Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Writing Adventures and an Introduction

Hey everyone!  How's your 2015 going so far?  I've been working on a post of goals for 2015, but it probably won't be up until later this week (good thing avoiding procrastination isn't on my list of goals). ;)

A long while ago, I shared with all of you about my dream of writing my books and getting them published.  In fact, as most of you know, the whole reason I started this little blog four and a half years ago was to gain experience for the day I'd need to do a book blog for marketing.

Today, I'm much closer to achieving that goal.  My first book is over halfway written, and the rest of it is outlined.  I have the basic structure figured out of the three books to follow.  I have a wonderful writing friend who is helping me edit my book.  (Thanks, Rich! You're the best!) :)

Even more exciting is the amazing opportunity coming my way this March.  Every year, there is a writers conference at Mount Hermon, a Christian conference center in Santa Clara, CA.  This year is the first year it's been possible for me to try to attend.  I've already earned over half of my admission fee, thanks to a scholarship from the conference, several gifts from friends, and the sale of some old silverware.  I also have a ride and a roomie lined up (one of my fellow writing buddies). :)

At Mount Hermon, aspiring writers have the chance to listen to great speakers and meet with editors, agents, and publishers to discuss their writing projects.  This is a huge opportunity for me to find someone interested in publishing my books, or at the very least get some good feedback on what I need to change.  I would also get to meet one of my favorite Christian authors, Robin Jones Gunn, who will be the keynote speaker. :D  Well, okay, I'm not sure if I'll actually get to "meet" her, but I'll at least get to hear her speak, and maybe get a signed book. ;)

Honestly, there's a lot I don't know yet since I'm such a newbie to this whole thing.  I'm super excited, though!  It's been incredible how God has provided the admission fees so far.  In fact, when He provided the means for my initial deposit, I had just made up my mind that Mount Hermon was not going to be a possibility. :}

Since I still have around $400 to go, one of my writing friends suggested I try a Kickstarter campaign to raise the rest.  I thought about it for a while and decided to give it a shot.  My Kickstarter page is up and live.  You can see it HERE.  [Side note: After receiving a comment about pledging on Kickstarter, I realized it might be helpful to connect all of you to the Kickstarter FAQ for backers page, which you can see HERE.  This should tell you everything you need to know about how pledging on Kickstarter works.] :)

Now, here's the thing.  I don't want to make this a big focus on this blog, so I won't be mentioning it again (except for the shout outs to my supporters).  I'm not into pressuring people for money, and I'm confident that if the Lord wants me to go, He'll provide the means necessary.  I just thought I might see if Kickstarter was one of the ways He might provide. ;)

Here's the other thing.  I realized it was kind of silly to be anonymous on Kickstarter.  I mean, if I was backing someone else's project there, I'd want to know who they were.  And it certainly wouldn't be that practical for me to write my books anonymously, so this issue would come up anyway at some point, one way or another.

So there's a nice surprise benefit here on the blog, whether you visit Kickstarter or not.  It's time for a formal introduction.

Whew, okay, here we go.

Readers of Never Grow Up, I'd like to introduce you

I never realized how scary it would be to reveal my real picture to all of you. :}  I know you all have probably had a picture of what I looked like in your head.  Hopefully the real image isn't too disappointing. ;)

So, yep, that's the real me.  Not all that glamorous.  Yes, I have some early grey streaking going on.  I'm trying to decide if I'm just going to tough it out and stick with my natural color, or give in to the overwhelming urge to highlight. :}  And no, I don't have something little and black stuck between my two front teeth.  I've got a weird little gap at the top there that's just small enough to look like food or something. ;)

And since I'm all about keeping it real here on the blog, here are a few of the shots I took when I was trying to loosen up for the camera (and figure out how the stupid selfie thing worked). ;)

Some of the pictures have different lighting because I did two different photo shoots that day.  The second photo shoot was cut short because a mosquito bit my forehead and the bite was starting to turn into a raised welt.  Also, in between shoots, a cat chose to upchuck its cat food right where I needed to take pictures.  Blech. :{

Oh, and here I am as you would see me while typing a post (I have glasses for reading and computer time):

So, my real name, as you've probably guessed, is not Belle.  It's Hannah.  I'm 33 years old.  I make funny faces when I talk.  I often speak before thinking things through and end up saying things the wrong way, much to the amusement of my family and friends.  I have the beginnings of a double chin and open pores, and bags under my eyes, too. (Kids will do that to you.)  I still don't like broccoli (unless it's chopped up and hidden in my ground turkey), and I still am working on that last stubborn 20 or so pounds I need to lose.  Chocolate and bread are my biggest downfalls.  And pizza.  And cold cereal. :}  

Don't worry, though, I'm the same person you've come to know over the past four years.  I still love dolls and toys and still geek out about Disney, Jane Austen, and My Little Pony.  Beauty and the Beast, Tangled, and Frozen are still my favorite Disney films.  I love singing and writing stories.  I love my hubby and girls, even when they're driving me crazy. ;)

So really, nothing has changed.  Except that now when you read my posts, you can picture my real face.  Sorry if it'll take a while to adjust for some of you. ;)

I'll be sure to keep all of you posted on my further writing adventures and whether or not I make it to Mount Hermon.  In the meantime, I hope all of you have a wonderful week, and I'll be back with more blogging fun later! :)


Anonymous said...

Love the pictures, you look great! Good luck fundraising, I hope you make your goal. I was so excited to be your first backer. :)

Nina said...

You're so pretty! And I love your glasse! Congratulations on your writing conference, and good luck with your book!

Bambuc said...

Hello Hannah!

You look beautiful! It's nice to see your real face:-)

You are perfect;-)

Meritre said...

You look really young! And, please don't laugh but you remind me a little of Belle. Not how you look but... you have something 'belleish' I cant't explain itt better :$
And I have, just like you, early grey steaking going on. (And I'm younger than you and I have it for a few years. We'll just say we are like Anna from Frozen) I like yours and I would stick with the natural color but that's just my opinion. :)

I really really hope that you will make it to Mount Hermon!

KrissyLou said...

Ya-hey!! :) Lovely to "see" you :) Good luck with the fundraising! What awesome provision so far!

Char @ Doll Diaries said...

Congratulations on the writing achievement - stick with it and I know you will realize your dream. You have done a fantastic job with your blog over the past few years and of course it is so much nicer to see the face of the person writing the blog. That way we feel like we are coming to visit a friend every time we read your posts.

beastsbelle said...

Thank you so much, everyone! :)

Cainadoption, I was so excited to see I already had a backer this morning. Thank you so much! :D

Hi Nina! Thank you! I'm so excited to share this adventure with all of you. :)

Hi Bambuc. Thank you very much. In a weird way, it's kind of a relief to finally show my face. I'm glad it's not too disappointing to everyone. ;)

Hi Meritre! Lol, I get that a lot. It used to really bug me when I was in college and people would mistake me for a high schooler, or even a junior higher. Now, I don't mind looking younger than my age. ;)

Wow, thanks! I'll take the "Belleish" thing as a complement! She is my favorite princess, after all. :D

I love the idea of my grey streaks making me like Anna! I'll have to remember that. ;)

Thank you, I hope so too!

Thanks, KrissyLou! Great to hear from you. Yes, the Lord has been so incredible so far. I'm excited to see how He provides the rest. Even if He doesn't, it's been an incredible journey. :)

Thank you so much, Char. It's lovely to hear from you. :)

I know I've really enjoyed it every time I see pictures of you and some of the other gals from Doll Diaries. I'm glad I'm finally able to give my readers the same treat. ;)

Thanks so much for the encouragement, too. I love what you've done with Doll Diaries, so your complement means a lot. :)

It's so wonderful to hear from all of you. :) Thanks again!!! :D

Farrah Lily said...

So lovely to see the real you! You have stunning eyes! It's always fun to find out someone's real name after all this time :). Good luck on the remainder of your sounds like you have wonderful things in store for 2015! :)

Farrah Lily said...

Oh and PS, Hannah :). I am also about your age (a couple yrs older at 35!) and I am totally with you on the streaks of gray! I have let the dye wear out and my 5 year old told me she liked the "tinsel" in my hair....not sure to laugh or cry lol....AND I have a tiny, teeny space b/t my front teeth so I know exactly what you mean... :) You have inspired me to maybe do an about me page on my really is fun to see the real person behind the writing :)

BlackKitty said...

Hi, Hannah! It's so great to finally see you! It was a brave move and I hope it won't affect your privacy.

You look wonderful (I pictured you older and fatter, sorry ^^) and your grey hair sits in nice glittery strands :) I have had them too since my mid twenties, they are nothing to worry about!

Good luck with the Kickstarter!

Anonymous said...

Wow! You look almost exactly as I imagined you. This is so satisfying! I can only compare it to reading a book, and the film having the right actress (which doesn't often happen). P.s. Pretty eyes, lovely teeth.

Karina B. said...

So lovely to "meet" you, Hannah! :) I love having a face to put to your name. :) I wish you the best on your writing venture!

Cindybin said...

Gosh, you look like a teenager, lol.

Sunny_Harper1994 said...

Oh my goodness, I have been away for a long while and this is a nice surprise! You are beautiful! I imagined longer hair ;)
Don't worry about coloring your hair, I didn't even noticed a few white hairs until you mentioned it!
I am so happy and excited for you to be able to reveal not only yourself but your actual name as well! I can only imagine how you must have been trembling.
The silly pictures are my favorite you are so real and now I know what my internet friend looks like. :)
I looked over Kickstarter and I will be happy to help! Is it required to create an account to donate? I only had a glance at the site.
P.S: This is a random question but I am scheduled to finally wed this March and I faintly remember reading a post of your experience getting married without shoes. Which post was it? I wanted to read your thoughts about it again. I plan to do this as I walked down the isle, I feel like it can signal the start of my new life as a wife.

Anonymous said...

It's really nice to see the person behind the blog. You look great and, yes, very young.
Good luck with the fundraising.


Barb the Evil Genius said...

Nice to "meet" you, Hannah!

beastsbelle said...

Wow, how fun to come back to so many nice comments. :)

Thank you so much, Farrah. :) I'm very excited for 2015 and what it will hold. ;)

Lol, I love your daughter's comment about the "tinsel", and I totally get the "should I be laughing or crying right now?" thing. ;) Tinsel IS supposed to be pretty... ;)

It would be fun to see an "about me" page on your blog. :) There are definite advantages to being anonymous, but I have to say, it's like a breath of fresh air being able to share my face and name with all of you. ;) I think it's all up to what's right for you and the level of privacy you want.

By the way, thank you so much for being my third backer!! :D

Thank you, BlackKitty. I know there was a privacy risk involved, but I do eventually plan on getting my name and face out there anyway, so now seemed as good a time as any. ;)

Lol, I do go on and on about my weight on this blog, so I can see how you would get that idea. And I am older than I look. ;) I'll take that as a compliment. :)

So glad I'm not the only gal with "tinsel" around here! ;) (I'm totally going to start using that, Farrah Lily. ;) That, and Anna's frozen streak, like Meritre suggested.)

Thank you so much!

Lol, thanks, J! I know what you mean. It's nice when you don't have to change the picture in your head too much, right? ;)

Thank you, Karina! :D

Lol, usually people think I'm in my 20s, Cindybin. Like I said, I'm old enough now to see the benefits of looking younger than I am instead of getting frustrated. ;)

Sunny_Harper1994, so nice to hear from you again! :)

Lol, I did have longer hair for much of my life, but I'm finding that shorter hair is much easier to manage at this stage in my life. ;)

Thank you so much. I'm glad you enjoyed the pictures. :)

I think you do have to set up a Kickstarter account to donate, and you pay through Thanks for asking this question. I decided to include a link to the FAQ page for backers on Kickstarter in the post above so there would be a little more information. ;)

I think I mentioned being barefoot in one of my anniversary posts, which would be listed on the "Relationships and Spiritual Life" tab at the top of the blog.

All I can say is that going barefoot was the BEST DECISION EVER!!! It was so nice to be comfy instead of wobbling around in uncomfortable heels. ;)

Congratulations on your engagement! :D

Thank you, Linda! :D

Thanks, Barb! :)

Hope you all have a great day! :)

Kathleen said...

Hi Hannah! (Gosh, I am not used to thinking of you as Hannah, haha)
I hope you get to go to the writing conference! I wrote my first ever decent (decent as in I actually didn't abandon the idea after writing two chapters and am still excited about writing it, six months after having the idea) book for NaNoWriMo. Now I'm going through the fifty million editing stages, which mainly includes re-writing half the book, editing out characters, and trying to make my book more diverse. I've basically been living on the computer, between Etsy, homeschooling, writing, blogging, emailing and all, LOL.

This is really weird for me. TBH, I've always imagined you looking like a cross between Emma, Hayden, Charlie, and Jenna. I have no clue why, though. It is like whenever one of my characters springs into my head, fully developed and begging to be in a story, and I instantly know how they look. Thankfully you aren't too far off from what I thought, or I would always think of you looking like that.

To me, you look younger then 33. I don't know what is, but you look like you could easily be 5 years younger. I couldn't tell that you had some gray in your hair, it just looked like natural highlights.

I don't know why, but even though I knew your name wasn't Belle for all that time, I still think of you as Belle.

And yay for modern fairy tales/fairy tale re-writes/whatever-you-want-to-call-them! I'm pretty much obsessed with them (I thought about naming my blog "The 12 Dancing Dolls" instead of "Dolls and Dance," but when we searched it there were some highly iffy pictures) and so I'm writing one. And completely unrelated, but what age would you recommend Beauty for? I'm assuming way older than AG's target age range, correct?

So that was my rabbit trail after rabbit trail comment. Yikes.

Phyllis said...

So nice to meet you, Hannah! Hannah is my youngest daughter's name too. You do look very young, which is a good thing! I have always looked younger than my age, so I can tell you, while it was sometimes frustrating when I was in my 20's and 30's, now in my older years, I think it is a blessing that I look much younger than my years! Good luck with your writing. I remember when I was reading your Blog about Belle and family, I thought you were such a good writer and should write a book!

Jessica said...

Hey Hannah! It's good to see you finally. ;) You look about like I pictured except you look a lot younger. lol I have the gap and tinsel too... started getting mine at age 25 (I am now 37 YIKES!!!)

Thanks for all your sharing. I know your book will do great! :)

Kirren said...

Well, I /thought/ I had commented on here twice, but it must not have gone through. :/

ANYwho, you look just like how I imagined you! And you look so much like Belle too! It's great to see the face behind the name, and I certainly hope you meet your goal!

ag lover 2003 said...

Oh, you are so pretty!!! You do look a lot like Belle, as previously pointed out! Don't worry about the grey, I think it looks beautiful and makes you look wise. :)

Tam said...

Nice to see the 'real' you. You look pretty much as I imagined, except, as everyone has said, waaay younger than 33. When I was a lot younger people thought I was way younger than I was. I didn't mind.(Even my husband, Ken, tested things out before he knew much about me,by asking me if I was 'going back to school' in the fall!(In reality I was 26, and older than him!) But it's really going to hit you when they stop thinking you're a teenager and start calling you 'Ma'am'! Then you wish they still thought you were 'going back to school in the fall'!

Saturday Sequins said...

You're so cute!

Have you heard of Jeff Goins? He has a writing blog, and it's one of the best I've ever read. Maybe because he's a smart person, but a really kind and compassionate one, too.

He also gives some excellent blogging advice.

Amber Spaulding said...

Aww its so nice to see your face! I bet it was nerveracking in posting a image of yourself, I know id be chicken out at yge very last minute. You are really pretty :) and for a girl in her 30s you look great! Your real bane os really nice, you dint meet a lot of people with the name Hannah..did your name come from the bible? I kinda wish my name had come from the Bible but I like my name none the less.

Gold luck with reaching your goal! I hope your able to reach it and go to your conference to learn new and exciting things about writing :)

MyLittleMegara said...

Good luck with your fundraiser, beast'sbelle/Hannah! I'm with Meitre... you do have something very Belle-ish about you. And you look almost exactly like I pictured you! You're a wonderful writer and I'm sure your book will do well.

Natalie said...

Wow, it's so exciting to see what you really look like and to know your real name! You look so much like how I pictured you and you're so pretty! You just have such a sweet face. :) When I was first saw your picture I thought, "Wow she reminds me of Belle!" Then I read the comments and saw that someone else thought the same thing. :) You also slightly remind me of Lucy Griffiths (my profile picture at the moment haha)- the actress who played Marian in the 2006 Robin Hood tv series-one of my favorite shows!
Anyways, thanks for sharing who you really are with us and I hope all your writing goals are achieved and that we'll have a chance to read your books someday!

Casey said...

Beautiful as always! So happy that you have this conference opportunity.

honeysucklejasmine said...

Yay! I know you'll succeed with your Kickstarter campaign and then we'll see your books all over the shelves in stores ;-D I would love to read it!

Also, nice to finally put a face to the account :-) You're very pretty and look so young!

rebecca's mom said...

you are soooooo beautiful and so much fun I like your blog so much good luck with everything .

Jen said...

While I've known your real name for a while now (how's Elena?), it's nice to "see" you too! And you are adorable - in that first picture, you look like Sarah from Labyrinth (minus the adolescent drama, of course ;D). Best of luck with the Kickstarter and conference,
from a fellow 30-something with gray hairs, big pores, eye bags, and glasses!

DJwolf-Addy said...

You are so beautiful! (You look a bit like Belle) And Your real name is so lovely!

Shannon said...

Thank you for introducing yourself!
I am sure I've heard of Mount Herman(I think a friend went there regularly when we were kids?) But the funniest thing is that Robin Jones Gunn is the sister of my dad's best friend. It sounds like a stretch, but she sent me signed Christy Miller books for my 14th birthday. And my dad's been best man for her brother.

And I'm 31. Just a little younger than you. I love books, so I hope you succeed and that I'm able to read and love your book.

Anonymous said...

Best of luck and a lot of success, both with your writing and that kickstarter thing. As a longtime-lurker, I've always enjoyed reading your blog posts - your reviews in particular. You do have a real talent with words. It's nice to see the face behind the writing - you look great, btw, and I think you are very brave :)
Kind regards, Silke

Natasha Marie said...

It's so good to see you, Belle/Hannah! You're so pretty and cute! And, actually closer to how I pictured you already. Good luck with your Kickstarter! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Hannah!
Congratulations on getting so far with your book! *Does happy dance* I'm a writer, too, and I know how hard that can be. :P

It's fun seeing a picture of you. You look a lot like Belle! :D

Have an awesome time at the conference!

--Kate :)

beastsbelle said...

ARRRGGGGGHHHHH!!! I just spent the last 15 minutes responding to all of your comments, forgetting that Blogger only allows a certain amount of words in their comments, and it erased everything!!! Sigh. Moving on, and replying to everything AGAIN!! :{

beastsbelle said...

Hi Kathleen! Thank you for stopping by. I hope I get to go, too! It's looking pretty promising so far. :)

Congrats on your writing, too! I think the editing stage can be the hardest part, especially when you have so many other obligations. ;)

I can see how you'd imagine me as some of my dolls. I tend to do that with other bloggers, especially when they use a doll picture for their profile picture. ;) And really, my coloring's not too far off from Emma, Hayden, and Jenna's...sort of. Except for the fact that I've never found an AG doll with my eye color. The old Pre-Mattel gray eyes are about the closest.

I know it will take some time to get used to the "real" me and my real name. No worries! ;)

I love fairy tale rewrites too! (Obviously, since I'm writing one of my own.) ;) Good luck with yours!

I'm assuming you're talking about "Beauty" by Robin McKinley? (One of my favorite B&tB retellings, by the way.) My ten-year-old daughter has read it and loved it. I would say probably ages nine and up (I still love it at thirty-three.) ;) It's been a while since I've read it, so I can't remember specifics, but nothing comes to mind as being really bad content-wise. There are a lot of references to characters in Greek mythology, which don't always make sense if you're not familiar with Greek mythology (which I'm not). The book can still be enjoyed even if you're not, though.

Lol, don't worry...I don't mind rabbit trails. ;)

Thank you so much, Phyllis! I've been pretty happy with my name. It's always fun to meet other Hannahs, too. ;)

I'm already getting to the point where I appreciate the advantage of looking younger than I am. It wasn't so fun when I was younger, but I'm certainly enjoying it now! ;)

Thank you, I'm thrilled about this next stage of the journey. :) Belle's Bulletins was a lot of fun to write and great practice for me. :)

Thank you very much, Jessica! :) Nice to know I'm not the only gappy, tinsel-adorned one out there. ;) Thanks for stopping by!

Thank you, Kirren! Sorry Blogger was stinky for you, too! :(

Thanks for the encouragement. :)

beastsbelle said...

Everyone after Kirren, I'll come back and respond to your comments later this evening. I have to go pick up the girls from school! :}

Lydia Therese said...

You are really pretty! You look really close to what I imagined. I love the name Hannah. :] Good luck with your book!

~Lydia~ <3

beastsbelle said...

Thank you very much, ag lover 2003! :)

Tam, thanks so much. :) Lol, what a great story about you and your husband! :) Lol, I'm definitely enjoying the benefits of looking younger now. I know it can't last forever. ;)

Thanks, Saturday Sequins! Thanks for the link, too. I hadn't heard of Jeff Goins before today. I'll have to check his site out! :)

Hi Amber! Thanks so much for stopping by. :) I was super nervous about sharing a photo of the "real" me on here, but once I did, I felt this weird sense of relief. ;) It's helped that everyone has been so kind.:)

My name did come from the Bible. When I was a kid, it was always fun when we got to I Samuel in Sunday School or something. I loved reading about Hannah in the Bible. ;)

I think your name is lovely, too! :)

Thank you very much. It's looking pretty likely at this point that I'll be able to go! I'm really looking forward to it!

Thank you so much, MyLittleMegara! :) You guys are making a childhood dream come true with all of the "Belle" comments. I always wanted to look like her when I was little. ;)

beastsbelle said...

Hi Natalie! Thank you for stopping by and commenting. :) It's so funny how so many of you see "Belle" in me.

I'd never heard of Lucy Griffiths (I had to Google her), but she definitely has my coloring.

Thank you so much for your encouragement. I'm very excited to see where this writing journey takes me! :)

Thank you, Casey! Great to hear from you! P.S. Sorry you haven't gotten your Christmas card yet. Things got really crazy around Christmas and I just didn't get to it. I'll try to get it out to you this week. :}

Thanks so much, honeysucklejasmine. :) It's been so much fun getting to know you through this blog and Flickr. Thanks for taking the time to stop by. :)

Thank you, rebecca's mom! :D

Hi Jen! Thanks for stopping by and saying hello. :) Elena is doing great, by the way. She's sitting on display with some of my other non-AG dolls, looking lovely as always. I think of you every time I see her. :)

Hmm, Jennifer Connely...I'm feeling very flattered by all of these comparisons! ;)

Lol, I love that there are so many "tinsel" beauties hanging out here! ;) Changing the norm, one gal at a time! :D

Thanks again for stopping by. It's always great to hear from my bloggy friends that I've known almost since day one. ;)

Thank you so much, DJwolf-Addy! :)

Hi Shannon! Thanks so much for commenting.

How cool that you know Robin Jones Gunn! I'm so excited to meet her, especially since I've read so many of her books. What a wonderful birthday present, too! :)

Thanks for the encouragement! My goal is to tell my stories no matter what, so even if I don't succeed with the traditional publishing route, I plan on looking into self-publishing. :)

Thank you so much, Silke! I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and share your thoughts. :)

Hi Natasha Marie! It's so good to hear from you! Thanks for stopping by. I'm sorry I haven't commented on your blog in a really long time, but I lurk there often. ;) Congratulations on your marriage!! I loved seeing all the pictures you shared. :) I'm so excited that Kellie is engaged, too! :D You girls were some of my other first blogging friends, so it's always fun to hear from you. :)

Thank you so much, Kate! Yes, buckling down and actually getting writing done does seem to be a challenge much of the time, doesn't it? ;)

I'm really looking forward to the conference, and it's looking very likely that I'm going to make it!! :D I'm excited and nervous at the same time. :)

I think that's all the comments!! Thank you to everyone who left your thoughts. I was really nervous about sharing pictures of myself for the first time, but you were all so kind it ended up being not very scary after all. ;) You all are the best!!

Jordy said...

Good luck, Hannah!
That writing convention thing sounds like so much fun; I hope you get to go!
I myself am looking into it now, but am 6 and 1/2 hours away.
You are beautiful, by the way. <3

beastsbelle said...

Thank you, Lydia Therese! :)

All AG said...

You're so beautiful! :3 I loved your blog so many years, but it's amazing to see picture you (of course, I loved it just as much before, you're amazing <3) but I hope your writing adventure continues. Plus, Hannah is an amazing name, one of my friends has that name! :3

beastsbelle said...

Thank you very much, All AG. :) It's always fun hearing from you. :)