Showing posts from November, 2012

College: Winter Break Advice

It's that time of year again. Time to start getting ready to go home for winter break. It's an exciting time, the break between semesters. Thanksgiving break isn't nice, but with the homework and stressing about finals, it's not really a break. Here is some advice on how to get ready to go home.

Turn in any necessary paperwork 
If there's anything that you need to turn in about going home or living arrangements for next semester, make sure to get it in on time.

Pack anything and everything you'll need for home 
Make sure you have any clothes, toiletries, personal supplies, electronics, chargers, and everything else that you need at home. If you're planning on bringing up extra stuff after break, you might want to leave a little extra room in your suitcases for it. 

Make travel arrangements and don't forget to budget money for it 
If you're not driving yourself home, make sure to find and settle plans with a ride ahead of time. Don't forget to budg…

Book Recs: Middle Grade

Christmas is just around the corner and so is that period of trying to figure out what to buy for everyone. Here are some ideas of great middle grade books and why I love them so much.

Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce
No list of mine discussing middle grade books would be complete with Tamora Pierce. I've been reading this one at least once a year since fifth grade and I've never gotten tired of it. WM is the first book in the Immortals quartet. It's a great story with strong female and male characters, wild fantasy creatures, and a touch of romance later in the series.

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
This is the first book in the Song of the Lioness quartet. It's another amazing story with strong female and male characters, surprising twists, and a bit more romance than Immortals.

So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane
I got into this series in middle school and just recently discovered it again. It hasn't lost any of its magic over the years. This is the …

RTW - Best Book of November

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic. 

This Week's Topic:  What's the best book you read in November?
Last month I hadn't finished any books and I'm happy to say that I fared much better this month reading-wise. I managed to finish two books, both of them amazing. The first was Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie. This was my second of her works that I've read and I loved it. 
My pick for best book, however has to go to... 
Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
This book is definitely a classic. I have to admit, it was a little strange but I loved it anyway. The epistolary style is very well-done and all the characters are brilliant. I've been wanting to read this one for years (and now I really regret that I passed it up in h…

Why I Love NCIS's Characters

Over the last couple months, I've been on an NCIS-watching marathon. I've made it all the way to the end of season three so far. It's one of my all-time favorite shows. One of the reasons for that is its amazing characters. I love all of them and asking me which one is my favorite is like asking me to pick my favorite best friend.

Leroy Jethro Gibbs
No discussion of NCIS characters would be complete without Gibbs. Say whatever you want about him, he's probably one of the greatest characters written today. The backstory behind his character and everything he does is incredible. As I'm watching the show, I keep learning more and more about him. Every time an episode mentions his wife and child, or I see him dealing with a case that includes a child, I burst into tears. I can't help it. You might call him a chauvinist, but is he really? When a naval officer protested when he requested to bring Kate on board a submarine, didn't Gibbs fight until Kate was allowed…

NaNo Update Week Four

Total Word Count: 40,284
Mon: 0
Tues: 0
Wed: 4,154
Thurs: 0
Fri: 2,981
Sat: 2,152
Sun: 0

It was a very up and down week writing-wise for me. Monday was an extremely stressful day for a lot of reasons. Tuesday I spent most of the day in a car traveling from uni to home (and then spent most of the day Sunday making the same trek in the opposite direction). And Thursday was Thanksgiving so I think that one speaks for itself. Other than that, though, it was a solid writing week. It occurred to me on Friday that all I needed to finish up that last leg of the story is one great writing spree.

How is everyone doing? It's the last week of NaNo! That means it's time to buckle down and blast out those final words.

RTW - Balancing Writing with the Holidays

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic is: With Thanksgiving on the horizon we want to know how you balance hectic times like the holidays with your writing schedule.
I'm probably not the best person to be answering this question because I haven't written in three days (combination of getting everything ready to come home for break and stress). However, I'm hoping to go on a huge writing spree while I'm home so I can get ahead on NaNo (I'm behind right now) because the last week of November is the second-to-last week before finals (YIKES!). 
My biggest advice for writing during hectic times is write in your down-time. Even if you can only write 250 words at a time, those words add up a lot over time. And just a little bi…

NaNo Week Three Update

Total Word Count: 30,997 words
Mon: 2,605
Tues: 1,192
Wed: 2,744
Thurs: 0
Fri:  2,095
Sat: 3,860
Sun: 0

It was a good weekend in writing. I've been trying to get ahead again so that I don't feel too pressured while I'm getting ready to go home and hanging out with my family over the holidays. This is the first time I'll see them since I got up here in August, so I don't anticipate having too much time for writing this week.

Prioritize and give yourself permission if you need a day to catch up on other things. A few of my 0-word days were the result of my attempt to finish most of my homework in one day so that I could concentrate on writing later.

Even if you're normally a pantser, consider trying outlining if you're struggling to decide what to write. I have three points of view, so I outline chapters ahead so I know what's going to happen with each point of view. It helps to eliminate writers' block because I don't have to remember wher…

College: Going Home for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is next week (I know, I'm in shock too) which means it's almost time to head home for the holiday! If you're lucky enough to get the whole week off, you might be on your way home already. If you have to wait until Wednesday, I sympathize. Here are some tips on going home for the holidays.

Get homework done
You might think that you'll have plenty of time for homework when you get home, but in my experience the holidays are the worst time to try to get things done. Home is nine hours away from college for me, so going home is a really big deal. My days tend to be packed with visiting people and going out. Therefore, check your syllabi and make a list of all the homework that you should get done. Get as much of it done before you leave as you can.

Make plans with any rides/passengers early
If you're catching a ride home or taking on any passengers, make sure you get all plans set ahead of time. There's nothing more annoying than having to wait for a dr…

New Releases: Ashes of Twilight, Undeadly, Struck by Lightning

Ashes of Twilight by Kassy Taylor  Ashes Trilogy #1 Wren MacAvoy works as a coal miner for a domed city that was constructed in the mid-nineteenth century to protect the royal blood line of England when astronomers spotted a comet on a collision course with Earth.

Humanity would be saved by the most groundbreaking technology of the time.

But after nearly 200 years of life beneath the dome, society has become complacent and the coal is running out. Plus there are those who wonder, is there life outside the dome or is the world still consumed by fire?

When one of Wren's friends escapes the confines of the dome, he is burned alive and put on display as a warning to those seeking to disrupt the dome’s way of life. But Alex’s final words are haunting. “The sky is blue.”

What happens next is a whirlwind of adventure, romance, conspiracy and the struggle to stay alive in a world where nothing is as it seems. Wren unwittingly becomes a catalyst for a revolution that destroys…

RTW -- Bits of Inspiration

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic:  Share your most inspiring and/or motivational video, book, or quote on writing!
I love quotes and I have a whole collection of them. I started going through them looking for something to do this post and then I ended up not being able to decide which one I liked best. So here are a few of my favorites: 

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might has well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default. ~ J.K. Rowling

I would like to be remembered as someone who did the best she could with the talent she had. ~ J.K. Rowling

“’What’ and ‘if’ are as non-threatening as two words can be. But put them together and they have the …

Ambiguous Characters

On Sunday nights, I have a tradition of watching Once Upon a Time. If you've never seen the show, basically the evil queen curses every fairy tale character to a little town in our world. It's a fantastic show on its second season.

But, anyway, my favorite character by far is Rumplestitskin. He only ever acts to his own ends and you can never tell which side he's really on. His agenda with a lot of things is unclear.

That's why I love him. I love the ambiguity of his character. I love his back story and everything that led to him becoming the way he is (no spoilers, I promise).

My favorite characters are often the ones where you can never tell which side they're on. They might do the right things for the wrong reasons or the wrong things for the right reasons. 

We love ambiguous characters because no one is always good or always bad. As Sirius said, "The world isn't divided into good people and Death Eaters. We've all got light and dark inside of us.&…

NaNo Week Two Update

Total Word Count: 18,501 words
Mon: 5,017
Tues: 1,777
Wed: 2,036
Thurs: 0
Fri: 2,127
Sat: 0
Sun: 0

I've been in a big slump. I have a rough idea of things that I want to happen, but no idea on how to make them happen. I've been busy with a lot of schoolwork, reading, and friends. Hopefully getting back into a class schedule through this week will help me get over my sparse weekend.

This Week in Tweets:

Starbucks. Gingerbread latte (may be my new favorite). Two hours until my next class. Time to write! #amwriting #NaNo

Just hit 10k! Maybe I should do caffeine-fueled writing sprints in Starbucks more often... #NaNo

Note to self: Telling friends that "my characters aren't talking to me" might make them find me insane.

I'm ahead in #NaNo, but behind on homework. Shows where my priorities are, doesn't it? #muststudy #wanttowrite

Word count for today: 0. I did, however, get quite a bit of homework done.


At the end of every writing session, leave yourself …

Going to College in a Cold Climate

I'm so far north that half of the locals have Canadian-sounding accents. So when it comes to winter, it hits us hard. We got our first snow a week ago so I figured that now might be a good time to talk about how to handle the cold winter months.

1. Dress in layers
There are times up here when it'll be negative outside and then about seventy in the classrooms. (I wish I was kidding. I'm not.) The best thing to do is dress in layers. When I'm going to class, I generally wear a T-shirt or light long-sleeve shirt, a sweatshirt, and a thick winter coat. There will also become a point when I'll start wearing Under Armour pants underneath my jeans. To keep your feet warm, get a couple pairs of fuzzy socks. When I'm going to spending a lot of time outside in the cold, I wear an Under Armour shirt, a warm long-sleeve shirt, a hoodie, and my winter coat.

2. Scarves are wonderful 
I have a thick woolen Gryffindor scarf that I wrap around my neck in the winter. It's a…

New Releases: Black City, Renegade, Meant to Be

Black City by Elizabeth Richards Black City #1 In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable—they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash’s long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught, they’ll be executed—but their feelings are too strong.

When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.

 Renegade by J.A. Soulders The Elysium Chronicles #1 Since the age of three, sixteen-year-old Evelyn Winters has been trained to be Daughter of the People in the underwater ut…

RTW: Best Book of October

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic. 

 This week's topic:  What's the best book you read in October?
I thought about just skipping RTW, but I'm kind of hoping that this confession encourages me to actually start reading. 
I have a confession to make: I didn't finish a single book for fun in October. It's been a very crazy month all around and reading just hasn't been in the cards. Instead, I think I'll talk about the books that I started reading but haven't yet finished...
A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin This looks to be promising a very epic second installment to the series (yes, I am very behind) and I'm really excited about it. I only stopped reading because of the arrival of:
The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling 

NaNo Week One Update

Word Count Total: 7,492 words
Day 1: 4,180 words
Day 2: 1,304 words
Day 3: 2,008 words
Day 4:       0 words

Tweets from This Week: 
Wrote almost 500 words at breakfast! I was planning to write at lunch but then I remembered I have a lab report due tomorrow...

I need to get one of those screensavers like #Castle has that says "You should be writing" scrolling across the screen…

It's really frustrating when my killer can't decide who to target next. #NaNo #murdermystery

Time to watch the end of Avengers and write. Word count today is 0 and that needs to change.

I'm to the point in my #NaNo where I'm staring at the screen asking "What happens next?"


1. Write whenever you can, wherever you can.Even if it's just for a few minutes, just get the words down.

2. If your target word count for the day is too daunting, write in short sprints. My target for each day is 2,000 words so when I'm struggling I do sprints of 250 words. Breaking the lar…

New Releases: The Lost Prince, Venom

Sidenote: Happy first day of NaNo everyone! If you're participating, I hope you have a very productive first day of writing. The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa  The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten #1 Don’t look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.

That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’d dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

Venom by Fiona Paul Secrets of the Eternal Rose #1
Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: wit…