Liebster Award Tag (3rd Time’s the Charm!)

Aaand Kira has nominated me back for the Liebster Award! I’m assuming as revenge for how often I nominate her for these tags.

You can find Kira’s wondrous post (responding to my nomination) here.

Rules of the tag:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer 11 questions from the person who nominated you.
  3. Nominate other bloggers.
  4. Give those bloggers 11 questions to answer and let them know they’ve been nominated.

**Since I’ve done this tag twice now, the most recent being last week (oops), I’m skipping nominating other people. But if you’d like to complete the tag yourself using Kira’s questions, go for it!**

Kira’s Questions:
1) If your life was a book, what would it be titled? [from Janna]
At the moment: How Did I Eat So Much Pizza for Lunch and Why Do I Still Want More: The Julia Byers Story
2) Who was your first ever fictional crush? [from Janna]
As I said last time, it was probably James from the Animal Ark series, back in elementary school.
3) What’s your career goal and how many people know about it? Are you super secretive about it the way some writers are?
My career goal is to work in editing for a children’s/YA lit imprint of a publishing house. If I get to be an author too, that’ll be amazing, but really just being part of the publishing industry at all is The Dream. As for the second part of this question: No, I’m not secretive about it. However, I do think a lot of people assume my chief goal in life is to be a writer since I do spend so much time writing and talking about writing.
4) What’s your favorite musical instrument?
At the moment: violin. I can’t play it whatsoever, but I adore the sound. So desperate and beautiful.
5) Have you ever met a traditionally published author? Who and where and how?
I’ve been really lucky on the Meeting Authors front the past few years. I don’t think you want to sit through all the stories.
6) What is the last book you checked out from the library?
So this is sort of embarrassing but I kind of… don’t… use the library. Like, I spend time at the library. I go to events and study there. But I haven’t checked out a book since high school and the last one I remember checking out was one of the Harry Potters, from my high school’s library sophomore year. Probably Order of the Phoenix?
7) Tell us a bit about your family.
I come from a pretty traditional, middle class suburban background. Both my parents are engineers and work their butts off for what we have. My brother is three years older than me and works in advertising. We have a dog named Sammy who I miss like crazy when I’m not home (which is 99% of the time, these days).
8) Do you have any experiences with mental illness you could share? (Re: you or people you love.)
I mean, I think we all know and love people who suffer from mental illness. But their stories are not mine to share.
9) What’s a favorite blog post you posted recently?
I’m actually going to grab a post I wrote for another blog, because it was my first time using GIFs and I had way too much fun with it: “Critique Partners = Superheroes” for Teens Can Write, Too!
10) We’re back on the desert island, and this time, you get to have three authors with you. Who do you choose?
Suzanne Collins, because she probably knows tons of survival stuff from The Hunger Games. Libba Bray, because she looked at Lord of the Flies and gave us Beauty Queens instead. And JK Rowling, because, I mean. Why give up an opportunity to get to hang out with JK Rowling.
11) Is there a particular dream (like, the sleepy time kind) that keeps recurring for you?
Not really. However, last night I did dream that a dog bit Hugh Jackman, then they both grew wings. So there’s that.
Aaand that about wraps it up for the Liebster Award tag. Thanks for nominating me, Kira! Again, if you’d like to complete the tag yourself, feel free to using Kira’s questions.
Hope you have a good weekend!

On Endings

One of my favorite people, Kira Budge, posted on Teens Can Write, Too! last week about what she’s accomplished in 2014, divided into categories, and I thought it was a really great idea. A year’s a long time, and by the end it’s easy to forget the things you did a couple months ago, let alone back in January.

So as I procrastinate from studying for finals and get ready to move home for winter break, I figured I’d look over what I did in 2014, too. I’ve kind of really loved this year.


  • Made it through a rough patch winter semester.
  • Taught myself to (very poorly) play ukelele.
  • Went to lots of great concerts, plays/musicals, and advance screenings with lots of great people.
  • Made some vlogs with Hannah.
  • Went to BookCon and a little bit of BEA!
  • Within the US, traveled to the Florida Keys, New York City, and Chicago.
  • Ran the 2014 Chapter One Young Writers Conference.
  • Outside the US, traveled to Amsterdam, Paris, and around England and Wales with friends/my study abroad program, and around England, Scotland, and Paris/Versailles with my family. (So many great things happened during my two months in Europe, I’d never be able to list them all. I can’t put into words how grateful I am for this summer.)
  • Met so many amazing people I’m beyond grateful to have in my life now.
  • Met some of the people I look up to most in the world, including but not limited to Lauren Oliver and our queen JK Rowling.
  • Moved into my first apartment with some of my best friends.
  • Joined the Teens Can Write, Too! team.
  • Accomplished my goal of reading fifty books in a year.
  • Started actually maybe working out once in a while and actually eating somewhat healthily. (Except also I just had macaroni and cheese and Golden Oreos for dinner, so maybe not.)


  • Over winter semester, completed a remote internship with an awesome literary agent.
  • Also over winter semester, got back into performing a bit by joining one of the university choirs. (Continued to sing with them this semester. We even got to perform at halftime at the Big House!)
  • Didn’t kill my grades too terribly much. (My GPA’s not as high as I’d like, but after how much I’ve challenged myself by taking courses outside my comfort zone–SO MANY SCIENCE CLASSES–and going to Oxford, I’m okay with it.)
  • Speaking of which: Studied abroad at St Peter’s College (via Magdalen College), Oxford over the summer! I took a six credit literature course on the Oxford Inklings and wrote a two credit bonus natural science research paper on the effect of the Welsh environment on the Inklings’ writing.
  • Declared a Screen Arts & Cultures minor!
  • Only have one grade back so far for this semester, but it’s an A+ in creative writing, so whoooo. (*cough* We’re graded on participation. *end cough*)

In Writing

  • Lots of Top Secret stuff I’m not sharing. But also:
  • Won a Hopwood Underclassmen Fiction Award.
  • Won the Arthur Miller Award.
  • Participated in the 2014 Cafe Shapiro Anthology. (Besides one of my short stories being published in the anthology itself, I also got to read at a special reception thing at the undergraduate library, and all the anthology participants were featured in a slideshow shown on the monitors there for a couple weeks.)
  • Got to write at the Elephant House cafe in Edinburgh, where JK Rowling used to write, and at the Eagle and Child pub, where the Inklings used to meet.
  • Wrote many songs and poems and short stories (and, you know, blog posts).
  • Won NaNoWriMo 2014.

Aaand so much more, I’m sure, that I’m not thinking of.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to wrap my mind around how a year is somehow both so long and so short.

2014’s been really good to me. I’m more than a little scared for 2015, because I don’t know how anything could live up to this year, but I said the same thing last year too. So, ready or not: 2015, I’m coming for you.

What did you accomplish in 2014? Share your awesome with me. 🙂

Oh, also! The 2014 Project for Awesome campaign’s Indiegogo has launched and they’ve got some kickbutt perks again this year, so make sure to check it out here.


NaNo Day 4: Interview with Kira Budge

Today’s another day I knew I wouldn’t have time to write, so I’ve got no NaNoing planned again. But I PROMISE I’ll be back at it tomorrow.

In the meantime, I’ve got twelve hours of classes today (already begun) involving two projects due (one already turned in) and probably giving a semi-impromptu presentation thing in YA lit on the We Need Diverse Books Indiegogo campaign (check it out and donate here). And I’m about to have to sit through my second Bergman film of the week thanks to my film classes conspiring to make me fall in hate with Swedish art films. (I’m sorry, but there’s only so much Bergman I can handle in one semester.) Plus working on stuff for all those announcements I keep not-so-subtly hinting at.

But I just finished eating a really good bagel and I’ve got a warm Chai latte next to my laptop and, once again: I might have a lot going on, but they’re all good things. So I’m happy to stumble my exhausted way through them.

Anyway: Like last year, throughout November I’m going to be sharing interviews with other writers competing in NaNoWriMo in order to give a broader perspective of the event. (Also to just let you meet this fantastic humans, because I adore them.) In addition, all of this year’s interviewees are Ch1Con team members! Yayyy!

Today’s interview is with Kira Budge, one of my favorite people on the planet. We’ve been friends since middle school, she’s one of my CPs, and she’s the Associate Online Administrator for Ch1Con. ON TOP OF ALL THIS, I’m insanely jealous of her NaNoWriMo novel. Take it away, Kira.



Q: In one sentence, what is your novel about?

A: My novel, Sammi, is the story of a girl with OCD on her journey to diagnosis/recovery as told from the POV of the OCD itself.

Q: What is your favorite part of NaNoWriMo?

A: I love NaNo because it gives me an excuse to stop editing all my old books for a while and write something new instead in one big burst of awesome! All the creative juices get to flow with complete abundance. It makes me very happy.

Q: Do you have any specific writing rituals you follow? (Like do you have to have a decaf skim chai latte with extra cinnamon that’s exactly 102 degrees Fahrenheit in order to get those creative juices flowing, or are you more of a Can Write Anywhere, Anytime type of person?)

A: I’m a write anywhere, anytime person. Ideally I’d be in my bed with my laptop playing some movie scores, but really, I can write just about anywhere. Like in class. A lot. NANO SUCCESS!

Q: What’s your secret to juggling life and NaNo at the same time?

A: … I write in class. A lot. Haha, mostly I’m just very enthusiastic about getting to write something new and that gets me going as profusely as possible!

Q: Any advice for the troops?

A: Be happy! NaNo is a challenge but it’s the kind of challenge where you get to have fun doing something you love. =) Make the most of it. And thanks for reading!


Thanks for letting me interview you, Kira!

Want to learn more about Kira? You can find her at the following links.




Thanks for reading!

Goal for today: 0.

Overall goal: 6,000.

Current word count: 7,140.



Wordy Wednesday: Interview with Kira Budge

I’m now in Europe (or, you know, will be at the time this post goes up)–which means this week’s Wordy Wednesday is our first of many wonderful interviews and guests posts for the summer!

Please welcome my fabulous critique partner and friend, Kira Budge!


Kira Budge

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a sophomore at BYU-Idaho studying English: Creative Writing and a novelist, primarily of YA fantasy. Additionally, I’m the Associate Online Administrator of Ch1Con, a writing conference for teens. I play cello, foster kittens, and obsess over British TV in my spare time.

What kind of writing do you do?
Mostly YA fantasy novels, though they tend to straddle the line towards sci-fi. I write other stuff too, but nothing as seriously as that.

What project(s) are you currently working on?
I’m finishing up edits on What It Takes to Deal, a YA contemp, to prepare it to be sent out to agents.

What are you studying at college?
As seen le above, I’m an English: Creative Writing major! Because useful.

Any fun summer plans?

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
Britain. All of the Britain.

What’s your favorite kind of book?
I have lots of kinds of favorite books, but I tend to have a thing for YA sci-fi in particular, or at least I have recently.

Favorite food?
The food kind.

Favorite drink?

Favorite dessert?
More chocolate. (Sorry Jules.)

Favorite season?

Favorite activity outside of reading and writing?
Ummmmm… watching TV? Being generally useless?

Favorite movie?
Snow White and the Huntsman.

Favorite TV show?
Doctor Who!!!!

Favorite band/singer?
Linkin Park.

Favorite Youtube channel?
Pemberley Digital, but I love so so many more!

Favorite book?
This question is an unfair one, at any and all times. It’s a tie between Harry Potter and the Hunger Games. It always is.

Favorite website?
I don’t know about favorite, but the one I apparently go to the most is Goodreads.

Favorite board game?
Ew. Board games.

Favorite videogame?
Ew. Videogames.

Favorite language (other than your native one)?
Spanish? Latin? One of those.

Favorite sport?

Favorite candy?

Favorite pie?
Apple. Or cherry. Or blueberry. Or chocolate.

Favorite instrument?

Coffee or tea?
Neither. I’m Mormon. *smiles cheesily*

Ice cream or froyo?
BOTH. (Probably froyo, though, for real.)

Movie or TV show?
TV show.

Morning or night?

City or country?
Small town. Those other places are icky.

Cat or dog?

Rain or shine?
Rain. Sun hurts my eyes.

Camp or hotel?
Hotel, baby.

Stay in or go out?
Stay in all of the times.

Casual or fancy?
…. either. Depending on the situation. I like to do both of them.

Edward or Jacob? (Kidding.)
I see your kidding and raise you a TEAM EDWARD for the books and TEAM WHY DO THESE MOVIES EXIST LAUTNER IS SO MUCH HOTTER for the movies.

Hot or cold?
Hot. I am allergic to cold.

Handwrite or type?
No one in potato can read my handwriting, not even me. Type.

Paperback or hardcover?
I think paperback. But I’ve never actually thought about this question before. Hmm! Good one, Jules!


Why thank you, Kira! And thanks for letting me interview you!

You can find Kira at the following links:

Twitter: @KiraBudge
Thanks for reading!

Wordy Wednesday: Lessons from Ch1Con

It’s storming like crazy outside right now. A little bit ago, a mama deer and her two babies went prancing through our backyard and the babies jumped about two feet every time thunder clapped overhead.

Now we’ve progressed to the Thunder Rolling Sinisterly In the Distance segment of the storm, so I feel like it’s safe enough to have my laptop out. (Fingers crossed. I just ate some really greasy cheese and I’m not in the mood for getting deep fat fried the week before I’m supposed to leave for Europe.)

This past weekend (as I’m sure you’re aware, since I haven’t shut up about it in like two months) was the Chapter One Young Writers Conference. The conference was so much fun and I learned a ton from our speakers. So, I figured for this week’s Wordy Wednesday I’d share a few of their lessons.


1. “There will probably come a time when no shortcuts or tricks will work. You just have to power through it.” –Ariel Kalati

Ariel gave a presentation on how to avoid common procrastination pitfalls. However, the conclusion she came to was this: Sometimes, nothing you do will make things easier. You just have to trust yourself and your love of writing, instead, and “power through.”

2. World-building is about the rules. [Patrice Caldwell]

Patrice gave a presentation on world-building in which she revealed that making a believable world relies on rules. Think about the “rules” of your world. How does the magic system work (if they have magic), what’s their religion like, and how’s their society set up? What foods do the characters eat and what activities do they do in their free time? Know the details and establish rules in order to make a world as real to the reader as this one.

3. “Mr. Rogers thinks everyone has a voice.” –Molly Brennan

Molly gave a presentation that compared journalism and fiction techniques. Somehow out of this we started our own sorta-meme: “Mr. Rogers thinks _____.” The odd yet important lesson that Molly inadvertently taught with this is that someone is always paying attention and someone always believes in you. (She also taught many journalism/fiction lessons, but come on. Why give up the opportunity to use a quote that includes a Mr. Rogers reference.)

4. Random questions can get you the best answers. [Panel with Amy Zhang, Patrice Caldwell, and Kira Budge]

We did an Ask Us Anything panel Saturday afternoon. It began with questions like, “When did you start writing seriously?” and “What are your favorite types of stories?” But then we moved to questions about OTPs and favorite fictional places, and I realized: you learn a lot more about people (and characters) from the random, seemingly pointless questions than the serious, traditional ones.

5. People want lives that resemble fiction and fiction that resembles lives. [Amy Zhang]

Amy gave our keynote address, which was on developing unforgettable characters. The biggest lesson I took from her session was that the key to writing good characters is writing ones who seem like real people, not characters at all. It’s the ones we can imagine walking past us in the halls at school, sitting beside us on the city bus, who stay with us long after we’ve turned the last page.

6. Don’t start at the beginning. [Kira Budge]

Kira gave a workshop on writing opening pages. An important lesson she shared was that it’s cliche, these days, to start at “the beginning.” The first day of school, first day of summer, first day of a new job–overall, beginnings have become overdone. It’s better to start before or after this part. (And you’re also more likely to learn unique, important details about the characters by starting at another point.)


Interested in attending Ch1Con next year? Help us decide dates!

And now, in case I don’t have a chance to say goodbye before I leave for Europe next week (I’ll be gone before Wednesday), I hope you have a good couple weeks and treat our guest posters well. 🙂 I can’t wait to post from Oxford! Love you!




NaNo Day 5: Interview with Kira Budge

The last couple of days have pretty much been a bust for writing, primarily because they’ve also been a bust for school. I woke up yesterday with a pretty nasty headache, but tried to power through it because I had homework assignments galore, only to finally realize around 6:00 PM that it wasn’t just a regular headache that would go away if I ignored it enough, but actually a full-blown migraine.

I get migraines maybe a couple times a year. And this was one of the worst ones I’ve ever had–by the end of the day I had extreme, throbbing pressure at the front of my head, dizziness, inability to keep my balance, queasiness, loss of appetite, lots of sensitivity to light and noise. I ended up giving up on my homework around 10:00 when I realized I hadn’t actually managed to get close to solving the genetics problem I was working on after four hours of trying to figure it out. So I went to bed then and didn’t wake up until my alarm went off just before 9:00 this morning for creative writing class.

The majority of the pressure behind my eyes has gone away at this point, but now it’s in my ears instead, spreading the aching from my temples down the sides of my face to my jaw.

Basically: I am massively congested, and I don’t know why or how to make it go away, because I don’t want to use a decongestant (massive streams of snot waterfalling their way down my face sound about as lovely in reality as they do in words).

Last night I did end up writing one sentence on NaNo, because I didn’t want to have to put a zero down on my chart tracking how much I get done each day, but I mean. Five words aren’t much help when you’re nearly four thousand words behind your goal. (Upside: Because Tuesdays are such a busy day for me class-wise, I didn’t schedule any writing for today. So while I probably won’t get any time to write, I at least won’t be falling any more behind.)

In other news, now that I’ve ranted a whole bunch about all my beautiful problems, let’s get to the real reason for today’s post: An interview with a fellow WriMo about National Novel Writing Month.


In order to give you a broader perspective on NaNoWriMo than you’d get from solely my experience, throughout the month of November I’m sharing interviews with various, totally awesome NaNo writers.


Kira Budge

Today’s interview comes from one of my critique partners and very best writing friends, Kira Budge. Kira and I have known each other since the seventh grade, when we first met on the Scholastic’s Write It online forums, and I’ve looked up to her fabulous writing abilities and noveling work ethic ever since (seriously, this girl is like a writing machine). Make sure to check out her website!


Q: Is this your first year doing NaNoWriMo, or are you a veteran? What do you think of the event?
A: This is my fifth year, in fact, and I absolutely love NaNo. It gives me the chance to get some real writing in! The rest of the year I have to focus on editing and such, so NaNo is a blessing.

 Q: In one sentence, what is your novel about?

 A: I’ve challenged myself to try writing two novels, so I get two sentences!

 DUTIFUL, the second book in the Merciful trilogy, follows a deceased teenage boy whose afterlife calling is to be a muse, and how he falls in love with Nell, a girl who is being targeted by demons.

The final book in the Merciful trilogy, SORROWFUL, follows Nell as she takes her place in a special mission to fight back against the demons attacking her hometown, along with the main characters in the first two books.


Q: Plotter or pantser?

A: Pantser WHOO HOO! 

Q: Do you have any particular process for writing? Do you have a certain location you like to write at, or a type of tea you need in order to brainstorm, or anything like that? 
A: I’m actually very good at writing almost anywhere, which is super useful for NaNo. My preferred situation, though, is to be on my laptop, lying on my bed, listening to my Writing Playlist.

  Q: Any writing advice?

A: Actually, I have a blog that often includes writing advice! Check it out at to see news about my works, writing advice, and other blog posts. The best brief advice I’ve got, though, is to be stubborn and don’t give up.

And there you have it! Thank you, Kira, for taking the time to fill out this questionnaire, and thank YOU for reading!

day 5

 Talk to you tomorrow, when I’m hopefully feeling better!