Wonderology – OYAN SW 2014

I think everyone else has posted about this already, but it took me a little longer to organize my thoughts. So here goes.

Last Saturday, I got home from the week of OYAN epicness that is the Summer Workshop. For those of you who don’t know, OYAN is a writing curriculum and the Summer Workshop is the week long conference where writers gather from all over to listen to speakers and hang out with people they know from the online forum. It is truly an amazing experience. This was my fourth year going.

The OYAN SW is a place where you can talk about your characters, novels, life, movies, tv shows, books, etc. and have people understand exactly what you mean. That is the most wonderful feeling in the world.

This year’s theme was Wonderology.

This year was truly wonderful. It was the first year I went by myself and the first year I led a critique group. I felt scared about several things; plane troubles, leading a critique group, and old friends not being there. Plane troubles happened. Boy, did they happen, but I got there. A friend that I’d never met before met me at the shuttle(after I was 4 1/2 hours later than I thought) while everyone else was in the welcome meeting and I can’t tell you how much that meant.
The rest of Monday night just got better. I met old friends and new friends. That night was amazing and I won’t forget it. (I can’t give away the details though. 😉 )

Tuesday started the speaker sessions and this year they had optional sessions for the 18+ students. I found that to be so helpful. After lunch I met my critique group, the Nyragongo Crater, A.K.A. the Exploding Dog Food Bowl, and the Cotton Candy Candy Cane Volcano. At first, I didn’t think I would be a good leader. After all, I’ve only finished two novels, entered the OYAN contest once, and I haven’t critiqued as many things as I would have liked to. I also had several people who it was their first SW and I wanted to make an awesome critique group impression for them like my past leaders had done for me. I’m pretty sure we were all nervou because we were really quiet until one of the excerpts involved unicorns.
Oh and I can’t forget that Tuesday was Frozen and Supernatural day. So I was Elsa in the morning joining a flashmob singing Let it Go, and then part of a SPN photoshoot later on in the day when I became a hunter.

Wednesday was pretty cool. The speakers were all amazing(as they always are). Critique group got a little louder and a little more intrigued with the stories. And on top of all the wonderful things it was Divergent day. I dressed up as Dauntless and we did a photoshoot. Then after the evening session, we played a game of Dauntless capture the flag in the dark.

Thursday dawned Welcome to Night Vale and Doctor Who day. It was also Lord of the Rings, but I didn’t have a costume for that. That morning Mrs. S called everyone in costume on stage. Since WTNV had switched days last minute, it was just me and another friend. At first she didn’t come on stage and so I called her over the microphone and pulled her up on the stage with me. There we stood amongst all of the DW and LotR people. After I changed into being the TARDIS, I crashed a Tenth Doctor/Eleventh Doctor sass off about which one of them broke the TARDIS. It was beautiful.
In critique group, we all suffered through the black moment chapters. We also learned that one of our members was going to kill off a very cute little boy that we all loved in her story later on. And we got to hear more about the unicorns. Our critique group picture consisted of being spies and hunting unicorns which I’m going to Photoshop in. :3
There was also Open Mic Night, kind of like a talent show. I have to say, my favorite part was when one of my critiquers played and sung ‘I See Fire’ by Ed Sheeran from The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. I like his version better than the original.
During evening free time I spent the night with one of my friends, plotting out a character lounge and how we would turn it into a novel co-written by the two of us.
After she had to go back to her dorm, I sat with some of the girls on my floor to watch this ridiculously hilarious movie. I think it was worse than any movie ever in existence, but that’s what made it funny. I think our laughter woke everyone up.

Which brings me to Friday, the last day. Usually, the last day is depressing because you know people are leaving within the next 24 hours. I donned my Tim Burton Cheshire Cat costume and went around with my friend who dressed as the Mad Hatter. I gotta say, I think we had the best costumes that day. 
Critique groups brought out the Showdown. The big battle between the hero we had come to know and love and the villain. Which I think all but two of the excerpts included death(One of the deaths being a character I really liked that happened to have the same name as a character of mine). By this time, I wasn’t nervous about leading a critique group at all. It was so much fun and everyone in the group was wonderful and had amazing stories. When it ended, needless to say, I felt really sad. We finished early and just sat around talking about our stories and anything else that came to mind.
That night after sessions, a couple friends and I went to the gym and played ninja. Once we got out, we decided to race. from one wall to the other. In our socks. A sock sliding race. And her sister got it on film.
Once we went back to the dorm, we played mafia. Several rounds of themed mafia, actually. We played as our characters(my friend’s getting jealous that her sister’s character was flirting with my character who was his girlfriend), BBC characters(very confusin when you have Sherlock, the Doctor, Arthur, Merlin, companions, and John in the same room together with Captain Jack Harkness as the moderator), and DW characters(Captain Jack Harness for the win).

And last but not least… Saturday morning. The dreaded morning that signifies the wonderful week coming to an end and going back home. The morning was filled with hugs, goodbyes, and hurried words as people packed and brought out luggage. Last minute hugs and conversations took place as my alarm to go to my shuttle went off. I hadn’t really lost it yet. I try not to loose it while I’m still there, but once the shuttle pulled away from the curb, the tears came. Of course they came. They come every year.

I was going home, but leaving my home away from home with my OYAN family. I think of everyone there as my family. The crazy, fun-loving, extended family who completely understands you. The wonderful people of OYAN.

Until next year my friends. I’m already counting down the days. 




If any of you have noticed the address of my blog, https://musicpluswritingequalslife.wordpress.com/, then you’ve probably guessed music and writing are both important to me. I’ve talked about both before, but today I talked with a lady at the gym who asked me some different questions about why I like the music I like.

She asked:
1. What kinds of music do you listen to?
2. Why do you listen to them?
3. What do the lyrics mean to you?

Of course, I had just finished an exercise class and my brain was focused on water, not on talking. Needless to say, my answers were a bit jumbled, but it got me thinking. So I’m gonna write out more acceptable answers to those questions and maybe y’all could leave a comment with your answers or thoughts.


What kinds of music do you listen to?
This is a hard question for me. In the car, it’s whatever’s on one of two main radio stations I flip between or the four others if there’s nothing good on my main stations. At home, a mix of songs from almost twenty different genres. I don’t have a favorite genre or even a favorite band, but to give you an idea here are my top twenty songs right now. They’re all from different bands or else I’d have to give you my top 100 for you to get an idea of my tastes.

1. Say When – The Fray
2. Demons – Imagine Dragons
3. Stubborn Love – The Lumineers
4. Summertime Sadness – Lana Del Ray
5. Love Me Again – John Newman
6. Say Something – A Great Big World
7. Glass – Thomson Square
8. Counting Stars – OneRepublic
9. My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark(Light ’em Up) – Fall Out Boy
10. Every Teardrop is a Waterfall – Coldplay
11. Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Green Day
12. Point at You – Justin Moore
13. Pompeii – Bastille
14. Carry On My Wayward Son – Kansas
15. One Man Army – The Classic Crime
17. Gold – Wake Owl
18. I’m Still Here(Jim’s theme) – John Rzeznik
19. Let it Go – Idina Menzel
20. Closing Time – Semi Sonic
(Bonus: Applause – Lady Gaga)

They are all awesome and you should listen to them. 😉


Why do you listen to them?
At first I answered ‘for the beat’, but then I realized that was about 75% untrue. After a moment, I managed to say ‘for the lyrics’. Sure, on the radio, I listen for the beat cause I’m trying to pay attention to driving. But… In reality, if any of my friends post cool lyrics as a status I google them, read the whole song, and then go listen to it. Some songs, it is because of beat. If a song has a catchy beat then I’ll most likely listen to it. A lot of times though, it’s because of lyrics. Either because they relate to me or my writing in some way.


What do the lyrics mean to you?
Well because I’m a writer I like lyrics that mean something to me personally and lyrics that mean something to my stories and characters, or as I call them, charries. Songs like Say When, Demons, and Let it Go are songs that have personal meanings because I relate to them in some way. It’s a little harder to describe how more personal songs relate, but I’m sure you know ’cause you have songs like that. As for writing, I have songs for different charries, for stories themselves, for couples, and ones that have inspired stories. For example, the song It’s Time by Imagine Dragons inspired the first novel I finished, Darkness Before Light, so it will always have a special place in my heart. The songs 22 by Taylor Swift and Summertime Sadness are perfect for my charrie Camryn because they pretty much describe her life and personality. Then there’s ones that I drabble to or write songfics to with my online friends.
And last but not least, don’t forget those fandom songs that you put on replay after seeing a movie or tv show. Carry On My Wayward Son, Stayin’ Alive, Let it Go, or Heat of the Moment anyone?


So there you have it. There’s some of the reasons music means so much to me. By the way, I might have an addiction to music, but that’s not a bad thing right?



So I’ve always thought about doing a writing blog. That way I would have somewhere to dump my ideas and talk about my characters and post drabbles and things like that. I’m thinking I may do that with this. It wouldn’t be 100% of the time. Just a few posts here and there when I’m bored, frustrated, or happy about an idea or character. This is one of those times. I’m getting all of my notes and critiques together to start editing my novel Puzzle Pieces for the OYAN Summer Workshop next month. (Yes, I only left a month for editing an entire book at least once. I’m not very good with time management.) I’ve get in general critiques from four or five people and in depth critiques from one or two. That’s a lot more than usual. Normally, I don’t want anyone to read my stuff if it’s in rough draft form. (If you write, then you understand.) But when I read the general critiques when I got them back, they weren’t as bad as I was expecting. They said things like more emotion (which is one of my common first draft issues), more character development on certain people, and to fix a few holes in the plot. That’s pretty good for a book written during NaNoWriMo. So maybe it is true. Maybe I’m finally getting better at this writing thing. I’ve written over 215,000 words so far and that’s just with the numbers off the top of my head, not everything I’ve written. So hopefully with the second draft of this book some of those issues will be fixed. (More will probably come from editing, but let’s not focus on those.) Wish me luck with this race against the clock. ~M+W=L


I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m a young, aspiring, teen author. Now if you would have asked me if I liked writing five years ago… Well let’s just leave it at I would have thought you were crazy. Then my mom and I were at a homeschool conference picking out curriculum for my freshman year. One of the booths caught my eye. One Year Adventure Novel. That’s when it all started. Long story short, I conned my mom and dad into buying this writing curriculum for me. My parents still don’t know what came over me that day. I hated writing and I was asking for them to buy a writing curriculum?! What was up with that?

Well, now I’m so glad that I did. It’s been the biggest thing in my life since then. Hey. I can make up people in my head without my friends calling me crazy! And you should see my search history…

But that’s not why I fell in love with writing. (Okay, so I do like making up characters in my head…. But that’s beside the point. xP) I fell in love with the fact that I could create something from my imagination. I’ve always been one of those people that loves art projects and making things from what you have around the house. Writing didn’t require anything besides a paper and a pencil, or a blank document on Microsoft Word. 

The OYAN curriculum came with access to a forum, too. At first I didn’t understand it; I’ll admit. I thought these people were insane. They put their imaginary characters into what they called lounges and made them talk. Weird. I didn’t get on the forum much until a few months later. I tried one of the lounges and found them to be pretty helpful. Yeah, they’re fun too. 

Being the introvert that I am, I didn’t talk much with the other people on there. I just let my characters talk to their characters. I didn’t want to start a conversation with other people. Well, that changed. I started a lounge with another girl. She lived halfway across the U.S. Slowly, we talked more and more. Then I started staying up late just to talk to this person who was a lot like me. Not too long after that I started lounges with some other people. Again, I couldn’t help myself from staying up to talk to these people. They were awesome!

I struggled with planning out my first book, but I wrote a short story that I loved (and still love to this day). The more I talked to those people, though, the more I liked writing and working on my book.

I started attending the crazy webinars with the teachers (I hate missing them if I have stuff on those nights) where I could chat with my friends. (Of course, we always talked about what the teacher was talking about.) The people on the forum, internet avatars and authors of the characters I loved, became friends and forum siblings. 

Then came the Summer Workshop. In 2011, I went to my first one. I actually met the people I knew online! They were real! There were also speakers there that taught me so much more about writing. There were critique groups, too. Intimidating, but oh so helpful. It was wonderful and amazing.

Since then I’ve attended the Summer Workshop last year and the one a couple of weeks ago. Again, I got to meet and hangout with people like me. People that are my family. I also learned so much as to fill a notebook with notes each year.

To sum up, OYAN and the Summer Workshops are such a big part of my life and I can’t imagine life without it. The people and characters I’ve met, along with the stories I’ve read, are so amazing. I’ve grown as a writer through my short stories, songs, poems, and stories. I’ve finished my first rough draft and am editing it at the moment. OYAN has taught me so much.



Why do you do the things you do?

I attended a webinar tonight about writing and publishing. The teacher brought up a really good point. Why do you write? Is it just to get published and famous? Do you want people to remember you? Do you have something important to say? Or is it because you like doing it?

That made me start thinking about all of the things I do. Why do I do them? Well in my case it’s a very simple answer. I do them because I like to. Not because I have to or because other people want me to, but because I like to do them.

Over the years I’ve gotten involved with a lot of different things through 4-H and local organizations. I’ve looked into careers of (and these are only the ones I can remember) veterinarian science, biology, and marine biology before settling on graphic design. Believe me it wasn’t easy making that choice. I’ve turned down a couple of full-ride scholarships to be able to do what I like and I’ve gotten a lot of flack for it too.

At first I was real leery about who I told what I was doing. I’m not getting a degree and a lot of people just couldn’t understand that, especially with my background. (A lot of people think of me as the good girl and straight A student.) But I realized a few things. 1. I was trying to go to college, get a job, and do things that would please everyone. 2. Pleasing everyone would never happen. 3. I wouldn’t be happy with other people’s plans for me. So I decided to throw all of that out the window and start from scratch.

That’s when I decided on graphic design. I’ve always loved creating things and working on the computer and there they were combined.

I’ve also developed a passion for writing fictional stories. Which is quite funny because I started out hating writing. Now look at me. Two short stories, multiple songs and poems, a blog, and three novels-in-progress later and I love it.

So all in all, I know why I do things. Because I love them. What about you? Why do you do the things you do?