Sunday, December 5, 2021

Poem: Home

I haven’t been keeping up with my blog lately. I guess that comes with taking the entire summer off. Getting back into the swing of things is hard.

Anyway, poetry is still dear to my heart, so I just had to share another one with you today. I borrowed the prompt from Julia Garcia at Drops of Inspira. This one explores the concept of home. What is home?

For an army brat, home isn’t necessarily one place. It’s not where my parents are from—I never lived there. It’s not the last place I lived because that would ignore all the others. It’s not even my favorite places because that would leave out all the others that made me who I am today.

Home is… well, I think I’ll let the poem explain.

Don't forget to vote on your favorite poem from 2021!


 

Home

 

she sits in the attic collecting dust
                                    and spiders
while my feet are itching without these callouses

how do people do it year after year?
watch the leaves turn
                                    and drop
to stare at the bare wood
that blossoms with green
rich, entrancing full of cicada song
only for the leaves to turn
                                        and drop again

all the world’s a clock—
the month striking twelve,
and I’m still here
strapping on my boots,
knotting the laces while the dog tries to eat them
stay
—she pants—
bleib*

but my heart is yearning to bound up the stairs two at a time
dust off the suitcase
and go

 

***


*bleib—German for “stay.” Since our German Shepherd, Pfeffer, I’ve been teaching our dogs German and English commands.

Let’s chat! What did you think of the poem? What makes home for you?

Similar poems: Blue, Pronunciation, and Homesick

Sunday, November 14, 2021

8 Books I Bought Because of the Cover

I’m not one for impulse buys. I don’t just find a pretty book off the bookstore shelf, snatch it up, and bring it home. Experience has taught me that doesn’t usually end well.

But there have been times when I’ve been browsing the bookstore, the library, or my Goodreads feed, found a pretty cover, and read the blurb as a result. Then, I’ll check it out at the library. Sometimes the library doesn’t have it. Indie books, for example, are hard to come by. But for most books, two out of three times, the library has it. Then, if I really enjoy the story, I’ll buy the book.



Here are just a few pretty books that made their way to my shelves because the cover caught my eye. Books are organized by the authors’ last names.


1)     Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

You know how there isn’t a starfish on the cover except for the word itself? Yeah, that intrigued me, and I wanted to figure out why. Not to mention that font, the purple, galaxy-like backdrop, and the sketch of a jellyfish!

I ended up reading the book at my library, then bought the book a couple years later when I had access to an English bookstore again. I don’t remember the plot very well anymore, so it’s probably time for a reread.



2)     Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

“Take a breath, Thomas. There has always been fear. There will always be fear. It’s up to us to stand tall, even when the fear demands we bow to it.”

I’d seen Brandes’ books on Goodreads before but was never interested in them until Fawkes came out. I particularly enjoy stories that feature masks that hide identities (not necessarily ones that cover one’s mouth), even though masquerade balls are always a bad idea for characters. It’s like they’re asking for trouble! Even though there are no masquerades in this story, the plot is even better than the cover.

I listened to the audiobook from my library first, and then a dear friend bought me the book (thanks again, Faith!). But it totally counts for this list.



3)     A Conspiracy of Stars by Olivia A. Cole

Look at that pretty little plant on the cover! It’s a sci-fi book, so it left me wondering if it was a flower or just some sort of spore. That and the backdrop is black, so it really stands out.

I read the book at my library first, and while the story wasn’t so much about plants as it was about nature and animals, it was really fascinating. So much so, I ordered the book online rather than wait to find an English bookstore.


4)     The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

“I hope you will find the cracks in the world and wedge them wider, so the light of other suns shines through; I hope you will keep the world unruly, messy, full of strange magics; I hope you will run through every open Door and tell stories when you return.”

Look at all those different fonts! Is the cover busy? Yes. Is it pretty? You bet. Did I enjoy the book even more? Absolutely! The cover actually reflects how there’s a lot going on in the book and all the different worlds featured within, and I enjoyed every page.

I read this one at my local library than bought it at the bookstore within the next week.


5)     All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

I bought this one on a whim when I was visiting London with a friend. It had been on my list for a bit, and the cover looked intriguing. You know, light, fluffy. Yeah, no, the book isn’t fluffy at all. It ripped my heart out. Thanks a lot. It’s one of those sad contemporary ones, but it’s still so, so good.

When the Netflix adaptation came out, I forced my family to watch it with me. They cried.


6)     The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan

“Once upon a time we were the standard colors of a rainbow, cheery and certain of ourselves. At some point, we all began to stumble into the in-betweens, the murky colors made dark and complicated by resentment and quiet anger.  At some point, my mother slid so off track she sank into hues of gray, a world drawn only in shadows.”

The colors on the cover are both striking and beautiful, quite like the story itself. I also like the way the text bends with the shape of the bird. That and the story itself is enchanting yet heartbreaking. I read it at the library, then bought the book. Now it’s probably time for a reread.


7)     Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

“I’m not a kid. I'M A SHARK!”

I first saw this one at my library and picked it up on a whim. The story is just as fun as the art. It follows some of my favorite tropes and one of my favorite themes, “What makes a monster or a villain?”

Of course, I bought the book as soon as I could, and now it’s one of my go-to books when I want something particularly fun.



8)     The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi

“A good teacher is not one who never doubts, but rather one who strives to keep on learning despite the doubts in her mind.”

Look at that cover! Isn’t it pretty?! The font is classical fantasy, the colors are pleasing, and I particularly like the way the Royal Beast portrayed on the cover includes natural elements, adding to their mysterious nature. And let’s not forget Elin standing there with her harp.

To be more accurate, I spotted its sequel The Beast Warrior first. The booksellers had the cover turned to face browsers like myself, and long story short, the method worked. I’m waiting until The Beast Warrior comes out in paperback before I get my copy. It should be out by now! *stares longingly at bookshelf*

 

There you have it! Just a few books I’d recommend having read them and admired their covers.

 

Let’s chat! What are some books with pretty covers that you enjoy? Do you impulse buy books? Why/why not?

 

***

 

Similar posts: 7 More of my Go-To Authors; Don’t Judge a Book by Its Author, or Should You?; and 5 Books with Surprising Plot Twists

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Poem: Circuit Board Quilt

Talking about one’s thought process is always interesting. Some people process ideas by talking through them, others by quiet contemplation. Sometimes I’m a little bit of both. I’ll talk through a plot point when I’m stuck, but more often, I’ll mull it over to myself.

People often refer to me as a quiet person. I remember back in my undergrad, during my senior year, I gave a presentation to a class, and afterward my professor told me that was the most she had heard me speak during my entire time at college. Oh yeah, she was also my advisor. It surprised me because I saw my thoughts as being incredibly loud and had forgotten that I’m the only one who processes them.

I didn’t really discuss things in class, until I went on to study my masters. Now I’m a teacher, and I have quiet students who don’t want to break out of their shell. Here’s to the quiet thinkers.


  

Circuit Board Quilt

 

stop

i can’t get it to stop

these pulses that go on

and on like a circuit board

that’s never switched off

 

how do all the wires work?

amazing that somebody came up with them

and could store ideas on something so small,

the accumulation of technology

built up over time

history

 

that reminds me i need to remember to make a lesson plan

and maybe eat lunch before 3pm

for a change

 

change—it’s easier to do the math in my head

when i’m thinking of money,

but honestly i miss european currency

where it wasn’t all quarters

and they actually had a twenty-cent piece,

and another coin for a pound or two euro

 

or maybe my mind

is more like a quilt

with threads intertwined

one on top of another

                        on top of another

until I can’t see the pattern

but it’s as if everything is connected

it’s been a while since i made my first and only quilt

maybe i should pick up sewing again

 

i’ve heard it said

that a man’s mind holds compartments,

boxes if you will,

one of which contains nothing—

the nothing box—

where they simply exist

a man’s mind, who am I kidding?

my sister says she has one, a nothing box

 

but in my mind,

where would all the energy go?

 

i’ve learned to deal

with long stretches of no activity

boredom some might call it—

i’d be lying if I didn’t agree—

but i’ve found a way to dream up stories

while sorting shelves,

listening to music and humming along,

all the while ready to shuffle the cards

mid-song to have a conversation instead

 

i can pick up where i left off

            later

halfway through a stich

or maybe i’ll use my stitch remover—humility tool—

and start something altogether new

 

***

 

Let’s chat! What did you think of the poem? What’s your thought process like?

Similar posts: Do Not Dissect This Poem, Writing a Poem, and Thoughts of Place


Sunday, October 31, 2021

Book Review: Raybearer

‘Uniformity is not unity. Silence is not peace.’
 
Wow, just smack society in the face, why don’t you? Too often we see globalism’s attempt to erase culture in the name of peace. I think we need to read that again: “‘Uniformity is not unity. Silence is not peace.’

 
Book: Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
Genre: Young adult fantasy
My rating: 4/5 stars
Mini description: courage in the face of confusion
 
For someone who has often struggled to get into young adult fantasy, I really enjoyed this one! The main reason I struggle with YA fantasy is because it’s often lackluster in comparison to the epic worlds and characters you see in adult fantasy. Not so with this book.

I also finished the story in about a week, which is refreshing since I didn’t had a lot of time to read at the time I was reading the book, but I didn’t want to put this one down!
Though there were a couple of times where I had a hard time connecting with Tarisai, the main character, the writing style was really good. The details were spectacular without being overwhelming, as is common with adult fantasy.

The writing style takes an untraditional approach, though the trend is becoming more common, and covers several different years of Tarisai’s life. It really showed how she grew over time, going from being na├»ve and wanting to please those around her to being well researched and determined to stand up for what she believes is right, even when it's not always clear.

Also, can we talk about the emphasis on culture and the dangers of continent-wide conformity? Throughout the story, readers get a taste of the disunity in an empire, but the emperor and his council keep trying to fix it in all the wrong ways, which is frustrating but typical of governments.

I enjoyed the book so much, I went out and bought a copy of my own. Now I have a wait a whole year before the sequel’s paperback edition comes out… But that doesn’t stop me from borrowing the sequel from the library!

In all, I gave Raybearer 4/5 stars for excellent themes and character development albeit some reader disconnect. I would recommend the story to anybody interested in YA fantasy. I was still in the beginning of the story when I noticed that there's going to be a sequel, and I got really excited. Even once I reached the end, I have similar sentiments.
 
Interested in the book? Have you read it yet? You might also enjoy these fantasy novels: Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger, Fawkes by Nadine Brandes, The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrowand, and The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi.
 
Let’s chat! Have you read Raybearer yet, or has it made it to your TBR? What are some of your favorite YA fantasies?
 
***
 

Similar book reviews: Elatsoe, The Ten Thousand Doors of January, and Fawkes


Sunday, October 17, 2021

Finding the Best Writing Method

The word writing itself is a little outdated. Or shall I say generalized? Yeah, that sounds better. After all, many different forms of writing don’t involve the physical act itself. Sometimes it’s typing. Sometimes it’s speaking aloud and allowing a device to type for you. Sometimes, yes, it is writing by hand.

In other words, writing refers not so much to the act of putting pen to paper but the creation of words, whether it be an essay, blog post, or story. But which is the best method of creating?


 

Handwriting

Once upon a time, I read somewhere that the best way to write a novel is to write it all out by hand, then type it up and make corrections from there. So I tried and failed. Miserably. I got halfway through the book before I couldn’t take it anymore. My brain works faster than my hand, and I need all ten fingers to type. What’s more, the story stunk, so I ended up scrapping the whole thing.

Besides, there’s no Ctrl + f (find) in something that’s handwritten! How am I supposed to find a certain scene or name if I can’t remember where it is? At least I don’t need to worry about Ctrl + s (save)…

I also keep one of those little notebooks in my purse because somebody said you should write down ideas as they come to you. I never do. Sure, I may pull it out sometimes when I’m bored, but I don’t really use it to outline or keep track of quotes or anything useful.

Every now and then, if I’m out and feel the urge to write, I may use a scrap of paper to start a scene, but that’s no longer my primary method anymore. I like to keep a journal in a physical book, but that’s about it.

 

Google docs

Whenever I have a scene that I want to jot down really quick, I prefer to use Google docs on my phone. That way I can access it anywhere, and I don’t have to worry about tracking down a random piece of paper. Besides, it’s a little easier to copy and paste words than it is to type each and every one.

The last time I was traveling, I had a lot of fun writing on a Google doc because I didn’t bring my computer. Besides, I was writing poetry, so I didn’t have to worry about the paragraphs looking huge on my screen.



Microsoft Word

Ah, my favorite method of all! Complete with the ability to type with all ten fingers. Ctrl+f and Ctrl+s. The ability to create chapters and manipulate fonts. Copy and paste. Word counts. Pages. Italics. Chapter formatting. You name it!

Now, I have incorporated some methods from other pieces of unhelpful advice. Like that type up the second draft bit? Yep, I rewrite everything when transitioning from draft 1 to draft 2 instead of simply copy and pasting it so that I can catch more mistakes while typing everything out rather than reading over it.

Blogging is slightly different, though. I’ll type everything up on a Word doc, copy and paste it on Blogger, then proofread it from there.

 

Other methods

4theWords/Wattpad/Scrivener

There’s plenty of online resources for writers, I’m just cheap and never invest in any of the paid options. 4theWords is a fun one where you can level up your character by defeating monsters by typing a certain number of words in a certain amount of time. I enjoyed using it during NaNoWriMo. The only thing is, I’m that kind of person who would rather study and tame a monster rather than kill it. What is it with our world and killing things?

Wattpad and Scrivener are also options I’ve heard of, but I’ve never tried writing on those sites.

 

Dictation

There are also options where you can say the story aloud and allow a computer program to type it up for you. My sister uses an app on her phone for that method, though I’ve never tried it myself.

 

Typewriter

You know that stereotype where the writer is so obsessed with the aesthetic of writing that they go out and buy a typewriter? Yeah, no, I couldn’t do that. I like my backspace key, thank you very much, and used it maybe 500 times writing this stupid paragraph.

 

The Best Method

You may ask, What is the best method? I would say, The one that works best for you at the time. That method may change from story to story or even from time to time within the same story, and that’s where trial and error come into play. For me, it’s Word, but that may change.

 

Let’s chat! What’s your favorite writing method? Am I missing any? Does your writing process change, or do you have a tried and true method?

 

***

 

Similar posts: 5 Reasons to Attend WriteOnCon, How to Balance Multiple Writing Projects, and My Process for Writing Poetry

Sunday, October 10, 2021

7 More of my Go-To Authors

Do you ever have a certain mood you want to read a book in, so you pick a particular author? I know I do. For example, if I want to read a story with a curios twist on a common trope, I’ll pick Neil Gaiman. Or maybe I’m looking for compelling characters and unpredictable plot twists: Brandon Sanderson. This method has also led me to know which authors I avoid, but today I’d like to focus on the ones whose works I enjoy.

Authors are organized by last name.

 


1. Megan Bannen


Does it count if you’ve only read one of their books but you liked it so much you can’t wait to read the next one even though it’s not a sequel? Eh, who cares. It’s my blog post. I particularly enjoyed her debut, The Bird and the Blade, so much so, that I eagerly awaited her latest book Soulswift. My library finally bought a copy, and I’m currently reading it!


2.   Susanna Clarke


She only has three books out. Who am I kidding? Only three books?! That’s so cool!!! I’ve enjoyed the ones I’ve read so far. I read her beast-of-a-book Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell back when I was living in England, and I particularly liked the way Clarke connected the fantasy elements with the British culture.

The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories was also quite entertaining, especially the one that took place in the world of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. Crossovers, anybody? Yes, please! I haven’t seen many crossovers outside of graphic novels, so this was a pleasant surprise.

I look forward to reading her latest book, Piranse.


3.   C. G. Drews


I first started following Drews on her blog where she writes as Paper Fury. One of the ways I like to determine if a book is worth reading is by reading her reviews. They’re great.

So are her books, of course! A Thousand Perfect Notes stole my heart with its characters, and her second book The Boy Who Steals Houses was even better. Though they took a while to release in the US (they’re finally here!), I liked to buy them online at Book Depository.

When will the publishing industry give us another one of her books? I know she’s written some! I know you can’t rush publishing, but I can dream.


4.   Neil Gaiman


I know, I know. I’ve only read three of his books. How could I possibly say he’s one of my go-to authors? I highly recommend his speech “Make Good Art.”

Though I wasn’t a particular fan of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, I found Norse Mythology to be quite fascinating. Of course, I’m slightly obsessed with Stardust, especially when it’s the audiobook read by the author.


5.   Hannah Heath


It’s not a proper list if I don’t list an indie author. Heath is one of my go-to indie authors because she always includes some sort of disability representation in her stories. That and she writes fantasy and sci-fi, so of course that’s a plus! Her story “Vengence Hunter” made me hate vampire stories less because she puts an interesting twist on the trope. Her story “So I Accidentally Killed the Chosen One” on Wattpad is quite comical. So far, I think “This Pain Inside” from the anthology Strange Waters, is one of my favorites. I look forward to her next piece.


6.   Jack London


As a kid, I used to pick up a lot of animal stories, and I used to listen to the audiobook of White Fang a lot. When I reread the book as an adult, I remembered why I enjoyed the story so much. Of course, his others books and stories can be good too, though I’ve never particularly cared for Call of the Wild. It has been a while since I’ve read it, though.

I particularly like how his stories include the beauties and wonder of nature and humankind contrasted with its deadly nature. No romanticism here.


7.   J. R. R. Tolkien


When I was a kid, my dad once read The Hobbit to my brother and me. Of course, I loved it! I can’t say I’ve read everything by Tolkien, but I grew up enjoying Lord of the Rings movie marathons, and I later dove into the books.

The last time I attempted to read The Silmarillion was when I was studying English lit. So yeah, it’s been a while. I’ll have to give the book another try at some point.

 

Let’s chat! Who are some of your go-to authors? Have you read any books by the ones I’ve mentioned?

***

Similar posts: Don’t Judge a Book by its Author, or Should You?; 7 of my Go-To Authors; and Let’s Agree to Disagree: Reader vs. Author Opinion

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Poem: Reading Glasses

Since I haven’t had a lot of time to write lately, I’ll be sharing an older poem.

Yes, my style may change over time, but I like to think that even the older ones can be fun sometimes. Here’s one of my favorites from a creative writing course in college. I was once a proud reader who didn’t need glasses to read. That is until I read too much…


 

Reading Glasses

Two owlets perch on a wing.

Hooked beaks on plump fools

stuffed with heaps of mice.

 

Two boxes crammed

with clocks and calendars

and leaves to the brim.

 

Two attic windows side by side,

overlooking an owl’s nest,

boxes stacked to the sills. Here

until the house burns.*

 

***

 

Let’s chat! What did you think of the poem? Any fellow readers out there who wear glasses?

*The final sentence sometimes gets left out because it changes the entire mood of the poem. Personally, I like it because it adds a touch of mortality to what would otherwise be a lasting building.

Similar posts: Do Not Dissect This Poem, Origins, and Pine Trees