It Begins With the Book by Zoe Mathers

It begins with the book.

You started reading it the week before school. Your very first week of university. You made it to page seventy-two and are already both knees deep in the world and best friends with the characters. The night before school starts you read twenty more pages before placing it on the nightstand next to your bed and turning out the light.

The first day of school is a blur of racing from concrete building to concrete building and trying to remember that the concrete building with the blue door is where you history class is. The concrete building with the orange door is where your philosophy class is. After hearing the drone of your philosophy prof’s voice though, you hope you forget that your philosophy class is in the concrete building with the orange door and discover the coffee shop next to it instead.

The first day of school is a blur of faces. Some stick out more than the rest. Mostly the ones with bright smiles and who said hello to you first. You meet Michael. Michael is also a first year in history. He has floppy dark curls and a big grin that makes you smile back even though you’re so nervous your knees are bouncing. Michael makes you forget that your book is in your bag, the one you were going to read before class started and the one you read twenty pages of last night. He is the reason you forget to pick it up when you’re sitting on the grass during your fifty minute break. Instead, you stare out at the trees and the students walking by. The ones that dart past like bees narrowing in on a flower are all visibly first years. Their shoes are shiny, their coats aren’t missing any of their buttons, and their faces are slathered in makeup. The second, third, and fourth years all languidly stroll past you.

A lot of them have cracked, leather satchels and glasses sliding down the bridge of their nose.

That night you sit in bed on your phone. The book is still in your bag and the bookmark is still stuck between pages seventy-one and seventy-two. You found Michael’s Instagram after approximately fifteen minutes of scrolling through boys named Michael with floppy dark curls. He is from somewhere in Vancouver. He has, or had, a lot of friends. Lots of them are pretty, blonde girls all holding cups probably filled with beer or vodka or some other drink that would make your stomach twist. One boy with dark skin and short hair comes up in a lot of Michael’s pictures. Their arms are wrapped around each other. Their cheeks are pressed together.

You guess Michael and you will only ever be friends.

You put your phone down and turn off the light. The book still sits in your bag and it sits in your bag for the next night, and the night after that. Soon, its home becomes the bag.

It begins with the book but it moves on to other things too.

It’s almost October. School is three weeks deep into your life and already, its claws have torn it up into a shredded mess. You are struggling to keep the pieces from flying away. You are chasing and shoving them in your bag where your book still sits. When it fills up, you stuff them under your arms and even in your mouth.

In the second week of school, you lost your soccer ball. You thought you left it underneath the deck of your parents house, where it always is, but when you checked, it vanished. You miss kicking it down the field. You miss the wind against your face, in your hair and cushioning you as you bring the ball to the net.

It begins with the book, but it took your soccer ball too.

You don’t look for your soccer ball again. All the time spent busing to your parents house and then looking for it took away time from your history paper. The five page one on Canadian women in the second World War. It was due at midnight that night and you barely finished it because you spent all that time looking for your soccer ball. When you get your paper back, the mark makes you cringe and think about the soccer ball.

You could just buy a new one, but you don’t.

It’s a couple days into October now. The leaves are brown and their corpses stick to the soles of your shoes. The wind is blocked by your sweater as you hurry home, but you still shiver because you’re always cold now.

There is a bookstore on the walk home from the bus stop. You used to stare in the windows and then go in when you couldn’t hold yourself back. You would browse the shelves slowly and carefully, your eyes not leaving a single book behind. You would sit in the designated reading chair hidden between the young adult and children’s section and devour the first chapter of a book before buying it. Or decide it was bad and choose another.

But now you walk past the bookstore and stare into its empty, dark abyss cradled by the window. It’s closed and your reflected face is the only thing you see.

You walk away.

In your room there is a stack of unread books that you made for yourself at the beginning of the year. Before school started. You had plans to get through that stack of five books before the end of the semester. Your bookmark is still wedged between page seventy-one and seventy-two in the book that is still hiding in your bag and has been since the first day.

There is a brand new soccer ball that sits in the shadows underneath your bed. Your uncle got it for you because the reason you couldn’t find your ball is because his dog chewed it up. You haven’t touched it or even taken off the wrapping.

When you get home, you either pull out your laptop and binge YouTube or go over your lecture notes on Canadian history, or you just sit there. You sit there and think about things that don’t mean anything. You think about Michael who you haven’t spoken to since the second day of school when you sat next to him but he was already talking to the boy with sandy hair and glasses. You think about all the parties on campus you missed because you were nose deep in a book. Not your books, but the books they make you read for school. The ones where when you open them and the words seem to run together into blots of ink that make absolutely no sense. You think about your kind-of-friends. The ones who you see on only on Friday nights. Even then, all you guys do is sit around, drink beer (which doesn’t make your stomach twist anymore) and watch “Friends”. Occasionally you all laugh at something or complain about homework. Usually the only talking between friends is the conversations of the two-dimensional ones on the TV.

And then finally, you think about the book you still haven’t finished. The one lying in your bag. The part you read was good. You wanted to know what would happen next. You still do.

You pull your bag into your lap and yank it out. A corner is creased and the cover feels a little damp.

You peel open the first page and then to where your bookmark is. You read the first word and then the second word. Soon you’re done the page and you’re sprawled out on your bed. The world in the story rises up around you and devours you without warning. But you don’t mind. The characters reach out for you, hands grabbing yours before pulling you in headfirst. But you wanted them to.

You are pretty sure you had an assignment due about an hour ago, but you don’t care. The book is better. The story brings you back alive as if you’ve been Frankensteined after years of being dead. Something flickers inside of you. It’s warm and faint, but as the pages fly by it grows hotter and brighter.

It begins with the book and then the soccer ball.

It took them both from you. It took the things that lit your spirit with brilliant colour but now you have enlightened the cold, empty space it left behind.

You need this book.

You need this soccer ball.

You were lost without the things that gave you life. You lost your way along the walkway with a dozen different paths all heading into a grey haze. You lost your way among the anxious crowd of other students all stumbling in every direction. You aren’t sure which ones to follow. You aren’t sure who knows where they are going. It takes you a while to realize that no one knows that yet.

But finally, a light has flickered in the distance.

 

Well, that was my random short story that kind of sums up the basic idea of what I have been feeling lately…It has been a struggle trying to find myself again and reconnect with the things that I love to do and make me, well, me. Without them, I’ve felt a little lost but I am slowly reconnecting with them again.

I hope you enjoyed, and 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: Am I Participating in NaNoWriMo?

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Using Philosophy To Become a Better Writer

Image result for philosophy

After an existentialism unit in my English class, I have had a sudden interest in learning about philosophy and what exactly that means. And it is a lot, let me tell you. Philosophy consists of so, so, so many schools of thoughts that it is really hard to keep track, and honestly, maybe impossible to learn them all in depth. Unless this is what you choose to devote your life to, but even then, there is a lot to learn. Anyways, I’m by no means an expert or even an intermediate honestly, but I want to share with you all how I use what I’ve learned about philosophy to become a better, stronger writer. I hope you enjoy!

What IS Philosophy Exactly?

A Wikipedia definition says that philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. It involves thinking, discussion, rational argument, and questioning. Philosophy is basically the study of human life; how we think, act, etc, and why we do all that.

What Are Philosophical Schools of Thought?

A school of thought is a way of thinking, and in philosophy, there are a lot because humans cannot agree on just one way of thinking, let alone 10 or even 50. I’m only going to list 5 so you can get an idea of what I mean by “philosophical schools of thought”, but in this blog post, I’m probably only going to mention 3 or so later on.

  • Existentialism – A school of thought that emphasizes personal freedom
  • Nihilism – A school of thought that rejects religious and moral principles
  • Marxism – A school of thought based on the political and economic theories of Karl Marx, later associates itself with communism
  • Taoism – A school of thought that emphasizes living in harmony with the Tao, which means way or path
  • Stoicism – A school of thought that accepts the ways of the world whether they are positive or negative

How Can Philosophy Make Your Writing Better?

Having your story or one of your characters aligned with a philosophical school of thought, or just being aware of philosophy can increase the depth and physicality of your writing. Just because your incorporating philosophy doesn’t mean your story can’t still be a YA contemporary or even a fantasy, it just means you are increasing the quality of your story, character, and world.

Examples:

  • One of your characters is an existentialist. This allows you to explore how they interact with society, how society interacts with them, and how their beliefs affect the plot
  • The society of your world is a nihilistic society. First off, this would be terrifying but SO interesting to read about because how do the people who don’t believe in this school of thought live? How do people who disagree with nihilism keep their morality? How do those who follow nihilism live?
  • What would it look like to follow a character who enjoys studying philosophy? Does this allow them to make better decisions?

I know this was short, but I really wanted this to just plant the idea of exploring philosophy in your writing. It really does make for interesting stories and characters because we don’t see philosophy explored too often in modern literature, especially YA! Here are some resources to learn about philosophy:

Crash Course: Philosophy – This is put on by two authors, Hank, and John Green and they were SUPER helpful in teaching the basics of philosophy and other areas of it. I definitely recommend checking out this playlist, or at least a few of the videos on it to see if philosophy interests you.

The Outsider by Albert Camus – This is a novel that focuses on an existentialism character named Meursault, who after committing an immoral crime and fails to feel remorse for it, is cast as an outsider by society. It is a really interesting character study, and I learned so much about writing and writing characters from it.

That is it for this blog post, but I hope it was useful and eye-opening for you! 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: Beginner’s Guide to: Greek Mythology

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Beginner’s Guide to: Greek Mythology

As a huge nerd about Greek mythology, I thought it would be helpful to make a quick and easy guide for some of you who might not know as much about it all but want to! Being a writer, it is essential to learn about different cultures and their stories. Not only is it interesting, but also the possible inspiration for a new story. So, here is a simple beginner’s guide to Greek mythology. I hope it is helpful and that you learn something new from it!

The  13 Main Goddesses & Gods

Image result for the major gods and goddess greece

Zeus – God of the sky and thunder, ruler of the sky and all people (including gods!), son of Rhea and Cronus/Kronos, children:  Apollo, Artemis, Athena, Hephaestus, Dionysus, Ares, Hermes, Heracles/Hercules, Helen of Troy, and many, MANY more, married to Hera, symbols: lightning bolt, royal scepter, Aegis (his shield with a gorgon’s face on it)

Hera – Goddess of marriage and birth, queen of the Gods and humans, queen of the heavens, married to Zeus, jealous and vengeful of Zeus’s many lovers, daughter of Rhea and Cronos, only had children with Zeus, children: Ares, Hebe, Hephaestus, and more, symbols: diadem, scepter, pomegranate

Poseidon – God of the sea, horses, and earthquakes, ruler of the sea, second son of Rhea and Cronus/Kronos, children: Theseus, Triton, Polyphemus, Orion, and many more…, symbols: trident, fish, dolphins, and horses

Hades – God of the dead, the underworld, riches, ruler of the underworld, first son of Rhea and Cronus/Kronos, children: Melinoe, Macaria, and Zagreus, married to Persephone (daughter of Demeter) who he kidnapped, symbols: Cerberus (his 3 headed dogs), scepter, drinking horn

Athena – Goddess of wisdom, battle strategy, strength, and skill, sprung from Zeus’s head in full armor, helped many Greek heroes, a virgin goddess, city of Athens named after her after she gave the people the first olive tree, symbols: owls, olive tree, snakes, armor, and spears

Aphrodite – Goddess of love and beauty, born from the foam the sea of Paphos after Cronus’s cut up pieces were thrown in but another birth story is she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione, married to Hephaestus, children: Eros, The Graces, Aeneas, and more, symbols: dolphins, rose, dove, swan

Artemis – Goddess of the hunt and the moon, daughter of Leto and Zeus, twin sister of Zeus, virgin goddess, spends her time roaming the forest with nymphs, symbols: bow and arrows, stags, hunting dog, and the moon

Apollo – God of the sun, music, and prophecy, twin brother of Artemis, son of Leto and Zeus, children: Orpheus, Asclepius, and a few others, companion of the nine Muses, symbols: lyre, laurel wreath, and bow and arrows

Ares – God of war, bad aspects of war, son of Zeus and Hera, lover of Aphrodite, children: Eros, Harmonia, Phobos, and more, symbols: spear and helmet, dog, chariot, and boar

Dionysus – God of wine, winemaking, and madness, son of Zeus and Semele (princess of Thebes), benevolent towards humans unlike many gods, symbols: grapevine, leopard skin, cheetah, panther

Demeter – Goddess of agriculture and the harvest, daughter of Rhea and Cronos, mother of Persephone (goddess of flowers), associated with the torch because of her endless fight for her daughter who was kidnapped by Hades and now splits her time between the mortal world and the underworld in compromise, children: Persephone, Arion, Plutus, and more, symbols: cornucopia, wheat, torch, and bread

Hephaestus – God of fire, metalworking, and forges, son of Hera and Zeus, depicted as the “ugly god” after being thrown down a mountain by Hera, husband of Aphrodite, children: Thalia, Eucleia, and more, symbols: hammer and tongs

Hermes – God of thieves, roads, travelers, and trade, son of Zeus and Maia, the messenger of the gods, the only person allowed to leave the underworld without consequence, children: Pan (a satyr; half-man and half-goat), and more, symbols: lyre, rooster, Caduceus (staff with snakes around it; medical symbol)

Myths & Legends

Heracles and the 12 Labours

Image result for hercules and the 12 labours

After Hera drove Hercules to madness, resulting him in killing his wife, Megara, and their children, Hercules seeks out the Oracle of Delphi for redemption and is told to serve King Eurystheus to do so. This resulted in him setting out to complete 12 labours to redeem his actions, and they are:

  • To kill the Nemean Lion
  • To kill the Hydra
  • Capture the Ceryneian Hind
  • Capture the Erymanthian Boar
  • Clear the stables of Augeas in one day
  • Kill the Stymphalian Birds
  • Capture the Cretan Bull
  • Steal the Mares of Diomedes
  • Steal the girdle of the Amazonian queen
  • Steal the cattle of Geryon
  • Steal the apples of Hesperides
  • Capture and bring back Cerberus from the underworld

Perseus & Medusa

Image result for perseus and medusa

Medusa, one of the three Gorgons, was once beautiful but after being caught at Athena’s alter with Poseidon, she was cursed with snakes for hair and the ability to turn anyone who looks at her to stone. Perseus dared to end her though, asking Athena and Hermes for help. In return, he received winged sandals, a cap to make him invisible, a sword, and a mirrored shield to see her reflection in. Perseus won in a battle against the well, against the sleeping gorgon, and the droplets of blood from her decapitated head created Pegasus, a winged horse, and Chrysaor, a giant, winged boar. Perseus than fled back home, using Medusa’s head as a weapon on many occasions, turning anyone who dared to defy him to stone. Eventually, it was placed on Athena’s shield called Aegis.

That is all for my beginner’s guide to Greek mythology, and I hope this was all helpful! Or at least, I hope it was enough to encourage you to research all the gods and goddesses and legends a little bit more. 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: Reading + Writing Update

 

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Sources Used:

https://www.greekmythology.com/

https://greekgodsandgoddesses.net/

 

Reading + Writing Update!

Hellooo. I swear it has been 84 years since I have done a reading + writing update and I almost forgot to do one before the night was done but then while watching a reading vlog on YouTube I was like “YOU ALMOST FORGOT AGAIN!”. So, here I am, lying on my bed with my laptop in front of me, ready to update you all on what I read and wrote this past week. And spoiler alert, it was a pretty productive week.

This week, I finished two books and started another. That is pretty good for my reading habits lately, but considering I ended up having to go to school ONLY on Thursday (we got 3 snow days and already had Friday off…), I could have gotten a LOT more done. The first book I finished reading was one I started last Saturday I think, and that is Notes From a Feminist Killjoy: Essays on Everyday Life by Erin Wunker. This is a creative non-fiction book that is essentially a collection of essays about being a feminist in this patriarchal world we live in. There were three main chunks in it though, one focusing on rape culture, the other on friendship as feminists, and lastly, being a mother and feminist. I read this for my creative non-fiction assignment in my writing class, and found it really interesting and refreshing! I enjoyed it, but there was something that just kept me from really loving it though. Still, I liked it. Next, I finally, FINALLY finished reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and I am so proud of myself. I’ve been reading this book for a month, but yesterday, I finally read the last 50 pages. It’s not that I didn’t like this book, in fact, I really liked it, but it is so different from what I usually read, and much more dense that it took me a while to pick through. I’m glad I can finally check this classic off my list though, and I am even more excited to continue exploring Austen’s work. Next stop is Northanger Abbey! So, those are the 2 books I finished reading this week, but then I also decided to reward myself with one of my favourite books; To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. I was, and am since I’m still reading it, just in desperate need of a fun and warm-hearted contemporary so of course, I turned to my fave. Since I am already 150 pages into it, I’m sure I’ll be able to finish it in the next day or two! While I’m not 100% sure what I am reading next, I did pick up A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro randomly from the library, so maybe I will dive into that next.

As for writing, I was surprisingly productive. Since I had quite a few days off this week, I woke up earlier and fit in at least 1,000 words before my workout. It felt so good. According to my sticker method tracker in my planner, I wrote about 7,500 words which is so great since I haven’t been doing a lot of writing lately. I did fall off the waking up early and writing thing these last few days, but I’m hoping to try and make it a routine this coming week. However, I do get Monday off as well, and then once school comes back in full swing, I will see how easy it is to keep to this routine of waking up early and writing before the rest of the day. If I try, I think I can keep it up though.

Anyways, that is all for this reading and writing update, and I hope you enjoyed! 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 🙂

P.S. I have something coming tomorrow that is a liiitle bit different than what I usually post. It’s not really part of my whole re-defining a blog thing…or actually, maybe it is. It just wasn’t what I had in mind but nonetheless, I hope you enjoy it!

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Reading + Writing Update

Happy Sunday!

Sorry for no Friday blog post, my idea fell through but that’s alright because as Queen says, the show must go on! (I’ve been listening to a lot of Queen lately since the movie comes out in 2 weeks! Ah!) Anyways, this was a rough week. I had tests and projects due which means yes, the nights before were spent scrambling to finish them rather than read. However, surprisingly reading and writing got done this week so let’s discuss that!

Last Sunday I started listening to the audiobook for Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier and I absolutely just flew through it, as expected. Despite all the other books I need to get finished, I will probably start listening to the second book, Sapphire Blue on Monday but I am going to try to focus on finishing the City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare audiobook since I have been listening to it for a while. I have also been making my way through Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden for my English class, and now only have about 84 pages left of it meaning I read just over 100 pages of it which is great. Once I got halfway through the book, I did start enjoying it a lot more as I finally found a rhythm with the characters and the story, but I am really looking forward to finally finishing it by the end of this coming week. The last book I’ve made progress in this week is The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth. I’m not moving as fast through this re-read as I would like because of other books I need to read at whatnot, but I did manage to read about another 75 pages of it this week. That means I still got quite a bit to go…like 150 pages, but fingers crossed I can get those pages read by Wednesday which is when I want my review to go up for it!

As for writing, I was productive enough. Especially when I like to spend October focusing on planning and prepping my NaNoWriMo projects for November. I did do some re-writing and editing of a short story I wrote a while ago, as well as writing the first draft for my writing class short story assignment. For this short story assignment, it was supposed to be a literary piece of fiction and let me tell you, literary fiction does not come easily to me. It is so hard to write something that seems interesting enough to me but doesn’t have magic… I’m glad I have to write something out of my comfort zone like this though because so far, it has definitely helped me become a stronger and more well-rounded writer.

That is all for this reading and writing update and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below. Thanks 🙂

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Preptober Week 3 – Determining Your Goals

Happy Monday!

NaNoWriMo is fast approaching so now is the time to kick our prepping into high gear, and get some stories planned. Today we will be discussing all things goals for NaNoWriMo and how to have an overall successful and productive month!

 

Step 1: Create Big SMART Goals

I always bring up SMART goals whenever I make a blog post centred around goals because these are the type of goals you need to focus on making. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Time-bound, and by following these five words, you will create goals you can ACTUALLY achieve! When making goals, it is important to make them as directed and specific as possible and to make sure they are goals you can achieve in the time given. Some examples of my big, overall NaNoWriMo goals are:

  • Edit and re-outline character profiles, world history, and act I, II, III by October 31st – I specify what I want to edit and re-outline and also by what date = SMART goal!
  • Write 50k words by November 30th – This is a SMART goal because I determine how many words I want to write by whatever date, and I have achieved it before so I know it is attainable!

Step 2: Create Smaller SMART Goals

Now it is time to narrow our focus into the individual days of November and figure out what daily goals we can make to help lead us to success. The main goal in NaNoWriMo is to write 50k words in 30 days but in order to do that, you need to write at least 1,667 words per day. Maybe you can’t write that much a day though, and 1,667 words in a writing session is a rare, amazing occurrence. Whatever the case, you need to tailor these daily goals to your life and make them attainable so you are not letting yourself down at the end of the day and month. While 1,667 words are the average daily goal, maybe your goal needs to only be 1,000 words a day or maybe you write a lot and want your daily goal to be 2,000 words!

I also recommend if you have the time during the day, to split your NaNo writing session into two or even three sessions. For example, on the weekends (this is only what happens during Camp NaNo or NaNo, I don’t do this every weekend!) I like to write for three 30 minute sessions because, in the end, I finish the day with up to 3,000 words! That way, I still have time to get other things done but still get a lot of writing done. Figure out what works best for you in order to attain your personal daily goal so you can finish the day with the largest amount of words possible!

Step 3: Set Up a Reward System

Now that you have your big and small goals created, it is time to put in place a fun reward system! Whenever you hit a big, overall goal, like you write 50,000 words in NaNoWriMo, reward yourself with a big reward! For example, when I reach 50k I plan on giving myself a weekend free of writing where I get to watch Netflix and basically do whatever I want. November is not only busy because of NaNoWriMo, but also because school really picks up for me during this month so I know I am going to be exhausted by the time November 30th rolls around. When it comes to the smaller, daily goals, I like to give myself little rewards at the end of the week if I have written 5-7 days of that last week. Here are some smaller reward ideas!:

  • 30 mins of Netflix
  • A writing session at a coffee shop!
  • 30 mins at the gym (I know this might not be a reward exactly, but if you use some spare time to workout you will feel AMAZING. Trust me)
  • Reading time! (I don’t know about you, but finding time to read the books I want has been incredibly hard, so this will definitely be a reward for me)
  • Adventure to the bookstore

Step 4: Displaying Your Goals

It is important to have these goals AND your possible rewards displayed somewhere you will always see them. Whether that is when you first wake up or when you sit down to write, have them put up somewhere looking all pretty and exciting for you to see and be reminded of. I know you probably already wrote these goals down, but now take a clean piece of paper and make them colourful and lively; something that will catch your eye.

Okay! Those are the four steps to creating smart goals for NaNoWriMo! Now, to make sure these are truly smart and achievable goals, ask yourself if you know what your overall goals are for the month and how you are going to achieve each one. Know each step, or at least have it written out for you, and remind yourself of the deadlines and rewards for when you finish them!

I hope you found this blog post helpful and that you enjoyed it! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts which are all linked down below for more bookish and writing related content. Thanks 🙂

Last Blog Post: Reading + Writing Update

 

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Reading + Writing Update!

Happy Sunday!

Since I didn’t update you all last week, I have a lot to update you all. Long story short, I am currently reading six books. Yeah, six. How did this happen you might ask? Well, I just kept picking up and starting books I wanted to read (some re-reads), and here I am. I am just going to roll with it though and focus on two or three at a time (still a lot, but some of these are books I have to read for school!) until I get through them all…hopefully by the end of October. Anyways, because I have so many books that I am currently reading, I am not going to write a paragraph because it would be MASSIVE. Instead, I will do a quick, to the point update.

Books Finished:

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia – Finished on October 6th – LOVED re-reading it 5/5 stars

Currently Reading:

Traplines by Eden Robinson – Progress: 70/215 pages (none since the last update)

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare (audiobook) – 6ish/12 hours (4 more hours since the last update) – Still enjoying my re-read of this series!

Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden – 191/384 pages (started it on Oct 5th) – Not exactly my cup of tea but I have to read it for school so I am getting through it…slowly

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi – 80/394 pages (started it on Oct 8th) – Enjoying it a lot so far, especially its atmosphere (college, coffee shops, and romance!)

The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth – 50/325 pages (started it on Oct 10th) – Re-reading this hauntingly beautiful story for my review of it since it is getting released to the world this month on Oct 23rd!

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier (audiobook) – 1.5/8.5 hours (started this today!) – I really wanted to re-read this trilogy during the fall and thought it would be smarter to re-visit them via audiobook. Loving it of course!

Okay, that was a lot easier than writing out a monstrous paragraph. Anyways, as for writing, I haven’t done too, too much. I have done a few hours of NaNoWriMo prep since it is right around the corner though. I have re-outlined the first act (almost), some of the magic system, and characters as well. I still need to finish re-outlining the second and third as well as a few more characters, but other than that I think I will be set for November! This weekend I actually did do a little bit of writing. I am re-vamping a short story I wrote almost a year ago for my writing portfolio, and have written about 700 new words of it so far. Hopefully, I will finish my first draft of re-writes for it this week, but I am not rushing it.

That is all for my reading and writing update, and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out my last blog post, as well as my social media accounts all linked below. Thanks 🙂

Last Blog Post: The Shadow King

 

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The Shadow King

Happy Friday!

One sort of “resolution” for my blog was to share my own writing from time to time…so that is what I am doing! This is an older story of mine…maybe like from 1.5 years ago when I was 15, but I still wanted to share it because it is polished and well, finished. Can’t really say that about any other of my other writing projects…but anyways, if you want to critique it or give me feedback, don’t hesitate! Tell me you like it, tell me you hate it…whatever your heart contents.


 

Her cloak was a flashing torrent of black as she zipped through the forest. Gnarled roots twisted out of the ground, but the princess skipped over them with beads of sweat dripping down her face and thighs screaming of pain. Her blue nightgown caught on a root and she slammed into a tree trunk, gasping, pushing the hood of her cloak off of her inky curls. She dropped to her knees, exhaustion blurring the edges of her vision. Her eyes scanned around. The towering trees had swallowed her up, shielding her from the outside world with their bushy tops. When she looked over her shoulder there was no sign of her castle in the distance, its vine-twisted, cobblestone walls and candlelit windows now just a faint memory of bitter times.

A silver coin winked down at her from high up in the sky, sprinkles of gold-dusted around it. The moon. Had she been running for that long already? She looked around. Night had settled over the forest. It cast its thick shadows which danced in the small slivers of moonlight, and its crisp wind which swept through the leaves. Pinching her lips together, she pushed herself to her feet and wandered deeper into the forest. The princess’s shoulders tensed, her neck angled and grey eyes keen as they scanned around.

Crunch. She stopped, breath trapped in her chest and fingers halting mid twitch. Goosebumps sprouted along her arms as she took another step forward, the icy claw of fear seizing her throat.

Snap. Her heart leapt from her chest and onto the ground. She placed a hand over her gaping mouth. Past the darkness, something flailed from behind a tree, and a deep groan echoed throughout the forest. Fingers trembling and knees wobbling, she shuffled towards the tree, carefully skirting around it in a big arc. Behind it, a wedge of moonlight trickled down onto a pile of leaves. Something twitched on those leaves; a body angled oddly with a face concealed in the shadows of the night. The princess swallowed down the bulging lump in her throat.

“Hello?” she croaked and then cleared her throat, balling her hands into shaky fists. “Hello?” she called out again. A wheezy breath rattled in the lungs of the body at her feet. The princess grimaced. “Excuse me…are you okay?” Several heartbeats passed, and she was only answered by silence.

Help me,” a raspy voice hissed, and she whirled around, expecting to see someone lurking behind her but there was nothing. It was the lump on the leaves that spoke. She turned back around, her stomach flipping at the face which was now illuminated in the pale moonlight. It was the face of a young man with sickly skin so white traces of blue veins shone underneath, and dark streaks of blood and dirt were slashed across his cheeks. He blinked, his eyes a dull blue, like the sky before a rainstorm. The princess could tell his eyes were once a brilliant blue, maybe even like the ocean on a summer day, but now they were leeched of their colour and empty. His clothes were torn and tattered, and like his face, blood and dirt stained. Her eyes flicked down to his arms and legs, which had deep, bloody gashes carved into them. The princess looked away, fist pressed against her sealed lips.

“What happened to you?” she asked breathlessly. His blue eyes darted around nervously, and his skin was shiny with sweat. The princess’s heart twisted, and she reached down for his frail hand. It was ice cold and thin under hers. He glanced down at their hands, his entire body tremoring before relaxing.

“What happened to you?” She shook her head. “Who did this to you?”

“The…” he started, his voice hitching and his eyes wide. “The Shadow King.” The princess flew away from him like he had suddenly caught on fire, the blood slowly draining itself from her body. “I was a prisoner,” he continued, pulling his arms and legs to his chest, “for two years in his castle.” He shuddered, eyes fluttering shut as poisonous memories tainted his mind. A seed of uneasiness planted itself in her stomach, and she no longer felt as sympathetic for the young man as she did a few seconds ago.

“How did you escape?” she asked, shaking as that name rang inside her mind. The Shadow King. Her mother used to tell her stories of a king who lived underneath their land for centuries. An ambitious king made of darkness and shadows who was tired of living beneath the feet of humans. A king who was building up an army to take over the lands above. The only thing was that it wasn’t a story, but a fragment of history people chose to forget. Until now.

“He let me go,” the young man said, leaning over and coughing. A dark liquid blossomed on the ground next to him and the world tilted under the princess’s feet.

“The Shadow King doesn’t just…let people go,” she said as the young man rolled onto his back, sweat dribbling down his forehead and his chest heaving up and down. The princess bit her lip. “Tell me the truth.” The young man sighed and looked up at her through the corner of his eyes, defeat and exhaustion painted in grey all over his face.

“He-he let me go to-to,” he started, squeezing his eyes shut and grimacing. “T-to deliver a message to the King of Nordom.” The world around her faded, all noise becoming just a faint static in her ears. She shook her head, lips parted. What message would the Shadow King give to my father? What does this mean?

“What is it?” she asked, head snapping up as everything came back into focus. The young man stared blankly at her. She pushed the stray pieces of hair from her face and glared down at him. “I am princess Adelyn of Nordom,” she hissed viciously, startling him and herself. She had never known herself as the kind to hiss, or be vicious. The princess glanced away, shaking her head. “Just tell me. Please.”

“The Shadow King said,” the young man started slowly and hesitantly, licking his dry lips, “that the world will not end in a bang or a crash, but with one scream at a time…u-until there is nothing left,” he paused, lips shaping invisible words. In his lap, his fingers fiddled with each other. “A-and that end is the next Harvest moon.” The world was a carpet being yanked out beneath her feet. Her knees wobbled and she fell onto the forest floor. The next Harvest moon? That was only four days away! Her stomach flopped and flipped like a fish out of water as fear washed over her in monstrous waves, her skin clammy and chest tightening until no air was left. She dragged her eyes to the young man. He was suddenly still and unmoving. Pushing herself to her feet, she walked over to him, arms crossed over her chest as if to defend her from the bitterness of reality. He still didn’t move. Not even when a stick snapped under her foot, the sound echoing sharply throughout the forest.

“Young man?” she asked, bending down next to him and shaking him gently. No response. She leaned over him and gasped. His blue eyes were open and glassy, and he wasn’t blinking. Letting out a soft breath, she closed his eyes with her fingers before scrambling away and retching beside a tree trunk. Tears trickled down her cheeks in winding streams, sobs silent but stabbing pains in her chest. She stared up at the night sky.

The King’s message played over and over in her head. She realized what she had to do. Adelyn had to go back. She had to go home to her parents and warn her people, despite all the mistakes they made she still loved them.

It was only a matter if they would love her back.

Slowly she backed away from the dead body on the ground, and then spun around, breaking into a sprint. The tears continued to roll down her cheeks, the same words playing on a loop in her mind, inching her closer to the edge of insanity.

The world will not end with a bang or a crash, but with one scream at a time. Until there is nothing left.

Those words sounded insane, the product of one who sees ghosts and talks to the moon like she is a friend, but the princess gripped those words to her chest as she ran through the forest, cradling their power and hoping that it was all enough.

How to Write More During NaNoWriMo

Okay, before we get into this post I just wanted to let you guys know that this blog post is a collab with descript.com! I am really excited to be collabing with them because their website works really well with what a lot of my blog posts have been about lately (prepping for NaNoWriMo) so honestly, it was the perfect time for them to approach me. Of course, I would not be collabing with them if I didn’t really think their website would be helpful to you all and it definitely is so I cannot wait to tell you all about it below! Okay, now to the actual blog post…


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NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is all about trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days, and that is no easy task by any means. To help make it a little easier though, I will be sharing 5 tips on how to write more during the month of November and get a little closer to that 50k goal! If you have been keeping up with my blog this month, you probably noticed that I have been posting Preptober posts every Monday to help with prepping for NaNoWriMo. However, this is a little bonus, Preptober blog post because it is Wednesday, not Monday so I hope you enjoy!

Descript.com

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As I mentioned above, this is a collab with descript.com. Basically, Descript is a transcribing website where you can record audio for a podcast, video, or even your NaNoWriMo project, and then insert that audio onto their website. They will transcribe your audio and allow you to physically edit the words you spoke! It is great because if you don’t have the time to sit down and physically write, you can talk out your story and transcribe when you get the chance. It is also a great way to break through writer’s block because sometimes we just need to talk things out and get those creative juices flowing to finally find the motivation to write again. If you want to learn more about how descript.com can help you overcome writer’s block, especially during NaNoWriMo, check out their super informative blog post all about it HERE. Also, if you decide to give their website a try (you get 30 mins of it free when you sign up, but it is pretty affordable if it is something you think you will use!) let me know how you liked it and what you used it for 🙂

Freewrite In the AM

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One thing I have gotten back into recently is journalling right when I wake up in the morning. I sit down with some coffee at around 6am and try to write at least a page of my thoughts, feelings, and goals for the day. Journalling is a great way to get your creativity flowing early on in the day and it sets you up for writing success later on. Instead of writing about what’s on your mind though, especially during NaNoWriMo, you could freewrite a short story or part of your NaNoWriMo project just to get you started for the day. This warms up my mind and helps me crank out 1-3k words each day!

Listen to 88 Cups of Tea with Yin Chang!

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Whenever I am feeling unmotivated or I just really need to sit down and get some words down for the day, I know that I can always count on the amazing podcast 88 Cups of Tea with Yin Chang. I have been a HUGE fan of this podcast for over 2 years now…wow, that’s a long time, and I recommend it with my whole heart. It features people of different creative backgrounds like writers, actors, and literary agents who offer really useful advice for pursuing creativity. I always finish each episode itching for my computer so definitely check it out throughout the month of November!

Plan Goals for Each Writing Session

I don’t always do this but I wish I did because it helps me immensely in determining how productive my next writing session will be. After a writing session, I like to first off, take a step back and breath because I probably had been writing for a while. Secondly, I like to take a piece of paper and a pen, and looking at my outline, see what major(ish) beats I need to hit next. These are just 1-3 major (or minor, but still important) points I need to hit in the next scene in order to make it exciting, interesting, and also easier for me to write. This way I still let my panster side run wild in the next writing session, but I have a loose map I can still follow so I don’t get lost. I recommend trying this to see if it works for you and if it doesn’t, that’s alright! If it does, that is awesome because it always helps me so, so much when I do this.

Set Aside 1-2 Hours of Self-Care Each Day

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I talk about taking breaks a lot in my writing posts but it is just something that all writers need to keep being reminded of, so here I am, mentioning it again. I’ve talked about how you can set aside one day a week for self-care, or like an hour at night every once and a while, but I am back with a slightly different tip. I am challenging you to take 1-2 hours every. Single. Night to focus on yourself. After a day of writing, working, and existing, you need time. So, take this hour or so to watch TV, read, or just lie down and exist. This is super important to do, especially during NaNoWriMo, so you don’t burn yourself out. I get a little wound up when NaNoWriMo hits, and usually spend a lot of time at my computer and my back does NOT appreciate that. So, my goal for this November (apart from writing 50k) is to take a 1-2 hour break for just me every night (probably 8-10pm) to relax.

Those are my 5 tips on how to write more during NaNoWriMo and I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to check out Descript.com and their blog post all about how to use their website to overcome writer’s block because it is a really cool and efficient way to write this November! Also, make sure you check out my last blog post and all of my social media accounts linked below for more writing and bookish related fun. Thanks 🙂

Last Blog Post: Preptober Week 2 – Are You Planning Enough?

 

@zoermathers

 

 

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Preptober Week 2 – Are You Planning Enough?

Happy Monday!

First of all, before we get into this Preptober post, I wanted to apologize for not having my usual, weekly reading and writing update up yesterday and having this blog post up later than usual. I’m Canadian so it was my Thanksgiving weekend (and still is) and I was visiting family and just did not have time to sit down and write a blog post, let alone pre-write blog posts for the week which is what I usually do. But that’s ok! I am back now with this brand new Preptober post that I hope you all enjoy 🙂


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Are you prepping enough?

This is a really important question when it comes to preparing for the event that is NaNoWriMo because it has time constraints and a massive goal surrounding it…and because of that, you don’t have the time to continue outlining in November because that is the time you need to spend writing your story! So, to make sure your prepping doesn’t get carried out in November, here are some tips and tricks and things to keep in mind during Preptober.

Sit Down and PLAN

Sit down with your notebook right now (well, after you finish reading this post!) and plan out your characters, world, history, plot, and the overall synopsis of your story. Just sit down and go through all of that, making as much progress as you can in each section. Those are 5 things that you MUST have in-depth, detailed planning for otherwise, you will still be planning in NaNoWriMo.

I recommend having at least 2 pages of information for each character, like AT THE VERY LEAST. This will include their age, race, family, likes/dislikes, personality, past, etc, etc. When you plan out the world and the history, I recommend planning it out like it is a book that is going to be read in schools across the world. However, remember that you are always, always going to know more than your readers, so if you have a lot of info about your world and its history, don’t freak out about trying to fit that all into your story…no, no, a lot of that is just for you so you can write the best story ever. With your plot, this is where you can tweak things depending on the type of writer you are. If you are a plotter, you are going to have pages of plot and like, every scene plotted and connected to others. If you are more of a pantser like me (although, I have been forcing myself to plan a lot for this project), then you are going to want to just have enough to get you through your story. I recommend having a good idea of the beginning, middle and end, and how all those parts are going to connect. These are all super important things to plan, and you need to make sure you plan all of this otherwise you might get disappointed when November 30th comes around and your still several thousand words short on your project.

Ask Questions

Okay, when you finish planning and plotting (and this does take time, like at least a whole month sometimes!), you need to figure out if you actually know what you are writing. Yeah sure, you can sit down and fill a notebook with info but that doesn’t always mean that you are ready to write your story. That is why we answer some questions about our project just to make sure. Here are some questions I ask myself:

  • If someone asked me what my project was about, what would I say? How would I describe it? Do I have a good synopsis that someone who has no knowledge of my story would understand?
  • How would the characters in my world react to some of the things happening in MY world? Or things that happened in my world a long time ago? What part would they have in it, or would they not have any part in it at all?
  • Do I know my ending? Do I know how I am going to get there? (P.S. I don’t always know my ending, but I have noticed over the years that it really does help to have an overall idea on what that ending is…it makes for a better story and also makes it easier for you to write and edit.)
  • If I had to teach a history lesson of this world I created, what would be the 5 major events I would focus on? These are the 5 major events that people in the future could not ignore or forget. How do these events affect this world now? 
  • If my characters were all together and witnessed someone in need (someone fell down, dropped their groceries, etc, etc), how would they respond? Who would help? Who would pretend they didn’t see it and carry on with their day? Who would just watch? 

These are just SOME question ideas you can ask yourself and of course, tailor to your own story. I recommend asking anywhere from 10-15 questions because they will really test your knowledge on your world and characters to make sure you are ready for NaNoWriMo. If you have trouble answering one or two questions, maybe head back to your outline and go over what you wrote, adding whatever needs to be added so you can answer these questions!

Make a Story Bible

What is a story bible? Why do I need one? These are both very valid questions that guess what? I am going to be answering right now! So, a story bible is a handy little notebook, a piece of paper, the backside of a napkin or really whatever, that has some basic info on your story that is ready for you to access whenever. It can have the first and last names of characters, the five major historical events that affect your world, or just really anything that is necessary to your story and will be needed lots. For example, my WIP deals with lots of mythology so I have the names of some immediate gods and also character names in my little, handy notebook. It is great to turn to while writing instead of having to dig through all your notes to find whatever it is you need. It saves time and stress so make one and fill it with whatever you need.

There it is! My three major tips to make sure you are planning enough for NaNoWriMo and are chugging along on the path of success. I really hope you found this all helpful and for even more tips, check out my last Preptober blog post here where I give a quick overview on how to get ready for NaNoWriMo this year. I link a lot of great worksheets for building characters, world-building, and creating your plot so check those out! Also, make sure you check out my last blog post and social media accounts which are always linked below for more writing and reading related fun. Thanks!

Last Blog Post: October 2018 New Releases!

 

@zoermathers

 

 

@zoeiswriting

 

 

@zoematherswrites