Monday, May 30, 2016

Happenings of the Month: May 2016

Happenings of the Month May 2016

Entertainment of the Month:

  • Movies/TV

I’ve wanted to see The Hundred-Foot Journey since it came out a couple years ago, but I didn’t get around to it until a couple of weeks ago, when I checked it out from the library. Now I wish I’d seen it sooner! The Hundred-Foot Journey tells the story of the Kadam family and their talented son Hassan, who move from India after a tragedy and end up in France. Here they open up a culturally-Indian restaurant right across the street from the distinctly and classically French restaurant of Madame Mallory. What follows is in fascinating and hilarious story of overcoming prejudice and finding your true home, accompanied by absolutely gorgeous scenery and food cinematography. The amazing cast includes Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal, and Charlotte Le Bon. I very highly recommend this one.

  • Books

I read a total of twelve books in May, which makes me very happy. My favorite of them all, though, was Elantris by Brandon Sanderson.

Elantris used to be beautiful. Capital of Arelon, the city shone with its own brilliant light. And its inhabitants, with strange magical powers and beautiful, otherworldly appearances, were worshipped as gods. But ten years ago, something went horribly wrong, and now the process that made ordinary people into stars turns them instead into diseased shadows of their former selves. Elantris is considered a curse and avoided as such. But Selene, princess of Teod and newly widowed princess of Arelon, wants to know why. Her questions come in the midst of a fierce battle for the very soul of Arelon. The Empire of Fjordell is determined to win the world for Shu-Dereth, and Selene is just as determined that they won’t succeed. While some search for the secrets of Elantris, they will find themselves fighting for the very soul of a nation.

This book is incredible, with deep, intriguing characters, a compelling plot, and a very interesting system of magic. It’s a bit dark for younger readers, but I highly recommend it.

  • Music

"Nearer, My God to Thee" - BYU Vocal Point ft. BYU Men's Chorus – This song is so gorgeous, and I keep coming back to it. Over and over… Seriously, it’s amazing.

"Once in a Lifetime" - Landon Austin – I recently discovered Landon Austin because of an Anthem Lights video, and I like him. This is an original, really sweet, love song.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Soundtrack - Various Artists – This has also been on repeat lately. I watched The Man From U.N.C.L.E. film recently (twice in two days) and absolutely fell in love with both it and its soundtrack. There are some really fun tracks on this album, though I would personally suggest watching the movie before listening to the music. It makes the listening experience so much more amazing.

My Life this Month:

At first, I was tempted to say that nothing’s changed since my last Happenings of the Month post. I’m kind of in a summer lull between big things. But then I realized that plenty of things have happened.

I’ve been working on Raiders’ Rise again! I’m so incredibly excited about it! As I’ve said before, I really haven’t written much at all in the past few months, and editing on my novel has fallen along the wayside, too. For some reason, I’ve got my enthusiasm back now. I’ve been worldbuilding like crazy for the past couple weeks, making something cohesive and unique out of something that was, at best, patchwork in the first draft. I’ve been doing all kinds of crazy and exhausting things for this world. But more on that in my next post. Also, I finally bought Scrivener, so that’s a project all on it’s own…

I’ve also been doing some drawing lessons. I recently discovered this website via the blog of one Liam Wood. It starts drawing lessons from the very beginning, addressing someone who knows nothing about the skill (i.e. ME). By natural talent’s measure, I have no business drawing. But this teacher really stresses that drawing is a learned skill that can be enhanced by natural talent. I haven’t gotten too far, but I’m currently having fun with stick figures.

I also just binge watched the Youtube series Emma Approved in two days. I hadn’t watched it in a really long time, and it made me super happy. Binge watching is not exactly a habit that I advise indulging in often, but this was one of those times where it worked. Relationships of all kinds have been one of those things I’ve been mulling over this past month, and sometimes it’s nice to just escape into some fictional ones.

I’ve gotten back into the habit of doing morning devotions, too. Reading my Bible is not something I’ve done a lot of recently, and I didn’t realize how much I missed it. Getting back into the Word was like a soul-cleansing. I’ve still got a lot of stuff going through my head, but I feel more anchored. And that is incredibly reassuring.

Other Web Happenings:

5 Trends Christian Millennials MUST Stop Doing | John Wesley Reid

Single You Will Be the Married You | Desiring God

Articles by YOU and for YOU | Go Teen Writers – The Go Teen Writers site is looking for article submissions from young authors!

A Tool For Your Toolbox: Personification | The Writer's Alley

So, what was May like for all of you? Getting out of school, starting new jobs, discovering new hobbies? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, May 27, 2016

My Month in Proverbs, Part 6

Today is my sixth and final post from my month in Proverbs. You can access Parts 1-5 here.

Month in Proverbs Part 6

Proverbs 26:20 “Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.”

Think of fire, so powerful and potentially destructive. Yet, without fuel, it is impotent. This verse makes a parallel between fire and a quarrel. And what feeds a quarrel? Gossip. Our tongues have so much power. And when we don’t control them, it’s amazing what they unleash. Disagreements fly out of proportion when other people’s words get involved. Our tongues need a supernatural taming.

Proverbs 27:1 “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”

“What is man that you should think of him?” Humans are nothing. Really, what do we have that’s so special? We’re destructive and selfish on our own. It’s God Who makes us worth anything. He chose to create us, and He chooses to care for us. We can rest in that promise. What does tomorrow matter when I’m resting in the arms of God? He’s got everything taken care of. No, I don’t know what the future holds. But I know it’s in His perfect timing and plan. And I can rest in that.

Proverbs 28:19 “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty.”

So often I find myself doing exactly this: chasing fantasies. I get so caught up in what I think I want and what might come to be that I lose sight of the here and now. I’m coming to realize that God put me where I am for a reason. Very often, His will is that we keep taking the steps before us. Focus on the task at hand; look for the opportunities God has placed right before you. Don’t get so caught up in pursuing possibilities that you miss now.

Proverbs 29:20 “Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them.”

After reading most of Proverbs, I realize how poorly fools are spoken of. To be called a fool is one of the worst things that can be said of you. Yet here we see that speaking in haste is actually worse. I think out loud all the time, using my words to process my thoughts. And that’s not always bad. It can be quite useful, but I have to be aware of my surroundings. Who am I talking to? What am I talking about? Awareness and discretion are both so important for a Christian. We can’t lose control over our mouths; after all, they are probably the most important part of our bodies.

Proverbs 30:6 “Do not add to His words, or He will rebuke you and call you a liar.”

Following the Lord is actually quite simple: do what He says with an open heart. So why then do we add new things constantly? To be a good Christian, you must give this much to the poor. If you really want to follow Jesus, you must be in church three times a week. We’ve become modern-day Pharisees, so concerned with adding all these rules that we lose sight of God’s heart. We unnecessarily overcomplicate the Gospel, and that displeases God. We’ve got to stop adding things to that which the Bible clearly spells out. And those things which are personal decisions? We need to leave those between the individual and God.

Proverbs 31:10-31

Most of you probably are quite familiar with this passage, but, if you’d like to read it yourself, click the reference.

One of the most interesting things to me about the so-called Proverbs 31 Woman, the “wife of noble character,” is how capable and prepared she is. She clothes her family and prepares food and purchases fields. Those are not skills one picks up at the drop of a hat. Marriage does not automatically a good wife make. Instead, the wife you will be is a product of the choices you make as a single woman. The same goes for young men. Lord, help me to be productive and forward-thinking. Teach me to be open and teachable, so that you can make me into the woman you want me to be.

So, what do ya’ll think of these verses? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Writing Through My Years: A Walk Down Memory Lane

My writing has lately been, at best, sparse. I’ve had to set it aside in favor of slightly more important things. But I miss it. And a break is far different than giving up. Anyway, I’ve been thinking recently about the writing that I have done. The more I thought about it, the more I decided to share it with you. Thus, I present a walk down memory lane.

Writing Through My Years

  • Pre-2009 – First Writing Projects: I’ve always liked writing; when I was young, it was my best subject in school. I remember going way too in-depth on a school project where I was supposed to write a story with my vocabulary words. What could have been one or two pages densely incorporating my vocab turned into a full-on short story where I was lucky if one of my words appeared per page. Though I took more time on that than I was supposed to, I really enjoyed it. Eventually, I moved on to non-school projects. Some of the timeline gets a little mixed up in my head, but I believe the first book I attempted was my detective story. I can only wince now when I think about it or read anything from it. Emma Starr, Girl Detective. Gag. This story was a full-on Nancy Drew copycat, right down to the convertible my heroine drove and her two girl best friends. I only got a couple chapters into that one, but I was quite enthused, even designing some kind of cover art. I also wrote several short stories for school; I called them my Sylvia Stamherst stories, in which the narrator, Sylvia, would introduce whatever topic I was covering, whether that be Cowboys and Indians or a Twenty-First Century Family.
  • 2009 – First Major Project: The project that stands out the most in my mind from my early attempts at writing is my Civil War book. When I began Caught in the Middle of a Conflict, I also apparently had a thing for alliteration. This was the first project where I actually did some backstory work, creating character profiles. The story suffered from too many unimportant characters, an extreme dose of historical inaccuracy, and entirely too much exposition. I literally spent hours researching colors and furniture so that I could give painfully detailed descriptions of three different bedrooms. Though I got quite far into this one, most of what I wrote was set-up, and I didn’t finish it. This is the first project that I actually do want to go back to sometime and redo.
  • 2011 – First Completed Draft: During high school, I did the One Year Adventure Novel Program (OYAN). Over the course of that school year, I was guided step-by-step in creating my novel’s characters, themes, and plot; then I wrote the entire story. I got as far as the second draft, which was a huge accomplishment for me. A Title Taken told the story of a young French girl taken from her home by an evil count who eventually ends up fighting for justice. The cliches make my head hurt – I mean, just read that description! In addition, I had a love triangle (of course) and a heroine who managed to beat full knights in battle with swords. Oi… Part of OYAN is the novel contest for its students, so I was able to send my novel off to that, as well. I didn’t get anywhere close to winning, but I believe I placed as a semi-finalist, which was great.
  • 2012 – First Blog Post: In September of 2012, I began The Ink Loft. You can find the first post here. It’s funny to look back at those posts and see 1) what I began with, 2) how far I’ve come, and 3) how horridly tiny that print was. Though I’ve gone through some rough patches here and there, this blog has been a huge blessing to me, and each of you readers mean more than you probably know!
  • 2013 – First Contest Entry (non-OYAN): My first non-OYAN contest entry was the Gemini Flash Fiction contest, in which I submitted two stories, “Sensations of Music” and “Well Worth the Wait.” I’ve posted the former on my blog, and you can find it here. Neither of them placed, and, frankly, I was disappointed with the stories that did. This contest confronted me with the fact that secular fiction is depressing and definitely not my sphere.

    Courtesy of Pixabay

  • 2013 – First Blog Story: Ah, the “Pinata Birthday Party.” This was an… interesting… project, part of a writing challenge that I set for myself. Which, honestly, didn’t last long. It was a good experience, though.
  • 2014 – Second Completed Draft: Raiders’ Rise is my biggest project to date. It is also one of my favorites. Topping out at 30 chapters and 132,264 words, this project, which I’ve so far only finished the first draft on, took me about two years to complete. the idea first came to me in 2012, and I worked on it from then on, gradually picking up speed for the project. The editing is an ongoing top-of-the-to-do-list item for me. Though it needs a lot of work, I’m still really happy with what I was able to accomplish on it, and I’m excited to rework it and make it better.
  • 2014 – First Flash Fiction Challenge: In April-May of 2014, I hosted my very first Flash Fiction Challenge, which was an absolute blast. Though I was late, I came up with this story, and I was fairly pleased with it. The challenges have only grown from then, and they seem to be one of the most popular things on this blog.
  • 2014 – First Novella: Every year, Rooglewood Press holds a contest for fairytale retellings. In 2014, the theme was Beauty and the Beast. Over the course of about four months, I created a novella involving a young man with cyborg implants, a young woman from eighteenth-century France, and a frantic race to cure his disease. Through Time was an exhausting project for me, but it was a really good project for me, too. It didn’t end up getting accepted, but it was my first completed novella, topping out at just under 20K words (I had to cut so much!). I first used Scrivener for this project. And it was really my first major editing effort. I’m really excited to work on this story more in the future.
  • 2015 – First Serial Story: After finishing the draft of Through Time, I took about a week and a half break before edits (I was kind of crunched for time). In that break, I wrote a short story set in space and based on a prompt from a really neat book I have. The result was Truth in Space, a journal-style story that, while technically a 2014 project, wasn’t posted to The Ink Loft until April 2015. You can find all the installments here.

Originally, I was going to include my favorite blog post of all time, but then I couldn’t decide which one was my favorite, so my favorite posts (plural) will appear in a future post. Clearly, I haven’t written a lot since last year. Technically, I have written a few pieces; after all, we just had another Flash Fiction Challenge a couple months ago. But it’s been a rough patch for me. I want to get back into writing this summer – I need to edit Raiders’ Rise and expand Through Time. I’m starting to feel the spark of blogging again.

This post turned out to be a lot more emotional for me than I expected it to be. It started out as just a fun review of what I’ve done, but, as I looked up dates and got distracted going through stories, emails, and blog posts, I found myself getting a bit choked up. As that first blog post (which I linked to) says, this has been a journey. I can feel the weight of each step. And I’m so excited to see where God’s leading next.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happenings of the Month: April 2016

Oh my goodness, I didn’t post anything in April! I’m horrified! And after I promised ya’ll at least two posts a month, too. I’m sorry. I value each and every one you readers immensely, but I’ve got to hold up my end of the deal here. Besides, I love blogging. I just need to remind myself of that every now and then. I’m actually going to skip the Entertainment of the Month section for this post (sorry!), but here’s my Happenings of April.

Happenings of the Month April 2016

My Life This Month:

Well, ya’ll already know that I haven’t blogged anything in a month. Even this post is later than it was supposed to be. It’s indicative of how crazy April was for me.

Finals week was not as bad for me as it was for some, but the end of the semester is always a little nuts. The hardest part of it for me wasn’t my assignments but rather the stress of choosing classes for next fall. It’s frustrating that they expect you to choose classes right as you’re brain-dead from your semester, but I didn’t want to risk my classes being full by the time I got around to it. So, such is life. I survived the process, thankfully. I’ll have a full load next semester, but I’m excited to be taking a history class. I love history, but I haven’t had to the chance to take it until now. So, I’m looking forward to that.

I closed out this semester with good grades, which is a blessing. I was happy to be done with most of my classes, but saying goodbye to ASL was harder than I expected it to be. I’ve had this teacher and most of these classmates for about eight months now, and suddenly it was over. I did really well on my final presentation, thankfully, but leaving class was unexpectedly difficult for me. This wasn’t one of those classes where you go all semester without meeting each other; this was a really interactive class. I was sad to leave. I still am, honestly. I’m feeling kind of melancholy. Time will cure it, but enough time hasn’t passed yet. Goodbyes are hard.

I am taking more ASL next fall, but most of my classmates aren’t taking up that class. So, it will be different, for sure. As for this summer, I’ll keep going to deaf socials and try to get some actual order into my life. Cleaning my room is first on the list (it is a disaster), followed by my writing. For now, I’m living with the end-of-the-semester blues and waiting for my summer job to start. Such is life.

Other Web Happenings:

5 Trends Christian Millennials Must Stop Doing | John Wesley Reid

5 Pieces of "Out-Dated" Dating Advice | Marshall Seger – What we can learn about dating from the story of Isaac and Rebekah

"Nearer, My God, to Thee" | BYU Vocal Point ft. BYU Men's Chorus

So, tell me how ya’ll are doing. How was April for each of you?