Books To Fall In Love With – A Book Rec List

Ah, Valentine’s Day, one of the best or most forgettable days of the year, depending on your point of view. With capitalism aside, I see the value in a day to celebrate love, and those we hold most dear. The notion is not lost on this hopeful romantic, to say the least. Which is why I come bearing book recommendations. Below, you will find a list of books that I adore which contain relationships that showcase various forms of love, including but not limited to – platonic, romantic, and familial. Perhaps you’ll find a book to enjoy on this day of love. If not these, then what are your favorite novels about romance? Let me know in the comments below. Otherwise, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Stand Alone Novels

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

“Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.”

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

“It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.”

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

“A tale of gods, kings, immortal fame, and the human heart, The Song of Achilles is a dazzling literary feat that brilliantly reimagines Homer’s enduring masterwork, The Iliad. An action-packed adventure, an epic love story, a marvelously conceived and executed page-turner, Miller’s monumental debut novel has already earned resounding acclaim from some of contemporary fiction’s brightest lights—and fans of Mary Renault, Bernard Cornwell, Steven Pressfield, and Colleen McCullough’s Masters of Rome series will delight in this unforgettable journey back to ancient Greece in the Age of Heroes.”

My review for this book can be found here.

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

“Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.”

What If It’s Us by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli

ARTHUR is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

BEN thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them . . . ?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t nail a first date even after three do-overs?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?”

Picture Us In The Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert

“Danny Cheng has always known his parents have secrets. But when he discovers a taped-up box in his father’s closet filled with old letters and a file on a powerful Silicon Valley family, he realizes there’s much more to his family’s past than he ever imagined. Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD and his family’s blessing to pursue the career he’s always dreamed of. Still, contemplating a future without his best friend, Harry Wong, by his side makes Danny feel a panic he can barely put into words. Harry and Danny’s lives are deeply intertwined and as they approach the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that shook their friend group to its core, Danny can’t stop asking himself if Harry is truly in love with his girlfriend, Regina Chan. When Danny digs deeper into his parents’ past, he uncovers a secret that disturbs the foundations of his family history and the carefully constructed façade his parents have maintained begins to crumble. With everything he loves in danger of being stripped away, Danny must face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him.”

The Importance Of Getting Revenge by Amanda Abram

“Seventeen-year-old Lexi Turner has just been dumped by her boyfriend of three years—on the day she was going to, well, “do it” with him. And to make matters worse, he dumped her for a life-force-sucking demon!

Devastated by this turn of events, she decides there is only one way to deal with the situation: get revenge!

Enter Jase Holloway—Lexi’s former childhood friend and adversary to her ex. The plan is simple: somehow talk Jase into pretending to be her boyfriend to make her ex-boyfriend jealous, make him regret dumping her and make him come crawling back to her on his hands and knees, begging for forgiveness…

With Jase on board, Lexi is confident she will get the revenge she deserves. But nothing’s ever that simple, and Lexi soon finds out firsthand that sometimes what you want is not always what you get—and sometimes what you get is what you wanted all along.”

Parts of a Series

Wolfsong by TJ Klune

“Ox was twelve when his daddy taught him a very valuable lesson. He said that Ox wasn’t worth anything and people would never understand him. Then he left.

Ox was sixteen when he met the boy on the road, the boy who talked and talked and talked. Ox found out later the boy hadn’t spoken in almost two years before that day, and that the boy belonged to a family who had moved into the house at the end of the lane.

Ox was seventeen when he found out the boy’s secret, and it painted the world around him in colors of red and orange and violet, of Alpha and Beta and Omega.

Ox was twenty-three when murder came to town and tore a hole in his head and heart. The boy chased after the monster with revenge in his bloodred eyes, leaving Ox behind to pick up the pieces.

It’s been three years since that fateful day—and the boy is back. Except now he’s a man, and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them.”

The Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo

From Book 1: Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums. 

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.”

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

“Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom. Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.”

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulhurst

“Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile kingdoms.

But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a land where magic is forbidden.

Now Denna has to learn the ways of her new kingdom while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine, sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, they discover there is more to one another than they thought—and soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.

The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater

From Book 1: Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.

His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.”

Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe by Benjamin
Alire Sáenz

“Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.”

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

“Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.”

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On Finishing The Outline For My Novel In Progress

I conquered another vast landscape on my journey towards a published novel – I have completed my outline! Writing it and molding it to be what I needed took the better part of January, as well as the first few days of February. Minor adjustments will be made as necessary, but it is now finished.

Within the writing community, perhaps due to NaNoWriMo, there are a couple of popular adjectives floating around which describes what sort of writer one is. Some identify as “pantsers”, while others as “plotters”. At one time, I had been the former. After having gone through what I did in the last month or so, I can say that it will no longer be the case.

When I began forming the idea for the book that I will begin writing soon, I never imagined that I would have been able to have a fully-fledged outline written in the time that I did. For so long, it seemed that the trick to making it towards the next phase of creating a book involved magic, the sort that might have involved blood or sacrifice, and some sort of complicated knowledge that I was not in possession of. However, after having traversed to where I am now, I can confirm that I needed to do nothing more than write, and research, of course.

Outlining is a process, but a necessary one, in my humble opinion. Without it, plotlines or whole chunks of a novel can be put in the wrong spot, or will not be fleshed out properly. I would rather spare myself the pain of putting work into a story before writing it, than stressing about where to go next as I write. Was outlining all sunshine and rainbows? No, it was not. It was work, just like any other part of the process that is the creation of art. However, because I toiled with the bits I was less sure of and did end up changing or deleting all together, I no longer have to worry about doing that as I write the actual manuscript.

I still have much to learn, but I am grateful to have reached this point. It was not easy, but worth it. Now, on to the next portion of my journey to publishing – writing the book itself.

Six For Sunday – Favorite LGBTQ+ Reads

Hi everyone!

I came across a blog called ALittleButALot, who hosts the #SixForSunday challenges. I love lists, so I figure I might give it a try, despite my dislike of the number six.

For today’s Six For Sunday Challenge, the topic is favorite LGBTQ+ reads. For my top picks, which will actually number in more than 6, I’ve chosen the following:

  • Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family 
    “When Wayne and Kelly Maines adopted identical twin boys, they thought their lives were complete. But by the time Jonas and Wyatt were toddlers, confusion over Wyatt’s insistence that he was female began to tear the family apart. In the years that followed, the Maineses came to question their long-held views on gender and identity, to accept Wyatt’s transition to Nicole, and to undergo a wrenching transformation of their own, the effects of which would reverberate through their entire community. Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Amy Ellis Nutt spent almost four years reporting this story and tells it with unflinching honesty, intimacy, and empathy. In her hands, Becoming Nicole is more than an account of a courageous girl and her extraordinary family. It’s a powerful portrait of a slowly but surely changing nation, and one that will inspire all of us to see the world with a little more humanity and understanding.”
  • Wolfsong by T.J. Klune
    “Ox was twelve when his daddy taught him a very valuable lesson. He said that Ox wasn’t worth anything and people would never understand him. Then he left.
    Ox was sixteen when he met the boy on the road, the boy who talked and talked and talked. Ox found out later the boy hadn’t spoken in almost two years before that day, and that the boy belonged to a family who had moved into the house at the end of the lane.
    Ox was seventeen when he found out the boy’s secret, and it painted the world around him in colors of red and orange and violet, of Alpha and Beta and Omega.
    Ox was twenty-three when murder came to town and tore a hole in his head and heart. The boy chased after the monster with revenge in his bloodred eyes, leaving Ox behind to pick up the pieces.
    It’s been three years since that fateful day—and the boy is back. Except now he’s a man, and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them.”
  • Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
    “Every life has a soundtrack. All you have to do is listen.
    Music has set the tone for most of Zoe Baxter’s life. There’s the melody that reminds her of the summer she spent rubbing baby oil on her stomach in pursuit of the perfect tan. A dance beat that makes her think of using a fake ID to slip into a nightclub. A dirge that marked the years she spent trying to get pregnant. 
    For better or for worse, music is the language of memory. It is also the language of love.
    In the aftermath of a series of personal tragedies, Zoe throws herself into her career as a music therapist. When an unexpected friendship slowly blossoms into love, she makes plans for a new life, but to her shock and inevitable rage, some people—even those she loves and trusts most—don’t want that to happen. 
    Sing You Home is about identity, love, marriage, and parenthood. It’s about people wanting to do the right thing for the greater good, even as they work to fulfill their own personal desires and dreams. And it’s about what happens when the outside world brutally calls into question the very thing closest to our hearts: family.
    Includes a link to listen to or download original songs to your computer
    Music by Ellen Wilber
    Lyrics by Jodi Picoult
    All songs performed by Ellen Wilber “
  • Autoboyography by Christina Lauren
    “Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.
    But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.
    It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.”
  • Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulhurst
    “Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile kingdoms.
    But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a land where magic is forbidden.
    Now Denna has to learn the ways of her new kingdom while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine, sister of her betrothed.

    When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, they discover there is more to one another than they thought—and soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.
    But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.”
  • Picture Us In The Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert
    “Danny Cheng has always known his parents have secrets. But when he discovers a taped-up box in his father’s closet filled with old letters and a file on a powerful Silicon Valley family, he realizes there’s much more to his family’s past than he ever imagined. Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD and his family’s blessing to pursue the career he’s always dreamed of. Still, contemplating a future without his best friend, Harry Wong, by his side makes Danny feel a panic he can barely put into words. Harry and Danny’s lives are deeply intertwined and as they approach the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that shook their friend group to its core, Danny can’t stop asking himself if Harry is truly in love with his girlfriend, Regina Chan. When Danny digs deeper into his parents’ past, he uncovers a secret that disturbs the foundations of his family history and the carefully constructed façade his parents have maintained begins to crumble. With everything he loves in danger of being stripped away, Danny must face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him.”
  • Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
    Summary for Six of Crows only to avoid spoilers – “Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .
    A convict with a thirst for revenge.
    A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
    A runaway with a privileged past.
    A spy known as the Wraith.
    A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
    A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
    Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
  • All For The Game Series by Nora Sakavic
    “From Book 1: Neil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He’s short, he’s fast, he’s got a ton of potential—and he’s the runaway son of the murderous crime lord known as The Butcher.
    Signing a contract with the PSU Foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn’t need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed.
    But Neil’s not the only one with secrets on the team. One of Neil’s new teammates is a friend from his old life, and Neil can’t walk away from him a second time. Neil has survived the last eight years by running. Maybe he’s finally found someone and something worth fighting for.”
  • The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater
    “From Book 1: Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.
    His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
    But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.
    For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.”

February/Blackathon TBR

For the month of February, I will be participating in the Blackathon reading challenge, which is being hosted by Francina Simone, Bowties & Books, and The Novel Lush. They are all awesome Booktubers, and if you have any interest in books or bookish discussions at all, I suggest taking a look at their channels! Jesse from Bowties & Books also created a comprehensive Google Doc list, for anyone needing help locating books that would meet the requirement(s) for each challenge.

It has been stated that one book can check off multiple challenges, or all of them if it meets the requirements for more than just one. So when choosing books, that is something to bear in mind. I, however, have chosen to read at least one book per challenge. Depending on how my reading goes this next month, I may add more. That remains to be seen though.

Challenge #1 is FEEL THE LOVE: Read a book (any genre) featuring romance between two black people (or one black person + a person of color).

To fulfill this challenge, I have chosen to read Becoming by Michelle Obama.

Summary –

“In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare. 

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.”

Challenge #2 is WAKANDA FOREVER: Read a graphic novel or comic series with a black or African MC.

For this challenge, I have purchased the first installment of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.

Summary –

“Lunella Lafayette is a preteen super genius who wants to change the world- but learned the hard way that it takes more than just big brains. Fearful of the monstrous Inhuman genes inside her, life is turned upside down when a savage, red-scaled tyrant is teleported from prehistoric past to a far-flung future we call today. The pair is many things, and together the most amazing Marvel Team-Up. Marvel presents…Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur!

Challenge #3 is HEAR US: ANY work by a Black or African author.

For this one, I have selected The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin.

Summary – 

“At the end of the world, a woman must hide her secret power and find her kidnapped daughter in this “intricate and extraordinary” Hugo Award winning novel of power, oppression, and revolution (The New York Times).
This is the way the world ends…for the last time. A season of endings has begun. 

It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. 

It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. 

It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester. 

This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.”

Challenge #4 is FEEL THE BEAT: Spoken word – listen to these 4 poems and share your favorite on social media or with a friend. Discuss what this poem means to you and why it matters.

Challenge #5 is MORE THAN A COLOR: We house complexity within us. Read a book starring an intersectional black character (black & LGBT, black & neurodivergent, black & disabled, etc)

For this challenge, I will be reading An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon.

Summary – 

“Aster has little to offer folks in the way of rebuttal when they call her ogre and freak. She’s used to the names; she only wishes there was more truth to them. If she were truly a monster, she’d be powerful enough to tear down the walls around her until nothing remains of her world.

Aster lives in the lowdeck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship’s leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer, Aster learns there may be a way to improve her lot–if she’s willing to sow the seeds of civil war.”

Challenge #6 is IN THIS TOGETHER: Read the group book with us! Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Summary – 

“Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about.

With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out. But she still can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.”

Well, there you have it! If you frequent BookTube or Book Twitter, have you heard of this challenge? If so, are you planning on participating? If you are, what do your Blackathon TBR lists look like? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

For more info, be sure to check out the Blackathon Twitter page!

Outlining; Or, My Attempt At Leveling Up My Writing

Outlining; Or, My Attempt At Leveling Up My Writing

I have raged against proper outlines from the moment I learned of them. I have never been a fan. In the past, I have info dumped, and then continued from there. At least, until now.

Be it the fact that I binge watch certain author YouTubers, such as Jenna Moreci or Alexa Donne, I felt compelled to work harder at my craft. At one point last year, I had almost given up entirely. Their channels, as well as others, kept me from throwing away a life long dream. But as with all dreams, there comes a point where you either have to settle for it as a mere fantasy, or bust your ass to make it a reality. I have chosen the latter.

Yesterday I outlined the first four chapters of a fantasy novel that I have been working on for a while now. By working on, I mean writing chapters or snippets, rather than outlining, when that’s what I should have been doing all along. Sure, I can get by without an outline, but that doesn’t mean I should.

Everyone works differently, of course. However, the more I prepare to write, or continue writing the books I have plans to one day query for publishing, the more I’ve realized my disorganization has affected my output and my motivation for the projects in general. That’s why this year I am sticking to firm goals and/or deadlines. It’s the only way to prepare for what I hope is a life long career of writing.

My goal for this month is to finish that outline. In February, my plan is to be tweaking said outline. Then March the real fun begins with a pre-NaNo writing month that I hope will yield a majority of my first draft. In April, I hope to finish up my first draft during Camp NaNo. When May arrives, I will be taking a breather, for various real life reasons. Once June 1st begins, so will revisions. It is my hope that by July I will be able to write a second draft. Should I do that, August will be a break month. Then comes September and October, or in other words, the months leading up to the main event – National Novel Writing Month. It is here I hope to write my final draft, unless that has already happened in September or October. In which case, I hope that during that month I will be doing last minute checks on the last draft. At some point before January of 2020, I hope to be querying, and so on.

I feel like, given the year I know I have ahead, this is an ambitious schedule. However, it is not impossible.

With that being said, every other post here at least, will pertain to some aspect of the writing process, as that is the main theme of this whole blog. I’m not an expert though, just merely chronicling bits of my life as I continue to work towards what I have hoped to achieve from a very young age. Younger me is counting on older me, so I can’t let them down.

May The Words Be With You…

It’s no coincidence that I’m making this post today, as it is after all May 4th, better known as Star Wars Day to some, or if you’re misinformed about one particular culture, the day before Cinco De Mayo, to others. As I am not the latter, I choose to identify with the former, and celebrate my spouse’s favorite fandom instead.

So, yesterday I talked about consistency, and making an effort to include writing into our everyday lives. Sometimes that can be hard to do, depending on what’s going on in your day to day activities. Still, to reach your goals, it is a must. Even if it’s only a meager couple hundred, as I’ve heard before, writing begets writing.

It’s as if the act of placing one word after the other and creating something tangible for others to see, becomes like oxygen to a flame. It breathes new life into a person’s mind, and inspires more to develop than before, when thoughts were allowed to remain more stagnant than not. I’ve noticed this in my own life, as well as others. If you’re having trouble scrounging up the barest of word counts, then here are some tips that may help igniting the catalyst of your own  imagination:

1. Keep a journal.

Everyone needs a place to spill their thoughts. While some prefer divulging their most intimate secrets onto social media, I prefer to have a place that I can explore the inner workings of my mind, without everyone and their canary chiming in. Like with Facebook, I can go look back at what I’ve written. Unlike Facebook, I don’t need to worry about my next employer or a hacker getting a hold of my private convictions.

2. Consider different points of view.

Personally, I can’t stand reading or writing in first person. It feels so constraining to me, and does not allow the reader an accurate scope of the whole story. There are a few books I have read that are exceptions, but they are rare. Most of the time, the novel merely ends up being a contrived version of what it could have been, had another point of view been utilized. This brings me to my next point.

If you’re stuck at a certain spot in your project, attempt to write from a point of view.  Even if you never include this bit into the actual completed work, at least allow yourself to see from a different perspective. Maybe, this could help you see where the plot needs to go next, or perhaps, it will help illuminate where a character needs more development. Either way, sometimes, all a person needs to move forward is a new vantage point.

3. Think of your characters as real people, rather than merely vehicles for their actions.

One thing that bothers me infinitely about certain books, is that the characters feel so contrived. Reading them is never any fun, because it seems as if their sole purpose is to keep the narrative moving. This, of course, should not be the case.

Real human beings have thoughts, ideas, fears, passions, and the list goes on. So too then, should the characters. Even though characters are not in fact real, they are meant to mimic those that are. Meaning, a writer needs to be aware of all of the qualities that their character possesses, even if one is rarely mentioned, these attributes will affect their actions at some point, in some way.

Therefore, when I’m going through my usual routines, I think about how my character would react to this or to that. I wonder, would they enjoy doing this, or would it irk them endlessly? These are the types of questions that should be answered while creating a role in a project, because it is vital to understand the character that you are trying to fabricate.

Well, that about wraps it up, for now. I hope at least one of my points will help you at some point down the road. Good luck in your writing, today and everyday. May the force be with you.

Of Returning and the Road Ahead

 

Current Time- 7:39 P.M.

Current Mood- Slightly frustrated, but determined.

Caffeine Level- Extremely low. I’m not quite sure that I can function much longer without my socially acceptable addiction.

Words Written in the Past 48 Hours- Less than 2,000. It’s pitiful, really.

So, it’s been an awful long time since I’ve logged into this blog. I feel like the last year or so has been more draining and hectic than a few others, but thankfully I survived the storm. In the time that I’ve been gone, a lot of stuff has gone on in my personal life. I’ve been working hard, as well as hardly working.

I managed to snag a job last year, in my dire time of need. I had a good run there, but some good things must come to an end. I’ve written more fanfiction, as well as sections of novels I hope to one day publish. Babies have been born, nuptials have occurred, and my little family of three has grown older. Life has continued on, with me tagging along for the ride.

Now, I’m back. I have no plans of going anywhere this time, as I crack down on myself, in an effort to progress further in my nearly non existent professional writing career. I should have done this ages ago, but the important point to remember is that I am now.

Next month is Camp NaNoWriMo, and it is my hope that I will be able to write at least 40,000 solid words on my first novel. It’s a fantasy, and something that I have been planning for ten years. The series it belongs to, I have, anyways. The actual book was tacked onto the whole series two months ago, but it is actually essential to the rest of the novels which will follow. Ah, the life of a writer.

In my quest to become a published author, I will sing and bitch about it all here accordingly, depending on where I’m at in the process of which work. Maybe one day, someone will realize how brilliant I am, and simply offer me a book contract on the spot. HAH! Now that’s just wishful thinking. However, I’ll still hold out hope.

Until next time, may your coffee be flowing, and your sleep adequate.