Personal, Uncategorized, Writing Projects

Writing Update: Listening to My Gut

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It’s been a long time since I’ve talked about my writing. With it being NaNoWriMo  and me semi attempting to do that, I figured why not write about my writing? Especially since I have no book reviews to post because of it.

So I have started a new project about an all women magical pirate crew. It’s a story that’s been in head for about a year though I’ve never worked on it before this month. I always wanted to practice writing more, do research, make outlines and aesthetics and character profiles. And then I got an idea for it and said fuck it. I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote out the first page because I didn’t have my computer at the time.

I didn’t know anything about my story other than what I mentioned here. I decided my character’s name and the plot right there on the spot, and the first time in a long time I had fun while writing. Before I couldn’t help being overwhelmed with anxiety about word choice and what people would think and outlines and profiles and research. But I was actually making it all up on the spot and loving the story and not thinking about anyone reading except myself and making me happy.

After that, I decided to continue with it. I got a navy blue notebook with a gold whale on it (I love matching notebooks with the story) and I decided to continue handwriting. I usually struggle a lot with typing on the computer, but I usually still use that as a main writing source with only sometimes using a notebook for a particularly hard scene. A computer is simply the proper way to write a book right? Not this time. I decided to go with my gut and continued handwriting everything.

No other story has flowed out so easily for me. I wrote out ten pages in a single day. I’ve never been that productive ever. Typically I can get maybe five hundred words in a day which I would guess would be a page and a half in handwriting. 

It has been amazing how shedding the conventional writing advice (using a computer, character profiles, outlines) has actually helped me. The outline especially surprises me. I have always needed an outline before. But even with no knowledge about this world doesn’t stop me. If I don’t know a name for a place I put [City Name] and continue on like that. 

I’m curious about how others have dealt with this if they’ve even dealt with it at all. Do any of you have trouble with going against the norm to find out your own path? How do you deal with it? This seems like such a small struggle, but actually listening to myself and what works for me has been my hardest hurdle in writing (and life honestly). 

 

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Book Recommendations, Uncategorized

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

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There’s a little witch in all of us.

I first knew Practical Magic as a movie first even though I’ve never watched it. Then I saw this on a list of witch books, and knew I needed to read it this Halloween season (yes this was supposed to be up five days ago don’t judge). For those who don’t know, Practical Magic is a magical realism romance book that follows two generations of women.

Sally and Gillion are sisters who are sent to live with their aunts after their parents died. Their aunts are the neighborhood witches that the neighborhood is afraid of. It follows their growth into adults then Sally’s children when they are teenagers.

The writing is simply beautiful. So often I felt like nothing was going on, but I remember thinking that I didn’t even care because of the way Hoffman wrote.

The pacing still is a problem for me, and what makes it not a five star read. When it picked up I was so relieved, and then suddenly, it ended and I was sad cause I wanted more.

The characters were so fleshed out except for the aunts. I didn’t understand why there was a prequel all about them until the end when they are finally given screen time. That’s when I understood that that was the first time The girls saw the aunts for who they are, and that I really needed to read the prequel. 

I still haven’t seen the movie, but I’m so glad I choose to read this book. It has the perfect atmosphere for Halloween without being spooky for those who get scared easily. It satisfied my craving for witches as well.

4 stars 

Author Interview, Uncategorized

Author Interview: Zoraida Córdova

Welcome to the First Annual “Trick or Treat” Blog Tour hosted by Moonlit Reads!

It has been taken place during the last 13 days of October leading up to Halloween Day. You can trick or treat along the tour finding giveaways, interviews, blurbs, and more! You can find the start of the tour and its schedule here. 

We were lucky enough to be able to interview the lovely and talented  Zoraida Córdova. She’s the author of The Vicious Deep trilogy, the Brooklyn Brujas series, and the upcoming Hollow Crown that is being published next year.Her short fiction has appeared in the New York Times bestselling anthology, Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, and the feminist witch anthology, Toil & Trouble.

How much of your own culture do you incorporate into your stories?
The magic and mythology in The Vicious Deep and the Brooklyn Brujas series is made up. The things that influenced the latter are things like food, music, and language. The gods are all named in Spanish. 
 
What made you want to write about brujas?
I always write the story I want to read. There weren’t any books about Brujas for teens and I made that my challenge. 

You’ve included the Duendes and the Cuco in your books before. Do you have any plans on using other monsters in the future?

I don’t have cucos specifically in my books, but the maloscuros in LABYRINTH LOST are inspired by them. I changed them, however, and gave them my own spin. Maloscuros are Brujxs who became corrupt and so they’re rotten and monstrous versions of who they were. 
 
I will always write monsters in my books. 
 
What genre are you most intimidated by? Would you ever write in it?
I think historical has always fascinated me but also been intimidating because I would get lost in research and what I don’t know and never actually start writing. One day! 
 
How do you stay focused on one story when there are so many other stories to write about?
 
This year has been a busy one. I typically work on more than one story at a time. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. As long as I know who the characters are and what they want, I’m fine. 
 
Can you talk a bit about the magic in your upcoming series, Hollow Crown? Will Brujas be included there as well or will it be a different type of magic/witch?
 
HOLLOW CROWN is a project I’m working on with Glasstown Entertainment. It is totally separate from any of my worlds, but the magic will be sensory and mental instead of physical. I can’t say much more right now but I’m excited for people to read about it! 
And there you have it! I hope you enjoyed our little interview and check out her books if you haven’t already (our review of Labyrinth Lost is here). And if you want to know more about Zoraida her twitter is here and her website is here.
Book Recommendations, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

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My mother dips her fingers in a bowl of white clay. She covers my face with it, blows on it to help it dry quickly. Her breath is sweet like rose punch. Then comes the coal. She traces the black of bone around my eyes, down my nose, my lips, my cheeks. We wear the face of the dead so the waking spirits feel at home.

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova is the first book in a young adult fantasy trilogy. It follows Alejandra a sixteen year old bruja who has been hiding that she has come into her powers for years. I think that’s all that’s needed going into the story. I knew a lot more and so I knew what was happening for the first fifty or more pages, and it slowed the story down a lot. 

This is an own voices book regarding the Latinx representation. There is also the bisexual love triangle. Rishi is Indian. Diversity like this always elevates a book in my opinion. It makes it feel more real.

The world that Córdova creates is rich and complex. I particularly liked the excerpts from books in their world at the beginning of every chapter. The magic was fun, the belief system felt so real, and I loved exploring Los Lagos with the characters.

The characters themselves were great as well. I loved watching Alejandra grow into herself. I loved her love for her family. Rishi, her best friend, was a fun addition. I always loved her dialogue. Nova, her guide that she’s not sure she trusts, was perhaps the most fleshed out of the main characters. The love triangle between the three wasn’t the most compelling of all time, but it didn’t subtract from the story at all.

Some parts felt a little rushed. Particularly the action and some of the emotional bits. The guilt of Alejandra and the growth of how she felt about her magic felt very repeated, especially at the end. If they would have balanced that out a little more then I think this would have been a complete five star read for me. 

4 stars

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

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There is no escape if love is not there.

I must say The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare took me by surprise. It is a young adult historical about a girl named Kit as she moves from Barbados to Connecticut to live with her aunt and her family after her grandfather passes away. It’s a culture shock from simply how the country is to the way her mother’s sister’s family lives. They are Puritans, and the way Kit was raised was rather unconventional.

 Kit struggles with fitting in and finds friends in unlikely places. The town in general disproves of her no matter how hard she tries to fit in. Eventually, she is accused of being a witch.

I did not expect this story to be what it was. I only had it because people put it on best witch book lists which I know don’t understand at all. There is no magic in this book so that’s very misleading.

It is, however, a very good puritan book. That’s not something I read often, if at all, but I actually found myself loving Kit, her friends, and her family. Usually puritans are never relateable or in any way interesting or good people, but this book makes them so.

While not my favorite writing style, I felt it drag a little, I did enjoy the story. A lot more than I thought I would when I  figured out there was no magic. The strength of this book is the romance. I haven’t rooted so strongly for a couple in a long time.

I actually looked for a sequel, but unfortunately, there isn’t one. It’s not like the ending isn’t satisfying. I simply did not want to leave the characters.

5 stars 

Book Predictions, Book Recommendations, Uncategorized

The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch

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Only bad books have good endings.
If a book is any good, it’s ending is always bad – because you don’t want the book to end.

The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch is a middle grade mystery that could be compared to the writing style of Lemony Snicket. It details the adventure of Cassandra and Max-Ernest as they uncover a mystery of a missing magician as Pseudonymous Bosch warns the reader to stop reading lest they be in danger by learning the knowledge the book contains.

I think the writing style really elevated the book. I felt it kind of dragged on in some places, but the humor helped me forgive that. It does keep the book from being taken that seriously, but I think that might be the adult in me talking. I’m sure if I read this as a kid, the idea of these two kids and their secret mission I wasn’t suppose to know about would send my imagination running.

The two main characters are smart and cute. I loved following them and their blossoming friendship. I love that Cassandra has two grandpas as well. They are all fully developed, and their mistakes only endeared them to me more.

It was a fun, fast paced read. The plot interesting and exciting. This is only the first book in five book series which I think I will pick up in the future.

4 stars

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon

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I ate pain. I swilled tears. If I could take enough in, I’d have no space left to fit my own.

The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon is an adult literary novel following as a young man pieces together how his girlfriend found herself in a cult. 

It’s written in a style I don’t think I’ve seen before. There is no dialogue. It’s written strictly as a guy trying to remember past events. Sometimes with the cult leader’s and girlfriend’s perspective. It took me a while to get used to, but it’s very interesting.

I can’t say I was invested in the characters per say, but I can’t deny I was invested in learning about how the story unfolded. It wasn’t a fun story, but it was a story I wanted to know the ending to. I did felt confused a lot. I’m not sure if I missed some themes or something in that confusion which is unfortunate.

There is terrorism in this story. Violence, pro-life extremists, and rape. Just as a warning.

Overall, I think this book was good. It’s short and quick but it packs a punch. I do think it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea though.

4 stars