The Wonder of Unknown

So, ladies and gents, I’ve bought a ticket to London for September 20th. To clear things up, I’ll remind everyone that I live in America and have never been outside the country. I have no idea what I’m going to do or where I’m going to go, only that sometime around New Years I’ll get my butt to Paris for my flight back (which has yet to be purchased).

Obviously I am excited about this trip. In 77 days I will be flying to London. (Well, technically I’ll be flying to Canada then Iceland THEN London, but close enough.) I mentioned before that I was planning to go to Europe and I have a pitiful travel blog here (where I already mention this trip), but now it’s set in stone. I don’t know how much money I’ll have or where I’ll be going or if I’ll end up homeless and begging my parents to pay for me to come home, but either way I’m ready.

So, what does this mean for this blog? Well, two things. One, I’m going to be working as much as possible between now and the 18th of September, so I’m not going to be posting that often, but I’ll aim for at least once every other week. It also means that I’ll be on a writing hiatus after I leave–I’ll still write, but it will be on a tiny tablet and that won’t have the processing power to edit anything, so nothing new will be released–but that I will probably be posting more book reviews if I ever find my Kindle.

ALSO, if any of you live in Europe and want to meet up, I’m game with that. Since I’m going during November I plan to go to a NaNoWriMo meet-up just to meet locals, so if you’re near a major city we may because to get coffee or something.

For now, bare with me as I get overwhelmed and freak out over my impending departure, and please note that I have not died, I’m just selling my soul at a fast food restaurant in order to fund my trip.

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How to Run a Book Review Blog

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So, there are a few things you need to do in order to run a book review blog. The list below should help out anyone new to blogging or who thinks their blog could use some improvement.

First, start a blog. I happen to be partial to WordPress.

Second, read a book. Preferably nothing by Ayn Rand, but that’s just me.

Next, review the book with a clear rating, either through a number of stars (which you explain the meaning of somewhere) or simply whether or not you would recommend it to other people.

Make it easy for authors to contact you. Either put your email address up or use a contact form thing on a designated contact page. If you run a book review blog, you can get free books. If you didn’t know that, you do now. It makes it easier for authors to spam tell you about their book they’re giving away for free. All they want in return is an honest review (and if they say “give me five stars or else” just ignore them).

A note: if you do want free books but not a certain genre, make that clear. Some authors will still ignore that, but if you don’t want to receive erotica and you’re under eighteen, usually stating that clearly will reduce the probability that authors will send requests to read their naughty things against your wishes. (However, I’m not sure if stating that you’re underage could welcome other safety problems as I’m 21 and haven’t thought about cyber security in a while… but yeah, don’t be Catfished by pedophiles. And stuff. I’m off topic.)

Finally, post book reviews regularly. It doesn’t have to be every day, but post often enough to make sure your blog looks active. This may also encourage you to read more, which is obviously a plus.

An Author’s Meltdown

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So I’ve posted before on how to handle bad reviews and multiple times I have mentioned that an author should never respond to a review unless the reader is asking a genuine question (such as when is book 2 coming out). For those of you who missed it, there was a significant meltdown on Goodreads a few days ago. (Sorry I’ve been late about posting it, but my own book was just released and I am now working two jobs.)

The author went back and deleted his comments but I have the link to an archived page. I’ll provide the best snapshots then link to it below so you can see for yourself this hot holy mess. This is mostly for entertainment purposes since I don’t know of anyone who would react so badly and needs to be warned against it.

This was just…so unnecessarily wordy and pretentious. I just did not enjoy it at all. Which makes me sad because the summary says it’s for fans of Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and World of Warcraft. Aka three of my favorite things. So how did I loathe this so entirely from page one? I don’t know.
-Reviewer

Sorry that my book evoked such a horrible response… I’m an indie author. I work over 100 hours a week to get my books to succeed so that I don’t have to be a slave anymore. This review is not good for my business, so unless your desire is to ruin my dreams, it would mean a great deal if you could remove this review from my work and forget about it. But if it’s your desire to hurt me financially and ruin my business, then it’s understandable why you would post such a harmful review
-Author

The book has a number of good reviews so far so obviously plenty of people enjoy it, I just wasn’t one of them… I hardly think one review by a single person who is in no way affiliated with any company or big name blogs is going to ruin you financially or otherwise…I think we both know being an author is going to come with positive and negative attention… I personally did not like the story, it wasn’t for me… My one review is not going to sink your life’s work. If you are only here to police your book, only allowing good things to be said about it, I think that says more about you than the reviewer… I’m not going to remove my review because that would be a lie. I read it, I did not enjoy it, I’m within my rights to say so.
-Reviewer

I’m not here to “police” Goodreads…. Leaving a 1 star review on a book says much more about what kind of person does such a thing, and then attacks it for being “pretentious,” which is an erroneous statement that is defamation at best…. I’m happy I could be your Ego’s stepping stone… I’m just always amazed that someone would go out of their way to slander someone’s work like this. [Goodreads] is like Yelp, where essentially the only people that use it for negative reviews are those that have nothing better going on in their lives… I would’ve rather you got your money back than curse my book with your toxic opinion of it because it’s “in your rights to do so.” Do you have empathy? …Or do you just look at other people like they’re automatons that you can slander as though your actions don’t manifest consequences? …400,000 children go missing each year in the US alone. Do you know where they’re going? Do you know who’s behind it? Do you know why the media is silent about it? Do you know how much a person risks to confront the evil that’s running amok in this world?…
-Author

Alright, a minor break. WTF is he bringing up kidnapping for????

For all the people that observe this exchange, when you leave a negative review on someone’s work, you are potentially driving away a person that could have had their life changed for the better by that work. For someone to leave such a toxic review on a book that contains so much gnosis, that people had to die in order to learn in the past, is an utter disgrace to the human condition… So again, by all means, leave the review up if you feel like it’s the moral thing to do, if you must have it on your Goodreads profile so people can see how relevant your low opinion of “The Tale of Onora” is. The review mocks the reviewer, not the book….
-Author

You do realize that every author in the entire world has had their work negatively reviewed, right? Like literally all of them. The best writers in the entire world have had their books torn apart on a much more public platform than Goodreads. Why do you think you are above that? Why is your work above criticism when others aren’t?
-Reviewer

Then other people caught sight of this exchange and started chiming in. Obviously, a lot of them were against the author’s behavior.

And all of you who are taking [reviewer]’s side, what you’re doing in the bigger picture is waging war on the consciousness of humanity. The end… What bothers me is when people that operated at a low level of consciousness defame the work of people that are trying to help humanity, and no one helps humanity better than artists…. You’re immoral for defending this 1 star review. What is wrong with your POISONED WORLDVIEW where you cannot understand the damage that [a 1 star review] does???
-Author

Um, okay. He’s like literally saying that he’s God’s gift to humanity.

There aren’t any sides, [author]. I’m not trying to fight with you or defame your work. I just simply, on my own, did not enjoy the book… Maybe, like you said, I’m not at a high enough level of…intellect or consciousness or whatever else to understand it the way you meant it to be read…. I’m just a reader. That still doesn’t change the fact that you don’t need to come on here and threaten me over it… No one would have even noticed this review if it hadn’t been turned into this giant argument over nothing.
-Reviewer

The reviewer feels threatened but is still staying calm. She’s not doing anything to escalate this.

You know what it feels like to… see someone write that about you? Wow. No shame. All of you that have commented on this thread are EXACTLY what is wrong with this world, and EXACTLY what is ENABLING what is wrong with this world by CONDONING it… I hope you contemplate what it means to tear someone’s work down on a public forum and have the cognitive dissonance to believe it’s anything other than bullying. You’re unraised.
-Author

Talk about cognitive dissonance.

This continues for some time, continuing to say how immoral giving a one star review is while others chime in to agree with “WTF” to the author.

What I stand for, what [my book] stands for, and what the people that read it on every continent represent is SELF-EVIDENT and needs NO defense. What you stand for is all that is IMMORAL, HARMFUL, and WRONG.
-Author

So there you go. The archive only lasts till page 2 of the comments, so I don’t know if he posted anymore because all his comments have been deleted.

Kids, if you’re confused, always avoid engaging with readers. Even if someone leaves a one star review saying “John Doe is a bag of dicks and I used his book to wipe my ass” you do not reply. You flag it and report it to Amazon/Goodreads and they’ll take it down if it’s pointlessly hateful like that. (Also, readers usually avoid reviews like that when looking for pros and cons of the book before buying.)

Archived link: http://archive.is/rFgtE#selection-5187.0-5187.216

The Editing Never Ends

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This was the “final” copy of Wildflower Crown. The one that was completely corrected and without errors. Yeah. That’s like 150 markers. To be fair (to me), there were only two or three actual mistakes/typos. The rest were “Hmmm, I could totally word that better,” or “DIALOGUE TAG WHAT ARE YOU DOING GTFO.”

So yeah, this is a little reminder not to freak out over shitty first drafts. This is the 6th draft now. However, all I have to do is make sure that fixing all those little tab things didn’t mess up any spacing and then format it for Kindle and it’ll be ready for publishing. Depending on how much time it takes to go live, Wildflower Crown will be out sometime this weekend or early next week. (I don’t know about you guys, but I’m excited. My second book! Woo!)

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Seriously got down to one of these things. Didn’t even notice until I’d already shut the book. Good thing I didn’t find two more things to be super picky over :p

Mini Update

I’ve been away for a while because I had to graduate and then move all my stuff, but the proof copy of Wildflower Crown is here so you can all enjoy the dorky picture I took of it. Hopefully I’ll start posting reviews for all the books I’ve recently read as well as finally posting an excerpt from Wildflower Crown!

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Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Stalking

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. It just so happens that I’m currently working on a presentation for stalking for school, so I figured I could share some knowledge with all of you. I will cite my sources the best I can and put them at the bottom, but know that they are journal articles so unless you’re affiliated with a university it’s likely that you won’t be able to access them for free.

Temporary note: Dr. Marshall, if you find this when checking my ABs for plagiarism this is me, I promise.

What is stalking?

Until fairly recently, stalking wasn’t a recognized crime, but it existed well before that. Personally, I know that my aunt was stalked before I was born and while she got a restraining order for harassment, the police didn’t do anything to put an end to her stalker’s pursuit of her. It wasn’t until she got married that he finally left her alone. The stalking went on for years.

In 1994 in California stalking was officially deemed a crime. In England and Wales, it was the Harassment Act introduced in 1997 that provided protection for stalking victims but wasn’t until 2012 that the word “stalking” was actually put in legislation to further protect victims (Scott, Nixon, & Sheridan, 2013). Stalking is defined as “repeated pursuit and harassment of another causing fear or bodily harm” (Menard & Pincus, 2012, p. 2184).

Because it is so new, there are some problems with its definition. For one, stalking is a gender-biased crime. Women are more likely than men to fear their stalker (Owens, 2015), and without the fear element stalking is simply considered harassment. These victims go through the same experiences, but when a women would fear a man showing up at her workplace a man might simply be annoyed if a girl who had been staking him showed up at his favorite bar. While stalking victims are typically women and stalking perpetrators are typically men (Menard & Pincus, 2012), any combination of gender or sexuality is possible. I had a very unlucky roommate who was stalked by a lesbian and a straight male within a single year.

Why care about stalking?

Estimates vary wildly for how prevalent stalking is in the United States. Some estimates guess that 2% of men and 8% of women will be stalked in their lifetime (Reyns & Englebrecht, 2012) to 7% of men and 16% of women (Kraaij, Arensman, Garenfski, & Kremers, 2007). Chances are that you know someone who has been stalked or has stalked someone.

Stalking isn’t just about someone calling you repeatedly and constantly checking up on your Facebook. It isn’t annoying or humorous, like some girls seem to think when they utter the phrase, “Ugh, he remembered my birthday, what a total stalker.” Men and women have been killed by their stalker or sustained other serious injuries. Women can suffer PTSD, depression, and anxiety.

In addition, stalking can affect women’s employment. Stalking has been associated with absenteeism from work, reduced productivity, and increased likelihood of losing their job. The victim’s place of work may be the easiest way to target her, so her performance at work may suffer. One study interviewed stalking victims and found that women reported on-the-job harassment, being disrupted at work, and job performance problems. One women described how during her shifts at an emergency room her stalker would call every five minutes asking to talk to her, disrupting her work and creating friction between herself and her coworkers. One woman reported that she was afraid to go out and look for jobs because she knew as soon as she hit the street her stalker would be there waiting for her (Logan, Shannon, Cole, & Swanberg, 2007).

Who is at risk for stalking?

The common misconception is that most stalkers are strangers who see you across a crowded bar and follow you home, but that simply isn’t true. Stalking is like rape in that a very small percentage of cases happen between total strangers, and when it does in 50% of cases it doesn’t last longer than two weeks. Stalkers usually know their victims and may be an ex-lover or even a current partner (Weller, Hope, & Sheridan, 2013).

One study randomly assigned laypersons and police officers to three conditions. They were told that the victim and the perpetrator were either coworkers, ex-partners, or strangers. Participants were then asked to rate items on a Likert scale describing the extent of the stalking (if any) and the severity of the situation. Even the police were more likely to believe that the case of the stranger stalking the victim was the most severe, but almost all studies in stalking violence say that the opposite is true (Weller, et al., 2013).

Another study looked at cases where abusive relationships turned into stalking relationships. Over half of participants experienced jealousy, isolation, and criticism during their relationships, while only 22.3% experienced sexual violence and only 11.4% experienced property damage. The significant predictors of violence were found to be threats of violence during stalking, if the stalker abused drugs, and jealousy of the former partner (Roberts, 2005).

Was she asking for it?

Like with any crime, don’t blame the victim. This might seem obvious, but in the study I mentioned where laypersons were asked about their perceptions of the different stalking behaviors many indicated that the victim had some level of blame. She had to have led the guy on, right? She was being flirty. She was texting him back at first!

No.

Just like any other crime, stalking happens because the perpetrator has bad intentions. It has nothing to do with the victim. Some studies suggest that stalkers stalk people to regain control in their lives when there an imbalance of control already evident (Nobles & Fox, 2013) while others find that child abuse and unhealthy attachment styles were most predictive of stalking behaviors (Menard & Pincus, 2012).

How can you help?

If a friend comes forward talking about something that sounds like stalking (repeated unwanted behaviors) urge them to talk to the authorities about it. Here is a database of places to call in the United States if you’d like to talk to someone anonymously and here is the UK stalking hotline (0808 802 0300). You can also go to your local women’s shelter (yes, men can go there too!).

If you are being stalked or harassed, you don’t have to live with the fear. Make a plan and contact someone who can help, whether that be the authorities or a family member. Don’t be afraid to speak up.

Sources:

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What We Do in The Shadows

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The movie is a mockumentary about vampires living together. The oldest is Peter, who doesn’t say much.

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The kind of leader of the group is Viago, who is very soft spoken for a vampire.

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Deacon is “kind of like the young bad boy of the group.”

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And Vladislav is just kinda crazy.

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Everyone needs to watch it. It’s the one of the most brilliant movies I’ve ever seen. I may have had to watch it through less than legal sources, but it’s not yet available in the United States as far as I’m aware, so I don’t know about other countries, but you can find it online.

Basically, Deacon is the best:

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Hey guys - Imgur

Things I Don’t Understand About Blogging

So I’ve been blogging for almost a year now, and I feel like I’ve learn a lot in that time. However, there are still some things I don’t understand. Maybe some of you can help me out.

1. I don’t understand people who follow everyone they can.

I mean, I get the concept. If you follow people they may follow you back, and that can increase your audience. That’s great. Only, who cares about the numbers? A good number of my followers are fashion bloggers and lifestyle bloggers that clearly were just following to try to get a following of their own, but I didn’t follow them back. I don’t care about fashion. I don’t need posts like that showing up in my reader. If you follow me, it doesn’t mean I’m going to follow you back. If it seems like you blog about writing I may check you out, but it still doesn’t mean anything, and if I follow you I can still unfollow you if all you blog about is your grandpa’s dentures despite claiming to be a writing blog.

2. Why wordpress changed the stats page.

This really bugs me. I like the old one. At least move the “go to the old page” button to the top so I don’t have to scroll down each time. Seriously.

3. How to find bloggers who interest you.

I’m pretty sure that like half of the blogs I follow are Australian. Nothing wrong with that, but I’m American. I found one Australian blogger and that just led to more of them. I’ve looked for tags like “writing” and such, but I don’t want to follow blogs about poetry, I want to follow blogs similar to my own. The blogs wordpress suggests are useless, in my opinion. I don’t want to follow a blog with 10,000 followers. What are the chances of actually starting a conversation when 100 other people comment on their posts as well?

4. Why people keep trying to buy my kidney.

I’m not joking. And most of the comments get sent to spam. These are all ones that made it through.

5. Why so many writers write blog posts in purple prose.

My fingers caress the keyboard as my thoughts dictate the keystrokes of this post. The cars pass by my apartment as unaware of my life as I am of theirs, paths crossing but never intertwining. The small red line snakes under the word, and they greet each other like old friends. It is apparent that I am unable to correctly spell the word intertwining on my own. My face crumbles. Even as a writer, I struggle to arrange my letters in the correct order dictated by the dictionary.

I just… don’t get it. I’m want to read you blog for information, not poetry about your cup of coffee or your recent publisher rejection. I try to be eloquent, yeah, but sometimes being eloquent means saying, “I’m done with this shit.” It’s all about getting your point across while making it easy for the reader to understand… and that means no waxing lyrics about the deep web of depression that a spider of grief spun from your heart when your favorite novel series ended.

6. Whether or not my blog matters.

Is this something the rest of you have trouble with? As an author, I would love it if my blog promoted my book like crazy and I got rich, but that’s not really why I’m doing this. Now I just want to connect with other writers and share advice. I want to be able to help others who had the same self-publishing problems as I did, or to get marketing advice for someone who’s been self-published for a few years now. I expect my blog to keep growing, but how much will the numbers matter? Will I continue finding followers who interact with my blog, or more “I’m a hot model/musician/actor who’s following everyone I find, buy my stuff!”

What confuses you about blogging?

 

I quit my job

How I thought it would be.

How I thought it would be.

I could say it was to pursue my love of writing, but that would be slanting the truth. If you’ve never worked at a fast food job, you can’t believe how incredibly stressful it can be.

Yesterday I had to go home early because I was sick, and my manager said I didn’t work again till Friday. Then, at 10 AM today, my other manager called to ask where I was. I hurried in and ended up being 15 minutes late, but we didn’t get any customers until after 11 so it wasn’t a big deal.

Between the time I came in and when we got busy, someone called in sick. My manager asked me if I could stay and cover for her. Until 10:30. PM. That would be twelve and a half hours working minimum wage, no overtime, after I asked to work short shifts because my feet are still healing from surgery. She honestly seemed pissed when I said I couldn’t, and said that I at least owed them for the time I was late, so I should stay an extra hour and a half. I said fine and went back to working.

However, then someone complained about his fries all being “raw.” He demanded that he be refunded for his entire combo, sandwich and drink included. Even though he’d already eaten his sandwich and drank his drink. His wife used to work there, and she explained the situation to the manager as if he deserved to have his entire meal discounted rather than a fresh batch of fries. When they left, their table was a mess and I had to move it back to its original place. This kind of thing happens all the time. What’s worse is that she used to work there, and she still did it.

Keep in mind that at this point, it’d been 18 or so hours since I’d eaten anything because I had some kind of stomach flu, so I’m already not in a good mood.

Then my manager snapped at me for something stupid, like not having 6 hands to be able to take orders, make drinks, and bag the food all at once, so I just decided that I was going to quit and walk out as soon as the lunch rush was over. I cleaned trays until only a few people were left in the dining room, told her I was going, and walked out. No dramatically throwing down my apron or storming out, I just handed her my name tag and left through the back door to avoid my coworkers. Then I went to Goodwill because on Sundays they give student discounts.

How it actually was.

How it actually was.

So now I will have more time for reading and writing, since it is unlikely that I’ll get another job before school lets out. My parents weren’t overly upset that I quit, so that’s good, and I’ll still have my job back home to go to once I graduate. Also, two people bought my book today, so things are looking up! I just need to multiply that by like 20 a day and I’ll be able to cover rent and groceries just fine.