june 2017; it’s a wrap

midyear wrap up

It is the middle of the year, and so far, so good! I still refuse to do the whole stats thing, because there is not enough activity on my blog – by me or by anyone else! – for that too look anything but sad.

But on the blogging front, I am rather proud of myself! I have kept to my schedule of one discussion post per month, drafted in advance so that I have little stress. AND I have come up with a new feature that allows me some freedom too! Say hello to SPOTLIGHT, posts that can and will be posted as and when I write them! Posts that include interviews with authors! Posts that include me highlighting authors and books that are relatively unknown! Posts that include me, well, flailing would be a good term!

On the downside, I have read NO BOOKS so far this year. I have however written some poems, a short story in verse (a new thing for me!) and have been plotting out another experimental short story. Writing front, yay; reading front, nay?

For those of you interested, on the personal front, things are settling into a new equilibrium. I am now the proud mother of a little 3 month old princess, which is why I haven’t been reading. So I don’t feel too guilty. I’m too busy learning and embracing motherhood.

Sidenote: my best friend sent me a card for Mother’s Day that stated motherhood as the most terrifying hood one will ever go through. I’ve got to agree.

Back to blogging though. I’ve got the next few posts for the next few months plotted out, and I’m trying to figure out how to make this new feature I have thought of a reality so watch this space!

Hope your first six months of 2017 have been a blast!

2016-04-12 11:46

SPOTLIGHT; Katie Cross in an Interview with the Author

We interrupt our regular schedule to bring you this post.

When I stumbled across Bon Bon To Yoga Pants on Wattpad, I never expected to tumble down a hole of “Must recommend this to everyone I meet!” and “When will the next book be complete?” and even “How has this not been picked up by a publisher yet?”

I did not expect to get the answers to my two questions (“Soon!” and “It has!“) ever. But here we are.

If you’ve followed me here from my Tumblr book blog, you will know that I loved this book enough to make a couple of edits for it. With the intention of making more. It happens when I love something this much. At the time, I had no idea I would start a book blog here on WordPress, and no idea that I would manage to get in contact with the author of Bon Bons, Katie Cross, and score an interview!

My second ever Spotlight feature is a little Q&A* with Katie Cross, because everyone should be reading Bon Bons, and what better way then to get the author herself to talk about her book.

interview with the author

Hi Katie! Thank you so much for answering my questions. I really appreciate it.
Thank you so much for having me! This is so fun. I love and appreciate all my readers, so thank you so much for recommending it and asking me. <3

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am an indie author, an avid mountain hiker, a mom of a toddler, and a military wife!

What’s your favourite book?
All of them. I love them all for different reasons! But I’m partial to anything that really hits me in the feel spot.

  • Tell us about your book in one sentence.
    Lexie Green embarks on a journey to lose weight and look stunning, but learns that happiness isn’t found on a scale.
  • Describe your protagonist in six words.
    Lexie is a hot mess!
  • Where do you write from?
    My kitchen table. Seriously. I love working in the kitchen because it’s the heart of the home. Stillness and silence make it hard for me to concentrate sometimes.
  • How did you come up with the idea for The Health And Happiness Society?
    Slowly. It kind of built upon itself with every chapter. Eventually, they became quite demanding.
  • Did you start writing Bon Bons To Yoga Pants knowing that it would lead to a series, or was it intended to be a standalone?
    I started it as a fun project, and it kind of grew a life of it’s own. Which is the best way to have it, I think.
  • When you started posting your story on Wattpad, did you expect for your novel to become as widely read as it did? Did you expect it to be published?
    Not really! It was just an experiment. I wanted to try writing in a really vulnerable way and see if people responded. Did they ever! But once it reached that point, it only made sense to publish it.
  • Tell us a bit about your editing process.
    A bit chaotic. My writing process is always under construction because I’m always learning, growing, and improving. But my editing process starts globally and gets more narrowed with more drafts.
  • What piece of advice would you like to give other authors that you think might help them?
    Little things lead to big things over time. So even if you can only write for a few minutes a day, it adds up to lots of minutes after a month!
  • What do you think was your biggest lesson learnt from the beginning of your writing till now?
    To trust myself. I have better instincts than I thought. But to never trust myself solely. Beta readers are a huge blessing!
Thank you again for taking your time to answer my questions!
My absolute pleasure!
* This interview was conducted via e-mail, and I have not edited her answers at all.

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 5.44.11 PM

I am honestly still shaking a little bit that this actually happened. I had scarcely dared to hope when I took a chance and messaged her, but again, here we are!
She is currently writing the other novels in The Health And Happiness Society, and I, for one, cannot wait to read them. But first, perhaps a reread of Bon Bons.

kcwriting

Katie Cross can be found on –

Twitter | Instagram | Website |
Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads

2016-04-12 11:46

 

;writing communities (and why we need them)

bookworm things

Most readers I know are also writers. Maybe they’re not writing the next Big Thing, or posting what they are writing anywhere. But they write. Whether reviews or poems or short stories or scenes – they write.

And almost every one of them has a community of fellow writers and readers around them that keep them on task, or distract them when they need it. They have a group of friends, maybe online, maybe people they meet up with – maybe even family members they trust – who know they write, who read their words, and who are there to bolster their confidence when it seems like they need it, or to critique their words.

Writing communities, in my humble opinion, are everywhere. And boy, are they important.

writing communities

Let’s start with the obvious, shall we?

Number One;

Communities are necessary because we do not want to feel like we’re alone in how we’re feeling. Talking to fellow writers, or to people who are willing to listen, makes you feel less alone in your frustration. I mean, there is a reason I have a tag for writing on my personal Tumblr where I reblog relatable posts. It reminds me that there are other people who get what I am going through when I get stuck on a sentence, or a paragraph. That there are other writers who get it. Now, this might not be a community that I personally know, but it is the wider writing community, and it still helps me as a writer to know they are out there.

Number Two;

You know the feeling of frustration you get when you write something, and at first, you think it’s great! And then the self-doubt creeps in, and everything you write suddenly looks like trash? Yeah, that feeling. That is when you should turn to someone you trust and go “Hey, I need you to read this and tell me, truthfully, what you think” because you need to take a step back yourself. Someone else’s perspective will help you clear your mind from doubts, will help you figure out what no longer works for you, and what does. That person you trust? It might just be one person, but that’s your core community. It could be your best friend, or your significant other, or your sibling. It could be someone you met online, or someone you went to school with. That person you share your writing with, whose judgement you trust, that person will help you reach your potential.

Number Three;

Sometimes you need to leave the house for a change of scenery when you write. And sometimes you don’t want to be alone when you do. The person you call? Who sits next to you, or opposite you at the library or the coffee shop. Who does their own thing while you write. Who will distract you when you get stuck, who understands why you’ve called them out like this without you having to explain yourself over and over. That person is your writing community. Having someone there, just knowing they are there to pull you out of your own head, is helpful. Trust me on this. I’ve had the same person there for me for just over half my life now.

ipad

Of course, some writing communities are literal writing groups. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with other like-minded writers, then you could go out once a week to sit and work on your individual projects, bounce ideas off of one another, read snippets of your work to each other, or just talk about what you’ve read recently. A friend of mine has a group that does this, and sometimes I get jealous that I don’t.

And then I remember my other friend and realise that I do have a writing community of my own. I have people online I can turn to, and people in my personal life I can turn to, when I need a beta reader, or a distraction, or someone to just hurtle ideas and verbalise thoughts at.

Writing communities are important because they help us figure out what we want to say. They might not be who you think they are – you might not have even realised they’re a writing community yet. Maybe you call them something else. But they’re there for you, they’re important, and we need them.

What do you think?

2016-04-12 11:46

the first of many; a BLOGVERSARY post

first blogversary

It’s my blogversary!

Well, technically, it’s my blogversary month, not day. But because it’s easier on me, I am sticking to my schedule. One post every third Wednesday of the month. Just like I promised myself.

I started book blogging about four years ago, over on Tumblr, and while I loved it, a part of me felt like all I was doing was posting reviews. There was not much interaction or discussion. I didn’t feel like I was challenging myself.

And I wanted a place not just to talk books, but also a place where I could talk a little bit more openly about my views on writing and the community I had found. Hence this blog was born.

I’ve had some ups and downs – moments of doubt and personal upheaval that had me wondering if running this blog was a good idea. And while things in my personal life are going to change majorly once again, it is a good change, and one that I think will help me learn how to balance things better, both in real life and online.

I may not have the most followers, or the most interesting discussions, or even comments on every post I make, but what I do have is a desire to have my voice heard. A place to let out my thoughts, and a place where, I hope, people feel they can be honest in their thoughts as well. I won’t be judging anyone on their personal views. After all, I’m here to start a conversation, not an argument.

This would generally be the place where people post their stats, but honestly, mine are not all that impressive, so I’m just going to skip this part. I am going to say that I have written some pieces that I am quite proud of, and made some friends that I hope to keep for as long as I am able.

Looking back on the past year, things on this blog have not been organised so well. Not at first, and then when I disappeared for a bit, not at all. But this year will be different. It is a resolution I am going to try to stick to, because I have truly enjoyed having this blog. A place to pour out my thoughts on reading and writing and the communities I have become a part of, however small.

So thank you to those of you who have been accompanying me on this journey. I hope you stick with me as I go on.

2016-04-12 11:46

 

 

the nostalgia post;

bookworm things

You know the books you read as a kid that, on looking back aren’t as good as you think, but you’ve still got a warm spot in your heart for them? Yeah, this post is for that feeling. This post is for those books, the ones that you turn to when you need the comfort of your memories, the ones you read when you need to be reminded of your childhood and how much simpler life could be then.

the nostalgia post

There are books that I remember fondly from my childhood. That I can read over and over to spark a feeling of warmth. These books take me back to simpler times. Or sometimes, to the escape I had needed from my studies and, well, society.

I was admittedly a very singular kid. My friends knew when to leave me alone. Too much company got to me.

Books? Books were my best friends.

And these books are those old friends I turn back to when I need comfort. I don’t know many people who have read these particular ones, but I would love to find some. Would love to talk to people who have similar fond memories of the first time they picked these books up.

Patricia C. Wrede’s Dragons series

The first time I read these books, I was 11. I think. My mother, younger sister and two of my cousins had gone on a holiday to visit my mother’s brother. His daughters had drawers full of books – and this series was in one of those drawers. They let me borrow them, and needless to say, I spent a lot of my holiday with my nose buried in them.

It took me years to actually get my hands on a copy of the full series, but when I did, I immediately had a re-read. And while there were obviously some things that, while fantastical and wonderful to a young child, felt a little juvenile to a teenager, it still invoked that same magical feeling in me. Definitely a series I would read again. And again.

Susan Coolidge’s What Katy Did series

Upon reflection, this series can be very preachy. But there’s something about it that I still adore. I think it’s the simplicity of it, the way the characters grow. The familial relationships, and then the friendships that develop in the second novel.

And then the love story – not a very large part of the novel, but a very understated and lovely bit that tugged at my heart strings. It is probably a part of why I keep going back to the books. Why, despite my copies being old and tattered, I can’t see myself letting them go.

Diana Wynne Jones’ A Tale Of Time City

I’ve mentioned this book to a number of people. I still recommend it, because it is a fascinating blend of science fiction and fantasy type elements. It still thrills me each time I read it, and I still find myself wondering what will happen next, even though I’ve read it at least three times already.

The first time I read it was when I borrowed it from a cousin (one of the ones previously mentioned in this post), who highly recommended the author to me. She also lent me her copy of Howl’s Moving Castle, which I adored just as much. But there was just something about this one that kept me hooked. That keeps me going back.

C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles Of Narnia

When I think nostalgia, I think Narnia, even though I was in my teens when I finally got down to reading the series. But the influence this series has had on my writing style probably has something to do with how much I adore it. I read it when I need a pick me up. I read it when I need to find a way to get back into writing.

It is just – whimsical and yet grounded. It teaches us something, and yet, I feel like we could have taught the characters something too. I still find that there is much to discuss about the books and the characters, and there is so much world yet to explore.

This series helped me as a writer. And for that, I will always adore it.

books box

Of course, there are more books that I adore from my childhood. That evoke the same feelings of wistfulness for the past. But these are the ones that struck me the most, I think. Does anyone else have those books that meant a lot to them as a kid? Books that you still turn to, even now, when you need some comfort?

2016-04-12 11:46

SPOTLIGHT; new author alert

We interrupt our regular schedule to bring you this post.

A while back, I talked on Twitter about my niece finishing up and finding publishers for her novels.

Well, today she texted me to let me know that she has finally set up her website and is now on Twitter and Instagram! Please follow her at @authorpremk and support a young writer!

Her first novel should be coming out later this year – it is called Midnight Castle; A Souls Of Darkness Novel, and is a paranormal romance involving vampires.

The synopsis for the second one is not up on her website yet, but it is called Wheel Of Death and is a live adventure YA novel centered around a game involving the elements and prize money of 20 million. I don’t know all the details, but it seems intense!

She’s not on Goodreads (yet), but I know that’s the plan, so do check out her novels and consider adding them to your TBR?

Again, she can be found on –
Twitter: @authorpremk
Instagram: @authorpremk
Website: http://www.premkkaur.com/
Goodreads: coming soon

2016-04-12 11:46

 

 

hashtag twitter book chats; part deux

bookworm things

Yes, I did write a blog post about Twitter chats last year. I was raving about them, and to be fair, most of my thoughts are still the same. I still adore participating in Twitter (book) chats. I still think they are a great way to interact with fellow readers, with finding more books to read, and to interact with writers.

However, circumstances have changed things for me in regards to actually participating in chats, and that, my dear friends, is what this particular post is about.

twitter chat title two

Pretty much since late last year, I have been missing the book chats I usually participate in due to a variety of reasons. First, we were packing up our apartment in Auckland for our move back to Asia. Then we were busy with setting up in Asia, and visiting family we had not seen in a while.

And now? Now I have come to one very important conclusion:

Time differences suck.

When we were still staying in New Zealand, it was much easier for me to participate in chats because 9pm EST meant the afternoon – usually lunchtime – in Auckland. These days, that same timing for a chat means breakfast time. It means that little bit of time I get with the husband and the father-in-law in the mornings before they head off to work.

It means I cannot make the chats I loved to participate in without compromising on time with my family.

And it’s led me to consider organising a Twitter chat that is more conducive and convenient for Asian – particularly South East Asian, if only because that’s where I am – bloggers. The trouble is, I am not entirely sure what it takes to organise and run a chat such as the ones I’ve been participating in. I’m looking into it, that is for sure, but I also know that I cannot do it alone.

I have to find someone to help me out. Someone in a similar time zone to me, with similar interests so that we can run this thing without too much butting of heads. Someone who is up to the challenge.

This does not mean I’m not going to participate in any of the other chats going on. I’m definitely going to try to catch a chat or two every few weeks, if possible. I miss interacting with the friends I’ve made.

I just also want to put together something that is convenient for me. That does not involve me sacrificing time with my family. I’m sure there are other bloggers who feel the same.

What do you think? Should I try and come up with a book chat with timings that Asians can make it for?

2016-04-12 11:46

the year of the diverse?;

bookworm things

It is 2017! And I promised myself that I would try to be better about posting discussion posts on the blog. Yes, that means my schedule is a lot slower than other bloggers, but hey, so long as I keep blogging, right?

But even so, it has been difficult for me to get into the right mindframe. I was having a tough time trying to figure out what I should write about for my first post of 2017. And then it hit me.

No, not literally.

I got an email notification that Cait @ Paper Fury had a new blog post up, so obviously I went to read it. Her 2017 YA Genre Predictions (Which Can’t Possibly Go Wrong) included guest bloggers’ thoughts on what would be on the rise this year in the book community. Which gave me the inspiration I needed.

No, not to do the same thing.

But some of their predictions did spark of a train of thought. With the louder and more stringent demands by readers, is 2017 going to be the year for diverse representation?

the year of the diverse

I’ve talked about diversity before. More along the lines of PoC representation, but that is something that has come up on this blog a couple of times. I am all about diversity in media. More characters that look like me, sound like my grandparents – more characters that struggle with mental or physical disorders without being shamed for it or miraculously ‘fixed’ at the end of their journey.

Basically, I want it all.

And it seems like this year, I’ll be getting it. Or at least, some of it. It is safe to say that #OwnVoices has caught traction with a number of book bloggers, and it just keeps building up. So I’m definitely ready to see some of these books talked about on the blogs I visit. I’m also definitely ready to try to get my hands on these books myself.

Books about generally marginalised groups of people, by members of those communities?

Yes, please!

It’s not that I don’t think an author cannot write about something they have not experienced. Of course they can! So long as they do with respect, and with a lot of research. There’s just something about reading a book by someone who understands what they are writing about because they have experienced it.

I know I’m looking forward to delving into their stories, their experiences. Between Empress Of A Thousand Skies by Rhoda Bellza, Saints And Misfits by S.K. Ali and A Crown Of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi, it looks like I’m going to be spoiled for choice when it comes to writers with an Asian background. This – is a first for me.

And then there are the other books – the ones about the other types of diversity. And we know that these stories will not be diverse just for the sake of being ‘diverse’. I’m hoping for little to no harmful stereotypes or harmful tropes. I’m hoping for a rich and vibrant world, where everybody is different and everybody has a voice.

Hey, it could happen.

What do you think? Will this year be the year of diversity? Will this year meet our expectations, or will it fall sort?

And what are some of the diverse (not necessarily #OwnVoices) books you are looking forward to reading in 2017?

2016-04-12 11:46

 

2016; it’s a wrap

2016 wrap up

Would you believe I don’t actually remember when I last posted something on this blog? For someone who only just started blogging this year, that is – probably not a good sign. It’s the same for my bookstagram. I think I posted six or seven photos, and then I’ve hoarded the rest I’ve taken. I don’t even know why.

I may have bitten off more than I could chew this year.

Not all of that was my fault. I honestly thought, going in, that I would be able to handle things. Last year, even with my Masters going on, I managed to read about 30 odd books. This year, I hit 9. They were books I wanted to read, of course, but for a while I could not begin to fathom at the difference between the two years.

And then it hit me. This year, on the personal front, has been rife with changes. Good changes, for the most part. Great, even. But changes nonetheless.

Despite these changes, I managed to complete and get printed my first ever book! It was specifically written and put together for my nephew’s first birthday. A very specific little baby book for a very specific little man. But it was an accomplishment I was very proud of. It has also sparked a desire to make more of these sorts of books for my little nieces and nephews, and possibly turn it into a small business. I’m in the planning stages.

I also took part in NaNoWriMo this year, my second time after a rather disastrous attempt two years ago. This year, instead of focusing on one project, I decided that since I tend to burn out quicker when only working on one project, I would add in my word count for any and all fiction writing I did during the month. I was also planning to take it easy, giving myself an aim of 25,000 words instead of the 50,000 most people aim for. By taking into account any fanfiction I wrote, and my RP responses over on Tumblr, I managed to hit somewhere over 40,000 words! I’m still rather proud of this.

On top of that, the husband and I moved back to Asia in November this year. We’ve spent most of the year planning and packing up, and now there’s lots of unpacking to do. Luckily, we don’t stay alone, but there’s still work to be done.

So that more or less explains what I’ve been up to this year, but this means that my planning for next year has to be more careful.

Especially considering that I found out sometime when my posts began dying down that we’ll be expecting a little one. That explained my headspace in regards to writing and reading to me – there’s just been no focus. We’re very excited, but it also means that I have to sort my priorities for next year.

Instead of trying, like I did for a while this year, to write two posts a week for the blog, I’m going to slow down considerably over here and on the bookstagram. I do not want to delete completely – it feels too much like quitting, and honestly, that is not something I want to do. I tried to put together a schedule for 2017 instead, one that will allow me to balance my personal and blogging lives a little better. And not overwhelm me, hopefully.

Tentatively, the schedule is as follows:

  • Schedule one of the backlog review posts for every two weeks.
  • Post reviews of what I’ve read as and when I’m done with the book and have written the reviews.
  • One discussion post every third week of the month, whether on reading or writing or blogging. Or even on recipes, since I’ve tried a few this year.
  • Quarterly review of the year?

It’s a far cry from a lot of other bloggers, but this is where I’m at. This is where I’m comfortable. And in the end, this blog is for me to get my thoughts out, isn’t it?

As for bookstagram, I’m thinking of possibly posting two pictures a week instead of two a day like some people do. I’m still figuring out the whole book photography thing, but I’m going to have a new subject for photography next year, so. As long as I post something, I’m happy.

To any readers I have, I apologise for the lack of posts, and I hope to be able to keep to my schedule in 2017. I have two reviews to complete and post, so you can look forward to those in the first weeks of 2017.

To the bloggers I follow, I have not been reading posts recently, but I hope to start reading and commenting again in 2017. Crossing my fingers that I do not get overwhelmed again.

Have a happy new year, everyone!

Till 2017,

2016-04-12 11:46

 

;the life and times of writers

bookworm things

Let me start off by saying, if you write, you’re a writer.

It doesn’t matter if you’re published or not. If you studied English, or whatever language you may write in, in college. It doesn’t matter if you’ve posted your work online or sent it to someone for validation.

If you write? You’re a writer.

Of course, writing comes in all shapes and forms. I’m not here to go into that. I’m here to go into the most relatable things writers feel across the board. In my opinion, anyway.

Note; these posts are taken from Tumblr, and I cropped out the original post’s URL because not all of them were in the post, and I didn’t want to not credit someone and credit others. Feel free to head to my Tumblr blog and check out the actual posts, though.

thelifeandtimesofwriters

Number One;

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-4-15-57-pm

The irony of this is the procrastination involved in being a ‘writer’. Or is that just me? I mean, whenever I find posts about writing on Tumblr, the ones that relate to me the most are the ones that talk about having a plot, but when you open your project, you just sit blankly in front of the screen.

Number Two;

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-4-17-10-pm

To be fair, this sort of ties in to Number One, but still. You have to pick and choose your battles. In the Venn Diagram of Writing, the three circles never overlap. If they do? YOU LUCKY DUCK, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? GO WRITE!

Number Three;

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-4-18-54-pm

When you’re writing, you’re having trouble getting the words out, or something about it is just not the way you pictured. When you’re not writing, you’re thinking about writing. No matter what you’re doing, you feel like you should be doing something else. You just cannot win.

Number Four;

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-4-21-49-pm

You have a great story idea! You try and write it. You do well for the first few weeks or months, and then you fall into a slump. Writers’ block sucks. And then! You get another story idea! Rinse and repeat, over and over. I have finished maybe one original piece of work, and the rest are WIPs. Whoops?

Number Five;

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-4-24-10-pm

Just, something is keeping you from writing. All the time. Even when you want to write. (I did say they were all related, didn’t I?)

Writing is hard. Any writer who says otherwise is lying. (Or a robot.) (Or an alien.) But seriously, with all the distractions around us, no wonder I’m more likely to be reblogging writer woes into my #thelifeandtimesofwriters tag on Tumblr than actually writing.

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-4-28-00-pm

Now, to go and prove this post right…

2016-04-12 11:46