Friday, December 29, 2017

2017 Wrap-Up: The Life, the Geekery, the Bookishness

So apparently 2017 is almost done with us and I’d like to know who gave it permission to be nearly finished??????
WHERE DO I FILE A COMPLAINT? Because wow yeah. This year zoomed by at record breaking speeds and has left me sitting here in a daze wondering what just happened like the Hare in the Tortoise and the Hare story. (I don’t know either. Just go with it.)

Last year wasn’t my favorite. I wasn’t in the best place mentally, there were a lot of lows, and some tragic things happened. But 2017, 2017 was much, much better. I liked this year quite a lot.

THUS. I thought it’d be fun to do a little yearly wrap-up post to look back at the highlights of 2017. (Except “little” is so inaccurate because when do I ever do small posts???) I’m going to categorize this in sections because I love categorizing things almost as much as I love making lists.


. . .


. . .



This year was a whirlwind of changes.

A few things that went down includes:


  • My little sister graduated high school. BRB SOBBING. She’s the youngest in the family, so for the first time in 24 years none of us are homeschooling AND IT’S WEIRD. But I’m so proud of my sis!

  • One of my best friends graduated from college. SO PROUD OF HER TOO.

  • I got to stay with that same friend for a few days three different times this year and it was fabulous.

  • My other bestie and her family moved…11 hours away. Definitely not a highlight, but at the same time I’m excited for them and all the new and exciting turns their life has taken.

  • Turned 25 years old and just WUT??? When did I become an adult? Because, in my head, 24 is still “young adult”. But 25 is just…adult. Is that just me? I DON’T EVEN KNOW. I know I act like suuuuch and adult though, amiright? (You guys probably thought I was 14, didn’t you? #ForeverPeterPan)

  • Got to go see a live ballet showing of The Nutcracker for the first time in yeeeeears and absolutely loved it!


There are many, many, many more things that happened this year. Changes and joys and hardships and growth. But all-in-all it was a fantastic, if not crazy, year.



This was my quietest year of writing since…2009. Not even kidding. Usually I do at least two major writing projects a year, with maybe some smaller things in between. This year I didn’t really do anything until NaNoWriMo.

If you’ll remember, in January I had BIG WRITING PLANS for this year. So many goals of editing Burning Thorns and researching literary agents and working on query letters and all that fun stuff? Did I do any of that?

Erm. No.

But you know what? I’M OKAY WITH THAT. This wasn’t the year for those things, I know that now. There were too many things going on in life. But not just that, I think I needed to reevaluate myself. I was feeling stressed and overwhelmed and questioning everything, especially my writing, at the beginning of this year. But after taking almost a whole year off from doing any major writing and really focusing on learning to balance my time and taking a breath, I’m at a much better place. And I know, without a doubt, that writing is absolutely what I want to do with my life. So though not much actual writing happened this year, there was a lot of necessary growth and revelations within my own self. And it was good. Very good. I don’t regret one bit taking a writing hiatus.

BUT. I can’t entirely take off from writing. There were still writerly 2017 happenings.


  • I wrote a 4,500-word, fairytale-esque short story When Spring Blooms, which was a ton of fun! It’s very rare I write short stories (because apparently “short” things aren’t part of my vocabulary?), but I always enjoy it when I do.

  • I purchased Scrivener and fell. in. love. The levels of organization it allows makes my perfectionist self ridiculously happy. WHY DID I NOT TRY THIS PROGRAM BEFORE??? It is the bessst.

  • Made an entire file of Scrivener for Burning Thorns with all sorts of sections and folders and goodness. So it is ready to be edited on, even if I haven’t done the actual editing yet…

  • Made a map for the Burning Thorns world. Because I literally didn’t even have a name for the continent the world was set in. So that was fun!

  • Fully plotted out The Nether Isle. Which felt great. It was the first time I really got back into writing related things in moooonths. I felt like myself again!

  • WROTE The Nether Isle! (Which you all know about since I haven’t stopped talking about it for like 3 months now… *cough*)


So it wasn’t an extremely productive year, but it wasn’t a fully idle one either. And I did some things to set me all up for my 2018 writing plans. Overall, I’m feeling good about everything. I wrote a short story, set up everything for Burning Thorns edits, wrote an 117k-word book, and got past some mental blocks. Even if it was my slowest year of writing in a long time, I’m happy with what I accomplished and look forward to diving into more writing ventures come the new year!



I think I made strides with blogging this year. Though I did take a few hiatuses, breaking my 4-year streak of posting every single week. But, well, it was probably time to allow myself a few little blogging breaks after consistently posting for 4 years, right???

Other than those hiatuses, I really poured myself into the blog. This year I wrote some deeper posts than I usually do, tried to give you guys the best quality content I could, and got better at having nice graphics at the top of each post. I gained quite a lot of new followers this year (hi, guys! I love you all!), so I think it all paid off.

Some favorite posts of mine I did this year are:







You guys should know I’m a total movie and TV show nerd, and this year introduced me to quite a few fabulous ones!

Movies saw in theaters:


Which I…wasn’t wild about and it makes me weep. I HAD SUCH HIGH EXPECTATIONS. B&B is my favorite fairytale! The Disney classic animated movie is my childhood! All the previous live action remakes (Cinderella, Maleficent, etc.) were beyond perfect! I was just positive this one would be spectacular. But…no. It wasn’t a bad movie. It just didn’t capture that B&B magic for me. Emma Watson just wasn’t working as my dear Belle. *ducks from rotten tomatoes* I DON’T KNOW. I didn’t hate it, but it was just kinda…meh. *sobs forever*


OKAY BUT DIS MOVIE. I loved it nearly just as much as the 1st one, which is saying something because the 1st one is one of my favorite Marvel movies. BUT THIS WAS SO FUNNY AND EPIC AND EMOTIONAL AND SJDFJKHSKDJHFKLDSF. Probably my favorite movie of 2017!


This movie rekindled my love for my Spidey baby! See, when I was young, Spider-Man was my FAVORITE superhero. As the years rolled on Iron Man and Captain America took my heart. But seeing this one reminded me of how much I adore Spider-Man. He’s literally a kid trying to protect a whole city and just HE IS PRECIOUS. And Tom Holland is absolutely my favorite Spider-Man thus far. I do feel like the pacing of this movie was a tinge slow sometimes? Maybe too much setup? I don’t know. But I still loved it!


I think I’ve already flailed about this movie 2 or 3 times now but…I LOVED IT. I wish there could have been more emotion and not just comedy, but it was still fantastic!

I…think that’s all I saw in theaters? And all of those are Disney and 3 out of 4 are Marvel. I seem to have a problem??? But come on, MARVEL!

There were others I wanted to see but didn’t get a chance. And still haven’t! Like The LEGO Batman Movie and Wonder Woman. But hopefully I can get to those sometime soon.

I also discovered some TV shows this year. Of which I now wonder whyyyy I had never watched before.


Why why why WHY have I gone this long without watching the magic that is Gravity Falls? WHY??? This show looks like some goofy kiddy cartoon but DON’T BE DECEIVED. I mean, yes, it’s a goofy kiddie cartoon but it’s also DEEP and HILARIOUS and has an epic PLOT and the CHARACTERSSSS. I will now have Gravity Falls feels for the rest of my life. *collapses* JUST WATCH THIS SHOW. Basically every. single. line. in it is quotable and hilarious and the characters are golden and just GO WATCH IT. (Except you probably have because I feel like I’m the only person in the world who has never watched it until now???)


Mabel is a gift to this world.


Another totally hilarious cartoon! This one does start out as a pretty goofy, random cartoon but it gets much deeper as it goes on. And THE CHARACTERS. Star is from another dimension and has a magical wand that she uses to, well, defeat the forces of evil. But she makes spells like a narwhal blast. So yeah. She’s totally bubbly and reckless and fun. (She kind of reminds me of me, TBH.) Then there’s Marco. Sweet, precious, cinnamon roll Marco. The show is worth watching just for those two. And let’s not even talk about how shippable they are.


 (The first non-Disney thing in this whole section!)

Erm. Yeah. I’m reeeeally late on this bandwagon. My brother (and basically everyone else in the universe) has been badgering me to watch it since it came out in the Fall of LAST YEAR. Annnnd I didn’t start watching it until this August or September. I FAIL AT LIFE. But obviously I loved it. It’s not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach but…it’s pretty epic! (Except I still haven’t found time to watch the 2nd season and IT’S KILLING MEEE.)


There were probably many more things I can’t remember (I’m proud I even remembered all of this!), but these were definitely my screen watching highlights of the year.



Obviously I saved the most important one for last. BOOKS!!!

I read a total of…30 books for 2017. Ummm, yeah. Sad, I know. I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that 30 is my average for a year these days. It’s not a bad amount, just not neeeearly as much as I want to read. I’d much rather devour 100 books in a year but I can’t seem to be one of those magical peoples.


It was a bit of a mixed year of reading. The majority of the books I read were a little meh. Buuuut I did find some gems that absolutely made my year.

by Jaye L. Knight

Book #3 of the Ilyon Chronicles and possibly the best one yet! This was my first book to read this year and WAS IT A GOOD ONE. ALL THE FEELS. ALL THE THIIIINGS. Just go read this series! (I deeesperately need to get my hands on Exiles.)

by Gail Carson Levine

Okay but hoooooowwwww have I not read this book until this year??? I should have grown up with this book! I AM ALL THE SHAME. No earthly clue why it took me half an age to read it, but IT WAS SO GOOD.


by Jamie Foley

(Except the 3rd book isn’t out yet BUT I NEED IT PRECIOUSSS.) This is suuuch a fun and different style of novels. People with special abilities in a world much like our own and it’s basically the apocalypse with epic characters and the best bromance and YES. Kudos to my bookfairy Deborah for getting me to read these books. I LOVE THEM.

by Allison Tebo

One of my faaavorite reads of the year! This Cinderella retelling novella was the cutest EVER. I actually reviewed it should you want my full thoughts on it. But basically…GO READ IT! This book was a delight. And it kindled a friendship between my girl Allison and me, which made it doubly awesome! Seriously, go give her a follow and read her story. SHE’S THE BEST.


So I discovered something super weird this year. I kinda like graphic novels??? I’ve never actually read any before. I had no idea if I’d like them or not. But this past August I was staying with my bestie and she talked me into trying a few and I officially got hooked. Unfortunately, it’s reeeally hard to find clean ones. *pouts* But they’re great for some quick reads. My favorite one I’ve read so far is Nimona by Noelle Stevenson.

by Kyle Robert Shultz

Okay. This may win for top favorite of my 2017 bookish discoveries. THESE BOOKS GUYS. 1920s detective style story but in a world where fairytales are real? GIMME GIMME GIMME. These books are hilarious. But don’t let that fool you! They get deep and twisty as they go on. In fact, the 3rd book, The Stroke of Eleven, was my last read for the year and I’m still reeling. I MAY NEVER RECOVER. (I reviewed the 1st book if you’re interested.) These books are golden! Kyle is hilarious and you should absolutely go check out his website and READ HIS BOOKS!


So even though I read a bunch of meh books this year, these totally made up for them! And if you’re still a nosy bookdragon, you can check out my 2017-reads GoodReads shelf for everything I read this year.



As I said at the beginning, this was quite the year of change and growth. And there was one particular lesson that stood out to me this year.

At this time last year, I was drained. I was tired, stressed, overwhelmed. I had Big Plans, but actually tackling them just made me want to curl under the covers and watch Netflix forever.

And it hit me: I was doing too much. I had no balance. I ignored friends and family and even God in favor of trifle things like staying on top of emails. I didn’t really take any breaks in 2016. I was constantly doing something.

I’m obsessive and a bit OCD. When I have goals in mind or things to do, I can’t not do them. I can’t rest until everything is DONE. Except…everything is never done. There will always be things to do. Always emails to answer. Always blog posts to write. Always books to write and edit and research for. But that doesn’t mean we should always be doing those things. They’re good things, but there has to be balance.

So this year, I took a break. I wasn’t as rigid about publishing a blog post every single week, I didn’t force myself to have a major writing project going, I put off things in favor of hanging out with friends and family.

I learned to soak up the moments.

This life is fleeting. Friends and family aren’t always forever. And growing our relationship with God is the very reason we have breath in our lungs.

Yes, I still want to pursue a career in writing. Yes, I want to do more in 2018. Yes, my writing is important to me. But there are also other important things in life. And I don’t want to miss out on them.

This year, for the first time in a long, long time, I took a breath. I let myself relax and live. And it was like a soothing balm. I no longer feel overwhelmed and tired. I’m excited about things, I’m ready to tackle 2018.

I still fail. I still find myself saying no to spending time with family in favor of getting things done. But I’m working toward doing better.

So as we say goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018, I want to remember. I want to remember that it’s OKAY to take breaks. It’s necessary.

But most importantly, I want to remember to soak up every single moment I’m given on this earth. To stop wasting away the days. To be grateful for every breath I take and use this little life I have as a blessing to others.

. . .


2017 was a pretty crazy year. But it was a good one. Possibly even a great one.

I look forward to seeing what 2018 has in store!


This is my last post for 2017, guys! So let’s chat about ALL the things. Did we watch any of the same movies or read any of the same books? What exciting things happened to you this year? And what are you excited about for the new year? Tell me all about it!

NOTE: Since this post came later in the week, I won’t have a post up Monday. It will be New Year’s after all! I’m going to soak up these last few days of the holidays. But I will be back on January 8th for my first 2018 post!


Monday, December 18, 2017

The NaNo 2017 Diaries {Vlog}

The title of this post in fact does not have a typo. Nope. It’s correct.


My first ever vlog. With my actual face. And voice. TERRIFYING, I KNOW.

So why this sudden video? Well. During NaNoWriMo this year I thought it’d be fun to make a video diary every single day of all that was going on. At first I was thinking I’d do it only for myself—just a fun way to have a log of the month without having to journal anything (because goodness knows I was writing enough without having to also keep up with a journal). Buuuut then I had the wild of idea of embarrassing myself and DOING IT FOR YOU GUYS.

And that is why I am here today!

Although this is not even half of the videos I made. Each video was about 2 minutes long and there are 30 of them so…that would have been an hour long vlog. How about no? Instead I just pick and chose some of the highlights to smush together into a vlog. Except…erm…it’s still 27 minutes long. Oops? SOWWY. I did try to make it shorter. But apparently not only are my novels and blog posts monsters, my vlogs are as well??? You guys still love me though, right?

ANYWHOOZLE. We need to actually get to the vlog part!

Sadly, the first part of it is cut off because I’m a moron and began talking before my phone started recording. >.> And it’s not the bestest quality because I was using the front camera of my phone. If I ever do anymore vlogs I’ll try to use my back camera and make it higher quality. But this was just a little something I was doing each day in the midst of the insanity that was NaNo so…yeah. You get to see over-caffeinated, sleep-deprived, lost in NaNo Land Christine. FUN STUFF.

(And yes. This is another NaNo post. I know I’ve been doing these in a row for like…the last 3 months. *cough* BUT THIS IS THE LAST ONE. My next post will not be totally NaNo focused, I promise!)

Also, kudos to my awesome big bro for helping me put all this together because I was absolutely clueless with this stuff.

ALL RIGHT. Enough of my babbling so you can watch…me babble. Um. Yes.

Behold me in all my awkwardness!


If you survived all of that, you deserve cookies! *passes them around* SO TELL ME. What did you think? Would you guys be interested in me doing more vlogs on occasion? Orrrr should I stick to text posts? XD Share with me your thoughts!

NOTE: Since Christmas lands on next Monday (BUT HOW THO???) I won’t be doing a post then. Instead I’ll do my next and last post of 2017 a few days after Christmas (probably that next Thursday). It’ll be a big ol’ 2017 wrap-up post and should be fun! Until then…


Monday, December 11, 2017

The Nether Isle Snippets

Guess what I’m sharing with you guys todaaay?
 (Because I know the title of the post and big graphic above doesn’t give any thing away. I’m always so mysterious.) You can’t guess, right? Then I’ll tell you…


*gasp* Such a surprise!

Okay but you sweet, precious beans were actually asking for snippets from my messy monster of a NaNo novel. WHICH THRILLS ME AND MAKES ME FEEL SO HONORED AND LIKE WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH ALL OF YOU AND YOUR NICENESS????

I was a little worried I wouldn’t be able to find anything presentable to share, but after scouring through the document I found quite a few that hooopefully won’t burn your beautiful eyeballs out. Just do remember this is all first draft-y things. But all that aside, I do hope you enjoy getting a peek into the thing that took over my brain for all of November.

Quick note, the whole thing was written in Karis’ POV, so all narration is from inside her head. And I feel like all the best parts are major spoilery and I couldn’t share them so…yeah. Hopefully these will still be entertaining!




Karis stepped to the back of her cage, pressing herself against the hard bars. When would they arrive on the Isle? It seemed like it had been at least two hours since they had left the High City. The hangar sat empty and dark, no windows in sight. Which was awfully rude. The least they could do was let the prisoners get one glimpse of freedom before dumping them on the Isle. She had always dreamed of flying out across the ocean, the wind in her hair, the rippling water a blue blur below. Her first and—she had to face it—last time to fly and she couldn’t even see anything. The only indication that they were moving at all was the steady whir of the small airship’s steam engine. Its vibrations tingled under her black boots, sending goosebumps across her flesh.

This was really happening. They were getting closer and closer to the Isle and her last days, or maybe even day, lay ahead. She’d never see her family again…

Trying not to think such thoughts, she cut her eyes back over to the brutish prisoner. His meaty fists clung to the bars of his cage. A ring that appeared to be a green and black snake twisted around his right forefinger. What was that? Some sort of gang symbol? Or maybe he was an assassin and had spent his life slaughtering hundreds of people. Really, the horrific possibilities were endless. But the High City wouldn’t have to worry about him now, whatever he did. That was the purpose of the Nether Isle after all, a place to dump the worst of criminals, criminals whose deeds were so heinous they were deemed too dangerous to even be put in prison.

And that’s where Karis was being taken.

She supposed it could be worse. She wasn’t sure how but she’d try to come up with something positive.

~ ~ ~

Karis blinked, and blinked again. But making her eyelids go up and down really didn’t seem to affect her circumstance. It did at least clear her head enough to focus on what stood before her. She pushed to a stand and cocked her head at the thing. It almost looked like a doorway but with no door and no wall. Just a rectangular archway shaped out of some sort of thin bronze tubes twisted around each other. Lattice had overgrown around it. Through the doorway, lay an overgrown forest much like the one she had been in. But it looked different, and she hadn’t fallen that far. She merely tripped on something and fell over. Or…through something.

A crazy idea popped in her head, but it made sense, even though it didn’t make any kind of sense. But if nothing made sense, than the nonsensical thing was the answer, right?


With this established, she pushed her hand through the archway. Her hand disappeared. She could still feel it, still wriggle her fingers, but she couldn’t see it. It merely cut off past her wrist. She pulled her hand back through and it appeared again, whole and visible.

A giggle bubbled from her lips. The nonsensical was in fact the only thing that made sense. If vines could come alive, why not have empty doorways that took you from one spot to an entirely different spot?

~ ~ ~

“You don’t belong here.”

Karis sucked in a sharp gasp. That was a voice. A whispering, very, very creepy female voice coming from…nowhere. Everywhere? She darted her eyes across the area but not a soul was in sight.

Please, please, please let this all just be my imagination.

She’d honestly rather be losing her mind than that voice be an actual thing. Her imagination didn’t scare her…most of the time.

“You cannot be here. You will die.”

Nope. Not her imagination!

~ ~ ~

She stood atop a wide set of cracking stone steps that descended into a town. Well, what was once a town, but now overgrown and crumbling. And yet, ruinous or not, it was the most wondrous place she had ever laid eyes on. Buildings were built up on tall cliffs that stood to the far sides. Some were tall much like her own townhouse back home, others stood small and round. Lots of the buildings spread out on the surface level were huge, obviously serving as more than just houses. There were two levels, wide bridges connected the two split levels built against the cliffs. Down below, where she stood, a river about ten feet wide snaked its way down the center of town, with bridges placed intermittently across it as well. Vines and moss and even a few trees had overrun the town. Entangled in vines against the cliff sides, hung a few airships of varying sizes. The streets, though cracking, were paved in smooth stone.

This was once a thriving town. And the most peculiar town Karis had ever known to exist. Except she hadn’t know it existed until now.

How was there a town on the Nether Isle?

Wasn’t the Nether Isle simply an island off the coast of Ilderwind that the council sent prisoners to? She had always believed it was some sort of wild rain forest area with savage beasts and large spiders or something. Not a place with living vines and killer butterfly-flower petals and a thriving town and archways that made people appear in different places on the Isle.

~ ~ ~

She studied the camera again, looking at the dials with new eyes. One appeared to be a clock and another had numbers around it, starting at one and counting around to three hundred sixty-five. Another one also had numbers but only to one hundred. The word present sat next to the one on that dial. Realization began to dawn.

Her fingers trembled with excitement as she twisted the tiny arrow on the dial to point at present. Then she held up the camera and snapped. The photograph slid out and on it she saw what she expected, hoped, to see. The room in its current state, it’s present state.

She held up the other photos with the men. What laid before her was past events, it had to be. Which meant… She couldn’t help it, she squealed in excitement.

The camera took pictures of the past.

~ ~ ~

Even in the dimness it was apparent how haggard she appeared. Flyaway hair with leaves caught in it, dried blood on her cheek, dirt smudged across her forehead and arms. Maybe it was the exhaustion, but the sight made her giggle.

“You need sleep and a bath, Missy,” she told her reflection.

~ ~ ~


“Thank you for saving my life, Jonah.” She proffered a hand and limped closer to him. “It’s nice to meet you. I’m glad you’re still alive.” Well, that was not a greeting she thought she’d ever do. But she realized it was true. She couldn’t save the other prisoner, but at least this boy was all right. Against all odds, they somehow both made it through the day without dying,

He didn’t take her offered hand. Instead his eyes focused on her bleeding leg and widened. “You’re hurt.” His soft voice rose in volume, and his eyes finally locked onto her and stayed there. “Do you need to sit down?”

In truth, she wasn’t entirely sure how much longer her aching, throbbing legs would hold her up, but before she could answer he was grabbing her arm and helping her lower to the ground. “What can I do to help?” he asked, kneeling next to her.

She blinked, his sudden acts of kindness tying her tongue and stopping her brain like a stuck cog.

~ ~ ~

Wriggling her toes, she basked in their freedom and couldn’t help but take her other boot off as well. The sweaty smell of her socks made her wrinkle her nose, but not enough to put her boots back on. She stretched her aching toes and massaged the sore soles. Remembering the tonic for aching muscles, she scrounged around in her pack, but all the bottles looked the same in the darkness. Better wait for the fire lest she drink the alcohol. That wouldn’t be pleasant for anyone. She did manage to find the water flask though. She didn’t realize how thirsty she was until she took the first sip. It felt like her dry tongue and sore throat sung praises as the water went down. She had jugged over half of it and was still going when Jonah came back with an armful of small branches.

He dropped them in a pile a few feet in front of her, and then cast her a curious gaze, eyeing her sock feet. She pulled them closer to her, unable to stop her sheepish grin.

“I’ve been on my feet all day.” That was an understatement.

He nodded, as if he understood. Actually, he probably did. He was on this Isle same as her. For a moment, he just stared at her, so intently it made her squirm. A horrible thought came to her. What if he was a murderer, and was now plotting the best way to kill her. Maybe he was going to build the fire to burn away her dead body. She slipped her hand in her pocket and grasped the hammer.

After several agonizing seconds, he started, as if he realized what he was doing. He dropped his gaze and rubbed the back of his neck again. “Sorry, sorry,” he mumbled, shaking his head. “I’ve been searching for you all day, but when I couldn’t find you I was terrified something had happened.” He dropped his hand and finally looked back at her, a look of relief flooding his features. “I’m glad you’re alive, too.”


The precious, talented Christine Eyre drew this pic inspired by The Nether Isle’s aesthetics and I AM IN LOVE WITH IT.

~ ~ ~

He stood and stepped to the opposite side of the fire and settled down there. “If something dangerous shows up, I’ll be sure to wake you.”

“Oh goodness, I think I’d rather just sleep through it.” She had had enough dangerous things for one day.

~ ~ ~

Jonah stared at her, silent but intense, but he didn’t push her. Just waited patiently.

She ran her fingers through her damp hair. How to start where he wouldn’t find her utterly mad? “I’ve been seeing ghost girls,” she blurted out. Nope, that probably wasn’t the way.

~ ~ ~

Wait. A thought pushed against the morning grogginess, attempting to pull her back awake. How late in the day was it if the sun was that high?

Drat Jonah and his niceness.

She shoved herself up. Sure enough, he was sitting quietly at the other side of the nearly dead fire, looking as if he had no intention of ever waking her up. He merely smiled over at her. Guilt clawed its sharp fingers into her stomach.

“I’m so sorry I slept late. You could have woken me.”

“Why would I do that?” he asked, sounding genuinely confused. “After the past couple of days you had, you needed that sleep.”

“But you’ve just been sitting here waiting this whole time?”

He shrugged. “I didn’t mind. I enjoy just sitting and thinking sometimes.”

“You enjoy sitting and doing nothing for long stretches of time?” She shook her head, chuckling. “That goes beyond me.”

He grinned. “Well, whenever you’re ready, we can move on.”

~ ~ ~

She snapped a few pictures on random years as they progressed, keeping to the far past like the blue-eyed girl said. They found themselves at the destroyed city hall, and she took a picture of it sixty-nine years ago. It stood whole, the town thriving as ever. One person walking down the steps in the photograph made her pause.

“Jonah, look at this.” She tapped the photograph.

He peered down at the middle aged man with long blue robes, dark hair, and a neatly trimmed beard. “If there was ever anyone who looked like a headmaster, I’d say that is it,” he said, voicing her thoughts exactly.

She bounced on her toes, unable to hold in the excitement. “I can’t believe we found him! Oh, oh!” She stilled. “I have the best idea. Let’s continue to take pictures of him and follow him.”

His gaze shot up from the photograph to her, eyes lighting up. “That is brilliant.”

Grinning, she threw the photograph in the camera bag, adjusted the clock from 3:45 in the afternoon to 3:46, then took another picture. As she had hoped, the man was now at the bottom of the city hall steps, turning to the street on the right. “This is so fun! We’re stalking someone from sixty-nine years ago! Let’s go!” She ran down the street the man had headed, adjusting the clock as she went. Jonah followed right behind.

Every few steps, she took a picture to assure they didn’t lose sight of the man, but his blue robes shone clear in the photographs, making him easy to spot amidst the other people on the streets.

~ ~ ~

Karis practically sprang out the door, feeling like a caged animal getting its first taste of freedom. The steady drizzle immediately began seeping through her clothes, but she just jumped into a puddle, helping it soak her. She spun around to survey the town, sloshing water all over her boots. “It feels so good to be out!

Jonah had only just stepped from the doorway of the library into the rain. He held his face up to the sky, blinking as drips splattered across his face. “It does feel nice.”

Biting on her lips to contain her giggles, she slowly crouched down, scooped up some of the water in cupped palms, and thrust it at him. It soaked the front of his shirt.

He jerked his head down to face her, mouth wide open in shock, but his eyes gleamed with mischief.

Now her giggles bubbled out.

Without warning, he sprung forward. She squealed and tried to dart away, but before she got far, a pile of water was poured over her head.

Gasping with laughter, she darted down the street. “No fair, you have bigger hands than I do!” she called over her shoulder. Her boots slipped on the slick streets, making her nearly plunge forward. She staggered, righting herself, and laughing so hard she couldn’t catch a breath of air.

“Are you all right?” Jonah gasped out, his voice shaky and breathless with his own chortles.

She could only nod, trying to regain herself.

~ ~ ~

“I think I might be able to finish translating today,” he said, grabbing one of the cans in front of him. “I’m so close.”

“Really?” The news mad her heart flip. She settled into her chair with one leg underneath her and pulled the can’s lid off. “That’s wonderful! I’ll try my best to be quiet today then and let you work. You’d probably be done by now if it wasn’t for me.” She dipped the can lid into the mushy food.

He looked up from his food, a serious express on his face. “Karis, I’d probably go mad if it weren’t for you.”

Her hand froze midair. His tone was so…intense, as if her knowing this information was vital. For once, she didn’t know how to even respond.

“Sometimes I think I was going mad before you came along,” he continued. “I mean…” He dropped his unblinking gaze. “I don’t wish you, or anyone, to have to be on this Isle, but… If you do have to be here, I…I’m fortunate to have found you.”

This made her laugh.

He flinched, jerking his eyes back up at her. Color drained from his face. She immediately threw her hand over her mouth, realizing what she had done.

“No, wait!” she squeaked between her fingers. Dropping her hand, she shook her head, face warming. “I’m sorry! I’m only laughing because I’ve had that exact same thought, about how I hate you ended up on this Isle, but how I’m also so happy to have you. Not just because you saved my life on multiple occasions now, but because…I’m just…” The right words wouldn’t come. Nothing seemed good enough. Finally, releasing a deep breath, she looked him straight in the eye. “I’m just glad to know you, Jonah.”

His shocked gaze softened into a smile. “Me too.”


Another gorgeous aesthetics pic done by Christine Eyre of the rainy library scene. <333

~ ~ ~

With a huff, she focused on the other pictures, on all the people who had walked those now empty streets.

She rubbed her finger over one little girl seeming to be in mid-skip down the street, a book tucked under her arm, probably headed for the library.

“What happened to you?” she murmured to the photograph. “Where do you all go?”

She’d never know. The thought sickened her. She had tried so hard to discover the mysteries of the Isle, and now she’d die with no answers. She continued flipping through the pictures, shaking her head as one crowd of people after the next passed her vision. All these people, these families, lost. Forgotten. Their stories untold.

~ ~ ~


She ran down the stairs, but a rush of cold air jerked her to a halt. The great cloud of mist covered nearly the whole foyer and was creeping up the stairs toward her, trapping her. She shot a glance over the stair rail. The room with with the vials was so close.

With rapid clicks, the mist rose toward her, frozen air blasting across her face.

Grabbing the railing with both hands, she vaulted over it. Her boots slammed on the floor below. The force of the hit rattled up her whole body. Gritting her teeth, she sprinted for the door to the alchemy lab. She snatched up the first bottle she saw, squinting at the words in the darkness. Only a single window provided the moonlight to shine in, but the labeling made no sense. Ciphering through the others brought the same results. Nothing in here was familiar.

The clicking drew closer, louder, and the temperature in the room dropped. Mist crept through the doorway. She seized a random bottle with red liquid and threw it at the cloud. It fell right through the mist and cracked, red liquid spilling out beneath the fog.

A burst of flowers erupted from the liquid, their bright red petals raining through the room. Poppies? That wasn’t helpful in the least.

~ ~ ~

Just as Jonah had said, the camera was waiting at the library, right on the table he had used to do his translating. She snatched it up and hugged it against her chest, feeling as if she were reunited with an old friend.

“May we never part again!”

~ ~ ~

After nearly half an hour of it, her back sore from bending and searching the items on the floor, she stood up to stretch and walk the room. Jonah sat perched on the edge of the sofa, seeming to have gotten distracted by one of the books. Smiling, she turned to examine the strange levers on the walls. Unable to resist, she flipped one. Nothing happened. What a disappointment. Age had probably broken whatever it was supposed to do. Another rather long one jutted from the back wall, right next to the one space of wall that didn’t have furniture or papers against it. She shoved the lever down.

A loud grinding, like metal scraping against metal, sounded from behind the wall. She jumped back, just as the wall slid into itself and opened up a doorway. Jonah sprang from the sofa, dropping the book he held.

“Is that what I think it is?”

“Um.” She peered through the new doorway, but it led to absolutely nothing but a small, rectangular room. More like a closet really. Barely large enough to hold three people, and it was completely empty save for another lever on its right wall. “What do you think it is?”

He came up to her and poked his head through. “I think it’s an elevator.”

“Oh!” That made perfect sense. “Let’s try it! Maybe the photo paper is upstairs.”

“Well, Karis, I’m not sure we—”

But she was already pulling him in and pushing the lever up. The door slid close, putting them in perfect darkness. Now her common sense was kicking in.

“Erm. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea?” Her voice bounced off the walls, coming back to her shaky.

Jonah shuffled away from her side. “I don’t think it even works, just the door does. Let’s just open the door back and—”

The whole space rattled and floor jerked. The momentum sent her careening to the side and crashing into him. She clung to him for dear life as they were dragged upward in the deathtrap. Then, just as quickly as it began, the elevator screeched to a halt. After one breathless second, the door ground open. She blinked in the bright light, hoping to goodness it wasn’t the light dying people always claimed they could see.

“Are you all right?”

Jonah’s soft voice snapped her back to reality. Realizing she was wrinkling his vest under her fist and digging her fingers into his arm with her other hand, she jerked away. She pushed a strand of loose hair behind her ears, breathing a trembling giggle. “Oh yes, I’m fine. That was…fun.”

He scratched the side of his head, a hint of amusement in his eyes. “Maybe next time we can try the stairs?”

She couldn’t hold back her grin. “I always like your plans so much better than mine.”

~ ~ ~

I maaay have been a little excessive with the snippet sharing. Whoooops. But I hope you enjoyed it all the same!

What did you think, guys? Which snippet was your favorite? What do you think of my Karis and Jonah bbys? (How many typos did you find? Ahem.) Thank you for reading! Like, seriously. You guys motivate me so much! <3

Monday, December 4, 2017

NaNoWriMo ‘17 Wrap-Up: In Which “The End” Happens

I don’t know if you’re aware or not but…NOVEMBER IS OVER!!!

It’s December!


Oh, and guess what? MY BOOK IS FINISHED TOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wrote “The End” on November 30th!

And I’ve been dancing and squealing ever since! I was just…shocked I managed to get it done. I really thought I’d have to continue writing through the first few days of December to wrap it up. BUT IT IS DONNNNEEEE!!!!!

I honestly think this is the fastest NaNo I’ve ever experienced. It zipped by me so quick, I’m pretty sure it gave me whiplash. Like…what is this??? November is gone? December is here? I NO COMPREHEND. But also? IT WAS GREAT.

Usually my NaNos are frantic and exhausting and full of days where I’d rather chew on glass rather than write. I mean, yes, NaNo is like my favorite thing ever. But writing like a rabid octopus filled up on five cups of coffee for 30 full days can wear a person out!

But this NaNo? It was one of the most smooth sailing, pleasant ones I’ve ever experienced. Sure, I basically didn’t sleep for 30 days, ignored about a thousand and two other things that needed to be done (you guys should see the state of my inbox…), and probably almost killed myself from a sugar overdose. But otherwise, it was a pretty smooth month of writing. (And let’s be real, those things are basically NaNo staples.)

Today I’ve decided to do a sort of monthly wrap-up post (I feel like I’m the only blogger who basically never does those awesome things…oops?), but it’s going to really be a NANO wrap-up. Because, like, what else happened in November besides writing, amIright?





(Wait. Why is this section here? I mean, life? That doesn’t exist during NaNo, does it???)

Life was pretty great this NaNo. As I said, the month went at a shockingly pleasant rate. There were certainly some frantic and stressful days. And I’m pretty sure I need a 12 year nap now after the lack of sleep of NaNo. BUT. It still felt way less hectic this year than some NaNos?

Honestly, I don’t think it was so much my life as my mentality. This NaNo I’m at a much better mental place than I have been for the past few years. I’ve been working hard this year to find contentment, to be a little more laidback about things and not always so uptight. To just enjoy the moments and go with the flow. I tend to get prettyyy stressed when even the slightest thing rocks my perfectly laid out plans. I still have a long, long way to go, but I have seen improvement. On top of that, there have been a lot of changes that took place in life in general this year that added to me being far more content and happier.

AND then there’s the fact that I basically took all this year off from writing. Which is something I haven’t done it like…8 or 9 years? I usually consistently have a writing project of some kind going. But this year I think I needed a rest, I needed to soak up life and work on my own mental state instead of frantically focusing on a thousand writing projects. Buuut after going for months without writing, well, I was about to explode with STORY. I needed to wriiiiite!

Thus, between my better mental state and long break from writing, I was SO ready for NaNo. So, so, so ready! It was such a pleasure to dive into a story again, and I could feel the good affects my break and growth had taken. I was a much calmer, happier writer this go round. In fact, there was only one day this whole month I desperately didn’t want to write. ONE! Usually those days happen pretty frequently, and yes, there were plenty of days where I really wanted to go read or binge on Netflix rather than write. But still only one particularly day the whole month where writing felt like scraping my face across a brick wall. I THINK THIS IS A RECORD.

In general, I was content and happy and just had a lovely month all around!

Other lifely highlights of the month:
(Many of which I already mentioned in other posts, but it’ll be nice to have a full overview of the month for myself so…sowwyyyy. *smile, smile*)

  • SAW THOR: RAGNAROK. Which I adored with all my being! Although, the more I ponder over it, the more I realize I do wish there had been more emotion. I looooved the comedy, but they kind of covered up any good emotional scenes with it. There were some…pretty tragic things in that movie, but it made such light of it all, the effect wasn’t as powerful as it should have been. I want a good balance of humor and emotion. The Guardians of the Galaxy movies proved you can have both. Those movies make me split my sides with laughter, but they also make me SOB. (I mean, will any of us ever recover from “We are Groot”???) But Ragnarok breezed over pretty much all the emotion in favor of comedy. BUT STILL. I loved it and it’s honestly one of my top favorite Marvel movies. Speaking of which…



  • GOT TO DO NANO WITH MY SIS. My very firstest time to do NaNo with a person IN PERSON. And it was fabulous! Though she did finish up within the first two weeks, leaving me to do the last half of NaNo allll on my lonesome. *stares off in the distance dramatically*


  • I DIDN’T READ A SINGLE BOOK ALL MONTH. I knoooooow!!!! I MAY BE DYING. I always write better when I’m reading a lot. But every NaNo I abandon reading and then wonder why my words are so dry and messy???? I NEVER LEARN. Needless to say, I am dying to now go read allllll the books!


  • WENT TO SEE A LIVE BALLET OF THE NUTCRACKER. And drooled over all the pretty dances and costumes.




  • SURVIVED NANO AND DIDN’T DIE. I call that a success!


  • I WROTE WORDS, MAN. Who am I kidding? I basically just ignored life for the whole month and wrote like a crazed octopus.



The question is, how did I actually enjoy writing The Nether Isle itself? (Okay, you’re probably not asking that, but I’MA TELL YOU ANYWAY.)

To sum up it up:

NOW. That does nooooootttttttt mean the story turned out epic. I’m pretty sure over half of my wordcount consisted of “he smiled” and “she laughed”. And I think I said “Karis’ heart flipped” about 2394 times because I was too focused on getting the story down to come up with clever ways to described she was shocked.


That’s how first drafts go for me. Now that the whole story is down, I can focus on prettying it up come revision time. And despite the bland writing style, I STILL LOVED WRITING THIS THING.

It was such a different experience. Which may have added yet another reason as to why this NaNo was so fun and less stressful. I had been working on my Colors of a Dragon Scale series for SEVEN NANOWRIMOS. And I loved it but…I was kind of getting ready to move on, try something new and unique that didn’t involve a gadrillion swordfight scenes that I have no earthly clue how to write.

The 1920s, steampunk, creepy isle setting was a brand new one for me! I thought it would be somewhat familiar, because the Isle is full of dark forest areas, which I write about…quite a bit. (I LOVE EERIE WOODS OKAY?!) But, in the end, the story mostly took place in the ruins of a magic town, which I had too much fun exploring!

The overall feel of the story is also something I totally enjoyed…even though I kind of confused myself with it. Because, like, what is the feel of this book??? On the one hand, it had a ton of lighthearted scenes and was just a fun, rollicking adventure. But on the other hand, one section of the story was getting so creepy even *I* was feeling a little uncomfortable and freaked out. (Oops?) So there’s that. There were also FEELS. Because I’m incapable of writing stories without ‘em! #NoRegrets So…was this a lighthearted adventure tale or a creepy, feelsy novel? I DON’T KNOW. And…I think that’s a good thing. The original point of this novel was to mashup ALL THE THINGS. To just throw in a bunch of story elements I love and see what happened. And, well, I love stories that have a mix of everything. Not just lighthearted and not all feelsy, but a good balance. And I think (hope) I accomplished that with this one. So yay?

Then of course there was the magic camera that takes pictures of the past. I can’t even begin to describe how much fun I had with that concept. There was a few sections in the story where Karis wasn’t able to use it and I was just like, “I MISS THE CAMERA!” Of course, Karis was feeling the same. Her over-excitable nature maaaay have been a smidge relatable for me. *griiins* Speaking of Karis…

KARIS AND JONAH. Let’s be real. They’re the actual reason I enjoyed writing this thing so much. Really, I had a blast with ALL the characters. But, just…KARIS AND JONAH!!!!!!!


Forever shamefully fangirls over my own characters.

Ugh. These bbys.

Like I said, Karis’ excitement about every little thing was basically me. (Though she’s much nicer and way less sassy than I am. XD) While Jonah’s calm nature was a nice balance to her constant hyper-ness. I still can’t say I favor one over the other. Which is weird for me because I’m a despicable person and always choose favorites amongst my children but NOPE. I LOVE THEM BOTH!

And I’m kind of having a hard time saying goodbye! After spending 30 consecutive days solely focused on them (not to mention all the plotting I did in October), I almost feel…empty not writing anymore. On the one hand, I’m ECSTATIC to be finished. On the other…I MISS MEH BABIES!!!


I feel like it was a stepping stone for me. It really gave me more and more of an insight on the types of stories I love to tell. It was both familiar—fantasy, creepy forest, feels with some humor mixed in—but also brand new at the same time.

I’m pretty sure once I read back through it I’m gonna think, “DID A 5 YEAR OLD WRITE THIS???” But I love the plot, I love the concept, and I love the characters, and, as with every novel, it helped me grow as a writer. It accomplished exactly what it was supposed to.



Because everybody likes stats, right??? (No seriously. Right? Because…I do. A lot. *cough*)

First, some fun facts!

I wrote every single day in November. I didn’t start out planning on doing that. There have been a few NaNos where I did make that goal, but this year was not going to be one of them. But as the month got closer to the end, and I realized I had successfully written everyday thus far, I thought, “WHY NOT???”  (Because who needs their sanity anyway? Obviously not meeeeee!)

I, erm, did not take this NaNo easier like I had every intention to. IN MY DEFENSE, my story turned out waaaay longer than I thought it would. I originally suspected it’d be around the 80k range, allowing me to not do a double NaNo like I usually do. I thought I’d just be more chill this go round now that my CoaDS series was done. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Ahem. That didn’t happen. With each week my Crazed NaNo Self came out more and more and…yeah.

BUT HEY. It’s not my fault this book turned out to be a monster and I was determined to finish it as soon as possible. Well…okay, it may be sort of my fault. BUT STILL.

This was my first year to finish the book right on the 30th! I had a few years where I finished before the 30th, but the majority of my NaNos I had to finish up my book in December. This time it took me exactly 30 days to write the entire thing and my perfectionist self is ridiculously happy. I’m also still shocked I did finish it up in November. I was just sure I wouldn’t make it but I did and I AM JUST ALL THE HAPPY.


My final NaNo ‘17 stats


Total Words Written: 117,755 (x___x Yeah, definitely not the 80k I’d hope it’d be. *pretends to laugh but is actually crying*)

Largest Wordcount Day: 7,026

Lowest Wordcount Day: 743

Number of Chapters: 25 (Except that’ll probably double come editing time because these chapters turned out HUGE. *collapses*)

Number of Character Deaths: HA! Like I’m telling. *smile, smile*

Total Hours of Sleep: 3 (Juuuust kidding! Though some days it felt like it. z_z)



A glorious amount of nothiiiiing!

Okay, that’s not true at all. Because I spent all November simply focused on writing, I mostly ignored everything else and have about 29348 things to catch up on. So I will be steadily working through emails and things. BUT. I will not be doing any writing related projects for all of December. I shall be taking a BREAK.

I have an enormous list of TV shows, movies, and books I want to tackle. (I haven’t even watched season 2 of Stranger Things yet, guys!!!) It’s so great to be freeee! Plus there’s also CHRISTMAS THINGS to plan and do. So my December will basically consist of fun busyness and glorious laziness and I am excited!

Then come January I will…not be editing The Nether Isle. Because I will finally, finally, FINALLY start the second round of edits for Burning Thorns! I know all year I said that’s what I was going to do and then…didn’t. BUT THIS TIME I MEAN IT. I think I needed this year to step back and reevaluate my life. But now I’m BACK in the writing world and SO PUMPED!

As for The Nether Isle, it’ll sit in its current state for a while. Although, for the first time like…EVER, I actually want to edit it??? Usually after I finish a novel, the idea of editing it makes me want to ship my laptop to Antarctica so I never have to see my story again. But this time I’m already thinking about editing and am actually looking forward to it! O_O Like…wut?! I’m calling that a good sign! It’ll have to wait though, because Burning Thorns has already had to wait an entire year. It is high time I return to it.

But The Nether Isle has treated me well and was a thrill to work on.


My 8th NaNoWriMo was completely and utterly AWESOME!!!

Until next year! (And I won’t tell you guys I’m already thinking about next year’s novel… *COUGH* Ihaveananowrimoproblemokay?)


NANO IS OVER, GUYS. (I’m still trying to wrap my head around that.) I am dyyyying to know how everyone’s NaNo went, so TELL ME EVERYTHING. And I’m also dying to know how November went for you sane people who didn’t do NaNo. (Because I haven’t had a non-NaNo November in 8 years and I think I’ve forgotten what that feels like. o.O) So SPILL IT! How was your November? I feel like now that my novel is done I’m reentering society. And I want to hear about ALL THE THINGS! Let’s chat!

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