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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Let’s dance

“It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake him off.” – Florence and the Machine, “Shake It Out”

This has become my mantra lately. Everyone has demons. My demons are deeply rooted in self-esteem and body issues (but find any American girl who doesn’t have this and let me learn at her feet).

I’ve battled depression for much of my adult life. My serotonin have probably always been off, but when I was in high school, I had a great coping method: ignore it, push it down, pretend it isn’t there. But demons have a way of surfacing at the worst possible times. Mine came out in college. Thankfully I still had a good enough head on my shoulders to know to seek help. I probably wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t taken those first scary steps into the counselor’s office.

For over a decade, I’ve taken Zoloft to help my depression. In the beginning, they were the only reason that I got out of bed at all. But then I started questioning if the medicine was changing me into a robot. As a writer, I didn’t want to quell my emotions to the point of having my creativity suffer. So I stopped taking it for a few years.

But the thing with demons is that, even with medication, they never fully go away. They just get quiet for a while. If you’re lucky, the quiet times last for years. I wasn’t so lucky and learned that I needed the chemical balance that Zoloft provided. So I went back on it and at a stronger dose.

While the medicine I took was helping with my mood, I questioned if it affected other areas of my life. With the help of my doctor, I started taking a new medicine, Wellbutrin. It’s been less than a month and I can’t remember the last time I cried so much. I’m not willing to give up on this new medicine yet, though. I still get out of bed in the morning and I still hang out with friends and I’m writing more now than I have in the past year.

So I just keep telling myself to turn up the music, drown out those demons, and start dancing. I’ll sing at the top of my lungs even though I’m flat and I’ll dance like no one is watching or judging. I’ll shake that devil out and just enjoy the feeling of being alive. Will you dance with me?

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Posted by on June 29, 2012 in About me

 

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A million reasons to love Beth Revis

Okay, I don’t really have a million reasons, but I do have very two big ones: Across the Universe and A Million Suns.

Across the UniverseHonestly, I didn’t think I would ever read the first book. The title actually dissuaded me a little because I thought, “Well, here’s someone else trying to capitalize off  the Beatles.” But the day of its release, I read a synopsis of it on my nook and it sounded right up my alley. So I downloaded it and started reading in bed. I was so enthralled with it that I was pissed when my eyes betrayed me and decided to close up shop for 8 hours.

The worst part about any first book in a series is waiting for the next installment to come out. I’ve had friends who’ve purposefully put off reading the Harry Potter series until all 7 books were released, just so that there was no waiting. Sure, I like instant gratification, but I also kind of like all that anticipation, even though it can backfire (see yesterday’s post).

A Million SunsAfter 51 weeks of waiting, I finally got A Million Suns, the second book in the Across the Universe trilogy. Just like its predecessor, it drew me in and didn’t let go until the very end.

The book picked up a few months later from when the last book left off. Everyone on board the ship has been taken off Phydus. Complacency is no longer a norm. The Recorder Hall is filled with people every day who want to learn more about life on Earth and other topics like history and science. But with this curiosity for knowledge comes rebellion and the questioning of authority. Bartie, once a friend of Elder’s, calls for him to step down, to let a real leader emerge. Bartie doesn’t get much following at first, but once people start getting murdered, more join the ranks. Elder tries to balance between giving people freedom and controlling them so they don’t descend into complete chaos and he still plans on getting to Centari-Earth, no matter what.

Amy, meanwhile, starts exploring Godspeed more closely than before, even though things are far from safe. Luthe (now Luthor) still roams free and Amy fears he will attack her again. But Amy’s stubbornness to learn the truth will not let her stay safely locked up in the hospital. Soon she discovers secret stairwells and containment chambers, as well as clues left behind by Orion. The clue lead her and Elder to Godspeed’s biggest secret. But there’s someone on board the ship who will do anything to make sure it stays a secret. Anything.

There’s not much more that I can say about what happens in the book without spoiling it all. What I can say is this: it far exceeded my expectations. Once again, descriptions of the ship were so well written that I was able to clearly picture in my mind the new sections that were introduced. As more and more secrets of Godspeed were uncovered, the more I wanted to keep reading.

The third and final installment, Shades of Earth, is due out January 2013. It cannot come soon enough.

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2012 in Literature

 

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Disappointment and aggravation

I finished two books this year that were both second installments of trilogies: Crossed by Ally Condie and A Million Suns by Beth Revis*. The first books in each series (Matched and Across the Universe, respectively) had the same effect on me. I didn’t want to put either down and I was excited and anxious as the release dates for the sequels drew nearer. Crossed came out first, in November of 2011. I asked for the day off work so I could download and read it without interruption. Like most books, I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish it in a single day, but I figured I would get a good chunk read.

How wrong I was.

Matched was told entirely by Cassia’s point of view but Crossed took on a different format. Chapters alternated between Cassia and Ky’s points of view. Each chapter was marked by who was speaking, as books with alternating storytellers often do, but other than that, there was nothing to distinguish who was speaking. I found myself often flipping back several pages to find whose chapter it was that I was reading. The characters didn’t have their own voices. It all sounded like Cassia’s from Matched.

Then there was the action – or lack thereof. The mystery and intrigue that Matched had (who put Ky’s name in the system? Why did Grandpa have forbidden poetry? etc.) were missing largely for Crossed. Cassia and Ky are in search of each other, far from the Society where they first met. About half the book is taken up by this search, which is a lot of walking in deserts and hiding from Society spy planes. Once they find each other, the search continues for the Rising. It wasn’t until about 75 pages from the end that I started to feel that grip of intrigue pull me into the story. Something interesting was finally happening.

Despite taking the release day off to read it, I didn’t finish the book for three months. I didn’t feel the pull to not put it down. Instead, I felt the dredge of picking it up again. I had very little interest in it to keep me going. What would have taken me about a week to read took me months instead and that says a lot about the content.

But there’s still one more book in the trilogy, set to come out this November. And even though I was disappointed in Crossed, I am still curious to see what happens to Ky and Cassia and, therefore, will still download a copy of Reached. I just won’t bother taking a day off work so I can read it.

*Stay tuned for a review of A Million Suns.

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2012 in Literature, Rants

 

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Just a scared little girl

Well, if you know me, I’m not really “little”. Still, that’s how I feel inside, like I’m just a scared little girl.

I’ve mentioned several times on the blog about my book. I’ve worked on it for nearly a decade and have sent a “first” draft to iUniverse for review.* I received an editorial review of my work a few weeks ago, but I have yet to even read one word of it. Why? Because I’m scared. Once you put a part of yourself out there, once it’s in print, it’s there for others to judge and critique and there’s not changing it. There’s no taking it back and fixing it.

What if everyone hates it? Sure, I’ve had some friends and family read it, but I’ve had little critique that I could use. Everyone says they like it, which is nice, but when people I don’t know read it, they’re not going to be so gentle.

I look at books that are flying off the shelves, that are hard to keep in stock because everyone wants it. The latest example is E.L. James’ Fifty Shades trilogy. Is it particularly good writing? One associate of mine said that there were plenty of grammar and spelling errors. A good friend of mind said that it was “no big deal”. So why is something that is mediocre** been at the top of multiple bestseller lists for weeks? Marketing. You get someone talking about a book and word starts to spread like wildfire. Many times I’ve had customers ask for the book then say, “I don’t know anything about it. Everyone just keeps telling me to read it.” Let me tell you, I’m over telling middle-aged and senior women that the book is one long BDSM story.

What’s Fifty Shades of Grey have to do with my book? When I see an unknown author skyrocket up to fame and fortune practically overnight, it breaks my confidence. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. So how am I going to feel when it doesn’t happen to me? Let’s be realistic: this is my first published work and my work isn’t on the same level of James Joyce, either. I have no monetary means for marketing the book, though social networking and plain ol’ word of mouth is free (or at least cheap). Sure, I can market my book some, but the more I put myself out there, the more susceptible I become to criticism.

And when it comes right down to criticism, it turns out that I’m just a scared little girl.

*First draft for them, one hundredth draft for me.

**This is solely an opinion based on what I’ve heard from multiple customers and friends. I have not actually read the books, but I think it’s safe to say that it’s no Ulysses.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2012 in About me, Literature

 

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