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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Autism, community, Encouragement

The Non-Fiction Future Additions to How To Be A Savage

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Recently, I did a couple of things. I asked Twitter if anyone would be interested in reading an inspired-by-real-life-but-definitely-not-autobiographical account on autism in blogging format or something. And then I asked whether it should be fiction or non-fiction. Like, facts about ASD and various treatments and such.

The polls indicated people would be extremely into reading a combination of both.

And I thought, “Oh, okay. That’s…err… Why did I set myself up for this??”

Then today, I stumbled on an autism blog share, and as I was reading some of these posts, I realized: There isn’t just a public interest in us sharing our life stories. There’s a need. 

It’s only been about 50 years since most children with low-functioning autism were officially diagnosed as minorly psychopathic, and generally locked up in institutions.

It’s only been 10 years since diseases like measles and rubella that were nearly eradicated have made a solid re-entry into the Western world, thanks to an epidemic of people not vaccinating their kids, based on one, non-scientific study claiming that the MMR vaccination causes autism.

It’s only been a few months since I saw a book in which the mother of an autistic teenager supported forced sterilization of her son has a 4-star rating on Amazon and Goodreads.

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And it was only today that I read an article from the New York Times reminding all of us — or informing us for the first time — that Dr. Asperger was in fact a Nazi who sanctioned the deaths in concentration camps of the very children he diagnosed. And we still put his name on the part of the spectrum he supposedly discovered.

Dear God in Heaven.

Adopting a cavalier attitude towards my privacy, I have henceforth decided thusly: When I come to compose my various Wattpad-age entries of How To Be A Savage into book format, I SHALL include factual stuff about diagnosis, treatment, the NTs-who-hate-us experiences, the dark side of our condition, all of it.

This feels daring. It feels scary. It feels like the right thing to do.

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For the longest time, we have been led to believe that anything outside of the norm is dangerous. Even when it isn’t. Even when it’s simply different.

We don’t need to be encouraged to fit into the world. The world’s pretty messed up, in case no one’s noticed. I’d so much rather stand out — and hopefully makes this crazy planet a better place.

I am so tired of being told we need to “overcome” our autism. Of hearing that we have a “disability.” Of being looked down on.

Who’s with me?

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Fantasy fiction, self-publishing, Young Adult fiction

Spotlighting Masters and Beginners!

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One year ago today, I officially put my baby debut on sale, thrust the result of my hard work and long wait to be published into the world, for public consumption. Wow, that makes it sound not quite as pleasant as it actually was. Well, I have to admit, seeing Masters and Beginners on Goodreads, seeing the ARC reviews on blogs, was almost terrifying at first. In a good way.

Anyway, since this is my “bookiversary” (yes, anniversary of the book’s release), I wanted to mark the occasion with the fanfare it deserves! Seen above is the redesigned cover of the first installment in my fantasy series, The Order of the Twelve Tribes, created by Kyle Robert Shultz. The story inside either the first or second edition cover is the same; I switched printing companies, and wanted to do certain things announcing my establishment as an author — like secure a cover designer for the whole series, really increase my presence on Goodreads and Twitter, and build a solid foundation of loyal fans who would move mountains for me. Okay, I’m being slightly facetious on that last bit. But the fandom part is important. To those of you who have been around since the beginning, I want to say (again, but it never gets old) THANK YOU, for all your support and participation and faith in my writing.

So, today I want to go a little nuts, waxing lyrical on my own title, and we’ll celebrate Masters and Beginners: Volume 1 of The Order of the Twelve Tribes!

The story focuses on the Driscolls, a pretty ordinary family that lives in a pretty ordinary town in Ohio. The reason we choose to follow their tale is because they’re actually descended from a secret organization called The Order of the Twelve Tribes, which knows the forgotten truth of the universe — that faeries, angels, and monsters are real — and the Order protects unsuspecting people from the more unsavory of these creatures.

Sophie Driscoll and her brothers, Flynn and Cal, and their parents, James and Kate, take over running the Annex, a local facility that stores documents and objects related to Order history and the fey. As they officially join the Order, they find themselves immersed in a world of literal magic, and danger.

As if that wasn’t enough to whet your appetite, the new neighbors are demi-fey (half human, half faery), their pets are talking, shapeshifting cats, and I leave Volume 1 off on a twist worthy of the most brilliant/evil author. It ensures that you’ll have to read Volume 2 (see, brilliant) to find out what happens.

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Classified as YA (because I wanted to write something my kids could read before they were all grown up), my contemporary-fantasy-blend series isn’t limited to the ages of 12 to 17. Scattered throughout the text are references to the art and entertainment that helped bring about my inspiration to write this tale, such as Harry Potter, Discworld, Warriors, Warehouse 13 and Doctor Who. My playlist during the writing part of this project also receives its credit, by appearing in the form of lyric snippets at the start of each chapter.

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There are still a few copies of the first edition available, which can be acquired through me (though I only accept cash, check, or gift card, sorry). The redesigned cover/second edition can always be found at Barnes & Noble:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/masters-and-beginners-daley-downing/1126998956. (And they accept credit cards, and often have free shipping deals.)

If you enjoyed Volume 1 and feel inclined to post a review on Goodreads, Barnes & Noble.com, or a blog, that’s fantastic, and I espouse further thank yous still.

This last year has been quite the journey, and I look forward to what comes next! See you all there, moths!

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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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children's fiction, Young Adult fiction

Is The “We Need Diverse Books” Movement Doing Itself In?

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Hey, don’t you love it when I start off Monday with a controversial post?! *big grin and double thumbs up* Well, this is a topic that’s been riling me for a while now — sorry that it’s formed itself into a post on a Monday.

Unless you’ve been living under the figurative rock, you’ve probably heard about this idea that we, the reading public, particularly in countries with lots of immigrants, really need to have books/movies/TV shows that reflect these minority groups. Now, before anybody jumps down my throat, I LOVE THIS IDEA.

So, I’m not here to get on that soapbox. My soapbox is about the quality of the literature and film being created in the name of inclusion — and the fact that, unfortunately, some of it, in my humble opinion, doesn’t help the cause.

Here are some examples of don’t’s that I’ve come across.

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The Hate U Give. I only recently read this, after hearing about it for months. The intense hype was making me nervous, and I was right to be on edge. While I do not for an instant feel police violence due to racism is acceptable, I have major issues with a book that constantly paints non-black people as the bad guy, seems to glorify a culture that really shuts down the validity of other groups, and just propagates this current, very unsteady, real life argument, without offering any concrete tactics towards resolving it.

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Labyrinth Lost. While my issues with the quality of this novel had a LOT to do with the numerous typos and meandering plot and lack of character development, here’s what bugged me when it came to diversity. The story represents Central American brujas (basically, witchcraft from Latino and Caribbean roots), and the depictions in Labyrinth Lost of ritual animal sacrifice and spells to connect to the land of the dead put a bitter taste in my mouth. This hardly seemed like good publicity for real life Hispanic communities, most of which are Catholic/Christian nowadays.

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Aru Shah and the End of Time. I read Aru Shah and the End of Time this weekend, and I am still fuming. This novel makes a complete mockery of Hindu mythology — and it’s written by an Indian-American author. On top of that, the protagonist makes it clear early on that she doesn’t like “not fitting in” with her white/non-Hindi classmates, and gives the impression that she feels ashamed of her heritage. That is just sad. Having lived for a few years in England, which has a bunch of Hindu residents, I’ve witnessed the importance of their ancient customs in 21st century life, and after reading this book, I can’t help but wonder what they’d think of it, and whether it would be favorable.

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A Thousand Nights. Now, maybe it’s because I have very little knowledge of the original Arabian Nights/1,001 Nights tales, but this retelling just did not make sense to me. The very concept of a woman being able to stop a ruthless egomaniac of a tyrant from killing her by telling him a story every night just seemed prepostorous. I’ve read glowing reviews of this novel, but I just can’t understand the appeal. And that irks me, because when a diverse novel seems so closely stuck to the narrative tradition that ethnic outsiders had difficulty relating to, well, that means the risk is posed for exactly the same thing happening today.

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Rebel of the Sands. Rebel of the Sands went down as one of my biggest disappointments of 2017. I found the premise intriguing, and really wanted to like the story. But the recurring theme of intense sexism and accepted mistreatment of women seriously got under my skin. I don’t care that it’s historically accurate — can’t you determine that a fantasy set in ancient Persian culture can be non-chauvinist? Writing the opposite only perpetrates the notion that all Arab nations/peoples are anti-women’s rights.

Okay, enough complaining — now onto some good examples from this movement.

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Children of Blood and Bone. My major issues with this novel were the unnecessary length (stop making each debut 500 pages, publishers!) and the wandering plot. But as a diversity title, it ROCKS. The world-building of a fantasy African kingdom is just awesome, and it incorporated a bunch of African nature religion beliefs and legends, and created such a rich and interesting culture. Also, the way that the maji characters are discriminated against for being different — and looking different, as they have white hair and often a lighter skin tone than the rest of the natives — is a perfect representation of the (frequently-overlooked) modern prejudices in today’s Africa.

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The Sandwich Swap. The Sandwich Swap is a sweet picture book, inspired by experiences Queen Rania of Jordan had with non-Muslim/non-Arab students at the international school she attended as a child. I first read it when I was finishing my Early Childhood Education degree, and on the hunt for diverse books, as part of our classwork.

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Biblioburro. This is based on a true story about a man in Columbia who started a traveling library, hoping to tackle low literacy rates in rural areas of Central and South America. (It’s an issue that many of us blessed enough to live in well-educated countries may forget about.)

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All The Crooked Saints. Yes, I’ve heard the criticisms about a white author penning this tale set in the Colorado desert with Hispanic protagonists. No, I don’t agree with them. I think Maggie Stiefvater did a great job of portraying a sample of Hispanic/Latino culture in mid-20th-century America, without being condescending, or preachy. The Sorias do speak Spanish, and are Catholic, but that’s only a small part of their characterizations. She focuses much more on what makes them as human as everybody — their hopes and fears, their family dynamics, their weaknesses and eventual growth.

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A Bucket of Blessings. This is a picture book I recently discovered in my local library, searching for new bedtime books for Muffin. I fell in love with it while reading it to him. It’s a retelling of an Indian folktale, with unique illustrations and a relateable voice for today’s children, of all ethnic groups.

I also recommend…

Books: Blue Tights; The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson; Inside Out and Back Again

Movies: The Book of Life; Kubo and the Two Strings; Moana 

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entertainment, television

My Newest Fandom (And Why I’m Not Even Ashamed)

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First off, to answer the above question, my newest fandom is The Walking Dead. And here’s why I’m not ashamed, though apparently I’m supposed to be: Because a major part of the subject matter is zombies, and apparently being a Christian and watching zombie films don’t go together.

Hmmm…well, yes, and no. Zombies are gross, there’s no denying that. Physically, because they’re dead, there’s a whole lot of natural decomposing going on that is icky. And, yes, disposing of them requires some messy and violent means. If you choose not to watch a program like The Walking Dead for personal reasons of not getting near the moments of yuck, you won’t hear any argument from me. (In fact, there have been scenes where I’ve had to look away from the screen, even knowing it’s all special effects.)

But I also find TWD fascinating and compelling, and I am totally hooked; the setting of a zombie apocalypse poses some extremely in-depth moral questions for the characters and the viewers.

Zombies are absolutely terrifying monsters — they have no human intelligence or soul left, you can’t reason with them or appeal to their “better nature.” They simply exist, and are driven purely by primal instrinct. The zombies of TWD are really stupid as well, with no sense of self-preservation; they’ll keep literally plowing forward, trying to eat you, even when there’s a tornado/cliff/truck/machete coming their way. (At least most animals run away from humans when threatened.) All of this creates monsters that you love to hate — and sometimes, almost feel sorry for.

And of course there’s the human survivors, the actual people. How do they get through such necessarily violent circumstances without losing their own humanity? In a world where ethics may no longer be black-and-white, where’s that line they can never cross?How do they find the strength to keep going? And for what purpose?

This is a story with plenty of gray areas, and I love that. White Fang started watching the show before I did (and, yes, I let him), and the number of serious discussions we’ve had in the last few months about right vs. wrong, good vs. evil, how to tell the difference, and what’s the line you just don’t step over is awesome. No, I don’t support all of the writer/director choices regarding certain content, and I explain that to him. And if he was any younger, I’d say, no way, you’re waiting to watch this show.

But I am actually glad he introduced me to it. I’ve seen the ads for years, always cringed at the zombies (it’s far from my favorite genre), and never tried it myself. Eventually, though, I began to wonder — based on the fan references I’d come across on social media — if I was missing out on something.

Part of the reason I started watching the DVDs of past seasons with White Fang was parental duty; part of it was curiosity.

I have gone from literally peering between my fingers at the screen, to yelling at the top of my lungs, “GET AWAY FROM THEM, YOU CREEP!” In a totally fangirl way.

Here are some reasons why… (Disclaimer: I promise nothing about avoiding possible spoilers. If you’re behind on the current season, consider yourself forewarned.)

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Daryl Dixon is amazing. If Daryl was a real person, I’d 115-million percent want him in my corner. He’s flawed, he has regrets, he’s not that great at opening his heart. But he is still INCREDIBLE. He never lets the odds beat him. He KEEPS GOING, no matter what. Most of his struggles are private, which can make getting close to him a little tough, but when it really counts, he turns into open book. And while he’s an ACE with that crossbow, and knives, and guns, he doesn’t take joy in killing the zombies, and certainly not in killing people. He’s great with kids, isn’t after tawdry flings, and has some of the most endearing brotherly relationships with most of the other main characters.

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Carl. Just, Carl. Watching this young man grow (the character and the actor) through the seasons is just…wow. The son of the major protagonist, Sheriff Rick Grimes, Carl goes from being a slightly babied-by-his-in-denial-mother kid to a maturing teenager who can really hold his own. The recent (mid-season 8) plot twist with Carl had White Fang sobbing like a baby. I got plenty choked up myself — but mostly because of the legacy Carl will have, rather than concentrating on the moment of tragedy.

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In this story, not all romances are insta-love or simply lust. Take Rick and Micchone, seen above. There are fans massively shipping them (White Fang and I included), but no one would say that their road to potential romance was obvious. They weren’t even sure they could trust each other at the start, and over time their friendship developed, and then a deeper bond became clear, and it’s all so…lovely. Rick is a widower by the time Micchone enters the story, and she was out there, surviving the zombie apocalypse all on her own, with her kick-butt samuari sword and her wits. They both needed something greater than their sole purposes in this life. And watching them come to rely on one another, and how Micchone won’t hesitate to put Rick in his place (which sometimes he really needs) is great.

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Platonic male-female relationships abound. The wonderfully sweet bond Daryl and Carol have is my exhibit A. Carol was an abused housewife, so trusting others, especially men, doesn’t come easy to her early on. As her friendship with Daryl grows, we see absolute proof that love comes in many forms, and not everything on TV has to end with a fade-to-black bedroom scene. Carol and Daryl’s bond is much more like an aunt-nephew type, and they both gain tons from their friendship. (So do the viewers.)

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There’s still hope. Optimism for the future is epitomized by Carl’s little sister, Judith, who’s born after the zombie apocalypse has started. Of course she’s innocent and knows nothing of the seedier aspects required of those around her to keep them all alive. But at a time when things are pretty damn bleak, Judith’s very presence reminds us not to give up, to hold onto faith, to hope. To the thought that one day we can get through all this crap, and make life better for our children.

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A good example of a Christian on a mainstream program. This would be Ezekiel, leader of Kingdom, a settlement that’s trying to provide survivors with a “normal” life. Ezekiel doesn’t turn to violence first, he shows compassion to his enemies, and encourages people to become more than they believe they can. He’s also not preachy, he leads by example of his own behavior. I so love that.

And, yes, he has a pet tiger, Shiva. She’s CGI, but she rocks.

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Not all the villains are completely evil. The Governor really is, and I skipped several episodes from season 4 because I simply couldn’t stand seeing any more of him. And Terminus…well, seeing that go up in literal flames was purely justice. And the Wolves…well, aaaaarrrrgggghhhh. And I’m still on the fence regarding Jaydis…

However, the character of Negan, whom many fans find downright despicable and are eagerly awaiting his exit, is one I find excellent for demonstrating gray areas. Yes, he is not a hero, he has made some extremely dodgy moves, and he was introduced as a source of conflict for our protagonists. But the thing I love about Negan’s character is (and the actor deserves BUCKETLOADS of credit for portraying this brilliantly) the number of complex levels to him. The possibility for redemption is huge with this one. As much as Darth Vader, I’m telling you. (I could probably write a whole post about this subject on its own.)

So, while I understand that not everyone will appreciate this fandom, I stand by my place in it.

And, for the record… My weapon of choice would be the crossbow. And if I got bitten, I’d want Daryl to take me out.

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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:

Image result for children of blood and bone    Image result for whichwood   Image result for thirty million wordsImage result for warriors shadows of the clans

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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