writing

New Year Cleanup

 

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Hi all,

I figured I should catch up after the end of my whole novel writing experience to conclude my experience. And to share some of what I was going through, too.

Writing 1,667 words per day was pretty difficult some days and others it was a breeze. But that is part of the whole writing process––some days you are filled with inspiration, and others, well, the writer’s block hits you hard. But now I have finished (hitting my word count goal that is) with 50,751 words in only 30 days. So I am pretty proud of my accomplishment!

Like a real writer’s process, this book is nowhere near done. It is in need of edits for all different reasons. From the many places I broke into a stream-of-consciousness style to the huge gaping plot holes throughout my story, there is a lot that I need to finish and revise. For example, my mc (main character) and her love interest go from their first meeting to getting married with nothing else between (at the moment). And my intention was for this to be a romance story. Yikes.

The good news is that it can only get better from here. When I actually figure out how they will fall in love. And then write it.

When I am done, maybe this story will be as long as a Sarah J. Maas novel. Or maybe it will turn into an entire series or a multi-series universe. And maybe I will get to have my own big fancy book signings and tours. And international book tours. Oooooh.

But don’t worry, I will sign all my friend’s and family’s copies first!

But for now, I am following the recommendations of NaNoWriMo, which is to take some time off of your writing. Then to pick it back up in January. Which is advice that I very much love as I am a huge procrastinator, and love to leave all my projects unfinished. So when I actually finish my entire book, I will have a lot more to celebrate in breaking out of my usual cycle.

So I sort of changed some things in my original idea of my story. Now, I have my main character, Vivian, who finds herself in the middle of a war between the humans and demifae. Torn between her family and her love, Vivian needs to choose a side before things get too out of hand.

There are some witches and arsine, tea parties and mystical forests, and even family dramas that could hold their own against Game of Thrones.

I guess we will all have to wait to see how it turns into a finished product. Myself included.

In other news, after finishing my grueling NaNo project in November, I am now working on things that my sister says no one else cares about. (So I won’t tell you about my winter cleaning and decluttering. And finally getting my photo albums together from my various trips and uploading all my pictures onto Shutterfly so I can clear them off of my phone.)

And as it is a part of the most wonderful time of year, I am working a lot. Struggling to figure out the perfect Christmas gifts for everyone in my family. And thinking about all the potential trips I can go on in the new year.

For now, I am also watching a new TV show that I cannot get enough of: Smallville. A high school drama about Clark Kent (aka Superman) in his rural town of Smallville, the very place where his spaceship crash landed as a child. It is so funny as a romance/drama/supernatural show and has a very Supernatural tone.

The episode I am watching right now has me cracking up. Clark Kent tries to throw a house party and his adopted parents catch him. “We called six times last night. Spoke to six different people. None of which knew who you were.” Yikes.

I am also trying to find a new series to read and love, if for half as much as A Court of Thorns and Roses series. So far everything I pick up is a bust, including the Darkfever series. If anyone has any recommendations please let me know in the comments…or I will just have to read Mist and Fury for the thousandth time. (Which is not a bad thing, I will soon be able to recite the book by heart if I keep this up.)

Stay tuned for my Edinburgh post that I will also soon complete.

Until next time.

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writing

NaNo Update

My NaNo is off to a good start!

I figured I would give people the opportunity to follow along with me if you would like.?.?

So here is a way to keep track of my total word count with a handy bar graph showing how many words I have out of 50,000.

 

And it is even possible to keep up with my daily writing goals as well. Aka don’t invite me to hang out when I am having a red or orange or yellow day.

So follow along with me if you would like to see where this goes. (I know I would sure like to.)

 

And finally, an excerpt of my latest scene (subject to change, of course, during my edits):

So she ran straight ahead, willing her body to not give away her thoughts and she pumped her arms and ran faster and faster towards the figure with the sword raised, ready to attack, and then at the last moment, she hooked her arm around a tree and flung her body in a new direction, willing her feet to stay planted beneath her and sprinted onwards, farther from her meeting place then she would like to be, but if she survived, then she could circle back and remain alive.

Her proud moment did not last too long, however, because she heard no commotion that she would have left behind. All she heard was, well, nothing.

No sword fight.

No heavy breathing.

No shouts.

No bodies fall to the floor.

Nothing.

And that left her mind racing in a hundred different directions.

She was thinking too much that she missed the figure standing ahead of her.

Are you wondering what is going to happen next? Me too. Join the club.

Being a pantser is loads of fun.

Back to writing.

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writing

It is Almost Time for NaNoWriMo

So November is coming, which means the start of another NaNoWriMo! And I am so excited and motivated this year to finally write an entire first draft of my novel.

If any of you have no clue what I am talking about, and think I just hit the keyboard with that weird string of letters…let me break it down for you.

Na: National

No: Novel

Wri: Writing

Mo: Month

NaNo is an organization that encourages people to write their entire first draft of their novel (50,000-60,000 words) within the month of November. And it is an organization that has been near and dear to my heart for the past five years, because it has lead me to a community of like-minded people at a time when I was really lost at the beginning of my studies. As silly and dramatic as it sounds, getting involved in a writing community has helped me discover and chase my writing dreams, no matter how impossible they will be.

You can check out NaNo’s website if you want to learn all about it, participate in it, or just have a clue about what the heck I am doing with my time!

Or if you would rather hear about NaNo in my own words, I even wrote an article describing the process for my college’s paper that you can check out here. 

But the reason I am writing this in a blog is because this year I am a serious participant. Before now, I was only writing for fun. I would join in on word sprints with some of my favorite authors on Twitter, frequently update my word count in between classes or my work schedule. I was never really concerned about doing more than just getting words on paper in my free time.

And now, things are different. My workload is light (aka still job hunting). I have no more classes (at the moment) that I need to focus on and write papers for. I have had a summer of adventures, meeting all new people from all different sorts of backgrounds in new environments, and unforgettable experiences that I would like to translate into some stories. And I want to continue my momentum from the summer to chase my dreams. So becoming a published author won’t happen if I don’t first put in the time and write the first draft.

And to prove how serious I am this year, I am going to share some of my story details on my blog…and that way all of my followers can hold me accountable and push me when I start running out of steam halfway through the month. Or even only a couple of days in.

This year I am working on a fantasy novel (and remember this is just a very rough draft that is all subject to change because I will probably hate it).

And my title is…

Drumroll please.

Heroic Night.

Totally lame, I know. I had some help from a fantasy title generator. And hopefully it will evolve when I have more written.  But I need a place to start.

Once I actually begin my writing (that will count towards my word count goals) November 1st, this story will be about adventure, romance, action, and drama––all of my favorite topics. And I am hear to write the book that I would want to read, so let’s see how this goes.

nano-challenge

So far, I have some basic characteristics for my characters:

Heroine is a doer, headstrong, solo traveler, independent, and questions everything around her.

Hero is fearless and reckless, lives without consequences.

A setting:

Medieval Fantasy World

Maybe the rest will come to me once I finally begin writing. Like their names maybe? Fingers crossed.

What I have so far may sound familiar to some of you, who have listened to me ramble on about my favorite series, because that author, Sarah J. Maas and Jane Austen (who are my two favorite authors) are my inspiration for my own writing. And at the moment, my genre probably comes from the TOG reread I have been participating in, in preparation for the final book release in a few days.

If you are interested in keeping up with my progress, and in holding me accountable, you can view my daily word count stats here. 

In addition, I could use some more writing buddies! So please share if you are participating, too, and we can push each other!

I’ll leave you with a small excerpt:

“And just before I curl up on my couch with my latest book, is there a firm and quiet knock on my door.

Not unusual for this time of day, just before everyone has made it home for dinner, the sun only just beginning it’s descent. But it was the actual knock that made her suspicious. Her friends yell through the door or barge in. Her neighbors are more hesitant to knock at all, and usually pair it with a chirped hello before barging in.”

Ok, now I am going back to my writing cave to start plotting. Wish me luck and no writer’s block! 

book review

What a Perfect Time for a TOG Reread

Hey all!

Since I got home from my trip, my life has been turned upside down with job hunting, dating dramas, and a whole bunch of other changes in my social life that now has me reevaluating things and I am sort of stuck in this creative rut. So bear with me while I slowly make my way out of it and back into the real world. And continue on with my travel posts.

On the other hand, though, the final book by my favorite author (Sarah J. Maas) is coming out in October (maybe you noticed the KOA countdown on the side here) so I am joining in with the publishers and all of the other fans in a massive reread of all of the books in the series. And of course now I need to catch up since they started in July––meaning I am already 4 books behind schedule!!! Yikes!

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Currently working on reading Throne of Glass. And my goal of reading the whole thing in one sitting has already expanded to a few days. Hopefully not much longer than this.

So just a general note about this series is that it is so good and everyone should seriously give it a read. And I don’t want to spoil things (even though I hate people who say stuff like this and don’t share any of the juicy details) but the whole series is set up like a mystery where you literally do not know anything that is going on if you hear people talking about characters from later books when you are still in the beginning. And this is a hilarious fandom joke. So I am going to be very vague in my descriptions. It will be a lot of fun.

Favorite cover: Queen of Shadows. Without a doubt or hesitation. I love the colors. I love the armor. I love that she looks so badass and ready to take on the world. Which is good because that is actually what she has to do in this book.

Favorite title: The Assassin’s Blade

Favorite character: Sam or Aedion or Aelin with Fenrys as a close second (it literally depends on what scene I am reading at the moment)

Character I am most like: Aelin Ashyver Galathynius. Seriously just ask my sisters. They are the ones who told me this!

Most important chant: Aedion deserves his blood oath 2k18!

Favorite scene: In Rolf’s office when there are two of Aelin and they are complimenting each other and she is flirting with Rowan pretending she doesn’t know him and Rolf has no idea what is going on and everyone knows her by a different name/ personality/ identity and they are just all watching each other’s reactions. I promise you once you know all of the drama and characters it is so funny.

Favorite quote released from Kingdom of Ash:

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This is really a life changing series and I am so happy each time I get someone else to start reading it.

The main character has been through the ringer and back since she was young and we still don’t know if she will get her happily ever after in the end after she saves the rest of the world. Each book adds more to our beloved heroine while expanding the world of Erilea and the impending end of the world.

Add in all of the enemies that our girl makes and how she still gets them to ally with her and how some of her old enemies become her greatest and most trusted friends and that everyone always seems to come together in the biggest/ most epic battle scenes and you can’t even come close to all this series has to offer.

There are foreshadowing clues everywhere, minor characters from book 1 taking on major roles later in the series. Easter eggs galore. Even drama with the gods messing with fate and creating this giant mess in the first place––and making it worse by helping characters come to the beginning of the end.

I have never felt as excited and dreadful of an end of the series book as I do this one. Maas’s other series ACOTAR is such a lighthearted read in comparison to TOG––the main characters that die don’t actually stay dead in ACOTAR whereas everyone is fair game except Fleetfoot. The dog.

Everyone’s theories have me freaking out. And I am reading with a notebook beside me, taking notes so I can try my hand at my own detective work and guess about what is going to happen in the end.

My current reading intentions are that I just absorb all of the names and details that I can so that I will be completely prepared for anything that comes our way in Kingdom of Ash. Which means a lot of me writing down names of characters, gods, their swords, dates, rhymes, quotes and lots and lots of page numbers. I don’t want to have to go back through all 3,840 other pages to remind myself of a fuzzy detail. I will be totally prepared for the final 992 pages of this epic series.

Fantasy, romance, drama, arrogance, swagger, thrones, kingdoms, sacrifice, and a save-the-world plot…what more could you ever need in a good book?

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writing

Always Wanted to Go to Camp?

The start of April brings Camp NaNo! Yay!

For those who don’t know, there is this organization, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) that encourages people to write an entire novel (50,000-60,000 words) each November. It is a fun, motivational organization that really makes people focus on writing, and creating that (horrible) first draft. That you can then build on. And edit. And edit. And edit. Until you are left with a semi-decent story.

This same organization has something similar going on for the month of April: Camp NaNoWriMo! This will be my first year participating in it, so I don’t know too much about things yet. It is set up as a writer’s retreat and we are sorted into cabins with other writers, giving us our own writer’s group.

If you have a creative personality, or want to be a more creative person, this is a great organization to encourage you to write it down. You don’t need to submit your writing, you do it on your own word document and just submit your word count. Every single word you write down is a win––and way more than you had yesterday. You set your own goal in Camp NaNo rather than trying to get yourself to write an entire novel.

Hopefully they can motivate me to push through my writers block that I already have from day 3. I am not counting my blog writing in it yet, so my current word count is a big fat 0. With a goal of 20,000 words. Yikes.

But in my defense, I was traveling the last couple of days (and re-reading ACOTAR again). And coming up with even more ACOTAR theories for the next book that comes out in May! (In exactly 28 days!) So maybe I will start another day, like tomorrow…

So, I just created my “camper profile,” added my project and just selected my “cabin settings” to be added into a writing group with up to 19 other writers. I will officially have a writing group! And I have to catch up on some of the messages from my cabin mates already! They all seem to be a really cool and very diverse group––with people from around the world, working on all sorts of different writing projects from poetry to novels to copy for their webpages. I think it will be really nice to get some feedback from other campers.

For those of you who are like me, and love to buy souvenirs from every minor activity I take part in, there is a gift shop too! You can purchase a winners shirt if you succeed (and any word that you write is a success) or a coffee mug to drink straight caffeine for when you need to push through the writing slump (like me).

Writing Resources: Camp Counselors and Events

An amazing feature of participating in NaNo or even Camp NaNo are all of their amazing features and programs to inspire writers. It is such an interactive and supportive community no matter your skills, involvement, or even fundraising ability.

There are “Prep” resources to assist in planning out your novel beforehand and then “Now What?” resources to help with the aftermath of your first draft––all complete with helpful tips, advice, and inspiration from authors, editors, and fellow participants. And you shouldn’t forget the inspirational power of having a group chat to connect with all sorts of writers! I know it will help to inspire me, when I see how real people are actually making progress. And we can even help each other by throwing ideas around. You never know when one word or comment or silly idea will jumpstart someone’s creative juices.

Twitter: @NaNoWriMo and @NaNoWordSprints

One of my favorite aspects of NaNo, and one that they have already brought back for Camp, is the word sprints on twitter. Anyone who follows my twitter will see me participate in these every once in a while, and now you can finally understand what my “WC” with a bunch of random numbers after means. (Hint: it stands for word count not water closet).

They occur at all times of the day for different lengths of time, allowing anyone to participate whatever their availability, free-time, or even time zone is. When I get inspired at 2am, it is motivating to be participating in a “sprint” with many other people around the world. The admins sometimes even provide a whole variety of prompts, that you can take and mold to inspire your own story.

And then after the organizers like to chat with us after about the favorite lines we wrote or most surprising thing our characters did. I really love the tweet chats.

Honestly I think I probably discovered NaNo because of Twitter. One of my favorite authors (I want to say it was Miranda Kenneally, but I don’t 100% remember) was participating in it while she was working on her next book. And I saw her tweeting about her word counts and about the sprint so I had to look up what she was talking about, and I think I signed up right there.

I hope that this blog post might inspire someone else to sign up too. The world needs your novel, but you really need to get it out there. So, sign up now! You have 27 days left to write!

And incase you need the link again at the bottom, the organization is Camp NaNoWriMo!

 

*Ok I am back to procrastinating my writing for fun.*

book review

1st Book Review: The Wrath & The Dawn

So originally my plan was to post my Olympics and Paralympics geared blog post, but I just finished my book today and have many thoughts on it, so plans have changed. Plus, now I have more time to try and catch up on my Olympics DVRed episodes.

What I am Reading:

img_4346-2_editedI am currently reading The Wrath & The Dawn by Renée Ahdieh, which is a YA fantasy/ romance (very similar to Throne of Glass AKA why I picked this book up––the heroine has to deal with an “evil” king to essentially save the world). This book is based in Persia, which I love, because it is exposing me to another culture and words in a different language, too.

Side note: I learned the hard way that there is a glossary in the back of the book. You do not have to spend the same amount of hours I did trying to look up arabic words on google.

[So my favorite reviewers usually break up their reviews into different parts, and I am going to try and mimic them. Bear with me while I figure out my own style]

General Thoughts:

So I sort of have mixed feelings on The Wrath & The Dawn. I like the book, but I don’t love it.

If you know me, you will understand the massive book hangover that I am still trying to recover from after reading A Court of Thorns and Roses (which was exactly 1 year ago in March), so anything that I read will need to be that much more impressive. There is sort of a love triangle going on in The Wrath & the Dawn and Shahrzad is leaning towards the wrong guy, which is making me dread the ending. Update: Now that I have read the ending, now that I have read the ending, and have seen that the love triangle will continue into the second book, I am even more frustrated about the whole thing. I think the writing is amazing, but I still find myself yelling at the characters for making stupid decisions, which was making me dread actually getting into and finishing the book.

So the story is about this evil “boy-king” who kills his new wives at every dawn. And Shahrzad volunteers to be his next wife after her best friend was the next to get the silk cord around her neck.

Honestly was iffy about the book until the end. Now I NEED TO READ THE NEXT BOOK. If for nothing else then I can live in agony. Again. Special shout out to the girl who saw me carrying this book when we were in an elevator together and told me it was your favorite. I only finished this book because of you!

For those considering reading this book, here is what you need to know:

  1. There is a love triangle
  2. I like the wrong guy (as per usual)
  3. There are lovable side characters on all sides of this impending war
  4. Those same side characters are very easily forgotten by the main characters, even though I am yelling things at them like “FIND DESPINA!”
  5. Plot twists that I did not see coming
  6. Some things happen/comments are made that make me feel like I missed a chapter or even just a paragraph in the book. No joke––I went back to check the page numbers to make sure nothing was ripped out.

Hopefully, you will kind of see from my very general list, how mixed my feelings are. I think that Renée Ahdieh is such a great writer and I want to continue reading her stories. There was a few things with her writing though, that there was like gaps in the story. I know it is one way to build suspense, but I think is room for improvement. For example, there were elements of magic in the story, that were way to subtle, and only really brought up in the second half of the book. And then there is an explanation that the things that happened in the beginning were magic, and not normal at all.  So it is confusing that there is already a suspension of belief, because it is based on 1001 Nights but this almost takes place in a realistic world. I am wondering if I will feel differently after actually reading 1001 Nights, and maybe my thoughts will change.

There is this moment when Shahrzad is saying goodbye to her father and he shows her a rose before they part:

“Jahandar nodded, his misery nowhere close to mollified. He held out the rose in his hand. ‘The last from my garden; it has not yet bloomed fully, but I wanted to give you one remembrance of home.’

She smiled as she reached for it, the love between them far past mere gratitude, but he stopped her. When she realized the reason, she began to protest.

‘No. At least in this, I might do something for you,’

The rose started to unfurl. Its petals twisted open, prodded to life by an invisible hand. As it expanded, a delicious perfume filled the space between them, sweet and perfect for an instant…but soon, it became overpowering. Cloying. The edges of the flower changed from a brilliant, deep pink to a shadowy rust in the blink of an eye.

And then the flower began to wither and die.

Dismayed, Jahandar watched its dried petals wilt to the white marble at their feet.

‘I––I’m sorry, Shahrzad,” he cried.

‘It doesn’t matter. I will never forget how beautiful it was for that moment, Baba’”  (Ahdieh 8).

As you can see, it is incredibly dramatic and romantic and descriptive, however, it isn’t until much later that you realize these descriptions have a purpose, because it shows how the father used magic to make the flower bloom and how exactly the magic affects the flower.

If you hate spoilers, you should probably stop reading here. That is, if you actually plan on reading it.

[Also be warned, it is unedited from here down. I thought it was better to stick to a schedule instead of procrastinate…but don’t judge for bad grammar & content.]

My Character Analysis:

Tariq:

Looking back at my Goodreads comments, though, I still have mixed feelings for the character that I love. He says something so wonderful, like, “I love you Shahrzad al-Khayzuran. There is nothing I would not do for you. Nothing I would not consider if it meant keeping you safe. The world itself should fear me if it stands between us,” and he just reminds me so much of Rhysand from ACOTAR that I swoon. But then he says something so dumb, “All of my most cherished memories are of her. I’ve suffered alongside her. And…we’ve laughed at nothing together,” as the explanation as to why he loves her that I feel like just isn’t true to his character.

I am pretty sure that he is going to ruin my opinion of him very soon, but for now he is my hero. Literally willing to go to war for the woman he loves. Not a practical political move, probably, but what a grand romantic gesture anyway. And he sneaks into her bedroom in the palace just to see her and support her in her plan instead of dictating one to her. And apparently Shahrzad isn’t into the whole sneaking around thing, but I think it is great. He professes his love for her in stolen moments and stolen kisses.

Shahrzad:

And the same with Shahrzad. She is supposed to be such a headstrong character, and yet her feelings are getting in the way of her plan. So suddenly too. And she is catching feelings for her best friends murderer, before she even knows what is going on. And I can’t exactly put into words why it bothers me so much because the whole “enemies to lovers” trope is usually my favorite and I am all for leading with your emotions, but maybe it is just the fact that she is so fickle about these things? I’m not sure yet. All I know is that is has taken me months to get through this book. And characters I want to yell at. Shazi- I am looking at you especially!!!

There are a lot of amazing parts of the book though. First, Shahrzad is such a badass headstrong female character who isn’t afraid to take matters into her own hands, even when she knows there is a very good chance that she will be killed next. She is (mostly) loyal, reckless, and can do anything she sets her mind to. I love that she isn’t exactly following the court protocol and sneaks over to see the training. And I was thrilled when she was showing off her mad archer skills to Jalal and the rest of the men, making sure they knew she wasn’t someone to mess with.

Despina:

Then her handmaiden Despina, is an amazing character. I am still a little hesitant to trust her completely, but she still might be my favorite character. She reminds me so much of Lysandra (in TOG) who is gorgeous, knows the game, and still has a few tricks up her sleeve. I feel like she is going to play a bigger role, but she is very mousey at the moment. And I am still suspicious as to her behavior when Shazi was poisoned that one day. Shahrzad doesn’t have a problem with this thing but I do. Also. Pregnancy. To. Her. Star. Crossed. Lover. Yay!

⭐⭐⭐☆☆

So overall, I am still not 100% a fan of this book, but actually writing my review has helped me remember the good parts too. That means I’ll give it 3 out of 5 stars! Yay. It takes a lot to live up to my favorite shelf, so I am looking forward to finding books that make the cut. Unfortunately The Wrath & The Dawn didn’t make it. Maybe the sequel will be better?

 

If you guys have any questions for me

or want to actually discuss the book

leave a comment below

Also, hit me up with book recs

I am always looking for something new to read!!!