Sunday, February 12, 2017

Hiatus|| In Which I Leave You All and It's Very Sad

As the title suggests, I have decided to take a small hiatus from blogging. No, this isn't your fault. Me being the ridiculous human that I am, I've been slowly turning it into a Have-To, which isn't fun at all. I actually wrote a post recently on doing something just because you love it, and that, for me, has been blogging, but recently...not so much.

I haven't been in the mood to blog recently, and I really don't want blogging to become a chore or something that I dread because IT'S SO FUN. So, I think I'm going to be MIA for the rest of February, and see how I feel. I've actually felt like I should take a hiatus since November, but then I had all these posts I wanted to write, so of course I couldn't, but now I'm thinking it's the right time.

RIP An Odd Blog 
(until March probably)

Image result for take a break gif
Just so you know...
Feel free to cry if it makes you feel better.

Toodlepip

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Expectation vs. Reality| Plotting a Mystery Novel

So. It turns out that mysteries are harder to plot than I expected. What's with that? I've written fantasy, contemporary, and sci-fi, but until now, I hadn't tried to tackle the mystery genre yet. In my mind, it was like tackling a kitten, but little did I know that someone had snuck that kitten steroids (I'm pretty sure that's illegal, so...yeah), waiting for the day that I would test the waters of mystery (ooo, great novel title. I call it).

For the past month, I have been plotting my latest novel, Strange Sights. I've had it as an idea for the past year or so, and it has been driving me crazy to not be able to write it! I assumed that as soon as I got to immerse myself into the marvelous world that I wanted to create, I would be happy. Well, it turns out that it's still driving me crazy, but in a different way. Less of a picturesque "oh no, I'm a writer who just has too many things to write. Woe is me." but more of a "HOW THE ACTUAL HECK AM I GOING TO PULL THIS OFF?"

Image result for chris traeger I am 100% sure

This has definitely been a learning process for me, which is good, but also....how important is learning, really?

This learning process (Learning Process: the phrase that I use to describe why I'm crying over math or have my foot stuck in the oven after trying to cook dinner) has changed how I see the mystery genre.
Expectation vs. Reality: Plotting a Mystery
(because boy, did I have expectations...)

Expectation: Mysteries aren't that much different from every other genre. You plot it just like every other genre, you do the same kind of research, etc.

Reality: Actually, you delusional pancake, mysteries are exactly that, A MYSTERY. 
I doubt that any writer has the perfect formula to writing (unless you are a writing god like Maggie Stiefvater), and I doubt that any mystery writer knows exactly what they're doing, but GOODNESS GRACIOUS, was this a learning experience. Each genre comes with its own challenges.
  • Fantasy can be difficult for those with a limited imagination.
  • Sci-Fi can be hard for those who don't like space or shooty things (usually sci-fi includes shooty things that go pew-pew. #hardfacts).
  • Comedy can be hard for those who have as much humor and wit as a dried apricot.
  • Romance can be hard for those whose soulmate is 5 cats.
  • Horror can be difficult for those who are afraid of shadows. And light (because light creates shadows, so...that's scary, too).
  • Historical Fiction can be hard for those who fell asleep in class and aren't actually sure whether World War I was a zombie invasion or if the moon landing was faked by an alien named Neil Armstrong. 
  • A series can be hard for those with commitment issues.
  • BUT MOST OF ALL: the mystery. A beast that lurks in the shadows, waiting for the unsuspecting writer who thinks they can Pants this.
Which leads me to my next expectation.

Expectation: I can Pants this. 
It is totally within my power to write this by the seat of my pants. I'll just let the story go where it goes, like the other novels I've written.

Reality: giRL, listen to a thing.
Murders take planning, schedules, and a reasonable motive (I promise I'm a writer. Please don't call the cops). Murders take multiple suspects that have to all have probable suspicion yet still be as innocent as a butterfly. Murders have to have a little flair that makes them interesting. THESE THINGS TAKE PLANNING.

Image result for plan things gif

Expectation: Writing a Fantasy-Contemporary-Mystery will be a piece of cake.
If I take these three genres and mash them together, that means 1/3 of the work for me!! Because if I can just combine a few things here and there, I won't have to come up with my own original ideas. It's a win-win for everyone.

Reality: Genre x 3 = MORE WORK, YOU CRACKED WALNUT. 
What did you think it would be? A walk in the park? No. The parks closed: you get to walk in the cactus-filled desert (not to be confused with cactus-filled dessert. I will not be making that mistake twice...). It's 3x the work trying to find the right way to get all three genres to mix perfectly without being too busy or insane.

Expectation: I will never use math in life.
Well of course I would never need addition or subtraction. I don't need to know how many apples Johnny has. All that matters is how many apples I have, which better be more than Johnny, otherwise Johnny is going down.

Reality: Fractions, division, and percentages exist in all worlds, not just evil ones (aka any world where you're forced to do math).
It turns out my villain is very much so into using math and percentages for his evil schemes. What is with that? That leaves me trying to accommodate his shenanigans by doing said math. I suppose I could hire someone to do the math for me, but then I'd have to do math to figure out how much I had to pay them if they worked for x hours. MATH IS EVERYWHERE.

Image result for math is everywhere gif

Expectation: Since I'm basing this in a real-world environment, I don't need to focus at all on world-building because I've been to the location many times. I know it well enough.
Like all crazy things, this novel is taking place in Portland (also a little in Ireland, but we won't talk about that). Since I myself have been to Portland many times, I don't have to research much. I know the vibe, the businesses, and the terrain well enough to be able to rely on my own brain over Google for this one.

Reality: Just kidding, I have the memory of a goldfish, and I also have to create a whole other community and tie it in with the residing one. 
So it turns out that magical communities are very different from normal ones, what with their wings and floating cats...

Expectation: Detectiving will be simple.
I'm a relatively intelligent human. I can Sherlock my way out of any situation. I can find proper evidence and clues at the click of a key.

Reality: I am as intelligent as Anderson.

Image result for anderson sherlock gif

True story. I have the mind of a middle-aged man who wears a lot of sweaters and falls against the wall crying. Why can't clues present themselves in a reasonable way? Why can't there be a Clue Line where the detective is shown the evidence straight up? Because then all the Sherlocks of the world would become Andersons. (Then again, Anderson believed that Sherlock was alive, so he may actually be the smart one here. Hmm, food for thought).

Expectation: I'm smart enough to write all this. Totally. 

Reality: To be decided.

What genre is your favorite (to write or read)? For all my writer peeps: What is the hardest thing about plotting? Did I miss any Expectations vs. Realities? 
Toodlepip

Friday, February 3, 2017

Rewind| Agent Carter - A Love Letter to Edwin Jarvis

This is a post that I wrote around June of last year and never got around to actually posting it. Even though now Agent Carter isn't running...
  I figured I would finally bless the world with it (you're welcome). Enjoy.

By now, Agent Carter has climbed to the place of one of my favorite TV shows.



If you don't know what Agent Carter is, what rock have you been living under? Just kidding, I'm sure I already know and have bumped into you during one of those rock housewarming parties. Hint: I was the one that showed up late and brought the veggie platter nobody liked. 

Anywho, Agent Carter is about Peggy Carter, an awesome woman who goes around being awesome in a secret agent-y way and getting stuff done. Also, it's set in the 1930s 40s  olden days. She wears a signature red hat and makes you wish that you looked that good playing dress up. 
She's a fantastic character and kind of revolutionary I think, but she's not what this is about. No, this is about the best character of them all.
No, not him (though he is awesome).
Image result for edwin jarvis gif
Him.
Edwin Jarvis is a classy (and sassy) dude that always has Peggy's back. What I love most about him is that he is portrayed as doing "feminine" things i.e. baking, housekeeping, tending the wounded, being a bit...skittish, but they never have even implied that he is in anyway less of a man or awesome person.

He's very wise, and takes care of Peggy even when she doesn't think she needs it. I love how strong and platonic their friendship really is. Usually when shows have friends of the opposite genders, there is at least some semblance of romantic tension between them at one point or another, but not here. Peggy and Jarvis are just bro's, and that's really refreshing.


He's a man of many talents, he's dedicated to his job, and overall an awesome character. If nothing else, you should watch Agent Carter for Jarvis, 'cuz he's da bomb-diggity. Also, if you watch it, I promise never to say 'da bomb-diggity' again. It's a win-win. 

Toodlepip 

Monday, January 30, 2017

January Favorites| Arson, Gummy Bears, and So Many Emotions + EVEN MORE SHARKS (what else did you expect?)

First Favorites of the new year! Wow, I know everyone says this all the time, but who cares about originality. "Where is the time going?" - Everyone in the world. 

Quick Update
  • I took a little (self-guided) tour of a few bookstores in my general living area with my mother. We ran through the rain, ate copious amounts of chocolate samples, and bribed a rabbit (and that's just the beginning of the shenanigans). 
  • I acted in a short horror film a few friends are putting together. I am both horrified (haha, see what I did there?) and excited to see the result. I have a rocky relationship with my acting skills...
  • I went full on creative on my journal, pasting random pictures and quotes all over. I was feeling sad that everyone's bullet journal was so much more colorful and exciting than mine, so I decided to stop pouting and do something about it. It was super fun. Pics coming soon (??? Maybe. Don't hold me to that because there is a 78% chance that I will forget). 
  • I wrote a really bad poem, trying to be creative and whimsical, but it is a jumble of words and things that don't even make sense, and not in a poetic way. 
  • The 5 story tall apartment building under construction right next to my father's work burnt down. I went with my father to watch the fire and make sure that his business was okay. It was actually crazy, and I was surrounded by hooligans and sketchy people at 12:00 am because that's when the fire was raging. It made it onto the news, and was a once in a lifetime experience. Also, the fire chief said it was arson!
Book
Image result for crooked kingdom Image result for the queen of blood

Crooked Kingdom: I've been obsessed with Six of Crows from the very second I read it, and I quite honestly didn't know how Crooked Kingdom was going to top that, but it clearly did not disappoint. I am a silly jelly bean for doubting Leigh Bardugo. 

The Queen of Blood: This book had been forced to the bottom of my TBR pile because of my carelessness and general tendency to put off books that are larger than a paper clip. I was forced to read it because I owed money. I owed a lot of money... 

Music
I've been listening to a lot of random Ed Sheeran songs. His latest one is basically the catchiest song ever. 
Image result for catchy song gifs

Character
Sophie!! I'm finally plotting this novel and developing the characters. She is the world's most precious little crazy person. I'm super excited about Strange Sights in general. It's going to be awesome. I should do a post on the progress it's making/my other writing projects as of late. Because clearly the world needs to know my next bestselling idea. 

Blog Post
End of the Year/Kind of New Year Book Recap by An Odd Blog ↣ Because SELF PROMOTION and reviewing favorite books which cannot go wrong.

Editing Encouragement by Katie Grace ↣ Because I was right in the middle of those editing blues when I read this. 

positive thinking 101 by Acoustic Erin ↣ Because DANG this girl can always manage to write exactly what I need to read. I'm 37% sure she's psychic. 

That Life Update I Previously Mentioned by Castles in the Air ↣ Because WELCOME BACK ABIGALE. It's been a while. 

10 Things You Should Regularly Tell Bookworms by Paper Fury ↣ Because if you want to be besties with a book dragon, then you should memorize this list and cycle through it weekly. 

Drink
Image result for chocolate mint tea trader joe's


This month, I have been adoring both of these two teas (no I have not been sponsored by Trader Joe's, but I mean, I wouldn't complain if I had. Trader Joe's? GIVE ME MONEY). 
Also, doesn't that look like the friendliest, sweater-wearing bear in the world? I bet he's Winnie-the-Pooh's cousin. 

I am a little concerned for the lemur though. He looks as though he has too much caffeine and hasn't slept for a week. Maybe he should cut back on the black tea. Lemur, honey, are you okay?

Food
Image result for gummy bears worshipping tumblr


This month, a couple friends of mine made a short film, and I participated for one reason and one reason alone. THE SNACKS. I was promised delicious food and assorted unhealthy things, and I was given exactly what I was promised. My favorite food this month is gummy bears. There is nothing like them (except for maybe gummy worms, gummy sharks, and those gross gummy hamburger things. Blech, who eats those?). 
Image result for gummy bears gifs
Aren't they beautiful (and slightly terrifying)?
Tv Show
Image result for sherlock season 4 Image result for a series of unfortunate events TV SHOW


Sherlock, Season 4: I was not prepared for Season 4. It delivered some things that I am not necessarily a fan of, but for the most part, IT WAS SO INTENSE. The last episode of the season was my favorite. It was emotionally intense and it really pushed the characters we know and love to a new level. MANY TEARS WERE SHED. 
Image result for my emotions gif new girl

A Series of Unfortunate Events: I was skeptical about the new series at first because I cannot be satisfied by anything. Of course, I slowly became more and more excited, counting down the days like I was counting down to Christmas. I wasn't disappointed. It was crazy and hilarious and JUST SO MUCH YES TO SETS. The sets were really what made this TV show. 

I adore the little hints and references that were sprinkled throughout the show. I would energetically slap the shoulder of whoever was beside me and die of laughter because references that only you get are the best kind. I mean sure, you look a little crazy because no one understands why the heck a sugar bowl is so funny, but that's the price of being superior. 

Movie
Image result for rogue one

Rogue One: WHAT JUST HAPPENED? I walked into the movie theater (I saw it in an old-timey theater, btw. Yes, it was as amazing as it sounds) ready to like it, but...I was so wrong.

Thoughts I had while the title screen came up.
  • This is going to be good.
  • I can just tell.
  • We got some smuggled snacks, spacious seats, and my BFF beside me. 
  • #perfectNewYearsDay
Thoughts I had walking out of the theater.
  • what
  • how
  • who had the right to make that movie
  • i'm not okay
  • I am the exact opposite of okay. 
  • I'm not crying, you're crying.
  • I am very glad it is raining. 
  • Thank you, weather gods, for blessing me with convenient weather. 
  • everything hurts.
  • I'm dying. 
Image result for my emotions gif new girl

I think it might just be my new favorite Star Wars movie. It was visually stunning, hilarious, and THE CHARACTERS WERE FLAWLESS AND PRECIOUS. AND THE EMOTIONS.

Image result for penelope movie

Penelope: I saw this on Netflix, and I have heard a lot about it, so...why not? It was adorable. It wasn't anything crazy amazing, but it was a fun, lighthearted twist to the Beauty and the Beast tale. Also, I would just like to say that Penelope's little nose is in no way equivalent to a boar face and fangs. I think she got off easy. If I was going to curse someone, I would make sure that they were properly cursed, as in: children screaming in the streets, people pouring bleach in their eyes so they wouldn't have to look at said cursed human.

Image result for sharknado
It's beautiful.
Sharknado: If you have been with us here at An Odd Blog for a while, you'll know that my mother and I have been watching all the classic shark movies. I decided that I had to see the most critically acclaimed, welldone shark movie of them all. And I was not disappointed. I quite literally could not stop laughing. The inconsistencies, bad acting, terrible special effects, and hilarious plot twists make it up to be a cinematic masterpiece that anyone would be lucky to watch.


The Little Prince: This was a 11:30 pm viewing. I had a deadline for something and was nowhere close, so I thought "What better to entertain me yet not distract me than a cartoon that probably won't be anything super amazing. 106 minutes later, I had gotten exactly zero work done and was very emotional over a plant. This was a really sweet movie, and the papery style of animation was perfectly fitting to the fanciful and delicate storytelling that is sprinkled throughout this film. 

Congrats if you made it through the entire post. You get a gold star and a pat on the head.

How was your January? Did anything awesome happen to you this month? Can you believe we're already a month into 2017? I don't. I'm pretty sure it's actually aliens speeding up our time. Those darn aliens...

Toodlepip

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Inspire Me Tag| In Which I Inspire the Nations + Gush About Books (You know, everyday stuff)

The lovely Savannah tagged me in The Inspire Me Tag. My heart does a little happy dance every time I'm tagged.

This is the Inspire Me Tag, which basically makes me feel like I have to inspire the nations. I should not be given this kind of responsibilityA while ago, I did a post on 5 Weird Ways I Get Inspired, but this just takes the inspiration to a whole new level.

1. Copy these rules onto your post.
2. Thank the person who tagged you (thank you, Savannah! You're the greatest.)
3. Tag five other bloggers (Ummmm, I will try my very hardest.)
4. Have fun and be honest and answer all the questions (and feel free to add some of your own!)


What is one are some of the most inspiring things to you?  
I'm going to go full out cliche here for just a moment. Bear with me.
rainy days. old books. candles. a warm cup of tea. fireworks. summer evenings. winter mornings. fall afternoons. wildflowers. misty days. coffee shops. blank notebooks. sunsets. poleroid cameras. 
Also this song (which is still my favorite song, by the way). And the most inspiring thing is when I'm home alone with nothing to do. Then I feel like I should take advantage of the empty house, so I journal and look at inspirational quotes until I HAVE ALL THE IDEAS.

Hiraeth (n) A Homesickness for a Home to Which You Cannot Return, a Home Which Maybe Never Was; The Nostalgia, The Yearning, The Grief for the Places of Your Past...:

Where do you look for inspiration? 
Music. Reading my favorite books. Searching the swirling vortex of doom. You know, average stuff. 

When and where does inspiration tend to hit you? 
Me and my inspiration have a rocky relationship. It tends to come in the least opportune moments. 
  • When I'm having a heartfelt conversation with someone.
  • When I've been assigned housework.
  • When I have a deadline for something.
  • When I'm doing school.
  • LITERALLY WHEN I DO ANYTHING I'M ACTUALLY SUPPOSED TO BE DOING.
  • It's tough. 
What's the first thing you do when inspiration strikes? 
It depends on what kind of inspiration it is. There's watercolor inspiration, piano inspiration, writing inspiration, life inspiration, poetic inspiration, and editing inspiration. 

When any of them strike (which makes them sound like a venomous snake, and that is awesome), I usually journal about whatever is on my mind to clear my head, make a cup of tea, and dive in.
Who am I kidding, I'm not that organized or self-disciplined. 
I get distracted by Pinterest, set my music up (and watch a few random Youtube videos in the process) then dive in. 

What's the most inspiring book/song/website/etc. you've found? 
Image result for furthermore book

I have a slight obsession with this book. It's like a sunset, and warm cup of tea, and wildflowers, and fresh rivers, and so many sunsets all smushed together into one beautiful thing. 

Image result for auralia's colors

Furthermore (see above) and Auralia's Colors are the two most beautiful books I've ever read. Every once in a while, I'll just read the shining description and walk away completely inspired and wishing that I, too, could write like a god.

Another inspirational thing to me, even though I know everyone is probably saying this, is BURNING YOUTH. Guys, you don't even know (unless you already know Burning Youth, then you do know). It's kind of the coolest blog ever. Also their Instagram is the definition of hipster. 

What's one piece of advice you would give to people struggling for inspiration?

✩Dos and Don'ts: Finding Inspiration✩ 
  • Do: Make sure you're properly fed and watered. It's very difficult to be inspired when your mind says "creative" but your stomach says "sandwiches".
  • Don't: Stress about it. Spend a day doing whatever you want. Chill. Let go of all your stress. Watch a movie, paint squiggly lines, go for a walk, or even talk to a wall. Whatever helps you relax! I find that when I can't get inspired, it's usually because I'm worrying about something or focusing on one thing too hard. 

.:

  • Do: Demand special treatment because you are creatively challenged at the moment. If your family (or even strangers) have a heart, then once you inform them that you and inspiration are playing a game of hide-and-go-seek (and inspiration is winning), they should share their condolences, abandoning their precious responsibilities to fetch you a fuzzy blanket and give you a pat on the head.
  • Trust me, this works.
  • for sure.
  • Don't: Expect the inspiration to make your work perfect! (Which is another thing I'm guilty of.) If you are relying on inspiration to take your skills and transform them into the stuff of legends, then you are going to be severely disappointed. Make sure that you are willing to be terrible, even if what you're doing is inspired. 
  • Do: Find inspiration in the little things, like spending an entire day holed away in a library, hissing at strangers as they walk past. You're encouraged to wear your pajamas and bring any food you want. The best way to find inspiration is to avoid all other responsibilities and live the rest of your days in that library. What about a shower, you say? Oh, you mean the can of Febreeze you'll take with you.
  • Don't: Sit around and wait for it. I know this contradicts with my previous point (I'm not confusing, you're confusing.), but I promise you, this is a foolproof plan to inspiration and you can't skip a single step. Sometimes the inspiration follows after you've already started doing whatever you want inspiration for. If you always wait for the sudden lightning bolt of genius, then you might be waiting for a long time (and they say that lightning never strikes twice. You might have already used up your allotted amount of lightning). 
Houston commercial photography

In review: Make sure you're fed and watered. Don't stress out about it. Let others know how you're feeling (and see if you can get something out of it). Don't have a lot of expectations for your work. Take some "Me-Time" (whatever that looks like for you). Don't always rely on inspiration to call first. 
Image result for i'm not going to wait to call gif
I know, it's scary to be the first to call.
I know what you all are thinking: "Wow, she's so smart!" and "How is she such a genius?" and "She should write a self-help book to cure the world's problems." and "Mommy, I want to be like her when I grow up.".
Houston commercial photography

But I'm here to tell you that sometimes inspiration isn't always in my grasp, and sometimes I need help, too (like when my assistant brings me coffee. Where would I be without that? Thank you, Jerry. You're the real MVP).

EDIT: A few days after posting this, I have just now realized that I tagged exactly no one. Please don't contact the tagging authorities.
I tag:
Cait @Paper Fury

Thank you again to Savannah! This was really fun. I love being tagged (hint, hint).

Toodlepip

Sunday, January 22, 2017

End of the Year/Kind of New Year Blogging Recap|| Most Popular Post + I'M A VIGILANTE NOW

Would you look at that? Even more End Of the Year Bloggy Thingies! You're welcome. So buckle up, peeps, because we're going to to look back at all of my blogging endeavors in the past year. Who's excited? 


The best of blogging/bookish stuff in 2016

  • My blog posts changed for the better.
  • I got a lot less cringy. 
  • Looking back at my old posts, I want to burn them, but I can't because then I would be burning my laptop. 
  • That would not end well.
  • I gained a few new followers, so that's fun.
  • I READ SO MANY BOOKS
Image result for i have a problem gif

New favorite book blog you discovered in 2016
Cait (resident crazy person of Paper Fury) is Queen of Blogging. It is true. Her wit and informational yet hilarious style of writing is enough to earn her any title. 

I also adore Acoustic Erin. I always feel like I'm having a conversation with an actual living human (I don't mean to suggest that she is in any way a zombie [though you never know], I simply mean that her writing style is relaxing and laidback enough to simulate an actual conversation). 

Image result for parks and rec laidback gif
Me trying to be laidback.
Favorite review that you wrote in 2016
I love my Hold Me Like A Breath review that I wrote in my August Favorites post. First of all, I rarely review books that I dislike because why waste the time to tell the world of all the sophisticated and complex reasons why *book* is the worst thing you've ever read when you can convey all of that and more by a simple "meh" or "uhg". Second of all, I LOVE JUDGING BOOKS. It is a wonderful thing to act as a vengeful god, casting down books that did not please me. Oh, this book has no plot and the characters are as flat as a pancake? BOOM, struck down. This character was found kissing someone when they should have been saving the world from that fire breathing lizard??

Image result for sliding a book into jacket gif

LIGHTNING, struck down. I should judge books harshly more often (same time next Tuesday?).

Best event that you took part in i.e. author signings/virtual events
In 2016, I took part in a little vigilante-ism (I know it technically wasn't, but hush, let me have my moment). The short version: I brought a library book to a book signing because I didn't own said book/was too poor to buy it, so I thought "why shouldn't I be the library hero and autograph all the books?". I went to a Pierce Brown event and a Marissa Meyers event. Both times I did the library book thing. 

I might be going to a V.E. Scwab event and a Leigh Bardugo event soon, so I'm super excited for both of those because I have sold my soul for a second book to both ladies at two different times. On second thought, maybe I shouldn't go...

Best blogging moment of 2016
Whenever I saw that people had linked to my blog. I kind of have a heart-attack of happiness that anyone cares about my blog. The fact that people even read it still astounds me.

Most challenging thing about your blogging/reading life
Blogging: I've been trying to work on my content (because we all know that I can do so much better than the unproof-read, oddly formatted, random posts I do. I could turn this blog into the sparkling unicorn I know it could be), but I also have been busier than ever. WHERE DO I DRAW THE LINE?
Where do I let go of my precious blog and realize that I need to start prioritizing things like school and jobs? Because I can't blog from a cardboard box in an alley (I mean, technically I could, but I wouldn't be comfortable. Unless I got a few throw pillows... That could work, make the place a bit more homey).

Reading: Kind of the same problem as above. I have this adorable little quirk where once I start something, I cannot let myself quit. So when I set that goal of 200 books, I was going to reach it if it killed me. I was reading until 3am when I was supposed to be getting up at 7 the next day (and you do not want to see me operate on only 4 hours of sleep. It is not pretty. Think grumpy-zombie-demon-baby x10). Yeah, adorable little quirk.

Image result for sarcastic adorable gif

Most popular post on your blog this year
Surprisingly, out of the blue, my June Favorites post was the most popular. It isn't even anything different than my other favorites posts. Here I am, trying to think of new post ideas, when all I need to do is just do the same ones over and over, and I guess it'll catch on. 
And this my friends, is the story of how I became famous. 

Post you wished got more love
Well, none of my posts are crazy popular or anything, but there are a few that didn't do as well. 
My Mid(ish) Book Freakout Tag thingie didn't do too great despite me being an eloquent genius. 
I had a lot of fun writing the Halloween post. I adore the Beautiful Books November post because HAVE YOU SEEN MY PUPPY?? How is that post not viral?

Best bookish discovery
I am an actual 70 year-old man who is stubborn, so every time that someone would say "I think you would really like Goodreads. Have you ever checked it out?", I would turn the hose on and spray them with it until they got off my lawn. 
But
Then I finally decided to see what all the hullabaloo was about. I'm officially addicted, and my TBR has grown into a sentient monster that rivals Godzilla. 

Did you complete any reading goals or challenges that you set for yourself at the beginning of last year?

Why yes, yes I did. I decided that I wanted to read 200 books in the year of 2016. Guess what I completed? MY GOAL.

Image result for bowing gif
Thank you, thank you.
And that concludes the Bloggy Wrapup thing (aren't you so glad that I know all the technical terms?).

If you have a blog: What has been your favorite (or just one of your favorites if you're indecisive) blogging moment?
For non-bloggers: If you did have a blog, what would you name it? I hope something cool like "A Confused Bibliophile". It would chronicle the adventures of someone who loves books but couldn't read. How fun would that be? I bet they'd get up to all sorts of shenanigans with their sidekick. Help me out, guys, what should their sidekick's name be?

Toodlepip

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Are You Spending Enough Time With God?|| Why You Might Be Feeling Drained All the Time

*one tiny thing goes wrong* 

Brain: LET'S CRY ABOUT EVERY BAD THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED. 
Me: Um...this does not sound like a good idea.
Brain: You're right. But that's okay because I have a better one! We can cry about everything that has ever happened to us, AND THEN WE SHOULD GO TALK TO PEOPLE ABOUT IT. 
Me: That sounds like a worse idea.
Brain: You can be crying, they'll be really confused and concerned. You'll probably get really upset with them for no reason.
Me: Let's not do this.
Brain: It'll be great. Let's go. 

I thought I would write a post about this because it's what's happening to me.


I am busy. I love being busy. I let important things slip off my plate because of my busyness, but there is one thing that I should never let slip off: Spending time with God.
For about 8 months, I had a really solid Bible study routine, and I was happier than I had ever been, I was emotionally stronger, and I was able to function in life like a normal human being. But in the last month, I have let my time with God be pushed off.

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Are there consequences? Yes. Am I an idiot? Also yes.

In the past month, my life has been busier than it ever has been before, and I have been running around in circles, not handling it very well. You want to know why? Because I took away the best coping mechanism that I could ever have. God's peace. He promises us that when we are with Him, we will have peace.
PEACEnoun
1. In a general sense, a state of quiet or tranquility; freedom from disturbance or agitation.
2. Freedom from agitation or disturbance by the passions, as from fear, terror, anger, anxiety or the like; quietness of mind; tranquility; calmness; quiet of conscience.
Guess what I haven't been free from recently? I underestimated the importance of my time with God, and in result, it has cost me dearly. I need my time with God, I need that peace that only being with Him can bring. 
Maybe you aren't in the same boat as I am. Maybe you aren't feeling the emotional, physical, and spiritual drain of not being with Him yet, but I can assure you: If you are not spending enough time with God, you will not be at your best. 
I encourage you to turn off your computer, turn off any other distractions, and just read your Bible, do a word study, whatever works for you to connect with God. Pray, listen to worship music, sit in silence, give thanks to Him, take a walk in His beautiful creation, anything that brings you closer to Him. 
Toodlepip

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Beautiful Books - 2017 Writing Goals| My Editing Process + HIDING EVERYTHING FROM THE WORLD (because the outside is #scary)

I feel like I haven't done an actual post just about my writing in forever (my assistant has notified me that it has indeed not been forever. Thank you, Jerry).


Image result for beautiful books paperfury
The original post. 
What were your writing achievements last year?
Well, I reached Draft 5 of the novel I've been working on for years. I am actually a sugar-filled, hyperactive three-year-old and have the patience and attention span of said three-year-old, so sticking with something long enough to get it to the 5th draft is basically the highlight of my year. 

Image result for celebration gif parks and rec

There are only a few more easy(?) steps until I look into self-publishing/looking for an agent/whatever I decide to do, which I suppose brings us to the second question. 


What’s on your writerly “to-do list” for 2017?


  • WORLD DOMINATION
  • just kidding
  • though I did get a journal that suggests I might be planning evil things.
  • Image result for world domination journal
  • Who am I to question the writing gods?
  • I'm also hoping to work my way to publishing through a foolproof four step plan. 
  1. Give my novel to my family.
  2. Hand it over to my friends (along with my heart).
  3. Find beta readers to TEAR APART MY NOVEL.
  4. Figure out what the actual heck I want to do with it then.
  • I'm hoping that I can manage to write one new book this year, plot one, and edit two.

Tell us about your top-priority writing projects for this year!
THIS IS THE DILEMMA THAT I HAVE. I have about 3678 book ideas that I want to write this year, but I think I'm going to write We Are, plot Strange Sights, and edit War Games and something else. 
Then again, I could simply ignore common sense and all my responsibilities to move onto a remote mountain and spend the rest of my year writing all 3678 book ideas. 
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How do you hope to improve as a writer? Where do you see yourself at the end of 2017?
I hope that I can figure out exactly where I am in my writing expertise (because I think I have very far to go, but others say I'm great, but they're also my family, so they have to be nice to me.) I want to obtain as much of an objective perspective as possible. 

I see myself sending my pitches to possible agents or looking into self-publishing. Whichever avenue I take, I really want to be pursuing my first novel being out there for the world to criticise and hate...

On second thought, how 'bout I just hide away all of my creative efforts and watch the Lizzie Bennet Diaries until I die. 
Describe your general editing process.
Mostly staring at my computer, wondering why I am an idiot, and then congratulating myself when I move an apostrophe, because if I am able to change one little thing, then clearly I have the potential to do so much more. And potential is all that matters (no, not actually doing things and being productive. That doesn't matter).  
More accurately:
  • After I finish the first draft, take a nice vacation to the other side of the galaxy to escape from all of my mistakes, and spend a few months eating potato chips and contemplating my life, I like to go through and REWRITE EVERYTHING BECAUSE IT'S HORRIBLE make reasonable changes because I am a rational human.
  • Then I print out my manuscript and go through it making edits that are both amusing and helpful. Things like "Don't do that. That's dumb.", "I am a genius", or "I am an idiot."
  • I take a little bit of space (like a few planets. That's enough space, right?), and then go through my notes, making whatever changes to my manuscript is necessary to make it into a sparkling unicorn. 
  • I give it to a family member to get their feedback and notes.
  • Repeat steps until I run out of things to change/family members to review 
On a scale of 1-10, how do you think this draft turned out?
Seeing as I both adore and hate my novel, I would give it a solid 10, and then I would take that 10 and throw it to the curb to make way for my low novel-esteem (it's like self-esteem, but it means more). 
What aspect of your draft needs the most work?
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just kidding 
The worldbuilding. Because it is identical to every other "Middle Ages" style fantasy-land that makes me want to erase history just to have a diverse fantasy world. I realized not too long ago that I had forgotten to even give the people of this magical fantasy-land a way to pay for all their rutabagas and cabbages (that's what peasants buy, right?). 

What do you like the most about your draft?
My characters. I have spent a lot of time making sure that my characters are the best they can be, and I love them so much. Who needs to get married and have children when all you need is fictional characters to fill your life (don't look at me like that, mom).

What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?
After I finish editing, I plan to give it to my mother (aka the Grammar and Punctuation Queen Because I Have No Understanding Of the English Language. Yes, that is her full title). And then instead of hiding it in a dark hole forever, I am going to crawl into the hole myself because giving your heart to people is scary.
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What’s your top piece of advice for those just finished writing a first draft?
Take a deep breath, my dear friend. You have just done something that many people have never done. You have done something amazing. SO GO YOU!

But this is the best moment you will have because if you want to make your novel great, then you are going to face a lot of rough stuff. You are probably going to have to cut away a lot of scenes that you love. Also, digging deep to bring out the emotion of scenes is not the easiest. 

My Advice: Enjoy this victorious moment, you have earned it! But prepare yourself. 

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What is something you look for in books? And for all my writer peeps: What is the hardest thing you have had to cut/change in your novel? Do you like showing the world things you have created? Or do you prefer to tap into your inner Gollum and creep in the shadows until everyone just goes away?

Toodlepip

Monday, January 9, 2017

End of the Year/Kind of New Year Book Recap| My Taste In Books Is All Over The Place

So...I'm a little late in posting this because it is no longer technically the end of the year, but let's just ignore that tiny eensy little detail. 

2016 was the year that might as well have built a barricade and started singing Le Mis because it revolutionized (see what I did there?) my reading habits. I've been looking forward to this Recap thingie because all the yes to revisiting amazing books. 

2016 Reading Stats

Number of books read: 200

Number of re-reads: Probably, like, 5.

Genre you read the most from: Fantasy. All the way. I don't really think that'll ever change.


Best Books of 2016

Best new book of 2016 ✰ Ah yes. Simple. Let me just decide between all the perfect novels I have devoured with glee. Or simpler yet, let me pick a favorite child. I read so many Just-Published-Fresh-Off-the-Press books this year. How do I pick?

Image result for morning star bookImage result for island of dragonsImage result for stars aboveImage result for whisper to me bookImage result for the raven king maggie stiefvaterImage result for outrun the moonImage result for some kind of happinessImage result for gemina 
Image result for furthermore bookImage result for this savage song

There. How's that for narrowing it down? 

Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love, but didn't?

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I really wish that I had loved this because I tried so hard. The concept was positively beautiful, but the execution, sadly, was less than spectacular. 

Most surprising book
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I was really expecting this to be a "Meh" book that was mildly entertaining, but I connected with it. It was a really enjoyable read even though I don't usually like that kind of book. It was a little depressing, but in the end, I was happy. It was weird.

Book you "pushed" the most people to read (and they did!)
Image result for six of crows Image result for illuminae

Six of CrowsI DON'T EVEN KNOW WHERE TO START. From the first chapter, this book consumed my life. There isn't a day that goes by where I don't think about it. It is my one true love. My reason for living. 
Wait, what was the question again? Oh yeah. I recommend this to ALL THE PEOPLE I CAME INTO CONTACT WITH friends that I thought would enjoy it, and for the most part, they read it! One of my friends went so far as to say it was their new favorite book. 
Illuminae: Looking at you, Lilly.  I pushed Illuminae quite a bit, and at one point, I was kind of concerned that I had annoyed her so much she might move to another country (it has happened before), but then she (allegedly) loved it. 

Best series you started in 2016
*kicks down door*
Did someone say Raven Cycle?
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They're so preeeetty.
Favorite new author you discovered in 2016
Is it cheating to say Maggie Stiefvater?

Ahh, I have just been informed by my assistant that it is, in fact, not cheating because I am the Supreme Overlord of this blog. Thank you, Jerry, for that information. We can discuss a raise later.

Best book from a genre you don't typically read
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I don't do purely romance. I can't. I get bored, then distracted, then distractedly bored. IF THERE ARE NO EXPLOSIONS OR DINOSAURS, THEN WHAT IS THE POINT? Hint: There is none.
But All the Bright Places was incredible. 

  • I laughed.
  • I cried.
  • I literally threw the book at one point.
  • well...
  • it was more of a gentle toss
  • BUT YOU GET MY POINT.
  • Don't read this book. 
  • Whatever you do, do not even approach it. 
  • It will wreck your little heart, do a little dance on it, and then give it back to you tied in a little bow.
  • just don't do it, kids.
Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year
Image result for red rising Image result for wolf by wolf Image result for winter book

Red Rising (aka Mr. Action Packed): Red Rising was my little intro into a grittier side of YA Sci-fi. AND I LOVED IT. Explosions, and death, and rebellion, oh my. 
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Actual picture of me after Red Rising.
Wolf by Wolf (aka Who Knew A Race Could Be So Thrilling (I sure didn't.)): I thought this was going to be more Little Red Riding-Hood and less ruthless-Nazi-children-racing-for-their-lives, but hey, I'm not complaining.

Winter (aka Is This Glued To My Hands? Because I Can't Let Go Of It.): Have I ever mentioned how much I love fairy-tales and fantasy? Have I ever mentioned how much I love sci-fi and fighting?
Have I ever mentioned how much I love fairy-tale sci-fi and fantasy fighting? THAT'S MY DREAM. Winter was flawless (I guess you could find some flaws if you took a little magnifying glass and looked real hard, but we're going to just take that magnifying glass and throw it as far away as possible because no one likes a spoil sport).

Book you read in 2016 that you're most likely to re-read in 2017
Image result for the girl with all the gifts book Image result for vicious book

The Girl With All the Gifts: There was a lot that I rushed through, but I know it was thrilling and zombie-tastic. Tbh, I don't really remember how it ends. Does the zombie virus(?) infect everyone? Does a meteor crash into the earth and kill everyone? Do they go out for tea and scones? Who knows? I sure don't.

Vicious: So, I actually have barely any recollection of plot/characters/resolution. All I know is that it was beautiful because HELLO, V.E. SCHWAB. 

Favorite cover of 2016
Image result for magonia Image result for made you up book Image result for 5 to 1 book

*strokes all the covers* They're just so preeetty. 

Most memorable character of 2016 
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Nimona is unforgettable. She is complex, relatable, and most importantly of all, SHE HAS THE ABILITY TO TURN INTO A DRAGON!

Most beautifully written book of 2016
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Furthermore was simply gorgeous. 

Reasons why Furthermore is a sunset in book form:
  • It's a bunch of different colors all smushed into one beautiful thing.
  • There is so much color.
  • It's crazy and you never know what you're going to see next.
  • HAVE I MENTIONED THE COLORS?
The most thought provoking book of 2016
Image result for our town Image result for some kind of happiness Image result for the graces book

Our Town: The themes all throughout were very subtly powerful. They crept into your mind and then rooted themselves there. One of the more prominent themes throughout the book was living in the moment, and looking at what you have and appreciating it while you have it. 

Some Kind of Happiness: I WANT TO WRITE LIKE THIS. It is so whimsical, but not annoyingly so. Some Kind of Happiness caused me to rethink my writing style and look at where I can improve. 

The Graces: What even. The Graces made me rethink my standards of "perfect" people and who I am trying to be. A strong lesson to learn is that flawless isn't everything. #nobodywokeuplikethat
Though being flawless helps...
It is my life goal. Number One on my bucket list is Be Flawless. Right above "learn how to use chopsticks" and "find out why the chicken crossed the road".

A book you can't believe you waited until 2016 to read
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I've seen this around for AGES (correction: since 2012. BUT YOU GET MY POINT). I thought it was going to be some fluffy, sci-fi romance. It definitely was, but it was a GOOD fluffy, sci-fi romance, with thievery, cyborgs, and evil dictators. 

Favorite quote/passage from a book in 2016
"She'd decided long ago that life was a long journey. She would be strong and she would be weak, and both would be okay.” - Furthermore

This is my main problem in life. I hate crying or not being able to do something, or anything else that makes me feel weak, so I belittle myself (do not try this at home. In fact, do not try this at all), which results in my self-esteem being a perpetual rollercoaster of tears. 

This passage was a really good reminder to me. In fact, I have it taped to my wall so I can see it regularly because I am actually a 70 year old man who is stuck in his ways.

Shortest and longest book you read in 2016
Shortest: A Lump of Coal by Lemony Snicket (36 pages)
Longest: Winter by Marissa Meyers (832 pages)

OTP of the year (you will go down with this ship) 
Image result for the raven king book Image result for six of crows Image result for lodestar book
[MAJOR spoilers from the Raven King] I knew from book one that Blue and Gansey would end up together, not Blue and Adam (though that did have its cute moments). As you can imagine, I was tickled pink to find that the prophecy did come true, but Gansey lived, and now everyone can live happily ever after.

Six of Crows: Kaz and Inej NEED each other. Or more accurately, I need them to need each other.

Lodestar: I'm really conflicted on this one though...
This book is one giant mindgame from the author to get the poor, innocent reader (me) to ship both sides of the love triangle and then not offer any solutions.
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Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure
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SO MANY people told me that I should read Challenger Deep. So I did. I didn't get it. I'm sure that if I dedicated time to deep (hehe, see what I did there?) thinking and sophisticated literary metaphors and connections, I would adore it, but alas, I have the brain of a goldfish.

Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016
I have quite a few, but for you, I will narrow it down.

Gansey from the Raven Cycle: HE'S JUST SO GOOD. What a precious human. He's such a nerd, too. Going on hunts for dead Welsh kings. What a gem...

 :
An actual quote from Gansey...
August from This Savage Song: Confession: I would most definitely let him play me a pretty song, and if being dead is a side-effect of that, then oh well, life can't be perfect.

Best worldbuilding/vivid setting you read this year
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I could go on and on about the worldbuilding in this book, but that might end up taking hours. *slowly closes the binder full of notes* So we won't do that today...

Book that put a smile on your face/was FUN to read
Image result for here where the sunbeams are green

Literally so adorable. This was a trip down memory lane for me since I read it a couple years ago, and I am so glad I reread it because there was adventure, and pretty description, and silly romance, and kidnapping. It was just very FUN (especially the kidnapping part).

Hidden gem of the year
Image result for the wrath and the dawn

I know this is a popular book, and I enjoyed it, BUT I KEEP FORGETTING ABOUT IT! I don't know why, but it is lurking in the back of my mind, just out of reach. I consider it a hidden gem because it's just that, hidden.

Most unique book you read in 2016
 Image result for and i darken Image result for furthermore book

And I Darken was one of the most uniquely and unapologetically ruthless books I've read in a long time. And when I say ruthless, I don't mean it was lacking in the area of characters named Ruth (though I suppose that is true), I mean that it was so GOSH-DARN STABBY. And I loved it.

Furthermore is simply crazy. It's bizarre, and beautiful, and one of a kind, and if you don't think that this post was just one giant plot to trick you into reading Furthermore, then you are wrong, my friend. Because it was. 

What was one of your favorite books that you read this year? Can you even pick a favorite? Because I can't. Did you read anything out of your Reading Box (don't try to deny it, everyone has a Reading Box. It's like a Reading Bubble, but it's more fun to decorate and pretend to drive around)? And most important of all: Have you read Furthermore?

Toodlepip