What I’ve Been Doing Lately

One thing I haven’t done lately is one of these posts! 🙂 So today I thought I’d share with my readers what I’ve been up to.

Apologizing for not posting on Friday! I caught a cold Thursday night and didn’t feel well enough to work on a blog post. Sorry about that. 🙂 I’m finally feeling better now!

Naming my new characters! I’m pretty excited about my new idea and so when I was feeling better, I looked for character names. I think I’ve settled on the perfect ones!

Listening to “I Don’t Dance” by Lee Brice and “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry. “If I Die Young” fits my character Tay really, really well, so I’ve been listening to it as I write.

Excited to role play with my friends as my new characters. I typically role play as Tay and Misha, so I’m looking forward to using different characters.

Reading Walden by Henry Thoreau and Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. I’m loving Julius Caesar so far, but not enjoying Walden so much.

Wrapping up my WIP. I’m excited to finish it and move on to my new novel! 😀

Wanting to get back to my writing. Thanks to my cold, I haven’t been accomplishing much, and I want to get back to work!

Wishing I was doing Camp NaNo next month. I decided not to do it since I wanted keep to my editing schedule and finish my WIP. Still, I was torn because I love doing NaNo, and I’ll miss not doing it this month!

Enjoying working on editing Snow with my friend. It’s a lot of fun getting her comments back!

And these have nothing to do with writing, but I added them anyway:

Disliking the dissections I’m doing in biology. So far I’ve dissected an earthworm and a crayfish. 😛

Thankful the weather is finally warming up! 😀

Thanking you for reading. 🙂

~ Kayla

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Monthly Link Share – Breaking Bottles

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these! Today I’m changing that by sharing some links that I’ve found useful and entertaining this month. 🙂

I’ve always struggled with describing characters beyond their hair and eye color, and this article explains how to do it!

http://jodyhedlund.blogspot.com/2014/09/describing-characters-moving-beyond.html

In my current WIP, my character Misha has quite the temper, and somehow, he always ends up in a fight. I’ve had to learn a lot about fight scenes, and this blog post offers some great tips.

https://lisavoisin.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/fiction-friday-8-things-writers-forget-when-writing-fight-scenes/

There is a scene in my current novel where my character’s hair gets cut by a knife. I was curious to see if that could actually happen, and while doing some research, I stumbled upon this series of 3 blog posts where this lady tests whether or not someone can actually break a bottle, cut their hair with a knife, and destroy documents with fire in the real world. I’ve linked to the first episode which is whether or not you can actually smash a bottle.

http://tracynjorgensen.blogspot.com/2011/06/episode-1-breaking-bottles.html

All this talk about breaking bottles reminded me of one of my favorite YouTube videos. Breaking bottles hurts a lot, just ask these two bikers. 😉

In the past few weeks, mythical has become my new favorite word. Why? Well, if you’ve never heard of Rhett & Link, you’re missing out. They’re two best friends who make videos on YouTube full time. They have a daily talk show called Good Mythical Morning that will not only teach you a bunch of strange facts and help you discover if something will or won’t pizza, but also give you a brand new mythical way to start your day. One of my very favorite episodes of Good Mythical Morning is “The Ultimate Water Taste Test.” In fact, I loved it so much, I went out and bought two of the waters they tested in the episode, BLK water and Voss water (featured in the show after the show called Good Mythical More) to taste them for myself!

Thanks for clicking, watching, and reading! 🙂

~ Kayla

Quote of the Week

This week’s quote comes from Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander. I’m coming close to wrapping up my current WIP, so I’ve started working on my characters for my next idea. This includes creating that inciting incident that gets my MC into trouble and directs the rest of the plot.

“When in doubt, make trouble for your character. Don’t let her stand on the edge of the pool, dipping her toe. Come up behind her and give her a good hard shove. That’s my advice to you now. Make trouble for your character. In life we try to avoid trouble. We chew on our choices endlessly. We go to shrinks, we talk to our friends. In fiction, this is deadly. Protagonists need to screw up, act impulsively, have enemies, and get into TROUBLE.” – Janet Fitch

~ Kayla

The Books I’ve Read Recently

*sad trombone plays* I’ve pretty much totally failed at keeping my goal. This past year I was trying to read 4 books a month, and lately I’ve been reading more like one or two books a month. My excuse? Recently, I’ve been going through reader’s block. I haven’t really wanted to read anything. Even with my reader’s block, I’ve still had some books to read for school, so I thought I’d share the books I’ve read in the past few months. 🙂

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

This book is about a girl named Cia who is chosen for the Testing, a test run by the government to decide whether to admit her to the university to help rebuild their broken world or to send her back to her colony. The story is pretty good, though it has its cliché YA dystopian moments. However, I still enjoyed it, and it had me on the edge of my seat.

The Bulletproof George Washington by David Barton

I read this book for school. It traces George Washington’s history through the French and Indian War to the Revolutionary War and how God protected him through it all.

The Deadliest Monster: A Christian Introduction to Worldviews by J.F. Baldwin

Baldwin compares two famous literary monsters, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Hyde, to the worldviews that we see in the world. I read this book for school as well. It was really interesting how Baldwin went through the comparisons and how the monsters so perfectly paralleled our different views of mankind.

The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

There are good, enjoyable classics…and there are some not so enjoyable classics. This was the not so enjoyable kind. Conrad’s writing style is so unclear most of the time, I had no idea what was going on, making it very hard to enjoy the novel. The Heart of Darkness is the story of a man named Marlow who experiences European Imperialism first hand in Africa as he travels down the Congo as a steamship captain.

Manga Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet adapted by Richard Appignanesi and illustrated by Sonia Leong

This series combines two of my favorite things, Shakespeare and manga, into one awesome combo. The dialogue in the novel is almost exact to the original Shakespearian play. I already read Romeo and Juliet a few years ago for school, so this read-through was just for fun. Even though I knew what happened, I couldn’t put the book down. The manga illustrations made it even better, bringing the play to life in a whole new way!

Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey (Marvel Classics) by Nancy Butler

When I saw this book at my library, I had to get it after I realized that it was by Marvel. I knew it was going to be fantastic, and I wasn’t disappointed. My biggest problem with Jane Austen is the fact that I never have any clue who’s talking. Since it was in graphic novel form, I could finally understand exactly who was saying what, making the story even more enjoyable! Northanger Abbey tells of Catherine Morland, who longs to be like a heroine in one of her Gothic novels. Her chance comes when she travels with her neighbors, the Allens, to the city of Bath and meets Henry Tilney.

The Aeneid by Virgil

This is the classic story of Aeneas and his search for his destined land of Rome. I read this one for school, and just like with the Odyssey and the Iliad, I really enjoyed it.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Any advice for getting over reader’s block? Comment below and let me know! 🙂

~ Kayla

Weekly Writing Wrap-Up: March 13 – 19

Welcome to my Weekly Writing Wrap-Up for the week.

Total Word Count for the Week: 4,568

Top Writing Day: My top writing day was Tuesday with 1,345 words.

What I Worked On: I worked on Hunger Games fanfiction, my novel, and editing Snow.

The Good News: I came up with a new idea for a novel that I’m excited about!

The Bad News: I didn’t write every day.

Lesson Learned: Whenever I think up a new novel idea, I usually wait a few days for my subconscious to work on it. I came up with my idea on Sunday and desperately wanted to start it that day. I made myself wait and now I’ve got a even better idea of where it’s going and what I want to do with the plot. Now I just need to wait until I finish my current WIP, and I can start it!

Goal for Next Week: My goal is to edit the next chapter of Snow and write at least 1000 words in my novel.

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

My Online Writing Class

On Tuesday, I posted my narrative essay I wrote for my online writing class. I mentioned how much I’ve been enjoying the class and how much it’s helped me, and so, today, I thought I would explain a little bit more about it.

I’ve always disliked writing non-fiction and found that it’s really hard for me to write. I struggle with making sure my points flow logically, and I tend to jump to conclusions without explanation. I also have a hard time looking at my writing from a reader’s point of view and editing in general.

I’m homeschooled, so for years, it was just my mom and I working on my papers. We tended to butt heads a lot, and I always felt like I could never meet her standards for a good paper. This year, she decided to avoid the fights altogether and have me take an online class.

I don’t remember where she found Fortuigence, but I’m glad she did, because it’s been a great class for me. I really like my instructor, Ms. I. I submit my work on the class website, and she emails me with both positive feedback and changes that would make my writing better. Whenever I email her with a question, she always gets right back to me.

It’s funny because Ms. I is always so impressed with my writing. I feel like I can meet Ms. I’s standards and that helps me to do better. I love the five-step writing process they have set up for the class, because it breaks the essay down into manageable portions that I feel like I can handle. I have four different essays I have to write for the class. The first, a personal narrative essay, I just posted on my blog. I recently finished working on the persuasive paper, and I’m brainstorming on my new essay, textual analysis. My final essay of the year is an expository essay.

Even though I’m enjoying my class, I still don’t really like writing essays. However, I feel like I’ve learned a lot and that it’s something I can do now. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Quote of the Week

Today’s quote comes from Will Self, author of The Book of Dave. One thing I learned when I’m writing a rough draft is that I can’t reread what I wrote. I get discouraged when I find plot holes or when I feel like my writing doesn’t sound as good as it should. Then I end up deciding the whole idea is a waste and throw out my draft. So, I’ve learned never to reread until I start editing. That way, I can get the idea down and then start working on the problems that need to be fixed.

“Don’t look back until you’ve written an entire draft, just begin each day from the last sentence you wrote the preceding day. This prevents cringing feelings, and means you have a substantial body of work before you get down to the real work which is all in … the edit.” – Will Self

~ Kayla

Personal Narrative Essay

If you remember, a while back I wrote a series of posts about how much I hate writing essays and what I was learning about them in the curriculum I was using. Well, I still hate writing essays. I really do. However, I think I must have gotten a little better at them. I’m currently taking an online writing class from Fortuigence, and I’ve actually been enjoying it. A few months ago, I had to write a personal narrative essay, and I chose to focus on my writing. My instructor, Ms. I., really liked it and posted it on the website’s blog. Today I thought I would share it with my readers! 🙂 You can find the essay on Fortuigence’s website or down below. 🙂

From the time I was very young, I loved creating stories. One of my earliest memories is of my imaginary friends, Toovay and Guspashaw. Where the names came from, I don’t remember. My mom would pull me down the street in a red wagon through a nearby neighborhood.

“Is this Toovay’s house?” she would ask.

Solemnly, I would shake my head. “No, this isn’t Toovay’s house.”

We’d move onto the next house, and the questions would start over. “Is this Toovay’s house?”

Whether it was the brick house on the corner or the white house with the porch, Toovay’s house would change every time. When we’d finally reached the house of my “friend,” I would nod and say, “Yes, this is Toovay’s house.”

“Should we knock on the door?” my mom ask.

“No, he’s not home,” was my reply every time.

Then the search would continue, Toovay’s house changing once again, as our walk went on. Occasionally we searched for Pooh Bear and Tigger even though we didn’t live anywhere near the Hundred Acre Wood. Sometimes I’d stop looking for their houses and invite them over to mine. Clifford the Big Red Dog was invited over for dinner many times, though he never came. I’d sit out in the driveway waiting for him, but that big red dog never showed up. As I grew older, my interests changed, though my love of creating stories and imagining didn’t. Instead of searching for characters’ houses, I now wanted to be them, pretending I was characters straight out of my favorite movies, shows, and books. I’d drag my mom into my games, since playing an entire movie cast by myself wasn’t easy! I created complex plots for these characters, keeping their stories going in my head. It was my favorite way to pass the time, and I couldn’t get enough of it. The authors and their characters inspired me to tell my own stories, and it was something that I one day wanted to become an author whose characters inspired others.

I remember taking a glittery, pink notebook and scribbling down a story. I was only two or three, so my writing was more like swirls on a page. When I finished the story, I flipped back to the beginning, eager to read it. To my disappointment, I couldn’t remember what I had written nor read my scribbles! That’s when I realized it was important to write my stories down if I wanted to remember any of them. It was years later, however, when I actually tried writing stories down. I had various notebooks filled with beginnings of stories everywhere. Some were attempts at historical fiction, some were fantasy, but I never finished any of them, usually deeming them not good enough to continue writing. When I finally had my own computer, I started typing out story ideas. The first story I ever finished was a historical fiction story set in Roman occupied Britain. It was nineteen pages long, a record for me at that time. I printed it out and put it in a binder that substituted as a book cover. It was several months later when I attempted to write another story, this time a fantasy story inspired heavily by one of my favorite book series, Redwall by Brian Jacques. My cast of talking squirrels, foxes, rabbits, and raccoons, saved their home of Rosewood from the evil white squirrel warlord. It took me several months of writing to finally finish the story. As I became older, my focus changed from fantasy squirrels to the darker, dystopian stories, working on and off on a novel I’d titled The Last Four. Though I never finished The Last Four, that novel taught me some valuable lessons about writing that prepared me to write my first full length novel, Homeland.

On November 1st, 2013, I started writing Homeland for NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo as it’s sometimes shortened to, is the challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel in one month. It’s a community event as writers of all-ages band together to support one another in what can be the trying and crazy challenge of writing a novel in one month. There’s no judges and one of the promises is that no one has to read your draft. At the end, you’re left with a rough draft of a novel, that still needs a lot of editing, but it’s a finished story! A finished story was my goal when I signed up for the Young Writer’s Program NaNoWriMo, the teen version of the challenge, allowing the participant to choose their own word count goal. Since it was my first go-round, I chose to write 35,000 words. To say I was nervous was an understatement. I’d never finished one “real” novel with no deadline, how could I possibly write one in a month? That November was the month I learned the secret to finishing a novel. The secret? Just write. For the first time, the idea of writing a bad first draft and to never give up writing finally clicked. I couldn’t remember a month where I had more fun. On November 25th I had a 40,000 word novel saved on my hard drive, completed several days early. To “win” NaNoWriMo, the only requirement is that you copy and paste your novel into a word counter to make sure you’ve gotten the right word count. It was a little scary copy and pasting my novel into the counter. Despite the fact that my computer had recorded the word count, I was still worried that I wouldn’t have enough words. In fact, it counted 40,001 instead of 40,000. I had won! I finally felt like a “real” writer. I had a real novel. Homeland still needed a lot of work to be finished though. It was a mess of a rough drafts with more plot holes then I could count, but it was a finished story and I was proud of it. Now that I knew the secret to writing a novel, I couldn’t wait to start another one.

My novel writing didn’t stop there. On Christmas Eve, 2013, I started working on another project that would become Snow. In the crazy whirlwind that was writing that rough draft, I learned even more about writing, learning that I, personally, didn’t need an outline to write. Snow turned into my favorite novel, and now, I’m currently editing it. I fell in love with the story in a way that I haven’t with any of my other projects. The story wrote itself in a way, and I was just along for the ride! After finishing Snow, I signed up for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo. As I had the (foolish) hope of having enough time to write a novel and edit, I signed up for 45,000 words. I finished my third novel, God Save the Queen, with 48,000 words. July’s Camp NaNo was coming up and yet I still hadn’t written one 50,000 word novel. The middle of summer seemed the best time to take the plunge. At the end of the month, I had a 55,000 word novel titled Fences. So far, I’ve only had time to work on editing Snow.

As a writer, I know there are lots of things I still have to learn. I know it’s important to write every day, which is why I have weekly word count goals that help keep me writing. My local library system also hosts writing workshops, and I attend every one I can find. I’ve also attended a NaNoWriMo workshop while during my first NaNoWriMo. I’ve learned a lot about setting and showing, not telling from them, and I’m thankful I got to go! I also read blogs and books on writing, trying to learn as much as I can. My favorite blog is called Go Teen Writers, and I regularly comment on their posts as well as just read them. I also started my own blog, called Concerning Writing, mainly so others can read it. So far, I’ve been able to post several fan fictions and the first chapters of two of my novels. I’ve enjoyed the chance to share my work with others and to hear their thoughts and feelings about a world and story I’ve had in my head for so long.

Moving forward, I want to continue to write every day. I plan to participate in this November’s NaNoWriMo and for the second time, write a 50,000 word novel. At some point soon I hope to submit one of my novels to a publisher to gain experience actually submitting a manuscript. In the more distant future, I hope to eventually publish a novel and become a successful, professional author. Another dream of mine is to see a movie made of one of my books. I catch myself daydreaming about which actors will play which roles, who will write the soundtrack, and what the script will be like. I still have a lot of work to do to get to that point, but I believe with discipline and hard work I can become one of those authors whose characters will inspire someone else just as I was inspired when I was young.

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Weekly Writing Wrap-Up: March 6 – 12

Welcome to my Weekly Writing Wrap-Up for the week.

Total Word Count for the Week: 5,896

Top Writing Day: My top writing day was Wednesday with 1,344 words.

What I Worked On: I worked on Hunger Games fanfiction, my novel, and editing Snow.

The Good News: I figured out where I wanted my WIP’s plot to go at last!

The Bad News: I didn’t write every day.

Lesson Learned: Earlier in the week, I couldn’t figure out how to turn my MC from a rule-abiding citizen to a traitor. I decided to take a break from my WIP and work on fanfiction over the weekend. On Sunday afternoon, it hit me what to do. So, even though I didn’t make my goal of writing 600 words a day in my novel, the break was still useful because it allowed me to take a step back, work through the problem, and figure out the perfect solution!

Goal for Next Week: My goal is to edit the next chapter of Snow and write at least 1000 words in my novel.

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Mockingjay Part 1: Quick Review

Disclaimer: If you haven’t seen the movie yet, don’t read beyond this point! There are spoilers below.

I’ve been waiting for what seems like forever to see Mockingjay! I pre-ordered the DVD from Amazon back in January, and it finally shipped. I knew it was supposed to arrive yesterday, and as soon as I saw the mail truck, I dashed down the driveway and pulled a yellow envelope from the mailbox. My wait was over. Of course, after all that waiting, I had to watch it! I was pleased that the movie exceeded my high expectations and followed the book closely! 🙂

Things I Liked:

1. The Hanging Tree scene was one of my favorite scenes. It was so well done and stuck very closely to the book. Jennifer Lawrence’s singing voice is dead on for Katniss. It’s become one of my favorite songs to listen to.

2. I liked how they showed Peeta in each of the clips from the Capitol as slowly getting worse and worse. It was heartbreaking, but I thought they did a really nice job illustrating what the Capitol was doing to him.

3. The “If we burn, then you burn with us!” scene was so chilling and amazing!

4. I liked that they added Effie back into Mockingjay. I really love Effie’s character and was disappointed at the lack of Effie in the book. I’m glad she was in the movie, at least!

5. Buttercup was adorable. I’m glad they left the scene in where Katniss and Prim entertained everyone in the shelters with Buttercup chasing the flashlight.

6. Finnick and Annie’s reunion was perfect. As I’m more fond of Finnick and Annie as a couple than even Peeta and Katniss, I’ve been looking forward to the reunion for forever. It was just like I pictured it when I read the book. 🙂

Things I Didn’t Like:

1. They changed Gale from the book. In the movie, he talked about Peeta being a coward, where in the book, he never did that. Gale sounded much more like a jerk in the movie, in my opinion.

2. The District 13 schedules were underplayed. They had a much bigger role in the book than the movie, and I was looking forward to seeing that.

3. I’m a bit biased because Finnick is my very favorite character in the series, but he was really cut from the movie. He had a lot of lines in the book, but he barely got any screen time.

4. While I liked having more of Effie, I didn’t like that she completely took over the roles of Octavia, Fulvia, and Venia. I really liked the scene in the book where Katniss found them imprisoned and horribly mistreated by the District 13 guards. When Katniss freed them, it showed Katniss’s tender side and the fact that she recognized not all Capitol citizens were evil.

5. The beginning of the movie where Katniss was hiding from the guards was a bit different than the book’s beginning of her standing in a destroyed District 12. I personally preferred the book’s beginning.

What did you think of Mockingjay? What did you like about it and what didn’t you like? Let me know in the comments below!

~ Kayla