2017 Writing Recap | 2018 Goals

Greetings, writers!
It is time for me to do my annual writing recap and announce some writerly goals for the upcoming year! This year has been pretty crazy, so…

Let’s see what I accomplished!

I had three writing goals for 2017:
◦Finish the rewrite of Scarred Flawless and have it ready for beta readers by January.
I’m calling this one a success! I had the rewrite, (I had to put it in third person instead of first), finished by April, and I should be finished with the last round of edits tonight! I still have to export it from Scrivener and make sure everything is formatted correctly, but I technically accomplished my original goal. I hope to be starting the beta reader process in the next couple of weeks.
◦Outline Fractured Faith, (the sequel to Scarred Flawless).
I sort of accomplished this? Kind of? Okay not really! I have a few scenes written that I know I want to include, a big-picture plot, and a rough summary, but I do not have an official scene-by-scene outline.
◦Write five short stories.
I technically did this. I finished the first drafts of five short stories, but only two of them got edited because I turned them in for class work. The other three are in some random folder that I will probably never find again.

Writing Goals for 2018

I only have three writing goals for 2018 as well because… three is a magic number! They are:
◦Finish the beta reader process for Scarred Flawless and start seeking publication for it. insert terrified emoji
◦Outline Fractured Faith because I didn’t do it last year!
◦Outline my new novel idea that is currently under the working title, “Nevermore Forever”. I haven’t talked about this much because it was literally a tiny spark of an idea until two nights ago, but I will have a post up on it soon!

Reading Goals for 2018

◦Read a minimum of thirty books. That was my goal for 2017, and it didn’t happen, so I’m trying again!
◦Keep up with writing book reviews instead of getting eight reviews behind like I am now.
◦Actually use Goodreads. I have a terrible habit of not updating Goodreads for months at a time and then spamming the feeds of my followers with a million updates at once. It would be really nice if I could end that this year!

What are your goals?

If you have writerly goals of your own, let me know what they are in the comments, or drop me a link to your own blog post! Also, if you’re interested in beta reading Scarred Flawless, keep an eye on my blog and Twitter feed because I will be posting updates.

Beautiful Books 2017 | How’s the writing going?

Beautiful Books is a writing link-up created by Cait @ Paper Fury. Today’s topic is, “How’s the writing going”?


  1. Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?
    My mental state is pretty frazzled at the moment. It is day five of NaNoWriMo 2017, and I have 1057 new words to my name. That isn’t even the recommended word count for day one… Because of this pathetic excuse for a day five word count, I have switched my goal around a little bit. Instead of trying to edit Scarred Flawless and draft 50K words of the sequal, I have made my primary goal to finish editing Scarred Flawless. This is WAY more important to me than drafting a new thing right now because I want to have it in the hands of beta readers by January. Therefore, I’ll be counting every thirty minutes of editing as one thousand words for NaNo this year.

  2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?
    The Counsel Hall was no place for the innocent or kind at heart. So much innocent blood had been spilled upon the tiles that it was a wonder the floor was white instead of scarlet. Niko Devereaux had watched every drop of that innocent blood spill a thousand times over, and sometimes the presence of the unseen in the Great Room was so strong that it was difficult to tell what was tangible and what was non-corporeal.

  3. Who’s your current favorite character in your novel?
    The proper answer here is, “Please don’t make me pick a favorite fictional child”, but I’ll be honest… Niko is my favorite.

  4. What do you love about your novel so far?
    I LOVE my characters! The characters actually came to me before the plot, so they were extremely well-developed before I even started writing.

  5. Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?
    I haven’t made any hilarious typos myself, but autocorrect did a number on my first draft! I didn’t realize it was on, and for some reason it insisted that my main characters name should be, “Nero Develop”, instead of Niko Devereaux. Let’s just say I spent some quality time with the find-and-replace feature before I did my first read through… 🙂

  6. What is your favorite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?
    Beginnings are my happy place! Nothing has to make a ton of sense in the beginning because the rest of the story is there to explain things, but middles and ends require logic! I don’t like it when writing and logic collide!

  7. What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!
    I don’t eat while I write because food and keyboards should never mix, but I do drink coffee or tea depending on what I’m up for that day. I do listen to music while I write, )you can click here to view my Scarred Flawless playlist on youTube). I write best either late at night or early in the morning when no one else is awake.

  8. How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?
    No one gets to know about my writing except my closest writerly friends until the first round of edits are over.

  9. What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?
    Other people did it, so I can do it too!

  10. What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?
    ◦Don’t chase after any shiny new ideas unless you are absolutely sure that your current project isn’t going anywhere. You’ll never get anything published if you don’t stick with something.
    ◦Write about something you are passionate about. If you love something, you’ll probably also enjoy writing about it.
    ◦Writing has no rules; don’t let anybody tell you otherwise!

My NaNoWriMo2017 Bullet Journal

Happy Halloween/NaNoWriMo Eve! This is kind of last minute, but I thought I would share five of my favorite NaNoWriMo bullet journal spreads.
*If you are unfamiliar with the bullet journal system, click here for a video that will explain it better than I can.

Unfortunately I can’t show you pretty pictures like most of the bullet journalers on Instagram because all of my spreads are in braille, and the vast majority of you couldn’t read them. However, I will do my best to describe the spreads well enough for you to actually understand what I’m talking about… 🙂

  1. The Monthly Spread:
    This is basically a staple of all bullet journals, not just writing ones. I don’t typically use the monthly spread when I’m planning for a normal month, but I do during November. This is so that I can easily see what weeks are going to be insanely busy and what weeks are going to be basically free. If I’m going to have a crazy week, I make sure to cover for it in the week prior.

  2. The Word Count Tracker:
    This is a table consisting of three columns: day, word count, and damage control. Along the left-hand side, I list the 30 days of November. In the word count column, I write the word count I achieved for that particular day. In the damage control column, I write the number of words that I need to write the next day in order to fix any damage I did the day before.
    The recommended word count per day to win NaNoWriMo is 1667. Although it is possible to win NaNoWriMo by not writing on the week days and doing nothing but writing on the weekends, (I have done this), it is MUCH easier if you stick to a daily goal of somewhere around 1667 words per day. Hence the word count tracker!

  3. The daily spread:
    For me, this spread is literally just a todo list. Basically, these pages consist of checklists of everything I have to do before I can write. Without these pages, I would get completely sucked into NaNoWriMo, and important things like homework and algebra tests would be forgotten.

  4. The Inspiration Spread:
    This page consists of a list of things that inspire me to write my novel. The majority of WriMos, (including myself), tend to get sick of whatever they’re working on half way through the month and move onto a shiny new idea. This is bad, because you will never finish anything if you don’t stick with something. Also, if you were excited enough about an idea to decide to do it for NaNo, it’s probably pretty good, and you should probably stick with it! My inspiration pages usually consist of things like…
    ◦I love my characters!
    ◦My plot is super exciting!
    ◦These characters have a story to tell, and it’s my job to put it on paper.
    ◦The world needs my novel!!!!

  5. The playlist Spread:
    Most of you probably know by now that I make a playlist for everything I start. I can’t rite in silence, and if I’m going to listen to music while writing, it should totally be stuff that pertains to my story! Putting the playlist on shuffle and listening to a few songs is usually enough to get me in the writing zone, but sometimes I need a little extra help to get into the mindset to write certain scenes. So… I list all of the super important scenes that may be tough to write and associate each of them with a song so that I can listen to that song in order to get in the mindset to write that scene.

Six of Crows

Six of Crows
“Kaz leaned back. “What’s the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?”
“Knife to the throat?” asked Inej.
“Gun to the back?” said Jesper.
“Poison in his cup?” suggested Nina.
“You’re all horrible,” said Matthias.”
-Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows

Title: Six of Crows
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Suspense
Pages: 462
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Published: September 29th, 2015
Amazon
iBooks
Audio
Goodreads

Synopsis From Goodreads:

Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Six of Crows is very dark for a young adult novel, yet it still manages to be an easy and entertaining read. The character development is amazing, I loved the romantic tension, and it has some of the best world building I’ve seen since Harry Potter! The only major complaint I have is the plot. As far as I can tell, the first chapter is completely unnecessary, and the pacing seems kind of slow for the first quarter of the book. That being said, Six of Crows is easily one of my most favorite books ever because of the characters and world alone!

Everything, Everything

Everything Everything
“Everything’s a risk. Not doing anything is a risk. It’s up to you.”
-Nicola Yoon, Everything, Everything

Title: everything, Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Genre: Young Adult, Romance
Pages: 310
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Published: September 1, 2015
Amazon
iBooks
Goodreads

Synopsis From Goodreads:

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Everything, Everything is one of those books that you can read again and again and get something new from the story every time. It is a somewhat slower-paced story, but it still manages to catch your attention and hold it until the very end. The characters, plot, and setting are all very well developed. The only complaint I have is that the romance seemed very “instalovy”.
The characters in Everything, Everything each have their own backstory that contributes to the plot. Maddy, (the main character), has a severe immune disorder that prevents her from leaving her house. Olly, (Maddy’s love interest), hasn’t had the greatest family life. Maddy’s mother lost her husband and another child in a car accident, and now Maddy is all she has left. Each of these unique backstories contributes to the plot and character development in a way that makes Everything, Everything feel like more than the average teen romance.
Everything, Everything has a very interesting writing style. It is told in the first person narrative through Maddy, (the main character). The writing seemed a little… choppy at first, but after the first chapter or so it became much more fluid.
The plot of Everything, Everything is well-paced for the most part. I do think that some of the exposition could’ve been cut from the beginning, and the romance did feel a lot like instalove. I’m choosing to forgive the instalove in this instance, however, because of the unique situation. I believe that the instalove was made up for by the interesting backstory, strong character development, and bitter-sweet ending.
The ending of Everything, Everything was not what you usually see in young adult romance, but it was a welcome change in my opinion. Without spoiling everything about Everything, Everything, the ending brings a psychological twist into the story that ends everything on a bitter-sweet note.
Overall, Everything, Everything is a great read if you’re up for a cute teen romance with a psychological twist!

Embers

Embers
“We all have responsibilities from our circumstances,
even if we didn’t ask for them.”
― Karen Ann Hopkins, Embers

Title: Embers
Author: Karen Ann Hopkins
Series: The Wings of War #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 394
Publisher: Self-published
Published: March 15, 2015
Amazon
Audio
Goodreads

Synopsis From Goodreads:

There are descendants of angels walking among us. Ember is one of them.
Embers is an epic paranormal adventure/romance about a seventeen year old girl who discovers that she’s immune to fire and any other injury when she’s in a horrific car crash that kills her parents. Following a violent episode with her aunt’s boyfriend, Ember flees Ohio to live with an old relative in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Ember’s exuberance at escaping a bad home life soon turns to trepidation when she learns that she’s a Watcher, a descendant of angels.
While Ember is instructed about her heritage and the powers that go along with it, she strikes up friendships with two teenagers who live in a frightening walled compound in the forest. Inexplicitly drawn to one of the young men in particular, an impossible romance develops. But it’s cut short when Ember discovers that her new friends are fighting on the opposite side of a war that’s been raging between two factions of Watchers for thousands of years. When the compound’s inhabitants threaten the townspeople, Ember takes action, sealing her fate in the ancient battle of good versus evil, and the grayness in between. Ember is up to the challenge, until she realizes that she isn’t only fighting for the lives of the locals and the souls of her new friends. She may be one of the few champions willing to make a stand for all of mankind as the rapture approaches and the end of days begin.

My Rating: ☆☆

Embers is one of those books that has a lot of wasted potential. The premise is great, but the follow-through just isn’t there.
The plot of Embers is interesting enough to hold your attention, but the story starts earlier than it should. For starters, the prologue is entirely unnecessary! By unnecessary, I mean its only purpose is to make you wonder what’s behind the creepy wall in the woods. The writing of the prologue isn’t that amazing either… It’s in third person; the rest of the book is in first person. Also, it is very gorry and almost made me put the book down. Maybe it’s just me, but heads should not come off in the first twenty pages unless the book is a horror story or somebody super important is being murdered, (neither of which is the case here)! The first three chapters are also just a bunch of unnecessary set-up. The story doesn’t start until the main character gets to her aunt’s house, but for some reason we’re given explicit details about how she got there in the form of three extra chapters. That being said, Embers tells a pretty good story once the plot actually kicks off. It isn’t the kind of thing you read for brilliant writing or a message that’ll stick with you, but it makes good mindless entertainment!
The characters are… flat. The main character, Ember, is basically a puppet who does whatever has to be done to move the plot along. There was a lot of potential for her to go through some major development, but it was not fulfilled. I mean… The girl watched her parents burn to death in a fire and discovered that fire couldn’t hurt her in the process. She should be traumatized to the point of needing therapy, but instead she just comes across as a winy teenage girl who is quite honestly super annoying. Her love interest is slightly more developed. He’s a demon who doesn’t want to be a demon and has actually considered suicide to escape his demonicness, but again some great potential is wasted. The romance was also major instalove, and the love triangle that was introduced about two-thirds into the book was obviously just there for the sake of having a love triangle. Seriously… Who is going to believe that there is actually a possibility that the descendent of an angel is going to fall in love with a human guy when she basically threw herself at a demon the first time she saw him???
Embers is an excellent example of a book that should not have been written in first person. It would’ve been better if the characters weren’t so flat, but because neither of the two narrators was developed enough to have a strong narrative voice, the first person narrative was just really awkward sounding. Maybe I’m just an up-tight writerly snob, but I wanted to scream and rewrite the entire book in third person the whole time I was reading it. The only thing that got me to read through the writing was the plot. It kept me turning pages to see what happened even though I predicted every single twist from the midpoint onward. Overall, Embers is a pretty good read if you’re into plot driven stories with the “mindless entertainment factor”, but you should probably avoid it if you’re going to be irritated by cardboard characters and not so fantastic writing.

Beautiful People | Parental Edition

Beautiful People is a writing link-up created by Cait @ Paper Fury in which you share a bit about your characters. This month’s topic is parental relationships! I’ll be answering the following questions for Niko Deverow, (The main character of my Shaman Novel.)


  1. Overall, how good is their relationship with their parents?
    Niko’s biological parents mysteriously disappeared when he was three years old. His Aunt Zelda and Uncle Quinn are his legal guardians, but they don’t really care what he does as long as it doesn’t ruin their chance at a spot on the royal counsel. The closest thing he has to a real parent is his shaman mentor, Archer Cross. She was like a sister to Niko’s mother, and now she’s made it her mission to save him from the royal lifestyle as his mother would’ve wanted.

  2. Do they know both their biological parents? If not, how do they cope with this loss/absence, and how has it affected their life?
    I already answered the first part of this question above… Sophia and Gidian Deverow disappeared when Niko was only three, so he never got a chance to know them. Niko inherited his Mom’s shaman gift: the ability to see spirits and residual energetic imprints. For example, he could see the blurred image of a violent murder that played out 50 years in the past because of the energetic imprint it left behind. This made it super hard for him when his Aunt and Uncle got guardianship. His dad basically ruined the Deverow name when he married a shaman, and now Zelda and Quinn care about nothing beyond fixing their reputation and reclaiming their spot on the royal counsel. From a VERY young age, Niko has been taught to hide his abilities. He wears a flawless mask to keep up his royal pretence, but beneath it he is filled with scars and secrets that can never be revealed. Because he’s holding so much inside, he finds ways to numb the world. He becomes addicted to Bliss, (a made-up drug), and turns to self-injury as a form of release.

  3. How did their parents meet?
    Every year, the Counsel and the Shaman Court meet under a peace flag. Gidian Deverow and Sophia Murser met at one such meeting. Sophie saw that something was off in Gidian’s aura. He didn’t quite fit with the other royals, and that intrigued her. She struck up a conversation at the peace banquet, and after several months of secret meetings, Gidian made plans to desert the counsel which would throw his family name into exile.

  4. How would they feel if they were told, “you’re turning out like your parent(s)”?
    Niko would be overjoyed to get ANY kind of information about his parents! He’s spent most of his life trying to find out what happened to them, which is difficult because he has no access to shaman records, and the counsel doesn’t keep information on traitors. Even though he sees the spirits of the dead, he’s never seen his parents. He can’t decide if this makes him scared or happy because it either means they’re not dead, they’re in some kind of afterlife, or they’re alive and somewhere worse than death.

  5. What were your character’s parents doing when they were your character’s age?
    Sophia was training to become a spy for ISA, (the International Shaman Alliance). Gidian was being groomed to carry on his family name and one day inherit the Deverow’s counsel seat.

  6. Is there something they adamantly disagreed on?
    Considering they never new each other, they didn’t have a chance to disagree on anything.

  7. What did the parent(s) find hardest about raising your character?
    It was very difficult for Sophie to find out that Niko had her abilities. Sight and Empathy are two of the most difficult shaman gifts to master, and when they’re combined, they usually result in madness.

  8. What’s their most vivid memory with their parental figure(s)?
    Niko has a vague memory of his mother singing him to sleep in a foreign language that sounds a lot like Hawaiian. However, he can’t decide if it really happened, or if he just made it up to feel some connection to his life before the counsel.

  9. What was your character like as a baby/toddler?
    Niko was a very quiet child. He was always watching, listing, and absorbing the world around him.

  10. Why and how did the parent(s) choose your character’s name?
    The name Niko means, “victory,” or, “warrior”. Gidian and Sophie named him Niko because they knew the world was a harsh place, and they wanted it to remind him that he was strong enough to fight and win.

Dreams of Gods & Monsters

Gods and monsters
“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil pressed their hands to their hearts
And started the apocalypse.”
-Laini Taylor, Dreams of Gods & Monsters

Title: Dreams of Gods & Monsters
Author: Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of smoke & Bone #3
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 613
Publisher: Little Brown & Company
Published: April 8, 2014
Amazon
iBooks
Goodreads

Synopsis From Goodreads:

Two worlds are poised on the brink of a vicious war. By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera’s rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her.

When the brutal angel emperor brings his army to the human world, Karou and Akiva are finally reunited – not in love, but in a tentative alliance against their common enemy. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves.

But with even bigger threats on the horizon, are Karou and Akiva strong enough to stand among the gods and monsters?

The New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy comes to a stunning conclusion as – from the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond – humans, chimaera, and seraphim strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Dreams of Gods & Monsters opens by introducing a new character to the series. I would normally consider it a “writerly no-no” to add a main character so late in a series, but in this case, it works! Without the addition of a new key player, the plot couldn’t have ended as it did. The new character is also very well developed to have entered the story so late, and she undergoes a complete character arck by the end.
The plot of Dreams of Gods & Monsters is tight and well paced. While Days of Blood & Starlight seemed slow in places, Dreams of Gods & Monsters flows quickly and holds your attention until the very last page.
The writing style is very smooth and almost captivating in some places, but as with the first two books, the narrator switches were not handled as well as they could’ve been. There were several instances where a narrator swap occurred in the middle of a chapter, and it got super hard to follow! The fact that there were so many characters didn’t help matters either… Honestly, the whole problem could’ve been remedied if the narrator changes had happened at chapter breaks, but because they didn’t, it became “borderline head-hopping.”
The ending of the series was carried out beautifully! I did NOT see the plot twist coming, but I love how everything was wrapped up! The worlds were saved, everyone who mattered got their happy ever after, and the only thing I could find fault with was the head-hopping problem!

Days of Blood & Starlight

Days of blood and starlight
“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil held a wishbone between them.
And its snap split the world in two.”
― Laini Taylor, Days of Blood & Starlight

Title: Days of Blood & Starlight
Author: Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2, (click here for my review of book 1)
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 517
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Published: November 6th, 2012
Amazon
iBooks
Goodreads

Synopsis From Goodreads:

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Days of Blood & Starlight is a pretty good follow-up to Daughter of Smoke & Bone. The plot picks up basically where the first book ended, but introduces an entirely new setting and conflict. The overall plot was excellent, but the pacing did seem a little slow to me. It wasn’t the torturous kind of slow progression that makes you want to skip ahead, but it definitely could’ve gotten off to a faster start!
The character development was amazing! The book was definitely more plot driven than character driven, but all of the main characters began some kind of transformation that was obvious through their actions and the ways in which they interacted with each other. Each of the character arcs unfolded alongside plot events, and the changes they experienced were caused by the plot, which created a nice balance. By the end of the story, all of the key players were placed at a point where they had to make a decision for better or worse. At that point in the story, they had all progressed enough to understand the right choice, and therefore the story reached a form of closure while still leaving room for the next book.
The writing style of Days of Blood & Starlight is very unique. It has a melodic flow that is beautiful and interesting, yet hard to follow sometimes. Part of the confusion also came from the fact that there were multiple narrators. I think I counted three main narrators and a couple chapters from others. I normally don’t have a problem with multiple narrators, but this got super hard to keep up with! I definitely understand why there were so many narrators, and they were all necessary for the story to unfold, but I think it could’ve been written a little more distinctly. Thankfully it was written in third person, otherwise I don’t think I could’ve gotten through all the head-hopping!
This most definitely is not the kind of book you read for mindless entertainment! Coming from someone who can usually listen to audio books while doing a multitude of other tasks simultaneously without missing a thing in the book, this was not an easy read! I mean… I actually had to dedicate time to curl into a small ball on my bed with only a blanket and coffee to read this thing instead of just throwing on my headphones while being a responsible student! That being said, it told a very unique and amazing story, and I have already started the next book because I am totally hooked on this plot!