Are you already prepping for NaNoWriMo? My thoughts – Please share yours!

I know… it’s August, but there are a couple reasons why I’m already thinking about November.

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This month, I’m finishing up my novel The Witch’s Uprising, gearing up for another year of teaching kids, and reading fantasy fiction as part of a 25inFive challenge.

I like keeping busy, but I also like balance.

I have a tendency to overbook myself when I don’t plan ahead. November is a particularly interesting month in terms of being busy:

  • My birthday is at the end of November, and I thought it would be a nice gift to send The Witch’s Uprising out to as many publishers as I could before my birthday. This feels like a the right step. I’ve already begun my research, and I feel more and more confident each day.
  • November is a nexus of obligations, celebrations, and explorations. I have to plan anything I’m doing ahead of time. Wedding planning, my teaching job, family, and friends obviously come first. So I need to manage my time and energy well if I want to continue writing during the year.
  • NaNoWriMo is in November, and I love the intoxicating energy bubbling through the online writing community. Even now, I imagine myself participating, just for enjoyment.

As I research and study several avenues of self-publication, online publication, and author-related social media, I notice that I often daydream about writing new pieces outside of my mainline series. It would be nice to draft a quick 50,000 word novel, if only to have fun writing with other people in the exquisite madness of NaNoWriMo. I’d like to reconnect with the joy of writing a new piece really, really, quickly.

Here are my questions to you:

  • Are you thinking of participating in NaNoWriMo?
  • Are you already prepping for November?
  • Are you working on something else?  

Share your thoughts in any case! I WANT TO KNOW.

-Curtis


 

(Psst….. You Can Read The Witch’s Uprising: Part One on Wattpad!)

Witch's Uprising Experimental Cover

 


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What just happened? Why I had to temporarily stop writing and re-asses how I create . . .

In the last two weeks, I have not written a single word, despite my original goal of reaching 180-300 hours of writing this summer. Why?

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A Downward Spiral of Inactivity

My relationship with time management is a funny one.

For weeks at a time, I feel like the most productive person ever, and then, for an equal span of time, I am the least productive person! I know some people can relate – especially writers.

Sometimes, I stop writing, because thinking about lost time causes a unique type of anxiety within me. It makes sitting down to write harder, and the inactivity perpetuates a negative emotional cycle. Usually, I feel a mixture of imposter syndrome and frustration. I view my work through an overly critical lense, leading me to abandon projects or spend less and less time towards writing my books.

These emotions lead to a lot of time spent thinking about my creative projects without actually doing them – biting my nails as to why I wasted two, three, or four days.

This was part of what happened this month, but not all.

Life Took Over in July

Earlier in July, I had other priorities to take care of in my life.

I needed to spend my time with important people that needed love, care, and attention. Attending to family was far more important than anything else going on. I have to spare you the details, as they are extremely personal and private.

During this last week, I needed to spend time away from writing. Just seeing my fiancé, my brother, and my immediate family, while getting back into exercise was what I needed. I had to take time to think about my life’s overall priorities and bolster my health and spirituality practices.

While taking this time, I had so many questions: What do I want to accomplish before my last breath? How can I be of service to other people in the next ten, twenty, or thirty years? Am I spending enough time with my family? In light of that question, does it even matter what I want to accomplish?

I realize now that this past week was about reminding myself of my priorities.

Yes, writing is important. It is meditative to me, and it is a thrilling hobby. However, my family and friends come first, before my creative projects.

My health comes first, before writing my novel. I needed to be present with all of it.


Despite My Frustrations…

I still need to finish my book, and honestly, I’m biting my nails!

My project The Witch’s Uprising, has taken me too long to write because I initially didn’t know how to manage my time. Earlier in the summer, I had finally reached a successful streak. I was running with the manuscript, full of creative flow. In July, life took over as mentioned above, I needed to take time off. And now… Now I’m trying to get back to writing again.

My gut tells me that taking time off it’s ok. It tells me I should take my time and that I shouldn’t rush. Still, my ego reminds me of the goals that I set. It reminds me that I should have been done, that I should have worked harder, that I should have pushed.

So which is right? Maybe both? Can I embrace the duality of this situation?

Maybe I’m overzealous. Maybe I’m setting goals that I cannot meet, and maybe that’s a recipe for disappointment.

Taking time off from my creative hobby made me understand a fundamental problem in my writing practice: I had not yet developed a balanced practice. Meaning, I had not yet found a way to work writing into my life where it wasn’t a high-octane endeavor at the exclusion of other important activities.

It’s time to try something new – an emotionally healthier way of writing these books. I’m going for balance, and I as I reach towards it, I’ll keep you posted.

Be well!!!

-Curtis


Share a comment below, or, you can connect with me here.

 

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“Just writing” – How a summer of writing is teaching me to do life better

This is one of a series of posts for my writing challenge, Minutes to a Better Book. You can read more about the challenge, and see all related posts here.  


 

 

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I Wrote an average of 2.5-3 hours a day, for ten days…

I’ve reached the 30-hour milestone for writing my books. I’m happy with the results:

  • An almost-finished manuscript of The Witch’s Uprising (TWU)
  • A longer manuscript than expected
  • Meaningful changes to character arcs and conflict
  • A completely posted Part One of TWU on Wattpad – You can read it here.
  • Rankings on Wattpad going up: 

    Instagram: @CurtisWritesBooks
    One of my Instagram stories. @CurtisWritesBooks

Other Results:

  • I was able to work through some writer’s apprehension I’d been having over the last few months.
  • My mental health is better, and I’m starting to balance my life. This was the biggest success.

(There are, of course, always more details. You can check out my public posts on Patreon if you interested.  All public posts are available here. )


Just Doing vs. Meeting Quotas: What writing without a word count made me realize…

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Why does it feel so easy to write, all of a sudden? Maybe it’s because I have more time this summer than usual, but the very task of writing feels so different when I sit down to do it.

The real answer?

Between work obligations and commitments to friends and family, it had been hard to find time to create, and when I found the time, I didn’t write well.

I was out of balance. I touched on this briefly in my last post.

My time is balanced now, and when I sit down to write, I’m just writing and enjoying writing. It reminds me of a Zen Buddhist idea of being fully present while “just doing” something.

On that note, I stopped using word counts.

Writing without them has helped me be more creative. For example, I focused last week’s time on crafting scenes, and I wasn’t worried about reaching a quota of words. My characters came to life instead of robotically moving through their conflicts.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been a fan of using word counts in the past, and why not? Word counts are useful. It’s nice to set a challenge. It’s nice to do a writing sprint every once in a while, but any method can become a crutch. The act of writing was no longer fun when I was just aiming at a particular goal.

I learned a valuable lesson this summer. By taking care of myself, my commitments, and my time, I was better able to enjoy writing – just writing. Setting aside blocks, without any arbitrary word count or quota to meet. Just writing for however long I can.

An hour. Two hours. Three if I have them.

I know I won’t have this much time forever. In fact, in a month and a half, my work-life balance will tip towards work. But after this summer, I won’t forget what I just learned:

-Make time for writing that doesn’t intrude on valuable family time and social commitments.

-Taking care of your mental health.

-Just write… Just write and enjoy writing. 

Before this summer, time was scarce, but more specifically, my imbalance negatively impacted the quality of my time. I was putting goals on a pedestal, and while goals are fine, experience has taught me that putting goals before balance leads to burnout.

Balance is important. This whole process makes me want to do a better job balancing my life…  I mean, who would want to miss a morning of this:

 

I hope you find a routine that works for you, and that you find a way to “just do” too.

Be well.

-Curtis


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A Summer of Writing: Minutes to A Better Book

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I write books as a hobby, and last month I had to push that hobby to the side.

The school year was ending, and I spent the first two weeks of June wrapping up loose ends and taking trainings. I was busy, to say the least. The three days that followed were fraught with mental fog, and quite frankly, guilt. I avoided writing at all costs. I looked at my work, and I thought, I could have done more.

 

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I felt guilty for not writing.

I felt guilty for putting my hobby to the side.

On top of that, I made a pretty big deal about writing my books for the last nine months, and I feel like I don’t have a lot to show for it.

I do not want to belittle the important steps I have taken, however tiny those steps were. I do, however, feel like I could have done better.

Yes, I’m proud of the revised chapters and new material. Yes – I’m happy to have made new friends and connected with total strangers over reading and writing. Still, I feel like I need to do more.

So . . . I will do more.

Minutes to a Better Book

A few posts ago, I talked about Minutes to a Better Book. My goal was to dedicate 180 to 300 hours towards writing my books – not my stories, not my blog, but rather, my books.

If I write for three hours every day until August 20th, I will make the 180 mark. The 300 Hours bit makes the challenge far more interesting and incentivizes me to just dedicate my time towards writing books.

What does this mean for Paper Palaces? It means that I will only work on posts after finishing my required writing for the day. This will most likely result in one or two posts per week on the usual topics.

You can read more about the challenge by visiting the challenge page here. Or, you can follow me on Instagram (@curtiswritesbooks), where I post stories about my progress, among other things.

If you feel like dedicating time towards your hobby, let me know. I love knowing that other people are putting hours in towards their passion.

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Are you writing to? Do you have a hobby that you’re diving into this summer?

-Curtis

Instagram: @CurtisWritesBooks

Facebook: /curtisteichertbooks

Patreon: /CurtisWritesBooks

Twitter: @staghorncrown

WordPress: PaperPalacesBlog.com

Bloggers and Noteworthy Reads (This Week’s Reads # 2)

Happy Sunday!

I’d like to give a shoutout to a few bloggers and sites that may interest you. These people are worth following on WordPress if you like book reviews, writing, visually appealing blogs, and personal opinion pieces. This is the second post in this series. Read the first post here.

Here are this week’s reads . . . 


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Written Word Worlds

WordPress: https://writtenwordworlds.com/

Written Word Worlds is a great site, particularly for readers of young adult literature. There are a variety of posts that center around YA fiction, including book reviews and discussion posts. Sarah’s posts are full of useful links and beautiful visuals – something that I am trying to work on.

Check out her rating system for books. She uses teacups! On top of that, it is one of a handful of WordPress sites I have seen this week with an accompanying Youtube page. 

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Written Word Worlds – Home Page

My Pick(s): Sarah’s post on shock value raises valuable questions and provides good food for thought on the insensitive use of traumatic experience in literature and popular media for shock value. Read Sarah’s post here. If you are looking for a post with lighter subject matter, try this one on naming characters. They are both good.


The Cat’s Write

WordPress: https://millyschmidt.com/

Milly Schmidt’s posts are helpful for bloggers and aspiring writers. Much like this blog, The Cat’s Write shares thoughts, habits, notes, and discoveries that come up during the writing process. Milly’s site is clear, laid-back, and to the point.  There really is a variety of content on this site – a mix of personal blogging, writing tips, and guest posts.

 

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My Pick: Like I mentioned earlier, The Cat’s Write has some great guest posts. Here’s one from BB Morgan.


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Next Week

I would like to highlight a few of my followers next weekend for This Week’s Reads. If you are proud of your blog or know of a blog that I should check out, please share in the comments or connect with me below!

 

I hope you found this useful.

-Curtis


Marcus Aurelius and Quotes from His Meditations

Marcus Aurelius was once emperor of Rome, a philosopher, and a military leader. He practiced Stoicism, a branch of Hellenistic philosophy. 

He is a great inspiration.

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Meditations by Marcus Aurelius resting on a copy of The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday.

 


A Time to Sit and Think

Years ago, I was on a trip with my fiancé that took me through London, Oxford, and Whitby (photographs available here). We made a few stops at Blackwell’s Bookshop in Oxford, and I bought the Oxford World Classic’s edition Leonardo Da Vinci’s Notebooks, as well as the Oxford World Classic’s edition of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.

Meditations is a series of private notes that Marcus Aurelius wrote to himself. It is a phenomenal book and one worth reading, especially at this time of year. As summer approaches, subtle shifts in pressure and responsibility have left me reflecting on my life and how I live it.

It’s the perfect time of year to sit down and think. My head bubbles with questions and concerns:

How will this summer go? How will this season and next year unfold? How can I honor my commitments while also enjoying some time off?

These meditations remind me to stay in the present moment, to use logic, and to move through life as a social being. Although these are private notes were meant for the emperor’s reflection,  I have found them useful in my own life. I have shared a few quotes from Meditations below.

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The Oxford World’s Classic Edition

Marcus Aurelius’s examination of his own life, his logical flow of thoughts, and the constant criticism of his own character, each drives me to examine my own life through the lens of philosophy.

I find myself returning to the book regularly, thumbing through the pages in search of something brilliant, or simply reading a series of meditations to process the meaning.

I first read excerpts from Meditations in high school, and now that I have a copy of my own, I finally have the opportunity to dog-ear the pages and mark the passages that resonate with me. Whether I am writing fiction, grading papers, or reading literature, these meditations seem to find a way into my life.

In this edition of Meditations, the work is divided into twelve parts. Each part is labeled as a book. Each book is further divided into meditations, ranging from one sentence to several paragraphs per meditation.

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4 Quotes from Meditations

These quotes are each considered one meditation. They have provided some food for thought this week. I hope you find them useful as well.

Do not suppose that if you personally find that something is hard to achieve, it is therefore beyond human capacity; rather, if something is possible and appropriate for human beings, assume that it must also be within your reach.

-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 6.19


If something is not right, do not do it, if something is not true, do not say it; for you should keep your impulses under your own control.

-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 12.17


Look at the inner nature of things; and in each instance, let niehter its specific quality nor its worth escape you.

-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 6.3


No more of all this talk about what a good man should be, but simply be one!

-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 10.16


Is there a quote that you particularly like?

-Curtis

Like it_ (1)Instagram: @CurtisWritesBooks

Facebook: /curtisteichertbooks

Patreon: /CurtisWritesBooks

Twitter: @staghorncrown

WordPress: PaperPalacesBlog.com

Monday Recap – Last Week’s Wins

I’m smiling.  It was a productive week and a restful weekend. Here’s a recap of last week’s wins:

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Monday Recap – Last Week’s Wins

Home & Writing Books

I spent time with my fiancé, attended a student play and worked 5 hours closer to my 300-hour goal for writing my novels. This puts me at the 300-minute mark, which means I’ve hit the first level (copper) of the Minutes To A Better Book challenge.

Paper Palaces, Posting, and Site Changes

For the last few weeks, I’ve experimented with posting every day. While I see more visitors on this site, I want to make sure that the content makes sense for you. I created a poll for followers so you can give me feedback on how many posts I should do per week.  

I have also created a few new pages and changed up the top menu. They are getting a few hits from outside of WordPress, which is always nice.

Quick Links – New pages:

Let me know what you think! Like a page or two, if you want.


A Mock Schedule

I really enjoy posting every day. I feel like I don’t have to fit in all my thoughts into two or three posts. I can spread them out. I have tried to come up with a few structures for posting. Still, I’m taking a break from posting this week to focus on some other things.

Here is a rough and loose  idea of what content may come if I post every day:

SundaysFeedback! Polls (To stay open throughout the week) (Here is this week’s poll. Please vote!)

Mondays 

  • Last Week’s Wins –  a recap of the last week & a look at the current week 

Tuesdays 

Wednesdays 

Thursdays 

Fridays 

Saturdays 

If I don’t post every day, I would like to try creating two or three posts that combine the elements from above.  


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Noteworthy Posts from Last Week:

If you didn’t get a chance to see these, check them out!


What do you do on your own blog or site? Do you have a set schedule or preferences?

-Curtis

Like it_ (1)Instagram: @CurtisWritesBooks

Facebook: /curtisteichertbooks

Patreon: /CurtisWritesBooks

Twitter: @staghorncrown

WordPress: PaperPalacesBlog.com

A Poll for My Followers: How often should I post to Paper Palaces? What works for you?

Happy Sunday, everyone!

I just wanted to get some feedback from you this week. I’m trying to make an effective posting schedule without bogging you down with too many posts. Let me know!

-Curtis

If you’re new, you can start here.

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How would ______ do this? Three more questions to ask yourself when experiencing a creative block. . .

I knew I had an idea . . . I knew it was great, but where did it go? The blank screen had no answer for me, and only the sound of my cat meowing filled the air. What happened to that shiny object I was chasing? Luckily, I had an answer.

This is the second post in a series on creative blocks. You can read the first post here.

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Ideas are abundant, which is why I take the time to create notes for new ideas that I have.

That is what I would say to you if I was diligent.

The truth is. . . I run with my ideas, big and small, and sometimes, they get lost.

Some writers call this being a pantser from the phrase “flying by the seat of your pants.” I’m guilty of being a pantser; however, there are times when I really do take the time to develop my ideas, like my current project A Thousand Watchful Eyes.

Today was not one of those times. Part of today was a “shiny object” day, where I chased new ideas like a small, eager animal collecting whatever catches its eye.

It’s tragic. I am attracted to new ideas like cats to fuzzy socks. Sometimes I can’t stop.

While this process is almost always exciting, there is always the danger of losing out on an idea that would be a worthwhile investment.  Luckily, today’s shiny-object fiasco came after a morning of creating fiction.

A Full Morning of Fiction

For those of you new to Paper Palaces, I am working on a fantasy saga. The finished work will span twelve novels (a prequel series and main series). Every day, I try to work on the project, but I also have to dedicate my time towards other tasks. Managing this time is often difficult, as everything seems important. Last week, I wrote about a new writing challenge to push myself towards dedicating a large amount of my time towards writing my books. So far, it is working.

Still, I want to write short stories, and I want to start new books. Yesterday, I wanted to a create handful of detailed blog posts and useful how-to articles, and today, I just needed to write fiction. The urge to create more writing ensues, but wanting to write more is not enough.

I fought the urge to chase shiny objects today by focusing on one project: my fiction.

Here’s what happened:

  • I revised chapters for three hours.
  • I made detailed notes about new chapters.
  • I redrafted two old chapters and wrote one new chapter.
  • My chapters look better.
  • I no longer feel stressed writing new posts and articles.
  • I now have time to pursue my “shiny object” ideas, if only I could remember them.

In essence, there is no issue, but I want to keep writing, and my ideas have run dry.

What is a person to do?

What I have done to fight this type of creative block

Keep a list!

Really, keep a list of the ideas that you want to develop. This list could evolve into a document, a database, a binder. . . Honestly, it can be as big or as small as you need.

There’s an interesting technique that some artists use, where they create a portfolio of inspirational images to motivate them through the creative block. In this case, your list would keep your fledgling ideas safe until it was time for them to take wing.

But what if you forgot to add the idea to the list?

Well, honestly there’s not much you can do. But I suggest asking the following questions.

Here are three questions you should ask yourself when your ideas are scattered or missing . . .

  1. What inspired me today?

  2. Are there any other ideas that I have yet to develop?

  3. How would _____ do this? 

These open-ended questions will help you to open up the creative part of your mind, and I’m not just talking about writers. This will help with any project. These questions help me when my brain feel so overwhelmed, or so blank, that it needs a starting point.

Each question focuses on different solutions for creative block. Number one focuses on building specificity, number two focuses on working through former ideas, and number three focuses on developing organization and style.

When all is said and done, I enjoy the writing process, but that does not mean I don’t get stuck. In fact, it’s my desire to make write a large body of work that sometimes keeps me away from the screen.

In order to focus, in order to fight the blank page, we must find what works, and that looks different every day.  Here is how I approach each question:

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Question # 1: What inspired me today?

This may be the easiest question to answer. You simply have to remember what you have done today. If you can’t think of something inspiring, try thinking of something that makes you curious.

Were their people you interacted with that sparked your curiosity today? Was there a moment that stood out to you as interesting? How could you translate part of your personal experience today to your craft?

Finding inspiration is sometimes as simple as sitting down and writing stream of consciousness for ten minutes and picking an idea that appears. I call this method a “brain spill.” Caution – don’t publish your stream of consciousness, or “brain spill.”

Your goal is to get to a place of specificity, not to produce polished writing. This is great if you don’t have any ideas on hand because there is always something to use from your brainstorming session. There is always something that you can use from your day if you spend enough time thinking about your experience from different angles.

Question # 2: Are there any other ideas that you have to develop?

For non-fiction, I have a document that is an entire list of questions sorted by topic. Someday, I will answer all of those questions. Each question is open-ended.

I have another document that is a list of story titles, character names, and one-liners. I used to keep these in a handwritten journal, but lately, I like to keep everything digital. These are helpful for writing fiction.

I sporadically collect pictures and articles from the web to help inspire me. Pinterest is a pretty great tool for that, but it’s also an easy way to procrastinate.

Keeping your ideas handy for later will help you build a bank of ideas to develop. These seeds of ideas are not ready on their own, but with enough care and the right conditions, they can grow into better ideas, stories, projects, etc . . .

Question # 3: How would _____ do this? 

This is a great one if you have a personal hero in your field. Sometimes I think to myself: How would J.K. Rowling do this? How would George R.R. Martin do this? Or, more specifically, how would Rick Riordan describe this character? How would Kelly Barnhill explain this to a child? How would my favorite blogger structure this post?

You can get as specific as you want, or stay general. The point of this exercise to think outside of yourself. This gives you a break from your own organization and style, providing a space for you to create something new.

Take-Away

If I remember anything from this today, it is to keep my idea bank full while also dedicating appropriate time to my projects and to never give up, no matter what complications arise.


I hope these questions help you with your creative projects.

-Curtis

Let’s Connect!

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Facebook: /curtisteichertbooks

Patreon: /CurtisWritesBooks

Twitter: @staghorncrown

WordPress: PaperPalacesBlog.com


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Bloggers and Noteworthy Followers (This Week’s Reads # 1)

Happy Friday!

I’d like to give a shoutout to a few bloggers and sites that may interest you. These people are worth following on WordPress if you like book reviews, travel blogs, challenges, and writing. Here are this week’s reads . . . 


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Adventures of a Bibliophile

WordPress:  https://adventuresofabibliophile.com/

Adventures of a Bibliophile is a solid site if you like reading challenges. Stephanie tracks her reading challenges and infuses her posts with her own experiences. It’s a nice personal blog to read, and she inspires me to take on challenges of my own. I personally enjoy any blog that gives readers a sense of progress or momentum.

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My Pick: She’s currently working on a Shakespeare Reading Challenge.


Alisa Ellie

WordPress: https://alisaellie.blog/

I found Alisa Ellie on Instagram during a bookstagram shoutout session. I was first drawn in by her beautiful feed. I soon found that she had short, informational posts on blogging, writing, and books. Her blog is also very aesthetically pleasing. She is honing her own style, for sure.

Check her out. Her posts are funny and useful.

Alisa Ellie

My Pick:  I picked her Writing as a Skilll chose this post because it meshes well with how I view writing and writing habits.


Some Noteworthy Followers

I’d like to get in the habit of featuring some of my followers, new and old in a weekly post (usually on Friday or over the weekend). I’ve read some great work on WordPress, and I think it would be nice to bring specific posts to light in the future.

Check out these wordpress bloggers who are following me right now.

Thrifty Bibliophile

WordPress:  https://thriftybibliophile.com/

These book reviews are short and to the point. I really enjoy how quickly I can get an overview of a book.

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My Pick: The site is also very well organized. I have included a link to her book review index (very helpful!).Check it out here.


Write Kind Travels

WordPress:  https://writekindtravels.com/

Book reviews, Barcelona, and travels. There are a variety of posts and topics on this site. I personally enjoy the blend of information and photography. In fact, I may try similar posts on my site when the time comes.

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My Pick: Her Book Tour of Barcelona is gorgeous, as is the rest of her travel section.


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I hope you found this useful! If you have a blog I should check out, let me know.

-Curtis


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Let’s Connect!

Instagram: @CurtisWritesBooks

Facebook: /curtisteichertbooks

Patreon: /CurtisWritesBooks

Twitter: @staghorncrown

WordPress: PaperPalacesBlog.com