Again, But Better by Christine Riccio – Spoiler-Filled Book Review

Happy Sunday!

Today I will be discussing ALL my thoughts about Again, But Better by Christine Riccio, not only now an author, but a very prominent figure in BookTube with over 400,000 subscribers.

Sorry for not having my usual Saturday post, but I ended up not finishing this book until mid-Saturday rather than Friday and I really wanted my next post to be a book review. I was actually reading Again, But Better for the Reading Rush, and let’s just say I am a little behind with this readathon.

Anyways, it is read and I am ready to spill all my spoilery thoughts, opinions, and ideas related to this debut contemporary, but first, here is a snapshot of the book.

After doing her first two years of college wrong, 20-year-old Shane is determined to flip things around when she goes on study abroad trip to England, not across the world, but doing a completely different major than what her parents think.

Right away, things appear to be actually working out for Shane: she becomes fast friends with her flatmates, she is finally getting to study something she is passionate about, writing, and there is a cute boy named Pilot who seems to like her. But the smooth sailing is cut short after a series of spontaneous weekend trips, advancing in her internship, and almost kissing Pilot, and things suddenly begin to feel almost as bad as they were in America. 

Can Shane flip things around herself or will college take two be as much of a flop as she feared?

CAUTION: SPOILER THOUGHTS NEARING AHEAD

Okay, I have a LOT of thoughts to share about this book on everything from the story, the characters, to the author.

First off, I have been an avid watched of Christine (PolandbananasBOOKS on YouTube) for many, many years now. I honestly don’t even know how long. Maybe five? Anyways, the point is, over the years, I have definitely gotten a good idea about who she is, what type of person she is, and I even followed her ENTIRE writing journey for this book.

Because of that, I can CONFIDENTLY confirm that Shane is LITERALLY Christine.

I am 100% the type of writer who makes their main character (at least in the first novel) a reflection of myself, but if anything, a very murky reflection. I will take bits and pieces from here and there, smashing them together with what type of character my main character needs to be. However, Christine literally took herself, maybe toned it down a bit and then gave us Shane.

CHARACTER COMPARISON:

Christine Riccio – white, blonde, socially awkward, reader, writer, enthusiastic, nerd, ENTHUSIASTIC NERD, studied abroad, Italian, blog name: FrenchWatermelons19, etc, etc

Shane Primaveri – white, blonde, socially awkward, reader, writer, enthusiastic, nerd, ENTHUSIASTIC NERD, studied abroad, Italian, YouTube channel name (2nd account): PolandBananas20, etc, etc

Hmm, something looks familiar…OH YEAH, EVERYTHING.

Now again, I’m all for putting some of yourself in your main character. We writers do it, but there is a fine line between writing a fictional character and literally selling people an autobiography disguised as a YA/NA contemporary.

That said, I didn’t hate Shane, but I was not her biggest fan. I found her very cringey and awkward dialogue with, oh, everyone, very relatable but her overly enthusiastic and childish personality just did not click with me. Apparently, I was reading from a 20-year-old’s POV, but to me (an almost 18-year-old girl), it felt more like a 15-year-old and her immaturity really annoyed me.

“I’ve never used these sugar cube things before, and I’m very amused by them. They should make sugar stars! And other shapes! Sugar octagons!” – Shane Primaveri, a 20-year-old woman

Character development was also really lacking. When a difficult situation came up, Shane or Pilot would run the other way and ignore each other…for THE ENTIRE STUDY ABROAD PROGRAM. When I looked back at the book when I finished, I realized that they all arrived at the program in January and then left in April. The thing is, the first time around, Pilot, THE MAIN LOVE INTEREST, stopped speaking to Shane was back in February and then they never spoke again before they all left back to America…and then Shane did the exact same thing in the second go around. It was super repetitive and while the aspect of having a “do-over” would have provided an EXCELLENT opportunity to show how both of the characters grew over the past six years, that did not happen.

Shane and Pilot both felt very flat and basic to me. There was nothing special or interesting about either of them or any of the characters like Babe, Sahyra (Sahra?), and Atticus! (I am not even going to TALK ABOUT the names, okay?) Side characters are really the best name for these people because they all felt like they clung to the walls every time they appeared on the page in front of my eyes. I could barely see them because Shane or Pilot were jumping in my face. We barely got any dialogue from any of them, and when we did, it honestly all sounded the same to me, and the dialogue held almost no importance to the plot or anything.

That goes for a lot of this entire book – every plot point, drama, or piece of dialogue, I asked myself why it had to be in there.

LIKE THE MAGICAL ELEMENT.

When Shane and Pilot are suddenly whisked back into 2011, I was a little confused, but to be honest, intrigued. It is a very cliche plot point, but I was curious to see how the characters would react.

Let’s just say I was disappointed.

When I finished reading the book, I realized how unimportant and uninteresting the plot thread of having them being able to re-do their study abroad session was. One, because having BOTH Shane and Pilot go back in time together made it seem like they were sent back ONLY so they could live happily ever after together in love when it was so much more than that. And then two, apparently over the course of six years, neither of these characters learned ANYTHING!

Shane and Pilot return to 2011 and Shane does the same thing that Pilot did to her! She pushes him out and ignores him until he forces her to listen to him. Yeah, okay, she turned everything else in her life around. She became a better friend to Babe, Sahra (Sahyra???), and Atticus. She also pushed to the top in her writing internship, landing her own article, but when it came to Pilot, her immaturity really shone through. OH WAIT, there was no closure with her parents either. They reacted the same way and so did Shane. She only TALKED about making sure she would fix things with them.

This book was just FILLED with telling rather than showing, but this blog post is already long enough as it is.

I really thought after six years, Shane would have been more mature and ready to work things out with him and her parents right then and there because of how strong her feelings stayed after six years. Also, because she knew EXACTLY how things could, and probably would pan out if she did not patch things up.

But nope.

I really would have preferred for Shane and Pilot to have stayed in 2017 and try to work things out there after six years of going down the wrong path. It would show people that we all make mistakes in our lives, but we always have the power to change them which I think is a really positive and powerful message.

But because that did not happen, and instead, these two for WHATEVER REASON out of all the other people in the world got a re-do with their love life (and I guess professional lives too), I have NO idea what message or theme I could yank from these pages.

It was a good, fun time? A fast read?

While I did pick this book apart, it actually was a fun time and I enjoyed it as a quick, one-time read. I would not read it again, but I will definitely pick up Christine’s next book just because I know she will only improve from here. Her writing was a little juvenile and I felt like I was reading a book for pre-teens rather than adults, but I can’t judge her too hard for that because it is only her debut. She has room to grow!

I feel like if this book was not an exact replica of Christine’s college experience (minus the magic part…I think), I would have enjoyed it more! But because that’s not the case, it sadly felt like a creative rip-off. Again, I am 100% okay with taking things from our lives and writing about them, but you got to twist them a bit.

Anyways, overall, I still gave this book 3/5 stars because it was what I (kind of) wanted: an easy and fun read.


That is all for my review on Again, But Better by Christine Riccio and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as all my social media accounts linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

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The Future of My Blog – Balancing School, Writing & More

As I am only days away from completing my ENTIRE high school education, I have been thinking a lot about the future of my blog. How I will balance it next year with school work, writing, a social life, and more. And also how I will even find the inspiration to produce content since my university life will be just writing essays…nothing more. Today, I thought it would be a good idea to share with you all what my plans are for my blog next year. Will I be posting? Will I still be active? Well, let’s discuss that now!

What Am I Doing Next Year?

Next year, I will be attending a university near my house and there, I will be studying English (aka Literature). Hopefully, if things go like I want them to, I will also be minoring in professional communication. I will be taking a full course load (5 courses per week), however, I will also most likely be working a part-time job…we will see how that goes.

What About the Blog?

Well…I will most definitely still be blogging next year! A few months ago, I blogged about five times a week, but then that got cut down to three and then even that got cut down to two which is where we are at now. While I don’t want to cut that down even further into one blog post a week, I might have to. Nothing is for sure though because I am going to give it a trial run in September and see how I manage it. If I can’t do two then, of course, I will make it a priority to publish one post per week at the least. This summer, however, since I know I will have nowhere as much free time as I have now, I will be posting three to four times a week! Yes, that’s right. For July and August, I will be sharing a total of at the least, twenty-four blog posts but I am hoping a bit more than that. I want to make sure I am as active on my blog as much as I can be, taking advantage of my time during the summer.

I also have bigger plans for my blog, I just don’t know when they are going to happen! Sometime in the next year, I would LOVE to update my WordPress plan from personal to business. For some reason, I’ve always wanted to have an email newsletter and have access to some the other cool aspects having a business membership brings to you. This will also just give me more freedom to be EVEN more creative with my blog, and I cannot wait till that day comes!

Anyways, this was a rambling, all over the place blog post, but I hope you enjoyed the mini update on my plans for my blog next year! I don’t think I could ever stop blogging…unless for some reason I lost my passion for it but if that does happen, it definitely won’t be for a very, very long time. Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which will all be linked down below! Thanks for reading 🙂

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Radioactive Evolution by Richard Hummel – Book Review

Happy Monday!

Today I will be giving my honest, non-spoiler thoughts on Radioactive Evolution by Richard Hummel which was kindly sent to me from his publicist as an ebook in exchange for this review. All of these thoughts are what I truly felt while reading the book!

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In this adult science fiction, dystopian novel, Jared Cartwright is adventuring across the wasteland of his world that was destroyed in a nuclear war. Sealed off from the last remaining flickers of human life and society, Jared has to level up beyond normal human limitations using nanites in order to survive the cruel realities of this world. On his quest of survival, Jared comes to learn that dragons really do exist when he accidentally steals a dragon egg, facing companionship of it rather than punishment by its mother. Together, Jared and his new dragon, Scarlet, tackle a new task: finding the lost dragons and restoring them to their former glory. 

Firstly, I am not a huge sci-fi fan or even dystopian for that matter. However, I did think this book was a fun step outside of my usual reading taste. I think it is good to explore, or in this case, re-explore other genres apart from the ones you constantly read. While reading this, I did remember that I don’t usually pick up sci-fi because of the science aspect of the novel. Sometimes, it is hard for me to grasp if it is poorly explained and other times, I just don’t want to read something heavily influenced by science. That is just my preference though.

The wasted world we are taken into was interesting to explore, and despite my lack of adoration for science in novels, I found the whole using nanites to survive intriguing and easy enough to grasp. Along with the “levelling up” aspect of the novel. At first, I was worried that Jared levelling up would mean he became closer to being invincible, but luckily, the author did not take that route. Instead, Jared had to rest after each level up and learn how to harness his newfound abilities. However, he could still be beaten. I hate when characters are seemingly invincible in books because that is unrealistic and completely throws me from the story. In Radioactive Evolution though, Jared is anything but invincible and while he needs a reminder from Scarlet sometimes, he realizes that too.

As for Jared and Scarlet, the two main characters in this story, I couldn’t find a way to connect to either of them. Scarlet is a dragon who often, didn’t even seem like a dragon to me. Yes, she was slowly growing at the beginning of the book, but I often found myself having to remember that she was in fact, a dragon. I did enjoy her sassy and witty personality though, and how she always called Jared out when he was acting too tough. Jared, on the other hand, just did not leap off the page enough for me so I could not feel as if I knew him. Instead, I felt disconnected from him throughout the entire novel even as we dove into his backstory.

Before I get into my overall thoughts for the actual plot in the book, I wanted to talk about the writing in this book. I thought Richard Hummel had a very simple, yet effective style of writing that allowed me to visualize each situation pretty well. It was polished and professional which is obviously, what every reader expects when they pick up a novel. This made for a quick and easy read because I was not re-reading sentences trying to figure out what was going on. However, there were quite a few formatting errors throughout this book that definitely, because of the amount, threw me out of the story. There were several times when Scarlet’s dialogue wasn’t big or bold like it usually was, and it took me a while to realize it was her speaking. There were also times when Jared’s internal thoughts that he was communicating to Scarlet were not italicized and once again, confusion pulled me from the story. Other than those simple flaws, the writing was clean and crisp.

Now for the plot.

In the beginning, I felt as if we were not getting anywhere within the story. We were wandering around, following Jared and Scarlett as they met some low-risk obstacles. However, it did pick up as expected as the story continued on. Most of the obstacles and problems our characters ran into along the way didn’t pose too much of a high-stress threat to me. My experience reading this book was easy going and rarely did I find myself worrying about what would happen next plot-wise as well as to our characters. That isn’t to say the plot wasn’t interesting though. It moved at a medium pace and while learning about the world, the plot enticed me to learn more about this post-apocalyptic world. It just didn’t bring me to the edge of my seat.

Overall, I thought this was a good adult, sci-fi story about a man and his dragon trying to survive in this wasteland and save dragons as a species as well as humankind. The story was developed well and the writing was easy to get through. While it didn’t have me on the edge of my seat if you are a fan of sci-fi I would definitely give this book a read. 3.5/5 stars

If you want to check out the book, here is a link to its Goodreads page 🙂 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42514577-radioactive-evolution

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How To: Write + COMPLETELY Edit a Short Story In ONE Week

Happy Friday! (Just kidding. I decided to post this a day early so happy THURSDAY!)

This past week, I have been writing like a madwoman because as always, I put things off to the last moment. This “thing” I put off was a writing scholarship portfolio that is due actually today when you are reading this, so fingers crossed, the submission process for future Zoe went well.

Anyways, I always do things last minute, especially writing things, so I thought I would give some of my tips for fast-drafting and polishing up a short story in a short time span. Also, apparently May is short story month so this is the perfect time to share this blog post with you all. Hopefully, you all find this helpful and if you have any tips of your own, make sure you leave them down below!

  1. Outline, Outline, Outline – Even if you aren’t a huge fan of outlining (like myself), I highly, HIGHLY recommend writing out an outline before fast-drafting. Even if it is only a sentence of what happens in the beginning, middle, and end, then that is better than nothing and will help you so much while drafting. This will save you from those moments where you pause your writing sprint because you have no idea where you are going with this story.
  2. Do More Than One Draft – When it comes to short stories, I will try to do a draft a day. Especially if I have at least one week before it needs to be finished and ready to go. If I am even shorter on time, I’ll write draft one in the morning, draft two in the evening and so on. Personally, I like to write at least three drafts. Sometimes more if I think the story desperately needs it, but usually at three I decide it is a good time to let it sit for a moment before diving into edits.
  3. Start With the BIG Edits – Honestly, I do not know the “right” or “proper” way to edit. I do what works best for me which is making the huge changes first. This means cutting chunks out, re-writing sections, and adjusting dialogue and character descriptions. Also, just overall trying to get to my word count goal. I personally don’t see the point in starting with the little edits because I end up slicing up my drafts and barely any of the words survive to see the next day!
  4. Now For the Little Edits – Now, after glossing up your story and finally, FINALLY getting it to your desired word count, it is time to focus on the smaller, yet very important things. This is things like grammar, italicizing words, fixing word order, etc, etc. The little things that make the sentences flow nicely and make them sound beautiful.
  5. Let It Sit – If you have the time to spare, let your story sit for at LEAST one day. If you can afford to give it more, than great. Usually, I only have one day. So, I will give my story that one day and then usually the day it’s due (yes, I know, I’m SO on top of things), I will give it a final tweaking. No big edits though because that could start a total disaster.

Those are my 5 tips for writing short stories while under tight deadlines and I hope they were helpful! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

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Writer Spotlight – Margaret Atwood

Happy Monday!

Today marks the first day of me finally sharing some of the ideas I had way back in February when I first said I planned on making different content…but then didn’t.

This “series” I guess you could say, will be focusing on various writers. The reason I wanted to make this series is that I love reading about writers. I enjoy hearing about how writing shaped their lives and the steps they wandered to become successful. So, mashing that all together in blog posts like this will not only educate me on some of my favourite writers but also give you guys quick access to this type of info! If you have any writer requests, make sure you let me know but for today, we will be discussing and exploring the life of Margaret Atwood. 

Who IS Margaret Atwood?

Image result for margaret atwoodImage result for margaret atwood books

Born in Ottawa, Ontario, Margaret Atwood is a successful Canadian writer of both prose and poetry. Writing since the young age of 5, but becoming more serious at 15, she published her first book of poetry at the age of 21 called “Double Persephone” that contrasted life and death. She completed her degree in English Literature at Victoria College at the University of Toronto in the same year as the publication of “Dark Persephone”, even going on to complete a master’s degree the following year from Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In her 74 years of writing, Atwood has published 17 books of poetry, 16 novels, 10 books of non-fiction, 8 collections of short fiction, 8 children’s books, and 1 graphic novel. It is safe to say she has been busy, exploring role reversal, new beginnings, human behaviour, and celebrating the natural world in her writing. In all of her pieces, feminism is also a major theme. Basically, Atwood is an example of the success of someone due to not sitting still. She jumps for the type of writing to the genre, grabbing ever flicker of creativity and twisting it into something no reader ever expected.

My Conclusion: Why Is Margaret Atwood So Successful?

At the end of every one of these author “spotlights”, I really wanted to sit back after analyzing their lives and try to spot what it is they did that led them to a successful career in writing. For some, it is luck, but it is clear from Atwood’s life and story that she got where she is now because of hard work. That and trying everything. She didn’t confine herself to one mode of writing, or one genre, or one type of story. She wrote poems and short stories and novels. She tried everything and kept trying until things worked. In my opinion, that is an essential part of succeeding as a writer: not sitting still. Never waiting. Never wondering. Only thinking about writing and actually writing which is the only way you end up with 40+ books published.

Interviews with Margaret Atwood:

https://lithub.com/margaret-atwood-on-how-she-came-to-write-the-handmaids-tale/

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/04/17/margaret-atwood-the-prophet-of-dystopia

Atwood’s Writing Tips:

  • Explore outside
  • Read constantly
  • Don’t listen to the critics
  • Start writing any way you can
  • Write every day no matter how awful you feel

I know this was short, but this was really my intro to writing this type of “fun fact”, biography post. I do really hope you guys enjoyed it and even learned something new. I also hope you guys decide to give Margaret Atwood a look! Personally, I haven’t read too much Atwood because only lately, has her type of work been in my interests, but I have read some of her poetry books as well as her book on writing. Some of her popular books that you should all give a try (including myself) are The Handmaiden’s Tale and Hagseed!

Anyways, make sure you let me know what you thought of this blog post below, and also don’t forget to check out my last blog post. Thanks for reading 🙂

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Bibliography

http://margaretatwood.ca/biography/

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Margaret-Atwood

https://www.standoutbooks.com/margaret-atwood-writing-advice/

https://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/7-tips-writers-margaret-atwood

My Literary Bucket List

Before I get into today’s blog post, I wanted to announce that ONCE AGAIN I am tweaking my posting schedule. Since I have unintentionally NOT been posting my Sunday updates (I will eventually…I just keep forgetting), I decided to spread my posting days out a bit more. So, instead of Monday, Wednesday and occasionally Sunday…I will be posting Monday, THURSDAY, and occasionally Sunday. It’s not that big of a deal, but I thought I would let you guys know!

As I hinted in one of my previous blog posts (5 Places I Want to Write At), I have been curating my literary bucket list because I thought it would be a really fun thing to share with you guys. When I used to make bucket lists when I was younger, I realized that apart from things like traveling and Daredevil(ish) type excursions, a lot of the things I want to accomplish in my life are literary related things. To be fair though, some of these things on this literary bucket list are still traveling related. ANYWAYS, onto the blog post!

  1. Attend a Reading Convention – By this, I mean some sort of reading festivals like BookCon or Yallfest. Something that celebrates one of my most favourite things: reading. The top two I want to visit though would definitely be BookCon in New York because it includes a lot of my favourite authors, BookTubers AND it’s in New York which is somewhere I have yet to visit. The second festival is the Edinburgh International Book Festival because it is one of the largest and most famous book festivals, and also SCOTLAND.
  2. Completely Finish a Novel – I have written an entire draft or two of a novel, but I have never completely and totally finished one. By this, I mean I have never written as many drafts as I could and then edit it to (almost, but also not quite) perfection. I don’t mean published, but just something I can look at and feel content with the final product of it.
  3. Meet My Favourite Author – This is kind of a generic one to be fair. Doesn’t every reader want to meet their favourite writer? Well, I am adding it anyways because I would love, love, LOVE to meet Cassandra Clare in the future. There is something so special about meeting the person who created your favourite world and story that you can always dive into and forget your world around you, and I think every reader should experience that!
  4. Attend the Literary Pub Crawl in Dublin, Ireland – This just sounds so freakin’ cool! You visit eight famous pubs in Dublin and some actors recite famous Irish writers works like James Joyce. Apparently, the tour also takes you to where Oscar Wilde studied and it’s crazy how much literary history is in one country. I live in Canada which is WAY bigger than Ireland, yet severely depleted of literary roots.
  5. Visit Anne of Green Gables House in Charlottetown, PEI – As I was saying above, Canada has a limited literary history. Well, at least, I don’t know much about it anyway, so it is my duty to visit the Anne of Green Gables House because it is as famous as Canada gets literary-wise. Also, it is always so inspiring to see where writers inspiration sparked.
  6. Go On a Writing Retreat – As long as it is somewhere quiet and nice, I don’t care where I go for a writing retreat. The point of them is to be productive, however, I would like it to be somewhere kind of cool so when I am not writing, I can go exploring. Oh! Maybe a writing retreat IN Ireland so I can knock a few things off my literary bucket list.

That’s all I can think of for now, but I think that is a pretty good start. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed and don’t forget to comment below some of your literary bucket list ideas! Also, don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

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5 Places I Want to Write At

Lately, I have been obsessed with looking at pictures of gorgeous libraries, coffee shops, and just literary locations from around the world so, I thought today it would be fun to share with you all the places I would want to write in! Only 5 of them though, because otherwise, this blog post would go on for eternity and we don’t want to be here for that long. Anyways, I hope you enjoy!

The Elephant House – Edinburgh, Scotland

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I feel like any writer and reader wants to visit the birthplace of Harry Potter, so obviously I do too. Writing in there would really cool, and is definitely on my literary bucket list (hint, hint to a blog post coming soon). Also, I heard the food is really, really good so that just makes me more eager to go. I’ve always wanted to visit Edinburgh because it is like the literary capital of the world, and this would 100% be one of my first stops.

Library of Congress – Washington, DC

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Not only is this library beautiful, but it also has CLASSICAL CONCERTS which is pretty awesome. I don’t usually write with music, but if I do, it’s always classical music so this would be perfect. I read that there is a statue of Minerva, the Roman form of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom which is cool because I love my Greek mythology. Anyways, this just sounds like a gorgeous and peaceful place to write so it’s on my list!

Cafe Tortoni – Buenos Aires, Argentina 

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This coffee shop is Argentina’s oldest cafe and has been around since the late 1800s! From the pictures, I absolutely fell in love with the architecture of this old cafe and dark, haunting colours. I can see myself just bursting at the seams with inspiration while writing in this place. Also, I read that it has been a popular “hang-out” place for famous artists and musicians. And then, of course, chocolate con churros which are their specialty and are a favourite of mine.

The National Library of Spain – Madrid, Spain

 

This is another gorgeous library that I would just love to sit down and write in. After looking around of course. European libraries have such beautiful architecture (well, the older ones do at least), and that is something I don’t see a lot of here in Canada! On the outside, this library reminds me of a Greek temple and ugh…it’s just so gorgeous.

The Champ de Mars – Paris, France

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The Champe de Mars is that green space in front of the Eiffel Tower, and it has been my dream to not only visit the Eiffel Tower but relax in that green space below it. It’s kind of a weird dream, but that green space is so beautiful and has an equally stunning view. While I am sure it would be crowded with tourists, with the water fountains and the actual Eiffel Tower, I think it would be a great atmosphere to write some words down in!

Those are 5 places around the world (but let’s be honest, mostly just in Europe!) that I would want to write at and I hope you enjoyed! Make sure you comment below any literary related places you would want to visit or even write at because I would love to add more to my list. Anyways, don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

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The Fairy Garden by Zoe Mathers – Short Story

Happy Wednesday!

Sorry for the late post today, but I wanted to share an older story of mine I wrote a few months ago for my writing class. It was a lot of fun to write, and is something I want to develop on in the future! I decided it would be fun to show where the story is now, and then whenever I edit and rewrite it, show you guys how my writing and the story can evolve over time. Anyways, here it is!


The town’s garden is dead. Flowers still curl out of the ground, but their brilliant reds, yellows, and pinks have faded and wilted to droops of grey edged with brown rust. Constant rainstorms have flooded their beds, steady streams of water dripping down the edges of the wooden boxes and taking clumps of dirt along for the ride. The once green grass is leeched to brown, the sharp scent of it freshly cut replaced with the thick and bitter must of autumn.

Autumn is an unwelcomed beast that has stuck its straw in the ground and is now drinking away the vibrant life that once consumed the garden. It claws at my bare cheeks and nose, shaving off layers of my skin with its icy breath as I sit on the wooden bench. A pool of water sits on it too, right underneath me, and it seeps into the butt of my jeans. I stuff my hands into my pockets to keep from trembling off the bench while Queen’s, The Show Must Go On hammers at my skull.

I wait for the ideas to come as I sit here, but they don’t. The garden is dead, but it is still here. Its magic of conjuring up a story idea in my head must still work. I didn’t have the time or patience to wait for spring, not when what I know is a good idea is already crumbling in my hands, its ashes getting carried away by the wind.

I wait another moment, but nothing comes. My head is a pumpkin with the guts scraped out.

“Agf,” I mumble, jerking my hands out of my pockets and burying my face into them.

“Hello.” The word is muffled by Freddie Mercury’s nearly four octave voice, but I still hear it. My head shoots up. A little girl with a round face and lopsided, dark pigtails stares up at me like a kitten begging for milk, grey eyes cutting into me.

“Uh, hi,” I say slowly, glancing around the park, expecting to see more people. While it is large garden, I can see everything from where I sit. Even the small pocket of space behind the oak tree that is hidden away from the black gated entrance. I crane my neck around, but I don’t see anyone else.

Maybe her parents are somewhere outside the garden. Maybe she ran in here too fast and they are trying to catch up. I remember being her, this little girl in butterfly leggings and a yellow raincoat, eager to return to the only escape of magic one can find in this world of grey.

“Are you a fairy?” The little girl asks, bouncing on her toes. I click the button on my earphones and suddenly Queen switches off.

“No,” I say with a shrug. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay. That just means you can help me find them!” A lisp that came with young age drags out a few letters in her words. She lunges towards me, grabbing my wrist and tugs me to my feet. I hesitate, glancing around again. Still no parents.

“I guess.” Searching for fairies sounds better than sitting on this bench, waiting for an idea to slam into my face. Better than waiting for a plot, and cast of characters, and world to be served directly to me on a shining, silver platter. Maybe seasoned with some subplots.

I wish.

“Yay! Usually they’re here when I get here…” she says, and glances around. Her shoulders sag. “But I don’t see them.”

“Oh…yeah?”

Her head bobs up and down as she drags me across the gardens to where a bed of red tulips used to live. Now, there is only a flower box overflowing with watery dirt. I bend down, keeping my already wet bottom above the grass. My hair slips over my shoulder and I flick it back before I get an unwanted hair mask of mud.

A few green roots are poking up from the dirt, testing the crisp air and I smile. I can’t wait for spring.

“This’s where Lila lives.” The girl kneels next to the box, darkness blooming at the knees of her grey butterfly leggings as she does. Her little fingers bury themselves into the black dirt, wriggling around like worms. “Lilaaaaa! Lilaaaaa!” I cringe as her loud voice shatters the brittle glass of the morning and look around. Where the hell are her parents?

“Um, maybe Lila is sleeping,” I say, “since it’s almost winter. Maybe she wakes up when the flowers bloom in spring.” The girl turns to me, dark, bushy brows furrowed, and lips turned down.

“No,” she explains. “Lila is always here even when the flowers go away. She just likes to hide.” She goes back to digging. I sigh.

“Alright.” I cross my arms over my chest which are stiff with cold, and squat down next to her. “So, where are your parents?”

“At home, watching TV with Mike.”

“Oh, ok.” Great.

“Lila is being bad today,” the little girl says, jumping up to her feet with a grin plastered on her face. She’s missing two of her bottom teeth. “We have to find her.” Before I can respond or more likely argue, she bounds off across the garden and towards the bulky Garry Oak tree towering at the back. It is so massive that it claims an entire piece of the garden to itself, its thick arms carrying leaves that are green in the summer, but now are crispy and brown, scattered around the tree’s base.

“So,” I say when I reach the tree, shoving my hands into the pockets of my hoodie as I watch the girl dance around it. “What does Lila look like?”

“Blue, blue hair down to here,” she points to her shoulders as she does a strange shuffle-skip-squat around the tree. “And she wears a purple dress like the one my mommy’s going to buy me for Halloween.” I nod, imagining this fairy flying around the gardens with her blue hair and purple dress, wings maybe silver and delicate like tears.

“How big is she?” Suddenly, I’m curious. When I was little I loved fairy stories. Mostly Tinkerbell, but whenever my mother had the day off work and I had the day off school, we filled the fireplace with logs and she would read me folklore until her voice grew hoarse and my eyelids were heavy sandbags. Eventually, the only sound left was the soft crackling of fire devouring wood.

“Like a little-Lila!” The girl screeches and falls to her hands and knees, brushing aside some leaves and burying her nose into a patch of damp grass. I hurry next to her, heart jabbing at my ribs.

“Where?”

“Right in here!” She points at the ground and the pounding in my heart slows to a steady pace. I bend down next to her, even getting on my hands and knees. My jeans stick to my legs like a second damp skin as I lean forward.

A small, stubborn bluebell twists out of the ground here, clinging to the tree’s side as autumn exhales over the garden. The girl shivers, the childish grin still splitting her lips and I feel myself smile too.

The garden isn’t dead, I realize. I can still feel its heart pulsing underneath my palms, faint but present. I look at the girl beside me, noticing the brightness glazed over her eyes, and I suddenly know what my story is.

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Reading + Writing Update!

Happy…Monday?

Yeah, I didn’t even realize it was Sunday yesterday until I woke up this morning, checked my phone, squealed with excitement that it is Christmas Eve, and then realized I wrote NO blog posts over the weekend. I had a fun blog post all planned out for today, but instead since I never wrote it…I will just be posting this update. Anyways, let’s get into it!

This week I finished 2 books which felt great because one of them was Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare! I have been reading this book for almost 3 weeks now and it feels strange to wake up and not sit down with it in the mornings, a cup of coffee at my side and fingers eager to flip those bible thin pages, but I was dying to see how it ended and now…well, now I have. I am trying to write up my review of it but my thoughts are all over the place and muddled in confusion, so who knows how long this will take to put together. This week, I also finished The Outsider by Albert Camus for my English class, and surprisingly, I really enjoyed this book. In no way is it something I would pick up “for fun”, but as a book meant for analyzing and studying, oh my-there was a LOT. Meursault as a main character is so interesting and different that it distracted me from the boring, plain plot line. Apart from those 2 books, I am still listening to City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare but I only have just over 5 hours left. My goal is to finish it this week so I can focus on reading/listening to The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan, another book I am eager to pick up before the year ends. Yet another book I am still making my way through is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I have around 100 pages left and I usually manage to read 50 pages a day, so fingers crossed I FINALLY finish it in the next 2 days. Lastly, I picked up Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones on Saturday, a German fantasy story that I’ve been meaning to get to for a while. While I am only 100 pages in so far, the story is quite slow (as I’ve read from reviews) but I am really hoping it picks up soon because I think I’ll enjoy it! I am trying to read 6 other books by the end of 2018 to hit my reading goal, so I am trying to pick up the pace when it comes to reading and blast through as much of them as I can…wish me luck!

While I am taking a break from writing, I have been struck with a really fun and exciting idea for a story (short story or novel, I’m not quite sure yet). If this idea continues to pester me, I will give in and write it, but I am holding out because I can still feel how depleted my creativity is. I am worried that writing would scrape the last flecks of creativity left inside of me, but if the idea calls, I kind of have to answer. Right?

Anyways, that is all for this late reading and writing update! I hope you enjoyed, and make sure you let me know what you managed to read and write this week because I would love to know. Also, don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts linked down below. Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: My Reading & Writing Goals for 2019

 

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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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