How I #liveBANGS!

#liveBANGS. It’s a phrase that might mean nothing to you right now. But to myself and to thousands of other Bangs ambassadors and customers, it’s not only a phrase that we’re well acquainted with–it’s a phrase that sums up our entire lifestyle. By the end of this post, my goal is for it to sum up yours, as well. Let’s dive in!

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My initial introduction to Bangs, a brand of cute and functional shoes, was through Instagram. There were a few trendy accounts I followed–girls who lived in my area and were friends of friends of friends. More to the point, these girls were ambassadors for Bangs shoes. Although I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, something about their posts made me realize that this was more than just a brand and that the Bangs ambassador program was more than just your typical brand ambassador program. This past spring when ambassador applications opened up, I made sure to get mine in fast. As I learned more about Bangs, I found out their slogan:

Your adventure helps others find theirs.

I realized that that motto, even though I didn’t know it at the time, was exactly what had drawn me to the Bangs brand. Those girls I followed on Instagram? All of them perfectly embodied this catchphrase, and soon it became my goal to embody it as well. To me, the phrase #liveBANGS can be summed up in three main categories. Here they are, and here’s how I attempt to display them.

1. Having cool adventures.

Bangs are the perfect adventuring shoe, and really, the perfect anything shoe. They’re sturdy, water-resistant, and have a flat sole–great for hiking, other outdoor activities, and even weightlifting. But they’re cute and trendy enough that you could transition to a night out on the town with no problem at all! I’ve been a lot of cool places in my Bangs; I love visiting Colombia, South America (photo below), and taking in all of the beauty there. Plus, it’s coffee central, so book those plane tickets! But I since I live in America, I’m extremely busy, and I’m also kind of broke (who am I kidding: I’m VERY broke), something I’ve started focusing on lately is finding amazing adventures in my own backyard. For instance, who would have guessed that this palace is just an hour or two away from me in Georgia?! I plan on visiting very soon–while, of course, wearing my Bangs!

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2. Meeting all kinds of fun people!

When you become a Bangs ambassador, or even a Bangs customer, you’re immediately drawn into a huge community. I have a Bangs pen pal, and we write multiple letters a week; I’ve also been able to connect with so many great people online. But making friends through Bangs isn’t limited to solely other Bangs customers–I love meeting new people no matter where I am or what I’m doing!

3. Helping others.

I love, love, love the fact that BANGS actually means “help” in Mandarin and that the brand is so focused on giving back to others–currently, Bangs has invested in 672 entrepreneurs in 63 different countries. Wow! As a young entrepreneur myself, I completely love this aspect of the brand. I’ve also realized that to help others, I don’t have to travel to South America. Just like I can have adventures in my own backyard, I can help others in my own backyard! For instance, a few months ago I was going to the store. On the way, I noticed that my friend’s car was in the parking lot at her work. I bought a $3 bouquet of flowers, stuck them in the handle of her door, and laughed secretly when she texted me later saying, “Someone left flowers on my car while I was at work. I have no idea who, but it made my day!” If you’re a broke college student like me, I definitely encourage you to look for simple but meaningful ways to encourage and help others. Pro tip: Walmart has beautiful $3 bouquets of flowers! 😉

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So at the end of the day, yes: Bangs are cute and functional shoes. But they’re so much more than that! To #liveBANGS means to live for something bigger than yourself. To #liveBANGS means to live wild and free, to live expansively, to embrace every new opportunity with open arms and to love and share with others along the way. To #liveBANGS truly does mean that your adventure helps others find theirs.

Comment or email me to find out how you can become a part of the Bangs family–I promise you won’t regret it!

Hailey Rants About Entitlement (or, Get Over It)

I have a soapbox I’ve been needing to get on for a long time, so just bear with me for a few minutes.

Entitlement: the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.

I know someone around my age who expects their parents to buy him/her a car. But not just any car will do–this kid expects a specific make, a specific model, and a specific color of car. They have made it very clear that if they don’t get this exact kind of car very soon, they will not be happy.

Recently I sat down to watch my favorite YouTuber’s spring try-on haul. The first item of clothing (a T-shirt) that she’d bought was $99, and my jaw just dropped. When the video was finished, this girl had spent over $400 on half a dozen shirts that she planned to only wear in spring 2017. This YouTuber had also just spent a lot of money to have her bedroom (which looked perfectly fine to me) redone, and then she spent an entire video complaining that her interior designer got her a new desk from Ikea instead of one from a higher-quality store. Along the same lines, a couple of years ago I stopped watching House Hunters with my parents because it drove me so crazy that a couple with a budget of $1.2 million would be annoyed when their prospective house didn’t have granite countertops.

I remember being really upset last fall when almost everyone I knew was complaining about going back to school. Do people even realize how lucky they are to live in a country where, although the education system could certainly be much better, they can at least go to school at all and learn something? In some countries, parents are too poor to send their children to school. Some kids have to work, or they’re sold into human trafficking, and in some countries girls aren’t allowed to attend school. This doesn’t just happen in foreign countries, either–I was talking to a foster mom in my neighborhood last August who said that the birth mother of one of her foster kids didn’t let the teen go to school, although the girl really wanted to.

American teenagers (and, honestly, Americans in general) embody the sentiment of entitlement that I’ve just illustrated so perfectly, and it makes me sick. Why are we so self-absorbed? So the Wi-Fi went out. Get over it. Read a book. GOSH. We’re so spoiled, and we’re so extravagant. Americans are a selfish and narcissistic culture. (And believe me–I’m preaching to the choir here. Don’t be offended, because I act selfish and narcissistic and complain about the slow Wi-Fi every day.) If you’re a teenager and you expect your parents to buy you a car and do your laundry and get you up for school in the mornings while you complain that you have to leave the house, I’m sorry, but it’s time to get over it. No, I take that back. I’m not sorry, but it is time to get over it.

Let’s delve a little deeper into this issue of school. Many of my friends who complained about school last fall (and, actually, all throughout the year) were Christians. Honestly, they could not have a better mission field–maybe teachers can’t talk about Jesus, but kids can! I know an eight-year-old who takes her Bible to school and reads it on the playground to the other girls, and I also know eighteen-year-olds who groan and gripe about getting up in the morning to go to school. Something is wrong with that picture.

The two major complaints I seemed to hear were complaints about friend drama, and complaints about homework (God forbid someone tell me that I have to do work *shudder*). I realize that I might not always know the situation, and sadly, many people are being seriously bullied. But in most cases, my friends were sharing the whooole situation on social media, and they were making a huge deal of out petty things. Correct me if I’m just an introverted homeschooler, but although the social aspect of school is great and probably beneficial in many ways, the point of school is to learn and get an education to prepare you for the real world–where, I hate to break it to you, you’ll have to work. Like, work a lot. And again, I’m preaching to the choir here. Even though I love learning and I enjoyed most of my classes, I certainly have complained about homework volume before–probably even on this very blog. My bottom line here is that even if you don’t love learning or you have some friend troubles, you have to go to school anyway, so get over it and recognize it for the privilege that it is.

So, what do we do about it? How do we combat this sense of entitlement that seems to have permeated our culture to the point where it’s completely normal and accepted and even smiled upon? First of all, we need to stop basing our worth in our material things. Then we need to differentiate–really differentiate–between needs and wants. If you can, I’d highly encourage you to go on an overseas mission trip to help you understand this difference. If you can’t, well, we can all start to cultivate a spirit of gratefulness for our many blessings. We can pray for those who don’t have as much as us. We can actively try to get rid of the mindset I deserve a nice car and my parents should buy it for me. Look, you are rich. Considering the demographic that typically reads my blog, I think that this is a statement I can make with a great degree of assurance: YOU are RICH. And I do mean rich in the financial sense. Go here and enter your family’s yearly income. Do it. Then come back here and complain about all your riches.

I realize this post is different than my usual posts. I realize it’s kind of passive-aggressive. I realize that, well, I sound angry in this post. But it’s because I am angry. I’m angry about the girls in India who aren’t allowed to attend school and I’m angry about the people dying of preventable diseases in Africa and I’m angry about the children in my own county who don’t get enough to eat. I’m angry that a large part of the world and the church, including myself, just sit back in our air-conditioned houses and do nothing. We are entitled, and it’s driving me crazy. What am I going to do about it? I’m not sure yet. But this post is a start.

This post has been in the works for many months and I want to hear your thoughts. Do you notice this sense of entitlement in yourself and other people you know, especially teenagers? Were you shocked at how your family stacks up on the Global Rich List? (I was!)  How do you propose to combat entitlement and the I-deserve-it mindset?

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Writing Tag!

Laura at FlowersInMyBasket tagged me (a long time ago… oops) in a super-fun writing tag that I can’t wait to share! Go here to read her answers (and follow her blog while you’re at it), and keep scrolling to read mine!

1. What genres, styles, and topics do you write about?

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Um. EVERYTHING? The three genres I write the most are probably YA contemporary, YA dystopian, and historical fiction. I also can’t write a story without including the sky/the stars/astronomy in at least some small way.

2. How long have you been writing?

The first “story” (I use the term very loosely) that I ever wrote was when I was around four; I dictated it to my mom. Things just took off from there, I guess, and I’ve been writing feverishly ever since!

3. Why do you write?

I write because I can’t NOT write. Seriously, I’ve tried to stop writing before, and it was torture. Stories just won’t stop writing themselves in my head, and I have to get them out. I write because I love words, I’m passionate about stories, and I have a lot to say.

4. When is the best time to write?

I write best either first thing in the morning (because I’m more likely to be awake and alert) or very late at night (because the house is quiet and it’s dark and I don’t know, I just feel super creative when I’m supposed to be asleep?).

5. What parts of writing do you love? What parts do you hate?

I actually LOVE editing. Like, seriously. I know a lot of people hate it, but I really enjoy fine-tuning my stories and watching the end products come together. As for what I hate, I don’t hate plot bunnies themselves, but I hate that I allow myself to get distracted by them. 🙂

6. How do you overcome writer’s block?

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(I couldn’t choose between Edmund and Ron, so enjoy them both.)

You’re asking me this? Uhm. I don’t? Like, seriously, I’m the worst at this because I just quit writing and get up and walk away. I once read that Gail Levine said you should “write junk” when you’re stuck–open a blank document and just type whatever comes to mind. “My thumb itches and it looks like it’s about to rain. I will never forgive J.K. Rowling for killing so many of my favorite people. I have a ton of homework to do.” Which is a great idea in theory, but I don’t actually do it.

7. Are you working on something at the moment?

Yes! Outside of my writing job and entering short fiction into some contests, I’m outlining my novel for camp. (EEP.) I’m supposed to be editing Angelica, but I’m–not. Things are so crazy right now with my new job and a new puppy and VBS coming up at church that I decided to just focus on preparing for NaNo.

8. What are your writing goals for this year?

Refer to this post!

Since I waited so long, it looks like pretty much everyone has already been tagged for this one. If you haven’t been and you want to do it, be my guest! Regardless, choose your two favorite questions and answer them in the comments!

You Can Do This (Book Review)

I enjoyed You Can Do This by Tricia Lott Williford SO much! It was a quick read, and I liked the format in which it was written. Also, not gonna lie–a few times I almost cried.

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Here are several of my takeaways from this book, which is about having confidence…

–“I have complete confidence, O God; I will sing and praise You!” Psalm 57:7

–Any confidence I have in myself is ultimately confidence in the One who made me.

–Don’t get too caught up in WHAT you are: just worry about WHOSE you are.

–Confidence is a belief that there is a place for us. We are welcome beside Him.

–Artists: follow the creation model of our Creator. Create, call it good, and then rest.

–All people have chapters of their life that they don’t read out loud.

–Healing comes in telling the story a thousand times.

–For the sake of humanity, be a person who smiles.

–One of the foundational pieces of a confident life is being who you will be, offering your own beauty into the world, and believing there is a place for it in the darkness.

–The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.

–Confident girls set boundaries that are clearly defined and that they don’t explain or apologize for. Learn the art of saying no. Boundaries and balance mean you know what you need as far as time, scheduling, and relationships.

–The art of managing many things is to never drop the same thing two days in a row.

–Harry Truman, after writing an angry letter, would put it in his desk for twenty-four hours. Then he would decide whether or not to mail it.

 

Whew! That’s not even half of the stuff I’d like to discuss, but I want to leave some surprises for you to discover when you preorder this book on Amazon. Get to it!

Do you struggle with having confidence in who God has made you to be? Is it difficult for you to set boundaries in your schedule and relationships?

May: Month in Review

May was just craziness. There was a whole lot of softball practice and working out, but no tournaments (there were supposed to be tournaments–but that’s another story). For a few weeks, I had a lot of energy (I went to the batting cages so much, one of my coaches asked if I’d been taking steroids because of how my hitting improved)! But then I was sick for two weeks; I felt so miserable at one point that I didn’t leave the house for seven consecutive days. I was finally diagnosed with an ear infection, so that was great–very enjoyable.

I took the kids I nanny out for ice cream and to the pool several days. After nannying five days a week for two years, that job ended this month; it was a good two years, but I was ready to move on. I went to a fun pre-graduation get-together, saw a friend’s musical, made a day trip to TN to hear my grandfather’s concert, made a day trip to Woodstock with a friend, began working with a local nonprofit called Next Generation Focus, had a Mother’s Day picnic that involved cannolis and playing with goldendoodles, went to dinner with friends, went to lunch with a teammate, and went to Mississippi for six days to visit my grandparents–a trip that involved lots of pie, a guided synchronous firefly walk, sailing on my uncle’s catamaran, a cute popsicle shop with friends, and a Memorial Day get-together at my aunt and uncle’s house (a dreamy summer day of homemade coconut ice cream, riding bikes to the little airport a few miles away, and then sitting under a beautiful sunset). Whew!

Oh yeah, and I also graduated! I finished high school on the second day of May and then I graduated on the thirteenth. I graduated with my homeschool group; there were thirteen of us graduating, and all of them except one were people that I’ve been close friends with since middle school. After graduation I had a small party at my house; it was so fun and special and people gave me so many kind and thoughtful gifts (money, books, journals, gift cards to Panera, a homemade picture frame from a little girl at church, a literal lifetime supply of Jellie Bellies…).

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This month I’m…

Reading: Egg and Spoon, Gregory Maguire. Everything, Everything, Nicola Yoon (did NOT appreciate the ableism). What Light, Jay Asher. Hiding in the Spotlight, Greg Dawson (reread). Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, Jen Hatmaker (reread). The Hidden Oracle, Rick Riordan (reread). We Were Liars, E. Lockhart (DANG). All the Light we Cannot See, Anthony Doerr (finally! Yes, it was all it’s cracked up to be). Rilla of Ingleside, L.M. Montgomery (after avoiding it for years… I knew it would make me cry multiple times, and it did). The Selection and The Elite, Kiera Cass. Steelheart and Firefight and Calamity, Brandon Sanderson. You Can Do This, Tricia Lott Williford. My Thirty Years Backstairs at the White House, Lillian Rogers Parks. A Court of Thorns and Roses, Sarah J. Maas. 17 total.

Listening to: Ubi Caritas, Audrey Assad. Can’t Help Falling in Love, covered by Kina Grannis. Satisfied Stars, Adamusic (a Hamilton and OneRepublic mash-up, aka all my best dreams come true). Come Ye Sinners, covered by Reawaken. Willis Clan covers. Oh What a Life, American Authors (full album). The whole (new) Beauty and the Beast soundtrack multiple times! Touching Heaven, JohnnySwim. Cracks in the Floor of Heaven, Oh Honey (NEW FAVORITE SONG). In Your Arms, JohnnySwim.

Watching: The Amazing Race (#teamfun). Cambria Joy vlogs. CrossFit videos. Bandstand vlogs. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The Brady Bunch. Working with Lemons’ Hamilton In Real Life videos.

Loving: Don’t Leave the Moments Behind by Katherine (Song Beyond Silence). Some Kind of Beautiful by Rachel (Silver Mess). replacing a popular piece of art with something that doesn’t cuss doesn’t make it “Christian” by Aimee (To the Barricade). i, like the moon by Adelaide (down by the willows). 27 Things I Accidentally Did This School Term by Hannah (Hannah A. Krynicki). Do we understand the power of the written word??? — that includes novels and YA // I got fishes by Julia (The Barefoot Gal). All in the Sacrifice by Becca (Becca Liegey). Preparing for a Workshop // Part 3 // explaining your story by Hannah (Ink Blots and Coffee Stains). Rant: Every Christian Novel Ever by Hanne (rockandminerals4him).

I blogged a whole six times this month!: Blue Sky Tag, Woodstock with Madeleine (Summer Bucketlist 2017!), Writing Plan/Schedule/Goals: Summer 2017!, Writing Lifehacks #1: Creating a Killer Antihero, 10 Great Books You’ve Probably Never Heard Of (but need to read) (because they’re great), Fruit of the Spirit Project: Overview!

Writing: I applied for eighteen freelance jobs and was hired for two (one of which was a 7,000-word ebook on the best diet to complement yoga, which I really really enjoyed writing). I entered five contests, submitted to three magazines, had a devotional published here, and didn’t really edit Angelica at all. Oops. But it’s okay! Remember this blog post from a few weeks ago where I listed some writing goals for the summer? Top of the list: getting an ongoing writing job and publishing something in print. Not only did I have a job interview with a CrossFit company for a writing position and receive the job–it pays the exact same amount per month as my nanny job did, which is perfect–but I literally JUST signed a royalties agreement two minutes ago because a publishing company is going to publish one of my stories as a paperback. WHAT?!! A lifelong dream is coming true before my eyes and I could NOT be more thrilled!! I literally have NO WORDS for how good this feels. Stay tuned for details on how you can order your own copy!

Grateful for: Doing laundry in my room and watching John Crist with Mom. Dancing to King of New York in the bathroom with Joshua while straightening my hair. That feeling of putting up a blog post, leaving the computer for literally five minutes, and coming back to half a dozen likes and comments. Joshua coming to my room early in the morning, getting in bed with me, and watching hilarious Andy Griffith clips. Cracking myself up (“dear cousin Bob”) while doing a freelance writing job (I’d been home alone sick for seven hours, so…). The little book “What Jesus Means to Me” I found that belonged to my grandmother (who now has Alzheimer’s) and the fact that the parts she underlined in 1954 are things God has been teaching me this year. The teen worker at an ice cream place who recognized the Time Turner on my keychain as being from Harry Potter (Potterheads unite!). My grandpa financing my tunes of summer 2017 (JohnnySwim, Judah and the Lion, and Hillsong coming soon to my car!).

Overall, May was amazing. I felt restoration and freedom happening in my heart, and I also proved to myself that I can make it in the writing world. If you want something, go get it–I realized that more than ever this month. I can’t wait to see what June will bring my way!

What were your May highlights? Any fellow grads? Who’s ready for SUMMER?!

 

 

 

 

 

Fruit of the Spirit Project: Overview!

I’m starting a new project that I’m SO excited about!! For the next nine months, I’m going to focus on one of the fruits of the Spirit every month. I’ll pray about it, read about it, and look for practical ways to apply it in my everyday life. At the end of the month, I’ll put up a post recapping how things went and what I learned. The schedule will be as follows: June–love; July–joy; August–peace; September–patience; October–kindness; November–goodness; December–faithfulness; January–gentleness; February–self-control. I’m honestly SO stoked to dive into this project and grow more like Jesus. And there’s more: I want to invite you to join me!

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“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” –Galatians 5:22-23

Here’s a lil more context: right before these verses, we’re told that the flesh and the Spirit are contrary. Since we have sin natures, it’s not natural or easy for us to display these qualities–BUT, when we accept salvation, we have the Holy Spirit! “You do not do what you want” (v 17)–I definitely want to display the fruits of the Spirit, but I fail every day.

Also, we’re told in verses 19-21 the things we shouldn’t do:

 “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

We’re told to crucify these things (v 24) and to live in step with the Spirit. As my family would tell you, I’m not a pleasant person to live with–daily, I fail to show the fruits of the Spirit. So I’m asking God to work in me in these specific ways each month!

Again, I’d love for you to join me! In June I’ll be focusing on love (I think it’s no coincidence that love comes first–but more on that later). Like I said, I’ll be praying about how to display love, I’ll be reading verses and listening to sermons on love, and I’ll be looking for ways to show love to others. At the end of the month I’ll be back with everything that happened and what I learned about showing love, and I’d love (HA) (sorry) to hear what you learned as well. Then in July, we’ll kick off with joy!

Two final side notes: one, go read Galatians 5 in its entirety because I can’t get enough of it. And two, stay tuned for Month in Review later this week, because I have a heck ton of exciting writing news coming up–like, I just signed a royalties agreement for my book that’s being published. Whaaaaat?!

If you’re planning to join me on my Fruit of the Spirit project, comment below!

10 Great Books You’ve Probably Never Heard Of (but need to read) (because they’re great)

You can thank me later for extending your TBR list. These are ten of my very favorite books, and I can’t wait to share them with you!

  1. The Emily series (LM Montgomery)

I’m sure you’ve heard of Anne of Green Gables and the books that follow it, but L. M. Montgomery wrote another series that’s just as good (if not better) than the Anne chronicles. The thing I love about the Emily series is that Emily is an aspiring writer–just like me, and just like many of you reading this! However, she was an aspiring writer over a hundred years ago, making me very glad that I have Microsoft Word and Pinterest and Facebook support groups.

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2. Heat, Mike Lupica

Knowing me, we obviously couldn’t get through this list without a good baseball book! Even if you’re not into baseball, this is just a great, well-told story with a central theme of never giving up.

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3. Under the Baseball Moon, John H Ritter

Again–even if you’re not a baseball person, you’ll still love this book. It’s a classic summer story, full of jazz music, skateboarding, and beaches. There’s a touch of magical realism and a girl who loves softball and it’s all wrapped up in a little California town: no better formula for a good book!

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4. Room in the Heart, Sonia Levitin

Of course we also couldn’t get through this list without a Holocaust book. I’m a nerd about the Holocaust and particularly about Denmark and the Danish resistance, and this is a very well-researched historical fiction account of a girl who “will risk everything to protect the people [she] hold[s] closest to her heart.”

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5. Seven Alone, Honore Willsie Morrow

I LOVE books about the Oregon Trail, and I LOVE books about orphaned siblings taking care of each other–so this one is a win-win! I have my mom’s tattered and marked-up copy that she read in junior high, and I’ve read it so many times over the years–it’s definitely inspired many of my own stories.

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6. My Vicksburg, Ann Rinaldi 

Here’s another one of my all-time favorites. I’ve always been a big Ann Rinaldi fan, and I think this is my favorite book of hers–a tale of a young girl’s survival during the siege of Vicksburg (plus I’ve been to the battlefield at Vicksburg so that was super cool).

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7. Risky Gospel, Owen Strachan

Ugh, SO GOOD. I really can’t say enough about this book. If you want to be on fire for the Lord–read it.

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8. Little Men, Louisa May Alcott

In the spirit of being completely honest and forthcoming, I didn’t know this book existed until three or four months ago, but it has taken its rightful place on my shelf of favorite books. Practically everyone has heard of Little Women, but I think it’s a shame that few people know about Little Men, a charming story of the orphan school that Jo March runs as an adult (I want to be Jo March when I grow up).

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9. Guitar Notes, Mary Amato

Many of this book’s Goodreads reviews say that it’s a “light, fun read”–which is true. But it’s also true that it made me cry, and not many books can do that! It’s a sweet little friendship story cocooned in cello concerts and school practice rooms and, well, guitar notes. Read it. You’ll see.

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10. The Chosen, Chaim Potok

From what I’ve heard, many people have had to read this book for school. I discovered it on my own several years ago, and ever since, it has remained in the top five or six books that I name whenever someone asks me my favorite book (and believe me, that’s a hard list to get on). If you’ve been assigned this for school, don’t go into it expecting a boring schoolbook. This is a fantastic story and everyone needs to read it at least once in their life.

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Have you heard of and/or read any of these books? What are some of your favorite lesser-known books? Let’s chat!

Writing Lifehacks #1: Creating a Killer Antihero

*WARNING: This post contains Harry Potter spoilers. Also, none of the images are mine.

Today is the first post in a new series that I’m super excited about: writing life hacks! I’ve never done a post quite like this before, but I’m going to begin gearing my blog more towards a writing focus, so this series is going to continue for quite some time. First topic? How you can create the perfect antihero. Before we get into things, let’s discuss what exactly an antihero is.

There are two telltale signs you can look for to determine whether a character is an antihero or not. First, an antihero is a central character–he or she is one of the protagonists, if not the protagonist, in the story. Second, this character does not have the good qualities you’d expect in a hero. A character must fit both of these requirements in order to be an antihero. A classic example of an antihero is Severus Snape. He’s certainly not the most likable guy; he’s cruel and selfish, and at first glance, you’d probably peg him as a villain. But Snape ends up being on the good guys’ side. The great thing about antiheros is that because they’re so tricky, you as the writer have more space to explore their complexity and really make them a memorable character. Nearly everyone has a heated opinion about Snape, and that’s because Rowling crafted her antihero so skillfully. So how do you create your own antihero? We’re getting there. Just hold your horses.

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Lifehack #1: Put your antihero at center stage.  

We discussed this above, but it’s really central to the whole idea of an antihero: your antihero must be a leading character in the story. Otherwise, how will people get to know and appreciate their complexity? Regardless of whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, it can be very helpful to plot out your antihero’s character development according to all the other lifehacks we’re about to discuss. Keep in mind that it would behoove you to showcase a certain degree of allure–when you’re planning your character, choose bad traits that will make your antihero more appealing than distasteful, and that will draw your readers in because they want to know more.

Lifehack #2: Give your antihero backstory.

Your antihero should not be “bad” just for the heck of it; there needs to be a reason, a method to the madness (really, this goes for all characters, but especially your antihero). Give him or her a background that explains why they act like they do. Snape is cruel to Harry for more than one reason: not only did James Potter bully Snape when they were children, but when Harry came to Hogwarts he was a daily reminder to Snape–who loved Lily Potter–that Lily never loved him back. Just don’t reveal your character’s backstory too quickly–dish it out in bite-size chunks a little at a time.

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Lifehack #3: Let the light win.

At the end of the day, your antihero needs to let the light win. Antiheros are typically conflicted people; it’s a battle between light and dark. If you let darkness win, your character is no longer an antihero–he/she is a villain. For instance, Snape has a good-guy moment in book five, when Umbridge has captured Harry and asks Snape for truth serum. Snape tells her that he doesn’t have any more; Harry, desperate, blurts, “He’s got Padfoot at the place where it’s hidden” (meaning, Voldemort had Sirius). When Umbridge demands to know what that means, Snape says, blasé, “I have no idea.” However, he follows through and sends a Patronus to check on Sirius. So in order to be a true antihero–and so that your readers don’t completely write this character off–your character needs to ultimately do at least something that’s very obviously good.

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Lifehack #4: Make your readers wonder.

Yes, your antihero needs to perform a few good deeds. But it’s completely acceptable (and, to be honest, totally fun) to conceal these good acts under cover of your character’s undesirable traits. For instance, in the scene we discussed above, Snape doesn’t seem very likely to help Harry. When Umbridge asks if Snape has the Veritaserum, Snape replies, “Unless you wish to poison Potter–and I assure you, I would have the greatest sympathy with you if you did–I cannot help you” (Rowling, 745). But then as Snape leaves, he recognizes and acts on the secret message from Harry. The brilliancy of Rowling’s character Snape is that she keeps us guessing, and you can do the same thing with your antihero: make your reader constantly flip back and forth between loving and hating your character. Make them change their belief that your antihero is on the good or bad side. Your antihero can appear to be working for evil, but make sure they have a hidden timetable for good, and make sure you show just enough of that to make your readers curious. In the end, some of your antihero’s actions might peg them as evil, but at heart they should always intend good.

Have you ever written a story with an antihero character? Which lifehack was most helpful? What’s your opinion on Severus Snape? Let’s chat!

Writing Plan/Schedule/Goals: Summer 2017!

I officially graduated high school this past weekend (more on that later, when I have some pictures back), and my five-day-a-week nanny job ends for good in a couple of days. This means that it’s summer, and THAT means that it’s time to get into gear with writing!

I categorize my writing into two sections: freelancing and fiction. In this post, I’m going to lay out my schedule in both of these categories for the next few months; I’m going to talk a little about my WIP’s and a little about my money-making goals (basically: to single-handedly reverse the starving-artist stereotype by this August). Then, at the end of the summer, we’ll take a look back at how things went… and you guys won’t have to yell at me at ALL, because I totally will have found a steady writing job for a popular fitness website and won a huge flash fiction contest and published a 60k-word novel that’s on the New York Times bestseller list. Did I hear someone say overachiever? No? Good. Let’s get into it.

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1. Upwork (one-time freelance jobs).

Upwork is a freelance writing website that a friend recommended to me. I’ve tried out several sites that are similar, but I like this one the best; the rates are pretty fair, there’s a nice variety of jobs, and the site itself is easy to navigate and doesn’t make you pay to use it. Every morning I apply for several jobs–last week I wrote a 7k-word ebook on yoga diets–and I’m hoping that between Upwork and pitching to various publications, I’ll soon have more jobs than I know what to do with. (Also hoping that that doesn’t come back to bite me.)

2. A steady writing job.

If you know of any websites, companies, or online magazines that are hiring copywriters/bloggers/aliens/ebook writers/starving eighteen-year-old writers who don’t have their college degree yet, LET ME KNOW. My goal by the end of August (actually, preferably by the end of July… or, like, by the end of May) is to have found an ongoing, part-time writing job that I can do from the comfort of my bedroom, because freelancing is fickle (let’s all appreciate that beautiful alliteration for a moment).

3. Short fiction.

This category divides into a few sub-categories. First is contests; I enter several writing contests every month, and I plan to continue doing that and hopefully make a little cash on the side. Second, I also submit to several magazines each month, and my goal by August is to be published in a print magazine. And finally, the time I feel the most creative is when I’m listening to music (something like this) and perusing cool photos and story prompts on Pinterest; it’s so much fun and it gives me ideas for flash fiction stories that I can submit to said contests and magazines, so I want to do this at least three or four days a week. HOWEVER, I have to be super-duper careful because this is where plot bunnies come from. Yup, it’s true. Maybe you’ve searched under your bed before, wondering where plot bunnies come from, thinking that they were like dust bunnies and liked to hide in the dark recesses of your room. But I’m here to tell you: plot bunnies actually come from Pinterest. Delete your account now. Except don’t, because then you’d also lose your novel aesthetic boards that are the only thing inspiring you to plough forward with what you’re actually supposed to be doing. Okay, moving on.

4. Angelica.

Have I talked about Angelica on here before? Because if not, I NEED TO. Angelica was my project from late January to early March of this year before I abandoned her in favor of getting high enough grades to graduate high school; she’s a dystopian story, currently 18k words and soon to be 30k words(-ish?? I’m going to call her a novella). My goal is to fill in the gaps and polish her up by early to mid June. I’m considering self-publishing her on Amazon as an ebook (as a general rule, I can’t stand ebooks and they are from the devil–but I’ve written two in the last month and they’ve put gas in my car. So. Whatever works).

5. Florida Market (that’s not the actual title lol).

Remember this story? The one I said I was going to write in thirty days last December? Yeah. That didn’t happen. I only got 7k into my goal of 30k. However, during the last couple of weeks of June, I’m going to revisit that story and outline the rest of it; then, during July, I’m going to do Camp NaNo again and finish this freaking book! I’m so excited, because I really do love it.

6. Warsaw Children.

About five years ago, I began writing a book titled Warsaw Children, a historical fiction story about the Warsaw ghetto uprising. I think it really has potential as a children’s novel, so that’s going to be my August project–to research, outline, and finish the first draft.

7. My new novel.

8. No. I’m NOT going to let myself write ANOTHER novel this summer.

9. Blogging.

You can expect three types of posts on my blog beginning in June: posts about my personal life (fun adventures with friends, like this one), devotional-type posts, and posts about writing (tips, etc). I also have a bunch of ARC’s waiting to be reviewed from books that probably came out six months ago. What can I say–I just like to do everything 100%, and that includes procrastination.

10. My Camp NaNo project.

Finally, I have a lot of work to do on the secret project I did for April’s NaNo (which I didn’t win… oops). By the end of June, I hope to have it completed to the point where all of y’all can buy/read it!

Gosh. That was a lot. To sum up, this summer I’ll be doing freelance writing every day; writing and submitting short fiction multiple times a week; blogging once a week; and completing first/second drafts of Angelica in May, Florida Market in July, and Warsaw Children in August. I realize I’m putting a lot on my own plate, but I like it that way, and I’m so ready to get started!

 

 

If you stuck with me through this whole post (which sounds a lot more organized than I actually am), you’re my hero and I would treat you to lunch at Panera if I could. Leave me some topic ideas for future writing-related blog posts in the comments, + let me know your summer writing plans!

Woodstock with Madeleine (Summer Bucketlist 2017!)

This wasn’t one of my (many) pre-scheduled blog posts for the month of May, but my friend Madeleine and I had such a fun adventure yesterday that I just have to share about it anyway!

I recently made a list of things I want to do/adventures I want to have this summer (see below), and one of those things was exploring downtown Woodstock–a cute little town about an hour away from where I live–with my friend Madeleine.

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Madeleine came to my house yesterday morning, we piled all our stuff into my little car, and we were off! Surprisingly enough, we didn’t even get lost (I’m known for being very directionally challenged). We spent the drive there catching up, and when we arrived in Woodstock, we went to several cute little boutiques.

One of the shopkeepers recommended the taqueria across the street, so we crossed the railroad tracks to find some food. Sadly, the Pie Bar and the Cupcakery–both places that we’d been planning to hit up after lunch–were both closed on Mondays. So we visited some more stores after lunch (including one filled with hippie-esque merchandise that had a very creepy basement. When in Woodstock, I guess). We also found some cute walls and murals!

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There was a fro-yo place that was supposed to open at 2 PM, so we sat in a little garden for a while, waiting for it to open. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect yesterday.

When the fro-yo shop never opened, we were forced to go to the Copper Coin next door. What a hardship.

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We left Woodstock and headed home, singing along to the WOW Hits 2017 CD; along the way, we stopped at an antiques shop (that ended up being closed–everywhere was closed yesterday), a thrift shop, and a cute little produce shop where I commiserated with the owner about trying to make a resume when you have nothing to put on it and bought Fanta in a glass bottle. We also swung by the house I lived in for the first six years of my life. It was such a fun day!

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The best part of yesterday? I felt physically pretty good all day. I had a similar day out with friends last December where I was on my feet all day, and I came home with a huge headache and promptly fell asleep–which has been the norm for well over a year now. But yesterday, after a busy weekend and a long day, I came home and worked on a freelance writing job. Then I went to softball practice, and I really felt fine and had plenty of energy to get me through all of it. Maybe the new vitamins I’ve been taking are working after all!

If you live near me, have you ever been to Woodstock? If you don’t, are there any cute little Main Streets near your house? Would you rather go to the Pie Bar or the Cupcakery?