Sunday, August 16, 2020

Dandelion Symphony Cover Reveal!

I have some exciting news! A couple months ago, I announced my next book, a poetry collection named Dandelion Symphony. Today, I am proud to present you with the cover reveal and official release date!

*throws confetti*
*chokes on confetti*
*runs from people who think I might be sick*

A couple of months ago, when I was initially looking for an artist for sketches within the book, somebody recommended I check out Fiverr. It turned out to be a great resource, and that’s also where I found my cover designer!

A couple months ago, my grandparents on my dad’s side came down to visit. My grandma has stage 4 cancer, and the doctors gave her a year to live last summer. Not having much to do since everything was closed, she told me stories about her childhood and her favorite jobs over the course of her life.

Then I read her my poetry collection all the while trying to figure out a name. I already liked dandelions, since they’re the symbol for military brats like myself, but I couldn’t figure out what to put with it. Until my grandma suggested something to do with a symphony. Dandelion Symphony. It was perfect!

More recently, I had the cover commissioned. This is the result:

… pages of this life— 
these books take root 
in the otherwise hardened patio of the mind.

What does it mean to be from multiple places? How does perspective change over time? What happens when a bookworm enjoys the outdoors? How does a situational introvert handle interaction with other people? This collection of poems is an exploration of the life of an army brat living in Europe. From studying abroad in England and travelling in Italy to living and working in Germany, these poems explore settings both extraordinary and ordinary alike.

Dandelion Symphony will be available on Friday, September 24, 2020! Soon you will be able to pre-order it on Amazon (e-book only) and Barnes & Noble (e-book only). I will keep you posted when the print edition is available to order. For now, you can add it on Goodreads!

I also plan on doing a mini blog tour the week it comes out, which I’ll be posting more details on soon. Happy reading!


Let’s chat! Have you added Dandelion Symphony to your TBR yet? What’s your favorite poem? How about poetry collection?

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Are Book Dragons a Dying Breed?

At work the other day, I was talking with some of my coworkers about the Harry Potter release parties. As a kid, I wasn’t allowed to read the books, and I’d never gone to a release party for even the popular series that I had read, like the Eragon books. Release parties sounded exciting, and I remarked how I wish I had been to one.

“People just don’t read books anymore,” my coworker said.

To which I frowned. “Many people,” I corrected. “Some still read.”

Honestly, I’ve seen both sides. For a couple of months, I worked as a substitute teacher, and I watched several kids who absolutely abhorred reading. When they had to read a chapter for class, they complained through the whole thing or said that its contents offended them or just didn’t read at all. I’m sure if I spent more time substituting, I might have seen more eager readers.

On the other hand, at my current job, which combines education and fun outside of an academic setting, I’ve seen plenty of young adult readers. I’ve seen kids read older books like The Hobbit and Ender’s Game and even the recent releases like The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. I’ve talked with kids about how much time they spent at their local library, something I actually missed out on as a kid, which was mainly my socially awkward fault because I didn’t know how to ask for help.

Falling Fandoms

Humans like to congregate. If you don’t believe me, try putting a group of children in a room and telling them to keep six feet apart. The same goes for readers. Once two of them find that they both enjoyed the same story, nobody can get them to shut up.

Fandoms can be a pretty big deal, though not all readers get into them. From fanart to fan merch to events, readers can get just as enthusiastic about their fandoms as some do their sports.

However, it does seem like it’s been awhile since a YA fandom was on the rise. Right now, you have Game of Thrones or The Witcher (neither of which I would see myself getting into), but the popular books for young adults and kids aren’t discussed as much, except maybe as a means for political debate, like The Hate U Give. Which is actually kind of infuriating. Can’t young adults have their stories without it being torn apart by jaded adults?

Lucy Pevensie: I wish you’d all stop talking like grown-ups.
Trumpkin the dwarf: I… am a grown-up.
Prince Caspian, film adaptation

Sure, fandoms still exist, like The Chronicles of Narnia and The Hunger Games, Percy Jackson and Harry Potter, but some of them aren’t doing as well as others. The Chronicles of Narnia may never be a complete film series, especially now that the actor for Eustace from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (book 3) is too old to play in The Silver Chair (book 4).

Not to mention whatever nosedive the Harry Potter fandom took lately. I don’t really follow news when it comes to authors, despite being an author, because I think it’s important to separate the stories from the writer. Yes, I believe in supporting present-day authors by buying their books, but I don’t have to agree with all of their beliefs or lifestyles. But that’s not something all readers can do, which is evident by the withdrawal from the Harry Potter fandom.

The Rise of Technology

Technology plays a big part in our world. Sometimes it can be a tool to encourage readers, especially when it comes to the accessibility of e-books, but it can be a distraction as well. Personally, I’ve been having a really hard time with e-books lately, even with authors whose work I typically devour. It might have something to do with no longer owning an e-reader, but that’s not all. On days when I come home tired from work, my first instinct is not to read but rather to do something that requires less energy, like watch a show or play a video game.

I’m not the only one. Technology can be a form of entertainment for many, which isn’t a bad thing as a whole. But in general, you’re more likely to hear a lot about a generation of gamers, not so much readers. In fact, readers are viewed as being more elite, which isn’t so good for a person’s pride when they consider themselves so much better than non-readers.

Finding Your Niche

My current workplace comprises a smaller part of the public, usually those who tend to prefer intellectual and/or nerdy topics, those who enjoy topics involved with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics). So a lot of the teens and preteens who come through tend to like nerdy topics already. Sure, not all of them may be avid readers, but some of them turn out to be, even if I didn’t peg them as readers at first glance. I even met a fellow writer once, which was awesome of course.

While I met one kid who said they read The Lord of the Rings in a week, I also met a kid who said they didn’t like reading but they were really into comics and graphic novels because of all the art. I did my best to encourage them, saying how I like reading graphic novels and want to read more and that they totally count as reading.

My little sister doesn’t always get into YA like I do, but she’s obsessed with fanfiction. It’s taken me a while to admit it, but sure, Wattpad counts as reading too. Besides, plenty of authors have written their books on sites like that and gone on to traditionally publish it elsewhere.

My brother, on the other hand, doesn’t get into fiction like I do, though he will occasionally pick up historical fiction. He prefers history books—the big ones and the smaller ones that get into the nitty gritty details. Back when I was first discovering what an amazing resource the library was, I used to drag him along, and he has thanked me countless times for introducing him to the place.

I am a firm believer that people who “don’t like to read” simply haven’t found their niche. Just because somebody doesn’t enjoy reading Shakespeare doesn’t mean they don’t like reading (Seriously, though. Shakespeare was a playwright. His works weren’t meant to be read). Now I haven’t studied statistics (which can easily be manipulated by the way), and I do believe that overall, the world-wide book industry isn’t doing as well as it once was.

Yet as long as we encourage new people to pursue the books that they like, readers aren’t going away anytime soon.

“Reader’s Bill of Rights
1. The right to not read
2. The right to skip pages
3. The right to not finish
4. The right to reread
5. The right to read anything
6. The right to escapism
7. The right to read anywhere
8. The right to browse
9. The right to read out loud
10. The right to not defend your tastes”
― Daniel Pennac

Let’s chat! What’s your take on the survival of avid readers? What’s your reading niche? How many book dragons have you encountered in the wild?


Sunday, August 2, 2020

Poem: [Like fireflies in the night]

At work a couple weeks ago, I heard about the comet NEOWISE. Discovered back in March, this beauty will not pass within visible range for the next 6,800 years. While I could just use my time machine to jump ahead to the next sighting, I thought I’d try to spot it before it went away this time.

Unfortunately, the cloud cover made it almost impossible. For days on end, it we had thunderstorms and cloud cover that rolled in at night. It wasn’t until the last day, July 23, that I saw a break in the clouds around the Northwest where Ursa Major and its more well-known asterism, the Big Dipper, were supposed to show up. I used a compass and a star app. Thank God for modern technology!

I set up my telescope, and I waited. The sun set trailing brilliant colors on the remaining clouds, and I waited some more. I waited for the stars to come out, getting distracted by the occasional blink of fireflies. Then I had to reposition the telescope on the slope of the yard and hope I didn’t accidentally fall off the cliff.

When I couldn’t figure out which point of light was the comet—I couldn’t see a star with a tail—I started pointing the telescope at different stars to the left of the Big Dipper, hoping one was actually the comet. That’s when I found it. Now, the light pollution and humidity didn’t give me a great view. It looked more like a yellow star that was moving often enough that I had to adjust the telescope.

In the end, I got to see the comet, and the night inspired me to write a poem, even if the poem has little to do with comets.

[Like fireflies in the night]

Like fireflies in the night,
I watch the sparks burn
and blink out,
beneath the boughs.

I wish I could feel
but my fingertips are numb
from this
and all I hear
are the screams
of cicadas.

Set the pyre ablaze
until all I hear
is the roar
of the flames licking
                                                silver stars
until the ashes dance away
like fireflies in the night.


Let’s chat! What did you think of the poem? What are you passionate about?