If I Had an Interview with Vikki VanSickle [re-direct to Mind the Gap]

I’m lucky enough to know children’s books author Vikki VanSickle and she was sweet enough to let me interview her for Mind the Gap! Click here for a glimpse into her writing process and make sure you also check out my review of her first picture book, If I Had a Gryphon here!

Vikki VanSickle Head Shot

More Like NaNo-NoGo

I’ve failed. Failed to complete NaNoWriMo, even though you’d think I’d have it under control, it being my third year and all (you can read my success stories here and here).

Alas, it was not meant to be.

I was determined to finish a manuscript, and I got stuck and couldn’t get unstuck. Partly because I know next-to-nothing about British law enforcement and sports, and guess what my WIP is about? BRITISH LAW ENFORCEMENT AND SPORTS. So I was constantly pausing to research, and therefore only hit 29,000 words. My other problem is that I like talking about the characters, but I sometimes ignore the plot. My bad.

Plus I wrote 13654320 other things for this blog and Mind the Gap, and spent the rest of my time job-hunting, grumbling about job-hunting, decorating for Christmas, sleeping, and, I don’t know, probably eating.

food sleep

Instead of dwelling on my failure, I’m using this as a learning experience and I know that I will have to better manage my time next year. And, as a positive, I’ll be home for half of December, so I can work on my manuscript then (hopefully)!

I do think, however, that I wrote 50,000 words this month anyway (just not in my WIP!). The following is a list of posts I published in November:


Library of Souls review
5 Seconds of Summer mini-review
TTT: Book to Movie Adaptations
Book Blitz: Sugar Skulls
Anne & Henry review
Blog Tour: Every Word
The Real Neat Blog Award
Andrew McMahon concert review
The Universe Versus Alex Woods review
A Thousand Nights review


WCW: Lynn Gunn
Every series review
Why We Love Neil Gaiman
Orphan Black season one review
Tea-riffic Recommendations
Why We Love Andrew McMahon
NaNoWriMo (ironically, I didn’t follow my own advice!)
Soulless review
Why We Love Harry Potter
Community season five review
Holiday Music
Don Broco


Friday Night Lites review

And here’s a list of upcoming posts (written but not yet published) that I’ve been working on, since I’m going to London next week and won’t be home to write them! You can click the links now, but they won’t be live until the date listed in parentheses.


TTT: Top Ten Books of 2015 (Dec 15)


Victor Frankenstein review (Dec 2)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Dec 4)
All I Want For Christmas (Dec 5)
My Favourite Christmas/Holiday Episodes (Dec 8)
London (Dec 10)
Holiday Movies (Dec 12)
All Time Low (Dec 14)
WCW: Emma Stone (Dec 16)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone/Days of Blood and Starlight review (Dec 18)
Celebrating the Holidays (Dec 19)
How I Met Your Mother season nine (Dec 22)
Best of 2015 (Dec 26)

You could also maybe sign up for the Mind the Gap newsletter (on our homepage), so that you can keep up with these posts every week (but only if you want to!).


My Christmas Letter to All Time Low/You Me At Six
Un(Covered): Christmas Time is Here
Un(Covered): Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

For anyone who participated in NaNoWriMo, how did it go? And for the rest of you: how was your November?

Anniversaries and Infinity Dreams


2 years

I’m very proud of this little thing. And also a little ashamed because I forgot until I just logged in (I knew its birthday was coming up soon). So here’s a rare evening post celebrating 2 years, and – coincidentally enough – 200+ followers!


Thanks to each and every one of you who read anything I write, no matter how rambly it gets. <3



A couple of weeks ago, I was nominated for the Infinity Dreams Award by the lovely SJ (Delirious Antidotes) and I figured now was as good a time as any to finish writing this post.

Thanks so much, SJ – and to all you readers, please check out her blog (she does some great interviews with up-and-coming musicians).

infinity dreams

How it works:

  1. Thank (and follow) the blog that nominated you for the award.
  2. Tell us 7 dreams of yours.
  3. Nominate bloggers.

My dreams:

1) To be an author. I was 12 when I decided that being an author was in my future. I’ve written one book and I’m always working on a manuscript, but I hope to one day publish those manuscripts.

2) To work in children’s publishing. I’ve always been passionate about kids’ books, I know that working in children’s publishing is where I’m meant to be.

3) To travel the world. This is pretty self-explanatory. I’ve been to many places, but there are many more that I want to visit.

4) To live in London (the English one). London is my very favourite city in the world and every time I visit, I always feel sad when it’s time to leave. Plus, I’ve seen a lot of job opportunities for children’s publishing in the London area, so I guess I could find work there?

5) To have a full sleeve of tattoos. I’m constantly working on tattoo ideas (I just need to make money). With four already done, I think I’m well on my way.

6) To make a difference. How? I don’t know. By publishing the next Harry Potter maybe (wouldn’t that be nice?). Either way, I want to leave some sort of mark on the world.

7) To be happy with my life. I like to think I’m a fairly happy person, but once I fulfill at least one of these dreams, I’ll be even more satisfied.


I’m going to cheat and say I nominate you (yes, you!), whoever is reading this.

This is one third laziness, one third “I’ve already nominated people for a previous award last week“, and one third “everyone has dreams, let’s all share them!”. As The Ready Set sings, “everything is second to your dreams”, so make sure you follow them, no matter how hard it might seem.

WIP: Alistair in Wonderland

Yesterday’s Top Ten Tuesday was one of my favourites so far. I absolutely love fairytale retellings (and fairytales in general, I suppose), so I had way too much fun going through other people’s lists and adding books to my TBR.

While I was brainstorming titles for my list, I remembered my own attempt at re-writing a favourite story. I wrote it for a contest and made plans to expand it into a full-length novel (or at least novella), but to be honest, I haven’t touched it in over a year.

So here it is. If you take the time to read this – thank you! And please let me know what you think! I hope it’s not too terrible.

Featuring the cover I made for it in my production class which isn’t the best because Photoshop/InDesign are not my friends and my instructor didn’t love the colour scheme (I told him that the black and white covers worked for Twilight and he couldn’t really argue).


Continue reading

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week’s prompt is Ten Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds. A couple of these characters are more “word nerds” (or writers) than “book nerds”, but I think all book nerds have an appreciation for words in general.

1) Matilda from Roald Dahl’s Matilda
2) Daphne de Luce from Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series
3) Hermione Granger from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series
4) Catherine Morland from Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey
5) Sadie from Sara O’Leary/Julie Morstad’s This is Sadie
6) Vander Burke from Page Morgan’s The Dispossessed series
7) Liesel Meminger from Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief


Word Nerds/Writers
8) Ambrose Bukowski from Susin Nielsen’s Word Nerd
9) Mia Thermopolis from Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries series
10) Lydia Jaackson-Oberman from Jaclyn Moriarty’s The Year of Secret Assignments

Those were the ones I could think of, though I’m sure I’m missing someone obvious. Who made it onto your lists?

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award!

Yay awards!

Thanks so much to Find Me At the Library for the nomination, I really appreciate it! Please go check out her blog!


How it works:

1) Thank the blogger who nominated you and link to their blog in your post.
2) Answer the questions that the blogger who nominated you has provided.
3) Nominate ten other bloggers (or up to 10).
4) Create ten questions for your nominees and notify them of their nominations.

My answers:

1) If you were to rewrite any book to make it better, what book would it be/what would you change?

Ooo, this is such a good question! I often read books and think “If only X had changed, it would have been so much better”. Most recently, when I read Liz Braswell’s A Whole New World, I would have liked it more if Iago had shown up, mostly because I felt like she lost out on having an amazing character.

2) How do you find most of the books you read?

I used to find stuff the old fashioned way – browsing a bookstore/the Chapters and/or Amazon website. Lately, it’s through NetGalley, other book blogs, or, when I’m interning, by walking down the halls and looking for free books!

3) Do you have more physical copies or digital copies of books?

Physical. I really started reading ebooks this year when I joined NetGalley, but I much prefer having physical books.

4) What character would you pick to be your best friend in real life?

I’m going to pick outside of the Harry Potter universe (otherwise my answer would be Luna Lovegood): Victoria and/or Audrey from Robin Benway’s Audrey, Wait!. They both get the whole “concerts are life” thing, and they’re hilarious, so we’d get along splendidly.

5) Do you lend books out to other people? Why/Why not?

I don’t actually like lending books out. I will if I know that person will take good care of it, but I get weirdly anxious if someone has one of my books and I don’t see them for a while.

6) What do you enjoy most about blogging?

I enjoy sharing my thoughts, even if no one is reading them. Also, the fact that blogging forces me to write constantly, which is something I’ve been trying to do for a while.

7) Where do you enjoy reading most?

My house, either in my room or on the patio (during the summer, of course!).

8) Can you read multiple books at once, or do you just keep with one book?

I used to when I was younger, then I stopped while in university, but I’ve started reading multiple books again. Currently, I’m reading three.

9) If you could have any book perfect adapted on-screen, what would it be?

Ellie Marney’s Every series. Not just because I’m obsessed with it, but also because I’d like to swoon over a real-life Mycroft.

10) Do you think Hermione should have ended up with Ron or Harry?

RON. I don’t really understand Harry/Hermione shippers, since I never felt the chemistry between them in the books, and I’ve been a Harry/Ginny fan since Chamber of Secrets (which I read when I was 8 or 9), so I could never get behind Hermione being with anyone other than Ron.
Plus, I think they work well together because opposites attract and all that.


If any of you have already been nominated (I hope you have!), please don’t feel obligated to do it again!

Delirious Antidotes
Being Tori in Victoria
Reading Rachael
Hidden Staircase
Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Books
Once Upon a Bookshelf
Mad Tea Party Book Reviews
What’s She Reading?
The Musings of a Bookaholic

1) If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?
2) What is your preferred genre to read?
3) What was the best book you’ve read so far this summer?
4) Quick pick: sweet or salty?
5) Do you like listening to music when you’re working/writing/reading or do you need silence?
6) What’s your dream job?
7) Which fictional character would you want to date?
8) Quick pick: tea, coffee, or something else?
9) What was your favourite live experience (concert, play, sports, etc) or what live event are you looking forward to?
10) You get a chance to appear in your favourite TV show/movie. Which show/movie would it be?

Falafelosophy: Some Advice from Arthur and Neil Gaiman

I know I haven’t done a “Writing Wednesday” in like 400 years, but I recently found out that NEIL GAIMAN was on an episode of Arthur a few years ago, and I just had to talk about it.


I’ve always enjoyed Arthur; I read the books and watched the show when I was younger. There have even been a few times (recently) when my nieces stay over on a Friday and wake me up at some ungodly time on Saturday (like 9am!! The horror!!) and I’ll insist that we watch Arthur during/after breakfast.

So this was basically a dream-come-true episode. I’ve already watched it 1.5 times, but I might have to watch it again.

In true Neil Gaiman fashion, he drops a whole lot of truth bombs and some sound advice on Sue Ellen, who is struggling with her writing (at his suggestion, she considers writing a graphic novel).


Here are some of my favourite lines:

“Don’t judge your story, you just started it.”

“You’ve got a story to tell and you’re the only one who can tell it.”

“…sometimes it takes a while for people to appreciate something new.”

And, my new personal mantra:

“You can’t just abandon your falafel like that!”

Granted, he was talking about an actual falafel at the time, but this sentence works two ways:

First and foremost, you’d be a fool if you ran away from a perfectly good falafel (I mean, look at it! It looks delicious. And the food truck guy was all “I give you hot sauce”, so you know it’s going to be spicy-but-tasty).

But, if you want to over-analyze this seemingly simple statement (and if you’re an English major like me, analyzing simple statements is instinctive) you can also think of it a metaphorical way: don’t abandon your project. Even if you get distracted or plagued by self-doubt, keep at it. Add some more “hot sauce” (“spice/change it up” if you will), but don’t just leave it to the side because you’ll never get back to it and that would be a shame.

That’s just my take on this, I could be making mountains out of molehills or whatever that saying is. But it was still hella fun trying to come up with a deeper meaning from this episode!

And, of course, he offered some genuinely good advice, so I recommend taking the 10 minutes to watch it, especially if you’re a writer. Sometimes all we need is a chat with our Inner Neil when we’re feeling insecure about our work.

Sidenote: I’d pay an obscene amount of money to have Neil Gaiman hand me a falafel. Authorly advice would just be a bonus.

Sidenote 2: “Neil Gaiman? What are you doing in my falafel?” is one of the greatest sentences I’ve ever heard. It’s going to be my new catchphrase.

gaiman falafel

Versatile Blogger Award!

I realize this is like my 1354068th post of the day, but you guys! The very kind Laura (Tea Time Reads) nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award! This was most unexpected, but I feel absurdly honoured. Thanks, Laura! Please go check out her blog! :)


How it works:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you
  2. Share 10 random facts about yourself
  3. Nominate 10 other bloggers who are relatively new to blogging (& you like!)

So here are 10 Random Facts About Me:

  1. “bellsiebooks” was coined by my oldest niece. My eldest sister (I have two sisters and a brother) nicknamed me Bella when I was little; when my niece was about 3, she realized that “Bella” and “book” both start with a “b”, so she combined it and pronounced it to be my new name.
  2. I’m currently interning at a children’s book publisher, and I can honestly say it’s my dream job. I live for YA and children’s books.
  3. I also dream of being an author; I’ve written one YA novel so far (though it’s in it’s fourth major revision), and I have about 10 other ideas floating around in various states (some have about 50 rough pages, while others are no more than a named document).
  4. I love love LOVE music and going to concerts. If I come home sweaty and/or without a voice, then I know it’s been a good show.
  5. My favourite movie of all time is The Nightmare Before Christmas. I love Tim Burton and I’m trying to watch all of his movies (I own most of them).
  6. I often work Adventure Time quotes or Scrubs references into every day conversation. And I somehow manage to turn almost any music-based conversation into a discussion about You Me At Six.
  7. I currently have three tattoos, have a consultation booked for a fourth, and have plans for at least five more. In my spare time, I fantasize about having enough money to spend on a full-coloured sleeve.
  8. I have a ridiculous collection of tea, most of it from England. Twinings Earl Grey was the first flavour I liked and it’s still one of my favourites.
  9. I also have a ridiculous collection of Converse sneakers, and one day I hope to have one pair of shoes for every colour of the rainbow.
  10. Sometimes I write for idobi radio (an alternative/pop-punk online radio station), and recently I’ve been collaborating with my friend Jane on music reviews (so far we’ve done a review of a Bleachers concert, and a track-by-track discussion of Fall Out Boy’s American Beauty/American Psycho).


I don’t know that many blogs, so I’ve picked five random ones that I follow :)
Steam Punk, On the Edge of Food-vention
Starlight Daydreamer
A Baked Creation
Books For MKS
Vital Endeavor
BONUS (because she was also nominated by Laura!)
Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Books


Well, I’ve done it.

At 55,671 words, I finished NaNoWriMo with a week to spare.

I’m not saying this to brag (well, maybe a little bit – a “humble brag”, if you will). It’s more to say “wow, I’m surprised this happened, since I’ve barely had time to read a flippin’ Adventure Time comic book, so how was I supposed to write 50,000  words?”

Wanna know my secret? I cheated.

Okay, so I don’t think it’s possible to actually cheat at NaNoWriMo. But I took the slightly-more-easy way out and, instead of starting a book from scratch, I wrote a second draft of my first novel. Which meant there were a few chapters that I could just copy-and-paste from one document into another. And thus I reached my goal sooner than anticipated.

This is not to say I didn’t painstakingly read every word I had previously written. I made adjustments along the way, and formatted the heck out of my new version (for some reason, my original manuscript had “straight quotes” and not “curly quotes” and that gave me such a headache, I can’t even tell you). I came across sentences that I knew I wouldn’t be able to re-write because they just fit so well, and I stumbled on phrases where I cringed because I don’t know why I thought that was a good way to express myself.

I feel like this time around, I got to know my characters even more, which meant I could go through dialogue I wrote 1-2 years ago (I just now realized that I’ve been working on this novel for two years. I’m going to cry. It’s a toddler!), and tweak it so that Olivia always sounded like Olivia, and Finn always like Finn, and Pippa was always Pippa (about a week ago, I turned to Ro and said “man, Pippa’s so unhinged!” and she was all “ya think?”, but I don’t think I ever really registered how cuckoo for cocoa puffs she is until re-writing her interludes).

I also like to think that I made up for this “cheating” by writing more blog posts. In 20 days, I’ve written 12 posts (not including this one, or the one that’s drafted and ready to go on Saturday, or the next installment of Music Monday that’s already done, or the one I still have to edit before posting on Tuesday…). So I like to think that it all evens out.

Plus, forcing myself to focus on one work-in-progress renewed my love for my first baby. Not that I didn’t love it before, I just sort of let it fall by the wayside while I thought about other things (my gay detective, for one. HOLY FRACK, THAT SERIES IS GOING TO BE AMAZING). But now that I’m back in a Fireworks mood, I’m going to spend the next week drafting the sequel (or I’ll at least attempt it). And maybe I’ll even start tackling the beast that is the third book in the series before the end of the year (I’m not going to say it’s unlikely, but it’s probably unlikely).

So to all you out there rushing toward the finish line, may your words fly swiftly! You’re so close to defeating NaNoWriMo – good luck!

And for anyone who’s done, bravo! You made it! Take a break before you re-read it!( Seriously, don’t try to revise right away. NO GOOD CAN COME FROM RE-READING TOO SOON).

NaNoWriMo 2.0

It’s almost that time of year again! Not Christmas (though that’s soon too!): NaNoWriMo aka that month where writers both love and hate themselves (I suppose a lot of writers feel this way on a daily basis, but for those of us who don’t write as a full-time job, this is a special month).

I did NaNoWriMo for the first time last year, and it was an excellent experience. So, naturally, I figured I’d do it again this year.

Just like last year, I’ll have to end early because I’ll be leaving the country at the end of November and would like to have 50,000 words submitted before then. Unlike last year, I’ll be unemployed for most of the month, so I don’t really have an excuse for not finishing.

Last year, I took a short story and “expanded” it – by which I mean, I started to write it linearly, then realized I was running out of time and sort of skipped parts in the middle so that I could write the last two chapters. This year, I’m re-writing my first completed novel, Fireworks, start to finish.

It took me several weeks to decide what I wanted to write for NaNoWriMo 2014. I narrowed it down to four ideas, then asked Ro to pick one.

About a month ago, I decided I needed to re-write Fireworks. In the middle of the night, I realized that if I changed one aspect of the story (what if Max was the one who came home, not Olivia?), then it would make the whole story a lot tighter and would fling the reader into the action a lot faster (I worry a lot about pacing). Then, just as I was trying to figure out whether or not it was worth it (sidenote: if you come up with an idea that’s going to make your book tighter, it’s always worth it), I came across this article from Writer’s Digest and it pretty much sealed the deal. It’s going to be a lot of work – changing that one detail forces me to re-write pretty much every chapter – but if it makes the story more enjoyable, then I’m willing to put in that extra effort.

So, for most of November, if you need me, I’ll be sitting in my living room, wearing pyjamas, surrounded by notebooks and the occasional scrap paper, and alternating between berating and congratulating myself.

I can’t wait to get started.