It’s December…which means cold weather…which means an extra excuse to go into the bookstore when your friends are shopping to…get warm…and get coffee and cookies ::cough cough:: I’ll only be five minutes. I promise.
I love books, obviously, but I also love going into bookstores just as much. There’s just *something* about the entire experience. Whether it’s the smell (the lovely smell of Starbucks and new books) or being around fellow book lovers, I love it all. I cannot wait until the next time I go on a trip to the store. So much so that I’m slightly weary of ordering online. Even though it’s convenient, I want *that* moment. Hell, I’ll make a whole night out of it. Bookstores bring a lot of peace to my life, so before I share what going into a bookstore is like, I want to share my Barnes & Noble. They bring a lot of love to my little writer’s life…and this is exactly how it plays out.
Oh! Look. A Barnes & Noble.
I’m just…going to step in for a…minute. Just a minute.
It smells like cookies in here.
Until I eat all of them, that is.
And coffee! I need both.
Especially after that Barnes & Noble Membership discount.
I’m never going to leave.
Okay. Books. I want all of them.
Time to get serious. This is what you came here for.
This is where your plan comes into action. You know your plan. It starts at new fiction, wraps around the young adult, circles to the poetry, and ends at memoirs.
Okay. So maybe not that book.
Just not for me. That was…something though.
There’s seeing a book you’ve been wanting.
Yep. The entire staff just heard you squeal.
They also saw you dance while you waited for someone else to move out of the way.
And there’s seeing the book you’ve been waiting over a year to release.
Sweet Jesus. Yep. They definitely saw and heard you again.
You try to apologize, but everyone understands.
We all have an inner Matilda.
In fact, you might just read it right now
But bookstores close…so you have to leave…
I’ll just get one. Or two. Or…screw it. I want all of these.
But when you get home, you have your favorite place to read.
Does anything get any better than this?
Also, because we’re sharing gifs and other funny moments, I just did an interview with YouTuber Drew C. Ryan on his channel The awkWORD. (A hilarious channel by the way.) We talked about fandoms, video games, Disney, Sailor Moon, and more! Check it out.
Back in the day—way back when—Goodreads didn’t exist, and I’m pretty sure (maybe not) Amazon didn’t even have a rating system for books. It was just Barnes & Noble and Borders, but mainly Barnes & Noble for me (R.I.P. Borders). I’m talking about the mid-90s. I used to buy all of my books from the store. (Okay. So my mom used to buy all my books from the store.) There was no Kindle, and there weren’t many book blogs out there, and if there were, they definitely weren’t like they are today. I actually remember sitting at my Komodo computer and scrolling the Internet, hoping to find somewhere to review books and I couldn’t find a website.
So, I reviewed books on Microsoft PowerPoint. (Something I just had a conversation about with author, Jonas Lee, so I must mention him in this article for sparking this idea in me. Thanks, Jonas!) It’s been over a decade since my PowerPoint presentation days. (A presentation that I used to show every weekend to my stuffed animals. What can I say? I moved around a lot. My toys were my friends.) I no longer have that presentation, but I can still see it scrolling through The Magic Tree House series and W.I.T.C.H.—stars flying in and flying out, wicked thick fonts twinkling on the screen before dissipating off. Sometimes, I would get a cartoon sound to line up with everything. It was 90’s perfection.
I loved it. I loved it so much. But years would pass before I ever began to post book reviews again. Why? Well…it’s a bit complicated, but it mainly came down to being an author. Beginning in 2007, I no longer felt like I could review books. I knew exactly how much work went on behind the scenes, after all, and it felt like a conflict of interest to say anything at all. If it was a positive review, someone could think I was just saying that to suck up to another author. If it was a negative review, someone could think I was just trying to tear someone else’s work down. Reviewing novels became a lose-lose situation in my mind, so I stepped away from them.
But I missed reviewing books so much. And I’ve missed them for a long time. Suddenly, I couldn’t stop thinking that I took the wrong approach all those years back when I stepped away from something I love to do—sharing books with whoever was interested.
I’m not a picky reader. I often love everything I read. I can definitely see value in everything I read, and my tastes range from cheesy romances to dark, dystopian sci-fi. I love poetry and memoirs and young adult and even the occasional blush-worthy read. I love everything. I really do. What I read mainly comes down to my mood, but I’ve always enjoyed recommending reads to fellow readers based on what they love the most.
So, I’ve returned. Over the past two months, I’ve been reviewing and updating novels I’m currently reading on Goodreads. You’ll probably never see a 1 or 2 or even a 3 star review from me, but please don’t get me wrong. I just rarely dislike novels, and if I do dislike novels, I am more likely to put it down than to finish it, and I don’t feel right reviewing something if I don’t finish it. On top of that, I’ve been focusing on who I would specifically recommend the read too, and it’s been a lot of fun! I’ve been connecting with readers more, and I love talking to everyone about how they feel about novels or what novels they have on their TBR list. I finally feel like a reader again. I’ve always been reading, of course, but reading is always better when you’re reading with friends. (And I’m so glad I’ve found reading friends that aren’t stuffed animals.) So, you can expect more reviews from me on Goodreads. Feel free to tell me about what you’re reading too! I would love to hear your recommendations. Just comment below—::wink::—and we’ll start reading together soon.
P.S. Don’t forget! Three paperbacks will be given away on Goodreads this Tuesday, June 23 (a.k.a. my 24th birthday. What better way to celebrate than by giving away book gifts?) Click here to enter! Expect even more prizes soon.
Our most recent contest via Twitter just ended today! Congrats goes out to Kathy-Lynn Cross, the winner of the signed bookmark! Follow her @KathyLynnCross today.
Recently—and by “recently” I mean a month ago—I posted this photo on my Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, and . . . well, pretty much anywhere on the Internet that I have an account on. To my surprise, (and still to my confusion), I received a bit a slack for this. It was a Wednesday afternoon, fairly nice outside, and due to the events of my day, I ended up in my hometown with one of my best friends. When it started raining, we ducked into a bookstore, and I couldn’t help myself. I bought a book—Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan to be exact—and some sticky notes for work since my stockpile was dwindling. The caption of my photo read, “Silly rain. Forcing me to hide in a bookstore to collect books until the sun came out.”
I didn’t think anything of it. I simply thought, “Hey! I am having fun. This has to do with reading, and I bet my readers would enjoy sharing this moment with me.” Because that’s what I think every time I post something—I think about how much fun it is to share these bits and pieces of my life with my wonderful followers. I don’t think much beyond that. So, I guess that’s why I was so surprised when I received a message, stating that I was adding to the misguidance of the industry and how authors live—how our lives actually are and how much of a struggle it is to be a writer—that I was adding to the “problem”, to the mirage of authordom.
And this is my open letter to you, dear sir, about that photo and my life as an author.
First and foremost, social media is up to the individual controlling that social media. No one else. I share what I choose to share, and I choose to share my fun and delightful moments. That goes to say that I’ve often—more often than not—discussed many difficult aspects of my life on my blog, particularly my mother’s death and my college roommate’s death. I’ve discussed moving around a lot as a child and finding myself creating stories and characters to make up for my lack of real human connection. I’ve confessed to doubting everything, and I’ve strived to remind myself (and my readers) why we write . . . which is always because I love to write and read. All of these topics have been on my blog. Numerous times. Throughout almost three years of blogging. But I’m assuming you’re judging me based on one or two photos posted during the afternoon. I know which ones you’re looking at. After all, I’m the one who shares all the moments of coffee, cats, and books. And guess what? That is my life. But it isn’t my whole life, and by no means have I ever expressed that “I do this every day.” Take this photo for instance. At no point does it state, “Here I am on my daily afternoon walk, just buying a dozen books for me to read this week.” In fact, I only bought one . . . with a gift card that my older brother bought me for Christmas . . . five months before this photo was taken . . . five months in which I saved that card just for the perfect moment to buy a novel on a day I needed some cheering up.
You see, back in January, I lost my car and my job, and I had to move to another state. (Something I openly discussed on my blog, by the way.) And ever since January, I’ve been building myself back up. On the very day this very photo was taken, I had finally saved up enough to buy a car, and I did, but I was broke afterward. That gift card was then used to help me buy office supplies (the sticky notes) that I had run out of, and I happened to see a novel I really wanted. Did I have to buy it then? No. Of course not. But it was a way of reminding myself that I am proud of how much I saved from my hard work and how far I’ve come in the five months since hitting rock bottom. My car was a long-needed necessity. This novel was a reward for the five months I’ve worked and saved and walked without one.
Why didn’t I put that story as my caption? Well, aside from the fact that it would be the longest caption in the world, the caption was my decision—and my decision was to express how much fun I was having and how much fun I wanted to share with my readers.
By no means was I trying to portray myself as an author who spends their days browsing bookstores. By no means was I trying to pretend I could afford every book left and right. By no means was I trying to prove something at all. I was just being me. I was just sharing me. By stating authors have to share ugly moments of their lives, we’re stating something ridiculous—that we assume they don’t have human lives—and that is a ridiculous presumption to have about anyone.
There is ugliness in everyone’s life, but I choose to focus on the happy moments, and I want my readers to know that they can have fun and encouragement when they come to me. I choose to share laughter and coffee and silly cats and paperbacks slung over my shoulder. I choose to post only when I’m smiling too—because I want to smile with my readers. I want my readers to feel encouraged when they come to me, not discouraged, and that is my choice, just like sharing my emotions around my mother’s death is my choice. I am not perfect, and I do not pretend to be, but no one should assume that about me either. Authors are human, after all, but not every detail of my life needs to be publicized all across the web (even though a large portion of it is).
Take my cats for instance. They’ve stared in my YouTube channel. They’ve done interviews on my blog. They’ve popped up on my Instagram and even shown their kitty faces on my Twitter. I love them, and since I work at home, I spend a lot of time around them. I share them in the grass, on the couch, while they are sleeping and playing. I make cartoons with them and pose with them and cuddle with them all the time (sometimes even when I don’t want to cuddle). And when I share them, people have fun—because most people love animals—and I have fun—because most people have shared their pets with me—and it’s a fun way to connect and relate to one another as friends instead of Internet strangers. I’d even like to exchange photos of my pets with you. But if you really want to see the ugly moments instead, I’d be more than happy to send you photos of me cleaning out the litter box instead of my three cats cuddling on the couch. (Just kidding, of course . . . I think.)