Book Worm · School

Best Writing Advice I’ve Received

Hey everyone, sorry for the last two weeks of silence but I’ve been dealing with some laptop issues. Luckily, my lovely mother is allowing me to use her’s so I can get back to blogging ❤

 

I will admit, I am not the best writer there is (shocking, I know). However, I have been blessed to have some amazingly talented teachers and professors as well as had the opportunity to meet a few stunning authors at my university. Today, I thought I’d share some of the best advice for aspiring authors that I have heard from these professionals.

 

Focus on character, not plot.

I took a student-led workshop and the women running the show urged us to avoid ‘genre writing’ meaning not creating an epic horror or fantasy and instead creating a character first and seeing how that character interacts with the world. They said this helps avoid archetypes, cliches, and allows the readers to relate to the characters more because they turn out to be more life like.

The 1 inch picture frame.

One professor told me that when you’re stuck, fill in a 1 inch picture frame. What he meant was, when you don’t know where you are in a scene or what is happening, imagine the person or setting and just try to explain a 1×1 inch square of the full picture. It will get you started and help keep moving you forward.

best book ever

Write what you’re bad at.

The brilliant Junot Díaz spoke at my university my first year there. Many of his books are written in second person point of view and when asked why he writes that way, he responded that point of view is the one he is worst at. So, he writes books that way so he can get better because otherwise he would never improve. I try to emulate his approach by trying to write short stories and thrillers every once in a while to mix it up and practice. It’s kind of like switching up exercises in the gym so that all your muscles get stronger rather than just one.

Edit at the end.

Nanowrimo taught me this. Before, I’d write twenty pages then spend hours painstakingly looking over word choice and spelling errors rather than writing twenty more. By not looking back until you’re done, you’re less likely to get disgruntled and more likely to finish.

kermit writing

Rewrite rather than edit.

My creative writer professor is a novelist and his main advice for editing drafts was to literally retype the entire piece rather than just edit an existing document. He encouraged this for poem drafts, ten page stories, and claims that he does this for his novels as well. Although time consuming, he guarantees that it helps slow you down and will allow you to catch mistakes and areas to improve that you may otherwise miss. While I have yet to do this will a full novel, I did recently retype rather than edit a twenty page short story and I do believe it helped.

 

I hope these tips help you as much as they’ve helped me. Please share your own in the comments because I’m always looking for new ways to approach telling a story!

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Medical Student

Tips for Writing a Personal Statement

The personal statement for medical school applications can be the most daunting. It’s one page where you can write anything you want about yourself and it’s often the best opportunity to demonstrate who you are besides just your GPA and MCAT scores. Thus, it was the part of my application that I was most stressed about but I ended up with a piece I was pretty happy with. So, I thought I’d share my personal tips that helped me.

who am i

First make a list.

Answer the question “What are you passionate about” and just brainstorm. See what patterns you see and try to pull those out in your writing.

Sound like yourself.

Yes, you want to sound professional but not like there’s a thesaurus is tossing out words.

Have the right people edit.

Have people you trust edit such as your school health committee or career advising. An English major or professor for grammar and spelling. But be wary of having too many people edit it. Too many cooks in the kitchen can leave you with something you’re not happy with.

Focus your paper.

Only highlight 1-2 key experiences from your resume. Otherwise it’ll just read like a laundry list. Mention the 2 most relevant ones to what you’re applying to and use the space to expand on them.

I hope some of these tips help and good luck with your applications!!

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Book Worm

Book Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin

Confession: I did not sleep last night. I decided to start A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas with the intention of only reading a few chapters. Then, all of a sudden I was 600 pages in at 5 in the morning so I just powered through.

I love this series. Check out my review of book one here and book two here. This book picks up a few weeks after the second one with Feyre living at the Spring Court with a duplicitous mission – weaken Hybern and the Spring Court from the inside. Don’t worry, no spoilers!

court of wings and ruin

This book is the longest in the series yet at 699 pages and is action packed. My favorite aspect of this book is that we get to see more of the other courts and their interactions. There is a fabulous scene with all the leaders of the different courts bickering about past issues and having political fights. It is entertaining and important to the plot as Feyre and her friends attempt to unite the island against enemy forces.

Rhysand is without a doubt one of my favorite characters in this series. Thus, I was a little disappointed that he didn’t make an appearance until about 100 pages in. Tamlin, as always, annoyed me. I think that Maas attempted to write a slight redemption arc but I was not having it. We get to know Elain and Nesta much better and how they fit into this new Fae world.

I do have a few critiques about this book. There were a lot of side stories such as Lucien taking a little adventure and Nesta recovering after the cauldron incident from the last book that I would have enjoyed seeing first hand from their POV. There are two short chapters form Rhysand’s POV but other than that it is entirely Feyre. My hope is that Maas may write some novellas to provide a few more details about some of the side plots. Additionally, some of the plot lines wrapped up a bit too easily. I can’t believe that I’m saying this since the book was quite long but certain pivotal scenes felt rushed.

Overall, it was a great addition to this series and fans will definitely enjoy it. However, the second book remains my favorite in the trilogy. Let me know what you all think!

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Lifestyle · School

Advice for my 18 Year Old Self

It has been exactly one week since I graduated and like many other new alums, I’ve spent some time reflecting over my college experience. I wanted to share advice that I wish I had known as an 18 year old entering college.

grad 1

You’re no longer a big fish in a little pond

You’re not going to be the smartest in your class, the most active in your sorority, or the best on your intramural team. You’re transitioning from a 400 person class to a 1400 person class so it’s okay that you aren’t number 1. Don’t let it get to your head.

Find people who make you happy

Don’t spend time with negative people who talk behind each other’s backs. Don’t be a negative person who talks behind someone’s back.

grad 2

Ask people out

Okay, by this I mean 2 things. 1. Feel free to ask boys out. Hook up culture does exist but who cares, if you like someone, ask them out. 2. Ask out friends for dates. If you meet someone cool, ask them to grab coffee. It’s not weird to pursue friendships.

Grades are important but you don’t need to work as hard as you think you do

Now, we both know that you’re a neurotic freak who obsesses over grades. But being happy and having a balanced lifestyle is just as important. In fact, if you’re happy, you’ll do better in school. Having fun for a few hours a day will make you more productive in the long run.

It’s okay if you don’t meet your best friends right away

Freshman year is overwhelming and you’ll make friends but it’s okay if they don’t carry you through all four years. In fact, you may meet your best friend as a senior and that’s great too.

Last but not least, enjoy yourself. It’s gonna be a great four years!

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Book Worm

Favorite Book Covers

Whoever said not to judge a book by its cover was CLEARLY never overwhelmed in a fabulous book store! Because, let’s be honest, the book cover and title is what makes you reach for the book and read that back cover. So while it’s obviously not the most important part of the book, the cover does have a key role to play and there’s something so impressive that these artists do to express the feel of the book in a single snapshot that I just love to look at. I only included covers of books I have actually read.

So without further ado, here are some of my favorite book covers of all time…

Three Dark Crowns

three-dark-crowns

Each crown perfectly represents each of the main 3 queens which you appreciate even more after reading it.

Meg

meg steve alten

Yes, the cover is a giant shark eating a t-rex is a bit much but you have to admit that it definitely grabs your attention.

Graceling

graceling-cover

Individuals with graces have distinct eye colors. The main character’s graced skill is killing so the reflection of her eye on a dagger is smart and iconic.

My Sister’s Keeper

my sister's keeper

A beautiful story of two sisters’ dependence on each other that this cover depicts.

Undivided

undivided

This is one of my favorite series of all time! This novel shows America’s reactions to the divisions which is why I love the scarred statue of liberty.

Wicked Bugs: The Louse that Conquered Napoleon’s Army and Other Diabolical Insects

wicked bugs

I love this creepy but still lovely cover.

The Murmurings

the murmurings

This horror novel grabs you with this creepy cover. The story is just as creepy!

This is How You Lose Her

this is how you lose her

This collection of stories about lost love is astonishing and I really appreciated this lego-like heart.

The Cellar

the cellar

This story is haunting and heartbreaking about a young woman who is kidnapped and locked in a man’s cellar. This cover captures the haunted aspect perfectly.

Tiger Lily

tiger lily

This novel tells the story of Peter Pan from Tiger Lily’s perspective. I love the colors and textures of the dress on the cover!

Let me know your own favorite covers! If you try any of these books, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Believe me, the stories are as great as the cover images ❤

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Medical Student · School

Tips for MCAT Test Day

The MCAT is a beast of a test and there are so many tips and tricks to use for preparing for it. However, not a lot of people share their ‘day of’ tips. Here are some of my personal tips for what to do the day of the test based on my personal experience.

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1. Try to have a relaxing night

Obviously you want a good night’s sleep but if you can’t fall asleep because of nerves, try to do something relaxing that does not include technology. Maybe read a book or journal just to keep your mind at ease and rest.

2. Get there early… duh

You will not be the only one and it will cut down some of your anxiety.

3. Stretch during breaks

You’re going to be sitting for a long time. During my breaks I did full yoga stretches and even sat down on the floor to do the butterfly – I didn’t worry about what I looked like, I just wanted to feel comfortable.

4. Pack smart

I brought plenty of snacks and a cardigan because I tend to get cold.

5. Know the rules

You need proper forms of ID. Also, some places will only let you bring in ear buds to the testing site if they are still in the package so double check this.

6. Don’t make plans

You may be mentally exhausted by the time the test is done. If you want to celebrate after, do so but don’t plan anything too strenuous otherwise you may regret it.

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Mood Board Monday

Monday Mood Board 12

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All photos from Pinterest

Ahhhhh… it is finally here – GRAD WEEK! I am officially done with all of my undergraduate classes and finals and now it’s time to relax before the big day Saturday. I started it off right last night with a cook out with friends including hot dogs, mojitos, and a game of spike ball (I had never played before and am officially obsessed).

This week, my goals are to relax and have a great time with friends – hopefully outside since the weather should be nice. We have a lot of great sand volleyball courts around campus so I’d love to get some friendly games in. I’m definitely going to take time to just chill. I just started watching The Arrangement. I’m two episodes in and hooked so I’m excited to binge watch more.

Of course, this week there are things I need to accomplish including packing, saying goodbyes, and decorating my grad cap (I’ll def share it in a later post!). But overall I’m pumped for this week.

 

With summer starting shortly, my weeks are going to start to blend together so this will be my last Monday mood board… at least for the summer. But I am going to do my best to post consistently every Wednesday and Saturday this summer season so stay tuned for more ❤

Book Worm

Summer Reading Recommendations

There’s nothing quite like reading a great book poolside and summer is a perfect time to catch up on one’s reading list. Today, I thought I’d share some of my favorite summer books that are perfect for an enjoyable summer read!

 

Outlander – Diana Gabaldon

You may recognize the name from the popular TV show – well the book is incredible as well. It follows the world war II nurse Claire who accidentally travels back in time to 18th century Scotland where she meets warrior Jamie Fraser.

The story is an entertaining blend of historical fiction, romance, and adventure. If you aren’t the biggest fan of fantasy, don’t count this out just because of the time traveling. Other than that, it doesn’t have as many fantastical elements but is more of a historical romance.

outlander

The Girl in the Gatehouse – Julie Klassen

Mariah lives in an abandoned gatehouse where she supports herself by writing novels in secret. When a new wealthy Captain leases the estate, he is intrigued by her but also curious as to what dark past forced her to seek asylum in the gatehouse.

This is a beautiful piece of historical romance with a beguiling outcast as its protagonist. An easy read with some interesting twists.

girl in the gatehouse

I’ll Give You the Sun – Jandy Nelson

Twins Jude and Noah are incredibly close and talented artists. At 13, Noah is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door. Three years later, Jude doesn’t speak to her brother and is having difficulty making art until she meets a cocky, broken boy. The story alternates between the two time lines and weaves a beautiful tale about art, family, and growing up.

This book has a lovely and inspiring plot and beautiful writing. There were literally lines in every chapter that took my breath away. It made me want to be a better writer.

i'll give you the sun

Meg – Steve Alten

During a top secret dive into the Pacific Ocean’s deepest canyon, diver Jonas Taylor finds a creature that should be extinct – the megalodon shark. Taylor tries desperately to get the world to believe him but it takes a trip back to the water with a new hotshot female submarine to see if he is correct.

This book is Jaws times one hundred. While it may not be a great read while at the beach (especially if you’re already anxious about sharks haha) it is super entertaining, action-packed, with romance, suspense and a fairly plausible explanation for how the megalodon still exists.

meg steve alten

Selection – Kiera Cass

Think The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games in this riveting young adult novel. The selection is the chance of a lifetime for thirty-five girls to compete for Prince Maxon’s heart and become queen. But, for America Singer it is horrible due to her secret love for Aspen.

This book is an easy to devour beach read perfect for summer.

the selection

Moloka’i – Alan Brennert

Rachel Kalama is seven years old when she is taken to the far-off island Moloka’i due to her leprosy. The novel follows her life growing up in isolation with other sick individuals.

This story changed my life and inspired me to pursue medicine. With vibrant characters, warmth, and humor this story is so heartfelt and will change how you see illness as a whole.

moloka'i

 

I hope you enjoy some of my recommendations. Please let me know if you have any recommendations for me, I’m always looking for new stories to love!!!

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Mood Board Monday

Monday Mood Board 11

mood board 11.PNG
All photos from Pinterest

Ah, I cannot believe I am saying this but this week is my last week as an undergraduate! By Friday, my classes will be over and my exams will be finished. Thus, for this week’s mood board I focused on the two words serene and celebratory.

I picked neutral colors and photos with energy as well as some fun mixed drinks I may try to concoct for graduation celebrations. Now, my actual graduation is not until the 20th but I will probably want to toast with friends after the final day of classes. Besides that, I just want to relax this week and spend time with friends. The school pool is open so I’d love to go there at least once this week since the weather is much warmer and just enjoy everyone’s company. Who knows, I could always study for finals on a pool chair? 🙂

To those of you also graduating, congratulations! What are some of the ways you all are celebrating?

Book Worm · Medical Student

Book Review: First Person Plural

I recently read First Person Plural: My Life as a Multiple by Cameron West which details the author’s personal struggle with dissociative identity disorder or DID (once called multiple personality disorder).

first person plural

I have read quite a few books detailing individuals with this disorder and their life stories. Many involve quite detailed accounts of the abuse they encountered. Although this book does include upsetting details, the focus is not on what Cameron went through as a child due to a sexually abusive mother and grandmother, but rather it focuses on Cameron’s struggles as an adult. I think this makes this a more approachable story for readers interested in DID who are wary of reading a graphic retelling of abuse.

The story starts with Cameron West, a father in his late thirties, running a successful business and happily married. However, as time goes on he finds that his mind starts to jumble and eventually, he finds other personalities – 24 to be exact.

What is truly amazing about Cameron’s story is the support system he has! His wife Rikki is incredibly supportive. The story includes her own struggles as she tries to help the  man she loves through this journey. Also, reading about how the two decide to tell their young son about what is happening is so interesting. Their son, Kyle, explains how he sees his father’s disorder as well and a child’s perspective is great.

I think that this book is a great find for anyone – either people interested in psychological disorders or practicing physicians. DID is a disorder that is often misunderstood and has serious implications on an individual’s physical health as well. Cameron’s story is a fantastic first step to starting to understand DID and its full impacts on an affected individual’s life.

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