August 2014 - further up and further in

Sunday, August 31, 2014

August 2014: Recap

Sunday, August 31, 2014 4
August 2014: Recap
By the end of the year and sometimes even the end of a month, I forget what on earth even happened. Thus, I'm going to create these recaps to showcase what I've been enjoying every month, what happened on the blog, as well as what happened in my daily life.

August was a mixed bag, in that it followed exactly one day after Grandma passed away. It's been good and hard all at the same time. We went to two memorial services for her, one on the 9th and one on the 16th. I got to meet my grandma's sisters, who came out from Wisconsin for the funeral. That was a blessing and I love them so much.

Life has been a weird adjustment, going from visiting Grandma each day to now missing her like crazy. I thought it would be better after the funeral, but instead it's gotten worse, because then you start to miss her. Lately my brain hasn't accepted she's gone, and every time the doorbell rings, my soul thinks, "oh! That must be Grandma here to visit us." We went up to visit her old house for the first time in a while, and as I wrote here, there were touches of her everywhere. 

In other ways, life was good. I met up with a dear friend, Charity (above) for the first time. We went to the cutest coffee shop I've ever been to and I had an extremely fun time. We talked about everything under the sun and even used Beautiful People questions to quiz each other. It was amazing. I have been writing my soul out, returning to blogging, taking tons of Instagram photos, and even picking up my guitar a little bit. (I played Team by Lorde and Superheroes by The Script, in case you were wondering.) On the less fun side of things, my brother had knee surgery and received a giant orange and blue cast. Due to my brother being down for the count, we've started watching Breaking Bad together. It took me a long time to get used to it, but now I love it. (And LOST? We are on the sixth season. It has gone so downhill. I weep for that show.)

I'm not as close as I wish I could be to getting my braces off, despite the hope that it would happen this summer. I'm beginning to hope for the fall, and I've been wearing my bands like crazy. While going to the dentist, I found out one of my wisdom teeth has started to grow in, which is when I realized it's a good thing that I'm getting them out in October.

August has been super hot, and I'm ready for fall to come. Up ahead is my wisdom teeth surgery, NaNo (I hope), hopefully finishing Petrichor, and then getting through the holidays with one less person in our lives. I don't look forward to it, but all at the same time, I'm looking forward to the good times ahead.

On the Blog

I was pretty prolific on the blog this month, surprisingly! I posted a total of 9 times, and most of those posts were about writing. I participated in A Novel Idea more than ever this month, as well as introducing you to Blade via my Beautiful People post. In addition, I talked about Decker & Beau, the writing process, Astrid, Cobie, more of my writing process, and, most recently, almost the entire Petrichor cast.

In other places, I wrote about being both smart and pretty on Radical Notion. This wasn't in August, but since there was no recap for July, I'd like to link you to my piece about my grandma on Grafted Magazine as well. I was able to have this article read to Grandma before she died, and I can't express how much that meant to me. It was also read at both of her funerals. It's a piece incredibly close to my heart.


I started Petrichor back up again after a long wait on August 3rd. I returned to it with a firm resolve to not work on anything else and to finish that baby up. I have written a total of 16,717 words in it during the month of August. Before that, I had a wordcount of 45,747. Now it's 62,464, and it will probably be somewhere in the whereabouts of 100k by the time it's finished.

In addition, I've worked on collaborations with friends, as well as plotting out future novels for myself. Recently, I got a fresh wind for my novel Something About Summer and I'm now developing that. I've also been helping get Issue 3 of Grafted Magazine together (I'm now their submissions manager! Woohoo!)

I also found the wonderful site that is Wix, and have been making websites to inspire me for my writing projects. (Because having Pinterest boards apparently just isn't enough.) Also on the design front, I was able to design a blog for a friend which was really fun and definitely a rewarding experience! It felt really good to design again. You can check out the design, and the blog, out here.


I've started to make monthly playlists, so lucky for you I have some rec's. I was introduced to so much new music by my brother this month, so you may blame this all on him.

american - lana del rey
afterhours - ajr
all night longer remix - sammy adams, b.o.b
classic - mkto
sing - ed sheeran
i'm ready - ajr
superheroes - the script
all this time - onerepublic
stay with me - sam smith

My brother and I also sang a lot of Shake It Out by Florence + the Machine, and just tonight I introduced my sister to Wannabe by The Spice Girls. (It's a classic song, okay? I love that song and sing it loudly. Not ashamed.) This month was also when I discovered Sleeping at Last, particularly their song Saturn, which you can read about here.

On Instagram

I fully expected my Instagram usage to decline due to the death in our family, but I actually posted pretty decently this month. Here are some of my favorite shots.

1. visiting my other grandparents. a bit of sherwood forest. / 2. on the way home from denver. / 3. i love light. / 4. my mom got me a minnie mouse shirt! / 5. the trip to the mountains. / 6. far over the misty mountains cold... / 7. the road goes ever on and on. / 8. me and nature. / 9. a flower arrangement from grandma's first memorial service. / 10. CLIFFS. / 11. dear gosh i love it when the sky is purple. (the people in Lost don't though!) / 12. going 1940s. / 13. a flower at the church for grandma's second memorial service. / 14. rain. it's been raining a lot. / 15. colorado is amazing. it also probably doubles as middle earth. / 16. there is magic around every corner.
1. only rainbows, after rain, the sun will always, shine again. - andy grammer / 2. views like this should be illegal. / 3. when dad offers you french press coffee, the best thing you can do is say yes. / 4. i've decided to make this my journal and write whatever i want in it. i want to try to get back into journalling. / 5. my transformation into a vintage chick pt. 1 / 6. my transformation into a vintage chick pt. 2 / 7. ace and i for national dog day.


Lost declined extremely in season 6, so my brother and I are watching it veeeerrrry sloooowlllyyy. As mentioned, I started Breaking Bad. The writing on that is genius. Also, this month I fell even more in love with Parks and Rec.

I am now on Season 5. I also pulled my brother into it. We often quote Chris Traeger's use of the word lit-rally, right down to the pronunciation. Guess how much we do it? LIT-RALLY all the time!

If you need more "LIT-RALLY" in your life, you may go here
But alas, I must stop now.

(If you haven't watched Parks and Rec, you must.)

Where was I? Oh, I also watched Whose Line Is It Anyway, the first episode of Baby Daddy, and The Middle. Just to name a few. Also! I have a feeling more than a few of you may be happy to know I got on the Sherlock train. All three series' under my belt, baby! But now I have to wait like the rest of you, and these series take far too long to come out! I love this show though, it's brilliant. In addition, my mom, sister and I watched episodes of Heartland like we always have, hit the unfortunate cliffhanger that is the season 6 finale, and then just now were able to catch season 7, episode 1. Cliffhangers are the worst. Why do they do this to us???

Other Entertainment

movies: I don't watch enough movies to make it into its own category, but I watched "What About Bob" with my mom and sister, "Red" with my family, and "Authors Anonymous" by myself. All of them had varying degrees of success, but I'd give them all an average of three stars. (And no, I still haven't seen Guardians of the Galaxy. GAHHH. But Chris Pratt. ♥ And Marvel!) I also rewatched 13 Going on 30 with my mom and sister, and it was just as good the second time. I love Mark Ruffalo. Seriously.

books: I'm also trying to get back into reading, so I put a ton of books on hold. I read Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel, and GAH! That one was amazing. You can view my review of it here. Up ahead on my reading pile are quite a few Sarah Dessen books and some really great reads I'm excited to dig my teeth into. You may read more about said books in September's recap. ;)

In Conclusion

Overall, August, as well as the year of 2014, has been a roller coaster. I won't say it's been good, exactly, but it's drawn us closer together, and, as my mom said, has strengthened us. Thanks for being on the journey along with me, blog readers. ♥

And now, September. Onward.

A Novel Idea: The Petrichor Cast — (Almost) Every Single One of Them

Sunday, August 31, 2014 2
A Novel Idea: The Petrichor Cast — (Almost) Every Single One of Them
left to right: astrid, cobie, blade, ryker, decker, jess

Okay, everyone, buckle up because this is going to be a huge ride. I'm participating in A Novel Idea, a blog meme by Ashley @ Ashley Aspires. I've decided to feature almost every character from Petrichor, since I couldn't pick just one and these questions would be perfect for every single one of them.

Blade, Cobie, Astrid, and Decker have all been featured in past posts for A Novel Idea, but Ryker and Jess have not yet. Ryker is Cobie's boyfriend, and Jess is Decker's friend/love interest. You'll learn more about them here and in the coming installments of A Novel Idea. So without further ado... here we go!

Left to right, first row: Blade, Cobie, Ryker
Left to right, second row: Astrid, Decker, Jess

1. Does your character have any religious views? If so, what are they and why do they believe what they believe? 

Blade: Blade currently doesn't attend church. He had been burned by the church in the past, so now he mostly isolates himself and keeps on his own, a lone wolf. I think he'd probably be an agnostic, in that he doesn't know if there's a God or not. He's open, but for now he's doing his own thing.

Cobie: Cobie goes to church every Sunday with her family, but hates the hypocrisy she sees there. She's currently not a Christian and doesn't have much interest in it at all.

Ryker: Ryker is one of the most open of them all. He'll sit in church and silently absorbs some of what he hears. He's not a Christian in the full sense, but he does like hearing what the sermons preach. He's the kind of person that's open to any and all information and loves learning things, so he looks at faith mostly analytically.

Astrid: My dear Astrid is an atheist. She doesn't believe a God exists, period.

Decker: Decker... oh man, I don't know. He mostly doesn't really care or think about religious beliefs. He thinks there has to be some sort of faith or religion, but he doesn't know what.

Jess: Jess is the one I know the least. I think she'd probably be an atheist.

2. If they’re religious, was it something that was taught to them when they were growing up, or something they found on their own? 

For Blade and Cobie, Christianity was something taught to them as they were growing up. Things when they were older led them away from it, but they have a large history of faith in their families and in their childhood lives.

Oakridge is the kind of town where everyone goes to church, so I think they've all been on a semi-regular basis, except maybe Decker and Jess. This is not a very good indication on the state of their hearts, but they do have a lot of church experience ingrained in them from their childhood years.

This is Blade's vintage camera collection, probably.

3. What are their political views, if any? 
Blade: Blade is oddly similar to Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation. While Blade sees the good government can play in the lives of a community, he hasn't much cared about it for most of his existence. He mostly cares about keeping people safe, whatever form that comes in.

Cobie: Cobie is very much a feminist, she knows that much. She, like almost every other character, isn't old enough to vote, plus politics aren't as big of a deal or as close to real-life politics in Oakridge. So she mostly just doesn't care. She just wants to be free to do her own thing.

Ryker: Ryker is a person with strong moral ethics and beliefs, and he sticks to them. While I don't know whether he'd be Republican or Democrat, I know he'd vote the way he felt was most true to what he believed was right.

Astrid: Astrid votes for whatever she feels will keep her safest.

Decker: Decker is probably even closer to being Ron Swanson than Blade is. He doesn't care what the government does as long as he's free to live his own life without their involvement.

Jess: Jess just votes because she feels it's a duty, but she doesn't give too much thought to it either way. She votes and then washes her hands of it.

Basically, everyone in this book represented here wants to do their own thing. (They also like the right to defend themselves due to the nature of crime in this town.)

Ryker likes newspapers.
4. Are they mostly pessimistic or optimistic?

Blade: He's mostly optimistic in that he can see the good in people. But, he is also a realist.

Cobie: Cobie is an optimist, but she also desires for people to be honest, no matter how much that honesty hurts. She doesn't like trying to pretend everything's okay, or denying that there are problems. In that case, she's probably a realist as well.

Ryker: Ryker is an optimistic analyst who sees the good in humanity and just likes to take in whatever information the world has to offer.

Astrid: Astrid has a pessimistic outlook.

Decker: Decker is a pessimist and so dang realistic.

Jess: She is logical, mostly, which definitely comes with an edge of pessimism.

5. What do they believe will make a person successful in life?

Blade: Hard work.

Cobie: Having fun.

Ryker: Trying your best.

Astrid: Avoiding hellish circumstances.

Decker: Being brave.

Jess: Caring about people.

if the sky comes falling down, for you, there's nothing in this world i wouldn't do. - hey brother, avicii

current wordcount in Petrichor: 

62,464 / ~100,000

Do your own version, and get to know your characters, by participating in A Novel Idea! Simply click below. ;)

A Novel Idea

Disclaimer: As a writer, I like to make mood boards on Pinterest. As such, I often end up using images from other photographers on my blog and elsewhere in order to convey the feel and atmosphere of my writing. Due to the nature of the internet, it is often hard to find the originators of these images, though I would love to credit them if at all possible. If you own one of the images seen in this post and would prefer it not to be used, or would like me to credit you, please email me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Novel Idea: Behind the Scenes

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 0
A Novel Idea: Behind the Scenes

It's A Novel Idea time again! This week the blog meme is doing something really fun by asking more questions about writing styles and the actual writing process. In addition to getting to know your characters and novel, A Novel Idea is also dedicated to helping others, and yourself, get to know you as a writer. Ashley will be providing writing style-related questions once a month. I'm excited to answer these!

I've decided to title at least this post "Behind the Scenes" because I think it will provide good insight on the behind-the-scenes of myself and my writing!

So without further ado:

A Novel Idea

What are 3 books you’ve read more than 3 times? Is there a reason you keep re-reading them? What do you think it is about these books that keeps bringing you back? 
(All of these are series instead of just one book. I do apologize.)

The Chronicles of Narnia is one, definitely. I've been a huge Narnia fan ever since I was young. The magic of returning to Narnia is one I hold on to tightly, and I love everything the book has taught me about Aslan and faith. It's one that's inspired me a lot.

I've read The Hollywood Nobody series by Lisa Samson several, several times--countless times. The quirky, funny writing style won me over. So did Scotty. I adore her. She's one of my favorite, favorite characters ever. Even though the series is set in present day, it sweeps me away to another world every time. It's magical. I love it, and it's what I aspire to when writing my contemporary novels. (This book also inspired me to read The Great Gatsby, which is one of my favorite books.)

Another book series I've read a million times is the Miss Match series by Erynn Mangum. I've read these backwards and forwards, so many times. While I haven't read them as much in recent years, I loved these with a passion when I was younger. The wit was what got me. The humor is spot on--the books made me laugh out loud so many times. That's inspired me to make my own writing sarcastic, witty, and funny.

What do you do when you get an idea for a plot, scene, etc, when you are at a place you can’t sit down to write it? 
I daydream about it, and try to jot down the idea so that I'll remember it later. Sometimes, if I'm in bed, I'll get up and feverishly scribble notes on my notebook or my iPod. And then I try to get to a place where I can write it as soon as possible. ;)

What do you think is your strongest suit as a writer? Do you make your characters believable, your plot interesting? 
I feel I may have some trouble with keeping myself and my readers interested in plots, but what does carry my stories through--and keeps me returning to them--is my characters. They've become more and more real to me the more I write them. I've been told a couple different times, even by some of you dear blog readers (thank you so much, it really means the world to me), that my characters seem to be real people. I don't know how I managed to make them so real, but what I do know is that I just end up treating them like they are real. Writing, now, feels less like coming up with a story, and instead feels more like discovering a story as it unfolds.

I'm not immensely confident in my prose or descriptions, yet, though those are improving and I do appreciate the rare bits of beauty I manage to come up with. But one thing I do love is my banter, and my characters' witty comebacks. Humor in writing is something very important to me, and that's one of my strengths that I value and try to hone. (Hone is such a weird word, by the way.)

What genre of writing do you prefer to write? What are your goals as a writer? Do you want to publish, or do you just do it for fun?
I write a lot of things all over the board. Contemporary and speculative fiction are the genres I tend to stick to. Overarching plot themes do run throughout most if not all my novels, which would be themes of adventure and beauty. My characters are often searching or experiencing Something bigger than themselves, whether that's love, faith, or just trying to stay alive.

My goal for the near future is to just get my writing out there, whatever form it comes in. I'm trying to submit articles to more places and grow in my writing and as a person. The eventual goal is to get published. It's been a dream of mine ever since I was younger. Right now, I'm working on actually finishing novels so I can polish them up and start querying.

One thing I hope I never lose, though, is writing for fun. It's kind of a double-edged sword. I do want to get published, but I also write because it's fun and I can't stop. I hope it never stops being an enjoyable experience for me, and keeping it fun is a priority of mine. While publishing is a definite goal, if it takes the fun out of writing, it won't be worth it.

 (I always was so very writely.)

// Check out A Novel Idea at Ashley Aspires! //

all photos in this post, with the exception of the A Novel Idea graphic, were taken and are copyrighted by me.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Novel Idea: Cobie

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 4
A Novel Idea: Cobie

A Novel Idea is a weekly blog meme by Ashley @ Ashley Aspires. To join this week's edition of it, head over here to get started. Once you begin, I'm sure you'll be hooked!

Today for A Novel Idea I'm featuring another character from Petrichor, one of my main characters, Cobie Stirling. She's 17 years old and the daughter of the sheriff in town. She's incredibly outgoing and borderline crazy. She's always looking for the latest thrill, whether that's rapelling down a cliff or walking out of the house to a crime scene at 3 am with no weapon. (She has done both.) She thrives off of adrenaline and excitement.

Though she may seem flighty, her love for her family and friends is deeper than it appears. Her kryptonite is her six-year-old brother Tommy, who has her wrapped tightly around his finger. Her boyfriend, Ryker, is incredibly important to her, and she wouldn't be able to bear losing him--they're two peas in a pod. She also would do anything for her friends. (And her friends include Blade, Decker, and Astrid.)

Her relationship with her parents is strained, and she often feels too confined by their rules as well as the strict atmosphere of the town she lives in. Her ultimate desire is freedom, and she will (sometimes unfortunately) attempt anything to try to reach it. She would love to live wholly and bravely with the wind at her back as she seeks her next adventure.

1.1 - How do they treat those around them, in general? Are they nice, rude, reserved?
Most of the time, Cobie is reserved, especially around adults. However, in many situations, her impulses often get the best of her and she can come off as rude, whether she meant to or not. She generally keeps herself quiet and somewhat standoffish around people she doesn't know, particularly adults or people she's immediately judged and believes won't understand her. Sometimes, her quick tongue and passion for debating things will end up making her talk more than usual, however. ;)

1.2 - Does their treatment of others depend on how well they know them?
Yes, absolutely. She's completely laidback around her closest friends. She flails around and is extremely loud around them, saying anything and everything that comes to mind. She is 100% herself around her bestest friends.

Speaking of which...

2.1 - Who is their best friend, or friends?
I'd be remiss not to mention her boyfriend Ryker, whom she's known (and dated) since she was 14. Though they are dating, they remain the best of friends as well. In addition to that, Blade has been around for much of Cobie's life and is her honorary older brother.

Cobie has mixed feelings on Astrid, though she hangs out with her due to Astrid's friendship with Blade. She wants to like her because she knows how Blade feels about her, but they haven't clicked just yet. Cobie also recently met Decker, who she will continually run into and become friends with as well. They have a brotherly-sisterly-yet-I-am-unsure-what-it-is-exactly vibe going

2.2 - Do they bring out the best in your character, or the worst?
The best, definitely. They support her and raise her to a higher level, and she might not be exactly who she is without them.

2.3 - Are they a partner in crime, or a partner in good? ;)
Partner in crime! Cobie is always down for mischief-making. ;)

3. - Have they ever been in love? If so, did it last, or was it just a fling?
Yes, she has, with Ryker and Ryker only. It's definitely not just a fling, though some people thought they wouldn't last. Their loyalty and relationship completely defies Cobie's usual flighty nature. Nevertheless, they're committed completely to each other. Cobie adores him and would be devastated if he left. She wants to marry him and he's her everything.

4. - Who do they despise most?
Unfortunately, her mother and father. Her mother often brushes over the important things in life, while her dad largely ignores her altogether. Their relationship has been a rocky road and Cobie's rebellious ways have not put her on good standing with her parents. Conversely, her outlook towards her parents is not good either.

5. - Do they tend to argue with people, or avoid conflict altogether? If they avoid it, why?
Cobie will often argue with people, yes. She has a passion for debating things and being right. Sometimes she avoids conflict, especially with Ryker or with others. She will pick a fight with her parents, but if she has something serious between Ryker and her, or her and Blade, she would possibly ignore it, depending on what it is. She'd be afraid that fighting could lead to the end of their friendship. Losing them would destroy her, and she's terrified of that.

x x x x x

Be sure to check out A Novel Idea at Ashley Aspires!

A Novel Idea

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Novel Idea: Astrid + Completing a Novel in 80 Days

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 1
A Novel Idea: Astrid + Completing a Novel in 80 Days
Today I'm participating in A Novel Idea, a link up by Ashley @ Ashley Aspires. Check it out by going here or by using the button below!

I've been knee-deep in the first draft of Petrichor (the book Blade and Decker are from), so today you get to meet another character from that dear old novel of mine--Astrid Shields.

Astrid was the first character I came up with for Petrichor. Originally she was the main character, but I actually hated her at the very start of NaNo, so I switched the POV character to Cobie, who you'll probably meet in a future blog meme. I wrote from Astrid's POV, too, though, and over time I've become a lot more fond of her than I used to be.

Her personality is pretty tough-as-nails. Some experiences she went through in her past, though the details are fuzzy, have left a mark on her. She has little patience and doesn't make friends easily, though the only person able to see through her armor would be Blade. One of my first scenes with her was at the shooting range, and that's a perfect example of the kind of person Astrid is.

She lives in a house in Oregon with her three brothers and her mother. Her mom has taken a page straight out of The Hunger Games's example on how to be an absentee mom, so Astrid ends up caring for her brothers most of the time. They bring out her (small) soft spot.

Her personal style is jeans, boots, and white henleys, and she often keeps a gun in her pants. It's her security blanket, as it were. Though she'd hesitate to shoot anyone, she does know how to use it.

I'm not sure how else to describe her, so let's just dig into the meme questions, shall we?

A Novel Idea

What do they consider the most important thing they’ve done so far in their life?
Astrid isn't big on personal achievements, in that she doesn't often think about them. Fighting off her paranoia, PTSD, and anxiety attacks has left her pretty proud, although she often relapses and the struggle is far from over for her. Another thing she's proud of herself for doing is learning how to shoot a gun and take care of herself. Achieving independence--though the level Astrid takes it to is extreme--is something she's glad she did.

What is their greatest regret?
Her greatest regret is a relationship she was in a few years ago that left her scarred. She wish it had never happened.

When was the last time they were really, really frightened?
It could be anywhere from two days ago to two seconds ago. She had a traumatic event happen to her and every so often, her mind relives it, and it terrifies her.

What was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to them?
Going to church drunk when she was seventeen.

If they could change one thing about their past – and only one thing – what would that be and why?
She would run as fast as she could away from the man--her ex-boyfriend--who took away several pieces of her and left her, in her opinion, broken.

x x x x x

In other news, I've finally discovered that when I apply myself to one novel project, it goes a lot faster. I know, shocker, right? This should be obvious, but it's finally "clicked" with me. Thus, it's my goal to finish Petrichor by November 1st, just in time to start NaNo. As of today, that gives me 80 days, which works out to 600 words a day. Barring unforeseen circumstances, I think I can do it, and I'm sure going to try. Wish me luck! 

Oh, and... it helps to write every day, too. Yes, yes, I know. Another obvious fact. It's all clicking into place now, finally. I'm learning!

So that's my latest writing adventure! Keep track of my progress at MyWriteClub and my sidebar. And what writing project are you working on? I'm cheering you on, too!

hey brother, there's an endless road to rediscover / hey sister, do you still believe in love i wonder? / oh, if the sky comes falling down, for you... there's nothing in this world i wouldn't do. 
- hey brother, avicii

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

you taught me the courage of stars

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 3
you taught me the courage of stars

On one of our most recent Christmases, there was a bonfire, and I wanted to go see it. I almost didn't, but then my beloved grandma lent me her own coat and pushed me out the door.

I'm incredibly grateful. Without her, I wouldn't have one of my favorite memories, which is sitting around a bonfire and looking up at the stars. The picture above reminds me of what the sky looked like that night.

That was the kind of person Grandma was: a relentless encourager. She inspired everyone to live boldly. I can only hope to be like her.

On Sunday, we went to the mountains to where my grandma used to live. I believe it was one of her favorite places, and it seemed like touches of her were around every corner. 

I'm not sure what exactly to say. Her service was on Saturday. It was a time of mixed emotions. If I could sum it up, I'd say this whole thing has been good in some ways and impossibly hard in others. I never wanted to lose her. But, since I did have to, this is one of the best ways she could have gone. I am immeasurably grateful for the visits we spent and the time we had with her.

But it's hard not to go to the mountains and see her everywhere. Especially at her old house. The decorations she put up; the things exactly as she left them. It made it hard to breathe some of the time. I didn't cry until I got home. I had been okay while we were up there, but when we got back, I felt really awful about the visit.

Now that I've had time, I'm grateful for the visit. We pulled off by the pond near their old house, and I sat there taking pictures and the water calmed my soul. I'm sure Grandma walked past it tons of times. I wonder what she thought when she was looking at it, too.

It's incredibly hard. I'm going to say that. I miss her so much. I want to follow that up with "I'm glad she's in a better place," because I am. But some days, it doesn't quite dull the hurt. Actually, most days, it doesn't even touch it.

Life resumes to normal tomorrow, and we'll keep going forward, like we always do. In a way, it's weird for life to continue because there will be a hole that will never be fixed. Even at her own funeral, someone was missing--her. And I feel that absence almost every minute of every day of my life. I probably will for a very long while. She was too special to not be missed.

She has been one of the most important parts of my life, and I'm so glad to have known her. I'll probably always see that pond and the mountains, and think of her and how much she loved life, and, as the song Saturn by Sleeping at Last says, how beautiful it is that we even exist.

You taught me the courage of stars before you left. 
How light carries on endlessly, even after death. 
With shortness of breath, you explained the infinite. 
How rare and beautiful it is to even exist. 

I couldn’t help but ask 
For you to say it all again. 
I tried to write it down 
But I could never find a pen. 
I’d give anything to hear 
You say it one more time, 
That the universe was made 
Just to be seen by my eyes.

-- saturn, by sleeping at last
(thanks so much to caroline 
for sending this to me!)

The above song was sent to me by a friend right after I got home from the mountains. I feel like it was written for Grandma. Because... Grandma Ruth, this song is exactly what you did. You taught me the courage of stars, teaching me the love of God. You showed me how beautiful life truly is, and with shortness of breath explained the infinite. I didn't have a pen to write it all down, but I will always remember.

Thank you for all you've said to me, and what you taught me by just being there. Love you.

last two photos copyright sky destrian 2014.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Beautiful People: Blade

Wednesday, August 06, 2014 4
Beautiful People: Blade

on the day you wake up needing somebody
and you've learned
it's okay to be afraid
but it will never be the same
- ellie goulding

i'm breaking in, shaping up
then checking out on the prison bus
this is it, the apocalypse
- imagine dragons

Today for Beautiful People I'm featuring Blade from my novel Petrichor, and just to forewarn you, I have a lot of FEELS about this character (as you can probably already tell by the angsty lyrics I quoted).

So, Blade. How do I find the words to sum up Blade?

He makes me very ... well, sad.

But also... happy.

And overall, he is just GREAT.

(Yes. That was an excuse to post all the Tyler Hoechlin pictures. I'm not even sorry. Okay, maybe a little. But not really.)

Now for the background: Blade was expected and unexpected all at once. Both Blade and Decker were ideas I wanted to include in Petrichor from the beginning, but never knew how to. In the first 4,000 word long failed draft, I had two characters named Blade and... Adam Levine. (Adam Levine's character became Decker and got an actual name, thank goodness.) Originally, they were side characters, and they were brothers. Now they're no longer related, but they still play a huge part in the current draft of Petrichor, and I am so grateful that they decided to take center stage. Blade was someone I wasn't expecting to become one of my main characters--or a point of view character at that--but I'm so glad he did, because I love him so much.

Blade is a tattoo artist living in Oakridge, and I really dig the legitness of his profession. ;) (Did that sound weird?) He's close friends with my main character, Cobie, and by extension, the rest of her friend group (Decker, Astrid, and Ryker) as well. He's quiet, passionate, and his introduction started off by him being told to stop taking hipster photos of his food. (With a real camera, no less!) 

Speaking of which, I also need to give him a ton of credit. At the beginning of NaNo, I stopped my 4,000 word long draft that I wasn't connecting with and decided to restart, due to the recommendation of my dad. I just began writing the scene that started off my book: the scene about Blade being a total dork and winning me over. (Because he was taking too many hipster pictures of his food.) Thanks to him, he took a lackluster story and kickstarted what became the amazing draft of Petrichor I'm working on today.

I love him so much.

And now that I've waxed on forever about how much I love this dude, let me answer some questions about him.

1) What does your character regret the most in their life?
Sometimes he regrets not getting out of this town sooner to see the rest of the world. It's his home, and he'll always be tied back to it. He just wishes he had left on a road trip when he didn't have friends, a job, and other commitments to stay for.

I feel like there is a bigger regret too, and I think that would be not telling people how he felt about them, and not living his life with more of an open hand. He's trying to, but it's hard for him.

2) What is your character's happiest memory? Most sorrowful memory?
His happiest memory, in recent years, is opening up his tattoo shop when he was just 18.

For his happiest memory as a child, he only has fragments--a sunlit memory of swinging on a swingset. Waffles with powdered sugar on Christmas morning. But his past isn't a good one. It's--*dramatic TV announcer voice*--very fraught with sorrow. I'm not sure what happened--whether his parents died, or left, or what, but he has no family left. I'm assuming they died, but I'm not sure? His most sorrowful memory is when they died, or when they left, though.

Overall, his entire past is a box he tries to keep tightly locked and shut. He tries to live in the present as much as he can.

3) What majorly gets on your character’s nerves?
Fake people and small talk. Cigarette smoke, as well. Something tells me that the smell of cigarettes ties into his Most Sorrowful Memory (which is officially now a mystery that I will, eventually, solve). When someone is smoking, it makes him freak out because it's so triggering.

4) Do they act differently when they're around people as opposed to being alone? If so, how?
In some ways, yes, in some ways, no. Blade is constantly calm, quiet, and laid-back, whether he's around his best friends, a ton of people, in a professional situation, or sitting at home in his quiet living room. The only difference is, when he's alone, that's when he has too much time to think, and that's dangerous. The past and emotions he tries to keep locked up don't stay away when he's alone. That's why he tries to distract himself with words (reading books), friends, sketching, and work as much as possible.

5) What are their beliefs and superstitions? (Examples: their religion or lack of one, conspiracy theories, throwing salt, fear of black cats.) 
Blade believes that life is worth something, but he isn't sure what. When he was little, around 9, he grew up going to the church just like all the other Oakridge kids; he'd comb his hair and wear a cute little suit. That stopped, when his parents went away, though, and he hasn't been back since. He's been burned by the people there, and he's never seen a need to go back--both for the memories and the lack of desire.

He would probably be an agnostic, and he's not very superstitious. He believes life has a meaning, but he's still trying to find out why and what.

6) What are their catchphrases, or things they say frequently? 
All variations of this phrase: "I'm not in love with Astrid!" "I am not!" "I'm not in love with her!" (He totally is.)

7) Would they be more prone to facing fears or running from them? 
Physically, when the threat of violence comes to Oakridge, Blade is pretty much made for this kind of situation, and to stand strong against these threats. He'll step up as much as he can and do anything needed.

But as for emotional fears, he runs from them absolutely. (Like the fact that he has Very Strong Feelings for Astrid but is too afraid to tell her.)

8) Do they have a good self image? 
I want to say somewhat, but he actually has a low view of himself and he doesn't really give himself enough credit.

9) Do they turn to people when they're upset, or do they isolate themselves? 
He isolates himself, definitely. He'll lock himself up in his house and read tons of theological and philosophical books. He'll binge on them for no discernable reason, except to keep his mind off his problems.

10) If they were standing next to you would it make you laugh or cry?

(But really though. I probably would.)

x x x

If you want to do Beautiful People, be my guest! The linky runs until the end of August, and then on September 5th we'll have even more fabulous questions. Join us!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Beautiful People - August Edition

Tuesday, August 05, 2014 0
Beautiful People - August Edition
Welcome to the August edition of Beautiful People! Yay! It's so good to be back.

If you haven't heard of it before, Beautiful People is a blog meme hosted by Cait @ Notebook Sisters and myself. Every month we post 10 questions for you to answer on your own blogs about your characters. (They can be used as a private resource, but the primary design of this is a link-up.) The linky is below for you to sign. It makes it extra lovely if you go around and visit the other commenters and comment!

Please link back using one of the buttons below:

And now for this month's questions! Many of these were submitted, so shout out to Ana, A Finch of the Soul, and Rachel--thanks!

And... VOILA.

1) What does your character regret the most in their life? 
2) What is your character's happiest memory? Most sorrowful memory? 
3) What majorly gets on your character’s nerves? 
4) Do they act differently when they're around people as opposed to being alone? If so, how? 
5) What are their beliefs and superstitions? (Examples: their religion or lack of one, conspiracy theories, throwing salt, fear of black cats.) 
6) What are their catchphrases, or things they say frequently? 
7) Would they be more prone to facing fears or running from them? 
8) Do they have a good self image? 
9) Do they turn to people when they're upset, or do they isolate themselves? 
10) If they were standing next to you would it make you laugh or cry? 

Now go answer, and have tons of fun! Because yes, having fun is mandatory. ;)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Novel Idea: All About the Writing Process

Sunday, August 03, 2014 7
A Novel Idea: All About the Writing Process
A Novel Idea

A Novel Idea is a weekly blog meme for writers hosted by Ashley @ Ashley Aspires. Please do check it out! I really love the questions for this week; they're all really great and I'm so excited to be able to share my answers with you!

What does your writing process look like? Do you sit down and plot your story before you start writing, or do you usually start writing before you plot?
It honestly depends, but some of my favorite novels have started without any prior plotting. While I do outline sometimes, and have in the past, I haven't actually sat down to plot out an entire story, point by point, in a long while. I really like seeing where the story takes me. I do generally have a basic idea of where the story is going, though, that I hold on to mentally. Mostly, I keep track of plot events by random notes, my own mental thoughts, and Pinterest boards. I generally get more excited about a mood or setting or feeling of a story rather than plotting out every little detail of it.

Do you have any strange writing habits? Such as, only writing in one certain place, etc?
Great question! The only thing I can think of is that often I do some of my best writing in the quietest hours of the night, usually about 12 am to 3 am, though on very rare occasions I have found myself writing at 5 am. Writing in the early morning has often been really inspiring for me. Also, I don't do this 100% of the time, but I really love writing by the window facing out to our backyard. This isn't exactly strange, though. ;)

Do you usually write on paper or on the computer? (Or on a typewriter?)
I really used to love writing on paper and typing it up later, but I can't as much anymore because my arm cramps up too badly. So I honestly mostly write on the computer, in Google Docs. (Though I will make notes and such by hand sometimes, and they often end up as doodles.) I have also occasionally used the notes app on my iPod when in a pinch, which is really helpful!

And dude, owning a typewriter and writing on it is a life dream of mine! Seriously, that would be awesome.

What authors inspire you to write better? Is there an author you’d like to be like?
I'd really love to be like the greats, of course--Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and although I haven't personally read her books, J.K. Rowling. Additionally, Suzanne Collins, with The Hunger Games Trilogy, and Maggie Stiefvater, with The Scorpio Races, have both influenced my writing style and encouraged me to keep pressing on and writing my very best. As for a writer I'd personally like to be like, I choose Veronica Roth. She's fabulous and I love the way she integrated such beautiful messages (and her worldview) into her books without it coming across as preachy. Her books are also gritty, real, relatable, and beautiful in a sense, and I really appreciate that. They balance romance and adventure perfectly, and especially writes about something bigger than ourselves; quests, wars, and love. That's exactly where I'd like my writing to end up on the spectrum.

What advice would you give to people who want to start writing?
I've said this a lot on this blog, but just write. It can be so easy to get caught up in the logistics of it all--what POV to use, what the story details to be. I'd like to encourage you to throw that to the wind and just write what your soul tells you to. That's the heart of writing, honestly. Let your soul bleed onto the pages. Be you, and write about what makes you happy; write about the desires of your heart, and write about everything you want your existence in this world to be. Viewing real life through the lens of fiction provides so much clarity and can help you appreciate life so much more. Write from the bottom of your soul, and you never can go wrong.

Check out A Novel Idea every Saturday at Ashley Aspires!

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Novel Idea: Decker & Beau

Friday, August 01, 2014 3
A Novel Idea: Decker & Beau

(L-R: Decker, Beau. Decker doesn't really play guitar, but the picture was too cute to pass up.)
A Novel Idea is a weekly writing meme run by Ashley @ Ashley Aspires. Check it out by clicking the button below!

A Novel Idea

Today for A Novel Idea I'm going to be featuring two of my favorite boys: Beau from The Angel Novel and Decker from Petrichor. I couldn't decide, so I just decided to shoot for double this week!

(Can you really have too many pictures of Sebastian Stan? I think not.)

First up, Beau. Wow, okay, I don't know where to start. Beau is... well, basically Grumpy Cat. He doesn't like people, and he gives off acerbic responses to everything. Good luck getting him to be nice to you. Or talk to you. Like, at all. He's had one too many bad experiences with the world.

The one person he does talk to is Violet (who I featured last week!), and while they still argue, they have a beautiful relationship. (◕‿◕✿) I love them so much.

Deep inside, he's basically just a sad, lovable puppy that's had one too many lemons handed to him. (And worse, he metaphorically hates lemonade.)

1. Where were they born? In a hospital, in their home, what city?
In a hospital in a town a few hours away from where he lives now. YEAH, I KNOW. SO VAGUE. If it helps, this story is basically sort of maybe urban fantasy and I haven't decided if it takes place in the real world or not, and if so, where in the real world. But to help make up for the lack of knowing, I'll give you other random facts: his parents were very proud to have him, his mom especially. (He took a long time to be delivered. Reluctant and stubborn as always.)

2. Where do they live now? 
A big urban city. MORE VAGUENESS. HOORAY. (But in my head, the place he lives reminds me a lot of the place I live. Which... yeah. Doesn't help either.)

3. Who are the people they are closest to? Family, friends? 
His best and only friend is Violet. The rest of the world is far from his friend. He's basically Sherlock: "I don't have friends." 

4. Where do they go when they’re angry and need to get away?
On very long drives.

x x x

Decker is from my NaNo novel in 2013. He's a side character, but he's quickly taken over the show. He's a... lovable jerk, basically. He works at a gas station and his first introduction is because he's been wounded in a gas station robbery. I haven't actually written a whole lot about him, but he has a huge soul and personality.

1. Where were they born? In a hospital, in their home, what city?
He was born in the Oakridge clinic, and delivered by the doctor at the time. The birth was assisted by Julie Moore, the mother of Astrid, who he gets to know later on.

2. Where do they live now? 
Oh my goodness. I just realized I don't really know where he lives. He lives in Oakridge, Oregon, of course--which is where Petrichor is set. But where does he LIVE.

Probably in a tiny little shack in the middle of the woods somewhere, or a tiny house on main street. Either way, it's a tiny bachelor pad.

3. Who are the people they are closest to? Family, friends? 
He's pretty much a loner, but once Petrichor starts, he gets to know Cobie, Blade, Astrid, and Ryker a lot better. He and Cobie especially hit it off--after they're done bantering ridiculously with each other, that is.

Also, I don't know if you've ever seen Adam Levine's "MOM" tattoo (if not, look it up!), but Decker also has that tattoo. He doesn't get along with many people, including his family, but for his dear mother, he makes an exception and has a very, very big soft spot. He's very close to her and she's the only reason he visits home (also nearby in Oakridge).

4. Where do they go when they’re angry and need to get away?
The shooting range! Nothing helps release anger and adrenaline like shooting at a target!

x x x

Don't forget to check out A Novel Idea--a new one debuts tomorrow! ;) Thanks to Ashley for the fabulous questions!

P.S. - I redid my blog theme, and I adore it! Hope you like it. Stay tuned for a new Beautiful People on the 5th, as well.