September Wrap-Up & October Expectations

septwu

This month I have not exactly managed to reach my goal even though it looked so promising in the beginning, but let’s take a look at my September TBR to see what I’m talking about:

  • The Magician King and the Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman
    Was I happy to finish this series! I actually liked the second and third book a lot more than the first one, so I am glad I stuck with it. However, I know that this will never become one of my favourite book series …
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
    Someone said that I probably won’t finish it this month and well, I didn’t finish it. I read like 50 pages, but I’ve been so busy and in kind of a reading slump the second half of the month, I just didn’t get to it. Lame excuse, I know.
  • Until Friday Night by Abbi Glines
    This one was nice. It didn’t go as deep as I had hoped and the people in the book are beyond superficial, but I guess for a light summer read it suffices.
  • The Next Together by Lauren James
    I think I am one of the few people on the planet who didn’t love this. I explained why in my detailed review.

But somehow I still managed to achieve to read 5 books, just not all from my TBR:

  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
    A really good book, but not my favourite Rowell-novel.

As always, if you want to know more click on the titles for my full reviews and on the covers to get redirected to Goodreads!

10819920  19103097    23266378  ep

So, another pretty average month in terms of reading. I know that I can read more, it’s just not very likely at the moment. I am still somewhat happy with the outcome.

In other news we hit some pretty amazing milestones on the blog!! There are now more than 200 followers on the blog and more than 3,000 comments were made on the site. I love talking to you all and to see how engaged everyone is! Thank you again for making blogging even more fun!

oct

Now, there is a reason I am putting my October discussion in this post as well. I won’t have a TBR for next month because other than Frankenstein, I am out of books. Okay, that’s a lie … I do have plenty of books, but none that I feel like reading and for new ones I just don’t have the money or time right now. The job hunt is getting really intense and there is only 1 MONTH until NaNoWriMo!!!

I am not yet sure if I will participate for sure, but I would definitely like to. However, in order to do so, I have made a deal with myself that I would have to be finished with the second draft of my NaNo-novel from last year. Seen as I am still only on chapter 11 (from more than 30) I wouldn’t bet on me getting done in time, but I still hope so. Wish me luck on finishing with editing, because I haven’t planned ANYTHING for the new novel yet. It’s kind of tricky to roughly write 1,700 words per day if you have no idea what the story is about.

How was your September? Do you have specific plans for October? And are you participating in NaNoWriMo? (If you want to add me as a writing buddy, just click here!)

Beautiful People September Link-Up

I did the Beautiful People Link-Up for the first time last month (if you didn’t see my August Link-Up, you should check it out here) and really enjoyed participating. It is a monthly link-up hosted by Cait from Paper Fury and Sky from Further Up and Further In where you answer questions about your own book/characters. I talked about the premise of my NaNoWriMo novel “Break Up Buddy” the last time, but let me summarise it here again:

Raeleen broke up with her boyfriend just in time for her best friend and roommate Jemma to announce that she’ll be leaving to work abroad for a year. But Jemma wouldn’t be Rae’s best friend if she didn’t have a plan. She organises a replacement roommate in the shape of Nick Mooney, an aspiring director from England, but neglects to tell Raeleen anything about it. She finds out about it the day of his arrival and is of course not too pleased at first. Yet, after Nick finds out that Jemma left behind a self-help-book titled “Break Up Buddy” he knows exactly what to do to win over his new roommate.

Now on to the questions, which will be answered in order to get to know Raeleen a bit more!

1. They’re in a crisis: who would they really like to see right now?
Jemma! They’ve been friends since High School and if there is something exciting happening she wants to tell her. The same goes for moments of crisis. (Since Jemma is halfway across the planet now, Nick would be Rae’s default choice and if he’s not available then she’d ask her co-worker Lacey.)JemmaAlt2
2. Are they easy to get along with?
Raeleen is a bit impulsive and stubborn, but she is one of those people that hates confrontation. She will always try to get along with people, even apologise when she hasn’t done anything wrong, just to avoid tension. I think she clashes a bit with overly extroverted people sometimes, because they don’t know how to deal with her personality, but she is generally a likable person.

3. Who was the last person they had a deep conversation with?
At the current point of the story probably Nick. They are still at the getting-to-know-each-other-phase, but they try to make it work as roommates. In order to do that, they know that they have to be open with each other and talk about everything.nick
4. They’re in the middle of a huge crowd of people: how do they feel?
Raeleen is a bit anxious at first. Crowds make her nervous, but she’s actually really good at talking in front of people. She still doesn’t ever really get used to it though.

5. Do they believe in luck or miracles?
Rae believes in luck, not so much in miracles though.

6. Do they like and get along with their neighbours?
Raeleen and Nick/Jemma don’t really have that many neighbours. They would probably be able to borrow some sugar if necessary, but they don’t exchange more than a friendly “hello” on the hallway.

7. If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go?
Rae is a huge Anglophile which is why she’s so jealous at Jemma going to work in the UK and Nick coming from England. She doesn’t really get why he isn’t that homesick, because she would give anything to visit the country.

8. How do they feel about their body?
She’s comfortable with her body. Rae knows that she is not a supermodel, but she’s happy. Still, she more or less tries to blend in rather than stand out.
protagonist2

9. What is the cruelest thing someone has ever said to them? How did they react?
Rae wasn’t exactly part of the popular crowd back in High School and one time she overheard some people talking about her. They said that she was boring, because she always kept talking about the same stuff. It really hurt her, because who wants to be called “boring”? She didn’t confront them, but for a while she set her mind to proving them differently, which didn’t really work all that well but rather made her look desperate. It took her a while though to realise that she wasn’t not boring at all. In fact, Rae can be very enthusiastic about things that interest her, and that field is huge, but those kids back in High School didn’t like the same stuff. They wanted to talk about sports, make-up, fashion or about the latest parties, but those weren’t any interests of Rae. She liked books, blogging and writing. She wanted to learn about different cultures and languages and as soon as she found people with the same interests, they appreciated her ability to go on about one topic for hours.

10. What’s the kindest thing someone has ever said to them? How did they react?
“You are good.” I know it sounds very simple, but when you are insecure about what you’re doing, it makes all the difference. It really struck Rae because it was a teacher who said it during one of the improvisation exercises in her very dreaded debating class. She hated getting up on stage and arguing for her grade, but during a break the teacher came up to her, took her aside and told her that she was good at what she was doing. He said it with an odd intensity, repeating himself and looking her straight in the eyes to really make her understand. First, she blushed and even got a little angry. He only meant well, but somehow she took offense to it. She felt tears welling up and excused herself to go to the bathroom. As the wheels in her brain started turning, she realised that he only meant to build her confidence. He saw in her hesitant behaviour that she could be really good at this. She flunked the next exercise because his encouragement only made her more nervous, but in hindsight, she thought that it was extremely kind of him to single her out and tell her that he believed in her. Usually people just didn’t take the time.

So, that was it for this month. I have continued to edit Break Up Buddy, but it is a slow process. Well, I’d rather do it right and slow than rush through it and don’t actually change a thing. What are your thoughts on Raeleen? Do you think she’s someone you’d like to hear more about?

Writing/Editing Process

Hello there everyone! Doing yesterday’s Beautiful People meme really got me motivated to work on my novel Break Up Buddy again. FINALLY (after what? 9 months?) I finished reading my own story and as suspected it was terrible. The first half is pretty decent but the other one needs to go and be almost completely re-written. So far only one person has read the first draft and I don’t intend to show it to any more people until I’ve finished the second one.

The editing process is a pretty slow one, like you can’t just rush through it to be done with it. I’m glad I have my first draft, something of a structure to hold on to, but there’s still a lot to be done and I don’t have any idea how to go about it. Right now I am working through it chapter by chapter, being careful not to just copy and paste and make the same mistakes again. What about you? Do you have a system or any recommendations on how to go about the editing?

In return, and also to tell you a bit more about Break Up Buddy, I’d like to share with you some of my preparation techniques before I started writing! We’ve already established that Break Up Buddy is a ConRomCom and after figuring out the main plot (which I summarized here for you) I followed three simple steps:

Get to Know Your Character(s)

This step includes figuring out your character’s name, age, ethnicity, believes, values, occupation, appearance and so on.

My main character’s name is Raeleen Miller. She is about 23 years old, recently graduated from university majoring in English Lit and now works in a bookstore. She doesn’t have specific opinions concerning political parties, but she does have a strong moral compass of her own. I could go into depth here, but if I did that with all my characters this would take forever. My point is that I had to figure out a backstory for her before I started writing. I may not even need any of that information in the actual story, but it could prove helpful at some point when it comes to decision-making.

Also, I am a very visual person, so I need to actually “cast” all my characters. Here are some examples:

Read More »

Beautiful People August Link Up – Friendship

So, uhm, who remembers that one time I participated in NaNoWriMo and wrote something like a novel? Yeah, I know! I never talked about that ever again … After finishing the story I was all elated and happy and excited but I let it sit for a while before re-reading and editing. Turns out revision is a bitch! I don’t like it … I don’t even want to read until the end of the story because it’s just really terrible. At the same time, I don’t want to give up on the story and especially my characters altogether, but maybe I’m just too lazy for the task? You see, it’s been difficult! To get some of my motivation back I decided to do a tag called Beautiful People, which is a link-up hosted by Cait from Paper Fury and Sky from Further Up and Further In where writers answer questions about their books/characters.

The August edition is about friendship, but since you don’t know much (or anything … I wasn’t big on sharing I realise now) I’m going to explain “Break Up Buddy” (yes, that’s the title for now, maybe it’ll change) a little bit before getting to the questions.

Raeleen Miller’s world is falling to pieces when her boyfriend Hunter breaks up with her around the same time her roommate Jemma decides to take a job in the UK for an entire year. But Jemma wouldn’t be her best friend if she didn’t have a plan to help Raeleen get through this. That’s where Nick Mooney comes into play.
As a young aspiring director, he couldn’t be more excited about getting the position of first Assistant Director for a new TV show shot in Portland, now if only he had a place to stay for the upcoming months of shooting! Jemma organises for them to switch apartments, but neglects to tell Raeleen about it since she knows her bestie would be against the idea. So, it all comes down to Nick showing up in front of Rae’s door the day Jemma leaves and there is no way for her to turn him down. (She’s not mean enough to make homeless after all!)  After Nick finds out that Jemma left behind a self-help-book titled “Break Up Buddy” he knows exactly what to do to win over his new roommate.

I guess that’s sort of the main premise of the book. It’s a typical ConRomCom (= Contemporary Romantic Comedy) and if you have any more questions for me about my story, feel free to ask in the comments! But right now it’s time to get down to the Friendship questions for the Beautiful People tag!

  1. How long have they known each other, and how close are they?

Raeleen and Jemma went to High School together, even though they didn’t become friends until Senior year when they realised they both wanted to go to Oregon State University together. After sharing a dorm room at university they decided to move to Portland together and stay roommates. They share everything (well, except guys) with each other and have spent so much time together that Jemma’s move to the UK is really hard on Rae.
As for Raeleen and Nick: not very long at all obviously. The day Jemma left for her work was the day they met, but after Raeleen drops her initial resentment they become friends pretty quickly … and at some point even more?

  1. What’s their earliest memory of being best friends?

You know that feeling of being in the same class with someone but just never talking to each other? That was Raeleen and Jemma before Senior Year. They really started talking during a campus tour of OSU and realised how much they had in common. They felt pretty silly for not talking earlier with each other after that.
So, Raeleen needed a little bit of time to warm up to Nick, who really only tried to make the best of the situation. It’s difficult to say when exactly they became best friends, but the first spark was ignited through their mutual like for drinking tea with milk in the morning.

  1. Do they fight? How long do they typically fight for?

Everybody fights, it’s only normal. Rae tends to be very explosive and irrational sometimes, whereas Jemma is more of the passive-agressive type and Nick is just laid back, not taking it very seriously at all. So they quarrel a lot, but it’s mostly due to misunderstandings. They all don’t feel happy if the other one is mad at them and try to defuse the situation as quickly as possible.

  1. Are their personalities similar or do they complement each other?

Rae is stubborn, ambitious and a bit nerdy. She rarely makes the first step to meet new people, but is more the shy and self-conscious type.
Jemma and Nick on the other hand are more open. Jemma is quirky and more clumsyis than Rae. Nick is very open, makes friends fast and is generally cocky and self-confident. Rae needs them to come out of her shelf and to encourage her sometimes.

  1. Who is the leader of their friendship (if anyone)?

Nick is definitely the initiator when it comes to making plans, but I wouldn’t necessarily call him the leader.

  1. Do they have any secrets from each other?

Nick has had a crush on Rae since day one, but he doesn’t want to make their living situation awkward. Raeleen tells him everything though, she trusts him completely. There didn’t use to be any secrets between Rae and Jemma but the distance is wearing on them and creating a strain on their friendship that leads to keeping things to themselves rather than talk about them. But in the end they always tell each other the big stuff.

  1. How well do they know each other’s quirks and habits?

Insanely well! Jemma and Rae have lived together for so long, they were like a well-oiled machine. Nick and Rae are very alike in terms of what they enjoy in food, music and so on. Of course they don’t know everything about each other but they are pretty good at seeing through each other’s fronts.

  1. What kind of things do they like to do together?

Rae and Jemma: anything really. Nothing too exciting though since they are more like an old-married couple sometimes.
Rae and Nick: Watch movies, drink tea and chat about their lives and jobs and friends. There’s still a lot to discover about each other and Nick likes to push Rae out of her comfort zone sometimes.

  1. Describe each character’s fashion style (use pictures if you like!) How are their styles different/similar?

Just fyi: I “casted” my characters waaaay before I even knew about Godzilla or Avengers: Age of Ultron, so there is no correlation between Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson being in those movies and my book.

Raeleen: She likes to look casual, a bit girly but nothing too flashy. She uses very little make-up and the ponytail is pretty much her signature hair style.

protagonist3 protagonist2

Jemma: She likes to experiment a little with her style and has a lot of unique clothing items in her wardrobe. Somehow she always manages to make it look natural and effortless though.

JemmaAlt3 JemmaAlt2

Nick: He doesn’t care that much about his appearance. His hair is mostly a mess and he wears whatever he can find and is clean.

Nick_James3

   10. How would their lives be different without each other?

Jemma and Rae need the support of each other. They can be honest and often inspire each other to really go and pursue their dreams. Nick needs Rae to stay grounded and to calm down every once in a while. Rae needs Nick to discover there is a whole world out there that she’s missing out on if she only ever stays in her room.

So, I hope you enjoyed this little excursion into my writing life. It definitely helped a bit in terms of getting my spirits back up! If there are any questions left, just go ahead and ask them below 🙂

NaNoWriMo Challenge Completed!

I did it! NaNoWriMo ends tomorrow, but I’ve reached 50K and simultaneously the end of my story today! I’m now an official NaNoWriMo winner and I have the certificate to prove it.

I wrote a book! Can you believe it? I know some of you doubted it, but … I’m just kidding. You guys have been crazy supportive all through NaNoWriMo and I’m incredibly grateful for that. So, before I continue to talk about the final week of writing I want to thank all of you for being the awesome and supportive people that you are!

Now, how did the writing fare this week? I think I went totally crazy towards the end. You have to know that I write best shortly before going to bed, because I feel the need to reach my daily goal. This has worked just fine most days, but I tend to finish with a scene, turn off my laptop and go to bed and then I would just lie there, not able to sleep whatsoever. My characters kept me awake with all the possibilities of what could happen to them next. I do have a notebook right beside my bed, but I always had the fear that I wouldn’t remember what my notes meant the next day and rather turned on the computer sometime after midnight than forget what I wanted to write about.

Writing the actual ending was the hardest. I’ve made up so much of the story as I went along, that I lost sight of how I wanted it to end. I got closer and closer to my desired word count, but the finish line still wasn’t in clear sight, because I just didn’t know what to write. In the end, I knew that I wanted to have some final reference to the title (which is “Break Up Buddy”, just fyi), but I had no idea how to get there. I’m not a big fan of cliffhangers at the end of books (unless they are a series), so I wanted to tie everything up nicely and in the end I think I did that.

Also, I think I went a little overboard with the final scenes, but that’s okay, because what matters most is that I have a finished first draft! I really wasn’t sure I would make it this far and now I have something to work with, something to revise and edit. To be honest, I already forgot some of the scenes I wrote and it will be one heck of a fun to re-read and re-visit everything I wrote, because I’m sure there are some hilarious typos and plot holes in there.

Now, how did your month go? Did you participate in NaNoWriMo as well? Did you reach your personal goal? I’d love to talk some more in the comments below!

Winner-2014-Twitter-ProfileIf you want to read more about my journey during this month, click on the links below:

Participation Announcement

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

My NaNoWriMo Playlist

NaNoWriMo Week 3

So, week 3 of NaNoWriMo has come and gone. Time’s just flying by! To catch up, you can read my recap of Week 1, Week 2 and the participation announcement by clicking on the links!

Since it’s become somewhat of a routine, I’ll start with my current word count again. As of right now, my novel consists of 32,493 words and today’s goal is 36,000. So, even though I am still behind, I did catch up a little and reached my personal goal of passing the 30K mark during week three.

Week three has been a bit strange for me though. It wasn’t as dreadful as Week two, but I did feel like inspiration wasn’t exactly on my side. More often than not, I was sitting in front of my laptop, wondering what on earth I could possibly write. I was supposed to have reached the halfway point of my story, not just my writing, but I felt a little lost. By now, I think I’ve actually accomplished getting beyond that mid-point and am now looking forward to tying up all the loose ends during the next week. I have some sort of idea where the story is supposed to end, but as I am making most of it up as I go along it might just turn out a little different than I thought.

The problem with making it up on the way is that it’s easy to get stuck. You didn’t think it through and therefore have no major plot points to hold on to. During the last weeks I found several things you can do, when you have no idea how to continue your story:

  • Do something crazy! Whether it’s introducing an odd character who’ll be gone in a couple of chapters never to return again or turning your main character’s life upside down by giving him/her amnesia – just try it! I had my doubts if that would work, but it just makes writing more interesting again. The thing is, when you’re bored writing something, the reader will probably be bored reading it, so don’t be afraid of spicing things up every once in a while. It doesn’t mean that you have to leave it in your final draft.
  • Let your characters go on a road trip! Sounds simple because it really is that simple. I thought it didn’t fit my story at all, but then I kept thinking about it and just wrote it and it was fun and opened my story up for a lot of new possibilities.
  • Play the “What if” game! What if the worst possible thing happens to my character? What if my character gets exactly what he/she wants? Think it through and you might find a new angle to your story.

There are tons of other things you can do, such as writing prompts, word sprints or looking through the motivational speeches NaNo sends you every week (by authors such as Stephanie Perkins and the likes). Whatever you do, don’t give up in the last week! I know that NaNo isn’t for everyone and it’s completely up to you if you want to throw the towel or not, but I have to write about 2,000 words every day to get to 50,000 and I don’t know if I’ll make it, but I’ll definitely try!

Happy writing everyone! How are you doing so far?

NaNoWriMo Playlist

So, I just posted about how my experience with NaNoWriMo was thus far (you can read about it in my recap of Week 1, Week 2 and the participation announcement), but I completely neglected to mention how important music is for me during the writing process. Sometimes the songs are directly connected to scenes in Break Up Buddy and others just get me pumped in general, or best case scenario inspired. Below you’ll find a list of the songs I most listened to so far, which I’ll simply title my NaNoWriMo Playlist (no need to be creative all the time). Just click on them and you’ll be redirected to a YouTube video. Happy writing to all of you!

Run Boy Run – Woodkid
Like Real People Do – Hozier
War Rages On – Alex Clare
Wasting My Young Years – London Grammar
Moving On – Paramore
Shot at the Night – The Killers
It’s Okay – Tom Rosenthal
Hunger of the Pine – alt-J
Hold Me – Tom Odell
Maps – Maroon 5
Tell Her – Rizzle Kicks
You & I – Crystal Fighters
Forever Ever – Bastille feat. Kate Tempest and Jay Brown
Of the Night – Bastille
I Found – Amber Run
Rules – Nat & Alex Wolff

What are some songs that inspire you or that you listen to during writing?