Falling into a Rhythm

At the end of December, I started writing the second draft of my WIP, a YA paranormal-ish novel called Devil May Care. I currently have 20,349 words, and I actually like what I’ve written.

To give you a timeline of this project, I had just finished the first draft when I started this blog in April 2014. I decided to let it sit for a month, and then that month became, like, eight months. School was in the way, and then summer was in the way, and then school came back and there was always something standing between me and free time.

A lot of it was homework. A lot of it was self-doubt. A lot of it was just being tired and stressed and not wanting to put another project on my plate.

But in December, I started writing again, and miraculously, I’ve managed to keep writing, even when second semester started and hit me in the face like a freight train. (I hate January…)

Last night, I wrote 3,348 words, the most I’ve written in one sitting since I started draft #2. It took about three and a half hours, and I’m paying for it today, because I stayed up until midnight to write it, and my body really wanted sleep.

Just over three thousand words is not a lot, but actually it is. In the grand scheme of things, it is a tiny scrap of a story that I will probably rewrite five more times before I like it. However, it is a sign that I’m still writing, and that I’m writing more. I’m not just adding a paragraph a week. I’m adding entire chapters, chunks of plot.

I’m falling into a rhythm. I can tell people that I’m a writer because I’m actually writing.

My grades are still great. My life has not become more hectic. Writing, just like it used to before I convinced myself it was too stressful, is a wonderfully therapeutic exercise. I feel like myself again.

I’m just putting this out there because I doubt I’m unique. Everyone has life get in the way of living. But I woke up this morning feeling tired but content, and wanting to write more. I’m caught up in a great story–and it’s not the one I’m reading, it’s the one I’m writing.

In fencing, falling into a rhythm is bad. It’s predictable. You want to change it up, catch your opponent off guard.

But with writing, rhythm is exactly what I need. Routine. I can’t let writing be a once-a-month occurrence. I have to remind myself that I’d rather write than watch TV. That I’d rather write than stare for hours at Buzzfeed. I need to keep writing, to stay in this rhythm.

One thing that has definitely helped is that I’ve started an Excel spreadsheet keeping track of how many words I write a day. My average is around 1,000 words. (I don’t write every day, so I only take into consideration days I actually sit down and add to DMC.) I always have the spreadsheet open in my laptop as a reminder to write. It also gives me a confidence boost when–like last night–I realize that I’ve written a substantial chunk of words.

I know one night of writing doesn’t mean my novel is done, but it’s enough of a confidence boost for me to believe it might get there eventually.

Book Review: Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J. Maas

The best book in the series by far. It’s exactly what the series needed to keep it from being predictable and boring.

5/5 stars!!!!

Series: Throne of Glass #3

cover heir of midnight

Amazon description:

Celaena has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Now, she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth . . . a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever. Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. Will Celaena find the strength to not only fight her inner demons, but to take on the evil that is about to be unleashed?

This review will contain spoilers for books #1-3 of the series. I realized I can’t say much about this book without talking about all the stuff that happens!!!

There are three main plots running in this book, so I’m going to talk about each individually, and then how they worked together.

Celaena and Rowan

This was by far my favorite of the three plot lines. Probably because Celaena is my favorite character, and Rowan is also amazing. From the moment we met him, I could tell his dynamic with Celaena was going to be great to read. It was frustrating to see him underestimate Celaena and to know that he has no idea all the horrible things she has experienced, but it was hiliarious watching Calaena disrespect him.

Their dynamic evolved nicely–not too fast, not too slow. I loved–and hated–that Rowan consistently beat her in their fights. Not that it humbled Celaena, but it humbled me as a reader. In the first two books, there were few scenes when Celaena truly lost a fight. It was refreshing to have the invincible character knocked down a peg.

The training plot lines was good. I liked that Celaena sucked at it in the beginning. As the reader, it helped me understand her relationship with her past as a Fae–and of course, it created more tension between her and Rowan, which was great. Once she started getting the hang of it, the book got even better. Celaena isn’t just a mortal badass–she’s also a badass Fae. (Yay!)

I actually love that Rowan and Celaena’s relationship never became romantic. Up until this point, Celaena had basically had a romantic relationship (of some kind) on every male figure presented: Dorian, Chaol, Archer, that thief in book one that I can’t remember the name of. Their relationship was tense, charged and deeply personal–they were undeniably connected. I loved that. And I respected Maas more because she presented a emotional but platonic relationship between a girl and guy (which by the laws of the YA Hot Trainer Meets Rebellious Trainee Plot Line should have ended up being heavily romantic).

The Witches

I have mixed feelings about this plot line. I got into it, sure…eventually. Basically once we met the wyverns and it turned out that they had personalities. Looking back on the book as a whole, I realize that this plot line was fun to read and will become important in the next book. There was good character development and it added a new aspect to the magic and the world building.

However, I have to admit that these chapters bugged me while I was reading. They felt extraneous. I didn’t want to read them, I wanted to get back to Celaena–the character I actually cared about. The plot line took its sweet time getting to the point (the wyverns and the war games) and it took me even longer to feel emotionally invested in the characters.

Dorian, Chaol, Sorscha, and the Rebels

I liked this plot more than the witches’ but less than Celaena’s.

Dorian and Chaol’s relationship was confusing for me. They were really cold and distant; they didn’t trust each other with their secrets. I know that they ended the previous book on a bad footing, but if they just talked to each other, they had exactly the same motivation. It felt unnecessarily brooding and stubborn. Bleh.

Chaol’s relationship with the rebels was more interesting. His continuing loyalty to the king makes no sense, so it was good to see him start to stray from that. The general/Celaena’s cousin was a smart addition to the book. It made the rebel cause believable (because otherwise it was two guys in dark corners doing…nothing?).

I’m ready for Chaol to get over Celaena. He was turning into a Angel-in-the-first-season-after-he-breaks-up-with-Buffy-esque character. It didn’t fit his personality and stagnated his character development. He maybe finally moved on at the end of the book?!?!

Dorian’s relationship with Sorscha made my heart melt. They were perfect for each other. Their relationship progressed quickly, but I was okay with it because Sorscha’s half of it was a long time in the making, and Dorian is the kind of guy who falls in love hard and fast. I loved that Sorscha helped Dorian with his magic–the bit about the iron helped make the magical elements of the book more complex. I really appreciate that Dorian moved on to a new romantic relationship instead of pining over Celaena (I’m looking at you Chaol); it made the book feel more natural and less in-you-face LOVE TRIANGLE.

I cannot believe the king cut off Sorscha’s head and put one of those devil collars on Dorian!!!!!!! Seriously, that felt unnecessary. I hate it when characters die and I don’t immediately see the importance of their death. Also, the next book, with Dorian under the king’s control, is going to be soooooo sad. *glares at author*

All together

This book was intense. The fantasy side of the book came into full force, and the author continued to world-build by presenting new aspects of magic. Romance moved on or didn’t happen, breaking from the heavily saturated love-triangle-ness of the first two books. New characters and new plot lines pushed the book away from its humble beginnings into a dramatic fantasy series.

I NEED THE NEXT BOOK!!!!!!!

Book Review: The Assassin’s Blade (Throne of Glass novellas) by Sarah J. Maas

These five stories range from humorous to inspiring, slightly cheesy to perfectly believable, romantic to heartbreaking.

4/5 stars

*I read these between books 2 and 3 of the Throne of Glass series, but chronologically, they take place before the first book starts.*

cover the assassins blade

Celaena Sardothien is her kingdom’s most feared assassin. Though she works for the powerful and ruthless Assassin’s Guild, Celaena yields to no one and trusts only her fellow killer for hire, Sam.

When Celaena’s scheming master, Arobynn Hamel, dispatches her on missions that take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, she finds herself acting independently of his wishes—and questioning her own allegiance. Along the way, she makes friends and enemies alike, and discovers that she feels far more for Sam than just friendship. But by defying Arobynn’s orders, Celaena risks unimaginable punishment, and with Sam by her side, he is in danger, too. They will have to risk it all if they hope to escape Arobynn’s clutches—and if they fail, they’ll lose not just a chance at freedom, but their lives . . .

A prequel to Throne of Glass, this collection of five novellas offers readers a deeper look into the history of this cunning assassin and her enthralling—and deadly—world.

Though these novellas tell the story of Celaena’s life before the Throne of Glass series begins, I think they should be read at least after you have read the first book, maybe after you read the second. You won’t understand the significance of Celaena’s actions or fall so completely in love with this younger, more innocent version of her character unless you know what she becomes.

You also don’t have the mount sense of dread as you near the ending of the novella collection–which ends with the betrayal that lands her in Endovier.

The one thing that absolutely blew me away about this book was the depiction of Arobynn. He is creepy as heck, and his emotional hold over Celaena is fascinating. You never fully understand how he feels about his protegee. For me, I’d spent most of Throne of Glass admiring Arobynn. He was her savior/father figure/the guy who made her awesome. In this book, you slowly hate him more and more. I kept wanting him to be a good guy and it never happened. The way his character played with my emotions (as well as Celaena’s) amazed me, and made what could have been a lackluster collection of stories a major part of the series.

These novellas lack the fantasy elements that characterize the later books in the series, but give the reader a window into Celaena’s character as the continent’s greatest assassin.

I’ll talk about each novella individually, avoiding spoilers.

The Assassin and the Pirate Lord

I liked this one. You get to see Celaena’s own morals contradict Arobynn’s orders as well as the beginning of her relationship with Sam. Of course, Celaena is a badass, and you get to see her in the height of her career as Ardlan’s Assassin. It is heartwarming to see how confident and sassy she was before her life fell apart completely.

However, as the pivotal event that sets the rest of the novellas (and arguably the entire series) in motion, I think Maas could have come up with a more creative concept.

The Assassin and the Healer

My least favorite by far. It felt cheesy. I like that we get to see a softer side of Celaena, but it could have been done better. This novella feels like a random stop between two important plots–the pirate lord and the red desert.

The Assassin and the Desert

My favorite story!! I wanted this to be an entire book. The Red Desert was so perfect for Celaena: it humbles her and helps her grow. This novella has a clear plot arc and good character development. I was emotionally invested in this novella, 100 times more than the previous two. Also, it highlights just how screwed up her relationship with Arobynn is.

The Assassin and the Underworld

This story was emotional trauma for me as a reader. Celaena comes back from the Red Desert so confident, and then you have to watch Arobynn slowly drag Celaena back into his thrall. Her relationship with Sam gets more and more charged, but Celaena is of course, an idiot about it. Overall, it added to the novella collection, but did not impress me as much as the previous story.

The Assassin and the Empire

I love the romance in this one, but I also spent it on edge, knowing how the book ends. This story perfectly gives the reader a window into what led Celaena to Endovier, and helps you understand just how broken she was when Throne of Glass began. In terms of affecting the rest of the series, this one is the most important–a must read.

Poetry: Scarred

She is in love with scars

That come with stories:

The fall when you were a kid

The bar fight you got into in college

The morning when you burned yourself cooking breakfast for the kids

Those never-healed blisters from dance shoes and hiking boots

 

She was never brave enough

To risk falling

To risk failing

She was never bold enough

To dance

Or fall in love

Always afraid of getting hurt

Afraid of getting close to anyone who would eventually slip away

 

And now, looking back,

She wishes she had scars.

Book Review: Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas

I liked this book more than the first one. It was so emotionally powerful, and the characters developed well.

4.5/5 stars

Series: Throne of Glass #2

cover crown of midnight

Amazon description:

Celaena Sardothien is the king’s Champion—yet she is far from loyal to the crown, for the man she serves is bent on evil. But working against her master in secret is no easy task. As Celaena tries to untangle the mysteries buried within the glass castle, she can trust no one, not even her supposed allies Crown Prince Dorian, Captain of the Guard Chaol, and foreign princess Nehemia.

Then, an unspeakable tragedy shatters Celaena’s world. She must decide once and for all where her loyalties lie . . . and whom she will fight for.

(I read this book weeks ago but never posted a review. I’m finally getting around to it…but I don’t remember what I was going to say, so this one is a short review.)

This book is not necessarily 100 times more amazing than the first book. The one marked difference is the fantasy elements, which felt extraneous and randomly inserted in to the first one. They really develop in this book and add to the story.

Celaena’s character only becomes more complex. I loved the conflict of loyalties that being the King’s Champion presented, and the way the rest of the characters responded to her new position. As the book progresses, Celaena’s character gets darker and darker, giving the reader a window into who she was as Ardlan’s Assassin.

Basically, I’m in love with Celaena. She’s a badass, but she also has a complex psyche.

This book is also sadder than the first book. There were tears, not gonna lie. The romance is more developed, and the love triangle continues. The plot thickens, though it is clear that it is in build up to the third book.

If you liked Throne of Glass, I would definitely recommend reading the rest of the series.

Honestly, I can’t say more without spoilers…

So from this point on, THERE ARE SPOILERS!!!!

I liked Chaol as a love interest, but I never really fell in love with him. I still like Dorian more. I didn’t really care when Celaena went “I’ll kill you” on him, to be honest.

Dorian having magic definitely made the book better. It was the conflict his character needed to keep him interesting, and I’m pissed that even when Celaena found out about the magic, she didn’t tell him everything she knew about Wyrdkeys and his father’s magic.

Princess Nehemia’s death felt unnecessary when it initially happened. It wasn’t until much farther into the book that I felt like the motivation behind her death made sense to me. Still, I feel like the same result could have been accomplished with less drastic measures.

I loved seeing dark Celaena in response to Nehemia’s death. It was morbid, but it helped me understand her character during the rest of  the series.

Mort is my favorite character ever. Not really, the rest of them are great, but he was the dose of humor the book desperately needed.

The tunnel under the library was interesting, but also a bit confusing. The creepy monster thing wasn’t significant until the third book. Actually, a lot of this book felt like the set up for the next book. I would have liked it if more things were explained in this installment, instead of left vague to be piece together in the third volume.

Playing With Character Descriptions

I got the idea for this post joking around with one of my friends. She said, “You should write about me,” and I was like, “You know all my poetry is mopey and depressing, right?”

But then I got the idea of describing each of my friends the way I would in a book. I’m doing this anonymously, but if you know me in real life, try to guess who’s who. I’ve gotta say, they will probably be really obvious.

For the rest of you, I’d actually like constructive critiques. Describing characters the first time you meet them in a story is a mix of fun and impossible for me. I hate it in books when you read a laundry list of only physical descriptions or when the author reveals too much about the character’s inner emotions/psyche right away. Finding a balance is something I’m trying to work on.

Each “character” gets a mini scene. If I were writing it in a novel, this would probably be broken up with dialogue, but in this case it is condensed into one paragraph.


“Character” #1

She’s loud. Not just her voice, but the way she throws her arms up when she sees me, the brightness of her smile, the carefree neon of clothes, the way she stomps her foot and says “You know what–” Some days, she’s 50’s vintage with a modern flair, sometimes she’s homemade scarves in wacky colors. Earbuds filled with electric pop; she’s dances through life like nobody’s watching. Rapid fire text messages alternate between hot guys and fights with parents. To my quiet persona of t-shirts and textbooks, she is overwhelming and electrifying at the same time.

“Character ” #2

She takes literary analysis and makes it funny, she takes history class and makes it trendy. We’ve got inside jokes about Napoleon’s fashion sense and Steinbeck essay titles. She can pull off wearing a vintage, pleated skirt on a regular basis–classy and sassy. Her eyes sparkle and her whole body punctuates a conversation. Everything is important, everything matters.

“Character” #3

She’s popular without being bitchy. She wears Uggs and those white Converse with the red piping, leggings and loose, stylish sweaters, and she always worries about her ponytail having hair bumps–it never does. We tease her with stereotypes so shallow she could never condense her spirit enough to obey them. She’s a lovable person who thinks nobody likes her, she’s a genius who fears failure on every test. Her laugh is quiet but full. She is honesty, even if that means showing doubt and fear. She doesn’t realize how alive she is, how much that draws people to her without her even trying.

“Character” #4

We are friends who barely talk. Everyone calls her “quiet”–but we know better. Her voice is soft but her words are powerful, her body is tiny but her personality is fearsome. People who don’t know her forget her, people who know her can’t stop paying attention. She is the kind of girl guys fall for without realizing what they are getting into.

“Character” #5

In my mind, she is giggling. She does not cover her mouth or apologize–she laughs shamelessly. I’ve seen her throw her arms to the sky and curse with a smile on her face. She wears layers of clothing like the pages of a book; seeing her in shorts feels wrong. She is a child at heart who never gave up being a princess, but she’s learned how to flirt with her princes.

“Character” #6

Sometimes, weeks or months separate us, but when we see each other, we still click. There’s always the fear: has she changed onto someone who doesn’t like me? And though I’ve seen her as a picky toddler, a rebellious tomboy, an obsessed fangirl, and a confident teenager–she’s always been a friend. She is always in flux, the kind of girl who has the money and opportunity to be whoever suits her at the moment. She is at once ridiculously optimistic and painfully cynical. It would be easy to condense her to daddy issues and rich white people problems–but that would be an insult to the multitude of hopes and dreams within her, and the hopes and dreams she’s had crushed.

“Character” #7

She is quiet in the way that a lesser person would call mousy or timid. But watch her smile, or get her to talk about classical music or tell her that her brother is coming home for the weekend. Watch her walk home with her best friend. She is reckless in a fascinating way that contradicts her innocent countenance. She is kind, she is real, she has lived.

“Character” #8

She is memories, now. If I look at her today, she is not the girl I struck up a random conversation with one day. She is not the girl I laughed and cried with, broke rules and cursed priests with. That girl vanished somewhere along the way, and now all I have left is memories of the best friend I had and a girl standing in front of me who I wish would go away.

She is the kind of sadness I relegate to the land of poems.

Beautiful Blog Award :)

beautiful blog award

I was nominated for this away by Brin @ Brin’s Book Blog. It means so much to be thought of for blog awards and I’m honored to have been given another.

The rules for the award are as follows:

  1. Copy the Beautiful Blogger Award logo.
  2. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them.
  3. Nominate 7 other bloggers and say a little something about them.

I like the fact that this award focuses on the nominees instead of the nominator. It’s nice to be able to explain why you nominated someone. 🙂

I nominate:

  1. Aubrey Joy @ Point Taken — I love the name of her blog and the cheerful tone of all of her posts. Her newsletters are fun to read and she takes place in a ton of cool readathons.
  2. Emily Mead @ The Loony Teen Writer — Again, I love the spirit of this blog. She has so much fun with incorporating gifs and humor into her posts, and it’s great to read.
  3. Sumaira @ Hyper About Books — Her reviews are well thought out and written and I love reading her random rambles.
  4. Merin @ Read and Reviewed — I love all the memes Merin takes part in. Her random discussion posts and monthly State of Merin posts are great.
  5. A. E. LaGrand — This girl’s poetry is ridiculously amazing.
  6. Kara @ What Kara Reads — Her book reviews are thorough and always suggest new books for me to read.
  7. Samantha @ Strings Attached — Okay, so this one is kinda a cheat, but I’m nominating my sister, because she just got back into blogging and she’s had some great posts recently. Also, she’s my sister, so…yeah.

Congratulations to everyone! Thank you for having amazing blogs and giving me great posts to read every day.

No one is under any obligation to accept the award if they don’t want to, I just want to give you all a shout out for being great.