NaNoWriMo: It’s not you, it’s me!

IMG_6170Oh, NaNo! I had such high hopes for us together, but I promise, it’s not you. It’s me.

It’s only day two of NaNoWriMo, and I’m already wayyy behind. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing everyone else’s progress reports, encouraging posts, and check-ins… But for me? Well. I really don’t have any progress to report!

I said from the beginning that I was only “loosely committing” to NaNoWriMo, but it’s hard not to feel discouraged when I haven’t put any words down on paper. But you know what? I physically can’t put any words down on paper right now.

Before I go on, I guess I should probably explain to you all just exactly WHAT #NaNoWriMo is. NaNo or NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, which happens EVERY year in the month of November. People all over the world commit to writing an entire novel in a month. Sounds great in theory, right? Yeah. That’s about where it ends. Once you’ve signed up for NaNo, you’ve signed up for a whole month of stress, sleep deprivation, and eye strain from staring at the blinking cursor for far too many hours in a row.

Okay, I’m probably over exaggerating a little bit. NaNo is a great thing! I love that so many people love books and writing so much that we’ve dedicated an entire month to it! And I love how this event really brings the writing community together… For reals! There’s an entire official website for NaNo where all of the NaNo participants to chat, connect, and track their progress until they “win” (winning for most people means writing 50,000 words in thirty days) at the end of the month! People have even created Facebook groups for a similar purpose. Others do live videos on platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc. It’s a big deal! And like I already said, I love it!

But I also said earlier, right now, I currently can’t put any words down. Yes, I’m aware, you’re reading a blog post full of words, but these words are… More like a therapeutic journal for me than anything else. It’s easy for me to write here because I know I’m writing to all of you! My fellow book-loving, writer friends! You guys understand me and I don’t have to worry about structure here, meeting a word count, or whether or not I’m using the right tense verb for an action or the appropriate dialogue tags… Ah, the writer’s life.

The reason I’m having such a hard time is that I’ve been SO BUSY. If you follow me on Instagram you probably know from my stories that I spent all of last week in California for some family things. I went to a celebration of life for my grandma who passed earlier this year, I spent a lot of time with my cousins, parents, and loved ones, and I was otherwise just busy all of that week! I came back the day before Halloween, and I could already tell that all of the flying and running around had gotten to me. The next day was Halloween, which is a whole sugar rush of a different kind of craziness, and Piper (my toy Australian Shepherd) just started obedience school so training her has become kind of a priority. Still think I’m not busy? I’ve also got college work that just needs to be done, house stuff to take care of, and of course time that is reserved to be spent with my wonderful husband who loves me and supports me in everything I do and I couldn’t do any of it without him.

IMG_6198

So, I’m busy. You get the picture right? Well, all of that business has caught up to me and now I have an awful head cold. I guess you could say I’m literally not in the “head-space” for writing! My eyelids feel like the way about five million pounds and when I’m not sniffling, I’m sneezing! The thought of trying to write something for my WIP right now is just… too much.

So, these first few days of NaNoWriMo, I’ve been taking it easy. I told myself when I committed to this that it would be low-key, but it’s still difficult to see everyone else “running” this marathon so to speak, and me just sitting on my couch curled up under a blanket.

An AuthorTuber that I love recently did a video. Actually, she’s doing an entire NaNoWriMo series of videos on her YouTube channel, where she talks about comparison. When it’s NaNoWriMo, and everyone you know is posting how today they wrote thousands and thousands of words, and you’ve barely written a hundred, it’s easy to be discouraged. Yes, NaNo is a great opportunity to write 50,000 words. But more importantly? NaNo is just an opportunity to write! Something, anything. The whole point of this month is to celebrate writing, not to stress yourself out over making a word count. Even though I’ve been saying that all along I still need to remind myself.

Here is Bethany Atazadeh’s video (the one that I mentioned above) about comparison and getting discouraged during NaNoWriMo:

Actually, here is my own video that I also did recently sort of tackling the same topic:

I guess I need to take a bit of my own medicine! LOL!

Basically, I just wanted to send a message to everyone participating in NaNo. If you didn’t write 2k today, if you didn’t write 2k yesterday, and you don’t think you’ll write 2k tomorrow, that’s okay! That doesn’t mean you’re failing at ANYTHING. You are still an author. You are still a writer. Your word count does not determine your validation. Use this month for what it’s meant to be used for! Celebrating your love of writing! Not stressing yourself out so much to the point where you hate writing with the fiery burning passion of a thousand suns.

I’m still going to try to write this month! I’m still going to keep encouraging all my other friends who are also participating in NaNo! But I’m also going to stop when I want to stop, not push myself if I just don’t have it in me, and give myself a break when I need one. Because my success is not defined by a little digitized number at the bottom left hand corner of my screen. Sure, I want to write 50k, but at the end of the day, whatever I have written is still a success! Even if it was only ten words, that’s still winning in my book! And for all of you participating in NaNo as well, remember that you are working at your own pace. Nobody’s life is the same as your life! Nobody’s schedule is the same as yours! Don’t compare, just enjoy the ride and enjoy the process.

(And maybe spend a lot of time in December editing! Haha!)

Until my next post,

Full Color Signature

 

Fall Favorites – 2018!

A few of my favorite things from this Fall, the best of them all! Books, candles, and ALL of the things!!!

IMG_7344 There are so many things to love about this season and time of year. Now, hear me out, I know that this is completely insane. Fall is what really? A time where pretty much all plant life dies and decays by turning into various shades of red, orange, and brown until ultimately the leaves wither into nothingness in preparation for the coming harshness of winter. Still, there’s nothing more magical than the latter months of the year in my opinion. As crazy as it sounds, fall to me means rebirth and rejuvenation! Those darkening leaves and cool breezes? I find them beautiful.

Maybe it’s because of my allergies that I associate springtime with a general feeling of death, but we’ll save that for another post!

As you can see, I LOVE fall. Or have you not gotten that message yet? Here are a few of the things that have been making my fall-time even more beautiful!

  1. Karen Witemeyer Books – Every fall, I normally settle in with my blankets, a candle, and the entire When Calls the Heart collection (AKA, the Canadian West series). Something about Canada and historical fiction just screams fall to me. While I haven’t gotten around to my annual reread of When Calls the Heart, Karen Witemeyer’s books have been a great alternative for filling all of my historical fiction needs!
  2. Shelter of the Most High by Connilyn Cossette – One of my favorite things about this fall has been being apart of the launch team for this book, getting to read it and promote it! It’s a fantastic read and I’d recommend it to anyone! Conni is, and probably always will be, a Biblical fiction queen!
  3. CANDLES – Ok, we’re book nerds. We love reading. But you know what makes reading instantly better? Every. single. time.??? Reading near an open flame. A cozy candle, bonus points if it’s pumpkin or cinnamon scented, makes reading all the more enjoyable during these cold, rainy evenings. Just make sure you read a safe distance away from your candle. I shouldn’t have to say this, but JUST IN CASE, this is your friendly reminder that books are made of paper, and they can and WILL burn if they come into too close of contact with fire!!!
  4. WRITING – True. I write all of the time. But there’s something about falling back into a chair, staring pensively out the window watching the storms ensue, and tapping a pencil on the crisp, blank pages of a notebook. In those moments, we authors have ultimate power.

Of course, there’s more. Isn’t there always more? Be sure to watch my Fall Favorites YouTube video on my channel for even more wonderfully fall-ish recommendations! Tis the season to be… fall-y? Whatever. Just watch the video! And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss a single update or bookish review/recommendation! Until then,

Full Color Signature

Christian Author Tag || Questions

ImageUrl_1240411783_8658

Hey all! Recently, Lizzy Murphy and I connected on Twitter. I LOVE meeting fellow readers and writers who also share my passion for God and His word, so when she asked if I would be interested in collaborating on our YouTube channels, it was a no brainier!

I think one of the reasons that this tag appeals to me so much, is because I’ve never seen anything like it before. There a lot of author tags, writing tags, and Christian tags… As a Christian fiction writer, I don’t fit into either category. I’m a little bit of both!

So why not have a tag just for people like me and Lizzy? Hence *dramatic music* THE CHRISTIAN AUTHOR TAG!!!

We both posted the videos to our YT channels today, so you can go and check out all of our answers and how we did the tag. While we both tagged some people to join us in the fun, I thought I’d post the questions here just in case one of you wanted to do the tag too!!!

I think it’s a great way for us writers to connect and I hope to meet lots of Christian fiction authors/Christian authors through this tag! Here are the questions:

  1. What does it mean to you to write Christian fiction?
  2. What is your book about?
  3. What are some books from Christian authors you’ve read?
  4. Did you know you wanted to write Christian fiction? 
  5. How would you say your writing affects your relationship with the Lord and how you view the Bible?
  6. Is there a “sense of responsibility” when it comes to writing Christian Fiction, to be faithful to the message of Christianity? Do you see it as being a stressful or difficult part of writing, or as an great opportunity to share God’s love?
  7. What makes Christian Fiction different from other genres? 
  8. How is it different from writing regular fiction, Christian fiction?
  9. What are some challenges to writing Christian Fiction (that might not be challenges for writing in another genre)? 
  10. Is it harder to write Christian fiction
  11. When strangers ask you what you write, is it ever difficult to explain Christian fiction? Do you struggle to share your faith in these situations.

If you do this tag, please let me know! I would love to watch your video, get to know you, and hear more about your books! Anyways, until next time,

Full Color Signature

What It’s Like to Be On A Book Launch Team

Last week was SUCH an exciting week for me. There was so much anticipation and excitement that had built up for that moment. Not only was I launching a website AND blog! I was also gearing up for the launch of Roma Downey’s book: Box of Butterflies: Discovering the Unexpected Blessings All Around Us.
 
For those of you who don’t know, I had the opportunity to be a member of the launch team for this book. If you’re not aware of what that means, stick around, because I’m about to lay the entire process out for you and what my experience was while I helped promote this wonderful book!
 
Ok, so this story begins in mid-January. I follow Roma Downey on Instagram, so I was one of the first people to see her post about joining her launch team. The #linkinbio led me to an experience that I will NEVER forget.
 
The instructions in her post led me to a website with a simple application and questionnaire. Being an English/Writing major and a theology minor, I thought it might be a great opportunity to experience an aspect of my field, share a part of my faith, and celebrate Roma Downey. I’m a long time fan of Downey, and all of her productions including The Bible, Son of God, and Touched by an Angel.
 
In the application I wrote about my experience blogging about books via Instagram, my love for reading, my passion for my faith, and about my personal experience having met Roma Downey in 2011 (In keeping with the Irish theme, I was a wee lass back then!), growing up watching her on television, and how her work impacted me henceforth.
 
I hit submit, not expecting much. I figured it was an internet thing, probably chosen completely at random. Still, better to have tried than not to have tried at all.
 
You can imagine my surprise when an e-mail landed in my inbox, alerting me that I had been selected! I was so happy and excited! I’d never been “selected” for anything like this before so the whole process was new and wonderful!
 
At that point, all of the group members were given the link to a private Facebook group where we would interact, get to know each other, and discuss the book. This was one of my favorite parts! I “met” or rather, got in touch with so many different people from all over the world. What was especially nice about this forum was that because it was for the launch of a faith-centered book, many of the members were also faith-focused! It became more than a group, it also became a prayer chain and a place of encouragement. Quotes from Roma Downey’s book were posted side by side with Bible verses and lovely pictures of butterflies, which are a central theme for the book.
 
It took a while for the book to get out to us, but in the meantime we were all sent a handful of promotional images to share across all of our social media platforms, whether it was a blog, a FB page, an Instagram account, your Snapchat story, or Twitter. We were told to build the hype and share our excitement, which is exactly what we did.
 
When we did get our copies of the book, it came in the form of a digital file sent to our e-mail accounts. Our only instructions were to read the book as soon as possible and to post an honest review on any and/or all of our social media accounts, as well as sites like Amazon and Goodreads if possible (BTW, you can add me on Goodreads HERE).
 
I don’t know about everyone else, but I flew through the book. It was such a quick read for me, and it had so much inspiring faith content. Trust me, by the time you close the back cover, you’ll have wisdom in your head and Jesus on your heart for DAYS “when you walk down the road!” 😀
 
You can click around my blog to read my full review of Box of Butterflies: Discovering the Unexpected Blessings All Around Us by Roma Downey.
 
After that, we continued to receive updates from the Team Manager. We were continually sent posts and links to content they wanted us to share and promote, but besides that, we were free to work and review at our own pace. When we did review the book, we always shared the link to our review on the Facebook group’s page.
 
I was so surprised at how many creative people were apart of the team. Some people wrote or shared poems that made them think of the message written in Downey’s book, others made videos about the book, and some people (like me) took or shared stylized pictures! Everyone was working in their own way to create something that would make our collective effort worthwhile. TEAMWORK IS SO MUCH FUN!
 
And finally, the launch day! The day that we’d all been waiting for.
 
It was honestly my honor and privilege to be a member of the team, and it was an experience I enjoyed immensely. I hope to be a part of many more teams in the future, and maybe coordinate some of my own 😉 You never know folks!
 
You can watch my spoken review of Box of Butterflies here:
 
 
And my NEW YOUTUBE VIDEO about this same topic here:
 
If you liked this post, I would love it if you would subscribe today so we can always stay in touch and continue to discuss all things reading, writing, and living. Also, if you haven’t already, please order a copy of Box of Butterflies: Discovering the Unexpected Blessings All Around Us. This book is so lovely, and I know you won’t regret the purchase! Thanks for stopping by today!

Welcome to my Blog!

WOW. I can’t believe that this is happening. This website is the result of months (maybe even years!) of hard work. Sometimes it was stressful, sometimes I didn’t believe in myself, and sometimes I was just plain scared of all the what-ifs.
  1. What-if everyone in the universe hates my writing?
  2. What-if my content isn’t good enough?
  3. What-if I’ve chosen the wrong career and in thirty years I’ll wind up going through the worst mid-life crisis known to mankind???
Okay, okay. I know. Much of that is abstract, unrealistic, and even a bit silly. But hey, I’m a real person with real, crazy thoughts! What can I say? I have to remind myself every day:
Breathe! Relax! Just be yourself! I know that it’s hard and scary and overwhelming and all that advice you’ve been getting feels artificial and fake – STOP! You just have to take a leap of faith and know that whatever happens, happens. In the end, you did the best that you could with what you were given and the time that you had. Find your joy and fulfillment in that, and everything else will fall into place around you. Learn contentment, learn peace, learn joy.
Maybe this is what you needed to hear. Maybe this is what you’re feeling right now. If it is, then this is the right blog for you. I’m a college girl with big dreams, pursuing a fulfilling creative lifestyle.
 
A little bit about me: I grew up in California, surrounded by Hollywood-sized dreams and visions of red carpets. They dazzled me. I knew that as an adult I would not be happy sitting behind a desk punching numbers unless they were the number of exciting projects that I would get to create each month, no, week!
 
Flash forward several years and I’d tried it all. Art? I dabbled in acrylics, soft pastels, pencil sketching, and even some digital art. Music? I can play piano pretty well (better if I had a bit more practice), the ukulele became an extension of my arm, I have a pretty basic grasp of the guitar, and I was involved in several choirs. Acting? Musial theatre, stage plays, monologues, improvisation, short films, and a billion others attempts at “making it big.” I was told that I “sparkled” whenever I did these things. That my eyes just lit up. I couldn’t see this sparkle for myself, but I knew what it felt like. It felt like joy. To create something, for me, was synonymous with joy.
 
Finally, I settled on writing. Because as a girl who wants to live a thousand lives, but only gets one, what do you do? You live them, through your words.
 
I believe that God creates us in His image and plants unique gifts in all of us, to be used for His glory. God himself is known as the Creator, and I think that He delights in planting a little bit of that creative gift inside each of His creations, you and me included.
 
I love to read and write stories, particularly historical fiction. I love a story with a good adventure and just hint of that chick-flick romance. Most importantly, I love a story that inspires me and motivates me. As a person of faith, that means seeking out all of the best in Christian fiction.
 
So I went to college with a suitcase full of ideas. I also became engaged and married to my high school sweetheart in the process. Is this a fairytale or what?!
 
What did I do when I realized that Christian Fiction industry was something that I wanted to be a part of for the rest of my life? I began an Instagram account @jennavanmourik that was dedicated to not only the great reads in my life, but the great moments. Still, that wasn’t enough. Hence, my brand new blog!
 
My niche is books and writing. What’s yours? I’d love to get to know you and be a part of your creative journey, whatever it is. If you’d like, leave a comment on this post and subscribe. This is just the beginning of my journey, but it could be the start of yours too.