November 2019 – Month in Review

My rule these days is keeping things short and sweet. It was November. It’s now December. I’m cold. I can’t believe the year is almost over and if one more person talks about it being the end of the decade I’m going to collapse on the floor and have an existential crisis.

So anyway, let’s focus on November for right now, because that seems slightly less threatening than focusing on December.

This month, I blogged about:

Also, you can watch my 1SE compilation for November 2019 via Google Drive this month. I don’t understand all of the COPPA stuff happening with YouTube, and while I don’t think it’s as big a deal as people are making it out to be, I want to wait until I understand everything before uploading anything else there. But here’s the video!

As for the rest of the month…

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Writer’s Life: A Year of Writing (2019)

With the amount of writing that I’ve been doing over the past year, I probably would’ve murdered a whole forest with the amount of paper I would have used, and that would be a shame. Fortunately, we live in a digital age, and so my projects live on in Scrivener files and Evernote notes, and I can continue looking out my bedroom window at trees.

I don’t say that to sound all proud or anything. Yeah, I did write a lot this year, but if we’re being honest, a lot of that writing was experimental, nothing that actually went anywhere. A lot of it was also writing for this blog, so I’ll leave you to judge the quality of that (don’t tell me, I’d like to live in my ignorance on this one). Oh, and there was a lot of academic writing too, which… well, again, I guess it’s more for my professor to decide whether it was good or not.

All this to say, looking back over the past year, I think my writing and I have had a pretty great 2019! I can see the ways that I’ve grown as a writer, honing my voice and experimenting with new genres. I’ve expanded my influences too by discovering new favorite books, shows, and other stories in a lot of different mediums. In light of it being the end of the year, I wanted to look back through what I’ve done as a writer this year, and look ahead to what 2020 might have in store for me!

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How to Make Me Read Your Book | 6 Story Tropes I Live For

Let’s saw we go to an ice cream parlor. My treat. I order my sundae, which is chocolate ice cream with peanut butter sauce, cookie dough chunks, whipped topping and rainbow sprinkles (no cherry). You open your mouth to order yours, but I cut you off and say, “We’ll both have the same thing.”

“But Maggie,” you protest. “I don’t like chocolate ice cream. And I’m allergic to peanuts! I’d much rather have vanilla ice cream with fudge and oreos on top!”

“Well, you’re wrong. My sundae is the best kind of sundae, so you’ll just have to learn to like it,” I say.

Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? Aside from the fact that my sundae would probably lead to me having a heart attack someday soon, it’s not gross or detestable. Neither is yours. Neither sundae is right or wrong, we just have different tastes in ice cream and its toppings, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Sometimes though, I think we get a certain idea about stories – we think that they have to be a certain way, and anything that doesn’t fit that mold is morally reprehensible. Granted, there are a few things that any story should have: your characters should be well-rounded and the plot should be coherent. Just as you wouldn’t put pickles on your strawberry ice cream, you wouldn’t write a story without those important elements.

But from there, who’s to say what the rules are? All audiences have different tastes when it comes to character and story tropes, so it’s just a matter of figuring out which ones work and hoping that the right person finds your story.

I try to keep an open mind when it comes to stories, but if I’m being honest, there are a few tropes that just get me, you know? Like, if I see one of those tropes in a story, and it’s being done well, it’s safe to say I’m hooked. I’ve compiled a list of a few of my favorites today – maybe you’ll agree, maybe you’ll disagree, but hey, that’s the fun of it!

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Sunshine Blogger Award: The Sequel

Approximately a million years ago (actually, more like three years ago), I was tagged in the Sunshine Blogger Award by my dear book blogger friend Paige Turner. More recently, I’ve been tagged again by The Story Sponge! I figured we were due for another round of random questions, and they had some pretty great ones, so that’s what I’ll be participating in today.

Since it’s been quite a while since the last time I did this, here are the rules:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog so others can find them. (Did that above, but in case you missed it – thanks to The Story Sponge for nominating me!)
  2. List the rules and display an award logo on your blog post.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  4. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and notify them by commenting on any of their posts.
  5. Ask the nominees 11 new questions.

Like I said, i got asked some pretty interesting questions, so without further ado, here we go!

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Climbing My Mountain | Thoughts on Celeste

A year ago, in the midst of final exams and papers, I gave myself a few hours off to watch The Game Awards, the Oscars of the video game world (but with less gowns and more t-shirts). I remember that night, huddled on my bed in my dorm room, seeing Celeste win the Best Independent Game and Games for Impact awards. I was intrigued, because the Games for Impact Award generally goes to games focused on emotional storytelling and/or social issues. Not only that, but the developer, Matt Thorson, spoke about mental illness in his acceptance speech. I kept the game in the back of my mind.

5 Celeste 2

Later that month, I was visiting family in North Carolina, and saw that my cousin was playing Celeste. I learned then that Celeste is a platforming game that relies on quick reflexes and precision to make it from one “room” to the next. I really wanted to give it a try, because the music was catchy and the retro graphics were cute, but I’m horrible at platformers. Even Super Mario games with all of their fail-safes are a challenge for me. I had a feeling that Celeste would be a frustrating waste of money for me, so I shelved the idea of ever playing it.

That is, until the Epic Games Store gave it away for free this year. Knowing it was considered one of the best games of 2018, I “bought” it and decided to give it a whirl when I was itching for a new game to play.

As I suspected, I sucked at it. In the first chapter (or “level”) alone, I died hundreds of times. I would die hundreds more in the chapters to come. But what really drew me in to Celeste was its story and main character, Madeline. I found myself identifying with Madeline a lot, and in a way, her quest to reach the summit of Celeste Mountain became my quest too.

5 Celeste 5
Madeline begins her quest to reach the summit of Celeste Mountain.

 

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Writer’s Life: Senior Seminar Progress

If you see a scattered pile of computer paper and hear muffled noises coming from underneath it, I promise it’s not haunted. It’s just one of us senior writing students, buried underneath our overwhelming major projects.

Truth be told, my senior seminar project is actually going pretty well. I’m on track in terms of my word count, and it seems like the story is moving along at a nice pace. I covered what my major project is about in my last Writer’s Life post, but here’s a quick recap: I’m writing an “alternate history” novel set in 1968. It features two young women (a college student and a journalist) as they investigate several U.S. soldiers who have mysteriously disappeared in their home country.

As of this writing, I’m at 26,783 words just over halfway to my word count goal 50,000. I’m also a little more than halfway to my deadline of November 30 (remember, I started mid-October). In other words, things are right on track and as long as nothing wild happens (knock on wood), I should reach my goal no problem.

Big-picture-wise, it looks like things have been smooth sailing, but this project has been more complicated than that. I’ve fallen behind a few times, though I always manage to recover within a few days. Fortunately, I’ve had a lot of great help – I have a writing program that keeps me organize, fellow writer who encourage me, and music that keeps me motivated.

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October 2019 – Month In Review

Every month I think, “surely this month will be less busy than the previous month” and every month I am proven wrong, but at least I’m consistent.

All that to say, there’s a lot I want to talk about, so I won’t waste any time getting to the important stuff! First off, this month, I blogged about:

And here’s my 1 Second Everyday compilation from October!

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Time-Traveling Back to 1968 | The Language of Worlds Linkup #8

Today, I’m participating in the Language of Worlds linkup, hosted by Liv K. Fisher. If you’re unfamiliar with the linkup, every two months Liv posts 10 questions for bloggers to answer about their writing projects, characters, or the writing life in general. It’s great for getting to know your story better and connecting with other bloggers, so go check it out! It’s open to anyone.

Not long ago, I shared that I’m working on a new writing project for my senior capstone class, an “alternate history” story set in 1968. You can read more about it here, but today, I’m going to be talking about one of my main characters, Valerie “Val” Harris.

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The Hardest Photo I Ever Took

My birthday is in May, conveniently placed around final exams. Because of that, I don’t often get the chance to do many exciting things to celebrate – maybe catch a movie, grab a meal in the dining hall with some friends, but that’s about it. It’s not as bad as it sounds, actually. I enjoy those small moments and the little things that make birthdays special.

My 20th birthday was on a Saturday, and so I met some of my friends for lunch on campus. It was a beautiful day – the sun was out, the weather was warmer, everything I could’ve asked for. As we were leaving the dining hall to go back to our dorms, we went down a sidewalk that was lined with blossoming trees. One of my friends stopped and asked, “Maggie, can I take your picture in front of these?”

3 photo a
Taken on my 20th birthday: May 5, 2018.

I take my photo once in a blue moon. I’m not really camera shy, I just prefer to be the one behind the lens rather than in front of it. But it was my birthday after all, and the trees really did look fantastic, so I walked over to them and smiled.

I didn’t think much of it at the time, but as I look back at this photo and the good memories it holds for me, I realized that if I took a photo like this five years earlier, I would’ve hated it.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that I, like nearly every other teenage girl at some point in her life, felt insecure about my appearance. A lot of us go through that in our middle school and high school years, and despite the fact that I was cyberschooled, I didn’t get a pass.

I’m going to be blunt in this post. Please don’t take that as self-deprecation or looking for pity. I just find it easiest to write this if I’m being completely honest.

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Writer’s Life: Senior Seminar Ideas & Inspiration

It was a dark and stormy night. A young woman sat at her desk, a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The light from her laptop reflected off of her glasses as she frantically typed away at her keyboard, desperate to meet her word goal. Her workshop is counting on her, she reminded herself. And so is her grade point average.

If that’s not a glimpse of my past, then it’s definitely a prophecy about my future.

This semester, I’m taking a “senior writing seminar” course and our big assignment is to plan and complete some type of writing project. For me, I’m plotting out and writing 50,000 words of a novel. In addition to fiction, I know there are also students writing literary non-fiction and graphic novels.

So yeah. Lots of pretty neat stuff is happening in Writing Seminar.

I’m sure you’re thinking by now, “Maggie, what is YOUR project about? We’re all dying to know!” Or maybe you’re not thinking that, which I understand. But if you actually are dying to know about my project, keep reading!

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