March: Month in Review

March was a long and hard month, y’all. There were lots of dark days that resulted in lots of hard decisions. It was also such an important month, though, because on March 7th I took the first steps towards healing and change. I may or may not share more about this in the future, but for now I’ll just leave it at this: I’m expectant to see how the Lord will bring me freedom and restoration during this season!

I bought my first car from my parents this month, which was completely unexpected because it wasn’t supposed to happen until July; my car is a silver Toyota named Dobby after my favorite house-elf. My dad and a few friends had birthdays. Ball season started back–practice and games for my brother, and just practice so far for me. I worked in nursery at church (you have to be 18) for the first of many times to come. Our friends came and stayed for two nights, and I played laser tag for the first time with some other friends, and I had some really good cheese dip at a Mexican place with yet other friends. I cut seven inches off of my hair! Joshua and our friends and I enjoyed doing a paraprosdokian (Google it) skit at the church talent show.

This month I’m…

Reading: Carve the Mark, Veronica Roth (OH MY GOSH I HAVE SO MANY FREAKING FEELS). The Tanglewoods’ Secret, Patricia St. John (reread–so sweet). I Am a Pencil, Sam Swope (really enjoyed). Road to Memphis, Mildred D. Taylor. Sarah’s Key, Tatiana de Rosnay. The Battle of the Labyrinth, Rick Riordan (reread). The Last of the Olympians, Rick Riordan (reread–fave). Girl in the Blue Coat, Monica Hesse. Some Kind of Happiness, Claire Legrand (ugh–too emotional). The Orphan’s Tale, Pam Jenoff. The Giver, Lois Lowry. Little Men, Louisa May Alcott (SO. SWEET. I want to be Jo March when I grow up). Anne of Ingleside, L. M. Montgomery (reread–love love love). 13 total.

Listening to: Kids, covered by the Gardiner Sisters. i can’t breathe, Bea Miller. Popular, Wicked. Closer than you Know, Hillsong. Scandal of Grace, Hillsong. The Schuyler Sisters, Hamilton. Shores, Bryan and Katie Torwalt. You’re Gonna Be Okay, Brian and Jenn Johnson. Great Divide, Humming House. Riptide, Vance Joy. All for One, Five for Fighting.

Watching: Monica Church’s stair vlogs. Maze Runner cast interviews. USAG’s Made in America. Bruin Banter. Soul Surfer. 7th Heaven. Tyler Mount. Beauty and the Beast on opening night with a friend. Old Newsies vlogs. Liv and Maddie (the little girl I nanny and I have been blazing through this on Netflix, and I won’t lie: it’s kind of cute and I kind of have gotten addicted to it). Facing Darkness.

Loving: and somehow, we find acceptance, Madyson Grace. “what’s your editing process?” // how I go through drafts, To the Barricade! How to Liven Up Your Secondary Character, Scattered Scribblings. After the Rain: Lessons from a Stormy Day, True and Pure. a study: birth, down by the willows (GO READ THIS, seriously). Riches, Lead Me to Wisdom. Some Nights, Day-Dreamer, Night-Thinker. How to Do Spring Break: A Comprehensive Guide, rockandminerals4him. Book review // Between Shades of Gray, Thriving Hope. Future Hope in the Midst of Life’s Changes, Katherine (on the Reb). Class of ’21, something much greater. MARCH IS ALL OVER LIKE WOWOWOWOW, the barefoot gal.

My blog posts this month were as follows: Why You Won’t See Me on Instagram Anytime Soon, Dear Batting Cages: Thank You., Looking for Beta Readers! (Shatter Me), Creative Moments of Grace + Pocketful of Promises (Reviews), and I’m Doing Camp NaNo?! 

Writing: I took a break from Angelica to do a couple of rounds of edits on Shatter Me, which I really enjoyed. My story Hope is the Thing with Feathers (click to read) was selected out of thousands of entries in the Story Shares contest as a “Relevant Read” and formatted as an ebook–thank you Story Shares! I entered five contests and had a devotional published here. I plotted a fantasy story, did quite a bit of bookkeeping stuff–researching submission opportunities and places to pitch and HELP I NEED A RESUME–and came up with a super exciting new project that I’m doing for Camp NaNo.

Grateful for: The pistachio pie Joshua made for St. Patrick’s Day, and the banana pie we bought at the church bake sale (I like pie). My teammates. The amazing paintings that my friend Cari made me (see pictures below–I wouldn’t be getting by right now without her, for sure). Buying amazing homemade snickerdoodles from our neighbor two days in a row during the neighborhood yard sale. Driving the kids I nanny somewhere on a beautiful afternoon with the windows down (in MY CAR). Joshua’s teammate’s mom bringing me a blanket when I was cold during an early Saturday morning game. Meeting a bunch of kids from Alaska who came down here on a mission trip. Staying safe during the enormous storm that we had. Being pen pals with Sara. The Google+ community of teen Christian girls with chronic illnesses that I’m a part of. Hammocks.

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What exciting things happened to you this month? What are you reading, listening to, watching, and grateful for? Let me know in the comment section!

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I’m doing Camp NaNo?!

Y’all… I’m doing Camp NaNo!

Full disclosure: even though I have spent 90% of my free time writing for the last ten years, I’ve never done NaNo. Ever. I was always just too busy in November. I wanted to do Camp NaNo this year, but I was going to be out of town for half of it–until my plans changed, and now I’m not. Add that to the fact that I came up with a SUPER. EXCITING. IDEA. for a new project earlier this week (it’s all I can think about), and… I just spontaneously signed up for Camp NaNo!

Here’s the deal, though: this project that I’m so super excited about is kind of a, um, secret. *laughs nervously* But because I’m really bad at keeping secrets, I’ll give y’all a couple of hints: it’s nonfiction. It’s short (the final word count will probably be around 10k). It’s going to require a lot of formatting and editing and marketing, BUT, you’re going to be able to buy it and read it this summer! (If all goes as planned, that is. Which, when does it ever? But I’m going to do my darndest.)

So–just thought I’d pop in and share my exciting news with y’all since I haven’t blogged in a week or two. Things have been kind of rough lately, but I’ll have a Month in Review coming up in a couple of days. Now excuse me while I go try to plot something or figure out, like, what I’m going to write because it hasn’t fully sunk in that I’M DOING CAMP NANO. Oh also, I cut seven inches off of my hair last week. It was a traumatic experience, but I think I’ve recovered, so here’s a pic.


I want to hear from you! Have you done Camp NaNo in the past? Are you doing it this year? If so, what’s your project? (Unless it’s a secret too–in which case, no hard feelings!)

Creative Moments of Grace + Pocketful of Promises (Reviews)

Today I’m reviewing two beautiful journals that will be coming out soon through Bethany House Publishing. Number one has the most beautiful cover I’ve ever seen and is called Creative Moments of Grace: An Interactive Journaling Experience. The journal is designed so that you can use it either alone or with a group, which is really nice. Gayla Irwin, the author, talks about her memories of drawing and coloring as a child and how she realized as an adult that those creative efforts could be so healing. The pages of her journal are filled with cute doodles, devotional activities, and spaces for you to doodle and write as you discover His truth. Each page is unique and meaningful and I absolutely love them all. The one and only thing I didn’t like about this journal was that it’s not spiral-bound; it would have been a lot easier to manage if it was. Creative Moments of Grace comes out on April 4th and you can pre-order it on Amazon here; go do it!

Number two is Pocketful of Promises by Margaret Feinberg. It’s a tiny, cute coloring book; each two-page spread has a Bible verse, space to journal about the verse, and a full page to color. I’ve never been big on coloring, but if anything was going to convert me, it would be this journal. Again, it would have been easier if it was spiral-bound, but no worries. This charming little journal is also coming out on April 4th and, again, you can pre-order it here!

How’s everyone’s week going? These journals came in the mail at a time when I really needed them so that was cool. Go order them!

Disclaimer: I was sent a free copy of each of these journals by Baker Publishing Group in exchange for my honest reviews.

Looking for Beta Readers! (Shatter Me)

I’m looking for beta readers for my current WIP aka my baby: a 7,500-word (10 pages in Word) realistic fiction story titled Shatter Me. If you’re unfamiliar with the process of beta reading, here’s how it works: I email you my story + a few questions about it, you read the story, and then you email me back and answer my questions + tell me what you liked and disliked about the story. In return, you get my everlasting gratefulness and adoration–sounds great, right? Plus if you ever need a beta reader, I’ll be the first to sign up! Here’s the synopsis of Shatter Me:

Ara and Rhett share two things: a love for astronomy and the night sky, and the fact that they’re both shattered and think they can never be put back together. When their paths cross during one sunny California summer, their perceptions of their worlds drastically change. Can they heal each other? Is it possible for them to be put back together, or are they shattered for good?

It’s a story about the night sky and falling in love and being shattered and then put back together more beautifully by the greatest Potter; it has an observatory overlooking a craggy beach, to-die-for Nietzsche quotes about the stars, and a little blue-and-white kitchen where Ara’s older sister cooks amazing food. Cue my happy sigh (mostly about the food tbh). My only two rules are as follows: be honest, and be specific. I’m totally fine with you disliking something, but tell me why you didn’t like it so that I can tweak things. It’s called a work in progress for a reason! I want to complete this round of beta reading by the end of March. If you want to jump on board, comment below or email me at hhudson412@yahoo.com, and we’ll get things rolling!

If this mini-Pinterest mood board doesn’t get you excited to read this story, I don’t know what will. None of these pictures are mine, but aren’t they beautiful!!

Dear Batting Cages: Thank You.

Dear batting cages:

I haven’t been to the ballpark in a few days, but I saw yesterday on Facebook that you were torn down; you’re being replaced with shiny new cages and nets and backstops. I can’t say I’m not glad–I’ve complained about your ratty nets and rusty poles more than once. But I also can’t say I don’t appreciate you. So here it is: our highlight reel.

You were there for my first practice and my first game. In fact, you were probably there the first time I ever hit a ball. I fell in love with softball late, but I also fell hard, and I think you knew from the beginning that you and I were going to be spending a whole lot more time together in the years to come.

You’ve been there for all my best and worst moments. When others only saw the big hits or the big strikeouts on game day, you saw everything behind the scenes. You saw all those times I showed up and put in work, and you saw all the times I didn’t. Remember that time last winter when it snowed, and I came anyway? Your entire ground was coated in ice; I set my tee on home plate, and every time I hit the ball I had to skate across the frozen surface to go retrieve it. My fingers were numb even through my batting gloves and my teeth were chattering uncontrollably–I only lasted twenty minutes. But I have no doubt that those twenty minutes made me a better ball player.

You were there for the sweat and the tears and the days I got discouraged and stalked out, slamming the gate behind me and vowing never to return. If you had a mouth, I think you would have been smiling a little, because you knew that I’d come back the next day–a little sheepish, a little bashful, and a lot ready to work hard.

Then there was that time I got injured; a torn ligament, surgery, and six months of physical therapy. You saw me show up that fall with a team of eight-year-olds, my arm in a cast. You saw me tell them “Great job!” whether or not they made contact, and you saw the longing glances I gave you behind their backs, wishing that I was the one holding the bat. I healed eventually and was back at it, day after day and rep after rep.

We’ve had fun, haven’t we? It hasn’t been all work; softball is a game, after all. There have been long light evenings with my dad pitching to my brother and I while my mom sat outside in the grass and watched; there have been early Saturday mornings joking with teammates before games while our coaches threaten to make us take the necks of our jerseys in our teeth if we can’t just keep our heads down; and there have been all the times when I came by myself and just hit. Ball after ball, bucket after bucket, hour after hour–catharsis for whatever else was going on in my life. I shouldn’t say I “just hit,” because there was really much more to it than that–I sometimes envisioned myself in OKC, wearing an Auburn jersey and whacking one out of the park against Florida to win the WCWS. Or sometimes I just pictured myself at practice the next night on the little county field down the hill, getting a solid base hit down the middle against the annoying new girl on my team who thought she was such a great pitcher. Either way, I didn’t “just hit:” I dreamed. You dreamed with me; I felt it. From the rusty poles to the ratty nets to the holes beside home plate where hundreds of cleats and tennis shoes had dug in, attempting to make their own dreams come true–you were rooting for me. You were rooting for all of us.

And now you’ve been torn down. We have “better” cages at my home park now, and I was excited at first, but now I don’t know. I’m going to miss you, old cages; I really am. In more than one sense, I grew up in you. Some of my best memories involve you. You were watching as I learned how to lay down the perfect sac bunt, and as my batting gloves sprouted hole after hole, and as I messed around with my teammates on those dewy Saturday mornings that we thought would never end. It was with you that I learned about hard work and determination and perseverance and all those things that softball is supposed to teach you. Please don’t worry: I learned those lessons and learned them well.

So this is goodbye, except it’s not. It’s goodbye to your dingy home plate and ripped-up nets and muddy ground, and again–I can’t say I’m not glad. You were pretty old and rusty, friend. I think it was your time. But it’s also not goodbye, and here’s why. Twenty years from now, I don’t know that I’ll be able to lay down a beautiful sac bunt on demand. I probably will no longer have my holey batting gloves, and I most likely will have lost touch with many of my past and current teammates. But the memories? The power of a dream? The value of hard work and perseverance and determination? Those will never leave me. Ever.

Thank you for everything.

Love, Hailey

If you want to hear me wax poetic, just mention the word “softball.” This entire post randomly sprang into my head at eleven-thirty last night when I was in bed trying to go to sleep, so OF COURSE I got up and typed it out on my phone. I’m not gonna lie–I’m pretty proud of it! How’s everyone doing this week? What makes you nostalgic? Any fellow softball players out there? Leave me a comment!

Why you Won’t See Me on Instagram Anytime Soon

Several months ago, I made the decision that when Lent came around in 2017, I would give up social media. Then I promptly forgot about it. This past weekend, I suddenly realized that Lent started this week and, uncomfortably, thought of my resolve of last summer. I wouldn’t have called myself addicted to social media–I simply spent lots of time writing Instagram captions in my head and sending my friends sarcastic Snapchats and stalking people on Phhhoto. Okay, maybe I should have called myself addicted to social media. I told myself last weekend that yes, I was still going to give up social media for Lent, but I wasn’t going to be happy about it. Ha. We’ll get back to that later.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of Lent, it basically works as a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It’s a forty-six-day period to remember the sacrifice of Jesus; it’s a time of reflection, and a chance to focus on furthering one’s relationship with Him. I told myself that I was going to follow through and give up social media, but it was honestly much harder than it should have been. I did away with Instagram, Snapchat, and Phhhoto (I’ve kept Facebook because I’ll have to use the Messenger app during my early-April mission trip, and I’m also keeping YouTube and Pinterest because I use them for school, devotionals, and writing–but I am dramatically limiting my use of all three of them). Prior to deleting the apps, though, I ran through all sorts of justifications in my head–I use Instagram to stay in touch with so many people! I can’t delete it! Eventually, on Monday, I made myself just go ahead and delete the three apps from my phone–why wait? I plan to spend less time on my phone and to simply enjoy making memories instead of always worrying about taking an artsy picture for my Instagram aesthetic. If anyone needs me, they can get in touch with me another way.

On Monday I also began my new devotional plan, which has me spending at least forty-five minutes (preferably longer) with God every morning. Currently I’m reading 1 Corinthians, Psalms, Wild and Free, The School of Biblical Evangelism, and Evidence for Christianity, along with taking notes on the last two and praying a lot! When I came up with this idea, I was hesitant. Between four classes, three jobs, and church and softball, my to-do list is very very long every day–how am I supposed to get everything done if my quiet time takes forty-five minutes out of the time of day when I’m most awake and alert? But so far this week I’ve had that long quiet time and then proceeded to complete everything on my to-do list with plenty of time left over to read at the end of the day. Huh, imagine that.

Last month–during that blissful period when I had forgotten about Lent–I wrote my monthly devotional for The Life on the topic “The Beauty of Sacrifice.” The angle I went for was basically, here I am complaining that the WiFi is out while Christians in other countries are dying for their faith. What’s wrong with this picture? Guess I should go read my own article again. I also saw an article earlier today (on Facebook. Ha. Ha.) that suggested giving up a bad attitude for Lent, so I’m going to add that to my queue as well. No Instagram, no Snapchat, and no Phhhoto–just lots of time praying, arming myself with witnessing strategies, and making a point to be grateful and cheerful. Will you join me?

Do these pictures have anything to do with this blog post or anything to do with each other? No, not at all. But they’re #aesthetic and since I don’t have Instagram right now, you know, I gotta let it out somewhere. Also, please go listen to Battle at Aslan’s How from the Prince Caspian soundtrack because it’s been on repeat 24/7 this week. ALSO also, can our weather stop being so bipolar? Tornado warnings go away. K thanks. Anywho, are you giving up anything for Lent? How do you plan to further your relationship with God in the month of March?