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February 2019

    Book Reviews

    Book Review: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

    Not Worth The Hype | 2.5 Stars

    Here’s my Goodreads Review

    During the summer of 2018, I stumbled into my campus’s Barnes & Nobles, looking for the book recommended because I wanted to find a story written in multiple POVs. I spent $11 on The Young Elites.

    However, my friend told me that she couldn’t get past a good 1/3 of the story because of the MC’s narration. I ignored her comments and dove right into this book.

    It took 4 months. 4 long months for me to finish this story. Two DNFs. I finished reading the Young Elites.

    *sighs*

    Young Elites is one of those Young Adult stories with the “Chosen One” tropes. The main character, Adelina, is the only one in her family with the remnants of a blood fever that took her mother. Her sister, Violetta, contracted the disease as well, but she did not have the markings like Adelina. After discovering her powers, she is taken on a journey.

    A lot of Goodreads reviews hyped this story up. I was excited to read from the point of view from a darker character and she’s a girl? she’s a POC? and she’s a badass?

    I’m sold.

    However, it took me 4 months to finish the first chapter. Not only from the story itself, but I’m in college and I have a tough time getting past the first chapter of a story.

    What I Like:

    1. Diversity
    2. Multiple POVs
    3. Names

    I truly believe in diversity in literature because when I was younger I would read stories where the characters looked the same, acted the same, and were the same. One of the reasons I write is because I want to create diverse characters.

    Marie Lu is phenomenal at creating diverse characters. I was not expecting that much diversity, so I was surprised. I think most of the characters are not straight. Most are of various skin tones.

    When I first bought The Young Elites, I was rewriting one of my stories and needed to read up on multiple points of views. It’s not easy. Trust me, I spent many nights, scratching my head, trying to figure it out. Marie Lu tied the story together cohesively with her use of multiple POVs. I especially liked Teren’s narrative.

    I’m a sucker for creative names. Names ending in A’s are on the top of my list. Adelina, Violetta, Giulietta, but Raffaele is my favorite. It’s so unique.

    Beyond this point, there are a lot of spoilers. 

    Read more…

    Astrology

    Mercury Retrograde

     

    Yes, it’s that time of year again. Well, it’s one of the three times of this year that Mercury will retrograde.

    If you haven’t heard of Mercury retrograde, then you’re missing out on a lot. Not much, but welcome to my world of astrology.

    What the hell is a Mercury Retrograde?

    In astrology, Mercury is one of the main planets and represents anything under communication and some technology. I will dive into the background of Mercury in a later post, but for right now, Mercury is the planet over communication.

    Mercury goes into retrograde three times a year. In 2019, those dates are

    • March 5-28 in the sign of Pisces
    • July 7-31 in Leo, then scoots back to the sign of Cancer
    • October 31-November 20 in the sign of Scorpio

    During these dates, the planet Mercury will be going into retrograde, which is when it appears to be going backward, but it’s still moving. This lasts about 3 weeks, almost a month sometimes. During these retrogrades, time and communication become a little off.

    In astrology, Mercury represents communication, writing, books, short trips, studying, transportation, and siblings. Mercury rules over the signs of Gemini and Virgo and the 3rd and 6th houses. Mercury is a practical sign, who needs evidence.

    During Mercury Rx, it’s likely that technology will go out, miscommunication, losing and forgetting things, and any technology barely hanging on is likely to not last the retrograde. Also, for the love of God, please do not sign a contract. 

    But this Mercury Rx will take place is the dreamy sign of Pisces. Mercury goes detrimental in Pisces because Pisces are in the sky, dreaming. Mercury likes to stay grounded. This time you’re more likely to have weird dreams, to be misunderstood, and can daydream way more than usual.

    What not to do in Mercury Retrograde?

    Panic.

     

    Don’t Panic Like Spongebob / Giphy.com

    Panicking and putting your life on hold is not what Mercury Retrograde is about. Whenever I tell anyone who isn’t into that interested in astrology about Mercury Retrograde, they panic.

    You’ve been in plenty of Mercury Retrogrades before. It takes place 19% of the year. Retrogrades are times for us to reflect and slow down. Mercury Retrogrades give us the time to reflect and learn.

    Here are a few things I’ve heard NOT to do during a Mercury Rx:

    • Sign contracts (if you do please read the fine print)
    • Start new projects
    • Argue with partners (miscommunication)
    • Make a huge/life-changing decision
    • Bring up past situations or people
    • Buy brand new technology
    • Launch a huge project, such as a website, PR campaign, etc.
    • Beginning anything related to communications
    • Travel without detailed planning
    • Impulsive buy things

    In simplest terms, anything Mercury represents will go backward or become a challenge. Of course, if it is an emergency, then go ahead, but take caution.

    Be Prepared & Cautious:

    You can expect:

    • Any old technology holding on, not lasting
    • Your ex calling back or old friends popping back into your life
    • Losing random things at the worst time
    • Miscommunication (and tons of it)
    • Buying something, then it going on sale after the Rx is over
    • Delays in travel
    • Emails not sending
    • Package delays

    My Experience:

    So during the last Mercury Rx of 2018, I tried starting a blog during that time. I ended up deleting and clicking something on WordPress that I could not undo because I didn’t read it. I didn’t take my time and ended up spending two additional hours doing the following: searching through forums to fix it, demanding a refund, and scrambling to find my drafts. $95 down the drain, no posts up after a month of preparing, and me feeling stupid.

    During Mercury Retrogrades, I take caution toward technology, double check any message I want to send, and do not start any project idea I have. This time period is to complete what you finished.

    Here are some positive things you can do during Mercury Rx:

    • Finish that project you’ve been putting off
    • Reflect and meditate
    • Review your communication skills
    • Back up your files
    • Use your intuition
    • Reread your essays, emails, etc.
    • Double check your travel plans
    • Make checklists
    • Reevaluate your commitments

    Pheobe from Hey Arnold. / Giphy.com

    Mercury Retrograde is only as bad as you make it. This is a great time to reflect and finish business. It’s the perfect time to complete that book you wanted to write or have that conversation that you’ve been wanting to have with someone.

    Novels, Writing

    Why I Stopped Writing on Wattpad


    Let’s Go Back To 2015. 

    I’m a high school sophomore, wearing a combination of purple and black, and just received an upgrade. Though it was my mom’s old iPhone 4s, it was better than an Android. (No offense to all Android users out there.) I finally downloaded this bright, orange app my best friend keep telling me about. They wrote stories, but I was too scared too.

    (Look, I’m afraid of a lot of things, but that’s another blog post for another day.)

    It took me about three months to actually publish anything on the app. I was petrified. I posted the first draft—or what I thought was a draft—on November 8, 2014. That’s probably not the exact date, but that’s the date I came up with.

    Fast forward to my second semester of college, I gained over 1 million reads combined for all my stories (5-6 altogether), became a featured Wattpad author, and accomplished all my goals I set forth as a pretentious 15-year-old girl.

    But several months after having such a high, I quit Wattpad. I finished a scattered, first draft mid-August and tried to salvage an old story idea that couldn’t be saved no matter what during NaNoWriMo. Then a month later, slowly all my work disappeared one by one. 

    Guess who did that?

    Yours truly.

    Paramount Pictures/ Giphy.com

    Yes, I know that I had accomplished so much on Wattpad. I truly am grateful for the years I spent on Wattpad. It taught me so many valuable skills, such as graphic design, marketing, consistency, online writing, personal branding, networking, and of course, writing. Forever grateful.

    But I had been on Wattpad since 2015. The website went through many changes and so did I. I grew out of the website and no break could regruivate my energy to write.

    I was stagnant.

    While writing in high school, I only read stories on Wattpad.

    Tragic. But my writing skills were fitting the style of more popular Wattpad author. Might I also add that I wasn’t a Wattpad Star or in the Wattpad Futures program. I was a regular author, who wrote the first drafts of my original stories, with plans to publish traditionally, and did not follow any of Wattpad trends, such as ‘bad boys’ or ‘Harry Styles Fanfiction.’ Instead, my stories did not follow a simple popular cliche.

    I felt like an outsider on Wattpad.

    Because I didn’t write what was trending on the website, so in order to gain any attention, I had to submit. Original ideas are difficult to find on Wattpad. Wattpad is known for their fanfiction and bizarre stories, so any original, decent story is going to be in the pile beneath them.

    It was hard to gain any readers from writing original content, especially with the later updates. I left only about a couple of months ago. My story when from gaining about anywhere from 250-500 readers daily on my biggest story (at the time gained 400k reads) to about 50 or less a day. My other stories still did not have that many readers.

    In April-May 2018, I was a featured author on Wattpad, which shot my books up on the rankings. That was the only reason I gained some more readers, even then, my account became a plague of rude, demanding comments. I was block or “mute” several people a day. Wattpad drained me a lot and I needed to step back while I managed school—my freshman year of college.

    For every pro, there is a con.

    Again, I was not a huge author, so I did not get much attention after that. I knew that. To make things more difficult, Wattpad changed their algorithm, which fought against me, a few times right after. The new ranking system excluded genres of books and uses hashtags to rank the stories. On one of my rants, I said that something similar to “When I walk into Barnes and Nobles, I do not search for ‘bad boys’ instead, ‘Young Adult’ or Fantasy.”

    However, later on, that year, I managed to place on the Watty’s Longlist, an accomplishment that my sixteen-year-old self yearned for. Amazing. I finally achieved everything I wanted. Then, I lost readers. I continued posting new stories for a while, but with school, I couldn’t update weekly like I used to do in high school; I tried. However, I finished another short story, another first draft, and 10 short chapters of a new story.

    So at the beginning of the year, I took it all down. I had no more passion to continue to write on Wattpad.

    Funny Cat Gif/ Giphy.com

    Moving On.

    Writing on Wattpad really is another style. It’s hard to explain, but it isn’t even similar to writing a manuscript. Readers on Wattpad more than likely use their phone to read stories, so you can’t dive into deep details or complex prose. Most of my chapters did not have a beginning, middle and end. My main goal was to churn out 2,000 words, have decent grammar, and create a push in the plot line.

    I wasn’t growing as an author. Many people who have followed me for years, commented on how much I’ve grown, but still I wasn’t ready to query.

    It wasn’t until the summer of 2018 I realized I had to buckle up. I stripped back all my plot lines and story ideas to mere outlines. I jotted down every idea I had (a total of 28 aside of my concept album ideas). Then, I learned about the publishing industry. I spoke to literary agents and authors, contacted anyone who had the job I wanted, learned from them.

    My ultimate goal in life is to become a traditionally published author. 

    I realized that I had to make the sacrifice of taking my works down. So, I waited until the winter, in December, to take them down. I owned the rights of every single one of those stories. I spent hours crafting them and I had every single right to them.

    My books are my children. My guitar is too. I will do everything to protect my stories and also push them to the spotlight they deserve.

     

    If you want to check out my current WIPs that I’m working on, this is where all my pages are.