WiP Wednesday (NaNoWriMo 2017 Prep Edition): Post #1

Hello, all!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything about my WiP (Work in Progress), as I’m sure you’ve noticed. Between schoolwork/college stuff, extracurricular commitments, traveling, and health issues, I haven’t been setting aside time to work on The L.S. MS, so I figured it was pointless to keep giving you the same update about how I hadn’t written anything this week…yet again.

But fast foward to the present, a month before school starts. School=fall, fall=November, November…

Yep, you guessed it. It’s NaNoWriMo prep season.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo for three years and won every single year. (Add me on the site, BTW! I’d love to make some more friends! 😀 ) However, it’s been harder in recent years for me to allot enough time to write once schoolwork kicks in; the ONLY reason I was able to win last year was through free-writing exercises, and even that was only after I’d decided (halfway through November, BTW), what the heck, why not try it.

But this year, I want to write a novel again–plotted, planned, and Pinterest-ed. Here’s my theory: In order for me to successfully win NaNo this year, I need to be able to just write like a manwoman. In order to do that, my story needs direction. To give it direction, I need time to flesh my story out. If I want that time, I need to start planning now.

So that is (the long-winded version for) why I am starting prep for NaNoWriMo now. Every Wednesday up (and through!) NaNoWriMo, I aim to give you updates on my planning process and word count so you can join along for the ride that will be writing this novel!

Let’s start with a few details about the book I plan to write:

My NaNoWriMo 2017 WiP

  • title: For now, I’ll just stick with calling my WiP “ATU” ; that’s how I’ll refer to it here. 🙂
  • word count goal: Right now, I just want to make it to 50k, but I’m thinking it’ll be anywhere from 60,000-70,000 words long–maybe more, depending on what happens while I’m writing.
  • genre: mostly YA contemporary, but (again!) with a paranormal twist
  • premise: gonna be vague here on purpose, but basically, ATU is an Orthodox Christian Phantom of the Opera retelling, containing some very autobiographical aspects. Things are going down, fam.


How I’m Planning

  • outlining: This is obviously the key to writing any successful novel (for me, anyway). I know a lot more about plotting than I did when I started prep for The L.S. MS, so I’m hoping this book will…actually have a plot. That’d be quite nice.
  • researching: There are several aspects of my novel which will involve research (some of which I can’t reveal because of spoilers!), but one very prominent aspect of this novel is abuse. I wanted to see how partner abuse is portrayed in YA literature, so I’m compiling a list of YA books featuring abuse, and I plan on reading all these books before November so I can get a better feel for how to write this relationship. I also need to dive in to some YA paranormal romance, because some of those relationships are seriously dysfunctional.

Here are the titles I have. If you have any recs, please share them with me!

  • more researching: I need to make a list of the things I need to research so I can actually get around to researching them. Have I used the word “research” enough times for your fancy yet?
  • finding music scores: I’m the type of writer who must write to music in order to be more emotionally invested in my work. So now, I have to find a movie/TV score to listen to while I write this thing. I love James Newton Howard, but I need something just as whimsical and “youthful,” if that makes sense, as it is dark. Basically, I need a score that sounds like something you’d write a young adult dark contemporary romance to. Any recs? (P.S. Actually finding a usable score would be a huge check off my to-do list for this book.)

So there you have it: my writing plans for the next few months. Think I can manage all that prep?

How are you prepping for NaNoWriMo this November? Got any tips?


335567Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, translated by Walter Starkie
Published by Signet Classics on October 1, 1965 (first published January 16, 1605)
Genres: historical fiction, classics
Pages: 1056
Format: Paperback
Amazon Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Audible

Rating: ★★★★

I’m not sure how accurate my rating of this book is for several reasons. Firstly, I read this book a year ago, which means it’s been a while since I’ve revisited what I’ve read. Secondly, this book was very, very long (the longest book I’ve ever read), and so some of my reactions while reading it will likely fall through the cracks of my poor little brain. (What can I say? Reading 50 pages of small, small type every day for 11 days just to get through this sucker will change a person.)

Thirdly, I’m pretty sure I read this incorrectly.

Don’t get me wrong: there’s no one “right way” to read a book. Every reader, just like every book, is different, and no two people will interpret the same book the same way. But I tend to begin classics expecting them to have a clear, linear plot progression and to follow the same clipped, standard formula so many modern books do today.

Yet I’m realizing now that’s not very realistic. These formulas probably didn’t exist in the seventeenth century, and I think what makes classics so timeless is that they’re more about their messages and what their stories symbolize than the stories themselves.

So, long story short, I need to change my perception and my expectations when I read classics, because they offer more than what they seem to give at first glance.

Don Quixote is about a normal guy in seventeenth-century Spain who starts reading so many books about knights, he believes he is one. Gifted with this new “revelation,” he sets off from his home to restore order and justice to the world–all while inadvertently adding to his own fame, unaware that his adventures are all make-believe.

This story is long. It rambles; many of the characters (Quixote included) wax poetic musings about love and loss and the glory of knighthood. In addition, there are many additional stories featured in this novel; if Don Quixote or Sancho Panza is being told a story, you’d better believe the readers will be hearing the unabridged version of that story, even if it has no relevance to the plot.

But maybe, one of my friends has suggested to me, that’s the thing: maybe all those deviations from Don Quixote’s tale are intentional. Because this isn’t really about Don Quixote’s “knighthood adventures.” It’s more about the people he meets and the lives he inspires with his contagious idealism and his thirst for justice (in a more abstract, romantic sense of the word). His behavior is quixotic (and yes, that word was actually inspired by this book), true, but he’s hopeful, and it transforms and brings joy to so many people.

I didn’t read it that way initially, and so I’ll admit that this was one of those books I appreciated more fully only after I finished it. It’s a long haul. But if you want to laugh about poor Sancho Panza and his attempts to please his “master,” Don Quixote; if you want a traditional, romantic hero who is truly pure of heart (sometimes to his extreme detriment, heheh); if you want damsels who aren’t actually in too much distress and stories about shepherds who fall dangerously (and seemingly pointlessly) in love, this is your book. But in order to appreciate it fully, you’ll have to commit to its length first.

Mood & Music Monday: 7/24/17

I’m still alive, hahaha, I promise! These past few weeks have just been really busy, is all, and I haven’t been able to devote much time to the blog. Hoping to break that cycle this week. Enjoy a new Monday update!

Hello, friends, and welcome this week’s Mood and Music Monday!

Mood and Music Monday is a weekly meme I’ve started, wherein I’ll post a song and talk about how it relates to my day/week, as well as a few other things. (And, in case anyone’s wondering, this meme has no relation to Lauren’s [from Always Me] “Music Mondays.”) Feel free to participate and to leave a link to your posts down in the comments!

Here’s the update for this week:


What are you listening to? A friend introduced me to Depeche Mode with this song the other day, and I’m in love! It’s on repeat. 🙂

What are you reading? I’ve finished ACOWAR, and I’m over halfway through The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I enjoy it, but I’m scared to finish it because I’m worried it’s not going to end well. :/ I’ve also started a book called But I Love Him by Amanda Grace for book research, and I’m about halfway through that. Liking it so far. 

What are you drinking? Kombucha, lemon water–anything fresh for a hot day.

Any goals for this week? I need to keep on task with outlining/book research and manage summer assignments. *pained smile* Deep breaths, Anastasia. It’s only Monday. 

How about you?

  • What song(s) are you listening to today?
  • What is your current read? Are you enjoying it?
  • Do you have any plans or goals for this week?


2999475Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Published by HarperTeen on August 26, 2008
Genres: young adult, realistic fiction, contemporary
Pages: 419
Format: Hardcover
Amazon Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Audible

Rating: ★★½

This book has moved so many. But all it did was confuse me.

I loved Finnikin of the Rock, so I wanted to check out more of Marchetta’s books, and I’d heard lovely things about this one. Unfortunately, everything about it was a mess for me: the plot, the setting…I was just so turned around.

So apparently the people at this boarding school of sorts are involved in territorial wars that were started years ago, but nobody really knows why the wars continue, and what their point is? The logic behind these territorial wars was poorly-explained, and I got lost in all the seemingly nonsensical rules involved in the war. My confusion made it difficult for me to picture the setting vividly because I was devoting too much time to trying to figure out what the heck was going on.

In addition to the territorial wars, Taylor, our MC, is also struggling with the disappearance of Hannah, who found Taylor on the Jellicoe Road years ago and has been a supportive constant in her life ever since her mother abandoned her. As Hannah’s absence is prolonged, Taylor begins probing into Hannah’s past…and learns more about her own.

It turns out Hannah’s past is actually much more closely connected to Taylor’s than Taylor ever could have imagined, and we get snippets of this past throughout the book. However, the way these snippets are interwoven with the main plot (whatever the heck the main plot was, anyway) makes this aspect of the book just one more layer of confusion, and the final twist was so vaguely explained that I actually had to look up a summary of the twist because I’d read it three times and was still confused. Thus, there was never any payoff for me.

I can see glimmers of good intention in this book, however. There are some touching, well-written moments where we see the impact of Taylor being abandoned (by more people than just her mom), and where we see her trying to grow into her own identity. I liked those moments. But, unfortunately, the vast majority of this book was me just furrowing my brow, leaving me confused by way more than just the hype.

Mood & Music Monday: 7/3/17

Hello, friends, and welcome this week’s Mood and Music Monday!

Mood and Music Monday is a weekly meme I’ve started, wherein I’ll post a song and talk about how it relates to my day/week, as well as a few other things. (And, in case anyone’s wondering, this meme has no relation to Lauren’s [from Always Me] “Music Mondays.”) Feel free to participate and to leave a link to your posts down in the comments!

Here’s the update for this week:


What are you listening to? I just learned yesterday that The Killers are releasing a new album this year (!!!!) after FIVE YEARS of waiting, and I’m SO excited. So, of course, their new single “The Man” has been on repeat. It’s a little different from their earlier content (totally getting Bee-Gees vibes), but I like it, and I can’t wait to hear more tracks off of Wonderful Wonderful.

What are you reading? I’ve started ACOWAR, and I’m almost to page 200 already! Please be good to me, Sarah J. Maas. Please.

What are you drinking? Kombucha and ice cold water; it’s been too warm for anything else.

Any goals for this week? Keep reading, heheheh. Also, scholarship applications. That sounds like a good plan, heheh.

How about you?

  • What song(s) are you listening to today?
  • What is your current read? Are you enjoying it?
  • Do you have any plans or goals for this week?

July 2017 TBR Pile

I’m not dead! I swear, I’m alive!

Hello, friends! I’m back from a family vacation, which means I’ll (finally) be posting more regularly, and it’s summertime, which means plenty of time to read. 🙂 Here’s my TBR (TBR = TBRead) for July.

Books I Plan to Read This Month

31451174ACOWAR (ACTOAR, #3) by Sarah J. Maas

After waiting for a while, this book finally came in the library (*squee!!!*) and I can’t WAIT to dive in. ACOMAF was so, so good, and I hope Maas knocks it out of the park at this end of Feyre’s story.






18006496Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4) by Sarah J. Maas

Yes, another SJM book, but I’m catching up in this series, and this book was also at the library, so why not? I look forward to it!






25667118ADSOM (Shades of Magic, #1) by V.E. Schwab 

I’ve heard so many good things about this series, and I own the first two books, but I haven’t read them yet. However, I went to London recently, and now I’m more interested in reading a book about (parallel worlds!) London. So I want to start this series this month. 🙂




8909152Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

I loved Eleanor & Park, and the premise for this sounds cute, so when I found it at the library, I picked it up. It’s short, too, which definitely helps. I’m excited to try it!






28119237Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger

I have to read this book for a summer assignment. Don’t normally read books like this, so I hope I like it.







Books I Hope to Read This Month

These are books I hope to read this month, but I’m not sure if I’ll have time to get for them. (I need to get back to #BeattheBacklist, heheheh.)

20560137An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes, #1) by Sabaa Tahir

I’m thinking of rereading this in anticipation of A Torch Against the Night. We’ll see. 😀








A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes, #2) by Sabaa Tahir


I’ve been meaning to read this book forever (I have a copy that’s been sitting on my shelf for a while now), and I’m hoping this is the month I get back into this world and these characters!





17927395ACOMAF (ACOTAR, #2) by Sarah J. Maas

Another possible reread? I checked it out from the library, so we’ll see.






24763621Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

I don’t feel like I was present to this book when I read it in February, so I’m considering rereading it and giving it a second chance. I’ll let you know if this changes, but I checked it out from the library, so stay tuned.

So, yeah, five books for sure (two of which are rather long)–possibly more, including rereads (which I almost never do). That’s the hope! Perhaps it’s time to try new things!



What about you?

  • How many books will you be reading this month?
  • Which of those books are you most looking forward to reading?


22892448The Color Project by Sierra Abrams
Published by Gatekeeper Press on July 18, 2017
Genres: young adult, contemporary romance
Pages: 464
Format: Paperback
Amazon Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Audible

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Before I read this book, I made a prediction. I’m normally terrible with predictions (unless we’re guessing the twist from Insurgent), but I was crossing my fingers and hoping I’d be right.

My prediction was this: that The Color Project would would feel like a Sarah Dessen novel, but with more heart.

Let me clarify what I mean by that, because I’ve said before (in my review of The Truth About Forever) that Sarah Dessen’s novels have more heart than your average mass-print YA contemporary. To some degree I still stand by that: Dessen is not afraid to touch on issues like chronic illness, the messiness of divorce, how a loved one’s actions can turn your life upside down, death of family members. Most of her characters deal with some serious topic such as these. But, in retrospect, I don’t feel that Dessen takes these issues home. Her books tickle the heartstrings like any Hallmark movie, but they’re too Hallmark-y (and similar, goodness gracious) to have a deeper, prolonged impact, though there’s certainly potential for such impact.

So when I say I was hoping TCP would be a Dessen novel with heart, I was hoping Sierra Abrams would address hard issues and have them hit home. I wanted intense and emotional and real. My prediction was that I’d get all three.

I’m pleased to say my prediction was correct.

I met Sierra sometime last year at a book signing, and I found out she was publishing a book through staying in contact with her on social media. So I know a little bit about this book’s journey and some of the inspiration behind the scenes. It’s hard to self-publish–mainly because you’re your own best publicist–and be successful. It’s even harder to self-publish your debut and get it right; a lot of “normally”-published books can’t even do that.

It’s hard, but it’s not impossible. Here, Sierra proves it.

I’m amazed by the life of this book. It’s a vibrant, pulsing thing–full of giggles and wide smiles and some incredibly heartfelt moments. This book doesn’t just ask for your attention while reading–it demands it, because it’s that engaging and that intense.

I loved Bee. So much. I’m not necessarily in the same position she is, but I can relate to her so well, and her voice just exudes off the page. She, too, is awkward and self-conscious, but she’s intense and sensitive by nature, and big-hearted by design. She’s my kind of girl. The writing style reveals some of her little mannerisms, like how she talks to herself a lot–sometimes to encourage, sometimes to shame herself. (Who doesn’t talk to themselves from time to time?) She’s just such a real character, so full of love for life, and her personality was too passionate to be ignored. It was so cute to see how Bee reacted to meeting Levi and being around him, and how Levi reacted to her. I was constantly grinning.

Speaking of Levi: wrap him up–I’ll take two! This boy (or, as Bee calls him, “the Boy,”) is adorable. He’s chivalrous, he’s respectful, he’s sensitive, he’s generous, and he’s stubborn, but in the good way. You’d think he’d quickly become the Manic Pixie Dream Boy (and there were some moments where he read more like a character than an actual person), but Levi’s just as real as Bee, and just as intense in his own ways. Their chemistry together–both the way it was written and the way it played out–was spectcular and realistic, even the conflict. It got cheesy during a few moments, but eh, cute couples are inevitably cheesy. They’re still my #relationshipgoals. 😉

Now on to the darker parts of this novel: the family tragedy. Bee’s experience with her family is based off the author’s own experience (key word being “based”), and my heart ached for both the author and her characters as we went through the uncertainty and desperation tragedies like these always leave in their wake. I won’t spoil anything, but this part of the book hit hard, and, despite never having something like this happen to me, I could easily sympathize with Bee and her family. There were many touching, tear-jerking moments.

This book is real (goodness, I’ve used this word a ton in this review) and honest–in so many heartwarming ways. Expect it to leave you laughing, crying, and grinning ear-to-ear with from warm fuzzies. When asked to find the balance between cutesy romance and meaningful, heartfelt moments, this book passes with flying colors.

Much thanks to the author for providing an ARC for me to read and review. I’ve been looking forward to this book for such a long time, so thank you for the opportunity! It more than delivered. 🙂