Notes on the Last Few Weeks

Hello, again! Welcome back to The Inky Saga. I’ve started this blog post without much of a plan but a desire to share how my life has been going. I have wanted to talk in-depth about what’s going behind the scenes since the mid-April, but it was hard to talk about anything when everything was still up in the air. I prefer not to speculate too much on this blog; it’s often painful to look back on.

I had thought I might layout my summer plans and priorities for the blog in this blog post, tentatively titled “Summer Plans,” but I realized in hindsight, that I couldn’t just  move forward on this blog without first explaining how I got to my current mental state. If you aren’t particularly interested in following my life journey, then here’s the TL;DR version: my dad was sick, I had a bunch of job interviews, and I’m all about that bullet journaling life now. Come back later this week for my summer plans!

For those of you still that are still here, curl up and get comfortable. I hope you enjoy this little slice-of-life blog post that covers life since about April 14 to the present that I’ve written and polished for your reading pleasure.

I Have Been Reading…

Reading was a constant and comfort during the chaos that was April. While I’m still not using Goodreads much, I do tweet when I start a new book. That’s how I know I started reading The Illuminae Files on April 14, 2019.

After I finished Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor (see my review), I had a sudden urge to start reading again. I had yet to read the final installment Obsidio, another book I had listed on my spring TBR, and always knew I would want to reread Illuminae and Gemina again before I jumped into the final book. It was the perfect time for escapist reading. These books are massive, but oh so much fun. I reached for them mainly over the weekend and on nights where I didn’t have much else distracting me. I was able to read a lot over Easter weekend, especially after my dad got sick and needed to go to the hospital.

He had a colonoscopy the Wednesday before Easter, which went fine, but he had been having stomach trouble before then. By Saturday we knew he had not been digesting anything he eaten since the operation and could no longer keep his food down. He was at the hospital for about four nights, because he needed an IV for hydration and nutrition. After some time on a liquid, then a soft food, diet, he was back to normal. But he did get pink eye quickly soon after returning to work followed by a sinus infection. Yes, he was a mess last month!

Around this time, I had also started going on a bunch of job interviews. After months of applications, it was such a long-time coming! I could not believe how quickly I accumulated interviews, all within such a narrow time frame. It was about one every day for about eight days. I attribute it to the time of year and also my newly acquired Red Cross experience.

Before I jump into my interview experience, I will say that I’ve also finally read The Promise by Chaim Potok, another book that was on my spring TBR. It was amazing, although I do have some criticisms and a lot of questions actually. I’m not sure if I’m confident enough to dedicate an entire blog post to the book, as I’m sure a lot went over my head.

I Started a New Job…

Out of all the interviews I did, I only received one job offer and it was for the first interview(s) I did funnily enough. I had gone in for an interview for a voter registration clerk position, which was really just a seasonal position for which I would be put on a list and get called about my availability during election season. Fortuitously, the elections office had an opening in their department and the woman who interviewed me reached out to the department head across the hall while I filled out paperwork about interviewing me on the spot.

That second interview went really well and I was essentially offered that position as well, but I did let her know that I still had a few interviews lined up in the immediate future. She was extraordinarily accommodating, probably because there was no immediate urgency in filling that recent job opening. She just asked me to keep her updated.

None of my other interviews resulted in job offerings, which I admit was kind of surprising and disappointing. I put in my two weeks notice at my recreation job, because I had really hoped I might have gotten at least one other position to serve as my new main job, as I figured I’d still be able to work voter registration on the side. In the end, I have had to chalk it up to lack of office experience and just the sheer amount of competition in this area for city/county jobs.

Anyway last week after a family trip to where my parents are moving, I decided to call back the elections department head who interviewed me that first day and she was still interested in hiring me, so we arranged to have me start this week! I went in on Monday and got the lay of the land. I think working here will be a really good experience. I’ll have my own desk and just one office mate, there’s a really nice break room, and the job duties sound right up my alley. It sounds like I’ll just be updating polling station records, checking up on judges and workers leading up to elections via phone, and helping out in the warehouse with polling equipment and with training sessions.

Right now I will only be working about three days a week, so I’ll have five-day weekends! It also sounds really flexible right now, given that the next election isn’t until November, but there should be a lot of opportunities to work over-time. Cumulatively over the year, I will be working about 29 hours/week, which is the limit because they don’t want to have to provide me with full-time benefits (i.e. healthcare). It’s frustrating, but I’ll take whatever I can get.

I think I will request my work days be Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for the time being, just so I can have long weekends during which I can visit my parents when they eventually move or go out of town just in general as I do want to travel more this year. It’ll also allow me to continue to work stretches of uninterrupted time with the Red Cross.

I do hope to dedicate a specific blog post to my work with the Red Cross, but I’m a little iffy on it, just because of proprietary regulations over ownership of words/works I create about or during my volunteer experience. I might need to ask my supervisor. I feel like she wouldn’t mind and would like me to do it for our region’s blog, which I wouldn’t mind doing, but it wouldn’t be the same as something I would write for The Inky Saga.

In summary, I have a new part-time job and will still volunteer my social media / communication skills to the Red Cross. I’ll also continue to apply to job openings that open up locally. I desperately need a full-time position but figure if I can juggle two part-time positions that pay relatively well, I may be able to survive comfortably for the time being while I accumulate work experience that could ultimately result in the dream job, or something close to it.

I Am Still Bullet Journaling…

It will come as no surprise that I am still bullet journaling, given that most of my most recent blog content has concerned this hobby. I still love it. I get such satisfaction from designing and executing my spreads. It reminds me of how excited I was when I first started blogging, so many moons ago. I still enjoy blogging and have a desire to create long-form blog content, but I’m also enjoying being more active with the international bullet journal community on Instagram.

Most of my productive free-time hours (especially around the end of each month) are spent browsing for new ideas on Instagram, planning my upcoming spreads, and finally bringing them to life in my dotted journal.

I like how this hobby is not just about the journal for its own sake, but also a means for executing other goals. It inspires me to meet my daily goals of eating right or job hunting and also pursue my other passions, of reading, writing, etc. And it’s as private or public as I decide to make it.

All that being said, bullet journaling is a priority at the moment, coming before the blog in many ways. I think that it is a good thing. I used to blog at the expense of the other areas of my life, thinking it would somehow result in the kind of life I want to have. Now I see the blog as a supplement to my bullet journal, a place to elaborate on the significant and best parts of my life and experiences but not the main project of my existence.

endnote

As I wrote at the beginning of this blog post, I’m itching to share my summer plans! Less is up in the air now that I’ve committed to my new job. I have made decisions that will impact how I spend my time off-line and on, and I think it is only right I lay it all out for you soon. Truthfully, writing these blog update posts are as much for me as they are for people who follow my blog! I always write the posts I would want to read, as I am the type of person who enjoys looking back at my past blog posts and remembering where I was at those points in time.

If you’ve read this blog post through in its entirety, know that I appreciate you and your interest in my current life as a paper bag / drifting through the wind / wanting to start again.

Thank you for reading!
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Top Ten Favorite Page-to-Screen Adaptations | Top Ten Tuesday

Before I get started, let me just say that I’m not one of those people who thinks that the book is always superior to the movie. Nor am I someone who has to read the book before I see the movie. Maybe when I was younger did I think that I needed to do that, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that it doesn’t make sense to compare one art form to another. They constructed and consumed differently. It’s literally like comparing apples to oranges.

I think there are many cases throughout modern history that show an amazing movie or TV show can emerge from a mediocre book. It’s just as likely that an amazing movie or show can come out of an amazing book, while making significant changes to the source material.

Ready Player One was a book I loved and was able to binge-read overnight after starting it early one evening. While I was reading it, I felt I could see it play as an epic mini-series in my head. After all, the protagonist undergoes several major changes throughout the book. It would’ve been a dream part for a young actor to play. I could envision places where the story could end between episodes. When I found out it was going to be a movie, I was hopeful but my expectations were not high.

By managing my expectations, I was able to enjoy the movie. I was pleasantly surprised by the plot changes, which I recognized were necessary for the constraint of a movie’s conventional screen time. There were some amazing changes that helped the movie shine on its own; I’m thinking specifically of the ode to The Shining and how the one-who-got-away arc was portrayed!

Some of the books I’ve listed below I have not yet read, but I included them and their adaptations purely on my love of the screen versions! So while I cannot speak to the source material, I can say that I would be willing to check them out in book form should the right occasion ever present itself. So I guess the books are listed based on the virtues on their adaptations!

Page-to-Screen Adaptations

The Hunger Games

I read this book in college after watching the first movie. I wasn’t fond of the first-person present POV and felt the movie did an amazing job bringing Katniss and The Hunger Games alive in a way that made me care and feel for the oppressed people of this dystopian world in a way I’ve not felt since these movies. I was not compelled to keep reading the books, but I did keep watching the movies!

Patrick Melrose

Last year was a great year for mini-series adaptations based on books for cable network television. Showtime brought us Patrick Melrose (2018), the semi-autobiographical story of an upper middle class British man who was abused as child and grew up to become a self-destructive man. Almost every episode was set in a different decade, checking in on Patrick as he came into adulthood and struggled with his past and, ultimately, his parents’ death. It was so moving, I almost wanted to read the books. Ultimately, however, these kinds of books are not what I’m ordinarily drawn to.

Sharp Objects

The other amazing mini-series that came out last summer was Sharp Objects (2018), based on the book by the author of Gone Girl. Amy Adams portrays a troubled journalist, similarly scarred by her childhood, who is summoned back to her hometown to cover the investigation into the disappearances of two young girls. It’s an amazing whodunnit mystery set in the South complicated by the small town’s secrecy and hidden prejudices. The soundtrack is also fantastic.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

The movie adaptation for this book came out a few years ago and was a great example of how to take a source material and make it your own. The director, or screenwriter (who was the author?!), made a lot of subtle changes to the story and characters, none of which took away from the characters but instead rounded them out a bit more. I found the book hysterical and the movie kept a lot of that humor intact, which was really satisfying as there is still a sad story at the core. I think the movie might have been a tad melodramatic towards the end. To me, the book and the movie are very different, but I love them equally.

Atonement

I adored Keira Knightley and James McAvoy growing up, so I saw Atonement (2007) when it first came out, even though I might have been a tad too young for it. I followed the story and themes well enough, but I’ve really come to appreciate the true beauty of the film and its narrative devices as I’ve gotten older. All the actors in this film are brilliant. I’ve tried to read the book a few times over the years, and it hasn’t managed to hold my attention. I do think I may be ready to make another attempt soon!

Never Let Me Go

I can’t remember if I read the book before watching the movie, but I know that I knew about the movie before I knew of the book. It was one of my first forays into adult literary fiction and a book that defined my senior year of high school, strangely enough! I can’t remember how far the movie varied from the book, but the actors brought the Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy to life beautifully. And I think the movie stayed true to the ambivalence of the book regarding the dystopic vision of organ donation.

Interview with a Vampire

Okay, so this was an odd one to include on this list! I read the book when I went through an Anne Rice phase as a freshman/sophomore in high school. I had seen the movie in bits and pieces on TV growing up. I think we probably owned it on VHS. But having read the book, I think the movie is a great adaptation. The book is extremely mature, verging on erotica. Maybe it was supposed to be erotica. I don’t know! But I remember being really impressed by Rice’s writing style growing up. Anyway, the movie makes the story more palatable for a general audience and highlights the theme of eternal life’s loneliness from the book really well. The movie can stand alone on its own two feet!

Little Women

I think I read an abridged version of Little Women when I was younger, and I think I found it relatively enjoyable as an adolescent. I think the source material is ripe for great adaptations, similar to Pride & Prejudice (which I did not include on this because it’s too obvious a choice!). Jo is a relatable protagonist for all the rebellious young girls no matter the time period! I loved the Little Women (1994) movie with Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder, and Christian Bale.

It

I tried reading the book a summer or two ago and struggled mainly because of how long and laborious the first chapter was, but I could recognize it was also beautifully written. It’s a bucket list item to read something of Stephen King’s and I’d like to read this book ahead of the next movie that is to come out. I often don’t feel compelled to read a book before the movie anymore, but I do want to be able to analyze the movie from the lens of the book.

From what I’ve read and heard, Andrés Muschietti’s films are great adaptations. All I know is that the first movie was beautiful and the teaser trailer recently released shows the next film will be as thrilling, if not more so, than the first.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I think the first two page-to-screen adaptations of the Harry Potter series were wonderful, but I don’t feel like the director/screenwriters did much to heighten the experience of the world. The movies were magical because they captured it from the books, which is all you could really ask for. But I think Alfonso Cuarón did a beautiful job bringing the third book to life and adding his own personal flair and style to the experience. In case you didn’t know, he also directed The Little Princess (1995)!

Let me know what you think about any of my picks in the comments down below! I apologize for the lack of images or links in this post, but I almost didn’t post it. I came on a last minute trip to visit family and I didn’t find the time or will to finish this post beyond writing it. I think it’s time to try something new for the blog and for myself, but I’m still mulling things over. I want to be more regular, but I think it’s time call a spade a spade…

Thank you for reading!
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Akata Warrior (Akata Witch, #2) by Nnedi Okorafor

Book Review of Akata Warrior by The Inky Saga

I did not set myself the most ambitious reading goals this year, and it has been a struggle to just read one book per month. However, I was really happy to get to read Akata Warrior, the sequel to Akata Witch, which I read and adored last year. The magical adventures of Sunny and her coven are so much fun and full of heart.

I also love the African representation in the book. These books comment on identity in Nigeria, which is as varied as complex as it is in America. I think is so important that children read a book set in different countries, especially countries that we don’t often see portrayed for a young adult audience. Africa is such a huge continent and in many places, it is surprisingly not that different from certain parts of the United States.

In this post I will talk about the plot and potential spoilers from this sequel. Like with my last review of a sequel, I’m not sure how many people will read this post. So I’m just going to assume it will be people who have already read it and want to talk about it! If you’ve not read Akata Witch, I highly recommend it. You can check out the review I wrote last year.

SEE: AKATA WITCH BY NNEDI OKORAFOR

 • Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor 

Released: October 16, 2018 by Speak
Pages: Paperback, 512 pages
Theme(s): Identity, inner strength, power of knowledge, friendship, balance
Genre(s): YA / Fantasy / African-American Fiction
Age Group: 10+
Goodreads | Amazon*

*Affiliate link disclaimer

A year ago, Sunny Nwazue, an American-born girl Nigerian girl, was inducted into the secret Leopard Society. As she began to develop her magical powers, Sunny learned that she had been chosen to lead a dangerous mission to avert an apocalypse, brought about by the terrifying masquerade, Ekwensu. Now, stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny is studying with her mentor Sugar Cream and struggling to unlock the secrets in her strange Nsibidi book. Eventually, Sunny knows she must confront her destiny. With the support of her Leopard Society friends, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha, and of her spirit face, Anyanwu, she will travel through worlds both visible and invisible to the mysterious town of Osisi, where she will fight a climactic battle to save humanity.

Akata Warrior picks up some time after Sunny and her oha coven have defeated Black Hat and are well into studying independently with guidance from their individual mentors. The book actually started with a really great recap in the form of a letter from the snarky Obi Library Collective of Leopard Knocks’ Department of Responsibility! I had been worried I wouldn’t be able to follow the story, but I ended up recalling most of the first book. I was actually only fuzzy on the ending, probably because I was so unsatisfied by the plot’s main conflict.

In this book Sunny is being haunted by the evil spirit Ekwenzu who wants to bring on the destruction of the natural world. She manages to separate Sunny from her spirit face Azue, which to everyone’s surprise does not kill her. Instead Sunny is forced to navigate the magical world without her spirit guide and find inner strength and confidence in herself.

In this second book, we see Sunny grow closer to her brothers. Each sibling is so different, they all have live such different lives despite all having lived under the same roof. It’s really nice to see them start to opening up and trusting each other with their vulnerabilities and trouble they get into. It is through her brothers that we see a real-life problem plaguing Nigerian higher education: confraternities.

I had never heard of this problem and was glad that Okorafor included this little side plot that was so relevant to the story because of the leopard world’s value of education and the story’s Nigerian setting. It is horrifying to see how people are press-ganged into these secret societies full of corruption that ultimately seem to have nothing to do with the honest pursuit of knowledge.

One more minor thing that I found highly unsettling was the development of a relationship between Sunny’s friend Chichi and her older brother Chuckwu. It’s super creepy to think of a 18-year-old guy who is obsessed with body building off at college being attracted to a literally underdeveloped child! Chichi is supposed to be this tiny little girl. The first book makes it seem like Chichi is older than she looks, but I don’t think that makes it okay!

I think drama of a love triangle was the main the point of throwing Chuckwu into Chichi and Sasha’s relationship. Maybe it can be chalked up to cultural differences, but I do feel it was highly inappropriate even if their relationship was more innocent.

Aside from the horrors of reality, this book was a lot of fun! My favorite parts of these books is always following Sunny as she discovers more about the leopard world and all of what’s possible. The flying wood cutter, Grashcoatah, was a particular delight. He was like a playful Loki in giant grasscutter disguise!

Like the first book, I feel the second suffers from a similar weakness in the plot. I was really in shock again about how many things happened that Sunny did not see fit to explain to the Leopard adults, particularly her mentor Sugar Cream! In the Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events books, the children are always trying to tell adults first and it’s only when they realize they are not being taken seriously do they realize they must act on their own. I’m not sure why it doesn’t even occur to Sunny and her friends to confide in more older people with more experience!

I also really didn’t like how disconnected the climax felt from the rest of the book. I actually did like the slow unraveling of the discovery that the house Sunny had been learning about in her grandmother’s letter was Ekwenzu’s home in the spirit land, but it was not a very smooth transition from the mystery the coven was chasing by visiting the mythical city of Osisi. To be honest, though, maybe I’m just used to stories where the protagonists know what they need to do. Sunny and the gang are plagued by problems not at all personal to them but derived from ancestral conflict.

If I had to rate this book by stars, I’d give it a 4 stars. It’s a very fun read and does what a great fantasy book should: ignite our imagination but also reflect problems we face in the real world. My biggest critique is just the same as it was for the first book; a lacking plot. Ultimately, however, that is easy to overlook since the rest of the book is so fun and I truly care about the characters.

If you read this post in its entirety, let me know if you’re read these books yet! I’m truly curious, as I never used to review sequels in the past. I didn’t see a point. If the first book grabs you, you’re going to want to read the sequel naturally. But I guess people can be curious about where the story goes without wanting to sit through a story and characters they feel so-so about. I, for one, am extremely interested in continuing to follow Sunny’s story and see where this series goes!

Thank you for reading!
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It’s Hamtaro Time ♪ ♫ | May Bullet Journal

Hello, and welcome back to The Inky Saga! Wow, it’s been a minute since I posted. April was extremely busy between work events, Red Cross work, job applications, and even interviews! I’m very glad I did all my weekly spreads ahead of time, because it likely wouldn’t have happened during the month. My free-time was spent walking my dog, watching new series/movies, and READING! Yes, I’ve finally been reading again! I just finished my marathon of The Illuminae Files with Obsidio this weekend.

In April I had an interview almost every weekday for the last two weeks. After obtaining the first job for which I interviewed, a seasonal position, I decided to put in my two weeks’ notice at my current job. I was ecstatic to have a good reason to leave, because I was starting to get emotionally drained. Nevertheless, I’m still applying and interviewing at the moment, hoping to find something more steady that would be able to support me more fully.

Anyway, I managed to start working on my May bujo spread during my free-time last week. It was a major stress-reliever as I waited to hear back on my interviews and pass the time between my morning and afternoon shifts. Bear in mind, I haven’t completed all my weekly spreads yet! But today I will show you what I have mostly done.

Why Hamtaro

For the longest time, I had a different theme in mind for May. Since I’ve been in the mood for murder mysteries all year, I was aiming to create something original based around that theme. However, my job search activities picked up this spring and I barely had time to do anything more ambitious for myself. So that theme has been tabled for the time being.

In April (or was it March?) I was asked to fill in at another school and I met a kid who liked to like draw anime characters for the counselors. I’ve come to realize we’re all dorky artists somehow! For me he did a really cute Hamtaro!

I discovered Hamtaro around the time I got my second gameboy, the advanced SP pictured on the left. My brother and I shared two Hamtaro games, Ham-Ham Heartbreak and Ham-Hams Unite! I have been playing these games about once every year for the past 3 or so years, generally around finals while I was in grad school for stress relief. So, essentially, this theme idea came to my mind at the perfect time.

I knew I wanted another simple theme for the month and something that would still be fun to draw. It was just a matter of looking up iconic imagery from the show (available on YouTube) and the games I already have then deciding on the practical  layouts I knew from experience would work for me.

Sneak Peak into My BuJo

This is the first month where I’ve decided to play around with color! I worked my city’s annual kids festival in April in the art village and one of the crafts was this amazing map of the United States that the visitors could add as much or as little color as they wished. Most of my time was spent coloring with the Sharpies we provided that day, in between helping the kids with their crafts obviously. ^_^

It occurred to me that I actually owned a color set of Sharpies, which I purchased while I was still working on my undergraduate degree. After testing them on my Pen Test page to make sure the ink wouldn’t bleed through, I decided to use color to bring the ham hams to life! They worked better than I thought they would, the colors showing up beautifully on the page. They also dried so fast, so I didn’t have any problems with the color smearing (unlike the pens I use)!

All that being said, I only have my title page, my monthly log, a two-page habit & media consumption tracker (not pictured), before I jump into my weekly spreads. I only did the first three weeks, but I know what I’m doing for the last two weeks. For those spreads, you can watch my Instagram @theinkysaga. I’m aiming to become more active on there as I continue along my bujo journey.

It’s a little off topic, but I have been thinking more and more about how I could provide the layouts I design for anyone who wants to use my monthly spread alongside me. It’s definitely a long-term goal and one I hope to achieve in the next year or so. I see all my “original” monthly spreads as first drafts, so one day I would like return to these spreads and revise/recreate them digitally.

Materials I Use*

*I am an Amazon affiliate. If you make a qualifying purchase through any of the links above, I may make a small commission at no extra expense from you.

endnote

In other news, I have another blog post scheduled for later this week! I also would like to share a job search update once I’m more confident in my position and my short-term living plans, as I’m thinking I will need to move at some point in June. I’ll need to start looking at apartments in my area if I get a job I want here and if not, well, I may be relocating. Regardless of this uncertainty, I do plan to blog more consistently now that I won’t have to wake up before dawn for less than two measly hours of work.

Thank you for reading!
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March Notes

I don’t know if I’m alone, but I felt like March was such a long and busy month. The blog kept me extremely busy. Even with spring break, I felt like there was not a lot of time for a breather. If I wasn’t working on blog posts, I was working on my bullet journal, doing Red Cross training, applying for jobs, or cleaning house if I wasn’t at my part-time job.

I like having a lot to do, but I do think I need to start making more time for myself so that I don’t feel so drained by time the weekend rolls around. I think April will be a lot less stressful, even if it’s not less busy. I have all my bullet journal’s weekly spreads set up for the month and I know what I’ll need to do for Red Cross work.

I feel like I was doing a lot of soul-searching in January and February, trying to figure out what I wanted out life and this blog. Now I feel like I know what I want to work towards. I feel less frantic and more focused.

Bookish

Bullet Journaling

Blog Tags / Awards

Blogging / Life

  • Disrupt You! by Jay Samit | I read the bulk of this book on the road during spring break. I’m really shocked I was able to read it, because I’ve not been able to read in a moving car without getting a headache since I was a child. Anyway, this book was all over the place. The author jumps back and forth with examples from his life and other famous entrepreneurs to exemplify how different parts of value chains (e.g. production, distribution, etc.) were disrupted to the profit of the disruptor. I did not feel like I got what I was hoping out of this book (i.e. specific self-help advice), but it was a fascinating read at times.
  • Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor | After completing my Spring TBR, I decided my next read would be Akata Warrior. I haven’t finished the book, but I am enjoying it thus far. It had a really useful recap of the past book, so I was able to jump right back into the story without missing a beat.

Last month I shared my blog stats for the month of February. I wasn’t sure if I would continue to do so in this specific format, but I decided it was a still a good fit. It makes sense right now while my stats are still not that impressive or complex. If I ever have a remarkable month, I will dedicate an entire post to blog stats.

March was a record-breaking month for The Inky Saga. The blog grew from 288 to 363 blog followers, a net gain of 75 followers. And for the first time since last September, my blog reached 1,000 blog views! There were also 604 visitors, 383 likes, and 130 comments. I think it was the first time I reached 100 blog views in just one day. For posting just fourteen blog posts, I don’t think that’s too shabby!

September 2018 was my last really good blog month, but I did not keep up with blogging after that. I’m really optimistic that the blog could see significant growth over the rest of the year if I keep blogging, blog hopping, and promoting my blog via Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. It’ll be really excited to see if my efforts pay off over time.

My two most popular blog posts this month were How to Avoid Blogger Burnout + New Blog Schedule (45 Likes) and The Wanderlust Tag | Blog Tag (38 Likes). They are also two of my most recent posts, but the next most successful posts are other tags/community memes. My personal favorite was probably my Leslie Knope TBR.

Moving into April, my blog strategy will be to publish least one evergreen post (e.g. how-to or advice) and one community post each week and then something extra, like a book review, job search update, or a compilation post. I will also try to stay on my schedule and get a lot done well in advance. I also want to start up my YouTube account for content I don’t want to write and post regularly on Instagram.

Sunday morning I sat down with my April bujo planner and started jotting down blog post ideas. I looked at the Top Ten Tuesday and Top 5 Tuesday prompts and picked out a few I was interested in, thought about the books I would like to read and review, and re-listed some of the blog posts ideas I’ve had in mind for a while. I’m actually thinking I may pick a few days I can spare this week and front load a lot of the work for the more time-demanding blog posts.

I’m not exactly sure yet what will be up on the blog this week. I know what I’d like to post, but realize I may not have time to finish anything I don’t manage to start this weekend. I don’t want to have anymore publishing mishaps in April, so I’m not scheduling anything that’s not complete!

How was your March?

What was your favorite blog post this month (mine or yours)? ^_^

Thank you for reading!
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A Howl’s Moving Castle Spread | April Bullet Journal

For April I decided to make a Howl’s Moving Castle spread! It took me over a week to pull this one together, between narrowing down my idea and pre-planning my spread. I was fairly certain I wanted to do a Studio Ghibli movie theme this month, but I felt myself gravitating towards the movies with which I was already most familiar. Then Howl’s Moving Castle won out over Spirited Away.

There were a few spreads I was able to find that had done a similar theme (@jannplansthings and My Sister’s Journal (Apr 2018)), but I wasn’t able to find a complete month’s worth of spread ideas I liked, so I had to come up with a lot on my own. It was fun and I’m really pleased with my creative choices and the final result.

I decided to keep this month’s spread really simple. I didn’t set space for goals or a brain dump. I kept it down to the bare essentials: monthly log, stats, and blog post planner. I also decided to do all my weekly spreads in advance so I’ll be sharing them in today’s post!

Why Howl’s Moving Castle?

When I was thinking about spring bullet journal themes, Howl’s Moving Castle probably entered the running when I was looking up umbrellas. Turnip Head turns out to a really sweet and considerate character in the movie and when I think of him, I think of him with an umbrella in his hand.

The more I thought about Howl’s Moving Castle, the more I realized it really is a spring-time movie. We don’t really celebrate May Day in the U.S., to the best of my knowledge, but it’s a holiday that celebrates spring and an opening event in the book that brings Howl and Sophie together. Flowers are in bloom and present throughout the movie, whether they be in the hat shop or in nature.

I could have saved this theme for May, but I’ve had a different theme in mind for that month for a couple of months now. Plus, May in Texas definitely feels like more like summer than spring…

The April Spread

The title page of the moving castle came from two very similar designs I discovered in my planning stage, one a painting and the other line art. I loved the look of both, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to commit to using color yet. So I decided I would lean into the inked version and add color later if I felt like it.

I tried out a new monthly log layout that I discovered from Boho Berry. I don’t know how much use I’ll make out of it, but I do think it might help me visualize my days a little better by breaking the Personal column of past spreads into AM & PM columns. I also like the last column where I can take notes that best help me picture the work I do in April. To tie in the theme, I decided to draw in Sophie and Sullivan’s dog from the movie scene where they are watching a young Howl swallow a shooting star that fell to Earth.

The last two-page spread before I get into weekly spreads I decided to dedicate to blog stats and open space for blog post planning. I separated the stats from the bigger space with Turnip Head’s scarecrow arms. Other than that detail, I wanted to have a lot of space for any notes I wanted to take during April. I had way more space than I needed for brain dumps last month, and I knew I’d have a lot less time this month for creative personal projects.

THE WEEKLYS

I don’t want to talk too much about each week’s specific layout, because I did all five for the month in advance! This is why this post ended up coming much later than I had hoped. (Sorry this post was published incomplete this week!)

I had the visual imagery in mind before I knew the specific layouts I would use, but I felt it very intuitive to apply everything I wanted and keep the weeks all unique in design and format. Below you can see the weekly spreads that incorporate Sophie’s hat shop (Week 1), Calcifer with a frying pan over him (Week 2), the doors with Howl’s portals (Week 3), the field with shooting stars landing on Earth (Week 4), and Sullivan’s magic ball and dog (Week 5).

The spreads for Week 1 and Week 3 were finished on Saturday! I couldn’t find any pre-existing bujo spread ideas to go off, so I developed them entirely on my own by just referencing movie stills. I’m rather pleased with the final products for all the fretting I did over them!

I can’t wait to jump into this April spread! It’s my favorite of the year so far, and it’s especially special because it’s my first in my new Scribbles That Matter bullet journal!

Next on the blog will be my monthly wrap up, which I started last weekend. My March flip-through will likely be in a video format, shared on YouTube and/or Instagram. I do hope to launch my YouTube channel in April, but I do not expect to be very consistent with it. I’m far more interested in being consistent with the blog, which takes enough of my time as it is ^_^

Thank you for reading!
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The Wanderlust Tag | Blog Tag

This week I was tagged by Sara @ The Bibliophagist for The Wanderlust Tag! Since I’ve been working on new kinds of blog content this month, I was delighted to be tagged and have another reason for a more relaxed and casual blog post that allows new followers to learn a little more about me and my interest. While this blog tag is specific to books, but I think that book recommendations reveal a lot about a person who put the list together. So hopefully it’s a fun read for anyone who has decided to follow this blog!

I’m also using this post as an opportunity for an informal catch-up. I’ve been so busy this week with helping to get the house ready for the flyer pictures. Now I won’t know with much warning when I’ll be expected to pick up and leave for house viewings. I also met with my Red Cross supervisor this week to find out what is expected of me. I’m going to start preparing social media content for our region at the start of April, so I’ll be figuring out just how long it takes me to do that next week!

Thank you so much for your support this month with all my posts and blog changes! I’m so happy with everything and can’t wait to see what April brings. I plan to publish Monday, Wednesday, and Friday this week, so I’ll be working on these posts this weekend. Hopefully they don’t take too long, because this week I need to set up my April bujo spread!

What Is The Wanderlust Tag?

❝ If you have been following my little blog, you’ll also know that I’m all about the world building. I love how a good setting works to elevate the overall mood and tension. Nothing beats the draw of an eerie moorland, murky rivers, a wind-swept coastal town or even a ruthless, Tolkien-like fantasy world. [This blog tag is] a celebration of immersive settings that transport us to alternative realities  – Alexandra @ Reading by Starlight

The Rules

  • Mention the creator of the tag and link back to original post
  • Thank the blogger who tagged you
  • Answer the 10 questions below using any genre
  • Tag 5+ friends

If you find any of the books listed below fascinating I’ve included links to them on both Goodreads and Amazon. Just so you know, I am now an Amazon affiliate. If you do end up making a qualifying purchase through my one of my links I may make a small commission at no extra expense to you. ^_^

SECRETS AND LIES | A BOOK SET IN A SLEEPY SMALL TOWN

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Pages: Paperback, 288 pages
Published: August 31, 2010 by Vintage Books
Genres: New Adult / Speculative
Goodreads | Amazon

From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day and When We Were Orphans, comes an unforgettable edge-of-your-seat mystery that is at once heartbreakingly tender and morally courageous about what it means to be human.

Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.

Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it’s only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is.

Never Let Me Go breaks through the boundaries of the literary novel. It is a gripping mystery, a beautiful love story, and also a scathing critique of human arrogance and a moral examination of how we treat the vulnerable and different in our society. In exploring the themes of memory and the impact of the past, Ishiguro takes on the idea of a possible future to create his most moving and powerful book to date.

Never Let Me Go was one of my first forays into literary fiction as a high schooler. The movie came out around my junior year of high school, which is why this book was on my radar. It’s a beautifully sad tale about what it means to be human. I still remember by frustration and confusion about why they don’t make a run for it and why they aren’t more frustrated with their fates. They were so resigned to it.

SALT AND SAND | A BOOK WITH A BEACHSIDE COMMUNITY

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Pages: Paperback, 227 pages
Published: May 13, 2014 by Hot Key Books
Genres: Young Adult / Family Drama
Goodreads | Amazon

We are the Liars.

We are beautiful, privileged and live a life of carefree luxury.

We are cracked and broken.

A story of love and romance.

A tale of tragedy.

Which are lies?

Which is truth?

You decide.

This young adult novel is one of my inexplicable favorites. It gets me every time. I feel like it’s best to go into this book somewhat blind, so all I’ll say is it’s a great summertime read. The characters have summer vacations a dreamy private island and occasionally visit the nearby beachside town. In my head I picture where the cast of Gossip Girl go at the start of…Season 2 or 3?

HERE THERE BE DRAGONS | A BOOK WITH A VOYAGE ON THE HIGH SEAS

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Pages: Hardcover, 462 pages
Published: September 29, 2015 by Henry Holt and Company
Genres: New Adult / Fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .

A convict with a thirst for revenge

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager

A runaway with a privileged past

A spy known as the Wraith

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

This book is just…everything. I don’t have time to get into it! I’ll just say that a lot of important moments happen at sea and around docks. The gang travels by sea to get to their heist and then need to return the same way.

TREAD LIGHTLY | A BOOK SET DOWN A MURKY RIVER OR A JUNGLE

City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende
Pages: Paperback, 408 pages
Published: April 27, 2004 by Rayo
Genres: Young Adult / Contemporary
Goodreads | Amazon

Fifteen-year-old Alexander Cold is about to join his fearless grandmother on the trip of a lifetime. An International Geographic expedition is headed to the dangerous, remote wilds of South America, on a mission to document the legendary Yeti of the Amazon known as the Beast.

But there are many secrets hidden in the unexplored wilderness, as Alex and his new friend Nadia soon discover. Drawing on the strength of their spirit guides, both young people are led on a thrilling and unforgettable journey to the ultimate discovery. . .

I reread this book for the first time since I was a teen last year (and reviewed it) and I did not remember how violent and dark this story was, considering its targeted towards young people. It’s very descriptive of the Amazon and the dangers it holds, so it’s a great read for anyone who enjoys high-stakes adventures.

FROZEN WASTES | A BOOK WITH A FROSTBITTEN ATMOSPHERE

Troubling a Star by Madeleine L’Engle
Pages: Paperback, 336 pages
Published: September 2, 2008 by Square Fish
Genres: Young Adult / Contemporary
Goodreads | Amazon

The Austins have settled back into their beloved home in the country after more than a year away. Though they had all missed the predictability and security of life in Thornhill, Vicky Austin is discovering that slipping back into her old life isn’t easy. She’s been changed by life in New York City and her travels around the country while her old friends seem to have stayed the same. So Vicky finds herself spending time with a new friend, Serena Eddington—the great-aunt of a boy Vicky met over the summer.

Aunt Serena gives Vicky an incredible birthday gift—a month-long trip to Antarctica. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. But Vicky is nervous. She’s never been away from her family before. Once she sets off though, she finds that’s the least of her worries. She receives threatening letters. She’s surrounded by suspicious characters. Vicky no longer knows who to trust. And she may not make it home alive.

This prompt was a little hard for me. I almost went with The Golden Compass, but then I remembered this childhood classic. It’s another that I reread last summer and it’s a highly underrated book from the author of A Wrinkle in Time and A Ring of Endless. It’s got a very strong message about environmental conservation woven into this tale of a girl who gets to go visit Antarctica on an educational trip and inadvertently gets mixed up in political intrigue and dangerous plots.

THE BOONIES | A BOOK WITH ROUGH OR ISOLATED TERRAIN

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
Pages: Paperback, 380 pages
Published: May 2004 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Genres: Young Adult / Speculative 
Goodreads | Amazon

With undertones of vampires, Frankenstein, dragons’ hoards, and killing fields, Matt’s story turns out to be an inspiring tale of friendship, survival, hope, and transcendence. A must-read for teenage fantasy fans.

At his coming-of-age party, Matteo Alacrán asks El Patrón’s bodyguard, “How old am I?…I know I don’t have a birthday like humans, but I was born.”

“You were harvested,” Tam Lin reminds him. “You were grown in that poor cow for nine months and then you were cut out of her.”

To most people around him, Matt is not a boy, but a beast. A room full of chicken litter with roaches for friends and old chicken bones for toys is considered good enough for him. But for El Patrón, lord of a country called Opium—a strip of poppy fields lying between the U.S. and what was once called Mexico—Matt is a guarantee of eternal life. El Patrón loves Matt as he loves himself for Matt is himself. They share identical DNA.

Another really dark read for children, The House of the Scorpion becomes an thrilling adventure story about halfway through the book. The protagonist is treated horribly and unlike the characters of Never Let Me Go, does eventually make a run for it. There are dangerous characters to fend off and the terrain he must trek is not much friendlier.

HINTERLANDS AND COWBOYS | A BOOK WITH A WESTERN-ESQUE SETTING

 Holes by Louis Sachar
Pages: Paperback, 233 pages
Published: September 2, 2000 by Scholastic 
Genres: Young Adult / Folk Tales
Goodreads | Amazon

Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment—and redemption.

Stanley Yelnats is under a curse. A curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten- pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnats. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the warden makes the boys “build character” by spending all day, every day, digging holes: five feet wide and five feet deep. It doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize there’s more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment—and redemption.

I’ve not read any westerns beyond one that was a little overrated (highly promoted) a few years ago now. I forget what it was called. Anyway, Holes eventually came to mind. The movie came out the year before I started middle school, so I remember that more clearly than I do the book, but this book involves history of the west where the story’s setting is located. There are a collection of interwoven tales that link the protagonist, antagonists, and Camp Green Lake to the past during the time of trains and robbers.

LOOK LIVELY | A BOOK ACROSS SWEEPING DESERT SANDS

Cress by Marissa Meyer
Pages: Paperback, 550 pages
Published: January 27, 2015 by Square Fish
Genres: Young Adult / Science Fiction / Fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

Cress is the third book in the Lunar Chronicles and probably my favorite. I love Cress best of all and her story is the saddest and loneliest. To travel with her on her adventures once she escapes her prison is so much fun. A lot of this book is set in the desert where she and Captain Thorne crash land on Earth.

WILD AND UNTAMED | A BOOK SET IN THE HEART OF THE WOODS

Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Pages: Paperback, 438 pages
Published:  March 1, 2016 by Del Rey 
Genres: New Adult / Fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

This book feels like its a few different books all cut and pasted together to make one. It’s a really beautiful and pretty fun read that ends up in a place I really didn’t expect it to go. The corrupt Wood is one of the scariest settings/entities that I’ve ever read. I had some nightmares after reading this book, which I’ve never really had happen with a book before.

WILDEST DREAMS | A WHIMSICAL BOOK SHROUDED IN MAGIC

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
Pages: Paperback, 349 pages
Published: July 11, 2017 by Speak
Genres: Young Adult / Fantasy 
Goodreads | Amazon

Sunny Nwazue lives in Nigeria, but she was born in New York City. Her features are West African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a “free agent” with latent magical power. And she has a lot of catching up to do.

Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But just as she’s finding her footing, Sunny and her friends are asked by the magical authorities to help track down a career criminal who knows magic, too. Will their training be enough to help them against a threat whose powers greatly outnumber theirs?

I’ve never read another book that makes me feel the way I did when I first read Harry Potter. That desire to enter the world and experience its magic personally. I know a lot of authors have attempted it, but it’s never really been the same. I love the worldbuilding in Akata Witch so much because it feels so much more real than Harry Potter. It’s set in Africa, which read a lot to me like places from my actual childhood in the more rural hispanic parts of the US. It feels less like of an ivory tower than Hogwarts, more attainable.

I Tag…

Eline | Czai | Charleigh | Olivia | Angelica | Sam

I’ve seen this tag making the rounds, so I don’t remember who all has already done it! I’m just tagging the people I’ve most recently tagged who I think might enjoy it if they haven’t already. Of course, if this sounds like something you’d like to and you haven’t been tagged yet then consider yourself personally tagged by me ^_^

Recent Posts

Well this post took the better part of my Saturday morning and afternoon, with breaks of course! I’m about to call it a day and go start Part 2 of The OA on Netflix! I’ve been anticipating it all month and then I go and forget about it this week as soon as it debuts. Typical.

The last week of March will be dedicated to bullet journal content as I move into my new bullet journal and set it up for April. On that note, some of you may have gotten a sneak preview this week of the post that will go up on Monday! Sorry about that! It was not quite finished, and I forgot to move it after failing to complete it last weekend. There’s a lot more I want to add to it, so that it is as amazing and helpful as possible for newbies to journaling.

Thank you for reading!
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How to Avoid Blogger Burnout + New Blog Schedule

Welcome, one and all, to The Inky Saga! Today I wanted to talk about a topic very close to my heart: blogger burnout. If you’ve been around for a while, you probably already know I have never been the consistent of bloggers. I’ll either be all about the blog for a few weeks or a couple months maximum, then something will derail me and I’ll take a long, often unannounced break. I’ve never worried much about it in the past, because I’ve never taken blogging seriously until recently.

I’ve been doing a lot over the past month to build my blog into something that may ultimately become profitable, and I know from all my research that’s not something that will happen overnight. Consistency and perseverance is essential. So if I go all out and exhaust myself in the first month of this project, then I’m not going to get where I want to go in the long run.

I’ve been really mindful of how much time I’ve put into my most recent blog posts, including the time spent planning them, writing them, making graphics for them, and promoting them via Pinterest and Twitter. It’s honestly been a lot of time for just 3-4 posts per week. On Friday I estimated that during spring break about 40% of my waking hours was spent creating the blog posts in the screenshot below.

Recent Posts: April BuJo Theme IdeasLeslie Knope & 10 Books on Her TBR | My Favorite … Feminist T.V. Character5 Things I Did to Grow My Pinterest Blog Traffic

So with all that in mind, I decided last Friday that I needed to come up with a better system. I go back to work this week, which means about 25 less hours that I’ll have to fiddle around with blog stuff. That doesn’t even count time that I will put towards Red Cross volunteering, applying for jobs again, or building up a writing portfolio for a freelancing business I want to start!

Out of everything I have going on, blogging feels like the most selfish at the moment. But it’s also the activity I’m hoping will yield the best returns over time.

I do not think my blogging struggles are unique to other bloggers out there, particularly fellow adults with more significant life commitments. We can all benefit from learning how to make the best use of our time and not let ourselves become overworked at something we love to do. The following are my tips for avoiding blogger burnout, plus the blog schedule I’ll be following for the time being.

1. Be a more efficient blogger.

Being more efficient means getting better work done in a shorter amount of time. It doesn’t mean cutting corners or being lazy. It means that you make the most of your time. If you’re making the most of your time, it means you are saving time and energy in the long run.

The first step in becoming more efficient is estimating how much time you need for blogging. It may be easiest to record the time you already use to blog in a notebook or Excel spreadsheet. Write down the Date, Activity (e.g. outlining a post, drafting a post, making graphics, promoting), Start Time, End Time, and then add it all up. You’ll know how much time you spend on average working on your blog posts, and then you’ll be able to decide how well that time fits into your life.

After you’ve done those activities, you can start thinking about what you might’ve done differently to work faster and/or smarter. For example, I’ve learned that if I’m doing a tag or meme, I can work faster and smarter by entering the newer WordPress editor (not the block editor), going to the More Options tab, and copying a similar post to Overwrite.

I’ve also realized that bookish posts are harder to promote on Pinterest, so I don’t waste valuable time creating vertical pin images for them (or blog tags for that matter) unless they’ve got a gimmick to them that I figure will attract readers, like my Leslie Knope & 10 Books on Her TBR post.

I also save time on Instagram by keeping the hashtags I use for bullet journal and bookish content saved in my iPhone Notes folder so that I don’t have to type them out each time and risk forgetting any important ones that help users find my content.

If you know that your making the best use of your time, it will be harder to slip into negative feelings that your blog efforts don’t matter or are not worth it. Anyone can be overworked and exhausted by what they do, but it’s self-doubt that will cause blogger burnout to sink in.

2. Make the blog posts you want to read.

I think most people blog first and foremost for themselves, not to become super popular or rich. Those who have ulterior motives are often easy to sniff out and won’t make it, because it’s easy to tell who is authentic and who is not. If you want your blog to have readers, authenticity should be your highest priority. It takes less mental energy being your authentic self and also produces the best results.

The easiest way I can think of for being authentic is by producing posts that feel the most natural to make. They are the posts that you yourself would want to read. It’s easier to blog with an audience of you in mind, because it’s more fulfilling that way. You feel like your efforts are not in vein when you blog for someone, even if they’re imaginary. It’s also the best way to attract the followers that you want; your ideal audience.

3. Don’t stretch yourself thin.

It’s hard to know when you’re overdoing it until it’s too late. When you’re doing something you love, it doesn’t always feel like work. It’s work that you feel is worth doing, at least until life gets in the way. When something unexpected happens or other life priorities demand more of your time, it’s a mistake to try and keep your regular blog pace. It’ll just make you resent your blog or the other big parts of your life.

A way that you can avoid stretching yourself too thin is by periodically doing an audit of everything you do for your blog. Then decide how much time you can dedicate to blogging and when you can reasonably squeeze it into your life without letting any other parts of your life suffer. Make sure you leave time for self-care (e.g. hot baths, dog walks, exercise), other activities (e.g. bujo, reading, chores), and the unexpected (e.g. family emergencies, power outages, interviews).

Blogging shouldn’t take up your whole life. You need to have wiggle room; time that you can binge-watch that new Netflix show or have that impromptu brunch date with your friend that you don’t get to see very often. If you’re someone who has trouble reigning in the blogger enthusiasm, you may consider implementing a blog schedule.

Blog Schedule

I did the math, and I decided if I don’t want to spend more than 20% of my waking hours working on blog posts each week, then I should only be dedicating 25 hours maximum to drafting, polishing, promoting blog posts. Right now I’ve been blogging whenever I feel like it, but with more things that I need to start doing, I decided to become more regimented with when I do blog work so I know I’m making the best use of my time.

I’ve decided that I want to post no more than 3-4 posts each week, ideally closer to three. I want to write two evergreen posts each week, meaning posts with content that stays “fresh.” These posts are relevant throughout the years, rarely needing updating. For example, this post might qualify as evergreen because people might be searching for advice on how to avoid blogger burnout at any time during the year.

I also want to have at least one personal/fun/miscellaneous post each week in which I can engage with the communities I consider myself a part of. These may be bookish memes or blog tags. They may also just be blog/life updates or event announcements. I used to really enjoy writing weekly updates in my Week in Review format; maybe I’ll find a way to bring those back without taking time away from other posts.

While I don’t want to commit to an actual publishing schedule, I do feel like I need to set up a blog work schedule so that I have other days open for miscellaneous projects. I may need to adjust this schedule a little to accommodate unforeseen problems, but I think I’m off to a good start.

MondayFriday: Promote & blog hop daily
Saturday: Write 2-3 of next week’s blog posts
Sunday: Create horizontal & vertical blog post graphics

During the week I’ll also likely choose a day where I will allow myself to start working on future blog posts, whether that just be planning and scheduling them or actually beginning to draft them. It would be great to get a little ahead of schedule if only for those weekends that I want to do nothing.

I hope you found this post helpful and informative! I plan to write more about how I plan blog content and my blog post workflow in the future, but I felt like this topic was a good place to start my blogging series. It also gave me a great opportunity to explain why I decided to give myself a blog schedule! I feel like it might take a few weeks to get in the routine, but it will save me a lot of time in the long run.

Thank you for reading!
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Books on My Spring TBR | Top Ten Tuesday

The first official day of spring is tomorrow, March 20, 2019. In honor of the change of the season, I’m sharing the top ten books on my spring TBR! Spring is generally my least favorite of the seasons, but I am excited for it if it means a little more sunlight than we’ve currently been getting where I live. It’s so hard to take nice blog pics without natural sunlight!

In case you’re not familiar with Top Ten Tuesday, it is a weekly meme originally created by The Broke and the Bookish. Now it is run by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl who each week provides a bookish prompt and book bloggers share their top ten picks. These prompts are listed well in advance, so it’s easy to look ahead and decide which you think you can do. The themes don’t always work for me, so I’m happy when there’s one that fits in my schedule that I actually like!

Before I jump into the books on my spring TBR, I did have some notes I wanted to share about it. First, a lot of the books are ones that have carried over from my fall TBR. Reading has not been a huge priority, but I still want to read everything I wanted to read six months ago. Second, I’ll be moving in the next couple of months! So there’s a little more urgency to read the books on this list, if only so I can bare being separated from them for a time if need be.

I’m not exactly sure if I’ll be able to follow the books where they’re going. But more on that later!

If you find any of the books listed below fascinating I’ve included links to them on both Goodreads and Amazon. Just so you know, I am now an Amazon affiliate. If you do end up making a qualifying purchase through my one of my links I may make a small commission at no extra expense to you. ^_^

1 King of Scars

 King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
Pages: Hardcover, 514 pages
Published: January 29, 2019 by Imprint
Genres: New Adult / Fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

Face your demons…or feed them. The dashing young king, Nikolai Lantsov, has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war―and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, Nikolai must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha general, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried―and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

I pre-ordered King of Scars about 10 months before it was due to come out, received it on release day in January, and have still yet to read it! A part of me is apprehensive it might disappoint. Another part of me is saying the longer I put it off, the less time I’ll have to wait for the next one. Regardless, I do expect to read this book soon. Maybe before any of the others on this list…But I’m not in the biggest mood for fantasy right now.

2 Akata Warrior

Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor
Pages: Paperback, 512 pages
Published: October 16, 2018 by Speak
Genres: Young Adult / Fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

A year ago, Sunny Nwazue, an American-born girl Nigerian girl, was inducted into the secret Leopard Society. As she began to develop her magical powers, Sunny learned that she had been chosen to lead a dangerous mission to avert an apocalypse, brought about by the terrifying masquerade, Ekwensu. Now, stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny is studying with her mentor Sugar Cream and struggling to unlock the secrets in her strange Nsibidi book.

Eventually, Sunny knows she must confront her destiny. With the support of her Leopard Society friends, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha, and of her spirit face, Anyanwu, she will travel through worlds both visible and invisible to the mysteries town of Osisi, where she will fight a climactic battle to save humanity.

Much-honored Nnedi Okorafor, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards, merges today’s Nigeria with a unique world she creates. Akata Warrior blends mythology, fantasy, history and magic into a compelling tale that will keep readers spellbound.

 

Akata Witch was one of my most delightful discoveries last year and I ordered the sequel immediately afterward. Now nearly a year has gone by and I haven’t read it. Well, I haven’t lost interest! It’s just a matter of making the time for it…

3 The Promise

The Promise by Chaim Potok
Pages: Paperback, 368 pages
Published: October 3, 2011 by Anchor Books
Genres: Literary Fiction
Goodreads | Amazon

In a passionate, energetic narrative, The Promise brilliantly dramatizes what it is to master and use knowledge to make one’s own way in the world.

Reuven Malter lives in Brooklyn, he’s in love, and he’s studying to be a rabbi. He also keeps challenging the strict interpretations of his teachers, and if he keeps it up, his dream of becoming a rabbi may die.

One day, worried about a disturbed, unhappy boy named Michael, Reuven takes him sailing and cloud-watching. Reuven also introduces him to an old friend, Danny Saunders—now a psychologist with a growing reputation. Reconnected by their shared concern for Michael, Reuven and Danny each learns what it is to take on life—whether sacred truths or a troubled child—according to his own lights, not just established authority.

Every so often I’m in the mood for more adult literary fiction, and I’ve just been saving this one for such an occasion. I took this book on my spring break trip but didn’t manage to finish the book I had already started (Disrupt You by Jay Samit) so that I could move onto this one. It may be the next one I pick up, because I’m in a serious reading mood at the moment.

4 Strange the Dreamer

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Pages: Paperback, 544 pages
Published: March 28, 2017 by Hodder & Stoughton
Genres: Young Adult / Fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

From National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor comes an epic fantasy about a mythic lost city and its dark past.
 
The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around–and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old, he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the form of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? And who is the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams?
In this sweeping and breathtaking novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.
The answers await in Weep.

Strange the Dreamer has been on almost every TBR I’ve made since I purchased it last summer. I’ve got nothing to say. I want to read it and see what all the fuss is about! I’ve also been waiting to be in an undeniable fantasy sort of mood.

5 The Blind Assassin

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
Pages: Paperback, 521 pages
Published: August 28, 2001 by Anchor
Genres: Literary Fiction
Goodreads | Amazon

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Handmaid’s Tale

WINNER OF THE BOOKER PRIZE

In The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood weaves together strands of gothic suspense, romance, and science fiction into one utterly spellbinding narrative. The novel begins with the mysterious death—a possible suicide—of a young woman named Laura Chase in 1945. Decades later, Laura’s sister Iris recounts her memories of their childhood, and of the dramatic deaths that have punctuated their wealthy, eccentric family’s history. Intertwined with Iris’s account are chapters from the scandalous novel that made Laura famous, in which two illicit lovers amuse each other by spinning a tale of a blind killer on a distant planet. These richly layered stories-within-stories gradually illuminate the secrets that have long haunted the Chase family, coming together in a brilliant and astonishing final twist.

This was a somewhat random book purchase I made when I was first getting into book blogging in 2015. It wasn’t a popular book back then, but I felt like I needed some literary fiction and I had never read anything by Margaret Atwood. Still haven’t! Since it’s Women’s History Month, I’m kind of hoping I can get to this book in March, but there’s so many books…

6 Persuasion

Persuasion by Jane Austen
Pages: Paperback, 325 pages
Published: April 29, 2003 by Penguin Classics
Genres: Classic / English literature
Goodreads | Amazon

Jane Austen’s last completed novel, marrying witty social realism to a Cinderella love story

At twenty-­seven, Anne Elliot is no longer young and has few romantic prospects. Eight years earlier, she had been persuaded by her friend Lady Russell to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, a handsome naval captain with neither fortune nor rank. What happens when they encounter each other again is movingly told in Jane Austen’s last completed novel. Set in the fashionable societies of Lyme Regis and Bath, Persuasion is a brilliant satire of vanity and pretension, but, above all, it is a love story tinged with the heartache of missed opportunities.

 

Most all of my Jane Austen books are in a thick leather-bound anthology I bought at Barnes & Noble as a teenager. I read one every couple of years or so, and have been eager to start Persuasion for the longest time. I had a Chinese friend in high school that raved about this book, and I think of her every time I see this book. I feel like it’s a great time to read more from this tome before it’s packed away.

7 Obsidio

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Pages: Hardcover, 628 pages
Published: March 13, 2018 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genres: Young Adult / Science Fiction
Goodreads | Amazon

From bestselling author duo Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff comes the exciting finale in the trilogy that broke the mold and has been called “stylistically mesmerizing” and “out-of-this-world-awesome.”

Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza–but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion? Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys–an old flame from Asha’s past–reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heros will fall, and hearts will be broken.

This is another of those books I pre-ordered and then just never got around to when they were finally released. I feel like I would like to reread the first two books in the Illuminae Files trilogy before I read the finale, just to heighten the experience as I don’t know when I ever might reread these books truthfully.

8 Kingdom of Ash

 Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas
Pages: Hardcover, 984 pages
Published: October 23, 2018 by Bloomsbury YA
Genres: New Adult / Fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

Years in the making, Sarah J. Maas’s #1 New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series draws to an epic, unforgettable conclusion. Aelin Galathynius’s journey from slave to king’s assassin to the queen of a once-great kingdom reaches its heart-rending finale as war erupts across her world. . .

Aelin has risked everything to save her people-but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation-and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen-before she is lost to him forever.

As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.

This book is only a priority because I’m tired of DNF-ing books with the plan of returning to them again. I’m reading this book on my iPhone as an eBook, so it’s one I could literally pick up whenever, but it’s so hard to get back into this world and story with all the characters and perspectives. I feel like I’ll just need to binge it one day and hope everything from past books comes back to me.

9 Status Update

Status Update by Alice E. Marwick
Pages: Paperback, 368 pages
Published: January 13th 2015 by Yale University Press
Genres: Non-Fiction / Academic Research

Goodreads | Amazon

Social media technologies such as YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook promised a new participatory online culture. Yet, technology insider Alice Marwick contends in this insightful book, “Web 2.0” only encouraged a preoccupation with status and attention. Her original research—which includes conversations with entrepreneurs, Internet celebrities, and Silicon Valley journalists—explores the culture and ideology of San Francisco’s tech community in the period between the dot com boom and the App store, when the city was the world’s center of social media development.
Marwick argues that early revolutionary goals have failed to materialize: while many continue to view social media as democratic, these technologies instead turn users into marketers and self-promoters, and leave technology companies poised to violate privacy and to prioritize profits over participation. Marwick analyzes status-building techniques—such as self-branding, micro-celebrity, and life-streaming—to show that Web 2.0 did not provide a cultural revolution, but only furthered inequality and reinforced traditional social stratification, demarcated by race, class, and gender.

I aim to read non-fiction every so often, and this book is one that I feel is a good one to read right now. I’m using social media more than ever for my blog and I want to see what can be learned from Marwick’s research.

10 Yes Please

 Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Pages: Paperback, 329 pages
Published: October 2015 by Dey Street Books
Genres: Non-Fiction / Biography / Humor
Goodreads | Amazon

Do you want to get to know the woman we first came to love on Comedy Central’s Upright Citizens Brigade? Do you want to spend some time with the lady who made you howl with laughter on Saturday Night Live, and in movies like Baby MamaBlades of Glory, and They Came Together? Do you find yourself daydreaming about hanging out with the actor behind the brilliant Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation? Did you wish you were in the audience at the last two Golden Globes ceremonies, so you could bask in the hilarity of Amy’s one-liners?

If your answer to these questions is “Yes Please!” then you are in luck. In her first book, one of our most beloved funny folk delivers a smart, pointed, and ultimately inspirational read. Full of the comedic skill that makes us all love Amy, Yes Please is a rich and varied collection of stories, lists, poetry (Plastic Surgery Haiku, to be specific), photographs, mantras and advice. With chapters like “Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend,” “Plain Girl Versus the Demon” and “The Robots Will Kill Us All” Yes Please will make you think as much as it will make you laugh. Honest, personal, real, and righteous, Yes Please is full of words to live by.

Once again Yes Please ends one of my book lists. Last week it was a book I recommended for Leslie Knope fans. This week I’m saying I want to read it this spring because I remember loving it and would like to read it before it needs to be packed. I think it will be inspiring at a time when I need it to be right now.

Sorry if this is a boring list! I know a lot of these books have been on TBRs of months past. I think part of the reason I’ve not been so quick to pick them up is I don’t have many more books like them to read. My book purchasing has slowed down in the interest of saving money and with awareness of my uncertain future in mind, I’ve not been eager to add to my book collection. I don’t feel like I have the biggest book collection – especially compared to my bookish peers – but I do anticipate having a lot of trouble moving what I do have.

Thank you for reading!
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Mystery Blogger Award | Blog Tag

This week I was nominated by Siobhan @ Novelties for the Mystery Blogger Award! Since I’ve been working on new kinds of blog content this month, I was delighted to be tagged and have a reason for a more relaxed blog post that would allow new followers to get to know more about me.

On an unrelated note, I decided to start going by my real name again on this blog and my other socials because I want to be able to share stuff I write on here with future employers and don’t want there to be any confusion. Sorry for any confusion I’ve caused for you guys!

What Is the Mystery Blogger Award?

It’s an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion. – Okoto Enigma

The Rules

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog
  2. List the rules
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  6. You have to nominate 10 – 20 people
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  9. Share a link to your best post(s)

Three Facts about Me

  1. Purple used to be my favorite color and now I can’t stand the thought of wearing it. It brings back negative memories of 8th/9th grade.
  2. I used to be able to tan really dark, but now I just freckle permanently if I don’t wear sunscreen. It’s really annoying.
  3. I’m in the currently in process of moving, so life is a little all over the place at the moment! More info about this move to come…

Siobhan’s Questions

1. Which character would you name your child (human, furbrat, or other) after?

By saying these names, I feel like I’m giving them away! But so be it, there’s plenty of names out there. For a daughter, I really love the name Ruth after the character from the film Fried Green Tomatoes (1991). For a son, I like Remus after Remus Lupin from Harry Potter. For dogs I like Gordo (Lizzie Maguire), Randall (This is Us), and Bosley (Bill Murray in Charlie’s Angels).

2. If you could do anything in the world, what would it be?

I would become a business woman with enough capital and connections to make stuff happen.

3. What is your new favorite book or TV show?

New as in discovered within the last year? I’ve recently been thinking about Sharp Objects, which is a mini-series starring Amy Adams that came out last summer. It was amazing. The female characters were so compelling and the music so evocative. I feel like I might start it up again. I can’t think of a new favorite book beyond The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson, which was a satisfying follow-up to Truly Devious.

4. What is the latest accomplishment you’re proud of?

What a lovely question. I’m really pleased about my new position as a Red Cross digital volunteer! I had to interview for it, and it was a win I needed right now to be honest. It’ll be doing work that I’m proud of and that will give me great experience for the kind of thing I want to do professionally.

5. What book are you looking forward to reading?

Right now, I really want to get to King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo! I’ve been trying to finish up Disrupt You by Jay Samit first so I could mark it off my TBR.

Bonus: If you could be transported into any TV show, what would it be?

I would love to be transported into the 1950s New York City of which The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel paints such a rosy picture. (I think I’ve answered this question before and had the same exact answer!)

My Questions

  1. Do you share your blog with people you know in your real life?
  2. What are your ultimate blog goals?
  3. Do you see yourself blogging when you’re 50?
  4. Who is your role model, fictional or otherwise?
  5. What are some books do you think are underrated?
  6. Bonus: You find out the world ends tomorrow; what do you do?

I Nominate…

Sara| Dani | Eline | Larissa | Czai | CharleighSamanthaMarie | Olivia | Angelica

Recent Posts

I hope you enjoy this light post! I’ve been super busy this week between producing the posts I did, planning future content, and working on job-related stuff. I’ve come to the realization that I really need to scale back on the blog stuff at the moment, so I’m probably going to aim for something of a blog schedule (M/W/F) for the next few weeks so that I can get on top of other responsibilities. I’ll try to use Twitter and Instagram for more personal updates, so check those out if you’d like!

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