currently.

{note: this is an update post on my ridiculously crazy life. all of my creative energy seems to be spent on polishing my novel and, well, you’ll see. i’ll be back with thought-out posts soon, i promise.}

reading: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I’m like a third of the way through it, but still feeling “meh” about it because no one told me that it doesn’t have the characters from Illuminae in it. So I’m slightly irritated. Next on the list are Ready Player One, This Savage Song, and Wonder. Oh, and I’m also reading Before You Meet Prince Charming. *sigh* If you follow me on Goodreads, you already know my thoughts on it, but, to sum up, I’m pretty “meh” about this, too. The ideas in this book are so close to truth (and some of them are), but then they’re taken to the extreme. (For instance, did you know that “watching TV is like dating the world”? I quoted that verbatim – you can find it in the book yourself if you don’t believe me.) So yeah. My thoughts on that book will probably take at least one post, so look forward to that at some point when I’m done slogging my way through this book.

watching: Band of Brothers. Oh. My. Gosh. So amazing. It’s now one of my favorite war movies (or mini-series, I guess). I was so emotional on July 4th this year because my siblings and I watched that, and then Hacksaw Ridge, the week before. Talk about feels. I’m also watching a few of Chris Evans’s lesser-known movies, and they’re great! My sibs & I also watched Robin Hood: Men In Tights for the first time the other night (the first in our Mel Brooks marathon), and I loved it! Speaking of marathons, I’m also on a John Hughes kick as well. The Breakfast Club is one of my favorite movies now, and I can’t wait to watch the rest of his films. I watched Sixteen Candles the other night and marveled at the fact that the director of Spider-Man: Homecoming (another EXCELLENT film, btw; definitely a favorite as well) wanted to give Homecoming a Hughes feel, so the cast had a marathon one day. The result is pretty obvious!

listening: Anything by AJR (esp “Weak” & “Come Hang Out”) and Jon Bellion (esp “Maybe IDK” & “Human”). I’m obsessed with both. I’ve also been on an Idina Menzel kick lately because I saw her in concert on Saturday night and I’m still not over it. She’s amazing, y’all. Towards the end, she sang the beginning of “For Good” without a mic or accompaniment, and it was flawless. Literal queen. If/Then is a current go-to soundtrack if I need something fun to listen to (provided I skip some feelsy songs that make me cry).

writing: The Art of Letting Go, obvs. I’m still working through my beta-readers’ critiques, and it’s actually been going VERY well. The fourth draft (post-critiques) is better than anything I ever thought I could write, and that’s 100% due to my amazing readers who have given me feedback and helped me shape it into something amazing. Someone even went so far as to give me nine pages full of questions to answer, and that’s making the most impact. (You know who you are and I love you.) Also, recent events have gotten me PUMPT for my next novel (Pinterest board to be revealed soon *cue fanfare music*), so I’m pretty psyched about that.

celebrating: OH and I got my first rejection letter the other day, so that was actually pretty great. I got myself some ice cream after I got the email (which was so sweet, btw!). I was a little disappointed, sure, but I was more excited than anything else. After all, an actual agent read the first ten pages of my novel, and if that’s not cool, I don’t know what is. (Well, having someone actually ask for the whole thing would be pretty cool, too, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.)

working: I’ve had some pretty extensive time off my nannying job this month, so I filled it first with going to my grandparents’ house for a week with my cousins (we had a Clue night where we dressed as the characters as we played the game, and it was a highlight of my life). I also did a temp job as a saleswoman that I absolutely fell. in. love. with (and may or may not have applied for a full-time position because I loved it so much), so that was pretty cool. The pay ain’t too shabby, either. Plus, that incredibly adult feeling of being a productive member of society and having a purpose and something worthy to fill the day with was pretty great, too.

acting: Oh and I’m in a play. That’s been the biggest thing that’s happened lately and it’s honestly filling my life with so much joy. It’s a kids play at a local theatre, and one of my best friends is in it, so I went about a month ago to listen to her read and ended up being given a part after someone dropped out. Long story short, tech week starts tonight and we open on Friday. After wanting to be in a play for literally ten years, it’s so amazing to finally have it happen, even if it’s a play for kids. (Which is even better because experience is experience!) I’m bonding with all of these amazing people and it’s been so much fun. I’m already dreading closing night! (My life has revolved around theatre lately and I don’t hate it. Saturday, I went to rehearsal, then came home, took a nap, and then went to see Idina. Then, Sunday, I hung out with friends who were in town before seeing my brother steal the show as the Tin Man in a local production of The Wizard of Oz before bringing another friend home to work on makeup for our show! Like I said, theatre life isn’t too bad.)

So, yeah. All of my creative juices seem to be taken up by this novel and this play. I swear I’ll be back soon with posts more worthy of your time (and less self-focused, GOSH, but I wanted to tell you guys all of these things that didn’t warrant entire posts), but for right now, I’ve gotta go back to writing before leaving for rehearsal early to find some glittery eyeliner and snake tattoos!

the book tag.

Screen-Shot-2016-09-19-at-3.09.37-PM-2.png

{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.  ❤

love week | fictional guys i’d totally marry.

Hello all!  Welcome to the week of Valentine’s Day, which usually finds me and my single friends eating chocolate and watching sappy movies.  (The same can probably be said of you, too, if you’re single – don’t even try to lie to me.)  This week, I’m going to be indulging in all things romantic, because even if I’m not in a relationship, I can at least enjoy the fictional people who are, right?

fictional guys i'd totally marry.jpg

I was going to write a blog post on my favorite fictional couples, but it turns out I already did that (and my post is pretty dang great, so check it out).  I’ve also done post after post after post about being single (going twenty-two years strong, how’s that for a RECORD), so read those, too.

So since my sister is getting flowers from a male non-relative who likes her for the second year in a row, I’m going to think about all the fictional guys I’d totally marry if they existed.

No judgment, guys.  You and I both know that I have Standards and A List, and I probably wouldn’t actually marry half of these guys, but it’s fun to pretend, so… no judgment.

Anne-and-Gil-talking.jpgGilbert Blythe | Anne of Green Gables

Because who the crap could resist those beautiful eyes, that dazzling smile, and just his entire winning personality???  Anne tried, but couldn’t for long.  He’d tease you but he’d also love the heck outta you.  I’m down for that.

“There would never be anyone for me but you. “

Levi Stewart | Fangirl

This one’s obvious – he loves books (even though he can’t read very well), he’s a fanboy, he’s super sweet and super funny, and he works at Starbucks and makes his own unique drinks – which he brings to Cather.  I mean, it’s a win-win-win.

When she opened her door, Levi was sitting in the hallway, his legs bent in front of him, hunched forward on his knees. He looked up when she stepped out.
“I’m such an idiot,” he said.
Cath fell between his knees and hugged him.
“I can’t believe I said that,” he said. “I can’t even go nine hours without seeing you.”

Neville Longbottom | Harry Potter

Nev wasn’t much to look at when he was younger (I blame it on the fake teeth and fatsuits they put Matt in, because he wasn’t that ugly in the book) and he’s a tad forgetful, but he’s got a heart of gold.  Plus, he bailed Harry out more than once.  What’s not to love?

“I’ll join you when Hell freezes over,” said Neville. “Dumbledore’s Army!” he shouted, and there was an answering cheer from the crowd, whom Voldemort’s Silencing Charms seemed unable to hold.

HIS. EYES..pngPeeta Mellark | The Hunger Games

M’KAY, listen UP.  My college/career Bible study got into a heated debate about Gale vs. Peeta and I’m pretty sure Team Peeta won because (1) he saved Katniss’s life more than once, (2) Gale basically killed Prim, and (3) he’s such a strong guy – physically, emotionally, and mentally.  I’ll always be Team Peeta.

“We were five. You had a plaid dress and your hair…it was in two braids instead of one. … So that day, in music assembly, the teacher asked who knew the valley song. Your hand shot right up in the air. She put you up on a stool and had you sing it for us. And I swear, ever bird outside the windows fell silent. And right when your song ended, I knew -just like your mother- I was a goner.”

Faramir | Lord of the Rings

My siblings and I just recently introduced some friends to Lord of the Rings, and watching the extended versions all over again rekindled my love for this man.  He’s selfless, sacrificial, and willing to do anything for those he loves (even his deadbeat dad, who doesn’t love him at all).  Move over, Eowyn – I’d marry this guy so hard.

“Then must I leave my own people, man of Gondor?” she said. “And would you have your proud folk say of you: ‘There goes a lord who tamed a wild shieldmaiden of the North! Was there no woman of the race of Numenor to choose?”
“I would,” said Faramir. And he took her in his arms and kissed her under the sunlit sky, and he cared not that they stood high upon the walls in the sight of many.

Mac Campbell | Rose in Bloom

If you know who this guy is, bless you.  He’s a bookworm, super smart, and just the sweetest little pumpkin that there ever was.  The first time I read Eight Cousins, I knew I loved him, and Rose in Bloom just cemented my adoration for this guy.

“What have you decided to be, Mac?” asked Rose, as they went up the avenue side by side.
“A man first, and a good one if possible; after that, what God pleases.”
Something in the tone, as well as the words, made Rose look up quickly into Mac’s face, to see a new expression there.  It was indescribable; but she felt as if she had often done when watching the mists part suddenly, giving glimpses of some mountaintop, shining serene and high against the blue.
“I think you will be something splendid; for you really look quite glorified, walking under this arch of yellow leaves with the sunshine on your face,” she exclaimed, conscious of a sudden admiration never felt before; for Mac was the plainest of all the cousins.
“I don’t know about that; but I have my dreams and aspirations, and some of them are pretty high ones.  Aim at the best, you know, and keep climbing if you want to get on,” he said, looking at the asters with an inward sort of smile, as if he and they had some sweet secret between them.

dylan-dylan-ox27brien-hot-sexy-beast-Favim.com-1068521.pngStiles Stalinski | Teen Wolf

Here’s where my “no judgment” rule comes in.  Don’t ask how I found this show, why I started watching it, or how far into it I am.  Never mind, I’ll give you one answer – I started watching it because of Dylan O’Brien, whom I love, which is obviously the reason why I love Stiles.  He’s hilarious, loyal, and – as much as he denies it – heroic.

“The ten-year plan for making Lydia fall in love with me may have to stretch to fifteen, but the plan is definitely still in motion.”

Chandler Bing | F.R.I.E.N.D.S

I don’t love Chandler as much as I am him, which is probably why our marriage wouldn’t last a year, but I’d still take him.  I’ve always wanted to marry a funny guy, and Chandler is a million times that, plus he’s got a super-sweet heart and a genuinely caring spirit.  I’ll take it, even if it’d only last a little while.  (But then I’d give him back to Monica because they’re my otp.)

“I thought that it mattered what I said or where I said it. Then I realized the only thing that matters is that you, you make me happier than I ever thought I could be.  And if you’ll let me, I will spend the rest of my life trying to make you feel the same way.  Monica, will you marry me?”

Shawn Hunter | Boy Meets World

SHAWN IS MY PRECIOUS BABY AND I WILL LOVE HIM ‘TIL THE DAY I DIE.  No kidding, I liked him in the first episode, but I really loved him around Episode 17 – The Fugitive (you know, the episode where he blows up a mailbox).  I just want to love and protect him and give him everything he ever deserved that the world never gave him.  Everything – and I do mean everything – went wrong for him, yet he emerged stronger than anyone thought possible.  GAH.

Cory: Okay, so after the prom, romance in the air, you and Angela, you’re gonna look in each other’s eyes, and…
Shawn: Me and Angela? I don’t know. Maybe. What do you think, we sat down and discussed it? How dorky do you think we are? What about you and Topanga?
Cory: We sat down and discussed it.

Captain-America-The-Winter-Soldier-Chris-Evans1.jpgSteve Rogers | Captain America

Chivalric hero from the ’40s with a super hot body?  Heck yes I would.

Peggy: You have no idea how to talk to a woman, do you?
Steve: I think this is the longest conversation I’ve had with one.  Women aren’t exactly lining up to dance with a guy they might step on.
Peggy: You must have danced…
Steve: Well, asking a woman to dance always seemed so terrifying.  And in the past few years, it just didn’t seem to matter that much.  Figured I’d wait.
Peggy: For what?
Steve: Right partner.

Sir Percy Blakeney | The Scarlet Pimpernel

The same exact sentence for the guy above could literally be used for Percy, so… heck yes I would again.  I own four (4) copies of The Scarlet Pimpernel, various paperback copies of the other books, and I think I’ve read ten out of the sixteen books (and El Dorado is the best).  I love this guy.

Had he but turned back then, and looked out once more on to the rose-lit garden, she would have seen that which would have made her own sufferings seem but light and easy to bear–a strong man, overwhelmed with his own passion and despair. Pride had given way at last, obstinacy was gone: the will was powerless. He was but a man madly, blindly, passionately in love and as soon as her light footstep had died away within the house, he knelt down upon the terrace steps, and in the very madness of his love he kissed one by one the places where her small foot had trodden, and the stone balustrade, where her tiny hand had rested last.

George Knightley | Emma

My first reading of this book (don’t hate me; I’m just now going through my classics phase) basically cemented my love for this guy – and also the fact that Jonny Lee Miller will always be the best Knightley fIGHT ME.

“I cannot make speeches, Emma:” he soon resumed; and in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably convincing.—“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am.—You hear nothing but truth from me.—I have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have borne it.—Bear with the truths I would tell you now, dearest Emma, as well as you have borne with them. The manner, perhaps, may have as little to recommend them. God knows, I have been a very indifferent lover.—But you understand me.—Yes, you see, you understand my feelings—and will return them if you can. At present, I ask only to hear, once to hear your voice.”

nup_176073_0799-h_2016.jpg

Jack Pearson | This is Us

Jess who?  Move over, kid – Milo’s back and this time he’s even better than you.  Jack is literally the best male character on the small screen today.  Dad goals, husband goals, friend goals – just everything goals.  In the words of Rebecca, his oh-so-lucky wife, he’s “freaking Superman.”  I’ve loved gushing over him with my mom friends at the preschool playground and I know that I’ll still be gushing over him over the next few years as the show progresses.

“You know, when I was a little boy, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Adults always ask little kids that.  I never had a good answer – not ’til I was twenty-eight.  Until the day that I met you.  That’s when I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wanted to be the man that made you happy.”

What about you?  Any men you’d totally take?  I claim all of these guys, though… at least ’til I find an actual real-life male non-relative to obsess over.  😉

coffee session | some things i’ve learned recently.

f57958db3c97894f71b7a7a9fbeddfc5.jpg

(for le blog aesthetic / not mine)

You know the drill.  Grab a cup of coffee, listen to some music, and let’s have a chat.  (My side of the conversation is below; feel free to share yours in the comments!)

*sips coffee*

So my sister got some toffee nut syrup from Starbucks a few weeks ago and y ‘ a l l.  It’s so good.  Makes her mad when I “borrow” it, but it makes my coffee soooo yummyyyyyy.  (Why yes, I am drinking it right now – why do you ask?)

*sips coffee again*

I have a coaching call in literally one minute but I’m here writing out this post and if that doesn’t say something about my time management skills, I don’t know what will.

What’s a coaching call, you ask?  WELL.  CollegePlus – Lumerit, SORRY – is a distance-learning thing, and the thing the company does to keep you on track is give you a coach that calls you once every two weeks to chat about your life and your schooling and how it’s all going – and, most importantly, how you’re handling it all.

{musical interlude while I do my call}

Anyway, my coach is amazing and I love her to death.  She’s my fourth coach because I had three coaches in a year and let. me. tell. you. – that was not fun.  But she’s an angel and I think I love her best out of the three.  If I pass my last two courses (fingers crossed because they’re a little harder than I thought they’d be), I’ll be finished in March and that’s kinda sad because I’m going to miss talking to her every few weeks!  Plus she’s getting married, so that’s pretty dang exciting.

*sips coffee*

(it’s actually the next day and i’ve got coffee again and… yeah.  me in a nutshell)

So the Dear Evan Hansen soundtrack came out the other night and oh my gosh.  It is all kinds of wonderful.  Seriously, I don’t know that I’ve related to a musical so much.  It’s so needed, too.  Such a beautiful, beautiful thing.  Listen to it.  If you’ve only got time for one song, listen to this one.  And really listen to it – turn it on, put headphones in, close your eyes, and just sit for a minute.  It’ll make you day a million times better.

I stayed up ’til after 1am listening to it when it came out, first laughing and dancing and dramatically lip-syncing in the bathroom and then sobbing while curled up in my bed with the blankets over my head.  Because that’s just the kind of musical that it is.

*sips coffee*

Like I mentioned before, college is hard.  I knew that going into it, and all the courses I’ve done have been different kinds of difficult, but… dang, these last two.  I’ve cried more over these than I have over any other course in my entire four years of college – which is kind of a lot because I don’t get stressed too easily.

I’ve always been super hard on myself, and have always had high expectations for myself, beating myself up inwardly if I didn’t meet those expectations.  I’ve always known that it’s probably not best for me to do that (LOL) but I’ve always let it slide because how else will I do anything well?

WELL.  All of the stress – courses, moving, trying to finish a freaking novel – came to a head over the last two-ish weeks (hence why I haven’t posted anything in a while – sorry, guys).  And it was bad.

Because I used to not get stressed too easily and then I was stressed literally all the time, I had to figure out how to take care of myself.  Definitely not by lowering my expectations for myself – because how stupid is that – but by not beating myself up in addition to everything else that’s putting pressure onto me.

SO.  While I certainly do. not. have. the. answers. (as evidenced by the fact that I still get stressed easily and will most likely cry over these courses again next week – looking forward to it), here are some things I’ve learned.

First and foremost, ask God for help.  Literally, this is the best thing you can do.  I think worrying is just being blinded by your own incompetence, so it’s a great idea to lean on the One who is good at everything, right?  Ask God for help and He’ll guard your heart with His peace that passes understanding.   Approach His throne with boldness and He’ll give you grace.

Second, figure out what’s giving you the most stress and see if you can relieve some of the stress.  Is your room a wreck but you don’t have time to clean it?  Do it in steps: Make your bed one day, take five minutes to pick up all the clothes the next day, spend ten minutes on it instead of on Facebook the day after that (which should be the first thing because we all need reasons to stay off Facebook these days).  Family member making you stressed?  Get out of the house, if only just to spend some time in the backyard or something; use headphones to shut it all out for a little while; or, better yet, encourage them to get out of the house.  (There’s almost nothing better than having an entire house to yourself.)  School giving you trouble?  Find someone who can help, work on it in spurts, set deadlines for yourself, reward yourself.

Which brings me to my third idea, the one I’ve been learning the most about recently:

SELF. CARE.

This is literally one of the best things you can do for yourself.  I’ve found that it’s mostly talked about in the realm of people who have depression, mental illnesses, self-harm issues, or other issues like that, which is kind of a shame because everybody could use it.

I’m so glad I started to learn about self-care personally, because it’s changed how I cope with things.  Instead of just bottling up the stress and pushing forward and never giving myself a break, I know how to deal with it in a better way now.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve learned how to reward myself when I’ve done my best by taking breaks after a long study session and curling up with a good book or guilty pleasure show.  (I’m halfway through the second season of said guilty pleasure show and halfway through the book I’ve been rewarding myself with.)  I set aside a day a week to work on my novel, which is a good idea because it needs to get done, it’s part of my massive final project, and it’s getting me into a good routine for when I’m done with college and can focus solely on my writing.

Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t work hard anymore.  Far from it, actually.  I’ve found that making myself take breaks has made me work even harder – and better.  My writing has improved, my focus has improved, and my general attitude towards life has improved.

Plus, it’s always nice to have unexpected blessings, like spending the day with a good friend or your mom surprising you with gluten-free cupcakes.

All in all, my life has been pretty crazy lately, but mostly in good ways.  I’ll probably be here less, but I’ll come back when I can.

Have some laughing babies.

excerpt | the art of letting go.

You guys are amazing and so sweet and I love you all dearly and because I love you, I’m going to give you an excerpt of The Art – the opening scenes.  *Jeremy Jordan voice* But first a story…

I worked on my novel for three or four hours at Starbucks last Friday and – y’all.  Y’allllll.  It was actually so much better than I remembered it.  The little things I loved about it, the general idea of it in my head – all of it was still there.  Obviously, there was a little to work on.  Wording that I rolled my eyes over, phrases that just needed to be cut because my readers aren’t stupid (and I hate it when authors write down to their readers and don’t want to become one), etc etc.  I got through the first two chapters, reworking the beginning to include a scene I wrote for a course last semester.  And it turned out pretty dang good!  I’m really excited about continuing to work on it over this semester – and not nearly as nervous.

So, I was going to write an update post on Sunday (because I was busy watching La La Land, meeting Veronica Roth and getting her to sign her newest book, Carve the Mark, for me, then talking to the owner of a bookstore about working there – as you do on a Saturday).  But then I got my first grade back from one of the last college courses I’m doing (the TESU Capstone, which is kind of a big deal)… and it was pretty bad.  Not only that, the professor said he was “personally disappointed” in me.  To say the least, I was pretty low for a few days.  That night, I ate ice cream and watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower (which was amazing), then, the next day, got back to my school again.  I had to focus really hard on the next paper – a ten-page literature review *rolls eyes* – but I got it done and the immediate pressure is over so I’m back to write this super late update.  (Also, a friend of mine read The Art and loved it, so that makes me feel a whole lot better.  {pleasedon’thatemeforgivingittoher.})

AAAAAAANYWAY.  It’s been a rough week but it’s almost over, and in celebration of that (and, again, as thanks for being such amazing followers), here are the opening scenes from The Art of Letting Go.  Enjoy.  🙂


The Art of Letting Go | Chapter One – April 12th, 2012.

My eyes flutter open at six-thirty, and I lie there, watching the sunrise slowly light up my room, waiting. Five minutes later, right on cue, my phone buzzes. I smile, roll over slowly, and pick up my phone.

‘Morning, Peach! <3’

My smile widens a little and I yawn before replying, ‘Good morning! Get your workout in?’

The reply comes seconds later. ‘Yep. So ready for Friday!’

‘You’ll crush them, babe.’

‘No duh! Now go get ready!!!’

I drop my phone on the bed beside me, sit up, and stretch. Good morning, world! I toss the decorative pillows back on my partially-made bed and head downstairs, cautiously looking around for Dad. He’s not around – probably already at work – so I check my social media while my single cup of coffee brews. When it’s done, I bring it upstairs and start on my makeup, thinking about my outfit and the day ahead as I brush and blend.

I put my earbuds in, even though I’m the only one in the house – what can I say; it’s a habit – and start up an episode of Thyme Traveler on my phone. I’ve already seen all of the available seasons, so I’m rewatching the whole thing before the next season starts in the fall. I make sure to pick a more lighthearted episode. The last time I did this while putting on my makeup, I watched a season finale and cried. Mascara went everywhere. What a mess, I remember, grinning.

Twenty minutes later, I glance at the clock beside my bed and stop the episode before I get sucked in any more. I finish up and quickly pull on my favorite pair of jeans, then switch them out for shorts, remembering how warm it’ll probably be. Yanking a tank top over my head, I slip into some sandals and pull my messenger bag over my shoulder. I barely have time to transfer my coffee to a to-go cup before running out the door.

I drive to school with the radio up and the window down so the wind can blow in my hair. I’ve done this nearly every day of my junior year and I know it’s made a vast improvement on my perspective on the day. With a little over a year of school left, I can’t imagine not doing this every day. How hard is it to just leave the building you’ve spent most of your waking hours in for the last four years? More than that, to leave and head off into the unknown? True, I’ll spend the next four years after that in another series of buildings… but it seems so different. So much more adult.

My grip on the steering wheel tightens, but I force myself to take deep breaths to try to relax.

I stop at a red light and close my eyes. I’ve got David. We’re going to college together. Everything’s going to be okay. It’s not that big of a deal. Time to grow up.

I open my eyes and mouth this over and over again as I drive the remaining mile. It’s become my mantra over the past few weeks. David helped me with it. Every time I feel the anxiety start to rise, I just repeat it a few times. It usually helps. As David’s graduation date approaches – and mine still remains a year away – it’s getting a little harder. But David is always there to calm me down.

He really is the best boyfriend a girl could ask for, I muse, finally starting to calm down as I pull into the parking lot. I make a mental note to buy him something special on our date tonight.

I enter the building, a smile on my face. The halls are overrun with teenagers, all laughing and teasing and kissing and shouting and running, standing in poorly-formed circles or small groups. All are enjoying a few final moments of freedom before the bell rings.

“Daniella!”

I feel a hand on my arm and turn with a smile. “Hey, babe.”

“Morning, Peach,” David says, wrapping his arms around me. I bury my head in his chest, inhaling the sweet, spicy smell of his cologne. “Sleep well?”

“Mm-hmm.” I close my eyes, soaking in the moment. I could stay here forever.

The moment ends a few seconds later when I finally pull myself away from the security of David’s arms. The cheerful, warm-and-fuzzy feeling stays with me, however. It always does.

We walk down the hall towards our lockers, side by side. This is how we first met. Daniella James and David Jamison. Our lockers have been next to each other ever since I changed schools two years ago. David was the first person to greet me, the first to help me find my class, and the first to make me feel welcome. We’ve been friends ever since. Last year, he asked me to be his girlfriend. I’ve been in a constant state of bliss ever since.

“Are we still on for tonight?” he asks, taking my hand, his fingers entwining with mine.

“Of course,” I answer, swinging his hand back and forth and feeling myself get hypnotized by his Jolly Rancher green eyes.

“Good.” He flashes that billion-dollar grin of his that lights up his entire face and, in turn, the rest of the world. I smile back, once again realizing how lucky I am.

“Think you’ll win the game on Friday night?” I ask, letting go of his hand to get my geometry book out of my locker.

“Absolutely.” He folds his arms across his muscular chest and leans against his locker, facing me. “Peachtree City High has been an easy win for the past four years. I wouldn’t count on anything changing.”

“Me, neither.”
“And you’ll be cheering me on from the sidelines, right?” he asks with a wink.

“Absolutely,” I reply, shutting my locker door. I spin the lock and turn to face him, tilting my head a little. “There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”

David’s smile softens and he leans forward to rest his forehead on mine. Then, he whispers, “That’s why I love you.”

In an instant, I melt. “I love you, too.”

David quickly kisses my forehead before straightening up. “See you at practice?”

“See you,” I reply.

He waves and vanishes into the crowd. I smile and watch him over my shoulder as I walk away. Suddenly, I feel my books being knocked out of my hands. “Hey!” I exclaim, staring at the books.

“I’m so sorry,” the guy replies, kneeling down to pick up my books.

I recognize the head of hair below me and roll my eyes. “Kyle, you’re such a klutz.”

Kyle looks up, relief plainly written on his face. “Oh, it’s just you.” He grins sheepishly. “Sorry, Danni.”

I put a hand on my hip and raise my eyebrows. “Just me? Excuse you.”

“I was worried that it was, like, some new kid or – even worse – a hot girl.”

Excuse me?!”

Kyle stands and puts the books back into my hands. “You know what I mean.”

I squint and lean into his face. “I hate you.”

Kyle smiles with that lopsided grin that is uniquely his just as the first bell rings. “Same to you. Hey, are you gonna be able to come to the photography showcase tonight?”

I frown slightly and start walking towards class. Kyle keeps my pace beside me and waits expectantly for an answer. “Why would I come, Ky? Besides seeing your beautiful photographs, that is.”

“Well, that, obviously, and because you’re a cheerleader and that’s what they do – come to photography showcases and cheer for their favorites. Right?” I laugh and he elbows me. “Right?”

“Right,” I say, checking my phone. A second later, I put my phone back in my pocket and elbow him back. “If I can get off work early, I’ll come. Eight, at the library?”

“Yup,” Kyle says, stopping in front of a classroom. He waves to someone inside, turns to me, points his index finger at my face, says, “Be there!” and saunters into the classroom.

I roll my eyes and head off to class.


Thoughts???

year in review: 2016.

{this post is finally done.  i feel like it’s taken me forever to write it, and it’ll take you almost as long to read it.  so i’m sorry, and if you read the whole thing… bless you.}

Can we agree that 2016 was just an all-around bad year?  I mean this for the world in general.  So many deaths and shootings – not to mention the atrocity that was the US presidential election.

{Side Tangent: In a previous draft, I said something about Carrie Fisher being okay.  Well, that’s not true anymore (for Debbie Reynolds, either) and I don’t know how to process that.  I’ve thought about it a lot and I think the reason there have been so many celebrity deaths this year is because God’s reminding us that our time here is so limited.  When we were young, we felt so infinite.  The days were long and death seemed so far away.  But that’s not true.  I’m not going to remind you to spend your time wisely because I know you’ve heard it before.  So just… cherish it.  And know that we’re all a little less infinite than we think we are.}

My personal year wasn’t quite as bad, and I think it ends up fitting with my year-long prayer, taken from this song:

“God, it has been quite a year-
I’ve lived a little bit and I’ve died a little more.
I know that I’ve asked it before,
But please let the scale tip here in my favor.”

I think it has.  This year has been full of disappointments and things that stress me out (pretty sure I had a full-on anxiety attack back in July and let. me. tell. you – that was not fun).  Even so, this year has been full of really good firsts – first crush I’ve told people about, first trip to Universal (and two trips to Disney whattheevenheck), first girls-only trip…  It’s been good.  Though I’ve had my fair share of bad things, I know I’m better for it.  While I wish some things hadn’t happened, I’m glad they shaped me into the person I am today.

Regardless of how terrible the year has been, at least we made it this far, right?

As always, this yearly review is mostly just for me to look back on throughout the year, and you can read the whole thing or just skim it.  (And, if you’re interested, here are the links to the other years I’ve done: 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015.)

January

IMG_7468.JPG

my siblings and i // first day at disney

February

  • Studied a heck ton, nannied a heck ton
  • Younger siblings went to a retreat, so I had a special time with my older sister and my parents, watching movies that they’re not allowed to watch yet and talking about Stuff.
  • Hosted a single-girls Valentine’s Day party (where we ate cookies and watched Julie & Julia) and chaperoned (from afar) as my sister got roses from a guy.
  • Discovered About Time – aka one of my favorite movies ever.
  • Went to Disney World for the first time in 15 years with the fam
  • Met the Taylors
  • Studied: American Lit CLEP (1/16-2/16) // Principles of Marketing CLEP (2/16-3/16) // BYU’s Writing for Children and Adolescents (2/16-6/16)
  • Read: More Happy Than NotThe Help, and Me Before You
  • Favorite Blog Posts: my thoughts during a Starbucks study session and my unplanned Valentine’s Day series – twelve ships I ship, a mushy snippet from my novel, and my thoughts on love

March

  • Again, studied and nannied a heck ton
  • Bought Jordan Taylor’s album (because I felt more connected after meeting him, duh)
  • Rediscovered Sherlock (long story)
  • Freaked out about all of the Mother’s Day posts on Instagram, only to discover that it was just Mother’s Day in the UK.  (However, since I was out of the house, I bought flowers and surprised my mom with them.  I’ll definitely be doing that again this year.)
  • BECAME A SENIOR
  • Ups and downs with my sleeping habits (definitely something I’m going to fix next year)
  • Discovered Downton Abbey and Mission Impossible
  • Watched the livestream of Daddy Long Legs, one of my favorite musicals
  • Uploaded first video to YouTube (you’ll have to hunt it down bc I’m not leaving the link here LOL)
  • In charge while Mom & Dad went to a marriage conference for a week (during which I watched too much Downton Abbey and stayed up too late)
  • Studied: Principles of Marketing CLEP (2/16-3/16) // BYU’s Writing for Children and Adolescents (2/16-6/16)
  • Read: The Boxcar ChildrenFar from the Madding Crowd, Frindle, A Thief in the Theater, Red Rising, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikryand The Bronte Plot
  • Favorite Blog Posts: my big post about my thoughts on Harry Potter, my “flatmates” story, my thoughts about romanticizing the past, and my 5-years-in-the-making blog post, “movies i don’t like.

April

  • Watched the High School Musical movies with a friend
  • Went to the first wedding of the year (and first since 2014, I think)
  • Started watching more movies by myself (bc I’m tired of waiting on my siblings and bc I have a brother whose opinion we have to consider) (movies include 17 Again, 13 Going On 30, and Napoleon Dynamite)
  • Literally have a note in my journal that says “2pm-3pm – Question Everything.”  Basically, yeah.
  • Discovered The Great British Baking Show.  HECK YES.
  • Had coffee with a friend and talked about her recent engagement, told her I didn’t have any guys in my life and wasn’t going to be interested in any until I graduated, Discovered A Guy that night (again, long story)
  • Officially met one of my new best friends
  • Studied: BYU’s Writing for Children and Adolescents (2/16-6/16)
  • Read: Roomies, All the Bright Places, After Youand Golden Son
  • Favorite Blog Posts: my uber- nostalgic “favorite childhood movies” post, the snippet from my novel, The Boy and the Theatre Girl, and my ranty defense of CollegePlus students
IMG_4056.JPG

me & the twins

May

  • Submersed myself in blog posts about singleness and contentment due to aforementioned guy
  • Changed DSST after studying for a month (a first and a last)
  • Texted aforementioned best friend’s younger sister (with whom I’ll become good friends but won’t meet ’til September)
  • Learned how to cheat the system with college coursework – aka befriend the prof and say yes when she lets you submit part of your novel instead of several different assignments.  FISTPUMP.
  • Started a tough time with one of my best friends (drama goes down)
  • Dad’s intern arrived for the summer
  • Started officially going to a church
  • Discovered Friends and Taylor Swift (entire discography instead of just the ones on the radio)
  • Made a summer bucket list for the first time
  • Enrolled in Thomas Edison State University
  • Studied: BYU’s Writing for Children and Adolescents (2/16-6/16) // BYU’s Creative Writing (5/16-7/16)
  • Read: Golden Son, The Raven Boys, and The Rest of Us Just Live Here (which I loved enough to review on my blog as well)
  • Favorite Blog Posts: my reasoning behind taking off my purity ring (which got so much more feedback than I ever expected ohmygosh), my review of the gloriousness that was Captain America: Civil War, and my addition to the flame war behind that random dude’s “open letter to Rey” (which by the way, lemme say again, ugh)

June

  • Younger sister graduated from high school and we have a pretty awesome dance party
  • Taught myself how to play ukulele
  • Started going to Starbucks with my sister during the second hour of church (since there isn’t a Sunday morning class for college/career young adults)
  • Discovered Waitress during the Tony Awards (Hamilton won the other 11!)
  • Surprised with a weekend visit from one of my best childhood friends
  • Gave in to the stereotypes and got a Snapchat
  • Broke ground on our new house
  • Drove back and forth with my sister instead of staying at our grandparents’ for a whole week like we usually do (a first)
  • Had two entire days to myself, in which I did school, watched movies, cooked lunch for myself, and blasted Imagine Dragons
  • GOT A FRIKKIN LETTER FROM LIN MANUEL MIRANDA
  • Studied: BYU’s Writing for Children and Adolescents (2/16-6/16) // BYU’s Creative Writing (5/16-7/16) // Marriage and the Family TCEP (6/16-7/16)
  • Read: The Rosie Project, Extraordinary, and The Rosie Effect
  • Favorite Blog Posts: fangirling about tøp after being a fan for a year and a short story I wrote for school (“my best friend’s brother”)
IMG_3904.JPG

our awesome car on the way back from WIT

July

  • Studied and wrote like crazy
  • WITAlive again, this time without my older sister and with a car of friends (and I was a co-leader at a table this year!)
  • Wrote some poetry for the first time (including a sonnet based on Gilmore Girls)
  • Watched my “little” brother star in The Pied Piper of Hamlin at a local theatre
  • Had a movie date with a friend every two weeks or so (during the entire summer)
  • Witnessed the beginning of my sister’s relationship with my dad’s intern
  • Finally started accepting and actually loving my body, even its flaws… and it wasn’t until then that I started losing weight
  • Forgot to journal for two weeks, so I completely don’t know what happened except I know a lot of studying was done and a lot of books were read.
  • Studied: BYU’s Creative Writing (5/16-7/16) // Marriage and the Family TCEP (6/16-7/16) // BYU’s Writing in the Social Sciences (7/16-9/16) // BYU’s The American Novel (7/16-9/16)
  • Read: Salt to the Sea, The Vintage Book of Contemporary Poetry, The Art of the Personal Essay, Imaginative Writing, The Marriage and Family Experience, If You Find This Letter (which became my favorite non-fic book by the fifth page and I literally bought four copies to give to friends for Christmas – seriously, READ. IT.), and Everything, Everything
  • Favorite Blog Posts: another post about love & waiting & purity & stuff, my first post on writing advice (“what do do when {you think} your writing sucks”), and another snippet from The Boy and the Theatre Girl

August

  • Dad caved and finally got Netflix for us – YESSSSS
  • Started reading classics for my lit course and developed a deeper appreciation for classics
  • Went book shopping one Saturday with my sister (to two bookstores) and then had a fries taste-test – a day that will be remembered with fondness in both our hearts
  • Took my “little” bro to his first co-op and greatly enjoyed getting stuff done so early in the day (although I didn’t enjoy getting up so early)
  • Hosted a surprise sleepover for my friend (my first sleepover since I was six)
  • Started meeting new friends at our new church
  • Figured out the situation that caused the anxiety attack back in July (something I highly recommend – figure stuff out, guys; save yourself the stress; even if you do. not. want. to, it’ll be so much better in the long run, I promise)
  • Repaired more friendships – YAY
  • Had some bro time with my “little” brother while our sisters went to a camp for a week (we watched movies without them #oops)
  • The Furies happened (and we continue to talk about feminism and movies and relationships and generally just kick butt in all areas of life and I’m so happy to have such a close-knit friend group like this)
  • Blew through so many classics in such a short period of time – such a good feeling
  • Volunteered to play in an orchestra concert… the day before
  • Shared my testimony for the first time in a class at church
  • Studied: BYU’s Writing in the Social Sciences (7/16-9/16) // BYU’s The American Novel (7/16-9/16)
  • Read: The Coquette, Hope Leslie, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Scarlet Letter, Benito Cereno, The Outsiders, Life in the Iron-Mills, The Problem With Forever, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Washington Square (DANG THAT’S A LOT OF BOOKS)
  • Favorite Blog Posts: fangirling about Stanley Tucci, a peek into my life, and some rambling thoughts about Friends and the validity of your opinion.

September

  • Started the month out with my car breaking down.  Yay.
  • Nannied three days in a row – including a 9am-11pm day (which was my favorite day of the three because I took the kids to see Pete’s Dragon with my sister and then put them to bed early and watched movies ’til their parents got back)
  • Started watching Stranger Things with my sister… at 11pm at night… all by ourselves…  (protip: not a good idea)  (still, we finished the show within a week)
  • Hosted some friends for a weekend and had an absolute BLAST
  • Saw a friend star in You Can’t Take It With You
  • Went shopping with some girlfriends and actually bought something.  And not just anything.  A DRESS.  I DON’T EVEN KNOW.
  • Got baptized : )
  • Started practicing music with friends for two weddings (and started calling ourselves The Last Page)
  • Introduced some friends to Lord of the Rings (which they loved, obviously)
  • Cut my hair super dang short (and loved it)
  • GOT A NEW PHONE HECK YES
  • Stopped journaling (haha whoops)
  • Studied: BYU’s Writing in the Social Sciences (7/16-9/16) // BYU’s The American Novel (7/16-9/16) // Marketing Communications TCEP (9/16)
  • Read: Ethan Frome, My Ántonia, Marketing Communications, Absalom Absalom, Pale Fire, and Writing in the Social Sciences.
  • Favorite Blog Posts: blogged the results of my summer bucket list, talked about bad boyz (even though my opinion on Jess Mariano has changed so much because he turned out to be the best guy for Rory), continued to ramble about love & feelings & stuff, and rambled about life in general (which y’all liked so I started doing it more)
IMG_4369.JPG

failing at a jumping pic with ‘the last page’

October

  • Started a course on theatre which is just *heart eyes emoji*
  • Started planning my very first girls-only trip with The Furies
  • Gilmore-bounded with my frens (which is honestly still one of my favorite events of the entire year)
  • Introduced my other siblings to Stranger Things
  • Lost enough weight to fit loosely into a dress that didn’t fit me a month before *sunglasses emoji*
  • Played in two weddings with The Last Page (twas lit)
  • Had an impromptu brunch with people who came in for aforementioned wedding and hosted almost twenty-five people
  • Deepened friendships and fell in love with people in general
  • Started planning a watch party with friends for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (obviously including soda and Chinese food and poptarts and all kinds of junk food)
  • Scott Gordon Patterson (Luke from Gilmore Girls) liked our Gilmore-bound picture (!)
  • Did Halloween for the first time in over a decade (thank you, younger adopted siblings)
  • Again, studied and read like crazy
  • Studied: BYU’s Intro to the Theatre (10/16-12/16) // BYU’s Playwriting (10/16-12/16)
  • Read: Writing in the Social Sciences, The Strangeness of Beauty, and Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour
  • Favorite Blog Posts: fangirled over Stranger Things, made a list of songs that make me happy, and rambled about life again

November

  • Studied like crazy – including writing three plays (!!!)
  • Talked to dozens upon dozens of people about the presidential election
  • Voted in the presidential election for the first time (but not my first time voting)
  • Read books on top of my car overlooking the mountains (heck yes I did)
  • Visited a friend at his college with my sisters and another friend and talked about hard stuff for over four hours (“It’s rough all over“)
  • Bashed around Charleston with mah girls
  • Visited a friend for a week, in which I stayed at their house and basically became a member of their family
  • Went to a movie theater and watched a recording of Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet
  • Went to Disney and Harry Potter World at Universal – and had an absolute blast
  • (Charleston, becoming a member of another family for a week, Hamlet, and Disney/Universal all happened in the same twelve days and it. was. magical)
  • Had the Gilmore Girls watch party with my frens
  • Studied: BYU’s Intro to the Theatre (10/16-12/16) // BYU’s Playwriting (10/16-12/16)
  • Read: The Cherry Orchard, Anything But Typicaland Hamlet.
  • Favorite Blog Posts: expressed my thoughts about the election, converted a play I wrote into a short story (and y’all loved it, which just makes my year), and offended some people after writing about courtship (lolz whoops)

December

  • Finished my schoolwork the day before my birthday – HUZZAH, AN ACTUAL CHRISTMAS BREAK FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THREE YEARS!!!
  • Turned 22
  • Watched Return of the King with friends for my birthday
  • Basically just chilled for the entire month.  Read a lot of books, watched a lot of movies and TV shows, but mainly just lived.  I made cookies and brownies with my baby siblings twice, and cleaned the kitchen and my room a lot.  It was really fun to just relax and live life without the pressure of schoolwork looming over my head.
  • Went to a young adults Christmas party at our new church and had such a great time
  • Realized that my blog turned seven – w h o a
  • Celebrated Christmas four times – with each of my parents’ families, my family, and an extended family Christmas (and had my sister’s boyfriend do Christmas with us, so that was An Experience)
  • Went to my grandparents’ house for an extended weekend before New Years and partied hard with my cousins and aunt & uncle (who talked with my siblings and I about stuff for hours upon hours, which was a blessing)
  • Rang in the new year with friends and a headache
  • Studied: BYU’s Intro to the Theatre (10/16-12/16) // BYU’s Playwriting (10/16-12/16)
  • Read: The Bad Beginning (Series of Unfortunate Events #1), If You Find This Letter (re-read bc I bought four copies for friends and wrote in them like my friend did for me), and Crosstalk
  • Favorite Blog Posts: hosted a Christmas movie marathon because I love movies and posted some Stucky fanfiction (part one / part two) that I wrote a few years ago

    christmasfam2016.jpg

    le fam (+ sister’s boyfriend) at church on christmas day


Whew.

Honestly, it always blows my mind whenever I write these posts and look back at all of the amazing things I did.  (And hOW DANG LONG IT TAKES ME OH MY GOSH.  This one took me several sittings over several days – and I know I didn’t over everything.)

Anyway, I’m always so blown away with what I’ve been able to do in a year.  Even though the year was ridiculously crazy at times, I wouldn’t trade any of the craziness for the world.  Even though the year was rough, it still had some amazing experiences for me.  I invested in friendships more than I ever have before (including at three people who are 5-8 years younger than me), I’ve learned more about relationships (the good and the bad), and I’ve learned to be authentic, to be honest, to give second chances, to know when to stop pouring myself into toxic relationships, to let go of grudges, and, obviously, I’ve learned how incredibly far I have to go.  I know I won’t ever get there, but it’s nice to look back on a year and know that I’m a better person than the selfish idiot who wrote last year’s Year in Review post.

2017 is going to be incredibly interesting and I can’t wait to see where God leads me!  My word of the year is “excelsior,” and I explained why on my Instagram, so I’ll just link to that and keep this from getting any longer!

Can’t wait to see where God has me at this time next year!

IMG_1960.JPG

continuing the tradition of taking pictures of myself in the bathroom mirror on new years day even tho i didn’t feel like putting on makeup or doing anything to my hair or fixing my christmas nails but i won’t apologize bc this is how i look kthxbye

interview with author hannah a. krynicki!

Hey, guys!  I’m super excited today because I had the pleasure of interviewing the ever-awesome Hannah A. Krynicki, an author in the giveaway we’re both participating in!  (Click here to enter!)  I was also interviewed by Nate Philbrick the other day – check that out if you have the chance!

hannahauthor.jpgMe: If you could describe yourself in five adjectives, which would you pick?
Hannah: They tell me that I am probably the least qualified person to assess my own personality, and I recommend that you don’t make any big decisions or sign any contracts based on this information. Which is to say, let’s go for it!
-Analytical
-Focused
-Intuitive
-Perfectionistic
-Sarcastic

 
Me: Tell us a little about your novel, Alen’s War, by comparing it to movies!
Hannah: Basically Alen’s War is what would happen if a G.A. Henty book married Disney’s insane side. Prince Alen, a teenage esquire, has one job: capture Galer, a revolutionary who would make Les Miserables jealous. Of course Alen fails, and Agran erupts into a war nastier than Gone with the Wind. Who you gonna call? Alen recruits two helpers: Brandis, a Coriolanus doppelganger with command of the Black Pearl, and Turomar, a strategist with both the brains and the emotional range of Sherlock. Together, they are the Three Amigos, and they’re going to catch the bad guy.
(Ashley’s Note: OH MY GOSH THAT SOUNDS SO GOOD.  And you get all the brownie points for the Coriolanus reference.)

alenswarecover2.jpgMe: Have you ever done character casting for your novels?  If so, who are your top picks for Alen’s War?
Hannah: Of course! I always do dream-casting. Although I cannot for the life of me find a good actor for Alen (probably because he’s so young), I did manage to pick for the other more important characters.
Brandis: Richard Armitage
Turomar: Harry Lloyd
Galer: Matthew MacFadyen
Arila: Lily James
Reyis: Liam Neeson

Me: How did you come up with the idea for Alen’s War?
Hannah: I suppose it was born out of my affinity for magic, wars, pirate ships, and crazy plot ideas. I had an old draft of an even older story about a little band journeying to capture an evil wizard, which seemed a good place to start. So I tore out all the clichés, stitched in some new ideas, and patched it up until I had something reminiscent of Alen’s story. Fun fact: I had to reinvent the confounded thing four times *after* writing the first draft.

Me: In your opinion, what’s the hardest thing about writing and how do you overcome it?
Hannah: Finishing the book. I just looked, and I have fourteen documents in my “Unfinished Tales” folder, but I only published two books. The struggle is real, kids. Obviously, I don’t swear a blood oath that I must finish every draft I start, but I do have one way to tell when I’ve found a story that needs to be finished. I ask myself, Why do I need to write this story? When I can answer that, I have found the fuel that keeps me from giving up.

Me: What hobbies do you have outside of writing?
Hannah: It’s hard to define my hobbies, as I seem to have a new obsession every week- for example, economic theory followed by Norse mythology. Aside from that, I play (“play”) three instruments whenever I can, argue with myself about the complexities of life, and bake a mindblowing quantity of cookies.

Me: Name three favorite books and why you’d recommend them to someone!
Hannah: Of course, Miss Bates, but the trouble is that I will be limited to saying just three… (High five if you got the reference!) My top picks would be:
-The Lord of the Rings, because it’s the best introduction to fantasy you will ever read.
-The Book Thief, because it’s brutally honest and cynical.
-Charlotte’s Web, because every grown-up should learn to read good children’s books.(Ashley’s Note: I had to Google it.  #badlydoneindeed  I do love Miss Bates, though.)

Me: Do you have any guilty pleasure books or movies?  (These are books or movies that you love but, for one reason or another, can’t recommend them.)
Hannah: Not really. I’m actually quite picky when it comes to movies and books. The nearest thing I can think of is books like Orwell’s 1984- but I’d heartily recommend them to everyone mature enough to handle the icky stuff. Then again… does lobbying to watch Batman Begins with my folks every week count as a guilty pleasure?
(Ashley’s Note: HA!  No, unless you feel guilty for doing it.  ; ) Dark Knight Rises is my personal favorite of that trilogy!)

Me: Do you have anything else you’re working on at the moment?
Hannah: Yes, lots! as Mr Baggins said. I won’t talk about my speculative fiction thingy quite yet, nor my other top secret fantasy idea.. but we may see a serial story from the perspective of a certain raider. And then I have my fourteen other files and random pieces of inspiration that may yet see daylight…

Me: Any parting words of wisdom for fellow writers, whether seasoned veterans or beginners?
Hannah: Do what you want, break rules, tell the truth, and above all don’t be antisocial. Happy Advent.

LOVE IT.  Thanks, Hannah!  Everybody go check her out – like I said before, she’s awesome – and enter the contest, if you haven’t already!