Welcome 2019: Goals and Thoughts

To start: I’m not totally sold on this new WordPress editor. I know when it came out people were PISSED about it, and honestly, I can see why. On the other hand, it has some cool features. What I’m really not pleased about is the apparent disappearance of the word count function — or maybe it’s somewhere here and I just can’t find it yet. EDIT: I found it. It’s…yeah, okay, I don’t like where it is now. You have to click a button to see it instead of it just being at the base of your editing window.

To continue: Happy New Year! I hope you had a great New Year’s Eve and Day and that you stayed safe and warm. On New Year’s Eve I went and got a CT scan, which was a terrifying experience as I’m claustrophobic. However, it will hopefully show if my spinal injury has deteriorated or not. (OK, seriously WordPress? You fucked up adding links? Jesus.)

Anyway, as I’ve thrown out my back three times in the past year, I think it’s time to see what’s going on back there and possibly get a referral to a neurologist. I was super lucky to get a CT scan before the end of the year, and going in and getting it was actually very fast. So I’m not displeased.

2019 is the year of feeling less crappy. #spoonielife Click To Tweet

I have decided that 2019 is going to be the year I get my health back. Or, more accurately, the year I stop feeling like 100% crap all the damn time. Living with a spinal injury and acid reflux and all manner of chronic crap as well as mental illness means that I basically always feel like shit, and I’m tired of it, because there are small interventions I can do to lessen that feeling like shit thing.

2019 is also the year of better communication and finishing up projects! It’s the last year in this decade, the 2010s, so I want to get some stuff DONE, you know? I also want to communicate better — by which I mean, actually send out newsletters on a regular basis and blog more. Also maybe get a keyboard that can keep up with me so I’m not having to correct for missing letters every FIVE SECONDS, LAPTOP, I’M TALKING TO YOU.

So anyway, I’ve got some goals. Some writing goals. (I have other goals too but maybe one set of goals per post, or this will be waaaay too long.)

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The Fear of Long Books

This is something I’ve noticed lately in my time spent in various author places online. There is an almost pathological fear of long books.

I see post after post from people worrying about their word count, that their book is “too long.” I see post after post of people saying “Keep your book short because all long books are unedited pieces of crap and you don’t want to bore your reader!” (Paraphrased.) Many of these posts I see are referring to books in my genre — SFF.

The word counts I’m seeing this about? 150K. 130K. 100K.

*looks at 250K first novel that was extensively edited and also pretty well-received*

It’s really weird to claim that all long books are “unedited”. It’s like there’s this assumption that you can’t POSSIBLY need that many words to tell a story; that if it’s that long, it means you couldn’t cut what was unnecessary.

Sure, there ARE longer works that haven’t been cut down as much as they should have (though to be honest, this usually happens a bit into a trad-pubbed series, when no one dares tell a popular author “No” anymore — see: George Lucas & the prequels). I’m not saying that it never happens; I just think it’s weird to assume it’s ALL that ever happens.

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May Reads

I read things last month! I did some reviews! Here they are!

I actually got back on the reading wagon last month and knocked some books off both my Currently Reading and To Be Read lists. I’m proud of myself.

Instead of doing separate blog posts for each review, I’m just linking to my reviews on Goodreads with an excerpt. (Or, if they’re incredibly short reviews, posting the whole thing here.)

First, the digital books! Not necessarily in order of reading.

BrokenSleepebookcoverfinal400x

Broken Sleep by Kaimana Wolff

4 out of 5 stars

I may be coming from a biased place because my mom is the author and I’m the publisher…but I don’t think that should count against my review. We’re all biased in some form; one of the first lessons of Journalism class was there was no such thing as objectivity. My relation to the author makes me no more biased than the fact that I went through a lot of the events in the book.

A harrowing exposé of abuse…hard to read, as someone who’s lived through it. But a necessary book — if you’ve ever wondered why a victim of abuse stays with their abuser, this book might shed some light on that for you.

My review at GoodReads.

WritePublishRepeatcoverWrite. Publish. Repeat. by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant with David Wright.

4 out of 5 stars

Non-fiction I read as part of my ongoing efforts to improve myself as a writer and my author career. 90% of the book I’m on board with, but they lost me near the end.

These guys know their stuff when it comes to writing and marketing, but they should stay away from topics they know nothing about. Dieting and weight loss are billion dollar industries that have nothing to do with individual health, worth, or work ethic.

At this point I won’t be picking up their fiction, though I planned on it, because I don’t know what kind of fatphobic ideas might lurk within. I’ll continue to read their non-fiction because I think they do know what they’re talking about when it comes to an indie author career — and I do think this book is an essential read if you’re an indie author and you don’t really know what the hell you’re doing — but in the end, their ignorance and perpetuation of fatphobic stereotypes has cost them a cross-pollinated (non-fiction to fiction) reader.

My review at GoodReads.

And now, the paperback/hardcover books!

May reads.

Medicine River, by Thomas King

3 out of 5 stars.

I picked it up because I love Thomas King. It’s not my favourite of his work, but I didn’t hate it.

Bottom line: if you’re used to Western (white dude!) literature as the dominant narrative, then you need to erase your expectations when picking up this book. It does not follow the dominant cultural narrative we have around literature: it deliberately bites its thumb at those expectations. It’s different, and that’s not always bad.

My review on Goodreads.

Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom

4 out of 5 stars.

I went into this with the full knowledge that I would likely cry at the end. It’s a very quick read, but that doesn’t lessen the extent to which it tugs on one’s feels.

Well, I cried.

Can’t say much other than: beautiful book, quite touching, do recommend it.

Bloodchild and Other Stories, by Octavia E. Butler

4 out of 5 stars.

A collection of short stories with afterwords by the author, as well as 2 non-fiction essays at the end.

I really liked Speech Sounds. It’s a post apocalyptic story with a bit of hope at the end — basically my favourite type of story. And it’s sad, too. I don’t want to give away too much, but it’s good, and I recommend it. Possibly the best story in the book.

My review on Goodreads.

Hopefully I’ll do a similar post for June. I’m trying to actually read the myriad books in my collection instead of just smelling them to get my daily fix of book-scent.

-Katje

30 in 30: Day 17 (wolf-dogs, whiskey, and badass women)

Favorite story or collection of stories (short stories, novellas, novelettes, etc.)

Cover photo for How to Keep a Human

My favourite collection of short stories is How to Keep a Human (as told by Amaruq), written by Kaimana Wolff.

The stories are ghost-written by Amaruq the wolf dog, and tell of his adventures in Yukon with his pack leader, Kaimana Wolff. Kaimana lived up in Yukon with Amaruq in her 20s, and all these stories are true. (And the truth about stories is — that’s all we are. But I’ve already talked about Thomas King on this blog.)

My favourite story is The King of Dawson City, wherein Amaruq and Kaimana defend their thrones from interlopers from the south. It’s my favourite because in it, Kaimana ends up beating up a guy for making one unwanted sexual advance on her too many (and for siccing his dog on Ruq), in the middle of a cheering crowd in Dawson City, while Ruq holds his own against the other dog. Why does this make me so happy? Kaimana Wolff is my mother, and this story illustrates just how badass she is — and that badass blood runs in my veins.

I come from a long line of badass Dutch women, all the way back to the Viking age. We wear combat boots, chug sourtoe cocktails, run with the wolves, and don’t take any crap from any man.

And our dogs write about our exploits in short story collections.