Summer ‘21 Afternoon Tea with SJ

Good Afternoon!

Today, I’ll be sharing my summer with you. It felt like a really long and short summer versus last year where time was like a small creek. This year was filled to brim with adventures &c, so let’s dive straight into it!

-Summer ‘21 Afternoon Tea Setting-

Location: Beachside park

Tea: Hibiscus, lime-lemon-basil, Mint-and-Grapefruit

Offered With: Muscat parfait, melon cream soda, white roll cake

I got to read a lot of books over the summer–the total being over thirty-something books–and although there were books I wanted to read anc couldn’t, I’m happy with what I did read…well, except some of the reading I did for my university syllabus. (My family would know all about it, given I ranted about the need for it to burn in the seventh circle.)

Summer Reads

  1. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue (fic)
  2. When We Were Orphans (lit fic)
  3. Bushido (Jpn nfic)
  4. Miura Woshin Essay (Jpn nfic)
  5. World History from Maps (Jpn nfic)
  6. Murakami Haruki’s top 100 playlist (Jpn nfic)
  7. Counting by 7s (mg)
  8. Rashomon (Jpn clsc)
  9. Good・bye (Jpn clsc)
  10. Fangirl
  11. Writer As A Vocation (Jpn nfic)
  12. The Art of Flight (nfic)
  13. The Chronicles of Narnia (clsc)
  14. Shayō (Jpn clsc)
  15. The Bacchae (uni sylb/O4)
  16. Love Does (nfic)
  17. 1Q84 v1-3 (Jpn fic)
  18. The Communist Manifesto (uni sylb)
  19. Carrie Pilby (YA)
  20. Till We Have Faces (clsc)
  21. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (uni sylb)
  22. Grettir’s Saga (uni sylb)
  23. The Prince (uni sylb/O5)
  24. Unfamiliar Fishes (uni sylb)
  25. Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (uni sylb)
  26. My Brother’s Spare (YA)

Overall, I’m glad I’m almost finished reading my first term university syllabus books. 🙂 

Would you like more of the white roll cake? Or another glass of hibiscus tea? 

Anyways, I rediscovered my love for many things in this section over the summer as well since I went on a manga re-read and movie binges! 

Music 

Practising: Gurenge (Kimetsu no Yaiba op), KaiKaiKitan (Jujutsu Kaisen op1), Chopin Etude op.10 no.3

Listening to: Prokofiev piano concerto no. 2-3, Tchaikovsky Symphony 4, 5, 6, Max Richter’s Voyager

This summer’s most-listened-to playlist on Spotify

Movie 

I watched a lot of movies in July since my family was away for camping and I was sick for a week. Some of them were fantastic, some were just okay…

  1. Vancouver’s Sunrise–after the all-Japanese baseball team back in the early 20th century
  2. Honey and Thunder–based on the Naoki prize winning book about piano prodigies
  3. Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence–the classic feat. Sakamoto Ryuichi
  4. Tenet–Nolan keeps getting better
  5. Kingsman–bordering on okay and not okay
  6. The Imitation Game–I love Alan Turing and I love Benedic Cumberbatch!
  7. Kill Your Darlings–also based on a book
  8. Interstellar–my new fav!!
  9. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them–re-watch…Newt Scammader is simply too cute!!
  10. The Crimes of Grindewald–Newt + Theseus. Also, “Your eyes look like a salamander’s.”
  11. The Prestige–earlier Nolan work. Okay. 
  12. Memento–earliest Nolan work? Not okay…
  13. Norwegian Forest–based on the Murakami book. Stunning cinematography albeit a tad graphic
  14. Emma–re-watch. Absolutely hilariously Austen
  15. Castle in the Sky–classic Ghibli. Prob. in the top 5 list. 
  16. Nausicaa–I’m the fan of the manga, but the movie was amazing as well!!

Manga/Anime

I did a manga reading challenge and am happy to say I got through most of them!

  1. Tokyo Ghoul + Tokyo Ghoul re: (Re-read it for the third time? Gets better with every re-read.)
  2. Attack on Titan (up to vol. 33, waiting for the library to acquire vol. 34!!)
  3. Kimetsu no Yaiba (This finally arrived from Japan. I cried buckets and it’s definitely a must-read.)
  4. The Promised Neverland vol.15-19 (I am still waiting to get vol. 20…)
  5. My Hero Academia various + Anime season 1-3 (It keeps getting better and better.)
Everyone should read this manga and cry as much as I did.

(Psst! I also have a new Goodreads account solely for manga-reads. It’s at: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/138785634-iaphos)

Wow, that was long. I think I’ll have another glass of mint-grapefruit tea. The muscat parfait is absolutely gorgeous, too!

So, writing life… *insets crickets chirping*

As much as it pains me to say, I did not have a great writing life this summer. I have not been able to move up my wc since the last WIP update I did in July which has been kind of depressing to me…

However. 

In the bigger scheme of things, I got a few wc tucked between various projects, trying to sew up loose ends, brainstorm, outline, worldbuild, etc., etc. I feel a bit stand-stilled so I’m not sure how y writing will work out in September, but crossing my fingers I might be able to get back on track!

This is where things get really exciting. University is starting soon. In fact, orientation week is from Monday!!! *inserts cheers and fanfares and confettis*

For those of you who have been long SJ Barnard readers, you might remember me flailing about university and my long dream of getting there. Well, I am happy to announce to you that I am finally (and officially) enrolled in a university with first year courses of my dreams (maybe) hoarding brand-new textbooks and binge-reading syllabii. I am so excited I can just burst!!

So, cheers and onto the next topic…

Lifestyle & Living

More tea, anyone? Have you tried the melon cream soda? They’re all the rage in Japan as being Showa-aesthetic and “emoi”. (My siblings hate the word!! It means emotional, btw.)

Life has been good. I survived a five-day long camping trip to Whistler, three-day intensive karate camp (where we won the talent show with Kimetsu and GReeeN songs), one and half week illness (not Covid, thank goodness), and various online university prep workshops. That, and reading pretty much summed up my summer.

I also got my first ever MacBook. It’s MacBook Air with M1, rosegold *swoons* and works like a dream compared to my old Dell. I’ve yet to name it but I’m leaning towards Rhindon, spelt with nne-ending. (In case you’re wondering, it’s the name of Peter’s sword.) Since I bought it with student discount, I got free AirPods which makes me feel like an actual modern person! Eeep! I’m getting back into drawing more, and am thinking I’ll draw in between classes…hence I will be clad with iPad & iPencil, too! 

I usually don’t buy things at all and all of the expenditures have been dizzying to me, but why not? I’ll probably not buy things until four years later. 😉 

And that’s the grand finale to my summer break! 

Thank you for coming over! What was your summer like? What are some of the highlights and/or favourite memories? Did you travel places? Or meet new books? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

AH: It’s Okay to Write Slow

Hullo, world!

I’m back from my short hit-outs. I survived camp and am fired up about the 2020 Tokyo Olympics! I was especially fired up about judo and karate and am so happy Japan got 12 medals (9 gold!!) in judo and 3 in karate. Also, the wrestling team got 7 medals in total (5 gold) which was awesome. Canada’s women’s soccer got gold, so I’m still happy even though Japan’s women’s soccer didn’t do so well this year. 🙂 I also love Irie Sena-senshu of women’s boxing. She’s the same age as me and got a gold medal, but loves frogs, which is too adorable!!

Anyhow. 

Today, I’ll be talking a bit about the slow writing days. Recently, I haven’t been able to write as much (or as fast) as I’d like to, even though I have a lot of great ideas. I would have a day when I would wake up, thinking, “I’m going to write today!” But the day wouldn’t go as planned and I’d miss my writing slot. 

And I’d think, This is bad. If I’m not writing, I can’t call myself a writer. 

Which, btw, is totally not true. Here’s my take on this month’s Author Health–It’s Okay to Write Slow. 

A: Each WIP is different.

This is kind of common sense, but I’m still going to say it. Every WIP that you work on will take a different amount of time. 

For me, draft 0.5-1.5 of Juliet took me a total of four years. I’m still not done with the rewrites–in fact, I’d just begun it. Woodstone is a faster paced project in terms of wordcount and the time it took to get that word count, but it’s been a year already since I started. Osthauptstadt took six months to put together; I’m still uncertain about the ending although that’s technically where I am. And that’s not to mention Elektriem (or die electricae as I’m now calling it) and a bunch of other projects underway. 

So, don’t get discouraged even if one WIP takes you longer to start or finish. The amount of time it takes you is always going to be the right amount. 

B: Slow doesn’t equate to low quality.

This is also something that’s super common sense, but the thing that tends to be forgotten. Just because a WIP takes time (like, years in the making) doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, it might be quite the contrary. I’ve found that the more time I take to get the words out on paper, the higher quality it tends to be. 

The first book of Juliet took me around three years to write and it’s probably one of the most solid drafts out of the three parts. 

Osthauptstadt, the project that’s been pulling my hair out, took less time to write, but still was a slower process than what I’m used to–I could write only a few hundred words at a time. Yet it’s been a WIP that helped sharpen my prose and focus. 

Woodstone, by far the longest WIP so far with 155.7K in the 65% mark, has taught me endurance. 

Slowness isn’t a measure of incompetence. It’s the measure of one’s diligence. 

C: What are you hurrying for? 

And lastly, this is the thing that’s been stuck on my mind the most–What are you hurrying for? 

When I was writing in high school, I was writing like someone who was going to die any second. (Which, by the way, is absolutely true, but hear me out.) I thought I had to make it or break it by the time I graduated high school to have any hope of a second career as an author. I know, irrational and completely insane, but that was my belief. 

I set crazy writing deadlines for myself. I told myself I had no other time in my life to write. I was constantly on the edge whenever someone else got acquitted or got published. I felt like my slowness was a failure. 

Well, it’s not. 

I had a wake-up call where I realised this: I love writing. I’ll probably be writing even when I’m a wrinkly old lady. Who cared if I got to the “publishing line” before I was twenty? Who cared if I took the longer route in traditional publishing? Why, Tolkien took over ten years! Even C. S. Lewis got rejected before he was recognised. J. K. Rowling got turned down by 12 publishing houses. None of them were in a hurry to get published. (Or maybe they were, IDK, but it’s true they stuck out on their end and kept writing.) 

So, I’ve decided not to hurry. Each person has their own writing journey walked at their own pace. I’ll keep walking mine…and in the end, that’s what counts. 

Friends, let us keep walking. 

Thank you for reading! What do you think? Do you have slow writing days? (Or slow writing months?) What are some things that helps you stay grounded when you feel the need to hurry? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

Ignite Blog Tour & WIP Update

Hullo, world!

It’s a new day, and a very exciting one at that. Vancouver saw its first over 35 °C (and even over  40°C in some places!) which is not the exciting thing that happened, in case you’re wondering, but noteworthy natheless…

I FINALLY GOT TO SEE THE KIMETSU NO YAIBA MUGEN RESSHA MOVIE!!!

(Sorry, I had to do that.) The theatres finally opened toward the end of last month, and I finally caught up with the rest of my Japanese friends who have cried buckets which I also did. (And I don’t think I’ll ever recover from this movie…)

Just looking at this makes me cry😭

AND, JENNA TERESE’S IGNITE IS NOW OUT!!!

(I know, I should probably stop with all the caps.😂 ) I got to ARC-read it, so TBH it feels like some time has already past and people should know about this book, and that’s not the case, so let me present to you Ignite by Jenna Terese…

Ignite

Rating: 4/5 stars

Contents: Thematic elements, deaths

Reminds me of: MHA, TPN, Marvel 

What if superhumans weren’t considered heroes?

When Scarlett Marley is attacked by an illegal super with fire powers, she doesn’t get burned, but now she has a fire-like glow flickering in her eyes.

With superpowers criminalized, she has no choice but to turn herself over to the Superhuman Containment Facility, or risk hurting everyone she loves.

Her normal life seems lost forever, until she is selected to be one of the first to receive the experimental cure to destroy her powers. In exchange, she must first complete one mission:

Infiltrate and capture one of the largest gangs of supers in the remains of once-great Rapid City. 

With the cure and all her future at stake, Scarlett is prepared to do whatever it takes to bring these criminals to justice so she can return to her family. But this gang and their leader, Rez, aren’t what everyone says, and Scarlett begins to question everything she was ever told about the SCF and the fire flowing in her veins.

The cure is her only hope for returning her life to what it was before, but is that life worth returning to after all?

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My Review

Note: I received an eARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

1. Theme–I loved how the story focused on home and family, which I think is lacking in YA sci-fi/dystopia. Jenna streamlined the themes with the story, the characters, and everything else it felt natural. I loved how faith was part of this theme and was pleasantly surprised it was just as conversational as the rest of the themes, yet at the same time digging deeper into the issue. I’m excited to see how it develops in book 2!

2. Prose–Jenna’s prose is smooth and comfortably fits into the rest of the story. As prose is usually a big factor for me, I’m glad to say I didn’t feel conscious of reading or got startled out of the world. 

3. Characters–This is where the story shines. All the characters of the story come alive, off the page, and I was invested with their stories. I actually wasn’t as into Scarlett’s story as I would have liked (even though she’s the MC). I won’t have to mention it, but I will–I’m so going to adopt Ares. #aresfanclub And being slightly unpopular, I would say Dr Bailey was done well! (Esp. as someone who keeps on getting him for the character quizzes, lol.) And Seth. I really, really want to get to know Seth more. Also, I initially disliked Nadia, but she grew into her character quite well. Overall, the cast is well developed, and it made me want to know more about each of them!!

4. Plot–There’s a major turning point in the middle and I honestly wasn’t expecting the story to take the direction it took until then. It definitely kept me turning the pages, although I think the ending was a little predictable. 

5. Execution–In general, Ignite ties together the story of what having superpowers could look like in modern society and how it affects families. I loved how it stayed focused on a smaller aspect than just a random big disastrous thing happening TM or evil detainment facility ©. 

If you like:

a) superpowers & their consequences

b) families & friends like families

c) slightly dystopian-sci-fi settings

This book is for you!

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AUTHOR BIO:

Jenna Terese believes stories are powerful. That’s why she’s dedicated to creating fiction that will impact the world. You can find this INFP dreaming about the future, fangirling over her favorite books, geeking out about Marvel, playing piano, or sipping a chai tea latte as she writes sci-fi novels.


WIP Update

So, I think the last time I did this was back in March? Since now that half of 2021 is past, I thought it’ll be a good time to recap the last three months + overall WIP progress this year so far. 🙂

Recap of Months 4, 5, 6

April–Camp NaNoWriMo month. I got 30K into Woodstone, which I was very happy about. 

May–I had a major writing crisis where I thought I’d give up on Juliet permanently and wrote 25K in Osthauptstadt with lots of tears. 

June–I recovered from said writing crisis ™ and got 15K of rewrite into Juliet and 6K into an experimental secret project no. 2. (I know, I really should stop wandering off in the middle of bigger projects to pursue dust bunnies…)

So far…

That brings the total word count of the year 2021 so far to 123, 822 out of 300,000 words planned. In the bigger sphere of things, that makes it 593, 566 words written so far in mostly fiction writing. 

Now, some of you may be thinking, Gahh, I loathe numbers! It’s giving me a headache!! In which case, thank you for bearing with me. 

Personally, I find numbers to be comforting because it gives me a clearer picture of where I’ve been and  how far I’ve come. Although I couldn’t make it to the halfway mark of 150K by June, I’m really glad of what I have so far. It’s roughly 40% of my word count goal, and knowing I’m almost there makes it easier for me to plan out my next stage–I’ve come this far, I can make it to the end.

And if you feel discouraged for whatever reason today, remember this: You’ll always move forward one step at a time, one word at a moment. 

Courage, dear heart. We’ve got this. 

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Thank you for reading!  Are you excited for Ignite? (And if you’ve already read it, are you on the #aresfanclub?) How is your writing going so far? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!