Blogmas 2017 – Day 31/31 – 2018 Goals Pt. 2

Happy Feast of the Holy Family!

Today is the last day of Blogmas 2017. It’s been a wild ride of a December for me, but on December 1st I set out  to write a blog post everyday in Decemeber. Did I accomplish that? No. No, I did not. But I did write 24 blog posts (including this one). I’ll try again next year, but overall, I’m happy with what I accomplished for Blogmas 2017.

Without further ado, here is a revised list of goals for 2018. I’m sure this will continue to change and grow as we get into the new year, but right now, on December 31st, 2017, these are my hopes and aspirations.

2018goals2

  • Learn hand-lettering
  • Go on 3 dates (?)
  • MOVE OUT.  Check!
  • Publish 3 books
  • Actually try to learn Spanish
  • Travel 2 new places, anywhere.
  • NaNoWriMo 2018
  • Cut down/get all my stuff in neat and tidy order.
  • Create a nice summer wardrobe
  • Exercise somehow
  • Save $3000!
  • Pay off loan woot woot!
  • Road trip with friends?
  • BLOG CONSISTENTLY – Currently my plan is to post 2-3 times a week, but if I can get into a rythym I’ll aim for more posts a week.
    ADDING:
  • Write 1,000 words a day.
  • Continue learning how to cook.
  • Learn how to eat with chopsticks! Just for fun.
  • Write and shoot a short film. This has been an aspration of mine for a long time and I’d finally like to go for it.
  • Write two short plays. I love writing plays and it’s been over a year since I’ve written one. Time to change that. Plus, I was asked last night if I’d write a play for the homeschool group my younger siblings are with, so that’s some good motivation.
  • Continue going to counseling and work on building my confidence and self-esteem.
  • Discern the next steps for my life, particularly come August 2018. My roommate will very likely be moving at that time so I will have to decide if I want to stay here or move again, myself.
  • Go back through my old journals, particularly from 2013-2015. This is a very personal one, but I went through the hardest times of my life over those two years. I know it’s time to go back and see where I was so I can truly appreciate where God has brought me.
  • Read, every day. There are so many books I want to read so I need to commit and just dive in. I’m thinking at least one chapter or ten pages a day, I’ll see what I’m best able to stick to.
  • Say yes to more new things. I often just pass up oppurtunities to learn new games, listen to new music, see new movies, go new places, meet new people. I will make honest efforts in the new year to be humble enough to give new things a try.
  • Pray. Every single day. No expections. I know by now that this is the most important thing in my life. I need God, and prayer is my relationship with Him. Even if all my other goals go out the window, this must be a constant in my life.

Alright, Happy New Year everyone! God bless you and have an amazing 2018!

Clare

snow1.jpg

 

 

Check out all of Blogmas 2017!

 

Blogmas 2017 – Day 30/31 – 2017 in Review

As the year winds down, here are my Top 7 of 2017. Enjoy!

7. Solo Trip to Rochester June 23

2017r1

I had never gone on such a long road trip all by myself before, but I was free one weekend so I made plans to go back for a visit to one of my favorite cities: Rochester, MN, where I lived for nine months back in 2014-15. Originally I had hoped my teenage brother and sister would be able to come along, but the timing didn’t work out. I went anyway. I had to navigate and plan all by myself, and while there were some less-than-perfect moments, it was a huge growing experience.

I got to see a group from the theatre I interned at perform music at my favorite coffee shop and hang out with a few very good friends. It was so much fun and I proved to myself I was much more capable than I’d ever thought.

2017r2

(My friend Rae at a pop-up sale we went to together!)

6. Good Morning Bedlam Concert July 15

2017r4

This might have been the most fun I had the entire year. I heard that two bands I absolutely love and have really cool memories with, Good Morning Bedlam and Harbor & Home, were playing in Willmar, MN for Market on the Farm. I desperately wanted to go but lacked the confidance to go on my own. I was asking around, trying to find someone who wanted to go with me and at the last minute my sister Terese agreed to come along. It was fantastic. We had an absolute ball and I got to hang out with Good Morning Bedlam, four of the coolest people I know who I am proud to call friends.

2017r3

5. Total Solar Eclipse August 21

This was memorable for many reasons. Historic celestial event on the one hand, and seeing a best friend from high school who I hadn’t seen in years on the other.

2017r6

It was a rough road trip filled with rain and uncertainty and a lot of boredom and frustration, but I’m so grateful I got to experience it in person.

2017r5

I will always remember that little halo of pink light around the moon as it totally eclipsed the sun.

2017r7

4. Thanksgiving 2017

My whole family hadn’t been all together in four years or so. This year my oldest sister came with her husband and son from Ohio and my second older sister came from Arizona and we all got together for Thanksgiving at my dad’s parents in Rochester, MN. It was messy and loud and chaotic but it was ours and it was beautiful. The best moment of that week for me was getting drinks with my two older sisters downtown. We had the most amazing conversations and it made me realize all over again how blessed I am to have them in my life.

2017r9

3. Wedding October 15th

My oldest friend got married and my sister and I were bridesmaids! From navigating two airports and an hour and a half Uber ride, to getting all dolled up together in the bridal suite and posing for countless photos, it was a beautiful experience and so many happy tears were shed.

2017r8

2. Moving Out December 13

This was a totally unexpected thing. I had set a goal to be moved out by March 30th 2018, but the oppurtunity came up to move into an apartment across town from my family. I thought and prayed and asked for advice about it and I decided to take the leap.

2017r11.jpg

(New bedroom!)

I am so grateful I did; I can tell this was something I needed to keep moving forward and growing as a person. My roommate is the best. Just this morning I woke up to her starting the movie You’ve Got Mail and we watched it together while eating breakfast. Quality.

1. Publishing Good You Were Here May 17th

gywhphotoedit

I had no idea until March of this year that this was even on the horizon for me. I had committed to writing every day in December 2016, and then I learned about the Kindle Storyteller competition in March 2017. I committed to finishing and publishing this book in time for that contest, and while I missed the deadline, I did it. I published a book!

This book. Goodness. What to even say about it. It has challenged me, grown me, changed the course of my life. I’ve gotten so much amazing feedback on it from people. The most notable and meaningful response was from the mother of one of the other bridesmaids in that wedding back in October. This woman had never met me before but was in the middle of reading Good You Were Here and was practically in tears as she told me how much it meant to her and how beautiful it was.

Dang.

2017r10.jpg

I love this book, for all that it is and all that it’s done for me. No matter how little money it’s made me, no matter how many little grammatical errors I’ve found after the fact, I consider it a triumph. By the grace of God, it is a triumph.

Other highlights include starting counseling, seeing the musical Matilda in Cincinatti with my older sisters, discovering the album Gone Now by Bleachers, going to a Murder Mystery Dinner Party for Halloween, making some new friends, going on my first date in two years, having a surprise birthday party thrown for me, and seeing the movie Kubo and the Two Strings for the first time.

And there you have it. My 2017 in review. What a year. God has blessed me so much and I’m grateful beyond words.

Tomorrow I’ll post a lookback on Blogmas 2017 and my revised 2018 goals.

Thanks for reading, God bless!

Clare

 

Check out the rest of Blogmas 2017

Get a copy of Good You Were Here

Blogmas 2017 – Day 22/31 – Good You Were Here EXTRA

The other day I posted a snippet I wrote for a writing prompt (read it here). Here’s another snippet from that prompt exercise, and this one is extra special because it’s a scene for Good You Were Here! It’s not exactly a deleted scene, more like a bonus scene I wrote just to play around with the characters that ultimately didn’t fit in the book. Enjoy!

 

4/3/17 Bonus Scene, Good You Were Here

“It’s September,” Florence commented solemnly as she handed Angela her cup of tea.

Angela looked away from her mother, making her brain pretend it didn’t make the connection. “So?”

Florence didn’t answer. She knew Angela was pretending.

“Is Evan coming over today?”

“I think so,” Angela replied, turning and walking out of the kitchen.

She walked into the living room, and found Evan already there, taking his shoes off at the door.

“Hi,” he said, smiling at her.

“Hi,” she replied, smiling in spite of the sickening sorrow her mother had awakened in her.

Evan’s smile faded. “You okay?”

“Hm? What? Why?” Angela self consciously ran a hand over her hair, realizing her hairspray had probably not been sufficient to tame it.

“What’s wrong?” Evan asked.

She looked away. So much for not being perceptive. “Nothing. It’s nothing. Just…” She sipped her tea. She took a deep breath. No point in keeping secrets, remember? “It’s September now,”

“Yeah?”

“It was seven months ago,” she said softly. “seven months ago, they told me I had eight months to live,”

Evan’s face twisted. He went to her and wrapped his arms around her. Her teacup got caught between them and pressed into both their chests uncomfortably, but she didn’t move. She pressed her eyes to Evan’s shoulder and let him hold her.

“Look at you,” Evan’s voice was unnaturally high. “You’re fine. You aren’t going to die,”

Tears began to stream from Angela’s eyes, so she kept them on his shoulder. “I mean, probably not next month. But before too long. I have good days, I have bad days. I am dying, Evan,”

He held her tighter, so tight the cup pressed into her collarbone hurt, but she didn’t pull away. She wished he could hold her tight enough to keep her soul in her body. She wanted him to be right, even though she could feel her lungs wearing out, her heart ticking down.

“I want you to live,”

“I want to live, too,”

They stood and held each other, trying to ward off September, trying to ward off the cruel, uncaring clock of congestive heart failure, until her tea was cold.

 

 

Get a copy of Good You Were Here on Amazon

Check out the rest of Blogmas 2017!

Blogmas 2017 – Day 20/31 – Story Birds

Originally posted here 3/23/17. Why I write.

Some Thoughts – 3/23/17

“Is this it? Are you really going to be a writer?”

I was in my car, on my way to the coffee shop (to write), and as I was going over the train tracks, I asked myself this question. It popped into my head, kind of from nowhere, but it generally spawned from the following self-reflection: “Here I am, driving 20 minutes to go sit in a coffee shop and write when I could have sat at home to write, because I seem to focus on writing better at the coffee shop than at home,” 

So the thought came chasing me down, as it has done before, but never this strongly. “Is this really it? Is this what you’re going to do with your life?”

I am a class-A self-sabotager, so my brain was trying to trick me down all the usual rabbit-holes: calling me out on my flakiness, how I was super into writing as a kid/teenager but I let it drop for three years, how I’m lazy and scared of hard work, how I always aim low in life, my fear that I can’t actually support myself as a fiction writer/playwright, etc., etc.

But I stuffed all that down for a moment, and I thought, “Dang, I want to try. I want to put in all the work and see where it goes,”

As I walked into the coffee shop, carrying my new bag that I bought specifically for the purpose of hauling my writing stuff (to the coffee shop), I greeted the barista who recognizes me because I’m kind of a regular. I’m the girl who comes in and always sits by the window and always gets a small cappuccino. Honestly, I found myself hoping she’d ask me what I do so I could tell her, “Oh, I’m kind of trying to become a freelance fiction writer,” She didn’t.

Kind of? Trying? As I look at how I talk to myself/about myself as a writer, I realize how serious this self-sabotaging thing is. I am becoming a freelance fiction writer. I think I might already be there. Just because I’m not making money yet doesn’t mean I’m not freelancing.

Every time I say, “It’s worth driving 20 minutes so I have better focus and can get more outlining and writing done today,” Every time I say, “Sorry, guys, not tonight, I haven’t written yet today,” Every time I’m reading a book and I highlight the things that stand out to me, things I want to emulate. Every time I pin and (more importantly) read articles on improving one’s writing on Pinterest.

This feels especially important to me right now, at this moment in 2017, when I’m 22 and still living in my parents’ house and trying to save up enough money to move back to a city I loved living in. I have spent so much of the last five-six years of my life lost and insecure. I spent most of those years caught up in a dead-end relationship and a vision of myself as a pathetic, stupid, little girl, which has kept me underachieving and unhappy.

I can feel how, over the last eight months, my mindset has shifted. Back in August, I made this post about the fact that I had officially decided I wanted to start taking my writing seriously. I guess this is a bit of a followup post. I keep praying about my writing and I feel like God is cheering me on, or at maybe doing the God-equivalent of Shia LeBeouf saying “Don’t let your dreams be dreams!!”

I want to. I want to fight for these stories. I want to fight to get them into the world, like beautiful little birds who will land on other people’s windowsills and become part of their lives. I. Love. Telling. Stories. And I love sharing my stories with people. So, please, don’t let me get away with talking like a flaky waffle. I’m already doing the work I need to do to be successful as a writer; I’m writing. Every day. I just need to be brave and keep at it.

So, yes. This is it. I’m a writer, and I’m going to be a writer. As long as that’s where I’m called, that’s where I’ll run. Hopefully, I can send you some story birds soon.

Thank you for reading this. God bless,

Clare

 

My first story bird. 

Check out the rest of Blogmas 2017

Blogmas 2017 – Day 17/31 – Good You Were Here Soundtrack

I love the idea of books having soundtracks. Not exactly in the sense that ‘oh, the book is a movie in my head and this is the soundtrack it would have.’ What I mean is more like, ‘here are the songs that inspired individual scenes in my book, songs that might give you more insight into this story’. Also, music is often a big part of my stories.

I have two Spotify playlists for every story I’m working on — a private one of all the songs I listen to while I’m writing and a more polished public one that is meant to accompany the book for my readers.

I’m particularly proud of the playlist I made to accompany Good You Were Here, so I decided to share it.

gywhsoundtrack

If you have Spotify, you can listen to the playlist HERE.

If not, I’ve created a Youtube playlist HERE.

Good You Were Here: Official Playlist

  1. Reaper – Sia
  2. Run and Hide – Sabrina Carpenter
  3. I Wanna Get Better – Bleachers
  4. Gun Song – The Lumineers
  5. Dust to Dust – The Civil Wars
  6. Come Softly to Me – The Fleetwoods
  7. Let Love In – The Goo Goo Dolls
  8. Hesitate – Steve Moakler
  9. Forever – Matt Hires
  10. Medicine – The 1975
  11. Black Bear – Andrew Belle
  12. Be Here Long – Needtobreathe
  13. Medicine – Daughter
  14. Me – The 1975
  15. My Oldest Friend – Andrew Belle
  16. Cancer – Twenty One Pilots
  17. I Will Follow You Into the Dark – Death Cab For Cutie
  18. For Now – Kina Grannis
  19. F2b – Safetysuit
  20. Gone Away – Safetysuit
  21. Uncle Jonny – The Killers
  22. I Found Love – Owl City
  23. Hello My Old Heart – The Oh Hellos

Hope you enjoy this playlist!

You can get a copy of Good You Were Here on Amazon. 

Thanks for reading, God bless!

Clare

 

 

Blogmas 2017 – Day 14/31 – Turning 23

Today I turned 23 years old and here, in no particular order, are 23 things I learned while I was 22:

  1. God’s timing is perfect. I still don’t believe that on an emotional level but I have come to trust Him enough to know it’s true.
  2. Gatorade can heal almost anything.
  3. You have to be patient with your heart. Just because you get on Bumble and try out that whole dating app thing doesn’t mean your heart will be in it. Go ahead and delete the app. You’ll get there someday.
  4. People heal and grow at their own pace, some faster, some slower, and that’s okay.
  5. I am doing better than I thought I was.
  6. I have more work to do on myself than I realized.
  7. Laziness feels gross. Being lazy gives you the emotional equivalent of going too long without a shower or without brushing your teeth. Bleah.
  8. You may never be able to get rid of all the anxiety in your life but you can learn how to manage it and be stronger than it.
  9. There are no free snacks on Spirit flights.
  10. There is no shame in going to counseling, even if you think you’re ‘not that bad’. It is empowering to take steps towards being a better you.
  11. You can have a crush on someone and not actually like them at all. I think I’ve learned this one before but I guess I needed to be reminded.
  12. Anxiety makes you feel sick sometimes. Tough it out. Eat some food. Listen to Fear by Ben Rector. Distract yourself. You are more real than your anxiety and you are capable of being kind to yourself in spite of it.
  13. I am, in fact, a Taylor Swift fan. (Sorry, Mom.)
  14. I am lactose intolerant. Goodbye, yogurt. I will miss you.
  15. You must proof-read your book. Mercilessly.
  16. It’s okay if there are some typos in your book. Yes, some people might judge you for it, but some people won’t even notice, you can always fix it, and it’s a learning experience.
  17. Pray. Every single day. I’ve learned this one before, too, and that’s okay.
  18. God is merciful.
  19. I do actually like my hair long. My hair may never be fully low-maintenance and that’s okay.
  20. Saute the onions first.
  21. If your headlight is burnt out and you don’t change it, you will eventually be pulled over.
  22. Sometimes all it takes is putting yourself out there. Be brave. Make the first move when you need to. It is worth it.
  23. It is good that I am here.

 

So grateful for my life, to BE alive, and looking forward to another wonderful year. Thank you, Jesus.

Thank you for reading, God bless,

Clare

Blogmas 2017 – Day 2/31 – NaNoWriMo Lookback

At the last minute (November 1st) I decided to do NaNoWriMo 2017. I tormented myself over it because I was supposed to be editing Being Daniel, right? But the truth is that I was getting really burnt out on Being Daniel. I decided it would be good to take a break and have some fun.

(For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is an online challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November.)

So I rolled up my speed-writing sleeves and started on a book currently titled Where Your Story Ends — a story that will tie together the plots of both Good You Were Here (my first book) and Being Daniel.

I’m so glad I did. Here’s the skinny:

Where Your Story Ends is about high schoolers Kenny and Peach. Kenny has his convictions called into question when he befriends a disabled man named Mal, while Peach struggles to find her place between her separated parents. It’s a little bit comedy, a little bit romance, and a lot learning to find hope in suffering. (I’m undecided on this but there may even be some supernatural elements.)

Around day 27, I was feeling a little bit bored and unmotivated, so I channeled my inner 13-year-old and went on elouai.com and made some avatars for three of the characters.

WYSEcharacters1.jpg

Some fun crazy facts:

  1. The first time I did NaNoWriMo in 2010, I wrote a story called My Hero which, I’ll be perfectly honest, is a total train wreck. It was basically a soap opera, but it did have a few good elements and I loved my main character — a girl named my Patricia who goes by Peach. I always hoped to go back and salvage some of that story. This year that’s exactly what I did.
  2.  I almost added Kenny’s storyline to Good You Were Here because a lot of the themes were very similar, but in the end, I’m glad I kept it to just Angela, Evan and Lazlo.

So how did my NaNoWriMo go? Was it tough? Was it fun? Did I win?

Yes to all three.

It was tough. About halfway through Week 3, I felt like I had run out of story to tell. I still had over 15,000 words to go and it started to seem like I was adding new scenes I’d just have to cut later. That was frustrating, but it was better than most of my other NaNo years where I got to 50k and wasn’t even halfway through the plot.

It was fun. I love this story. I think it will be a truly beautiful one and I hope I’ll be able to share it with the world sooner than later. (Being Daniel comes first, I promised!) It was also really fun to write about teenagers again. That might sound strange, but Good You Were Here and Being Daniel are both about adults ranging from their 20s to their 70s. The dynamic is different. With teenagers, there’s this youthfulness and innocence that is more enjoyable for me, even though the content is just as heavy as it is in my other stories.

I did win!

Here’s a graph of my progress throughout the month of November:

NaNo17Stats.jpg

It took me almost two weeks to even get on track. The goal is to write 1,667 words a day, which really isn’t that much, but I just couldn’t seem to get there and every day I was farther behind. Eventually, I did. And then I fell behind again. Caught back up. Fell behind. Over and over. But in Week 4, I finally buckled down and was able to finish on Day 29 with 50,030 words.

And there you have it. My NaNoWriMo 2017 lookback. I’m so glad I decided to do this. It was exactly what I needed. 10/10 will do it again. I’ve already made it one of my goals for next year. 

Speaking of which —I know it’s almost a full year away now, but I strongly encourage anyone who has ever even thought about writing a book to try NaNoWriMo 2018. It’s such a good way to motivate yourself to get the words out and worry about the details and typos later. Plus, it gives you a beautiful community of people all encouraging you and working towards the same goal to lean back on whenever you need it.

Thanks for reading, stay tuned for Blogmas Day 3 tomorrow!

God bless,

Clare

Blogmas 2017 – Day 1/31 – Gratitude

Obviously, throughout the month of November, I all but forgot this blog even existed. I’m not proud of that. True, I was doing NaNoWriMo which kept me preoccupied and had a lot of family events over Thanksgiving.

No excuses. I want to commit to keeping this blog alive and well. I woke up this morning with the idea to try doing Blogmas and I figured no better way to kickstart a good new habit than to have a monthlong sprint of blog posting.

A few things I’ll be posting about this month:

  • Lookback at NaNoWriMo
  • Update on Being Daniel (no, I haven’t forgotten about it!)
  • Reviews of some albums/movies/books.
  • Poetry
  • Sneak peaks at things I’ll be writing in the future.

Today I wanted to start this Blogmas off right with a brief list of things I’m grateful for right now.

gratefulfor.jpg

  1. 2017! I’m very grateful for how this whole year has played out. It has been a year of incredible growth and progress for me and I think that’s worth saying a little ‘thank you’ for. 2014-2016 particularly were hard years of growth through a lot of pain, so it feels good to finally win just a little.
  2. Good You Were Here. Publishing that book in May was something I never expected to do. A year ago the idea wasn’t even in my head. It has been such a blessing to me and opened doors I never dreamed I’d be walking through.
  3. My friends. I have recently grown closer to a few people and met some new people and that has been such an answer to prayer.
  4. My family, some of whom I am lucky enough to call friends, too.
  5. My counselor. Going to counseling has honestly been the biggest factor in how much growing I did this year. Having someone who is in my corner, helping me take steps forward in my life is something I never knew I needed.
  6. My laptop and phone. In a world where everyone scorns technology and says it’s ruining us millennials, I, for one, am certain my life has improved with these tools. With my laptop I’ve connected to people I couldn’t have otherwise. I have created so much — everything from fun photo edits just for me all the way to a full published book. With my phone I’ve become more self-aware and organized. I’ve been able travel and say yes to more because I have a portable, reliable GPS that can guide me exactly where I need to go.
  7. Almond milk chai lattes.

caribou1.jpg

Even though November is over and Thanksgiving has come and gone, I encourage all of you to take stock of things you have to be grateful for, too.

So there you have it. Day 1 of Blogmas: check!

If you have any suggestions for posts, please share! I have a list of ideas but I’d love to hear what you might like to read! I look forward to this learning experience and hope you enjoy coming along for the ride.

Merry Blogmas!

Clare

 

 

A Love Letter to God (Love Letters, 1)

Dear God,

Thank you. Thank you for loving me to here, for loving me into existence, for loving me first. Everything I have and am is because of you.

I am still only getting to know you and, even after a lifetime, I feel like I will still not know you very well. You are so deep and wide, so big, and I’m so little. I feel like I will spend my whole life mesmerized by the prints on your thumb, all the while thinking it was your face.

And yet, when I get to Heaven, when I see you face to face, I still believe I’ll recognize you. I may be afraid and trembling, but you’ll reach out and caress my cheek with your thumb, and I’ll know. All along, you were there, holding me.

I don’t deserve it. The perfect care you have taken of me all my life, your faithfulness, your sunshine and your stars — everything is a gift and all I can do is sit back and whisper, “Thank you.”

And somehow, it is enough. Somehow, I am enough. You see me coming from a distance and you run the rest of the way. You have waited through all of time and eternity to love me, so I will just stand still and let myself be loved.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Love,

Clare

 

ThrowbackThursday – Every Soul A Star

Originally posted to my Instagram @claremariespeltz

Probably about five years ago, I found the book Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass at a public library. It’s the story of three young people facing unexpected and unwanted major changes in their lives when they’re brought together by a total solar eclipse. I cannot stress how absolutely funny, hopeful, and beautiful this story is. At the end of the book, there’s a note from Wendy Mass where she mentioned that there would be a total solar eclipse in the United States in August of 2017. I remember reading that, coming off of such an inspiring story that described the beauty of a solar eclipse in such stunning detail, and I thought, “I’m gonna see that eclipse.” And I am. On Monday my dad and youngest sister and I will be driving as far as we can to see as much totality as possible. If you get a chance, you should find some eclipse glasses and view as much of this cosmic phenomenon as you can. And read this book. Trust me. 🌞🌛🌑