Saturday, December 3, 2016

Subplots and Storylines - November 2016



I don't know how it's physically possible, but somehow this month seems even fuller than the last!


November opened with my birthday, which I celebrated a bit differently than other years in order to fit with my school schedule. Later on in the month, we also celebrated my lil' sister's birthday.


I grew a bit more in my public speaking skills: I was called to answer Q&A in one of our communicators meetings, I was the timer for another meeting, and a classmate and I got to preach a mini message to the youth volunteers.


My class and I helped build our church's float for the city's Santa Clause Parade, which was so fun, especially because we also got to participate in the actual parade, walking alongside our beautiful float.


There was a last-minute event I volunteered at, a youth worship night, a youth talent show, Christmas shopping, friend stuff, and my first exam of the year.


And through it all, my little corner of the world disguised itself as London, with miserable rain mixed with melting snow, and some of the densest fog I've ever seen.


Movies



Very little this month. I watched the last episode of Once Upon a Time Season 4 with my sisters (oh my goodness, THAT ENDING) and saw some more of Season 1 with my parents.


Books

(I searched high and low for an image of my copy. This ain't it.)

Journey to the Center of the Earth // Jules Verne
I wanted to read one of the unread, second-hand books on my shelf, and randomly picked this one. It was more enjoyable than I expected, quite honestly. I remember not totally loving Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea during high school, and while Journey does pause now and then to dump facts on the reader, it keeps a good pace overall. And it was funny! Axel and his enthusiastic uncle, Professor Liedenbrock, make an amusing pair.

[Professor] "Do you remember a visit the famous English
chemist Humphrey Davy paid me in 1825?"
[Axel] "No, I don't. For the very good reason that I wasn't
born until nineteen years later."


Was the book scientifically accurate? Probably not, seeing as it was written in the 1800s, but it was still fun to pretend that Verne's theories could be true, to envision a whole new world beneath the earth's crust. My biggest quibble was the ending. I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but let's just say the characters didn't accomplish quite as much as I expected they would.





Prophet // R.J. Larson
I loved it! I haven't read very many fantasies with a Biblical type of setting, so that was neat. I found it especially intriguing to follow Ela's journey as a Prophet of the Infinite, to see how it mirrored real prophets in the Old Testament. She was so compassionate even when she had to communicate the Infinite's judgment on people who deserved it. (That compassion is a trait I need to grow in.) I adored Kien, a charming ambassador who spends a goodly amount of time in prison and has a strong appreciation for food. Ela's little sister, Tzana, was sweet and sympathetic.


The plot slowed down a bit once or twice, or maybe that was just me taking a long time to finish the book. There was another seventy-ish pages after the big climax, so I was expecting a plot twist, but instead I got an abrupt segment of story that might have been better left for the beginning of book two. I also had some thoughts to sort through about the Infinite, who seemed loving but also enforced a works-based sort of faith among His people . . . but then I remembered that this is, in effect, the Old Testament, and a savior is not part of the story yet. (There might be one later in the trilogy?)


Don't let either of those things stop you from reading, though! Prophet is a wonderful, refreshing book that took the fantasy genre down a less well-trodden path. Between readings, my mind kept going back to the story--definitely the mark of a good book.


Writing



I felt a lot more productive this month than I have in quite a while! I wrote a poem for the first time in forever,* and wrote 9,497 words in The Prophet's Key. That's more than I've written since college started, so I was happy. I'm close to the halfway point in my outline, too. The villains are gaining the upper hand, so the whole situation is about to change for the worse for my protagonists!


*breaks into song (I listened to the Frozen soundtrack earlier this week, okay?)


I've also set my writing goals FOR THE REST OF 2016 (and a little bit more), so I am super pumped. I want to reach 80k by Christmas, which means writing almost 10k in three weeks. Then the goal is to utilize my Christmas break to add another 20k, which will bring the book to 100k. Then if I can finish the whole first draft by springtime/the end of college/sometime around there . . . I just may have enough time to rewrite The Brightest Thread into a full novel so I have something to pitch at the Realm Makers Conference.


O.O


Yeah.


I'm that crazy.


And as I look at the things filling up my December calendar, I'm questioning the sanity of that plan even more. But if you shoot for the moon and miss, you still land among the stars and all that jazz.*


*Except not really. Because the stars are light-years away. So if I miss the moon, you can find me floating aimlessly in space or headfirst in a crater on earth somewhere.




Learning



Just trying out a new feature in S&S. We'll see if I have enough material for it each month.


I learned about the DISC personality system in college, and found out that I'm a CSD. To give you some background, D=dominant/driver/determined, I=influencing/inspiring/impulsive, C=compliant/correct/cautious, and S=supportive/stable/steady. A CSD is otherwise known as a Contemplator. Basically, I like to get things done, and get them done well. I'm detailed and logical; have high standards; precise but competitive; sensitive to others around me; a natural peacemaker; etc. Reading through the full descriptions, I was amazed at how accurate most of it was! Now that I know the personalities of my other classmates, I hope to develop better ways to communicate with all of them.


I started experimenting with bullet journaling in an old notebook of mine, just to see if I like it. So far I do, though I'm not quite happy with the layout. Hence the term experiment. Come the new year, if I'm still enjoying the practice, I'll start fresh in a brand new notebook and go from there.


So how was your November? Anything out of the ordinary, or perhaps ordinary but still worth mentioning? Have you ever taken the DISC test? All ye lionhearted NaNo'ers--how did it go? And who's all cranking the Christmas carols now that we're in December?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Small is Beautiful



A couple months ago, Jenelle Schmidt totally made my day. She was joining in a "Small is Beautiful" blogging thingamajig highlighting the smaller, but still wonderful, blogs out there--and she included Adventure Awaits. Her words brought a big smile to my face. Blogging can be difficult, and attracting readers can be even harder, so to hear authentic encouragement from a follower is so motivating.


And so today I wish to spread that encouragement around by giving a big ol' shout-out to some small blogs that I love! You might discover a new corner of the internet, and it might just be such a fun place you'll want to stay.


Guidelines:
  1. Feature 3-5 blogs with fewer than 100 followers.
  2. Write 1-3 paragraphs about each blog, including information like what the blog is about, a brief bio of the blogger, and/or why you recommend their blog. Don’t forget a link to their blog!
  3. Include an image for each blog, whether it’s a blog button, profile photo, header, or simply a screenshot of the blog.
  4. Thank the blogger who featured you, and include a link to their blog. If you like, you can even include them as one of the blogs that you feature (especially if they joined the tag without having been featured by someone else).
  5. Include the tag image somewhere in your post.
Optional: For extra visibility, share a link to your post on Twitter with #SmallBlogsTag. Don’t forget to follow the hashtag and retweet others’ links!


Jenelle, I'd love to feature you if you had less than 100 followers, but you've surpassed that number (so good for you!).






Okay, I may be biased, since Lost is my littlest sister, but she has a fun blog. She writes about Animal Jam (an online game she plays) and occasionally the books she reads and stuff she does. She shares her artwork, which is detailed and completely adorable, and is also posting chapters of a story she's writing. Her blog is as quirky and fun as she is!






As a busy university student, Sarah doesn't post super often, but when she does, they're usually entertaining posts about writing or reading, or sometimes life-y things. One of her book ideas--which I've heard about personally--is a superhero flip book. As in, half the book is from the hero's perspective, and then you flip it over, and the other half is from the sidekick's. How cool is that?






Skye writes honestly about writing, the difficulties of life, and miscellaneous other things like books, movies/TV shows, art, inspirational things, etc. Her photo shoots are AH-MAY-ZING. Serious photography skills here. She ropes her siblings and friends into dressing up and posing in the beautiful BC woods where she lives. This one is a recent fave of mine.






Mary is just a ray of sunshine wherever she goes, so it's no surprise her blog is like an instant shot of caffeinated happiness. She writes about her stories, reading, occasionally life, and yes, more books. Her book photo shoots are so cute and colorful! She has a love of Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Pride and Prejudice. Her posts and comment replies never fail to make me smile!






This friend of mine just recently started blogging! She writes dramatically about--you guessed it--books and writing, including her own journey and some of the clich├ęs that drive her batty. I've had the opportunity to help edit some of her work in the past, and it's neat to see how she's growing.






If you're looking for thoughtful reflections on life, history, and stories, look no further! Blue's ponderings (which she posts every few weeks or so) make me think. They're short and sweet, and often point out the little things in life we can be grateful for, even something as simple as the scenery we pass every day.






A relatively new friend of mine also recently started her blog, where she posts her ramblings about anything and everything--her life as a farm girl turned student, things she's learning, places she wants to travel, and little stories she writes based on holidays/events (such Remembrance Day or Daylight Savings).






Tori's blog has become one of my favorite writing blogs--the advice she shares is always comprehensive and well-thought out. She frequently uses specific books or movies as examples of writing lessons, and has a "So Your Character Is . . ." series. She also reviews novels, and interviews her characters, and talks about the books she's writing. I can't wait till her books are published!


These are just some of the blogs I enjoy!

I sense a bookish theme going on . . . Anyway, go on and check them out! Show them some love! (I do have to mention there were many blogs that were around the 100-200 followers mark that I wanted to mention, but couldn't.) What are some of the smaller blogs you love?



Saturday, November 19, 2016

7 Ways to Write More Words and Read More Books

Before we dive in, I'd like to highlight some great editing tips Jenny Frietag @ The Penslayer compiled this week. You can read the post HERE. I was thrilled to see a piece of my own advice included!






The end of November is drawing near, folks, in case you haven't noticed. Which means thousands of writers are striving to meet their fifty thousand word goal in the days remaining. I am not among that huge tribe of crazy (that is, crazy awesome) people, but perhaps I'm absorbing some of their excitement, because I've been more productive this month than I have been in the last two months combined. Hooray!


Whether you're doing NaNoWriMo or not, if you're a writer, you probably want to write. (I should hope so, or else why call yourself a writer?) And quite possibly, you want to write more than you are currently doing. But life is busy, isn't it? How do you find the time?


However, not all of you reading this are writers. But there's a 98.239% chance that you are a reader.* Life is busy for you as well. Things like school and work and obligations crowd out less urgent things like reading.


*I would be surprised if this blog attracted someone who didn't care for books in some way.


So what are we busy readers and writers to do? I can't promise a magical solution to clear your schedule, but I do have some lil' tips to share that can help you put more time into your creative pursuits.


Step 1: Recognize that time is not a thing to be found or made.

You can't find time--you already have it. Nor can you manufacture time. You have twenty-four hours every day. No more, no less. The most productive writers and most prolific readers out there don't have more time than you do! They've just found a way to manage their time wisely.


Time is a resource, just like health or finances. So evaluate where you're putting it. Figure out what's nonnegotiable, such as sleep, work, school, time spent with God, building and maintaining your relationships, etc.


Step 2: Manage your free time.

Everything outside of those nonnegotiables can be moved around or minimized.


I keep my Goodreads status updated, so obviously I have time for it. Likewise with the shows I watch, blogs I read, and YouTube videos I consume. All good things, but also all potential time-suckers.


For a few days, pay attention to all the little things you do, then decide whether those are things you want to spend time on. Trust me, I'm as guilty of wasting time as anyone else. (I'm trying to break some bad phone habits, to be honest.) But you might be surprised how quickly those little things add up. Five minutes on your phone five times a day is twenty-five minutes, you guys--almost half an hour.


Step 3: Find the blank spaces in your day.

This will look different for everyone. For me, I read during my lunch breaks at work, even if it's only a few pages. My brother and I take turns driving to school, which gives me forty free minutes to read when he's the driver. Three days of the week, my college schedule is such that I have a couple free hours over suppertime, so if I don't have homework, I usually answer emails and blog comments, draft a new post, or write.


If you're in a waiting room, that's another chance to read. If you have a few minutes between activities, you can scribble out some plot points so that later, you can jump right into your next writing session without staring at a wall for ten minutes.


Step 4: Carve it out of your schedule with a ruthless knife of terror.

If you've done all of the above and you STILL DON'T HAVE TIME (oh, excuse me, haven't managed the time) . . . you may have to carve out a block of your day to curl up with a book or write a few pages. Don't feel bad if you have to schedule this stuff in.  If to-do lists and planners are your thing, penciling in your hobbies might be the trick to finally doing them.


Step 5: Hold yourself accountable.

Whether it's the satisfaction of checking off that box or buying a new book once your current read is finished, find a way to reward yourself for sticking to it. Writers, what motivates you? Some of my writer friends like to forbid themselves from using the internet until they've written X amount of words each day--for them, social media is a nice little break before jumping back into their manuscript. Or maybe taking a walk, playing with your dog, grabbing a snack, or indulging in stupid YouTube videos is what will drive you to reach a daily goal.


It's also a good idea to find someone who will keep you accountable, someone who will ask you what you've written this week. Knowing you have to report to them will give you that extra drive to keep going.


Step 6: Short stuff.

Obviously if you read shorter books you'll read a larger quantity of books, and if that makes you feel better, no problem. But that's not really the point, because you're still not reading more pages . . . So I guess that's not super useful! But reading in short bursts whenever you have a minute helps.


In writing, don't underestimate the power of word sprints/word wars. I've found that I can write more if I set myself a series of ten or fifteen minute sprints, with the simple goal to see how much I can write during that time.


Something the 100-for-100 challenge taught me was that even if you're crazy busy, you can still write a little bit. And we all know that a lot of little bits add up to a big bit.




Step 7: There's a time to just do it, and there's a time to relax.

Sometimes you have to work at getting around to the things you love. Silly, I know, but that's how life is. And if you're fighting to guard your reading/writing time, great. But don't become so task-oriented that you suck the joy out of those things. Don't write just because you scheduled it 7:30-8:30 every Wednesday night, and you have to write five hundred words or ELSE. Don't read just because you have to get through six books a month to meet your Goodreads challenge.


Do it because you actually want to.


Really, there's nothing wrong with wanting to shut off your brain after a long day, and watching a movie instead of writing. You need to unwind too, or your writing will suffer. And don't be so wrapped up in making progress that you kill the book you're reading. It should be recreational, after all! Take it easy now and then.


All you NaNo'ers: this is the month to power through and meet those goals, yes! But don't do it at the expense of your health or peace of mind. Take a day off if you need to, even if it means working extra tomorrow to make up for it. The world will not end if you don't write 1,667 words today.


So why are you still hanging around Adventure Awaits? Go write that book! Or read it, whichever you choose.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Writer's Life Tag

Time to make a dent in my pile of accumulated tags! Way back in spring, fellow bookdragon Christine Smith tagged me for the Writer's Life Tag. It sounded like fun, since who among the writing community doesn't like chatting about each other's methods and habits? Yet despite my enthusiasm, I somehow forgot about it, and went on my merry way for half a year. #oops

But here I am, digging it out at last! Pull up a chair, honorable questers, grab a cup of tea (or coffee, or juice, or Viking-worthy ale if that's your thing), and let's talk.

picture & graphic belong to Christine Smith


Write-fuel: What do you eat/drink while writing?


I'm don't usually munch and write at the same time, because crumbs in my keyboard = blegh. But I often have water nearby, or sometimes tea. My go-to flavor is vanilla chai. If I'm really in the zone, I sometimes forget to drink, though.


Write-sounds: What do you listen to while writing?


Recently, I haven't been listening to anything besides whatever background noise is going on. It's been a while since I was holed up in my room in front of my laptop--these days I write wherever my family is (usually I'm curled up on the couch or parked at the dining room table) or during breaks in college. But when I do listen to music, it's movie soundtracks or instrumental albums. Some favorites are the Narnia soundtracks, the Divergent soundtrack, Epic Music I and Epic Music II by indie composer Jonathan Maiocco, and music by Two Steps from Hell.


Write-vice: What’s your most debilitating distraction?


Emails, blogging, Goodreads . . . let's just say the internet in general! There are always little things to check or take care of instead of writing those words, and they can either break my momentum or keep me from starting to write at all.


Write-horror: What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you while writing?


I know plenty of writers have horror stories about losing their work and whatnot, but that's only happened to me once, and it was only a page or two. So I'd have to say the worst thing would be the times in high school when I got so wrapped up in my story that I lost track of time and neglected to put supper in the oven or change a load of laundry. My family has had to change supper plans at least a few times on account of me!


Write-joy: What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you while writing, or how do you celebrate small victories?


Every time I get caught up in a story, in a stream of words and images and emotions--when I'm so focused, the outside world barely exists--it's euphoria. I will slog through pages of uninspired words for a moment like that.

It's also very encouraging to receive feedback from beta readers or blog commenters, people who have read something I've written and care enough to share their reactions. It's the best feeling to know that they've been made to think, to feel, to see things in a new light, or to draw closer to Jesus . . . through a story I penned. It blows my mind every time, and I have Him to thank.


Write-crew: Who do you communicate with or not communicate with while writing?


When I'm actually, physically writing . . . I speak to no one, if I can help it. Human beings are distracting. But outside of writing sessions, I talk with a number of friends online and "in real life" (I don't like that term because it implies that my online friends aren't real as well, but I'm too lazy at the moment to come up with a better name for it).

"In real life," my closest friends aren't even writers, but they love me enough that they're fascinated by my authorial rambles and enthusiastically support these dreams of mine. I'm also blessed with a few friends who do write, and they're fun to bounce ideas around with.

Online, my main writing buddies are most often these lovely gals: Christine Smith, Deborah O'Carroll, and Mary Horton. Not to mention my broader network of bloggers and commenters who are always up for a writing-related chat!


Write-secret: What’s your writing secret to success or hidden flaw?


Let's talk about both, because while I certainly don't possess the key to conquering the writing universe, I have learned a few things along my journey thus far. And contrary to the brave face I may wear online, I am flawed. (I try to be genuine, but it's easy to highlight the good stuff and filter out the bad.)

Secret to success: keep at it. Yes, there are times to drop a manuscript entirely or take a break from it, but I see so many young writers flitting from one story to another with the attention-span of a butterfly. They're missing out on what can be learned from actually finishing a story, typing The End, bringing character arcs to completion, and tying up a plot. And if you never reach the end, you'll never edit. If there are things to be learned from completing a book, then there's ten times more to be gleaned from navigating the editing process!

Hidden flaw(s): I'm a relatively slow writer (though I'm not sure if that's 100% true or if I would actually be faster than I think if I could devote full-time hours to writing). I often find research to be a drag and may procrastinate in getting to it. I struggle with self-doubt--sometimes while pushing through a messy first draft, and sometimes while staring at the fifth-and-still-vastly-imperfect draft and hoping that if I stare hard enough, it will fix itself. I'm still finding the balance between beautiful prose/immersive description and action/dynamic plot. Perfectionism gets in my way. But I'm working on all these things, slowly but surely!


Write-spiration: What always makes you productive?


Goals, just like Christine said for herself. A plan of action, self-imposed deadlines, the satisfaction of seeing progress being made. I'm always motivating myself, not necessarily with rewards, because the accomplishment is often enough for my task-driven personality. If I don't set goals for myself, I don't get anywhere and have little drive to keep writing when it gets tough.


Write-peeve: What’s one thing writers do (or you do) that’s annoying?


I am as guilty of this as anyone else out there: talking about writing more than actually writing. Whether it's reading yet another blog post on the craft, or emailing a writing buddy, or coming up with a blog post about writerly issues--those are all good, helpful things, but they can take over the place of real writing. And the best way to become a better writer is to simply write.

There's a place for talking, but if that's all you do...


And now I tag . . .

And you, should you so desire! If you do the tag, leave me the link in the comments! Happy writing to you all, and especially those of you participating in NaNoWriMo.