebook book club!

9) Any reading goals for 2015?

I'm going to shoot for 70. I know I read 72 this year, but I also know my schedule changes like crazy and if I get another job in 2015 it'll change again. So I want to keep up with what I've already done.

I also found this reading challenge on Pinterest for 2015 and I think it would be fun to tackle it!

2015 Reading Challenge

10) What books are you looking forward to in 2014?

I honestly don't know. I looked up books being released in 2014 and there weren't a whole lot I was really excited about. But I am OUTRAGEOUSLY excited for Winter and Fairest by Marissa Meyer. It's the conclusion of The Lunar Chronicles and they are so good! I can't wait to see how it turns out!

11) What books deserve a shout out?

These are all of the books on Goodreads I gave five stars to and haven't mentioned yet that I just had to share because they're all so wonderful!

The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Series by Pip Ballentine and Tee Morris
AD 30 by Ted Dekker
We Were Liars by E Lockhart
The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick
The Giver by Lowis Lowry
City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Cress by Marissa Meyer

12) Your top 5 books of 2014. 

Gah! Why is this always so hard? I had to expand it to five books this year because I kept changing my mind and couldn't narrow it down to only five. Even now I'm looking back at other books all "But that one was so good too!" But I can't go beyond five books because then I'll just never stop!

How I Paid for College by Marc Acito


If you've been around these parts for awhile you know I've been talking about this book all year. It's just so hilarious and fun and clever. The main character, Edward Zanini is basically if Ferris Bueller and Rachel Berry got together and had a love child. JUST IMAGINE THAT.

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers


This really is a shout out for the entire His Fair Assassin Trilogy but this really was the perfect conclusion to the trilogy. I found I could relate to Annith the most out of all of the girls and I loved her journey.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell


As always, Rainbow Rowell's stories are so stinking cute! This was her first novel before she got crazy popular and I swear it is one of my favorites by her. The best way I can describe it is Sleepless in Seattle BUT CUTER and less creepy, but then add some quarter life crisis and self discovery in there. I loved it! 

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare


Dare I say it? I enjoyed The Infernal Devices more than The Mortal Instruments. Not that I don't like TMI, I do. But I feel like this spin off trilogy was so much more well done. It's also what got me interested in TMI in the first place because I had seen these books on the shelves but when I saw they were prequels to another series I decided to hold off until I was caught up. So good! This was a fantastic conclusion and one of my favorite parts of City of Heavenly Fire was seeing the characters from this trilogy pop up. 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy by Laini Taylor


I read the whole trilogy this year and there was no way I could only pick one. It's so unique and beautifully written and there's these wonderful and fantastic characters and creatures and world... it's beautiful. I can't say much at all without spoiling things because letting it all unfold is part of what's so awesome about this trilogy. So all I can say is you need to go read it if you haven't yet.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Christmas Card from Bandit and Me

On one of the the bookshelves in my room I have on display all of the Christmas cards I've received during the season. Friends from college. Friends from the Internet. Friends from Missouri. All with pictures and stories and well wishes for the Christmas season inside of them. When I look at them I love to see their smiling faces back at me and it's nice to know they are thinking of me.

Then I feel a little guilty because another year has gone by and I haven't sent out any Christmas cards to my friends I've made over the years.

"I'm not married or have babies!" I tell myself. "They don't need a card from me!"

But let's be honest - it's just another way I fail at this whole adult thing. And that's what a blog is for. Right? Right.

Well... at least for this year.

So, since I didn't send out official Christmas cards this year. Here is your virtual one from Bandit and me. Because having a dog is the same thing as having a kid. Right? Right.

This year was a year of change for Bandit and I. At the end of 2013 we moved back to Chicago, just in time for Christmas, and started over. When I moved I didn't even have a job lined up yet, even though I had been applying and interviewing.

Then, sure enough, a friend of mine called saying she had been offered a full time nursing position and was leaving the preschool aid job she was working and was wondering if I would like to step in. Of course I would! A job is a job, and I'm good with kids.

With that, as the second half of the 2013/2014 school year rolled around I started work with the preschool and have been there ever since.

Since then I also started working at an elementary school for their after school care, and now over the holidays I've begun working at a company downtown as a work from home customer service representative. Which basically means I answer phones. I also have tried to dip my toes into some freelance writing, but haven't had the time to really dive in head first yet.

To be honest, on the job front things aren't what I thought they would be at this point. But I'm learning patience, trust, and going with the flow. I'm still working on trying to find one full time job, but for the time being this is working for the most part.

The biggest focus of my year was my sisters wedding. Natalie is outrageously happy in newly wedded bliss. Planning for the wedding was fun - but stressful at times. Overall though, the wedding was a wonderful day.

Bandit has adjusted well to Chicago life. Although, the harsh winter of 2014 was a bit of a shock to my poor Missouri dog! Most of the time I had to let him out in the garage because it was too cold or I had to put him in a little doggie coat so he wouldn't freeze outside. He and my mom's dog Indy play together all of the time and he's had to learn how to share his toys. Bandit has also had to adjust to life with the cat, Peanut. That is probably his only complaint about living here in Chicago now. He and Peanut do not get along at all. I was hoping by now he would have permitted her to come upstairs from the basement and explore during the day while he's awake. But alas, that hasn't happened yet. Here's hoping for 2015!

Mom and Dad are doing well. Mom was even busier than I was with wedding plans. She did so much work! But she also did a wonderful job. I think both Mom and Dad are glad it's over though because now they can relax a bit more. I will say, being back at home with them has it's perks. It's nice being able to spend so much time with them... and I don't have to cook for myself as often. ;-)

2014 has been full of change, but it's also been quiet. I think this was my year to rest and recoup from all of the crazy of 2013 and the big choices I made and all of the stress of ministry. While I'm not one for resting too much - I think it was good for me.

Now, it's Christmas Eve. A whole year since I moved back to Chicago. Crazy, isn't it? I've loved being back up here. I've been able to reconnect with old friends while still keeping in touch with those in Missouri (as well as I can... but I know I can do better). I love being able to go downtown again and see the city and go to shows and explore. I even have gotten used to driving around downtown Chicago if you can believe it. Not that it's my first choice or anything...

Some things haven't changed though. Jesus. My family. My friends. Love. The things that matter have stuck around even with all of the change in my life the last couple of years, so overall I think 2014 has been a good one.

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all spend the holiday with those you love the most and enjoy the season.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. - John 1:14

"Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great job for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you:  You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." - Luke 2:10-12

"Love is raining down on the world tonight, there's a presence here I can tell. God is in us. God is for us. God is with us Emmanuel." - God With Us by Casting Crowns

Monday, December 22, 2014

Believe God is With Us

Christmas week is finally here! I don't know about you, but I'm stinking excited. Maybe it's because I'm on Christmas break from the preschool so I get to sleep in for the next couple of weeks. (Even though I still have my other CS job. Oh well.) But I'm excited for Christmas too. I did a ton of gift wrapping over the weekend and I'll be tying up some lose ends in the next couple of days. But overall, I'm more excited to be able to relax at home, see my family, cuddle with Bandit, and enjoy the season.

I also will be (trying) to post something up later this week. I think Bandit and I will do a little blog "Christmas Card." (If I say I"m going to do it here, publicly, I think there's more motivation for me to actually do it! Haha.) But I have been successful in posting a video everyday on YouTube - so it's not like I've been slacking in the social media creativity department!

In the meantime - it's Music Monday! The other day as I was driving around this song popped up on my iPod and just... it always makes me want to cry and gets me in the Christmas spirit. Apparently, in my world crying and Christmas go together.

I blame it on the mean customers who call me working my customer service job.

But these are happy tears - so I guess that's irrelevant.

Anyways. I'm actually going to post two songs because - ITS CHRISTMS AND YOU CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH CHRISTMAS SONG! I post them at least once a year on this blog... but they're so just so good.

The first one is "Believe" by Josh Groban. He sang it for the movie The Polar Express.

The next one is "God is With Us" by Casting Crowns. I feel like this song fits Christmas so well and my pastor was talking about God/Love coming down at Christmas yesterday during his sermon and it made me think of this song.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Petition for a Simple Christmas

I’m sitting here on the couch with my laptop searching my brain for something to write about for Christmas. This one of my favorite times of year. I love the weeks leading up to Christmas with Advent and counting down the days. I love putting up the tree and even sometimes braving the crowded shopping malls to try and find the perfect gifts for my family and friends. Yet, for once, I have no idea what to write about.
Then, as I’m trying to think of what to write about, Merry Christmas Charlie Brown is palying on my TV. So, I’m turning my attention to Charlie Brown. This little “blockhead” has been part of my life for almost as long as I can remember. My dad read the comic every single day in the newspaper and we love to give him little books and other reminders of the Peanuts gang. Naturally, Charlie Brown has always been part of my Christmas.
Want to read more? I'm blogging over at Lazy Happy Bored Happy Sad... today! Click here to read my guest post. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Proud of Your Boy

It's Music Monday!

So, I was going to share my favorite Christmas songs each week through December because there are just so many that I love. However... last night my pretend celebrity husband, Darren Criss, sang on the 20 Years of Disney on Broadway, and it was fantastic.

He sang "Proud of Your Boy" from Aladdin and it was so good! I'm obsessed! It's such a great song and I feel like he did a wonderful job. It's a perfect fit for his voice.

Besides... Darren Criss hasn't popped up on here in awhile and I feel like it wouldn't be me if he wasn't here today.

What music have you been listening to lately?

Also, I know I haven't been posting on here lately, but I have been doing Vlogmas on YouTube every single day. So, if you want to see what I've been up to and what I've been thinking about click here and you can watch the playlist of videos I've been working on this month.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Questions Questions Questions

Not too long ago I was tagged in the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award by my friend Kirsti! So, I figured... why not join in on the fun? Thanks so much Kirsti!

1. Thank the blogger that nominated you and link back to their website.
2. Post the award’s logo on your blog.
3. Answer the ten questions you have been asked.
4. Nominator ten other bloggers and ask them ten other questions.

Then, I give myself the following rule with questions like these: I can't answer anything with Harry Potter. Because obviously I could probably find a Harry Potter answer for each one.

Your questions are as follows:

1. What's your favourite Harry Potter book? (Come on, everyone has one)

Okay... this one is the exception to my rule because it's actually about Harry Potter.

UGH I have to choose just ONE?????? There are a few it could be. I love Goblet of Fire with the tournament, Harry and his friends transitioning more into being teenagers and the books start to become more mature, it's the changing point of the whole series, Cedric Diggory is in it, Draco turns into a ferret... what's not to love?

Then I also love Half Blood Prince. It was the perfect mixture of being hilarious but also serious and sad. We learn so much about Voldemort and his past and we learn about horcruxes and all of the things with Snape! But there's also all of the stupid high school relationship drama which cracks me up and I can't stop laughing.

But I have a tender spot for Deathly Hallows too because it's the end! I love how it all wrapped up and the epic conclusion - even the epilogue! I know... it's a controversial stance to have, but I LOVE THE EPILOGUE AND I DON'T CARE WHO KNOWS IT!

2. What's the book/series that everyone raves about but you just didn't get?

The first one that came to my mind was Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. Don't get me wrong - I like the book. But everyone seems to have this one as their absolute favorite by her and it's my least favorite. I think a big part of it was that I was expecting something really fun and light and it definitely wasn't... but I enjoyed her other books much more.

3. Which real world places do you want to visit because of a book?

London. Paris. Although I think I already wanted to go to said places but reading books just made me want to even more. 

4. What bookish merchandise are you dying to get your hands on?

Well... I really need a new bookshelf. I've been able to rearrange my shelves a few times and at the moment my books are fitting. But I know it won't last much longer.

5. What's your most anticipated book of 2015?

It's a toss between Winter and Fairest. But they're part of the same series... so it's hard to pick which one I want more. In Fairest, it'll be so fascinating to learn more about the queen. But Winter is the conclusion of The Lunar Chronicles and it's Snow White! Snow White is my favorite fairy tale!

6. Which book character do you wish you could be best friends with?

I would love to be friends with Edward Zanni from How I Paid for College by Marc Acito. He's hilarious and we would have epic musical theatre duets.

7. What's the last book you gave five stars to?

Oh! I just finished Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers. It's the third book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy and it was completely perfect. 

8. Which secondary character do you wish would get their own book?

ZUZANA from Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. She's the actual best ever and I love her and her boyfriend so much!

9. Which author, alive or dead, do you wish you could meet in person?

Rainbow Rowell. From what I can tell from her Twitter account, she and I would be really good friends.

10. How many books do you own?

I actually kinda know the answer to this one because I'm a nerd like that and keep a record of all of the books I own. Yeah... I'm  a nerd. As of my last inventory I own 375 books. That's not including the ones down in boxes in my basement that I never unpacked. Those are mainly the youth ministry type books which were in my office back in Missouri.

Now, it's my turn to tag people and ask them questions! My questions are...

1) What is one of the most underrated books/series you've ever read?
2) What's your favorite holiday story?
3) If your pet wrote a story about the holidays, what do you think it would be about? If you don't have a pet, pick your favorite animal.
4) Tell me about your favorite classic story/book/movie.
5) What are you looking forward to in 2015?
6) What's your favorite holiday dessert? (Can you tell I'm in a holiday mood?)
7) Which fictional character do you think you are the most like?
8) What is your latest Netflix binge?
9) Who are your favorite YouTubers? If you don't watch much YouTube, share bloggers, Tweeters, Instagramers, etc.
10) What's your current background on your laptop/tablet/cell phone?

And I tag... (Even though I know most of them probably won't do it... but I don't care!)

Amber of Mr. Thomas and Me
Dana of Princess Burlap
Angie of Sailor July
Michelle of Wide Open Spaces
Brittany of Stories, Songs, and Praise
Amanda of Musical Poem
Anne of GeekBrarian

Okay... that's all I got. I know I'm supposed to do ten, but oh well.

Also, I've been awful about keeping you all updated on my YouTube channel and my doing Vlogmas. Here's the whole playlist of what I have done so far!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Just Believe

There's something about Christmas at brings out our innocence and naïveté isn't there? Suddenly we want to play with toys, listen to kids stories, watch cheesy cartoons on TV. It brings it out in us.

It's why I love the song "Believe" by Josh Groban from the Polar Express soundtrack. We for some reason as we get older let that go away. We stop believing. We stop playing. We need to be adult and do adult things! But Christmas... We find our way back.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

7 Lessons I Learned During NaNoWriMo

In case you haven't been keeping up via my blog, Facebook, or Twitter, I had a rough go of it this time around for NaNoWriMo.

This was the hardest year I've had yet. That's including the years where I had randomly stopped writing for a week or two at a time. Which means it was ridiculously hard. It frustrated me to no end. I loved this story idea! There was so much potential! But by the last half of the month I felt like I was pulling teeth to try and get words onto the page. Granted, I had a lot of adjustments I had to make for NaNoWriMo this year.

- Instead of living in Missouri in my own apartment, I was living at home. This definitely changed up the dynamic of my writing process!
- I didn't have a whole lot of writing buddies. I fully intended to go to write ups, but nothing ever worked with my schedule. Then my other writing buddies lived far away. We were able to do some chatting about our stories, but it wasn't the same as being in the same room.
- I started a new job in the middle of the month. This took up a lot of my writing time I had at the beginning of the month and put on some extra stress that distracted me from writing.

However, in spite of all of this, I still ended November with 50,115 words. Not my best number by any means. But I still got 50,000 words and that's what counts!

I still learned a lot about myself and my writing though through this process - even if it was painful at times.

1) All authors go through times when they hate their writing. The pep talks from the NaNoWriMo site by published authors just confirmed that. It's totally normal to sit there and think "This story is awful. My writing is awful. Everything is awful. I should just quit right now." But they get through it and keep going.

2) You can't edit what's not written. That really is part of the point of NaNoWriMo. Yes, your story might be terrible - but you can't edit it and make it better unless you have something written down. I had several friends via text and Twitter tell me to keep going and that it's okay to have an awful rough draft. That's what a rough draft is.

3) The vision I had for my story wasn't a novel - it was a stage production. If I decide to keep going with this story, it's going to need to be in a stage format. This is completely terrifying and some major adjusting will have to be done. But I really do think it would be better on stage than in a novel.

4) Planning is my friend. Part of my issue was that I hadn't thought it out well enough. I knew this going into November but decided to push through anyway. Some people are amazing at being able to "pants" their way through a story. I can to an extent - but I love my outlines! I need my outlines to at least give me a guideline of where I need to go.

5) Write with the ending in mind. This kind of goes with what I said before about planning. I really didn't know much about how my story was going to end. Sometimes this is okay, but I usually need an idea so I know where I'm going. I didn't know where my story was going so it floundered.

6) Being behind is a lot harder than I realized. So many times I try to encourage people even when they think they have no hope of winning. Or I cheer them on when they don't get the word count by the end of the month. When I got to points when I wasn't sure I was going to get to 50k, I realized that some of my encouragements in the past were really lame. Not doing well during NaNoWriMo sucks. Yes, you're still a "winner" just by getting words on the page. It's still awesome and an accomplishment, but it sucks to not know if you'll make it or not.

7) Fantasy and paranormal is my fiction "sweet spot." I can do realistic fiction, and that's great. But fantasy and paranormal is where I really get into it. It is my favorite genre and I missed it SO MUCH during November. I can't wait to get back to my project from last year and get that all polished and wonderful because I missed those characters and that story like WOAH.

How did you all do during NaNoWriMo? What did you learn this past month?

Also - here's my video for the day!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I Feel it in My Fingers

Today for Vlogmas, the topic is our favorite holiday movie. I can never choose my favorite because it's between Love Actually and The Muppet Christmas Carol. They're both so different- but so awesome!

Tell me about your favorite holiday movies!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Baby It's Cold Outside

It's Music Monday - and today we're talking about our favorite holiday songs!

Which... let's face it... I'll probably do holiday songs every week this month.

Today I'm sharing with you Idina Menzel and Micheal Buble's version of "Baby It's Cold Outside." Their cover is so cute! I can't get enough of it. It's tied now as my favorite version along with Kurt and Blaine singing it in Glee. Seriously, watch the video and you'll see what I mean. Cute cute cute!

What's your favorite holiday song at the moment?

And, as promised, here's my video for the day!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Letters to Advent

Today marks the first day of Advent.

In the liturgical church calendar, Advent is the beginning of the year and the start of our preparation for Christmas. It lasts the four weeks leading up to Christmas and the last day is Christmas Eve. Then Christmas day starts the season of Christmas which lasts twelve days. (Thus, the 12 Days of Christmas.) It's a season where we focus on waiting, preparation, and the arrival of Jesus. Remembering his birth, but also to remember he's coming again.

It's one of my favorite times of year and sometimes I wish we focused on it more instead of just jumping right to Christmas and then having the season end once Christmas Day is done.

This year, I'm participating in Vlogmas. It's hosted by We Blog We Vlog (who does Vlog Every Day August) and Kirstie and I have gotten everything set up so people can sign up and we have the topics calendar ready to go. Click here if you want to learn more and sign up.

I'm combining it with Advent though. Some of you might have heard of "Letters to July" on YouTube. I'm going to do letters to Advent as well as the Vlogmas topics. It'll be a cool hybrid of the two ideas. (Hopefully.) Today, I was able to put together my first video for Letters to Advent.

I've finally completed NaNoWriMo and I'll be honest - I'm a bit burned out on writing at the moment. (Expect a NaNoWriMo wrap up post later this week.) Which I'm not worried about- this never lasts. But I'm glad to be taking a break, and I think making videos everyday in December will help renew my creative juices. 

I'll be linking my videos on the blog everyday. So, even if I don't actually write a post, there will at least be a video to watch!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Target Needs to Step Up It's Thanksgiving Game

I think I'm burnt out on writing from NaNoWriMo. But there's only a few days left and I will reach 50k - I WILL!

But this morning, instead of writing like I should have been due to not having to work, I decided to catch up on YouTube videos. Lately I've been going through my subscriptions and adding all of the videos I want to watch into my "Watch Later" tab and the number has now reached over 50.

This made me in the mood to make a video. Yay!

Sign up for Vlogmas at!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2014

In the Home Stretch

Okay, seriously guys, where did November go? Didn't it JUST START? But here we are, it's November 20. Yet again, I've failed to post anything on the blog other than Music Monday and... yup... you guessed it, today I'm doing a NaNoWriMo check-in.

Don't worry friends who don't care about NaNoWriMo- there's only a week left! You can stop rolling your eyes at me and ignoring my posts after that. Just come back for Music Monday and December.

But here we are Wrimo friends. The end of week three. I'm not going to lie - it's been a rough road this week. I started my new job which is really exciting, but I've still been working my other two jobs and have had to do 40 hours of virtual training for the new one. All week I've been married to my laptop and not for NaNoWriMo reasons - for work reasons. It's been one crazy week.

Yet, somehow, I'm caught up. I've taken some time in the mornings to write and last night I was having issues (again) with different details of my training. So, while I was all "OMG" over How to Get Away With Murder, I also was able to pound out a few thousand words and get caught up with the days goal.

Taken from my Instagram.

Some of you though, are doing amazing! One of my friends who has done NaNoWriMo a few times in the past, but hasn't been able to get to the 50k has broken 30k! She's never been able to do that before and it's really exciting! Kirstie, it's her first year and and she's already broken 40k! Kirstina Horner, one of my favorite YouTubers, I'm pretty sure has already won. Then, Amber, a blogger I follow, I'm not sure what her word count is at the moment, but she's been doing some great NaNoWriMo posts on her blog and it's been so cool seeing her writing process. There are a ton of other people too, but I don't have time to mention all of them. But everyone is doing a great job! It's really fun to see people doing well in NaNoWriMo.

Even when I'm behind and slightly jealous.

But I'm sure I'm not alone! We can still do this! We can catch up (maybe get ahead if we're ambitious) and win! Here are some tips for the final week of NaNoWriMo:

- Don't give up. Even if you only have 1,000 words - don't give up! You only fail if you quit.

- Get some sprints in. It can be alone, on Twitter, with some writing buddies, etc. If the NaNoWriMo Word Sprints Twitter account isn't hosting any, make some yourself. Use #NaNoWordSprints and #NaNoWriMo and usually you'll find a couple people up for doing some sprints with you. Or, if you are doing it alone, set up a timer for yourself and get it done. Or, you can write out your times for a sprint. My friend Jess showed how she did it on Instagram.

- Sprints don't work for you? Sometimes they don't for me either. Most times, if I do a writing sprint I do it a little longer. Like a 30min1k. I sit down for a half hour and write. My goal is 1,000 words. Then I take a break. Sometimes you just need a little bit of a longer time to sit and write.

- Switch things up. Sometimes, your story just gets boring- and that's okay! Do something really ridiculous to make it fun again. You can always delete and edit it later. Or who knows, maybe it's just what your story needs.

- Use the weekend. If your schedule allows it, the weekend is a great time to catch up. Take advantage of it! It's still before any major holidays and you'll have next week to get ready for those. Use this weekend as a way to catch up and get ahead.

- Join in on 10k Tuesday! One of my other favorite YouTubers, KatyTastic, who has been doing NaNoWriMo for years now has been hosting 10k Tuesday the last week of NaNoWriMo the last few years. Yeah, 10,000 words is a lot for one day. But all day she hosts writing sprints and is cheering people on. It's a great motivator - even if you don't get all 10,000 words.  Katy's Twitter is here, and her channel where she's been doing NaNoWriMo videos is here.

Okay - are you ready? Because it's time to get back to writing.

Also- Vlogmas is coming up! Have you signed up yet? Click here.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Uuuuuugggggg Monday

Weekends go by far too quickly in my opinion. Don't you agree? Mine was wonderful and relaxing, hanging out with my family in Indiana. But it went by way too fast and here I am, Sunday night, squeezing in scheduling my Music Monday post for tomorrow (or today since you're reading this on Monday) before I have to leave for rehearsal because I know I won't have time before work tomorrow morning.

Yeah, Monday morning is already here. Isn't that crazy?

So, I'm trying to think of some sort of music to help with a case of the Mondays.

Ah, here we go. Ever since the soundtrack to The Fault in Our Stars came out I've been obsessed. I re-watched the movie yesterday and was reminded just how awesome the soundtrack is. This one puts a smile on my face every single time.

Just pretend it's not from a movie that makes you cry ugly tears.

Link up and share your favorite music!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Life Update Friday

As I promised yesterday in my video here is a quick life update for all of you who are tired of me talking about NaNoWriMo!

- Tomorrow my family is celebrating my grandpa's 90th birthday! 90 - that's crazy and totally awesome! I'm really excited to see everyone over the weekend and celebrate. We saw most of them for my sister's wedding, but with all of the preparations and craziness we didn't actually get to have a whole lot of quality time with them. So, this will be nice.

- I'm in a madrigal group! (Not magical, madrigal.) For those who aren't total nerds like me, it's a renaissance singing group. We get to dress up in costumes and sing old songs and talk about boars heads, figgy pudding, and wassail. I did it in high school and it was so much fun, and when a friend told me there was a group putting one together for Christmas, I was really excited. We've had about three rehearsals so far, every week on Sunday night, and I've liked it a lot. I'm still getting to know the people, but they seem pretty awesome. I love my director - he really knows his stuff- and he's a ton of fun. Even if he took my David Tennant phone background for Matt Smith. I definitely need to work on memorizing my music though.

- I also am starting a new job on Monday! It's only temporary through the middle of January. BUT, it's for a pretty big company, I'll get paid well, have a lot of hours, and if they'll keep their best people on full time after January. Which would mean actual salary and benefits. The job itself is answering phones for customer service, but I'm still excited. For now I'm still at the preschool though in the mornings because I don't want to give up a permanent thing for a temporary job.

- I feel like everyone is having babies. At least two of my friends have had babies this week. It's crazy. Really happy and awesome! But crazy too. But don't tell my sister, she's already ready to have one.

- It's snowing right now. There's only a dusting on the ground, but still. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Discuss.

- I heard Matthew Morrison (Mr. Shue on Glee) is going to be taking over the role of JM Barrie on Broadway's premiere of Finding Neverland, replacing Jeremy Jordan (the guy who played Jack in Newsies on Broadway and was Jimmy on Smash and will be in The Last 5 Years with Anna Kendrick coming up) who I LOVE. I love both actors but I'm super torn because I LOVE Jeremy Jordan. I know the rest of you don't care but I do.

- Recently I listened to Neil Patrick Harris' Choose Your Own Autobiography and it was every bit as awesome as it sounds. I'm also currently reading Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers. It's the final book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy and I'm outrageously excited.

- My Facebook book club, The Book Worms, is currently reading The Circle by Dave Eggars. OMG it's crazy! You need to get in on this. If not, next month we're reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. If anything, you should join so you can watch videos of me talking about all of my feels about books.

- Kirstie and I are back at it with vlogging! Remember in August how I do Vlog Every Day August? (VEDA.) Well, now we're hosting Vlogmas. Basically, you vlog everyday December 1-24 leading up to Christmas. We (as in mainly Kirstie and I've been giving my two cents here and there) have been brainstorming topic ideas. Once the sign up is ready I'll let you all know. I think personally I'm going to do a weird hybrid of Vlogmas/Letters to Advent. When it gets closer I'll explain more.

I feel like this post needs a picture. Because every good blogger has pictures, right? Right. Here's me jamming on my uke. Cause you know... this is exactly how I look when I sing and play...

So... how is everyone today? Doing anything fun and exciting this weekend? Tell me about your lives!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Writers Block

Earlier today I found a fun link up for NaNoWriMo! One of my favorite bloggers, Amber Thomas of Mr. Thomas and Me, did a vlog for hers so I decided to just copy her and her questions and do the same. 

Imitation is the highest form of flattery, right?

This would have been posted sooner, but it took FOREVER for my video to upload to YouTube. But I was able to get it up before the link up closed. Hooray!

For those of you who don't care about NaNoWriMo, I'm sorry. Tomorrow I'm going to try and have a life update post up. I do think about things other than NaNoWriMo, I promise.

But not today.

To see Amber's video, click here. To link up click here or here

Monday, November 10, 2014

Songs Full of Memories

There are some songs which always take you back. The moment they start to play you have a million memories playing through your head.

The song "Never Let Go" is one of those songs for me. I'm fairly certain I have talked about this song before on the blog, but it's just so good! We sang it in church yesterday and it made me ridiculously happy.

We would sing it at the same church when I was in college and I went there for my feildwork. My fellow feildworkers and I loved it and would sing it all the way back to campus and around town. Which is pretty awesome because all of us were musical.

Then it took me back to my first week in Missouri. It was one of the VBS songs and I arrived at the church to start my internship during VBS week. It was the perfect song to make me feel welcomed.

And my favorite memories of this song is from when I did Camp Noah. This is a week long day camp type program the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod provides to areas who have had natural disasters to help kids learn how to process and deal with what they've been through. There is nothing like hearing a bunch of kids from Joplin, MO who have been through a tornado singing "Oh no, you never let go, through the calm and through the storm" at the top of their lungs.

What music is filling your mind this week?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A NaNoWriMo Week One Pep Talk

It's day 8 of NaNoWriMo. We have officially been at this for an entire week!

Give yourselves a pat on the back. If you're not doing NaNoWriMo, go congratulate someone who is because if they're anything like me, they might need some encouragement right about now.

By the end of today (November 8) if you are keeping on schedule with writing 1,1667 words each day, you should be hitting 13,333 words. As of last night I was at 12,057.

If you're ahead of the curve - that's awesome! You keep going! Sometimes it can be easy to think "I can take a break, I'm ahead" but DON'T DO IT! At some point down the road this month, you'll probably not write as much and you're going to need that word count cushion. Also, you can't stop the momentum it gets going. There have been times I'll get crazy ahead and then I'll just randomly stop writing for a week or two. It'll start with one day where I get too confident in my word count, and soon it turns into two days, a week, two weeks. Yikes! I've been able to catch up every time I have done this, but it's stressful. Please learn from my mistakes and don't do this to yourself.

If you're behind on your word count goal - don't freak out! You can still catch up and keep going. It's only week one. You have three whole weeks to get your word count up. A ton of people are in the same boat as you and that's totally okay. In fact, I found out last night that Hank Green does NaNoWriMo. Yup, HANK GREEN. It kinda made my life.

Well.. other than that Pip Ballentine, a co-author of The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, one of my favorite Steampunk series, just followed me on Twitter. SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! AN ACTUAL AUTHOR IS FOLLOWING ME ON TWITTER. And not just any author- an author who writes one of my favorite book series!!!!!! Please celebrate with me my doing the Kermit Flail.

Wait... what was I talking about? Oh yeah. NaNoWriMo. Hank Green. I'm back on track now, I promise.

Anyways. Hank Green tweeted this last night:

He's behind. HANK GREEN is behind on NaNoWriMo. Is he freaking out? Nope. If that's not encouragement for you, I don't know what is.

We all work at our own pace and that's totally okay.

But if you're like me... you're still worried.

I know I'm not crazy behind. Not yet. But to be completely honest, I've never struggled so much with a novel this early in the game. When I first thought of this idea, I was so excited. There was so much potential! If done right, I could turn it into a stage production. It was going to be personal, unique, heartfelt, funny, all of the things a good novel should be. But whenever I start writing nothing turns out the way I thought it would. Maybe it's because I haven't gotten to the scenes I'm the most excited about. I'm not sure. But I spend so much time just staring at my computer screen instead of typing. I want to fix it but I don't know how.

That doesn't mean I'm going to quit though.

Here are a few things I've learned this week about struggling with a novel... all things other people have told me in my frustration.

Earlier this week I was texting one of my NaNoWriMo friends in Missouri. Last year we spent hours and hours together at Starbucks and on my living room couch drinking coffee (and other things...), watching Boy Meets World, and helping each other plot our stories. I texted her expressing how frustrated I was. I felt like my story was boring and cliche and awful. She told me this:

"The point is writing it. You can't edit what's not there."

Yes, it's entirely possible your NaNoWriMo draft is completely terrible and not worth reading. But at least it's written down. When it's done and written down, that's when you can look at it and say "Okay, this is bad. How can I make it better?" If you never write down the terrible stories, you'll never get the good ones either. Most great stories have had several drafts, not just one. You can't get to the good one until the bad one is written. 

I also got a lot of inspiration from the NaNoWriMo pep talk from Veronica Roth (she wrote the Divergent trilogy) and the web chat with Scott Westerfeld. (He wrote the Uglies series and I just finished his newest book, Afterworlds, which is about a girl who published her NaNoWriMo project. So awesome!) They both seemed to have the same mindset about writing:

If you don't know everything as you're writing, it's okay!

As in, if you don't know your ending right away - that's okay.

If you don't know your characters favorite color - that's okay.

If your usual writing plan and process isn't working- that's okay. Try something new.

Scott Westerfeld talked about how sometimes he doesn't know his ending until he's about 2/3 of the way through his novel. Or that his characters tend to develop themselves as he writes. 

Veronica Roth said in her pep talk: "What is important, far more than the definitions we cling to, is that we finish the stories we are burning to tell." 

She also said: "Don’t be a plotter or a pantser, a strict butt-in-chair person or an exercise-doer, a beginning-to-end-er or a time jumper—don’t be anything other than whatever you need to be to keep climbing."

You do what you need to do to keep writing. Keep telling your story. It will get there. Good or bad, your story will get there. Fast or slow, your story will get there.

Also, today (November 8) is "Double Up Your Novel Day." Which means you should double something. Double your word count or your daily writing goal. Double your donations. Double your characters. Double SOMETHING that has to do with NaNoWriMo. The weekend is a great day to catch up and to get a nice word count cushion for when you fall behind later.

Now get back to writing. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

When I Drive

There's something about getting behind the wheel of my little car that I absolutely love. Especially on an open highway where I can put on the cruise control and just go. Over the last few years I've found my car to be a unique place where I can let off steam, let my mind wander, and brainstorm new ideas. I can't tell you how many times I've had a long road trip where I've been able to plot out a book or get character ideas for a story. Or even do some fantastic sing along and lip syncing performances to an audience of me and sometimes my dog. It's pretty impressive if I do say so myself.

I feel like to have a truly good driving around in your car and singing along and dancing, you have to have a fun song. Something that gets your heart pumping and energy going.

I found a few years ago Adam Lambert did that for me.

Yup. Adam Lambert.

His song "If I Had You" has become one of my all time favorite songs to jam out to in the car. Especially if I've had a long day and I need to de-stress.

What's your best driving around song?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Final Pre-NaNoWriMo Pep Talk

In only two days November will be upon us. When midnight strikes Halloween will roll out as it always does. Maybe you'll still be out partying or at home wearing your costume as you pick through leftover trick-or-treat candy. (Or not leftover and just what you have... cause why would you give away your candy?) Or maybe you're in bed already because you're smart and want a good night's sleep. Good for you. No matter where you are, the clock will strike 12am on November 1.

NaNoWriMo has begun.

I, and I'm sure a lot of other people, have mixed emotions about the start of NaNoWriMo. On the one hand, I love being able to have an excuse to dedicate a whole month to writing. I love working on a new project and collaborating with thousands of other people doing the exact same thing and how we are all there for each other. I love talking with my friends about their novels and reading the pep talks and perusing the forums.

Then there's the other half of me. My schedule is wildly different from it has been for every other NaNoWriMo. Before, my work schedule was somewhat flexible and it was the calm before the storm of the Advent/Christmas season at the church. Now, my schedule is more rigid and I can't leave work an hour early if needed to meet someone at Starbucks for a writing date. Working two part time jobs, searching for freelance writing gigs, and searching for more work doesn't leave a ton of free time.

We've been having technology issues at home lately, so we are down to one laptop. Mine. Which is fine, I don't mind sharing and most of what I do can be done on my iPad. However - I hate writing on my iPad. My time using Scrivener, my writing program of choice, is going to be cut down a lot.

On top of it- I have barely a skeleton of an outline. Usually I'm all planned out. My characters have rich backstories, The novel has a semi-detailed outline and I have a basic idea of where it's going. This year... not so much. I don't know what it is this year, but I feel woefully unprepared. Doubts fill my mind.

My novel will be awful.

I won't have time.

There will be major plot holes.

The characters will be shallow.

I'll lose motivation.

Anyone else having the same doubts and thoughts?

Yeah... that's what I thought. So, here is my final pre-NaNoWriMo pep talk. Not just for you, but for me too.

My novel will be awful.

Yeah... maybe. That's life. Sometimes we create something that completely sucks. It happens. That's how we learn though.

But what if it's not? What if it's brilliant? What if it's the best thing you've ever written? Yeah... how awesome would that be? But you're never going to know until you sit down and write it.

I won't have time.

No one has time. Put on your big girl panties and deal with it. Yes, you might need to have later nights and/or earlier mornings for the next 30 days. You might need to cut back on Tumblr and bingle watching TV shows on Netflix. Worse things have happened. Get up, turn off Netflix and Tumblr, drink some coffee (or your caffeinated beverage of choice) and write your novel.

There will be major plot holes.

There usually are. Even in some of your best stories - there have been major plot holes. But you always work through it. You have friends who are fantastic writers who point them out and help you. Find your writing friends and brainstorm. Talk it out. Go to the NaNoWriMo forums. Then go write your novel. Sometimes just writing and letting it flow will surprise you with something fantastic. But those holes will never be filled until you write.

The characters will be shallow.

Get inspiration from people in real life. Have dates with your characters. Eventually they'll flesh themselves out. Keep writing and sometimes as you write they get better. When I say sometimes, I mean usually.

I'll lose motivation.

We all have those moments - and it's okay. You're allowed to take breaks sometimes. But don't worry about that yet. Why are you worrying about the future? That's for future you to worry about later in November.

The moral of the story?

You just need to get to writing. Maybe it'll fall apart, maybe it won't. But either way, you won't know until you try.

Write your story.

What's my plan, you ask?

One, for now I'm just going to focus on my very first scene. MAYBE the first chapter. That's it. I want to picture it in my mind so when I sit down to write November first it can pour out of me. I'll worry about the rest later.

Also, I started reading Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. It's about a girl who participated in NaNoWriMo (or at least that's the impression) and now her novel is going to be published. The book goes back and forth between her story and the one she wrote. So a book within a book. It's making me really excited for November to start.

Need more inspiration? Kristina Horner has a ton of NaNoWriMo videos and pep talks on her YouTube channel. This one is my favorite. She did it three years ago, but it's my favorite thus far. If you can't see the embeded video below you can click here. 

What are you doing to get ready to write in November? Do you have any advice for people like me who are having mixed emotions about NaNoWriMo?

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