2017 · books

Gift Guide For Your Bookish Friends

It’s that time of year again! Everyone is scrambling to find the perfect gift, or maybe they’re just scrambling to get a gift. Maybe you just want something for yourself. Never fear, I have a few suggestions!

A bookish subscription box – There are hundreds of you to choose from. I’m a personal fan of Owlcrate, but it’s also the only subscription box I’ve had. I also want to try Unicorn Crate and Fairyloot

cards against muggles

Cards Against Muggles – A for-you-to-download Harry Potter themed version of Cards Against Humanity.

Anything from Out of Print Clothing. T-shirts, jewelry, pencil cases and sweatshirts galore, all inspired by awesome literature.

Candles inspired by your favorites. I love A Court of Candles first because the name is inspired by the A Court of Thorns and Roses series (I think!) and second because the designs are gorgeous. Both of these images are from the A Court of Candles site, because I don’t have any of my own yet!

Bookish Tea. There are lots of shops to choose from. First Edition Tea Co. is the first I’ve tried!

noveldestinations2

Novel Destinations: Second Edition: A Travel Guide to Literary Landmarks From Jane Austen’s Bath to Ernest Hemingway’s Key West – This literary guide takes you around the world to different places that exist in real life, but you may be familiar with them because of novels.

Even though I’d like one of all of these, I’m also trying to be mindful of my possessions and pare down what I down a bit. So I’d have to say the best gifts are experiences. Buy you girl tickets to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, take your guy friend on a tour of Shakespeare’s house, plan a trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Make memories, take pictures and enjoy yourself. I find having experiences, especially with people you love, are so much better than buying something that’ll sit on a shelf. (And yes, I realize all these experiences are very BIG. Instead you can use the Novel Destinations book you bought to find something more local and explore!).

What would you like for the holidays?

xo.
Melanie

2017 · books · favorites · melanie kristy

Stories in November 2017

I started so many novels in November, and I barely finished any. That doesn’t fare well with my Goodreads challenge, but this is the last year I’m doing the challenge for now anyone so overall I don’t think that matters. I’ve liked the books I started, too! I just couldn’t get my head in the reading game. Actually, I just checked my Goodreads challenge and even though I read 3 books in November, I’m 1 ahead for the year! That means I only need to finish 3 in December, which I think I can probably do.

I set my goal to 52 books this year. One a week. Last year I was only a few books shy of my 75 book goal. We will talk about book goals at a different time, though. Right now we are just talking about November stories.

goodbye things
Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki

I started off November reading this book. I’ve been enjoying reading about minimalist and decluttering but let me tell you, this book isn’t the book to read. The writing was mediocre and it was quick to fly through. What I really didn’t like about this book, however, was that the author made broad generalizations, used quotes a “proof” of her methodology while pulling them completely out of context, and did little research in this area. I cannot even remember the bad examples she used, aside from claiming that minimalism will make you thin. She says that no minimalists are overweight. There’s no research in that aside from her “observations” of minimalists she’s encountered. I stopped reading at that point and flipped through, skimming to see if anything else was worthwhile in the book and decided there was no anything of substance. I gave it 2 starts on Goodreads.

tower of dawn
Tower of Dawn
by Sarah J. Maas
When Tower of Dawn first came out I was disappointed to learn it was sort of a companion novel in the way that it takes place at the same time Empire of Storms does. I put it down in my disappointment by the lack of Aelin and Rowan, and didn’t return to it for a few months. That being said, the novel is excellent. I love Chaol, and I’m happy his story is going in the direction is does in Tower of Dawn. I think this novel is necessary to read as part of the Throne of Glass series, I just don’t like that it takes place with different characters at the same time as Empire of Storms. 5 stars regardless.

they both die at the end.jpg
They Both Die At The End
by Adam Silvera
If you read my November favorites you’ll see I marked this novel as my favorite for November. It’s about two guys, Mateo and Rufus who learn they’re going to die within 24 hours, and they don’t know how. From this comes a beautiful connection, and one last. This is a book about life, and how you should spend it.

Uncategorized

Hello December!

What are your dreams, hopes and wishes for this month?

I’m working on feeling organized. I’ve got heaps of little gifts to get in order and I’ve been slowly decluttering my things.

I have three more books to read for this year in order to finish my Goodreads goal. It’s really doable for me, I just need to decide WHAT to read!

Tea every day! I was going through my loose leaf tea and I’ve got so much I’ve decided to drink at least a cup of day (and document it on instagram because why not).

Taking time to reflect on this year and make goals and set intentions for 2018. I can’t believe we are almost there.

Also! This is my favorite time of year, and I want to be sure to be in the present moment and to enjoy it.

Xo

Melanie

2017 · magic · melanie kristy · Uncategorized · writing

Did I Fail NaNoWriMo? / What Happens Next?

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November is over. There is no more National Novel Writing Month. We are on to holidays and shopping and drinking hot chocolate and driving around looking for Christmas lights (at least, I am), and moving on from our awesome or disastrous attempts at writing 50,000 words of a novel in November.

So tell me. How did you do?

 

I wrote 3,000 words in the first week and then stopped because life got in the way.

I’m here to tell you, though, that just because you didn’t “win” NaNoWriMo, doesn’t mean you failed. That art of writing is not a win/ lose situation. There’s no competition for great art. So maybe you didn’t get enough words. Maybe you gave up half way through. Maybe you couldn’t get past the first 3,000 words. It doesn’t matter, it’s all great.

Just because you didn’t win doesn’t mean you didn’t accomplish something, and that’s what is more important. If you’re a writer or want to be a writer or used to be a writer and you participated in NaNoWriMo even for half a day this year, you accomplished something great. You accomplished something that most people will not do in this life time. You imagined a plot, you thought up characters, you dug into the dusty areas of your mind and committed to writing something. So be proud of yourself for that.

What happens next?

Well… you keep writing. You revisit what progress you’ve made so far. You give yourself more goals, and maybe think about figuring out what kinds of goals are realistic to you, and you keep on going.

For years and years I’ve passively thought about finishing a novel. It’s been a very long time since I’ve written something to completion. All those goals were so passive, that I never even visited my novels or started fresh. I wanted to make certain seasons “the one where I write a book”. And then I’d put that idea back on the shelf and move along with my life.

First off, it’s okay to not write a novel. It’s okay to not publish anything. It’s okay to only ever write for yourself or your friend or your lover.

But if that’s not enough for you, I suggest you do something different.

Here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to spend December thinking about the novel I started. I’m going to figure out where I really want to go with it – I realized that PLOT is my main issue with this current work, mainly that it doesn’t have one – and I’m going to figure out how to get there. And then I’m going to make 2018 the year I write and complete a novel. I’m telling you all now. I’m not going to table this idea. I am going to make it happen. I’m going to be responsible for birthing an entire YA novel.

And that’s what happens next. For me, at least.

Tell me what’s next for you. Tell me how you did. And we can figure out where to go from here.

xo
Melanie
2017 · favorites · Uncategorized

November Favorites 2017

album: Finally It’s Christmas by Hanson. Of course a Hanson album would be on here, especially if it’s a Christmas one in November. This cd came out in last October and I waited until my birthday to listen to it. My friend Erin and I blasted the album and tried to talk over the songs while driving down to the Cape for birthday lunch and mall wandering. Watch the nostalgic music video, too.

book: They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera. I just recently (finally!!!) started reading Adam Silvera’s books, and I’m kind of sad that I only have one left. Both books that I’ve read have been amazing so far. They Both Die At The End follows two characters – Mateo and Rufus – who got the Death-Cast call just after midnight on the day this book takes place. This means sometime in the next 24 hours they’re going to die, but neither one has any idea how. Join them as navigate their last day together.

television: I’m revisiting Boy Meets World, a long time favorite, on Hulu and I’m really enjoying it. It’s just the right combination of old time nostalgia paired with awesome characters and fun episodes that I pseudo remember to keep me interested.

podcast: I’ve downloaded way too many podcasts lately, and I haven’t really gotten into the rhythm of listening to them consistently, but I’ve been listening to a lot of Straight and Curly (A Podcast for Self Improvement Junkies).

videos: Gala Darling started a 6 week series called the Wonderland Sessions and I am loving them so far. There are two videos up and she hardcore talks about real shit, feeling awesome and how your vibration affects other peoples’ reaction to you. Watch the first video here

youtuber: Jessica Out Of The Closet / Jessica Kellgren-Folzard This girl has so much style! I randomly found her as a suggestion on my YouTube homepage, and I subscribed immediately. She discusses disabilities, chronic illnesses, clothes and much more, and she always has an amazing and upbeat attitude. Her vibe is infectious!

essential oil: lavender is my standby favorite scent. It makes me feel calm and happy, and I use a roller ball all the time just to force me to stop and change my vibe & recenter my mind

app: ibotta has helped me earn money back on certain items that I buy. It can be fun to scroll through and see what promotions are happening at the moment. Use my referral link to sign up and we both get paid https://ibotta.com/r/vmeuhhd

What did you love in November?

x.
Melanie
Uncategorized

Writing & Journaling & November & NaNoWriMo & Life

There are so many things to do, you guys. There are Podcasts to listen to, people to meet, places to visit. There are pictures to take and laughs to be had. There are books to be written, by me. Sometimes there’s so much to do that I get overwhelmed.

So far I’m 3,000 words into my NaNo novel that I seemly abandoned one week into November. I had a cold, then a birthday and then it was Thanksgiving. My brain has since moved on to Christmas and all things festive. I’ve been mentally sorting out all these things. I decorated my room with Christmas lights and now it feels more hygge and comforting. I’ve been watching Boy Meets World on Hulu when I should be sleeping. I’ve been starting books and leaving them to gather dust. I’ve been making lists of things to buy for Christmas gifts.

I’ve also been trying to journal. The way I journal these days is so different than how I used to do it. I’m not even sure how that was before. It was like I used to talk to myself. I used to tell the stories of my times. I would talk about what was going on, or how I was feeling. And now when I journal it turns into me writing lists. A lot of times I’m writing lists I’ve already made before. Sometimes I start out writing my feelings, but my mind stops working that way. I get distracted. And then I don’t write anything.

I’d like to figure out how to retrain my thoughts. I’d like to go back to talking to myself via journal entries. I’d like to have a record of my days. I’ve been reading a lot of random things about minimalism lately. I look at minimalist aesthetic images online. I’m in a few Facebook groups. I’m not sure if I could ever be a minimalist, though. Someone in one of my groups mentioned they had just finished burning all their journals. Some days I think about that. They** (minimalists) say that you don’t need sentimental things because you have the memory inside you, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the truth. I think the pictures and journal entries and blogs are documentation that you lived. They’re reminders of things that happened, because our memories aren’t always that good. That makes me start asking myself what the point is to all this. I certainly don’t want most people to read my journals when I die. I remember as a kid using my journal to speculate about what sex feels like. Even typing that here feels weird. It’s just a normal thing. It’s a normal thing that I don’t need people reading when I die. And yet, I don’t want to let go of that. People don’t need to read my endless budget recalculations and lists of people I’m giving gifts to, either.

All of this makes me wonder: what’s the point?

And I say this in a way that’s only slightly brought down by a bout of moodiness and seasonal depression. I don’t mean it in a way that’s indicative of the hopelessness my brain has felt before. Though I admit to sometimes following down that mind path.

I just wonder.

What’s the reason behind all this?

What am I doing this for? What are you reading this post for? I think the blog specific answer is about connection. I miss the blogging days when you felt connected to other bloggers, and when blogging wasn’t about making money. I think that’s why I struggle to blog these days. I feel like I’m doing it wrong. I’m sitting here writing out my thoughts, and it’s not the “right” way to blog. Who sets those rules, and who says I need to follow them, anyway? No one. They’re just thoughts. Standards. Unspoken ideas.

So we’ve reached almost the end of November and I’ve seemed to abandon yet another novel. I saw a post online the other day, and I think it was in my Timehop, where I’m sad that I had to do grad school work and real work and that I don’t have time to write all the novels and become an author. That sentiment made me pause.

Because right now I do have time for those things. And I’m not using that time to my advantage. I’m filling that time with things and ideas that sometimes I think are pointless.

I’m going to think on that for the month and get back to you guys. I’m also going to blog more. I actually don’t care what a standard for blogging is. I don’t want to make money off my thoughts, at least not like this. I want to make money off well polished essays and fiction novels.

And someday I will.

x.
Melanie

Uncategorized · writing

I’m Always Going to Attempt National Novel Writing Month

National Novel Writing Month, also lovingly referred to as NaNoWriMo (for those who can’t pronounce it think: nano – rye – mo) has been part of my life since I discovered it during my Sophomore year of college in 2004. I immediately took to the challenge to create my own characters and write a non fan fiction novel. Inspired by Vanessa Carlton’s White Houses I wrote and completed that novel, “won” NaNoWriMo, uploaded it to Livejournal (no, I’m not linking you to that terribly written novel, nice try!) as I went and happily set it aside.

I have signed up almost every year since then. I have attempted to write a 50,000 word novel in most Novembers. Some years I have “won” (to win: you complete the challenge of writing the 50,000 words), others I gave up in days or weeks. There were some years I worked on rewrites and didn’t have anything original. Other years I was determined and faltered.

November is a busy month. The holidays are just beginning, autumn is in full swing and Thanksgiving comes up really fast. It’s also my birthday month. I’ve come to love November as a month of busyness, cool weather and writing, and so each year when I get the reminders about NaNoWriMo I dive in. Or at least I try to. I write blog posts about it, I try and seek out new writing friends and I stare in front of my computer for more time than I normally do.

This year is no different.

I’m well behind my word goal of 2000 words per day (In fact I’m at about 2600 for three days). I’m finding myself busy, because I don’t want to say no to certain things just because of words. I’m always finding myself busy, though, so that isn’t very new or different. I’m documenting my journey through my Instagram stories so be sure to add me on there. My writing has been more of an exploration than scenes. I still haven’t figured out what the plot is and I’m learning that’s my overall issue with writing anything. I can come up with characters and lives and overarching feelings and emotional changes, but I can’t figure out what actually happens to get my characters there.

It’s okay, though. I’ll figure it out. I’m determined.

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was in second grade. This was also the first time I was exposed to computers. It was 1991. We wrote in MS DOS on computers with green screens and even greener words. We wrote our own versions of children’s books we loved. I asked for a computer for Christmas when I was seven years old.

My relationship with writing has been a complicated one. It was lush and flourishing when I was younger, and I find that the older I am the more I feel like I’ve forgotten how to write. Years of writing classes and workshop combined with reading amazing novels has made me feel incapable. It’s all a mind game, though. And this is what’s driving me this year. Facing the mind game. Facing myself. Pushing through.

So I’m here, committed. I also want to write about this process. I want to get back into documenting and I’d like to help myself discover what it is that I have to say.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Tell me about your experience so far.

x.
M.