February 2018 Monthly Wrap-Up

I kicked off the month by hanging out at my friend Brooke N’s house, going to lunch with my friend Jayna, seeing The Death Cure (WHICH WAS SO SAD BUT SO GOOD), and making dozens and dozens of cookies. Then I got the flu and didn’t leave the house for six days; it was AWFUL. I turned 19 on the 11th, but most of my birthday plans had to be canceled because I was still getting over being sick; I did get to go to a Tim Hawkins concert with my dad, brother, and friend Anna, and my parents gave me a Ravenclaw blanket that I love.

Other fun stuff: I hung out at my former youth pastor’s house, went to Helen for the day with Madeleine, practiced at the ballpark with Joshua/Jesse/Anna/Caleb, and then my friends Emma and Hannah came and spent the weekend when I finally got well (it was eighty degrees and we did amazingly fun stuff like watch a movie on blankets in the backyard, and eat scones and fruit for brunch).

My grandmother, who had been living with us since the first of the year, went home at the end of the month. And softball practice started! I spent the whole month dying for practice to start so I could meet my team of eight-year-olds. (The first practices were the same weekend that, two years ago, my chronic illness that is part of what prevented me from playing college ball first surfaced.)

Also, quote of the month from a second-grade Hispanic girl at my nonprofit: we saw a police car go by outside the window and she said, “I hate polices. They always come to my house and take my mom to jail, and it makes me sad because then I don’t get to see her.” It was a stressful month at work because we lost several of our high school tutors, but gained several more kids.

Reading: (not much because I watched the Olympics every night instead) King’s Cage, Victoria Aveyard. All the Crooked Saints, Maggie Stiefvater. Jo’s Boys, Louisa May Alcott (reread). The Doldrums and The Doldrums and the Helmsley Curse, Nicholas Gannon. 5 total (I KNOW, I’M A FAILURE).

Listening to: Marching On, Rend Collective/Hillsong Y&F. 2 AM, Adeline Hill. No Wonder, River Valley Worship. Just the Beginning, Grace Vanderwaal. My Love, Gracie Bee. Right Hand Man, Hamilton.

Watching: The Death Cure and endless interviews with the cast. The Amazing Race. The Winter Olympics, and endless interviews with various athletes. My irl friend Ethan’s new YouTube videos. Emma Abrahamson’s YouTube videos. Kubo and the Two Strings.

Loving: One in-between Moment by Kyla Rain at Sea Foaming. basic [a slam poem] at Burning Youth. journal excerpts + pics 2017 by Olivia at summer of 1999. Interviewing my First Novel by Katie at A Writer’s Faith. ASPIRE: indies taking the world by storm / Keira by Kate at the goodness revolt. {THE GUIDE TO BEING A FULL-TIME DREAMER} how to chase your dreams without ignoring reality or being completely obsessive by Audrey at Audrey Caylin.


I blogged two times this month: “My Bucketlist” and “Cycles (I finished my novel???).”

Writing: I wrote lots of articles; one about Flannery O’Connor, one about unique words, one about my nonprofit. I was supposed to edit Angelica but haven’t really. I wrote three short stories, titled Lost Boy Rules, Safe, and Stone Citadel. I invested a ton of time into a secret project that’s coming TOMORROW. I applied to 13 freelance jobs, pitched four magazines/websites with article ideas, and submitted fiction to 18 magazines. I also had a bunch of stuff published: 5 Ways to Work Out with your Kids for Vitabella Magazine; Love the Local Eats for Cumming Local; Working for the Lord for Reckless Abandon Ministries; and Write Faster: 4 Tips from a Fired-Up Young Freelancer for Making a Living Writing. Go read them!!


Grateful for: Getting a totally unexpected Lush cosmetics package from a friend in Michigan after I’d had the flu all week. Valentine’s day food and presents and cards with my family. Eating praline brownies and watching the Olympics with my family late at night (8:30 is late for me ok). Finally getting to go back to work (at my nonprofit) after being out sick for two weeks. My friend and I having our first softball game back/first practice coaching on the same night and being deliriously excited together. Buying a gorgeous/soft/cute $8 green/gray cardigan that I’ve worn literally every day. MY FRIENDS because they are so. good. Finally getting a pull-up bar installed on my bedroom doorway. Anna coming to see me when I was alone at work and making me laugh hysterically.

What did you do this month? What was your weather like? What are you grateful for?

Cycles (I finished my novel??)

I wrote this blog post on the last day of January and today is the first time I’ve even opened my Angelica document until then. (And I must admit that I have tears in my eyes and literal goosebumps on my arms after reading through all 71 pages of cohesive story for the first time.) But–I’ll be back. That’s the whole point of this post, after all: cycles.

I’m almost done with my YA dystopian novel Angelica.

Typing that sentence feels weird–and scary–and hecka exciting.

Weird because what will I do with myself when it’s done and I’m not spending an hour each day with my characters? Scary because, even though I’m a published author, I’ve never gone through all the agents-queries-etc rigamarole. Exciting because at this time last year, I was getting feedback on a scene from Angelica at a writing group and telling a local author with resignation, “I never finish novels.” And she said with complete confidence, “You will write novels. You will write lots of novels.” For the first time, I feel like it actually might be true.

I started Angelica in January 2017 and worked hard on it for a while; I was at 16,000 words by the end of February. Angelica started as a few hundred-word snippets born from Pinterest inspiration, blossomed into something longer, and then stopped abruptly in March–which is what my “novels” typically do. But for once, I came back. I picked up Angelica again last August. It was so amazing seeing how I understood the story so much better; all the pieces were falling into place. I quit working on Angelica in early October–I basically gave up and just decided it would be a novella–and didn’t start again until the first of the year. I planned to just do edits, but somehow several new pieces of the story appeared and all fell together. On January 31st, 2018, I broke 40k, finished telling the story, and understood the story even more than ever.

I’m learning that I’m not a fast writer. In some ways I’m incredibly fast; when I write a 1,000-word short story each week, it never takes me more than thirty minutes. But with novels, I’m different. I work in cycles. I’m obsessed with a certain story for a month or two, and I get lots done–but then the feeling is gone and I don’t care. I’m ready for another story, another world. The key–which I had not found yet when I was younger–is to keep coming back, cycle after cycle, month after month, until the story is over. Which Angelica more or less is.

Even though I’m over Angelica at the moment, I plan to go through it a few more times and have it ready for a friend to critique by March 10th. I think I’m going to order myself a print copy from Lulu, both as a reward and to help me later when I do another round of edits. Then I’m going to continue to roll with the cycle and focus on other things. I need to finish my two middle-grade novels, Florida Market and Warsaw Children. I also need to spend time researching agents. After that, I have so many new novels to plot. I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a YA historical fiction novel titled I’ve Got the World on a String, but I’ve honestly been bitten by the spec fiction bug during the last several months, and I really just want to write spec fiction. Maybe I’ll write a sequel to Angelica. But then, I also kinda want to write a contemporary a la the short story Shatter Me I wrote last year. Basically, I don’t know! There are so many stories to be told, it’s difficult to narrow down which ones I want to tell.

But the point here is that every writer works differently, and I have finally learned that I work in cycles. Now that I know that, I can hack my own system and write more novels than ever before. I’m so excited–and I hope that before long, Angelica will be traditionally published and in your hands! Here’s an aesthetic to get you excited.




Fellow novelists, how do you work best? Do you bang out a 60k novel during NaNo, or does it take you years to get there? (Either way is fine!)

My Bucketlist

In my moments of spare time recently–which have been few and far between–I’ve been dreaming about exciting things I want to do in my life. This list definitely isn’t complete, but it’s what I’ve come up with so far–both career-related goals/dreams, and vacation/fun-related ones. In no particular order, enjoy my bucketlist!

1. Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando.

Preferably this will happen with Hannah, my best friend who is also obsessed with Harry Potter. I’m planning on this one happening in the next couple of years… as far as traveling goes, it’s very doable since it’s just one state away! I’m dying to go.


2. Vienna, Austria. Copenhagen, Denmark. Prague, Czech Republic. Warsaw, Poland.

Whenever someone asks me where I’d travel if I could travel anywhere in the world, I say Eastern Europe. Ahhh. Holocaust history, beautiful mountains, delicious food… honestly, need I say more? Unfortunately, my Europe tour may be several years down the road because money.

(For more places I want to go, hit up my “travel” Pinterest board… these are just top priority!)


3. Visit where the Narnia movies were filmed.

My favorite movies–this would be so cool! They were filmed primarily in New Zealand; below you can see the location of the battle between Aslan and the White Witch, which was filmed in Flock Hill, west of Christchurch. I also want to visit Cathedral Cove, the site of the Cair Paravel ruins–I love the beginning of Prince Caspian. So beautiful.


4. Adopt lots of dogs.

This will probably begin the very day I move out in a couple of years. I like big dogs–Golden Retrievers, Great Pyrenees (middle) (idk what the plural is??), St. Bernards, and Burmese Mountain Dogs (left). I’d also love a spaniel (right) because EARS, and I’ve decided beagles have their good points too (it’s just that Sophie personally doesn’t have very many of them).


5. Become a foster parent.

I have wanted to do this for years. Whether I do short-term respite care or foster to adopt, this is definitely a path I want to pursue down the road once I’m older and, again, have enough money to support not only myself, but other people too. Ha.

6. Compete on American Ninja Warrior.

If I am ever healthy again, the first thing I’ll do will be to start training towards this.

7. Visit cool libraries.

I don’t have any specific names, but I’ll find some! I’ve been to the Library of Congress, but wasn’t super impressed haha. I’m also going to have an amazing home library.

8. See a Broadway musical on Broadway.

Except all my favorites have closed. Boo. But more will come!

9. Take a road trip across the USA with friends and/or family.

I want to do this SO. BADLY.


10. Write for a national [print] publication.

Preferably a fitness magazine–or, it’d be great to have some fiction published in something with a huge circulation. I submitted fiction to the New Yorker a year ago and they declined me, but we’ll keep trying.

11. Release baby turtles into the ocean.

My mom has done this and I just think it’d be so cool.


12. Be in a movie.

Preferably with lines–not just as an extra. I have wanted to get into acting for the screen for YEEEEARS.

13. Write a script or somehow help in the directing/producing of a big movie. 

Like I said. Filmmaking has always been fascinating to me.

14. Go to the Little League World Series with Joshua.

We’ve been talking about this since 2013, I think. We’ve had our entire itinerary planned out for years, and we are so so excited. Hopefully this will happen within the next three to six years, when Joshua is in high school and when I have more money than I do now HAHA. (Money–and how I don’t have any–is a recurring theme throughout this bucketlist, if you haven’t noticed.)


15. Sign a thousand books that I’ve written.

I’ve signed about forty so far. I think? I’m planning on signing LOTS more.

16. Be on the NY Times bestseller list.

Because, this would just be too cool. Been dreaming of this for years.

17. Get my standing back and front tuck.

I’ve been an avid gymnastics fan for about four years now, and I would love to find the time to take an adult gymnastics class or something.

18. Get my splits back AND take lyrical or contemporary dance classes long-term.

Because I really really miss dance.

19. Go to the Olympics.

As a spectator, hahahahaha. #haileyforsoftball2020

20. Write a nonfiction devotional book.

For the most part, I want to write fiction books; I don’t want to make a living by churning out another devotional year after year. But I would really love to write just one devotional–I have a few ideas bouncing around.

21. Memorize a book of the Bible.

I started memorizing James a couple of years ago, and I did two-and-a-half chapters in English and one in Spanish before I kind of stopped. I don’t want to cheat and do 3 John or something… but I also shrink from the thought of memorizing Isaiah (my favorite book). I’ll have to find a happy medium.

22. Israel tour.

For years now, I have been dying to visit the Holy Land. I mean, how amazing would it be?


23. See the Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany.

The next one is in 2020. Not sure if I’ll make that, but at some point this is definitely something I need to get checked off.

24. Live at the beach.

I don’t know whether this will be long-term, but I think it would be SO fun to rent a condo or cottage on Seaside or Rosemary beach and stay for at least a summer. I could spent the mornings and evenings walking on the beach, and write a novel all day.


25. Release a lantern at a Lantern Festival.

I had some friends who traveled to Alabama and did this last year, but I didn’t jump on the bandwagon quickly enough. I’m obsessed now, though.


What’s on your bucketlist? Anything on here that you want to do with me? All pictures in this post from Pinterest.