Reviews

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I used to be very lazy about writing reviews. Mostly because I felt it was a waste of my online time.  I try not to spend hours and hours on the Internet, so I pick and choose how I spend my online time. Examples:

*Twitter gets two minutes at a time, set by my clock’s timer. I check in a few times a day, but don’t like to get sucked into the time warp of social media.

*Leaving Facebook has helped immeasurably with avoiding the time warp of social media.

*I might make a list of things I need to do online, like visit a favorite message board, or balance my checkbook, or pick up a specific gift on Amazon.

I am not trying to be terribly rigid about this, but it’s a process I’ve found over time that works for me, and allows me more time to do things I enjoy, like reading a book, or knitting and listening to a podcast. I hear so many people say, “I can’t remember the last time I read a whole book.” I think that is so very sad. I mean, reading isn’t equally enjoyable for everyone, but when it’s coming from someone I know used to enjoy reading… yes, that’s sad. And I fully believe it is a side effect of spending too much time attached to our smart phones, that it’s changing our brains. But that’s a whole other rant….

So, I didn’t write many reviews, because it takes up a lot of time….  time that I may or may not want to be spending online.

Now that I’m publishing on Amazon, though, I realize how important user reviews are. The publishing world has changed so much and so quickly – user reviews are probably what sells more copies of a book than anything.

Consider how you shop for new books. Do you ever find yourself scrolling through, looking at the cover, then looking at how many stars the book got? And if you see a few 5-star reviews at the top, you figure “Why not?” and pop it in your cart, but if you see 3 or 4 star reviews, you move along?

So I really am making an effort to write reviews more now, especially for my friends and up-and-coming talents. I saw a friend give a mutual friend a 2-star review on Goodreads, and I thought that was just rude. I mean, you’re actively hurting your friend’s sales. Why?

I’m not saying you should give great reviews if you don’t mean it – but if you hate a book, and you wish that author well, why give a poor review? Just mark it read and move on. Leave your negativity somewhere else, unless you’re getting paid to do reviews for the Times. I know people will feel differently about this, but if you are going to give a review, and you think it’s good and you hope the author will sell more books, give it 5 stars and write some kind details in your review.

It is really, really hard to sell books these days, and I think authors need extra support.

This turned into a bit more of a rant than I intended it to be… but I really hope people understand how important their words are. You are not just putting your opinions on the review site for your own entertainment, or to show your friends how clever you are – you are directly contributing to the success or failure of that writer.

Take it seriously.

Trees and Pages

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Trees and Pages

I’ve been reading a book, From the Forest, about the connection between the cultural psyche of fairy tales as birthed from ancient woodland. I’m only about 40 pages into the book, because I keep getting caught up in the imagery, and trying to wrap my head around some of the more intellectual stuff: like how there is a lot of overlap in oral storytelling, the motifs and themes within, across cultures. How the fiction you take in on a cellular, almost primal level, matches up with the truth you know in your head.

I did a research paper on Noah’s Ark in high school. I learned the source Sumerian tale was older and smaller. .. it shook me. There are the stories we feel and the stories we know. Logically, I know there was not a worldwide flood. I know the story likely came from an oral tradition trying to make sense of a world of chaos – where floods can wipe out everything you know overnight. However, on another level, the story of Noah is true as only the best stories can be.

Another thing this book has made me realize is how little I know about trees. I think of myself as a nature-loving type of woman, but I’ve been troubled to learn one or two things… for one, I had no idea what the difference between a beech tree and a birch tree is. Thanks to Google Images, I at least have the image in my head. But I drive around town looking at trees and asking myself if I know their names. I fall woefully short

But then, what is this human urge to name things? Just another way to try to make sense of a world that so often seems out of order, I suppose (and of forests that can swallow children whole).

On a more domestic level (and speaking of cultural myths and stories!), I have put up my Christmas tree. It is a lovely human creation (guilt-free; I hate seeing trees chopped down): 6.5 foot tall and pre-lit in such a pretty

way. I do love this ritual of using lights to get through winter.  I had a bit of a wistful time putting up the tree, though, missing people who aren’t around anymore, for one reason or another. Which, in the end, circles back around to these comforting traditions: I wrote Christmas cards for the first time since college, too, and I’d forgotten how good they make me feel.

As for writing? I have been trying to write daily, but it has not yet become a habit. I still feel so beat at the end of the day it’s hard to do anything but sit on the couch and watch Orphan Black. Last night I made myself a deal, that if I just got my notebooks and computer in place and sat at the desk, I could go back to the couch and knitting after ten minutes if I still wanted to. It worked last night, but my ultimate goal is for writing to replace television as my evening entertainment.

We shall see.

Having written that out, it reminds me a lot of when I started exercising. I would make that sort of a deal with myself then, too. I knew I could get on the elliptical for ten minutes. I rarely ever wanted to stop; usually getting started is the hardest part.

 

 

Two steps forward…

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Creatively, it’s been a fun time! I’ve made great progress with writing and publishing. As seen in the previous post, I had whole day of being able to call myself an Amazon bestseller. :)

The title is Once a Fairy. You can find it on Amazon, and it’s free for people who have Amazon  unlimited. It’s serial fiction, released in episodic installments.

I must confess, however,  I have not made a lot of progress with the digital photography book I mentioned a month or two back… But I did sign up with a dear friend for an eight-week digital photography course that starts in January- and I’m really looking forward to it. I hope it will help me get through the winter slump!

Looking up!

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This will be a quick post. I read the last few posts, & I have to say now that I’m feeling better, I sound completely crazy!

Having been through it, though, to me it also screams “cry for help”, but just how many people saw it as that? Right, none. Because people don’t care if you’re being dramatic, even if you really are upset, and you really are having a hard time, and even you really are having a hard time keeping yourself together.

I’m really grateful that this depression, if I’m allowed to call it that, hasn’t become a severe, crippling depression. And that it seems to be lifting, that I’m even enjoying my job again. I’m looking forward to it each day.

But I’m still pretty much done by the end.

On the whole, I’m feeling much more capable, & I have reached out for help from the appropriate resources, both in the  personal and professional realms.

On the creative front, I have made significant progress with my writing! Excited about self publishing through Amazon, which is easy and super fulfilling. I love the instant rewards, I’ve got to say. Though I certainly envy all my friends who have done it the “right” way and have amazing publishers, I’ve also seen how they have to wait years for anybody to buy their book, not even taking into account the rigorous process of getting accepted for publication . Where mine was published and bought within 2 days, and it’s so exciting to know that there are people out there reading my work.

I do think there are benefits to having gatekeepers for the writing community. However, if you’re someone like me, who has a day job, it is really helpful to have an outlet: to not have to worry about how to get the story out there. It’s the nothing-to-lose creative process, which is exactly what I need!

After tomorrow, I have a whole week (plus some!) of vacation, & I cannot tell you how long it’s been since I had a vacation… Some of it is at home, and then I’m going to World Fantasy Convention 2014, where I’m going to see a bunch of my amazing fantasy writer and reader friends. I am busily highlighting my printed out program notes, deciding which panels I’m going to be attending in between hanging out with friends at the hotel bar.

Thanks for reading. :)

Identity

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Good morning!

Well, I’m starting to feel human again on a more consistent basis. The sense that everything is falling apart, that nothing is worth doing, that nothing in life is interesting… that’s diminishing.

I had a meltdown at work two Mondays ago. It wasn’t pretty. I’m rather embarrassed. But it led to my realizing a few keys things:

1) The department I’m in? They have no idea what I actually do every day. AT ALL. They not only don’t understand how hard I work in my fitness classes, but they didn’t even understand what each class was. I went in with ideas for how to structure the schedule to keep me from killing myself, and spent the whole meeting defining the classes for them. “This one is strength, this one is cardio, this one is cross-training…” This was monumentally depressing at first, but then I just went, hey, you know, I’m not the first or last person to feel misunderstood and/or unappreciated at work. In fact, I think a lot of this kriya has been about adjusting to the corporate mentality. I had one foot in that world, one foot out as a contractor. In August, I agreed to be part of their world, one of them.

2) To paraphrase a current popular song, I don’t have to try so hard.

Spiritually, corporate life is a little difficult for me. The Monday through Friday mentality. The cycle of working for the weekend, and then it comes back around so fast. That Friday everyone says, “Hey, yay, it’s Friday,” and on Monday everyone asks what you did. My answer is usually, “Not much, I rested.” And there’s something sort of depressing about it all, you know? It’s the epitome of the rat race, the multitudes trudging to work head down at the beginning of Joe Vs. the Volcano. But then if you share this with anyone, even someone you consider a work friend, they say, “But aren’t the benefits great?”

Well, yes. The benefits are great. They are the best I’ve had in my entire life. I haven’t adjusted to this, either. Oh, I can actually afford to go to the dentist, the doctor? To take time off just for pleasure? I’m not used to being that person. I’m used to being the chick who is struggling to get by, and who has bad or no insurance. I honestly had no idea how much this starving-artist mentality was affecting me until I started to cry when I got my cards in the mail. I never thought it would happen.

And I feel like I should be grateful. And I feel like everyone is telling me how grateful I should be.

I could honestly not ask for a better place to work. There is actual job security here, ya’ll. No shit. I can’t say where I work, but it’s one of the few institutions on this planet guaranteed not to be bought out, sold, cut back or downsized in my lifetime. As corporate cultures go, it’s a fairly happy one. Most everyone works hard and people are pleasant to each other. Men let women off the elevator first. (Sorry, I like that!) Benefits are great. Plenty of time off.

I mean! What more could you ask for?

So it’s really not the situation, but my adjustment to it. I had gotten used to piecing jobs together and getting by on little. I have actual money in my bank account now, and a vacation coming up in two weeks! I mean, luxury. So I think what I’m trying to say is I understand why some lottery winners get suicidally depressed. If you thought all the unhappiness in your life was because of not having money, not having job security… if you pinned your depression on not having all the things it seems everyone else has… and then you get it. And you’re still so sad.

That’s really, really hard. Suddenly it seems like there is nothing that will happen in your life that will make you feel better.

But I think I’ve found something. I started writing fiction during the week. I’d been saving it for weekends (because time), but now I’m working on a project on my lunch breaks, and a little after work. I notice on the days I do this, I feel so much better. I need that creative outlet, absolutely. I entered one of my photography experiments into the upcoming employee art show, and was accepted.

I’ve also given myself permission to have vices as much as I enjoy them. I drank quite a bit of wine a few weeks ago, then I felt like it was worsening the depression, so I stopped. This week I indulged in some TV obsession. I’ve been really into Supernatural (tenth season, crazy!), and have been curious about the misogyny I managed to overlook all this time – but now it seems like the writers are tackling it head on. Last night I watched the rest of Once Upon a Time from last season, completely reveling in Hook’s hotness. OMG, that smile!

So, yeah, something is working, or maybe I’m just riding it out… but things are looking up.

Beautifully said.

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Marian:

Just read it all, it’s great…. like I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been mildly depressed. And I spent time worrying that someone from work would see it, which is really exactly what you don’t need to be worried about, right? This is exactly what i need people to know about me. That I am struggling, and it’s hard, and sometimes the fear that it’s going to be this hard forever truly is truly overwhelming.

Originally posted on jessica michelle singleton:

This is a rant. Not an angry one. Just an honest, wordy flow of thoughts, typed out on a fucking blog of all things. People will think it’s too long. Or too self indulgent. Or too sad. Or too soon. Or too late. Or too real. And that’s okay. I am okay with people thinking what they want. I have accepted that you don’t have to agree with someone to love them. So it’s all alright. And as you are reading it, please consider that this is coming from someone who is only now (within the last month) for the first time in 27 years, really allowing herself to fully experience feeling true emotion. I can honestly say that for the first time in my life, I’ve finally learned what it means to let go.

It shouldn’t be hard for a person who writes and speaks for a living to…

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