RunDisney: Prepping for my first half marathon

Around two months ago I made the decision to start training to run a half marathon. My decision was based off of a lot of factors – a wish to be more fit now that sedentary office life is starting to take a toll, and the fact a lot of my friends had decided to start training towards the same goal being the main influences.

To help motivate myself, I chose a race date before starting my training so I had a definitive goal to train for (and couldn’t push anything off!). This initial research into the running world was how I stumbled upon all of the RunDisney races! I decided upon registering for the Disney Princess Half Marathon because Disney Princesses have been such a large part of my life. The participants for this race are mainly other women, and I’m so excited to run with my fellow princesses! I’m also excited to experience Florida in February and hopefully escape the cold of a Delaware winter.

This of course means that I have to plan a Disney vacation around my race day! Originally, I was going to go by myself but my wonderful and supportive family decided to make a trip of it and we are now venturing to the land of magic for five days. The race day is the second to last day of our trip so I’m curious how navigating the exhaustion and diet of an amusement park is going to be with the running goal in mind.

Now going into this training, I was and am by no means an experienced runner. Most of my running experience comes from sports played in high school (which I haven’t played competitively in about 6 years) and short runs in gyms. As I said earlier, I feel that my job has been taking a toll on my fitness because I’m not outside exercising as much as I was in college, so forcing myself to stick to a plan was necessary.

There are two different running plans that I decided upon trying in case anyone else wants to try to follow one themselves! RunnersWorld is for people who can already complete a “long mile” run of 6 miles, which was about my fitness at the start of the run. However, the specific mileage goal each week was hard for me to reach with a busy work in social schedule. For this reason, I’ve switched to using the RunDisney training plan!

The RunDisney plan is a bit more lax than the RunnersWorld with time goals for runs during the week and a distance goal for the weekends. I also like the explanation of run/walk division for long races (I’m a huge fan of my mid-run walks). There are different training plans based on distance and experience level on THIS page if you want to check other options out.

I’m planning on keeping this blog updated on my journey so stay tuned!

Holly Black at the Christiana Mall

As expected for a event featuring the Queen of the Faeries, there was a huge crowd – probably the largest I’ve seen at the Christiana Mall Barnes and Noble. With the event being held on a Sunday (before the holidays no less), people came from all over. I showed up about 20 minutes after the store opened to get my wristband for a place in line (I had bought the book and saved the receipt earlier in the week), and was the last person to get a ticket for the first group!

I ended up camping out in the second row and reading four the next four hours – because lets all be honest, if I had gone home I would have just ended up reading anyways. The night before I had stayed up until 1 AM finishing The Wicked King because I had wanted to wait to read it until closer to Queen of Nothing‘s release date and ended up waiting too long.

The Holly Black book talk and signing was a bit atypical compared to other that I have attended because there was no structured Q/A with a moderator before she dove into crowd questions.

A lot of the crowd questions had to do with writing personal projects – story building and publishing. Some tidbits that stood out to me:

  • If you aren’t in love with your main character, then the story probably isn’t working. Your main character and the stresses they go through is the driving point of a book.
  • A book has multiple plots – the main “contention” (such as a dragon needs to be slayed), and the emotional journey of the character (the king that needs to leave to fight the dragon to win back the heart of his wife, who is in love with his brother etc.) Figuring out how these work together is one of the main building blocks of any book.
  • When looking to publish, research agents on publisher websites and check out the new agents as well as the established ones. New agents are trying to build a name for themselves (and they may be willing to try and do that with your book!) Check out the acknowledgements section of authors books to see if they thank their agent. If they do, that probably means they’re awesome, if not… you may want to avoid.

Some other things discussed during the Q/A: Holly is working on a new darker YA series currently, although of course she would love to return to the Fae world of The Folk of the Air (I personally would love a Grima Mog backstory).

One of Black’s pleasures is watching “trash” reality TV shows. A large part of the inspiration for her book The Coldest Girl in Coldtown came from these shows and how we as humans enjoy watching the angst and suffering of others for entertainment.

When working with Cassandra Clare on their shared book series, Black and Clare would each alternate writing a few hundred words. The person would backtrack and “write over” the last hundred or so words of the last person to write so that the novel could achieve a more uniform voice. Holly would love to collaborate with Clare again if either of them are able to find free time and the right story.

Even after her all of her success, Black still feels “impostor syndrome” when she finds herself in positions like author panels with other well-known colleagues.

I’m so glad to have been given the chance to meet this wonderful author! Now that I have all my books signed, I need to catch up on reading them all. To date, I’ve only read the Folk of the Air trilogy and I need to read all of the backlog so I can understand the character references!

Ilona Andrews Book Signing at the Christiana Mall

On Thursday October 24, I was fortunate enough to be able to see the amazing writing duo Ilona Andrews at my local Barnes and Noble! For most of the signings I’ve gone to I’ve had to drive about two hours away to the Philly area, so I’m super excited that a northern Delaware book store is beginning to draw more big name authors.

For about the first hour, Ilona had to hold the floor by herself because due to flight confusion Gordon was showing up late (if it all). Hearing her tell the story of airport horror was highly amusing – and I’m glad she was able to smile about it because I would probably still be close to tears. Gordon did show up during the last about fifteen minutes of Q&A though so I’m glad he was able to get there for the signing part!

It was interesting hearing them talk about their publishing process as “bigger” authors. A lot of the previous signings I’ve gone to were YA authors, so hearing the perspective of adult romance was very different. Among the many things I learned, I had no idea that authors could pitch certain projects to a specific editor they wanted to work with. The talk about finishing out contracts before working on new projects, hearing how stories had to change or morph from the original shape to better fit a romance audience, and pitching projects to publishers that may never happen was also intriguing. (I would totally read a “pretty dark” YA fantasy series by Ilona Andrews if it ever ends up happening.).

I still haven’t read the Hidden Legacy series yet, which this book appearance was mainly for, so I can’t really relate to some of the questions that were asked regarding those characters. Gordon does apparently love sharing spoilers to fans who ask though.

Overall it was a wonderful night, and I’m looking ahead to many of the other authors coming to the area!

Moving into a Hobonichi Weeks

I’ve had a long and drawn out planner journey, moving from a bullet journal to an A5 rings to a standard TN to a pocket TN. I haven’t been able to find the perfect size for me before. Enter the Hobonichi weeks, which I found thanks to some TN related posts on Instagram. I am absolutely in love!

The Hobonichi was my first foray into Tomoe River paper and I don’t think I can ever go back. The paper is able to handle watercolor like a champ while also remaining thin and super soft. This does mean that it takes a while for most pens – like gen pens – to completely dry which can cause smearing. I’ve been using Sakura Micron pens in my journal for a while and have had no issues yet on this special paper.

I love how the more that you use the paper, the softer and more crinkly it gets, plus it makes the planner thin portable. So many of my issues with previous planners were because they didn’t fit easily in my purse, but I can fit the weeks in my coat pockets!

The weeks isn’t for everyone because of how small it is, there isn’t a lot of room for larger handwriting, but it fits my little letters perfectly. The week on one side and a grid on the other allows for creativity without requiring an hours long set up (which is about how much time I spent during my brief foray into bullet journaling). There are also around 70 pages of grid paper in the back for any lists, notes or long-term tracking throughout the year.

Overall, I think I’ve made my first step towards achieving planner peace. I’ve only been in the Hobonichi Weeks for about half the year, but I can see myself actually sticking with it for years to come! I’ve already purchased and started setting up a weeks for 2020 (a post on that one hopefully coming later).

Why Do You Buy Books? Make Every Copy Count

Why do I buy books? The answer to this question seems obvious. Because I love them! Because books have changed my life and make every day more enjoyable (or stressful depending on the scene). But in this world where it seems each big new release has three different exclusive editions, the rush to catch collect them all can cost a lot of money.

My most recent experience of this was purchasing of three different editions of Kingdom of Ash – Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and Books-A-Million editions (for the ease of reading in the former and exclusive fanart in the latter two). After trying to reorganize my shelves to find some nonexistent space for these stunning books, I questioned why I felt the need collect multiples in the first place?

Recently someone I follow on Instagram shared that they check out library copies of books they own so they don’t crack the spines of their personal copies (something I’ll admit I’ve done in the past as well). Another person confessed to spilling coffee over a stack of books while trying to take a picture. They declared that they were okay with it because it just makes them one of a kind – and they can do what they want with THEIR books!

I’ll admit to being more in the previous category for at least the last three years – coinciding with my start in the bookstagram community – but my lack of shelf space has made me reconsider my “collector” mentality. Going through the stacks of books under my bed, I found multiple extra copies of books. There were two or three editions of some books I haven’t even read!

Looking at these different copies and editions made me wonder: Which copy means more, the one with the pretty cover, or the one where I experienced the story for the first time? The nostalgia of picking up an original copy of a childhood favorite means more to me than owning all the newly released covers. While I treasure my signed copies I know that I will never sell many of them, so does a dent in the cover from toting it around really matter? An inked on signature in a favorite book doesn’t make it more fragile than any others and why do I own it if I’m not going to read it?!

I’ve decided to make a resolution for myself: make every copy count.

No more buying copies of books that aren’t favorites or continue to remain unread on my shelves, especially if the purchase is for aesthetics or having a “reading copy.”

In the end books are ink on pages making shapes that can create worlds. I spend my hard-earned money on them and I can do whatever I want with my purchases! And yes, that can also mean standing on them for pictures and cracking spines to make reading more easy. These things don’t devalue the books in my eyes – they make them well-loved. This doesn’t mean I will stop buying special editions of my special favorites, but hopefully I’ll see a decrease in multiple copies for books I don’t really care about.

While I wrote this post to help me work out my feelings on what books mean to me, everyone has their own feelings on this topic! I hope this post helps you think about what books mean to you! Feel free to drop your own thoughts in the comments.

BookCon 2018 Day 2 Wrap-Up

Day 2:

BookCon Day 2 was a lot less packed than Day 1 (thank goodness!). My friends and I cosplayed as the Star Wars leading ladies. A lot of awesome bookstagramers came to say hello while waiting in line to get in and it was amazing meeting some of them in person. As soon as my friends and I walked onto the show floor, we also ran into V. E. Schwab and took a picture of her. I ended up wandering around in the morning and snagging some free stuff including some cool totes and a 20th anniversary Harry Potter pin.

While wandering, I managed to stumble on a Melissa Albert signing. The Hazel Wood is a book that I’ve been hearing so much about, so I was excited to get a signed copy!

My first official signing of the day was Laini Taylor and she was absolutely amazing. Strange the Dreamer was one of my top books of 2017 and I highly recommend it to anyone who hans’t read it yet! I still have not finished her other series, The Daughter of Smoke and Bone, but the first one was absolutely enchanting!

Kiersten White was my next signing . I’ve been a huge fan since middle school with the Paranormalcy series. I’ve been meaning to read And I Darken for a long time and haven’t gotten around to it. She was so lovely and I was so blessed to finally meet her. Although I wasn’t able to go to Marie Lu’s signing because it was at the same time, my friend was able to get Warcross signed for me, which was another one of my favorite books of 2017!

After finishing up, I once again wandered around and got lucky enough to run into Victoria Schwab signing ARCs of her new book coming out in August, City of Ghosts! I was also able to picked up a signed copy of The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi which is one of the books I’ve been meaning to add to my collection. It was especially awesome because there was not even at BookCon, so I wasn’t expecting there to be signed stock! There was also a great sale on books for the end of the last day, which is where I picked up The Bone Witch.

After two days of lugging books around and shuffling around the show floor, I was ready to face plant. In fact, on the way home I tried to get off the bus at a red light because I was so exhausted I thought it was my stop! (Yes, I will be forever embarrassed by this moment and it is burned into my memory.)

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BookCon 2018 Day 1 Wrap-Up

I was able to meet so many amazing people and authors at BookCon this year! Being able to attend both days was certainly an experience (and quite exhausting/stress inducing).

DAY 1:

I was able to see so many amazing authors this day, in part thanks to the kindness of strangers for giving me an extra autograph signing ticket!

Early in the day, my friends had tickets for Tahereh Mafi signing so I decided to just wander the show floor and stumbled upon an in-booth signing by Ashley Poston. I haven’t read Geekerella yet although I’ve heard amazing things about it, so I’m super excited to have a signed copy of my own now.

I was also able to meet and get all my Renée Ahdieh books signed. She was such a lovely person and I’m glad that I was able to get both her series signed completely! They had the newest book in her Flame in the Mist series out a few days early for those that attended her signing to purchase. I will admit that I still haven’t finished any of her books, but I’m halfway through The Wrath and the Dawn right now and am absolutely LOVING it!

The extra ticket that a stranger gave to me was a joint signing for two authors that are fairly new and that have been on my reading list for a while now, S. A. Chakraborty and R. F. Kuang. Chakraborty has a book that I started a while ago and put down, The City of Brass (even though I love it, you know by now I get super distracted by new and shiny books). It’s a fantasy based on Islamic mythology inspired by 18th century Egypt and written by an own-voices Muslim author! R. F. Kuang just recently released her first book, The Poppy War, which is getting such rave reviews right now. I’ve heard that it is pretty dark and includes some darker themes (parts were inspired by the Nanking masacre) but I’m excited to dive into this world too!

Victoria Schwab (V. E. Schwab) was signing copies of the rerelease of one of my favorite books, Viciousand I was one of the lucky few able to get at ticket for her signing line! They were also giving out tote bags to those in line that are also available as a preorder incentive for Vengeful, so now I have the set! I also brought This Savage Song to get signed, which is one that I haven’t had the pleasure to read yet but is definitely high on my list. Saturday I cosplayed as a gender bent Victor Vale (a character from Vicious) and my two friends went as Kell and Lila!

To cap off the amazing craziness of day 1, I was able to meet Brandon Sanderson! He signed my copies of The Way of Kings and my 10th anniversary UK edition of The Final Empire. One of my most shameful admissions is that I still have not finished a Sanderson book. This is another case of being distracted by new and shiny releases. I’ve previously gotten halfway through his YA book, Steelheart, and halfway through The Final Empire and I love his writing style!

My Saturday was absolutely jam-packed so after the exhaustion of running around like a mad woman I was looking forward to Sunday, which was planned to be a little more laid-back.

Check back tomorrow for my Day 2 wrap-up!