A Limited Teen’s Guide to Limited Time

Hey warriors! Welcome or welcome back to Words! Today’s post is written upon request by Emma Thrasher (and others!) and it’s meant to answer a lot of questions I had and sometimes still have about time. This post was the hardest post I’ve ever written because time is such a difficult thing to understand. But I think I covered everything I know and taught myself a thing or two, so it’s worth all the writer’s block and it’s length. I hope you’ll take some of your limited time to read it. Here’s what I’ve learned as a limited teen about limited time.

A View of Time

The biggest lie I ever tell myself is “I’ll do it tomorrow.” The second biggest lie is “I don’t have time.” I do, in fact, have time. The question is how I’m using the time I have. Every day we have around 12-17 hours awake. That’s up to 1,020 minutes or 61,200 seconds to spend on everything we need done in a day. Then think about how long things take. So many things take very little time and yet take up a large amount of time in our day. For example, practicing guitar can take as little as five minutes. I choose to spend 45 minutes on it. Making coffee takes five minutes. I choose to stand there, doing nothing during those five minutes and wasting time. Watching a helpful video can take up to 30 minutes. I choose to watch multiple videos, most of them less helpful than the first. A whole conversation can happen in 30 minutes or less. I choose to keep talking and texting for two hours. Is there anything wrong with these choices? No! Not at all. But when you add up the time spent, you get nearly five hours of time cut out of your 17 hour day. That’s just under a third of the day. These things don’t include work, school, transportation, events, and things you really need to do. How are you spending the time and how can you use it better?

Wasting Time vs. Renewal Time

The most important thing I’ve learned is that sometimes what we view as relaxing is actually a waste of time… but likewise we often label time wasted when we’re actually renewing. If you want to use time to your advantage, you need to identify the difference for yourself because there is a big difference. Here’s what I’ve found it to be in my experience:

  • Wasted time drains energy. Renewal time restores it.
  • Wasted time drains or discourages creativity. Renewal time inspires it.
  • Wasted time requires nothing or little of you. Renewal time calms your mind down but doesn’t let it just sit.

If your definitions don’t match all of mine, I won’t be surprised or say they’re wrong because people are different. There are extroverts, ambiverts, and introverts. There are creatives, scientists, and logical imaginers. Everyone is different. But the very first point should apply to everyone: renewal time is time spent refilling the fountain. Wasting time is letting it sit there and leak away. Here are just a few ways to renew yourself:

  • Take a warm bath and just think
  • Listen to a podcast on something you care about
  • Read a book you enjoy
  • Talk to a friend or family member about nothing of importance
  • Take a short nap (dreams are a good thing!)
  • Play or listen to music

(You might also want to check out this post on self-care I wrote on Sketch Scribble Scribe!)

Productive Time

Another thing to consider is that any time not wasted or spent on renewal should be productive time. This means getting things done or doing things that challenge and push your brain and your body to healthier, stronger, and better places. Which means rock climbing and dancing around the room can be productive time too. Often I’ve found myself caught up in the idea that “productive” means math problems, laundry, and writing a thousand words. But sometimes it means reading the Bible, praying with a friend, teaching a sibling to do push-ups, and other less stressful things. Stressful doesn’t mean productive. That mindset keeps you from your check list and from enjoying the limited time we have. Productive means using your time for growth and for expansion. It’s learning, practicing, helping, teaching, working, and taking care of yourself. In a sense, renewal time is productive time too. It’s just a separate subcategory of productive time. As a teenage writer, I’d advise all my teen readers not to do what I’ve done before: drop family life, stress yourself over getting big projects done and maintaining friendships that might not last and will be fine without 24/7 care, and end up wasting time because it’s just too much. Instead, adjust your perspective of productive and start enjoying life even as you get things done.

Priority Mindset

Brett Harris, one of the co-authors of Do Hard Things and the founder of The Young Writer’s Workshop, has told his students something that could change how many look at things: instead of looking at something and saying, “I don’t have time,” you should say “it’s not a priority right now.” This forces you to decide if Bible reading and your morning routine are important to you or just things you sometimes skip to get to things you don’t need to do as much. Instead of telling the Lord I don’t have time to read His Word, I’m learning to say “Lord, I’m going to read Your Word because it’s a priority for me.” This mindset is an incredible tool in choosing how you use your time. By selecting your priorities, you get the important things done and often enjoy life more. When I choose to make writing a priority over reading, that is my choice based on two things: my preference and my goals. When other people are involved, a third thing is added. Then I also have to consider what others want and need from me. By sorting through what needs done most and what matters least, I make the most out of my time.

Replace vs. Cut

If you had a sped-up video of all you did in a week, you’d probably realize at least a few things could use some work. Some of us would take that to mean we should immediately force ourselves away from distractions and things that steal our time. However this can cause a lot of problems. When you only give yourself negative feedback, you tell yourself what not to do and not what to do. I’ve made this mistake and it never leads to more productive time. It leaves me stressed and overwhelmed as well as angry or annoyed at myself for not getting rid of bad habits and addictions (which I’ll talk about in a moment). When I do this, I set myself up for failure. Instead, offer yourself something to replace it with. Say “I’m going to replace this with that.” Instead of getting frustrated when you fail, go do the thing you said you’d do instead. For example, I most get distracted by certain apps on my phone. To fix this I can offload the apps, choose a better habit, and tell myself when cave and reload then to do that, such as reading the New Testament. This way my brain learns to turn to the Lord when it wants to watch YouTube until it stops craving YouTube the same way.

Consistent Problems

You probably noticed that I mentioned addictions along with bad habits and in a paragraph about avoiding distractions. When I say “addictions,” what do I mean? I mean things you intake constantly. To twiddle your thumbs in history class every time the lesson gets boring is a bad habit. To watch YouTube videos or eat a certain food every day is an addiction. An addiction is a hunger for something that affects your health, physical or mental. Most people thing addictions only mean drugs and drinking but sometimes they mean videos and books. When you take in something by watching, reading, or listening to it or by physically eating, drinking, or breathing it, it affects your health in some way. Food, water, and air are essential to life and so are things to look at and listen to, if you have those abilities. Humans were made to take things in. But too much of anything is an addiction and can sometimes harm you. From listening to rap constantly to eating sugar every day, it affects the way you feel and the way you think. Addictions that affect your mental health affect your time a lot, but any addiction can steal your time. If you’re addicted to something you don’t want to be addicted to any more, tell one or two people and ask them to check on you every day. Have them ask you if you’ve taken in that thing and try to hold yourself accountable with reminders asking the same question. If it’s a website, block it. If it’s a book, get rid of it. If it’s music, block the app for a while or delete the songs. Keep yourself away and put something in its place. Change it up or choose a new habit or addiction. Decide to be addicted to reading the Bible, which you can’t get too much of, or to reading books that teach you. Choose to go for a quick walk when you feel tempted or to close your eyes and breath. Addictions aren’t always evil things but are often harmful things. They shouldn’t be taken lightly but can be overcome.

Communicating With Others

Our lives are very much entwined with others lives, and when you decide to take advantage of the time, you still need to double-check your schedule with others’ schedules. I like to think of groups of people as a body, like the Body of Christ. Each member has to cooperate for the body to function properly. Think about it: within you are trillions of cells, each dependent on others. Most will never touch each other, but many still interact. If we want to change our schedule, we need to consider that our actions affect so many people. When we communicate, here are a few pointers:

  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you by genuinely considering their time as valuable. Make sure that you prize others because then they’ll be willing to prize you.
  • Ask instead of suggest, if possible. Instead of saying “I’m changing my schedule. I’d like to switch our meetings to 5 instead of 4, does that work?” try asking them what times they have open. By being open, they’ll be open to you.
  • Claim responsibility where possible. As a teen, I often fail to take responsibility for things I need to do outside of the house because my parents drive me everywhere. But in all reality, it’s my responsibility to remember the time and to bring the things with me that I’ll need. 90% of the time it is not their fault if I don’t do something.
  • Remember to prioritize the people who you need most. For me, I depend on my family a lot and would need to talk with them about my schedule before my friends. I also need to talk to my writing teacher before I talk to my writing partner. By working this way, you guarantee time with the most important people in your life.

Creating an Ideal Schedule by the Real Schedule

When you go to change your schedule, don’t try to change it all at once. You can’t entirely transform 24 hours by writing a very different schedule. Start small. Adjust a few key things and do that until it’s habit. Adjust it more. Keep going until you’ve got the schedule you need and want most. And if it takes a long time, don’t worry! You can still make the most of your time even when your schedule isn’t perfect. Remember when you were a kid and found every second of play you could even though your parent chose how much time you really had? Embrace that now. You have time and can use it, if you choose to.

This post wasn’t directly writing centered but I know it can change the amount of time a writer writes and that can change the quality of their writing, so I think it’s well worth it. I hope you all enjoyed this post! See you next month!

(Psst! You might also want to check out this post full of study tips from Sketch Scribble Scribe!)

Middle-of-the-Month Check-In: July

Hey warriors! Welcome or welcome back to Words! How are you all doing? It’s been a month (how, I don’t know) since I last checked in and it’s that time again, so let’s dive in!

Me

  • An amazing friend of mine from Salt Lake City came to visit for the first time in two years! It was such an amazing day…
  • We went on a day trip to Denton, Texas! I’ll be posting about that on my other blog soon, including my shopping haul. 😜
  • I posted for Diamond’s Camp Happy Heart twice this month! Go check out her blog. It rocks.
  • My family finally found time to plant flowers! Between COVID in May and commitments we just hadn’t done it until now. I’ll insert a gallery of photos after this section.
  • The Star That Always Stays came out on July 12! It’s so good so far! I haven’t quite finished it though because….
  • I have a church camp and a conference in the next two weeks! This camp is the highlight of my year…. I love it so much! But two weeks away from home means a lot of planning and packing. It also means that all posts during that time are written and scheduled in advance so I won’t be responding to comments for a little while. But still talk to me! I’ll answer as soon as I get the chance.
  • Last but not least, my family went through our homeschool library! I may do a bookshelves tour in the future if anyone is interested. We have a lot of books. 😅😂

My Blog

My Writing

  • What Matters Most needs more development than I originally thought. I want to give it room to be the best possible so I’m taking a break until I can focus on it and then I’m expecting it to be nearly a year before it will be 100% ready for publishing.
  • I decided that, when I do NaNoWriMo this year, I’ll work on either What Matters Most’s sequel or I’ll work on The Lies I Believed. Since it’s narrowed down it will be easier to plan when October comes around.
  • I wrote two short stories and a poem this month. They are all posted above in the blog section.

You

For those who don’t remember, this portion will be where I feature my favorite little snippets of writing, photography, or art that you guys send me through my contact page! (For photography and art you will need me to respond before you can send the files.) For this month, I’m featuring Emma’s writing!


What is the purpose of a story?

Is it to entertain you, to occupy the dull hours of a night or day?

Is it to help you escape, to live in another’s world for a few hours, only to eventually have to return to your own?

Or is the purpose of a story to teach? Are stories merely nicely-decorated conduits for information, meant to make the learning go down easier? Are they like the flavoring in sickly-sweet cough syrup, which disguises the medicine’s bitter taste but doesn’t quite do it well enough to make the medicine taste good?

Is a story meant to promote a cause? To sell a product? To convince an audience to believe that what you say is true?

Maybe a story is all of these things.

But maybe not.

Maybe a story has one purpose, and one only—to glorify God, the best storyteller of all.

God is the ultimate author. He has written us here on earth so that we may glorify Him, and He is more than worthy of all the glory that our stories can give Him.

And every story bears the mark of its author’s Creator. In the triumph of good over evil, in the sacrificial love of a father or mother for their child, in the anguish of a heart groaning over the darkness of the world, and in the quiet peace that comes when that groaning heart finally sees the light

What is the purpose of a story?

Is it to entertain you? To provide escape or relief? To force-feed you a message, or to advertise?

No.

The purpose of a story is threefold: truth, goodness, and beauty.

With these three together, we will point to the Maker of all, who wrote the story of the world, and by whom our story is continually being written.

Truth. Good stories portray the world as both dark and light. The world is not safe, but the world is not hopeless. In it there is unspeakable cruelty and evil, but there is also unspeakable grace.

Good stories must point to truth. If they do not, then they have failed to display the Maker the way He truly is.

Goodness. A story with no light is no story at all. Yes, the darkness is pervasive, but to show only the darkness is to ignore the better half of the picture. There is goodness in the world, and a good story will show it: goodness standing against evil with courage and strength, and goodness that can never be overcome by the dark.

True stories must point to the good. For how can vice with no virtue show us a virtuous God?

Lastly, beauty. Beauty is the color to the painting of humanity. It takes a cold stone and makes it a marble sculpture; it takes cloth and paint and makes it a breathtaking masterpiece. What is true and good should be beautiful, and what is beautiful must be true and good.

Beautiful stories point to our Creator better than any dry prose. He is true beauty. And how can something remind us of Him—our father, lover, and friend—if it is not beautiful?

This is the purpose of a story. Every good story bears the mark of our God, and our God is true, good, and beautiful.

Perhaps, using stories, we can fight back the darkness and let our light shine more.


That was really thought-provoking and beautiful! Don’t you agree?

I’ll be putting up a submissions page soon (hopefully. A lot is going on, so I won’t promise it immediately), since the contact page is somewhat difficult for files. But next month’s Middle-of-the-Month Check-In is already open for submissions! Make sure you submit your best work in 1 image or 1000 words or less and keep it clean please! I can’t wait to see what you guys have for me next month!

Now I’d like to take this last paragraph to ask you some questions because you warriors are amazing. You can answer as many or as few as you want, but this is my chance to get to know you better and to learn what you guys want from me! So here we go. What have you done this month so far? How are you doing? What would you all like to see from me in this next month? How are your projects going? Let me know in the comments! See you soon!

Why I’m Taking a Writing Break + What That Means

Hey warriors! Welcome or welcome back to Words! Today’s post is a little more serious than sometimes, but I’d like to update you on some amazing changes to come and the small sacrifices I’m making so they’ll work. Let’s dive in!

What I’m Doing

I’m going to start by explaining what I’m changing so you won’t be disappointed after I deliver the exciting news. To begin with, I won’t be working on What Matters Most for the next month. I’ll work on some other projects and be working toward exciting things, but I will not be revising or preparing to self-publish What Matters Most yet.

I’ll also drop out of Summer of Stories contest, not because I don’t love it but because it’s one more thing to post, one more thing to write, and one more thing to do when I already have too much in all three categories.

I’m not going to post every Wednesday on this blog or on SSS. I already said that on SSS but I forgot my own plan and went ahead and posted yesterday. 😂 But I’ve been posting Wednesday and Friday here, and I can’t keep it up. Instead, I’ll post on SSS one Wednesday and here the next. If I miss a Wednesday, I will apologize but I will not pressure myself about Wednesday Words posts.

For followers of Charlotte O Juice, she is officially saying good bye… kind of. I love her and don’t want to say goodbye, but I currently can’t be under the pressure of a fourth blog, especially one getting 0 views. So Charlotte will live on here, in some way shape or form. It is yet to be determined. But perhaps she should have a photography corner somewhere on the blog?

Why I’m Pausing What Matters Most and What That Means

I’m pausing What Matters Most in order to focus on my platform for a moment. In other words, I’m pausing for you guys. I’m also pausing to give myself a chance to grow and work toward a goal I have for next year.

I needed to take that stress off my shoulders so I can really throw myself into the awesome things I’m working towards!

This means that, when I hit 100 followers, I won’t be self-publishing the book. Not this year. It was my original goal, but I don’t think it would be best for me or my story. I’m sorry if anyone’s upset, but I doubt anyone is extremely disappointed because I’ve hardly given you reason to care for the book. That changes now.

Now for the best part of this post….

What I’m Working Towards

In the coming months and years, I have a lot of dreams. Here are some of my goals in the future:

  1. Launch an email list (Partially started and officially coming very soon! It will contain ways to vote for what I post here, sneak peeks, and exclusive writing Q&As!)
  2. Join the Author Conservatory (and do a post with one of their instructors promoting it, as well as sharing just how much I’ve changed since joining just their community two years ago)
  3. Share more snippets of writing (including bonus snippets for books, with scenes that aren’t in my books or scenes from different perspectives)
  4. Share more How I Write posts (What do you guys need? Let me know in the comments, so I can make sure I get everything you guys need!)
  5. Post more book reviews and interviews with authors (because supporting other authors is literally one of my favorite things to do)
  6. Write a sequel to What Matters Most (that dives into the perspectives of the previous book’s villain as well as some side characters, switching from all girl perspective to all boy perspectives)
  7. Start a writing class that would run for a year (teaching you how to write a novel in a year, using my writing book from my giveaway and other resources all over)
  8. Host a contest or two (because you guys are amazing, and I want to help you show that to the world!)
  9. Self-publish What Matters Most and its sequel around the same time (so nobody has to sit there wondering what happens next.)

In order to get there, I’m going to be working on simply growing for a little bit. Like a theme park where you can’t ride the roller coaster until you’re a certain height, I won’t be prepared to take these leaps and bounds until I’ve learned more. I’m not perfect. In fact, I’ve found even better character profiles since I wrote the post “26+ Things You Should Know About Your Main Characters.” So I’m going to learn for a while, stress less, and try to really store up knowledge and energy for when I start reaching for these goals.

As I do that, I’d like you to come along! Until my email list launches, the best way for you to do that is to subscribe! Another amazing way you can help me out is to comment what you’d love to see from me, what I’m doing well, and what I might want to fact-check or work on. Meanwhile, I’m also hoping to support you! Submissions for my Middle-of-the-Month Check-In: July are open! For those who don’t know, I explained it here, too. This month, there isn’t a theme. But there might be one in the future! Until then, the only rules are to keep it PG, at 1,000 words or less if it’s written, and to submit it through my contact page with your name or username and a blog or social media link. Please do not include the link to your blog or media if it contains content that might trigger or upset someone without including potential trigger warnings. I want to protect everyone here, and I’d rather not have to hunt through your blog to do that. I’ll be choosing my favorite entry and sharing it here on the blog when I post my next Middle-of-the-Month Check-in!


I hope you enjoyed this post and are excited for what’s to come! What posts do you want most from me? What goal are you most excited for me to reach? Are you submitting an entry to my Middle-of-the-Month Check-in? Let me know in the comments! Have a great weekend, warriors!

Middle-of-Month Check-In

Hey, warriors! Welcome or welcome back to Words! Today’s post is a little different from my usual ones, and, if you guys like this, let me know so I can make it a regular thing! I’m just going to give a brief life update and writing update (not all that much… these posts aren’t meant to be stressful or cause anger/offense/jealousy!) I’ll divide it into four sections. Let’s dive in!


Me

  • I have been pretty tired lately, which has meant less productivity.
  • I got back into a blog schedule, which means that if you follow all of my blogs you’ve seen some fun content!
  • I recently helped with my church’s VBS. I’ve never worked harder and this was my third, but it was so worth it… even if I did wake up early and come home with a headache every day.
  • I took my first ACT test and went to a public school building for the first time since second grade! That was interesting….

My Blog

My Writing

  • I got back into journaling for the most part after struggling during VBS
  • I’m about to dive into the alpha edits of WMM
  • I rediscovered an old story that… if I ever get time… I might fix.
  • This month hasn’t been the best, writing wise.

You

This portion will be where I feature my favorite little snippets of writing (no more than 1,000 words please and try to keep it short and very clean), photography (again, clean please), or art (you know by now) that you guys send me through my contact page! (For photography and art you will need me to respond before you can send the files.) I’ll try to feature as much as possible but I may not be able to feature yours, although I will try to respond with positive feedback because everyone rocks! If you guys like this, I might start adding themes. For this month, I’m going to feature Maggie’s amazing short story, since it really embodies the theme of Words!


“More.” The little boy’s smile was contagious as he

watched the teenager add a scoop of strawberry ice

cream to his cone.

“More.” The woman took the cup of water from her

husband, who held her hand while she went through

the pangs of childbirth.

“More.” Adjusting the tire pressure slightly, the man

grinned at his grandson as they admired his very first bicycle.

“More.” The young woman winced as the dress was

tightened, then smiled at her beautiful wedding dress in the mirror.

“More.” The man’s greedy hands closed around the

coins, tossing them to his comrade.

“More.” Taking a couple flower pedals from her

husband, the woman sprinkled them over the new

grave of her son.

Words.

More words.

But less words.

mean more.


Isn’t that amazing?! I love it so much!


Now I’m going to take this last paragraph to ask you some questions because you guys rock! You can answer as many or as few as you want, but this is my chance to get to know you better and to learn what you guys want from me! So here we go. What have you done this month so far? How are you doing? What would you all like to see from me in this next month? If you’re an author, what’s your current project? What are your plans and hopes for your writing? Do you like this post? Would you like to see more of these? If I do more of these, should I do themes or leave them open to anything? Let me know in the comments! See you soon!

Why I Journal + A Peek Into My Journal

Hey, warriors! How are you doing today? I’m excited, since I get to talk about a big change I recently made in my life in today’s post! I’m going to tell you the reasons I journal, show you my journal, and give you my best journaling tips. Let’s dive in!


Why I Journal

On May 18 this year, I made a choice. I was already planning on launching my blog on May 20th, the nine year anniversary of the tornado that changed my young life, so, after reading an inspirational magazine(don’t judge ok? Magnolia Journal is helpful) I decided to call the day my new year. Kaley’s New Year. You may already know the details of that from this post on my private blog (sorry if I don’t let you in; it’s private for a reason. Still, I might if you request it.) but one of the changes I decided to make was to start journaling.
So I did; on May 19th I was so excited I wrote an introduction and from May 20th on I’ve written an entry every day possible. I try to start each day with the date, a word of the day, and the time my first entry starts. Inside I list what needs done and, at the end of my day, I recap just a little and rate my day. Some days I’ve had insanely short entries and skipped several parts but I’ve tried my best to write one every day. I’ve only missed two days this far and I’m at over 50 pages.
But why do I journal? Because I need to be freely confined. I need a plan each day, but I also love to be creative and able to do whatever I feel like doing. I have certain things that need done, but I also try to have fun and chill time. I journal to remember, to mark my growth. I journal to process what’s happening to me and I journal to vent feelings and thoughts I just don’t need in my way. I journal to figure out why I’m doing what I’m doing and I journal to figure myself out. It’s been amazing.

A Peek in My Journal

Here’s a snippet of my journal…. It might not all make sense and it might be a little weird but it’s who I am. I like it. (Click on the pictures to see them better.)

So You Want To Journal?

  • Here are some things to keep in mind if you journal or want to start journaling:
  • Journaling isn’t hard! You don’t need to write five pages every day. Last night I wrote less than five sentences. That’s fine! If you need to skip a day, don’t beat yourself up. It’s okay.
  • You don’t need a fancy journal. I’m using a fairly small one that fits in my back pack by Soul Scripts, my favorite journal brand, but it was a gift. Any journal works fine!
  • Try and make a set time to journal each morning and evening if you can. It’s good to start the day with goals and end with reflection time. But if you only have ten minutes to journal a day and it’s at lunch time, that’s still fine!
  • If you didn’t notice, journaling is forgiving. Why? Because a book can’t talk back and it’s whole job is to help you learn and grow into a healthier, stronger, wiser person. It isn’t very healthy or wise to beat yourself up.
  • I love to start each entry with a word and its definition when possible because it gives me something to think about as I dive into my day.
  • I also love to end the day with a rating and a short bit about why I rated it that way. It shows me what I like and what I don’t like and I get to know myself even better.
  • A journal with blank spaces for page numbers is amazing because you can fill them in as you reach them. It’s so thrilling to realize, “hey! I’ve written twenty pages!”
  • Be honest with yourself. Some days aren’t good days and you don’t need to pretend they were. But often, bad days have some highlights. Don’t drop the good all together, but know that there’s a little light even in the rain and that it’s going to rain sometimes.
  • I took notes from a conference in my journal at one point and wrote twenty pages in two days. Your journal doesn’t just have to be for to-do lists and reflections. It holds anything and everything!
  • I try to bring my journal with me when I go places because sometimes you need to calm down even in public and a journal is a place for silent ranting. It’s also a continuous check-list with things you need to do and things you want to do, as well as dates of when things happened. It’s a great thing to have on hand at any time.
  • A journal is great inspiration and practice for authors, too! If you keep one, don’t slack on your writing skills because this is a place where you want to put words on a page daily. Make it worth it!

I hope this post was helpful! Do you journal? Do you want to try? What journals do you like? How do you journal? Let me know in the comments!

Summer Reading Challenges To Try

Hey, friends! Welcome or welcome back to Words! As we enter into the summer, people my age and younger have more time and are starting to think about what to do with it. Meanwhile adults see the fun kids are having and, even though most are working, embrace the nostalgia, fun, and sun this season brings. If you’re looking for reading challenges for the summer, here’s a few I came up with! I’m doing two of them. Let’s dive in!


Two Books a Month

You know that one friend or family member who always has a list of books you should read? And you know how you normally have a few books for them? This is the challenge for the both of you! For this challenge, you and a friend swap a list of six-eight books and, over the summer, you each read two a month. This really helps knock out a little of that TBR and forces you and your friend or family member to chose which books are really the highest priority. My sister and I are on our second summer of doing this!

The Sequoyah Master List

As some of you may know, this next year’s Sequoyah master lists are out. I’m planning on reading through the children’s list later this year. This list isn’t extremely long but it has several fresh books worth reading. I don’t know what’s on the teen or adult list, though; you may want to research the content of the books.

Out of Your Genre

If you spend most of your time in a certain genre, you may want to try something different for the summer. For this challenge you choose a genre you normally wouldn’t read and find a number of books in the genre. This doesn’t sound hard but it can be! I read certain books much slower than others.

Family Book Club

If you and your siblings are around the same age, a fun option could be a summer book club. Everyone would pick a book they’d like to read and over the summer everyone would have to read all the chosen books. If you wanted to make it harder you could allow everyone to chose two. I think this challenge could be extremely interesting and a cool way to get to know your siblings better, even if you’re busy or have different schedules.

Other’s Choice

If you don’t have the one friend needed for the two books a month challenge but would love to do it, that’s ok! You can ask multiple people to give you one must-read book and organize your reading the same way. Ask people you don’t talk to as much, such as someone online you know or a librarian. This way you get a lot of variety and fun surprises!

Through a Library Section

This one is the most ambitious challenge: most libraries are divided into sections and, a month or two ago, I decided I’d read through one. I chose the children’s section. Now, that doesn’t mean I’m reading every book in the section, but I’m slowly reading through every title and as many summaries as possible. Then I choose the ones that interest me most. This is more organized browsing and so much more in-depth. I’ve found several books I wouldn’t have normally seen.


If you’re looking for book recommendations for the summer, I’m working on my reading list page. You can find my favorites and recent reads, as well as short reviews and content warnings. I’m going to be updating it often. Note, it’s still in progress and started recently. I’m still working on it. If you have suggestions for me, you can comment or reach out through my contact page.

Thank you for reading! What challenges are you doing this summer? Are you going to try any of mine? Let me know in the comments!

Why Teens Should Write: An Introduction to This Blog

Hey, friends! Welcome or welcome back to Words! If you came over from one of the blog tour posts, I’m so happy you were intrigued! Thank you for checking out my blog! If you want to see more of the blog tour posts, I’ll be adding them as they’re written to the bottom of this post so you can read them all.

You may have figured out already or you may be confused: what is this blog about? What can you expect from me? This post is here to answer those questions and tell you even more! Let’s dive in.


What is this blog about?

This blog is about the passion I have for words and how you should use them. It’s about the many kinds of writing, the people affected by writing, and how to most affect them. But most importantly it’s about the power of a word. One single word can mean so much, and more can be stronger if woven correctly. This blog is to help people, especially teens, learn how to weave words. It isn’t just a boring thing nerds do; it’s powerful. Every successful adult has learned this. Look at marketing: it combines images and words to make you desire and remember a product or service. Look at politics: words are used to change minds, send a message, and speak a thought as clearly as possible. Look at the news: they use words to help us understand both what’s happening and their perspective on what’s happening. Everywhere you look, there are words. Spoken, written, or sung, they’re etched into your life. You might as well learn to use them. I primarily focus on books and writing, but expect posts on all kinds of ways to weave words. Any post you want, you can always ask for in a comment section or in the contact page. I love words and love reading them as much as writing them.


What will be posted about?

I hope to post about anything and everything words. It might sound silly, but it really is the theme. I will post about my writing, share my writing, teach how I write, talk about why I wrote, review books, adventure through more books, and brag about how proud I am of all the authors I know who are doing and will do amazing things (pssst! You can be one of them! If you want to talk about your project, you could reach out through my contact page! If your email doesn’t get lost in the massive heap of junk I get, I will gladly talk about writing with you). I also will host reviews on writing programs, share experiences from writing events, and let you guys in on my book writing process. As I write this, I’m getting ready to start a new project and I’ll likely do a series on that. Speaking of series, I launched a series on book writing on another blog that will be moved here. Hopefully you’ll enjoy and learn from reading my How I Write posts as much as I have writing them! Of course, once in a while I may drift off topic with a random post, but this blog will be all-in-all about words.


Why should teens specifically care about words?

This question seems somewhat silly to me, but it’s a genuine question worth answering. Teens should care about words because words are what shape them and those around them. If we pay attention to what words attract us we can safeguard ourselves from being persuaded. We can also learn how to help others see our perspective and give other teens and kids stories that are more realistic to them. Teens are the future, the next generation. If the next generation is lazy, this world will only get worse. And while that’s somewhat inevitable, why make it your fault when you can change lives and speak truth today? If you offer others a peek into your mind and listen to their hearts, we all understand each other better and appreciate each other more. Teens are also role models to kids, and we hold a different power over kids that adults don’t have as well as recent experience of everything they are facing or may soon face. Teens are the in-between group that can bring in the new as well as establishing the truth and relate to those who are learning where they’re going.


Does the author know what she’s doing?

*coughs* Short answer? Sort of. Long answer? *deep breath*

I have been creating worlds and characters since I could comprehend reality and pretend. Some kids have an imaginary friend. I had about seven. Some kids play in the real world or a show or book’s world. I lived in Pretend Land where I was, on occasion, the queen and/or a citizen. When I wasn’t creating, my mom and I were reading. My amazing mother quit her job when I was born to raise me and we talked, read, and played all day everyday for a good amount of my child hood.

I learned to read when I was about six. I was reading Junie B. Jones before I entered first grade and I was reading at a sixth grade reading level in second grade. I started writing books not long after I started reading them, and I finally finished writing a full length book when I was twelve. After multiple frustrating drafts, two things happened: I joined the Young Writers Workshop and I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time. These two things shook the foundations of writing as I knew it and before I knew it I’d written 53,000 words, from idea to revising, in less than half a year. While I didn’t win NaNoWriMo that time, I grew in leaps and bounds and discovered that I can actually write words in large amounts quickly, and not only quickly but better than I had ever written before. This discovery was amazing, exciting, and changed my view toward so many things that I want to share all that I learned with you.

Thank you for visiting my site and thank you for reading! If you have any more questions or a post you want to see, go ahead and leave a comment or contact me. Hit that follow button if you want to see more or check out my blog for my previous posts. I hope to see you next time!


Posts from the blog tour:

Q&A and Giveaway Results – Sketch Scribble Scribe

Character Conversation – I Have 12% of a Plan

Bookish Would You Rather – Rambling Reviews

Why Words Matter (Guest Post) – Maggie’s Doodles

Bookish Q&A – A Curly Sue’s Ramblings

Interview About Writing – Jenna Terese

Interview About Writing – The Homeschooled Girl

Plotting a Character’s Life – Teen Writers Nook

Writing Health and Mental Health Problems – Daughter of the Light

Writing Villain Motivation – Pen & Ink

A Fantasy Interview – Above the Clouds

A Harry Potter Debate – Sword of the Penmaiden

Words – Random Specific Thoughts

How I Write: My Journey + Why I Write

Hello there! Welcome or welcome back to Words! This post is the first of many about How I Write. Every author writes slightly differently, but most authors start out feeling at least a little lost, hopeful, and/or curious. Writing is a safari, and they don’t really know the jungle yet. Of course, that’s ok, and you have to explore on your own. But do you want to come face to face with a lion because you didn’t know they were there? I’m guessing the answer is no. That’s why those of us who have been through the vicious attacks of the writer’s journey are here to help. This post is my story.

My Writer’s Journey

I’ve told stories, living in another world, for as long as I can remember. When I was little, the few moments when I wasn’t creating I was listening to my mom read stories. My world wasn’t really Earth when I was little; it was Pretend Land. And as I got older… well, I’ll explain that later. Anyway, I’ve created stories forever. I learned to read in kindergarten, getting from picture books to Junie B. Jones by the end of the year. Then, when I was in 1st grade, I discovered writing.

I don’t remember much about that time, but I do remember some of my first stories: a story suspiciously reminiscent of Clifford Picks Apples, a stack of index cards taped into a story I never wrote about a witch, a story about a girl who moves a lot titled “Houses,” and one based on a writing prompt about waking up as the president of the United States. Needless to say, they weren’t really unique. But that’s what new writers do: they imitate, and I did it quite decently. Then in 2nd grade my teacher introduced me to reports and poetry. I loved them both, and I’m so thankful for that year even though I didn’t love my teacher. Also in 2nd grade, I reached a 6th-grade reading level. I read ALL the time, which most authors would tell you is the best way to learn to write. 

My sisters and I started playing with AG dolls and with legos when I was about 8-9. Both things revolutionized how I created. I could build any place I wanted with legos, and with dolls, I could watch “characters” interact. I wrote newspapers for our stuffed animals and for our dolls. I began writing small books for the dolls and ended up creating a short series of mysteries without almost no plot. But I was noticing the key elements of stories more. In 5th grade I wrote poetry and essays for school and I started a blog on The Little Novelist.

Also in 5th grade, I created a way to pretend without toys and to write without paper. I started to act out scenes in my room, playing multiple characters. It started with Melody Hardy, the Hardy Boys’ little sister that I made up one night when I finished a Hardy Boys mystery that I didn’t want to end. Then it expanded to adding characters to all of my favorite books. And then I added to Melody’s world, suddenly making it my own. I took Frank, Joe, their parents, and their aunt and totally made them my own, giving them different stories. But they weren’t even the focus anymore. A group of girls I called V Crew was. Their names were Victoria, Virginia, Viola, and Vanessa (quite creative indeed and totally not straight out of the girl V names section of my baby name book I’d just gotten). They grew, and soon I’d reached about 50 characters in their world. I would go through phases of creating stories, focusing on one character for a period of time, then moving to another. But soon V Crew and the Hardys were overwhelming. So I changed worlds. Since then, I think I’m on my 5th world of my own. And yes. I still act out stories in my room like a child. But the way I see it, I’m an actress/playwright in hiding. And yes I’m weird but weird with a purpose. Besides, that’s not what matters. What matters is that as my characters grew, I grew. I learned what makes characters seem believable. I learned how to create dialogue.

Somewhere within there, I wrote an article about my tornado story (more on that some other time) that was published in Clubhouse Magazine when I was 12. Then I wrote The Pony Revenge, my first finished story, and Universe, my first full book. The Pony Revenge made me think I could actually write stories, and Universe made me think I could actually write books. Since then, I’ve never looked back. I have created an estimated 300 characters in total since I was 9. can. I know it. And that’s what makes me come back. But why do I write? Why do I tell stories?

Why I Write

I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t caught up in some story in my brain. I write because it takes me out of reality for a moment. I write because it helps me process things. I write because it can speak my passion to more than just me. I write because, in teaching others, I learn. I’ve figured out so many important lessons from books and creating worlds in my room. Words are daggers. They can have many kinds of blades, and they pierce the heart only when used properly, with good aim and a strong hand. You have to judge, based on circumstances, which daggers to use and how to throw it (You’ll probably hear me mention this multiple times, although I’ll try to find unique ways to convince you too). If I can artfully arrange my weapons so that they have the most effect, changing a life, then I want to take that chance. So I’m learning to do that. And I’m here to teach you. 

As I dive into this blog and grow, I hope that you’ll join me. And as we both learn more about words and the power they have, I’d like to say that both of us will change. This place will be a community of growth. You may have read about mushrooms in biology or you might not have. But my favorite this about mushrooms is that they’re the perfect picture of a strong, growing community: their root systems, the way the get nutrients to grow, intertwine to provide for each other and plants around them. They share what they gain so that they all benefit. That’s my vision for this blog, and I hope you’ll see it too.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed my story and maybe even learned something. Do you have any questions? What do you hope to learn from this blog? Let me know in the comments!