Monday, October 31, 2016

The Blogger Recognition Award//TAG

Hello, all! I'm going to be doing something today that I have not done since the dark ages....

Okay, it hasn't been that long. But honestly, I can't remember the last time that I did a tag. Let's see if I remember how this works. :)

I want to thank the beautiful and talented Paige from Sunday Best and All the Rest  for nominating me. (If you don't read her blog, you should! It's a lovely little corner of the Web.)

How Did I Start Blogging?
I started blogging about two and half years ago. At that time I had just recently become a published author and I was looking for new ways to express my writing creativity as well as build an author brand and market my books. One of my brothers told me to try a blog, so I did. And I absolutely loved it! At first, my blog had absolutely no direction. I just wrote about random stuff (which is kind of still the case, honestly). But over the years I have steered most of my posts toward writing and my books. I still blog about other random happenings in my life. But literature is the main focus.

What Are Two Pieces of Advice that I have for New Bloggers?

1. Give your blog a theme. Do you want to blog about fashion? Review books? Talk about your personal struggles and victories? Now, to be fair, my blog is not the most focused blog out there. I jump around toward all sorts of topics some days. But I try to keep most of my posts within the realm of either a personal tidbit about my life or writing. I chose a fairly broad theme in the form of writing since I blog about books I've read, books I'm selling, books I'm writing, as well as new techniques I'm learning in the writing business and all sorts of other stuff. I find blogs with themes much more enjoyable to read (and read regularly). Your theme can be whatever interests you. Why are starting a blog in the first place? That should probably be your theme. And you can make it as narrow or broad as you like, but having a theme will give a focus to your blog so it isn't completely random. It's easier to build a following if your posts have similar content. People who like that sort of content will continue to come back to your blog.

2. Don't worry if it's not focused. Now, I know I just said to give your blog a theme. But my second piece of advice is definitely, "don't sweat it." If your blog is random and has no theme at all, that's okay. Just keep writing. Keep working at it. Don't give up because you don't have a theme or because no one is following your blog or for whatever reason. (Now, if blogging becomes tiresome and NOT enjoyable, then definitely give it up or find ways to make it fun again). But don't quit. And don't worry. You'll figure out how this world of blogging works before too long if you stick at it! :) (I'm definitely still learning as I go!). 

Now, to nominate other bloggers for this lovely award!

I don't have that many blogging connections yet (I'm not that great at connecting since I don't take the time to follow other blogs very often. So there's a third piece of advice for you...follow other blogs. Comment on other blogs. Build some connections and friendships.)

Candace of the blog Radiant


That is one sad list right there. Like I said, make connections. That is something I'll certainly try to work on myself.

It was fun to do another tag after such a long break from them, so thanks, Paige, for nominating me. It was enjoyable to look back at my journey as a blogger and consider what advice I might have for newer bloggers. It was also very illuminating in the sense that I realized I don't have many blogging connections. It's always nice to have something to work on though, a goal to accomplish. :)

The rules of the tag are as follows:

Thank the blogger who nominated you.
Tell a little bit about how you started blogging.
Give two pieces of advice for new bloggers.
Nominate other bloggers. (15 being the specified number, but obviously you can do I did...seriously, I need to work on that...)

Tag aside, there is someone else I also want to highlight, but as she is a brand-new blogger this tag/award hardly seemed appropriate for her specifically. At any rate, I'd love it if you all went over to Own It and checked out my sister's new blog! :)

Have a lovely day, everybody! :)

Friday, October 28, 2016

DUSTY//cover reveal

Hello, world!!

My newest novel is set to be released mid-December. My proof copy just arrived in the mail and in my excitement I decided to do what I always do. Share the new book cover with the world! :D


Look for Dusty-RH #3 on Amazon and Createspace in December. (I'll have links up on my books page once it's published). The whole series would make for a great Christmas gift too, if you're looking that far ahead. (I rarely have Christmas gifts this early. I'm too much of a procrastinator).


Okay, so the spine of Dusty is a tad boring sitting next to the other two colorful pops. But I do love the front cover! :) I also love how the size of each book is a bit bigger. By the time I finish this series I'll be writing epics!! Hopefully not, actually. I don't need that kind of work load, even if it is something that I love doing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Bane of my Creativity: Outlines

Do you know what used to terrify me? Give me nightmares and keep me up at night? Had me jumping at shadows?



Okay, but seriously. I used to hate the very idea of outlines. The way that I write seemed too perfect to mar with an outline. I discover my stories as I write them. I don't have a clue what is going on until it hits the paper. I love this! I have a blast journeying with my characters in this manner. I feel just as engaged, or even more so really, as when I read a novel. It's a beautiful experience.

And I was thoroughly convinced that outlines would stifle that creativity and kill the wonder of it all. If I made an outline, I'd already know what was coming and what would be the fun in that? There wouldn't be any fun, obviously. At least that is what I thought.

Recently, however, I have changed my mind.

I heard a fellow writer talking about the way that they do outlines and it sounded doable, and even fun. So I gave it a whirl. And you know what happened? I fell in love with outlines! And to my astonishment, it didn't kill creativity or ruin the wonderful experience that writing is.

What it did do, however, was give my stories more direction and make them less distractible. So, so many less bunny trails. So that was a good thing. And on top of that, it's fun to do outlines. At least, I'm finding it so. And far from stifling my creativity, it opened up my imagination even further....if that's possible.

You see, despite outlines, I still don't have a clue what is happening until it hits the page. The outlines give me a direction, and because of that direction the stories that I am currently writing are much more focused and I find them more enjoyable. But what the outlines did not do was lay out the story word for word, or even scene for scene. So I can still discover the journey along with my characters and it is still a beautiful thing.

So here is the only outlining method that ever appealed to me (and the one that I currently use):

First, I write out all of my ideas for the story I want to write on 3 by 5 cards. Although, currently, I'm just using lined paper that I've cut into smaller pieces because I don't have any 3 by 5 cards and am too lazy to go buy some. Anyway, I write down my ideas on these cards. For the book I am currently writing, Courageous Heart, a few of my idea cards say things like, "Discover the third" "find hope" "Inciting rebellion" "War against Single State" and so on.

Once I have a stack of these idea cards, I start to lay them out (on the floor, since that's a large enough space for me to work with. A table might be more preferable to other people, but not me). I arrange my idea cards in some sort of order. For example, from my cards listed above, I would have "find hope" near the beginning of the list and "War against Single State" near the end.  Really, I just put them in whatever order I think the story is going to go.

This is when I get a little more specific. I make more cards based off the ones I already have laid out. These news cards are a little more detailed. (i.e. Where Cindy and Cassy find hope, specific battles to take place in the War against Single State, where do Cindy and Cassy discover the third, etc.). I repeat this process several times until I have the basic outline of a story.

At this point, I have one long line of cards. So I start the next process. Breaking up the cards into groups, which will later become chapters. I slowly work my way down the line of cards, removing one or two or seven or however many I think go together, and I start to create columns. When I'm done, I've got a whole book outlined chapter by chapter. This is confusing for me to read, and I know what it is that I'm trying to say, so I'll give you a picture to hopefully clarify any confusion.

And then I begin to write. And things go crazy. The outline is just a framework, it's not hard and fast rules that must be obeyed. If things change from the original outline, that's fantastic. If things stay relatively the same, still fantastic. So far, for me, it has depended entirely on the story I'm writing whether the outline changes or not. And also how much I outline to begin with. I have one story that has a massively detailed outline and then I have Courageous Heart which is much more limited. (There are many, many more cards that the few I listed here as examples though. It's not THAT small of an outline).

I can't explain why, specifically, I enjoy this method of outlining. But I do know that I have a ton of fun doing it! :) If you're an author and, like me, have always run for the hills when outlines appeared...I would suggest giving it a try. Research different methods to outline stories and then try one out. You might be surprised by how much you actually enjoy doing outlines. And I am 100% sure that your stories will be more focused and more enjoyable to read because of that.

Happy Writing, everyone!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Gifts from China

My little sister recently returned from a trip to China and she brought me all sorts of goodies :) I thought today I would just share some of the cool presents she brought home for me.

This is a gorgeous hair piece she gave to me:

 A beautiful silk scarf! 

Calligraphy pen! I am so stoked about this one! I love all the things she brought me but this is 100% my favorite!! :)

Pretty journal. Too pretty. I don't think I could ever write on the pages of this journal.

My first attempt using the calligraphy pen. I ran out of ink. I think I did alright for a first go though.

I am super excited about learning to use the calligraphy pen. The silk scarf and the hair piece will likely also see a lot of use. I still can't decide if I'll actually write in that journal though. Every page is so beautiful! Almost too beautiful to mar with writing. We'll see. I don't know. At any rate, I love all the little things my sister got for me. I am very blessed. :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Identity Crisis

It's October! Hurrah!

I love October. But then, I love every month. But October is the month of my birth, so it's extra special.

Dusty is deep in the editing process...

This is a process that tests my patience with every novel. But this particular book also brought about a little bit of an identity crisis.

I recently did a post about my identity being in Christ and not being defined by my stories or what people think of said stories. The last few weeks have been instrumental in teaching me to believe that with my heart, not just know it in my head and post it to a blog.

In general, with my writing, I get positive feedback. Almost always. I don't have a lot of experience with criticism. So when one of my beta readers told me that my book was basically too boring to read, I broke. There was an hour of tears and coming to the conclusion that my story was worthless. And then there was a whole day of "Why do I write anyway? This is stupid. I'm pathetic. I'm a failure."

And then there God, whispering to my heart.

"You are not your stories. You are more than that. You are my daughter. You are a princess, the child of the Most High God. You are not worthless. I created you in my own image, I clothed you with my righteousness."

Knowing something and believing are not the same thing. And I had a bit of a struggle with that for about a week. What is my real identity? What does truly define me?

I am a child of the Most High. His definition of who I am is what matters. Nothing else. Whether I write another story or not, doesn't matter. It doesn't change who I am.

And after finally accepting that truth, I sat down to do some revisions to my story. And it has gone beautifully. I'm loving my story all the more, I feel that I have grown in my writing as I apply the feedback I received. But more than anything, this experience has deepened my relationship with my Abba. Daddy. Constructive criticism is great for writing. Who knew it was also great for my walk with Jesus?