Saturday, January 30, 2016

January | Make Way for Crazy

Happy weekend, Wordlings! 

How's 2016 going for you? Did you start off the year well? Is it still going well?

I know for me, I'm pretty behind on my goals but at least they're still moving forward. I've never edited a full length novel before so this is new territory for me. Since I'm learning a lot though, I'd definitely say that the month has still been productive. After all, when is learning not productive? ;) 

Onwards to the summary! 

Previously, In the Month of January.... 

1) I made good headway in editing the first draft of my novel, "Living City". However, I didn't finish the first read through like I had planned. I procrastinated during the first week and had assignments in the third and fourth week of the month; which lead me to only editing 15 out of 44 chapters. *dramatic sigh*

In my defence, I underestimated the work needed to be done on the first draft. Never do that, my little wordlings! First drafts need lots of attention! They're like small children: messing up a lot and needing your guidance to reach their full potential.

Despite the lack of advancement on my Alpha edits, I have high hopes to finish them in the next month (or by the middle of March at the absolute latest). Now that I know what to expect, I feel as though I can do better in the coming months.

Thank you, Haymitch! It's so kind you to say so. 

2) School started up again so I'm now in my second semester of University. Woot! My classes this term are an English literature analysis course, world history form the 1500s to present day (the plot bunnies have taken over this course!), and another Spanish class!

3) I've signed my first contract ever! As of this month, I'm a signed author (I goggled the definition to make sure it included writing articles). This calls for a celebration! *pops cork on sparkling pomegranate juice*

Nerd Stuff

1) I finished watching up to the end of season 4 of "Once Upon a Time" on Netflix. Oh my goodness that finale much emotion! I can hardly wait for season 5 to be released! If you haven't seen the series, you gotta give it a shot. It's really good! From a writing standpoint, I've learned a lot about creating villains and backstories by watching that show. From a fan's perspective? Well...

This gif says it all. 

2) I went on a spontaneous book haul at the bookstore...twice. There was literally no reason for me to buy books other than the fact that I had money and happened to be in the store. But let's be honest here. You never need an excuse to buy new books! (especially when one of them is a leather bound book of Emily Dickinson's poetry)

3) Noragami Aragoto wrapped up this month. My friend, Kendall and I fangirled throughout the entire season and now have our fingers crossed that the third season comes out soon. I might have to just read the manga though XD The anticipation is killing me!

In the Meantime, we started watching and have nearly finished Akame ga Kill. It's a little weird: hilarious at times, eyebrow raising at others. I wouldn't recommend it but I feel the need to finish it now XD

4) I read "The Sword of Summer" and really, enjoyed it! I hoped to have a review up this month but that will have to wait until February. I'll have it up soon though, I promise.

Coming Soon to the Month of February...

1) February will be a crazy month for me! But crazy is my middle name, isn't it?

Shhh, it's actually Taylor. (But Cassia Crazy Schaar sounds better)

The month will be pretty normal for the first ten days so I hope to get lots of writing and editing done in that time. If I'm at least three quarters of the way through my preliminary edits, I'll be elated.

Alright. Here we go!

2) As far as writing new stuff goes, I'll be working on Crec as much as I can. My word count goals will be seriously scaled back though—not to mention flexible. By the end of the month I hope to have Act 1 complete (for real this time) but it's not a priority with midterms and the next few items on my list *points down*. 

3) On the 11th, a close friend of mine, Tori, will be flying from Georgia to stay with me for a few weeks. I'm beyond excited to see her! We'll have so many adventures and do a lot of writing together :)

Tori's in the centre. We'll get more picture this year ^.^

4)  The day after Tori leaves, I'm catching a plane bound for Florida where I'll be attending the Florida Christian Writer's Conference. There, I'm meeting with editors, agents and authors in hopes to get picked up or at least have some interest in my work :)

Also, I'll get to see my mentor, Bethany Jett :D I've been messaging her in the last few days. We're both counting down the days ^_^

Future Nerd Stuff

1) When Tori comes up, I'll be watching "Spirited Away" and "Guilty Crown" as well as re-watching "Your Lie in April" and "5 Centimetres Per Second". We're sharing our favourite animes and Japanese movies with each other ;)

Your Lie In April is the most beautiful anime I've ever seen.

2) Another film we'll be watching is "The 5th Wave". To be honest, I really didn't care for the book but I have a feeling it at least has potential to make a good movie. I'll let you know when I find out. 

3) My reading this month will consist of "The Gracekeepers" by Kristy Logan and if I get around to it, I'll read "The Giver" again. It's gonna be a busy month though so I'm not sure how much time I'll have for reading. There's always the plane ride though ;)

Can we just pause and take a moment to admire this beautiful cover?

So that's my month! Next month will be nuts but in the best way possible. I can't wait to tell you all about it!

What were some of the highlights from your month? Have any goals for next month?

Keep up the awesomeness, Wordlings! 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

How to Balance School, a Job, and All Your Writing Endeavours

So I think I might be a little insane. I mean, not actually insane but when I take a look at my two packed day planers and scribbled in calendar on my wall, I have to question my sanity at least a little bit.

On occasion, I'll observe my somehow coordinated life and wonder how on earth I'm able to pour my heart and soul into a novel all while maintaining a part-time job and keeping decent grades as a full-time student in university. Oh and did I mention that I actually have a social life too?

Yes, Loki. It most certainly is. 

I know I'm not the only student writer out there. In the Go Teen Writer's Community Facebook group that I've been a part of for about five years now, I'll occasionally come across a few questions that go something like this:

Any tips for writing while in school? I just feel like I don't have a lot of time anymore.

Last year, I was one of those people. I used to feel like a fish flopping on the beach whenever I even thought of writing during the week of an exam—and there's always an exam (or a paper).

However, after a lot of trial and error, I think I have it figured out and I want to share what I've learned with all of you.

So shall we get on with it? I think we shall. Onwards!

Figure out what's most important in your life

Obviously, we can't do everything. Overcommitting is a big no-no when it comes to writing because often times, it's writing that's pushed aside when a schedule gets too full. 

For me, I decided that writing and school were my priorities. I love my job but I chose to only work sixteen hours a week. When that still didn't give me enough time for me to write, I cut back on my classes. Many full-time students are taking five courses a semester—I'm taking three. Not only that but I crammed all of them into three days leaving Tuesdays and Thursdays open for my shifts at the bookstore, housework and writing. 

Around midterms and finals, my focus shifts and I cut my word count goals in half. While I still try to write, it's not as high of a priority. 

By figuring out what's important in your life, you'll be able to determine where writing can fit in and around all of life's crazy storms. You'll also be able to see if writing is really important enough to you to cut back in other areas of your life. If it's not, that's okay! Write when you can and don't stress over it :)

Set Goals

Goals are a form of accountability. Meeting goals can also be an excuse to buy yourself new books ;)

Will your goal be daily, weekly or monthly? For me, I need weekly goals. Monthly ones don't have enough pressure whereas daily goals have too much. Do whatever works best for you and more importantly, follow through!

My colourful goal calendar for the month of January. It tracks the days that I'm in class (pinky-red) and the days that I work (blue) so that I can make reasonable goals. My school deadlines are in my day planner but I look at those too. 

Have Writing Buddies

For me, having a writing buddy makes my writing goals seem a lot less daunting. If setting goals on your own doesn't work, grab a writing buddy. They'll keep you on track! 

Writing buddies can also help out with character development and/or plot when you get stuck which will eliminate the dreaded writer's block. 

Another bonus is that you have a word warring partner! Word warring is seriously the most amazing thing for getting in a lot of words and upping your word count. If you haven't tried it, you must! 

Planning is mucho importante

I'm not a planner. Some people have planning in their blood. It's part of their genetics to keep their life organized. Lists and charts and day-planners are a part of their identity. If that's you, this will make sense to you.

But that's not me—maybe that's not you either. 

Despite not being a planner, I still force myself to stay freakishly organized. Between two planners and a calendar, I keep track of all my school, writing and contract deadlines, appointments, shifts at the bookstore and word count goals.

Some of my planning supplies. My weapons of choice ;) 

While you don't necessarily need to have planners or calendars, even sticking some things into your phone will be helpful. That's how I started out, at least.

If you want to get anywhere with writing, you need to make time for it; that means you need to know what you're doing in the rest of your day so that you can figure out when you can write. For me, that sometimes will mean waking up a little bit earlier to get in 500 words before catching the bus. Other times, I'll write 100 words while waiting for my professors to show up. It all depends on how the rest of the day looks.

Give yourself some room to breath

Attending school, holding a job and trying to get a novel published is a stressful combination. Your picture of giving yourself room to breath may be a little different than mine but regardless, it's important to find something that can offer you sanity. Here's a few ideas: 

1) Read a few chapters in a book. Escaping to another world where you don't have to do homework is refreshing!

2) Write 250 words before you study. This will prevent the thought of still needing to write from looming over your head. 

3) Go for coffee (or tea). Or treat yourself to anything before you plough into your workload. Coffee and tea fix everything ;)

4) Have a friend over while you work. For me, I just like being in the company of people. It makes me work more efficiently and also makes me happier to do what I have to do.  

5) Watch an episode on Netflix. Just one ;) Or you can use episodes as rewards for meeting checkpoints you set for yourself. 

6) Take a day off. If it's looking like you just can't make that word count, don't worry about it! It's okay to take days off on occasion. It's definitely better than getting overwhelmed. 

Feel like you can organize your life now? I hope so!

Do you have any tips of balancing writing with the rest of your life? Let me know in the comments so I can add your advice to my arsenal of survival skills ;) 

Write on, Wordlings!

Friday, January 08, 2016

Beautiful People | Maybe I'm Overly Ambitious

Hola, Worldings! This is the time of year when a lot of people are getting into the spirit of setting goals. Cait @ Paperfury is no different. Now that NaNoWriMo is over, so is Beautiful Books That means the regular Beautiful People posts have been resumed. This month, we're talking writing goals! I already touched on this in my yearly summary but the questions that Cait asks have gone into a little more depth so I figured I take a stab at it.

Let's get to it, shall we? Onwards!

What were your writing achievements last year?

I went expanded on this in my yearly summary so I'll stick to the basics. 

My three largest achievements:
1) Getting myself picked up by Focus on the Family Clubhouse Magazine for an article I wrote

2) Going to the Florida Christian Writer's conference (I learned SO much there and I was never sure if I'd ever get to a conference like that)

The awesome conference people. I'm in there somewhere XD

3) I finished my first novel ever :D 

Tell us about your top priority writing project for this year

Definitely polishing "Living City". I hope to have that done by the end of August—potentially sooner if an agent requests it (*crosses fingers that I can get an agent to begin with*). 

I know this is going to take a lot of focus and effort—I'm already finding that it's a huge challenge to edit one book while trying to write another one that's in a separate genre—so I've go to buckle down and keep this schedule of mine. 

List 5 areas you’d like to work the hardest to improve this year

I love this question so much cause it's forcing me to think. Let's see....

1) Staying consistent with my writing. That whole "write everyday" thing that people talk about has been applied to my life and I want to keep it that way. 

2) The beginnings of my novels. I know I can always edit them but I really wish I felt good about my beginnings while I write them.
Writing beginnings, I feel like this poor girl
3) Character voices. Making each character distinct from one another and also making each POV character easily distinguishable between novels is something I want to master one day. 

4) Emotion. I'm not a terribly emotional person and already I'm noticing that it's showing in my novel. The emotional reactions of many of the people isn't what it should be. I've got my trusty "Emotion Thesaurus" though. It shall be my guide ;)

5) My platform. By the end of the year, I want to master blogging and keeping up my Facebook page. By NaNo, I hope to include twitter into the mix. I also have plans to buy a domain and print business cards. It's a lot of work but I'm willing to put the time into it. 

Are you participating in any writing challenges?

Yep! Camp NaNo in April for "Crec" and NaNoWriMo in November for "Sunken Sky". I also may participate in Voice Week again. I did it in 2014 and it really changed the way I looked at writing defined voices. Since voices are a focus of mine this year, it's definitely worth the consideration.

What’s your critique partner/beta reader situation like and do you have plans to expand this year?

Currently I have seven Alpha readers. One of them who is both an Alpha and Beta reader is also my unofficial critique partner. As for expanding: yes, I DO have plans for that. I hope to get more Betas: male and female, writer and non-writer. This month I'll hunting for them since I have it in my schedule to send my manuscript out to them in February.

Do you have plans to read any writer-related books this year? Or are there specific books you want to read for research

Yes I do! "The Emotion Thesaurus" for one, is great for research; "Now Write! Science-Fiction, Fantasy and Horror" is one I picked up from my book store specifically for the writing exercises at the end of each informative chapter; and "Blogging for Writers" is one that my sister got me for Christmas that has some great technical and market tips. I hope to read all three and write reviews for them right here. I'm looking forward to it ^ ^

Pick one character you want to get to know better, and how are you going to achieve this?

Hm....probably Masara Gold. I know a lot about her but I can't seem to write effectively in her voice. Maybe I don't know her as well as I think I do?

Since I'm working on "Crec" this year, I definitely need to get the hang of her. I'll be CCing (character chating) with her and use her in the writing exercises in the "Now Write!" book. Also, I have a few tips and tricks I'm gonna use on her.

This picture of Masara's celebrity look alike reminds me of a scene I recently wrote :) 

Do you plan to edit or query, and what’s your plan of attack?

Edit, yes. I wrote my process down in last month's Beautiful Books post. As I mentioned above, I hope to have the whole thing polished by the end of August. Of course, this means that I'll need to edit every day until then. Bring it on.

As for querying, I'll be doing that in the summer if I don't get picked up by anyone at the conference in Florida. All I know about the queries is that I'll be looked for agents instead of going directly to a publishing house.

Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  What are the books that you want to see more of, and what “holes” do you think need filling in the literary world?

I want to see more retellings of stories that aren't classified as a fairytale. For example, I've found a few for Frankenstein in my bookstore and I know there's one for the Nutcracker out there. Some retellings of Shakespeare plays would definitely hold my interest.

Excuse me while I check out a few of these from my library

As for the holes, I thing YA need more mythology that's not written by Rick Riordan (which I love, don't get me wrong). Even adult fiction needs it. I want to see more of this ^ ^ I touched briefly on some other holes in my post, "7 Reasons Why Every Aspiring Author Should Work In a Bookstore"

What do you hope to have achieved by the end of 2016?

I go into more detail with this in my yearly summary post. Basically I have four main goals. 

1) Prep for the conference in February (business cards, one sheets and all that jazz) 

2) Polish "Living City" 

3) Draft "Crec" 

4) Draft "Sunken Sky" 

I'm ambitious, I know ^ ^ I also know that I'm not the only one ;) But hey, this way I'll never run out of stuff to do this year! Three cheers for that!

Get it? Three cheers? :D 

What are your writing goals this year? 
Did you do Beautiful Books? Share a link with me in the comments and I'll stop by your blog!

Happy New Year, Wordlings! 

Friday, January 01, 2016

2015 | I've Started Many New Chapters (Literally and Metaphorically)

Happy New Year, Wordlings! I apologize for the slight delay in posting this. I had intentions of writing on the 31st but I didn't consider how tired I would be after midnight. After that, I forgot to schedule a time for the post to publish. I've taken note for next year ;)

Instead of doing a monthly summary for December, I've decided to do a yearly summary and sum up 2015 month by month (December included)

This year has been massive for me. Though there were quite a few learning curves and a handful of disappointments there were also some major accomplishments. I'd love to tell you guys all about both aspects of my year so let's get straight to that. Onwards!


I turned 18! My sister kindly reminded me that I was then halfway to 36. Thanks, sis. 

This was a month that I focused a lot on poetry and flash fiction instead of my novel. At the time I was writing "Crec" and had reached a bit of a brain block so I readjusted my focus. 


After a lot of hard work, I got my Green belt in karate! All I have standing in the way of my black is brown :D

I attended the Florida Christian Writer's Conference! This was my first time ever attending a large scale writing conference like this one and I can honestly say it was one of the most amazing experiences I could have had as a writer. I got to meet Bryan Davis, my writing friends from the inter-webs, my mentor, Bethany Jett and even got interest from three magazines in my poetry, flash fiction and articles. Next December I'll be published in Focus on the Family's Clubhouse magazine for kids aged 9-12 for an article I wrote :D 

Me, Bryan Davis and my two fabulous friends

Me and Bethany Jett 

I started writing "Living City". At the time it had a different title, was a stand alone instead of a trilogy and half my cast was nameless but I really needed to shelve "Crec" and do something different. I realized that the story was just too big for me to write as a first novel. 


Once again, I reached a point where I didn't know what to do with my novel writing. I began to question my ability to write a novel to begin with and turned back to what I find easiest: poetry. I wrote about four or five poems between March and April alone. 


Still not sure if writing was something I wanted to do full-time, I focused on school and studying for the big Diploma exams in June. Also, I prepped for graduation as an executive member of the grad committee.


I graduated! It was so surreal to tell myself that I was done grade school forever. That month of may I took to study paid off and I graduated with no mark lower than an 80. Celebrating with my friends was loads of fun and I'll always regard my grad with fond memories.  

One of my favourite grad photos :) 


This was both a month of success and disappointment for me. It started with a triple rejection. I lost my chance of being a Lifeguard, I was rejected for a flash fiction piece I submitted and found out that I didn't make it into the choir I auditioned for. 

However, exactly two weeks later, my dream of working at a bookstore was fulfilled and I became an official employee of Indigo/Chapters bookstore :) 

Also, I got accepted into MacEwan university for a Bachelor of Arts. 

To top it all off, this was the month I found out that Focus on the Family wanted to publish me. A triple rejection was combatted with a triple acceptance. 

Of course the only picture I could find of me at work is this one XD


I started working on "Living City" again. Still though, it had little direction and a floppy title. I wrote the rest of Act 1 in this time period though while experimenting with different ways to organize my storyline. 

As you may remember I attempted to reboot my blog and failed. Look at me now though!


September 9th marked my first day of University. English easily became my favourite subject and I started learned Spanish with the intent of making it my second language. I really regret dropping French in junior high >_< 

A photo I took of my university's main building


I rebooted my blog for reals! With the help of my friend, Tori, we came up with a schedule technique which has worked surprisingly well for me. Also along these lines, I started up my Facebook page. 

Speaking of rebooting things, I decided to sit down and actually plot my novel. "Living City" slowly took shape in front of me and seeing where I was going with my story encouraged me to start writing again—so I did. I promised myself my novel would be completed and I vowed to do so during NaNoWriMo. 


NaNoWriMo! Two weeks into my first ever NaNo, I completed the challenge and also finished my novel. The ending of the novel truly satisfied me. I look forward to going back to it this year to polish it up further.


After months of studying and trying to balance school and blogging and writing, I finally finished my first semester of university! 

Going into the Christmas season with a completed book, I became motivated to plot and start writing "Crec". I'm not very far in but I'm chipping away at it slowly but surely. 

This was my first Christmas in Retail and I loved it :D The busy bookstore Christmas atmosphere turned out to be my cup of tea ^ ^ 

Remember that special project I mentioned? Well now I can talk about it! For the weeks of advent, I was asked by my pastor to write a poem/monologue to be memorized and read in front of the congregation. Unfortunately the plans to have it read fell through. Instead, it was published in our newsletter. I'm still elated that I had the opportunity to write something that could be used to make people think and stir emotion in their heart. 

As For 2016...

I've made a list of things that I want to do or complete this year. I wouldn't call them resolutions as much as I would call them goals. For some reason 'resolution' seems so rigid to me. 

Large Goals

I've mentioned it before but I'll be going to Florida in February to pitch my novel ^ ^ So this month and next, I'll be prepping sample chapters, business cards, one sheets ect. I'll also be talking to myself in the mirror a lot ^ ^ 

Now that "Living City" is writing, I hope to polish it to it's final draft by August. 

By the end of May I hope to have "Crec" drafted. 

Four of my main Characters from Crec that I can't wait to introduce more!

Also, "Sunken Sky" is my NaNo novel so I hope I can draft that one too. 

Yeah, maybe my goals are lofty but if I don't give myself something big to work for, I'll probably slack off. I know if I put my mind to it, all of these things can be finished :) 

Smaller Goals

Write 750 words a day in one of my novels whether it be "Crec" or "Sunken Sky". If I can't write 750, I have to write at least 100. 

Get organized! I have the planner, now I just have to fill it in!

My planner :D

Learn lots. Whether through rejections or blogs or advice given to me directions, I hope to learn a lot more about my craft and have the ability to pass it on. 

Read at least 30 books. I'm a rather slow reader so I can't do that whole 100 books a year thing that some of you crazy people do ;) 

So that's my review of the year and the plan for this upcoming one. Hopefully by the end of December I can look back on 2016 with the ability to check off all of these goals. 

What were your highlights of 2015? Have you made any goals for 2016?