Sunshine Blogger Award

Photo Credit: Andrew Partain on Flickr Hi hi hi, lovely people! Today's post should be an interesting one. We're changing things up a little bit. The bright and bubbly Lo-arna Green nominated me for this award! I haven't done a tag in a while, and the questions looked great, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Thanks so much for tagging me in this one, Lou!

The rules are as follows:

  • Answer the eleven questions from the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate up to eleven wonderful bloggers and write eleven (possibly fiendish) questions for them to answer.

That's it! Without further ado, here are the questions and answers.

1. Have you ever gotten in to trouble with the law? Nah. I'm a little too boring for that nonsense.
2. Can you wink successfully? Oh, yes.
3. What is your mantra when you feel like throwing in the writing towel? Don't get it right, get it written.
4. What is something random about you that not many people know? I don't know how to ride a bicycle. I've just never learned.
5. What is the earliest memory you have? Sitting in a sandbox in North Carolina, shoveling sand into a baby bottle.
6. What is your nickname? Bri, The Smoll, Mrs. Gatsby.

7. What food do you love the most? Chipotle, probably.
8. What food do you hate the most? Salad. Some vegetarian I am.

9. Can you give a rundown of your writing process or do you like to change it up? My "process" usually involves a whole lot of caffeine and crying. Lately, I'm all about self-doubt. Technically, I think I'm a plotter, though I haven't quite gotten the hang of it--you know what? Let's just say I change it up. That's so much easier.
10. What is your favourite season? Autumn. No contest.
11. Who is your favourite tv character, past or present and why? Rupert Giles from Buffy. He's smart, handsome, loyal, and fiercely protective. Also, he's kind of my dream man, okay?

I'm half-asleep right now and about to go to bed, so I'm not tagging anyone. Feel free to answer these same questions on your own blog if you'd like! And if you do decide to answer them, go ahead and link me to your answers in the comments. :)

Are you going to participate in the Sunshine Blogger tag? How would you answer some of these questions?

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Have you heard of the Sunshine Blogger Award? See @brianawrites' answers to @loarnagreen's questions. (Click to tweet)

My Upcoming Writing Projects

Photo Credit: H is for Home on Flickr I think almost everyone knows by now that I’m waist-deep in the first draft of my YA urban fantasy novel Reflections. I’m over halfway through it now, which means I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. With that being said, once I finish this draft, I have no plans of slowing down. You all know me better than that.

No, once I finish Reflections, I have some other writing business I’d like to attend to. There are several projects rolling around in my head right now, and I’d like to get them finished sometime in the next year.

Someone on Twitter the other day asked me what my upcoming writing projects were. I realized I hadn’t shared them. I’m fixing that now.

Here’s a (very) tentative timeline of everything I’m hoping to get done in the next twelve months and ahead into next summer:

  1. Reflections—first draft done by June, second done by August, out in August or September. It’s been a long time coming. I just hope it’s worth the wait.
  2. The Palest of Pinks—first draft done by September, second done by November, out in December. A lot of you know about this book already, but I think it will be fun. Definitely lighter fare than Blood and Water and Touch.
  3. Blood and Water #2—first draft done by February or March, second by May, out in June. I have only the vaguest idea about this book, but I am excited.
  4. Blood and Water #3—first draft done by August or September, second by November, out in December. I still can’t believe I’m doing a series and I am so scared but also thrilled to be writing it.

Now that I look at all of that, it’s quite an ambitious timeline. Then again, I’m quite an ambitious woman, too, so maybe that works out. Of course, this is my ideal writing timeline, not accounting for real-world things such as work and travel and things of that nature. Still, it gives me something to shoot for, which helps me stay motivated.

What are your writing goals for the next year? How do you feel about these upcoming projects?

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.@brianawrites wants YOU to hold her accountable! Check out her writing goals for the next year. (Click to tweet)

Writing Resolutions for 2016

Like I mentioned in my previous post, 2015 was a big year for me. Here's hoping 2016 will be even bigger. This year, I want to do everything I can to improve my writing. I'm always looking to improve, and I won't give up on my dreams. I want to make some serious progress in the next twelve months. With that in mind, I'm sharing my list of writing resolutions for 2016. Writing Resolutions for 2016

It should come as no surprise that I'm a fan of setting goals. Last year, I set goals for my birthday and for the end of autumn. I keep a running goals list in my planner to remind me of what I'm working towards. Having these goals written somewhere that I'll see them every day keeps me focused and motivated. The goals apply to all aspects of my life, including health, finance, work, education, social intelligence, and even writing.

As we move into the new year, I'm more focused than ever on my writing career. With that in mind, here are my writing resolutions for 2016:

  • Publish Reflections. I'm working on the first draft now and making solid progress. I haven't felt this strongly about a novel in a while--I could't stop thinking about this story while editing Blood and Water. That's got to count for something.
  • Publish The Palest of Pinks. I wouldn't normally challenge myself to put out two novels in a year, but I have almost 30K of this one written already, so it shouldn't be impossible.
  • Update the blog one or twice per week. Three times per week is too much. If I go with once or twice a week (leaning more towards once), that takes off some pressure, and the quality of the posts will improve.
  • Post one vlog per week. For now, this frequency works. If I get much busier, I may have to scale back to one every two weeks.
  • Send out newsletter every two weeks. Or maybe once a month. I haven't decided. Let me know what you think, please!
  • Get more editing clients. Now that I'm writing and editing full-time, I need to do whatever I can to make sure I can pay the bills. If you know someone who needs an editor, feel free to give my name out!
  • Swap more work with betas. I owe so much to my Blood and Water betas. For Reflections, I'll definitely need some betas, and maybe even alphas once I've finished the first draft.
  • Take something out of the drawer. There are so many novels I tried to write in high school and college. Maybe, just maybe, one of them has potential. At any rate, they might be fun to take out and read--if nothing else, just to see how far I've come since then.
  • Get featured on a podcast. I don't know why I want to do this, but I definitely want to do this.
  • Do more interviews. This resolution is more marketing-related and goes along with the above. Still, since I used to be so shy, I want to work on opening up to people and sharing what's important to me.

These are just a few of my writing resolutions for 2016. I'm sure I'll come up with more as the year goes by, and I'll try to keep you all updated on my progress as well. Let me know what resolutions you have for the coming year so we can hold each other accountable!

What are your writing resolutions for 2016?

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What are your writing resolutions for 2016? Check out @brianawrites' goals for the next year. (Click to tweet)

Merry Christmas!

This is just a quick post to wish everyone a happy and safe holidays! I'll be in West Virginia by the time you read this, and I may or may not have internet. Still, I'll try to respond to comments on this blog and mentions on Twitter as soon as I can! Merry Christmas!

To all my followers who celebrate Christmas, may your days be merry and bright! Whether you live somewhere with snow or not, I pray that you have a wonderful, warmth-filled Christmas with delicious food, quality time with friends and family, and memories to last a lifetime.

No matter what gifts I receive this year, I'm already thankful for all the support and encouragement my online friends have given me this season. You'll never know how much your kind words and generosity mean to me. I know I keep repeating myself, but that's because it's true, and I want to make sure that everyone knows how truly grateful I am.

God bless you all, and Merry Christmas to each and every one of you!

What are you thankful for this Christmas? Tell me about it in the comments below!

Thankful

I've been planning a post along these lines for quite some time now. In the United States, today is Thanksgiving Day. With that in mind, I thought that now was as good a time as any to count some of my blessings. Thankful

Here's a few things from the past year that I'd like to give thanks for:

  • getting a place of my own
  • the courage to move to a new state and try making it on my own
  • publishing a novel!!!
  • making friends in the writing community
  • traveling to New Orleans
  • taking trips to Disney
  • exploring Chicago
  • becoming more comfortable in my own skin
  • developing my skills as a writer
  • working as an editor
  • PEOPLE ACTUALLY READING AND REVIEWING MY PUBLISHED WORK!!! (can't get over this)
  • my cat's tail surgery, recovery, and continued stability
  • the chance to move home to be with my friends and family
  • (subsequently, an end to loneliness and one of the lowest points of my life)
  • SO MUCH COSPLAY
  • getting to do what I love for a living (more or less)
  • meeting my goals
  • coffee--though honestly, I'm grateful for this every stinking day
  • a positive outlook
  • dedication and passion
  • a plan for my future--though it may change!! and more than anything...
  • a future that looks brighter with each passing day

If you're reading this, friend, I'm grateful for you. This past year has been one of the weirdest and most difficult times in my life. Still, I don't think I'd go back and change it if I could. The people I've met, relationships I've cultivated, and experiences I've come through have made me a stronger, more capable woman. A year ago, I had no idea how far I would come; how happy I'd be.

Everything's coming up Briana.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.

What are you thankful for this year?

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In a post as warm as buttered biscuits, @brianawrites gives thanks for well, everything. (Click to tweet)

I Confess

I have a confession to make to all of you. Lately, I've let some things fall through the cracks, and I want to apologize. I've taken on a little water and am now doing everything I can to bail myself out before the boat capsizes.

I hope it's not too late.

I Confess

In the past year, I've experienced a lot of change. From moving to another state to leaving my job and moving back to the same state I came from and finishing a novel, these past twelve months have been full of challenges, surprises, and personal growth. I couldn't have made it this far without your support. Really, it means the world to me.

In the past year, I've also made promises I couldn't keep. Regretfully, I offered to read and review books, write guest blog posts, film weekly blogs, continue my blog posting schedule, and so much more. I was unable to deliver on most of these promises, and for that, I am sorry.

A lot of you will think I'm being too hard on myself, but I truly feel guilty. If I have offered or promised anything to you in the past year and have yet to follow through with it, please forgive me. I'm still getting settled into my life, but I still feel terrible. I feel like I've let you all down. I'm confessing because I feel awful and I want you all to hold me accountable from here on out. If you want something from me and haven't heard back, shoot me an email and give me a little nudge. I would really hate for anyone to feel ignored or neglected!

At the end of the year, in my annual review post, I'm going to share some ideas I have for staying organized and following through in the coming year. Right now, I'm saying I'm sorry and asking, once again, for your forgiveness and mercy.

I love each and every one of you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

What tips and techniques do you use to keep things from falling through the cracks?

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How do you keep important tasks from slipping through the cracks? @brianawrites wants your input! (Click to tweet)

Autumn 2015 Goals Update

autumn-leaves This post is the one that I've been struggling to write for a week and a half. It's going to be honest because transparency is important to me. I'm also a little afraid to hit publish.

Unlike my post about depression, the shortcomings I will outline are entirely up to me. I'm sharing my problems because I need you lovely people to help hold me accountable to achieving these goals.

Back in August, before I moved, I outlined a series of goals I wanted to accomplish this fall. The goals seemed simple enough. I was more than confident that I'd have them fulfilled by October.

Here's everything I've accomplished thus far:

  1. Publish Blood and Water
  2. Take another trip to Chicago
  3. Write the first draft of Reflections
  4. Throw or attend a Halloween party
  5. Be featured on a podcast
  6. Break even on book sales with Blood and Water
  7. Write a spooky short story
  8. Audition for a play
  9. Survive Dragon Con
  10. Finish Twitter for Writers blog post series

That's it, you guys. 2/10. In short... no bueno. I am not a happy camper.

If you know me at all, you know I loathe standing still. I know I shouldn't feel this way, but my lack of progress toward these goals has me feeling weak. I'm low in self-esteem.

The goal I'm the most ashamed about not reaching yet is the publication of Blood and Water. In spite of how busy I've been, I can't help feeling like I've let some people down. Of course, I am actively working toward completing it. I've almost finished my second round of edits. And my completion of number six is contingent on my completion of number one, so... I'm just thinking out loud.

I digress.

I've felt bad about myself for a few weeks because I still have a long way to go. Still, I think writing this post has helped a little bit. What I'm trying to say is this: I could use some encouragement. Also, if you feel like you're not accomplishing as much as you could be, you're not alone.

And autumn isn't over! So, yeah. There's that.

Don't count me out just yet.

What words of wisdom do you have for me? What are you feeling down and out about lately?

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In a pretty personal post, @brianawrites comes clean about feeling inadequate yet optimistic. (Click to tweet)

Instagram Lately (#4)

Here are some of the Instagram photos I took last week! Make sure you’re following me there – I’m @brianammorgan! Also, if you decide to do a feature like this, too, please let me know! 

#amediting with my trusty #amwriting buddy nearby. #BloodAndWater

A photo posted by Briana Mae Morgan (@brianammorgan) on

 

I'm so excited to finally get my hands on this book! #horns #book #books #bookstagram #bookworm

A photo posted by Briana Mae Morgan (@brianammorgan) on

 

 

The #sky was pretty tonight. #sunset #nature #clouds

A photo posted by Briana Mae Morgan (@brianammorgan) on

 

Guess who's filming a vlog! #selfie #selfies #vlog #vlogger

A photo posted by Briana Mae Morgan (@brianammorgan) on

 

Instagram Lately (#3)

Here are some of the Instagram photos I took last week! Make sure you’re following me there – I’m @brianammorgan! Also, if you decide to do a feature like this, too, please let me know!

Started #dragoncon2015 day one off as Kimmy Schmidt!

A photo posted by Briana Mae Morgan (@brianammorgan) on

 

Cosima! #dragoncon2015 #orphanblack

A photo posted by Briana Mae Morgan (@brianammorgan) on

I MET @johnscotbarrowman AND HE IS SUPER SWEET!

A photo posted by Briana Mae Morgan (@brianammorgan) on

 

Tourist Moriarty. #dragoncon2015 #cosplay

A photo posted by Briana Mae Morgan (@brianammorgan) on

After four days of #dragoncon2015 I almost fell asleep on my best friend.

A photo posted by Briana Mae Morgan (@brianammorgan) on

Instagram Lately (#2)

Here are some of the Instagram photos I took last week! Make sure you're following me there - I'm @brianammorgan! Also, if you decide to do a feature like this, too, please let me know!

The only thing @mother_of_thor and I agree to disagree on: Buffy pairings. #sestrasforlife A photo posted by Briana Mae Morgan (@brianammorgan) on

 

  This plaque is one of the best presents I've ever received.   A photo posted by Briana Mae Morgan (@brianammorgan) on

In honor of #NationalDogDay here are my weird babies, with a cameo by my dad.

A photo posted by Briana Mae Morgan (@brianammorgan) on

 

Still 110% in love with this thing. A photo posted by Briana Mae Morgan (@brianammorgan) on

 

YOU GUYS. #BloodAndWater releases in the next two weeks! #indiebooksbeseen #indieauthors #indieauthor #ya

A photo posted by Briana Mae Morgan (@brianammorgan) on

 

Autumn 2015 Goals

autumn-2015-goals In case you haven’t noticed, I have been a busy Betty.

Then again, when am I not? I have to keep moving—I can’t sit still for too long, or else I get restless. I’m sure you know that.

In order to track my progress, I like to set long-term and short-term goals. While I didn’t quite accomplish everything on my 23 Before 23 list, it helped me stay on course. With that in mind, I sat down and drafted a list of goals for the next couple of months.

Autumn is my favorite time of year, so what better way to celebrate than by meeting some challenges head-on? In honor of fall being my favorite season, here are ten goals I’d love to reach:

  1. Publish Blood and Water
  2. Take another trip to Chicago
  3. Write the first draft of Reflections
  4. Throw or attend a Halloween party
  5. Be featured on a podcast
  6. Break even on book sales with Blood and Water
  7. Write a spooky short story
  8. Audition for a play
  9. Survive Dragon Con
  10. Finish Twitter for Writers blog post series

If you think you can help out with any of these goals, please let me know! In the months that follow, I’m sure I’ll come up with a few more, but these goals are at the forefront of my mind right now. As always, I appreciate all the love and support you all give me!

What are some goals you’re working on now?

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What do you want to accomplish this fall? Check out @brianawrites’ professional goals for the season. (Click to tweet)

My Semi-Secret Struggle

Girl crying beside a river This post is one that I've wanted to write since I started this blog. Until today, I haven't had the courage to hit publish.

My name is Briana Morgan, and I suffer from depression.

I've been battling the blues since I was seventeen. As days of sadness turned into weeks and months and even years, I tried to wrap my mind around this new reality. When would I feel better? When would I be cured? Would the existential loneliness ever go away?

The short answer to these questions was never and no. I don't mean to say that my depression hasn't gotten better over time, or that I don't have good days, but one of the biggest misconceptions about depression is that it happens once and disappears. Like any chronic illness, depression can rear its ugly head at any time, without warning or explanation.

I've done a lot of things in the past few years that have forced me to step outside my comfort zone and test my personal limits. Studying abroad in London, graduating from college, moving to a new state, and living on my own are all experiences that have definitely changed me as a person. These adventures have made me a stronger, more well-balanced individual, but they haven't entirely cured me.

One of my favorite ways to cope with depression is through writing. I'm sure many other writers feel the same way, and Ksenia Anske even wrote a blog post about it. I also like watching movies, listening to music, and going for walks to take my mind off whatever I'm dealing with at the moment.

I'm going through a rough patch, but I'm not giving up. I'm going to keep fighting. I've come too far to back down now.

If you're suffering from depression, please know you're not alone. I'm writing this post to help break some of the stigma, and to make it clear that you can still be successful when you're feeling worthless. A lot of people seem to think I'm one of the most positive, productive people in the world, but that's not always the case. As long as I keep moving, I'll consider that success.

Have you ever struggled with depression? What are your tips for dealing with it?

In a raw, personal blog post, @brianawrites reveals her semi-secret struggle. What are you struggling with? (Click to tweet)

Quote Challenge: Day 3

I was nominated for the quote challenge by the wonderful Mariella Hunt! This challenge requires the nominees to follow three steps:

  • Post your 3 favourite quotes, one each for three consecutive days.
  • With each post nominate three bloggers for the challenge.
  • Recognize the blogger who nominated you.

Here’s today’s quote!

writing desk

I tag:

That's all for this challenge. If you decide to participate, please let me know!

Quote Challenge: Day 2

I was nominated for the quote challenge by the wonderful Mariella Hunt! This challenge requires the nominees to follow three steps:

  • Post your 3 favourite quotes, one each for three consecutive days.
  • With each post nominate three bloggers for the challenge.
  • Recognize the blogger who nominated you.

Here's today's quote!

woman jumping on the bed

I tag:

  1. Jenny @ Blots and Plots
  2. Marissa @ The Brazen Bibliophile
  3. Christine @ Better Novel Project

Stay tuned for another great quote tomorrow!

Quote Challenge: Day 1

I was nominated for the quote challenge by the wonderful Mariella Hunt! This challenge requires the nominees to follow three steps:

  • Post your 3 favourite quotes, one each for three consecutive days.
  • With each post nominate three bloggers for the challenge.
  • Recognize the blogger who nominated you.

Here's today's quote!

Tom Hiddleston Quote

I tag:

  1. Brett @ Brett Michael Orr
  2. Rae @ The Wallflower
  3. Shelly @ Keystrokes and Closed Doors

Stay tuned for another great quote tomorrow!

Two Awards and a Tag

Tea set  

I'm over halfway finished with Blood and Water, and I've been writing like a madwoman cooped up in the attic (bonus points if you get that reference). With that being said, I was thrilled to be tagged by Alyssa for these two awards and reading tag - I could really use a break.

You'll find my answers to her questions below, as well as a breakdown of the rules for each section. I'm not tagging anyone because I'm a rebel or because I love you all equally and can't possible choose favorites (you decide which). Enjoy!

Liebster Award

  1. What First World problem would you solve? FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out. If I could find a way to fix that one, I would do it right away.
  2. You have the magical power to create any one drink you want. ANY. Which drink? A drink to give me clear skin and endless energy.
  3. Best life hack you've learned? I always drink a lot of water before bed so I have to pee in the morning. Usually I have no trouble getting out of bed.
  4. Ice cream or cake? Ice cream.
  5. Chocolate or coffee? COFFEE
  6. Which tribute in the 75th Hunger Games would you sponsor and why? Peeta because I love him waaaay too much.
  7. Weapon of choice? A jewel-encrusted sword.
  8. Describe your ideal pet dragon. Bubble-gum pink, bright blue eyes, and as deadly as it is beautiful.

Creative Blogger Award

Rules:
~Nominate 15-20 blogs and notify all nominees via their social media/blogs
~Thank and post the link of the blog that nominated you (very important)
~Share 5 facts about yourself to your readers
~Pass these rules on to them
  1. I just hit 30K in Blood and Water, but I’m still afraid I’ll never finish.
  2. I’ve never seen Jurassic Park because I used to have ungodly dinosaur-themed nightmares.
  3. I believe in giving art away for free.
  4. I don’t know how to ride a bicycle.
  5. I spent five weeks in London two summers ago and have been dying to go back ever since.

Books and Reading: A Book Challenge Tag

Rules, as always:

  • You must answer all the questions
  • Repost the picture with a link to Noors blog and the persons blog who tagged you
  • You may tag people if you would like, but it isn't required.
  1. current TBR? I have about a thousand books to beta read, and then I’m reading Sara Gruen’s latest novel. 2. Book (series) you would like to see as a movie? I would KILL for a remake of Nineteen Eighty-Four directed by David Fincher. 3. Overhyped book/author? I’m going to go with Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. I LOVED What Alice Forgot, but I had a hard time getting into Big Little Lies. 4. The best book series you will ever read? Probably Harry Potter. Come at me. 5. Book to movie adaption that was really bad? It makes me cringe just thinking about what happened with One Day. The book is amazing. Go read that instead. 6. Last book that made you cry? All of them make me cry, but let’s go with Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (which I just reread for the thousandth time). 7. Book you're reading right now? Give it a quick rating. Lots of promising beta reading. J 8. A book series that you just didn't like? The Divergent books. Eep. 9. Book that you haven't read yet, but really need to? I read the first book in The Raven Cycle, but I really need to go ahead and finish that series. Stievater is great. 10. All-time favourite author? F. Scott Fitzgerald, Oscar Wilde, George Orwell, Daphne du Maurier, and Gillian Flynn.

Thanks again to Alyssa for nominating me! If you're not following her blog, you need to check it out. Feel free to do this challenge if you'd like, but like I said, I'm not nominating anyone for the sake of time.

Vlog: Q&A Video

Your questions, answered! If I didn't get to your question or you have something else you want to know about me, feel free to ask in the comments! Thanks to everyone who submitted a question - I had SO MUCH FUN filming this vlog.

RELATED LINKS:

What did you think of these questions? What questions or comments would you like me to answer in my next video?

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Writer @brianawrites answers questions about reading, writing, and life in this Q&A vlog. (Click to tweet)

23 Before 23 Update

Cherry Soda in a Glass with Two Straws It's been a while since I talked about my 23 Before 23.

In my last post on the subject, I made a list of 23 things I wanted to accomplish before my 23rd birthday. Since my birthday is now only three months and one day away (June 17), I thought it might be a good time to update you on my progress.

Long story short - I haven't accomplished as much as I'd hoped to by now. I could really use some help.

Once more, here’s my list of 23 Before 23:

  1. Stop drinking soda. I've cut back a lot, and at the time of writing this post, I haven't had soda in five days or so. (Thanks, Chris!)
  2. Read 23 books. I think I've read about seven so far. Eek.
  3. Pay off my cat’s veterinary bills.
  4. Make a dent in my student loans. I need to make this goal more specific somehow... Any suggestions?
  5. Host a dinner party. Oops. I actually forgot about this one.
  6. Get published. Working on it!
  7. Join a club. I’ve signed up to volunteer with the local theater. Fingers crossed!
  8. Comment on at least one blog post per day. I need to get better about this one, too.
  9. Trade guest posts with three bloggers. One down, two to go!
  10. Mentor someone. WHO NEEDS A MENTOR??
  11. Get a new laptop. Found a MacBook Pro for pretty cheap. I just need to save some money.
  12. Save $1000 dollars. I was close, and then I hit some financial hardship. *sighs*
  13. Go ziplining. I found the place, but I don't want to go alone.
  14. Try out for a play. See number seven.
  15. Consistently post three times a week.
  16. Say “yes” to invitations.
  17. Volunteer.
  18. Contact one writer, blogger, or person I admire per week.
  19. Compile a blog directory. Ava Jae’s blog directory is absolutely gorgeous and an excellent idea.
  20. Support my favorite authors and beloved writing tweeps.
  21. Stop biting my nails.
  22. Make my bed every day. Why is this so difficult?
  23. Visit New York again. Except I don't really want to do that anymore - I want to go somewhere new instead.

So, there it is. I have my shortcomings. I'm running out of time to accomplish all these things, and I'm going to need help and support from all of you. Please keep me accountable to this list! If you could ask me how I'm doing with it every so often, I would love you forever.

Well, more than I already do, anyway.

I'm also thinking about starting some kind of club where we all try one new habit or routine each month, like a thirty-day challenge. Let me know what you think!

What tips can you give me to help with this list? What would your list look like? What do you think about my thirty-day challenge club idea?Tweet tweet:

Three months before her birthday, @brianawrites discusses the items on her list that have yet to be crossed off. (Click to tweet)

TEACHER'S PET Excerpt

Photo Credit: Bunches and Bits {Karina} on Flickr

Steven Dorian considered himself to be the best-looking teacher at Miller High School. In his mind, there was no contest. The youngest hire in Miller history, he had already earned a reputation by the end of his first month. He heard the other teachers whispering in the hallways. The silences when he passed. He recognized the silence from his high school days. Unfriendly.

Steven didn't care. They could talk all they wanted. All the gossip in the world didn't change the fact that he was more qualified than they were. Overqualified, some might say, and they would be right.

He sat behind his desk and thought about his position. He didn't belong there. He deserved to be teaching British literature in one of those ritzy schools uptown--the university, even. He reflected on the concept of paying one's dues with grim determination. He would make it in the world.

It was then that a student slid a note across his desk.

Steven picked up the note. He looked up, saw blonde hair--the girl had disappeared. He hadn't seen her face. Even if he had, he was still learning faces. There was no guarantee he would recognize her.

He opened his hand. The note was warm, though from his touch or from hers, he had no idea. "Mr. Dorian" was scrawled across the front in sloping cursive. She had left her name off. The mystery thrilled him.

He opened the note. The writing inside was sloppier, scribbled in haste and slanting right. The ink was smeared in some places. He laid the paper on the desk and smoothed the creases with his hand. His eyes skimmed the page. As he read, he felt his eyebrows shoot up into his hairline.

All that from a student?

Steven let go of the note. He leaned back in his chair and let his arms fall by his sides.

He was in trouble.

#

The next day while his students were taking a quiz on Christina Rossetti, Steven checked out every blonde girl in the room. Although he hadn't seen the face of the girl who left the note, none of the girls in his class looked right to him. He couldn't say for certain how he'd know which girl was right. He suspected he'd just have some kind of gut feeling.

Steven took out his tattered copy of Misery and leafed through it. Every page had at least one underlined section. The book had been his favorite when he was in college and he hadn't opened it since. Looking through it now, he felt a little guilty. He also felt a strange kinship to Paul Sheldon, the protagonist. Like Paul, he often feared becoming the object of a psychopath's obsession. After all, who could blame him or her for being attracted to someone as remarkable as Steven?

Half an hour passed. Most of his students had finished already. They brought their papers to the front of the room and laid them on his desk before returning to their seats. Once they were back at their desks, Steven set down his book and scanned their handwriting. Nothing matched the note.

Ten minutes before the bell rang, the last student turned her test in. Lola Dolores, blonde-haired and long-legged, sashayed to the front of the room and added her test to the pile. He looked up from his book. Their gazes met.

"Did you get my note?" she asked. Her voice was barely audible. She was leaning over Steven's desk, and he had to make an effort not to look down her blouse.

Steven feigned ignorance. "I'm not sure what you're saying."

"The note I left on your desk yesterday. I was wondering if you read it."

"We'll discuss this after class."

Lola smirked. Steven watched her walk back to her seat. Then, he picked up Misery and went back to reading.

The next ten minutes passed slowly; torturously. The whole time Steven rehearsed what he was going to say. He had never been approached by a student before. He knew he wasn't supposed to engage in any inappropriate behavior, but his class was full of seniors. If Lola was eighteen, then surely it would all work out. Besides, what were the odds of his boss or anyone else finding out? He wouldn't tell if she wouldn't. No, of course not.

Lola Dolores was attractive. There was no doubt about it. Steven had been single for a long time now and he could use the flirtation. It was all fairly harmless. Everything would be fine.

Once the bell rang and students filed out of the classroom, Steven felt his heart punch the inside of his sternum. It was time to speak with Lola. He slipped a bookmark into Misery and slammed it shut. Right on cue, Lola made her way toward his desk. She smelled like strawberries. The scent spoke before she did.

"You wanted to see me?"

No, Steven thought, she wanted to see him. He tapped his fingers on the top of his desk. "I read the note you left for me."

"Yeah?" she asked. "What did you think?"

He studied her face before going any further. She looked much older than her chronological age. She was gorgeous, too. Who could blame him for considering an affair with her? There was something strange behind her eyes, too. It took Steven a moment to identify what it was. Fear.

"You aren't in any trouble, if that's what you're afraid of."

Lola's shoulders relaxed as she exhaled. "That's a good thing."

Steven knew she was waiting for him to continue. He cleared his throat. "Why don't you have a seat? What's your next class? I can write an excuse for you."

"Just lunch," she said. Instead of returning to her desk, Lola sat down on the edge of his, swinging her legs back and forth like a child. He forced the association to the back of his mind. She didn't look like a child. No, not at all.

He got up from behind the desk and walked over to stand in front of her. He was only a little bit taller than she was when she was sitting. For now, he kept a respectful amount of distance between them. "I'm assuming all of this is concerning your grade."

"In part," she said.

"What do you mean?"

Lola smiled. "Mr. Dorian, I'm sure you've heard everyone talking about the fact that you're the hottest teacher in school. If not, well... you should know that it's the truth."

Steven flushed with pride. Of course he'd already known that his reputation preceded him. Still, it was nice to have his suspicions confirmed--from the mouths of babes and all. "I've heard some rumors."

"I plan on majoring in literature when I go to college," she said, "so you can understand how important this class is to me." Lola looked up at him through her eyelashes. They were longer and thicker than he'd noticed before. Then again, he'd never gotten to look at her up close. "I'm tired all the time from cheerleading practice, so I might not give it my best effort sometimes, but that doesn't mean I don't care." She licked her lips. "I need to do well in this class."

"As long as you do the work, you should be just fine." He had an idea what she was getting at, based on the content of the note, but he wanted to hear her say it. It was better if she said it.

"I'd like to arrange some extra credit opportunities with you," she said. "Just in case my academic performance isn't what it should be. Do you still have the note?"

Of course he had the note. It had taken up residence in his front pocket. He'd read it over and over the previous night until his eyelids got too heavy for him to keep open.

A smirk tugged at the corners of his lips again. "How old are you?"

"Just turned eighteen. Why do you ask?" She was toying with him. There was no way a girl like Lola could write the kind of note she'd given him without knowing why he would want to know her age.

"Tell you what," he said, leaning closer to her, "if you'd like some extra tutoring, I could certainly arrange that. I'd like you to stay after school tomorrow and go over the rest of the Victorian poets with me. How does that sound?"

"Perfect," she said.

He couldn't agree more.

To read the rest of the story, please click over to my Wattpad. Thanks!

What do you think of this excerpt? How do you feel about Wattpad?

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"He wouldn't tell if she wouldn't. No, of course not." Teacher Steven Dorian is in trouble in this story by @brianawrites. (Click to tweet)

23 Before 23

Happy Birthday Cake with Lit Candles
Photo Credit: Will Clayton on Flickr

This year is going to be a big one for me. I can feel it.

In a few short months, I’ll be 23 years old. It’s hard for me to believe it. While 23 isn’t a milestone birthday, I still think it’s an important one. I want to make it count.

This year, I decided to make a list of 23 things I want to do before turning 23. Some of the items on the list are serious, some are silly, and some won’t make any sense to anyone but me. All that matters is that I’m striving to achieve these goals before June 17, 2015. By posting them online, I trust you all to hold me accountable. I’m also hoping some of you can help me cross a few things off. If you think you can help with any of these, please let me know in the comments section!

Now, without further ado, here’s my list of 23 Before 23:

  1. Stop drinking soda. I know it’s bad for me, and I don’t even want to think about how much extra sugar I’m putting in my body. As much as I love Coca-Cola, I want to go cold turkey.
  2. Read 23 books. I don’t have much free time anymore, but I really want to do this. It’s not far off from my 2014 Reading Challenge Goal, and that took a whole year, but I know I can do it.
  3. Pay off my cat’s veterinary bills. Right after I moved to Florida, my cat had to have part of her tail amputated. That was expensive. Once it started healing, she cut a different part of her tail, and we had to go to the emergency clinic. That wasn’t cheap, either. I want to do everything I can to keep my good credit, so I’d love to pay her bills off sometime before my birthday.
  4. Make a dent in my student loans. At last calculation, it should take me about seven years to pay them off at my current income bracket. Ha. I’d like to shave a little time off that estimate, if possible.
  5. Host a dinner party. Now that I have my own place and can cook a few things, I think it’s time to have people over for a meal. Plus, it sounds like a super grown-up event.
  6. Get published. Whether it’s a short story or a novel, I want to get something else of mine published before turning 23.
  7. Join a club. I’ve lived here for a few months, but I still don’t know many people. I want to look for a book or writing club to join so I can participate in the community… and do things besides watch Netflix when I get home from work.
  8. Comment on at least one blog post per day. In 2014, I realized the importance of engagement in building community. I want to contribute more this year, so I’m going to start leaving my thoughts on posts I enjoy.
  9. Trade guest posts with three bloggers. If you’re reading this post and you think you might be interested, let me know in the comments. I’d love to do a swap!
  10. Mentor someone. I’m not sure in what capacity, but I’d love the opportunity to encourage someone else.
  11. Get a new laptop. Admittedly, this one should come after numbers three and four.
  12. Save $1000 dollars. I know I need to have some money set aside in case of emergency, and I need to get serious about making that happen.
  13. Go ziplining. I’ve been a few times before, and I adore it. Also, there might be a place close to where I live.
  14. Try out for a play. It’s been too long.
  15. Consistently post three times a week. I’ve been sporadic lately, and I want to get back to posting regularly.
  16. Say "yes" to invitations. Like most writers, I can be a hermit sometimes. When I get invited to do things, I'm going to make it a point to say, "yes."
  17. Volunteer. Whether it's at the local retirement home or animal shelter, I want to give back.
  18. Contact one writer, blogger, or person I admire per week. I'm afraid of reaching out to people, and I have no idea why. Some people mean a lot to me. I need to let them know how much their work inspires me. It might make their day.
  19. Compile a blog directory. Ava Jae's blog directory is absolutely gorgeous and an excellent idea.
  20. Support my favorite authors and beloved writing tweeps. Pretty self-explanatory.
  21. Stop biting my nails. It's a terrible habit.
  22. Make my bed every day. I'm not sure why, but I feel better when I look into my room and see that my bed in made. Explain that one, psychology.
  23. Visit New York again. Because that city is totally calling my name.
There they are: my goals and resolutions to accomplish before my 23rd birthday. As of this post going live, I have five months and 12 days to get these things done. Challenge accepted.
What do you think of these 23 goals? What are some things you'd like to accomplish this year?

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Instead of New Year's Resolutions, @brianawrites has a list of 23 things to do before turning 23. (Click to tweet)

Would you ever make a list of birthday resolutions? See @brianawrites' list here. (Click to tweet)