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Sometimes I don’t blog because of timing, and sometimes I don’t blog because I have no idea what to write about. I think this is a trend amongst bloggers who don’t follow a schedule. I always have a lot to say, but that doesn’t mean I’m able to sit down and write about it.

I just finished finals week by writing a paper on Julius Caesar. To celebrate, I made a mug of cocoa and decided to write on my precious blog. Problem: I didn’t know what to write about. Because I was already texting my friend Jem, I asked for a solution…

Harry Potter was mentioned, so obviously I had to take his advice. We all need a little self-confidence boost in our lives, so below I wrote out seven things that make me awesome, no shame attached. I could write more, but seven is a magical number (Thanks, Harry Potter series) and I’m too lazy right now to think of more.

The Top Seven Reasons Why I Am Awesome

1. I have amazing people in my life.

2. I travel often and see wonderful sights.

3. I admit to proudly being a Harry Potter nerd.

4. I (almost) have my Bachelor’s in English Writing.

5. I am writing a novel.

6. I make others laugh.

7. I enjoy every moment.

To cover the seven above, I love my family and my friends. I am grateful for the people at my job and those I encounter in my academic life. Travel is my passion, something I try to do as often as possible and make the most of. Harry Potter is something that makes me nerdy, yes, but it has also saved my life in ways that I will discuss in another post. Obtaining a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing is a year or less away, and with that I will hopefully be able to help shape the written word in some form or another, which could possibly come from my novel, once finished and published. Laughter is the cheapest form of medicine, in my opinion, so I enjoy laughing and making others laugh. I’ve stopped taking my life for granted and have vowed to make the most out of every opportunity, no matter what it is.

I suppose I should also talk about why I’m hopeful in order to properly accept the challenge. I am hopeful because I know who I am and what I want out of life. I might not know my exact future, but I know who and what makes me happy, and I know that I am happy despite the little twists and turns that come about. I know a lot of people who are worried about their futures because people with degrees have trouble finding jobs in their fields, but I’m not concerned for myself. Location, career, and family will all come when they come. I may not make an absurd amount of money and I may not get recognized for my writing the way those I admire do, but I don’t need either in order to be happy. If I have enough money to survive and manage to get a few strangers to appreciate my writing, life is good. If I have people who love me and I love, life is awesome.

Cheers!

What makes you awesome?
What gives you hope?

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Day 18: Your Beliefs.

I’ve been sitting on this one for a long time. My last post on this series was several months ago now, so it’s been a while. I wasn’t sure I knew how to answer this question before. I think most people would start talking about their religion, but I covered that already in a previous post.

I am read Iris Murdoch’s “A Severed Head” for my Modern Irish/English Literature course, and the character Honor Kleine’s simple statement “I believe in people” was enough to convince me that I already knew the answer to this question.

I believe in people.

I don’t feel connected to a religion. I don’t believe in heaven and hell or a one, true god. I accept that people believe what they want to believe on the matter and hope they can do the same for me.

The world is full of destruction and madness. You can turn on any form of technology or open a newspaper (yes, those things still exist…paper) and chaos unfolds before your very eyes. But the world is also full of contribution and happiness. Everyone has some light and dark inside of them. We live in an imperfect society with good and bad, but it’s not split up into something so black and white as that.

This will come as no surprise to admit that I have been wronged several times in my life, but I will also own up to the fact that I have wronged others. Such moments of trouble are necessary. We learn and grow from these experiences. We must lose and get knocked down before we can rise and overcome. I happen to enjoy challenges and feel better when I succeed instead of sitting around and waiting for life to go exactly how I want it to. I feel the same way about people. I believe in them, and they can be good and worth the battle.

People are what I believe in. Some of them will let you down, and others will surprise you. My goal in life is to be as honest and true of a person as possible.

Cheers!

Side Note: I hope to get back to regular blogging soon. This semester has kept me rather busy. I miss writing on here and my blogging friends. Hope to connect more with you all again soon.

National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo. Thirty days of literary abandon. Fifty thousand words. Whatever you call it, those who participate will know the toll such a thing takes on one’s sanity. What encouraged this 24-year-old full-time college student with a job and an internship? To put it lightly, I need motivation. I’m one of those people who talks about writing a novel, but I have yet to complete one. I need something like NaNoWriMo to make this dream a reality.

I am posting two things below. First is my stats page as of today. I’m not far behind my goal, and I also have the rest of today to write (apart from a little homework). I expect to be on track by the end of today or tomorrow.

I’m going to be selfish and admit that I’m not letting anyone read the novel apart from one friend who is also doing NaNoWriMo, who has experience in editing, and is simply an intelligent reader. Apart from her, no one is reading this beast until it’s written, edited, and ready to go. However, I will include an excerpt below that I shared on my writing page. I welcome any input on the contents below.

Excerpt

The body knows when it has been left behind. An invisible film takes form over it and announces instant protection from additional harm. Pain is inevitable at the first sign of abandonment, that moment where the hands reach out and find nothing. Lips smile while the brain pleads insanity. Knees shake in need of structure. Pulse beats faster and slower without warning. Without warning, faster and slower beats everything.

Loneliness isn’t news, that much is certain. Putting on a face of contentment has never been difficult, but the ticking clock growing louder and deeper with each additional reminder of being by one’s self causes irrevocable melancholy. There is no out from this reality, but the reality was never sweet to begin with; it was passable at best.

The world continued to turn outside into new beginnings. Sounds of early morning car horns and church bells echoed from the streets into residential chimneys, down to the burning fireplaces where bodies are meant to be kept warm. Burning embers—shifting from eccentric orange to flirtatious blue—are the only reminder that life continued inside the flat, for the face staring at the flames hadn’t moved in hours. There was a heartbeat, but little more. Eyes shifted, legs crossed and uncrossed, hands produced occasional trembles. The only sound heard throughout the space was the crackling of wood. A glass of brandy was finally lifted from the inhabitant’s lap, sipped, and set down again.

Beside the breathing body was a small stand, and on it an envelope, unopened. Written in a fine cursive, the name held meaning: Rodney. Whoever it was from, the recipient didn’t feel too compelled to open it, for Rodney took another drink before setting the glass down on the stand, covering a portion of the envelope. His eyes never left the flames.

When he finally moved to stand, his knees performed a slight crack that came with the combination of sitting too long and aging. The suit he put on the morning prior was still on his person, neatly tailored, but no longer freshly pressed. Forced to carry on the day, Rodney left the flames inviting privacy and walked down the hall into his bathroom. He opened the glass shower door and turned on the water, letting it heat to a nearly scalding temperature as he took off his suit, neatly folding every article of clothing and setting the small pile on the counter. He stepped into the shower and closed the door, letting the hot pellets consume him.

UPDATE #2: I have chosen six winners and sent out emails. Once I have replies from all six, I will post their names and book of choice. Thank you all again for entering! – Jenna

UPDATE: The giveaway is closed. I will draw & contact winners on Tuesday and announce them on the blog soon after. Thank you all for entering! – Jenna

Welcome to another Read, Write & Live book giveaway!  I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and The Diary of a Bookworm are the hosts for this fantastic giveaway. There are HUNDREDS of bloggers participating in this giveaway hop (422 total), so be sure to check them out as well at the host links.

THE RULES:
1. You must be 13+ years old to participate.
2. You do not need a blog to participate.
3. No restrictions on location. This is an international giveaway.
4. Winners will be picked at random (random.org).
5. One form entry per person.
6. FILL OUT THIS FORM.
Note: You must fill out the form above in order to be entered into this contest. While comments are appreciated, leaving one will not enter you into the giveaway.
Optional (+2 entries on the form): I am participating in the Reader’s Digest Contest on Facebook. If you (1) “Like” Reader’s Digest and (2) Vote for my story, you will automatically get 2 extra entries. Check the box in the form if you do this. (Note: Please be honest about voting. I can only know by number of votes how many I’ve received. It doesn’t show names or dates, so I’m going to trust that if you check the box, you actually voted.) All help with this contest is greatly appreciated either way.

The winner will have 48 hours to respond to the email I send them. If there is no response by that time, I will pick a new winner.

The giveaway is open from October 24 – October 31.

THE PRIZE:

I normally give out as many as three books with a giveaway, but since so many people are participating in this hop, I’m going to double that number. For every 15 registries, I will give away one book, with a maximum of six books total. The book must come from the Barnes & Noble Classics section. I’m a poor college student, so that’s as much as I can do this time around, especially since I’m upping the number. Please check the entire list here.

Good luck to everyone!

I would like to thank everyone again for entering to win a book from my blog’s Literary Giveaway Blog Hop. I ended up with 117 entries this time around, which is an extremely impressive number. I am posting the winners below (chosen by random.org), as well as a little bit about each book that the winners have selected. Book overviews are taken from the Barnes & Noble website.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Winner: Karin (Blog: breieninpeking)


The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
Winner: Kristin

Six years after the phenomenal success of The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger has returned with a spectacularly compelling and haunting second novel set in and around Highgate Cemetery in London.

When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American girls never met their English aunt; they only knew that their mother, too, was a twin, and Elspeth her sister. Julia and Valentina are semi-normal American teenagers — with seemingly little interest in college, finding jobs, or anything outside their cozy home in the suburbs of Chicago, and with an abnormally intense attachment to one another.

The girls move to Elspeth’s flat, which borders Highgate Cemetery. They come to know the building’s other residents. There is Martin, a brilliant and charming crossword puzzle setter suffering from crippling obsessive-compulsive disorder; Marjike, Martin’s devoted but trapped wife; and Robert, Elspeth’s elusive former lover, a scholar of the cemetery. As the girls become embroiled in the fraying lives of their aunt’s neighbors, they also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including — perhaps — their aunt, who can’t seem to leave her old apartment and life behind.

Niffenegger weaves a captivating story in Her Fearful Symmetry: about love and identity, about secrets and sisterhood, and about the tenacity of life — even after death.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Winner: Darlene (Blog: Darlene’s Book Nook)

From the acclaimed author of The Remains of the Day and When We Were Orphans, a moving new novel that subtly reimagines our world and time in a haunting story of friendship and love.

As a child, Kathy-now thirty-one years old-lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter. Kathy had long ago put this idyllic past behind her, but when two of her Hailsham friends come back into her life, she stops resisting the pull of memory.

And so, as her friendship with Ruth is rekindled, and as the feelings that long ago fueled her adolescent crush on Tommy begin to deepen into love, Kathy recalls their years at Hailsham. She describes happy scenes of boys and girls growing up together, unperturbed-even comforted-by their isolation. But she describes other scenes as well: of discord and misunderstanding that hint at a dark secret behind Hailsham s nurturing facade. With the dawning clarity of hindsight, the three friends are compelled to face the truth about their childhood-and about their lives now.

A tale of deceptive simplicity, Never Let Me Go slowly reveals an extraordinary emotional depth and resonance-and takes its place among Kazuo Ishiguro’s finest work.


Thank you again for all entries!
Heads Up: I am be doing another giveaway starting tomorrow, so check back for another chance to win a book then.

Cheers!

The Broke and the Bookish started Top Ten Tuesday, and I have finally gotten around to taking part.

To see a list of upcoming Top Ten Tuesday topics, please click HERE.

Top Ten Books That Whose Titles Or Covers Made Me Buy It

I was excited to make this my first Top Ten post because I had an experience with a friend last week at Barnes & Noble relating to this topic. We were standing in front of a bookcase that had about 30 new titles facing us. I told him we should each think of three that strike us most by cover, title, or both. We took a minute to silently do this, then shared our winners. Conclusion: Two of our three choices ended up being the same book. I thought it was cool.

Anyways…here is my list.

1. How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster
Sometimes I wonder what those professors are thinking about when reading, but then I realize they’re going to tell me anyways. Being an English major, I constantly read something and form an opinion, then go to class and learn that there were several additional points that I somehow missed. For instance, we spent an hour of my Shakespeare class last week discussing nine lines of Richard III. NINE LINES! Seriously. I love the class, but come on. Nine. Anyways, I bought this book because I wanted to know (as the title says) how to read literature like a professor. I haven’t actually read this one yet, so we’ll see in time how their minds work.

2. When You’re Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
Take David Sedaris and add a smoking skeleton…how can you go wrong? If you have the opportunity to hear Mr. Sedaris’ speak, you’ll begin to read the way he sounds, and I’ll be honest to say it makes his already hilarious words even more hilarious. I try to avoid this word with grown men, but he’s adorable. The cover imagery was enough for me, really, but wanting to know what “engulfed in flames” meant, I had to buy it.

3. Shakespeare’s Wife by Germaine Greer
There is a town called Hay-on-Wye in Wales that hosts a major literary festival every summer. The town has a couple thousand residents and thirty-some used bookstores. Translations: Reader’s Paradise. One of the shops I went into had this book sitting up high on a shelf. I had already purchased five books on my England trip and told myself I wouldn’t get another, but something about this book made me “need” it. We just got done visiting Stratford-Upon-Avon and learned all about Shakespeare, but even so the image of a woman without a head (the real identifier) holding a book (presumably Shakespeare’s work) fascinated me. I knew nothing of Anne Hathaway (not the actress) at that point, so I was eager to learn more.

4. Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour an Introduction by J.D. Salinger
Talk about a mouthful title! I remain iffy on Salinger’s classic Catcher, so I wanted to see what else he had to offer, and I’m glad that I did. This book made me fall in love with Salinger. I’ll say no more to prevent spoilers, but the reason I was attracted to it was because of how radical the font was, and yet the cover is so simple. You’re learn this is common with his books. The cover art is minimal, but the title intrigues you enough to buy it.

5 & 6. Never Let Me Go and The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
I was lazy and put Ishiguro’s novels together. I think they go nicely together because it’s obvious that people will be involved in some way. (That was an overly obvious statement, I know.) I also liked how the face is looking up towards the man. Titles with gripping words like “Never” interest me for reasons I won’t go into. The face also seemed very determined and thoughtful, which goes well with the title. I was excited for Remains of the Day because of the dainty looking gentleman on the cover. I had also read Never Let Me Go at this point, so I knew I would enjoy another Ishiguro novel.

7. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Who doesn’t love a glossy hand? I have an assumption that when words are jumbling in closely and wrapping randomly with various font sizes (AKA not on a straight, boring line), I almost always think the book is going to be amazing. Add in the giant hand as a focus, and you’ve got a hit.

8. The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
I came across this book a few weeks after reading the poem Leda and the Swan by William Butler Yeats. As awkward as the idea of Zeus in swan form raping a woman is, I loved the poem and was instantly attracted to this title and cover. Sometimes titles/covers remind you of something else and because of that memory you want to read the new book. That’s pretty much what happened here. I’ve also been around swans in both England and France, and that’s exactly how I remember them. Wings out and fierce.

9. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
The cover art is more than enough reason for me to want to buy this book. I would love to say it was the word “Witches” that did it, but I’ve only read Harry Potter in that realm of literature, so that was merely a bonus. I like how it’s called a history of witches, like they are in fact real and the history is going to be explained in the novel. I also want to figure out what all of those symbols mean. I haven’t read this yet, so please no spoilers!

10. The Making of Modern Britain by Andrew Marr
Waterstone’s is the Barnes & Noble of England, at least in my opinion. I came across this book on the 3 for 2 shelf. I should have reminded myself that three books in one store was unnecessary considering I had space limits with luggage, but I also wanted to learn about the making of modern Britain, and what better way than a book with such an obvious title. The flag on the cover also played a role, of course.

Be sure to check back next Tuesday for another round of Top Ten.

Cheers!

Question: What books make your list?

UPDATE: The giveaway is closed. I will draw & contact winners on Thursday and announce them on the blog soon after. Thank you all for entering! – Jenna

Note: I set up this post to remain at the top of my blog until the end of the giveaway date. Please view below to see newer posts.

Welcome to the Read, Write & Live book giveaway. This blog hop is hosted by Leeswammes. Please check out her page for more information.

THE RULES:
1. You must be 13+ years old to participate.
2. You do not need a blog to participate.
3. No restrictions on location. This is an international giveaway.
4. Winners will be picked at random.
5. One entry per person.
6. FILL OUT THIS FORM.
Note: You must fill out the form above in order to be entered into this contest. While comments are appreciated, leaving one will not enter you into the giveaway.

The winner will have 48 hours to respond to the email I send them. If there is no response by that time, I will pick a new winner.

The giveaway is open from October 15 – October 19 (opening/closing at midnight Central Time).

THE PRIZE:
I will give out 1 book for every 15 entries, with a maximum of 3 books. It can be any book of literary merit. In other words, choose something that could be seen in the Literature section of a store/site. This will not include Young Adult, Western, Romance, etc. The winner’s book can be worth up to $20. I will purchase the books from an online source (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.).

Good luck to everyone!

For more giveaways, check out these blogs:

  1. Leeswammes
  2. Devouring Texts
  3. The Book Whisperer
  4. Seaside Book Nook
  5. The Scarlet Letter (US only)
  6. Rikki’s Teleidoscope
  7. Bibliosue
  8. Curled Up With a Good Book and a Cup of Tea
  9. The Book Diva’s Reads
  10. Gaskella
  11. Lucybird’s Book Blog
  12. Kim’s Bookish Place
  13. The Book Garden
  14. Under My Apple Tree
  15. Helen Smith
  16. Sam Still Reading
  17. Nishita’s Rants and Raves
  18. Ephemeral Digest
  19. Bookworm with a View
  20. The Parrish Lantern
  21. Dolce Bellezza
  22. Lena Sledge Blog
  23. Book Clutter
  24. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer (US only)
  25. The Blue Bookcase
  26. Book Journey (US only)
  27. The House of the Seven Tails (US only)
  28. In One Eye, Out the Other (US only)
  29. Read, Write & Live
  30. Fresh Ink Books
  1. Living, Learning, and Loving Life (US only)
  2. Bibliophile By the Sea
  3. Laurie Here Reading & Writing Reviews
  4. Amy’s Book World (US only)
  5. Teadevotee
  6. Joy’s Book Blog
  7. Word Crushes (US only)
  8. Thinking About Loud!
  9. Kinna Reads
  10. Sweeping Me
  11. Minding Spot (US only)
  12. Babies, Books, and Signs (US only)
  13. Lisa Beth Darling
  14. Tony’s Reading List
  15. SusieBookworm (US only)
  16. Tell Me A Story
  17. Close Encounters with the Night Kind
  18. Nerfreader
  19. Mevrouw Kinderboek (Netherlands, Belgium)
  20. Boekblogger (Netherlands)
  21. In Spring it is the Dawn
  22. No Page Left Behind
  23. Elle Lit