blogging, books

“You Have To Read This”

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How many times have we all heard that? How many times have we said it (shouted it?) to someone else?

How many times have we followed the directive and been enthralled? How often have we followed the directive, and felt let down?

Recently, I joined the adult book club at my local library. If you’re thinking this doesn’t sound like me, you’d be right. And I joined the local writers’ group (not necessarily published, just writing) as well! What is wrong with this moth?! Well, as much as I don’t seek out socialization, and can only handle small doses of being around other people I hardly know, there are reasons I went head-on into this.

Reason 1: While I love my online writing/reading community, they are not always available to share thoughts, since we all live in different time zones and have varying in-person schedules. However, it meant that I realized I need to branch out in this area. And I do live within walking distance of the library, and the events there are held pretty regularly.

Reason 2: If I never go stray from YA fantasy, eventually I will run out of new books to devour. This is not a good thing for the creative soul. We need to refresh what we take in, not just crazily produce. So, I figured it would be good for me to branch out in this regard as well.

April is National Poetry Month (at least in America), so the librarian had a local poet come in and speak to the book club group.

Poetry and I have a complicated relationship; I understand poetry, but I don’t always like it. Poems that really explore the existential crisis of man are really not my thing. So, of course, this speaker was a writer of the latter. Oh, well. She was a very interesting speaker, with a very interesting style.

Image result for geechee girls     Image result for the raven's tale book    Image result for traveling through glass book

A Tale of Two Book Clubs

Above are her books (I believe they’re all on Amazon); “Traveling Through Glass” is the poetry collection. Lisa Harris has quite a lyrical style, and her plots and characters definitely focus on the existential stuff (which, again, isn’t much for me, but that’s just me). She researches a bunch on fading cultures (for example, the way Native Americans have become a minority) and world religions for her stories.

I have to say, though, that I honestly felt bad for many of the ladies in the book club, because they weren’t really fans of poetry, and some of them were struggling with the topic. I do agree that poetry can be challenging. My favorites are certainly the ones that tell a story, simply in verse (“The Highwayman”), or seem so straightforward on the surface (“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”) that the reader often doesn’t feel the need to dig deeper. (At least, I didn’t.) So, while I freely admit to sitting in the corner and not contributing to that conversation one iota, at least I was there, present, and taking in something I normally don’t.

Then we all received the selection for the next meeting: “A Piece of the World” (APOTW) by Christina Baker Kline. Never heard of the author, had no clue what the work might be about. Off to a great start on expanding the horizons.

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The tricky bit about book clubs is that you might get a real dud. This novel really irritated me. It’s supposed to be basically historical fiction, but I felt the author took waaaaay too many liberties, and I didn’t know enough about the real people in question (the artist Andrew Wyeth and the human subjects he painted) to be sure of how much was inspired by true events, and how much was the author going wild with “poetic license.” And I couldn’t get past that.

If was writing a historical fiction, I’d set it in a real place and time period, but with completely invented characters. I’d be too afraid of getting it far too wrong. After all, when you’re writing about real people who once walked this Earth, had real feelings and perspectives, family and friends who cared about how they were seen, it feels insensitive to get away too much from the biographical material.

The librarian even admitted APOTW wasn’t her first choice; her first choice got taken by another club, and she suddenly wouldn’t have had something for us to read last month. Luckily, this month that choice was once again available, so it’s our title for the June meeting.

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I love the idea of “The Dead Beat” (TDB). It’s not morbid, it’s simply a study of part of our culture. We do write obituaries for people who have just died; humans have done this, in one form or another, for centuries. These days, it’s mostly for the public record, and to let people know this individual is no longer with us. It’s a kindness. But, like so many other aspects of our society, when something has become so functional that it’s plain boring now, somebody wondered how we can spruce it up.

Hence, writing obituaries have become a literary art form. And while this niche does require a certain type of personality, I hardly view this interest as dangerously divergent or an unhealthy obsession. We’re all going to die one day; so, why not make the most of recounting our lives for those still breathing? Why not share our joys, heartaches, our triumphs, and struggles? As dull and mundane as most of us feel our existences are, I can guarantee we’ve all done something others would find amazing.

The Great American Read

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I saw the clip about this on PBS (one of the few channels I still watch). The Great American Read (TGAR) is a list of 100 books, determined by compiling data of consistently referred fiction titles within the last several years. Not just the classics, or the stuff on high school English curriculums. (or example, both Lord of the Rings and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy are on this list.

This summer, our library is encouraging patrons to tackle TGAR and see if they can check off a few of the boxes. Yesterday I downloaded the master list and checked off my own boxes. It turns out I’ve already read 35 of the 100.

Many interesting thoughts get brought up by viewing the entire list. Like, why are there so many British authors on here? (JK Rowling, Charles Dickens, Douglas Adams, JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, and more.) When the word “American” is in the name of the challenge itself? Maybe it shows that even the natives feel traditional “American” literature is in some way lacking?

Also, just how did they (whoever “they” are) determine what made the list and what didn’t? Is it purely stats of bestsellers? Why are “children’s” works like The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter thrown in with Fifty Shades of Grey and Outlander? (No, I’m not kidding.) Some of the included are definitely controversial — such as Fifty Shades and Outlander, but also Twilight, Game of Thrones, and The Da Vinci Code. I’m not opening the floor to that topic (right now); I’m just pondering the apparent dichotomy.

There are also plenty of titles you’d expect to see — Gone With The Wind, The Call of the Wild, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. You can find the whole list online; it’s quite a diverse and intriguing selection.

And I am proud to say I’ve read 35 of them. Especially since most of those 35 I enjoyed, and agree with the concept of yelling at the whole country to read them.

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blogging, reading

Maintaining the Balance: Tackling That TBR Without Losing Your Bookdragon Marbles

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It really sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Just don’t let your TBR get out of control. After all, reading novels is something we choose to do, and it’s not as if we’re being forced to add every single title we ever hear of to our I-want-to-read-this-one-day list. (Except you are when it comes to my books. Everyone must read my books.)

However, every week, there’s someone on Goodreads or Twitter, in their blog or writing platform, discussing how behind they are on their TBR. And when I think around 40 (what I currently have either on GR or on a scrap of paper somewhere) seems like a lot to buy/borrow and read within the next several months, there comes up a Tweet or a post that informs us all someone just culled 100-1,000 books from their want-to-read shelf.

So, here are some suggestions from this moth, who manages to regularly keep the numbers down. Because life is short, and I like to give advice, and trust me, you all need to take my advice (whether you know it yet or not).

(And, I really need to get a post out, to remind all of you I’m still alive, and this seems as good a topic as any. Brutal honesty wins out today, I guess…)

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Don’t worry about reading all the books “everybody else” is raving about. Between all the genres I just don’t try anymore and my limited funds, I couldn’t acquire every single title of note from 2018, or 2017, even if I wanted to. So I’ve given up attempting to even recall all of them. I do make note of the impending releases by authors I’ve enjoyed in the past, and titles in YA and fantasy (my favorites) that just sound great. Buuuut…

Don’t hesitate to edit the list. If you come across a bunch of ARC reviews from bloggers whose tastes generally fall right in with yours, saying that a certain hyped selection is really not doing it for them, listen to that, and seriously re-consider purchasing or requesting it. Or if you (as I recently did) get the book in question (maybe you didn’t cancel that pending library hold in time), get a few pages in (I usually give it through the first chapter), and your overall feeling ranges from “meh” to “what the heck?”, have no shame in setting that title aside.

Don’t impulse-order. Whether you may face book-buying remorse when that 10-title order from the internet shows up on your doorstop, or you’re trying to carry 10 hardcovers up the hill from your local library (yup, that’d be me) in snow, sleet and hail, more does not equal better. Focus on the releases you know you can’t live without that season. Like the newest Maggie Stiefvater. Or the latest Volume in The Order of the Twelve Tribes

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Know why you’re really choosing to read what you’re reading. Are you picking up a novel you’re actually dreading, but feel that if you pass on it, you’ll be “left out of the loop” on social media? Or can you not wait to open that cover because you just know a rush of emotions and fun and character development are coming your way? Yes, discovering new authors can be awesome. But there’s a lot to be said for sticking with the tried and true. For example, I learned in my youth that I honestly don’t care for murder mysteries, horror, romance, or most of the classics. So, it benefits me now (since it appears a few more days get chopped from my personal calendar every year since I turned 35) to not spend extra hours every month on books I just know aren’t my thing.

Reading is not a competition. Yes, it’s a good idea to encourage yourself to finish a selection in a timely manner. It shows self-discipline and being principled, and I come from a household where we keep saying “one day” and then one day never arrives on certain things. So once I start a book, I like to finish it within a week. (Re-reads are the exception to this rule.) However, don’t compare yourself to other readers. If it takes you a month to complete a really long book or one that gives you trouble because of vocabulary or time period or whatever, so be it.

Set reasonable limits. If you’re on Goodreads (actually, I should say when) and are realizing you can’t even remember why you added a particular title, delete it. If you saw a movie version of a novel and didn’t care much for the story, delete it. If there’s a book on your list that was added in 2015 and you still haven’t gotten around to it… You get the idea. Also, when it comes to “the 100 books everyone should read” and similar things, don’t get sucked into it. Seriously. Life is too short.

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Take advantage of the library. The library is great because of the free factor, and the no-guilt return if you didn’t like a book. Also, think of the space you saved on your shelves for the future releases you have to have (like all the forthcoming Beaumont and Beasley tales by Kyle Robert Shultz). Plus, investigating a book at the library, with your hands and opening the cover and examining the font size and how many pages there are — maybe even reading the first page — can really help you make up your mind. Sometimes online browsing just doesn’t cut it.

Forget about ARCs. Unless it’s the biggest release of your year, and your soul will shrivel into a useless husk without an advanced copy. Truly, people get fixed on the rush of frantically clicking the button on Netgalley, and then being approved for the latest “next Hunger Games/Harry Potter/Percy Jackson”. And then many times, the hype falls flatter than a skydiving pancake, and bookworms are found sobbing into their carpet until you have to build them a boat and rescue all the animals, two by two. Ain’t worth it, folks.

So, now that you’re all scratching your heads and saying, “Thanks a bunch, Daley, I basically can’t add anything to my TBR by an unfamiliar author, or that I won’t get around to reading within 29 days, or that didn’t come from the library,” relax, grasshoppers. Here’s what I suggest for keeping your list to a reasonable length, and not getting stressed out by attempting to get to the end of it before you’re 98 years old and can’t read small fonts or recall where you left the book…

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Do invest in reading a lot of reviews — good and bad — about new titles that may interest you. Take a few hours every month and devote it to finding positive and negative reviews of the same book. This could assist in making up your mind faster and possibly without spending money on a selection that you end up not caring for.

Buddy read anticipated releases. This can certainly help narrow down your choices for a particular week or month. It will reduce your TBR and achieve it pretty quickly.

Remember that above all, reading for fun is supposed to be just that — fun. So many of us became book bloggers in the first place because we love the world of story and the written word, and want to share that joy with others of the same vein. Pressuring ourselves to meet requirements that actually aren’t required won’t make us feel good; so let’s do away with them.

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blogging, community, reading

Reviews Are Still Important

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Here’s a sad little suggestion going around the internet: Book blogging isn’t necessary anymore. Yes, a lot of book bloggers are getting burned out, because it’s time consuming, and not always rewarding, and can feel repetitive. Well, on World Book Day, here’s why I think taking the time and effort to create our reviews and put them on our blogs is still important.

We can present an unbiased account of a title to a weary, cash-strapped public in desperate need of something good to read. Okay, maybe I’m getting a little dramatic here. But heaven knows that I’m a lot more satisfied with my library selections since subscribing to book blogs and Goodreads. As a busy mom/work-from-home writer, I can totally affirm for the majority of book-lovers that our spare time and spare money is limited. So we’d really appreciate a heads-up if we’re about to drop precious coin and hours on a novel that will make us want to run away to Albania and become a goat-herder in despair.

Since we aren’t being paid for our opinions, we have no reason to sugarcoat what we didn’t like about a book, or encourage people to buy it if we honestly feel they’re better off choosing a different release.

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We’re helping to keep alive the art of literary analysis. Yes, I’m completely serious. Less and less in college and even high school are English classes teaching how to accurately analyze a piece of literature. More and more on Goodreads, I’m seeing low ratings posted by younger (teen) readers for literary-complex books, and their reason is simply: “I didn’t get it.” No, most people won’t go on to break down symbolism and allegory and archetype for a living. But it is a VITAL skill to possess. It encompasses problem solving, objective debate, understanding motivation, and learning from past failures.

We’re giving critical feedback to authors — especially indie authors. Indie authors are quite often people without creative writing degrees who are self-publishing purely for their love of the written word. A lot of us can benefit from receiving detailed reviews that point out what readers loved and what they thought could stand to improve. We don’t have big publishing companies throwing a ton of advertising at our work, so this can definitely make a difference in sales, as we can get a concrete idea of what our target audience is after.

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So, what makes or breaks a review? Not whether you give the book a positive or negative review. It’s the WHYS.

You need to be specific. You don’t have to go through the selection chapter by chapter (in fact, many people would rather you not do that), but you must explain why you did or didn’t like something.

A lot of it does come down to personal taste. Certain content and genre preference should not be considered gold standards for “good” or “bad.” It’s absolutely valid for “like” or “dislike.” But, please, please know the difference.

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Here’s what I look for when I read a review:

Adjectives. PLEASE stop just typing in, “This is soooo good!!!” and logging off. This tells me NOTHING. If you say, “This novel had a lot of clean humor that had me laughing out loud, flawed but relateable characters that I was cheering for, and an action-packed plot with a jawdropping resolution,” then I have a much better idea of what you think. And, by the way, I’m aware how “writer-y” the above example sounds. But I feel it’s important to develop a real craft to how you opine. Even if you never intend to have a career as an author/journalist/librarian, there’s an impactful difference between: “This book was stupid” and “The main character made a choice that put others in danger, and I thought that was a bad move.”

More than a rehashing of the blurb on the cover. I can find the synopsis of the plot aaaaanywhere. That doesn’t give me any insider information. Which is what I’m after as I peruse blogs and social media.

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I avoid haters. If you really, loathed the content, the style, the story, or everything of a book, this is actually fine. This is free speech in action. I’ve left a few scathing reviews myself, when I truly felt it was warranted. However, you’ll never catch me sending hate email or tweets to the author, or the reviewer, and I won’t track with those who do.

You must have read the book for yourself. Recently I learned that some people are leaving 1-star/5-star ratings for titles they’ve never laid eyes on simply because their friend/relative/minister/favorite celebrity claimed it was racist/prejudiced/inappropriate. No. …No. 

The same goes for folks who think that any fiction tackling tough topics (racism, war, suicide, domestic violence, child abuse, self-harm, addictions) is “bad” simply for discussing the hard stuff. NOPE. Not a valid reason to slam a publication.

 

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A final few words: Are all our reviews going to be totally awesome little articles of genius? Yeesh, no. I’m sure some of mine aren’t detailed enough, or may have used too much slang for a broader audience. Is this okay, too? Yeah. If I had a tough time getting my thoughts to coalesce on this or that book, well, I’m only human. And I can always go back to my Goodreads account and revise later.

Do remember that people are getting something out of your reviews. Keep it up.

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blogging, reading, writing

Looking Ahead: Plans for the New Season

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Is it time to send out a search party for spring?

If you said yes, I wholeheartedly agree.

However, given that the calendar says mid-April, and April is, mathematically, a quarter of the way through a solar year, I believe this is a good moment to evaluate plans for 2018.

Is it just me, or is there this sense of a rut? Of wanting 2018 to be amazing, but getting more caught up in the “I wish I could…” instead of just going forth and doing. I’ve seen a lot of that on social media lately. People say, “I really want to get X, Y, and Z accomplished by a-b-and-c.”

Last year, I felt that way a LOT. And I swore that this year would be different. Well, guess what? Here we are, in April, and I already know most of what I’d hoped to do I won’t be able to.

So, rather than becoming bogged down by this rushing current of “other people moving ahead,” I’ve decided today to focus on how I can move myself forward.

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No more taking on unanticipated projects. I’ve already committed to finishing drafts of Volume 4 and the Super Secret Project by summer’s end. There are at least 2 other books I want to write in the Twelve Tribes world. Recently, I established How To Be A Savage on Wattpad. So, I have enough on my plate at present. I was originally going to put new snippets of HTBAS on the blog first, then upload extended chapters to Wattpad every week. Guess who hasn’t done either yet this week? Yupper, me.

So, I shall simply be posting Savage on Wattpad. (By the way, if you are a Wattpad-er, please look it up!  https://www.wattpad.com/554416578-how-to-be-a-savage-part-1)

Let’s test the boundaries of my comfort zone. Not in any way that will actually be damaging, of course. Yesterday I went to an event at the local library — second week in a row! — and was around all these other people…and inside I was totally wigging out. Last night I felt like I’d reached my extroverting limit for the next, oh, approximately 374 years. But now that I’m a published author, which is something I’ve been working towards for quite a while, it’d be really helpful  if I was able to make public appearances.

So, yesterday, although I had not intended to do this, I found myself signing up for a book club before I left the library. I even started reading the selected title last night. And next month, I may very well go to this meeting and sit in the back and not speak to anybody. But, hey, it would be progress. Because when you can only handle 4 or 5 people showing up to a group that you agreed to speak to about self-publishing, and they all say they’d like to have you come back at some point and speak to bigger groups, and this idea sends you into emotional spasms… That’s not healthy. I will probably never be able to address an auditorium of 300 people. And that’s okay. But why not 10, or even 25? Surely I increase my chance for more sales if I reach more potential readers…

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I can’t be at Realm Makers this year, and there is no reason for guilt. I crunched the numbers, and between the conference cost itself, the flight, the hotel, and the emotional toll traveling by myself to St. Louis in July (which equals much heat, and I and much heat do not get along), it was not pretty. At least I get to be present in some respect by sending my books to the conference. And, honestly, I’m not the greatest at staying in hotels (around strangers, out of my usual routine and surroundings), so this is a wise decision. Hopefully next year RM will be held in a Northeast city (where July temperatures rarely get above 85 degrees), and not being so far from my family would ease the tension.

Stop stressing about my health. For the most part, my health is under control. But it looks like I’ll be on medication pretty much forever. This is something I’ve never had to deal with. I’m not losing sleep over these issues anymore, but I’d be lying if I claimed it wasn’t on my mind at all. There are too many other things worth concentrating on more than the what-ifs.

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Let’s skip the hashtag games and tag posts. For any of you who have ever tagged me on Twitter or the blogisphere, thank you for thinking of me. I do mean that. Though trying to keep up with all of it really eats into the time I allot for writing. So I’m not going to pressure myself.

I need to stick to what I keep telling myself about television. Why am I wasting my time seeing if shows I know are going downhill may possibly have been slightly better this week? With season finales coming up for everything, this’d be a great point to cut the cord, so to speak. Rather than taking my attention away from important stuff, like writing and editing, or reading. And I could avoid the frustration I know is coming. Yes, yes, and yes. White Fang and I can focus on catching up on The Walking Dead and our movie queue on Netflix. Sounds brilliant.

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And stick to what I’ve been saying about my TBR. No. New. Library. Books. Not until I have finished the books White Fang already owns that he’s been bugging me to read. And then I can start tackling the indie books that have been multiplying like plot bunnies on my list of “one day, one day.” Yes, finances honestly do play a part in this endeavor. However, if I start purchasing, say, one book a month, then pretty soon I will have most of the titles I’ve been eyeing for a while. And realistically, it will take me a while longer to finish reading them all, so I’ll never be without something new to read… So, what’s the downside here?

What about you, moths? How are your yearly goals coming along? Any need to revise??

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blogging, self-publishing, writing

April: Life, Writing, and Reading Update

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Good morning! Yes, here I appear, although my online presence has been somewhat minimal of recent. Stuff has been happening, and I’ve decided to spend more of my time working on tasks other than shameless self-promotion on social media. Though I am participating in #WIPjoy on Twitter, so do check that out!

Okay, so here are some things going on to explain why I haven’t been around as much lately:

I am starting medication to help with the endometriosis. While this is not, in itself, time-consuming or energy-draining, it reminds me that there are certain things in life that may be more important than throwing yourself into your work. Like, one’s health, and one’s family.

And one’s work matters, too. But not at the risk of not remembering why we’re engaging in said pursuits. Meaning, when you’re a writer, and writing doesn’t feel fun, or doesn’t make sense, we either need to take a break, or adjust our approach.

I am adjusting my approach. While I still hope to release Volume 3 by the end of April, I am NOT pressuring myself to hit a specific date. There will certainly be announcements when publication has occurred and this title is ready for purchase. But don’t expect a formal release build-up, since I am playing everything by ear this go-round.

Also, I am going to make the most of renewals from the library. And taking my time completing titles we own. Here is what my current TBR looks like:

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Yes, I am reading all of these at the same time. Yes, I truly am. No, my head has not exploded yet, and I swear my sanity is still around here somewhere. I promise…

Now, there are a few reasons for this status. I began reading “Thirty Million Words” for a book club, and that means I have to have x number of pages finished every 2 weeks. So I’ve been trying to get ahead on that title in particular. Despite the fact I reached the last page of “narrative” (not sure what to call it when the book is non-fiction), minus all the bibliography and research notes, a few days ago, I still count it as currently reading because the book club goes through April. So I will be referring back to this title for a while.

Anyway, in between all this heavy-on-the-technical-jargon-and-scientific-study stuff (which is fascinating, but starts to burn me out), I decided to pick up something light and easy. Enter one of the Warriors novellas. Just my luck that “Shadows of the Clans” has some of the most dark and depressing tales, apart from “Ravenpaw’s Farewell.” And I know that revisiting Ravenpaw shall also make me bawl like an inconsolable wallaby.

Hence, I went to scour the library. I decided to give “Children of Blood and Bone” a try. So far, I’m enjoying it, but it is LOOOOOOOOOOOONG. So I opted to take a break from that with “Whichwood,” because it’s marked as MG. Oh my gosh, what do I know?! It’s aimed at ages 10 and up, but some of the content is extremely dark and dodgy. And yet, I am becoming very engaged in the story. Then I realized that it was a sequel. WHAT IS THIS BOOKDRAGON LIFE.

Anyway, after all of THIS I secured the original, “Furthermore,” from the library, and quite soon I will be all up to speed. #thumbsup.

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There is other news regarding writing/publishing/sales. Though I my physical self will not be present at Realm Makers this July, some of my books shall live at the vendor tables! Thanks to my cover designer, Kyle Robert Shultz, autographed copies of Volumes 1, 2, and 3 will be available for purchase at the conference. He and I are working on the further details, but if you’d like to buy my work and are attending Realm Makers, keep an eye out for him!

Also, the week of April 16th-21st, there are some special things happening for the anniversary of the publication of the first edition of Masters and Beginners! A giveaway shall take place on another blog, reviews will be re-posted, and I’m recruiting an army to promote my debut on social media. If you’re interested in helping at all, send up smoke signals or dispatch an owl and I’ll get back to you!

Otherwise, I am working towards putting “How To Be A Savage” on Wattpad (extended posts from what you’ll see on here, so if you’re a Wattpad-er, please consider visiting me over there, too!), it means overall less posts on this blog in April. Sorry, everyone.

If you search Daley Downing on Goodreads, though, you should come across my author page, and you can follow all my book reviews there! Also, link to my Twitter via my sidebar!

All right, back to the editing…or the reading…or feeding the furtration…

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blogging, community, writing

Spring Cleaning Writer Tag Challenge

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Good morning, everyone! So, I’ve been nominated to participate in this original tag, created by Deborah O’Carroll, and it’s a tag just for us writers!

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Rules:

1. Link back to the person who tagged you
2. Share the picture
3. Answer the questions (naturally…) or even pick and choose which ones you answer
3.5. Tag 3 other writers and inform them that you tagged them (via comment/message/email or hey, even carrier-pigeon or smoke signal; I’m not picky)

1. Dust-bunnies and Plot-bunnies: Reorganize Your Writing Goals (Or Make New Ones)

Most writers do start out the new year with specific goals in mind. As of early January, my plans for the next 12 months were to: finish Volume 3 and start on Volume 4, do some more work on the field guide, and plan out the prequel.

As of March 21st, here’s where I stand on all this: Volume 3 is almost ready for editing. But I’m going to take some time on that. My hope was to get it published sometime in April; hopefully that will still happen, but I am not pushing myself to make it occur no matter what. I want Volume 3 to be as good as it can be, and that means lessening my self-imposed deadline for its release.

Also, while I do hope to still finish the draft of Vol. 4 by the end of summer, since I have also promised White Fang we will work on our Super Secret Co-Project once the school year is over, I am being totally realistic about Vol. 4 not being available until the fall. Nothing like long-range goals, eh?

Also, the field guide and the prequel I’ll probably work on in fits and spurts, when the inspiration hits. There’s no rush right now on either of those (though I am excited to create both of them!).

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2. Which Stage Are You At? Expound!

a. Remodeling layouts (planning the story)
b. Painting the walls in colorful hues (writing)
c. Polishing the windows and scrubbing the floors and putting flowers in vases (editing)
d. Blueprints (not to the cleaning or remodeling yet… just drawing up plans for the very beginning inklings of a story)
e. Some combination of those things (cleaning out a closet)

At the moment, I am in Painting The Walls In Colorful Hues with Volume 3, and very soon it will be Polishing The Windows And Putting Flowers In Vases. (I love the analogies, Deborah!)

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3. Treasure From the Back of the Closet (Share one to three snippets you love!)

“She’d only been 19 years old when a nervous, confused, mid-twenties Daniel Novak approached her…seeking a nanny for his newborn halfbreed child. …Lily quickly fell in love with the beautiful baby girl who had astounding violet eyes and could make objects float above her crib.”

“Mom! Can we go yet?! I haven’t played Minecraft in 36 Earth hours!”

“Avery had never learned to play solitaire… Hence, she was constructing a house of cards while she waited… And she was using magic to do so, meaning this deck of cards was rapidly coming to resemble a 3-story mansion with a balcony and an astronomy tower.”

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3.5. Bonus: Do Some Actual Spring Cleaning of Your Writer Self! (and share a picture!)

I shan’t be doing this part of the tag (since we are having technical difficulties around my house, and camera software is not easily accessible at present). But here are some tips from Deborah for those of you who wish to:

  • Organize your notebooks and papers if you’re a physical type of writer
  • Sort your computer files and tidy them up if you’re a digital sort
  • Do some real-life cleaning up of your desk or writing space or room in general, if you exist in the physical world at all (which I rather hope you do)  

     

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(Sorry I can’t prove it right now, but I do exist somewhere out here, I swear!)

Thanks so much for the fun tag, Deborah! Visit her at: https://deborahocarroll.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/original-tag-writerly-spring-cleaning-challenge/.

I’m tagging (and you most likely have already been tagged, but take pity on my poor overwraught genius brain): Kyle Robert Shultz, SM Metzler, Hannah Heath, and Aria E. Maher. Happy spring cleaning, writers!

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blogging, reading, self-publishing, writing

Interview: Indie Author E.B. Dawson

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Today we’re being joined by the lovely E.B. Dawson, who’s going to share with us some of her writing goals for this year, her journey so far, and a few insights into why her cat is awesome.

Can you tell us a little about each of your published works?

In a nutshell, The Creation of Jack is a scifi series about overcoming brokenness. The first book, Out of Darkness is about a girl choosing her own path despite being manipulated and abused. The sequel, Into the Void shows her taking on responsibilities and eventually confronting her past. There is a lot of action, adventure, and fun futurist science in these books, but they really center around the characters and the complex emotional dilemmas they face.

The Traveler, on the other hand, is the first in my new fantasy trilogy Lost Empire. It’s about a young woman who discovers she can travel to another world in her dreams, and the physical/political dangers that result.

What inspired your completed books, and what are things you’re still hoping to write about?

Great question! These three books have all revolved around very personal issues for me, including: identity, PTSD, cross cultural colonization, and overcoming victimization. Although the circumstances are very different, Logan’s emotional journey is very much my own, and her emotional victories are my emotional victories. The Traveler, was just a chance to raise some interesting questions about international relations while having a remarkable adventure.

What do I still want to write about? Every day I seem to come up with more stories I want to write. I like examining all types of characters at their breaking point. I love posing difficult questions about morality and making the reader examine their own choices. But I also just like to have fun and let my imagination run wild. I would love to write a space opera and maybe a more traditional fantasy (The Traveler is a bit of a scifi crossover). But in all honesty, I really want to write literary fiction someday. I don’t think I’ll quit speculative fiction any time soon, because it’s just too much fun. But literary fiction and contemporary fiction are on my list.

You’ve traveled a lot. What’s the most interesting place you’ve been to?

Don’t make me choose! The world is so big, I still feel like I haven’t even chipped the surface. I’m going to pick two of my favorites:

Foz du Iguacu in Brazil is just awe inspiring. I love waterfalls, so this place is like paradise for me. I was lucky enough to go 3 times.

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Borobudur in Indonesia is pretty impressive. There is so much history there.

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As a proud cat parent, sing a few praises of your furry baby.

Maximus is the best companion. He is not a fussy cat. He loves belly rubs. He does parkour sometimes. Sometimes he likes to go off and be independent and chase the neighbor’s chickens. Sometimes he likes to cuddle my feet while I’m reading. He’s just a sweetheart. And if he doesn’t know where you are in the house, he will play Marco Polo with you until he finds you.

You’re an indie author who also has a day job. Tell us a bit about who you are in your other life.

Oh boy. I work for a non-profit that seeks to reach underprivileged and at-risk youth. We bring inner city kids and foster kids up to a camp in the mountains. And more recently we are launching mentor programs in the inner cities to support these kids in their day-to-day lives. It is so much work, but I love it. You wouldn’t believe what our kids have to deal with on a daily basis. We get to love on them, support them, mentor them, and show them a different way to live their lives.

You recently spearheaded the start of a new indie authors’ collective called Phoenix Fiction. Give us some more details!

I did, indeed. Because I am a mad woman who loves the indie author community! I love the fact that traditional publishing is feeling the heat from indie authors. I think indie authors have unique voices, and are perfectly capable of writing the same (if not better) quality books as traditionally published authors. But it can be really hard to attract readers in a sea of indie authors, especially when you do all the marketing yourself. Most people find new books because of the recommendations of family and friends. This marketing collective is another way to do that.

We have six authors, with a very similar writing philosophy who have banded together under a sort of “brand umbrella.” Not only do we support each other and help market for each other, but it’s an opportunity for our fan bases to cross over. The odds are that if a reader likes one of our author’s books, they will like books from our other authors. So our website is a virtual goldmine for our particular brand of speculative fiction.

It’s been going really well so far and we are looking forward to growing and offering some exciting, exclusive content for our fans.

Who are your favorite authors (traditional and indie, from your past and your present)?

You didn’t give me a limit, so I’m gonna go crazy!

C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Lois Lowry have all been huge influences on me as far as fantasy is concerned. I also love G.K. Chesterton, L.M. Montgomery, and Charles Dickens. Some of my favorite science fiction authors include Orson Scott Card and Ray Bradbury. If you put ALL of those authors together, you will have a taste of my writing style!

I love all of the indie authors on Phoenix Fiction (Kyle Robert Shultz, J.E. Purrazzi, K.L. Pierce, Beth Wangler, and Hannah Heath). Other indie authors I really enjoy include Nate Philbrick, Annie Douglass Lima, our very own Daley Downing, and Bethany Jennings.

What will 2018 bring your readers?

I am so excited for 2018! I cannot give you firm dates on anything, but I’ll share them in the intended order:

  • I have a stand-alone, dystopian short story coming out this spring.
  • The Creation of Jack Book 3 will hopefully be out by summer!
  • I have three Lost Empire short stories set to release over the summer, in anticipation of book two.
  • Lost Empire Book 2: The Citizen will come out in the fall.
  • Another stand-alone short story is slotted for late October.

Links:

Out of Darkness: http://amzn.to/2oqxJYX

Into the Void: http://amzn.to/2AZRGeQ

The Traveler: http://amzn.to/2zh6bsd

Website: http://www.ebdawsonwriting.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ebdawsonwriting

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ebdawsonwriting/

PFW: http://phoenixfictionwriters.com

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