Guest Post on Savannah Grace's new blog, Inspiring Writes

Hello everyone!  Instead of posting something here, I decided to send you over to Savannah Grace's new blog, Inspiring Writes, where she interviewed me on writing and design!  I'll be hanging around the comments there and answering your questions too!

(Graphic courtesy of Savannah Grace)

Also, her blog is awesome and you should follow it. :)


Camp NaNoWriMo April 2018 Update

Camp NaNoWriMo is halfway over. *cue screaming*

I'm working on getting over my writer's block.  It went away at the beginning of the month, but it's slowly coming back.  I attribute that to the difficult scenes that are coming up (some including a bank robbery shhhhh).  Also, I'm dealing with pacing issues.  I know I can fix that stuff in editing, but I'd rather not have too?

Life's also been pretty busy.  No, Camp NaNoWriMo doesn't help with that, BUT it does make me feel more productive.  I know that I'm still a writer even if I don't write every day, but it's hard to believe it.  Camp helps keep me on track and feel like I'm being productive, even if I'm just barely plugging along at my book.

I try to write every night before I shower, no matter how late it is.  It helps me relax, and I write faster with sleep as my motivation.

In other news, I completed the Pride and Prejudice movie (which I turn in tomorrow!) and helped film and edit a book trailer for C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters directed by my friend Jessica.  Both were fabulous projects and made me realize how much I miss filmmaking.  (So, yeah, I'm planning on making another movie this summer!)

This month, I've had to learn how to say no (or wait) to things.  I really like doing things for people (especially if people ask me to do something creative for them), and I feel badly if I do have to say no.  However, I don't have time to commit to so many projects.  I've had to do that a few times this month and it's something I need to work on.

Word Count Progress

So far, I'm on schedule (by the time I post this, anyway).  At the beginning of the month, I wrote a lot more to give myself some wiggle room.  Sadly, I've used that up...

How is Camp NaNoWriMo going for you?  Are you on target or do you need to catch up?


Live a Bold, Fearless Life

I want to share something super personal with you today.  So I'm writing this post as Megan (my real name), not as Alea.

I struggle with fear A LOT.  Seriously, all the time.  I get it when I have to do something outside of my normal routine; I get it when I have to write a fight scene (I'm super bad at describing them); I get it when I only have one chance to get something right.  You name it, I'm scared of it.  That's pretty much how it goes for me.

Since my freshman year in high school, a year after my parents divorced, I've had a strange urge to dye my hair copper red. I never did, but the desire would not let me go. I found myself hoarding pictures of red hair I liked and adding “someday this will be my hair” as captions. For some strange reason, I wanted to do this drastic, almost unheard-of thing.  Maybe it was because I wanted to become a “better version” of myself. I'm not really sure.  However, I never summed up the courage to actually do it.  I was scared of what others would think of me if I did, and I was scared that it wouldn't look good on me. (Mostly the first, though).

Just as a side note, I do like my natural
hair color.
So, it remained my secret desire tucked away in the corner of my mind where I only went when I dreamed of my ideal self.  In my imaginary redhead self, I was independent and unafraid to take risks.  In reality, I was slipping into a place of deep depression and anxiety, and I didn't run to God for help.  In fact, I didn't run to anyone for help.  I burrowed deep within my heart’s self-built walls to slowly die from the pain.

I stayed isolated until the summer before my senior year in high school, when I agreed to go on a mission trip to Peru.  My heart screamed at me not to go, but I could not bring myself to tell my mom and sister.  If I said something, they would see the fake that I was.  Part of me wanted to know God, but I did not feel His presence and never felt an urge to read the Bible.  On the second day of the trip, I met a woman with a fire inside of her that showed in the words she spoke and the glimmer in her eyes.  From the moment I first spoke to her, I knew I wanted that same fire.  She told me to ask God to reveal himself to me on the trip. Something about her motivated me to do just that.  While in Peru, God pressed on my heart the lie that I was living.  I was not really a Christian.  I struggled with God until July 4, 2017, when I surrendered my fear, depression, anxiety, and ultimately my life to the One who gave His life so I could live.

My ideal, “red-haired self” evolved from a “brave” girl to someone unashamed of her faith who boldly serves the Lord she loves with all her heart. Life is not about having a certain hair color, it is about living boldly. It is about blasting through my comfort zone and living completely for God. It is about making conscious decisions to make Him the center of my life and not being afraid to share it. It is about trusting God enough to help me go off to college and learn to be more independent. It is about stepping out of God’s way and not letting myself hold me back from what He has planned.

Now this essay--this mission statement--sounds great on paper (or on a computer screen).  It makes living out this lifestyle seem easy, doesn't it?  Haha, no.  I actually wrote this around September of last year just after I visited the college I want to go to. I actually used it (with a few modifications) as my college essay to submit to this college. I decided to live fearlessly months ago, but I never followed through.  I sunk back into the numbness.  (Going numb is my way of coping with difficult and scary things.  The problem with this is you don't feel anything--good or bad.)

Recently, I began reading Live Fearless by Sadie Robertson.  I'm halfway through it now and I relate so much to her.  In this book, she shares many of her struggles with intense fear (which are very similar to my own) and her ways of not letting fear get to her.  She shares how ultimately, we can't conquer fear on our own.  She really pours her heart into this book, and anyone who reads it can tell that her faith is authentic. Her story has encouraged me to begin my journey again.  I don't know what that will look like, but God has something amazing in store.

This morning (I wrote this post on Sunday), my pastor talked about getting ready to be used by God.  This is truly amazing because that's really what this journey is all about.

I hope this post can be an encouragement to you.  I want you to know that you're not alone in your fear and that as a Child of God, you can overcome it!  It takes a lot of work (hey, I'm only working on it), but it will be worth it.


How to Survive April Camp NaNoWriMo 2018

April is actually the worst month for Camp NaNoWriMo.  The school year ends in just a few weeks and teachers like to pile on more work (and essays ugh).  So...here's how to survive Camp this year.

1. Set a manageable goal.

This seems very straightforward, but it's actually hard to do.  I really want to bang out an entire novel, but that's very unrealistic and overwhelming to me.  That's why I set a lower goal that I'm pretty sure to complete.  (Hey, a little progress is still progress!)

2. Join an epic cabin!

Find people who will inspire and motivate you.  Find the people who will word sprint with you at those times when you really don't feel like writing.

3. Write.  Every.  Day.

Seems like a no-brainer, but some nights you will just want to go to bed.  Tell yourself that you can't go to sleep until you write your allotted number of words for today.  Remember that once you let it slide by once, it's easier to let days go by where you don't touch your WIP.  Discipline is key.

4. Save a little time to refuel.

How to you fill yourself up creatively?  Save some time for reading, watching a movie (don't get too sucked into electronics, though), and reading your Bible.  Don't completely burn yourself out!

5. Sometimes the words will flow (and actually sound decent!) and sometimes they won't.

During those times when you know you're using "said" way too much and start every single paragraph with your MC's name, KEEP GOING.  You can fix that later.  That's what editing is for.

6. Remember that Camp NaNoWriMo isn't the most important thing in the world.

(Forget this tip if you have an actual deadline.  Then it is the most important thing.). I have to remember this too.  Especially if you're in school, keep Camp NaNoWriMo as a higher priority extracurricular activity.  If school is super demanding right now, consider lowering your goal.  There's no shame in lowering your goal if you have a lot of very important things happening.  Don't kill yourself over something that's supposed to be fun/productive.  (Writing probably isn't your job yet, even though you're supposed to consider it your job.  Sometimes it's okay to treat it like a hobby.)

Do you have any tips to surviving Camp?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!