Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Years': All Good Things...

All good things must come to an end, and 2013 is no exception. Despite the fact that it's unlucky number thirteen, it's been a great year for me. Let's look back at all the positive thing that have happened to me this awesome "unlucky" year, the year my writing came back from the dead.

I finished my first novel through NaNoWriMo. This was probably the biggest milestone I've passed in my writing career this year. NaNo really helped me stop procrastinating and start writing. And I have a novel to show for it!
I finally got an email address. As much as I love letters, there's so much you can do with a gmail account....
I started a blog. My first attempt at blogging was this June, when my friend Seriah got this awesome idea to mail Tsarmina back and forth and blog about it. I experimented with my posts and format over there, (Tsarmina's Travels ) and eventually got up the courage to start one all on my own. I think this one's turned out alright-- what do you think?
I (in some miraculous way) made the public school's Junior Varsity basketball team. I'm not sure how this happened-- some work of divine providence, to be sure-- but I'm on the team! Now if I could just make a foul shot to save my life....
I discovered many awesome writing blogs that have helped encourage and improve me at the trade. Here are just a few:
The Write Practice
The Magic Violinist
Rainbow of Words
Positive Writer
NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program

2013 in one word:

If I believed in luck, I'd say "lucky." But since I don't, I'll say "blessed."

Most played songs:

Teenager Posts
Love this. Got it from Pinterest.

I'd Lie (Taylor Swift)
Nevermind (Taylor Swift)
There's Your Trouble (Dixie Chicks)
American Honey (Lady Antebellum)
Ain't Easy (Rachel Farley)
Sparks Fly (Taylor Swift)
Permanent Marker (Taylor Swift)
Long Live (Taylor Swift)
Country Girl Shake It For Me (Luke Bryan)
Creepin' (Eric Church)
Little White Church (Little Big Town)
Boondocks (Little Big Town)
Mean (Taylor Swift)
Good Girl (Carrie Underwood)
Mama's Broken Heart (Miranda Lambert)
Honey Bee (Blake Shelton)
Better Than Revenge (Taylor Swift)
Gunpowder and Lead (Miranda Lambert)
Cruise (Florida Georgia Line)
Round Here (Florida Georgia Line)
That's My Kind of Night (Luke Bryan)
International Harvester (Craig Morgan)
Tim McGraw (Taylor Swift)
Enchanted (Taylor Swift)

As you can see, my music taste doesn't vary much. :)

Awesome books read:
Emily of New Moon (L. M. Montgomery)
Emily Climbs (L. M. Montgomery)
Emily's Quest (L. M. Montgomery)
Kilmeny of the Orchard (L. M. Montgomery)
The Blue Castle (L. M. Montgomery)
The Story Girl (L. M. Montgomery)
Rilla of Ingleside (L. M. Montgomery)
The Golden Road (L. M. Montgomery)
Jane of Lantern Hill (L. M. Montgomery)

Okay, so I really like L. M. Montgomery. So what?

Goals for 2014:
Get published.
Work on my blogging skills.
Connect with other writers. I can't do it alone.
Stop using the words "like" "awesome" and"really" so much in my writing. Seriously, it's like really getting on my nerves that I can't stop-- AAARGH I did it again!
Finish edits on As Strange as Snow in September (and work on the title).
Win NaNoWriMo again. This time I'm going to shoot for 60,000 words.
Write. While I'm waiting on getting published and maybe finding an agent, I'll keep improving my writing until it's ready to go out into the world. After all, without the "write" I'd just be an "er."

Have an amazing 2014, everyone!

Monday, December 30, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge-- Day 11

Day Eleven: A Picture You Took Recently

This is why you should never break into a house
belonging to one of my family members. They are now
all heavily guarded.
 Um, yeah... my cousins all got weapons for Christmas.

What can I say besides "beware"?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge-- Day 9

Hey, remember the 30 Day Blogging Challenge? Of course you don't, it's been a month since I last posted on that! Sorry.
Now that the chaotic rush of the holidays is over, I'm going to pick it back up again. So here's how it's going to go, if you've forgotten:
Day 1: a favorite song
Day 2: a favorite movie
Day 3: a favorite book
Day 4: a favorite television program
Day 5: a favorite quote
Day 6: a moment you wish you could relive
Day 7: five things you couldn't possibly live without
Day 8: a thank-you letter to someone who has changed your life
Day 9: a photo you took
Day 10: a photo of you taken over ten years ago
Day 11: a photo you've taken recently
Day 12: a song that you want played at your wedding (or was played)
Day 13: a guilty pleasure
Day 14: a vacation you would like to take
Day 15: a person that you admire
Day 16: a song that makes  you cry
Day 17: an art piece
Day 18: a time when you felt passionate and alive
Day 19: a talent of yours
Day 20: a hobby of yours
Day 21: something that you know you do differently than other people
Day 22: a website
Day 23: a way in which you want to be remembered
Day 24: a movie no one would never expect you to love
Day 25: a recipe
Day 26: a childhood memory
Day 27: a physical feature that you love
Day 28: a scar you have and its story
Day 29: hopes, dreams, and plans that you have for the next 365 days
Day 30: a motto or philosophy
Well, I'm going to do this Rebecca-style and skip number eight. I'm contrary like that.
Day Nine: A Picture You Took
Snow in October.
Interesting, isn't it? Reminds me of Narnia.
I love this picture-- it looks like two seasons merged into one. I took it in October, right after getting home from taking a test with the public-school-ers. It had started snowing during the test, and when we came out of that room, the entrance to the school with the huge glass windows looked like something from a fairytale. The snow just clung to the leaf-covered branches, and everything looked like it had been sculpted out of sparkling white clay, with birds hopping around and passing berries from beak to beak.
Day Ten: A Photo of You Taken Over Ten Years Ago
Me and my sister Hannah
(I'm the one with hair)
Aren't I adorable? :^)
Actually, I think that picture above was from late 2004 (and therefore a year too young to meet the requirements for this blogging challenge), so I posted this one, too:

Me, at the house in Huntington, in the spring of 2003.
Still adorable. :P

A Visit From Christmas Past

"The ghost of things that never happened are far worse than the ghosts of those that did,"

-- L. M. Montgomery, Emily's Quest

Today I had a visit from Christmas Past.

Okay, so I was going through this box of things that has been sitting in the corner of my bedroom for years. I was cleaning up my room to make space for the things I got for Christmas (out with the old, in with the new, as they say). And I found some really interesting items. For example: a happy meal toy Bratz doll with no shirt, my long-lost MP3 player, the USB cable to my camera, a cluster of key chains that hung from my backpack my whole third grade year, etc. But the one thing I found that really caught my eye was my first grade notebook.

I've always loved writing. But until the end of my fourth grade year, I didn't save anything I wrote. So this beat-up composition notebook, a collection of my writings at their most primitive stage, caught me by surprise. And it was fun to find a piece of yesterday.

There is everything in that notebook. The first page is a crude picture of a bird in a tree, floating in the midst of what seems to be birdseed. Over this image is my caption, in two-inch tall print,
 I see a blue bird. There are lists in that notebook. There are school assignments, Sunday School notes. More crude drawings. A coloring page of Martin Luther King Jr.'s face that had been pasted there. A free verse poem (I remember despising that assignment. I've always detested free verse). And the first six chapters of my first-ever novel, in which the chapters were one page each and the characters were all named after people I knew. I was laughing out loud at the childish silliness of it-- to think that my days once revolved around this amazing thing that I fancied myself to be doing: writing a bestselling book! Here's the first chapter, exactly as I wrote it at age seven. See what you think:
Princess and the ice Palace:

Chapter 1: Tiffini

Tiffini lived on a farm in Woodsville, Majestial. It was called Majestial because it was beal beautiful, and pleasant. The Prince was very nice, and this is why the country was so beautiful. Tiffini had two sisters who were twins. Rebecca and Isabelle. Their Mother and Father worked hard from sunup to sundown and they only got paid $20.30 a day. The girls helped with the chores wich included: Gathering eggs, cleaning the chickens coup, feeding the animals, cleaning, weeding the garden, and baking. They also had a brother named Timmy who did milking and some other things. They only took baths on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. The girls only did school on Monday and Friday. They all helped on planting seeds.

Can you believe that was the setting of the stage for my first ever novel? I find it mortifying that I ever wrote something like that. But then again, I was only seven. And I never did write more than six pages (probably a good thing), or even decide on a title. This was because I learned the hard way to "write with the door closed." Other kids my age read over my shoulder and told me how awful it was, and how much like another book they had read. Even the title, Princess and the Ice Palace, they claimed was too much like a movie they'd seen. So I angrily shut the notebook and didn't open it again until now.

And, a few layers of unwanted papers and broken toys above that notebook, there was a paper in that box. This one was more recent. It was a chapter to my yet-unfinished novel, Rachel of Starr Light. Only back then I called it Amanda of Twin Oaks. Here it is, original typos and all.:

Aunt Jane's Romance

Amanda was dusting in the parlor when she found them. The old, yellowing letters stood out from behind the dishes in the chinaware cupboard. Mandie stood on tip-toe to reach them. She pulled them out from behind the blue willow dishes and pulled them down to read. Aunt Naomi would have called her a snoop, but Mandie didn't care. The fat yellow envelopes were calling her. She drew out a letter from the parcel and saw with surprise that they were adressed to Aunt Jane. There was no return address. She opened the letter.
"September 13, 18--
I hope this letter finds you well. I am away in a lawyer's office in Shrewsbury. AS you know, I am studying law in Mr. Blake's home." The letter had a dull beginning. Mandie skipped to the end. The letter was signed, "Yours truly, Robert Kier."
Amanda gasped. Robert Kier! Elsie's father! This is the best piece of news yet! I always wondered if Aunt Jane had a beau. she thought. FOr the rest of the day she itched to tell Elsie. Since today was Saturday, she had to wait until tomorrow to tell her friend. Aunt Naomi didn't allow anyone to go out after suppr.
Amanda sat through church all the next day, wanting for the service to be over. Timmy and his father were there, and that only made Amanda wanto to tell what she had found even more. At last the Reverend stopped speaking and said, "Let us pray." Amanda thought the prayer seemed especially long today. The moment the Reverend said, "Amen," Amanda bolted out the door to wait on the steps for Elsie. Aunt Naomie was socked at the speed with which Amanda left the sanctuary. But she would have to speak to Amanda about it later. Here came Mrs. White now. After what seemed an entirely too long time to Amanda, Elsie finally emerged from the church.
"You broke out of there like the devil himself was behind you," said Elsie. "What's the matter?"
"Ohm nothing in the world is wrong! In fact, Everything is right with the world! Elsie, look at these!" Amanda withdrew one of the letters from her prayerbook. Elsie gasped in excitement. This was one of the letters that had a return address. They started off down the road. Amanda opened the letter. The two friends took turns reading it.
"My dearest Jane," read Elsie dramatically. All is going whell here. My first case is tomorrow. Wish me luck, my love!' My love, indeed! I wonder if he had met Mother yet?"
"I don't know," said Amanda. "There is more in our parlor. I found them while I was dusting."
"But how'd they get there?" Amanda shook her head, making the wavy red hair bounce. "I don't know," she said again. "I don't think they were ever opened."
"But why? If Father loved your aunt Jand, she must have loved him."
"Maybe Aunt Naomi hid them. You know how she likes to be in control."
"Or maybe it was your Aunt Elise. You know, most of the town is talking about how your Aunts think they're the Three Fates." Amanda knew that.
"Let's race to your house and get the rest of the letters!" Elsie suggested. The twosome raced to Twin oaks and slipped up the stairs to the turret room. Amana had hidden the stack of letters under a loose floorboard. She pried it open and pulled out eh yellowed stack of letters. Someone had tied them with a ribbon of forget-me-not blue, which had faded over time. There were about twenty letters in all. Each was written in a fancy Victorian script and had some terrible love poems. Elsi and Amanda took turns reading Mr. Kier's words. Then halfway through Elsie stopped. Amanda frowned. "What's wrong?" Elsie looked down at the letter in her white hand. "I feel like We're making fun of Father," said she.
"I'm sure we're not. There's no one up here to hear us. And what if they got married?" Elsie looked up in surprise.
"If they got married...."
Amanda finished for her. "We'd be related! Let's finish these letters." The newly found matchmakers never got the chance. At that very moment, the front door opened. "They're home! Quick, you're not supposed to be here. I'll help you out the window." Amanda opened the window, which creaked and groaned terribly. Elsie hitched up the skirt of her blue calico, her only nice dress, and slid out the window.
"Come to my house tomorrow after school. If we're going to be matchmakers we need somewhere to plan!" Amanda nodded and watched her friend slide down a tree.

Yes, I know. It's not quite as far-fetched as the previous one, but it's not exactly good. It's "nice," I guess you could say. :^)

(How is it that I had better spelling in the first grade than in the fifth?)

And this is the ending from a story I wrote this year called "The Fence." I'm still rather proud of it. :^)

     The Girl ran out. This wasn’t right. In her stories, in her dreams, in her imagination, this was not how it was supposed to be. She got in her truck and drove home.

     Home. If she could just get home, to the beloved Fence, she’d be alright.
    The autumn sun fell to its knees in surrender to night as the Girl made her way through the trees. She sank to the ground on her rock, gazing forlornly at the empty ones beside it. Everyone was gone. Gone. The raging storm of time had swept by, and she was the only survivor.
    But here at the Fence, time didn’t stand a chance. It simply didn’t exist here. As she looked around through her tears, shapes formed around her. As things came into focus, she saw her brothers and the Boy’s brother charging through the trees with wooden swords. She saw her sister and the Boy’s sisters playing house around a circle of tree stumps. There was the Boy, on the rock next to hers, strumming his guitar.  She smiled, and he smiled back, opening his mouth to sing.  Sniffling, she listened to the haunting memory of his music.
    Nothing was ever really gone. It was just over the Fence. And whenever she needed them, they would all be right here, at the Fence.  And all eight of them would be together again, no matter how far apart they were in the real world. The Fence bound them together forever.
    The Boy and the Girl are long gone. The rest of the world has forgotten them. A new group of children plays at the Fence now.
    But memory’s seed has been sown, and the Fence remembers.

I think my writing skills have greatly improved since I was seven, don't you?

Though these first drafts of previous "novels" are horrible, I can learn from them. I can look at them and see how not to write. Maybe someday I can take the skeletons of ideas sketched out here and breathe life into them, creating something worth reading.

And the pieces I'm writing now-- in five years will I look back on them as disgusted as I was when I read these? I hope not, but you never know.

I don't know how many people read this blog-- probably, like, two. (:D) But Happy New Year to all of my readers!


Monday, December 23, 2013

December 17th, 2013-- Journaling

Rebecca's Diary
December 17th, 2013
"Ring Christmas bells,
Merrily ring,
Tell all the world,
Jesus is King,
Loudly proclaim,
With one accord,
The happy tale,
Welcome the Lord--"

That was my favorite Christmas carol until six hours ago.

Today was the School's Christmas concert.

I couldn't make it to band this morning (all they were going to be doing this morning was setting up the stage and decorating instruments to make them look Christmas-y), so I decorated my flute at home. Here's some pictures of what it looked like:

Flute Decorating: The Body
 The body of my flute was probably the hardest part. I had to be really careful not to wrap the ribbon too tightly, or touch the keys. If either of these had happened, the sound wouldn't have come out properly when I played today. It took about ten tries (full of snipping and re-taping so the ribbon wouldn't cross the keys), but I finally got it! What do you think?

Flute Decorating: The Mouthpiece (or Head Joint)
This part was a piece of cake-- since it's eight days to Christmas I'll say a piece of fruitcake! :P All I did was use clear Scotch tape to discreetly fasten one end of the red ribbon near the cork, and then wrapped the shiny crimson ribbon really tightly and taped the other end. I then did the same thing with the green ribbon, only I wrapped a lot more loosely to give it a swirled look. Then I hid one end of the tape under two bows with colors that matched my ribbon (also attached with tape).
Like I said, piece of fruitcake! Of course, I had to test it to be sure all the notes came out clearly. It worked!
Anyways, I got a ton of compliments at the concert, which made me very happy. 😄

Now what was it I was going to tell you? . . . oh, yes. The concert. Well, erm. . . .

I had a hard time getting to the school in the first place. There was a foot of snow on the ground (has been for quite some time) and it was snowing furiously. On the way into the building, my nose just about froze as I waited for someone to let me in.

We waited for what seemed like a large hunk of eternity while the other acts went on. It was your typical elementary school concert. First was the chorus, which sounded a bit deadbeat since there were only ten of them and one microphone was all they had in the way of a sound system. But the songs were pretty good. Then was the pre-k through third choir, which was adorable. Then the recorders. (I have never been overly fond of the screechiness of recorders, nor has anyone else I know.) Then the Beginning Band. And... finally... the Advanced Band.

Getting up there on the stage felt natural after doing so so many times before. I remembered the butterflies in my stomach that had almost lifted me off my feet the first time I had been in a one of the school's Christmas concerts, when I had sung in the kindergarten-through-third "choir." That was nine years ago, I thought, swallowing hard. Where has all that time gone?

Well, there wasn't time to ponder it now. The show must go on.
 And it did. We played Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, Deck the Halls, Up on the Housetop, and lastly, as the Christmas Concert's grand finale, Carol of the Bells.
"Try to go slow," whispered Tiffini.
"You can't go too fast," whispered Brooke. (Tiffini and Brooke are friends of mine and fellow flutists.)
"This speed," said Mrs. Liga, snapping her fingers to the beat she wanted us to play to.
"Okay, I get it! But no promises." I whispered sharply. And I started playing the notes.
This is my last Christmas concert, I thought, I've got to give it everything. I imagined the words in my mind as I played the notes that accompanied them, adding slurs and dynamics where I thought them appropriate. Forget the sheet music, I thought, I don't need it!
That was my mistake.
When the music was at its strongest, the instrument groups began dropping out one by one, as was planned. Three measures later, it was just me and the two other flutes. I got so caught up in trying to "embroider" the melody with different techniques that I forgot where to stop!  While I heard the rest of the band hit the final wavering note, my fingers were still moving. Brooke, Tiffini, and I were still playing "Ring Christmas bells, merrily ring--" We stopped abruptly, looking at each other baffled. What were we to do? We'd just messed up horribly in front of our entire school.
Then we just burst out laughing in hysteria.
The audience was looking at us like we had suddenly transformed into Martians. Why were the woodwinds laughing their heads off?
I didn't know what to do-- I just kept laughing. But I realized if I kept laughing, it would soon turn to tears. So I gave high-fives to my fellow flutes. "That was awesome!" I giggled. "We messed up with style!" At least we still have tonight, I thought. We could make it up.
But the evening concert was canceled due to snow, which made a lot of us very angry because by seven o'clock the roads were completely clear and the weather was beautiful.
And now every time I hear Carol of the Bells on the radio, I feel my ears turn ever-so-slightly red as I remember how we-- I-- messed up.
But, hey-- at least everyone will remember that last Christmas Concert.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

What Is A Synopsis? I Didn't Know Till Now!

 Synopsis: a brief survey or summary of something; a short outline or review of the main points.

I just learned a new word, case ya couldn't tell.  :^)

Hey, how's this for a synopsis? I've come as close as I dared to writing part of my novel (which would be breaking my promise to myself!) and wrote a summary for it. I'm not 100 % sure what the title's going to be. . . something that has to do with secrets. . . .

I'll get back to you on that!

For now, here's the synopsis for my next novel. Keep in mind that this is my first attempt at writing one for any of my books.

“A murderer will do anything to cover up what he has done.”
Derek knows a secret-- a gargantuan secret: he watched his stepfather, Jason, kill his mother. But he doesn’t dare tell anyone.
Derek is eleven now and has kept his mouth shut for five years, always fearing the big, ugly, abusive terror of a man that is his legal guardian. He’s terrified that somehow the secret might slip out--
And what might Jason do to him then?
Derek has finally found a place to fit in in Jessimon. He wouldn’t trade in his new life for anything. But when a series of robberies strikes the innocent little town, Derek thinks he may know who the thief is-- but in order to condemn the suspect, things from the past must come out of the shadows.
Does Derek care about Jessimon and his new friends enough to risk his own safety?

Tell me what you think in the comments!


-- Rebecca


Saturday, December 7, 2013



What's going on lately:

  • I won NaNoWriMo! I won NaNoWriMo! I won NaNoWriMo! Enough said. Anyone who's ever done it knows the satisfaction. Here's what the cover of my book looks like:
It's not the best it could be, I know.
But hey, it's my first cover (and novel!) ever!
  • Practicing for the Christmas Concert! They've finally set the date: December 17th. I've practiced "Carol of the Bells" so many times on my flute, I could literally play it in my sleep.
  • Played my first basketball game of the season Thursday! We were all pretty upset that we lost. But the other team, since they were so out-sized by us, had some pretty good strategy: they didn't really try during the first three quarters, which made our team start to get kind of careless. Then in the last period, when we were worn out, they made their comeback and beat us by four points-- !!!!!!!!!! The same thing happened during the boys' game, which was immediately after. But we know what we did wrong, and we're working on it, so we're better prepared for our next game (Monday).
  • Failing pre-algebra.
  • I survived my little sister's first ever slumber party last night.
  • I've already got an idea for my next novel-- some exhausted part of me went "NOOOOOOOOO!" when I first thought of it. "NO!" it said. "Not another one-- not after all the work and pain and frustration of the last one!" But I'm going to write it, anyway. I am going to compromise with my aching brain, though: no writing any part of any novel until 2014. 2013 is almost over (sadly), so the part of me that's itching to write won't have long to wait. 25 days until I can start.... :^)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Excerpt From My NaNo Novel

Here's an excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel. I'm feeling pretty sure of myself right now, so I'm taking a chance and sharing it. This is from one of my character's old diary:

"June 5, 1988

 I feel like a vase that someone has shattered with a baseball-- I've never been so wrong about something in my life.

Surprised? Yes. Oh, she was surprised when I handed her my novel manuscript, alright.

"I'll read it, Sparky," she said, a perplexed look on her face. "But I thought you were taking my advice and going slow up your 'Alpine Path?'"

"I wanted to show you I was capable," I said. I was such an idiot! "You have to tell me exactly what you think."

Well, she did. She told me exactly what she thought. I came in today, jubilant and expectant of the good news I was sure to hear: that the draft of my novel was so exceptional, even Mrs. Carlsen didn't know how to make it better, that someday it would be a bestseller for sure. After all, isn't that what every writer wants to hear?

When I sat down, I knew immediately that things were not about to go the way I'd expected. Mrs. Carlsen had the strangest look on her face-- like she was trying to hide something from me. I was suddenly filled with the sickening feeling that it was my story. She was trying to figure out how to tell me how bad it was. She waited for everyone to leave the room-- even Destiny Harsh, who always takes forever packing up her bookbag.

Mrs. C. and I sat in silence for a moment. I could feel the dread piling up inside me like a stack of paperwork.

"Well?" I said, when Destiny had finally exited the "laboratory." My voice sounded incredibly small in the big, vacant room. Mrs. Carlsen cleared her throat.

"I'll be frank, Livvy." Oh, things were headed for a bad end. Mrs. Carlsen only called me what everyone else did when she was dead serious about something. "It's-- it's trash, Sparky. Your characters are mere puppets. They don't come alive like they should in real literature. It's too emotional-- so emotional, I was almost embarrassed to read it. I've told you, girl, if you're going to write emotion, keep a diary."

I just sat there. Shocked was a weak word to describe what I felt. More like electrocuted.

"But-- I don't understand-- I thought--"

"We all think, Livvy," she interrupted. I detected malice in her voice. Had it really been that bad? "It's the flaw in our human nature; if Adam and Eve hadn't thought so hard, we'd all still be naked and unashamed. And all in all, your story... it's very... nice."

Oh, that stung. That stung far worse than any degrading word could have. Nice. The word nice is a writer's enemy-- it means something wasn't all that bad, but none too good, either. And if what you're writing isn't good, then what's the point of writing it at all?

I burst into tears-- yes, burst. I exploded. I grabbed the manuscript off her desk and threw it into the waste basket and ran out the door. I'm not going back to her class, not ever. They can't make me-- not even Aunt Molly can make me. I will never write again."


NaNoWriMo Tips

I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who's participating in NaNoWriMo who felt on top of the world there for a little bit--
"Oh, I've got 23,000 words, I'll do fine! It's only the second week. I'm going to finish in time, no doubt about it!"
-- And while I was feeling pretty good about how much I'd written, I got rather lazy.Then I realized that I have exactly FIVE DAYS to write the remaining 27,000 words! EEEEEEP!

I'm the queen of procrastination-- really, just ask my parents. I have two Language Arts writing assignments that were supposed to have been turned in two months ago, and I haven't even started researching for them.

Every ten weeks I'm supposed to turn in practice times for my flute, and I do all the practicing the night before it has to be submitted for grading (that's 700 minutes, people! Talk about my family not being able to sleep. I'm down there in the basement with my chin stuck to my flute playing Christmas carols over and over again, just so I can write down that I practiced for 700 minutes during the whole grading period!).

I'm putting off my history homework by doing NaNoWriMo.

Right now I'm procrastinating on writing for NaNoWriMo by writing this blog post.

You get the point.

So here's what I've done in the past 48 hours that have helped me bring my word count up from 23,000 to 32,000:

1. Chew gum. I know that sounds weird, but it works. Studies have shown that chewing gum can help you stay focused on longer tasks that require continuous monitoring. It makes you think. Google that, if you don't believe me.
In fact, I'd be chewing gum right now if my jaws weren't so sore from all that chomping!

2. Don't stop writing. I don't care what you write, just don't stop! Write a rhyming monologue between your protagonist and your bad guy. Write a fourteen-page description of your captain's ship cabin. Write song lyrics for music that will someday play in the background of this scene if your NaNo gets made into a movie.
You're a writer. Discipline yourself. Don't let your pen come off the paper.

3. Forget what I just said and do stop writing! Yes, I know I just said the opposite of that, but your brain may need an occasional break. If you've been sitting in that computer desk chair so long that there is an imprint of your butt in the seat (ha! Made you look, didn't I?), or if your dog looks at you like you're a stranger when you come upstairs to get a drink, you need to get away from that story for a little while. Get up and stretch, or exercise; walk the dog that doesn't seem to know you because he hasn't seen you in so long, or listen to some music.
Set goals and take breaks when you reach them. When we're writing, we tend to forget that we need to take care of little things like that. Breaks are a good time to tend to them.

4. Write from a different POV, or about a minor character who has faded into the background of your story. You never know, you may find these things useful when you write the second draft of your novel after NaNoWriMo.

5. Use the Thesaurus. Yes, that old-fashioned-looking thing on the shelf there. Look up all the adjectives, verbs, and nouns in your last sentence. Then rewrite the sentence as many ways as you can using those synonyms.

6. Keep a diary for your character. Writing about the little things in your character's everyday life can help you get to know him better. It's also a great way to expand your word count. :^)

7. Again, DON'T STOP WRITING!!! This is the most important thing that can be learned during NaNoWriMo. It's the whole point of this venture. We're writers; we're strong and we can write through anything. We can't stop.

Seven is my lucky number, so I think I'll stop this blog post here. Back to the drawing board! I mean, Google Drive.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Creative Writing-- November 7th, 2013

My first creative writing post! Here goes nothing:

I watched the blizzard from my kitchen table, revelin' in the way the snowflakes fell down like pieces int' place. If only life was like that, I thought.

It chilled me, though, t' watch the cold wind blow 'round like that. A sip of my steamin' coffee warmed me up right quick. My coffee was "white," as Pap used to say. He liked his like that, too-- with s' much cream and milk in it, it's almost as pale as fog on a Halloween night. Maybe that was why he and I got along so well, 'cos we both liked the same things. We both loved old books, and int'restin' arguments, and cold win'er days, and letters. Ah, letters. 'S been s' long since I got one, I almost forget the feelin' of openin' one. It's magical, ya know. Yer hands shake with anticipation as you rip away the seal, and that stench of the glue and stiff stationary fills yer nose--

A fate would have it, o' course, it was just as I was thinkin' about this that The Letter arrived.

I originally did this on The Write Practice, but I really liked it, so I'm posting it here.

Monday, November 4, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 7

Day 7:
Five Things You Couldn't Possibly Live Without

This one's easy! It's just like making a list (which I love).

1. L. M. Montgomery books. Have I mentioned how much I love this lady? She's amazing. Her books and short stories inspire me so much. If she had become a seamstress or a factory worker instead of a writer, I don't know what I would do.

2. Boots. We all love our boots around here. Snow boots, rain boots/muck boots, cowboy boots, etc. They're good for work, bad weather, and fashion statements. Couldn't get around without 'em.

3. Hoodies. I have an unhealthy amount of love for these things. They're warm, and not cumbersome, and you can take them off if you get too hot. You can plug in your ear buds and pull up the hood and creep people out by standing in the shadows. And you can wear them for weeks without washing, as one of my friends says (not that I would, you know, do something gross like that :) )

4. Letters. Letters are magical. Why is the art of letter-writing dying? It's so sad. I have several pen
pals, and I write to my best friends even though they only live like three hills over. While you can't save text messages and emails, I'll have these letters to keep long after we've gone our separate ways.

5. Band. In the band room, I'm actually good at something. It's my special thing. I have a place. I have an excuse to play my flute, and no one can tell me they're sick of hearing "Carol of the Bells" because I'm playing in the band room, where I'm supposed to play. Also, I get to see all my best friends in one place and we catch up on things.

Bye! I'm going to go practice "Carol of the Bells" extra loud now. (he he he ....)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 6

Day 6
A Moment You Wish You Could Relive

I honestly wish I could relive every day of my life up until the fourth grade. All of those times were beautiful. Those were the days of running wild with my friends when the teachers turned their backs, the Nature Club (don't ask), and building fairy houses with my cousin Isabelle. Those were the days when the biggest thing I had to worry about was math homework. Life was simple then. Oh, why do we have to grow up?

Every day, I pick a memory from a long time ago and replay it in my mind over and over all day, being sure to get every detail perfect. I then shelf it, and the next day pick another. In this way, I don't forget any of those precious memories.

I remember it was a cold morning, but those of us at the Aurora School were used to it. Two weeks ago, we had begged the teachers to start letting us go outside again.

"It's warm enough!" we said. We hated jackets. They hampered one's movements so. It was nearly impossible to play freeze tag in them, or squeeze down the curly slide. (I always marvel at the fact that one of us didn't get stuck in one of the playground tunnels. We were as big around as marshmallows in our heavy winter coats!) But we offered to wear them, just to get breath of fresh air. We were all sick of watching movies in Mrs. Martin's classroom. The teachers had relented to us going outside at last, and winter coats were donned as we filed out of the gymnasium. Of course, the coats were ditched five minutes later and lay in a pile by the school wall, much to the teachers' distress.

Tetherball was very popular. We would form two lines behind the two children playing. When one lost, the next person behind him would step up and challenge the winner. Usually this person would beat the former winner, and the person behind her would step up. We'd each get a turn before we had to go back inside.

Only there was this one boy, this big, tall, redheaded boy, who remained undefeated. No one in the line behind him ever got a chance. I remember I was standing nearby, watching him beat one of my friends. She was petite and shy, and she didn't stand a chance against the boy. He made fun of her, giving the ball a huge thwack! and sending it swirling around the pole. I saw him do it again, and again. He's having way too much fun with that, I remember thinking. One more wrap around the pole, and he would win again.

Just as he began his last blow, I stepped in front of the girl and took the ball for her. Jumping up, I punched it back around to the bully's side of the pole. It unwrapped once, twice, three times. I hit it again, and again, and the rope swung around the pole five times. He just stood there, shocked.

"You won, Rebecca! You beat Brandon!" I don't remember who exactly said it, but it felt good.

"Yeah, I guess I did," I was breathless. I was not used to standing up to people. For once, the shy, bookish girl had won a battle.

I remember Brandon's angry face.

"Hey, you can't do that, cheater! I dare you to do it again tomorrow. Bet you can't beat me then."

"You're on," I hissed.

And you know what? I won. And that was the end of his reign of tetherball terror.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 3 and 4 and 5

Yes, I've been a bad girl. I missed a day! But I'm doing it now, and that's what counts, right? So here it is:

Day 3:
A Favorite Book

My favorite book? I am a writer, people-- you are just asking for it here! There's about a hundred titles I could list off the top of my head!

But I am going to spare you from that, and just say Emily Climbs by L. M. Montgomery.

Emily Climbs is the story of Emily Starr, an orphan, who is born with the natural inclination to write. But Emily's romantic writer's spirit often clashes with the strict traditions of her mother's family, the stiff, sensible Murray's. Emily is so much like me in some ways, it scared me a little when I read it. Emily's story is much like that of Anne's, only Emily is more serious about writing and her imagination is a little creepier. In fact, in some places, L. M. Montgomery has you wondering if it was Emily's fantasizing or Something Else that inspired the spooky coincidences.

You can read more about it by clicking that link above, because I'm going to be lazy and hurry to get day 4 and 5 done!

Day 4:
A Favorite Television Program
"Has anyone ever watched Good Luck Charlie?"

"Ooh, me! Me! I have!" (jumps up, waving arms frantically) "It's the best Disney show ever!"

Good Luck Charlie is awesome! It's like watching a reenactment of things that happen in my house daily. Seriously, sometimes I wonder if the writers of the Good Luck Charlie script have a camera on my house that they watch when they need inspiration for a new episode. There's a character whose personality matches each of the kids in my family:

Me= Teddy
Joshua= PJ
Levi= Gabe
Hannah= Charlie
Nathan= Toby

Good luck, Hannah! (ha!)
Day 5:
A Favorite Quote
"Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"
--L. M. Montgomery
Most truthful quote ever! When you mess up bad, and you wish that you'd been fatally wounded by an angry horse instead of having to suffer through that mortifying event, it's wonderful to know that there's always tomorrow to start fresh. Tomorrow is clean and pure and unwrinkled; there's the possibility that it could be the best day of your life. But you don't know that until you get through this moment right now, so that thought keeps you going. If I can just make it through this, if I can just make it to tomorrow, everything will be okay.
You do have to be careful with that, though-- appreciate today, and enjoy the little things. If you always live for what's going to happen tomorrow, you'll waste your whole life.
The only thing about this quote is the word "nice." "Nice" is a horrible descriptive word! It means something isn't horrible, but it isn't good, either. If you really want to insult a true writer, tell them their writing is "nice!" If it's not excellent, or at least good, then what's the point of your doing it anyway?! But I think the word is excusable here, as it helps get the point across to people who don't understand the folly of the word "nice."

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 2

Day 2:
A Favorite Movie
This is even harder for me than a favorite song. Hmm... (three hours later:)
Okay! Got it. I think....
No. I can't pick a favorite. But I really like animated movies, so I think for now I'll go with "Despicable Me."
"Despicable Me" is just. Plain. Hilarious! Anyone who knows me knows that I love humor. (Really, I laugh at everything that's even slightly funny!) I love Despicable Me because it's sweet, strange, and funny. The best characters? The Minions.
The Minions remind me of my brothers. They are small and round and odd (like my brothers). They talk funny (like my brothers). They are always beating each other up, rolling on the floor in a heap, accidentally injuring their fellow Minions, and fighting over things such as bananas (like my brothers). There's the scene where three of the Minions go crazy in the store (like my brothers. It's a miracle my family hasn't been banned from Wal-Mart and Shop 'n' Save yet, for countless offenses by the Three Stooges that I am luck enough to call my siblings. Did you know that the hose in the produce section of Wal-Mart works quite well?).
See, look closely. Don't you see the resemblance to the Minions?

Monday, October 28, 2013

30 Day Blogging Challenge-- Day 1

I am going to be doing a thirty-day blogging challenge. If any of you read The Magic Violinist's blog, then you've probably seen her version of it! I thought it was a great idea and an awesome way to officially get this blog started! Here's how it's going to go:
Day 1: a favorite song
Day 2: a favorite movie
Day 3: a favorite book
Day 4: a favorite television program
Day 5: a favorite quote
Day 6: a moment you wish you could relive
Day 7: five things you couldn't possibly live without
Day 8: a thank-you letter to someone who has changed your life
Day 9: a photo you took
Day 10: a photo of you taken over ten years ago
Day 11: a photo you've taken recently
Day 12: a song that you want played at your wedding (or was played)
Day 13: a guilty pleasure
Day 14: a vacation you would like to take
Day 15: a person that you admire
Day 16: a song that makes  you cry
Day 17: an art piece
Day 18: a time when you felt passionate and alive
Day 19: a talent of yours
Day 20: a hobby of yours
Day 21: something that you know you do differently than other people
Day 22: a website
Day 23: a way in which you want to be remembered
Day 24: a movie no one would never expect you to love
Day 25: a recipe
Day 26: a childhood memory
Day 27: a physical feature that you love
Day 28: a scar you have and its story
Day 29: hopes, dreams, and plans that you have for the next 365 days
Day 30: a motto or philosophy
So, here goes. Wish me luck!
Day one--
A Favorite Song

Oh, this first one is SO hard! I love all country music. I love Taylor Swift the most. I love all of her songs equally (excepting "The Last Time." That song just doesn't sound like her!) But right now, my most favorite song is "Everything Has Changed."
It's the sixth single off Taylor Swift's album Red. (I just bought Red Saturday-- I was going to wait until Christmas, but I couldn't take it anymore! It was totally worth it. I've been driving my family crazy with the CD since.) I heard it for the first time on our local radio tonight, which makes it officially released!
"Everything Has Changed" is a beautiful song, co-written by Ed Sheeran and Taylor. The video features two kids, resembling Swift and Sheeran, at school. They are obviously good friends, and participate in several activities together. The song expresses the joy and uncertainty of a new relationship.
Every time I hear the song, I see the video in my mind. It reminds me of my first day of kindergarten: I was a new kid in a new town, a little girl with five years' experience of living in this world, and the new doctor's daughter. I had every right to be nervous. But for some reason, I wasn't. I made new friends within seconds of stepping off the school bus. The line "All I know is you held the door, you'll be mine and I'll be yours" really has significant meaning to me, because the tall, red-headed girl who held the door for me soon became my best friend. Even though I'm homeschooled now, the scene in the music video involving the music room reminds me of how I take band classes at the school here. I can relate to the disorder, confusion, craziness, and frustrated music teacher (love you, Mrs. Liga!) when we get a new piece of music (we always work it out in the end, though).
You should definitely be proud of your newest single, Taylor! Here's the video: I highly recommend you watch it.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Seven Things on Sundays-- October 27th, 2013

Is anyone else super-excited for NaNoWriMo? I know I am! This is my first year participating. Honestly, I just heard of it for the first time three weeks ago! But I'm glad I did, because now I get to join thousands of fellow writers in reaching a goal of 50,00 words.

I've had the idea for this novel floating around in my head for about my entire life. It's neat to see all the weird little details that I've remembered since infancy fall into place in a story.

Here's my list for this week:

Seven Odd things That Inspired My NaNoWriMo Novel:

1. The older brother of a kid I've known since kindergarten
2. An old, scratched guitar
3.  A bright green pickup truck
4. An obnoxious blonde boy
5.A little white farmhouse
6. A photo of a happy couple in a rowboat holding their daughter in a sundress
7. Merida from Brave (she's somehow become the face for my main character!)

Who would've thought all these things could come together to form a book?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Book Review: Island of the Aunts

Author: Eva Ibbotson
Publisher: Puffin Books
Type: Juvenile fiction

I found this book, battered and abused, on the one-dollar shelf at a book fair. It was definitely worth it. Here is my review:

What do you get when you combine three oddball aunts, a handful of magical creatures, a hidden island, and three kidnapped children?

Well, if you're wondering, the result is Island of the Aunts.

Aunt Etta, Aunt Coral, and Aunt Myrtle have realized that they are getting on in years. The selkies, mermaids, and other creatures living on their secret island will need someone to care for them after they are gone; someone to continue their work. What they need are a few sensible children who can keep a secret. Aunt Etta convinces her sisters that their best bet is to kidnap. And while kidnapping is not usually the best way to go about things, in this case it just needs to be done.

The newly kidnapped Minnette and Fabio find themselves on a strange island. At first the children are scared, but the magic and awe-inspiring creatures on the island soon drive away their fear. They find that being held hostage by the well-meaning aunts is nothing like what they've ever heard about kidnappers. Since the island is a much happier place than both the children's individual homes, they settle into island life happily.

A third captured child, the spoiled-rotten Lambert Sprott, manages to contact his rich father through his cellular phone. At Lambert's crazy tales of mermaids and giant birds and wingless dragons, Mr. Sprott sets sail, determined that the island is a gold mine for opportunity.

In a classic good vs. evil struggle, the Island of the Aunts will have you entranced in its plot. The writing is loaded with Ibbotson's wit, humor, and charm. It's a funny and touching tale of adventure, magic, and the bad guys getting what they deserve.

I would give this book four stars. Fantasy lovers won't be able to put it down once they get hooked.


Seven Things on Sundays-- October 20th, 2013

Hi! I'm going to start doing what I call Seven Things on Sundays. It's where I make a random list of seven things-- for example, seven facts about L. M. Montgomery:

1. She is the author of 20 novels and over 500 articles, poems, and short stories.
2. Almost all of these take place on her beloved Prince Edward Island, where she grew up with her maternal grandparents.
3. She is best known for her novel, Anne of Green Gables, which has sold over 50 million copies and has been translated into 20 languages
4. Her mother died when she was 21 months old; her father gave custody of her to her grandparents and headed west.
5. Her husband was mentally ill. It's amazing how even though she had a hard life, she still managed to do something great!
6. Quote: "Next to trying and winning, the best thing is trying and failing."
7. She is my role model.

L. M. Montgomery, age 10. This is the cover for her book,
Emily of New Moon. They used her photo because the character,
Emily, is made after her.

Now, for today:

Seven random things about me:
 1. I go around with a pen or pencil in my shoe. Yes, it's true. When I do actually wear shoes, anyway (barefoot or flip-flops are preferable). You never know when you might need to write something important down! I also sometimes put a small notebook in my rain boot. My friends say I'm a true writer because of this. My enemies call me just plain weird.
2.  I can memorize numbers, but not words. This may someday prove useful, if I'm ever hit by a car and happen to catch the license plate number. But it has yet to help me out with anything useful, like schoolwork. (example: There are very few numbers in the Declaration of Independence or the Gettysburg Address!)
3. I write my best stuff late at night (or early in the morning, depending how you look at it). That's the reason I always have purple shadows under my eyes.
4. I always eat the icing last. It's just better that way, people!
5. I never fix my hair. Unlike normal girls my age, I do not bother putting my hair up. Why waste time when I could be writing?
6. I have four crazy younger siblings. Okay, this one is so not my fault.

7. Some of my friends call me a stalker. This is because of the number-memorization thing. I'm like a walking address book; I can remember people's phone numbers and addresses without even thinking. I'm not really a stalker, I promise!

I can't wait for Tuesday! I'm doing creative writing... probably....


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Journaling-- October 19, 2013

I know it's not Tuesday. But I warned you, I don't like rules! So here's my post for today:

Can you guess where we were? If you guessed a corn maze, you're right! If you didn't guess corn maze, you may want to talk to your doctor about getting your eyes checked.
Why pay money to get lost? I don't know, but it was fun.
We followed these trivia questions to find our way through the maze. But due to complications (*cough* brothers) we finally gave up and just wandered through until we found the exit. We met up with the rest of our group for a hayride.
 A group of kids from our church on the hay wagon.
Here's some random pictures I took today at the farm. I apologize for poor quality (there's a reason I don't plan on being a professional photographer!).
Do you love their hats, or what?

Can you see my stealth notebook?
You never know when you may need to
write something down!

Just thought this was cool. Dried corn!
Among the animals there, there was a miniature pony. Can you see him? He's such a cute little pinto.
We came home tired and cold. But we had a fun time.
I know this post has been mostly photos. And my writing is kind of dusty right now, as I've pretty much kept it on the shelf this week, so it's not the best. But a picture is worth a thousand words, right?
I may or may not post on Tuesday. :^P