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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blogging

When You’ve Been Blogging For So Long…That You Don’t Know What to Blog About Anymore

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This is a real thing. An actual issue. Yes, it’s limited to the blogisphere, but the struggle is real. We have proof, by all the frustrated Tweets and sudden absence on WordPress or Blogspot of people who used to post once a week. Notifications of new blogs or follow-up comments begin to vanish from our inboxes. Every once in a while, people will make formal announcements that they’re giving up blogging to spend more time with their families, go to college, take on a new job or project or venture. But more often than not, there’s just this kind of quiet lack of presence…and then one day, after weeks or even months, a post appears — and the blogger just openly admits: They have no idea what to write about anymore.

Now, to most people, this is a matter not even worth expending effort on. So you used up all your ideas for blogging? Then just stop blogging. It’s not as if you were being paid for it. But, wait! we all shout. It isn’t that simple! We met some of our best friends through our blog! We can’t just abandon the community!

And this is the cry that’s heard the loudest: We aren’t just a random gathering of faceless screen names in a cyber void. Those screen names with pictures who leave us lovely comments aren’t bots or uncaring, cold keyboard taps. While blogging in general isn’t something that’s really promoted as a tool for career growth or as a fun trend anymore, those of us with an established blog and committed subscribers are aware it also won’t disappear overnight. And many of us look forward to even few-and-far-between posts from our friends — because, yes, that is what they are.

However, the very real problem remains: What do you do when the ideas just hightail it for the hills, and every notion you explore either doesn’t interest you at all, or you’ve already written about it, or you’ve seen it done on so many other blogs?

Considering that this situation is what I’m facing right now, here are some tips I’m compiling (partly to jumpstart myself, but hopefully they’ll work for you, too):

  • Don’t keep making excuses for not being around. It’s one thing to politely explain that you’ve been super busy, and just haven’t devoted precious spare time to creating something for the blog. People will appreciate the honesty, and the manners you used. But in the end, it’s YOUR life, and you owe no one a new post every 72 hours.
  • If you’re not feeling a topic, pick something else. For example, I gave up doing tags about 2 years ago. While it was always lovely to be tagged and know people wanted me to join in, it also became a hassle to complete all the questions (especially if I just couldn’t think of an answer!), and despite people’s nice intentions, I felt pressured. For those of you who still participate in tags and enjoy it, rock on! But it was something I had to let go.
  • Search the internet for suggestions on how to expand your blog. No, I don’t mean expand your platform, and take on more responsibility. I mean, if you’ve only been book blogging, start writing occasionally about another hobby or an issue you’re passionate about. I write about reading, the author life, autism, and sometimes my kids. Having a mix of all these things generally provides me with a deeper well of inspiration.

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What if you’ve done all of this and the words still aren’t flowing? Or even trickling?

  • There’s no shame in taking a break. And you don’t even have to tell people why. You can, as I mentioned before, to be polite. But there’s no obligation whatsoever. So don’t feel guilty.
  • Don’t be afraid to shake it up when you return. Would you rather not talk about books for a while, and shift to movies and TV shows? Or you’d prefer to share pictures of your family vacation? Go on a rant about the last time you had to wait in line at the bank? Go for it. The trick is to write about ANYTHING in the same style you always have. Make the content, whatever its focus is, as engaging as you did to get all your subscribers. You are why people keep reading your material, stay on the notifications list, and look forward to your first new post in 6 weeks.
  • Get some help from the community, by accepting guest posts, or conduct interviews to schedule in during your “dry spell.” I’ve done this before, when I desperately needed to set aside time to finish a novel or do something else, and my blog was just kind of in the way at that moment. It was really easy to just upload a file and schedule publishing. And people will often be interested in what your friends have to say, too (so don’t worry about guests temporarily taking over meaning your views plummet).

Despite the fact it gets harder over time, many of us don’t want to completely give up our blogs, so we’ll always keep coming back with further content, even if it’s not entirely original or doesn’t go viral. Even if you’re, say, an indie author, and you are trying to increase your platform by having an active online presence, a frequently-updated blog isn’t seen as a requirement, the way it was even a few years ago.

So while there are some people I would absolutely miss if they just vanished into thin air, I can also understand why that might happen. Life becomes so busy with family and work and, well, living, anyway; if your blog becomes an integral part of yours, then you make time for it. But if blogging becomes a burden, then, yes, just drop it.

But, this post is about how to maintain such a space. Just remember to like the maintaining, don’t get burned out, and do allow other things to come in.

Maybe you can even share about how blogging less actually gave you more.

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blogging, community

What It’s Really Like to Work in a Library

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You think you know libraries. They’re quiet, calm, tranquil places of wisdom, learning, a corner of the world where you can hide away and lose yourself in someone else’s fictional creation.

None of this is actually untrue; but there’s more to the story than the common image. Also gone are the days of librarians being 100-year-old ladies with blue hair and huge glasses who threateningly shush you if you dare to whisper a reference question to a fellow patron. We tend to be moms with kids still at home, politely checking out whatever materials you pass our way, no judgment, only shushing you if you’re really pushing the limit.

And we are busy. You wouldn’t believe how much we have to do to complete the supposedly simple tasks that result in you having those coveted books and discs in your hands. It isn’t just scanning the barcode and placing it on a shelf or in a bag. Oh, no. It’s not more complicated, but the process is more time-and-energy-consuming than many realize.

For example: We begin our day with collecting all the items people returned the evening before, or early in the morning, when we weren’t open. Most libraries have a “dropbox” outside the building, which does just what it says on the tin. And we go out in whatever sort of weather to toss into bags and haul inside the realistically several dozen returns.

Then we can begin processing which returns are going back on our shelves, to other libraries, or are going on hold for someone else who has requested that title. When you need to scan the barcode and find where an item is going…at least 50 times…all in the half hour before the library once again opens to the public for the day… You get the idea.

And when people start arriving, they bring more returns with them. And they need things (how dare they). They need to collect their holds, and check more stuff out, and print or copy or fax things, and…

And when the printer is down and the IT guy is forbidding you to get near a single computer, even to make the literal 3-foot-high stacks dwindle quicker… Yeah, you get it.

Being a library clerk is a position that requires patience, and flexibility.

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And if you thought that working in a library would be a bookworm’s paradise… Well, not quite.

The fact is, we simply don’t have the time to peruse all the interesting new titles that cross our paths. Even when we’re not at work. And there are days when you go home and the thought of handling another book just…isn’t appealing.

But there absolutely are bookworm perks to this position, too. Free ARCs, and first shot at brand new releases. Not being charged to use the copier, fax, or printer. Not having to wait in line to check out your selections, because you can glide right behind the desk and do it yourself!

You also never have to wonder what next month’s book club pick is, since you’ve just been discussing it with your co-workers (and you get a copy early, too). If there are extras in giveaway piles (leftover from programs and events), you may not even have to ask for those.

One thing that definitely has not changed about libraries since I was a kid is: They are positively overflowing with books. And not just regular fiction and nonfiction; there’s also large print and paperbacks, audiobooks and movies and TV series, plenty of YA and MG and picture books, not only currently bestselling authors, but plenty of great writers you’ve never heard of. One of the joys of the job remains seeing readers (and watchers) find their next favorite.

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I also have a new appreciation for the community services libraries provide nowadays. Yes, I’ve been taking advantage of sending White Fang to the kids’ programs for free for years. But since being “on the other side of the desk,” I’ve begun to realize just how important a library can be, as a fixture in a small town where many residents have few resources when it comes to technology and extracurricular activities. Until the means catches up to the vision of how people are supposed to be living in the 21st century, we’ll be here.

And I’m sure even long after that. The general public being literate is a relatively new concept in the world. We librarians still have a lot of work to do.

And some complications or frustrations or obstacles aside, most of us really enjoy what we signed up for.

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blogging, reading

Books of 2019: What Lives Up to the Hype (Or Not!)

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Good morning! We’re not yet addressing the fact that summer is vanishing before our very eyes. Apart from that one sentence. Ahem. (And we’re also going to ignore the quandary of it being the first of the month and me not yet tackling my newsletter, an impending hurricane in the southern Atlantic, or the new school year nipping at our heels. A-HEM.)

Anyway, I know that I haven’t read many of this year’s most hyped books; partly because I’ve been reading less personally, but also since most of what I’ve read in the last 8 months were published in previous years, and I’m just now getting to them, or I read them only for book clubs. So, for now, I’m going to focus on 2019 releases that I did actually read in 2019!

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi:

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This was my first ever Owl Crate book! So honestly, I will always think of it fondly in those terms. I wrote a whole review on the conundrums with this text, but for the sake of space in this post, suffice it to say that while the characters were mostly charming and the style lovely, this just felt too fluffy and intangible. I had a massively hard time understanding the characters’ motivations, or why the plot was going the direction it was. And since I’m generally a persnickety reader, I wondered if I was just being a bit too harsh. But after some discussion with other bloggers earlier in the year, it looked like this title is part of a new trend in YA: The trend of not explaining anything to the readers and confusing the bananas out of them, therefore pulling away their full enjoyment of the story. (And that in itself is an entire separate conversation…)

So, this one fell flat for me, sadly.

On The Come Up by Angie Thomas:

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After being extremely disappointed by this author’s debut, the much acclaimed The Hate U Give, I picked up her sophomore release after setting aside a huge amount of skepticism. And I am so glad I did. You can find my full review of this in a separate post as well, but I’ll happily highlight On The Come Up again. It’s a novel that rings true with regards to racism and poverty and the inner city struggle. The characters didn’t feel like cliches, and despite being a middle-class white girl who isn’t into rap at all, I completely related to Bri and her family and wanted them to succeed. This is how you write contemporary fiction that addresses relevant issues without being preachy, folks.

Go read it (if you haven’t already).

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho:

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Unfortunately, here I am drowning in the sorrows of loss, for what could have been and definitely was not.

About 16 months ago, I started noticing that every new publication seemed to be fitting a hidden requirement: Somewhere, there was now an unadvertised rule among publishers, that all books have to be at least 350 pages long, and around 40% of that needs to include drawn-out, angsty, unrealistic subplots that distract the MC, and the readers, from the actual point. A little bit of this, I don’t mind, and can even be fun, if written right. However, now it’s become an epidemic. Wicked Fox absolutely falls victim to it.

Pages 1-150 of this debut novel were fun, cute, interesting, even briefly terrifying. The MC and her love interest were precious, together and as individuals. I felt for their respective concerns, and hoped that there wouldn’t be too much trauma before it was all over. And then…the derailment of useless subplots kicked in.

I literally skimmed the rest of the book, guessed the big “twist,” and hit what should have been a satisfying ending with a whole lot of, “Well, that took waaaaaaay too long to get to what I knew was going to happen, anyway.”

It’s become too tedious for me to read this sort of novel, several times in a row, being let down every single round. Wicked Fox felt like some kind of last straw. It’s certainly contributed to my decision of swearing off YA for a while, and trying to find adult or MG fiction that isn’t too tropey or irritating.

(Si-gh.)

But, I will end this post on a more positive note…

The Boy Who Steals Houses by CG Drews:

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This is not a warm and fuzzy book, and don’t expect for a minute that your heart won’t be ripped to shreds, because it totally will. But The Boy Who Steals Houses accomplishes what too many YA contemporaries fail in — it realistically, poignantly, and with an ending that gives you hope portrays how some kids are simply forgotten about, tossed aside, or put in last place in society for being different than the majority. It’s also about grief and loneliness, how you can heal, and what family can really mean. I don’t recommend starting this without a box of tissues and half a chocolate cake by your side; but as long as you’re armed, have at. This is a title I had the privilege of beta reading a while ago, and had been looking forward to seeing in its final form. If you read contemporaries, and don’t mind tearjerkers, definitely grab your copy. In fact, even if the genre isn’t your usual, try this one. CG’s unique and heartfelt style will draw you in from the first page.

And I did write a feature post on TBWSH as well, if you’re inclined to look it up in the blog.

All right, I’ll step off my shameless-self-promotion-box, and leave you all to hopefully a safe and happy holiday weekend!

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blogging, pop culture

A Bookdragon Gone Rogue

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In the last year, I’ve decided to go distinctly against the grain of what most book bloggers have been obsessing over  cultivating as part of their platform. I opted out of Netgalley (mostly because I realized I couldn’t afford an e-reader or decent Smartphone), got off Goodreads, and never created an Instagram profile. I no longer keep a physical TBR, an active log of what I’ve recently read, and the only cohesive reviews I’ve put together in the past several months have been on this blog.

And does all of this unstructured approach make me feel more…chaotic? unprepared? ready to run off to Albania to herd goats? Nope. In fact it’s…liberating. Relaxing. Indulgent.

I don’t panic about my traffic and stats. (No, I genuinely don’t right now.) I don’t care if I missed a trend or hashtag game. Does this make me seem less friendly or less subscribe-able? Not sure. Maybe? (Hopefully not.)

I just want to enjoy what I read, and be reading it because I want to. Trying to keep up with who was reading what and which trend or bandwagon they were covering just made my head spin. So I gave up the sprint.

And, honestly, I have no regrets. Watching my fellow book bloggers becoming increasingly agitated over Instagram deciding to turn evil, over the fierce competition for ARCs, the pressure to post positive reviews no matter their own opinion on the title just makes me certain of it. Life is too short and other things more important than to get caught up in unnecessary drama that will send lifelong readers fleeing a pastime they once reveled in.

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So, now we come to the inevitable critique of this discussion: Since “bookdragon” is a title that came about as a result of behavior like hoarding masses of books, getting the jump on new releases, following what’s “in”, and keeping tabs on the ebbs and flows of the publishing industry, if I’m opting to abstain from a whole lot of this, do I still get to carry my “bookdragon” card?

I say yes.

And in addition, I think more of us should choose to go rogue.

I think we should start new movements, to bring reading back to this place of being about armchair adventure and emotional rollercoasters and perspective growth, rather than about status and position and fleeting popularity.

We should begin to forget why we wanted to be a book blogger…and remember why we wanted to share our favorite books with others.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the “early days”, when we’d simply gather together to flail over the latest announcement from a beloved author, our genre’s newest publications, a debut title that broke all the tropes, or just simply loving books. Loving to read.

miss this.

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Can we please go back to maintaining the bonds, instead of stepping up rivalry? Shouting from virtual rooftops, “HA! 22 BOOKS IN 31 DAYS! LOOOOSERS!”, really doesn’t make you a more accomplished person. Or very nice.

There’s been such an abrupt shift. When I first became aware of book blogging actually being a thing, and actively joining in the reading and commenting, I was so excited it could barely be contained. (Okay, that’s a flatout lie. I didn’t really bother containing it at all.) As a lifelong reader and writer, I had found my people and it was the best.

Then, almost before we knew it, there were lots of people either leaving blogging or social media entirely, citing too much pressure and subsequent burnout. Instagram is quickly becoming the same thing. And many authors — trad and indie, big and small — have been treated appallingly on Twitter because their titles didn’t line up with what bloggers (with no control over these publications) wanted.

The atmosphere has grown too toxic, too fast.

So, I went rogue. And I’m encouraging others to do so as well.

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I’ve made some of my best friends these days from getting into book blogging. Supporting each other was something we did so well. Nowadays we feel splintered.

None of these problems are by far universal or applied to every aspect of a booklover’s lifestyle. But there’s definitely (sadly) enough garbage going on to sufficently dampen a lot of people’s former enthusiasm — including mine.

And as a bookdragon, I’m going to do more than blow smoke about it.

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Autism, blogging

Letting Go

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One of the hardest parts of reaching the point of no longer being ashamed of your “disability,” in actually taking pride in being how you naturally are, is working through the guilt and dishonor that comes from a lifetime of the world telling you you were wrong, messing up, not in tune.

Admittedly, this can be a rather daunting task, when all of your society — in some instances, those closest to you — keep reinforcing that your condition is not something that you should be “stuck” with. After all, it’s why there are these treatments to get you more “included” in civilization.

The unfortunate, brutal truth of that approach is this: The majority of these treatments are to make other people feel more comfortable around us. To get us to blend in, to stop stimming in public, to get a handle on our emotions, and fade into the background, rather than stand out for being different.

Counseling to make us work through emotional obstacles that we don’t understand probably won’t raise our self-esteem. Training us to mask our autistic traits only results in creating more, deeper anxiety, and that often leads to actual physical illness. Trying to force us to be “normal” is about as sensible as forcing a lion to become a vegetarian.

For a while, I fell prey to this feeling that everything I am was wrong, and should be changed. I encouraged a younger White Fang to participate in therapies that would teach him to think and process things like “regular” people. Not to build understanding and empathy in him, necessarily; more to eventually convince him that he could one day act like that, too.

I didn’t want my baby boy to be bullied, repressed, discriminated against like I had been. Like I still am. But recently I’ve realized that the best way to fix this is NOT to make him change. It’s to change the perspective of those who come across him.

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Are we perfect as is? No! Do we sometimes hurt feelings by speaking in a tone or with body language that takes others aback? Yell out phrases or thoughts that humanity finds impolite? Yes — and who doesn’t, at some point in their lives? Do we react suddenly to strange circumstances or unexpected events, do we accidentally cause distress to random passerby? Yes — and again, who hasn’t done or said something they wish they could do over?

Are autistic children harder to parent? Sometimes. But how many neurotypical children throw tantrums, break toys, refuse to eat their dinner? Plenty. And does the world view them as problems that will never be solved without government or medical intervention? Hardly.

The biggest difference between us and the NTs (and honestly, I hate having to divide the world into camps like that, but it wasn’t my decision) is that we have concrete neurological and physiological reasons behind everything we do. Either it’s our external environment or something internal that causes overstimulation or brings us to a shutdown or meltdown. We truly aren’t doing it just to make other people mad or upset.

Motives like greed or envy rarely influence us. We know what we need and what we like, so we generally are content if we get it. We aren’t spoiled for knowing there are certain requirements to maintain our calm and well-being.

So, while we sadly do still have to fight the uphill battle to convince others of these facts, in the meantime, we can apply them to our own hearts.

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Would it benefit us to tamp down our anxiety? Absolutely. Does it mean we’re horrible, vile, screwed-up people beyond redemption if we suffer a setback (or many)? Not one bit.

Do we need to keep beating ourselves up for being different? No. What’s the fricking point of that?

Will our lives not be what parents, neighbors, teachers, authorities envision for us? Most likely not. Do we have to follow their plans to feel successful, accomplished, happy? No way.

Will we feel more accepted by the “average” folks if we conform? Sadly, yeah. But will that actually make us feel better? Experience is proving no.

I don’t have it all figured out yet myself, but the best advice I can come up with at this moment is: let go.

Let go of a sense of worthlessness. Of loss. Of missing out. Of having made mistakes.

You are okay. You have made it. You are further today than you were last month, last year. You can keep moving forward.

Let go of striving to reach someone else’s ideal. Let go of not being “enough” for people who don’t really want you.

It’s all right to be different. To be yourself. To want to feel whole.

Do it. Go. 

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blogging, books

The Boy Who Steals Houses Release!

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Good morning! It’s Happy Release Day to CG Drews’ second novel, The Boy Who Steals Houses! I’m currently waiting on my copy, hence a review will be forthcoming! But I beta read an early edition, and trust me, if you like heartfelt, poignant, raw contemporaries, GET THIS BOOK and just sob your eyes out for a few hours. You’ll thank me later, I swear.

Here’s the cover summary:

Boys like him don’t get the girl. They go to jail.

Betrayed and abused by everyone who should have taken care of them, Sam and his brother are lost souls. They have a wild, hopeless, precious dream — to make a home for themselves.

Then Sam meets a girl whose laugh is a burst of stardust. But betrayed people have the hardest fists, and Sam has a secret that is about to catch up with him.

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Why is this novel so important? Because it’s one of the very few I’ve come across that accurately represent what it’s like to be neurodivergent in a world that doesn’t accept this, and how it feels to want to be yourself, and at the same time need to find somewhere to belong. There is nothing in here about “curing” neurodivergence; there’s bunches about learning and loving and becoming whole. It also doesn’t gloss over the mistreatment many ND folks receive on sometimes a daily basis; while none of that is pleasant, it’s extremely necessary for people to be aware of.

And we all know that Cait is the master of portraying difficult topics in a dark-cloud-edged-light that will make you cry and scream and hug the book so tightly it passes out.

So who is this evil genius author? Well, according to her publisher’s website, she looks like this:

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But most of us around the blogisphere know her better as the Dragon Queen, the owner of these boots:

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You can find more details about The Boy Who Steals Houses and CG Drews at: https://paperfury.com/, @PaperFury on Twitter, and https://www.instagram.com/paperfury/?hl=en on Instagram.

A note for my American readers, though: Since Cait is Australian, the easiest way to acquire her books if you live in the USA is to go to Amazon or Book Depository (the latter has free shipping, even internationally!). So while you’ll need to wait a little bit to get your hands on her new release, DO IT. Did I mention you’ll love it?

Autism, blogging

Here’s Why I’m Proud to be Autistic

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Welcome to Autism Pride/Autism Acceptance Month! Let’s jump right in, with a list of reasons why I’m proud to be autistic:

My life is rarely boring. The way I look at and experience the world means that the beauty of nature and the comfort of a routine becomes just lovely things to take in. I don’t get bored or irritated by familiar things or places, I drink in the sunshine and the snow, the rain and the wind, flowers and trees and birdsong. Very simple pleasures bring me much joy. Re-reading favorite books, reruns of favorite TV shows, sharing the best movies with White Fang as he reaches the right age (and anticipating the same for Muffin one day), just makes my heart sing.

And because I have a vivid imagination, my daydreams often provide cheap entertainment. Thinking “outside the box” comes so naturally, I can create magic from the simplest things.

I know what I like. Whether it’s entertainment, academics, hobbies, occupations, cuisine, pets, or social events, I know what I like, and I’ve reached the point of not caring if others disagree. I make no apologies for my passions, and see no need to follow trends or keep up with “the popular kids.” I’m not sure whether you’d call it self-confidence or just stubborness, but there is something quite refreshing about not engaging in “fear of missing out” or giving in to the pressure to conform.

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Because I have specific interests, I take time to hone my strengths and skills. It’s how I made my way from completely unrecognized hobbyist writer to self-published author in about a year. While I’ll probably never be rich and famous, there are now books in my house, my local library, my friends’ houses, that I can point to and say — with absolute accuracy — “I wrote that!” And while national newspapers and most literary magazines have never heard of me, there are still a lot of people who have read and enjoyed my titles, and would be very happy for me to write more. Not at all bad for someone who couldn’t figure out how to format a 6×9 paperback manuscript in 2017.

I can sympathize with a wide range of people and animals. The marginalized, the underappreciated, those with trauma in their past, their present, even if I haven’t been in their particular circumstances, I get so many of the feelings that go along with discouragements and setbacks, heartaches and loss. While I’m very practical and believe action is always the wiser course, I’m highly unlikely to try to minimize or brush off depression or anxiety.

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Being part of a very special community. Finding other autistic adults through the power of social media has taken the phrase “These are my people!” to a whole new level. Never having met another autistic female until a couple of years ago — heck, not even knowing was on the spectrum most of my life — meant that I didn’t really “fit in” with any one group at school or work. Now that I know I’m not only “not the only one,” but also that I’m not the only autistic mother/self-employed/felt they were on their own, too, has made a HUGE difference in the way I view myself. I feel special, respected, understood. And I know that, regardless of what symptoms/lifestyle/education/career I do or don’t have in common with others on the spectrum, I still am, and accepted.

I may very well change the world one day. People who have made significant waves in history did so because they weren’t afraid to be different. This isn’t to say that everyone who changed the world for the better was neurodivergent or autistic; but their success started with refusing to accept a status quo, bravely taking on new ideas, and not letting the odds get them down. That’s a spirit I strongly relate to. It isn’t so much “when life gives you lemons…” as when the world says no, I say yes, and make my own way.

So, there we are for now! Tune in later this week for a promotional post on ASD author CG Drews’ newest release, an Own Voices novel on anxiety and autism entitled The Boy Who Steals Houses. It’s a book you won’t want to miss!

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Autism, blogging

Is Spring Here Yet?: Featuring What I May or May Not Be Doing with My Life After The Longest Winter Ever

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So, for those of you who live in places where it snows, can we all just agree, now, that this was the LONGEST WINTER EVER? It feels like the last 5 months in fact spanned at least 15. I definitely feel like I should’ve had a cameo in Game of Thrones. Usually I embrace living in a region where all 4 seasons are in concrete representation…but not this go-round.

Anyway, I don’t think it helps one sliver that this rollercoaster of a winter finished for us with a strong bout of sickness that we’re still trying to kick. There’s been multiple days — sometimes in a row — of more rest than doing anything else, which has led to falling behind on other stuff (welcome to my writing goals getting completely tossed out the window), and domino-effect-issues like the contents of the freezer reaching uninspiring levels. Poor Muffin and White Fang are still on the road to recovery, while the cat seems largely unscathed (yay), and my husband and I are finally turning the corner.

By some miracle, I’ve still been able to do at least a little editing on my current projects, and the distant dream of having a book ready to release in the next couple of months is still alive! I’m not going to be anywhere near as bold as to slap an actual date down, but it may still happen, and I am awesome with that!

Otherwise…

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Interestingly, I haven’t even been reading very much. I did complete a re-read of books 1-3 in Kyle Robert Shultz’s delightful Beaumont and Beasley series, mostly before he releases a million new novels and I realize I forgot everything that took place previously. (Ahem. My memory generally is much better than that, but, hey, it’s been a hell of a time.)

I have been able to make it to recent book club meetings at my local library, which is important for me as a self-published author, because I don’t have a highly-paid marketing team behind my titles, so I need all the exposure I can get. And joining in community events (and they are small, as we live in a rural area between the big cities) means I have the chance to share my street cred, which increases that, and it all keeps rolling merrily along.

And can I just say…the promotion part of indie authorship is much harder than a lot of folks realize. Yesterday I noticed a Tweet that mentioned since Amazon changed its review policies, it’s harder for readers of indie authors to leave reviews supporting our work. This becomes Reason # 4736 I don’t use Amazon for self-publishing. If anyone who has loved my books would like to leave a review on the new Barnes and Noble links for my re-releases, please, feel free! It only takes a B&N account (which costs nothing to have), and a few minutes of your time, and when you do something like this for your favorite indies, it really makes our day!

(Wow, I worked that plug in pretty seamlessly…)

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In non-writing-or-reading news…

Hmm, there’s really not much. I think by now everyone knows (or may have come across hints) that personally February was rather brutal, and a lot of March was picking up the pieces of that. For privacy reasons, I’m not sharing certain details with the entire world, but suffice it to say, it was hell in a handbasket. Not even kidding.

Now, the positives from this: At the moment, there has been some significant progress made, and while there are still a few loose threads, we are, praise the Lord, a far cry from where we were. In the midst of all these appointments and meetings and schedule changes and costs that weren’t there before, we have received so much heartfelt emotional, social media, and even financial support that we remain eternally grateful for. I would be flatout lying if I claimed it hasn’t gone a long way towards helping me make it through. Waking up every morning terrified of what the day would bring was an absolutely horrible feeling. Knowing there are people who have my back, even in the darkest moments, gave me that little push to keep going.

So, what’s coming up next?…

April is going to be a month featuring autism, and not much else. It’s Autism Acceptance/Autism Pride Month, as typically it’s been a month where organizations pushing for a cure to neurological and developmental disorders try to get people to feel sorry for us, and we’re just not tracking with that anymore. So the goal of the online Actually Autistic community is to reclaim this month, to share what we love about how we are, and to push for people to love us, to hell with “awareness.” Especially since many people who are aware of autism still judge and condemn us, which makes our platform for tolerance nearly impossible. Hence shifting the focus of the campaign, and this is an endeavor I am more than happy to get behind.

I will be blogging only about once or twice a week, though, in April, in the interest of getting more writing and editing done, and I can. Not. Even. with the idea of May showing its face. So if you notice I’m not around as much, it’s simply due to expending my energies elsewhere. Forsooth!

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