NaNoWriMo & Preptober!

If you know what November is and how NaNoWriMo (link) is, then you might currently be in prep mode for Preptober!

For those who are wondering what I’m talking about and why I am changing the name of months, let me explain. 

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month where writers across the world all challenge themselves to write a 50,000 novel in November. Thirty days to write an entire novel. Granted, not all novels are 50,000 words, in fact, a lot of novels have a significantly higher word count. This is supposed to be a draft. This is your starting point. NaNoWriMo is a great way to challenge yourself to put your creativity at a higher number on the priority list. (Which is always my problem, let’s be real.) 

This is my second year really attempting to do NaNoWriMo. The first year was a complete flop and I couldn’t keep up with the word counts and I eventually got so far behind that I gave up. Life got in the way and I wasn’t prioritizing writing. The first year I did NaNoWriMo I found out about it like a week-ish before November 1st and decided to just jump in. I’m a pantser type writer so I thought I could just wing it. 

Based on year one, you cannot just wing it. You need some preparation. You need to have a little more than just an idea for a book to do NaNoWriMo. The first time around, that is all I had really, an idea.

Books are not just ideas. There are plot points and characters and development and all the things that make it up. It starts with an idea but that idea needs development. 

Which is why this year I am working on Preptober. Which is the month of October, prepping for NaNoWriMo. I’ve made a little word count tracker that I stuck in my notebook to help keep me on track with my progress. I’ve also been keeping up with NaNoWriMo and all their Preptober activities. There was even a quiz to help me figure out the best way to add writing time into my schedule and so far that has been my favorite thing. You can take that quiz here.

I’m also working on an outline so I actually know what I’m writing about instead of going off the last thing written. I have a huge problem with editing as I write instead of just working on the next part. I am hoping the outline will help me keep moving forward instead fixing what I already wrote. First drafts need to be first drafts and I need to let them suck and edit them later. 

I am so excited to start writing my next book with National Novel Writing Month. I might even be more excited about the results of the schedule quiz and implementing it. (The results were really helpful!)

Oh! If you want to snag my word count tracker, I’m gonna share it with you for FREE! Who doesn’t love free things?

(This PDF is for a 4×6 size tracker, it should print out in the middle of the page for cutting. If you want a full page version, reach out to me!)

Currently- September

General- If you follow me on Instagram, you might have heard about our little flood that happened when our washer machine broke and created a small lake throughout my downstairs. Well, the guy came and tore up the damaged flooring and baseboard and now the fans are gone and we are waiting to fond out if they are able to match our current laminate or what the deal is there. In the meantime, we replaced the damaged things and I wrote about how to make your house work for you. You can check out that post, along with how I used the small lake as an opportunity here.

We are undergoing schedule changes as hubby got a new job and for the time being, our schedules are very different than they used to be. We’re rolling with it though! I get a lot more time that is just me and Little Man so I have been working on creative ways to keep us both occupied and not outside. We are still rocking 90’s here and I cannot wait for cooler temps. 

Reading– I’m technically still reading Bookish Boyfriends. I actually haven’t picked it up in a while. I started reading The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter (again). I just really love this book and the entire series. I recently took a mythology in literature class and I spent a majority of that class referencing these books so it made me want to pick them back up. Maybe I’ll get back to Bookish Boyfriends one day. 

Listening– I actually went back and re-listened to Uninvited by Sophie Jordan. Gosh, I love that book! I just need to read the second one. I started listening to The Elite by Kiera Cass. I loved the Selection and since it is a series book, I promptly forgot that I had more books to read so I grabbed the audiobook from my library to listen to. I didn’t finish it in time but I struggled with the audiobook. I wonder if the performer can ruin a book for you. I think I might grab the book to just read it and see if the main character doesn’t annoy me as much. 

As for music, I went back to my high school glory days and started listening to all the bands I listened to in high school and now I don’t listen to the same 20 songs theses days, hahaha. I think I realized why my parents listened to the stuff they loved in high school well into adulthood. Music is constantly changing so when you find something you love, why are you going to try and keep up with the new stuff? (I don’t particularly LOVE the new stuff out there, some of it is good, but I get why my parents didn’t like the stuff I listened to.) 

Watching-We are COMMITTED to the show Younger. That show has me feeling all types of ways and I don’t know what to do with all the emotions. I might be slightly overreacting but oh well. Younger is what we are binge watching. But it is the end of September which means all the new seasons just started back up! So far we got the Masked Singer and I am waiting for some free time to catch up on the premier of Gray’s and Single Parents. 

Writing– I am currently working on a script for my screenwriting class that I am taking this term. Screenwriting is HARD, guys. Seriously, I didn’t realize how different screenwriting is from other types of writing. I am also writing blog posts and journaling a lot. I am working on a journaling challenge for October on Instagram! I decided I am going to do my book for NaNoWriMo this year so I’m just going to write an outline and then come November 1st, write it every day.

Other– There has been a lot of work going on with my Cricut and home stuff. It has been fun. Maybe I’ll post my projects on the blog so you can see all the stuff I work on. If you’re curious. 

What did you spend your September doing? I’d love to hear about it! 

Self-Publishing Journey: Part One

If you’ve been around this blog for any amount of time, you might know that I published a book back in May. It’s a journaling devotional designed to help you dig deeper with God though journaling. I self-published my book and today I’m going to be talking about that process. 

Before I even wrote my book, I knew I was going to self-publish. Maybe it’s because I’m such a DIY’er but I wanted the control that self-publishing allowed me to have. I enjoyed designing my cover and doing it myself. I even enjoyed the hours, weeks and months of research that went into learning how to self-publish. Choosing to self-publish gave me the ability to write the book I wanted to write, regardless of whether or not someone else thought there would be a market for it. Since I’ve published and all the explaining I’ve done about what a journaling devotional is, I’m guessing a publisher would have told me that the market for that didn’t exist. I don’t even know if it does now. I’ve sold my book though so somebody is interested. 

So how did I finally get there? How did I get to publish my book? Well, first, I researched all my options. I went to a workshop about self-publishing at a book festival I was at. That workshop was helpful and taught me a few things but it was mostly a self-publishing workshop to get you to use a certain company for your self-publishing needs. I don’t remember the company, although I almost wish I did because it would have been nice to have someone to help me when I hit a few bumps along the way. I had google though. One thing that really helped me was Jenna Moreci’s video on Createspace VS IngramSpark which you can find here. It’s worth noting that CreateSpace was Amazon’s publishing before it changed to KDP. 

After this video and reading all the articles I read, I decided I was going to use IngramSpark to publish my book. At least that was my plan. If my life were to have a motto though, it would be how the best of my plans still get messy or how they never go as planned. Launching my podcast would be a great example of this. I digress. 

I finally finished editing my book. I was doing the cover. I was ready to upload and set up my publish date because I had already announced it. I was talking about it for weeks and I had the perfect plan to publish on my birthday. So I’m uploading and using IngramSpark and doing all the right things, checking the boxes until I get to the part about ISBN numbers. Uhm. What is that? ISBN numbers is basically your book ID. It’s a number that is assigned to your book and when it is searched up, only your book pops up. IngramSpark didn’t give your book ISBN numbers and it doesn’t come as part of the plans they offer for publishing. You have to buy your own ISBN. Figuring out that process was relatively easily. A quick Google search told me everything I needed to know about how and where to grab myself an ISBN number. 

This is where all my plans got messy. ISBN numbers are not cheap. The US seller for ISBN numbers offer 1 at like $100+ dollars and the deal is getting 10 ISBN numbers (for future books) for like $100-ish dollars more than the price of one. Obviously the deal is in getting the 10 ISBN numbers. Well, since this was a sudden hiccup and something I wasn’t anticipating, I didn’t have the money to even buy one ISBN. It wasn’t budgeted. I didn’t want to push back my publish date though because I already made it public. 

That is when I switched to Amazon’s KDP. When publishing through Amazon, they give you what they call an ASIN, which is an Amazon identifier for your book to show that you published through Amazon. While this probably isn’t ideal for most people, I don’t like going back on something when I say it. Since I wanted my book available on Amazon anyway, I didn’t see an issue of just switching how I published it. Also, publishing through Amazon, I can edit and update my book however often I need to and it doesn’t cost me anything.

Now that I’ve officially published my book though Amazon, I haven’t had a negative experience with Amazon. Amazon’s KDP is very simple to understand. The reports are a little hard to understand sometimes but they are pushing out a new report system and I have been checking it out and I really like it. The only con I’ve found is that  getting my book in real places, outside of the online world, is harder. I’m learning the literary world isn’t a huge fan of Amazon publishing. However, when I have resources available to me. I’m going to use them. 

This is probably going to be part one of a two part series. The next part I’ll probably talk more about designing my cover and the funner parts of publishing. At least, what I consider funner. More fun. The more fun parts of publishing. Yeah, that sounds better. 

Overcoming Fear

Fear is such a fun thing. You’ve heard that saying, right? Wait, no. Nobody says that. There’s the kind of fear that is fun. Well, I think it’s fun. The fear you get when you’re about to go on a new ride that you’ve never been on before. The good, excited, nervous kind of fear. I actually love that feeling, it pushes me to keep going, to try the new thing, to jump on whatever and go for it.

On the other hand, there is the fear that makes you not do what you’re supposed to be doing, your calling, your passion. The thing that sings to your soul and makes your heart happy. The fear of failing that isn’t always easy to place. The fear that makes you question if you are even doing what you’re supposed to be doing. The fear that makes you compare to others in the same field. That kind of fear is the worst. It is full of constant disappointment and confusion. It’s also full of lies. That kind of fear, that makes you just sit on your couch is lying to you. Whatever thoughts that pop into your head about why you shouldn’t do the things you wish and want to do, are lies. 

For me, I think a part of me always wanted to write. I just didn’t know I COULD write. I loved writing but I didn’t know anything about making a career or developing my passion for it. As I’ve gotten older and started pursuing writing, I’ve developed plans and dreams. I’ve seen a calling come into picture. I have a vision. It’s a big dream and a big vision. Something I know only God can help me do. Even though I know that God will guide me and give me strength, I’m terrified. Fear will poke at my heart and say things that make me doubt everything. I doubt my writing ability. I doubt my calling. I just doubt.

However, fear isn’t something that is going go away. In fact, there is some fear that will push you forward. I think the fear that turns into doubt is what I need to work on combating better. Maybe you do too. Fear can be a good motivator, in a healthy way. Like the fear I feel before going on a new roller coaster. That fear that gets me excited. The fear that makes me step over the safety line and get into the ride. I would consider that a healthy fears, but a doctor might just tell me that my adrenaline is pumping that it isn’t really fear. Whatever it is, it makes me take that next step. When fear and doubt start to dance, absolutely nothing gets done. So how do you overcome it?

First, add whatever it is to your schedule. If it is writing, write. If you love to draw, draw. If you want to create cute little bows for boys and girls, do that. Just do it for fun. Do it for you. Don’t do it because it is supposed to be something big. If you take the world out of the equation, it doesn’t matter what the result is, you cannot fail. If my goal is to write four times a week, and I am writing what I want to write about, I cannot fail myself. I just have to do it. There is no room for doubt when I’m just doing something I want to do as long as I don’t add other people and their thoughts to the equation. 

Second, find someone who does what you want to do and ask them how they do it. You don’t need to copy them but the advice they have might help you implement something new into your schedule. I met a speaker once who started out doing Spoken Word, which is something I’ve always wanted to try to write. She gave me questions that she used to write her spoken word and it was huge inspiration for me. An author I met explained that he has a writing time every single morning, and he and his wife got to a coffee shop and write for their scheduled amount of time. (At least, I believe it was a coffee shop). Sometimes, it’s hard to write at home because there are so many distractions and things you could start doing and would need to get done. For example, I’ll go to write, notice the carpet needs to be vacuumed and next thing I know, it’s an hour later and I’ve cleaned half the house, cleaned out a closet and reorganized my bedroom. I cannot do this at the library or a coffee shop. It’s not my job to clean there. Plus, as an extrovert, being around people gives me energy. 

Last, call fear and doubt like it is. If you notice the negative, doubtful thoughts creeping in, tell it to go away. Say no thanks, I don’t need that in my life and keep trying. Move forward instead of allowing the doubt to define you. Fear and doubt don’t define you. Tell it to go away. Get into a practice of calling out the negative thoughts, just as they are, and combating them with something positive. For example: I’ll think, I’m an awful writer. What am I even doing?  Instead of allowing that thought to be a thing and allowing it to define me, I can choose to combat it with something truthful. I’ve had the third professor in as many terms tell me that my paper was the best paper they got for an assignment. Clearly, I have writing skills. (I know writing for essays and fiction are different, but basic skills are basic skills.) 

Oh, bonus! Talk to someone about them. Doubt feeds off isolation and darkness. Fear lives in that same boat. When I struggle with doubt and fear, I’ll go talk to my husband or my best friend and they’ll encourage me. They’ll remind me what I do what I do. They’ll both tell me truths that I need to hear. Sharing takes that fear out of the dark and the light makes it so much smaller. 

Traveling & Inspiration

I never understood people who said they needed to travel, as if it was oxygen. I also didn’t understand those who claimed wanderlust. My family never put a priority on traveling. We travelled for need. There was a family thing happening that we needed to be at so we went and that was that. For my 8th birthday, my present was to go to Illinois to visit my family and meet my cousin. That was cool but after that, I never really travelled again. Well, I did a trip for the Thespian club I was in. After that though, seriously, no traveling. My naive self didn’t realize how much fun it could be. I didn’t even care that we didn’t travel for our honeymoon. In fact, I was relieved when we decided to stay home, in Vegas, and do touristy things for our honeymoon. 

Within the past year, we’ve decided we rather do more fun things than have fun things. Like, TV’s are cool but have you been to Universal Studios? Have you been to a beach? The beach is a happy place for me. I can just sit in the sand all day with a journal and I’ll be good. Last summer, we took Little Man to the beach and had the best day ever. We bought an umbrella, had snacks and books and my journal and I did not want to leave. I didn’t even care that much about getting into the water. (I did for Little Man) but I was content just existing on the beach. I was content. I didn’t need anything else, just the view. After we got home the following day, it was all Little Man could talk about. He kept asking when we were going to go to the beach again. So, we decided that we were going to start traveling more, budget permitting. We decided that gifts could also be travel, holidays can be celebrated with travel. Plus, living 4 (ish) hours away from California and the things I want to do there makes life easier. 

One of the biggest tips in the writing world is that you need to be living life if you want to write. Your characters will have life on those pages and you need all the experiences you can give. Google helps but it doesn’t replace experiencing something for yourself. At least for me. I couldn’t write about a theme park and a character going to one without going through one myself. In Vegas we have the Adventuredome, which is a theme park but it is completely different than big theme parks like Disneyland and Universal Studios. Completely different and if I were to write a character based on my experiences at Adventuredome, it would probably be about walking around in a giant circle and occasionally going on rides. 

This summer only we have travelled more than in the 9 years we have been together. I am enjoying every single second of our travels and the extra special family time we get. I love seeing Little Man experience new things and get excited over rides and roller coasters. With all this travel, I’ve had ideas and story arcs that I wouldn’t have thought of at home because I don’t have the same scenery. I meet interesting people I can put into a character. It’s more for me to draw from. Every time we go somewhere new, we try to find something we cannot do back home and it is always exciting to look around for something fun to do. (Thank you travel blogs!)

It’s so nice to take a step away from normal, daily life and experience a new place with new people and new things. I will say Washington is totally different than Vegas. In all the best ways. Mainly the heat, I left 100+ temperatures, experienced beautiful 80’s and then came home in the middle of the night to 104. The weather alone made the trip amazing. We could do everything outside. Now that I’m home, I cannot do everything outside. However, I can look into doing new things here at home. I won’t be able to travel all the time. That doesn’t mean I cannot experience new things at home though. While traveling is amazing and I understand those people I mentioned earlier a little better, inspiration can be found in travel and seeing new places. Experiencing new things can also draw inspiration. You just gotta look around a little bit.