Day in the Life of a Writer | a NaNo Photostory

I’m not sure how many of you know this, but I’m a writer! And I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month for the third time — you can learn more about my project here.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to make a photostory showing what my life is like in November. Really, this is just another way to procrastinate writing my novel. I’ve spent about five days putting off writing by working on this photostory instead. But that’s beside the point.


I wake up on the couch where I’d fallen asleep the night before. A blanket is tangled around my legs and my laptop sits on my chest. Stale food from yesterday’s midnight snack lies on a plate on the floor. I stretch, rubbing the gunk out of my eyes.

What will I do today? I wonder. Maybe I’ll go skateboarding with Tracy or work on my Tumblr blog.

And then: NaNo. The thought crashes down on me and I scrunch up my eyes, like not being able to see will make it go away. It doesn’t.

I first heard about NaNoWriMo from a boy in my English class. “You write a novel in a month, and then you have the rest of the year to edit and think of a new story.” He’d made it sound so easy, as if it wasn’t a big deal. And maybe it wasn’t for him. Apparently, he’s participated — and won — every year since sixth grade. But I’m finding it quite difficult to make myself write everyday. The month is almost over and I’ve still got a few thousand words left.

I moan. I don’t want to write today. Just twenty-four hours to rest my mind and fingers, is that really too much to ask?

Maybe taking a shower will help clear my head. Eyes half closed, I flop off the couch and plod upstairs to the bathroom.

The hot water welcomes me like a hug. Steam rises around me, making dew appear on the tiled shower walls. I’m almost fully relaxed, water drumming on my shoulders, worries washing down the drain, when I begin to count the droplets as they plop against my skin. Five, ten, fifty, a hundred. I imagine that each one is a word I have to write. Soon, all my anxiety about not finishing in time pours back over me.

I shut the water off. I need to get back to my laptop and fictional world.

Wrapped in a towel, I pad into my room and sit on the bed. Water drips off my hair and trickles down my spine, making me shiver.

Write! my brain urges.

Procrastinate, I reply, grabbing my phone from the bedside table and scrolling through social media. The first post I see is by the legendary writer in my class: “Just finished #nanowrimo with a few days to go! #writer #50k” I groan, shoving my phone under the pillow so I won’t be distracted by it. I should be happy for him, but the update just reminds me that I’m falling behind on my own novel.

Coffee might kickstart my creativity. I throw on some clothes, toss my phone and wallet into a bag, and head to the front door. I grab my skateboard from a bin in the hallway before slipping out.

Cruising down the sidewalk on my skateboard, I picture my characters in my head. There’s Taz, an alien with long blue hair who will do anything to help his twin. Zen, his brother, who becomes infatuated with a girl from Earth and crosses the galaxy to find her. And, of course, their best friend, Lulu. She’s brilliant and a bit eccentric, and goes to the new planet with the brothers to keep them out of trouble.

I know and love these characters, so why can’t I get put their thoughts and adventures on the page?

The chilly November morning offers no answer.

I prop my skateboard up on a bike rack and stroll into the cafe, inhaling deeply. The aroma of coffee and cookies is heavenly. A bored girl stands behind the counter, sighing and tapping the surface with her glittery fingernails. She perks up immediately when she spots me. “Hi, I’m Claire, what can I get you?” she recites, smiling.

“Hey.” I study the menu mounted on the wall behind her. The special today is peppermint hot chocolate. That sounds delicious. “Can I have the special?”

“Sure thing!” she beams. “It’ll be just a moment. Can I have a name for the order?”


“Wow, that’s such a nice name!” she gushes. “It fits you perfectly.” This girl is so friendly, I can’t help but like her already.

“How’s your day been?” Claire asks while she fills a paper cup with cocoa. She sounds genuinely curious.

“Oh. I’m a little stressed,” I confide, fishing a few dollars out of my wallet. “I’ve got to write a lot today for NaNo. Have you heard of it?”

Claire’s eyes light up. “Oh, yeah! They’re doing a NaNo thing today at the library. A lady came over this morning and order a ton of drinks.” She points to a flyer on the wall that promises free coffee and snacks. “You should check it out. I was going to do NaNo this year, too, but I’ve already got work and college taking up all my time.”

Free food? I’m definitely going to stop by the library on my way home. It’s just a block away. “Yeah, thanks, I’ll do that,” I say, taking my cocoa. I raise the cup to my lips. Chocolatey, minty goodness fills my mouth. “Have a good day, Claire.”

The library is quiet, as always, and nearly empty. There’s just a girl browsing and a middle-aged woman on the couch with a notebook in her lap. A writer, I guess, here for the refreshments. A plastic cup rests on the cushion beside her, and a repulsive plaid bag leans against the couch by her feet.

I cross the room, the thick carpet swallowing the sound of my footsteps. There’s a table with plates, cups, and a box of teabags by the shabby couch. To my dismay, all that’s left is a bruised apple and a half-eaten granola bar. I wrinkle my nose. There’s no reason to stick around.

“You, girl,” calls the woman on the couch. She has bangs cropped too short, unflattering coke bottle glasses, and a vibrant, busy sweater. She looks just like the kind of person who would write a 50k novel by hand and make you feel bad about doing yours on a computer.

“Me?” I take a step toward her. What I want to do is get out before she can begin her rant on how technology has ruined my generation, but I need to be polite.

“Are you a writer?” She blinks at me, her glasses magnifying her eyes to nearly twice their normal size.

“Yes, ma’am.” I angle my body toward the door, hoping she’ll get the hint and let me go.

“How far along are you?” she presses, leaning forward. Talk about nosy. “I’ve already reached my word count, but I haven’t finished the plot yet.”

 I’m too embarrassed to say that I’ve only written ten thousand. But if I suck it up and tell her, perhaps she’ll leave me alone. “10k,” I mumble.

When she scowls, she looks almost as ugly as the red schnauzer bag on the floor. “Hmm. You’re not going to make it, honey. It would take a miracle.”

I bite my tongue to keep from announcing that my goal is only 15k, so I’m actually not that far off. Instead, I nod, give her a forced smile, and get the heck out of that place.

At home, I stash my skateboard in the garage and curl up on the couch. I wake up the laptop and stare at the screen, at the blinking cursor that mocks me silently every time I let it sit there. Not today, cursor. My eyes skim over what I wrote last night before dozing off. The alien trio has just flown away from their home on the moon Titan.

What was I thinking? I cringe at a particularly poorly worded sentence, jamming the backspace button. Great, so now I’m even further from my goal than before I sat down.

I need a break.

While I’m wandering around the house, I spot Nevaeh’s guitar resting on Caroline’s duvet. Sometimes she’ll come up here and play a song for Caroline, to get her opinion on it. Nevaeh is really good, like some kind of child prodigy. I wish I could play guitar like she can.

Well, I tell myself, no time like the present. I sit on the edge of Caroline’s bed and settle the guitar into my lap. My fingers press the strings against the frets, plucking out a tune. It’s twangy and sharp and headache-inducing.

My mind drifts off, reminding me of everything I should be doing instead of messing with Nevaeh’s guitar. Chores. Homework. NaNo. I don’t want to do any of those, but I’m definitely going to save writing for last.

I decide to do homework first, so I don’t have to stress about it when I return to writing. I drag my backpack up to Caroline’s room, which I’ve dubbed homebase. Chewing on the end of a pencil, I spread my papers out in front of me and tackle the first problem.

Thirty minutes later, I’m nearly bored to tears. But anything, including homework, is better than facing that cursor, blinking at me like a smug cat.

Two girls decked out in flamboyant ballgowns swirl into the room, springing onto the bed. Their bouncing makes the guitar leap around with them.

“Parker!” Ellie and Emily sing together. “Come play with us outside!”

I climb to my feet, glad that my sisters interrupted me before I could get started on chemistry. “Sure! But outside? Won’t you be cold?”

“Nope! We’ve got cloaks and fire powers!” Ellie giggles, as if that explains everything. Her strawberry curls bob around her as she jumps. “Come on, Parker. We’re princesses, you’re the knight, and you’ve got to come kill a dragon before it kidnaps us!”

Emily and Ellie dash for the stairs, their voluminous skirts flying out behind them.

The “dragon” turns out to be Alaska, Saige’s mare. With an old-fashioned shawl around my shoulders, a toy sword in my hand, and childlike excitement in my heart, I pretend to fight off the dragon/horse. Emily and Ellie huddle on the ground behind me, fake crying, while Alaska watches us with curious eyes. She looks like a scientist observing a new species.

Once the game is over, the two princesses safely returned to their castle, I face my responsibilities once again. I finish my homework, clean my room, the bathroom, and then the entire first floor. Then I try to make myself a pizza, accidentally setting it on fire in the oven. I have a bowl of cereal instead. I distract myself with tasks all day, but the nagging voice in my head remains, begging me to write.

 Eventually, I’ve procrastinated as long as I can, and I find myself returning to the laptop. I give myself a pep talk: You can do this, Parker. Just a few hundred words. Meet today’s word count. It can be absolutely horrible. All you have to do is write. 

OK. I wake up the laptop, fingers poised above the keys. Write, write, write. And then I do, and the angels are singing. A word appears on the page: The. 

I wipe the sweat off my forehead, exhausted. I deserve another break.

So I just wrote nearly 2k. That’s great, but it probably should have been for my novel, not my blog. Oh well.

Have a good day!




DIY Doll Shower

I’ve got an awesome craft prepared for you guys today: a shower made out of an American Girl doll box. Enjoy!


-American Girl doll box

-masking tape

-paint (gray, white, red, and blue)

-kebab skewer



-hot glue gun

-thin fabric (for shower curtain)

-small drawer pull (round)

-Mod Podge

-milk jug lid

-silver spray paint

-metal coathanger

-wire cutter

-glass/ceramic tiles (small)

-medium-sized pom pom (any color)

-cord/yarn (same color as pom pom)

-self-adhesive hook

-Sculpey (any color)


-old towel

-sewing pin

The first step is to prepare the box. Rip out all the pieces of tape stuck to the inside. Don’t worry if some of the paper peels off, too. If that happens, just paint over it with light gray.

There are two holes at the bottom of the box and a slit near the top. Cover them in masking tape and paint over them.

Next, hold a kebab skewer across the front of the doll box. Mark where it meets the inside of the box (7 5/16 in.) and cut there. This is the shower rod.

To make the shower curtain, first pick the fabric that you want to use (mine is from an actual shower curtain). Cut it to 16 ½ in. x 7 ¼ in. Then fold the top over about half an inch and hot glue it down, creating a loop. Feed the dowel rod through it.

To keep the fabric from unraveling, fold every unfinished edge over about ¼ in. and hot glue it down.

Attach the shower curtain to the box by hot gluing the ends of the rod.

For the shower dial, take a small drawer pull and paint a line of red on one side and a line of blue on the other. Once it’s dried, brush Mod Podge over it so it won’t rub off.

Use a pencil to poke a hole in the side of the box (I made the hole on my left). Stick the drawer pull through the hole.

Next, make the shower head. I covered a milk jug lid with masking tape and spray painted it silver (the tape was so the paint would stick better). But if you don’t have spray paint, I think acrylic would work, too.

Using wire cutters, cut the top off a metal coathanger just above the curve (you might need an adult’s help with this). Then hot glue the end of the hanger to the lid.

Glue the shower head to the box above the dial. Try to get it as close to the top of the box as you can, or else your doll won’t be able to fit in the shower without hitting their head on it.

Now we’re going to do the floor. Draw a circle on the bottom of the box. Paint gray lines across it for the shower drain.

This part takes a long time, but the results are worth it. Glue small glass/ceramic tiles to the floor around the drain. If you don’t have tiles, scrapbook paper or paint will look nice, too.

I used tile nippers to break some pieces apart so I could glue them into small spaces.

Now that the shower itself is done, it’s time to make some cute accessories!

Loofah/poofy scrubby thing:

All you need is a pom pom, cord or yarn, and hot glue.

Cut the cord to the length you want, but make sure it’s long enough that a doll’s hand can fit through it. Then hot glue the ends of the cord to the center of the pom pom.

Glue a self-adhesive hook (or bent wire) to the same wall that the dial and shower head are on. Hang the loofah on it.


Make a rectangle out of Sculpey (mine is 1 ¼ in. x 15/16 in.). Bake it according to the directions on the package. When it’s cool, cover it in Mod Podge so it will dry shiny.

To make a shelf for the soap, cut a piece of cardboard that’s 2 in. x 1 ¼ in. Paint it light gray and glue it to the wall by the loofah’s hook.


Take an old hand/bath towel and cut it to 15 ¼ in. x 7 ½ in. Wrap it around your doll and secure it with a sewing pin.

These tiny bottles of soap and hair products are freebies from hotels.

Now you have a cute shower for your dollhouse!

Hope you guys enjoyed this tutorial! If you make this, I’d love to see pictures. Email them to me at

It took me two days, several burnt fingers, and three broken nails to make this shower. I ran out of tiles when I was almost done, so I had to go buy some more, but they weren’t the same size. I ended up having to tear out nearly all the tiles and redo the whole floor. Moral of the story: make sure you have enough tiles before you start!



What is She Doing #11 | Winners

Hey, guys! As promised, here are the winning captions for WISD #11. I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I did. :)


Isabelle: Ah! Who are you supposed to be?
Ghosts: We are ghosts, coming to photobomb your pictures, so that you can be famous all over the internet . . .
Isabelle: Convenient. Hold still while I focus . . .
Ghosts: NO!
Isabelle: What?
Ghosts: DON’T FOCUS!
Isabelle: But you said . . .
Ghosts: Everyone knows that ghost photos must be as blurry as possible, with little or no attention to shutter speed, lighting, or focus.
Isabelle: But my reputation as a good photographer will be so ruined if I post a blurry, dark, out-of-focus picture on Instagram!
Ghosts: ‘Tis a small price to pay for fame.
Isabelle: *sighs*


Isabelle walked down the street, clenching Coconut’s leash tightly. Izzy was starting to get frustrated, though, because Coconut would stop and smell the leaf-covered grass. “Come ON, Coco.” Izzy groaned, pulling at her dog’s leash. She had decided to take photos of Coconut, as she wouldn’t really be able to take anymore photos because it was getting cold outside. Izzy was attempting to take Coco to a nearby park, but her plan wasn’t exactly succeeding. Coconut stopped for what felt like the millionth time, but this time not to smell flowers. Instead, Coconut smelled two small figures covered in a white sheet. “Coconut!” Isabelle commanded. “Away from the tiny-ghost-marshmallow-munchkin-thingies! Run back home!” Izzy’s grip loosened on Coconut’s leash, eventually allowing her dog to run home.
Izzy was terrified. The tiny-ghost-marshmallow-munchkin-thingies chased after her, trying to not only bite her ankles, but trip her so she would be level with them. Isabelle sped up, trying to get back home. “No! NOOOOOO!” she cried. “Someone! Please help!” But Isabelle wasn’t fast enough. Two tiny hands grasped her ankles and she hit the concrete.

(Loren’s note: this is so dramatic, I love it.)


Isabelle: Oh my goodness, they’re little ghosts, they’re going to eat away our SOULS, Coconut, we have to run away!
Coconut: Ummm, Izzy, I’m pretty sure they’re just mini dolls.
Isabelle: No, foolish dog! They are demons!
Mini Rebecca: BOOOO!
Isabelle: *starts sobbing*
Coconut: Are you freaking kidding me, that’s Aciana and Rebecca.
Isabelle: *runs away screaming*

You guys have the weirdest humor. I’m incredibly entertained.

Please don’t be too upset if your caption wasn’t chosen, it’s just a game. I’ll probably post more of these in the future, so your caption might be picked then.

Have a good day!



Fall for You // AGPS

I saw the autumn leaves peel up off the street
Take wing on the balmy breeze and sweep you off your feet
And you blushed as they scooped you up on sugar maple wings
To gaze down on the city below, ablaze with wondrous things

The Real World // Owl City

Great autumn pun in the title, am I right? Ha, of course not. My puns are never good. Sorry about that.

It’s getting cold where I am. Some of the trees have already lost all their leaves. We’ve got a fire going, and I’ve been drinking hot chocolate (even though milk makes me sick) and wearing my combat boots and cute socks. The weather when autumn is turning into winter is my favorite.

I’m doing NaNoWriMo again this year (writing a novel in a month, for those who don’t know). In the past, I’ve always said I won’t be posting as much during November because I have to spend my time writing instead of working on my blog. But it feels a little different this time around. I think NaNo kickstarted my creativeness, which means I’ve been playing ukulele, writing poems, and blogging more. It’s all just an attempt to procrastinate my novel, but at least it’s productive. Long story short, I’m going to try and pull together a NaNo-themed photostory.

I hope you have a good day and enjoyed the pictures. :)



What is She Doing?! #11

It’s been forever since I’ve done a game of any kind, so that’s what we’re doing today: What is She Doing?! Which is basically just Caption It.

Here’s the photo we’re playing with. Isabelle and her dog Coconut seem to have encountered some tiny ghosts. idk.

If you don’t know how to play, here are the rules:

– Leave a comment with one or two captions for this photo

– On November 13th, I’ll announce the winners (my favorite captions)

– There’s no prize, it’s just for fun

Pretty easy, right? I can’t wait to see what you come up with. :)



The Haunted House | Photostory

Related image

It was the night of the greatest Halloween party of the year. Our entire family had been invited, and in the hours before it started, the house was buzzing with activity. The bathroom was crowded with girls doing their makeup and face paint. Shouts of “Has anyone seen my shoes/hat/wings?!” rose above the cacophony every other minute. The excitement made the air electric.

When I say that the entire family had been invited, I really mean almost the entire family. Nevaeh was the only one who hadn’t received one of the pumpkin-shaped invitations. The kid was so quiet at school that the girl who was hosting the party probably didn’t know she existed.

I couldn’t very well leave Nevaeh at home by herself while practically everyone else in the entire school was at the party. So while the rest of our sisters bounded out of the house in their getups, I hung back. We could find something fun to do together. I didn’t really want to go to the party, anyway.

We surfed the web for Halloween activities and decided to go to a haunted house. I’m into creepy stuff — ghosts and zombies and that sort of thing — so it was kind of a no-brainer.

After paying and signing waivers, Nevaeh and I hung out in the brightly lit lobby, waiting for the haunted house guide to appear and lead us on the tour. The Ghostbusters theme played from speakers mounted on the wall. We sucked on peppermints from the bowl on the desk.

A door slammed open on the other side of the lobby, letting out a group of shrieking kids. A young woman followed the screamers and walked over to us. “I’m the guide,” she said, giving us a rehearsed smile. “Are you my next group?”

“We are. Nice costume, by the way. Very scary.”

She laughed, drumming her fingernails on the cardboard sign draped around her neck. Your grades were scrawled on it in black marker. “Thanks. It’s in honor of my report card.”

The woman told us to call her Kate and beckoned us into the haunted house. Dry ice curled around our feet. Nevaeh shuffled closer to me in the dim light.

We rounded a corner and my sister gasped. Dangling from the wall and ceiling were severed hands and a decapitated body. They spun slowly, scraping against the wall.

“This used to be a jail,” Kate whispered in a low, husky voice. “Those bodies? They belong to executed prisoners. Some people believe that their souls still haunt this place.”

A sudden gust of wind made the hanging body parts twirl on their strings.

Kate led us down the hall, where a spirit drifted into view. A beautiful snowy gown was draped over her bony body. When the shadowy form tilted its head in our direction, we could see that instead of eyes, there were just deep black holes in its face.

“Parker!’ Nevaeh choked, grabbing at my hand.

“That is Lady Amelia. She died on her wedding day, along with her soon-to-be husband. She wanders the earth at night, murmuring the vows to herself, longing to be reunited with her lover’s soul.”

The ghost of Lady Amelia floated toward us, hand outstretched. She vanished just before her wriggling fingers found my face.

With Lady Amelia gone, the hall was clear, and we followed Kate down it. Spiderwebs hung over our heads; bloodcurdling yelps could be heard from other victims of the haunted house.

Something was in the hallway with us: scuttling, scratching sounds could be heard around our feet. Three wispy white objects darted in front of us and disappeared into the gloom, giggling.

By my side, Nevaeh was so tense that if anything surprised her, I bet she would jump as high as a cartoon character.

We walked in sinister silence for awhile, bracing ourselves before turning every corner. I had begun to relax when a young girl in a dirty nightie stepped in our way. A holey sweater was wrapped tightly around her. She gazed at us with dull eyes, unblinking.

Nevaeh glanced at me out of the corner of her eye. Her mouth drooped into a nervous frown.

The girl pulled the sweater away from her side, revealing a huge wound in her side. The thin fabric of her pajamas was damp and red. She shivered. Cocked her head. “Please help me,” she croaked.

 We had to press ourselves against the cool, rough stones of the wall to get past. She watched us go with a gloomy expression.

Not even a minute after escaping the bleeding child, another fright appeared. A figure was hiding in a dark alcove, crouched over something white and still on the floor. The silhouette of a person looked over its shoulder as we passed, revealing a pale, angular face and blood-stained chin. It gave us a menacing grin with too many sharp teeth.

The white thing by its feet whimpered. I could now see that the shape was a tiny white dog with blood spurting out of a wound to its neck.

Past the vampire and its meal was a room with bones, feathers, and tribal masks hanging on the walls. A witch sat hunched over a cauldron from which came flashes of green, orange, and purple light. Pots, bowls, and woven baskets littered the space around the hag. They were filled with crystals, insects, critters, eyeballs, and other unpleasant things.

A desperate croak came from a frog dangling between the witch’s knobby, gnarled fingers. She dropped it into the cauldron and the mixture swallowed the struggling creature, belching and releasing an unsavory smell.

The witch’s cat snarled at us as we passed through.


I felt Nevaeh’s hand slip into mine. She was shaking.

She must be really terrified, I realized. Aloud, I whispered, “Don’t worry, it’ll be over soon. Just keep holding my hand. Close your eyes if you have to.”

She nodded and tightened her grip. Her wide eyes flitted around the room. They glinted in the flashing colored lights.

Kate halted. She pointed to two girls who were standing with their backs to us. “Jenna and Elise were best friends hanging out at a Halloween party. They spent the night gossiping, dancing, and drinking punch. But it turned out to be the worst — and last — party of their lives.”

The girls whipped around and lunged at us. Their faces were sallow and their flesh was beginning to peel in some place. They moaned as the rushed toward us.

“Jenna and Elise were turned into zombies that night!” Kate exclaimed, stepping to the side as the undead girls careened down the hall.

Nevaeh screamed. She pushed past Kate and the zombies and sprinted for the door that would lead back into the haunted house’s lobby.

I raced after my sister and found her sitting on one of the stiff canvas couches, breathing hard. I slid onto the cushion next to her and draped my arm around her, squeezing her shoulder comfortingly.

“I’m sorry for making you go through that,” I said, staring at the ground. “I like scary things, but I see now that you’re not into that. I’m really sorry if I ruined your Halloween.”

She took a deep, steadying breath. “It’s ok, Parker. It was fun, actually.” She gave me a hesitant smile. “So thanks for making me go. It was better than going to that party, anyway. At least we’re not going to end up like Jenna and Elise.”

I laughed. “Yeah. Good thing I know how to cure zombification. We might need it, when our sisters get home.”


Happy Halloween from the HHOAG girls!