your time has come.

I’ve taken a month off to recuperate from college and am ready to jump headfirst into this whole writer life thing.  That means scheduling time to write my next novel (check), starting to send of query letters for The Art (check – legit the scariest thing I’ve ever done but I’m so ready to keep doing it), and asking for beta readers for the aforementioned (basically finished) novel.

SO!  If you’ve ever wanted to read the novel I’ve been working on for literally the last three years (The Art of Letting Go, if you forgot) now’s your chance.  I need feedback on it so that it can be the best it can be.  Anything and everything will help – inconsistencies, plot holes, places that don’t make sense, basically anything that I didn’t fix in the last three drafts.

The only thing I ask of you is that you’re serious – that you’ll read it and get back to me with your critiques by, say, June 1st.  That’s an entire month.  You can do this.  I believe in you.

Sooooo if you’d like to beta read my novel, comment with a reason why you should and how many (if any) novels you’ve beta read in the past.  (If you haven’t done any, that’s totally fine.)  In a separate comment (which I won’t publish), leave your email address.  I just got a new Gmail specifically for my writing and I’m going to start using that one for blog stuff.

I think I’m going to limit the number of beta readers to five, but I don’t think there will be more than five, so that’ll work out.  (In the event that more than five people want to read it, well, first I’ll keel over in astonishment, then we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.  Maybe I’ll take beta readers in waves.  {My life is crazy rn.  We’re moving.  I’m trying to get a job.  Etc, etc, etc.})

THANK YOU SO MUCH IN ADVANCE & I LOVE YOU ALL.

the greatest oxymoron.

I used to go to a church where we had communion every Sunday.  I didn’t understand why at first.  Then I worried that it would become rote, with a weekly occurrence robbing it of its sacredness.  But after a few months, my family and I embraced it.  It brought us closer as a family because there were always recent events that we needed to apologize to one another – instead of trying to wrack our brains once a month for stuff to say sorry for.

The same can be said for the Easter story – all of the events surrounding the crucifixion, the burial, and the resurrection.

If you’ve grown up in the church, you’ve heard this story.  A lot.  You’ve been to multiple services on Easter weekend, all touching on some aspect of the story, and maybe you’ve even been to Passion City Church’s Good Friday service with Louis Giglio (which, if you haven’t, is a must because it’s unparalleled).

Easter, in a sense, can also become rote – obvious and dull for all of us who have grown up listening to this story over and over since it’s so essential to the Gospel.  In the midst of meals with extended family members, egg hunts with small children, and making sure your outfit is finished by Easter morning, it can even be forgotten.  This same struggle happens around Christmastime, when the true meaning for all of the celebrations is pushed aside by the chaos and distractions.

This is true for me.  In the past, I’ve had to repent for focusing more on traveling to see family members than on Jesus’s precious gift to me.

That’s one thing I never want to lose sight of.  It’s the greatest oxymoron I’ve ever known – that by His wounds, He gave me healing.  I’ll never get over that.

But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5

This Easter, spend time with your family members and enjoy the egg hunt (it’s perfectly fine to be scared of the Easter bunny, though it’s too big why I don’t understand), but take the time to get alone with God.  Sit in your room or take a walk in the woods or drive on a random road in the mountains – whatever it takes to get rid of all of the distractions and outside chaos.  Think about what He did for you, and thank Him for it.  I know I’ll be doing it, because I’ve been awestruck by His grace and love – the love that saved my soul.

the book tag.

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{for le blog aesthetic // not mine}

My lovely friend Eva over at Coffee, Classics, and Craziness tagged me in this wonderful book tag and I decided to do it!  (I rarely do tags, not because I don’t like them, but because I usually forget.  Keep tagging me, guys!  One of these days I’ll remember to do them.  XD)

Rules
You must be honest.
You must answer all the questions.
You must tag at least 4 people.

1. What book has been on your shelf the longest?
I’m gonna have to go with the trilogy of E.B. White books my godfather got for me when I was a baby, or Spy for the Confederacy, which I’m pretty sure is the very first book I ever bought myself.  It was on a shelf at a homeschooling convention, and little eight-year-old me, with such a massive love of both spies and the Civil War, decided to buy it.  I still love it.

2. What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next?
Current read: I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter.  Oh my gosh, where has this book been all of my life?!  I would’ve liked it a lot when I was a little younger, but I’m super glad I found it now.  It’s about spies and forbidden teen love and it’s just so great.  10/10.
Last read: Always a Bridesmaid For Hire by Jen Glantz.  I enjoyed most of it, as it’s probably a good overview of what my life will look like for the next few years (minus the business part).  See my review here.
Next read: The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker.  The plot sounds great and I’m always looking for random books to try out.  Plus, that cover tho.  *heart eyes emoji*

3. What book did everyone like, but you hated?
I try not to hate books, but I really didn’t like The DUFF or Eleanor and Park (which, arguably, was only my second RR book, and I’m planning on rereading it again in the future to see if my opinion has changed).  I also greatly despise a lot of those conservative purity books that I got pulled into when I was younger – So Much More and Before You Meet Prince Charming, for instance.  (I’ll write a post about it in the future if y’all want to read my ranty opinion, but the short of it is that a girl isn’t a sub-helpmeet for her dad and should be free to decide, with guided wisdom from authorities, what to do with her life – and, yeah, that includes moving out, getting a job, and going to college if she feels like that’s God’s will for her life.  These books basically tell girls that their only biblical place is in the home, under her father’s authority, until she gets married.  I know young women aged 25-30 who still live with their parents, uneducated and jobless.  Do. Not. Like.)

4. What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?
My goal in life is to READ ALL THE BOOKS, but there are probably a few that I’ll never get around to – the other Mitch Rapp books (unless they’re made into more movies bc Dylan O’Brien tho), and various classics that I have no interest in.

5. What book are you saving for retirement?
What’s retirement???  I’ve got a few books that I’ve been stockpiling for when we move into our internet-less house, including Les MisTumble Fall, Everything Leads to You, The Unexpected Everything, Illuminae, and The Infinite Moment of Us – all of which I’ve gotten recently specifically for this move.  (Except for Illuminae, which a friend sent me.  Oh, and Les Mis, which has sat, in all it’s bricklike, unabridged glory on my shelf for about six years.  I’ll get to it.)

6. Last page: read it first, or wait ’til the end?
I AIN’T ABOUT THAT SPOILER LIFE, FAM.  If the wind flips pages forward and I see stuff that hasn’t happened yet, I get all annoyed and heartbroken and achy inside and question whether or not I want to even finish the book.  Last-page-readers are sub-human and will not survive the winter or the zombie apocalypse.

7. Acknowledgement: waste of paper and ink, or interesting aside?
I adore acknowledgments.  Probably because I’m a writer, but I just love seeing who has influenced the author.  It’s so much fun to also get a sneak peek into their life and the little inside jokes they have with people they thank.  Plus, it’s a great way to find agents to pester to represent my book.

8. Which book character would you switch places with?
Hermione Granger or someone from The Berinfell Prophecies, preferably whoever kisses Jimmy, whom I’ve had a crush on for the last eight years, with absolutely no sign of ceasing.  Or maybe Jo March, since I’m already basically her already.  (I’d say yes to Laurie in a heartbeat.  Screw whatever’s “supposed to happen,” to quote Eliza Schuyler-Hamilton, “THAT BOY IS MIIIIIINE!”)

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life? (Place, time, person?)
Oh heck yes.  I can’t read Fangirl without thinking of the porch swing at my grandparents’ house where I inhaled it for the first time, or The Final Storm without remembering literally chucking it against a wall in my room while screaming “NO!” and sobbing, or The List without flashbacks to remembering the skiing trip where I was first introduced to Robert Whitlow (and remembering that a friend of mine gave me a signed copy of it because he met Robert), or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone without thinking of all the minds I’d blow by reading it, or The Scarlet Pimpernel without thinking, “This is a classic???  And I’m ENJOYING IT???”  Every single book holds memories for me, and sometimes I reread books just to revisit the memories surrounding them.  True story.

10. Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.
Besides the previous story about a book personally signed to me by Robert Whitlow (*heart eyes emoji*), I think the next most interesting story is the story behind A Thief in the Theater: A Kit Mystery.  Yes, that Kit.  Ever since a good friend had gotten to go to the American Girl store in NYC back when I was like ten, I’d always dreamed of going.  So when my dad took me to NYC for my high school graduation, the American Girl store was one of the first things on our to-do list.  I walked out of that store with that book and two t-shirts (one for me and one for my doll, of course) with PRIDE.

11. Have you ever given a book away for a special reason to a special person?
All of my books are my precious babies, but I did buy three copies of If You Find This Letter to write in and give to people as Christmas presents.  Still one of the best gifts I’ve ever given someone.  That book is literally life-changing.  Read it.

12. Which book has been with you most places?
Probably Fangirl or The Martian.  When I was reading them (and then rereading both), I couldn’t put them down.  Even when I wasn’t reading them, they had to be by my side, in my “mommy purse.”  Other than that, I’m gonna have to go with Eva’s answer and say my Bible.  It’s been on almost all of my vacations, plus all over Charlotte when I did summer missions.

13. Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad two years later?
I was never a classics person when I was younger, which I’m not ashamed of, especially since I’m able to come to them now, for the first time, with an adult mindset that I didn’t have when I was younger.  For instance, a friend and I were talking the other day about girls who got into Austen when they were teenagers and loved them purely for the romance – which is fine, but I’m so happy I’m able to see past the romance and enjoy Jane for her satire and wit, not to mention her feminism and the fact that she was so far ahead of her time.

14. Used or brand new?
Used that looks brand new.  I prefer cheap books, and if I can find a new copy of a book for $5, I’ll absolutely get it.  I like my books in pristine condition and will pay a few extra dollars to get a new book over a used one, but I’m blessed with knowing a few different places to get cheap, beautiful used books.  (*cough* 2nd and Charles, where I got 2 books, a movie, and the first season of Graceland for $14 the other day *cough*)

15. Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?
Nope!  I’m vaguely interested in The Da Vinci Code, though!

16. Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?
Mockingjay.  I thought Part 2 did a great job of fixing the problems in the book.

17. Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks included?
Are you kidding; every book makes me hungry.  There are a few books that make me especially hungry, though, including The Little Women Letters and Harry Potter.  (One word: BUTTERBEER).

18. Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?
Cait (Paper Fury).  I adore her.  Plus, she’s so incredibly sweet and friendly – it seriously feels like we’re friends whenever she replies to my comments on her reviews.  Read all of the posts on her website.  She’s hilarious, too, and I want to be just like her when I grow up.

19. Is there a book out of your comfort zone (e.g., outside your usual reading genre) that you ended up loving?
Classics are a recent pleasure, thanks to the Lit courses I took in college (how is that past tense already it feels like i just started college i can’t evennnnnn) that made me study quite a few classics.  (we’re talking 50+, 12 of which I read and wrote essays on in two months.  college is hard, y’all.)  I’ve also started really enjoying memoirs, thanks to Unbroken and If You Find This Letter.  People are fascinating.

Alrighty, I tag all of my followers who want to do it either in the comments or on their own blogs, especially Jessica and Katelyn.  ❤

i now have a college degree.

IMG_6465 (2).jpgWarning: Rambly angst ahead.

I have no words.  I submitted my final paper over a week ago and I’ve been waiting for my final grades before I posted anything.  Well, I got my final grade today, and I still don’t know what to say.

The main drive I had in the last four years of my life is gone.  The massive, stressful weight disappeared this past weekend as my grade slowly trickled in.  I felt it leave as I sunk to the floor and looked up at my friend from Virginia who showed up on my doorstep.  She told me to stop being irrational because of course I’d pass.  And she was right – I did.

And with that main focus leaving, I’m sitting here on my bed, lukewarm cup of coffee in hand, wondering, Well… now what?

I talked to my coach for the last time this past week and we talked about how much had changed over the last four years.  I’ve become a better version of my eighteen-year-old self – not different at all from that wide-eyed, still-trying-to-lose-her-baby-fat teenager.  I’ve got a better taste in music, I’m more confident, my people skills aren’t amazing but so much more apparent, and I’ve gotten a lot better at covering up the midnight-study-sessions-induced bags under my eyes due to my improved makeup skills.  And that’s just the non-academic stuff.

Anyway, I’ve gotten a good taste of my post-grad life this past week.  Instead of writing papers through sleepy eyes, I watched documentaries.  Instead of rushing home from doing errands to see how many distracted hours of school I could get done while simultaneously trying to nanny, I sat on the floor at the library and colored an apple tree with my charges.  Instead of cramming as much study time as I could in the quiet hours while Mom was gone with the littlest two at homeschool PE, I gave her a much-needed packing afternoon and took them myself.

While I’m pretty scared of the future and whether or not I’ll waste this newfound freedom, I’m also incredibly excited.  I hate change but I love new beginnings, and that’s what gets me through the ever-changing chapters of my life.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to enjoy my first rainy day with no school in sight.

being a college student is…

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{for le blog aesthetic // not mine.}

curling up in places too small for you and closing your eyes for just one more minute.

writing papers at midnight and then being horrified at your incomprehensible “logic” the next morning.

constantly wondering why your coffee cup is empty but not having the motivation to refill it.

spending your hard-earned cash on ice cream because your professors make you cry.

always just wanting to lay down on the floor.

generally wanting to lay down in general because you’ve never been this tired in your life.

worrying about cell phone bills, car insurance, food, budgeting, grades, social life, etc all the time.

finding new study music all. the. time.

in that same vein, finding new tv shows to watch.  (and sometimes they’re disney shows and that’s okay.) (meaning i discovered boy meets world while i was in college and honestly it helped me get through it.)

junk food. so much junk food.

developing weird ways to learn the stuff you’ve gotta learn.  (need to learn the kings and queens of england for your western civ class?  say no more.)

watching your friends get into relationships???  and get engaged???  and get married???  AND HAVE BABIES???

constantly wondering what the crap you’re doing with your life because of the above.  (“oh, that’s right.  i’m getting an education.  which will help me… how?”)

losing motivation.

gaining motivation.

meeting new friends.

saying goodbye to old friends.

setting aside hours a day to psych yourself up for something because adulting is hard.

taking tests.

sobbing in your car because you failed tests.

celebrating with junk food and movies because you passed tests.

being scared about moving on because sweet buttered crumpets, you’ll have to really adult and enter *gulp* The Real World.

moving on, despite whatever happens, because this is your education and DANG IT, you’ll get it done.


i only have a few weeks of school left.  i’m trying to live in these moments – to really relish them, despite the mixed feelings they bring – because i’m such a schoolaholic that i know i’m going to miss them.

today’s my baby sister’s birthday.  she’s four.  i distinctly remember living at a friend’s house while her adoption paperwork was going through, discovering pinterest while trying to figure out this college thing.

i’m totally scared at the prospect of a school-free life.  i’m obviously still going to learn (hello, french lessons), but it’ll be different.

more than that, though, i’m excited.  i’ll have a more flexible schedule, i’ll be able to live without a major stress-inducer in my life, i’ll have more writing time, i’ll be able to get a job without worrying about having enough school time…

saying goodbye is always hard.  but saying hello is such a bright, optimistic new opportunity, and i’m totally ready to see what i’ll greet in the next few months.

first royalties check? CHECK.

Y’ALL.

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So CreateSpace (Amazon’s company that published my novel) has a $100 threshold on royalties.  Once you’ve hit that, they send you a check.

After two years and three months… my little baby finally hit that threshold.

And, dang, do I feel accomplished.

Let’s ignore the fact that it took that long, the fact that it’s “only” $100, and the fact that it’s “just” a self-published novel.  Because, dang it, I need something to be proud of.

(I’m finishing college less than a month and I’ll celebrate that, too.)

But here’s my dilemma – I have no idea what to spend it on!

I want to be able to look back – when I’m a famous author giving interviews alongside other famous authors – and be able to proudly say what I spent my very first royalty check on.  But I have no earthly clue what that should be!

Current ideas are: a trip somewhere (hello, Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway), a new laptop charger cord + battery (necessities, plus that’s writing-related, right?), or invest it/put it in savings for later.  The first is exciting but expensive, and the last two are boring but necessary.  😄

HELP A SISTA OUT.

(Also, I finally got on The Book of Faces.  Friend me!)