Saturday, February 28, 2015

Writing and Life Collide

A lot of authors talk about how life influences your writing. Well, I never believed them. I mean I write about dragons and royal courts and occasionally the heart-wrenching relationship. There are no dragons or royal courts in my life. I have professors and classmates. And I can definitely assure you that I don’t have a heart-wrenching relationship. I have really close friends but never anything close to a romantic relationship. My life lacks all of those things. 

Writing is my escape. I use it so that I don’t have to think about the various things going on in my life. They shouldn’t overlap. But recently I finished Draft Zero for my GUARDIANS story. It was my 2014 NaNoWriMo novel and I just got around to finishing up the last 20,000 words early this February.

I wrote 70k about a character trying to choose between two identities. Two choices that would take her in widely different directions. Once the decision was made, she wouldn’t be able to return. Therefore, she spends nearly half the book traveling through the desert (a translator, liminal phase) between her two choices. And she doesn’t even make the decision until much later, when she absolutely has to decide what to do with her life. 

Sound familiar? 

Probably not, but I’ll lay it all out for you. I’m a biochemistry major that loves writing. I have to decide between writing or medicine because I know I can’t have both. And even if I make that decision. I have to decide how much of my life I should devote to writing. Is it a part time or full time job? Is it going to my career or is it going to be a very time-consuming hobby.

I’ve been lulled into a sense of false security because I’m still in school (my liminal phase) and I know I don’t have very much time left to make my decision, but I’m waiting for the final blow in a sense. I waiting for someone to just scream at me and tell me what to do. 

I literally wrote 70,000 words about this decision I can’t make.

My character definitely made a decision, but I still don’t know what I want to do. 

Anyone else find that they unconsciously write parts of their life into their stories? How do you feel about it? 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review: The Dream Thieves

I did a review for The Raven Boys a while ago! I’m going to try to keep this review of The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater  spoiler free, but if you want to be extra careful, I would suggest not reading this review if you haven’t at least read the first book. 

Summary: (from goodreads): Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. 
Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. 
Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after...

Rating: 5/5 stars

Yes, you saw that right. I’m giving this book 5 stars, which means I would re-read this book and I hate re-reading books. (Let’s be honest, I’m most definitely going buy and re-read this series in the forthcoming years. That’s how much I love The Raven Cycle.)

What’s the reason I’m willing to re-read this book? Two words. Ronan Lynch. 

I love him so much. I didn’t realize I had a favorite Raven Boy until this book. I’m sure a lot of people felt this way. The Raven Boys was a great, interesting beginning, but it was the introduction to the world. We got to know the characters pretty well, but in The Dream Thieves we get to know Ronan very well. 

And everything I learned about him, only made him that much better. He’s a angry, tough guy. You know that from the start, but in the second book in The Raven Cycle, you find out why and how he ended up this way. I wouldn’t mind if there were four books on Ronan alone. That’s how much I love him. 

And it’s not just Ronan. Adam. Gansey. Noah. Blue. I love them so much. I just want to wrap them up in a blanket and hide them. To keep them safe from Stiefvater’s evil clutches.

And when the characters aren’t enough to keep you reading, the plot is. Oh dear, everything just got so much larger with the introduction of new characters and new threats. I couldn’t put this book down. I adored it. I will never not love these books. 

I can’t even formulate the words to review this book well. For that I apologize, but if you haven’t read this series, seriously you need to read it. You won’t regret it. 

What do you think about the 2nd book in The Raven Cycle? Who else loves Ronan Lynch? (I better see all of your hands in the air, right now.) 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


If you’re a new writer and you’re using Microsoft Word to write your very, very long novel, I just want to suggest a new program for you called Scrivener. 

Scrivener is a writing program from Literature and Latte and I absolutely love it. I didn’t realize how much I hated using Microsoft word until I used Scrivener for Camp NaNoWriMo 2014. It, unfortunately, isn’t a free program, but you can try it free for a month during NaNo. After that you have to pay 45 dollars to install it (there's a discount if you successful complete NaNo), but I think it’s worth every penny, despite the couple of negative aspects. 

1. Scrivener doesn’t take forever to load a document. If you use Microsoft Word, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. If you’re document is longer than a hundred pages, it take forever to load. I am not patient enough to wait that long. When I need to write, I don't have time to wait.

2. It saves automatically. I don’t remember how long it take the program to save your work, but it’s a couple of seconds. Let’s say you leave your computer and forgot to save. Well have no fear, scrivener is here. It will save your work automatically, so you don’t have to worry about whether you saved your document or not. 

3. You don’t need to make multiple documents.  Because Microsoft Word would load so slowly for me, I just ended up making a new document for every chapter I wrote. Therefore, every time I sat down to write, I would have to open up at least three documents—the previous chapter I wrote, any notes I had in separate document, and the current chapter I was working on. The beauty of Scrivener that you can create multiple documents under one binder. It’s all in one place and I don’t have to wait for it to load. I can just flip between the chapters I need or even open up a dual window for when I need to see two documents at once. 

4. It’s great for revisions. Not only can you color your documents (I use it to signify if I’ve revised a chapter or not), there’s also a fancy cork board feature where you all of your synopses of your chapters and scenes appear. It’s great to just move scenes and chapters around while in revisions without having to physically write down all of your scene summaries on notecards and lay them on the floor. 


1. All the “bells and whistles”. Scrivener is a program made for writing novels, screenplays, etc. It’s meant for writing longer pieces of works and therefore there are a lot of different functions to aid you on that long quest. So many that it’s easy to get distracted by all the little things you can do in comparison to Microsoft Word. If you get distracted easily, Scrivener might not be the best program for you. I mean Microsoft Word does get the job done :). 

2. It’s a little difficult to use. At least if you want to use all the “bells and whistles”. I still don’t know how to do certain things on Scrivener because I just don’t have the patience to go research it. In other words, there’s a steep learning curve. 

3. It’s frustrating to import other documents. I’ll be the first to admit that I still don’t know how to use Scrivener to it’s maximum potential. And one of those things I still don’t know is how to import other documents like my previous stories I wrote on Microsoft Word. I don’t know why but it always indents it oddly, therefore I have just given up on trying to import documents. If I really need something I wrote previously, I will look up everything I can to import. But for now, I refuse to be frustrated by this program.

Overall, I love Scrivener. I think there are more benefits for writers. I know some people don’t think you should buy Scrivener, especially if you’re just going to be using it like a word document, but I disagree. By having Scrivener, I use it every day and I learn more about it everyday. I may not know everything there is to know about Scrivener right now, but at the bare minimum I know how to write in it. That’s the most important part (the bells and whistles sure don’t hurt though). 

How do you feel about Scrivener? Do you prefer Microsoft Word or some other writing program? Comment below! 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Review: The 100

I'm a pushover in terms of rating books...meaning I typically don't rate below 3 stars, but I did for this and I thought I wouldn't post this review, but all reviews (good or bad) help, right? 

Here's my review of The 100 by Kass Morgan. 

Summary: (from goodreads): In the future, humans live in city-like spaceships orbiting far above Earth's toxic atmosphere. No one knows when, or even if, the long-abandoned planet will be habitable again. But faced with dwindling resources and a growing populace, government leaders know they must reclaim their homeland... before it's too late.
Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents are being sent on a high-stakes mission to recolonize Earth. After a brutal crash landing, the teens arrive on a savagely beautiful planet they've only seen from space. Confronting the dangers of this rugged new world, they struggle to form a tentative community. But they're haunted by their past and uncertain about the future. To survive, they must learn to trust - and even love - again.

Rating: 2.5/5.0 stars

I love The 100 TV Show on CW. Reason one why I picked up this book. Reason two: I needed something to tide me over before I could start watching season 2. Reason three: I thought that the book would be great because it would reveal more about the characters I love and hate.  

The 100 wasn’t what I was expecting. The story is told from four main characters’ point of view, which wasn’t confusing, but it also didn’t help me. There was a lot of switching of viewpoints, so I didn’t feel close to any of the characters. Then again, the changing viewpoint was the main reason I kept reading. I didn’t breeze through this book because I wanted to know more about one character over the next, I was just reading to find out what would happen next. 

But nothing happens. Literally nothing happens. The 100 make it to Earth and that’s it until the end. There’s no growth and the “high stakes” (specifically the “radioactive” Earth) was too far removed to actually seem like a threat. It wasn’t like the Earth had a knife in its hand to hunt the 100 down. It was just there. This ever present, looming threat. It made for a boring book.

Also everything that was interesting (at least in my opinion) had already happened. Ms Morgan uses flashbacks to relay important information, but I’ve never been a fan of flashbacks. If you have that many flashbacks, shouldn’t the book be about that? The conflict in the flashbacks were more compelling than the present one.

I think the only reason I really kept reading was because I loved the concept. I was already attached to some of the characters—namely Bellamy and Clarke from the TV show.  I relate to how protective Bellamy is of his younger sister, Octavia. I would do anything for my younger siblings. And I relate to how serious and down-to-business Clarke is because that’s how I am. 

Overall, I didn’t enjoy this book and largely because there was no plot. The was a “dangerous” setting and a whole cast of characters that didn’t really grow or change throughout the story. But here’s to hoping the second book will be a lot better though. I’m far to attached to TV Bellamy and Clarke to not at least try and read the second book. 

Anyone else love the TV show, but not the book like I do? Comment below if you want to talk about either the TV show or the book. (By the way, if you couldn’t tell, I ship Bellarke, so hard and I haven’t even seen the second season). 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Exception to the Rule

Publishing is hard. It’s a long, windy, seemingly never ending road. You have to finish a book. You have to revise said book. You have to query agents. You have hope an agent will say yes. Then you and your agent have to submit your manuscript to various publishing companies. You have to hope again for that glorious yes, I want it. Then you might get a book deal. Then once that’s done, you have repeat all the steps after getting an agent. 

I know it’s hard. I know it’s going to take time. I know that authors that I look up to, spent a lot of time and money to get to where they are. Some of them even took ten years to get their first book published. I know it won’t just work out for me. I have a long road in front of me and I’m taking steps towards that end goal everyday. 

Still I can’t help but hope that maybe I will be the exception to the rule. I know it sounds foolish and crazy, but there are some authors that seemed to have all the luck in the world. They get their first book they ever wrote published. The publishing company puts a lot of their advertising efforts behind it. It just seems like those authors have it all. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not discounting those authors at all. There’s a lot we don’t see behind the scenes. I don’t know how much time the author put into writing their book. I’m sure it’s a lot of time. I don’t know what was going on in their life at the time. I’m sure they were juggling more than just writing a book. 

But I do know that some authors—the very rare one is the exception to the rule. And I sometimes dream my path will be like that. Who doesn’t like the easier path? Who doesn’t like to believe that their top choice agent is going to love you book? Who doesn’t want to believe that their ideal publishing company is going to come knocking on your door? 

Who doesn’t want to hope? 

I think that’s why publishing and writing scares me. Because I do have these hopes and I know in the back of my mind, it won’t end up that way. The path to publishing is long and I’m not going to be that author who gets the secret password to get into the party. I’m not the best writer and I don’t have the most unique ideas. There’s really no reason I should be the rare author. 
I know that. Logically I know that, but I can’t help but hope. Just maybe. Just maybe I’ll be the exception to the rule. 

Anyone else feel this way? Is there anyway to gently remind yourself the norm isn’t this way without completely dashing your hopes and dreams? 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Review: Crash Into You

Happy Valentine’s Day! Even if you don’t have a valentine, I’m sure you have tons of books (who needs anything else). Here’s my review of the romantic, swoon-worthy Crash Into You by Katie McGarry. 

Summary: (from goodreads): The girl with straight A's and the perfect life—that's who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy family…and she's just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker—a guy she has no business even talking to. But after the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can't get him out of her mind. 
The last thing Isaiah needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks. But when their shared love of street racing puts their lives in jeopardy, Isaiah and Rachel will have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they'll go to save each other.

Rating: 4.0/5.0 stars

I’m a big fan of Katie McGarry. She pulled me in with Pushing The Limits and Dare You To (the first books in this universe), and I’m glad to say that Crash Into You has gotten ever better. If you need a romantic YA to read, you need to pick up her books.

Yes, Crash Into You has a little bit of “instant-love”. Yes, there’s the classic “bad boy” who cares a lot more than he lets on and “good girl” who wants to break out of her shell.  Yes, its is filled with events that really wouldn’t ever happen in real life (but then again why are we reading fiction if we were satisfied with reality). But I went in knowing and wanting these things when I picked this book up. 

Out of the three books by her I’ve read, Crash Into You is definitely my favorite. It may or may not have to do with my weakness for “bad boys” like Isaiah :). But at the heart of the story, it’s a book about friendships, family, and love. 

I loved reading about how passionate Isaiah and Rachel were about cars. I loved that the book revolved around Rachel trying to live up to her parent’s expectations—what person (teenager or adult) doesn’t have to deal with that. I loved the little snippets of how the other characters were doing.

One of things I didn’t like about the book is how protective the men in Rachel’s life were of her. Not only her brothers and father, but also Isaiah. I think it’s a fine line between overprotectiveness and just plain controlling. The line wasn’t exactly crossed here, but there were moments in the book that I raised my eyebrow at their actions. Aside from that, Crash into You was everything I wanted and needed to read to get out of a slump. It made me flail and squeal and shout at the book, so I’m definitely going to pick up her other books if I wasn’t convinced before. 

Thoughts? Anyone else read Katie McGarry's books?

Monday, February 9, 2015

First Draft Podcast

First Draft is a podcast created by Sarah Enni. She’s taking a road trip across the U.S. and along the way she’s interviewing YA/MG authors about their experiences with writing, publishing, and life in general. The interviewees are authors like Marie Lu, Libba Bray, Beth Revis, Meagan Spooner, and many others. 

This is the best podcast about writing I have ever listened to. Okay, I haven’t listened to any other writing podcasts, so I guess I'm not the best judge. But none of the other writing podcasts enticed me enough to start listening. There are great podcasts out there for all sorts of things, but sometimes talking about writing is…a little boring. Even for writers. First Draft Podcast isn’t like that. 

Here are just a couple of reasons why I love First Draft. 

1. You can start and stop anywhere. I can’t listen to an hour long podcast straight through. I don’t have the patience or time to listen to podcasts in one sitting. But I love listening to podcasts while I’m walking to class, eating alone, browsing the library for more books, etc. I’ve listened to other podcasts like Serial and Welcome to Nightvale, and let me just say that its hard to pause and play where ever you are. First Draft isn't like that. It’s easier to remember what happened in a podcast because it’s like your friend is confiding in you. The details just stick in your brain. 

2. It’s not a strict interview. Sarah Enni does an amazing job weaving in the standard questions (where were you born, what have you written, etc.), but those questions only make up the foundation. There are many times that podcast veers off track, and I love it. It’s a conversation. It’s like Sarah and the author are just sitting beside you in the coffeeshop. You’re the little bird on their shoulder while they discuss all the up-and-downs of their life and writing. I don’t have any close writer friends, but First Draft gives me a taste of what it would be like to have a friend I can obsess about writing to without having to stop and explain the writing jargon.

3. It’s inspirational. Listening to these authors talk about their path to publishing and how much they truly love their jobs, it makes everything seem possible. It makes writing and eventually publishing a book seem possible. It makes me feel like I can accomplish my dream (it might take years and years, but I'll get there eventually). And every podcast, Sarah ends with asking the authors what their advice is for aspiring writers/newly published authors. Even though I read a lot of those posts with best piece of advice from famous authors, there’s something different hearing an author truly say the advice. Hearing it aloud makes it more real.  

4. But it’s also realistic. The podcasts aren’t all just about their success with publishing. It focuses on the path to becoming published. They talk about all the struggles associated with writing. How hard it can be. How you have to preserve. How sometimes life just gets in the way. The podcast is realistic, but the realism is what makes it so inspirational. It puts things into perspective. 

If you’re an aspiring writer or an avid reader who loves getting to know the masterminds behind great books, First Draft is for you. Wow that’s a horrible pitch, but I feel obligated to leave it in because it’s true. It’s an amazing podcast—thank you to Sarah Enni and all the other authors that contributed to it. I’ll be anxiously waiting for each episode (even though I still have about 10 episodes to catch up on). 

What do you guys think of First Draft, if you listen to it? Any other podcasts about writing I need to listen to? 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Revising Update

Do you guys remember that post about my reluctance to revise? Well I didn’t actually start revising until ten days after that post. I did everything to procrastinate starting the revision process. (It was actually really productive procrastination because I read six books in that time.)

Then I meet up with my local Emerging Writer’s Group. I don’t know what happened, but it was the push off the cliff I needed (and yes, cliff because there’s no going back now). I think it was talking with other writers. They were polishing their query letters, talking about their finished manuscripts, and discussing what agents they wanted. It got my heart racing (even more than when I see this cute boy I know). 

I’m not ready for query letters. And I know my book isn't the best it can be. Usually when I remember that fact, I get a little disappointed. Especially because others around me are so much farther along on "The Path" to publication. Strangely enough, that night I wasn’t disappointed. It was the jolt I needed because that night, I went straight home and started revising. 

And since that day I revised about 2000 words every night until this week when school overtook my life with exams, quizzes, research papers, etc. But the overall picture (the great, beautiful, amazing, rainbow-in-the-sky picture) is the fact that I have 38k revised. 

38,000 words. It’s the most I’ve ever revised. 

Even though I have a good 62k left for this draft and even though I know I’m going to need to do at least another two revisions, I’ve never been this happy. And I don't see this happiness leaving anytime soon. 

I’m starting to figure out my own process for revising and I’ll eventually post something about it once I’ve been revising for longer than 2 weeks. But one thing that really helps me get into the revising mood is playing music. Not just any music. 

Actually it’s only one song: "Scream My Name" by Tove Lo for the Mockingjay soundtrack. 

“When I'm dead and gone
Will they sing about me? 
Dead and gone. 
Will they scream my name?”

I think it’s rather fitting for revising. By revising this book and having the courage to pursue publishing…well I’m leaving my mark on the world. I’m screaming my own name. I’m screaming at the top of my lungs to anyone who will listen.