7

Long Time No See : On Writing a Book, Getting Engaged, and Being Away for So Long

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Hello everyone! ♥

It’s been a while since I last posted anything here—a sentence I realized I’ve been saying A LOT in these past two years. I know, I know, I said I’d be back around last year but it turned out that balancing blogging with working full time was difficult. I admire every single one of you who does this! And to top it all off, I don’t have any internet connection on my place so it’s very inconvenient to have to use my mobile internet or wait until I’m home for a reliable internet connection.

So, I’m not gonna say I’m back for real today. I’ll maaaaybe pop up every now and when I get the chance 😛

A lot has happened since my last post and I seriously can’t wait to tell you about it. I dedicate this post for my personal ramblings so you’d know what I’ve been up to lately—something you have probably guessed from the title.

I finished writing a book

I have always dreamed of being a published writer ever since I was little and a couple months ago I finally sent in my final draft to the BIGGEST traditional publisher in Indonesia—no kidding, I aimed high. If after 6 months I don’t hear back from them, I’ll send the draft to another publisher BUUUT finger-crossed I’d get lucky with this publisher!! I feel good and super proud with the story and I’m obviously gonna let you in on a sneak peek 😛

It’s not  this story I actually finished that one but wasn’t satisfied and felt like I needed to write more to complete it so I dropped it about a year ago and haven’t really picked it up again since. This was a new idea altogether. One day I was scrolling through my twitter timeline and read about the divorce of a celebrity couple and I read a lot of nosy comments from random people on the internet and suddenly I was inspired. As soon as I got home I wrote down all my ideas and the next day I started writing and didn’t stop until I finished the first draft—took only 2 weeks which was surprising compared to my previous attempt.

The story is about two co-workers who are super close with each other. The girl is kinda famous on the internet and has tonsss of followers on her instagram. She recently broke up with her long time boyfriend, which then triggers reactions from her followers. To distract herself, she starts to spend time with her coworker—mostly for work related things but also for non work related things but once the guy appear on her instagram story, her followers start to get wild with questions. Since then her life becomes a wild, roller coaster ride of social media frenzy—which is a lot to take for someone who cares so much of what other people think.

I’M ENGAGED!! ❤

Can you believe that I’m engaged??? Me neither it felt soooo surreal hahaha 🙈

I realized I almost never talked about my romantic relationship here but since this is a big one, I think it deserves a mention in the post. We held the engagement party on February 2, filled with all of our families and closest friends and it was one of the happiest day of my life. I mean… I don’t know, he’s proposed before and we’ve talked a lot about getting married but to actually be there on the engagement day??? Felt like something finally clicked to me. I was a little nervous but also super excited 😀

As for the party, I did the decorations by myself—with the help of some family members. I was satisfied to channel my creative juice while also saved a lot of money because boy party decoration is super expensive!! I thought of maybe starting a party planning business but that’s a discussion for later 😛

Here are some snippets from our happy day ♥

Now we’re busy with wedding preparation. It’s sooo stressful and has created a lot of tensions especially between my mom and I but I try to enjoy the process as much as I can and not to let my emotions get in the way too much. Wish me a beautiful, lovely, and stress-free wedding! 😀

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Aside of those major events, my life has been pretty basic. I still go to work full time, doing more or less the same things every day. Sometimes I get bored, but sometimes it’s exciting and I just try to do my best. I try to go home every weekend because I realized that the older we get, the less time we have for families and I just… don’t like it. So I try spending a lot of time as possible with my family—even if it means I have to go back and forth between the two cities and my place has become a total mess due to my lack of cleaning time.

I’ve also been reading a lot lately, but mostly local new adult books. They’re just so light and quick and I had so much fun reading them. I also read a few contemporaries that I hadn’t had the chance to read all this time and it’s so relaxing to finally got back into my reading rhythm. Other than reading, I also spend a lot of my spare time watching series—my current favorites are Brooklyn 99 season 6 & Sex Education!

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I guess that is it! I don’t have much else to talk, so now it’s your turn! What have you been up to lately? What’s going on in the book blogging community while I was away? Catch me up on it! 😀

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18

Post Hiatus: 6 Things I Miss the Most from Blogging

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Hello everyone! 

How are you today? I’m currently swamped with work after a long Eid holiday but look at me here, I managed to post again and not relapse into my hiatus 😛 I have a little confession though, finding the time to blog while working full time and not having reliable internet connection is HARD. I admire any of you who’s been doing this all the time and I hope I could keep this up and settle into a comfortable routine soon.

Aaaaanyway, today I’ll be talking about things I miss the most from blogging. After more than a year neglecting Sparkling Letters, there are plenty of things I miss from blogging 😦

Without further ado, let’s get down to the list!

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Putting down my thoughts into words

Ever since I was younger, I’ve always considered myself a writer. I blog, I write short stories, I attempt writing a novel, and even in my darkest and saddest moment, I poured my feelings through writing. It’s a therapy. But writing doesn’t always come easy, sometimes you know what you want to say but you have a hard time writing them down. Or you just can’t find the right words. Or you’ve done writing but somehow you don’t like what you just wrote.

Blogging is a good practice—a really good one. Through blogging I get used to translating my thoughts and feelings into words and in the process I expand my vocabulary, I discover my preferable writing style, and most importantly, I find my voice.

After a year of not blogging, I realized I was a little rusty. There were times I had a hard time composing long work emails. When I tried to continue writing my first draft, I couldn’t get the words flowing. When I wrote for fun, I just… didn’t completely like my writing. And there are some instances I couldn’t find the right words to explain things—even my English vocabulary is deteriorating 😦

Having people read my thoughts

Let’s be real, even if we write for ourselves, it’s nice to have audiences, isn’t it? 😛 I LOVE my readers and I’m always happy when they take time to read my posts and share their thoughts about it afterward. It’s rewarding to know all the effort you spend for that post is worth it ðŸ˜‚

Interacting with other bloggers

I think I speak for everyone here when I say the best part of blogging is THE PEOPLE! I mean, you get to meet people from all over the world who share the same interests with you 😀 it’s difficult to find bookworms in real life, so I always cherish my online bookworm friends 

Losing my blogging friends is one of my biggest fear from getting back into blogging. A year is a plenty of time for things to happen on the internet, what if they forget about me? If I’ve dropped by your blog, you may have noticed that sometimes I started my comment with “do you remember me”. It’s more than just ice breaker because because I’m honestly scared to just barge in your post being all excited and enthusiastic and there you are thinking, do I remember this person? ðŸ˜‚ also I noticed that there has been a lot of changes : people who were active before no longer are and there are lots of new bloggers. 

P.S. I can’t wait to talk to all of you 

Being in the loop with the bookish community

Still related to my point before, I realized I’ve fallen so out of the loop with the book community 😦 during my first few months of hiatus, I still tried to maintain communication with my blogging friends through twitter. But then I started running out things to talk about—mostly because I no longer read. And soon I just… stopped. I stopped sharing stories and I don’t know, I guess I got too wrapped up in my routine.

But I still followed you all, you know. I never unfollowed anyone, so I watched the interaction between my blogging friends. I saw what they’re talking about, but I felt irrelevant. I don’t read the books they’re hyping, I don’t know those new authors they’re talking about, and there are a lot of new bloggers I just didn’t know.

You know that feeling when you’ve been away from friends for too long and things change and it’s just too awkward for you to join now? That’s pretty much how I feel and the reason I shy away from people. But now that I’m back to blogging, I can’t wait to rekindle those friendships and start some new ones 😀

Being excited to read and review

Remember the time when I read like 3 books per week and regularly post reviews of them? Yeah, me neither. It seems like a long time ago ðŸ˜‚  I have to admit : I love reading from when I was a kid, but blogging about the books I read actually motivate me to keep reading. When I was blogging, I always want to read the latest releases because of the hype—and frankly to ramble about them on my own blog.

But when I wasn’t blogging : 1) I didn’t even keep up with the latest release, I had no idea that my favorite authors are publishing new books. 2) I didn’t get the hype. 3) I’m too lazy to read because where’s the push? It’s not like I’m going to review it afterward 🙈

Coming up with fresh ideas regularly

Like it or not, having a blog forces you to be creative. It’s like running a magazine. You have to constantly come up with original post ideas, take pictures, play around with designs, and interact with other bloggers. It’s a constant challenge, but I like it. During my year of blogging, I have to say I’ve come up with several amazing & highly original post ideas that I’m proud of 😛

And that feeling motivated me to keep looking. I did regular brainstorming to come up with fresh ideas, but now? I’m running out of ideas. I grabbed my blogging notebook and looked at the list of post ideas I’ve had so far : most of them are no longer relevant, or overused. So, yeah… I think going back into blogging will get that creative juice flowing again ðŸ˜‚ 

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We’re finally at the end of the post! Phewwww it’s been a while I write anything this long 😛 Anyway, those are all the things I miss the most from blogging. I’m sure there are more, but that’s all I can think for now. Have you ever gone on hiatus before? If so, what do you miss the most from blogging? LET’S CHAT! ♥

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24

I’m BACK!

Copy of EDITORIAL CALENDAR (1)Hello everyone! ♥

It’s been over a year since my hiatus announcement on April 2017 🙈 what I initially planned as a couple-of-months-hiatus turned out to be a year long hiatus because I got carried away with… well, life. If you read this post you’d probably remember that I had a REALLY rough start on my job. What’s with the bad place, hot weather, and super slow internet connection that’s definitely not cut out for blogging ðŸ˜‚

Now it’s been a year and I can safely say I’ve settled in—though not perfectly because I’m not loving my city that much. ANYWAY, here are some updates on my life, in case any of you wants to know 😛

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Quarter Life Crisis. I had no idea what the deal with quarter life crisis is until I experienced it myself. I can’t actually describe it but around the first few months of moving out of the house and starting this job, I has this hollowed and restless feelings about my life—in general. I felt like I needed to make a decision about something but it was just so difficult and I had no one to rely on, which eventually led me to realize : this is adulthood, isn’t it? Being on your own and only having yourself to rely on.

It was also a little difficult for me to establish friendships in the workplace. I just figured out that workplace friendship is… different. Idk if it’s just me but it’s definitely not as deep as my previous friendships. Also about friendship : I was kind of sad to part ways with my best friends. We used to do most things together and now we all have our own lives that it’s so hard to find time to meet. So I guess I was lonely. And I spent a lot of nights crying. Took me a couple of months to snap myself out of this and just try living my current life as best as I could.

Work Life. My first year of working was occupied with this HR Transformation Project. It was exhausting but I got to know so many people from our company—which is amazing for a new kid like me. After the project ended, I was in this gray area where I didn’t really have any responsibilities. I hadn’t been assigned any new tasks so basically I just did what my superiors told me and it was boring af. Also there was a rift between our boss and us so it was messy.

At the end of last year I was transferred from Headquarter to Plant at the exact same position. I got super busy but the roles are clear so I called it a win. Also I had to say goodbye to my coworkers and start adjusting again but so far I really enjoyed it ♥

Social Life. The previous paragraphs have probably summed up the fact that I have very little friends at work but that’s okay because I have accepted it. It’s all about quality not quantity, right? 😛 also now I’m used to befriending people way older and with different background from me. ALSO I got myself a boyfriend!! Hahaha we’ve been together for 6 months and I’m happy. It’s kind of something I found when I was definitely not looking so it was a pleasant surprise.

Reading Slump. I guess this wouldn’t be surprising but I’ve been caught up in this vicious reading slump for a while. I was too lazy to read and I couldn’t even finish A BOOK for a long time. I’ve probably only read a total of 5 books in this past year—what a sad statistic. However, there are so many new titles I want to read and I thiiiink I’m finally ready to jump into the reading bandwagon again. Cross your heart, guys.

So that’s a recap of my life so far.

I’ve been thinking about going back into blogging for a while now but I still have no Wifi at home (I’ve grown accustomed to it) so it’s kind of been holding me back. But a couple of weeks ago I was browsing something work related when google directed me to a wordpress page and it was logged on my account. I clicked the notification and I found that my blog isn’t completely dead. I still have visitors and receive comments regularly (though the numbers are significantly lower than when I regularly blogged) and I was reminded of how much I love this blog. I’ve poured so much love and work for this and somehow it kinda motivated me to come back 😛

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Nothing’s set in stone yet, but here are my plans so far :

  1. I’m gonna start reading regularly again. I’ve been collecting a lot of contemporary books—and yes I’m obviously gonna start with contemporary because it’s light and easy to get in the mood for. Any 5 starts read you’d love to recommend?
  2. Going back to blogging, but with less posts than before. I really enjoy writing and sharing my thoughts with you all. However, since I still don’t have regular internet connection, I’m probably only gonna post once a week— when I’m home, find a coffee place to blog at, or manage to find some time to steal during lunch break at the office.
  3. No more book photography 😦 I enjoy taking pictures but it requires so many efforts that I just couldn’t do anymore. I don’t bring camera and that many books to my place and there’s no good place to take pictures anyway. I’m gonna have to get creative with designs to keep this blog attractive.
  4. Bloghopping is gonna take a backseat this time 😦 I always get so busy with my job and if I’m not working I’m probably out or passed out on my bed, so there’s not much time for bloghopping. BUT I’m gonna try to bloghop whenever I post or from my phone during commute to and from work 😀

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So that’s all that’s been going on in my life so far. How are YOU? I’ve missed you all so much and I’m so excited to be back 😀 I’ve been out of the loop for a while so TELL ME, what has been going on in the bookish community? What are your current favorite reads? Do you still remember me or have forgotten about me? 😂Hahaha let’s chat! ♥

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69

Reviewing on Goodreads and on the Blog: is There Any Difference?

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Hello everyone! ♥

Welcome back to another discussion post 😀 today we’ll talking about reviewing books on different platforms and if there’s any difference between them. A few weeks ago I stumbled across a blogging tip post that talks about the difference between reviewing books on goodreads and on our blog and the blogger said that it should be different. It surprised me a little because I’m that kind of reviewer who practically copies-and-pastes my goodreads reviews to my blog 😁 Continue reading

9

The Evolution of My Book Photography Style

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Hello everyone! ♥

If you do book photography—whether it’s for your blog or bookstagram or both, you must have taken some times to experiment with your photography style before eventually finding one that you’re comfortable with. To be honest, this is an ongoing process. You never stop experimenting because even if today you have found your favorite styles, you might find another favorite in the future. Especially if you’re someone who’s always looking for the next best style. Like me 😛

As you’ve seen from the title, today I’m gonna show you the evolution of my photography style 😀

Style #1 : The Simple Flatlay

I started out taking pictures of books long before I created my instagram account. At first I used my phone because it was simple, and I didn’t think I would need more options—the ones that camera provides. My first style was super simple! They’re all flatlays of books with a few of my stuffs. 

That was pretty basic and practically required no effort to set up 🙈 while some bloggers/bookstagrammers could pull off this simple style effortlessly, I failed miserably 😂 I wasn’t satisfied at my pictures. I hated looking at the empty spaces and I always had this urge to fill those empty spaces up, which is weird because if you look at my blog design, it’s all about empty white spaces 😛

Style #2 : The Origami Phase

After realizing the fact that I hated empty spaces, I started to look for props to make my pictures look more cluttered. At first it was difficult because when I looked at those pretty pictures on instagram, everybody seemed to use expensive props like candles, funko, etc. Some bookstagrammers successfully used random items as their props but when I tried using random items on my pictures, they looked like… well, random items 😂 it was very discouraging ahaha that was when I discovered the magic of origami ♣

Spoiler : I didn’t make those paper stars. I can’t 😂🙈 buuut I did make the origami flowers and butterfly. They’re very easy to make! This is also around the time when I started using my brother’s DSLR. I didn’t understand a single thing about it though, so I only used automatic hahaha it was pretty satisfying for a newbie.

Style #3 : The Graduation Flowers Edition

I’d always wanted to use flowers as props but to have to buy them myself ONLY for props sounded… absurd. And redundant. No judging any of you who does, but I’m cheap and I don’t want to spend money on things that don’t last 😂😂 but then the day finally came for me to use flowers as props! Remember how I got so many flowers on my graduation day? Those flowers served as my props, at least while they last 😛

I actually really liked this aesthetic! It’s pretty and I love the colors, especially because the flowers came in so many colors I basically had so many choices.

Style 4 : The Drying Flowers

Like I said above, flowers don’t last. I put them in a vase of water but still, in less than week they started to dry. But hey, drying flowers still make good props, right? So I thought. I started using them as my props and while at first they looked great, I started to dislike them rather quickly.

The thing with using dried flowers as props is they made the pictures looked a lot darker than I preferred. Compare it with the pictures above, you’d see the difference. This was the time when I started to experiment with manual setting, because as you see, the pictures are dark 😂 I wanted to brighten them, but unfortunately (or fortunately?) automatic setting didn’t suffice. So I had to learn to play with ISO, aperture, and shutter speed 😛

Style #5 : The Autumn Vibes

There’s really no stopping the flowers from dying, so one day I asked my friend about what to do with my flowers because I didn’t want to throw them out. She told me to pry all the dried petals and put them in a jar, it would look pretty, she said. It was actually a good idea so I started prying them, but then halfway through it I realized these dried petals would be great for props! I mixed them with my paper stars and voila ♥

I also started to experiment with props and used random stationery items for my pictures. Thankfully they blended well enough and no longer looked like random items 😂🙈 I called this autumn aesthetic because with all the dried petals and flowers, they created an autumn-ish vibe. Maybe. I don’t know, I’m a tropical girl and we don’t have autumn here 😛 anyway, I was pretty content and I stuck with this style for a long time… until something dreadful happened.

Style #6 : The Extinction of the Dried Petals

Sometimes in last September or October, I completely lost ANY desire to take pictures. I can’t remember why, maybe I didn’t have any inspiration, time, or was simply lazy. But I went for a few weeks without taking any pictures. During this brief hiatus, I stored my dried petals in a shoe box and it was closed. Fast forward a few weeks later, I suddenly wanted to take pictures and when I opened my shoe box, the dried petals were humid and covered with mildew. I freakeeeed 😂😂😂 honestly it felt like a step back because I lost a vital prop and didn’t have anything to replace it yet. So I started taking pictures with my usual style—only without the petals.

I really didn’t like this style, I thought it looked so boring. I started using my origami paper to spice things up. It worked, but it didn’t look like my style at all. It only lasted a few pictures before I tried on another 🙈

Style #7 : The Dried Petals Replacement & Return of the Flowers

I spent some time thinking of something to replace my dried petals then one day I went to the bookstore and found some dried wooden skins in arts and crafts section. It was a bit overpriced but I bought it. And while I was at it, might as well buy some flowers, or so I thought. The color is more white with less autumn vibe but it worked so well. I really liked this aesthetic, too bad it didn’t last long because the flowers (inevitably) dried 😂

Style #8 : The Fake Flowers

I was so done using flowers only to have them dried a week later so I decided to buy fake flowers altogether. If I was gonna spend money on it, might as well spent it on things that last, right? 😛 at first it was kind of difficult to set up but after some times experimenting, I started to really love this style. This is actually the style that I still use 😀 I’ve experimented with the set up and props ever since but my general aesthetic remains the same.

So you see, it took me a while to finally settle on this current style. I’m probably not gonna stick to it forever, but for now I’m pretty satisfied with it and have no intention of changing style anytime soon ♥

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Alright everyone, that was the evolution of my book photography style! I went through roughly 8 styles before settling with my current style. Which one do you like best? What about you, did you do a lot of experimenting before finding your perfect style? I’d love to hear your thoughts! ♥

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78

Figuring Out Your Perfect Blogging Schedule

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Hello everyone! ♥

Today we’ll be talking about blogging schedule. I know a lot of you must have had your own schedules, but when I talked about it on my wrap up post last month, a lot of bloggers said that they still haven’t figured out their own schedule and they really want to change that. So here I am, sharing what I learned so far about things to consider when you want to create a blogging schedule 😀 

Before we start, let me make it clear that there is no one right way to blog. You can post whenever you feel like it. Any schedule (or no schedule at all) could work, as long as you’re happy with it. But if you’re a super organized, perfectionist bean like me, here are some suggestions that might help ♥ Continue reading

73

Sparkling Letters 1st Blogversary : A Statistical Analysis & Lessons Learned

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Hello everyone! ♥

Last week Sparkling Letters just celebrated its first year blogversary on March 2. YAYYY!!! However, I had no idea how to celebrate and was swamped with work, hence the late celebration. Plus I already had an ARC review scheduled for March 2 🙈

I know everyone says this on every blogversary post of ever but I never thought I’d be here for a while. Blogging has always been my hobby since I was 14 (I’m 22 now) but I did it sporadically. I thought this time would be no different. I thought it was gonna be just another phase that I’d outgrow soon. But last week I hit another big milestone : 1st year blogversary. I mean, IT’S HUGE! A lot of things had happened in a year and I’m proud of myself and my achievements. Continue reading