The Cursed Hunter| Book Review

Hello there! I just read the newest book in The Stolen Kingdom series, and it was wonderful. This novella was one of my most anticipated reads of 2020, so I’m excited to share my thoughts. Thank you, Merie, for sending it to me! ❤

The Cursed Hunter is the third book, a novella, in Bethany Atazadeh’s The Stolen Kingdom series. Each book in the series retells a fairy tale. The first book follows Aladdin, the second follows The Little Mermaid, and The Cursed Hunter is a loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast. The first two are about the same characters, but The Cursed Hunter features an almost completely new set of characters. I would recommend reading the whole series, but you can read this installment as a standalone if you desire. The fourth and final book, The Enchanted Crown, will have all the characters come together and the overarching plot wrap up.

The characters in this story were almost as endearing as in the other books. Nesrin was a protagonist with loads of determination and courage. When her family was drowning in debt, she stepped up and took action. She had a great attitude and didn’t give up, even when her village mocked her for her efforts in searching for a dragon’s egg. She pushed herself to climb the mountains and cliffs again and again, putting her life on the line for the sake of her family. Her adventurous spirit was a lot of fun.

The other main character, the dragon she finds… I can’t say much due to spoilers. But his point of view was super interesting! As you may have guessed, this was “The Beast” character. I wished he could’ve communicated in some way, maybe telepathically. I think that would’ve strengthened his character and bond with Nesrin. Alas, he was really sweet and I hope to see a lot of him in the finale!

The world was amazing! The dragon cliffs were fun, but my favorite setting had to be the land of Jinn. It was so vivid and imaginative–definitely somewhere I wish I could visit. There’s still more room for exploration in this place. I cannot wait to see what The Enchanted Crown will have to offer.

This was a looser retelling than I expected, but I still enjoyed the original story Bethany told. It might be important to mention, though, that falling in love is not what is needed to break the curse. That’s not to say that there’s no hints of romance, but it certainly wasn’t the focus of the book. I wasn’t super satisfied with the way the curse had to be broken because it seemed too easy/anticlimactic. However, the origin of the curse was tied to the overarching plot of the series, so I was happy with that.

Overall, this was a fast read that entertained me to the end. I wished it had been longer! The story was a splendid addition to the series and made me even more excited for the finale. 🙂

What’s your favorite beauty and the beast retelling?

Have a lovely day,

7 Deep and Meaningful MG and YA Books

Greetings! I hope all of you are doing well. Some of you are probably dying of boredom, while others have just as much to do as usual. Either way, book recommendations can’t hurt, right?

These are some books that I’ve found quite thought-provoking/deep/meaningful/wholesome. They’re the books that really resonate with you and make you think about the world around you in a different way. Many of these are dystopian, but those books really do make you reflect.

A Monster Calls


An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting – he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth.

I went into this book blind, not expecting the raw, heart wrenching story I found in those beautifully illustrated pages. I was expecting more of a thriller. I wasn’t disappointed in the least, but I thought I should throw that out there.

Conor’s story is a touching one indeed, and also very different. Prepare to cry and not be able to stop thinking about this after you finish. The dark and dramatic illustrations make the themes of life, death, and grief hit you even harder. So definitely read that edition.

A Time to Die


How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?

Parvin Blackwater has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside.

In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the crooked justice system. But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence.

What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her Clock is running out.

This entire trilogy is life-changing. The themes are super important, and the way Nadine Brandes tackles them in her books continues to inspire me as a writer. This book isn’t preachy, but it boldly woven with powerful truths. With a strong and relatable cast of characters, a gripping plot, and rich world, what’s there not to love? It stands out among the many shallow, hopeless dystopian books out there. No matter what genres you typically read, I urge you to pick this trilogy up.

The Hunger Games



In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and once girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weight survival against humanity and life against love.

At first, I wasn’t interested in reading this wildly hyped trilogy because I thought it would just be senseless killing for an entertainment. I was wrong. It is a darker read with killing and other tragedies, but it is very thought-provoking. As for A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, I have yet to read it. But I look forward to seeing what it has to add to this iconic series.

Anne of Green Gables


As soon as Anne Shirley arrives at the snug white farmhouse called Green Gables, she is sure she wants to stay forever . . . but will the Cuthberts send her back to to the orphanage? Anne knows she’s not what they expected—a skinny girl with fiery red hair and a temper to match. If only she can convince them to let her stay, she’ll try very hard not to keep rushing headlong into scrapes and blurting out the first thing that comes to her mind. Anne is not like anyone else, the Cuthberts agree; she is special—a girl with an enormous imagination. This orphan girl dreams of the day when she can call herself Anne of Green Gables.

I read this for the first time as a teenager, but I found it just as lovable. Anne’s vivid personality makes her a believable protagonist you can’t help but root for. Reading about her as she grew up felt quite nostalgic and sweet. Anne’s love for life and joy found in the simple things had me reflecting on our world and wanting to think a little more like her.

Salt to the Sea


While the Titanic and Lusitania are both well-documented disasters, the single greatest tragedy in maritime history is the little-known January 30, 1945 sinking in the Baltic Sea by a Soviet submarine of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German cruise liner that was supposed to ferry wartime personnel and refugees to safety from the advancing Red Army. The ship was overcrowded with more than 10,500 passengers — the intended capacity was approximately 1,800 — and more than 9,000 people, including 5,000 children, lost their lives.

Sepetys (writer of ‘Between Shades of Gray’) crafts four fictionalized but historically accurate voices to convey the real-life tragedy. Joana, a Lithuanian with nursing experience; Florian, a Prussian soldier fleeing the Nazis with stolen treasure; and Emilia, a Polish girl close to the end of her pregnancy, converge on their escape journeys as Russian troops advance; each will eventually meet Albert, a Nazi peon with delusions of grandeur, assigned to the Gustloff decks.

It’s been a long time since I read this book, but I remember that it was heartbreaking. This overlooked tragedy should really be taught to people. Ruta Sepetys wrote about these distinct characters in such a real way that you could never be truly prepared for the end. This is a beautiful novel that I will definitely be revisiting in the (hopefully) near future.

In 27 Days


Hadley Jamison is shocked when she hears that her classmate, Archer Morales, has committed suicide. She didn’t know the quiet, reserved guy very well, but that doesn’t stop her from feeling there was something she could have done to help him.

Hoping to find some sense of closure, Hadley attends Archer’s funeral. There, Hadley is approached by a man who calls himself Death and offers her a deal. If Hadley accepts, she will be sent back 27 days in time to prevent Archer from killing himself. But when Hadley agrees to Death’s terms and goes back to right the past, she quickly learns her mission is harder than she ever could have known.

Hadley soon discovers Archer’s reasons for being alone, and Archer realizes that having someone to confide in isn’t as bad as he’d always thought. But when a series of dangerous accidents starts pushing them apart, Hadley must decide whether she is ready to risk everything – including her life – to keep Archer safe.

This book was probably my favorite I read last year, and definitely on my favorite-books-of-all-time list. It is so wholesome and meaningful and I fell in love from the beginning. We rave about this one a lot here on the blog, but for good reason.

The City of Ember


Many hundreds of years ago, the city of Ember was created by the Builders to contain everything needed for human survival. It worked…but now the storerooms are almost out of food, crops are blighted, corruption is spreading through the city and worst of all—the lights are failing. Soon Ember could be engulfed by darkness…

But when two children, Lina and Doon, discover fragments of an ancient parchment, they begin to wonder if there could be a way out of Ember. Can they decipher the words from long ago and find a new future for everyone? Will the people of Ember listen to them? 

The most prominent way this book was meaningful to me was appreciating the world and opportunities we have. The plot and characters were fun and engaging. Despite the dark, bare setting it takes place in, the book was ultimately hopeful. I admit to crying happy tears over the lovely and impacting ending.

Thank you so much for reading this lengthy post! I hope that if you end up reading these books, they mean something to you. Have a lovely day,

Publishing young | What I learned

Publishing young is an ideal for many young writers. There is a pressure to not only finish writing a book, but to release it to the world by a self-set deadline. And some young writers, like myself, do just that. But at what cost?

Why do we feel the need to rush to publication? Because the dream of having beautifully bound pages filled with your story is an exciting one. I for one couldn’t wait to have readers to call my own. I daydreamed of fanart, book signings, and sequels. I wanted to be a published author, and I wanted to make that come true as fast as possible.

Unfortunately for my smol infp-t self, my aspirations were a bit unrealistic–especially for a fourteen year old publishing her first novel. I made a lot of mistakes and later on have realized what I should’ve done, so these are the experiences and takeaways I will bestow upon you today.

Publishing the first novel you have ever written isn’t the brightest idea.

The exception is if you wrote your first novel, wrote a few more, then came back to your first idea and majorly revised it with more experience. Even this doesn’t always work, but it can.

This can be really hard to accept, especially if you’re absolutely in love with your book and can’t understand why it should be kept to yourself. And you don’t have to keep it to yourself… let family and friends read it if you want. Recruit a team of beta readers or find critique partners to give you feedback. There is nothing wrong with sharing your story and learning and growing.

But publishing is about putting your best work out for readers to be impacted by and enjoy. Readers pay money and commit time to reading a book. If you plan to have a career as an author, you want to make a good first impression. So selling your first attempt at something likely won’t live up to their expectations for what a good novel is, and you’ll likely feel disappointed later on.

And there’s no need to. You don’t need to be young to succeed in the publishing world. You need to start writing and stay committed, but you should be focusing on learning how to write well instead of expecting to master it on the first try. Of course, you’ll never write a perfect book, but you’re fifth novel will be a whole lot better than your first. So keep on writing new books, experiment with different techniques, and find your writing voice. Learn something new in every scene you write.

Edit. Edit. Edit.

Don’t think that your novel only needs a couple rounds of edits and it’ll be good to go.

Because editing isn’t just about grammar and typos! (shocker) It takes hard work and lots of time to sort through all the plot holes, character development issues, and world building deficiencies. It would be impossible to go through your novel two or three times and catch all the errors. Shannon Messenger drafted Keeper of the Lost Cities twenty times before it was published. Her efforts and persistence definitely show.

There isn’t a need to rush through edits. Take a break between drafts and editing rounds. Give yourself time to step back and evaluate your work from a different perspective. If you scrunch all your later drafts, revisions, and edits into a two month period, chances are they won’t be very thorough.

Though you can do your best, you can’t rely on yourself for all your edits. Find beta-readers! Ask a writer friend if they want to swap manuscripts for critique. Don’t be afraid to ask for help–the writing community has got your back. Whether or not you’re publishing your book, getting advice from other writers and readers can definitely help you improve in the craft.

Recruit Professionals

At the time Hide and Seek was first released, I had done almost everything myself–the editing, formatting, cover design, and launch tour. Bad, bad choice.

I thought that I had the editing skills to make my book nearly perfect and an editor would be of no use to me. No, frens, no. I haven’t hired any editors yet, but I know now that every self-published author should get one. Your own editing, and your friends’, can only go so far. An editor is experienced and unbiased, and they are wonderful beings who make messy manuscripts shine. It is a worthy investment that I plan to make when I next publish a book.

Cover design is key. I later on realized that the cover I made on Canva sucked, so I hired a cover designer to make a new one. She made a great cover for a good price, and I totally should’ve done that from the start. People do judge a book by its cover, so don’t expect to sell a book with your amateur design skills slapped on the front. Find something that’ll appeal to your target audience.

If you’re feeling discouraged, don’t be! This seems like a lot, but it’ll be worth it. Keep on pushing through that outline or draft or editing round. Lose and find yourself in the stories that call you to put them to paper. There is no shame in being a learner or a beginner. Enjoy and savor this season in your writing life.

Stay safe, and find loveliness in the everyday things. 🙂

Author Interview: Bethany Atazadeh

Greetings! Are any of you fans of fairytale retellings? Well, Bethany Atazadeh is the author of an amazing fairytale-inspired series–and I had the opportunity to interview her! I’m so glad, because I had a wonderful time reading her answers and I think you will too.

Have you always been interested in fairytales? 

Absolutely. I grew up on Disney’s version of fairytales! The first retelling I remember reading though was The Lunar Chronicles, which was also the series that inspired me to try writing again.

The Lunar Chronicles is amazing! Are there any other fairytales you want to retell in the future?

I have a few favorites that didn’t fit the current four-book-series. Those would be fun to retell. I could probably continue writing retellings as long as people wanted to read them lol.

I know I’d want to read them! Are there any underrated fairytales you would like to see more retellings of?

I haven’t seen any Pocahontas retellings yet – that would be so cool! I really wanted to include that one in my series, but I couldn’t get the storyline to fit.

You had to do what was best for the series. 😉 Which character in The Stolen Kingdom is the most difficult to write?

Funny enough, I’d say Arie. A lot of the other characters are so different from me naturally, so they feel easier to write. While Arie is more similar, so I have to work harder to make sure she’s her own person versus an imitation of me. I don’t want to write myself into every story, so I have to take time to make sure she’s different from me and well-rounded.

I can totally relate. Great protagonists are hard to write, especially when they’re similar to you. Which character in The Stolen Kingdom is the most fun to write?

Gideon for sure! He has so much depth and also his magical abilities are fun—I feel like I‘m still getting to know him but he also feels real to me. He’s so easy to write.

Powerful, mysterious characters are really fun! What was your favorite setting to create in The Stolen Kingdom series so far?

Hmm, probably the Mere underwater world. I don’t really plot my worlds beforehand, I’ve become a “pantser” in that area, and so it was really fun to discover the world as I wrote The Jinni Key.

It was really cool to read about! I loved the little details that made the world seem real. Do you find happy or sad scenes the most difficult to write and edit? 

I haven’t noticed that either of those are harder or easier to write or edit honestly. The hardest scenes for me are the ones where I know that I have plot holes/issues, but I haven’t yet figured out how to fix them. Those drive me crazy!

Unsolved plot holes are such a pain. What was the most important thing you learned while writing your last book?

To take my time. I wanted to do “fast releases” or “rapid releases” of this series, so that readers wouldn’t have to wait to find out what happened. While I did write the first draft of the whole series, I didn’t realize how much more editing they would need. (Or maybe I did, but I just thought I could do it faster.) It was doable but it made for a lot of sleepless nights, which is not the type of author life I want to have. Now I’m realizing that if I take extra time, it lets me (and the story) breathe between edits. It lets me step back long enough to get some distance and see if it’s working. The whole experience is more fun because it’s less rushed. It’s important to enjoy the journey and not just race headlong toward a destination lol!

That’s advice I needed when I wrote my first book. Are there any common pieces of writing advice you disagree with?

I’ve always felt frustrated whenever I hear a phrase that starts with “your story has to have ____.” Whatever it is. Whether it’s a style thing, a character or world thing, a preference based thing, expectations put on us by readers, or even little stuff like a specific number of chapters… All of those things might be good, and there might be good reason for them, but sometimes breaking the “rules” makes the best art. Like how chapter one in The Cruel Prince by Holly Black has one sentence. I love that! It’s always good to learn the rules, but a story doesn’t “have to” have anything in my opinion: take creative license and write the story YOU want to tell! If anyone ever tried to tell me my story “should have” something, I’d tell them, “No, that sounds like a story YOU need to write.”

Yes, if every story contained the same elements they wouldn’t be unique! You’ve talked about how The Lunar Chronicles inspired you. Just curious… which is your favorite ship?

Haha that’s so funny because I mentioned it in the beginning. Hmm, I’m not picky, so I have a lot lol… One of my faves is definitely Kestrel and Arin in The Winner’s Curse. That’s a really underrated series! I also enjoy Jude and Cardan from The Cruel Prince series. 🙂

I haven’t read either of those series, but I also have a lot of ships! Arie and Kadin being one. 😉 Thank you so much for joining me today!

About Bethany Atazadeh

Bethany Atazadeh is a Minnesota-based bestselling author of YA novels, children’s books, and non-fiction. With her degree in English with a writing emphasis, she coaches other writers on both YouTube and Patreon, helping them write and publish their books. Bethany is obsessed with stories, chocolate, and her corgi puppy, Penny.

Instagram: @authorbethanyatazadeh
Facebook: @authorbethanyatazadeh
Twitter: @bethanyatazadeh

The Stolen Kingdom

How can she protect her kingdom, if she can’t protect herself?

Princess Arie never expected to manifest a Jinni’s Gift. When she begins to hear the thoughts of those around her, she hides it to the best of her ability. But to her dismay, the Gift is growing out of control.

When a neighboring king tries to force her hand in marriage and steal her kingdom, discovery becomes imminent. Just one slip could cost her throne. And her life.

A lamp, a heist, and a Jinni hunter’s crew of thieves are her only hope for removing this Gift–and she must remove it before she’s exposed. Or die trying.

The Stolen Kingdom is a loose “Aladdin” retelling. Set in a world that humans share with Mermaids, Dragons, and the elusive Jinni, this isn’t the fairytale you remember…

(review on my personal blog)

Have you added Bethany’s books to your tbr yet? You won’t want to miss out–these books are going places.

Also, story contest entrants: don’t forget to submit your stories by the 12th!

Have a beautiful day. 🙂

How to Create a Three-Dimensional Character

Greetings! I hope your Monday is going well. If you’re currently working on a book, or you want to see what writers do to create their characters, you’re in the right place. While I certainly can’t cover everything there is to character creation in one post, today I’m going to share some of the different areas that stand out to me the most.

One of the first steps in creating a three dimensional character is making his or her past. Every well developed character needs a backstory. Things that happened to a character in the past affect how he or she sees the world today. For example, a character who has survived a serious illness may get excited about the little things he missed out on while he was sick, like going on long walks in the morning or playing in the snow. Or they could be paranoid and afraid to go out in public for fear of catching it again. A character’s choices and reactions can usually be linked to something he has endured before. Unless he is an infant, a character has already gone through some life, and therefore has grown and adapted because of certain situations. The start of a novel is not the start of the character’s big picture journey. This does not mean that you should explain this character’s entire history to your readers! They do not need to know everything that’s ever happened to a character before. Stick to the most impactful events or ones that reveal something about the character. Those can be revealed through dialogue, thoughts, or memories. Just remember to not let it distract from the present story and bog down the pacing with irrelevant info-dumps.

Even with past growth, a character will NOT be perfect… even if he is a ninety-nine year old man at the start of the story. A character does not need to be perfect to be a good role model. A developed character makes mistakes, faces the consequences, and ultimately learns from them. The characters who are the strongest and most relatable have flaws that they struggle with over the course of the novel. Some character flaws are cowardice, anger, deceit, manipulation, pride, selfishness, and impulsive or irrational behavior. The key is for the character to develop; though he won’t reach perfection at the end of the novel, he should improve and grow stronger as a person. No one will want to read the story of a character who has zero good qualities. Sometimes flaws and strengths can be two sides to the same characteristic. A character could be confident and outspoken but sometimes prideful or unaware of others’ feelings. Another character could be humble and a good listener but too afraid to speak up and act when it’s necessary. 

Another important step in developing a character is giving him a more or less skewed worldview. Deep characters should believe something about themselves, others, or the world that isn’t true at the start of the novel. The more the character’s misbelief ties in with his past, his flaws, and his strengths, the more coherent and deep a character will be. The events of the story expose the wrongness of this belief and reveal the truth to them. For example, a character could originally believe that she is incapable of being loved. Throughout the story she could encounter characters who prove they love her for who she is and genuinely want to make sacrifices for her sake. She could also witness other characters who she believed were “better” than her making mistakes and still being forgiven and accepted. In the end she realizes that even though she can never be perfect, that doesn’t mean that she is less than everyone else and unable to be loved. This misbelief will be what a character is blinded by during the story. Other protagonists, as well as the plot, will try to challenge it.

Of course, character development is talked about over and over, but sometimes it takes a while to let it sink in and decide what aspect you need to focus on to improve your characters. I hope this post got you thinking! Feel free to share what other advice you would give to writers new and old.

Have a beautiful day. 🙂

Writing Prompts to Inspire you Today

Greetings! Thank you so much to everyone who participated in the blog tour; it means a lot to us. Today I’m going to be sharing some writing prompts I made, but I’d like to clarify that these are not for the winter story contest. These are to inspire you to write something.

I challenge you to go write a short story (or a poem, if you wish) with one of those. Don’t second guess yourself; don’t worry about what other’s would think of it. Just write.

Have a beautiful day! Happy writing. 🙂

What makes Middle Grade Fiction Special

Middle Grade fiction is often overlooked in online bookish communities. Even though some of the most renowned book series are middle grade—like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, The Giver Quartet—the rest of the genre is more or less ignored. I’ve found that many MG books are not only great for younger audiences, but teenagers and adults as well.

One thing that is usually very apparent when you compare a middle grade and a young adult book is the content. With YA books you have to be careful if you want to avoid a lot of negative content. With MG you’re safer. There may be the rare book with a mild swear word, but for the most part MG is clean.

Story wise, MG also has some factors that distinguish it from YA. This can be expected, as they are intended for different audiences, but the themes presented in MG are important for any age group. One such is friendship and everything that encompasses it: loyalty, trust, love, sacrifice, etc. MG often includes close friend groups with diverse personalities and unique relationships between them. I love reading books with this. In YA, the main character usually has a few friends, but a couple of those are most likely love interests.

MG also showcases characters working together as a team. YA tends to value independence and inner journey, where MG focuses more on others and working together. Characters learn to balance each other out with their strengths and weaknesses, solve problems together, and get along so that they can work toward a greater good.

Middle grade is also more fast paced. Going into a MG I can look forward to thrilling adventure filled with twists and turns. Though slower paced books can be just as amazing, MG books are great for getting out of a reading slump or rushing to win your Goodreads reading challenge. Their fast plots make them exciting, fun, and all around entertaining.

If it’s been a while since you’ve read a middle grade book, I encourage you to pick one up! Even if they are under your reading level, they are still fun and offer some good life lessons. Let me know if you want some suggestions! YA books are great, but MG is also special to me.

Have a beautiful day, everyone. 🙂

Ways to further Develop your Characters

Greetings! We’re already past November’s halfway point, believe it or not. This month has flown past me. I’m sad to say I haven’t been able to fit much writing in, but I hope to get some more words down by the end of the month.

If you are a NaNoWriMo participant, chances are you have already created your characters. But maybe you’re starting to realize they’re lacking depth, or you’re about to introduce a new side character that you forgot to create a background for earlier. The point is, character development is one of the most important parts of a book, and thus should not be overlooked!

Here are four ways to further develop your characters.

My favorite way to develop characters is character charts. These have a bunch of different questions and categories to fill out about your character, ranging from their biggest fear to their favorite rainy day activities. I personally use this one, which I found on Google but could not locate the original creator. Please let me know if you know who created this so I can give credit!

Image result for character development chart

Character interviews are another good way to get to know your characters better. Have your family or friends give you some questions for your character to answer. It’s even better to sustain a conversation with the interviewer and your character. Ask the interviewer to ask more broad questions, so your character has to explain something rather than give a simple yes or no.

Roleplaying is a valuable and fun method. I just recently started roleplaying with my writer friends, and it’s been a lot of fun! The key thing to remember in this is to put your characters in situations that will actually help you develop yours character and not just waste of time. Try introducing them to characters that are nothing like them, have them face off against monsters or dragons and see how they respond, or initiate a deep conversation. As a bonus, this is a good way to get more info on your friends’ writing projects! 😛

I haven’t done much of this next one, but I definitely plan to. That is to write important parts of your character’s backstory. Even if you already know important events that happened in his or her past, it is helpful to actually write them! This will help you understand your character so much more. Let these scenes affect how your character responds to things today and impact their life… for better or worse. *mischievous grin* It is important to know your character’s past, even the details that readers never get to learn.

I sincerely hope these methods help you create believable and well-rounded characters! Best of wishes in your writing pursuits. Have a beautiful day!

Fall Book List

Greetings! Somehow it’s already November, and before we know it winter will be here. That means it’s time to cram in some last fall reads before Christmas takes over everything. (Thanksgiving gets overlooked a lot, don’t ya think?) Some of these are series and others are stand alones.

1. Lockwood & Co.

If you follow my personal blog, you would know how much I adore this series. It’s about a group of teenagers who work together to fight against the ghostly epidemic that has plagued their alternate-England, one ghost at a time (or sometimes more of they use their handy magnesium flares or Greek Fire).

This series always gives me cozy fall vibes. There’s lots of tea, sweaters, and chilling adventures with the amazing Lucy, Lockwood, and George. And let’s not forget Stroud’s atmospheric writing style. *Sighs contentedly* Rereading these books makes me feel like going to visit close friends.

2. Fawkes

Today is actually Guy Fawkes day! Which makes it the perfect time to read Nadine Brandes’s magical retelling of the gunpowder plot, told from the perspective of Thomas, the son of Guy Fawkes.

This story is absolutely enchanting and is such a cozy read. I read it last winter and I can’t wait to reread it soon. Once again, this takes place in an alternate-England… Can you tell I love England? XD

3. Heartless

I’m pretty sure this takes place in fall, but I’m not sure? It reminded me of fall… maybe because of the whole pumpkin aspect of the plot.

Heartless is a retelling by Marissa Meyer. The story follows the Queen of Hearts and shows how she became who she is. This story was amazing and sad and precious all at once. Also: Cath, aka the future Queen of Hearts, is an aspiring baker. How cool is that?

4. In 27 Days

If you’re a contemporary fan, this one is for you! I have no words to describe this book. It’s sad, but also happy and hopeful and sweet and thrilling and wholesome. XD I devoured this book twice in the same month. Once you start reading, I can guarantee it’ll be impossible to put it down. This book is powerful and deep and more people need to read it!!

Oh yeah, this also takes place in the fall. It includes a cozy coffee shop, delicious hot cocoa, and a crazy and vibrant thanksgiving dinner with a huge extended family. 😃

I hope you decide to give something on this list a try! All of these books have a special place in my heart, and maybe they’ll end up becoming some of your favorites, too. ❤️ Have a lovely day and enjoy the rest of this fall!

How to get Excited about your NaNoWriMo Project

NaNoWriMo–or National Novel Writing Month–is quickly approaching. For those who aren’t familiar with it, NaNoWriMo is an annual event where writers across the globe try to write a novel during the month of November. It is difficult, but with the support of your writing pals, it is a possible feat.

However, many NaNoWriMo participants spend the month of October (known as Preptober in the writing community) brainstorming, researching, and outlining their novels. This can be very important, but for some of us it’s easy to get bored or discouraged with all this pre-writing work. When it comes time to actually start the novel, you may be burnt-out and unmotivated. The original excitement you had when you thought about your novel may have faded.

I have a few fun ideas that will hopefully get you excited about your story again.

1. Create a Playlist

Create a playlist of music that reminds you of your novel. What songs do you imagine playing during certain scenes of your novel? What would be each character’s theme song? Find songs that match the feel of your novel and listen to them when you’re feeling uninspired. Even if you can’t write and listen to music at the same time, you can listen to it in the car, while you’re going on a walk… hopefully it will get you thinking about your novel. Just listening to the music could spark some great ideas! I know this method really gets me in the mood to write my novel.

If you can’t find any songs that match your book, there are tons of great instrumental sound tracks in all kinds of genres that might fit the mood of your novel.

2. Make Collages

I also love this one! Try making collages for your story–whether they are for specific characters, scenes, locations, or the book as a whole. Making these can even help you develop these aspects of your novel even more.

You can do whatever you want with your collage, but one great way to use it is as a phone/computer background. This way, it can constantly remind you of your story and hopefully inspire you to write.

Here is an example of a character collage. I made this for Amara Clark, the main character of my novel Hide and Seek.

3. Create a Book Cover

Even if you don’t plan to publish your novel, book covers are fun to make and help you envision your novel as an actual book. Making fun covers for my book got me really excited to write it, even though I didn’t end up using those covers.

If you aren’t confident in your graphic design skills and are looking for something simple and straightforward, I would recommend using Canva. You can choose a book cover template, add your own title and name, and change the image (if you want).

4. Talk to your Friends about your Novel

This is especially helpful if your friends are also writers! Talk to your friends about your story and get excited about it together. Your friends can also be your brainstorming buddies and end up giving you some great ideas you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise! (Thanks, Merie!) Their encouragement and support will be very important in your writing process… especially during NaNoWriMo. They can motivate you to keep going even when you feel like your novel is a disaster.

5. Let Yourself Take Breaks

If you push yourself too hard and CONSTANTLY force yourself to work on your novel, you’ll probably be very exhausted and uninspired. Let yourself take breaks. Read books you’re excited about or reread your favorites. Try new things. These things can let you rest for a little and give you the inspiration to continue creating your novel.

That is all for today! I hope these methods will get you excited about your novel. For all of you who are participating NaNoWriMo… I wish you success!