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!!!

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Recap of RT16 and Book Con!!!

Woo hee… So it’s been a couple of months since I last posted on the blog… Hehe, guess things just got away from me! Anyways, as you might know, I was lucky enough to be able to go to the infamous Romantic Times Convention (which took place in Las Vegas!) as well as Book Con, which I got to attend rather unexpectedly! Sooooo, here’s a bit of a recap of what went on!

RT16: 

Ever since I found out about RT (which was like… last year-ish), I have always wanted to go!! I mean, a place where writers and authors come together in a giant explosion of books?? YASS!!!! The perfect place! So when I heard it was in Vegas this year (a paltry six hours from my awesome hometown of SLC!), I knew I wanted to go! Then BLAM! Some of my greatest friends and beautimous CPs who went last year (Maddy, Akshaya, and Janella) said it was a such an awesome experience and pretty quickly, we decided that we would all go to RT together!!! Which is a bajillion times more fun than going by yourself!

To say the least, I had a pretty awesome time!!!! I got to meet up with some of my favorite favorite people in the world, AKA Maddy, Janella, Akshaya, and Katy!!!!

I really don’t understand why we don’t all live together yet in a giant cabin up in the woods writing and laughing all the time! Hands down, my favorite part of any conventions like these is getting to spend time with my amazing CPs. Seriously. I have SO. MUCH. FUN. with them every time we meet up. What was awesome about RT was that I finally got to spend more than an hour with my friend, Katy, and spend more than 12 hours with Akshaya! I got to spend some quality time with Maddy schwimming to and fro, talking about our mss and life and books in general. And of course, as usual, much, much, much laughter ensued with Janella and me.

Here is some photographic evidence 🙂 :

 

Akshaya, Katy, Janella, and moi making our beautiful faces shine

Janella and me living our Masquerade Dream at the hotel grocery store while Katy and Akshaya were shopping

 

 

Another amazing thing about RT was that I got to meet some of my very favorite favorite authors in the world and literary heroes, AKA RENEE AHDIEH AND MARIE RUTKOSKI!!!!!!!!! OMG I THINK I DIED!!!!!! I fangirled SO HARD. It was such an amazing experience to meet these two writers. Haha, I think everyone knows here how much I freaking love The Wrath and the Dawn and The Winner’s Trilogy. They are HUGE inspirations of mine and it was ridiculous that I actually got to meet them. I made a complete fool out of myself and Renee and Marie probably think I’m CRAZY… But really… What did you expect?? Heheh…

 

 

Wheeee!!! Alex Bracken!!! Always so adorable and cute!!!!! 

The Infamous Victoria Aveyard!!!!! She probably thought I was a real creeper given the way I kept waving to her randomly every time I saw her! 

Holy Moly, guys!!!! TAMORA PIERCE!!!!!! A legend!!!! (SUCH a funny lady, by the way!!!) 

And one of my favorite people in the world, Leigh Bardugo!!!! I love her so much!!! 

And OMG OMG OMG IT’S ME WITH MARIE RUTKOSKI GUYS!!!!!!! I’m literally tearing up as I write this!!!! *sobface*!!! 


And then, another favorite part of RT… MEETING NEW PEOPLE!!!! I met my new favorite peoples in the world, Axie and Kat!!! They are AWESOME!!!! We had so much fun with them and seriously, it felt like we’d all been friends for a long time even though it had been less than a day that we’d met (erm… does that sound weird??? Also, Kat and Axie, if you’re reading this, I hope you don’t find it weird that we all obsessed over you two… O___O )

 

 

Photo Booth fun with the RT Gang! 

And a picture of us having fun as we wait in line!!! 😀 (Akshaya had to snatch the phone away from me to take this picture because I am so abominably SUCKY at taking selfies, hahaha!!!!)

To sum up, I had the greatest time at RT! I can’t believe all the authors we got to meet and the various people that we met! I’m so excited about it still and I cannot wait until next year, which I would very much like to go to if at all possible (CURSE YOU REAL LIFE AND WORK!!!)!!!

Onto Book Con!!!!

Book Con 2016: 

I just got back from Book Con yesterday and BOY am I tired. I definitely need to rejuvenate and recover from that crazy weekend, but like RT, I had the greatest time in the world!!! I’m so sad that I couldn’t stay longer (again–CURSE YOU REAL LIFE AND WORK!!!!). I actually hadn’t planned on going because I had already taken too many days off from work, but for once, the Universe blessed me and it turned out that the clinic was going to be closed May 13th and 14th…. Which just happened to be when Book Con was!!! So, I threw caution to the wind and hopped on a plane to Chicago where I was met by my beautiful friends Maddy and Janella (who also, on a whim, hopped on a plane to Chicago… I like to say that Janella was so much obsessed with me that when she heard I was going, she just had to copy me and go to 😉 JUST KIDDING, JUJU BEAR!!!! I LOVE YOU!!!)

I digress… Anyways! It was SOOO MUCH fun!!!! Again, my favorite part was hanging out with my greatest friends in the world!!!! Maddy and Janella were there, but guess who else was there??? OMG OUR NEW BFF KAT!!!!! Yup! The Kat from RT. To say the very least, we four had an outrageous time meeting authors, getting books signed, and general madness/happiness in general.

I also got to meet a few more writerly friends that I have known online for a while, but had never met before, including my flailing partner/CP, Mic!!!!!!!! For unfortunate reasons, our timing never worked out well so that we got to hang out, but luckily, we ran into each other during lunch and YAY GOT TO MEET FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!!!! Seriously so awesome!!!! And we also got to meet Meg!!!! She has awesome pink hair and red glasses and is freaking adorable!! Again, due to unfortunate planning, we only got to hang out for a very short period of time, but HEY! That just means we’ll all have to get together sometime in the future to make up for it!!! (Also due to some more unfortunate circumstances, I forgot to get a picture with these two awesome ladies… NEXT TIME!!!)

Woo hoo!! Here’s some more photographic evidence for you all!!!!

 

Our demon-eyed gang (and demon-eyed photobomber, whom Janella shrewdly brought to our attention)

 

Maddy posing beautifully on her Beauty and the Beast-esque ladder bookshelf. 

Janella and Kat, plus me and Maddy’s arms 🙂

A super blurry picture of Maddy and me!!! 

Lady Elizabeth, Maddy’s kitty, who I have decided is the cutest cat in the world and I love her to death. 

The reason I love Sooz so much

Janella and me as at the famous Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville!!!!! 

Sushi dinner before going to the Sarah J. Maas signing!!!! 

Bahahah, one of my favorite pictures from Book Con!!!! > . <

Aaaaah!!! Sarah J. Maas!!!! (And before you even ask, OF COURSE I acted like a complete blathering idiot in front of her!!!)

 
Gotta say, I’ve been having the best time this year getting to hang out with my friends that are across the country. And of course, I can’t wait until July when we get together once more for Leviosa Con!!! EEEEEE!!! Until then, we’ll just have to stick to our usual Skyping Thudnights 😀

Yay!! I hope you guys enjoyed this!!! See ya later!!!

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!!!)!!

End of the Year that was 2015

Wow, 2015 just flew by. I can’t believe how amazing the year was. 2015 was always a year I really, really looked forward to because of this movie right here.

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I don’t know why that struck me so much, but it did and ever since I was a kid, I eagerly awaited for 2015 to arrive (mainly because I really wanted a hoverboard). So I went into the year with high hopes and you would think it wouldn’t meet my expectations, but guess what? It was such such a good year! I had an amazing year that I can’t even believe.

Last year (2014), I had just started writing. I didn’t know anything and I had no clue what I was doing. With the help of many, many blogs, I wrote my first draft of my first ever book (my Peter Pan story), clocking in at 98,000 words. It was terrible, but I did it.

I found out about critique partners and went on my search for some writer friends. I met a bunch of nice people, but it eventually fizzled out. But lucky for me, somewhere around June, Janella emailed me and she became one of my first CPs ever that stuck.

Around this same time, I started going to book events because I realized Hey! My local indy bookstore has a ton of really cool author events! I met Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia, Shannon Hale (my personal hero), and Ally Condie at my very first local book event in May and had an amazing time.

Since then, I’ve been going to as many book events as possible. In 2015, I met so many great authors–Samantha Shannon, Mindy McGinnis, Jodi Meadows, Cynthia Hand, Marissa Meyer, Sarah J. Maas, Leigh Bardugo, and more. Book events, it turns out, are incredible and it’s amazing to be able to get to meet the writers of all these books.

In retrospect, I can’t believe that I’d been living in Salt Lake City for so long and had never gone to a book event.

At the beginning of 2015, I made a goal to draft two new books. And I did! When I made that original goal, I thought it would be a stretch goal–something that I might achieve, but likely wouldn’t.

I’ve learned so much about writing this year and it’s been amazing. I’ve learned that I can draft 100k in six weeks if I put my mind to it–something that I had thought was impossible. And though I have not ever officially participated, I know that I could win NaNo, which was another think that I had thought was impossible for me. I learned that I can revise. I learned so much more about what my writing process is like (separate post possibly to come 😉 ) and learned so much about what kind of person I am and what things I need when I write.

Life-wise, I applied to PT school (A;SLFKJA;SDLKFHA;SDJF;;kJ;lsdfasd!!!) and got a new job at another PT clinic, which is the best decision I made and I’m so happy and grateful that I chose to leave my other clinic. My brother got his new dog, a cute but very crazy husky puppy, who has been wreaking havoc in the house, but in the cutest way possible so she’s forgiven.

Reading-wise, I’m blown away. I don’t know what it was about this year, but I read so, so many amazing books. UprootedThe Wrath and the Dawn, An Ember in the Ashes, The Bone Season, Winter, Queen of Shadows, A Court of Thorns and Roses, Finnikin of the Rock, The Winner’s Crime, Six of Crows–so many that I couldn’t possibly name them all without shamefully forgetting a ton.

But, hands down, the best thing about 2015 is all the amazing people I met. Last year, I had no one to talk about books with. I would read a book, love it, but had no one to discuss it with. I knew no one that read as much as I did or loved reading as much as I did. But now, I have so many people to discuss books and writing with and it’s the most wonderful thing ever.

I have all my beautiful thudsters (you know who you are) to talk and text with. I have my friend, Mic, to obsess and fangirl over The Lunar Chronicles and An Ember in the Ashes, and basically ALL THE BOOKS with. I have my friend, Hikari, to go to book events with, and then all the wonderful people that I’ve met from bookstagram.

Sure, I’ve had my ups and downs–my dog getting sick, my car tire getting blown out, getting into my first ever car accident–but all in all, I can’t complain.

I’m looking forward to 2016 so much. I know it’s going to be a great year as well. Already, I’m looking forward to so many great book events, amazing books (TRUTHWITCH TRUTHWITCH TRUTHWITCH!!!!!), and tons and tons of more writing.

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?