May Wrap-Up + June TBR

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

Happy Wednesday!

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

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

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

May Wrap-Up

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

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

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

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

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

June TBR

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

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

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

A Touch of Death by Rebecca Crunden

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

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

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

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

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

Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman

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

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


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

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

Thanks for reading 🙂

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Writing Update!

An insight into my busy, writing-filled month!

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Happy Friday!

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

AZTEC INSPIRED NOVEL

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

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

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

FLANELLE MAGAZINE

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

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

RE-TYPING

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

BLOGGING!

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

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

MARKETING AND SOCIAL MEDIA INTERNSHIP

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

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


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

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

Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: 4 Podcasts to Spark Your Creativity

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4 Podcasts to Spark Your Creativity

Happy Monday!

Podcasts are a great way to learn about new things or get motivated, which is why now is the perfect time to share four of my favourite podcasts that can spark your creativity during these somber times.

Personally, I love to listen to podcasts while cleaning or going on a walk, but occasionally, I will sit down and soak in all their wisdom. They help me unwind and pass the time, which are two things I look for daily. Hopefully, the podcasts listed below can do the same for you!

These podcasts that I am sharing are for the creative mind (entrepreneurs, writers, artists, etc), but I think they would be beneficial to anyone who listened to them. When I need a pick me up, these are the podcasters I turn to.

1. Gals on the Go

PodcastOne: Gals on the Go

I only recently started listening to this podcast hosted by Danielle Carolan and Brooke Miccio, two lifestyle YouTubers who I enjoy watching. They talk about their lives, social media, relationships, college, and life on the internet. They are honest and open about their struggles, especially during quarantine, which is inspiring to hear. It sparks creativity because these are two young but very successful people who are, as they say, “gals on the go.” Hearing their start-up stories and also about the type of social media work they do inspires me to be productive in my own work.

Their podcasts are more laid back so I find they are better background noise for when I am cleaning or doing housekeeping tasks on my laptop like answering emails. It just feels like two friends chatting and catching up with the occasional tip on how to stay positive and motivated when life has you down.

FAVOURITE EPISODES:

  • Our Quarantine Morning Routines
  • Chat with Maggie MacDonald: Social Media, College, Confidence + Being Yourself

2. That Smart Hustle

That Smart Hustle Podcast's stream on SoundCloud - Hear the ...

This is another podcast that is hosted by a YouTuber, and her name is Kristen Martin. She is a creative entrepreneur who posts vlogs related to writing, business, and lifestyle which she has expanded onto her podcast as well. She also posts about astrology and energy, which I am not into but if you are, then you should definitely check her out! She touches a lot on failing and accepting failure, as well as believing in yourself and your plan in order to succeed. I really like it when podcasts, especially podcasts for entrepreneurs, include this message because we all need that reminder every once and a while. 

I like to take walks and listen to this podcast because there are always a lot of gold nuggets of information that I don’t want to miss. These podcast episodes are short, ranging from 10-30 minutes usually, which is a nice break from the 40-60 minute ones! But keep in mind, you might want to download a few of these before taking a walk.

FAVOURITE EPISODES:

  • The One Thing I Wish I’d Known Before Starting a Business
  • The Danger of Consuming More Than You’re Creating
  • When the Motivation Just Isn’t There

3. 88 Cups of Tea with Yin Chang

88 Cups of Tea | Listen via Stitcher for Podcasts

In the past, I have talked about this writing podcast and how much I loved it, and I still do! I highly recommend this one not only to writers but to creatives overall. Yin brings on artists of all sorts onto this podcast, and all the content is just so inspiring. I never finish an episode not ready to hop on my laptop and get writing. That is why if you are feeling in a rut, listen to this ASAP.

This podcast is one of those ones that you want to sit down and enjoy every minute of it. I recommend siting down somewhere comfy with a snack and a drink before pressing play because you won’t want to miss any info spilling out. It wouldn’t hurt to have a notebook too to jot down some notes. However, it is also great to listen to while on a walk. When I was younger, I would listen to it every day on my walk to and from school.

It also helps that Yin brings on so many of my favourite authors, making me jump on each episode as soon as it releases.

FAVOURITE EPISODES:

  • MAGGIE STIEFVATER: Staying Motivated During Challenging Times
  • VICTORIA ‘V.E.’ SCHWAB: Cultivating Stubborn Hope & Earning Your Way Into the Tribe
  • SARAH J MAAS: Championing Heroines & Writing with Relentless Determination

4. The Goal Digger

The Goal Digger Podcast | Listen via Stitcher for Podcasts

This is a new podcast for me, but all the episodes I’ve listened to, I’ve loved. This an entrepreneur podcast all about getting your dream job and cultivating the life you want to live. It is about hustling and growing your online platforms in order to achieve the dreams you set out to reach. Every episode is a nice 20-45 minute length, which makes it a great walking podcast. Like 88 Cups of Tea though, I prefer to snuggle up for this one or at least sit at my desk with my notebook out. This is a gold mine if you are interested in success on social media and building a brand/business on platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, etc.

The Goal Digger has a lot of amazing interviews with professional entrepreneurs who share their own tips and tricks to success, along with the host’s own experiences and advice. It also includes a lot of episodes on topics you wouldn’t necessarily think about asking yourself when creating a business which is so incredibly helpful. Some examples are “An Action Plan to Manage Financial Fear and Anxiety Right Now” and “The Checklist I Use to Choose My Mentors.”

FAVOURITE EPISODES:

  • These 5 Things Will Make or Break Your Biz

Those are four podcasts that will spark your creativity and I hope you will give them a try if you haven’t already. Let me know down below some of your favourite podcasts because I am always on the hunt for more.

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

Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: 5 Tips for Writing Short Stories

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5 Tips for Writing Short Stories

typing

Happy Friday!

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

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

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

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

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

#2: You Should Know Everything

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

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

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

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

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

#4: Over-Write

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Thanks for reading!

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

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Day-in-my-life: Quarantine Edition

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

Happy Monday!

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

Let’s get into it!

7:30 am – Wake Up

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

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

9:00 am – Planning My Day

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

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

9:30 am – Time to Work

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

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

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

12:00 pm – Workout

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

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

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

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

Multitasking at it’s finest, I say.

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

getready.jpg

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

It is important to take a break!

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

3:00 pm – Course Work

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

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

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

6:00 pm – Dinner, Socialize & Relax

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

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

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

 

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


There you have it! That is a day-in-my-life: quarantine edition and I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know in the comments what a typical day in your life looks like because I’d love to know.

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

Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: 5 Outlining Tips for Pantsers

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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 🙂

Last Blog Post: April Favourites: Books, Movies, Music + More

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April Favourites: Books, Movies, Music + More

A guide to everything I loved during April 2020.

Happy Wednesday!

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

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

Books

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

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

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

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

The Toll by Neal Shusterman

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

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

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

TV Shows/Movies

Elite

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

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

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

Stuck in Love

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

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

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

Music

Hamilton

Hamilton (musical) - Wikipedia

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

Radio by Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey – Radio Lyrics | Genius Lyrics

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

Forever by CHVRCHES

CHVRCHES – Forever Lyrics | Genius Lyrics

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


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

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

Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: 5 Ways to stay productive during quarantine

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5 Ways to stay productive during quarantine

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

Happy Monday!

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

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

1. Be Creative Every Day

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

Anyways, enough of the shameless self-promo!

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

Some other creative things you can do are:

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

2. Become Friends with Time Blocking

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

What is time blocking?

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

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

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

3. Do Something New and Different Every Day

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

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

Some new and different things you can try:

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

4. Develop a Reward System

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

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

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

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

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

5. Exercise Daily

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

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

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

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

 

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


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

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

Thanks for reading and stay healthy 🙂

Last Blog Post: April Wrap-Up + May TBR

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NaNoWriMo…But in May!

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Happy Wednesday!

NaNoWriMo, but in May is my way of making up for not writing at all during Camp NaNoWriMo this past month. I decided to give it an official name in the hopes it will motivate me to actually writing during May. Hence, Mayorimo.

Before I jump into what I am writing, my goals, and overall writing plan, I wanted to acknowledge that yes, this is my first Wednesday blog post! If you missed my last blog post (My May 2020 Writing Goals, which you can check out HERE), I announced that I will be posting three times a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Since I finished school last week, I have more time to brainstorm and write content for my blog and I am very excited to do so!

Now, onto my goals, plans, and writing ideas for Mayorimo aka NaNoWriMo in May.

What Am I Writing?

Glad you asked! I am adding to my Aztec novella I wrote back in March. Currently, it sits at around 20,000 words and I really want to expand it into a novel. There is so much in this world and story to explore, and I know the story will benefit from a longer length. In the past few days, I have been brainstorming new plot points and characters to add to the story and it is reminding me why I love this story.

What Are My Goals?

I knew before I planned to do Mayorimo that I did not want to write 50,000 words in one month. During March, I spread myself thin trying to write and edit 17,000 words in like two weeks while juggling school. This resulted in creative burnout for ALL of April and only now, am I finally craving to write for my story. I do not want to be irresponsible and repeat the process that resulted in my burnout, so, I settled on a more attainable goal.

Every day, I want to aim to write 1,000 words. I chose this because I know if I sit down to write, I can easily write this many. And if I miss a day, it will not be too hard to catch up. That means by the end of May, I am hoping to have added 31,000 words to my story. This puts my manuscript at 51,000 words but I have a feeling it will need to be a liiitle longer than that since it is fantasy.

Reward System = NO Burnout

I also decided to try something new during this upcoming writing-filled month: a rewards system. I have preached before in past blog posts about the importance of rewarding yourself with breaks, treats, etc when writing a lot, but lately, I have not been following that. This time, I wanted to change that and reward myself with 30 free minutes after every single writing session.

At first, I debated rewarding myself at the end of the week. However, I hate not being “productive” for long periods of time so taking a day off from writing to do whatever is not appealing to me. It drives me crazy, especially during a pandemic when I am stuck at home all day. If I could go out and be with friends, that is a different story and in that case, I want to be anything BUT productive. However, whenever I try to take Saturday off from Coursera work or writing, I itch to do anything but relax and read or watch TV. I realized I benefit from taking small breaks every day and infusing them with things I enjoy.

So, after every successful writing session (where I write at least 1,000 words), I can take 30 full minutes to read, watch YouTube, play a video game, or catch up on a TV show. Sometimes, I won’t be able to right after, but as long as it is before the evening when I do typically relax more (because I think it defeats the purpose if I take my break when I am already relaxing!) I will call that a success.

My Tips for a Successful Writing Session

  • Find Your Creative Time

Having no school or places I need to be (except work on Sundays) has reminded me I am a morning writer. This is probably why I did not get as much writing done during the school year I think (other than me making excuses) because I had classes starting at 8:30 am sometimes. Spending 9 am – 12 pm on weekdays to work on creative projects has really shown me how productive I can be in only three hours.

  • Create a Writing Trigger

By trigger, I mean find something that you listen to, drink, or smell whenever it is time to write. For example, my writing and editing trigger is lo-fi music. When I hear it, I just feel the urge to write and be productive. That is when I realized it is my writing trigger. It is helpful to have one because it really helps set the mood to write, especially when you do not feel like it.

  • Plan Out What You Are Going to Write

Plan out at least three plot points (they can be as small as your character speaking to another character) you want to write during that writing session before you sit down to write. Even if you have it in your outline, write down the three main plot points you are writing that day on a queue card or sticky note. That way, you are focused on what to write and not distracted by the rest of your story.


Those are my plans and goals for Mayorimo, and also some tips to ensure a successful writing session! Let me know what projects you are working on during May because I’d love to know.

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

Thanks for reading 🙂

Last Blog Post: May 2020 Writing Goals

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May 2020 Writing Goals

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Happy Monday!

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Write 2 Flanelle Articles

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

  • Post 3 Blog Posts Per Week

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

  • Work On Secret Project Marketing Plan

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


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

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

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

Thanks for reading 🙂

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

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