Writing, art, passion, loneliness.

I just sent in a poetry submission. To a real publication (I am still unsure if my community college writing contest counts, but that’s a question for a poetry editor somewhere), and I find myself feeling strangely not relieved or excited. Just the same strange strong obligation to march ever onward.

I tried explaining this to someone recently. We were discussing ambition and motivation and life-in-general stuff, and explaining my perception of my life and goals wasn’t very relate-able. Writing is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do, not necessarily for money, or fame or success, but to do.

have to write. Not often or in any particular quantity, but it’s what I have, and I have always felt a weird undercurrent of obligation to do so. Also I’m getting kind of good at it at this point, so it’s easier than say, oil painting would be, in terms of expression of the self.

Anyway, the thing is, not everyone has that drive to share, to express, and I didn’t really know it until recently. Not every human on the planet is constantly obsessing about creating art in ways that other people can relate to. You see the urge in other things, relate-able social media, memes, etc. Storytelling is a part of most human cultures, but not everyone has a tiny voice threatening you every day to write, or else. Yeah, my passion threatens me, what does yours do?

The part we did agree on, in this conversation, was that any endeavor that requires focus requires ALL OF THE FOCUS. This is part I struggle with. I can’t neglect the routine, the self-care, socializing. Those are all  things I need to stay sane so I can write. I am never going to be that shut-in genius that people talk about in hushed tones about my dedication to my craft. I like living and doing and laughing, and if that means I blow off editing this damn poetry manuscript for another month, I shall. And you shan’t stop me with your guilt-trip, self. SHAN’T.

Anyway, writing is lonely. Unless you collaborate with another person (and this idea is HORRIFYING to me, because control issues), you’re bound to spend a lot of time alone, with paper. Lots of paper. And pens. And computers. That is an incredibly off-putting realization, for me.

But I just submitted some poetry. And I’ll do it again. And I’ll continue to (very slowly) write this book (and the three others I’ve started since I started that one).

Why I Swiped Left On You

Hell to no, to the no no no no no
Ironically, this photo was linked to a much less funny but similar post on HuffPo, written by a dude.

  • You have a lot of weird facial hair in every single picture. I interpreted this as an extreme commitment to your beard/mustachios/mutton chops. Like more commitment than you’ll have to an actual human relationship
  • you have no photos
  • you have one photo
  • you have all group photos
  • it is unclear who you are in each photo
  • your first picture is you and your extremely hot friend. The comparison is not flattering. Also can I have his number?
  • you are holding a fish and you’re not a marine biologist
  • you are petting a drugged tiger
  • you are posing with an extremely cute dog you don’t own, which I will therefore never get to meet
  • you have a shirtless photo and you’re not at the beach
  • you have a shirtless photo and you’re not even outside
  • you have a shirtless photo (leave me some mystery)
  • All of your photos are with girls
  • Any of your photos are with a girl. Oh, she’s your roommate/sister/cousin? Too bad you’ll never get a chance to explain that because I swiped left.
  • All of your photos are with one specific girl. Why are you on this app?
  • You’re smoking a tobacco product
  • You’re drinking in all of your photos.
  • Your first photo is at the gun range. I admire your Beretta but I am not interested in dating the Beretta.
  • You have sunglasses on in every picture. Why? Do you not have eyes? What’s wrong with them?
  • You have a hat on in every picture. I get it, some men have hair loss. I’m going to find out eventually.
  • Close-lipped smiles in every picture. I don’t have dental insurance either, bruh, but I’m going to notice your teeth like, right away, when we meet.
  • All of your selfies are taken from lap level. While I’m pleased to see there’s nothing in your nose, this is an extremely unflattering angle.
  • All of your selfies are exactly the same.
  • None of your photos show your actual face. I get it, you hate selfies, but I can’t see what you look like from 30ft away/with snow goggles on. Sick rail though.
  • All of your photos are “funny.” Like, Halloween costume, ladies heels, morph suit, you passed out on your friend’s couch. What a sense of humor!
  • You did something ironically in a photo and I thought you were serious. Esp. if you’re making fun of women.

Editor’s Note (I am the editor): As of like, one week after I initially wrote this in March ’17, I completely changed my swiping criteria. Here are the updated auto-left swipes.

  • You’re not a dog
  • or a cat.
  • You’re a human man.
  • You’re human.
  • No.
  • I deleted all of these apps.

I plan to die alone with cats.

The Year of Finishing Things

Ah, 2017. I’m excited to be in you.

Last year was long and eventful and a lot of stuff happened. For me, a lot of last year’s events were good! I got a job as a flight attendant, moved to a new state, made new friends, did a ton of traveling, and worked my tail off. I was very goal oriented and had a lot of personal growth and very little backsliding on things like eating a whole pizza in one sitting. One could call it a success.

I’m especially proud of how determined I was to write more in 2016. I worked a lot on the urban fantasy book I started in 2013. I attempted NaNoWriMo and actually did pretty okay for the first half of the month, given how much I was flying. November is always the busiest month. I wrote about 15,000 words, which is kind of a lot. And I’m not done. (btw, if you’re one of my super excellent beta readers I’ll start posting the newer bits soon!)

I also wrote poems and blogs and started a memoir/collection of stories about the funny experiences I had dating in LA while I was living there. I’ve only done about 7 tales/chapters but I made myself laugh and that’s the ultimate goal, non?

I also failed at a lot of things in 2016, but I’m not too torn up about it. I need adversity to really thrive, because let’s face it, I’m lazy as hell. Adversity gets me out of bed in the morning.

So, cheers to The Year of Finishing Things! Whether it’s the book I swore I’d complete in 2016, my Goodreads Reading Challenge (150 books was extremely ambitious, 100 is much more my speed for this year), projects I promised to undertake and didn’t, my laundry, and a good K.O. in Mortal Kombat, my only resolution for 2017 is to finish things.

Also: I’m not a quote person but I’m getting more and more basic so this quote by Brad Paisley. I keep thinking if I can just write a little bit every day I’ll have a Harry Potter length book by next year. Let me have this dream :p

How I read ebooks for free part II

Read part I

Method 2: BookBub

Bookbub.com is a subscription email service that sends you a daily email listing free or discounted ebooks. It’s a free service that helps millions of readers discover limited-time deals. Members receive a personalized daily email.

homepagescreen

Join for free by choosing your favorite ebook genres and retailers at BookBub.com. Once signed up, you get BookBub’s daily email with limited-time discounts on ebooks matching your preferences. When you see a deal you like, click through to the ebook retailer of your choice and download the book from there.

Pros:

It’s super easy to set up your preferred genres. The emails you get will be tailored just for your preferences.

Occasionally you’ll get author suggestions. Once you follow them, you’ll get notified when their books are free or discounted.

FREE! WE LOVE FREEEE. You’re going to discover a lot of new books by authors you might have not checked out if you had to pay for their books.

Cons:thedailyemail

It’s a daily email. If you, like me, are constantly drowning in a sea of unread emails (and books) this might be a bit much for you.

Some books are in the public domain (so you don’t need to pay for the format, it’s already available online) or self published, so I would definitely recommend looking into reviews and checking to see if they are quality worth reading before you begin.

Not all of the books in your list will be free. Some days you’ll get emails that are all books from 1.99-0.99. Which is fine. But we want freeeeeee.

Happy reading! Check out Part I!

 

p.s. This is not an ad. BookBub did not pay me to tell you about them, I actually use this service and I love it.

Waiting, Mental Health and Writing

Grave Visions (Alex Craft, #4)Grave Visions, the fourth and latest installment of the Alex Craft books came out today. I was fanatical about this series when I read them initially in 2012, which is when the third book came out.

I’ve waited four excited years for this day. Every time the publication date was pushed back I felt a bit of confusion and disappointment, but not much. The reason? Kalayna Price is an author. A really really good one. Her Haven series is also really great. That aside, she’s a human.

The only hint of explanation (which I was not owed, nor was any other reader) was a blog post from February of 2013, in which she told us that in order to maintain her health and wellbeing she needed to withdraw from touring and appearances and heal.

This resonated with me because I write and deal with health issues. Writing is extremely mentally demanding. The brain is a powerful thing, and the body is affected. In my experience dealing with mental health issues, the physical toll can be harsh. If your physical state is under stress, you can pretty much kiss goodbye any ease in using your mental faculties.
Kalayna Price is doing the dang thing and I’m incredibly inspired by it, whatever her troubles may be. Four years sounds like eons to an anxious reader, but to someone who has spent the last four years getting it together (me) it means work and recovering and more work. Brava, Kalayna. I can’t wait to read your book.

How I read ebooks for free part I

I bet that got your attention. I’m only addressing legal/questionably legal methods,here. As someone who one day hopes to make a living from the sale of books, I can’t, in good conscience, endorse illegally downloading ebooks. Don’t worry, with this handy guide you won’t need to!

Method 1: My public library! (I <3 U LAPL)

Okay, get this, some libraries have ebook collections! WHAAAT.

It’s easy, you just obtain a library card, go to the library website, and find their resources. The Los Angeles Public Library’s collection is called “OverDrive.” While you’re in there, check out the other collections. There are some cool resources in there, such as scanned historical documents, newspapers, and music.

lapl

Pros:

You can read new releases!
The ebooks usually come in a couple of different formats, such as DRM and non-DRM epubs, or in Kindle format. (Selecting Kindle format takes you to Amazon’s Kindle content manager).

You can download to your computer, or straight to any tablet, e-reader with an internet browser, or even your phone, and open them using an ebook reading app if the format isn’t compatible with your device. (I use Moon+ Reader and Aldiko, the latter of which is great for DRM protected material).

IT’S FREE AND LEGAL!!!! and INSTANT!

Cons:

Your library’s collection may not have EVERYTHING. (However if you’re patient you can always request they acquire the titles you’d like to read. Just make sure that title is available in ebook format from the publisher)

The library’s collection has a finite number of copies. (Usually 2). This often annoys me because I don’t really understand how an easily copied file can logically be called unavailable, but the publisher and the author have to make dollars somehow. My library has a hold system just like they do for physical copies. I am too impatient to use it but if you are willing to wait a couple weeks the world is your oyster.

Like any library material you check out, you have a certain amount of time in which to read it, after which the file becomes inaccessible on your device. The Kindle files are neat because you get an email warning you that your library loan is ending. (I guess some of the non DRM epub files might not be subject to this but don’t quote me)

Happy reading! Keep an eye out for Part II!

WIR: First post of 2014, skinwalkers and vampires and con men, oh my! & I still hate Divergent.

Hiii.

I just clicked through myself on a comment on someone else’s blog (you can see which blogs I like to read in my left sidebar) and I was like DAMN GURL u ain’t been blogging this year.

So welcome to my first post of the year. It’s not a review, obvi. I’m just catching you up I guess.

I HAVE been reading, though the currently reading shelf on my goodreads account hasn’t changed much in forever.

I still haven’t finished A Memory of Light, nor have I started Origin, the last book in the Lux series. Maybe I’ll do that this week.

Skinwalker (Jane Yellowrock, #1)I do have a glowing recommendation to make. Two actually! The first is the Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter. Jane is my favorite badass lately, and there are so many things about her and her world I absolutely love.

I discovered the series seeking out urban fantasy books set in New Orleans. There is so much mystique and charm about this city (which I’ve never visited), and I love learning more about it through books. The secondary location for a lot of the first book, Skinwalker, is Asheville, NC—another city I’m fascinated by in book settings.

One of the best things about the series is that as a female character Jane isn’t one of those inexplicably gorgeous everyone-falls-all-over-themselves characters. I mean, she gets propositioned a lot, but that’s kind of a consequence of being a fairly decent looking woman surrounded by men in a patriarchal society.

On a brighter note, there is a lot of female friendship in Jane’s life! So refreshing to have a guy’s girl with female friends! Also did I mention she kicks a lot of ass? There are vampires in this series (boo) but Jane hasn’t hooked up with any yet and I’m on book 6 or 7 (yay), but they are all really hot (boo, wait, yay?) so I figure it’s only a matter of time.

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1)The second recommendation is for The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch. I can’t really gush too much about this book, and I read it in December (yes, someone got a copy of it from me for Xmas). It’s really smart and intricate. It is long, but that seems to bother people less these days than it ever has before. I call it the Rowling/Martin Effect. But if you like con men, plotting, nefarious deeds, and amusing comraderie, definitely definitely check this out.

There are a few more books and series I’ve read lately, which you can find on my Goodreads (I haven’t been reviewing them, just rating), and I’m proooobably going to post about Vampire Academy after I see the movie. I just have to find a theater where it is still playing. And someone to schlep out to it with me. I’m pretty sure all of the usual suspects have seen it already.

Am I going to see Divergent? Eh. I never saw The Host, and I actually liked that book. I wasn’t a fan of Divergent.

Anyway, life has been/is still pretty crazy around these parts for me, but I find myself missing posting to this blog, so hopefully you’ll see more from me in the near future.

As always, I’d love to know what you’re reading, or what you thought about anything I talked about here!

p.s. I’m going to do a giveaway soon, so keep an eye out for that!

 

NaNoWrimo: Update on extreme failure

So predictably I haven’t been writing for NaNo. I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s the pressure, maybe it’s that I am just really bad at juggling life and stuff, but I’ve topped out at about 6 or 7k words.

Top 3 reasons why:

 

1. I got bored.  

Like, really really bored. My story, which seemed so new and exciting was starting to feel real. Like real life. I knew too much about it and I couldn’t be excited about something so mundane. The ironic part is it’s an urban fantasy, so maybe I just need to up the amount of dragons and monsters and butt kicking and stuff.

2. The mood.

Seriously, what’s up with that? I really wanted to want to write. I did. But I was invariably tired or grumpy or couldn’t focus. What are this.

3. That pesky social life.

Now, don’t laugh, because I’m not making this up. People actually wanted to hang out with me. It’s like every time I even put my fingers to the keyboard my phone would go off. Usually friends, but sometimes work. I had four work events, but I could have written despite those. It was the fact that I had friends to talk to that really threw me.

Unfortunately there isn’t a real solution for any of this. Whenever I am feeling particularly loser-like I am usually too restless to sit and write. So even if this was an off season for me and the calling cards ceased coming in, I doubt I’d be any more productive.

I’d have to write like 9k words a day to finish NaNo by the end of the week. Can I do it? Probably. I’ve written 10k in a day before, but that took monumental effort. Will I do it? I don’t know. I am not sure I can commit to that. It’s a really draining endeavor, and to be honest it’s not really up to me. I’d basically need someone (coughboyfriendcough) to take care of all of the things for the next five days. I don’t know if that’s something I can ask. Or will receive.

I’m pretty disappointed in myself, but it’s not too late. On the upside I’ve been reading, and have a review to post later today. I’m also doing a blog tour for T.M. Franklin’s The Guardians on Dec. 2. So check back in a week to see what I thought of the book (spoiler alert, I loved it) and read my interview with the author!

How is your NaNo going?

NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month, week 2

So I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year. This is my fifth or something year participating and I have yet to win, so I’m really trying to put all of my mental resources into writing, which means less (or no) reading. And probably no review blogging.

 I’ll try to post here with my updates. I really like my story idea, and I think it’s going along swimmingly, though I’ve got less than half of my day 8 target words written. I’m hoping to use the next couple of hours to really knock some of my word count out of the park.

Word count: 5074
Cups of coffee desired: 2309410397410410

What I’m reading: everything, pretty much.

Do you ever get the sudden rush of horror and despair when you think about how many books there are in the world (at least, in languages you can read), and how little time you have to read them?

I’ve been experiencing a bit of that lately. Just a bit. *stares blankly at wall*

Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, #1)I’m halfway-ish through the final book in the Wheel of Time series. I’ve let it sit in the backburner of my kindle because after racing through thirteen other books I don’t really want to be finished with it. It’s not really the type of series I’m likely to ever reread, so I guess I’m trying to keep the world alive in my mind.

I’ve kinda gottten sucked into Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series, which is a testament to how entertaining they are, because I am SO very over vampires. But these books are like a rocket, you get sped through these stories and are kinda hooked. Like the (good) action movie equivalent of urban fantasy.

Succubus Blues (Georgina Kincaid, #1)I’ve been reading other series too, but so quickly I haven’t had the wherewithal to review the books individually. Richelle Mead’s Georgina Kincaid series is six books long, and I tore through them. I doubt I’ll ever get around to reviewing them, so I’ll just say that I enjoyed the world she crafted, even though Georgina being a succubus kind of sank the character into the hot-girl-at-whom-all-male-characters-throw-themselves territory. I’m not such a huge fan of this, but I enjoyed the story, which is very romance heavy. Shrug. It was pretty good anyway.

Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, #1)I also started Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts series. I’m on the latest right now. This series is really interesting! It’s set in this sort of dystopic future society where ghosts are murderous and are held in captivity in the City of Eternity by the Church, whose motto is “Facts are Truth.” Cesaria “Chess” Putnam, the protagonist, is a drug addict with an insanely depressing past. She’s a weird anti-heroine that isn’t really that hard to like. I love the gritty aspect of the setting, a look into an addict character like Chess’s mind, and the slang Kane uses, which other reviewers have noted is actually brilliant in that it’s not racist. It’s also kind of infectious. Bump (a pimp/drug dealer) is probably the most entertaining dialogue to read. He uses the eff word with true artistry.

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real MagicHmm, what else? I read a book called The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic which I adored. I think I should definitely review that in depth. (I just checked Emily Croy Barker’s Twitter account and she’s working on a sequel. YAAAASSSSS)

That’s all really, right now. I’ve been really busy this last week and kind of burned out on reading, but that’s usually temporary. I’m thinking about getting back into more contemporary general fiction and literary fiction. I’ve been glutting myself on fantasy books to cleanse my mind palette, but I’m starting to feel as if my standards are being lowered by popular fiction. I’m open to book suggestions, although I have a stack of to-read books on my night stand that nearly reaches from the floor to my hip…maybe after the new year.

What have you been reading?