6 Tips to Help You Read More This Summer

I love the summertime. In fact, summer is my favorite season! There’s nothing better than sitting out in the sun with a good book and enjoying the breeze. I love wearing my summer clothes, and being outside during this time of year. Where I live, most of the year it’s freezing or just too cold to go outside, so I try and enjoy the summer for as long as I can!

Summer is the perfect time for barbecues, water parks, campfires, family vacations, and so much more! But during the summer, it can be difficult to remember to read! There are so many other fun activities that occupy our time, and sometimes reading can slip our minds! If you’re looking to read more this summer, look no further! And if you’re hoping to make a reading a habit, check out my blog post all about how!

#1.) Bring a Book Everywhere

No matter where you go, carry a book with you! Or if you have a kindle, that works too! There are so many moments in our day where we can slip in a little bit of reading time, even if it’s just a paragraph or a page.

Whether you’ll be a passenger in a long car ride, traveling on a plane to your perfect vacation destination, or camping out, steal those moments to read instead of checking your phone. Oh – and you might want to bring more than one book!

#2.) Don’t Be Afraid to DNF

There is not enough time in our lives to force ourselves to read books we don’t like. Our time is so precious, and we need to enjoy every moment of it. If you’re just not enjoying a book for one reason or another, don’t be afraid to put it down. Find a different book you know you’ll enjoy. The summertime should be all about relaxing, not stressing!

#3.) Listen to Audiobooks

Audiobooks are a form of reading, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! They’re perfect for long car rides, or whatever travel plans you may have. And if you don’t – turn your audiobooks on at home!

I would listen to more audiobooks if I could – but the CD players in my car no longer works!

#4.) Read Lightly

Believe me, I’m a lover of huge, 800 – 1,000 page books. They’re fun to read, and they have their place. But even for a fast reader, a hefty book with such a large page count can still take some time to read.

Try limiting yourself to smaller books in the 250 – 400 page range. Not only will you read more, but if you’re traveling, you can take more books! The bigger the book, the less room you have!

#5.) Do a Summer Reading Challenge

Some people are very goal oriented, so have a reading challenge is a perfect way to keep them on track. Not only that, but they’re fun, too!

The PopSugar Reading Challenge, 2018 Modern Mrs. Darcy Challenge, and NY Public Library Challenge, are all great examples you can try. Or if you want, make your own!

#6.) Ignore the Hype

There are tons of book that come out every month. Tons. Every month, I hear about the hottest new releases, and can’t help but want to buy and add them to my TBR list. But the hype only deviates me from reading what I already have on my shelf.

Instead of reading books that are (and have) been waiting for me to read for months, I buy the newest books and devour them first. Not only does this keep me from reading what should have been read months ago, but it also makes me feel stressed about missing out.

Instead, try and ignore the hype. Take the summertime to read what you already have, or catch up on some old favorites. Even if the hype for a new book dies down, don’t worry – the book will still be there.

Do you find these tips helpful? What do you do to read more in the summer? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO – Devon

Interview with a Writer: Chantel Pereira

Are you interested in getting to know more of the writers who are part of our amazing community? As part of my blog series, I’ve interviewed some of the writers in an effort to get to know them better, as well as share their stories!

Today, I’m introducing Chantel Pereira onto the blog, and I’m so excited to share her story!

#1. What got you into writing? How and when did you first start?

I feel like there has never been a time in my life where I wasn’t secretly obsessed with creating, telling, and hearing stories. However, I’d say the definite moment when I decided I wanted to be a writer was in the fifth grade when our class was assigned The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Before then, I’d never read anything as fantastical and magical as that, and I recall it being a significant time in my life. But I didn’t start taking writing seriously until the sixth grade when I stumbled upon my first novel idea during a class camping trip.

#2: Where do you usually get your ideas?

While I find most of my ideas when I’m around nature (I sort of have a knack for thinking up my best stories while in forests), I find ideas everywhere – Pinterest, music, scents, myths and folklore, reinventing classic tropes. I also shape many of my ideas around my personal life. How I felt during certain moments in my life and how can I take that mood and root it in a fantasy or horror setting?

#3: What current project are you working on right now? What was the inspiration for this project?

I am currently working on a handful of projects, but the two I’m closest to firing out into the world are my two MG Fantasy novels. The first is the rewrite of my book titled, The Irretrievable Ones. It’s the first book in The Yawning Graves series, which is a Harry Potter, Hocus Pocus, and Stranger Things-inspired MG about witchy cursed forests, secret libraries, disappearing girls, Halloween, and abandoned witch cities.

The inspiration for this project came from my years growing up in northern Canada (where it is set). I grew up in a town steeped in negative stigma surrounding mental illness, and as a result, a high suicide rate amongst its youths (especially amongst Indigenous children). The Yawning Graves came to me not simply out of my desire for a Canadian Harry Potter-type story with strong-hearted girls and soft boys, but out of my wish to pull that veil off themes of lgbtq and mental health in small northern towns. To talk about these scary realities in the safety of a fantastical, hopeful story.

Also, fun fact – this is the novel I first wrote/thought up on that sixth-grade camping trip.

The second book I’m working on is called The Phantom Imaginarium which is a story about Manuela Hierro, a ten-year-old inventor who stumbles into a carnival for ghosts, and discovers she has only one night to defeat a tyrannical puppet master who has stolen the sun and sunk the carnival into one endless night.

#4: Traditional, Self-Publish, Small Press? What path to publishing are you pursuing/have pursued and why?

Traditional. I want nothing more than to see my books in Indigo and for them to reach as many readers as they possibly can. I also have a secret bucket list of milestones I hope to achieve, and following the traditional route would be my best way of ticking off this list.

#5: What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever received?

The best tip I received was from Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass. And I’m horribly paraphrasing it right now, but it’s, “Be honest and brave in your writing”. When writing, we’re crafting a series of lies into something believable. The greatest way to do this is by pulling from the truths of our lives – whether that be feelings we felt and/or the lessons we’ve learned the hard way. And sometimes, while it can be scary to figuratively put pieces of our soul onto the page and turn our stories into horcruxes, it becomes that much more of a powerful story. For both the reader and for you.

#6: When are you most creative?

I’m most creative at night. I’m the quintessential night owl. I truly admire all those writers who wake at the crack of dawn and dive straight into their stories, but I can’t do it. I’ve desperately tried. I also always find that my best ideas come during the colder months – it must have something to do with all that autumn and winter magic in the air.

#7: What authors inspire you the most?

C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and J.K. Rowling were the authors that inspired me to start writing, but I’m also inspired by Stephen King, Maggie Stiefvater, Emily Brontë, Shea Ernshaw, and Claire Legrand.

#8: What’s your most anticipated read in the next few months?

WILDER GIRLS by Rory Power and A SORCERY OF THORNS by Margaret Rogerson.

#9: What are you currently reading?

I’m actually just about to crack into A Sorcery of Thorns. In the meantime, I’m diving into the manuscripts of two of my writing friends: SECRETS WITHIN THE GRAVES by Elora Cook, and AT THE LAKE’S EDGE by Lyndall Clipstone.

#10: What’s your favorite book or book series?

Without a doubt, my two favourite book series are The Raven Cycle and Harry Potter. Namely, The Prisoner of Azkaban, The Order of the Phoenix, and The Deathly Hallows. As for standalone books, I devoured Sawkill Girls, The Devouring Gray, and The Wicked Deep.

#11: Favorite childhood book?

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I recently received a new copy for Christmas since my original fell apart. I was also a massive fan of the Redwall Series.

#12: Biggest book pet peeve?

I detest when what could be an interesting scene takes place off page.

#13: What book has made you cry?

I cried recently with Sawkill Girls! Without delving into too much spoiler territory for those who many not have read it, I adore gray characters– and this one is full of deep motives and high stakes.

#14: Favorite writing snack or drink?

Blueberries, Peanut M&Ms, and tea – lots and lots of tea.

#15: What’s your biggest fear? Writing related or otherwise – or both!

On top of a constant fear of failure, I always fear that I’ve missed my moment or lost my chance. Strangely enough, I also fear that if I do make it, that I will lose significant time with my cat, Hagrid, and with my loved ones. I know it’s a ridiculous thought, but it is unfortunately there.

#16: What other hobbies do you have outside of writing?

I’m a huge lover of the outdoors. I love camping, hiking, and BONFIRES. I am also extremely passionate about the paranormal and horror. Outside of this, I attempt to act – emphasis on the attempt. I was part of a geeky musical theater group that also did improv, sketch comedy shows, and I’ve been able to test the waters with voice acting. (If any of you ever meet me, I do a mean Hamtaro). Most recently, I also got the chance to act as an extra in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

#17: Biggest real life pet peeve?

People who diminish the seriousness of disorders like ‘OCD’ by using it as a quirky word for liking things to be neat.

#18: Any final words to aspiring writers out there?

Failure is a gift. This took me so many years of heartache to realize this, but failure is such a gift. Yes, it can break you. Yes, it can make you question whether you should throw in the towel. But the moment you can silence it, learn from it, and get past your tears, failure always rebuilds you into the strongest version of yourself yet.

All About Chantel

Chantel grew up surrounded by water and woods in a small northern Canadian town wfnMLMiZwhere there were more deer than people. A proud daughter of two hardworking immigrants, she now lives in Toronto with her fiancé, Eddy, and her hell-raising cat, Hagrid. Originally, she intended to pursue a career in music. However, after a physical setback led to some serious soul-searching, she decided to risk it all to pursue her childhood dream of becoming an author since her other childhood dream of becoming Elton John was already taken.

Through many all-nighters and early mornings trudging for her finals through the snow, she acquired her Honours Bachelor in Literature with a minor in Classics from Lakehead University under the mentorship of Michael Christie. She then moved to Toronto to acquire her Certificate in Book Publishing from Ryerson University and is presently pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing.

When she is not writing, she is wishing that she was…or obsessing over Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, black tea, musicals, and Halloween. An avid horror movie buff, amateur ghost expert, and hobbit, Chantel aspires to write the type of stories Guillermo Del Toro would want to direct.

Follow Chantel!

Instagram: @chantellpereira
Twitter: @chantelpereira
Tumblr: @barrierspark

Elora Cook: @eloraflora13

Lyndall Clipstone: @writerlyndall



June Recap 2019

Today’s my birthday! I officially turn twenty-five today, and that means I’m five years away from being thirty. Wow. It’s so hard to wrap my head around. I feel like when you’re a teenager, thinking about your twenties seem so far away, but every year just goes by faster and faster. June went by in a blur, but I’m still feeling pretty down about certain things in my life. I’m hoping July is a better month!

What I Wrote:

Back in May, I finished outlining three new projects. My original plan was to bounce between all three and work on them all simultaneously, but after more thought, I decided against doing so. I had a feeling that pushing myself to write three different stories would only both confuse me, and mess with my writing.

However, I did start writing my YA Thief idea, and it’s currently sitting at 42,000 words! I feel strongly that I’m going to hit my 80k word count goal, and while this project has been pretty hard to write, I’m falling more in love with it every day.

What I Read:

Total: 3

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon ★★★★☆

I’ve really been in the mood for a ghost story, so when I googled “ghost stories” and saw this new release on Goodreads, I just had to pick it up. The story follows Helen and Nate, a couple who are building their dream house – but little do they realize that the land they’ve bought may be haunted.

While I did really enjoy this book, I had two gripes with it: one was that it just didn’t feel spooky enough. I was hoping for a little more fright and chills, but I unfortunately didn’t get any of that. My second gripe is that it took me forever to finish this book; I normally finish a book within three-to-four days, but this took me over a week to read. I’m not sure if it was the pacing, or the fact that words were rather small and the pages really long, so my brain was tricked into believing there were more words than there actually were.

All in all, I did really enjoy the mystery and the characters within this book. If you’re looking for a ghost story that’s not too scary, then this might be the perfect book for you!

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson ★★★★☆

This is the first novel I’ve read by Margaret Rogerson, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The world and characters were rich and complex, and I love the magic system. I also loved that this was a standalone fantasy, which I don’t feel like there are enough of. My only major issues with the book (besides a few nitpicky personal things) were that the pacing felt off, and there was quite a bit of purple prose.

By the last hundred pages of this book, I kept wondering when it was going to end. While the story was amazing, I definitely felt it dragged on just a tad too long. There were also many instances of far too heavy-handed description, which would pull me out of the story. However, the ending made up for a lot of the issues I had, and this was still a really beautiful story.

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman ★★★★☆

Reading Ms. Herman’s debut novel has really made me miss contemporary fantasy in the same vein of Beautiful Creatures. The writing was simplistic, yet beautiful, and I did enjoy the story and characters within the novel. There’s not much more I can say, other than that while reading this book, I felt transported back in time to my high school days, and I really miss contemporary and paranormal fantasy being on the shelves.


What I’m Watching:

I’m halfway through the final season of The Fosters, and will be sad to finish the series. Once I do, I’m not sure what I do watch next. Let me know if you have any recommendations!

Otherwise, the boyfriend and I are on the final season of The Tudors, and I’ve been really enjoying it.

Currently Reading:


How I Did: June Goals

Back in June, I gave myself several goals:

• Create my July blogging schedule
• Finally apply to school
• Begin writing YA Fantasy Thief Idea
• Begin writing Secret Project Idea
• Begin writing Sci-Fi Idea

I’m happy to see that I completed two of these. As I mentioned before, I decided not to write all three WIP’s at once, so I haven’t got around to writing the Secret Project idea or the Sci-Fi idea. I also created my July blogging schedule; unfortunately, I still have not applied for school. I really feel like I need to go and get a degree, but I’m so worried about the cost of going back.

Have any of you gone back to school later in life? How did that go for you, and do you regret it? Let me know in the comments!

July Goals:

I’m very excited to say that all of my beta readers finally got back to me, and I’ve analyzed all of their feedback and read through my adult fantasy WIP once again with a fresh pair of eyes. I’m ready to dive into revisions, and that’s definitely one of my new goals this month:

• Revise adult fantasy WIP
• Finish writing YA Thief Idea
• Send adult fantasy WIP back out to readers
• Make a final decision about going back to school
• Create my blog schedule for August and September

Coming Up:

Since I’m about to start revisions, and I have three projects I want to work on, I’m going to be taking a step back from the blog. I have several posts scheduled to upload for the rest of July, but I’ll be taking most of August off to really focus on my writing. I still plan on uploading at least two blog posts, but I hope to be back in full swing in September!

How’d everyone’s June go? Are you excited for the summer?

Let me know!

XOXO – Devon

Interview with a Writer: Mea Smith

Are you interested in getting to know more of the writers who are part of our amazing community? As part of my blog series, I’ve interviewed some of the writers in an effort to get to know them better, as well as share their stories!

Today, I’m introducing Mea Smith onto the blog, and I’m so excited to share her story!

#1. What got you into writing? How and when did you first start?

My story is nontraditional, and sometimes, I feel a bit like an imposter in the author world because of it. I want to tell you that I was a voracious reader from birth, that I was a fearless child who wrote her first novel at 12-years-old, and I still have it somewhere in a box. But, that’s not how it all started for me, and to be honest, when I’m not writing fiction, I’m a terrible liar.

The truth is I was too fearful to even consider writing as more than a secret, though I loved doing it. All my poetry, songs, and stories from middle school to college remained in the shadows, growing mold and becoming earth. Four years after I graduated, I’d stagnated in my search for a career, and I was plagued by Life Things.

But in 2009, my husband had a terrible staph infection and needed to have our double bed to himself for about two weeks. I took to the couch with a grumbly attitude and a copy of Twilight. A few late-night readings later, I’d finished the series and discovered solace through literary escapism. The Twilight series housed the first books I’d read for pleasure since college. The experience made me think, I want to mold people’s emotions, give those who need it a place to breath, and get lost in a world of my own making. I will always be thankful for the series because it was the original spark that ignited my personal reading/writing/learning wildfire.

I began to broaden my reading and research writing a novel. A few months later, I typed out “chapter one”, and then the real learning began. I’m proof that one can learn to love reading as an adult and that reading can, quite literally, change the path of your life.

#2: Where do you usually get your ideas?

Mostly, in places where it would be tactless to jot down the idea. In the middle of conversations, meals, dates, work meetings, etc. I’ve gotten very sneaky about jetting off to the bathroom or something and recording quick notes in my phone or notebook. I just recently had an idea for a book today because of spam email. I also get ideas just letting my mind wander. Those are my favorite because I can give flesh to the bones almost immediately.

I guess the main thing is to be observant and to be prepared with a pen/notebook combo or note-taking technology.

#3: What current project are you working on right now? What was the inspiration for this project?

I’m working on a few of projects this summer. First, a women’s fiction novel that started as a scene in a coffeeshop (that has since been cut from the book). Husband and I were sitting around, chilling, and it just popped in my head. Couldn’t be helped. Next, I’m working on a poetry and art project. I adore poetry and painting, and the opportunity came to make both and to work with a super cool lady, so I said, “Yes!” Finally, I’m co-authoring a nonfiction born from a need discovered on this crazy cool trip toward publication.

#4: Traditional, Self-Publish, Small Press? What path to publishing are you pursuing/have pursued and why?

I’d like to be a hybrid author. I’m going to query agents for the novel I’m working on now. The nonfiction will be with a small press, Logos & Mythos Press, and I’m considering self-publishing my poetry. The publishing world is so interesting right now with all the viable options to get your words into the world. I don’t want to pigeonhole myself into one outlet because of a stereotype or lack of vision. I’ll try to pursue all options—I say “try” because it’s not up to me in all avenues—and create my own opinion for future works.

#5: What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever received?

“Whether or not you write well, write bravely” Bill Stout.
Writing/Life tip: “It takes the same amount of effort to be brave as it does to be afraid.” Maggie Stiefvater

I did most of writing craft learning online and through books and podcasts. These are still my main learning methods because of my responsibilities in this period of life, so I don’t have a lot of face-to-face… Wait! I got one “’There’ as a subject is useless. I can’t believe it exists in that context. Sentences will always be stronger without it.” Allison Chestnut, English professor at William Carey University.

#6: When are you most creative?

When I’m brainstorming and during revision

#7: What authors inspire you the most?

Today I’m enamored with Maggie Stiefvater, Neil Gaiman, Tahereh Mafi, Christina Lauren, and Patrick Ness, to name a few.

#8: What’s your most anticipated read in the next few months?

Here’s my reading tablet list (though it might take me more than a few months to finish and also I choose by mood):

The Madness Vase – Andrea Gibson (Poetry)
Behold the Dreamers – Imbolo Mbue
UnHoneymooners – Christina Lauren
Dear Martin – Nic Stone
What the Wind Knows – Amy Harmon
Body Love – Kelly LeVegue
And I’m waiting for Call Down the Hawk -Maggie Steifvater (New Release)

#9: What are you currently reading?

The Social Tutor by Sally Britton

#10: What’s your favorite book or book series?

Again, “favorites” fluctuate, sometimes, so…

Scorpio Races and All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Steifvater
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell

#11: Favorite childhood book?

Fair-Weather Love by Carla Cassidy (My aunt gave it to my as a Christmas present. I reread it so much that I swear my mom hid it. Or threw it away or something.)
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (The best school assigned reading EVER.)

#12: Biggest book pet peeve?

Physically: Price stickers on the covers that leave residue
Internally: Illogical plot points. Once I’ve noticed them, it’s hard for me to suspend my beliefs and adore the characters again.

#13: What book has made you cry?

The last book that made me cry was 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne because love is difficult sometimes.

But the one that made me sob and wonder “why, oh why, did I do this to myself?” was My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. There was no need to **spoiler alert** and make me feel like that, Jodi. (If you only saw the movie, you don’t know what I’m talking about.)

#14: Favorite writing snack or drink?

Cold coffee with almond milk. The best way to answers is to list things I don’t eat. Raw Onion.

Next question!

#15: What’s your biggest fear? Writing related or otherwise – or both!

William Carey, who has also been called the “father of modern missions”, said, “…I’m afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”

This is my fear, too. I think embracing it has pushed me to truly begin writing for a career.

#16: What other hobbies do you have outside of writing?

Painting, jewelry making, and aggravating my kids

#17: Biggest real-life pet peeve?

People who mouth the words I’m saying while I’m speaking to them. Believe me; it’s not as uncommon as you think.

#18: Any final words to aspiring writers out there?

If you’re scared to write or hardcore procrastinating, work to completion on a short project (flash fiction, short story, poetry chapbook, for example) and feel what it’s like to Finish Something. Then, learn something from it, and make something else.

All About Mea

meaMeagan (Mea) Smith lives in a wooden house on a hill where she trips over a multitude of cats while parenting her two rambunctious boys. When she mentally floats too far from home, her cherished husband ushers her back and then grills her chicken for dinner. She has a Master’s in English and sometimes scares college students with her passion for semicolons; she fell for their cunning in high school.

Mea believes love doesn’t deter hateful things from happening, but it always conquers them. Because of this, she creates fictional content tinted with hope set in contemporary and/or fantastical places. Her nonfiction focuses on writing craft for authors delivered with kindness and honesty. Her poetry is based on a true story. Always.

You can find Mea on her back porch watching fireflies flicker or on the Internet.

Follow Mea on all her socials!

Website: measmith.com
Instagram: @measmithwrites
Facebook: @meathewriter
Twitter: @mea_smith


How to Use Music as Writing Inspiration

I’ve always been an avid listener of music. I grew up in a house where music was always playing. My Dad taught me from a young age the importance of music, and what an impact it can make. Since then, my tastes in music have not only grown and changed, but become one of the biggest sources of inspiration for all my writing.

That said, I simply cannot write without finding a few songs to use as inspiration for whatever I’m currently working on. I don’t always listen to music when I write, but when I’m stuck on a scene, I’ll pull up the playlist I’ve created and take some time to listen for a while. Normally, inspiration strikes while being lost in the lyrics and rhythm of the music. I swear by it being an excellent source of inspiration, and if you’re struggling, here’s a few tips that’ll help you out!

Step 1: Find Songs That Resonate With You and Your WIP

The first thing to do is find songs that will resonate with you and what you’re working on. Whether it be songs with lyrics in them, or instrumental music, it’s important to find songs that will really evoke ideas, inspiration, or motivation within you.

* Emotion

What kind of emotion are you hoping to invoke? Love? Sadness? Anger? What songs bring tears to your eyes? Find music that will accurately represent what kind of emotion you want to feel, especially if you’ll be writing it for specific scene.

* Lyrics

Listen to the lyrics next! There are so many great lines within song lyrics that have sparked so many of my ideas. Here’s some examples of songs with lyrics that have really inspired me.



If you could pretend your book was being turned into a movie, what songs would you want on the soundtrack? Look at examples of all the other great movie soundtracks and study how they fit into the atmosphere and theme of the world.

Step 2: Create a Playlist

Once you’ve picked out plenty of songs, the next step is to create a playlist. My favorite way to do this is create one in my iTunes library, putting all the songs for that current WIP into the playlist. Then when I’m writing – I listen to that playlist and only that playlist! It keeps me focused on the task at hand, and gets me pumped up to write. It keeps me from getting distracted wanting to get up and do something else, similar to when your favorite song comes on in the car and you don’t want to get out.

The most important step is figuring out the right songs that really capture the mood you’re trying to convey. I find pretty much all my songs through iTunes, or by falling down a rabbit hole in YouTube and finding new artists.

Check out some of the songs on my Androids Series playlist:

• Everybody Wants to Rule the World – Lorde
• In for the Kill (Skream’s Lets Get Ravey remix) – La Roux
• The Only One – Evanescence

• 24 – Jem
• Panic Switch – Silversun Pickups
• The Outsider – A Perfect Circle
• Believer – Imagine Dragons

Or even one of my newer projects, Forbidden:

• Horns – Bryce Fox
• Seven Devils – Florence + The Machine
• Bedroom Hymns – Florence + The Machine

• Don’t Let Me Go – RAIGN
• Sorry – Halsey
• Love is a Sacrifice – Ivy & Gold

Step 3: Use it as Writing Fuel

Once you’ve crafted your playlist, get to writing! Play your music while you work, and let it keep you motivated and in the zone of your world.

What music do you listen to while writing? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO – Devon

Interview with a Writer: Madeline Johnston

Are you interested in getting to know more of the writers who are part of our amazing community? As part of my new blog series, I’ve interviewed some of the writers in an effort to get to know them better, as well as share their stories!

Today, I’m introducing Madeline Johnston onto the blog! Madeline and I have quickly become friends, and she is one of the sweetest people I know! I had the chance to read the first chapter of her WIP, and it was amazing! I’m so excited to hear what Madeline has to say today!

#1. What got you into writing? How and when did you first start?

Way back in 2005 and 2006, I was obsessed with “The Sims 2”. But it wasn’t about gaming for me, it was about the added feature of being able to create your own stories and upload them to the official website. Thousands of writers uploaded their stories, and me being eleven at the time, wanted to be exactly like them. I ended up writing a story about a teenage girl who could see ghosts at an abandoned train station — don’t you love the mind of an eleven year old?

But what made me want to become an author? Hands down reading City of Bones by Cassandra Clare when it first came out. All those disorganized stories as an eleven year old slowly became more book-like over the years since!

#2. Where do you usually get your ideas?

Everywhere! I’m constantly refueling my well of creativity with television series, books, movies, anime, music, Pinterest, etc. A trope may catch my eye, like enemies to lovers for example, and I slowly create a story idea around that.

#3. What current project are you working on right now? What was the inspiration for this project?

I’m currently working on a YA Space Fantasy about magic in space, angry girls overthrowing evil galactic empires, and an enemies to lovers’ romance.

I’ve always wanted to write a book that blends two genres together (science fiction and fantasy), and I’ve never written enemies to lovers before. With these two ideas in mind, I slowly began creating a story around them.

#4. Traditional, Self-Publish, Small Press? What path to publishing are you pursuing/have pursed and why?

The ultimate dream is to traditionally publish — whether it’s my current book, the one after, or the one after that. But every book I write is going to put me one step closer to one day seeing my book in a bookstore.

#5. What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever received?

Honestly, this quote changed my life and I will share it forever: “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” — Shannon Hale.

I think we put so much pressure on ourselves to get our book right the first time. I wrote many first drafts and never went back to them because they weren’t how I initially envisioned them. But since being in the writing community and seeing that quote, I’ve learnt that most of writing is rewriting, and the first draft is only the first step of getting something “book-shaped” to work with.

#6. When are you most creative?

Early hours of the morning or late afternoons. I wish that I could be one those writers who stay up late, writing into the night. But I need sleep otherwise I can’t properly function haha.

#7. What authors inspire you most?

Cassandra Clare was the author that inspired me to become an author. But Jay Kristoff, Leigh Bardugo, Sarah J. Maas, Holly Black, V. E. Schwab, Amanda Foody and Julie C. Dao are also some of my biggest inspirations.

#8. What’s your most anticipated read in the next few months?

I am super excited to read King of Fools by Amanda Foody, Wicked Fox by Kat Cho and There Will Come A Darkness by Katy Rose Pool.

#9. What are you currently reading?

I just finished reading Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan and it was a very dark, magical read! I’ve just started reading The Devouring Grey by Christine Lyn Herman and the writing is beautifully descriptive!

#10. What’s your favorite book or book series?

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare is one my all-time favorites, as well as the entire Mortal Instruments series. I’m also obsessed with Nevernight by Jay Kristoff, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao and The Wicked King by Holly Black.

#11. Favorite childhood book?

My favorite books to read growing up were the Pony Pals series. From what I remember, you didn’t have to read them in any particular order and I borrowed them from my school’s library all the time. Once I hit high school, anything with vampires and werewolves grabbed my attention. Thanks, Twilight!

#12. Biggest book pet peeve?

When the book forces together two characters that have no real chemistry — or forces them together too quickly without the excitement of the buildup. Give me slow burn romances any day!

#13. What book has made you cry?

Can I just say that I weep with total happiness/anger/sadness whenever I read a Cassandra Clare book?

#14. Favorite writing snack or drink?

I’m the absolute worst and spend most of my writing time eating chocolate or cookies or both. I quite literally put on like 10kg whenever I write a book, oops. But they are just so delicious and my self-control is very minimal and, guys, life is too short.

#15. What your biggest fear? Writing related or otherwise — or both!

I sometimes worry that no one out there will like my book or even understand it. After putting so much passion into this project, what if the only person who likes it is just me?

Also birds. Birds are terrifying.

#16. What other hobbies do you have outside of writing?

I read a lot. I also love baking all types of chocolate-y treats. I really want to get more into kick-boxing, but I’m a sloth at heart and much rather curl up into a ball on the couch and watch Netflix with my cats.

#17. Biggest real life pet peeve?

People who are always late to meet-ups, they drive me nuts!

#18. Any final words to aspiring writers out there?

It is always important to remember why you started writing in the first place. Writing a book is such a complicated, stressful journey — you’ll want to quit, you’ll want to give up. But thinking back to your why can help reignite your passion and put things back into perspective.

All About Madeline


Madeline is a marketing coordinator by day, an aspiring author by night and a full-time mama of three adorable rescue kitties. She writes books about angry and scheming girls, monstrous boys, dark settings, found families full of misfits and lots of magic.

When she isn’t writing or reading, she likes to spend her spare time baking, watching Star Wars or Star Trek, eating too much chocolate (it’s a serious problem), screaming over anime and listening to music way too loud. Her hero is Jay Kristoff.

You can follow Madeline on her blog and on Twitter!

6 Things to Do Before Starting Your Novel

So, you’re getting ready to write your novel. Whether this is your first book or your tenth – here’s a handy list of things to do before you even begin putting words on the page!

1.) Outline Your Novel

Often times when I hear writers ask, “I don’t know what should happen next” My question is, “Did you outline your novel?”

Having an outline – whether it be detailed or not – can really help you keep on track. Knowing what happens beforehand will keep you motivated, and prevent you from suffering the dreaded writers block. It’s easier to sit down for a writing session and know where to take the story, rather than sit for an hour and wonder what happens next.

If you’re not an outliner, this might not work for you, and that’s okay. Everyone has a different method of writing their novels. If you don’t like to outline, it may help to just known the story beats of your novel, too. Check out Save the Cat! Writes a Novel to get a good idea on how to learn story beats.

2.) Know Your World (And Your Rules)

Every fictional world has a set of rules. There’s certain limits to a magic system, or certain rules within the government control that can’t be broken. Whatever it is – it’s important to know the rules within your world and how they work together.

Let’s take Harry Potter, for example. In the world of Harry Potter, people born who can do magic are known as “witches” and “wizards”. People who cannot do magic are known as “muggles”, and children born from muggles who have magic are known as “mudbloods”. Those born to magical parents, but unable to do magic, are known as “squibs”.

This is a perfect example of knowing your world. It’s important to know who can do magic and who cannot, and why that is. JK Rowling went so far to create an entire government based in her world of Harry Potter, known as the Ministry of Magic. Knowing your world, and the rules of the world, and how they work together can ground your story and make it feel more real.

If you want a more in-depth look at how JK Rowling created the rules for her Harry Potter universe, check out this page here.

3.) Organize Your Writing Space

It’s important to keep a clean writing space. Having a clean writing space will not only keep you free of distractions, but also keep you tempted from cleaning up. You’ll be able to focus more clearly on what’s in front of you, than what’s around you.

When I’m outlining, it’s always messy around me. Books and papers are littered everywhere. But when it’s time to write, I make sure my desk is neat and organized.

4.) Make an Aesthetic

Making an aesthetic is a favorite of many writers. Finding pictures that capture the atmosphere of your characters and world is a great way to not only keep yourself motivated, but to see what kind of imagery you’re going for with your novel.
It’s a great way to get a feel for your world, or what your characters interests and personalities are like.

I find all my pictures for my aesthetics on Pinterest, and even create different boards for all my ideas! I use Canva to edit the pictures together!

DoH31NiUwAAR02D.jpgAesthetic 1.jpgAesthetic 1.jpg

(*All pictures found on Pinterest. Credit goes to all artists. I do not own these images).

5.) Make a Playlist

Many writers love using music as an inspiration, myself included. Similar to an aesthetic, create a playlist of songs that really capture the atmosphere of your world, characters, or specific scenes. Play them as you write or just to keep yourself immersed in that world.

6.) Stop Procrastinating

This might be the hardest one yet! It can be so difficult for writers to sit down and begin their novels. There’s so much self-doubt and fear that goes into writing a book, and sitting down to write only makes those doubts even worse.

But the important thing to remember is that if you have a dream, no one else can make that dream come true but you. You will eventually have to sit down and do the work. But by utilizing all these tips above, it can be much easier to dive into the work, and enjoy the act of writing your novel.

Do you use any of these tips before writing your novels? Let me know!

XOXO – Devon