Armchair BEA Day 1 – Intro & Best Practices in the Online Book Community

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Hi there peeps! I totally forgot to set up my first post earlier for Armchair Book Expo! If you don’t know what this is, I participated in 2015 and last year and had a lot of fun, but basically it’s for those of us who are unable to attend the convention Book Expo America, but who still want to participate in talking about all things books with the community.

First up, the introductions!

  1. I am . . . Rayna!
  2. Currently . . . Answering these prompts and writing this post late! 😀
  3. I love . . . anime and manga, drawing, my husband, Christ, my friends, Kakakshi Hatake, 707, learning, and other things. Oh, and of course, books.
  4. My favorite . . . book? Uh, well, that’s very hard to choose, so I’ll say my favorite genre is fantasy and sci-fi! Okay, that’s two answers, but still…
  5. My least favorite . . . April Morning. So boring. I’m not into classics as much as I want to be.
  6. My current read . . . A Court of Wings and Ruin (and a huge list of manga that just keeps growing…)
  7. My summer plans . . . My husband and I are going to Disney World the last week of August! 😀 Otherwise, just working, hanging with friends, my birthday. That’s it.
  8. My buddy . . . my hubby!
  9. My blog/channel/social media . . . Well, if you’re reading this you’re on my blog, so…. But here’s my Instagram, Twitter, tumblr, and YouTube channel.
  10. The best . . . thing ever is being happy doing what you’re passionate about.

Alright, now that you know me a little better, let’s move onto the SERIOUS TOPIC.

Best Practices in the Online Book Community

So when I think of this topic, I think about many things. The prompt ranges from time management to social media exposure to ethical obligations and beyond. I think what I want to focus on is posting the content that you want to read.

When it comes to the online book community, there are many factors that go into being a book blogger: consistency, reading books (duh), reviewing, replying to comments, etc. And I think through a lot of that we can get lost and forget why we started to blog and why we wanted to talk about the books that we love.

Writing about the topics that you’re passionate about when it comes to discussions rather than joining the hype train (though there’s nothing wrong with that) can make the difference between a discussion that has a lot of potential and a lot of back and forth constructive commentary, to discussion that falls flat and doesn’t get any feedback on. It’s important to remember to state your own opinions without getting too full of yourself or of hurting others in the process.

It’s a delicate balance, but when you write about the things that you actually want to talk about, whether it be book tags or hauls or reviews or whatever, by you talking about it because you actually want to talk about it will not only have an effect on the way you write your post, but on your readership as well.

Your readers will understand you more and get to know you more, and they’ll also know that you’re being a lot more genuine in your posts than just by going along with the mold.

Talk about the things you want and don’t be afraid to do so. It’s your blog, your space, and you’re allowed to talk about whatever is really on your mind and heart. (Of course, if you have other obligations that you promised to do, you better make sure you do those, too.)

Let’s Chat! ^w^

Are you participating in Armchair BEA? What are some of the best book community practices you’ve picked up over time? Tell me all the things!

Beautiful Books 2016| Introducing the Novel

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Hey peeps and welcome to Beautiful Books, hosted by the lovely Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up & Further In. What is Beautiful Books? It’s very similar to the monthly link up of Beautiful People, but this month it focuses on NaNoWriMo writing projects rather than specific characters in the novels. You obviously don’t have to be participating in NaNo in order to join; it can be any writing project.

So for today I’m going to be discussing the project I will be working on during NaNo, which is the one I started for Camp NaNoWriMo this past April: The Thief and the Magician. I want to restart this novel because even though I didn’t get very far the first time, I still didn’t enjoy what I was writing almost at all. I love my characters Nara and Mikail, but I didn’t like the way the chapters were coming out. I literally rewrote every single chapter that month to improve it because I couldn’t stand what I had written the day before.

So for NaNoWriMo 2016 I’m going to be working on this story of mine that I really want to tell. With that, let’s jump into the questions:

1. What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

I honestly have no idea where the initial spark came from. I have a writing journal where I write any idea that comes into my head that I would like to one day use in a novel, and I must have been looking at it one day because I have written in there: the thief + the magician. I don’t know if I wrote it in after I thought about writing it, which looks like the case considering I have more details than I normally write in my ideas area, but that’s probably where it started. I’ve had the idea for it since at least March or April of this year, so not too long.

2. Describe what your novel is about!

Here’s my current working synopsis:

Nara is a thief of the Rising City, and she’s been one since she was a little girl, trained and abandoned by her father. Now, as a twenty year old, she is one of the most infamous thieves in all of the Rising City. But when one mistake almost costs her her life, she is thrown into a life debt by someone she never would have thought she’d ally herself with: a Magician.

Mikail is a Magician, a rare breed that is seldom seen in the world anymore, and he is still honing his skills. When his powers manifested at a young age, he didn’t expect to be in the eye of every powerful person in the Rising City – especially that of the Queen. But when one day his magic goes haywire and he saves a thief from most certain death, he thinks that maybe she is his ticket to freedom.

Though the two cross and their lives mix, neither one could be prepared for what happens to them – or their hearts.

It sounds good, right? That’s the best synopsis I’ve ever written, and even I want to read this novel – but first, I have to write it!

3. What is your book’s aesthetics? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

I was seriously so excited for this question when I first read it, so here is my working aesthetic for my novel:

thiefmagician

4. Introduce us to each of your characters!

Nara is a twenty year old thief who has been on her own for the last eight years after her father passed and her mother left six years prior to that. She learned all she knows from her father, whom she loved and respected greatly, and continues to learn all she can to become the best thief in the Rising City. She’s brave, sarcastic, quick on her feet, intelligent, but sometimes she gets too cocky, which can cause her to get in a bit of trouble. She’s also afraid of thunder storms.

Mikail is an Illusionary Magician, a rare breed of Magician that is rarely, if ever, seen in the empire anymore. His skills have always been desired ever since he was a child. Now, at eighteen, he runs for his life. He may look pretty serious a lot of the time (resting bitch face is a curse, alas), but he’s actually pretty friendly and easy to get along with. He’s smart, kind, and has a compassionate heart, though that may one day lead to his downfall. He’s also afraid of heights and, on occasion, his own illusions.

The Queen is a powerful woman who looks to be in her mid thirties but some think she is much older than that as she never seems to age and she’s been on the throne for a long time. Her game is political ploys and schemes, always looking for the next thing that can continue to increase her power and hold over the Rising City and the empire. She is intelligent, cunning, swift, and full of secrets. Though she does have one fear that she doesn’t let anyone know or get a hold of.

The Lion is the Queen’s top guard, a man who is ruthless when it comes to serving his Queen. And like his Queen, he has very mysterious powers and secrets that none wish to uncover. He’s cruel, harsh, and cunning. He has no known weaknesses, which causes him to be even more of a threat. You do not want the Lion looking for you.

5. How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

What is this “preparation” you speak of? I hate outlining. With a passion. I also hate drafting, but I know it’s a necessary process when it comes to writing. I find that when I write out an outline all of my ideas go with it so I feel like I can’t write out what I’ve just written down. That’s why I like to keep as much as possible in my mind to write down for my story itself. I know my characters, what they look like, how old, and general appearances and personality, but it’s the story and how they act in the story that tells me who they are.

But I also do enjoy chocolate. So there’s that.

6. What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

Finishing it. Seriously. I haven’t finished a novel since NaNo 2014, and then I’m very close to finishing another novel I started for Camp NaNo 2015, but I have no clue how it really got to where it’s at in the story and it was turning into a trilogy at that point… So yeah, I’m looking forward to finishing it. If it’s even a one book thing, I have no idea. I have no end in mind, just a general story I want to tell.

But here’s what I hope to do:

  • Reach 50,000 words. (Duh.)
  • Get a nice romance going on. Maybe sexy times, we’ll see. OR just a nice friendship. I honestly don’t know where these characters are going to go in terms of that.
  • Learn all I can about my characters. Their ins and outs and everything in between.
  • Figure out what the hell I actually want to happen in the story.

7. List three things about your novel’s setting.

My novel mainly takes place in a city called the Rising City. I pictured it to have various sections around the city with grand buildings in the Shopping and Elite areas, warehouses and smaller houses in the Commons area, and then the Slums and Port. There’s large, elaborate buildings, museums, stores, a clock tower, beautiful lights, and such. They do have electricity in this world, but their modes of transportation is by horseback, caravan, or walking.

But here’s three general things:

  • The Commons houses the majority of the people in the Rising City, the capital of the Empire. It is also the main thoroughfare and festival celebration area. Parties, ftw!
  • The Elite area does have the Queen’s castle, a large, grandeur structure with opulent windows, details, and finery. It’s truly a beautiful sight, inside and out. Though, like all castles, there are secrets within its walls.
  • Past the Rising City is the Grand Highway, a large, open area of vast valleys and plains where travelers took refuge and could get to any other major city or town in the empire. It’s also wrought with dangerous creatures and mysterious beings and happenings.

8. What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in their way?

Both Nara and Mikail crave freedom, even if both are very different versions of it. Nara wishes for the freedom to come and go as she pleases without having to keep one eye open while she sleeps, while Mikail wants out of the City and into a land where he won’t be hunted and desired for his powers.

For Nara, she’s really her own worst enemy in a way because she holds all the power within herself to change her circumstances, her life, and make different decisions, but thievery is the only life she’s ever known and she feels a connection to her father because of it. There’s something slumbering within her that calls her to it, and she’s not sure she can stop.

As for Mikail, the Queen and the Lion are really who stand in his way. The Lion does the Queen’s bidding, and as the Queen wants Mikail for his power, he wants to get as far away as possible. He’d even be willing to give up his powers, somehow, for a chance at normalcy.

9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

I’m not sure as I don’t even know where I want my novel to go. But as I’m typing this out, more and more scenes are playing in my head – which is nice! – just not the ending. So I’m anticipating it just as much as everyone else! I do hope that both Nara and Mikail come to terms with something by the end, but I have a feeling they’ll have more to tell than what one novel can hold.

10. What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

I feel like the main themes of the book are acceptance, learning to face fears, and trusting in others.

When the book is over I’m hoping readers will feel one of these ways: 1) they’re craving more from these two, wanting to know what happens next; or 2) they feel like the story came full circle and that Nara and Mikail stand out in their own regard.

I want readers to leave the book feeling like they got to know two people who were in very different places in the world, but who came together and made the most of what they could.

There’s plenty I hope readers will get out of my story, but those are the main things.


I’m so excited to get started on rewriting this story. I glanced over the chapters I’ve already written, and there’s some things I’ll probably keep, but a lot I’m going to end up changing. I prefer writing in third person, but I might switch to first person while keeping the dual perspective. I feel like this story is going to be a ride and I am so excited to go on this journey with Nara and Mikail.

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? In three words tell me what your story is about! What do you hope readers of your story will take away from it? What genre does your story fit under? Tell me all the things!

Armchair BEA 2016 Days 1 & 2

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Made by Amber

Hey peeps, I’m joining in on Armchair BEA once again this year! If you don’t know what that is, it’s a way to join in all of the bookish fun from home while Book Expo America (BEA) takes place. I, like many others, couldn’t attend, so this is just a fun way to join in somehow! Since I totally forgot about this event with all of my excitement yesterday (more on this to come in my wrap up), I’m starting a little bit late. But that’s okay!

Day 1: Introduction & Diversity in Books

So the first day’s fun things include an introduction, so, here’s some things to know about me:

  1. What name do you prefer to use? Rayna is perfectly fine.
  2. How long have you been a book blogger? It’ll be two years in July. Crazy!
  3. Have you participated in ABEA before? Yes, last year!
  4. Do you have a favorite book? If you can’t pick one, then pick your most favorite of this moment. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas is DEFINITELY my favorite right now.
  5. If you could recommend one book blogger, who would it be and why? I’d recommend Dani @ Dani Reviews Things because she’s so upbeat about so many things, and she gives really well written reviews and topics. She’s a very nice person!
  6. If you could create a playlist that reflects your bookshelf, what would be the first song on the playlist? Man! I Feel Like a Woman by Shania Twain. I’m not even kidding. I’m pretty sure 97% of my shelf is by female authors with female main characters who kick ass in some way. WOMAN POWER, WOO!
  7. How do you arrange your bookshelves? Is there a rhyme or reason or not at all? I try to group my books into sections… like, my top shelf is some sci-fi and favorite fantasies, contemporaries… The next shelf is some favorites, the next is more fantasy, then more sci-fi/fantasy, then Harry Potter, urban fantasy, and more fantasy. Then the next is contemporary, lots of mix, but mostly fiction and contemporary, manga & comics, vampires, then a mix. Just look at the picture (this isn’t all of my books, just so you know, and it’s overflowing….):IMG_3143
  8. What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned so far through your reading this year so far? I think I’ve learned that I’ve become a little tougher when it comes to rating books and I try to really think about it more. I’ve also learned that I’m very, very passionate about certain books and my feelings about them. I think that tends to reflect in my reviews, and I love that.

The second part of day one is a discussion on diversity in books and the publishing industry. Whose voices do we see? Whose voices do we need more of? Where do we find representation lacking and what can we as bloggers do to address that? What about negative or stereotypical representation?

I personally have seen a lot more authors of color, religion, etc. start to become published more often, especially in the YA world. I think a lot of people anticipate for it, and I, for one, enjoy the author’s work that are published! I don’t generally look to see if an author is of a “minority” or whatever it may be, but rather if I’m interested in the story and characters themselves. But I do understand the importance and I think it’s fantastic that there’s more diversity being introduced more and more.

As far as lacking, I think it’s lacking a lot of things. Like, a lot. I’d love to read more about people of different religions, cultures, race, gender, sexual identity, etc. I think that as bloggers we can really voice our concerns on as many platforms as possible until a change is made.

And as for the negative and stereotypical representation: it’s always going to be there. I’m sorry to say, but it will be. Not everyone is of a like mind, or can be, for that matter. But we can still make leaps and bounds to erase it as much as possible.

Day 2: Aesthetic Concerns – Books & Blogs

This topic is all about how we look at books and blogs: pretty covers draw us toward the books, and pretty, clean, organized blogs make us coming back for more. But is that really all there is?

The Books: How often do you judge a book by its cover? How often are you surprised by what you find? Do you strategize and make sure every book in your series has the same cover design (as far as you are able to) and type? How important is it for the visual art on the outside of the book to match or coordinate with the literature art on the inside?

I don’t know that I judge a book by its cover, if I’m being honest. I seriously don’t! Okay, if a book cover is kind of hideous I’m just like, “What is that?” But I… okay, yeah, I judge. Shush. But sometimes I am surprised when it comes to books because they can have a really hideous cover and have some of the best content, and then some of the most beautiful covers are just…not good inside.

Oh man, I try SO HARD to make sure my covers match in some way, but I know that that’s not always the case. I love it when a series flows so, so nicely. But then sometimes the publishing industry just loves to see us readers squirm and change the covers mid-series. Like. No. But as far as the art matching the words on the inside, yes, I do think it’s important. Don’t have just random colors and big font. Try to make it look at least decent.

Some good examples of the art matching the content of the book:

Like, look at those covers. Not only aesthetically pleasing, but also matching to the content! I love it!

So yes, I do think that aesthetics are important, but they aren’t everything, necessarily.

The Blog: As a book blogger, in whatever form that takes, branding is important. Your colors, your fonts, your style of review, all of these things come together to make the “brand” of your blog – something that makes your reviews and posts and websites, all your various content, immediately recognizable to the people looking for you. What do you do to create a brand on your site? Do you think about these things?

I’m going to be honest: I don’t think about it super often. Like, I love the fonts I chose for my blog for the titles and the body of my posts. And I love my minimalist theme because I don’t want to be distracted by colors, personally, on my own blog. I’ve changed my banner and icon a couple of times, and I’m still not satisfied, so I think that’s one thing I’m going to change several times, probably.

I don’t know what I’d call my brand, actually. Simple? Clean? Long-winded? I try to make it easily accessible and organized to the best of my abilities, and that’s what I look for in my own blog. When I write reviews, I focus mainly on the characters because they’re, you know, the biggest part of the story. I then try to focus on the plot, or certain aspects of the plot where I can’t spoil things for people (at least not majorly).

As far as recognizability? I don’t know if when people see my blog they instantly think of it as being my blog? When I look at other people blogs, I notice colors or certain fonts or styles in which they write their posts, so I’m assuming it’s the same for people who read my blog?

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

So that wraps up the first two days of Armchair BEA! I’m sorry this is kind of late, but better last than never, right? Tell me all of your thoughts on book aesthetics, as well as blog aesthetics! Do you think about them often and do they affect what you pick up or look at? Also, what do you think about the diversity being shown in books and the publishing industry today?

Armchair BEA 2015

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Made by Amber

So I discovered this cool thing today for those of use that couldn’t attend Book Expo America (BEA), and that is Armchair BEA (ABEA), a cool event type of thing that’s running from today, May 27th, to June 1st in which people can chill on their couch and join in on the book related fun from home. This year’s theme is all about diversity.

For today’s post it’s an introduction type of thing where I’ll answer five out of ten questions that they give (I wish we could answer all ten, but alas, we cannot).

1. Tell us a bit about yourself: How long have you been blogging? Where are you from? How did you get into blogging?

On this particular blog, I’ve been blogging since July 20, 2014. Almost a full year of blogging has gone by and wow, has a lot changed and improved over that time (I love it!). I’m from Massachusetts. I got into blogging from joining the Booktube community and realizing how much easier it is, for me, to talk about books and things I love in writing rather than verbally. Plus I’m able to get out more thoughts when I write them down, I think.

2. Why do you loving reading and blogging?

I’ve always loved reading (my parents can attest to that). Even if I didn’t read a lot or often until my twenties, as a kid and teen I read when I could and always something that I knew I’d like. I hated being forced to read things I didn’t care for in school, but when I discovered the books I could read for fun – that’s where my love for reading grew.

As for blogging, I love my blog. Seriously, I love it. I’m so proud of myself for sticking with this blog and seeing how many people enjoy my content and sharing their own thoughts and opinions with me. It makes me feel special, yes, but it’s also so great to know that there are others out there who enjoy the same content as I do.

3. What does diversity mean to you?

To me, diversity means something out of the norm. I know a lot of people expect white heroes and heroines, and that’s fine, really, but it also means allowing in other cultures, races, communities into the mix and not just as a side plot point. Main characters of color, of different sexual orientation, of different religious backgrounds – those are interesting and it helps me understand those diversities better.

4. What is your favorite genre and why?

Fantasy, regardless if it’s adult or YA, is my favorite genre because  there’s just so much content out there, so many different worlds and races and languages and species that have yet to be discovered. It’s amazing how some people can come up with entire new worlds and make them seem and feel real to a reader. You can get action, adventure, romance, comedy, etc, all rolled up into one, but with a more magical or fantastical element thrown into it.

5. What book are you reading right now?

The Assassin’s Blade” by Sarah J Maas (I’m on the last novella and will most likely finish tonight) and also “Unravel Me” by Tahereh Mafi. Both are really good, but it’s taking me forever to read them. Must. Finish. Soon.

So that is it for the first day/post of ABEA! I hope you got to know a little more about me if you didn’t already know some of this stuff. These next few days might include double posts as I have content I want to share with you guys that I’ve already had planned on top of the posts for ABEA, so I hope you won’t mind (it’s kind of out of the norm for me).

Are you participating in ABEA? Share with me your introductory post! Let me also know what your favorite genre is and why. I’d love to hear!