I Failed… And That’s Okay

I failed…. And that’s okay.

I had so many plans for this blog for 2020, plans that I shared with you all in this post. Included in all of those plans were plans for some fun posts this February talking about romance in fiction, as well as lots of other plans and ideas for later. And guys, I failed. I haven’t been able to keep up with any of those plans.

A friend once shared this with me: You can do anything, but not everything.

I’ve been trying to do everything. Because I’ve been so busy with high school, preparing for college, work, and life, I haven’t prioritized time to do things that I love: Write, read, and blog. Not doing this has been another failure of mine.

Part of this is because of the pressure that I have put on myself and my blog.

My blog used to be something that I LOVED to do. I loved putting together a post, adding some pictures, and answering comments. But recently, I started putting pressure on myself to be more “professional” and “put together.” I went from sharing my ramblings to trying to create structured posts that people would actually find “interesting.”

All of this takes more time and energy, and honestly, it made blogging less enjoyable to me. I miss sharing my random thoughts and little stories with you all.

So from now on…. I’m going to share more of my stories and more of what I want to write on this blog, not just what I think other people want to see.

I’m not going to be a perfect blogger, and that’s okay. I’m not going to be perfect as I navigate trying to juggle all of these exciting new aspects of my life and trying to keep my priorities straight. I’m going to fail even more, even in my new endeavors. But you know what?

It’s okay to fail sometimes. We’re all human. We’re all bound to fail in some way.

When we do fail, let us remember to give ourselves grace, get back up, and try again (maybe even in a different and better way).

And let us also take comfort and rest in the fact that we serve a God who loves us no matter how we fail, a God who will never ever fail us.

Maybe this is random and scattered (who am I kidding, it is!). But it’s something that I want to share with you all, in case anyone else feels anything like this. If you do, you’re not alone.

Romance Cliches That I Dislike (And Some That I Love!)

Ah, romance in fiction. I’ve got a serious love-hate relationship with it. On one hand, all of the cute moments have me begging for more. But on the other hand, one of the things that drives me crazy about romance in fiction is the sheer number of clichés I’ve read. Some of the clichés drive me crazier than others, and yet some I find myself asking for more of. Without further ado, here are three romance clichés that I dislike and three romance clichés that I love.

Dislike: Instantly Falling in Love

“And then their eyes met from across the room and they just knew that they were meant for each other…” It wouldn’t be entirely untruthful to nickname the cliché of “insta-love” as “Disney-love.” After all, nearly every Disney princess movie has moments of insta-love (although in Frozen, this cliché is flipped beautifully). Yes, attraction happens, but falling in love with someone in a matter of minutes is utterly ridiculous. 

This idea of “love at first sight” is not only unrealistic, but it also is super shallow (and not the smartest thing in real life, if you know what I mean). Who falls in love with someone after a glance from across a coffee shop or a quick conversation about the book you’re reading? How can you know it’s really love if all you know about the guy is that he has nice blue eyes? 

Love: Damsel in Distress

I LOVE THIS CLICHÉ SO MUCH. I blame it on the Disney princess movies that I will never get enough of. Just ask my siblings. But honestly, what can be more romantic than a prince saving his princess from a fire-breathing dragon, a poison-apple induced sleep, a sea-witch, or an evil stepmother?I’M KIDDING I’M BEING SARCASTIC. Or am I? 😉 

I like this cliché because it totally goes against the “strong” women cliché (check out this post to see my rant thoughts). However, I will say that sometimes, this cliché can make women look weak. It has to be done right, or not at all.

Dislike: Love Triangles

Newsflash: LOVE TRIANGLES ARE KINDA DONE. If I have to pick up another book with a love triangle in it, I might cry. Yes, love triangles can be done well (or even be enjoyable), but honestly, we’ve seen it a thousand times before. Nothing seems to have changed. It’s so easy to figure out which guy the girl is going to pick! Not only are love triangles super predictable, but they add weak (and unneeded!) tension to the plot. 

There have been books I’ve read that have love triangles in them just to have love triangles. The love triangle adds nothing substantial to the plot. In some cases, all of that unneeded baggage about which boy the main character is going to the dance with can take away from the story. I don’t want to know about Suzy’s inner turmoil about Eddie and Bob. I want to care about something more than the love triangle in a book and see something more original, something more real. 

Love: Hate to Love

Don’t you love it when two characters start out hating each others’ guts and then end up falling madly in love? I know that I do! Not only is it slightly humorous, but it is also so stinking adorable when it does happen. ESPECIALLY if a good dose of sarcasm is thrown in the mix. For example, Darcy and Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is my favorite hate-to-love relationship. Another book that had a great hate-to-love relationship was Unblemished by Sara Ella (read my review by clicking here). Read it and then we can fangirl together, okay? =)

Dislike: Insecure Girl Meets Prince Charming

This cliché is so common it’s not even funny. We go from a main character thinking that nobody loves them to suddenly meeting their “true love” and then suddenly having extremely high self-esteem levels. In this cliché, characters feel worthless without their love interest. But when Prince Charming comes along, the mirror is no longer as harsh. The critics’ voices become muted. They’re happier. They’re content. They feel worth something, now that someone so wonderful loves them. This is cute, but isn’t this cliché teaching readers to find their worth in what others think of them? 

Instead of encouraging readers to find their worth in what the Lord thinks of them and the beautiful people He made them to be, this cliché teaches readers that their worth comes from having a Prince Charming to tell them how lovely they are. Truthfully, our worth comes from the God who created us and loves us more than we can imagine, not a tall, dark and handsome guy. 

Love: Romeo and Juliet

What I mean by Romeo and Juliet is FORBIDDEN LOVE. But this cliché does need to meet some conditions for me to love it. For example, I actually have to LIKE the characters. Other conditions include their love being forbidden for a good reason. For example, a family feud is not a good reason to not fall in love. Just saying. Another condition is that I would like for it to have a happy ending (I’m looking at you, Shakesepeare). Please. Happily ever afters make me VERY happy. 

What are some romance clichés that you love? What are some that you hate?

5 Ways to Cultivate a Love of Reading in the Kids in Your Life

I’ve loved reading ever since I was a little girl.

I probably wouldn’t love reading as much if it wasn’t for my parents cultivating this love when I was little. And I am so glad that they did! Books have not just entertained me. They have taught me so many things and taken me to so many faraway places and shown me so many truths. My life is better because I love to read.

If you want to cultivate a love of reading in the kids in your life, here are five ways to do it!

Please keep in mind that some kids just don’t like to read, and that’s okay! These suggestions aren’t given in hopes of forcing kids to love to read but to help kids discover a love for reading.

Make books available.

My parents made books available to my siblings and me in nearly every room of our house. A basket of books in a corner, a bookshelf in the playroom…. Everywhere there were books. And we read them. A lot! 🙂

Go to the library.

I loved when my mom would take me to the library, be it for story time or just to pick up some books. The fun decorations and rows of books about nearly anything and everything made me so excited, as did attending fun library events! Summer reading programs were always fun too.

Read to them.

Reading books with my parents is one of my favorite memories of my childhood. We read books ranging from The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones to the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis to If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff. Reading aloud to a child is special, and to a child, being read to is a comforting and special experience.

Set an example by reading yourself.

Seeing my mom read and enjoy it, as well as seeing my father’s multitude of books, encouraged me to read. If you’re reading this post, I’m guessing that you already set a good example by reading a lot. 🙂

Make Reading Fun!

There are lots of ways to make reading fun for kids. Here are just a few ideas!

  • One summer, my mother created a chart for me to track how much I’d read. A certain number of books would earn me a prize, from a small treat to a trip to Starbucks. You had better believe that I read as many books as possible!
  • Do book-related activities. For example, have a snack of muffins after reading If You Give a Moose a Muffin or make fox puppets out of socks after reading Fox in Socks. You can even do stuff like this with books for older kids! Seed-cakes and tea for The Hobbit, creating and acting out a play for Little Women, planting flowers for The Secret Garden… The possibilities are endless!
  • Talk about the books you read! Starting a conversation about books makes them more real and meaningful. Plus, it can be a lot of fun to talk about books and reading.

Did you love to read as a kid? Do you have any tips to share?

Hello, 2020!

Hello, 2020!

I’m a little late to be saying that, but better late than never, right? 🙂

As you all can probably see, Notebooks and Novels has gone through a few changes. For one, the platform is new! I switched from WordPress.org to WordPress.com (more on that in a later post). That means that the blog has a new look too.

I’m so excited for all that 2020 is going to bring!

I have some fun things planned for this blog and my Instagram account, @micaiahsaldana, this year. Here are a few things coming your way…

In February, I’ll be talking about all things romance in fiction on my blog! I’ll be talking about romance in YA and Christian fiction, recommending some good, clean romance novels, and giving some tips on crafting a good romance in your own stories.

I’m going to be creating some resources for young writers ages 8-12. I plan on making writing worksheets and posts that focus on the craft of storytelling geared towards young writers starting out in their writing journey. I’m very excited to be sharing this content with you all!

I’m going to host my first bookstagram challenge on Instagram this year! I don’t know when I’ll launch it, but I’m hoping sometime this spring.

Other fun things coming up include some recipes, mini book reviews, and more posts about faith!

2020 is going to be amazing.

I’m so blessed to have you all along for the journey!

Repost: Giving Thanks in Everything

Thanksgiving is here, and, to most of us Americans, that means turkey dinners, a couple I’m-thankful-for statements, the Macy’s Day parade, and football. It’s easy to be thankful when there’s a giant turkey on the table with all the trimmings, family and friends gathered around in a jolly mood, and your favorite team is winning on the big screen. But what about when there’s no pumpkin pie, fuzzy feelings, or smiling faces? What happens then?

In Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he gives his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ some final instructions before closing. He says this in 1 Thessalonians 5:18:

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Did you see that? Give thanks in all circumstances.

But wait a second there, Paul, you may say. Are you sure about that? Giving thanks in ALL circumstances? What about when my grandma dies or I have to move to another state? What about when my grades are low and my best friend just starts hating on me for no reason? You want me to be thankful when everything is, well falling apart and going downhill?

Yes, actually. That is what Paul is saying.

More Than A Hiding Place by Emily S. Smith chronicles the story of a woman who lived during World War II in Haarlem, the Netherlands. This woman’s name was Corrie ten Boom. The daughter of a watchmaker, Corrie loved Jesus with all of her heart. When WWII came to her country, she and her family helped many Jews escape the clutches of the Nazis (I actually got to visit Corrie’s house and saw where they hid the Jews!). Sadly, the ten Boom family was caught by the Nazis. Corrie and her sister Betsie punished by being sent to a concentration camp, Ravensbrück.

The barracks where the women in the camp slept were filthy and crowded. Lice was a big problem amongst the prisoners. One day, Corrie complained to Betsie about their living conditions. And do you want to know what Betsie said?

“You must thank God for everything, even for the lice.”

And guess what? Those lice are the one thing that kept the German guards from searching the barracks. Therefore, Betsie and Corrie could hide a tiny Bible that they used to hold Bible studies twice a week in the barracks, even though the Bible was forbidden. The women of Ravensbrück found hope in the Word and studied it eagerly. It was then that Corrie learned to be thankful for even the lice.

Give thanks for everything. Isn’t it beautiful that a woman who’s been through so much can give thanks for a thing such as lice in the filthy barracks of a concentration camp?

Give thanks for everything. Give thanks in all circumstances. Two radical challenges in today’s world.

This Thanksgiving, I want to challenge all of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to give thanks for everything no matter the circumstances. To adopt an attitude of thanksgiving for all we’ve been richly blessed with, though it may not seem like it at the time. Turkey or no turkey, great circumstances or not-so-great ones, let us all take Paul’s instruction and follow Corrie’s lead.

It’s God’s will for us in Christ Jesus, after all.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever.”

2 Chronicles 20:21

Be sure to check back next week for some more of my thoughts on thankfulness and for practical tips on cultivating a life full of gratitude, even after Thanksgiving! In the meantime, I want to know… What are you thankful for?

An Update on My Critique Services

I never saw myself writing this post.

When I started offering my critique services, I expected to be critiquing stories for a long time to come. However, this past year, I’ve learned a lot. One of those things is that I can do a lot of things, but I cannot do all the things.

I’ve been trying to do everything, but really, I can’t do everything. I can’t juggle working and schoolwork and writing my own stories and prepping for college and critiquing other stories at the same time. Working on critiquing other people’s stories has taken the place of working on my own stories.

So, I’m afraid that I’m officially closing down my critique services.

I’m okay with this. When I first had the idea, I wasn’t okay with it. I thought that this would be like giving up or admitting defeat. But really, this is me saying that I can’t do all of this. But I can focus on doing the things that

Of course, I don’t plan on quitting on the few stories that I am currently helping out with. But right now, I’m going to let myself not do everything.

It has been an honor and a pleasure reading and critiquing your stories.

I’ve been so honored by the people who have come to me for help with their stories, and I have loved having a small part to play in helping them make their stories shine even more.

Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll critique more stories.

But for now… Farewell, critiquing. What a wonderful journey it’s been!

5 Books to Cozy Up With This Autumn

Autumn is, in my opinion, the perfect season for reading.

The cold weather, the cozy sweaters, the warm drinks in whipped-cream topped mugs… What could be better weather for snuggling up with a book? To help you find a great book to read this autumn, here are five books to cozy up with this autumn.

Fallen Leaves by Tessa Emily Hall

Selena Taylor has a fresh start in Lake Lure, but can she reunite her broken family by finding her father and brother?

One look at the cover of this sequel to Purple Moon is all it takes for one to realize just how perfect of an autumn read Fallen Leaves is. And not only does the cover scream autumn, but the story itself has so much autumn in it. Needless to say, if you’ve read Purple Moon, read this. If you haven’t read Purple Moon, read Purple Moon and then read this. 😉

Buy Fallen Leaves on Amazon ~ View Fallen Leaves on Goodreads

Just One Thing by Anna Schaeffer

Sadie Grey made a new life for herself in Georgia, but can she start over in Seattle?

This sequel to All of This has a beautiful cover that just screams AUTUMN! I’ve just started reading Just One Thing, and I can already tell you that it is really good! I should have a review coming to Goodreads soon. In the meantime, click here to read an interview with the author, Anna Schaeffer.

Buy Just One Thing on Amazon ~ View Just One Thing on Goodreads

The Hidden Deep by Christa Kinde

Homework, apple pies, football, autumn leaves, and… Angels?

The Hidden Deep is perfect for readers who love a dash of fantasy. Actually, the whole Threshold series is amazing for anyone. My sister Maya and I LOVE these books (I spelled love in all caps because that’s how much we LOVE THEM). The Threshold series was one of my favorite series when I was younger, and after rereading the series this autumn, I love it even more. ❤

And yes, it’s a sequel. I need to stop recommending sequels….

Buy The Hidden Deep on Amazon ~ View The Hidden Deep on Goodreads

Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin

Alice Grace Ripley came to eastern Kentucky to get away from small-town gossip, but a mystery, a kind old woman, and a rather odd library keep her there.

Really, Wonderland Creek is a great read for any time of the year, but I find that reading it at this time of year, autumn, makes it even better. I mean, mountains, librarians, mysteries… Doesn’t that scream autumn to you too? If you can’t read Wonderland Creek, or really any of these great books, this November, be sure to read them soon!

Buy Wonderland Creek on Amazon ~ View Wonderland Creek on Goodreads

This Quiet Sky by Joanne Bischof

Sarah Miller’s life turns upside down when she befriends Tucker O’Shay, a boy with a fatal illness.

This is another tale that is wonderful during any time of year, but even more so during the autumn season. Be sure to have a box of Kleenex and a plate of shortbread cookies nearby while reading this. Click here to read a review of This Quiet Sky.

Buy This Quiet Sky on Amazon ~ View This Quiet Sky on Goodreads

What is a book that you would like to read this autumn?

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