Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Do You Like Your Story Endings Open for Interpretation or Tied Up With a Bow?

I got the idea for this post from reading Shannon's post on open endings at "It Starts at Midnight." You should definitely check it out and join in the discussion!

Reading her post got me thinking: what kinds of endings do you prefer? There are so many differing opinions on how books should be wrapped up; that much is clear when perusing reviews and seeing both the one-star and five-star ends of the spectrum.

So: ambiguity or neatly wrapped up? Personally, I think there are perks to both.


Ambiguous Endings

As anyone who's read my bio on the sidebar of this blog knows, I'm a big fan of bittersweet endings. And with bittersweet endings usually comes some ambiguity. Often that mixture between holding back the tears while also feeling satisfied is because you don't know for sure what's going to happen to these characters after you close the book. Do the romantic interests end up with each other later on or not? Will the protagonist reach their goals? Is everyone going to be okay?


I feel like there’s an important distinction between open endings and ambiguous ones. In my opinion, open endings are more out of nowhere. Those resolutions almost seem like the author ran out of steam, tacked on a few paragraphs, and called it an ending so readers could decide for themselves what happened afterwards. That’s lazy. Open endings don't make me think for days after finishing a book about the characters and where they might be. They usually make me stare at a wall in annoyance or do something like this:


But I adore ambiguous endings. Those feel more artistic, where the story is somewhat resolved but not definite, so you can almost imagine the characters living their lives past the last pages of the book. In those cases, I think the author usually knows what happens next, but they don’t lay it all out for you.

I'm not sure exactly why I love ambiguous endings so much, but I know there's something strangely satisfying about the frustration of not being able to be 100% sure about where/how the characters end up. It makes my imagination run wild. I think it's more realistic for resolutions to be imperfect and unsure, which makes the books and the characters feel more real, as a result. It's also fun to take this piece of art the author has laid the groundwork for and be able to fill some of the gaps in yourself. It's not all that different from fan-fiction writers creating new stories to fill in the gaps.

I know ambiguous endings can drive some people absolutely bonkers, but if you're looking for some books that do ambiguity well, I recommend checking out:

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Sadie by Courtney Summers
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Tied Up with a Bow

As much as I love leaving stuff up for interpretation, there's something to be said for endings that are neatly resolved. There is an entirely different kind of satisfaction when it comes to closing a book with a happy sigh, knowing exactly what happened to those characters and that everything is going to be Just Fine.


With most longer fantasy series (or other genres, like sci-fi and dystopian), I don't think I'd be content with an air of mystery after finishing the last book. When I've invested that much time in a cast of characters, you bet I want a detailed epilogue telling me that everyone's going to be okay. That's not to say every character has to be perfectly safe, happy, and alive, but there should be a healthy dose of hope along with the inevitable grieving of characters lost during an epic series.

I'm a big fan of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows epilogue, because after seven books (especially after making it through the behemoth that is Order of the Phoenix), I wanted a glimpse into Harry, Ron, and Hermione's futures. I don't need entire spin-off series necessarily, but at least a few pages to reward dedicated readers for seeing a journey through to the end.

Also, with rom-coms, I need a Happily Ever After. I don't need this with every romance (see my reference to Eleanor & Park and its ambiguous ending above), specifically just rom-coms. The kind of fluffy contemporaries that you read with a cup of hot chocolate or on a sunny beach. There may be a small difference, but that kind of distinction matters to me when it comes to how to wrap-up a love story. Becky Albertalli's rom-com endings, for example, give me all the warm fuzzies.


And, as with any kind of writing, HEAs or other detailed endings can be done poorly. Execution is everything. If the author tries to fit in the resolutions of every single minor character, the ending is going to feel forced and trite. Not everything has to be perfectly spelled out, otherwise it'll feel dumbed down.

Other than Harry Potter and Becky Albertalli books, I think stories that have had good, satisfying endings in this vein are:

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Let's Talk!

What kind of ending do you prefer? Do you like both for different reasons or are you adamantly opposed to one? Leave a comment with your thoughts below!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

In Which I Share My Favorite Onstage (and Offstage) Moments and Mishaps from 6 Theatrical Productions

Ah, live theatre. Part of what makes a live show so exciting is that anything could happen at any time and the actors will be forced to find a way to carry on. There isn't any way to cut and start over; you have to be quick on your feet. I have many wild tales to tell about the past two plays and four musicals I've been a part of in the past couple of years (as well as some of my favorite pictures to share!).

Beauty and the Beast Jr.


This show was extra special because it was my first true musical and the entire cast was so supportive. Every single person felt so special, from the leads to the ensemble. A lot of my initial nerves about singing and dancing onstage vanished (not completely, but mostly) after we took our final curtain call.

Favorite onstage moment: I always looked forward to "Gaston." The song is funny and lively and we got to bang old-timey mugs together throughout the dance break. It was a crowd favorite, for sure.

Favorite offstage moment: Helping with the transition from "Human Again" to "Beauty and the Beast." Belle and the Beast only had a minute to change out of their older costumes into the iconic ones worn in "Beauty and the Beast," so while the castle servants were singing the end of "Human Again," the rest of us backstage were frantically helping Belle to change into her gown and the Beast into his coat. He had these massive paw-like gloves on, so it was up to us to untie his cape and get his coat on and give him the magic mirror to hide away so he could present it to Belle later. It was all kinds of stressful during that time crunch, but there was something exhilarating about getting it done with seconds to spare. The rest of us backstage would always high-five each other for a job well done once "Beauty and the Beast" started.


Favorite mishap: I can't remember any mishaps at the moment, but I was definitely scared of knocking all the books off my shelf in my little bookshop during "Belle." To give myself some stage business, I kept rearranging the books or dusting them, but knowing my klutzy self, I had to focus on carefully placing them back on the shelf instead of dropping them on the stage.


A Christmas Carol


My first show at the Hershey Area Playhouse! I love the intimate staging and the general vibe of the whole place. Every show there is an absolute joy. This was especially exciting because it was Max's first show where he was onstage instead of behind-the-scenes, and both of us got a considerable number of lines.


Favorite onstage moment: It's hard to choose, but I looked forward to Fred's party each night because I got to wear a pretty dress where I wasn't drowning in layers and it was one of the more joyous scenes. I ran around the stage and giggled with the other girls as we played games and laughed at each other's jokes. But I also enjoyed any time when I sang carols in other scenes.


Favorite offstage moment: During intermission, I would go to the dressing room with the other teen girls and we'd practice our harmony while singing "Milkshake" (the "Riverdale" version). It became a nightly ritual.


Favorite mishap: There were a small handful of dropped lines or missed cues, but the one that amused me the most was during the Fezziwig party scene where all the guests danced to my violin playing of "Roger de Coverly." Since it was only me on the violin, I would start playing and the dancers would clap along to add an extra bounce to the song and scene. It was tons of fun. But as they got more comfortable with the song and dance steps, each night they began clapping faster and faster, which forced me to play even faster to keep up with them. By closing night, my fingers were sore and had blisters and rosin flew up in clouds of dust from my bow scraping against the strings so quickly.

Peter Pan Jr.



This show continues to be my favorite theatre experience. Not only was it my first time playing the lead, but it was my first time playing a villainous, comedic role. My entire pirate crew was a rowdy, fun-loving bunch, making each scene a joy to play out.

Favorite onstage moment: Easily "Hook's Waltz." As I mentioned in my end-of-the-year wrap-up, this was my favorite song to sing every night, because it was the best one for my vocal range, the most fun when it came to choreography, and it came at the climax of the show when I was running on pure adrenaline. At that point in the show, I was completely settled into my character and no longer nervous about the audience in front of me. From that song all the way to the end of the final battle with Peter, I was having the time of my life.


Favorite offstage moment: Any time I wasn't onstage, I was usually guzzling water and trying to mitigate the amount of sweat dripping from my face, so I didn't have a lot of time to do anything but prep for the next scene. But, during "I Won't Grow Up," the pirates all sang along backstage to provide extra volume, and, of course, we made up our own obnoxious choreography. It made us laugh each night.


Favorite mishap: I didn't find it funny at the time, but now that the show has passed, it's a great theatrical anecdote. There were two major mishaps that happened on the same night (my first night as Hook onstage):

1. My costume combined with the lights made me ridiculously sweaty, so by the time I reached the "Tarantella," I was drenched. Right at the point when I was supposed to flick my wrist in the air, my hook flew off and clattered (loudly) across the stage. Keep in mind that during dress rehearsal, I'd said, "I'll be fine so long as my hook doesn't fall off," so I'd basically cursed myself. Luckily, my double (the one who would play Hook on the nights I didn't) was there to do damage control. Throughout the night, he stuffed the inside of my hook with paper towels so I could keep a better grip on it. Future crises averted!

2. When I spun around to face Peter Pan, who had just snuck onto the ship, I noticed that Ava (the actress playing Peter) was holding her weapon in one hand and her mic pack in the other. I tried not to be distracted by the fact that she was going to have a difficult time doing our fight scene one-handed and kept going with my lines. Then, right as I drew my own weapon, the mic clipped onto my jacket fell off and dangled by my feet, making horrible noises as it dragged across the stage. Seconds later, the guy in the sound booth turned my mic off, so not only did I have to focus on not stepping on it as I fought Ava, but I also had to shout every one of my lines so the audience could hear me. It was a whirlwind of a scene.


Once Upon a Mattress


This show was pure fun. I loved each song I was in and our entire cast was so talented. It's the perfect example of a situation where being in the ensemble is just as enjoyable as being a named character. We all had a blast.

Favorite onstage moment: It's a tie between "Opening for a Princess" and "Spanish Panic" which leads right into "Song of Love." "Opening" is the perfect opening number to get an audience excited about the story to come. It took us a long time to get the timing of the lyrics down along with our complicated footwork, but once it came together, it looked fantastic. And "Spanish Panic" is a relentlessly tiring dance number that causes everyone to collapse on the ground (literally - it's in the script) and drip with sweat for a few seconds before getting right back up to sing "Song of Love," which is the showstopping number that ends the first act. Those two songs got great audience reactions, and it was one of the few times almost the entire cast is onstage at once.

Favorite offstage moment: Several nights, during a duet between Lady Larken and Sir Harry ("Yesterday I Loved You"), the actor who played Prince Dauntless would come down to the green room to entertain us all (mostly me) by miming the entirety of the song (both parts!). It never failed to make us giggle and became a running joke. Here's a clip of the final night he did it:



Favorite mishap: I remember all of us trying not to audibly snicker onstage when the queen accidentally said to Prince Dauntless something along the lines of, "I went through this whole heartbreaking process to find you a suitable prince" instead of "a suitable princess" because the actor playing Dauntless was gay and he seemed to be holding back laughter himself. We joked about it endlessly after the show.

Lion King Jr.



This was a beautiful musical! I was really impressed with everyone's hard work, cast and crew, to turn this junior show into something that seemed really professional. Several people who watched it said that they cried or even liked it better than what they saw on Broadway. I loved being a part of it.

Favorite onstage moment: The very first scene where the hyenas come on was my favorite one to do. I got to cackle along with the other two, be generally creepy, and taunt Zazu, who happened to be played by my brother.

Favorite offstage moment: I got a big ol' break in Act Two, so Mufasa, Serafina, and I usually hung out backstage and lip synced to "Can You Feel the Love Tonight." It was a challenge not to make any noise since we were usually holding back laughter at our ridiculously dramatic (and silent) rendition of the song.


Favorite mishap: Seconds before Scar had to be onstage, he realized his fake mouse prop was missing, which was essential to his scene. Everyone else was involved in the "Circle of Life," so there was only the two of us who could try to remedy the situation. Once we realized it wasn't turning up anytime soon, I tossed him one of my furry gloves I used for my costumes and said, "Use this!" He balled it up in his hand so only the fur showed and it wouldn't be obvious that it was a glove and not a small animal, then went on right as the lights were coming up. We did find the mouse later, but there was some definite panic. It was one of the few times I was able to think quickly.

Charlotte's Web


Settling into a mom role took a long time since I'd just finished playing Banzai, but it was a fun change. I liked having my little family and messing around with my "kids" backstage.

Favorite onstage moment: Anytime Avery sassed me. He was adorable and hilarious, so it was really hard not to break character and laugh when I was supposed to be exasperated with him. But it was fun having to discipline him while he's still joking around and waving me off.


Favorite offstage moment: Doing the macarena with the rest of the cast right before curtain call. I don't even remember how it started, but it became a tradition each night as the lights dimmed on the final scene.

Favorite mishap: Our Edith had the hardest time saying the line "giving the pig a buttermilk sponge bath." For weeks during rehearsal she'd say "pilk" instead of "pig," which, of course, the rest of the cast teased her about endlessly. The couple times she accidentally said "pilk" during a show, even after saying "pig" to herself over and over again backstage to make sure she got it right, the rest of us had to fight back smirks.

Have you ever been part of a musical or play (onstage or off)? What's your favorite show? Leave a comment!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

December Wrap-Up/End of the Year Wrap-Up

This is one of my favorite things to write each year, so get ready for a long post filled with pictures and reminiscing!


DECEMBER
 
Books I Read


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29751398-the-power

3/5

This wasn't at all what I expected it to be. It was a super cool concept that should have made for a great book that looks at the variety in human behavior when faced with a revolutionary power that changes the world. Instead, I got a gritty horror novel with three horrible protagonists and one that was just "meh." Even in the realm of paranormal/sci-fi genres, I didn't find this to be realistic at all. No way are that many people so awful. I found the whole book to be very angry and violent. Don't be fooled by the reviews and blurbs calling it a feminist tale. It's really not. It's just a bloodbath perpetrated by women. My positives are that the plot was really good in theory, and I never felt bored.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17333324-ancillary-justice

DNF

This was one of those cases where I got a late start reading this for a book club, got maybe 150 pages in by skimming as fast as I could before the meeting, then decided it wasn't worth it to finish it afterwards. I found it all super confusing and my mind wandered constantly. I guess between this and The Power, I've learned that adult sci-fi isn't for me.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39088507-dear-evan-hansen

3.5/5

I think if I hadn't seen the musical, I would have liked this a lot more. If you've never seen this production, you'll probably like this book. Even if you've only heard the music, it's worth reading this to fill in the gaps of the story. Had the book existed first and then been adapted into a musical, it might have been better. But because this book is basically the script and lyrics with a little more of Evan's internal monologue included, I didn't think it was a great adaptation. Because I've seen the musical and sobbed through the entire thing, I know how powerful the story was supposed to be. The story fell flat for me here. I didn't cry once. I still liked the characters and it was cool getting a little bit of Connor's POV, but even that felt gimmicky simply so DEH fans would have "bonus material" to look for in the book. It was enjoyable and I read it pretty quickly, but for some reason it felt way more surface-level than the story really is.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40742905-the-gentleman-s-guide-to-getting-lucky

5/5

I'm so glad I decided to save this to read on a not-so-great day, because this totally brightened my spirits. In classic Gentleman's Guide style, this was laugh-out-loud hilarious. Seriously, I snickered so many times while reading those 50 pages, which completely flew by. Monty and Percy are my OTP, so reading their adorably awkward (and sweet) romantic escapades was perfect for a dreary afternoon.

Movies I Watched




5/5

This was delightful! Emily Blunt was the perfect updated Mary Poppins and Lin-Manuel Miranda was fantastic and fun, as expected. I loved all the music (and I still have some of it stuck in my head) and the story was sweet and heartwarming. Perfect for the holidays! I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Quotes I Wrote

After frying my brain trying to get 50,000 words written in November, I decided to take a writing break in December and just focus on editing. I used this month to go through my entire manuscript for All the World's Afraid and make notes in the margins. It was a lot of fun, because while a lot of it is a mess that needs serious revamping, I didn't feel discouraged after I finished it. With some revision and polishing, I think it'll be a really great book. I still love my characters and the basics of my story. Fingers crossed!

Obsessions I Acquired

"Orange is the New Black" -  I usually watch something in the mornings to preoccupy my mind while I get ready, and since all of my shows are on hiatus for the holidays, I needed a new show to watch. I picked this one on a whim since it's something I've seen people rave about, and it's really good! The acting is great, the characters are all unique and wacky, and it's an interesting premise. Somehow it's able to feel lighthearted even though it's kind of depressing.

"The Prom" soundtrack - This is not depressing at all. It's been a while since I've listened to a new musical soundtrack that I loved. It's light, fun, clever, and catchy. I've only listened to the whole thing straight through a couple times, so I don't know what my favorite song is yet, but this one has been in my head for a while.



Pictures of the Month

Max and I performed as Lurvy and Mrs. Arable (respectively) in "Charlotte's Web" this month! Musicals are my favorite kinds of shows to perform in, but this play was a lot of fun, too. The cast got along great and we enjoyed making the audience laugh (and tear up!). It was a nice change playing a mom, since I played two different villains this year.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
My bookshelf used to just be for books, but I've started lining it with gifts from friends. A lot of these presents were given to me by castmates and crew members after shows.

I'm the student music director for a community theatre program for kids! I'm so excited, not only because I had a blast the last time I got to work with kids on putting on a show, but also because I'll be working with the vocal coach from "Lion King Jr.," who was awesome and super nice.
"Mary Poppins Returns" was so good, as you saw from my review above. Worth the hype!
Posing with performers from a Christmas Cabaret. I sang and danced with a bunch of my vocal teacher's students. It was the perfect way to celebrate the holiday.
Merry Christmas!
My friend Sammie drove up from Virginia to celebrate New Year's with my family and some mutual friends, and since her birthday is on December 30th, we threw her a party! Her favorite movie is "The Nightmare Before Christmas," so we went all out with themed foods and drinks.


Annual New Year's Eve party!



Can't believe I didn't blink when we took this Polaroid selfie. xD
 

Selfie-ception!
Max was sitting on a taller chair than the rest of us at the table and joked it was his throne, so I made him wear my tiara.
Scout loves her sweater.
She also loves to sit under the tree. When the presents started piling up, she was not amused. xD
 

How was your December?

END OF THE YEAR WRAP-UP

Goodbye 2018, and hello 2019! Before we move on to next year, I always like to look back on the past year.
 
Top 10 books
 
I'm so sad that it was hard to pick my top 10 books this year, not because it was hard to narrow down, but because it was hard to come up with 10 I liked enough to include here! I only had five five-star reads. Not a fantastic reading year for me. :( Luckily, I did enjoy these.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40742905-the-gentleman-s-guide-to-getting-lucky
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12875258-tell-the-wolves-i-m-home
 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33830437-far-from-the-tree
 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22552026-long-way-down
 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31180248-leah-on-the-offbeat
 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36389267-a-thousand-perfect-notes
 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29236299-gemina
 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34810320-sadie
 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36341204-what-if-it-s-us
 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31449227-ramona-blue

New obsessions


1. "How to Get Away With Murder"
2. Jesse the Reader
3. The Broadway "Anastasia" soundtrack
4. "Someone Else's Story" from "Chess"
5. "Dear Evan Hansen" - the cast, the show, the music, the story, the Deluxe album songs, etc. (I know I included this last year, but I feel like I became renewedly obsessed with it after seeing it.)

6. John Mulaney
7. Instagram
8. "Peter Pan"/Captain Hook/"Finding Neverland"
9. "Atypical"
10. All the Hamildrops


Most played songs

Here's my 2018 Spotify Wrapped, to give you some idea. I got really into "Les Misérables" again . . .

-The "Dear Evan Hansen" soundtrack
-The "Anastasia" soundtrack
-The "Les Misérables" soundtrack (that's thanks to All the World's Afraid revolving around a high school's production of the musical)
-The "Shrek: The Musical" soundtrack
-The "Lion King" soundtrack
-The "Peter Pan" soundtrack
-The "Once Upon a Mattress" soundtrack
-The "Mean Girls" soundtrack
-The "Finding Neverland" soundtrack
-The "Beauty and the Beast" soundtrack
-The "Spring Awakening" soundtrack
-The "Fun Home" soundtrack
-The "Supernatural: The Musical" soundtrack
-All of the Hamildrops (especially "Found Tonight")
-"Someone Else's Story" from "Chess"
-"I See the Light" from "Tangled" 
-"I'll Make a Man Out of You" from "Mulan"
-"Poor Pirates" from "SpongeBob: The Musical"
-"I Don't Wanna Love Somebody Else" by A Great Big World
-"She Waits" by Louden Swain
-"Treacherous" by Taylor Swift
-"Black Sheep" by Gin Wigmore
-"I Will Follow You Into the Dark" by Death Cab for Cutie
-"God Is a Woman" by Dodie (cover)
-"Be OK" by Ingrid Michaelson
-"New Romantics" by Taylor Swift
-"Stronger Than My Fears" SHEL
-"To Be Alone" Hozier


10 favorite blog posts

1. "Character Karaoke - The Music that Inspired a Witchy Romance"
2. Rip it or Ship it?
3. Childhood Book Tag (Let the Nostalgia Begin!)
4. My Favorite LGBTQ+ Books
5. The Happy Tag
6. Captain Darling - NaNoWriMo Project of 2018
7. The Furry Friend Tag (Because You Need More Pictures of Scout in Your Life)
8. Yet Another Writing Tag That I Stole
9. "No, Mum, I'm Not a Millennial" (an interview with Lara Liz about her move to a new blog)
10. "Briggs Book Tag (Learn all about my personality through books!)"

Big things that happened in 2018


-I got my driver's license
-Saw Adam Pascal again in "Something Rotten!" when it toured locally
-Saw Paula Poundstone's stand up live

-Won four silver keys and six honorable mentions for the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards
-Saw Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp live in their "Acoustically Speaking" show
-Got cast in my first lead role as Captain Hook in "Peter Pan Jr." and adored every second of it
-Turned 18 and voted for the first time
-Got new glasses
-Was part of a local author's festival (complete with a book signing and a 15-minute presentation/Q&A)
-Saw the original London cast of "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" on Broadway for my 18th birthday
-Wrote a poem every day for the month of April as part of Camp NaNoWriMo and National Poetry Month

-Performed in not only "Peter Pan Jr.," but "Lion King Jr." as Banzai, "Once Upon a Mattress" as an ensemble member, "A Midsummer Night's Dream in 17 Minutes or Less" as Helena, "After Hours" as Burglar #1 (a last minute casting choice after the original actress got sick on show day), and "Charlotte's Web" as Mrs. Arable
-Finished the first draft and the first round of edits for All the World's Afraid
-Became a Municipal Liaison for NaNoWriMo and completed the 50,000-word goal
-Was an intern for a community theatre's Theatre Academy Classes
-Became a student musical director for a local community theatre's production of "Musicville" and got to help cast the show
-Graduated high school
-Was cast in two cabarets
-Started taking vocal lessons

-Got my wisdom teeth out
-Went to a writer's conference with my mom
-Made a scrapbook of my time in "Beauty and the Beast Jr."
-Saw "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Dear Evan Hansen"

-Went to my first writer's retreat
-Saw the touring company of "Finding Neverland"

-Applied to five colleges and was accepted to all five

Image from this year

A snapshot of "Hook's Waltz" from my last performance in "Peter Pan Jr." This was my favorite song to sing every night, because it was the best one for my vocal range, the most fun when it came to choreography, and it came at the climax of the show when I was running on pure adrenaline. Both nights, I finished it to a long round of applause. It was so awesome and surreal.

Book stats

What this graph doesn't show is that a lot of those 4-star reads were actually 3.5-star ratings. :/


This ends up being pretty close each year, but hopefully next year I'll be able to tip the scales!
And hopefully covers get better . . .


This section is one of the ones I find most interesting to look at, because there are so many different reasons why I pick up a book. This year, I did a lot of impulse reading. Some were because a favorite author of mine blurbed a book I'd never heard of, and others were because I did a lot of driving this year and needed audiobooks to pass them time, but my selection for free audiobooks wasn't always great.

I find it interested that my two biggest sections are "few/several days" and "3+ weeks." There is no in between, apparently.
2018 in one word
Thrilling.


Goals for 2019


Writing:

1. Finish rewriting All the World's Afraid. Now that I've got all my notes written up, I'd love to be able to rework the story enough so that by the end of the year at the latest, I can get it sent out to critique partners. I think I can do it. A lot is going to be cut so it'll tighten the story, so I'll have even less to work with eventually.

2. Finish rewriting 'Til the Last Star Dies. I might be biting off more than I can chew with having two projects I'm rewriting, but we'll see how it goes. TTLSD is way more of a mess since I have to completely rewrite the whole story--not just revise, rewrite. I'm basically starting from scratch. But at least I know where the story is going this time, so I won't have to meander around for 10,000 words.

Usually I have three goals for each section, but since these are both such huge projects, I'm not going to try and add anything else.

Reading:

1. Complete Ivyclad Bingo. I had a lot of fun doing her bingo challenge last year, so I'm going to try it again this year! The squares look very intriguing and diverse.


2. Finish a series I'm in the middle of. This didn't happen last year for some reason (i.e. I got distracted by standalones), but I'm determined to make it happen next year. Especially if I just buckle down and finally read Obsidio.

3. Focus on reading the diverse books on my TBR. My TBR is completely out of control and there's no hope of recovery, so I think this will be a good way to approach deciding what I read next. If I make sure it features diverse characters/authors, I'll not only be tackling my TBR, but I'll be reading a variety of stories.

Other:

1. Make scrapbooks for each of the shows I've performed in. I've almost put the finishing touches on my "Beauty and the Beast Jr." scrapbook and it was a ton of fun. Getting pictures with castmates and of the show is one of my favorite parts of looking back on past shows I've done, and scrapbooking is a great way to do some hands-on projects since I'm not really crafty in other ways.

2. Exercise at least 15 times each month. I've noticed that when I put pressure on myself to exercise every day and I miss a day because I'm busy or something, I get discouraged and end up finding excuses for why I can't exercise the next several days in a row. If I allow myself a buffer of a rough schedule of exercising every other day, I think I'll stick to it better.

3. Start a dog-sitting business. This is the perfect way for me to make some more money before I leave for college. I love dogs. And I can set it up in a way that lets me work for the several months I'm home, then I can shut it down until I come back in the summers.

Goals for 2018 that I've accomplished


Writing:


1. Finish the first draft for All the World's Afraid. Not only did I finish the first draft in October, but by mid-December, I'd finished the first round of edits, too! I really like the direction it's headed in.


Reading:


1. Join a blog book bingo. I linked up with Ivy from "Ivyclad Ideas" and really enjoyed it! I didn't quite fill the board, but I covered quite a few squares.


Superhero - Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Debut Author - A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews.
Over 500 pages - Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Contemporary - Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
Historical - Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Black cover - A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Set in space - Artemis by Andy Weir
Magic - Everless by Sara Holland
Star-crossed lovers - Autoboyography by Christina Lauren
Witches - The Power by Naomi Alderman
Not set in the USA - The Chillbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan
Manga - Death Note by Tsugumi Oba
Wolves - Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt





Other:


1. Go vegetarian for a month. I did this early on in the year! For all of February and a little into March, I (and the rest of my family, who decided to join in) did not eat any meat whatsoever. I felt like I was eating much healthier, in general, but I also had many days where I was constantly hungry. After a while, it was hard to have a variety of meals. It was tricky, but I'm glad I did it. One of my big takeaways was now that I've done it, I think I would have an easier time in the future eating a vegetarian diet for long stretches.


2. Create healthier habits. I think I did this, though I'm kicking myself for making such an unspecific goal, because I'm not sure how to tell if I actually accomplished it? I feel like I was more aware of what I ate and how much I exercised. I could always be better, but I improved. After a few months, I let my daily diet/exercise/sleep tracker go because it was way too much to keep up on, especially on days where I was out all day or busy. I just made sure I kind of kept a mental list.


3. Keep up on my Spanish. I did a lot of Duolingo this year and review. I'm not fantastic at it or anything, but I understand a lot more than I did before. I was able to stumble through some customer orders at my job without needing anyone to translate, so I call that a win.

Goals for 2018 that I didn't accomplish


Because it's good to recognize your failures, too.

Writing:

1. Finish rewriting 'Til the Last Star Dies. Pfft, yeah, this didn't happen at all. I did try, but once I got started, I realized it needed a lot more work than I thought it would need. Especially after going to my writing retreat and Beth Revis telling me that the book I'd written was an adult fantasy and not a YA novel, so that was a wake up call that needed to happen. xD It's getting a much bigger revamp now.

2. Finish the first draft for Captain Zahira and her Wayward Crew. I had good intentions, but I ended up getting sidetracked by All the World's Afraid instead and totally throwing myself into that project. At least I got distracted for a good reason?


Reading:


1. Read six classics of my choice. I read three, not six: The Great Gatsby, Peter Pan, and Lord of the Flies.

2. Finish a series I'm in the middle of. As I mentioned before, this didn't happen because there are just way too many standalones begging to be read. Oops.

Bye, 2018! Now for the next adventure.


What are your goals for 2019? Anything big happen in 2018? Leave a comment!