2013 In Review: Writing

Last year I resolved to finish a first draft of any of my novels. I even went as far to say that if I didn’t finish one, I’d throw in the towel.


It was a foolish resolution.


Not necessarily because it’s unachievable, because it could be, but to just give up writing altogether over not finishing a first draft in a year was just stupid of me to say. Writing will always be a part of me, no matter how long it takes me to produce a final product. And I shouldn’t put such ridiculous limitations on myself so that I feel like a failure when I don’t meet them.


I refuse to feel like a failure.


So, what did I achieve in 2013 writing wise, if I didn’t complete a first draft? Lots, actually.


First, I wrote two short stories this year, just like the year before. And I sort of like this “habit” of writing two a year. It’s a good way to remind myself that I can in fact close a story and in less words than feels necessary for a novel. If by some chance you missed those short stories this year, you can find them below.


In Pursuit of Jenna Mae 


The Christmas Ban 


Also, that last short story became a sequel to a short story I’d written back in 2010 and I’ve already got a third and final installment to this Christmas collection planned for next year. I might even try to publish them all together for real. I really might.


Overall, I wrote 51,798 words this year. That’s more than the last two years combined. This might not seem all that impressive to all those writers who can churn out 90K manuscripts a year, but it’s big for me, that I wrote so much more than I have in the past two years combined. That’s quality progress.


Also, about those 51,798 words, with the exception of the short stories, almost all of those words were for Dreamsters, which I had started in the beginning 2012 and sat aside for the rest of the year. This is the first year I’ve successfully overcome my seasonal writer status and worked every month of the year on the same project. I miss my other stories, I do, but Dreamsters will be the first one I actually finish. Now that I know I can stay focused on the same story, regardless of the weather, I refuse to stop working on this one until it’s finished now.


I owe a lot of my accomplishments to a writing group I’m a part of on Facebook – Grapemo – hosted by author Jeannine Garsee. Not only are the weekly check-in’s about our writing progress a motivator, but the Teaser Tuesday and Thursday Specials have really opened me up and encouraged me as a writer. I’m grateful to be surrounded by so many like-minded folks.


I also gave Victoria Schwab’s star technique a shot towards the end of the year (and not just for writing) and found that seeing my daily success on a calendar really helped keep me focused. I plan to practice this again in 2014 for sure.


So my goals for 2014… well, I just hope to keep writing. I’d love to kick out another two short stories and I do have two ideas brewing, but I won’t punish myself if they don’t happen. That takes all the fun out of writing. And ideally it would be nice to finish Dreamsters in 2014 because technically I’ve already written more than half the book, but again I won’t punish myself if this doesn’t happen either.


I will write in 2014, that is all I’ll hope for. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll report an even more successful year to you next January.




February: In Review

February has been interesting as far as life achievements go. Well, maybe interesting is the wrong word to describe it. It was a sort of lopsided month, but for once this also doesn’t disappoint me all that much.


Unfortunately I only read one & half books this month. I wrapped up Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it finally and while I think it was very informative, it wasn’t as useful to me as I’d hoped it’d be. I use different editing software so basically everything I read on that was useless to me and while I have equipment, I don’t have nearly as much as I’d need to completely recreate the book’s shots. Still, I think it will come in handy later down the road, the further into this photography thing I get. I also read Brenna Yovanoff’s Paper Valentine. You can click that title to see my review.


I can hardly contain my excitement where writing is concerned these days.

First, I posted a short story for Valentine’s Day. If you missed it, click HERE to read In Pursuit of Jenna Mae.

Second, you may remember me saying I’d be participating in GRAPEMO this month and that my goal was to add 5K to Dreamsters. Well, not only did I meet that goal, I tripled it. It has been too long since I’ve had such a successful writing month and I can’t really even explain how excited it makes me that Dreamsters has grown from this baby of a project to a meaty 19K thing now.

As part of GRAPEMO, we were allowed to post teasers every Tuesday and Thursday. I didn’t participate in every opportunity, but I did post three snippets. You can check them out by clicking the following links: SNIPPET #1, SNIPPET #2, and SNIPPET #3. (Look for my LJ name and the title Dreamsters on the page and I’d suggest reading them in order.)

In addition to working on Dreamsters, I started a short story for St. Patrick’s day that I’m not really sure I’ll finish in time now, but we’ll see. 🙂

Total February Word Count: 15,842


I didn’t get to use my camera nearly as much as I’d hoped to this month, but the pictures I did capture were adorable. At the start of the month my sister made Gideon this awesome Sock Monkey hat (I swear she’s a crocheting genius, she doesn’t even use patterns, just wings it when she gets an idea). Anyway, about this time last year, we had done a photo shoot of Gideon with his Sock Monkey doll (Click HERE to refresh your memory) so it seemed fitting to do something similar with this hat a year later. I swear my nephew is going to be such a little heartbreaker. Here’s the BEST OF:

IMG_0404 [50%]_edit [50%] IMG_0635 [50%]_edit [50%] Gideon/Sock Monkey 2013

So that was my month. For as fast as it moved, it wasn’t all that bad. How about your February?

P.S. Reminder: If you are looking for February music, click HERE!


Short Stories

In Pursuit of Jenna Mae

I’m not exactly sure what classifies a person a nerd, or who it was that came up with the title, but according to everyone else, Jenna Mae is one. I, on the other hand, am not. In fact, I’m as popular as it gets in our school. Now, you’re probably thinking –Wow, Trevor, cocky much?—and I’m sure that does sound cocky, but I’m just stating the facts. If Jenna and I were being rated on a scale, we’d be on completely different ends of the curve, with me soaring to the top and her sinking to the bottom.


I’ve known Jenna for a long time, though. Her family moved across the street from me when we were ten so it made sense that we’d mingle in the beginning. Popularity doesn’t matter when you’re kids; anyone can be friends. But high school adds a whole new level of social status once you cross those front doors and like I previously stated, Jenna and I are on opposite sides of the bar. Naturally, at home, we drifted apart as a result. Still, I’m cordial with her and have taken a secret pleasure in watching her grow into a body better than any of the popular girls could ever dream of having. It’s just one more reason her nerd stigma is so strong; girls can be such jealous things.


The Valentine’s dance is a week away and I intend on crossing the border that separates us socially to ask Jenna to the dance. Most would say this was cause for social suicide, but it won’t apply to me. It’s senior year and there are only a few months left of school. It’s highly unlikely I’ll even see half of my supposed friends after graduation, and besides, part of the reason I’ve always been so popular anyway is because I just don’t care what other people think. I dictate what’s cool and people follow.


Now, before you go judging me and assuming this attempt to take Jenna to the dance is just another one of those stories where the popular guy asks the dorkiest girl in school to the dance just to humiliate her, think again. This won’t be Carrie, there are no bets. The truth is, I actually like Jenna Mae – nerd or not.


Playlist: In Pursuit of Jenna Mae

I don't typically post playlists for my short stories. Sometimes there isn't one, or it's just a lone song that lived on repeat while I wrote it and that's usually stated at the end of the post. But this particular story used three songs to write itself and so I thought it'd be fun to share ahead of the story in case you wanted to listen while reading! 

Arctic Monkeys – "R U Mine?"

The Black Ghosts – "Anyway you chose to give it"

The White Stripes – "Fell in love with a girl"

Do you sense a theme here? You should. 😉

Click HERE to read In Pursuit of Jenna Mae!


2012 In Review: Writing

It’s rather sad that another year of my life has passed without a completed novel in my possession. And my word count this year is only slightly better than last years, but at least I’ll report it this time because if you’ve been keeping track all year you can do the math yourself anyway.

28, 224 words in 2012. There, I said it. Maybe now that it’s out there and I have to carry the shame of all of you knowing it, it will force me to try harder in 2013? I sure as hell hope so.

So, why such a low number this year? Honestly, I’m not sure I have a good reason. I’m constantly thinking back to a few years ago when I wrote 134K words in less than a year and I try to understand what was so different then. What I’m doing wrong in comparison now. But I don’t have any answers. All I know it that this year I at least tried to be more consistent, to write every month, even if it was just a little. I didn’t always succeed, but I did write more consistently this year than last.

I also let shiny new ideas take off when they came to me instead of trying to suppress them for the sake of the current WIP like I have in previous years. As a result, I currently have 3 WIP’s. Yeah… I’m still not sure how well that sits with me because it hasn’t really amounted to a better word count, but it did keep me writing when I wouldn’t have been if I’d been sitting around waiting for my one and only WIP to feed me words. I suppose in 2013, one of my goals will be learning how to juggle 3 WIP’s more successfully.

And I started and finished a couple short stories again finally. After writing none last year, I felt like it was something I needed to work back into my writing routine. It’s good practice. And if nothing else, it helped increase my word count during those months when none of my books wanted to play nice with me. In case you missed those short stories this year, you can check them out here:

A Pill for Bravery


So, I feel sort of weird about this year in review because I’m not completely disappointed with my writing this year. I mean, it’s not really worth being proud of, but it’s also not worth hating. But I really, really do hope to achieve more in 2013. It’s time to be more productive, to spend my free time more wisely, to try harder than I have before. I’m not sure my confidence in this future can sustain another year of so-so success. I want the real thing. I’m hungry for it, even if the real thing is only reaching my own personal goals.

Writer peeps, how did you fare in 2012? What do you hope to achieve in 2013?

Short Stories


“So, do you like them?” Riley asks, beaming with pride over the stellar gift she’s gotten me for my birthday. Reece, Riley’s twin brother and my boyfriend, just sits back grinning. Of the two of them, he’s always less showy – never expectant of accolades like his sister.


I stare down at my custom Converses in awe, with their black paisley inner layer and red striped tongue. The skull head laces just add to their perfect design. They are everything I wanted and nothing I could ever justify buying for myself.


“I love them! Thank you so much, you guys.”


Riley hugs me quickly around the shoulders before hopping off the back of Reece’s truck where we sit. Reece simply squeezes my hand with a pleased smile on his face. Both actions are big efforts for the Pinkerton twins; they’re not ones for public displays of affection. In fact, to most people they appear standoffish. I’d been confused by their persistence to not come in physical contact with people myself when I’d first met them, but it all made sense when I’d found out they were shape shifters.


Reece explained that, “Every touch with another person or animal imprints their make-up on our soul, storing a million different characterizations in us,” which could become overwhelming for them to hold their own shape at times if they didn’t “use” the traits they’d picked up by touch.


For the most part they could shift on demand to anything they’d come in contact with, but if their library of faces grew too large, shifts could occur unexpectedly. Sometimes they spend a whole day shifting on purpose just to exhaust their collection of faces and make room for new ones. These kinds of days are always trouble.


There’s something empowering about taking on another being’s skin. Cloaked as someone else, they partake in all sorts of mischief – playing pranks on people, stealing things, all manner of questionable behavior. Reece says part of being a shape shifter is learning to tame the natural evilness within them, to appease the urge in less destructive ways so they don’t go around murdering people.


Most shape shifters don’t bother themselves with curbing the evil desire, but the Pinkerton twins aren’t like most shape shifters, or so they say. I’ve never met other shape shifters, never even knew they existed until I met them. So they’ve stolen a few things and scared the crap out of a couple of people – these things weren’t life threatening and I should be happy they’re able to withhold the natural urge to be far more criminal.


I swing my legs back and forth off the back of Reece’s truck and take in my new shoes, knowing they were probably stolen too, but I tell myself to forget it. In their attempt to do something good for me, they’d done something bad. I guess they canceled each other out.


With Riley dancing around the parking lot eager for our night of celebration to begin, Reece slides off the truck and extends his hand to help me down. I jump off, my yellow plaid skirt flying up and ballooning around me as I hit the ground. Reece makes a face like he enjoyed the show of panties. My face burns red.


“Where to first, Birthday Girl?” Riley asks, ready to lead the way.


I’m still shocked we are actually here, at the Harvest Fair, where hoards of people will be brushing against us with every step we take. Usually this kind of place is out of the question for the Pinkerton twins so I was terribly surprised when they suggested it, knowing I really wanted to go, but would never ask myself.


“Um… the Scrambler, then candy apples?”


“Sounds good,” Reece says, and I start towards the fair’s entrance with them on either side of me.


A Pill for Bravery (A Short Story)

After slurping up the remaining milk from her cereal bowl before school one morning, curiosity got the best of Heidi’s tongue. “Maw Maw, what are those?” she asked her grandmother.

Maw Maw held the blue plastic case in her wrinkled hands for a long moment before opening the door labeled “T” for Tuesday, as she’d already explained to Heidi the previous day. “These are my pills,” she said, and she took five tablets from the Tuesday slot and swallowed them with a swig of water.

Before she could tuck the case away Heidi asked, “What for?”

Again Maw Maw waited a minute before replying, carefully deciding how to explain medicine to a five year old child. Finally she said, “I take them because each of them makes me a better person.”

Eyes wide with intrigue, Heidi wondered, “How so?”

“Well,” Maw Maw said, removing the pills from the Wednesday slot to use as an example. She pushed a red one forward, away from the bunch, and said, “Take this one for instance. This one gives me hope.”

With Heidi completely captivated Maw Maw continued, pushing a blue one up beside the red one, “And this one makes me strong.” She did this with each of the pills, pills that gave her patience and kept her focused, and then she came to the last pill, a purple one larger and longer than the other round tablets.

Maw Maw took a deep breath before pushing it forward with the others. Heidi sat on the edge of her seat longing to know the last pill’s purpose. At last, Maw Maw said, “And this pill’s for bravery.”

Heidi eyed the pill with a sudden hungry desire for it. She thought about the day before when Tommy had knocked her down on the playground, how all the boys laughed at her when she cried. She wished she’d had a pill for bravery herself.

Her little hand reached across the table for it, but Maw Maw caught her mid-stretch. “Oh, no, Heidi, these pills are only for grownups.”

“But, Maw Maw, I need that pill,” Heidi begged.

The two of them held each other’s eyes for a full minute, Heidi’s pleading, Maw Maw’s calculating. Finally, Maw Maw released her hand, but swooped up her pills before Heidi could reach for them again.

Heidi’s bottom lip jutted out and she crossed her arms over her chest to pout. And her grandmother scolded her for it. “That’s no way for a young lady to act just because she didn’t get her way.”

Heidi sat up straighter and sucked up her disappointment. “I’m sorry, Maw Maw, it’s just that the boys at school are really mean to me sometimes and I’m too scared to stand up to them. I could really use that pill for bravery,” she said.

Maw Maw tapped her pointer finger on her lips a few times in thought and got up from the table as an idea took hold in her mind. She rummaged around in the cupboard and returned to the table with an empty pill case and five baggies full of colorful tablets that were really just confectioneries in a sugar shell that Maw Maw made candies with on special occasions. Heidi was none the wiser. She watched, bubbling in anticipation.

“Now, Heidi,” Maw Maw started, “This must be a secret between you and me, okay?”

A squeal of excitement escaped Heidi’s lips and she nodded her head. Maw Maw laid out all the separate baggies and pulled seven candies from each, one for every day of the week, and filled the plastic case with them. Heidi was nearly bouncing in her seat, eager to have pills of her own, pills that gave her all the great qualities her Maw Maw’s did.

“Here’s a set of your own,” Maw Maw said as she pushed the case across the table. “Be sure to only take them once a day, Heidi, and only the ones allotted for that day. If I catch you taking more, I won’t refill it for you at the start of each week,” she added sternly.

Heidi marveled at the slender pink case in her hands. She swept her finger across the labeled doors and spoke the days of the week aloud as her finger passed them. Slowly, she opened the Tuesday door like she’d watched her Maw Maw do and poured the pills into the palm of her hand.

Suddenly panicked, she looked up at her Maw Maw for instruction. “Do I have to swallow them? I don’t know if I can swallow them.”

Maw Maw chuckled. “No, love, yours are chewable.”

Heidi worried they’d taste bad, but her yearning for bravery was too great, so she popped them all into her mouth at the same time just in case. To her surprise, a clash of sweet and sour tickled her tongue and she smiled with delight over how easy it had been. Surely there should be a higher price to pay for bravery alone.

Maw Maw reached across the table for Heidi’s pill case and told her she’d keep it safe with hers in the cabinet. There was no argument from Heidi. She swore she could already feel the effects of them working in her body. Was she already stronger? She flexed her muscles. They seemed bigger. Heidi couldn’t remember the last time she felt so revved up to go to school.

“All right, child, we better be on our way or you’ll be late for school,” Maw Maw announced.

Heidi was out the door and waiting by the car before Maw Maw could even grab her keys. She smiled to herself over the innocent gift she’d given her granddaughter. Part of her wished the story she’d told about her own pills was actually true.


Heidi came home from school one day to find her parents pacing in Maw Maw’s kitchen, her mother desperately trying to hold back the tears fighting to escape her eyes. “What’s wrong?” she asked, confused by their behavior.

Heidi’s father sat her down at the kitchen table. “Sweetheart,” he started, but found himself struggling for the right words that wouldn’t send an eight year old child into hysterics. “Honey,” he tried again, “Maw Maw is very, very sick.” He put a lot of emphasis on the word ‘very’ but Heidi was already up out of her seat, charging up the stairs to her grandmother’s room to see for herself, before he could explain further.

“Maw Maw?” she asked, her voice betraying the disbelief of what her father had just told her as she peeked into her room. She crept towards her grandmother unsure, taking in her colorless skin and sagging face. All of the tubes and machines connected to her. Heidi couldn’t wrap her brain around it. Her Maw Maw was supposed to be strong. That’s what the pills were for. What happened?

“Don’t be scared, Heidi,” Maw Maw said in almost a whisper. She beckoned Heidi closer with her outstretched hand until Heidi took it in hers. The warmth her Maw Maw’s hands had always held now gave her a shiver.

“Daddy says you’re really sick. That can’t be, right? He’s mistaken, isn’t he?” Heidi asked, willing herself to be as sure as her words.

Maw Maw’s entire face frowned. “I’m afraid not, love. I am very ill.”

Heidi shook her head, refusing to believe it. “But you’ll be okay, right? Everyone gets sick sometimes.”

Sadly, Maw Maw replied, “It’s not that kind of sickness, Heidi. You don’t get better from this kind of sickness.”

“But our pills, all our pills…” Heidi just didn’t understand.

“Sweetie, those pills are the only reason I lasted this long. It’s my time. We’re not invincible, after all,” Maw Maw explained with a strained smile etched on her face.

Tears threatened to leak from Heidi’s eyes, her lip shook struggling to keep them from falling. Maw Maw reached out for her, her frail body exerting far more energy than it had, to pull Heidi up into the bed with her. Heidi refused to cry, but she wrapped herself around her grandmother like a koala bear with all her might, like maybe if she held on tight enough she wouldn’t lose her.

Maw Maw ran her fingers through Heidi’s hair long into the night, until Heidi had fallen asleep and Maw Maw’s hand grew tired. Her parents offered to move her to her own bed, but Maw Maw insisted she stay. Heidi’s parents finally fell asleep against each other at the foot of Maw Maw’s bed, mourning over their daughter’s reaction and fraught with pain over what they knew was to come.

When morning arrived, warm sunlight kissed Heidi’s face. She was the first to wake. She had dreamt of better times, when Maw Maw was younger and more agile and they would play together in the backyard on hot summer days. A smile crept into her cheeks as her eyes came open and before she thought better of it, she happily began recounting the dream. But there was no reply from Maw Maw and now that Heidi paid attention, no movement beneath her cheek where she lay on Maw Maw’s chest either.

She pushed herself upright, hovering over her grandmother’s face. “Maw Maw?” she whispered, scared of what she already knew to be true. Maw Maw’s hand lay over her heart and her lips turned upward in a permanent smile. She looked peaceful even in death.

Tears finally broke free from Heidi’s eyes as she stared down at her grandmother. She wondered if Maw Maw would be mad if she took two pills for bravery that day, even though it was against their rules, because Heidi was sure she’d need them. A chorus of sobs took over the room as her parents came awake.

In the days that followed, everyone was so busy planning viewings and the funeral that it almost made them numb. But when it was time to bury Maw Maw for good, Heidi’s mom fell apart. Heidi couldn’t imagine how much worse it’d feel to lose your mother if it hurt this much to lose your grandmother.

The day after the funeral, Heidi found her mother at the kitchen table, a steady stream of tears racing down her cheeks. She went about her normal breakfast routine, pouring herself a bowl of cereal and retrieving her pills from the cupboard her Maw Maw stored them in. But instead of taking the pills herself, she rounded the table to her mother’s side and said, “Here.”

Her mother sniffled, trying to reign in her tears. “What’s this?” she asked, skeptically eyeing the medicine case in her daughter’s hand.

Heidi popped open one of the doors and dumped the pills onto the table. She pushed each pill towards her mother, explaining their purpose, and finally she pushed the large purple pill towards her proclaiming, “And this one’s the most important. This one’s a pill for bravery and I think you need it a little more than me now.”

“Where did you get these?” Heidi’s mom’s voice cracked.

Heidi wandered back to the cupboard and emerged with baggies of what her mother knew to be the candies Maw Maw used to make sweet treats. They were candy and not medicine after all, but clearly Heidi had no idea. As she dropped them on the table, she said, “Maw Maw gave them to me. It was supposed to be our secret, but it could be ours now. And, Mom, you can only have one a day of each – Maw Maw’s rules.”

Her mother picked up a baggie and eyed it thoughtfully, remembering all the times she’d baked with these very things beside her mother. She’d miss those moments terribly, but maybe it’d be something her and Heidi could do together once Heidi was ready to grow out of the pill idea.

The first smile in days reached into Heidi’s mother’s cheeks as she scooped today’s pills up off the table and dropped them on her tongue. She cringed over the sweet and sour explosion erupting inside her mouth and she was crying again, but they were happy tears.

She pulled Heidi into an embrace and whispered, “Thank you, Heidi. I already feel braver.”

Short Stories

A Pill for Bravery

After slurping up the remaining milk from her cereal bowl before school one morning, curiosity got the best of Heidi’s tongue. “Maw Maw, what are those?” she asked her grandmother.


Maw Maw held the blue plastic case in her wrinkled hands for a long moment before opening the door labeled “T” for Tuesday, as she’d already explained to Heidi the previous day. “These are my pills,” she said, and she took five tablets from the Tuesday slot and swallowed them with a swig of water.


Before she could tuck the case away Heidi asked, “What for?”


Again Maw Maw waited a minute before replying, carefully deciding how to explain medicine to a five year old child. Finally she said, “I take them because each of them makes me a better person.”


Eyes wide with intrigue, Heidi wondered, “How so?”


“Well,” Maw Maw said, removing the pills from the Wednesday slot to use as an example. She pushed a red one forward, away from the bunch, and said, “Take this one for instance. This one gives me hope.”


With Heidi completely captivated Maw Maw continued, pushing a blue one up beside the red one, “And this one makes me strong.” She did this with each of the pills, pills that gave her patience and kept her focused, and then she came to the last pill, a purple one larger and longer than the other round tablets.


Maw Maw took a deep breath before pushing it forward with the others. Heidi sat on the edge of her seat longing to know the last pill’s purpose. At last, Maw Maw said, “And this pill’s for bravery.”


Heidi eyed the pill with a sudden hungry desire for it. She thought about the day before when Tommy had knocked her down on the playground, how all the boys laughed at her when she cried. She wished she’d had a pill for bravery herself.


Her little hand reached across the table for it, but Maw Maw caught her mid-stretch. “Oh, no, Heidi, these pills are only for grownups.”


“But, Maw Maw, I need that pill,” Heidi begged.


June: In Review

Gosh, June, where on earth did you go? Heck, the first half of 2012, please freaking come back! It is ridiculous how fast time is passing this year. I know I say this every month, but I swear time is listening and challenging me even more with every month that passes. Curse you, Time! *shakes fist angrily*
But enough of my disappointment with time… I’m sure I’m not alone with this lost time thing, so let’s just get on to the review of what was accomplished in the short period of time known as June. 
Writing – It’s not spectacular, but at least there’s a number this month. Total: 822. I should feel ashamed, I know, but I’m just happy to have written anything. It’s summer after all and even though I was struck with the lovely shiny-new Summer Novel idea last month, I wasn’t sure I’d actually achieve anything. But the first half of that number can be applied to Summer Novel (currently being referred to Beyond the Trees), and the second half can be applied to a short story I’m working on. Something, that sadly, might make you cry, but in a good way (hopefully). 
Reading – I didn’t read nearly as many books as I’d hoped to read in June. I started more than I actually finished honestly, but I did finish four, which isn’t a terribly embarrassing number to report. Included in those four, are: The Carrie Diaries, Book 1 by Candace Bushnell, Life as We Knew It (Last Survivors, Book 1) by Susan Beth Pfeffer, Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan, and Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 1) by Charlaine Harris. *Clicking those titles will take you to my thoughts on each book*

Photography – With June being Gideon’s birthday month, and his 1st birthday no less, there were a lot of opportunities for great pictures. I’ve bundled the pictures via instagram, but clicking on them will take you to their full albums if you’re interested in seeing more. Also, crazy things happened this month in regards to my photography. Things that both excite me and scare the crap out of me. Like, PEOPLE WANT ME TO PHOTOGRAPH THEM! People I hardly even know. They’ve been asking my family and friends and even approaching me about photographing their families or children. I am feeling super honored and scared like you can’t believe. I truly hope I don’t let them down. The other crazy thing is detailed under the first picture so without further ado, June’s notable moments in pictures:
Gideon’s 1st Birthday Photo Shoot
The cupcake used for the shoot was from Cupcake Wars Winner and local bakery, “Flavor Cupcakery.” When I was buying it, I mentioned what I’d be using it for and they asked me to bring in a copy of the picture. When I posted it on their FB page the following day they were so in-love with it that they used the photo to advertise their cupcake flavors for that day! So many total strangers ‘liked’ the photo on FB. It was a really cool feeling for me.
The Huff Family
My sister, Rachel, and brother-in-law, Steve, and their most recent tattoos, and then the both of them, with Gideon, at his 1st birthday party. The last time I shot pictures of them like this was their wedding party. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year already.
Gideon’s 1st Birthday Party
It was Pirate Themed, as to be expected based on the birthday invitations I shot last month. He received two of those pirate ship rides and my sister made all the adorable cupcakes and birthday cakes. Overall, it was a successful event! 
Music – As always, music never lets me down. And June was no exception. I wish I could limit this list to a more reasonable number because I know by posting as many as I’m about to post, I’m probably losing readers, but seriously, I just can’t. There were THAT many great bands in June that you MUST know about. If you pass up this list, well, you’ve totally lost out. Just saying.
Artifex Pereo – Liable for Tragedy
It’s always a wonderful thing when one of your favorite bands randomly releases a new track featuring their new singer, for no reason at all, and you love it just the same as all their other tracks with their old singer. It’s even more awesome when they offer you a link to said song for free, even when you’re willing to pay for it, just because you want to listen to it on repeat. Yeah. One of my favorite bands. You get why, right? 😉

Anthony Green – “Get Yours While You Can”

I had wanted his solo album for some time now, but the guilt over the money I’d spend to buy it always got the best of me before. This month, though, I finally let desire win over quilt and Oh, gosh, I wasn’t let down. I had no doubt that Anthony Green was talented. I was well aware of his skill with Saosin and Circa Survive, but this solo record was really something special and I am so happy to finally own it. 

Circa Survive – “Suitcase”

Technically this should probably be the last track listed since it hit me at the end of the month, but since we’re talking about Anthony Green already, I might as well follow up with this gem. Apparently Circa Survive is releasing their next own on their own and it’s coming in in AUGUST! Oh, you don’t even know my excitement over this. Seriously. Expect lots of Circa Survive come August. Just warning you. 

Grouplove – “Tongue Tied”

A friend from high school who actually participates in Music Friday on Facebook suggested I give Grouplove a listen and since their album was on sale, I went ahead and bought it. And I’ll be honest, it’s stellar. If you’re looking for that happy summer sound, Grouplove just might be the band you’re looking for. Check them out, really. 

City and Colour – “Weightless”
So many times I’d heard of this artist, but it wasn’t until this past month that I finally gave them a listen. And of the two albums I now own, I can confirm their absolute awesomeness. If you haven’t check out this artist, you’re missing out. Period. 

Imagine Dragons – “Round and Round”
After expressing my interest in City and Colour my sister exposed me to Imagine Dragons and while there’s only an EP’s worth of tracks to love, OMG, I love them all. If you like indie, and also love a little beat, this might be a band for you. I can’t wait for an entire albums worth of tracks. I’m pretty sure they won’t let me down. 

Letter Kills – “Brand New Man”
If you’ve followed me long enough you know that 1) I steal music from whoever is advertising it, and 2) rarely like a band enough to enjoy every song by them. Well, this band was stolen from the drummer of Artifex Pereo, and were they still around, they may just qualify as one of the bands I like every song by. Too bad they didn’t last. 

Of Mice & Men – “The Depths”
Of Mice & Men announced the re-issue of their album, “The Flood,” and while I already own it and have no intentions of buying the whole album all over again, I am definitely anticipating the new tracks that are slated to accompany it, especially if they’re anywhere as awesome as this one.

Chantal Claret – “Light it Up”

It really sucks that I have no youtube link for this track because I promise you it’s so worth listening to and I fear you won’t follow THIS link to actually check it out. But you really, really should. While Chantal’s solo sound will never be in league with her Morningwood sound (IMO), the modern soul thing she’s doing now is really great, and I have no regrets over buying her new album this month!
In case you missed that link above, click HERE to HEAR “Light it Up”

And so, I guess that’s all I have to report this month. It feels like I had more to say, but this is already ridiculously long, so I’m guessing I probably covered it all. What were all of you up to in June?! Please sound off in the comments. I’d love to hear all about it! 

Peace & Love – Sarah



We Need a Resolution

With the first of the New Year finally here, it’s time to re-evaluate the year behind us and decide what can be done in the year to come to improve our lives. We should always be working on ways to improve ourselves on a day to day basis, but it seems wise to decide on the long term goals at the start of a New Year. While I was fairly pleased with the things I accomplished in 2010, I know there are several things I can work on to make 2011 even better.

In 2011, I hope to achieve the following things:


– Complete my current WIP by June and by complete I mean ready to shop around with. I’m not that far away from its completion (maybe 40,000 words?) and if I devote myself to it more than I did in 2010 there is no reason this shouldn’t be possible.

– In order to continue to improve my writing ability I plan to use the Webster’s Vocabulary Builder that I got for Christmas regularly. There are 25 units in the book, which divided across the year would mean I need to do at least 2 units a month. Within each unit there are 6 quizzes. If I study the book 3 times a week (doing 3 quizzes) I feel confident that I will greatly increase my use of new words while writing this year.

– Write more short stories. Being a part of an actual critique group now has drastically changed my self esteem when it comes to writing and sharing short stories. I hope that as a group we will set out to write several short stories throughout the year to share with each other as well as online.

– Begin my next WIP. What that will be, I’m not entirely sure. There are several stories that scream for my attention, but I refuse to entertain them until it’s actually time for fear that they’ll interrupt the current WIP. When the time comes, I’m sure one of them will be loud enough to let me know they’re next.


For a very long time I’ve been struggling with my weight and in the last year in particular it has basically spiraled out of control. As a result I’ve got a lot of work to do, but I’m okay with this. Getting my weight under control and being healthier overall needs to happen now, while I’m still fairly young and capable to doing this. I don’t want to wait a couple more years to take it seriously and then be in such a bad place it feels impossible. I also don’t want to look back and regret not changing when I wanted to just because I was too lazy. This is the year I will “get my sexy back” (not that I was ever sexy, but you get the point).

My plan is to lose 60 lbs. by September (because that is when my sister’s wedding is) and this amount is completely reasonable in this time frame. That would average about 6 1/5 lbs. a month which shouldn’t be too hard if I actually stick to a stricter diet (which means a heck of a lot less fast food and carbohydrates) and daily exercise (with cool things like my new body ball).

To make sure I see this goal through I intend on taking a picture of myself at the start of every month as well as logging my measurements and weight along with the picture. At the end of 2011 I hope to be able to do an “In Review” post that features my weight loss and share that progress in the form of pictures with you all. Hopefully the change will be drastically different from start to finish.


For the most part I was able to read about 4 books a month last year. Sure there were some months where there were less and others where there were more, but overall I averaged about 4 books a month. I feel this is a reasonable amount of books to read and still be able to do all of the other things I need to work on so I will shoot for a similar reading goal this year.

Since I already have enough new books in my possession to achieve this goal my plan of attack for that To-Be-Read pile is to blow through the thinner, standalone novels first (while I work on finishing my own book), and then jumping into the series that I know once I begin I won’t be able to put down until the series completion. My main concern when it comes to reading is finding a healthier balance between reading and writing and I hope that my “plan” will help create one.

Also reading related I hope to return to reading my Bible more regularly. I always seem to forget about the comfort it brings me until I’m so distraught that I’m reaching for it out of desperation. I’d rather keep up with it on a regular basis and maybe by doing so I won’t find myself in such a low place as often.

Those are my 3 main goals for 2011. I’m sure there will be smaller less important ones along the way, but before any of those are attended to these 3 must be met. I refuse to face failure when it comes to these things and I truly hope this time next year I can gloat about my success. Wish me luck!

LJ friends, care to share what kind of resolutions you’ve made for 2011?

Peace – Sarah