That End Of The Year Wrap Up Post.

Thursday, December 31, 2015
A bunch of bloggers around the internet are doing end of the year wrap up posts and surveys, and I'm just going to jump right along with the bandwagon. 

I'm going to split this up into five sections: 

4. LIFE. 

*pumps fist* LET'S DO THIS THING.



Writing was crazy this year. It was the first full year I became serious about writing and spent every spare moment typing furiously or marking up my manuscript with a red pen. It was also the first year I started editing. (And learned that I despised it with all my soul.)

I wrote two first drafts, one second draft, two third drafts, and started on a fourth draft. 

I participated in both Camp NaNoWriMos (in which I wrote 50,000 words in two weeks) and NaNoWriMo. (in which I wrote 105,000 words in one month) They were both incredibly hectic and filled with messes of jumbled words, but at least they're words!

I posted a Flash Fiction Entry on the blog and talked about Why Writing is Really Hard.

And with all the excess amounts of writing, I learned that I still really love it despite all the work it takes. 2016 will be a even bigger writing year, and I'm ready for it.

Isn't that a cool number? ^

I'm not going to lie -- blogging was tough at times this year. I forgot about it. I posted inconsistently. I didn't really have a schedule until the last few months. But, I stuck with it. And despite the fact that it was hard at times, blogging is seriously so much fun. I got to meet lots of new people -- including my wonderful critique partner! 

My most popular post this year was my post on "Why I'm Now Crazy Insane About Going to Writer's Conferences." Next popular was "Behind The Scenes Writing Tag." (<< Go read and find out allllll my writing secrets. Mwaha.)

The third most viewed post was "How You Can Help Your Beta Readers."

I also follow a bazillion blogs, and my absolute favorites are... To the Barricade, Nadine Brandes, Go Teen Writer's, Musings of an Elf, Gossiping with Dragons, The Everstorm Comes, and Words in my Soul.

It's crazy to look at my blog now with almost 30,000 pageviews and 150 followers when I started off with 3k pageviews and 30 followers. So to all who have joined me this past year.... THANK YOU! Your sweet comments and emails make my day every time. :)


2015 Reading Challenge

2015 Reading Challenge
Katie has completed her goal of reading 67 books in 2015!
(Go friend me on Goodreads if you haven't already!
We'll have wonderful bookish discussions. ;)

Look at that! Eighty books. EIGHTY! I'm really rather proud of this accomplishment, sorry.

Most Read Genre: Fantasy. 
Books Read: 80.
Pages Read: Roughly 30,000.
Most Books Read In A Month: 14.
I also read five books in two days, sooo there's that. xD


Yeah, I know I chose eighteen books for my favorites. And that's not even including all the favorites. I only did the first books of some series because I couldn't possibly fit all the books into one picture. :P So really I have about thirty favorite books.

(And one of my favorites (maybe even my favorite) is a book I beta read which had much steampunk awesomeness and tears and feels. But it's not published that so I can't really add it to the list above. :P) 

(I got all giddy picking out my favorite books because I LOVE THEM SO MUCH! I'll try to refrain from shoving them in your faces... virtually... or something... :P)


IN 2015 I...
  • Basically listened to Twenty One Pilots 24/7. 
  • Went to my first writing conference.
  • Started watching LOST.
  • Saw some amazing movieeees. 
    • my favorites: 
      • Mockingjay Part Two; Interstellar; Big Hero 6; Inside Out; The Book Thief; Bridge to Terabithia. I'm not going to comment on the fact that all of these made me cry.
  • Got my permit.
  • Discovered a new love of hot cocoa. Mmmm.
  • Was in a homeschool Shakespeare play.
  • Had fun times with my AMAZING youth group.
  • Went on a wonderful vacation with my family. :)
  • Tweeted lots and lots on Twitter.
  • Got to know some amazing friends through the online writing world. (Aimee, Kristana, Nadine, Sierra, Hannah, and Rosalie, I'm looking at youuu! <3)


Surveys are a WHOLE lot harder than you think to put together, people. But here it is, and it would be SO helpful to hear your answers!

But only answer honestly, please. If you hate my colorful sidebar, say that. If you love writing posts but not the monthly highlights, please mention it! Thank you so much, my lovely readers. <3

Here's the link if the embedded survey doesn't work:

Powered by Typeform

Once again... 


- Katie Grace

Have you read any of the books on my list?
What were your favorite movies of 2015?

Currently // December.

Saturday, December 19, 2015
Inspired by Emily's "currently" posts. 

I didn't want to do just a plain Christmas post because there are plenty of them going around in the blogosphere right now, so here's a life (with a touch of Christmas) post.
And here's the posting plan for the rest of the month:

I will be doing an "End Of The Year Wrap Up" instead on the 31st. 

Onto the post. :D


currently // LISTENING

Ahahahaha, you knew that was coming, yes? When have I never not listened to Twenty One Pilots?

I'm planning to listen to the audiobook of Winter by Marissa Meyer when it comes in from the library. I don't usually listen to audiobooks, but since the hardcover copy has 15 holds I don't have much of a choice. :P

And now you're waiting for me to say that I'm also listening to Christmas music, yes? Well.... I'm.... not. *hides* I really haven't liked it this season and instead resort to Twenty One Pilots or something else out of my eccentric music tastes. It's weird. *shrug*

currently // WATCHING

Still watching the TV show, LOST, and still absolutely loving it. (Ack, my mind at the sheer genius of it all.)

And here's another weird thing about this Christmas season: No Christmas movies.

Technically it's not that weird since my family's never watched many Christmas movies. But I hear of all these people watching one every other night and... nope. Do you have any recommendations of Christmas movies I should make my family watch? ;)

currently // READING

ALL I'M DOING IS READING. Ahh, it feels so nice to curl up with a book and just read. I haven't been able to since... September (*gasp*), and the happiness inside me has no bounds. 

I went to the library and this happened: 

(the quality of the picture is horrible so I apologize.)

I've already read nine books this month and am hoping for plenty more. :D

  • The Thing About Jellyfish. [3/5]
  • Illuminae. [5/5]
  • Cinder. [5/5]
  • The Schwa Was Here. [5/5]
  • Red Queen. [3/5]
  • Pride and Prejudice. [1/5]
  • The Gifting. [5/5]
  • The Revised Life Of Ellie Sweet. [5/5]
  • Walk On Earth A Stranger. [4/5]

I'm a master procrastinator. Right now I'm just trying to pretend that this horrid world of editing doesn't even exist. After Christmas I'll start again (or "try" to...), but right now I just want to immerse myself in this reading world that I have been away from.

Also, I have been procrastinating several Christmas presents. Mostly because I do not know what to get said people. *coughs and avoids the six days left countdown*

And procrastinating on blogging. WHY IS IT SO EASY TO PROCRASTINATE ON BLOGGING?! I'm always up insanely late the night before I publish a post because I'm never able to get it done sooner. *sigh* Oh well. Someday, someday... :P

  • Christmas! :D (duhh.) 
  • Reading allll the books over Christmas break. 
    • Maybe I'll get wild and read a book a day or something. xD
  • Repainting my room. 
  • Out of town friends visiting. (Yesss.)
  • Watching a Twenty One Pilot's show on TV.
  • NEW YEARS! (I seriously can't believe how fast this year has gone.)
  • Going to the movie theater to watch the new Star Wars on Tuesday. 
    • I've never been a huge Star Wars fan, I'll admit, but I'm looking forward to this one.
    • It's kind of weird how BIG people are emphasizing the "no spoilers" about Star Wars all over social media. I mean, shouldn't that be a general courtesy for all movies?
  • Sleeping in every. single. day. 
    • And staying up late every. single. night.
  • Eating pizza. (ha, you thought I could get through a post without mentioning this? Think again.)
  • Generally just relaxing and enjoying the break from school(!!!!).
  • Maybe... Someday... Getting snow? I usually don't like snow, but having none around Christmas is just WEIRD. Where I live, in the northern USA, there's always snow. Like three feet of snow. And there's currently none. What is this?! (except the below freezing temperatures do kind of make up for it, heh.)
- Katie Grace

What are you looking forward to this Christmas season? What have you been reading?
And since I won't post until after the 25th, MERRY CHRISTMAS! <3 Enjoy it, dear friends. 
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Easy Blog Design Tutorials For The Blogspot Blogger #2 // Sidebar Edition

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The look of your sidebar is one of the most important things of your blog. (Except for, perhaps, the header.) This is where readers can immediately look for ways to follow your blog, see where you are present on other social media platforms, and learn a bit more about you.

There are SO many times I arrive at a new blog and am overwhelmed with the sidebar. There's just too many gadgets -- and unneeded ones. You don't need that fish feeder or pageview stat counter. Unsure of what to put on your sidebar? Keep reading, and when in doubt, keep it simple. 

I thought of the sidebar as having three main purposes:

1. introduce.
2. follow.
3. promote.

Let's look at the points in more detail. 
1. introduce. 

Something your sidebar definitely needs is YOU. This is your blog, and readers will want to know quirks or facts about you upon visiting. (Is she a writer? A beauty blogger? Photographer? Pizza-lover?) 

To draw in a reader right away is with a picture of your face. (so we know you're human and not a robot.) Upload this picture with the "add an image" gadget, and add a "text" gadget underneath to share your short bio.

To make your picture a circle like mine, simply upload it to Picmonkey, click "frames," and then "shape cutouts."

And no, do not write out your whole bio. And please don't use the  basic blogger "about me" gadget. Like I said above, just add a text gadget  and type what you want readers to know. (No more than three sentences.) Underneath this small bio you can link to your more in-depth 'about me' page. [Ex. What I did with the read more text.]
2. follow.

If people like what they see on your blog, the next step for them is to follow it! *confetti* The most popular following methods (for blogspot bloggers): 

Google Friend Connect

Google Friend Connect: 

It took me absolutely FOREVER to figure out how to add this gadget. If you're having troubles -- you're not the only one.

Go to gadgets, more gadgets, and then proceed to scroll until you find the followers gadget.


Email is the second most popular way readers follow my blog. Here are a few customization tutorials to make it look nice and snazzy.


Haven't heard of Bloglovin'? It's another way to follow blogs -- an online reader feed. Each day it will update the new posts from the blogs you stalk (*ahem* follow.) and allows you to save posts you especially love into folders for later reference.

Make sure to "claim" your blog on Bloglovin'. You'll then receive notification when people follow you or save a post. Bloglovin' has tutorials on their site that you can follow.

Social Media Icons:

If readers really want to stalk follow you on all social media sites, social media icons are your next step. They're typically placed beneath your picture or short bio. 

3. promote.

If you're an author, you can promote your books. If you're an owner of an etsy shop, promote that. Keep it simple, keep it small, and there's no need to mention it multiple times. Readers will hunt down what they're looking for if they really want to know. 

Cue the bloggers who say: "But I don't have anything to promote..." 

... You're wrong.

One of the things you can do promote is your own posts! Here are the gadgets that will help you in doing so:

1. Popular posts. 

Once I visit a blog and want to see if I'll be interested in reading any more of their posts, the "popular posts" gadget is one way I can quickly be informed of the types of articles they post. Go to layout > add a gadget > popular posts.

Don't like how the pictures aren't very large or set up? You can enlarge your popular post pictures with this tutorial. (like I did.)

2. Archives. 

It's rare that I go through the archives of someone's blog. But if I REALLY love a blog, I'll take an evening and read all of their posts. Or sometimes I need to reference a post a couple months back. This is where the archives come in handy. 

The default blogger archive is just kind of... blah. But guess what? Just yesterday I found a fantastic tutorial to make the archives look non-blah. :P (example is over on my sidebar -- see the archives) I love the clean look and the easy to navigate panels. 

general sidebar design.

Every so often I come across a blog that has the sidebar on the left of the post area. While this is unique and catches your eye, it catches your eye too much. Instead of focusing on the content of the post area, your gaze will automatically travel to the sidebar and can become distracting. While this isn't a huge deal, I personally would recommend keeping it on the right side of the blog.

It's very important to keep your sidebar to one column. You have no idea how insane it drives me when the follow-by-email gadget and the archives are smushed together side by side making it impossible to navigate either of them. Keep your gadgets in a straight line; this will prevent the general look from becoming messy. 

Keep the number of tags you have to a minimum. I've searched countless times for a tutorial to fix this mess below, but I have yet to find one. *disgruntled sigh* So until I come across that live-saving tutorial, keep the number of tags you have to a minimum. I could label this post under: blogging, design, sidebars, link, tutorials, and how-to, but instead I have just one tag I put it under: blogging. Try to insert no more than three tags to a post.

I've actually deleted my tags gadget, but this is what it used to look like. Messy, but better than having 20+ tags. And if you DO have tons of tags, just delete the tag gadget on your sidebar. Readers will still be able to browse the posts under that tag by finding it in the footer of a post.

Notice how my sidebar has a colored background? Here's how to add a background color to your Blogger sidebar.

- Katie Grace

Phew! That was a lengthy post, but hopefully it was helpful. There's a lot to say on this topic. 
What do you like to see on sidebars? If you want me to check out yours, drop your blog URL below. :)

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How I Would Improve NaNoWriMo.

Saturday, December 5, 2015
Note: This was inspired by Cait's post on How I Will Improve Goodreads When I Rule The World. But seeing that I'm not planning to take over the world, I did not put that in the title of my post. :P

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So, unless you're a writer living in some sort of hermit shell (unless you're a actually a hermit crab who's a writer living in a shell without internet? ...), you've probably heard about NaNoWriMo.

If you weren't about to tell from my excess NaNoWriMo posting last week, I absolutely adore NaNo. I mean, hundreds of thousands of writers bonding together over late nights and overdoses of caffeine for a whole month? AND you're hypothetically walking away with a finished novel and/or 50,000 words? Please tell me how it can get better than that. (Actually, it could probably get better if pizza were involved...)

But just for fun, here are some NaNo improvements I would make if I was able to take over their website for a day. Mwahaha.


1. A NaNoWriMo App.

NaNo on the go? I think yes. It would be awesome if it was possible to check and update your word count on a phone or tablet.

And also, what about reminders and notification banners. "YOU HAVE 5k TO WRITE TODAY." 

Or maybe it could congratulate you on your buddies's accomplishments: "[name] WON! SEND HER A NANOMAIL WITH FLAILING AND INTERNET COOKIES."

2. Improved NaNoMail Formatting.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who gets annoyed with the NaNoMail system. I mean, it's nice that we're able to send messages to other writers, but can't we at least do it with normal formatting? The current format is really weird and nothing like an actual inbox. There's an automatic line break every time you press enter, and instead of having a thread of emails in one reply, each email appears in a separate thread. (Does that make sense? Probably not. Just go with it.)

3. Writing Buddy Achievements. 

It's hard for me to remember to check my writer friend's progress each day on the NaNo site. (and even when I do remember, I get distracted 0.65 seconds later with the thought of pizza or new plot ideas.)

So it'd be great to have a banner or space on the home dashboard displaying: [name] reached 50k! or [name] is halfway with 25k!

4. Change Your Username.

When I first joined NaNoWriMo, I wasn't thinking when I created my username. I made mine "Katie - Grace." Yes, with spaces in between the dash. How completely ridiculous was that? It's rather confusing to try to explain my username to people. Ah, what I wouldn't give to change it to KatieGraceWrite, now.

BUT, NaNoWriMo is weird and won't let you change your username. *discontented sigh* So, when I take over the NaNo site, that's definitely something I will change.

5. Editing Months.

Ew, editing. I can already hear the groans. (Or the excited cheers if you're one of those people.)

But after everyone finishes their novels, editing is VERY needed. (Unless you're a perfect first draft writer, but let's be honest here: no one is.) So why not have another NaNo month in January or February for editing? A lot of people would sign up. Or at least should sign up.

Hundreds of writers moping, complaining, and whining about editing for a whole month? I mean, what could go wrong?

6. Social Media Sensor.

Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, NaNo forums, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, Goodreads... Most writers have some form of procrastination, and I know that at least for ME, I can get reaaaally distracted on websites like those when I'm supposed to be writing.

So, I propose that NaNoWriMo has a built in plugin. It could sense how much time you spend on a certain website, AND poke you until you get off it after a certain amount of time. (Five, ten, or fifteen minutes.)

I wonder how many more words we'd all actually get done if we stopped talking about writing online and actually wrote....

7. Group Writing Goals.

If you're familiar with Camp NaNoWriMo, there are cabins filled with 12 people, and together you all try to make a group goal. Which I think is epic, especially when you all gang together to write 40,000 words in the last day. (It's happened with my cabin, and it's awesome. xD)

I think the NaNoWriMo site should add up the 50k of all of your writing buddies participating, and then together you all try to make the same goal. It would make NaNo more of a team activity than it already is. I know this point has flaws because everyone has different writing buddies, but just go with it.

And finally...

8. A Complete Novel Editor.

*cough* Cause this is completely possible.

You know how you have to paste in your novel to get it validated for winning? 

I think NaNoWriMo should send you those words back, but completely edited. Just... perfect. The plot holes fixed, typos corrected, and characters fleshed out. You could immediately start working on the sequel or another series. ...

... *sigh* Only in a perfect dream world... 

But one can fantasize if they're already making up a pretend list about taking over the NaNo site... right? ;)
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- Katie Grace

How would YOU improve NaNoWriMo? Any of these you particularly like?
(And have you recovered from the NaNo craziness, yet? ;)