Monday, January 25, 2016

Merely Passing Through

Saturday I returned from a trip out of town where I spent an entire week with my best friend and her family. Getting to spend every single day with your best friend is a dream, especially for this extrovert. We stopped by multiple bookstores (she’s as wild about books as I am), frequented a particular coffee shop, jammed out to a variety of music during the car rides, had long conversations both deep and ridiculous, ate way too much pizza (just kidding, “too much pizza” is an impossibility), and in general enjoyed life away from life.

But now the week is over. She’s returned to college classes today and I’m back home trying to adjust to the norm, and we both have to accept the fact that we probably won’t see each other again until the summer (living miles away from your best friend is the worst). Regular ol’ life has returned and it’s a bit hard to swallow.

I’m feeling rather scattered; I can’t seem to get my mind to focus on anything. I have about a million and one things I need to catch up on and get done, but all I seem to want to do is disappear in an exciting book or just sit on the porch and stare into space. My mind is refusing to settle back into normality.

I think even the quietest of us longs for adventure. Every day life can sometimes be hard to accept. The drudgery. The sameness. We read books and watch television and wish we could go off to other worlds and have exciting adventures with our best friends. After all, fiction is an escapism. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. As J.R.R. Tolkien says. . .

Fantasy is escapist, and that is its
glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it
his duty to escape? If we value the freedom
of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty
to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”

God loves to create, He created everything. And I think we were given that same love and desire. To create. To make new things. To ask “what if?” As long as we are using our abilities to glorify Him, I believe He encourages us to use our creativity to its fullest potential. Sometimes we need distractions from the drudgery of life. But, eventually, we do have to return to normal life.

For so long I never understood why I was dissatisfied with the life I’ve been given. Was I ungrateful to God? Was I just bratty and hard to please? Then, only a couple years ago, I found a quote by C.S. Lewis that made it all clear.

The fact that our heart yearns
for something Earth can't supply is proof
that Heaven must be our home.”

There it was, and has been all along. We aren’t supposed to be satisfied with this life.

That yearning in our heart we feel every day, it’s a yearning for something far bigger and greater than our earthly minds can even imagine.

We yearn for Heaven, to spend eternity with the very One Who created us.

After all, we’re not to be a part of this world, to be so consumed in it that we forget our Lord and Savior.

But this is the tricky part. Where do we balance being content and peaceful wherever God puts us, while also still yearning for Heaven? That’s where the journey comes in.

You know all those books and TV shows we watch that we wish we could be a part of? Guess what. We’re already there. We’re Frodo and Sam taking the Ring to Mordor. We’re Alice falling through the rabbit hole. This life that we live every single day is the journey.

As exciting as these stories are to read, they’re not always so fun for the characters. Every day Frodo and Sam yearned to return home. Their journey wasn’t exactly fun and games. It was downright hard. But did they regret it? Of course not. Because as hard and impossible as it seemed, they saved all of Middle Earth, and in the end they returned home. Had they given up, not taken the journey, Middle Earth would have been overrun by evil.

This world we live in, its dark and sad and sometimes just hard. But this is our journey. The drudgery, the heartache. Every day. This is what we’re meant to do. Sometimes it’s a scary plummet into the unknown like poor Alice. Sometimes its just a seemingly endless, dull walk like much of Frodo and Sam’s journey. There are joys and pain and excitement and the same ol’, same ol’. But it’s our journey.

God put us here for a purpose. We are His warriors. And if we put one foot in front of the other, eventually we’ll find our purposes fulfilled and that we’ve made it Home.

And that, I think, is how we find contentment in this life and longing for the next. The heroes in our beloved stories press on to make the world a better place. To make it home knowing they’ve done what they were meant to do.

It’s not easy. But it’s worth it to one day hear those word.

“Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

I want to be His warrior. To press on through the drudgery. To live through the adventure He has given me and to be grateful and content with the big and small things of life. But to always keep my eyes on Home.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Dear You

You are beautiful.

Sometimes the world will say otherwise. Sometimes labels will be slapped on you and weigh you down. Sometimes those lies will seem an awful lot like truths. Sometimes you’ll wonder what is the point in your existence.

Do you know why you exist?

Because God loves you.

Just as the world is screaming you’re worthless, He’s whispering gently in your ear, “You were worth it.”

Don’t ever apologize for your existence. I know people like that, that seem as if they’re ashamed of even breathing. That they’re just here to get in the way. And they’re the most beautiful, sweetest people I know. I wouldn’t be able to survive without them.

You make an impact on the world. You’re here for a reason.

God CREATED you. Created you TO BE LOVED.

No, we don’t supposed to be caught up in vanity and selfishness. But when we hate on ourselves, we’re hating on God’s beautiful creations. Through Him are we beautiful. Through Him we can rejoice in being put on this earth. Because HE chose to put us here. He has a purpose for every single one of us.

You may think you’re not worth anything. That you’re talentless, a waste of space, ugly, useless. But He gave you a purpose and all the means of fulfilling that purpose.

“I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:
marvellous are Thy works; and that my soul
knoweth right well.”
Psalm 139:14

You are not talentless. You are not ugly. You are not worthless.

You are equipped with everything you need to serve Him. You are wonderfully made. You are a Child of God.

Don’t let the lies of the world darken your light. Don’t let others define you. When we so focus on what the world sees in us, we smother the real us. We become artificial, fakes. The real us gets stuffed down and hidden away in shame.

But God made YOU. And He wants you to have the glorious freedom to be yourself through Him without the cares of the world. The only one that should ever be allowed to put a label on you is Him. And do you know what His label for you is?

“You are Mine.”

Shine brightly. Be you. Be the wonderful you He made you to be.

Because you are beautiful.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Beautiful People - 2016 Writerly Goals

Beautiful People is back! After a bit of a detour with Beautiful Books, our hosts Sky and Cait have returned with 2016’s first edition of Beautiful People. BUT, before returning to the usual interrogation of our characters, since we’re still adjusting to the new year (or am I the only one squinting at the calendar wondering if it’s lying to me? because, um, how is 2015 already over??) our hosts have concocted a fun new year-ish edition centered on this year’s writing resolutions and goals. Fantastic idea, methinks! You can join up yourself on Sky’s blog HERE or Cait’s HEEEERE. Come share your writing goals! (Seriously, I love seeing what delicious writerly things will be cooked up with the coming year.)

Let’s do it!

1. What were your writing achievements last year?
At the beginning of the year my plan was to rewrite Fallen Matter, but by February my Beauty and the Beast novella, Burning Thorns, was all, “MAKE ME A NOVEL!!!” (They’re so demanding.) So 84k words later, I had a Beauty and the Beast retelling novel.

In August I wrote a flash fiction piece. Something I’ve never really done before. I enjoyed doing it a ton and someday I’m going to try more flash fiction. I am, guys, I am!

Then in November I did my 6th NaNoWriMo and wrote the next to last book in my Colors of a Dragon Scale fantasy series, More Black than Night. Which ended at 76,700 words, making it my shortest novel yet.

So, basically, I wrote two novels in 2015 and made HUGE strides in pacing my stories and not making them drag on like a slug down a highway. Improvement! Hooray!

2. Tell us about your top priority writing project for this year?
Burning Thorns has once more demanded my attention. Sheesh, is it pushy. >.> Okay, okay, I want to work on it. It’s become very close to my heart.

My biggest problem is that I write first drafts and then. . .that’s it. I have tons and tons of first drafts on my computer but second drafts? Polished things? Nooope. It’s time I actually make PROGRESS if I want to, ya know, become a published author. (Turns out there really aren’t fairies that magically appear at night and perfect your novels. Boo.) So this is the year! I’m going to pour myself into editing Burning Thorns and making it the best it can be. I’m gonna do it! *holds up red pen and charges*

3. List 5 areas you’d like to work the hardest to improve this year.

-Actually editing and NOT getting distracted by shiny new ideas.
Because, like I said, I have first drafts everywhere. EVERYWHERE. All those new, shiny plot bunnies plague me by the dozens and I get too easily swept up in new story ideas. I never put much effort into one particular story once the first draft is done. But NO MORE. Editing is gonna happen!

-Worldbuilding. I actually mentioned this in the last Beautiful Books, but my worldbuilding skills are a bit. . .lacking. I want to add a lot more interesting and in depth things in the Burning Thorns world.

-Keep it balanced. I’m kind of an all or nothing person. It’s either work-on-the-project-24/7-until-it’s-done-and-ignore-all-the-things or lay-around-binge-watching-Leverage-and-Doctor-Who-all-day. There is no in between with me. Last year the big thing I was focusing on was to keep things balanced. To not get SO consumed in my writing project that I ignore life, but to also keep a steady pace on it and make good progress. I think I made big improvements on balancing my life last year, but I want to keep at it and continue getting better.

-Research literary agents and publishers. Because, well, I do want to get published one day, which means querying, which means figuring out WHO to query to, which means researching. I haven’t really even begun with that part yet so. . .I need to start looking into these things. (Any tips? Links? Advice? *puppy dog eyes*)

-Stop being afraid of changing and deleting. Want to know why I never get around to rewriting/editing? It terrifies me. CHANGE my story? DELETE these words I agonized over? Go through and completely REDO entire plot threads? WHAT??? I can’t do that! Um, yeah, the idea overwhelms me to a huge degree. I want to get over that. I’m a little better than I used to be, but I have a looong ways to go. I want to really edit this thing, not just fix typos and things. But add and delete and change as needed ruthlessly. Basically I want to edit and edit well. That fear (and probably a lot of laziness if I’m honest) has got to go.

4. Are you participating in any writing challenges?
Obviously NaNoWriMo shall be happening in November! And this will be the 7th and LAST book of my Colors of a Dragon Scale series so, even though we kind of just had NaNo and the next one is nearly a year away, I’m SUPER excited about it!

Other than that, I don’t think I’ll be doing anything other than editing BT. I maaay consider joining in this year’s Rooglewood Press’s fairytale contest (that’s where BT originally came from after all), but I really want to just focus on BT. As of right now I’m more leaning against it. We’ll see when the time comes.

5. What's your critique partner/beta reader situation like and do you have plans to expand this year?
My “Pack” (as we call ourselves) is a group of absolutely fabulous beta-readers who have become like sisters to me and I’m SO grateful to them.

I think I actually have expanded some already. Quite a few of you have offered to beta Burning Thorns, which absolutely delights me. And blows my mind that you want to read something *I* wrote. I couldn’t be more honored and thankful. I need all the help I can get! (And I’ve started the beginning stages of editing, so details and the first chapter of BT will hopefully be coming your way SOON.)

6. Do you have plans to read any writer-related books this year? Or are there specific books you want to read for research?
I always mean to read more writing-related books! I read a lot of blogs and articles and things on writing, but the Go Teen Writers book is about the only physical writing help book I’ve read. (But it’s my lifeline and every writer needs that thing. Trust me. It’s not just for teens, it’s for all us aspiring writers. You need to get yourself a copy of it!)

I found Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott in a secondhand bookstore one time and it’s been sitting on my shelf waiting to be read for a while now. I’ve heard it’s really good and hope to get to it soon. And I think I have a writing help ebook or two on my tablet that I should probably try.

I want and NEED to read more writing help books, so if you have any suggestions do share!

7. Pick one character you want to get to know better, and how are you going to achieve this?
Hmmm. . . This is a hard one because I tend to learn every single tiny detail about ALL my characters that I possibly can. I’m sort of an obsessive character analyzer. Whether it’s my characters or others, I get totally obsessed with knowing all the ins and outs about them. I just love studying people—their quirks, personalities, everything. It’s probably strange. . . Analyzing fictional characters is my favorite pastime. Yeah, okay, it’s definitely strange.

Anyways, I spent a LOT of time last year studying my cast for BT and feel like I know them extremely well. So. . .I’m not sure I can pick one in particular I want to focus on.

OH! But, when NaNo rolls around and I start the last book of my CoaDS series there will be a new character that I’m veeeery interested to explore. Her name is Kaliq and she appeared in the final chapter of the last book out of nowhere. She’s already stirred up all manner of fun problems in her short appearance. So I’m quite looking forward to seeing what sort of trouble this new person has in store.

8. Do you plan to edit or query, and what’s your plan of attack?
Well. . .it seems I’ve already answered this question multiple times. XD

Editing? Absolutely. (Yes, Christine, you’re editing. We get it.)
Querying. . .? Eventually. Honestly, I seriously doubt I’ll start querying until next year. I want to make absolute sure BT is actually ready for that. But I do want to start looking in to querying, as mentioned earlier. That way by next year I’ll be ready to dive into it. (Not that the idea makes me want to wrap myself in a hundred blankets and hide in a hole forever or anything. Noooo.)
Plan of attack? Um. Drink lots of coffee and cry. *nods seriously*

9. Toni Morrison once said, “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” What are the books that you want to see more of, and what “holes” do you think need filling in the literary world?
I’d LOVE to see more steampunk! I’ve only read two full steampunk novels. TWO! I just never see any steampunk books. But come on. Airships and airship PIRATES and epic clothing and pocket watches and alternate Victorian settings and did I mention AIRSHIP PIRATES? Steampunk is AWESOME. I wants it!

Deborah mentioned this one and I’m stealing her thought because I totally agree. We need more whimsical, nonsense books such a Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. That is my FAVORITE book. I’ve never read anything like it before. It makes me indescribably happy. It’s so nonsensical with the most delightful cast and ridiculously fun storyline. I adore it, and I want mooore!

Also CLEAN YA books. I don’t care what genre. Anything. Everything. Just genuinely CLEAN ones. Sometimes I get disgusted going in the YA section of a bookstore. Which is horrid, because all I ever want to read are YA books. But there’s sooo much junk produced in that genre. Why are we making this amount of ickiness for impressionable teens? WHY?? Please oh please oh please give me more clean reads!

10. What do you hope to have achieved by the end of 2016?
I’d love for Burning Thorns to be edited and polished and ready for the querying world! (Gracious, you’re going to be sick of hearing about BT edits before they even START.) Don’t know if that’s gonna happen, but I want to try anyway.

And then of course my very last CoaDS book written by the end of NaNo. :D

But I also just want to grow and make strides in my writing. I want by the end of the year to say I’m actually, honest to goodness, working towards becoming a published author instead of just writing yet another first draft.

I want to move forward.

Now that I’ve babbled (waaay too much) on this year’s main goals, I want to hear about yours! What’s your biggest writing project for the year? What do you hope to have achieved by the end of it? AND what holes do you want filled in the literary world? I’d seriously love to know! Chat away!

Monday, January 4, 2016


The old canvas—filled with messy scratches and beautiful scenes and a chaos of life painted across its surface—has been tucked away and a brand new one sets out before us. White and pristine, ready for new colors of life.

We’ve said goodbye to 2015 and 2016 is here and ahead of us. Waiting. For the laughter. For the scars. New hopes and fears in the horizon. Endless possibilities.

I’ve yet to write down any goals, to think far in the future. The realization that it’s a new year hasn’t quite sunk in yet. Christmas decorations are only just now being tucked away until next time, and as I see the tree being stripped of ornaments and lights, I know it’s time. Not to say goodbye, but to look ahead. To say hello. New adventures. New memories to be made.

2016 awaits.

I haven’t decided what my goals for the year are, or if I’ll even make any this year. But I do want to make a change. What kind of change? That’s the very question that has been on my heart for the past few days. I want to be better. To grow in God, strive for the person He wants me to become.

But how?

In 2014 I discovered the trend of choosing a word for the year to live by. I loved this idea. Almost immediately afterward God placed COURAGEOUS on my heart.

A few words were my direction for 2015, and though I failed many, many times, keeping these words always on mind really helped me grow.

This year I didn’t know if I was going to choose a word. I really didn’t know what to improve on. There are so, so, so many things in my life that need improvement. I’ve messed up time and time again.

For a while, I’ve felt a little lost. Like something is missing in my life. I’ve spent far too much on self. Worrying if I’m wasting my life, wandering around with no direction in sight. Always looking to me for answers.

Only a couple of nights ago I was praying and there it was. My word. My goal. The very piece of the puzzle I let slip from my grasp and lost somewhere along the way.


All my focus has been centered on Christine, when instead it should forever be turned to GOD. Somewhere in the midst of 2015, I let the busyness and multiple projects and in general life tug me away from the very thing I should have been getting closer to.

I lost my focus on God.

I’ve slacked on my time with Him, I’ve forgotten with so many aspects of my life to put Him in the center, to ask Him where to go.

This is what God wants for me this year. Simply to focus on Him.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33

Oswald Chambers so often says in My Utmost for His Highest to keep centered on Christ and everything else will fall into place. That’s our very purpose after all, is it not? To keep focused on Jesus. We can’t improve ourselves, only He can.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13

It all comes from Him. If we want to improve any aspect in our life, the first step is to simply keep our focus on Jesus.

So that is my goal for 2016. For my LIFE. To focus on my Savoir. Every day. Every hour. Every minute. Him and Him alone.

As God as my focus, I hope this will pour into other parts of my life. I’m tired of being so centered on Christine that others get left behind. I want to focus on OTHERS. To love and encourage and be there whenever anyone needs me. To draw from my Savior and pour out His love to everyone I meet.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

I’m a wanderer. I let my mind wander. I let my goals wander. I let my hopes and dreams wander. I talk an awful lot about things I want to do, but they very rarely actually get done.

This year I want to stay focused. Less wandering, more doing. I know I will fail, over and over again. That everything will get out of focus once more and I’ll have to readjust the lens. But we have a merciful God. One that will pick us up and brush off the dust and point us back toward the destination.

I don’t have to be lost, everything around me confusing and blurred. Because GOD is my destination. With my eyes forever focused on Him, everything else becomes clear.

What about you, dear reader? Tell me some of your goals for this year. And a happy 2016 to you all! I hope it’s the best one yet. <3

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