reading

Officially Jumping Off The Hype Train

20 Books And Cats Photography - Meowlogy

Okay, not literally jumping, don’t worry. Since the “hype train” isn’t an actual form of transportation, that probably should’ve tipped you off, that I’m not anywhere near any sort of dangerous behavior…rather, that I’m about to go on a rant. About a very real bookdragon issue, that affects us all — falling prey to overhyped books that turn out to just be…well, bad for us.

Hype is a double-edged sword. Sometimes we wouldn’t have found out about a book or author we turned out to love if it wasn’t for hype. But, sadly, more often than not — at least for me — hyped titles fall absolutely flat, and it just kills me anymore. I’m afraid I’m in the mood to crush what will doubtlessly be a favorite for someone…but I believe we all know by now I am a persnickety bookdragon. (And quarantine is grating on my nerves, so this is how I’m going to release some of the pressure, not gonna lie.)

A Man Called Ove:

Amazon.com: A Man Called Ove: A Novel (9781476738024): Backman ...

I’m very aware this is a big hit with a lot of readers, and in theory, I could see why — it’s the quintessential grumpy old man in the neighborhood whom everyone secretly loves, and eventually his grumpiness fades, and there’s a heartwarming turn. In theory. Listening to the audiobook, I got about halfway through the story before I threw in the towel. The writing was just ugh. The overdramatic, unrealistic plot, and overuse of tropes did me in — it’s one thing to start every chapter with, “A Man Called Ove Goes To The Store And Gets Pissed Off At Stupidity”, but to constantly refer to the narrator as A Man Called, and make sure he NEVER learns his neighbors’ first names was just aggravating. I was also pretty disturbed by the graphically-described attempts at suicide, and really feel this title should come with a big, bold trigger warning slapped right across the cover. A complete NO from me.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek:

The Book Whisperer Recommends a MUST Read: The Book Woman of ...

I can’t even count this one as “read,” since I didn’t finish it. But I am totally counting it as a hyped title that’s now going viral in terms of “everyone has to read this!”, and I wanted to throw it against the wall by page 25. Couldn’t even make it to the part where they started discussing the mobile library serving very rural areas of the American South in the early 20th century — because that sounded truly interesting. But when you’re claiming blue-skinned people existed in Kentucky (um, o-kay), and try to sum up the science for such a mutation in approximately 2 paragraphs…AND before we reach chapter 3, the narration describes in detail finding a hanged body, a marital rape, and inducing a miscarriage following that… Well, I knew I was out.

How To Stop Time:

Amazon.com: How to Stop Time (9780525522874): Haig, Matt: Books

To begin with, the title isn’t accurate — the narrator is basically immortal, but time keeps moving on around him. And he was SO whiny and hard to like. None of the characters really stood out to me. And what was even the point of the Albatross Society? They didn’t seem to have any reason to exist as an organization, since they were apparently just there, telling people what not to do with their immortality. Lame. I did slog through to the end of this one, hoping it would get better. Can you already guess what my answer is?

Children of Virtue and Vengeance:

Amazon.com: Children of Virtue and Vengeance (Legacy of Orisha ...

This one hurt, I won’t lie. Despite Children of Blood and Bone being far too long, I did enjoy it, and was excited to learn there was a sequel. But it turns out I shouldn’t have bothered. The characters were the worst versions of themselves, as if all the growth from the first book hadn’t even happened, and all the thrilling tension of following the plot that kept me going through all 500+ pages of the original was gone. This story was pretty much random battles broken up by intense, unnecessary angst. So not impressed.

So, after all of this heartache so early in the year (yes, these are my 2020 reads so far!), I will be concretely returning to my resolve that began to firm up late in 2019, to stick with tried-and-true authors for me, try more indies and small press when possible, and simply ignoring the hype to the best of my ability.

Again, I’m really sorry if I bashed one of your favorites; the only constant when it comes to literature is that taste is subjective!

Cats and books. | Black cat art, Cat art, Animal art

 

 

Encouragement

Art Matters

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Yes, it does.

Even while the world is in chaos. Like it is right now.

Even when there’s a global pandemic. Maybe especially during our present circumstances.

We’re struggling to maintain any sense of normalcy, and some of us are actively preparing for the official start of the zombie apocalypse. A lot of creative types, across all disciplines, will be thinking: “What is even the blankety-blank point of finishing my painting/screenplay/novel/musical right now?”

I’ll tell you what the point is.

Art matters. Whether the world is sane and safe, or messed up as blazes and very turbulent.

It gives us beauty and order in the midst of ugliness and chaos.

It reminds us life isn’t always this bad. And that people are capable of producing more than fear and hate, pain and agony.

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Art provides a safe space to explore all those nasty but necessary discussions on politics, prejudices, humanity’s failings and our own personal obstacles, and how all of it could get better. By indulging in literature, music, theatre, dance, we allow ourselves the chance to dream and to reach higher.

Think of those who came before you, which influenced your own creative pursuits. Our current artistic endeavors will inspire the next generation to do the same, to attempt more than a repeat of past mistakes, to strive for a truly new future.

Hint: You don’t have to write a dystopian novel about a thinly-veiled COVID-19 outbreak to make an impact in this direction.

And your medium doesn’t have to be realistic to accomplish this. Particularly in moments of great duress, fantasy appeals to the masses, and, really, with little wonder.

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Art also helps us gain a little, much needed, perspective. We don’t have to focus on the mega-crisis all the time. Other aspects of life are still important, and taking an hour to catch up on your favorite series, or learn what happens in the next chapter, or to sketch a dog chasing a ball make all of that seem more real.

One day, the mega-crisis will be resolved, and then we have to have something to go back to. It’d be great if we never completely left it to begin with.

So, while you’re wondering if there’s a point to your art among all the other stuff going on, here — just, stop. Don’t give up on your art. The world needs it now, and will need it in the future.

Keep writing, drawing, painting, singing, dancing. We’ll read it, swoon over it, sing and sway along.

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Autism, health

Why Ableism Hurts Everybody

Desert

Why, yes, I am starting with such a controversial title.

This is a topic I’ve been wanting to tackle for a while. Now, remember, some of this is purely my opinion, but much of it is general consensus by the #ActuallyAutistic community, so while it’s still subjective, it should be accepted as good authority on the subject. And I’m warning potential trolls right now, I will not hesitate to block you.

Because, while everyone is entitled to their own views, you don’t have the right to tell someone else — who is living a completely different physical and mental experience than you — that theirs are absolutely wrong.

Okay, here we go…

The definition of ableism is someone who is without disability, disorder, or medical condition, and who believes that they are therefore superior to people who do live with any of the aforementioned. As recently as 30 years ago, a lot of “normal” people were kind of ableist without even realizing they were behaving in an offensive way. (Sort of similar to growing up in a culture where many are racist — if you’re not taught differently, you’ll think this is a regular state of thinking. Which is why the cycle has to be broken somewhere. More on that in a second.) Up until the early 21st century, very little was known about autism, learning disorders, various mental health issues, etc. — in some cases even by medical professionals — so terms like “retarded” weren’t considered hurtful or inaccurate.

Nowadays, though, a growing number of the general population knows better. Many doctors and psychologists have reclassified autism from a mental illness or a disease to a condition or disorder. Treatments to help manage anxiety and sensory-perception-induced stress are a lot more common now than even a decade ago. Some businesses, such as supermarkets or theaters, offer “autism-friendly” hours for shopping or attendance, and the lights will be turned down and crowds of people not permitted in.

All of this sounds like society as a whole is becoming more tolerant of the smaller groups traditionally relegated to its edges. Unfortunately, that’s not entirely true.

Too many of our relatives, neighbors, teachers, classmates, co-workers, employers, and random people we may cross paths with still look down on us, feel pity for us, and wonder why we wouldn’t do everything we could to become “normal.”

Here’s the reason this is ableist: Someone believing our lives will be less if we don’t go to the cinema, concerts, sports matches, or even drive in rush hour traffic is unfair and unbalanced. Such a view imposes simultaneous expectations and restrictions on us that we can’t hope to meet, or to be comfortable with. Standards for “average” people are not our standards, so trying to force us to reach them isn’t kind, or in fact helpful. Taking away our comfort zones isn’t beneficial, since most autists put firm boundaries in place to save our emotional and physical nerves. We won’t become “more” or “reach our full potential” by striving to act like “everyone else.”

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There are still too many therapists whose goal is to make sure autistic children appear “less autistic.” Their aim is not to teach kids who struggle with empathy how to walk in another’s shoes; rather, it’s to repress or even remove the impulses that come naturally to us. We stim because our bodies don’t receive and process external information in the same way the bodies of neurotypicals do; we are not purposefully hoping to come off as “weird” or “fidgety.” We tend to avoid or stay away from groups of people, especially strangers, because they’re simply often too loud and confusing for us, not because we’re determined to dislike them and their ordinary-ness. We don’t share their interests or pursuits for a number of reasons, most of which are hardly rooted in disdain or pure selfishness. Many of us hold little to nothing against “them,” and all we ask is to be extended the same courtesy.

There’s an odd disconnect between how society views autism versus other disabilities or conditions. For example, people with physical limitations, as a result of injury or illness, seem to get much more respect than those of us on the spectrum. There have been specialized parking spaces and store entrances and more accessible homes for such circumstances for a while now. But autists are still, for the most part, expected to just walk into stores where the lights are too bright, to live in apartments where the neighbor’s music is too loud, to speak on the phone to a complete stranger to resolve a billing dispute, and just deal with it.

It means that living in a world we have to constantly conform to — in ways that put our health at risk — is difficult, degrading, even dangerous.

We don’t ask to have autism; we don’t choose to be on the spectrum. It seems we’re born there, which means the decision or assignment is utterly out of our prenatal hands. While many of us accept how we are, learn to manage the downsides of our condition, and often even find identity and solace in the way we give our all to our passions and keep trying to pinpoint the bright side of life, we’re also frequently told this is “settling” or “unacceptable.”

I still don’t understand why. And I’m not alone.

Ableism not only hurts autists; ableism shuts out other points of view to the ableists. They could be learning something from us, something that might make their world a lot bigger.

And if we didn’t feel so oppressed by ableism, if we felt welcomed to “come as you are,” could we gain as well?

Tulips

Autism, Encouragement

The Times Are Changing

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It’s not that I absolutely hate change. Change can be good, if there’s a situation or person or circumstance that’s really doing my head in; that altering or coming to an end will actually be beneficial, even if sometimes it doesn’t feel like it right away. But a major part of why autists don’t like change is because whenever something different or new happens, we can’t predict how it will make us feel — physically, and sensory-wise, and that can twist up our possibly already-challenged emotions. So, whenever I’m on the cusp of change — especially when I didn’t start the ball rolling for it — I get rather antsy.

We like our lives to be predictable, for all the aforementioned factors. Unfortunately, there’s also the danger of falling into an unproductive or unhealthy routine, just for the sake of keeping everything the same. And the past several weeks, I’ve found myself getting almost stuck in a pattern that meets basic needs, but doesn’t achieve certain goals. It can also be really intimidating for us to attempt going out of our comfort zones.

This past fall, after a long time of being a stay at home mom and focusing on writing, I started two new, outside-of-the-house, part-time jobs. And it was all good, and I have no regrets. But in the last couple of months, as the new-ness of an unfamiliar schedule became more common, and I realized I could go from thinking of myself in this “new” role to simply…being in these roles, as the dust of that settled, something else showed itself. I was having difficulty adjusting thinking of myself of being in my new roles as well as my old.

I hadn’t just stopped being a mother, or a writer, or a reader, overnight. On the surface, I knew all of that. Just because I had learned to be a library clerk didn’t mean I’d forgotten all my training in childhood development. Teaching ballet to adults for the first time didn’t invalidate or erase teaching it to children previously.

But somehow, the reality of my current situation and the intangibility of thoughts of the past weren’t clicking together.

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Then the other night, I was watching this horrifically boring documentary…and a really great story idea came to me. And I wanted to write it, badly, right then, at nine p.m., when I had work the next day. And all this week, as first one thing and then another and another have gotten in the way of my doing so, I palpably feel the ache of not writing enough.

This was also when it really sunk in, with the flair of an epiphany — whatever else I am, I am an artist. A creative and a creator. Even if I have to have a day job. Even if I get too busy or too tired to pen an entire novel in one sitting or choreograph a 15-minute piece, this doesn’t mean I won’t attempt it one day, very soon.

When you like your schedule to be predictable, reconciling the need for sporadic change — springing from the core of what makes you you — with a set routine can be pretty tricky. Having so many different ideas for projects means I won’t always be working on the same thing. That can be scary. That could put me off starting something new.

And that could stunt my creative growth — and in turn, my personal growth.

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So, I could either give in to the temptation to keep everything the same…stay in my comfort zone…and remain artistically frustrated…or step out and shake things up.

It’s not always easy. It comes with its own obstacles. I might get distracted, have to put aside or revise plans, or let go of smaller ideas. There will very probably be moments when I question the point of doing any of it at all.

But in the end, if I don’t go ahead…that would result in the worst torture ever.

So, I foresee…change.

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Fantasy fiction, reading

The Raven Cycle Revisited

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So, a few months ago, I decided to re-read the 4 books of The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. Initially I read books 1 and 4 several years ago (when each was first published), and I just could not get into the writing style, the characters, or the plot. And quite honestly, this really bugged me, after thoroughly enjoying The Scorpio Races, and being so love in with The Wolves of Mercy Falls that I called it my top trilogy of the 2010s.

So, what made The Raven Boys so different for me? I couldn’t even put my finger on it, but there was an underlying tone to the writing that just seemed…somehow off. It wasn’t until recently, when I found out that Stiefvater had been tremendously ill for a number of years — while trying to finish writing The Raven Cycle — that it clicked.

Not wanting to just give up on one of my favorite authors, especially now that I understood there were extenuating circumstances, I determined that acquiring copies of and reading the entire series immediately was the way forward.

That part was an interesting journey in itself.

To begin with, the first set I ordered had really uneven printing — on some pages, the text was so light, I could barely make out all the words. It became really frustrating, to have to sit in just the right light, at just the right angle and right time of day, merely to be able to follow the story. So I returned that set, and ordered another, from a different store.

I experienced the same exact problem. While it wasn’t as pronounced in this set, and seemed to be mostly confined to books 1 and 4, there were still pages in books 2 and 3 where the words inexplicably faded considerably, then the density of the ink picked right back up in the next paragraph. It was disconcerting, and actually hampered my enjoyment of reading.

It made me sad.

Especially since I had finally found what was missing from my first experience with this series: its heart.

It all washed over me at once: Gansey and Blue are ADORABLE, Ronan is awesome, Adam is such a precious misunderstood cinnamon roll, and Noah’s tragic backstory, just…sobbing emoji. By the end of The Dream Thieves, I was IN LOVE with The Gray Man, the Lynch brothers, SO BADLY rooting for Blue and Gansey to beat their curses, and IT WAS ALL SO AMAZING.

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And then…it all began to fall apart for me in Blue Lily, Lily Blue. *sobs* 

I have mentally gone back and forth about whether it’s mean or not to attempt to objectively critique the work of an author who was very sick at the time of writing. Because my respect and appreciation of the author remains intact — possibly it’s even gone up, knowing that she still managed to churn out bestselling novels despite suffering with serious health conditions.

Which is why it’s a little painful to admit that…the second half of this series falls distinctly flat for me. Evaluating as a reader, I have to say there were many inconsistencies, secondary characters that just kind of disappeared, subplots simply gone away, the introduction of new characters whose purpose was lost on me, and too many scenes that should’ve been pivotal felt either cut short, or the transitions were jumpy and it seemed like there was too much happening “offscreen.” I don’t agree with the direction of some of the character arcs, because they didn’t make sense for me as I was reading, and their choices seemed to come out of nowhere.

It’s why, in the end, I’m still going to rate this series as “in the middle” for my own enjoyment. It won’t probably ever rank up there with The Wolves of Mercy Falls. This does tug on my heartstrings a bit, I won’t lie. I do still kind of wish I could so deeply devote myself to all of the books written by an author who has given me so many cherished moments of laughter and tears.

But that’s also an important part of being a reader: Realizing that you are allowed your own opinion, that the writer doesn’t owe you anything, and making that special connection is worth savoring. We can’t expect every single book we pick up to change our lives. We should relish the ones that do.

And I know I do. Every time I catch a glimpse of the spines of Shiver, Linger, and Forever on my bookshelves, I smile. I sleep on a pillowcase bearing raven feathers and the words, “You are made of dreams.” Hanging from my light fixture is a wooden ornament announcing to the world, “Trees in your eyes, stars in your heart.” I know I’ll read whatever Maggie Stiefvater releases in the future, whether I adore it, or merely appreciate it.

There are so few authors I’ve read in my adult life who have spoken to me on a personal level, letting go because of one or two disappointments is simply not an option.

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books, geekery

…Be A Bookdragon

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There’s this advertisement on my Facebook feed, for a line of merchandise bearing the tagline, “In a world of bookworms, be a bookdragon.”

Apparently Facebook has spied on me enough to know that I like dragons, and that I would, in fact, refer to myself as a bookdragon. Putting aside the momentary concerns I have about privacy, I have to admit: I want something from this line of merch.

I like the statement. I feel it’s accurate.

And I do believe there are important distinction between the terms.

So, just what are they?

HUMOROUS DISCUSSION TIME!

Bookworms love to read. Bookdragons find reading a way of lifeWe don’t just read books we find interesting; we keep detailed, organized lists of what books we should read, and why. We track announced new releases from our favorite authors (yes, to the point of camping out in bookstore entrances at ungodly hours). We don’t just read the books; we then write glowing reviews and post them on multiple social media platforms and share them with hundreds of human beings who don’t even know our real names, but will drop everything to read said post.

We also need to have all the merch based on these precious tomes, and follow the authors on Twitter, and once every spring build a garden statue out of clay that is meant to resemble our newest precious character.

Bookworms learn what foreshadowing and plot holes are. Bookdragons can nail down the flaws in even the most perfect novels, and headcanon our own ways of correcting them. We don’t simply finish a read we’d give 3.5 stars and say, “This was what I liked, and this is what I wasn’t so fond of.” We say, “It absolutely had me up until page 106, the second paragraph down, when the narrator revealed her father actually died in an accident, not from drinking too much lemonade, and that she felt responsible for causing the accident. The reason I couldn’t get on board with this point of view was because her mother had concretely referenced an accident and how it wasn’t her fault back on page 59. She really needs to listen to her mother, and the fact the rest of the story didn’t ever resolve their conflict feels like the writer and editor dropped the ball. Otherwise there would’ve been this amazing scene between the two characters by about page 257, where they aired all their grievances, yelled at each other, and then broke down in tears and hugged it out, and the ending wouldn’t have felt so hollow and bereft of forgiveness and redemption.”

Ahem. What? You know it’s true.

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Bookworms won’t always share their unpopular opinions. Bookdragons don’t hesitate. Let’s be totally honest, though — this is where we get in trouble. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having an opinion (especially since all art is subjective), and there’s also nothing at all wrong with not liking a book 88% of your friends did. However, being nasty about it definitely has its downsides. It is possible to write a very humorous negative review, and people laugh and laugh, and agree with what you’ve said, and you haven’t actually included phrases like, “This author should burn in hell for throwing in a love triangle.”

Seriously. Knock off the more inhumane reactions to books or authors who disappoint or even anger you. Sorry-not-sorry, folks.

Okay, that’s my one lecture in this post.

Bookworms are often also writers, but they may feel more content sticking to non-published formats. Bookdragons are often also indie or trad authors, or reviewers/bloggers that get paid. Now, before anybody gets up on their high horse, I’m going to say this point blank: If you write, YOU ARE A WRITER. Whether you’re a blogger, on Wattpad, you jot down poems in a journal, or can Google yourself and novel titles pop up, it is all you’re a writer. The difference comes in the amount of determination and perseverance. And many bloggers or journalers admit, they aren’t sure about diving into official publishing. And that doesn’t disqualify them, either. Because publishing does take a thick skin (or scaly hide), and it isn’t for everyone who loves to see the written word appear from their own pen or keyboard.

Bookdragons may be more successful in this endeavor because we breathe fire and tend to eat our problems.

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Bookworms collect books they adore. Bookdragons hoard hardcover and paperbacks and special editions of the same exact title, gather all the merch, and scour crafts store sales for the most realistic-looking fake flowers for our Instagram photos. Personally, I don’t do Instagram, but so many of us do, and it is a labor of love. We do share pictures that look great on a limited budget, and we truly flail in delight whenever someone appreciates our hard work. We just can’t help wanting to show others how incredible our carefully cultivated bookshelves look.

Bookworms check news from their favorite authors. Bookdragons have their favorite authors’ newsletter emails placed at number one in Contacts; higher than their parents, siblings, or children. Okay, I’m exaggerating (slightly). But we do get very attached to our beloved wordsmith humans, and will frequently admit to it. Neil Gaiman is just a lovely person who I would happily sit down with for a cup of tea, given half the chance. When I learned of Terry Pratchett’s passing, I sobbed for hours on end. Maggie Stiefvater was recently joking on Twitter about an MRI she had, and I was like, “DON’T YOU DARE!”

Authors who can put into words all the feelings and experiences we thought no one else understood are highly prized treasures, and should be appreciated by the entire human race as the gift from God they are.

*Clears throat and wipes eyes*

All right, that’s my list. Any you’d add, moths?

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self-publishing, writing

5 Years on WordPress?! Notes on What You’ve Seen and What to Expect for 2020

So, the little notification bell alerted me to the fact it is my 5th anniversary of blogging! The fact I had no idea it had been this long probably tells you a lot more, a lot quicker, about my current state of mental capability, than all the whining I could throw down at the moment.

But anyway, when I took a second to consider this, I realized the bell was right. It was a cold, blustery January day in 2015 when I decided I needed to do something different with my life, and took the plunge into unfamiliar territory — social media. I’d determined I really wanted to finish writing a novel and explore self-publishing, and building a base of knowledge and support seemed like a good idea.

Fast forward to now, and not only do I have several publications under my belt, I have met some of the most wonderful, encouraging, compassionate people, who have helped to see me through some intense ups and downs the last few years. Together, we’ve celebrated the highs and pushed beyond the lows; and as someone who constantly battled feeling like she didn’t belong anywhere, knowing (at last) that this is not the case is more valuable than words can explain.

I used to be very driven by establishing my platform quickly and covering as many bases as were possible. I toyed around with the notion of being on every single social media site (ha!), and attempting to cast my net wide to scour the internet for supporters from various near and far areas. Rather soon, I learned that spreading myself too thin achieved none of this. Hence, I’ve limited my online presence to WordPress and Twitter, which tend to do just fine in terms of keeping people who follow me informed of the latest. I may not be getting as much publicity as other indie authors, but since I’m doing it all on my own, maintaining the pressure is much more appealing than seeing my face absolutely everywhere.

Though there will be some expansion coming up. I’m working on (finally) publishing ebooks, and I’m going to make some updates and additions to my current bibliography this spring, too. After agonizing for quite a while (no lie) about how to proceed with this end of my marketing and production, the goal became not how to do this the way everybody else was doing it, but how to do it to my satisfaction. So that’s why this undertaking shall proceed, after all.

And because I’m going to be working more on actual fiction writing and what gets it to the page/device, it means I may not be around here as much as I have been. But there is also something to be said for recognizing when you just can’t handle it all, and determining what’s more important at certain stages of your life.

The one thing that I know won’t change is the ongoing support from my tribe, and this is what matters more than anything else. I probably would’ve thrown in the towel on this whole fancy of actually releasing into the wild the stories I kept to myself for so long without my cheering section. So, to each and every one of you, THANK YOU, and here’s to a great new year!

blogging, self-publishing

Welcome to the Future (of The Invisible Moth)

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Good morning. Did you know that…in a little over 2 days…the decade is ending??

Now, don’t panic. This is not necessarily a cause for concern. I mean, this is a pattern that gets repeated every 10 years, and many of us are still here, x number of new decades onwards, to report that, in fact, life does carry on.

(It does, right?!?!)

Ahem. Yes, it does, really.

I’m generally not one for making New Year’s resolutions, but 2019 was an odd kind of year for my family, and now that we’re finally back into some resemblance of “normal,” I feel secure enough to take a look at how my writing and reading life has been going, and determining what does or doesn’t work anymore.

This reflection means some changes are coming to my platform as well.

Big Change #1: I’m doing away with my hard-and-fast rule of DNF-ing whatever book, whenever, however. 

2017 and 2018 were massive years of not finishing books. It was like I couldn’t find the attention span or the devotion within myself to commit to reading past page 20 and hoping it would get better. And in retrospect, I feel I did a disservice to all those novels I just lobbed into the return box in the library parking lot with a frown of disdain. What if one of them had turned out to be my next favorite?

So, while I’m not imposing a ban on buying books, or a limit on how much I read next year, I am going to stick to books I choose for the monthly library-funded discussion evening, and what Owl Crate gives us these forecoming 12 months. And I am going to finish EVERY SINGLE ONE.

Ouch. The force of that ambition actually hurt a little.

Big Change #2: My blogging schedule will not, in fact, be in any way a schedule.

I have PLANS, and WANTS, and IMPORTANT THINGS to take care of, in Life, the Universe, and Everything, in the very near future. Hence, for the first time since I started this blog, I will not freak out if I can’t get a post beautifully crafted and onto WordPress every 72 hours exactly.

And I’d like to focus more on the sort of in-depth discussions, regarding all types of fandom stuff, that I’ve made a stalwart of this platform in the last couple of years, and really enjoy. Engaging with the community is great, and I’d much rather keep that up than go back to the “same old, same old” of generic-feeling reviews and posts that just remind people I’m around.

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Big Change #3: My publications will not, really, be on a schedule, either, but I intend to make them OCCUR.

There is something to be said for constantly sharing snippets of your WIP with people who are eagerly awaiting its release. Especially if you’re not a big-name author, but big enough that self-promotion, and reminding critics you exist and they liked your previous work, comes highly recommended by your publisher.

However, I found that in 2019, I got so caught up in worrying that loyal readers would simply forget about me just because I hadn’t released any new snippets, news, or even talked about what I was working on in ages, that any joy of sharing the progress and anticipation was totally not there. And that merely added to the already incredible amount of stress I was under, due to Life being a true jackass back in the spring.

So, I’ve made an executive decision: Not attempting to build press or expectations or, really, anything coming up to the actual release of a new book is the way forward. For me. Not that I’d advise it for anybody else or across the board. But there are only so many hours in a day, and in the next 365 of them, I want to ACCOMPLISH a hell of a lot. Therefore, I must manage such accordingly.

I shall be WRITING, rather than building the suspense.

Sorry (not sorry).

Big Change #4: I am plunging into ebooks and wider distribution (aaaaaaaaahhhh, help me!!!).

Yes, I am terrified to undertake this process. Scared of all the digital things that could go wrong, of how many more people could dislike my work after reading it on an electronic device, of how horribly my grand plan could backfire by turning me into the most griped about indie author online.

Cough. Sorry (really this time). This headfirst dive is happening despite all my fears, because I keep getting support and encouragement from friends. (Who really should be made aware now, you may quite possibly have to drag me kicking and screaming to the actual uploading.)

BUT. Not going to lie, I need to increase my marketing, my presence, and my writer’s resume, and this is one of the most common, and overall simple, ways to do so.

Big Change #5: I will be letting someone else handle my next blog tour for a special release or important re-release. 

Yes, both of these types of readings are in the mix, and I’ve decided that I can’t handle arranging ARCs and the promotional stuff right now. So, if you’re a fan of my stuff (thank you!!!), look for news probably in the spring about who’s going to wrangle all of that and where you can sign up if you’d like to participate.

Basically, the biggest aim for 2020 is to complete more and be less stressed. And while streamlining the process will be an adjustment and maybe not easier to begin with, I know that going forward my plate needs to show a little more white under the stuff.

You got that metaphor, right?

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blogging, reading

Love Potions and Other Calamities

Book Cover

Love Potions and Other Calamities

Publication Date: November 7th, 2019

Genre: Fiction, Comedy, Romance

Publisher: Headline

Welcome to the strange world of Rosie McLeod, an amateur detective with a big difference.  Her deductive powers are based solely on the careful preparation and use of plants and herbs.

Love Potions and Other Calamities is pure comedy, with a bit of drama thrown in, as Rosie sets out to discover whether her husband is having an affair and, as the story unfolds, to solve a murder – before she becomes the next victim.

Rosie McLeod, pub proprietor and a gifted herbalist of some renown, is thirty-nine and holding, but only just.  The talons of her fortieth birthday are in her back and her bloody, bloody husband hasn’t laid a lustful hand on her for months.

She has the fortune, or misfortune, to live in one of Scotland’s most famous places – the East Lothian village of Holy Cross, which takes its name from the legendary Glastonbury Cross that was spirited away – and subsequently lost – when Henry VIII purged the English monasteries.  The cross of pale Welsh gold, reputedly buried within the village, had at its centre a fragment of emerald from the Holy Grail.  The story is, of course, complete baloney.

But the association with the Holy Grail and the later witch persecutions of James VI mean that the village is as well known around the world as Edinburgh Castle, haggis or Loch Ness.  It has been described as “the heartbeat of Scotland” and is a major tourist destination – many of whom visit the village with metal detectors, hoping to discover the elusive cross.

However, a sighting of a large, black cat by the local Church of Scotland minister sets off a chain of events that lead back twenty years and, although the villagers are blissfully unaware of it, to a woman’s murder.  The black cat had last been sighted near the village some two decades before, and the minister’s predecessor was sure that it had triggered something evil.  The villagers, of course, think otherwise.

Nothing ever happens in Holy Cross.

I read this as part of this Reads and Reels blog tour. It’s cute, quirky, definitely not your typical British romantic comedy. (Note: Some of the humor is very adult-oriented, so this may not be one for more conservative readers.) The author has a unique style, blending the everyday and modern with the ancient and folkloric. It means that (as long as the mature rating is your thing), “Love Potions and Other Calamities” will be an enjoyable addition to your TBR.

Giveaway!: Signed copy of the book (international!):

Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0e7c6a8f126/?

To purchase:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Potions-Other-Calamities-Charlie-Laidlaw/dp/1786157373/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=love+potions+and+other+calamities&qid=1573147669&sr=8-1

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