Posted in For Fellow Writers, Uncategorized

NaNoWriMo Day 17: Halfway Point

For those of you participating in NaNoWriMo this year–we’ve made it to the halfway point! There are now only thirteen days left to write the few thousand words you have remaining. For all the words you’ve written this month (whether it be a few thousand or even just a few hundred), good job! Every word counts and gets you closer to finishing that story that’s been sitting in your head for months or even years.

I’m currently sitting at 25,676 words. Only 25,000 more until I reach the goal.

November has been going by quickly, but it’s been an encouraging month so far. Having so many writing friends has really helped make this year’s NaNo so much fun. I’ve written with friends twice already and I’m headed to join my cousin Erin again this afternoon. My family has also been really supportive and asking me almost daily, “Have you written yet today?” I have found a lot more time to write this year than last year, even between life’s usual busy activities like work, babysitting and Sociology. I look forward to getting past that 40,000 I got stumped on last year and hitting that 50,000 again!

In our writing group on Facebook, a lot of inspirational images have been shared that I really wanted to pass along.

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I have been trying to take Endeavoring a little slowly simply because there are a few kinks I didn’t get around to hammering out last month. So far I’ve found a good balance between writing, allowing myself to explor my characters and find out who they are and how they react to certain situations, as well as stopping to ponder how something works or what this character’s motivation is.

It’s funny to think that I’m halfway to 50,000 words, yet I’m still finishing Part One of Endeavoring, which is essentially setting up the stage for the rest of the novel. I guess introducing all these characters and their backstories is going to be a little more complicated than I thought. 😉 That said, I can’t wait to reach Part Two and start Crystal and Zechariah’s relationship. They have yet to meet and I am still a little apprehensive as to how they will interact with one another. Only time will tell!

I’d like to end this blog post with a quote from my writing this week and some more inspirational quotes that will hopefully give you that extra boost you need to write those last few thousand words! 🙂

To Crystal, falling in love with a human was unthinkable. Yes, once upon a time, humans and fairies had been friends. But never had they intermarried. Never! It was unheard of—and for good reason. Humans and fairies shared little in common to begin with. To get married was like asking for the world as they knew it to end. Completely.

~Endeavoring

I’ll try to post my progress in NaNo again next week before the 30th!

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Posted in NaNoWriMo, The Ponderings of Life

Bridget Returns~Seventh Novel

On Saturday, October 1st, I finally finished writing the recently titled Bridget Returns.

With 137,000 words, I finally completed my NaNoWriMo 2015 novel. The feeling of finishing a book really never gets old. A feeling of exhilaration starts tingling down from my heart to my fingertips as I type every author’s two favorite words: The End.

Now, while there is still much work to be done before I am ready to present Bridget’s sequel to you, I’m just so happy to have finished it. This is the seventh book I’ve finished writing and hopefully will be the fourth to self-publish. What a journey it was from November of last year to today. This book has hands down given me the hardest time in more ways than one. I don’t think I truly knew what writers block was until Bridget Returns. 😉 Even though this book was probably the most plotted out before I began writing, for some reason, I just had a hard time delving into the story. It took me about halfway to get really passionate about the plot and characters. After November ended and NaNo’s motivation sizzled out, I dragged on in the spring of 2016, writing a scene here and there when I had time. By the time the summer started, though, I was burnt out and didn’t care anymore.

It’s strange, now that I’m on the other side, to remember asking my sisters (in July, I think) whether I should quit on Bridget Returns and move on to other stories. Man, am I ever glad they said, “No!” and reminded me that I always finish what I start. So, I took their advice and plowed through. In August, I decided to go back and re-read what I’d written already, to remember what the goal of the book was and find where it went wrong. Once I figured that out, I started writing again. It wasn’t easy, but it did get easier. And then, I finished it, writing almost half of it in September.

So, was it worth it to bite the bullet and just finish it? Absolutely! Even with my major outlining, Bridget Returns really changed a lot from what it was in the beginning to what it ended up being. It also turned out twice as long as I planned, but at the same time, the story became a lot more important to me as I continued writing. It was no longer just a sequel to a book I’d written in middle school. I guess just as I grew up, so did Bridget. Bridget’s Journey, don’t get me wrong, is a sweet book, but Bridget Returns brings in a lot of elements that the first doesn’t have. There’s more at stake, decisions hold more weight and relationships are both more delicate and stronger. The character developments were bigger and better than I’d hoped. And who would have thought it possible–but the characters themselves ended up teaching me some valuable lessons.

I hope whenever this one is published, my readers will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it (mostly 😉 )!

P.S. Now that I’m done writing Bridget Returns, I have been going back and forth between reading through it for the first time and plotting my NaNo 2016 novel. More details on that to come soon…

 

Posted in For Fellow Writers, Uncategorized

Writer High

I don’t normally write random posts like this. Most of the time, my blog posts have some sort of announcement, update, story, etc. But this time, I just wanted to write about a moment I had a few days ago. An ordinary, every day moment for anyone else, but a big moment for me, a writer.

Who knows, there might already be a word for this or a better phrase than the one I’m using, but the phrase that came to mind once I experienced this feeling was: writer high. Maybe joy, success, inspiration, hype or a number of other words fit better, but…nah. For those of you who go to church, you’ve probably heard of the term “spiritual high”. Often times, we’ll hear people talk of having them during a church camp, retreat or mission trip. It’s sort of this feeling of being on “fire for God”, you could say. All of a sudden, all you want to do is live for God’s glory. That’s the sort of feeling I got on Saturday, but for  writers.

While waiting for my editor to look over The Whistler Daughters, I’m busying myself with finishing my NaNo 2015 novel, Bridget’s Journey the Sequel–which yes, has yet to be properly titled. Over the past week and a half I’ve been reading over what I’ve already written and making notes of how to fill certain plot holes that will come up later in the novel. Besides the obvious remembering what conversations and milestones have already been reached, I was mainly reading what I’d written to get that inspiration back. Because I’d lost it. Spring of this year I had a lot of schoolwork, spent time with friends, had a lot of visitors and prepared for my high school graduation. Therefore, I wrote little. By the time summer started, I began my long list of vacations: graduation present trip to Texas, mission trip to Kenya, trip to see family in New York and Canada and lastly, our family vacation to Williamsburg, Virginia. In between all these vacations, whenever I sat down to write, I just couldn’t. In fact, by the time I got home from Kenya, I’d decided to move on from BJ2 and just work on starting the editing process for The Whistler Daughters. Once I’d finished that, though, I knew I had to go back to BJ2, and I wanted to. I want to finish it before NaNoWriMo, so I can start a new story.

The truth is, I hadn’t written a scene in BJ2 since late May or early June by the time I finally picked it back up last week. I think I was getting too close, maybe, and needed some time to take a step back and reassess the novel. While I liked the last two scenes I’d written for the break, something about it didn’t feel right anymore. I felt like I was getting off track and losing the point, where I was trying to go with Bridget and Cynthia and their plotlines. I just didn’t have any inspiration left. It wasn’t a writer’s block, really, since I had the next several scenes mapped out. It just wasn’t flowing the way it had in the beginning when I was writing during NaNoWriMo.

So, when I began reading it over last week, most of which I hadn’t looked at since November or December, I started to rebuild up all that inspiration I’d lost over the spring and summer. I remembered what my end goal was and re-fell in love with my characters. By the time I’d read everything I’d written, I was ready, so ready, to start writing again.

Then on Saturday I read a scene that I hadn’t liked from the moment I wrote it. I knew it was dumb and unlikely, but I told myself I just had to keep going, had to keep writing. But I couldn’t move on until I’d fixed it, no matter how insignificant it may have seemed in the long run. So I scrapped it and completely re-wrote it. I’ll admit, it’s only a three page scene and it doesn’t have anything directly to do with Bridget. But when I fixed it and made it not just better, but the best, I was just filled with, yes, a writer high.

I’d done it. I made a so-so scene into a great scene. It made more sense, it flowed better and the reaction from the character was more in tune with who that character really is. Definitely one of my writing pet peeves is when I write a scene where my character does or says something out of character. It’s no one’s fault but my own. Sometimes when you’re in the midst of writing, you just have to start over. So after re-writing this scene, I ran and jumped around the house, feeling all giddy and excited inside.

I’d done it. I’d gotten that inspiration back.

To me, the writing life is always about these moments, these little victories. These moments are what keep me going and push me through the future lows of writing, the doubts and the writer’s blocks. In these moments, you remember why you’re writing this story and why it’s so important to finish it.

So now it’s time for me to finish it.

Posted in Book Reviews, For Fellow Writers

Fourth Five Books of 2015

I apologize for not posting in a while. To make up for it, I wrote a really long post! 🙂

Here are books 16-20 that I read in June of 2015. If you missed out on one of or all my first three posts, you can check out books 1-5 here, books 6-10 here and books 11-15 here.

Before I list these next five books, I’ll give you an update on my reading for 2016. So far I have read five books (two were on audio). By the end of this month I need to have read four to make up for only reading two last month. Luckily, I just finished two and am close to finishing one more already. I’m sure I will be caught up by March 1st!

Now, on with the books:

16. Cannons at Dawn by Kristiana Gregory – This book is part of the Dear America series. It centers around the lives of families following their husbands to the battle lines during the Revolutionary War. It is actually a sequel to the Dear America, The Winter of Red Snow. This book was really interesting because it showed me a different side to the Revolutionary War. For one, we don’t normally hear much after the Declaration of Independence (at least, I rarely did) and this one showed the end of the war (or the beginning of the end), which didn’t happen until the early 1780s. After they lost everything, the family decided to follow their father as he went off to become a soldier (normally a few days behind him in case a battle ensued) instead of waiting behind at home. Overall, an enjoyable read.

* 17. Willow Run by Patricia Reilly Giff – This book. Oh my goodness. One of my favorites I read last year. It is a companion to Lily’s Crossing which I mentioned reading in one of my earlier posts. Honestly, I don’t even remember when or where it happened, but all of a sudden, in the middle of reading it, something had changed. It went from being just a book I was reading, to a story that meant everything to me. After crossing that point, I couldn’t put it down! I liked this one even more than Lily’s Crossing, which doesn’t often happen! It did not have very many reviews on Amazon, so I gave it one shortly after finishing the book. I’ll share it here:

Beautiful Story of a Period in History We Won’t Soon Forget

This book is recommended for ages 8-12, and though I understand why, I myself am a teenager and I still thoroughly enjoyed it!
World War II is one of my favorite time periods, it is true, and this piece dedicated to that era gives a wonderful peek into what it was like to live during that time. The writing, as always, was very relate-able and the characters were endearing. I fell in love with Meggie and her family and greatly enjoyed her character development. Though this book is a companion, it works perfectly as a stand-alone as well.
*SPOILER* Although I was severely disappointed that it ended before we could find out what happened to Meggie’s brother Eddie, it just goes to show how much it meant to me to find out! I even went back to Lily’s Crossing to see if his fate had been mentioned there and I had just missed it!
I would recommend this book to anyone of any age. I commend the author, Patricia Reilly Giff, for writing a story that moved me so much. It doesn’t often happen. Thank you, Mrs. Giff, for this book.

18. Kit Saves the Day by Valerie Tripp – This is a continuation of listening to the Kit books in the car. One of my favorite children’s stories growing up! (I talked more about Kit’s books in earlier posts–links are above ^)

* 19. The Keeper by Erin Phillips – I have been looking forward to sharing my thoughts on this one! Erin Phillips is my cousin and fellow writing buddy here in North Carolina. She self-published her first novel, The Keeper, in 2015 and it is available for purchase as paperback or Kindle on CreateSpace and Amazon–check it out! For updates on special promotions for The Keeper and updates on her upcoming sequel, The Varken, check out her blog, One Word More, here.

Here is the review I put up on Amazon for her book:

“The Keeper” takes place in the fantastical world of Eviryia from the perspective of Kayleigh, the Keeper of Ailenor. After decades of trying to find the True King, distraught, Kayleigh locks herself up in Ailenor, giving up on attempting to bring a king back on the throne, thus bringing peace to the kingdom. And so begins Kayleigh’s journey as she renews her determination to save the kingdom and discovers the true meaning of her duty as Keeper of Eviryia.
This book had beautiful descriptions of the places Kayleigh visited outside of Ailenor and the character development was evident. I could hardly put it down, reading chapter after chapter, wanting to know what happens next. The ending was just right, like any good story, while still having a few twists! The endearing characters were relatable and believable, becoming your friends by the time you reached the last page, making you wish it kept going!
I hope Erin Phillips publishes a sequel! However, “The Keeper” is perfect as a stand alone. I am looking forward to reading more of her work!

20. Bridget’s Journey by Valerie Cotnoir – Heehee, yes, I read my own book. It took me a while, but after downloading Bridget’s Journey on Kindle, and after taking a break from looking at this story since I had already read it over and over a million times, I read it again and marked a few things here and there to change for future reference.

As a matter of fact, I updated these changes and published my second edition of Bridget’s Journey very recently! If you’re interested, I have two copies I’m selling for $7.00 each for those living in the Raleigh area. Otherwise, you can buy your paperback or Kindle copy on Amazon or CreateSpace! Or download it for free if you have Kindle Unlimited. Don’t forget to leave a review after you have finished reading!

To finish off, here are some reviews that other people have left for this book on Amazon:

This is a sweet story of a young girl whose world is turned upside down. After Bridget’s father dies, she goes to live in Prince Edward Island with her grandparents whom she has never met.
As Bridget struggles through a major move, and dealing with the pain of being an orphan, she slowly learns to depend on God to help get through life’s trials.
The scene where Bridget meets her grandmother for the first time brought me to tears.
I really enjoyed this book and plan to read it again.

Wonderful story to read with my two daughters. Heart-warming and well written for a first-time author. I hope she writes more soon.
Bridget’s Journey was a beautiful story about dealing with grief and friendship troubles. It captures the charm and beauty of Prince Edward Island, the main setting of the story, and the main characters were felt very real and lovable. Great story to read with kids but is very enjoyable for all ages! If you loved any of the Anne of Green Gables books, you will love this book too! I look forward to seeing what other books the author will come up with!

Only two more posts and I will be finished reviewing the books I read in 2015!

* Books that I highly recommend have a * next to them

Posted in For Fellow Writers, Words Upon Words

Leave a Review

After you are done reading Bridget’s Journey or Everlasting, I hope you will consider leaving a review for me on Amazon and/or Goodreads. I love getting feedback from my readers and your reviews can help others who don’t know me personally be persuaded to get their own copy of Bridget’s or Azalea’s story.

Click here to leave a review on Amazon.

Click here to leave a review on Goodreads.

Thank you so much!