blogging, writing

Update on Summer Complications, Anticipations, and Howls and Grumblings (Or, Why Do I Feel the Need to Do This?)

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Okay, for some reason (guessing at insecurity and a lack of ability to doubt my genius) I am having some issues with the following:

  • Writing, reading, and processing each well. 
  • Coming up with original content for blog posts.
  • Not feeling like an utter failure at the indie author/social media thing for struggling with the above.

Also, Volume 2 is a bit ticked at me these days. My characters are beginning to wonder why I left them hanging (not being able to finish that chapter for the past week and a half). And the ideas for my additional compendiums are beginning to poke me in the ribs while I sleep.

So, I’ll be giving in to all of this finally, and be proactive about attacking it head on.

Translation: I expect not to be seen very much on social media for a bit. I’ve already scheduled several re-posts for the month of July. I will be around to keep up on comments, and the blogs/authors I subscribe to. But otherwise, I will be invoking a little “radio silence.”

In the meantime, I’d greatly appreciate if you all keep visiting, and sharing your excitement for Volume 1, and have a little patience with my current creative process.

If all goes well, I’ll be back with new posts, and a new finished draft, before summer’s out.

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blogging, community, writing

The Decision Has Been Made

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There will be no Camp NaNo happening here this July. I have too many plans for Volume 2 to complete it on such a strict time limit as one month.

There will also be no memes or tags or regular themed, er, things for the foreseeable future. I have a short but intense TBR and discussion posts plan to work my way through.

There will probably also be less Twitter. I honestly love my Twitter community, and I will certainly be checking in with them. But the, you know, random sort of feed-reading that occurs all too often, when we’re really supposed to be doing something else (like sleeping, or writing) — that’s getting to me. It’s becoming a bit overwhelming. Not healthy.

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As the true summer approaches (it doesn’t feel like it’s started yet, since we haven’t finished the school year here), there are also other things that will happen — like children’s schedules changing — and the time for new errands begins — hopefully trips to the Farmers’ Market and the park and breaking out different recipes… As I mentioned earlier, I may be around online less in general soon.

But one of my major priorities is completing my Warriors TBR (before the new releases in the fall), and finishing Volume 2.

And I can’t even explain why I feel guilty for having made these choices! Please tell me this is normal blogger/online presence guilt, and it’s not just me?!

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So, expect to see something in this space once or twice a week for the next couple of months.

We shall still discuss bookish topics and fawn over lovely cat pictures.

Snippets from Volume 2 may even appear.

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blogging, community

Some Announcements, Summer “Plans” and Foreseen Issues (Which May Cause Howls and Grumblings)

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Okay, okay, I promise to try to reign in the long post titles for a while.

So, my apologies for not being around much the last few days — I’m on the downside of a cold (that hit me much harder than anticipated), White Fang is officially in his last full week of school for the year, and Muffin is…well, being Muffin. (The other day, while I was trying to rest — because I couldn’t breathe or walk faster than a turtle — there was an incident with a misbehaving toddler and baby powder. It was not pretty. And it did wonders for my stress level, of course.)

Anyway, so along with being busy, and sick, and knowing that while the sickness won’t last (thankfully), I am very aware that my schedule over the next couple of weeks isn’t calming down just yet.

Also I am seriously trying to finish my draft of Volume 2, and that of course takes time and effort, and ideally the rest of the world just going away for a little bit.

So, if I don’t make regular appearances here for the short-term future, all of this shall be why.

As of now, White Fang is slotted for a camp in July (and we have yet to obtain summer clothing that fits — thanks, growth spurt). We’re still waiting to hear about an actual start date for Muffin at preschool. Otherwise we’re not expecting to go anywhere (though that would be nice, as we haven’t had a formal vacation in quite a while).

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Whining aside, still more extremely positive reviews on Masters and Beginners: Volume 1 are popping up, and I am very excited and humbled. If you haven’t yet obtained your copy, remember, there are still subscription boxes available (which means free gifts), and I do have an ebook (download-able to various sorts of computers, tablets, etc.), which at the moment comes with my short story collection at no extra charge. Do see my heading or sidebar for my contact information, so we can discuss paying and shipping or email and all the things related to this notion.

Okay, I am really bad at the self-promotion. Many, many thanks to all who have so far read and enjoyed Volume 1 and are encouraging others to follow their lead.

I am also planning to participate in Camp NaNo in July — whether this shall actually happen remains to be seen.

And eventually I will conquer my summer TBR. It’s been intensely shortened, to make it muchly realistic for my life.

Especially since, once fall approacheth, there shall be major shakeups headed my way.

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Enough on that right now. I am going to have two months in between. Remember that, Moth…

And so, not that it’s really exciting, I proceed to start catching up on neglected chores and tasks that must be fulfilled, regardless of the state of my health…

May your summers be wonderfully glorious and blessed with seashells and windchimes and cloud-free skies.

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blogging, community, family, writing

Half-Year Wrap-up

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HOW IS IT JUNE?!?! 

Ahem.

Okay, back at the beginning of this year (*sobbing over not yet developing the Time Lord gene that allows me to slow down the passage of months*), my plan was to post a wrap-up every 4 weeks, summarizing the past 30 days. In no way, shape or form did that come to fruition. (Hmmm, actually, maybe I squeezed out one — in the recent re-design of my layout, some things got shifted, moved, maybe cancelled…?!)

All right, trying again: So I’ve elected instead to attempt a half-year wrap-up. (Then I don’t have to worry about doing it again until December…)

Also, lately we have some new faces around here *waves* *thank you!*, so this could be a good way to catch up, too.

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JANUARY: It was my second blogiversary! I have now officially been blogging for well over two years!

FEBRUARY: White Fang (my oldest son) turned 14 on the 15th. He’s an accomplished YouTuber, and does well in school, and is famous in our community for having read almost every single publication in the Warriors series. (It’s where his screen name comes from.) His current obsession, er, hobby is Minecraft. For those of you who may not know, he’s on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum, and I do still remember when he was a little baby.

MARCH: This month passed in pretty much a haze of storms, specialist meetings for Muffin, and preparing for my printing and official launch of Volume 1.

APRIL: April was a big stinking deal around here. On April 21st was the official release of Masters and Beginners (Volume 1 of the Order of the Twelve Tribes). It’s the first novel in my YA contemporary fantasy series (say that 3 times fast), and so far it’s receiving rave reviews in the blogisphere and on Goodreads. I am immensely pleased with this.

(If you’re interested in obtaining your own copy — paperback or digital — of Volume 1, see the blatant advertisement in my heading or sidebar.)

I participated in Camp NaNo for the first time. I reached my target word count, but the end result sucked (in my very biased, first-person-author view). Well, at least I know now what I don’t want to do with Volume 2… My revisions are so far going pretty well, and my plan for the future is to make July’s Camp NaNo Volume 2 Attempt 2.0. (Does any of that make sense?)

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MAY: May kind of blew by for me, as I had more meetings for Muffin, lots of editing to consider, TBR-trimming to do, and little things to arrange for White Fang before the end of the school year arrived.

JUNE: Last night was White Fang’s final chorus concert of the year. He starts final exams next week. Soon he will be finishing middle school. (Insert parental wailing here.)

Muffin turned 3 on the 3rd. He is a busy little guy. For several months now he’s been receiving speech therapy, and on his 4th or so round of physical therapy. By September, he’ll be enrolled in a preschool program for special needs children.

At present, he is obsessed with How to Train Your Dragon and dinosaurs.

And there we have it! Hope you’re all having a pleasant spring, moths!

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blogging, family, Fantasy fiction, music, writing, Young Adult fiction

Currently I Am…

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…thinking that I’ve never done one of these, and it would be a good way to catch up.

busy, which is why you haven’t heard much from me this week.

…wondering when Muffin is going to get over his obsession with watching the same 3 movies over and over and over again.

So, here’s a brief summary of my life at the moment:

Between the holiday and a family illness, my whole schedule was thrown off.

Muffin has been insisting on not napping, and waking up by 6 a.m.

He will be turning 3 tomorrow, and I have no cake mix, no presents, and no plan.

I’m trying to find just the right song lyrics to complete the “moods” of my outlining for the rest of The Order of the Twelve Tribes (yes, through Volume 4), and my brain has decided to make this sound — kersplush.

Oh, and the library called, and they actually need to borrow the DVD I just checked out for an afterschool club today.

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More details on writing:

I am working on Volume 2. My goal is to complete the revised draft (because the initial draft was the biggest hot mess) by the end of July’s Camp NaNo. (I was shocked to see a message from NaNo about July, but then I realized, hey, maybe that will give me a better framework for getting these shenigans together.)

I’ve also concretely chosen to make the “canon” — the major story, focusing on Sophie and her family as the protagonists — only Volumes 1-4. Then I will compile short stories, novellas, field guides and the like (of all the other ideas I have for ways to explore this world/the secondary characters/their history) into two sets of “Chronicles” or…eh, yeah, I got nothing else right now. But you get the idea.

Reading:

I just finished (at White Fang’s insistence) The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles DeLint. I have mixed feelings… If you follow me on Goodreads, you can find my thoughts on it in my “read” shelves or my updates.

I’m struggling through Dawn of the Clans (Warriors). Book 3 nearly killed me, folks. So I’m taking a break and hoping to finish Apprentice Cat by Virginia Ripple.

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Children:

As I mentioned above, Muffin will be 3 tomorrow, and I can’t decide between pooling into a puddle of tears or dashing around keeping busy to deal with it. (Someone please give me a better plan?!)

White Fang has about 3 more weeks of school, and once he finishes his exams, he will be headed to film-making camp. Then, much later, in September, he will…be…in…high school.

Tears? Dashing? Caffeine? Chocolate? Coping ideas, please, moths!

Summer:

Right now, plans for childcare are first and foremost, and Muffin is still in between, since we’re waiting on the official acceptance for his special needs preschool program. He’s on the waiting list, so we won’t get a definite start date for a bit yet. (We’ve worked so hard to get him to this point, so any and all prayers on that front would be greatly appreciated!)

We might actually look at a couple of day trips in the area once we nail down what the kids will be doing and when.

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Music:

As previously mentioned, I am on the hunt for the perfect lyrics to complete my chapter outlines for Volumes 2, 3, and 4. For those of you who have read Volume 1, you’ll have noticed that at the beginning of each chapter, I quoted the lyrics of a song that has made an impact on my writing. Either because it was on my playlist during the writing/editing process, or it has stamped itself on my creative consciousness in terms of its poetry/meanings/muses.

Recently I’ve discovered Lord Huron, and stumbled across some totally awesome Minecraft parodies of Top 40 pop tunes. Also, while searching (rather literally) for some more obscure songs, I remembered some really great singles from my slightly checkered past. (Hey, you can still respect the coolness of the music without engaging in the less beneficial behaviors and attitudes.)

Other Things:

Who knows yet? Maybe I’ll be successful in dislodging myself from this bubble of The Cure’s glory days. Is that housework I see just over the horizon? Bah…

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blogging, books, Encouragement, reading

Reading Slumps

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What’s a reading slump? Only the most terrible thing in the world, ever, for a bookdragon. And yet, they are inevitable. Every now and again, you’ll realize that you just don’t feel like reading anything.

Your usual styles/authors/subjects just aren’t sparking interest. You feel terribly bored, or let down by a genre, or you simply crave something different, yet every new book you take a look at feels destined to fall flat.

Now that I’ve struck terror into the very depth of your souls…

Here are some ideas on how to get through a reading slump.

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Don’t push yourself too much. If you feel like you should be reading, there’s simply no need to feel that way. A major reason I’ve decided not to do ARCS is because I don’t want to be on a deadline and not inspired to read the work in question. Even as an author, someone who relies on volunteer reviewers getting a critique out in a timely manner, I still totally support bloggers who choose to limit the number of ARCS they include in their schedule.

Try something outside of your usual loves. If you tend to gravitate towards contemporaries, pick up a historical fiction. Not sure if steampunk is your thing? Give it a go. Never read a James Patterson or a Kristin Hannah? It’s what the library is for.

It’s actually okay not to read anything for a bit. Yes, you heard that right. If you go for a few days, or even a few weeks, without finishing that novel on your shelf that you started last year, truly, the world will not end, I promise.

Attempt a re-read. Not sure anymore what happened in book 5 of Harry Potter? Book 3 of Percy Jackson? Do you have Me Before You or A Monster Calls marked as “read it” on your Goodreads account, but you’re honestly not sure if you’re just thinking of the film versions now?

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Now, what about this dreaded prospect?: You’re a book blogger, so putting new content on your site kind of makes it necessary that you read new stuff. Well, in the event of a reading slump, I have you covered there, too.

Find a related topic to discuss. Like a trend in publishing that bugs you — like if there are dystopias everywhere, or road trip novels, but you’d really prefer to see an uptake in pirate stories or new sorts of mythological/legend re-tellings.

If you like to do tags, catch up on a few of those. Or join a weekly theme that doesn’t rely on recently completing a new read. Top 10 Tuesdays are usually good for this, because the theme often relates to books you’ve already finished.

Consider reviewing a book you read a long time ago that you decided not to review before. Maybe because it was a novel outside of your usual genre, or was it a biography, or a collection of poetry? There’s no rule about the type of reading we “have” to be reviewing.

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The most important thing to do is: don’t panic. It really is all right — and probably natural — to hit a reading slump. And it happens for all kinds of reasons — whether your life is busy, or the latest publishing trends just aren’t your thing, or even looking at a towering TBR makes you go, “Meh.”

One day, this will be over. I promise.

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blogging, community, reading

So, You Want To Be A Book Blogger

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Note: Do not ask me for tips on origami. I borrowed all these photos from the internet, and I do not make any animals out of paper.

So, being a book blogger is now a thing. If you’re a reader/fangirl/fanboy, blogging about it means a big community (where geeks can all band together to take over the world), where you can find like-minded souls to share the hype and the flops and the overall love for books. It is good.

However, like with all good things, humans tend to forget that “in moderation” is really the best motto for life, and now book blogging is developing its own issues. For example, the “echo chamber” — meaning we all seem to be getting excited about and promoting the same authors and series. And the very sad notion that if someone disagrees with your review, they need to be strung up by their thumbs. Truly, this is not the sort of environment we should be cultivating.

So, here’s my advice for those of us just starting out in this interesting internet culture.

Along with creating the design/layout for your blog, plan which social media sites to join and how to link them to your own site. Of course, you hope that this will be fun. But, realistically, it’s just as much fun to see your stats go up, and know people are experiencing your content. So, after you place posts on your blog, you need to let folks know it’s there. One of the best things I did for boosting The Invisible Moth’s visibility was to join Twitter. Lots of book bloggers really like using Instagram or Facebook as well.

A personal note on social media: You don’t have to do all of it. Find the sites that you feel are easy to use, have a community you’d like to be a part of, and connects others to what you want to share the most.

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Choose which sort of books you want to review most, but let yourself break the mold every now and then. If you mostly read fantasy, it’s totally fine to build your foundation on fantasy fiction. But if there are certain classics or fluffy romantic contemporaries that just really stir your soul, feel free to share those with your readers, too. After all, it is your blog.

Having a posting schedule helps, but it’s not necessaryIn my experience, declaring that you will, without fail, be posting every Monday, Wednesday and Friday is not realistic. Things happen. You’ll get sick, go on vacation, misplace the charger to your laptop, need to make an emergency trip to the vet…and your post won’t get uploaded that day. And nothing’s wrong with that.

Don’t feel compelled to only read the hot new releases you see “all” the other bloggers featuring. Last year, I realized that there’s a big problem within our community — I’ve read other posts that refer to it as “the echo chamber syndrome.” Indeed, it seems that there aren’t just 4 or 5 people discussing the new Cassandra Clare/Rick Riordan/Nicola Yoon/Marissa Meyer publication, these are the only discussions going on anywhere, and “everybody” loves them without any dissent. Hey, guys, I’m sorry, but there are plenty of other books out there to read, and if you just don’t care for a novel/series that the majority of your community seems to adore, that’s really okay as well.

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Doing tags or challenges is optional. Honestly, I’ve given up doing these, as well as weekly themes, because I simply don’t have the time, and I’d rather be someone who posts discussions/topics I came up with on my own. There’s no right or wrong; a lot of newcomers feel it’s expected of them after another tags or links them. You can if you want; but most bloggers won’t hold it against you if you opt out.

Don’t feel bad if you hit a reading slump, or aren’t sure what to review this week, or even just want to hide from the world for a while. The great thing about maintaining an online presence is that you control how much of it is in your life. Sometimes bloggers need to take a break (the local vernacular is “on hiatus”), either because physical life is requiring your online stuff to take a backseat, or you’re just not feeling the posting/tweeting/instagraming vibe. And all of that is just fine.

Most of all, keep it fun. Unless you’re one of the rare breed who’s being paid to blog, you’re here for fun, so it needs to stay that way.

Having a platform to share my thoughts on things that are close to my heart has been very rewarding. But a major part of what’s made it worthwhile is all the super-supportive feedback and conversation I’ve received from the visitors to my site. That’s what makes this ongoing project really special.

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