May Wrap-Up + June TBR

Everything I read in May and all the books I plan to read in June!

Happy Wednesday!

I cannot believe it is already that time of the month; the time where I share everything I managed to read (which…was not a lot this time around) and want to read in the next month.

I read only ONE book in May and have been halfway through another for at least three weeks now. I got so caught up with hustling and if you saw the writing update that I posted last Friday (click HERE to read it), you will know I had a very productive May project-wise. Just not reading-wise, which happens! April was such an amazing reading month that a slump was kind of expected. My goal for June is to get back into reading because whenever I don’t read every day, I always feel off and not going to lie, a little guilty!

Anyways, let’s get onto what I read this month and what I want to read in June!

May Wrap-Up

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

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This is the one and the only book I finished during May and it wasn’t the best read, but it was a fast one. I have a whole non-spoiler review on it which you can read if you click HERE, so I won’t say too much about it. However, I will say that I was very excited to read it but it didn’t really meet my expectations. 3.5/5 stars

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Princess: Clare, Cassandra: 9781481456036: Books - Amazon.ca

I haven’t finished this book, but I decided to include it because I am 330 pages in but for whatever reason, even though I was liking it, I just stopped putting in the time to sit down with it. I tried to pick it up multiple times, but I just have not been in the reading mood! There will be no DNFing though because I know that if I don’t finish it, I will feel guilty because it is the last book in the Infernal Devices trilogy.

June TBR

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Princess: Clare, Cassandra: 9781481456036: Books - Amazon.ca

Hopefully, I will finish the last 200 pages or so of this book!

A Touch of Death by Rebecca Crunden

A Touch of Death (The Outlands Pentalogy #1) by Rebecca Crunden

This is a book I received for review purposes, but I am very excited to dive into it because I need some fresh, new reads to propel me back into reading. This is the first book in a dystopian series that takes place a thousand years in the future where humanity lives behind the walls of a totalitarian Kingdom. Stay tuned for my synopsis and review that will come later this month!

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger eBook: King, Stephen: Amazon.ca ...

Lately, I am in the mood to read the books I have never picked up on my shelf, and this is one of those books! I have never read a Stephen King book STILL, except for his book on writing, and I want to finally pick one up. I watched the movie years ago and liked it, so fingers crossed that I enjoy the book too. I know Stephen King has an amazing writing style and I am curious to see if I like it or not.

Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman

Legacy of Kings (Blood of Gods and Royals, #1) by Eleanor Herman

I read this book years ago and remember nothing except that it takes place in Greece and follows multiple POVs, including a young Alexander the Great. I do remember one important plot point, but other than that, my memory of this story is very faint. I own the sequel and have never picked it up so that is the prime motivator for me to re-read Legacy and continue on with the series. I am not sure if there is a third book, but hopefully, if there is, I like the first two enough to continue on!


Those are all the books I read in May and want to read in June, and I hope you enjoyed it! Let me know how productive May was for you and what your upcoming reading plans are because I’d love to know.

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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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 🙂

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5 Tips for Writing Short Stories

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Happy Friday!

Today, I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks for writing short stories. I recently finished writing a novella about a month or so ago, and it reminded me how careful and particular short story writing is. It is hard to know what to cut and how deep to dive into your world and characters.

Hopefully, this blog post can give you some insight into that!

#1: Don’t Fit 100,000 Words Into 2,000

This tip is especially important if you are writing fantasy. I always attempt to write fantasy short stories, which are the hardest to write, and I have to remind myself that I am only focusing on one or two specific incidents/events. Unlike a novel, you do not have to have a huge cast of characters or an in-depth explanation of the world, magic system, and history. Yes, you need to touch on those things in your short story, but they are not the main focus. The main focuses are the plot point of the short story (which can consist of one or two major events) and your main character. Maybe a second character as well.

The point is, you and your reader know and understand that this is a short story. It is not meant to explain everything, nor should it!

#2: You Should Know Everything

Going along with the first tip, just because your reader doesn’t know everything doesn’t mean you don’t. You are the storyteller, the writer, you MUST know every little aspect of your story, its world, the characters, etc for your story to work. Even if you don’t mention it in the story ever, your readers will notice something is off or missing.

Another reason I like to plan out everything, even if it doesn’t make it into the draft, is because if I decide the story could become a longer piece one day, I have most of the info already. Yes, some tweaking and adding to the outline will occur, but this way, you already have a strong foundation for a novel.

#3: Is Your Story Character-Based or Plot-Based?

While it is important to showcase both the plot and characters in every story, most tend to lean to one side more than the other. This is very helpful to determine in short story writing before you jump into drafting because it helps you know what to focus on. That way, in your short amount of time, you use your limited word count to make the characters or the plot shine.

Now, that does not mean you completely push off the one you aren’t as focused on. No, no, no. Both are still crucial elements to the story, but you are just figuring out where your strength and focus should be. You still need to thoughtfully plan on both aspects and showcase them in your story.

#4: Over-Write

I highly recommend over-writing when it comes to short story writing because this will ensure you aren’t leaving any important details out, which can happen in short stories. Personally, I usually write thousands of words over my target word limit (which I don’t always recommend), but it means I have gotten everything I needed to say for that story out onto the page. That way, when it comes to editing, I will read through the story and figure out what are the important and necessary pieces that need to stay.

Over-writing also means that I don’t need to add many more words (if any at all) because I got all the words on the page already.

#5: Editing Will Teach You How to Write Your Next Short Story

While every story is different both writing and editing wise, whenever I edit a short story, it helps me understand what to include and what not to include in my next one. It will show me that I focus on too much meaningless description because oh yes, I am cutting a whole paragraph describing the green hills out of a page…again.

Pay attention when you’re editing. Take note of what you are cutting out and what you find yourself cutting out over and over again. Most likely, these writing habits will transfer into your next short story or novel too. It can help save time and wrist strength!


These are my five short story writing tips and I hope you found them helpful! Let me know what your short story tips are below, or just any writing tips in general so we can help each other out 🙂

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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House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig – Non-Spoiler Book Review

My non-spoiler thoughts and opinions on House of Salt and Sorrow: a dark fantasy inspired by the Brothers Grimm’s story, “The Twelve Dancing Princesses”

Happy Wednesday!

After reading House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig and not hearing too much buzz about it online, I decided to write a non-spoiler review in case it sounds like something you would be interested in picking up.

This is a young adult book inspired by the story of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” and it released in August of 2019. I loved this story when I was younger so I was very intrigued and interested in picking up this book. Here is a quick synopsis of the book in case you have never heard of it:

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House of Salt and Sorrows follows Annaleigh who is one of eleven other sisters, the princesses of the Salann Islands. Once again, she finds herself at a funeral for another one of her sisters and now, only eight remain after the supposed curse that affects her family takes another. 

When Annaleigh becomes swarmed by gruesome, ghostly visions and her sisters begin disappearing to balls in the middle of the night in places unheard of, she begins to wonder if it really is a curse that killed her sisters, or if something dark is at play. She must discover the truth before death takes another one of her sisters, or finally takes her. 

I will not lie, my expectations were fairly high going into this book and while I liked it, it did not live up to my hype. However, I did enjoy my time reading it and had a lot of fun! There were strong aspects of the story and some weak ones as there always are, and I was happy to have a story featuring one of my favourite fairytales.

The first thing I want to comment on is the cover because I think it is GORGEOUS. I love covers with the ocean on them and this is covered in pretty shells and various shades of blue. Definitely worth the purchase to showcase on my shelves! I also love how it has octopi tentacles to allude to the darker elements of the story…very nice touch.

When I skimmed Goodreads reviews of this book, I noted that a few talked about how creepy the story was. Now, I do not get creeped out or spooked often, but they were right, towards the end of the book, the story took a dark twist that I enjoyed. Some parts made my skin crawl and I was pleasantly surprised that a book could still do that to me. This was mostly towards the end, but the whole book does have dark elements that I personally enjoy most. Towards the end of the book was also when the story had me the most interested.

The story was its strongest aspect. While it did fall flat at times, overall, I was curious to see how it ended. This kept me flipping the page and each time, wondering who would be the curse’s next victim and also who was the mastermind behind this all. Once the balls came into place too, I wanted to know more about them. The mystery aspect was what allowed me to hold on during all 400 pages and get through them in only a few days.

Honestly, I did like the world because of the role their gods played in it. I thought it was unique compared to other books and I enjoyed learning about the religion. We didn’t dive too deep into it, however, so I would have liked to see more of that. I also would have enjoyed more description of the world, but the bit that we did get intrigued me.

Sadly, the scenes at the balls failed my expectations. This was what I was most excited for but I felt like the explanation for it at the end of the story was rushed. It was an interesting take though, but if it had more development and thought put into it, it would have greatly benefited. Ugh, it is hard describing this without giving away spoilers!

The characters did suffer I think, because of the large cast of them that we followed. Some authors can pull this off, obviously, like Rick Riordan or Cassandra Clare, but in House of Salt and Sorrow, no character really stuck out to me. Annaleigh is our main character and the point of view we follow, and sometimes, I could feel her growing stronger but then some cliche plot point or stereotypical aspect would crush any growth or interest I was developing towards her. The sisters were the same. They were a very large part of the book yet I felt they all blurred together with only a few shining moments here and there. But, most of all, the side characters suffered. I do not even think I can mention any of there names. Even if they appeared multiple times, I honestly felt like most of them could have been cut without any loss to the story.

There was a romance in this book but…honestly, I am not even going to say much about it. All I will say is that I thought the author was going to take it one way, which would have been very refreshing to see, but then she didn’t and I was disappointed because of that.

My biggest complaint about this book was the lack of diversity. I mean, it is 2020! Maybe there was a person of colour in here, but they were not prominent enough for me to notice. The lack of diversity made me feel distant towards the book and since I realized it very early on, I had a hard time looking past that for the whole novel. It really impacted my time with it and I just wish that books published now would include something as realistic and necessary as diversity.

Overall, I would give this book 3/5 stars. It was satisfying enough but there was so much more potential for this story and world that I would have loved to see. I did like the dark mystery and fantasy vibe it had going, but I wanted more!


There is my NON-SPOILER review on House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig. I hope you enjoyed! If you have read it, let me know what your thoughts were in the comments below.

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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Day-in-my-life: Quarantine Edition

An insight into my day-to-day and how I stay sane during the chaos.

Happy Monday!

Personally, I am a huge fan of day-in-the-life posts and vlogs, which is why I am bringing to you my very own day-in-the-life: quarantine edition post. This will take you through a usual day-in-my-life and what I do to keep busy and stay sane.

Let’s get into it!

7:30 am – Wake Up

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When I do not have a lot of projects I am working on, I will let myself stay in bed or sleep in until 8:30, however, for the past week, that has not been the case. I am crazy busy and find that I need to have an early start to the day because that is when I am most productive.

I go on my phone (bad habit, I know) for about 30 minutes and then get up to make some coffee. After I brewed a nice BIG cup, I will head back to my bedroom (aka my office), open my windows and sit down with my current read for about an hour. Lately, I have been a little distracted in the mornings, but regardless, I sit down with a book until 9 am.

9:00 am – Planning My Day

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Sometimes I plan my day the night before, but lately, I have switched it up and plan in the morning instead. I write my to-do list in my bullet journal and respond to some emails. I also set up my work area, get some water and just ready myself for a productive next two and a half to three hours.

It is nice to take advantage of my newfound free time during quarantine because before, I did not have the luxury of working on my own projects in the mornings because I would be at school. Now, I have 9 am – 12 pm to dedicate to my writing which is great.

9:30 am – Time to Work

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I did try starting my workday at 9 am, but I realized I wanted some more time in the morning for myself so I start at 9:30 am instead. If it is a day I have a blog post going up (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), I will begin with that. I write my posts the day they go up, edit them, and then get images, hashtags, and other behind-the-scenes things in place. Once that is done (usually around 10:30 am, depending on the post), I will schedule it to go up at 12 pm PST. Once I finish, I usually make some breakfast.

If I do not have a blog post scheduled for that day, I will begin my day with whatever writing-related projects I have on the go. Or, I will get to work on them after finishing up all my blog-related tasks. Usually, that is writing my own writing projects like right now I am working on turning my Aztec novella into a novel. I try to write 1,000 words a day but currently, I am a bit behind schedule. I am not beating myself up too much though because I have a lot of projects on the go and as long as I am contributing to it every week, I consider that a win. Another writing project I do often is write my articles for Flanelle Magazine because I am a writer there. You can check out my latest post on their website, “COVID-19: How is the entertainment industry adapting?” by clicking RIGHT HERE.

Lately, I have had a lot of paid projects on the go too. In March, I was editing a client’s biography and now I am re-typing someone’s novel which I can’t say too much more about. It is fun integrating these into my morning writing-related routine. It helps to keep things fresh and motivates me to get more done in the mornings.

12:00 pm – Workout

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I am always working until the very last minute, sometimes even writing close to 12:30 pm but I try really hard not to do that and cut myself off at 12:10 pm so I can get my body moving for the first time that day. Luckily, I have gotten into a pretty good workout routine. I workout 5-6 times a week and alternate my routine every day so I don’t get bored of it.

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I do a harder and longer workout. I typically spin for 20-30 minutes, spend 15-20 minutes on my arms or legs (depending what week it is), and then do two or so ab workouts by following a video online (usually one on Chloe Ting’s YouTube channel).

On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, I cut this routine in half and only spend around 25-30 minutes on my workout.

I know this is weird, but I love watching YouTube videos when I spin or use my rowing machine. Usually, day-in-the-life’s. It just motivates me to be productive during and after my workout, and it allows me to catch up on YouTube videos without taking time out of my workday.

Multitasking at it’s finest, I say.

1:30 pm – Lunch, Shower & Finally Get Ready for the Day

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I like to give myself a generous break in the early afternoon and will take until 3:00 pm to eat, get ready, and relax before jumping into more work. It varies what I will do but some common things are taking a walk, reading, watching Netflix, or yes, watching more YouTube videos.

It is important to take a break!

Although, if I have any calls or video chats I need to do, I will try and schedule them between 2 pm and 3 pm so my break gets cut a little short.

3:00 pm – Course Work

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If you didn’t know, I paid for a full-year membership on Coursera to explore courses that my university does not offer like digital marketing, graphic design, social media marketing, etc, etc. So far, I have been really enjoying it.

Right now, I am taking The Strategy of Content Marketing, Personal Branding, Digital Media & Marketing Strategies, and Marketing in a Digital World. I alternate which days I work on them because again, it helps things not to feel stale. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are for Digital Media and Marketing in a Digital World because those are my most heavy courses. And then Tuesdays and Thursdays are for the other courses which tend to be a little less intensive.

Rarely do I have to do a little extra after 6 pm or on Saturday because I try really hard to give myself the evenings and Saturday off! However, sometimes I save a small assignment or quiz that I save for t hen.

6:00 pm – Dinner, Socialize & Relax

Finally, we have reached the end of my workday!  Here is a list of what I spend my time doing from 6 pm to when I go to bed at 11:00 pm:

  • Eat dinner with my family
  • FaceTime my boyfriend and friends
  • Take a bath and read
  • Watch Netflix
  • Organize my room
  • Play video games
  • Bullet journaling

The weather has been so nice the last few days and we recently hung up our porch lights so I have been spending some evenings out there, reading or just listening to music too.

 

On Sundays, it is a bit different because I work from 11am – 5pm and then work on Coursera tasks for a few hours in the evening. Not too many writing-related tasks get done though.


There you have it! That is a day-in-my-life: quarantine edition and I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know in the comments what a typical day in your life looks like because I’d 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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April Favourites: Books, Movies, Music + More

A guide to everything I loved during April 2020.

Happy Wednesday!

Today, I am here to bring you a list of all my April favourites: everything from books to TV shows to music. Just the things that I have been loving.

These favourites are all new discoveries for me (except for one, but I think you can figure out which one it is), and are things I just want to praise and discuss with you all. Let me know if you have read, watched, or listened to any of these so we can discuss them in the comments below!

Books

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

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

I have raved a lot about this book but I am going to rave about it again right now. The Last Magician takes place in New York during the 1920s. We follow Esta, a girl from the present who travels back in time to find a lost book that could set magicians free from New York by breaking the curse that keeps them trapped there. The story itself is entertaining enough, but what comes alive for me is the characters and their relationships. I love books with morally gray characters and this book is filled with them. I have mentioned before that this book took me about one hundred pages to really get into, but once you get past the intro, the story just flies.

I highly recommend this book if you enjoy books like Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo because of the similar heist plotline, and The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater because of the great cast of characters.

The Toll by Neal Shusterman

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

As the final novel in the Arc of a Scythe trilogy by Neal Shusterman, I was not surprised that this became a favourite for the month. Would I say it is my favourite novel of the three in the series? No, I honestly think the first one remains my personal favourite of the three. However, I did really, really enjoy The Toll and just flew through it despite its 600+ page count. I think the reason I liked this book so much is because of the twists and turns the plot took, especially the ending. It caught me so off-guard and I love when stories do that because it is not often they achieve that for me anymore.

If you didn’t know, the first book in this series, Scythe, takes place in a dystopian world where humans have conquered everything from disease to death. To keep the population in balance, there are people called scythes who kill a certain quota of people at random each year. Our main characters, Citra and Rowan are chosen as scythe apprentices to a well-known scythe called Scythe Farady, but they realize that a life of killing may not be one they want to live.

TV Shows/Movies

Elite

Netflix's 'Elite' Review: 7 Moments You Didn't Appreciate at the ...

Oh my god. This TV show is SO addicting and if you like high school dramas intertwined with a murder-mystery, I highly recommend this show. It is in Spanish, but the English dubbed version is so well-done that it doesn’t take you out of the story at all. However, I am hoping that once I get better at my Spanish, I will be able to watch the original version and have some sense of what is going on.

In the first season, we follow a pretty big cast of characters who attend this preppy private school. Three of these characters are new to the school and are “scholarship” kids who are invited to attend after a terrible accident occurred at their last school. Soon after they arrive, a murder takes place at the school. Everyone turns to the scholarship students but the truth is a messy and winding road. Season one is all about finding out who died, what happened, and who did it. When I tell you that you will get sucked in, I MEAN it!

Stuck in Love

Amazon.com: Stuck in Love by Millennium by Josh Boone: Movies & TV

I know this is from 2013 but I didn’t watch this movie fully until this past month, which is crazy because Lily Collins AND Logan Lerman both star in this movie. To be honest, I am a sucker for romcoms or really any romantic movie. Especially the ones that follow multiple characters and storylines that eventually connect. How I randomly came to watching this movie is because I wanted some feel-good movies and stumbled across Crazy Stupid Love. I liked that movie but then I got recommended Stuck in Love and I was like, “Oh, I’ve heard of this. Let’s watch it now.” And I just ended up liking it even more. It is charming and entertaining enough. By no means does it come in contest with Love, Rosie which might be my favourite romantic movie of all time, but it was what I wanted at the moment. Hence, it makes the list.

I think it is better to go into this movie without a clear idea of what it is about so I am just going to leave it at that!

Music

Hamilton

Hamilton (musical) - Wikipedia

Obviously, I listened to the Hamilton soundtrack back in 2016, but I started listening to it again last month and was reminded of how much I love it. And also how excited I am for the film version to be released next year! Listening to these songs puts me in the best mood and just talking about it now makes me want to listen to it…so I think I am going to go put that on right now.

Radio by Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey – Radio Lyrics | Genius Lyrics

To be honest, this is the first Lana Del Rey song I have listened to in full which yes, it is crazy, I know. I was making a playlist on Spotify called “Like a Movie” and this song popped up. This is the sort of song that you play driving down the street at night. It is haunting and slow but so, so good. It was definitely a perfect match for the playlist I added it to.

Forever by CHVRCHES

CHVRCHES – Forever Lyrics | Genius Lyrics

I found this song because of the TV show, Elite. It plays in quite a few episodes but I was really sold on it while watching the final episode of the third season. It plays while they are at their graduation party and it is just a fun, upbeat song. It reminds me of something that would come out in the early 2010s and that I would be obsessed with. It just gives me that nostalgic feeling that I love.


Those are my April favourites and I hope you enjoyed! I haven’t done a favourites post for a while, but I think I will do them every so often because I really enjoy looking back on a month and remembering everything that made me happy. Let me know what some of your April favourites were!

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

Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: 5 Ways to stay productive during quarantine

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5 Ways to stay productive during quarantine

5 easy ways to ensure productivity and motivation while stuck at home.

Happy Monday!

Today, I am bringing you my top 5 ways to stay productive (and sane) during quarantine. These are simple things you can do to infuse in your everyday routine and are activities that I have found very helpful.

I know the online world is exploding with content like this, but I do think it is really helpful. Seeing YouTubers and bloggers posting their “Quarantine Day-in-the-life” and “how to stay motivated” videos and posts remind us all that we are in this together. Also, sometimes we need a reminder of how to stay productive and upbeat during these trying times. Which is what I am hoping to do today!

1. Be Creative Every Day

amwriting.jpg

If you didn’t know, I am a writer at Flanelle Magazine (which you can check out if you click HERE) and a month or so ago, I wrote a blog post called “COVID-19: The importance of keeping art alive in quarantine” and it highlights WHY we need to stay creative and artistic during this time. If you want to read it (which I recommend you do!), you can find the link to it right HERE. It will help you understand why you should be creative every day, and then the rest of this post will show you HOW you exactly you can do that.

Anyways, enough of the shameless self-promo!

First off, when I think of creativity and “being creative,” I think of the act of creating things. So, that is what I mean when I say be creative every day…create things daily. This will boost your mood and keep you busy. Whether it is writing for 30 minutes in the morning or unwinding at night by following a Bob Ross painting tutorial, include something creative into your everyday routine (which means it is important to HAVE a daily routine, but I am sure you’ve heard that from enough people…but make one!).

Some other creative things you can do are:

  • Write in a journal
  • Re-decorate your room
  • Collage
  • Sew and re-vamp your wardrobe
  • Learn how to draw
  • Create a bullet journal
  • Start a YouTube channel, blog, Instagram account, etc
  • Garden or grow things on your window sill

2. Become Friends with Time Blocking

I found it hard to utilize time blocking while in school and living my normal, not quarantined life, but while being stuck at home, I have found this tactic so helpful.

What is time blocking?

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Time blocking is when you dedicate chunks of time throughout the day to a specific task. For example, I have been dedicated 10 am – 12 pm to work on writing-related tasks. This includes my creative writing and writing blog posts. That way, it is done for the rest of the day and I can focus on the other things I need to get done. 12 pm – 1 pm is dedicated to working out, and then 3 pm – 6 pm is for my Coursera or school-related work.

Using this productivity method makes sure you are staying busy. You can go into the day knowing what you are doing which I find crucial with everything so up in the air nowadays.

Don’t forget to time block breaks too! Time blocking is important to ensure productivity, but every productive block requires a break too. For example, I take from 1 pm (or whenever I finish my workout) until 3 pm to do whatever. Sometimes, I will read, watch Netflix or play Fallout 4. But that time is my afternoon break time and it is incredibly important because it refuels my energy and allows me to stay motivated for the rest of the day.

3. Do Something New and Different Every Day

This is a tip you can combine with being creative every day because that new activity you want to try could be learning how to draw or starting a window sill garden. Or whatever other creative tasks you want to tackle.

While I enjoy having a strict routine right now, I have found that the days just blend together. Including something new and different every day keeps them as exciting and refreshing as they can be. It seems small, but it really does make a difference.

Some new and different things you can try:

  • Start a New Course (I have been loving Coursera for this, and guess what! You can audit most of their courses for FREE)
  • Learn a language
  • Pick up a new hobby like gardening, knitting, or baking
  • If you can go outside, find a new hiking trail (but don’t forget to social distance!)
  • Switch up your morning or night routine
    • Let yourself sleep in later or start reading in the mornings
    • Or at night, start taking take a bath before bed or watching an episode of a TV show

4. Develop a Reward System

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Sometimes, we are too hard on ourselves for not being “productive enough.” I know I am. Even if it is a Saturday, a day I should and want to spend relaxing, I cannot help but feel anxious about not working on my Coursera work or writing. It ends up ruining my whole day and I have been working on finding out how to combat this. I realized developing a rewards system is a method that has positive results for me. It also gives me more energy for that week and the weeks to come. A rewards system increases my productivity if anything. 

I am very good at keeping myself busy, and I would keep myself on a go-go-go schedule for the entire week (including the weekends) but I know that is not healthy. We all need a break and guess what? We are allowed a break too! What I found works best for me is still being a little bit productive on my days off. This just means I have to take breaks and reward myself more during the week so I do not feel like I am overworking myself.

An example I can give is how I reward myself after a writing session. To avoid creative burnout, I have begun giving myself a 30-minute break to do whatever I want after every successful writing session (which means I write 1,000 words). This is on top of my 1:30ish pm – 3 pm break. However, the one guideline I gave myself for it is that I cannot take my break after 6 pm because I am usually relaxing during that time anyway.

Now, I am doing this rewards system for every task on my to-do list that I complete (unless it is something simple like doing the laundry, but I think you understand that). If I finish my 2 hours of writing-related tasks in the morning, I can take a walk or work on taking some Instagram photos. When I finish an hour of Coursera work, I can watch a TV episode. Sometimes, my days do stretch past 6 pm because of this system, but that is okay because I am taking a lot of breaks during the day which has been helping me to not feel anxious when I do less on Saturdays.

Figure out what works best for you as a rewards system and do that. Maybe you work really hard during the workweek and feel good taking two full days off. Or maybe you like to work every second day, taking breaks on the days in between. Just make sure you are rewarding yourself and taking breaks!

5. Exercise Daily

My motivation to workout always ebbs and flows, and thankfully, it is flowing during quarantine. Maybe it is because we are stuck inside all day, but for the last month, my workouts have been the thing I look forward to every day. So much so, I started working out six days a week instead of five.

When I say workout, that does not mean you have to pull a hardcore one-hour cardio and ab workout every day. Your daily dose of exercise can be a walk around the block (if you can), doing a 10-minute at-home workout, or following a yoga video. Getting your body moving is so important and making sure you do that every day will impact your productivity and motivation for the better. 

Last week, I found the amazing Chloe Ting’s YouTube channel and have been LOVING her videos. They are such a great workout, even better than what I could do myself if the gyms were open. I feel so rejuvenated and awake after doing just one of her 10-minute ab workouts, and yes, very sore, but it is so worth it. I have infused her into my own workout routine, which I had a lot of fun creating when quarantine first started, and it was a fun way to spice it up.

Even if it is not a long workout, it will boost your motivation and energy to continue having a productive day.

 

REMEMBER: It is okay not to be productive every day! Sometimes we have days where our energy is at an all-time low and that is when you know it is time for a break. Don’t feel bad about taking it, even though that can be hard to do. Instead, try to enjoy it!


There they are! My 5 ways to stay productive during quarantine. I really hope this was a helpful post for you guys, and that it inspired you to keep productive and motivated. If it did, let me know what you took away from 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 and stay healthy 🙂

Last Blog Post: April Wrap-Up + May TBR

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April Wrap-Up + May TBR

Check out my April reading wrap-up and May TBR!

Happy Friday and May 1st!

I hope you all had an excellent reading month, because I know I did. April was the OWLs Readathon, as well as the #StayHome Reading Rush, so there was lots of motivation to read all the books.

Today, I will be sharing all seven books I read during April as well as my May TBR because I plan and hope that May will also be a productive month.

The question is, did I complete all the reading challenges for the OWLs Readathon?

Yes! Now, let’s see what I read to do so.

April Wrap-Up:

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Blood and Bone - Wikipedia

I finished reading this on April 1st, after spending all of March trudging through it. I have voiced my opinions on this story before, and how I personally believe this book is very overhyped… This was not for any readathon, but for my children’s literature class and while I am glad I finally read it, I do not plan on continuing on with this series.

The Toll by Neal Shusterman

The Toll (Arc of a Scythe, #3) by Neal Shusterman

This was a book I started at the end of March but since I still had over 400 pages left to read in April, I decided to use it for the OWLs’ “Defence Against the Dark Arts” challenge, which was to read a book that takes place at sea. A majority of this book is spent sailing the ocean and we are even introduced to a captain and their crew, who becomes an important character to the story. This is the third and final book in the Arc of a Scythe trilogy which overall, I really enjoyed! It was a satisfying conclusion and I flew through it despite its size.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Angel (Volume 1): Amazon.ca: Clare, Cassandra: Books

I swapped this book in place of A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas because after reading Chain of Gold, I needed to re-visit the London Institute and Shadowhunter universe. I read this book for the “Transfiguration” challenge, which was to read a book with a shapeshifter. One of the main characters is a shapeshifter so I was very happy I had an excuse to re-read this book. I think the last time I read it was 2016, so I had definitely forgotten a lot that happens in it. My first time reading it, I was not a huge fan but I knew re-visiting it would make me love it…and I did!

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of ...

Since I had 100 pages of this book left to read going into April, I decided a few days ago that I am going to use it for the “Potions” challenge to read a book under 150 pages. This was a nice change from my usual YA fantasy reads because I had never read anything like this book before. I watched the movie first too which really did help me grasp the unusual storyline and characters. While it follows a gonzo journalist, it inspired me to work on my own writing and creative process. Shoutout to my boyfriend who lent me this book!

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

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

While this book took a bit to get into, once I was in, I was in. I read this book for the “History of Magic” challenge, which was to read a book with witch and wizards and while in The Last Magician, they are not exactly called that, they have magical powers so it counts! I loved the atmosphere of this book, which came from the 1920s New York setting and the flawed and morally gray characters. I am super excited to dive into the next book sometime soon, The Devil’s Thief, and continue on with the story. Especially after that ending!

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes - Wikipedia

I will not bore you all with more of my drooling over this book and series because we all know I love it! This was not read for the OWLS readathon, but the #StayHome Reading Rush. I believe the challenge was to read a book with a house on the cover, and this cover has Blackcliff Academy where the students live and sleep so that is basically a house. Right?

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Prince, Book by Cassandra Clare (Paperback) | www ...

The seventh and final book I read this month was the sequel to Clockwork Angel, and once again, I enjoyed it much more than the second time around. I forgot how close two certain characters get and even though I know what happens in the end, it is still killing me! I am guessing that since the last challenge for the OWLS readathon was “Charms”: to read a book with a white cover. I am using this book for it. Clockwork Prince has white lettering on the cover so that counts! I also just really wanted to read it so…

May TBR:

  • House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
  • Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
  • A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

Those are all the books I read in April and plan to read in May. I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to let me know what you read and plan on reading, because I’d love to know.

Make sure you check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts which are linked down below. I have been posting a lot and will be giving more hints as to what my secret project is on them, as well when I can release more info on it. I know I mentioned in one of my previous blog posts that I could announce what it is on May 18th, but that has been pushed back to early or mid-June now. Hopefully, I won’t have to push it back even more!

Anyways, thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: NaNoWriMo…But in May!

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May 2020 Writing Goals

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Happy Monday!

Today, I will be sharing my May 2020 writing goals not only to help boost my motivation and productivity, but hopefully by hearing my goals, you will feel inspired too.

For the most part of quarantine, I have been riding a wave of productivity and motivation. I developed a routine of waking up at 8 am, doing writing-related tasks at 10 am, working out at 12 pm, and then doing school-related things until dinner. It has kept me busy and allows me to get a lot of things I want to get done, done.

However, there has been a few bumps along the way and currently, I have hit one of them. Friday and Saturday are my more relaxing days, but after having a go-go-go routine for five straight days, suddenly doing nothing takes a hit on me. I was overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety and being uninspired. It was discouraging, but remembering that I do need to go outside really helped, along with looking at my goals for May. Seeing that list in my bullet journal really reminded myself of all the fun writing and reading related things I want to achieve next month, and this sparked that motivation inside of me. While it is not back to the strength it was before, I am pushing forward regardless. I am also telling myself that it is okay to not always feel productive and inspired!

Anyways, to get back into the groove of things, I think sharing with you all my writing goals is a good place to start.

  • Write 1,000 words for “The Obsidian Butterfly” every day

I don’t know if I have shared this, but my Aztec novella I wrote during March 2020 is titled “The Obsidian Butterfly.” For whatever reason, coming up with a title for this story was not an easy task. I had to edit my story four times before I was like, “Ah yes, this is it.” During May, I want to add to this novella and make it into a novel. So, by writing 1,000 words every day (which is a very manageable daily task), I will tack on 31,000 words and that will bring me to a grand total of 51,000 words by the end of the month. I guess you can say I am hosting my own Mayorimo!

  • Write 2 Flanelle Articles

If you didn’t know, as of March 2020, I am a writer for Flanelle Magazine which is a fashion, design, photography, and culture magazine that posts online and in physical formats too. Last month, I only had time to contribute one article, but this coming month I want to get two articles written and published. I have a lot of fun writing lifestyle and film articles, and also practicing the art of article/non-fiction writing. I want to make sure that while I have more free time, I am devoting a reasonable amount of it to the magazine.

  • Post 3 Blog Posts Per Week

I have been proud of myself for keeping up with posting twice a week, however, now that I have finished school, why not up it to three posts every week? I have decided to post on Wednesdays too, along with Mondays and Fridays at 12 pm PST. Back in the day, I use to post five days a week so I know I can keep up with three for at least the summer.

  • Work On Secret Project Marketing Plan

Oooh, a secret project? No, this is not a new writing project like a short story or novel, but I will give you a clue. It is a business I have been contemplating for a while, and now that quarantine has become a thing, I have decided to take it as an opportunity to use my newfound time to plan and create this project. I am super excited to announce it and that announcement will come soon…May 18th to be exact so keep an eye out for that!


Those are my four writing-related goals for the month of May. I hope hearing about mine brought some inspiration and motivation to your life, and if it did, share with me what your goals are because I would love to know!

If you read my last post, I mentioned some charities that are in need of donations and support during this crisis, and I said I would tell you guys where I decided to donate to in my next post (aka this post!). After some researching and thinking, I decided to donate to an organization in my community, and that is the Shelbourne Community Kitchen which understandably, has experienced a heightened demand for food during these troubled times. Due to COVID-19, the kitchen is feeding twice a month instead of once and also doing home deliveries. I think it is a great organization, and I really wanted to put my money towards my own community. It felt really good to do a little something when at times, like everyone else, I feel a little hopeless.

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

Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: The #StayHome Book Tag! (Original)

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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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