23 Things I Did Last Month

Confession time: I DID not blog at all last month.

When I said I was holing up in the revising cave, I realllllllly followed through. To a point where I was actually starting to suffer from bad hip pain because I was freakishly dedicated to nonstop BICHOK-ing (a.k.a Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard). Even though I was pretty knee-deep in revising land, June was all around awesome…especially because it was my birthday month! So to make up for the lack of posting, and in honor of turning 23, here’s a list of 23 things I did in June aside from being a writing cave monster.

  1. OBVIOUSLY I had my birthday, and it was full of editing, chicken nuggets, and yummy sangria.

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2. RECEIVED TICKETS TO A JOHN WILLIAMS’ FILM NIGHT FROM MY CP LOVELIES MADDY AND AKSHAYA!!!! Ughh, I can’t wait to be drowning in all the spectacular movie music. I’ll most likely be the sobbing fool in the audience.

3. I had the ultimate Pocahontas moment by going kayaking with my family. My sister and I were singing as we rowed the entire time, and by the time we were done, our arms were practically noodles.

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~JUST AROUND THE RIVERBEND~

4. Puppy sat Master Skywalker, who is the best writing companion when he’s not begging for attention and belly rubs.

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5. Discovered a maybe-new-story idea during my daily walks with Master Skywalker. Still super new, but definitely letting it stew in my brain for a bit!

6. Also taught Master Skywalker how to play the piano. He shall now be known as Maestro Skywalker. (ok no not really he just bangs on the keys when I tell him to . . . for treats, of course)

7. Received ample payment for my puppy-sitting services from my sister and her husband after their trip to Disney.

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Pocahontas Power Pins!

8. Went to my brother’s HS graduation, which was filled with lots of emotions, tears, and screaming. Casual.

9. Met Maggie Stiefvater on her Raven King tour! That woman is seriously a standup comedian, she’s HYSTERICAL. Plus, I absolutely knew which car was hers in the parking lot and love how badass USURPER looks on a license plate.

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10. Started reading a book of Rumi’s poetry and loving it.

11. Was a slush reader for the Writing from Color and Native Voices contest which was FANTASTIC. The entries were so amazing and a true honor to read, and I can’t wait to see all the successes to come with this contest!

12. One day, went on a super random impromptu road trip to Connecticut to see . . . wait for it . . .

13. ANASTASIA THE MUSICAL. It was SUCH a dream come true to see this because Anastasia is hands down one of my favorite movies. The musical is definitely way different than the movie, but I actually enjoyed the differences way more than I thought I would. The sets were gorgeous, the dancers were incredible, and the music was absolutely amazing. I’m aching for the soundtrack to come out!

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14. Finally went to a yoga session after more than a year away . . . and boy, did I feel the after-effects hard the next morning. In a good way. I’d love to pick it up again to improve my flexibility and not constantly hunch over like an old lady.

15. Went on a family nature hike during Father’s Day on an absolutely gorgeous day.

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16. Tweeted constantly (it’s my ultimate procrastination escape) and met even more lovely writing friends!!

17. Rewatched the Cheetah Girls, and forgot how funny the lines are in this precious movie.

18. Downloaded a text-to-speech converter which allowed me to listen to my manuscript like an audio book! My preferred robot narrator is Moira, and her Irish accent is very soothing.

19. Commiserated with my writing buddies over revision woes many a time because even if it feels like we’re all sinking, we’re sinking together which makes all the difference.

20. Realized a list of 23 things is way too much for my boring homebody self.

21. Journeyed into the city to meet up with my wonderful pal and Pitch Wars co-mentor Axie. And of course, we wouldn’t be able to properly call ourselves obsessive writers without squeezing in a work date.

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22. My pregnant sister is due fairly soon, and I finally felt my nephew kick in her stomach for the first time! Cue all the tears and baby excitement!

23. I may or may not have FINALLY conquered my first round of revisions . . . *slinks away mischievously*

Right now, I am in lovely Las Vegas again with my even lovelier writer friends Maddy, Akshaya, Erin, Amanda, and Axie for Leviosa Con! The hotel is AMAZING, and we are currently work-dating at a Starbucks because we’re clearly the kind of writers who can’t stop, won’t stop.

Tomorrow the con will officially be in full swing, which means HP fangirling, panels, meeting other writers, and meeting my agent! I’m SO excited to write up a longer post on all of these Leviosa shenanigans after this trip 😀 For now, back to critiquing work and hanging with my glorious CPs!

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Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend! I’m still waddling around from the post-holiday high, my body probably made up of 80% Cadbury chocolate at this point and now suffering from it.

Chocolate comas aside, I just want to give another HUGE thank you to everyone for all the overwhelming support and congratulations to me on landing my agent! The responses to my ‘How I Got My Agent’ post were even more tear-inducing and overwhelming (my blog was actually shaking at one point from the tidal wave of new visitors—hello new peeps! *waves*). I was immensely happy to hear from so many people who could relate to it, and those who said it was just the sort of post they needed to read at that point in their writing journey. Overall, I’m just extremely grateful for the loveliness of the writing community, and everyone in it. ❤

Now that the celebrations and social media-isms have been said and done, we all know what the next step is.

GET. TO. WORK.

My family and a lot of people have been wondering how I’ve spent the past week celebrating, and nothing surprises them more than when I tell them how the inner-workings of my mind have come to resemble a hamster wheel in constant, furious motion. I like to call this hectic mental period my warm welcome back to the wonderful world of revisions.

Here’s a rundown on how it all started (accompanied by my constantly interfering and incoherent inner-thoughts):

-sign with Agent Wonderful

(*cue confetti canon*)

-to my utter shock and delight, receive edit letter faster than expected because she is super on top of things

-freak out because I actually have an edit letter

(*It was kind of like a myth to me up until that point)

-proceed to freak out even further because ohmygoodness I love my MS, but I haven’t looked at it in a while!

(*Let me clarify: to keep me from getting too down in the querying trenches, I started my new WIP, Phantom Fantasy, which I’m soooo excited about! No surprise, it took me a while to get out of Pirate Fantasy world in order to draft Phantom Fantasy. And because the universe likes to pick on me, it soon became the other way around)

-calmly leave the edit letter alone in my inbox until I can get my story worlds sorted and feel comfortably back in Pirate Fantasy Land

(*Battle Plan of Story Immersion: listen to the old epic playlists, watch Pirates of the Caribbean, attempt to catch up on Black Sails, go through old journals, upload MS to e-reader to reread without the temptation of editing every other sentence…)

-still semi-celebrating, still fully feeling the weight of the editorial elephant in my inbox

(*Stop looking at me like that, you unread email)

-because I just can’t celebrate any longer, start reading MS again with the fear that it’s awful

(*You know how sometimes you hate watching yourself on home videos because the sound of your own voice makes you cringe? It’s a little like that)

-sheepishly come to the realization that the experience is not as awful as I’d anticipated, and breathe a sigh of relief

(*Hooray! I’m not terrible!)

-FINALLY read edit letter right after not-so-bad read through so that I could let the ideas simmer and sleep on it

(*Literally. I finished it super late at night and actually had no choice but to go to sleep right after)

-print out letter the next morning for the purpose of reading through it again, this time with a highlighter and pen in hand to ruthlessly mark up the pages

(*highlighter and pen = revision weapons of choice)

-the notes start to sink in, which brings on a wave of panic over all of the things I’ll have to change and I’m not sure if I can do it

(*OH MY GOD EVERYTHING IS BROKEN)

-panic attack averted when I realize that I can definitely do this, and remain super floored by all the brilliant and spot-on comments that will make this MS strong as hell

(*Chill. You may have encountered a high mountain, but you can climb it)

-start going through MS document to see other minor comments in track changes, then proceed to blush at all of my embarrassing typos/awkward sentences

(*You had ONE job, writer of things that should at least be readable…)

-shake off mortification and go through the MS document comments once again, taking notes by hand on piles of loose leaf paper that have been separated into categories

(*Yes, this is me taking notes on notes. In order to get ideas to thoroughly sink in during revisions, I have to write them out an excessive amount of times)

-fan myself proudly with large stack of notes before reading through them all over again to process and start brainstorming solutions

(*IT’S GO TIME)

-slightly fail, only because I’m still halfway in Phantom Fantasy when I just want to situate myself in Pirate Fantasy

(*OK, IT’S NOT GO TIME)

-make character sheets as suggested and wonder if I should give Scrivener a try…

(*cue creepy horror music*)

-immediately regret everything because Scrivener is terrifying and pretty much a different language to me

(*OH GOD IT’S LIKE OPENING PANDORA’S BOX)

-by some miracle, I manage to get down the basics of Scrivener’s cork board feature

(*Huzzah! I’ve finally done something right!)

-continues the aggressive note-taking tango by writing up more notes on my notes on my agent’s notes in the not-so-scary Scrivener cork board

(*On virtual index cards this time!)

-FINALLY, finally, finally—out of the blue—I hear my characters talking back to me in my head and could just cry from happiness right now

(*Otherwise known as the period when nobody approaches me because I look like a crazy person)

-Characters talking back to me means I’m on the right track, so I dig back into my mountain of notes and add alllllll the new ideas

(*Thank the writing gods)

So it took a rocky start to get me back on the path, but I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. Sometimes you need those moments of doubt to remember that they’ll never be as strong as your overarching enthusiasm and motivation to get back in that chair so you can write.

With that being said, HUGE changes are afoot within this round of revisions. Changes can be scary, but they are necessary. They can also be very exciting, which is where I’m at right now. Hopefully I can get a lot done before I head off to Las Vegas for this year’s RT with my lovely CPs Erin, Katy, Akshaya, and Maddy! But until then, cheers to all the changes that are happening—and may they always be for the better 😀

The Dark Days Are Over—It’s Mah Birthday!

Welp, it’s been QUITE a while—mostly because of this funny-not-so-funny story: I’ve been recovering from a pretty bad eye infection for a little more than a week, which was seriously the WORST. I felt like a vampire for the majority of the time since I couldn’t be anywhere near the sun or bright lighting, and the worst of it was I could hardly read a single word from a book or any sort of screen. Thus, I was on a forced break from my computer and books, which meant I was suffering SEVERE withdrawals from my work and anything having to do with words.

Oh boy, those days were dark.

On the upside, I was able to finish Outlander season 1 (HOLY CRAP SO INTENSE). On a bigger upside, I’ve been on the mend, been slowly able to read more books, and now, I’m well enough that my computer and I are happily back together.

And what better way to celebrate my official return back to the world of blogging than on my birthday!!!!!

So before I go back to do more birthday shenanigans (aka go to my last eye appointment, praise), here are just some small updates:

Reading Things: GUYS, I’VE BEEN READING. I feel like I’m always making promises to read more since pirate fantasy seems to be taking over my life (in a good way), but one blessing about the cursed eye infection was that I got to read some good ol’ books while I was woefully separated from my computer. My most recent reads were Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, Dark Descendant by Jenna Black, White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout, and Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover. It was a cool variety which certainly helped me in getting over my reading slump! I’m determined to get through a lot more because it’s embarrassing how very little book posts I’ve made compared to my television ones . . .

Watching Things: So, as mentioned, I finished the first season of Outlander (now I’ve got to tackle that book . . .) and have kept up with my Avatar obsession (I’m reallllly stretching out season 3 because I don’t want it to end!). Some new additions to the television mix are UnREAL (such a dark and fantastic take on the behind-the-scenes aspect of shows like the Bachelor—naturally, I’m obsessed) and the new season of Orange Is the New Black (one of the crown jewels of Netflix).

But, aside from television, I watched Jurassic World and thought it was AWESOME and such a fun! Sure there was a ton more violence than in JP, but with our current audience who loves the actions and thrills, I’m not entirely surprised by its direction. Still, it was super entertaining, pumped with nostalgia, and I absolutely LOVED Chris Pratt’s character *heart eyes*. Also watched Inside Out yesterday which seriously punched me hard in the feels. I’m pretty sure I cried throughout the whole movie because I’m that movie-watcher. But overall, it was so clever, well-planned, and beautifully done.

Music Things: Oh boy, in the spirit of more crying and Disney, here is the song from the Pixar short film before Inside Out which was so sweet, poignant, and naturally drove me to tears all throughout.

Another Disney track I’m currently obsessed with is the “Transformation/Finale” from Beauty and the Beast, which goes from heart-achingly sad in the beginning to gorgeously triumphant by the end. Of course, tears all the way through.

Life Things: I’m going to be obnoxious again and say it’s my birthday because it only happens once out of the year 😀 I’m thankful for everything and everyone in my life, and I’m so excited to see what this year brings! I’m especially thankful for these bad boys which I’ve been shamelessly spamming all over my social media feeds because I LOVE them so much! Thank you again Akshaya and Maddy, you two are the bestests ❤

Sooooooo pretty

Enter the Writing Cave (at your own risk)

No joke.

Writers who write know that the cave is not all sunshine and rainbows of endless creativity. I mean, I guess it can be in some way. Entering the writing cave can be like a fun, exciting creative pillow you get to fall on when you’re feeling crazy-inspired and productive. Or, it can be a soul-sucking black hole of hours gone and hours spent in pajamas and looking at a screen, typingtypingtyping, and wondering wtf you’re doing. Lucky me, I experience both, and it tends to veer toward the Dementor-like black hole side.

*also, on a Harry Potter note, moment of silence in memory of the Battle of Hogwarts*

I fall into writing caves A LOT. And when I do that, it will be as if I disappeared from the world. Seriously. I’ll pop my head out of the cave for food, of course. But when I’m trapped in that writing-frenzy where I just NEED to work on my story for my own sanity, you will just never hear from me again . . .

Just kidding. While I do hold my writing as my priority, it is healthy and good for the headspace to just step back and venture into the real world sometimes—which I have been doing these past weeks (*snaps for me*) in an effort to keep the writing cave from sucking my soul entirely.

I saw sun, breathed in fresh air, rediscovered civilization . . . okay, too dramatic. But I did go out a bunch of times and met up with old friends who I hadn’t seen in an obscene amount of time (three trillion guesses why), and it felt nice to leave the writer home. However, it was also nice to come back after a few hours away.

Sometimes falling into the writing cave is amazing for when you just need to pound out words and get the story-train chugging along. That’s my favorite writing cave. But sometimes there’s the risk of getting in too deep to a point where you start feeling out of the loop with the world, losing track of reading books, separation anxiety with your computer, or delay catching up on other interests for weeks on end because every free moment is devoted to your story. I’m totally guilty of that, so to be more proactive in trying to poke my head out of the writing cave every so often, here are some updates sans(-ish) writing.

Reading Things: Disclaimer: I am horrendously behind on my Goodreads challenge. What part of me thought that reading 90 books this year would be a good idea? It was super easy in the past, but now not so much. However, I refuse to admit defeat just yet! I recently read a cool graphic novel called Cairo by G. Willow Wilson, a wonderful NA titled Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover (GREAT recc, Akshaya!! We must discuss!), and I’m currently getting into a YA Fantasy Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch. Still, there are soooo many books on the TBR list, though. But to be fair, it is a mountain that cannot be conquered because it keeps growing. Hopefully I can get back into that obsessive reading frenzy as I do with writing to knock out some books on the list.

Television Things: I’ve been watching A LOT of Netflix and Dancing with the Stars, and I am totally not ashamed of it. I love dancing shows and movies, which is an obsession in itself that garners its own post. I’ll probably do another post on my television watches, just because I love lining them all up with funny little gifs. But for the sake of this post, the TV front is still pretty healthy.

Music Things: Further proof that I am obsessed with Dancing with the Stars. Here’s something that’s not on my writing playlist, but I have been listening to it on an unholy repeat because it just makes me so happy. And, of course, DWTS.

Riker and Allison are my faves, just saying. Plus they did a PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN Paso Doble, which made me love them even more. If they don’t win, my tantrum will be heard all across the universe.

Social Media/World Things: Today, William and Kate brought a baby girl into the world! This to me is just sooo crazy, only because when I was last in London I was there during the pivotal time when Prince George was born. And boy was it crazy. The pubs were all celebrating the birth, Buckingham Palace was swarming with crowds right after, and EVERYONE in general was just so excited about the baby that it was like all of London was anxiously pacing in the waiting room as one big family. It’s blows my mind that now they have a princess–I guess it’s infectious because I’m unreasonably excited for them too!

Along with having a ton of other work-related things to do this week, with these updates and all the venturing into the outside world I’ve been doing, it’s been a solid period of not letting the writing cave suck me back in too too much.

Nah man, I’m good

 

 

It Sure Is Pretty Here . . .

. . . but that’s the beauty of WordPress, isn’t it? Everything is just so neat and organized and formatted like a Christmas present. Understanding all of it, though, is where I get a little cross-eyed. After a bit of exploring and experimenting here and there, I think I’ve gotten the hang of it, but bear with me. A successful first post here can just be beginner’s luck. For all I know, my computer will crash and my blog will explode and the world will end right as I’m about to publish that second post–

No. This is a place for happy thoughts. No discussing my technological apocalypse or the real one (unless, of course, it’s actually happening).

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What I will be discussing here is writing and life and randomness. Maybe more on the randomness, but the relevant kind. Also confession: while this is my first post here, this isn’t my first blog.

say wut

Yup. This isn’t my first rodeo with blogging. Because my old, beloved one was pretty much devoted to my first book (a lot of newbie firsts in general) and filled with a fair amount of writerly angst (the stressed-out-student, college-sized kind), I thought a new look was in order for my second book baby and post-grad writing state of mind. Also for a new project, it just feels good to chat about it somewhere new and clean and fun. However, I may feature some of my old writing-related posts if they’re helpful . . . maybe make it a blog-style Throwback Thursday once I get over how cheesy that sounds when I say it out loud.

not even sure why I’m using this shot, it’s just hilarious

Anywho, now that I’ve gotten those pleasantries out of the way, here’s some stuff that I’ll probably talk about more often with each post . . . mostly to keep myself accountable (because procrastinator Janella is just waiting to be unleashed again) and keep reading since I’ve been seriously lacking in that department (and need to make a severe comeback for my Goodreads challenge this year).

just another gem that may or may not apply

 

So, onward.

Writing Things: I’m on my sixth draft now of my YA pirate fantasy. I’ve gotten through the first half of it and now have been tackling the second half. A lot of it now is throwing in some left over changes and reading over to see if the flow of it still makes sense/hoping that any of it makes sense at all. And remembering to eat/act like a normal human once in a while. Ah, sixth draft-syndrome is setting in quite nicely . . .

Reading Things: Just finished Daughter of the Blood, Book 1 of the Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop. When I first picked it up a while back, I remember having such a hard time getting into it. But this time around, I was hooked and savored the prose, characters, and darkness of the world like a fine wine. Yup, I actually just compared my reading to drinking wine, all said with a straight face. Come at me, bro.

Music Things: SUPER obsessed with this track right now from Kill Bill Vol. 2. Malagueña Salerosa by Chingon has quickly become one of my main songs for my story. I can practically hear all of the epic explosions and battles being fought behind this song. The translation is to the core a flattering love song, but just the way it’s performed here makes it so badass. Definitely reminds me of a certain pirate femme fatale I write about.

Social Media Things: The new Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer dropped today and Twitter pretty much exploded over the awesome. And it MOST DEFINITELY was. I got chills. And Han and Chewie at the end tho . . .

So these are just the little updates I may post from time to time. One of the best things about blogs is being able to look back a month or year to the date and seeing what’s changed or what happened since then. I guess that’s where the Back to the Future theme ties in which was totally not intentional? I just like Back to the Future. Huh, weird how things work out like that. Beside the point, I can’t wait to keep building up this blog (because a TON of things still need to be tweaked and fixed) and to see what other memories I can accumulate with it as I continue writing.

kablaam