WIPPet Wednesday: My novel is FINISHED!!

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Happy Hump Day everyone!

YES! You heard me right! I’m finally done my novel!

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And it’s a weird feeling to be done, you know? My novel has been such a big part of my life for the past few months. I was either writing about my characters or thinking about about them every single day. And it’s kind of weird to… not be thinking about them. It’s like having friends who have moved to far away places.

The reassuring factor is that I’m not done done with this novel. Right now, I am working on cutting down on the length: The final word count is 147617, which is astronomical for the contemporary romance novel that it is… and I want to be kind to my beta-readers. But guys, is it me, or is it super hard to take out scenes??

Also, this is the 4th draft that I have finished, but I know for a certainty that there will be a 5th, and maybe a 7th… and maybe a 96th. So I am in it for the long haul :’)

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In today’s snippet, Olivia and Matt are having a studying session at Matt’s place. It is close to dinner time and Olivia is getting hungry:

“Oh, is that what it’s about, Matt?” Olivia says.

“No.”

“It is so what it’s about. You’re offended because I didn’t eat your sandwich.”

He has to admit, that touched a nerve.

“Maybe.” He says.

“Sorry.”

“You have to say, ‘I sincerely promise’…” He begins, then pauses, waiting for her to repeat.

“I sincerely promise.”

“That I will eat all the sandwiches…”

“That I will eat all the sandwiches.”

“That Matt will ever make…”

“That Matt will ever make.”

“And never be on a diet again.” He finishes.

“And never be on a diet again?” She says.

“Yes.” He says, nodding at her.

She hesitates for a moment, as if having a debate in her head.

“Okay,” She says. “And never be on a diet again.”

WIPpet Math: 126 words, first digit 1, second digit 8 (by adding 2 + 6) to make the 18th of October

WIPpet Wednesdays is a blog hop where writers can share a snippet from their WIP. The only stipulation is that the excerpt is somehow related to the date. Be sure to check out some of the other lovely WIPpet snippets here. Thank you Emily Wrayburn for hosting.

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How do you feel when you finish a novel or a long-term project? Do you also find it hard to cut out scenes from your novel? How many drafts do you usually write before a story is finally done? Doesn’t it suck to be on a diet?

 

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5 Reasons to Read the Oldies

Hello everyone!

One thing that I noticed in the blogging community is that we post so much about ARCs or new releases. I myself tend to post reviews of newer books rather than older ones, because I anticipate that they will be more popular and have better stats. And, well, there’s just something exciting about reading a book that is hot off the press.

Then I thought about it: Why is there this preference for newer books? Are older books any less interesting, less relevant, or less good compared to newer ones? Why would publication date affect the quality of the fiction?

Today I want to give credit to the oldies, whether they are 5 years old or 50 years old. Here are some of the reasons why we should still read them:

1. Oldies stand the test of time.

With so many books published nowadays, books become popular and are then forgotten. If 5, 15, or 57 years later, people are still talking about a book (like Harry Potter, or Gone Girl, or Quiet: The Power of Introverts, or To Kill a Mockingbird), then you know it is good.

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2. Oldies are still relevant.

Maybe older books don’t have stunning illustrations. Maybe people communicated by phone call rather than by text. Maybe cell phone apps weren’t a thing. But I believe that there are some themes in literature that are still as relevant today as they were years ago: Like overcoming fears, or pursuing a dream, or finding love.

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3. Oldies teleport us back in time.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like back then, when people still read the newspaper, and there was no social media? The thing is that we can’t physically leap back in time, but reading an older book might give us a glimpse of how life was like back then.

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4. Oldies might make an interesting case study.

Of course, there are some less pleasant aspects of older books: Maybe women were expected to do certain jobs, or stay home and take care of children. Maybe there are characters who are racist, or sexist, or homophobic. Although we might not agree, it might be an interesting glance at how people thought back then.

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5. Oldies are cheaper.

Unless it is an ARC, we likely have to buy new releases at full price. When we are looking for an older book, chances are, we’ll be able to find it at your local library, a used bookstore, or a thrift store.

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Do you like reading older books? Would you ever post (or have you ever posted) a review of an older book? Do you have a favourite Classic? If you could travel back in time and live in an older time period, when would it be?

Blogger Aesthetic Award!! (and an interesting cultural tidbit about China)

Happy Friday the 13th, everyone!

Did you have any bad luck today? Do you believe in Friday the 13th?

This got me thinking about the superstitions around numbers. I grew up with my Chinese family, and we have another whole set of “good” numbers and “bad” numbers. Unlike Friday the 13th which has biblical origins, Chinese superstitions about numbers are based on their phonetic pronunciation.

For example:

4 is a BAAAAD number, because it sounds phonetically like “die”, or “death” in Chinese. Therefore any number that contains the digit 4 is considered bad. 14 = “will die”, 147 = “we’ll die together”, and 14147 = “NO ONE LIVES”.

6 is a good number, because it sounds like “smooth sailing”. You know how 666 is a bad number in Western culture? This is actually a GREAT number in China.

8 is THE BEST NUMBER EVER, because it sounds like “get rich”. You may notice that Chinese people like to get married on, say, August 8, 2018, and that some of your Chinese friends may have 8’s in their emails or car license plate.

Now I’m curious to hear about the superstitions in your culture!

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You may recognize this tag from elsewhere on the blogosphere! After seeing amazing aesthetics by other fellow bloggers (Nyx @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books, Melissa @ The Bookish Wanderer, and Beth @ Reading Every Night), I was inspired to give this a go! (Definitely check out their aesthetics – they are awesome!!)

The Rules:

  1. Collect any number of images that you feel represent you as a person—your personality, aspirations, favorite things, anything at all that makes you you.
  2. Put your chosen images together into a collage of whatever size and shape you find pleasing.
  3. Share your masterpiece with everyone, in all the places.
  4. Maybe nominate other bloggers as a way to tell them, “Hey, you, I think you’re awesome, and we should celebrate that awesomeness.”
  5. Share these rules (and maybe the below tips, if you’re feeling helpful).

Tips:

My aesthetic:

I am a bit nervous about posting this one, because there are a few photos from my personal collection (including a photo of me and a photo of my dog!) I will let you guys guess which one is me 🙂

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Some of my favourite hobbies (other than blogging!) are featured in this aesthetic: Reading, sewing, writing, and pole dancing. I have an adorable (and spoiled) greyhound, Charles, and I am a big fan of positivity and perseverance.

Photo credits go to Pinterest and my iPhone 🙂

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How was your Friday the 13th? Do you believe in superstitions? Are there superstitions that are unique to your culture? What are your favourite hobbies?

If you love making aesthetics, or want to give it a try, you are welcome to do this tag!!

WIPpet Wednesday: How fast can planes fly?

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Happy Wednesday!

A question for all you writers out there: Do you ever get nervous about showing other people your writing?

The reason why I ask is that, now that I am about 99.9% done my novel, my friends and family (aka. my beta-readers) are asking to read it. And that terrifies me.

I mean, on one hand, I want to share with others what I’ve been working on for the past year. I am proud of my novel and I believe that people will enjoy reading it.

On the other hand, my novel is not perfect. Although this is the 4th draft, I know for a fact that there are inconsistencies and spelling/grammar errors abound! Some scenes are unnecessary! Some scenes I don’t even like! There are so many things that I want to go back and tweak! (Which is why I wrote the 2nd and 3rd and 4th draft without showing anyone…)

I swear, this will be a conversation between me and my (future) grandchild:

Grandkid: Gramma, when can I read your story?

Me: Hang on, dear, I will show you once I finish my 96th draft…

No kidding :’)

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Today’s snippet takes place shortly after Matt meets Olivia. Matt’s usual babysitter, Tanya, is away, and Olivia offers to look after his daughter for the evening. Matt and his daughter clean their apartment before she arrives.

Matt arranges the shoes neatly on the shoe rack, while Zelda picks up pencil crayons and plastic bags from the floor. Then, Matt pulls out the vacuum from the cupboard.

“Daddy, why do we gotta clean before Olivia comes?” Zelda asks.

He pauses before inserting the plug into the wall socket. “Well,” He says. “That’s because Olivia is a guest. We want her to feel comfortable at our house, right? When you go to Tiffany’s house, is it clean?”

“Yeah. But Tiffany’s house has a cleaning person who does all the cleaning. Can we have a cleaning person?”

That’s not a surprise. Tiffany’s family lives in a penthouse on Bay Street. Matt and Zelda, on the other hand, lives in a five-story walk-up.

“Maybe one day, Z.”

“Why don’t we clean before Tanya comes?” Zelda asks.

“Well,” he says, stretching out the word. They’ve been used to Tanya coming over to babysit that he’s been slack with the cleaning. “Look, Z, a plane!” He points out the window.

“Oh, really?”

She races over and leans over the windowsill, looking up at the sky. “There’s no plane, Daddy.”

“Oh gee,” Matt says. “I guess it went by too quickly. You know how fast planes can fly?”

“Hmm,” Zelda says. She turns back around, pressing a finger to her lips. “As fast as a car? As fast as a train?”

WIPpet Math: 10 (for October) + 2 (for 2nd Wednesday of the month) = 12 paragraphs

WIPpet Wednesdays is a blog hop where writers can share a snippet from their WIP. The only stipulation is that the excerpt is somehow related to the date. Be sure to check out some of the other lovely WIPpet snippets here. Thank you Emily Wrayburn for hosting.

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Are you nervous about sharing your writing with others? Do you clean before guests arrive?

3 Ways to Fall in Love with Blogging Again

Hello everyone!

For fellow Canadians out there: Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

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I spent my Thanksgiving weekend with friends (on a pumpkin patch), family (eating lots of good food) and my novel (it’s thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis close to being finished).

Although we celebrate Thanksgiving, turkey really isn’t a thing in my family. We are so teeny-tiny (just Mom, Dad, and I) that we would never finish a full turkey if we cooked one. So, we had lobsters :’)

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Today I want to write about something that is personal to me. You guys might not have known it, but I… was kind of in a blogging slump a while back in August. For a month or so, I dreaded the thought of writing a post, and even replying to comments (which is usually my favourite part of blogging) seemed like a chore. 

Now, thankfully, I am out of my blogging slump. Here are some things that helped me 🙂

1. Change up the type of posts you do!

Do you always do the same kind of posts each week? I did. Monday was a discussion post, Wednesday a snippet of my novel, Thursday a quote from a book, and Friday a review. Next week: Repeat. I liked that I never had to think much about what to write. But it also got… kind of boring.

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It’s time to switch it up a bit! Check out some other bloggers’ posts and see if there are interesting tags and memes that you want to try out. Maybe it is time to take part in a Top Ten Tuesday or a Top Five Tuesday! Maybe another blogger’s post inspires you to write your own opinion about a topic (it is always a good idea to leave a link back or to ask the blogger for permission!)

For me, I got super duper excited about making an aesthetic post for the first time. I also realized that I don’t really like writing reviews, so I made an executive decision to………. write less of them. No one noticed :’)

2. Change up your posting schedule!

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It might help to switch up when you post. Do you feel too much pressure going by a fixed schedule (Ie. Monday, Wednesday, Friday every week)? Maybe it will be help to be more flexible, like posting three times every week on whichever days you feel like. If you’ve always blogged on a flexible schedule, maybe you will find stability in a more regimented approach.

Or, your posting frequency might need a change. Maybe posting x times a week is exhausting, and you need to pull back a bit.

Although I initially loved posting 4 times a week, I soon realized that it was causing me stress and just wasn’t sustainable. So, I decided to scale back to 3 blog posts a week, which made a world of difference. Not only did I feel less pressure, it also freed up more time so I can put more thought into each post. The unexpected thing is that it didn’t change my blog stats at all. Just look at some of the other bloggers out there: There are immensely popular bloggers who post two times a week or even just once a week.

3. Post about something other than books and blogging!

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Is there another passion that has been pulling on your heartstrings lately? Maybe you like fashion, or TV and movies, or music, or dance, or travel, or you’ve recently started writing your own novel! Chances are, you’ll have plenty to say about these things. Personally I LOVE to read about other bloggers’ travels, WIPs, outfits of the day (OOTD), or other hobbies and interests. It’s like a breath of fresh air!

As for myself, I haven’t ventured far from book/blogging topics. BUT I would very much like to make an OOTD post one day. In fact, I was thiiiiis close to posting one today… before chickening out :’) I also want to share my pole dancing journey! One day, guys, one day!

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Do you celebrate Thanksgiving in your culture? What helps you get out of a blogging slump? Is there a “right” number of times to post each week? Is there something you’ve always wanted to post about, but haven’t? What are your other favourite hobbies?

And, guys… did I just reach 200 followers?!?

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Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks // A heartwarming, true-to-life romance

two-by-two-uk“If it comes, let it come. If it stays, let it stay. If it goes, let it go.” 
― Nicholas Sparks, Two By Two

At 32, Russell Green has it all: a stunning wife, a lovable six year-old daughter, a successful career as an advertising executive and an expansive home in Charlotte. He is living the dream, and his marriage to the bewitching Vivian is the center of that. But underneath the shiny surface of this perfect existence, fault lines are beginning to appear… In a matter of months, Russ finds himself without a job or wife, caring for his young daughter while struggling to adapt to a new and baffling reality.

Romance / Fiction / 497 pages

This novel is written from Russell’s point of view. We watch him change and adapt as curveballs are thrown into his life, and things that are precious to him are taken away. I love that Russell has both strengths and flaws: He is ingenious when it comes to advertising, and he is a kind and trusting person. On the other hand, because he hasn’t been the primary caregiver for his daughter London, it is an uphill climb for him to learn to take care of her. I also love that we get up close and personal with Russ. We not only learn about his present but also his past – his childhood, his relationships with his family, and his mistakes, which all shape who he is as an adult. Russ is a likeable character who seems real.

I liked reading about the other characters, for the most part. Some of my favourite scenes are dialogues between Russ and London, which are so natural and at times comical. Throughout the story, we see how their relationship changes and evolves, as London learns to trust and rely on her father more. I also like Marge and Liz, Russ’s sister and her wife, and Russ’s mother and father. They each have their own personalities, and we get a sense of how their histories with Russ shape their relationships with him.

On the other hand, I find Vivian’s character (Russell’s wife) to be less believable. For  most of the story, she is selfish, manipulative, and almost sociopathic. And that’s fine. I’d say (from personal experience), that some terrible peeps are like that in the real world. Call me jaded, but these people don’t change. However, towards the second half of the story, Vivian’s personality goes through a dramatic shift which I find to be unrealistic.

The plot unfolds slowly, with ample amount of time to explore Russell’s relationships with the people who are important to him. I think that is appropriate for the type of book it is. There is a very subtle and slow-moving romance which is nice and heartwarming. Oh, and there is a plot twist towards the end of the book which comes out of the blue. I am not too sure how I feel about it: It is an event that is not caused by any of the characters, so it doesn’t feel relevant to the story. On the other hand, this is a story that is meant to imitate real life, and well, in real life, $&@* happens.

This is a pretty clean novel. We usually equate the Romance genre with super sexy and steamy love scenes. But there is none of that here. Maybe just, like, a sentence. This is a novel that I would recommend to my conservative, traditional-minded Asian mom. Seriously :’)

I am a fan of the writing in this novel. Russell’s internal monologue flows well. All the dialogue between characters is fantastic.

The Bottom Line:

Despite the few qualms I have about this novel, I liked it. I liked Russ, London, Marge, Liz, Emily, and Russ’s Mom and Dad enough that it kept me turning the pages. This novel is a good rainy day read when you want to immerse yourself in someone else’s reality.

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Have you read this book before? Have you read another Sparks novel? To be honest, this is one of the first adult fiction that I’ve read in a while… Do you prefer adult or young adult fiction?

WIPpet Wednesday: When Matt Meets Olivia

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Happy Hump Day!

To the writers out there: Are you a planner or a pantser?

Planner = Plan everything chapter and every scene so that you know what exactly what you are going to write before you write it

Pantser = Start with an idea in your head, but largely, fly by the seat of your pants

Or… are you a plantser like me? (Plantser = the best of both worlds)

Though I like to have a general sense of where my story is going, what the major plot points are, how some scenes will pan out, I don’t know the specifics of each scene until I sit down and write it. If I think too much beforehand, I feel bored and uninspired when I am actually writing the scene. In other words, I kinda like making stuff up as I go along. For me, writing is more fun that way, and believe it or not, it turns out better.

An update on my writing: I am now a bit over 130K words, and about 90-95% of the way there (woohooo!!) Then I will be going back and cutting some scenes, since my novel is approaching epic fantasy length, except… epic fantasy, it is not :’)

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Let’s go waaaaaayy back to the beginning for today’s snippet. Matt meets Olivia shortly after she moves in next door in their apartment building. Charlie races down the hallway off-leash, giving Matt a scare:

(Charlie = Olivia’s dog, Zelda = Matt’s daughter)

“Sorry about that,” She says, clipping a leash onto Charlie’s collar. “He likes to run.”

Matt looks at the beast with the eternal hunger burning in his eyes, subdued but undefeated.

Keep your dog on leash, he wants to say for his sake, for Zelda’s sake, for all their neighbours’ sake. What will happen when the ninety-year-old woman next door goes for her morning walk? He is fairly certain that she is blind.

He glances up at Olivia. He’ll say it.

“Oh. Um, I’m Olivia.” She says, extending her non-leash-holding hand. “I just moved in next door.”

He shakes her hand. He’ll have to say it. He’ll have to tell her what she doesn’t want to hear.

“It seems like everyone is really friendly in this building so far,” Olivia says with a chuckle. “Looks like Charlie and I will fit right in, won’t we, Charlie?” She reaches to scratch Charlie on the back of his ear.

Matt swallows. He feels his willpower caving in.

“Welcome,” he says instead. “That’s a cute dog.”

He wants to kick himself.

WIPpet Math: 10 paragraphs for October.

WIPpet Wednesdays is a blog hop where writers can share a snippet from their WIP. The only stipulation is that the excerpt is somehow related to the date. Be sure to check out some of the other lovely WIPpet snippets here. Thank you Emily Wrayburn for hosting.

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How is your week going? Are you a planner, a pantser, or a plantser? Is there an ideal length for a manuscript?