Camp NaNoWriMo 2016 :)

Camp NaNoWriMo 2016 :)

Hello, awesome readers! I hope you’re doing well. 

For the last three years or so, I’ve been selectively participating in NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo. For anyone who doesn’t know about it, it’s a month-long, international writing competition that happens in November, April, and July. You set your own word count goal, enter information about your novel or other writing project, and there are fun forums on which to interact with people of all parts of the world and genres! Here’s a link to the NaNoWriMo site and one to Camp NaNoWrimo, as well. 🙂

There are tons of resources, sponsor offers for winners (anyone who writes more than their goal during the month), and other fun stuff to explore on the sites. This July, since my family just moved and my schedule is pretty empty, I’m going to be writing Birthday Candles, my Portal 2 fanfiction! Since I already have about 6,000 words written (see here for Chapter 1 on this blog), my goal for the month is going to be that plus the average word count goal suggested and attempted by writers: 50,000. 

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I’ll hopefully be posting regular updates on the blog as to how my progress is coming along– no spoilers or anything, though; so be sure to check back for the actual chapters! Since NaNo is a writing challenge and not necessarily an edit-as-you-write challenge, Birthday Candles might be uploaded more slowly than I’m finishing it. Hopefully that all makes sense and you’re still excited to see what happens.

Let me know if you’ve ever participated, and if you are this year, what you’re writing! Peace!

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“Kissing Down the Class Roster”: 26 Kisses Review

“Kissing Down the Class Roster”: 26 Kisses Review

Happy summer! Thank you for clicking on my blog—I appreciate you guys. 🙂 This review is something a bit different from what I normally focus on: I saw 26 Kisses on the shelf at Target and something in me craved a brainless, summery “guilty pleasure” volume. This book didn’t disappoint in that department!

Anna Michels’s female lead, Veda Bentley, is dumped by her boyfriend, Mark, minutes after he graduates from their high school. With her senior summer looming in front of her, Veda decides to take her friend Mel up on a dare—an attempt to help Veda get over Mark that involves her trying to kiss 26 boys. The rules are funny, a bit flexible, and the way they begin to play out is both hilarious and (at times) cringe-worthy! I was trying to think of a good, unique format for this review, and it hit me: Why not do 26 pros and cons? So won’t you join me, as we go through the alphabet of 26 Kisses? Be warned, fairly significant spoilers ahead. 🙂

[Red= con, or something I didn’t personally like]

[Blue= pro—strong points, good aspects—you’re smart, you know.]

A: Alcohol everywhere! [Yes, it’s a high school stereotype; but the youth in Butterfield, Michigan rarely seem to socialize without copious amounts of it]

B: Bipolar Barry [Veda’s father has two families, and seems to exhibit opposite characteristics with each. While this is realistic to an extent, it edges on going a bit too far]

C: Characterization [Everybody has layers, ranges of emotions, and maturity arcs]

D: Divorce portrayal [There are repercussions for years—Michel’s characters don’t simply sweep everything under the rug, forgive my cliché]

E: Emotionally immature/absent adults [Parents often don’t care or know where their children are; and when they do interact, rarely are any of them emotionally supportive or mature enough to impart wisdom.

F: Fallout [Near the end, Veda breaks down after some unwise choices and straining circumstances. It’s good to see her humanity and the effects of decisions]

G: Good length/pacing [No wasted scenes, the action flowed efficiently, and the plot built and ended naturally]

H: High school’s the end [Veda and her friends exhibit microscopic amounts of ambition for their lives past school—it’s natural to lament a looming graduation; but her goals outside the present are almost nonexistent]

I: Imagery [This is probably my favorite part of the narration, and possibly the book. So many beautiful lines and passages about food, summer days, appearances, and so on. Extremely well done]

J: Jacket [Plainly and simply, I like the design. The challenge rules are on the back cover; the synopsis hooked me. The colors are pretty.]

K: Killian’s lack of support [When a main character doesn’t support Veda’s challenge, Veda paints this in a negative light. While this is her perspective, by the end I still didn’t see any specific redemption of Killian’s caring efforts]

L: Love takes time [Veda doesn’t jump into another serious relationship right away; in fact, she deliberately resolves to give herself time despite the challenge. I liked the non-Disney presentation of the process]

M: Mary-Sue syndrome [Albeit a mild case, near the end I reflected on just how many guys ended up with positive opinions of Veda, if not preferences for her]

N: Non-cliché DTRs [Or “Define the Relationship” talks. It’s not butterscotch and icing all the time, and feelings can be raw. Sometimes characters call each other out on stuff. A lot of times, actually]

O: Overblown emotions [breakdowns are lifelike; but every character in this book has at least one moment where their reactions are exaggerated. Either forced, exuberant cheerfulness, persistent lowness of mood…etc.]

P: “Prude” condescension [“If you haven’t kissed and/or slept with more than one guy, you’re inexperienced. So we gotta fix that, don’t we?”]

Q: Quitting is for considerate people [Veda crosses the line of caring about feelings and consequences…and decides to keep going. While it somewhat fits her character, it’s also presented in an iffy way…]

R: Relatable things/feelings [Breakup emotions, wavering on decisions, reactions to family and friends…I could identify with a lot of these moments. Michels does a good job authenticating her characters]

S: Sibling portrayal [Love ‘em, hate ‘em, forgive ‘em, drive ’em around places even when you don’t want to…]

T: Technology integration [Formatting little texts and lists into the narrative was a good, youthful touch]

U: Undulating reactions to disappearances [If Veda’s off by herself at a beach party for two hours, nobody freaks out; but if she wanders off at a summer concert for less time, she gets 11 texts and 3 phone calls…so…what’s the factor?]

V: Value of everyone [Veda reaches out to people in different social circles, and up enjoys much of her time with unfamiliar people. The message that everyone has value, regardless of cliques or personal interests, is a good one]

W: Well-stocked action [Again, no dull, empty scenes. I finished this book in 2 days!]

X: Ex-boyfriend ex machina [Not a big deal for your ex to pick you up from a miserable family function on desperate demand…but not completely common, either. Might be a tad too convenient.]

Y: Yes, they are talking about you [Veda’s actions have consequences. Word gets around. Awkward moments ensue. It’s good that she’s not just in her little plot-car bubble with people who will develop amnesia come fall semester]

Z: Zero comprehensive lists! [Individual records of kisses, but no exhaustive one at the end! I wanted to keep track…haha, maybe just a personal preference, but still!]

All right, that about does it for this alphabetical review! Let me know what your favorite vacation reads are in the comments, or what you’re picking up by the pool or beach this summer!

“Walking the Walk”: I Am Malala Review

“Walking the Walk”: I Am Malala Review

“On the way we passed through Aashiqan e-Rasool Square and were shocked to see a picture of the murderer of Governor Salman Taseer decorated with garlands of rose petals as though he were a saint. My father was angry. ‘In a city of twenty million people is there not one person who will take this down?’”

I Am Malala is the story of a young girl in a relatively unknown valley in Pakistan who comes to have more courage than most people her age worldwide. This is not simply because she was attacked and shot by the Taliban: her entire campaign and personal drive before that moment reveal her motivation, beautiful spirit, and passion to help create a world where everyone can pursue their educational goals.

First off, the cover is beautiful, as is Malala herself, and the picture inserts are great for helping readers visually connect all the information we receive. Malala’s voice, coupled with foreign correspondent and author Christina Lamb’s hand in creating the book, is inviting—more matter-of-fact than heavily biased any one way. It is disarming for folks like me, who are both different in faith from Malala and also little-read on people from her part of the world. Her narration is inviting—she explains things and reminds readers of names and facts so they aren’t confused.

It was interesting to see parallels in everyday life between people of Muslim culture and those in my Christian “circles”. There are admirable qualities in every people group, and this book is a good reminder of that…not to mention the fact that I learned so much historically and politically about Pakistan and its surrounding territories: there are so many religious sects and political regions I hadn’t had a clue existed. Innocent parties get caught in the crossfires of military conflicts, and the rest of the world often doesn’t know about them at all.

Malala’s father was inspiring, driven, and sweet toward his family. His encouragement fueled Malala’s, and she has the same courage that can be seen in his lifelong endeavor to provide education for children. The thing that most surprised and impressed me about Malala’s story was the point at which she knew it was deadly to attend school—that the Taliban were gunning for proponents of education specifically, and that to continue may mean death. Personally, I would have seriously considered staying home for a prolonged period of time. Malala, though afraid in some moments, didn’t see that as an option. She pursued her dream in an admirably courageous, unrelenting way that genuinely surprised me to read.

The reason I put the quote at the top as an opening is because one thing Malala points out about some people in her community can be said for some Christian individuals as well: people are willing to talk about things, but very few have the courage to actually put their words into action. We as Christians can sit in sermons Sunday and listen and read the Bible—but Jesus calls us to do more than that. Even in a fellow woman of a different faith, and the father who fostered her beautiful spirit, I see a truth that applies to everyone. Not all of us can be known globally, nor do we need to be; but all of us can see one thing that needs to be addressed, follow God’s call on an hour-to-hour basis, and act on the truth He has revealed to us through His Word.

Malala, thank you for your service, bravery, and the stand you’ve taken for young people everywhere. I’m proud to share a generation with you.

The Pre-Move Entry

The Pre-Move Entry

Rather than uploading segments of “Birthday Candles” regularly, as I’d planned to do, my last few weeks have been spent creating more boxes than chapters. But rest assured, I have the next chapter planned out down to the title, quote, and playlist, and it’s just going to be a while before I can give it my undivided attention. 

Back in January, my dad started a new job with Compassion International in Colorado Springs! He’s been living in an apartment while we waited here in San Antonio for us kids to finish our spring semesters of school, and for my younger brother, Ben, to wrap up his high school career. Now, we’re just days away from the move on June 13th. 

I’m feeling a mix of things. I’m more excited for the other side of the move than I thought I’d be: mountains out my window every morning, a milder climate, a new house and a new room to decorate…speaking of which…

I’m thinking of getting back into uploading Youtube videos, specifically about my new room in Colorado Springs. You know, some before and after pictures, some updates as I work on DIY projects I have planned…something to video log my move, along with the writing I’ll be doing. I got inspiration while visiting my dad to write a journal, or a nonfiction log, about the move. I’m planning on continuing it as long as I feel that Colorado gives me new and interesting things to document. 🙂 So there’s those ideas. 

What kind of creative Youtube videos are your favorite? Do you have any advice for a young writer trying to decide on what to work on? Or do you have any other suggestions?

Thanks for visiting my blog, and I’ll see you soon. 🙂