Monthly Archives: March 2018

Book Six: Or, Perhaps My Most Important Book to Date

Last night, I finished writing another book.

*panic flails*

*throws confetti*

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It’s my sixth ever completed book, which is mind blowing to me in its own right. It’s the second book in a quintet I plan on writing. And though this might seem like a silly claim, at this moment right now, I think it’s the most important book I’ve written to date.

Here’s why.

It’s the first draft I’ve actually been able to finish of a new book in over a year. I went on a crazy writing spree in 2016, writing three and a half books (finished the second and then the entire third book of a trilogy, a standalone and then the first book of this series). I killed it that year. Then, last year, I tried to rewrite the standalone, after realizing that the first attempt completely sucked, and then also attempted a brand new novel, shelving both of them after roughly 50 pages. I didn’t finish anything new last year. I was actually getting worried that I couldn’t, that I’d somehow lost the ability to complete a new novel.

So finishing this draft at 84,000 words and 165 pages?

Yeah, that felt damn good.

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Two, it was really neat to write the sequel to something again. After the trilogy, I haven’t tried to write another series, so that was really fun. It’s a very different experience, writing a sequel compared to writing the first book or a standalone. I’m not sure which I prefer, but it was really neat to continue Artemis’s story and see what challenges he had to deal with in this second story.

(Spoiler alert: he goes through some shit.)

Three, this book proved I could set a deadline and make it. My goal, on January 1st, was to have a finished first draft of a book by March 31st. As you can see, I hit that two days early. And that’s including the roadblocks life decided to throw at me, like getting hit with the super flu, so I had to push back my starting date by a little over two weeks, not starting to write anything until February 1st. Or random days where my writing routine got screwed up and I missed writing entirely. Or not hitting my word count goal for the day and falling behind early on.

Despite all of that, I was able to make both my word count goal and my deadline. And that included quite a few sessions where I was updating my word count in WriteTrack every 100 words and literally forcing myself to keep writing, to just make the minimum goal for that day. But also days where, two hours later, I’d update my word count and see that I blew past it by thousands of words.

But most importantly, I think, is the fact that this was the hardest book for me to write.

Because for the first time ever, I realized how shit it was while I was writing it.

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I think it’s reality check was bound to happen eventually. You see, the first trilogy I wrote? I thought it was great, after just the first draft. Even looking at the first drafts alone, I was just so dang stoked because this series was awesome and I couldn’t believe I wrote it. These books were gold.

Since then, I think I’ve grown up a little bit more. Or maybe that’s not even the right thing to call it; more like I’ve lost a little bit of my nativity and I’ve learned a lot more about what elements are required (usually) for a great book and a great story. And I’ve realized that, for me personally, as a writer? My first drafts usually are missing a lot of those elements. It’s through the editing process where I truly find the story and am able to craft it to the point where it’s finally something worth reading–and maybe, perhaps, worth falling in love with. That’s totally okay. I don’t mind the work I have to do, editing wise, to make these stories great.

It was just weird to write with that reality in mind for the first time.

I’m a little bummed, how many writing sessions I had where all I could think about, was how much I needed to change already; how I could already tell that what I was writing was probably going to get deleted, next round; how shit this book is, right now. That realization attempted to derail me, but I was stubborn. I had a goal and a deadline and I was fucking making it. So I kept writing and I pushed forward, updating an editing plan document alongside it as I went. And I finished the book.

The neatest part?

Even though there is still so much work to do with this book, every time I wrote this week, I was excited. I loved the ending and the way it came together, even though it was missing some key elements I know I’ll have to incorporate next time.

That’s why I think this book was so important. It proved that I can write another one, even if it is a sequel. It proved my ability to prioritize writing, to meet a deadline, to push past distractions, complications, hiccups, life. This book reminded me that first drafts, for me, are about finishing them, no matter how shit it is at the end or how aware I am about that fact. Because I have a finished draft. I have a finished book.

And it can only improve from here.

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I’ll be taking the weekend off to see family and friends over Easter and watch a little March Madness. Next week, I’m not sure what I’ll work on next. Will I launch straight into outlining a new standalone (hint: the book I shelved last year but I know I can salvage it)? Will I go back and try my hand at editing the first book of my trilogy, now that I’ve learned so much? Will I brainstorm something completely new?

I’m not sure yet.

All I know is that I want to work on and complete four different projects this year. I’ve already knocked the first one out of the park. April through June is my time for the next one.

I’m jazzed to see what it’ll turn out to be.

Cheers.

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Start The Day Off Right

I say this a lot, but the brain?

It’s such a strange thing.

My brain beats me up all of the time. It’s one of my worst enemies and it doesn’t stop, not even when it fights against itself.

Lemme give you an example.

I love sleep. I actually lost friendships over it, in college, because I’d choose to go to bed at midnight so I could get a solid eight hours instead of staying up until 2 or 3 in the morning, like some people in my friend group did, which pissed a few of them off (there was more than that, but that was one of the main issues). That hasn’t changed. Getting a good night’s sleep is important to me and helps me function. As such, I’m sure it’s not a surprise that my snooze button and I are really good friends.

I also enjoy working out. A lot. I love how it’s improved my life, my physical fitness, my appearance and how my mood is improved after every workout. With the way my schedule works–and the way my brain functions–if I plan to work out first thing in the morning, then I have a better chance of actually completing that workout. Because even though I enjoy it immensely, my brain will still try and talk me out of completing it if I try and get a few other things done first. So I always strive to workout as the first thing I do after I wake up.

You can see where this post is going, can’t you?

The issue I’ve been running into is that I hit my snooze button so often, my entire day ends up being thrown out of whack. My goal is to get up at 9am. Getting off work at midnight, getting home and then getting ready for bed, the goal is always to get to sleep by 1am. There you go, a solid eight hours. If I do that, then the rest of my day (usually) runs really smoothly. I have time to workout, shower and do my hair. Time to make dinner to take with me to work. Not to mention a couple spare hours to run errands, pick up the apartment or play video games before I gotta head into work. That’s the ideal goal and accomplishing that sets my day up to be really awesome.

Usa Network GIF by Psych

It makes me feel like this.

Yet recently, I’ve been falling more and more into the trap of not only hitting the snooze button once too many times, but also turning off my alarm completely, so I end up sleeping until 10:30am or even 11am.

Which then, in turns, throws everything off balance.

Suddenly, all the time I had becomes really short, as I have to rush to get a workout in and make dinner, let alone showering, eating lunch and anything else I want/need to accomplish before work. Usually, days like that result in a half-assed or rushed workout, a different meal than I planned to make (because the new, forced choice is the quicker option), not doing my hair and then having no time to play any video games, which is how I like to relax before work. Sometimes, it even results in a skipped workout.

This might not seem like a terribly big deal. I’m still getting to work on time and, as long as I don’t skip my workout, I’m still making progress on all of my goals.

Yet it really changes my mindset and how the day goes.

This morning, for example. I really wanted to make an effort of getting up on time. And I did. I was out of bed by 9:15am, working out by 9:30am. Hell, I was already starting to cook dinner, having worked out, showered, folded laundry and picked up the apartment, by 11am–a time that, two weeks prior, I was waking up and just starting my day with. I had time to shave and do my hair, pick out an outfit that made me feel cute. I played Fallout 4 for over two hours on a nice, rainy day. I got to work feeling refreshed, productive and ready to take on the day. Not tired, regretful or beating myself up for missing another workout or wishing I had more time to play on the PS4 that I haven’t touched in days because I’ve been sleeping too long.

I know there will still be days where I’ll hit the snooze button and sleep in way too late. There will still be days when laziness takes over and, because of that, the rest of the day, I feel sluggish. But I’m hoping–planning–to keep making a conscious effort to purposefully choose to make the most out of every day. And one of the best ways I know to do that is to start the day off right–and on time.

Cheers.


Quest for Discovery: Week Thirteen

Hello, friends!

Last week was wonderful.

It was spring break at the university, so I got to work 8am-5pm instead of my traditional evening shifts and I loved it. I got to make dinner with my boyfriend every night after car-pooling with him and his friends to work. I got to see both my family and his, which was awesome (it’d been too long on both sides). I kept up my writing routine and completely fell off the wagon for my workout routine, but all in all?

I really wish I could work 8am-5pm every day.Image result for elegant page break clip art

Writing 
Long-Term Goal: Write two new books and edit two books. Enter the query trenches.

Last Week’s Goal:  Write 6x. Continue meeting word count.

  • Status: Affirmative, Commander. I only wrote four times, thanks to some other things that came up, but I made up for the word count when I did write and it was just a really good writing week overall. Not only did I meet my word count, but I just felt excited about what I was writing about. Really, really excited about writing this week.

Weekly Goal: Write 6x. Potentially finish first draft?!

Reading
Long-Term Goal: Read every day, finishing up some old series and keeping up with new ones.

Last Week’s Goal: Read Heart on Fire.

  • Status: Affirmative, Commander. Gosh, this book is really good, so far. It’s been hard to stop reading it after each lunch break this week and I have a feeling that it won’t take too many more dinner breaks to see how Cait and Griffin’s story ends.

Weekly Goal: Finish Heart on Fire. Write review. Pick new book and go by library.

Fitness
Long-Term Goal: Continue living a healthy lifestyle and shaping a body I love and am proud of.

Last Week’s Goal: Workout during lunch breaks, if time (and weather) allows.

  • Status: Negative, Commander. I did go for a walk during one of my lunch breaks and it was amazing. But a few days were cold and rainy, which didn’t make it the best workout environment, yet I still could have tried a little harder to make that goal, last week. But perhaps it was a good break. Before last week, I’d wake up in the mornings, dreading having to get up and work out first thing. After not working out at all last week, I’m itching to wake up Monday morning and get back on the grind.

Weekly Goal: Workout 5x.

Financial
Long-Term Goal: Learn to have a healthy relationship with money and build my savings.

Weekly Goal: Pay bills for next month.

  • Status: Affirmative, Commander. 

Weekly Goal: Stay frugal, now that you’re caught up on birthday presents.

Spiritual
Long-Term Goal: Reconnect with God and grow personally to live more like Jesus.

Last Week’s Goal: Pray.

  • Status: Affirmative, Commander. Switched up the time of day that I usually pray, thanks to the advice of a friend and definitely prayed a lot more last week than I have in a while.

Weekly Goal: Pray.

Carpe Diem
Long-Term Goal: Find a reason to smile every day and something to get excited about weekly. 

Last Week’s Goal: Enjoy getting to work a regular schedule for once!

  • Status: Affirmative, Commander.

Weekly Goal: Get stoked about finally finishing this LOTR sleeve and continue enjoying March Madness.Image result for elegant page break clip artI’m most excited this week for writing and working out. Working out wise, I’m excited to get back into it, after taking practically a week off. I found myself missing it, which sorta surprised me, since I dread it half of the time when I’m getting up in the mornings (yet I love it after I’ve completed a good workout). Writing wise, if I really focus and buckle down, I could see myself finishing draft one of this novel this week, which would be…huge. Lots of chances to chase goals and conquer dreams, this week.

So let’s do it.

Cheers.


Phone Calls and Dinner Dates

This revelation might seem a little stupid, but to me, it just seems ingenious, so please bear with me as I share it with you.

As you’ve might have read on here before, I work a wonky schedule. As such, I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to a social life, since I’m always working when everyone else has off and vice versa. Not that I had much of a social life before, but of course I’ve decided I want more of one now that it’s more difficult.

*sigh*

Now that I play DnD regularly with my friends on Friday nights and have a very extroverted boyfriend who helps me get out of the house–not to mention I’m still really close with my family and would like to see them more often than not, there’s a lot of things and people to try and balance each weekend. Thanks to DnD, I really only have Saturdays as my weekend day to really do anything and…well, it makes it kinda rough, to see everyone I want to see and do everything I want to do on a regular basis. There’s a lot of saying no to one group in order to see another, which can be hard, sometimes. Until I get an 8am-5pm job, this issue isn’t really going to go away.

Which meant I had to get a little creative.

One way is through phone calls. I have a friend who lives across the country and we have phone dates around once a month to stay in touch, so I dunno why I didn’t think of this as a method to stay in touch with some of the friends who live closer to me, yet opposite work schedules make it difficult to catch up. I see my best friend once a week, thanks to DnD, but we usually dive into the campaign pretty quickly, so we don’t really have time to catch up. So, last week, she called me during her lunch break, which is roughly an hour before I have to go to work, as well, and we caught up. And that was pretty awesome. So we’re going to try and do that every Wednesday (or every other Wednesday), if our schedules allow.

Then, there’s my dinner break.

I came up with the idea of inviting the lovely boyfriend to snag me for my dinner break twice a month and either run out and grab a quick bite to eat together or I make enough food for the both of us to eat back in my cubicle. He’s a sweetheart and agreed to try this out with me, since I wanted to see him more often and us working completely opposite work schedules makes that hard to do, during the work week, which I don’t like, because I feel like we miss so much of the day-to-day stuff that we then assault one another with, story wise, Friday evenings. So it’d be nice to try to see one another more often, too. We haven’t gotten to try it, yet, but I’m excited to see how it goes next week!

Both of these solutions are simple things, phone calls and dinner dates. Yet I can’t help but get excited about both of them, whenever I realize they are things that are going to happen. Even though they’re simple changes and it doesn’t solve the issue of running out of time on the weekends or making plans for multiple weekends in a row before I have a free one, it still enables me to see/talk/catch-up-with some of my favorite people on a more regular basis than my schedule allows now. The only snag so far is that my family isn’t included in these sneaky tricks to stay in touch, but I’m putting in the effort to try and see them more often, too.

It’s not perfect and it’s not some genius solution, but it’s a step in making my socializing and work balance a little more manageable.

I’ll take that.

Cheers.


Quest for Discovery: Week Twelve

Hello, friends!

Last week wasn’t too bad at all. The weekend, particularly, was fantastic: went with the amazing boyfriend and friends to St. Louis, where we watched the Blues win (and my main man Pietrangelo scored twice), ate ice cream made with liquid nitrogen that was delicious, had a blast witnessing the St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans, enjoyed the madness that is March (busted brackets included) and just overall had a really lovely time escaping for the weekend. I’m really looking forward to more adventures like that.

Not a bad week meeting goals, either, I must say.
Image result for elegant page break clip art

Writing 
Long-Term Goal: Write two new books and edit two books. Enter the query trenches.

Last Week’s Goal:  Write 6x. Continue meeting word count.

  • Status: Affirmative, Commander. Almost at 70,000 words and the end is on the horizon, so close I can almost taste it…word count goal wise. Though I know I’m towards the end of the book, it feels like there is still a lot left to happen, based on my outline. But who knows, maybe I’ll write it quicker than I thought or it’ll all get summed up in 10,000 words, but my gut is telling me now that this book will be longer than 80,000 words for a first draft. We’ll see!

Weekly Goal: Write 6x. Continue meeting word count.

Reading
Long-Term Goal: Read every day, finishing up some old series and keeping up with new ones.

Last Week’s Goal:  Read Age of Myth. Write review. Go by library.

  • Status: Affirmative, Commander. I didn’t get the review written (but will write it this week!), since I finished the book late last week, before I went out of town, but it was a good read. I’m excited to continue the rest of the series. Already started reading another book that I’m just way too invested in (not looking forward to this trilogy ending in a mere 300 more pages, but I’m excited for it), so I’ll prolly fly through this one, too.

Weekly Goal: Read Heart on Fire.

Fitness
Long-Term Goal: Continue living a healthy lifestyle and shaping a body I love and am proud of.

Last Week’s Goal: Workout 5x, log food honestly and don’t eat like a fool on the weekend.

  • Status: Affirmative, Commander…sorta. I only worked out 3x last week and I didn’t think about going out of town as far as not eating so poorly on the weekends, but I’m still counting last week as a win, because I still worked out and ate pretty decently (including mixing up my usual dinner meals a little bit) amidst period week, which is always a challenge.

Weekly Goal: Workout during lunch breaks, if time (and weather) allows.

Financial
Long-Term Goal: Learn to have a healthy relationship with money and build my savings.

Weekly Goal: Stay frugal and start saving to move in August.

  • Status: Affirmative, Commander. 

Weekly Goal: Pay bills for next month.

Spiritual
Long-Term Goal: Reconnect with God and grow personally to live more like Jesus.

Last Week’s Goal: Pray.

  • Status: Negative, Commander. 

Weekly Goal: Pray.

Carpe Diem
Long-Term Goal: Find a reason to smile every day and something to get excited about weekly. 

Last Week’s Goal: Have a blast in St. Louis and enjoy the three day weekend. But also, find ways to enjoy every day of the work week, too (including celebrating my Mom’s birthday!).

  • Status: Affirmative, Commander. Like I mentioned above, St. Louis was a blast. I also really enjoyed my day off last week where I got to see my family and celebrate my Mom. It was wonderful and I wish we could get together like that more often.

Weekly Goal: Enjoy getting to work a regular schedule for once!Image result for elegant page break clip artThis week is Spring Break here on campus, which means that the library is down to limited hours, only open 8am-5pm, so I actually get to work days (*squee*). Though getting up early sucks and it makes working out really hard (for some reason, it feels like there is never enough time in the day when I work 8am-5pm, instead of my usual 3pm-12am), I do really enjoy this schedule; mostly because I actually get to see my boyfriend more than just on the weekends and we get to eat together, which is wonderful. Looking forward to celebrating my brother’s birthday this weekend with the fam and more March Madness (let’s go, ‘Hawks!), but on top of that, I’ll focus on writing and eating well, as well as trying to save as much money as I can.

Cheers.


A Very Important Shout-Out

Friends.

Today is a very important day.

It’s my Mom’s birthday!

happy birthday fun GIF by Ecard Mint

Those who you know me personally know how important this woman is to me and how close I am to my Mom. She’s practically one of my best friends. Hell, just last week, we went shopping together and spent one-on-one time together just because it’d been a while and we’d missed one another. I know some people think that’s weird, because who is friends with their Mom, especially that close?

Well, if your Mom was my Mom, you wouldn’t question it.

Ever.

Because this woman is just too incredible to do anything else otherwise.

Image may contain: 2 people, including Nicole Evans, people smiling, closeup

She is one of my greatest supports and one of the most important pillars in the foundation of who I am as a person–not to mention one of the greatest role models I have as the type of woman I want to be and who I continually strive to be more like. She is one of the bravest people I know, amongst both women and men. She has a wonderful, giving heart and the greatest work ethic you’ve ever seen. She’s fought for and earned everything she has in her life and she deserves so much more. She is a great support for our family and has made more sacrifices than anyone else should. She gives some of the greatest advice, is willing to listen to me and my long-winded stories and randomly texts me to, “Stop overthinking!” because she knows me so well.

Traveling to London together with her last year was one of my fondest memories together and I cannot wait for more adventures in the future. Just as I cannot wait to celebrate so many more years and holidays, but especially birthdays. And today, we’ll be celebrating by having the entire family together, eating a home-grilled meal and competing in Harry Potter trivia (while probably listening to the soundtrack, because let’s be honest).

So here’s to you, Mom! Thanks for being the inspiration I always need, the support I can always count on and the wonderful, caring, loving, challenging and awesome mother that I don’t deserve. Happy Birthday! I love you!

Cheers.


Just That Mental Game

I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this topic before, so I’ll try not to rant about it too much here. But, you know me: when I need to get something off my chest, half the time, if I don’t blog about it, then it ends up festering, and that’s not helpful or enjoyable for anyone involved.

I want to talk about losing weight.

Specifically, my journey to do that and how half the time, it’s a bigger mental game than anything else. And most of the time, it’s that mental game that is more detrimental or harder to deal with than any lifestyle change I’ve made since I started seriously pursuing this journey, a little over a year ago.

You see, I’ve lost 30 pounds out of my 40 pound goal. I knew the last ten pounds would be hard to lose, but they’ve been particularly troublesome, especially since I haven’t really gotten to work out much, thanks to the cold weather and the fact that I’m not to the point where I’ll work out, regardless of how cold it gets (and honestly, I’ll probably never get to that point). I’ve gain a little and lost it again, but mostly maintained. Which is a good thing, but I find myself getting frustrated that I haven’t really made any forward progress on losing those last ten pounds.

There are a couple of reasons for that, honestly.

One, I haven’t ran consistently since November, which is a huge aspect (and was the only element, for most of this) of my working out routine. I haven’t eaten less to make up for the calories I’m not burning, so it makes sense that I’m maintaining, instead of losing.

I also started doing some strength training, so even if I was stuck indoors, I wouldn’t just be sitting around and doing nothing. Not nearly as high in calorie burn as running, but after only doing that routine for a little over a month, I’ve felt my body change in the way it looks and is shaped. I’ve felt myself get stronger. So there’s a good chance that some of that weight I have now is muscle weight, instead of fat.

I also still have splurge days. Granted, I will admit I could do a better job at not going completely overboard, when those days come up (usually Saturdays, if not the entire weekend, when I don’t have a routine that I follow as much), but I do have those, because sometimes, I just want to eat a little extra and be a little lazy. And that’s totally okay, too, even if it slows down my progress a little bit.

All in all, I’m not doing too badly.

Yet I keep fixating on that number on the scale, how I still haven’t “truly” achieved my goal, since I haven’t hit the number I initially set out to hit.

You know and I know it.

That’s bullshit.

I may not have lost 40 pounds, but I have lost 30. My weight may fluctuate a little bit, but I have keep up a consistent workout routine and changed my eating habits to be healthier and more conducive to the lifestyle I want to live and the body I want to have. I have proved to myself that I can create this lifestyle and keep it up, even when I make mistakes or have to recover some lost ground when I slip up. I have developed a confidence and a self-love with my body that I’ve never had before.

I’d say I’ve achieved a damn lot, even if that number on the scale still isn’t exactly where I want it to be. Even if I have cheat days that sometimes go overboard, like last weekend. Even though my own brain tries to diminish my progress by pointing out what I haven’t yet achieved, thus also trying to derail my ability in attempting to achieve those lingering goals, before I make new ones.

I should be proud of all of that, instead of beating myself up for a bad eating day, a missed workout or that number on the scale. Because at the end of the day, I’m putting in the work, I’m creating a lifestyle I enjoy, I’m happy with who I am and I can look in the mirror without cringing.

And that’s pretty damn important, too.

Cheers.