Updates: Winter Day

Welcome to Canada, where the weather was a beautiful 12 degrees yesterday and now it’s negative 12. What’s a better way to spend this cold, winter day? Stay home to read, do some research, do some writing  and watch shows!

Began watching Attack on Titan last night on Netflix and (of course) I’m hooked. I’m not someone who loves to watch anime or who even watches anime (I’ve got nothing against it, it’s just usually not my type… I’m more kdrama, I think– a select handful, at least). Totally love it. Thank you hype on Tumblr!

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Definitely forgot to mention here but I’ve set myself to start getting into the graphic novels business! Watchmen would be my second GN as I had gotten myself Sandman Vol 1: Preludes & Nocturnes as my first. Not only am I so overwhelmed with all the GN titles I want to read, it’s taking me a while to get around GNs. As someone who read just plain text all her life, I find it surprisingly challenging to read GNs — which of course I did not anticipate. Yeah, I’m that idiot that went, graphic novels? I can read through them like a breeze! WHOMP.

Well, I hope everyone is having a great day! Stay warm and happy reading 🙂

William Shakespeare says hi, and good day to you, human.

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EDIT: Have you seen the recent Vanity Fair photoshoot BY ANNIE LEIBOVITZ?

Definitely getting myself a copy!

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Introduction: Book Blog (+) and (-)

At the age of 13/14, I gradually became aware with the Book Blogging world (which then became Vlogging as well). I looked up to these people for they not only get the advantage of reading books in advance, their opinions matter to hundreds and thousands of people and I remember thinking: since I love reading, writing and sharing my passion so much — why not have my own book blog? 

So following that thought I did some research on what it’s like to run a book blog, what attributes of yourself is key to a successful blog, how to gain connections, etc. Upon seeing many opinions on running a book blog which ranged from: an absolute pleasure to it makes reading homework/this is too much/how do you do all that — I still decided to launch my own book blog which then had been poorly titled, Lit Up My World and fortunately, I did not struggle with requesting titles from publishers.

Now if you’re thinking of running your very own book blog here are a few key points to keep in mind:

Negatives

  1. Let’s just get this straight: if you wish to run a book blog solely for the reason that you  just want ARCs then please do not continue. Book blogging is not an express ticket to ARCs, it’s simply your platform to voice out (rather, type out) your opinions on books you’ve read or would like to read.
  2. It makes reading homework.
  3. This may be just me but you have to be a tad bit artistically inclined to design your own blog so then you can distinguish your book blog among the thousands of others.
  4. Time management, organization and commitment. This is something I’ve been very guilty about for weeks, if not months, because I just either couldn’t manage my time, did not have any organization in my life or the blog whatsoever and many days spent felt like I was too… tired to read, and truth be told, I haven’t read in a very long time and if I have, I slack off with writing a review on it. Sincerely apologizing to all readers/publishers. 
  5. You read the first book in the series and it’s an ARC… THE EXCRUCIATING WAIT FOR THE SEQUEL.

Positives

  1. “Do you get paid doing all this?” “YES! Through books” “Wow… isn’t that too much wo–” “yes and no, it’s worth it though”–> actual conversation I get when people find out I run a blog.
  2. It’s gratifying to know your opinion matters to people, that you influence people in selecting books through your passion.
  3. Great community! Everyone’s always helping each other out. Seriously, you can find a contact page on every book blogger’s site and they will accommodate any newbie because they know exactly how it feels. Especially speaking with the publishers’ publicists, they are all very nice and considerate.
  4. If you’re an aspiring author, practising your commitment and organization skills will greatly enhance your chances in finishing your first book or getting published

Tips

  1. Before requesting titles from publishers, ensure you’ve at least had 3 or 6 months of practice/ blog life. Unlike me, I did not prepare for it so now I’m struggling to cope with it — however, don’t mistake me. I LOVE my Ficsane Reads. 
  2. If you live outside of United States, or even if you do live in USA, have GoodReads and Netgalley. ARCs are expensive to make so sometimes they resort to sending them out through eARCs.

That’s all I can think of for now. I hope you study the art of book blogging before jumping into it but what matters most is that you ensure you enjoy it — the world, as it is, isn’t a pleasant place… let’s not add more burdens on your shoulder. Best of luck! Let me know if you need anything or any questions you’d like to ask.

 

Writing: Excerpt from NOT FOR ROBOTS

NOT FOR ROBOTS is a blog/page of essays tracking Laini Taylor (author of Daughter of Smoke and Bone series) progress in writing and the path to getting published!

I thought I’d share with you this awesome blog and this relatable piece from her Introduction to the blog.

If, however, you find writing both glorious and maddening, necessaryand impossible, dazzling and stultifying, there might be something here that clicks with you.

I’ve wanted to write books ever since I can remember. I was always going to be “a writer.”… I was a bad combination of dreamy and lazy, and add to that aspects of my personality (such as perfectionism) that conspired to prevent me from finishing things. Also, it’s very easy for us non-robots to persuade ourselves we’re on our right path in life, even when we’re actually sort of languishing in the wheel ruts beside our path, and not really on it at all. I, like many others, stood beside “my path” and watched wistfully as others boldly trod it.

I wasn’t writing.

The years passed. I did other things. I edited books written by others. I went to art school. Traveled. Got married. Moved to another state.

And then, finally, something snapped. I realized that if I wanted to write books. . . I had to, er, write books. And so, painstakingly, I began to do that. It was hard. 

As for everyone else, whether you be participating in NaNoWriMo or just writing on your own: best of luck! 🙂

Love, Michelle

Books On Writing: Writing Prep (II)

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This is PART TWO of TWO. Part One is WRITING: WRITING PREP (I)

This post will focus on my five recommended books that help you on your writing.

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1. YOUR CREATIVE WRITING MASTERCLASS by Jurgen Wolff

“Advice from the best on writing successful novels, screenplays and short stories. Featuring Austen, Chekhov, Dickens, Hemingway, Nabokov, Vonnegut.” 

This book is for those who have began but find themselves stuck and it also contains writing challenges/questions to get your mind going! This was my first ever creative writing guide book I bought for myself and till this day I, every now and then, read from this to gain perspective from the Greats.

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2. The Complete Handbook Of Novel Writing by Writer’s Digest 

“Everything you need to know about creating and selling your work” 

The title says it all. From “the Art and Craft of a Strong Narrative” to “Best-Selling Advice: Plot & Structure” to “Writing Process” to ” Interview with Novelists” (very successful and well-known ones) this book just covers everything for an aspiring fiction writer. Recommended to beginners-advanced in other words, everyone!

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3.  Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction by Orson Scott Card, Philip Athans, Jay Lake and Editors of Writer’s Digest

“How to create out-of-this-world novels and short stories” 

Again, the title says it all. It’s truly a fantasy/sci-fi writer’s dream guide book. It guides you from world-building to magic in a fantasy world. Example chapter titles:  ‘The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Experience’, ‘Magic’, ‘Witchcraft and Pagan Paths’, ‘Creature of Myth and Legend’ and much more!

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4. THE EVERYTHING GUIDE to Writing Your First Novel 

I recommend this book to someone who just began thinking of publishing their works/ wants to get into publishing/ wants to get started in writing.  It’s sort of the basics version of THE COMPLETE HANDBOOK OF NOVEL WRITING (see above) and as you can see on the red sticker, it includes a week-by-week plan to writing your first draft. 

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5. WONDERBOOK by Jeff Vandermeer 

Last but definitely not the least, my current favorite: WONDERBOOK. It’s an “illustrated guide to creating imaginative fiction”! This book includes essays from Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin, Karen Lord, Charles Yu, and much much more! So far the content I see are  for intermediate writers to advanced, however, I totally recommend this to everyone because it will surely guide you through the basics fundamentals of your book, writing and exploring your creative side, if not enhancing it. 

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I hope this post was helpful to all writers, readers and everyone else looking for nice writing guide books to get you started or help you along the way! It’s Day 4 of #NaNoWriMo – I hope you all are doing well, if not, do not give up! Keep going, as I’ve said on part one: knowing you tried is better than not trying at all! (and don’t half-ass it!)

Like always, feel free to comment or contact me if you have any questions regarding this post or anything about writing in general! Best of luck and have a wonderful day, all readers and writers!

UP NEXT:

1. BOOK REVIEW/FEATURETTE: THE SHADOWHUNTER’S CODEX by Cassandra Clare

2. BECOMING A BOOK BLOGGER –  in which I share you the plus and minuses of this hobby for any of you interested on having your own.

3. WRITING: ADVICES AND TECHNIQUES links  – In this post i’ll be sharing with you a list of my favourite reference sites on writing.

Love, Michelle 🙂

Writing: Writing Prep (I)

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DISCLAIMER: I’m no professional writer. In fact, I’m a struggling writer but I thought of sharing a few things for you guys getting started on writing or prepping for National Novel Writing Month! 

This is PART ONE of TWO posts about writing from books to techniques and to other advices. PART I will consist of: prep/tools you need – whether you’re planning to join NaNoWriMo or not, these are a few essential things to writers. PART II will consist of an in-depth look of the five books (seen above) – generally speaking, these are my five favourite writer’s guide books I own!

I wish you all the luck in the world with your future endeavours. Remember, if you know you want it, never stop trying to achieve it because at the end of the day knowing you tried is better than never trying at all.

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PREP

Tools you need:

1. Commitment – In other words, your novel or literature piece won’t write itself so get going.  

2. Notebooks – (of course, pens as well) An essential tool to keep track of your story, maybe write brainstorm ideas, etc. Because for me, I tend to focus better writing down my thoughts/ideas instead of typing them. It’s also a good storage of all your writing references because you might lose files in your laptop/desktop/gadget

3. Books – Reference books to guide you through your creative writing process (I’ve got five to recommend you! See below)

4. Headphones (optional) – It is essential, for me at least, to block outside noise and get ‘in the zone’ and this is only made possible by listening to your favourite songs or songs that can get you “in the mood” of the scene you’re writing. As for songs I listen to, I’m very eclectic on my choices – but rarely, if not none at all, on screamo/hard rock songs. It’s all up to you!

 PEP TALK/Friendly-Reminder, a quote from WONDERBOOK

(Quote edit: by me, Michelle Mags. But the background belongs to the Wonderbook artist)

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Need more to motivate you? Check out Pinterest and search “Writing” – there will be plenty of motivational quotes and writing advices!

 TECHNIQUES

Here are a few techniques I  use while mastering the craft of writing… or even getting myself started to write:

1. Successful Authors

-My personal favourite technique is watching interviews of successful authors such as Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin and much more. Being able to hear their insight is wonderful and always very inspiring! Also, you don’t necessarily have to watch interviews, maybe even read articles about them or that they wrote with their insight on writing and a few advices they give. It’s truly a “learning from the best” method.

2. Pinterest

-I love Pinterest so much. It’s really your virtual visual cork board! It’s great for inspiration and organizing visual notes — also it’s just a really awesome website, especially when you follow the right boards according to your preference.

3.. Prompts

-I learned about prompts about two years ago and it has helped me immensely, especially on days where I sit in front of my laptop screen and sob until words finally come out – no seriously, I really struggle most days (and sometimes it makes me doubt if I can even do this but NEVER EVER GIVE UP YOUR DREAM!) P.S. Prompts can be found anywhere. Google it, or maybe even Tumblr it. 

4.. The WHAT IF list

-A brainstorming method that can totally gear up your creative writer. To me, this method works wonders.

5. Poems

-I used to despise the poetry section during my English class (thanks to the assignments – aka writing your own poem), yet I gradually realized how important it is to understand poetry, to feel the rhythm of its words and to see the depth of its complexity. Poems can help you enhance your skill on describing a scene, poems are also incredibly thought-provoking and can get you going if you’re on a rough start or stuck in writing.

6. Step Away From It

It’s essential for you to try your best to get writing, to not depend on inspirations, however, it’s also important to learn how to stop and step away from a really frustrating WIP. Trust me, that one hour of trying to write an entire paragraph could be spent for further research for your novel, or maybe read another book.

7. Your Favourite Novel + The Worse Book You’ve Read

I’m sure many of you have heard this and I’m certain not many of you have tried it — like you, I wasn’t a fan of this idea, I wasn’t really interested in dissecting my favourite novel, however, it truly helps to see the plus and minuses of your favourite book and at the same time seeing why the “worse book” didn’t cut out for you.

8. Try not to focus on one genre

-This applies to both reading and writing. If you’re someone into fantasy young adult, try reading some science fiction or contemporary, maybe even expand your horizons more by reading adult fantasy or horror. Completely up to you but it is nice to have more options and a more cultivated mind.

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I hope you find this post useful! This is PART ONE of TWO posts.

Up next: BOOKS ON WRITING!

Stay tuned 🙂 

Also, later on I’ll be writing a few posts:

1. BECOMING A BOOK BLOGGER – in which I share you the plus and minuses of this hobby for any of you interested on having your own.

2. WRITING: ADVICES AND TECHNIQUES Links – In this post i’ll be sharing with you a list of my favourite reference sites on writing.

If you have any questions or want more advice/techniques, please do leave a comment below.

Good luck and happy reading!