Sunday, January 27, 2019

Book Review of Background Noise: Poems, Vignettes and Word Explosions

“Remember when we heard the thunder
Saw the light that made us wonder
As the rain fell in the night
The years have passed ̶ the tender aching
Pages turned ̶ memories fading
As the rain fell into the night”

—excerpt from “Seasons of Paper”

There’s something about some poems that beg to be read aloud. I came across several such poems in Background Noise and just had to share them with the nearest family member. Reading poems aloud is such fun!

Book: Background Noise: Poems, Vignettes and Word Explosions by Jerry Danielsen
Genre: Poetry, Nonfiction
My rating: 4/5 stars
One-word description: Thought-provoking

I particularly enjoyed the poems that were on social commentary, from the longing for deeper relationships in “Salt and Chocolate” to the overabundance in consumerism reflected in “Marketing to Death” and “iWant”. The first poem made me think about my own blog and the way I probably have way too many links that people don’t bother with. What if we shared writing for the sake of writing instead of for the sake of views?

“It’s all good at

“Click here to find
More places to click on
And get a change
For the possibility
Of more clicking”

—excerpt from “Marketing to Death”

My main complaint, however, was that after a while, some of the poems felt a little too on the critical side, particularly when he wrote, “Maybe somebody / will buy this book”. As a writer, I completely understand the feelings of longing for one’s voice to be heard. But as a reader, I felt a little indignant.

In the end, the poems made me think a lot. Even as I typed this review on my laptop, my mom begged me to go on a walk with her, so I set the review aside and left. After all, what good is reading poems that make you think about technology if you simply embrace it? What good is reading books about life if we don’t live it?

In all, I gave Background Noise 4/5 stars for some excellent, thought-provoking poems yet some repetitively critical ones. I would recommend the book to readers of poetry, and I will be keeping an eye out for more of Danielsen’s work.

Let’s chat! Read any good poetry lately? Has Background Noise made it to your To-Be-Read list yet? What’s your take on the pervasiveness of technology in our culture today?


More clicking here (similar book reviews): Audacity and Full Cicada Moon

Sunday, January 20, 2019

You Don't Need a Typewriter to be a Writer

Sometimes impostor syndrome creeps up on me and punches me in the gut. To clarify, impostor syndrome is the feeling of being a fraud, of being unworthy to claim a certain title, or of being ahead for no reason at all. For writing in particular, it can take different forms. Here are just a few lies that impostor syndrome can take…

I’m only an aspiring writer because I haven’t published anything yet. 
I’m not a writer because I don’t write every day.
I’m not a real author because I’ve only indie published.
I’m not a successful author because I didn’t achieve best seller status by age twenty.
I’m not a good writer because I don’t handwrite everything.
I’m not an eccentric writer because, like the kid in the third row, I didn’t bring my typewriter to take notes on the lecture. (Yes, this one happened once. Life is weird. I love it!)

Not. Not. Not. Not. Not. Unless we’re writing for sailors, sewers, horseback riders, desperate Baudelaires, or whoever else needs knots, can we please just agree to stop dragging ourselves down? This post is for my fellow writers who struggle with impostor syndrome. Caution: inspiration and satire lie ahead.

Find what works for you.

Last year in particular, I set out to write another novel. No surprise there. But I thought, “I’m going to be a real writer this year and handwrite the whole thing. I don’t need to rely on my computer or typing skills when I have the old pen and paper, the tools of a real writer.” So I grabbed one of my empty notebooks, got well over halfway through and… I still haven’t finished the thing.

Actually, as I type this post, I plan to pick up writing the novel where I left off, but on my computer instead. While I claimed my main motivation while handwriting the book was so that I could type it up again word for word (which might help me catch more mistakes) a small part of me actually wanted to have handwritten an entire book. And I’m not saying I never will. It’s just not working for me at this time.

When it comes to writing, find what works for you.

I like to experiment. It took me several years to find out what type of novel outline I like, and this was from taking some advice and coming up with techniques of my own.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” —Albert Einstein

Claim the title.

Whether you’re published or not, claim your title. I’ve published before, but I still like to call myself a writer. It’s more fun.

A couple years ago, a dear friend of mine once told me that because she didn’t write as much as I did, she wasn’t a writer. Never mind we took a creative writing class together, she has a blog of her own, and we have a Google doc dedicated to editing each other’s recent work. More recently, she wrote in a post how she’s finally claimed the title of writer.

Say it loud, and say it proud. I like to picture myself like Hiccup right after he took down Toothless and is trying to convince the dragon and himself that he’s a Viking. Except instead of Viking I say writer. (Unless of course, you are a Viking, in which case you’re probably also a time traveler. Would you mind giving me a ride back to 1942?)

I am a writer!

Write and publish in your own time.

Ever since the second grade, I knew I wanted to be an author. When I was twelve, I first heard about the success of Christopher Paolini, who wrote Eragon when he was fifteen, published when he was twenty, and quickly achieved best-seller status. So I set out to write and publish just like that.

Life, however, turned out differently. Though I finished my first novel-length story when I was twelve and continued to write many subsequent stories, I didn’t publish anything of novel length until I was twenty-two. And that was a completely different work than my first piece. Who knows if any of my published stories will achieve best-seller status?

I know I’m probably not the best example, so I’ll mention J. R. R. Tolkien as well. He didn’t publish The Hobbit until he was 45, and many of his protagonists are in their fifties or older.

You don’t need to handwrite a book with a regular pen or a quill pen to be a real writer. You can just write. You don’t have to use NaNoWriMo as motivation to finish your novel. Just finish it. You don’t have to publish before age twenty to be successful. Publish when you can. But if you do any of those things, that’s great too!

Let’s chat! Do you ever struggle with impostor syndrome? What are some of the ways you get past it?


Literary references: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Christopher Paolini’s Eragon, and J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit

Film references: How to Train Your Dragon

Sunday, January 13, 2019

2019 Reading Resolution

Last year, instead of setting my typical Goodreads goal of 52 or 100 books, I decided to read types of books. For example, I chose categories I enjoy but might not necessarily pick up on a whim, like classics or rereads. And I had so much fun! It was a challenge, with a bit of the pressure I felt when I studied for my undergrad but with the freedom to stop reading a particular book or read more in a certain category as I saw fit.

This year, I’ll be taking a similar approach, with some changes of course, as I learned a lot from 2018. The books listed are just a few I want to read, though it’s not guaranteed that I will read those ones specifically. Without further ado, here are the types of books I plan on reading!

1 Book 700+ Pages

1,000 pages feels like too much right now, and I totally didn’t read a 1,000-page book in 2018 like I had planned. Whoops…

What are some books on my TBR that fit the criteria?

Middlemarch by George Elliot—an American classic. I’ve had this one on my shelf for a while now, since I bought a George Elliot collection during my undergrad. I enjoyed Silas Marner, and I’m curious about this one.

The Betrothed by Allesandro Manzoni—an Italian classic. Can’t remember what it’s about, but it’s on my list. I’m so good at this…

2 Novels that were Adapted into Movies

I may be from a family of avid movie fans, but I lean more toward the books. Though I will watch movies to spend time with my family members, have something to talk about, and see characters brought to life on screen (see Why This Bookworm Gets Excited about Book-to-Movie Adaptations). Why wouldn’t I want to read more books adapted into films?

What am I most looking forward to reading?

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery—Does this one need an explanation? Anne of Green Gables is an excellent book, film, and audio drama. I’m a little skeptical about the latest Netflix series having heard mixed reviews, but I look forward to the next book!

The Curse of Capistrano by Johnston McCulley—The original story of Zorro. Apparently, it’s a collection of short stories!

3 Classics

Once again, contemporary books are great, but so are classics. I need to read more of them than I do.

What’s on my list?

1984 by George Orwell—This one has been on my list forever. Okay, not forever. Since 2015.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank—How have I not read this yet? Yep, I’m still living under a rock.

5 Books I Own

I will probably read more, but five seems like a good place to start. I’m also not going to limit myself to books I haven’t read. Rereads are perfectly fine and deserve attention too (see The Joys of Rereading).

What’s on my shelf?

The Best of Jack London—As I kid, I was obsessed with the audio book of White Fang, so it’s no surprise I bought a collection later on. I just haven’t read them all yet.

5 Books Published in 2019

As a reader, I’m constantly distracted by all the shiny new books. As a writer, I call it a strategy to find out what’s been released recently, how it affects the reading collective, and whether or not I like it. That and I like the pretty new covers.

What am I most looking forward to this year?

An Anatomy of Beasts (Faloiv, book 2) by Olivia A. Cole—Have I not ranted enough about how much I enjoyed A Conspiracy of Stars? (See book review). I can’t wait to read the next book. I’d pre-order it, but I have no idea where I’ll be living when it comes out.

The Boy Who Steals Houses by C. G. Drews—From one of my favorite bloggers comes yet another contemporary YA novel! I thoroughly enjoyed A Thousand Perfect Notes (see book review), and I’m eager to see what Drews has written in her next book.

The Clockwork Ghost (York, book 2) by Laura Ruby—I was so curious when I saw The Shadow Cipher (York, book 1) at my library that I just scooped it up. But I’m still waiting for a release date for book 2. I sure hope it comes out before I move…

1 Book Published Before 1800

Out with the new and in with the old. Wait…

There is a plethora of books published before 1800 that I have yet to read.
What’s on my list?

The Faerie Queene, Book 2 by Edmund Spenser—Again, I haven’t read this one yet. I wrote my dissertation on Book 1, but why haven’t I picked up Book 2? Okay, I have technically picked it up. My copy’s an anthology.

3 Nonfiction Books

I’m going to broaden this one to include collections of poems, even though poetry can sometimes be fictional. I also learned that I tend to shy away from longer books when it comes to nonfiction, probably because I’m still learning what I like in the genre.

What am I most interested in reading?

God in the Dock by C. S. Lewis—When I visited Oxford on the C. S. Lewis trip, we read one of the essays, and I want to read more.

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass—This is a book I own and have read sections of before, but I’d like to delve into the whole thing.

The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho—My mom and I are planning on hiking the El Camino trail across Spain this spring. What better way to prepare than to read a book about it?

Total goal: 20 Types of Books

I’ll probably read more, but hey, this’ll be fun!


Let’s chat! What are you planning on reading in 2019? Do you set goals for yourself? What new releases are you looking forward to?

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Poem: The First Snow (Audio)

Welcome to the new face of Word Storm!

After I finished my MBA, I did some tweaking, and I commissioned a lovely graphic artist to design a new cover photo because dragons and tea, travel and thunderstorms. ISN’T IT PRETTY!? Thanks again, Rowa!

But I don’t just have a new cover photo for you. I also spent a good deal of time in December recording the published poems and the Reader’s Choice from 2018, and I’ll be doing some more recordings this year as well. Poetry isn’t just meant to be read on a computer screen, but it’s also meant to be read and shared aloud.

The First Snow

The first snow is fleeting,
fluttering one moment and
                                                melted the next—
but to the driver going to work, she is a blinding sleet,
cascading, bottling up your light and tossing it back—
to the biker heading home, she is the needles,
while the flesh is the pincushion and throw.

The second snow is silent,
drifting down in spurts
                                                taking turns with the sun—
but to the magpie fighting the wind, she is a rip current,
a tether caught on feathers, holding back branches—
to the red rooftops sloping here, she is but a coat,
taken off and folded up indoors.

The third snow is loud,
crackling thunder
                                                howling wind—
but to the mother waiting for a call, she is but a sound
of wailing, complaining, she’s heard it all before—
to the child waiting for a taste of dusted sugar,
she is a touch of dreams, sleigh bells, and numb fingers.


For more audio poetry, check out my Poetry page and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel!

Let’s chat! What do you think of the new design? Enjoy the audio additions? What did you think of this poem?

Similar poems: Biking to Work, Snowfell, and In Season