Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Benefits (and annoyances) of Being a Re-Reader

So over Christmas break, I decided it was high time that I (1) reread the first six Harry Potter books, and (2) finally read the seventh.

Now I know EVERYTHING and will understand ALL THE REFERENCES YAY!

Also I still think Snape is a jerk. Not evil, no, but a jerk nonetheless. Fight me.

But after I read the books, I realized it's been a long time since I reread something. I used to reread all the time. ALL THE TIME. And then when I discovered YA and actually alive authors and began to read new releases and my TBR grew at ten times the rate it had before, I stopped rereading. Which is sad, because I during my grand HP reread, I found that I had missed the comfort that comes from revisiting old books. 

So. Let's break down my research (rambling thoughts?) into a list of why rereading makes my bookwormy life so much better.

1. I learn new details that I missed before.

I have a bad memory when it comes to details and minor plot points and sometimes even major plot points. Even in my non-bookish life, I don't remember details (I inherited this from my dad, so blame him). Instead, I remember emotions and how certain situations or people made me feel. It's the same when I read a book. So every time I reread a book, something new pops up that I missed before.

2. I don't feel like I wasted money when I buy a book.

OF COURSE, seeing books on my shelf is a pretty decent use of my money. Their mere presence validates my purchase. But I'm a strong believer in getting my money's worth, so with that mindset, technically the more I read a book, the better value it becomes. This is logic because I say it is.

3. It's like revisiting old friends.

This is especially true if you have a bad memory like mine. Sometimes you want the hero to be in danger of his life and not know if they are going to survive, but sometimes you want to be able to comfortably read through the book knowing exactly how it's going to end. It's like watching Princess Bride for the seven hundredth and fifty third time. Same principle. (And don't try to deny that you haven't seen Princess Bride seven hundred and fifty three times.)

4. I get a new perspective.

The Harry Potter books are cool because if you were one of the original readers, you'd grow up with them. The first three are obviously MG, and then the switch to YA is extraordinarily clear in Goblet of Fire. When I was first reading them, this fourth book was my favorite, probably because I was 14 and related to Harry the most there. I enjoyed the rest of course, but at that point my brain was at the 14 year old level. In Order of the Phoenix, I found Harry annoying, whiny, and acting way too much of a victim when everyone was OBVIOUSLY in danger too and OBVIOUSLY doing the best for him the stupid child. I considered myself very mature at 14, if you can't tell.
During this reread, Goblet of Fire wasn't my favorite as it had been before. And though I still found Harry kind of whiny in Order of the Phoenix, I understood the reasoning behind it better. I think it's fascinating (and evidence of J. K. Rowling's skill) that the style of each book so perfectly correlates to Harry's age. It's so much fun to read them as an (amateur) adult kind of viewing it from above, rather than during childhood.

But then again, there is ONE disadvantage that I see to rereading, and that is: 

I don't get to read SHINY NEW BOOKS as much.

When I was a reader of solely classics, I would reread my favorites every year or so, sometimes even more than once. But now that I've gotten into the YA world (shame on you my blogging friends! actually no i love it), I've been rereading much less. But my hiatus from the new and shiny while reading Harry Potter was so pleasant that I plan to do it more often.

And what about you? Do you reread? Or are you a one-time kind of person? What's the last book you reread? And (be honest now) how many times have you watched Princess Bride?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Beautiful People #14 // Writerly Resolutions & Goals

Yes, I know I haven't been around much on this blog lately. That's because I've been galivanting around Denmark, and you can check out my adventures here. But in addition to eating a lot of pastries and walking through foggy streets I've also been planning a lot of guest posts. YAY! Awesome people are coming to share their knowledge/likes/dislikes/wisdom/fangirling with you! If you would like to join them as a guest blogger on Ravens and Writing Desks, click here.

And now, on to Beautiful People!


This month's Beautiful People is a little different - it's about ME (because I'm obviously a Beautiful Person). We are talking about goals, resolutions, and achievements for 2016! Because New Years are exciting!

Linking up, as always, with the lovely ladies Skye and Cait.

1. What were your writing achievements last year?

You seriously expect me to remember what I did over three months ago? Okay, let's try.
  • I wrote a 450 word flash fiction piece. And it was actually KINDA FUNNY. *fist pump* 
  • I realized I don't know where I stand on the plotting/pantsing front. (Why is this an achievement? Because I learned not to box myself in when I write.)
  • I plotted out 80% of a novel idea in three days and wrote it for NaNo and it actually has hope for being concluded and a decent work of fiction. *double fist pump*
2. Tell us about your top priority writing project for this year?

I have two:
  • SlavicNovel: finish up Draft 1 sometime in the coming months (so close!) and start (and hopefully finish) Draft 2 by the end of the year.
  • CamelotNovel: plot (by the end of the semester) and write Draft 1 (summer project). Maybe get this on WattPad? Because it's totally just for fun and not for publication.
3. List 5 areas you'd like to work the hardest to improve this year?
  • Plotting. I feel like I'm never going to be comfortable with plotting. It's SUCH AN EFFORT for me.
  • Time Management: My writing schedule is entirely messed up and sporadic. I need to try to write consistently.
  •  Focus: I get distracted by plot bunnies easily, and don't always put in a lot of effort into my trouble-spots (cough plotting cough cough).
  •  Caring  Less about Writing Garbage: I like to think that I'm cool with this but it's still a struggle every time I want to sit down and write. Once I'm writing, it's all good, but I think fear of imperfection is my biggest impediment to actually starting my writing sessions.
  • Scrivener: Basically I want to fully figure out Scrivener and use it to it's full potential! I just got it for NaNoWriMo (free trial woo!) and then after I won NaNo I got a 50% coupon code so it went from eeep-a-little-too-expensive-to-splurge-on to oh-that's-less-than-the-price-of-two-hardcovers. This isn't really an area in my writing, but it contributes, so I'm saying it counts.
4. Are you participating in any writing challenges?

Well, NaNoWriMo, obviously, but beyond that, nothing else really.

5. What's your critique partner/beta reader situation like and do you have plans to expand this year?

Since I've never finished an edit-worthy manuscript, I've never seriously considered critique partners or beta readers. BUT. With SlavicNovel promising to be done soon, I'm definitely going to be requiring some beta readers in the coming months, so I suppose I'll figure that out when I get there?

6. Do you have plans to read any writer-related books this year? Or are there specific books you want to read for research?

In terms of research, I'm definitely going to be skimming through rereads of Malory and Chretien and all the good classic Arthurian lit for CamelotNovel.
For SlavicNovel, I'm probably going to need to delve deeper into Turkish culture, but through which books, I don't know. 

7. Pick one character you want to get to know better, and how are you going to achieve this?

So for some reason, in both CamelotNovel and SlavicNovel, I ended up liking my secondary characters better than my MC. WHY? Therefore, I suppose the answer to this question is Tania, SlavicNovel's MC. Because I so WANT her to be a good character but I haven't been giving her the attention she deserves. Also in that vein, I need to develop Dina, CamelotNovel's MC.

Both of them are too flat, so I'm just going to make thousands and thousands of detailed character profiles and have fun writing lists of likes/dislikes for both of them, since that's my favorite method of character development. But I think I'm going to focus on Tania, since she's in better shape than Dina is, and SlavicNovel is actually mostly written, whereas CamelotNovel is just a Scrivener outline and a pinterest board.

8. Do you plan to edit or query, and what's your plan of attack?

Well, I kind of already mentioned this, but YES editing, and NO querying (at least not this year). SlavicNovel is going to go through a major editing adventure for Draft 2, which... should be fun. We'll see how that goes.

My plan of attack is, once I finish Draft one, to make a giant post-it/string/colored-pen scribble wall of plot lines and all that, so I can make sure my plot flows well, since that's my biggest problem. 

9. Tony Morrison once said, "If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." What are the books that you want to see more of, and what "holes" do you think need filling in the literary world?
  • Female MC's without romantic subplots
  • Female MC's who decide they're cool with being single in the end.
  • Awesome families!
10. What do you hope to have achieved by the end of 2016?

Writing-wise? Blogging-wise? Or life-wise?
  • Draft 2 of SlavicNovel
  • Write CamelotNovel and put it up on WattPad (eeeeeep nervousness!)
  • Write more short stories (and flash fiction!)
  • Host a giveaway (or two!)
  • Completely redesign my blog theme
  • Get back into consistently writing reviews.
  • Get a research internship
  • Start studying for the MCAT and thinking about medical schools (aaaaah real life is bearing down on me!)
  • Eat more chocolate (this is a lifelong, continuing process, considering that "more" is objective).

Now it's YOUR turn! You are a Beautiful Person too, so let's talk about you! What are your goals (writerly and otherwise) for 2016? And what's one awesome thing you've achieved in your 2015 writing life?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Snazzy Snippets // New Year Edition!

Welcome to my second time participating in Snazzy Snippets hosted by Emily and Alyssa
Enjoy these bits from my current WIP SlavicNovel while I'm off writing it's conclusion. :-)

#1: A SNIPPET FROM PAGE 16 - Have you bloglings met my mermaids yet? I don't think so. Here's Rusalka doing what she does best, and poor little Stefan not knowing what hit him.

She folded her arms on the riverbank and gazed lazily at him, her hair lying in a silver wave over her pale skin and bare breasts. 
“Hullo,” Stefan said quietly, blushing. “I - I didn’t mean to interrupt. I can leave - if you like.” He turned away, running his hands through his hair. 
“Oh, don’t leave,” she said. He turned back, eyes widening at the sound of her voice. 
“Come closer, princeling,” the mermaid whispered. “I’ve been waiting for you.” 
Stefan blinked and grinned. “Oh. Really?” 
She nodded, eyelashes fluttering slowly.. “Ages.  Come closer. I’ve got something to show you.” 
He glanced for a moment up the tree where Tania had disappeared, then back at the mermaid. 
“No, don’t worry about her,” she murmured, pulling herself up a bit onto the riverbank. “Come over here to me.” 
Stefan couldn’t remember walking over to the bank and kneeling down in the mud. Somehow, he found himself leaning over the water, gazing into the diamond eyes that beckoned him further into their depths. 
“Hello, princeling,” the mermaid whispered, her voice cascading into his soul. With a long pale finger, she tucked a strand of his hair behind his blushing ear. 
He hesitantly leaned in for a kiss.

#2: A SNIPPET OF 16 WORDS OR FEWER - I can't resist some good Baba Yaga. Especially if it's EXACTLY 16 words.

"Who's he anyway? He looks suspiciously cheerful for being covered in mud. I don’t trust him.”

#3: A SNIPPET ABOUT SOMETHING NEW - Martin is new according to the original plot. He wasn't supposed to be in the story and then he was! And he's making Damla discuss the philosophies of war and possibly fall in love with him when she's supposed to be staunchly single. Why don't my characters just follow the instructions of my sticky-note plotting?

He raised up his hands in submission. “I’m not going to argue with you, little patriot,” he said quietly. “I didn’t come to talk battles. In fact, I came to enjoy the view during the small time I have to not talk about fighting.” 
Damla immediately felt chastened. “Sorry,” she muttered. “I should have known better.” 
“Don’t worry about it,” he said, turning to her with a smile. “Both sides have been wronged, and only God knows who’s in the right. The name’s Martin, by the way.” He stuck out a hand, and she took it, cautiously. 
“Damla,” she said, as he raised it up slightly, then let it go.  
“May I say that I hope your stay in my country is memorable in the best of ways?” he said, with a smile.  
“Thank you,” she said, and though she didn’t mean to, she somehow found herself slightly smiling back. Martin turned on his heel and wandered off, and Damla was left alone to watch as the sail ship slid into the rivers of the delta, toward the fortress-island of Nul.

I hope you enjoyed these snippets! Did you join the linkup? Share your snippets with me in the comments!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

December // Year End Shenanigans + Future Machinations

Because it's December, this is going to be an unconventional recap post. I want to talk not just about this month, but the eleven before it - and the twelve after. So after we go through the regular stuff, LETS TALK ABOUT THE FUTURE! Blogging future, reading future, writing future, and just life future. Yay!

December! The month of finals, of Christmas, of snow, of New Years Eve. Let's go through each of those in turn, shall we?

Finals were great precisely because I managed to not have any this year! *hides in a corner from all the angry final-taking people* I did have final papers due, and am actually still working on one that is due on January 10th. Sigh. But after finals week I went to Wisconcin Dells with some friends and hung out in an indoor waterpark and had a giant nerf gun fight in a basically empty hotel so that was great. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation (empty hotel, nearby Walmart, lots of friends), DO NOT PASS IT UP. It's dang fun.

We celebrated Christmas the usual way - traditional Ukrainian festivities on Christmas eve, and lounging around the house in pajamas on Christmas day. The pageant at our church was possibly the most adorable and awkward yet, with a toddler from the audience running up and trying to crawl into the manger before "Jesus" (played by a REAL BABY) had been "born".

Snow! We had none on Christmas. But then the week after, we had evil hail pellets rain down and attack any bare faces. Oh well. At least the ground is pretty and white now.

New Years was splendid and I spent it with other under-21-ers in my house drinking sparkling grape juice and playing pool and Mafia.

OH AND I spent basically all of December post finals week rereading the Harry Potter books. How much of a better Winter Break can you get? I'm currently in the middle of Half-Blood Prince and can't wait to get to Deathly Hallows, since I haven't read that one ever!

Library Haul
ALL THE HARRY POTTER BOOKS - as mentioned above. Also, greatest thanks to my dad who is the best man ever since he drove me around to all our local libraries trying to find an available copy of Goblet of Fire. ETERNAL GRATITUDE O FATHER OF MINE

Train Station Free Book Shelf Haul

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell and 
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Johnathan Foer

(photos link to instagram)


So whats in the works for 2016? Let's talk, my lovelies!

First of all, a reminder that in two weeks (on the 14th) I'm leaving for the land of stunningly attractive blond people, stylish black clothing, Ikea furniture, and the Little Mermaid. And I will be there for FOUR MONTHS. Now, even though gallivanting around Denmark leaves little room for blogging - never fear, I will not abandon you. However, I really don't know what my schedule will be like so if you are interested in guest posting at Ravens and Writing Desks, you can fill out this handy form and I will be eternally grateful to you and shower you in chocolate and cake and chocolate cake. And glitter. 

(It should show up below but if it doesn't you can just click here.)

(Also, check out my travel blog which will probably be updated much more regularly than this one.)

Other than guest posts, what other kinds of things are in store for this blog in 2016? Well, I really think a theme redesign is highly in order, but it's going to be postponed until after I return from Denmark. So that will have to wait until June. 

I'm also planning a ton of giveaways. Finally! I've never done any but in 2016 - I WILL. SO BE EXCITED.

Last year, I decided I didn't want to do any reading challenges - and that was possibly the best decision I have ever made. Therefore - no reading challenges in 2016 either. Probably not even the GoodReads one. 

What about on the writing front? Well, my 2015 goal was to finish an editable first draft. This didn't happen, but it was SO CLOSE. I just need to figure out my climax and I'm good. So in 2016, my goal is to create a satisfactory draft to send out to beta readers. Woo! Also, to write more short stories.

HOW ABOUT YOU? What are your 2016 plans? Reading? Writing? Blogging? Living? Tell me all your aspirations and machinations!