Friday, February 28, 2014

Writing, Reading, & Directions

My goal was to write a book this year, and I was hoping to get something cranked out this spring semester. So far all I have is an idea and a few characters in my head.... I know that I really need to get back to writing, I've started to doubt that it's my true passion. My outlet. But that's because I haven't been writing much lately, especially as I've gotten older.

Writing has changed for me, I am not as dedicated as I use to be. I can't get up in the mornings, blaze through schoolwork, spend the rest of my afternoon typing away at a story I think is brilliant and then save it to my little floppy disc... I haven't always felt the emotions coursing through me and been in love with the words that flow onto the page.

I haven't gone through and critiqued every sentence, changing it up until it reached perfection only to read it the next day and go, "Eck..." I also haven't stayed up till midnight typing away until my brain turned to mush. Which may be a good thing.

The importance of this though is that I know I need to write. No matter how distracted, discouraged, or unsure I get... I still need to write.

I love to draw, for example, but lately whenever I haven't been feeling the greatest it is almost impossible to draw. However, when I'm "too" tired or discouraged, writing is that outlet that helps me refocus or say what I'm feeling. It's therapeutic. When I don't feel like I can do anything else, I fall back to writing. It's my voice.

Sooo though it would be a lot easier to give up on this book idea, or just say that I'm not cut out to be a writer, I was reminded recently that it doesn't matter. I still have to write. Which reminds me of when I first fell in love with writing, how passionate I was about it. I wrote for myself.

No matter what, I have to write. Stories run through my veins. I just need to get back to committing them to paper. (Or a computer screen.)

Speaking of writing... That brings me back around to what I've been reading. I've managed four to five books so far this year and right now I am reading one in particular that I have to tell you about.

Writing Tools (50 Essential Strategies
for Every Writer) by Roy Peter Clark

This Writing Tools book, you need to go buy it. Right now. I'm only 35 pages into it and I tell ya, that thing is magic. I love it so far, love the way he writes, love the way the chapters are laid out, I love each stinkin' page and think it's the perfect little book that ties up a TON of essential writing strategies. Just read it and make sure you have a copy around so you can go back to it whenever you need to.

{Thank you, Jackson, for letting me borrow your copy. You may not get it back until we're married... I'll have to think about it.}

Seriously though, when I read this book it makes me want to teach English just because I have a book that would be awesome for people to use.

As far as the direction this year for my blog goes... I dunno. I hope to share how progress on my novel is going without giving too much away, I'd like to keep this story on the down low and actually get it written. Book reviews will still be my thing because I'd like to get better at writing them, and they're a reason for why I like to read. Other than reading just to read in and of itself. I may blog later on this year once I start wedding planning and how all that stuff is going. We'll see.

What are you doing this year?
Come on, just tell me one thing you hope or plan to do!

Friday, February 14, 2014

I Got Engaged... No, I'm Serious.

Most people know already, but... I got engaged! On Christmas Eve to be precise. Jackson posted about it on his blog already, but I've really been slacking lately when it comes to anything word related... writing... blogging... reading... You get the picture. We've already told family, close friends, and made it Facebook Official. Not to mention tweeting about it... It's been fun.

Jackson and I have known each other for several years even before we were "together". We've been in a relationship for 2 and a half years, and now I am really excited to take this next step of being engaged. Shhhh, don't tell, but I think we've both known we found "the one" for a while. 

So... He had to work Christmas Eve day, and I had been at home when I received a text from him when he got off his shift. I was told to get ready to go because he was going to kidnap me for the evening. I got ready excitedly, trying to have some sort of composure and not really succeeding...

About an hour or so later he was coming up my driveway. Fast forward one car ride with me promising to keep my eyes closed, which I did, and badgering him for where we were going.... and we finally came to a stop. "You can open your eyes now," Jackson said, the smile in his voice.

It took me a few seconds to finally open my eyes, where were we?? I had guessed that we went up on the parkway, and when I opened my eyes, we were pulled off at one of the mountain look outs.

The sun was setting. Bright pink and blue hues were coloring the sky, and he suggested that we get out and take a picture. Now Jackson and I take pictures together all the time, and this would not have been unusual at all if it hadn't been for the fact my eyes were closed the whole way there.

He sets up the camera as usual. I stand in front of the camera at a distance so he can get everything configured... as usual. We both are shivering and remarking on how freezing it turned out to be outside... not as usual.

I'm standing in my spot when Jackson quickly walks over and stands beside me, I know something is up, but smile for the picture regardless. Waiting for the the light to start blinking, waiting for the camera to click... Nothing.

Jackson turns and hugs me, I wrap my arms around him, feeling his warmth that takes off some of the bite from the chilly air. When he pulls away, he lowers down to one knee. I can't remember if it was his right or left... But he's looking up at me when he finally says, "Marissa, will you marry me?"

"Yes! ...Yes. Yes. Yes!" I managed half a dozen times. I said something how this didn't even feel real, and he said, "I know." I think Jackson was collecting himself for a moment (or time froze, or my brain left me, I have no idea), then he stood back up and slipped the ring on my finger. We wrapped our arms around each other again, and he told me he loved me. For the first time. "I love you."

"I love you too."

After a moment we both looked at each other again, he leaned his head down to mine and kissed me.

It was one of the most amazing moments in my life. Simple... personal... and perfect for us.

My best friend proposed... to me.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I Have To Stop Living For Myself.

I have to stop living for myself. It's been really confusing figuring that out. I am still a bit clueless as to how to go about each day and head in the direction I want to go, without living for myself. How I can feel God's calling on my life and know things He wants me to do, but determine when I'm too focused on me.

The past few weeks have been really rough. Technically the last six month there have been numerous things testing, stretching, and challenging me. (If I were completely honest I'd say on and off through my life there have been times when it was this hard, but the frequency of those times have increased lately. A LOT.)

So when I say the last few weeks have been rough, it's because over the last six months or so I've had a lot of good days and moments, but right now I'm back in the phase where I can't pull things together. It's really discouraging. I get tired of being so overwhelmed, down, angry, frustrated, and disappointed. At the same time I'm so tired, it's hard to make the effort to feel better.

I guess the past few weeks I've been defeated by the stress, the discouragement, and the pressure. There are days when I'm happy again and energized, or at least being positive. There are so many days when I wish I could slip into comatose because I know I don't want to die, but I don't have it in me to feel better either. I don't want that either though because I wouldn't even know I was getting a break.

There's so much I am working through lately, and one of the hardest is getting past myself. It's so hard to change the way you think, but that seems the only true explanation for how I have been feeling. That truly it is my own doing in some way. Maybe it's because I am going through a period in my life when I am weak, and unlike before I am getting challenged even more rather than able to breathe and get back on my feet.

If you're someone who feels stuck... Battling day after day of being down and depressed and discouraged... Being a Christian and knowing you have hope, but feeling hopeless... I could tell you I understand. I could tell you it sucks, really bad. It hurts and it feels like it's all your fault, but also everyone else's fault at the same time. I still don't know if it is or not because I wish I could blame it on some mental illness or depression, but all I can tell you is that you need God. Because He's what I need too.

I can't tell you much more because then that would mean I had figured it out. I haven't. I'm still stumbling along and blaming myself and struggling to do something to get past it. But I know God can get me through it. He can get any of us through it. He hasn't let go of me yet and never will.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Book Review: Rebellious Heart

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Genre: Fiction; Historical Romance
Number of Pages: 376

    Because she's a woman, higher learning was always closed to Susanna Smith. But her quick mind and quicker tongue never back down from a challenge. And she's determined to marry well, so she'll be able to continue her work with the less fortunate.

Growing up with little to his name, poor country lawyer Benjamin Ross dreams of impacting the world for the better. When introduced to the Smiths he's taken by Susanna's intelligence and independent spirit, but her parents refuse to see him as a suitor for their daughter.

When the life of a runaway indentured servant is threatened, Susanna is forced to choose between justice and mercy, and Ben becomes her unlikely advisor. But drawing closer to this man of principle and intellect lands her in a dangerous, secret world of rebellion and revolution against everything she once held dear.

(Taken from Goodreads and also is what is on the back of the book.)

Star Rating:
      5 stars (I really liked this book.)

Content Rating:
     PG (recommended to 13&up though)

My Opinions:
     What I liked/loved - Okay, plain and simple, I loved the interaction between Susanna and Benjamin from the very beginning. It was nice to read a romance for once that had the two main characters bumping heads, bantering, and flirting from the start, considering they already had a bit of a history with each other.

Benjamin, Benjamin, Benjamin... What to say about him... I liked how he and Susanna both grew throughout the story, and also how he learned who he was trying to please in his life. This was a well done perspective on a "rags to riches" kind of guy, and who he thought he wanted to be. I loved how he cared about justice, but not in a too over zealous way and his beliefs that pushed against the comfortable world around him. Rebellion... Revolution...

Susanna's character was a little weak at times, but it was wonderfully done how her own thoughts and beliefs changed throughout the book. I loved reading about the challenges she faced in staying true to what was right, but how she also learned that what was right might not have been what she always believed in.

Last, but not least, I loved the ending of Rebellious Heart. The mystery, fear, emotion, and drama finally comes to a smashing finale. I loved it. It left me finishing the book happy and glad for every moment I spent reading its pages.

     What I didn't like/hated - Nothing to hate in this book, except maybe that it had an end. I enjoyed reading Rebellious Heart, and found it easy to blaze through its pages.

The Quality:
     This book starts out well with a sentence that grabs you and a story that soon begins to unfold. The first 50 pages are used to build up speed, but they are still entertaining, important to the story, and things definitely start picking up as this book goes on.

Hedlund writes in a way that pulled me into the story, without feeling like each sentence was dumbed down. I soon was reading through pages without even realizing how much I had read.

Rebellious Heart does indeed blend mystery and romance beautifully in this story. Not only will I be holding on to my copy of Rebellious Heart, but I hope to take the time to read it again. I would recommend it!

Iffy Content:
Language - None.

Sensuality - It is made known that a slave owner has mistreated some of his servants, and there are a couple other servants in the story that were sexually abused, but it does not go into detail. There are a few kisses exchanged between some of our main characters, as well as reference to kissing in a closet, it does not go beyond that and there are no sensual, make-out scenes. One man is newly married and excited about his wedding night, but the book does not go past that.

Violence - A couple girls have been murdered, but there is only one crime scene. It is briefly described, but not in great detail. One girl on the run had bloodied and cut feet because of no shoes.

Other - None that I can think of to mention.

Check out this book on:  Amazon or Barnes&Noble!!

Have you read this books? Any related books? What were you thoughts?
I'd like to know! I am always open for new reading suggestions as well.