The Writer’s Tag

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Nobody tagged me for this, but I saw it on Reading Every Night and thought it looked like fun! I’ve been writing a lot more recently.  Not only has the quality of my writing improved, but so have my habits. I’ve become more at ease with the kind of writer I am and what works for me.

What genres, styles, and topics do you write about?

I write mostly fantasy! I tend to flit between YA and Adult, or fall in that nebulous category right in between, but usually it’s fantasy. Although I do have one women’s fiction/romance work that’s hidden deep within the recesses of my laptop and shall not be seen by any human eyes for a long, long time, if ever.

A lot of the topics I write are things that I want to see in books, so, female friendships, lots and lots of female characters, f/f relationships, men and women being friends and just friends, diverse characters, non-western fantasy settings, women who are not defined by romance, trope subversion, and lots of magic.


How long have you been writing?

For a while! I wrote my first completed short story when I was…twelve, I think? It was a murder mystery called “Jealousy Can Be Murder.” It had a cover page with Microsoft Word images. It was really, really terrible. Right around the same time I started writing Inuyasha and Harry Potter fanfiction.


Why do you write?

I love creating different world and different characters. But I also need to write, because if I don’t, my head gets so cluttered with different thoughts and plots and people that I can hardly think straight. I daydream a lot, and a lot of those daydreams turn into my stories. If I don’t get them on paper, they drive me insane.


When is the best time to write?

There’s never one specific time; it really depends on my mood. Sometimes I’ll be all fancy and go to a nice coffee shop (rarely), but most of the time I’m just sneaking in time to write whenever I can. Usually it’s during my free time at work. Sometimes it’s weekend evenings when the house is quiet.  Sometimes it’s at night after I’ve come home from work. I’ve found that it’s good to write whenever and wherever and not tie it down to a certain aesthetic or anything.


What parts of writing do you love and hate?

The parts of writing I love are…

  • Creating new characters and giving them names and descriptions and personas
  • Creating maps of new worlds and world-building in general
  • The initial burst of energy and inspiration when I can’t stop writing
  • Making pretty sentences

The parts of writing I hate are…

  • Plotting.  I loathe plotting and I always worry that I’m terrible at it. There’s just so much thought that needs to go into plotting, you know? It’s like, is there enough conflict? Do the characters have realized arcs that mesh with the plot? Is there an inciting incident, climax, etc? Is it interesting enough? Is it fast-paced? Is there a twist? Where’s the twist? Is the twist shocking enough? Does everything make sense? It’s obviously the crux of the novel but I’m so insecure about it.

How do you overcome writer’s block?

Whenever I’m “blocked” it’s usually just because I’m stuck with something to do with the plot. This usually comes in the outline stage, since I’ve discovered I don’t like to start writing unless I have a completed outline. Anyway, whenever this happens, I either go read another book to get some inspiration or try to find inspiration from something else. Pinterest is great for that.


Are you working on something at the moment?

I’m working on many things! I have a fantasy WIP that I’m pretty serious about; it’s fully outlined and I’m halfway done writing it. Once I’ve edited it I want to start querying for agents with it, so fingers crossed. I have a bunch of other WIP novels in the works, and also a bunch of short stories.


What are your writing goals this year?

  1. Finish my current WIP, edit it, and start querying.
  2. Finish the two short stories I’ve been working on since forever.
  3. Outline another WIP.

I don’t quite know who to tag (I suck at tagging anyway), but if obviously if you feel like doing this, go forth, and pingback to me so I can read your answers!

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The Ultimate Harry Potter Book Tag

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Okay. Believe it or not, I was tagged to do this tag by Rachel way back in June.  I’m not quite sure why I never did it, though? Anyway, since I find myself in a bit of blogging slump (and a reading slump, actually), and it’s the holidays (what better holiday book than Harry Potter?) I figured I would finally, finally do this!

I don’t talk about Harry Potter much on this blog, mostly because I’ve stopped relying on it like I used to, but you would be wrong to think it doesn’t mean more to me than any other series in the world. It was through Harry Potter that I discovered not only a love of reading but a love of writing. It was through Harry Potter fanfiction websites that I developed technical skills in writing. It was through Harry Potter that I met some of my best friends. It was through Harry Potter that I survived three miserable years living in Egypt. The series absolutely changed my life.

There used to be a time when I would re-read Harry Potter in its entirety at least once a year, but I haven’t done this in three years, the longest I’ve ever gone.  I think it’s just because I haven’t been doing very much re-reading in general, since there’s so much other new stuff to read that I can’t justify re-reading. But anyway, Harry Potter will always be my first book love and my first major fandom. Just wanted to establish that before I started on this tag!

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End of the Year Book Tag

ENDOFYEARBOOKTAG

I was tagged for this by the lovely Steph at Lost Purple Quill! Thanks Steph! I haven’t done a book tag in forever. (I’m also pretty certain someone else tagged me for this as well at some point…I’m SO BEHIND on things I’m tagged on.)

ETA: OMG, I just realized why I thought I was tagged for this before! I was, way back in September, by Rachel! I can’t believe I didn’t remember this at all.  My answers are totally different!

1. Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?

I don’t usually like to leave books hanging for a long time, so nothing aside from what I’m reading now! I am determined to finish The Bloodprint before the end of the year, though it’s turning out to be one hell of a slog and I have to force myself to read it.

2. Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?

Hmm, not particularly, although I am finding myself partial to a particular brand of historical fiction at the moment. I’m currently reading The Dark Days Club, which takes place in Victorian London, and I don’t want it to end! I’m finding it super cozy and charming.

3. Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?

I don’t believe so…Jade City just came out so I’m really excited to get my hands on that, but I don’t think there’s anything else at the moment. Not that I would remember if there were!

4. What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

You know what I’ve been realizing? That planning out what I’m going to read has kind of been bumming me out.  Like, it’s fine to make vague plans of what I want to read in the future, but to structure it strictly like I did for the past two months really took the joy out of it. One of my favorite things to do, when I’m on the verge of finishing a book, is go through Goodreads summaries on my TBR to rediscover a book I want to read. That way there’s a bit of a surprise in it for me!

That being said, I would really love to read The Hate U Give, which I have waiting on my Kindle at the moment! Everyone and their mother has read this, it’s being turned into a film (actors have already been cast!), and I think it’s still on the NYT bestseller list. I really need to get on this.

5. Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favourite book of the year?

I doubt it. I’ve just read too many awesome books this year! I’m sure I’ll enjoy The Hate U Give, but I don’t think a contemporary will take the place of my favorite book when I’ve read some incredible fantasy books this year.

6. Have you already started making reading plans for 2018?

Vaguely! As I said, I’m trying not to plan too strictly.  I know I’m definitely starting Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles in a buddy read led by Chelsea at Spotlight on Stories, which I’m very excited for.  And I think Chelsea wants to read Jane Eyre around then, so I’ll likely join her in that. I also really want to read Libba Bray’s Diviners series.  Oh, and the sequel to The Traitor Baru Cormorant is coming out, so I’m planning a re-read of the first book before the second, since I’ve surely forgotten everything, and I think Rachel is planning on reading it with me!  LOL, I realize this is already pretty strict planning…alas. I’m still super excited for these reads.


I suck at at tagging and I think this meme has made the rounds already, so do it if you like, and do ping back to me so I can read your answers!

Reread, Rewrite, Burn Tag

I saw this post on Rachel’s blog, and I’ve been meaning to take a go!

THE RULES:

  • Randomly choose 3 books
  • For each group, decide which book to burn, which one to rewrite, and which to reread (like Marry, Boff, Kill).
  • Repeat until you completed three rounds (or six) (or however many you want to do).

REREAD: A Chalice of Wind.  While Balefire is not my favorite of Cate Tiernan’s works (I think I got bored halfway through the second book), I recall enjoying it somewhat. It also had some interesting plot points about witchcraft in New Orleans!

REWRITE: Poison’s Kiss was a book with such enormous potential! It’s about a young girl trained to be a poison maiden – or a “Visha Kanya” as they were called in Ancient India.  The Visha Kanya allegedly had blood and bodily fluids that was poison to others, but in Poison’s Kiss the protagonist (Lord, I can’t even remember her name!) just has to kiss someone in order to kill them. There’s a boring and predictable romance and the protagonist herself is just so boring. This is the sort of book I’d rewrite as an adult novel, because it really needs more violence and sex to make it interesting.

BURN: Sharp Objects. Sorry, Gillian Flynn. I did actually like this book, but alas.


REREAD: Kissing the Witch, for sure! I read this book such a long time ago that I don’t remember any of the stories. I think I would appreciate it more now.

REWRITE: The Sea of Monsters, I guess? I loved the Percy Jackson series, but I really hated the portrayal of Hades and Persephone, so I’d rewrite it and change that.

BURN: Neverwhere. I’m not a fan of Neil Gaiman, though I do think this book was one of his more palatable works.


REREAD: The Final Empire.  I don’t know if I’ll ever re-read this entire series one day, but I really want to. I remember upon finishing it being absolutely floored by the genius of the plot. Everything came together so brilliantly in the end.

REWRITE: Rebecca. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Rebecca, but I could definitely see myself writing a different version of it. The main plotline is pretty straightforward, but with different characters and different settings the story itself could radically change.  I could set it in Cairo or something and have some fun with it.

BURN: The Mysterious Benedict Society. I had to read this for a Children’s Literature class in college and I didn’t like it. It was touted as “the next Harry Potter” or something, but it is…not. It’s really boring and basic.


REREAD: Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth is always a treat.

REWRITE: The Blind Assassin. I kind of want to re-read this too because I’ve forgotten a lot of it (I read this like…six years ago?), but I remember I really loved the fantasy aspects of it. The realistic aspects of it were fine, but I wasn’t as into them. I would rewrite it to be entirely fantasy, probably.

BURN: Living Dolls. There was nothing particularly wrong with this book, but it’s just so basic. If you’re at all familiar with advanced feminist theory, this book isn’t going to tell you anything you don’t already know.


REREAD: Dreams of Shreds and Tatters. This book is so good and so creepy. It’s inspired by the tale of the Yellow King, which is a vaguely Lovecraftian tale that was actually written before Lovecraft and served as his inspiration (yes, I know calling it Lovecraftian is anachronistic and makes no sense).

REWRITE: The Penelopiad. I like this book a lot, but it’s not particularly great at its representation of women, oddly enough! I’d definitely rewrite it and portray the women in more complex and humanizing ways.

BURN: The Kingdom of Gods.  This is the only thing I’ve read by Jemisin that I did not like. It just feels so messy, going from subplot to subplot without anything really connecting them. And the main character was super annoying.


REREAD: The Diviners, for sure. Y’all, it was such a good book. I don’t even remember anything but little snippets of it, but it was creepy and funny and thrilling and gave me Jazz Age goodness with a side of Great Awakening conspiracies.  Now that the whole series is out and finished, I’m definitely planning to read the whole thing! Probably some time next year.

REWRITE: Monstress. I love this graphic novel, but if I were to rewrite it, first off, it would be a regular old novel, since I can’t draw to save my life, and second, I’d rewrite it to suit my tastes more. Which means, no talking animals or whatever they are.

BURN: Dreams From the Witch House. This book is a collection of Lovecraftian short stories by women.  It was fine, but unfortunately most of the tales were forgettable. Also, I don’t know why I’m so drawn to Lovecraftian things when I know I get frustrated by weird fiction. It’s always so vague! I hate vague endings!


This was so fun! I’m not going to tag anyone but do link back to me if you do this!

The One Lovely Blog Award, Take #2

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Thanks for tagging me for this Rachel! This couldn’t have come at a better time. I was supposed to do today’s Top 5 Tuesday but I got super lazy. Then I came close to doing a Tumblr meme I swiped but it turned oddly personal so I decided not to. I guess I can share some facts from that meme, though!

The Rules

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog.
  • Add the One Lovely Blog Award logo to your post.
  • Share 7 things about yourself.
  • Pass this on to as many people as you like (max 15).
  • Include this set of rules.
  • Inform your nominees.

7 Facts About Me

1) I live in New York City, and I would give my left pinky toe to leave (okay, maybe not any of my actual extremities, but you get the idea).  I hate that’s it’s so ridiculously expensive to rent closet-sized apartments, I hate the noise and the crowds, I hate that there’s no nature, and I hate how dirty it is all the time.  Just this morning as I was walking to work holding my breath, I thought, “God, what would it be like to walk outside without having to inhale the scent of piss!” Anyway, it’s nothing personal against NYC in particular (which definitely has a ton of upsides!), I’m just not a city person.

2) I don’t really have a “bucket list” but one thing I really want to do before I die is see the Northern Lights in person. A few years ago I charted a trip to Abisko, Sweden and even found a lodge I could stay in and everything.

3) My fashion sense is very casual/cozy/comfy while still trying to maintain some semblance of professionalism.  Basically, I dress like Clara Oswald, so lots of dresses over tights/leggings with boots/booties.  I even have a leather jacket.  But yeah, comfort is my top priority.  I haven’t worn jeans in nearly a year.

4) I really want to get an MFA (Masters in Creative Writing) at some point soon in my life. I’ve looked up various programs that are fully funded and I’ve got a good idea of where I would like to go.  I’m not sure when I’ll do this, but I’ll probably start looking towards the ~next step~ in my life as soon as I get my MLS (Masters in Library Science), which I’m working on at the moment.

5) As much as it pains me to admit it, I’m a terribly messy, unorganized person. I really want to be organized and every now and then I’ll make an effort to be less of a mess of a person, but inevitably it all comes crashing down around me.  I’m a bit flaky and absentminded to go along with it, so I’m always misplacing things and forgetting things. I really admire people who are super organized and color coordinate everything and whatnot, but I never seem to be able to achieve that #aesthetic.

6) I am not musically inclined at all.  I really wish I could sing, but according to everyone in my family I have a horrible singing voice and can’t carry a tune to save my life.  I took that “Tone Deaf Test” and I’m not actually tone-deaf at all, but I’ve never had any musical training and I know exactly zero about music.  I wish I could play an instrument but only in that abstract way where I don’t have to put any effort into it.  Singing, though, I wouldn’t mind putting effort to become better at; I really admire people who can sing.

7) I’m a really nostalgic and obsessive person and I have trouble letting go of things.  It could be a website or a fandom or a place or even a mood; I have a tendency to find a comfort zone and want to stay there forever. Needless to say, I struggle with change.

Tagging:

She Reads at Past Midnight
Paperback & Flick Chick
Perspective of a Writer

The End of the Year Book Tag

Saw this on Rachel‘s blog!

Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?

Well…not this year, but there is a book that I started one or two (or three) years ago that I still need to finish.  It’s The World Since 1945 by T.E. Vadney and it’s a really, really good historical overview of world events with a focus on the Third World.  I read like half of it and really enjoyed it but it’s also straight-up history so it does get a little dry.

Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?

I don’t usually do this seasonal reading thing, but this year I thought I might read Rebecca for the month of October! Since it’s supposed to be ~atmospheric~ and all. But I also need to read The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin before the end of October because I’m going to the Sirens Conference in Colorado and she’s the keynote speaker! Not that I think she’ll spoil her book, but I’m sure there will be people in attendance keen to discuss it.  All  this, of course, is if I finish reading War and Peace, Little and Lion, and The Library of Fates by the end of September.

Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?

What am I not waiting for, honestly? There are so many great books coming out. I’m especially looking forward to Madeline Miller’s Circe, Fonda Lee’s Jade City, Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone, and Julie C. Dao’s Forest of a Thousand Lanterns.  There’s way, way more, but those are the ones that stick out.  (A couple of these come out next year, but alas.)

What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

So I mentioned Rebecca, there’s that.  Oddly enough, I also really want to read Wuthering Heights.  Maybe that can be one of my November books.  I’ve also heard great things about Amanda Foody’s Daughter of the Burning City so I want to get my hands on that.

Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favorite book of the year?

I have read so many great books this year, from Saints and Misfits to The City of Brass that I think it will be difficult for another book to top them, but we’ll see!

Have you already started making reading plans for 2018?

Nope! I don’t really plan out my reading schedule far in advance.  At most I have a sense of the next 3-4 books I want to read, but otherwise I just generally go by my mood.  The only thing I know is that I want to continue expanding my horizons.  Reading War and Peace was something I never thought I would do in my lifetime, and yet here I am, 60% of the way through and on my way to finishing! It was certainly not as daunting as I thought.  So I want to read more classic literature, mainly by women.  There are also some authors I keep seeing that I hope to get into, like Aliette de Bodard and Kate Elliot.

Go for this, y’all! Pingback to me if you do this.

I Dare You Book Tag

This weekend, I was supposed to finish off a book at home, considering War and Peace is taking up all of my subway reading time. Unfortunately, I instead got caught up watching Peaky Blinders (maybe I’ll post about that at some point).  So, instead, I figured I would do a book tag I saw floating around! Not sure where it originated from, so let me know if you know, so I can pingback to them.

RULES:
You must be honest
You must answer all the questions
You must tag at least 4 people

1. What book has been on your shelf the longest?

Yikes. I’m seriously guilty of buying books and telling myself I’ll read them but never getting around to them.  Maybe…The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe? I bought it way back in high school when I was seriously emo.  I realized too late that I wasn’t actually all that into Poe.

2. What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next?

I am currently reading War and Peace, a beast of a novel, which is why I haven’t been posting reviews lately. My last reads were The History of White People and This Savage Song. As for what I’ll read next, it will likely be either Little & Lion or The Library of Fates.

3. What book did everyone like, but you hated?

I think I just talked about this in the last book tag I did, but I didn’t really hate The Wrath and the Dawn. A book I did hate is Marie Lu’s Legend.  I thought it was awful on just about every level, which is strange because I really loved her other series, The Young Elites.  Maybe I’m just not into dystopia.

4. What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?

Oh man. A whole bunch of classic/literary books, probably.  I’ve had The Odyssey on my bookshelf for years and keep telling myself I’ll read it, but…who am I kidding.

5. What book are you saving for retirement?

Well, perhaps not retirement, but I really want to have a lot of time and mental energy on hand when I start Steve Erickson’s Malazan series.  It’s such a dense, gigantic series with so many characters and so much rich world-building that I want to be certain I have enough time to devote to it.

6. Last page: read it first, or wait ’til the end?

Oh my goodness, I avoid this like the plague.  Even if I’m gonna check for a glossary or to see how many pages there are in a book, I will literally cover up the rest of the page. You see, I was scarred as a youngster. When Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince came out, I accidentally read a page towards the end and was spoiled for Dumbledore’s death. It was traumatic. Now I am always extra careful when flipping through a book.

7. Acknowledgement: waste of paper and ink, or interesting aside?

I loooooooove reading acknowledgments; I legit look forward to them.  As an aspiring writer, I really enjoy seeing how authors sum up their work and the effort that went into it. And some authors can be quite witty in their acknowledgements.  It’s also very useful to see authors thank their agents, because when you start querying you might want to go find those agents and/or their literary agencies!

8. Which book character would you switch places with?

Probably Morgan Rowlands from Cate Tiernan’s Sweep series. Like, that series was absolutely formative for me as a teenager. I loved seeing Morgan go from shy high school teenager to powerful and respected witch.  Tiernan captured the beauty of Wicca and magick so effortlessly that I couldn’t help but want to be immersed in all that.

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life? (Place, time, person?)

Well, I do have a copy of The Stone Sky signed by N.K. Jemisin. I didn’t meet her or talk to her, but I did attend the book launching event for the book, where pre-signed copies were on sale. It was an awesome event; it felt so cool to be in the same room as so many Jemisin fans!

10. Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.

An ARC of The City of Brass! I was just browsing in and around the author’s Twitter when I saw the publisher had tweeted asking if anyone wanted an ARC! They DM’ed me for my address and a couple of weeks later I had the book!

11. Have you ever given a book away for a special reason to a special person?

Not a special reason, but I’ve given away some books that I know I won’t be reading again.  Mainly old Jodi Picoult books (I was obsessed with her books for a long time).

12. Which book has been with you most places?

Harry Potter, though not the same copies.  I’ve lost HP copies to flood and travel throughout the years, so in 2014 I bought a brand new set. But HP, particularly Sorcerer’s Stone, tended to come along with me if I was embarking on any brand new part of my life. So my first day of middle school in Egypt, my first day of junior year back in New York, my first day of college, my first day of work…it brings me comfort. It’s like having a friend with me.

13. Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad two years later?

Hmm, I actually didn’t hate most of my required reading in high school! I remember liking The Great Gatsby, The Color Purple, The Bell Jar, Pride and Prejudice, and Ethan Frome.  What I did loathe was The Scarlett Letter and a whole bunch of short stories.

14. Used or brand new?

Both! I absolutely love used bookstores, wandering the aisles and discovering a steal! But I really enjoy new books as well; I love the smell of brand new books.

15. Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?

Oh, man. He was another one I was obsessed with when I was younger.  I was really into The Da Vinci Code. Like, to an unhealthy extent.  This was my conspiracy phase, so I got really obsessed with all the history and secret groups mentioned in the books, as well as cryptography.

16. Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?

Twilight, oddly enough. I’m also reasonably sure that I’ll like the movie IT better than the novel. I mean, I’ve never read the novel, but that’s only because I really struggle to get into anything by Stephen King.

17. Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks included?

Hmm…probably Game of Thrones! GRRM is so descriptive when it comes to food! I know some people are annoyed by that, but I enjoy it.

18. Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?

My friend Rachel @ pace amore libri because I think she really gets my likes and dislikes, and Chelsea @ Spotlight on Stories because we like a lot of the same things!

19. Is there a book out of your comfort zone (e.g., outside your usual reading genre) that you ended up loving?

Well, I’m about halfway through War and Peace now, and that is definitely miles out of my comfort zone, but I wouldn’t say I love it. I like it well enough to continue reading it, but…I definitely have a lot of frustrations with it too.  I guess a better answer would probably be Sister of my Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.  It’s very literary fiction of a cultural bent, a coming of age story, about two girls growing up side by side in India.  Not something I would ordinarily pick up, but the fact that it was about India specifically drew me to it, since India tends to share a lot of cultural similarities with the Middle East, which is where I’m from. I ended up absolutely loving it mainly because of the bond between the two main characters. I’m a sucker for intense, sisterly female friendships (particularly ones that evolve into more than that, although that doesn’t happen here), and this book delivers.  Unfortunately I thought the sequel was terrible and unnecessary, but one day I will go back and read this book, since I read it for the first time way back in 2013.

I’m actually gonna tag some folks, hurray!

I tag:

Pace amore libri
Spotlight on Stories
Lost Purple Quill 
Perspective of a Writer
Words With Bri