4 Tricks To Get Out Of A Reading Slump

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Hi there! I hope you have had a great week. Have you done something just for you this week?

I got into a reading slump recently.

It was rough.

I couldn’t get into anything I was reading.

I blame The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab. It was heart-wrenching and I had a serious book hangover afterwards.

If you haven’t read it, I definitely recommend it. But make sure to give yourself a little time to recover afterwards.

I was just jumping from book to book, barely giving myself a chance to breathe between one cover and the next.

Then, when this book happened to me (and boy, did it hit me hard), everything else lost its luster.

Photo by Lina Kivaka on Pexels.com

So, how do you fix a reading slump?

Well, here are 4 easy steps…

1: STOP READING!

This may seem counterintuitive…

How do I get interested in reading again if I’m not reading?

Well, your brain is crying out for a break.

You’ve exhausted yourself. You’ve lost interest.

If you keep trying to consume more books, you’re just making it worse.

And, you might not be enjoying the books that you would otherwise love!

I stopped reading the Serpent & Dove series, and I think I might have enjoyed it if I hadn’t been in a slump.

So stop reading!

Just give your brain a break.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

2: Find something else that sparks creativity.

Paint. Go for a walk. Watch some movies. Take pictures.

Do something else in the creative world.

Yes, you can still get a great story from TV/movies.

Don’t be snooty.

Just do anything that gets your creative juices flowing.

I like watching movies, but there are so many options.

You just need to remember how it feels to be creative, but without reading books.

I paint sometimes. I’m not great at it, but that’s not really the point.

If your brain is tired of the same old thing, you’re stuck in a creative rut.

Have you tried cooking? Baking?

It can be really fun!

Just do something that makes you feel free and excited again.

Maybe you’ll get that spark back.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

3: Practice Self-Care.

Another reason you may not be into books recently might be because your mood has taken a dip and you didn’t realize it.

I’m guilty of this.

I get so hyperfocused on stories. I let them occupy my mind so wholly that I don’t realize I’m actually compensating for some deeper issues.

It’s nice when a book can help you cope.

Sometimes it pulls you out of this world and gives you a new one to think about for a while.

This can be good, but only for a while.

You have to confront your issues or they will eat away at you without you even realizing it.

This reading slump is your brain’s way of saying,

“Hey! Pay attention to me!”

Take a step back.

Ask yourself how you’re feeling, mentally and physically.

Are you covering up issues you’re struggling with by reading a bunch of books?

It’s ok to take a break and just feel your feelings.

Photo by RF._.studio on Pexels.com

4: Read a different genre.

This really helped me get back into reading!

I decided to go for something light and easy.

I read Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan.

I’m not going to lie to you. This book was not some masterpiece.

But it was a really fun and easy read!

It was something light that could get me interested in reading again.

It was exactly what I needed.

A change of pace.

Keep in mind that changing genres might not work if you haven’t already done the other steps.

Your brain is giving you a sign. You need to listen, not just hop into another distraction.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Pexels.com

I hope these four tricks will help you get out of your reading slump!

Let me know what tricks have worked for you in the past. I would love to hear from some fellow readers.

And, most importantly, take care of yourself.

You are your top priority.

Sending love,

MK

Linux would like to remind you that there is no greater story than your own. Don’t forget to live a little. And also pet a pooch.

5 Books That Made Me A Better Writer

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See Disclaimers for more details.

Reading can be a great way to improve your writing. Reading both in and out of your preferred genre can broaden you knowledge of writing and improve your writing skills. As you read, you pick up on things the author did well, and also things they did… not so well. You learn things you like and dislike when it comes to story-telling.

When I started writing, I became a different kind of reader. Before, I read just to experience and consume. Now, I pay attention. Sentence structure. Paragraph layout. Storyline. Character details. Everything. I take note of what I need to improve on (foreshadowing) and things I need to avoid (slow-moving plot).

Below, I have cultivated a few books/series that greatly impacted my writing. From world building to character development, these books taught me a lot about how I want to write my stories.

I hope this list can help you, as well!

The Remnant Chronicles
& Dance of Thieves

Mary E Pearson paints an incredibly vivid and believable world in the Remnant Chronicles, which continues several years later with the Dance of Thieves duology. I loved both of these series, though I prefer the initial trilogy because I felt the pacing was better.

To be honest, the story in the Dance of Thieves duology felt a little forced and unnecessary to me, though I enjoyed it for what I believe Pearson does best: World Building.

World Building, for the newbies out there, is the process of creating your own world for your story. Culture, language, religions, behaviors, plant life, animal life, I could go on, but you get the point. Pearson has created such a vivid and believable world. She even went as far as creating a language and writing poems from some religious texts.

When I started writing my first book (as yet unpublished, though actively searching for agents), I took note of the way she described her landscape, and how the characters interacted with it. At one point, the main character travels across the desert to another land. You can almost feel the heat on your skin, the soreness in your limbs, the chafing of the rope on your wrists.

Her descriptions of the world are so immersive, you can’t help but be sucked in. This is taken even further by not only having a religion, but multiple religions unique to each culture. This is way more believable than a world-wide religion that everybody knows everything about.

Think about our world. How many religions are there? And within one “religion,” how many different sets of beliefs can people practice? How many practitioners of the same exact religion have every piece of knowledge about said religion?

You could see how the religions would have evolved over time. I won’t go into too many details for those who haven’t read it, but this is a post-apocalyptic world, and you can imagine how their “gods” might have come about, how pre-apocalyptic technology would have been viewed as magic, how nuclear missiles could have been misconstrued for stars centuries later.

I highly recommend The Remnant Chronicles, both for enjoyment, and as a form of research for your own writing. If you struggle with world building, or if you are just interested in learning more, these books are an incredible example for you to take note of.

If you’d like to get a copy, you can check out my affiliate links below.
Remnant Chronicles Dance of Thieves

Six of Crows

The Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo is also a great example for world building for many of the same reasons I listed for The Remnant Chronicles. The culture and religions, the vivid nature of Leigh’s writing, it sweeps you up so thoroughly it can be easy to forget you’re reading!

What I though she did exceptionally well with this duology (better than Shadow & Bone, sorry) is the way she built her characters. She wrote from multiple points of view (POV) throughout these books, and they never blurred together. You could really believe that each character had their own set of wants and desires, goals, fears, likes and dislikes.

She not only made them unique, but also included traits in each character that the reader could identify with. Kaz and Inej were both survivors. They had undergone immense trauma, but rose from the ashes stronger for it. Where Kaz went hard and shut people out, Inej sought compassion and goodness, a higher power. I think everyone can identify with one or both of those on some level.

Each and every character was unique and believable. That’s the other issue you can sometimes run into with character building. Making them unique is one thing, but do the feel real? Can you look at their behavior and say, “oh yeah, I can see why she would say that” or “he’s acting that way because of______”.

This was especially difficult for me in my writing, making sure that each character was unique and not just supporting the protagonist’s goal, but actually having goals of their own. If you want to learn more about character development (and read an awesome book) I highly recommend the Six of Crows duology.

If If you’d like to get a copy, you can check out my affiliate links below.
Six of Crows Six of Crows Box Set

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor follows in line with the excellent world building and character development of The Remnant Chronicles and Six of Crows. You can see Laini put a great deal of time and research into her story and her characters. It’s beautifully done.

More than that, for me, what stood out in this book was the writing. My God, the writing. I felt romanced by words. Laini was seranading me while I sat on my couch, sweats sticking to my skin as I flicked through page after page.

I felt like I was reading poetry, but way more exciting. Not that poetry can’t be exciting, but it has this gripping plot to go with it. Angst. Passion. Fear. Joy. Love. Daughter of Smoke and Bone had all of those and more. Between the incredible story (seriously, Laini is so creative) and the epic prose, I was hooked from cover to cover.

That’s something I strive for in my writing. Story is important, but there’s so much more. Good writing comes with practice, and I’ll be the first to admit I have way more to learn, but mimicking her writing style and the fluidity of her words is a huge goal of mine.

I maybe, kinda, sorta, just a wee-tiddly-bit idolize her.

I definitely recommend this series to people who need to work on sentence structure and overall beautification of words. Laini will expand your vocabulary and melt your heart with her inspiring use of language.

I’m gushing. I’ll stop now.

Sorry, people.

Seriously, read her books.

OK now I’m really done.

If you’d like to get a copy, you can check out my affiliate links below.
Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Daughter of Smoke & Bone Trilogy

Throne of Glass

Sarah J Maas is basically the benchmark of good fantasy, or at least that’s popular opinion. I will admit, I was swept up by the Throne of Glass series. I haven’t read all her other books yet, though I’m almost done with ACOTAR, but they are sitting on my shelf waiting for me! She’s definitely an author I always buy.

She may not have the beautiful prose of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, but the story is fantastic. She has all the things, friends. All. The. Things. Good writing. Excellent story. Relatable, developed characters. Twists and turns. Maybe a wee bit of spice…

But what really got me about this story, and the reason she is on my list, is the way she planted seeds throughout this series that blossomed chapters, or sometimes books, later. We call this foreshadowing, kids, and by God Sarah is goooooood. I will give an example, and if you hate spoilers, go to the next paragraph. In the novella (set before the first book) The Assasain and the Healer, Celaena feels pulled towards Yrene, saves her booty, teaches her some awesome moves, and gives her money to go to school. In the last book, guess who saves ThE eNtIrE wOrLd?!?! Yrene. Why? Because she went to school to become a healer. Like… I can’t, people. Consider me shooketh.

End spoiler

Planting little seeds throughout your story, watering them as you go, then letting them bloom is the best way to give your readers what the kids these days are calling “shock and awe”.

There’s this idea that has long been talked about in the writing world. Anton Chekhov explains that if you mention a gun in one chapter, it has to go off at some point during your story. This is meant to keep your writing nice ‘n tidy: don’t mention pointless crap. But it also exhibits foreshadowing, the tool every writer should be using.

Thriller
Tommy mentions a gun in passing during chapter 3.
Tommy uses the gun when someone breaks in during chapter 10.

Mystery
Anna mentions a bloodstain on her husband’s shirt in chapter 2.
Turn’s out Anna’s hubby has been a naughty boy and is actually the murderer (chapter 29).

You get the idea.

Maas does an incredible job of planting these little seeds throughout her novel. I like to imagine her writing these books with a million flashcards on the ground around her, foreshadowing points on each one. Because if you think about it, she must have planned out every detail before she wrote it.

I digress.

I hope that I can be that detailed in my writing. I hope that when my readers reach the end of my book they get that ah-hah moment where all the little bits of information suddenly become clear.

Also this series was epic and a total game-changer for me.

End gush.

If you’d like to get a copy, you can check out my affiliate links below.
Throne of Glass Throne of Glass Box Set Paperback
Throne of Glass Box Set Hardcover

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Last but not least, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. This book, fellow humans… This book broke me and remade me.

So I’m not going to lie, sometimes the story was a little slow for me. Hah! That kinda goes against what I just said, but it’s true. But it honestly didn’t matter because of the writing. It wasn’t just the use of beautiful language like Laini, it was the way V. E. Schwab evoked emotion with the simplest of phrases.

“Because time is cruel to all, and crueler still to artists. Because vision weakens, and voices wither, and talent fades…. Because happiness is brief, and history is lasting, and in the end… everyone wants to be remembered”
-V. E. Schwab

This book was so well thought out. The research alone makes my head hurt to even think about. But also the story line… Schwab had to make a timeline three centuries long. Three. Centuries. Long. In the real world, people. So research, history, facts, places, dates, ugh.

To be able to plan and research for a book like that is a huge source of inspiration for me, and one of the reasons I included it in this post.

The main reason, though, is the way Schwab writes like she knows exactly what strings to pull. She had me laughing and crying, screaming and closing the book just to absorb. The way she manipulates language into something tangible, something that washes over you so you can breathe in the character’s pain, their love, their misery, their joy.

And the way Schwab portrays mental illness… It’s perfect. Henry is depressed, that much is clear. The way Schwab dove into the inner workings of his mind and said things that I myself have said, had him behaving in ways I have behaved, wrote out thoughts that I’ve had and never shared with anyone…

“Take a drink every time you hear you’re not enough.
Not the right fit.
Not the right look.
Not the right focus.
Not the right drive.
Not the right time.
Not the right job.
Not the right path.
Not the right future.
Not the right present.
Not the right you.
Not you.
(Not me?)
There’s just something missing.
From us.
What could I have done?
Nothing. It’s just…
(Who you are.)
I didn’t think we were serious.
(You’re just too…
…sweet.
…soft.
…sensitive.)
I just don’t see us ending up together.
I met someone.
I’m sorry
It’s not you.
Swallow it down.
We’re not on the same page.
We’re not in the same place.
It’s not you.
We can’t help who we fall in love with.
(And who we don’t.)
You’re such a good friend.
You’re going to make the right girl happy.
You deserve better.
Let’s stay friends.
I don’t want to lose you.
It’s not you.
I’m sorry.”
-V. E. Schwab

It was so painful, but so healing at the same time. I have struggled with my mental health for over half my life. To see a character work through thoughts that I have personally had, and to seek a fulfilling life… to show him grow and learn, seek connection… Beautifully done. Truly.

On that note, if you’re struggling with feelings of hopelessness or overwhelm, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I want to hear your story. Also, the people at the Suicide Prevention Hotline are there to help you anytime. 800-273-8255 or chat.

If you want to evoke emotion in your readers and portray mental health in a beautiful, real, and respectful way, I highly recommend The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue.

If you’d like to get a copy, you can check out my affiliate link below.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

I hope this post helps you find some books that can enhance your writing. I would love to hear about books that have made a difference in your writing journey, or if you’re not a writer, books you thought were beautiful and worth mentioning. It’s always good to hear from a reader’s perspective, as sometimes writers get swept up in the mechanics and forget the fun.

I hope you’re taking care of yourself. You’re worth it ❤

Sending love,

MK

9 Tips For Better Instagram Reels

I may earn commission on any links in this post.
See Disclaimers for more details.

Hi there! I hope you’re doing well. Are you taking care of yourself? You should be, because you are worth every ounce of effort.

I have been so surprised by how fun Instagram can be! I joined as a Bookstagrammer only a few months ago (check out my profile here), but I’ve got a decent following, and I’m having a blast.

I really didn’t expect to. I joined mainly to create a social platform, but I have fallen in love with the Bookstagram community and also with the art of photos & videos.

I have learned a lot since I started (sometimes I look through my old posts and cringe a little). One of my favorite things to do is Instagram Reels. Reels are also great for the dreaded algorithm. Insta likes to show off your Reels. I was a little nervous about them at first, but now that I understand them, they’re a breeze!

I thought I’d share a few tricks I use when creating a Reel. Keep in mind, these will be catered mostly to books, but you can apply it to your own content as well.

1 Good lighting is essential, whether for photos or reels. Natural light is best, or white light if you don’t have a nice spot by a window. I have a big empty space on my office floor right in front of a window that I keep clear for Insta photo shoots. Here’s a link to some photo lights if you don’t have any.

Lighting. Photography. Photo Light. Bright.
Photo by Anete Lusina

2 A phone stand has been a life-saver for me. I couldn’t make most of my Reels without one. I see a lot of people making Reels that seem a little shaky. They look fine, but you’re not reading this tutorial for your Reels to be fine. If you need to get one, this one looks good and is a decent price.

Photography. Photo. Picture. Phone. Phone stand.
Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels.com

3 Pick your music first. Now, this is not essential, but I’ve found it fun to make sure I’m on beat when I switch scenes or do a trick. It gives the Reel a more polished feel in the end. You can find music to add by clicking on the music note & searching for a song.

Music. Listening. Beat.
Photo by Moose Photos

4 Edit as you go and preview, preview, preview. Reels can only be so long, so you may run out of time if you’re not trimming as you go. Also, back to 3, you might not be on beat if you aren’t accounting for the snipped ends of each video.

Timeline. Time. Editing.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

5 Transitions are one of the hardest parts of making a Reel. One thing I have learned is to make sure that the scenes you are stitching together line up with each other. For example, one trick I do is to flick the book, and when I pull it back up, it’s a different book! MAGIC! Check out an example here (3rd transition). First, I made sure that I was holding both books with the same hand at close to the same position on the camera. Then, I trimmed the end of the first scene until the book was at its lowest point, then I trimmed the beginning of the other until I found the same position. You should also pick a relatively blurry frame so that the transition isn’t quite as obvious. The goal is to watch one book descend, then another ascend, which you can see between Wicked King and Blood & Honey in the linked video.

Editing. Photography. Videography. Instagram reels.
Photo by Plann on Pexels.com

6 Once you have all your scenes, Preview to double check the transitions and how they line up with your audio. Is every transition clear? Does your audio end on a weird beat? Did you miss a trim?

Thinking. Editing. Video.
Photo by Martin Pu00e9chy on Pexels.com

7 In Preview, click on those 3 line toggles at the top. These are your audio controls. I usually keep my music all the way up, but make sure your Camera Audio is on 0, unless you want your shuffling sounds in the background. If you are talking in your video, ignore this step.

Editing. Sound.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

8 If you want words on screen, you can tap on the scene and type as normal. Want to make them only appear for a certain part of the video? Click on the excerpt block at the bottom left of the screen, then use the trimming toggles on either side of the video to trim to how long you want the words to appear.

Post. Traffic. How to get traffic. Volume. Impressions.
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

9 Posting is pretty final for a Reel. You cannot go back and edit the Reel (just like with your photos), but you also can’t edit the words of your post (unlike with your photos). Triple check your spelling and grammar. make sure you are ready to post this, otherwise you will be deleting your post, which is rarely a good idea. Make sure you have all the hashtags you want on there, you cannot go back and edit them later. Of course, you can comment more if you do miss some. I would actually suggest doing this anyways as I have noticed more traffic when I go back later and add a few fresh hashtags.

Post. Instagram. Photography. Videography. Reels. Traffic. Reach.
Photo by Cristian Dina on Pexels.com

I’m not an expert, and I’m still learning, but I wanted to share this with you so that maybe Reels won’t be quite so scary anymore. Enjoy!

Sending love,

MK

Linux says your Reel is the bomb-diggity.