Book Blog Newbie Tag!

I’m not exactly new to the blogging world (I’ve had this blog for about two years, and had another one prior to that), but I adore tags. Plus I haven’t always blogged about books. My dear friend Sarah Campbell tagged me in this several weeks ago, but because I was so busy preparing for–and then going on–vacation I’m just now getting to it~

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Q1. Why did you start this blog?

I love books and sharing my thoughts on them. Plus I wanted to have a place to chronicle my writing journey and, to some extent, my spiritual explorations with those who might be interested. Writing has always been a way for me to make sense of the world, and having a place to write publicly like this was always appealing to me.

Q2. What are some fun and unique things you can bring to book blogging?

I tend to view the books I read (fiction and nonfiction) through a Pagan, queer, and feminist perspectives. Given that I am all three of those things, I read a wide selection of things and will always speak up if something does one of those areas exceptionally well or very poorly I will note it.

Q3. What are you most excited about this new blog?

I love sharing my love of books and writing with the world. Also my adventures.

Q4. Why do you love reading?

Books allow me to escape into a different world. I can be anyone or do anything all without leaving my living room. That’s the magic in them. We can live a completely different life than we actually have, see how another person lives, do things we’re scared to do. There’s nothing quite as enthralling as getting lost in a book.

Q5. What book or series got you into reading?

Geez, I’m not really sure. As a child of four or five my dad would read me stories like The Black Cauldron and Slip The Otter Finds a Home. My grandma read me Melinda Belinda all the time. I’ve been in love with books since before I can really remember. The first series I really followed was the Circle of Three by Isobel Bird, but I’d read tons of stand alones before that.

Q6. What questions would you ask your favourite authors?

All of the cliche ones like “what inspired _____?”, but also “What is your writing process?”. Because as a fellow writer I’m kind of obsessed with hearing about other writers processes and writing habits.

Q7. What challenges do you think starting a blog will be the hardest to overcome?

Honestly? Just letting people know that it exists. In all honesty, there are so many blogs out there and it’s really easy to get drowned in the sea of them. Finding a way to let people know this place exists will be like an ant climbing a mountain. But that’s okay. I started this blog partially for selfish reasons (see question 1~).

Q8. When did you start reading?

I kind of already answered this a couple questions ago I guess. Though I suppose I started reading on my own (without someone reading to me) as soon as I learned how to.

Q9. Where do you read?

Oh geez, anywhere! There is no one specific place. Though I admit, reading on the beach this past week was quite fun! I suppose the place I wind up the most is on my couch with a blanket, coffee, and my kitten~ ❤

Q10. What kind of books do you like to read?

Just about anything and everything. I admit to preferring books with LGBT characters and/or Pagan characters. But I read just about anything–YA, adult romance, spiritual nonfiction, etc.

Now comes the part when I’m supposed to tag someone. But in all honesty, I tag whoever reads this and wants to do it!

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Full Moon Blessings!

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August Goals!

So, I decided to leave Youtube. No big reason why. I’ll still be around there commenting on various videos and talking with people I met there and follow. I just fell out of love with the video-making work, and honestly I’d rather put that creative energy into blog posts or fiction writing. It’s just more my jam.

However, one of the videos I used to make every month was a monthly goal video. It helped keep me on track and to somehow be held accountable. So, instead of making a video, I thought I’d try making a blog post! This month I took it super light because my partner’s birthday is this month, and we are taking our first real Adult Vacation together. I wanted to allow myself to enjoy the vacation and not be bogged down by tasks I needed to complete.

I have 9 goals whereas usually I give myself around 13. This month’s are as follows:

1. Photograph Full Moon above the ocean

2. Read 2 books

3. Write Full Moon Ritual

4. Outline Pagan Poetry Collection

5. Write 5 poems

6. Make 5 blog posts

7. Have at least 5 No Spend days

8. Brainstorm Samhain story

9. Write Sea Priestess Prayers

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By The Light of a Candle’s Flame

Today (technically tonight and tomorrow–from sunset to sunset) is one of my beloved flameshifts for my patron Goddess, Brigid. So, in light of that, I decided to share several little updates about the creative things I have going on in my life~ ❤

~ The other day my partner and I made candles. I made one in particular for use specifically on flameshifts. It’s scented with a mix of Rose and Vanilla, and is housed in a jar that was originally home to Loganberry jam. I bring up the jam because if you ever get the chance to try it, I highly recommend it. It’s quite delicious~

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~ I’ve been reading  A Court of Mist and Fury and loving it. If you haven’t read this series yet, I highly recommend it. I’m about halfway through this book (which is the second in the series) and find it very hard to put down. I’m blowing through it at record speed for me, and soon will pick up the third and final installment and likely blow through it as well.

~ In other reading news, a friend lent me a copy of Grave Peril by Jim Butcher. I’ve never read any of the Dresden Files, but have wanted to for awhile. So I am also reading that. I’m not very far in, but so far I am quite enjoying it.

~ I have been participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month, though when I first signed up my plan was to work on my Pagan Poetry collection. I had set myself the goal of 15 poems this month. It wound up turning into 30 as the Camp NaNo website won’t let you set a goal smaller than that. However, I started writing this cute little fantasy story just after the first of the month and find myself routinely drawn to it. So earlier this week I decided to change my Camp NaNo focus (and my July goal regarding Camp NaNo) to “Write 30 pages of the lesbian fantasy story”. I do still want to write a few poems, but admittedly I’m really into this story. (The title I have listed on the Camp NaNo website is a bullshit one that is just meant to be a place holder.)

~ Why a page count instead of word count? Because I’m handwriting this story. For awhile now I’ve found it difficult to write any fiction, and it’s largely because I keep getting hung up on word counts. In addition, a story idea slammed into me while I was out and about and therefore not around my computer. Instead of waiting until I got home, I just pulled out my notebook and started writing. It’s been helping me get back to writing more, and I haven’t wanted to change much as I don’t want to break the thing that is fixing the thing that was actually broken.

~ In addition, I am also considering doing the #30DaysMagicalRoots challenge in August. I’ve been wanting to talk a little bit more about my spiritual practice, and I’m really getting back into my practice and infusing my life more with magic, and I think that would be an excellent way to help myself develop it more.

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Book Review: Jane/John Doe by Blake Everstone

First, the blurb: janjohndoe

A dead body and a lifetime of hiding in the shadows.Scott has a secret, one he is desperate to keep. Coming from an abusive childhood, Scott worked to make a new life and start again, but a late night call threatens to destroy it all. The body of a transwoman is discovered, but was it suicide or murder? Join Scott as he tries to put the pieces of the puzzle together and solve the mystery. Scott is forced to face his own demons and learn to trust those closest to him.

Spoilers lie ahead. If you care about that sort of thing.

Jane/John Doe is a sweet little story about an investigator looking into a murder. Yeah, that about sums it up. There isn’t much else that goes on in this novella. It’s not bad. It just feels…lacking? In several ways.

Scott, our determined investigator, is called to the scene of a crime. The victim is a transwoman, and it’s originally ruled a suicide. Except Chase Riley–the girl you’d think would be Scott’s love interest, but isn’t–is there already investigating and has somehow come to the conclusion that it was a homicide. The two start looking into things.

Now, the overall investigation part of this is entertaining. As far as murder mysteries go, I have very few issues with this story. It’s in the protagonist’s story that my issues start to arise.

Scott’s love interest in Chloe, the medical examiner. Except, other than being entranced by her green eyes, I’m not sure why he likes her. They have so few interactions, and haven’t ever even been out on a date or anything, and yet he fantasizes about her. It’s only at the end that he actually asks her out. And she says yes. Except…I’m not sure why she likes him either. None of their interactions suggest to me that they would be more than friendly coworkers.

Then there’s Scott’s past. He routinely flashes back to when he was abused as a child, but that doesn’t seem to play any part into the story. Nothing about it plays into the story. No one from those memories show up. There isn’t any big reveal that comes from the flash backs, nor do they come at inopportune times that would add tension to the story. They are just…there. In all honesty, they feel more like filler than anything else.

There is also nothing forcing Scott to come out as a transman, though I think Everstone wants it to feel like there is. The victim is a transwoman…and that somehow makes Scott feel like he needs to tell Chase he’s a transman. I suppose because they have to visit a clinic and a therapist that specializes in trans issues, but having him come out while sitting in a truck when Chase is barely awake feels…anticlimactic.

Though I do have to give Everstone props for having a trans protagonist to begin with! Unfortunately not many books exist that have even a trans character, let alone a trans protagonist. So I definitely am glad for this. The whole book just felt like it needed tightening up.

Of all my issues with this book though, my biggest one is the way the murderer was caught. It felt very rushed, and the actual criminal wasn’t ever even mentioned until he clocks Scott over the head and ties him up. There was no mention of him anywhere at all. And then, it turned out to not be just him, but also his father…except we find out about all of this “off screen”. Chase fills Scott in on all of this after he wakes up from blacking out. It’s not shown, it’s just “oh, this guy thought since this other guy was caught it was just over”. Which, I suppose in a way was believable, but…the one time the father had been in a scene it didn’t feel like he would just “give up” and admit everything he’d done.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who likes murder mysteries and wants more diverse characters–especially trans characters.  If you enjoy these things, I encourage you to pre-order it today!

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NYC Pride 2017; Or, Why Pride Is Important

I went to Pride today and came home with a lot of mixed emotions.34694247344_77ce1221f9_z

Pride is always a thing that means a lot to me, but I always have questioned why it means to much to me. I usually hate parades, and Times Square on a normal weekday was enough to give me a panic attack. NYC Pride is like Times Square on New Year’s Eve–jam packed to the point where you can’t really even move. Yet every year I look forward to it and absolutely refuse to miss it. Today while there I came to the conclusion that part of the reason why Pride is so damn important to me is because I’ve been told over and over in my life that being any flavor of LGBTQ is wrong. I tried to come out to my mom when I was about 16 and she told me “not in my house”. I hate to think what would have happened to me if I didn’t just let it drop and go back into the closet (at least where my family was concerned). I’m surrounded now by people who 98% of them are part of the LGBTQ community, so I don’t have to hide that I’m attracted to other girls anymore. But I don’t always feel like I can talk about that part of me, or that I can show it.

As someone in a relationship with someone who presents as (and was born as) the opposite gender I never feel okay being all “YEAH, I’M QUEER!”. It’s hard for me to even talk to anyone about it really. So this part of me that is actually an important part of me and that I spend a lot of time thinking about just gets sectioned off and kept in this nice little box. The only time it really gets to open up is when writing stories…

And at Pride.

35535603415_99a6e2abda_zAt Pride I can just be me. I can wear a million rainbows and I don’t have to worry about getting scoffed at if I look at another lady. I nearly cry every year at Pride because of this. Because it’s one of the few places where I feel like I can really embrace my queerness. At home my desk is surrounded by rainbows, and I wear two (rather inconspicuous) Pride bracelets all the time. Sometimes I add a third, very much more noticeable, Pride bracelet. For those times when I want to be more visible (or really, visible at all). So I’m never really “hiding”. But it’s still really nice to just be Loud and Proud with other members of my community.

The other reason I came away from Pride with mixed emotions is because, while I very much enjoyed myself and all, I didn’t enjoy it this year as much as previous years. I’d chalk it up to just getting older, but the truth is it was largely due to the way NYC had sectioned off ways to get to the parade. Once you’re on the parade route, if you get off of it, it’s damn hard to get back to it. I had to get off the route in order to go to the bathroom, but they only left two, maybe three, walkways up to the parade route and so each one was so incredibly clogged with people that walking anywhere (and then afterwards finding a suitable spot you can see from) was impossible. In years past you could walk up any street and pretty easily find a place to watch from. This year was completely different.

Because of this I wound up missing a lot of the parade itself. Once I was off the parade route I couldn’t deal with trying to get through the mass of people to find a spot again. So I didn’t get to see the Orlando tribute they did, or the Wizards of the Coast dragon, or really anything that happened after the first half hour or so. I actually wound up coming home early because I just didn’t see the point is staying if I couldn’t even see the parade. The probably did this because of the current political climate or something to do with safety, but it did really put a damper on my good time.

The road closings didn’t ruin my time enough that I won’t return next year. I most definitely will. The more I go the more I realize how important the space and time of Pride is to me and to the community as a whole. Especially with what we have in office now.

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On Shelving LGBT Books

I was in Word Bookstores the other day to price the next novel in the series that I’m reading and noticed they had an endcap dedicated completely to LGBT authors and 19228914_1909548795968371_7131675044752654336_nbooks. It brought up the same internal (and sometimes external) debate I’ve had for awhile now.

I’ve thought a lot about how to shelve LGBT books–whether to give them their own section or just integrate them in with all the other books. And I think I’ve finally come to a decision on that.

While I agree that there should be an even 50/50 split of books (gay vs straight) in every book store, I think my final position in this matter is that I prefer LGBT books to have their own section. Just because it makes them easier to find.

As a teen who was questioning her sexuality I would comb the shelves for LGBT books and come away empty handed. That is until I found the LGBT section. Then I had books galore to read (though admittedly a lot of them at the time were porn, which I didn’t really want). Even these days it can be hard to find a book with a lesbian MC in the store unless you know authors to look for. But if you’re looking for a book with a queer character for the first time it can be really daunting and very disheartening. My search when I was a teen led me to believe LGBT books just didn’t exist and that saddened me.

So I think until a time comes that we truly have a 50/50 split of straight and queer literature, it’s better to have a section where LGBT books are prominently displayed. (Note that I say prominently. I don’t mean some dark corner of the bookstore.) As bookstores often stock more than one copy of a book–especially more popular books–it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if they put one of those copies on the shelves with the straight fiction.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

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