the fandoms of lisa: nirvana in fire

June 10, 2020

GREETINGS ppl. the 2020 spring season seems to have been the season of Finding Really Good Fandoms for me, so I had an IDEA #lisastrikesagain

what if I wrote posts about all of them, talking about what makes them so special?? so here we are, with post no. 01. Nirvana in Fire.

art by nuri who does the most incredible fanart for this series, feast your eyes right here

let me start this by telling you a story.

my cousin, gabs, whom you may or may not remember as guest posting for me at one time, is also a literature/film loving fangirl, who started telling about this "new fandom" of hers in mid-May. my attitude towards it was mostly like, "uh huh, uh huh ..." because it was a Chinese tv show, and it's not as if I would understand it even if I wanted to see it. but, surprise surprise, it happened to be based of a Chinese webnovel, which happens to have a partly completed English translation. (the translation is still ongoing, actually.)

then I agreed to read it too, completely unawares of what I was going to get myself into. I thought, "oh might as well check it out." hahaha. there was no "checking out". there was only GETTING ADDICTED TO THE BOOK.

there are 116 translated chapters available right now (out of the total 174 chapters) and I read through them all in ten days, sending updates to my cousin every day. here are a few of the more significant updates below.

and now that I have finished those 116 chapters and am waiting for 58 more, I have decided to use my time to convince all of you to read the webnovel as well!! (smol disclaimer: I've only read 2/3 of the book, so I really haven't even hit the climax, nor do I know how it ends.)

let's begin with introductions ... 

"Nirvana in Fire tells the story of Mei Changsu, who stirs the political pot in Jinling, with an ultimate goal to bring justice to his family and 70,000 Chiyan soldiers who were labeled traitors twelve years before."

^^ thank you wikipedia

this summary sounds extremely boring, but the book isn't, trust me pls!!

it's said to be a Count of Monte Cristo style story. I have only watched the movie of The Count of Monte Cristo, and if that's an accurate representation in any way, then I think Nirvana in Fire is on another level of its own. plus it's much less of a personal revenge plot, and more of a "let's bring justice" plot.

you might be asking why the title is Nirvana in Fire. long story. the chinese name written in english is Langya Bang (meaning Langya List) but that really wouldn't make sense to english speakers, hence the translation to Nirvana in Fire. which, again, doesn't make much more sense. however, it's connected to the legend of the phoenix that takes on human suffering, burns, and rises from the ashes (and if you read the book and know the legend and think carefully it's actually pretty symbolic wow). there's hidden reference in the title. but I cannot explain it because #spoilers.

moving on!! I have written a nice long post with 5 reasons that you should read this webnovel ... read on, if you dare ...

reasons to read nirvana in fire

1. you get a trip to ancient china

I realize that this might not really work as an appeal for everyone. people who are chinese/are connected to their chinese roots might actually be really familiar with stories set in china's past, and complete westerners might not know enough to care at all. for me, it was extremely appealing because I have chinese roots but am really disconnected from them. however, I know enough to be interested. and so, this chance to delve into chinese history is such a welcome experience.

I also really feel like my book/film diet is so western based that I am craving for something new. I don't know if you feel the same way, but so much of YA is based in America ... and if not set in America, then it's WRITTEN by an American ... and while that's just great ... we do want some variety. I'm always jumping up for books set in other countries and this book is not only set in China, it's set in the 6th century, AND it's written by a Chinese author originally in the Chinese language! YAY!

how this affected the reading experience ...

  • all the chinese names I had to remember !!
  • learning about chinese culture and traditions and values
  • learning about the lifestyle of ancient china and about how the government system worked
  • people bow all the time
  • they also refer to themselves and each other in third person a lot XD
  • really, the culture is in every action they do and every word they speak
  • martial arts! and some *legendary* aspects
in the area of martial arts there's a touch of fantasy to the story and it's great. you know how in kung fu panda, Po and his friends can do incredible leaps, run over rooftops, and pretty much fly? yeah, the characters in here can do it too.

2. the characters are so deep and so precious

this is actually the biggest selling point of all! pardon me for putting it second! the characters are INCREDIBLE. 

so. where to begin describing this? starting out reading a Chinese book for the first time I was at a loss for what to expect but I quickly realized several things. these archetypes we often find in our own literature (broody boy, comic relief, the strong female, etc.) exist here as well, yet never ever becomes the cliches that we roll our eyes at in YA. who knows if it's cliche for chinese stories? but for me - western to the bone - this was familiar yet different. refreshingly so.

that aside, these characters are deep. they are so real that I constantly found myself believing that this was actually a true story that once happened in history. they are round and dynamic and layer upon layer upon layer. and the thing is ... it's told in third person limited omniscient point of view which makes it mysterious and intriguing. you start out not knowing much about the characters at all. and as it goes you get to know them better and better and better and better and there's literally no end to that. deep characters, I said, and I meant it. and not deep in an ordinary way ... deep in the way that the book literally digs into each of them and sort of keeps unearthing parts of their personalities/character to us as we go along.

but furthermore, their relationships!! if you feel like you need an epic saga without a major focus being on romance, you've come to the right place. there are so many different relationships with so many complex layers, and I want to cry over them all the time. and laugh. for example ... two princes who are bitter enemies but must masquerade under the masks of politeness and are almost mirror images of each other because they cannot bear to be outdone by the other. a character helping his childhood best friend without said friend having a clue. one character being absolutely hilarious and legendary even though he doesn't even get any screen time (and I've been waiting for 116 chapters for him to appear and he hasn't -_-). a fierce warrior child stroking his master/caretaker to sleep. askfjaldka. many forms of enmity. many forms of love. BROTHERHOOD. 

the characters ... they're funny. they're ironic. they're deep. they're real. they're so precious. and the cast is, may I warn you, HUGE. I have never never seen such an enormous and yet well developed cast in my existence. just for fun, let me talk about my favorites for a second here ...

Mei Changsu. 29. leader of the largest martial artists alliance in the empire. cunning. calm. suffers from a chronic and deadly illness, and is therefore weak and sickly. tortured soul. buries his emotions deep in the depths of his heart (but I see them, sir). main character. my favorite. absolutely brilliant. layer upon layer upon layer. a mystery. a prodigy. a strategist.

Feiliu. teenager. not the sharpest mentally due to a head injury. highly skilled martial artists who wows everyone he meets. very serious and aggressive. will protect Mei Changsu with his life. the sweetest child of the 6th century. 

Prince Jing. the strong and silent type. grumpy. underappreciated. forgotten. unfairly treated. not cared for by his father or brothers. made to do difficult tasks without rewards. scarred by the deaths of his older brother and best friend in said old rebellion. will do what is right, regardless of consequences. actually a squishy baby.

Xiao Jingrui. Son of two families due to complications and strange happenings when he was born. the loyalest friend you could ever ask for. heart of gold. constantly worried over Mei Changsu. is actually a good fighter and very smart and strong, but is so good that you mostly forget about that.

Yan Yujin. best friend of Jingrui. comic relief. likes to tease. enthusiastic drama lover. if there's an exciting event, he'll be there. likes having fun, is rarely serious. is actually a good fighter. thinks he's the handsomest fellow on the face of the planet. carefree attitude masks a deep intelligence. poor neglected child.

Princess Nihuang. not actually a princess, more like a duchess, but is always called a princess in the translations. took over her army general father's position at age 17 and has been a warrior defending the southern border for ten years. is supposed to get married soon. extremely intuitive. 

General Meng. best martial artist in the entire empire. general. in charge of protecting the emperor and the palace and the capital. is extremely loyal and good but terrible at lying and not the smartest at figuring out complicated plots. underrated but deserves all the love.

^^ was this an excuse for me to fangirl about them? yes it was.

3. the plot is epic and twisty and full of schemes

THIS BOOK, you guys. THE PLOT. it brings an entirely new dimension to the phrase "character driven plot". in the majority of books, characters are always trying to deal with the problems that the plot throws at them, but here? oh no. it's the main character who's behind both PLOT and PROBLEMS. engineering it quietly from the shadows. (of course some unexpected circumstantial things happen but really ... my sister whom I'm reading the book to now said, "I have been shocked so many times that I have stopped underestimating anyone.") there are so many threads and directions, and yet they are all woven together so well and everything is connected!!

this book is plot twist upon plot twist upon plot twist ... and then you go reread and it realize every plot twist was foreshadowed early early on. this book is the most cunning, scheme filled treasure trove I have every stumbled upon. the only thing that I can compare in terms of "schemes" to this is the cruel prince ... and yet, not even the cruel prince can come close to how ridiculously clever this one is.

there's so much irony, I cannot. it's my favorite literary device and there's so much of it in here. and also also, this book is very slow burn in every aspect, but I WAS NOT BORED FOR ONE SECOND. furthermore, it has a strong theme of loyalty and justice. it takes the *let's get rid of the tyrant* plotline to a whole new level. whereas a lot of books will take you through the overturning the Evil Ruler storyline, this book also tackles the idea of purging the corrupt and dirty system. 

oh but the conflict in the poor complex characters, ahhh ...

4. there all all these delicious little details and things !!

this is my favorite part of my fangirl post - where I will dump all my happy thoughts at you. I covered setting, characters, and plot above but that doesn't even begin to describe it for you so here is a bullet list of smol reasons you should give it a go ...

  • the FORESHADOWING. the first time I read the book I missed all of it because I had no idea what I was reading, but now that I'm rereading it I'm gasping in shock all the time and in awe over how clues were hiding in plain sight!!
  • also the VILLAINS. they're actually really complex, and even sympathetic. they're also hiding in plain sight?? and there's no one bad guy. it's this complex mess where there are a lot of bad people, and bad people with good sides, and good people with bad sides. make sense?
  • the CUTE CHILL CHAPTERS. so a lot of books are so focused on the exciting plot that they subject ever scene to #stress and forget to give the poor characters and the poor audience a break. so while Nirvana in Fire is very very focused on the story line and while everything is WRITTEN FOR A PURPOSE, there are all these scenes and chapters where we just get to chill and watch the characters be adorable!!
  • the NARRATION. it's really quite witty and sassy at times!! AHH!!
  • I feel like there are a lot of references and word plays in the Chinese but sadly we will miss all of them :''((
  • this book is a paradox - slowburn, yet exciting - thrilling, but comfortable - heavy, and still so funny.
  • the FLASHBACKS and BACKSTORY. I think I've never read such realistic feeling backstory ... I just NEED MORE OF IT and would give anything for a prequel novella (and I really dislike prequels in general).
  • all the EMOTIONS. especially on reread. when you understand the foreshadowing and the flashbacks.
  • the really really well written FEMALE CHARACTERS. you'd think that with it being set in the 6th century, they wouldn't get much of a role but oh no. we've got a warrior princess, a cunning spy, a ruthless investigator, and some really really clever and conniving royal ladies. 
  • there's so much MYSTERY and INTRIGUE. what's going to happen? what's so and so up to? who's the culprit behind this incident? what will they do about it? how does it connect to everything else??
  • politics. murder. martial arts tournaments. buried secrets. hidden identities. court drama. assassins. traitors. a fight for the crown. some friendships forged, some broken, and some still standing after going through hell. annoying the enemies with wit. revenge plots but not really revenge plots - more like a quest for justice. the mystery of a years old massacre ... 

5. there's a tv series to go with it

you know when you read a really good book and you wish so hard that it was a movie? WELL THAT'S HOW I FELT READING THIS. and good news. there IS a tv show to go with it! of course, it's all in Chinese, but there are English subtitles and it's totally worth it. 

the show is good because it is long (52 episodes) but still a very condensed version of the book. watching the drama really really helps one visualize the setting and characters and customs!! because honestly ... ancient China can be hard to imagine if you haven't seen if before. 

things you will like seeing ...

  • the emotions written on the characters faces
  • seeing the epic martial arts in action
  • characters side eying each other at Important Times
  • the clothing! 
  • all the bowing!!
  • the really sad theme songs :'(
  • the tv show also really helps the Complicated Plot make more sense because it actually does some explaining that the book did not
  • China is actually really beautiful
  • the cute characters in the flesh 
The show is very faithful to the book (although not as long winded - and it does eliminate some of the less necessary characters) AND IT IS SUCH FUN TO WATCH. 

the pros of reading first would be that ... well I think the book is better, and you'll really understand the show very well if you read first.

however, watching first also has it's good sides ... the book will make so much sense if you watch first, and YOU'LL APPRECIATE ALL THE EXTRA SCENES AND FORESHADOWING IN THE NOVEL.

last but certainly not least, IT'S ALL FREE AND AVAILABLE.

well, except for the fact that the translation is only 2/3 way complete ... but the translation is available free online, and so is the tv show! if you're bored for any reason or need a new fandom that doesn't cost money or trips to the library THIS IS YOUR CHANCE.

behold, the links ... 

I hope you all have been sufficiently convinced. and at least, if you weren't, that you enjoyed reading my fan post review XDD and I hope you liked my aesthetics ;))

what fandoms have you been obsessed with lately?
pls let me know if you do read/watch this story! I need more people to fangirl with XDD

xx lisa


how we rise

May 27, 2020

welcome to the next stop on the How We Rise book tour!!

I've been waiting for this day for ages! one of my best friends, Brooke, is releasing her first novel - and not only am I excited because I know her, but because the book is really really good :)) I've known Brooke for nearly three years (my word, so long already?) and I beta read some early chapters of this, saw how the cover design progressed, and practically enneagram typed all her characters (although, she did confirm everything through tests XDD). I am so proud of her and cannot wait to share her novel with all of youuuuu !!

How We Rise
by Brooke Riley

When the truth gets you killed… will you still Rise? 

Raegan MacArthur is content with her simple life. But lately, her life hasn’t been all that simple. She can’t drown out the screams in the night coming from the military base up the road. And she can’t ignore the truth behind them. 

Peter Daniels thought moving back to Texas with his mom for senior year was a good thing. A chance to reconnect with old friends and finally feel at home again. But his life now can never be the same as it was six years ago. 

Signs of government overreach are everywhere, and an unknown- yet familiar- enemy lurks in the shadows, watching their every move. The government is clamping down tighter and tighter on anyone who resists their ways. Raegan and Peter have to make the hardest decision they've ever faced: will they go quietly to save their lives… or will they rise?  

disclaimer: this book was written by one of my best friends and I might be slightly biased. I read it more critically than I would a book by a stranger, and I also enjoyed myself far too much (almost feeling as if these characters were my own) so my review isn't impartial.

- the review -

part i. the characters.

It's been quite a while since I've seen a supporting case as strong as the one in How We Rise. the protagonists, Raegan and Peter, are certainly characters who deserve love and support and all the hugs, but for me, the true shining stars were the side characters. there's something about their quirks, and emphasized traits, and humor that calls to me. they actually remind me - slightly - of the side characters in K. A. Emmons's trilogy. they're colorful; they're sympathetic; they're round. (almost too sympathetic, if you ask me; I certainly was too fond of someone I shouldn't have been fond of.)

anyone who doesn't ship Peter and Raegan is blind to the obvious truth - the two were meant to be together. and I don't mean this in a story-line sense. I mean that the author obviously wants us to ship them, and wrote them like that. whatever she plans to do with the ship, heaven knows. but what does she want us to do with them - SHIP THEM, OF COURSE. and I do. who can't? (if you don't I know some people who'll fight you.) but whatever the standing of their feelings, these two are awfully lovable individually, and I'm sure you'll be cheering them on their adventures too.

part ii. the plot.

I was extremely invested. to be fair, it wasn't as fast paced as I would expect a dystopian to be, but then, that's where the contemporary vibe comes in. see, this book is dystopian in its storyline and the current set up of the world - but it's a contemporary in the sense that its set in a contemporary time where the technology and the make up of society is very similar to what we currently have. nevertheless, I was quite hooked. there was this delicious mystery element that kept me on my toes, trying to guess the identity of a certain someone - and that also that kept the characters busy trying to sort things out.

there was definitely a predominant mood of danger and doom in this book - something I appreciate. it /felt/ like a solid dystopian in this sense. and I liked how I could kinda see where the plot was going, but not really - it made sense to me and yet surprised me all at the same time. I'd also like to say that I have the brain of a five year old when it comes to comprehending strange and complicated political intrigues and plots - but I understood everything going on in here. the author did a great job explaining things simply yet soundly.

part iii. world building.

I've already touched upon this a little, but I like how I got a sense of what was happening all over the country instead of just this little corner of the world that the character's inhabit. I do still have some unanswered questions on the "how" part of some past events that happened in this dystopian world, but other than that, the author did a wonderful job laying out the land and showing us what was going on. I also really appreciated her descriptions - concise yet precise.

part iv. somethings you should look forward to reading in the book

- friends who obviously should be lovers but keep denying it
- very complex troubled conflicted bois
- someone cocky, someone broody, someone sunny, someone vicious.
- hinted-at-ships that could go any direction but I'm here cheering for them
- an evil president
- a very very scary sort of school
- a very very interesting/exciting rebel institute
- R E L A T I O N S H I P S
- a very dark mood
- kidnapping
- shooting
- some punching and running
- some scheming
- blackmail
- a very neatly and beautifully woven in theme that's apparent but doesn't slap you in the face with its apparent-ness
- some happiness, some sadness, a lot of in the between of the two
- the audience [you and me] screaming over a lot of things

part v. thoughts summed up

I'm so proud of Brooke. YOU SHOULD READ HER BOOK. it's really lovely. it's quite exciting. it's quite BrUtAL, too. 4.5 stars/5 stars (rounded to 5 for the goodreads rating). I think you'll enjoy it. and I for one can't wait for book 2.

recommended for everyone, especially those who love books full of amazing relationships, a touch of futuristic, and a struggle against tyrants.

// read more here about the characters 
// read more here if you need more convincing

have you read this book yet, or do you want to?
what's your favorite dystopian novel to date?
if you lived in a dystopia, would you rise?

peace out, lisa



May 24, 2020

hey guys, last week I participated in an even called Crazy Writing Week, and though y'all would enjoy hearing about it ... XD

tuesday, may 12. 

when I opened my inbox in the morning I saw I had an email from Brett Harris (I'm subscribed to him) so I skimmed over it. it said something about a "crazy writing challenge" that lasted for week and was totally free.

nice, thanks, I'll think about it, I thought, which was another way of saying, I would forget about it within the next five minutes.

I moved on with the emails and saw one from Kellyn Roth about the same subject, so I took a moment longer to read it. I clicked the link just to see what was going on and the website said,

  • it was free
  • you'd be working in teams, competing against others (!!)
  • and there would be prizes
(although I completely didn't see the prizes part at the time)

they had me at TEAMS COMPETING. I've done Nanowrimo and competed against a word count but never against someone else, and since I'm a rather competitive person, I was sold, and immediately signed up ON PURE WHIM.

did I regret it two minutes later? 

yes I did. I am so busy, what Do I thINk I aM DoINg?

then I remembered some of the things I am busy doing are writing related and would count for the challege, so I didn't regret my desicion for long. 

other things that occured ...

  • some people were doing a 13 sentence story challenge but I skipped it because
  • it looked difficult
  • and I was busy
  • met some old friends and some new people and fangirled about Narnia
  • somehow convinced Snapper to join

wednesday, may 13. 

when I signed up I was expecting multiple groups of 10 to 15 people, NOT two groups of about 300 members each. with 300 members in one group, you cannot, in any possible way, get to know all your team mates (especially not in a week). it was interesting to see little groups forming within the huge group - people who already knew each other and people who'd just gotten to know each other - banding together and having fun and chatting and sprinting.

speaking of sprinting, here's how the whole contest system works:

  • the website is set up like a forum
  • when you write, you must log the time and word count in the "sprinting" space (basically, post when you start, and then update when you stop)
  • after you've done that, you need to fill in a google form, filling in all the information again, so that the leaders can keep track of things
  • you also have to link to the post, because it acts as proof that you did actually write
  • the two teams (Lions and Wolves) compete
  • there are prizes unlocked with each new level of writing reached (certain word count/hour count)
some little things:

  • coming back to 203 notifications at one point because if you even so much as like a post, you'll be notified of every single comment on it
  • and sometime you just happen to like a very popular post
  • “I need to stop getting so distracted by all the notifications!” ~ Alex the Mouse Defender
  • somehow managing to get a 1600 word short story rewritten as 1300 words - editing it - sending it to two beta readers - going through the beta responses
  • changed my profile photo to a lion (#peerpressure)
  • “Never has an aggravatingly short story been so fun” ~ Jana, Keeper of the Penguin Waffles
  • fought Snapper and lost
  • "I feel tired" ~ Terah 
  • ok, but same ^^

total amount I wrote: 1,500 words
team leading: LIONS

thursday, may 14

I edited in the morning, and logged science notes about plant classification as words. I squeezed in a full flash fiction in 45 minutes just before dinner time. it was one that I've been meaning to write for a while, called "The Ghost Boy".

Snippet of the day: 

  “What exactly is your ability?”

“I …” Kae cleared her throat, which felt strangely tight. “I feel pain.”

“Are you all right, Miss Ruve?”

“No. I mean, yes. But not like that. It's my ability—I feel pain.”

~ "what pain feels like"

total amount I wrote: 1,700
leading team: LIONS

friday, may 15

a good day for writing! some geniuses in our group started a "official lion's sprint" thread that was updated with new half hour sprint times for eight hours+ straight, and helped centralize writing and encourage other members. because we're stronger together, to quote Trollhunters, my newest obsession. (also, Mr. Strickler is inspiring me to write anti heros, somehow xD).

little things:

  • 1,114 words in 30 minutes isn't bad
  • yesterday's short story typed up
  • science chapter finished
  • editing a previous story for future publication
  • Snapper turned into a squirrel - one of the noncompeting members who just sprint for the sake of writing, not winning XD

total amount I wrote: 2,200
leading team: WOLVES

saturday, may 16

I surprised myself. decided to do almost nothing but write write and write because the weekend is one time when I don't have to do school. so I took a notepad with me into the car when I went out, and when I had to wait, I wrote. plotted my book according to the three act story structure (thanks, Abbie). outlined, rewrote old stories, just smashed those words down.

  • wrote a flash fic fanfic about my own unfinished novella ??
  • about the characters in the future!!
  • called "Like Grim Death"
  • it's a treasure hunting jungle adventure
  • with a lot of teeth involved

total words I wrote: 5,110
leading team: WOLVES

sunday, may 17

my best writing day of all. I think I barely did anything else useful other than write write write. I was actually aiming for 10k, but that's an awful lot. I actually felt like this was the furthest I'd ever pushed my creative limits ... I actually felt that well of insipiration running dry for the day.

  • got a lot of words written thanks to journaling (literally the easiest way to get words down lol)
  • also today we finished the Trollhunters final episodes (still recovering from that :'))
  • trying to write an assasin story called "Death Sounds Like Silence" but didn't finish it because I got stuck XD
  • however, I was stuck on the plot line of another short story and then I had a dream that solved the problem (?) so I quickly wrote that down (it's called "The Taste of Truth")
  • also yes, some of these are following Havok themes xD

total words I wrote: 6,730
leading team: WOLVES

monday, may 18

kind of a terrible writing day ... it was a holiday and so I didn't do much school work to count either. however, I deserved the break XD

total words I wrote: 1,338
leading team: IT'S A TIE

tuesday, may 19

LAST DAY. I did my best and churned out 3,660 words - including very random plot ideas, outlines, premises, and super short stories.

  • took science notes like crazy
  • although the topic of science was slightly weird - how the life functions of invertebrates work
  • wrote a mini story called "Picture Perfect" based on an ancient prompt from Jem
  • also wrote another story called "The Girl Who Sat Still"  

AND ok the site was so crowded at the time of the winner announcements that the website actually crashed for a few minutes XD sadly, the Wolves won :( but I'm not acutally sad. we still won prizes XDD

total words I wrote: 3,660
winning team: WOLVES

all in all - it was a good week. I wrote a lot. my personal calculations say I wrote 21.7 k, but the official word count from CWW says I wrote 29.4 k (and 24.75 hours o_O). I'm most amazed by the fact that I churned out about 7 short stories in 7 days. the prizes for the week's word include some incredible classes on writing ... an some silly VeggieTales songs sang by Brett Harris XDD in fact, I'm still trying to catch up on claiming all the prizes ack. I have learned a lot and made new friends and am so grateful for this opportunity. hope it becomes annual ... then y'all can join too next time!!

what have you been up to this week? let me know below!
xx lisa

Writing Related

on discovering your own writing style

May 16, 2020

I've really come to appreciate how katie emmons says, i don't believe in writing advice.

I feel like a wonderful thing about the writing community on the blogosphere is HOW MUCH STUFF ONE CAN LEARN FROM OTHERS. but, it's also a bit of a downside. I, for one, have realized that I've become almost overdosed with writing advice.

it's not that the advice is bad or useless in any way but that I JUST CAN'T HANDLE IT ALL IN MY SMOL BRAIN. which leads to the first thing I want to say about finding ones own writing style ...


item # 1 there's such a thing as too much advice

or, more specifically, there's such a thing as trying to digest and follow too much advice. it would be awfully nice if we were all able to sift through the advice we receive and discard everything we don't need and just hold onto what matters, but ... how many of you also find yourselves being like, 

"yo, I need to HANG ON TO allllll the advice JUST IN CASE I need it later!!"

which in turn just clogs your brain with too much information.

^^ this is me, all the time. about everything. 

trying to follow all the advice you find online about writing - or even, all the advice your friends share - can be overwhelming. especially because 


item # 2 you cannot follow all the advice at once 

there's a time and place for each bit of wisdom we receive. you don't need editing advice when you're plotting ... and yet for some reason you're already watching a youtube video about editing your book and allowing all that information about WHAT SORTS OF ERRORS TO LOOK OUT FOR to influence how you write your draft. 

stop it.

it's really subtle. there's so much "writing advice" that is acutally "editing advice" because it's teaching you how to polish and perfect parts of your story (for example, characters) and you really shouldn't allow this to put so much pressure on how you write your first draft. 

but it goes deeper than that. you may not be able to follow all the advice at once because you just aren't there yet. for exapmle, when I was a young writer, I heard this a lot - write for yourself as if no one will ever read the story. which is beautiful advice.

but I couldn't follow it because ... I was a smol writer who couldn't part with the imagination of others reading my work. and being published. and being famous. and all those ... normal but ... premature dreams.

I was, basically, incapable of following that advice because I hadn't yet reached the point of understanding that it's totally fine if no one reads your work and it's really not that important. 


item # 3 take a break from taking advice

when your mind is full of other people's writing processes, how can you discover your own? not that knowing their methods isn't useful - it can be! I've learned a ton from seeing how others write.

but their process isn't yours, and it can be easy to get others' processes and your own mixed and muddles when you don't even know what yours is yet.

think about this for a moment - if no one were to tell you how to write your book, how would you do it?

you may not know, because that scenario of "no one telling you how to do it" is so far and so foreign. but think - if you had no time limits, and pressure, and no need to finish your book fast - how would you go about writing it?


item # 4 experiment. a lot.

when someone talks about their process, take inspiration. don't try to copy exactly. but if something they say seems to resonate with you - try it. or try some version of it. the best way to learn anything is BY DOING IT. and that goes for writing.

try to treat your writing as an experiment, if you're new to it. or even intermediate. (and maybe even expert.) it's supposed to be a fun learning experience. so HAVE FUN and LEARN. try different methods of plotting, and planning. try writing your book chronologicallly, or backwards. write it in three days. or write it in one year. write the end first. write it in the order that things come to you. record it on audio. write fast. write slow. 

TRY IT and see what works for you.


item # 5 try to develop the mindset of taking useful advice, not all advice

as I was saying, we cannot use it all at once, so why try to? this doesn't mean that you shouldn't read all those blog posts that tell you how to do things, but that you should approach them with a more open mind. one that recognizes that all the advice you read there might not be for you at this time.

just as an example, I'm a huge huge fan of Abbie's youtube channel. it's absolutely incredible and all her videos are amazing. HOWEVER. she posts a lot of videos about a lot of different writing topics. I cannot, in any way possible, handle all the information she provides at one go. I cannot even handle it at the rate that she posts - one video per week. I cannot write as fast as she can provide information - AND IT'S TOTALLY FINE. it doesn't make her advice less important or her channel less useful or me less of a writer. I just add a bookmark to her channel so that someday when I need advice on a certain topic, I can come back and look for it. 

it's okay not to read every post. it's okay not to watch every video. it's okay not to take all the advice. look for the advice that you need. bookmark the rest for later.

so this post wasn't really meant to be an advice filled post, but more of a spill of thoughts that I've recently had. I've been learning more and more about myself as a writer lately and thought I'd share. here are a few fun facts about me:

// I cannot really plot at will. meaning, I can't sit down with a paper and pencil and PLOT THE THING OUT.
// I really like visualizing my book as a movie in my head. SLOWLY. with every shot, every camera angle, every character's facial expression, every background scene in exact time as it would appear on a screen.
// to do this I need to sit still, have my eyes shut, go deep deep into my mind, and imagine. 
// and I hate sitting still with eyes shut in the middle of the day ... so.
// I cannot write a book without doing any plotting. it gets stuck.
// I cannot write a book before the idea has "matured". if I try, it dies.
// my best ideas stand the test of time. if I'm still thinking about the idea I had two years ago, chances are it's a good idea.
// not all ideas need to be books. flash fiction is good as well.
// I prefer editing to first drafts.
// with every book I try to write, I get better. and better. and better.

in other words, enjoy the process. take time to discover who you are as a writer. don't rush it. you have as much time as you need to do what you were meant to do.

keep writing, lovelies <3
xx lisa, who is currently having too much fun in a writing contest called Crazy Writing Week and this post has hopefully counted for about 800 words yayyyyyyy 


books that have left me with something

May 09, 2020

how's everyone's week been?? i'm here trying to get used to the new blogger layout. it's much friendlier for mobile, though it takes getting used to!! my life lately has been made up of enneagram typing characters (Brooke's, Faith's and my own), watching Trollhunters (it's ... surprisingly addictive), and studying bacteria and viruses (wow, great timing, right?)

i've also been thinking a lot about my favorite books. specifically, what makes a book A FAVORITE? what criteria does it have to meet to be considered a favorite? it's easy to call any book a favorite just after you finish reading ... but fast forward months later, when someone asks you. you can only tell them several titles. how do you pick?

something Nadine Brandes once said (in this video) kind of stuck with me. "it has to affect my life somehow ... grow me as a person ... make me think really hard." so recently, I've been trying to think of the books I've read and see whether they have, actually, affected me. grown me. made me think.

and of course, what better way to think than to write a post about it. so here we are. BOOKS THAT HAVE LEFT ME WITH SOMETHING.


32830562In 27 Days 
by Alison Gervais

Basic idea: 
When Hadley Jamison is given a once in a lifetime chance to travel back in time to save a boy she barely knows from committing suicide, her life becomes 10 times more complicated, and maybe 20 times more exciting.

Number of times I've read it: 
Probably four times, if not five.

What if left me with: 
I think this book taught me (not that I didn't know already, but this book punched it in) that strangers are worth caring about. You may not know them; they may appear really really different; you may not really have anything in common - but they're much more like you than you realize and they are. worth. loving. Hadley took a chance. She made hersefl look like a fool. She went out of her way, took so much trouble, and faced loneliness and critisism and some scorn. All for what? A person she didn't know. But a person she had a chance to save.


The Lost Books 
by Ted Dekker

Basic idea: 
Four chosen ones are sent on a mission to prove themselves to their new commanding officer - but on the way they are stopped by mysterious creatures and redirected on a new quest - to save their own world and ours. The six books in the series follow them through hell and back again as they race against time to save what was lost.

1620913Number of times I've read it: 
I've read the first four books once, and the last two twice (once in audio, once in print). I've been meaning to reread but am too scared, in case I don't like it anymore.

What it left me with: 
If Bambi was my childhood favorite, then this can be said to be my teenhood favorite. I was addicted. This was my introduction to modern fantasy (previously, I'd only read C. S. Lewis). And it taught me so much, literature wise. 

While I'd give this book 3/5 stars for technicalities and execution (it really veered off course of its own plot line in the later books), it gets 5/5 starts for what it did to me. This series showed me everything I love in ficiton. I had never read anything as riveting before. Action, twists, gripping plot, fantasy setting, strong themes, Christian allegory, enemies to lovers, betrayal, redemtion, a close knit group of characters, climatic battles, escapes, rescues, etc etc.


Letters to the Lost 
by Brigid Kemmerer

30038855Basic idea: 
Juliet Young writes letters and leaves them on her mother's grave - but she never expects that someone would actually read them. And reply. This little correspondence sparks a fascinating relationship that ends up  being much more complex than it first appears.

Number of times I've read it: 
I've read this book twice, I believe.

What it left me with: 
One of my absolute favorite themes in books is not judging people by their covers and actually  learning to look beyond the surface of things. I think that you will notice this theme in every single favorite book of mine. I think that Letters to the Lost cemented the idea in my soul like no other book - people are more than what they appear to be. Besides this is also my absolute favorite contemporary of all time, and a beautiful example of characters and plots that I love.


11127. sy475 The Chronicles of Narnia 
by C. S. Lewis

Basic idea: 
if you don't know what Narnia is about, you're living under a rock.

Number of times I've read it
I'm acutally not sure, but possibly at least three times. I've also seen the movies multiple times and love them all <3

What it left me with: 
Everything. Narnia was my first taste of fantasy, and I fell in love. I adore everything about the style and the plot and the characters and the world and the allegory, and I'm gonna go reread it again now, okay? C. S. Lewis taught me so much about both life and story writing. Can anything beat that?


24807186Wolf by Wolf 
by Ryan Graudin

Basic idea: 
in an alternate history where the Axis won WWII, Yael, a death camp survivor, must win a motorcycle race across continents in order to come face to face with Hiter - and assasinate him.

Number of times I've read it: 
only once! I just finished it two weeks ago but cannot wait to get it from the library again once I can!

What it left me with: 
I'll bet some of you saw this coming, eh? I cannot exactly pinpoint what I learned from Wolf by Wolf, because I got so much. Both an insight into history, an insight into humans, an insight into writing books. I think that if I had to tell you only one thing about this book, I'd say - people are people; people have souls; people matter.


All things said and done, these are not, by any means, the only books that left me with something. Many books have taught me things, made me think, helped me grow. (And these are only the fictional ones I mentioned.) But as I scrolled through my lists on Goodreads, these jumped out at me like no others. These are the ones I shall always remember.

do you like books to leave you with something? off the top of your head, which ones have impacted you the most?

have a lovely saturday,
xx lisa


a little life update

May 02, 2020

dear friends, hey, how are you? It's been a long time since I sat down and actually truly blogged. the last few posts I put up were interviews/guest posts - nothing wrong with them, of course. but I haven't actually talked with you in so long. so here, you deserve an update ~

I was inspired by Grace Anne's latest post, quarantine diaries vol. 1, and will be doing something of the sort. wow, has it really been one and a half years since I wrote A RECAP POST?? how's that even possible?

I have not been counting the days I've been inside. not totally housebound, of course. just not going into town. days feel like all days have always felt. school. family. writing. art. walks in the park. unfortunately, something happened with my online school's website and course content was lost. so I've had more free time on my hands than I expected ... some things that have been happening ~


x art. I've been learning to paint skin tones through this video. a new favorite artist I've discovered is Tara Spruit. and I'm working my way through Dixon Drawing Class taught by Heather Dixon (yes, the author). I'm also doing a Top Secret art project right now which I'm super excited for that I'm sure you all will be hearing about more in the near future!

x nanowrimo. which I've failed AGAIN, but oh well. I don't think I'm really the Nano type of person? for once in my life, there's something I cannot do FAST. and that is, write. however, I've had a lot of fun with my cabinmates, and my wip is really exciting me more as I keep writing it.

x video calls. ironically my social life has become even more social with the quarantine - I used to video call people one every few months in the past, and now it's like, once a week (if not more). it's certainly fun and great to connect with others but sometimes I feel ... introverted ... like, wow, video calling so much is tiring. let's take a break.

x working for havok!! I was recently accepted to the havok team and am currently working as a submissions manager of sorts - going through stories and replying to emails! I abosultely love the work and the environment and can't wait to learn all the things!!


x Netflix, what else. we recently got an account thanks to friends who decided to share theirs with us!! and so, we've been watching all the things. namely ~
  • Our Planet. it's narrated by David Attenborough and feels exactly like Planet Earth by BBC so we love it. 5/5.
  • Mary Poppins Returns. it was fun, but once again, I thought the filmmakers were trying too hard to follow the plotline of the original and bring back all the nostaligia. still, it was entertaining. 3/5.
  • Sahara. a never-heard-of-before Canadian animated movie about a snake and a scorpion. it was, frankly, really really good for a movie not produced by one of the giants (Disney, Dreamworks, etc etc). in fact, the music was even better than a lot of Disney's latest ones. 4/5.
  • Peter Rabbit. hilarious. exciting. decidedly a comedy that I loved, even though I generally hate comedy (the reason I didn't hate this one was because the rabbits were the main characters). it was pretty deep for something so funny. 4/5.
  • The Croods. I really want that saber toothed tiger as my pet, enough said. 4/5.
x Anne of Green Gables ~ the Good Stars and Fire and Dew. this was a Canadian PBS two movie series. definitely not as good as the famous trilogy made by Kevin Sullivan. not terrible, but it certainly left out a lot of my favorite parts and changed things. 2.5/5. (got this one through Hoopla.)

x Chopped. only recently did I and my siblings discover the world of COOKING SHOWS and we really really like Chooped, way too much, I think XD it gets to be a bit much if you watch over two episodes a day though, so 4/5. (this was from Youtube.)

x Jessethereader because my favorite booktuber whom I watch with dedication XD


x Les Miserables with Hannah Rodriguez - I'm in awe over Hugo's DEDICATION TO DETAIL.

x God in My Everything - a book about how we can learn from the ancient monastic life. heard about this from Kaylan Mah and love it so far. 

x Wolf by Wolf and Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin. I listened to 23 hours of audiobook in four days and was destroyed by this duology. I've never read anything like it. now I'm listening to Fleurie's album, Love and War, to try and recover from it. 

x How We Rise. I am so excited for the release of Brooke's book!! I already have  review of this one up on Goodreads so read it right here to be convinced that you need it!!

x next up on my list is the audiobooks for the Illuminae Files and I am excited. Nicole Dust keeps talking about these so HIGH TIME I actually read them.


x err, double fudge cookies :)) smoked fish. waffle cones that I made. smoothies. 
x I'm unused to talking about food on my blog so I'll stop right here ...


x finding that you can schedule gmails to send out at basically any time in the future and preparing a "time capsule" email to send out to my squad (the Dimension) in 2030.

x playing online games with my overseas cousins because we're stuck at home (we never did this before)

x writing to Ryan Graudin about how much I liked her books and hearing back from her that it was just the encouragment she needed wowowow

x doing a little photography project where I collect cool photos and try to replicate them (still working on this one)

x getting a new laptop - I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS MOMENT.

x going outside and photographing the gorgeous cherry blossoms that grace our streets at this time of year <333


x about how blessed we that God is our Father and taking care of us and that if we belong to him we cannot fail at life because it's not we who are doing things in our own strenght anymore but he is doing things in and through us.

x how I think I have a sort of wrong view of the world - thinking of things as "the world". "The world" doesn't experience anything. It doesn't suffer. It doesn't feel. IT'S THE PEOPLE and they are individuals. I think that by calling the people elsewhere "the world", and calling all the masses in a country by the county's name ("China is doing this", "America is doing this", "England is doing this") makes me duller to feel for the people. I'm trying to learn to imagine others as people - not as a generalized population. That what has happened to "the world" happened to one person. and to another. and to another. and to another. and to another.

x increasingly thinking about the purpose behind why I do things ... trying to set motivations right.

x absolutely love Abbie's latest writing video about the enneagram types !!

with all that said, I hope you all are doing well! let's chat below about how YOU are doing. what have you been watching/reading/doing/thinking lately?? 

stay safe and healthy, and may God bless you all <3

~ lisa

ps. for all my writer friends, here is a publisher hosting a novel competition that you all should check out if you have a complete manuscript xx

© Lisa Elis 2017-2019. All text mine unless otherwise credited. Please do not steal. Thank you.