A New WIP | Novel Progress

Okay, so I know it’s been a little while! I apologize for the absence. If you’ve been keeping up with blog, you’ll know that I had to kick up the job search again and recently acquired a part-time job that I actually started Tuesday (the day I’m writing this post). I wanted to do Novel Progress updates, but I didn’t feel like I had anything of value to say.

I have some big updates to share today. I don’t want to linger too much on the past, though so I’m going to try and make it snappy. Simply put, I decided to put Come, Beasties aside after talking to my writing buddy on Sunday.

It was not something I had been contemplating up to that point. I had actually sent my most recent outlines to her and received some feedback. We’d talked in depth about my story for the first time in a long time, and I felt bad thinking that I’d asked her to waste her time looking over a story that I felt like stepping away from. But she was so supportive and confident that I would be just fine returning to that WIP after some time away.

The New WIP

I decided look through an old desktop folder where I’ve collected most of my previous writing attempts. I didn’t have an immediate new ideas, so I wanted to scour old documents. I found past NaNoWriMo attempts, ambitious plans for short stories, and lists of story ideas that never came to fruition. I found two stories that really spoke to me.

The first was four single-spaced, polished pages of a introduction that has since evolved several times. It had actually been reworked to become the beginning of a story I had been working on prior to Come, Beasties, which had unintentionally started to develop a classic Victorian horror story vibe.

The second was my NaNoWriMo 2016 attempt. Looking at it after almost two years was really surreal. I remember my inspirations and writing while I house-sat for a professor of mine during the infamous 2016 election. I even remember why I stopped writing, how the story had begun to take a stereotypical turn I did not like. But I didn’t remember how much I had loved the story’s beginning and ending scenes.

These scenes did not have much anything to do with plot, but in my mind they were so visually stunning in a way that I am impressed that I could’ve written them at all. These scenes reminded me why I thought I could become a writer.

I’ve decided to give this “new” WIP a new title (the old one doesn’t seem to fit anymore): Troubling a Star. It’s actually the title of a lesser-known Madeleine L’Engle book that I read (and reviewed) earlier this year. I’m comfortable borrowing it, because I know the final draft will have a title I want to keep to myself. I just feel like this title evokes something that I’m going for with this WIP.

Plot Development

I feel like I always start writing with a character and living situation in mind along with a very vague idea of how they need to change by the end of the novel. The trouble is I struggle coming up with the meat of the novel, the story, the fun and games!

I entered this new project with a plan to keep the story very simple from the outset. I knew who the protagonist is and her problems, but I needed to figure out who the antagonist would be and what form the plot would take. I didn’t want to be too ambitious. I wanted to follow a tried-and-true story structure, adapting it for this story and fantasy world.

I had a list of four ideas, ultimately deciding on the first one. I had reread Vassa in the Night earlier this summer and it’s remained on my mind as a shining example of the kind of novel I’d like to write. I like how it’s a modern adaptation of a Russian fairytale and is so vibrantly envisioned when I read it. I decided could see Troubling a Star having a witchy villainess with whom my protagonist needs to spar to survive (external conflict) and grow as a person (internal conflict).

Other stories that come to mind as inspirations, including The Little Mermaid and Howl’s Moving Castle, but I won’t tell you exactly how I see these works relating to my own yet!

Going Forward

Next week I’ll share more details about how I’m plotting along with more general update on how the writing is going. I want to start officially writing pretty quickly, so I expect things to move along pretty quickly as I draft this novel.

To a certain extent, I don’t want to get hung up on mismatching scenes or messy writing. I find it inspiring to edit as I go, because I find it easier to write when there is “proof” of what the story can potentially become once the first draft is complete. At the same time, I want to write a short first draft and then be able to expand it in future, adding the layers I have trouble juggling in the plotting stage.

Ideally, I would like to finish this draft before November, because a part of me would really like to be able to participate in NaNoWriMo successfully this year with a completely new story, maybe within a genre I’ve thus far left uncharted (e.g. contemporary or historical fiction). I think it would be really beneficial as a writer to write something that is out of my comfort zone and that would require a different kind of preparation.

I’m going start making notes of news stories or historical events that might be fun to imagine fictionally. Maybe that will become a future blog post!

❧ ☙ END NOTE ☙ ❧

I could blabber on and on about more of what has happened since Wednesday, but I don’t think it’d make for a very reader-friendly post. Even if I take a short break from writing these posts, know that I do love writing them. I just don’t want to degrade them by writing anything incoherent and ultimately unhelpful for any of my writer friends out there!

I know these posts are most fun when they are short and sweet. ^_^

Thank you for reading!
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Weekly Review | I Got A Part-Time Job!

Hello! Welcome to this week’s Weekly Review. What an exciting week it has been! On Monday I officially resumed the job search. I began saving job listings and applying for positions high and low. While I know I must continue to seek a full-time job, I knew that it made just as much sense to also apply for something that I could theoretically start doing right away.

My mom, ever eager to get me out of the house, sent me a screenshot of city jobs where we live. I applied for positions as a police dispatcher and a recreation leader at the community center and quickly (as in the next day) received a call for an interview for the recreation job!

I managed to keep a cool head about it, not willing to get my hopes up as I have in the past. I didn’t have high hopes about my odds as I don’t have a lot of direct experience working with children, but the interview went really well! I left happy that at the very least I had gotten some practice interviewing and made mental notes of things I would improve upon for next time.

To my complete surprise and delight, I got the call that I’d gotten the job Thursday and quickly went back in to fill out a background check and complete a drug test. I believe I will start training as soon as Monday!

Unlike last year after I settled into my part-time retail job, I do not intend to rest on my laurels. I need a full-time job if I ever hope to move out of my parents’ house and take care of my student debt. But this job should be really fun and something that makes it easier to get my next job.

This Week’s Blog Posts

IAmAnEnglishMajorLookingForWork

I only posted once this week, a long blog post (I Am An English Major Looking for Work) in which I tell the story of my job-seeking journey up to this point. It felt really good to open up about my insecurities. It’s embarrassing to be 25 and still never have had a proper full-time job, and I have felt a lot of shame when it comes to talking about it in my real life.

I think it was important to share what I want and that I don’t know what I’m doing. As long as it was my secret shame, I think it was going to continue being difficult putting myself out there to apply for jobs. I feel like I’ve told the universe what I want with confidence and hopefully it will soon provide given that I don’t give up trying.

 What I Read

rebelspring.jpg

I didn’t read very much this week, but that I read at all is feat worth celebrating! I’ve not been feeling reading so much lately, probably because of all the other stuff I’ve got going on. Hopefully I’ll break this funk soon, and reading will become the joy and comfort it was for me earlier this year.

I started Rebel Spring immediately after finishing Falling Kingdoms, but I only really read the first two chapters. So I basically had to start from the beginning when I picked it up again this week.

I can’t really say if I’m enjoying this story very much. I’m not significantly attached to any of the characters and am easily exasperated with all the melodrama, but it’s proving a fun and fast read. It’s actually making me really want to read the Lunar Chronicles again, I think because of the rotating perspectives and similar writing? I don’t know!

 Blog Housekeeping

Last week I shared a short to-do list of things I wanted to complete in the immediate future. I made a little progress there this week.

  1. I renamed my About page.
  2. I deleted my Resolutions of 2018 page because I don’t find it very relevant anymore.
  3. I added the category of Bookshelves to encompass all my future bookish posts and contain all my book-related static pages in the drop down menu, including: Book Reviews A–Z, Read in 2017, and Read in 2018.

Blog design-wise, I also began doing some research on how to use my drawing tablet to create my blog logo and new featured images. I also did some preliminary sketches of what I’d like to create, but I’m not sure how long it will take me to bring my visions to life. I feel like right now I will need to keep it simple. Then hopefully with time, I’ll be able to complete what I have in mind.

This week my main goal is to take a good new picture for my social media. I feel like I need to go somewhere where there’s good natural lighting, but I never go anywhere. I may have to force myself to go eat out at the nearest Panera Bread! Maybe I’ll take the MacBook Pro and write . . .

 Novel Progress

I actually have something to share about writing this week! I finally Skyped with my writing buddy again after about two weeks. She recently completed her most recent draft of her novel and was expressing her desire to plot her next book (she’s more naturally a pantser). I told her how I did it and that she could look at my most recent outlines.

I had meant to send her my final, completed one, but I was really stuck again and not sure what to do. I decided maybe she could help me figure out what the plot needs so I also sent her my specific questions so she could also know what kind of feedback I want. If this works, I’m going to be so annoyed I didn’t ask for her help sooner!

I’m still waiting on her feedback, but I started a new outline that includes more plot details. I also started a Scrivener project where I hope to start adding scenes that come to mind, even if they ultimately don’t fit into the main draft. I just want to start writing without any reserve and feel like Scrivener is the tool because I will be able to easily view and rearrange scenes when/if they become permanent.

❧ ☙ END NOTE ☙ ❧

There’s just one week of August left and there’s so much I hope to accomplish in that time. We’ll see how it goes, considering I may begin work training as early as Monday. I don’t know my hours yet, but I think the weekday shifts will be any combination of morning (6–9:30 a.m.) and afternoon (2:30–6 p.m.) shifts.

I’m really excited! It’s going to be great to be working with children during fall. It’s my favorite time of year. I think it’s going to be like being a teacher without all the boring lessons and all the fun activities instead. ^_^

Thank you for reading!
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I Am An English Major Looking For Work

I mentioned this past week that I was resuming the job search this month and wanted to share my process here on the blog. Before I get into the specifics of my search, I thought it might be a good idea to give you a bit of context about my past experience looking for full-time jobs post-graduation before I talk about what I’m doing now.

I don’t know if I’ll regret putting all this out there, but I want to because my fear is that there are a lot of people out there like me who are similar situations. I’ll be happy if anyone learns from my mistakes or becomes motivated to pursue any of their dreams that they may be putting off for whatever reason.

Let me just start by saying I’ve always been intimidated by the prospect of searching for jobs. I don’t find it particularly fun or exciting, especially after having a few times come really close to bagging the dream job only to find that there was someone out there that was better qualified (or as my inner critic spins it better liked).

Something I’ve had to learn is not to let rejections set me back. Hank Green recently made an extremely inspiring video called “My Worst Job Search Fail” on the vlogbrothers channel that put the job search into such a healthier perspective for me. I’ve embedded it below because I think it contains an important message for anyone who is looking for a job.

First A Little Context . . .

I attended Iowa State University from 2011–2015 and decided to major in English because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but felt like an English degree would prepare me for a wide array of careers that require strong communication and analytical skills. As a backup plan for the chance I would not immediately find a job post-graduation, I had applied to a Master’s program at UT Dallas, where I knew my brother would be soon studying.

At UT Dallas I studied Emerging Media & Communication from 2015–2017. I had been really attracted to the described coursework and hopeful that I might be able to make myself a really unique prospect for a social media job in book publishing. Instead, I discovered a hidden passion for the theory and research, graduating with the intent to apply for PhD programs after a year in the real world.

I still didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do or what would make me the most happy, but I was open for anything. I wanted to be snapped up by someone who saw my potential and wanted to make me their mentee.

As someone who was always a strong student, I didn’t spare a lot of thought thinking about what was a realistic career path for me. All I ever cared about while I was a student were my grades and impressing my instructors. A part of me knew that I ought to have been thinking about what I really wanted to do with my life while I was in college, but I was overly idealistic (hello). I felt like finding a job was entirely a matter of luck, presenting myself as a good worker and smart person would make it easier for the right job to fall into my lap.

Originally I would’ve loved to work in publishing; it’s why I started book blogging in 2015. But over the years I’ve come to my senses about the reality of publishing and decided it wasn’t for me. Nowadays I would love to see myself writing for a living, whether that be as an original content creator or some sort of digital publication. I could also see myself managing some business / company / organization‘s social media and other communication platforms with great pleasure and passion.

You really have to be a good sales person of yourself in order to get your foot in the door most places. If you are someone who takes great pride in work done well and are a fast learner but has trouble being aggressive in competitive environments where you have no contacts and no formal experience. It is exceptionally hard if you lack direction.

So I’ve been flailing.

How I Spent the First Half of 2018

I quit my retail job in January after a busy holiday season in which I worked so many grueling hours and gained extremely sore feet in the process. This job was very physically demanding, so much so that my feet were always in pain and my body always tired. It was also emotionally draining. All I wanted to do when I finished work was sleep, eat, and find comfort in the mind-numbing entertainment of Netflix and YouTube.

What is most devastating is that I was never supposed to be at that retail job for long. I always meant to continue looking for and applying for jobs that befitted a college graduate. But during my sporadic days off, it was hard to do anything that made me feel fulfilled or productive, never mind looking for jobs.

So in January I decided to take a gamble on myself. I felt I needed the pressure of having no money coming in to move me into finding a proper full-time job at long last. It wasn’t the best motivator, considering I was still unbelievably fortunate enough to have my parents’ financial support behind me. But the time has helped me come to terms with reality and the options I never seriously considered before.

It’s also allowed me to work on my own health. My feet are back to normal (can you believe they went down a shoe size?) and exercise has been a regular and enjoyable part of my daily routine. I’ve even been able to tackle my unhealthy relationship with food. I’m feeling more content and in control of my body and its destiny than I have in years.

What I’m Doing Now

So my dad works in the Department of Homeland Security. He never went to proper college. He worked his way up from border patrol and ICE all the way up to the highest level possible for a man of his age and his background. Most recently he received an overseas position in Israel where he’s done well. I’m really proud of him. But from an early age, I knew I never wanted to do what he does.

That’s part of the reason I never seriously considered looking into government jobs, especially as I continued in higher education and became more liberal-minded. The Peace Corps is the closet thing I ever imagined myself doing related to government work.

So imagine my surprise when I made an account for USA Jobs and found that there are actually some really amazing job opportunities that fall under the umbrella of the U.S. government. Jobs that take into account educational achievement alongside work experience. Jobs that are not even specifically to do with immigration.

I’ve bookmarked several positions that I’ve found using the job board database, taking into account the requirements, qualifications, and locations that best suit me. Every day I find something new based on preferences I can adjust on my profile. It’s not the most user-friendly database, in the sense that it’s not immediately clear to me if it’s possible to exclude positions for which I am not qualified (e.g. engineering, medical…), but it’s been easy to find a way to swiftly navigate all the open listings.

I also intend to look for jobs at U.S. embassies around the world, as apparently (according to my dad) those can be easier to get because they have less applicants. It’s still a dream of mine to visit Europe, Australia, and Asia one day. I can scarcely imagine a better way to get overseas than to be able to go specifically for a job. Even if it’s temporary position, I’d be willing to do it for the opportunity to travel.

I don’t know how long it will take for my applications to get noticed or receive enough interest to result in interviews, so in the meantime I’m also applying to some local part-time jobs for the city where I live. I already have an interview for a recreational center position. I’m also still investigating opportunities to teach overseas. I get a lot of satisfaction in helping others, so teaching people who want to learn (in any capacity) still feels like something I would love to do.

❧ ☙ END NOTE ☙ ❧

I’m aware I previously said I wanted to make my job search into a series of posts, but I’ve been inspired by the way Czarina @ The Blacksheep Reader integrated her job search updates into her Weekend Reads posts. I’ll try to keep you all updated each week with a short summary covering places I’ve applied and interviews as they come.

Do you have your dream job?

Do you have any tips for first-time job seekers?

Thank you for reading!
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Weekly Review | Tying Up Loose Ends

Hello! Welcome to this week’s Weekly Review. Although I didn’t post that much this week on the blog, I have been up to stuff behind the scenes, which is why I love this blog feature! I don’t have to disappear entirely off the face of the earth just because I didn’t do any polished stand-alone blog posts.

I had a hard time thinking about what I wanted to do this month. Part of that is just life crashing in to remind me the blog is not my life! It’s a tough reminder, but a good one too.

I don’t want to lie, I’m not sure how much you can expect to see of me for the rest of the month. I’m not even really blog hopping right now, which sucks because I love so many of your blogs. It’s just that I have a lot of other stuff on my mind right now that I don’t want to neglect. Hopefully by September, things will be back to a happier normal!

This Week’s Blog Posts

  1. August Goals + TBR ➹

 What I Read

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  1. How I Resist: Activism and Hope for the Next Generation (edited) by Maureen Johnson & Tim Federle |  | I found myself drawn to this book in July and finally finished it yesterday! I quite liked many of the stories, but I had trouble moving from one piece to the next quickly. I read this anthology about 4–5 pieces at a time. As a fairly well informed liberal-minded college graduate who practically lives on the internet, nothing in this book was too new. It was great to see so many different voices with similar arguments but in a variety of personal ways.
  2. Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes || I started this book last week for the #MakeMeRead It Read-A-Thon! I’ve actually annoyed I didn’t finish until Monday, because once I really got into the book it was not hard to keep reading. I just have trouble reading for more than an hour at a time sometimes. I had my reservations, but overall this was a fun read. I actually picked up the sequel right away, as I already had it, and I’m interested in binging that one ASAP!

• • • • • Currently Reading • • • • 

rebelspring.jpg

  1. Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes || Like I mentioned above, I started this one right away after finishing Falling Kingdoms. I feel like if I don’t get straight to this book, I never will, as I wasn’t too blown away by the first book but feel like the series still has potential.

 Blog Housekeeping

As I mentioned in my August Goals + TBR ➹, I have a short list of things I want to finish up by the end of the month. These things are the reason I’ve decided to take it easy with the blog posts (and even blog hopping).

My Blog To-Do List

  1. Create new blog header image (a.k.a. establish “site identity”)
  2. Create original base images for monthly memes & my weekly reviews
  3. Update blog navigation bar
  4. Update static pages
  5. Update social media selfies (my hair is literally past my shoulders now…)

 Novel Progress

I’ve not been working on my novel since vacation. Instead I’ve been getting all the other areas of my life in order! But I’ve been inspired recently by a new YouTube video from my favorite YouTube writer Katytastic, “WRITING CHAT | PLOTTING VS PANTSING,” so I thought I’d share!

I used to be more of a pantser and part of me has begun to wonder, maybe I should give pantsing a shot again? If the trade off is needing to revise more, I think I can handle that. It sounds fun . . .

Miscellaneous

  1. My dad had prostate surgery. Shortly before he went to Israel, we discovered he had prostate cancer. His doctor said it would be okay for him to put off surgery for a few months, so he went for his detail and returned in July to get his affairs in order leading up to the removal surgery. Everything went well, but the surgery took longer than anticipated because . . . I forget what exactly was stuck to what! Anyway he’s gonna take a while to return to normal, so it’s almost like my Mom & I have been home alone again!
  2. I’ve started something of a diet. I’ve been on a health journey this year, starting officially in June, I would say. It’s then I began a steady workout routine. One thing, that has always been my biggest struggle, is my diet. I almost want to say I have a binge eating disorder. I don’t know if that’s actually a thing, but I do know I’ve have a bad relationship to food since I was a child. When/if I see results from my diet, I may do a blog post about it. I kind of feel like I’ve lost weight, but I can’t look at a scale. It’s really triggering.
  3. I’m now all caught up on Sherlock. I first watched Sherlock when there were just the first two seasons available on Netflix. While I adored the first season, I think I only watched s03e01 to find out how before feeling like the show was becoming a bit absurd. You can’t really be multitasking when watching this show! It was fun watching a younger Benedict Cumberbatch after having finally become a real fan from watching Patrick Melrose this summer.
  4. I also watched To All the Boys I Loved Before this week on Netflix and loved it! Finally Netflix puts out a great movie for teens! I was never interested in reading the book, but the movie trailer really intrigued me so I gave the movie a go Friday night. I loved Lara Jean and could really relate to her fears and anxieties about letting people get close to her. And for once, I really liked the jock love interest! He was played so wonderfully. I loved the ending. This cute rom-com truly caught me off guard, and I’m not easily impressed!

❧ ☙ END NOTE ☙ ❧

With the two weeks of August left, I really want to get my blog to-do list done, write, and read. So that may mean I’m not posting as much this month. It is my hope that once I get my to-do list done, it will be easier to post more frequently and on time! Do know that I have some fun stuff planned! I did a lot of brain-storming pre-vacation and I’m still really excited about a lot of my post ideas. They may just not come until September.

At the very least, you can count on Novel Progress resuming this week and maybe a review of How I Resist. And these Weekly Reviews of course! I find them quite fun to write and a reminder that life is happening behind the blog ^_^

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram.

August Goals + TBR ➹

I realize we are more than halfway through the month, but going out of town threw a wrench in my plans. What should have been a nice, pleasant trip turned out to be quite stressful and unhappy. I came back home kind of overwhelmed by all the projects I had started and questioning whether it was all worth it.

I guess you could say the blog has been somewhat on hold this month while I figure it all out. I’m still trying to figure it out, but I’m dipping my toes back into it slowly. Even though it is late, I didn’t want to look back on this entire month and wonder what happened.

So I ruminated about what I’d like to get done by the end of August minimally and came up with this list of three things. I also thought about what books are my priority TBR right now as I’m just trying to keep my head above water!

Goals

➴ 1. Develop a more healthy reading-blogging-writing balance

I feel like I have a strange habit of taking on all the things and then struggling because I find one thing more interesting than all the others. Looking back at my monthly notes/goal posts from this past year, the pattern is really clear! My passion jumps between reading, writing, and blogging all the time. This month in the couple weeks I have left, I want to better prioritize.

Unless I find a way for the blog to become a major source of income, I don’t want to be spending all my time on it. Blogging should be for reflection anyway, so I don’t want it to take up all my time. Neither do I want to feel like all I have time to do is read, because that can become just as dangerous as watching YouTube or Netflix all day long.

So when it gets down to it, writing is what I want to focus on more while I still have the luxury of free-time.

2. Look for a Job + Share the Search

In July I realized I really do need to start looking for a full-time job again. It’s something I don’t really like to talk about, because it’s kind of embarrassing. But I know the longer I put it off the worse off I’ll be in terms of future job opportunities and debt repayment. So I want to overcome my job lack of confidence and interview anxiety to apply more widely for job paths I may not have considered before.

I also want to start talking jobs on the blog for anyone who is still in high school and college and doesn’t know what they want to do or anyone who may not be happy with their current employment and might like to consider other options. Job searching seriously sucks, and I hope to make it more fun by blogging about it!

3. End in the month with all my loose ends tied up

I can never fully relax while I know there are things that I’ve left incomplete. Blog-wise, there’s a lot that I still want to finish up and would like to do before the end of the month. This list of things is less for you, my blog readers, and more for my own peace of mind. It does include books, though! I really want to end the month having at minimum finished all the books I’m “currently reading” (Strange the Dreamer, How I Resist, and Rebel Spring).

I also don’t want to start anything that I’m not going to complete this month! If I start something, I want to keep it to myself until I’m sure I’ll follow through with sharing it.

TBR

In July I met my Goodreads Reading Challenge 2018 goal of reading 30 books. At the start of the year, I literally had no idea that I’d be where I am with my blog today. It’s kind of insane. I thought I might’ve peaked in 2015 with my blogging career, and I’m just so happy that I’ve fallen back in love with reading and reviewing books.

As it’s halfway through the month already, I don’t think I’ll read more beyond what I’m currently reading. I do have some books I’m itching to start once I can commit to them. I’m on a contemporary/non-fiction/literary fiction kick right now, and I’m going to see where it takes me!

Disrupt You!  by Jay Samit

In today’s volatile business landscape, adaptability and creativity are more crucial than ever. It is no longer possible-or even desirable-to learn one set of job skills and to work your way up the ladder. At the same time, entrepreneurs with great ideas for new products or technologies that could change the world often struggle to capture the attention of venture capital firms and incubators; finding the funding necessary to launch a start-up can feel impossible. The business leaders of our future must anticipate change to create their own opportunities for personal satisfaction and professional success. In Disrupt You!, Jay Samit, a digital media expert who has launched, grown, and sold start-ups and Fortune 500 companies alike, describes the unique method he has used to invent new markets and expand established businesses.

Samit has been at the helm of businesses in the ecommerce, digital video, social media, mobile communications, and software industries, helping to navigate them through turbulent economic times and guide them through necessary transformation so that they stay ahead of the curve. In Disrupt You!, he reveals how specific strategies that help companies flourish can be applied at an individual level to help anyone can achieve success and lasting prosperity-without needing to raise funds from outside investors.

Incorporating stories from his own experience and anecdotes from other innovators and disruptive businesses-including Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, YouTube, Circ du Soleil, Odor Eaters, Iams, Silly Putty, and many more-Samit shows how personal transformation can reap entrepreneurial and professional rewards. Disrupt You! offers clear and empowering advice for anyone looking to break through; for anyone with a big idea but with no idea how to apply it; and for anyone worried about being made irrelevant in an era of technological transformation. This engaging, perspective-shifting book demystifies the mechanics of disruption for individuals and businesses alike.

For my birthday this February, I treated myself to some non-fiction books of the self-help variety, hoping I might find some inspiration from them on what my next step should be. I wouldn’t say they lit any lightbulbs personally, but they were motivational in the sense that they made me get more productive. I decided to save on of those books, Disrupt You!, for later and have decided that now as I need to switch gears again is a great time for it.


The Promise by Chaim Potok

“A superb mirror of a place, a time, and a group of people who capture our immediate interest and hold it tightly.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer

Young Reuven Malter is unsure of himself and his place in life. An unconventional scholar, he struggles for recognition from his teachers. With his old friend Danny Saunders—who himself had abandoned the legacy as the chosen heir to his father’s rabbinical dynasty for the uncertain life of a healer—Reuvan battles to save a sensitive boy imprisoned by his genius and rage. Painfully, triumphantly, Reuven’s understanding of himself, though the boy change, as he starts to approach the peace he has long sought…

The Chosen by Chaim Potok was one of my first reads of the year (see What I Read This Winter), a book that got me back into reading after a few months of despair and uncertainty. I loved it and immediately looked into what other books the author had written, happy to find that there is a “sequel.” I had to order it on Amazon, but shelved it soon after as I was on a mission to read more popular fiction. I’m in a funny place again where I need to read more books that feed my soul, so I’m hoping this one does not disappoint!


Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

In this seductive, wistful masterpiece, Truman Capote created a woman whose name has entered the American idiom and whose style is a part of the literary landscape. Holly Golightly knows that nothing bad can ever happen to you at Tiffany’s; her poignancy, wit, and naïveté continue to charm.

This volume also includes three of Capote’s best-known stories, “House of Flowers,” “A Diamond Guitar,” and “A Christmas Memory,” which the Saturday Review called “one of the most moving stories in our language.” It is a tale of two innocents–––a small boy and the old woman who is his best friend–––whose sweetness contains a hard, sharp kernel of truth.

Like most young girls, I went through an adoring Audrey Hepburn phase. I first watched Billy Wilder’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1960) in high school. I even gave myself horrible baby bangs à la Holly Golightly my senior year. It was not a good look, considering I never ever wore my hair up back then! Also my hair was all bleached.

Anyway (and in case you didn’t know), the movie is based on Truman Capote’s short story. It not supposed to be anything like it, but I still find myself wanting to read the source material. The specific book I have includes three short stories in addition to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” which I think will be a fun read as I don’t read a lot of short fiction.

I read the first 50 pages or so of Capote’s non-fiction masterpiece, In Cold Blood, so I know he’s a brilliant writer. The only reason I didn’t finish that book is at the time I wasn’t in the mood for something quite so chilling . . .

✄ —– End Note ——–

In case you missed it, my July Notes ➴ in which I summarized my successes and failures of last month went up on the blog last week shortly after I returned from my trip. The first thing on my agenda is to start tying up those loose ends this weekend with regards to the books I’m reading and the blog stuff I want to complete. Maybe I’ll share my to-do list on Sunday . . .

What are your goals for the month?

Thank you for reading!
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July Notes ➴

July is the month I feel like I finally became a true blogger.  I’ve never been prouder of the blog posts I’ve made and how successfully I’ve balanced being both a blogger and a blog reader. Additionally, I started up two new weekly series: Novel Progress (in which I share my writing updates + topic discussions) and Weekly Reviews (in which I summarize the week’s blog posts and reading progress).

That being said, I did feel like I was edging towards burn out. Exiting July I came away with ideas for how to make things a little easier on myself, but I’ll save those ideas for my August Goals + TBR ➹ post, which should go up tomorrow!

Revisiting My Goals

This month all my goals had to do with my blog. I’ve started to take my blog more seriously not just as place to share my bookish thought but also a portfolio of my writing and individuality. I have wanted to treat my blog a little bit as a job to see how I like it.

Here are the goals I set for June:

  1. DEDICATE M/W/F TO WRITING BLOG POSTS
  2. DEVELOP A UNIQUE BLOG THEME
  3. CONDENSE MY BOOK REVIEWS

One of the best things I’ve done for myself is decide to dedicate specific days to blogging. I didn’t stick strictly to M/W/F, but for the most part I think I kept the spirit behind this schedule alive. I didn’t want to feel like my blog was taking over my life, so if I felt like I did a lot of blog work one day I didn’t do that again the next day. I’d like to increase my productivity on these blog days so that’s something I’ll be working on next month.

So this month I wanted to create a unique blog theme for Betwined Reads. By that, I meant blog imagery, meaning reusable blog headers, featured images, and blog logo. Basically, I wanted to work on my blog identity, the stuff that people remember when they think about the blog. I feel like I got a good foundation started. I have some color schemes I like a lot and my use of special characters has become something of staple. Also after writing my blogger aesthetics post, I have an idea of the stuff I can focus on in my future designs.

As for my final goal, I feel like I did find a book review style that I like. However, I’m not really sure I condensed them. Instead I feel like I just broke them up a bit more attractively so they’re less intimidating on the surface level. I think I’m satisfied for now, but I will keep an eye out for cool ideas on how to make them both useful to readers and satisfying on a personal level.

June’s Blog Posts

||      BOOK REVIEWS     ||

||      BLOG TAGS     ||

||      NOVEL PROGRESS     ||

||      MISCELLANEOUS     ||

What I Read

In July I only managed to read three books. I’m not someone who reads a lot during the week, and this month I took a lot of time in between reading books to work on other things. I would like to make reading a better part of my day next month. All the books I read this month had me thinking a lot in between reads, so I don’t feel too bad about how seemingly little I read.

  1. Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter | ★★★★½
  2. Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko | ★★★★
  3. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene | ★★★½

My favorite read was definitely Vassa in the Night, but that was a reread! So I guess I’ll go with Ceremony. I walked away from that book each time thinking about Tayo and his pain. I also felt it was a very spiritual in a way that anyone from any culture could appreciate. My least favorite was probably Summer of My German Soldier, even though it was a perfectly fine read. My biggest critique is that it didn’t resolve everything that goes down in the book in a way I found personally too satisfying.

☙ ❧ END NOTE ❧ ☙

Sorry this post is coming late! I was out of town last weekend and didn’t prepare much in advance, as I explain in yesterday’s A Quick Update | August 9th. Tomorrow morning I will publish my August Goals + TBR ➹, where I’ll talk about some of my goals for the month and the books I plan to read.

I feel like this year is winding up pretty quickly and I’m excited to see where I take the blog by the end of the year. Fall is my favorite time of year, so I’m getting really excited for what fun opportunities and reads that life will have in store.

Thank you for reading!
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A Quick Update | August 9th

aquickupdate

Hello! I kind of disappeared last week without saying anything or even finishing up blog posts I wanted to go live this weekend. I’d like to chalk it up to blog burn-out, but really it was just that I didn’t get a lot done last week. I was tired all the time (probably because I was working out about twice a day) and watching a lot of YouTube in between naps.

I’ve discovered a lot of new YouTube channels over the past couple of weeks. Shane Dawson has been a favorite of mine since the end of the last year when he started doing more personal, heart-felt videos. More recently through him, I’ve discovered James Charles and Jeffree Star. So there’s been a lot of binge-watching these creators old videos! And I don’t even really wear makeup so let’s just let that speak to their personalities, creativity, and work ethic, which are all reasons I’ve been enjoying and feeling inspired by their videos.

It’s kind of embarrassing how I let myself get derailed from the blog so quickly. That’s actually why I think I was getting a little burned out. I’m on a never-ending quest to strike the right balance between blogging about life and actually living my life. Consider it a theme of Betwined Reads!

So before I left for my trip to the Rio Grande Valley, I had three posts mostly written. The only reason I did not publish them is because I hadn’t created featured images for them. I just don’t like posts to go up without any visuals. I wanted to try something new for this month, but never gave myself the time to work on them.

I’m not sure if it’s worth posting them now. Does anyone want to see super late July Notes ➴ and August Goals + TBR ➹ posts? They’d require some revision at this point…

      Immediate Plans   ➵ 

I was going to go into this in my August Goals + TBR ➹, but since it’s not up yet I figure I’ll announce it here and now: I am seriously going to kick up the job search this month. I feel like this year has been me trying to feel like myself again, without the crutch of school to give me a stronger sense of self-worth or identity. It’s time for me to join the world of the living and working.

I’m not saying the blog is going to take a back seat, but I don’t want to stretch myself thin with everything I want/need to do. That being said, I’m not sure I want to be publishing a lot of blog posts each week. I’m not someone who can start a post and publish it all in the same day. Generally, I like to sit on a blog post for a day or two to make sure I’m happy sending it out into the world like a little fragile little sail boat going into the unknown.

I feel like sometimes I do a lot more work than I need to for things that should be straight forward and simple, so my goal for today (8/9) and this weekend is to make sure everything I do moving forward on this blog I can do with pleasure and pride. I have a lot more free time than the average person, but with so much that I want to do it can still feel like I don’t have enough!

❧ ☙ Final Note ☙ ❧

I don’t want to commit to a schedule in this post, because I’ve not given my posts a serious thought yet. I wanted to do a quick little update just so you know I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth! I think things will be back to normal (or a new normal) by the start of next week! I just need a few days to reflect and establish a new schedule/work flow.

Thank you for reading!
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Novel Progress #2: Introducing My Novel

In case you missed it, last week I announced that I would return to weekly writing-themed posts! I didn’t know quite where I would want to start after last week’s post, but I decided it might be a good idea to give you all a sense of what my novel is about. I also realized it might be nice if it had name so I could stop calling it “my novel.” So the public working title for my novel is Come, Beasties.

Despite my eagerness to blog my writing journey, I do worry about idea theft. So I’m wary of sharing explicit details. But I also don’t want to keep you completely in the dark, so while I may not go into great description of the novel’s details (i.e. plot points, real character names) all at once. Instead I will share details in bits and pieces as they become relevant over the course of these posts so that you get the gist of what I’m writing and how it’s going.

As for today I will be teasing what the story is about and who I envision as the target audience.

What Kind of Story Is It?

It is a YA fantasy set in an alternative universe with magic and monsters where industrialization is still fairly new. My protagonist (M) is about 12 years old and lives in a troubled colony of a powerful country and becomes a pawn in a larger game for magic wielders who want independence and power for themselves.

At this point I think there will be multiple perspectives beyond the young female protagonist. There are a couple of slightly older characters (male and female) whose lives become intwined with the protagonist. I’m writing this book as a standalone, but I imagine there will be series or spin-off potential given the complexity of world I’m creating.

Two authors who I consider primary influences in the type of writer I want to be are Philip Pullman and Leigh Bardugo. I feel like my writing style right now is more Pullman-like, but I love Leigh Bardugo’s plotting and inventiveness.

Who Is the Target Audience?

I would like this to be a book for young people and adults. I’d like it to something children as young as 8–10 can read but that adults would also find an fulfilling read. I’d like it the book to appeal to both boys and girls. I want it to be dark and have heavy themes, but I would ideally want this to be the kind of book that people could read and appreciate differently as they age. I realize that is a tall order!

❧ ☙ END NOTE ☙ ❧

Next week in Novel Progress #3, I’d like to share an actual update about where I am in the writing process right now, as I’ve been working fairly steadily at plotting for the past couple of weeks and imagine I will be able to make the transition from plotting to writing very soon after I receive some feedback from my writing buddy on my plot summary, which I anticipate I will end at about six pages single-spaced!

Next up on Betwined Reads, you can expect my first anthology review for How I Resist, an inspiration anthology geared towards a YA audience about activism. Additionally, this weekend I plan to share my July Notes ➴ and August Goals + TBR ➹!

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram.