Bookish

Say hello to my typewriter!

Ever since I was younger I wanted a typewriter. For some reason I have a thing for machines that produce direct, tangible results. If you know my in person, then you’re probably well aware of my love of polaroids–my infatuation with typewriters falls along those same lines. I adore the idea of creating something beautiful–a classically elegant typed document–as you write it. As the daughter of a woman with a passion for all things old and antique, I also grew up with an appreciation for aged objects instilled in me. It is with this eagerness and hopefulness that I searched high and low for my golden opportunity in each and every antique store my mother and I visited over the years, but to no avail. Most typewriters I came across didn’t work, and the ones that actually did function usually cost a pretty penny. Alas! I seemed destined to never type upon a typewriter of my very own.

That is, until a few years ago when I finally found exactly what I had been searching for all that time: a functioning, affordable typewriter. A new Savers had opened up a few towns over from where I lived, and my mom and I went one day just to see the sorts of things they had in stock. As we meandered to the back of the store, my mom pointed out this beauty to me on a shelf in the corner. It wasn’t the most cool-looking antique typewriter, and we would have to buy ink for it online, but the tag said it worked so I took a gamble and purchased it.

What a good decision that was! The typewriter works seamlessly, and the ink is pretty easy to get online. It even has a nifty spell check feature, giving a little beep! whenever you spell a word wrong. The only downside to this typewriter is that it’s fairly large, so I can’t bring it with me when I move out each semester. As a result, I haven’t used it nearly as much as I would like.

However, I’ve been determined to change that streak this summer. Some of you may know that I regularly keep a journal, a sort of blend between traditional pen on paper writing and scrapbooking. This summer I’ve decided to write the majority of my journal entries using my typewriter. Not only is this fun (I love the loud clack clack clack it makes whenever I press on the keys) but it’s also a great way to get a lot of use out of it before I move out for law school in August and have to leave my beloved typewriter behind in my bedroom at home. Plus, I think it adds a really lovely touch to my journal pages!

Do you have a typewriter? Have you ever used one? Do you have a gadget like this that you’ve adored for ages? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Advertisements
Bookish

On Writing: Interview with Nadette Rae Rodgers

Today I bring you a very special interview with Nadette Rae Rodgers, author of the Illusion Trilogy. With the release of the final book in this trilogy just around the corner, Nadette has been kind enough to answer some of my questions about her writing process and experience writing these novels.

Do you remember where you were/what you were doing when you first thought of the idea for this trilogy?

Yes! It was a rainy summer day, so I had just been reading all afternoon. I had put down the book I was reading and was just looking at the rain outside. There was something that day that had happened that I swear I had dreamt before. It was that deja vu feeling. Then I just started writing down what was in my head.

Do you have a specific writing routine?

My writing routine really depends on the type of scene I’m writing. But typically, I turn on the twinkly lights in my room, pick a playlist that fits what I’ll be writing about then, listen to a song or two while I jot down quick notes and ideas I have, and then I just start writing. I also love to have hot chocolate or coffee in my Eiffel Tower mug too!

Who is your biggest writing inspiration?

My biggest inspiration for writing is one hundred percent the aspiring writers I meet! The BEST moments are when I’m talking to a local literature class and an eighth grader tells me that they want to be a writer or they have been working on a book but were too scared to share it with anyone. I love getting the opportunity to talk to these young writers because the summer after eighth grade is when I wrote Illusion. I love being able to talk with them and encourage them to follow their dreams now. It’s funny, sometimes I’ll be in a bit of a writing slump and then I’ll get an email from a student whose class I talked to weeks before telling me they decided to finish their writing project or let their friends read it. Those moments are what inspire me to keep writing!

What is the most difficult part of the writing process?

Honestly, I do all the formatting myself and that takes a lot of time! It is definitely a more technical process than a creative one like writing the actually book is. It’s more of a challenge for me and I would say, is the most difficult part of the process.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

I really enjoyed Stephen King’s memoir “On Writing” and it is always the first thing I recommend to anyone who tells me they want to write a book. The book is full of amazing advice for writers! One thing he says is, “Read a lot. Write a lot.”

Sometimes when I’m in the middle of writing a book, I think I have to devote all my time to writing and I forget to just read a book. My love of reading is why I started writing in the first place! So after reading that, I began setting aside time while writing my novels to read a book I love or try a new author. I do agree with King that you get a lot of the tools you need from writing by reading! So, while a lot of peoples’ advice is “write write write,” I love the tip to schedule some reading time for yourself amidst all the writing.

Thanks so much to Nadette for answering these questions! Click here to pre-order her new book, Sweet Dreams. Be sure to keep up to date with Nadette via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope you’ve enjoyed this interview!

Yours,

HOLLY

Books

ON WRITING by Stephen King | Review

“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999–and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it–fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told. {Goodreads}

I’ve been around Stephen King’s books and stories for most of my life. Not only is my mother a huge fan of his writing, but it’s sort of difficult to grow up as a self-proclaimed bookworm and not be around his books. Stephen King is a prolific writer with the added popularity of many of his books being made into movies and television shows. Although I’ve only read a few of his books (The Gunslinger, which I disliked, and The Shining, which I enjoyed), I have nevertheless always admired King for his remarkable creativity and ability to write so much. When I learned that he had written a memoir all about his life as a writer and how he goes about the writing process I knew that I would have to read it. So, in the airport waiting to fly back to Oxford, I began.

On Writing is a perfect blend of personal memoir and writing advice. In a book like this I feel as though starting with the more personal parts is necessary in order to give the reader context and establish credibility with the audience. Who is this man, and what makes him qualified to dish out advice? (Even though I’m pretty sure most of us could answer those two questions without a moment’s hesitation.) It’s also reassuring to learn that King did not immediately become a bestselling author the first time he put a pen to paper; rather, he worked tirelessly to improve his writing over time through incessant practice and persistently putting his work out there for others to see. This personal section also helped put a lot of King’s work in perspective and would likely be even more interesting for someone more familiar with several of his novels.

There are countless points in this book that I found myself nodding my head along with, endlessly surprised by the way King is somehow able to put into words what the process of writing actually feels like. He manages to articulate precisely how it feels when you suddenly have a spark of inspiration as well as the uncertainty of not knowing what direction your writing should take next. Most importantly, he deftly describes how important and necessary writing feels to those who do it.

“Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life.”

However, I think it should be said that, like any advice, King’s tips and tricks for writing should be taken with a grain of salt. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to carve out enough time in the day to consistently write thousands of words. The tone of the book can also definitely come off a bit cocky and flippant– although I suppose if you’ve been as successful as Stephen King, you can sort of get away with this. To King’s credit, he does make it clear that this advice is just that: advice, not writing rules set in stone. This book is nothing if not authentic, genuine, and brutally honest.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading On Writing and would definitely return to it again in the future for some inspiration and important reminders. While I don’t necessarily agree with all of King’s advice, I do appreciate his honesty and willingness to be so open with readers. It makes me want to read more of his fiction now!

What are your thoughts on On Writing? Do you have a favorite book by Stephen King? What’s your best piece of writing advice? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Books

THE ART OF MEMOIR by Mary Karr | Review

Credited with sparking the current memoir explosion, Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club spent more than a year at the top of the New York Times list. She followed with two other smash bestsellers: Cherry and Lit, which were critical hits as well.

For thirty years Karr has also taught the form, winning graduate teaching prizes for her highly selective seminar at Syracuse, where she mentored such future hit authors as Cheryl Strayed, Keith Gessen, and Koren Zailckas. In The Art of Memoir, she synthesizes her expertise as professor and therapy patient, writer and spiritual seeker, recovered alcoholic and “black belt sinner,” providing a unique window into the mechanics and art of the form that is as irreverent, insightful, and entertaining as her own work in the genre. {Gooodreads}

To be honest, I had no idea who Mary Karr was when I decided to read The Art of Memoir on a whim. I didn’t know that she had written several well-known memoirs prior to this book nor that she had taught the likes of popular memoirists like Cheryl Strayed, etc. I had just finished reading a few memoirs at the time (Hilary Clinton’s What Happened being one of them) and was interested in learning how memoirists crafted such captivating stories of their lives. When I realized who Mary Karr was– and actual writer of memoirs?! An actual professor of memoir writing?!– I became even more eager to read this book. Fortunately, I was not disappointed.

I listened to the audio book version of The Art of Memoir while on my flight from Boston back to Oxford for the beginning of Hilary Term. The fact that I was able to sit through an entire audio book basically in one sitting is a testament in itself that this book is interesting, engrossing, and good enough to compete with my love of listening to the same song over and over and over again on long flights. Karr narrates the audio book herself, and if you’ve followed my blog for a while then you probably know that I absolutely adore when writers narrate their own books. Her voice is engaging and strangely soothing and her tone is like a cross between chatting with a longtime friend and discussing writing with a close professor or colleague. While I usually prefer the paper versions of book, I must admit that The Art of Memoir translates excellently into audio book form! 

A major strength of this book is that it successfully juggles the needs and desires of numerous audiences. Karr often acknowledges that some parts of the book are geared more towards people interested in writing memoirs of their own, while other sections will likely be more interesting to people who have actually read her memoirs. This balance of catering to both writers and non writers can be tricky, but Karr handles it quite deftly. The Art of Memoir contains a varied mix of writing advice, explorations and analysis of famous memoirs, personal anecdotes and life experiences, snippets from her own memoirs, etc. Rather than come across as a jumbled mess, Karr’s masterful writing ability ties these disparate parts together seamlessly. And did I mention that her writing is incredibly witty, clever, and beautiful? Because it is.

“Literature makes us better noticers of life; we get to practice on life itself; which in turn makes us better readers of detail in literature; which in turn makes us better readers of life.”

My only qualm with this book is minor but still worth mentioning: as someone who has not read Karr’s actual memoirs, I found some parts to be a bit confusing. It seemed as though she assumed that the majority of readers likely would have already read her memoirs, meaning that she offered very little explanation when referencing them. However, this did not detract from my overall enjoyment of reading the book and has even made me more eager to read her memoirs in the near future.

Overall, The Art of Memoir is an enjoyable read no matter if you’re interested in writing your own memoir or are simply interested in learning more about Mary Karr, her life, and how she approaches the memoir writing process. If you’re ever on a plane and need something to listen to for five hours, I would highly recommend this book!

What are your thoughts on The Art of Memoir? Would you recommend any of Mary Karr’s actual memoirs? Do you have a favorite memoir in general? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Guest Post, Writing

On Writing and Inspiration | GUEST POST by Nadette Rae Rodgers

BOOKTUBEATHON

Happy Sunday! I have something very exciting to share: a guest post written by the lovely Nadette Rae Rodgers. This eighteen-year-old author recently self-published her debut novel Illusion, the first installment in a trilogy, which I reviewed earlier this week (and loved!). Today she will discuss writing and inspiration, two topics that brilliantly go hand in hand. Take it away, Nadette!

June (3)

What inspires me to write:

Situations in my life can inspire me to put the pen to the paper, as well as, reading someone else’s creative work can be very motivating. But the two major things that inspire me are nature and music.

Nature is something that never ceases to amaze me! I find that just standing next to the ocean and listening to the waves roll in can spark an idea for a story in me. The sea is just so big and the home to so much life that I always find myself in awe of something so beautiful and complex in nature. I could talk for hours about the many ways I find inspiration in the ocean. So if you are a writer and you’ve currently got some writer’s block going on, go stand by the ocean and just listen for a bit (if you don’t have access to an ocean, look at pictures of the sea online or listen to those white noise YouTube videos with waves crashing). Then try writing your scene again. Or, if oceans aren’t your thing, grab a notebook and a pen and go sit outside under a shady tree in the grass or under the stars and just listen to the sounds around you and drink it all in.

Music is something that is universal. All areas, languages, religions, etc. have music as a way of expression. Music from a foreign country may sound strange to us, but the basis is the same. So if I need ideas for writing, I typically listen to music to find inspiration. I sometimes pick music that fits the mood of the scene I’m trying to write, and other times I just see what song comes up and really think about the meaning of it and how I could use that. I close my eyes and take in the lyrics or the overall sound of the song. Then I replay that same song while I write the part that was inspired by it.

30720968What I hope my writing inspires others to do:

My book is about dreams (the kind you have while you’re sleeping), but I hope that my book will inspire people to follow their dreams (the goals/futuristic life achievements type of dreams).

I’ve been writing stories pretty much since I could read them. I have had different goals in life as I grew up, but one aspiration that always stuck was being a writer. I was always writing something: stories, poems, letters to friends, school assignments. I also was always reading and admiring the authors who wrote the books that made me want to be a writer too.

But I never imagined I would ever actually finish a whole book, let alone publish it. I worked really hard on it, and it took me a long time to get to the point I am at today. But it was so worthwhile!

My hope is that people will see this book as an example that anything is possible if you just put your mind to it and believe in your abilities.

Dream big! Do something each day that scares you but will make you a better person. Listen to your gut. Make goals for yourself and strive to complete them.

Writers, if you have a story to tell, then tell it. Keep writing until it is finished and you can share it with others if that’s what you want to do. Your words can have such a great impact on people, so why not use your gift of words to inspire others?

I followed my dreams of being an author, and each day I set more and more goals for myself in day­to­day life and in my life as an author. I hope that hearing about what inspires me might inspire you to do what you love or try something new.

Always follow your dreams!

~ Nadette Rae Rodgers

June (3)

img_0028Thank you again to Nadette for writing this wonderful post! If you’re interested in learning more about Illusion or its author, feel free to visit the book’s website and Nadette Rae Rodgers’ blog.

What are your thoughts on inspiration and writing? What inspires you to write? What inspires you in general? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Writing

Camp NaNoWriMo 2016 | Wrap-Up

Let's Go- CAMP NANOWRIMO

I did it. I actually, finally, miraculously did it.

I reached my Camp NaNoWriMo goal of 25,000 words!!

To be honest, I was doubtful that I would be able to reach this goal at all by the end of July due to my busy internship schedule, a family camping trip, and the BookTubeAThon in the latter half of the month. However, I completely surprised myself by surpassing this goal on July 15th, just about the halfway point of July!

This certainly isn’t a full draft of my novel, but it nevertheless feels amazing to have a solid foundation upon which I can build in the future. I’ve been working on various drafts of this one story for years, and I finally feel as though I have a version of it that I’m really pleased with. I’m so glad I decided to take on Camp NaNoWriMo this summer!

CNW_Winner_555-1One piece of advice that I found really helpful was to write every single day. Even if I didn’t feel like writing after getting home from work or if it was simply too hot to think, I made it a point to scribble down at least a few words or thoughts. Not only did writing every day keep my momentum going and my spirits up, but it also kept my story churning in my mind. I found myself thinking about it even when I wasn’t actually writing, which meant that I was much more prepared with ideas when I did sit down to write.

Goodbye for now, Camp NaNo! It’s been real.

Did you participate in Camp NaNoWriMo? How did you do? What tips and tricks did you find helpful? If not, have you been writing lately? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Monthly Wrap-Up

JULY 2016 | Wrap-Up

JUNE 2016-2

Oh, July. I always have mixed feelings about the seventh month (in fact, you can read all about them here). June is filled with the excitement of a new summer and August is brimming with the anticipation of a new school year, but July– it’s just kind of there. But this year I had such a busy and productive July that I hardly know how I fit everything in! Here’s what I was up to this month:
June

18405In July I read a total of 7 books:

  1. The BFG by Roald Dahl
  2. Animal Farm by George Orwell (Spanish translation)
  3. Illusion by Nadette Rae Rodgers
  4. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
  5. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  6. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  7. Sphere by Michael Crichton

I read so many amazing books this month (I gave 6 five-star ratings!!!), which means that picking a favorite is incredibly difficult. However, I think I’m going to have to go with Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Not only is this an amazing work from a historical perspective (I love the Civil War and Reconstruction setting), but it’s also an incredible tale of romance, family, war, poverty, feminism, and challenging social norms. It took me a while to read, but it was worth every minute!

Full reviews of all of these books are in the works!

June (1)The bulk of my July consisted of continuing with my internship, spending time with family, and working on the various writing/reading projects I decided to tackle. The highlight of the month was definitely my family’s annual camping trip at White Lake State Park. This year was our fourteenth consecutive year camping there, and I never get tired of it!

Camping is just such a great way to unplug and take some time to simply relax. It’s a lot of work, to be sure– cooking and cleaning and setting up the site and unpacking– but it’s absolutely worth it in the end. There’s nothing better than lounging by the lake, roasting marshmallows over a campfire, and sleeping in a cozy tent at night. Plus, it provides some excellent reading time!

On a different note, I saw Finding Dory and LOVED it. ❤ I couldn’t resist mentioning it!

tumblr_o9nhbxmtWo1tstd16o4_500

June (2)

July was a month of productivity for me. Even with my busy schedule of interning, spending time with friends, and going camping, I still managed to write and read more than I ever expected I would.

CNW_Winner_555-1During the first half of the month I managed to reach my 25,000 word goal for Camp NaNoWriMo, a feat that I thought would take me the entire month at least. I was working on writing a second draft of a novel I finished during NaNoWriMo a few years ago, so I did have a bit to work with already. While this is by no means a complete draft, I’m nevertheless ecstatic to finally have a decent foundation to work off of in the future. Who knows, maybe a NaNoWriMo is in the cards for this November?

2016-07-16 09.53.32I also participated in the BookTubeAthon this month and I exceeded all of my expectations of how much I would be able to read. Because of my camping trip I was away for about half of the readathon, but I still managed to get a lot of reading done. I love participating in the BookTubeAThon, especially when the online bookish community is really excited about it, too. I already can’t wait for next year’s event!

Here are some notable posts from my blog this past month:

How was your July? What books did you read? What fun things did you do? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Writing

Let’s Go: Camp NaNoWriMo!

Let's Go_ CAMP NANOWRIMO

It’s that time of year again: Camp NaNoWriMo is finally here! My experience with Camp NaNoWriMo last July was pretty much a dud (I only managed to write a few thousand words) but this year I feel much more prepared and ready to write, write, WRITE.

What is Camp NaNoWriMo, you ask? Camp NaNo is a more relaxed version of National Novel Writing Month that takes place in April and July every year. Instead of the usual mandated goal of 50,000 words, Camp NaNo gives writers the flexibility to set their own word count goals. Moreover, you don’t have to write a novel: you could write a series of short stories, a play, poetry, whatever floats your boat! To find out more info about Camp NaNo, check out their website here.

CNW_Participant

This year I’m planning on writing another draft of the novel I wrote for actual NaNoWriMo one year when I was in high school. I’ve actually been working on this story for YEARS– the first horrible beginnings of it were written when I was in sixth grade!– so I’m really excited to revisit it and shape it into something that I’m really proud of. Realistically, though, I know the chances of me reaching 50,000 words are really slim, so I’m going to set myself a goal of 25,000 words. I’ll be ecstatic if I can manage to write more than that, but I’ll also be really happy if I can simply reach that goal.

On the official Camp NaNoWriMo website my username is nutfreenerd, so be sure to message me if you’re also participating! I’d love to chat with other people about how their writing is coming along!

Are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month? Have you done so in the past, or in any other of their events? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Writing

Camp NaNoWriMo is HERE!

www.nutfreenerd.com

Camp NaNoWriMo has begun, and I am so excited!! I’ve packed my backpack, my hiking gear, and my s’more supplies, so I am ready to set off. Of course, Camp NaNoWriMo isn’t really an outdoor camping adventure. Rather, it’s a month of writing as much as possible- ideally to reach the goal of 50,000 words.

Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which is normally in November) has shined on July once more this year. Writers from around the country (and even the globe!) are gearing up with their pens and keyboards to create some seriously fantastic stories, poems, plays, anything! It officially began yesterday, but it’s definitely not too late to join in on the fun!

Camp-Participant-2015-Web-Banner

My decision to participate in this event this year was sparked by two distinct reasons: 1) this is my last summer of doing nothing before college, so I might as well get some writing accomplished! and 2) an idea for a story suddenly came out of the shower head one night (as always) and popped into my mind, conveniently in time for Camp NaNoWriMo. My goal is to reach 25,000 words, so hopefully I can get there by the end of the month!

On the official Camp NaNoWriMo website my username is nutfreenerd, so be sure to message me if you’re also participating! I’d love to chat with other people about how their writing is coming along!

Are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month? Have you done so in the past, or in any other of their events? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Books

Book Review: WHY I WRITE

Why I Write by George OrwellAuthor: George Orwell

Number of Pages: 120

Publisher: Penguin Books

Release Date: 1946

“Whether puncturing the lies of politicians, wittily dissecting the English character or telling unpalatable truths about war, Orwell’s timeless, uncompromising essays are more relevant, entertaining and essential than ever in today’s era of spin.”

– Goodreads.com

This book is actually a collection of four essays written by George Orwell in the 1940s. Prior to this I had only read his novel 1984, which I loved (click here to read my review of it!) so I was really excited to see what his nonfiction writing was like. First I’ll give my thoughts on each essay individually, and then I’ll discuss my overall feeling about the collection.

“Why I Write” – 4 out of 5 smileys: It was really interesting to read about Orwell’s passion for writing, although I wish he had talked more about his own personal experiences and feelings rather than about writing in general. The title of this essay is a bit misleading, I think. However, the parts where he does discuss his own personal experiences with writing are excellent and really made him feel like more of a person to me rather than merely an author’s name on a book.

“The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius” – 3 out of 5 smileys: This was my least favorite essay in this collection. For the most part it was talking about the politics in England at the time, which became quite dull after a while. Still, it was interesting to read this from the point of view of someone living before WWII ended. My favorite part is when Orwell discusses the political plan he would propose to improve England’s government. I didn’t expect this to be in a collection titled Why I Write, but it was nevertheless an intriguing read.

“A Hanging” – 4 out of 5 smileys: Despite its short length, this essay is incredibly powerful. It really makes you think about how dehumanizing war is and how it can alter how we view other people, even though they are simply human beings like ourselves. I actually gasped when I read the last sentence- it’s that striking!

“Politics and the English Language” – 5 out of 5 smileys: This was my favorite of the four essays in this collection. I could completely understand Orwell’s argument against the direction the English language is heading in. The scary thing is that he wrote this essay over sixty years ago- imagine what he would say about the English language today! He used plenty of evidence to support his claims, and the quotes he incorporated really helped to illustrate exactly what he was trying to prove. I love how he makes the distinction between literary and political language as well, because it’s something that not many people take the time to emphasize. As someone who absolutely loves writing, I had such a great time reading this essay!

Overall, I quite enjoyed this collection of essays, even though I would have liked more discussion pertaining to the actual title of the collection. Nevertheless, Orwell’s writing is exceptional and it’s clear that he was an incredibly brilliant man. I can’t wait to read more of his work!

My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) 4 out of 5 smileys

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Definitely! I don’t necessarily think you have to read any of Orwell’s writing before reading this, although I think you can appreciate where he is coming from more if you have.

What novels or other works by George Orwell would you recommend? What are your thoughts on his books? Are there any other essay collections by different authors that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY