Life’s Too Short to Read Bad Books

Or drink bad wine, unless that’s the only kind you can get and even then sometimes it’s better to just go sober. My mom posted on Facebook the other day that she was trying to get through Grapes of Wrath because it’s one of those books you “should” read. Lots of people chimed in with how much they loved the book, what a classic it was, etc. I said that no matter how good it was, if she wasn’t enjoying it she shouldn’t waste her time. Who knows how long we have on this earth to spend doing things we love, including reading? I have my fingers crossed that heaven is like a huge library but I’m not counting on it. It’s like eating well. Lots of folks will tell you that you “should” eat broccoli, but if it’s not your thing you can actually get the same nutrients from a vegetable you enjoy. Thanks to indie publishing, there is a truly limitless supply of reading material out there. I download quite a few free/99 cent books in the hopes of finding new authors to support. I also give up on them if the first few pages don’t grab me. Sometimes this is a quality issue, sometimes it’s a not-my-vegetable issue. But whether it’s a classic, bestseller, newbie author or whatever, I don’t have the time for stuff I don’t enjoy. So unless your teacher is forcing you, just put the book down. You probably won’t be on your deathbed lamenting all of the books you “should” have read. You’ll be frantically trying to get through all the books...

Talking Books at Perception Studios

Shannon Wilkinson wrote a great love letter to books in this post, which you should check out. Here’s my response to what books have had the greatest influence on me: I wanted to respond to this yesterday but allergies have had my brain fuzzy and operating at very low capacity. This is a great topic for discussion, though, so I’m going to try and participate. “Pawn of Prophecy,” by David Eddings, was my gateway drug into the world of fantasy in 5th grade. I learned the true power of how books provide a much-needed escape from the real world. To this day, there’s nothing like a good fantasy book to heal whatever ails me. “A Path to Love,” by Deepak Chopra, helped me heal from a few broken hearts and learn to see love for what it really is. Alright. Back to my date with a box of...

Busy Bee or Lazy Ladybug? Enough is Enough, Already.

Well, maybe not lazy, but relaxed and mindful instead of crazy-busy and frantic? That’s a worthy goal. I recently read the article “The Busy Trap” by Tim Krieder, and it made me cringe in self-recognition and cheer at the same time. He makes many great points, but this especially resonated with me: Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day. You want to know that what you are doing matters. You want to be doing something meaningful so at the end of the day, you can put up your feet and feel that wonderful, deep satisfaction. Twitter counts, right? I discovered how much I rely on busyness as a means of validation when I was laid off a few years ago. At first I was occupied with finishing my master’s in education and getting married, but then the only real “job” I had was finding another paycheck. Of course, I also kept up the house, ran errands, babysat my nephew and helped with my disabled grandmother. Still, I always felt I had to come up with a list of what had kept me busy so I could rattle it off when I picked my husband up from work to prove that I was worth keeping around. Since starting my own business and moving into a formal role as caregiver to my grandmother, I have found lots of ways to keep busy. Too bad busy doesn’t automatically guarantee profits. When a...

Book Review: The Moonstone by Nikki Broadwell

A young woman is reunited with her estranged mother who tells her that they must leave immediately to visit the Otherworld so the young woman’s unborn child can be blessed. However, there’s more to it than a pleasant (walking) mother-daughter road trip. This book intrigued me with its Scottish setting and a heroine on a quest that challenges her to keep an open mind about magic and spirituality. I have roots in both Ireland and Scotland and while I have more of an affinity towards Ireland, that didn’t stop me from relating to this story. A Scottish brogue is as romantic as an Irish lilt, and magic is magic whatever country you’re in. The Otherworld was described beautifully and Gaelic words and Celtic lore were mostly explained within the context of the story.  This book is strong on magic, replete with gods/godesses, magic stones, prophecies, and healers who do more than administer herbs. I loved that I was encouraged to let go of the secular world and trust in the unseen, as the protaganist, Finna, must do on her quest. I didn’t connect with Finna as much as I would have liked, but the hints about her future child lead me to believe that I will like that character very much as she develops in the next books. I was also distracted by some typos, especially in the last third of the book (I am very picky about that kind of thing). Overall, the author wove a story that made up for the technical hiccups, and I will be buying the next in the series. * * * Yup,...

The Real Magic of “The Magic Quest”

Creativity is a magical thing, and no one has proven this to me more than my cousin, Matthew Schilling, with his debut book, The Magic Quest. Matt is a young adult with autism and a seizure disorder, but he doesn’t let that get in the way of his creative expression. He loves telling jokes and performing in plays, and now has realized a long-term dream of becoming a published author with the help of his tutor, Nancy Barth. I have been fortunate to help with the indie publishing process, from editing to project management. It is nothing less than magical to see this book out in the world. The Magic Quest tells the tale of a young man who must stop the Evil Wizard from getting his hands on a certain spell book and thus destroying the world. Magic spells, people-turned-animals-turned-people, detestable bad guys, humor, suspense; this book has it all and more. It is not only a gripping story, but a window into the mind of someone with autism. Ten Percent of the proceeds from the sale of this book are to be donated to the Easter Seals Central California Autism Intervention Program. I am thrilled to announce that The Magic Quest eBook can now be purchased from the following e-tailers: Amazon Barnes & Noble iBookstore Kobo Sony It will soon be available at Copia, eBook pie, and Gardener’s (for the UK). A paperback version is in the works as well To be sure you get the news, sign up for updates here. If you or anyone you know would be interested in having the author as a guest...

A Book on Memoir Writing Gave Me the Willies

I recently finished reading The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life* by Marion Roach and while I will have an official review soon, I thought I would share the visceral reactions I had while reading it. These are unedited and may or may not make sense. Putting my thoughts into words was one step in healing my relationship with writing. Sharing them as they are is another. I need to learn how to, and make peace with, vomiting shitty first drafts. I resist writing because it is something that comes so naturally and part of me wants to rebel. I am afraid that what I write will fail to live up to expectations, mine and other peoples’. I know this is not a unique fear among writers, but it feels very personal. I am afraid that after harboring this secret desire/talent for writing, I won’t be able to follow through on it. I am afraid that lack of follow through will mean I am a flake, lazy, undisciplined. The message of my life is “You are enough.” I am afraid that even though that is my message, I will write and write and write and it still won’t be enough. It is scary to admit that I do not have it all together and figured out. It is scarier still to publish something with errors, but everything has to have a first draft. I hope that by consciously sharing the imperfect stages of writing, I encourage you to get comfortable in the mess of creation. Affie...