For Writers, NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo Tips (A pantser’s version)

With NaNoWriMo (National Writing Month) right around the I wanted to share some tips to help you make the most of this month. And in true pantser fashion, this doesn’t include making an outline. 🙂

Clear your calendar. Take a look at your calendar and make sure you don’t have any uneccessary activities planned for the month. Can something be moved to next month? Don’t volunteer to host Thanksgiving, but if you have to do so, see who can help you. Kids? Spouse or partner? Delegate as much as you can to other people.

Plan meals ahead of time. Think about what you are going to do for meals. Again, maybe you can delegate this to someone else, or maybe you can do some quick microwavable meals during the week and cook only on the weekends. (This is my plan.)

Gather your supplies. What did you need for a sucessful writing session? Notebooks, pens, candle, snacks, drinks? Figure out what things you need and stock up on them. Some of my neccessities include dark chocolate peanut M&M’s, salt and vinegar chips, Coke, ingredients for homemade mochas, Pentel purple pens, and a notebook. (Yeah, I’m a junk food junkie, I know. 🙂 )

Create a workspace. Determine where you are going to work. Maybe you already have a space, but it might need to be cleared to work. If you don’t have one yet, consider a place where you can work without interruptions, ideally a place where you aren’t doing a lot of other activities.

Think about your story. Even though I don’t have an outline, I do think a lot about my story. This includes creating an aesthetic or mood board, making a playlist, creating a working cover. I also jot down a few notes in my notebook of things I don’t want to forget before I start writing.

And most importantly, do what you can to make this experience fun! I always create a bingo board, and if you missed my previous post with the board and all my other templates, you can check it out here.

What do you do to prepare for NaNoWriMo? Let me know in the comments!

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For Writers, NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo – Should You Do It?

It’s that time of year again – the start of November and National Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. Writers from all around the globe attempt to write a novel or part of a novel equaling 50,000 words. Maybe you’ve tried it before or maybe you’ve only considered it. This will be my seventh year seriously (I attempted to do it a couple years before, but didn’t see it through) doing NaNoWriMo and it is motivating and successful for me. However, I realize it is not for everyone, so I wanted to share why it works so well for me to help you decided if it might work for you.

  1. The Deadline – Many writers dread the deadline, but it is highly motivating for me. I’m a huge procrastinator, so I often need some external motivation to help me get things done.
  2. The Challenge -This kind of goes along with the first thing, I love to win and if I don’t meet the deadline, I don’t win. The drive to win keeps me in the game even when things gets difficult.
  3. The Project – I am a project writer – which basically means I can work hours at a time when in the middle of a project. I don’t always write every day, but I write in large chunks of time when working on a project. Once I’ve finished said project, I need some reset time, and can take up to a couple weeks off from writing.

So, if these things are things you can relate to, you might want to give NaNoWriMo a try. However, if it all seems a little overwhelming, you can also adjust your goal. If you want to start out with a smaller goal like 30k or even 25k, you could also do that.

One thing you do need to have is commitment. If you’re are serious about doing it, wholly commit to it, letting friends and family know you are doing this. Post on social media and even create little rewards for steps along the way. The first couple of years I tried NaNo, I didn’t go in with a firm commitment and I didn’t win or even come close to winning.

If you do decide you want to do NaNo, check out my #nanobingo22 board and other fun templates here.

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or if you’ve decided to do NaNoWriMo.

For Writers, NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo Bingo

Hey everyone! I’ve created another bingo board for this year’s NaNoWrimo. I’ve already shared it over on my Instagram, but wanted to share here in case anyone missed it, or they aren’t on IG. So here it is:

Feel free to screenshot or print, and share with the tag #nanobingo22. I’ve also created some additional templates to go along with the bingo board. There is a board for each week to share your weekly update, and a board to share your word count for the day and the bingo square you completed.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Let me know in the comments!

Blog tours, Book Reviews

The Legend of Black Jack Book Review

About the Book

Jack Swift remembers everything—even the horrible things he’d like to forget. To keep his guilt-ridden memories from haunting him, and to dodge his abusive foster mom, he buries himself in any book he can find, dreaming of his ultimate escape: becoming a doctor.

But fate has another escape in mind.

At 3:33 am on his fourteenth birthday, Jack is kidnapped by a monstrous rhinoceros and whisked away to another sphere of existence: the land of Keymark. Though this world is filled with pixies, monsters, pirates, elves, warriors, and mythical wonders, it is without healing magic—that magic was stolen by an evil, immortal prince hell-bent on domination. With no understanding of medical science to heal their wounds or illnesses, Jack’s kidnappers ask the impossible of him: use his knowledge to save a life…or be trapped in this bizarre world with no chance of rescue.

Jack doesn’t have secret magic, a great destiny, or any medical experience.

Why do they all expect him to become a legend?

My Review

This book is written in a different style than the typical YA book, but I still found it engaging and exciting. I think the style is more comparable to an adult high fantasy book, but the content is YA. There are talking animals, magic, and lots of otherwordly creatures. And I liked the illustrations that were included.

I enjoyed all the vibrant charaters, my favorites being Memphis, the rhino, and Fuji, the lizard. Jack’s journey, both physically and emotionally, was well done and gave me all the feels when it finally came full circle. There were many unique moments in the story, giving me vibes of Jumanji, The Neverending Story, and Frankenstein.

I think anyone who enjoys a good fantasy story will enjoy this, but especially fans of Stardust, The Neverending Story, and The Hobbit.

About the Author

A. R. Witham is a three-time Emmy-winning writer-producer and a great lover of adventure.  He is the world’s foremost expert on the history of Keymark.  He loves to talk with young people and adults who remember what young people know.  He has written for film and television, canoed to the Arctic Circle, hiked the Appalachian Trail and been inside his house while it burned down.  He lives in Indianapolis.

Blog tours, Book Reviews

Clean Sweep Book Review

I’m excited to be part of The Write Reads blog tour for Clean Sweep by E.B. Lee.

About the Book

Carli Morris is looking forward to a quiet retirement. Earning billions from the sale of her
Madison Avenue ad agency, she dreams of spending her golden years painting and giving back to society. But the heartbreaking discovery of a homeless woman poisoned to death on the streets of Manhattan reopens the wounds of Carli’s own tragic loss.

Realizing her busy career turned her away from the vulnerable, she throws herself on a mission to get the defenseless off the streets. But as she sacrifices her own needs to support others, her new colleague’s mental illness and Carli’s unresolved grief collide in a staggering sequence of events that will alter her life forever.

Can Carli dig deep and make a powerful, personal impact?

Clean Sweep is a dynamic literary novel. If you like moving revelations, gut-wrenching
decisions, and life-affirming transformations, then you’ll love E. B. Lee’s enlightening tale.

My Review

This book is a bit different from what I usually read. It was a bit heavy and sad, though that can be gathered from just reading the blurb. It deals a lot with the homeless people of New York City and their plights.

The characters were interesting and unique, though I figured out where the storyline was going pretty early on. There is also a Christian element to the story, as Carli works with a church group to help the homeless.

If you enjoy heavier reads, you will probably enjoy this one. Fans of The Book Thief, Dark Places, and It Ends With Us will probably also enjoy this one.

About the Author

E. B. Lee was raised in Weston, CT and enjoyed the best of a then-rural town and easy access to the high-energy world of New York City. She brings together elements of both in her debut work of literary fiction, Clean Sweep, a heartfelt story of human connection, tough choices, and compassion. Prior to writing, Ms. Lee was a flower farmer and worked in the environmentalfield. She earned a Masters Degree from Yale School of the Environment and undergraduate degree from Yale. E.B. Lee now writes in North Carolina and Connecticut.

World Princess Week

World Princess Week – Mulan Book Recs

It’s World Princess Week, so I am pairing books with some of the Disney princesses. If you missed the first post (Cinderella and Belle, you can read it here.)

Mulan values family. She doesn’t want to disappoint them even though she doesn’t fit into the mold of the “perfect daughter”. In the end, she finds that by being true to herself she is able to bring honor to not only her family, but also her entire country. Mulan is resourceful, independent, and resilient.

  1. Reflection by Elizabeth Lim – This is one of my favorite twisted tales. It takes quite a different spin on Mulan than the original movie does, but it is so good!
  2. Robin Hood – It took me a little while to determine what classic I wanted to pair with Mulan, but I think this one is perfect. Just like Mulan, Robin Hood is in disguise, and he is also fighting for what he believes in.
  3. To Best the Boys by Mary Weber – The heroine of this book must also disguise herself as a boy in order to find the things she needs to save her family.
  4. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale – Like Mulan, Miri has to leave her home and face the unknown, and she ends up saving her school.
  5. Sugar Town Queens by Malla Nunn – Amandla displays many of the same qualities as Mulan. She cares about her family, and embarks on a journey to find out more about the father she doesn’t know, finding herself along the way.
  6. Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows – Like Mulan, Mira doesn’t fit into the mold expected of her. She faces challenges she knows nothing about, but finds her inner strength to overcome them.
  7. National Velvet by Enid Bagnold – Of all the Disney princesses, Mulan’s horse is featured the most and her bond with him is clear. Like Mulan, Velvet disguises herself as a boy to compete in a horse race.

You can shop these books on my Bookshop list here.

What books do you think Mulan would read? Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments! Up next is Tiana.

World Princess Week

World Princess Week – Cinderella and Belle book recomendations

It’s World Princess Week, so I’m sharing book recs for some of the Disney princesses. These are books I think they would read and love. I’m also sharing a retelling that I love for each one. (If you follow me on Instagram, you may have voted in the poll to help choose these princesses.)

First up is Cinderella. Some of Cinderella’s best qualities are often overlooked. She is kind – even in the face of unkindness she still remains kind. She is courageous – despite the unfortunate circumstances she faces she looks for the best in every situation, and she still dreams of a better life. She is confident – even though she has been mistreated, she still knows her own value, and she knows she is eligible to go to the ball despite what others try to tell her.

  1. So This is Love by Elizabeth Lim – I chose this as the retelling of Cinderella. I really enjoy these twisted tales, and I absolutely love the cover of this one!
  2. From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon – So after I read this, I immediately thought of the Cinderella motto – “Have courage and be kind”. Cinderella values both kindness and bravery, and Twinkle exhibits both of these qualities in this light-hearted read.
  3. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon – Natasha faces adversity, but also finds some unexpected things, like falling in love, along the way.
  4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – Katniss also faces hardship, but she still maintains hope for a better future.
  5. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli – Stargirl stays true to herself despite what others do or say to her.
  6. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – Pip’s adventures are much like Cinderella’s, and he also gets his happy ending.
  7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – Fair warning: This book will make you cry, but the spirit of it is amazing! Liesel faces unspeakable horrors and still mananges to stay positive and rise above them.

You can shop for these books on my Bookshop list here.

Next up is Belle. Belle is a dreamer and a life-long learner, combing through books to find the knowledge she seeks. She also yearns for adventure. She values family – giving up everything for her father’s freedom. Belle is loyal, curious, and compassionate.

  1. Lost in A Book by Jennifer Donnelly – This is my absolute favorite Beauty and the Beast book, so it had to be my retelling pick!
  2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – In the Disney version, Belle doesn’t have sisters, but her familial bond with her father is very strong. Family is one of the most important things to Belle. I also think she would relate to Jo’s independent spirit.
  3. Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley – Belle would relate to Daunis’s curiousity and drive to figure out what really happened to her father and her friend.
  4. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson – Pippa also shows a desire to find the truth, just like Belle.
  5. Educated by Tara Westover – This is the only nonfiction book on the list, but we all know Belle reads widely. She, just like Tara, has a desire to seek out the truth and learn everything she can.
  6. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – Kaya was seen as different, and so was Belle. Yet like Belle, Kaya found ways to broaden her world through books.
  7. The Messy Lives of Book People by Phaedra Patrick – Belle would pick this one up just based on the title alone (kind of like I did), and find enjoyment in the adventure Liz sets off on in an attempt to finish her late boss’s book.

You can shop these books on Bookshop list here.

Who is your favorite Disney princess? What book or books do you think they would read? Let me know in the comments. Up next is Mulan!

Blog tours, Book Reviews

With Fire in Their Blood Book Review

About the Book

With Fire In Their Blood is a simmering supernatural romance set in the crumbling Italian city of Castello, where mafia clans make the rules, dark magic pulses the streets and the sins of the past threaten to consume the present. Perfect for fans of These Violent Delights, The Darkest Minds and V.E. Schwab.

When sixteen-year-old Lilly Deluca arrives in Castello, she isn’t impressed. A secluded town in the Italian mountains is not where she saw her last years of high school playing out.

Divided for generations by a brutal clan-family war, the two halves of Castello are kept from destroying each other by the mysterious General, a leader determined to maintain order and ‘purity’. . . whatever the cost.

Lilly falls in with the rebellious Liza, brooding Nico and sensitive Christian, and sparks begin to fly. But in a city where love can lead to ruin, Lilly isn’t sure she can trust anyone – not even herself.

And then she accidentally breaks Castello’s most important rule: when the General’s men come to test your blood, you’d better not be anything more than human . . .

My Review

This book is very atmospheric and I love it! There are lots of Gothic-y elements and one scene actually reminded me of Miss Havishim’s dining room in Great Expectations. There were so many lush descriptions, the setting really came alive for me. Being set in another country, especially in an isolated setting, also added to the intrigue of the story.

The characters were compelling and diverse. Lilly was relatable and likable. She had a strong voice that pulled me into the story and kept me there. I liked how she discovered things from the past that were affecting her present. Liza, Nico, and Christian are all complex characters that gave depth to the book.

I think this will appeal to any reader who enjoys dark or Gothic books, especially fans of Chloe Gong, The Darkest Minds series, and Lakesedge.

About The Author

Kat Delacorte was eleven years old when her family moved from the United States to a small town in central Italy. She soon began writing stories about her new friends developing superpowers, and hasn’t looked back since. She graduated with a BA in History from Columbia University, and lives in Venice, Italy.

Book Reviews

The Agathas Book Review

I recently finished reading The Agathas by Kathleen Gasglow and Liz Lawson, and I really enjoyed it! This book was released yesterday, May 3rd. The launch event took place at a local bookstore, One More Page Books, and I was able to attend. It was a lot of fun and another bookstore for #22in22, so I’ll be posting about that experience soon. (To find out more about the #22in22 challenge, check out this post.)

About the Book

Last summer, Alice Ogilve’s basketball-star boyfriend Steve dumped her. Then she disappeared for five days. Where she went and what happened to her is the biggest mystery in Castle Cove, because she’s not talking. Or it was, at least. But now, another one of Steve’s girlfriends has vanished: Brooke Donovan, Alice’s ex–best friend. And it doesn’t look like Brooke will be coming back. . .

Enter Iris Adams, Alice’s tutor. Iris has her own reasons for wanting to disappear, though unlike Alice, she doesn’t have the money or the means. That could be changed by the hefty reward Brooke’s grandmother is offering to anyone who can share information about her granddaughter’s whereabouts. The police are convinced Steve is the culprit, but Alice isn’t so sure, and with Iris on her side, she just might be able to prove her theory.

In order to get the reward and prove Steve’s innocence, they need to figure out who killed Brooke Donovan. And luckily Alice has exactly what they need—the complete works of Agatha Christie. If there’s anyone that can teach the girls how to solve a mystery it’s the master herself. But the town of Castle Cove holds many secrets, and Alice and Iris have no idea how much danger they’re about to walk into.

My Review

This book was so good! I loved the nods to Agatha Christie, and the suspense kept me turning pages. I’m also really hoping that this will become a series, because I think it would make a good series, and I want to read more about Alice and Iris. (At the launch event, the authors did confirm that there is second book in the works, slated to be released in May 2023.)

The character development was great! I liked how the Alice and Iris were from such different backgrounds but were able to find common ground and cultivate a friendship. This book also had all the great things about a classic mystery story – It wasn’t immediately obvious who the killer was, and there were some nice twists to keep the reader guessing.

For me, this was right up there with One of Us is Lying and A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, and I think fans of both those books will also enjoy this one. I think any fan of the classic who-dun-it story and Agatha Christie or Nancy Drew will also like this book.

About the Authors

Kathleen Gasglow

Kathleen Glasgow is the author of THE AGATHAS, YOU’D BE HOME NOW, GIRL IN PIECES (a New York Times bestseller and Target Book Club pick), and HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE DARK. Visit her on Twitter (@kathglasgow), Instagram (misskathleenglasgow), her website (www.kathleenglasgowbooks.com), or TikTok @kathleenglasgow.

Liz Lawson

Liz Lawson’s debut contemporary YA novel, THE LUCKY ONES, released from Delacorte Press/Random House in 2020. Next up is THE AGATHAS, a YA mystery she had the pleasure of writing with Kathleen Glasgow (NYT Bestselling author of GIRL IN PIECES).

Currently, Liz resides in the DC metro region, where she lives with an adorable toddler, a fantastic husband, and two VERY bratty cats.

Find her on Instagram and Twitter: @lzlwsn.

Book Reviews

Carnival Of Ash Book Review

I was excited to recieve a copy of The Carnival of Ash by Tom Beckerlegge as part of The Write Reads blog tour. Read on for my review!

About the Book

Book Info

Genre: Adult Fantasy

Length: 528 Pages

Publishing: 15th March 2022

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1786185008/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58438204-the-carnival-of-ash 

Blurb

An extravagant, lyrical fantasy about a city of poets and librarians. A city that never was.

Cadenza is the City of Words, a city run by poets, its skyline dominated by the steepled towers of its libraries, its heart beating to the stamp and thrum of the printing presses in the Printing Quarter.

Carlo Mazzoni, a young wordsmith arrives at the city gates intent on making his name as the bells ring out with the news of the death of the city’s poet-leader. Instead, he finds himself embroiled with the intrigues of a city in turmoil, the looming prospect of war with their rival Venice ever-present. A war that threatens not only to destroy Cadenza but remove it from history altogether…

My Review

This book was very creative and different from any other book I’ve read. It is labeled adult fantasy, rather than YA fantasy, so that could be partly why. It is well-written, written in the style of literary fiction.

The book was not exactly what I was expecting from the blurb, as it ended up being more political and historical than an actual fantasy story. And I was a little disappointed that the libraries played such a small part in the story.

I liked the world building, and I thought some of the characters were relatable. However, there were a lot of characters, so at times it could be tricky to keep straight who was who. Also, it was difficult at times to tell how the characters were all connected.

I think fans of political historical fiction will actually enjoy this more than fans of fantasy as there were no actual magical elements to the story.

Just FYI, there are some trigger warnings – violence and sexual content.

About the Author

Tom Beckerlegge grew up in the northwest of England in a house filled with books. Writing as Tom Becker, he won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize with his debut novel; The Carnival of Ash is his first adult book. He lives in Enfield with his wife and young son.