Wednesday, July 31, 2013

End Of Summer, Start Of School...

You know, I got to thinking today that this is the first year I don't have to buy school supplies for my kids.

I don't have to go buy new clothes.

No new back-packs, no notebooks,  no pens and pencils. And I'm such a stationery... hoarder... ha!

It makes me happy I don't have to do this, but it also makes me sad.

I used to drive my kids to school on the first day EVERY year. It was sort of a tradition. When my daughter got to high school, she specifically asked me if I would still drive her to school on the first day, even when she was a Senior and could drive herself.

Now, she's got a baby of her own to do that with.

And my son is going to have his own place in a few short days. I've been trying to teach him to cook some main, comfort food kind of meals. You know, meatloaf and such. He can cook, he likes chicken and seasons his own all the time with different stuff. But...


Trying to keep myself occupied so I don't dwell on the stress of all of this too much. I find myself playing silly, mindless games more often than not, when I am not working on my to do list for the move. I have to maintain a semblance of calm at the very least, as it does affect my health far too much.

Meh, not trying to be a downer. Just a bit reflective and working through some of the sadness that just hit me.

Good news is, I'm holding a yard sale this weekend. Send up some prayers that I make some good money to help fund our trip. My house is such a mess! So, I'm looking forward to the sale in more ways than one. Get all of this stuff out of my house. Then packing and having a farewell party. Sadly making everyone bring practically everything for the party, ha ha! Oh well. Then we'll be off like a herd of turtles, as my son always says.

How about you? Have kids to get ready for school, or are you facing this same issue?

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Milestone And Late Night Musings...

I have hit a milestone. My simple little blog has had over 100,000 views. I get more and more views every day, it seems.

It's amazing.

Looking back at when I first started this blog, I could literally hear the crickets. Okay, maybe not literally. But I felt as if I was talking to myself. I'm a writer, I'm used to talking to myself. But I still treated this blog as if the whole world were reading it.

I try to be careful what I post. Nothing too inflammatory, no politics, no religious arguments. Just writing and life related. I think it's worked out rather well. And I love it when you all join in on the conversation. Just a few more weeks and I'll be going offline while we move. I'll have a few posts scheduled, but forgive me if I don't reply to comments.

With the discussion of J. K. Rowling and her use of a male pen name for her latest books, it got me to thinking. Dangerous pastime, I know. I still see comments floating around about her choice of gender for her pen name. We discussed it before, the whole male dominated world, etc. Even after the feminine movements and women taking control in the workplace. There is still harassment prevalent in this industry, proven by the goings on over at Tor. It's quite sad, actually. I know the majority of people in my personal circle here don't care if you are male or female and writing. There's mutual respect, which is how it should be. But doesn't mean we women have to start burning our virtual bras anytime soon, either. But what's the deal? I've heard a couple men state that women are only good at writing romance. And this was during a book discussion at a local library. (Not here in Alaska, down in Arizona.) Men are good at writing romance, but that genre is heavily dominated by female authors.

Because I have my picture up on Amazon and on my virtual book cover, my initials don't fool anyone. They know I'm female. I don't have the luxury of hiding behind my initials. Anyone can Google me. (As bad as that always sounds...) Not that I am truly hiding behind initials anyway.

I suppose the point of this post is, what makes authors choose a pen name? If you were to choose a pen name, would you stick with your gender or switch sides? Other than trying to hide behind a famous name or portraying yourself as a more, so called, acceptable gender in the writing industry, why go for the pseudonym? What's your thoughts on this?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Faves & Funnies...

Not to put off the funnies, but been a bit busy and distracted.

I'm going to do a blanket 'Favorite' today. I have to say, I love Amazon and Facebook and Twitter. Why are these things my favorite these days? Because without utilizing those three sites, I'd never know what books go up for free. I've found quite a bit of reading material to keep me busy for awhile using those sites. If I couldn't read, I think I'd go insane.

Wait, already there. Yep, just double checking.

All right, on to the funnies for the week! Feeling kinda Ninja cat again and gamer... Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How I Hate Moving, Let Me Count The Ways...

Okay, so it's not that I HATE moving. I'm actually very excited to be moving back down to the lower 48. I'm on pins and needles. I can't wait to get back to what I call 'civilization' because, quite frankly, I'm a big city girl. At least that's what some of these small town folk called me when trying to present ideas to them. Nope, not bitter, just hate small minded people.

I'm looking forward to actually being able to AFFORD something. I love Alaska, but I hate winters and the cost of living. I will always be thankful to the people up here who gave my husband a chance when we needed it. We actually did really well up here for a while. But the cost of living keeps increasing and our paychecks don't. So I can't help but look forward to getting back on our feet.

However, my 'To Do List' keeps growing by leaps and bounds. My anxiety over having to travel such a long distance, through Canada, with two cats and a trailer... well... that's increasing as well.

So needless to say, my sleep issues have kicked in to high gear. I'm going to be sort of out of it for the next month or so. Please don't think I'm deserting you, my lovely readers. I'm not. But if I don't post as regularly as I was, or I don't agree to book reviews right now, just know I have a lot on my plate.

Just wanted to share this. I don't want anyone to think I am dropping off the face of the planet again. Hope you all have a great rest of the week!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hoppin' On The Bandwagon...

I've been reading a lot of blogs and comments about J. K. Rowling's pseudonym and latest book. All the questions like, why a male pen name? What was the reason behind it all? Things like that.

Well, here's my opinion on the matter...

First of all, it's like labeling an actor. Let's take Daniel Radcliffe, for an example. Will he forever be known as Harry Potter? Most likely. But he is a good actor, and he's done a couple different roles. Same with Emma Watson (Hermione) and Rupert Grint (Ron). They're all exceptional, but forever labeled.

Same could be said about J. K. Rowling. Sure, she's made a cool billion with the Harry Potter series, but here's the thing: she obviously enjoys writing. Otherwise, she would have stopped with the Harry Potter series and skipped all the way to the bank without another book idea popping in her head. She could have just walked away from it all, right? But she didn't. So when her 'Casual Vacancy' got less than rave reviews (because it wasn't Harry Potter), she did what anyone else in her position would do. She took on a pen name.

Good. For. Her.

Hell, I'd do the same.

As for the reasoning behind a male pen name? Why not? There could be lots of reasons she chose to go with the opposite gender. In my experience as a woman (and I'm a pretty good one), it's hard to get anywhere if you have to strap on a bra. One piece of advice I was given repeatedly in my life, from school to possible employers, was to use my initials on my resume. If they don't know if you are male or female, they tend to assume you're a guy and want to meet with you more often than not. Once you get to the interview and they find out you're a girl, well, you've already got your foot in the door.

Same can be said for writing, you know. How often are you likely to pick up a book written by a male versus a female?

It isn't that we're sexist, it's just something that has been ingrained generation after generation.

Even after all the progress we've made as women, it's still a man's world. (Please note sarcasm and don't spam me with hate mail.)

If I were to pick a pen name, I'd probably go male. Hire some cutie to pose for my author pic and laugh all the way to the bank. But, I chose to stick with what I've got. Initials. Then again, I don't have to hide behind a pen name, I don't have the amount of success Rowling has.

So, for whatever reasons she had, give her a break. I've noticed lots of people kinda complaining about all of this. Why? What's the deal? Yes, she's a household name and has had some major success, but come on. She's still a writer! She loves what she's doing enough to go the distance to be loved for what she writes, not how she writes it.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Faves & Funnies...

It's Friday! Woohoo! Again, still not working, so every day is Friday to me.

Don't hate.

Let's see, I've been reading some good books and novellas these days. More from my personal TBR than for any reviews. I am having sporadic days of posting because I'm packing and preparing to move.

So, on that note, not a lot of 'Faves' today. Mostly just Funnies. But I know, I know, you're down with that.

So here we go!

Alright! Have a good weekend! What are your plans?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Critiquing Critiques...

You know, in anything in life, you run across people who are out to bamboozle you. Doesn't matter if you are experienced in your craft, or just beginning, someone will always try to pull one over on you or extricate your hard earned cash from your grasp.

I helped out my daughter's friend, recently, when she contacted me to have a look at her WIP. She told me she felt something was lacking. I read over it, gave her constructive feedback along the way and found the spot that was bothering her.

Now, when I critique something, it takes me a while to read it because I'm trying to digest it in a professional manner. This isn't something I can just read for enjoyment. I will read a little bit, write down some notes, try to figure out where the story is heading, and make comments along the way. It's a process, right? You all know how to critique.

Well, when I told her my thoughts at the end of it all, she thanked me profusely and mentioned that I had given her much more to work with than the woman she paid to critique it in the first place.

Now, I don't know about you, but I was a bit taken aback at the fact that she got so little info and help from someone she paid. It's hard to find a good, honest, professional more often than not, I suppose.

While this shouldn't have shocked me, it did. I know there are all sorts of people out there who are just in this for the money. Take their advice, or leave it, you paid for it. Tough. It just irritates me. I work hard for my money, and I know my daughter's friend does, too. I guess it sickens me that this is happening more and more, these days.

In my opinion, writers are part of a community that should work together, not compete against one another. There are people out there who read SO MANY BOOKS, we just can't be shoving ours under their noses and forcing them to buy. Truth is, if they don't like your work, there isn't a thing you can do about it. But there is ALWAYS someone out there who will like your work.

When I began Word Weavers with my pal, Jenna, we did the author trading cards. The goal behind that, was for authors to take not only their cards to book signings, but those of other authors as well. That way, if someone comes up to you and says, "You know, your book was okay. I liked it, but it could have been..." you whip out a card from a fellow author in that genre and say, "Sorry you feel that way. Here, go to the link on this card, you might like this book instead."

I know, rose-colored glasses over here. But you get my point. We writers, we can't please everyone, but it's good to be a part of a strong community where you can point readers in the direction of someone they might like. And you can trust that other authors out there are doing the same for you. Why don't we help promote each other more? What's the harm in sending someone to purchase a fellow author's book? Yes, we're losing a sale, a follower, a fan, but we just might gain ten more!

What are your thoughts on this? How do you feel about promoting the work of others? How do you want to see this community of authors working?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Book Review: Gravity's Revenge by A. E. Marling

Title: Gravity's Revenge

Author: A. E. Marling

Pages: 378 File Size: 2336 KB


Purchase: Amazon

Summary (from Amazon):

A magic school. A heist. And enchantresses falling from the sky.

In the Mindvault Academy, magic imbued within the stone reroutes the flow of gravity. The school's enchantments allow for architectural wonders that inspire the empire's next generation of great minds.

Now those minds are falling. The Academy's spells are collapsing, its keystone jewels stolen. Saboteurs have invaded the magic school in a political heist a year in the planning. The attackers make but one mistake: Getting between Enchantress Hiresha and her research.

Hiresha, Provost of Applied Enchantment, endures her own pathological sleepiness to study unorthodox magic. Now twelve warriors have invaded the Academy, the only home she has ever known. Hiresha plans to expel them with the help of a dangerously charming illusionist, her loyal bodyguard, and spells by no means in the approved curriculum.

My thoughts:

I'm going to sing nothing but praise for this latest installment of A. E. Marling's series. From the first book I read, (Brood of Bones) I have loved Enchantress Hiresha. The magic system in this book has always intrigued me.

Marling's writing, once again, flows like an elegant river. To read one of these books is pure joy for me. There is something about the way Marling writes that is intelligent, captivating and delightful. Yes, I used the word 'delightful'.

You are finally introduced to several things in 'Gravity's Revenge'. First, Hiresha's Mindvault Academy. The school of magic where Enchantresses are trained. You get a glimpse of her room, her home and the other teachers and leaders. The other thing you are introduced to in this book are illustrations! You're finally shown what Marling's world looks like. You also learn the source of the magic, and that when removed or tampered with, can fail.

Enchantress Hiresha becomes the target of Bright Palms, priests dedicated to ridding the world of Feasters. They'll do anything to get the Lord of the Feast, including sacrificing Hiresha's Elders. The issue is made more complicated when they strip Hiresha of her own, personal power. The power of her gems. But most everyone is on Hiresha's side, wanting to help, even the little Fennec fox.

You can either start with this book or at the beginning, with 'Brood of Bones'. There is an order to the stories, but they stand alone rather well. You won't get lost if you start here. So kudos to Marling for yet another enjoyable read that I could not put down!

My rating:
5 out of 5 skull and crossbones.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday Faves & Funnies...

Well, it's Friday! I'm feeling better. I had to make sure I wasn't sick so I could go to a wedding this weekend and see my granddaughter! Pounded down the juice like it was tequila.

On Monday, I want you all to look for my review of "Gravity's Revenge" by A. E. Marling. I got an ARC for it and the review will be up then. I'm going to rave about A. E. Marling's work. I love these characters and the whole concept of Enchantress Hiresha's magic.

I've been browsing the free download books on my Kindle this past week and found some good ones. I'll leave reviews, but probably not on the blog. I have some other reviews to do for here and I don't want to get overloaded!

Anyway, I hope you all had a good week. Looking forward to the weekend? Me too!

On to the funnies! I hope you all enjoy these as well. Here is your end of the week chuckle:

So what are your plans for the weekend?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Under The Weather...

Nope, didn't drop off the map. I've just been feeling horrible. Sore throat, stuffy head, etc. So if I am quiet, you know why. I'll have lots to catch up on, or, you can leave your news in the comments. I love hearing what's going on with all of you.

See you, hopefully, in a day or two.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Friday Faves & Funnies...

Ooh yeah, it's Friday! It's Friday! Do the happy dance! You know you want to. Well, then again, you probably did it on WEDNESDAY!

Am I right?

'Course I am.

So I have a couple new fave authors. I got sucked into a book so bad Wednesday night I didn't go to sleep until like, well, let's just say early morning. Like, 7 a.m. kind of early. It was actually two novellas that I read. The first was decent, but this was the one I could not put down:

"Waiting Fate" by W. B. Kinette

This was an awesome read. Have to say, it sort of hit close to home for me as well. Granted, my situation was NEVER this bad, but still. There were a couple of things that really resonated and I made a connection to the main character, Ivy. It was free when I downloaded it, now it is $2.99. Not a bad price.

I also finished "Gravity's Revenge" by A. E. Marling. I will be putting up a review of that soon, along with "Waiting Fate" and "Witch Weigh" by Caroline Mickelson. Another good novella.

And at the risk of sounding like some boring infomercial, you can sign up for Amazon's Prime and get a free 30 day trial. Then you can borrow some good reads for free. I've got a link up there to the right. And yes, I get something for each sign up. I'm currently unemployed and have to supplement my income for awhile by pimping out my blog. Which is better than the alternative, because, frankly, I don't like to ask for help.

So enough of that! On to the funnies! This is what you all wait for with bated breath...

No. Not really. You just like a good laugh at the end of the week like I do.  So here's a couple for the holiday! I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July and continue to have a safe weekend.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Insecure Writer's Support Group...

Wow. Time just. Flies. It is the first Wednesday of the month, and if you don't know it's significance, by all means, meet the mastermind behind this awesome bloghop, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is where we all share our insecurities or support those with them. Some days you're the supporter, others, the supportee.

I am, thankfully, lacking in insecurities this time around.

I know, right? I know you're all thankful for that! Ha!

Words of wisdom are escaping me. But I know I have some. Where are you, you little buggers? ::Stuffs a hand into her wisdom bag and shuffles things around:: Nope. Nope, not that either. Hmm...

Well, for whatever reason you chose to become a writer, I hope that it mostly is due to the fact that you have a story to tell, and no one else but you can tell it properly.

Lots of people have stated that they write the kinds of stories they would like to read. I can say the same, for sure. I actually like what I write, and can only hope others enjoy it as well. If not, well, it's more their loss than mine.

If you ever feel like your story isn't good enough, or there is some certain element missing that you just can't place your finger on, that just might be self doubt speaking into the dark recesses of your mind. So don't listen. Instead, send off your writing to someone who will give you honest feedback. There's got to be at least one person you know you can send your work to, right? Even if it is just someone who's blog you follow. Don't be shy! Send a message, ask if they'll look it over. People tend to be busy, but you know, sometimes, they just might have a moment to look your work over.

Not everyone, but some. And if they take the time to read your work, and give you feedback, thank them. (If I've never thanked you, THANK YOU!) Seriously. Sometimes you just have to have a little faith in yourself, and trust that you have written a good story, something others will enjoy and want to read. But do try to choose a topic/genre that isn't too overly saturated. Finding your needle in that haystack might make you feel dubious about putting out another book. Might make you feel insecure. There are people looking for stories out there that aren't following the trends. So go with that!

And because tomorrow is the 4th of July, let me take this moment to tell you all to have a happy and SAFE weekend! Please, be careful. I'll see you all on Friday for the Faves and Funnies, if you're here.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Monday Musings...

I had started a discussion on the Word Weavers group on Facebook. We discussed a certain book and whether or not the author was laughing all the way to the bank or if the author regretted writing what they wrote.

Notice I'm not mentioning book titles or authors. Simply because there are dozens of books out there that are constantly bashed in one way, shape or form.

But it does bring up the question if any author has ever regretted writing something. You hear of musicians regretting some songs. Like the guy who came up with the idea of either 'We Are the World' or, actually, I think it was the Christmas song back in the 80's. I read an article last December about that guy and he said he hated the song. Regretted ever writing it.

I'm sure the same can be said about anything, really. Regretting a painting/drawing or sculpture. People are only human, after all. A flash of inspiration during your younger years may very well lead to a regret later in life. Right?

So what are your thoughts on this? Do you think some authors might regret something they've published? Or do you think they just laugh their way to the bank if they're successful? Have you published something you regret?