February 2019 Monthly Wrap-Up

February was an okay month, but not great. I hit some big financial goals with work, which was very exciting, but my health suffered: I had a bad cold for basically the first two weeks of the month, and as soon as I got over that, all of my other health problems went into a flare (from stress, not taking one of my prescription meds for two months, and who knows what else).

I turned 20 years old and Brooke and I took a road trip to Chattanooga for three nights to celebrate. Joshua and I had a donut date; I went to tap class and picked up my neighbors from school each week; my dad and I went out for dinner and shopping; and I went to my informal small group once and my parents’ small group once.

This month I’m…

Reading: Fiercehearted, Holley Gerth. On My Own Two Feet, Amy Purdy. A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Brigid Kemmerer. Around the Way Girl, Taraji P. Henson. Finishing Becca, Ann Rinaldi (reread). In The Water They Can’t See You Cry, Amanda Beard. The Cruel Prince, Holley Black. The Deceivers, Kristen Simmons. King of Scars, Leigh Bardugo. Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell (reread). What’s Best Next, Matt Perman. The Peterkin Papers, Lucretia P. Hale (kinda a DNF). What The Night Sings, Vesper Stamper. Overdressed, Elizabeth Cline (DNF only because it was due at the library). 14 total.

Watching: Blackfish. The Grammys. Titanic. Deadly Class, Syfy. A Plastic Ocean. Julia Robertson’s vlogs from last summer.

Listening to: I Am and Back From the Edge, James Arthur. Nearer My God To Thee, BYU. Beauty and the Beast soundtrack. Vapor, The Liturgists. Why, Perfectly Wrong, Particular Taste, and When You’re Ready, Shawn Mendes. Nervous (acoustic), Gavin James. When The Party’s Over, Billie Eilish. Castle On a Hill, Ed Sheeran. Love Again (stripped), Dylan Jordan. How Long, Charlie Puth. This glorious Anastasia piano medley for hours on end while writing textbooks.

Loving: A Curse So Dark and Lonely and Queen of Air and Darkness, Cait (Paper Fury). Active-shooter drills are scaring children away from school, NY Post. The Modern Trap of Feeling Obligated to Turn Hobbies into Hustles, Man Repeller.

Writing: I reached a milestone number in my savings account this month and also not only reached my monthly income goal for the first time, but surpassed it, which felt SO good (although unfortunately I had to work several evenings and a couple of Saturdays). I got a new client this month, a curriculum development company; I spent about 20 hours a week writing child development college textbooks (for Barnes & Noble Education) and the other 20 trying to cram in all of my other pre-existing client work.

That other client work consisted of four blog posts for a pet insurance company (example); proofreading, social media, a feature, and a department for the magazine I work for (follow our Facebook page here); some work for a consumer protection website; 15 short travel articles (examples here, here, and here); a couple of outdoors articles (example); some blog posts for an Instagram marketing company; an article for Just Labs Magazine; some work for a content writing company; articles for an entertainment website (examples here and here); an article for CYC (read here) and some other random small projects like advertising copy for a sportswear company and an article for an old client.

As far as marketing, I pitched 21 story ideas to 12 publications, sent 19 LOI’s, and applied to 77 jobs. (It felt like every time I applied to a job, I either got shortlisted or hired, and it was to the point where I was turning stuff down left and right and exclaiming “NO!” aloud anytime I saw something new in my inbox.)

I had a little time to work on my ice skating novel, which was SO wonderful that I wish I’d had more. I was also interviewed on a podcast about how I grew my business as a teenager and that was a fun “first.”

Grateful for: Clients with a sense of teamwork who foster camaraderie. Waffles for dinner on a Wednesday. The fun One Line A Day journal that I’ve been wanting forever and finally bought. Mentor meetings with fellow freelance writers with chronic illnesses. Driving down the road on a rare sunny day with my eight-year-old passenger asking me to turn up Panic! At The Disco. The cutest one-year-old high fives at small group. Having a phone that works, finally!

What did you do in February?

Advertisements

Day In My Life (Winter 2019)

I didn’t take any pictures because I didn’t decide to do this post until mid-afternoon Tuesday (and also because my phone basically crashed earlier this week and it was too much work to get out my camera, lol). Next time!

Tuesday, February 19th

It was an extremely rainy day on Tuesday, just like every other day recently! I had to take my brother to school at 7:30; because of my chronic fatigue, I can’t remember the last time I got up that early, and it was definitely a struggle to not be drowsy on the road even though I went to bed at 8:30 the night before in preparation. Traffic was backed up all the way from the interstate almost to our neighborhood; it was a mess. But we finally made it to his school with about 30 seconds to spare.

When I got home around 8:20, I snuggled with Sophie, rested, and had my quiet time and wrote out my schedule for the day. Then I made breakfast (scrambled eggs and a fruit smoothie), cleaned the kitchen, and we had a Panic! At The Disco dance party.

xx

(x)

My first block of work was from 9:30 to 12:00 (it happened under a blanket on the couch with Sophie, enjoying a quiet house). I finished the first round of revisions on the textbook chapter I wrote a week or two ago–the chapter is about the federal, state, and local laws surrounding education, so Tuesday morning I was researching the rights of students who are pregnant, disabled, incarcerated, etc as well as school safety (bullying, active shooter drills, etc). It was absolutely fascinating. I love that I learn so many different things from my job and the projects I take on.

That took a little over an hour and then I finished writing a blog post that was due Tuesday on the best time-saving Instagram tools for social media managers. I learned some things I didn’t know about influencer marketing, which was cool.

Around noon, I stopped working and watched a few of Madelaine Petsch’s YouTube videos. Then I worked out; since I had a cold/virus thing for over two weeks and had also been traveling, it had been forever since I had the energy to get in a solid workout, and it felt so good. After working out I took a shower and had lunch (which came with another kitchen dance party, this time to Shawn Mendes).

At 1:15 I went to pick up my brother from school. It was still absolutely pouring rain! I had a chance to catch up briefly with some of our friends.

By 2:00 we were home and I was working on a blog post highlighting some wedding venues in Melbourne for an old client. At 3:00 I outlined an article I was writing for an entertainment website (it was on Alaskan Bush People, which my family used to love watching) and sent the outline to my editor for approval; then I took a brief break to be excited about all the mail I got (I received a book as a birthday gift, two copies of a magazine I had an article published in, and a check for the article).

At 4:00 I edited the Instagram tools blog post, added images, optimized it for SEO, and submitted it; at 4:45 I did some brief edits on a piece for Craft Your Content. Finally, I spent the rest of the afternoon doing marketing and admin tasks–which, Tuesday, consisted of pitching article ideas to editors I found on Twitter, applying to some jobs, and answering lots of emails. It was sleeting outside, but I was cozy at my desk in my bay window with fairy lights and a candle!

We had dinner at 6:00 (my dad was out of town, so just three of us). After dinner I played the piano, wrote a letter, watched a few YouTube videos, and read King of Scars. Then Brooke picked me up and we got a pizza and went up to our friends Blake and Luke’s place to hang out with them and Noah. We talked for a while and played 5 Minute Dungeons. By the time we got home a little after 10:00, I was stumbling around with exhaustion–but despite how tired it was, it took me a little while to go to sleep because I was in pain, too. Staying out so late was NOT a smart decision–I was in even more pain Wednesday and didn’t move from the couch with my laptop all day.

Editor’s note: This was much busier than my average day! Most days I sleep until 8:30, work from home all day, and am asleep by 9:00. I might work out OR go somewhere, but not both (#chronicillnessprobs). That being said, my too-busy day Tuesday is part of what sent me into a flare that, five days later, I’m still recovering from; I’ve left the house twice since. But that’s the way life goes for me!

What does a day in your life look like?

27 Questions Movie Tag

Growing up, I didn’t watch a lot of movies. We had a few specific DVDs that I would watch over and over, but that was about it, and we rarely went to the movie theater. The last couple of years, though, I’ve realized how much I love movies. I’ve started going to the movie theater a lot more and watching a ton of movies on Netflix. I even have a client that’s an entertainment website, so I get to write about movies, which is pretty cool. All of that being said, I randomly came across this movie tag and thought it looked really cool. I’m aware that there are quite a few gaps in my cinematic knowledge (for instance, I’m 20 and I saw Titanic for the first time last weekend), and my taste in movies is very diverse. But I’m working on filling in those gaps just as fast as I can!

Favorite action film?

Black Panther or Baby Driver. I absolutely loved both of those.

Favorite comedy film?

The Parent Trap. Classic. I will never not enjoy re-watching that movie.

the-parent-trap-twenty-years-2018.gif

Favorite “dark humor” or “black comedy” film?

I haven’t seen any black comedy films (that I’m aware of).

Favorite scene from this film?

n/a

Favorite animated film?

Fun fact about me: I can’t stand animated movies. I really, really, really just don’t like them. That being said, my friends Emma and Hannah had me watch Kubo and the Two Strings about a year ago and I absolutely loved it! Beyond that, I can’t think of any animated movies I like. I haven’t seen most of the classic animated movies, honestly, like The Lion King, Finding Nemo, and Shrek. I’m just really not into animation.

kubo.gif

Favorite short film?

n/a

Favorite romance film?

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before or Titanic. SO GOOD, both of them. Just those gifs are making me grin like an idiot. I also like La La Land and Beauty and the Beast–the 2017 Emma Watson one, not the animated one. 😉

Favorite biographical film?

Hidden Figures. I absolutely love the story of those strong, sassy, intelligent women who wouldn’t let anything stand in their way. I love the acting, the blended soundtrack, and the aesthetic (warm color tones, soul music, heels clicking). This movie reinforces how much of a math person I am NOT, lol, but I love it anyway and it’s such an important story.

hf.gif

Favorite drama film?

Dunkirk. Dunkirk is quite possibly my favorite movie of all time. Every aspect of it is just so well-done and I love, love, LOVE it. Also, Good Will Hunting (although “favorite” isn’t really the right term for that one, lol).

Favorite music-themed film?

I guess La La Land? I’m not totally sure what’s meant by “music-themed.”

lll

Favorite indie film?

I really want to see Ashes in the Snow, which is an adaptation of Ruta Sepety’s (one of my favorite authors) book Between Shades of Gray.

Favorite book adaptations?

I know a lot of people don’t like the Narnia and Harry Potter movies, but I do. They’re obviously not perfect, but I think they’re really really really good and they have a very special place in my heart. I re-watch them a lot.

Films you want to see but never get around to watching?

A few titles that are currently on my list to watch: Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, American Sniper, High School Musical (lol), The King’s Speech, and a bunch of Marvel movies.

Favorite soundtrack?

I haven’t seen The Theory of Everything, but I have that movie’s soundtrack memorized. It’s been the background music to so many of my novels and short stories during the last few years. Every note of it is absolute perfection and makes me Feel Things™.

Film you refuse to see?

I refused to see Everything Everything when it came out and I refuse to see Five Feet Apart, which is coming out next month. The book Everything Everything really bothered me because it was ableist and did not accurately represent individuals with chronic illnesses, so for the sake of my mental health I didn’t see the movie. I don’t know whether Five Feet Apart is going to do a better job of that or not, but I’m not going to see it just in case (even though I want to, because Cole Sprouse is in it lol).

Film that you can’t wait for it to come out?

Spider-Man Far From Home!!! So excited! The new live-action Dumbo movie also looks cute and I’m interested in the new Aladdin.

Best tearjerker?

Another fun fact about me: I cry at movies ALL. THE. TIME. If I didn’t cry, it’s not a movie.  Dunkirk made me cry. Mona Lisa Smile made me cry. Free Willy made me cry. Crying about movies is my favorite thing to do, tbh. So basically, it doesn’t matter whether or not a given movie is a so-called “tearjerker”–I’m probably going to cry anyway. I’ve been known to cry at documentaries, okay?

Remake you wish had never been made?

Can’t really think of any. (Although, WHY are we getting a Frozen 2? Ugh.)

Best film you’ve seen in 3D?

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie in 3D.

Most beautiful film? (in terms of cinematography)

Can’t think of any at the moment.

Movie that didn’t meet your expectations?

I was excited about the Maze Runner movies, but the first one really just didn’t do it for me (I LOVED The Death Cure, though). I wasn’t nearly as enthralled with Mary Poppins Returns as I had hoped to be, and the same goes for The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It was good, but I didn’t love it like I’d hoped to.

Movie that exceeded your expectations?

Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald BLEW ME AWAY. Literally, it was SO SO much better than I expected it to be. There was also a modern-day retelling of Little Women that came out last year, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, but I ended up loving it.

fbg.gif

Best cinema experience?

I saw The Greatest Showman in theaters three times and each time was better than the last. Seeing Crimes of Grindelwald on opening night was also so much fun because it was the first time I had seen a Harry Potter movie in a theater. I felt like a real fan!

ggss

Most surprising movie moment?

I’ve been thinking about this for a while and can’t think of anything.

Favorite dance sequence in a movie?

The La La Land opening scene where they dance on top of cars on the freeway!

lalala.gif

Most disturbing movie you’ve ever seen?

I make a point to not watch disturbing movies. 🙂 I do remember watching this one movie about aliens and cornfields at a friend’s birthday party that was pretty creepy when I was younger. (I think it was Signs.)

signs

In a year or two, I’m looking forward to doing this tag again and seeing how my answers have changed!

If you want to do this tag, feel free–and tell me a few of your favorite movies in the comments.

Big World. Ours Now? // Birthday Road Trip!

Today is my 20th birthday, and to celebrate, Brooke and I took a really fun road trip to Chattanooga over the weekend. Friday I stopped working at noon and we left around two; we listened to the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack multiple times as I drove us up to my grandpa’s house, where we were staying. When we got there, we went to his favorite restaurant, where I had my favorite gyro plate and coconut pie. That evening, Brooke and I started watching Titanic because somehow I’d gone almost 20 years and never seen it.

IMG_4763

The next day, we went to Huddle House for breakfast (where the waitress called Brooke and me little baby-faced deer who didn’t even know it). Then we drove downtown to the Southern Belle riverboat, which runs tours around the Tennessee River. We spent some time in the gift shop (a barge that’s permanently docked) while we waited for our noon tour to begin. Apparently we picked an eventful day to go: Not only did someone have a surprise 40th birthday party on the boat, but TLC star Honey Boo Boo was on the boat with us, so there was a reality TV crew crawling everywhere with cameras.

The hour-and-a-half tour was really fun. We ate lunch, saw a blue heron rookery, and almost fell off the deck when the riverboat captain unexpectedly blew the horn as we passed under a bridge.

IMG_0257.jpg

When the tour ended, we went to the Incline and rode up Lookout Mountain, where you can see seven states. We only stayed at the top for a few minutes before coming back down and heading home.

At home, I took a two-hour nap; we got Krystal takeout; and Brooke and I finished watching the Titanic (my new favorite movie) and then stayed up too late talking.

Sunday morning we’d been planning to go to church, Panera, and the IMAX theater. But my body was telling me in no uncertain terms that I had done way too much on Saturday. I was so exhausted and in pain. So I slept from 9-12, we went back to the Epicurean for lunch, and then we watched several hours of home videos. We had popcorn and ice cream for dinner and Brooke and I watched Everybody Loves Raymond and the Grammys for a while.

Today (my actual birthday) we slept in and ate at Ihop for breakfast. Brooke and I didn’t leave Tennessee until noon, and I didn’t get home until about 3:00. I’m planning to spend the rest of my birthday writing postcards, reading The Deceivers by Kristen Simmons (one of my most anticipated 2019 releases), and eating chocolate chip cookie cheesecake. Here’s to a new decade of life!

Room Tour January 2019

I’m planning to move out later this year, and while I can’t wait to get a little apartment and decorate it, all I’ve been thinking about lately is how much I’m going to miss my bedroom. We’ve lived in this house for over 10 years, and since I was homeschooled and now I work from home, I spend a lot of time in my bedroom. It has a bay window and vaulted ceiling, plus lots of books and fairy lights. Normally there’s a candle burning, music playing, and hard work happening (or hard relaxation, depending on whether it’s a weekend or a weekday). I work at my desk, work out on the carpet, and watch Netflix or read in bed. Here’s a tour of my room! (I apologize for the terrible lighting in the photos–I took these pictures at a weird time of day.)

IMG_0219

First of all, we see the pull-up bar that I don’t use nearly as much as I thought I was going to and my bookcase (which I use every day). Most of the 300+ books I own are on here, and they’re arranged by genre. Obviously, they don’t all fit and they’re kind of a mess. But can we appreciate that I have a whole section for Louisa May Alcott?

I have a bulletin board behind my door (and this is a TERRIBLE photo of it). It’s been about a year and a half since I redid it.

IMG_0215

In my chest of drawers (the top is always messy), the top few drawers are filled with pajamas and clothes, while the bottom few drawers are filled with papers (literally–to the brim) and random stuff.

IMG_0217

This bookcase at the end of my bed contains old journals, school notebooks, yearbooks, and magazines, plus my modest DVD collection and the stuffed owl that Hannah gave me (it came bearing my Hogwarts letter). On top of the bookcase is an anthology I was published in recently. To the left, there’s a box full of copies of my book, and a little tray with all my stationary and letter writing supplies.

Here’s my closet with the fairy lights that make my room look purple instead of pink at night. And in the spirit of transparency, here’s what my closet actually looks like inside. (Not pretty: Clothes everywhere, all my extra blankets falling out of the top, and a ton of workout equipment jammed into the bottom.)

Next we get to my desk. I absolutely love my desk, and my bay window, and everything in this area of my room.

The crate on the right holds everything I need for work–folders with W9’s and printed project briefs from clients, notebooks where I keep track of my marketing, etc. The one on the left is where I keep filled notebooks and journals, plus some Bibles and old books and my camera. The little whiteboard (my favorite Alaska souvenir, lol) holds my quote of the week.

I have a few of my favorite quotes of all time–they’re from random books/movies/TV shows and have huge personal meaning to me–on my bay window. The bay window collection of quotes is a very exclusive club. New members are only added once every six months or so.

My desk itself has more quotes on Post it notes, a neat stack of planners/folders, my computer, and a few other little special items. Sometimes I also outline articles with Post it notes on the wall, lol. I like Post it notes.

This is the messiest part of my room, but here’s my dresser (shot sitting on my bed): Old American Girl dolls, a stack of library books (on the floor), stacks of books I own and keep meaning to read (on the bench), and my jewelry box. On top of my antique table I have a ton of Writer’s Digests and magazines I’ve been published in. I can’t figure out a cool way to display them. (Also, peep the big whiteboard to the right–sometimes it’s used to outline novels, currently it’s being used as a habit tracker of sorts.)

IMG_0232

On top of my nightstand, I keep a postcard someone once wrote me speaking life over me, a paper rose that a stranger made me once at a coffee shop, and a gorgeous notebook I’ve owned since last July but didn’t write in until a week or two ago (lol oops). Also, there’s a bucket of bookmarks. Because who doesn’t need one of those.

IMG_0230.jpg

There’s nothing I love more than collapsing in bed with a book at the end of a long day. I used to have four blankets on the end, but currently I just have one (my Ravenclaw blanket) because all four would never stay neat. On the wall I have a painting from a friend and some motivational quotes I love.

And that’s my room!

January 2019 Monthly Wrap-Up

I’m glad that January was a really, really good month–happy and busy and full. I was expecting the opposite, so it was nice! I stayed busy with work, discovered so much good music (a big highlight, honestly), and did fun stuff. I also had a lot of energy (well, what counts as “a lot” for me) and felt pretty good physically for most of the month.

The volume of my work stayed pretty steady and I had a good month with some new clients and old ones alike (I made just about as much money as I made in my highest-earning month in 2018), and I enjoyed my first month of having a virtual assistant to take some tasks off my plate. Outside of work, I took tap dance class, picked up/sometimes babysat my neighbors from school, went to my 20’s small group only once oops, and went to small group with my parents’ church twice.

Fun stuff: Anna and I kicked off the month with pizza and shopping on New Year’s Day (I got six items of clothing for $55!). We had lunch with friends from Mississippi, Hannah and I went to Panera and watched a movie, and I had a coffee/mentoring date with a friend from small group. I went out for coffee (which I can longer HAVE because acid reflux–it’s sad), shopping, and lunch with Andrea and Zoe, and Brooke and I caught up over dinner before small group. I played with my favorite one-year-old a lot, went to a brass ensemble performance at a local college with my dad, and we had family friends over for snacks and board games. I attended and helped run Sara’s Diamonds 2019 conference for chronically ill Christians; spent a really fun Sunday with Emma and the Coxes; and spontaneously had a picnic at the park (in the cold) with Brooke. I also ended the month by having my car towed for the first time and getting a cold, neither of which were fun.

 

Reading: The Cricket in Times Square, George Selden (reread). The Secret of a Heart Note, Stacey Lee. The War Outside, Monica Hesse (DNF). The Librarian of Auschwitz, Antonio Iturbe. Taking the Lead, Derek Hough. Scrappy Little Nobody, Anna Kendrick. Gay Girl, Good God, Jackie Hill Perry (cue the tears). The Blue Castle, L. M. Montgomery (aww!). Anna and the French Kiss and Isla and the Happily Ever After, Stephanie Perkins (both rereads–I just wanna live at SOAP). I Am Malala, Malala Yousafzai. Revolution in World Missions, K.P. Yohannan. Queen of Air and Darkness, Cassandra Clare (ALL 900 PAGES–IT RIPPED MY HEART OUT AND I AM NOT OKAY–I LOVE THE BLACKTHORNS MORE THAN LIFE). Letting Go of Gravity, Meg Leder (unexpected emotions, hello). The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin (reread). 15 total.

Watching: Riverdale, all of season one and part of season two (so obsessed). Spider-Man Homecoming (re-watch). Glamour’s YouTube videos on money. Some of Monica Church’s vlogs. Good Witch, the beginning of season two. A little HGTV. One episode of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo because Joshua and I wanted to laugh at it. Mona Lisa Smile (loved this movie so much). The True Cost documentary (as research for a work project, but I loved it). Winner Cake All (just the Broadway Princess Party episode).

jan11

Listening to (I LISTENED TO SO MUCH GOOD MUSIC THIS MONTH, I’M OBSESSED WITH ALL OF THESE SONGS): Natural, Imagine Dragons. Dusk Till Dawn, Zayn ft. Sia. Youngblood, 5 Seconds of Summer. Fear Nothing, Riverdale cast. Wherever I Go, Dan Bremnes. It Is Finished, Passion. Cross My Mind Pt. 2, A R I Z O N A. Start A War, Klergy. Youth, Shawn Mendes ft Khalid. Hold Tight, Sabrina Carpenter. Kings and Queens, Matt Kearney. Life of the Party, Shawn Mendes. Bridges, Johnnyswim (new JS music!). come out and play, Billie Eilish. Queen, Shawn Mendes. Whatever It Takes, covered by Landon Austin. Home, Bruno Major. Wolves, Selena Gomez and Marshmello. Walking the Wire, Imagine Dragons. Particular Taste, Shawn Mendes. High Hopes and Roaring 20’s, Panic! at the Disco. One Of Those Nights, Shawn Mendes. Save Me Tonight, ARTY. Be Alright, Dean Lewis. Nearer My God to Thee, BYU Vocal Point. I also finally discovered the local pop hits radio station.

Loving: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation, Buzzfeed News. The Paradox of Jughead’s Hat, Medium. Marie Kondo of Netflix’s Tidying Up: she’s not coming for your books, Vox. Hungry Planet: What the World Eats, Time. The Good, The Bad, And The Guilt Of Working From Home, Fast Company. Wellesley grads frown at “Mona Lisa Smile,” Chicago Tribune.

Writing: At the magazine where I’m associate editor, I wrote two features, wrote the editor’s note, came up with a social media strategy, and proofread the February issue. I wrote four blog posts for a pet insurance company (example); wrote 15 short (and fun!) blog posts for a new client of mine that creates travel content for a variety of brands (example); wrote eight blog posts for a small outdoors brand (example); wrote a couple of pieces for Craft Your Content (read here and here); wrote a rush work piece for a fitness content marketing company; wrote two blog posts for two social media marketing companies; wrote two blog posts on LinkedIn for a content writing company; wrote a fascinating piece on fast fashion (and finished another long piece from last month) for a consumer protection company; and came up with a content strategy for an email newsletter company. Whew!

I also applied to 88 jobs, sent 33 LOI’s, pitched 26 story ideas to 14 publications, and had my final coaching call for the freelance writing course I enrolled in last June.

Fiction-wise, for the first time in months, I began working on a novel (my ice skating contemporary YA novel) and it was just flowing. I haven’t worked on it much, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot, which feels so good. Also, my copy of the Out of Shadow anthology I was published in finally arrived.

 

Grateful for: Book mail (there was a lot of it this month #Christmasmoney). Constantly sending Voxers (voice messages) with a freelancing friend throughout every work day. Being happy. Nailing down monthly retainer clients. THE GRISHA UNIVERSE IS COMING TO NETFLIX. Playing Marvel board games by candlelight. Being excited. Discovering and enjoying so much good music. Having enough energy to walk the dog (this mostly backfired on me though lol). Candles and books on rainy Saturdays. Playing with a cute dog and talking to some nice ladies at my mechanic. A waitress giving us full-size waffles for the price of mini ones. Laughing and drinking hot chocolate in my car in a dark park. A friend sending me a Kindle book when I was having a stressful day. ❤

What did you do in January?

Liebster Award

Hanne tagged me in this back in December, and I’m finally getting around to doing it–yay!

What is your favorite winter tradition?

I guess my favorite winter tradition is anything to do with Christmas–getting a tree, watching The Christmas Story on Christmas Eve, wrapping presents, etc. (It’s only mid-January but Christmas already feels like a dream, or a dream of a dream.) (Points to anyone who got that reference.)

Image result for the christmas story gif

What is your favorite quote?

I have a ton of favorite quotes. Here are the ones that have made it to Post-It notes above my desk, which means they really mean a lot to me in this stage of life for one reason or another:

It’s time to take the world and make it your own.

I might be a dreamer, but it’s gotten me this far, and that is far enough for me.

You figure out what matters. And you do something about it.

Life is short, the world is wide, let’s make some memories.

You can do anything you want. You are bound by nothing.

One of these is from a TV show I love, one is from a musical I love, one is from a book series I love, and two are from movies I love. Again, bonus points if you recognize any of them!

What is the book you read most recently, and what did you think of it?

Currently I’m in the middle of I Am Malala (not sure why I haven’t read it before? It’s good). I’m also going to reread Anna and the French Kiss later today in one sitting, and do the same with Isla and the Happily Ever After tomorrow, and I’m so excited because I love both of those books so much.

What is your favorite board game?

This isn’t necessarily a board game–it’s a dice game–but I like Qwixx. I also played a fun game the other night called Hail Hydra, and I like Payday and any Harry Potter-themed board games.

What’s a name that you love but won’t ever use for your kids?

I love the name Linnea, but if I have biological kids (not planning on it) I’d want to give them names that are easy to pronounce and spell, just to make their lives easier. I might use it for a middle name, though. Something classic for a first name and something a little different for a middle name. I really like Caroline Linnea, Elisabeth Bethany, Elise Vivian, something like that.

If you could learn one physical activity and do extremely well at it, what would it be?

There are so many things I’d love to do, but my health problems hold me back from most of them. I would LOVE to compete on American Ninja Warrior, for instance.

Image result for american ninja warrior

What is your favorite brand? (i.e., Forever 21, Nike, etc; not restricted only to clothing)

OrangeTheory Fitness has really good branding. Also, UPS has a weirdly impressive social media strategy, especially on LinkedIn.

Outside the work world, though (I’m trying to have a weekend, I promise), I love UnderArmour clothing.

What is your favorite trait in a friend?

Someone who’s loyal, funny, including, understanding, etc.

What is your secret talent?

Umm I don’t think I really have one? A lot of people who are in my life right now don’t know that I’m a classically trained pianist. I try not to bring it up. 😉

Image result for classically trained pianist meme

If you could meet one person that’s currently alive, who would you meet?

There are SO MANY people I want to meet. A short list: Laura Osnes because she’s the loveliest, kindest, most amazing, most talented lady ever. (I keep waiting for the Broadway Princess Party to come to Atlanta.) Shawn Mendes because look at him. Miss Val, the UCLA gymnastics coach, because she’s just the best. Katie Davis, founder of Amazima. Cole Sprouse because I learn half a dozen new vocabulary words every time I listen to him talk. Danielle Fishel because who wouldn’t want to meet Topanga Matthews? Brigid Kemmerer, one of my new favorite authors (out of all these people, she’s probably the one I have the best chance of actually meeting someday). Also, I’d love to meet some of my blog friends in person, like Hanne or Sara. Hopefully that will happen someday too! (I totally did not answer this question haha)

What was your favorite moment of 2018?

The fifteen minutes I spent in the middle of the Alaskan mountains, running up and down hills covered with pink fireweed. In my opinion, it was the most beautiful place we visited in Alaska (probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been), and I felt so joyful and free.

Image may contain: sky, plant, mountain, grass, tree, outdoor and nature

I was about to publish this and then I reread Hanne’s post and realized I’m also supposed to share 11 facts about myself. My mind is blanking but here goes…

  1. I listen to literally all music genres except country and 80s
  2. I work full time, 40+ hours a week, as a freelance content marketer
  3. I used to hate contemporary books but now I LOVE them
  4. I don’t like to wear makeup. The feel of it bothers me + it takes too much time
  5. My bedroom has a bay window (which is where my desk is) and vaulted ceilings and I love it very much
  6. Instagram used to be my favorite social media platform but now I think Twitter is taking over
  7. I love big dog breeds–one day I want a Golden Retriever and a Great Pyrenees and a Bernese mountain dog
  8. I danced for seven years growing up and I currently take tap dance
  9. I love the mountains and being outside, although I can’t really hike anymore
  10. I absolutely LOVE history
  11. I’m a Ravenclaw!!!

I was tagged in this a really long time ago and I’m not sure who’s already been tagged, so just do it with these same questions if you want to because they’re good ones! 

16 Book Releases I’m Excited For in 2019

2019 is going to be a fantastic year reading-wise. There are so many good books coming out (and so many 2018 releases I still haven’t read, oops). Here are the 16 books we’re getting in 2019 that I’m most excited for!

Romanov, Nadine Brandes (release date: May 7, 2019)

Romanov

Nadine is the best in every way possible and I love the story of Anastasia Romanov. It’s captured my imagination ever since I was little, so I can’t wait to see what Nadine does with it in this historical fantasy retelling. I was gifted a preorder of Romanov for Christmas!

To Best the Boys, Mary Weber (March 18, 2019)

To Best the Boys

I’ve never actually read any of Mary Weber’s books, but I really want to. I thought this one looked interesting, so I preordered it! From what I understand, it’s a fantasy story of a town that invites its boys to navigate a labyrinth and compete for a scholarship once year… except this year, the girls have decided to compete in the maze, too.

The Boy who Steals Houses, C.G. Drews (release date: April 4, 2019)

Honestly, this is probably the release I’m MOST excited about in 2019. Big families, autistic rep, probably (hopefully) lots of cake… I don’t have anything to say here except I COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED TO READ CAIT’S NEXT BOOK. (It is undoubtedly going to make me sob. But I’m okay with that.)

The Deceivers, Kristen Simmons (release date: February 5, 2019)

The Deceivers (Vale Hall, #1)

This is a book about a girl who goes to a school for con artists, and it’s written by one of my newfound favorite authors. I DEFINITELY preordered this one! Also, it looks like this is the first in a series, which makes me even more excited.

Call it What You Want, Brigid Kemmerer (release date: June 25, 2019)

Call It What You Want

Brigid Kemmerer is also a newfound favorite author of mine. Her contemporaries Letters to the Lost and More Than We Can Tell ripped my heart out, and she’s super friendly on social media. I’m counting down the days until Call It What You Want, which is a YA contemporary/romance. Kemmerer also has her first fantasy book, A Curse So Dark and Lonely (it’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling!!), coming out January 29. I’m looking forward to that too.

King of Scars, Leigh Bardugo (release date: January 29, 2019)

King of Scars (Nikolai Duology, #1)

I’ve been looking forward to King of Scars for so long. (How beautiful is the cover?!) I love Nikolai Lantsov (who doesn’t?) and can’t wait to read his book! I’m also excited about Ninth House, coming out in October–I have to admit, I know literally nothing about this book, but I’m Leigh Bardugo trash. I would read that woman’s grocery list. Anything and everything she writes is top-notch.

Chain of Gold, Cassandra Clare (release date: November 19, 2019)

Chain of Gold (The Last Hours, #1)

Cassandra Clare literally has SO many books coming out this year?! I don’t read much of her stuff anymore because I decided years ago that the whole paranormal romance thing wasn’t what I wanted to be filling my brain with, but I’ll probably read this one anyway because EDWARDIAN LONDON. Also because I’m desperate to learn how Cassandra Clare keeps all of her characters straight and how she’s managed to flesh out this entire huge history for her world–seriously, it’s some JK Rowling-level stuff.

Children of Virtue and Vengeance, Tomi Adeyemi (release date: March 5, 2019)

I just found out about this tonight, and YAY! I recently reread Children of Blood and Bone and remembered how good it was. I’m so ready to spend more time in Orïsha.

The Toll, Neal Shusterman (I’m pretty sure this comes out in 2019 but now I can’t actually find a release date anywhere??)

Honestly, I wasn’t a huge fan of Scythe when I first read it. But Neal Shusterman stepped it up big-time with Thunderhead. I’m so freaking excited to catch up with Rowan and Citra. (Also a little scared about what’s going to happen to them…)

The Queen’s Resistance, Becca Ross (March 5, 2019)

The Queen's Resistance (The Queen’s Rising, #2)

I debated whether or not to put this on my list. I met Becca last April and she’s so sweet and wonderful! But The Queen’s Rising just didn’t do it for me. I have hope that I’ll enjoy The Queen’s Resistance more, though, so here it is. (One thing I did love about the first book was its cover, and this one is equally as gorgeous.)

The Downstairs Girl, Stacey Lee (release date: August 13, 2019)

The Downstairs Girl

All of Stacey Lee’s historical fiction is just so solid, and this one is set in my hometown of Atlanta, so extra points! It’s about a girl who’s a journalist and gets caught up with criminals, and it’s set in 1890. Sounds intriguing.

Imprison the Sky, A.C. Gaughen (release date: January 22, 2019)

Imprison the Sky (The Elementae, #2)

Again, I debated putting this one on the list of books I’m “excited” about. I enjoyed Reign the Earth; it was done very well and carried important themes, but I didn’t fall in love with the book. It will still be nice to read the second one, though!

Symptoms of a Heartbreak, Sona Charaipotra (release date: May 21, 2019)

Symptoms of a Heartbreak

I haven’t read any of Sona’s previous books yet–I have one of them in my room right now from the library, I just haven’t gotten around to it. But I see her name pop up on Twitter all the time, and this looks really cute.

Serious Moonlight, Jenn Bennett (release date: April 2019)

Serious Moonlight

I recently fell in LOVE with Jenn Bennett through Alex, Approximately. The blurb for this one mentions that one of the main characters was homeschooled and “raised in isolation,” but hopefully the story won’t reinforce homeschool stereotypes, and I can just enjoy it!

This post only scrapes the surface of all the good books coming out this year, but these are a few I’m really pumped for!

What 2019 releases are you excited to read?

December 2018 Monthly Wrap-Up

Everything I did for the first 25 days of December was documented in Blogmas; start here if you missed it. The final week of the month was filled with organizing my room, reading, watching Netflix, procrastinating working on a query letter/synopsis/finding agents for World on a String, sleeping, playing the piano, and playing Catchphrase. I also went to lunch with Brooke, and Joshua and I spent a day with the Coxes. It was such a great break.

 

Reading: Dancing Through Life, Cameron Candace Bure. Metaltown (WOW WOW WOW), Kristen Simmons. Among the Barons, Among the Brave, Among the Enemy, and Among the Free, Margaret Peterson Haddix (reread). Life in Motion, Misty Copeland (reread). Article 5, Breaking Point, and Three, Kristen Simmons. American Panda, Gloria Chao. A Very Large Expanse of Sea (so good), Tahereh Mafi. Wild Blue Wonder (YES), Carlie Sorosiak. Downriver, Will Hobbs. When Chronic Pain and Illness Take Everything Away: How to Mourn Our Losses, Esther Smith. Outrun the Moon, Stacey Lee. Louisiana’s Way Home, Kate DiCamillo. Bunheads, Sophie Flack. Always Never Yours, Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka. Reign the Earth, A.C. Gaughen. 20 total.

Watching: Boy Meets World season 2. Good Will Hunting. The Good Witch season 1. Mary Poppins Returns. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II.

Listening to: Shawn Mendes’ full Illuminate album and most of the songs from his latest self-titled album. Sabrina Carpenter’s album Singular Act 1. Various Christmas music. Probably every video of Shawn Mendes and Cole Sprouse on the Internet.

Loving: Shawn Mendes’ Rolling Stone feature. Stop Apologizing for God, Desiring God. How the Teachings of Emotional Purity and Courtship Damage Healthy Relationships, Recovering Grace.

Grateful for: Sitting on a family friend’s couch and laughing hysterically for the first time in a long time (to both). Sharing a hymnal in church with my favorite ten year old. Lying on a trampoline with my brother on a rare sunny day, laughing and talking.

What did you do in December?

2018: My Reading Stats

I read a lot of books this year. 153 books, to be exact, which comes out to about 3 per week and an average of 13 per month. I wasn’t trying to beat 2017’s number of 135, but I did. My lowest month this year was February with five books, because I watched the Olympics each night instead of reading, and my highest month was December with 20 books completed because I took eleven days off work (hallelujah). I read most of my 2018 books in Georgia. But I also read some in Tennessee, some in Mississippi, some in Alabama, some in South Carolina, some in North Carolina, some in Alaska, some in Vancouver, and some in Seattle. The first book I read this year was Under the Lilacs by Louisa May Alcott (a reread), and the last book I read this year was Reign the Earth by A. C. Gaughen.

I didn’t do a Goodreads challenge. I’m terrible at having hobbies because I’m super competitive and ambitious. So I want reading to be the one thing in my life where I don’t put pressure on myself and can just truly enjoy it. And I do enjoy it… as is evidenced by the fact that I read 153 books in 2018 without even trying! But the downside of not doing a Goodreads challenge is that I have to compile my reading data myself at the end of the year. So, here are a few rudimentary pie charts showing some of my 2018 reading statistics.

Let’s start out with how many fiction books I read versus how many nonfiction books I read. My prediction: I wasn’t sure of exact numbers, but I knew I read much more fiction than nonfiction this year, and I was right.

fiction vs nonfiction.jpeg

As far as rereads versus books that I read for the first time, I read a ton of new books this year, and I didn’t think there would be that many rereads. And I was right again! When I was younger, I used to think (and I’m sure my mom used to think) that I would run out of books to read one day, but now I know the truth… I’ll never have enough time to read all the books in the world.

rereads

Out of the fiction books I read this year, I also wanted to analyze how many YA, MG or children’s, and adult books I read. I accurately predicted that I read the most YA books by far. These stats are as close as I can figure…

ya

Finally, genre-wise, my initial guess was that I read the most contemporary this year. I used to not think I liked contemporary, but I absolutely fell in love with it this year and read a heck ton of contemporary. I was interested to see how the other genres panned out!

I did have a little trouble sorting some books into genres for this chart. A lot of them overlapped–for instance, many of the autobiographies I read were by missionaries or pastors and could just as easily have gone into faith-based. And since several MG/children’s books I read don’t exactly slot into a category, I just made a general children’s lit section. So the lines blur a little, but this is pretty accurate. I was right that I read the most contemporary this year, but fantasy and dystopian/sci-fi came pretty close! Things were pretty even across the board with genres, which makes for a very pretty pie chart.

genres

Overall, 2018 was a really, really good reading year. I’m not going to divide books up into favorites/non-favorites or give any specific reviews because that’s a lot of work haha (hit up my Goodreads for somewhat coherent reviews), but I loved the large majority of the 153 books I read. I love the idea that all of these stories are part of me now, shaping the way I write and the way I look at the world. So excited to devour more books in 2019!

How many books did you read in 2018? What genre did you read the most? What were some of your favorite reads?