Greetings, dear readers.
Today is Madi’s Musings’ Sixth Blogiversary. It’s a bit weird, as when I began the blog I never contemplated it’d still be going strong six years later, but here we are. Welcome!
The past few weeks have been hectic and busy. I graduated with my AA in English and yesterday reached 73,000 on my WIP. Along with beginning my own editing and graphic design business (more on that next week, I hope), praying for guidance on if I should pursue a Bachelor’s degree, and the typical potholes of life, I’d go insane if I hadn’t already lost my sanity. If this post seems somewhat disjointed, it’s because is probably is. I’m excited to celebrate the sixth blogiversary, but I wish it’d arrived at a calmer time.
Hopefully your week is going well! Thank you for joining me in celebrating Madi’s Musings’ sixth blogiversary. We have history and origin, goals, facts and statistics, some writing quotes (not from me), and some Q&A.
HISTORY AND ORIGIN
Madi’s Musings began May 13, 2015. The blog’s origins are the culmination of a mixture of a suggestion, a love of reading, and the struggle of finding quality, clean, Christian books.
Mom and I were discussing this struggle one night when she made a comment I never expected: “Why don’t you start a book review blog so others in the same predicament can find good books?”. Two weeks later, I clicked the publish button, and Madi’s Musings was officially born.
The blog has seen a few different styles throughout the years, some worse than others. It went through a parchment phase, a green phase, and a dull, boring phase. I’m quite pleased with how it looks right now. The gray wood as the background is actually a blurred picture of old barn wood. Since I live in state with plenty of barns, cattle, horses, and the beautiful mountains, the rustic appearance appeals to me.
My review style changed, too. At first, I only posted the book’s blurb, cover, info, and my thoughts. While reading a movie review on Plugged In, I was inspired to adopt a similar method. Most of the reviews bearing my old review method have been hidden from the public’s view or permanently discarded.
When I began Madi’s Musings, I was determine to only do book reviews. I had no idea what blog tours, book tours, and tags were. I never considered author interviews, celebrating a blogiversary, or being part of a book tour. This blog has become so much more than I imagined, and I’ve met so many wonderful people and have read so many delightful books I otherwise wouldn’t have been granted the pleasure – or knowledge – of reading.
FACTS AND STATISTICS
As of this post, Madi’s Musings has:
- Reviewed 82 books.
- Participated in a combined total of 13 tours and cover reveals.
- Interviewed six authors.
- Posted ten miscellaneous or writing advice posts.
- Collaborated with my mom for 2020’s All Things Christmas series.
- Participated in four tags and has been tagged twice.
- Been requested to review at least 19 books (five of which will be reviewed in the next few months, so stay tuned).
- Somehow landed on a few “Top Ten Blogs” re BookSirens, which amuses me because I don’t review a lot of historical or suspense books – and for some baffling reason Madi’s Musings is listed.
- 2020 was the busiest year traffic-wise, but 2021 is only 185 views behind, and we’re not even halfway through the year.
- The average post word count is 528 words.
- 2020 saw the highest word count so far, peaking at 31,527.
- Aside from the Home, About, and Request a Review pages, Free Resources for Writers is the most visited post.
- Christmas Stitches is the most reviewed book.
- Christmas Stitches, Daughter of Light, and Hideous Beauty are the three most repinned books/reviews on Pinterest, with Christmas Stitches leading the way at 202.
- The sidebar link for Madi’s Musings’ facebook page is the most clicked-on link.
- Made innumerable misspellings and minor errors which I will probably never catch and some of which are most definitely in this post.
- Made 127 posts.
- Altered the blog’s appearance four to six times.
- Gained 88 followers. Thank you all so much! ❤
GOALS and PLANS:
Goals and plans for Madi’s Musings are to post more book reviews (five requested reviews are coming up), one or two updates, whatever blog tours or tags pop up, and to do better on updating my Word Count Update (I’m at 73,000 right now – aiming for 100,000 by the end of May). Basically, continue what I’m doing sans my inability to update word count.
To you to all who asked questions for the Q&A! I wasn’t certain if anything would happen with it, but when I looked at the form, I was gobsmacked to see the number of questions asked. And what wonderful questions they are, too.
The first set is from my mom from A Day in the Life of a Wife, Mom, and Author (check out her books!).
When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer?
This answer is more complicated than it should be. I recently unearthed some old, old stories I wrote in my early school years. Apparently at some point in my first seven years of life I wanted to write. Then that dissolved and I hated creative writing until I was sixteen, I think.
I don’t remember what exactly pushed my muses to reappear. Either it was a writing assignment for Wordsmith: Craftsman, where I had to do a creative writing piece and all I could think about was this shell of a factory that had been abandoned due to an explosion that occurred while a rare metal was being processed. Or it was a trailer for something about Star Wars: Old Republic. I didn’t like that one of the characters died, and within half an hour, I had an idea percolating. I approached Mom, barraged her with questions, then sat down to type.
What made you decide to create a blog for book reviews?
You should know the answer, Mom, since you were the one who suggested I think about beginning a book review blog. ❤ I thought on your suggestion, and a few weeks later, you helped me set up this WordPress account. Thus was Madi’s Musings born.
Why on earth do you like fantasy and sci fi?!
Ah, another question you often ask, and with such incredulity, too. I don’t understand your draw to suspense, though I don’t mind some of it, and you’ll never understand the pull speculative fiction has on me. I think that’s why it works quite well for us to edit each other’s writing.
To answer, because I’m weird.
And a nerd.
And someone who delights researching herbs, plants, and poisons and weapons and then writing about their uses. And because it’s not the “real” world. In fantasy there are dragons and imaginary animals and lands and powers and oodles of opportunities to impart faith and life lessons without it being drenched in real life. Science Fiction is by far my least favorite of the two, but space ships, enhanced guns and weaponry, and the sheer potential of good versus evil intrigues me. You can blame Wayne Thomas Batson’s The Door Within Trilogy and C.S. Lewis for hooking me on fantasy.
The next set is from Alexa at A Fangirl’s Hideaway. Your questions were quite fun and creative!
What’s your favorite color?
Sage green. Which makes me wonder how and why blue became Madi’s Musings’ theme color. I mean, blue is my second favorite color, but…
What’s your dream outfit?
Though it really does depend on what I’d be wearing it for, the outfit would need to be something practical. Probably a comfortable, sturdy pair of dark-wash jeans, a black t-shirt, tennis shoes or my hiking boots, my Sig Sauer hat, and my pocket knife. I also would not be against a Springfield XD as an accessory. I live in a rugged landscape which requires clothes you can move, work, and hike in (and run in, if bears, cougars, and moose are around).
If a genie gave you three wishes, what would you ask for?
Goodness. This made me think. Interesting question!
I’d have to say good health for my family, the endurance to fight for what’s right and true while standing firm in my faith, and to never waver in my determination to write for Christ.
What gives you inspiration?
Hoo boy. Several things. I’ve been clobbered with ideas while standing on the dock of a mountain lake, sitting in a restaurant, hiking, and even exercising. I get a lot of fairy tale ideas from Fairy Tale Central. Pinterest has provided much inspiration. Historical events and songs have given me tons of ideas as well. For a current character, the movie Fearless Faith and Switchfoot’s song “You Found Me” have really helped in forming his character and story. Inspiration can strike anywhere and anytime, and I have the ability to drive my family crazy with all the scraps of notes I take so I can remember the ideas. If you want to see a few things that provide inspiration for my current WIP, you can check out my Current WIP Playlist.
Joy from Joy Caroline had some delightful questions that revealed my inability to select just one answer and keep that answer precise and concise. Sorry (not sorry?) in advance for the novel-length answers.
What’s your least favorite thing about your favorite book?
Ooohh. I’ve not seen this question before. I’ll have to tuck it away so I can ask others this.
A few of my favorite books have h-ll and one or two uses d–n in them. This really grates me, and if they weren’t my absolute favorites for other reasons, I don’t know if I would keep them. I know there’s an argument about “keeping it real” and including profanity, but this goes against Philippians 4:8 and Ephesians 4:29a.
These are the verses:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths. – Ephesians 4:29
Using this type of language goes against what the Bible says. It’s why I won’t include such in my own writing. It’s a sign of lack of creativity if a writer/author must resort to worldly language to get a character’s displeasure, pain, etc., across. There are multiple ways we can convey such emotions without including crass or anti-Biblical language. How can we be lights in darkness when our writing is no different from the darkness’? We say we are Christian writers. We need to write like it.
What type of poetry do you like? Any favorite poets? Favorite poems?
I am actually quite particular regarding poetry. Except the Psalms, I’ve never cared much for it. That being said, there are a few poets and poems I really enjoy: several by Robert Frost (Fire and Ice, A Soldier, and Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening to name a few) and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (that’s such a fun name to say), some by John Greenleaf Whittier, a few by Emily Dickinson, In Flanders Fields by John McCrae, and We Wear the Mask by Paul Laurence Dunbar. I’m sure I’ll remember more later, but these are what came to mind.
What is your top piece of advice for young writers?
Don’t fall into the comparison trap. It’s damaging and destructive. You may not be ready to publish yet, but you one day will be. Don’t compare your writing – your style, your story, your characters – to another writer’s/author’s. It will throw you off track and could severely slow your writing progress or even convince you to stop writing.
How do you make time to write with your college schedule?
I only did online college, so that freeed up a lot of time that would otherwise be used for driving, traversing the campus, waiting for lectures to begin, dealing with others, etc.. A lot of it is time management. A planner really helped and keeping detailed notes on when everything is due and when to complete it saved me a lot of time and worry and stress. I also never did college work in the evenings, which is when I write, unless I didn’t plan accordingly (it does happen, sometimes) and had to rush.
How many books have you completed (writing)?
Thus far I have four completed manuscripts. Hopefully I’ll have my fifth, a rewrite, finished by the end of May. And if I can get my act together (and that’s colossal if since my typing speed is akin to that of a slug stuck in frozen peanut butter) I’ll get a short story and fairy tale retelling completed by the end of 2020.
What is one cliché in Christian fiction that you believe to be harmful?
Is it okay if I answer with two cliches I really dislike and find harmful?
The first is the whole “Come to faith and everything is instantly made better”. This isn’t how life works, and, in fact, is unbiblical. Just look at Matthew 10:22, John 15:18, James 4:4, 1 Corinthians 1:18, and Matthew 5:10-12. We can also see from the lives of faithful martyrs and defenders of the faith that this just isn’t what happens. You may find life easier to endure, a difficult time easier to face because you have God’s promise of unending love and everlasting life, but nothing will instantly be made better.
The second one is “Forgive and forget”. Clearly whoever penned this phrase didn’t have much to forgive, let alone betrayal; backstabbing; familial rejection; or something else equally painful to “forget”. I’m not saying not to forget the squabbles and everyday minor grievances caused by those we love, because that would just turn into a grudge, which is sinful. We need to forgive, but forgetting can be harmful. If we “forget” a major occurrence (abuse, a so-called friend who gossips and backstabs you, or whatever the situation may be), we will keep returning to that person or situation and continue getting hurt. We’re called to forgive the toxic, but we also need to know when to rid our lives of the toxic.
Who is your favorite book character of all time? (It can be from any book, even from an unpublished book, or one of your own books!)
*cannot compute. Please try again.*
Joking. I am unable to narrow it down to one character. No surprise there. My favorite Biblical character is a toss-up between Jonathan and David. Favorite characters not of my own include Boromir, Eowyn, and Samwise from LOTR, Athden from E.J. Kitchen’s Wrought of Silver and Ravens, Marcus from Jaye L. Knight’s Ilyon Chronicles, and Selene from Morgan L. Busse’s The Ravenwood Saga.
Characters of my own…probably those who are the eldest siblings, which is what I am. So they’d be Therese, Beckett, Eason, Lisbeth, and Llyr. Honorable mentions of those who aren’t eldest siblings include Vlade, Rowan, Reven, Rogan, Merikh, Marcus, and Matthew. (I promise I don’t only have characters with r and m names.)
Who is your favorite TV character of all time?
I don’t watch TV, so one of my favorite move characters is William Reynolds, played by Andrew Cheney in Beyond the Mask. If you’re looking for a faith-filled action movie, check this one out. Even if you aren’t, check it out. It’s amazing.
I initially planned to present the questions in the alphabetical order of those who posed them, but Issabelle from Teen Writer’s Nook asked a marvellous question that I thought would make for a great last question. All your questions are wonderful and made me think, but that last one…that one’s really good.
What has been your greatest blogging achievement?
Honestly, getting a post written and posted is a great achievement. I would say, though, the most fulfilling is when someone learns about a book they’d not heard of before and lets me know or when the advice posts help a writer.
Do you have a favorite blog post?
I don’t know about favorite, but one that is dear to me is Seven Things to Know as You Begin Your Writing Journey. I wrote that on the tail end of another rejection and a severe writing drought, and I can look back at my advice to newbie writers and see how gracious God has been in giving me a new burst of inspiration.
How long does it take you to write a novel on average?
On average, three to five months, although it feels longer than that. I wrote an 85,000 word allegory in just over three months, which is my record. HOWEVER. Agonizing, fussing, and worrying about the novel (even aver it’s written)…I’d say a good year.
How many books have you written so far?
Four, almost five. Hopefully by the end of May it’ll be five. There are also multiple half-completed projects haunting me whenever I scroll through my documents list.
What’s your greatest dream for you writing?
For someone to be touched by one of my books (or all of them – I wouldn’t complain). And, of course, to write for the glory of God and be published.
Do you keep track of how many books you read a year? If so, which year did you read the most?
*squints into space as I try forcing my brain to remember and do math* I don’t keep track, but the number of book reviews I post on the blog is a decent indicator, although I don’t write reviews for every book I read. Glancing at the blog stats, I think 2020 was the most in a few years. I’m not wholly certain, though.
What traits does a book have to have for it to be a favorite?
Oooh. I hereby commandeer this question so I can ask others it.
I don’t think there’s a specific recipe, if you will, on what makes a book a favorite. Different authors equal different stories and different characters. In general, though, my favorites have a solid Biblical message, are fantasy, have an action-packed plot, and a character I relate to. They’re also usually in the NA or Adult categories, since I am quite picky and particular on YA. The exception to this is Heather L.L. FitzGerald’s The Tethered World Chronicles. I love sibling bonds and a heavy redemptive arc, so most of the ones on my favorites list include one of those two, if not both, as well. The writing style also has a lot to do with it.
In your opinion, which book has the best cover?
Dang. I don’t know.
Morgan L. Busse’s Mark of the Raven has an excellent cover, as does C.M. Banschbach’s Oath of the Outcast , E.J. Kitchen’s Wrought of Silver and Ravens, and Patrick W. Carr’s The Shock of Night.
Do you realize that I’m now running out of questions to ask?
Hey! All I can say is thank you for asking questions! It’d have been terribly awkward if no one asked any after I rambled on and on about it.
What is something God taught you in 2020?
This is why I placed your set of questions last. This is the perfect question to end with.
One thing God taught me – reminded, really – was that He is always there, He’s always present and able to be relied on, counted on, leaned on. There were some health scares among my immediate family members, and while they’re fine now, those times – which occurred within days of each other – were difficult. Sitting in the ER and waiting for updates on my little sister, I was given plenty of time to pray and reflect. As news filtered in that she’d be okay, I was reminded that no matter what happens, He is always on the throne and in control and is always faithful.
How would you answer the questions asked? Anything to add? Any other questions? Thanks for participating in Madi’s Musings’ Sixth Blogiversary! How’s life going? What are you reading and/or writing? Let me know!
May your second breakfasts be plentiful and may you have the heart of hobbits, the courage of men, and the wisdom of Gandalf. Remember to never laugh at a live dragon – they are quite conceited and do not take well to being the object of mirth, and face the days ahead with the knowledge that God is on the throne and in control no matter how chaotic and messy life gets.
2 thoughts on “Madi’s Musings’ Sixth Blogiversary”
CONGRATULATIONS! Bring out the confetti, cake, and streamers! Thanks for answering all my numerous questions.
First of all – you like In Flanders Fields? That makes me so happy. It’s my favorite poem and the reason why poppies are some of my favorite flowers. I love war poetry – my favorite genre of poetry. I enjoy Wilfred Owen’s war poetry. I love poetry in general; it’s too bad you don’t like it all that much. But poetry really depends on taste for some people.
Great writing advice! That’s definitely a relief to hear. I do tend to fall into that trap of comparing myself with or even envying other writers. I should just know that God has a unique plan for me and my writing path.
I so agree with the clichés you listed. The first one, especially, really has impressed itself on my mind as I write The Apostle’s Sister. Paul and Temira both come to faith after unbelieving lives, but it is far from the easiest thing. It throws Paul into an abyss of being viewed as “a sheep going to the slaughter”, while it opens an entire world of doubt and grief and pain for Temira. In fact, sometimes you couldn’t help but think maybe their lives were better without the faith.
Great list of characters! And I’ll have to check out the movie you mentioned. Also, I absolutely love that quote, “The desire to write was planted within you for a reason.” I so hope that’s true in my case.
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Yes, I love In Flander’s Fields. My grandpa and great-grandpa served in WWII and I’ve always loved war history. The sacrifices those brave men and women made are not something to forget, and whenever I read In Flander’s Fields, my gratitude is refreshed. Land of the Free, Home of the Brave is what I’ve been taught from a young age.
D’awww, thanks. I was laughing as I wrote up that advice since, ironically, I spend most of my days in the comparison trap. I don’t know how many projects I’ve quit on because I compared them to others’ and found them lacking.
It is certainly true in your case, Joy! If you have the desire and drive to write, it’s not without reason. Pens, keyboards, and the written word are some of the most powerful weapons in existence, and if we learn to use them to God’s will and glory, He’ll use them to change lives. Keep writing! ❤
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