6 Books I Want to Read This Summer

6 books on my summer reading list and 4 tips to help get out of a reading slump

Happy Friday!

***Before I get into today’s post, I wanted to shoutout my Patreon that I recently launched. You can check out all the goodies I am offering HERE, or scroll down and click on the Patreon icon at the very bottom of the page. Thanks 🙂

This summer has been a looong one for all of us. I mean, I was supposed to finish school at the end of April and have a 4 month summer (which is very long in itself) but because of COVID-19, summer will be almost 6 months! You think with all that time, I would have read dozens of books by now. It has been 3 1/2 months at this point, yet, how many books have I read? 9!

I have not finished a book since the beginning of May, but I am over halfway through Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron. I am happy to report that I will definitely finish this YA fantasy and I am hoping it will encourage me to get back into the swing of reading since the annual Reading Rush is coming up and I want to participate in that (I will be sharing my TBR on Instagram so follow me @zoeiswriting).

And since I have been doing so many writing and creative entrepreneur-related blog posts, I realized it is time to talk about books! Even if I am not reading a lot right now.

Here are 6 books I want to read this summer.

1. The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

The Demon King, by Cinda Williams Chima | Fantasy books, Fantasy ...

I am in the mood for some good ol’ fantasy, so when I was at the bookstore, I decided to pick up The Demon King. I know this is a spinoff (?) series in the world that another one of her series takes place in but you can read this series without reading those other books. However, I realized I own The Warrior King (the first book in that other series)! Maybe I will give that a read after The Demon King because for whatever reason, The Demon King is calling out to me. Do I know what it is about? Nope! But nonetheless, I am excited to dive into it sometime this summer. Let me know if you have read this book, or any of her others books in this world, and what you thought about them.

2. Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

Vengeful: Schwab, V. E.: 9780765387523: Books - Amazon.ca

One of my goals this summer is to find Vicious, the first book in this series, and buy it because that is one GOOD book. I also want to pick up the long awaited sequel, Vengeful because I know it will be just as good, if not better. When I think about Vicious, I get chills. It is one of those books that even none readers will love so if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

In the first book, we follow Victor and Eli who are college roommates and both intelligent and ambitious characters. In their final year, they become fascinated with near-death experiences and supernatural events after experiencing some odd things in their own lives, and realize they have the power to give each other extraordinary abilities. But no one human should wield this type of power, and it is no surprise when things go extremely wrong. The book then jumps 10 years into the future and we follow the fight between Eli, who wants to be the only superhuman in the world, and Victor. Who will survive and whose ability will become their undoing?

3. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

Mistborn: The Final Empire: Sanderson, Brandon: 8601419297900 ...

To be honest, I cannot even tell you how long this book has been on my shelf. I know it is time to finally read it, not only because I have heard nothing but good things about it, and also because I need to get around to reading a Brandon Sanderson book. One reason I have put off reading this book is because I own the mass market paperback edition (it was super cheap, okay!). However, I have glasses for a reason! It is time to buckle up and dive into this long book. Once again, I have no idea what it is about, but I am very excited for some classic high fantasy.

4. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid: 9781524798642 ...

I know, I know. I’ve read this book two times already THIS year, but it is just so good. Also, I had no idea it was becoming a TV show! It already has a cast too and I am in love with it. Ever since I found out this exciting news, I have been itching to re-read it. I would have done it sooner, but I leant it to be boyfriend a few months ago and couldn’t get it back until I went and visited him 3 weeks ago. But now I have it back and it has been very tempting to re-read.

Daisy Jones and the Six is written in interview format and follows the rise and fall of a fictional band from the 70s (it is based off of Fleetwood Mac). If you are a music fan, especially a fan of rock from the 70s/80s, I highly recommend this book.

5. A Touch of Death by Rebecca Crunden

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

This is a book I’ve spoken about in the past because I was given it for review about a month ago. Since I’ve been in a reading slump, I haven’t gotten around to it yet unfortunately, but I want to get to it sometime this summer. This is a dystopian YA novel and takes place a thousand years in the future where humanity lives behind the walls of a totalitarian Kingdom. This is a genre I haven’t read in a while. I hope I love this book and it gets me back into re-reading some of my dystopian favourites since there hasn’t been too much dystopian releasing lately!

6. The Devil’s Thief by Lisa Maxwell

The Devil's Thief (The Last Magician, #2) by Lisa Maxwell

Back in April I read the first book, The Last Magician and I loved it, so I am looking forward to finally reading the sequel, The Devil’s Thief. This series takes place in New York during the 1920s, which means the atmosphere is amazing. There is magic and morally grey characters and deception…some of my favourite things to read about. My local library is opening back up in August which is very exciting and I hope that they have this book for me to borrow!


Before I can dive into this books, however, I have to break out of my horrible reading slump. It is like I am rising out of it slowly, because I feel that desire to read deep down…but I am getting distracted by other things too easily.

Here are some things I am doing to get myself out of this reading slump:

  • Make time to read a little every day (15-30 pages)
  • Abandon books I don’t want to read and only reading what I want to
  • Not pressure myself to read
  • Do other things I enjoy like writing, working out, and listening to music

Those are all the books I want to read during these last 2 months of summer and before the school year begins in full swing. Let me know in the comments below what books you want to get read in July and August, because I would love to know!

Don’t forget to check out my last blog post as well as my social media accounts and Patreon below. Thanks for reading 🙂

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6 Books By Black Authors I NEED to Read

It is important to always support black creators – start by checking out this list of 6 novels written about black characters by black authors.

Happy Wednesday!

With everything going on in our world, it felt wrong to not use my platform to spread awareness regarding the Black Lives Matter movement and the injustices committed by police against black people. It is important to shout out black creators during this time, which is why I am using my platform where I discuss reading and writing to highlight the amazing black writers in our community.

I recognize that this is not enough and that there is more to be done. That is why I am including some resources at the end of this blog post for you, especially other allies like myself, to explore. There are petitions that need signatures and donations and information on this movement to educate yourself on.

This week, I took a look at my bookshelf and was embarrassed by how many books on it were written by black authors. It is nowhere near enough and I want to make it a priority to support black authors not only right now when social media is blasting this movement, but always. When reading a book, I always expect a diverse cast but rarely do I consider the person writing the cast. I need to change that and this is the beginning of that change. Please let me know if there are any others I should read because I am always looking for more recommendations.

Let’s get into this!

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give: Amazon.ca: Thomas, Angie: Books

There is no excuse for me not having read this book yet. From what I know about this popular novel is that it is extremely relevant to what is going on now. Apart from being an educating read on racism in the police force against black people, I have heard from numerous reviews that Angie Thomas is an incredible writer and storyteller. I am expecting a powerful and emotional read, and I plan on getting my hands on this story ASAP.

Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron

Amazon.com: Kingdom of Souls (9780062870957): Barron, Rena: Books

When I was researching young adult novels by black authors to read, so many came up that I have never heard about. I am always on BookTube or book blogs or on Instagram where I yes, follow book accounts, but still have never seen books like Kingdom of Souls talked about. I have been in the mood for fantasy lately so the synopsis of this book immediately caught my eye having to do with witches and our main character awaking her ancestral powers to stop a demon king. I am hoping my library has the ebook copy but if not, I will just purchase it from my local bookstore because I am craving more magical stories. Especially ones focused on black main characters because we don’t see that as much as we should.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Dear Martin : Nic Stone (author) : 9781471175565 : Blackwell's

When this book came out, there was so much buzz but I never picked it up. I remember seeing it on every BookTube channel, Instagram account, and even on the podcasts I listen to. Yet, I NEVER read it. This is another book extremely relevant to what is happening now, just as all these books are extremely relevant to today. Dear Martin follows our main character, Justyce who is a victim of police brutality. He is an excellent student with Ivy League in his future, and one day, he decides to explore the writings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and dives into how they hold up today. Once again, I know this will be a powerful story, and I am hoping to get to it soon because not only do I want to read it, but I need to.

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

Another important read due to today’s challenges and injustices forced on the black community. Tyler Johnson Was Here deals with the wrongful shooting and killing of Tyler Johnson by a police officer that forces our main character, Marvin, to grieve his twin brother’s death and learn what justice and freedom mean in our corrupt world today. This book tells a story that is reality for many black people which is why it is crucial for me and other allies to read. I cannot even imagine how real this book is for some people, and I hope through reading this, I will learn more about the injustices others face that I do not.

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Pride: Amazon.ca: Zoboi, Ibi: Books

I love the idea of a rejuvenated re-telling of Pride and Prejudice and that is exactly what this book is. Zuri is Afro-Latino and lives in Brooklyn, and while she has a lot of pride for her community, it is not enough to preserve her neighborhood that is rapidly becoming one she doesn’t recognize. One day, the Darcy family moves in across the street and due to her sister falling for one of the Darcy’s children, Zuri must find a common ground with one of their son’s, Darius. This book is filled with cultural identity, discussions on class, and first love. I am looking forward to reading this one soon! I have never read a Pride and Prejudice re-telling and I am glad this is going to be the first.

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Even though this book came out last March, I have heard a lot about it recently and I am glad it is getting more hype. Here is me re-introducing it, or introducing it into your life! This sounds like such an adorable and charming book, but also a little sad. It follows the story of Jack and Kate; how they met and their time together as they grew closer…but then Kate dies. Her death forces Jack to look back on their entire relationship and when an opportunity to save her arises, he jumps at the chance to take it. However, something like that will have consequences and it may be on someone else that he loves. Ugh, this sounds so good and I am intrigued to see where the author takes the story!


RESOURCES:

#DefundThePolice

Justice for George Floyd

National Bail Out

Black Visions Collective

Those are 6 books by black authors that I NEED to read. If you have any other recommendations please let me know in the comments. I hope you enjoyed and will consider adding a few of these to your own TBR!

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 🙂

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June Reading + Writing Goals

Happy Friday!

Both April and May have flown by, and now we are right on June’s doorstep which is crazy, but also why I am here with my reading and writing goals for June. I am keeping the load light however because once I finish my current projects (which I should in early June), my mind and body need a break from my computer.

Besides, May was very productive work-wise for me! However, I did not stick to any of my original May goals because a bunch of unexpected opportunities arose that I could not pass up. In order to take them, I had to set some of my own projects to the back burner because of it, but that’s okay. I know I will pick them up sometime this summer. Nonetheless, May was busy and productive and I am hoping to carry that into June.

Anyways, onto my June goals!

Finish Re-Typing

Deadline Goal: June 12

This is a 344-page project I have been working on for a client since May 7th, and it has definitely taken me a lot longer than I expected. However, I am trying to re-type 15 pages a day which will let me finish when I hope to…as long as I don’t stray too far from that daily page goal. Sometimes I can’t hit that goal though. Last night, I had a lot of troubling focusing so I only typed 10. I am not too worried because in the past, I’ve been able to catch up and I know I can do it again. Regardless, I am excited to get this done.

Finish Outlining Act III of “The Obsidian Butterfly”

Deadline Goal: June 14

I am horrible at finishing outlines, which is why I want to sit down and just finish this novel idea. I already have Act I and II done, so why didn’t I just finish Act III? No idea. To be honest, I do not know where Act III will take me which is probably why I haven’t planned it out yet. I want to end this story differently in the novel than I did in the novella version since I will have more room to expand the ending and I want to explore all the possibilities.

Write 10,000 Words Towards “The Obsidian Butterfly”

Deadline Goal: June 30

My goal was to write 50,000 words of this back in May and yeah, that did not happen! I think I made it to around 7,000 though, so at least that is something. In June, I would really like to make some more progress in this story. If I could get just 10,000 words down during June, that’s 2,000 words per week which in my mind, is a reasonable amount. However, if I don’t get that much, I just hope I finish outlining it!

Write 2 Articles for Flanelle Magazine

Deadline Goal #1: June 14

Deadline Goal #2: June 30

Last month, I only contributed one article to Flanelle Magazine which is a magazine I write for if you didn’t know (check it out HERE). They do not take me that long to do so I want to aim to get two out this coming month. Really, I just spend one day planning it out and then pitch the idea to my editor-in-chief. When she emails me back the following day with the okay, I write the first draft and go over it several times before sending it back to her. Overall, the process is two to three days. I love writing for this magazine and want to make sure it doesn’t fall to the side of all my other projects!

Read 3 Books

If you read my May Wrap-Up + June TBR (click HERE to read it), you will know I had a horrible reading month! In June, I really want to get back into the swing of reading and knock some books off my TBR, but I also don’t want to overwhelm myself. I am thinking that three books is a good goal. It is not too many books, but also not too little. Fingers crossed this is an easy goal to check off the goal list!


Those are all my goals for June and I hope you enjoyed reading through them! Hopefully, they inspired you to map out some goals you have for June. If you already have some goals outlined, drop them in the comments below because I’d love to know what they are.

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

Thanks for reading 🙂

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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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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:

39679076

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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5 Outlining Tips for Pantsers

Not a plotter? Here are 5 tips to get that outline down.

Happy Friday!

Today, I will be sharing my five outlining tips for pantsers from a pantser. I am not huge on outlining but I always make sure to do it, even if it means forcing my butt into a chair and putting a timer on for 30 minutes to make sure I just get it done.

Outlining is such a huge and crucial part of the writing process. Even if we don’t feel like doing it, it is one of those things we have to. I was watching “No Write Way” on V.E Schwab’s YouTube channel and she was interviewing Zoraida Cordova and talked about how outlining is like drawing up a map for your story. It is not carving a specific path but giving you the parameters to which your story can expand. Schwab mentioned that you can always change things and add new roads or cities, but the outline just acts as a general idea to how far and wide your story can go.

I loved this description and honestly, it has made me more open to outlining. If you are still iffy on the whole process and want to know how to become a better plotter, then read on!

What is a pantser?

A pantser (vs a plotter) is someone who “writes by the seat of their pants.” This means they sit down with a story idea and only that before they start writing, and then figure the plot out as they go.

You can successfully write a story this way, but often what happens is you will write yourself into a hole. You will turn out a manuscript of 50,000 words only to get stumped at that point and not know where to go next. That is why outlining is helpful. Whenever you feel this way, you can turn to your organized story plan and know where to go next.

The tips

1. Set a Timer

Setting a timer is a great way to ensure you get your outline done and over with. Whether you stretch it out over a couple days or weeks, setting a timer for 10 or 40 minutes (or whatever time you want) will encourage you to finally focus. If you sit down with the intention of outlining but you want to get it done in that one sitting, you are less likely to finish it. That is why I recommend doing outlining sprints and stretching them over several days or so.

This is also a great tactic to do when you have trouble writing, set a time for a writing sprint and get writing! It motivates you to get as much done as you can because you know you have a limited amount of time.

2. Keep it Simple

Just because outlining is essential to a successful story does not mean you have to crank out a super detailed and descriptive outline that is 50 pages. No, just keep it simple. Here is an example of how I outline my stories as a pantser:

  • Define the three MAIN points of your story (follow a three-act structure)
  • Add a few major events for each main plot point (I recommend three to five for each act)
  • Have a decent idea of who your characters are (know their names, motives, backstory, and arc)
  • Know your world like you live in it (write out its history, its current status, its religion, who rules it, etc)

I find this gives me enough information so I don’t write myself into a hole, but it also doesn’t have too much information that I feel constricted or forced to go a certain route.

3. Utilize Cue Cards

As a pantser, having your outline in a notebook means you will forget to drag it out and then never actually look over it. A notebook is less accessible and a hassle to refer back to for someone who did not want to in the first place!

That is why I love cue cards; they are simple and accessible. They are also small which means you can only add so much information on each one. Another reason cue cards are great is because you can punch a hole through the corner and put them on a ring. They are easy to flip through, rearrange, and swap out during the outlining and writing process. This is a huge comfort for pantsers because they don’t feel strapped down to what they wrote this way. Which is how I feel when I write my outline in a notebook.

Not only that, but cue cards can come in all colours with fun designs. Overall, they are an essential tool for pantsers during the outlining process.

4. Write Down Every New Plot Point for Your WIP and Save it for Future Use

If you have a new idea right when you finish outlining or when you begin writing, don’t disregard it. However, don’t immediately go back to your outline and force it in either (unless it is the missing piece to your story and MUST be in it).

Here is where cue cards come in again! If you are using the cue card method, you can write this shiny new plot point down on one and while writing, you might figure out where it fits (if it does). This way, you can just place it under whatever act it belongs under and you don’t give yourself an excuse to procrastinate and rewrite your entire outline. 

I am guilty of having a new plot point idea and then immediately changing my outline for it. However, I have learned recently that is not beneficial to my story or me.

5. Make Your Outline Organized and Attractive

When it does come time to refer back to your outline so you can remember what comes next in your story, having it organized with colour coordination, titles, bullet points, etc is crucial. This is because it makes it easier to read through your outline and find what you are looking for. 

If each act is colour coded and each plot point is a bullet point in bold lettering, you will be able to fish out what you need without wasting any writing time. If your outline is on a cue card, make sure each card is devoted to one act or one character and title it according to that. If you are using a notebook, do the same. Don’t waste writing time searching through pages and pages of pencil written notes, trying to find out how that one plot point ends!


Those are my five outlining tips for pantsers and I hope they were helpful for all you pantsers out there. If you are not a pantser though, let me know in the comments and give me an insight on your process!

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 🙂

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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 🙂

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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 🙂

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May 2020 Writing Goals

typewriter1.jpg

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 🙂

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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 🙂

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