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"Aster's Good, Right Things" Book Review

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Today I am reviewing a book that is set to be published on November 1st, 2020. I received this for free as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) from Netgalley, but all opinions are my own. 
Aster's Good, Right Things is a book about a girl named Aster who doesn't fit in. Ever since her mother left, she does a good thing every day to make herself feel like a good person, something that others benefit from. If she enjoys doing the good thing, then she feels bad about doing it. 
Overall, I think I rate this book 2 stars. I didn't enjoy reading it. In general, books are sorted into two categories: character-centric or plot-centric. Character-centric stories focus on building the characters, using the plot as a device to move the character forward. Plot-centric does the opposite, using characters to move the plot forward. 
This book was neither. It lacked in plot, but it lacked in character. 
Starting with the plot, this book simply had none. If I am analysing the book correctly, the auth…

The Ultimate Preptober Checklist

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For those of you who don't know, NaNoWriMo is a writing event that happens every November where you try to write 50,000 words of a novel, all in one month! The October before that is called Preptober, because that's the month that you'll be outlining and preparing everything for the hectic and busy month, NaNoWriMo. This blog post is a checklist of things I am going to need going into NaNo. Feel free to grab some of these ideas to make this the best NaNoWriMo ever!Your OutlineIf you need one thing for November, it's going to be your outline. It doesn't matter if it's a 3 paragraph summary of your story or a 30 page scene-by-scene outline. But you need to have some sort of map to guide you, because even 2 days of writer's block is going to get you behind on your goal. Your Story Bible, Character Profiles, Worldbuilding, and Writing Related Notes A collection of all your outlining notes.  Get Ahead on November ProjectsWhen I know I will have a busy week or mon…

Three Simple Steps to Waking Up Happy

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This isn't the type of blog post I usually write, but I hope you will find it useful. The past few weeks have been very stressful for me, and I recently thought of a few things I could to do instantly feel better.1. Change Into Your Favorite ClothesDuring a pandemic, it's easy to put on a comfortable T-shirt and leggings and start working on your computer. You may not be dressing the same, because you think that there is nobody to dress for. After all, you are not going to work, right?
Wrong.
You are dressing for yourself. Do your hair and put on an outfit that you would wear to work. Wear makeup, if that's your thing. The idea is to get yourself into work mode. If you wear pajamas, your brain won't take work seriously.  2. Wake Up EarlierSometimes it feels like you are out of control of your schedule. In fact, I didn't even know that this was the thing bothering me until I tried to solve it. 
Wake up before everyone else in your household. If you live alone, wake up a…

5k Words In 2 Days Challenge

Between the novel I am outlining, the novella I am revising, my blog posts and more, I have a lot of writing I can do, and I am feeling productive. So, today I am blogging my 5,000 words in 2 days challenge. Can I write 2,500 words per day for 2 days, when I normally write 1,000 words per day? We'll see!
You can also go to the bottom of the post to see the recap. 
THURSDAY, 3:51pm
I am trying to write 5,000 words in 2 days, between today and Saturday. My goal for today is 2,500 words. So far, I have gotten 809 words on a blog post. I am going to write for 1 hour, before coming back to update you on my progress.  THURSDAY, 5:32pm After writing for 1 hour (in 20 minute periods) I wrote 1026 words on my novella and finished my second draft! The first draft was more of a fast draft, in the sense that it was only 7,000 words. The second draft turned out to be 14k. I rewrote about 50% of the novella in the second draft, editing the rest. I think that as this novella gets revised, it will …

The Ultimate Guide To Blogging

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Today I am blogging about how to blog. How do you start? How do you maintain a blog? What are my tips for blogging? How do you market a blog? Everything. Now, let's get started!
Starting OutChoose Your Niche. This step is simple. If you want to be a blogger, you probably have something in mind to blog about. A big mistake I made was blogging about all sorts of things. I wrote about publishing, I wrote recipes, all sorts of things. Pick one thing and narrow down your idea. 
If you don't know what to blog about, just think about your skills, passion, and what you like to do. If you love painting, start an art blog. Just make sure that your niche is something not too big, and not too small. You want to make tens and hundreds of blog posts centered around the same thing, so choose wisely.  
Find a Blogging Platform. There are many popular platforms, such as blogger, wix, and wordpress. I have my blog on blogger, so I will be demonstrating with that. You can all of my blogger tips i…

A Guide to Outlining: Outlining Discussion

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In this blog post I am answering various questions on outlining. Some of these are questions you have asked, and some are general questions that might help you outline your project. I hope this conclusion to this blog series helps you!  Can I outline with two protagonists, and two points of view? Lucky Foster (she has a blog, go check out Lucky Reviews!) asked if you can outline with two protagonists. When you are outlining, outline in third person. When you are drafting you can add the character's thoughts in first person. Just make sure it follows the story structure you want to use! Unfortunately, the book Save the Cat Writes a Novel is more geared towards one point of view, but you can definitely change it so it can work for you!  Should I outline in a chronological order?Mostafa asks, "Many stories have a nonlinear narrative, with a lot of flashbacks and fast back-and-forth movements in time. When you write your outline, do you write the events in a chronological order or …

Breathtaking Book Review

"Breathtaking" is the debut novel of Courtney Turcotte Bond which is set to be published on September1st. I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) from Netgalley.com. I have many thoughts on this, so let's jump right in!
Breathtaking is about Cara's life, from when she is 7 years old all the way through college. She is navigating her way through many struggles: her alcoholic father, her neglectful and stressed mother, and her complicated relationship with her best friend, Adam. Things are going from okay, to worse. Okay, to worse. Until a terrible incident leaves Cara petrified.
Characters Here is a spoiler-free breakdown of three main characters in the book, and what I thought of them.  Cara 5/5 Our protagonist, Cara, certainly goes through many extreme events in her life, but stays a good person. After people broke her, she was able to get back together again. 
The story is told in a believable way, not a cheesy or "happy ending" sort of way, whi…

How To Work With Beta Readers

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In today's post, I will be talking about beta readers. (I wanted to give you guys a break from the outlining series, we will be back on track next week.) Beta readers are people who read the first draft of your book, who give you some insight and feedback on what needs change and what is good.

Who are your beta readers? This all depends on you. It depends on what you want from them. If you want more writing things, such as arcs and structure, then ask a writer to read your book. If you want to see how a reader will consume your story, pick a non-writing friend. I personally like to choose a reader, and I will ask for writers to read my story after my second or third draft. 
Pick 1-2 readers. You will have various readers for each draft/stage for of your story. Only pick 1 or 2 for each round so that you have enough to work with, but not too many.
Prepare. Other than printing or sending the document, there are many things to be done. When you are looking for readers you will want to …

How to Outline: Characters

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You have outlined, but now you need to figure out your characters. Most likely they are a bit stiff, and you don't know them as well as you want to. Today we are going to talk about how to make character profiles, and other ways to get to know your characters better.
Pinterest Boards  One thing you are going to need to do is find out exactly how your character looks. By this I mean: find a model or actor on Pinterest who looks like your character! This is just so you can describe them better. (freckles, face type, etc) 
You don't want to keep them on the board for too long. Every so often, you should change the person "acting" for your character. If the vision of your character is SO engrained and associated with one image, it can be hard to make changes to your character as needed.
You can also make boards for your settings and anything else that comes to mind for your book. 
Looking at these boards can make you feel more inspired when you have writer's block. …

How To Outline: Part Two: Save the Cat Writes a Novel Beat Sheet

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Today's post is the second in my blog series about outlining. If you want to know about the basics, make sure to go back and read last week's post. Today I will inform you on popular outlining methods. Make sure to take notes when you find something interesting, because it may inspire your own outlining process.
Save the Cat Writes a Novel Beat Sheet If you are an author, most likely you have heard of the how-to novel, Save The Cat. This fantastic book covers a very famous "beat sheet" that divides your story into parts, more complex than a climax, resolution, etc. You can divide your outline into 15 beats, and go from there. 
"Beats" have to do with the form and structure of your story. It starts with the opening image, then Theme Stated, Setup, and so on. Later we find the beats named "Fun and Games," "Dark Night of Soul" and "Finale." Many published novels follow this setup. 
A specific example of one of the beats is the &q…

A Guide To Outlining: Part One: Why Outline? + More

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In the author writing community, there is a lot of talk about plotting, outlining, etc. What there is not much talk about is the actual outlining part. I used to be a discovery writer (who writes without plotting) and I desperately wanted to learn how to outline.

There are many different outlining methods, but today, we will be talking about the basics of outlining. What is it, and why should you do it? What purpose does it serve?
Why Outline?  Many people are discovery writers, meaning that they write with ideas in their head, rather than ideas written down. These people usually have a more vague idea of where their story is going. This is not a bad thing, but there are disadvantages that come with it.  
Outlining will help eliminate writer's block. If you constantly find yourself stuck, not knowing where your book is heading, outlining may be for you.

Another reason to outline is that you will have a good sense of story structure, flow, and pacing. We will get into how to apply …

Revision Basics

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Today I am coming at you with the a blog post on how to tackle revision. It seems intimidating, but it can actually be a very enjoyable part of the process.

I cannot stress enough how important this first step is. Leave your manuscript for 1-3 months. Some people say a week, some people say a year, but 1-3 months is enough time to come back to your manuscript and look at it from a reader's perspective, rather than a writer's. The biggest thing you might notice might be pacing, or white room syndrome. You may have had everything shaped in your head, but you had forgotten to inform the readers about these details. 
During the time that you have set aside your novel, send it to your beta readers. Your beta readers are people who read your book, and give you notes. Try to get at least 1-4 people. These can be writers, or just people who are willing to read your book. You can use their notes as part of your revision process. One of the things I like to do when I send a book to a r…

All About Pacing When Writing Your Novel

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Pacing is one of the things I used to struggle with in my writing on a day to day basis. How do you know if you are boring your readers, or if you aren't explaining enough. To complicate things more, pacing is also evaluated by building enough tension, too much tension, or too little.

A common myth is that your word count determines pacing. This is not always true but not always wrong. People tend to judge a book that has too many words for its genre slow-paced, and too little words fast-paced. But you need to know how deep your story will go, how different your world and characters are from the real world, and what you are trying to tell. A fantasy novel may be longer due to the complex characters and settings. Once you know these types of genre norms and the simplicity/complexity of your novel, set a word count goal. 
Another myth is that you must go in an evenly paced fashion. This is not always the case. Let's say that an important test is given on one day, and the answers…

How To Make A Writing Schedule and Stick to It

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1. Determine how much time you have, and when you want to write. Many writers do not write for their full-time job, and find themselves working in the evenings or early mornings. Find out what works best for you. Try reflecting on past habits to see what works for you.
2. Set a daily goal. There are two ways you can do this. The first way is toset a word count goal.  Setting a word count goal is for people with flexible schedules, because you may find yourself working more some days than others. How you choose this is up to you. How much time do you have? When do you hope to finish the project?  Another method is to set a timed goal.This means that you are set on writing 1 hour per day, for example. My writing quality is better, because with word goals I have to write a certain number even if I have no more ideas, which leads to stretched out scenes. But sometimes, setting a word goal will help you get more done. 
3. Some people do writing sprints, while others write for hours on end w…

Publishing: 5 Independent Publishers for your Children's, Middle Grade, or YA Manuscript

What are Independent publishers? These are publishers that accept submission directly from you, rather than an agent. Some of them ask for reading fees or deposits for cover design and things like that. I accumulated this list of publishers for the novel I am currently writing. I hope this will help you!

One last thing before I give you the list: How do you know if this method of publishing is good for you? I think this is good for somebody who wants their book to be known and sold but doesn't have time and patience to get a literary agent, or to self publish. 
1.https://www.skyhorsepublishing.com/sky-pony-press/ Sky Pony Publishing is an imprint of Sky Horse Publishing, which publishes Children's Books, Middle Grade and YA. They love, "Original Concepts, Fresh Voices, and Writing That Knocks Us Off Our Feet." Check out their submission guidelines and look at some of their books to get a sense of what they like.  2. https://www.levinequerido.com/ Levine Querido was a…

8 Ways To Use A Journal Or Notebook

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1. Nature Journal A Nature Journal is a place to help you record your findings in nature. It should include the time and day, a picture of what you saw, and a description. The description should include any theories you may have about it.   2. Planning Journal For the past few months, I have been writing my daily to-do list-(Shopping, Sending Emails, etc.) on loose pieces of paper which resulted in a big mess on my bedroom floor. I decided to write it all in a notebook. Planning your day is a great way to stay productive. (You can also incorporate this into your bullet journal.)  3. Diary  Diaries are a great way to write down all of your thoughts, whether you write once a day or once a week. One of my tips on writing a diary is to only write your good thoughts because when you look back, you will enjoy it more instead of ruminating on negative thoughts. What do you write in your diary? Of course, it changes between each person, but this is generally what my diary is made up of:

30% W…

What Is An Author's Notebook? Should You Use One?

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I use an author notebook (inspired by Kate Cavenaugh) and I thought it would be nice to share my version of it. An author notebook is some sort of writing notebook that I use. Now, I don't use this to actually write a story, but I use it to plan. I use this journal for outlining my story, writing goals, and things like that. Sometimes if I am very stuck in my writing process, I will write a chapter or even a few paragraphs of my novel in this notebook. One of my recent entries was my quarantine writing schedule. I also sometimes watch masterclasses and take notes when I am watching a writing course.

Should you use a writing notebook? I think you definitely should. It can be very beneficial if you are doing many writing projects or if you are writing one big book series.

Here are some things you can write in the journal:

1. List of Agents You Want to Query
2. Nanowrimo (I will get into what that is on a separate post)

What you learned from NaNoWriMoStory Prep for PreptoberGoals 3. …

How To Budget Your Money For Books

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This is a very random post, but I spend too much money on books all the time, and I thought other people might as well. This post is about how to manage the amount of money you spend buying books.

Method One: Have A Monthly Limit
Having a monthly limit of how many books you will buy or how much you will spend is a great way to regulate yourself. I recommend setting a money limit rather thank a book limit because the cost of books varies. When I tried this method, I took 25 dollars per month on books, and that really helped me regulate. Another time I did 3 paperbacks per month, and that ended up totaling to more than I hoped to spend because I had picked some expensive ones. 
Method Two: Buy Box Sets For Series
If you are reading a series and there is a box set available, I highly recommend that that is the one you buy. With box sets, you often save about 3 dollars per book, (Which can add up), and they also make a great addition to your library!
Method 3: Only Buy Books You Want
Now, t…

Babysitting Tips and Tricks For Different Age Groups

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Last week I posted an article about how to start your babysitting business, and now it is time to start babysitting!
Preparing For The Shift  For age groups after 1-3, consider making a "fun bag" or a babysitting bag. The bag can include card games, board games, and other things the kid might enjoy. When you go there, ask them what they might want you to bring next time. Do not bring too many things, because of the majority of things you play with should be kid's items.

Bring your babysitting form and your babysitting log for reference.
Age Groups 1-3 The first day: The first shift you have for babysitting may be a bit rough for the child, especially because a lot of younger kids tend to be shy. I think the best way to approach this is to start doing the things the baby likes, such as playing with building blocks. 
What to do during the shift: This goes for all age groups. Do not just sit there and make sure the baby does not get in trouble. Make an effort to play with t…

How To Start A Babysitting Business

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I have had a babysitting business for about a month now, and I babysit from time to time and make close to 75 dollars a month. This is a great way to spend an hour every night, or even as a full-time job.
Decide The Basics  There are some basic things you need to think about before you launch your business.  Ask yourself the age group you are going to babysit. Normally, it depends on your experience level. For example, if you take care of your sister who is 3 years old, you might consider starting with the age group of 3-5. Think about how much you want to charge for each kid. This again depends on your experience level. For example, if you have no babysitting experience, you may consider charging 5-10 dollars for the age group of 3-5.When are you available? One hour a day? 5 hours a week? Make this clear to yourself.  Think Of A Potential Client You Already Know (Optional) If you have a neighbor with two kids or a friend who might ask you to babysit her sister, keep it as one of your …

How To Make Mongolian Beef

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Last night I made Mongolian beef with my family, and I wanted to share the simple recipe with you as well. It is very simple, but you will need to dedicate about 1 hour of time to make this dish. Ingredients For this dish you will need: 1 1/2 pounds of shaved beef1/2 cup corn starch1 cup of soy sauce2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil2 chopped green onions 1 cup brown sugar 4 cloves of garlic Instructions  Lightly coat the meat with a layer of corn starch.Cook the meat in 3 different batches in a skillet until browned.Stir oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, and garlic in a skillet. Cook over medium for 20 minutes, until the sauce starts to shrink.Pour the beef into the sauce and mix for a minute. Set aside and boil ramen noodles. Mix this together and top with green onions. You are ready to serve your dish! 

7 Things To Do During Quarantine

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Here are 10 fun and productive things to do while in Quarantine

1. Take A Class On Skillshare  Whether you want to bump up your writing skills or become a painter, skillshare is a great online platform for learning. You can get a premium membership for 2 months free, or get basic, which still has access to many professional classes.  2. Make Ice Cream Making ice cream can be quite simple, even if you do not have an ice cream machine. All you need is some vanilla, milk, sugar, salt, and ice. Simply put the vanilla, milk, and sugar into a small ziplock bag. Then, in a bigger bag, fill halfway with ice and put a bit of salt on the ice. Then put the small bag into the bigger one and shake for 5 minutes. There you have it- delicious ice cream! 3. Take A Walk or Bike Even though you have to stay 2 or more meters away from others, you can still take walks or bike outside. In my opinion, fresh air is one of the best things you can give yourself. I always take a walk in the morning and I bike …

How To Publish A Fiction Novel

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You have written your fiction novel. Now what? You publish. Unfortunately, that isn't as easy as it looks. By the time you finish reading this post, you will have a clear understanding of the publishing industry.
You want to get your book out there and into the hands of willing readers. There are two main ways to publish your book: traditional publishing and self-publishing.

Traditional Publishing

With traditional publishing, you want to get a book deal with a publishing house. A few of the most popular publishers are HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster, and Penguin Random House. 

To get a book deal, most publishers require an agent to reach out to them. Thanks to this website and other sites you can easily find agents to submit your manuscript to. If they accept, they will submit your queries, proposals, and manuscript to all the publishers they can find. If you get a book deal, the agent gets 15-20% of the profit. 
What are Queries and Proposals?Queries are a one-page letter that you s…