Back in Estherville + Life News

Hi everyone, sorry for my lack of posting the past few days. I've been sick with some viral thing and allergies, but finally I'm starting to feel better! I am up with my grandparents now—YAY—and so I should be able to write a lot more now. We put the finishing touches on my room before I left, and I hope to take some more pics with my Instax camera this week to add to these new lights I got!

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And since I was sick, that meant I had plenty of time to break in my new mattress THAT I LOVE!!! It's also so much higher up than my old one, which I really like.

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We met my grandparents in our typical spot (read my whole post on spending time with them and being in their town here) and got the usual pictures!

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I always love the car rides up getting to talk with my mom. Lately we've been talking a lot about college and my options there. I love talking about that because I find it fun to think about, and I don't think it's too early to start figuring out what it is I want in a college or major. And speaking of which, the other day I had an orthodontics appointment where we look at my annual pictures and x-rays of my jaw and teeth. I have the worst possible teeth and jaw ever—clearly, if you've ever seen my pictures. And unlike just about everyone my age, I haven't been able to get my braces on (or off, which many my age are already getting off). We've had to wait for so long because my jaw has kept growing, and so of course they didn't want to start anything with braces or whatever only to have it grow more and then need to redo things. But, and we expected this, it looks like I'll be needing jaw surgery.

We've heard about this potentiality since the beginning. When you have a jaw as bad as mine, it's probably inevitable. But my orthodontist was so sweet and assuring, promising that we could work with whatever I decide. I think that I am going to get the surgery done, though. The way they have described everything sounds like without me getting the surgery, getting braces could do something with my bites, resulting in me looking really weird without the surgery. I just hope getting the surgery doesn't make me look uglier, but that's why she explained that we could go meet with the surgeons, who are down in Iowa City. She said they're really good and the ones they collaborate with, which I can believe because Iowa City has a good reputation in the medical field. I go meet the surgeons where they'll examine me and give us more information, and then there would be more talking with my doctors after that. She said that more than likely they won't even take me for surgery until I'm 18, so it would be awhile, but then they could finally start working on my teeth.

It wasn't the ideal news. I was hoping to avoid surgery, especially since 18 is an inconvenient age to have it considering you're a freshman in college, but there are ways to schedule it in, like the summer before or after. To be honest, I think it will be kind of fun getting to go down to Iowa City to meet the surgeons, especially since the building is on campus, a college I've been considered (it is known as the "writing university"). I've never been on campus or to Iowa City, so that should be fun. Also, my orthodontist told me that they have cute residents and interns there so...

#WorthIt.

Okay, well, I am going to blog deeper posts in the coming days, like my letter to my future husband in which I can warn him about his competition in Iowa City I guess ;) So read the first one here (from 3 years ago...)! What have you all been up to? Has anyone ever had jaw surgery before?! I'll be on a liquid diet for one month... I can't imagine how that is going to go!

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That Time I Decided to Rewrite My First Novel....

I can remember the day I started writing my first book. It was someday in the spring, 2014. I was sitting at my usual fave spot at our kitchen table, right next to the window, which had revealed a nice spring day (I think, haha, but I was writing about spring that day because I felt inspired to do so, so I'm guessing it was). I remember thinking the book I'd been writing at the start of entering fifth grade, so the previous fall, wasn't really going anywhere. It was basically me processing my thoughts about entering middle school. It had some good lessons, but I just knew I could do better. And there was this one idea that I'd wrote down as I was writing this fifth grade story that never left my mind. It was a deep idea, one that I was a little intimidated to write about because truthfully, I didn't know if I could do it, if I even knew what to say. But it was a thrilling idea, and I couldn't wait to finish my fifth grade story to begin it.

But that day . . . I don't know. Something clicked. It was like God was laying on my heart the green light to go on from my fifth grade story. That was an excellent start, and I couldn't believe I'd actually written 30,000 words on it. But there was a lot on my heart, a lot God had taught me about what it means to surrender your life to Him since I didn't truly do that until the summer of 2013.

There were three things about this idea I liked and one also kind of scared me:

  • One. It would contain so many of my childhood memories. The setting was in one of the most special places to me, a place where I've learned what love and faith is. A place where I'd truly grown up so much, both physically and spiritually. I couldn't wait to dive into those things.

  • Two. I wouldn't get bored with the story. I get bored easily when writing my stories. Then again, I was only just newly eleven years old when I started, so I'm sure I did bore easily. But not this idea. I don't remember how this idea came to me, actually, I think I was reading book summaries of authors I like, and in a rush I just got my own idea. But the idea was full of drama and action and, more importantly, packed with plenty of opportunities for themes and life lessons.

  • Three. I was excited for this aspect, but I was also kind of freaked out to tackle this: the themes this story would have. As I mentioned above, this was a deep story idea. Really deep. I don't want to give details away yet, but I'll say this: it involved death. And I was only eleven, and one of my biggest fears was having to watch somebody I loved die. I began asking myself questions like, okay, what would I do? How would I react? How would that impact my faith in God? How would I learn to trust Him? How would I move on? Hence, a book was born. But those were questions I set out to answer with this story, and I was worried about it because I didn't even know the answers myself.

But I started writing. Writing the first few pages of a brand new sparkly book is so exciting, bubbling with new beginnings and possibilities and words that are just ready to pour out. Then I made an outline, and somehow, it just formed. I know God was guiding me this entire time with the ideas. The actual ending, what I was going to say and how I was going to resolve the story, didn't come until I was, like, halfway done with the book. But when God revealed it to me, it just came pouring out, literally, onto my outline in my pink Sharpie. There's a big list of around six lessons that suddenly became clear to me.

I always said I learned things about my faith I didn't even know I learned until after writing this book, and that's why I say this. Because it was a challenging topic to write about, one that I didn't even know how I would deal with in my own life, but God showed me through that story that I would be fine. And it was like I just felt a peace about it.

The ending came over winter break, 2014. Right around Christmas. It was the most thrilling feeling, plugging away at those final chapters on the last page of my outline, knowing this book I'd only dreamed of finishing would be finished. I'd never finished a story before, and when I started this book, I set a word count goal for 40,000 words. I really hoped and prayed I'd finish it, but I was just going to hope for the best, because I knew I was only eleven, and I was going to have school, and who knew if I was actually capable of finishing a novel?

But by the grace of God, I did. Those final chapters were so fun and beautiful to write. I remember bounding into the room where my mom was, updating her every time I finished a chapter telling her I was so close. And then I did. God laid the story on my heart, and He made sure I didn't grow bored of it. It was a story that needed to be told, I am positive of that. And after I finished it, I couldn't believe it. I'd exceeded my word count goal at a little under 60,000 words, and afterwards I was just like, wow. That story is actually done. And how in the world did I learn what I did about life and God?! The answer: God. Totally Him, every step of the journey. He was guiding the entire story and revealed to me what I needed to know at the proper time. It was amazing to see that, and He gets all of the glory for this story, whatever may happen to it in the future.

And, the future . . . what does that look like? I revised and edited the book in 2015 with some minor changes to the storyline and completely finished my edits in 2016, or so I thought. I put together a bunch of summaries and synopses in 2016, also, but I never did anything with the story in terms of emailing an agent. I guess maybe I was scared to, but I just never felt ready. But now it's another year, and I needed to seriously look at my plans and goals for this story, which will always be special to me.

I had four options mainly: rewrite the entire story and start from scratch was the first; second, don't touch the original story but add to it; third, don't do anything new to the story but edit the original; and fourth, do nothing to it.

So I considered those. The first option didn't sound appealing at all. Starting from scratch would take a whole new year just to write, that and I really liked my original story. I didn't know if I felt completely confident going with the fourth option, which is the other extreme, doing nothing to it, because my writing skills . . . well, I mean, I was eleven, and now I'm fourteen. So I decided to do a mix of both with two conditions: 1) If I was going to add scenes, I needed to stay true to the story. I wrote this at eleven years old. It needs to stay that way. The story is special to me, and I don't want to drastically change it because in a way it does mark my maturity and my relationship with God at that time. It marked the lessons I'd learned then, and they were good lessons because they were the lessons God revealed to me at that time. 2) If I was going to edit the story, I couldn't overdo it. The grammar and writing style was acceptable for the sake of publishing, but again, I wanted to be careful and rather picky about the edits I made to the story. If I change it too much, it won't be as special because that wasn't the story in 2014. Like I said, it marks what I learned then, and it's special because of that.

So that's what's next. I'm going to do my best adding and editing the story so that the original message can shine even brighter, but not changing it enough so that the original message is gone or replaced. It's quite a difficult process, but I'm excited to revisit this story and see where God will take it next. I would so so so appreciate the prayers!

I appreciate each one of you that's encouraged me in my writing journey! When this one is done, it's all for you. <3

Writing My Book

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It's been over a year since I first began working on my now finished novel. Sometimes it's still hard to believe. Even if my novel doesn't go anywhere - which, it will, I'm determined to make something happen with it - it was still an awesome journey I took, writing a book. I learned a lot in my faith as I wrote it, something I didn't even know until I was finished. Since the pathetic blog post I wrote when I finished it gave you absolutely no information, I thought we'd visit that process of writing a book. I want to remember it all, so here we go...

Fall 2013

Working super hard at a novel that had all my emotions from entering fifth grade.

Spring 2014

That novel was just not clicking with me. I knew I could do better. I knew that we could always be questioning our writing, too, but I just had to take a break with that story. I kept it (a lesson learned the hard way danggit), but I decided to begin a new story I'd really felt confident in. The story (which I called HOURS APART) was postponed at a little over thirty thousand words, a record for me.

In the spring at the end of my fifth grade year, I began the story I have now finished. Beginning a sparkly new idea is a blast at first, but later it takes tons of grit to persevere through. My goal was to finish my book by Christmas 2014.

Winter 2014

I was getting super close. Before I started typing, I set a goal for myself at forty thousand words to reach. When I filled the white space with that many words and still had more to go, it was a great feeling! I still had to finish the book, though.

Around Christmastime, I only had four or five chapters left. I remember it was the day after Christmas, and I was telling my mom I was almost!!! done!!! That feeling though when you finish completely. I was so thankful to God. This book was going to be about faith because I want to spread it everywhere, and it was just an amazing feeling for me. As an adult, it takes grit to write a book. As an impatient little eleven year old, it took even more. I prayed, though, that God would help me persevere through it and that He'd use me. And He did.

There were plenty of errors. Some of the things I learned in my language classes this year you could tell were obviously lacking, but that's okay. That's why I'm editing it. I was also stoked that I had exceeded my goal of forty thousand words. I finished at a little under sixty thousand! I don't want to be one of those people who's just throwing out phrases about glory to God, so when I say glory to Him I MEAN IT. Writing a book is not easy, and there's really no way I could do it without God guiding me. No way I could have done it as fast - I was shocked that it didn't take at least a full year. It's taken over a year to be edited completely, but I expected that.

Spring 2015

This would be the time where I started revising on the document. I have my own process that goes through it about six times. It's no joke! Before I begin, I like to read through what I've done without making any corrections. I don't really read the books I'm writing until they're done! Sometimes I'll read a chapter if I need a refresher on something, but I don't read the whole thing until the end. It's really cool to read it beginning to end and be like, I wrote this. 

Afterwards, I go through and just make any corrections I need to start with. After that, each time has a certain area I'm correcting, and I just keep doing that. I wanted somebody to look at it like a teacher, but I think a lot of them were really busy, and I never heard back. I let my blogging buddy who I'd been talking with for quite awhile have a peek at it, but other than that, it's just me who's read it. I think I'm going to keep it that way, too. I definitely don't have all the grammar rules figured out, but I would say I have a natural ability with spelling, punctuation, and just writing good sentences. If God can help me finish it, He'll help me edit it. He's not just going to drop me there.

I also think, worst case scenario, I send it to an agency, and they will write back if I have some major areas I need to work on. Again, God always remains faithful. I know it will work out.

Summer 2015

It took awhile to print my book because of how long it was, but finally I got it in the summer. It was HUGE, probably because I had it double spaced. I worked on editing quite a bit, and then I made the online corrections.

Now

...I am working on the finishing touches, and I'm learning it will never be perfect, so I'll just do my best.
...I am trusting that God will use me and this book to glorify Him.
...I am pushing away doubts and lies of Satan, and I am fully trusting God's truth and promises. All glory goes to Him through it all - whatever happens. Thank you all for being such an encouragement in my journey, this is only the beginning!

Goal = Met

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Well hi! You haven't heard about my writing yet, so let me give you an update. Some might have heard things on social media, but I wanted to share it here too.

i finished a book.

Remember that goal I set for myself, to finish my whole book by Christmas?

Well, I did.

It might have been a day after Christmas, but really I just wanted it done before the new year.

I mean, omigosh, it's kind of hard to believe. I wrote a book. 60k words, all mine. 

So what's next?

Well, I don't know. It is certainly not ready to be published, I have to go through it like six times looking through different things. I'm on layer two currently. And then there's editing and querying.

Querying. I honestly have no clue what it will look like. What I do know is that Jeremiah 29:11 is planted in my head, and that's what I'm gonna live by. When I get more updates, I promise to let you know...

Thanks to everyone who supports me in this, I love you all•

 

Fulfilling My Dream

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Yesterday I talked about starting my mission. Now I'm going to talk about how I got to where I am now. Nothing phenomenal happened, or you would have heard of that by now. But it was a start and it took me somewhere, even if it only took me farther by a little bit.

There were 2 big highlights that really got me motivated to get to the writing stage I'm at now. I'll show you pictures first. Then I'll get into details.

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❤ putting email to use

^^ See this pic? Those are all conversations I had with author Lisa Schroeder. She has helped me SO much in my writing career. We've been corresponding with each other since I was 8. Time flies, eh? 

If you were to look at my blog faq's page where I answered how I learned designing and writing, you just can't be shy. Reach out with your questions. I have never come across a designer/author who hasn't been more than willing to help out.

If any of you need writing advice, I'd be happy to share what Lisa told me, or I can offer some of my own advice. Remember, those authors started in the same place as you. They're not wizards who magically turned into this awesome published writer overnight.

Okay, class is over. Back to fulfilling my dream.

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❤ calling all writers...

Last year I had a teacher who recommended that I enter this statewide writing contest by Scholastic, I think. I'm like, writing contest? Count me in. This was a really big step for me, even if I didn't win. I mean I was entering a PROFESSIONAL contest. Judges were going to read my work.

A little about how this works. A region of Iowa, like towns that are nearby, are part one of the contest. I selected a story that I was really proud of and submitted it. The judges would judge the stories in our region, so it wasn't just my school. I was competing with a larger range. The judges would then pick the best story and the writer would move on to a STATE level. I did not make it to state, but I was really close. I got 2nd place in my region. I still thought 2nd was pretty good, and it boosted my confidence in writing a lot. I'm still going to be keeping my eyes out for more contests, because a medal in something like that would go nicely with my query letter to an agent one day.

I also went through a little phase with self publishing, as in hey! That's what I'm gonna do! And then I started saving. But my daddy had a good point with this, and so did another teacher who helped me with the contest. I'll get into my opinion on self publishing vs. traditional publishing later, but a lot of people think the only logical way for a kid my age to get a book published is paying someone to do it. Like excuse me are you saying that no professional publisher would want my book?! I get it. There is a ton of competition. In my head, I probably think querying is easier than it looks. But I have a lot of things that some authors don't. I have God. And I know that whatever happens, He's got my back.

**Next Post Sneak Peek:

Okay. You finally get to see the embarrassing blogger I was back in '13. I wasn't really a blogger like I am now, my blog was considered the "official." As in, a professional blog where I share writing updates. I'll also be talking about the "official" social media. Haha, memories... That's when I thought I could use my blog for a website.