Book Releases, Book Review, Book Tag, Books!, Conventions, Cover Reveal, Graphic Novel, Manga, NaNoWriMo, NetGalley, Readathon, Reading Challenge, Recommendations, Signal Boost, TBR Purge, Writing

The Road So Far (2)

Hey all, Dani here.

Why mess with the tradition I started last year? I might as well keep using the awesome “Supernatural” reference for my retrospective over the last year. You can find my overview of 2016 here.

Today also happens to be my 2 year blogaversary. I started this blog in 2016 to help me cope with my paternal grandmother’s death. Well, technically that was the catalyst for starting it; I had been thinking of starting up a blog again for a while because I needed to talk about books with someone.

2017 was such a rollercoaster year for me, and yet, looking back I wouldn’t change any of the lows I went through. Not only because the highs really kept me afloat, but also because the lows allowed me to fully understand how great the highs were.

Anyway, in January I found out that I was approved for the vacation days from work that would allow me to go to Book Expo and BookCon. Though I knew I was going alone, I knew that I would have a fun time surrounded by other book lovers and getting to check out a bunch of upcoming releases.

Also in January, my parents separated after 30 years together, and started the process of getting a divorce. The drama and issues from this event would send shockwaves through roughly 2/3 of the year.

I lost myself in books, both reading them and buying them. I pushed myself to work more on my blog, and to start interacting more with other members of the book community. It was the start to me really feeling like a good book blogger. But in those early months it was also the way I had to cope with what was happening in my life. Well, my books and Dungeons & Dragons.

It was Dungeons & Dragons that introduced me to the man who I would start dating in April. As it turns out this would be the event that helped me get through everything else. Admittedly, I know some people in my real life got annoyed with how much I gushed about my guy and how great things were. I can’t help it that my life started to feel like I was part of a romance story.

After my trip to NYC for Book Expo and BookCon, my blog really started to take off. I reached 100 followers, and later in the year 200. I’m not sure when follower 250 came around, but it might have been just before 2017 ended. So thank you to each and every one of you who has joined me in this process. You are all amazing.

Even with my work and my relationship, I somehow managed to still keep up with all of my reading and blogging, and actually I started having posts go up every single day, something I never would have thought I would be able to do.

I participated in quite a few readathons over the course of the year, from both sessions of Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathons, to a few other assorted events. All in all I think those helped me connect with more of you, and to read a bunch more books. The 24 Hour events always seem much more successful to me than the week long events, but I still keep trying with them. Hey, any excuse to read more, right?

I rekindled my fondness for manga in 2017, and I can honestly say that I am devouring so many of them. My list of manga reviews waiting to be written up is getting decently long.

Oh, and my boyfriend and I were able to go to Indianapolis in August with another friend of ours for a one day pass to Gen Con, which is a gaming convention. There we were able to get a lot of books, dice, and games, as well as to meet the cast of Critical Role. It was a really fun day.

For the 12th time I participated in NaNoWriMo, and managed to earn my 12th win, but I realize that the novel that came out is mostly incoherent. With any luck I’ll be able to start from scratch and re-write the book in 2018. I’d actually love to be able to share it with the world. And it would be nice to really get back into writing (and possibly publishing) again.

And I managed to do a TBR purge and go through a list of well of 800 books on Goodreads, taking it down to just over 400 books. I imagine this will be something I’ll have to do again soon, but I still feel pretty good with where I’m at now.

But, the greatest event of 2017 was towards the end of December. On Friday, December 22nd, on a day when we thankfully had a shutdown day at work, my boyfriend and I went shopping at Barnes & Noble where he both bought more books than me and spent more money than me. You guys, that rarely happens. You’ve seen my typical book hauls. I usually get a heck of a lot of books.

After that shopping trip, we made our way to the zoo, where we walked around for a couple hours, looking at all of the animals and then also checking out the massive holiday light display they put up each year. And it was while sitting on a bench overlooking Conservation Lake at the zoo, that my wonderful boyfriend sank down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was honestly just like a scene out of a Hallmark channel holiday movie, and I so look forward to seeing what our future will be like.

I hope you all had some moments of 2017 that were really nice as well, and I hope that we all have a very nice 2018.

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Books!, Inspiration, NaNoWriMo, Readathon, Signal Boost, Writing

Goals for 2018

Hey all, Dani here.

Well, here we are, a whole week into the new year already, and I am just now getting a post up where I talk about my goals for the year. Normally I would have had the post up already, but with the schedule I had figured out a month or so ago, this was the best I could do.

Last year I had a similar post, but I called it my 2017 Bookish Resolutions. So it seems fitting that I just continue that trend and talk about things I want to continue doing or improve on over the next twelve months.

First up: Reading. Obviously this is a big and important part of my life each and every year, which is probably why I list it first. Typically I started my reading goal at 75 books, but the past few years I have always increased the goal a couple times or so after reaching it with months left in the year. I still think this is a very doable goal, and I look forward to sharing my reading experiences with all of you. And part of sticking to this goal will be doing readathons. Right now I am already doing the Manga Madness Readathon, which is happening this week. I also plan to keep an eye out for 24 Hour Readathons from both Zoe Herdt (@readbyzoe on Twitter and YouTube), and @24Hourathon on Twitter. Then, of course, there is Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon in both April and October.

Second: Blogging. Another big part of my life the past couple of years is this blog. 2016 may not have been a super popular year for my blog, but I felt like I grew a lot in 2017 and I started posting a lot more and interacting even more than that. So I look forward to seeing what is to come in 2018. I’m working on creating a book tag, and I hope you will all enjoy that. Plus, I am continuing my weekly recommendation posts, and as always, throw out more suggestions for themes/topics/etc for these posts. Also, I have a nice backlog of book tags and other post ideas that I’m hoping to get to, so I’m hoping to continue having lots of nice content on here for all of you.

The third item on my list of goals is: Writing. This has been the hardest resolution or goal to stick to the past couple years. Yes, I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo and continued to win, but I know I could and should be doing more. There is a book inside of me that I’ve been wanting to get out for the past year, so I’m honestly hoping I can get a decent draft of it finished in 2018. I’ll keep you guys posted on how I’m doing though. And honestly, a little motivation could help me out too. So, if you think about it randomly throughout the year, ask how the writing is going for me in the comments. I used to do some of my most regular writing back when I posted it online chapter by chapter using fictionpress. And it goes without saying, though I will say it now anyway, that I will definitely be participating in NaNoWriMo again this year.

Finally: Bookstagram. I only posted to Instagram a handful of times in 2017, and I feel really bad about that. Taking photos, particularly of books, is something I have enjoyed, so I need to try and get back into that again. Though, I suppose part of that would include bringing some of my Bookstagram photo props to my apartment instead of abandoning them at my mom’s house. I will start to post more on there; I promise. You can find me @danielle.thamasa on Instagram.

Okay, okay, so I guess technically I have a fifth category and that is goals for my non-bookish life. Because, let’s be honest, 2017 was a pretty good year for me away from this blog as well. My guy and I met, started dating, and moved in together. Now we are making more and more plans for the future, and it is kind of awesome. Right now we are definitely planning to attend all four days of Gen Con in August 2018, so that will be fun (it will also be my 30th birthday weekend so yay!), and we may even be going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter this fall. We have to see if it will fit in the budget. So I am looking forward to a year of more board games, anime, video games, Dungeons & Dragons, and just cuddling up on the couch with my favorite guy.

I know there’s not a whole lot of concrete goals for this post. I’m not saying that I’m going to post a certain number of times each week, or that I’m going to write a certain number of words or for a certain length of time each day for my novels. I’ve been doing pretty good at having around 5 posts each week on the blog, but there could be times when work or life keep me from posting that much. At the very least I know that I will have a post or two up each week, but as much as possible I’m going to try and maintain my current posting schedule. Hopefully. And for my writing, I think it’s enough to say that I would like to have a whole draft finished for the book I’ve been wanting to write. It doesn’t set me up with a word count goal, but I still have a general idea of how much work I need to put in to achieve it.

What about you guys? What goals do you have for 2018? I would love to hear all about them in the comments, or even a link back to your own post (if you’ve already written one up).

Book Releases, Books!, Diverse December, Inspiration, Signal Boost, Writing

Guest Post: FADVERSITY – Diversity as a Genre by Hannah Carmack

Hey all, Dani here.

 

Okay so today I am excited to bring to you a guest post by an author I’ve been speaking with recently. I shall also have a review up for her newest release within the next week based on my currently scheduled posts.

But I’ll start off with giving you some details about Hannah’s book.

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In the midst of the cold war, the CIA’s finest and most fatal female agent, Diana Riley, vanishes. Kidnapped by the KGB and taken to the backcountry of North Carolina, she and her team of unsavory partners are forced to undergo illegal experimentation.

But, when the experiments leave them horribly deformed and unable to reenter society without someone crying monster, the previously glamorous and high-maintenance spies must escape KGB captivity and avoid recapture at the hands of Nikola, a ruthless KGB agent with an intense and well-justified grudge against her former flame.

You can snag a copy of this book right now from Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.

And now I’m going to pass this post over to Hannah. Enjoy.


I’m going to open right away by saying these are some deep waters. In no world is a 300-500 word post going to cover the intricate details of the recent viralization of #ownvoice/Diverse Voices manuscripts. I’m coming at this simply as a debut-author publishing through a niche, #ownvoices dedicated press.

To say that navigating what is acceptable and what isn’t acceptable in the genrefication of diversity is difficult is an understatement. From MSWL to Twitter Pitch Scandal, there’s no right way to talk about it. The only thing we can know for certain is although diversity shouldn’t be a fad, it is.

In a perfect world, diversity is just a way of life. Our world is diverse, so our fiction is. Currently, there is a push for more diverse book, which I think is good! More marginalized voices are being heard. I would have never found my publisher and gotten SEVEN-SIDED SPY published if not for the active search for LGBTQIA+ voices.

That said, there’s also anxiety in the publishing world that sometime soon diversity is going to go out of style. I was at a literary conference not too long ago. While there I was able to grab lunch with some fairly reputable authors, all of whom were talking about when the “vampire bubble” burst. You know, that sweet spot in literary history where the vampire boom from Twilight was finally over. A lot of authors, and readers rejoiced (As someone who loved Vampire’s Assistant I was –slightly- bummed). But, there’s no denying that for a while it seemed like you couldn’t pick up a YA book without a bloodsucker jumping out of the pages at you, and then just as sudden as it started, it was gone.

The conversation seemed normal, until everyone then transitioned into talking about “the diversity bubble.” In which case, all the wheels in my mind came to a screeching halt. I want to say that there will be no end to #ownvoices. That in this good perfect world our books will always be as diverse as our world. But, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think they were right.

“Trends” in literature come and go. For a while it was vampires, then it was zombies, currently, it feels like we’re in the ending days of dystopia, and soon we’ll be ushering in an era of #ownvoices. It’s no secret that one of these things is not like the other. Diversity shouldn’t be shelved alongside “dystopia” and “paranormal romance,” but it very well could be if we don’t keep speaking up and demanding our voices be heard.

The authors at that conference were right. We’re in a “diversity as a trend” bubble. Which has its pros –easier to find books featuring different races, religions, abilities, genders, ect, ect- and cons- trivialization of serious topics, problematic representation. It seems like the best thing we can do at the moment, is keep writing. Don’t shy away from your all-queer cast or your genderfluid track star or your coming of age about a girl with an ileostomy. Keep writing and keep reading books that speak to cultures that aren’t your own, the unconventional, the often shyed away from. There is a “trendification” of diversity going on. It’s up to readers and writers, to make sure it lasts even if this “bubble” bursts.


All right, Dani again. So tomorrow I’ll have two posts up: one on my underwhelming reads of 2017 and one for my top reads of 2017 (the July-December edition).

Book Review, Books!, NaNoWriMo, Signal Boost, Writing

November Wrap Up

Hey all, Dani here.

I realize right now some of you may be thinking that I forgot to add the TBR portion for this post. Normally you would be right, but as I am participating in Books and Munches’ Diverse December, I already have my TBR posted so you can check that out here.

Which basically means that all I have to cover with today’s post is the books I read this month, my OwlCrate unboxing, my monthly book haul, and then a brief NaNoWriMo wrap-up.

The Accidental Quarterback by Charles Curtis (3 stars)

The Impossible Pitcher by Charles Curtis (4 stars)

Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman (5 stars)

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Illustrated Edition by Newt Scamander (J.K. Rowling) (5 stars)

All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson (5 stars)

The Chronicles of Exandria, Vol 1: The Tale of Vox Machina by Matthew Mercer, the cast of Critical Role, and around 60 very talented Critter artists (5 stars)

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty (5 stars)

My Hero Academia, Vol 1 by Kohei Horikoshi (5 stars)

Kat and Meg Conquer the World by Anna Priemaza (5 stars)

Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins #3 by Matthew Colville (5 stars)

Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Birdwell (5 stars)

Corduroy by Don Freeman (5 stars)

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister (4.5 stars)

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (5 stars)

Love You Forever by Robert Munsch (4 stars)

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. (5 stars)

Avatar: the Last Airbender: The Lost Adventures by Bryan Konietzko (5 stars)

My Hero Academia, Vol 2 by Kohei Horikoshi (5 stars)

Runaways, The Complete Collection, Vol 1 by Brian K Vaughan (5 stars)

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden (5 stars)

I will have mini-reviews of the children’s books up soon, as well as a few more comic and manga reviews. Oh, and my review for The Girl in the Tower should be up on Monday.

Next up is my monthly OwlCrate unboxing, and I absolutely loved the November box.

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My favorite items in the subscription box this month are the Expecto Patronum hat and the lembas bread bar of soap. Though my Fabrikator pin from the Grishaverse is really cool as well. And I am really looking forward to reading the book; it sounds really interesting.

Now onto my monthly book haul, and everyone, I may have gone a teeny bit overboard with my haul this month. On the plus side, I don’t think there are that many books for me to worry about in December. That’s great because I already know that January is stuffed with books I want to get.

 

Oh, and then I did some Christmas book shopping for my boyfriend’s 5 month old niece. This little girl already has an impressive library, and it will only continue to get better with each birthday and Christmas we have. So, I might as well haul her books on here too, especially since I decided to reread them myself before wrapping them up for her.

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So I actually did pretty good with reading during November/NaNoWriMo. Speaking of NaNoWriMo, during my mid-month check in I reported that I wrote nothing the first half of the month because I couldn’t get the words to come out and I was in a bit of a writing slump. But I have yet to lose a NaNoWriMo, so I finally forced myself to get writing.

What I have now that the month is over, is roughly 51,000 words of a haphazard journal/diary of random words tossed on a page. It’s basically absolutely awful and will not be shown to anyone. But I plan to just open up a new document in the new year and start a second draft from scratch. Maybe now I will be able to write a better and more cohesive story. I’ll keep you all updated if the writing goes well, especially if I get to the point of publication.

So yeah, I succeeded for the 12th time with NaNoWriMo…and somehow still managed to read 20 books. (Okay, yeah, there were a handful of children’s books, plus all the comics and graphic novels, but still). Suddenly the idea to read 14 books in December doesn’t seem all that daunting.

How did your November go? Any great books read? Or did you buy some fantastic books that you can’t wait to read? Let me know in the comments.

Books!, Inspiration, NaNoWriMo, Signal Boost, Writing

NaNoWriMo Update

Hey all, Dani here.

Perhaps this should be titled something more appropriate…like “I’m Completely Failing at NaNo This Year” or “How to Catch Up When You’re Behind.” Basically, I am really really behind on my word count this year.

To put this in perspective…I finally started working on my novel yesterday, so my word count is nothing too exciting.

In comparison, I have written 12,432 words on this blog so far this month. Oh, and that does not include the words written on today’s post.

Now, you may be wondering what my NaNoWriMo word count is. I’ll tell you, but you have been warned that it is low. My current word total is barely 1000 words. Yep, that’s right. I still haven’t even reached the goal for day one yet.

What that means is that I have a lot of catching up to do. But I know I can do it. I’ve been this far behind before, in several sessions of NaNo actually. In a majority of the last few years I have written 20-30K words in the final three or four days of the month. In my past 11 years of NaNo participation, I can honestly say that I have had several days where I wrote anywhere from 10-14K in a single day.

So, while catching up could be difficult, I also know that it is possible. I suppose what I mean this to highlight for any of you falling behind on your word count is that you are not alone, and you can still come out victorious by the end of the month.

Today I’m going to share just a few online writing tools that can help you increase your writing productivity.

First up: 750 words. This is a helpful site for year round writing. It technically has a site wide goal of writing 750 words each day, but I still find the reward system to be helpful for NaNo. Basically there is a scoring system based on bowling. For each day you achieve the goal of 750 words you earn a strike for the day, and for every day where you write something but don’t reach 750 words, you earn a spare. But more than that you can earn badges for writing several days in a row, for writing in the morning or the evening, for writing without stopping, and more. Sometimes working to earn badges can keep you motivated.

Next is for people who like positive reinforcement and rewards. Try Written? Kitten!  Don’t let the super simple site design scare you off. This can be a super helpful resource. Okay so you set a goal of 100, 200, 500, or 1000 words, and every time you hit that goal amount, you are rewarded with a picture of a cute little animal. The site has options for kittens, puppies, or bunnies, but there are also directions if you would like to choose a different animal.

Finally, for those of you who need that little jolt of panicked adrenaline if you stop writing, my favorite writing resource is Write or Die. I can’t even say how many words I’ve written because of this site. Actually, using this site was what started getting me in the habit of writing 10,000+ words in a day. I have purchased the desktop versions for the original Write or Die and Write or Die 2, and apparently Write or Die 3 is out now. But for the people who don’t want to pay like $10 for the desktop app, you can use the web version for free any time. Write or Die lets you set up either a time limit or a word goal, and also a grace period before any consequences begin. You can set it for annoying sounds, having your screen turn red, or even a mode that starts randomly deleting vowels (at least those were options with version 2). Write or Die 2 also saw the release for reward based writing instead of just consequence based, but I like that the negative reinforcement of the red screen or the nails on a chalkboard sound effects to keep me writing. Simply put, I don’t want to see or hear those things and so I just write and write and write until I’ve reached my goal.

So can I reach the 50,000 word goal by the end of November? Well there’s only one way to find out. I need to get a lot more writing in. So I’m off to put in a few sessions on Write or Die. Hopefully I can start catching up now that I’m finally ready to write.

Books!, Inspiration, NaNoWriMo, Signal Boost, Writing

Are You Ready for NaNoWriMo?

Hey all, Dani here.

National Novel Writing Month is right around the corner, and boy have I missed it. Honestly, aside from these blog posts, I have not done much writing lately, and I certainly have not done a whole lot of creative writing. And I really miss it. I’ve told myself that I need to set up a schedule and block out some time for writing every day and then I just don’t hold myself to it.

Thankfully I have the month of November to get me back into the rhythm of writing regularly.

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Okay, firstly, for those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is an event where each November participants attempt to write 50,000 words on a novel over the course of 30 days. Sounds pretty intense right? Well, honestly, sometimes it can be. Thankfully there are thousands of other writers attempting the same feat so you never really feel alone. You can even join regional forums based on where you live and you’ll be connected with other writers near you. Typically this also includes a person (or people) called Municipal Liaisons (MLs). These lovely people are the ones who organize meet-ups, a kick-off party, write-ins throughout the month, and a wrap party once it is over with.

I have been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2006, and it has just been such an enriching experience. In 2008 I became a Municipal Liaison, and I was one of the many founding donors for the Camp NaNoWriMo program, which is basically NaNoWriMo but in the summertime. I have written so many words and learned so much these past years and I’m so glad that I get to keep going.

This year would have been my tenth year as an ML, but sadly because of so much stuff happening in my real life, I missed the sign up deadline, something I never came close to missing before. So this year I get to watch as my co-ML runs the region on her own…well, officially anyway. Everyone knows that I’m not going anywhere, and am more than happy to answer questions and offer up advice and inspiration to any who need it.

But in some ways I’m actually glad that I just get to focus on my writing, instead of planning write-ins and pep talks, and spending a lot of time on the regional forums or on my region’s Facebook page.

In basically every previous NaNo, I wrote a fantasy or paranormal story, typically with just a hint of romance in it. But this year another story wants to be told, and it means a bit more of a challenge for me. See, events of my life this year have inspired me. At the beginning of this year I went to a friend’s house to start a new Dungeons & Dragons campaign, and there I met the amazingly wonderful and geeky man who has become my boyfriend.

So I want to write a geeky romance story, a story of two people who met while playing D&D and then bonded over board games and movies and other nerdy hobbies.

But I also know that I want the D&D campaign within the book to play a significant role too…so I plan on intertwining a fantasy story through the novel. It should be interesting at the very least.

I have basic sketches of most of the characters already finished and a general idea of the contemporary plot. I’m still thinking about the fantasy campaign story. Over the years I have learned that I can’t do a lot of writing down ideas and such because then I’ll struggle with writing the actual story in November. So I just come up with a few loose ideas and then fly by the seat of my pants the rest of the way. It works for me. Some people spend all of October drafting up elaborate outlines, and that’s fine too.

What I’m trying to do now is to come up with a good title I can use during this first draft process. I told my boyfriend that I don’t want something that is too ridiculous or cheesy, but the only thing that keeps coming to mind is “Roll for Romance.” He laughed and told me that was a perfect title and I should use it.

I guess unless something better comes along, that’s my title. I plan to draft up a quick book summary soon, and then I’ll be ready to write.

And look guys, I’m making more progress with my library/study. I should have it all finished just in time for NaNoWriMo to start, so that’ll be nice. Having a dedicated writing space can sometimes help the mind focus on the task at hand. I’ll just say here that my books aren’t fully in order yet, because I still have about half of my library to move from my mom’s house, and I still have a few more bookcases to assemble.

So are any of you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? If so, let me know, and good luck! And if you have any suggestions for my book title (or if you really like Roll for Romance, let me know those as well.

Book Tag, Books!, Inspiration, Signal Boost, Writing

Blogger Recognition Award

Hey all, Dani here.

I love being recognized and/or tagged to do awards and other posts by other bloggers. It is so great to make connections in the book community, and I am so thankful for all the people I have been meeting and interacting with, especially these past several months. Anyway, I was nominated for the Blogger Recognition Award by the delightful Kathy over at Books & Munches. Seriously, go check out her blog because it is fantastic. I love how she recommends food to go along with each book, though I will say that reading her posts generally make me hungry.

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Rules

∞ Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog
∞ Write a post to show your award
∞ Give a brief story of how your blog started
∞ Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers
∞ Select a few other bloggers you want to give this award to

How Mousai Books Started

Back in 2009, I started working with my friend Signy Cullen to try and form a new sorority at our university. We went by the name Mu Psi, because the word “mousai” means muse, and we wanted to be a group that promoted the arts. It took a lot of work to figure out our colors and our mottos and beliefs and build up a membership, but we thought we had everything situated nicely. So we asked for a vote with the Greek Council, but they kept pushing it off later and later, and then some of our members graduated so we didn’t have enough to meet the criteria. Nevertheless Signy and I never stopped feeling the bonds of sisterhood. I decided to honor what we created by naming this blog Mousai Books.

I had a book blog back when I was in university, and it was problematic. Sometimes I got lazy and missed several weeks with no blog post. I didn’t try and connect with any other blogs. My book reviews were sporadic and not nearly as well formulated as they are now.

So I took this blog to be a fresh start, and I feel like I’ve mostly lived up to the ideas I had in mind when I first started. The muses stood for creativity and inspiration. I feel like sharing my love for books and for other geeky hobbies is my way of honoring the muses of old and of all those who have inspired me to be my creative and geeky self along the way.

Blogger Advice

I feel like so many of us give similar advice: be yourself, enjoy what you’re doing, be active in the community. Don’t get me wrong, that is all great advice, and you should absolutely follow it, but I’d like to try and give other helpful advice.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to adhere to a strict posting schedule. For most of us we can manage a full schedule for a short time, but then we may fall into a reading slump or a writing slump, and then we feel guilty for missing posts or not putting up as high quality posts. This can actually lead to a downward spiral and doesn’t actually end up helping anyone. So, if it becomes necessary, reduce the number of posts you release each week, take a step back, and allow yourself to breathe and relax. Then try again. Your mental health is more important than a rigorous posting schedule. Your reader friends will understand if you have to slow down a bit.

I guess the second piece of advice I’ll give is to spice things up and have a little variety. Post some book reviews, do some book tags, go to author signings or book festivals and document the experience. If you go to the movies and see a book adaptation on screen, go ahead and post a review or a compare/contrast post. If you take a day and go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, take pictures and share the experience with us. We spend a lot of time reading each other’s posts and chatting in the comment sections. It builds friendships and we like getting to know each other. You don’t have to limit yourself to one topic or one type of post.

Nominations

Jenna at J.K. I’m Exploring!

Kristin at Kristin Kraves Books

Katie at Never Not Reading

Holly at Nut Free Nerd

Maygin at Diversifying Perspective, One Book at a Time

Books!, Inspiration, Signal Boost, Writing

I Finally Got To Go To A Renaissance Festival

Hey all, Dani here.

So sometimes it’s fun to break away from the normal pattern of blog posts. I like to do this when I have to talk about some other wonderful and geeky event happens. Today I just have to talk about my adventure to the Ohio Renaissance Festival yesterday, because it was actually my first time.

To sum it up…I’m ready to go back again! I had such a lovely time.

And okay, so I started my time at Ren Fest wearing basically a peasant sundress I ordered off Amazon, but by the time I was done I had added a cloak and a staff to my outfit. Next time around I’ll skip the dress and be in pants and a tunic to continue building my ranger outfit. I can also say that it was a rather warm day, with a high of 88 degrees Fahrenheit, but surprisingly wearing a cloak did not overheat me. I may have actually felt cooler after putting on the cloak. I’m happy with my choice there anyway, because my cloak is reversible, so depending on the situation I can have either the black or the green side visible.

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My wonderful boyfriend also got me a boffer sword, a foam sword that is approved for most LARPs. Naturally he saw the Doctor Who one and had to get it for me. Then at the very end of the day he got me this really cool potion pouch that I can put on my belt.

Of course, he also built up his own outfit, though he’s going for more of rogue vibe. So he bought a shirt, pants, a cloak, a small potion case, gauntlets, and a pipe (just because it is a cool pipe–he plans to keep the pipe as decoration). We are talking about dyeing his shirt black to better fit his outfit concept. He is going for black attire with darker blue accents.

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We spent a great deal of our time exploring the shops, which were filled with wonderful hand-crafted clothes, weapons, jewelry, and more. Though, we did spend some time watching the jousting, which was really cool. Sadly, I was also eating lunch at that time so I did not manage to take any photographs of that. I will say that my bourbon chicken was delicious though. As was the giant dill pickle I bought shortly after that.

Anyway, I sadly also did not get any photos of myself or the rest of our adventuring party as we threw knives or axes. Surprisingly I actually did enjoy throwing knives, and I was pretty okay at it, though more practice will be necessary to ensure more consistency. The axes seemed a little more than what I was prepared to try. If I was going to put everything into a Dungeons & Dragons stat block, my Strength score is pretty much average, but I have a decent Dexterity score. So basically archery, knives, light swords and such are up my alley, but axes, hammers, and bigger swords are a bit out of my realm of specialization.

I did get a few photos of my boyfriend and a couple others at the archery range, which was fun.

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We only spent about six hours at the festival, but our day was a bit longer thanks to something like 4 and a half hours on the road getting to the festival and then driving home. It was a pretty long day, but I’m already planning on making the next trip to the Renaissance Festival next year a weekend trip.

Okay, one last photo to share…my boyfriend and I together in our outfits.

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All in all, it was excellent and I am already counting down until our next geeky excursion.

Book Releases, Book Review, Books!, Signal Boost, Writing

Review: Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

Hey all, Dani here.

I was going to post up my review of Invictus today, but I started reading this book and I felt a desperate need to get my review up ASAP…which means pushing the ARC review back to Thursday.

So, I guess I was craving a cutesy contemporary romance read. Or maybe the concept of this book just intrigued me. Or I was just obsessed with this cover and so I had to know if the inside was as wonderful as the outside. Whatever the reasoning, I devoured this book so quickly. Whenever I put it down I just wanted to pick it right back up and keep going.

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Summary

Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

I guess I’ll start off by saying that a lot of this book deals with the LDS church, and I know very little about Mormon views and teachings, so I can’t speak to how factual all the details are in the book. All I know is that in my opinion it felt as if it was handled in a realistic yet respectful manner. Yes, a lot of this book revolves around the LDS not exactly being pro-homosexuality, but I feel as if I understood the positions of the various characters as they discussed this.

I was entranced by Tanner from the very beginning, and I always seem to enjoy books where the main character is writing a book. They just make me happy…though they also remind me that I have been in a horrible writing slump and really should get back to writing soon.

Reading the story from Tanner’s point of view, I loved how he described when he first saw Sebastian; it was exactly the kind of tidal wave of feelings you basically expect from young adults, when everything just feels so new and raw and overwhelming.

But I admit that I found myself a bit perplexed when the book mostly focused on the building relationship of Tann and Seb…at least until near the end, when I realized why. I don’t really think it is a spoiler, but in case you don’t want to know, I’ll change the text color to white for a minute. You’ll have to highlight it if you want to read it. As it turns out, we are reading Tanner’s manuscript, which is why it glosses over those bits. I thought that was a clever way to format this book, so I am definitely a fan.

Now let’s talk about Tanner’s bisexuality. Again, I myself am not bi so I can’t really speak to the authenticity of the representation, but as one of the authors of this book, Lauren, actually is bisexual, I believe it is fine. Besides, Tanner was fond of saying that he was into a person, not their parts.

I just have to talk about one of my favorite aspects of the book: Tanner’s family. His parents are so wonderfully understanding and accepting of his queer identity, and make sure to celebrate that fact, even if now they can only do that within the confines of their home. I also so loved hearing Tanner’s dad talk about his romance with Tanner’s mom all those years ago. Having a nice, healthy, supportive, and stable relationship in a YA novel is fantastic. All so often in YA it seems like the parents are barely present or one or both of them are already gone.

Basically, I adored this book, and I am so glad that it kept calling out to me to read it. I devoured it in only two sittings and I think this will definitely be on my Top Ten Reads of July-Dec 2017.

Where to Buy

You can pick up a copy of Autoboyography from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.

Book Review, Books!, Conventions, Inspiration, Signal Boost, Writing

Review: Writing With Style: An Editor’s Advice for RPG Writers by Ray Vallese

Hey all, Dani here.

Today’s review is an interesting one, because it is a non-fiction book that is actually a grammar/style guide for writing up books for role playing games. Considering that I spend a lot of time with my boyfriend brainstorming and planning out the world and magic and overall story for our campaigns for both D&D 5th Edition and for Pathfinder, this seemed like a book that could be helpful for us.

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Summary

A Style Guide with Style

Writing With Style: An Editor’s Advice for RPG Writers presents 45 pages of concise tips on simple ways to make your roleplaying game writing cleaner and clearer. This guide doesn’t show you how to structure adventures, build stat blocks, or create worlds. Instead, Ray Vallese looks at some of the most common and easily fixable grammar and style issues he’s encountered in over twenty years of editing RPGs.

Rookie freelancers, industry veterans, and self-publishers alike can benefit from this (mostly) jargon-free guide, which addresses such topics as:

Recasting passive voice into active voice (and when you might not want to)
Dangling participles and other misplaced modifiers
Gender-specific and gender-neutral language
Commonly confused words, empty words, and clichés to avoid
Choice and possibility in player character actions
Final things to check before submitting your manuscript
Tighten and polish your text with these quick and easy tips!

My Thoughts

Rating: 4 stars

This book gave me serious flashbacks to school. It was a whole 45 pages of grammar logistics. There were basically four pages alone going over common word swaps and homonyms. You know, the kind of mistakes that won’t be caught by the spelling and grammar check in Microsoft Word because the “misspellings” are actually words as well.

I can see this being a very helpful resource for attempts at writing up any of our stories into an RPG format. And again, as it is only 45 pages, it did not take long at all to read it. Now, I will say that most of the book was not quite as useful for me, especially when it reminded the reader to look at the style guides used by each company you plan to pitch your idea to. Having a degree in literature and also having worked for four years on my university’s newspaper, I am quite familiar with the popular style guides: MLA, APA, Chicago, AP. Also, being a writer and researching traditional publication paths, I already know that you should research a company before approaching them with a query or submission so you know what requirements they have. But for the average person these bits of advice are very helpful.

I actually appreciate the concise nature of this book though. After writing out an entire book or a campaign for an RPG, the last thing a writer would want to do is struggle through a lengthy and/or complicated book on writing and editing for RPGs.

What I think will be useful for me now is a book about the actual writing and plotting of a campaign book, as that seems to be something my boyfriend and I might be interested in attempting soon. So, if you have any recommendations on that topic, feel free to share them with me in the comments below.

Where to Buy

You can pick up a copy of this book from Open Gaming Store or RPG Now.