NaNoWriMo: Weeks 1 and 2

Hello!

NaNoWriMo is fully under way now. It has been a busy two weeks. Which is why my “weekly” update went completely out the window. I had family visit from out-of-state all last week, so that severely cut into my writing/reading time. Nonetheless, I’ve gotten some writing done, and I still want to update you!

So, first off, I wanted to talk about my novel, as well as my goals for my novel. I’m writing a Young Adult contemporary, with three alternating points of view. My three main POV characters are twins Noelle and Joshua, and Noelle’s best friend Ireland. My story is loosely based on a side character’s story in Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not, and it’s been rattling around in my brain for a couple of years now. The idea (for the ending) came to me at least five or six years ago, but I never had a story to go along with it until I read MHTN.

A basic summary of my characters (plus some basic plot) – Joshua is bisexual, and he and his boyfriend Taylor (who he’s been with in secret, as he’s not “out” yet) have just broken up and decided to explore other options. His particular “other option” that he ends up with is his twin sister’s best friend, Ireland. Noelle, meanwhile is finally getting together with her long-time friend Austin, but she’s exploring what being in and wanting to be in  a relationship means for her, as she’s (questioning)-romantic asexual. Austin is an African-American boy who grew up down the street from Noelle and Josh, and he’s also a swimmer who suffers from chronic pain due to a swimming injury. I think that’s all I want to say about it for now, other than I’m really exciting that I’m finally putting this story into words and not just hiding it away in my brain.

Now – on to my GOALS! So, obviously, the point of NaNoWriMo is to put 50,000 words on paper in 30 days. I am, of course, trying to meet this goal, but it’s not one of my huge priorities. This is the first time I’ve tried to write ANYTHING fiction beyond the length of a short story, so I’m using this as an opportunity to really discover and explore my voice as a fiction writer, rather than just as an academic writer. My major goal for this NaNoWriMo beyond that is to get the first 1/3 of my novel done, as that’s the section of my novel that I have really fleshed out. I’m planning on having about 12 chapters in this section, and so far my chapters have been 1500-2500 words, so even if I meet this goal, I most likely won’t hit 50,000 words, and that’s ok. I’m trying not to pressure myself, and force myself to write when I’m not in the mood. I really want to try to enjoy this writing process, and if I’m stressing about hitting the word count, I won’t enjoy it. I also think the 50,000 word-count goal is pretty unrealistic, just because this is one of the busiest times of school for me.

Anyway, now that you know what some of my goals are, where am I now????

Based on the 50,000 word goal, I should be (on day 14) at 23,333 words. Yeah…. That’s not a thing. I’m currently at 10,044 words, so I’m WAYYY behind. I was really proud of myself because I was only one day behind for the first week, but then I basically didn’t write anything for the entire second week while my family was visiting, so now I’m REALLY behind. Again, I’m trying not to stress about this, so while I will still try to catch up as much as possible, I’m not going to pressure myself to finish or write when I’m in the mood to do something else. The fact that I’m writing anything at all is a miracle, so I’m just happy about that. As far as my goal of finishing the first 1/3 of my novel (12 chapters), I’m currently on CH 6, so I’m actually on track in terms of that.

How is your NaNoWriMo novel coming along? What is it about? Have you done NaNoWriMo before? Tell me in the comments! (Sincerely, a newbie who is FREAKING out)

-Sky

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Discussion: Books I Want to Reread

Hello!

I hardly ever reread books, mostly because I feel guilty about the books that I own that I haven’t read. There are some books, though, that I really want to reread, despite the guilt. I have a few that I have reread before (like Harry Potter), but there are a bunch that I’ve never reread, and I want to try and reread them sometime next year. Here they are!

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The Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo

I read both of these books right when they came out, so there was about a year between each one. I would love to reread both of these books together, so I could go into the second book with all the details from the first fresh in my mind. Plus, I’d love to revisit all of these beautiful characters.

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Percy Jackson and they Olympians by Rick Riordan

I’ve actually reread this series once, but it was at least five years ago. I’d love to revisit this original story before I move on to some of his newer series like Magnus Chase and Trials of Apollo.

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The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I’d really like to reread this book, as it’s been several years since I’ve read it, and John Green has a new book coming out this month, so I’d like to reread this one very soon. It’s been on my all-time-favorites list since the first time I’ve read it, but I think I’ve only read it twice. This is also one that I’d really like to rewatch the movie of, as the first time I missed part of it because I had to use the bathroom.

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Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

I’ve only read this book once, and I’m absolutely shocked by that fact. I love this book so much, and I really have no idea why I haven’t reread it yet. I’m going to do this very soon, and I’m absolutely going to have a pack of Oreos with me when I do it.

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The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare

I have a couple of reasons for wanting to reread this this trilogy. Firstly, it’s one of my favorite series and its been about 5 years since I last read it, so I’d love to revisit the Shadowhunter realm. Secondly, I really want to continue on with Cassandra Clare’s new series, The Dark Artifices, so rereading these would be a good refresher.

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We Were Liars by E Lockhart

I’ve wanted to reread this book since I first read it when it came out a few years ago. I never did. This is the perfect book to reread because you can go back and see all of the little hints and clues that you missed the first time around. I’m super excited to go back and see this from a the perspective of someone who knows what’s coming and what really happened.

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The Darkest Minds trilogy by Alexandra Bracken

This is another series that I fell in love with when I first read it a few years ago, and I want to go back and fall in love with it all over again. Over the past year or so, the cast of Six of Crows has been my favorite band of renegades, and recently I’ve realized that I kind of forgot how much I love the group in this series as well. Everyone takes care of each other, and they all are so supportive and I want to go back and remember all the great scenes with this rag-tag group.

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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Another book that is one of my absolute favorites, and I think I’ve only read it twice? It’s been at least 3 years since I read this one, and I’m starting to forget some of the details. I also want to rewatch the movie for this one, because the soundtrack is GORGEOUS.

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The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

I’m pretty sure I’ve only read this trilogy once. I want to go back to it for a few reasons. Firstly, I want to reread them to help distinguish the events from the books from the events in the movies, because at this point its all just a blur. Secondly, I have a LOT of mixed feelings about Mockingjay, and I’d like to reread it to try and sort through those feelings a little bit more.

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The Graceling trilogy by Kristin Cashore

I’ve reread Fire two or three times, but I’ve only read Graceling and Bitterblue once, and the only time I read Graceling was…. 10 years ago? Something like that. So it’s definitely overdue for a reread.

What books do you want to reread? Have you read or reread any of the books on this list? Let me know in the comments!

-Sky

 

A Slightly Rambly-Random Rant

Hello,

I was initially going to do a Hufflepuff recommendation post today, but some stuff happened today and I’m just not in the mood. Plus, I just did a TTT and I don’t really want to do two recommendation posts in a row. (I’m typing this as of Thursday, just as an fyi for some things I’m going to talk about.)

So, I’m not going to go into too much detail about any of this, since it’s more personal, but basically the fact that I’m moving in two days had led to a lot of tension and stress in my house; this eventually culminated today into probably the biggest fight/argument I’ve ever had. The past couple of months as we’ve been preparing for this move haven’t been the greatest, and it’s really highlighted some of the not-so-great aspects of my home life.

That’s why I wanted to make this post today, because I wanted to talk about one other aspect of my life that I’ve really come to appreciate over the past few months, and the events of today really showed me how powerful this part of my life can be. It may sound a little bit cheesy (but I mean this in the most sincere way possible), but the community that is a part of YA Twitter has truly become a refuge and a haven for me over the past few months. Today’s events with the NYT Best-seller list especially showed me what an amazing, powerful, and active community we can be (if you didn’t hear about this, you can read the basics here).

There are some pretty horrible things going on in the world today, but this is just one example of people coming together and taking absolutely none of the sh*t that the world throws at them. It’s the perfect example of people standing up for what’s right, rather than hiding their heads in the sand and ignoring things that are going on around them, simply because they are privileged enough to do so.

I know that I come from an extremely privileged place, and for a long time now I’ve used that privilege to avoid the news, politics, and anything going on in the world that is mildly upsetting. This online community, particularly since the 2016 Presidential Election, has taught me so much about that privilege, and how I can use it to help those who are not in such a privileged position. I have learned so much, and am still learning. I make mistakes all the time, but I am learning and growing as I see people on line point out what we can improve in the world, and they systems that are in place to deliberately debilitate and hinder those who come from a disadvantaged place.

As I am still relatively new to this online space, I haven’t yet made a lot of friends, because I’ve sort of deliberately stayed in the background to watch the interactions around me. In the short amount of time that I’ve been on Twitter, I have seen SO much support, love, happiness, and goodness come as a response to one negative thing. One negative thing can spark so much response from those who care and will defend the ones they care for, and refuse to spread anything but positivity and love.

So much of the mindset around the Internet is geared towards how terrible and ineffective/inefficient discourse is online. This is true, there is certainly much to improve upon in online discourse. Yet, when I see a community come together in this way and perform in such an efficient, almost professional way, I’m reminded that there is such a thing as good, even great discussions that are constantly occurring, and we need to focus on promoting those, too. We focus so much on denouncing the negative, which is of course helpful and necessary, but I want to promote the good, too.

YA Twitter is such a powerful community, and it’s already done so much good for authors, readers, and just people everywhere. As much as there is bad and evil in the world, today YA Twitter reminded me that there is good, too. I want to be a part of that good, and I hope someday I will be.

-Sky

Discussion: Bookshelf Organization

Hello!

So, I’m moving next weekend, and I’m also starting school that following week. Busy times are ahead. I’m going to try and get some posts scheduled before I get too busy, but I’m already super busy with packing, so I’m not sure how active this blog is going to be for the next few weeks.

One great thing that’s coming from moving is the huge opportunity I’m going to have to reorganize my bookshelves. Currently, I have 2 big book cases – one has five shelves, the other has six. They don’t match, so when we move I’m hoping to buy two new shelves, and they’re going to be white to match my (new!) bedroom furniture. It’s all worked out, except for how I’m going to organize my shelves. As of now, they are roughly organized by series/standalone, and then just sort of by what I thought looked best and fit together. The shorter shelf has most of my series on it, and the other shelf has some series, and all my YA, MG, and adult standalones and non-fiction. The standalone shelf is also organized (a bit) by genre.

The question, now, is – how do I want to organize my books after I move?

BY COLOR? 

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I’ve only tried to organize my shelves by color once, and since I didn’t want to split up my series, I only organized my standalones. It was incredibly aesthetically pleasing, but it was a LOT of work. I think if I was going to do it again, I would actually try and use all of my books, so both shelves look good instead of just one. Rainbow shelves are SO pretty.

ALPHABETICAL (BY AUTHOR?)

My eight-year-old self would be so proud of me. For some reason, I was a little obsessed with alphabetizing things when I was a child. Every weekend I would sit down and organize all of my movies alphabetically, even though it usually took me like two hours. I also collect decks of cards, and I used to organize the “dog breed” or “horse breed” decks alphabetically by the breed on each card (there were 52 breeds, not 13). My only issue with this is that it would take SO long, since I have about 300 books, though having a bunch of series does make it a bit easier.

BY GENERAL AESTHETICS?

This is how I’ve organized my shelves for the past few years. I just pull all the books off my shelves, and put them back in what ever order “feels” right. While this is the easiest and fastest way to organize for me, I want to try something different and refreshing, since I’m getting such a perfect opportunity to start over and try something new.

BY READ/TBR? 

With the way my books are organized now, I keep track of my TBR with little circular stickers. I really like the idea of separating TBR and Read books. The downside to this method of organization is that you have to shift all of your books every time you finish one (at least with series). This would be easier to do with standalones, as it doesn’t really matter where those go on your shelves, but with series you would have to make sure to leave enough room for all the books you need to add to the shelf as you read them.

CONCLUSIONS?

I have no idea how I want to organize my shelves. No method is perfect. The good thing is – I don’t have to make my decision now. I still have a little over a week before I move and get my new bookshelves. Maybe some inspiration will hit me once I get the shelves set up in my new bedroom, who knows?

 

How do you organize your bookshelves? How do you think I should organize mine? Let me know in the comments!!

-Sky

Discussion: Beautiful Book Covers

Hello!

One of the challenges for this year’s Booktube-a-thon is “Read a book you bought because of the cover”. I never cover-buy books; I’ll always read the description or some reviews first. So this challenge was a pretty difficult one for me. The good part of this is that it got me thinking about some of my favorite book covers, and I wanted to share a few with you all today!

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All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – this book is as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside. I love the blue and the turquoise colors blending together to depict the war-time city scape.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton – I have to say this picture doesn’t really do the book justice. The cover in real life is metallic, and made of a stationery-type paper that’s got almost like a fabric texture to it, with little threads weaving together in a cross-hatch. When I first read this book, I borrowed it from a friend, but I knew I had to buy my own copy because of the gorgeous cover.

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo – Are we noticing a pattern here? I like blue ok? It’s my favorite color. I love all the covers in this trilogy, because there’s little easter-eggs hidden if you pay attention. And each little detail is relevant to the story.

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Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken –  It was really hard for me to choose between this one and passenger, but I ended up going with this one, just because I love the idea of a tree growing under a glass dome like that. A whole little world inside, with the cityscape mirrored below.

The Marvels by Brian Selznick – Again, the picture doesn’t entirely do justice for this cover. The gold is beautiful and metallic, like it was gold-leafed. The indigo behind provides such a gorgeous contrast; it’s the perfect cover for one of my favorite books.

A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray: This whole series has some of the most amazing covers I’ve ever seen. This one has to be my favorite though. Space isn’t the most interesting visually, but I loved how they made it this rich, royal purple, rather just black or gray and boring. Plus, the stark scarlet against the purple is just stunning.

 

What are some of your favorite book covers? Have you read any of the books I mentioned? Tell me in the comments!

-Sky

 

Discussion: Disappointing Finales

Hello!

So, I’m sure we’ve all read series that made us fall in love with them, only to completely disappoint us by the last book. There are a bunch that I’ve read over the past few years, but the most recent one for me is definitely The Chronicles of Narnia.

The first few books in the series are so magical and innocent. As a child I completely fell in love with the world of Narnia, especially since I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe before I read Harry Potter. I was so envious of the Pevensies, and their magical land where they could be kings and queens.

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Then, the last two books happened. There was such a huge shift in the tone and the message of the books, and it was impossible to ignore the incredibly racist and sexist undertones running through the narrative. I was so confused. Where did all my innocent babies go?

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I think the only way I can cope is to pretend the last two books don’t exist. I’ll stick with The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, thanks. You can’t make me face reality, nope! Narnia is fine, and you can’t convince me otherwise. I’ll just go hide in my wonderful little fantasy world, now. Bye!

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What do you do when a series disappoints you? Have you read all of The Chronicles of Narnia? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

-Sky

 

Dream Author Panels

Hello!

Eventbrite is the largest self-service ticketing platform in the world, and they help people organize and plan conferences and events. Check out their conference management software! They reached out to me to invite me to participate in a project where book-bloggers like myself imagine their dream author panels that they would love to see at book conferences. As I’ve never been to a book conference before, I was very excited to participate and it didn’t take me long to figure out exactly who I’d want to hear from in an author panel.

I came up with five panels, each consisting of authors that fit a certain genre or category that I came up with. Here they are!

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Panel #1: LGBTQIA+ Authors

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Since June is PRIDE month, I of course had do include a panel of #ownvoices authors who write books with queer representation. For this panel I chose:

  • Adam Silvera – a gay man from the Bronx who writes M/M YA fiction (More Happy Than Not, History is All You Left Me)
  • Patrick Ness – a gay man from the UK who writes a variety of YA fiction, including gay main and side characters (Chaos Walking, More Than This, The Rest of Us Just Live Here, A Monster Calls, and more)
  • Meredith Russo – a transgender woman who recently published her first novel about a transgender girl named Amanda (If I Was Your Girl)
  • Nina LaCour – I believe she is lesbian, but I’m not sure so I’m not going to put a label, but she has a wife, so her books with F/F relationships are #ownvoices (We Are Okay, Everything Leads to You, Hold Still, The Disenchantments, You Know Me Well, and more)

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Panel #2: Feminist Authors

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It’s so important to have strong leading female roles in YA literature, and all four of these lovely ladies have written some AMAZINGLY badass female characters. Plus, they all have the cutest, sweetest presences on social media, and I would love to meet them all in person.

  • Becky Albertalli – Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, The Upside of Unrequited
  • Mindy McGinnis – A Madness so Discreet, Given to the Sea, The Female of the Species,  Not a Drop to Drink, and more
  • Alexandra Bracken – The Passenger duology, The Darkest Minds trilogy
  • Leigh Bardugo – The Grisha trilogy, Six of Crows duology

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Panel #3: Diversity (non-white authors)

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All of these authors have such amazing and unique books, and I think it would be fascinating to see how they’ve brought their own experiences into their writing. It’s so important to read diversely, but it’s also important to read #ownvoices books, which provide a more accurate depiction of marginalized identities. Honestly there were a bunch more I could have added, but I wanted to stick to four per panel.

  • Angie Thomas – and African American author. She recently came out with her first book, inspired by the #blacklivesmatter movement (The Hate U Give)
  • Evelyn Skye – I’m not sure her exact background, and I’m not going to guess. She has just published the second book in her duology about Russian enchanters (The Crown’s Game)
  • Khaled Hosseini – an Afghani author who has published three books set in the Middle East. (The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, And The Mountains Echoed)
  • Sabaa Tahir – again not positive on her background, but she is currently working on her third book in her amazing trilogy inspired by Ancient Rome (An Ember in the Ashes, A Torch Against the Night)

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Panel #4: Non-fiction Authors

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I’ve cheated a little bit here, as these are all authors who have written their own memoirs, or autobiographies. I don’t read nearly as much nonfiction as I should, so this is what I was able to come up with. All of these people have had such unique lives, and I think hearing from them would be life-changing.

  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – she’s a Nigerian author who has written several books set in Africa, and has spoken about her feminist beliefs (Half of a Yellow Sun, Americanah, We Should All Be Feminists, and more)
  • Malala Yousafzai – she’s a Pakistani girl who, at the age of 15, was shot by the Taliban for speaking about about her beliefs that all should receive an education. She has since become very active in the UN, and has become the youngest person to ever receive a Nobel Peace Prize (I am Malala)
  • Marjane Satrapi – she grew up in Iran during the Iranian revolution, and wrote about it in her graphic memoir (Persepolis)
  • Bill Hayes – a gay man who is a photographer and author. He was in a relationship with the late Oliver Sacks, and wrote about their time together in his beautiful book (Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me)

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Panel #5: My “Fictional” Dream Panel

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Ok, so for this last panel, I wanted to bring some people back from the dead. Just for fun. All these (dead) authors produced some of my favorite works of all time, and I would love to hear what writing advice they would offer, as well as more insight into their works. Plus, I’d love to see how they’d react to the popularity of their writings today (Van Gogh in Dr Who anyone?)

  • Jane Austen – my favorite book of all time is probably Pride and Prejudice, and getting to meet its creator may actually put me into a coma (Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Emma, and more)
  • William Shakespeare – who would turn down the opportunity to meet him and hear him talk about writing??? An eclectic playwright who created some of the most famous works of all time. Please, please bring him back. (Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, and more)
  • Emily Dickinson – I’m less familiar with her writing, but what I have read of it has left me absolutely breathless. I want to know how she chose her words. Can I just have her brain, please? (so many poems. so many)
  • Oscar Wilde – I want to meet this man. Please. Plus, I want him to see a world where it’s ok to be LGBTQIA+ and just. Yes. His writing is so great, and I’ve loved everything I’ve read by him. (The Importance of Being Earnest, An Ideal Husband, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and more)

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What authors would be on your dream panel? Have you been to any author panels before? If you could bring any authors back to life, who would they be? Tell me in the comments!

-Sky