The Return

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In which I explain why stopped blogging and announce my hesitant return.

Hello, everyone.

I’ve spent the past week plotting my return to blogging here at Betwined Reads. I spent some much need time thinking long and hard about what I want this space to be, what I have to offer, and for whom I am writing this blog. A necessary question I had to ask myself was what has kept me from blogging, and that was the hardest to fully nail down. Especially since it feels sometimes that I have nothing but time.

I used to think that I could not blog if I wasn’t reading or writing, that there’d be nothing of value to talk about. But recently I have been both reading and writing and I have still been hesitant to hit that “Write” button and start new posts.

So what else?

Blogging can be hard work. Dedicating time to sit down and write. Editing your words to make sure they’re as clear and concise as possible. Working on the presentation of the blog post (i.e. featured images, banners). It’s easy to get burned out! Especially if at the end of the day, you are not happy with what you are creating. And I have not been happy with my most recent blog posts.

When I would go back to reread my posts after I published them, I often felt that words rang hollow. It’s not that I have ever lied about my thoughts or opinions in my blog posts, but I have realized that I’ve censored myself.

Censored, how? you might be wondering. Well, I feel like I’ve kept you, my blog readers, at an arm’s distance, if that makes sense. Too a degree I think it’s something we all do, and that’s not the problem in itself. But I feel that what I’d censored has been an important part of what makes me me. And it has made me feel like a phony.

I’ve felt lost ever since graduating college in 2015, and even though I went straight to grad school that fall, I’ve felt like a paper bag floating in the wind. I’ve got no roots anywhere and feel directionless, especially since I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. I feel at such odds with the optimism of the young book bloggers filling this space and the young housewives and mothers who have stability and peace of mind to build and run their book blogs.

This is feeling of inadequacy is what I’ve been hiding. It’s scary. I often vacillate wildly between feelings of confidence/insecurity and optimism/hopelessness. Looking back at the past year’s posts, I don’t recognize myself in that false optimism.

So when I was thinking about how I might get back into blogging, I realized that I needed to abandon these subconscious desires to portray myself as someone who has it all together and figured out. I needed to stop looking at how other book bloggers write and find something that was authentic to me.

I thought about what I personally look for in a blog. In many ways, I realized that there are no bloggers (that I’m aware of) that really fulfilled what I was looking for. So my goal is fill that void with the blog posts I create moving forward.

I’m not faking optimism this time when I say I want to start posting regularly to this blog. I want to write blog posts about the books I’m reading and the things that are making me happy at the moment. I also want to help others who might feel as lost as I do. I’m going to start writing with the target audience of myself in mind.

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who made it through this entire post. And I’m sorry if I’ve in any way let anyone down.

If you are still on the fence about whether you want to be subscribed to this blog, I recommend checking out my recently updated About page that has been renamed The Girl & the Blog. My hope is that it does a good job of explaining what I like and what you can expect from the blog. I have many posts in the pipeline and can’t wait to start making things of which I can be proud.

Thank you for reading!
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New Year’s Resolutions of 2018

Listening to: Emma Blackery’s 365: January playlist on Spotify
Reading: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
Watching: The Good Doctor
Playing: Township
Eating: Homemade veggie pizza
Drinking: Monster (left behind by my brother)

Hi there.

It’s been a while, and I don’t want to dwell on why. I just want to jump back into the blog. I will say that I am looking forward to the future for the first time since September.

This optimism has mostly to do with my decision to leave my soul crushing part-time job. I don’t have another job yet, but I’ve found this move extremely important for my sanity. Maybe I’ll do a blog post on this in the future, because there’s not a lot I want to say on it at the moment. I just want to move past it.

Now that I’m I wanted to share my new year’s resolutions, since I finally have them. I know it’s late, but I didn’t start off the new year in such a happy place after the crazy holiday season working in retail. It was easier to turn my brain off and not think about much beyond the daily grind. So the first week of 2018 was spent…coming back to life in a way.

I know that people have a lot of thoughts on whether new year’s resolutions are worth making when so many fall by the wayside by February, but I’ve always liked setting them. Especially since becoming a blogger, I feel like they help me set the tone for what I want to do this year. They’re rarely achieved, but I still think, personally, that it’s better to set them and not reach them than to have nothing to work towards at all.

Anyway, here they are.

1. Try 20 new food recipes. 

Last June I began my transition towards a plant-based diet (think vegan minus the die-hard ethical side of it). Overall it was not too difficult after I established my go-to meals and learned to say no to all fast and junk food people offer. I’ve had my slip ups and weeks where I wasn’t too strict about looking at food labels for what eggs or dairy, but after everything I’ve realized that this is not just a diet, but a permanent life change.

My body physically hurts when I eat meat or dairy now.

So this year I want to start experimenting with more plant-based recipes. Vegan YouTube is super helpful, but I always find myself tweaking recipes as I go so maybe I’ll share my own spin on ones that end up on my favorites list.

2. Watch 20 documentaries.

I can watch The Office and Parks & Recreation all year long. It’s a problem. These shows are just my go-to’s when I have a little time to kill or am eating alone and there’s nothing new on YouTube. Netflix has a wonderful selection of documentaries of which I want to take better advantage, so that I can expand my mind and be inspired by new things.

3. Watch 20 new shows.

Going along with the previous goal, I want to expand my horizons and see more of what’s out there. At the end of 2017, I finally saw Mr. Robot, which has been on my radar for a long time and I really loved. I’m always annoyed with myself when I take too long to finally experience some things, so I want to force myself to branch out this year and experience more new good T.V.

I recently saw The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which was everything and then some. Next up will likely be some more things off Amazon Prime, as I lose my Prime membership in February because it’s too expensive for me right now. Thankfully, there will always be Netflix (as I’m on my parents’ account there!).

4. Read 20 books I owned before 2018.

I’ve hit a bit of a slump recently with my reading and I realized it hit one evening when I was looking at my bookshelves and realized nothing that was too new was calling to me. I panicked and have not tried to read much since then, although I have recently picked up Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld, a book I bought when I was first getting into book blogging in 2015.

It feels nice to be reading something that a past me bought, so I want to do more of that and remember why I bought certain books and see if I can get myself back into those mindsets and reclaim a bit of the past that’s been lost since I graduated.


These are the goals that I will be tracking on the blog this year. I’ve made a page called Resolutions of 2018 under my About Me heading so that I can keep a list with links to any posts in which I may reference the items that fit under any of the four goal categories.

I have some additional goals I’d like to accomplish this year (i.e., finish my book, start my BookTube channel), but I’ll share those later on as they become more defined. They’ll be harder to track throughout the year than the goals I list in this post, so I’ll likely dedicate separate posts to them when the time seems more right.

End Note

The focus of this blog will still primarily be books and writing, but I see it becoming a bookish lifestyle blog in the future rather than just a place where I talk books and writing as a separate life. I’ve become a bit disenchanted by the direction the most popular book blogs have gone recently and don’t feel like I want to add to the noise of that niche. I want to make this space a bit more personal to me and the people who choose to follow my reading and writing journey. Hopefully the sound of this still interests you!

Not sure what you can expect next, but I’ll be working on it.

Thank you for reading!
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Writing Update #1 | NaNoWriMo 2017


Hey, everyone! Hope you’re doing well and hanging in there! In case you haven’t noticed from my lack of posting, I’ve been avoiding writing this post. The writing has been a struggle for me personally, and I’ve been waiting for something positive to happen before I write my first update. I’ve realized though that it’s late enough in the month that I need to update or I’ll have no record to look back on at the end of this month, so here I am!

This post comes to you in two parts:

  1.  An update on how my writing is going
  2. The tricks and advice that are keeping me going

Novel Progress

As I predicted at the beginning of NaNoWriMo I did a lot of jumping around at the beginning. I started towards the beginning and as I wrote and learned more about the story, I began jumping ahead to make notes under chapter headings of things I want to remember to write once I get there in this draft.

I started this month with a Word document that contained 30 chapters with headings to remind me at what point I should have major plot points (e.g midpoint, pinches, climax, etc.) happening. I adjust these periodically and by no means am dead set on ending with 30 chapters. I just find it useful as visual representation of the mental framework I want to remember to follow so that stuff is actually happening. (I’m too good at stalling the story while I set up scenes that aren’t fully formed yet.)

There are often a lot of thoughts bouncing around in my head as I write. I’m try to stay in the moment, but my internal editor is always reminding me that I’m telling too much and that I keep changing my writing POV and that holistically the story is a mess and that my protagonist has no personality. But something I’ve found very encouraging to remember, when I’m in the mood to be optimistic are these words from Adam Silvera.

“For the first draft I “Tell Now, Show Later” because I gotta learn the characters and story first by TELLING myself before SHOWING you.

I find it a lot easier to write when I remember that this a crucial first step in writing a novel. I need to get all my ideas out and then select from amongst them the strongest that will make this story more coherent. Not everything will be necessary to include in a final draft, but the final draft will not be reachable unless I get all these scenes out of my head.

I also remind myself that I will be able to commit to a POV after I’ve decided what I want to keep and how to best have the story unfold. At that point I will be able to better develop my protagonist’s voice and better bring her to life.

So right now as I endeavor to catch up, I’m still jumping around to write the most interesting bits and following leads I discover as I write. I’m also rereading what I’ve written, which I know some people advise against, but I always find I’m able to add words as I reread and make things more clear because when I sprint I find I leave out clarifying and descriptive details in my hurry to keep up with the story unfolding in my head.

I also make in-line notes about things I want to fix later or add to make certain details more meaningful. And the best thing about doing it this way is I feel like I’m satisfying my inner editor and adding to my word count!

At this point, I figure I’ll share my current writing stats as depicted in graph form. Bare in mind, that although I’m behind, I have not given up hope!

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Tricks That Help Me Keep Writing

I’m not a fast writer. I also find it difficult to write when I’m stressed out or deeply unhappy about something, because the words I write at these moments are often tinged with those negative emotions. Because I don’t think anyone should force themselves to write if they’re not in the right headspace for it (which, let me be clear, I consider separate from the infamous “writer’s block” headspace), I have found certain ways to keep adding words and not feel like I’m totally slacking.

These are my tricks for anyone struggling to write:

  1. Open a second NaNoWriMo document for all the extra stuff you don’t want cluttering your main story and don’t want to delete for the sake of winning. In my second document, I have transferred scenes that no longer fit, summaries for scenes that I’ve since written, and ideas for spin-off storylines and even related novel ideas I may want to pursue later! Then I just add up the word counts between the two documents when I want to update my NaNoWriMo word count on the website.
  2. Commit yourself each day to time spent with your butt in your writing chair. NaNoWriMo is all about that word count, but I find it much easier some days to think of success in terms of time spent writing rather than words written. If you often find yourself procrastinating on writing because you’re telling yourself you can do it later in the day, this might be something that can help you. I often find myself getting ants in my pants after I’ve written a couple hundred words and feel like I deserve a break, but it’s avoidant behavior that shouldn’t be indulged! If I tell myself to sit down for an hour and not get up, I often find that I’ll end up writing things that surprise myself and make me want to keep writing. These are often things I would’ve never thought of if I was allowing myself to take a break every 20 minutes.
  3. Don’t look at your friend’s stats if you’re behind! When I’m on track or even ahead, I find it incredibly reassuring to look at my writing buddies’ stats and remind myself that I’m doing exactly what I should be doing. But if you’ve not been able to write for a few days and have fallen really behind, comparisons can be really detrimental to your already fragile writing self-esteem. So my advice for catching up is to look up how many words you need to write each day to catch up and focus on meeting or exceeding that goal.

I also wanted to share a video with some good advice for those of you who may be stuck because you do not know what to write next! I was going to share this video in a post that may not end up happening so now’s a good a time as any.

In “WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? | NANOWRIMO DAY 6” Katytastic provides what I think is excellent advice for this predicament, starting around 1:31 in the video.

End Note

Writing is hard. There’s no way around it. If  you are behind and feel like all is lost, I encourage you to look at your NaNo stats, which provide an estimate of how many words per day you need to write to still finish on time. As I am currently at 6,927 words on Day 14, my current estimate is 2,534 words, which is not hopeless! Especially when I think about how some days I may still manage to write more than that.

I don’t know when I’ll be able to update you all again. My priority is winning NaNoWriMo so I can’t guarantee another one this month, but I do hope to update you if and when I am able to catch up to where I need to be.

Thank you for reading!
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October Wrap Up + November TBR

It’s a little late but I still wanted to do my October Wrap Up and November TBR, both of which I decided to combine because I didn’t feel I really had enough content for two separate posts. I didn’t read much in October and I don’t expect November to be much better because of NaNoWriMo.

I’m pretty happy at this point that I’m right on track with my Goodreads Reading Challenge, even if it’s only because I lucked out in starting a new trilogy with such short books that I could burn through them really quickly.

October ’17 Wrap Up

  1. Uprooted by Naomi Novik – Reviewed!
  2. White Cat by Holly Black
  3. Red Glove by Holly Black (didn’t finish until November 6th)

I loved what I read in October! I had suspected I would really like Uprooted, but it was still a lovely surprise of a read. It was nothing like I had expected and a refreshing standalone fantasy novel. There were some cliches that irked me, but overall I think the author managed to challenge them enough to satisfy me. The main thing I appreciate from a writer’s standpoint is how a book with magic can still have beautiful moments that illuminate human nature. I really hope to do that will the stories I write.

White Cat I started because I watched an interview with Leigh Bardugo and at 46:20 she recommends reading the Curse Workers trilogy by Holly Black if you’re a fan of Six of Crows. I was going to write a book review for it, but I started the sequel Red Glove immediately and then NaNoWriMo started and it just didn’t happen, which I’m super bummed about. I may read them again and try to do a series review or something because I think these books are a little underhyped.

I’ve never read anything by Holly Black before (other than her co-written middle grade fantasy The Iron Trial, which I felt was really derivative of Harry Potter). I feel like the Curse Workers trilogy is something I would’ve really loved in middle school when I was an avid reader. But I still enjoyed them a lot reading them now.

The books are set in an alternative universe U.S. on the east coast where the magical mafia is a thing! Workers are people who are born with one of seven abilities: physical, memories, luck, emotions, dreams, death, and transformation. People wear gloves because everyone fears being worked upon. In the backdrop of the stories, the government is trying to pass legislation that makes testing mandatory so that workers are identified.

I love the protagonist Cassel. He’s adorable and reading from his perspective is refreshing for me personally for two reasons. One, because I feel like I’ve been reading a lot of novels with female protagonists. I hadn’t noticed until I read this book and am hearing him talk about his girlfriends and realize just how subtly different it is to be a boy than a girl. The second reason is just because I don’t read a lot of books set during high school anymore, so the background concerns about staying out of trouble in school and worrying about homework and grades took me back.

November ’17 TBR

As I’ve mentioned loads in the past week, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo so I don’t think I’ll be reading too much, but given that it is the end of the year already somehow I want to stay on track! So I’m still planning on reading at least three books: one novel, an anthology, and a non-fiction book.

Books I Want to Read

  1. Black Heart by Holly Black
  2. The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
  3. A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888-1889 by Frederic Morton

I’ve already read Black Heart, because I totally procrastinated on this post. It was a satisfying conclusion to a too short series. I’m honestly distraught that I won’t have these books to look forward to at night and when I want to procrastinate on writing.

Next up is The Language of Thorns, which I pre-ordered ahead of its September release this year. I think an anthology is a smart choice for NaNoWriMo, because I won’t need to binge it all in one go; I can read a story here and there and not feel like I’m spending too much time away from my own story.

I may also be able to read A Nervous Splendor at the same time. This novel is one I bought for my German Lit. class last fall and it’s somewhat inspiring the world and some events in my novel so I figure it’s a good time to finally read it and hope it positively influencing my worldbuilding.

End Note

Sorry this post is coming so late, but writing and reading have taken up a majority of time of late. I’ve also been working on job application and will soon start grad school application. I plan to release a NaNoWriMo writing update very soon (maybe even tonight), so stay tuned for that! I don’t have many words yet but I have gotten a lot done.

Thank you for reading!
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What I’m Writing This Year | NaNoWriMo 2017

What I'm Writing

In which I share details about my WIP and how I plan to write it.

Happy Halloween! It is 7:16 p.m. as I finally begin drafting this post and I can hear the rain outside pattering against the window and flowing through the gutter. I had intended to begin writing this earlier. I had also thought I might start writing the novel already, but my sinuses have been bothering me since Monday and I’ve just been trying to get some rest.

I’ve finally created my novel on the NaNoWriMo website. Feel free to add me as a writing buddy if you would like so you can keep up with my writing progress if you are interested. I’ve added a one sentence summary to it, which I will include below.

A thirteen-year-old witch is abducted in the place of the sickly young princess in order to end a century-long curse upon the beasts who have been plaguing the countryside.

It’s going to be a YA-targeted fantasy novel. I’m still reluctant to share much more details about the story as I still feel it might change at any point, as it often has in the past as I write. I’m fairly confident in how the story will begin and, thus, I’m willing to commit to it here finally!

I anticipate there will be lots of adventure, political intrigue, and magical beasts.

How I Plan to Write

I have found that starting from the beginning is often counterproductive for me, as it will often change the course of my novel before I’ve gotten to what I have planned. It’s actually heart-breaking, because I really love writing new beginnings (more so than finishing novels in fact). But that’s why I know it will be better if I save it for later. It’s something to look forward to.

I’m going to be writing out of order this year, and jumping around as I see fit to add stuff where I feel I need to in the moment. I’ll also be writing partially in summary form and probably by subplot line so nothing is forgotten.

The very first thing I’m eager to do first thing on November 1st is write all the scenes featuring the antagonist, whether they be direct interactions or bits that will foreshadow. I’m also eager to build up a big lead at the beginning as I know it will be difficult to write on days I work, and it’s important not to fall behind too early.

End Note

I intend to post writing updates throughout the month. In the past, I’ve attempted weekly updates on my story. I will most likely try this again, but I don’t want to make any promises if it begins to seem like it’s getting in the way of my actual writing. I plan to have a couple more posts going up this week, including a book review and my October Wrap Up that I’ve decided to combine with my November TBR since both should be fairly short.

I’m so excited to start writing! Best of luck to anyone who is participating! You can do this!

Thank you for reading!
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Let’s Talk Plot + Tips | NaNoWriMo 2017

Plot Tips

A post for anyone who might want to participate in NaNoWriMo, but doesn’t know what to write.

I think one of the main obstacles that prevents people from even trying to attempt NaNoWriMo is that they don’t know what they want to write. Some people have loads of works-in-progress, so choosing between them might be the most of their worries. And of course, there are those pantsers who are perfectly content to just write by the seat of their pants with no plans in sight, following every scent they come across as they go.

But for others like me, there might a desire to write but a hesitance, maybe related to confidence, to choose something and just go for it.

I have struggled with plot a lot in the past. I used to be a pantser, and was successful at completing NaNoWriMo. But once I realized that the drafts I wrote were not anything I wanted to continue working on past NaNoWriMo and that one of the major determinants of what books become my favorites is a strong plot I decided I wanted to become a writer with a plan. Of course, it’s been easier said than done.

I do not have all the answers and am still figuring out how to plot in a way that works for me. But I have come across a bunch of tips and resources that might help others, which is why I wanted to compile them here in a post for anyone who might benefit.

Bare in mind, this is not a comprehensive list, only stuff that I’ve personally come across and think have best influenced me.


  1. NaNoWriMo Adopt A Plot Forum. The official NaNoWriMo has an entire forum listed to adoptables each year. Here’s a link specifically to the Adopt a Plot forum, where people list anything from plot synopses to questions that might spark ideas. So it’s not exactly full-length prompts, but this might be a good starting point for you if you’re not even sure what kind of story you want to write yet.
  2. Three Act Structure. One of my favorite YouTubers is Katytastic who got her start making writing videos. Her explanation of the Three Act Structure is really easy to follow and something that might help you develop an effective plot that takes place over 27 chapters. It might make your story feel formulaic at first, but I think it’s a good starting place for a first draft and it may be smoothed out after the core of the story is written.
  3. Marissa Meyer’s 9 Steps from Idea to Finished. On her blog, the author of the Lunar Chronicles shows how she brainstorms/ researches and outlines in a few posts that I have found really helpful. I’ve not quite reached the point where her last few steps come in handy (e.g. revision), but I will definitely return to this series once I’ve got a first draft I’m ready to polish.

One Option (For if you’re really stuck)

Do a retelling of a well-known or beloved story with a different cast and setting. Some really successful fantasy novels that have done this are the A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy and the Lunar Chronicles series. For instance, you might select a favorite Grim’s fairytale, Shakespeare play, Jane Austen novel, Biblical story, or tale from any other world mythology that speaks to you. Classics are wonderful sources to pull from because they’ve stood the test of time and are still around because there’s something universal about their stories that continues to resonate with modern day readers.

End Note

One last thing I want to leave you with before I go is about how prepared you need to be. Hank Green on the YouTube channel he shares with his brother John recently did a video called “The Secret to My Productivity” in which he describes that he doesn’t shoot to be 100% ready before he starts anything; he gets to 80% and then gets going. It might be hard to wrap your head around it, especially if you grasp at any excuse to hold off the future (like me). But I do believe he might be onto something.

I’ve come to realize over the last year that one thing that has really held me back in life is waiting until I’m 100% ready to do anything, which means I’ve gotten very little done. So what I’m getting at is that you should not not participate in NaNoWriMo if you don’t feel like you’ve figure out every last detail about your story. There’s point were you need to just start if you feel like you have enough to go on to figure out the rest along the way.

I hope you’ve found this post helpful. I wish I had more to share, but I think these tidbits are a good starting point for anyone who’s not got much planned at all. On Halloween I plan to finally tell you all about the story I’m writing for NaNoWriMo and how I think I’m going to be successful.

Thank you for reading!
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Announcement + Plans | NaNoWriMo 2017

Today I want to officially announce that I will be participating in NaNoWriMo 2017! In case you’ve never heard of it, NaNoWriMo is a month-long writing event that takes place each November. The main objective is to complete a new novel from scratch with a minimum of 50,000 words by the end of the month, which translates roughly to 1,667 words per day. It’s a whirlwind, but it’s fun!

I prefer to think of the rules as guidelines, so I anticipate I may start my novel early. But my goal will still be to add 50,000 words between November 1-30.

If you are not certain if you would like to participate, I encourage you give it a shot if you’ve ever thought you wanted to be a writer. It’s an amazing time of the year where all kinds of writers are joined together over this crazy goal and you will have so much emotional and motivational support, especially if you are active in the NaNoWriMo forums or on Twitter where there will almost always be writing sprints available.

Directly following today’s post, I plan to release two more before November 1st. One will cover some thoughts and tips on plot for anyone who may be still be wondering about what they want to write if they participate. In the second I will share as much as I can about my novel and how I personally think I will go about writing, including personal goals.

During the month I hope to do weekly writing updates, some things I might find useful as I go. I also am already planning an inspiration/motivation post for the second week of November that I think will help anyone like me who is sure to be suffering after the “honeymoon period” of NaNoWriMo (aka the time after the initial week’s excitement when the doubts settle in and distractions come into play).

Pep talks I think only work so much and I’ve stumbled upon a few resources I will share along the month that may hopefully help you keep your writing mojo going. I do think that one of the most important things to keep in mind is that it’s supposed to be fun.

End Note

Let me know in the comments if you plan to participate in NaNoWriMo or have any questions I or anyone else might be able to answer. If you have no interest in NaNo-themed posts, rest assured I will continue to post book reviews or anything else I find interesting on the topic of books through November. I will have my October ’17 Wrap Up and November ’17 TBR coming out next weekend after the NaNoWriMo kick off is completed. ^_^

Thank you for reading!
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