Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Subplots and Storylines - February 2017


(I have been hanging on to that gif for months, just waiting for the perfect moment to use it. This is so fulfilling.)

But I'm kind of lying, because I'm only halfway back. Posts are scheduled for March, but depending on how day camp prep goes, I may not be able to reply to comments until that's all over. Not to fret, I will get to them eventually! And come April, I'll be back for real. Whew, that sounds like a long time from now. But if the next month explodes just like February exploded, it'll pass in a flash.

Subplots of a February Variety

I think just about every week was packed. I had a friend over for a slumber party . . . I attended my church's young adult night (an awesome Valentine's-themed evening about dating relationships) . . . I was a stagehand for a special Valentine's skit at church (basically just carried stools off stage and carried an easel back on) . . . the youth group where I volunteer every other week had a winter formal . . . I volunteered at a big indoor carnival for families, which was tons of fun (did you know Canada gets a long weekend in February?) . . . and attended a business/leadership seminar one evening.

College is full of volunteering, but this month had all kinds of extra stuff, it seems.

In other college news, I did a book presentation on The Purpose Driven Church, a project on which I made a few mistakes that I learned a lot from. Such as:

  • The way I manage a personal project is not how I should manage a group project. As the lead, I overestimated my group's abilities and started too late, causing us to have to compromise on a couple of things.
  • Don't assume your team can read your mind!
  • Don't assume they will push themselves as hard as I push myself. I need to encourage and motivate them.
  • Stop and think about the why behind the project. Remember the purpose and the people first; the task is secondary.
Oh, and I received my most exotic letter from a friend EVER--it traveled from Kenya!

February Films

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (rewatch)

Peterrrrr. Gwennnnn. My poor heart. Watching it a second time didn't make the ending less sad (or frustrating, considering there won't be a third movie--thanks, Andrew Garfield). I was also watching it late at night, and was too tired to appreciate the last hour of it.

Once Upon a Time - Seasons 1, 2, and 5

I'm still rewatching season 1 with my siblings, but I started season 2 with my parents, and my sisters and I watched a bit more of season 5. I'm all over the place! But now that I'm in the second season, it's a lot of fun to have Captain Hook around.

The Flash - Season 2

Watched a bit more of this with the sibs too, and it continues to be amazing! Patty Spivot is one of my favorite female characters ever.

On a side note, I just realized that all three pictures up there mirror each other, and all of them included a blonde female. Ha.

February Reads

I went 25 days without reading a novel. 25 DAYS. I felt a bit lost! But I was reading plenty of nonfiction for school, so that sort of made up for it. (Sort of. Recently I started reading Marissa Meyers' Winter, which now makes up for it completely. Still love mah fiction.) I didn't complete a lot of books this month, but you do read slower when you're taking notes.

The 5 Love Languages Singles Edition // Gary Chapman

I'd heard of the love languages concept before, but it was good to read about it for myself. In case you're unfamiliar, the basic idea is that everyone receives love in different ways: either through words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, or physical touch. It's important to recognize how you receive love, and to see how to best give love to others in a "language" they'll understand.

My whole class took the test, and I confirmed that quality time is my top love language. (Words fell in second--no surprise!)

Self-Improvement 101 and Teamwork 101, both from The Complete 101 Collection // John Maxwell

I'm reading through an eight-book collection of John Maxwell's core leadership principles, and the two parts I read were both amazing! Very easy to read. The info is so condensed, I know I'll be rereading chapters as I need them in the future. The best part is, many of the principles I'm learning here are directly applicable to college.

February Writings

Technically, I didn't write anything this month. But I did make the decision to set aside The Prophet's Key for the time being, in favor of getting started on the expansion of The Brightest Thread. I had wanted to finish the first draft of TPK completely before switching gears, but I was struggling to get into the right frame of mind. And . . . well, before I explain more . . .

I registered for Realm Makers! Yippee! It's becoming more and more real. My hotel is booked too, but I'm still watching flight prices and hoping they'll come down soon. If not, I'll just have to go for it and buy my ticket. I'm very excited for the learning opportunities a writing conference will bring!

Realm Makers is one reason I switched gears. You remember how I wanted to publish a standalone novel before publishing all the Prophet books? And how that standalone is going to be my Sleeping Beauty retelling? Well, there's the chance to pitch a complete, ready-to-go manuscript to agents and acquisitions editors at the conference, and I'd really like The Brightest Thread to be ready for that! But if I were to plod along for another few months to finish The Prophet's Key, I would have precious little time to write an expanded TBT draft and edit it to my satisfaction--and figure out my pitch--before the end of July. Even starting out now, in February, may be cutting it close.

But I want to put my self-imposed deadline out of my mind, and simply focus on enjoying this story. Enjoying the process. I want to get myself back into a healthy writing place. But that's a post for another day.

In the meantime, what I actually accomplished this month was reading over TBT, both the polished version and the longer first draft, and writing up several pages of notes on what I'd like to expand. There's still work to do: I want to write out a brand new outline, possibly experimenting with the Snowflake Method, before jumping into the actual writing.

I'm looking forward to it! This is one of my favorite stories I've ever written, and it's exciting to think of how it will grow and change in the near future.

Storylines of Growth

February was definitely a month of growing and learning. Some days were overwhelming, but I'm arming myself with what I need to face March--a month that promises to be even more of a stretch!

What have y'all been up to? Tell me all! And while you're at it, what are some ways you gear yourselves up for a busy season of life?

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Subplots and Storylines - January 2017

The first 2017 edition of Subplots and Storylines is here! It's a day later than planned, but January has left me a little breathless. To keep my head (and yours) from spinning, here's the month in list form.

  • Christmas holidays wrapped up, and college resumed on the 9th.

  • I started officially bullet journaling, and I'm loving it so far! I'm keeping up with it better than with my old planners, plus it's great for tracking habits. (Future post topic, maybe?)

  • I renewed my passport. Bleeeegh, paperwork.

  • Remember how I was in youth ministry during my first semester? Now I'm in creative ministry! I have discovered what a broad term "creative" is. So far I've tidied the warehouse, re-strung lights on garland being packed away with all the Christmas décor, painted signs, brainstormed spring/Easter/Mother's Day décor, and more.

  • Because of the abovementioned brainstorming, I was asked to join Pinterest. (See, I'm a social media hermit, basically. I intended to wait a good long while to make a Pinterest account, knowing how much of a temptation all those pretty pictures would be when I have productive things to be doing. But alas, my hand has been forced. I'm currently clawing my way out of a black hole of gorgeousness . . .)

  • Skating!

  • A random assortment of new experiences this month, like Skyping in a class because snow kept me home, stepping into a professional recording studio for the first time to help classmates record stuff for a promotional video, and being totally engrossed in a class about how to pitch ideas. (So many things I want to do with that info!)

  • My great-grandma passed away. She left a legacy of love behind, and was more than ready to travel home, so I'm honestly glad for her.

  • My class started working on our final project: a day camp for kids ages 6-12, happening during spring break! Though we're guided by our teachers, it's basically our responsibility to organize, plan, and build this camp. Lessons, crafts, outings, décor, everything. I've been placed on the admin team, which is stretching me like crazy. But it's going to be an incredible experience!


Once Upon a Time // 14 episodes
Season 1: four episodes with my parents, six with my siblings. Season 5: Look what was under the Christmas tree! My sisters and I have watched the first four episodes and, um, wow. My mind's already being blown.

The Flash Season 2 // 5 episodes
Another Christmas gift. SO GOOD. If you like superheroes, fantastic character chemistry, and character development, and you haven't watched The Flash yet, DO IT.

Pete's Dragon
This one's going on the list of favorite movies ever! I've never seen the original, so I don't know how it compares, but this one is the sweet tale of an orphaned boy raised by a dragon in the woods. It's a beautiful, gently told story that hit me right in the heart. I need an Elliot now.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
After hearing mixed reviews, I wasn't sure what to expect. Though it was better than I assumed it would be, I'm not sure what my full opinion is. I'm more of a Marvel girl, let's just get that out of the way right now.

What else do I know for sure? This movie was dark. I skipped the unnecessary bathtub scene. Batman was more cruel than I liked. (I thought he had a no-killing rule, but he goes around brutally killing people and using guns no problem.) I liked Ben Affleck in the Batman role, however. Superman's human side came out, which was great, though it wasn't explored as deeply as I was hoping. I think that's my main bone to pick: the characters, the heart behind the story, got lost behind gunfire and villainous plots.

Speaking of villains, Lex Luthor was one of my favorite parts of the movie. I know, I know, he's dark and twisted and just plain weird. But Jesse Eisenberg did a great job bringing across a fascinating enemy with a warped view of right and wrong and God.

Oh, I'm also really hoping Wonder Woman gets fleshed out more in her own film. Yes, she's a kick-butt hero in a genre with few female supers. But I didn't get to know her. Prior to her action scene, she was the typical, personality-deficient gorgeous woman in a dress.

(Apparently I have more to say about movies that complicate my thoughts than I do about solid, I-love-this movies like Pete's Dragon. Oops.)


Knife // R.J. Anderson
I read this one years ago, enjoyed it, but never continued the series. Last year I won a copy of my own in a giveaway, so I figured it deserved a reread. It was better than I remembered, though the plot was a wee bit thin in places. I thought the story had some interesting things to say about the nature of art and creativity, and how relationships inspire that. Four stars.

The Purpose Driven Church // Rick Warren
Although the cover is outdated, the main thrust of the message (how you can grow a healthy church without compromising the Word) is something a lot of churches need to grab hold of. I'm doing a presentation on this book pretty soon. Four stars.

The Lightning Thief // Rick Riordan
One of my sisters picked this out for me, and I'm glad she did! I've been meaning to read the Percy Jackson books for a long time, but she gave me the push I needed. What a fun story. Percy's sass is A+, and I enjoyed how Greek mythology was woven into an urban setting. I did predict one of the twists, but overall, this was a five star book. I'll be continuing the series!

Blue Lily, Lily Blue // Maggie Stiefvater
Okay. I'm torn again. I loved all the same things I loved in the first two Raven Cycle books: fantabulous characterization and writing that slays me every other sentence with its gorgeousness. But I also disliked all the same things: tarot cards and profanity. (I confess, I did a very reviewer-ish thing, and kept track of the swear words. I wanted to get a handle on whether there really was as much as it felt like, or if I was being hyper-sensitive. There were over 140 swear words or rude references, plus one instance of implied sex. Argh.)

BUT. Tone-wise, I liked this book more than The Dream Thieves. It wasn't as dark. And Blue + Gansey = YES.


Thanks to free time over the tail end of Christmas holidays, this was my most productive month ever! Well, ever since I started tracking monthly word counts. Compared to last year's best month of 12k, I wrote 17,000 words this January. Woohoo! I managed to meet my goal of reaching 100k in The Prophet's Key just in time. Griffins have flown into the story recently, which is fun.

I also did one session of The Creative Way. It was nice to return to it after a long absence. Another highlight was receiving feedback on The Prophet's Quest from a friend. (So many comments. It's lovely.)

okay . . . breathe.

If one month can hold so much, I'm excited to see what the rest of 2017 will look like! How was your January, patient questers?

A note about the blogging schedule: I foresee increased busyness with the day camp project and ambitious writing goals. So I'm giving myself permission to miss a few posts in February if necessary. Then the plan is to schedule a boatload of fun tags for March! I don't like bumping the blog lower down the list of priorities, but I need to keep a healthy amount of brainspace free for other things during the next couple of months. Not to worry, I hope to return to my normal schedule at the end of March, which coincides with Adventure Awaits' 2nd birthday!