I Write Less Often Now That I'm Published (this started in one direction but went in another)

When I was in high school, I wrote nearly every day during any moment not taken up by school or studying. I threw myself into writing communities, where I learned to take feedback and figured out several ways to give it. By the time I graduated high school, I had already written one million words of fiction. That number still astounds me.

College itself wasn't to blame for the slow decline I pretended I didn't notice. The writing communities I had been involved in for several years disbanded, and while I didn't write for the feedback and praise of others, it was difficult when that was gone. More distractions became readily available, particularly my smart phone. I also started dating, and while that also provided me with more knowledge for writing, it also led to less alone time and less available writing time as well.

Post college graduation, the writing communities had never reformed, the distractions (both from my smart phone and outside of it) had multiplied like rabbits, and my general available free time decreased significantly. My debut novel was written when I was a high school junior five years ago, and it's difficult to find the time to sit down and decide what to do with all my other material.

But perhaps the true reason why I write less frequently is because I edit more often now. Between rewriting an old series, polishing one of the few novels I managed to complete in college, and debating what route to take with the first novel-in-verse that I wrote, there just isn't as much time to write new material. And perhaps that's not a bad thing. After all, why have eighty first drafts and zero ready for publication? But it's easier to see results when writing first drafts, as I can (and have) spent several hours agonizing over just one chapter, even though I usually end up revising the same chapter at least ten to twenty times afterwards. When "rewards" are more difficult to receive or see, it's hard to be motivated, which often leads to zero writing and zero editing as well.

So what do I do about my problem?

Perhaps it's best to not go by all the numbers. Maybe it's best to not track progress on a calendar and feel like a failure if I don't measure up to unrealistic expectations. And instead of letting distractions cut into the little precious free time I have, they should be limited both in frequency and number. I've had trouble admitting to myself that games are becoming an addiction, but is that what I want to be known for? Is that what I want to leave behind?

No. I want to do so much more. My life should benefit others, not myself. Writing is a way to better understand people and to teach others to ponder much deeper things. I cannot continually put in half effort and expect amazing results.

So with all that, where will my writing go next? I cannot only say that time will tell. Rather, it is what I do with the time ahead of me that will really say what will come next.

The 10 Different Hugs You'll Get From Children (Daycare Adventures, Part 1)

I've worked at a daycare for nearly nine months now, and I've learned more from the experience than I could have ever imagined. As a child, I was never much of a hugger, but as long as you're a decently nice person to preschool children, you'll get a variety of hugs from the children you teach.

1. The Pencil Hug: where the kid just stands there and doesn't move their arms, although they nodded when you asked if they wanted a hug.

2. The Kid Who Only Hugs You: There's one really sweet African-American child that I taught for only one week and I hugged him once before he went home with his parents. Ever since then, I can't walk into his classroom without him running up to me with arms wide open, and he can't leave the building without hugging me. But he's not an overly huggy child either, which makes me wonder what I did to make him want to hug me on a daily basis. It was just that first hug, I suppose.

3. The Kid Who Hugs Everyone: The one who tries to barge into the office during serious conversations, or hugs people they don't even know. At least the want for hugs often eases some serious tension.

4. The Sweaty Hug: I have been hugged by several school-aged boys (3rd grade and older), but they do play outside a lot, which results in slightly stinky hugs. But I have two brothers and I've sat between them post-basketball and football and soccer games, so I think I've gained immunity.

5. The One Who Only Hugs You When They Want Something: This is a tactic I've seen some of the kids use, but I don't let the hugs sway me if it's something dangerous (No, you can't climb that tree).

6. The Leader: One kid hugs you, and then all the other kids in the classroom come and hug you too.

7. The One Who Doesn't Need To Be Hugged Back: For some reason, some kids are perfectly content to just hug your legs (usually when you're talking to another parent, or standing somewhere).

8. The Distracted One: The kid who runs halfway to their mom, realizes they forgot to hug you, comes back for a hug, and then runs back to mom.

9. The One Who Hugs You and Doesn't Let Go: I had a nine or ten-year-old boy hug me (who is nearly as tall as me) and wouldn't let go, following me around the classroom as I tried to watch the other children. I managed to tell him without hurting his feelings that I needed to return to my job. Also, I didn't want parents to get the wrong message.

10. The One Who Squeezes So Hard that You Fall Down: There's a ten-year-old girl who is fairly strong and is known for hugs that could hurt or potentially make you fall down. I have to warn the new teachers about the surprising strength of her hugs, but we all laugh about it and the girl's feelings don't get hurt in the process. It's a really interesting joke now.

I love each of these children, and it's been fascinating watching how all their different personalities come into play through just this one way. What hugs have you gotten from children? Comment below!

I Miss School, But I'm Not Ready to Go Back (and other random musings)

I miss the tests.
I miss being late to class.
I miss the study parties with friends that inevitably ended up invoking more laughter than hitting the books ever should.
The moment I left college, a lot of responsibility was dumped onto me. For the longest time (4-5 years), I wasn't allowed to drive anywhere by myself, despite having my license for a year. Within a month I had a car (that I am still paying off by myself) and was randomly allowed to drive alone, before I really felt ready to.
Six months after graduating, I'd published my first book and gotten engaged.
Now, I realize that I've been a graduate for nearly nine months, and I'm trying to figure out: what now?

I really want to go back to school, but I don't have the financial ability to do so right now. There's too many graduate programs that I'm interested in, and I can't decide which one to pursue.
Counseling is still on the table.
Music is on the table.
Creative writing is also an option.
And I can't seem to choose.

I can't decide what to write.
There's the NA fortune cookie story.
I also recently began a MG fantasy (two things that are foreign).
I'm two chapters away from rewriting a YA contemporary romance novel.
And I want to continue working on book two of my YA contemporary fantasy series.

This is where I'm at right now.
There are a lot of questions that have no answers.
This is what happens to many recent graduates.
Everything changes so much in a really short time, even when you're not ready for it.
But these things cannot be ignored.
They must be faced.
So I wrote this to let you all know:
Many of us are in the same boat.
And that's okay.

Cover Reveal: Sachael Desires (Mine Series #2) by Melody Winter

About Sachael Desires: 

During her ordeal with the Sect, Estelle Bailey dreamt of escaping back into the arms of the sea—and Azariah. But freedom came at a price, and though she’s back with the Sachael who’s stolen her heart, she’s also land-bound until the next full moon. And with the threat of Orontes looming ever larger behind them, Azariah, Estelle, and Michael—her once-captor turned rescuer and friend—are on the run.

Following Michael's lead, they seek sanctuary amidst the natural beauty of the Orkney and Shetland Islands until Estelle can complete her next submergence ritual and Azariah can whisk her away to the safety of Saicean.
​ ​
Secrets, betrayals, and old enemies await them, though, and as events spiral out of control, Azariah makes a decision that puts all their lives at risk, forcing Estelle to face a journey she never wanted to take. With time running out and tempers running high, her only hope to save the man she loves lies in a reconciliation between two kingdoms who despise each other.

Book Two in the Mine Series, Sachael Desires further expands on the intricate underwater world of the Sachaels, and the hostility and isolation of not belonging.​

About Melody Winter:
Growing up, Melody Winter showed a natural ability in art, a head for maths, and a tendency to write far too long English essays. Difficult to place in the world when she graduated, she pursued a career in teaching, but eventually ended up working in Finance. Melody is convinced the methodical time she spends working with numbers fuels her desire to drift into dream worlds and write about the illusory characters in her head.
Melody Winter lives in North Yorkshire, England, with her husband and two sons. When not dealing with football, rugby, and a whole plethora of ‘boy’ activities, she will be found scribbling notes for her stories, or preparing for another trip to the beach. With an obsession for anything mythical, Melody revels in reading and writing about such creatures. In fact, if she wasn’t such a terrible swimmer, she’d say she was a mermaid.
Sachael Desires is her second book in the New Adult Romantic Fantasy series - the 'Mine Series'.

Learn more about Melody Winter on her website, twitter or facebook.

Book Review: The Land Uncharted by Keely Brooke Keith

I've been meaning to review this book for ages and am glad to say I finally got around to it!

Summary (as seen on Goodreads):
Lydia Colburn is a young physician dedicated to serving her village in the Land, an undetectable island in the South Atlantic Ocean. When Lt. Connor Bradshaw’s parachute carries him from the war engulfing the 2025 world to Lydia's hidden land, his mission could expose her simple society. As Connor searches for a way to return to his squadron, his fascination with life in the Land makes him protective of Lydia and her peaceful homeland, and Lydia’s attraction to Connor stirs desires she never anticipated. But will they be able to keep the Land off the radar?

Written like a historical, set like a scifi, and filled with romance, past and future are woven in this inspirational story of life in a hidden land. If you like the rural setting and wholesomeness of Amish Fiction but are looking for something new, read The Land Uncharted.

I found myself absolutely immersed in the world created by the author. The way Conner and Lydia’s societies are so different is written incredibly well. I especially loved the way the push-ups were described from Lydia’s point of view, when it was foreign to her yet we as readers can easily pick up on what she is seeing for the first time. Conner's awkward transition into the society is endearing and hilarious. The only difficult part to understand was how exactly the dialogues differed between the cultures. It was easier to see as the story continued, but still not quite distinct by the end.
There were some moments when the story could have been shown more than told (“she felt happy” or “she felt proud”), where many emotions are labelled but the readers aren’t shown how the emotions translate into physical feelings. There are also instances of time lapse such as when Mr. McIntosh goes to get the splint where things happen a little too suddenly and too quickly, and readers have to backtrack a bit.
Lydia’s character is immediately apparent upon just a few pages into the first chapter. Readers easily know of her passion and commitment, her independence, and she is an easy main character to love. However, sometimes it felt like Lydia was a little too “perfect,” despite what she said about herself. While this is partially because of the world the book is set in (which I must mention again that I love very much), no character is ever perfect, and it would have been nice to see more flaws in her and in Conner himself. Conversely, Frank is presented as entirely evil, and it would have also been nice to see at least one good thing in him, even if reluctantly and briefly.
The mysteries presented throughout the novel are very intriguing and keep the plot moving forward very well, and clearly the author spent a lot of time editing this book. Many of the sentences are tightly constructed without using too many words. There was an instance of “whaled so loudly” when it should’ve been “wailed so loudly” and Lydia’s last name is misspelled in the fifteenth chapter, but errors such as these are minimal and it is rare to find so few of them in a self-published work (as I understand this to be). There is also a constant omission of a comma before "then" in many sentences when it was needed, but this is not necessarily incorrect enough to say the piece is not polished.
Throughout the novel when Lydia bandages or treats people, there are several times when the process is wrapped up into just a sentence or two, when it might have been helpful for readers and more realistic if the scene was written out just a little more to bring realism to Lydia's profession. However, this could also just be stylistic choice.
Overall this was a wonderful read and I hope to read the other two books of the series soon. I give this book 3 and a half jellyfish, rounded up to four.

You can find The Land Uncharted on Goodreads and Amazon!