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! 

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travel

Dublin, Ireland

My first stop on my summer of adventures.

This is a perfect city for those novice travelers. Everyone is super friendly. Navigation is a breeze, as the city is small enough that you can walk everywhere. And English is the primary language.

Although now the city appears to be overrun with tourists, and you will have to visit the touristy parts of town, you can experience traditional Irish culture throughout your visit.

Top tourist attraction are the Guinness and Jameson breweries, jail museum, cathedrals, and Irish history museums.

If you are visiting the city for any length of time, I highly recommend you pick up a leap card right at the airport and ride the bus into the city–making your navigation around the city a breeze. It was €40 for an unlimited 7 day pass as opposed to our only taxi ride that cost that much just to get us to our house the first day.

So that is the general what travelers need to know, but here is how our trip went…

We arrived after an overnight flight from New York (we being me and my family) running on very little sleep, because no one really took me seriously when I explained how important it is to sleep as much as you can on the plane. Everyone was so cranky. And uncoordinated with everything from wheeling the luggage to taking bathroom breaks to paying attention to what it is that we are actually trying to find. Then the icing on the cake was finding out ED SHEERAN had performances in Dublin and was staying in Dublin when we would have been able to attend his concerts, except they were all sold out. Apparently the Irish really love Ed as all of his performances in Dublin, Cork, Belfast, and Galway were all sold out! Devastating.

Not my ideal first day of my holiday…but thank god it all got better.

Aside from visiting many of the sights in Dublin including the Oscar Wilde statue, Trinity college, Temple bar nightlife, and many of the cathedral ruins, we were all completely captivated with the (oftentimes depressing) history and especially the remnants of the pagan belief system.

Like I probably mention in every post, I am obsessed with this book series called A Court of Thorns and Roses and the Throne of Glass series fantasy books about fae and fairies, that all come from CELTIC MYTHOLOGY. And we are literally in the birthplace of these mythologies and legends so me and my sisters were living in our glory. So any ACOTAR or fantasy fans, this is definitely a city or country you should check out.

We did a couple of bus tours to see other parts of Ireland. Our first was a mythology based tour to ancient burial grounds in the midlands such as the Hill of Tara, Boyne Valley, Newgrange, and ????. We got to see faerie trees up close and saw where the still practicing druids tie ribbons on the trees as offerings to the fae. Our tour guide was amazing sharing both legends and true history about each of the places we drove past. And at one point during the tour he handed us off to such a charismatic character, Marty, who shared stories about the fae, changelings, and origin stories of the ancient ones who were banished under the Earth. He was hilarious–inventing new plots to the Irish legends about legendary heroes Finn MacCool, Cu Chulainn, the Ulster Cycle, and more! (which are all totally interesting if you have the time and want to check them out!) Plus we got to go hiking & get up close and personal with the sheep! (Maybe my favorite part…I mean they are just so cute!)

The other big tour we did was a Game of Thrones/ Giant’s Causeway based tour to the Northern Ireland. Our first stop on this tour was to the Dark Hedges aka the King’s Road where Arya escapes with the night’s watch after losing her father in Season 1. Then we visited a couple of very small coastal villages where all of the scenes from the Iron Isles were filmed and some of Melisandre’s crazier schemes…like the cave she gave birth in. Those moments were the highlight of the trip for me because, like, we stood exactly where they did. Those places are actually real places. No green screens were necessary. Incredible. And I really hope I never forget the smell of the coastal city so I can get the full effect for when I re-watch the show again.

But the Giant’s Causeway was just as cool. And as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it means that it is a site of cultural value for the world, because it is a visual display of how incredible our earth is. The entire cliffside formed millions of hexagons all from a volcanic eruption and has inspired legends and cultures since it’s creation millions of years ago! But my description does it no justice–brush up on your Earth Science knowledge and visit it for yourself!

My next stop is Edinburgh, Scotland!!!

 

travel

Greetings from Europe

Hello. It’s European me, just checking in during the first stop on my summer of adventures.

(Warning: I wrote this on my phone during a bus trip which means there might be typeos or other grammatical/editing errors. And as I am not really leaving time during my travel to thoroughly edit everything I post…please don’t judge me on the mistakes from now on. Maybe I will dedicate time when I get back to America for editing. But feel free to let me know of anything you catch!)

So first I will start with my final packing count. I ended up departing New York after much chaos the moments before leaving our house with me trying to get my suitcase under the 10 kilo/22lb limit for Norwegian Airlines. (Side note for anyone flying Norwegian–they were very strict with the weight limit and weighed everything I was trying to take on the plane in one batch–and I was still over. Oops.) My sister helped me with my last minute scrambling and was, of course, entertained with my panic. That made one of us.

Obviously I wouldn’t recommend the absolute last second packing routine that I follow…especially when I realized all of the important things I forgot. Like the wedding card.

But I am still impressed with all that I did accomplish. A summer’s worth of clothes, shoes, accessories, toiletries, and more, that all fit into just 1 rolling duffel and very small backpack. Like many who backpack frequently and know how difficult it can be to lug all your unnecessary shit from one place to another, I tried to keep my items down to the bare minimum.

So here is all that I brought:

Sundress, skirt, romper
Teeshirts and tanktops
Shorts, leggings, jeans
Dress for my friend’s wedding

And once arriving in Dublin, I realized I could still cut some things out, and I sent home my bulky european adaptors (in favor of my brother’s smaller one), a few shirts, credit card receipts, and my souvenir shopping.

(Like this cute travel savings collection box that I just couldn’t pass up from New Look):

So now that I made it all the way to Ireland, my new challenge is making sure all of my clothing items and other stuff that I brought remains functional and accessible. I will be trying really hard to live off of the bare minimum…necessities only for the rest of my summer.

Wish me luck!

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?