What I’ve Been Up to During Hurricane Harvey…

Hi! 

I had two posts I wanted to go up at the end of last week, but then my job and general procrastination prevented me from finishing them. Then there was the anxiety of preparing for Hurricane Harvey. Where I live was not in Harvey’s direct path, but we’ve since been continuously pelted hard with heavy rain and it’s been hard to predict when it might stop. Meanwhile I’ve been getting constant tornado and flash flood alerts on my iPhone over the past couple of days.

One good thing that has come from this bout of horrible weather is that I didn’t have to go to work yesterday and, thus, I’ve had three days off essentially to relax after all the chaos of last week as people rushed to my workplace to stock up for hurricane essentials: water, bread, and batteries. Therefore, I’ve had time to catch up on my reading!

Last Thursday I picked off a four books from my shelves that I decided I wouldn’t mind reading this weekend and I’m happy to say I’ve made my way through three of them. The fourth, which technically would be considered a reread, I’ve decided I would like to take my time with and, therefore, I’m putting off until I’m more on track with my Goodreads Reading Challenge.

Recent Reads

Maus I by Art Spiegelman | I honestly can’t remember if I finished this one the first time I read it. I can see myself having faked it, as I picked it up for a group assignment in which we came up with a thematic unit plan. I’m happy I decided to give it another chance, even if it was only because it was a graphic novel I knew I could zoom through. It was a pleasant read, despite the horrors depicted. It shows the complexity of human nature during dangerous times. 3.5 stars.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle | I don’t remember the last time I read this one, but I still remember reading it in 5th grade vividly as it was probably the first book that made a big impression on me. It was also one that I remember made me want to become a writer. Reading it as a adult, I find myself still very attached to the characters. The main thing that surprised me is the rather simple plot. 4.5 stars.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling | I bought this book two years ago when it came out and I’m happy I waited this long to finally read it. It’s one of those that seems to have come to me at the perfect time. I don’t entirely relate to Mindy in interests or personality, but I admire by her work and work ethic. This book’s final chapter blew me away and has made me excited to give everything I do my all. 4.5 stars.

My Immediate TBR

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit | I’ve read this book a few times over the past few years since I first read it when I was…maybe eleven or twelve years old. It’s a great one to revisit every now and then and it stands the test of time in my opinion. It also helps that this is one of those classic books that I think has inspired my own writing.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart | This is a reread that I feel strangely apt to read right now as summer nears its end. It’s not one I would have thought to pick up except that I know it can be a quick read. It’s another that I can see being of value as I begin to write and I’m also interested in seeing how the experience is changed knowing as I do the ending, which caught me completely off guard before.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones | I want to end my journey through rereads with this one as Howl’s Moving Castle is a book that I consider a major source of writing inspiration. I think I’ve read this book a couple of times in the past as a young adult and I think it’s one that I will continue to reread throughout my life and leave with new insights.

Writing Update

I think I’m really close to nailing done my plot. Last week before I had to leave for a work shift,  I got about 3/4 through my plot by just summarizing. I realized that morning that I could waste no more time just hoping I’d work it out by thinking about it. I needed to write something down. Anything. Because I can’t make something of nothing. I’m so glad I did this because when I got home later that evening I was happy with most of what I got and could identify things that I did not like. Three such problem areas I found could be fixed by just moving plot points around!

The main thing I’m struggling with now is just the conclusion. I feel like I have a few ideas for things I know I want to happen with the protagonist but I need to figure out what would best and most satisfyingly challenge her to become who she needs to be.

I’m hoping to end the month of August with a conclusion I’m happy with. I’m also eager to share in more detail how I’ve been able to plot my story this month in case you might be able to benefit. In my last post, I said I wanted to be writing by September 22, the first day of fall. That’s still the goal, but I don’t think I’ll have a set word count for each day. I also have a feeling I may also be writing this book for NaNoWriMo, but more on this later…

End Note

I’m excited to finish my rereads so I can begin to read some of my new books! I may still do the book haul post I was planning, but if I don’t, you can probably expect to hear about my latest acquisitions in a September TBR. Not sure what my next post will be, but it will almost certainly come this week as there’s loads to share! I just need to make the time to write the posts in between my reading!

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#MakeMeRead Wrap Up, Reading Update, & Blog Plans

Hey! 

About two days ago I finally finished reading Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen, the only book I managed to pick up during the #MakeMeRead It Read-a-thon last week on account of completely forgetting what week it started on. I still completely plan to read Persuasion by Jane Austen, the second highest book on my poll, in the near future. I just didn’t feel a rush to jump into it right after Sense & Sensibility, as unlike that book or Pride & Prejudice, I have not seen a movie adaptation of this one and I worry if that’ll make it more challenging a read.

Currently Reading

I instead decided to reach for another book that has been on my TBR for over a year now, Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi. I read Boy, Snow, Bird and The Icarus Girl by the same author in 2015 and was enthralled by them, particularly the former. So I’m leisurely trying to make my way through Oyeyemi’s colorful collection of works. Of Mr. Fox, I will say that it hasn’t been exactly what I was expecting, but I’m fully on board now, although it was intitially disorienting.

What I read next this month is still uncertain. I’m currently mood reading right now, with a mind still on catching up on my Goodreads Reading Challenge. I’m perpetually about 6–7 books behind.

I have secured a part-time job finally and while it’s nothing too exciting, I suspect it will mean I’m reading a bit more on my iPhone, whether on breaks or in bed when I’m too tired after shifts to hold up a book. Earlier this year I decided to purchase Amazon Prime for the first time with my student discount and I just learned that with the membership you can access certain eBooks for free! I’ve downloaded five and I’m eager to get to them.

Blog Plans

I want to start posting more on here, but I’ve also realized I’m no good at scheduling blog posts. I’ve found that it doesn’t allow me flexibility to do what I want to do when I want to do it, and all too often I’ve forgotten when I haven’t put finishing touches on a post before it goes up.

As I mentioned above, I just got a part-time job. At the moment I’m not sure what my schedule will look like other than I will be working around 30 hours a week. Also, it is my hope that I can find a full-time job by the end of the year that better suits me and my life goals.

With these realizations in mind, a blog schedule will most likely not suit me at this time. However, I do want to continue to work on this blog by recording my reading and writing journey as well as my other creative pursuits as they come and go.

In the next couple of weeks I know I want to work on my graphic design skills, update all my pages, and start doing more formal book reviews, so you can expect all that right now at the very least!

Writing Update

I don’t have much to share on the writing front, but in case you were wondering or find these updates useful (maybe for commiserating in failure?) I thought I’d share instead of just neglecting my problems. I’m still in the outlining phase of this book. I have no trouble envisioning any number of novel beginnings, but it’s the middles and ends I struggle with. I think right now, my problem is I don’t know what my character wants and I don’t know if that’s a problem of not fully knowing her or not knowing the world. Maybe it’s both.

I had hoped I’d be writing by this time this month, but I’m not sure when anymore. Part of me is like “I need to start this NOW” and the other is like “I should just shoot to be ready by NaNoWriMo.”

I could wax on about this a while longer, but better I get going so I can work on this problem tonight. I don’t know what life after tomorrow is going to look like.

End Note

Thanks for sticking with me and this blog! On my very first blog Books o’ the Wisp, I used to do this feature called Letter from the Blogger. I did it at the beginning of each season to talk about myself and my plans for the coming months. I may try to do one of these again soon, as in this weekend. Amongst the other things you might be able to expect soon, I’ve got a book haul to share and I want to do a book review of Mr. Fox because it’s a lesser known book and I think I want to dedicate do more to shine a light on the under-hyped books on my blog.

Thank you for reading!
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Writing Again // Introducing “The Log”

Sorry it has been a little while. Shortly after the excitement of the last post I had a crisis of self. Faced with so many things I wanted to do and needed to do, I wasn’t sure what to do and it was so easy to just do nothing. Does this happen to any of you?

Fortunately I’ve been taking care of myself and feel a bit more happy. I’ve been eating a plant-based diet and enjoying experimenting with new whole plant foods I can integrate into my daily diet. I’ve also made exercise a part of my daily routine that I enjoy and look forward to. These two lifestyle changes I credit for helping me feel more ambitious and motivated again to do even more with my day, including things that have always made me happy: reading and writing.

I decided to start this post because I wanted to announce my new writing project, but I figure I’ll also talk a bit about what I’ve read recently first.

Recently Read

So far this summer I’ve read four books. I reread A Court of Mist and Fury (★★★★★) and finally read A Court of Wings and Ruin (★★★★½), both by Sarah J. Maas. Love the final installment, although I can’t help but feel the ending was a bit rushed and too convenient. Then I decided to read something that was not fantasy, so I picked up The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (★★★★½) by Gabrielle Zevin, which was whimsical and easy to read. Then I decided to finally read Passenger (★★), which sounded really good. Unfortunately that book didn’t really click with me.

Currently Reading

I’m currently rereading The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope. I’ve owned thisbook since middle school and one I had begun to think about since reading Sarah J. Maas’ work because it also includes fairies, although a very different kind. It’s a nice reminder that you can be inspired by the old and make it into something new that is your own.

Screen Shot 2017-07-13 at 9.20.00 PM

I may talk about this book in more depth in the future as I think it may be lesser known YA classic and something that young readers today might truly enjoy. If you’ve read it before, please let me know in the comments!

I’m planning on participating in the BookTube-A-Thon next week in order to jump start some more reading so I’ll likely share my TBR for that soon.

What I’m Writing 

I’m writing a fantasy novel set in world kind of like ours in 1930s, but with magic and magical creatures. I think it could be considered somewhat steampunk as I want there to be a lot of alternative forms of technology. My protagonist is a young girl and…I don’t know how much more I want to say!

I’m in the beginning stages here and still need to do some major plotting before I properly get writing, but I have a beginning and end fairly well set in stone so I’m excited to see where this may go. If you’ve been following me for a while, you may know I have trouble finishing novel drafts. I’ve realized in addition to low confidence in my writing capabilities my biggest problem is probably getting lost by following plot bunnies.

I may soon try to set up a Pinterest mood board for the story and share if I do. From this point forward on my blog if I mention it, I’ll call this novel The Log.

End Note

That’s all I got for today. I don’t want to make any promises about what I’ll post next, but I’m feeling pretty confident right now that I’ll be doing more and thus have more to share that is hopefully of interest to you! Hope you’re doing well and see you soon!

Thank you for reading!
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Time for Camp NaNoWriMo!

Hello friends!

As promised I’m back again this week with my official Camp NaNoWriMo announcement post in which I will share my personal goals for the month-long event and some tips for my fellow busy bees who are crazy enough to want to join me on this journey.

In case you don’t know, Camp NaNoWriMo is a month-long writing event that happens officially twice a year in April and July. These events are more relaxed than the official NaNoWriMo event that happens in November in which a 50K novel is the official goal. In Camp, you can feel free to set your own goal and write whatever you want, including scripts, poetry, or even revisions.

I will personally be trying to write a really short first draft of a new novel idea I developed in March.

Disclaimer: This post will not be helpful if you don’t know what you want to write. I do hope by publishing this post two days before it starts so that hopefully you have enough time to scrounge something together!

Word Goal

Because of how busy I anticipate April being, I’m only setting a goal of 20,000 words, which translates to roughly 667 words per day.

Tips

This is my final month of my final semester of grad school so I have a lot of things to do. I have three final projects to complete, all of which involve 12-15 page papers due at the beginning of May. I also have to keep up with my regular tasks of assigned reading and grading which is part of my job as a TA. Oh, and I really need to start looking for jobs! So taking on Camp NaNoWriMo right now maybe is not the best idea, but I’m doing it anyway!

The tips I have to share that I know will get me personally through this month in one piece are:

  1. Be Organized. To do lists are my best friend. I write one every week at the beginning of my weekend. I plan out everything I want to accomplish on each day. And I break down larger projects into discrete units so I have more boxes to feel good about once I’ve marked them off. 🙂
  2. Set a Reasonable Goal. I’ve done this by setting only 20,000 words as my goal which means roughly 667 words per day. I think this goal should be achievable on top of the writing I will already need to do for my regular assignments and my final papers. Additionally, I think its enough that I can write it in about an hour of uninterrupted writing.
  3. Utilize Writing Sprints. Don’t underestimate the power of writing sprints. Particularly if you feel like you don’t have enough time blocked off to write. The Camp NaNoWriMo official Twitter page if likely to host several sprints throughout the month. You might also encourage your writing buddies to partake in your own writing sprint parties! (Who says you can’t be social during a NaNoWriMo event?!)
  4. Plan Ahead. If there are some days of the week you just know you will not want to write, then make sure you get extra writing done early so that you don’t feel guilty about it.
  5. Don’t Fall Behind. There’s nothing more disheartening than falling behind on something when you still have so many other things to do. That’s why I plan to start Camp off really strong this weekend on April 1st so that I get that rush of achievement early on and do not feel guilty if I don’t manage to write on my busiest days (Tuesday and Wednesday).

Plans

Camp NaNoWriMo begins on April 1st, which this year is Saturday so if you’re a real go getter you could stay up Friday night and start writing right at midnight if that sounds exciting to you. I personally think I may wake up early and have myself a little write-in after breakfast. My plan is to get a good head start early in the month and write a lot during the weekend. Ideally I’ll work on my novel a little every day, even if it’s not properly writing.

If you’re participating in Camp NaNoWriMo too, let me know in the comments! I hope write weekly updates, but I don’t feel confident committing to that schedule. If I have blogging time I also want to do other posts, some of which I hope will go up next week, so stay tuned for that. Thanks to everyone who’s been showing my blog some love. I really appreciate it!

Thank you for reading!
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What I Learned from Two Weeks of Writing Everyday

In case you did not know, I spent at least 20 minutes for the past two weeks working on my story in some little way, whether by writing an actual scene idea, world-building, or plotting. This idea came about quite unexpectedly and was not as easy as it may sound.

Since I graduated from Iowa State University I’ve semi-regularly kept up with my writing buddy I met there. We are each other’s main inspiration to keep going. We cheer each other on and are there to offer an ear or advice when the other is going through a tough spot. She’s done a good job keeping up with her writing throughout this time. Me not so much. I’ve jumped around from idea to idea and also managed to recycle characters and revise plot so many times I’ve realized I’ve been going nowhere.

So at the beginning of my spring break two weeks ago when my friend suggested we Skype everyday of my spring break, and subsequently hers, I was all for it as a personal goal of mine was indeed to write a little bit everyday and I knew almost certainly that I would fail if left to my own devices.

In today’s post I wanted to share some updates on my writing as well as some of the lessons I’ve learned (or relearned).

1) Getting started is the hardest part.

This is something I’ve long known and still somehow struggle with. I often still find myself needing to trick myself into doing stuff that I need to do, whether it be homework, exercise, or even reading. I tell myself “I’ll just do 10 minutes” and usually once that allotted time is nearly up I realize that it doesn’t seem so hard to just keep going.

Some days it was really hard to get myself to sit down at my desk and log into Skype. I’d feel tired all of the sudden or my parents were about to start or movie or go out and I’d get FOMO. There would be some reason that made writing the least attractive option on my plate. But because my friend knows me, she’d never let me wiggle out of our daily session and even if it was painful I could always end the session glad that she forced me to it, even if I didn’t get much done during it.

2) Twenty minutes is not enough. 

Some days it took about 20 minutes to get back into the head space I was in the previous day just so that I could move forward. These were the saddest days, particularly when I was often lazy enough to say “Hey, I did it, now I can go do something else.”

This is why I now add writing tasks to my sticky notes to-do list wall alongside my homework tasks, so that after I write during my allotted time for the day I spend separate time thinking about what I need to do next so that I go into writing the next day knowing exactly what I need to do.

But 20 minutes is still not enough to get much serious writing done because I’m unable to reach a state of flow that results in stronger writing. I’d say 20 minutes works for doing specific tasks that aide essential to proper writing, like plotting scenes or world-building, but not for diving into a story and living in it the way I need to in order to write really well.

3) Sometimes you have to give up and wipe your slate clean to move forward. 

I think I mentioned this in my last writing post, but I honestly believe that the only reason I’ve managed to have some good progress this past week is because I let go of old characters and ideas to approach the blank page with an open mind.

One thing I have not mentioned online yet is that I had to do this AGAIN. Until three days ago I’d been working on a gothic-inspired of story without knowing where it would go, only about the two main characters and how they’d meet. I’d run into the same problem of not knowing why the protagonist is important or what she’d need to do.

Then I decided that I’d start from scratch again with specific genre in mind: a detective story. Detective stories are plot driven in a way that I’ve struggled to do with my fantasy-steampunk ideas so I decided to start with the goal in mind that my protagonist would help solve a mystery/crime. Since then I’ve managed to envision the protagonist, how she needs to develop as a character throughout the story, and create a mystery that she needs to solve which will help her grow in a way that makes logical sense.

End Note

I’m confident that my story is fun and interesting enough to get me through Camp NaNoWriMo this April so I’m going to spend the rest of March dedicating at least 20 minutes to planning for April. I know the main thing that my protagonist needs to do and how I want the story to end, so I just need to work on the plot of how she will solve the mystery.

I will hopefully have a post on Camp NaNoWriMo April come up this week before I get started. I do not plan on setting a 50k word goal and I have a few different plans in mind for how I’m going to go about writing with my hectic work schedule so I want to do share my plans in case they interest any of you who are similarly busy but would also like to attempt Camp!

Thank you for reading!
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March Writing Goals

Hello lovelies,

It’s been a little while, but I’ve actually been productive. Starting last Sunday, my writing buddy and I decided to Skype every day for at least one 20-minute writing sprint. Despite some procrastination on my part and exhaustion on hers (she’s not on a spring break yet), we’ve managed to do it thus far. It’s been amazing. The hardest part of writing for me has always been sitting my butt down to focus and do it, so being accountable to her has been helpful.

I return to my school and work schedule this Tuesday, but we’re resolved to continue our with our habit while she has the week off. Whereas we Skyped mostly evenings this past week, I think we’ll be doing it in the mornings this upcoming week. I’m excited by this because I’ve often considered mornings to be my favorite time of day.

There’s about two weeks left in March so I wanted to write this post, just as a way to keep myself motivated. I love making time in my day to write, but I’m still waiting for that feeling that comes from writing something you think means something and will be worth it.

Goals

  • Write for at least 20 minutes every day.
  • Write at least 400 words every day.

End Note

Spring Break is officially over for me and I have a rough week ahead of me, so my next post will probably not be up until the weekend. I’m currently reading Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner so I’d love to have a book talk up on that next week. I may also have a post up for this week’s #Wordbound. The prompt?

Thank you for reading!
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Writing Again (Maybe) | Writing Update

Hello one and all!

It’s 9:36 p.m. right now as I start this post and I’ve just had a fantastically productive day. I got a lot of homework and assigned reading done today giving me the opportunity to spend a couple of hours thinking about my next writing project. I’ve not been recently inspired with exciting new ideas, but that old familiar itch to write has returned and I’ve wanted to think seriously about my next move.

I’ve known for a while now that what I’ve really needed was a break from my old WIP and a blank slate to try something completely new. So I decided to do that today. Before I could back out, I texted my old writing buddy asking her if she wanted to do some writing sprints tonight. As she’s recently hit a wall in her editing, she was up for it. So there was no turning back.

With a blank Word document and no ideas, our first sprint and I started writing. I made up a name and before I knew it my new protagonist came to life and I love her already.

I don’t want to get into details right now, but the story I developed tonight is a hybrid of different stories and genres. The main goal I set for myself when I started writing was to make sure whatever I wrote would be fun. I don’t want to worry about originality or combatting cliché tropes. I just want to live vicariously through my characters and write a story that I’d love to read.

These are some of my tentative writing plans.

I’m thinking of writing this novel in seven parts. I want to outline and plan out what will happen in each part before I write it, so that’s what I’m going to do: plan each of the seven parts. I want to know where they will start and end and what major things will happen in them. So I’m going to work on the ending first.

Also I’m thinking about participating in Camp NaNoWriMo April. I don’t expect to be less busy in April, but I think it’d be a good idea to test my limits. And if I have my seven parts well planned by the end of March, then I should be all set for Camp. I like the idea of writing the novel in seven days, each of those days being a day-long write-in. Also, depending on how much I actually write this month, I may not even need to write 50,000 words to finish this novel.

End Note

I don’t know when my next writing update will come. I didn’t even know when I woke up today that I would be able to squeeze in writing time before bed! I’m planning to work more on this story tomorrow night, but I don’t know what the future hold beyond then. My spring break begins this weekend so I’ll have a lot more free time, but that doesn’t mean all of it will be spent writing; I also want to read! And I also want to work more on this blog. ^_^

Thank you for reading!
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