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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travel

Preparing for my First Solo Female Travel Adventure

So as many of you already know, I am going backpacking this summer––for the whole 4 months of the summer, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!

Currently, I am in the beginning of my planning and packing stage. Still. With T minus 32 days until I start my adventure. I feel the butterflies in my stomach just thinking about my plans this summer, like a kid counting down until Christmas morning. I. Can. Not. Wait.

And then I am going to rattle the stars

  1. My last minute shopping includes things that I have learned are necessities to take on a big trip like the one I will be going on.

I just ordered a pair of very comfortable sneakers. I know I will need to opt for comfort over style because I know that I will rather walk all day to see and do everything instead of needing to take lots of breaks to rest my feet.

So, I am awaiting my pair of You Inspire by Skechers to arrive in the mail. I think they are actually cute and I got a nice, neutral color that will match with my clothes from Ireland to Italy, but more importantly, they are so comfortable. It literally feels like you are walking on a cloud when you wear these. And they are so lightweight too!

At least it won’t be my sneakers weighing down my carry on-sized suitcase. My only concern with these shoes is that the laces are just for show––you can’t tighten them or anything. My plan is to break them in before I leave to know for sure.

(You can check out my shoes if you would like.)

Next thing on my list is towels. I have been doing a lot of research on what kind of towel I should bring with me (because if you don’t know, hostels do not provide you with any basic hotel amenities, like towels) and I have found a lot of people recommend these quick dry towels that a lot of swimmers and other athletes use. These microfiber, compact, fast-absorbent towels only weigh about 9oz and take up very little room in your suitcase.

This Sunland towel from Amazon even comes with a hook attached so I can hang it to dry in my hostel (?) and it comes with the best reviews out of the tons of microfiber towels. I am still deciding on a color, though. 

My next shopping list item is getting a haircut. My intention is to be a practical traveler, and I definitely do not want my hair getting in the way of that. Plus then I can cut down on styling tools that I would otherwise want to bring to the wedding. I think that shoulder length hair will be perfect, require little maintenance, and will keep my natural curls looking healthy. Maybe I won’t even have to stock up on shampoos as often.

  1. And finally in spite of my normal procrastinating self, the last thing on my priority list is me actually planning. A plan to make plans––ironic, isn’t it?

I have already renewed the library guidebooks a few times because I keep putting off reading them and picking out the things I really want to do. I have also been putting off making my itinerary that I am making more to ease my parents’ worries than for me to actually follow.

I am definitely a fly by the seat of my pants type of person in my life as well as in the stories I write.

Along with picking out the places I am going, I have a mental checklist of the clothes and items that I need to bring. I am also considering this a part of the planning stage because I am planning on what clothes to bring. And planning on how much shampoo to take. And what suitcase to put it in. Clearly this is going to take more time.

And these ⇧ are my goals for the week.

But the good news is that I can do a Solo Female Traveler: Part 2 when I solidify my plans. So stay tuned for more updates!

(All of my packing and planning has to get done before ACOFAS release date. I am giving myself those 2 weeks before I leave to be crazy obsessed with Sarah J. Maas’s latest novella and my favorite characters)

But I actually have accomplished some things already:

✓ 3 of my 4 jobs are aware of my travel dates

✓ I own all of the travel accessories I will need (i.e. a travel scale, travel sized bottles, adaptors and converters)

✓ Mentally prepared family and friends already––some are more enthusiastic than others

✓ Checked out various European guidebooks from the library

✓ Contacted European friends to start planning a meet up

✓ Began working out so I can lift my suitcase on my own
So I am off to a good start…

What do you guys do to prepare for travel? Any advice/tips/favorite travels blogs you want to share?

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!!!