January Highlights || 2017

Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Not to freak anyone out or anything, but... We're one twelfth of the way through 2017. Take a minute to think about that, and then come back to virtually freak out with me. It feels like someone's taken the TV remote, connected it to my life, and put it on 1.25x speed, making it a little faster every year. xD

I hope this month was fabulous for you! If not, February is a new month, and a new start. Make that the beginning to all of your goals and ambitions. DO THE THING. You can do it. <3

THIS MONTH WAS SO CRAZY. Nothing out of the ordinary happened... it was just a busy month of school and work and writing and blogging. I'm feeling a little limp, but satisfied with the start of the year. Still figuring out how to manage all my time (and failing a little, but, you know), and hoping that I can keep up alll the things throughout the rest of 2017.

Did anyone else watch the new season of Sherlock? I know there are many mixed opinions out there. I liked it... but, compared to the rest of the series, it fell flat to me. I had to separate it from the other seasons for my mind to enjoy it. :P

(Also, giant group hug to all of you, since I reached 400 followers this month! I'm doing all the happy flailing and squealing because blogging is amazing. <3)

GUYS. IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN LA LA LAND, YOU NEED TO IMMEDIATELY. It was fluffy and beautiful and raw and emotional and real and gorgeous and feelsy and I just have all the thoughts about it. It was a romance... but yet... it wasn't. It was about dreams and chasing after them and the sacrifices you might have to make. Please watch it so I can scream about it to other people. xD

I've started my bullet journal for the new year! I'm doing my best to remind myself that it doesn't have to be perfect. It's been all to easy to look at the pages and think, "eewww I did such a horrible job at this, and I need to redraw it all." I created this bullet journal to help me keep on track with my assignments, and there's no need for it to look like heaven itself.

Below is one of the new songs I discovered this month. I love the soothing, mellow tone, and the words fit my novel and my character perfectly. I've been listening to it on repeat as I edit. :P

Also freaking out that I will be at a Twenty One Pilots concert in eighteen days. *clutches heart* <3

I waffled (isn't this just the best verb to ever exist?) back on forth on my Goodreads goal for 2017, but I decided in the end to go for 100. Last year I read 124, but I'M SO BUSY THIS YEAR. I have bigger writing/editing/other goals, so I'm already finding it hard to fit reading in. I make sure to read at least a little bit before I go to bed -- whether it be two chapters or a half a book.

Yup. I only read six books this month, which means that I'm already behind on my goal. *grumble*

Favorite book: Thr3e by Ted Dekker. Dude. This book blew my mind. From reading reviews, I knew that there was going to be a plot twist, but... I wasn't expecting that. My mind won't stop spinning. xD

By the way... Abi released her cover of Martin Hospitality! It comes out February fourth, which is only A FEW DAYS AWAY. She's my fabulous critique partner, so do make sure to check out her awesome story. :D And the cover is watercolor. Must I repeat that? It's watercolor!! I am grinning so hard over the gorgeousness.

[my guest post on aimee's blog: when inspiration doesn't strike,my burning youth blog post: encourage + inspire] <-- really proud of that last one, so it'd mean a lot if you checked it out. :D

Editing this month was nonstop. I outlined, finished the third draft of The Sand Dragon's Song, edited a flash fiction, tried my hand at writing a synopsis (heh, let's not talk about how that went), and did one final search for typos in Song of the Desert before I send it off to some new betas. Phew.

February looks like it'll be filled with editing as well (yaay). This story has been giving me lots of trouble, so I'm hoping that I can whip it into shape. *crosses fingers*

Oh! I mentioned this in a past post, but one very exciting milestone for me this month -- I've now been writing for three years! When I started my first novel on January 18th, I never would have imagined that I would take this hobby so far. The "little hobby" has turned into a giant dream of becoming an author. <3

(lil snippet as I edit my novel for those of you interested)

Grace Anne blogged about: why snail mail is the best thing. I completely agree, and might try for the daily letter challenge she linked to... it's a fabulous idea.

This post, There's Room, is my favorite post of ever. It's like she wrote it with me in mind. There's so much encouragement and truth in it. <3

And, finally, Hannah shares some thoughts about life and my favorite band of ever (twenty one pilots).

- - -
katie grace

how are you feeling about the start of the year? happy with how it went?
what are you hoping to accomplish in february?


Saturday, January 28, 2017
Hey everyone! This is Katie stepping in quickly just to say hi. The amazing Aimee is taking over my blog for today! *insert applause and confetti* Her post is relatable and important and I just love her words so much. Don't forget to visit her blog afterwards to show some major encouragement, flailing, and love.

This post has been brought to you by that awkward moment when you're swapping guest posts with your amazing Katie Fren and suddenly realize that your inspiration is a big pit of nothingness lately and she's ever so helpful in letting you decide the post topic. (I love you, Katie dear, but thanks for nothing.)

Hi, I'm Aimee. You're probably noticing that I don't have any coherent words to say so far. That's okay.

Sometimes there aren't coherent words to say. And you feel kinda a bit like this.

If you're anything like me, the words don't... well, they don't really words 90% of the time. You sit down with a glorious mess in your head, an explosion of colors and story and awesomeness, but the moment you put your fingers n the keyboard your thoughts have deflated into a puddle of aw-heck-no and there is no coming back from that, especially not when Pinterest is calling. #thestruggleisreal

So what do you do when you want to art and the art says no?

This is an excellent question and I have no answers. Or very few answers. Who knows.

The problem here, at least in my case, is perfectionism. It's no "I want to write the thing", it's "I want to write the thing exactly the way it is in my head, with all its amazing character development and heartstopping scenes and plot complexities." And unless you're flawless, that's not going to happen. Your words on a page are going to be so much flatter than the vivid movie in your head. They're just going to be. Every time I go into writing a thing with the expectation that it has to come out right the first or second or third or even the seventeenth time, I'm going to fail automatically. I'm finished before I started. Our lovely little plot bunnies get too big for us, and then they refuse to come out right on paper, because writing is stupid and a long long process that never turns out the way we wish it would.

Just getting real and personal over here, folks. Sometimes the words don't word.

At all.

They're awkward.

They stumble all over the page or worse, they don't come out, and you get hit with "writer's block" that makes you want to slam your forehead against that block for a couple of hours.

If you can get words out, they suck. They're beyond awkward now. They're flat parodies of what you want.

Your commas are weird and there are too many of them.

You can't think of that one word you want.

Your dialogue is cheesy at best.

You throw the laptop across the room and drown your sorrows in chocolate peanut butter ice cream for about five thousand years because you're a failure of a writer and you'll never be good and maybe you shouldn't be doing this at all, ever again, and you've been lied to your whole life, and *insert random author here* is so much better than you, goodbye and goodnight.

Or maybe that's just me. Oops.

"What do you do, Aimee?" you ask. "What wisdom have you come onto Katie's blog to give to us today that will fix our writing and make the words flow with all the ease of our favorite poet?"

*insert that crying and ice cream gif again*

The best I can offer -- for me, personally, the awkward person whose words are never going to be very pretty and poetic in the first place -- is that we keep wordsing even when the words don't happen.

I know, I know, I'm wailing internally just typing it.

But. You. Keep. Doing. The. Words. Anyway.

Your words will continue to be awkward.

They will continue to be wrong.

They will be choppy, and cheesy, and your characters will be robots. It will be the equivalent of the earliest Doctor Who seasons ever, only without the humor. You will be #suffering the whole time. You won't enjoy it.

You won't feel like a writer at all, much less a good or decent one.

But you'll keep putting down the words. Over and over and over again.

I never just cure myself that way. Sometimes I can only force myself to put down a few sentences before it's overwhelming. But the more I put one word in front of the other, and then one sentence in front of the other, for as long as I can stand, I think I'm building myself up a little; I'm stretching those weird creative muscles with all the pain of a real live workout with no nice body to show for it right now.


And now you have a sentence, and a page, and oh, look, you have a whole sucky awkward story in a few months. It's the furthest thing from perfect, but it's there.

And really all I can say about that is that it's a heck of a lot easier to fix horrible words on a Word doc than to fix and empty word doc. Even if it's ten times more depressing.

Keep writing the words. Even if the words don't happen in order.

(Aimee out.)

Aimee is a writer, creative person, sci-fi enthusiast, and maker of shenanigans who spends most of her time on Twitter and loves blue hair. Do not ask Aimee to do things. Do not mess with Aimee. Do not approach Aimee while she has headphones in.
Aimee was never here.

- - -
Katie again! I can't help but stare in awe every time Aimee writes something, because the words have worded well with everything I've read from her. xD Don't forget to go visit her blog and see all the awesome stuff she has over there. (you know, including my guest post. :P)

How Plotting Helped Me

Saturday, January 21, 2017
I just had my three year writing anniversary! (jan. 18th) *major squeal* In those three years, I've always been a hardcore pantser. Outlines have forever been thrown out of the window, replaced by glorious freedom and flexibility. 

But with every novel I've written... I went into it without a plot, and came out with a hashed together mess of words, that I ended up having to outline and rewrite anyways.

So last October, I decided that I would try this foreign concept calling plotting. I wrote a whole post about how I plotted a novel, but today I'm talking about how plotting helped me.

plotting helped me...
I started plotting at the beginning of October, and didn't actually get to start writing my novel until November 1st. THAT'S A LONG TIME. But before I even started my novel I fell in love with my characters. I thought about the epic scenes, and the plots twists, and all the words I couldn't wait to craft

Plotting created an excitement for the potential in my story.
I was able to see it laid out from chapter to chapter, which made me think, "hey! maybe this is possible for me to write and conquer..."

plotting helped me...
(quick lil' reminder that this is how plotting impacted me. every writer is different and everything works differently for each writer. I do encourage you to give other writing methods a try, though.)

I think everyone can agree that first drafts are messy. They're filled with all sorts of nonsense and babbles and typos. Though my NaNo draft still has plenty of that, plotting helped me write a considerably cleaner draft.

Instead of worrying about how I was going to end my novel, or what should happen next, or if my character was reacting appropriately, or if I should include zombie pigs... I was able to use that extra space in my mind to focus on what I was writing. 

I took my time (as much time as you can take with NaNo), crafting my words carefully, trying to make sure that they flowed and sounded pretty. (I mean... there were still plenty of word vomit sections, but less than usual. xD)

plotting has helped me...

The title of this point is a joke. There's no such thing as no-stress nanowrimo.

But... plotting did help take away some of the stress. In the middle of NaNo, there's not exactly time to replot a novel, or decide that actually I should add in zombie pigs. Plotting helped me avoid all those NaNo disasters. I wasted less time staring off into space wondering about my plot, and used more time writing my novel. (which is always great, since time is limited.)

plotting has helped me...

Having the outline and the structure of the story helped me estimate. Now... I'm a naturally horrible estimator, so though it didn't help that much, it still came in handy. I was able to judge how many words I had left in the story, and then count the number of words per day to finish the novel during NaNo.

I'm kind of excited about editing this novel (excited and editing in the same sentence? whaaat?! ;), because I think the structure is what's really going to come in handy. My writing may be semi-messy, but the structure and backbone of the story is already in place. Instead of having to rewrite the story to rework the entire plot, I'll only have to focus on little scene and plot problems. 

And if there's a way to make editing easier, I'm an extremely happy writer. xD

// katie grace

how has plotting or pantsing helped you?

editing encouragement

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Once again I'm finding myself in the midst of edits, and though this is obvious, I'm going to say it: editing is hard.

It's all too easy for me to look at that document of mine and think, "could this ever possibly get better? is there any hope in improvement?

There are doubts, insecurities, thoughts that say, "what if none of this is good? what if you can't make it better?

Once the edits start... will they ever end? It seems like edits are just a long, dark hallway, and the end is just a spark of a dream. 

Editing is long. It's mentally exhausting. It's physically exhausted, sitting hunched over in a chair all day with my face in a permanent frown and fingers cramping from all the typing (okay, so I might be embellishing a little bit here...).

Writing is hard. Editing is hard. The process of creating a story is a strenuous task. It's easy to start a book, but the difficult part is completing it and following through.

In the middle of edits (or even at the beginning), is often the time when it feels better to give up and do something easier.

Don't give up. Don't. 

I'm repeating that to myself, trying my best to follow that, and I hope you will, too.
"There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for."
- Samwise Gamgee

Replace the word world with story, and good old Sam is saying exactly what I want to scream to every writer out there -- Your story has potential. There is good in your story.

I understand that it's hard to believe that. When you're digging at your first draft, cluttered with typos and plot holes, it seems impossible to think that there's anything hopeful buried within the words.

But there's potential, because you created it. Think about what you did for a moment (or what you're currently doing): you crafted a novel. A story, an adventure, a journey that's close to your heart and meant enough to you to put on paper. Think of all the time you've spent over it -- it's your little baby novel. <3

There's going to be lots of work involved -- lots and lots and lots and lots and lots. But every other dedicated writer is going to go through the same struggle. You're not alone in this journey. That's the beauty of the writing world -- just shouting the word, "editing," will result in loads of virtual hugs and chocolate.

You can conquer this story. Tackle it with your sharpest pencil and the bloodiest (hello, evil writer Katie) of red pens. Don't be afraid to look for encouragement. It will be needed through the despair and the tough times. I'm here for you. The blogging and writing community is here for you.

I know I've said a lot about how horrible editing it is (for good reason, because it's haaard), but if you can, try to have some fun with revisions. You can hate the bad, but also take the time to love the good. Grow with your characters. Watch as you craft those paragraphs into a writing voice that flows beautifully and is uniquely you. 

Go after editing with confidence, because both you and your story have what it takes.

Conquer the thing.

katie grace

how goes the editing or writing for you, my frens?

2017 GOALS

Saturday, January 7, 2017
There's a certain amount of fear that sneaks into my soul as I type out 2017. It sounds so big and important. When I was younger, seventeen was my favorite number, and this year always seemed so far off. 

And now it is 2017. There's a little bit of sad nostalgia when I think back... (I was so young and tiny!) but I'm determined to make this year awesome. 

New Years Resolutions are always happening this time of year. I usually make a list of goals I want to accomplish, like I did on the blog last year.

Here were my goals for last year and how I did on them:

1. Send my novel, Song of the Desert, to beta readers. HA. I did this one. It was terrifying, but one of the most helpful experiences, and I'm so thankful to all those who read it. You are all the best. *squishes you with hugs*

2. Post consistently on A Writer's Faith. Guys... I didn't miss a single post last year. Kind of confused with how that happened, but... yay?? Hoping to do this again in 2017! (and maybe throw in some extra posts more often)

3. Comment on other blogs. Only half crossing off this one. I did comment on blogs... I always visit bloggers who comment on mine. But I didn't make too much of an effort to comment on other blogs beside commenting back. So. Kind of a fail.

4. Read 100 books. Smacked this one out of the ballpark, seeing that I read 124 books. I started off splendidly in the beginning of the year, and then got worse as jobs and school and NaNo came along. :P

5. Stay caught up with school. This has been a success. So far. Heh.

6. Write one new draft. Mwahaha, I wrote two new drafts! They all stink and are a mess but I wrote them! :P *confetti*

7. Get a job. Yes! I am officially a barista at Starbucks and it is the most lovely thing. <3

8. Buy a big bookshelf. YES. I got a bookshelf, and now it's almost filled already. Sigh. #bookwormproblems

9. Go to a Twenty One Pilots concert. Another half-cross off, because I didn't go to one last year, but I got tickets for one that's in February! I AM SO PUMPED.

10. Go to bed before midnight on a consistent basis. Ha. Ha. Hahahaha. I'm so funny. SO FUNNY. Yeah. This definitely didn't happen. xD

Overall? I'm glad I met my goals. I'm not too surprised, though. I purposely kept them pretty simple because I knew it was going to be a busy year. :P So don't be too impressed that I met most of my goals -- I made them easy to suit me.

Here are my goals for 2017!

I love taking pictures. Making them look pretty, finding the right lighting, arranging the angle in the perfect way so it catches the eye. But I don't take pictures very often, and I want that to change. I'm looking forward to posting more on my Instagram, and connecting with all the fine and talented folks who are on there. (seriously, I'm blown away by the talent over on Instagram. o.o)
As I'm writing about this goal, I'm largely reconsidering it. :P This year might be more of an editing year. I have lots of projects that I need to sit down and make look pretty, so writing more books that will eventually need editing may not be the best idea. I will write at least one book this year. It's just a matter of deciding about the other one. :P

(*winces at the thought of editing for most of the year*)

[let's just pretend that the lightening and colors in this picture don't look as horrible as they actually do]

This is a terrifying goal -- things that involve other people reading my writing always are. But it's necessary, so I'm going to do the thing. People were so encouraging when they read the first book, so hopefully this one goes well. I'm in the middle (er... beginning...) of edits right now. Super excited, but also a teensy bit daunted at ALL. THE. WORK. IT. NEEDS. (so much rewriting. help.)


There are so many and I can't wait. Spiderman Homecoming (oh my goodness this looks like one of my new favorite movies), Beauty and the Beast, Thor: Ragnarok, A Monster Calls, The Lego Batman Movie(it looks stupidly hilarious xD), and the next Pirates of the Caribbean.

They all look fantastic, so I am going to (hopefully) be a very satisfied movie-goer this year. :P

I've been realizing how important it is to focus on Him through all the craziness. So many things in life are unsure, and when I graduate, I want to be firm with God, because He is the only sure thing in this world.

One of the things I'm doing this year is Scripture memorization! My goal is to memorize 52 verses (one a week). This is something my Church is doing, and I'm really excited to bring God's word closer to my heart. <3 Just in case you want to join me on this adventure... here's the link to the Facebook page. (I'm in charge of all the graphics, so you can also follow along if you want to view pretty pictures with powerful verses to encourage you throughout your week.)

I had this goal last year too. It's a nice round number that makes me happy and feel accomplished, so I'm going for it again! I am going to be busier than last year, so I'm a touch nervous about that. And I don't know if I'll have enough books to read. (shocker, right?) So many young adult books are filled with icky things, which makes it incredible hard to pick a book off the shelf without a second thought. -.-

But I've been gathering recommendations and plan to reread a bunch of my favorites, so it should be an amazing reading year. <3
I don't binge watch shows often, and I'd like to keep it that way(I procrastinate enough through Twitter and Facebook)... but I really do love getting wrapped up in a series occasionally. Last year I watched all the Sherlock seasons (which were absolutely fantastic and sparked a new love for murder mysteries/mysteries in general).

I have some shows on my list -- Merlin, Stranger Things, Firefly, Daredevil, Psych... and I know that there are many more out there that I'm missing. (so... if you have a favorite show, go ahead and suggest the thing.) The hard part is finding a way to watch it because I'm one of the only people in the world who doesn't have a netflix. :P

In my end of the year wrap-up post survey (thank you to all who took that, by the way. You're the absolute best. <3)... the number one thing you all requested by far is more vlogs. Which I was not expecting, but now I'm excited by the possibility of filming more, and the wheels are turning if I want to make this a regular YouTube thing or not. 

Regardless of what I decide, I will post some more rambling videos of my face this year, and I'm super excited. Vlogs seem a lot more personable and they're fun to make. (beside the fact that I feel awkward since I'm talking to a camera. :P)
I wrote a post that's going up on burning youth tomorrow expanding on this goal, but encouraging and inspiring others is something that makes my heart fill to the brim. So I want to be doing more of that this year -- in person and in the writing world.
- - -

It's going to be a crazy year, but I'm ready. I look forward to hopefully conquering all of these goals, and exploring other projects. I got a new bullet journal for Christmas, so be on the lookout for another post or two on that. :D

Oh! Also, if you want to see what I'm up to with writing projects and all that, I'll be updating allll the things on MyWriteClub. It's a lovely website for setting goals and tracking progress and you should definitely check it out.

I hope that 2017 is epic for all of you lovely people. <3
// katie grace

what are some of your goals for 2017?