Ten Years of Blogging and the Struggle of Realness

WordPress sent me a notification recently, one I really hadn’t expected, but apparently I’ve owned this site for ten whole years!

That’s just crazy to think about.

Looking back over my first post, it took me a while to really get comfortable with what to even blog about. I was struggling to figure out how to open up, and it was difficult to even feel comfortable talking about who I was or where I was from. That kind of honesty online felt dangerous, even though now it’s an everyday thing.

When I was growing up, and the internet was the wild west it was really frightening to use your real name online. Everybody used aliases for fear of being the victim of identity theft, which wasn’t really understood at the time. You had emails for different usernames, you carefully managed what information you gave out because everything was public. Very few messageboards were behind passwords, so everything you said and did was public. Nobody knew how that would affect job prospects, or health insurance opportunities. Mental illnesses just weren’t talked about.

Then came Facebook, and you had to use your real name to get setup. You originally had to enter your real university email address to have an account. Suddenly there were potential ramifications of things you did online, or at least, you thought there were. Oh boy, things sure have changed ten years later!

I had to think of this site as a “professional online portfolio” which sounds kind of ridiculous these days, but that was the equivalent. Slowly my blog grew out of my writing experiences, my progress, my struggles, my highs and lows. Slowly I started to understand my online presence and how it reflected a unique part of me, similar to how my writing does. I grew more comfortable in my online skin, I grew more comfortable in what I could share.

Today it’s easily the hub of my author business and I work hard to keep it updated (*eyes that header image real hard haha*). It’s as natural a part of my work as my writing, as Facebook, as Instagram, and YouTube. It’s taken me a while to fully embrace it, both its more casual aspects (the blog itself), and its more professional pieces (media kits, book listings, social media links, etc). It’s had a lot of modifications in the past ten years, and several complete revamps. I feel like it’s going to get another one soon once I carve out some time.

Some of you all have been following my blog since I first published my sword and sorcery short story in Short-Story.Me! (which has also had a heck of a site update over the years!) and it has gone on to get–

*squints*

A whopping 58,500 views? Holy cow!

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ve worked real hard to figure things out through this blog, and I appreciate you all for following me on my journey. Some of you have even been with me from the very start, and I can’t express how thankful I am for your support and motivation!

Here’s to ten more years of blogging, writing, learning, and figuring out this whole author thing.

Thanks for being here. ❤

Beware the Goats!

I first met Sarah through the Authors For Families charity drive. If you’ve followed my blog for the past year or so, you’ll notice that I’ve participated in this multiple times. Basically authors donate books, edits, read-throughs, etc. in exchange to donating to a select charity. I’ve seen the organization and coordination this takes behind the scenes. She works hard for a fantastic cause, and now in a few weeks we’ll be sharing a booth together at Decatur Book Festival!

Today her debut novel gets released, Double Crossing the Bridge. Although I haven’t gotten the chance to read it completely yet, I did read through the first chapter that got posted yesterday on the Parliament House Blog. This is such a fun and unusual world already and I’m really curious to read more!

Trolls, unicorns, and humans all exist – and somehow those dang billy goats always find a way to cause trouble! Congratulations on the book release, Sarah!

I’ve nabbed my copy already, have you?

(By the way, isn’t it weird that we’ve both written about trolls??)

Creativity in Public Spaces and the Importance of Bookshelves

I recently read Kelley Frank’s post (my sister and BFF) on making art in public and why it’s a good idea, and it got me thinking.

Growing up I was exposed to so much creativity. There was knitting, needlepoint, piano, clarinet, cooking, and of course, painting. Besides the piano, which obviously took up a good chunk of the living room, few artistic endeavors were given dedicated space in our house. Clarinet playing happened in the bedroom, painting in the kitchen, but books were given their own room entirely. We had our own home library, with at least four bookshelves, and more stacks of books that wouldn’t fit into the shelves.

Both of my parents collected tons of books, and still do, from biographies to comic books, from advanced calculus textbooks to steamy romances, they had a ton to choose from. We didn’t have a lot of money when I was younger, but books were worth the expense. We would scour bargain bins at department stores and check out the sale racks at Barnes and Nobles. Growing up with access to that many books seemed just normal to me. I would be able to check out a book series my mom had read as a kid, or read adventure novels that my dad collected. I could read books my older sister had read when she was a kid. We had most of the Babysitter’s club, a ton of Stephen King, and at least one encyclopedia set. It was a shock when I visited my friends’ homes and found they didn’t have a library at home, or even a full bookshelf.

“I do it because I think particularly in this country people are so distanced from literature, the way it’s taught in schools, that they think that people who write are magicians on a mountaintop somewhere, […] And I think that’s one of the reasons why there’s so much illiteracy in this country. So by doing it in public, I show people it’s a job … like being a plumber or an electrician.”

Harlan Ellison

In Kelley’s post, she focuses on the importance of seeing art performed in public, and how the act of doing the artwork drew the attention of some kids on a field trip. For me as a child, everybody in my family was creative in some way. I was surrounded by it all the time. While books certainly can’t be written in public (though it has been done before!), the fact that you sacrifice precious space in your home for books is a very telling decision. It speaks to the importance of books without having to see them performed.

But what do you think?

Do you think having a bookshelf at home stuffed with books helps kids realize the importance of them? Or do you think that kind of clutter isn’t necessary? I knew kids growing up that owned only 5 books, but those books had been read 20 times at least. Ebooks add a whole different dimension to the conversation too!

Review: Eight Minutes, Thirty-Two Seconds

This was the first book I had read from my fellow Horror Writers Association member, Peter Salomon. He reached out to me back in January of this year asking for a blurb for his new book. I had never been asked to do anything like that before, but he enjoyed The She-Wolf of Kanta so much that he wanted to hear what I thought of this.

I didn’t know what I was getting into.

Finished: January 31, 2019

What starts out as a very stream-of consciousness style slowly pieces together as the story progresses. You get snippets of details as each person explores memories. You get insight, piece by piece, into what happened that led to this bizarre state of existence. You start to understand the mistakes, the terrible decisions, the consequences of being so very intelligent and untouchable.

After reading this book, I’ve started to keep an eye out for any of Peter’s other work because I binged this in two days. Yes, it’s a novella so it’s shorter than a novel, but the sun had gone down and I was sitting in the dark reading on my phone because I just couldn’t put it down and hadn’t noticed it was nighttime. I don’t usually do that, I can disconnect and pull away, but this book sucked me in entirely. Maybe it’s because it taps into psychology and cognitive science, two fields that I adore and almost went into in college. Maybe it’s because it explores teen abuse and neglect from highly intelligent individuals, something I haven’t seen much in YA fiction. Either way, I devoured this book.

This book is an intense, terrifying foray into a dark future where two survivors must piece together the end of the world through the jumbled memories of six abused teens. A wonderful read that I couldn’t put down by a writer who understands the biological, technological, and research worlds, this is one science fiction thrill ride you won’t want to miss! If you enjoy exploring cognitive science, AI technology, biological weapons, and a mystery of global proportions, this is definitely the book for you!

What I consider a 5-star book:

  • Is it a fun read? Didn’t even notice it was nighttime, remember? It’s a ridiculously fun read once you get on board!
  • Would you recommend it to others? Absolutely! Especially if they enjoy science fiction thrillers.
  • Does it stick with you? Peter’s writing gets under your skin in a good way. I’m reading another book from him now, and I just end up falling right into his voice again. So yes, it sticks with you. Like glue.

My overall rating: 5/5

PS. I’m reading another book by Peter now, Henry Franks, and I’m enjoying it just as much so far. It’s more of a straightforward horror rather than a science fiction piece though. Expect a review for that to come soon! He’s quickly become one of my favorite authors.

Broken Now Listed on Goodreads

I’m thrilled to announce that Broken, the sequel to Stolen, is now posted up on Goodreads! Due out in Spring 2020, this is Book 2 of the Stolen series trilogy. Get a glimpse of what’s to come in the unofficial blurb below.

Add it to your To-Read list! I’m in the middle of editing this one, and trust me when I say you won’t want to miss it!

Broken
by Marlena Frank

A land has fallen. An escape was made. It’s a victory of sorts, but at what price?

Shaleigh has made a terrible mistake, one she may not ever be able to fix. Lost and in a strange land with anger and death all around her, she must navigate her way through treacherous lands on her quest for redemption. Along the way she’ll have to negotiate with the mercurial Queen of the Fae, survive the dangers of the Masked King’s realm, and seek out a terrifying fire dragon.

With two powerful beings hot on her trail, Shaleigh has no choice but to keep moving, or else face the dangerous magic of the Madness that has already caused so much pain and heartache. With her sights on helping her friends and her heart longing for home, Shaleigh is determined, but will it be enough?

Coming Spring 2020