Two Thousand and Sixteen

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Today is New Years' Eve. And I can't believe 2016 is almost over.

2016 was a crazy good year, but honestly, it was crazy in the best way. Like other years in my life, it had its ups and downs, sure. Here's a few ups:

  • I accepted a full-time position as an editor for the magazine/publishing company I write for!
  • On that note, I celebrated two years writing in the magazine, and one year writing for our companion blog.
  • I said "yes" to a ten-day-long trip to Hawaii with my friends in about two and a half weeks' notice, and it wound up being one of the best trips I've ever taken in my life.
  • I committed to writing thirty short stories in November for the second year in a row.
  • I turned 25 years old. Twenty-five.

But amidst the bigger things, there were the small and happy moments, whether they were spent with family or friends, and I cherish them all greatly.

And like any year, it had its downs, too. As many of you know, I have two dogs who I love so, so dearly. They're like siblings to me, as much fur babies can be. They are fourteen years old, and since they have gotten so much older, they have become restless in their age. As hard as that been for us as a family, we're making sure that they are loved and well cared for.

2016 has been a whirlwind year for many of us for many reasons. But I have some high hopes for 2017, and I'm optimistic about the future. No matter what, though, I know the Lord has these next three hundred and sixty-five days in His hands.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Crosleys, Manual Music, and Memories

Monday, December 26, 2016

I was given a record player for Christmas...a turquoise portable Crosley turntable, to be precise. And I LOVE it.

The records that my parents gave me to go with my Crosley were two albums from my favorite band, Bastille. I can't tell you how much I listened to both albums on Christmas Day, and I'm sure the record-playing will only continue.
But the thing is, if you're new to records, you must know that they must be handled with care. I'm not brand-new to records, but I had forgotten how much care must be taken to actually play a record (i.e. do not scratch that record with that needle, especially if you're needle isn't automatic! Keep your hand steady!).

It's actually been nice to play music on something so...manual. I don't have as much control over it; I don't have the ability to rewind a track in a matter of seconds, I can't skip five tracks in less time than that, and I can't access the whole album on one side of the record. But are these deal-breakers in the way I listen to my favorite bands? Absolutely not.

I mentioned earlier that this is not my first rodeo with a record player. I actually got my first taste of records when I was little and visited my grandparents on my mom's side in Georgia. I LOVED playing Disney and the Sound of Music soundtrack records on my mom's old stereo. And that was back in the time of cassettes (which, by the way, I find it kind of funny that they're coming back), where you had to rewind tape and guess where your favorite songs were.

So, why am I sharing a post about my little blue Crosley?

Honestly, it's made me appreciate things that are more "manual." I've learned I can appreciate something without it having a screen, and I feel like this is an important lesson at the age of 25, especially as a Millennial at the tail-end of 2016. And it's made me appreciate the way my parents listened to music, too.

Long story short: I'm thankful for this little blue Crosley this Christmas season, and I hope to keep up this record hobby for years to come. :)

A Few of My Favorite [Winter] Things

Monday, December 5, 2016

The one, the only...Cinnamon Red-Hot Apple Cider.

It's December. It doesn't always feel like it where I am (the forecast is a high of 51 degrees and rainy), but it's December, and I love this time of year.

Winter, for me, pretty much begins either on or the day after Thanksgiving, because that's the day the "holiday" season really kicks into high gear. And then, it just gets better: it typically snows in January in Tennessee, not to mention the family birthdays that happen between now and when Spring starts in March.

So, what are my top 5 favorite things this time of year?

  1. My family's cinnamon red-hot apple cider. This cider is a longtime tradition, and I get so excited any time it's brought out. Who'd have thunk that apple cider boiled with Cinnamon Red Hots candy could be so amazing?
  2. Starbucks' caramel brûlée lattes. Again, another drink, but this drink brings back memories of grabbing coffee with my friends as early as high school, when I really got into coffee in the first place. Also, they put candy pieces on top of the whipped cream. That enough is a selling point for me.
  3. Snow. We don't get much snow where I'm from - the most I've ever been in at home is maybe 5-8 inches, tops (I can already hear my Northern readers - but I still love it. Whether I stayed cosy inside and enjoyed the snow from there, or whether I go outside with Dad to try and sled, I adore snow. It's pretty. And it makes me super happy. Not to mention there's an almost magical quality about the way it falls.
  4. Christmas music. We always have Christmas music playing somewhere in the house during the Holiday season, whether we're playing it on Spotify or just playing the local radio station that plays it non-stop. It's all great.
  5. Spending time with family. Getting to celebrate birthdays with family during winter - along with spending time with family during the holidays - will always be special in my book.

What are your top 5 favorite things this time of year? 

My November Short Story Project, AKA Why I Didn't Blog This November

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Hey, dear reader! How have you been? It's definitely been awhile, and I apologize for my longer-than-intended absence from blogging. However, I've been incredibly busy, both with work and a special little project I worked on during the entire month of November.

The project was this: I completed thirty short stories, ranging anywhere from 500-1200 words, one for each day of the month. This was my second year doing this, and it was nothing short of a great time.

I've attempted NaNoWriMo (writing an entire novel in a month) before, but I was in college and I had a harder time trying to fit writing into my schedule as a student. I did this project last year as an alternative to NaNoWriMo because I wanted to 1) have a portfolio of completed short stories, and 2) I didn't want to worry about word count, but instead, I wanted to focus on creating concise, but cohesive plots. And this year, I was determined to do it again.

As a writer, this project has let me explore writing about the genres I love, as well as stretching myself to write genres I'd never written before. And it had me working towards a very specific deadline, too; I finished the project at precisely 11:59 PM on November 30th.

So, what did I use to get this project done?

  • Scrivener - This software is absolutely fantastic, and is a must if you're a writer. (Seriously, I recommend this to any and all of my writer friends.) It was so easy to use this software to organize all of the stories as part of one anthology.
  • Pinterest - I get a ton of my writing ideas from Pinterest, and this month, Pinterest was a valuable resource. I also used other sources to get ideas, but Pinterest was a great jumping-off point for me.
  • My Bullet Journal - This year, I decided to use a bullet journal to keep track of my writing and my stories (see the image above). I was very much inspired by Kara at Boho Berry's NaNoWriMo Bullet Journal, and I collected a ton of reference material for use in my anthology. Plus, I considered it a huge help to have my short stories outlined and my plots ready before I started writing each story. It definitely helped me to focus on crafting each plot, not just coming up with one.

So, why am I blogging about this project?

I wanted to share this in case any of you readers wanted to try it next year (or for any month). If you're wanting to dip your toes in writing, this is a great way to do so, and it's a great way to expand your body of work. Plus, there are plenty of places out there where you can submit your finished works, too. And, hey, you may want to turn your short story into a full-fledged novel or series. :)

Have you ever done NaNoWriMo before? Would you want to try NaNoWriMo or a project like this? Feel free to let me know in the comments!