Living Life

I could think of life as a series of to do lists that are waiting to be checked off. Or I could think of life as an adventure. There are about as many ways to think of life as there are books in my house. (hint, a lot) It almost seems impossible to think about life without correlating it to something else.

‘This great journey I am on.’

‘The adventure we call life.’

It could also be the ‘bucket list’ some are trying to accomplish before they die. *raises hand*

Or perhaps there is a great goal that a person is reaching for, everything in their life is aimed at the great goal. Whether it be finding love, owning a company, or landing a dream job.

Along those same lines, life could be a great quest for something. Like my quest to find out how to make the words on the page match exactly the sounds that come out of my mouth when I am upset or excited.

The point is, life is always something. In an attempt to explain what you and I are doing at this very moment. Are we on a journey? Have you been placed in an epic quest? Is doing laundry an adventure? (I mean, it is when your little boys fill their pockets with everything) What exactly are you doing right now as you are reading this blog post? Breathing, your heart is beating, your eyes are moving across the screen. You are living right now.

Isn’t that crazy? You and I are conscious beings that choose what to have for lunch every day. The more I think about it, the more life seems undefinable. I know we can scientifically prove what is living and what is not, but when I really think about what living means, the more I am in awe. What do I call this mere act of thinking and asking questions? It almost blows my mind that we can actually think about living, and even think about thinking.

There are so many ways I could define what I am doing right now, I could be on a quest to finish this blog post, or be on an epic adventure and this is only a pause in the action, or I could be working on my dream to be an author, or all of it!

Yet in the end, it all boils down to one thing. I am living. No matter what I correlate it to, I am living life. Even if I sleep all day and procrastinate on doing the dishes, I am living.

Which is pretty cool, now that I am thinking about it.

Shaina Merrick

Shall I Read You or Shall I Not?

I have limited time. Between work and writing and school, my time to read books is not as extensive as when I could blissfully read every summer afternoon. (those were the days…) Since my reading time is so small, I don’t want to waste it reading books that I don’t like.

I DNF books all the time. (in case you don’t know, DNF stands for ‘did not finish’, I didn’t know that for the longest time and felt stupid for years. So there you go, you are allowed to feel smart again.) Well, not all the time. I do try and finish the books I pick up, especially if I bought them… However, I do not feel obligated to finish a book if I hate it.

I used to feel terrible if I didn’t finish a book. I kept a list of books I never finished in the vain hope that someday I would get back to them and actually finish them. It kinda worked, I finished a couple, but was often as unimpressed with the end as I was with the beginning.

In other words, it wasn’t worth it. So eventually I stopped worrying about it.

I still have a list of books I never finished, but that is because Goodreads doesn’t have a ‘read half of it’ button to push… Maybe someday I will get back to them, but I doubt it.

I often have a very good reason for stopping the book. If I am just bored by the book, or am in the middle of a part I don’t like, I make myself push through and finish. It might take me forever, but I finish it. I don’t want to give up on a book just because it isn’t fast paced or because a character gets in an embarrassing situation. (which, to be honest, is every character in almost every book.)

Usually I stop reading because the content is, well, shall we say R rated? I try to be very careful about what I put in my brain, so excessive language or steamy scenes turns me off of a book. Those words and scenes get stuck up in my mind, and I don’t like that. I can tolerate what would probably be about a PG-13 rating in a movie, past that I wrinkle my nose and cast the book aside.

There are plenty of amazing books out there to read without having to read that stuff. So I don’t.

At this point in my reading career I have read a loooot of books. And I have found out what I like to read about, and what I don’t really like to read about, but might if forced. I don’t like love triangles, and I am not a fan of star crossed romances. (I like happy endings okay?) I don’t like ‘the world against the characters’ trope where everyone hates the main character. So if those look very prominent in the novel, I just won’t pick it up.

Like I said, I am very picky. At this point it probably seems like I have a very narrow set of books I like to read, and will soon run out of those books. Not really. You would be amazed at how many books don’t have love triangles.

I read everything from the classics to middle grade adventures. My shelves boast of scifi, drama, and fantasy. I love high stakes adventure, but am happy to read a book set in one place the whole time. I read picture books if they look really cute.

I like books. I really really like books. Yet at this point, I agree with Hercule Poirot.

‘I am of an age where I know what I like and what I do not like. What I like, I enjoy enormously. What I dislike, I cannot abide.’

So there you go.

Shaina Merrick

Bookshelves and Ramblings

I just bought another bookshelf. Supposedly it is for my movies and other odds and ends. We all know it is going to house the books spilling over from my other bookshelf. Why else would I buy one? It is very pretty (thanks dad for putting it together). It will be even prettier when I have books on it. Obviously.

Somehow, somewhere in the back of my head, I was convinced that moving to this house would make me a better writer, a more organized person, and less stressed. Feel free to laugh all you want, I know it is ridiculous.

I leave dishes in the sink all. of. the. time. Sometimes I forget to switch the laundry and end up with damp clothes in the morning. It is a constant battle to keep my room clean, something I don’t remember dealing with quite so much before I moved out.

I don’t know if I thought I would have more time, or if I thought living alone would kick start those creative juices. Either way, I was wrong. Writing is still hard. I probably have less time for it than before, since there are dishes in the sink and school to do. I am the exact same person I was before I moved, just in a different location.

The same woman who forgets about the tea bags in her mugs until they dry and scatters books around her whole house in various stages of completion. Like supposing a new bookshelf will change how I organize my house but really won’t, I supposed a new location would change me.

My whole life I have wanted to be different. I figured that if I could only wear the perfect outfit, move to a different town, or switch churches, I would be different. That somehow I could escape the things I didn’t like about myself if I just moved far enough away. What if I went to England? Obviously I would be more confident, prettier, and a better writer there. It’s England for crying out loud! Well, I feel bound to inform you that I did not swap personalities just by crossing the ocean.

It kind of sounds depressing, doesn’t it? Here I am. Wherever I go, I come too. It doesn’t matter where my desk is, the same insecurities will show up whenever I start writing.

I could stop there. Live my life moping over the fact that I can’t change who I am because I put a new dress. I don’t want to do that. Life is hard enough without crying over the impossible.

Here is my thought, if moving won’t change what I want changed, what will? Unfortunately, the same thing that has been staring at my face for the last four years. Hard work!

And everyone makes a face.

If I want to be an author, a fancy desk and a library will not make me one, a book will. A book that I wrote. If I want to be healthier, getting a new fridge or a new cookbook will not automatically make me so. Healthy eating and exercise (blech) will.

This isn’t to say that moving out didn’t change me at all, I am much better at cooking now (I think), and way better at sticking to my to do list. I am a better person for all these experiences, but not necessarily a different person. If I want to change things about myself, I will have to put in the work to do it.

Maybe I won’t like every step of the journey, but I know I will like the destination.

Hello me, are you ready?

Shaina Merrick

Liebster Award

So, I was nominated for the Liebster Award. Huh. This little blog has never been tagged for one of those, or really for anything. I guess there is a first time for everything! I am actually excited on the inside. I promise.

There are a few rules, and lots of questions, so hold on to your hats everyone!

Rule One: Thank the Blogger who Nominated you.

Thank you so much Bookmarked One! I am truly honored that you like my blog and tagged me for this! (and I apologize for being late, I, uh, didn’t check my email…)

Rule Two: Answer the Eleven Questions.

Is there a reason why there are eleven? No? Alright then.

What book/movie/pop culture thing do you recommend to everyone?

Well. All must read the Nevermoor series by Jessica Townsend! The series is a riot to read or listen to, and I love practically everything about it. If you like Harry Potter, you will like it. If you like middle grade, you will like it. If you like fantasy in general, you will like it. If you like to laugh, you will like it. So go read!

What are you reading right now?

*glances around house at all the bookmarked books*

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. That book is big enough to be a weapon. I fully plan to use it if my house gets broken into. Probably after the bear spray. Honestly though the whole book reads like a soap opera. So. Much. Drama.

Undaunted Courage by ???. A biography of Merriweather Lewis that mostly talks about the Lewis and Clark expedition. I have been obsessed with it (and Sacajawea), since I was little, so reading it all from his perspective has been really fun!

Hollowpox by Jessica Townsend. The latest book in the Nevermoor series. I have been listening to it on my daily commute. It is nice to laugh while on the way to work, instead of worrying about what the day will hold.

West From Home by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I just started this one, it is letters Laura wrote to her husband while she was visiting their daughter in California. I love the Little House books, so this is like revisiting childhood!

I think that’s it…

What is the coolest thing about your blog?

Um. I am not sure I am the best one to ask about this. But I think my sassy book reviews are the best part. Coming up with snide remarks (all in good fun) about the back cover blurbs is so much fun. I enjoy writing them, and people seem to enjoy reading them!

Why did you decide to start blogging?

I was a little teenager who had lots of opinions she wanted to share. But she didn’t really like speaking in front of people. ‘Nuff said.

What random thing about yourself do you want to share (can you yodel? Do you hate polka dots? Did you once sail around the world)?

I don’t know why, but I really hate the sound of people chewing. Honestly, if I hear people chewing really loud I have to leave the room. Sometimes I even irritate myself. Which isn’t good, because I can’t get away from myself… And then I decided to get a job as a preschool teacher. And half of those kids don’t know what it means to chew quietly. Can I just say that they all got a crash course in table manners?

Favorite travel destination (real or fictional)?

Ireland. As a desert girl, being in a country where almost everything was green was so amazing. The people were friendly, and I loved exploring the island.

But if I could hop inside a fictional world, at the moment I really want a cup of tea at the Hotel Deucalion in Nevermoor.

What piece of wisdom did you once really need to hear?

Ugh. This is a hard question. I have some wise friends who always have good advice during difficult times. It also assumes I have a good memory for specific occasions… However, one that stands out to me is when my friend told me that whatever happens in my future, the Lord will be there to sustain me. I was freaking out about what my future could hold at the time, and that steadied my wailing heart and helped me to remember that God will never leave me nor forsake me.

Where do you go when you need inspiration?

For my stories? Pinterest. I love looking at all the pictures and getting story ideas from them. I spend way too much time laughing at jokes or reading and saving writing prompts. If I have no idea what to write, I go look at my huge board of writing prompts, find something that catches my eye and imagination, and then write a short story. My sister and I used to do it together, and finding out the vastly different ideas we got from one prompt was really fun!

What is the most beautiful place to you (your couch, a meadow under the stars, etc.)?

The desert of Western Colorado in early spring. The desert surrounding my town is varying shades of brown. Even the few plants that struggle into life are brown from the constant sunshine and lack of water. When the wind blows, the dust blows with it, stinging the back of your legs if you are foolish enough to wear shorts. During the winter, everything is brown. The trees, the mountains, the desert, the buildings. Just when you feel as if you will go crazy from all the brown, it rains. The spring rains coax the seeds just under ground to the surface. Whispering that there are fresh breezes and gentle sunshine if they would only push up toward the sky. Up they come, giving the whole desert a greenish tinge that rests the eyes after the monotony of the last few months. The air feels fresh from all the growing things. It doesn’t last long, but those few weeks every year remind me why I make my home here, and why the desert is so beautiful to me.

What would you love to try (crochet! Yodeling! Sailing around the world!)?

Someday, I want to try sky diving. It seems like the closest thing I can get to flying in this world, so it sounds great. No, not bungee jumping, that looks like something straight out of my nightmares. (literally) My sister and I want to go sky diving when she turns eighteen. Though we may just tell our parents after the fact… (shoot, my mom is going to read this.)

Favorite dessert (everyone should have at least one)?

Cheesecake please and thank you. Plain is just fine, though I do also love other kinds. Homemade is the absolute best. I also love white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. And chocolate covered strawberries. And brownies. And pudding. And lots of other sweets I am not going to bother listing out here. Suffice to say I really like sweet things.

Rule 3: Nominate eleven more bloggers for the award.

Um. I don’t follow eleven bloggers? Sorry guys… (in my defense half of the blogs I used to follow sadly stopped writing)

However, I will nominate as many as I can!

Christine Smith at Christine Smith Author She is such a lovely person, and her blog is one of my favorites!

Tracey Dyck is where I get quite a few good book recommendations. My favorites are her Subplots and Storylines posts.

Sabrina Frantz at The Story Alchemist. She has some great fanfiction on her site. And she might be my sister…

*coughIneedtofollowmoreblogscough*

Anyway…

Rule 4: Ask your eleven nominated bloggers eleven questions

Oh dear, this might be the hardest part of this entire post. I have to think of interesting questions to ask??!?!?! Great.

  1. What is your favorite genre of music and why?
  2. What was your last read and what did you think about it?
  3. If you could hop inside any fictional world, where would you go? One catch, you have to stay there for your whole life.
  4. What is your favorite aspect of writing and/or creating?
  5. What is your least favorite food?
  6. Would you rather listen to a book or read a book?
  7. Do you listen to podcasts? If so which is your favorite?
  8. What is one book you want to see a movie made out of?
  9. What is your favorite fantasy creature?
  10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go?
  11. What draws you the most to reading?

Phew, we made it! And I have now realized that I need to go find more blogs to read. Excuse me while I search.

Shaina Merrick

Book Review: Nevermoor

No, I am not making a bad pun about Poe’s poem. Now that we have that out of the way, shall we get to the book review?

Morrigan Crow is cursed.(we think) Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she’s blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks–and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday. (tough luck kid)

But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, (no kidding, they were super freaky) he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.

It’s then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city’s most prestigious organization: the Wundrous Society. (waggles eyebrows) In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each with an extraordinary talent that sets them apart–an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests–(or just trust Jupiter knows what he is doing, that tends to be a good idea) or she’ll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.

This fast-paced plot (oh really?) and imaginative world (absolutely) has a fresh new take on magic that will appeal to a new generation of readers. (excuse me? I don’t look that young)

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor Series Book 1)

First, can we all take a minute and just enjoy the cover? With all the colorful umbrellas and the giant cat in the back ground. You know, the big cat looking out the window, just wanted to make sure you saw that.

I was introduced to ‘Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow’, by a good friend of mine. She basically told me I should read them and I, being good natured at the moment, said yes. I will never regret that decision.

One of the reasons I am drawn back to fantasy again and again as a reader and as a writer is the sheer amount of possibilities of it. Anything is possible in fantasy, from talking animals to fairies to castles in the sky. I know when I open a book that there is no such thing as giant cats that talk, but while I am within the pages, I believe there is. Even if it is only for those brief moments.

Nevermoor captures the possibilities and wonder of fantasy and brings them to your attention like a child capturing a firefly and showing it to you. In the city of Nevermoor, anything is possible. An alley could take you anywhere, a market could be selling vegetables along side fairy dust, a child can learn to trust again.

Morrigan Crow has been an outcast her entire life, shunned from a society that is terrified of her. She lives a half life, spent writing apology notes for things she never did and waiting for her death to come. Something no child should be thinking about, yet she is faced with it day in and day out. Until Jupiter North, explorer extraordinaire and owner of the Hotel Deucalion whisks her away to the Free State and the city of Nevermoor.

It is hard to say which I liked more, the world of Nevermoor or the characters. Like I said earlier, the world of Nevermoor is a romp into the possibilities of the fantasy genre. Which isn’t to say it was chaotic. The author, Jessica Townsend, did not merely stuff everything possible into the story and say it was fine. There are rules to the world, but those rules are, well, much different from the ones that define ours. While umbrella rails may not make sense here on earth, they make perfect sense in Nevermoor.

Morrigan Crow is a likeable character from the very beginning. She struggles to do what is right even while she is trapped in her old world.Hoping to someday earn the love of a father who barely looks her way. She finds happiness where she can, but is never really happy, for good reason. Then she is taken to Nevermoor. There, in the city of talking animals and twisty streets she finds what she has been looking for her whole life.

I think for me, her happy acceptance of Nevermoor was a welcome change from all the angst of the young adult genre. She did not spend half the novel guilty because of one thing or another, nor did she keep unnecessary secrets from the people who were trying to help her. Sorry but I really can’t stand secrets. Maybe some of you like them, but personally I prefer to keep them at a minimum. In stories and in real life.

Morrigan grows from the little thing scared of anyone glancing at her, to a girl confident in who she is and what she wants out of life. And she gets there because of her friends. Not because she suddenly becomes amazing or talented or powerful. Honestly all that outward stuff does not change much in this book. She is still the same Morrigan, just a little more confident.

I don’t think it is much of a stretch to say that we all need someone who believes in us completely and without reservation. I need it, and Morrigan needed it. When the book begins Morrigan had no one who loved her or believed in her. They all thought she was a burden and a curse. And then along comes Jupiter North. He is the first adult in her life who has complete confidence in her even when, perhaps especially when, she does not have any in herself. He believes she is special, in fact believes it so strongly she begins to hope he is right.Through him she meets the staff at the Hotel, all of whom go out of there way to make her comfortable and happy. And through him she meets her very first and very best friend Hawthorne, a willing accomplice to all of her adventures and comic mishaps. These people stick with her through thick and thin, no matter how odd things get, no matter how bad it looks, they are at her side.

Morrigan’s confidence begins with those people. It will not end there, but it is a pretty good beginning.

Remember the cat from earlier? Well, if you aren’t going to remember anything else from this review, remember the talking giant cat Fenestra. You are missing out on an essential part of life if you have not read her sassy remarks. Somehow, a cat is a housekeeper, and manages to keep the rest of the hotel in line at the same time. If she hates you, you will have moths in your closet and hair balls under your pillow. If she likes you, you can expect to be insulted three times a day (at least).

If you need a laugh, a break from reality, or just like a good book, read Nevermoor. You won’t regret it.

Shaina Merrick

The Story I Want

Quick question, if you could read a book about anything, what would you read about? What is your perfect story? Okay I guess not such a quick question, because I am about to dedicate a whole blog post to it.

This year I decided to write the story I wanted to write. Not the one I felt obligated to write because of how long it had been in a notebook, or the one I thought would actually sell. I tried, and writing those stories felt like pulling strings right out of my heart. It was draining, to say the least. So after my last Nano, I took a break from writing, and used that break to decide what I wanted to work on next.

What did I like to write? What did I like to read?

Melancholy stories. Stories where the land itself seems to be a character. Fantastic worlds that may or may not make sense. Simple stories, where the fluff of the story has been peeled back to find, in all its beauty, a bare story underneath. Emotion, real emotion inside of real characters.

My style was and is slowly moving away from Tolkienesque (for which we can thank our lucky stars for, the world doesn’t need another Tolkien copy) to something I still can’t quite put my finger on, but I know I am on my way to finding it (I hope anyway). Stories that don’t have to do with entire worlds (or that have to have an agonizing amount of world building), or saving the universe, but with people. People caught up in events and then what they do about it. I love the ordinary characters who find themselves in the adventure much more than I like ‘Chosen Ones’. I like characters with flaws and who agonize over decisions, but who do the right thing anyway. I like the complicated characters.

Since I like to read stories with those characteristics, why not write those kind of stories? I can at least try, even though those authors are waaaay above my skill level.

During my writing break, my mind constantly went back to two stories in particular. They sat, like so many others, simmering away in my notebooks. There are literally about 20 stories ideas that could grab my attention in my notebooks, yet I only thought about two. In fact, one of the few bits of writing I did in those two months was to write a scene in one of those stories. Obviously, those had captured my attention.

Those stories were the ones I wanted to write.

Without giving too much away, I wanted to share a bit of the two stories I will be working on for the forseeable future. I am really loving the idea of the aesthetic of a novels, so let’s try that! Please forgive the titles, these stories are barely begun so I have no idea what to call them.

Story One: A Love Letter to My Hometown.

Dragons // Sunshine on my face // Fire // Traveler // Smoke and ashes // Burned trees // Wind whipping my hair into my eyes // Breathless // Gold // Desert soil // The veins in a leaf // Steampunk // Bravery // Wild // Strange world // Mountains // Sunrise

Story Two: Letters to a Sister

Duels // Knights // Old Libraries // Wrinkled Letters // Pressed Flowers // Herbs // Spilled Ink // Feather Pen // Monsters // A Sword on the Ground // Tears on a Pillow // Quiet Courage // Dusk // Steel // Gray // Hope // Palaces

Okay, now I really want to know, what would be your perfect book to read? What would it be about?

Shaina Merrick

February (Febrary, Febraury, Febary???) Fantasy Month!

How is this gloomy month treating everyone? February is my least favorite month. The holidays are over and I am just soooo ready for warm weather, but I still have to go through February (and March because I live in CO, but hope spring eternal). Blegh. At least the month is short!

To lift the gloom a tad bit, I am joining Jenelle Schmidt’s Fantasy Month challenge! It is all about fandoms, which is always fun to discuss (and scream and flail over). Though, I am not usually a fangirl. *hidesface* I enjoy things but it takes a lot for me to obsess over it. Though I may find out just how many things I do obsess over in this post… (I think my family is snickering at me right now)

And on we go to the questions!

What was the first fandom you fell into?

Uuuuummmmm… Narnia I think. I remember being obsessed over the Prince Caspian movie before it came out. I would stare at a little article I had clipped out of a magazine for hours. Then I was disappointed when I finally saw it, but don’t judge too harshly guys, I was, like, thirteen. And the battle scenes were scary for my wee little self.

Image result for the lion the witch and the wardrobe movie

My introduction to Narnia was my parents reading them out loud to us. My mom loved them as a child, and as soon as we were old enough she introduced them to us. There are many fond memories of sitting cozily on the couch with my siblings and listening to the adventures of the Pevensie children. I may have had a crush on Peter at the time…

What is the most recent fandom you’ve become a part of?

The Mandalorian! I was absolutely obsessed with it as soon as I saw the Child’s face. I love the characters, the plot, and just everything about it! I had always liked Star Wars (it’s hard not to when your dad loves them), but the Mandalorian is just amazing. One of my favorite shows. As a plus, any reference to another Star Wars show or movie in the Mandalorian is fully explained to me by my geeky dad and sister. So I don’t have to go watch them to get the reference.

Image result for the mandalorian

So I don’t know if the Mandalorian on it’s own counts as a fandom, but we are going to pretend it does. Cool?

Star Wars or Star Trek?

I think the above question answers this question. Definitely Star Wars as of the moment, mostly because of the Mandalorian. Though I do like both. Funny story, my dad is a Star Wars fan, but my mom is a Trekkie. And yet they still have a great relationship. Miracles still do happen guys.

Image result for star wars

Marvel or DC?

Definitely Marvel. I am a fan of Captain America.

Image result for captain america

Endgame ranks among my top movies. (though do I even have an official list?) I loved it so much, even though it is one of the very few movies I have ever cried during.

What is a fandom you love enough to want to live in that world?

Perhaps we should rephrase this question to what fandom I think I would survive in. The answer would be, hm, well? My survival skills are very sad, so perhaps we shall go with the Mandalorian. I would really like to hang out with him (really I just want to hold the Child) and if I was next to the Mandalorian I have a very good chance of not dying. Right?

Image result for the mandalorian

If you could hang out with a character from one of your fandoms, who would it be and why?

I reaaaaally want to hold the Child, alright? ‘Nuff said.

(yes I am refusing to say his name on purpose, I don’t like it)

Image result for the mandalorian the child

Unknown fandom (something you love and no one else seems to have heard of)?

*clearsthroat*

*unrollslongscroll*

Ready?

The Last Unicorn

Image result for the last unicorn

Royden Lepps’ Rust

Image result for royden lepps rust

Hamlet (shshshsh, it is totally a fandom)

Image result for hamlet david tennant

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (I know you have heard of it, and then outgrew it, but I never outgrew this fandom…)

Image result for teenage mutant ninja turtles

The Prydain Chronicles

Image result for The Prydain Chronicles

Those are the top ones. I like things no one has heard of. Which means I spend a lot of time trying to convince my friends to read things…

Well that was interesting, and slightly embarrassing… Your turn! Please tell me your fandoms (cool and embarrassing)! I wish to know, and to not feel quite so embarrassed over here.

Shaina Merrick

New Year Resolutions (or not)

Any one want to go time traveling with me? Yes? Well then, let’s all go back one month to January so I can properly write a New Years Resolution post. Ready? Here we go!

Last year I had a looong list of resolutions that covered everything from habits I wanted to break to writing goals I wanted to achieve. Some were from the year before, most were new ones I wanted to tackle in 2020. Looking back, I am really not sure how well I did because, well, somewhere along the line I lost the list.

Oops.

At this point I can only remember one of the things on the list, and I didn’t do it. So did I fail? Or did I do amazing and not even know it? We are going with the latter one. Okay?

Since all my resolutions went over so well last year, I decided to try something new this year.

See, ever year I make a set of resolutions. Sometimes it is more like a glorified to do list, sometimes it is things I want to work on. Like exercise more, or finish all the books on my shelf (both Herculean tasks). Things get repeated year after year and sometimes, eventually, it happens. But this year, I had enough to do lists on the brain. I work, I go to school, I write, read, and occasionally I squeeze in a movie or two. There are enough lists to follow, I don’t really want to make yet another one.

So I decided to try something else. A Happiness Project.

What is a Happiness Project? The whole idea was started by Gretchen Rubin. It is kind of a to do list, kind of a new years resolution, and kind of a habit chart. Basically you break your life down into sections and then decide what you can do to make that area of your life better or happier. Like the title suggests, the whole idea is to bring more happiness into your life. (to learn more you can follow this link)

I decided to section my life off into 5 core pieces that I really wanted to work on this year. The first one was health. Surprise surprise. Isn’t that the most popular resolution? In that section I stuck my desire to meal plan better and to go off sugar for a while, among other things. Did I do it all? No. But I did most of it, and I did become healthier and that leads to being happier.

It is kind of a long list of things I want to do and work. But instead of a to do list that I-must-get-done-at-all-costs and stresses me out when I don’t do it, I have a sectioned list of ways to make my life better and happier. Thus far I have learned how to meal plan (well, better anyway), updated my closet, and started drinking more water. Each of those things have made my life better, and happier.

Isn’t that what New Years Resolutions are supposed to be about anyway?

Shaina Merrick

I’m baaack.

Hello!

*And I explode back on the scene in a cloud of cosmic dust.*

Well, *brushes the dust off my shoulders* it has been a while hasn’t it? Two months?!? Yikes.

Sorry.

What on earth have been doing in that time?

Reading. Obviously. Lots and lots of interesting books. I think I finally crawled out of the reading hole of meh I had fallen into last year.

I finally finished the Mandalorian (let all my family rejoice). I thoroughly enjoyed the ending. Then I dove straight into Downton Abbey which I am also completely enjoying. (I never actually thought I would like tv shows so much, so this interesting)

But all the reading and the watching had to come in between two rather important things. Work, and school.

Yes I said school. I have fallen headfirst into the world of homework and papers and tests. It was a long time in the works, and I am excited about this decision. When I am not wracking my brains over a math problem that is.

Don’t worry, I am not about to announce yet another hiatus. Two months was enough for me, I am ready to write again.

I think the biggest reason I took the two months off without even meaning to was Nano. Writing 50,000 words in one month is nothing to sneeze at, and finishing the novel I have spent years on is no mean feat either. After that I was creatively dry, so dry I didn’t realize till later how bad it was. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to write, there were no words with which to write. I had used the last ones up. Perhaps I would have been afraid if I had known what was going on. There is a creepy crawly fear in the back of my mind that eventually I will run out of things to say. But I was so busy starting school and working I didn’t even notice.

All I knew was that I was tired. So I didn’t write. And thankfully, my income does not depend on my writing, so I was able to do that. Instead I read good books and I watched good movies and I talked with good friends. I dabbled in short stories when inspiration struck and journaled my thoughts and frustrations. I knew there was a whole world of stories waiting for me, I just couldn’t drum up the energy to dive into them again.

In the meantime, the well I had drank so dry became filled again, and now I can look my stories in the eye and tell them I am coming back. Sometime very soon, I will pick up a story and begin it.

Anyway. Hello and welcome back to the blog everyone! In the near future expect a long overdue new year new resolutions post and more book reviews.

Anything exciting happen while I was gone?

Shaina Merrick

And it Ended.

I did it. Good golly I actually won Nano. And I completed my novel. In case anyone was wondering.

GUYS I FINISHED MY NOVEL!!!!

Ya know, just the one I have been working on for the last 5 to 7 years. (it took a while before I learned the fine art of dating things) I did it. I wrote the end. Can I sleep now?

Tired The Big Bang Theory GIF

Is it done? Oh yes. Is it terrible? Absolutely. Does it need to edited within an inch of its life? Oh yeah! The thing is a 100,000+ word mess of meanderings and rabbit trails and IhavenoideawhatIamdoing-ness.

I did not stick to the plot. I tried, really I tried. But I failed. Is anybody surprised? Not me anyway. And I am not going to sit and here and say that the novel is any stronger for my inability to stay on plot. Because I have no idea if I helped or hindered my story with all the meandering. At this point I can’t see the forest for the trees people.

On to some stats!

Most Words a Day During Nano: 5,267

Least Words a Day During Nano: 51 (it was a bad day)

Finished Nano at: 50,065

Words in Completed Novel: 129,852 (0.o)

What even guys. I finished a 100,000+ novel in a year. To celebrate I will be sleeping or watching my favorite tv show.

There was a badge on Nano this year that you got if you updated your word count every day. So, you know, if you write every day. I really like getting badges. Just give me a gold sticker and I’ll be happy. Motivated by a shiny little badge, I wrote every single day, even if it was only 51 words. (often at 10:00 at night but we don’t need to talk about that…)

I have never actually written for 30 days straight in a row before. I usually get tired after about five and then take a break for a while. This year exercised some writing muscles! Also, I know I can do it now. It is possible for me to write every day and still be semi sort of sane. It is good to know what you can and can not do, or in other words where your limits are.

I wrote 5,000 words in one day! Wow! Did I mention I am a slow writer (only like every other post). That has never happened before in the history of me. But I did it! I wrote 5k words! During the last week I wrote 3,300 words a day because I was soooo behind. Do not be like me and leave the bulk of your story till the last two weeks of Nano. So much stress… But hey, I made it!

Last Monday I almost quit. I knew I was seriously behind and I wasn’t sure if I could make the time to get caught back up and win. Let alone finish my novel. Then I realized if I didn’t finish it now, there was a high chance I never would. I was not as excited about my story as I used to be, and I am about to start college, which means I get to say goodbye to free time. This was the time to write, I could either buck up and do it, or choose to put it aside. I chose to finish it. I whipped out my handy dandy calculator and figured out how many words I needed to write a day to win. And then I did it.

Thus proving to myself that I did not need inspiration or the perfect words. I just had to sit down and write. The words aren’t pretty, in fact most of the lines are probably garbage. That is what editing is for. I can’t edit something that isn’t there.

All in all, it was a good Nano. I won, I finished my novel, and I proved to myself what exactly I can do when a deadline is approaching with all of its death and glory.

If you will excuse me, I am going to go rest on my laurels now.

Shaina Merrick