July Writing Goals

My June reflection and writing plans for the month of July

Happy Monday!

I cannot believe it is already time to talk about my July writing goals, but here we are, only 2 days away from finishing up with June.

June was an interesting month. No a single word of creative writing got written, but I was pumping out the blog posts, Instagram posts, and whatnot. So, it was an incredibly productive month, but for July, I really want creative writing (specifically my Aztec novel) to be one of my main priorities. Especially since it will be Camp NaNoWriMo!

Before we jump into my July goals, let’s reflect back on June.

  • Finish Re-Typing: I did finish this today actually, so yay! A checkmark for me. My goal deadline was June 12 which was quite a while ago, but I got it done before July and that is all that matters. This project was challenging, but a lot of fun because I got to read this person’s story and learn a lot. I cannot say anything about the story or its author because of legal reasons, but hopefully I can sometime in the future!
  • Finish Writing Act III of The Obsidian Butterfly: This is my Aztec novel idea and I’ve been working on it for over three years but it has changed a lot structure wise over the years. I really wanted to finish outlining Act III in June, but I decided to scrap my outline and re-start. Fingers crossed I get it done in the next 2 days…
  • Write 10,000 Words of The Obsidian Butterfly: Ha, this did not happen.
  • Write 2 Articles for Flanelle Magazine: I didn’t write 2, but I did manage to write one article about this hair product called Wetbrush. I don’t think it is on the website yet, but I’m glad I was able to contribute something this busy month.

While I didn’t achieve every goal, June was still productive and I am proud of it. Things change and goals have to be adjusted due to these changes. I still like to set some goals each month, however, because it helps keep me on track during the month. Now, let’s discuss my July goals.

JULY WRITING GOALS

WRITE 25K DURING CAMP NANOWRIMO

During Camp NaNoWriMo, I want to at least write 25,000 words for The Obsidian Butterfly and get back on track with this project. I only have 2 months left before school, and since I plan on doing a full course load AND working part-time, I want to go into the school year with a good chunk of this novel’s first draft written (even though technically, this is like the fifth draft). This is still a lot of words, especially since I am working and interning in July, but I think it is doable.

WRITE 2 ARTICLES FOR FLANELLE

Once again, I am bringing this goal back. I have written a few article ideas out, I just actually have to sit down and write them. Like I mentioned before, I enjoy writing for Flanelle because it allows me to write things I wouldn’t post to my blog such as how the film industry is impacted by this pandemic and how art is as well. If you want to check out my articles, here are the links:

COVID-19: The importance of keeping art alive in quarantine

5 Ways to stay creative during quarantine

COVID-19: How is the entertainment industry adapting?

Post One Book Review to Blog

About a month ago, I was given a book to review and I really want to get that up on my blog this coming month. I haven’t done a book review since House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig, so I feel like it is time to write one up. The book I will be reviewing is A Touch of Death by Rebecca Crunden so stay tuned!


I decided to keep my July goals short and sweet because I know I have a lot going on. It is important to not expect too much for yourself when setting your monthly goals, or really, any goals, because that is setting yourself up for failure. Well, most likely. I hope you enjoyed hearing what I have planned for July, and make sure you comment your goals for July if you have them planned already!

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 🙂

Last Blog Post: Tips for the Creative Entrepreneur

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How to: Not Overwhelm Yourself

5 tips to leading a balanced and productive life

Happy Monday!

Balancing work, life, and downtime is no simple task and it is easy to completely overwhelm yourself. That is why I am here to share 5 tips and steps I take to take control of my time and find the perfect balance.

This is geared towards those of us working at home, or just anyone who enjoys taking on multiple projects at a time while juggling everything else life has to offer. This would still be helpful to anyone who is busy and looking for some tips to avoid overwhelming yourself.

As a creative who enjoys working on multiple projects at once, I will be the first to admit that I often overwhelm myself. I am trying to get better at it which is why I wanted to make this post. It forced me to sit down and think about the things I wanted to change in my life to make it more balanced. Sometimes…well, often times, I take on too much and I am sure any other creative can agree. Since the things I work on (for the most part, give or take a few projects) are projects I genuinely enjoy like writing and social media, a lot of times I forget that it is still “work” and time-consuming. However, even if we enjoy our work, we need to take breaks and not let it consume all the hours of our day.

Learn how to get your work done while still taking time for yourself and live a balanced life with these 5 tips for not overwhelming yourself

1. Take a Look at Your Projects: What Can Stay and What Can Go?

The first reason you might be feeling overwhelm is because you are working on too many things! Which is why you need to make a list of everything you are working on and figure out if anything can go, or be postponed.

For example, I post blogs 3 times a week (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays) but because I have so many exciting projects on my plate, I decided it was best to cut it down to 2 times a week for the time being (Mondays and Fridays). I love writing for my blog and posting to it, but sometimes, we have to make sacrifices for the sake of our sanity. However, I am not too sad about it because it is only temporary. Once I finish up some current projects, I am hoping to return to posting 3 times a week.

When you make your list of projects, sort them by priority. If one of the projects involves your actual paying job, whatever that is, that should be your top priority because other people are expecting it to get done and it pays your bills. Figure out where your other projects fall after that, all in order of importance and/or urgency to least important and/or least urgent. Cut the 1 or 2 at the bottom off, or move them to the “save for later” pile. Ensure that you include at least 1 passion project though! This way, you will still be doing something you love and can look forward to making time for it during the day.

2. Set Your Work Day + Break Times

It is important to know when you are working and when you are not, especially if you are working at home and/or running your own business. I know it sounds silly and obvious, but a big contributing fact to me feeling overwhelmed is because I work until I feel “done.” This knocks any source of balance out of my life because my workday can go on until the minutes before I go to sleep.

Does a 9-5 workday not work for you? That’s okay, because while I used to do that, lately it hasn’t been working for me. Whatever time you want to start working, as long as you end it 8-9 hours later, having that normal work schedule (and sticking to it) will positively impact your mental health and sanity. Remember that this work schedule is for weekdays. I highly recommend trying to avoid working on weekends. Or, at least don’t make it a habit.

It is also important to schedule in your break time. This is something I am a rookie at because I will sit at my desk for hours, only breaking when I feel hungry or need go to the bathroom. In reality, you need to take at least an hour and a half of a break each workday.

3. Use a Planner

Organizing your projects and their deadlines is the key to leading a balanced life. You can use a paper planner or digital one like Google Calendars. I alternate between both and sometimes use them at the same time. Sit down with your planner at the end of each week, or the beginning, and plan the week ahead. Include your project deadlines as well as when you want to hit certain milestones within the project. For example, say you want to write 50,000 words in a month and you include a weekly goal of 10,000 words by every Sunday. Make sure you write that down!

Some other productivity tools I like to use to manage my projects and keep myself organized (and sane) are Trello and Hootsuite. I love Trello because it allows you to make different boards and then it lays out your tasks or goals in visually appealing way. You can easily move things around and add other boards too. On the other hand, Hootsuite lets me manage my social media posts. I take advantage of the free plan and have linked my Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest to it. Hootsuite allows you to schedule posts and create them on their website. I’ve only recently begun using it, but so far it has freed up so much time in my day.

4. Come Up with a List of Break Activities

When it is finally time for you to take a step back and relax during the workday, you should curate a list of activities that you can do so you don’t waste time trying to figure out what to do. Some things on my list are:

  • Read a book
  • Watch TV
  • Bullet journal
  • FaceTime a friend
  • Go on a walk

Add as many things to the list as you want, but having one ready to go will save you valuable break time. If you are having trouble coming up with ideas, take a look at the photo below and try to tailor your break time activities to things that take care of your mind, body, and soul. It will ensure you get the most out of your break time!

5. Enforce an End Time

Figuring out when to end your day is crucial, otherwise you will keep working until the sun goes down and your eyelids are sagging with exhaustion. Whether that is 5 pm or 8 pm, choose a time and stick to it. Since I’ve been starting my workday later (at around 12 pm), my end time is now 8 or 9 pm. But no later than 9 pm!

Having an end time also helps to prevent burnout. If you keep chugging along into the night, there is a good chance you won’t feel as productive the next day. Slow and steady wins the race; remember that, because I know I have to remind myself of this all the time. It is better to consistently work 8 hours 5 days a week rather than 10 hours one day and only 4 hours the next. So, find an end time that works for you and stick to it.


Those are my 5 tips on how to not feel overwhelmed while keeping productive. I hope you found them helpful! If you have any other tips, don’t hesitate to leave them down below.

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 Tips for Succeeding as a Creative

5 tips for achieving success in your creative field and enjoying the process.

Happy Friday!

There is no clear path for a creative, which is why I wanted to share my 5 helpful tips for succeeding in a creative field. When you choose a creative career, you are also accepting a path that will take you down unexpected twists and turns. You are accepting that failure will knock you down often. You are accepting that your success will look different than your favourite author, artist, photographer, etc.

While we are told that success in a creative field is rare, I don’t believe that is true. Scratch that, I know that’s not true. At a young age, I have found various forms of success already that comfort me in my decision to choose a creative career, and continue choosing it. I feel confident that with all the time, effort, and work I’ve poured into my writing, I will continue to find success as a creative.

Success for me has looked like this:

  • Winning writing contests
  • Short stories published
  • Large portfolio of published articles
  • Continuous freelance projects: editing, re-typing, etc
  • A responsive community on my social media and blog

So many opportunities have arisen in my creative career already, and I am only 18 years old! That means you too can easily find success as a creative.

Here are my 5 tips for finding success as a creative

1. Constantly Produce Content

The first thing you need to do is to keep all your content in a portfolio and continue to constantly produce content for it. Have a lot of it too. Having that one “brilliant” story idea is not enough in this highly competitive field! As a creative, you need to always be at your laptop, writing. Or at your easel, painting. Or behind your camera, taking photos. Whenever you have the time, even if you don’t feel inspired, you should spend time creating content and expanding your ever-increasing portfolio of work. If one piece doesn’t work out, guess what! You have several others to pick and choose from and then throw out into the world.

It is important to diversify your content too. For example, I am a writer and at first, my portfolio only consisted of fiction short stories. Now, it is filled with more stories but also articles, blog posts, social media posts, and newsletters. I also have manuscript editing experience. It all relates to my core passion of writing, but I display expertise in so many forms of writing. Check out my blog post on how I organize all my content HERE for more info. This is the driving force behind all my success and opportunities that I’ve been offered, and the opportunities that have found me without having to search for them. The point is, the more content you have and the more you make it public, the easier it is for you and success to meet up at some middle point!

2. Choose 2 Social Media Platforms to Grow

As a creative, social media is essential to your success because it is how others will find your portfolio and how you will network with other creative minds. I recommend really focusing in on 2 platforms because otherwise, it gets a little much. Feel free to make your creativity known on several platforms, but pour your energy into posting on 2 at the most.

Before choosing your social media platforms, consider these tips:

  • Which platforms do you gravitate to already?
  • Google what platforms are best for your creative passion
  • Research what days and times are the best to post on those platforms
  • Make posting/being active on social media part of your weekly routine (you should post as much as possible, but also don’t overload your audience!)
  • Plan out some ideas of what you will post. What type of content? What photos? What captions?

Instagram and Twitter are popular platforms for writers, and while I am active on Instagram, I despise Twitter. I have to force myself to post on it every once and a while because if I don’t, I will never post! That is why I have been switching over to Pinterest lately. I enjoy the creativity Pinterest requires, similar to Instagram. It is exciting to post to Pinterest and because of that, I actually do it!

Grow your social media presence, connect with other creative minds, and it will be much easier for success to meet you.

3. Spend Time Replenishing Your Creativity

On the path to finding success, you have to make an effort to replenish your creativity so you have the energy to continue working and creating. This means watching movies, reading books, looking at art, etc.

This is something else you should schedule in daily! Whether it is thirty minutes or an hour, make it a priority to inspire and spark your creativity. Lately, I have been spending my mornings reading or watching movies. I have changed my working time to starting in the early afternoon and ending in the later evening because I was finding it hard to remember to replenish my creative well. This way, I am doing it first thing in the morning and starting my day off right.

4. Set Short-Term + Long-Term Goals

It is crucial to have goals for everything you are trying to achieve, but it is also important to have a plan of action for these goals otherwise they mean nothing.

For example, if you want to reach 1,000 followers on Instagram that is great but how are you going to do it? Are you going to follow a certain amount of people every day? Are you going to post every day or every second day? Are you going to determine who your audience is so you can post content they will like? These are the action steps you must think about and plan in order to achieve that goal of reaching 1,000 followers.

Sit down with a notebook and write out all the goals you want to achieve in the next few months, and then in the next few years. This will help you gain a clear idea of what steps you need to take in your career to achieve these. This also means you will most likely see results faster! Check back in with these goals every month and see if you achieved them, or are well on your way to doing so. Adjust things if you are not close to succeeding in them until you are.

5. Get Used to Failure

Failure is inevitable as a creative. Even if you’ve been faced with it 5 times already, failure will find you again. I was greeted by failure for the first time regarding my writing when I was 13 years old. I had sent short stories to a few contests but only got the mass email that read: “Thank you for submitting to our contest, unfortunately, your story has not been chosen…” Does this sound familiar to you? Well, if it doesn’t, it soon will be!

Failure is something I am used to now. Yes, it still stings but I take it as a hint that I need to work on my writing a little more. My writing can always be stronger. But no matter what, I always pick myself up after facing that rejection or failure and push forwards. It has never once discouraged me from submitting to other contests or literary magazines. It has never once made me feel like a was an awful writer because rejection from a contest or literary magazine does not mean that! Rejection and failure mean that you gave your art to the wrong person, but the right person is still out there.

That is why it is important to follow the previous tips because when you have that portfolio of work to share, and that social media following it will allow you to find the right place for your art.

I recommend checking out my Instagram account because I began a series called “So you wanna be a writer?” that touches on finding opportunity, learning from rejection, and overall, pursuing creativity. The posts (there are 2 currently) are filled with tips and tricks for doing so. Click below to read them!

HOW MY WRITING JOURNEY STARTED: THE IMPORTANCE OF PUTTING TIME INTO YOUR WRITING AND TRUSTING YOUR SKILLS

SEEKING OPPORTUNITY


Those are 5 tips for succeeding as a creative. I hope they were helpful because pursuing creativity is not always easy but that is the fun of it!

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 🙂

Last Blog Post: 6 Books By Black Authors I NEED to Read

  

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Writing Update!

An insight into my busy, writing-filled month!

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Happy Friday!

May has been a busy month in all aspects and because of that, I thought a writing update was in order. I will be sharing how I’m keeping busy and explaining how I kind of overwhelmed myself with work…as any creative workaholic does.

AZTEC INSPIRED NOVEL

I began this month with the goal to write 1,000 words a day for my Aztec novel but surprise, surprise, that didn’t happen. Overall, I did write 7,000 words or so which means this month hasn’t been a total loss creative writing-wise. There were a few factors that contributed to me abandoning this project:

  1. May has been an anxiety-filled month and I’ve found it difficult to write.
  2. I took on a paid re-typing project that has taken a lot of time.

At first, I definitely did beat myself up about not working on my Aztec project. Since we are quarantined, I figured I would finally have time to work on fiction projects that I neglected for most of the school year, however, here I am, taking on more random projects and having NO time. Although, I have finally accepted the fact that once I am done re-typing my client’s novel, I know I’ll have time to return to my own creative writing. There are still three months before I return to school (ONLINE school too) so I have time. We always have time even if we don’t realize it.

FLANELLE MAGAZINE

Due to having more time to enjoy movies and TV shows, I’ve found interest in learning about the entertainment industry during these trying times. If you didn’t know, I write articles for a fashion, art, and lifestyle magazine called Flanelle Magazine, and have been since March. This month, I did some research and wrote an article on the entertainment industry during COVID-19, which you can read if you click HERE. It would mean a lot if you checked it out because I spent a lot of time working on it!

I really enjoy writing for Flanelle Magazine because it offers me another platform to share my writing and reach a completely different audience than the one I have on here. It also allows me to build my portfolio and work with an editor-in-chief to improve my writing which I don’t have for my blog or creative writing. While I only contribute to it once or twice a month, it is nice to always have another project to turn to if I run out of them (which is usually not the case but still!).

RE-TYPING

I had never heard of people hiring others to re-type their novel before, but I discovered this paid position on my university’s job board and snatched it up. I won’t lie, it is a lot harder and much more time consuming than I anticipated but it has been a great learning experience. I would consider myself a fast typer, but as I mentioned above, this project is taking a lot longer than I would like. However, while I can’t talk about the subject matter of this novel, it has been super interesting to read through and learn about so that really does help.

BLOGGING!

If you haven’t noticed, I post three times a week now (except I didn’t post this past Wednesday but besides that) which has been super fun. I love posting a lot of content onto my blog because it is something I am so passionate about. Like Flanelle, it is a nice break from fiction writing and I find blogging a lot easier to do. I love sharing tips, recommendations, and advice, as well as whatever I am reading and loving at that moment. I love the community here and all the other amazing bloggers on this platform, and it motivates me to keep on blogging.

My schedule for posting on here always changes regarding school and whatnot, but since my fall semester is online, I am hoping I can at least keep up with posting twice a week. My ideal goal would be posting three times a week but since I plan on taking a full course load, that might not happen. I’ll try my best though because like I just said, I love to blog.

MARKETING AND SOCIAL MEDIA INTERNSHIP

Being a marketing and social media intern is a new addition to my never-ending list of tasks, and I am so thrilled to have gotten this opportunity to enhance my skills on social media. I am interning at Gypsy Journals and am starting that new internship on June 1st.

My passion for writing led me to my interest in marketing and social media only this past year, and ever since, I have been doing everything I can to explore the business side of social media and of writing too. When I received this internship, it felt like a step forward towards the career I want which will involve writing and marketing on social media like a social media manager, coordinator, etc. I cannot wait to start it in the next week or so, and I will keep you all updated along the way.


Those are all my writing-related updates for the month of May, and I hope you enjoyed it! Yes, it looks like a lot and I won’t lie, it IS a lot, but it has taught me so much about balancing my time and still staying healthy mentally and physically along the way. I am nowhere near mastering these two things, but it is all a learning process.

Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below. I highly recommend checking out my last Instagram post because I started a new Insta segment called “So you wanna be a writer” where I talk about my writing journey, the opportunities I have found, and how to achieve your idea of success in your life. Give it a read and let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: 4 Podcasts to Spark Your Creativity

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The #StayHome Book Tag! (Original)

Happy Friday!

It has been a while since I’ve created my own book tag, so I thought I would make one based off our new quarantined lives. In no way am I making light of this situation, I just thought it would be fun to create a tag based off the ways we are all feeling and living at the moment. If you would like to do this tag, don’t forget to tag me so I can see your answers!

Now onto the tag.

1. Missing the Outsides – Pick a Book with Nature on the Cover

Chain of Gold (The Last Hours, #1) by Cassandra Clare

I am going to go with a new read for this one, and that is Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare. As you can see, the cover is GORGEOUS with Cordeila Carstairs on the cover and her long, red hair mixed in with red leaves. I specifically chose this book because the leaves remind me of fall which is one of my favourite times of the year!

2.  There’s Nothing to Do! – Pick a Book That is Over 500 Pages

The Last Magician (The Last Magician, #1) by Lisa Maxwell

I am kind of cheating at my own tag, but this book is just so close to being 500 pages that it should count, right? Last week, I finished The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell and LOVED it. However, it is 498 pages. With all the extra content like the author’s note and whatnot, its technically over 500 pages! If I didn’t use this one, I would probably choose another Cassandra Clare book and then this would just be full of Cassandra Clare.

3. Netflix Binge – Pick a Book Series You Want to Read

An Ember in the Ashes Series by Sabaa Tahir (Books 1-3) Discussion ...

I am currently making my way through a re-read of this series, and that is the An Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir. I just…ugh, it is so good. Yesterday, I finished re-reading the first book and plan to dive right into A Torch Against the Night sometime in May. The third book, A Reaper at the Gates, came out last year I believe, and the fourth book, A Sky Beyond the Storm, releases in December of this year. I cannot wait to complete the series and see how it is all wrapped up. However, I need to re-read the series first.

4. Video Call Party – Pick a Book with a Large Cast of Characters

The Toll | Book by Neal Shusterman | Official Publisher Page ...

Recently, I read The Toll by Neal Shusterman which is the final book in the Scythe trilogy. It is interesting because there is so many POVs we get to hear from, some who are actual main characters like Citra, Rowan, Scythe Faraday, etc but also a lot who are random people. It really brings the world alive because we get to see snippets of the lives of characters who do so little as pass by our main characters. However, in The Toll, we do get quite a few new main characters; expanding the already big cast of characters. While I didn’t have a super strong connection to one specific character, I did really like most of them.

5. Self-Care Time – Pick a Book That is Your Guilty Pleasure

Best Sarah Dessen Books | POPSUGAR Entertainment

I don’t have one specific book for this, but I have a soft spot for any Sarah Dessen book. Yes, the books are so repetitive and basically have the same type of main character, but I read a lot of her contemporaries in my early high school years when I really needed them. A lot of Sarah Dessen’s books feature characters who have a hard time fitting in and finding their own group of people, and that was really important for me to read.

6. New Routine – Pick a New Release You Haven’t Read, But Want To

Amazon.com: House of Salt and Sorrows (9781984831927): Craig, Erin ...

This is a book I just got in the mail on Wednesday, and that is House of Salt and Sorrow by Erin A. Craig. This is not a super new book (it came out in August 2019), but I have been dying to read it ever since I heard it was based off the story of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. When I was younger, that was my favourite Barbie movie and yes, I know the fairy tale is MUCH darker, but that is why I am so excited to explore that part of the story. I haven’t heard really anything on Instagram, YouTube, or on another blog about this book, so I am thinking about doing a review on it. Let me know what you think!

7. What is a Sleep Schedule Even? – Pick a Book that Kept You Up ALL Night

Chain of Gold (The Last Hours, #1) by Cassandra Clare

Over the last year or so, I have transitioned from a night reader to a morning reader (because I am grandma now who cannot stay up past 11 pm). However, the last book that kept me reading until 1 am was Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare. I swear, Cassandra Clare books are the only books that have kept me up in the past too. When Lady Midnight released, I read it in like two days and stayed up all night reading it. They are just so addicting and entertaining that you do not want to put down. I highly recommend Chain of Gold because it is definitely Clare’s best work (along with The Dark Artifices trilogy). Luckily, you only have to read The Infernal Devices trilogy before diving into Chain of Gold, since it does follow the characters’ children.

8. Only Essentials Please! – Pick 3 “Essential” Books From Your Shelf

This was SO hard but I brought this on myself. My three essential books Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (because I love the story and characters, but also because its long!), The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (the atmosphere and characters are to die for), and An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (I think I’ve talked about my love for it enough for you to understand why). These books just hold special places in my heart, along with having stories and characters I adore.

 

Well, there it is! My latest original book tag. I would love if you participated and gave it a try because it is a great way to stay connected with the book community. Since this is #StayHome theme, I thought I would use my blog to shout out some ways to help businesses and people who are less fortunate during the COVID-19 pandemic. Don’t feel obligated to donate money if you don’t have the means, but at least check out these awesome organizations!

Save Indie Bookstores (Supports indie bookstores across the U.S. but if you aren’t American, look into supporting your local bookstore!)

Feeding America(Gives to food banks across the U.S.)

Oxfam America (Supplies clean water to people who were struggling even before the pandemic like refugees in camps)

Support Vulnerable Communities (Various Canadian fundraisers to protect vulnerable communities)

Support Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (Various Canadian fundraisers to protect vulnerable communities)

These are just a few of many organizations you can support during these trying times, but there are so many more. I recommend looking at your community and seeing what you can do there too. So far, I’ve only ordered a book from a local bookstore near me, but I definitely want to donate to one of the organizations I listed above. Hopefully, by my next blog post, I can tell you guys which one I decide to give to. Once again, only donate if you can!

Don’t forget to check out my blog post as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: #StayHome Reading Rush Wrap Up

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COVID-19: 5 Ways to Support Books during a Crisis

Happy Friday!

During these trying times, you can feel a little helpless at times. Especially since we are all staying indoors, which is, however, the best way we can help. But there are ways to help out others from the comfort of your own home. Local businesses have had to close which can lead to devastating effects but slowly, they have been adapting to offer their products and services in various ways.

Today, I wanted to share five easy ways to help out authors, bookstores, and the publishing industry when you can’t physically go into a bookstore and buy something. Some of these ways are free while others are not, but overall, they will help keep our favourite authors and bookstores afloat until this is all over.

1. Buy Books Online from Local Bookstores

This is the easiest way to help out authors and bookstores at the same time. Rather than buying your books on Amazon, I recommend ordering them from your local bookstore. I know the ones near me have recently began online orders, something they only occasionally did before. While I have been trying to save money during quarantine, I have decided to treat myself once a week. Since I had a couple projects due this past week, I thought it be nice to buy a book from my favourite local bookstore through their online orders. It was a bit more expensive, but honestly worth it since it will help the bookstore stay open. I ended up buying House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig which I am incredibly excited to dive into!

2. Purchase a Gift Card from a Local Bookstore

This is another great way to support a bookstore, especially if they are not doing online orders. This way, they are still receiving money and when this is over, you can treat yourself to a book from there. I also recommend doing this if you want to buy a book but have no idea which one to choose. Rather than wasting money and going through the process of ordering a book you only kind of want, buy a gift card and buy it later instead.

3. Open Up Your Own Free Little Library

I do not take any credit for this idea because I saw it a lot online and thought it was such a great idea. With libraries and bookstore shut down, it is harder for some people to get access to books. If you have a lot of books you do not want (like me), or even just a few, whether you donate to a nearby free little library or create your own, it would make a huge difference to share them with others.

4. Use Library Apps or Buy E-Books

Most libraries have online apps where you can borrow audiobooks and e-books which can be a great free way to support them and authors, while also keeping up with your reading. If not, you can still buy e-books and audiobooks online. I personally do not like reading e-books, but I do like audiobooks so I have been using my CloudLibrary app (used through my local library) to do so. Currently, I am listening to Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare because it is one of my books for the O.W.Ls Readathon.

5. Discuss Your Current Reads Online

Even now, it is important for books to get exposure. So, if you are reading a book that you like, share some of your thoughts about it on Instagram, Twitter, or on your own blog. It will help others choose what to read next and if you tag the author in your post about it (only do that if you write nice things though!), then it can make their day. Reviewing books is also a great activity to keep you busy. I highly recommend it!

Those are five easy ways to support books and reading during the COVID-19 crisis. I hope these tips were helpful and inspired you to offer support to some of your favourite authors and bookstores. Let me know if you do and how you do it!

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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All Things Camp NaNoWriMo: My Plans, Ideas + Tips

Hellooo

Can you believe it’s already almost March? Aka the month before Camp NaNoWriMo! Me either.

Since it is right around the corner, I decided to make a post discussing all my plans and ideas for Camp NaNo since I actually plan on participating. I finish classes by April 3rd and don’t have exams until the 18th and 24th so if all goes as planned, I will have a lot of time to write.

Anyways, time to discuss all things Camp NaNoWriMo!

So, what am I going to be working on this April?

If you have been following my blog for the past 2 years, you would know that during April 2018, I worked on a novel idea centered around Aztec mythology. Basically, I will be continuing on with that. I am starting fresh though. I’ve changed a lot of things about the story and my approach to it, so I am hoping to just get a solid rough draft that gives me a good idea of how I want to go about it. And hopefully, it sticks.

That is not to say I haven’t been working on it all these years though. I worked on it during Camp NaNo July 2018/summer 2018, and I’ve also worked on short story versions of it since. I love the concept, the world, and the mythology, there are just a lot of possibilities and I’ve had a hard time decided which route I want to take it. However, I am just going to keep working on it until it feels right.

What’s my word count goal?

Like I said, I finish classes in early April and only have two final exams later on in the month. That being said, my goal is going to be 15,000 words. I don’t think it is a good idea for me to write 50,000 words after only writing here and there for the past several months, so I decided to give myself a smaller yet still, significant word count to try and hit.

My tips for Camp NaNoWriMo: Time management, motivation, and ideas

While I haven’t successfully completed NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNo since last year, I’ve still participated in it my fair share of times (and have won a few!) so I thought it would be nice to share some of my tips and tricks for writing all the words.

#1: Set aside time to write

Wow, isn’t this the most basic tip of all?

But in all seriousness, this is a common yet extremely overlooked tip. A lot of the time we plan to write at some point during the day but we don’t slot a certain time to do it. I recommend keeping a certain time in mind when you want to sit down and write. It doesn’t have to be set in stone, for example, if you put aside an hour at night but get a lot of writing done during the day by chance, then congrats! If you want, you can still write in the evening but you got your writing done!

Just having some sort of time period you plan on dedicating to writing, even if it’s not precisely that time, is incredibly important and helpful to your success with writing.

#2: Create a productive atmosphere

If you’re office or room or kitchen or wherever you write, is a mess, tidy it up a little before you begin writing. I’m not saying you should get out your sponge and mop and deep clean the place, but at least clear the space around you. I am very guilty of not doing this and I’ve definitely noticed a difference in my productivity levels, whether I am writing or doing homework, when I take care of the space around me.

#3: Start of your writing session with a warm-up

I used to rave about writing prompts and I still stand by their value! Sometimes I do this when I don’t feel in the mood to write. I will find a prompt on Pinterest that interests me and write a little story for 5-10 minutes inspired by that prompt. It helps to get my creativity flowing and sometimes, aspects of that little story make it into my current project.

Another thing I’ve noticed from doing these warm-up exercises before my writing sessions is I can write for longer periods of time. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t do this every single time I write, but I try to save it for when I feel the most uninspired.

 

Those are my plans, goals, and a few tips for Camp NaNoWriMo this April! I hope you enjoyed and found the tips useful. Let me know if you plan on participating in Camp NaNo and what you are working on because I would love to know!

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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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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