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?