Saturday, August 12, 2017

3 Years of Totally Graced- IT'S PARTY TIME! Survey + Giveaway And More!


*massive eruption of confetti*

IT'S TOTALLY GRACED'S THIRD BLOGIVERSARY!!!!

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For some of you epic bloggers out there who have been a part of the blogosphere for seven or eight years, I know that this may not seem like a long time, but oh my goodness, I can't believe that I've been running this site for three years now. It blows my mind a bit. 

I started Totally Graced as a horribly awkward freshman back in 2014, and now I can't believe that I'm still blogging going into my senior year. Honestly no less awkward, let's be real. This has been my longest-lasting project, and I'm so thankful for everything that I've learned and gained through blogging. This little chunk of the internet has been a home for me, an escape from the craziness of life, and I'm so happy to have had it throughout all of the insanity that has been high school. 

I don't know what's in store for the next year of blogging. I do have quite a few post ideas brewing, and I'd also love to do more collaborations, so if you're interested in that, definitely shoot me an email sometime! Other than that, who knows? I'm just excited for the adventure. 

BUT ENOUGH SCARY FUTURE TALK! It's the blogiversary, so...TIME TO PARTY!

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Honestly, the most amazing part of blogging is the people. The blogging community is filled to the brim with so many incredible humans, and I love what a positive and uplifting space we've created. I wanted to thank some of the lovely girls who have been especially large parts of my life- they all have incredible blogs and are SO talented, so if you haven't yet, you NEED to check them out! 

Aaliyah- Where do I even start? My insta-consultant, my ranting partner, my person. Thank you for your constant advice and love and encouragement. Our conversations are my favorite, and I love you more than I can say. 

Abbie- My lovely fairy squad mother, the waffle queen. You are so upbeat, positive, and encouraging, and I am so thankful for you. You bring so much light and joy into the blogger world, and you inspire us all. 

Abby- It's actually freaky how similar we are- I truly think our only point of disagreement is breakfast food! I love ranting with you about theatre, characterization, and life. You are so smart and you always are filled to the brim with the best ideas. I am so thankful for you!!

Abby Rose- The queen of music recommendations, the writer who breaks my heart on the daily, and one of my oldest friends. I still remember our first few conversations- oh, how we've grown from the days of ranting over 39 Clues couples and coming up with epic theories (that I will never be convinced are false). You are amazing and I love you so much.

Aimee-YOU ARE JUST THE BEST HUMAN OKAY? I am forever proud of you and all of your incredible accomplishments and projects. You inspire me constantly, and you're also just one of the absolute sweetest people. I love being pen pals. <3 

Autumn- AUTUMN!! You are so full of happiness and encouragement and joy, talking to you is the best. Remember me when you're famous for your amazing baked goods, okay? 

Hannah- My sweet twin, oh, how thankful I am for you. You truly epitomize grace, and I cannot wait to hear about all of your Disney adventures, because YOU ARE SUCH A DISNEY PRINCESS! <3 Thank you for your constant advice and wisdom. You are such a blessing. 

JacyRayn- You are the embodiment of sunshine and I love our Jesus talks. Forever amazed by your gorgeous voice and heart of gold. <3

Kate- You are one of my biggest inspirations, and I love that I can also call you a friend. You are wise beyond your years and SO FREAKING TALENTED. You weave worlds with your words, and it is so beautiful. 

Mary Shelley- MY BEAUTIFUL SUNFLOWER!! You are one of the kindest, most lovely souls, and I am forever looking forward to our coffee date. You have a way with words unlike anyone I've ever known, and I can't wait to be first in line to buy your best-seller. 

Olivia- You were one of my very first blogging friends, and I will forever be so glad to have you in my life. I love how you can literally switch from making me laugh to encouraging me with Jesus in approximately .2 seconds, and just generally make my day like...every day. xD YOU ARE SO WONDERFUL I CANNOT HANDLE IT.

Rachel- You are genuinely one of the most creative, talented, driven people I have ever known. You make me laugh on the daily and you also make me think, which I love in a friendship. Keep being the fantastic human being that you are- you're gonna change the world.

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I feel like stats are a really fun way to see how you've grown over the years. So here are my stats from the last three!

First Blogiversary-
Pageviews- 8,046
Blogger Followers- 27

Email Followers- 0
Instagram- n/a
Pinterest- n/a
Twitter- n/a

Bloglovin'- n/a

Second Blogiversary-
Pageviews- 26,424
Blogger Followers- 65
Email Followers- 13
Instagram- 160
Pinterest- 37
Twitter- 60

Bloglovin'- n/a

Third Blogiversary-
Pageviews- 59,500
Blogger Followers- 132
Email Followers- 419 (pretty sure these have to be spam followers but hey)
Instagram-374
Pinterest- 110
Twitter- 365
Bloglovin'- 47


It's so fun to see the growth! It means so much to me that you all take time out of your day to read the crazy things that I put out here on the internet. Thank you all so, so much. 

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Every year, I like to do a survey to see what you all think of my blog and how it could be improved. If you could take five minutes to answer a few quick questions, it would mean a lot. ♥



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BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!


Last, but not least, in honor of three years of Totally Graced, I'm hosting a giveaway!! The giveaway includes-

-(1) Handmade bracelet
-(1) Watercolored bookmark
-(1) $10 Starbucks gift card

I may also throw in some other small surprises, but you are guaranteed to receive these three items if you win! Unfortunately, I do have to make this giveaway U.S. only. I'm so sorry to all of my international friends! I hope to have an international giveaway sometime in the future. ♥

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thank you all for a wonderful three years! Here's to many more. ♥

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Dream Blogger Party Tag!


For months, my wonderful friend Abby over at Ups and Downs hinted about a big project she had coming out on August 1st. I was counting the days until she finally revealed it- a tag combining the blogger world and the "real" world. In being a blogger, you develop friendships with people all over the country- and sometimes even the world. While it isn't exactly an easy task to go and visit a friend on the other side of the country, we can't help but dream of what it would be like to have a giant blogger party. And thus, this fantastic tag was born. After all- who doesn't love party planning?

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Name the venue!

The majority of my closest blogger friends live on the East Coast, with the exception of a few West Coasters, so we would probably just have to fly the few West Coasters out over here for the best chances of maximum attendance. I don't really have a specific place in mind, although I think that it would be really fun to rent one of those massive beach houses together. A blogger beach trip would be the definition of epic. Although at the same time, we would need to be somewhere with copious amounts of coffee shops and photo ops, so it might be best to go to a city- if we're staying in the south, Atlanta or Nashville would be good choices, or we could venture to one of the big cities up north, like New York City.

List three foods that need to be present

The obvious first choice is a breakfast bar. Waffles would obviously play a large role, along with pancakes as well, because we do love our pancake girls, even if we live in opposition on the topic of breakfast food. ;)

Pizza would also be a necessity. Many bloggers that I know are quite passionate about pizza, so it would definitely have to be on the menu.

Lastly, we would need coffee shop food. Yes, I'm stretching the "three foods" question, but this is important. If we're having a blogger party, we need copious amounts of coffee and tea, along with plenty of pastries and sandwiches. It's just a nonnegotiable.

Dance time! List five artists or bands for your party mix tape

-Ben Rector. Most bloggers that I know are big Ben Rector fans, so his music would definitely need to be involved.

-Twenty-One Pilots. Again, a common blogger favorite.

-Ed Sheeran. Because...Ed Sheeran.

-Epic soundtracks of every form.

-Aaliyah, Jacy Rayn, and Abbie. Let's be honest guys, WE'RE SURROUNDED BY FABULOUSLY TALENTED PEOPLE. I can just see Aaliyah and Jacy Rayn whipping out guitars and ukuleles, and Abbie sitting behind a piano, and the three of them leading us in the best indie-worship set of all time. It would be so fantastic.

What three activities would we mostly engage in?

I mean, obviously most of the time would be spent talking and freaking out over the fact that OH MY GOSH WE'RE ALL IN THE SAME ROOM. It would be the most exciting thing ever, and most of us would just be talking talking talking.

Photography would also be a large part of the event because..hello, we're bloggers. Everyone would be carrying their camera or phone, snapping photos CONSTANTLY. After the party was over, the rest of the blogosphere would probably hate us due to the overload of photos from the event, and we wouldn't even care.

I also think that would also be super fun to make mailboxes for everyone, and leave notes and such for each other throughout the event. Most bloggers that I know love all forms of stationary, notes, and snail mail, so I think that it would be really fun and sweet activity to have going on throughout the event. Plus, afterwards, everyone would have a box of memories to take home!

Describe a post collaborative you would do at the party.

Everyone would definitely be making mad plans to collaborate with everyone else. Everyone is so creative that I don't know what they'd come up with! Olivia and I have actually talked about this before, though (in our conversations dreaming about hanging out one day), so I know what she and I would be doing- The First Impression Project. Have you ever wondered what other people's first impression of you is? Olivia and I would be going around, talking to people, and then writing about them. It's really rather lovely.

What habits or interaction qualities would you notice?

At the beginning I'm sure it would be slightly awkward, because the majority of us are introverts and have never met before, but after the initial ice breaking, I think that it would be so much fun. Introverts would break out of their shells a bit, and we would all have the best time.

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because this is the cutest tag image ever

In typical tag fashion, I now have to tag people! So, I tag-


And, of course, YOU! I want to hear all about your dream blogger party!

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So, tell me, what would your dream blogger party be like? Are you going to take part in the tag? YOU TOTALLY SHOULD! Let's chat in the comments!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Andora's Folly Blog Tour!

Andora's Folly Cover 7.jpg


A Pandora's Box retelling


Andora is a beautiful young woman with insatiable curiosity. Raised in splendor, she is spoiled by her privileged life. When a love letter is slid under her door, her life takes a drastically unromantic turn. Nothing makes sense—her arranged marriage, the gifts her parents bestow on her wedding day, or her new husband’s temperament.

As Andora begins to unravel the mysteries around her, she ignites a chain of events that have the power to sabotage her entire village forever. Only her new-found wisdom as a desperate peasant's wife can save her from her folly.

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Some of you may recall that I beta read my friend Abi's first book, Martin Hospitality, last autumn. More recently, I had opportunity to beta read her latest novella, Andora's Folly. It's a phenomenal retelling of Pandora's Box, and I'm so excited to be taking part in her blog tour today! If you aren't already familiar with Abi, be sure to head over and check out her blog- it's full of lots of writerly fun!

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In my opinion, Abi's new novella is even stronger than her debut novel. Andora's Folly tells the tale of a wealthy young woman who is forced into the strangest arranged marriage of all time. As she struggles to adjust to her new life, she also has to unravel the strange nuances and questions that this situation has to offer.

Going into this novella, I was already intrigued by the premise. I was familiar with the story of Pandora's Box, so I was curious to see where Abi would take it. The story starts off with a really interesting prologue, which, (pro-tip) you definitely need to read, not just skim, haha. Speaking as someone who has a bad habit of not paying a ton of attention to prologues, trust me- this is a good one.

Abi keeps a beautiful balance of developing the characters and moving the plot along. You're left constantly wanting to know more about the characters and understand them better, while at the same time trying to keep up with the plot and wondering what is going to happen next. The mystery and intrigue draws you in and keeps you interested throughout the book. As in classic Abi style, there's also a killer romance that will leave you fangirling for days. It's just an overall fantastic book!

RATING- 4.5/5

I'm super proud of Abi and can't wait for you all to read this amazing book of hers! Order it on Amazon HERE today!!

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Are YOU excited to read Andora's Folly? 







Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The One Hundred Word Challenge

a while back, my good friend Rachel had a wonderful idea on her blog- write about a single memory in exactly one hundred words. no more, no less. as a writer, this forces you to be concise, to chop the excess, and to figure out how to give readers a peek into your brain in only one hundred words. for readers, this makes them think about what the author has chosen to share. why are these memories so important to them?

as humans, we tend to be more verbose than we need to be. i love how this challenge forces you to strip things down to the bare minimum. thanks, Rachel, for this lovely idea. 


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Driving to the city, the first day trip adventure in a while.

Shopping and cute bookstores before meeting up with the best friend. We look at weird clothes and spend at least thirty minutes in the Disney store.

Frantically trying to find that one dress in the time we had left.

Running to the theater, no time to get ready. Slipping into our seats and watching the show. Running into old friends afterwards, laughing about everything.

Late nights call for milkshakes. Stirring straws and talking talking talking.

Saying goodbye and parting ways. Few things are more fun than random adventures.

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I dare you- take a memory, and share it in exactly one hundred words. Then send me the link, because I'd love to read it. ♥


Saturday, July 29, 2017

|| THE BLOOD RACE || a blog tour kickoff party!!


If you've somehow missed me screaming about this for the past month, my friend Kate is publishing her first novel on August 1st. 

It's the first book in her YA sci-fi trilogy, and it's jam-packed with an action-filled plot, complex characters, and so much more. I was practically squealing while I was reading it, and when I finished, I was left in that classic stupor that only can be caused by finishing a good book. Trust me, guys, you're going to want to read this one.

I am so pumped to be kicking off the blog tour today alongside my dear friend and fairy squad mother, Abbie! Pop on over to her blog, as well as Kate's, for more blog tour kick-off fun. In the meantime, I'm so excited to review The Blood Race, and be sure to stick around for an interview with Kate at the end!

p.s. there may or may not also be a giveaway, if you happen to like free stuff. hint: free stuff is fun.you should stick around until the end of the post.

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As I mentioned above, The Blood Race is a fantastic YA sci-fi novel by the one and only K.A. Emmons. It tells the story of Ion and Hawk, and a world with "anomalies", different dimensions, shapeshifting, and a prophecy that will alter the world as we know it. It's an intense, gripping read that will leave you clamoring to know what's going to happen next.

I'm going to admit right off the bat that I'm not always a fan of sci-fi. It's just not a genre that I tend to connect with quite as easily. But I absolutely adored this book, and here's why- the characters were incredible. They were so complex and multi-faceted and flawed. You could see parts of yourself in each one of them. They weren't perfect, but that was what made you love them. They were real. You could feel Ion's confusion, and relate to Hawk's brokenness. Fin made you want to hug him and cry all at the same time, and Mel kept you guessing around every turn. They were characters that felt like they were standing right in front of you, like they're people in your own life. I loved them.

The plot had so many twists and turns that you never knew what was coming. At first I was a bit confused, trying to wrap my brain around what exactly was happening, but once it clicked, I was absolutely hooked. At several points in the story, I literally had to minimize my screen to the smallest space that I could, just to keep my eyes from accidentally skipping ahead, wanting to know what was going to happen next. The world building was really interesting, and I just loved learning the ins and outs of the dimension. The amount of time that I know Kate had to have spent weaving this world together is mind-blowing. So, so cool.

You hear people talk all the time about how much authors really pour themselves into their work. I could honestly see so much of Kate in The Blood Race, and it was beautiful. She is such a passionate human being, and that passion just shone through her writing. Gah, I loved it so much.

I could ramble about this book for ages, telling you about all of my favorite parts, my favorite lines, and my questions going into the next book. (KATE YOUR CLIFFHANGERS ARE EVIL) But if I went into all that, we'd be here all day, and I would definitely be delving into spoiler land, so I'll just say this- READ THIS BOOK. You won't regret it.

(And because obviously you're dying to read this book now....here's the Amazon links to the ebook and the paperback. You're welcome.)


RATING- ⭑⭑⭑

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While we're having our epic blog tour kickoff party here on the blog today, I thought that I would have the author herself stop by to answer a couple of questions about The Blood Race. Kate, take it away!

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1. What inspired you to write The Blood Race?


I typically get inspired to write a story in a super anticlimactic way. Usually the story just drops into my head and I start writing it down. Other times the title will come to me first, and then the story - as was the case with a contemporary novel I wrote not long ago.


With The Blood Race, the story idea just dawned on me and I knew I had to write it. In other words, it was nothing fancy. ;)


However, the concepts in the story are completely different beasts. I’m a stickler for this idea that we are powerful, gifted, beautiful people - each and every single one of us. We ALL have a superpower - we all have something that only we can give to the world. We all have unlimited potential inside of us, we were born with it. In fact, the only one who can limit us is the person we face in the mirror each day. This hugely inspired me.

2. How long was the process of writing this book?


It took about five months (ish) from the idea’s inception to the finished draft. It was honestly such a fun project that I totally lost track of time. I basically just wrote all summer and probably drank way too much coffee while I did that.


3. I know that you've said that you've been writing for quite a long time. How long did it take you to realize that this would be the book you would want to publish?

Good question. Basically… I thought “this one’s really cool… I should publish it.”

I’ve written five novels (nearly six, since I am almost finished with the second novel in TBR series) and I’ve wanted to publish since the first manuscript I finished. But life happens and things get hectic and blah, blah, blah (you all know how that goes)... and then time goes by, and you kind of have to decide which foot you want to put forward first. I picked this foot on a gut feeling. I have another book that’s kinda similar but way different that I was beginning to march through the publishing process with, but then decided I wanted to go with TBR first and foremost. Looking back, I think this was the right decision. But I’m looking forward to this novel being the first of many releases. I have a few others up my sleeve.


4. Who was your favorite character to write about?

You’re seriously going to make me choose?! Oh man. Things are about to get real, haha. I think I enjoyed Hawk and Ion in equal measure, and they’re definitely two of my favorite characters to write from. They balance each other out really well, they’re both mixed bags; they both have insane abilities, but they each wrestle hardcore with their respective demons and insecurities. I could really relate with Hawk; her fighter personality with a secret, deep-down cinnamon roll center. And Ion with his craving to know who he really is and be who he was created to be. I feel like, as young adults, this is stuff we struggle with every day. We may not be training to save the world in a secret dimension - but isn’t changing this world, and discovering who we really are on our agenda? Heck yeah.


(Fun fact I pretty much pictured Hawk as Kate the entire time I was reading xD)


5. What would you say is the main theme of The Blood Race?


You have a warrior hidden inside of you - the truest, purest, most beautiful version of YOU, not somebody else, but YOU. And that you is powerful.


6. What was the hardest part of writing this book?


Definitely some of the technical aspects, like meetings and explaining the sciencey bits. I never want to write “slower” parts of the book “slower”, if that makes sense. I want the slower parts, the technical, the nuts-and-bolts stuff, to be just as exciting as one of the thrilling scenes. So sometimes I’m the one who needs to slow down, stand back, and wait for some fresh perspective so I can really bring it.


7. Finally, the most important question of all....how much is this series going to break our hearts??


*silence followed by evil laughter*


Kidding, kidding. Sorta. ;)

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When she’s not hermiting away in her colorfully-painted home office writing her next science fiction, passionate story-teller and adventurer Kate Emmons is probably on the road for a surf or hiking trip, listening to vinyls, or going for a power run.

Emmons’ debut novel The Blood Race is the first book in her YA science fiction/fantasy thriller series.

The novel follows main character Ion, a troubled teen with unusual powers which he struggles to keep concealed. Through a series of strange occurrences, and a run-in with Hawk, the beautiful, mysterious, yet savage girl next door, Ion involuntarily stumbles headlong into an extra dimension—a secret reality that’s been hidden since the beginning of time; one that was made especially to protect and train teenagers with the abilities he possesses—”anomalies”. A secret place of intense training, hidden from humanity and created to defeat a rising darkness which a prophecy declares could swallow future earth.

Emmons lives in the often-snowy hills of rugged Vermont with her husband and dog named Rocket.




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DON'T LEAVE YET!!! Enter to win a free ebook copy of The Blood Race! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Are you as excited for this book as I am?! Get ready- the blogosphere is about to explode with The Blood Race. It's going to be fantastic. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sixteen Going on Seventeen


some thoughts from the days leading up to my seventeenth birthday

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three more days.

in three days, i'm seventeen.

it's a weird thing to think about. i still remember last summer so vividly. i was super wrapped up in planning the blog's two year anniversary. i was excited to turn sixteen and spent ages attempting to figure out a party only to realize that i really hate parties and do absolutely nothing, haha, which was what i preferred. and on my birthday i curled my hair and got balloons and we ate cheesecake and my grandmother gave me roses and it was all wonderful.

the past year has been a whirlwind. i didn't know what to expect going into it, but it far surpassed anything i'd hoped. i spent seven months becoming a character, a dream role that i hadn't known existed. i had more spontaneous adventures than i think i've ever had, and was pushed out of my comfort zone more times than i could count. my prevailing word of sixteen would have to just be gratitude. i am so, so, so thankful for this year, in more ways than i can possibly express. i could spend days filling up pages with all of the blessings and memories from this year, and i think that that's one of the best things to be able to say when you're stepping away from a year. every year has different kinds of growth, but the years where you can say that joy was a prevailing emotion are the years you remember.

seventeen scares me a little. it's the last year before becoming a legal adult. it's my last year of high school. this time next year i'll be getting ready for college. that doesn't even feel real yet. there are so many exciting things that come with finishing high school, but at the same time it's such a bittersweet thing.

but that's a topic for another day.

i feel like with every year that passes, i become a little more like alexander hamilton, feeling like i need to do all the things, to write like i'm running out of time. and maybe that's a super morbid way to look at life, because after all, i'm only going to be seventeen, right? but nothing is guaranteed, so that little bit of hamilton in me gets the slightest bit more anxious with every passing year. there are so many things to do, and time passes so quickly.

maybe i just put too much pressure on myself when birthdays roll around. after all, they're just another day, another way to mark time. but they're milestones. and i want to be able to say that i've done something with the seventeen years that i've been here.

so i plan and i work and i try, in the hopes of doing something that matters.

i don't know what to expect from this next year. right now...it's not looking to be the best year. but i know that that's a terrible way to go into things, so i'm attempting to have a bit more of a positive outlook. i've never been the best at positivity.

so here i am. sixteen going on seventeen, unsure of what to think of anything right now. but i do know a few things.

1. God is always good.

2. stories are forever my love.

3. it's just another year. it's going to be okay.

here's to you, seventeen. 


Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Writing Process

source

Writing. The subject that I never seem to tire of, no matter how much it consumes my life. 

 I don't often take part in tags or link-ups, but creativity seems to be running a bit low lately, so when I saw this tag on Jeneca's blog, I decided that I just had to join in. I haven't talked a ton about writing lately, so I thought this would be fun! The questions originated on the Beautiful People link-up, hosted by Cait from Paper Fury and Sky of Further Up and Further

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Honestly, I just go with whatever story I have the clearest vision of, and work on developing it. I'm not one of those people who constantly has hundreds of story ideas, so when I do have an idea, I go for it full-out. My current WIP has been in the works for over two years. It's so crazy that the end is in sight!


Well, I've never COMPLETELY finished a novel- as in written it, edited it, second drafted, etc. The first draft of my novel took a little over a year, but that was because it was a bit of a start and stop process. If I were working on it solidly, like I did during NaNo, I think I could finish a first draft in two/two and a half months.


The best way for me to get in the writing mood is really just to make a habit of it. I've found that when I write every single day, I'm much more motivated to continue doing so, whereas when I slack on it, I'm more likely to continue slacking on it. Otherwise, I don't really have much of a routine. I just hide out with the door closed and write!


I used to always say that I wrote best at night. However, during NaNo, I found that I got a lot of my best writing done either mid-morning (around eleven) or right after lunch.


I really don't know. I feel like everyone has their own style, so I don't know of an author whose style is similar to mine. Everyone has a different voice.


I started writing sheerly because I enjoyed it. I've always been obsessed with stories, and so I wanted to write them. Since then, my obsession with stories has only grown, and now I write because I can't imagine a life in which I don't write. It's one thing that I always come back to, a love that I'm sure of.


Besides hundreds of terrible essays for English classes? I've written lots of difficult things in the non-fiction sense, but as far as my stories, I think that the hardest thing to write is always the first chapter of a novel. In my opinion, they're always the absolute worst- just thinking about them makes me cringe, haha. If we're talking the hardest thing to write emotionally, there were several scenes in my current novel that were very hard to write, and when I was done I felt completely drained. I tend to get so engrossed in my characters that I feel as though I'm going through everything that they do, which can be exhausting.


I have several novel ideas that I'd like to develop fully in the future, but I'm not at a point currently where I can do that. I don't want to do anything else until I've done everything that I can on my current novel, so this is where I'm staying for a while.


My main goal was to finish the first draft of my novel, which I did. I've now set three more goals-

-Edit my first novel
-Send it out to a few trusted people for opinions
-Start plotting the sequel. That's right, this baby has a sequel. I'm pumped.

Detailed, Quiet, Crazy ;)

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How is the writing world going for you? What projects are you currently working on? Tell me all about them in the comments!