March Update – 2017 Goals Check-In

March Update

Maybe it’s the weather, the last dregs of winter that hang on until you want to scream or spend your meager savings and fly somewhere tropical, but this time of year always makes me want to sit down and assess things in my life. What do I want to accomplish this year? Where do I want my blog to go? Am I making my brand work for me? What can I do to make my content better?

The results of all my brainstorming usually end up getting published in my annual Theme of The Year post in July, but it all starts spinning around in my head now – in March!

This year, I’m tossing around a few big ideas for the blog including consolidating (and possibly rebranding!) as well as tons of post ideas on a variety of topics. I can’t wait to share everything with you!

I’m also processing some very big news that I recently received: I got accepted into graduate school! I will now officially be attending Emerson College in Boston this Autumn to get my MA in Publishing and Writing! Of course, this means I have to figure out how to pay for it all, and where I’m going to live, afford textbooks, etc. I suddenly have a lot on my plate, but I’m not going to let it slow me down. I’m taking it all in baby steps: planning for school, working on my book(s), making this space the best it can be… there is a lot to get done before September, and I’m excited to dive in!

I’ll write a more in depth grad school/life update after I attend accepted graduate students day next month, but until then let’s take a look at how I’m doing with my goal tracking.

TOTY 24 Goals:
Write Every Day: 
The writer’s block is real, but I’ve been re-reading my favorite series from my childhood and it’s really jumpstarting my imagination again. Some of these are the books that inspired me to write The Everest Chronicles! It is also almost spring, and that always gives me the urge to write contemporary, so I’ll be diving back into a contemporary mystery series I started writing last year that I’ve tentatively titled The Catchachatchamunga Diaries (try saying that 10 times fast!)

Apply to Full-Time Jobs: I have a full-time babysitting gig, but with grad school expenses I may need a full-time salaried job in order to pay tuition and maybe get an apartment closer to campus.

Apply to Grad School: Complete! As you read in this month’s intro, I just got accepted to Emerson College! WOO HOO!!! I won’t find out any scholarship/fellowship information until later this week, but I am so incredibly excited to have been accepted into this program!

2017 Goals:
Stick to My Budget: This has really been more like building a budget and assessing how I spend, but so far it’s going better than I expected.

Pay Lots of Student Loans: My bank account is saddened by this, but it’s really not so bad.

Build Savings Account: I’m getting there! I know most of what I’ve saved is going to end up going towards a security deposit and/or tuition payments, but it’s comforting to see the money sitting in there right now, haha!

Spend Less Than $500 on Books This Year: I’ve managed to get all the books on my read/review list for the year and stay under $300, so I feel like I’m doing okay. I’ve also taken advantage of sales and sale sites to save money, which has been helpful. #FirstWorldProblems

Only Buy New Clothes Seasonally: I’m trying to come up with a list of what I might need to replace or add to my wardrobe for the spring/summer before I do my shopping either the end of this month or the beginning of next before everything is sold out. I hate that I have to do my summer shopping when it’s still snowing.

Get 8+ hours of sleep/Go to bed by 10 pm: It’s been more like six-seven hours with all the reading I’ve been doing, but not terrible.

Only Watch Three Movies/Five Episodes Per Week: With the season finale of BBC’s Victoria behind us (SO GOOD YOU GUYS), and having finished The Crown at the end of February, I have now moved on to Stranger Things. I can’t say it’s amazing yet, but that could be because I’m watching it alone and therefore have no one to theorize with. There’s also not a lot of explanation, and I’m doubting that anything is going to be resolved by season end (I’m only three episodes in out of eight total). Next, I’m planning to watch The Last Kingdom.

Finish Craft Projects: I am now more than halfway finished with all three of my projects. That’s as much as I can say. I’ve been reading a lot and neglecting everything else.

Post Regularly: Ha. As usual, I have big plans and then they never see the light of day. I’d be a great content planner for anyone except myself. I’m going to keep hacking away at this goal though because I think I’m starting to break through!

Keep Up With Book Reviews: If only I had Wi-Fi in my room. We’re getting a booster this month, but as it stands now I am writing to you from the kitchen island, which I’ve taken over for the day so I can write a few reviews and pay my taxes. Fun stuff. (update 3 days later: we moved the Wi-Fi box and now I have a download speed of 89 and upload speed of 13. For comparison, last week’s speed readings were 0.39 for downloads and 0.04 for uploads.) Everything is ridiculous.

Plan Monthly Post Schedules: Still not keeping to them, but at least I glance at them every now and then.

Read 50+ Books: I’m at 13 for the year so far, which is slightly ahead of schedule now. Yay! But I have two books to finish by the end of the month that I’m no longer excited about, so that stinks.

Get In Shape: I did get some running in two weeks ago when it got up to 70 F, but it’s been snowy and frigid since then. I’m trying to fit in some yoga and pilates to make for being cooped up.

Walk 40+ Miles Per Month: I walked over 50 miles last month! WOO HOO!

Finish Everest Draft: Not even close.

Write 20,000 Words Per Month: I wrote three sentences last week, and I’m hoping to write a good chunk today.

Run a 5K in under 30 Minutes: Too cold and snowy to run with a baby, so I can’t get anywhere near this goal yet.

March Goals:

Walk 40+ Miles: I’m close to 28 miles already and it’s the 20th. Not too bad considering I spent a whole weekend in bed sick.

Run 12 Miles: If it ever warms up outside, sure.

Learn Stretching Exercises: YouTube is a cool place.

Do Yoga 8 Times This Month: I debating whether or not to get a subscription to One0Eight.com. I love Yoga Girl and everything they’re doing at Island Yoga, but I’m not sure if it’s a financial thing I can do at the moment. It’s $14/month for yoga, meditation, and nutritional content.

Read 7+ Books: (* indicates finished)
*The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro
*Uprooted by Naomi Novik
*The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Fallout by Gwenda Bond
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
Pretty Happy by Kate Hudson

Write 4+ Book Reviews:
The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Fallout by Gwenda Bond
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Get more involved at church by going to an event: I attended a very nice dessert potluck at the beginning of the month, and there’s a group of us going to the Museum of Science. Yay for making friends!

Write 20,000 Words of Everest: This is meant to be the same 20,000 words discussed before, and yes, I am failing hard.

Find a Hair Salon: I have a lead on one that I need to check out, but I’m also going home to New Jersey because I need to make a visit to my Dermatologist, so I think I’m putting off the hair salon decision for anther month and just having my stylist back home do a touch up while I’m there.

DO NOT BUY BOOKS: This is a given.

 

 

So, those are my goals. What are some of your goals right now? Are you working for a promotion? Getting ready to graduate college or high school? Working towards a summer beach body? Join the discussion in the comments!

 

 

Until next time,

Amanda

 

NaNoWriMo Update #4 and Wrap-up – Week of November 22-30

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Source: Tumblr

This week. Oh boy. It was a fun one! and by fun I mean miserable and yet liberating all at the same time. Yes, that’s an odd sentiment for me to have about the end of NaNoWriMo 2016. Did I win? Nope. Did I get close? No way. Did I learn anything? TONS.

NaNoWriMo for me is not just about ‘winning’, it’s about practicing the discipline of writing. I wrote a solid 25,000 words this month, not to mention the book reviews I’ve caught up on writing in this week after I threw in the imaginary NaNo towel of defeat. So I didn’t hit 50,000 words. Last year I wrote a total of 4,500. This year I wrote more than 5x that. I call that a win in my book, and since it’s my life, my scorebook is the only book that matters, right? Right.

The week started off rough. I had driven home for the weekend for Thanksgiving, and I was spending the whole week there. Little did I realize how good I have it in Boston. My parents’ house is much darker than I remember it (60-year old houses don’t really have recess lighting), and since I was working at the dining room table, I wasn’t feeding the woodstove regularly, which meant I was basically always cold. Not ideal working conditions.

Beyond that, I finally had a breakthrough with the scene I was writing, but the cold and the dark sapped my energy, to the point where it was quite a struggle to hit the 25,000 word count mark. And that’s with my scrapped scene still included, by the way. Still, I can’t blame my failure purely on lack of warmth, light, or discipline. They all contributed in some way, but I was also missing something else. I was spending so much time writing that I hadn’t left myself any time for reading. My imagination thrives on reading. I had tried to cut out as much of my reading as possible because I didn’t want to distract or influence myself from or about my story in any way, but this led to one of my least favorite things in the world: a reading slump. Which quickly became a writing slump, and then the Thanksgiving holiday (and my entire family being home) enabled me to put off writing again and again until I was back in Boston, where I looked at my computer and felt, well, nothing.

There was no spark left. The reading slump (and very probably some hormones as well) had taken all my inspiration from me, and I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry. Instead, I admitted that I needed a vacation from writing (probably until January) because my family is super important to me, and the holidays are just too insane to get any reading done and still write.

I threw myself into finding things that inspire me all over again, but I also let myself cry. I cried watching the Gilmore Girls revival. I cried finishing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (review coming December 13th). I cried watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (twice. I saw it twice. review coming January 2017.) I cried reading The Boston Girl in a single day (review coming December 20th). Like I said, I needed to cry. Crying is extremely cathartic. And, now that I’m caught up on my reviews (I actually finished writing my last reviews for the year yesterday!), and I’m back on a regular reading schedule, I’m feeling much more myself, but I still haven’t found my spark. Hopefully, it will come back sometime in the next month or so, but if I have to put off working on The Everest Chronicles a little longer, I’m okay with that. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs with this book in the last 12 years. What harm is there in another few months?

So, no NaNoWriMo win for me, but I am 25,000 words closer to having a complete first draft! Woohoo! I’m pumped to see where my story ends up taking my characters. I have the main plot outlined, but the in between bits keep running off in new directions, and it’s exciting! If you want to know what I was up to during the last week, check out my notes below.

(Day) Day # – Goal/Actual Word count (Daily word count) (ahead/behind)

(Tuesday) Day 22 – 36666/24044 (250) (-12622)
Having been gone for a month, I made a point of driving over an hour to meet a friend for lunch and then head over to the bridal shop to visit my old coworkers. It was a slow day, and everyone who was there was pretty psyched to see me, so it was a very nice visit. 🙂
(Wednesday) Day 23 – 38333/ 25347 (1303) (-12986)
My sisters arrived home for the holiday Tuesday night, so Wednesday was dedicated to hanging out with them. I also had to drive my dad to the dealership because his truck was acting up. But I did find time in the afternoon to sit down and pound out some words. I’m beyond excited that I hit 25000! Those last 5000 words were the hardest part of the entire month for me, but I made it. I can’t say that I knew I was going to give up here, but I had had a pretty good feeling I was going to quit at 25k for the last few days. I just wouldn’t allow myself to give up before I got there.
(Thursday) Day 24 – 40000/ 25347 (0) (-14653)
Thanksgiving was amazing. On my dad’s side, the biggest family holidays are Thanksgiving and Memorial Day. Every other holiday you have no idea who;s going to show up, but on those two days just about everyone is there. This year, of the 38 of us, we were missing only six, and that includes the newlyweds, the one working in LA, and the group who went to Cali to visit the other side of their family.
(Friday) Day 25 – 41666/25347 (0) (-16319)
Black Friday at my house doesn’t mean shopping until you drop. It’s all about baking. We baked 33 dozen cookies in under six hours this year. We have six or seven different kinds of cookies that we’ve perfected recipes for over the years, though we’ve only made three kinds this year so far. While it’s just me and my mom and whatever friends I can recruit doing the baking now, it used to be my great-grandmother, my grandmother, my mother, my aunt, me, and my siblings. Baking day has always been my favorite. We also went to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Yay!
(Saturday) Day 26 – 43333/25347 (0) (-17986)
I spent the day leisurely driving back up to Boston, but I made a point of stopping to visit my friend from highschool who lives in Connecticut. She was my first ever best friend, and while we’ve been friends for TEN YEARS now, I still hardly ever get to see her. Hopefully, with my travellig back and forth from NJ to MA now, I’ll get to see her a lot more!
(Sunday) Day 27 – 45000/25347 (0) (-19653)
I think I spent the entire day watching Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Wait, yes. I did. It’s six hours long, and I needed to take breaks to breathe. I also found a church to go to in the area! Hooray!
(Monday) Day 28 – 46666/25347 (0) (-21319)
After crying through Gilmore Girls, I thought I couldn’t make my face look worse by finishing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I was wrong, but it was worth it!
(Tuesday) Day 29 – 48333/25347 (0) (-22986)
I may have the read The Boston Girl in one day, and it might need to be added to my list of favorite books of all time.
(Wednesday) Day 30 – 50000/25347 (0) (-24653)
I decided to take a rest day. I wrote this post, and did a lot of ‘End of NaNoWriMo Processing’. I accomplished a lot this year, and I am super proud of myself. Even though I didn’t win, I think I deserve a T-shirt and a mug. Also the theme this year for NaNoWriMo was/is pretty awesome.

I’m not giving up in any way, shape, or form, but I do need to do some work to get my spark back. Don’t worry, I’ve lost the spark many times before and it always returns. In the mean time, I’m looking forward to diving into my reading list for next year to try and get ahead on my reviews. That way, when inspiration does strike, I’ll be ready for it, and I’ll have time to devote to writing without getting too far behind on my reading. Here’s to another amazing year of being surrounded by and creating works of art with words.

Until Next Time,

~Amanda

NaNoWriMo Update #2 – Week of November 8-15

writin-edmund-narnia-1Source: Pinterest

Ok, so I’m separating the month into weeklong chunks rather than actually adhering to the conventional ‘week’, but who cares. This week was all about getting back to where I needed to be. Annnnd then the U.S. Presidential Election happened and I needed a minute. And then Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows was begging me to finish it. Also, the combination of those two was not pretty. I had actual nightmares where I went for a walk or a drive and ended up on a hill watching whatever town was below me being bombed. It was awful.

So, I’m not back to where I should be word count wise. In fact, I’m just about 5,000 words behind (mostly because I haven’t written yet today, but I’m about to as soon as I’m done here). We’re supposed to be hitting 25,000 today and I just crossed the 20,000 word count threshold yesterday. Still, I’ve gotten significantly farther than I did last year, so I’m not too mad about it all. However, I am going to keep this short and get right to it.

This week I finished that awful scene I was writing and moved on to the third character… where I’ve been ever since. Clearly, I’m eventually going to have to cut back huge chunks of this section since it’s already 9,500 words and will probably be closer to 13-14,000 by the time I hit the character change. I didn’t realize I had this much to say about this character, but somehow she suddenly became much more complex than I thought she was. Surprise, surprise. I think that’s my favorite part about NaNoWriMo so far, actually, just writing and seeing what happens to the characters. I don’t always know what they’re going to say or do before they do it. I just know that they have to get from point A to point B and a few people have specific things they need to do or say along the way, but a lot of it is just kind of happening, and that’s really exciting. Add this character’s complexity to the fact that she’s actually interacting with people (whereas the first two have barely spoken to anyone beyond themselves so far), and you can see how what was supposed to be a short chapter has ballooned into half of my current manuscript. Oops. Anyways, onward and upward!

And now let’s look at the notes I made this week along with my actual word counts:

(DAY) # – WORD COUNT GOAL / WORD COUNT ACTUAL (Daily Total) (+ Ahead/- Behind)

(Monday) End of Day 7 Total – 11666/9444 (2134) (-2222)
(Tuesday) Day 8 – 13333/11848 (2404) (-1485)
Not bad! Catching up! That makes two 2000 words days in a row!
(Wednesday) Day 9 – 15000/11856 (8) (-3144)
That’s right. I wrote 8 words. I think we can all understand that I was exhausted, etc. after staying up to watch the U.S. Presidential Election results. I shouldn’t have done it, but I couldn’t sleep.
(Thursday) Day 10 – 16666/12575 (719) (-4091)
I’m still exhausted, and I need to finish Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It’s haunting me and hanging over my head, and I just need to finish the last 500 pages because I can’t think about anything else. Also, my review of it is scheduled to go up in 2 weeks, so I kind of have to finish it. Also Also, I really want to finish it as well as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child before my copy of the screenplay of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them gets here next week. This problem has quickly spiraled out of control, as you can see. But I’m trying to write. I am.
(Friday) Day 11 – 18333/12575 (0) (-5758)
I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. #NotSorry
(Saturday) Day 12 – 20000/14619 (2044) (-5381)
Feeling supremely unmotivated.  I started Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and it’s thrown me for a loop. Trying to get off this ride and back on to my own, thank you very much, so I can write. Broke down and opened up my copy of 300 Writing Prompts to get the ideas flowing. That sent me off on a tangent of looking at baby names, which eventually led to my breaking down and watching a movie (Love, Rosie), which made me bawl my eyes out, but ultimately kicked me off the Harry Potter ride and allowed me to jump back into my writing and actually do some quality work.
(Sunday) Day 13 – 21666/17873 (3254) (-3793)
Attended a write in! Whoopie! Also my biggest writing day to date!
(Monday) Day 14 – 23333/20078 (2205) (-3255)
Finally broke 20,000! SO EXCITED!

NaNoWriMo Update #1 – Week of November 1-7

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Source: Pinterest

 

Here we are on Day 7 of National Novel Writing Month! It’s hard to believe the first week went by so quickly. So far, I’ve been doing pretty okay! I surpassed my total from last year on day three, and it’s been mostly full-steam ahead since then!

I have found some scenes are harder to write than others. I should probably also add that I have three main characters, and I’ll be switching POV between them. I had a hard scene to write for my first MC on Wednesday, but luckily I was able to power through it. Friday was tough. I hit the first POV change, and I realized that while I’ve always had a plot mapped out for this character, I had never gotten inside their head like I had for the other two MCs. Que ~PaNiC~. It was not a pretty sight. To top it off, they needed to argue with another character, who I also hadn’t developed as much as I thought. I wrote something, but it didn’t sit well with me, nor did it flow at all with the rest of what I had written, and I stewed over it all evening. Saturday and Sunday I was actually traveling, but I had planned to write where I was. This didn’t happen, not only because I was having too much fun, but also because every time I thought about my MC I cringed, because what I had written was so out of sync with everything. I stewed some more. I stewed the whole drive down to Connecticut and the whole drive back to Boston. I attempted to write Sunday night, but it resulted in staring at the screen with my brow furrowed, frustrated and blocked by what I saw. I needed to pull back. When I write, I have a habit of putting all the information out there, but for the sake of the reader, I really should only let a bit of information slip at a time. I’m building a character, not explaining to the reader why I think they’re complex or complicated. I have to remember to show, don’t tell, which for me is extremely difficult.

So today I started behind about 2690 words, and I still had my initial 1667 to write for the day on top of that. I’m also back on a schedule where I’m only writing while the baby is napping, so that limits my time greatly. On the bright side, knowing that I have to stop when he wakes up gives me a deadline, and I work great under pressure or ahead of a deadline. I just can’t enforce them on myself. So having a baby who is going to wake up anywhere from 30-120 minutes from when I start writing is actually a great motivator.

So far today I’ve written 2012 words, which means I only have 2463 left to write to get my average back to where it was. Ninety percent of what I wrote was a redo of what I did on Friday afternoon, that awful scene that desperately needed to be redone. Now that it’s fixed, I can continue on from there, so I should hit the second POV change either later today or early on tomorrow. The original scene was 1170 words, so while I’ll still be counting that towards my 50000 word total for the moment, I’ve decided to move it to the bottom of the document where it won’t bother me. I don’t see the point of deleting over 1000 words if it’s going to ultimately mean that I don’t hit 50000. I don’t anticipate this being a problem, and if I end up being able to cut it out before the month is over without ruining my word count, I will. We’ll just have to see how things go.

The word count goal for today is 11666, and I am currently sitting at 9203 with the unusable 1170. I’m hoping to write another 2000-3000 words today to at least hit 11666, and ideally to hit 12310, which would make a grand total of 5000 words for the day to make up for not writing at all over the weekend and still push me ahead to where I should be.

How is your writing going? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Let’s chat about it on Twitter! You can also add me as a writing buddy on the NaNoWriMo website. Happy writing!

 

Until Next Time,

~Amanda

 

Below you can find some notes I made about my writing totals so far this month.

DAY # – GOAL/ACTUAL (AHEAD/BEHIND) – NOTES

Day  1 – 1667/2005 (+338)
Day 2 – 3333/3403 (+70) – Had a really hard scene to write today 😦
Day 3 – 5000/5416 (+416)
Day 4 – 6666/7310 (+644) – Hit the first POV change! Success!
Day 5 – 8333/7310 (-1023) – Writer’s Block! Boooo… and traveling!
Day 6 – 10000/7310 (-2690) – Still travelling..
Day 7 – 11666/9203* (-2463*) – Back to writing during nap time. Catching up!

*Running total from today

NaNoWriMo Preparations/Introduction 2016

It’s nearly that time of year again! Today is Halloween, which is all well and great and spectacular in its own right. And while Halloween is one of my favorite holidays ever, the day after is even better. It’s my grandmother’s birthday, yes! She’s turning 80, and she’s pretty fantastic.

November first also marks the start of National Novel Writing Month! Every November, people challenge themselves to write 50,000 words towards a single writing project. For me, this means buckling down and pounding out a good chunk of my first full draft of the novel I’ve been working on since 7th grade. Yes, I’ve been stewing this idea for a full 12 years. It’s time, I’ve decided, to focus and write as much of it as I possibly can this month.

Every November, people challenge themselves to write 50,000 words towards a single writing project. For me, this means buckling down and pounding out a good chunk of my first full draft of the novel I’ve been working on since 7th grade. Yes, I’ve been stewing this idea for a full 12 years. It’s time, I’ve decided, to focus and write as much of it as I possibly can this month.

The daily writing goal is 1,667 words. Normally, this sounds incredibly intimidating to me. But Thursday night I had a dream that turned out to be more than 3,000 words of a completely new story that I scribbled down during the two hours my cousin was taking his nap, and after that, well, 1,667 doesn’t sound that bad.

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_participant

The story I’ll be writing this year is fantasy/adventure. It will probably end up being a Young Adult novel, but there’s a chance it could go either Middle Grade/Juvenile Fiction or Adult Fiction depending. Mostly likely it’s going to stick to YA.

A brief description of my story would be that a girl in contemporary America wanders into a portal that takes her to another world, where magic and mayhem ensue. Oh, and the whole planet is in the Middle Ages. Super vague, I know, but you get the general idea without me giving anything away.

So far, the majority of my ‘NaNo Prep’ as people have been calling it, has just been organizing all the millions of notes I have for this story. Part of this was made easier by the fact that I moved, so I had re-locate and consolidate into notebooks every scrap of paper I needed before I left New Jersey. This meant that when I arrived in Boston, I already had everything together at least, if not cleanly laid out.

Next, I reformated much of my character list so that I could organize people by place of origin as well as age, and made it easier to figure out who is contemporaries with who. Because when you create a new world, you inevitably end up creating an entire history for that world, and you end up with tens of millions of people. I’m not there yet. I’m only at ~150. But after 12 years, each of those people has a personality and a backstory that I really wish I had the time to tell. It’s an actual difficulty that I have, deciding who’s stories are important enough that they need to be shared with the world.

The hope is that by organizing all of my background information beforehand, I won’t get lost in making it up in the middle of the actual writing, as I did last year when I ended up stalled at close to 5,000 words because I disappeared into writing the history again.

Being that I live in Boston now, where there are actual people, as opposed to on my mountain in the middle of nowhere in New Jersey (which I love, but it’s not NaNoWriMo conducive), I can actually attend write-ins, where NaNoWriMo participants gather together and write in one place. We can bounce ideas off of each other, share snacks, and enjoy some company that understands what we’re up to (aka, commiserate).

Last year I participated in some of the virtual write-ins, but it’s extremely hard to watch the chat screen and listen to the host and actually get any real writing done.

Today was the Boston region’s NaNoWriMo kick-off party, hosted at the Cambridge Public Library. Around 60 of us were able to make it, and I really loved getting to meet everyone. We got goody bags and participated in a raffle, where I won one of this year’s NaNoWriMo posters! I’m pretty excited. We also had lots of snacks, chatted with fellow writers, and raised some money to go towards NaNoWriMo and the Young Writer’s Program, which you should definitely check out, especially if you’re a teacher!!

It was a great experience, and I can’t wait for the write-ins to start. While I can’t participate in the weekday write-ins for the most part because I’ll be working, I’m planning to attend the weekend sessions as much as possible.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Let me know in the comments, and feel free to add me as a writing buddy (LadyWoods13)! Just comment below before you send the request so I know you came from here! 🙂

Until next time,

Amanda

October Update – 2016 Goals Check-in

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This month felt like a solid decade.  I meant to write this post like I did the others, around the middle of the month, but I found I was just too emotional to do it justice. Packing for the move, finishing my last couple weeks at the bridal shop, prepping for NaNoWriMo, there was a lot more going on than I was ready for.

The month started out with me realizing that I actually was moving. I’d been discussing the idea with my aunt and uncle for so long that it seemed like it would never happen. Being a pro at packing because I’ve basically lived out of a suitcase for the last 10 months when I was staying with Big Red, I kept feeling like I was missing things, but for the most part I wasn’t. The only things I forgot in the move were soap, my razor, tape for my posters, my yoga mat, and my desk chair that didn’t fit in my car anyway. Otherwise, my entire life fit in my little blue Prius. It’s a weird feeling when you realize that your life can fit in your car. Very scary and yet freeing as well. I plan to go out and purchase a bookcase for my room since I brought about 25 books with me, plus all of my writing notebooks. I know. I brought books with me. But I only brought the ones I plan on reading before I visit my parents again since I really don’t have space here to store all of my books. It hurts, not having all of my books in one place. #BookishProblems

I attended homecoming at my alma mater, East Stroudsburg University in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, on the 15th. My friends Jordan, Connor, and I revived our radio show The SoundWave for the day, which was fantastic. Then we wandered around campus and grabbed a bite to eat downtown. It’s one of the best feelings, returning to a place that brought you so much joy and taught you so much about life. ESU and WESS 90.3 FM are a couple of those places for me.

Hanging out with my local friends one last time before I made the move was hard. I know I’ll see them during holidays and everything, but with everyone basically out of college now and working, it’s difficult to make time to see each other, especially during this time of year. I’m so thankful they were all able to take the time out of their busy schedules to see me before I moved.

The hardest part of making this move was leaving the bridal shop. The last 10 months there have taught me an extraordinary amount of things. My customer service skills have increased tenfold. My understanding of logistics and conversion rates, and sales in general, has improved astronomically. I now know the difference between the colors Guava, Punch, and Coral, Blush, Bellini, and Petal, Pool, Malibu, Spa, Oasis, and Capri, and Portobello, Mystic, Mercury, and Pewter, something I never thought would be relevant to my life, but now seems indispensable. The ladies I worked with showed me new points of view to just about every aspect of life, and I made some friends there that I will never find the likes of anywhere else. I truly hope I never lose touch with them. Working at that bridal shop has been one of the best choices I’ve ever made, and I will never, ever, regret it.

Still, making this move, I think, was the right choice too. I’ve always been one to explore new things and love new experiences, and so far I’m loving my new city. Boston feels pretty homey. My arrival here wasn’t full of hoopla or craziness. Walking the streets, even for the first time, feels like greeting an old friend I haven’t seen in years. Yesterday I overheard two girls talking about their new favorite word, ken, which comes from Gaelic and means to know. I’ve always liked that word, and I find that I like it when other people have really crazy intelligent conversations just walking down the street. Living near Harvard has its perks. I passed a group of stay-at-home-parents the other day, and two stay-at-home-dads at the back of the pack were discussing toxicology. How neat is that?

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Source: MemeGenerator

 

Let’s take a look at how I did on my goals. I’m sure it’s atrocious.

TOTY 24 Goals:
Write Every Day – This didn’t happen, again. But I’m getting better! I actually had a dream Thursday night that turned into 3,000 words of a new story, so there’s that. Unfortunately, I spent the majority of the month packing all my stuff and working, so I didn’t have a lot of  free time to locate my notebook and get some writing done. I did, however, do a lot of organizing of my background material for my novel. This will hopefully help me not get distracted when I attempt NaNoWriMo next month.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is a project that people sign up for, where the goal is to write 50,000 words of a story during the month of November. why November, nobody knows, especially since we have Thanksgiving in there and everything. It’s exhausting. I attempted it last year when Iw s taking a break from my main storyline and working on a spin-off, but I only got 4-5,000 words into it because I kept getting lost in my background information. This year I’m hoping to tackle a full draft of my main story, so it’s going to be an interesting ride!

Apply to Full Time Jobs – I think I’ve succeeded for the year with this one! As I mentioned before, I’ve moved to Boston, MA to nanny full time for my baby cousin. He turned 7 months old on Saturday! I’m beyond excited, and so far I’m enjoying myself. I’m only a week in, and while my muscles are tired and I’m actually really, really exhausted, I absolutely love it. And I’m getting more writing done than ever before because nap times are a wonderful thing. So, check getting a full time off the list for this year!

Apply to Grad School – I’m going to the graduate open house at Emerson this weekend! But I haven’t done any GRE prepping yet beyond buying a GRE prep book…

If I like the school on Saturday, I’ll start prepping on Monday. I know it’s going to be hard. Supposedly the math portion goes up through Calculus?? 😦  but I’ll survive. I do still have to look into where/when the test is being offered in/around Boston, and I’ll need to contact professors to ask for recommendation letters, but there’s no point in jumping the gun if I end up not liking the school, is there?

 

October Goals:
Read 7 books – Ha. Ha. Ha. With all the packing, I finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at the beginning of the month, attempted reading A Passage to Shambhala and gave up after 2 weeks and getting nowhere after 400 pages, and I just finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which I read this week during, you guessed it, nap time. So that brings the total up to two? and a half? maybe one and a half? It all depends on whether you count Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as this month or last month because of when I read the majority of it vs. when I finished it.

Exercise – Does walking 4 miles round trip to visit a bookstore yesterday count?  I hit 10,000 steps for the first time in ages. It seriously only used to happen when I went to NYC like once a year.

Write 5 posts – I wrote my moving info post on October 1st, and I haven’t posted since. Oops! Well, here is number two, and my NaNoWriMo prep post should be up tomorrow. So that makes three! Next month you’ll mostly be getting my weekly NaNo updates, as well as a post or two about exploring my new city, and of course the monthly update, so you can look forward to 6-8 posts next month at minimum because let’s be honest, I’m probably going to gush about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them when it hits theaters in two weeks as well.

Write 10,000 words – Well, if we count the dream I had that turned into ~3000 words of a new story, I wrote a total of 5,519 words this month. which isn’t bad, but it’s nothing close the the 50,000 that I’ve signed up to write next month as part of NaNoWriMo. And a lot of it went towards that new story, which doesn’t help me in the long run with working on my main novel.

Move to Boston – Now this, I succeeded at. I’m currently writing from my desk in my new room. It’s in the attic, so I think I’m going to call this place the Aerie. It feels fitting. My desk chair only arrived yesterday, so I’m very excited. I’m headed to Target tomorrow to buy a bulletin board. I thought I could live without one, but my desk is kind of small and I am in desperate need of space for NaNoWriMo notes, so to the store I go!

Write 14 book reviews – This one was heavily dependent on me reading all seven books on my TBR list, and since that included the last three big Harry Potter books, A Passage to Shambhala, and Moby Dick, I’m not really that surprised that I got nowhere near this goal. I have written 5 reviews so far, and I’m halfway through a sixth. I’m hoping to finish the sixth and complete another one tomorrow before the month ends, bringing my total up to seven. Also, in case you were wondering, Moby Dick has been tabled until further notice, because I can only have one massive and boring book in my TBR pile at a time, and A Passage to Shambhala has usurped that position.

November TBR:
Will Definitely Be Reading:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (the screenplay, which I have on pre-order)

Might Be Reading:
A Passage to Shambhala (~300 pages left to go!) – Jon Baird and Kevin Costner
Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
You Are A Badass – Jen Sincero
Thrive – Arianna Huffington
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo
Present Over Perfect – Shauna Niequist
Manage Your Day-To-Day – Jocelyn K. Glei

September Update – 2016 Goals Check-in

september-update-2016

 

It feels like it was yesterday that I was writing last month’s update. Boy, did that month fly by; I went up to Boston to babysit my cousin, I was in not one, but TWO of my best friends’ weddings and four more couples I love got married that month as well (I didn’t attend them all. I’m not that magical). It was a very long month. and yet, suddenly we’re halfway through September! I’ve been a literal zombie for the past week, recovery from my trips while trying to get back to work as usual. At least I haven’t gotten sick yet (fingers crossed that I won’t!).

This month isn’t too busy, but it is full of planning for the next year. So many exciting things are happening! I’ll tell you all about them soon, but first, let’s check in on my goals for the year.

TOTY 24 Goals:
Write Every Day – This is day three! I wrote a book review each of the last two days, and I’m hoping to write another two over the next couple days, while I finish this post and hopefully get some time in on my novel during my day off on Friday. I tried to write last week, but my brain was so dead that only nonsense came out of it. It was painful.

Apply to Full Time Jobs – I HAVE NEWS!!! My aunt and uncle and I have been discussing a potential opportunity for me for nearly a year now, but I didn’t want to rely on it because it always seemed like it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. They had a baby in March, and up until now, my uncle has been a SAHD (Stay-At-Home-Dad). He’s due to start a new job in November though, and that’s where I come in. I’ll be taking care of my cousin for them all day while they are at work. For all intents and purposes, I’m a live-in nanny. If that isn’t a dream job at some point in the life of someone who is maternally inclined, I don’t know what is.

If all of that wasn’t exciting enough, they live in Boston! Which means I’m MOVING there. Like, I get to live in this city that I’ve been mildly obsessed with for ages. Which brings me to Goal number three for the year –

Apply to Grad School – My top grad school at the moment is Emerson College and their Masters in Writing and Publishing program. Being that Emerson is in Boston, I’ll finally being going on a tour of campus and trying to meet some of the professors to determine if it’s definitely where I want to go.

Also, this Friday I’m sitting down to plan out my studying strategies for the GRE. Woop Woop!

September Goals:
This month I decided to let y’all in on a secret. I don’t just have yearly goals! I also make up a set of goals for the month, which filters into my daily to-do list(s). This month I want to:

Read 5 books – So far I’ve only finished two, but I’m nearly halfway through my third, so it’s looking good!

Study for the GRE – As I mentioned earlier, this starts on Friday!

Walk 5 miles, 4 times – I originally had this read “walk 5 miles, once a week”, but after the double weddings I was down for the count. Hopefully, I can walk one of my 5-mile stints on Friday!

Ab workout, 4 times – Another one that read once a week and has since been amended.

Write 3 posts for TCSB – This is the first! I’ll probably fill you guys in on more details about Boston, and I’m visiting a Renaissance Faire on the 24th that should be pretty interesting as well!

Write 4 book reviews – Two down and two to go! Wicked Charms by Janet Evanovich and The Escape by Mary Balogh are up on CSR now!

Write 10,000 words towards your novel(s) – That’s right, I’m writing a book (or is it ~SeRiEs~?). I’ve been writing it for over 10 years actually. Very few people have read any of it, and those who have, haven’t read it in so long that they probably wouldn’t recognize it today. For one, the characters started out as 11 or 13-year-olds, and they’ve since evolved into 20-somethings. Not like they aged in the book, more like as I aged I found it harder and harder to write young characters. The universe(s) the book(s) take place in has expanded exponentially, to the point where I keep trying to populate parts of it and ending up with literally hundreds of characters. And I love every one of them so much that they all have a background and purpose and a future… And you wondered why I’ve been working on this for 10+ years. My goal for the year (TOTY 24, not 2016) with writing every day is to get at least half of my rough draft of the first book finished. Hoping to dive into this some more this month.

 

I think that’s all for now ,you guys! I hope you enjoyed this update, and I can’t wait to share more with you about my move to Boston, and my grad school apps, and my adventures in writing!

 

Until Next Time,

Amanda