Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What's Up Wednesday, #2


What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. It is run by Jamie Morrow and Erin Funk. Jamie has a link at the bottom of her post with everyone who's joining in each week. 



What I’m Reading:

I’m really enjoying my break from school and work with a ton of reading. In the past week, I’ve finished 5 books (you can check out all the books I’ve read this year on my Book List page). The most exciting reads were Under the Never Sky and Through the Ever Night. I read the first one in a single sitting, without closing the book once. And the second in 3 (twice before bed and then woke up yesterday and read until it was finished). So, so good. I can’t even handle it. I loved that the POV switched back and forth from Aria and Perry (plus, I’m a sucker for reading romantic, lovey stuff from the guy’s perspective). I loved the independent friendships they each had with Roar and the Marked senses (you know, and the ritualized tattooing; love that!). There was just so, so much that I loved. At first I was a little weirded out because my grandfather’s name is/was Perry, but I got over that quickly. Just like recently reading the Mara Dyer series, I had to exercise a ridiculous amount of willpower to NOT just start re-reading them again as soon as I finished. Those really are my favorite kinds of books.
 



I am currently reading the Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch. I got it at a Scholastic book sale on campus about a month ago. It was one of my 8 new books I got for $28. It’s in my favorite genre, dystopian, and then MC is a boy, which I am excited about. I know that the majority of books are written by men with a male protagonist, but most of the books I read are written by women with female protagonists. So, I am always excited to switch it up. I’m 5 chapters in and enjoying it, for sure, but not loving it yet. Hopefully that will come as I get further and more characters are introduced.






What I’m Writing:

AHH!! I finally was able to start writing my novel yesterday. I had planned on starting last Monday, the day after my graduation, but with packing for New York and spending time with the Sister (and last minute dress shopping for the niece’s Choir banquet, which resulted in finding half off brown riding boots! YAY!), I wasn’t able to. Then, I planned on finding a park in The City and writing a bit but it was rainy and cold the whole time I was there. Then I thought, Sunday, I’ll start Sunday. But alas, I slept all day Sunday (and finished An Abundance of Katherines and read all of Under the Never Sky). Then Monday…well, I went car shopping with Dad. So finally, after finishing Through the Ever Night, I started writing. And seriously couldn’t stop!! I wrote just over 5,000 words and 3 chapters. I am LOVING it!!!

I’m sure it’s going to take a ton of editing once the draft is done, but it feels right. If I am able to keep that pace up, I could finish at 70,000 words in 2 weeks. That won’t happen, I’m sure, but it’s a nice thought!

I’m going to try to keep most of the plot to myself until it’s written, but I’ll tell y’all what I told Facebook. The main character’s name is Quinn. It came to me months ago while I was planning but I never wrote it down because I was unsure how much I liked it. But any time I tried to change it, she just wouldn’t let me. There were a few close contenders, but they just didn’t fit. Her personality isn’t fully formed yet, but the other names I found, though I loved how they sounded, just didn’t fit her. So, Quinn it is. And her nickname will be Q. And I love that.


What Inspires Me:

I’m incredibly inspired lately by people, book characters, bloggers, anyone, embracing their flaws as part of themselves. I am LDS and there is a definite push towards perfection in the culture of the church, not in the doctrine and teachings of it. Growing up, any flaw I had was a source of shame and caused me to try too hard to a)not let people see any flaws and b)change it as quickly as possible. But all that did was increase my feelings of shame and self-loathing. Over the past 5 years or so I’ve been slowly learning to deal with my shame and change it and I’ve made a ton of progress. But lately, I’ve been really touched when I read about people, real or not, who accept their flaws and human-ness without shame and loathing. That’s not to say they aren’t working to become better, because to some extent, they are. They just don’t base their value as a person to be loved, on the existence, or lack of, flaws. I find that so beautiful.

I’m trying to accept myself more than I ever have. Even the bad stuff. And each step I take in that direction has been freeing. I want to be completely honest with myself about who I am, what I want, what I want to strive for. Each thing I do, I want it to be because I want to, not because of some outside pressure or expectation. I’ve learned a lot about inner-honesty as a therapist, and even more through the books I read, and I want more of it in my own life.

I want to share some of that on this blog as well. I’m working on some posts that will be more about me and my struggles than about reading. So, the content on here will vary a little more than it has so far. But reading and writing will still be a part of it all because those things have saved me over the past 9 months and are part of my story. So, I hope you’ll still be interested and follow along. I’m scared to be that real, but I’ve been working up to it for over a year, and I think it’s finally almost time.


What Else I’ve Been Up To:

Unpacking from New York, completing the rearrangement of my room, collecting graduation pictures from my family members, and NYC pictures from my sister. Mostly, I’m enjoying my time off. I’m going to spend my days reading and writing, with some apartment organization and cooking sprinkled in. Heavy on the visiting friends and family. I’m excited to just be me with no outside pressures. It won’t last long enough, but I’m trying to enjoy every second of it I have left.

This is the only picture I have from my graduation. We had to be there 2 hours early, which was ridiculous because we had to sit and wait to go into the Arena for over an hour. This was my reaction to having not enough sleep and being hot in the robes. See why I need to get pictures from the family?!


What about you?! What are you up to?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Big Apple!

Did you hear? I'm in New York City!! I don't have much time for blogging while I'm here, but I'm trying to remember to tweet every once in a while. I'm finally starting to figure that whole thing out. I don't have any followers that I actually know, so if you have twitter, follow me! My name or whatever it's called is: @rachreflects

I'm having a great time! Yay!!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Unbecoming and Evolution...

People.

Have you read the first 2 books of the Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin? AKA: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and The Evolution of Mara Dyer.

If you haven't, stop what you are doing right now, go to a bookstore, and buy these books. Just get them both because you will want to read the second one as soon as you finish the first one.

Seriously, I am reeling from these books. I want to start reading them again and I just finished 30 minutes ago. I cannot wait for the last book to come out.

I was so not expecting these books to be this good. I got the first one for $5 from a Half-Price Books nearby. It sat on my shelf for 2 months at least. And now all I can think is: WHY did I not read this sooner? And:

WHY WOULD ANYONE GET RID OF THIS BOOK?! But I'm sure glad they did.

I will certainly be keeping mine forever. :)

But I have a bit of a conundrum however. The Retribution of Mara Dyer comes out on October 22.

Do you know what other book comes out that day? Allegiant. WHICH BOOK WILL I READ FIRST?!?! I'm already kind of stressing out about this.

Ugh. Go read. Now! :)


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What's Up Wednesday, #1

I'm back!! It's been almost 2 weeks since my last post. But I am now done with school. Completely. WHAT?!?!

I graduate in 4 days. I'm so excited to wear that Master's Hood!!! I still have some work to finish up by the end of the week, but then I am done with everything I have to do for 7 weeks. I am so ready to get my post-Master's-break started.

I've been wanting to get on board with the new What's Up Wednesday meme started by Jamie Morrow and Erin Funk a few weeks ago.



What I'm Reading:
For the past month or so I've been re-reading some less-exciting books to keep myself from getting sucked into books when I had massive amounts of homework to do. But! With finally being done, I've been able to read some amazing books I've been waiting to read. 

First, Cinder by Marissa Meyer. SO GOOD. I can't wait to read the next one.


Then I read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin in 18 hours, with sleep and work and visiting the Best Friend in between. I could not stop. It was amazing. I am dying to read the next book and planning on forking over more money than needed to buy it from a store and have it tonight rather than get it cheaper online and waiting a few days for it to come. 


I gave myself a graduation present in the form of 11 books bought with my Amazon Prime account. I ordered them late, late Sunday night and most of them will come today. I can't wait for them to get here! Here's the list:

~Prodigy: A Legend Novel by Marie Lu
~Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, book 2) by Marissa Meyer
~An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
~The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
~The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E Smith
~Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
~Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi
~Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
~Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
~Blood Red Road by Moira Young
~Rebel Heart by Moira Young


What I'm Writing:
Well, I'm not technically writing yet. But I am starting writing my first novel on Monday. I have been planning it out in my head and on paper for the past 5 months and am finally allowing myself to begin writing Monday. I told myself I had to wait til after my graduation to make sure I still get done everything I need to. I graduate Sunday and will begin writing Monday. I just realized however, that if I am going to start writing, I better decide on names for my characters, rather than just calling them MC (main character), Boy, Bad Guy, MC's Mom, MC's Dad, etc. So I started looking last night with nothing jumping out at me yet. That's what I'll be doing the next few days. Any ideas? What are some names you love that you haven't seen in any recent books? How do you find names for your characters? 


What Inspires Me Right Now:
Mostly, I'm inspired by the excitement of finally starting my novel. But I'm also inspired by rearranging my room to better fit my reader/writer lifestyle. I can't have an office in my apartment, but I can change where things are so one side of it is like an independent office. I don't have work to do today, so after I post this I'm going to do as much as I can on my own, then finish it up when Sister gets home later. I think the changes will help open my mind to writing. I'm especially excited to re-organize my books on my bookshelf. It is completely over-filled and I need a second one, but I doubt I will get one soon. But, I'm going to organize my books according to color. I've never done that before and I don't know how long it will last, but I'm excited to try it. I like my series together, but they are rarely all the same color. Even if it doesn't stay long, at least it'll make a fun picture! 


What Else I'm Up To:
I have the best sister in the world. Have I mentioned that? After I got home from my 18-month mission for my church, she took me on a cruise to celebrate being home. Amazing. Well, to celebrate my graduation, she is taking me to New York City! She has a work training there starting Monday that goes through Wednesday. So her flight is covered by her company as well as the hotel through Wednesday. I am coming up Tuesday afternoon and we are staying until Saturday. I've never been to NYC and I am dying of excitement! We don't have a ton of money to do a lot, but we are very laid back vacationers. I mostly just want to people watch and relax. See the city, but without spending much money. So, with that in mind, have you been to NYC? Is there anything you would recommend doing? Delicious restaurants? Bookstores? 


In other news, remember this post where I explained that my computer died and I would lose everything? Well, I did lose everything, but I finally got it back. It is such a relief to have it again. Part of why I didn't post was because I missed my little MacBook and didn't like blogging from my old laptop. I still have almost nothing on it. No pictures, no music, no documents. But I'm sure it will fill up again very quickly. 

So, what's up with you?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

There are no words...except, ****!

Something horrible has happened. 

My 4-month-old, never been dropped or assaulted with water MacBook recently died. Frozen on the gray screen of death (apparently the PC's blue screen of death is gray for Macs, BTW).

What. The. **** (insert which ever four-letter word you think appropriate).

I took my beloved laptop to the Apple store the other day and they said there's something wrong with the hard drive and the only way to fix it is to clear it and start it over. 

I don't have anything backed up. 

****!!!

I wasn't too concerned at first, because most of the documents I can access again through my sent mail on gmail or here. I luckily didn't have much that I'd written that I couldn't get back from elsewhere. 

I was upset about it, of course, but I could handle it.

Then.

I was texting Sister and explaining what happened and realized...

I had a lot of really important stuff saved in the little yellow notepad thinggy that I will lose. 

Important stuff like:
My TBR list, that had something like 50 books on it
Some brainstorming ideas for my novel (that I get to FINALLY start writing in just over 2 weeks!)
Ideas I've had for other books
And some other stuff that I don't remember but feel sure was important

Again, I say: ****!

The only good thing in all of this is that because the computer was only 4 months old, it is still covered in the warranty, so I don't have to pay anything.

One of the most frustrating parts, you know, besides losing everything from the past 4 months? They couldn't even really tell me what happened! Just that hard drives have moving parts and it's common for them to get messed up. What?

And the only thing I can do to try to prevent it from happening again is to not get it wet (DUH!) and to power it down when I move it. 

That's it? 

Moral of the story: 

BACK EVERYTHING UP!!! 

I should have learned that lesson 8 months ago when my iPhone got wet and I'd never backed anything up and I lost everything. But no, I didn't learn my lesson. 

I'm going to get either a 32 GB thumb drive thing or an external hard drive and back that thing up like there's no tomorrow. 

Please do the same, dear readers. I would hate for anyone else to lose stuff like I did.

But, what I need from you is this:

What books should I add to my new TBR list? There's no way I can remember them all, so tell me what your favorite books are, or books that you are excited to read so I can start over. 

Thank you in advance!

And again....

Ugh.

And, ****!!!