Winter Blues

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Around this time of year, some of us feel downer around the holidays. We don’t want to get out of bed, hate the colder weather, and feel our spirits are much lower. This year has been rough for me with the blues. Not as jolly about Christmas, not watching many Christmas movies, not noticing many decorations in my house, and so on. The winter blues have never been this bad until this year.

I have found two comforts, though: books and music, particularly the Christmas kind. As I’ve said before, the arts bring me comfort when I need it most, and this winter is no exception. My mood is still blue, but it’s not unbearable. Maybe the arts can help not just me, but others, remember that there is still joy this time of year. People that are selfless, kind, and humble. Giving, forgiveness, and fellowship shining bright against hate, meanness, and more. Maybe it’s wishful thinking.

However, I still have hope.

I hope by reading a Christmas book or listening to Christmas songs, your spirits will be lifted, even if a little. I’ve included a list of some books and tunes that have cheered me up this holiday season and in years past. May these make you smile as they have for me. 

Christmas Books:

  • The Christmas Candle by Max Lucado
  • Gideon’s Gift by Karen Kingsbury
  • The Christmas Angel Project by Melody Carlson
  • The Christmas Cat by Melody Carlson
  • The Christmas Company by Alys Murray
  • The Mistletoe Inn by Richard Paul Evans

Christmas Albums/Songs:

  • David Archuleta, Winter in the Air
  • Mandisa, It’s Christmas (Christmas Angel Edition)
  • Michael Bublé, Christmas
  • “A Baby Changes Everything” by Faith Hill
  • “Merry Christmas Darling” by The Carpenters
  • “Believe” by Josh Groban
  • “The Heart of Christmas” by Matthew West
  • “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Ingrid Michaelson feat. Leslie Odom Jr.
  • “Where Are You Christmas?” by Faith Hill
  • “Little Saint Nick” by The Beach Boys

Happy writing!

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Struggling to Find the Perfect Gift? Check These Out!

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Some of you may remember a guest blog post I wrote in June 2016 for Dear English Major. In it, I talked about sticking with the path of majoring in English despite my self-doubts. That decision has defined my life in staying true to myself and to the things that make me happy.

There’s another thing I appreciate about Dear English Major, though. Gift guides! Have an English major in your life but struggle to find the perfect Christmas gift? Well, these guides should help! I’ve used these guides in the past to give my family gift ideas. A few things I’ve received over the years include The Amazing Story Generator, a Bookstores and Cats mug, and more! Here are a few gift guides found on the website:

  • Children’s Book-Inspired Gift Guide
  • The Ultimate Shakespeare Gift Guide
  • The Ultimate Gift Guide for Writers
  • Maya Angelou-Inspired Gift Guide

These guides don’t apply to just Christmas. You can also check out these lists for birthdays, graduations, and other special occasions. Thank you Dear English Major for having these awesome gift guides for our writers and book lovers!

To check out the other gift guides, click here. 

Happy writing, reading, and Christmas shopping!

Christmas Book Season: Are You in the Holiday Spirit?

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Now that it is officially December 1st, that means two things. For NaNoWriMo participants, the sprint is over for another year. For Christmas lovers, that means diving into all the holiday books and movies you can get your hands on! Since this is a writing blog, I want to focus on books in particular. 

How many of you will read the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol this month? You might have seen a couple film adaptations over the years as I have. Or maybe you’ll rekindle inner child by reading The Polar Express, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, or The Nutcracker. You’ve also seen a few Christmas books reviewed on this blog including The Mistletoe Inn and The Christmas Cat that might pique your interest. The choices are endless! I’ve already grabbed a few Christmas books at my local library–some I’ve read before and some I’ve just discovered. 

Hallmark Publishing, where I’ve have had the pleasure to read and review eBooks this year, also has some holiday favorites to add to your stocking:

  • The Heart of Christmas by Jill Monroe
  • A Timeless Christmas by Alexis Stanton
  • The Christmas Company by Alys Murray
  • Christmas in Evergreen by Nancy Naigle
  • A Christmas to Remember by Rebecca Moesta
  • A Heavenly Christmas by Rhonda Merwarth 
  • Love You Like Christmas by Keri F. Sweet
  • Christmas in Homestead by Kara Tate
  • Journey Back to Christmas by Leigh Duncan

Christmas movies are awesome, of course, and you could make an endless list of favorites too. But, it never hurts to give books some attention. 

Do you have a favorite Christmas book? What do you plan on reading this holiday season? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Happy reading and writing!

A Prayer for Writers

Image: Jack Moreh (freerangestock.com)

For those who have participated in NaNoWriMo this year, the journey has been difficult. I know, for me, the experience has been very hard. It’s easy to get caught up in those comparisons when we see others succeed and we struggle with our works. We question our passion, ourselves, and feel like giving up.

I may not know how you are feeling right now, dear writer. Maybe you feel like me: trying to find your way and wondering where your heart in your work is right now.

But, the uncertainty will never last forever. You will find your way again. Maybe a work needs more time because that’s what will make it great. That’s okay! Never compare yourself to others, especially during NaNoWriMo. Accomplishing a word count of any kind, no matter how big or small, is more than you had before starting.

Tonight, I pray for your health, confidence, and heart in writing. I pray you will not give up and keeping trying, no matter the project. I pray you find the support systems to see you through every pitfall and triumph in the writing life.

I also pray you hold on to the joy of writing, because that is what makes a writer amazing. Not fancy words, a hard work ethic, etc. Those are nice. However, the heart is the key that creates your best work.

Amen.

What Are You Grateful For?

Image: Jack Moreh (freerangestock.com)

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought I’d take a moment to name the things I am grateful for this year, writing related or not.

Writing Things I’m Grateful FoR

  1. Books: Many books have inspired my writing and my life from the classics to some of our latest releases. Thank you for the lessons I’ve learned, the inspiration I needed, and the perspectives I have gained!
  2. Hallmark Publishing: Being blessed to read and review their books this year has been incredible! I have renewed hope about wholesome romances and some inspiration I might use for my own work.
  3. New Writing Opportunities: From HEAL(er) Mag’s new direction to being a BFF for Mesu Andrews’ Book Launch Team (see icon on my side bar), I am finding new and creative ways to expand my skills and learn a new thing or two myself! Thank you to everyone who believes in me and for taking me on during these new adventures!
  4. NaNoWriMo: I am FAR behind right now. But I have written more than I’ve had in MONTHS, and that is something I am thankful for. 

OTHER THINGS I’M GRATEFUL FOR

  1. Montana: My late summer excursion to Montana gave me two weeks to reconnect with nature and appreciation the beauty of this country. My social media break during this trip was perfect timing and brought me to the present. For once, I could put the phone down!
  2. My job: From my co-workers to the challenges I’m currently facing, I know that they will make me stronger. I just have to keep that mindset and push forward.
  3. David Archuleta: From his newest Christmas album Winter in the Air to having the pleasure to see him again earlier this year, I am grateful for his example, that he’s happy, and his continued growth. I’m also blessed that I will be seeing him again next month during his Christmas tour.
  4. Perspective: I’ve talked about perspective a lot with friends, co-workers, and fellow church members for almost two years now. It was a lesson I really needed to learn to move forward in my life. I believe it has influenced all the many blessings I have received this year, and became my greatest teacher.
  5. Family: Family can be crazy, up and down, and all around. But, they’re still your family. Remember the good, and try to forgive the bad.
  6. God: Last but most certainly not least, God. For His Word, the gifts I have received from Him, and more. 2019 will mark ten years since I became a born-again Christian and turned my life  around. I still have a lot to learn, but I am in a much better place. 

What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Happy writing!

Returning to NaNoWriMo

 

nanowrimo logo
Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

For many writers right now, it’s NaNoWriMo season. Outlines, typing on computers or typewriters at a steady pace, lots of coffee if you drink coffee, and word sprints. It’s a challenging, rewarding, and exciting time.

As some of you know, I participated in NaNoWriMo for the very first time in 2016. I also went to my first writing residency at this time, too. I didn’t reach 50,000. Instead, I had written about 26,000 words. Last year, I chose not to participate for various reasons. A part of me felt like a failure for not reaching 50K. I also questioned my writing abilities and truly felt the dream of writing the novel was aloof after all.

So what made me decide to give NaNoWriMo another shot for 2018?

Last week, I was looking at writing stuff on Twitter and saw a comment about a person feeling put down by someone else for how he wanted to approach NaNoWriMo this year.

I was disgusted.

Unfortunately, even in the writing community we have people who put others down instead of building one another up. It’s a feeling I’ve struggled with in regards to fandom stuff. Now, I saw that here.

Upon reading the tweet, I saw many positive responses telling this person to do what he thought was best for him. That NaNoWriMo could be done any way he pleased. Yes, the novel is the main approach, but you could do other things.

That’s when the thought entered my head: “Maybe I should do NaNoWriMo again.”

I have no outline. No idea where my project is going to go by the end of the month. I’m pulling ideas out of my head and writing them down. I have a theme, working title, and that’s pretty much it.

But I am going to give this another shot.

The blog may be quieter throughout the month for this reason alone. I want to prove myself wrong and see that I can write a novel. Sometimes, the more you do something the better you get at it.

Wish me luck.

Happy writing and good luck to my fellow writers and participants. Also today is Double-Up Donation Day. Go donate and write beyond your wildest dreams!!

Writing Prompt: Halloween

autumn background blur candle
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Since Halloween is a few days away, I thought of sharing a quick prompt to get in the holiday spirit. Let’s stick to short stories for this one! Here are some themes to consider:

  1. Jack-O-Lanterns
  2. Halloween Parties
  3. Trick or Treating
  4. Black Cats (today is also Black Cat Day!)
  5. Magic
  6. Witches
  7. Goblins and Ghouls
  8. Haunted Houses
  9. And more!

Don’t be afraid to check out your favorite Halloween movies or books for some ideas! I recently finished rereading Carrie by Stephen King in celebration of the holiday. Also, my writer friend, Jolene Haley, and other writers have an annual artist and writer showcase for October going on right now! This year’s theme is Beware! Dark Seas. Head on over to her website to check out this year’s entries.

Happy writing!