Saturday, August 19, 2017

The First Impressions Project #1 // Mary Shelley

Have you ever wondered what someone's first impression of you would be? It's a funny thing to think about. Being the introverted people that we are, my blogger tribe has discussed this many times, and I decided that I wanted to make a bit of a project of writing down my first impressions of people. Not all of them will end up here on the blog because y'know, I don't want some stranger suing me or something drastic, but I think this could be a fun little recurring series.

I'm cheating a little bit on this first one- this wasn't my first time meeting Mary Shelley. We actually met for the first time this past spring, but it was for a very brief amount of time, so we're just going to disregard that little factor for the moment. Anyways. Mary Shelley is a dear friend of mine, and I was so excited when we made plans to meet up for coffee. We ended up spending almost three hours together, and it was absolutely wonderful. She's the absolute sweetest human being, and everyone needs someone like her in their life.

Mary Shelley always reminds me of the color yellow. She is a field of sunflowers and bright sunshine, and she is the deep, vibrant yellow of autumn trees, and she is cozy mustard-colored sweaters. Her eyes sparkle, and crinkle around the corners when she smiles, which is often. When she listens, she wraps her hand over the top of her coffee cup and twirls the straw, and you can practically see her thoughts swirling. She pauses slightly before she speaks, telling stories woven with detail, many of which make me laugh. If you've read Mary Shelley's blog posts, or gotten to know her through the blogosphere, you have met the true Mary Shelley. She is exactly the same in real life as she is online, which I adore. We discuss all kinds of things, from school to writing projects to Broadway to personality typing, hidden away from the hot sun in a little alcove. We both comment on the twinkle lights, deciding that they make the world a better place. She laughs at my terribly random stories, and tells me all about her precious new puppy, Rocky. She is such a genuinely kind person, one who radiates joy and really does make time fly by. Mary Shelley, you are wonderful! I am so glad to have you as a friend. ♥


Saturday, August 12, 2017

3 Years of Totally Graced- IT'S PARTY TIME! Survey + Giveaway And More!

*massive eruption of confetti*


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For some of you epic bloggers out there who have been a part of the blogosphere for seven or eight years, I know that this may not seem like a long time, but oh my goodness, I can't believe that I've been running this site for three years now. It blows my mind a bit. 

I started Totally Graced as a horribly awkward freshman back in 2014, and now I can't believe that I'm still blogging going into my senior year. Honestly no less awkward, let's be real. This has been my longest-lasting project, and I'm so thankful for everything that I've learned and gained through blogging. This little chunk of the internet has been a home for me, an escape from the craziness of life, and I'm so happy to have had it throughout all of the insanity that has been high school. 

I don't know what's in store for the next year of blogging. I do have quite a few post ideas brewing, and I'd also love to do more collaborations, so if you're interested in that, definitely shoot me an email sometime! Other than that, who knows? I'm just excited for the adventure. 

BUT ENOUGH SCARY FUTURE TALK! It's the blogiversary, so...TIME TO PARTY!

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Honestly, the most amazing part of blogging is the people. The blogging community is filled to the brim with so many incredible humans, and I love what a positive and uplifting space we've created. I wanted to thank some of the lovely girls who have been especially large parts of my life- they all have incredible blogs and are SO talented, so if you haven't yet, you NEED to check them out! 

Aaliyah- Where do I even start? My insta-consultant, my ranting partner, my person. Thank you for your constant advice and love and encouragement. Our conversations are my favorite, and I love you more than I can say. 

Abbie- My lovely fairy squad mother, the waffle queen. You are so upbeat, positive, and encouraging, and I am so thankful for you. You bring so much light and joy into the blogger world, and you inspire us all. 

Abby- It's actually freaky how similar we are- I truly think our only point of disagreement is breakfast food! I love ranting with you about theatre, characterization, and life. You are so smart and you always are filled to the brim with the best ideas. I am so thankful for you!!

Abby Rose- The queen of music recommendations, the writer who breaks my heart on the daily, and one of my oldest friends. I still remember our first few conversations- oh, how we've grown from the days of ranting over 39 Clues couples and coming up with epic theories (that I will never be convinced are false). You are amazing and I love you so much.

Aimee-YOU ARE JUST THE BEST HUMAN OKAY? I am forever proud of you and all of your incredible accomplishments and projects. You inspire me constantly, and you're also just one of the absolute sweetest people. I love being pen pals. <3 

Autumn- AUTUMN!! You are so full of happiness and encouragement and joy, talking to you is the best. Remember me when you're famous for your amazing baked goods, okay? 

Hannah- My sweet twin, oh, how thankful I am for you. You truly epitomize grace, and I cannot wait to hear about all of your Disney adventures, because YOU ARE SUCH A DISNEY PRINCESS! <3 Thank you for your constant advice and wisdom. You are such a blessing. 

JacyRayn- You are the embodiment of sunshine and I love our Jesus talks. Forever amazed by your gorgeous voice and heart of gold. <3

Kate- You are one of my biggest inspirations, and I love that I can also call you a friend. You are wise beyond your years and SO FREAKING TALENTED. You weave worlds with your words, and it is so beautiful. 

Mary Shelley- MY BEAUTIFUL SUNFLOWER!! You are one of the kindest, most lovely souls, and I am forever looking forward to our coffee date. You have a way with words unlike anyone I've ever known, and I can't wait to be first in line to buy your best-seller. 

Olivia- You were one of my very first blogging friends, and I will forever be so glad to have you in my life. I love how you can literally switch from making me laugh to encouraging me with Jesus in approximately .2 seconds, and just generally make my day like...every day. xD YOU ARE SO WONDERFUL I CANNOT HANDLE IT.

Rachel- You are genuinely one of the most creative, talented, driven people I have ever known. You make me laugh on the daily and you also make me think, which I love in a friendship. Keep being the fantastic human being that you are- you're gonna change the world.

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I feel like stats are a really fun way to see how you've grown over the years. So here are my stats from the last three!

First Blogiversary-
Pageviews- 8,046
Blogger Followers- 27

Email Followers- 0
Instagram- n/a
Pinterest- n/a
Twitter- n/a

Bloglovin'- n/a

Second Blogiversary-
Pageviews- 26,424
Blogger Followers- 65
Email Followers- 13
Instagram- 160
Pinterest- 37
Twitter- 60

Bloglovin'- n/a

Third Blogiversary-
Pageviews- 59,500
Blogger Followers- 132
Email Followers- 419 (pretty sure these have to be spam followers but hey)
Pinterest- 110
Twitter- 365
Bloglovin'- 47

It's so fun to see the growth! It means so much to me that you all take time out of your day to read the crazy things that I put out here on the internet. Thank you all so, so much. 

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Every year, I like to do a survey to see what you all think of my blog and how it could be improved. If you could take five minutes to answer a few quick questions, it would mean a lot. ♥

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Last, but not least, in honor of three years of Totally Graced, I'm hosting a giveaway!! The giveaway includes-

-(1) Handmade bracelet
-(1) Watercolored bookmark
-(1) $10 Starbucks gift card

I may also throw in some other small surprises, but you are guaranteed to receive these three items if you win! Unfortunately, I do have to make this giveaway U.S. only. I'm so sorry to all of my international friends! I hope to have an international giveaway sometime in the future. ♥

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thank you all for a wonderful three years! Here's to many more. ♥

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Dream Blogger Party Tag!

For months, my wonderful friend Abby over at Ups and Downs hinted about a big project she had coming out on August 1st. I was counting the days until she finally revealed it- a tag combining the blogger world and the "real" world. In being a blogger, you develop friendships with people all over the country- and sometimes even the world. While it isn't exactly an easy task to go and visit a friend on the other side of the country, we can't help but dream of what it would be like to have a giant blogger party. And thus, this fantastic tag was born. After all- who doesn't love party planning?


Name the venue!

The majority of my closest blogger friends live on the East Coast, with the exception of a few West Coasters, so we would probably just have to fly the few West Coasters out over here for the best chances of maximum attendance. I don't really have a specific place in mind, although I think that it would be really fun to rent one of those massive beach houses together. A blogger beach trip would be the definition of epic. Although at the same time, we would need to be somewhere with copious amounts of coffee shops and photo ops, so it might be best to go to a city- if we're staying in the south, Atlanta or Nashville would be good choices, or we could venture to one of the big cities up north, like New York City.

List three foods that need to be present

The obvious first choice is a breakfast bar. Waffles would obviously play a large role, along with pancakes as well, because we do love our pancake girls, even if we live in opposition on the topic of breakfast food. ;)

Pizza would also be a necessity. Many bloggers that I know are quite passionate about pizza, so it would definitely have to be on the menu.

Lastly, we would need coffee shop food. Yes, I'm stretching the "three foods" question, but this is important. If we're having a blogger party, we need copious amounts of coffee and tea, along with plenty of pastries and sandwiches. It's just a nonnegotiable.

Dance time! List five artists or bands for your party mix tape

-Ben Rector. Most bloggers that I know are big Ben Rector fans, so his music would definitely need to be involved.

-Twenty-One Pilots. Again, a common blogger favorite.

-Ed Sheeran. Because...Ed Sheeran.

-Epic soundtracks of every form.

-Aaliyah, Jacy Rayn, and Abbie. Let's be honest guys, WE'RE SURROUNDED BY FABULOUSLY TALENTED PEOPLE. I can just see Aaliyah and Jacy Rayn whipping out guitars and ukuleles, and Abbie sitting behind a piano, and the three of them leading us in the best indie-worship set of all time. It would be so fantastic.

What three activities would we mostly engage in?

I mean, obviously most of the time would be spent talking and freaking out over the fact that OH MY GOSH WE'RE ALL IN THE SAME ROOM. It would be the most exciting thing ever, and most of us would just be talking talking talking.

Photography would also be a large part of the event because..hello, we're bloggers. Everyone would be carrying their camera or phone, snapping photos CONSTANTLY. After the party was over, the rest of the blogosphere would probably hate us due to the overload of photos from the event, and we wouldn't even care.

I also think that would also be super fun to make mailboxes for everyone, and leave notes and such for each other throughout the event. Most bloggers that I know love all forms of stationary, notes, and snail mail, so I think that it would be really fun and sweet activity to have going on throughout the event. Plus, afterwards, everyone would have a box of memories to take home!

Describe a post collaborative you would do at the party.

Everyone would definitely be making mad plans to collaborate with everyone else. Everyone is so creative that I don't know what they'd come up with! Olivia and I have actually talked about this before, though (in our conversations dreaming about hanging out one day), so I know what she and I would be doing- The First Impression Project. Have you ever wondered what other people's first impression of you is? Olivia and I would be going around, talking to people, and then writing about them. It's really rather lovely.

What habits or interaction qualities would you notice?

At the beginning I'm sure it would be slightly awkward, because the majority of us are introverts and have never met before, but after the initial ice breaking, I think that it would be so much fun. Introverts would break out of their shells a bit, and we would all have the best time.


because this is the cutest tag image ever

In typical tag fashion, I now have to tag people! So, I tag-

And, of course, YOU! I want to hear all about your dream blogger party!


So, tell me, what would your dream blogger party be like? Are you going to take part in the tag? YOU TOTALLY SHOULD! Let's chat in the comments!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Andora's Folly Blog Tour!

Andora's Folly Cover 7.jpg

A Pandora's Box retelling

Andora is a beautiful young woman with insatiable curiosity. Raised in splendor, she is spoiled by her privileged life. When a love letter is slid under her door, her life takes a drastically unromantic turn. Nothing makes sense—her arranged marriage, the gifts her parents bestow on her wedding day, or her new husband’s temperament.

As Andora begins to unravel the mysteries around her, she ignites a chain of events that have the power to sabotage her entire village forever. Only her new-found wisdom as a desperate peasant's wife can save her from her folly.


Some of you may recall that I beta read my friend Abi's first book, Martin Hospitality, last autumn. More recently, I had opportunity to beta read her latest novella, Andora's Folly. It's a phenomenal retelling of Pandora's Box, and I'm so excited to be taking part in her blog tour today! If you aren't already familiar with Abi, be sure to head over and check out her blog- it's full of lots of writerly fun!


In my opinion, Abi's new novella is even stronger than her debut novel. Andora's Folly tells the tale of a wealthy young woman who is forced into the strangest arranged marriage of all time. As she struggles to adjust to her new life, she also has to unravel the strange nuances and questions that this situation has to offer.

Going into this novella, I was already intrigued by the premise. I was familiar with the story of Pandora's Box, so I was curious to see where Abi would take it. The story starts off with a really interesting prologue, which, (pro-tip) you definitely need to read, not just skim, haha. Speaking as someone who has a bad habit of not paying a ton of attention to prologues, trust me- this is a good one.

Abi keeps a beautiful balance of developing the characters and moving the plot along. You're left constantly wanting to know more about the characters and understand them better, while at the same time trying to keep up with the plot and wondering what is going to happen next. The mystery and intrigue draws you in and keeps you interested throughout the book. As in classic Abi style, there's also a killer romance that will leave you fangirling for days. It's just an overall fantastic book!

RATING- 4.5/5

I'm super proud of Abi and can't wait for you all to read this amazing book of hers! Order it on Amazon HERE today!!


Are YOU excited to read Andora's Folly?