2015 Bucket List


During the last couple of summers, I’ve made bucket lists of things I want to do between June and August and it’s so fun! So, this New Year’s, instead of making “resolutions”, I’m going make a bucket list!

“Bucket list” sounds so much more positive than “resolutions”, don’t you think? To me personally, the word “resolutions” reeks with the phrases “need to do better” “try harder” “you were a failure this past year, don’t mess up this year.”

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“Bucket list” sounds like “you can do it” “I am more” and “achieve.”

I’m going to be realistic with myself as I write these. Then I’m going to hit print, tack it on a wall, and remember it. Coupled with my “word for the year: Completion”, I can’t wait to see what I’ll check off by 2016!

2015 Bucket List:

  • Publish 5 new short stories on Booktrack.
  • Dye my hair an unnatural color.
  • Complete my sci-fi short story “Extraction” and Booktrack.
  • Stay coffee-free for another year.
  • Continue regular school attendance.
  • Read ten new books.
  • Create a legit draft of “100 Levels of Immersed” before NaNoWriMo 2015.
  • Seriously purse self-publishing with “100 Levels of Immersed”.
  • Attend summer ComiCon.
  • Survive the last of the parents’ divorce and the aftermath.
  • Watch and write about anime as a good hobby.
  • Keep Skyping/staying in touch with my internet friends.
  • Keep a better financial budget.
  • Start yoga along with dog-walking.
  • Hand write letters to friends.
  • Become more self-confident.
  • Kill 100 scorpions over the summer.
  • Get up earlier in the morning.

Bucket lists are fun and exciting; let’s see what I can cross off by next year!

~Jamie

A 2014 Recap


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At the edge of 2014, I was really looking forward to leaving behind the emotionally traumatic remnants of 2013 with a hope that the new year would be more stable and peaceful. I wrote all about in this post, if you want to catch up to speed with my life’s story.

My life has been refreshingly calm and slow the past year, to the point of being mundane at certain points–and this has a good thing! A lot of fun, exciting things did happen too and I want to document some of them now!

Throughout the spring and early summer, I blogged about my life’s little happenings and things I had learned from the past year on how to be happy. I blogged about the movies I was managing to watch, too. I did my 100 Favorite Movies blog series which carried went from March to June! That’s easily my biggest blog series ever!

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I went to my very first Comic Con in June, and in July I turned twenty.

I continued using Booktrack, too. I entered a contest over the summer and two months later won the grand cash prize of 5k, leaving me completely floored. It was a huge esteem booster to realize my work had value. I self-published my third short story and officially called myself a published writer when it received positive feedback. One of my upcoming goals of this year is to write and Booktrack more short stories!

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click to read!

This past summer I also started attending a school to acquire my GED. My knowledge of math jumped from “how do you do fractions?” to doing geometry and the fancy math with letters. Ha. I defeated the Language Arts test in late fall! I’m still attending school and am hoping to take the Social Studies test in the next couple months.

Speaking of school, Mom put my little brother in a charter school this year, as well, where he’s been flourishing around people. It was a huge change for my family, as he’s the first child to attend a real school, but it has been a tremendous blessing in many ways.

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I jumped from watching Studio Ghibli to full anime TV shows; I loved it so much that I started to blog about it and then made a completely separate blog for anime posts alone! Anime revived the creator in me, to different degrees! I even made up my own 42 Question Studio Ghibli tag.

A fun part of my past year was getting to Skype with James nearly every week since the beginning of summer. I’ve been quite secluded from a social life these past two years, as I haven’t attended a church or done much of anything. So it was really nice to have a friend to literally talk. Thank you so, so much for taking all that time this past year to Skype with me, bro! It ‘s been so fun and I’m really grateful for the time we get to share talking and fanboy/fangirling together! XD

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we’re basically Kyoya and Tamaki XD

I wrote a lot of long, big posts right after summer. Two were incredibly hard to share: my Harry Potter story and my unpopular opinion of Doctor Who’s recent seasons 5-7. It was good to finally get those on the table. Others were more fun, like my massive collection of Studio Ghibli reviews, 15 Tips for Conquering NaNoWriMo, and my 6 Tips to Quit Procrastination Without Leaving Your Computer. After winning the Booktrack contest, I was also FINALLY able to host my first blog giveaway, which was an experience to say the least!

Outside of catching a cold, then being sick on and off, my autumn was ALL about school and NaNoWriMo. I wrote a story completely for myself this year and even participated in a three-month blog party, which I rarely do. December was a very low-key Christmas and here I am typing this up now.

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This past year has felt off but peaceful at the same time. Thankfully, the horrible experiences of 2013 have become a muddled jumble of memories that I can’t see clearly anymore. 2014 could be described the year of Waiting. When they got married, my parents signed a covenant marriage license, meaning they must live separately for two years before they can go through with a divorce. This waiting game is almost over! I’m really looking forward to this new year because the divorce will finally be over and hopefully that chapter in my life will at last close.

No matter what 2015 holds, I want to stay positive, and write as much as possible. Outside of that, I can’t wait to see what happens next!

~Jamie

A Happy Week


This last week was very nice in most respects!

Until I Wake Up coverThis week I really wanted to do something on Booktrack, so I wrote a two page short story as a writing exercise and then published it! I titled it “Until I Wake Up” which I think was very fitting. I tried writing something strange and haunting, from the perspective of a child, so I’m hoping I succeeded! It was a nice twenty-four hour project; I enjoyed spending time making a cover and creating an ambiance soundtrack.

Since this is my third short story I’ve published on Booktrack, I feel like I can start calling myself a self-published author. 😛 Here is another link to the story and the following is my synopsis: “A sensitive child serenely revisits the edge between sleep and non-existence, calmly beholding a familiar dark world stretched out before her.” I enjoyed this story quite a lot, I might return to it later!

At school, I took four practice tests for the GED to see how well I would come out; I got two “Likely To Pass” results, a “Too Close to Call,” and one “Not Likely To Pass” with my math, which I expected. LOL! I suck at math. However, I will hopefully go in to take the Language Arts test soon, as that is the one I tested the most strongly in. It was encouraging to see how close I am to getting three-fourths of the test accomplished!

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I’m still madly in love with Studio Ghibli right now. On Pinterest, I’ve decided to do a 42 Day Ghibli Challenge all for myself! I’ve found two different tags which I’ve slightly edited and combined to completely feed my Ghibli obsession. I’ve even made a separate board for it! I’m very excited to be doing this for myself at last! For any Ghibli fans out, you can check out my board here. (>>>Ghibli food is the best looking in animation! This makes me hungry! >>>)

On top of everything else, the weather dropped out of the triple digits this past week; but it was only noticeably cooler exactly on October 1st! It is now in the late sixties when I walk the dogs and I hardly break a sweat! It’s been absolutely lovely and has made the last half of this week very enjoyable! I can’t wait for it to get a little cooler in midday so I can start wearing my hoodies!

ced91bb732c9803c211e1b311c3994b7Outside of a flooding toilet (that was disgusting and very stressful,) my week has been exceptionally great! My DVD copy of Captain America: The Winter Soldier even came in the mail (the only other DVDs I think I’ll definitely have to own by the end of the year will be The Wind Rises and Guardians of the Galaxy!)

I’ve decided not to write my LotR post till after I’ve finished rewatching them; however I will be seeing Return of the King soon, so writing will commence pretty soon. 🙂 Rewatching the films have been worth it, though, as I’ve been forming more solid opinions on the characters. (I’ve seen the two Hobbit movies by now, too, so I will discuss them as well!) I’m looking forward to forming my thoughts on paper at last.

The rest of my weekend will be me reorganizing my DVD shelf, hanging laundry, watching Spice and Wolf S2, playing Star Wars Angry Birds, and prepping for school on Monday. Here’s to another wonderful week like this; I hope you all had a good week too. 🙂

~Jamie

Three Tips For Booktrack Users


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Since last October and the Halloween Short Story contest, I’ve wanted to write a post like this but never really felt my blog had the right audience for it. So, now seems like the perfect time! Although I won’t be revealing all my secrets (ha!) I do want to share 3 tips that I use when creating a Booktrack and will continue to use in the future. (Not writing tips; just elements to think about when creating your audio track in the Booktrack Studio.) I hope they can be helpful to someone.

(I would like to note that I’m not being paid to write this or to promote Booktrack–this is something I want to share on my own! To my writing friends still unsure about Booktrack, you’ll want to read about my first experience with it below. It’s the age of the e-book, after all.)

  • Consistency is Key

This sounds broad, but knowing what type of sound experience you want to deliver should be key and is really helpful later on. Before starting to edit sound effects into your story, figure out what you’re aiming for in regards to the reader’s audio experience. Do you want only an ambiance to accompany your story, wafting music and the buzz of a restaurant without too much emphasis on what the character is doing at his table waiting for his meal? Or do you want it to sound real, where little sounds are highlighted to give a closer tone to reality?

If you can figure out what you’re aiming to deliver, it makes all the work afterwards much easier and in the end you can then deliver a more consistent audio experience. I personally lean towards detail (which is funny because I AM NOT a detail-oriented person) but I like to make the reader feel like they could be standing right there, hearing the car door slam, hearing the footsteps crunch, hearing that character move like they’re real. Of course, we are all different with our own preferences; in the end, create what YOU want to hear–simply keep in mind that most of your readers will notice if you highlight the sound of a cup being set on the table but a little later leave out the sound of a plate being dropped in the sink.

  • Music/Atmosphere Is Important

It’s all about sucking the reader in–you don’t want something to startle them out of their reading pace so much so that they’re completely taken out of the experience. This is applies to sound effects of course, but especially key for music, because music is an entire language all to itself. So take your time to listen. Use different key words in the library search bar to come up with different atmospheres and score genres. Try to listen to the entire length of music if your serious about it to make sure there’s no shift in emotion that doesn’t fit that part of the story.

Keep in mind that, depending on the speed your reader is reading, the music might last longer for them then your normal speed, so you want to be aware of what it all sounds like before you add it in–just in case. (This is the same for ambience music and long-lasting sound effect tracks, say, a busy city block. Find one of decent length that, in a slower reading pace, won’t loop so many times the reader actually notices!) I strongly believe music can make or break a story and it was music that was one of the things I fretted over most right before publishing my contest entry .

  • Vocals to the Minimum

I learned this after creating my short horror story; don’t overdo screams, gasps, coughing and other noises that your characters make. I’ve learned that a reader’s idea of vomiting, screaming, heavy breathing ect. is always much more realistic sounding in their mind– in most instances, they will automatically insert it themselves, kinda like normal reading!

In my contest entry, I didn’t add any effects of the main character’s vocal noises, I only emphasized where Hugh Howey specifically noted the wails of the dying and a simple track of chaotic cries to keep the atmosphere realistic. That was what the main character was hearing and I wanted to make the reader the main character–without grossing them out or the audio sounding too unrealistic. In the end, I’m not saying, ‘You should never use any vocal sounds ever, ever, ever,” however I am saying think twice before using them too much.

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When I first discovered Booktrack, the first thing I did was take two intense chapters from a very old fan-fic of mine and dramatize them. It was a near death scene followed by a hospital scene; scenes that I’d written over and over, trying capture in words how the characters felt in the most dramatic moments of their life. That night, I played with the sound of fire and rumbling thunder and then echoing footsteps in the hospital hall and the beep of the heart monitor. It was quite fun!

However, when I finished it and read it to myself–I got chills. My story suddenly turned from words and became something real–I could hear my childhood characters, my friends, moving and I could feel the rise and fall of tension with the music. Never have those two chapters felt more real then at that moment and it was stunning! To all the writers who are hesitant about Booktrack, I suggest you take a piece of your work and try it just like I did and see how you feel when you read it completed! I will count that experience as one of the best in my life as a writer.

~Jamie

I Won


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Read the official statement here!

See my winner’s page here!

When it was announced that I was the official Soundtrack Winner of the Hugh Howey Booktrack Contest, I tumbled down the stairs to my mom and managed out, “I won it!” We started jumping up and down and hugging each other. It felt surreal yet thrilling, especially on top of my poor nerves. I’d been apprehensive the day before and slept so badly that entire night. Not even Lady and the Tramp had helped calm my spirit enough to sleep soundly. Somehow, all the suspense was both lifted yet escalated at the same time!

I feel so blessed and incredibly excited and even surprised that Hugh Howey liked what I’d added to his story and thought it worth the grand prize. As a writer, I know the protectiveness one can have over how someone else is interpreting or viewing your story and characters; so when I added the music and sound effects, I wanted to honor and build up what he had already so skillfully written, while having fun myself. I feel so happy that that must have come across in my work in some fashion! That feels very fulfilling–especially against so much good competition!

So, three months since first learning about the contest and thinking “ooh, sounds fun, what’s stopping me from giving it a try”–I’ve won 5,000 dollars! On top of that, I’ve won an opportunity to co-produce another Hugh Howey book on Booktrack! How quickly this changes everything! I have money I can save for editing and publishing purposes, money that I can put into making myself a real author in the near future. I have the opportunity to work with a well-established author as well, which will be so good for me and I hope I learn a lot from him! This all IS HUGE, especially since I come from a background where I was told by authority figures and the pulpit it wasn’t God’s will for a woman to have a career outside of marriage and motherhood, leaving me so insecure about my abilities. What an incredible boost this is!

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I want to say a big thank to my two test readers; my sister Kayla, who told me it sounded great when I was insecure about the music selections, and James, who pointed out a couple spots of inconsistency that were easily fixed and also assured me it sounded great! Your feedback was very encouraging to hear before I hit that publish button! I would also like to thank Booktrack and Hugh Howey for hosting such an amazing competition! What a summer this has been for me!

I hope to very soon write a post on my process and tips for creating a Booktrack; I think it would be fun and I hope to encourage any of my fellow writers to check this program out if they haven’t already. I also hope to claim my prize money soon! Haha!

When it gets down to it, I’m feeling so stunned and thrilled and curious about the future and just–wow. I’m really floored.

I know I will sleep good tonight.

~Jamie