DEAR SENIOR YEAR,

Saturday, August 19, 2017
In a few weeks, it will be fall. It's hard to believe -- as a barista I'm bracing myself for the pumpkin-spice craving rampages, and as a student I'm bracing myself for my final year of school. *distant, terrified screaming*

A while back I wrote "dear senior year" as an idea for a blog topic. I honestly can't remember what sort of route I wanted to take this, but it sounds like a letter to the upcoming school year, so I'm going to treat it as such. It might be more of a rambling, "here's what's currently on my mind" type of post, but we'll give it a try.


dear senior year,

I thought you'd never come.

I know -- I'm wrong to doubt -- but I remember being a little girl counting down the years on my fingers until I'd graduate school. First I had to use both hands, all ten fingers for ten years, but eventually I only needed one hand, and now I can count my remaining year on one finger.

No matter how many times I tell this to myself, it doesn't seem to sink in: I'm graduating in less than a year. I'm going to be an adult in less than a year.

Um. What. (???!)

Half of me is still convinced that I am a little child. I'm writing this post on my desk, and just yesterday I spontaneously danced in the rain. I don't like vegetables. Animated movies are my favorite. I don't play and make believe stories with my dolls anymore, but I do that with characters and isn't that basically the same thing?

But then the other half is me is so ready. I've never been one to enjoy school, and the thought of working instead actually excites me. Still -- it's scary and involves adulting and even more busyness.

I remember watching the seniors in our Church -- they stood around in circles and talked instead of playing games. They were so much older and mature and welcoming and kind. Now it's crazy to think that I'm in their position. Except I don't feel as mature as they looked. You bet I'm playing a gym game if there's a chance. :P

Life, from now until this time next year, is going to change an insane amount. Graduating! Turning 18! Full-time job! Possibly querying! Buying a car! Writing two books! Publishing fifty more blog posts! Hopefully making new friends! Strengthening old friendships! 

Lots and lots of new things. o.o

I'm realizing that, even though I really don't like school, there's something strangely comforting about it. It's what I've done for twelve years of my life -- there's ease in the known! There's no thinking about what comes next; I just do the next lesson in my workbook day after day after day after day...

But I'm learning that transitions like this will happen all throughout my life. I'm a writer, obviously (hopefully that's not hard to figure out). Lord willing, I'll eventually transition from this book writing stage to the publishing world. It'll be the scary unknown of graduating highschool all over again.

The unknown is daunting -- the uncertainty of "what's going to come next?" But do you know what's the good thing about all of this?
No one goes through the journey of life alone.
It may seem like it at times, I know, but even when people fail you, God is still there. Everyone is struggling with something in their life, and he's there for all of it. 

And that's one of the most comforting things (yes, even more comforting than a giant cheese pizza in your lap while curled up in a fuzzy blanket watching the best movie ever) in the world. 

I'm not sure what this post turned into... but enjoy or relate or take from it what you will. Sometimes blog posts turn into an overhaul of thoughts. xD

<3,
katie grace

what new experiences is fall bringing for you?

WHY I WOULD BE A HORRIBLE BOOK CHARACTER

Saturday, August 12, 2017
Sometimes, when watching movies and reading books, I like to imagine myself as the main character. I wonder how well I'd survive in their position -- seeing that most of them fight dragons and evil overlords -- and after much thought, I've reached the conclusion that I'd be a terrible main character (specifically in fantasy/sci-fi novels)

Here's why.

Aside from the occasional castle feast and stale chunk of bread in their sack... when do characters eat?! They're off adventuring from dawn to dusk with minimal amounts of food. Sheesh, don't they need sustenance for energy? While they starve, I'm over here relating with Pippin and wondering why there aren't consistent meal (and snack!) breaks.

[I really love Pippin xD]
I've mentioned this on the blog before, but I'm a hardcore night owl. I'll stay up past midnight writing books, reading books, reorganizing my books, gazing fondly upon my books... (ahem) There's something about the late hour that inspires me to get all the things done -- even unfavorable tasks like cleaning my room or doing some school work..

Mornings on the other hand.... HAHAHAHAHAHA. #nope

I don't know about you, but I definitely wouldn't be able to wake up in the forest (assuming that I got any sleep on the rock hard earth), ready to fight monsters and trek across mountains. These characters have endless amounts of energy!

Also how do they wake up without an alarm? The army may ride at dawn, but without prompting I won't show up until noon. (And that's assuming I had enough time to go down to the kitchen and scrounge for some breakfast. Muffins, anyone?)

Petition to start shelving fantasy/sci-fi books in the superhero section because W O W their strength and endurance is basically superhuman. Think of all the running and fighting they constantly do! I'm very impressed (even though it doesn't take much to impress me but shhh).

As these warriors master swordfighting and archery after a few days of practice (probably with a broken limb or two because #conflict), I'd still be gathering enough muscle in my arms to pick up the extremely heavy weapons. Have you ever shot a bow and arrow? It's tough -- I can't imagine doing the action again and again during a battle that lasts for hours. 

Plus these characters need insane emotional strength since they're almost killed every other page. I'm surprised there aren't more mental breakdowns, to be honest. I think I'd need to find a nice tree to sit under so I could have a good cry. xD

Need I say more? 

There's a strange lack of pizza in novels, and that fact alone rules me out from becoming a book character. If the other challenges didn't kill me, the grief of being without pizza surely would. :')

- - -

I'm well aware that this post sounds pathetic. But don't worry! I'm exaggerating only slightly (ha...ha...). I'm going to go take a moment to be thankful that I'm not "the chosen one" because I'm pretty sure nothing good could ever come from that. (except for maybe a new book idea? maybe that would justify everything...)

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed that somewhat ridiculous post! Next week is my three year blog anniversary (!!!!) and though I have nothing planned, it'll still be fun to take a look back. xD

Make your weekend amazing! May the words flow smoothly and lots of writing get done. :)

<3,
katie grace

WHAT TO DO WITH CONFLICTING BETA READER FEEDBACK

Saturday, August 5, 2017
It's officially August! How is everyone recovering from Camp NaNoWriMo? I edited for over four and a half hours on the last day in order to meet my goal, and now I'm a little worn out from all of that. I tried writing two different posts before finally settling on this topic -- sometimes the words don't like to word and it annoys me greatly. -.-

This post is inspired about a message I received from the lovely Jeneca:
"I'm confused about what to do with all my beta reader feedback. Some said the dialogue was natural, others thought it not. Some thought the christian elements were natural and well done, while others thought it was too easy and the characters wouldn't reach such conclusions. What did you do with conflicting beta feedback?"
I had many of these same problems when I sent my novel to beta readers (w o w it's been over a year by now). So after some messaging back and forth, here are the tips Jeneca and I compiled:


1. STUDY THE FEEDBACK

In my novel, there was one character in particular that everyone had different opinions on. Most said he was their favorite, but several others said, "eh, he falls in the background and I feel like I don't actually know him." I could've just gone with the majority, but instead I took the time to study his story and his role and realized that yes, he's a likeable character, but I should dive into his thoughts and mind a bit more. He wasn't as developed as he could have been, and that's what the scattered negative opinions picked up on.

Evaluating comments and the story will take a long time, but it isn't supposed to be an easy process. Use your feedback for brainstorming and re-outlining. Your betas have given you an immensely helpful gift.

And hey, if making pie charts and graphs and all that fancy stuff is how you roll, DO THE THING. 

2. KNOW WHO YOU'RE SENDING THE STORY TO

This kind of goes along with studying the feedback. But are the people you're sending your precious little baby to fantasy and sci-fi readers? Have they beta read before? Are they your mom (because chances are their opinion might be a liiiitle biased)? Do they read the same genres as you? 

Knowing their tastes, likes, and dislikes, can help you discover if their feedback is a preference or an actual problem. Different people like different things. Goodness, sometimes I scroll through Goodreads and find it crazy how someone's one star read is a five star read for me. You're not going to please everyone. It's easiest to accept that now.

3. CONSIDER ASKING YOUR BETAS FOLLOW UP QUESTIONS

I hated doing this step, because my betas had already done me a HUGE favor as it was... but, say, if several people struggled with the worldbuilding in your story, considering asking them, "What exactly about it was unbelievable? What sparked the confusion?"

Sometimes digging deeper into the why it was a problem can make the answer clearer. I had to ask one of my betas to expand on their feedback with my own world, which made me realize that I needed to expand my culture and history and traditions of my desert land.

One way to help avoid this is to have really clear and specific questions for your beta readers to answer. Some people I know are crazy talented editors and able to point out problems without being prompted. But if you're wondering about the structure of your story's ending, be sure to ask your critiquers!

4. REVISE AND RESEND

If you're 100% stuck and have no idea which way to go on some of the issues presented... ask another set of eyes to give it a read through. Maybe this person can solely focus on the struggle you're having with a certain character or plot point.

But whether you're having problems or not, it's a good idea to have a couple rounds of betas. They tend to comment on the parts that are most problematic, so once you fix those, you can send it off to a new group of people and dig a little deeper into the revisions. 

5. SOMETIMES YOUR GUT IS THE WAY TO GO

Gentle reminder that this is your story -- your heart's story, so make sure not to take the heart away. You wrote certain parts in certain ways for very specific reasons. Studying the logic and reasons for the beta reader's answers will help make things clear, but in the end it's your decision. Fix and keep what's best and stays true to your novel. <3

Don't be afraid to kill your darlings and hash them to pieces for the sake of making your story the best it can be.
("darlings" being the words + phrases in your novel, and not the actual characters haha)

<3,
katie grace

have you ever struggled with conflicting feedback?
how have you dealt with it?