Monday, December 31, 2018

End of Year Survey 2018 Part 2: Bookish/Blogging Life

Every year, Jamie at the Perpetual Page Turner puts together a survey to help you reflect on your year as a bookish blogger. I split my survey up into two parts. In part 1, which you can find here, I talk about some of the most interesting books I read this year. Today in part 2, I'll reflect a bit on my blogging and bookish life.

1. New favourite book blog/Bookstagram/YouTube channel you discovered in 2018?

I don't know! I'm not great at keeping up with or discovering new blogs these days. Any recommendations? I'm especially on the look out for book bloggers not in the US or Canada, or CanLit bloggers!

2. Favourite post you wrote in 2018?

I think probably the post Begin Again. I liked experimenting a bit more this year with more creative non-fiction type posts (even if they weren't as popular), and I think that post is probably my favourite. I like how it captures how I felt in the midst of and then after coming out of a years-long writing slump. I like writing about the more difficult side of writing, and I hope it helped at least a few people to know that they aren't alone in their struggles.
3. Favourite bookish related photo you took in 2018?

I have way too many pictures of my cats, but that's book-related, right? Cats are the ultimate reading companion. Here's a picture of my cat helping me with my 2 day poem contest entry.

4. Best bookish event you participated in this year?

I didn't blog about it (which now thinking about it is really silly), but I actually volunteered at a local writer's festival this year (it's one of the reasons I got so into poetry in the latter half of this year). It was probably the best thing I did. I got to meet a lot of fellow writers, both published and unpublished, and I actually called myself a writer out loud, in public.And everyone was so incredibly warm and welcoming. It also solidified for me the notion that writing is something to be shared and is not a solitary thing. I also went to an author event for Eden Robinson at my local bookstore, which was super fun.
5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2018?

 I don't know, I can't pick! Interviewing Kate Hart was pretty cool. So was having Shvaugn guest post for my Local Book Nook series. So was having incredible Canadian children's author Sheree Fitch follow me on Twitter! I love it all, and I can't wait to do more in the next year.

6. Most challenging thing about your blogging or reading life this year?
For blogging, I would say balance, as always. This time not with school but with writing. Now that I've gotten back into writing pretty consistently, I have to figure out how to prioritize between that and this blog. I definitely think that's something I need to figure out for this upcoming year.

And another thing I've been thinking about is just, what do I want? It's a question I ask myself every year, and now that I'm done school I'm considering committing more to this blog, making consistent posts and really trying to grow it a little bit. Ideally I'd like it to reach a bit wider of an audience, but I also want to keep the core of it - which is doing something that I enjoy and that I'm proud of. Just... I want to be a bit more consistent is all. 

7. Most popular post this year on your blog?

The interview I did with Kate Hart, which I'm so glad. I hope that interview helped at least a few more people find Kate Hart and her book, After the Fall, because she deserves all the attention. That interview was a long time coming, too, so I'm glad it did well.
8. Post you wished got a little more love?

All of them! :) They could all use some more love, but especially my poem project post. I'm really proud of that project and want more people to see it. If you're curious about my writing style, you might want to check that out.
9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc)?

I'm not sure if this works, but this year I got heavily into Critical Role and the collaborative storytelling that is Dungeons and Dragons. Both Critical Role and D&D have opened my eyes to new and different ways of telling stories, and have helped me in my own writing as well. I'm really excited to see where it goes.
10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

My goals for this year were pretty vague, but one of the things I talked about was sharing more of my own writing and writing process. I think I did that a bit, although I'd still love to do a bit more. I'm also sad that since I was traveling so much this summer I didn't get to do as much stuff for Women in Translation Month this year. But there's always next year! I'll talk more about my goals for the upcoming year in my New Year's post like I always do.
11. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your blogging life in 2019?

I'll talk a bit more about this in my New Year's Post, but like I said, I want to start being way more consistent with my posts. Like maybe actually make a calendar or something. I'd also like to really commit to Women in Translation Month, and start up doing Local Book Nook posts again. (By the way, if you want to talk about local books, hit me up!)
Stay tuned for tomorrow when I'll go over last year's goals and look ahead to what's to come!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

End of Year Survey 2018 Part 1: Books I Read This Year

Every year Jamie over at The Perpetual Page Turner does a survey to see what you read throughout the year. Here's a short review of some of the books I read this year, including a few that I didn't get the chance to do reviews of!

2018 Reading Stats
Number of Books You Read:
Number of Re-reads: 11 so far. I think I re-read pretty much all the YA romances I own, plus all my favourite fantasy books.
Genre You Read the Most From: Thanks to my re-read of YA romances, YA contemp, but fantasy (both YA and adult) is close second. I'm predictable if nothing else. I read in 11 different genres, and read a lot of poetry books this year for the first time which is fun!

1. Best book you read in 2018?

Definitely A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. It just somehow fulfilled everything that's always on my wishlist - great, world-sweeping imaginative sci-fi, and a focus on interesting, unique characters. Add in commentary on cross-cultural interaction and I am sold. I have been putting off re-reading it because I don't want it to be over again. You can read my overly gushy review here.
2. Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn't?

After reading Katherena Vermette's North End Love Songs, I was really excited to read her first novel, The Break, but it just didn't affect me as much as I expected it to. Still a good read, though, and an interesting look into family dynamics in the North End of Winnipeg.
3. Most surprising (in a good or bad way) book you read this year?

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin! Big fat fantasy novels scare me sometimes just with all the new lore and stuff you have to learn at the beginning, but I just couldn't put it down. And there's lots of really interesting twists in it. I'm so annoyed that the sequel isn't available in the library yet! I want to read it now!!

4. Book you pushed the most people to read (and they did)?

I definitely pitched A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet to a lot of people, because I really think anyone would enjoy it. And actually, my review got both of my parents to buy the book and re-read it! Doing my job right. :)
5. Best series you started in 2018? Best sequel of 2018? Best series ender of 2018?

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin! I think the series if called the Broken Earth trilogy? I haven't read any new series sequels this year, but I did re-read Crooked Kingdom and man. That book is genius.
6. Favourite new author you discovered in 2018?

Looking back over my book log, I actually discovered lots of cool new authors! Becky Chambers and N.K. Jemisin I already mentioned, but I also fell in love with Claire Kann, Eden Robinson, Joshua Whitehead, Becky Albertalli, Alice Oseman, and a whole bunch of really cool poets.
7. Best book from a genre you don't typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Most of the books I read this year that were out of my comfort zone I didn't really like... although I did read Eden Robinson's Son of a Trickster which is sort of fantasy/horror-esque. Creepy books are not my thing, but Eden Robinson does it so well. I'm so curious to read her newest book, Trickster Drift.
8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Most action-packed, definitely Leigh Bardugo's Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. But even it wasn't really action-packed, the most unputdownable was Alice Oseman's Radio Silence. I have no idea how a great friendship story is written in such an intense way. I stayed up way too late reading that book way too many nights. I need to get my hands on more of her books.
9. Book you read in 2018 that you're most likely to re-read next year?

A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet! I think that one might become one of my yearly re-reads it was that good.
10. Favourite cover of a book you read in 2018?

I love the cover for Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman. So gorgeous.
11. Most memorable character of 2018?

All of the characters in A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet! They were all so unique and interesting. But if I had to pick one, I'd probably say -- actually never mind. I was going to pick one but then I was like - but that one's so interesting! So yeah, sticking with all of them. Read this book, people!!
12. Most beautifully written book of 2018?

Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead is a beautifully written, poetry of sadness book. But if I can pick a poetry collection, I would say This Wound is a World by Billy-Ray Belcourt. Every single poem in that collection knocked the wind out of me.
13. Most thought-provoking/life-changing book of 2018?

I read a lot of interesting, thought-provoking books this year, but one that I keep coming back to is a biography of Nelson Mandela called Nelson Mandela: The Revolutionary Years by David James Smith. This biography focused less on Mandela's career and activist work, and more on his family and how it affected them (spoiler alert: terribly). It painted a picture of how Mandela's activist work pretty much destroyed his family, and it really made me think about activist work in general and how it is way more gritty than the heroic narratives of history make it out to be. It's made me think a lot about my own life choices as well. If you can get your hands on it, I'd recommend it.
14. Book you can't believe you've waited until 2018 to finally read?

Becky Albertalli's books! Simon Vs. The Homo Sapien's Agenda has been on my radar for years, and I finally read through it (and Leah On The Offbeat) this year. They're now on my go-to list for fluffy contemps to re-read when I'm in a slump.
15. Favourite passage/quote from a book you read in 2018?

I didn't write down any specific quotes this year, but I think my favourite passage is a passage at the end of A Long Way to A Small Angry Planet where two friends tell each other what they mean to each other. It's beautiful.

16. Shortest and longest book you read in 2018?

Longest book - N.K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season (although it still seemed too short), shortest probably dodie's book Obsessions, Confessions and Life Lessons (also way too short).
17. Book that shocked you the most?

I don't think any of the books I read this year really shocked me... but I enjoyed them nonetheless!
18. Favourite book you read in 2018 from an author you've read previously?

Probably Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman. It was a different kind of fantasy novel, but beautiful and engaging nonetheless.
19. Best book you read in 2018 that you read solely on a recommendation from someone else?

Oh! I read Sea Foam and Silence by Lynn E. O'Connacht based solely on a recommendation from Laura. It's a verse retelling of the little mermaid. I'm not usually one for verse novels, but I really liked this one, it was beautiful and nuanced and made me consider maybe reading some more verse novels. (Now that I'm a poetry connoisseur I think I would enjoy this even more!)
20. Best 2018 debut you read?

Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann!

21. Best worldbuilding/most vivid setting you read this year?

A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet has the best world-building I've seen in a long time. It's so good.
22. Book that put a smile on your face/was the most FUN to read?

Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann was just the perfect amount of fluff and fun for me. Becky Albertalli's books came in a close second.
23. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2018?

All the gorgeous poetry I read, but mostly Billy-Ray Belcourt's This Wound is a World. It's so good it hurts. In the best way.
24. Hidden gem of the year?

Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson! More people should be reading her work, because I think a lot of people would really enjoy her haunting fantasy world. 

25. Book that crushed your soul?

See number 23.
26. Most unique book of the year?

Maybe What to Do When I'm Gone by Suzy Hopkins and Hallie Bateman? A graphic memoir/love letter to your mother. 

27. Book that made you the most mad?
My review of Demi-Gods by Eliza Robertson says "I got literally nothing out of this book."

Well that's it for Part 1, check out Part 2 here and stay tuned for my 2019 goals!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Reflections of a NaNoWriMo Newbie

November has come and gone, which means that NaNoWriMo is officially over. I started the beginning of the month with some trepidation and uncertainty, but I finished it - and accomplished writing 50,000 words in a month - calmly and without fanfare.

But I did it! I completed my first NaNo, and it was pretty great. I just thought I'd share some of the things I've learned, and where I'm planning to go from here.

1. Slow and steady wins the race

NaNoWriMo is often associated in my mind with a desperate rush to the finish where you're writing 10,000 words per day to make your goal. I don't know why I thought this would be me, since I'm not a last-minute kind of person. In my five years of university, I never pulled an all-nighter. I just can't do that. Some people need the pressure of the finish line looming to complete things, but I don't. Basically, NaNo was a reminder that I really should be writing at least a little bit every day. On good days, I would write more than necessary and get a little bit ahead so I could relax on the days when I just couldn't squeeze in more than a few minutes of writing time. By the time November 30 rolled around, I only had an easy 500 words to finish off.

2. Writing in community is always better

Having so many people with the same goal as you, cheering each other on, is so valuable. Like I've said before, I've realized over the past few years that writing shouldn't be a solitary thing. It's so much more fun and purposeful if you have people writing alongside you, struggling with the same things, and have an understanding of what you're doing and why you're doing it. I also had people IRL cheering me on (if they slightly misunderstood), and that helped too.

3. Writing consistently is key

Having written in between homework and school stuff for so long, I'd often go for weeks without writing anything, and it's really hard to get back into wherever I was thinking for the story and characters after a few day or week break. It's much easier to keep a pulse on where I want the story to go when I'm immersed in it almost every day.

These are all definitely lessons that I've talked about before, but they're definitely things I need to keep reminding myself. And mostly that I just need to write. I just need to get words on a page, and after that everything comes more easily. It's kind of weird, how I've been writing for years but I feel like I'm only just starting to figure out how to be a writer.

As for what's next... well I now have two drafts of things sitting for a bit until I go back to touch them up and then do the scary part... sending them off to people I trust for edits. In the meantime, though, I've got some ideas for a fantasy story so I think I'm going to take some time to do some world-building this month. Anyone have any world-building tips or tricks? How was your NaNo experience? Do you find NaNo valuable if you do it?


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