October ’16 Wrap Up

octwrapI did not read many books in October, because I was swamped by assigned class readings for German lit., film studies, and my quantitative research methods class. But I loved what books I did end up reading, so I decided to do a short reading wrap up! As always, my thoughts are spoiler-free, so I hope you enjoy and maybe decide to pick any of these books up for yourself in the future.

What I Read

It felt like I have been waiting for Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (★★★★★to come out all year, probably because I read Six of Crows early in 2016. Oh, man, it did not disappoint. It actually did take me a bit long to read it because of school business and life stress, but that did not damper my love of this book. This book was everything it needed to be for me to love it and more! I’m so sad it’s over!

The second book I finished this month was another I also technically started in September called Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom by bell hooks (★★★★½). This book was utterly inspiring as someone who truly values the power of education and wants to help bring down racial and class barriers that trouble our society. I found it very inspiring for how I want to teach one day.

It took me a while to finish reading Crooked Kingdom and Teaching to Transgress, so by the end I really felt like I needed a break from any extra reading that wasn’t required. The weekend I was asked to house-sit for my parents I decided to finally crack open Slasher Girls and Monster Boys edited by April Genevieve Tucholke (★★★★), which I bought last year. It was exactly what I needed to pull me out of my reading slump. I absolutely adored a handful of the stories and the others which I liked and disliked to varying degrees kept my attention so I really appreciated this book when I read it.

The final book I finished in October was Cat and Mouse by Günter Grass (★★★★½) which was required reading for my German lit. class. It did not take too long read, but it took longer than I thought it would. The writing style was unusual so I often found myself needing to reread sections. But ultimately I think I really like this book, even while I feel a lot has gone over my head. It’s definitely one to be reread, and one I want to reread! Having now gone to class and had our conversations about it (my professor knew the author personally!), I’m eager to read The Tin Drum, which may be Grass’ more famous work; it sounds equally intriguing.

CURRENTLY READING

There are four books I’m “technically” reading on Goodreads! They included two for my German lit. class: Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann and the play The Man Outside by Wolfgang Borchert. Then I’m eager to start my reread of The Queen of the Tearling because the final book in the trilogy debuts at the end of November and I want everything to be fresh in my head. Also I consider Johansen’s writing an inspiration for how I’d like to write. Finally, I’m spreading out my reading of Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture by Henry Jenkins et al. This book I think will be influential to my research so I’m excited to read it, as I’m familiar with Jenkins’ work and may be applying to the school where he works (more on this development later)!

Thank you for reading!
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3 Tips for NaNoWriMo ’16

tape3tipsHappy Halloween!

I hope you find yourself having a little more fun than I am on this little holiday. I have a class tonight that I will need to attend, but before that I actually plan to have an early “Pre-NaNoWriMo Kick-Off Party” with my writing buddy between 4:30 p.m. when she gets home from work and 6:50 p.m. which is literally the latest I can wait before I need to dash off to class. We plan to do writing sprints over Skype and basically just get a headstart on NaNoWriMo because we’re old-timers now and can’t stay up till midnight to start writing. (Well, I could. But I won’t want to!)

I’m so excited she’s decided to participate this year, even though she’s more on the revising side of writing right now. We’re going to try to Skype every Tuesday, Thursday, and one weekend day each week and be accountable to ourselves to reach our respective goals.

As I’ve been horrible about blogging this past month, I did want to make sure to do a little post that hopefully you will find helpful if you’ve decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. If you haven’t heard of it, basically the goal is to write 50,000 words by the end of the month (here’s a LINK to the official website where you can learn more and make an account, and/or ADD ME as a buddy). It’s not to late to decide to participate if you haven’t already! It’s low risk (no one will publicly shame you if you don’t win) and offers high rewards (in the form of a novel draft).

I’ve managed to condense my most important tips for surviving and winning NaNoWriMo into three points listed below. (I also provide a bonus tip for finding inspiration down below).

1. Plan Ahead and Be Flexible

Writing 50,000 words in one month may be a massive undertaking if you are not in the regular habit of writing. I’ve found the more you practice, the faster you will become. But there’s still a learning curve as you figure out how to get yourself in the writing mindset, by which I mean the mindset you need to be in see your world and characters and know where you want to take them. For me this usually involves reacquainting myself with what I’ve written previously or my story notes. I don’t have the luxury of thinking about my story all day, so I personally need to account for time spent warming up to write when I sit down to write.

Most of us don’t have all day to think about and write our stories. You, like me, may be a student or have full-time job you can’t afford to lose or even be a parent. Life becomes a juggling act during NaNoWriMo, so I recommend that you make lists or do whatever equivalent to that to make sure you don’t let any of your other commitments fall slack or by the wayside. I have personally have a calendar with major deadlines and trips so that I can visualize the month. And every week, actually more like everyday, I make time to write a to-do list of all the homework and chores I want to get done. I don’t always get everything on my to-do list done, but I often plan ahead so that there’s time later for tasks that can flow onto the next day. So remember to plan ahead and be flexible.

2. Know Where You Want to Go (Plot-Wise)

Whether you are a plotter or a pantser, I think anyone who’s serious about writing can only benefit by knowing where a scene or the whole story more broadly speaking needs to end up. I used to be a big-time panster, so I would plot a little as I went but never feel the need to stick strictly to my plans. The only real guide in my head, if you can call it a guide, was a basic idea of when a plot turn needed to happen. I don’t really recommend this method if you want to write something good, something that might one day be publishable.

Instead I would recommend having at least 5–7 major scenes planned for your story (or whatever makes sense for the size of story you’re shooting for). Because if you have these scenes in mind then you’re major task is then just to figure out how to best connect them, and that might be a good guide which still allows you to discover the story along the way (à la pantser). Along the same lines, having at least the vaguest idea of where a scene needs to go before you start writing each day could also help keep your story from spiraling out of control.

3. Set Aside “You” Time

Writing is supposed to be fun, so you don’t want to end up hating it or life in general by the end of the month because you’ve burned out. Balance your time for writing with time for other things, like homework, chores, and exercise. You may find yourself actually wanting to do homework and chores when you’re supposed to be writing, and vice versa so as long as you’re being productive and remember to balance everything out by the end of the day or week, you shouldn’t need to feel guilty while working on anything.

Exercise can be really good for stimulating your mind as well as your body, so I strongly recommend it, even if it’s not something you regularly do. It’s not that hard to add some leisurely walks to your daily routine, and you may even find walking around might give you some new story ideas. If you’re like me and don’t like to feel like you’re working out, I recommend something like Pokémon Go to distract you. Audiobooks are also a great idea if you find you’re reading suffering during NaNoWriMo. In addition to being good for you, exercise may also make you feel better about yourself so I can’t recommend it highly enough.

For Inspiration

Other than reading or immersing myself in other forms of storytelling (i.e. TV or film), I often feel most inspired when I find writing advice and tips from other writers. Don’t let yourself spend too much time searching for stuff by your favorite author, especially if you’ve never done this before, but I would say if you’re feeling low and wondering if you have what it takes, spend some time looking to the words of wisdom on writing process from other writers who are doing what you want to do.

If you’ve read (and liked) the Lunar Chronicles, Marissa Meyer’s 9 Steps from Idea to Finished series might be of interest to you. V.E. Schwab also often blogs about writing and I enjoy reading her honest posts as she works on her novels.

Thank you for reading!
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The Last Week of October ’16 | Life & Mind

lastweekoctI’ve been a little stressed recently by how little time I’ve felt I’ve had for recreational reading. In addition the readings I’m assigned every week for my three classes, I’ve also been reading a lot of articles related to my research topic. So it’s not that I’m not reading, it’s just that I have a lot of untrackable reading. But I’m thinking I’ll start talking more about some of the more interesting academic articles I read here on my blog.

I like to reflect on what I read, which is why I love documenting every book I read on Goodreads and in wrap ups each month. I feel like it makes it easier to look back and remember what was going on in my life whenever I read any given book. So I want to talk more about the reading experiences I have as a student, as there has been so much recently.

This is something that’s been on my mind recently, and since I haven’t posted in a while I wanted to do a random little post talking about some of the things on my mind as the month is near its end.

Currently Reading

I just finished Slasher Girls and Monster Boys which I decided to finally pick up this weekend while I was house-sitting for my parents. It was the first weekend I felt I could allow myself a personal book selection and it felt so luxurious. It was a fantastic read, overall, and I still find myself marveling over the beauty and the horror of some of the stories in this anthology. If you possess this book and haven’t yet read it, I think this is the perfect time of the year to read it.

This week, I will be reading Cat and Mouse by Günter Grass which is due for next week. I’m hoping to finish it before the weekend so I can start another book before the end of the month, possibly Boxers by Gene Luen Yang which is a graphic novel I’d love to be able to breeze through, along with its companion novel Saints. I have to read three additional books for my German lit. class over the next couple of weeks so that might preoccupy the first half of November’s readings, but I’m also hoping to squeeze in some fantasy novels.

I’m still planning to participate in NaNoWriMo 2016 this November, and I really wish I had more time to read books that have inspired my own novel with the hopes that by reading good writing I’ll be more likely to write good words. We’ll just have to see how the next couple of weeks unfold, because like I said before, I also have a lot to read that isn’t just books!

NaNoWriMo 2016

I’m sorry I never quite worked out the time for my NaNoWriMo Prep series! Some of my most favorite posts to do are on writing tips/advice, so do know that all the posts I proposed earlier this month will most likely come out eventually. Even if they don’t make it out over November. I might have a laid back summer next year, so maybe I’ll generate some sort of plan for June/July geared towards preparation for Camp NaNoWriMo July.

I haven’t had much time to work on my story at all this month, except for maybe 2–3 days here and there. I’m a little worried about what I’ll come up with over November, but not so much that I’m in a panic. I have a rough outline for the novel I want to write, but I’m actually open to specific parts of that changing, so I’m not going to kill myself trying to stick to the outline. Unless I’m able to work on the outline this weekend and fix the problem areas I’ve already identified, in which case I do hope to stick the outline!

But I also have been keeping a list of short story ideas for side characters in this novel, so I’m prepared to be happy with a combination of a novel and some short story drafts. I think my flexibility here will ensure that I’m able to write 50,000 words and end the month with a good foundation, which is all I really end right now I think.

End Note

I hope you enjoyed this little post. I feel like I definitely psyche myself out sometimes when it comes to writing them, when blogging should just be a fun way to organize and record my thoughts. There’s a lot of post ideas swirling around in my brain, so I’m hoping those will materialize this weekend. I’ll probably do an official What I’m Writing for NaNoWriMo post soon, along with some sort of wrap up for the month. I also want to do a post about my grad school research and potential projects I’ll be starting soon. I just need to get on top of my school work and some upcoming deadlines in November.

Thanks for sticking with me! Let me know in the comments what you’d like to see more of in the future from this blog!

Thank you for reading!
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Fall ’16 TBR

As promised, I am finally doing my comprehensive Fall ’16 TBR. I enjoy doing the monthly TBRs, but I will have to begin working on two 10-page research papers soon, and of course there is also NaNoWriMo to think about, so I know I won’t have very much free time to read as much as I’ve liked until the semester is over. I do still want to complete my Goodreads Challenge of 60 books by the end of the year so that does mean I need to read 16 more books by December 31st, but I think it’s possible.

Required Reading for German Lit. Class

I will be doing a presentation on Heinrich and Thomas Mann in November, so I really need to finish Man of Straw and Dr. Faustus as soon as possible so I know I will be talking about! I also will need to read Cat and Mouse by Guenther Grass and Man Outside by Wolfgang Borchert by the end of the semester. And as soon as I can find the free time, I also want to finish A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1889–1889 by Frederic Morton because I see it informing my world-building in novel.

Series I Want to Complete

There are two book series I want to complete this year, including the rereads of the books leading up to the long-awaited finales. The first series is The Queen of the Tearling trilogy by Erika Johansen. I discovered this series in Spring 2015 and it was love at first read. I loved just about everything about the protagonist and her world. Since I’ve actually only read the arc of The Invasion of the Tearling (#2), I’m excited to see if there’s anything different to what I can remember. The final installment The Fate of the Tearling (#3) is going to be released on November 29, 2016 so it’ll most like be the first book I read over winter break.

The second series I want to complete is the Starbound trilogy by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. These are the first YA science fiction books I ever read that really appealed to me. The romantic aspect of these books is really satisfying and feels fresh, and I really love how the stories are linked by the common world (or should I say galaxy?) conflict. I also read These Broken Stars (#1) and This Shattered World (#2) in Spring 2015, so I’m really excited to finally get my hands on Their Fractured Light (#3) which comes out in paperback on December 6, 2016.

Some Books From the Library

Last month I checked out several books after browsing the Juvenile section at the library. I wouldn’t categorize any of these books as dire or essential reads, but I think they’ll prove short reads that I can finish easily. The first I want to get to is Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, because I read Salt to the Sea recently and adored it. These books are just such perfect compliments to my German lit. studies. Then there are Boxers (#1) and Saints (#2) graphic novels which are part of a duology, which I’m excited to explore because I enjoy reading in this format and don’t do it often enough.

Some Other Random Reads

I have a small selection of books I own which I decided to bring with me from home, so I want to get to as many of these as possible so I can switch them out over winter break. The first I would really like to get to before Halloween is the Slasher Girls and Monster Boys anthology compiled by April Genevieve Tucholke. Then there’s a research book I bought this semester just for fun Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in Networked Culture by Henry Jenkins who is a scholar I really admire. Then there are some smaller tomes I think would not take too much time to read, most notably including The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote, and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.

Thank you for reading!
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Time to Catch Up | Life & Mind

Hello, everyone! And welcome to my new followers! It’s always such a little thrill when I get that notification email that someone else has decided to start following my blog. I’m especially sorry I’ve been a little absent lately. So much has been going on with school and I’ve had to do a lot of thinking about the future. I think it’s very appropriate that I do a life update today because I finally I made a decision I’ve not wanted to make.

But first, I thought I’d catch you all up on what’s been going on, starting with moving into my apartment last month…

I moved into my on-campus apartment finally! 

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At the end of September I received an email telling me I received a placement! I have a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment with an undergraduate, but she’s been quiet and sweet so it’s not been too bad (although I’d still prefer a private apartment). The only thing that has sucked is that the building has had an on-going bug problem, so the week I moved it I was getting eaten alive. It was really bad, my legs and feet are still healing. I seriously thought it was bed bugs, but luckily that’s been debunked. So now I just need to spray every now and then for safety, and I’ve not had any problems on that front for a couple of weeks now.

My car was rear ended in the apartment parking lot.

It happened the week I moved in and was so frustrating. Luckily I saw the girl do it so I was able to get her license plate number, but she was pretty cooperative. She didn’t want to settle with insurance, though, so there was a lot of stress on my end with finding where to get my car repaired (a tail light cover had to be replaced) and getting an estimate for her so she could write me a check. I’m so glad that’s over with now.

Film studies is the bane of my existence right now.

The instructor is a very harsh grader. I’ve gotten no grade higher than a B- on the two major assignments I’ve turned in and it honestly feels very unfair. I know I’ve not turned in A-quality work or anything, but I don’t think they’ve deserved Cs either. I wish I could drop the class, but it’s requirement I’ll need to get out of the way eventually. And I need to be a full-time student to keep my scholarship. She’s letting us revise all our papers, but I honestly don’t know it’s worth the effort or not. I have some time to decide what to do. I might need to go in and have some words with this woman.

& in more exciting, slightly more positive news…

I’ve refined my research goals for the semester.

I’ve been struggling in my research methods class because I have a stronger affinity for critical theory research and it’s been an adjustment to think about more quantitative research. I’ve definitely seen the value in it, though, and see how it will make me stronger academically. I also feel confidence that my interests are leading me into slightly uncharted waters, which is exciting because I feel like I’m carving out my own place in academia.

I think I want to do a whole post on what I’m researching in the near future, especially now as I have a better idea of where I’m going with it after speaking with my instructor today. It very much ties into book blogging and online community, so hopefully you might be interested in it! I’d also like to involve any of you who are interested in it in some way, shape, or form as I discover how I want to collect data.

I’m extending my studies at UT Dallas.

This is the tough decision I did not really want to make, but realized today is in my best interest. In my last Sunday Snapshot, I talked about realizing where I wanted to go to for my PhD and registering for the GRE. Well, I’ve realized that I probably will have a better chance of being admitted if I do another year at UT Dallas. I can get more TA experience if I stay. I’ll have more time to develop research projects that I’m finally establishing now this semester. I’ll also have more time to build my CV with publications and conferences. So yeah…It’s not really the worst.

Now I know a lot of people in the program and will be able to build stronger connections here. I’ll also be able to take more advantage of the specific professors I have here and what they can teach me. Today I went to a workshop where I learned about Lilypad Arduino and learned about the possibilities of wearable technology. Fun, cool stuff like this is why I’ve loved this program and make me think that another year here will not be the end of the world.

So, I need to decide what I’m doing with this blog next…

I do not intend to stop, but I do feel the itch for change again. My domain name is going to expire this year, so I’d like to change it to something more catchy, shorter, easy to remember. That will also entail some new blog graphics which I only just did this summer! But I know it’ll be worth it. I’m honestly thinking of working with a professional to create something cool and unique that I won’t be tempted to change every few months.

As for what is immediately coming next (as in this weekend), I intend to do a Fall ’16 TBR with the list of books I want read by the end of the year. I only need 16 more to complete my Goodreads Challenge, so I’m going to start looking for shorter books so that I can accomplish this because I just don’t have the time, or inclination really, to be devouring so many books each month anymore.

I also want to do my NaNoWriMo Prep Series either next week or the week after that (last of October), because I still intend to participate in NaNoWriMo and I know a few of you have been waiting for it and I’m so sorry! I intend to dedicate some good time and effort to those posts so they were worth the wait (hopefully)!

Thank you for reading!
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September ’16 Notes

This post is coming a little later than I had originally planned! My apologies to anyone who may have seen an unfinished version this past weekend. Part of the reason I held off on finishing it was I was struggling to finish Six of Crows so that I could crack open Crooked Kingdom, and I wanted my reread to count towards last month. So silly. So even though I read most of it in the beginning of October, I’m still including it here!

September was a crazy month for me and I don’t quite have time to share everything that’s been going on in my life over the past couple of weeks in this post, but I might do a Sunday Snapshot this weekend just so you know what I’ve been having to deal with. It’s not been all fun and games in this blogger’s life.

Without any further ado, here are some mini-reviews of all books I read this month along with some of the books I’m currently reading. I also summarize what I got done in writing this month and provide an update on the October NaNo Prep series which I’m still planning to do, although possibly not this week.

What I Read

For the most part I stuck to my September ’16 TBR very well. The only three books which I completely bypassed which I do not fully regret to have skipped; I’m sure I’ll read them in the future. In total I read eight books and am in the progress of reading two.

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton ||  I was wary of this book going into it, because I feel like it was over-marketed by the publisher. Too many BookTubers talked about it all at once and it was very clearly the recipient of ad sponsorship. But I was glad I ultimately picked it up when I saw it at the library because I thought the world was really fun and I like to read fantasy books that kick off a series. If I see the sequel at the library, I’ll most definitely be picking it up. I feel no temptation to buy it though. || ★★★½

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas || I ordered this book via the Kindle app on my iPhone as this has just been the medium I’ve used to read this series from the beginning. The only book I’ve read in a physical copy is Heir of Fire and I’ve semi-regretted not buying it because it was my favorite book in the series. Until I read this book that is! Actually, they may be about equal. Heir of Fire feels a lot more original, Empire of Storms I feel like SJM learned a lot from Six of Crows on how to write Aelin better (she seemed a lot more like Kaz than she did before). Anyway, I loved this book and can’t wait to see what happens next. ||

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque || I was assigned this book in my German Lit. & Ideas class and I found it a very quick but moving read. I’d never read it before, although I do remember learning of it in AP World History (10th grade). I’ve read books that are critical of war, which have no doubt been influenced by this book. But I’m appreciative of having been able to read it in this context where I’m learning about German culture and society during this time. ||★½

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer || This book started of a bit rocky for me. I’ve read and loved the books of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Mindy Kaling, but this book just didn’t all the way do it for me. I think because Schumer is so far off from me and I cringed with disgust at a lot of stories. I do like what she does, though, and this book ended on a very strong note for me. Not worth buying, but if you find it in the library (as I did), have seen Trainwreck (2015), liked it and want something out of the norm, I’d say why not. || ★★★½

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol || It took me a while to trudge through Amy Schumer’s book and so I picked this book up when I discovered the Juvenile Lit. section of the library. I feel like Amazon and/or Goodreads has tried to recommend this book to me in the past with no success (except I guess cover recognition), and as it was so small, I decided to give it a go. If only to get a quick read in. I think I might have liked it when I was little, but it’s very much…juvenile. It’s not that complex a story and the resolution did not feel too…realistic. || ★★½

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie || I had picked this book up in August when I was in a mood for mystery, then ended up saving it for the Mystery-A-Thon which I ultimately wasn’t able to participate in. So I decided to finally get to it this month. I’m sorry to say it was probably my least favorite of the Christie books I’ve read (there’ve been two others), but I can see how this book has set a standard in the mystery genre. It was a intriguing read I think I would have been able to better appreciate when I was younger. || ★★★½

Film: A Very Short Introduction by Michael Wood || I don’t really know what I can say about this one. It was required reading for my Intro to Film Studies class and is exactly was it claims to be. It was a very easy and quick read, illuminating as I have no background in the history of film or its theory. ||no-rating

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo || I started this book on the last day of September after I had already been able to receive Crooked Kingdom (it unexpectedly arrived the day it was released!) Because I knew what was going to happen, I did drag my feet a little on reading this book. But ultimately I was drawn in again because of this fantastic world and great characters. This book is literally…everything. There were a few things I had forgotten about the end, so I’m really happy I was able to read this again before I jumped into Crooked Kingdom. || 

CURRENTLY READING

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo // I hadn’t thought I would receive this book the day it debuted, but Amazon definitely surprised me! I started it this weekend immediately after finishing my reread of Six of Crows, and I expect to finish it as soon as my school week is over.

Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom by bell hooks // I’m really enjoying this book so far and am happy it was recommended to me. I love hooks’ perspective on how education can, and maybe should, be linked to self-actualization.

What I Wrote

In September I made a lot of headway on my novel. I plotted my MC’s entire journey through The Hollow Combs and did some extensive world-building by establishing the magic system, more of the world’s history, population diversity, and societal structures. I feel like the world really came to life this month. The latest thing I’ve been working on is the villain and how she has influenced the course of history and magic for my protagonist. She’s been a gateway through which I’ve discovered a lot more about this world.

In my latest writing post, I announced the NaNo Prep series I will be doing this month leading up to NaNoWriMo 2016 in November. To be quite honest, I wasn’t quite ready to upload that post but left it up anyway because the bare bones of the info was there. I’m still planning to do the posts I listed in that series, but I’m thinking of making it a week-long series so I’ll share more on that over the next few days.

End Note

As I write this note, I am actually procrastinating on two assignments which are currently driving me crazy, which is the only reason I have found the time. Other than reading Crooked Kingdom, I haven’t been able to do much for myself this week and I nearly fell into a blogging slump. I have a few more things I’m hoping to change around here and on my online presence as a whole, nothing crazy drastic, but there are some things I’ve been putting off for a while. Hopefully I’ll be able to explain more this weekend as I start to implement these changes.

I will tell you a domain name change is potentially on the horizon…

Thank you for reading!
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Plotting for Multiple Character Arcs | #AmWriting

writinghead710In my last #amwriting post (I Am A Weary World-Builder), I had just finished plotting the entire novel from MC’s perspective. But I’ve quickly realized that there are three other characters with separate agendas whose actions during the same novel span will be important to know just as thoroughly so that when they appear at pivotal plot points they’re actions don’t just seem to come out of nowhere.

These characters include my MC’s mysterious frenemy with whom she makes a deal, a female mentor whose motivations are ambiguous, and her grandfather who she learns is a part of a conspiracy she didn’t know existed.

I was quite intimidated about how to go about doing this plotting. I had plotted the MC’s story in 27 notecards that comprised the manuscript in the Scrivener doc where I’d decided to keep everything, so I didn’t immediately know how to integrate the other plot lines into it. Inspiration hit as I realized I could make a table in Word with 27 rows for each chapter and four columns to designate each of the different characters’ journeys. Looking at my MC’s storyline, I could mark where the side characters appear in her story and then fill in the blanks in their individual storylines!

New Developments

From this new plotting I’ve been working on, I’ve learned a few new things about the world. I’ve also been inspired by my recent reading for my German Literature & Ideas class in which I’ve read All Quiet on the Western Front and some historical accounts that explain Germany’s behavior during WWI. Note: My novel is not historical fiction, but I’m taking inspiration from the societal tensions of real European history around WWI & WWII for the world conflict my alternative-universe-steampunk fantasy.

I’ve also made some potentially final decisions about the novel’s form! I’ve long imagined having each chapter start with a poem or fictional excerpt of a folk tale or historical commentary on the events of the story as if the story (or the novel) is itself narrative account of history in the world. Kind of like what Erika Johansen does in The Queen of the Tearling. But I’ve also struggled with what perspective to write in.

I want this book and series to be really engaging and for readers to put themselves in the place of the protagonist (which is generally done by writing in the 1st person POV), but I also want to be able to give as full a picture of the story as possible by showing what other characters are also up to. I know I don’t want to write from the 1st person for multiple characters, so the only option I appear to have is to write from the 3rd person limited POV of multiple characters. Limited so that I can dive into their thoughts and readers are able to have that closeness of understanding the characters.

After making this decision I realized that I might want to add the villain’s perspective, which is a bit of a terrifying prospect as I’ve not read any fantasy recently that closely depicts the villain’s activity. I think it’s unpopular because it can take away some of the surprise in sneak attacks on the MCs.

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I think I do not think I will directly dive into the head of the villain though, I think I will narrate about them through the eyes of a subordinate, because if I am thinking about my book as a piece of fantastical historical fiction, then the villain probably would not have a say in the way they are portrayed in history. (“History is written by the victors.”)

End Note

I am still working on the plot lines of characters I mention at the beginning of this post, but I’ve not decided on all the characters from whose POVs I will be writing. I like the idea of actually integrating some of the action in the plot lines of the side characters into the novel as a whole, but perhaps not directly through their eyes. So that’s something I’ll probably decide and shift as I write.

I’m also beginning to think I may not be writing the first draft of this novel directly into the Scrivener document, but using it more after the fact to organize the story as I’m editing and adding more details. Does anyone else feel a need to do this? I just feel like there’s something inflexible about the way sections of text in Scrivener are separated that make it harder to write freely.

Next week I will be posting my October writing plans in the form of a Pre-NaNoWriMo Goals checklist inspired by Ely’s “Pre-NaNoWriMo Goals | 2016 Edition“! I feel like I’m really close to being able to write and can’t wait to have no excuses to start. I can’t believe it’s almost October! I’m sure I’ll encounter new problems and roadblocks as I write (which I’ll talk about in these blog posts obviously), but I feel like I’m ready for them!

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A Book Blogger’s Haul!

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Just to treat myself after an incredibly stressful week (see yesterday’s post), I went shopping today for some nonessentials for book blogging pictures that I’ve been wanting to get for a while, plus a few extra things that caught my eye. The places I went had some amazing deals today, so I thought I’d do a quick post sharing so that if anyone else wants to pay them a visit they can take the utmost advantage!

Below I’ve divided my haul’s contents into sections by store: Target and Hobby Lobby. I’ve also included the item prices and rationale for why I bought them. If you have any other tips for how I might make the best use of these things, please let me know in the comments below! Also let me know if you like this sort of post as I can do more in the future. Not too regularly though, as I’m not that frequent a shopper! ^_^

Target Haul

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Paper mouse pad monthly calendar | $1

I hadn’t realized these were for use as a mouse pad, but I just intend to keep it on my desk or stick them on the wall with push pins. I wanted a displayable calendar so that I could keep track of my reading, writing, and research goals and motivate myself with placing stickers on the days where I’ve been successful! (V.E. Schwab was the inspiration behind this idea.) I might also use a separate one each month for important test/assignment due dates.

Starry copper-wired LED lights (10 ct.) | $3

I love buying fairy lights! These I found in the cheap/seasonal section at the Target entry. I’ve seen some bookstagrammers use them in their photos so I thought they might be a nice little addition to some photos. They are battery-powered, so I’ll need to make sure I have the right batteries.

Adhesive fall leaf shapes  (20 ct.) | $3

These were another random purchase! Fall is my favorite season, so I can see myself decorating my desk area or corkboard with these or using them as #bookstagram photo fillers in the next few months. I’m sure they’ll be fun to play with.

Halloween-themed 3D stickers (86 ct.) | $2.99

On the hunt for star stickers at Target for my calendar, I ran across these bad boys in the stationary isles. They were an impulse buy, but I’m sure I’ll find more ways to use them. I had a bad habit of collecting stickers as a kid, saving them because I want to use them on something extra special. So I’m going to try and not be so precious about these stickers! Life’s too short.

Hobby Lobby Haul

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Gypsophila paniculata (aka “baby’s breath”) | Reg. price $11.99 (On sale: 50% off!)

Some of my favorite bookstagrammers use baby’s breath in their photos and I’ve long wanted to get my hands on some! It was the main reason I went to Hobby Lobby today. As they were on sale, I got the natural looking beige/off-white bouquet and the ones dyed in this vibrant blue color that reminds me of when I dyed my hair in February!

Star stickers (226 ct.) | Reg. price $1.99 (On sale: 50% off!)

I’d wanted to buy some more star stickers for my external motivation. I bought some at Target (160 ct. for $2.49), but I knew Hobby Lobby would have a much better selection. To my surprise, the huge collection of stickers by The Paper Studio were 50% off today as well! I was tempted to splurge, but I told myself to wait and maybe return later if I could think of practical uses for more. So I just bought two packets of 226 stickers each. I think it’s safe to say I’m well set on star stickers for a while.

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The Struggle is Real | Life & Mind

I had hoped to be moved into my apartment by this time this week and had packed up my car full of stuff before leaving from Houston this past weekend. But I only found out yesterday (Wednesday) that I won’t be able to move in until next Wednesday. Also, they’d given me my last housing preference, even though I’d responded quickly enough to receive my first place preference (okay, this I can only presume). So I’ll be sharing an apartment with a stranger. That is if I’m not in trouble for not paying my prepayment yesterday because they don’t accept debit/credit cards.

Yesterday was just the absolute worst.

Housing dilemmas aside, I’ve also been struggling in my Social Science Perspective of Emerging Media and Communications class. I spent all afternoon yesterday (~6 hours) doing my homework only to discover the article I chose were not social research articles, but humanities ones. So much time was wasted, not necessarily for nothing but almost. It especially sucked because I liked those articles. So now I need to find articles that will actually work for my research questions.

The worst thing about all of these stressful things is I feel like I am slipping into a reading slump and I don’t feel like I have the quality time I need to work on my writing. That’s in part why I’m even writing this blog post, because this blog is primarily about reading and writing and I want to let you all know that I’m struggling right now.

I might be skipping my film studies class this afternoon so that I can go off campus to get a money order for my apartment’s prepayment (which was due yesterday). I might have time to go to class after running that errand, but finding parking can be a nightmare in the afternoon and be just as bad getting off campus at 7 p.m. when my class ends. Since I’ll be driving back to Houston for the weekend, I think it’d just be for the best to avoid the extra stress right now. Besides, I don’t think I’ll be missing anything major.

What I’m Reading

I’ve not been in the mood to read mystery because parts of my life feel like a mystery right now, so I just picked up Amy Schumer’s The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo from the library. I’m about 40 pages in, and it’s nothing groundbreaking yet, but I choose it because I feel like I need something very light to read over the weekend. I’m also about 20 pages into And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, which I started before this week before my life started to feel like a mess. I think I might be able to finish it this weekend. I just need a few hours to set aside to get back into it. I may need to start over completely though because I may need to be reintroduced to the characters.

What I’m Writing

I figure if I’m doing a brief reading update, I’ll do a writing one as well. Last week I plotted my MC’s story from beginning to end using the Three-Act Structure. But I realized I have three other characters with their own agendas who I need to also plot, as their stories intersect at major plot points with my MC’s. So that will be top priority as soon as I find the time. I’ve also decided I want to start properly writing by or on October 1st, so I have exactly 15 days to finish up anything else I’ve had in my pre-writing phase.

After finishing Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas this week, I finally watched an interview between SJM and emmmabooks, a BookTuber I’m subscribed to. You do not need to have read the ACOTAR series, or even Empire of Storms. This interview is remarkably spoiler-free and deals a lot with the writing process of this successful YA fantasy author. As my friend Sara was really inspired by it too, I thought I’d share it here in case any of you are interested. (Beware: The audio is pretty bad and there’s an annoying crying kid in the background, but the video has subtitles/closed captions.)

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 End Note

Even though I’ll be at my parents’ house, I’m really going to try and be hermit this weekend so I can recharge and try to regain control over my life and studies. This is my game plan:

  1. I’m going to try to get my homework for EMAC 6375 out of the way early. All I need to do is revise my RQs and write some definitions for the operationalized variables in our whole class content analysis project. I also want to try and find articles that are truly social research articles, just to make my life easier later this semester.
  2. I’m going to prioritize my German Lit. & Ideas readings. It’s been two weeks since I’ve been to class because of Labor Day, so I’ve gotten used to not having this class to worry about. So I need to get back in the swing of reading for this class. I need to finish Man of Straw eventually (although maybe not this weekend…), but I also have readings specifically for class next Monday that I want to be done with early so I’ll probably start them tomorrow (Friday).
  3. I’m going to swear off YouTube and other forms of audiovisual media. I really want to be able to read and write this weekend, also work on some blog post ideas and other creative projects. YouTube can turn into a major time-suck, so I’ll probably only allow myself to watch the uploads of the two daily vlog channels I’m subscribed to, but only after I’ve already been productive.
  4. I’m going to work out everyday this weekend. I’m not going to lie, I’m really pissed right now just in general. I like to think I’ve been able to hide it pretty well IRL and in this blog post. But I know I need to blow off some steam soon for my mental sanity, so I’m going to make sure to get in some cardio this weekend. I’d like to start working out everyday once I move into my apartment, but even next week I think I’ll try to push myself to go to the gym in the afternoon. I just need to get organized about it.

Are you currently annoyed with something going on it you’re life right now? Feel free to vent in the comments! ^_^ I’d totally love to hear about the things going wrong in other people’s lives right now!

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All the Things | Sunday Snapshot

I haven’t done a Sunday Snapshot in ages and I had planned to do one this weekend as I felt like there’s so much going on right now, I really wanted to do a post talking about it all. Then I spent all weekend reading Empire of Storms (★★★★★) and I just didn’t have enough time to make this the post I wanted it to be. But I’m going to try and do it anyway before I go to sleep, as I don’t think I’ll be able to blog at all this week.

ss911First, of all, I do want to apologize to anyone who might have seen an incomplete version of a post I want to do about how I’ve managed to balance all my commitments (school, blogging, writing, etc.) It was supposed to go up this weekend, but I haven’t had time to finish it because of the reading I mentioned above! Empire of Storms really couldn’t have come out a worse week! I’m sure to suffer tomorrow night in German Lit. as I was supposed to read Man of Straw by Heinrich Mann in it’s entirety, but now I’m just hoping I can reach the halfway point and can find something like Sparknotes on it. (I do plan to read it thoroughly eventually however, as my presentation for this class will be on Mann and his brother, Thomas.)

This weekend I was at my parents’ home dog-sitting. My dad turned 50 this weekend and they had celebrated by going to Louisiana to the casinos. I was happy to do that for them, as I didn’t have much else in mind for a present and I miss the dogs so much while I’m at college. Enjoy a picture of my Jack Russell mutt called Ty (to the left).

Tomorrow I drive back to Dallas with a car filled with kitchen things, a vacuum, and some trashcans as I believe I will be finally able to move into an on-campus apartment tomorrow! I received an email on Friday presenting me with some options and I responded quickly with my top three preferences. As I responded so quickly, I’m fairly hopeful I’ll be given my first choice. I await confirmation, though. So I’ll probably call tomorrow morning before I leave to try to make sure. Moving in will be a week-long process, and I’ll not get my furniture before next weekend when my parents are able to drive it all up.

These past three weeks have not been the easiest, but I’m really pleased at how I’m managed and I’m happy that I’ll soon have some stability as I complete my final two semesters at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD). I’m certain I want to graduate this spring, and it’s all beginning to feel quite sudden as I’ve finally begun looking into my options for a doctoral program and I’ve found one that looks like a perfect fit for me and my interests at Boston University (BU). They have a PhD program in Emerging Media Studies that I think will expand upon what I’ve been learning at UTD. Best of all, it’s in a location that I’ve always wanted to end up.

This past Thursday I signed up for the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) which is a standardized test that many graduate schools require applicants take. I’ll take it at the end of October, so I plan to start preparing for it soon so that I can do really well on it. I also really want to direct more attention toward the research I’m most interested in and want to find my niche in. My CV could use a lot of beefing up at the moment, so I also want to find other things I can do, this semester especially, that can go onto it. The deadline for the application to BU is due on January 15, 2017, so I essentially just have this semester to prove myself worthy of acceptance.

End Note

This week I will be oh so busy with moving into my apartment and keeping up with classes that I doubt I will be read or write much, yet alone blog. I am truly annoyed at the timing as this week is the Mystery-A-Thon which I was so excited about. I do think I will be able to finish at least one book for it this week, which I had hoped to actually finish before this week: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post if you made it this far! Every one of my blog readers mean the world to me. I’m really excited to share more about my writing soon (as I did have some more developments this past week). I’m also excited to experiment with new ways of book blogging, as I’ve always wanted to do on this blog. Overall, I’m really excited about everything right now and I’m sorry I’ll be a little absent this week. To keep up with me while I’m too busy to blog, make sure to follow me on social media (links down below). See you soon! ^_^

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