Monday, March 31, 2014

Is Spring Coming Yet?

Like most of the country, the weather where I live has been crazy for the past few weeks. We have days of warm, beautiful weather, and then it snows. Covers everything in ice so thick that it knocks down trees and cuts out the power. And it's cold as crap sometimes.

I wonder if spring is ever going to come.

People say that global warming and climate change aren't true. But I can point to what's going on with our weather right now and show that our environment is changing and it isn't so much for the best. Rapid weather cycling and dramatic fluctuations in temperature are hallmarks of climate change. It just happens. It's true. And people need to accept that fact.

I'm getting sick of the fact that I have to bundle up in the morning and then burn up in the afternoons. I'm sick of it being 70 degrees one day and snowing and icing the next.

I want spring. I want warm days and light rains and flowers.

Sometimes I think it will never come.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

End of the Month Stress Buster

It's that time of the month again. And this month has definitely been stressful beyond anything I've had to deal with this year. So there's a big need for a stress buster this month. And it's got to be something good.

Our end of the month stress buster this month is all about getting out your frustration. Everyone knows that the longer you hold on to your frustration and your stress, the worse that it gets. It's important to recognize that you've got this frustration and deal with it so that you can get past the stress that it causes. Because we all know how stress messes with our health.

You'll need a few things to go through the stress buster exercises for this month. Take a few minutes and get together a few pillows (preferably ones that are thick and well stuffed), a pad of paper, some tape, and a pen.

To start off, you'll want to sit down with the paper and pen. You can do one of two things for this part of the activity: you can write out a list of the things that are stressing you out or frustrating you on a single sheet of paper OR you can write one thing that's stressing or frustrating you on individual sheets of paper. This is entirely up to you. Don't think too hard about the things that are bothering you. Get them out as soon as they come to you.

Next, you'll want to take that list (or one of the sheets of paper you wrote on) and tape it to the top of one of the pillows. All you want is to keep it there, it doesn't have to stay there forever. Put another pillow on top of that so that you have a "stress list sandwich"--a pillow, the list of stressors, and then another pillow on top.

Now, take as long as you need to beat the crap out of the pillows, imagining that you are beating up all those things that are stressing and frustrating you. Get that frustration out. The physical exertion will also help expel some of the stress out of your body.

Trust me you'll feel better afterwards.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Publishing a new series before the first is finished

We've established by this point that I love to write. And that I write a lot. That means there are several different books on my computer that are in various stages of being complete. Who knows when any of them will see the light of day? 

Well, that isn't necessarily true. I've been working lately on the final formatting for the release of the second Elemental Royals novel, but I've also been working on the formatting for a the first book in a new series. I've mentioned before that I've been writing a dystopian science fiction novel that is the first book in a series that I'm calling the Off World Series. And it's in the final stages of being ready to be released.

I'm planning right now on releasing it in September. That would be a few months after the second Elemental Royals novel has been released, but long before the final one comes out. I know a few authors who do this. Who release new books and start new series before the first one is finished. But I suppose that works for them because they get paid to write. They spend all day writing. It's their day job. Unfortunately for me, this isn't my day job. 

But oh, how I wish it was!

I've got at least two books ready to be released. And I'm looking forward to it more than anything in the world. I think I'm going to release one of them in September and the other in December. I know it's going to be a lot of work--putting together blog tours and doing promotional activities and all of those things--but I'm willing to do it. Because this is what I love. 

Wow. You've just seen me make the decision to release three books this year. One in June, one in September, and one in December. 

Hmm I guess that means I need to rearrange the website a bit. Or add a few new pages. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Is the semester over yet?

It's been one of those semesters. A semester where I'm exhausted half the time, and the rest of the time I'm frustrated. With the weather the way it's been and the stress that's come from my personal life, it's made me look forward to the end of the semester with nothing more than the greatest of glee.

It isn't that I don't love my job at the university. I really do adore my job. But right now I'm so exhausted by everything that's been going on that I just want to have things be over for a while. I'd love to have a nice long break where I didn't have to get up or do anything. And it isn't so much that I want time to read or write. It's just that I'd like to have some time to relax and get myself straightened out.

Even though I only work a few days a week on campus, there's still so much that I do outside of campus that I have to do to make sure that my students are getting everything that they need from me. If I'm not working on my books or my blog tours, I'm working on something for my students. It feels like I have very little time for myself when it comes right down to it.

Maybe I take on too much. Maybe I need to take a break and let go of a few things. That might be the best thing for me. But right now I have no choice but to do the things that I've signed up to do, no matter how exhausted it makes me feel or how stressed I get about it.

So I'll ask again. Is the semester over yet?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Planning Ahead is a Good Idea

I've sat down today to look at what's going on for me in the next few months. And I've tried to put together some things so that I would know what's coming up and how I need to be prepared for it.

In other words, I've spent the day getting organized and planning ahead.

One thing I've been planning for is the review blog. Putting books on the schedule to read and review. Give myself a few days in between to read and put my review together. I'm a little tired thinking of all the books and things that I have to keep up with to make sure that I get through everything.

And then I've thought about what's going on with work and writing. How am I going to go through the summer working? What am I going to do as far as writing goes? And how is all of that going to coincide with my blog tour? There's going to be a lot going on for me in the next few months and planning ahead is going to be essential.

I get tired thinking about some of it. Right now I want to just go take a nap. That would be incredibly lovely. But I've got to stay up and get things put together.

Planning ahead, no matter what it is, is an important part of everyday life. It's important to figure out everything that you need to do and put yourself in the position so that you can get it done. I suppose that's what this post is really about. Reminding myself that I've got to get on the ball and make sure that things are going to get done.

No matter how exhausted or busy I get.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Reading on a Deadline

Reading has always been a passion of mine. So I suppose that's one of the reasons why I wanted to be a writer... I wanted to give the world stories that I thought were interesting. I wanted to put something out there for people to read. And I guess that's also why I decided to be a book reviewer. Simply because I love to read, and I love to suggest books to people I know.

But one thing I hate about being a book reviewer is having to read on a deadline. True, it's a self-imposed deadline, but still. When I have a stack of books that go from the floor to halfway up my desk, I have to read quick. Especially when a lot of those books belong to the public library and there are other people who want to read them.

It's hard to read on a deadline. Mostly because it's something that means I won't have the time I'd like to digest and understand the story like I normally would. I have to get through the story and make a decision about how good or bad it is based on a day or two worth of reading. Given, I can read pretty fast if I'm given the time off to go through a book. But that doesn't mean I want to tear through them that fast.

I have to read fast and make quick notes about things I want to put in my reviews. And it's just hard to keep up with everything that's going on in the story when I'm plowing through fifty pages at a time. That's the only way I can get through a book as fast as I need to for my deadlines. I have to read fifty pages, take a break, and hit another fifty pages. The book gets finished pretty quickly that way.

I can't wait to get to a point where I don't have to read so fast. Where I can relax and enjoy the novels that I've chosen to read and review. I think that's what I miss the most--being able to enjoy the books. Take my time and savor the words that are written on the page.

Not that I don't do it now when I'm reading for reviews, but I just don't get to enjoy and savor them as much now as I did before.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Fear of Losing a Computer

I think it's the worst possible thing that could happen to a writer. Losing their computer. Either to physical loss or a crash. And I live every day with the fear that my big computer--my writing computer--is going to crash on me.

That's why I triple back up everything. Every single day.

And I usually back things up every two hundred fifty words or so. Or every fifteen minutes, whichever comes first. I lost things like that before, and I'm terrified of losing things again.

I think it's the biggest fear that I have as far as my writing goes. That and having something of mine stolen. I've lived with both, and I've come through them. But I've learned a lot of different things because of it.

Maybe the biggest lessons I've learned have to do with backing things up. I learned to back up everything often. And that's what I do. And in multiple places. And I also learned to have a hard copy of things. Just to be able to prove that it was yours. Hard copies with dates on them.

I have two computers now. One for writing and one for my day job. But that doesn't mean that I don't keep copies of everything on my new computer. Just in case.

That's my new motto. Just in case.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Becoming a Legitimate Reviewer

I've always been a reader. For as long as I can remember, books have been my best friends. I could curl up in a book and forget my problems. And I've always been one of those people who tell my friends about great books and things like that.

So it seemed a natural progression for me to be a reviewer. To build a book review blog and read books in order to give my opinions on them. That's why I built Ley's Library. Why I decided to take on a massive amount of reading and put my name up on review sites in order to garner books to read and review.

And maybe for some free books, just because those are a perk of the job.

I've gotten a bunch of requests for reviews, mostly for historical novels (which I love) and things like that. Most of them--all of them in fact--have been eBooks, which are okay but take me longer to read because I have to read on my computer. But today I got my first review request that will provide a paperback.

I feel like a legitimate reviewer now. Maybe I should get my own PO Box. Just for the blog and things. I wonder how much that would cost?

Hmm... apparently not much. But I don't get that much mail for the blog just yet. So maybe it isn't an expense that I can justify right now. Who knows? Maybe I'll get to the point later where I have to get one. It'll be interesting.

I feel like I'm getting to be a legitimate reviewer. And that's an amazing feeling.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I Need to Read Faster

My to be read pile is getting bigger and bigger, especially since I put my blog up on a reviewer website. And I finally realize how hard it is for reviewers to say no to some of the projects that are pitched to them. I feel bad saying no to people, but I have to be honest when there's something that doesn't seem to work very well for me.

And I've realized that I have a few pet peeves that I never realized, and I can see why reviewers are very specific in their review policies. I found that I hate it when people send me a book with the expectation that I'm going to read it without even telling me what it's about. Especially when they don't even read my bio.

I wanted to be able to take on a lot of reviews so that I could build up my blog and make it a little more popular. And I wanted to support individual and indie authors by reviewing books like that. But it's going to be hard to take on a lot of reviews when I have so much other stuff to do.

Maybe there's a simple solution.

I just need to read faster.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Living with an Eating Disorder

So I decided that I wanted to make this blog about something a little more than writing. And I wanted to make it more personal.

Today, I want to talk about living with an eating disorder.

There's a lot of talk in the media these days about weight and beauty. Appearance seems to mean everything to everyone. So it's no wonder that so many different eating disorders exist, and that so many men and women suffer through them every single day.

I'm one of the millions of people who suffer from an eating disorder. Technically, I'm EDNOS, which means that I have an eating disorder that doesn't fit into the categories of bulimia, anorexia, or binge eating. The truth is that I have characteristics of all three of the different "major" eating disorders. There are times when I binge and then purge it--either through inducing vomiting or using laxatives. Other times I binge and carry enormous guilt for what I eat, even though I don't go through the process of trying to purge it. And there are even times when I will restrict my diet, when I'll go days with eating as little as possible.

Living with an eating disorder of any kind is like carrying a huge weight on your back all the time. It's a thousand pounds of fear and shame that never quite go away. Sometimes it might fade into the background for a while, but it never disappears. Even when you go into recovery, those thoughts and feelings are still there. And that's when things get dangerous because you have to be strong enough to avoid those words whispering in your mind.

Any kind of eating disorder is a disaster for your body. It tears apart your physiology and plays havoc on your mind. And it can have lasting effects that will carry through the rest of your life. Once you have an eating disorder, you will always have an eating disorder. But there are ways to overcome it, to live with it, to survive the negative impact that it has on the body and the mind.

My eating disorder has been a cycle since I was in seventh grade. There have been times when I could work through it and survive without the comfort and control that it brought me. Those were my periods of recovery. But then there have been times when I couldn't bear to gain an ounce and the only thing I could do was go back to the thoughts of my disorder.

Today, I am in a period of recovery. But that doesn't mean that I will never relapse. It does mean that, right now, I'm living.

I'm surviving.

Friday, March 21, 2014

How do people do this every day?

Okay, so I've been blogging roughly for 100 days now. And it's getting harder and harder to come up with topics for blogs. I wonder if it might be better to blog just every other day rather than every day.

I wonder how people do this every day. How do people who run blogs like this come up with things to write about day in and day out without repeating topics and all of that stuff? It's getting hard to come up with new topics!

Part of me wants to start talking about personal and social issues. But I wonder about the best way to do that. Especially since some of the things that I would like to talk about may be kind of shocking. I think it might be a good idea to do a series on social issues, things that are important to me.

What kind of things would you like to see me blog about? I know this is a writer's blog, but I don't want to make it only about writing. I want to make it about other things too. About me, the writer, about the process of writing, about life.

Sometimes that's just a hard thing to do.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

All You Need is Love

No, today's post isn't about the Beatles. Even though they are one of the absolute coolest bands ever. Today's post is more about what love actually is and how we can grow from having love in our lives.

I wonder sometimes if we really know what love is. All these books and movies make us think that love is this sweeping romantic feeling that comes over us and changes our entire lives. I'm not saying that things like that don't happen. It's possible to have these kinds of dramatic feelings of love, but I would say that love is deeper than all of that stuff. It's more than just a feeling. To me, love is a choice.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying you can choose who you love. That's a whole other blog post right there, ladies and gentlemen. What I am saying is that this modern idea of love as an emotion that we fall into and out of on a whim is so far from what love is supposed to be that we've forgotten what love really is. To me, love is about safety and stability and the idea that there is something more important in this world than yourself. Love is about putting someone else before your own needs and desires.

I think my generation has forgotten this meaning of love. That love is something that is deeper than this feeling that comes and goes based on hormones and lust. People throw around the word "love" without really knowing what it means.

Perhaps that's why my favorite love story in young adult literature lately is the story between Katniss and Peeta in The Hunger Games. It isn't that Katniss chose who to love--because I believe that she truly loved Gale and Peeta in their own ways. But the real truth and depth of the love comes out in the fact that she realizes which one of them is so important to her that she will give up herself and her own happiness to secure theirs. And even though she works for the good of all of Panem and for Gale, it is always Peeta who is on her mind. It is Peeta whom she cannot survive without, because it is Peeta whom she can see herself waking up with every day and choosing to maintain that love.

That's what I mean by love being a choice. It's about deciding to stick it out when things get rough, to not give up when you get bored. That doesn't mean you have to stay with the first person you fall in love with, but I think a deep love and a deep commitment is something that requires a conscious choice to work at that love to keep it strong.

When it comes down to it, all you need is love. But you've got to choose to make it work.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Depression, suicide, and asking for help

I said not long ago that I wanted to make this blog a bit more personal. And now I'm going to. I've talked about mental illness and how it is something close to my heart. Today I want to talk about something else that's close to me, something I've lived through: depression and suicide.

Some people think that depression is something to be ashamed of, but I don't agree. Being depressed is something that everyone has felt at one time or another over the course of their lives. But for some people the depression comes and doesn't go away. It takes root and becomes a part of your life in a way that you can't get away from. And sometimes that depression becomes so painful that it's hard to get out of bed and face the day.

I've been there. I know this feeling. I've had bouts of depression that have lasted for months. Months where I could barely drag myself out of bed to eat. I failed a semester of university because of depression like this. I lost a job because of depression. There are times that I still deal with it, that I have to fight to make myself get up and do something more than just sleep away the days hoping to be numb to the pain.

And sometimes that pain becomes so much that you feel as if you can't get out of it. The first real novel that I ever finished was about a girl who tried to commit suicide. Much of the feelings the girl dealt with came from my own personal experiences fighting the impulse to end my life. That's a strong impulse, a strong pull when you're so depressed that you see no light at the end of the tunnel. It isn't the best solution, it isn't the only solution, but it's one that you'll consider to make the pain go away.

The biggest challenge I had was learning to ask for help. Sometimes that's still a problem for me. I want to be able to deal with my depression and my problems on my own. I want to be strong and not have to ask for help. But when it comes to depression of any severity and suicide in any capacity whatsoever, you can't do it alone. And the people around you may not have the capability to deal with it. When these kinds of issues come up, professional help is a must.

Don't be ashamed to admit that you've felt these things. And certainly don't feel ashamed about asking for help. It takes more strength to ask for help than to suffer alone, I learned that the hard way.

If you feel the need to talk to someone, please call 1-800-273-8255 in the US. Or search for a suicide hotline in your home country.

Please don't suffer in silence. I'm with you.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Joss Whedon is my Hero

There are very few people in this world who I can honestly say that I look up to in personal and professional capacities. But one person I absolutely can say that about is Joss Whedon.

First of all, think of everything he's responsible for. Buffy. Angel. Firefly. AVENGERS. The man helped to write Toy Story. He's a creative genius who has contributed so much to the popular culture in which I grew up that it isn't really funny. It's something that I'd love to be able to replicate in my own career, even though it might never be possible. Joss Whedon has written some of the most prolific scripts of my childhood and adolescence as well as created some of the greatest characters to have existed in the last twenty years.

I mean come on. The man wrote and directed one of the biggest comic book adaptations EVER.

Joss Whedon is amazing.

But it isn't just because of how he writes or the creativity that he exudes that makes me a lifetime devotee. I've always been impressed with the way that Joss Whedon treats women in his productions. His characters are always well rounded and interesting, but his women are on a whole other level. As an avid feminist and a man who doesn't take any crap about "strong women" in media, Joss Whedon is one of the most prolific supporters of female equality and strength. I particularly loved the way he treated Scarlet Johannsen's character, the Black Widow, in his adaptation of The Avengers.

There were plenty of opportunities for her to be weak and helpless, for her to be reduced to a sex object in a tight catsuit. But instead Joss Whedon made her a kick ass strong lead character who carried her own story. And even though there were hints of her sexuality and a romantic entanglement with Hawkeye, it wasn't the be all and end all of her character.

The same was true with Buffy. She was strong and independent, but she was weak and in love and insecure. She was a real person.

Joss Whedon doesn't believe in strong female characters. He believes in real female characters, and that's what I love about him.

That's why Joss Whedon is my hero.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Are You Seriously Going to Do That Again?

After spending two long months preparing for the blog tour and two weeks watching my posts go live on various sites and spending days wracked with nerves as reviews come in, some would wonder why I'd want to do such a thing ever again.

But I do.

And I am.

With the release of the second novel coming in a few months, it's time to get prepared to set up the blog tour for that. And that means another round of emails, writing guest posts, and sending out books for review. It'll be something else to do and something wonderful to see with all the great blogs who took part in my very first blog tour.

I think it's mostly the blogs who chose to participate that make me want to do the whole thing over again. Every single one of the blogs and their runners were fantastic. They made the process go so smoothly that I don't dread the next tour. I'm actually looking forward to it.

I'm already in the planning stages of the second blog tour and the cover reveal for the second novel. That's probably what I'll spend most of the next week on.

At least one of my New Year's Resolutions is coming to fruition. I'm already a third of the way through one of them!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Blog Tour In Review

Well, my first blog tour is officially over. Several guest posts, a feature, and three reviews. I can't say that's too bad for two weeks.

Plus I had over 50 entries into the giveaway for the prize pack and the eBooks. Announced here, for the first time, are the winners of the giveaway.


Congratulations to the lucky winners, and thank you for participating in the giveaway!

I want to thank the wonderful blogs and reviewers who participated in my very first blog tour! You all made everything run so smoothly and were wonderful to work with!

The lovely blogs who were part of the blog tour were:

An Unconventional Librarian
Simply Megan
Pretty In Fiction
Becky's Barmy Book Blog
Tales of Books and Bands
Bibliophilic Book Blog
Hopeless Bibliophile
I Read to Relax
Bookscape Report
Howling Turtle

Thank you all so much for participating and for making my first foray into blog tours a wonderful experience. I look forward to working with you all again in the future!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

My First 100 Posts

It's hard to believe that I've written a hundred posts for the blog. I find it difficult to fathom that I've come up with a hundred different things (sort of) to write about. And I wonder how I'm going to continue to come up with things to write about.

I want to make this blog about more than just my writing. I want to be able to write something for readers, for people who don't write or who may not even know much about who I am. I don't want to be one of those social justice bloggers or anything, and I certainly don't know enough to be one anyway. But I do want to open the blog up to a wider audience.

The thing is, I'm just not sure how to do that. Perhaps I should start an Instagram account or something like that. Something that will help to get my name out there a little more.

As I look back at the first 100 posts of my blog, I'm surprised at what I've actually done. I've finished one novel and nearly completed first revisions on the second. I've done a blog tour and a giveaway. And I'm planning the release of my second novel in June.

It may have been a short 100 posts, but I've gotten a lot done in those days.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Living with Mental Illness

It's something that no one likes to talk about. For most people, it's something that is kept under wraps and hidden away from the people around them. It's just something that no one else needs to know. I'm talking about mental illness.

But I think that's stupid and more harmful than helpful.

Just because we don't talk about mental illness doesn't mean that it will stop existing. And it certainly won't help those people who struggle in silence every day. People like me.

I'm not ashamed to say that I live with a mental illness. It's more common than most people think, and it isn't helpful for people to suffer in silence when it comes to something like this. Having a strong support system and the right medical intervention is necessary to make sure that you are living with mental illness and not suffering from it.

I spend a lot of time writing, and that's the method that helps me to deal with the way that I feel most of the time. Writing gives me an outlet to put my feelings on paper, or to construct a world where I can deal with my fears and anxieties in a safe and controllable environment. That's more therapeutic sometimes than talking to my doctor.

There's no shame in having a mental illness. It isn't weakness or a punishment for something that you've done. It may be a part of you, but that doesn't make it your defining feature. Mental illness is something that can strengthen you or break you, depending on how you face it. And I've found that doing your best to be honest and face it head on is the best way to make sure that you are in control. That's what it's all about, after all, putting yourself in a position where you are in control and not your illness.

People with mental illness aren't crazy. We aren't weak, we aren't seeking attention, and we certainly aren't lazy. There are a thousand different facets to how a mental illness will play out, and none of them are predictable when you haven't walked a mile in our shoes.

We aren't broken. Just bent.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Why I Write

I think this question is asked of every person who identifies themselves at a writer at one point or another. I know people have asked me a thousand times why I spend my time writing stories that few people may ever read. "What's the point?" they ask. "Why do you write so much?"

It's something that I don't know if I can explain in a way that would make sense to anyone other than another writer. But I'll give it a try.

Writing for me is like therapy. It's a way to get feelings and thoughts out in a way that is safe and different. And it's something that is so strong inside me that there's no ignoring it. There's this urge to create these worlds and put these thoughts on paper, to let these characters out of my head and into a world of their own. It's like an impulse, an urge that cannot be ignored or left out of my life. If I don't write, I don't feel whole.

There have been times where I've woken up in the middle of the night and couldn't sleep for the ideas that were twisting around in my head. I had to get up and boot up my laptop just to get the thoughts out so that I could go back to sleep. This is what it's like dealing with a writer's mind. There's no stopping it, and there's no ignoring it when the urge hits.

I wonder sometimes what my life would be like if I didn't write. And the thing that makes me certain that I was born to be a writer is that I can't imagine my life without writing. There's a hole in my heart when I think of being without writing in my life. It means so much to me.

I suppose that's really why I write. Because it is part of me. It's my heart and soul. There's nothing I can do that will stop the way I feel when I write. It makes me feel alive, whole, and purposeful.

That's why I write.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Finding Your Writing Genre

When I started writing, I always thought I would write purely young adult novels. I mean, that's what I love to read the most. Since I love to read it, that would be the thing I could write the easiest. It made the most sense.

But as I started writing novels, I realized that young adult didn't hold all the answers for me. I loved writing it. I could get a lot of things out of it, and it's easy for me to write those kinds of stories. But that doesn't mean that I've got to stick to that one specific genre.

One of the new novels that I'm working on is more of a new adult genre novel. And it doesn't stay purely in the realm of the traditional work, either. Especially not for me. But it's something that I've wanted to write for a while and something that means a lot to me.

There's no such thing as being stuck in a particular genre. While some authors do the best in writing a particular genre--because that's where their passions are or it's what they are the best at--some can go from one genre to another with little to no trouble. As much as I'm not a huge fan of Twilight anymore, I have to admit that Stephenie Meyer is good at going from the young adult to the adult genre. There are other authors that have done the same and been remarkably successful at it.

I hope one day for that to be me. I hope to be able to go from one genre to another and be successful at it because I can write stories that people enjoy. I don't necessarily want to be the next Stephenie Meyer or anything, but I do want to be the first Ley Hayley. I want people to enjoy the novels that I write and work that I do.

That's what happens when you aren't stuck in one genre. You can write a thousand different stories and appeal to a million different people. And isn't that what every author wants to do in the end?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Reading for Reviews

I've always loved to read. It has always been something that I've loved to do. I've enjoyed a dozen different genres and a thousand different books ever since I started reading. It's been something I've enjoyed for as long as I can remember.

But there's something different about reading for reviews. It's a different kind of reading, and sometimes it makes it hard to enjoy some of the novels that I read. Especially when I spend a lot of the time I'm reading taking notes about the good and bad things about the book. Sometimes I wish I could read just because it's fun. I know I could go back to doing that, but I choose to read for reviews. That's something that I love to do, too.

It's something new each time, finding those things that work for a particular novel and those things that don't. It's different from when I was in high school and having to dissect  things that I didn't want to read. Now I get to do it with books for myself, with books that I want to read.

I look forward to each new book that I read. And each new review that I get to do is something new for me as well.

I love to read. And that's not going to change any time soon.

Monday, March 10, 2014

How Much Can I Write in a Week?

Now that I'm on my spring vacation, I want to sit down and see how much I can get written on my various projects that I'm writing. I wonder exactly how much I can get done on each one. I try to write a thousand words a day, but this week I'd love to do two a day on each project.

I'm writing several different projects, each one a little different than the others. Some are fantasy, some are science fiction, and others are romances. Well, as close as I can get to a romance. They've got a bit more to them than that.

So I wonder, exactly how much CAN I write in a week?

I'd like to get a couple chapters finished on each work. It would be wonderful if I was able to finish at least one of them, but I doubt that will happen. Mostly because the fastest I've ever finished a novel is a month and a half. But I can get pretty close. I might even be able to finish editing one of the novels for release in September.

But this week will be all about writing and reading, getting my thoughts on paper, and being creative.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Spring Vacation is Here

Working at a university makes for a wonderful schedule sometimes. Weather closures? Day off! Federal holidays? Day off! Spring break? WEEK OFF!

And that's where I am today, at the beginning of my spring vacation, where I have a week open to me and a plethora of things to do. Now it's just deciding what exactly to do. I've got a ton of books that can be read and a couple projects to work on. It won't be like I'll be busy.

But I plan on getting some rest this vacation, too. I'm going to sleep in when I can and enjoy the days where I don't have to go to campus and sit in a tutoring lab all day. Not that I don't love my job, but sometimes you just need a break. And I think the time has come for me to have one of those lovely breaks.

I may even get some work done in preparing my next blog tour for the new Elemental Royals novel. It's running in June, so I should start looking through blogs for hosts for blog tours and giveaways. That may be something that I work on over vacation.

Most of all, though, I'm going to spend my time relaxing in the way that I know best. By reading and writing. And enjoying my days off by being glad that I don't have to go to work for a few days.

I'll dread going back to work, but I'll enjoy the days off while I can.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Why I Hate Doing Chores

I've always hated cleaning up after other people. Let's be honest, babies and kids are one thing because they don't know how to take care of themselves yet. But if you're an adult, you should pick up after your own dang self.

That's just my two cents.

But I have to do chores around my house and around my church to help keep things neat and tidy. Even though I despise doing them because it means I have to clean up someone else's mess. I, personally, am of the school of thought that says, "You make the mess, you pick it up."

And it annoys me so much when grown people make messes and expect someone else to clean up after them, but then turn around and get upset with kids for doing the same thing. Lead by example. If you want your kids and grandkids to behave and clean up after themselves, show them how to do it by doing it yourself.

I have no problem with cleaning up after someone who can't do it for themselves. If I'm getting paid to clean, it usually doesn't bother me so much, unless it's just so stupidly messy that it's obvious the person just left a mess and waited for me to pick it up. That bothers me so much that I can't stand it.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I hate doing chores.

Rant over.

Friday, March 7, 2014

My Guilty Pleasure: Dance Moms

I have a lot of guilty pleasures when it comes to television. Most of them are trashy reality shows or trashy talk shows that are on during the day. But the one that I can't ever miss, that I have to DVR and watch if I have something to do is Dance Moms on Lifetime.

The show follows a competitive dance team out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania led by the renowned dance teacher, Abby Lee Miller. The team is made up of mostly late elementary school girls who are all brilliant dancers. Every single one of them is a talent that is breathtaking to watch. But their moms are insane.

And that's what makes the show so wonderfully fun to watch.

Like most reality shows, the moms are almost always fighting with one another. They're jealous of the fact that one woman's daughter gets more solos or lead parts in group dances. Or they're upset that one mother is always ratting out the others to Abby and not being a "team player." (Anyone who watches the show knows both of those descriptions are about the exact same Mom!)

But they're also working hard to teach their daughters that the world doesn't revolve around dance, and that being a good person is more important than winning. And that's where the moms and Abby often conflict. For Abby, there is nothing more important than first place. Her two favorite sayings are "second place is the first loser" and "everyone's replaceable," and she makes sure the students and moms who get on her bad side are well aware of these sayings. And how much power she has over their daughters' careers as dancers.

What I love most about this show is that the girls are such beautiful dancers. I love watching them dance at the end of the show. Those are my favorite moments, when the girls step on stage, the music starts, and they let go of everything. Those are the best times.

Of course, watching the moms go crazy is pretty entertaining too.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Working on Multiple Projects at Once

I've mentioned before why doing writing warm ups incredibly important to get you in the groove for writing. And in a  way these blogs help me with my warm ups. Given, I do many of them in advance, but still it gives me a chance to spread my wings a little bit and talk about a lot of different things. Especially when I head over to my review blog and start writing about those things that I'm interested in as far as book adaptations and book reviews. 

But sometimes I can't help but write on two or three projects all at once. It's strange and sometimes it's confusing, but there isn't any other way to keep the bothersome pull to write at bay.

I have to keep myself organized when it comes to writing one more than one project at a time. I have to keep my brain separated into the two or three different worlds so that they don't accidentally cross over. And more than anything, I have to remind myself that these are my worlds, my characters, and my stories. I can decide where they go. 

Right now, I'm working on the final Elemental Royals novel and on another project that I'm going to publish--possibly under another name. I'm not sure about it yet. But the story is there and it means a lot to me. And those are always the stories that are the ones that hang around, that beg to be written. The ones that won't leave me alone.

I'm close to getting to one of my first resolutions for the new year. One of them was to finish the Elemental Royals trilogy. And I'm getting close to that since I'm working on the last novel as it is. I'm nowhere near the actual end of the novel, but at least I'm working on it. Another resolution is getting close to being reached as well. I'm close to finishing one of the two novels I want to finish for the year. 

With the upcoming break from work that I'll have next week, I'll be able to get a lot of writing done. Who knows, I might be able to make a lot of headway on these projects. 

The only thing I'll have to do is keep them separate, keep them clear, and make them as great as possible. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Blog Tour and Giveaway!

I know everyone is probably sick of hearing about the blog tour at this point, but it's my first real foray into publicity and I want to keep the world out there. As a reminder, here is the schedule of events for the blog tour for The Forest's Heir.

6th-7th May Bookscape Report
14th May I Read to Relax
15th May Ley's Library
26th May To Read or Not To Read
TBD Book Briefs

I'm also running a giveaway that will go through to the 15th of the month. It includes 6 copies of the book in eBook form (Nook and Kindle compatible) and a grand prize pack. The grand prize pack includes:

  • Signed paperback copy of The Forest's Heir
  • Team Gavin button
  • Team Andrew button
  • The Forest's Heir minibutton
  • Elemental Royals water bottle
The prize pack will be shipped to anywhere in the continental US within 30 days of the close of the contest. The eBook copies will be delivered through email at the close of the contest.

You can enter the contest using the widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How to Deal with Review Nerves

Well, today is the day. My first "official" review posts on the blogs. I'm honestly sort of afraid to look. It's going to be one of those days I think.

If I'm going to be a writer, then I'm going to have to get used to having nerves about reviews. Especially when I start putting out ARCs of new books. They'll be judging my books on advanced copies and all that fun stuff. I have to learn to deal with having other people judge my work and possibly not always liking it.

So how am I going to do that? That's the million dollar question.

Honestly, today is going to be an easy day to deal with the nerves, mostly because I'm going to be working all day. I'll be busy pretty much every hour between 8 am and 5 pm, so it'll be had to sneak away and read the blog until I get home. Which, honestly, is both good and bad. I'll have work to help keep me occupied, but I'm also going to have to deal with the increasing nerves the longer it takes for me to get to read the review.

What am I going to do if it's good? Probably dance around the room. And then ask if I can use the review on my website and put it in the intro to the next book.

What about if it's bad? That's what I'm afraid of. What I don't know how I'll deal with. I don't know how I'll look at a bad review. The professional and mature thing to do is to look at the review and see two major things.

  1. It's just one person's opinion (unless I get A LOT of bad reviews, then I have a problem)
  2. What are they saying is wrong? Can I fix it in a new edition?
I'm going to go into this with an open mind and a professional attitude. After all, I asked them to do this, didn't I?

Monday, March 3, 2014

My First Review Posts Tomorrow!

I'm a great big bundle of nerves. It's one thing for me to look at the reviews that get posted to by the people who have paid money to buy my book and read it. Those people weren't asked for their opinion. But they were so moved by the story that they wanted to give an opinion on it. But it's something else when I've asked someone to actually read my book and give a real, honest to goodness review of it.

My friends are waiting for how I'm going to react tomorrow. I know there's going to be a moment when I'm going to be afraid to read the blog where the first review is posted. I'm not going to be sure whether I want to read it or whether I want someone else to read it and break the news to me. Who knows how it's going to go? I won't know what it will be like until I get up tomorrow and see the blog.

Today I'm just trying to get a handle on myself and figure out what I'm going to do with myself. How am I going to keep my wits about me at work and figure out how to keep my attention on work when all I want is to check to see if someone says that my book is crap. I'm terrified.

It's that simple. I'm completely terrified.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Ever Growing To Be Read Pile

I always have a huge pile of books that I want to read. I have a long list on my computer of books that are coming out and things that I want to check out from my local library or buy. There's also a pile of books sitting on my desk that are waiting to be read and reviewed for Ley's Library. I suppose I took on a huge project when I decided to open two blogs at the same time. Oh dear.

Right now, I've got six books sitting on my desk that are waiting to be read and reviewed. That doesn't include the series of eBooks on my Kindle that I haven't gotten to read yet. I'll be reading and reviewing for months and still not get finished. Maybe I should make myself a schedule. I've got to work faster. I've got to tackle that To Be Read pile, ladies and gentlemen.

Hmm.... a schedule sounds like a good idea. I should do that. I should put together a schedule of when I should have certain books finished, read, and reviewed.

I think I'm going to do that.

And maybe I should stop trolling my local library once a week and checking out books when I have ten sitting at home that I haven't read yet. That might be a good idea too.

How do other book bloggers take control of their TBR pile? I have no idea, and I'd love to know.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Mother Nature Has Issues

Where I live, Mother Nature has been having issues with deciding whether she's going to stay in winter or start spring. We've had days where it's been beautiful and warm. Days like it was a wonderful spring where everything was just amazing. I could walk around in a t-shirt and some light jeans without a jacket. Everything would be great. The next day, it's freezing and there's a threat of snow.

Welcome to global warming, ladies and gentlemen.

This is what happens when we destroy our environment. When we put our economic desires (oil and other fossil fuels) over the good of our environment and our atmosphere. Our climate suffers and our weather goes crazy. And it sucks.

It makes me sick. Physically sick. I get colds and all that lovely fun stuff because of rapid changes in weather. And I hate it.

Plus, when it snows (which 98% of the time I hate) I miss work, which makes me sad. I like my job, even though it doesn't leave me much time for writing. Then I have to hustle to catch up to make sure that the students are on point with what they need to know. It's frustrating when it snows, even if it is pretty for a little while.

So Mother Nature needs to make up her mind. Seriously.

Edited by - Stephanie King