Category Archives: Features

Keep Fighting

Trigger Warning: Physical, Emotiona, & Verbal Abuse

My parents divorced shortly before I turned eight. Despite a history of alcoholism and a history of abuse against my father, the court granted my mother primary custody of me. That was the start of 13 years of constant physical, verbal, and emotional abuse at the hands of my mother. I was punched, slapped in the face, and had my hair pulled. I was told numerous times that I would never amount to anything, that I was a failure, and that I would never be good enough. More than once my mother threatened to kill herself in front of both me and my younger sister and told us that it was our fault. As if my mother wasn’t bad enough, I was also dealing with a stepfather who didn’t know how to keep his hands to himself.

At the start of seventh grade, after we moved from Western New York to Greensboro, North Carolina, I found myself not only struggling to deal with the abuse I was suffering at home, but also struggling to come to terms with being a lesbian. I saw others in the LGBTQA+ community being mistreated at school and as a result I feared that my orientation would get out and I too would become a victim of homophobic harassment. So I did my best to hide, going so far as to lie to myself and making a few poor decisions in an attempt to prove to myself and to others that I wasn’t gay. At home I feared my mother’s wrath and as a result would frequently lock myself away in my room. I was also struggling with being so far away from my dad.

As a result of the situation I was in and the things I was struggling with, I ended falling into a deep depression and eventually began self harming. The self harming started more out of a desire to punish myself than anything. I’d heard so many times from my mother that I wasn’t good enough and that I was a screw up that I began to believe it. That combined with my orientation made me believe that there really was something wrong with me, that I was bad, and that I deserved to be punished in some way. When my mother caught me one night, she dragged me into her bathroom to clean me up and lectured me about how much of an embarrassment I was.

I felt like I had no one to turn to and nowhere to go. I felt trapped and I felt lost. The people who did offer to help and who were there for me I ended up pushing away, or I would lie to them and tell them I was fine, including my dad. I put up walls and told myself that I could deal with everything on my own, even when I knew I couldn’t. Truth is, we aren’t built to deal with these sorts of things alone. But I was ashamed, and maybe even in a bit of denial, so instead of asking for help I hid myself away. The only thing that stopped me from self harming and helped me to combat my suicidal thoughts was the idea that by hurting myself I was letting the people who were tearing me down win and I refused to let them be victorious over me.

By the end of eighth grade, despite feeling alone because of homophobia and due to a lack of representation, I managed to accept myself for who I was. I wasn’t ready for anyone, aside from a select few close friends, to know about my orientation, but at least I’d come to accept myself and to accept that there was nothing wrong with me for being a lesbian, and that it wasn’t something that I could change but rather something that I should embrace. A few bad relationships after I learned to accept myself made it hard to embrace sometimes, but now it’s a part of me that I do embrace wholly, something that I celebrate, and one of the only things I’ve actually come to love about myself.

I didn’t come out to my family and the rest of my friends until shortly after I turned 21. That was when I decided that I couldn’t keep sacrificing who I was. I couldn’t keep sacrificing my own happiness for the benefit of others, because I was hurting myself too much while trying to pretend to be someone I wasn’t to appease those I thought wouldn’t accept me. I realized that it was my life, not theirs, and that I needed to live for myself and in such a way that made me happy, not them. Making that choice lifted a huge weight off my shoulders and made me feel a heck of a lot better. Since then, I’ve also started using my writing to try and help combat the lack of LGBTQA+ representation. Of course, that’s getting better now; there’s certainly more representation now than there was 12 years ago when I was learning who I was, but it’s still not nearly enough, and the more representation there is the easier it will be for others to accept themselves and see that they are not alone, and perhaps for those outside the community to see that we are not the monsters and criminals we are sometimes made out to be and learn to be more accepting.

The option to escape was offered to me a number of times. I always knew that I could turn to my dad, that he would be there and that I would always have some place to go. I simply couldn’t work up the courage. I feared what my mother would do or say if I tried to tell her that I was leaving. It wasn’t until a week before I turned 21 that I did manage to find the courage to call my mother one night, while I was visiting my dad over the summer, and tell her that I wouldn’t be returning to Tennessee, where we’d moved after I graduated high school.

It was a difficult phone call to make, partially because I was afraid of my mother’s reaction, but also because I was afraid of such a big change. I’d also gotten so used to the abuse and came to believe the negative things that I’d been told (not only by my mother at that point but also by a few “friends” and a few girlfriends) so much that I wasn’t sure I deserved a life that was better than the one I’d been living.

It took me finally managing to escape from the constant abuse to realize and accept that I did deserve better, and sometimes I still have times when I wonder if maybe I don’t. I still struggle with depression as well as anxiety, and I struggle everyday with my self-esteem. The effects of the emotional and physical abuse that I’ve suffered are still present and though I have begun to heal now, I know it will still take more time. The important thing, not only for me but for anyone who has been through similar situations, or is currently going through a similar situation, and for anyone who struggles with any form of depression or anxiety, is that we all keep fighting. The healing that I have done so far would have been impossible on my own. It was hard, but I knew I needed help and I eventually found the strength to ask for it and I’m glad I did. I’ve also learned to use my writing as an outlet when I feel myself getting down and I’m more willing to reach out to friends, family, and my counselor now. Some days it’s hard; I’ve had relapses and sometimes I still have days when I want to give up, but no matter how hard it gets I will keep fighting.

Holey Foley

I became a wrestling fan back in my teens. Those were the days when the Rockers were still a team and every girl wanted to be Miss Elizabeth. I drifted away for a bit, but picked watching back up during what is known as the attitude era. Then I had two boys – both wrestling fans, especially the oldest who is now 22. What that breaks down to: if you visit my house, there is a good chance wrestling is playing on the television. Between Raw, Smackdown, NXT, and the WWE Network there is always something to watch.

Holy Foley is a realty show based on Mick Foley and his family in their everyday life that airs on the WWE network. Season one just ended. A second season has not yet been announced.

If you are any sort of a wrestling fan, you have to love at least one of Mick Foley’s personas. Personally I like them all. The idea of seeing what his life is like outside of wrestling was appealing. I already knew his rag to riches story that is inspirational to so many of his followers. This was like the icing on the cake – an inside view of what he had actually obtained from all of his hard work.

Mick Foley is married to the lovely Colette and has four children – three sons and a daughter. The show includes all of his family but revolves more around his daughter, Noelle, and her pursuit of a wrestling career.

There have been mixed reviews about the series, but I think it is worth your time to watch. Here’s why…

It is Inspirational!

In an effort to support his daughter in her attempt to fulfil her dream of being a wrestler, Mick begins a healthy living program. If you watch Raw, where Mr. Foley is currently the general manager, you have seen the results. He looks amazing! I have to say it has had an impact on my family as well. We have begun our own quest to be healthier. Although probably not as intense as one for an up and coming wrestler, it is still a change for the better.

Noelle Foley!

I love Noelle. She has a dream and she is chasing it with a smile on her face. I think that could be part of her persona by the way – the girl that always smiles is pure awesomesauce. I was a little sad after the last episode of season one, but I hope she keeps up her training. I would love to see her with the WWE Women’s title around her waist.

Colette Foley!

If we are talking inspirational, I have to mention this former model. She’s gorgeous and strong. Raising four kids with a husband who has long odd hours isn’t easy. I think a lot of people could take a few tips from this lady.

If you have the chance, give the show a try and not just one episode. I think you’ll see all the good things this family has to offer.

If you are wondering if Mick Foley is really as nice as he appears, I can confirm he is. I had the honour of meeting him at Hamilton ComiCon in October 2016. He even has one of my books! I know Mick and Noelle are appearing at Toronto ComiCon this March and I hope to have the chance to meet him again. If you have the chance to talk with either of them in person, grab it – you won’t be sorry. #starsworthmeeting

Thanks for reading & have a nice day!

A Bookworm’s Survival Kit

The bookworm is a creature of habit; it likes its cave of comfy blankets, endless books, and limitless hot drinks, but sometimes leaving the house is inevitable. Like, what about when you have to go to the library? Or worse, you have to go someplace where you won’t be surrounded by books. In this instance, what do you do? What do you bring? How do you survive?

Here is a bookworm’s survival kit to surviving an evening out:

First of all, it is necessary to bring a bag so that you have a place to put your books. Make sure the bag is big enough to fit at least one book. (If the weather is not good, make sure the bag can zip so that your precious books aren’t ruined.)





Don’t underestimate your bags! It may look like it’ll only fit one, but if you try hard enough, you might be able to fit four or five! You know…just in case….




Features nine books plus extra room for more!

Your best bet may be just to bring a backpack full of books because you never know what could happen while you’re away from home. Maybe your house will flood or a comet will strike just your house or the zombie apocalypse will happen and the zombies won’t want brains–they’ll want books! So if you’re really smart (or just really paranoid) a backpack will work best.





Whether or not you actually listen to music, earphones are also a necessity, because without earphones people might do terrible things like try to talk to you. Although this is not a foolproof plan to avoid this atrocity, it will decrease the chances of it happening to you.





During this time you will most likely be reading to either avoid people or pass time, so you might not have time to react appropriately to things that happen in the book. I suggest bringing a pretty notebook and writing down everything that you would’ve normally reacted to in an extreme away along with the reaction so that you can do it later. For example, “Characters kissed: shriek!” or “Character died: cry for 30 minutes”. Some of these things can’t be done in public (unless you’re really brave), but you shouldn’t deny yourself the enjoyment of doing them by yourself later.



Don’t forget to bring some pens with you! Bonus if it’s a cat pen.






Next up is the hot drink issue. This one can be a little bit tricky, because hot drinks can’t be found just anywhere, but make sure to bring your own travel cup (full!) and hope that wherever you’re going you’ll be able to find a place to refill it.





I wish you the best of luck, and if you follow these guidelines closely you should be able to make it through this challenging time.

A Tour of B&Q NaNoWriMo Headquarters

Welcome. My name is Diannika, and I’ll be your tour guide today as we explore the Books & Quills NaNoWriMo Headquarters in Discord. A few basic reminders before we get started:

Our address is You can find us from a mobile or desktop app or from your favorite browser. If accessing us from the app, you can use just the invite code (4yNGRN4) to find us.

Books & Quills is not affiliated with OLL (Office of Letters and Light) or NaNoWriMo, or any of the NaNoWriMo Facebook groups, in any way other than most if not all of us are participants.

This is a place for many ages of people, so we do ask that all people keep their language and topics of conversation appropriate for ages 13 and up. We do, however, have an 18+ room for those who wish to or need to discuss topics that are not otherwise allowed in the common areas. Outside of that room, we ask that if you are discussing adult topics (such as a description of an adult novel) you word it in such a way we won’t end up with angry parents.

Thank you for your patience with the official babble. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get on with the tour!

As you can see, this is the general lobby. Here we encourage chatting about nearly anything. This is especially for those who want to chat while writing, but don’t want to hang out in one of the other rooms, and people who just want to drop by but don’t mind writing talk so don’t want to relax in the break room. Basically, everyone is welcome here. As of now, it is usually the most active room, although we do expect many of the other rooms to pick up as NaNo continues.

Behind me we have the information desk. Here you can find basic information on what NaNoWriMo is, as well as on how to use Discord. It’s very helpful for those who need it and people should take a look at it individually, but it’s not very interesting as a stop on the tour, so let us continue.

Down this hallway we have the writing rooms. This first one is the Writing Only room. It is strictly for writing-based conversation, for those who do not want to be distracted. People are welcome to pop back and forth between any of the rooms, as long as this room is kept free of any distractions from writing.

Across the lobby you can see another room. That one is the Break Room. As you can see from the sign on the door, no writing talk is allowed there. It is intended for people who want to take a break from writing and just relax, recharge their brain. Here is a good place to play games as well.

Alright, now back to the writing wing… we will get back to the recreation wing on the other side in a few minutes.

Next stop on the tour is the Sprint Room. Here is where people can set up or join time-based sprints. For those who are unaware of what those are, you set a time and everyone participating writes as much as they can during that time. It is not exactly competitive, it is just a way to write together with others, while giving each other the push to succeed.

Across the hall is the Word Crawl Room. Here you will find or be able to set up word crawls. Those are basically writing to an RPG, or role-playing game. There is usually a base story, and as you and your partners (or competitors, depending on the crawl) progress, you have to complete certain writing-based tasks. These can include sprints, word wars, and other challenges. Sometimes they are merely required to progress, other times success or failure may change the outcomes of the story, or give you tools to help you through the story.

As a note, as I have seen many people confused by this, you complete the challenges with your NaNo novel… the crawl’s story has nothing to do with the writing itself. The crawl’s story is only intended to make it more fun to do, alone or with others.

Here at the end of the hall we have the Battlefield, where you can take part in word wars. That is, you and another person (or people) will set a time, and you will write as fast as possible in an attempt to be the winner. While traditionally this is a one-on-one type of thing, I have seen (and participated in) team word wars, where the teams wordcount was added up and compared instead of individual ones. Both kinds are welcome here, so have some fun.

Ok, follow me back this way. Behind the information desk is the Reference hallway. I’m sorry what was that?

Ah yes, the locked room. While I believe you can all look in and see what’s happening in there, it is locked to prevent people from entering without warning. That room is for a special speed crawl. Anyone can be invited in before a round starts, but due to the nature of it we do not allow people not participating to speak there. Just let us know if you want to take part, and we will be sure to give you a pass to get in.

Back to the reference hallway. Here at the beginning you can see a bulletin board. Here you can find prompts, or request a prompt, or post your own for others to use. It’s a great way to pass your plot bunnies on to others when they are too small to stand on their own.

We have several rooms here for helping to build your novel. First up, here to your left, is the Character Creation room. You can ask for help on various aspects of character creation… naming help, questions about specific traits or habits, how to describe a certain hair or eye or skin color, information on a profession or hobby and how it would influence the character, whatever you need. You can also post article links and other resources that can be helpful to those looking for character help, or answer other people’s questions.

Next is the World-Building room. This is a great place to discuss various aspects that make up the world your story is set in, whether it be things like what society would be like if the planets star was dying, or things like how does magic work, or just about anything. If it is part of world-building, it fits well here. Just like with the other reference rooms, feel free to ask for help, post your ponderings, or references, or help others.

And here we have the Plotting Station. Here is a great place to plot… no, not world domination… why are you cackling?

Ahem. As I was saying, this is a great place to plot. Have a plothole you don’t know how to fill? Find help here. Not sure where your story is going, or how to get from point a to point b? Surely someone here can help!

Here you have the actual reference reference rooms. This one is for Historical Facts, this one for Science, and this one for Cultural Articles and Studies. Here you can ask for help on these topics, but you can also contribute things you come across randomly that would fit the room’s topic.

At the end of this wing we have the Plot Bunny Adoption Center. Here you will find (or contribute) fully grown plot bunnies that the original owners just couldn’t take care of. They are available for anyone who needs or wants them to take home. This allows the original owners to focus their time and attention on the bunnies they are working with, while making sure the bunnies’ stories are still told.

Alright guys, I know they are cute, and you want to take one home, but you can come back later. We have one more wing to explore. You… yes, you. Come along. Thank you.

Here next to the break room is the recreation wing. First up is the novel-sharing room. This is where you can tell others about your NaNovel, including your working cover if you have one.

In the hallway between rooms we have this bookshelf. It is where you will find published works by other NaNoers who frequent our HQ. Feel free to add yours to the shelf. However, each person is limited to a single post, in which you are welcome to include multiple works. We want to make sure everyone’s writing has a chance to be seen.

On the other side of the hall we have the Jukebox. This is a great place to post links to music, especially YouTube links. They will play in the Jukebox, meaning people will not have to leave to listen to them. Please, browse the offerings here whenever you wish. You never know what you will find!

Back here in the back of this wing is the 18+ room I told you about back at the beginning of the tour.  This room is for adults only, and is a place where conversations can be had that would not be appropriate for teens. Obviously I will not go into detail here, as I know we have a few underage people with us today, but we do ask that these kinds of conversations remain here, and that teenagers (and kids who may find their way here) keep out of this room.

Let’s make our way back to the lobby.

The last thing to show you right here is the channel request box. This is for those who may need a room for something specific… perhaps a long crawl you don’t want to take up the word crawl room with, or a different sprinting schedule than is going on in the main sprint room at the time.  You can also request a specific room for your writing group. These rooms will be public unless specifically arranged with myself or May, and even in private ones the B&Q staff will still have access. The third type of channel request is for suggestions of permanent rooms you think we should add.

Remember you can talk verbally here, not just in writing. Just find the room that fits what you are looking for and enjoy yourself!

We hope you enjoyed the tour of our facilities, and look forward to seeing you around and getting to know you better.

Pantsing, Plotting, and Plantsing: The 3 Styles of NaNoWriMo

When the clock strikes midnight on October 31st, welcoming November and NaNoWriMo along with it, participants will spend the rest of the month writing towards a 50,000-word goal. Each writer has their own writing methods. Our staff shares insights on the three basic styles of NaNo: Pantsing, Plotting, and Plantsing.

Pantser: Suzanne Wdowik

Panster: A writer who pantses their NaNovel (the novel, or project, they write during NaNoWriMo), i.e. flies by the seat of their pants, i.e. writes without a plan.

A pantser’s life in the days leading up to NaNoWriMo are easy, yet stressful. All we must do is wait for the clock to strike twelve, and much like Cinderella, lose our glitter and our sweet ride and transform back into a sleep-deprived starving artist. Nevertheless, we fret over what our story will end up being. Should we have at least some idea before taking the plunge? What will our characters be? Do we want names ahead of time or should we just put blanks or placeholders? What flipping genre are we even writing, anyway?

Stop. Take a breath. Look at the date. Now look back at me. Now back at the date. Now back at me. I’m riding a horse. No, wait, that’s the Old Spice commercial. Anyway. You have only a day left until November 1st. That is a good thing. Already have an idea? Great. Your job in the next few days is to keep yourself pumped about your project. I bet your fingers twitch every time you see a piece of paper or a keyboard. As long as you’re excited about your project, you can get your 1,667 words (or whatever personal daily goal you have) written that first day. Don’t have any clue what you’re doing? That’s okay, too. Take some time in the next few days to draw inspiration from multiple sources. Listen to some music. Ask a friend to suggest a song or band you’ve never heard before. Go take an hour-long walk, and look closely at the world around you. Read a book. Watch a movie. Sooner or later something will start to grow inside you. It might be a character, it might be a theme, or it might simply be an emotion. Grab onto that and don’t let go. That is going to be your driving force for your NaNovel.

So, what do you do once you start writing?

First, find out when you’re going to write. If you set a writing schedule for yourself, it’s easier to make yourself write every day. You’ll get used to sitting down and saying to yourself, “I have to rid myself of distractions now, this is Writing Time”. Inspiration may hit at any time, so keep your notebook/laptop/AlphaSmart/etc handy. Don’t worry if your muse decides to take a multiple-day break, though. This is common. You can make yourself write even when the ideas aren’t flowing out of your fingertips like melted butter. And if your inner editor tells you “this really sucks and I don’t know why you decided to write a crap novel in the first place”, grab them by the throat and chuck them out of your mind. Or, if you’re really not the violent type, find their volume dial and turn it all the way down.

When you pants a novel, it’s easy to get stuck or to feel like you don’t think your novel is going anywhere. You might experience a mid-week or a mid-month lull when your story seems to want to stop and graze for a while instead of plowing forward. Don’t be afraid to let it do its own thing for a short time. Your characters might lead you to a climax you could never have come up with on your own. Or they may try to derail your story. If the latter happens, lay down some track and gently nudge your characters towards them. If they won’t budge, skip ahead in the story. Start a new section from a different point of view. Add a new character. Kill someone off. Add a dragon. Don’t be afraid to take chances, and to write something that might not work in the long run. You can always cut things out later, but you can’t edit what you haven’t written.

Plotter / Planner: Mayra Pérez González

My muse has a lousy worth ethic.

She hardly ever shows up for work. Even when she does, she simply sulks in a corner, grumbling and groaning and refusing to be of service. She enjoys leaving me at the mercy of my own lack of creativity, taunting me with her disinterest and negligence.

While my muse is on vacation in Tahiti, I’m about to embark on the most dangerous and daunting mission: preparing myself for literary battle.

As much as the allure, thrill, and adventure of spending November flying by the seat of my pants intrigues me, approaching NaNoWriMo without a concrete plan means definite defeat. Going in without plotting beforehand, for me, is like going into battle without any weapons or protective gear. Might as well wave a white flag.

My weapon of choice? The Snowflake Method.

The Snowflake Method is the brainchild of Randy Ingermanson of Advanced Fiction Writing. His method is a way to reverse engineer your novel by starting small and expanding little by little. You start off with one simple sentence and end up with summaries of various lengths, a list or spreadsheet of scenes, and profiles and descriptions of your characters.

The Snowflake Method makes it easy to plot a novel if your muse is virtually nonexistent. You don’t have to vomit a detailed outline onto paper on your first try. You build your novel from the bottom up, giving you a chance to coax the story out of the inner workings of your mind. (Ha! Take that, Muse!)

Ironically, I am both plotter and procrastinator. Only a few days before NaNoWriMo, I stand at the foot of NaNovel Mountain and look up, trying to distinguish the mountain’s summit through the clouds. “I wish I would have started planning sooner,” I grumble.

Depending on how badly I’ve procrastinated, I might not be able to make it through every step of the Snowflake Method before NaNoWriMo—or I might not get to it at all. As a plotter, it’s crucial for me to plan—regardless of how much time I have until November. If NaNoWriMo has already begun and I still don’t have a plan, I’ll dedicate the first few days to planning and push myself a bit harder, later on, to catch up. (I refuse to go in without a plan! You can’t make me!)

While I sometimes wish I could just sit at my computer and bleed, creating a plot and characters haphazardly and watching them fall into place serendipitously, there’s something special about being a plotter: the dedication you pour into your novel even before you start writing it makes you, in a sense, loyal and more dedicated to writing and completing it. Besides, on November 30th, with 50,000 words under your belt, you’ll feel like an architect standing in front of a newly finished building. Their building and your novel will be the awe-inspiring translation of a carefully designed blueprint.

Plantser / Hybrid: DosAguilas

Now, to some people, the ideas above are out of their element. A planner will panic at the idea of a pantser just flying by the seat of their pants. A pantser will shiver unpleasantly at the rigidity of order the planner finds the most comfortable.

But there exists a happy medium, one that is ice and fire, one that combines the recklessness of one and the steadfastness of the other.

Welcome to the Hybrid.

Where planners thrive on planning and pantsers thrive on improvising, the Hybrid method of winning NaNo is the Red Mage of sorts, and is a force in his or her own right as well as a great support for the Planners and the Pantsers in your little tight-knit group.

A Hybrid person (or Plantser) will make outlines, but rather than outline every single eventuality that could go on in their novel project, they will be vague. That vagueness allows them to move around, improvise, add entire paragraphs, even make cosmetic adjustments to the outline as they go along.

A Plantser will set their limits. They will establish some railways that allow the water of inspiration to go through from one place to the next without splashing all over the place.

I’ll share with you guys my own journey to Plantsing.

I was hardcore Planner in my first few attempts at NaNo. I had outlined not just the novel I was planning on finishing, but also the two sequels and the prequel. I had created an entire world, religion, financial systems. I had fleshed out my characters and then designed them in the Heromachine program I had. I had created a plots and subplots and sub-sub plots. Everything was set so that when I tried NaNo, I was going to tear through the month like I tear chunks of tortilla de harina with barbacoa Saturday mornings.

November 1 rolls around, I write a couple of paragraphs, fail to meet the targeted 1,667.

No worries, I’ll try again the next day.

I get close to 1,000 words.

Next day, I don’t write a single word and instead find myself staring at the big mess of an outline and character sketches and plot ideas that I have created and I found myself giving up too easily. I didn’t sweat it, there’s always next year.

Next year, I realized I had built this really elaborate house and forgotten to put in doors between the rooms and so my NaNo experiment was over before it started.

So last year, I decided to do something different. I picked a new project, and rather than outline everything to the molecular level, I gave myself a very skin-and-bones outline to work with.

What I discovered was that, while I was writing, I was fleshing new ideas out. I was able to say, “Okay, that’s not going to work.” during the writing process, and fixing it on the spot rather than pulling three figurative Jenga pieces from the bottom of my project and having it all tumble down. Not only that, but also I was discovering things about my characters instead of shoehorning them into a role they weren’t born to play, and all of this added to a word count.

And I won! I broke the 50,000-word mark on November 30.

You could argue that maybe I should have just pantsed the whole thing but here’s why I don’t think pantsing wouldn’t have worked: I needed some level of structure.

Let me give you an example. I’m just going to write stream of consciousness in the next sentence:

There was once a giraffe and she saw several black and red and orange skulls and there was a voice while she sang with the muses and the angels in the jungle riverbed mechanism world religions unhooked phone is what was ringing again.

That’s why structure is important to me and why I prefer to be a hybrid.

For the rest of you, there’s no right way to do this. The only wrong way is using a method you’re not comfortable with. The important thing is getting to that goal.

In Mexico, there’s a famous folk song that has the lines: “No hay que llegar primero, hay que saber llegar,” which translates to: “It’s not about getting there first, it’s knowing how to get there.”

We hope that throughout this guide has helped give you an idea as to what path you’d like to follow. Keep us posted! Let us know if you’re TeamHybrid, TeamPlanner or TeamPantser. We’d love to know!

How I Fell in Love with Reading


I began reading in kindergarten. First my dad read to me, then I began picking up my own books. By first grade, I was devouring Magic Treehouse books. I enjoyed reading, but I wouldn’t say I was in love with it.

In the third grade, I began reading Harry Potter. I was completely against it at first, but my sister eventually convinced me to give it a try. That’s when I fell in love. I zipped through each book, and because I volunteered in the library, I got to check out the next book before my library day (nerd perks! 😛). When we reached 1000 books, the librarian (who we’d become very close with) celebrated by giving us small gifts. I was given a Harry Potter bookmark that I used day in and day out.


The Beauty of Brevity


When people think of writing fiction, whether it’s a multi-novel sword-and-sorcery epic or a contender for the Nobel prize in Literature, they picture long, drawn-out stories. They picture manuscripts that, when printed out, could be used to bludgeon someone to death.

And they’re not entirely wrong.

But fiction doesn’t necessarily have to be these long, drawn-out, elaborate things. There is such a thing as short stories and I’m here to tell you guys why it’s awesome to read and to write short fiction.


Tributes, Initiatives, and Givers, Oh My!


In the vast world of books, there is one genre that has recently taken the spotlight–dystopia. There are so many out there…Hunger Games, Divergent, The Giver, The Selection (and those are only a small percentage!).

I think when it comes to understanding the love for this genre, you have to know what it is. A quick Google search reveals it as “an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one”.

Now, I can guess what you’re thinking…Don’t some of these occur in places that, well, aren’t completely bad. And you’d be right. Books such as The Giver take place in a utopia, which is basically just the opposite of a dystopia (though the concepts could be debated, especially in situations like the Giver). For the purposes of this article, I’ll be lumping them together.


What is YA Literature?

While I often write about YA novels and their authors, it is important to know what exactly young adult literature is. For starters, young adult novels themselves are novels written for a younger audience, typically middle-schoolers and high-schoolers.

On the surface, that may seem like all that’s necessary for an explanation. Delving deeper, I set out to look at the genre a little more closely.


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