The Year in Review: What I’ve Learned About Writing in 2015

It’s the last Wednesday of 2015, and you know what that means: time for another “Year in Review”! This one’s been a particularly hectic year for me, what with my Master’s project taking up so much of my time and energy (and a little of my sanity), but thankfully I’ve still been able to keep up with my creative writing. I guess that’s only to be expected; after all, the writer in me never quits!

For this review of the past year, I’m revisiting my resolutions from my first creative writing post of 2015. Have I been able to keep them? Let’s see!


Can I still balance grad school and a blog?

Incredibly, yes! Between working long hours in the lab and putting together a decent Master’s thesis, I’ve somehow managed to squeeze in enough time to blog every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It hasn’t been easy, and I’ve come dangerously close to falling behind on my blogging more than once, but as long as I manage to keep at least three weeks’ worth of posts scheduled in advance, I’m able to stick to my blogging schedule. I’ve made it this far, so I’m confident I can keep it up until I finally get my Master’s degree!

Have I been networking with other writers and readers?

Though I do feel I still have a lot to learn, I’ve gotten much better at networking this year. I’m following more blogs and connecting with more writers, and I’m making an effort to be more active about liking and commenting on posts. My progress is still a bit slow, but I plan to gain momentum in my networking once my thesis is done. I look forward to discovering even more new blogs and writers in the coming year!

Did I find the time to write those novels?

Sadly, not nearly as much as I would have liked. As it turns out, blogging consistently while attending grad school leaves very little time in between to work on anything else. Writing breaks in the lab have mainly been reserved for schoolwork and my thesis, while most of my blog posts are written during weekends. With my Master’s program drawing to a close soon, perhaps I’ll have better luck finding time for my novels in 2016!

I’d say 2015 has been a good year for my creative writing, even if it was slightly slowed by my grad school work. I hope it’s been a good year for you too! Here’s hoping 2016 will be even better! Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!

Word of the Week: Elysian

Word: Elysian

Pronunciation: i-LI-zhən / i-LEE-zhən

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: of, relating to, or characteristic of heaven or paradise

Source: Oxford Dictionaries

Is it really the last week of the year? Where does the time go? As I thought about what word I should feature for the final Word of the Week of 2015, I realized that a particularly beautiful one had recently been brought to my attention when I started playing the indie game Dust: An Elysian Tail. Fascinated by how lovely the word “Elysian” sounded, I decided that it would make a perfect closer for this year’s vocabulary posts. After all, as we start the journey into a new year, why not leave the old one behind with peaceful thoughts of the divine?

“Elysian” describes what is heavenly and paradisiacal in nature. The word is the anglicized form of the Latin noun Elysium, meaning “a place or state of perfect happiness”. This noun derives from the Greek noun Ēlúsion (pedíon), a mythical plain of existence believed to be the home of the blessed after death.

Fun fact: “Elysian” is the first vocabulary word I’ve featured on my blog that’s capitalized, as it stems from the name of a place in Classical mythology. You may also be familiar with the word’s Latin form thanks to the 2013 futuristic sci-fi film Elysium, the eponymous Elysium being the utopian space habitat created as a haven from the overpopulated Earth. I have yet to see this word often in fiction, though I would certainly use it as a more poetic alternative to “divine” and its other synonyms. If you like to write about heavenly places and things, you may enjoy including some “Elysian” details in your stories! Have fun, and Happy New Year!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

‘Tis The Season

Deck the halls with holly.
Roast chestnuts on a fire.
Hear the soft angelic voices
Of a caroling children’s choir.

Snowflakes frost the windows
In the quiet winter air,
While the smell of fresh-baked cookies
Wafts through houses everywhere.

Candy canes fill stockings
Hung above the fireplace.
Loved ones joined around the table
Start a feast by saying grace.

Excited little children
Gaze up at the starry sky
To catch a glimpse of Santa
And his reindeer that can fly.

The family all gathers
Round the decorated tree
As they give each other presents
And they share each other’s glee!

‘Tis the season to be jolly!
May your day be full of cheer!
Have a very Merry Christmas
And a wonderful New Year!

Merry Christmas to all my family, friends, and readers who are celebrating! May you all have a blessed weekend and a wonderful holiday season!

My Top Ten Christmas Songs

Charlie Brown ChristmasWhat’s Christmas without Christmas music? Since I wrote a post on my favorite Christmas stories last year, I thought this year I would share my favorite Christmas songs! I have plenty of fond childhood memories of listening to seasonal music around this time of year, and it always inspired me to get into the holiday spirit.

So to help you get a little more into the spirit of the season, here’s a countdown of my ten favorite Christmas-themed songs! Enjoy, and have a very Merry Christmas!

10) “O Tannenbaum”

A Charlie Brown Christmas, anyone? This is probably one of my favorite songs from Vince Guaraldi Trio’s soundtrack, not to mention I used to have lots of fun making up parodies of “Oh Christmas Tree” with my sisters when we were kids!

9) “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”

I’ve lost count of how many times this song has gotten stuck in my dad’s head, as I would so often hear him singing “And so this is Christmas…” around the end of the year. Christmas is a time of love and peace, and this song by John Lennon and Yoko Ono is always a good reminder of the real joy we should be spreading throughout the world!

8) “Jingle Bell Rock”

Okay, I admit it: this song is on my list because of Mean Girls. After all the times I’ve laughed over this scene with my sisters, how could I possibly leave it out?

7) “What’s This?”

Yes, The Nightmare Before Christmas totally counts as Christmas music! Jack Skellington discovering the magic of the holiday season is by far my favorite scene from Tim Burton’s classic 1993 film, thanks in no small part to Danny Elfman’s charming music!

6) “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”

“Rudolph” is one of those childhood carols that I used to sing with my sisters at family gatherings. I would sing the main part and they would chant the backing lyrics (“Like a lightbulb!”). Laugh if you want, but I can assure you we were quite adorable back in the day!

5) “Do You Hear What I Hear?”

I remember having to sing this song for a Christmas show in my middle school chorus group, and it was one of my favorites of the whole set. The holiday season isn’t complete without a handful of songs about the birth of Jesus Christ!

4) “Carol of the Bells”

I love pretty much any version of this harmonious carol, but Pentatonix take it to a whole new level of epic. Goosebumps every time. Seriously, is there anything these guys can’t sing?

3) “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”

This is a particularly powerful and moving Christmas carol, and it’s actually one of a handful of songs I wish I could have learned to play on the piano. Whether sung by a choir or played acoustically, I always find this song incredibly beautiful. Of course, nothing tops the Salvation Army band’s rendition from Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean! Hilarious!

2) “O Holy Night”

Ask my mother what her favorite Christmas song is and she will answer without hesitation: “O Holy Night”. Nearly every Christmas, she would ask me to sing it for the family. At the very least, hearing this song gives me chills, and when sung at it’s very best, it can even move me close to tears. Quite possibly one of the most beautiful Christmas carols ever written!

1) “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)”

While it may not be the most beautiful song in this countdown, “The Christmas Song” is number one on my list because it’s my favorite to sing! I have many good memories of singing this song for my family and friends, as well as listening to various lovely renditions by well-known artists. With a relaxing melody and lyrics about all the joys of the holiday season, it’s the perfect song for getting into the Christmas spirit!

I hope you enjoyed my list of favorite holiday songs! Thanks for listening, and Merry Christmas!

What about you? What are your favorite Christmas/holiday songs?

Word of the Week: Munificent

Word: munificent

Pronunciation: myoo-NI-fə-sənt

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: larger or more generous than is usual or necessary

Source: Oxford Dictionaries

The holidays are upon us, and what better way to acknowledge the season of giving today than with a word about generosity? Today’s Word of the Week is a great one to keep in mind for those people and gestures that are extremely generous in spirit. We all likely know someone who loves to give (perhaps including ourselves), especially during the holidays, so around this time of year, you and your loved ones may expect to give and/or receive some “munificent” gifts!

A “munificent” gift or sum of money is considerably more generous than is necessary or usual. The word arose in the late 16th century and comes from the Latin adjective munificus, meaning “bountiful”. This adjective stems from the noun munus, which means “gift”.

While “munificent” primarily refers to a bountiful gift or gesture, it can also be used to describe a person with a very generous nature. It shouldn’t be confused with the adjective “magnificent”, although it’s easy to associate these words with each other as they both have highly positive connotations. If you write characters who love to give, you can surely have fun writing plenty of “munificent” acts into your stories! Happy Holidays!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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