Category Archives: Nonfiction

An Unashamed Tortoise: Why ‘Slow’ Doesn’t Equal Failure

I am pretty sure I haven’t mentioned this in recent posts, but I am attempting NaNoWriMo this month. For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Each November a huge group of writers and hopeful-writers gather and rather crazily attempt to write 50,000 word novels in that month, or roughly 1,667 words a day. Despite being swamped as always, I wanted to tackle this this month. I planned to use this to finish my already in-progress novel.

Rewind to yesterday afternoon and picture me, staring at a blank Scrivener doc, feeling utterly useless. Why won’t the words come out? Why can’t I write a thousand words easily like ‘everyone else’? How will I ever be an author if I can’t write as fast I should? I stink.

At about 6 o’clock last night, after spending precious hours agonizing over the few hundred words I managed to write, I tweeted something along the lines of:
“This is ridiculous. I’m sorry, but I just can’t write this many words in a day. I don’t think I can do NaNo.”

In response, I got about 5 people telling me to keep trying, to let go of my Inner Editor, all that sort of stuff. The people who told me this stuff meant it in a great and encouraging way, and they’re lovely for helping me that way. But it seemed to drive a wedge between me and seemingly the rest of the writing world. On one side is me, clinging to my triple digit word counts, and on the other is all of the others, the ones who succeed, the ones who can sometimes write 12,000 freaking words in a day. It’s pretty hard not to feel like a failure thinking of someone writing thousands of words a day while you’re still struggling.

But after quite a bit of introspection, I discovered what I knew all along. I’m not like that. I can’t write 1,667 words a day. I can’t write 1,000 words in a day, either, unless I’m feeling particularly inspired. And why should I be expected to? Why does this feel wrong, my inability to write thousands of words on whim? It’s just me.

Part of the reason I love to write so much is because I believe communication is beautiful. That it’s one of the greatest gifts we have as humanity, and writing allows me to speak to people without ever meeting them or actually saying a word. I am like this in person, too. Words are so, so powerful, so I take extra care to make sure the ones I write and the ones I say are empowering. This means, sometimes, that I am slow to speak. It also means that I can’t sit down and write randomly. I can’t write the first words that pop into my head, I have to think them through. Call that my Inner Editor if you’d like, but I call it me. It’s just who I am, someone who contemplates things.

People who can write thousands of words in a day are amazing, and in no way do I mean that they aren’t as good as me. Oh gosh, no. I hope you don’t get that idea.  I admire those people from the bottom of my heart. Their devotion to their stories is unbelievable, and their energy is contagious.

But I thought it would be nice to write a post about the other people, the ones who agonize over every word and come out immensely proud of that paragraph or even page. Remember that race between the super slow tortoise and the sprinting hare? The tortoise won. Why? Because the hare (NaNo-er)  got tired and had to take a nap (really long revisions) while the tortoise continued slowly walking by (with his measly word counts but very limited revisions) and won. But ‘winning’ isn’t really the point here. Both finish eventually, because each are totally legitamate ‘competitors’. To me, finishing in a month isn’t as important as finishing with a good product.

I’m still registered with NaNo, but I’m shrugging off the pressure. My daily goal is now 833 words a day, half of the NaNo goal, which is good for me. And I won’t let anyone tell me otherwise. We *technically* aren’t supposed to worry about word counts, anyway.

So there you have it, all. Remember that slow writing is never unequal to fast writing. Just write, okay? We shouldn’t really care that some people write slower than others. That’s all.

Love and writing luck to everyone!


“After that, Hare always reminded himself, “Don’t brag about your lightning pace, for Slow and Steady won the race!”

~Aesop’s Fables, The Tortoise and the Hare

**EDIT: Thanks SO much to WordPress for making this a Featured Post, and to everyone finding my blog through that. I am appreciative of every single one of you- thank you for the encouragement, the stories, the NaNo discussion, everything! You make this even more joyful than it usually is. It’s a beautiful thing, when I write something I’m passionate about and people feel better about themselves after reading! I’m trying to respond to every comment, so keep ’em coming! 😉 Much love to all of you, Olivia.**


Filed under Nonfiction, writing

Travel Books

I’m back, everyone! I have been painfully busy and haven’t finished a book until now (even though I haven’t *technically* finished this book), I think it’s about time I post SOMETHING. Hopefully November will be a bit less crazy for me (not likely) and I can get back to my usual reading and writing schedule. I’ve missed you all so very much and I’m happy to be back!

Okay, so here’s the thing. I can’t exactly write a traditional Olivia review on this book. Why? Because, as stated above, I haven’t finished. I’ve tried and tried and spent TWO WEEKS on this sucker, but I just can’t bring myself to finish it. So instead of going the traditional route, I’m going to write a bit about the book, where this was lacking, and what I look for in travel books in general.

I love travel books, I really do! (see ‘I Went to France for Bastille Day’) I saw this in the library, and without looking too hard at it, I just got it. I hardly ever get books on a whim like that, but I figured it couldn’t be too bad!


Let’s just talk about the title. It’s eye catching because no one who looks at it has any clue whatsoever what it means! I got a million questions about this book while reading, most of which I fended off with “It’s a travel book about a guy who uses a really old travel guide to go through Europe.” He uses an old book published in the 60’s called ‘Europe on 5 Dollars a Day.” This book is almost like a collection of short stories, one from each city he visited. He set out on this trip to get out of the monotony of his life, find love (okay…), and see all of the worlds most special European landmarks, purposefully looking for the touristy stuff.

At first, it was great. What a great concept, a quick-and-dirty of Europe’s most traveled cities! But the problem is that the narrator is completely unlikable. He is whiny, annoying, and a total armchair traveler. Part of the way through his trip he’s joined by his friend Lee, who is more of an adventurous spirit. Lee drags Doug into crazy situations that aren’t really that crazy, but at least makes the book a *wee* bit more interesting. I got to the chapter where Lee was supposed to leave, and there I couldn’t take it anymore. The thought of Lee leaving, Lee who brought all of the life to the book despite being more obnoxious than Doug, was enough to bring me to finally put the book down.

Heavens, y’all, don’t bother picking this one up. It brought a bit more realism to the overly-glorified picture of cities you get from guide books, but pushed it way too far with exaggerated cynicism.

What I’m looking for next, after I get a nice break with some beloved YA (I finished an ARC of Dualed on Sunday and now I’m reading the sequel to Princess Academy), is a book like this one in concept, but more likeable. A kind, softer, less obnoxious narrator who spends a little more time on the places themselves and less on the old German guys in laderhosen that were very entertaining to watch. (I mean, seriously.)

When I go to YALLFest in Charleston in a few weeks, I’m planning on doing something like this, actually. Except in the form of a vlog. Hopefully I’ll take video clips from my trip and different parts of Charleston and seal them all together with some nice voice over information. I don’t claim to be an expert, but most people have never been to this beautiful city, and I think it would be really cool to watch! Just tossing the idea around, please let me know in the comments if you have suggestions and stuff. I’m thinking about focusing on three main aspects: food, history, and architechture.

Have a lovely week, all! 🙂


P.S. if you were worried about me with Hurricane Sandy, rest assured- I’m fine! Most of North Carolina is just getting blustery cold weather! I can’t say the same for most people up North, however. Millions are still without power, and the confirmed death count is now at 30. Please consider donating to the Red Cross to provide relief to the victims! Thank you. (donate here)


Filed under Nonfiction

If you liked….

I’m sure there are many posts like this out there already. Heck, this is basically exactly what Goodreads does. Sometimes, though, I have issues with Goodreads’ recommendations. As a whole, I LOVE Goodreads. But when you read as many books as I do, it’s hard to trust their recommendations. It’s hard to explain, but some books I like/don’t like are grouped into genres that I wouldn’t normally put them into and thus change what is recommended for me. Example: why exactly is The Tales of Peter Rabbit being recommended for me as a Young Adult book?

Anyway, I could have used a post like this a few months ago. I still could. So without further ado… “If you liked___, you might like___!” I’ll be using a lot of my favorite books, because frankly, they’re great!

If you liked

You might like…


If you liked…

You might like….


If you liked…

You might like…


If you liked…

You might like…

If you liked…

You might like….


And that’s all, folks! I hope this post was a little helpful to you! It’s kind of like my entire blog, condensed into one post. All of the books above are my favorites, and absolute must-reads for everyone!




Filed under Classic, Fiction, Modern Fiction, Nonfiction

I went to France for Bastille Day!

I went to France for Bastille Day!


First, I went to breakfast at the patisserie on the corner near my hotel. I ate warm sugary French things that I don’t know the names for. They were delicious. After breakfast, I walked along the Seine river until I got the Eiffel Tower. I took the elevator all the way 1063 feet into the air and saw the city like a bird does. I ate lunch at the Cafe Constant, staring right at the Eiffel Tower through my meal. I rented a bike and rode to the Champs-Elysees (chahnz-eleezay), and window shopped for hours. I stood under the Arc de Triomphe and thought about Napoleon and his adorable shortness. And then, after dinner, I took a taxi to to Bastille, where I stood next to what is left of it, and remembered the things that had happened there 223 years ago.

OK, so that is a little bit of an exaggeration.

I didn’t really go to to Paris today. Well, not physically. Consider this a sort of advertisement for my latest book-obsession. As if I needed another. 😉

Travel guides.

Those who follow me on Twitter might remember me Tweeting a few days ago about reading Fodor’s 2012 guide to Paris. And I definitely am! Cover to cover, even the page numbers!

Do y’all remember my latest awards post, when I told you I’m travel-crazy? Well, it’s true. Except I’ve never even been out of the country. You may have also noticed I’m hungry for information. I actually LIKE school. I learn all I possibly can. And when I read Time Between Us, and I heard the main character taking comfort from reading travel guides, I decided to try it myself. So when I went to the library, I picked up Fodor’s guide to Paris 2012 and Rick Steve’s Rome, 2011. It was all I could do not to take them all.

Travel guides are full of extremely useful information, especially if you are actually traveling. But if you are like me, and you desperately wish you could be in France this instant, they are amazing. Reading a travel guide is like actually going to Paris, or Rome, or Barcelona. Fiction books do this too, but sometimes they don’t take me to the real world places I wish they could, like Italy. Travel guides do this. Almost everything you read in that top paragraph, I learned from this book. How to dress like a Parisian, where to eat, what kind of foods they have, where to go, and how to get there. All about the local culture. And everything else you could possibly be curious about when it comes to Paris.

I hope you don’t think it sounds pathetic to read a travel guide. It really isn’t. You might get questions from strangers, but if you want to travel to a foreign country and be back in time for dinner, this is the way to go.

I highly recommend Fodor’s as a travel guide. His books are full of colorful pictures, maps, and helpful tips. Rick Steve’s are in black and white, which is much less amazing.

I hope you pick up a travel guide (or two, or three, or….) and travel somewhere. I really do.

Happy Bastille Day!



Filed under Nonfiction

Library Awesomeness Haul- No. 5

I know it is pretty soon after my last library haul, but let’s face it. I read fast! I have a small-ish batch of piping hot books for you guys today! Dig in. 😉

I’ve heard a lot of great things about this book! The end of the blurb in the front cover reads:

…”In this epic new series, Anna Carey imagines a perfect future that is both beautiful and terrifying. Readers will revel in Eve’s timeless story of forbidden love and extraordinary adventure.”

I read a little bit of non-fiction come summertime. I like to learn, and my way of doing that without school is reading some non-fiction! The weird thing is, my mom had been planning to buy this book on her Kindle, and I ordered it because I wanted to read it as well! Crazy, right? Well, I’m letting her read it first. I have plenty of others to read!

Goodreads recommended this one for me. We’ll see!

The concept of this book is good! And I have been looking for fictional books about dealing with grief, so this was right! If you have any suggestions for fictional grief-related books, please comment! I would love some more ideas!

I have read a lot of classics, but not this one! And since I finished Illuminate a few days ago (Illuminate is extremely similar to this book, it seems) I decided I would check it out! I wasn’t intending to check it out, actually, but I had it in the back of my mind while at the library. While I was helping my little brother find books, I spotted my library’s classic section (which I had not known about until now). It took all of my self-restraint not to go crazy and get them all! So many that I want to read were there, but I settled for just this one!

I’ll try to review Illuminate before the weekend is over, I have a very busy week coming up! I’m a few pages into The Peach Keeper right now, and a little unimpressed. But with Sarah Addison Allen’s previous books in mind, that will probably change! 🙂


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Filed under Classic, Fiction, Modern Fiction, Nonfiction, Romance

Library Awesomeness Haul- No. 4

I picked up some books from the library last Saturday. I wasn’t actually going to post this, but I haven’t read that much in the past few days 😦 so I don’t have a book review for you! This one is only a few books, but it’s better than nothing, right?

As you guys have probably noticed, I’ve been more into writing lately. I have been picking up a few from the library each time I go, for a little professional help. There is no perfect ‘how to write’ book. But hopefully this book has some little gems in it. It looks like it was meant for little kids, but hey, you never know!

Another writing book, focused on making the first five pages of your novel great! Seems very useful, and this one isn’t tough to find like Spilling Ink!

I read a sample of this on my Kindle! It totally got me hooked, and I couldn’t wait to read it! My Goodreads says I am reading it right now, but that isn’t really true. I’m about to start it, I promise!

I found this book on Goodreads and added it without looking to much into it. (shame on me, shame, shame) The idea seems good on the surface, but it is one of those hit-or-misses if you ask me! Wings and fairies and all things supernatural are tough to get right. I really want to enjoy it, but you can be sure I’ll tell you about it!

Lastly is a book I have been waiting quite a while to read. If you remember a few weeks back, I read (and TOTALLY loved) two of Sarah Addison Allen’s other books: Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen. This is one of her most popular novels, so I can’t wait to read it!

That is all for this time guys! I’ll be back soon with a book review of one of these!


P.S. has anyone seen Dark Shadows? I was going to see it, but it seems to be getting very rough reviews. I would like opinions please! My mind is still open!


Filed under Classic, Fiction, Modern Fiction, Nonfiction, Romance

Library Awesomeness Haul- No. 3

Ohhh yeah that’s right! I’m back for the 3rd time with a boatload of books that I’m tickled to share with everyone! This might just be my favorite batch yet!

I hate this cover compared to the others! But I am so excited to read this book! And see the movie afterwards of course 🙂 But it has that OMG- Olivia- this- book- was- made- for- you vibe to it! Reading this one first! Although, I’ll have to put it on hold tomorrow when Insurgent arrives on my Kindle!! (EEEEKKK!)

Also similar to The Princess Bride, and a quick glance through this had me hooked! I loved Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Graveyard Book’ but haven’t read anything else by him.

The sequel to Wither. Maybe she can sell me on this one, it seems like it improves from book to book. (now I’m wondering what the title of the 3rd one will be… can’t think of anything that ends in -er…)

Got this one on a whim. Maybe it will be good! But all of the highly- anticipated others come first! 🙂

I got the first 5 chapters of this for free on my Kindle, and I am HOOKED! I am so glad I have it now, I’ll be rushing to finish the others just to get to this. And have you ever SEEN a cooler cover?!

Yes, I know, another retelling. Of the 12 Dancing Princesses no less. What can I say, though? And I also think this one has a beautiful cover. It is a healthy size, but I’m not intimidated.

Anyone else find it hilarious that her last name is PROSE?! Oh, I crack myself up.


Well, there you have it! Possibly the greatest selection of library books OF ALL TIME. Or not. But I’ll love them anyway!

Talk to you guys more later! As you can probably tell, there will be maaannnyy reviews coming up! I’ll try to get one of Insurgent up ASAP!

Read until your eyes hurt! Then read more…




Filed under Classic, Fiction, Modern Fiction, Nonfiction, Romance