2019 Goals and Indiecember Final Board (I won a prize pack!)

Internet was kind of spotty where I was so I put off blogging until I’m back from the Philippines.

Indiecember

I’m happy to report I’ve completed flush style for my Indiecember board which ultimately looked like this:

indiecember2018

I also wrote about Indiecember in the following posts:

Here are my Amazon reviews for the last few books since my last update:

Sorted: Freedom Through Structure by Gillian Perkins

img_6375This book feels like 40% instruction and 60% encouragement. That 60% is working because I am very encouraged to apply the principles laid out in this book when my vacation ends. Although both my fiance and I are slightly organized and our place is not that messy to begin with – and we try not to have too many stuff at home as well because we move to a different apartment every two years – I still feel that there’s still a lot of clutter and a complete lack of routine. A routine is something I feel I personally need, especially in the near future, since I plan on doing a personal project in addition to… well, adulting. I think that this book will provide a great guide to achieve a doable routine. I can even start by using the author’s examples and tweaking it to fulfill my needs. I’ve been eyeing this book for some time now, and I’m glad I finally got it. And for sure, this won’t be the last time I’ll be reading this.

So To Honor Him: the Magi and the Drummer by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

img_6398The Little Drummer Boy has always been a song to me – my favorite Christmas song actually – and I never came across a telling of it as a story. So to take notice of this as a historical fiction type novella intrigued me, especially during the Christmas season. (I’ve long since become an atheist, but I respect and appreciate Christmas, be it fact or fiction. It’s a wonderful holiday to spend with family!) I enjoyed reading and learning through the slave drummer Arash’s perspective, and it was eye-opening to discover what it would have been like during that time period. Both Arash and Saman are likeable characters and I would have liked to continue following them beyond the events of this story. Overall, this is a charming retelling of The Little Drummer Boy and I wish there was more to it.

Boracay Vows by Maida Malby

img_6447I haven’t been reading a lot of romance novels and I’m not really the target audience for this book, so I don’t know how it compares to other romances nowadays. The sexy parts were definitely spicy for sure but storywise it wasn’t as impressive as I’d hoped. However despite the plot feeling contrived and rushed, the male character quite bland, and the conflict kind of lackluster, it still was quite an enjoyable read especially with all the Filipino touches. I’m also Filipino, so I really appreciate that. It’s also a nice look into multicultural romance, and the relationship between these two individuals – despite their somewhat adult arrangement – was kind of sweet.

I was definitely more active in Instagram when it came to updating my Indiecember progress and the link to my Indiecember stories is here.

I’ve somewhat became a bookstagrammer in December (because I wanted to record my Indiecember progress) and now I think I may continue to post bookstagram photos. It’s just a little bit tricky with ebooks because the light reflects on my iPad and I have to get creative in getting good shots. I don’t also know if I can read as much books in one month as I did in December so I may not post as often as I did then. But if you’re interested, you can follow me on Instagram here.

Lastly, I won a prize pack! I got an email from Megan Tennant – the creator of the Indiecember Reading Challenge – saying, “Congratulations!!! You won a prize pack with multiple physical books, a $10 Amazon gift card, and some other assorted goodies!” Yay! She also announced the winners in this YouTube video. Some, if not all, of these books in the prize pack (I don’t know yet what the books will be) will definitely go into my 2019 reading goal of 50 books. It would also be nice to take photos of physical books for Instagram!

2019 Reading Goals

img_6512I definitely intend to read more books this year, especially fantasy books, because I am planning to write a fantasy novel myself. For the past two years or so, the books I’ve read and re-read are mostly the Witcher series and A Song of Ice and Fire series.

I also have five indie books in my December TBR that I was not able to read in December in favor of other indie books for my Indiecember board. So I’d like to finally read them this year, within January or the next two months if possible.

Lastly, I’ve been intending to complete The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini but I’ve put that on hold for Indiecember. I got all the four books in one compiled volume in my Kindle app but I’ve read the first three a long time ago. I am thinking of rereading the whole entire thing.

My Goodreads Reading Challenge Goal for 2019 is 50 books. I feel optimistic about it and I think I can accomplish it. Wish me luck!

In summary:

  • Read 50 Books in 2019 (some of them can be from the prize pack)
  • Finish The Inheritance Cycle
  • Read the 5 indie books in my December TBR, namely: Eve: The Awakening by Jenna Moreci, It’s Killing Jerry by Sharn Hutton, The Confectioner’s Guild by Claire Luana, Echo: Approaching Shatter by Kent Wayne, and The Lone and Level Sands by Emerson Grey.
  • Read at least 12 Fantasy Books (where a series would count as one)

2019 Writing Goals

img_6198First of all, I definitely want to participate in NaNoWriMo again this year as well as Camp NaNoWriMo.

Secondly, I want to continue writing poetry so I’m setting a goal of 12 Poems for this year – in theory, one for each month. I could end up doing much more, but I think one per month is a good goal to set.

Lastly, I want to complete a first draft of my fantasy story which now has around 50K words thanks to NaNoWriMo 2018. The story is not finished yet (far from it!) and I estimate around 120K words, which means I’m lacking 70K. I don’t think I’ll wait for NaNoWriMo to do the 70K but we’ll see where life takes me in 2019 hahaha! My goal right now is basically just have the experience of finishing a first draft of a story, regardless of whether the story ultimately ends up getting published or not.

I don’t have any goals for blogging right now but I may think about it and set up some goals in the near future.

Thanks for reading and have a great year, everyone! Happy New Year!

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Indiecember Update

This update is a bit delayed considering I’ve accomplished my initial Indiecember plan, and then some! Before I begin, these are my past Indiecember posts:

I’m happy to report that I have completed the middle row of Indiecember with Aletheia by Megan Tennant and Nocturnal by Wilder, thus accomplishing the traditional bingo style of playing. Upon completion, my board now looked like this:

IMG_5931

The O’s represent the boxes I am aiming for and must contain unique books. The X’s are the ones those five books also apply for. As you can see, there are only 7 squares left to fill the entire board to accomplish the flush style. So, why not?

In order to accomplish the 7 remaining squares I decided to come up with some kind of plan. The square are: [POC Author], [Novella], [10-20 Reviews], [Self-Help or Learning], [0-5 Reviews], [White on Cover], [40-60 Reviews].

My first action was to check my own library and see which indie books apply. Although I really wanted to read new books, I may not have enough time. I have already read The Elysian Prophecy by Vivien Reis but have not reviewed it yet, so I am including that one since it can cross out [White on Cover] and [40-60 Reviews].

The book I really wanted to read next was Firestone Key by Caroline Noe and I’ve actually started a bit on it, but wasn’t sure if it would cross out any of the remaining squares. I was happy to discover that it indeed crosses out [0-5 Reviews].

So right now, this is what my new Indiecember board looks like:

IMG_6370

Let me also list here the new reviews I have written, just to be consistent with my previous update:

Aletheia by Megan Tennant

IMG_6243The start of this book was quite slow for me. I was only half interested with what was going on and was easily distracted with other things. However, when I got into the meat of the story, I was completely swallowed whole. I really respect the guts of the author to give the main character a number – “736” – for a name. It actually contributed to my lack of interest in the beginning because I couldn’t remember it. Was it 736 or 763 or 793 or 765? And because it was written in first person perspective, the name is not stated as repeatedly as it would have been in third person. So, for someone like me, it’s a very forgettable name. But as it turns out, the character is not a forgettable character. She is only one of many compelling characters – some of which have numbers for names too – who have their own unique way of dealing with their circumstances. I would say that the best thing about this book are the character arcs and how they impacted 736’s psyche and mentality. Aside from the characters, I feel that the story and how it plays out is well-crafted, even though the writing may need some improvement in some areas. Don’t get me wrong, the writing is beautiful and has that poetic quality to it, but it can slow the pace down in certain scenes, such as in the beginning and in action scenes. But overall, the story took me on a ride where there are times I am overwhelmed with emotions, or just overwhelmed. The world-building plays a lot into this and I appreciate the way in which certain elements were not stated outright and are discovered by the reader as they become important, which is clever because it enhances the reading experience, sometimes with a punch. That, and of course, the elements of it that 736 discovers herself for the first time. The world-building itself feels much more realistic than other dystopian novels like Hunger Games (which I like despite the world-building) or Divergent (which I didn’t like because of the world-building) and it just seems like real effort is done to flesh out this book’s world-building and I really appreciate that. (Disclaimer: I haven’t really read a lot of dystopian books.) Overall, this is gritty and depressing in all the right ways, and because of that it has high entertainment value for me. This is definitely a book worth reading, and even worth rereading. It is by no means flawless, but for the quality of the story and my enjoyment in reading it, I feel it deserves 5 stars. I cannot wait for the next book!

Nocturnal by Wilder

IMG_6200This book is a wonderful creative package, full of beautiful, poignant, and inspiring poetry sprinkled with black and white pieces of art.

Note: For this book, I got both the physical book which is “the gift” and the ebook for my Kindle :) 

The Elysian Prophecy by Vivien Reis

IMG_6280I follow Vivien Reis’ YouTube channel and really like the way she presents her points, and I easily admired her. So when I found out she wrote a book, I immediately set out to buy it and read it. The cover was gorgeous too. Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations, especially in the beginning where I didn’t feel any connection between the two main characters Abi and Ben, who are supposed to be siblings. I realized later that it might have been intentional, as hinted in Abi’s observations of her friend Cora’s much warmer relationship with her brother Jesse. Speaking of Jesse, the romance was a bit flat for me. But, this is not a romance novel, it’s a fantasy novel. And the more I got into the story, the more the fantasy elements intrigued me. By the time it ended I was already eager to read the next one. So overall, this may not be the best start for a series, but I’m still willing to discover what else it has to offer in the future.

Firestone Key by Caroline Noe

IMG_6349What an exhilarating adventure through time travel! Action, tragedy, and love surrounding complex and charming characters make for an enjoyable read. This is such an inventive tale, expertly crafted with a bit of science and a lot of magic. It takes a while to get through to the language structure, but it eventually elevates the material by taking the reader to a different time and place. For quite a dark story, it has a cozy feel to it, full of characters you can’t help but love. I finished the story completely amazed and would really encourage everyone to pick it up and read it. ❤️

As of this writing, I have just finished Sorted: Freedom Through Structure by Gillian Perkins. However I have yet to review it (or post on Instagram). I usually include a nice photo with my Amazon reviews and I want to do the same with this. I will have to do that after my social obligation later today. That will cross out my [Self-Help or Learning] square.

For Novella, I managed to read The Architect of Elysia by Vivien Reis while waiting for a flight the other day. However, this novella does not have an Amazon page. I do plan to also read So To Honor Him by Laura VanArendonk Baugh because Little Drummer Boy is my favorite Christmas Song. I’m an atheist now, but I still appreciate Christmas or be it fact or fiction. Anyway, this book will cross out both [Novella] and [10-20 Reviews] boxes.

Lastly, I found a book which is set in the Philippines – which is where I am now – and written by a Filipino author – and I am also Filipino. So, why not? It’s a romance novel called Boracay Vows by Maida Malby which will cross out the [POC Author] square.

I think this plan is completely achievable to me as the remaining books are not that long anyway and I have the time to read them before December 2018 is over.

Wish me luck!

Day 30 for a NaNoWinner!

NaNo-2018-Winner-BadgeAfter validating my draft into the NaNoWriMo word-count validator (more than once, actually), I have officially accomplished 50,886 words. I am nowhere near completion of this project, not even halfway, but I have reached the 50,000 mark two days ago, and still continued updating my word count after that. This was an incredible experience and one I’m willing to repeat next year.

With that said, I have the following advice to myself:

  1. OUTLINE. Having an outline was very helpful for me, and so I should do the same prior to next year’s NaNoWriMo (this is probably what “Preptober” is for). I definitely still go off-tangent from time to time, but an outline is not set in stone… or it keeps me focus. Next year, I have to be more detailed with my outline than the one I have this year, like from which perspective or point of view will I be writing each chapter.
  2. Prepare CHARACTERS. Prior to NaNoWriMo, I had a list of characters and which kingdom they belong to along with a quick description. But that’s it. Having to think of a more detailed description for these characters, and even their personality, takes some time and kind of distracts me from the story situation I’m writing. If I had these prior to NaNoWriMo, my writing process would have been much smoother. (To be fair, I knew this beforehand but didn’t have time, as I learned about NaNoWriMo late October already, and I prioritised the outline.)
  3. Prepare SOUNDTRACK. I didn’t have one. I just sometimes played the Skyrim theme on repeat, and that one had words. I need to prepare instrumental music.
  4. SKIP chapters. Earlier during NaNoWriMo, I didn’t do this. When I come to a chapter that I particularly didn’t like doing, or didn’t know yet how to execute, I end up getting easily distracted. If I had thought of actually skipping that chapter and write for one I’m more interested in, I would have spent less time procrastinating. Because I have an outline now, the story can still end up connected when I do finally write that empty chapter.
  5. Use SCRIVENER. I doubt this will be an issue in the future, since I’m planning to purchase Scrivener soon. I’ve copied my project onto Word documents to save on my trial period in the middle of November. I’m back to using Scrivener now since I still have a few days of trial left, and will be purchasing it on December 1 or 2.
  6. DON’T EDIT. I’ve struggled with this and I bet I’ll still struggle with this in the future. (But I swear I was getting better at it towards the end.)
  7. Prepare mini REWARDS. I’m thinking I’d be more motivated if I give myself a reward for every 2,000 words put in. Like, give myself a small pack of gummy bears for every 2k increment, and prohibit myself from eating gummy bears aside from that.

Now that NaNoWriMo is done, I am in the process of editing what I have so far. And here is what I’ve found:

  • Story. Most of it I’m not happy with, but can be improved on. About a quarter of it I will scrap and replace with new ideas. A part of the main outline will have to change.
  • Characters. Some side characters have become more interesting than some main characters. Some characters who are not supposed to interact at this stage are interacting and seem to be getting along when they’re not supposed to. I may need to make more changes to the outline because of this. But for now, we’ll see.
  • Lore/Backstory. I’ve somehow come up with more, but I feel it will enhance the story. Or it will add more boring info dumping. This definitely needs review.
  • Magic. When a sorcerer doesn’t use sorcery in a situation where he should, it should be explained. (Or fixed.)
  • Action. Some action scenes need to be expanded.
  • Romance. Any romantic aspect in this thing is completely lacklustre. I need to improve on this. My sisters like romance and I want them to enjoy my story someday. I don’t want them to have to endure lousy romance.
  • Title. I may need to change the title from “The Moonseeker’s Medallion” to something else.

All of the above are totally understandable for a first draft, so I’m not so frustrated about them. It just means I’m in the process of polishing a rough piece.

I am currently looking for books on the craft of writing. If you have any recommendations, please let me know in the comments.

For everyone who accomplished 50,000 words or more, CONGRATULATIONS to us!!!

 

Day 25 of NaNoWriMo — Almost there!

nanowrimoingToday is a busy day because my sisters are coming over to Singapore! I have also left my job and will be taking a break from work for the meantime. I’ve really needed a break for a long time and I’m finally taking it. Next year, I will be stepping into the unknown world of job hunting and interviews, but for now and the remaining days of this year, I am FREE!!!

My NaNoWriMo story is progressing quite slowly, despite the growing number of words. It will definitely need some heavy developmental editing 😬 (among other types of editing). I have jumped from chapter to chapter just so I could write the stuff that I felt like writing in the moment. I should have done this in the beginning. It definitely helped me with putting more and more words especially in a slump!

As of this writing I’m at 43,014 words and closer and closer to “winning”! So good luck to me and all writers out there! We’re almost DONE!

Day 20 of NaNoWriMo: Recovery!

laptopandninjamugThis NaNoWriMo update will be quick! I have recovered to 35,073 words as of this writing. Focus and a surge of positivity really helped a lot! My draft is nowhere near completion, though, or even the middle, but I’ve already come to expect that.

I have also set my calendar to attend a regional NaNoWriMo event, which I’m looking forward to. I have never been to any Write-Ins (yet?) so it would be nice to see what a gathering with a bunch of writers would look like nowadays hahaha!

I have also written my first review in this blog, which is of new Fantastic Beasts movie, The Crimes of Grindelwald. It was not well-received by critics and a lot of fans, but I’m glad I’m one of those few who managed to enjoy it, despite not really being a fan of the two main characters Newt Scamander and Tina Goldstein. I think the visuals helped a lot. I genuinely was blown away and interested to learn more! Screenwriting may not be working so well for J. K. Rowling, as it feels like she’s trying to do too much in a limited time. But I’m hoping against hope she’ll write a book about this, especially expanding on Dumbledore and Grindelwald. There are no budgets and time limits for books, or at least not like the movies (and their screenplays).

My original plan was to update every 5 days, but I missed Day 10. Hopefully, I’ll be updating for Day 25 :)

Day 15 of NaNoWriMo and my many distractions

IMG_5708I am officially behind in my NaNoWriMo word count. As of this writing, it stands at 21,761 words when it should be 25,000. However, I still think I can reach 50,000 words on time, if not earlier, so I’m not that frustrated about it (yet). My concern, however, is with regards to the progression of my story. I am still in Chapter 4. My outline calls for 45 chapters. I am now more and more certain that my story will have way beyond 50,000 words, and that my first draft will not be finished by the end of November. At this rate, I’d probably only have written 10 chapters by then.

I have temporarily stopped using Scrivener and have switched to Microsoft Word for the meantime. I learned about Scrivener from YouTube/AuthorTube and downloaded a trial version when I decided to join NaNoWriMo and actually write a novel. I realized recently that it was almost the end of my trial period, but also that one of the perks of “winning” NaNoWriMo is a Scrivener discount. So I decided to wait and copied all the relevant stuff into Word documents for the meantime. As I type this, I realize I could have used Pages since I’m on MacOS (my personal laptop is a MacBook Pro). I guess Word just instantly came to mind because I use it for work too, for reports and such.

LinzMunro commented on my previous post about name generators. I did not know there was such a thing, but now I do! Thank you LinzMunro! It was easy to find a fantasy name generator… like a site called fantasynamegenerators.com. Anyway, as a result of this discovery, instead of just generating names for the insignificant characters that show up as I write, I am now planning to change a lot of names, including place names.

There are many distractions since my last update that have led to my low word count. The very main one is the frustrations I have because of work. I often come home frustrated and depressed and not in any mood at all to focus on my story. So I end up doing other things…

The first distraction I will mention is: Bodyguard. I have completed the entire season on Netflix. I may talk about it more in a separate blog post (a review maybe?) but the gist of it is I love it and I highly recommend it!

Another distraction is the second season of The Sinner. It’s not bad, but I enjoyed the first season more, the one with Jessica Biel. I really like these types of crime stories so I will definitely watch a third season if there is one.

I also watched Outlaw King, a movie in Netflix. I love Chris Pine and his performance in this, but I can’t help thinking… why not Richard Madden? Isn’t he Scottish? But I guess having him in that role will only remind everyone of Robb Stark and Game of Thrones. Also, as you know, I just recently watched Bodyguard so Richard Madden is fresh in my mind.

Another thing that I did that distracted me from writing is my Goodreads library. I have now organized it such that it will only show the books that are in my Kindle app. I realize that I have a lot of books that I bought that I have not read (actually this was also true when I was still reading on paperback) and I have decided that from now on, I am not going to buy any other book until I have read all the unread books on my Kindle (not including language learning books). The books in my to-read shelf are the books I have bought but not read. I created a new shelf called “wishlist” for the books I want to read in the future, but have not bought yet. But you know, as I type this, I am still doubting myself. It’s soo easy to buy ebooks! You don’t actually need to make the effort of going to a bookstore! I need to make up for all those years I haven’t touched a novel and only read manga! (Manga refers to Japanese comics.) There are popular fantasy books that I am interested in but haven’t read.

So… because I was organizing my Goodreads library (there’s actually not much), I ended up finishing the books that I have started reading but haven’t finished. Therefore, more distractions! I actually managed to finish the non-fiction ones, namely: Born A Crime by Trevor Noah, The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, Accessory to War and Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Next month or early next year, I’ll probably write a quick review of all the books I’ve read in 2018 including these four.

I am now down to two unfinished books, which I have told myself not to finish in November. There’s The World of Ice and Fire, which is fiction but reads like a history book, and Inheritance by Christopher Paolini. I actually got the complete collection of the Inheritance Cycle in Kindle, but I read the first three books a long long time ago in paperback and hardcover (I bought Brisingr in hardcover because I couldn’t wait). I am still trying to decide if I should reread the first three books first before proceeding with Inheritance.

Lastly, I have recently received the mood board from my events stylist via my wedding planner. I am getting married next year in Cebu so my wedding planner is keeping me up to date and asking about decisions. I don’t know if I consider this a distraction, though, because it actually relates to an important life event. I will not go into details, and I might write a blog about my wedding in the future, but for now I will say that I’m happy with everything so far.

That’s it for my current update. I hope for better news in my next one.

Update: I forgot to include links to the stuff I mentioned. Fixed!

Day 5 of NaNoWriMo

IMG_5679This will be my first update on my NaNoWriMo progress. I am at 9,587 words, which is not bad in general. I really wasted the weekend, though, having made no significant progress at that time. I did have some responsibilities during the weekend, and did do some writing, but not for my NaNoWriMo story. Grr. I somehow was able to write another poem about certain frustrations. I think I’m gonna hold back on posting that one publicly. I also managed to complete “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” on Netflix. Definitely procrastination.

My Weaknesses. My being a pantser is getting the better of me. My compulsion to edit my work also. Within the five days of NaNoWriMo, I have finished the first draft of… two chapters. Two. Considering that I already had an outline, I felt that I could do, maybe five? One for each day? It makes sense to me. I kind of did that for day one and day two, but somehow I spent day three and so on editing those two chapters and somehow adding more and more stuff… and now I have longer chapters. I have not been listening to my own advice.

Naming Characters. Because my story takes place in a made up world, it would feel out of place if characters get real-world names. So now, as I add more non-significant characters, I had to come up with names for them. At some point I’m gonna have to review those names because I basically just mix letters together out of sheer laziness. I named one character Redwent (is this a real-world name, by any chance?) but somehow named him Derwent in others places. So now, I’m confused which one to use because I’m not particularly fond of either. Eventually, I went with Redwent because there was a can of Coke in front of me at that time and it was red. Then there are characters I started to come up with backstories on, and I just had to stop myself there. I reminded myself that it’s not part of the plan.

Gummy Bears. So I found out that gummy bears are actually perfect writing companions. And by “companion” I mean stuff I put in my mouth while typing away on my laptop. Gummy bears are yummy bears ^_^

Deepavali. Thankfully, tomorrow is a holiday. Singapore celebrates Deepavali tomorrow, Nov 6. What is Deepavali? Deepavali is the annual Hindu celebration of the triumph of light over darkness. I can use this extra free time to catch up on my writing. And to Hindus out there who might be reading this, Happy Deepavali!

That’s it for my update, thank you for reading.