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

Review: THE SHADOWHUNTER’S CODEX by Cassandra Clare

THE SHADOWHUNTER’S CODEX is every Shadowhunters dream book.

My copy is the Limited Edition one which is basically it has a slipcase box with it? I’m not entirely sure on the difference but I can recall there’s not much nor is there any other special content here than there is in the normal copy.

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Although I haven’t read the entire thing just yet, based on what I’ve read, I am completely in love with this book — as I always am with all Clare books. When I say this book is ‘every Shadowhunters dream’ I mean it literally. I mean if you’ve followed all her books or maybe just starting to, this will guide you through and through. What’s best about it is that it has side-note writings from Jace, Clary and Simon! Not to mention the wonderful artwork— and COME ON… HAVE YOU SEEN THAT COVER (yes, obviously, but spare me and look again) Just look at it! This just may be my favourite cover of all her books!

I know I titled this post “REVIEW” but there’s really not much to review on this – especially when I’ve only read about 17 pages but I hope my fan-girling is enough of a recommendation — i mean, if you’re truly a Shadowhunter: what in the world are you doing? owning a copy of THE SHADOWHUNTER’S CODEX is a must!

So what do you think of this book? its cover? which of all Clare books has the best cover for you? Sound off in the comments below!

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UP NEXT:

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.

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.

– – –

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!

Review: THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN by Holly Black

DSC_0082One of my highly anticipated books of 2013, however, I’m sad to say it didn’t reach my expectations. Although keep in mind, this review is solely my opinion alone whether you agree with me or not, always give books a chance. That being said, THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN had a strong start, slow middle which ultimately led to me not continue reading it. The start was gripping and had me hooked until it just suddenly did not. This is also my first Holly Black book so I’m not sure if her readers will like this, however, if you are a Holly Black fan, do let me know what you think of this book or her other books — I just might give the others a chance.

THE GOOD

1) again, the start was INCREDIBLE. You want an evident example of a page-turner? this is the one.

2) Goth characters. I’m not sure if there’s even much goth characters out there in YA left but I liked this one.

3) Although we’ve seen the concept of vampires before, Holly Black surely succeeds in making THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN originally hers.

4) Gavriel … *smirks*

THE BAD

1) it lost me halfway. I can’t even explain it — I mean I was turning pages like rapid fire then I just didn’t. Although I didn’t finish it, it doesn’t mean I never will. I’ll get back to this book as soon as I clean up my other books to read and write reviews for.

If you’ve read THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN, do let me know what you think of it! I’d really like to finish this book soon.

OVERALL

If I were to go back to rating stars on books, I’d say out of five this was a 3.5 for me.

P.S. thank you Hatchette Canada for sending me this finished copy!

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