How I’m Preparing for NaNoWriMo [Preptober]

What’s up, everybody! My name is Q’Zion, and welcome to The Joys and Trials of a Christian Teen!

If you haven’t already heard, National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo fo short) starts on November 1st … and that means that it’s time to write a novel! In case you aren’t familiar with NaNoWriMo, here is the official website’s description of their Young Writers’ Program;

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, empowering approach to creative writing. The challenge: draft an entire novel in just one month. For 30 wild, exciting, surprising days, you get to lock away your inner editor, let your imagination take over, and just create!

Our Young Writers Program supports under-18 writers and K-12 educators as they participate in our flagship event each November, and take part in smaller writing challenges year-round.

ywp.nanowrimo.org

In other words, NaNoWriMo is a writing challenge–both for adults and kids/teens in the Young Writers Program–to reach a personalized word goal by writing every day until November 30th! No editing or revising; just writing.

I’ve “participated” in this challenge for the last couple years, but I’ve never actually gotten my project off of the ground. However, this year I’m planning on writing a 50,000 word novel, starting on Tuesday! Ambitious, right? But don’t be fooled; I didn’t decide to do this challenge unprepared. Today, I’ll be discussing some of the ways that I’ve been preparing for National Novel Writing Month! Let’s get started!

Established my goals for the challenge

For me, NaNoWriMo is an opportunity for me to write everyday, quit worrying about making my writing perfect, have fun, and produce a novel in the process. Although my blog has significantly increased the amount that I write, NaNoWriMo will push that to the next level, and I think that my word goal will really challenge me to increase my writing skills and hold back on my perfectionist ways. The challenge is really all about having a good time doing what I love to do; write. So that’s something I plan to keep in mind throughout the entire process.

Made a schedule (sort of)

Okay, so I haven’t made a schedule where I’ve figured out the exact dates and times that I will be working on my novel; after all, every day is different. But I do know that in order to reach my word count goal by the end of November, I’m going to need to write 1667 words every day. That means that even if I can’t write that many words on a day that I’m busy, I could make up for it on a weekend or on a day when I don’t have much on my schedule. Having an idea of how much you need to write to reach your goal–in baby steps–is super helpful to break down the task in front of you without it being too intimidating.

Gotten to know my characters

In the novel that I am almost done with drafting, I pretty much dove into the writing process with the idea and built on that from there. And while that was fun to try, that project has been at a stand-still for a while, now. Since writer’s block is not really an option when you have 30 days to write a novel, I did a little (no a LOT) more planning this time around. For each of my characters I filled out a questionare on who they are, what they like to do, where they live, their personalities, etc., and I think that really payed off. Now, I can picture how each of the characters look in my head, and I have a better perspective on who they are as individuals. And considering that characters are one of the most important parts of a story, that will be super helpful for me, later on.

Established my setting

Usually, settings aren’t something I do a whole lot of thinking about when I get an idea for a story. Like with my characters, I kind of go where the plot wants me to go. But this time, my novel takes place in a magical kingdom split into 4 (meaning there are four pairs of a king and queen.) Each kingdom has their own customs, geography, and citizens with their own personalities and behaviors. Therefore, establishing my complex setting for this story was a crucial part of making my novel’s first draft as well-executed as possible.

Prepared small rewards with my family

Right after I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo, I made sure I discussed it with Goodmommy. She was so supportive that she even purposed that every time I write 5,000 words toward my goal, she’ll give me 5 bucks! And every 25,000 words, we’ll go out for ice cream! Awesome, right?!? To be honest, I think getting family support and small rewards to look forward to will make NaNoWriMo so much more fun!

Outlined my plot

Finally, I outlined all of the major events of my plot. At first, I wasn’t planning on doing this AT ALL. But I’ve had a pint full of motivation lately, thank God, so I ended up going for it. Now that my plot outline is complete, it will most likely save me from running into writer’s block halfway through November. And as a writer, that’s almost always something to celebrate.


By now, I’m quite sure you guys can already tell, but I’m super stoked to get involved in the hype of NaNoWriMo. Although I realize 50,000 words is a pretty steep goal for my first time doing this challenge, I’m more than confident that I can reach it! Please tell me down below, are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? If so, what are some things you’re doing to prepare? And if not, have you ever heard of National Novel Writing Month?

Have a happy and healthy rest of your day, everyone! God bless you all and I’ll catch you next time! Peace in! ♡

My favorite aspects of autumn ♡

Hey, y’all! This is Q’Zion, and welcome to my blog, The Joys and Trials of a Christian Teen! ♡

Spring, summer, fall, and winter. The four seasons. Each one is unique in their own way; their own special events, holidays, traditions, and other characteristics that make up 1/4 of each year. While I love each one for their own reasons, autumn and winter have always had a special place in my heart. And since we’re practically in the middle of fall (already, I know) I want to explain some of the reasons why autumn is one of my favorite seasons. So without further ado, let’s get this party started!

1.) Warm and cozy colors

There’s something about medium green plants transforming into gorgeous orange, golden rod, and burgundy leaves as they float to the ground that’s so satisfying. All seasons have an aspect of nature that makes them unique, but the eye catching colors of autumn make the season stand out like no other.

2.) The spectacular weather

For me, warm weather is the least desirable weather to have. I mean, I’d rather be a little chilly than sweaty and uncomfortable, do you know what I mean? And while I love summer and winter, with both of those seasons, you either get one or the other side of weather. But when autumn comes around, the temperature is the perfect combination. Not too hot. Not too cold. Just how I like it.

3.) That homey reading atmosphere

By now, it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of all things literature. I’ll do it just about any place, at any time of the day, and obviously in any season. But there’s something about fall vibes that makes me want to read even more. And any bookworm who has spent a fall night cuddled up on the couch with their favorite snack and a comfort novel knows what I mean.

4.) One of my favorite holidays – Thanksgiving

I wouldn’t be the same person if it wasn’t for my awesome family. And during the holidays at the end of the year, we always partake in the tradition of having family gatherings, as often as possible. Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity for me to recap what and who I’m thankful for and blessed with, eat mouth-watering food, and do all the other autumn things I love with the people I love. There’s not many things in this world that are better than that.

5.) Photography is thebomb.com

Photography is one of my other hobbies that I don’t talk about as often, but I adore taking photos of sceneries, especially in the afternoon or just before a sunset. And if we’re being completely honest, autumn’s gorgeous colors makes it the perfect time to go on a photography splurge.

6.) The yummy food

Technically, the comfort of fall horderves goes hand-in-hand with Thanksgiving, but I still wanted to include it because autumn is certainly not the same me without them. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy eating a soup, a piece of turkey, or a pumpkin pie on an autumn afternoon? (Seriously though, I’m super curious!) Autumn food is definitely another thing that makes fall like no other.

7.) Napping paradise

As I mentioned earlier, the weather in autumn is as close as it could get to perfect. The sun isn’t usually out too early (or too bright, when it does peek out from the clouds) which makes it easier to take a power nap or sleep in without feeling like you’ve missed out on half of a day. And since I’m homeschooled, I take quite a bit of naps, so that’s a bonus!

8.) Simple and chic fashion

When it comes to fashion, I am all for finding outfits that are both stylish and comfy. And from classic cardigans to knee high boots, there is so much wiggle room to play with when it comes to autumn fashion.

9.) The decorations

From pumpkins, to candles, to fairy lights, to throw pillows, there are so many creative yet comforting ways to decorate for fall, both on the inside and outside of our homes. I think that autumn decor is the perfect way to set that homey, timeless vibe inside your home, which is perfect not only for fall, but also the preparation for the transition into winter.

10.) Being outdoors

When it comes to autumn, doing any fun fall activity outdoors just makes my day. There’s so much to do this time of year that it’s hard to make an excuse not to go outside. And with the awesome aspects of fall (many of which I have mentioned in this list) it’s kind of hard to do nothing when there’s so much fun we can have right outside our door.


Most of the time, it would take longer posts like this a little while for me to configure. But when it comes to fall, there is so much to love that it’s easy to find reasons why it’s so amazingly great! Please tell me YOUR favorite season(s) down below in the comments? Also, what’s your favorite aspect of autumn and/or the season that you like the most? I’m looking forward to everybody’s responses!

Have a beautiful and blessed day, everyone! Don’t forget that regardless of what you may be going through, we are all beautiful and wonderfully made. And that’s something we can all be thankful to God for! Peace in, y’all! ~ Q’Zion ♡

Book Review: From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

BOOK INFORMATION

Publication Date: January 14, 2020

Genre: Family, Mystery, Realistic Fiction

Age Category: Middle Grade (MG)

Pages: 304

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

SYNOPSIS

Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, hadn’t heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who’s been in prison for a terrible crime?

A crime he says he never committed.

Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth. Even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation from the rest of her family. Everyone else thinks Zoe’s worrying about doing a good job at her bakery internship and proving to her parents that she’s worthy of auditioning for Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge.

But with bakery confections on one part of her mind, and Marcus’s conviction weighing heavily on the other, this is one recipe Zoe doesn’t know how to balance.

MY TAKEAWAYS

I’m a huge fan of baking shows on the Food Network, and while I wouldn’t consider baking one of my main hobbies, I do like to get in the kitchen every once in a while. Therefore, I really enjoyed how the protagonist, Zoe, had an interest in baking and entering a kids baking competition as a sub-plot of the novel. But in reality, this realistic fiction story was about much more than baking.

The main conflict was when Zoe found a letter in the mail on her twelfth birthday . . . and it was from her father, Marcus, who she’s never met due to him going to prison when she was a baby. Although she’s skeptical about writing back to her father at first, she begins to build a relationship with Marcus through their back and fourth written conversations. He even gave Zoe a new R&B song for her to listen to in each of his letters, which Zoe dubbed “Little’s Tomato’s Playlist” after Marcus’ nickname for her. Cute, right?

I truly enjoyed Zoe and Marcus’ relationship throughout the entire novel, and it was really refreshing to have a book that contains representation of the many fatherless daughters (and sons) that are around the world, specifically so among members of the Black community.

Other topics like systemic racism, the Black Lives Matter movement, and other examples of racial inequality were addressed in a conversation between Zoe and her grandmother. But I admire Janae Marks’ ability to address these topics which can be hard to swallow in a tasteful yet informative way, making this book a great option for kids of all races to learn about the ins and outs of racism and its effect on people of color.

Throughout the story, Zoe had to keep her letters a secret from most of her family–except for her grandmother, whom she has a very close relationship with, and her best friend Trevor–in order to continue to get to know her father. I was rooting for Zoe throughout the entire novel to prove her father innocent of his crime. And while her actions of sneaking out to do so ended up coming back to bite her towards the end, when both her and her blended family’s secrets are revealed, the revolution of this inspiring tale was like the icing on the cake.

Overall, if you’re looking for a book that will tear your heart into pieces and glue it back together again, From the Desk of Zoe Washington is the perfect middle-grade novel for you. From the likeable characters, to the well-delivered hard topics, to the African-American author and protagonist, this heartwarming novel is an appetizing choice that most kids in their pre-teens and teens will happily relate to, while learning important lessons along the way!

Rating: ★★★★✯ (4.5/5 stars)

Recommended Age: for readers 11/12+


Although this novel happened to be a book that I stumbled upon during a trip to a book store, I’m so thankful to God that I gave it a chance! If anyone else has added this to their TBR list, or is contemplating doing so, I highly recommend that you give this novel a try, as well. But if you have already read this literature masterpiece, please tell me some of your thoughts on it–or some other book recommendations–down below!

Have a beautiful and blessed day everyone! God bless you all and I’ll catch you later! Bye, for now! ♡

Book Review #4: Witchlings by Claribel A. Ortega

BOOK INFORMATION

Publication Date: April 5, 2022

Genre: Fantasy

Age Category: Middle Grade (MG), roughly for kids between 10 to 14 years old

Pages: 352

Publisher: Scholastic Inc.

SYNOPSIS

Every year, in the magical town of Ravenskill, Witchlings who participate in the Black Moon Ceremony are placed into covens and come into their powers as full-fledged witches.

And twelve-year-old Seven Salazar can’t wait to be placed in the most powerful coven with her best friend! But on the night of the ceremony, in front of the entire town, Seven isn’t placed in one of the five covens. She’s a Spare!

Spare covens have fewer witches, are less powerful, and are looked down on by everyone. Even worse, when Seven and the other two Spares perform the magic circle to seal their coven and cement themselves as sisters, it doesn’t work! They’re stuck as Witchlings―and will lose their magic.

Seven invokes her only option: the impossible task. The three Spares will be assigned an impossible task: If they work together and succeed at it, their coven will be sealed and they’ll gain their full powers. If they fail… Well, the last coven to make the attempt ended up being turned into toads. Forever.

But maybe friendship can be the most powerful magic of all…

MY TAKEAWAYS

The purchase of this middle grade novel during a long-awaited visit to my favorite book store (see that post HERE) was very impulsive and based on three factors; I loved the cover art, I loved the synopsis, and I saw the stellar reviews. But it was a quick decision that I’m very grateful I made.

I honestly loved Witchlings a lot more than I expected to. A story filled with important lessons, tons of funny moments to keep readers laughing, and wholesome, well-developed characters, I think many more bookworms of all ages will find this a very rewarding read.

While I loved so much about this book, I have to admit that after the character introduction and Seven, Thorn, and Valley (the Spare coven) were assigned with their impossible task, the plot was a little uneventful and flat for a while–maybe the first 100 pages or so. Even so, I really wanted to keep going to see if the plot would enfold. And I wasn’t disappointed, as the fantasy adventure soon got off the ground.

There are a few epic magic duels, but I like how the author kept them family appropriate and fairly brief—even while using them to keep the novel action-packed and exciting.

After Seven and Valley–who was once her bully–decided to put their differences aside and work together, the entire story seemed to take flight through its many surprises, cliffhangers, and plot twists that kept me at the edge of my seat. Literally though, I was unable to put it down towards the end and read the final 150 pages—if not a little more—in one sitting. At this point in the journey I really came to an understanding of the meaning of each noted character and event–everything begins to click to create an impactful (yet heartfelt) ending.

The amount of character development among each of the main characters was a really great element of the story. As Seven’s bond with Thorn and Valley gets stronger, she seems to drift away from her former best friend Poppy, who stopped talking to her since she got into House Hyacinth, the coven of Seven’s dreams. It really proved that we can form the strongest bonds with the most unlikely (or different) people, and other times, friends go onto different paths. And that’s okay! If and when that happens, we should move on in love.

Me and the characters alike learned the importance of selflessness, never giving up (even through fear), facing intolerance head-on, forgiving and learning to love those who have hurt you, speaking up when you see someone you love being mistreated, and to cherish every moment as if its your last. I would agree that the protagonist, her friends, and her family serve as great role models to kids.

As my conclusion, Witchlings by Claribel A. Ortega is a humorous, exciting, and magical adventure that kids and adults alike can enjoy. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am praying that a sequel will come out in the next couple years. If you are a fan of the show The Owl House, the Harry Potter series or other teen prodigy magic-filled adventures, this one is for you.

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5, 5 being the best of the best)

Recommended Age: for readers 10 or 11+

Thank you so much for reading, my fellow bookish friends! God bless you all, and peace in! ♡