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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Camp NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up: What an April.

So I know that it's been a while since Camp NaNoWriMo ended, but I'll get straight to the point: I achieved my goal of 25k words. I wrote an entire novella. I won!

To those unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo/Camp, you don't actually "win" anything, nor is there a ranking. All "winning" means is that I achieved my goal. That's it. And, I can actually say that I wrote twenty-five thousand words in a month.

In this post, I wanted to share with y'all how the rest of my writing adventure went, and what I learned from this month of writing a novella. Also, I want to tell you about the actual novella itself and FINALLY give y'all a synopsis of this thing I've been working on. :)

How'd it go? What'd I learn?

I'll be honest, I kind of lost momentum writing this novella. And you know what? That's okay.

Writing anything in such a time crunch as a month isn't always easy anyway. I mean, when I was doing NaNoWriMo back in November, and I told people I was having to write at least 1,337 words per day, people's reactions varied from cringing to "wow, I couldn't do that." Does that mean it's easy for the person writing it?

Well, it depends.

I figured out that the secret to projects like this is heavy outlining. I heavily outlined my NaNoWriMo novel, and I found that it was way easier to meet, and even exceed, my daily writing goals. Being a little more spontaneous with this project made it a little more challenging, and I wish I would have outlined my novella more this month.

But the thing that ultimately led me to finishing this novella was the story I was trying to tell. I knew that if I didn't finish writing the first draft of this story, I would regret it, because I loved the plot I came up with. Having that goal in mind was what kept me going, and I'm so glad I was able to finish the novella and have another finished first draft in my hands...well, on my laptop, but still.

Savannah, tell us about this novella already.

...sure, okay. ;)

Jessica Smith is about to live the dream. She’s a bright-eyed twenty-something who’s just moved to a place of her own - in the suburbs! It seems like everything is falling into place. She’s hired for a great position at a great job, she meets a cute guy, and her new community is picture-perfect.
Or so she thinks.
Soon, cracks appear in the surface. Why do her personal belongings keep disappearing? Why does the guy she’s dating seem too good to be true? And who is the brooding, handsome runaway who’s stopped at her doorstep in the middle of the night, and why is he telling Jessica she’s in danger?
This is “Do Life,” a novella by Savannah Cottrell that’s a high-stakes adventure that takes place inside a video game that asks the question…what does it mean to be able to make your own choices?

And I guess y'all want a cover, too? That...will have to wait until closer to release...which is going to be this Fall, because I have my debut novel releasing this summer. Stay tuned for that!

Thank you guys so much for following along my novella-writing journey. Y'all are amazing. :)


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Writing Update: Halfway Done With Camp!

Hey hey!

It's been a minute since my last update, but I come with great news. As of the middle of last week, I am officially halfway done with my novella!

I wanted to take time in this post to tell y'all how it's been going, what I've learned writing a novella as opposed to a novel, and my plan for finishing this thing.

So, how's it going?

Today's progress. TEN THOUSAND WORDS LEFT. (Insert confetti here)

Long story short (...ha!): Writing a novella is fun!

It's different from writing a novel not just in the length, but how I'm writing it. I've outlined this novella in almost the same way I outlined my novel (more on that in a little bit). And my word count per day is way shorter than what it was when I was writing my novel, too (834 words, give or take, versus 1,333 words) so I can meet my final goal of 25k words.

And, y'all, I love this story. I love where the plot is going, and I can't wait to tell you guys about it!

...I may disclose the synopsis once the novella is done. ;) But what I can tell you is that my novella is called Do Life. It'll make more sense once I tell you what it's about.

What have I learned writing a novella?

Well, here are a few things:
  • Just because it's shorter doesn't immediately make it easier. I'm still having to find ways to add length to this novella because I'm finding myself reaching my main plot points super quickly. In high school, I was taught not to be so wordy, and while that's great for academia, it's not for novels (or, in my case, novellas). 
  • Make your outline detailed, no matter how short your project is. My novel was detailed down to the letter, because for NaNoWriMo, I wanted to make sure I was intentional with my writing. For a novella, I've learned that I have to do the same thing, or else I just flounder and pad the chapters with text that I'm afraid might be unnecessary. But, hey, the joy is in the journey, right?
  • No matter the length of a project, you still have to budget time to get it done. I set goals for myself. For example, if I write 1000 words (as opposed to my required 800-something), I can play Fallout 4. Or something like that. Also, if you only have a limited amount of time, try timing yourself to write as much as you can within ten, twenty, or thirty minutes. The NaNo Word Sprint twitter page is great for this, but if you're not able to catch their sprints in real time, check out Fighter's Block.
  • Figure out what time is best for you to write and stick to it. Even with the shorter word count, some days, I've felt less motivated to write. But I've figured out that I write best in the mornings, so I do my best to write before lunch. Or, if that can't be helped, because life doesn't operate by a set schedule all the time, I do my best to either allocate time at the library or just write when I can.
  • Speaking of motivation, it's okay to take a break. I didn't write during the last day my boyfriend was in town before he went back to school to finish the semester, and I didn't write 
  • At the same time, do not be afraid to write ahead. I took a day in the first half of my novella to write 3,000 words. I wound up getting to the halfway mark two days early, and that was the best.

How am I going to finish this novella?

I'm determined to finish this thing strong. And early!

I finished my novel a day early last year, and I feel like I can do that this year, too. What I'm going to do is make my outline way more detailed going forward, and then, just go in swinging, so to speak.

I'm excited to get this thing done, and I'm so thrilled and thankful that you guys have followed me in my writing adventures thus far. :)

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Writing Update: Revisions, Camp NaNoWriMo, Etc.

So I've been on a writing steam train lately, and I've been loving it.

Speficially, writing planning. I've had to get myself back into revising - which, while fun, isn't near as fun for me as writing a first draft - and I decided spur-of-the-moment to do Camp NaNoWriMo this April.

I guess I'd better talk about this one at a time, shouldn't I?


As stated earlier, I've been in kind of a revision rut. It's easy to be like, nah, I'm planning on releasing my book on Amazon this summer, I can wait, right? or it's easy to sink hours into Skyrim. (Whoops.)

However, as also stated earlier, ruts are some of those things that you have to jump out of. There's no easing out of a rut. You have to start somewhere.

That being said, revisions have been going well. I'm actually adding more than I'm deleting, which is kind of surprising. But, nonetheless, I'm super excited about it, and I can't wait to see what the finished product looks like. I still have to do things like design the cover, lay out the final book, etc.

Right now, expect my debut novel, Swept Off My Fins, to be out this June or July.

Here is a synopsis:

Lisette is a mermaid, the youngest of five sisters, and is a darling of the Sea Kingdom of Aquamarine, protected under the careful, watchful eye of her father the king. The only thing her family and her people wishes she’d work on is her singing voice.
But what they don’t know is that she can write like no other.
And write she does, keeping secret stories hidden in her grotto of what she imagines the world above to be like. Not only does she write stories, but there are letters from a prince just beyond her ocean home.
But when her friendship and budding romance with the prince is jeopardized, and her dreams of sharing her stories seemingly shattered, she bargains with one of the darkest powers of the sea to try to get ashore and see the world she’s been writing about for herself.
Can Lisette share her true voice, outsmart a sea witch, and find her prince? Follow a daring mermaid’s adventure in Savannah Cottrell’s debut novel, a retelling of a classic tail…er, tale…that you won’t want to miss.

My Novella?

Yes, I'm writing a Novella this April during Camp NaNoWriMo. On top of revising my first book.

What am I doing?

At the same time, why not? I mean, as a writer, you need to keep writing and honing your craft, whether that's in starting a writing project, revising, editing, or whatever.

So, why a novella? Well, the biggest difference between Camp NaNoWriMo and "regular" NaNoWriMo is that you can set the word count. Also, it's not an actual camp; it's just another opportunity to write something, big or small. Camp happens twice a year, too: April and July (I would recommend the July one to you students out there). So, I set my word count for Camp to be 25,000, which is in the sweet spot of the typical length of a Novella (about 17,500 to 40,000 words, which is actually kind of a massive range).

I don't want to divulge the details of my novella yet, but just know I'm super excited about the idea, and I'm taking risks that I haven't taken before as a writer. I am SO excited to get started on April 1st.

Speaking of getting started, I've found an app that's going to help writing this novella be so much easier. It's called Pacemaker, and it's a task management calendar website. You plug in your project length, how many words, and other specifics, and it gives you a project calendar that's customized to your specific needs and schedule. As a planner, I LOVE this. I can plug the word counts the site gives me into my paper planner and Scrivener, and I can go to town knowing I have a plan in place.

You can access Pacemaker here. You do have to make an account, but to use the best features, it's completely free.

Anyway, I'm so excited for my writing adventures coming up, and I can't wait to share how they go with you guys! And yes, I will update you guys throughout Camp NaNoWriMo. That will be a fun ride, too.

Hope y'all have a great weekend!

Monday, March 26, 2018

How I Maintain Pink Underlights

...I got my hair dyed!

First of all, I love how so many people are dying their hair bright or pastel colors this year. When I was in California last February, I saw some of the best purple hair I'd ever seen, and purple underlights, too. Not to mention the fabulous ladies on YouTube who dye their hair pink, blue, or whatever they want on a regular basis.

But here's the thing: I'd never dyed my hair before. I've wanted to since college, but I haven't gotten to it until about 2 weeks ago, when I finally took the plunge and my stylist dyed my hair a fun color underneath.

I decided to go with cotton-candy pink underlights! The underside of my hair is an epic cotton-candy hue now. The pink is the most visible when my hair is pulled back, braided, or curled, but you can still see them when my hair is straight, too. (For the curious, my hair was originally dyed with Pulp Riot color.)

Pastel pink hair can be a biscuit to maintain. Sometimes, it's easy, and other times, it looks less pastel and more like pink-tinged faded blonde hair underneath, and the color can get uneven if you don't rinse with cold water or if you don't use color-safe shampoo.

But I THINK I found the best way to maintain my pink hair, and it's in the form of conditioner. Specifically, Overtone colored conditioner.

Overtone is a brand I discovered through a YouTube search I did on how to maintain pastel pink hair. It's not a dye, but it's a leave-in conditioning treatment that deposits color. You can tint natural hair colors, or brighten hair that's been previously bleached.

The day after I made my appointment to get my hair dyed, I ordered the complete Pastel Pink complete system, which comes with a daily conditioner, a weekly treatment, and a travel-size of the daily conditioner (that I actually used on a recent trip to Florida).

So, here's how I keep my underlights as pastel pink and unicorn/My Little Pony/mermaid-like as possible. I have two methods whenever I want to brighten the pink, or when I want to just wash my hair as normal without the pink fading.

Putting Pink Back In

To put pink back into my hair, I use the weekly treatment.

I separate the top section of my hair with a half-up bun on top of my head so all the pink underneath is visible. (If there's a few strands of dark blonde/my natural color lingering, I'm not too worried about it. It doesn't affect the non-bleached blonde at all.) Then, I just saturate my hair with the conditioner, concentrating on roots and ends after coating the strands.

I leave the treatment in for 20 minutes. That's enough to watch some beauty tutorials on YouTube or start an episode of your favorite show on Netflix. Once time's up, I rinse with cold/cool water; first the bottom (pink) section, then my entire head. As someone who loves hot showers, I'm not the biggest fan of this, but I've found it's the best way to lock in the color. I don't shampoo my hair after I rinse out the conditioner.

After that, I just blow-dry and style my hair as normal. The color is a vibrant, cotton-candy pink that fades really nicely and is easy to maintain.

Speaking of maintenance...

Shampooing with Partially Pink Hair

Washing my hair has become a little trickier these days, but I think I found a method that works.

The best part about this method? I can still take a hot shower with colored hair. That is the BEST.

I use a color-safe shampoo (my hairstylist recommended Biolage and I love it) all over my head, both my natural hair and pink underlights). Using the Biolage color-safe conditioner does not seem to keep the color in my hair all that well, so I opt for the Overtone daily conditioner instead.

After shampooing, I section off my wet hair, and then just condition the under side of my hair using Overtone. I saturate my hair with the stuff, concentrating on roots and ends. Then I set my phone timer for 5-7 minutes (5 minutes for more of a pastel pink, 7 minutes for a brighter cotton candy pink). Once that's done, I rinse everything clean.

Afterwards, I dry and style as normal, and my hair is clean, conditioned, and vibrant.

Final Thoughts

Am I going to be keeping my hair this way for a while? 

Short answer: Yes. Very yes. 

Like I mentioned earlier, I've wanted to do this for a while now, and I'd been itching for a change to my hair. I knew the color I wanted was going to be a challenge to maintain, but it's so worth having that flash of pink under my ponytail and threaded in my messy buns, and I can keep it hidden as well.

That said, I'm glad I found Overtone. My hair would have faded so much faster if I hadn't started using it, and it's the best thing for my hair. The bleached underside doesn't feel damaged; in fact, it's probably the softest it's ever been between the daily and weekly treatments and that Biolage shampoo.

In the end, I learned that change is good. :) And this is definitely a change that's sticking around for a long time.

Disclaimer: I am NOT sponsored by Overtone. I bought their conditioner with my own money because I saw rave reviews and wanted to give it a try, and I wanted to share it with you guys!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

February Favorites | 2018

February came and went. What in the world?

I’ve been in a different state, I tried some new stuff (and loved it), and got some cool stuff done writing-wise.

It was an awesome month. Here’s what I loved in February!


This February, I began revising the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo last year. So far, I’ve added at least a thousand words and counting. 

The revision process is complicated. I’m at a point where I’m actually adding more words than I’m taking away - and next month, that may change. That’s okay. I just want to revise in such a way that I come out with a product that I’m 100% happy with.


This was the month that I decided to completely overhaul my skincare routine. (Read: start a skincare routine.)

Normally, my “routine” is use various cleansers and hope for the best. I have combination skin, so some parts will still be dry, while my T-Zone (nose, cheeks, chin, forehead) will get the breakouts. After doing research, scouring Pinterest, and watching various beauty gurus on Youtube, I found a routine that I think works.

Morning and night, I apply micellar water cleanser all over my face with a cotton pad. Then, I do the same thing with witch hazel/alcohol-free toner. Finally, I add moisturizer, and call it good. In the shower, I use a micellar gel cleanser, and I’ll exfoliate my face once a week.

This cleared my skin up, y’all. I learned that good products will not mess your skin up, and the best part is that those products do not have to be expensive. All the products I got were at Target, and each was under ten bucks, at least.

I wanted to do something to take care of my skin, and this was the best thing I could have done to do so.


Nothing much has changed on the gaming front, but I have been playing a lot more Skyrim Special Edition lately.

I’ve modded the game so that I can play as characters with candy-colored hair, which is the best. But even better is the “Alternate Start: Life Another Life” mod I installed that skips the opening sequence of the game in lieu of having you pick who your character is. You can be a wealthy property owner, or you can start the game by escaping a sinking ship, or anything else in between. This mod allows me to pick who my character is and add a cool backstory that I can elaborate on in my own way, and I can just start the main quest whenever I choose, and if I choose. As a writer who loves character development, this is nothing short of awesome.


This month, Mom and I took a trip to Palm Springs, California. It was SO much fun!

If you want to read detailed posts on that trip, check out my post on Salvation Mountain here, and my up-to-date guide on Palm Springs here.

What have you been loving this month?
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