Writing Advice from a Complete Amateur

Hello friends! As most of you won’t have noticed, my blogging schedule has been pretty much non-existent for the past six weeks. And that’s because I’ve been working on my first drat of a very exciting new manuscript! I’ve managed to almost finish my first draft in this time, and I’m hoping to smash out the final few thousand words in the coming days. It’s been great to become immersed in the world I’m creating and get to know my characters, and I’ve found this time off really useful to get back into that creative mindset and take a step back from blogging for a bit.

But earlier this week, I realised that I actually really missed blogging, and talking to y’all! So today I’m announcing my official return to bi-weekly (and maybe even tri-weekly, if I’m organised) blogging! To celebrate, I’ll be sharing a bit about how and what I’m writing, my writing process, and my advice to all of you! Do keep in mind that I definitely don’t consider myself a writing professional and that the writing process varies for everyone.

Without further ado, let me share my somewhat dubious words of wisdom with y’all!

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The Great Hierarchy of Books & Authors

One of the things that annoys me most about the bookish community, both online and off, is the way that some authors look down upon others. From what I’ve seen and heard, this can happen for a variety of reasons, some of which being the genre or readership for which an author writes, or because of the gender of the writer—most of the time, female writers are looked down upon when writing in certain genres, which is really disappointing to see. But what I want to discuss today is something different. I want to talk about the supposed hierarchy of authors, and why those who self-publish their novels shouldn’t be looked down upon.

It angers me that any author should be looked down upon because of what they write, or how they get published. Whether they have an agent or one of the biggest publishing houses representing them, or whether they chose to self-publish is irrelevant to me, and to most readers. But most of all, I hate the idea that some people have that those who self-publish do so because they ‘wouldn’t have gotten published any other way’ or because it was a ‘last-resort’, due to their writing quality being sub-standard. This isn’t true at all, and if you read Heart of Mist and some of the other awesome self-published novels out there, you’ll come to see just how wrong those people are.

 

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Seven Empowering Books

The books I often find myself recommending the most are the empowering ones. The type of books that make us want to stand up for what we believe in and fight for what’s right. The type of books that leave us a little different from when we turned the first page. It’s these books that show us just how powerful the written word can truly be.

It’s incredible that a few letters rearranged on a page can make us laugh or cry, but what’s even more amazing are the ability for books to allow us to see the world in knew ways and gain empathy from these experiences. Books make us better people, and it’s these books that I want to share with you that have shaped who I am and have the ability  to transform every reader.

These are seven of the most empowering novels.

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How to Make a Book Launch EPIC

I’ve been to a lot of book launches in the last few years, and from those, I think I’ve picked up on what makes a launch particularly great. One of the things I love most about book launches is feeling completely immersed in the bookish community. I enjoy being present online and talking to authors and other bloggers and readers on Twitter and Instagram, and even here on my blog, but there’s nothing quite like seeing all these people in real life and telling someone how much you adore their novel or their blog in person. I’ve met so many amazing people since I started attending book launches and other bookish events, and I’m so thankful for this welcoming, supportive community.

BOOK NERDS UNITE!

Having been to more book launches than I can count, including two in the past two days, I have some tips and suggestions I’d like to share, as well as things I love about them that can never be changed because I’m allergic to mixing things up. It’d be like releasing the second book in a series before the first. #NotHappening.Read More »

Reading What You Enjoy

‘Read what you enjoy.’ It’s a phrase that we’ve all probably heard before in our lives, and have maybe even said to some people. You might tell someone who has different tastes in books to you to just ‘read what you enjoy’, end of conversation. If someone isn’t feeling the particular book they’re attempting to read, you might suggest putting it down in favour of reading something ‘you enjoy’. But sometimes the most important books are the ones that not everyone will ‘enjoy’. In the typical sense of the word, I ‘enjoy’ books that are easy to read and are a bit exciting and adventurous, but that I can read to escape reality and experience new worlds. Should that mean that I shouldn’t read the more confronting, powerful novels just because they won’t be easy reads or something merely created for entertainment value?

One of the most important questions readers have to ask themselves is this: What is the purpose of reading? Why do you read? Is it to escape your own reality, or to pass the time? Is it to experience things that might not be possible in your own life? Do you like to learn about people who are different to you in a multitude of ways? Or do you read to educate yourself?Read More »

Asexuality & TASH HEARTS TOLSTOY

For the amount of books I’ve read with queer protagonists, Tash Hearts Tolstoy was the first one I’ve read that features a main character on the asexual spectrum, with Tash being romantic asexual. Although there was a demisexual character in Alice Oseman’s Radio Silence and an asexual character in The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, these people weren’t the lead protagonists. And so when I heard about Tash Hearts Tolstoy, I immediately added it to my list. I need to seek out more YA novels featuring characters who don’t just fall into the first three letters of the LGBTQIA+ acronym, as I’m sure most of us feel the need to do, and so in this post I want to discuss the importance of representing teens of every sexuality in YA fiction.

It’s undeniable that teenagers and young people need to feel represented in what they read or watch and the art they consume, and thus it’s unquestionable that writers have the responsibility to write in a way reflects the diversity of the world we live in. It’s more important now than ever to show that people who aren’t straight but who may not identify as gay or bi or are transgender that they’re still a part of the LGBTQIA+ community and that their identity is valid.

We live in a world where people on the asexual / aromantic spectrum are sorely underrepresented, so much so that many people even believe that the ‘A’ in LGBTQIA+ stands for ‘ally’, which, whether intentionally or otherwise, erases the people who identify in this manner. Additionally, while I’m a big supporter of the #LoveisLove campaign and the gradual ‘normalisation’ of seeing same-sex couples or couples that are not made up of one cis male and one cis female in the film and TV and the novels we read, it’s important to acknowledge that who you ‘love’ is not the defining factor for being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. And the inclusion of characters within the LGBTQIA+ community in movies or books shouldn’t just be seen as the ‘token diverse character’. We’re people, not brownie points.Read More »

The Reader’s Guide to Audiobooks & Audible

Something I’ve discovered recently is that I absolutely love audiobooks. I hadn’t really listened to them much before this year, but now I just seem to be consuming books whole. I’ve already listened to two complete audiobooks this week. I mainly just listened to podcasts before, and I was hesitant to launch into audiobooks because of a few reasons, but I’m so glad that I decided to sign up for Audible and begin my audio-loving adventure.

There are upsides and downsides to listening to audiobooks, and a few things I wish I knew before starting to listen to them, but today I’m going to share all my tips and tricks and what I love and hate about it!

Why Audiobooks are Amazing

They’re convenient! I can honestly listen to audiobooks during 70% of my ordinary daily life. Of course, I’m not able to listen while I’m in class or out with friends, but they’re perfect for my commute to uni and even to listen to while at work. I’m lucky enough to be assigned the very exciting task of making chocolate-coated ice creams at the cinema I work at, so that gives me five hours of solid listening time each shift. It’s such a great way to power through books! Plus, I also love to listen to an audiobook when I’m making food at home or just relaxing before bed. If you see me with earphones in, chances are I’m listening to an audiobook.

It’s relaxing. Even into my early teen years, I used to beg my parents to read a book to me, and they’d always tell me to read it to myself. I missed having someone read to me, so when I started listening to audiobooks, my whole world was changed. You know when you’re too tired to hold open a book at night, or even your eyes, and would love for someone else to read it to you? This is why audiobooks are perfect! It’s just so lovely to have someone read to me again.Read More »

If Books Were Food

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who like to snack on certain foods while reading, and people who don’t (AKA PEOPLE WITHOUT SOULS. Or maybe just without an appetite). Personally, I love to eat sweet food while reading, even though I consider myself as more of a savoury person. WHY AM I WEIRD? Well… there are a lot of reasons.

ANYWAY. For me, there’s nothing better than snuggling up with a book and a cup of chai with a block of chocolate. Not a piece – a block. That specificity is very important to acknowledge. I’m also partial to raspberries and underripe bananas. Just in case you ever wanted to surprise me with food. To be honest, I’d be happy with any kind of food you buy me. I’m not that fussy.

But as well as loving to eat while reading, I’ve found that certain books make me crave certain foods or drinks. We always talk about how reading fosters empathy, but you know what isn’t mentioned enough? THAT READING FOSTERS APPETITE. Uh huh. I’m not kidding. If a book has never made you hungry while reading it because of what the characters are eating, you’d have to be some kind of superhero. Honestly, I commend you.

So these are the books that you need to be wary of when picking up, because you’ll have to have the appropriate food / drinks on hand to fend off those annoying cravings that seem to keep poking at your stomach until you finally indulge in them. You’re welcome.

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Writing Diversely

Today I want to talk about something that has been on my mind for a while now. If you’re a part of the bookish community online, specifically on Twitter, you’re bound to have seen the discussion surrounding diversity and #OwnVoices and making space for marginalised writers. I absolutely believe that we should be reading and promoting more books by marginalised writers, as well as seeking out #OwnVoices novels, but has this gone too far in some aspects?

We want to read books written by people about their own stories and identities, but at the same time, it’s important to recognise that that shouldn’t be the only experiences these authors are capable of writing about. If you’re a marginalised author, you shouldn’t be confined to writing about characters of your own specific identity, but at the same time, privileged writers shouldn’t only have to write about characters of their identity. It’s important to respect the spaces of marginalised writers and promote their own stories and books, but at the same time, we need to recognise that authors shouldn’t have to stay in their own lanes if that means not including characters who are of different cultural backgrounds or identities to themselves. And we also shouldn’t demand authors justify themselves and their right to write what they do – many authors may not feel comfortable disclosing such personal details about their lives and it’s not the reader’s place to pry. It’s simply disrespectful and invasive.Read More »

Top 10 YA Books About Grief

Recently, I’ve found that a lot of the books I’m reading are united by one common underlying theme — grief. There’s something so raw and powerful about these books that means I can’t help but fall in love with the characters and feel as though I’m experiencing every heartfelt moment right beside them. Grief is a strange thing. It can work its way into every facet of your life, paining each smile and making your heart clench, even when you least expect it. Grief isn’t a thing that can be dealt with lightly, whether it be the grief of losing a family member, or a friend, or someone that meant the world to you. It’s these novels that I find leave a mark on me and find a home inside my heart. They say that books have the power to change you, and the novels I’ve read about grief and loss definitely have.

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1) History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

I wasn’t expecting to be as moved by this book as I was. Told from alternating times — History, and Now — this novel revolves around the impact and the lead-up to the death of Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo. Griffin’s grief was so raw and so genuine, and it reduced me to nothing more than a sobbing mess at the end. The writing was exceptional, the characters were vibrant and real, and each sentence was filled with a heartfelt yearning to bring back what was lost.Read More »