5 Books On My TBR List

5 Books On My TBR List

Since your list will never end, why not add these?
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If you read a lot, you know the feeling of the ever-growing TBR (To-Be-Read) list. The unfortunate reality is that it will never end, and you will never be able to tell yourself you've read everything you want to read; that's why I've decided to share a few books on my list! Feel free to add them to yours. Since your list will never end, why not add these?

1. Monster by A. Lee Martinez

If there's one thing I love more than speculative fiction, it's speculative fiction that knows it's weird. "Monster" seems like one of these. The preface of this novel is the main character named Monster runs a pest control agency. He also has a girlfriend from hell. Literally. The other main character, Judy, works the night shift at the Food Plus Mart. Her life is fairly ordinary until she finds a yeti in the freezer aisle eating all the Rocky Road. The two characters meet, due to the fact that Monster's pest control agency doesn't catch bugs; they catch things like ogres, trolls, and dragons.

2. These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

As a fan of young adult fiction, and an admirer of authors who can write historical fiction, I decided to pick up "These Shallow Graves" based on those two things. The story follows Jo Montfort's ordinary life of going to school and waiting to be married off to a rich bachelor until her father is found dead. The story goes: Charles Montfort accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. Jo knows her father was far to smart to clean a loaded gun. She begins to uncover more and more about her father's death; she discovers there are secrets.

3. This One Summer by Jullian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

I'm a huge fan of graphic narrative, so picking up "This One Summer" has been on my list for a long time. The story follows an unforgettable summer at Awago Beach for Rose and Windy. Rose has been going to Awago Beach with her parents and best friend, Windy, for the summer since she was a little girl. This summer, Rose's parents won't stop fighting. Rose and Windy get tangled in a tragedy-in-the-making in the small town of Awago Beach. The summer is full of secrets and heartache, with Rose's only relief being Windy.

4. The Life and Death of Zebulon Finch by Daniel Kraus

"The Life and Death of Zebulon Finch" has intimidated me by its brick-like size for at least a year now. By reinstating it on my list, it's my way of letting it know I am not afraid of it! This novel starts in 1896, when a 17-year-old gangster is gunned down by the shores of Lake Michigan. Mere moments after, Zebulon Finch is resurrected from the void. Not only is he resurrected; he continues to live as a 17-year-old for over a century.

5. The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

After reading "When the Emperor was Devine" by Julie Otsuka in a class, I've been obsessed with her work. I happened to see "The Buddha in the Attic" while at the bookstore, and just had to buy it then and there. This novel tells the story of a group of young women brought from Japan to San Franciso as "picture brides" about a century ago. It follows the women on their journey across the sea, their arrival in San Fransisco, their first night as wives, and raising children who reject Japanese culture. The story will end at the arrival of war.

Cover Image Credit: Fredrik Rubensson on Flickr

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The Key To Ending Your First Draft Blues

Or at least getting through the next chapter with your hair intact
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Ah, the first draft. We’ve all been there as writers. The day we decide to turn a blank word document into a 70,000 word (or more) masterpiece. Or, at least, that’s always the aim. Often as first-time writers, we go into the experience blind, learning as we go, and never really knowing whether what we’re doing is right or wrong.

It can be frustrating at times, as most first drafts are a test of sanity. As somebody who had written ten first draft books (nearing eleven) in six years, I have had my fair share of ups and downs when it comes to first drafts.

My first book ever took me four years just to write it, I started at the age of sixteen and finished by the time I was twenty. A year later I had written another. I then wrote one in thirty days, and nowadays I write about three to four books a year.

My point is, there is no science to writing. It is all about learning how to do it, and finding the methods that suit you best. I just wish I could have had someone to tell me all of that when I started.

With that in mind, here are my five pieces of advice on how to write your first draft:

#5 Embrace the Terribleness

The first draft is always the worst version of any story. The sooner you accept it, the easier it is to move forward with your work. So you misspell a few words so bad that even Word can't help you. That shouldn't stop you from going with the flow. Your dialogue will feel hammier than a "Star Wars" film, but you'll clean it up the second time around. You're not expected to create a masterpiece on the first go, so just enjoy the ride.

#4 Suffer for your Art

Writing can be hard. I've said it enough times already, but it's true. You have to be prepared to suffer for it. The reason my first book took four years to write was because I didn't commit to it. The reason I wrote 80,000 words in thirty days was because I committed myself to write at least 1,000 words a day. Now I average 3,000 daily. Is it painful to force 3,000 words to the page every day? Yes, but that's what you have to do to get the draft finished.

#3 Take your Time

Now I know this goes against what I just said, but it's important that you go at the pace you want to. I was happier writing 1,000 words a day, but I was eighteen then. At twenty-three, I'll never get everything done going at 1,000 words a day. Commit yourself to writing every day, even if its only 200 words. Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. You'll get to the finishing line quicker if you jog a steady pace rather than adopting a sprint and rest mentality.

#2 Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Yes, it's important to remember what colour your character's hair is, which one is taller, and what weapon they are carrying. Although with that said, it is important to keep going forward. In my editing, I go over everything with a fine comb, often with a character profile at my side. Don't get bogged down giving every little detail the first time around, you'll have time for that later. The hardest thing is getting it down the first time.

#1 Keep the Story Going at All Costs

This kind of goes without saying, but it is by far the most important step for me. You have to keep moving forward. It doesn't matter if you have to use the biggest Deus ex machina to get your plot going again, you can always edit it away in the re-draft. I use a technique called automatic writing, which means that I don't plan every detail of a chapter. I simply write it as I go. This allows me to give my characters natural reactions as events often come as a surprise to me too.

Obviously it is good to have a rough idea of what is meant to happen, but as long as you can get your characters from A to B, then you are half way there. The other half will be polishing it to the point you can see your reflection.

Good luck, and happy writing.

Cover Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Writer%27s_Block_I.jpg

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4 Steps To Writing a Haiku

It's Fun I Promise
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You've probably had to write a haiku for English sometime in your school career. You most likely found it boring, or difficult, or just plain stupid. I am going to try and show you a more fun way to write a haiku.

1. The Basics: What You Should Know

In case you don't know, a haiku is a Japanese poem that is only three lines long. It is usually taught that the syllables in each line should go 5-7-5. But really, as long as there are 17 syllables or less in the three lines, it's a haiku.

2. Write to Get a Reaction

When you write a haiku, you are aiming to get one of three reactions: Aaaahhh, aha!, or ha ha! For example...

Aaahhh: Laying in bed/dog next to me under blanket/my furry heater

Aha!: Life is too short to love people/who do not deserve/your whole heart

Ha ha!: I'm on the toilet/and my stomach drops/the roll is empty

3. Create an Image

In your writing, you want to create a new image in your readers mind with each line. Take my first haiku for example. I first talk about laying in bed. Then, I say there is a dog next to me under the blanket, so you picture a lump under the covers. In my last line, I call him a furry heater so you imagine a heater covered in fur. The image you create is more important than the syllables.

4. Performing

Lastly, you need to think about performing your haiku. As always, when you're speaking in front of a room of people, you need to project so the whole room can hear you and you need to make eye contact. Another thing to remember is the tone of your voice while you are saying your poem. Dramatic pauses can keep people on the edge of their seat, waiting for what you're going to say next. You also have to remember to be confident! And if you're not confident, fake it till you make it!

Cover Image Credit: Imgur

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