Top 5 Travel Tips

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As summer soon approaches, so do summer travel plans. Whether you are travelling stateside or planning to travel abroad, these tips will help you be prepared for your vacation.

Tip 1: For domestic flights, the best time to buy a ticket is six to eight weeks before the desired date of travel. And the best day to buy a ticket is on Tuesdays at 3pm. The reason for this, is airlines release their flight rates on a weekly basis on Mondays, so Tuesday is when airlines see each other’s prices and reduce their prices to be competitive. And if you are traveling internationally, then the best prices will be eight to ten weeks out from the desired date of travel. Just make sure to check that your travel dates don’t align with any domestic or foreign holidays, as this will increase the price of the ticket as well as the pricing and availability for hotels.

Tip 2: Subscribe to airline/train/coach buses newsletters. However you plan on travelling, subscribe to these newsletters as they are always competing to give you the best offered price and deals on tickets. I like to fly with Alaska Airlines domestically, and once a month they send me a newsletter for very cheap flights which require me to pick dates up to two months in advance. When I lived in Europe, I subscribed to Eurostar which also offered a similar newsletter deal for cheap train tickets to certain destinations.

Tip 3: Buy tickets in advance. This may seem obvious, but if you can buy a ticket online in advance then do that. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying more on the day of. I made the mistake of buying a train ticket from London to Paris the day of and it cost me 4x the normal price. But since the train was already full, the only ticket option available was first class. And this applies to all types of tickets. For example, if you are planning to go to Disneyland/Disneyworld, then buy the tickets online since they will be the same price in person and then you get to skip waiting in another line.

Tip 4: Research what you want to do/see and where you want to eat. I use Pinterest to look up free activities to do in cities I travel to, as well as where to find vegan restaurants. What’s great about Pinterest is that there are a lot of blogs linked to the site, and if you are searching for cities then a lot of these blogs are written by locals, which means you can make the most of your travels by visiting the city like a local and less like a tourist. And I’ve used this for everything, from finding vegan food to getting step-by-step directions using the metro in Paris.

Tip 5: Try to plan to do 1 or 2 things a day, but nothing more. Whether this be sightseeing at two spots or visiting a museum followed by dinner, this minimal planning will make your vacation feel less stressful and more enjoyable. To plan on doing one or two things allows time for traffic and travelling from spot to spot without any rush. It also allows you to feel accomplished if you get to do everything you set out to do. If you plan to do 5 or 6 things a day, you’ll find it harder to fit everything into your schedule and end up feeling rushed or you’ll feel disappointed that you didn’t get to do everything.

I hope these tips will help your vacation be more affordable and less stressful. And Bonus tip, make sure to pack a capsule wardrobe to make the most of your suitcase. You can read a step-by-step guideline on how to create a capsule wardrobe for your suitcase here. Make sure to check it out and to follow these tips to make your next vacation a relaxing, stress-free holiday.

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How to Pack for Spring Break

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For Spring Break most people travel to celebrate and welcome the warm spring weather. If you are planning on travelling this month or next month for Spring Break, then keep reading to check out how to pack the easiest and best suitcase to help make your travels hassle-free.

The best method I’ve found for packing a suitcase is the 5,4,3,2,1 Packing Guide. Thanks to apairandasparediy.com for introducing me to this method because it has helped me travel throughout Europe while I live there. And once you use this method, you’ll never go back. This method is essentially creating a time capsule wardrobe for your vacation. I find that this wardrobe lasts about one week without washing, but if you bring laundry pods/laundry detergent packets then this suitcase can last you for weeks. For your suitcase, you pack 5 tops (make sure to include one jacket), 4 bottoms of your choice (shorts, pants, jeans, skirts, etc.), 3 dresses and/or rompers, 3 shoes, 2 swimsuits, 2 bags, 1 hat, 1 watch, and 1 pair of sunglasses. This packing guide just makes it so direct and easy to pinpoint exactly what you need. But also, one last thing to make sure to pack are 7 pairs of underwear and 7 pairs of socks.

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Now that you have a list of your essentials, here’s a few more tips on how to pack everything so it fits perfectly in your suitcase.

The first thing you should pack are your shoes. Place shoes foot-to-toe in the bottom of your suitcase to save some space and to ensure that your suitcase is balanced. Two ways to cover your shoes and avoid the dirt from the bottom of them getting everywhere is to 1) lay a towel over the shoes to serve as a barrier (plus, if you are staying at a hostel remember to bring a towel since most hostels don’t provide them) or 2) if you have a plastic bag you can place them in there.

The next thing to pack are your socks. Put rolled up socks inside your shoes to help save space and preserve the shape of the shoe while inside the suitcase.

Next, you will pack your clothes. Roll clothing up and then se are compression bags to squeeze air out of the clothes. If you don’t have air compression bags, then use large gallon size plastic bags instead. These are just as helpful. When choosing which clothes to bring invest in wrinkle-free, light-weight clothing that you can layer. Pack clothes with a similar color palette so you can mix and match outfits.

For toiletries, pack travel-sized toiletries that are 3 ounces are less. The best and cheapest place to find these are at the Dollar Store. Also, make sure to double-bag toiletries to prevent spills. If you bring a razor with you but you don’t have a protective case for it, just use a binder clip over your razor blade to preserve it and prevent you from getting nicked.

For all your wires, chargers, and cable cords, use a pencil case or sunglasses case to store cables in your carry-on or suitcase. If you’re travelling internationally, don’t forget to bring an adapter (a multi-plug universal adapter is one of the best options).

And don’t forget your bags/totes/purses. Even if you think you won’t need two bags, it’s a good idea to still pack a couple of totes so you can put your toiletries, wire cables, accessories, souvenirs, etc. inside your bags to keep everything organized and stored safely in a conserved space.

One last thing I like to do is place dryer sheets inside my suitcase to ensure that my clean clothes don’t take on the odor of the dirty clothes. And this packing list will last you for about a week, but if you want/need it to last 2-3 weeks, then bring individual packets of laundry detergent (or laundry pods), so you can wash your clothes on the go.

I hope this packing guide and these packing tips will help make your travels a little easier, so you can focus on a fun and relaxing vacation this spring break.

Photos courtesy of @michelletakeaim and apairandasparediy.com

Book of the Month: A Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

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February is known as the month of love since Valentine’s Day falls in it. And what better book to pick for this special month than an LGBTQ, historical-fiction The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee. This glamorous book manages to fit the first-love of a young gay boy set in Europe in the 1700’s into an action-adventure story.

As the book jacket explains, “Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.”

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Set in the 1700’s, this novel somehow explores many modern-day themes and issues. In fact, I like the comparison of Monty’s grand tour year as the equivalent of the modern-day gap year young adults take after high school before embarking on their studies in college. This book also uses the historical setting to present modern-day themes that today’s YA genre would want to read in a book. These include child abuse (Monty’s relationship to his father, Lord Montague), alcoholism and gambling (Monty’s prolific lifestyle), racism (demonstrated through Percy being high-born yet also being a black character), disabilities (as seen in Percy’s epilepsy and the stigma that comes with his illness), sexism (Monty’s sister Felicity faces sexism as her gender undermines her intelligence and skills in medicine), and LGBTQ (which is illustrated in Monty’s sexuality and his crush on Percy).

I think what impressed me most about this book was how modern it felt within the constraints of the historical narrative structure. I really enjoyed the setting, it gave a fresh take on the similes used in the novel. Sometimes, after reading page after page of YA, you can come across a lot of the same metaphors and similes, but due to this novel’s setting I felt like I was coming across new comparisons that showed off Lee’s writing skills yet perfectly tied into the world-building of this story. It adds this charming, glitzy, old-world glamour feel into it.

The other great thing about this book is how it feels like it’s a little bit of everything – romance, comedy, action, adventure, murder-mystery, historical-fiction, and gay/LGBTQ. And if you like books that travel to other countries, then I highly recommend getting the audio book version of this novel. I listened to this book as an audio book and the voice actor did such a fantastic job at creating these authentic accents for all the various characters ranging from British to French to Spanish accents was just amazing and delightful to hear.

If you are a fun of captivating characters, then Monty is the right guy for you. Lee created such a strong, unique voice in the character of Monty. She manages to capture this entitled, sassy teenage voice right from the beginning while simultaneously making you like it. But this only makes it so much more wonderful for the reader to see Monty’s transformation from the exploits and troubles he endures along the way.

If there is one thing I would critique, it happens to be something that also ends up working in favor for the novel’s plot. I thought the grand tour would be more of this glamorous trip but ended up being a fleeing escape since they are on the run and less of a tour. I felt disappointed because it wasn’t what I had expected, however it also worked in favor of the reader because there was no guessing where this story was going. I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen next and I couldn’t ever guess the next thing that would happen. It felt truly unpredictable in the adventure/action portion of the plot, yet the romance side of it however was plenty predictable but in a good, happy-ending kind of way.

If you are in need of some good humor, some witty banter, and fun all-around then this book should definitely be on your To Be Read list.

Vegan Eats: Las Vegas

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You would think in a city nicknamed “Sin City” that your odds of finding vegan food would be as low as your odds of beating the house. When I think of Vegas, the last thing I think of is vegan food. But my assumptions were wrong because it turned out that this devilish city found a way to make vegan food delectably sinful.

Las Vegas is a very accommodating place to people from different backgrounds, including dietary backgrounds. People from all over the world come to Vegas, so it makes sense that this city would be accommodating to all sorts of customs. But one custom that Vegas is known for is their buffets. That’s right, Vegas even has a buffet with vegan food.

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My first recommendation is The Buffet at Wynn Las Vegas. This buffet is known for being very luxurious with only the best and freshest food. This buffet has captured the attention of many meat-lovers, but the reason it has captured my attention is because it’s the only buffet with a vegan menu. As you enter The Buffet, you are immediately transported in a colorful, playful room where flowers float from the ceiling and tea kettles and other kitchen objects are ornately arranged with flowers in bouquets. It feels a lot like stepping into the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Alice in Wonderland. And after being seating, your server will take you to the buffet, which spans over 4 rooms, where you will be introduced to the head chef. The head chef will then give you a personal guided tour of the buffet pointing out what is vegan, since many items that are vegan have to be requested at stations since they are not displayed. My favorite thing was the vegan cranberry muffins, which had these airy, delicious rice-Krispy-like cereal bits in it. I also had the vegan blueberry pancakes, which were amazing. But, you can customize the pancakes to be whatever you wish, I just happened to order blueberries in mine. I tried the vegan matcha chia pudding which was very interesting and different from anything I had before. And if you are a juice or smoothie enthusiast, then you’ll love all the concoctions they make here. I think I must’ve had four of them. This buffet has any and everything you could possibly ask for.

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So, for my second plate back at the buffet, I had the vegan sushi which I customized with cucumbers, carrots, avocado, and pickled cabbage with a side of veggie spring rolls. And for dessert I had the chocolate and raspberry sorbet with a vegan chocolate chip cookie. As you can see, I made sure to get my money’s worth out of this dining experience. Eating here for breakfast will set you back at about $25 per person, but if you are a big eater like me, then you’ll get a lot of tasty food to fill you up for the day.

Vegas Fun Fact: Steve Wynn (owner of the Wynn and Encore Las Vegas) is a vegan, which is why all the restaurants in his hotels have a vegan menu in addition to their regular menus. All you have to do is tell the hostess that you would like a vegan menu. Make sure to check out these restaurants menus online to see what might interest you. I’ve heard the steakhouse at the Wynn has an amazing truffle risotto and a delicious Portobello “steak.”

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My next recommendation is a place that is more suitable if you are with a group that might not eat vegan, but you do. In the Grand Canals at The Venetian, there is a great restaurant called Black Tap Burgers. It’s a great spot to grab a good burger and beer, but what’s surprising is that they offer a lot of vegan options as well. I ordered the Vegan Burger which comes with a black bean patty, vegan mayo, pickled onions, salsa verde, and cilantro with a side of fries. And, if you are gluten-intolerant, then you can also order your burger with a gluten-free bun. This burger was surprisingly juicy for a black bean patty and the salsa added a fun twist to an old classic. Although fries are a classic side to the burger, I decided to try some of their other snacks and sides that also happened to be vegan. I shared the teriyaki broccoli which is seasoned with ginger, garlic, sesame, and scallion. And, because I couldn’t resist one more side, I also had the crispy brussels sprouts which came with a sesame-tahini dipping sauce. These sides were just as amazing as the burger, so make sure not to skip these extras. They also have other vegan options like their burger bowl served with quinoa and a black bean patty, but I think I had some of their best vegan options here. The really nice thing about this place, is I could comfortably get what I wanted while my non-vegan husband ordered a regular burger. And since it’s in the Grand Canals, you get to see one of the coolest and unique place in Las Vegas.

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My trip to Vegas was short and sweet, so I didn’t get a chance to try every vegan restaurant, however, listed below is a list of other restaurants in Las Vegas that have vegan menus that I’ll definitely be trying next time I visit.

  1. Fine Dining Vegan Restaurants at the Wynn Las Vegas include: Costa Di Mare (Seafood), Lakeside (Seafood), Mizumi (Japanese/Sushi), Tableau (American), SW Steakhouse, Wing Lei (Chinese/Michelin Star Restaurant)
  2. Fine Dining Vegan Restaurants at the Encore Las Vegas include: Andrea’s (Asian-inspired cuisine), Sinatra (Italian)
  3. Casual Dining Vegan Restaurants at the Wynn Las Vegas include: Allegro (American-Italian), The Buffet, Charlie’s Bar + Grill (Sports Bar), Le Cave (wine pairings with food), Red 8 (Chinese/Thai/Korean/Vietnamese), Terrace Pointe Cafe (Breakfast/Brunch)
  4. Casual Dining Vegan Restaurants at the Encore Las Vegas include: Jardin (American cuisine), Wazuzu (Pan-Asian)
  5. VegeNation – Located downtown Las Vegas, this place offers a wide-ranging variety of vegan options from Vietnamese Pho to African Yam Stew to veggie burgers all at an affordable price.
  6. Yard House – Located on The Strip, this American burger joint offers vegan options with Gardein meat-substitutes in their burgers and street tacos at a cheap price.
  7. Pancho’s Vegan Tacos – Located on the Eastside, this place offers up vegan tacos for all those taco lovers out there.
  8. Panevino – This Italian restaurant offers a plant-based menu for both lunch and dinner. Located in Southeast Las Vegas, the restaurant offers cool views of the Vegas skyline.

Vegan Eats: Sonoma, California

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Sonoma County is mostly known for its rolling hills covered with rows of vineyards. However, it’s becoming one of the biggest hubs for vegan and vegetarian restaurants in the Bay Area, second to San Francisco. For this post, I am covering three different cities that are within Sonoma County. So, wherever your wine tasting adventures may take you, I’ve got you covered. Let’s dive into the tastiest vegan eats Nor Cal has to offer.

First up is a vegan restaurant in the quaint town of Sebastopol called Slice of Life. It’s nestled next to Whole Foods, so it can easily be missed or overlooked. But this is a place you surely don’t want to miss. There is a wide range from which you can you can order here. Some of the local favorites include: Tofu Rancheros, Kale Caesar Salad, Mushroom Stroganoff, California Tempeh Reuben, Queso Dip (made from cashews) with blue corn tortilla ships, Nachos, Vegan Pizza, and the Nut Burger served with sweet potato fries. I ordered the AvoFresco Sandwich which was jammed full of two layers of avocado mash, carrots, pickled red cabbage, sprouts, and lettuce. This was a very filling yet healthy lunch option also served with a vegan coleslaw. I love a good sandwich and this one is packed full of veggies, so if you are a garden salad lover then this is the sandwich for you. I also had the sprout salad topped with an avocado dressing. As you can see, avocados are a main staple in a Northern Californian’s diet. And for dessert, I had the raw blueberry cheesecake, which this place is known for. There are gluten-free and oil-free options on the menu as well. The dishes range from $5-$12 and since they only use fresh local organic ingredients that means you are getting a good deal to eat healthy.

My next suggestion is a vegan drive-thru in Rohnert Park called Amy’s Drive-Thru. If you miss those days of eating at In N Out or other fast-food chains, then Amy’s is a great option for you. Amy’s might sound familiar to you because this is the same company as Amy’s Frozen Food which is headquartered in Sonoma County. Most of Amy’s frozen food products are vegetarian, but what’s cool about Amy’s Drive-Thru is that there is a whole menu dedicated to vegan options. Just be prepared for a long line, this place can get busy. But the staff does a wonderful job of keeping the line moving and getting the food out fast. They are mostly known for their burgers, chili (vegan) cheese fries, non-dairy shakes, vegan mac n cheese, and vegan pizza. So, since I was craving my non-vegan days at In N Out, I ordered The Amy Burger (with vegan cheese), fries, and a non-dairy chocolate shake. This place does not disappoint. It satisfied all those fast-food cravings I had. The pricing is comparable to other burger joints and that’s impressive since they only use local organic ingredients.

And for my last recommendation, I suggest an Ethiopian restaurant located in Santa Rosa called Abyssinia Restaurant. I first came here many years ago with my husband and his parents. This place is great for vegan and meat-eaters alike since they have options for both. While my husband and his parents ordered the beef combo, I ordered the vegetarian combo. Served on a traditional ingera bread (a thin flat bread) are beans, lentils, a garden salad, and sauces seasoned with spices and flavors that made this dish taste very rich and complex. To eat this dish, you simply tear the ingera bread and scoop it up using your hands. I loved the experience of eating with my hands and the dining experience I shared with my family tasting this culture new to me. For about $15 a person (meal and drink included), you get a great deal on traditional African food.

Places to Eat

  • Slice of Life

6970 McKinley St, Sebastopol, CA 95472

  • Amy’s Drive-Thru

58 Golf Course Dr W, Rohnert Park, CA 94928

  • Abyssinia Restaurant

913 4th St, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Closed Sundays

New Year, New Goals

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In my last post, I referred to new year’s resolutions as a reason for many people changing their diets this time of year. Weight loss is the number one new year’s resolution, but it’s a hard one to keep since true weight loss requires you to change a lifetime of poor habits.

I’ve never been a big fan of the concept of new year’s resolutions, mainly because I’ve always associated them with failure. I don’t know anyone who’s ever stuck to their new year’s resolutions. So, I prefer the term goals. By its definition, the word goal means to have an end or a desired result. So, for the new year, I’m creating new goals for what I want to get out of 2018.

Keep reading to see how I plan my new goals for 2018 and how I’m going to accomplish them.

Goal 1: Eat Healthier

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This is a goal most people try to accomplish with the start of a new year. I’m not trying to lose any weight, but I am trying to reduce how much processed food I eat and to decrease my overall sugar intake. I already eat a vegan diet which helps me get my fruit and veggies in, but I’ve noticed that I’ve relied a lot more on vegan junk food that is highly processed and usually high in sugar. The way that I am achieving this goal is to just cut out what I know is bad for me. No more vegan junk food like potato chips, vegan desserts, and sodas. Instead, I’m replacing them with fruit. If I crave chips, I’ll make myself baked potatoes with seasonings. Same thing, way healthier option. If I crave vegan chocolate chip cookies or vegan desserts, I’ll have fresh fruit like strawberries. And if I crave sodas, then I’ll make a fruit smoothie. The key essential things to do with changing your food habits is to reduce the amount you eat out (so you don’t cheat) and you stock up your fridge. These two things will help you stay focused and not get distracted with other, lesser, food options.

Goal 2: Save Up For A Car

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Believe it or not, my eating healthier will actually save me a lot of money. By staying in, instead of eating out, I will eat out less which means I’ll be saving more money. And this helps with my next goal because my husband and I want to purchase a new car by the time our insurance expires at the end of June. This gives a time line of when we need to buy a car, which motivates us to start saving immediately. In fact, we started saving last month in December. The best way to make a new goal work is to just start it, no need to wait or procrastinate, just start it today. And make sure you plan out how much you can realistically save up each month. My husband and I looked at our last paychecks for the month of December and budgeted how much bills, rent, etc. are for the month and how much we have remaining. So, our goal is to save $2,000 per month. And last month, we did extra good and doubled that and saved almost $4,000. So, we are already at a great start which is good because it propels us forward. And while we are saving, we are researching and researching like crazy for our next car, which constantly reminds us why we are working so hard to save money.

Future Goal Ideas

Those two are the only goals that I have made my definite goals for 2018, but I plan to add a few more as the year goes on. However, I know that things change and so may my plans. As long as you are open-minded and flexible you can add as many new goals for the new year as you want. Here are some ideas that I have (which aren’t set in stone) that I hope to implement in 2018.

  1. Go to my mom’s for Christmas.
  2. Save up to go to Bahamas with my mom and siblings next year for Christmas break vacation.
  3. Plan weekend get-away’s with my husband
  4. Visit my grandparents in California (in February)

And I’ll add things to the list as the year goes on, but for now this is all I want for the new year. I hope you have a great start to a new year and that you get to achieve your new goals too.

Ordering with Positive Affirmations in San Diego

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There are many fashionable trends when it comes to food, like fad diets, Instagram arrangements, and crazy ways to eat your food (remember the chew each bite ten times before you swallow?). What about ordering your meal using a positive affirmation instead of naming the dish? In San Diego’s Little Italy, a couple of restaurants are integrating positive affirmations into the ordering process and I got the opportunity to try them out and see what it’s like to say “I am adventurous” instead of saying “I would like the French Toast, please.” So, pack your bags as we head to San Diego for some good-positive-vibes vegan eats.

Click here to read more about Vegan Eats in San Diego.

And if you missed Part 1, click here to read it.

Vegan Eats: Charlotte, NC

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Whenever I think of good southern comfort food, I’m easily reminded of Charlotte, North Carolina. And North Carolina loves to boast about its heavenly BBQ. My dad and his family live in Charlotte, so I’ve had many wonderful opportunities to try all the delectable vegan eats in this beautiful southern city. So, come on y’all. Let’s get our eat on!

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Click here to read more.

5 Things I Learned at Writer’s Digest Conference 2017

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  1. Stick To Your Story

It’s easy to get caught up in your writing and naturally drift away from the heart of your story as you start to navigate the world you are building. But, is everything you’ve written related to your story, at the heart of what you are trying to write? Or, are you just writing it and keeping it in your story because you’ve written it, regardless if it fits the story or not. I guess, as Hemingway says, this is the part where you must kill your darlings – delete anything that’s excessive or unnecessary to your story, which is probably the hardest thing to do but is also the most important thing you can do for your writing. But sticking to the story not only applies to your short story or your novel but also relates to your query letter. Don’t go on and on about your book, your experience, your credentials, etc. Stick to the story by only giving the agent/editor the first act of your novel. Give them enough to know what your book is about but leave them wanting for more. It’s not easy to make a perfect pitch, but aim for 50-100 words, because as I learned from agent Janet Reid, the whole query letter should be less than 250 words. So, stick to the story.

  1. Raise the Stakes

This was something new I learned at the conference about how to keep the story going and alive throughout your novel. Always put in conflict, especially at the beginning. If your beginning doesn’t have a type of conflict (emotional/physical/spiritual) then that’s not your beginning. Keep writing until you get to that point of conflict/crisis where your character must make a choice/ a decision about what they are dealing with – that’s your beginning. To make your story feel like a page-turner, throw in conflict every 20-40 pages to either add more conflict to your character’s journey or to raise the stakes for their current dilemma. As Laura DiSilverio said, work with the “what could be worse?” mindset. You must be willing to make your character’s lives miserable. To increase conflict in your novel, make sure to define your protagonist’s goals/needs in each scene, provide opposition to these goals, give the illusion of progress, surprise with setbacks, and when that’s all done then think “what could be worse?” You’ll be surprised with what you may come up with.

  1. Revise in Layers

This seminar by Gabriela Pereira has forever changed my outlook on the revision process. I felt like I have been editing my novel/work wrong my whole life, until now that is, which is why I’m sharing this process with you because I’m sure it’ll change the way you think about revisions and edits too. Instead of going through your manuscript one page at a time and tinkering with little changes, you need to revise your manuscript multiple times but each time only focusing on one thing. First, focus only on narration: can you distinguish between the narrator and characters? (The answer is yes; you should, even for 1st person) Is your voice consistent or does it change from scene to scene /chapter-to-chapter? Next, focus on just the characters: is it clear what protagonist wants/needs? Is your protagonist making choices, or do they seem more reactive than proactive? Then, focus just on the story: do you know where your characters are heading? Is that clear? Does your story rush up at the end in a giant rush with little room for closure? Next, focus only on the scenes: do they all relate to support the overall theme? Does the story feel real? Is there too much description? Is dialogue flat or does it ring true? And for the last layer of revision, focus only on the details: can I express concept/scene in a better way? Did I use right word/sentence structure? Are there typos/errors? It’s a lot to look over, but I feel that after doing this process of revision, your story will be as thorough as you want it and as clearly written as it is seen in your head.

  1. Never Give Up

One thing all our keynote speakers emphasized was to keep going with our writing and to keep being persistent in publishing our books. One of my new favorite writing quotes came from Pulitzer Prize winner, Richard Russo when describing how to keep writing when you feel like giving up: “Every time you think the tank is empty, (you’ll find) the writing was putting more gas in the tank.”

  1. Make Friends/ Contacts

The orientation at WDC17 encouraged us to go from introverted writers to extroverted social net-workers. And, in doing so, I feel that I have made great contacts with wonderful writers who get the difficulties of the writing process and truly understand the writing journey of taking ideas and voices in your head and creating worlds out of them onto paper. So, I’ve learned it’s really important to be engaging with fellow writers and hopefully you can be each other’s critique partners and/or beta readers in the future.

Vegan Eats San Diego: Part 1

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Last month, my husband and I had the opportunity to travel to San Diego for Comic Con and while we were there we were told by both locals and friends to check out some of their favorite restaurants that they swear by. And lucky for me, not only did these places have vegan options, but sometimes they had entire vegan menus. I was most surprised when people who were not vegan, like our Uber driver, recommended their favorite restaurants which turned out to be entirely vegan. I wonder if my Uber driver knew that the soul food plate at Kindred didn’t actually have real chicken fried up. Either way, my non-vegan husband and I can definitely attest that the restaurants we tried in San Diego had the best vegan food we ever tasted and we can’t wait to go back someday to have seconds!

Click here to read more 🙂