Posts Categorized: Musings

Musings: Facing One’s Own Mistakes & Trying to Listen More

April 3, 2018 Musings 0

This post will not be a pretty one…  I will make mistakes… I will probably say something that won’t sit well but I need to be honest and open in a way I thought I was but after reading so many stories by so many Authors of Color (AOC) after the latest RWA statement regarding diversity and the RITAs I think I need to be open so I can finally be what I want to be… a true advocate for diverse voices in all areas of my life.

I have always said that I truly try to be color/ethnicity blind in all aspects of my life but you know what…  THIS IS A PRIVILEGE THAT REALLY SAYS “I have the luxury to say things that actually mean that I’m not truly trying to make sure that ALL voices get a chance to be heard.”  I am privileged in that I am a relatively educated white woman who was able to grow up in areas with diverse citizens and non-citizens.  I had the chance to experience the services and teachings from people of all sorts of religious and non-religious backgrounds.  I was encouraged to read, to seek out information from varied sources, and go out to just experience life around people.  Yes, people…  all kinds… I went to school in a public system where in high school my friends were from the projects, from the richest areas of town, and those who were like me just normal middle to low class kids.  I was also lucky enough to not be the popular kid but because of the classes I was in I knew everyone in my school including who sold drugs, who needed food or support due to poverty, and every single one of the popular kids.  I never feel in to a single clique but was able to spend time around anyone I wanted.  In fact, I had the chance to spend some time around one of the people I went to high school with and her perception was that I was popular.  I never felt that way but perhaps because I liked to be around those who tolerated me (sad but there were so many problems at home that tolerated me was GREAT) others could perceive it as popularity.

I say this because me claiming to be color blind is the worst thing that I could actually say.  I need to actually say that I will not tolerate the fact that those who aren’t like me get sneered at.  They get told that speaking up is just complaining… that asking for an equal chance at being recognized for work that is AMAZING is just whining…  I need to own that I should be looking for the voices that aren’t being celebrated and use my platform to encourage more people to PAY ATTENTION!!!  I don’t actively search for AOC and that needs to change… I need to do better…  WE NEED TO DO BETTER…  I need to be aware in a way that allows me to support all AOC by being aware that by claiming color blindness I was actually part of the problem.  I am not going to say this will be easy for me to correct but I am saying I want to do better.  I will be at my first RWA in July and will change my Twitter avatar as we get closer to the convention so I can be recognized.  I will speak up if I hear or see any behavior that AOC have had to deal with over the years.  It will be hard for me because I do have trouble speaking out.  I admit it…  I avoid confrontation most of the time because that’s the way I was raised.  Don’t draw attention to yourself… be a good girl…  don’t embarrass the family… I know that it was what was taught to them but you know what…  I need to speak up and truly try to be an advocate.

If you know a work, series or anything by AOC that you’d like to see me read or talk about…  PLEASE LET ME KNOW!  I am being honest when I say I will try anything once..  I really do love to read anything just so I can at least say that I tried it even if I end up not liking it.  I encourage you to start to pay attention to what you are reading, who you look to for recommendations, what characters are included, how people are represented, and above all….  NOTICE WHAT IS MISSING…. saying you are colorblind is not a plus…  it is not a positive…  you are most likely doing the same thing I was doing and missing problems that need to be addressed.  I cannot say this enough…  If you see me at any event, please come up to me to say hi…  to avoid being alone or in general just cause you like books.  I am an introvert by nature but I love books…  I love reading…  I love talking about books…  I love learning about new books…  I love hearing about the old school stuff that I never read because I didn’t read romance until about a year before this blog started…  Send me an email by using the contact page…  Find me on Twitter… Honestly if you just want to tell me off because I was so damned proud of being something that was not really a good thing…  Yeah go ahead..  I will own my blindness but I also own that I will be trying to be more than that going forward.  I want to be a positive in this community and the community in general.  The only way this is possible is to acknowledge that my own arrogance is a huge part of what allows this behavior to continue.

So…  Let me know…  Let anyone reading this blog know…  Who are some AOC that we all need to read?  I really do want to know either on here or Twitter…  If you are an AOC or represent an AOC please reach out to me…  I want to do better and really put my actions ahead of my words.

Also…  thanks to Suleikah Snyder who reminded me that by reaching out to her before I posted this made me do the same thing I don’t want to do.  So yeah I’m posting before I get any feedback cause…  I have a lot of work ahead of me but dammit I will learn…

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Hi 2018… I’m Here & Let’s Chat About A Few Things

January 14, 2018 Musings 2

Ok I know I’ve been AWOL for a bit from the blog but I am still here and I do still read although at the moment it is mainly academic.  *ALL THE SOBS*

I will be finishing my degree at the end of February which will make me the proud owner of a B.S. degree in Business Analysis and Management…  YAY!!!  It also means that at that time I get to have more time to do ALL THE READING and ALL THE POSTING OF THINGS which I look very forward to doing.  Thanks to Boookluvr for posting a bit out here and those who have been patient with me while I complete this.  I will be starting an MBA program in the fall but in between I plan on going to Kinky in Kansas City (March), a local event and RWA (July) where I can spend time around people who love books as much as I do.  If you are at any of these events, look me up!

Now to the ranty portion of this post…

This idea of “clean” romance…

I don’t have an issue with vanilla or softer romances…  I truly don’t and have read/reviewed a few of those over the years but…  DON’T USE “CLEAN” TO DESCRIBE YOUR ROMANCES!!!!!  Sex is not inherently dirty or unclean.  Sex is natural and is not something to be ashamed of writing.  If you don’t want to include it, that’s honestly fine by me but do not use the idea of “clean” to sell your book and keep any respect from me.  If you wrote titles that you now have decided to re-imagine and reissue as “clean” romances then perhaps just perhaps you wrote those stories poorly because if you can easily remove the kink or sex scenes then they weren’t really part of the story in the first place.  You were writing something that  you felt would sell and really did a HUGE disservice to the readers who bought it and enjoyed it as written.  You just proved that the reader should not trust you in the future with their time or money because is the work truly what you wanted to write or was it an attempt at a money-grab with the hottest sub-genre at any given moment?  I now am very skeptical of these authors who have gone down this path and personally have avoided spending money or time on their new stuff.  I get that some authors do rework older titles but to explicitly state that you were reworking to a “clean” or softer romance makes me run away from you as fast as I can.  I also won’t buy or review titles that explicitly market using the “clean” designation so please keep this in mind.  Sweet…  behind closed doors… other things like that won’t cause me to avoid you but “clean” just needs to be retired.

 

Fat Shaming or other types of shaming and blatant bias…

Yeah… There is now a certain author who I will never read again because of certain things that have come to light in reference to her upcoming title and, per trusted members of the romance community, earlier titles with HUGE RED FLAGS… I won’t name the author but here’s the thing…

I’m fat..  I’m not at all skinny and ya know…  I can handle that.

Here’s what the problem is…  I was willing to give this person the benefit of the doubt that perhaps it wasn’t as bad as it seemed.  Yeah, then I saw a person who was reading an ARC and sharing just small snippets of one of the first 5 chapters…  yeah…  damned early in the book and the level of hatred shown towards one of the characters because of her weight was unconscionable.  The fact that some of the thoughts portrayed were supposedly from a friend of the character in question made it painfully apparent that the author is tone-deaf and knowing that she’s been approached by multiple people from readers to bloggers to fellow authors to advocates is maddening.  There are so many reasons for weight issues and not all of them are easy to solve.  The classic eat less, exercise more adage isn’t always the solution and for someone to use a wide platform as this author has to make fat-shaming seem acceptable is not something we should be doing in 2018.

How about instead of using this idea of being fat as something to mock, fear, trash and otherwise put in a horrific light…  we work instead to boost self-esteem and focus on items that are great about a person.  I’d rather have the weight and be a good person than be skinny and produce something that shows how little empathy one has for others.  I’d rather support those who aren’t like me or provide something positive to help others than put them down.  Being fat is not something to be shamed by others… we see enough of that in our daily lives that to see it in the fiction from a writer who is in a genre that should celebrate all shapes and sizes is another blow that many cannot handle.

Let’s work harder to build each other up and be supportive.  Let’s do better dammit…  This is something we need to do period!  We need to seek to understand and embrace the differences rather than put them down or fear them.

Ok…  yeah I know…  I was a bit ranty but I have these moments. 

Anyway…  this year should be fun as I settle out school and reinvigorate the blog with the items I’ve been listening to and reading recently.  Thanks for sticking with me…

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My Love/Hate Relationship with Audiobooks

June 19, 2017 Musings 1

So many of you know that I recently started actively enjoying audiobooks… Some of you may know that I have always struggled with them because of my ability to read at a fast pace which made the slower pace of audio maddening.

I have since discovered that having them running while I am working on projects at work has helped me focus more and be better able to tune out the noise of working in an open concept work-space where noise is a huge distraction.  This ability to have a story to focus on in the background while working on client items has proven to be refreshing and stress reducing.

This however has also made me notice the key component in a good audiobook – the narrator!!!!!  If you have a good narrator then the story flows without being distracted by poorly done or exaggerated character voices.  This really bothered me with The Beast in Him as the drawl or attempts at a drawl were so far off what I expected from the characters that I found myself annoyed.  I know this might not be a popular opinion but everyone has their expectations for the voice of a character so when the voice is not what one expects it can be jarring.  I also am perhaps a bit biased with the way a drawl should sound so this perhaps was not a good one for me to listen to.

I have also learned that perhaps it is best for me to listen to books without having previously read them as then the mental voice is not set for me so I can be more open to the narrator’s interpretation.  This has proven expensive and useful with my glomming of Goddess with a Blade and the Elder Races series.  I cannot get them at my library so each has been purchased but…

If you have a Kindle take advantage of adding audio to the ebook because in many cases this ends up cheaper even with buying the ebook…. YES THIS IS ODDLY TRUE!!!  I’ve found that I can often save $8+ by purchasing the ebook and adding audio vs just buying the audio… *sigh* but hey whatever works …

This also leads me to wanting to be more active with my local library system in order to get more of the authors I love available to more of the local community.

Audiobooks have now proven to be a nice addition to my life as they have allowed me to continue my love of stories even as my life with school and work take over my free time.  I look forward to continuing to review these audiobooks every Monday but wanted to share why they now work for me.

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Musings for August 18, 2016

August 18, 2016 Musings 1

I am going to start doing more of these musings posts here so please get used to seeing them..  I may ramble *ok ok I WILL ramble* but I hope that some of them might prove interesting or provide some form of entertainment.

As many of you know I just recently finished my Associate’s Degree and am about to start my Bachelor’s program, I will whine and complain and fuss about this but overall this is a good thing for me to get under my belt so just bear with me as I mutter.  The program I am taking is offered by Bellevue University and is called a Cohort program which basically means an accelerated program where I take one class every 6 weeks or so with everything *and I mean everything* scheduled in one fell swoop.  What this means is I know what class I am taking for the ENTIRETY of the program and have an END DATE!!!  So my classes start on my 46th birthday (Sept 12) and will be done on March 12, 2018.  I also get to have the same instructor and classmates for the entire program so we will work together to complete our degrees in Business Analysis and Management (BS) using the online format.  I’m sort of looking forward to seeing who is in my group and where they all are as Bellevue University tends to have a lot of military participation.  If you are comfortable with writing papers in the APA format please let me know as I will probably need help making sure I get things correct.

Now on to more entertaining things…

I hope you have enjoyed the fact that I have more reviews going up…  I know I love to read and being able to get back in to the groove again is proving to be refreshing for my mind and soul.  I have quite a few titles that are scheduled for later in October and November so be on the lookout for those….  I also have some that I’ve read that come out later this month and next month so I hope you enjoy learning about them as we get closer to the release.  I’ll tease some of them on my Twitter feed so 😉  I’m curious though…

Are there any titles you are looking forward to over the next couple of months?  Any authors you really want to see?  Is there anything you’d like to see me do with my reviews or the site in general?

I appreciate anything you wish to offer and hope that this idea of posting regular musings or just off-the-cuff posts will be something you’d like to see.

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Welcome 2016! A Year of Needed Changes & Progress!

January 1, 2016 Musings 2

Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!

So … in my post yesterday I sounded a bit down but I believe that I needed to hit this wall in order to move forward.  This year is going to be one where I complete somethings and start on others.  Here are some plans I have and that I will be sharing on the site with all of you.

  • I will complete my Associate’s Degree this spring and graduate with honors.
  • I will start an Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree program at Bellevue University in either the summer or fall.  I want to take time off between programs but at the same time it might be best to just jump in.
  • I will make time to read for fun each week even if it is just a novella.
  • I will post at least 1 review a week here on the site.
  • I will post my weight-loss journey including weigh-ins every Saturday which will be posted as part of a wrap-up post each Sunday.
  • I will start to manage my health issues which means taking my medications as directed even as much as I hate them.
  • I will ask for help when I need it even as I hate admitting that I have issues.
  • I will not take a backseat in my own life and will demand that I get treated as I deserve to be treated.

These are things I have needed to do for a while now but I haven’t been aware enough of to make it a priority.  Those of you who know me know I suck at taking care of myself but this has to change.  2016 is going to be a year of major changes that I hope will set me up for a happier, healthier life where not only I grow but the blog benefits from a healthier, happier Stephanie.

Here’s what I promise for those of you who have stuck with me thru the challenges of working full-time, going to school full-time and working thru a lot of personal issues. I appreciate it but here we go…

  • I will not pull punches on what I am feeling and struggling with as I work to get healthy.
  • I will attempt to give you multiple book reviews during the week including mini-reviews for older titles that I have read but never reviewed on the site.
  • I will post recipes and exercise ideas that I am given as I struggle to control my diabetes and lose weight.
  • I will seek to provide an outlet for others who are also trying to balance work, life and everything.
  • I will post a monthly summary of the books that I have read with my favorites marked.
  • I will have more guest posts and other content that I hope you will enjoy.

 

Please feel free to reach out to me at any time if you’d like to share something either via comments on posts or via email.  I want you to feel free to share anything you wish with me as we all hopefully have a wonderful 2016.

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Are You Ready To Say Goodbye To 2015???

December 31, 2015 Musings 1

So…  I’ve been quiet for a lot of the past few months and it is time to change this in 2016.  This past year has been one full of a lot of challenges in my personal and professional lives but I am stronger because of it.  I am working on getting healthy from both a mental and physical perspective which means a lot of changes over this next year but I look forward to them.

What I’ve realized in 2015:

  • I let myself be lost in a relationship that wasn’t healthy for over 10 years.  I gave up my sense of self to a man who didn’t love me and proved that by not only making me feel like I didn’t matter but by cheating on me.  I tolerated being forgiving when he got gifts and made plans for/with friends but couldn’t do so for me.  I lived with the fact that I wasn’t important enough to plan trips with or even be willing to save up to buy a new bed or furniture that was for us.
  • I am not healthy from both a mental and physical perspective.
  • I am stronger than I give myself credit for.
  • I am more capable of change than I thought.
  • I am way too willing to be the doormat and not ask for what I want or need in all aspects of my life.
  • I am tired of being solitary in all aspects of my life.  This doesn’t mean I want to be a social butterfly but that I need to reconnect with the world in general.
  • Lack of reading time makes me a very sad, easy to anger person.
  • I cannot do it all for everyone and not care about the cost to my personal life or feelings.

What does this mean?  It means I have finally reached a point where things cannot stay the same in any aspect of my life.  I need to push myself to open up, get healthy and strive to be whatever it is I am meant to be.  I need to do a lot of work to accomplish this and I am starting with changes to my inner self which includes taking care of my health from a mental and physical perspective.  Be ready to see a mix of posts about books, my weight-loss journey and other items that keep me grounded plus motivated to change.  I adore reading but perhaps I need to open 2016 with a slightly broader outlook and share my journey with others.  I refuse to let my life keep going as it has been which means CHANGE.

I may get embarrassed from time to time as I share my weight-loss struggles and other items but dammit change is good for you!  I may not see a lot of my favorite people at conventions this coming year but I will chat with everyone on Twitter.

I’m looking forward to what 2016 brings us all!

 

 

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My Latest Addiction & How Long It Took To Get There – Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels Series – Contest

June 3, 2015 Musings 2

Ok…  I must shamefully admit something –

Until April 2015 I was unable to get into the Kate Daniels series and I had tried to make it thru Magic Bites 5 times already but kept stopping about 30% in.

There I admitted it…  *hangs head*  I had heard so many people talk about the series and had enjoyed The Edge series by Ilona Andrews but for some reason could not get beyond about the 30% mark of Magic Bites.  This is a rare thing for me as I read fast and can normally push thru the beginning of a book up until 50% before I quit but for some reason this one didn’t resonate.  I had read some of the short stories and enjoyed what I read but this book just slayed me over and over.  Finally I decided that I was bound and determined to try one last time with the mental agreement to get to 50% before I threw in the towel.

Well… I hit 30% and was still not enthralled… 35% yeah still not there but something was starting to sort of click…

40% and dammit now you got me….

I blew thru the rest of the book in love at this point with the characters and the story then….  Yeah…

Book 2 was finished by the day after I finished book 1…

Book 3 went the next day….

Book 4 and 50% of book 5 the next day…

Book 5 and 50% of book 6…  yeah that went the next day.

Book 6 and 50% of book 7… yeah…  down the next day

The rest of book 7 down that last day and then I started the Twitter begging…

I NEED MAGIC SHIFTS NOW!!!!!!!

I also threw in there a bit of the short stories, Clean Sweep and Burn for Me as additional reads after my initial begging for MS plus am saving Gunmetal Magic as a read for when I am jonesing for something new from that world…

I made no secret that I am going to be shameless in my begging for it…  I will have no pride in order to get MORE MORE MORE!!!

Then we get to RT…

I may have been slightly shameless in my fangirling of Ilona and Gordon but dammit…  It may have taken me a long time to get there but now I am assuredly an addict and possibly scared them by saying I had let people within the Penguin Group know that I would be more than happy to take an ARC of Magic Shifts off their hands at any time (YESTERDAY I MEAN COME ON).  As always they were both very sweet and great to chat with even as I babbled…

So for those of you who know me and who kept pushing me to read this series…

Ok already…  You were right dammit…

For those of you who haven’t tried this series yet or are having the same issue that I did with getting stuck around 30%….. Go on…  make a deal with yourself to get to 50% before you throw in the towel…  My guess is you’ll end up as addicted to Kate and Curran as I am.

FYI – I still adore Kate’s first meeting with Curran… “Here Kitty, Kitty…”  this can still make me giggle…

 

And because I want to give someone else the chance to start out…  I am going to give away a Kindle or Nook copy of Magic Bites to one commenter.  Just tell me if you’ve ever had this happen with a series others adore by June 15, 2015 at midnight US Central.

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