April 2018 TBR

2018 is just flying by and I cannot believe we are already into March. I started off the year with an amazing reading month, but that number has been faltering as the months pass by so fingers crossed I can actually read a decent amount of books this month!

I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

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This was an unexpected read because I wasn’t planning on reading it so soon. I ended up picking up a copy when I saw the author was signing at a bookstore near where I was staying so I thought why not? Currently I am already about 100 pages into it and enjoying it so I am looking forward to finishing it this month! This story follows three points of views: Freya, Harun and Nathaniel who somehow meet one day in Central Park after Freya falls off a bridge and lands on Nathaniel. They think they have nothing in common, but as the story goes on they realize they have more in common than they thought.

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

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This was another book I started in March but then just never got around to finishing it…how? I don’t know because this book is only 300ish pages long! I mean, the pacing did slow down so I found it a little harder to read, but I still am looking forward to finishing it and seeing how everything gets wrapped up. This book follows a girl named Alex who is a bruja, a Spanish witch, and on her Death Day she tries to give her magic away. However, the spell backfires and it banishes Alex’s family to Los Lagos. Now Alex along with the help of a strange boy named Nova have to venture to Los Lagos and save her family. As a person of Spanish heritage, I am really loving the representation in this book and fingers crossed I love it as much as I hope!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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I have also been reading this for what seems like forever, but I only have 100 pages left so I definitely will be able to finish it in April. I also kind of have to because I am reading it for my English class so I have no choice really but to finish it really, really soon. I am enjoying it, but sadly I think I would have enjoyed it more if I wasn’t reading it for class. If you didn’t know what this book is about, it takes place a few years before and during World War II. It is narrated by Death but follows a girl named Liesel who is brought to a foster family after her mother is unable to take care of her. We follow her life with this new family, and also as she begins stealing books and learning to read, all while the tragedy of World War II come into play.

Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi

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My copy finally came in the mail of Restore Me and I am so, so excited to dive into this world after recently re-reading the first three books and loving them! The first book, Shatter Me, follows a girl named Juliette whose touch kills, and because of that she has been locked away in an insane asylum for the safety of others. All until one day a mysterious boy becomes her roommate and together they break out of the asylum all because of Juliette. Because she is desired by the leader’s son as a weapon. This series is so good and everyone must read it!

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

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I keep putting this book on my TBR and NOT reading it, but I am determined to actually give it a try this month. I believe this book follows a girl who has to marry an older king because of a prophecy…I could be wrong but I know when I read it I was really intrigued! Again, hopefully I will get to it because it is a library book and does have to be returned soon.

Those are all the books I plan to finish in the month of April and yes, this TBR is slightly ambitious compared to what I have actually been getting done lately, but these are all books I really want to read so I am hoping I will get it all done. Don’t forget to comment below your April TBR and also check out some of my previous posts linked below:

Last Blog Post: Camp NaNoWriMo Week 1: My Writing Survival Kit

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Camp NaNoWriMo Week 1: My Writing Survival Kit

Welcome to week 1 of Camp NaNoWriMo! It is day 2 and hopefully you have begun writing and are hitting your daily goals. If not, that’s okay too because it’s the thought that counts, right? Today I wanted to share with you my Camp NaNo survival kit, a kit of all the things I personally need to have with me when I sit down to write. Don’t forget to comment below what your survival kit has in it because I would love to know!

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Green Tea

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I drink green tea religiously so it is a necessity to have next to me when I am writing. It keeps me awake and energized and it gets me into the mindset that it is writing time! Having a designated drink or snack will really help develop a writing routine, or even just drinking or eating something you love will get you excited to sit down and write.

My Outline

This is something that everyone needs next to them. Whether it is in a notebook or on your laptop make sure your outline is accessible in case you need to refer back to something while writing. Having it next to you means it will take less time out of your writing session to remember that character’s cat’s name or what day of the week it is in your story. Personally my outline is very research heavy and the research includes a lot of complicated, weird names so I find myself referring to my notebook a lot.

NaNoWriMo Word Sprint

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I only use these during Camp NaNo, but I find it really helpful and wish they did writing sprints throughout the year. These sprints are found on the NaNoWriMo Word Sprints Twitter page here  and are a fun way to do anywhere from 5-60 minute word sprints and get all the words down! It is also fun to connect with other writers and go over what our word counts were and what we are writing.

My Favourite Book

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Having a book I admire so much next to me just motivates me to keep writing and going. Currently that book is Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare (or really any book by Cassandra Clare) because it has been my favourite book since it came out, as the first book, Lady Midnight, had been before. Try this out and you will be surprised by how motivated you feel whenever you get stumped on a scene or lose momentum but then  look at that favourite book of  yours and suddenly you are ready to go.

Those are the items in my Camp NaNo survival kit and I hope you enjoyed! Let me know how your Camp NaNo journey is going if you are participating, and if you aren’t then what are you working on? Don’t forget to check out the links to some blog posts below!

Last Blog Post: Reading + Writing Update

Camp NaNo Prep Posts: Outlining Tips, Creating Characters, Research

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Twitter:@zoermathers

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Reading + Writing Update!

This is my second time writing this because airport wifi is terrible and didn’t want to save anything I had written.

Anyways, I wanted to say sorry for falling off the face of the blogging world for the past week. I was on vacation and while I originally planned to upload during my time away (I even pre-wrote a few for the first few days I was on vacation in California), I ended up not writing anymore and not having any inspiration either for posts either. However, it was a nice creative break especially since April is going to be a month filled to the brim with writing and reading related things! So since I am on my way home and will be back tonight which is Saturday although when you see this it will be Sunday…anyways expect a normal upload schedule for next week!

I didn’t get as much reading done as I originally hoped, but I did manage to get some done while traveling. Going into this vacation, my original plans were to finish Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova and read about 100 pages of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I did not accomplish any of that. I did get to about 150-something in Labyrinth Lost which means I am halfway through the book and still got a good chunk to go. The book started off really strong and I was interested and excited, but towards the middle things became a little confusing for me and the pace kind of just lulled. I do plan on finishing it though and I am really hoping it will pull through for the last half! As for The Book Thief, I think I only read about 50 pages meaning I still have 150 pages left to go, and all of that has to be read by Wednesday! Anyways, I also started reading an unexpected book that I picked up because I happened to be in the right city when a certain author was having a book signing for her new book…and that book is I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman! I just happened to be in San Diego the right day, and I was so excited to see her in person and listen to her not only talk about her new book, but also the writing struggles she had gone through in her career. I have read a few of Gayle Forman’s other books, such as If I Stay, Where She Went, One Day, and One Year, so I was really happy to meet an author that I thought so highly of. It was a lot of fun and was actually my first book signing! I would definitely recommend keeping an eye open at your local bookstores for events like these because it was worth it.

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Wow, that was a long reading update so get ready for a probably lengthy writing update too! As this post is coming out, it is Sunday, April 1st, AKA Camp NaNoWriMo day 1! I have been viciously planning and researching and tying up all the loose ends of my outline this past week, and only just now am I (kind of) ready to write. I have left my outline loose on purpose because I have realized over the years I work better with less structure so I don’t lose inspiration and momentum throughout writing. If you too are just finishing your outline, or looking for some inspiration to give you that final push then check out my Camp NaNo prep posts which will be linked down below. Overall I was really proud with all the work I got done on my outline during my vacation, and it just proves to myself how passionate I really am about this project and now I just cannot wait to dive into this new world! Another writing project I want to start on is this really short story idea I have that was inspired by a literary magazine’s current submission prompt, so fingers crossed I can quickly pump out that story for April 6th which is the deadline! Hopefully I am not putting too much on my plate but I am sure I can get most of it done…right?

Anyways, that was my really long reading and writing update and I hope you enjoyed! Keep an eye out for my upcoming blog posts this Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday because I will be returning to my regular posting after my unexpected hiatus. Don’t forget to check out the blog posts linked below for some more writing and book related content!

Last Blog Post: April Anticipations

Camp NaNo Prep: Outlining Tips, Creating Characters, Research

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Twitter:@zoermathers

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April Anticipations!

I love gushing over all of the book and movies releases and I am back with another!

Books

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

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This is a spinoff of Becky’s other book, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens (which is now a fantastic movie that you NEED to go watch!) but follows Simon’s best friend, Leah who is struggling with her sexuality and who she is. I am so excited to get my hands on this book because I really loved Leah and thought she was such a realistic character. I cannot wait to see the world through her eyes and read whatever story Becky has in store for us next month! April 24th 2018

The Fates Divide by Veronica Roth

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The Fates Divide is the second book in Veronica Roth’s new sci-fi series, which starts off with Carve the Mark. I have not read the first book but I have heard good things so maybe I will get to it sometime soon! From what I know, it follows two different characters that somehow get thrown into each other’s world…that’s about all I know but it sounds good enough to me. April 10th 2018

Love & War by Melissa de la Cruz

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I read the first book in this series, Alex & Eliza, which follows one of the founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton, and his wife, Elizabeth Schuyler and their journey to meeting each other. I liked the first book but wasn’t blown away by it, however I am still excited to follow their life after their marriage in the next book! While I am not American, I have always been fascinated by American history and now all these books and musicals are coming out in regards to it and I am just having the best time. April 17th 2018

Movies

Avengers: Infinity War

I didn’t know I wanted to watch this movie until I watched the trailer and realized literally EVERY superhero to ever walk on the screen is in it. Not only do I think it will be epic to see all my favourite superheroes work together, but I think it will be interesting to see how having so many main characters on screen at once. I do think it will be hilarious and action packed and I am itching to watch it. April 27th 2018

I Feel Pretty

This is an Amy Schumer movie that follows a woman who has never felt confident about her body, but when she hits her head one day she wakes up and starts viewing herself as this “perfect” and pretty person, even though she hasn’t really changed her appearance. Not only does this look hilarious, but it also has a really good message that you should love yourself for who you are, and not compare yourself to others. April 27th 2018

Those are some of the books and movies I am looking forward to in the month of April and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post: Balancing Multiple Writing Projects

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Balancing Multiple Writing Projects

I am a writer who likes to keep busy by working on multiple writing projects at once, and while it sounds daunting (and sometimes is) if you manage your time and energy correctly, you will be amazed at how much you can get done.

Devote One Day to Each Project

While you can spend a day on two or even three projects, you will not get much done. However, if you focus on only one project per day, you will get so much more done and faster too. For example, I am currently working on two short stories and outlining my novel for Camp NaNoWriMo, but I don’t work on everything each day. Usually I will work on one short story and then the other the next day. Sometimes if I finish what I need to get done that day though, I will finish off the day by doing a little bit of outlining but I will devote an entire day to outlining some other day.

Have To-Do Lists

This is so, so important because since you are balancing multiple writing projects, you want to get as much work as possible done each day. You need to have a list of the things you want to get accomplished and then go through that and make sure you check every single one off. I recommend not going too crazy when it comes to your goals for the day and stick to around 3 smaller goals and 1-2 bigger ones. If you start reaching too high than you will feel unaccomplished by the end of the day and start losing confidence in whatever projects you are working on.

Set Timers Throughout the Day

When you spend the entire day on a project, the last thing you want is to get burned out. I recommend setting up timers throughout the day so when they go off, you know it is time for a break. Personally, I like to work for 45 mins-1 hour at a time and then have 10-15 minute breaks. Having around an hour to work just lets me get a lot more done and when I finish each session, I feel like I have deserved that 15 minute break.

Those are my 3 biggest tips when it comes to juggling multiple writing projects, but this really goes for all types of projects. Good luck with your projects and I hope you found this helpful! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post: Prepping for Camp NaNoWriMo #3

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Prepping for Camp NaNoWriMo #3

Welcome to week 3 of prepping for Camp NaNoWriMo 2018! Today I thought it would be a good idea to talk about researching when outlining because it is a really important part of the outlining process, more so for some than others. I know for me, my current WIP requires a lot of research and often I am asking myself these two questions: what do I really need to research? and how much is too much research?

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When it comes to researching, I recommend researching as much as you can. Do as much as you think is necessary and even a little more. It is important to know more than your readers will, so even if you don’t plan on injecting every bit of this research onto the page, it can come in handy later on. Okay, now onto the first question!

What will I really need to research?

This question depends on what kind of research you are doing. If you are researching an entirely different civilization for your book, it is pretty obvious that you will need to know what they wore, what they ate, what their government was like, what the common day looked like for them…basic things that we know about ourselves. For example, maybe you want to write a book that takes place during Ancient Greece and you are focusing on Greek mythology. Clearly you will need to research everything about the gods and the rich myths and legends that come with this ancient civilization, but it is also important that you know what they ate and what they wore and maybe even throw in a few common phrases people would say. Every little thing you throw in will add to the authenticity of your story and make it that much better. However, if you are not researching a civilization but maybe you need to know about a certain job like a scientist, that means it will be handy to know what kind of scientist they are, their pay, their hours, their duties, etc.

How much research is too much research?

The next question might be the most important one because while I just said above to research a lot, and that is true, but there is researching a lot and than there is researching too much. You should take the time to carefully research what you need to but don’t let the research take too much time away from the actual writing of your story. For me, I am giving myself 3 weeks to research (already 1 1/2 weeks in) and then wherever I am at, I need to stop and write. By the end of 3 weeks I should know enough about what I researched to actually start on my story, thus not allowing me any excuses. I recommend setting yourself a time span like this, and if you don’t feel it is enough time by the end of it, don’t worry, write anyways. You can research along the way or just blast through your first draft and research more afterwards for your second draft. The point is, don’t let researching get in the way of you writing, especially with something like Camp NaNoWriMo!

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That is all for this blog post and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post: Reading + Writing Update

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Reading + Writing Update!

I finally finished rereading the first 3 books in the Shatter Me series and wow, it took me a while. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore every book in the series and had such a good time revisiting this world but I was just so busy and exhausted by the end of the day that I only read 30-50 pages a night, maybe not even. Hopefully I can pick up the pace because I need to finish the last 150 pages of The Book Thief by April 4 and also finally finish listening to The Son of Neptune audiobook! So many books so little time.

This week was so unproductive that it physically hurts me…but at the same time it is 100% okay because I spent the time catching up with friends I haven’t seen in a while. It was a blast but now that the week is mostly over and they have left, I am ready to jump back into outlining my novel and writing because Camp NaNoWriMo is only 13 days away…wow. I need to pick up the pace because not only do we only have 13 days left, but I also leave for holidays in 4 days and who knows how much I’ll get done while I’m away. I also have a few short stories I wanted to get done this coming week, so fingers crossed I am not putting too much on myself and will be able to get it all done!

That is all for this blog post and I just want to quickly apologize for not posting on Friday! I was barely at home Wednesday-Saturday and hadn’t even opened up my laptop until last night. Anyways, expect a post tomorrow as well as my normal days (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays) and I hope you enjoy! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post: Reading + Writing Goals – March + April 2018

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Reading + Writing Goals – March + April 2018

So I made a blog post for my January and February goals back in January, and while I said I was going to recap them when I got around to writing my March and April goals, I’m just going to pretend I never said that. Basically the first two months of 2018 were fails for the goals I set because I set goals that were way out of reach. I wouldn’t say the months were unsuccessful because I did accomplish some things, but overall it was a flop on my goals. Anyways, now I know what kind of goals to set for myself so I made a list of my March and April goals that are ambitious but not too ambitious!

March + April Goals:

  • Finish my Creative Writing 12 by March 16
  • Write + publish 30 blog posts
  • Submit to 3 short story contests
  • Submit to 1 literary magazine
  • Finish outlining novel
  • Write 40,000 words during Camp NaNoWriMo in April
  • Read 10 books

These goals are much more reachable than my past goals, and I am already chugging along to completing some of them already! Fingers crossed though that my wrap up on these goals in May is way more successful than January and February, but honestly no month could be as lazy as them!

Anyways that is all for my reading and writing goals for the months of March and April, and I hope you enjoyed. Make sure you comment some goals you have for the coming months, and also check out my last blog post: Prepping for Camp NaNoWriMo #2

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Prepping for Camp NaNoWriMo #2

Last week I went over some brief tips on outlining your novel for Camp NaNoWriMo and now we are going to dive a little more into that, but focusing on characters! Characters are incredibly important to any story…if they are done well. Here are some tips to creating three dimensional, fleshed out characters!

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Creating Characters 101

  • Use Real People for Inspiration – It is really helpful when starting out to use real people to help you with your character sketch. As you go on, you’ll start adding new pieces that you came up with yourself, but until then it is like starting off with a template!
  • Make Them Diverse! – Make every character different. In the real world everyone has different skin colour, hair colour, voices, personalities…so reflect that in your characters. Having a diverse cast of characters not only makes your story more realistic, but it allows readers  to connect with them easier because they will see themselves in one or more of your characters.
  • Fears? Ambitions? Those Are Important – I have fears and ambitions, and so do you. If we both do that means ALL your characters do as well. Make sure you write this down, along with all these others tips, because sometimes we think we know what our characters fear or what they strive for, but it is important to actually write it down. You can use this in your story to bring more depth to your character and make them actually feel real.
  • Give EVERY Character a History – Everyone lives a different life, and just because a character isn’t as important to the story as the main character, they still deserve their own story. It also makes them easier to write because if they have a backstory you get to know them better. Maybe they were orphaned at a young age and moved around from house to house which is why they don’t get attached easily…whatever you feel is right for that character but just create it!
  • Know What Will Make or Break Them – Everyone has something that will make or break them. By this I mean we all have something that would make us the happiest person on the Earth, but also things that would deeply hurt us. Characters have this too! Something can bring them to the verge of breaking (or the happier alternative) and you can use that and bend it at your will throughout the story.
  • Know Their Motive – Again, whether they are the main character or a side character, it is so important to know what is motivating them to do whatever it is they are doing in your story. Just like how every person has some driving force in their life, like maybe they want to be a musician. If that is what their motive is at the moment then that means they will do things in order to move forward like buy an instrument and take lessons. It is the same with your characters, especially your main character. Something is motivating them and you need to know what.
  • Write in that Character’s Perspective – Even if you don’t plan on writing in that character’s POV, pull out a journal and just freewrite as that character. Write what their usual day looks like, write about them going on a walk…just writing in their perspective will make you understand them better and that will really show when you introduce them in your short story, novel, etc.

Wow that was a lot longer than I expected but hopefully it was helpful! It is so important to know as much as you can about your characters, but also your entire story and world before diving head first into Camp NaNoWriMo because otherwise you will hit some major roadblocks along the way.

Anyways, that is all for this Camp NaNo prep post and I hope you enjoyed. Don’t forget to check out my last blog post: Reading + Writing Update!

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Reading + Writing Update!

Happy Sunday!

I cannot believe were are already eleven days into March…like this month will be over before we know it which means I need to pick up the pace! This week I did manage to finish Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi, and am still making progress with the three other books I am reading. I am currently about two hundred and fifty pages into The Book Thief, over eight hours into The Son of Neptune audiobook, and one hundred pages into Ignite Me Tahereh Mafi. I am so glad that I am loving my reads, but I’m just hoping I can finish some of them soon because there are so many books I want to dive head first into like The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson and More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera!

Luckily I have also been pretty productive writing wise. Thanks to my handy writing bullet journal, I can say I wrote around 2000 words this week which now that I think about it, isn’t actually that great. Still, I was having a really tough week so I am surprised that I found the time to get in a few words. Hopefully next week will be better because lately I have been feeling on and off when it comes to motivation. Either I am bouncing off the walls or barely have enough energy to pull out my computer and it is getting really annoying. Anyways, enough with my whining and complaining, I just hope that I can get a few more thousand words in next week!

That is all for my writing and reading update and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post: Writing with Myths & Legends

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Twitter:@zoermathers

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