The End Of August – Looking Forward

As we come to the end of August I’m looking back at all that I’ve done and not done.

In many ways it’s been a very productive month.  I’ve worked hard on my poetry and went beyond my goal of adding 1,000 words to the draft.  I was also very busy editing, which paid off with me adding a new novel to my portfolio.

I wasn’t as successful with my own novel writing, but that is what next month will be for.
In the next month I hope to continue my work on my poetry book, I would like it to be at 100 pages or more. Making it my longest poetry collection.  I would also like to continue writing my novella Collecting Chaos, hopefully finishing it by the end of September.

I also need to edit my novel from Camp in July.  I barely touched it this last month, and I need to continue to push forward with this.

I also need to edit my novel from Camp in July.  I barely touched it this last month, and I need to continue to push forward with this.

I hope this next month is successful!

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Promoting Creativity – August 2017

This month I interviewed the art editor for my magazine Cauldron Anthology.  She’s been such a wonderful help to the magazine, I just had to do some promotion for her. Thank you so much Tierney!

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1) Tell us a little bit about what you do.

You know the old adage about diversifying your stocks? I do the same, but with my skills and experiences. I spend most of my time writing or editing, but I enjoy grappling with all sorts of things to enhance the abilities I already possess. At the moment, I’m the social media manager for Sundress Publications; a copy editor and proofreader for Strange Horizons; and a graphic design intern for Ploughshares. Amongst others, really, but those are the largest of my current jobs. I’m also a current grad student with Emerson College for their Writing, Literature, and Publishing degree. (Didn’t I say I work a lot? I meant it.) At the moment, I’m probably most closely linked with graphic design, which is hilarious because I hated design work when I first found my way into InDesign and now… Here I am.

2) When and why did you start writing?

Much of my educational history stems from the rhetoric of composition, so I’ve spent countless hours, and at least a couple of academic papers, trying to answer this very question for myself. I’m still learning and noticing new tendencies in myself and others, but I’ve come up with a fairly basic description for myself and my evolution in writing.

Telling stories came naturally to me at a very early age. My entire family still talks about my stories of Allison the Saver Dog, a superhero pooch I made up when I was just beginning to talk and told stories of throughout most of my childhood. (I love dogs. I was a very early talker and my first words were “want doggy” so I’ve been obsessed my entire life.) I was constantly making up stories in my head because I was always reading or consuming a story from other media types. One of my first non-fiction pieces for school (in, maybe, second or third grade?) was about my travels with my family that my teacher really identified as solid writing, especially for such a young kid; my mom is still bitter that my teacher never gave that paper back to her. I told stories from the backseat while my parents drove. I was fortunate in that my mother, who doesn’t like reading, took me to the library every week. My father gave me access to his little collection of books. I’ve always had people in my life that enabled me to grow into a better writer and person.

Engaging so much, so early really solidified in my mind that the input/output of stories, in this case specifically writing, is the most important way to contextualize the world while also exerting control over where you are and what you’re doing. Every piece of writing I do has a different, more immediate context that I want to push toward, but are ultimately a means to build communication either with myself or an external audience.

 

3) Tell us about a project that you are currently working on that has you really excited.

Besides everything I’m ever doing professionally, which I’m always ready to talk about, I have been working (slowly, but working nonetheless) on a collection of short stories based on number stations. Anyone who knows me knows I love science fiction and the weird. They’ve also probably read my undergraduate capstone project where I finally started to really write for this idea I’ve had in my head for a while now. The collection hasn’t quite coagulated entirely yet, but it will get there.

I’ve also recently gotten back on track with writing poetry. While I don’t have any plans for a collection of poems yet (or even soon, really), I’m happy to be writing in varied styles again. It’s so great to be stretching myself into these different mental angles and working out how to make each work the way I want them to. Even more, I’ve started a blog, finally, where I’ll be posting little snippets of stories (probably mostly non-fiction for now but will branch out soon) as consistently as I can. There are other possible future-projects that are currently hatchlings, but I’ll leave those as a simple tease for now!

4) What are some of your goals for the future?

My goals are… mostly to just enjoy what I do and hopefully make a reasonable living off of doing them. Graduating, maintaining a steady job, and furthering my engagement with the literary world. I’m sick as of answering these questions (and the Hugo Awards are happening) so I’ve also been whining all day about wanting to be best friends with Ellen Datlow or at least working for Tor, so I’d take those too.

 5) How can we support you?

Follow and talk to me on social media, twitter and blog can be found here. Get me involved in cool stuff, send me paid editing and/or design gigs, and keep an eye out for a hopefully-soon-to-open Patreon page where you will see writings in progress, maybe some design tutorials, and lots of hijinks (including, maybe probably, my K-pop magazine project)!

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue – By Mackenzie Lee

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Goodreads Synopsis: Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores. 

Find on Goodreads and Amazon.

I really wanted to get a copy of this book, but wasn’t sure if I wanted to buy it. Thankfully I got a copy in one of my OwlCrate boxes!  Also I have to say, I like the cover for the OwlCrate box way better than the original cover.

It was hard not to have high hopes for this book, it is Historical Fiction (my favorite genre) and has a male bisexual main character.  And let me say, this book does not disappoint.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is such a fun read. From the very beginning I fell in love with the main character Monty. He’s selfish, but he’s always amusing, and relatable.  The secondary characters are also great. Monty’s sister is brilliant, she’s kickass and I can’t wait to read Lee’s book about her.  Monty’s crush Percy is selfless and practically Monty’s opposite in every way, but he doesn’t come off as know-it-all.  I shipped Percy and Monty so hard. 😀

At times I thought I was able to predict where the plot was going, but I was usually surprised. Which is awesome for me, I really like it when I’m surprised, it keeps me interested.

I don’t want to give too much away for this story. I just want to say that you should definitely read it.  I gave it four stars on Goodreads and I will probably be rereading this book sometime next year.

Reading Wrap-Up August 2017

Wow this month was not a good month for me reading-wise. I guess I was a little distracted this month. I’ve been doing more editing, and working on my poetry. But also my birthday was this month and Grant and I went to the coast for it. Anyway, I read 13 books this month. Unfortunately no 5 star reads, but not as many low stars either. Also I’m still ahead of my reading goal, I’m currently at 194 books of 250. Once I reach 200 I’m considering moving my goal up to 300, but I haven’t decided if that’s a good idea or not. What do you think?

1 Star Reads: The Treatment and The Reader I both DNF. The Reader was too cliche and predictable, The Treatment all about a stupid love triangle. Full reviews to come.

 

2 Star Reads: I’ve already reviewed this book on the blog. You can check that out here. 

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3 Star Reads: I’ve reviewed some of these books already. The Valiant was the last book I read this month, and it was pretty good. Parts of it were better than I thought they would be, other parts were a bit too coincidental.

4 Star Reads: I really enjoyed reading all of these books.  The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is every bit as good as people say it is. Bitch Planet interesting comic, as ever. I will be doing reviews for these books in the next few weeks. I reviewed Maud: The Life of L.M. Montgomery last week.


And there you go! So what did you read this month? Are you happy with your reading goals? 

The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson – By Jerome Charyn

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Goodreads Synopsis: What if the old maid of Amherst wasn’t an old maid at all? Her older brother, Austin, spoke of Emily as his “wild sister.” Jerome Charyn, continuing his exploration of American history through fiction, has written a startling novel about Emily Dickinson in her own voice, with all its characteristic modulations that he learned from her letters and poems. The poet dons a hundred veils, alternately playing wounded lover, penitent, and female devil. We meet the significant characters of her life, including her tempestuous sister-in-law, Susan Gilbert; her brooding father, Edward; and the Reverend Charles Wadsworth, who may have inspired some of her greatest letters and poems. 

Find on Goodreads and Amazon.

Every time I go to the Sylvia Beach Hotel I try to read a book from the room I’m staying in. For my birthday Grant and I stayed in the Emily Dickinson room and there I found this book. I didn’t have many hopes for the book, but I liked the cover.

The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson read much like a bad fanfiction. It’s like Charyn had a crush on Dickinson and then decided to write a romance between her and several characters that he based all on himself.

This book barely focuses on the fact that Emily was a poet, and a brilliant one at that. She hardly ever spends time writing, but instead goes around falling in love with any half decent man. She goes from one romance to the next and it gets boring rather quickly. On top of that it’s not even well written. There are too many coincidences. Too many cliches. Sure the prose is good, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the rest of the book.

In the end I gave this book two stars on Goodreads.

The Girl From Everywhere – By Heidi Heilig

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Goodreads Synopsis: Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination. As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix. But the end to it all looms closer every day. Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence. For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters. She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.

Find on Amazon and Goodreads.

This book was recommended to me by a friend, and I’m quite happy they did so. It was an interesting read.

The Girl From Everywhere takes you back in time to several different places, and is at times in the present day.  I loved the time travel, especially since they traveled by boat! I enjoyed the world a lot in the book. Though time travel took some explaining and was sometimes confusing.  I found that hard because I wanted to know everything about the world. But when it came time to teaching Nix how to travel, I found the explanation a little flat.

Nix herself is a great character. It’s very interesting because she’s part Chinese, and so the book deals with some racism, and I always like it when books work with realistic topics. I also enjoyed her stubbornness, her motivations, and her friendships.  It’s easy to sympathize with her. Her father is an abusive man, and I found myself wanting to stand up for her more than once.  I found it amazing that she is able to forgive her father in the end, I really thought that was admirable. For myself I couldn’t forgive his character, and still hated him at the end.
The other characters in the book are well written.  There is an unfortunate love triangle of sorts, which I thought was silly, but thankfully it wasn’t a major plot point.

I found the conclusion of the story just a bit too easy. I felt like the author desperately wanted a happy ending, and so because of this forced everything to come together in a way that wasn’t very realistic. I was a bit disappointed with this.  I also found the story just a little predictable.  Because of these I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads, but I definitely recommend it to people who love time travel.