Pitch Wars Mentee Bio

Hi, everyone.

For those who don’t know me, I’m Katie. I’m participating in Pitch Wars, which is a contest where mentors each pick a mentee and help them polish their manuscript, and then they submit it to agents. More information can be found here.

All the mentors had to write a bio for this, and many of the mentees have decided to do the same. Instead of just talking about myself (because I don’t like doing that), I’ve decided to let Madison, the main character of my submission – DEGENERATION – interview me. Madison, say hi to everyone.

Um, hi, everyone. *waves*

So, Madison, if you could please get this interview started.

I’m one of your least talkative main characters. Why would you pick me to do this interview?

Um, because your novel is the one I’m submitting for Pitch Wars, and I thought it would be a nice way for everyone to get to know you, as well.

Fine. *sighs* You sure you don’t want Shawna to do this? She’d love the attention.

Your sister isn’t the main character. You are. And you need to get better at dealing with attention. How are you going to be a famous photographer if you can’t stand a little attention?

Yeah, because people are constantly chasing down photographers for their autographs. But fine! Fine! I’ll do it. Um… What am I supposed to ask you?

I don’t know. Questions you think the mentors might like to know.

Okay. Why would a mentor want to work with you?

Because I’m a hard worker. I’ll consider every suggestion, even the ones that are hardest to hear. In fact, I’ve often found that the suggestions I’m most averse to in the beginning end up being the most helpful in the end. I’m not afraid to throw out the entire draft and start all over again if I have to – although I certainly hope that wouldn’t be anyone’s suggestion!

How would you describe your sense of humor?

I’m the sort of person who generally does well in Cards Against Humanity because I’m a terrible, terrible person. Humor helps me deal with things. I also like puns, even though they’re lame. I blame my boyfriend for that.

How long have you been writing?

Since second grade when my teacher gave us all these blank little books, and we got to draw a cover and write our stories in them. I mostly wrote short stories in elementary school, and in middle school I was obsessed with writing screenplays. After that, I moved on to Harry Potter fan fiction. It wasn’t until I discovered NaNoWriMo my first year of college that I started focusing on writing my own original novels.

What’s NaNoWriMo, and how has it helped you as a writer?

National Novel Writing Month is where you write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I’ve been participating since 2007. Writing fast helps me get stories finished. For the longest time I didn’t write because I was sure I would mess them up when I tried to put them down on paper. NaNo helped me realize that anything is better than nothing. Anything can be edited to become something halfway decent. Nothing is always going to be nothing.

What’s the most impressive thing you’ve ever done?

During NaNo 2013, I wrote 500,000 words – 4 novels and a bunch of short stories and “deleted scenes” from other novels.

What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done?

Tried to be a teacher. I made it through one year, and it was the worst experience of my life. I have so much respect for anyone who can do that job. I just wish I had taken everyone’s advice and not wasted all that money on a master’s degree!

I’m a great photographer – or at least I’m getting there. Other than writing, what do you do for fun?

Most of my free time is spent reading. I also listen to music and watch TV with my boyfriend and play with my new puppy, Tali. She’s a dachshund, and she’s absolutely adorable!


What sort of TV shows do you watch?

My absolutely favorites are Arrested Development and Veronica Mars – though I missed both shows while they were on-air. Same with Firefly, another great show. I also love Gilmore Girls and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, though for some reason I still haven’t seen the last season of either show, and The West Wing, though the first three seasons are the best.

Okay, I’m officially out of questions. If anyone can think of anything I should have asked, please leave a comment below and Katie will answer you as soon as she can – which should be pretty soon since she has, like, no life.

Thanks, Madison. And thank everyone for reading! If you’d like to check out some other awesome mentee bios, please check out the list here.

Falling back in love with your novel

I mentioned in my last post that I was working on yet another draft of DEGENERATION. It’s my oldest story, the one that’s closest to my heart, and the one that I was seriously starting to hate. The plot seemed non-existent. The characters were boring and whiny. It seemed like a bunch of rambling that no one – not even me – wanted to read.

Suddenly every dream I had ever had of my becoming a published author came crashing down around me. I know this story better than any of my others. I’ve been working on it on and off for over seven years. If this novel was shit, surely everything else I had ever written was bound to be shit, too, and I was doomed to spend the rest of my life staring at binders full of abandoned stories that failed to live up to their potential.

And then I realized that Pitch Wars was coming up, and a tiny bit of hope flared up inside me. I knew what was was wrong with the previous drafts. I just hadn’t changed them because it seemed like a lot of work and I was half-hoping someone would read my novel and declare it perfect as-is, and I wouldn’t have to do any more work on it.

I realize now how stupid that was. Being a writer, at least a published one, is nothing but hard work, writing and rewriting until you’re sure you’ve made it the very best it can be. I thought I had already proven that I could do that, but I hadn’t. I was taking the easy way out. I needed to start over again.

Not completely over again. I don’t want to make it sound like I’m trying to rewrite an entire book from scratch in the two weeks before this contest starts. I’m keeping all the major plot points and even most of the actual content – I’m just tightening up the writing and showing more of Madison’s personality. It’s hard to write an entertaining book when your main character is afraid of speaking to people. If I have any chance of getting other people to read this, I have to make sure that Madison’s personality shines through in her thoughts, and I have to find ways for her to grow as a person.

That’s what this draft is all about. I’ve sent the first few chapters to a couple people for feedback, and so far everyone who’s read it has agreed that this version is so much better than any version that came before. To be fair, I’ve only shared one other draft with people, but still. I’m excited about my novel again because I finally faced the tough edits I knew I had to make.

Is this draft perfect? Of course not. I know I’m going to have to change other things down the road. And that’s fine with me. I’ve thrown out practically every draft I’ve ever written, but I’ve learned something from it each time. This time, I think I’ve finally figured out a way to make my character’s voice more apparent. I know I have a long way to go still, and I look forward to making more changes on this story, but so far I’m just so excited with what I have so far. I’m just over a third of the way through this most recent edit, and I’m looking forward to finishing it.

Some people might think that two weeks isn’t enough time to do a serious edit, but I think it is, at least for this novel. Like I’ve probably mentioned before, this is my fourth draft (not including the two times I wrote it as a screenplay), and I’m keeping most of it the same. I’m just adding a few scenes, removing others, and making sure to show more of Madison’s personality when I can.

Even if I don’t get chosen for Pitch Wars, I’m super happy with the novel I have now, and I’m looking forward to taking what I’ve learned while writing this one and applying it to all my other manuscripts (though those will take a lot longer to finish).

What about you guys? Anyone else entering Pitch Wars?

Yet another “wow, I haven’t updated in forever!” post

The last time I posted on here was to say that it had been four months since I blogged anything and to explain why.

This time, I’m posting to say that it’s been four months since I blogged and to explain why.

The school year ended the second week of June, meaning I am officially free of my horrible teaching job. Saying goodbye was actually a lot harder than I expected. I got a nice set of pens as a thank you for teaching there, and I ended up hiding out in the bathroom for a bit so no one would see me crying. I didn’t expect that. I knew I would miss the people I was working with, but I didn’t think I’d cry about it. Given how much I hate goodbyes, I guess I should have known better. Now that I’m away, though, I’m really glad to be done with that job. Saying goodbye to the paycheck was really hard, but it’s worth it not to be miserable every day.

Most of the rest of June was spent packing or watching Netflix to avoid having to pack. Since I’m no longer a teacher, my boyfriend and I couldn’t afford to stay in out apartment (plus we just didn’t like it). We ended up moving about 15 minutes to the cheaper side of Charlottesville. We like our new apartment a lot better. It’s smaller but cozier, and the outside feels like you’re walking through a park. We have a little stream and a fenced in patio with several trees. It’s mostly quiet and just really nice.

Most of July was spent back in Georgia visiting our parents. We also got a puppy! Her name is Tali, and she’s 3/4 Dachshund, 1/4 chihuahua. She’s adorable, especially when she’s sleeping. We’re still working on potty training and biting, but overall she’s really sweet. She eats up a lot of our time, but we don’t mind too much because she’s really cute. She’s currently curled up in her little doggy bed near my feet.

Here are some pictures of her:

Now we’re back in our apartment, and I’m doing my best to focus on work and writing. So far I’ve been doing a pretty good job of avoiding both. Partly it’s because of Tali – I’ve been waking up super early with her, which leaves me groggy and not wanting to do anything and taking naps in the middle of the day. Plus I have to spend a lot of time trying to get her not to eat all our furniture.

My first writing project is Degeneration. I’ve shared the current draft with some people, but I wasn’t really feeling it. A big part of the novel is supposed to be when she realizes she can’t keep avoiding making decisions and sharing her opinions, but we never actually see her doing that. I’m going back and adding in some more scenes – really, I’m rewriting most of the first half of the book. The second half should only need tweaking.

I’ve been putting off writing this blog post for a while, but now that I’ve actually done it, I think I can keep this up. Part of taking writing seriously is taking this blog seriously and doing my best to connect with other writers. So if you have a blog that you think I’m not following but think I should, please leave a link below!

A bit of an update

I knew it had been a while since I updated this blog, but I hadn’t realized it had been four months. Sorry, everyone. I’ve been meaning to write for a while now, but every time I tried, something else would come up, or I’d realize I didn’t really have anything interesting to say, or I would have a great goal for the next day, so I would want to wait and write about whatever marvelous thing it was that I was sure to do.

Now I’m forcing myself to write something because four months is way too long to go without writing something.

So far, I’ve failed almost every one of my goals for the year. I haven’t been writing every day. I haven’t even thought about writing every day. I haven’t added any fruits/veggies to my meals, at least not on a regular basis. I haven’t started exercising, at least not for more than a week at a time, and that only happened one week. I’ve technically lost 2 pounds since the start of the year, so I guess that sort of counts as a step in the right direction.

Really, the only goal I’m actually making progress with is my reading goal, which is 30 books this year. So far I’ve read 11. Three have been New Adult books, which means I’m ⅗ of the way to that goal. I’m reading my first of what I hope to be five non-fiction books. I actually bought 25 books at a library book sale this past weekend (and it only cost me $11!), 5 of which are non-fiction. I’m reading the first one now, a book called “Quarterlife Crisis.” It’s not as helpful as I was hoping it would be, but it’s nice to read about other people’s problems and know I’m not alone in thinking my twenties aren’t the best time of my life.

I also got four books on depression. This isn’t the same as getting help, which was another one of my goals, but I’m hoping they will still help a little bit. One of the reasons I’m hesitant to get actual help is because I’m not going to have this job (or therefore the insurance) after, like, June (maybe September since I think I’m covered through the year), and I’m hesitant to start something I won’t be able to continue.

As you all can probably tell from that last paragraph, I haven’t been feeling much better lately. In fact, this was a hard weekend for me. I did my taxes (first time on my own! Well, with only a program and my boyfriend, but still – progress!), and I was looking through old credit card statements and found a charge for the Kroger down the street from my parents’ house. And I started to cry. And I was sad all day over that fact, and I got teary and choked up when I was trying to tell my mom about how silly I was being.

I really hate living in Virginia. I love the area, but I hate being this far away from my parents. My parents are my best friends, and I hate that I can’t see them all the time. I knew moving out would be hard, and part of why I wanted to move to Virginia in the first place was because I was afraid if I didn’ get a job far away I would just live with my parents forever, but I didn’t expect it to be this hard. I thought it would be like when I went away to college – that saying goodbye would suck but then I would be happy the rest of the time.

But it’s not. I hate my job, which is a huge part of it. I never should have gone into teaching. Everyone who knows me said this was a stupid decision. I hate kids. I mumble when I speak because I don’t have the confidence to speak slowly and clearly. I don’t have the confidence to tell kids to shut up at and listen to me, at least not in a way that would have them actually listen. And worst of all – I can’t teach. I have no idea how to teach people anything. I thought college would help with that, but it didn’t, and now I feel even worse than last semester because now I have kids who are actually trying, and they deserve so much better than what I’m able to give them.

The good news is that there are only 9.5 weeks of school left until the end of the semester. I’m just about ¾ of the way through with this nightmare. I’ll still probably be trapped in Virginia for another year, maybe more (until my boyfriend finds a Latin teaching job in Georgia), and I’m not sure how we’ll make it work without my salary. I don’t want to find another job because then I wouldn’t have the vacation time to go and visit my parents like I can now, which still isn’t enough, but I’m afraid if I don’t find a job then we won’t be able to afford living here.

Every time I try to think about the past or the future, I get sad and my head hurts, and I feel like my brain is running in circles through a dense fog. But I can’t even really think about the present, either, because that is so upsetting, as well. My hope is that Camp NaNo, which starts in about five hours, will help me focus my mind on something else. So far I haven’t had the greatest success planning for this, but maybe something will come of it.

How have the rest of you been? Anyone doing Camp NaNo?

2015 Goals

Okay, so this post is slightly later than I intended, but at least it’s not too late to be relevant.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do differently this year and what I wish I had done differently in the past. It’s been almost five years since I graduated college, which means it’s been almost five years since I felt I really knew what I was doing with my life. Even back in college, though, I didn’t really have a set plan, or at least not one that I worked hard to make sure happened. My whole life, I’ve done the least amount of work possible, looking for the safest, easiest options. I thought that would lead to a decent life.

Turns out I was wrong. I tried to take the easy way out and ended up more miserable than I’ve ever been before. This is the year that I fix that, or at least start fixing that. That’s why I’m not going to have quite as many goals as previous years. I’m also splitting those goals into three main categories.

Reading Goals

• Read 30 Books
○ Read 5 non-fiction books
○ Read 5 New Adult books

I don’t expect to read as much this year as I have in past years, mostly because I can’t read as much when I’m teaching.

• Spend at least 10 minutes each day reading the news.

Writing Goals

• Write 500 words every day.

This should take me 5-10 minutes a day, so it shouldn’t be that difficult. These words can either be a random prompt or part of a longer work that I’m working on. I just want to get in the habit of writing something every single day.

• Write at least 100k for NaNo this year.

• Get one of my books ready for publication.

I have some manuscripts that I feel would be best for traditional publishing and some that I feel would be best self-published. I’m fairly positive I want to focus on traditional publishing first, but I’m leaving it open for now. By the end of the year, I either want to have one novel self-published, or I want to be submitting one of my novels for publication. This means I will need to find CPs, so if you write mostly contemporary novels and will be looking for a CP in a few months, keep me in mind!

Personal Goals

• Get healthy.
○ Lose 50 pounds.
○ Exercise 1x per week to start.
○ Eat 3 fruits/veggies a day to start.

This is a general goal, but there are a smaller subset of goals within this one. I need to eat more fruits and vegetables. I need to exercise. I need to stop eating so much processed junk. The old me would have tried to cut everything out at once, but I’ve learned that doesn’t work for me, especially now that I’m so out of it most of the time (more on that in a minute). That’s why I’m starting with small goals at first. I want to lose 15 pounds by my sister’s wedding in March and another 35 pounds over the course of the year. I wasn’t successful with this in the past, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to do that if I slowly focus on adding more healthy foods and more exercise.

• Get therapy.

This one’s a lot harder for me to admit that I need, and it’s going to be one of the hardest for me to accomplish because it will involve reaching out and asking someone else for help. I really do think it’s necessary, though. I cry constantly. I can’t understand why anyone would ever look around and think this is a great world. I have no self-esteem. I do everything possible to avoid confrontation and having to make decisions. I have so many problems, and I’ve been trying to deal with them myself, but I don’t think I can anymore.

• Figure out what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.

I was reading Miriam Joy’s blog post earlier, and she will be asking herself the following questions: “Am I who, what and where I want to be? If not, why? How can I change things so that I am?” I’ve decided to steal those questions and ask them of myself. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to be who I think other people want me to be, and the problem is that I no longer really know who I want myself to be. I’d hoped I would have figured this out before I was 25-almost-26, but it would be better to do that now than later. I know I want to write, but I’m not sure what I want to do to make money. I thought it was teaching but now I think that’s not the greatest idea. I’ll be figuring out what that idea is at some point this year.

So those are my goals for this year. What are your goals?

NaNo 2014 – Complete

I’ve been horrible about updating this blog. I’m going to try to do better in the new year, but in order for that to happen, I actually have to have something interesting to write about. (Hopefully my life will be more interesting in January.)

The interesting news I have now is that I have won my first NaNo with a full-time job. And I didn’t only win – I also wrote 150,000 words! I hit 150k yesterday, and my total so far is 151, 713. My plan is finish this novel and then probably stop, as I’m really close to being done, but we’ll see how much time I have over the next few days.

I wrote more words last year (500k), but I think this year was the hardest mentally. There was a good while there when I didn’t think I’d be able to hit 50k at all, and then a longer time when I thought I would never get close to even 100k, let alone 150k. I hated the novel I had planned on writing because I didn’t plan it well enough. The first 50k I wrote was mostly random short stories and two sad, pathetic attempts at other novels. It took me over a week before I finally came up with a new idea. This one I didn’t plan at all, so this is my first attempt at completely pantsing a novel. It has actually been a lot of fun, and the words flowed a lot more easily with this one than they ever have before.

I also hit a new milestone – 3k in 30 minutes! I actually ended up doing 4131 words in 42 minutes. If I hadn’t been hanging out with friends who really wanted food, I would have kept going, and I probably would have gotten my first 6k hour. My hands weren’t even hurting! The good news is that even though I didn’t hit it this time, I now know that a 6k hour is possible for me, so I have my next goal in mind!

Dreams, backup plans, and a confession

It’s been two months since my last update. Sorry about that. Between finding an apartment, moving ten hours from home, and starting school, it’s been a very hectic two months. I can’t even believe it’s only been two months. I feel like I’ve been doing this forever. At the same time, I feel like I’ve just started.

But I’m babbling. I should start at the beginning.

Our apartment is nice. We’re paying way too much for it when I think about what we could have gotten in Georgia for this money, but it’s not horrible, especially since my boyfriend and I are both working full time. We haven’t seen our first paycheck yet, so we’ve been living off brand new credit cards with zero interest until November of next year. Yay credit cards.

The teachers I work with are also nice. Exceptionally nice, actually. My mentor is super helpful, and she always listens when I complain about things and offers advice. She shows me how to do everything I need to do, which is awesome because most of the time I feel silly asking for help. And then there’s the teacher whose room I’m in fourth block. See, I don’t have my own classroom, so I float between three classes. Since I end in this one teacher’s room, I generally stay there while I prepare for the next day. She listens to me and the other new teachers rant about our day, and she offers advice and words of comfort. I don’t know what I’d do without her.

So I like my apartment and my colleagues. I just hate my job. I spend way too many hours thinking of ways I can get myself fired, since I can’t quit because I’m signed with them for a year. I would never actually do something to get fired, but it’s still nice to think about. I’m just not cut out for this. I thought I was, but I’m not. The kids are out of control, and I don’t know how to fix it. It’s not fair to the few kids who are actually trying to learn, and I know that. They deserve better. I’m just not sure I’m capable of being better. I’m going to try to write more people up this week, but if that doesn’t work then I don’t know what I’ll do.

I think my biggest problem is that I don’t really want to be a teacher. I never did. Whenever someone asked what I planned on doing with an English degree and suggested teaching, I would laugh at them and say no. Hell no. Because I have no patience. I can’t explain anything to anyone. I hate people, especially children. Especially stupid children. So why did I end up as a teacher, you ask? Funny story.

It started in 2010. I graduated a year early from college and returned home, to my parents’ house. I had no job, but I wasn’t concerned yet. I thought I had time. And then I couldn’t find an editing job, mostly because I didn’t know where to look for them. I also couldn’t find a job doing anything else. I applied to gas stations, coffee shops, restaurants, and smoothie shops. I couldn’t find a job. I eventually ended up working for my mother as a school photographer. I made $9 an hour, which works out to about $10,000 a year since it was seasonal work. Not enough to move out on, especially since my boyfriend was in college still and didn’t have a job either. So I stayed with my parents, hating my job and my life because I felt like a failure.

There are several reasons why I started thinking about teaching then. Part of it was because my boyfriend was going to school to be a teacher, and I liked the sound of the classes he was taking. Part of it, a bigger part, was because I was already in schools every day. I figured if I was going to be around kids all the time anyway, I might as well be a teacher, where I’d make more money, have a respectable sounding job, and still have summers and weekends off. Plus I could get my Master’s and still use my English degree. I liked that my first degree wouldn’t be useless, that I could pretend it was just a stepping stone to my new goal. I still didn’t know anything about teaching, but I figured that was what grad school was for.

Except it turns out I was wrong. Very wrong. You don’t go to grad school to learn how to be a teacher. You go to grad school to talk about teaching-related issues like standardized testing and the Common Core standards. I learned how to write lesson plans but not how to help children learn when they don’t already know the material and can’t learn by simply taking down notes. I didn’t learn how to manage a classroom. I didn’t learn what to do when I have 15-year-old students who think “sleepy” is a verb and don’t know how to count five or seven syllables in a haiku.

I don’t know how to be a teacher, and my kids are out of control, and I’m losing my mind trying to fix it. I want to be better, but I also just want to curl up in a ball and cry and never go to school again. This wasn’t my dream. My dream was to be a writer. Ever since I was six, I wanted to write for a living, but I knew a I needed a practical goal. So I tried editing. Not novel editing. Just copy editing. I wanted to edit grammar. But I couldn’t do that. And I couldn’t find a job at a coffee shop or anything. So I turned to teaching.

Let me tell you something – teaching should never be a backup plan. This isn’t a job you can do when your heart’s not really in it. Well, I guess for some people it is, but not for me. I started realizing this was the wrong choice last semester. My boyfriend would get all excited when Latin teachers followed him on Twitter. Most of his Twitter feed comes from fellow Latin teachers, actually. Mine isn’t filled with teachers. It’s filled with writers. That’s what I want to do. I thought I could teach to make an income and then write in my spare time, but it turns out I don’t really have that much free time, and what time I do have is spent freaking out and trying to postpone what feels like an inevitable heart attack, stroke, or nervous breakdown.

My chest hurts all the time, like someone of my height/weight (which, trust me, is quite large) is standing on it. Or like there’s a rubber band around it at all times, stopping my lungs and heart from moving properly. My head generally feels like someone’s squeezing it. I’m worried all the time. I haven’t had any fingernails since the move, another sign I’m freaking out. I’ve been eating like crap, worse than usual. I’ve done like 15 minutes of exercise since school started 3 weeks ago. Every single night I have at least one dream that involves school in some way. I wake up at least once a night, sometimes more. I’m tired all the time. I can’t remember the last time I was excited about something. Even this apartment and the cold weather and the Starbucks salted caramel mocha frappuccinos aren’t doing it for me. They make me smile a little, but that’s about it.

Hell, even the thought of NaNo isn’t making me happy. I’m just worried I won’t have time to do it, and I can’t work up any enthusiasm for any of my novel ideas, not even the new one that sounded like so much fun back in early July. It’s like this move and this job has sucked all the joy from my life, and there wasn’t even that much of it to begin with.

So, yeah, that’s been my life for the past two months. I’ve started seriously wondering if I have depression, and at least six Internet tests say that I do, in fact, suffer from severe depression. When my health insurance starts in October, I think I’m going to try talking to someone. I’ve felt like a failure since I graduated college, but it’s just gotten so much worse in the past couple months.

Sorry for the long, depressing blog post. How has everyone else been?

So I have 27 days to move to another state…

This has been the most stressful week of my life so far, and it’s about to get much worse. Better, sure. But worse first.

I guess I should start with some background information. My boyfriend and I are both teachers, or at least have certifications. He finished up his first year in May, and I just graduated with my Masters in Teaching in May. We were both looking for jobs and having trouble finding them. His problem stems from the fact that he’s a Latin teacher, and Georgia doesn’t really need a lot of those. My problems stem from the fact that I have no experience and am horrible at interviews. School starts August 4-11 in Georgia (depending on the county), and teachers start going back around July 28. Clearly, we were running out of time.

And then everything changed.

My boyfriend suddenly got three job interviews, one in Georgia and two in Virginia. He ended up being offered the one in Georgia and one of the ones in Virginia. As if two job offers in the span of 36 hours wasn’t odd enough, he also started talking to the VA principal about how I also needed a teaching job, and the principal informed him that an English job had just opened up, and he asked if I wanted to come in an interview. Obviously, I did, and as you can probably tell by the blog post title (or Twitter, if you follow me there), I got the job. So now my boyfriend and I will both be teaching at the same school.

Oh, and the principal and one of the assistant principals have both attempted NaNoWriMo and think it’s cool that I’ve done it for so many years. I mean, how awesome is that?

We’re both really excited to get these jobs. Virginia has a nicer climate than Georgia (or at least we’re hoping it does), and we love the area. The only thing we don’t love is that we now have 27 days to find an apartment 9 hours away from where we currently live, apply, get approved, find furniture, pack, move, and deal with all the normal first days of school drama. It’s exciting, but it’s already super stressful. Plus I feel horrible because my little sister is getting married and is in the process of buying a house, so my parents already feel abandoned by her, and now I’m moving out of state. Leaving them is going to be really hard. It’ll also be really hard to leave behind our friends here. We’ll obviously stay friends since most of our interaction takes place online anyway, but it still sucks. Of course, my boyfriend has already started researching ways that we can have our biweekly D&D nights online, so it might not be that bad.

But yeah, that’s what I’m dealing with now. I probably won’t be blogging that much in the next month, though I’ll try.

Anyone have any advice for someone leaving home for the first time? Or for someone moving far away for the first time?

Favorite Books of the Summer

So you remember two months ago when I did a post about all the books I had read but hadn’t yet reviewed and promised I would never let myself get that far behind again?

Yeah, well, that was a lie. So sorry. I really meant to be better at this! I’ve read 12 books since then, and I’ve reviewed half of them on Goodreads. I’m still (mostly) planning to review the other half, but for now I’m going to focus on sharing the ones I’ve already done. Below are my three favorite novels that I’ve read so far this summer. For a longer review of each, click on the picture, and it will take you to my Goodreads review.

I’ve also included links below to the reviews of books I didn’t enjoy that much.


  I’ve always known that you shouldn’t throw around words like OCD if you don’t actually have OCD, but I didn’t really get why it was such a big deal until I read this book. It’s a hard story to read at times, as Bea does so many things that don’t make sense to me, but that’s the point. The characters in here were so realistically flawed that I had to keep reading, even when it was hard. If you’re looking for a light, quirky romance, this isn’t for you.


I don’t generally like football or stories that involve football players, but Cora Carmack changes that here. For those who still don’t know if New Adult is for them, I recommend this book. There’s romance without it being overpowering, and the characters are great.

This is a great fast-paced read with adorable yet flawed characters. I only meant to read the first page, but it was so hard to put down. The ending was a bit silly, but everything else was so entertaining that I didn’t really care. Great cast of characters!


Other Books I’ve Read and Reviewed:

Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn – 2/5

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira – 3/5

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott – 4/5

Camp NaNo Update: Novel Complete!

My main goal for Camp NaNo was to write the third draft of my YA novel DEGENERATION by July 15. As anyone who was on Twitter around 3 am EST may have noticed, I accomplished my goal.

DEGENERATION is complete at 62,752 words. It’s not the 70k-75k I originally thought it would be, but it’s over 50k, and that’s really all I care about. Besides, 63k is a good length for a young adult novel.

I can now say that my phase outline experiment was a success. I loved having everything already planned out when I went to write. I still ended up making changes – adding conversations I hadn’t thought of originally or skipping parts that no longer seemed like a good idea – but for the most part I stuck with my outline. I’m not sure if this would be my best option for a brand new novel, but it’s definitely how I’m going to do my rewrites from now on.

In case anyone’s curious, I made a chart so I could see just how many actual words each outline word gave me. The short answer is that I got 5 words per 1 word of my outline, which isn’t bad. I was hoping for more like 7, but like I said, I’m happy with the overall length of my novel, so it doesn’t really matter. Here’s the chart, if anyone wants to see it:


Outline Words

Novel Words

Novel Words: Outline Words





















































































So now what am I going to do with the rest of the month, you ask? (Oh, you didn’t ask? That’s okay. I’ll just pretend.) I haven’t quite decided yet. I originally thought I might continue the editing I was doing before on TILT YOUR HEAD AND SMILE. I’m halfway through the most recent draft, and I’m starting to think I might need to redo the entire novel. I’m not sure yet. I have an idea for how to make the novel more interesting, but I’m not sure if that idea is really a good fix for this one or if I should just write it as a separate novel.

My other idea is a new adult romance – but without all the gratuitous sex scenes. I can picture three of the main characters, but there are two more (two different love interests) that I still need to work on. I’ve been saying I’m going to plot this one for the last two weeks, but that never really happens. I have a few scenes in mind, but I still need to understand the characters before I can even attempt to pants a novel. Although I did write a thousand words in this story already. It was just the opening scene, but I actually kind of like it so far.

I’m probably going to spend the rest of the day trying to get to know the characters for that novel better. I haven’t had a 0 words day yet this month, and I’d like to keep it that way.


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