June ‘22 Afternoon Tea with SJ

Good afternoon to you!

I know, I was going to write a blog post last week on my amazing list of Japanese books to read over the summers, but alas, it has yet to see the light of the day. Perhaps next month??

Today, I’m excited to be celebrating my third blogiversary on SJ Barnard!! This year, I didn’t plan anything special because…well, just because? (I totally didn’t forget about it, honest.) If you want to ask me questions about my blog or have any other comments/things you would like to interrogate me on, feel free to do so in the comments below!

So, without further ado, let me introduce to you June ‘22 Afternoon Tea with SJ…

​​-June Afternoon Tea ‘22 Setting-

Location: Wisteria garden

Tea: matcha soy latte, lavender London fog, Editor’s blend

Offered with: Kashiwa mochi, cloud yuzu macaroons, polar bear souffle pancakes with strawberries

Last month, I suffered from a reading slump and a bookstagramme slump. I took the time off to review my reading ethics as well as what kind of content I actually wanted to post on IG. Which was super helpful, because now I feel like what I post and what I read match (wait, it didn’t before??) and I love the new aesthetic. If you’re curious about it, you can find the account @bookish_bishop

May/June Books:

  1. Subculture Literature Theory–Eiji Otsuka 
  2. Yukiguni (Snow Country)–Yasunari Kawabata
  3. Kagirinaku Toumei Ni Chikai Blue (Almost Transparent Blue)–Ryu Murakami
  4. Such Fine Boys–Patrick Modiano
  5. A Grief Observed–C. S. Lewis
  6. The Dragon and the Raven–G. A. Henty
  7. The Song of Roland–Anonymous
  8. The Order of Time–Carlo Rovelli
  9. Watakushi ni Totte Kaku to Iu Koto (What Writing Means to Me)–Ayako Miura
  10. Four Quartets–T. S. Eliot

Currently Reading: Inception & Philosophy, Casino Royale, Imi ga Nakereba Swing wa Nai

More tea, anyone? Recently, I re-discovered my love for matcha latte/frappucinos and am constantly thinking about them. The Kashiwa mochi is a bit late season, but it’s still worth it!

Music 

I have a strange feeling I didn’t listen to much music this month. I did find many classical CDs at the library I absolutely love and don’t want to return; I also got a chance to go to the record store and excavated Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky concertos. 

Practising: n/a

Listening to: Shogeki (Yuko Ando), Mixed Nuts (Official HIGE DANdism), Comedy (Gen Hoshino), Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem Op. 45

Movie/TV Shows 

Have you tried the cloud yuzu macaroons? Yuzu is my favourite citrus fruit, so nothing can go wrong with it! 

This month, I didn’t watch many movies or TV shows, but some of the shows I absolutely LOVE to pieces are:

  • Nanba MG5…feat. Shōtaro Mamiya as Tsuyoshi Nanba, who comes from a Yankee family (which basically means delinquents, although they follow their own rules so it’s not like they do whatever they want to) and wants to spend a normal high school life while trying to hide this fact from his family who’s expecting him to take over the Kanto region. 
  • Waru…feat. Mio Imada (& other casts worth crushing on) who plays the part of a new employee at a traditional Japanese company, she ends up revolutionizing the company structure as she works toward achieving her dream goal of becoming “big” in the company.

Manga/Anime

Okay, so this month, I spent way too much time (and possibly money) on wotakatsu. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, it basically means anything to do with supporting the manga/anime/characters/idol group you are currently crushing on. For me, that looked like starting my annual re-read of Tokyo Ghoul (it’s like my third or fourth time), making acrylic key chains, AOT badges, student ID for Nanamin from JJK, etc., etc. I have so many other ideas for wotakatsu this summer and might be sharing them, IDK…(   ¯꒳¯ )b✧

Some Manga/Anime highlights of the month:

  • Oresama Teacher…by Izumi Tsubaki (auth. Of Nozaki-Kun) that I am head over heels
  • (re:) Spy x Family…by Tatsuya Endo that I (and a lot of ppl) am raving about
  • Tokyo Ghoul re-read (again.)…also, Chojin X by Sui-sensei is excellent!
  • Blue Period…a new love! I can’t wait to catch up on the current volume
  • Monster…by Naoki Urasawa. Made for binging and for digging up academic papers on the work. 

If you remember me from two weeks ago, I bravely (?) announced I will be taking it slow, meaning I won’t be writing this month, but spend the time brainstorming and configuring Notion (another new love!!) so I can maybe re-start working from July. I think my brainstorming thing was working well up until like last week, but this week I hadn’t spent as much time on it, so I’m still undecided on what to work on during July. In a way, it feels like a mild brain slog which is always not fun; at the same time, I think I could take this month of rest & hope to come back strong into writing starting July. 

Would you like another cup of editor’s blend? It’s my favourite tea for writing/reading sessions, excellent to be had hot or cold. This month was slow considering academics as well. I was taking an Intro to Hebrew course at my church which was loads of fun & made me realise how theologically deep the Hebrew language was. I want to keep up my learning but haven’t figured out a way to do it yet. I’m also looking forward to my summer term coming up at uni where I’ll be taking poli-sci and philosophy, not to mention my year two registration is coming up. I don’t know, is it just me who finds it a great joy to brainstorm course schedules and plans??

This is completely a side note, but souffle pancakes are best had right after they’re done. We’ve tried many times to make souffle pancakes–and sort of epically failed. I mean, they’re still good flat but that would just be normal pancakes…

Anyhow. 

Life has been exciting because now the weather is starting to hold and it actually looks like summer! I went on a downtown stroll with a uni/church friend, and we had an epic time going around all of the Japanese stores (like Muji, Daiso, Seria, etc.) in the vicinity. I also got to go on a date with Mom (which we hadn’t had for the longest time ever) and we had ramen and went to more Japanese stores (like Uniqlo and wotaku stores). This week has been a mini-vacation for me since I went on a sleep over to a Japanese friend’s house where we spent even more time reminiscing about our favourite manga fandoms. Good times, I say. 

So, life has been good. I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for three years now, and I couldn’t have done it without you! Thank you for being a part of SJ Barnard, and I hope that you have an even better summer ahead of you. ⸜( ´ ꒳ ` )⸝♡︎

Thank you for reading! How was your June? What are some of the highlights this month? Do you have any questions about blogging or about me? What are some of your summer plans? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

Happy First Blogiversary!

Hullo, world!

I have waited so long for this day to arrive. *insert dramatic fanfares*

It’s my first blogiversary! 

Admittedly, I had completely forgotten the exact date I started blogging halfway into this year, and someone had a blogiversary which reminded me, “Hey, when was it that I started blogging?” Thankfully, WordPress is better at keeping these things in line than I am. 

We need a Gryffindor celebration for these types of things.

Today, I will be revealing the stats of my blog (dun-dun-dah-dun!) and answering some of the questions I salvaged from cherished friends. (Many thanks to my beloved sister who is my greatest writing advocate, Emma Starr, and Kat!)

So without further ado, here we go…

The Stats: 

Total Views: 2,060

Total Visitors: 619

Total Likes: 302

Total Comments: 55

Total Followers: 73

Total Email Followers: 17

Total Posts: 53

Total Words: 45,319

Best Views Ever: May 22, 2020

Most Popular Day & Time: Saturday on 3pm (Afternoon Tea time!)

Top 5 Country by Views:

  1. Canada
  2. United States
  3. India
  4. United Kingdom
  5. Australia

Top 5 Posts:

  1. The Original Outstanding Blogger Award + WIP
  2. Stalking Authors: J. R. R. Tolkien
  3. 4 Stages of My Writing Life (And What That Means for You)
  4. 5 Favourite Contemporary YA Reads
  5. The Quarantined Characters Tag

Wow. I mean, I started blogging last June with no idea how it really worked, let alone know what brand design was. I was hoping I’d achieve the 50 follower mark before my first blogiversary, and I have 73. For someone who didn’t know the internet existed until she was fourteen, this is more than unbelievable.

Me with the wonders of modern technology.

I also didn’t get many comments earlier on in my blogging, which was a little discouraging. But come this year, the feedback and the audience growth had been incredible. 

When people look at the stats, I know some people who may be discouraged. For me, looking at the stats is a way of celebrating my journey. It’s what happens between the journey that counts, not the fact of reaching the end. 

The Questions:

This is a little Q & A section where I answer questions about blogging and writing!

On Blogging:

From my dear sister: 

  1. Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging as a way of building my platform. As an aspiring author, this was the number one advice I was getting from people who were walking ahead of me. Plus, I kind of liked the idea of blogging. 

  1. You’ve been blogging for a year. Do you wish to have started earlier?

Absolutely! I mean, I’ve been blogging on and off my Japanese blog (recently updated) for two years before I started S. J. Barnard and also science blogged for my science leadership program (where I wrote blog posts off research papers). This actually helped me build a groundwork for blogging every week before I got into blogging here. Without that, I may have not been able to consistently post each week. Plus, I learnt the importance of citing sources in text!

Because reseaching is always the fun part!
  1. If you could change one thing in your blogging, what would it be?

Hmm. I’ve already changed my theme and I like how it looks, so maybe the way I update. I think now that I’ve switched to posting twice a week, updating my followers on this has become somewhat disjointed. Which sort of ties into the email list I am trying to grow, so maybe learning more about email lists might be one thing. 

  1. Have you made new relationships through blogging? If so, what have you gained from them?

I’ve definitely made new relationships through blogging. I still remember the first time I posted on my blog. A few people I didn’t know at all were my first audiences (although I did enlist my family and friends’ help). I remember being so terrified and excited at the same time. In this year, I got to meet more wonderful bloggers who were more in my niche.

From these amazing people, I’ve learnt there were people out there like me who cared about the written works as much as I did. That was an empowerment lesson I will never forget.

  1. What have you learnt from blogging? 

Patience and Persistence. One, blogging takes a lot of work. You need grit and persistence to keep blogging even when things are tough. Two, you need patience. It takes some time until your blog starts getting traffic traction and also for you to figure out your “voice”. Although I love blogging, it’s not always the golden age. Sometimes I publish a post I put extra effort into, and it doesn’t get much feedback until later on. Other times my life commitments (if you recall my chaotic college application season) present roadblocks in blogging. 

But through it all, I’ve learnt just how valuable patience and persistence is. 

On Writing: 

From Kat:

  1. Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?

Most of the time, I get them from my dreams. (Now before anyone of you go into the corner and groan, hear me out.) I often die in my dreams. I know, that sounds kind of morbid. Lately, I have been slashed to ribbons, machine-gunned to death, and your brain (or my brain) is actually demented enough to feel some kind of pain. I also meet very vivid characters in my dreams. Lisa from Juliet the 1100th was in a recurring dream and she kept coming back no matter how hard I tried to get rid of her. 

Every people in my dream who kills me.

Now, this doesn’t mean I write everything off my dreams. Sometimes people pop into my head at random occasions, and that had been the start of stories as well. Usually, I write down an interesting dream, then see if I can find another great idea to match it. Also, Pinterest is a great option.

  1. What does your writing process look like?

I covered this a little in a few blog posts before, but in bullet points, it would be:

  1. Brainstorm
  2. Write
  3. Outline + Brainstorm
  4. Write
  5. Edits

Although admittedly, only a select few made it to the Edit stage as of yet.

From Emma Starr:

  1. How do you inspire yourself? (i. e. Take walks, read, etc.) 

I like to joke I’m fuelled with hot chocolate and maple Earl Grey tea. Which is true to some extent, since I only drink Asian instant coffee mixes which are technically not coffee. 

Mayhaps this is the source of all evil authors.

In all honesty, I do a lot of things other people do. Walks are my favourite, and I can walk for kilometres after kilometres–5~10km is a good distance for walks–talking to myself or to my siblings. (Sadly, my siblings do not take it too kindly when I talk to myself, so they pretend to listen.) I read books outside the genre my main WIP is in. I do karaoke with my sister for breaks. I listen to Shostakovich when I need it, and to PinnochinoP when I need encouraging. Also, Pinterest browsing. 


Parting Words:

And as we come to the conclusion of this astounding event called blogiversary, I just want to take a moment to thank you all. 

Thank you to Jane Maree who helped me start thinking of writing seriously.

Thank you to the YWW community and Brett who took time to help me realise that writing was something professional. 

Thank you to the Story Embers staff and friends who helped me find others who were like me. 

Thank you to Cristian Mihai, a blogging giant who first took notice of my blog. 

Thank you to my friends who managed not to ask me with gaping jaws, “Wait, what?” when I mentioned my writing blog. 

Thank you to my family who challenged me to think deeply about what mattered to me, and reminded me to take breaks after long stretches glued to my chair. 

And at last, thank you to the blog-sphere people who were there to support me and help me find my “voice”. I am so thankful to God that we could live in an age where I could meet and connect with people halfway across the globe. 

As I continue this journey, may you be blessed today wherever you are.