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  1. Yesterday
  2. Reesha

    Remember Good Things

    Hi friends. Spring and summer are coming and leaving at the same time, getting tangled up in each other! One day it’s almost 80ºF, the next it’s rainy and dropped to 37ºF. But my favorite thing about this time of year is the tree in our front yard. I’m not even sure what kind of Maple it is, but it has these gorgeous dark red leaves. Before the buds break open, they look like flowers. And when they finally do open up, the tiny leaves unfolding look like butterfly wings fresh out of cocoons, wet and wrinkled, hanging out and waiting to dry. In the evening, right when I usually cook dinner, the sun shines into our kitchen and I can see it shining through the leaves, making them turn bright burgundy and it takes my breath away every time. It’s not because I’m surprised to see it. The tree is always there. It’s because I tend to forget what that moment is like. Experiencing it is different than remembering the moment. I recently had that experience with my own writing. I just finished editing the final pass of Memory Aether (woohoo!), and I was surprised. I had forgotten what reading the ending was like. Even though I’ve read it over and over again countless times, there it was again, as satisfying to me as ever. It is so easy to forget the good things we experience. Can you try something with me to help mitigate this? Post a comment below about some good moment or experience you had this past month. Something that you want to remember the next time I post to this blog. I’ll remind you. Then we can all take a bit of time to appreciate what our memories sometimes hide from us. View article on original site
  3. Last week
  4. TheRealLindsey

    Ask the Author – Lauren Garcia Part 1

    Uh oh! Looks like you’re not a member yet! Check out our membership options to get access to our exclusive content. Already a member? Click here to sign in. The post Ask the Author – Lauren Garcia Part 1 appeared first on F-BOM. View the full article
  5. TheRealLindsey

    Ask the Author – Lauren Garcia Part 1

    Uh oh! Looks like you’re not a member yet! Check out our membership options to get access to our exclusive content. Already a member? Click here to sign in. The post Ask the Author – Lauren Garcia Part 1 appeared first on F-BOM. View the full article
  6. TheRealLindsey

    Ask the Author – Lauren Garcia Part 1

    Uh oh! Looks like you’re not a member yet! Check out our membership options to get access to our exclusive content. Already a member? Click here to sign in. The post Ask the Author – Lauren Garcia Part 1 appeared first on F-BOM. View the full article
  7. TheRealLindsey

    Ask the Author – Lauren Garcia Part 1

    Uh oh! Looks like you’re not a member yet! Check out our membership options to get access to our exclusive content. Already a member? Click here to sign in. The post Ask the Author – Lauren Garcia Part 1 appeared first on F-BOM. View the full article
  8. Earlier
  9. There will not be any specific spoilers to Game of Thrones material here, though I will talk about the show in general ways. I don't actively watch GoT. My husband follows the show, so I tend to hang out in the living room and either knit or work on my laptop during it. There is a lot to appreciate about the series, not the least of which is its production values. But I don't enjoy it. There's a critical difference between stories that show characters battling darkness (internal or external) and finding their triumph versus stories that glorify pain. I don't enjoy the latter. Not to read. Not to watch. Not to write. When I was in my teens/20's, I read a lot of dark stuff and loved it. (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant comes to mind.) Now, it just magnifies the dark I've experienced. Over the past several decades, I've lived through the slow decline of my mother's mind and her eventual death from complications of dementia. Helped my father through his end of life journey when 7 years of dialysis were too much for him to bear. Mourned so many loved ones. Escaped a burning house with my family and the clothes on our backs. Experienced great disappointments and great pain. Nearly lost a dear one to suicide. The longer I've lived, the more pain I've experienced and witnessed in my life. And the less I want to find that kind of pain in what I read and watch for entertainment. It's why I can watch a zillion versions of Twelfth Night or Two Gentlemen of Verona, but I don't think I can ever sit through another King Lear. I recently saw The Ferryman on Broadway with some friends. It was a masterful performance that left me reeling. It was like King Lear meets Ethan Fromme and as incredible as the play, the staging, the acting were, the ending was a gut punch. Not a sucker punch, thankfully, because the show laid enough foreshadowing that you knew it wasn't going to end well. I don't think I would have chosen to go to this show on my own. It was recommended to me as a writer by a writer friend I trust. And yes, on a craft level, there was a lot to learn and absorb from The Ferryman. While I don't regret seeing it, I don't need to ever see it again. And thank the gods of writing that there was humor and lightness in the play, because otherwise, it would have been unwatchable. It's not that I want false cheer in my entertainment. I enjoy cotton candy or peeps now and again, but that does not a healthy diet make. I don't understand the appeal of so much pain. It's why I never read past GRRM's first book in the Song of Ice and Fire series. Not because it was poorly written - it wasn't. I've often said you could run a masterclass on writing point of view using that first story. It was because the pain depicted became (for me) the point of the story, rather than a part of the story. I will never write that kind of unremitting darkness anymore. I have several trunked novels that will never see the light of day because they are full of pain for no other reason than I had internalized a lot of stuff from my early reading. My stories have pain and sadness in them; that's part of life and I don't want to shy away from expressing a full range of human emotions in my work. But, even Pandora found hope after freeing all the misery and evil trapped in the box. If you enjoy SF&F stories with some hope and endings that leave the characters transformed, but not tortured, I have a bunch you might like. You can check them out on my website. Subscribe to BlueMusings and receive my short story collection, STRANGER WORLDS THAN THESE, as my gift. Email First Name Blue Musings is a low volume e-newsletter containing notifications about book releases, sales, recommendations, and free original short fiction. Please click the box, then "subscribe" to allow us to send it to you via email. View the full article
  10. Reesha

    Cover Reveal!

    This fantastic cover was created by Sarah Nelson of Auslandish, Co. I am so happy with what she’s done! Working with her was pure joy. Thank you, Sarah! Memory Aether As a memory modification specialist, the last thing Alexia expected was for her boyfriend to be her next patient. Michael insists she must erase his entire memory of her. Funny thing is, she believes him. With Earth at war, she knows it’s likely due to a top secret government mission he’s been assigned to, and looks forward to when the mission is over so she can restore his memories. But Michael is captured and taken to an enemy camp on a distant moon. Alexia doesn’t know if that was part of his plan or not. She’s the only one alive who knows his past, and she must reach him before his brain degrades too much to reinstate his memories. A mysterious government agent with his own agenda shows up at just the right time, equipping her with what she needs to go after him. She doesn’t trust him, but it’s the only way she can save Michael. I’ve been working on Memory Aether for almost five years now (seven if you count the very, very beginnings of the idea). I’m really excited to share it with you when it’s done. Currently, this novel is in the last stages of polishing and revision. I’m not close enough to the finish line to have a publication date, but you’ll get a newsletter as soon as I have one! (Sign up for my newsletter here.) I have a self-imposed deadline to attend Fourth Street Fantasy convention in June as a published author, so hopefully sometime before then. Time for me to get back to editing! Thanks for reading. View article on original site
  11. I watched The Call to Courage (the Brene Brown Netflix special) last night and it hit me hard. Her overriding message: There is no courage without vulnerability. That failure is part of being brave. That we cannot be our full selves if we spend our energy staying armored against our fears. I know that my best work and my best self emerges from allowing myself to be vulnerable. But it comes with so much fear tangled up with shame. It doesn't feel brave at all; it feels like I'm drowning in a whirlpool of muck. And so I hold back. Struggling at the edge of a shit-vortex while assuring everyone around me that *everything's fine.* And I have so many reasons why everything should be fine: Financial security. A loving and supportive marriage. A happy home. Puppies. A creative pursuit. A healthy relationship with my adult children. Good health. True friends. So many things to be so incredibly grateful for. And still. And still. And still. I hold back. I am afraid. And when I try to talk about it, all I hear is myself being a whiny toddler. It's as if because I have so much support in my life, I have no right to struggle. I'm entitled, so I'm not entitled, if that makes any sense. Maybe it's just the time of year. Anyone who's known me for long enough knows I go through a depressive spike in early spring. Why? Have no idea. It makes no sense. The light is back, the weather is warmer, the colors are returning. But every year in April and May, my anxiety ramps up. In the past few years, it's been exacerbated by several difficult anniversaries. 6 years ago tomorrow, I nearly lost a loved one to depression and 4 years ago next month, is my father's yertzeit. I share these things because it helps me to figure out my emotions when I write about them and because if I'm not honest about my struggles, I won't find my way through to courage. Trust me, I'd rather hide behind my well-practiced surface persona then be vulnerable. But I'm also emotionally weary of beating myself up for not being that person. I'm starting to understand the cost of being neuro-atypical in a world that isn't designed for me. Most of the time, I can manage all the spinning plates. I have systems in place to pay all the bills on time, make sure laundry gets done, feed the dogs, feed me and my spouse, set and follow writing deadlines, and more. But just because I can function, doesn't mean I'm not also prone to anxiety and depression, or don't get overwhelmed by sensory stimulation, or don't get panic attacks from the daily news, or am able to 'roll with it' when my routine is upended. Most people would never see me as neuro-atypical, but the reality is I'm on the autism spectrum. And regardless of how well I can mask and function, the way my brain is made and how it works doesn't go away. I have to account for it every day. How many environments have I had to navigate today? Do I have the internal resources to make a phone call? Can I cope with a potential conflict? It's a calculus I do constantly. Last Wednesday, I had to go to 3 unfamiliar grocery stores to buy food for Passover. It was exhausting. Not physically, precisely, but the sensory barrage and the anxiety of finding my way in a new physical space was utterly draining. Sounds silly to be so flummoxed by grocery shopping. I've done so many difficult and challenging things in my life and done them well. Apparently, grocery shopping is not one of them. But I did it because it needed to be done and I managed the emotional cost of it. Is that a kind of courage? Maybe. It feels more like stubbornness, but maybe that's what it has to be. I am not looking for sympathy or answers. I'm not looking for anything from outside of myself. Maybe I just needed a place to be honest and vulnerable and even a little bit brave. Subscribe to BlueMusings and receive my short story collection, STRANGER WORLDS THAN THESE, as my gift. Email First Name Blue Musings is a low volume e-newsletter containing notifications about book releases, sales, recommendations, and free original short fiction. Please click the box, then "subscribe" to allow us to send it to you via email. View the full article
  12. Here’s our spoiler-free review of Catalyst Moon: Incursion by Lauren L. Garcia. Get your copy by becoming a member today and then join us in the member portal to get your questions answered by Lauren! In a world where magic is misunderstood, mages are feared. Even Kali, a mage, doesn’t know what she’s capable of.… Read More The post Catalyst Moon: Incursion F-BOM Book of the Month Review appeared first on F-BOM. View the full article
  13. TheRealLindsey

    Winter 2019 Flash Fiction Winner

    Here are the winning stories from F-BOM’s Winter 2019 flash fiction contest, Across Time, judged by A.H. Wang. Did you miss the contest this quarter? Our next topic will be revealed in May. Follow us on Facebook for updates. Click here for submission guidelines. Winner: Saudade by S. A. Liabikhov The fleeting scent of wet dirt took me… Read More The post Winter 2019 Flash Fiction Winner appeared first on F-BOM. View the full article
  14. My personal bookshelf: 8 novels published in 6 years This is one of my periodic musings/rants on the state of publishing. As ever, this is my opinion, based on my experience and YMMV. Depending on your definition, I'm either a professional author or a hobbyist writer. Personally, I'm not sure it matters. And I'm okay with that. I came to writing after spending almost 25 years as a physical therapist, working in a variety of settings from hospital-based inpatient care to an outpatient private practice. I earned a good living and spent significant time and money on professional development so I could stay current in my skills. I had the opportunity to speak at professional conferences and contribute to the research literature as well as write chapters for text books. There is no doubt that physical therapy was my profession. During my latter years as a clinician, I started to focus on long form fiction - as a hobby. While I can't deny holding to the fantasy of having one of my manuscripts discovered and published to world-wide acclaim, I understood that this was fantasy. Being an author wasn't my job at that point. However, I was also the parent of two children, and as their needs changed, I also shifted my working priorities to part time employment which allowed me greater flexibility to care for my sons. Just because my earnings decreased as I limited my work hours didn't suddenly demote my work to hobby status in the eyes of the world. Whether I worked 10, 20 or 40 hours a week as a PT, I was still a professional. And that designation remained whether I was the primary 'breadwinner' of my family or not. Fast forward to 2012 when I published my first novel. By then, I had disbanded my physical therapy practice and was no longer working as a clinician. I remained a licensed professional, even as I didn't earn any income in that profession. I may have earned $500 in 2012 from that first venture into publishing. So where did I stand as a writer? Professional? Hobbyist? Would it matter if I said I spent time and money on professional development? Wrote consistently? Sought feedback on my work? Learned about the changing landscape of publishing? Had an agent? Went on submission? If your definition of professional is someone who earns a full living from their chosen work, then there were many, many years I wouldn't have been considered a professional physical therapist. Without my spouse's income, there were years I wouldn't have been able to pay the rent, childcare, and basic needs for my family. Let's fast forward again, this time to 2019. I have 8 novels in the marketplace. My average annual income as a novelist is approximately $6,000 - $12,000 a year, depending on if I have a new release or not. That is not by any definition 'a living' - not when you have a family to support. So, am I a professional author? A hobbyist? Would it change your mind if you knew I was a full member of SFWA? An invited guest speaker at well regarded genre writing conventions? If your definition of professional has an income requirement attached, then the percentage of writers who are professionals is vanishingly small. Yes, there are writers earning good money. They are the outliers. Trust me. I know a LOT of writers. Most of them don't earn the equivalent of minimum wage from their creative work. And some make far, far more than that. Still others sell a ton of books and plow nearly all their earnings into promotion and advertisement, writing fast and furious in search of audience share. That is a route I have seen lead to financial success, but it requires a kind of relentless focus on the numbers (both books written and sold) that doesn't work for me and would lead me smack into the brick wall of burnout. And honestly? I don't see all that much of a difference between my traditionally published writer friends and those who go the indie route. Some writers will do extremely well. Some rare writers will be in the right place at the right time and grab that brass ring. Yes, hard work and discipline is certainly a factor in artistic success - and it's the only part of the process the writer has any control over - but even the most successful writers will tell you how much luck and timing had to do with it. It was far easier for me to make a living as a physical therapist then it is as a writer. I suspect most artists of any stripe will say their 'day jobs' make more financial sense than their art work. And none of this means that artists cannot also be professionals even as they pursue their art as part of their life. As a hobby, if you will. I think the biggest problem with the professional/hobbyist divide is that society has conflated pursuing a hobby with dabbling and all the negative connotations it carries. I would love to reclaim and redefine the word hobby in a way that doesn't place it on the opposite side of some imaginary continuum where "professional" is the other end. Perhaps we would all be better off with less of an artificial separation between vocation and avocation. If you're looking for me, I'll be searching for that elusive balance. #SFWApro Subscribe to BlueMusings and receive my short story collection, STRANGER WORLDS THAN THESE, as my gift. Email First Name Blue Musings is a low volume e-newsletter containing notifications about book releases, sales, recommendations, and free original short fiction. Please click the box, then "subscribe" to allow us to send it to you via email. View the full article
  15. Hi friends. A quick update on what I’ve been up to. First, my novel! It is nearing completion. I am about halfway through the final version. I will be able to show you the cover soon. So close!!! Keep a lookout for more news about a publication date. Next, my children continue to be adorable. My little man just turned three, and my one and a half year old has entered the velocibaby stage where she screams randomly, and very loudly. They bring sunshine to my life every day. Most excitably, my three year old has started to tell stories. I am so proud and thrilled and while I can’t wait for the day when we can discuss novels together, I wish he wouldn’t grow up so I could always hear him tell me things with his little boy voice. Reading: I’m making my way through Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee, Eleanor Oliphont is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, and Annabel Scheme by Robin Sloan. I’ve also been consuming a lot of short stories at tor.com and uncannymagazine.com. (Mostly because I am stalking Mary Robinette Kowal for her short stories. I can’t get enough of them). I have a couple of book anniversaries from when I finished reading books a year ago and they are overdue by about a month. I’ll be playing catch up with book reviews and get those written soon. Otherwise, creative projects abound. I’ve been making meal plans and enjoying new recipes. I’ve been coming up with new art projects to do with the kids. A knitting project here, a short story written there, a crafty thing everywhere. There are things in the pipeline coming your way, and I’m excited to share them with you. In the meantime, please enjoy this recipe as an “I’m in-between posts” excuse, and as a thank you for reading this far. It’s one of the many I’ve discovered and tweaked in the past couple months. I am purposefully NOT including a picture of it because I am really growing tired of Pinterest recipes, and just want to keep this simple. One batch is usually enough for me and my husband to have for lunch every day for five days. Enjoy reading this recipe without a million ads, pictures, or a lengthy explanation of it. Turkey Chili – takes about 1.5 hours Ingredients: Some amount of olive oil About two chopped onions Some amount of minced garlic…measure this with your heart 4 chopped bell peppers of any color 1 lb. ground turkey 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes 1 can red kidney beans, rinsed 1 can of corn 2 cups chicken broth 1 tbsp hot sauce of choice (I use Frank’s Red Hot) 1 tbsp of each of the following: basil, oregano, salt, garlic powder, paprika, chili powder Heat oil in a large pot, add onions and bell peppers and cook until soft. Add ground turkey and cook until browned. Add in canned tomatoes, kidney beans, corn, chicken broth, hot sauce, and all spices. Stir it well. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. View article on original site
  16. TheRealLindsey

    Ask the Author – A.H. Wang Part 3

    Join us this month as we dig into The Imperial Alchemist and ask author A.H. Wang questions about her process, her characters, the plot, and everything in between. Check out part 1 and part 2. What was the most challenging thing about writing The Imperial Alchemist? The Imperial Alchemist is my debut novel. Actually, it’s the first thing… Read More The post Ask the Author – A.H. Wang Part 3 appeared first on F-BOM. View the full article
  17. I don't write official reviews. That's a choice I made after I published my first novel as it feels like a kind of conflict of interest, especially when reading books in the spec fic world where I hang my own writing hat. (Other authors feel differently, and I respect that.) What I will do is evangelize about books I've read and loved. Today I want to talk about The Brothers Jetstream and its author, Zig Zag Claybourne. I met Clarence Young (Claybourne's cover identity) at Boskone 2019. What caught my eye was this incredible purple greatcoat he was wearing. Readers, I coveted it. Hard. But I didn't have the over 6' tall frame or the gravitas to have pulled it off. So I struck up a conversation with the man instead and ended up buying his book, The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan. Why, you ask? The purple coat may have reeled me in, but when Young described his novel as his homage to one of my hands-down favorite movies ever -- Buckaroo Banzai -- it was a no brainer. This delightful, chaotic, romp of a novel engaged me from start to finish. I normally race through books, but I forced myself to savor this one slowly and was rewarded by my patience because I got to spend more time with Milo and Ramses Jetstream and their brilliant rag tag crew. Telling you what this book is about is almost besides the point. Yes, there are the eponymous superhero brothers. There are also sentient whales, vampires, Alanteans, mysterious cabals, an arch enemy (The False Prophet Buford), the leviathan who was there at the start of the universe, mystics, psychics, angels, clones, Djinn and so much more. The ten-thousand foot view of the plot is simple: the world is in peril. The brothers and their crew need to save it "one last damned time." The execution of this wondrous novel is anything but simple. Don't expect a paint-by-numbers plot: the cast of characters is large (and all delightfully named!), the pace is fast and furious. Young, AKA Claybourne, drops us into his fertile imagination and leaves us there to sink or swim. But if you're up for an adventure, dive in. You won't be disappointed. I could absolutely see Buckaroo Banzai wanting to hang out with the Brothers Jetstream. I know I do. Subscribe to BlueMusings and receive my short story collection, STRANGER WORLDS THAN THESE, as my gift. Email First Name Blue Musings is a low volume e-newsletter containing notifications about book releases, sales, recommendations, and free original short fiction. Please click the box, then "subscribe" to allow us to send it to you via email. View the full article
  18. My adoption and search story has continued to unfold over the course of the past several months and I have a lot to catch up with. If you haven't been following along, I've now added 'next installment' links to the bottom of each post, so you can go back to part 1 and continue on. Part 1: http://ljcbluemuse.blogspot.com/2018/07/this-is-me-adoption-story-part-1.html Part 2: http://ljcbluemuse.blogspot.com/2018/07/this-is-me-adoption-story-part-2.html Part 3: http://ljcbluemuse.blogspot.com/2018/07/this-is-me-adoption-story-part-3.html Part 4: http://ljcbluemuse.blogspot.com/2018/07/this-is-me-adoption-story-part-4.html Part 5: http://ljcbluemuse.blogspot.com/2018/07/this-is-me-adoption-story-part-5.html Part 6: http://ljcbluemuse.blogspot.com/2018/08/this-is-me-adoption-story-part-6.html Part 7: https://ljcbluemuse.blogspot.com/2018/10/this-is-me-adoption-story-part-7.html In the last installment, I had found a link to my paternal side through doing 23andme DNA testing. (I continue to have concerns about the privacy of such data and for the secrets it can uncover, as well as their ability to cause unintended pain. My choice to go ahead was, in part, informed by my sense of urgency about knowing my own medical history. I would recommend caution and careful consideration ahead of spitting in that test tube.) And the person I found that I shared a genetic connection with turned out to be my birth father's half brother. The two half brothers shared a father (my paternal grandfather), who had gotten divorced and remarried, having children from both marriages. This is from an email I got from my paternal-side cousin in June of 2018: [My father] remembers his half-brothers and reminded me he meet them several years ago. Several of them have died but S is alive and well. Dad called the half-brother he has contact with and found out S's phone number. Dad just talked to him and told him he has another daughter. S would like the name of your birth mother and where you where born. Maybe your search is over. "S" was my birth father. And he was still alive. I felt an increased urgency to make contact, after being robbed of that chance with my birth mother who passed away in 2010. The chronology gets a little fuzzy for the next few weeks, mainly because my paternal family tree is so large and complex. Over the next few weeks, I ended up having multiple conversations via email and text with a ton of cousins, aunts, and uncles. All of them were thrilled to meet me and welcome me into the family at large. I even got an invitation to the annual family reunion in Utah. I thanked them, and declined, both because it was coming up a few weeks from then and my schedule was already committed, and because I knew I would be utterly overwhelmed. Part of my paternal family 'vine'It's easy to see how complicated this can get! I started keeping everything in two family trees - one for my paternal side, one for my maternal side. This is the paternal side one, showing how my grandfather had 2 families. The left hand side is the family from my grandfather's first marriage. The right hand side is the family from my grandfather's second marriage, which is my birth father's direct line. Look at all the cousins!!!! Ultimately, I got in contact with one of my birth father's full brothers and his wife who passed along my birth father's phone number with the confirmation that he did indeed want to talk to me. So with shaking hands, a ton of questions, and more than a little uncertainty, I called and spoke with my birth father for the first time. It was so strange. This entire journey has been strange and wonderful and melancholy and complicated. Here were two strangers on the telephone who were also undeniably joined through history and genetics. A father and a daughter connecting after 54 years of silence and family secrets. He never knew I existed. The maternal grandmother who had kept me a deeply buried secret in her family, and who so utterly rejected me when I had reached out in my last attempt to find my history two decades earlier, had intensely disliked him. She had actively worked to break up the relationship between Robin and her boyfriend - "S" - my birth father. And she'd been so successful, that "S" didn't know Robin was pregnant with me when she vanished from his life, leaving him heartbroken. Like my first conversation with my Uncle Paul, there was so much of my conversation with "S" that I don't remember. I know we both laughed a lot, marveling at this wild story. We shared details about our lives. I told him about my husband and sons. "S" had been married multiple times and had three daughters with one of his wives. Which meant I had half-sisters. Tragically, one had died in her 40s of complications from cancer. The other two were living on the west coast. I walked away from that long conversation with my birth father feeling content. I finally had all the pieces of the puzzle about my personal history. I had contact information for more family. After being the baby of my family for so long, I was actually a big sister! "S" and I talked about meeting in person. He doesn't travel due to old injuries and he is quite frail. But he lives in South Carolina, which is not too far for a road trip. It hasn't happened yet, but I want to make sure I don't miss the opportunity as I had lost with my birth mother and another member of this wondrous diaspora of rediscovered family who died just a few months ago. But that is a post for another day. To be continued.. . Subscribe to BlueMusings and receive my short story collection, STRANGER WORLDS THAN THESE, as my gift. Email First Name Blue Musings is a low volume e-newsletter containing notifications about book releases, sales, recommendations, and free original short fiction. Please click the box, then "subscribe" to allow us to send it to you via email. View the full article
  19. TheRealLindsey

    Ask the Author – A.H. Wang Part 2

    Uh oh! Looks like you’re not a member yet! Check out our membership options to get access to our exclusive content. Already a member? Click here to sign in. The post Ask the Author – A.H. Wang Part 2 appeared first on F-BOM. View the full article
  20. Mya is an expert at blanket fort. I'm an introvert. While that may surprise some who know me from social events, the reality is while I can be quite gregarious in public, I pay a heavy price for my energy outlay. (Case in point: I am still recovering from the intense 'peopling' during Arisia.) For folks like me who are introverts and also creatives, the internet was supposed to be the great equalizer. Be social on your terms! Discover a tribe, a community, an audience while never leaving your safe and comfortable blanket fort! Be protected behind your screen persona! While to some extent, all those promises are part of the internet and social media, it's more of a "yes, and" proposition. The "and" part being that even asynchronous and curated interaction can be stressful. And that's when the interactions are relatively benign ones. For the time being, I'll put trolling and harassment to the side here, though those negative interactions seem to hit the introvert and/or socially stressed harder than the socially comfortable/confident. And I certainly can't speak for all introverts on the internet. This is my experience. These are my musings. YMMV. I tend to be an early adopter of all things techie and social media was no exception. I was part of the early AOL message board community and then jumped to blogging in 2004. RSS readers were my jam. They helped me keep up with folks all over the world using blogs to do short and longform essay writing, prose, poetry, and sharing images. Then came the more overtly commercial platforms: facebook and twitter and pinterest and tumblr and google+, among others. I made logins for all of them and for a time, tried to keep up with the communities of users in each one. It was exhausting and instead of focusing on my blog and my own writing, I went from new posts here every 2-3 days to maybe writing something once a month. It was as if the entire landscape of social media morphed from a place to express myself to a place where I needed clicks to validate myself. It got to the point where I felt I was only interacting to get that little seratonin hit whenever someone would notice me. And you know what? It was all draining. Being noticed is exhausting. Not being noticed is exhausting. Managing all those communities is exhausting. I am not a small-talk kind of person. If I have a conversation, I want to dig deep and wrestle with the problems of the universe with you. In my offline life, I have a handful of intense friendships and even those folks understand that I may not see them or talk to them in weeks or months before picking up where we left off. I am the kind of person who will drop everything for a friend in need, but have a panic attack if I get too many social invitations in a month. Computer based social media should have been the perfect place for me. And I thought it was. Until I realized how many hours I spent relentlessly refreshing notifications. Part of this understanding has come by way of the loss of Google+. I spent a lot of time and energy cultivating relationships on G+. I found an amazing contingent of fellow creatives and just fascinating people talking about really interesting things. We shared long conversations, friendly arguments, and terrible puns. I invested a lot of myself there. And Google basically sabotaged the place - both actively and through neglect - until they announced its shuttering. By then, I had dropped my investment in the other platforms to maintenance mode. Which is primarily where I am now: make minimal comments on posts that amuse me, try to post witty things that will garner notice. It feels narcissistic and shallow, but I can't seem to help it. The thought of putting any more work into a siloed network where users create the content and the value, but are only an afterthought to the commercial interests behind them makes me want to scream. We've been sold the belief that social media is there for creative people to reach their audience. But I no longer think that's true. WE are the audience. And what social media is selling is our own attention back to us, but fragmented in an endless, recursive loop. I am trying to find my way back to using the internet in a way that sustains me, rather than drains me. But I'm not sure what that looks like, to be honest. Subscribe to BlueMusings and receive my short story collection, STRANGER WORLDS THAN THESE, as my gift. Email First Name Blue Musings is a low volume e-newsletter containing notifications about book releases, sales, recommendations, and free original short fiction. Please click the box, then "subscribe" to allow us to send it to you via email. View the full article
  21. TheRealLindsey

    Ask the Author – A.H. Wang Part One

    Uh oh! Looks like you’re not a member yet! Check out our membership options to get access to our exclusive content. Already a member? Click here to sign in. The post Ask the Author – A.H. Wang Part One appeared first on F-BOM. View the full article
  22. Lirael: Daughter of the Clayr, Format: Audiobook, Rating: 5/5 stars I loved this second book in the Old Kingdom series. It was even more enjoyable than Sabriel (the first one), and has remained my favorite in the entire collection (with Clariel being a close second). First of all, the narrator, Tim Curry, did the best job with voicing Lirael. It is the best example of voice acting I have experienced to date. I especially loved how he depicts Lirael as she’s whining to her dog about life. It’s adorable and spot on. When I first read Sabriel, I fell in love with it so much that I seriously considered naming my daughter Sabriel. (There’s still a part of me that wishes I had, though I’m sure she will thank me for not doing that later in life.) I was prepared to have this second book not be quite as good because the first was the best thing I had read ever. But it surpassed that. Also, I completely forgot that I had read this years ago. As I started reading, my mind accessed all these prior images I made up for it and it was a wonderful rediscovery. (Hence my new implementation of reviewing books a year later.) ***MINOR SPOILERS*** As soon as I started it, I recalled an image from memory of a prince and a girl on a mission floating together in a bathtub down a dangerous river. And I thought “That can’t be right. My crazy brain must have jumbled things up since I read this.” But then that exact thing happened and I couldn’t believe it, because it actually made sense, and I had to jump up and down with delight. I love that ridiculous scene so much. ***SPOILERS OVER*** Lirael is a girl who desperately wants to be like all the other girls around her, but her right of passage mysteriously hasn’t happened yet. Most girls in her society are chosen by a mysterious “sight” or prophetic gifting at varying ages, but usually quite young. She is nineteen, and still not able to enter into her community’s version of being a grown up. She is very upset by this, and becomes a solitary figure in a dangerous library. If you are as much a reader as I am, those two words alone should have you running to pick up this book and it’s predecessor. The library…oh that library! The journey she takes from outcast and lonely girl to strong heroine with agency over her own life and that of others was the most pleasant and refreshing thing I’ve read in a long time. It felt wholesome without dripping sentiment. The whole book felt dangerous and on edge, like something could happen at any moment that would frighten me, but then delivered something amusing and truthful. I am definitely going to give these books to my daughter (and son) when they get older. Lirael, along with the other Old Kingdom books, have earned a permanent place in my library and I will eventually be collecting print versions just so I can stamp them with my personal library stamp (my husband gave me one and I love it), and then loan them out. You do not have to read Sabriel first to understand or enjoy Lirael. However, the story does end in the middle. Nix originally intended Lirael and Abhorsen to be one book, but it was too long. So beware, if you do pick this up, you will likely pick up Abhorsen as well. I read the rest of this series in 2018, so you’ll see reviews of the other books come up now and then. But I do want to say regarding the series as a whole: each and every book in it is unique to itself and a gem. If you haven’t discovered this Old Kingdom series for yourself yet, add it to your list. View article on original site
  23. Reesha

    I’ve been reading some things

    Thanks for sticking around, reader. I know it’s been awhile. Since my last post I’ve done a lot. I’ve written several books to varying degrees of polish. I’ve read a lot of books that I’m dying to tell you about. I’ve parented two darling kids through lots of developmental stages. I’ve grown as a person, and I’m excited to get back to writing a blog. Update on the kiddos: they are still adorable. Even more so. Little girl started talking at 15 months. Little boy is not quite three and learning to read. They bring me joy every day. Update on myself: I’ve discovered a lot of good things about myself and how I am at my best when I can maintain a routine. Part of that routine now involves early morning kickboxing, among other things. I’ll probably talk more about it in a different post. Update on the writing: Back in November I wrote another book (fantasy) and am finishing it up now in January. My other book (cyberpunk) is almost done with final edits and I hope to have a publication date soon. Now my favorite part: the reading. In 2018, I managed to read 24 books. This year, 2019, I hope to read 30 or more. Part of this is because I set aside my writing completely in December and instead read like a maniac. Every time I itched to write, I read instead. It was a boon to my creativity. And after NaNoWriMo, I really needed the refresh. Let’s step back a bit so I can talk about reading speed. I went to readingsoft.com to calculate my average reading speed and comprehension, and it turns out, I’m exactly an average reader. I read 251 word per minute on a screen, which is more than average, but only had a 60% comprehension afterwards. Part of that is because Little Girl decided to interrupt me halfway through, but since that is a factor in my everyday reading that can happen, I’m letting the number stick. The site claims that reading from paper is faster, so my reading speed from printed books would likely be more than 251 wpm. And since I read in all three formats (audio books at typically 1.25 speed, eReader, and print), I’m going to say that between them I’ll have an average of 240 wpm, slowing down a bit to gain more comprehension. Because the genres I read typically span about 70k-90k words per book, I can get an estimate of how many hours I’ll have to spend a day to read 30+ books in a year. But I don’t want to go for just an amount of books. I want to build a habit (as mentioned earlier, building up a routine and habit is important to me). So let’s calculate how many books I could read in a year if I spent an hour a day reading. 365 days a year times 60 minutes a day (21,900 minutes) times 240 words per minute (5,256,000) divided by average book length of 80k words = 65.7 You can go to the site linked above and figure out your own numbers for your reading speed. And your genre of books might not be as long as mine. Science Fiction and Fantasy tend to run longer than other books. If I were reading non-fiction, at an average of 50k words per book (or one NaNoWriMo novel), I could potentially read 105 books in a year. So that’s my goal: read an average of an hour a day, and complete 30 books (or more). The reason I’m not increasing my reading goal beyond 30 is because frankly, even though the math tells me it’s possible, I don’t believe it. I believe I can read an hour a day. But the idea of reading 65 books is beyond me. I can’t even imagine it. Plus, none of these numbers are for sure. I may end up reading faster or slower than the reading test, or reading longer books. Also, I’m not sure I will finish all the books I start or invest time in. I want to give myself room to try books without feeling like I have to finish. This is new for me. I used to be a stickler for finishing every book I started. But then I found myself not reading because I didn’t want to spend time slogging through something I found boring. I think there’s a fine line between being a wishy-washy, hard-to-please reader and genuinely giving a book a chance to succeed or fail. It will be ok if I don’t finish a book. Just like no writing is ever wasted, I don’t think any reading is ever wasted. I may not be able to quantify the amount of reading put into an unfinished book, but the benefit will be there all the same. One other new thing for this year in my reading habits: I’m going to review the books I read last year on the date that I finished them. I don’t want to put all that time in to read and comprehend a book, only to forget it a year later. I’m hoping that by reviewing the books on delay I will both have more clear thoughts on them and increase the chance that I retain their benefit. It’s also a good marker for me to remember where I was at a year ago. For instance, a year ago today I finished reading Lirael (which I will post a review about separately), and I remember feeling, thinking, and doing life completely different while reading that book. This will be an exciting and interesting journey, and I can’t wait to share it with you. I would love to have you share your reading speed, reading goals, or ways you manage your reading time. Happy 2019 and happy reading! View article on original site
  24. TheRealLindsey

    Fall 2018 Flash Fiction Contest Winners

    Here are the winning stories from F-BOM’s Fall 2018 flash fiction contest, Darkness Spreads, judged by Chrysoula Tzavelas. Did you miss the contest this quarter? Our next topic will be revealed in February. Follow us on Facebook for updates. Click here for submission guidelines. Winner, Most Imaginative Scenario: Nemesis by Courtney B. She lowers herself onto her knees before the… Read More The post Fall 2018 Flash Fiction Contest Winners appeared first on F-BOM. View the full article
  25. Here’s our spoiler-free review of The Imperial Alchemist by A.H. Wang. Get your copy by becoming a member today and then join us in the brand-new Member Portal to get your questions answered by A.H. Wang! Two thousand years ago, Emperor Qin sent his trusted adviser Hsu Fu on a quest for immortality. He was never seen again. Now,… Read More The post The Imperial Alchemist: F-BOM Book of the Month Review appeared first on F-BOM. View the full article
  26. Not *that* kind of medium, though I wish I could predict the future. Image of John William Waterhouse's 'The Crystal Ball" used under a creative commons license: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John_William_Waterhouse_-_The_Crystal_Ball.JPG I didn't set many specific writing goals for 2018 at the close of 2017. For the most part, this was because of my prior experience of setting goals and watching them crash and burn when confronted by life. However, the one major goal I had - finish the Halcyone Space series and publish A STAR IN THE VOID, was accomplished. Albeit with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. When I look back over the year, it's pretty astonishing that I was able to get anything written. The political climate following the 2016 election and leading up to the 2018 one was a confounding factor for so many creative people I know and I was no exception. It was hard to write when I was obsessed with following political news on twitter. When news broke and kept breaking about women coming forth with their #metoo stories, I was shaken. Memories of my own childhood trauma that I had thought dealt with, constantly broke my concentration and sapped my creative energy. I wrote anyway. Because I'm a stubborn cuss and I had made promises to myself, my characters, and my readers that I didn't want to break. Instead, it nearly broke me and from the time I finished drafting A STAR IN THE VOID early last year until this month, I've struggled to do any kind of consistent writing. But not all is gloom and doom. When I looked back at 2018's work, I realized that I had accomplished more than I'd feared. I wrote (and the process was painful, filled with stops, starts, and the delete key - just ask the editor of the collection) "Perpetual Silence" for the collection OF GODS AND GLOBES. It's a story that emerged from sadness and loss, and yet, I found hope in the writing of it. Creativity is weird that way. Toward the end of the year, I was approached by the editor of LONGSHOT ISLAND and UNFIT MAGAZINE to submit for their inaugural edition of UNFIT. I dug through my story folder and found one that served the magazine's theme. "Persistence of Memory" was a story I had self published in my first collection of short fiction and took the opportunity to give it another editing pass before sending it on to be published alongside some of Science Fiction's heavy hitters. There are a few other short stories written in 2018 that will be published in 2019 and I'm at about the 10% mark on a new novel that I'm excited to be working on. The other writing I did was non-fiction: I took space in this blog to chronicle the incredible year I've had connecting with a birth family that I hadn't known and who hadn't known about me. I will be continuing that series, as I have so much more to share and new discoveries keep surprising me. If you want to read along, part 1 is here. If you are so inclined to recommend any of my work to friends or for any applicable awards, I would be incredibly grateful. I wish you all a happy, healthy New Year. May 2019 bring you joy. #SFWApro Subscribe to BlueMusings and receive my short story collection, STRANGER WORLDS THAN THESE, as my gift. Email First Name Blue Musings is a low volume e-newsletter containing notifications about book releases, sales, recommendations, and free original short fiction. Please click the box, then "subscribe" to allow us to send it to you via email. View the full article
  27. This afternoon, I was listening to WBUR as I was prepping dinner, and heard a moving story about Elie Wiesel's life and legacy as told by Rabbi Ariel Burger, a former student who became a colleague and then a friend. Rabbi Burger had put together this from his time in Wiesel's classroom and so much of it spoke to me. Ten Commandments of Elie Wiesel By Ariel Burger Listen to a witness to become a witness. Don't kill the dead again by forgetting them. Enter madness if necessary to awaken sleeping communities. Don't let the enemy define you. Any one life is worth more than all that's been written about life. True prophets don't comfort; they disturb. Remember to laugh in spite of all the darkness. There is always something you can contribute – even if it's just your protest. Worship God by arguing with God. Sometimes there is no meaning. But then we must make meaning. Of all of these, I am most struck by the last one. Sometimes there is no meaning. But then we must make meaning. That speaks to me as a poet and a writer. In a world that seems dark and ominous and where I feel so very vulnerable, writing is an act of valor, of defiance, and of creation. I have a friend who is struggling to make sense of her past and to find a path for her future. I have urged her to start journaling, not as a means to make a living with words, but to bring clarity and self-compassion to her life. Until I have written down the words, I often don't truly know how I feel. Finding the way to describe an experience is akin to sorting through a pile of stones for a handful of the right size, color, and heft. I often consider each word - alone and then next to its fellows. Does it fit? Does this phrase carry the meaning I need? Do the lines resonate with one another? And above all, will the language I craft organize the tangle of emotion into something I can understand and view from outside of myself? Then I find peace and acceptance. Patience and compassion. Words are my tools to make meaning from the chaos of existence. This is more than capturing the accuracy of a memory. Our minds are not video recorders. Our memories are always in flux. Our interpretations of those memories change, depending on current life events, emotions, and our interactions with others. In effect, our lives are in a constant state of creation and recreation. Without the transformational power of art, I would argue that we cannot make meaning. Events would crash over us like the relentless tide on a rocky beach. Without transformation, we react, lacking the space for reflection. Without reflection, there is no understanding, no wisdom. That final commandment is an obligation. We must make meaning, especially when there seems to be none. And yet, there is a danger in this, too. Especially if the meaning we make is one that distorts rather than illuminates. As I have lived through the political upheaval in my country these past several years, it occurs to me that we have become vulnerable to letting meaning come from without rather than from within. We practice less introspection and reflection and instead abdicate our responsibility to self by accepting prefabricated and neatly packaged versions of our experiences. Is it any wonder that so many of us feel fragmented? Strangers to our selves? It's been far too long since I've kept a journal consistently. Perhaps it's time to return to my old practice and use it as a way to interrogate my emotions and beliefs. Maybe the meaning I seek is waiting for me there. Subscribe to BlueMusings and receive my short story collection, STRANGER WORLDS THAN THESE, as my gift. Email First Name Blue Musings is a low volume e-newsletter containing notifications about book releases, sales, recommendations, and free original short fiction. Please click the box, then "subscribe" to allow us to send it to you via email. View the full article
  28. In part three of this interview series, Chrysoula talks about feminism in her writing. Watch it here:
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