first royalties check? CHECK.

Y’ALL.

image-1

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!)

happy seven years, inklings press {& a lil announcement}

bbb8ef233a50e7ee76cb4f33a4b128ed.jpg

my mantra recently. {you’ve got mail, 1998}

{I didn’t realize it was the blog’s anniversary ’til I was almost done writing this post and I’m too busy/lazy to rewrite the beginning so.  Yeah.}

Hello, all!  How are your Christmases going?  I hope everybody’s on break by now, and if you’re not, you have my eternal sympathy and all the internet hugs.

I finished wrapping all of my presents yesterday while watching Friends and stuck them under the tree.  It’s starting to look pretty dang full.  After that, I had a cup of cocoa by the fire while “watching” a Christmas movie (and simultaneously texting a friend about whether “fluttery feelings” are a prerequisite for dating #multitasking).  Today, we’ve got cookie-baking on the general to-do list, and then I’ve got another present to finish up and mail post-Christmas.  (I’m so late that it doesn’t even matter and I really want to miss the Christmas rush.)

ANYWAY.

Last Friday, I promised a review of Scrooged and Serendipity for my next Christmas Movie Marathon review.  (Click here to see all of my previous reviews.)  WELL.  We watched Scrooged last night, but since it’s been an entire year since I watched Serendipity and I can’t watch again without my sister (who’s in NC right now, doing Christmasy stuff with her boyfriend), it’ll have to wait.  (A preview of those reviews if you need a movie night recommendation – Scrooged was pure “meh” and Serendipity is everything.)  My review should be up sometime next week; probably Monday or Tuesday because we’re leaving for Christmas with the extended fam on Wednesday (and then you probably won’t hear anything from me ’til the new year, but I’ll try to get some posts queued).

ALL THAT TO SAY: Since that’s not happening, and as a make-up-slash-Christmas-gift, I’m going to post a fanfic I wrote as a Christmas present for a good friend a few years ago. Platonic Stucky, pre-First Avenger.  I’ll post half of it on Christmas Eve and the other half on Christmas Day.  Get ready.  😉

And actually I just realized that today is the seventh anniversary of my blog.  WOW.  If you want to see my first post, you’ll have to go back to my old blog.  Feel free to look around a bit; I’m embarrassed at how HORRIFIC some of the posts were, but it’s a testament to how far I’ve come.  *wink*  Yes, I used to be a Blogspot blog.  Yes, it was originally going to be a blog for my sister and I – which is the only way my dad would let me start one, being the tender age of barely-fifteen.

Gosh.  Reliving those days just a little.  We’d just moved to Georgia from North Carolina. My birthday had been, like, three weeks before, and we celebrated with the only friends I knew at the time – coincidentally, only because my mom had gone to high school with their mom and they’d reconnected at a reunion a while before.  I’d just discovered the blogosphere and was slowly learning about online friends.  (Not ashamed to say that sometimes it felt like my online friends were the only friends I had at the time.)

Now, seven years later, I’m graduating college, have so many friends that I can’t even count them all… and I’m finally – finally – loving everything I post on this little blog.  After seven years, some of my tastes have changed (I don’t post nearly as much about period dramas as I used to, namely because I’ve realized that it’s okay to like mainstream stuff and I don’t have to be Different From Other Girls {which I could write an entire post about, as I told Jessica the other day}), and I know my writing’s gotten better.  And, um, hello – my writing went from something I just did to fill the empty hours to something I realized I actually loved doing.  And I published a novel that I started writing somewhere around that point, so that’s kind of cool.

I just want to say thank you, reader, because without you, this blog would’ve died a long time ago.  Each pageview and follower and comment kept me going, even when I didn’t think it was worth it.  I love you all muchly.  Thanks for sticking with me all these years (or months or however long you’ve been reading).

an introduction: say hello to my new novel

So I think it’s time I reintroduced you guys to my newest novel, The Art of Letting Go.

Some of you may remember it from Camp NaNo last year, and the weekly updates I did (here’s week one, week two, week three, week three pt.2 (??? yeah, I don’t know how that works, either), and week four).  It’s been a while since I’ve talked about it because, frankly, I haven’t had too much time to work on it.  What with school (Junior status achieved = win), work, reading, obsessing over Peter Pan (thanks to this) and Anne of Green Gables (thanks to this) and Into the Woods (thanks to the movie, which I recently watched for the first time, and a local production that I’m playing violin for – SQUEEEE), singing along to random songs, and just trying to live life well, I haven’t found much time to work on it.

But it’s incredible what happens when I do get the chance to work on it.  Just look at this:

It hits me a few days after Valentine’s Day that the next hurdle I’ll have to jump will be the Senior Prom. I think about it as I fill orders for customers at Jerry’s, as I drive to and from school, during classes. The question I can’t seem to find an answer to – should I go and wish I could be with David, or should I stay home and miss my Senior Prom – haunts me.

I can’t stop thinking about it.

What would David want?

A few weeks before prom, I’m finishing the last of the homework I’d been assigned and the question is, for the millionth time, on my mind. I complete the essay, look over my work, and email a copy to my teacher for grading. Then, I close up my laptop and spin around in my chair, surveying my room.

I don’t know what David would want, I realize, staring at a picture of the two of us that’s hanging above my bed. I had it printed a few days before Valentine’s Day, finally deciding that it was time to look back on my relationship with him as a happy time in my life, not marked by sadness. At least, I think, rolling my eyes and pushing off my desk to spin the chair around, that’s the plan.

I pull my legs up and watch my room pass in a whirl around me. I feel like a human tornado, spinning around horrifically without wreaking havoc on the world around me. Sometimes I feel like this without being in the chair – like I’m a ticking time bomb that’ll go off in a chaotic swirl of emotion and wreck all the relationships I, somehow, still hold onto. The chair slowly stops and I’m left staring out the window, my body listing to the side as I try to reorient myself.

And sometimes I feel like this, I tell myself with a smile. Surveying the beauty with an inner calm that I can’t explain.

I frown. But that doesn’t solve The Prom Problem.

I sigh and stand up. I cross the room and am out the window in seconds. I sit down, pull my knees up to my chest, and lean back on the siding next to my window, watching the light fade from the sky. The sun’s already gone down, but there’s a faint light still in the sky, left over from its rays. I can already see the moon over the trees. I decide I will stay out here until the stars light up the sky.

I don’t know what it is about this project.  It feels like there’s a magical something that happens whenever I work on it.  I feel like I get this incredible blessing of being able to write beautiful things that have amazing potential (after editing, of course).

Or maybe it’s just me?  I don’t know.  If you guys think the above quote is awful or amazing, let me know.  (Seriously.  Comment.  I love comments.)

Anyway, the thing that scares me about The Art of Letting Go is what it’s about and, like what I said before, the potential it has.

BECAUSE THE THING HAS AMAZING POTENTIAL.

I’m just scared I won’t be able to reach that potential, you know?  I’m scared that it’ll fall flat and I won’t be able to accomplish what I want – which is to help people through grief and depression.

If you’re new here (first: HI!), the story’s about this girl named Daniella who witnesses her boyfriend get killed in a horrible school shooting.  Throughout the duration of the novel, she has to learn how to move on and let go.

At least, that’s what my initial idea was.  (Which I came up with literally a week before NaNo started.  Yeah.  Seems to be the Thing To Do ’round here.)

Since then, it’s morphed into so much more than that.  It’s about true friendship and depression and loss and how different things factor into our perspectives on life and when the words “moving on and letting go” seem easy and flippant and how actually doing that is JUST the opposite.

And it’s hard to write.  SWEET BUTTERED CRUMPETS, it is hard. to. write.  Especially when I know that I have this massive vision for what I want it to be and I feel like I can’t get it on the page.

The hardest, most daunting thing about The Art is that I’ve never gone through something as tragic as Danni.  (Praise God!)  I know The Number One Rule of Writing is “Write what you know,” so… I’ve had to write from empathy.  (But I have many issues with that rule, which I won’t go into, so I’ve basically ignored it while writing The Art.  We’ll see how that works for me.  Pinterest helps a ton.)

I also want the characters to seem real.  That’s one of my personal being-too-hard-on-myself critiques that I had for Becoming Nikki – looking back, it feels like the characters are, at times, a little too one-dimensional.

But that’s the thing about writing, I guess – you write to write and you write to get better.  I want the characters in The Art to be relatable and flawed and really fantastic.  I want my readers to be able to connect with Danni and David and Kyle and Mal and Matt.

So I guess that’s what’s been on my mind lately.  Trying to encapsulate this massive vision into a 200-page novel that grips readers and encourages them and changes them.  Nope, not hard at all.  (<—- Sarcasm.)

Anywho, I just wanted to re-introduce you guys to The Art (aka TAoLG, which is how I’ll probably reference it in the future) because it’s my current work-in-progress and I’m this close to being done writing it.  (*cries tears*)  It’s the story I want to try to publish via the traditional route, so it kinda has to be good.  I’ll probably rant about it more in the future, so… you’ve been warned.  😉

year in review: 2014

Wow.  When I think back on all of the things God has done in my life in 2014, I can only say one thing about this past year: WOW.

It’s been so crazy.  Absolutely insane.  I’ve done more this year than I have in my entire life.  I’ve had more opportunities, more blessings, more trials, and more responsibilities this year than ever before.  I know I’ve been changed for the better and for good because of what’s happened.

~January~
IMG_0405

  • My older sister, “Arwen,” left before the New Year to help a mother of four who had just been diagnosed with breast cancer, leaving me as the oldest at home.  She would be gone through June.  (The mother is doing much better, praise God!)
  • A good friend of the family passed away suddenly right after New Year’s Day, leaving behind eight children.  Prayers for their family would be appreciated, as the one-year anniversary is coming up.
  • A calendar event at 11am on January 1st simply says “Discovered coffee.”  This is probably more accurate than I’d like to admit.  🙂
  • Started working with my second CollegePlus coach after my first coach started maternity leave.
  • Started covering for Arwen with her two-day-a-week nannying job.  Promptly fell in love with the kids.  (The first day I picked them up was that big ice storm down here that you might have heard about.  You know, the one where all the Northerners laughed at all the Southerners for freaking out?  Yeah.  I’d like to see all of THEM try to drive on icy roads – that can’t really be fixed because we only have five ice trucks for the entire STATE – with two scared toddlers in the backseat.  My car spun out, but I saved it from crashing and killing the three of us.  It was insane.)

~February~
IMG_0878

  • Left for a week-long trip to Kentucky and Ohio.  Visited the Creation Museum again and stayed in Maysville, where Rosemary Clooney was born and raised.  My siblings and I still frequently reference all of the crazy things that happened during that trip, one of the better stories being that I finally got them addicted to Boy Meets World.  We watched an entire season in less than a week.  (We also got to watch a lot of the Sochi Olympics, and I really enjoyed seeing Meryl and Charlie compete!)
  • Struggled through my least favorite CLEP so far – Western Civ I – and finally finished it after two months of study.  *facepalm*  I took a week off after I passed it with flying colors (how that even worked out is still a mystery to me – I failed SEVEN practice tests and rescheduled it five times).

~March~

  • Started with my third CollegePlus coach (in less than a year).  Still working with her and love her to bits and pieces!
  • JellyBean’s first birthday and first Gotcha Day party!

~April~
IMG_1421

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier came out.  Feels ran rampant.
  • Nailed down my degree choice – Humanities with an emphasis on English and writing courses.
  • Started the first Leadership Course with Dr. Jeff Myers.  LOVED it.
  • Arwen came to visit.  We went to a wedding (my dad’s first that he officiated) and saw The Lion King.

~May~
IMG_9573

  • Although still pretty hectic, May became one of my more normal months.  No major things happened, and I focused on studying and editing Becoming Nikki.
  • Invited myself to ride with a friend and her family to Texas for the CPE3.  Plans are not laid down for several months, but I kept my fingers crossed ’til they are.
  • Started a new blog, feelsy feels, with Eva and Miss Jane.
  • Became a Sophomore in College.

~June~
IMG_0239

  • I and a few of my siblings volunteered for the children’s program at a homeschool conference, including being leaders of groups of children and participating in several skits.  Needless to say, we had a lot of fun.
  • Started the second Leadership Course.  Didn’t love it as much as the first one, but I still enjoyed it.
  • Failed my first CollegePlus test.  😦
  • Traveled to Texas with Mom to get Arwen.  I drove fourteen hours total, including one six-hour streak.  I started reading the Hunger Games trilogy (for the first time) the day we left and finished it in less than a week.  Again, feels ran rampant.

~July~
IMG_0662

  • Participated in NaNo for the third time, starting The Art of Letting Go based on an idea I got during the trip to Texas less than a week before.  Surprisingly, I still won.
  • My siblings and I went to Camp GrandmaHoney at our grandparents house with our cousins and, as usual, had a great time.  While we were there, I found out that the nannying job is mine for the keeping – YAY!

~August~

  • Started playing with the Reinhardt University Symphony Orchestra for the sixth year in a row.
  • Started talking to Morgan about helping me publish Nikki.
  • Hosted my first piano recital.  Both of my students played marvelously, and we had a night in while the parents went out for a double-date.
  • Discovered my hero, Louie Zamperini, after reading Unbroken for the first time.  I promptly started recommending it to everyone I know.

~September~
IMG_3019

  • Traveled to the beach with the family, have a blast for the first time in a long time.
  • Studied for and passed a test in five days.  🙂
  • THE CPE3 HAPPENS, WHICH WAS THE MOST AMAZING FIVE DAYS OF MY LIFE.
  • Found my best friend, who had been right under my nose for the past four years – I just didn’t know it because we never really talked.  All it took was a twelve-day cross-country trip.  Now we’re besties forevah.
  • Traveled for most of this month – home only eight days out of the entire month.  O_O

~October~

  • Started doing study dates with my BFF every Thursday before my nannying job.
  • Finished editing Nikki at three in the morning before my deadline, sent it off to Morgan, officially started the publishing process.  (!!!!!)
  • Passed the CollegePlus test I’d previously failed – WIN.

~November~
IMG_3030

  • Decided not to do NaNo in lieu of the fact that I knew I’d be swamped with publishing stuff.  (Boy, I was more right than I thought.)
  • Auditioned for a play, even though I didn’t get the part.  (Now I’ve got the acting bug.)
  • Played in my first wedding with Arwen.  It goes really well!

~December~

  • Attended a Hunter Hayes concert.  : ))))))))))
  • Graduated from being a teenager – YUSSSSSS.
  • Published my first novel, did my first blog tour, got my first paycheck related to my novel.  Things haven’t calmed down since.  🙂

So, yeah, my life has been pretty crazy over the past year.  So much happened in such a short amount of time!

IMG_4554Looking back, I still can’t believe all the things that have happened.  All the firsts, all the lasts, all of the memories and friends made…  It’s been a crazy ride.

My verse for the year was Joshua 1:7-9: “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

It’s been pretty amazing to see God work through this verse and make it so real to me in the craziness of the past year!  Yes, a ton of things have happened, but God has been so faithful and has given me strength and courage to do all of the amazing things I’ve been able to do this past year.  I’m so blessed!

Can’t wait for even more craziness in 2015!

well, that was fun.

I can’t believe how much fun this week was!  It felt a little weird to have my name and book all over the Internet (at least, all the sites I frequent), but I loved it.  : D

Thanks for sharing in this special time with me, you guys!  I’ve really been blessed by all of the comments and links posted to Facebook and Twitter – keep ’em coming!  I can’t wait to see what happens with Nikki and everything after that!

Below, you’ll find the updated schedule, complete with links to the posts.  Be sure to check out any that you may have missed – everybody had really unique questions!

OFFICIAL TOUR SCHEDULE

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

I’ve also got the PayPal link set up, so click here if you’d like an autographed copy!

Be sure to enter the Goodreads and Rafflecopter giveaways, if you haven’t already, ’cause they end tonight!

Once again, thank you so much for reading and commenting and all that jazz.  Love you guys!  ❤

fun facts about nikki

I promised this post a few days ago, but I’ve been swamped with things… one of which may be constantly refreshing my CreateSpace Member Dashboard.  🙂  Anywho, here it is, to start finishing of what has been a WONDERFUL week!

  • Lisa Brenner2

    Lisa Brenner (Natalie)

    Natalie Fraser’s last name is borrowed from Hadley Fraser.

  • Bennett’s first line is “Hey!” He’s also one of my favorite characters, basically only because half of the things he says are pick-up lines. He’s adorably awkward.

  • How many references did you understand? (Some of them were really vague and hidden. Like that one. Har-har.)

  • The chocolate cake that Nikki gets from Ferguson’s is based off the AMAZING flourless chocolate cake that I love from Alpine Bakery in Alpharetta. Totally worth it if you’re ever in North Georgia.

  • 14[1]

    Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Alec)

    Nikki was originally titled ‘TJCRW,’ which stands for ‘The June Crusade Re-Write.’ I called it “T. J. Crew” for about 2 ½ years as I wrote and edited it, not coming up with a title until well into the editing process. Heh…

  • I did so much research for Nikki. This impacted my writing because I’d never researched that much before. I’d always followed the idea that you should only “write what you know.” Well, excuuuuuse me, but some of my favorite books are in the sci-fi and fantasy genre. (I’ve even written something in the fantasy genre!) After much internal discussion with my inner writer and inner editor, I decided that I could write what I know and write what I didn’t know – all thanks to many hours spent on Wikipedia and YouTube. I even joined an ice skating forum!

  • imagesCAVOJCRV

    Alexis Bledel (Nikki)

    Nikki was originally supposed to be more like Allie – your stereotypical, self-absorbed teen. Alec’s first-draft-girlfriend, a girl named Carrie, would be the one to make Nikki change into the sweet, softly passionate girl she is in the final version. When I changed tactics with Nikki’s personality, Carrie got thrown out and Allie replaced her.

  • Even though I’ve written a lot of short stories in the past – and started several novels – Nikki was the first idea that really gripped me and demanded that I finish (and then publish) it.

  • In the very beginning of the plotting stages, Dylan had a sixteen-year-old sister named Hayden. She was replaced by Natalie (who had previously only been a minor character). Dylan was also supposed to be a minor character, too – a typical jock that Alec had befriended when he first started going to high school. As I delved deeper into the story and characters, I decided that I didn’t want this to be a typical story full of typical characters. Let’s just hope I strayed enough from the stereotypes!

  • Nikki’s mom’s name is Ansley Scott.

  • Dylan6

    Michael Bolten (Dylan) (I also went crazy and character-cast Richard Armitage as Older Dylan. You’re welcome.)

    Confession: I never character-casted Bennett.  : (  (Although I do know EXACTLY who I want to play him if there’s ever a movie made of Nikki.  But that’s a secret that only a VERY few people know.)

  • I kept a running list of all of the possible titles for Becoming Nikki, including…
    • You and Me (Too romantic)
    • Dancing My Fears Away (Umm???)
    • So She Dances (Based on the Josh Groban song ❤ )
    • The Sister He Can’t Remember (YAWN)
    • Becoming Me (which eventually morphed to Becoming Nikki)

I can’t really think of any other tidbits about Nikki that I think are interesting. (Probably because it’s been in my mind for the past few years and has consumed the past few weeks of my life…) However, there might be things that you guys are wondering about. Ask any questions you have about Nikki in the comment section!