Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May Highlights

  Honestly, I'm having trouble realizing that today is the last day of May?? What even. That's five whole months of 2017 gone just like that...wowza.

  May has definitely gone by the fastest of all the months this year, and it's only just starting to dip into that crazy time of year where life goes into hyper-drive. Am I falling behind? Yes. Am I still going at top-speed anyway? Also yes. Am I probably going to crash and burn by fall? Heck yes. But not before. I am determined in this.



  LIFE EVENTS

  • The biggest and most exciting event of May was our trip out to the West Coast to see Quadra Island's Camp Homewood. I went with my fiance and his family (us four girls being the only ones who went to the camp) and really had a blast. I had never been to that side of the country before, so it was a super cool experience. I posted about it here.
Camp Homewood dock on Quadra Island, BC.
  • Australian horse jedi, Warwick Schiller, came and gave a clinic at my riding stable and that was special to watch. I learned so many new concepts about horses in just a couple hours of watching and listening to him. 
  • My family and some fellow homeschooling friends attended the March for Life rally in Edmonton, AB. I have never been to a rally, it was a neat experience. A few people seemed pretty upset with our march, but overall our walk was met mostly with people's cell phone cameras. 
Our "March Team" selfie
  • Since Kyrianna has been out of commission in terms of horses, I haven't been at the barn as much lately. So little jumping to show. However, I have done a lot of horsework at camp, including working with the sketchy new horse, Baxter. I decided I was going to make him quiet and safe to mount. Our first session took 30 minutes of me standing beside him/half-mounting him til he stood still for me to get completely on. Then it went down to 20. Last Saturday it was a solid 5 minutes. I am so proud of him, and myself, for accomplishing even that small thing. The main difference I am finding in him is that he is so much more relaxed and happy-looking, which is great to see from him as he is usually nervous and grumpy. I have also been working with Gus, Flash and Job who all have their own little issues to solve (though they are not so needy as Baxter).
  • My cousin Abby graduated high school! It was my second time only attending a public school grad and it was very, very long. She had 400+ students graduating with her and the ceremony was very boring but I thoroughly enjoyed the pre-ceremony photography that I had the privilege to do with her. :D
Abby is so pretty and Alberta got SO GREEN just overnight. Love it!
  • I threw a bit of a get-together for a camp staff friend of mine, Chance. Us girls ended up having quite a few pictures taken throughout the day. Please keep Chance in your prayers as she is going in for a brain surgery today because of a tumor behind her eye. Any and all prayer for her and her family/boyfriend, Josh, would be welcomed whole-heartedly.
Chance is pictured on the far right. Please pray for her!
  • I've found myself drawn to the lake quite a bit this year even though it's only May and in Canada the water is usually still cold. Trust me, it is still cold. 
But not too cold for pictures of handsome fiances
  • Seeding. Ugh. Spring is unfortunately the bearer of bad news for me when it comes to farming. The work triples and gets so long and hot and miserable. I just finished a 14 hour day as I type this and believe me, I am NOT looking forward to returning to the drudgery tomorrow. 
  • BABY ANIMALS. I think we're finally pretty much done calving, but we've also had some new kittens and that's pretty great. 


WRITING LIFE


  In terms of strictly writing, this month hasn't been the greatest. I did not meet my goal of finishing up to chapter 20 in The Wandering, but I am okay with that. I have decided to save it for fall/winter and finish all of Part One before 2018. I have been steadily chipping away at Thin-Skinned (if only because it's my final project for school) and am starting chapter seven soon. It's been an interesting book to work on, but I'm slightly distracted from the process by the millions of other things that need doing. :P

  But, the most exciting writing news of the month is THE SORCERESS AND THE SQUID IS BEING PUBLISHED!!!

  I'm sure you've heard me go on and on about this, but honestly, I'm just absolutely thrilled and excited and astonished that this is actually happening!! I've got a Launch Team and Blog Tour planned and both an ebook and paperback version coming out. I just sent for my proof copy yesterday and I can't wait to receive it! To hold an actual book of mine completed, in my hands. This month I had a cover reveal as well as got the formatting finished so it's basically ready to go. Just waiting on release day... (June 18th)

Here is the cover again, in case I haven't shoved it in your face enough. XP


READING LIFE


I did myself proud and read 6 books this month (my biggest haul in forever). And they were all really, really great.

 TUCK EVERLASTING by Natalie Babbit

I read this on the way to Abby's grad in about an hour. I had been meaning to read it for awhile and wish I had sooner. It was a great story, short and obviously written for a younger demographic, yet one that totally resonates with you when you're older as well. Honestly, it got me thinking so much and made me really feel for the main characters. It was a very good book. 4.5/5
 LILITH by George MacDonald

It's easy to see where CS Lewis drew much of his inspiration, calling George MacDonald a mentor to him. This book was amazing. Very psychedelic and a little hard to get into and understand at first, but it definitely drew me in despite that. I have a thing for strange new worlds in which an unsuspecting character is dumped. I especially like it when you get a ton of very deep and interesting philosophical thoughts dumped in your lap at the same time. Read it. 5/5
 NO SUCH THING AS DRAGONS by Philip Reeve

This was a quick book, probably for the 12-13 age range, but it was thoroughly enjoyable, chronicling the experience of a mute boy as he follows a dragon-slaying knight who doesn't believe dragons exist...or do they?
Short but sweet. 3.5/5
 THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher

Since I watched the show I felt it was only right to read the book. I was quite surprised. I discovered that the show, while not taking away or changing things from the book, really really added onto the book with the secondary characters and their own struggles. While this adds a lot of depth to the show, I am glad the book focuses only on Clay and Hannah - specifically Clay. The book is about him learning to reach out to those in need, and the message is brought home beautifully. I read it in one sitting. Definitely recommend. 4/5

THE GIRL WHO COULD SEE by Kara Swanson

I got to be part of the Launch Team for this yet-to-be-released book (coming out tomorrow!) and am so glad I did! Kara painted a beautiful story with a really interesting plot and characters to go with it. I fell in love with them and got very wrapped up in the story as a whole. Much praise for Kara and her book (especially that beautiful cover, wow!) My only complaint is that I wish it was longer, so as to experience more of the world and flesh it out. 4/5


THE TIME MACHINE by HG Wells

I've never read any HG Wells, so this was a new experience. I wasn't sure what to expect from a 19th century man travelling into the future - I was quite surprised by the results. It was very well-crafted and interesting and presented some very unique ideas, which I appreciate. 4/5






BLOGGING LIFE


  Even my blogging went pretty well this month I'd say...

  I posted about my #WestCoast2017 trip, the big reveal of The Sorceress and the Squid's impending publishing and got tagged by Andrea for The Writer's Tag. I had to miss a week due to my trip, but on the whole I've kept up my weekly blogging well. Quite a few cool things coming in the future...

  Blogging stats:


  • Followers: 23 (up from 17, wow! Thank you guys so much!!)
  • Pageviews: 6,797
  • Posts: 67


GOALS


Goals for May
  • One more chapter in The Wandering (I *think* this is a realistic goal). // It *was* realistic but, as I am wont to do, I changed my mind about it due to time constraints. Saving it for fall when I have ALL the time (jk, lol). 
  • Get The Sorceress and the Squid ready to send for formatting and prep for release (more info on this stuff COMING SOON). // Definitely did this and am well on my way to publishing! *squeals*
  • Definitely get as much done in Thin-Skinned as I can since I have to have a certain amount of pages finished for the end of my course next month. // I guess one chapter counts as "as much as I can?"
  • Read 2 books // I went above and beyond that one for sure. Yesss. 
Goals for June 

  • Get published! 
  • Get more bloggers to join my blog tour (as of now, I am very low on numbers so if you would like to join my blog tour, running from the 18-24th, that would be amazing and I will love you forever!)
  • Keep plugging away at Thin-Skinned
  • Read 2 books
  • Finish betas/ARC's 
Probably should stop there since I have a billion non-writing-related things to do as well. :P 

  
  Well, thanks for joining me on another monthly highlight reel. This month was pretty cool and so many things happened and there's so much going on. I'm feeling both overwhelmed and elated (jumping from both back and forth). This is going to be an awesome summer, I think. 

  How was your May? Are you wrapping up school now? Are you graduating? Do you have any cool summer vacations planned? Let me know!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Writer's Tag

Today I am answering Andrea's tagging call! Are you utterly thrilled to hear about my writing life? No? Well, stick around anyway and I'll give you a cute picture of my ponies at the bottom, kay?



1. What genres, styles and topics do you write about?


I am first and foremost a fantasy writer. I have a large an ongoing fantasy series in the works and have written other, shorter fantasy pieces. It is my favorite genre as I feel there is so much you can capture in it. And building new worlds is one of my favorite things to do. However, I love to write in many genres: contemporary, dystopian, sci-fi, thriller, etc. 

2. How long have you been writing?


I wrote my first "book" when I was eight years old (so eleven years ago). I've been pretty consistently writing things since then, but the last few years is when I've really been getting things accomplished and writing things that I believe were worth finishing. 

3. Why do you write?


I'd like to quote Joss Whedon for this answer: 

"I write to give myself strength, I write to be the characters I am not, I write to explore all of the things I am afraid of."

4. When is the best time to write?


Definitely in the morning for me. Definitely. By the time afternoon rolls around I get busy with other things, and in the evening I like to just relax. So the morning is my best work space for sure. I used to write an hour in the morning every day, back when I didn't have a life and was more disciplined. XD

5. What parts of writing do you love and hate?


Something I love about writing is the creativity and crafting of new things and new places and new situations. I love that I can learn to understand people better because of how I seek to portray people legitimately. I love that writing is something I can do well.

Some things I don't like are the discipline it takes, the time it takes to make something really polished and worthwhile, and the fact that it's a hard field to break in to well. 

6. How do you overcome writer's block?


I don't believe in writer's block. If I sit down and don't write it's because I chose not to, not because I couldn't do it. I am bad for procrastinating and/or getting distracted by the Internet, so I totally blame "writer's block" on my own laziness and inability to apply myself. 

7. Are you working on something at the moment?


I'm always working on something. XD Right now I have a final project for school, a dystopian novel I'm writing called Thin-Skinned. I am also occasionally working on the second book in my fantasy series, The Wandering and working on marketing The Sorceress and the Squid. So yes, a lot of projects on the go, granted I haven't touched The Wandering for quite awhile now, which is probably better at this stage. :P

8. What are your writing goals this year?


Get published! I really want to get The Sorceress and the Squid published in June and that will be my main goal achieved! After that, when the craziness of summer and wedding and camp dies down, I hope to edit my messy first draft called Faithless and eventually get it beta-ready and then during this fall/winter, finish part one of The Wandering. I feel like that's not too terribly ambitious of me? Maybe???

Here are three people I want to hear answers from:


Abigayle Ellison

Jonathan Trout

Hannah Rodriguez

(totally do it guys!!)

As promised, a totally cute picture of my ponies...


  Well, that's all I got for today, guys! Thanks for checking out the post, and thank you for the tag, Andrea. It was a lovely tagging game of self-discovery.

  Keep in mind that applications for The Sorceress and the Squid are still open and available. I'm in desperate need of bloggers for my blog tour from June 18-24th. If I don't get enough for a full week I'll cut it down, but that's my goal, please please help if you can! Thank you!

Blog Tour Application: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1ktHoiZEK7l7Shy6_KN5FgzPbShrZUqd07PbPJjF_4VE/edit

Launch Team Application: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/17C2X_sZCqOFdf4JFkagJOjmiB-g1FIMzxqZgqsGAiVk/edit?usp=drive_web

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Sorceress and the Squid COVER REVEAL + RELEASE DATE + LAUNCH TEAM/BLOG TOUR SIGNUPS

  The day has come, guys. The Sorceress and the Squid finally has its cover, and finally said cover will be revealed to the entire world! What an awfully exciting day! Or at least, I'm excited anyway, you should be too - you get to see some fantastic art and hear the special release date news, firsthand!


nope, this is not the cover, just my aesthetic collage

  But firsttttt....a synopsis. Again. XD I'm sure you're sick to death of hearing it, but just in case someone new is lurking about, here it is:

In the magical land of Perth, divisions between the Old Kingdom and the New have waged for centuries. The humans have long harbored a mistrust of the spell-casting Fae and vice versa. In the midst of this conflict, Estrella the Sorceress lays waste to the Training Academy for Human Warriors, making an enemy in the soldier, Jalen. During their standoff, Jalen is turned into a squid and Estrella, unable to restore him to his original form, takes pity on him and travels west across the Sea to bring him to the Wizard in hope he can be saved. But is there more to the unrest in Perth than meets the eye?

  I'm sure this is all sounding quite strange to you, the story I mean, and I'll grant you, it's a weird one. But I do have faith that it will be thoroughly enjoyed by readers of all shapes and sizes - at least I sincerely hope so. 

  Now, for the reason you're here. The cover reveal. 

  Are you ready?

  Great!

  Here it is....



  Isn't it beautiful?? I love the scene and the color scheme and it's so absolutely cool seeing a piece on my story in art. I love it! I hope you guys do too. 

  Credit for this beautiful work goes to Micah Jonsson, a fellow homeschooler/artist from my area. You can see more of his amazing talents on his deviantART page.

  Now for the fun stuff. Announcements. 

  First of all, my new (hopefully more realistic) release date for TSatS is JUNE 18th 2017. Mark your calendars and be on the lookout! I have a crazy busy next couple months ahead of me but I'm determined to make this work, but I will need some help...

  That's where the rest of these announcements come in. I have both Launch Team and Blog Tour applications for those who want to get involved with this crazy publishing journey. I am totally new to all this so you should follow along to watch me stumble awkwardly and violently through this whole process. At the very least it will be entertaining. ;)

  Here is the Launch Team application:



And here is the Blog Tour application:




Thank you everyone for sharing in this journey with me, today my novel is also headed off to be properly formatted and that is a huge thing as well. I am so, so excited and I can't wait to see just how messy and wonderful this all gets. Thanks for sharing in the excitement with me!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

#WestCoast2017

  Hey everybody! Wow, it feels like I've been gone for ages and have SO much to catch up on. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed with said catch-up but I am so incredibly thankful that I got to take a long weekend to journey out to the West Coast of Canada and see a new (to me) and beautiful piece of my country. I thought that I would share some of my photos and stories from the trip with y'all cause it was super inspiring and this blog is just me venting about my various inspirations!

  So, last Thursday I left my central Alberta habitat with my future in-laws (Andrew, Iris, Kyrianna, Trina and Josh) and fiance (Jonathan) and set out on a journey to the West Coast of Vancouver, BC. Here is a chronicle of my western Canada adventure.




  DAY ONE: We headed out early in the morning for Armstrong, BC to spend the first night with friends. About a 6-7 hour drive. Our first stop was beside a beautiful river whose name escapes me with a gorgeous mountain view. We had lunch in the mountain town of Revelstoke and met this adorable puppy.


  At the end of the drive we arrived in Armstrong mid-afternoon and proceeded to explore the gorgeous property, petting horses, kittens and lambs along the way. The house is situated in a little valley with a large creek, up the hill you can hike to a nice flat field. It's beautiful. They have a cabin in which we spent the night.


  DAY TWO: Us four girls (myself, Iris, Kyrianna and Trina) got up early and made our way westward to catch the afternoon ferry from the mainland of Vancouver to Vancouver Island. That was quite the drive, but beautiful. A soft, somber drizzle accompanied us through the whole morning until we boarded the ferry (we arrived just in time to be the third last car on).


  The ferry across to the island was an hour and a half. It was my first time cruising over the ocean and I loved it. The wind was nasty but I thoroughly enjoyed standing at the front of the boat and feeling the wind through my hair. I enjoyed it less having my back to the wind and it blowing into my eyes.



  We had another pretty long drive down the main island to our next ferry, making our travel total that day about 12 hours. But we stopped at a beach on the way to stretch our legs and then caught a much smaller ferry to Quadra Island - our end destination being Camp Homewood.


  Our first evening we explored Camp Homewood and had a wonderful meal and a decent sleep on real(ish) beds.

  DAY THREE: Involved waking up early and Kyrianna and I heading right back down to the dock for a morning tree climb above the water. Then breakfast and then the both of us and Trina took a canoe out into the cove and saw some seals playing in the water from a little distance. After that we split up to go to our activities. Trina and I went hiking to Homewood Bluff and saw a really cool view. After that I skipped activities to wander around the dock and take photos of things. Then it was lunch and all four of us went to the horse barn for a trail ride (much more relaxing to ride horses at other camps). The head of the horse program there is a 20 year old girl named Meagan and I was so impressed by her and her bravery in heading something like that. After our ride Trina and I had to rush back down to the dock to catch our sailboat (I had never been on a proper sailboat). That was pretty awesome. We then had some time throughout the day to explore the camp and canoe twice more. Once we canoed around a smaller island and came across a spotted seal sitting on a rock, just a couple feet away. He didn't even move, just let us canoe past and then pull up a little ways away to watch him on the island. That was pretty neat. We ended the day with the camp director's wife (who's a fantastic lady) playing with homemade sparklers by the campfire.


DAY FOUR: Our final day at the camp started with another tree climb/big rock climb, a hearty breakfast, a drive out to Rebecca Spit on the island, and then a speedy exit to catch the ferry back to the main island. We then proceeded to take the long drive back to catch a ferry to the mainland where we visited Iris' sister and family and then drove to Surrey to stay with a very kind old friend of Iris' named Ursula. By that point the tiredness was beginning to catch up.



DAY FIVE: After breakfasting and exploring Ursula's garden, we started the long drive back to Armstrong. Along the way stopping at Bridal Falls where I was made to pose under the big, gorgeous waterfall, cause symbolism I guess? :P It was a cool little hike into the most mossy woods I've ever seen. We got back to Armstrong mid-afternoon and Kyrianna and I spent a large portion of the day working with their two young horses and got the little guy to take a saddle for the first time, which was pretty cool.




DAY SIX: The final stretch! In Armstrong we picked up Josh, who had stayed behind after Jonathan and Andrew headed home. Thus our car ride back to Alberta was squishier, to say the least. We went through multiple avalanche zones and were stopped for them a couple times, saw two mountain goats and ate lunch at the Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk, which was pretty cool.


  When we got back home I pretty much flew into Jonathan's arms and didn't leave until I had to go back to my house. I was so tired but so happy and inspired and in awe.

  There you have it! My roadtrip of 2017 documented in pictures, supplemented with stories. I had an amazing week away and am so happy I got the chance to go and enjoy the west coast. If you ever get the chance to see British Columbia, Canada, I implore you - GO.

  One of the things that definitely stood out to me about this trip was the phrase "valuing experiences rather than possessions." I've never really realized the depth and truth there is to that - as a bit of a homebody who likes her creature comforts. But experiences truly are far more valuable than possessions, and I am so fortunate to be able to collect so many. I'm so excited to see what others I get to add to my life story in years to come.