Here’s What’s Up: Outlander & More!

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Here’s what’s up, another Saturday is here, can you believe it? I hope so otherwise there might be trouble in paradise. What else is up is that I’m catching up, or at least I’m trying, it’s only May right? Ha, I wish. Okay today I’d like to confess one of my latest binges, the TV adaptation of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I can’t tell you what channel to watch it on because I streamed it on Netflix although they only have seasons 1 & 2 I’ve learned she’s writing another book and they’re filming season five. What! For real.

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The TV series first aired in 2014 while the first book was published in 1991.

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From Goodreads:

Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another…

In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach an ‘outlander’ in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire’s destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life …and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire…and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

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This isn’t the first I’ve heard of this series, it was at least two years ago probably longer. I listened and watched many an author interview in which there was a panel of authors that included Diana Gabaldon, at least one also had George R.R. Martin. I listened along interested enough, though I didn’t know anything about her story or characters. Then one day several weeks ago I needed some background noise and so I went to Netflix and there it was. I thought, meh, what the heck, I’ve heard of this story so I’ll give it a shot. This became my go to show while riding my spin bike and winding down the evening.

While romance is not my go to genre this story is also fantasy, which is my genre. It has not disappointed. I indulged in the first two seasons with interest, intrigue, and plenty of shock. However upon learning there’s going to be a fifth season I can’t wrap my mind around this story seemingly going on forever. Sorry to all you die hard fans but it could have ended with the second season if you ask me. I like Jamie and Claire (the main protagonists) although I like Claire less because she annoys me sometimes.

It’s a heck of a story full of emotion and shocking twists. There’s also A LOT of graphic violence, sexual violence and of course sex. So if you’re sensitive or triggered don’t watch this show, it’s love and warfare across the board. Diana Gabaldon knows her craft to say the least, and it’s fair to say she did some impressive research. Nevertheless, I still think this is a good example of a story that shouldn’t go on and on just because it can.

DISCLAIMER: I know almost nothing about season three so if you feel like you want to slap me for my presumption I’m sorry. It’s just that I don’t believe that’s it’s going to be as interesting to follow the next generation around time and space. I’m sorry but until I gain access to the third season I’m going to hold my position.

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The main reason I want to talk about this today is because even as I haven’t (and won’t) read the books (because I’ve seen the show) there’s a lot a writer can learn from this series. For one this story shows us why it’s super important to have tension and to build on that tension in your story. Claire Randall is married in 1946 but falls in love in 1743 at the same time she’s dying to return to the present. Tension? Yup, loads. At the beginning of the show we see how Claire & Frank (her present day husband) truly love each other. So when she travels back in time we can feel her desperation to return to her husband. Of course she’s desperate to get back for a lot of reasons but we all worry for Frank and what he must be thinking after his wife mysteriously disappears. And then she has to marry Jamie in order to survive? Claire’s struggle with this marriage and the fact that she didn’t ever want to leave her husband is palpable. We the audience ride the emotional roller coaster alongside these characters.

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When I think about this story and The All Souls trilogy I’m taking notes for my own writing. It’s clear to me that a good story is like a tree. There’s a main theme – a witch finds a highly prized missing manuscript, a mysterious vampire is stalking her, and her powers are growing; a married woman accidentally travels 200 years into the past, while trying to get home she falls in love and must choose between her two lives – like the main trunk, it is the base of the story, the foundation. The trunk then branches out to large branches that divide further into small branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, and fruits. When constructed the reader/audience is not left wanting. We don’t simply hope for the ending. We want to explore and discover all these nuanced divisions from the trunk. When written like this I think you’re always giving the reader something. Of course you have to hold out for the big reveals but let’s face it we don’t want to wait until the end of the book to learn new things and to get answers. Reveal other things to the reader. Teach us. Show us your world so we can explore because we can’t do it on our own. These other stories all build on the main trunk/theme ramping up my interest in the larger story. The added complexity raises the stakes and the tension.

As I may have mentioned before in The All Souls trilogy I was impressed that every chapter seemed to reveal something new to me. For instance in book two, Shadow of Night, I recall a chapter that ends with Matthew and Diana on a date. I really could care less about their date but whatever. As the chapter, and their date, came to a close I expected nothing more but a steamy end to their night. I got that but I also got a last minute reveal, like really last minute and it was a good one. Not only was that awesome for me as a reader but as a writer I was really impressed. That piece of information also brought me an answer to a couple of questions then brought up a host more. A lot of writers would have ended with that date, not every chapter can be thrilling right? And a lot of people would have been fine with that. But Deborah Harkness wasn’t. She let you relax into their date then BAM guess what!?

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Needless to say that stuck with me. As I develop my own story I remind myself to give my reader new information often, even if it’s little bits and pieces. Add buds, leaves, and flowers to your story tree, don’t just build a bare tree like a stick figure. As a reader I don’t think I want to read a story that just starts and finishes unless it’s a short story. Reflecting on these stories and more, stories that I really enjoyed reading, I recognize that I’m apt to get lost in them if they’re more than just a main theme/trunk. It seems that it’s easier to forget you’re reading a story if it weaves around and doesn’t just travel from A to Z to answer the main question.

Think about it in terms of the clip below, in terms of boxing matches. Do you want to watch a fight where one guy just knocks out the other guy and we have a clear winner? Or do you want to watch a fight in which it’s a battle, they exchange blows, and you’re not quite sure just who will win but ultimately it’s a clear win (maybe someone does get knocked out)?

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Of course there’s a caveat. Don’t just add separate story lines and characters in an attempt to make your story more dynamic and nuanced. They have to grow naturally from the trunk, not be grafted on in a lab. Your reader will only be more upset to be sent on a fruitless tangent or one that feels forced. Brainstorm. Ask yourself a lot of questions about your character’s motivations and your own. Question if what you just wrote makes sense in regard to your characters. Make sure you can come back seamlessly from one of these other branches. Don’t just write it just to write it, we the reader will know and we’ll frown at you. Plus IMHO such moves add the wrong kind of weight to a story.

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Thanks so much for reading and visiting. I hope you found this post insightful both in terms of how you use reading and how you write. Please let me know if you did and how perhaps this helped you progress.

Have you seen or read Outlander? What are your thoughts?

Don’t forget to follow me if you enjoyed this and would like to hear more about what I’m reading, writing and watching. If you want to read more of Here’s What’s Up with Writing CLICK HERE.

Here you’ll find my reviews.

And my 2019 TBR.

Until next time,

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Here’s What’s Up With Writing

Look I did it, I made it back to writing a Saturday Here’s What’s Up post! Woo hoo! Sometimes it really is the small victories. 😉

Okay, so what is up? Well, here’s what’s up:

The point of this post is to share some resources/apps I use for my writing as well as to describe how I use a variety of methods to work on my novel. Sometimes it’s not a enough to just sit down with a pad of paper and a pen. Other times you just don’t have the time or capacity to hammer out a whole paragraph but you’re internally driven to work on your world and/or the story. If you don’t have the resources and/or flexibility to capitalize on that drive you might wind up doing something else entirely, liking surfing the net perhaps? Or social media? Yep, that kind of stuff. Allow me then to provide you some suggestions based on my own methodology.

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Voice Recorder

I have a couple different voice recording apps on my phone. Honestly I haven’t gotten into their details and just what all they can do or even compared them to each other. I just use them to record what I’m saying to capture my ideas. If I was going to present this recording I might care more but that’s another story.

When I’m in the car or walking my dog I can’t very well write, not by hand or by keyboard. But that doesn’t stop my wheels from turning (pun intended). It would be a tremendous waste to just let those thoughts go to the wayside. Maybe you have a great memory and those thoughts aren’t wasted but why take the chance? Sometimes I won’t need to listen to the recording afterward when I can write because I do remember, the very act of recording meant those thoughts were fleshed out and implanted in my brain.

I have a bluetooth headset that I wear so I’m not walking or driving around holding my phone talking into it. Turn on the voice recorder, record the date and time and maybe even what I’m doing and what’s happening in my life, then start talking. There are times I know just what I want to talk about – my character’s backstory or a new plot twist – and other times I have no idea what I want to talk about but I want to work on my story. In those cases I start off with what I last worked on in my story then I think about something that was a problem there or I think about what should happen next. Just talk to yourself, brainstorm. You might find this is easier than writing because you don’t have to edit your sentences or edit yourself as you would while writing actual chapters. Say whatever, discuss who, what, when, where, why, how, first, next, then, finally. Use voice recording for free form brainstorming.

Mindjet Maps

This is a specific app I use on my devices and have for some time. I use the free version and it works just fine for my informal yet important purpose. This app allows you to create maps for ideas, notes, tasks, etc. Think bubbles connected by lines to other bubbles, webs of ideas. It’s fabulous! You can zoom in and out, use dropbox (although I haven’t tried that yet), access anywhere, open and close branches of the web/map so you don’t have to see everything all at once or see it all open before you.

I use this resource when I don’t have a lot of time to write or I’m not in a position to haul out my portable keyboard, laptop or even a notebook. Sometimes that’s just too much. Mindjet Maps is great for me when I’m not drawn to working in complete sentences or paragraphs but I still want to work on story details. For example, I have a map of one my main character’s family and background. There’s a branch for her paternal and maternal families. These details are relevant to my story so it’s important I flesh out the details and know them at least for myself. There are bubbles for his mom, dad, siblings, birth, death, career, hobbies, and more. You can even draw arrows from one bubble to another to tie them together or make notes pertaining to a particular bubble. You can use icons, a variety of colors, and all sorts of customization, although you can’t use just any shape of bubble, you’ve got 3-4 options mostly just size difference.

These maps can serve as great references for when you are back to formally writing. Here you can record names and statistics such as age, schooling, career, hobby, physical details, family, etc. It’s also satisfying to work with this visual, especially if you’re a nerd you’ll have fun creating all kinds of new branches! This can be a great way to source new ideas if you’re having trouble. It’s a new way of looking at things as opposed to just strings of words on the page.

OneNote

This is a Microsoft service provided with Microsoft Office. You can download it across your devices as well as use on your computer. This means you can access it across devices, of course. I’ve been using OneNote for a long time so it tends to be my preferred program though Google drive/docs can serve a similar purpose.

Within OneNote you create “notebooks” that you can share with others should you want to. Once you’ve created your notebook (and you can make as many as you want) you then create and use as many folders as you’d like, they look like tabs across the top. And this goes on and on like having a notebook with an infinite number of “subjects” inside. You create pages within your folders and can go further to have subpages for those pages. You can move sections or pages from one folder to another. You can, let’s say you’re on a touchscreen with a stylus pen, use the handwriting function and write into the document. Your writing opens a block that you can move around the page, should you want to move horizontally you can, thereby dividing the page up how you want. You can do all that you would in word but more. It’s excellent.

OneNote saves and syncs automatically as you write, assuming you’re on a network that is it syncs automatically. So go ahead and type three pages on your computer, then when you’re in the waiting room sitting pull up OneNote on your phone and go over what you wrote, make changes, add to it, whatever. Go home later and pick up where you left off.

Scrivener

Last but not least, and newest to me, is Scrivener. I heard of this software long before I actually downloaded it for NaNoWriMo 2017. It is a paid service but I think it’s quite reasonable and worth it.

I’m still learning my way around Scrivener and haven’t been using it a lot lately for no other reason than I just haven’t. It’s not as accessible as some of these other programs I’ve described. I only use it on my laptop and desktop which I think is all you can do. But that doesn’t make it any less worth using.

In terms of organization it gets down to work even more so than OneNote although it is similar in that it’s arranged like a binder with folders and tabs and documents. You can create multiple binders and break them down from there. While Scrivener looks a little more primitive it’s complex and starts you off with a tutorial on how to use it. You can create notecards, use templates such as character sketch, and more. Also Scrivener provides the option to compile all your work together as a novel when you are done. You can sync and back up your documents and it saves automatically as you work. Also when you open a new project you have the option to choose blank, fiction, non-fiction, scriptwriting, or miscellaneous.

I’m not going to go into anymore detail here as I’m still very much learning this software but I do recommend it. You’ll find that this is a popular and well known program among writers.

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I need not mention but will, that I use pieces of paper (to add to binders later), notebooks of paper, notepads and journals to write as well. I might also use note cards although my organizational skills are lacking and will get a good heave-ho here soon. Also, I have a whiteboard set up on the wall in my house. This is a new thing but I’m looking forward to finding how best to use this for my story. So, here’s what’s up!

What about you? Do you use any of these tools for writing? Do you use others?

If you would like to share this post please link back to me and share proper credit. If you find this helpful hit the like button and let me know, I’d love to hear about how this helped you or how you’ve used these tools to your advantage. I really hope to share what I can that gets me through the process and gets my ideas flowing.

Don’t forget to check out my latest writing exercise post and let me know if you give it a try. I’m digging it!

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Like any job it’s important to have the necessary tools. Thanks so much for visiting and reading. Have a lovely day.

Here’s What’s Up With Writing

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Is it really Saturday again, already? Wow. As much as I would like to slow time down I fear that should we ever discover how to it would be an enormous mistake. It’s thoughts like that that make Science Fiction and Fantasy stories so appealing. We can explore possibilities and/or crazy hair-brained ideas in all their glory.

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Here’s What’s Up…

Today’s post is about writing and it’s about writing this blog. There’s so many blogs and bloggers out there, never mind all the YouTubers and their VLOGS. It’s not easy for everyone to make their mark and stand out. Some people don’t care. Maybe they’re just blogging for themselves or their family and friends. There are also those folks who just want the attention, they just like the idea of having followers and getting likes. But that’s not what I’m going to talk about (because I would get lost in the pits and potholes that is the internet and social media).

As I’ve said elsewhere, the purpose of this blog is to get to know me, more specifically me as a writer. I plan to publish my novel in 2020 but in the meantime this is my author platform. And still it’s not that simple. It’s not enough to just say hey I’m here, come read my stuff, and then hopefully when the day comes you’ll read my book! No, I need to draw you in. Stores have window displays. Kiosks and booths have their sales people right out front approaching you, getting your attention, offering you samples or glances at what they offer. Special offer just for you, right? Why should I be so different? I don’t EXPECT, I hope. So I’m always thinking about what I should or might do differently to appeal to readers.

There are a lot of book bloggers out there, fabulous! But how do you navigate through the crowd? What makes you stop and listen to what one or the other has to say? Do you follow every one you like or are you really picky and seldom follow? Maybe you’re someone who just surfs and reads whatever is at the top of the news feed drawing your attention. Do you read reviews because you want a new book to read or do you read reviews after the fact because you want to know what someone else thought about the book? I’m mostly one of the latter. Sure I read reviews before I’ve read a book but I don’t always like to. While most reviewers state whether or not their review contains spoilers, sometimes I just don’t want to know too much about the book so that it’s all a surprise to me. That’s how I feel about books I KNOW I’m going to read. However, if there’s a book I keep hearing about and it’s piquing my interest more and more then I’ll probably read a review or two to get a better sense and help me tip the scales.

While thinking about this over the past week I came to the conclusion that I really want to write more, including my reviews, from the angle of my being a writer. I’ve long felt that I don’t want to give writing advice because I don’t think I’m in a position to tell other people how to write well. That doesn’t mean I won’t provide suggestions or tips for the habit of writing. In fact I’ll probably write a post this coming week about my thoughts on writer’s block, if you believe in such a thing. What I want to do is give things the writer’s spin or the writer’s take.

Once I wrote a comment in LibraryThing about writing reviews for the author and the readers. A moderator came right back and told me that reviews ARE NOT for the author. I said nothing because sure she’s right, but does she have to be? Of course reviews are for the most part of other readers to get a sense of whether or not they want to read this book. And yet, what says I can’t write my reviews with the author or other writers in mind? That’s how I think after all, I always have my writer’s brain on. I don’t think I can turn it off to be honest. Huh… Here’s what’s up with what I’m thinking…

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My little brother was not much of a student. It’s just true. But he was a hell of an extreme sports athlete. Skate boarding, BMX biking, snowboarding, wakeboarding, it’s fair to say those were his favorites. So when he relayed to us one day that he would be attending school for film editing in Burbank, California I was surprised. He’s going back to school? Wow. Now I know trade school and art schools aren’t the same as grade school, but it’s still SCHOOL! And so he went.

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He was good. He liked it. He loved it. He was really good. He grew more and more passionate about making movies. He made little films about cooking food, cooking food on a bunsen burner, cleaning his room before leaving the house, such normal things but he made them cool with special effects and music. He gave you a new view on things from his mind.

Of course he also made movies about snowboarding and what not. As much as his friends enjoyed his ambitions, I’m pretty sure they had their days where they would just rather not perform for the camera. Lol. This was all before YouTube really blew up and everyone decided they were film editors. I think about what he would be doing now. How strange life is. I know he struggled sometimes knowing just what to do with this talent of his. That his timeline came to an end just before this film editing craze (I mean who doesn’t make YouTube videos these days, other than me?) I can’t help but think how cruel the irony of life.

His story teaches us through his story to use your skills as long as you can. Whether you celebrate Easter for the religious holiday that it is, the celebration of rebirth, or you just like the candy and watching kids hunt for eggs, we can all stand to appreciate that it’s not too late to give rise to that which lives within you. Not while you’re alive.

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Okay I got off track. That trip down memory lane was actually to share a memory of him from when he was back from school though not finished. We were at my mother’s house sitting on the couch off the kitchen. A movie was on TV though I don’t remember what it was. All of a sudden he started talking about the filming of the scenes and how it was cut. He talked about the editing, how the producer transitioned from the last scene to the next. I remember smiling and being taken aback because I wasn’t prepared for his reflections. But that is what an artist does. We see the art, but we also see the work. What made them make THAT decision? Why did they cut there? Why did they leave that? Interesting they used that transition. It’s a beautiful memory for me. While our arts are different, it’s a mental exercise and process we will always share.

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When I reading, watching movies or TV, listening to anything, my artist’s brain is activated. When I review books I’m thinking about what they did that just didn’t work and I thought was lazy writing. Or I’m thinking, wow that was GOOD! Ever read a passage and say oh come on, they didn’t even try? You don’t have to be a writer or an artist to think this way, but imagine when you are? The other day while talking to my partner about some writing breakthroughs I’ve had, I exclaimed that I just don’t know how George R.R. Martin walked around doing normal stuff with all that in his head!

I want to share these writerly perspectives of mine. I want to let other writers know what about a book or section didn’t work from the perspective of the writing. I mean this is constructive criticism right? Don’t we watch reality shows and pay attention to social media because we want to see what other people see and think? And that’s usually NOT constructive criticism? We value other people’s reactions whether or not we agree with them. This is what I will try to offer you. Perhaps you’ll find it interesting to hear how my brain works when it comes to writing. We’ll see. But I hope you will engage with me and the content here.

Please do respond to any or all of the various things I’ve mentioned or asked about here. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Oh and I haven’t forgotten about my review of The Deepest Blue, I’ve been working on a draft. Reading that book helped to spawn my desire to be more intentional with writing about things from the eyes of a writer instead of just a blogger who’s also working on a novel NOT that that’s bad. I hope I’ve made it clear here what I’m doing and not just repeating other things I’ve said. 😉

Cheers everyone and Happy Easter. I hope it’s a beautiful weekend for you.

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Here’s What’s Up Catch Up!

Hello everyone and welcome to a new week! Now I know I’m supposed to do Here’s What’s Up posts on Saturday (cause I said I would) and today is Monday. But meh, I made the rules here so sometimes I break them. I’ve been missing some posts these last few weeks and not talking to ya all too much but I’m here!

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What’s there to say? First, spoiler alert if you haven’t seen Season 7 (the last one) of Game of Thrones or any for that matter. I saw the Game of Thrones Season 8 premiere Sunday night after watching the last two episodes from last season. Man, that battle scene with the Night King and the dragons? Oh lord, I had goosebumps, still can’t believe that happened. As for last night I think it was a good start to what’s bound to be a great season, I mean it’s got to be if it’s the last right? Although I would have liked to see a little more reaction out of everybody when Bran said they’ve got your dragon and it’s one of them. They looked like oh shit and then we moved on. What! Come on you know that would blow your mind.

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Disclaimer by the way, I have not read any of the books. But this epic story is just that, epic. It is a fantastic example of good storytelling. And I love how there is such a diverse cast of characters. We weave in and out of their lives, watching them build, fail and rebuild. All along the way George R.R. Martin and the screenwriters build us up to little pitfalls or triumphs and enormous crescendos and destruction. It’s like you’re watching a real story line in history. My partner said he had to remind himself that this all didn’t really happen, that they never killed that dragon with just one toss of a spear, sending him plummeting onto the ice and into the lake. Gosh…that was too much! There is no one villain or one good guy, and how knows what’s going to happen next because Martin seems to love to “kill his darlings” as they say in writing. Hats off to George R.R. Martin and the production crew behind Game of Thrones! I could do without ALL the nudity but it’s still epic and well deserving of its popularity.

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Okay what else? Here’s What’s Up with Saturday night Boxing. (Another spoiler to follow regarding boxing match Saturday night.) Well I also watched a great fight between two awesome women boxers, Claressa Shields versus Christina Hammer. You might recall that Shields is an Olympic Gold Medalist in boxing and hails from Flint, Michigan. She won gold medals in both the 2012 & 2016 Olympics. She’s the first male or female boxer to win consecutive Olympic medals. She’s also only the 6th boxer, male or female, to hold all four major world titles in boxing. And she just turned 24 this March so she was 17 years old when she won her first Olympic gold in women’s boxing.

Christina Hammer is a very worthy opponent born in Kazakhstan but relocated to Germany soon after her birth. She’s a “multiple-time world champion in two weight classes” and has been named Fighter of the Year and Female Boxer of the Year and won the WBO Diamond Ring for Exceptional Performance.

I wasn’t prepared for Shields to beat Hammer so decisively, I really thought it would be more of a battle between the two. Don’t get me wrong Hammer held up and didn’t exactly do nothing but as the announcers and my partner were saying, she didn’t fight her fight, she fought Shields’ fight. At the end of the night Hammer was looking a little bit stunned by what had just happened herself and Shields was a damn proud woman. Hats off to them both! I hope they have succeeded in catapulting women’s boxing to a new level because they were great to watch. Women’s boxing deserves a lot more attention than it gets. It would be great to see even more qualified fighters in the ring on a regular basis. I would like to see a rematch between these two although I don’t know if it’s in the cards. And come on, Shields vs Hammer, even the title is cool!

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Here’s What’s Up with my Reading

In the world of books, I finished The Deepest Blue by Sarah Beth Durst. I will most certainly have a review for you tomorrow but I can say now that while I was really excited to LOVE this book I mostly just liked it. I’m a fan of Durst’s and I really enjoyed her Queens of Renthia series but this stand alone book set on the Islands of Belene, another part of the world Renthia, missed the mark just left of center for me. It was still a worthy read, and I will continue to follow Durst. In fact I really hope she keeps exploring other parts of Renthia and even Belene. But the story itself kind of fell flat. There’s exciting and interesting parts however there were some crucial details that felt like repeats. I’ll tell you more in my review but let’s just say I think I’m giving this 3.5 stars.

I bumped this and some other books up my Spring TBR because I need an ebook to read while I’m on my spin bike or in other instances where reading from my device is just easier than reading an actual book. Have you seen the hardcover edition of Shadow of Night? Very soon I’ll be starting The Voyage of the Basilisk. But first, I just started reading Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness because that’s the book myself and others voted to read in April for the Goodreads group I’m a member of. This second book in the All Souls Trilogy is almost 600 pages long so I need to get reading it! Know then that The Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan is up next.

When I look at my TBR on Goodreads I feel so crazy because I want to read so many books like now but I do not have THAT kind of time. Oh well, a girl can dream… In the meantime I’m super stoked because I’ve been doing some impressive brainstorming for my novel. Tonight I plan to start putting these ideas to work on paper. (I brainstorm a lot into a voice recorder. It’s great fun talking to yourself. :D) Writing is an intense act to undertake let me tell you. I have decided to delete a character which means – oh my gosh – I’m going to have to delete a bunch of words I’ve already put together about her. I’ve also found a whole new direction to take things in.

The nature of my story has changed and it feels so right to me! But there’s so much juggling to do. One thing I’m practicing that’s helping me immensely is just getting some thoughts out to see how they look and feel and what branches off of them before I butcher and beat them. I have a heavy handed inner editor and she tries to stop nearly everything before it even comes out of my brain. Well she is getting put in her MF’n place, let me tell you.

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There you have it, Here’s What’s Up With Me! Game of Thrones, Boxing: Shields v. Hammer, The Deepest Blue by Sarah Beth Durst, Voyage of the Basilisk, Shadow of Night, and write write write! Woo! Can you tell I’m excited? Oh my gosh I almost forgot that I also got the ebook for The Caged Queen by Kristen Ciccarelli, Iscari Book 2. I really enjoyed the first one and this book got bumped up my 2019 TBR to Spring TBR because, like I said, I need some ebooks.

How about you? Do you watch GOT? Did you? What about boxing? Will you now? I tell ya you should check these women out, they are bad asses.

And how’s your reading going? Have you read The Deepest Blue? Voyage of the Basilisk? Shadow of Night? The Caged Queen? Let me know what you think because I would love to have a chat.

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Here’s What’s Up With Me

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Happy Saturday everyone! Hope this post finds you well. I know I missed some posts this Wednesday and almost missed this Here’s What’s Up, but you know I couldn’t leave you hanging! Last week I mentioned I’ve been behind in reading. Well this week wasn’t much different, although I was able to finish Tim Clare’s The Honours, which I really enjoyed. You can find my review posted tomorrow, Sunday, 7 April, 2019. I recommend this book if you like fantasy, and I’m pretty sure this isn’t “horror” per se but maybe some of the elements lean that way. I’m happy to have finished this, the second half of the book was a quick read, I had to know what happened next, yes it was like that.

Here’s what’s up in the meantime,

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Folks I have been writing. Yes that’s right I got my butt in the seat and wrote thousands of words.

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Words for what? My novel silly. Because here’s what’s up: I’ve been in a writing slump for a little while now, lot of outside stressors getting in the way, as they do. But underneath it all ideas have been bubbling to the surface, until finally like a volcano – okay a little volcano, like the size you made in school – they burst forth! It’s still safe to say I’m looking forward to a 2020 publication date.

Writing is hard work. I take my hat off and fill my heart with the efforts of all the writers out there. While I’m reading I’m still a writer. It amazes me the things people make happen when they put pen to paper, even more so as I’m doing it myself. It’s also difficult not to beat your own work up as you’re putting it together. But you absolutely have to remember that a first draft is not a finished product. I remind myself of this again and again, every time I’m writing or brainstorming I tell my inner editor to shut the heck up, for real, shut up, you’re not helping. A person does not come out of the womb all grown up and in its prime. No we’re born with a lot of growing left to do.

And so I continue my writing as well as my reading. I’m also working on some short stories to submit, I’ll let you know how that goes. Now that I’ve finished The Honours (I’ve misplaced Everfair or else I’m sure I’d be finished with it, lol), I will begin The Voyage of the Basilisk (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #3) by Marie Brennan. I’m also going to find Everfair and finish that puppy, then I’ll start The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman.

As I said above I’ll have my review of The Honours posted tomorrow. This week you will find a post about my plans for April as well as a post about why I added some of the books I did to my March TBR.

Anything on my Spring TBR you’re interested in? Or have you read The Honours by Tim Clare? I think this book is underrated and deserves more attention. So look for more buzz from me about Tim, his book, and his podcast in the next couple weeks. Stay tuned!

Oh and share your thoughts, I love chatting! Thanks for reading everyone. 😀

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Here’s What’s Up: March TBR Additions

Hello friendly blog readers and bloggers! How are you all doing? Was this a good reading month for you? Are you reading more, less, the same? Any new books you just have to share? What’s happening with your March TBR additions, I know you’ve got some!

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I’m taking advantage of this Saturday being the last one in March and using it to post March TBR Additions as a Here’s What’s Up for Book Lovers Saturday series! Let’s dive in.

This is a monthly TBR wrap-up post. It’s simple, I tell you what I added to my TBR at the end of the current month! There’s my TBR (on Goodreads, 231 as of today) and my 2019 TBR (42, as of this second). I will also have seasonal TBRs, like Spring 2019 TBR. If I add new books to any of these specific lists I’ll let you know, otherwise assume they’re just being added to my general TBR, as in sometime in my life maybe I’d like to read this.

Here’s what’s up: In March I added 39 books to my TBR thanks to multiple sources, from podcasts to other book bloggers. I will give credit where credit’s due when available. Some books I just found.

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The following list is the books I’ve added to my TBR starting March 1st. If available, the source of the referral follows the title and author.

Okay so wow, there you have it. Just when you think you’re set on finding anymore books – which let’s be honest I’m just saying that because you never think that – you run into lists, posts, podcasts, and interesting covers, let’s not get started on series.

Are you reading any of these? Maybe you already have or want to? Let me know, I’d love to hear what we have in common or not. Don’t be afraid to tell me if you think any of these books are crap. I’m not afraid of opinions that are other than I LOVE THAT BOOK. Stay tuned for more information on some of these books and what made me add them to my list. Of course these list change and depend on my progress with reading and writing.

What do you think?

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Here’s What’s Up Book Lovers!

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This Saturday’s installment for Here’s What’s Up is bookish. The theme is re-discovering books. By this I mean books I’ve had for a long time just chilling on the shelf.

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While packing and unpacking a recent move I encountered books that had long become decorative pieces that made up those things called bookshelves. It’s easy to get on a kick about a certain subject, author, theme, you name it. You pick up some books. You put them on the shelf then stand back in awe of the beauty they’ve added to your collection. Ah if only you could read faster and read them all this week, or this month perhaps. Sigh.

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Then life does that thing it does and makes a turn, a hard turn sometimes at that. You forget all about how hard-pressed you were to read your entire library, new and old. How you’d just found this new author and picked up two of their 15 books with the promise to read them all. Those new books on your bookshelf fade into the background. They become a piece of decorative wall art. That one you started with the cool new bookmark gets buried on your desk or permanently lodged in the bag you were always carrying before time changed. Your books are now in the ether of dreams. Fear not! Here’s what’s up with those books (well mine).

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As I unpacked my books I sorted them. These are going to be sold or given away. Those are going to be packed and put in the attic (until a new bookshelf magically appears). And these, yup these right here, are going to be put somewhere nearby and added to my TBR. The books I mention here are books of different origins and eras (in my life) that I will add to my 2019 TBR. They are all over the place in genre and decade, as well as condition. Most I’ve not read. So I thought it would be fun to share some of my new old stock with you for this week’s Here’s What’s Up Book Lovers: Rediscovering books.

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OH bonus for this post is the fact that this first book fits right into Women’s History Month, which is right now, March, in case you didn’t know. And let’s just say all the books I add written by women count because well they’re history, they’ve already been published. 😉

Women Wartime Spies by Ann Kramer

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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From Mata Hari through to Noor Inyat Khan, women spies have rarely received the recognition they deserve. They have often been trivialized and, in cinema and popular fiction, stereotyped as vamps or dupes. The reality is very different. As spies, women have played a critical role during wartime, receiving and passing on vital information, frequently at considerable risk. Often able to blend into their background more easily than their male counterparts, women have worked as couriers, transmitters and with resistance fighters, their achievements often unknown. Many have died. Ann Kramer describes the role of women spies during wartime, with particular reference to the two world wars. She looks at why some women chose to become spies, their motives and backgrounds. She looks at the experience of women spies during wartime, what training they received, and what skills they needed. She examines the reality of life for a woman spy, operating behind enemy lines, and explores and explodes the myths about women spies that continue until the present day. The focus is mainly on Britain but will also take an international view as appropriate.

Hardcover, 171 pagesPublished 2011 by MJF Books

Here’s what’s up with this book:

Yes it was a bargain priced book at Barnes & Noble that pushed me to buy this book. But what really made me reach for it is the fact that my late Grandmother was a W.A.S.P., a Women’s Airforce Service Pilot. These women were trained pilots who tested and ferried aircrafts in addition to training other pilots during World War II. Their existence meant that more men were freed up for combat. Despite the courageous work they did they had no military standing. In fact, they didn’t receive veteran status for their World War II service until 1977. Then in 2009, President Barack Obama signed the WASP Congressional Gold Medal bill into law. My Grandmother was lucky enough to live to see and attend that day. She was a brave, adventurous woman who continued to fly until old age deemed it unsafe. I’ll never forget the story of how she applied to fly for a commercial airline as a young woman but was turned down. They said she was over-qualified for the job but would not be hired because she was a woman.

Hats off to you Grandma! Thank you to all the WASPs and to all the vets everywhere. My Grandfather is also a WWII vet. So this book drew my interest for personal reasons, though neither of them were spies. I hope to read it in April.

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The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (Book #1) by Carlos Castaneda

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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The story of a remarkable spiritual journey, the first awesone steps on the road to becoming “a man of knowledge,” the road that continues with A Separate Reality and Journey To ixtlan. Includes The Teachings and A Structural Analysis.

Paperback, 288 pages – Published 1983 by Touchstone/Simon & Schuster (first published 1968)

Here’s what’s up with this book:

To be honest I don’t remember exactly how and why I have this. I kind of know why. It’s a book I’ve heard of before and thought eh, let’s see what this is all about. Seemed up my ally. And when I open the cover of this used, I’d say worn paperback, I find I wrote my name and 07/06′. There ya go, I got this in 2006 either at a garage sale (maybe) or used book stand/store.

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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Acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren has built three laboratories in which she’s studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Her first book is a revelatory treatise on plant life—but it is also so much more. 

Lab Girl
 is a book about work, love, and the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. It is told through Jahren’s stories: about her childhood in rural Minnesota with an uncompromising mother and a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom’s labs; about how she found a sanctuary in science, and learned to perform lab work done “with both the heart and the hands”; and about the inevitable disappointments, but also the triumphs and exhilarating discoveries, of scientific work.

Yet at the core of this book is the story of a relationship Jahren forged with a brilliant, wounded man named Bill, who becomes her lab partner and best friend. Their sometimes rogue adventures in science take them from the Midwest across the United States and back again, over the Atlantic to the ever-light skies of the North Pole and to tropical Hawaii, where she and her lab currently make their home.

Hardcover, 290 pagesPublished April 5th 2016 by Knopf (first published March 1st 2016)

Here’s what’s up with this book:

This book as you see above is about three years old, which is probably how long I’ve had it. I like science and I love plants. This book was 20% off in Barnes & Noble and therefore out on display. The cool cover and the title drew me in like fish on a line. And come to find out, it was nominated for a whole bunch of awards! This is right on time for Spring TBR.

The Greek Poets: Homer to the Present, edited by Peter Constantine, Rachel Hadas, Edmund Keeley, & Karen Van Dyck

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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This landmark volume captures three millennia of Greek poetry—more than 1,000 poems and 200 poets. From the epics of Homeric Greece to the historical and erotic ironies of Cavafy, from the romances, hymns, and bawdy rhymes of Byzantium to the innovative voices of a resurgent twentieth century, this anthology brings together the diverse strands of the Greek poetic tradition. The favorites are all here—raging Achilles, restless Odysseus, strong-hearted Penelope—but The Greek Poets also presents neglected eras, from the rise of Constantinople to the end of the Ottoman occupation. In offering canonical poets such as Sappho and Pindar, and the modern Nobel laureates Seferis and Elytis, the renowned editors give us their new translations and bring together other masterful translators, including Robert Fagles, James Merrill, and W. S. Merwin, along with a younger generation that includes Anne Carson, Paul Muldoon, and Alicia Stallings. This is an essential companion to the Western literary tradition.

Hardcover, 736 pages – Published December 14th 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company

Here’s what’s up with this book:

This behemoth was a gift. I believe at the time I got this book (not when it was published) I was in the midst of or had already published my poetry book. It was an interest (and still is though it’s a bit side-lined) of mine to read more poetry especially classics such as these. So a family member found this book and wah-la! It joined my shelf…

Let me be candid in saying I didn’t request to read the Greek Poets specifically (don’t give me that kind of credit) and I did take Intro to Mythology in college but by now, these will be new adventures all over again, and just new period. I’m actually kind of excited. 😉

Of course given what it is, this is a big book. And because it’s a compilation, I don’t feel pressure to read it in one take all on its own. Phew. This is a book I will pick at, reading some here and there with the goal to finish this spring (deadline: summer equinox).

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As I wrote this I decided that Here’s What’s Up: Rediscovering Books will be ongoing until announced otherwise. I’m going to stop this post at four books though there are many others that I have rediscovered. I think I’ll pop in every so often and update or add to these ongoing discoveries. You’ll find books like Dana Stabenow’s Liam Campbell & Kate Shugak series, as well as books I’ll be reading for research for my novel, and a number of non-fiction books. This series of posts will probably extend to titles that come to mind as I travel down the rabbit hole of the past and authors I used to read.

Of course when I finish a book I’ll have something to say about it. I mean that’s the point of a book blog right? So stay tuned for my progress on these books, reading to start in April. Which also means you should stay tuned for my April Plans post and an update to March Plans, progress report or something to that effect.

Now it’s comment time! Are you familiar with any of these books I’ve posted here?

What do you do when you “re-find” old books? After reading this consider going back to your older bookshelf and browsing for new old finds. If you decide to do a similar post please link back to me here and post your link in my comments. This could be a fun book meme! And of course tell me about your rediscoveries!

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Here’s What’s Up With Me

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For starters I can’t choose between that giph or

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But they both make me smile and I think they fit some of what I feel besides exhausted. Let’s just enjoy them both.

I told you before that Here’s What’s Up is going to be a regular series of posts ranging from topics about me (Here’s What’s Up With Me), bookish things (Here’s What’s Up Book Lovers) and stuff out in the world/news (Here’s What Else Is Up). While that post might not have given you a clear direction, look at these posts like this, they’re updates, insightful updates. To update my Here’s What’s Up post I will add that I’m going to post these every Saturday. That’s the plan so stay tuned. Now back to our regularly scheduled progam.

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Here’s What’s Up With Me [This Week]

Wow it has been a week, gosh. The last few days my mother (thank you, love her!) has been helping me move out of the apartment I’ve had for 11-1/2 years (it’s been that long). (To give credit where credit is due my sister helped me start the process.) Let me be honest people, I suck at moving. Some people just have a knack for it, I’m not that person. I’ll help you, and I’ll be helpful definitely, but moving my own stuff? Oh no…

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And I’m not done. But that’s fine. It’s spring cleaning time my friends! My apartment was small so I just figured hey, can’t be that bad. Yes it can. And it was. I did not realize how much I had gathered and collected over the years. Sacrifices must be made! Books though? Oh people leave me alone (yes all you non-book people in my life I’m talking to YOU) about getting rid of my books. People be like, oh toss it, just get rid of them.

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Shhh, I will be selling and giving some away, I need to make room, but that’s between me and you. But moving has made me want to purge real bad. Real bad.

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It is inspiring and scary. It’s not easy for me to get rid of stuff, I form weird attachments to things especially if I’ve had it for some time. The memories seem to embed themselves in these things like smells and stains. There’s a little stuffed bear I got for Valentine’s Day, aw it’s so cute. What! You’re a grown ass woman throw it away! OMG! And then I threw the bear away. You won’t convince me to throw it all away (amazing how many people find this so easy when it’s NOT their stuff) but I have seen the error in my ways. So Here’s What’s Up with me!

Getting rid of stuff is like shedding your skin. And if you’ve ever seen something after it’s shed you’ve seen how beautiful that new layer is. My Ball Python is iridescent and shiny after he sheds. He’s truly beautiful, more beautiful, handsome, whatever. This is an opportunity for me to be reborn, kind of, and kick off some cool stuff. There’s so much stress smog in my air these days something’s got to give and I tell you it’s going to be me. But as we kept saying moving heavy stuff down the stairs, this is a controlled slide.

Life will get the best of you sometimes and it will kick your ass. But you know, it doesn’t always have to be an uncontrolled slide. You can handle this. YOU. CAN. HANDLE. THIS.

At the beginning I thought yeah there’s a lot to do but we got this, won’t take that long. Near the end reality hit me. The truck was filling and there was still so much to do! I felt like I was about to have a panic attack or break down. I got to feeling like I really need to sit down, hide in a closet or something, close the door and put my head in my hands. Is this for real? Do I really have this much stuff? Are we going to be here all night? Oh my God I’m wearing her down. Oh my God she did not know she was going to have to work this hard. Oh my God I did not know it was going to be this hard! I’m terrible. This is terrible! I just wanted to run and scream. Maybe I should just leave all this stuff. Yeah, no.

First of all it would make me crazy to not know just what I left behind and not have made an intentional decision on each thing to be rid of it. And second, that’s just bad karma. No. Not right. But I do not need this stuff and I can’t handle any more stress in my life right now, I’m imploding! What have I done?! Oh gosh yeah I got this dramatic in my head because, it’s sad but it’s true. Life has gotten away from me. All of it.

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But I want better. I want more. This doesn’t have to be terrible. New is good. I love reading because through books I see other worlds, observations, viewpoints, and ways of life. New. I see different. In agitated almost panicked state, I needed a different view. Through writing I get to explore my own visions and experiences and imagination. Then I can take that out into the world and say, look at this, what do you think? What do you observe? Like books ask me, at least I think so sometimes.

But I can’t do these things if I’m always stressed out and holding on to things, figuratively and literally. If it’s not working for you let it go. I mean, get your work done. Don’t let that panicked state own you. Control that slide! So that’s why Here’s What’s Up With Me this week was about this move. Controlled slide. This move is catapulting me into this new direction because it was and is a call to action like so many other things in my life. From writing to work to the personal. A new chapter is here folks and I’m taking it all in. Moving isn’t just physical, it’s transformative.

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How’s about you, what’s up with you? Are you going through something transformative? On a small or grand scale, it all counts. Whether you’re transforming your arms to wings or shedding a whole layer of yourself, it’s something and YOU CAN FN DO IT. Don’t focus on how hard it is, that’ll drive you crazy. Picture what you want to do with this new self, or place, or phase, what have you. Picture your newness. Remember, theme for this spring, CONTROLLED SLIDES.

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Here’s What’s Up

Here’s what’s up this week! An introduction to a new series of posts I’m starting. I do like the idea of having a regular feature so to speak. So, here’s what’s up!

My goal with my blog this time around is to be a bit more focused. I will still bring you a variety of different things like occasional interesting bits of my fun with photography, I mean who doesn’t like to look at stuff?

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Here’s What’s Up Book Lovers

Officially, I’m going to focus more on reading and writing. While I’d love to share all that I’m writing with you, I can’t because I’ve got plans to submit and well most publications want to be first. And my novel is still very much a work in progress. Best to let it simmer in secret. That doesn’t mean we won’t be talking about writing but there will be heavy focus on reading. SO call me A Book Blogger (plus, okay don’t forget the plus)! What can I say, I like to read. And so can blame me, I’m a writer after all. Here’s What’s Up Book Lovers might feature updates to my 2019 TBR in detail, a new book blogger I found and want to feature, fun insights on writing, news from authors and books I like. LIKE Sue Burke’s book Semiosis has been nominated for the Kitschies Golden Tentacle Award. The Kitschies are British awards for “the year’s most progressive, intelligent and entertaining fiction that contain elements of the speculative or fantastic”. The Golden Tentacle she goes on to say is for debut authors. Stuff like that!

In addition to hearing about books and from other book bloggers – you know I got to network and support my fellow book lovers and writers – you’re also going to hear about my personal struggles. Now this is a fragile point of glass. What kind of blogger does this make me? Not a lifestyle…?

Here’s What’s Up With Me

Sometimes we divulge our personal lives with ease and I am a bit of a confessionalist, a bit or more. At other times we stand at the door with our eyes on the peep hole wondering whether or not to open and share. I’m both these things. I love to share and I hate to let people in beyond my control. However, what I have known for a long time is that we can help each other through our experiences. It’ll take some strength and heart for me to really open the doors for you but I’m going to get creative and I’m going to open doors and windows. Bring in the light baby!

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I struggle with anxiety and have for many many years; I struggle with whether or not to say for most of my life. In addition to my anxiety I have obsessive thoughts. While I don’t believe I’m OCD I have in the last year been struggling with some compulsions, all founded on obsessive thoughts. It is a strength I know to share my struggles and yet I feel vulnerable putting it out in the open. It’s not difficult for me to tell you I have anxiety issues, but to put it in words and publish it means that I can’t stop it. Whereas in real time there are days I want to talk to everyone about having anxiety and then there are days I just don’t want to talk to anyone period.

When you’re writing a blog it might seem obvious to share things that are personal. Sure it could be uncomfortable but you want to connect with people. However once I tell you, I’ve told you and I don’t know what you’ll think or feel. I don’t want to be painted with pity nor do I want you to think this is a cry for attention. I think the latter is the worst. I don’t want your attention on me for my anxiety, although I do want your attention on the issue of anxiety. That said I do want your attention on me so you get to know me as a person and a writer. I have self-published a collection of poetry (please contact me if you’d like to know more, links are forthcoming), and I am working on my first novel in addition to short stories. (Writerly facts about me thrown out at random.)

Here’s What Else Is Up

There’s a lot going on in my life, reading and writing are definitely some of those things but they aren’t the only. When I think it’s relevant or helpful I’ll share about these other things. And if I find a clever way (I will) to share about my life regularly, you can expect I will. For the time being (right now it’s 8 Mar 2019), expect a book blog. Simple. But, don’t be suprised if you find author interviews, interviews of all kinds, and more in the future because I am ambitious. Anxiety may kick my ass from time to time but at the end of the day, I’m in charge. I’m the one who wakes up and runs this ship so I’m the one you get to know. My anxiety, eh, it’s like the weather. We’ll talk about it in passing.

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In summary, here’s what’s up posts will consist of weekly updates and/or bits of news of what’s happening in my world, the world, and/or the book world. And you’ll see such headings as those above to give you an idea of the topic/category. The above was a summary of what you might expect but also like I said, an introduction to what’s up with me and this blog.

Please do bear with me as I get this all figured out. Some might be a bit convoluted or drug out but

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