Monday, April 5, 2021

January/February/March Wrap-Up (Speed Round)

You might have noticed that I am not one, not two, but three wrap-ups behind. I miss blogging and I've been so swamped with school and other life stuff that catching up on monthly wrap-ups feels more overwhelming than it should, so to get these done so I can move on to other blog posts, we're going to do these wrap-ups "speed round" style.

JANUARY


Books I Read



5/5

Three words to describe it: Dark, psychological, gripping


4/5

Three words to describe it: Simple, beautiful, funny



5/5

Three words to describe it: Smart, mysterious, unique



3.5/5

Three words to describe it: Twisting, anxiety-inducing, cliffhanger



3/5

Three words to describe it: Historical, groundbreaking, lesbians

Movies I Watched

3.5/5

Three words to describe it: Thought-provoking, dramatic, disturbing

4/5 

Three words to describe it: Underrated, action-packed, heartfelt

2.5/5

Three words to describe it: Goofy, absurd, fluffy

4/5

Three words to describe it: Historical, exciting, frustrating

3.5/5

Three words to describe it: Quirky, weird, funny

Picture of the Month

Scout in her adorable winter coat!


FEBRUARY


Books I Read

3.5/5

Three words to describe it: Fluffy, bookish, young (in terms of it will likely appeal to younger YA audiences rather than older teens/people in their early twenties)

3/5

Three words to describe it: Funny, bizarre, diverse

4/5

Three words to describe it: Smart, psychological, gay

2/5

Three words to describe it: Depressing, historical, family

4/5

Three words to describe it: Heartbreaking, raw, poignant

Movies I Watched

4/5

Three words to describe it: Fascinating, inspiring, eye-opening

3.5/5

Three words to describe it: Cute, fluffy, feel-good

3.5/5

Three words to describe it: Funny, friendship, FOOD (you will get hungry watching this)

4/5

Three words to describe it: "Watching entertaining train wreck" (Okay, so technically four words . . .) (See above for more description of the script)

3.5/5

Three words to describe it: Funny, absurd, parody

Pictures of the Month

Twitter banner for Once Upon a Stage, made by the talented Kalie Holford!

The gorgeous cover of my dreams, made by the equally talented Kimberly Wisnewski! 

A Once Upon a Stage aesthetic board, made by another very talented writer who I don't believe is on Twitter, so I unfortunately can't tag them. :(

Curious as to why I have so many pretty Once Upon a Stage goodies? Stay tuned for my excited (and belated) announcement on my blog . . . 👀

MARCH


Books I Read


4/5

Three words to describe it: "The Boys in the Band, but lesbians" (Pretend that title is one word and it totally still works for the three-word description . . .)

3/5

Three words to describe it: Timely, dense, interesting

4/5

Three words to describe it: Gorgeous, friendship, whimsical

5/5

Three words to describe it: LOVE. THIS. BOOK.

Okay, for real now, three words to describe it: Bookish, heartwarming, grief

4/5

Three words to describe it: Surreal, HIV/AIDS, psychological

2/5

Three words to describe it: Historical, depressing, marriage/relationships

3/5

Three words to describe it: Biographical, WWII, "dramedy"

Movies I Watched

4/5

Three words to describe it: Feel-good, inspiring, feminism

4/5

Three words to describe it: Funny, quirky, heartwarming

3.5/5

Three words to describe it: Disturbing, psychological, hunger

Picture of the Month

Meet my 21st birthday present: Eponine "Penny" Pinot! She is the SWEETEST little thing and will be getting a full introduction post later!

How is your year going so far? Leave a comment!

Friday, January 29, 2021

Meet Camilla Crim - Guest Post and Giveaway From Author Emily Fortney

Please give a warm welcome back to author Emily Fortney! I'm one of her blog tour stops for the release of her book The Dark Ruler and I couldn't be more thrilled to be able to hype her series up. Emily is a longtime writer friend of mine ever since I joined her writers' group in 2015, and having read multiple drafts of her work over the years, I can vouch firsthand for how much this series has grown and stolen our hearts. I can't wait to see her books in the hands of other readers who will see how thrilling they are, just like I've seen! Camilla Crim is a force to be reckoned with as a heroine, as you'll soon read.

Please welcome Emily Fortney!

***

 

It is great to be back on Kate’s blog and talking to all of you! When I was here last summer, I was sharing about my young adult fantasy book, The Sacrifice of One. I was re-launching that book at that time. Yes, you read that right, it was a RE-launch. After years of sitting on this book and just focusing on my writing, I decided to rebrand it and widen the distribution. All during the re-launch, I was also working on a brand new book in that series called The Dark Ruler. Well, I’m back again to announce that The Dark Ruler officially released this week!

This is book #3 in my Camilla Crim series. It’s actually been almost three years since I released a new book, so this is a big deal for me and I’m really excited to tell you about it. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Emily.

Let me introduce you to my main character, Camilla. How shall I describe Camilla? She’s stubborn and talks without thinking, but she’s also fiery and passionate. In The Dark Ruler she’s on a mission to kill the Supreme Ruler, Quinten Warwick, and free the people of Elmyra from slavery. Buuuuut a slew of mysteries lie between the walls of the capital city where the Supreme Ruler resides that Camilla isn’t prepared for.

Things are a little more complicated than that straightforward goal. Because Camilla has a mother with suspect intentions. After abandoning Camilla when she was just a toddler, Portia weasels her way back into Camilla’s world and has taken to meddling with her life. Although a very powerful witch, Portia is intent on drawing little ol’ Camilla to her side. The problem is, Camilla doesn’t know why her mother is suddenly interested in her, and frankly, she doesn’t care. She wants nothing to do with her mother.

For those of you who’ve never read any of the books in this series, let’s back up. Before Camilla had mommy problems and found herself taking on the role of a Supreme Ruler assassin, she worked at the national farm, being treated as little more than a slave. Camilla even bears the brand of Quinten Warwick on her arm. She’s a peasant, a nothing.

Everything changes when she finds out that her brother is being hunted down for a murder she knows he didn’t commit, or at least she’s pretty sure… All of that plays out in the first book in the series, called The Sacrifice of One. (Stick around until the end of this post for a special offer on this book!)

First, I’d like to draw the veil and take you behind the scenes of The Dark Ruler and the process I took to write this book. Like all of you, last year was different for me. Here in America, COVID struck in early March. Literally the week that everything shut down was the same week that I left my 9-5 job of nearly 10 years to write part time. Leaving my job was pre-planned and had nothing to do with COVID. Odd, I know... It was a weird time of transition for me.

The point is, I wrote The Dark Ruler during the pandemic. The lack of social gatherings really cut down on my commitments and I was able to spend a lot of time at my laptop clacking away. For me, this book is a positive part of 2020. It helped me survive it in a way and I’m not sure I could have written it as quickly as I did without quarantine.

As an author I often get asked what inspired me to write my books. That question is hard to answer. A million things have inspired me. So usually I just say something self-deprecating and change the subject…

In the case of The Dark Ruler, I had been thinking over this plot for years. The skeleton of this installment was in my head even while I was writing the earlier Camilla books. But I will let you in on one major inspiration. It’s a little bit of a spoiler, so let’s keep it hush hush.

In 2019 I married my best friend. The development of our relationship and our actual wedding event inspired certain parts of The Dark Ruler. There is of course a romance element to the Camilla books and much of that storyline in this book, is inspired by my own experiences of falling in love. I’ll stop before I get too gushy on you!


The Dark Ruler is available NOW! Make sure you go grab your copy. New to the series? You can read book #1, The Sacrifice of One, for FREE by CLICKING HERE and signing up on my email newsletter. If you love The Sacrifice of One, there are 3 more books in the series you can binge on!

One more thing. As a special gift to Kate’s readers, if you sign up for my email newsletter, not only will you get a FREE eBook copy of The Sacrifice of One, but I will send a bookish sticker pack to the first 50 people that sign up. 😊 Just shoot me an email at emily@emilyfortney.com and let me know that you signed up and came from Kate’s blog. Put your address in the email, and I’ll mail you a sticker pack! Sign up HERE.

It’s been a blast to chat with you all today. Thanks again to Kate for letting me post and tell you about my new release. You can read the full blurb of The Dark Ruler below and connect with me on all the social medias.

Today I will be hosting a virtual launch party over on my author Facebook page at 6pm EST. I’m giving away a bundle that includes a signed paperback copy of The Dark Ruler, a bookish candle and more. I’d love to see you there!

Happy reading!

~Emily

Purchase Links:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08STVZ476/ref=as_li_qf_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=emilyfortneya-20&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B08STVZ476&linkId=2247fdf3e4bdf37c044f02db71d5d3f4
Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-dark-ruler/id1550458573?ls=1
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-dark-ruler-emily-fortney/1138673746?ean=2940162275596
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-dark-ruler  

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

3 Reasons Why Every Writer Should Try Poetry (Guest Post)

My lovely friend Hannah from "Ivyclad Ideas" hosted me on her blog today! I talked about three reasons why every writer (and non-writer) should try poetry. I also talked about Ghost Light and shared some writing snippets.

Here's a little sneak peek from the post (but you should definitely read the whole thing):



Monday, January 4, 2021

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

I look forward to writing this post every year and, inevitably, I got so busy around the 31st that I'm publishing it late. Again. Better late than never?

December

December was . . . weird. I felt Christmas-y half the time, depressed and unmotivated the other half. It was both busy and relaxing, happy and sad. A lot about Christmas didn't change for us since that holiday is usually reserved for our family; we don't travel or see a lot of people then. But New Year's was weird since that's when we have a house full of people eating food and playing games and staying up well past 2 a.m. Luckily Zoom came to our rescue there and we still had a great time. It wasn't bad, just strange. Then again, this whole year has been strange.

Books I Read

5/5

Shameless plug time for my new book of poetry. ;) It's only 99 cents and has been getting great reviews! You can read all about it and my process writing it HERE.

5/5

This book was the first to get me out of my fall reading slump and I loved it! It was so good and so pure. It had everything: food; Latinx, queer, and trans representation; mystery; family; fierce friendships; soft romance (I shipped it hard, and I feel like I haven't seriously shipped a YA romance in a long time); hilarious and disastrous characters (I seriously loved Julian; he felt like a character C.G. Drews would write); ghosts; adventure; plot twists; a gripping climax; heartfelt moments; etc. Read this book!! If you're not going to read it now, then at least save it on your TBR for next October/November (the perfect time to get in that spooky vibe).

4/5

I've been really torn about whether or not to rate this 3.5 or 4 stars, but gay witches are kinda my thing, so I bumped it up the half point. This was a good story that surprised me in a lot of different ways, but it's not one that's stayed with me like Cemetery Boys did. More fun, less earth-shattering. It took me a bit to get into the plot, but the last third of the book flew by. It had interesting world-building when it came to the different kinds of witches and how they interact with each other as well as interact with the human world. There were several plot twists I appreciated and of course I'm always here for lots and lots of queer girl representation. We desperately need more of them in every genre! I wish I could have connected with the characters a little more, but none of their personalities jumped out at me as being wildly different (except for the best friend, who was a cinnamon roll to be protected at all costs). It was definitely a story more focused on plot than on characters/relationships. A fun read, overall!

2/5

I was really vibing with this script for the whole first scene, and then the setting shifted and it got more into the ambiguous time-travel-y stuff and . . . it lost me. I can't tell if this is one of those plays that I'm not smart enough to "get" or if it was super confusing and intellectual on purpose for the sake of being intellectual. I liked the Watson/Sherlock Holmes references and having just a few actors play a variety of characters that seem to be the same character disguised as various incarnations of them was cool, I just didn't understand it. I could see the connections, but I wasn't sure how everything connected. But the end of act two, I was skimming the script because I was so lost and just wanted it to be over with. So on the off-chance that someone has read this book and understands it, help?😂

Movies I Watched

4/5

This was fun. I think I enjoyed it more because I did have low expectations for it and I was pleasantly surprised. I know James Corden got a lot of flack for being in this movie for various reasons, but unpopular opinion: I did like him in this role. I thought he portrayed every aspect of it believably and he was both funny and emotional in all the right places. Meryl Streep and Andrew Rannells were perfect, Nicole Kidman was fun, and Kerry Washington was a great choice for her role. I loved the color, the choreography, the humor and absurdity, the upbeat tone, everything that makes "The Prom" a pure joy to watch. The only thing I didn't buy? The romance. 😬 Nothing against Ariana DeBose, because she's awesome, but Jo Ellen Pellman (the actress who played Emma) was not . . . great. She was a very strange choice. She smiled the entire time. It was a very wide, toothy smile that made her look like she was completely zoned out in every scene. She smiled when she was crying. She smiled when she was angry. Her voice never changed. It was all one tone, one emotion, all the time. I didn't love it. Emma always felt out of place to me in each scene and she pulled me out of the magic of the movie, which made it hard to suspend disbelief. I wanted to love her because she's the true heart of the story, but because the acting was so off, I found myself bored during the romantic scenes and looking forward to the fluffy nonsense of the older Broadway stars' plotlines. I bought Meryl Streep and Keegan-Michael Key's romance more than the teen girls'. It could've been an outstanding adaptation had Emma been an different actress, I think.

1/5

Boy oh boy was this a bad movie. Not just bad, but laughably horrible. Weird premise, weird story, weird acting, weird everything. Not to mention a very low budget, bad dialogue, and a whole lot of boobs. And the boobs weren't just there for boobs' sake; they acted as a sort of trigger for the killer that sends him into a murderous rampage. I kid you not. This is a for real aspect of the plot. And that should tell you everything you need to know about why this was rated a whopping 1 star.

4/5

This was fun. It's a great Christmas movie with a lot of humor and a lot of heart. Every character was cast perfectly and I loved the absolute nonsense that came with a rich and dysfunctional family. It kept me entertained the entire time and while some aspects of the plot were predictable, it also had a lot of unique choices that kept me on my toes. I loved it. The only thing I was on the fence about was the actual romance: I had a lot of mixed feelings on some of the ways the ending wrapped up too neatly and several very problematic actions on some of the characters' parts were either ignored or completely forgiven with a simple apology. I couldn't totally get behind all of it, so during the parts at the end when the audience should be cheering, I was hesitantly clapping along. Still, it didn't bother me enough to rate it any lower than 4 stars, so I still recommend it as a movie you should watch next Christmas.

1/5

Real weird, real bad. This movie was creepy, strange, dark, and depressing, but the two things a Christmas movie should be (funny and/or heartwarming), it wasn't. I was so disappointed it wasn't funny because Billy Murray is literally the star. Comedy should've been the first focus during writing and production. I really don't have much that I can positively say about it. It was fun to make commentary with friends while watching it, at least?

Obsessions I Acquired

"Evermore" album by Taylor Swift - Taylor Swift freaking released another surprise album just months after "folklore" and I still haven't recovered from that fact. A friend described the two albums to me as "'folklore' feels like it was for the fans while 'evermore' feels like Taylor doing therapy for herself through music" and that's the most accurate description I've seen yet. I think I do like "folklore" just a bit more, but "evermore" is still raw and honest and defies genre expectations. But the two really are sister albums that go together so seamlessly, you almost can't make too many comparisons between the two. My favorite tracks on this album change a lot, but right now I'm really into "ivy" and "no body, no crime," so I'll share both of these below.



Among Us - The only reason I'm putting this obsession here is because somehow I didn't list it any of the previous months. Max got me (and a bunch of our friends) into it back around August and we've been hooked ever since. It's so much fun to play and depending on who you play with, the games and strategy are wildly different every time. I'm still pretty bad at playing as the Impostor, but I love it.

Pictures of the Month

Jackbox with college friends

Zoom shenanigans

I made pretty promo photos for Ghost Light!




Max and I dressed up as Santa's elves to Zoom with kids so they could safely give Santa their Christmas lists without having to go to a mall and sit on a stranger's lap


Did some rearranging in my room! Since I'm taking classes from home next semester, I wanted a work space like I had in my dorm room at school. It's a folding table instead of a desk, but it works!

Game night with ADP

"Myths and legends" Roshani Chokshi seminar through Wordsmith Workshops!

I made mocha morning rolls not once, but twice this month because they were such a big hit

Christmas Eve!


Video chatting with Josh and his parents to exchange gifts


Josh got me this gorgeous vintage typewriter for Christmas! It functions and dings and everything! I'm writing a YA beach-town murder mystery here because I feel like the genre is even cooler when the pages are written with typewriter ink.


One of the promo graphics I've made as a Wordsmith social media rep. Their monthly "Word Bet" event is awesome! I got more writing done in two hours than I had in the past two weeks.

Hot cocoa pajama party with my vocal teacher and her students

New Year's Eve zoom party!
 
 
Hello, 2021!

Scout was adorable this month (and every month), so buckle up for a bunch of cuteness coming your way









She was not amused that we were watching a movie instead of paying attention to her

Every time I tried to get a selfie with her, she wanted to smell my lipstick instead



I swear, her face in each of these pictures says, "I'm going to make this selfie photoshoot as difficult as possible because I do not want to be here . . ."


She looooves her Christmas presents




Because COVID, instead of a New Year's kiss from my boyfriend this year, I got a New Year's headbutt from my dog. Seems like an accurate way to leave 2020 behind.

End of the Year

Before we move on to next year, I always like to look back on the past year. 

Top 10 Books

My top 10 was actually hard to narrow down this year! A welcome change from last year. I may not have read as many books as I would've liked, but what I did read was good.

Can we also talk about how pretty those covers are?? 

New Obsessions

"You"
"Scandal"
"Love, Victor"
"West Wing"
"folklore" and "evermore" albums by Taylor Swift
"Cool Girl" by Dodie
Among Us
True crime podcasts
Dead by Daylight
Scrivener
Jackbox games

Most Played Music

 

This song was one of my top songs of the summer, not only because it's a great summery indie song, but also because it's probably the best song to represent the YA contemporary queer girl romance (still untitled) I worked on drafting for the bulk of the summer.

My music tastes are so hard to track with Spotify Wrapped since I listen to soundtracks I make for my books more often than other songs, so it'll list "A Thousand Years" by Christina Perri as my top song even though that's nowhere close to my favorite song. So I'm only listing "new to me" music below (or songs that I only started playing regularly in 2020):

(In no particular order):

"i wanna be your girlfriend" - girl in red
"River" - Bishop Briggs
"Starry" musical album
"Always Remember Us This Way" - Lady Gaga
"Rock of Ages" musical album
"Boys Like You" - dodie
"Guiltless" - dodie
"Cool Girl" - dodie
"Shotgun" - Pomplamoose feat. dodie
"Breakup Mashup" - Pomplamoose feat. dodie
"Highway to Hell" - AC/DC
"folklore" album by Taylor Swift
"evermore" album by Taylor Swift

5 Favorite Blog Posts

"College Dorm Room Tour"

"20 Bucket List Items for the Next 20 Years" 

"A Simple List of Comforting Things"

"What's Kate Doing This Semester?" 

"I Published My Second Book of Poetry!"

Big Things That Happened in 2020

Oh, was 2020 an interesting year for the whole world? Did some things happen? Was it full of wild events, both good and bad?

Still, despite 2020 being a shitshow for just about everybody, I did manage to have some good experiences. In fact, I was able to come up with so many, I surprised myself, given how this year has felt at times. I'm sure I'm forgetting things, but here we go:

-Worked at Chipotle
-Learned how to take headshots and more "professional-looking" photos
-Performed in a cabaret
-Finished my second semester/freshman year at college with a 4.0 and made the Dean's List
-Performed in my first college musical ("9 to 5")
-Celebrated my first Valentine's Day with my boyfriend
-Sang virtual duets with Josh and performed in several virtual events/recital through my vocal teacher once the pandemic came to the states
-Watched Josh and friends perform in "Almost, Maine" and "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"
-Wrote a poem every day in April for National Poetry Month/Camp NaNoWriMo
-Zoomed/video chatted lots and lots with friends and family
-Had lots of Netflix Party TV/movie nights
-Became obsessed with Jackbox games and Among Us (perfect games to play with friends from afar during quarantine)
-Turned 20
-Got published in The Lantern, Ursinus' literary magazine
-Became the secretary for Breakaway Student Productions, the student-run theater group on campus
-Played games, watched movies, and hung out with our virtual "pandemic pod"
-Celebrated my 1-year anniversary with Josh (socially distanced, unfortunately)
-Formed a Kids on Bikes roleplaying group
-Created a "staycation beach day" for my family
-Baked some new recipes, like homemade cinnamon rolls and mocha morning rolls
-Started drafting a musical comedy called "Firstborn"
-Started drafting a YA contemporary romance all about queer girls
-Dyed my hair purple
-Got creative with virtual and distanced date nights
-Polished some new acting monologues
-Taught virtual summer theatre workshops through "Behind the Curtain"
-Landed a few freelance proofreading gigs
-Worked as a dramaturg for my college theater advisor's radio plays
-Finished the third draft of Angel of the Underworld
-Got new glasses (I can see again!)
-Completed the 100-for-100 "Go Teen Writers" challenge
-Performed in a virtual cabaret benefiting the Matt Duvall campaign
-Binged all of the "Saw" movies with Max and Josh
-Took outdoor, masked, and distanced dance lessons with friends
-Performed in my first solo role in a virtual one-act festival at the Hershey Area Playhouse
-Joined a gender-neutral Greek society/literary society at Ursinus (Alpha Delta Phi)
-Enjoyed about 6 weeks in person with Josh after he quarantined himself at home (apart from his parents and everything!) to move in with us for a stretch
-Voted in my first presidential election
-Volunteered with the Biden campaign to do contact-less canvassing
-Hosted a virtual Halloween party
-Host a Thanksgiving zoom with family and friends
-Won NaNoWriMo with a YA fantasy novel
-Published my second book of poetry, Ghost Light
-Made some progress querying Once Upon a Stage and got several requests from agents to read the full manuscript (which is a huge step for me!)
-Became a social media representative for Wordsmith Workshops
-Started a "virtual parents' helper" business with Max called "Gamer Pal"
-Hosted a virtual New Year's Eve party

Image From This Year

How can I EVER choose one??? 

I had a ton of pictures I could have gone with, but this overly-dramatic posed one from April is a pretty accurate representation of what life is like in quarantine.

Book Stats

This is probably my favorite part of the post to put together because who doesn't love colorful pie charts about books??? But first, I thought I'd share some screenshots from Goodreads' "Year in Books" feature:




My star ratings for 2020 were so much better than 2019! I think this is because I didn't have the headspace or energy to read a ton of new books this year, so I did a lot of rereading old favorites. Still, I'm not complaining.
As suspected, I'm a big fan of shorter books. Most of the "less than 100 pages" reads were play scripts.

FINALLY, the diverse books outnumber the ones that were not diverse!! Because I'm lazy and don't track my reading well enough to break down these stats into more specific categories, I counted "diverse" as any book with a protagonist who could be labeled as someone who is often unrepresented in literature: a POC protagonist, LGBTQ+, someone with a mental health condition that is not often portrayed in fiction, etc. Let's keep up this diversity trend and make that slice of the pie even bigger next year.


Like I said, I did a lot of rereading this year. I was also super excited to read tons of books by my favorite authors this year, including Dig, Wayward Son, and Love, Creekwood. And, as always, books that are featured by bloggers I follow are always more likely to be read because I trust their tastes (and that's how I get the bulk of my book news when it comes to new or hyped releases).

My reading is all over the place in this category?? The 1-day reads were more often than not because of reading a play script. The 3+ weeks were usually because I wasn't enjoying a book enough to stick with it without getting distracted LOL. But I feel like one week is typical for me when it comes to your average YA novel that I thoroughly enjoy.
 

2020 in one word

Revolutionary.

From the Black Lives Matter movement to the U.S. presidential election to the extreme speed at which a vaccine was able to be created, this year was unlike any other. Definitely one for the history books.

Goals for 2021

Energy for 2021: "Aggressive positivity"

Only aggressively positive Nick Miller vibes for 2021. This TikTok is a visual and audible representation of the kind of energy I need to get absolutely pumped going into 2021. We're going to kick 2021 in the ass with GOOD VIBES and GOOD MENTAL HEALTH PRACTICES and CONFIDENCE. 💪😤

(Also please watch it and enjoy because it took me HALF AN HOUR to scroll through my TikTok likes and track it down. 😂😭)

Writing:

-Finish revisions on Angel of the Underworld. I'm not sure at this point how many rounds of revision that will be, but I want to do as much as it will take to get it into good enough shape that I can send it to beta readers. If I manage to do that in time, I may even take notes from my beta readers and get those revisions done too so it's in querying shape by 2022. A girl can dream . . .

Reading:

-Read 40 books. I've set reading goals of 52 books a year for the past couple years and have struggled to meet that number for a variety of reasons (mostly being busy with schoolwork and rehearsals). While I won't have nearly as much time taken up by rehearsals (because COVID), I'll still be pretty busy with school. I think 40 books is doable, but still challenging enough that it'll remind me to pick up a book instead of my phone when I have free time.

-Read the Raven Cycle. Maybe if I write down a specific series to finish rather than a general goal of "finish a series," I'll actually do it this time . . . I read the first couple books in the Raven Cycle ages ago and liked it, but I was like 14 or 15, so I remember nothing. I'll reread the first books and continue on through the rest so I can finally join the fangirling with everybody else.

Health:

-Exercise 5 days/week. Is this ambitious? Yes. But is it especially important now that I basically sit at a desk all day, every day, and go nowhere else? Yes. I managed to do 3 days/week last year without too much difficulty, so I'm going to push myself even farther this year. If some days I'm only able to fit in a long walk with my dog or 15 minutes of yoga because of time constraints, that's okay. The goal is to just stay active and get my butt out of the chair.

-Practice healthier eating habits. I'm fairly good with this overall? But every new year I try to reevaluate what kinds of snacks I reach for when I'm hungry and how much dessert/sugar I eat in a day, etc. I want to consciously make and eat more vegetarian meals, eat less sugary foods, serve up smaller portions and eat more mindfully, and eat healthier snacks in between meals.

Other:

-Learn more graphic design. I've done a lot of work on Canva this past year to create advertisements and social media graphics for Behind the Curtain, Gamer Pal, my blog, and other people's businesses and not only has it been fun, but my designs have turned out pretty well! I want to learn more through some free, work-at-your-own pace courses I've found since graphic design is something I can use no matter what I end up doing for a career.

-Perform 1 "random" act of kindness per week. I know technically the act of kindness won't be "random" if I  know I'm going to do something once a week, but I'm not going to plan ahead of time what I'm doing or for whom I'm doing it. I think this is a good way to make sure I'm paying attention to others instead of getting wrapped up in my own stresses and activities. Plus, I'm not limited to doing just one thing a week, nor for the same people all the time. It would be great if I managed to do something for 52 different people by the end of the year!

-Brush up on ASL and Spanish. Boy is it easy to get rusty on languages as soon as I'm not actively in a language class. I don't want to completely lose everything I learned for both of these things, so if I use some Duolingo and YouTube a couple times a week to just stay familiar with them, that's good enough for me this year.

-Keep practicing music. I'm going to continue virtual vocal lessons throughout this year since it's not safe to sing in person with others yet, but I also want to practice my violin, the piano, and ukulele. Violin has definitely gotten rusty as I've moved away from that and toward vocals/theatre, so hopefully a few months of practice gets me back to where I used to be LOL. And I haven't ever seriously learned/practiced piano and ukulele (not to the extent that I have with the violin), but having a basic knowledge of both of those things would be great for anything I do musically in the future.

-Get bangs. This is something I've toyed with for a while now and I really want to do it. But my hair stylist friend has talked me out of attempting to cut my own bangs, so this goal will only be accomplished if it's safe enough to go to a hair salon by the end of the year. So we'll see!

Goals for 2020 I Accomplished

I did pretty well this year!

Writing:

-"Finish rewriting my untitled YA contemporary romance and query agents." My untitled YA contemporary romance now has a title, Once Upon a Stage, and it has been queried many times! I believe it's gone out to at least 40 agents, likely more, and has gotten full manuscript requests several times, which is beyond amazing since that's farther than any of my other novels have gone. So far, still no agent, but I'm going to keep trying into the new year as I pursue other projects at the same time.

Health:

-"Exercise 3 days/week." I can't believe I actually accomplished an exercise goal, but I did!! Tracking stats on my FitBit made it extra fun and my family and I played a lot of Just Dance to get active, so that helped too. The only week I skipped was when I had a bad cold at the beginning of the year, so I'm still counting this as a job well done.

Other:

-"Learn photography and make money off it." So obviously attempting to make money off my photography wasn't going to work out when it was impossible to get together with people in person, but I did have several photoshoots that allowed me to mess around with camera settings and photo editing. I also got to take headshots of the "9 to 5" cast and crew in February, so that was a lot of fun and great practice.

-"Run more musical theatre camps." I did this! I ran three separate summer camps online through Behind the Curtain and each one was a ton of fun.

-"Learn a tap routine." It may have been a short routine (about a minute and a half), but YouTube came in handy for me to learn a beginner tap sequence to "Uptown Funk." It was fun to feel halfway decent at tap for once LOL.

Goals for 2020 I Didn't Accomplish

Because it's good to recognize your shortcomings too.

Reading:

-"Read 52 books and finish one series." I didn't do either of these LOL. I'm seemingly incapable of finishing any series ever because when I finish book one, I get distracted by other books and forget everything that happened, so I procrastinate reading the sequels. And then the series forever remain unread. Maybe we'll change that this year . . .

Health:

-"Get 8 hours of sleep 5 nights a week." Bahahahahahaha. I think I gave up on this two weeks into the spring semester. 😂 I meant well.

Goodbye 2020 (and good riddance), and hello 2021!

What are your goals for 2021? Anything big (and exciting) happen in 2020? What were your favorite books this past year? Leave a comment!