Top Ten Tuesday: Character’s I’d Follow on Social Media

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday

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I really liked this week’s topic:

February 25: Characters I’d Follow On Social Media (submitted by Tilly @thebiblioshelf)

51dxbewzuil-_ac_us218_1. Anne Shirley from LM Montgomery’s Anne series: Anne’s social media would be positive and upbeat enough for me to feel good when it pops up on my feed, but not so much so that it gets annoying/overbearing.

61vqqqhktdl._ac_uy218_ml3_2. Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: I have the sense that her social media would be witty.  It might also be  occasionally judgmental but once you brought that to her attention she’d try to do better in the future. Actually I think a lot of Austen’s characters would be great on social media…

31yhicomrpl-_ac_us218_3. Delysia La Fosse from Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day by Winifred Watson: If social media had existed in the late 1930’s I think that this character would be a social media “influencer.”

51xphws9jdl-_ac_us218_4. Claire Randall Fraser from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series: Claire’s funny, self aware observations of life amid 18th century natives and time travelers would make me laugh.

81tljs7lr7l._ac_uy218_ml3_5. Circe from Circe by Madeline Miller– I can see this character as being a very fierce and inspiring, empowering presence on social media.

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6. Eloise from Eloise by Kay Thompson– I think that Eloise’s 140 character observations about life in the Plaza would be so much fun!

51rqr9-0jel-_ac_us218_7. Harry Dresden from The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher– This guy has a job that’s made for social media and sense of humor that’s perfect for it. Who wouldn’t want to follow the only wizard in the Chicago area?

Things That Make Me Happy

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The first two months of 2020 have been stressful for me, for a number of reasons. Today I was scrolling through twitter and I saw someone asking their followers about things that make them happy. Of course this made me reflect on what makes me happy. What are they? Well aside from raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens:

  • Chocolate
  • Romantic Comedies (good ones, if they’re really bad they can end up making me depressed!)
  • Hot beverages on a cold day
  • Old movies
  • Sitcom reruns (great for writing to, and great for anxiety: who wouldn’t want to live in a world where problems are solved in 30 minutes?)
  • Binge watching
  • Binge reading
  • When I find just the right book to suit my mood
  • Writing, when things just flow
  • Having written, seeing the finished product and presenting it to the world
  • The way a book feels different physically once I’ve read it
  • Ordering take out and eating it while watching TV
  • Musicals (even the sad ones make me happy) preferably live but recordings are good too
  • Fantasy and fairy tales
  • Yoga
  • When someone says something nice about Beautiful and/or leaves a positive review
  • Costume dramas
  • When my favorite books are adapted well for film or television

I realized that focusing on the little things that make you happy, like I did for this post, can improve your mood a bit. So for the sake of your mood and mine, what are some things that make you happy?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Gave Me a Book Hangover

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

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February 18: The Last Ten Books That Gave Me a Book Hangover (submitted by Deanna @ A Novel Glimpse)

For me book hangovers are rare. Even with a great book I’m aware that the next great book is on the horizon! The ones that give me hangovers aren’t always my favorites or even the best ones. But something about them sticks with me and makes it harder than usual to move on.  So I decided to just do ten books that left me with lingering effects instead of the last ten. So yes, I might miss one or two, but you’ll get an idea. I also wan’t 100% literal with the term “book hangover”: anything that linger afterward in a strong was qualified for the list.

81nembjjg8l._ac_uy218_ml3_1.Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling– This shouldn’t be a surprise. By the time I finished this one I felt like I’d been on a long journey, and left several old friends behind.

91tal5fv30l._ac_uy218_ml3_2. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon– It’s rare when one of my favorite entries in a series comes eight books in, but this one pulled it off, leaving me in a place where I felt emotionally exhausted but satisfied and then ending things with a beautiful reunion.

51omzinvtpl-_ac_us218_3. The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons- I think my response to this book was based largely on who I was and where I was (in terms of my life) at the time that I read it. I sobbed for like two hours when I finished this! But then I found out that there were two sequels, and while I enjoyed them to differing degrees I didn’t have the same emotional response. That makes me think that it was less about the book itself and more about something it touched off at the time.

51vp6vchi4l-_ac_us218_4.A Little Life by Hana Yanagihara– This left me with kind of a numbness. I felt like I’d be through so much with these characters, so how was I supposed to just pick up and move on with my own life?

418rxncl2rl-_ac_us218_5. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski– In a way a book about an endless house that you many never leave seems tailor made to give you a book hangover. But in this case it wasn’t an immediate hangover but rather elements of the book randomly coming back to me at different points.

911-t2bi6l._ac_uy218_ml3_6.The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon– This book created a world that seemed so vivid with such twists and turns that I was surprised to finish it and realize that it was only a book.

41swp08eytl-_ac_us218_17. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters– Forget Gone Girl, this book had some twists that really threw me in terms of upending everything I thought I knew about the plot and characters. After I read it, I had several “what do you mean, that character is exactly who he claimed to be?!” experiences with books. I kept looking for the trick that wasn’t there!

 

41duzypmsll._ac_uy218_ml3_8. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier – I loved Marillier’s world building in this series. I’d even go so far as to say that it (very indirectly!) inspired my own,  in Beautiful. But after I finished it was hard to get back to other books and worlds without holding them up to the same standard.

51vrv0hceml-_ac_us218_9. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafasi– This book made me aware of how reading a novel can be a politically subversive act. That of course made me wonder about every book I read after it; “what deeply held ideas and institutions am I undermining by reading this book?”

41x7kokbrol-_ac_us218_10. The Secret History by Donna Tartt– After I read this I kept looking for read alikes. But after being burned by many books claiming to be a similar experience, I gave up on that quest.

 

Why Self Publishing Is Harder Than People Think

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Since Beautiful was published I’ve had several conversations with people who seem to think that self publishing is easier than traditional publishing. Having never published a novel traditionally,  I can’t say with any authority which is more difficult. However, I can say that self publishing is way more difficult than many people assume.

You need to do a lot of research.

  • Unless you happen to be a writer who can also format for print and ebook, design a book cover, self-edit, proofread, market and promote a release, you’re going to need other people, and resources.
  • Need an editor? What kind of edit do you need? Developmental? Line edit? Copy edit? You need to do research to understand the differences, and evaluate potential editors.
  • You need to know your genre. What do readers expect? Yes, sometimes pushing the limits and playing with expectations can be welcome. But sometimes it can make readers feel betrayed: like they paid for something and you didn’t deliver. That leads to bad feelings and bad reviews.
  • What do book covers in your genre look like? If your book cover doesn’t have certain elements it may not find its intended audiences.
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You need other eyes on your manuscript. With traditional publishing this is something that the publishing company will provide. With self publishing, you are once again on your own.

  • Beta readers- When I write a manuscript it goes through several rounds of betas. I write a draft, self-edit and revise, send it off to betas and get feedback. Then I revise again and repeat the process a few times. By the time I send it to an editor it’s been through a lot of beta reading. With Beautiful, I sent it to several Betas just before publication as well.
  • Sensitivity readers- Depending on the subject matter of your book this might be a very good idea. More info on that here.
  • Editors- Yes, you need them. You can and should self edit, taking some time and getting some distance can help, but you can’t see your own work objectively. Sometimes great editors are also writers, but not always. Also, depending on the kind of edit you need, you might seek out different people.
  • Formatting- The last thing that you need is write a beautiful book, take time to edit it and get it into great shape and then have an ebook that malfunctions, or a print copy with repeating pages. Yes, you can learn to do this yourself. I found it very complicated and since it’s not my forte, I had someone else do it.

You need a professional cover. Again this isn’t optional. Readers judge books by the cover. We’re told not to and we do it anyway. Fortunately there are a lot of cover designers out there, so depending on budget you have options.

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You need money. Everything I’ve just mentioned comes with a price tag. A traditional publisher won’t charge you for editing (if they do it’s a red flag, you need to do more research to make sure this is legit!) or cover design, but as a self publisher, you need to hire freelancers to do it. Each one will tell you that that’s the most important thing to spend money on. You need to figure out what you budget is for this project and how to allocate it. Then you can figure out ways to cut costs. Instead if a custom designed cover, you can use a premade cover. Some editors will allow you to pay over time, or figure out a way to trade services (ie: if you help me set up my new website, I’ll give you a free developmental edit.) Many people find free beta readers on goodreads or facebook. But budgeting comes down to figuring out what you need and prioritizing, which takes even more research.  It may also mean some degree of labor, if you work out trades.

You need to market your book, promote it, and sell it. All of this just covers what goes into making a book a book. I haven’t even gone into a discussion of promoting and marketing a book once it’s released! That’s yet another task that falls to self-published author.

I think a lot of people hear the words “self publish” and assume that you’re uploading a word doc with your manuscript to kindle. Which, is what some people do, I’m sure. But many self published authors put a lot of effort into making a product that is high quality and professional. Most of those authors don’t come from a publishing background. They learn on the job and with limited resources.  Just because they’ve bypassed the traditional publishing system (there are many reasons for doing this!) doesn’t mean that they’re taking the easy way, by any stretch of the imagination. Self-published authors deserve a lot of respect for the investment (in terms of money, time, energy, and emotion) they put into each book. So next time someone tells you that they’ve self published, give them the respect that they deserve!

Top Ten Tuesday: Fairy Tale Romance

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday

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February 11: Love Freebie

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d do a list of my favorite romantic fairy tale retellings,

51ck4irm2cl-_ac_us218_1. Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley- This Beauty and the Beast retelling features a twist at the end that some readers don’t like, but I found romantic and very true to the themes in then fairy tale. I won’t say anymore to avoid spoilers.

 

 

 

51o3s-znfpl._ac_uy218_ml3_2. The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth– I’m hesitant to call this “romantic” because this actually has some fairly disturbing content. But it also has a beautiful love story that takes place over many years. Some might argue it’s not a “retelling” but rather historical fiction about Dortchen Wild, wife of Wilhelm Grimm, who helped him and his brother compile their collection. But I would argue that her tale parallels Many-Furs, one of the darker stories in the Grimm’s collection.

 

51lgg6vtyzl._ac_uy218_ml3_3. The Mermaid’s Daughter by Ann Claycomb- This Little Mermaid retelling actually features two romances. One is a LGBT romance, and one is a romance featuring a middle aged couple (both are groups without a lot of representation in popular fiction). It takes place in contemporary times in the world of opera.

 

 

41duzypmsll._ac_uy218_ml3_4. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier – All of Marillier’s Sevenwaters novels have at least a dash of romance, but I really like how it was handled in this book, the first in the series, based on The Six Swans. It’s a slow building romance that seems to sneak up on the characters, but not the reader.

 

 

71r8afnvonl._ac_uy218_ml3_5. The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine– This retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses is set in NYC during the roaring twenties. One thing that impressed me here was that there were a lot of characters (twelve heroines!) but I was still invested in the romance relationship of the main character, the oldest sister, Jo.

 

 

517zcqxmvll-_ac_us218_6. The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery– Again it’s debatable as to whether or not this is a retelling or a story that strongly references Bluebeard. Regardless it’s a story of a new marriage with secrets and a locked room (though the contents are significantly different than in the fairy tale).

 

 

 

41yulaqhrkl._ac_uy218_ml3_7.Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier– This is one of my favorite Beauty and the Beast retellings, from one of my favorite authors in the genre. It also features a beautiful romance where you really root for the central couple.

 

 

 

51spwrt1xrl-_ac_us218_8.The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey- I think  that this Beauty and the Beast retelling (set in the same world as Lackey’s elemental masters series) has some interesting parallels to Heart’s Blood.  But to me the fantasy elements are more prominent in this one.

 

 

 

81sohdsngol._ac_uy218_ml3_9. Phoenix and Ashes by Mercedes Lackey – I like Lackey’s elemental master’s envisioning of Cinderella because it’s got more grit and less Disney (not that that I don’t also love Disney!) and the Prince is as wounded as Cinderella in his own way.

Limited Time Offer!

Beautiful is now available for only $0.99 as a kindle countdown deal. Take advantage of this limited time price now!

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BookWorks calls Beautiful “an engaging original twist on the Beauty and the Beast story.” This tale of beauties and beasts, magic and spells, romance and growth  is available HERE

What Does It Mean To Be A Successful Author?

The other day, I was watching a movie and a character referred to himself as a “failed author.” In the context of the film, it was clear that he meant that his book hadn’t sold well. But it got me thinking about what “success” means as an author. After all, my book isn’t exactly topping the best seller lists. Does that make me a “failed author”? Considering the fact that when I published Beautiful, I expected to sell about three copies total, I’d say no. I don’t know what the character in the movie was expecting or hoping when he published his book: it was never made clear. But when I decided to publish Beautiful I was very clear about what “success” would mean to me with this book: if people (any number of people) read the book and got some enjoyment out of it, I would consider it successful. I’ve gotten some really nice feedback on the book. More than I expected! It’s encouraged me to move forward with publishing a follow up and building a career. So in that sense, I absolutely consider myself a successful author.

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But let’s rewind a moment: before I published Beautiful, I had seen writers in books and films say similar things about their books quite frequently. Even then I would roll my eyes a bit at it. These people had not only had the stamina and dedication to sit down and write a book (and  presumably edit and revise and rewrite it) but they had the confidence and perseverance to publish it. That in itself is a win! A lot of people say they want to write. Of those very few make it through the first draft. At each stage a lot of people give up. I would say that people who have the perseverance to write a book, and the courage and confidence to publish it, are successful regardless of whether it sells a single copy!

In fact, book sales are a fairly arbitrary indicator of success. Yes, having money is nice, I certainly don’t deny that! But how many brilliant writers throughout history sold very few copies of their work during their lifetime? Even my own criteria for success don’t hold up under that lens: many great authors were mocked and derided initially by readers and critics and only appreciated by posterity.

Given the fact that popularity and monetary rewards aren’t always indicative of success as a writer, the only way that a writer can be assured of a chance of greatness some day is to finish that book, and publish it so that people can read it. Maybe it’ll sell a million copies when if first comes out, be made into a forgettable movie and make the writer financially comfortable for the rest of his or her life. That’s certainly a kind of success. Maybe it’ll sell a few copies but be loved by readers and inspire future work. That’s a  kind of success too. Maybe it’ll be enjoyed by those who read it and then forgotten as they move on with life. I’d argue that’s success too. It might be helping those people as they struggle with something. It may take them away from their trouble for a few hours. To me, that’s success regardless of whether or not its remembered later.

I would argue that the only way to fail as an author is to not write and to not let people read what you’ve written. That’s the only way that it has no chance to make an impact. But if you write, and you share your writing, then you’re successful, whether or not you recognize it.

Mini Persephone Readathon Challenges

 

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I’m participating in the Dwell in Possibility Winter 2020 Mini Persephone Readathon this weekend. I’m be reading Mariana by Monica Dickens.

This post is for a few of the optional challenges

Photogenic Persephones: Share a photo of your Persephone collection and/or your readathon TBR stack.

My collection minus my current read

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This #WhatToReadWed instead of recommeding one book I'm marking the #persephonereadathon by recommending @persephonebooks in general. Persephone reprints neglected books by mostly mid twentieth century female writers (there are some exceptions). . . . If you're like me and prefer physical book to ebooks, persephone titles are a treat. Each book has grey jacket (except for the persephone classics which have a reproduction of a painting on the cover) and a 'fabric' endpaper with matching bookmark. All titles also have an introduction or an afterward by a notable contemporary writer. . . . The books themselves include novels, memoirs, short stories, diaries, letters and more. . . . What's your #WhatToReadWed recommendation? . . . #books #bookstagram #bookrecommendations #persephonereadathon #persephonebooks #persephoneclassics #readmorewomen #bookbuzz #bookblog #bookcommunity #bookclub #bookishfeatures #readersofinstagram #readersofig #bookish #bookworm #bookster #bibliophile #booklover #carpelibrum #amreading #booklove #literature #readmorebooks #shelfie #womenwriters #prettybooks

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In Six Words: Describe your current Persephone read in 6 words.

education, coming of age (yes, I’m counting that as one word!), bildungsroman, witty, charming, nostalgic

Beautiful Endpapers: Post a photo of your current book’s endpapers/your favorite Persephone endpapers.

Some info about the endpaper for Mariana:

The endpaper is a voile dress fabric designed in 1933 when Mary would have been 18: brightly-coloured tulips are surrounded by swirls of green, white and blue, images of freedom and happiness that evoke the simplicity and beauty of an English country garden. X

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A Cup of Persephone: Post a pic of your Persephone read paired with a mug or cup of something delicious.

Mariana and tea (the tea got cut out of the shot a little, but I think it still counts!)

Quote This: Share a quote from your current read:

“But Mariana was wrong. You couldn’t die. You had to go on. When you were born, you were given a trust of individuality that you were bound to preserve. It was precious. The things that happened in your life, however closely connected with other people, developed and strengthened that individuality. You became a person.”

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Recent Bookshelf Additions

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

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January 21: The Ten Most Recent Additions to My Bookshelf

I decided to be pretty literal about this and go with the physical books placed on my actual shelf most recently.

51o77whsaml._ac_sr250230_1.Mariana by Monica Dickens– This is my latest addition to my slowly growing Persephone collection. I think I’m going to start it for the upcoming Persephone Readathon.

 

 

 

97801437861602.The Blue Rose By Kate Forsyth– My friend got me this for the holidays this year. She knows that I’m a big fan of Kate Forsyth, and this is her latest. I’m looking forward to starting it soon.

 

 

 

 

71j3hkayifl._ac_uy218_ml3_3. White As Snow by Tanith Lee- I found this in a secondhand store recently and I was excited because it’s been on my TBR for a while: it’s a combination of a Snow White retelling and Persephone/Demeter/Hades story. Lee is a really underappreciated writer IMO.

 

 

818e2qmhlhl._ac_uy218_ml3_4. A Beggar’s Kingdom by Paullina Simons– I won this in a goodreads giveaway, but then I realized that it’s the sequel toThe Tiger Catcher. Since I don’t have that one yet, I want to wait until I do, before I read the second one.

 

 

41nnbvwgaal-_ac_us218_5. The Madwoman in the Attic by Sandra M Gilbert and Susan Gubar– This was another secondhand find. I used it a bit for several classes in college because it has some amazing criticism regarding female 19th century writers. I’d love to revisit it at several points as I read things now. It’s not really a book you read cover to cover in one sitting. It’s more a book you refer to and read a chapter here and there.

 

91aqq9rnmll._ac_uy218_ml3_6. The Visitors by Sally Beauman– Another secondhand shop find. I don’t know anything about this one. I just picked it up because it looked interesting. Hopefully it is.

 

 

 

81o0w3k8oyl._ac_uy218_ml3_7. Panchinko by Min Jin Lee- I actually read this one already. It was about a Korean family living in Japan in the 20th century. It was really interesting in that it dealt with a historical time and place that I knew almost nothing about.

 

 

 

91cvrgq3trl._ac_uy218_ml3_8. Sapphire Skies by Belinda Alexandra– I got this from a secondhand shop too (they have paperbacks for $1 so I always figure, even if it turns out to be bad, what do I have to lose?) and it looked interesting so I decided to give it a shot.

 

 

51sfno9ygsl._ac_ul320_ml3_9. Lyrebird by Cecilia Ahern– This one was from a library sale. I got it because I’d enjoyed some of Ahern’s other work, and I enjoyed this one too. I featured it for #WhattoReadWed on my instagram.

 

 

81fviyckszl._ac_uy218_ml3_10. The Group by Mary McCarthy– I keep hearing about this book and reading about it. It’s been on my TBR for a while, so I decided to go for it.

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Discoveries of 2019

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

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January 14: Bookish Discoveries I Made In 2019 (these could be books, authors, blogs, websites, apps, products, etc.)

  1. b1jda6eqis._sy300_Anthony Horowitz- I love a good mystery but it’s rare to find writers who do new, innovative things with the genre. Anthony Horowitz seems like an exception to the rule.  Whether it’s writing a two in one whodinnit (The Magpie Murders) or starting a new detective series featuring himself as a  rather dimwitted sidekick (The World is Murder, The Sentence is Death) Horowitz seems to be ready and willing to try something new.
  2. 81rfph30jl._ac_uy218_ml3_Her Royal Spyness- This series by Rhys Bowen is pure fluff, which is sometimes 100% necessary. It features Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, 34th in line for the British throne. In other words, she’s far enough from the throne to have absolutely no money, but close enough so that the queen often asks for favors. In the early 1930’s she’s takes up a new career as a (very) amateur sleuth. I’ve only read the first three in the series so far.

 

919qe25jntl._ac_uy218_ml3_81tljs7lr7l._ac_uy218_ml3_3.Madeline Miller- I discussed my response to these books a bit in this post and my Best of 2019 list.  I’m not usually a fan of Greek mythology and Classics, but  Madeline Miller’s writing is vivid and compelling,  and the the characters are so human (even when technically they aren’t!) that its hard not to become invested

 

81j8qbx0aal.sr160240_bg2432432434. Elizabeth Taylor- She’s not really a “new” author. She died in 1975. But I read several of her books in 2019, and I’m definitely a new fan! I’ve already read Blaming, Angel, and The Soul of Kindness. I look forward to reading more in 2020.

 

 

 

Well, actually this was more of a top four list. But those were my bookish discoveries last year.