New Year’s Resolutions 2018 + Things I’ve Learned + Favorite Reads and Most Anticipated

HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY NEW YEAR’S MY FRIENDS!!!!!

New Year’s is one of my favorite times of the year because it’s a fresh start and a brand new year! And unsurprisingly, writing my goal and resolutions for the new year is one of my absolute favorite posts! In fact, I think it’s the one post that I have done consistently for the past few years! Woo! As you might know by now, I LOVE goals! So without further ado, here are some things that I’ve learned in 2017 and my goals and resolutions for 2018!!

 

Things I’ve Learned:

Work Smarter, Not Harder 

Balance has always been such a tricky thing for me because I tend to be an all-or-nothing type of person. Since learning this about myself, I think I have done a lot better, but it’s still a struggle! So it is not a surprise that I’ve struggled with balance in writing. For the longest time, I thought that I had to WRITEWRITEWRITE everyday, all day long to be productive. It meant I thought that any moment I did not spend working was a waste. I used what I call “brute force.” It means keeping your head down and powering through no matter what, using sheer force to get through everything.

This year, I learned that I don’t need brute force. In fact, brute force–while it can be helpful and even necessary at times–was actually kind of a dumb way to go, haha. It was a really unbalanced and obsessive way to live. (And granted, many times when I’m caught up in the moment, I don’t necessarily care about balance because there is a sort of high to being obsessed with something–but that’s a story for a different day 🙂 ) ANYWAYS, one of the most important and best things I learned this year was to work smarter, not harder.

For me, that meant learning my productivity. I’ve talked about this before, but I learned this year that I am most productive during the mornings and evenings and absolutely brain-dead in the afternoons. Like I said, before, I used to power through all day. That meant I woke up at the crack of dawn and wrote till the night–with the exception of meals and a few breaks. Afternoons went terribly and yet I would force myself to keep writing and writing and writing. I really am not able to get much done during the afternoons and in hindsight, I was wasting time and energy trying to get myself to write.

(Ironically, I am writing this blog post in the afternoon at the worst time possible AKA 3:00pm, so forgive me if I don’t make any sense at all, hahaha!)

By allocating my hours properly, I learned I am able to be just as productive as if I had used brute force to write all day. Now, I make sure that I keep my mornings and evenings free to write and use the afternoon to get other stuff done–i.e. chores, errands, exercise, etc–and it’s been SOOOO NICE. I no longer spending hours in the afternoon, agonizing as I try and write and I’m also able to get more chores and things that I need to do in during the afternoons. I used to stress so hard about not writing in the afternoons because it felt like a “waste of time”, but now I know better–why force yourself to write and spend hours to get 1,000 words when you could do the same amount of work in less time if you write in the evening? Get my drift?? I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW!!!! I feel so free now and it’s been absolutely the best! Productivity is not a constant thing–it ebbs and flows–so make sure you utilize that and make it to your best advantage!

 

New Year’s Goals and Resolutions:

Writing

In terms of writing, my goal is simple!! I want to draft and revise another project! More specifically, the project I have dubbed Spirit Story!!! I am SOOOOOO excited for this story guys! The idea came to me not long ago while I was on the most beautiful hike I have ever been on (no exaggeration–though, granted, I guess I haven’t been on that many hikes, hehe) and it’s the most I’ve been excited about a project in a while now!! I’ll be starting brainstorming/outlining very soon and I’m super excited!! In fact, mayhaps I’ll start a Pinterest today… 😀 😀 😀

 

Reading

For 2018, my goals will pretty much be the same as it’s been for the past couple of years: I want to read more poetry and read outside my genre more! As I reviewed last year’s goals to see how much I had met, I found that I made the WORST GOALS EVER. They were waaaaay too general and I couldn’t tell if I had actually reached my goals because I had no way to quantify them. Hahaha! This time, I’m going to make more specific, quantifiable goals! I’ve made a TBR for the year of books that I want to get to in 2018!

In poetry, I want to read:

-Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

-The Sun and her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

-Williams Shakespeare’s Sonnets

-Two other poetry books

 

In fiction, I want to read: 

-The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

-Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (or really any Neil Gaiman)

-The Secret History by Donna Tartt

-The Rules of Magic Alice Hoffman

 

Favorite Reads of 2017

1. Windwitch by Susan Dennard

Is anyone surprised this made my favorite reads list? Heheh, I LOVE the Witchlands series and this was one of my most anticipated reads for 2017! I LOVED it so much!! My favorite scenes were the ones with Iseult and Aeduan and I could not put this book down. In fact, I had promised my mom earlier that I would come with her to take Nabi to the vet and then regretted it SO BADLY because I was interrupted during one of the most amazing chapters. I was so antsy to get back home and finish reading the book, hahah. Anyways, I LOVED this book and am dying for Bloodwitch (WHICH I AM SO EXCITED FOR BECAUSE AEDUAN!!!!!!!!)

2. The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken

This was the most unexpected book I loved this year! I struggle with middle grade books so I went into this book fully expecting not to like it–not because the story or writing was bad, but because I usually have a hard time getting into middle grade books and end up leaving them unfinished. OH MY GOODNESS!!! This book was SO GOOD. SOOOOO GOOD. I loved it so much and it’s become one of my favorite books ever! It was laugh-out-loud hilarious and reminded me so much of Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan. I cannot recommend this book to everyone!!! HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommended!!

3. The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon

I’m a huge fan of The Bone Season series by Samantha Shannon and this book was no different! Her books are so much fun, filled with tons of action, and I adored this one. This was a fabulous addition to the series and I cannot wait to read more!

4. A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

I read this early in 2017 and oh my goodness, I LOVED it. The story was amazing and I loved Vikram and Gauri (they had such great banter!) The world and atmosphere was gorgeous and fairytale-like and the prose was lush and glittering–basically filled with everything that I love in a story! SO GOOD.

5. Wintersong by S. Jae Jones

This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017 and it did not disappoint!!! It was a gorgeous, gorgeous story with captivating, lush prose. I LOVED this book so much! It had sooooo many Phantom of the Opera Easter Eggs and the Death and the Maiden trope is one of my favorites, so no surprise that this book was one of my favorite reads!

6. The Queen of the Tearling series by Erika Johansen

This was a series that I really wanted to get to in 2017 and I’m happy to say that I did!! While I found the first book rather difficult to get into, once I got into it, it was SOOOO GOOD. I blew through the entire series and even had to run out to get Fate of the Tearling after I finished the second one. To be completely honest, I was not a fan of the ending of the series, but regardless I really enjoyed these books a ton!

7. One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

Three Dark Crowns was one of my favorite reads of 2016 and One Dark Throne was the same! I love this series–Kendare creates amazing characters and it’s such a thrilling read from start to finish. I also had the joy of meeting Kendare this year and she’s AMAZING. She’s so kind and smart and funny and so personable. I totally fangirled and wish I could have talked to her more! Definitely one of my idols!!! *heart eyes*

8. Chime by Franny Bilingsley

This was a book recommended to me by my friend, Axie Oh, WOW!!!! It was an absolutely amazing read! I couldn’t stopping thinking about it and I was completely blown away! Absolutely LOVED this book and recommend it to everyone!

9. King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

I decided to reread The Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner this year and it had to have been the best decision I have ever made. I read these a long time ago when I was a kid and liked them, but I absolutely fell in love this time around. They’re incredibly clever and subtle books with incredible plot and characters. One of my absolute favorites. King of Attolia is my favorite of the series and tore me to pieces. I love this book more than words can say.

10. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

This was a gorgeous story with some of the most beautiful prose I have ever read. It was quite a bit slower than I’d anticipated and a different story than what I thought it was going to be (I was expecting a Death and the Maiden story, but it turned out to be something quite different), but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I find myself thinking about it quite often and craving a fairytale-esque story with beautiful atmosphere and language.

11. Walk of Shame by Lauren Layne

One of my new favorite authors I discovered this year! Lauren Layne creates the best characters ever (which is something I rarely say) and she subverts tropes in such an amazing way. I binge-read a ton of her books, but my favorite was Walk of Shame. It had a Darcy-esque love interest (ahhhhh!!! ❤ ❤ <3) and the most adorable heroine, who quickly became one of my FAVORITE characters I’ve ever read in a contemporary novel (and seriously, I rarely love characters this much!!!!) I will say that the pacing and emotional beats didn’t quite line up for me the way that I wanted, but I adored this book so much and highly recommend it if you’re a fan of romantic comedies!!!

 

Most Anticipated of 2018

1. Rise of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was an amazing read and I’m SO SO EXCITED for this companion novel!!! As you all know, I am a huge fairytale lover and I cannot wait to see what sort of twists and turns Julie is going to create in this story!!! SO EXCITED!!!!!!!

2. The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding #2 by Alexandra Bracken

I can’t wait for this book if you couldn’t already tell by my flailing above. I can’t wait to see what the next installment of this story will hold! I’m SO ready and can’t wait for the adventure and laughs that are sure to come!!!

3. My Plain Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows

I absolutely LOVELOVELOVE My Lady Jane–such a hilarious read in a world devoid of comedic fantasy novels!!!–and I’ve been waiting for My Plain Jane for what seems like a thousand years. I’m doubly excited for My Plain Jane because Jane Eyre is one of my favorites! I CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS!!!!!

4. The Bone Season #4 by Samantha Shannon

I’m always looking forward to the next Samantha Shannon book! She’s also working on another book–a fantasy about dragons–that I’m dying to read, but I don’t know if that’s a book that will be coming out this year? Anyways, I always want more Samantha Shannon!!!

5. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

I found out about this book a few days ago and FREAKED. As you might know, Uprooted is a favorite book of mine and I went around screaming like a headless chicken when I found out that Naomi Novik was writing another fairytale book!!! I. AM. SO. EXCITED. Spinning Silver is a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. I don’t know much more than that, but honestly, I don’t need to know more than it’s another Naomi Novik book!!! It comes out in July which is waaaaay too far away! I can’t wait!!

6. The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

I still have yet to read The Girl in the Tower, but regardless I know I’m going to crave more of Katherine Arden’s writing. I think I can safely say that I will want to read all of her books regardless of what she writes–though, I hope she writes more fairytale-esque books because they’re my favorite!!! *heart eyes* I also love that these books take place in a winter-y setting and seriously, the atmosphere is incredible!!! So lush and beautiful!

7. Blanca and Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

finally read my first Anna-Marie McLemore book this year (Wild Beauty) and it was just as gorgeous and lovely as people have been saying. I’m super excited to read her other books, The Weight of Feathers and When the Moon was Ours, as well as this new book coming out this year, which is a Swan Lake retelling!!!

8. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about this book–coming out tomorrow–and I can’t wait to read! I love books about faeries and I love Holly Black, so I know I’m going to love this one!! Can’t wait!!! In fact, I may run out tomorrow and get it!!!

9. Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes is one of my favorites and I’m DYING for this book!! Sabaa’s writing is simply exquisite and every single one of her stories is phenomenal, so no doubt this one is going to be amazing as well. I know it’s definitely going to be worth the long wait that we’ve had!!! CAN’TWAITCAN’TWAITCAN’TWAIT!!!!

 

Wow, this was a mighty long post!!! Hehe, I had fun writing it though and I hope you have fun reading it! I’m really excited for the new year and can’t wait to see what’s in store!!! Have a lovely new year everyone!!

 

 

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It’s Levi-OHHHH-sa, Not Levio-SAAAA

So I just very, very, very recently learned that Hermione was correcting the accents on Ron’s spell in the scene where they’re learning how to make things fly. When I heard this line in Harry Potter, I thought it the quote went more like:

“It’s Levi-OH-sa, not Leviosaur!”

Because you know… Apparently my brain can’t comprehend stuff. HAAAA!!!! So here I was, all this time, thinking that this spell sounded like a dinosaur.

ANYWAYS.

I recently went to Leviosa Con and thought I’d write up a post about it!

CONFESSION: My dear friend Janella (who you all probably know by now), wrote up her Leviosa post, and so, I had to write up one myself, so that I could one-up her!!! HA! Just kiddddddding!!! I COULD NEVER ONE-UP YOU, JUJUJUJUJUJUJU BEAR!!!!!! The real deal is that I was inspired to write my own post after I saw Janella’s!!!! 😀

(Okay, I did copy her title though, because it was WAAAY too good not to copy!!!! 😀 )

OH GOODNESS. I am TERRIBLE at staying on topic!!!!!!

Okay. Sooo.. Leviosa!!!!

It was sooooo much fun!!!! The best part, as always, is that I get to hang out with some of my amazing CPs/writing buddies, i.e. Maddy, Amanda, Akshaya, Axie, and Janella!!!! It’s kind of crazy the amount of silliness and goofiness and pure fun that goes on when we’re all together. But the good kind of crazy!! (I hope O__O!)

But it really was so much fun getting to meet and hang out with authors, meet new friends, and flail about Harry Potter and books in general!

Some of the crazy shenanigans that went on:

Maddy and Janella flew into SLC and we drove down to Vegas together!!! 
Obviously we had some fun times on the way down!!! 

 

Janella ROCKIN’ it and Amanda gettin’ down to business during one of our write seshes. 

 

This very creepy photo Janella took for the sake of keeping up our Snap Streak.

Having some serious fun as we sit in on some panels!! 

 

Amanda and I getting our Snap on with crazy eyes. 

The awesome Diversity Panel with our very own, Axie and Janella, who absolutely were AWESOME!!! (And of course, Sooz being so lovable and adorable as per her usual self!) 

 

A rare group photo that is not a crazy selfie. (Aks conspicuously missing… *clutchy face*!!!)

A beautiful Nevada sunset.

In which Manda Panda tries to eat Janella’s fingers. 

Me, Maddy, and–OMG PERCY WEASLEY!!!!

A distinctly uncomfortable Juju Bear.

And of course, one of THE best parts of going to cons is being able to meet your favorite, favorite author!!! SUSAN DENNARD!!!! The most amazing person in the world!!!

Roshani Chokshi, another amazing, amazing author and person. So kind and gracious and absolutely so beautiful!

Sooz killin’ it on her panel about Book Friendships!

Leviosa was such a fun experience! I got to spend ridiculous amounts of time flailing to authors that I love and chatting with some new friends! I also got to pitch to some agents, which was an incredible experience (which I may delve into further in a separate post!). I had the greatest time with my friends and while you’d think that we’d be sick of each other, we’re strangely not! I loved getting to spend endless hours with m’buddies!!!

After Leviosa ended, Janella and Maddy and I drove back up to Salt Lake, where we had another few days of mischief and mishaps together! Basically we went CRAZY and did puzzles as we watched Austenland and played with Nabi the Husky and meandered around Salt Lake City!

Just the sheer amount of power that lies within these two intense stares…

Schnuggles with Barnaby

Maddy and Janella looking oh-so-fine after our hike to Lisa Falls.

Photo-inception.

The faces that pretty sum up who we are.

Success s’mores with my CO-G, Janella!

Nabi attacking Juju Bear (but with good intentions!) 

Probably my favorite picture from Leviosa!!! The Cult as we try to take a ridiculous selfie!!!! <333333

Yay!! So that’s it for Leviosa!! Honestly, I’m not sure when the next shebang’s gonna be, but I miss these cult crazies already!! I’m not gonna lie–I PASSED out after Leviosa and definitely caught up on some very-much-needed sleep!!! It’s been nice getting back into routine and no doubt, we’ll be reunited sooner rather than later!!

Thanks for reading, guys!!! <3333

Pokemon Go Book Tag!

Pokemon Go is the RAGE lately and since I haven’t tried it out myself yet, I don’t quite “get” it. However, I’ve been told by my mother and brother that it is totally up my alley and that I would easily get addicted to it! I don’t know why I resist these things! I didn’t get a Snapchat for a while because I was driven away by the hype of it all, but it turns out that it’s mighty fun and I LOVE it! Haha… Anyways, I’m digressing…

My lovely friend Katy tagged me in the Pokemon Go book tag and as a Pokemon lover myself, I’m so excited for this one!

Rules a la Read at Midnight:

Nil! A linkback is appreciated, but not required. Feel free to use the graphics. Tag people or don’t tag people, just have fun!

YAY!!!! LET’S GET STARTED!!!!!

(Note: I didn’t do all of the tags listed on Read at Midnight, but if you want to take a look at all of them, it’s on the website!)

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I didn’t become an avid reader until I was in the fourth grade and my friend suggested I read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle! I read this one in just three days, which at the time was a neck-breaking pace for me! I had never been sucked into a book like this one and it changed my life forever! Before this book, I didn’t particularly love reading, nor did I hate it. A Wrinkle in Time is the book that got me into reading!

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Doi. Harry Potter. I know I’ve said this already, but I literally don’t go more than a few months without reading Harry Potter in some form. Lately, I’ve been addicted to the audiobooks read by Stephen Fry! (OMG he is brilliant and I love his voice so much!)

Another classic is, of course, Jane Austen. I love her books. My favorites are Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. I recently watched Austenland (a movie based on Shannon Hale’s novel of the same name) thanks to my boo Janella and LOVE IT! And of course, now it’s gotten me all in the Austen mood!

Speaking of Shannon Hale… Goose Girl remains one of my favorite books ever! It’s another one of those books that changed my life!

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I would have to go with Game of Thrones. Those books are MASSIVE. And as much amazing stuff I’ve heard about it, I’m not sure I completely want to read them.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is another one I haven’t yet read because of the size, but I’m determined to find the courage one day!

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Oh boy. Where to even start. I’m TERRIBLE at putting books down (or tv, or movies, or anything else addicting). I would have to go with The Hunger Games. I read this on January 19th, 2009 (which I only remember so specifically because it was a friend’s birthday and also MLK Day!) and I stayed up late even though I had school early the next morning and knew I would regret it!

Another one is Kings Rising by C.S. Pacat. It was one of those rare books that I had decided I would stay up the night for. Oh! And also Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, which I read all in one night! UGHHHHH SOOO GOOOD!!!!!

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OMG SO EASY! Kaz and Inej from Six of Crows. I can’t even tell you how much I love these two characters. I am forever mad at Katy for saying that Kaz could die and that Inej is too good for Kaz!!! *clutchy face* Okay, she does have a point, but STILL!! KATY HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO ME??? I’m dying as I wait for Crooked Kingdoms. But I will love Kaz and Inje forever!

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Hmm… I know I notice slow-paced reads, but I don’t notice fast-paced reads that much… I think I’ll go with Truthwitch again, which I have been told by friends is a fast-paced read (though, hehe, I didn’t really notice it myself!) Or maybe The Hunger Games again? That one definitely read fast!

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HAAAAAAAA! This is actually one of my biggest pet peeves. I HATE it when I see more and more and yet more books being added to a series that I thought was supposed to end. I very much like getting a conclusion and knowing that one day, I will put a book down and that will be all. I’m also not a fan of spin-offs that seem to sprout endlessly. Again, I like seeing new ideas and new worlds from authors, books, tv shows, etc, and when I see the same thing over and over again, I get tired of it.

So the answer to this is: NOTHING.

(Hahah, and sorry for the extra dose of vehemence. I am just VERY PASSIONATE about this topic!!!)

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Six of Crows!!! The first time I read this book, I don’t know… Maybe I was reading at the wrong time, maybe I just needed more time to process, but I didn’t LOVE it. I liked it just well enough, but I didn’t feel that burning passion. However, I re-read it just a few weeks ago and OMG IT KILLED ME. It’s rare that the second time I read a book blows me away more than the first, but Leigh Bardugo has done it (and if anyone could have done it, it was Leigh!)! I’m now so so so in love with this book and I don’t think LOVE is a strong enough word to describe how I feel about it. I’m absolutely over-the-top blown away and I have such strong, intense feelings for this book (and Leigh). I don’t understand how I read this the first time and didn’t die. It’s so weird.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik is another book that took me by surprise. I picked it up on a whim when I saw it on display at the bookstore because I’d been seeing it around so much. Nevertheless, I didn’t think I would like it that much but… OH MY GOODNESS. It was FABULOUS. I got sucked in from the very first chapter and it is one of my favorite books now! I cannot explain how gloriously good it is! I immediately shoved it into any book nerd’s arms I could find!!! (Oh and if YOU haven’t read it yet, YOU BETTER!!!!!!)

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Hmm… Another hard one… I think I’m fairly good at staying on top of reading hyped books, but maybe To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han?? I’ve been meaning to read that one for a while now and I’m super excited since it features a Korean main character!! Yay!!!

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OOH!!!! I’m very excited for Caraval by Stephanie Garber! I’ve been hearing some excellent, excellent things about it and it sounds like a phenomenal read with amazing Night Circus vibes!

I’m also excited to read The Reader by Traci Chee, which I have heard has gorgeous writing, much like Renee Ahdieh (AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!).

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OOH!!!! Leigh Bardugo, Susan Dennard, Marie Rutkoski, and Renee Ahdieh would probably be my auto-buy authors! I love them all so much and trust them to write amazing stories that I will no doubt fall in love with!!!

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I would probably have to go with Kristin Cashore! I LOVE her Graceling series, particularly Fire, and am eagerly awaiting her new book!!! And I haven’t been waiting forever in terms of actual time, but I CANNOT wait for new books from Renee Ahdieh and Marie Rutkoski now that their series have ended. And as I said before, I’m DROWNING in the anticipation of Crooked Kingdom and where is Windwitch already?? SO EXCITED for all these authors!!!!

 

WHEEEE!!! That was so much fun and it actually went SO FAST! Yay!!!

Hope you guys had as much fun as I had!

And I’m going to tag my friends Mic, Michelle, and Janella!!!

Draft 4 Status: DONE

Hey guys!!!!!

Just a quick to note to say… OMG I FINISHED DRAFT 4!!!! I’m not quite sure how it happened, considering I thought I was hard-pressed to finish by this week, but somehow, I powered through it last night (seriously, I worked for about eight non-distracted hours–how did that happen??? I don’t know!!) and I finished!!!!! WOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

Yay!! I’m super excited!!! Again, there are sooooooo many things I still need to work on. Namely, the ending… It’s still a bit rushed and needs some flushing out… The magic system thingy, which I have still not quite figured out yet… And I think I need to use some Scrivener magic to see if the subplots and the character relationships are working as I need them and see if the pacing is smooth…

But OMG!!! It’s coming together!!! (I think… I hope!!!) My biggest fear with revising was that I would be incapable of making anything better and instead just turn my ms into a different, but equally sucky draft. Actually, my lovely friend, Amanda, sums this up quite well in her recent blog post! This was the exact conundrum I faced… Clearer on 1? Or 2? Or 3? Or 1849295798978?? Haaaaa. But like I said, I think it is getting better a little bit at a time and that makes me happy!

And now that Draft 4 is done, I’m going to take a few days off and BINGE-READ ERRRRRRRTHING!!!!! I’m reading Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry right now (OMG who is such a darling and I LOVE her–RT recap post to come!) and I think I’ll read Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman (I’ve been meaning to read this book for ages!)… And then… Cold Magic by Kate Elliott, which was highly highly recommended to me by one of my favorite people in the world, Katy (AKA Pool de Ghoul, AKA Poolie Ghoulie)!!!!!!!! I was pretty much sold when she said that there was an arranged marriage in there. Muahahahah!!!! Love me some arranged marriages. Also fake marriages. And other things to do with marriage. I don’t know why that particular trope appeals to me so much, but haaaaa, I guess you guys can expect one from me in the future!!! *wink wink* 😉

Anyways, I feel like I’m getting off track, so to sum up: Draft 4 is done, binge-reading extravaganza is in place, excited to get back to the story with Draft 5 and get this Faery Story as good as I can get it!!! And most of all, I’m excited about it. Yay!!!!

Ooh, one quick note, my friend Akshaya has a cool post on her blog as well about critique partners, in which I contribute a few notes!!!! So give that a read, if you so feel like it! 😀

All right, over and out!! See ya guys later!!! 😀 😀 😀

 

A Love Letter to The Winner’s Curse

As you might know, I’m a huge fan of The Winner’s Curse trilogy by Marie Rutkoski. And having read the last book in the series, The Winner’s Kiss, just about a week ago, I think I might actually be dead. I don’t think there are words for how much I love these books.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Kestrel and Arin since I finished the book. In fact, immediately after I finished The Winner’s Kiss, I opened up The Winner’s Curse and started rereading. Which is funny because that is exactly what happened last year when I finished The Winner’s Crime. These seem to be books that my love only grows stronger for with time and with each new book that comes out, which I think is a rarity. I’ve come to love The Winner’s Curse so much. I feel overwhelmed with how much these books mean to me and I cannot believe how much I love them.

While I had a couple books that I’d planned to read after finishing The Winner’s Kiss, I just don’t think I can do it. I’m still so stuck in this world that I can’t possibly move on yet. So inevitably, I’ll be ditching my current queue of books lined up for me and rereading The Winner’s Crime and possibly even The Winner’s Kiss and then maybe even back around full circle to The Winner’s Curse.

But most importantly, The Winner’s Curse is inspiring my writing so much. It’s not just the beautiful prose, but the way the plot was executed, the way the characters think, the subtleties, the incredible world-building. Everything about it is inspiring so much. I want to soak it all up. I feel SO INSPIRED right now.

I don’t think it’s too often when I (or really anybody else) feel this way. Sometimes there are books I love, but just instinctively know that I would never be able to write like that (ex: Maggie Stiefvater. I LOVE her books, but I know for a fact that I could never write like her), other times there are books where you enjoy the story, but the writing doesn’t quite speak to you, and then there are times when the story and writing just completely blows you away. Books like The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh or Truthwitch by Susan Dennard.

It’s always rare to find a book that changes your life. You might read A TON, but there are so many books that you connect with completely and that change your life! I feel like I have been changed by The Winner’s Curse. Both in terms of writing and reading. Like I said, I can’t even begin to explain how much I love these books. I really don’t know how except in incessant sobbing. I’m so incredibly excited to meet Marie Rutkoski in just a few days now. I am not exaggerating in the least when I say that I’m going to be crying all over her. (Oh, and to compound that, I’ll also be meeting Renee Ahdieh, so even more tears.)

BUT OMG GUYS THIS BOOK THIS BOOK THIS BOOK!!!!! (Here come the waterworks!) How will I ever get over this? Sniff. Help!

Well, thanks for trudging through this insane amount of rambling! (What a great start to a Friday!!!!)

And I’d love to know, what are some books that have greatly inspired you???

Life Update: Oct/Nov/Dec/Jan/Feb/March

Woooooooow, it has been FOREVER since I’ve last posted on my dear poor blog and even longer since I’ve done an update! Haha, man, I was on such a great blogging streak for a while there, but it looks like I’ve fallen off the wagon!! Anyways, here is a long, overdue blog post on what’s been going on in my life!

What I’m Writing: 

Faerie Story, what else?!! It really does seem like I’ve been working on this story for about forever. In fact, I started drafting this project just about a year ago (January 2015) and while I took breaks to work on other projects, I’m now spending all my energy on getting this thing into tiptop shape!!! Right now, I’m revising Faerie Story and by revising, I really mean rewriting for the third time. I didn’t actually mean/think I had to rewrite it again, but it kind of turned out that way and I’m actually very okay with it (I’ve probably already told you guys this and forgot I told you guys this… but whatever!!!). I feel like the story is FINALLY on track and going the way I always wanted it to. I feel like I’m falling in love with this story all over again and I’m excited that it’s FINALLY coming together. It’s been a very long process, but I hope in the end, I’ll have something that I can be proud of. I’m super close to being done with Draft #3 and while I missed my deadline (end of February), I’m just happy that it’s almost done. Hopefully after this round, it will truly be revising and not rewriting… again. I’ve still got tons and tons and tons of work ahead of me, but I’m optimistic!!

What I’m Reading: 

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Tides by Betsy Cornwell

I finished Tides just last night! My lovely CP Amanda (AKA MANDA PANDA) actually sent this book to me (and made me cry and sob and feel all good inside) because she knows I’m pretty obsessed with anything to do with mermaids or half-human/half-seacreature stories!! (I KNOW, ISN’T SHE THE BEST? GREAT, THANKS AMANDA, I’M GETTING ALL EMOTIONAL AGAIN!!!!) But I loved Tides! I had such nostalgia for it even though it was my first time reading it because it is exactly the kind of book I would have picked up when I was a kid. It had everything that I wanted and left me with such a good feeling.

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Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

Blackhearts was also any amazing read!!!! I had heard good things about this book and so naturally, I was a little wary of the hype. But no worries! I LOVED it!!!! The writing style (though still very clearly YA) totally reminded me of Jane Austen. I loved the hate-to-love romance with Teach and Anne and the entire story took me by such lovely surprise! Highly recommend to everyone!!!

These are my most recent book loves, but other books I’ve read and LOVED LOVED LOVED over the past few months: Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin, Kings Rising by CS Pacat, Passenger by Alexandra Bracken, and Truthwitch by Susan Dennard.

My Current Music Obsession:

My music seems to be rotating through three things: Taylor Swift, Big Bang, and The Phantom of the Opera, which happens to be my most recent obsession. I’ve been listening to The Point of No Return on repeat for days now and I’m still not over it. Of course, I’m perpetually obsessed with Phantom, but I’m not sure what triggered my most recent round. Anyways, I’ve been watching this version with Sierra Boggess and Ramin Karminloo a lot, a lot.

 

What I’m Watching:

I recently finished rewatching Arrested Development for about the bajillionth time (yes, I have FINALLY FINALLY moved on from Friends… for now…) and now I’m rewatching Parks and Recreation. OH MY GOODNESS!!!! I forgot how great Parks and Recreation was!!!! For some reason, I still haven’t watched the very last season (I don’t know, maybe I’m in denial) but I figured, I’ll start at the beginning and finally make my way through to the end!!! Love Leslie Knope, love Amy Poehler, love this show so much!!!! I can’t believe that I ever forgot how hilarious it is!!!!

What’s Happening:

Merh…. Not much? Still been working, still been doing the same old, same old routine. I’ve been going to lots of fun book events where I’ve met SO MANY lovely people and authors and found a great community of readers and writers that I didn’t even know was there. I’ve met new friends and writers and I’m so excited about it!!

I got my rejections for PT school, which is kind of a bummer, but honestly I’m okay with it.  I’ve got a good plan for what I’m doing to strengthen my application, which unfortunately means taking some more classes (meh) during this summer, but it definitely won’t be bad at all! I’ll probably also be doing some volunteering and whatnot!

Well, that’s pretty much all that’s been going on with me! I’m hoping that once these revisions are finished I’ll have a lot more time to commit to my blog, but… don’t get your hopes up quite yet 🙂

All righty! Thanks for reading everybody!!! I’ll see you again soon (I hope!!!)!!

Girl In A Dress

EDIT: I’m coming a little late to the party, but in case you haven’t heard the incredibly good news, THE WINNER’S KISS WILL BE RELEASED IN THE ORIGINAL COVER!!! Read here! I’m so so happy about the news! I actually think I almost cried when I heard it! Thank you so much to FSG/Macmillan/Fierce Reads for listening to the readers’ comments and deciding to release the hardcover of The Winner’s Kiss in the original cover!

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Writing this rage-infested post in the wee early hours of the morning because 1) My dog woke me up and 2) My rage can no longer be tamped down.

As you know if you were around the Interweb yesterday, THIS happened.

Sigh. As a general rule, it’s never cool to have a mid-series cover change. But it happens. The Shatter Me trilogy, the Across the Universe trilogy, the Cahill Witch Chronicles series, the Dissonance books are just a few examples that come to mind. Sometimes I welcome these changes (as I did with Shatter Me and Dissonance), but more often than not, it just becomes a big hassle and an OCD nightmare when your hardcover books no longer match.

I’m going to start by saying I absolutely LOVED the original Winner’s Curse covers. They’re actually one of my favorite covers ever and I’ll admit it’s part of why I was turned on to the series when it first came out. I think they’re incredibly gorgeous and I would have never thought they’d do a cover change with these books.

 

Another qualm I have: It’s three months to its release date. That’s right, The Winner’s Kiss comes out in a measly three months. The beautiful cover for the third book had already been released months ago and I’d been looking forward to buying my gorgeous hardcopy. So the fact that readers are in a rage having been presented with a new cover all of a sudden is no surprise.

But my biggest problem with the cover change: They were changed for the sole reason of making Kestrel look more bad***. (Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find the Tweet in which this was stated, but that really was the reason that prompted this cover change.) That was just such a disappointment for me. The new covers show Kestrel in a much more warrior-tinted light. The new covers are generic and many are saying they are cheap Throne of Glass ripoffs (which I can’t help but agree with). The new covers no longer have the beautiful subtleties of the original covers. They no longer convey the dangerous, yet beautiful tone of the book. They no longer have the layers of depth that I saw in the original covers that echoed the story.

Worst of all, the new covers go against Kestrel’s character. If you’ve read The Winner’s Curse (which you should by the way), you’ll know that Kestrel is not a fighter. It is one of the things that I love about Kestrel. Her strengths come from her intelligence and cunning versus her physical strength. She is actually rather bad at fighting and avoids it when she can because she knows that’s not where she excels. Her keen observations are what get her places, her ability to put two and two together quickly when most people don’t, her mind, her talents as a strategist, her cleverness–that is what makes her strong. And so the fact that the new covers were redesigned to make her look more bad*** warrior fighting princess is an incredible disappointment and such an offense to who her character is.

There’s a scene in the book (look away now if you don’t care for this minor spoiler) where Kestrel is forced into a duel with someone she knows is physically stronger than her and more trained. She knows well that she won’t be able to win using just her fighting skills, which are lacking. So instead, she does something else. Earlier on in the book, there are very keen observations that she makes and using that information, she is able to deduce a great secret of his to blackmail him into throwing the duel.

How is that not bad***?

There always seem to be complaints about covers with “a girl in a dress.” And I understand. After seeing a thousand covers with girls in dresses, it can get tiresome. I understand that right now “Katniss”-type characters are in vogue and publishers want to capitalize on that. I get that right now what’s popular and what appeals to readers is a main character that can swing swords and chop off head with machetes and stab bad guys with knives. Which is great and I love that and that’s totally fine when that is who the character is. But I think people are forgetting that that’s not the only character you can have and those types of physically strong, fighting characters are not the only characters who are strong.

There is a terrible stereotype that a “girly girl” or a “girl in a dress” is not capable of being strong. This right here is one of my biggest ever pet peeves. While in many ways I consider myself somewhat of a tomboy, I also love wearing dresses, I love painting my nails and putting on make-up. I love buying pretty jewelry and wearing fancy high heels. But I also don’t mind squashing spiders and punching my brother when he’s annoying and being a total slob sometimes. One of my favorite types of people are actually people who seem really “girly” but then turn out to be the toughest people I’ve ever met who don’t shy away from anything. Strength and “girliness” are not mutually exclusive and the implication that it is annoys the crap out of me, especially because I feel as though I have both a “girly” side and a “tomboyish” side.

And while we’re on the subject… About a week ago, I posted The Lunar Chronicles on my bookstagram, asking people which was their favorite book. I was surprised when someone said that they hated Winter, which is fine because everyone has their likes and dislikes, but what bothered me was the reason I was given for hating this book. The commenter said that they hated Winter because she was such a weak character and mentioned (look away again if you haven’t read Cinder!) that if Cinder marries Kai and goes off to live with him in the Commonwealth versus ruling Luna on her own, they were going to be enraged.

In a way, I understand what this person was saying. But I also personally feel as though this is a really one-sided, shallow way to think. Cinder would never be a character that I would call “weak” in whatever sense of the word. She’s pretty tough and certainly knows her way around her machinery. But the implication that if she marries someone she loves and chooses to be with him suddenly makes her weak and woefully dependent? That doesn’t sit right with me. First of all, if Cinder does choose to (look away!) not to rule Luna, I think it makes perfect sense. She has never wanted to be a princess and the only reason why she did choose to come into her birthright was to stop Queen Levana. She never asked to rule Luna and she has never wanted to. So what if she wants to give that duty up to someone else and live with Kai and continue her work as the best mechanic in all of New Beijing? Why should she have to rule Luna in order to maintain her status as a “strong” character when that goes against her desires? It would be completely different if Cinder had wanted to rule Luna and was forced out of it by Kai, but that’s not the case here. Cinder makes her own decisions and if she doesn’t want to rule Luna, so be it!

Point number 2: Winter is weak. Why? How? Again, in some ways, I get it. But, again, it’s what enrages me. Why is she thought to be a weak character? Because she doesn’t physically fight the bad guys? Just because she’s scared and shows it, that automatically makes her weak? What about her kindness? What about how she never uses her Lunar powers because she refuses to become like Levana, despite the fact it’s destroying her? What about having lived with Levana all her life and suffered greatly, yet is not bitter nor heartless? Wouldn’t you consider that a strength?

I really do think kindness is underrated. In many ways kindness is thought to be a weakness (at least in fiction) and that to be kind is to be stupid or somehow lower. But the people I admire most in life are the people who are kind and especially the people who are kind and positive even when they are in pain (working at a PT clinic, these are really the kinds of people you come to love and admire.)

And same with Cress. Yes, she cowers and shakes and hides behind Thorne, but despite how afraid she is, she doesn’t back down. She does what she needs to because she knows people are relying on her. She comes through, she faces the bad guys despite how much it scares her. Don’t you think that makes her braver than someone who faces the bad guy with no fear at all? Because she’s shy, that makes her weak?

Strength does not have to be physical strength. That is not the only kind of strength that should be valued.

Remember that there is an entire spectrum of characters. It’s not either Bella* or Katniss. There’s Kestrel and Fire and Cress and Celaena and Alina and Laia and June. They all have their strengths and their weaknesses. They all struggle with different things. They all have different personalities. They are all different characters and people. They don’t have to be one or the other. Do all characters have to be as a cold as Katniss to be considered strong? Because Bella wants to get married to the love of her life, she is considered weak?

(*Also, what’s wrong with Bella? Yes, she’s not as independent and proactive as many other characters, but that’s the thing–there are all different types of characters. What about her fierce desire to protect her family? What about her willingness to sacrifice herself for those she loves? Why should one be thought of as better than the other? I totally get it if she’s not the character for you, but just remember that she, too, has her strengths as well as her weaknesses.)

I think things like this become a problem when we see too much of one character and people forget that there are other people, personalities, and characters. I think things like this become a problem when one character is revered and another is demeaned. There definitely can be infuriating characters and annoying characters and stupid characters and characters you hate and that purely comes down to opinion, but I think it’s always good to keep in mind that there is no one ultimate character. There can be all sorts of heroines who are all amazing and awesome and strong for different reasons, but amazing and awesome and strong all the same.

So, for the end of this very long post, I want to give some recommendations of books that I have enjoyed that don’t feature a physically strong character and may even wear dresses all the time.

Fire by Kristin Cashore – featuring Fire, a beautiful “monster” who uses her abilities to fight for her kingdom.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – featuring Laia, a girl set out to find and rescue her captured brother.

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh – featuring Shazi, a girl who seeks revenge against a king that killed her friend.

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoksi – featuring Kestrel, a girl who uses her wits, cunning, and intelligence to outmaneuver her enemies.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik – featuring Agneiszka, a girl who uses her magic to save her village from the corrupted Woods.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi – featuring Aria, a Dweller who knows nothing of the outside world that goes on a journey to rescue Perry’s nephew.

Across a Star Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund – featuring Persis, a girl who pretends to be stupid to hide the fact that she is secretly a rebel going on missions to rescue people about to be executed.

Mulan – Okay, so not a book, but awesome all the same. Featuring, Mulan, who saved all of China, in a dress I might add.

(I highly suggest reading Across a Star Swept Sea, which despite being amazing and an incredible read, is rather unknown.)

What are your recommendations? What are your thoughts about this?