Happy Birthday, Blog!

Happy 3 BDay Blog

Last Thursday, May 14, was the third anniversary–or birthday as I like to call it–of my blog and how long I’ve been on WordPress. I find that to be a huge accomplishment!

When I first started this blog I didn’t see myself still blogging three years later. I started this blog because I knew it was a great way to be recognized as a writer. Well, three years later and I’m still not published, but I’ve still come a long way.

My writing has improved greatly (as far as I can tell) and so has my blog. I’ve been blogging on a daily basis, have regular features, have a steady followship (I just made that word up!), I have my own domain name, and my blog actually means something to not just me, but to my readers as well.

My blog isn’t about promoting my writing. Sure, the recognition is still nice for when I do get published, but my blog has become more than that; it’s about my readers.

All of you guys have given me such wonderful advice regarding writing and blogging. I’ve made so many WordPress friends over the past few years. I’m not going to link to anyone because I’m afraid I’ll forget someone, but you should know who you are!

My blog has evolved immensely over the years and it’s because of all my readers. I don’t know if I would still be blogging if it weren’t for you guys reading, liking, and commenting on my posts. The WordPress community is certainly a great one; especially the writers.

With being said, I have a month-long feature coming up in June that I’ve been working on for the past couple of weeks. I hope you guys look forward to that and enjoy it because I’m having a good time coming up with the posts for it.

I didn’t mean for this post to sound like an acceptance speech and I didn’t mean for it to come off as corny or too sappy. Sorry about that, but all of you guys do mean a lot to mean me. So… I guess in addition to the heads-up about my June feature, I’ll give you another heads-up.

Since we love you all so much, Kris and I have been working on something special. That won’t be coming until the middle of August. It’s something private between us and our WordPress buddies–and it’s writing related. That’s all I’m going to say on the matter until August is here and we’re ready to announce it. So I hope you all look forward to that as well!

So, happy third birthday to my blog! Let’s hope there are many more years to come.

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Bloglovin’

Show of hands: who knows what Bloglovin’ is?

I’m sure most, if not all, know exactly what it is since we’re all bloggers here.

Bloglovin’ is basically a giant catalog of blogs from WordPress, Blogger, Blogspot, etc. It’s an easier way to follow more blogs you love and they’re conveniently all in one place for you.

Show of hands: guess whose blog is on Bloglovin’?

Mine, of course. I don’t know if someone put my blog on there or if Bloglovin’ is one of those sites that just knows these things, but I found it. So I claimed it as my own because, well… it’s mine.

With that being said, if you’re on Bloglovin’ feel free to follow me through there as well as here.

I went through a found a few of my WordPress friends on Bloglovin’ and started following them on there as well. Some blogs I couldn’t find. Again, I’m not sure how Bloglovin’ works because my blog was already on there and I didn’t post it. I just found out it existed not too long ago.

There’s my shameless plugging for the day. Follow me here, follow me there, follow me everywhere! You guys know where to find me.

Speaking of that, my Contact Me page has been updated.

Happy Monday, everyone!

May Goals

May 2015 Goals

April has come and gone and boy, did it go by fast. Spring is officially here (let’s hope the weather stays nice) and school is officially over for me which means that I’m going to have more time on my hands. More reading, more writing, more blogging.

That being said, I decided to set monthly goals for myself to get myself into a better routine. I’ll still be spending six hours of my day at work, but that’s all scheduled so it’s easy to set goals.

Reading:

With five Saturdays in May, that means five book reviews. These books may change depending on my mood, but as of right now here’s what I’m thinking of reading:

1. TTFN by Lauren Myracle
2. L8R, G8R by Lauren Myracle
3. The Sight by Erin Hunter
4. Dark River by Erin Hunter
5. Outcast by Erin Hunter

The Lauren Myracle books are books two and three of the Internet Girls series. I already read and reviewed book one, TTYL.

The three Erin Hunter novels are the first three novels of six in the third Warriors series. I haven’t read that series in a while so I decided to get back into them.

As stated, those books may change. Books may also be added depending on how quickly I can get through those five novels.

With that being said, my Reading List was updated with April’s books.

Writing:

For my writing group I need to edit parts two and three of the first George Florence novel. I need to look at part two and the critiques I get on that and then look at part three to send in by the 15. Then I have a meet with the group on the 30 so I also need to critique their pieces by then.

I have to type up the next draft of George Florence 2 and take a closer look at that and the first novel. That way my next edits can possibly be the last.

I plan to write one Short Story Sunday a day giving me 31 short stories by the end of the month.

I’m going to start querying my children’s book. I’ve been slowly gathering information on different agents over the past few weeks, so I think it’s time to get rolling on that.

I also may or may not try to find some contests and magazines to submit to depending on if I have time to write submissions or if I already have something to submit.

Kris and I are also going to start working on a big project–not a book, but it’s writing related. There will be more on that much later, though.

So, there’s a lot of editing and querying to do this month and only a little bit of writing. I have too many manuscripts written, but not edited. I may or may not leave the writing to NaNo months for the time being. We’ll see.

Blogging:

Nothing has changed on the blog. I’m just going to continue posting every day hoping each post is better than the last.

Overall, May is going to be a super busy month. Between reading, writing, blogging, and work, I have my plate full. At least I don’t have to worry about school anymore… I can’t wait for my diploma to arrive in the mail!

Vacation

Friday: It was my last day of work for a week. This week is April vacation, so I get to sleep in all week! Also, I get six and a half hours more for each day. That’s super exciting for me! It was also my dad’s birthday so we went out to eat and had cake, you know usual birthday stuff. It was low-key, but nice.

Saturday: Kris and I went to Barnes and Noble in the morning where I wrote 5,514 words of my Camp NaNo novel. Kris had to bring her notebook because her laptop gave her the blue screen of death. She wrote a lot for it being handwritten, though. We only stayed for a few hours before going back home because my dad’s siblings came over for lunch for his birthday. We rarely see them throughout the year (mainly just for Christmas) so it was a fun time.

Sunday: I was lazy. I’ll admit it. I didn’t get any writing done, I didn’t try to get a head start on my homework like I planned… I just went to church and then sat on the couch. Kris and I did take Chip out for a walk around the local pond, so that was at least something. We were all tired after that. It’s a 45-minute walk and for Chip to be so small, it was a lot for her. But she made it!

This Week: Since I don’t have work this week, I have a lot more free time to do things I want to do. My homework is already just about done (it’s the second to last week, so we barely have any assignments) so I just want to focus on my writing and editing and reading and anything else I need to do this week. Kris and I are going to Barnes and Noble again this morning when it opens. It’s always a treat when we can go there a couple times a week.

My week is cut short, though. I’m getting my wisdom teeth out on Friday so that will slow me down for a few days. For Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the posts will be the same–a writing quote, a book review, and a Short Story Sunday. They’re all written, so that’s fine. Monday will probably be another quote or something. I most likely won’t be responding to comments right away or commenting on other blogs. I’ll be out of commission for the weekend. Lucky me.

How was your weekend?

March: Inspiration Board

The March #YearOfHappy was to create an inspiration board. The idea was to create an actual board and hang it somewhere where you can look and admire it every day.

I’ll admit I cheated with this one.

I decided to use my virtual board, so to speak. I add things on there all the time, so why not share it with everyone here? It has everything on there that inspires me. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have a board for it.

That’s right… I’m talking about my Pinterest.

I currently have 93 boards. All are things that inspire me. Here are just a few:

Writing (I have writing, research, vocabulary, names, editing, characters, and blogging)
Teaching (I have a general teaching board, plus many different units in their own individual boards, plus special education)
Sunday School
Reading (I even have a board for the books I’ve read)

Considering that I have 93 boards, that’s not even a dent. I have different video game boards like Pokemon and The Legend of Zelda as well as different movies (The Lord of the Rings) and TV shows (Once Upon A Time).

All 93 boards inspire me in more ways than one. If you don’t know me personally, you would just need to look at my Pinterest profile and you’ll get to know to me in an instant.

So, if you want to see the kinds of things I love then I suggest you check out my Pinterest profile.

I add to my boards all the time and I’m sure there will be more than 93 boards in time.

Inspiration

Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest

I started thinking a bit about my inspiration board for the March #YearOfHappy. The more I thought about it, the more complex it got. Who knew it could actually be difficult to figure out what inspires you?

Anything can inspire you and it can inspire you to do different things.

What inspires me to wake up and go to work every morning? My wonderful co-workers who are fun to work with and teach me a lot. My students who are always able to put a smile on my face and push me to do my best in helping them. My paychecks because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to go to school and when that’s all paid for, I wouldn’t be able to save up for a new car.

What inspires me to go to school? What inspires me to go to church every week and teach Sunday school? What inspires me to babysit? What inspires me to read, write, and blog?

There are so many questions, but I feel as though there are way more answers (which is a good thing).

Maybe someday I’ll do a more elaborate post about everything that inspires me to… well, live my life. For the March inspiration board (which will be posted in about two weeks) I think I’m going to focus on what inspires me to write. Maybe I’ll continue and do more inspiration boards about everything else in my life afterwards.

After all, inspiration is everywhere.

Babies And Video Games

Friday: What did I do Friday? Well, I went to work and constantly checked my phone. Thursday night my friend went to the hospital to be induced. The meds to induce her were not working so instead of texting her sister, “was the baby born?” I had to ask, “is she in labor yet?” After work, still constantly checking my phone, I worked a bit on my blog and did my Sunday school lesson plan for this Sunday. I also organized some stuff around my desk. It was very riveting.

Saturday: You ready for this one? Kris and I went to Barnes and Noble in the morning, like every Saturday. We got some writing done. I wrote a bit of Detective Florence — just a quick story about the characters, it’s not in any of the novels… although it might be someday. Then we walked around looking at books and decided that we haven’t gotten any books in a while. Kris bought two books and I bought one.

Then we went to Kohl’s because even though I just bought new clothes, I needed more pants. Two pairs of jeans ripped in the rear so I had to throw them out. I also got socks, too because I’m always putting holes in mine.

Then we went to Toys R Us in search of a Wii U SD card. They didn’t have it, but we gawked at all the games and ended up buying two new games for our XBox 360. One of them is Minecraft… yes, we finally gave in to that fandom.

To keep a long story short, we tried to play multiplayer, but one of the controllers died. Actually died, not just the batteries. We went out to Toys R Us again to buy a new controller. They didn’t have them. So, we went to Gamestop and bought one. We went home and discovered that in order to play multiplayer on Minecraft we need an HD port and since our XBox is old, it doesn’t have that. In other words… we fail.

In other news, after being 11 days overdue and being in the hospital for three of those days, my friend finally had her baby Saturday night! She is adorable and I can’t wait to meet her so I can spoil her rotten!

Sunday: We went to church and were there for an extra two hours because we had our annual meeting afterwards. It was long, but I can’t complain. We came home and I helped my dad clean up some of the basement. Whenever this snow melts, we’re most likely going to get flooded. Then I worked some more on my blog.

This Week: I’m going to continue working on my blog posts. I want to get my March posts written as soon as possible to leave room for other things like writing/editing.

I have to edit the first chapter of the second draft of Detective Florence by March 15 to send to my local writer’s group. I have to figure out what I’m going to write for Camp NaNo next month (yes… it’s already a month away!) and I have to outline whatever it is I’m going to write.

I actually have a lot going on in March when it comes to writing and blogging. It’ll be interesting to see how it all goes.

How was your weekend?

Babysitting, Birthdays, And Blogging

Friday: I babysat in the early afternoon for a couple of hours. The dad got surgery on his ear so I was needed to keep the peace while the mom was at the hospital with him. I kicked butt in Monopoly, watched the boys play some video games, and watched the oldest dye his hair pink… yeah. In my defense, the parents said it was okay and he’s not my child, so… anyway…

Mom and I went food shopping and then we all went out to dinner. Then to Barnes and Noble. It was a good day with the kids and a good night with the family.

Saturday: Kris and I went to Barnes and Noble in the morning to write (I swear, we should just live there). We got kicked out of our seats because some people reserved the table, but that was okay. We went upstairs and found a table by the writing books and didn’t get much done there. It was way too quiet… we always sit by the cafe and I always claim I can’t work with people talking (I usually listen to instrumental music or nothing at all), but apparently the background noise of the cafe is a nice atmosphere.

Then we went to our sister’s apartment for our brother-in-law’s 30th birthday. We stayed there for a few hours before it started snowing (again!) and we went home. I planned on being productive after getting home, but that didn’t happen.

Sunday: We went to church for the first time in two weeks (because of all the snow storms). The corner of the Sunday school room is leaking and the entire Sunday school closet (with all our books and supplies and such in it) was soaked. Nothing was damaged and there was no “flood,” but the carpet was soaked and part of the ceiling fell through. Plus, there was a huge puddle in the light fixture. I am officially done with snow.

Also, I’m sure many of you have noticed that I’ve stopped commenting on your blogs (or have been extremely slow at it) and that I’ve barely been keeping up with the comments on my own blog. I don’t know why I’ve been slacking in this department. However, I spent the rest of Sunday afternoon on my blog typing out posts and going through the blogs I follow.

You won’t believe how many blogs I follow that don’t even exist anymore. I unfollowed those as well as some blogs that haven’t been updated in months (in some cases, years). I hate unfollowing people. I feel like a jerk. However, it got to the point that I was following more people than I could count and some blogs I didn’t even know what they were until I clicked on their link. It was just something that desperately needed to be cleaned out.

With that being said, I’m going to try to set aside some time each day (or maybe every couple days depending on my schedule) where I can catch up on blog posts. I can give myself some time to read through each post and comment on them like every fellow blogger should.

I have to organize my flash drive, my blog, my writing stuff, everything… it’s kind of crazy. I think that’s why I’ve been so slow lately; I have a lot going on and I don’t know where to start on working through it all. I’m working on it slowly, but surely.

This is yet another reason as to why I can’t wait to be done with school… eight more weeks!

How was your weekend?

January Love Letter

Yes, I know it’s February. That just means this post is extremely late.

I found this idea through Topaz‘s blog and she found it on Allison‘s blog. Allison created a hashtag for 2015 called #YearOfHappy. If you click on the link everything is explained, but I’ll explain anyway. Basically every month you do a different activity or work on some sort of project. The point of it is to get a little more out of life, to have fun, and be happy in 2015.

I thought it was a cool idea, so I decided to join in on the fun and give it a go. January’s prompt is to write a love letter to yourself. Of course by the time I found this January was almost over and I already had the rest of January’s posts planned and written.

It’s a little late, but I guess that’s better than never.

Printed and going in my journal for safe keeping.
Printed and going in my journal for safe keeping.

Hi Rachel!

So far so good, right? You’re doing pretty well with what life is throwing you at the moment even if it’s not throwing anything at you.

Last December you mentioned that 2015 was going to be your year when it came to writing. You’re going to get something published (or ready for publication) by the end of the year whether it’s a novel or a short story in a magazine or a quick poem in a contest. You want to have Detective Florence completed by the end of the year. We can do it!

If it’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s how quickly things change. Change hits you when you’re mid-blink and before you know it, you’re dazed and confused and have no idea what just happened.

I know you don’t like change, but it’s inevitable and not all changes are bad. A lot of changes will happen in 2015 (some you know of right now and some only future you knows). Some will be good, some will be bad. You’ll get through them just like you always do.

–Your best friend is going to have her baby any day now. You’re going to be an aunt. While this is a good change, things will be different. There will be no more staying out late at night with her, I’m sure you’ll be texting less throughout the day, and when you do hang out together the baby will always be there. You love babies, but there will be much less time to hang out just the two of you. But that’s okay; you’ll still be friends and you’ll be there for both her and her baby.

–You’re almost done with school. You have about three more months and then you’ll have your bachelor’s degree! I know you wanted to continue with your Master’s, but it’ll be nice to finally be done. 90% of your paychecks will not go to school; you’ll be able to save. Maybe even splurge on yourself once in a while.

–Work is difficult, but it’s worth it. Your co-workers are fabulous and the children are great–even if they sap all your strength. Some do that more than others–you know which kid(s) I’m talking about!

–Your writing is coming along. Detective Florence is on its way, you’ve found some contests and magazines to submit to in the near future, you’ve discovered something a little about yourself through your Creative Writing Nonfiction class, and you found a local writing workshop where you’ll meet new people in the same boat as you and you’ll learn lots of fun, new stuff. I’m sure that will help your publishing goals for this year.

See? This year is going to be just fine! Work hard, but indulge yourself once in a while. Go out more with friends/co-workers. Reach out to people you haven’t spoken to in a while.

You’ll make it, even if it doesn’t seem like it sometimes.

Love,

Me

I just wrote that letter right now and I have to admit it took me a while. Plus, I didn’t think it was going to be that long. Apparently I have a lot say.

Anyway, don’t forget to check out Topaz‘s and Allison‘s blogs. Even though we’re already about two months into the year, feel free to join #YearOfHappy. Even if you don’t share it with anyone, it’s fun to do it with yourself.

For December, we’re supposed to look back at this letter and reflect on the year. I wonder where I’ll be a year from now?

Two Awards

Beautiful Blogger

First things first: The wonderful Topaz nominated me for two awards! Thanks, Topaz! The first one is the Beautiful Blogger award. Here are the rules:

1.Copy the Beautiful Blogger Award logo
2. Thank the person who nominated you and create a link back.
3. Nominate seven other bloggers and say a little something about them.

The Howler

Here are the rules for The Howler Award:

1. Display the award on your blog. This can be in your sidebar or on a special award page
2. Thank the person who gave you the award and link to their blog
3. Give 3 examples of things you would like to see changed in the world
4. Nominate (in your own time) at least 5 bloggers that deserve the award
5. Donate the equivalent of $10 to a charity of your choice (optional)

What I would like to change in the world…all of these are easier said than done, but…

1. Fix the economy — seriously, it’s ridiculous
2. Stop war — this is even more ridiculous
3. Stop bullying — I hear way too many negative stories on this subject

My Nominees for both The Beautiful Blogger & The Howler Awards…

1. Random Acts of Writing — A regularly updated blog with many tidbits of writing. She has a few works in progress and is hoping to see them on the bookshelves soon.
2. Readful Things Blog — A wonderful writer, blogger, photographer, book reviewer, etc. She does everything that screams “art” and is fantastic at it.
3. Aspiringwriter22 — I have too many good things to say about Herminia. She is a fantastic blogger, a wonderful writer, and a hard-worker.
4. Permashift — I know I nominated this blog for an award not too long ago and it’s easy to understand why. Her book just came out less than a month ago, so please go check it out!
5. Uniquely Russell — A wonderful poet and writer. He is taking place in NaPoWriMo this year, so please go check it out if you want to read great poems!
6. Luna’s Little Library — Literally the best place for book reviews. Enough said.
7. Lysa Taylor — A wonderful writer. Check out her book trailer on her website (it’s really well done)!

There are my nominees…I could have written more about them, but I think it would be much easier for you to see for yourselves, so you should go check out their blogs. 😉

Thanks again Topaz!