Second Quarter of 2017 /// Wrap-Up

6:00 AM


I HAVE RETURNED! *hurls coffee beans and confetti and hops around happily* It's been ages. I've really missed spewing my brain thoughts into the void and chatting with the lovely writer peeps that hang out here. I appreciate all of you very much! 

And now I must ask -- how do you like Stan? He's gotten quite the makeover, eh? :P I'm very excited. 

Don't get me wrong! I loved the old design. Really, really loved it. But it wasn't really me anymore. It was, but it was the old me. I've changed a LOT in the past year. I needed something more crisp and snappy. And, after agonizing over dozens of templates for a ridiculous amount of time, I settled with this. Things are still being updated and changed, so bear with me if things are iffy for a bit. 

Now, for that wrap-up I've been promising ...

L I F E 

Oh goodness. Where to even begin?

I know I promised poems but guys it's 1:45 a. m. and I PROBABLY NEED SLEEP but that's okay hahahaha who needs sleep anyway and WOW THIS IS ACUTALLY THE STORY OF MY LIFE?

Motto for this quarter: SLEEP IS FOR THE WEAK.


I am also being hit with the realization that there's a reason most people don't blog at 1:45 in the morning.

Anyway. In all seriousness, the past three months have been C R A Z Y busy. So much has happened, I don't even know how to condense it! But I shall try, with the big highlights.

* I volunteered at my local library (which I've wanted to do for ages)

* I went to Minneapolis, Minnesota for a 3-day writing workshop and I got to be with ALL THE FRENS and it was wonderful. (A full-out blog post will be coming soon for that)

* I spent a week at my childhood bible camp as staff-in-training and was the official camp photographer, which was a fun experience.

* I am on the swim team for my fourth (or fifth?) year in a row (which might sound nice but it actually means getting up stupid early and going to the pool and trying not to drown for an hour and thirty minutes for four days out of the week. SO FUN.)

* I went on a mini mission trip to Kentucky (mentioned in previous post)

My summer still holds two more big trips for me, which I am excited to take. I'm also having to do collegey stuff, which is exciting and scary and nerve wracking.


MOTTO: Everything has their ups and downs.

Writing this past quarter was tricky. I felt like I was trying to pry the tusks off a walrus for half the time, and then the other half was a pleasant stroll through the meadow picking daisies. There was no in-between.

And yes, The Dream Walkers is my angel child. But, as my motto that I totally just made up on the spot at 1:56 in the morning which means it is abosulte gold and you should live by it for the rest of your life says, everything in life has its ups and its downs.

I've had some great moments with DW. I have an awesome new critique partner (*waves*) that has been super encouraging and helped me look at new angles. My lovely cousin read almost half the first draft and swarmed me with encouraging notes which were mostly just rabid fangirling. What more can a writer ask for?

And for the past 15 days, I've been writing on my nano project. You'll have to wait till next week to hear more about that though. Stay tuned!

R E A D I N G 

MOTTO: Sometimes, the brain doesn't go.

I thought about ignoring this section, but I opted against it.

To explain: I haven't been reading much at all. I really want a super good book that will sweep me off my feet, but either I just haven't found one yet (that I haven't read) or something's wrong with me. I am determined to get more reading done though. I WILL READ THE WORDS. I must. My heart longs for them.

I did get a bunch of books at the MYWW though, including a lovely book of poetry by the amazing Caroline Meek and her friend, Skylar Barnes. You should definitely check it out. It's so heart warming and touching.

I also read Book of a Thousand Days (*screams*) and Real Friends, both written (and signed!!!) by Shannon Hale. (I am totally abusing the liberty of parenthetical usage in this post and i am not even  really sorry) Both were absolutely stunning, and you can read my reviews for them on Goodreads and Instagram!

Speaking of which: I got a bookstagram! I am really enjoying it. It does take a good deal of time to snap artsy photos of books, but it's a nice break for me during the day to go to my room and make visual art with books and symbolic items. I really enjoy it, and it's so worth the 20-25 minutes it usually takes. Come check it out and say hi! (the photo graphic for this post is my latest insta photo, if you're wondering what kind of pictures I'm taking)


MOTTO: Quality music can be found in the must unexpected places.

Okay so I have BODYGUARD to thank for this quarter's new music discovery.

...are you ready for it?


...*drum roll*...

Animal documentary soundtracks. 

THINK ABOUT IT. DOESN'T IT MAKE SENSE? I'm still reeling from this discovery. The Planet Earth soundtrack? GORGEOUS. Racer Snakes vs Iguanas sounds like it's from Lord of the Rings. It specifically reminded me of when Frodo almost gets eaten by the giant spider in the third movie. BEAUTIFUL MUSIC. Chinstrap penguins is a great one too.

THANK YOU, BODYGUARD! *high fives*

As for regular music, I am currently listening to True Colors from the Trolls movie on repeat. It's such a beautiful sonngggggg. *flops* and the movie is SO GOOD. YOU NEED TO GO WATCH IT RIGHT NOW.

O N   S T A N 

MOTTO: Do not fear change.

Well, I mean ... I think this one's pretty obvious.

I learned several things about myself in updating Stan. One being that I stress way too much over small things, two being I am rarely pleased with anything, and three being when I am pleased with something, I get very giddy and hyper. Hence, the long rambly post because I AM ACTUALLY HAPPY WITH MY NEW UPDATE.

Also, I literally just realized that Stan reached 100 followers. *dances and hurls lots of coffee beans and M&M's* 70 google followers, and 36 email subscribers!

Thank you guys for making this happen! It's super cool and exciting and yeah I'm just a happy squid muffin right now *beams*

And now, for everyone's favorite ...

F U N   F A C T

MOTTO: Be on the lookout for what you wish to find.

I didn't learn as many fun facts as I'd like this quarter, BUT in an intense game of Skittles with my cousins, somehow the topic of Polish holidays came up. On further research, I learned that many Polish celebrate Epiphany, which takes place on January 6th. It's kind of like Christmas, in that they celebrate the three wise men that visited baby Jesus. So, reminiscent of Christmas, but ... not. (although Polish do celebrate Christmas.)

There are parades and lots of candy and small treats. Just another reason everyone should pack up right now and go to Poland. Actually you'd have to wait six months before the holiday wouldn't that be a shame to spend six months in Poland.

This has been quite lengthy, but I hope you enjoyed! I'll be back next week with a Nano-related post, and then I'll give you ALL THE STORIES from this years writing workshop.

Please, talk to me! Do you like Stan's new design? Has your summer been busy or relaxed? Have you gotten much writing done? Are you doing nano? If so, how are you doing so far? Do you have a fun fact to share? 


Just a Little Longer ...

6:00 AM

Hi guys! Whew. It's been ages. I've missed you all!

I regret to inform you that this is just a "Hello, I'm still alive" post. I'm alive and well and writing like crazy because #nano (which I haven't really talked on here about that? July Camp Nano, that is. I need to change that ...)

Believe it or not, I have not been completely blog sleeping the past month. On the chances I had (meaning, when I wasn't at camp or in Minneapolis writing with alllll the frens *cue the happy squealing*) I was actually slaving away with blogging stuff.

Stan is about to receive a huge makeover, and I'm pretty excited. But it's taking me a lot longer than I'd expected it to, and I am gone this weekend on a mini-mission trip with my church. Hence, the Hannah is super behind on just about everything.

SO. Long story short: you will have to wait just a little bit longer for that quarter wrap-up. (don't worry - it's going to be a special one, with wrap-up's and look-to's and probably some more improv poetry no don't run away) I'm going to try to have everything up and running by next week.

I hope all of you are still alive *pokes around* and doing well! Please, let me know how your summer is going! Have you done anything exciting? If you haven't, have your characters?

Talk to me, peeps! I miss you all! *throws coffee beans and chocolate*

Preparing for a Workshop // Part 3 // explaining your story

6:00 AM

And now it is time for everyone's favorite topic. Every writer's dream moment.

Explaining your story to the clueless. 

You meet someone who has never heard of you, or your story. But, since you're at a writing workshop they KNOW you're a writer. There's no hiding it. There's no avoiding the question. You have to be able to explain your story. I used to get out of explaining my story by saying, "Oh, I write fantasy novels in other worlds with adventure and magic and stuff." And that would satisfy. But not anymore.

Now, fellow writers, you must learn to coherently explain your plot.

There are several ways to do this. My advice would be to write a pitch for your story, which I wrote a post about here. A pitch is a one sentence hook, and my favorite version is the conversation pitch because you can give it to fellow writers in a casual setting and make a conversation.

I do have a few other tips to help you with sharing your story idea with someone!

STEP #1: be confident.

You know your story better than anyone. This person knows nothing (most likely). So be confident when you're telling the person about your book. Speak boldly and don't back down, don't play things off as if they're no biggie. Don't brag about your book, but don't discredit it either.

Be confident! You've spent so much time with your story. So OWN IT.

STEP #2: have something prepared, aside from just your pitch.

Be ready to give a brief description of your main character, your story world, and some of your themes. If you end up striking a full-on conversation with someone who is interested in your premise, you'll want to be able to give them more than just a one line summary. They'll likely want to know a little more plot stuff, and then some other aspects of it.

SO. Think over how you can briefly sum up your story world, your main character and the journey they go through (emotional and physical) in the course of the story, and why you started writing the book/some things you want to say with it.

It's important to mull over these because YOU WANT TO HAVE THOUGHT IT THROUGH. You don't want to get caught of guard because then you'll start blabbing. And you'll say a bunch of stuff that probably didn't need to be said, and you'll lose the listener's attention.

Also, you want the conversation to be double sided. You want to hear about the other person's story too. And if you spend the whole time trying to explain your Very Complicated Main Character, you likely won't get to hear much about their story.

Briefness is especially important when talking to professionals. You want it short and sweet ... and memorable. Those few words you get need to be big words that hook and grab. They need to matter.

At this point, I can hear your thoughts. 

"But HANNAH," you whine. "What is this thing you speak of? Briefness, you call it? What is this magic?"

I know, I know. I tend to write long. My MG novel (which those books are ideally in the 50k-70k range) was 94k words. *sighs* There's a LOT that goes on in that story. And don't even get me started on my YA novel, The Thief's Conspiracy. The first draft was only 85k words, but the second draft was a whopping 126k.

"Summing up" is synonymous with "brutal axe murder". With a cherry on top. (Yes, that's a pun. Yes, it is a good pun. Appreciate me.)

Point being: I GET IT. Summing stuff up is really hard. But a key thing to remember is: you don't have to tell them everything.

You just want to touch on the key points. The things that will pique their interest.

Let's start with summing up your main character.

"But I have five main characters," you might protest. "I can't sum them all up!"

I'm not sure what my opinion on this matter is, but I've heard it say by wise writers that you can only have one main character. I didn't believe it when I was planning The Dream Walkers, but I kind of do now, especially when I found out who my main character was in that book, and why. I saw how she effected the story and characters and carried the plot differently than the others.

I'd say give three to five interesting things about your character. For example, my main character's name is Chloe and she is the oldest of four siblings. She's a Dream Giver, which means she can give people dreams at night and send them to Dream World, where they play on the landscape she crafted. She can also open doors in Dream World that no one else can. But she's a very lonely child, and has to learn in the story that sometimes we might feel alone even when we're surrounded by people, but that doesn't mean we are alone.

See? That's like ... how many words is that? 86. That's an 86 word summary of my main character.

It's so much easier than you might think! Say what is interesting and important, and leave the rest for when the person reads the story.

The same goes for your setting. Be brief, and tell people about the cool and hooking parts.

I'll end with one more "official" step. (because it's centered and in bold and says step before it so it's obviously Very Important.)

STEP #3: listen.

Remember that the person you're speaking to (at least when you're at a workshop) is a writer too. Be sure to keep the conversation balanced. What's their story about? Who is their main character? Why are they writing this book?

When someone is genuinely interested in our book, it's really hard to stop talking. I know I could go on for AGES. It's my passion, after all. How could I not? But don't forget to offer the joy of being heard to someone else.

You both deserve to be listened to.

I won't be back till July, so I wish you all a happy summer! I'll be back with a wrap-up post and I will spam you with my fangirling and pictures let you guys know how my writing workshop goes!

Do you struggle explaining your book to people? Any tips that I missed?