Monday, June 18, 2018

With or Without Passion

Greetings Pups,

I decided to check this blog the other day and I saw that I haven't posted since Memorial Day. And in the interim, I haven't really even thought about this blog of mine. That made a question arise in my mind - Have I lost my passion for this? Then, another question - Should I even do this if I have?

Don't get me wrong. I know there are a ton of things we do in life without passion. But those tend to be the things we have to do, whether we like it or not. This blog, however, is not something I am required to, nor have I ever been. Perhaps, if my Patreon would have taken off . . . But I digress. My point is, I have always written this blog just for fun. I started off with that intention and I have kept it. True, I wanted to share my opinions on trivial pop culture things and things that lean more in the direction of high art. I wanted to share things about my life, the good and the bad, and maybe even inspire or encourage people along the way. And yes, I'll admit it, I was hoping that the writing I did on here might lead to bigger and better things as far as my career goes. But in the end, I just wanted it to be something I could do and enjoy.

After a while, that is exactly what it became. I did enjoy writing this blog, and soon enough, I even became passionate about it. I worked hard when I put these posts together, some times more than others, but I really cared about what I was giving to the public. After a while, though, I stopped caring as much. I would just post things that I threw together at the last minute and I'm not sure they were up to any kind of standard. And that makes me disappointed in myself. As I've often said, I know I don't have a ton of readers who come here, but I am extremely grateful for those who do. And I do NOT want to give any of those people crap to read, not when they take their valuable time to see what I'm doing. It's not fair, and frankly, it's disrespectful to them. To you, who are reading this right now. If I'm going to write something for people to read, whether it's my books or this or anything I put out there, I want it to be the best it can be. And I'm not sure if I've been doing that lately.

So, the question arises again, should I keep doing this if I have no passion to do it? For now, I think the answer is no. Now, I have not lost my passion for writing at all. In fact, it has been all the work I've been doing on my numerous other writing projects that have kept me away from this blog on a regular basis. And I tried. I tried to get on a set schedule for my posts, but then, it became something of a chore. A chore that I felt obligated to do, rather than something I had a great time doing, which was once the case. And while I do consider all of my writing to be my job and the most important work of my life, all the other writing I've been doing has also been very fulfilling. This? Not so much.

Therefore, I've made a decision where this blog is concerned. I am not quitting it. But I will only post when I have something to say. When I want to tell you all about a book or a movie or some music or anything, I will write on it again. I want this blog to be good for the people who are kind enough to read it. I want to give them the best I can do. So, the times when I am able to do that, the times when I can put my heart and soul into something, those are the times that I will write.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, May 28, 2018

Don't Forget to Remember

Greetings Pups,

Happy Memorial Day!

I thought I would take this opportunity to very quickly say a few words about this holiday so we, myself included, don't take forget what it really means. I love the fact that this day has been set aside so we can be reminded to, not only remember those who have sacrificed themselves for the freedoms we enjoy, but also honor them. While I do hope that we all take some time to really do that, I know this day is filled with other things as well. Of course, I've seen all those memes about how it's not just about having a barbecue, which is true, but those celebrations, I think, can lend themselves to the more important meaning of the day.

Obviously, as I said, Memorial Day is when we remember those who have died in service of our country. As a strong supporter of our troops, I've always taken this day to do just that, more so than I usually do. But there is something else we can do, and this is where those gatherings with family and friends comes in. We really should take this day to celebrate the lives that we have and who is in them. By remembering those who are gone, we can remember to not take for granted that we are still here. One of the best ways to do that is by enjoying life, living it to the fullest and using every moment we have to make things around us better.

While I personally know a few people, family included, who have served in some branch of the military, I have never had to go through the pain of losing someone because of it. For those who have, I can't even imagine how hard this day must be for them. But I hope that, even as they let themselves grieve, they remember that they are still here to carry on the legacy and the memory of the ones they have lost and to embrace life all that they can. And I pray that their hearts are comforted today and always.

So, as we celebrate this day, I hope we can do it for many important reasons, by celebrating life, the ones of those that are gone and the ones that we still have.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, May 21, 2018

How To Admire a Writer

Greetings Pups,

Here's the thing. I have no delusions of grandeur when it comes to my success as a writer. I am well aware that I have not really been successful at all, and I have learned to accept that. It sucked for a while, but considering my plans for repackaging and reinventing, perhaps it is best that there aren't a lot of my books in circulation out there. And whilst I am grateful for everyone who has acknowledged my work, I know I don't have some kind of huge fandom. That is also okay with me. More than okay, as a matter of fact. Mostly I feel that way because I think there are some people out there who don't know how to be a proper fan, or more accurately, a proper admirer. Not all, but some.

I've noticed this quite a bit in the community of people who claim to love books and the writers who create them, and many of them are fiercely loyal. Sometimes, TOO fiercely, but that's another discussion. Still, even when they love a book or a writer, they are often willing to give criticisms, which is very good, and I think most writers will agree with me. Now, whilst I don't mind if you just straight up tell me that you think my writing is awful, as it is your opinion and I never EVER want to silence anyone for having an opinion, I do prefer constructive criticism, because I'm always looking to improve myself and that can be very helpful. So, I consider critiques something to be welcomed, again, as I'm sure most writers do.

However, there is something I've noticed getting mixed in with said critiques. Sometimes it's underlying; sometimes it's blatant. And that something is trying to tell writers what they should be writing. "Grrr" times ten. Yes, there are few things more annoying to a writer than a bunch non-writers telling us what to write. I've been seeing this a lot lately, A LOT, and it is awful, especially when it comes from people who say they love books and those who create them.

Honestly, if you say you love a writer, why are you trying to change who they are and what they do? And even if you DON'T love them, why? It is not your place to do this. When it comes to expressing what you want to see in books, giving an opinion is one thing, but telling specific authors what their content should be is just too much. And practically shaming them because they didn't write what YOU think they should have written? I can't even. If you think a book should have certain types of characters or tell certain types of stories or have certain types of messages, then go write that yourself. OR find someone with books that contain every item on your literary checklist. Do not - DO NOT! - tell a writer what to write. It is extraordinarily disrespectful to do so. If you don't like what they're doing, don't read it. Simple as that. Don't dictate what they do or how they work, because you risk making them into a different artist altogether.

If I may mention something as an example, I recently watched an interview with Donna Tartt. If you don't know who Donna Tartt is, she is a very successful and well-loved writer, who, from 1992 to 2013, only published three novels. Many people are not happy about this, because they really love her writing and they want more of it, obviously. And they probably think she should write faster, something I am certain they are not silent about. Well, in this interview, she mentioned that, at one point, she tried, really tried, to write faster, and you know what? She didn't like it. She didn't enjoy writing when she was doing it at this pace that didn't suit her. So she stopped and went back to her routine. And God bless her for that, because changing her process would have made her a different writer and made her produce different work. Work that would not truly please anyone, least of all herself, because it would not have been a proper representation of who she is. And that would have been tragic.

Now let me reiterate something, as I feel it is necessary. I do not have an issue with criticism. In fact, I think writers should listen to it, whether it comes from fans or fellow artists, because you never know what you might hear that might help. But no writer should ever let anyone dictate their imagination. It does a disservice to everyone, to the craft and to the story that wants to be told. And as far as the fans go, if you love a writer, love them for who they are, not what you think they should be, or just don't love them at all. The bottom line is this. Find good books. Read good books. Love good books. And just let everything else go.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, May 14, 2018

Inspired To Kill - TV Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

Everyone knows I love a good movie about writers. What you may not know is that I also love Lifetime movies. Now what do you think happens when you put those two things together? That's right. You get a very happy ME! So, I decided to pick one of the writer/Lifetime movies to discuss here today, and the winner is . . . Inspired to Kill. Get it? Inspired? Because writing! Also, someone is probably going to die. Let's do this.

Inspired To Kill is a 2017 TV movie about a woman named Kara, played by Karissa Lee Staples. After a personal tragedy, she decides to move far from home to get a fresh start and also pursue a career as a writer. When she arrives, she meets another woman named, Charlie, played Olivia D'Abo (YAY!), who rents Kara a room and gives her a job at her local coffee shop. Kara also meets a myriad of other people, ranging from a nice guy at work named Jason (Matthew Atkinson) to an obnoxious guy at work named Tony (Daniel Booko) to an extremely skeezy professor (Jay Pickett) who teaches her writing class . . . and who wants to teach her other things, apparently. Ick. So, yeah, things are a bit hit or miss with her in the 'new friends' department.

But then one day, by pure chance, she becomes acquainted with a handsome stranger and fellow writer named Paul, played by Antonio Sabato Jr. They immediately hit it off and begin spending all their time together, although, he remains an allusive mystery to all the people in Kara's life. Ironically, at the same time, people start dropping dead around her. Is it a coincidence or is it something more sinister and close to home? Now if there's one thing we've learned in the history of Lifetime movies, it is that we must always be suspicious of the mysterious, handsome stranger and keep him at a safe distance. (And yet, so many Loki fangirls in the world.) But is that answer too obvious? I don't know. I guess you'll have to watch it. Yeah, this is the hard part about reviewing a movie that has a mystery to it. You can only say so much.

I will say, speaking of the plot, I enjoyed the interesting twists, and, whilst variations on said twists may have been done before, I liked the way that they put the whole thing together. I know some people aren't wild about the often predictable conclusions of movies like this, but to be fair, they put in multiple predictable conclusions, so you're constantly going back and forth trying to figure out which one they're gonna use. At least, I was. And the one they chose, I was quite satisfied with.

Along with all that, I also liked the acting here. Everyone did a good job with the material and played their parts well. Obviously, as you can tell by the aforementioned "YAY!", I love me some Olivia D'Abo, and I was really impressed by the young leading lady, Karissa Lee Staples, who I had never seen in anything before, but now I'm kind of interested in seeing what else she can do. Oh, and if these two don't do another movie wherein they play sisters or something, I will be very upset. Because they look SO MUCH alike.

Inspired to Kill is pretty much everything you want in a Lifetime movie. It's fun and entertaining and a bit over the top at moments. But again, that's what we want. And it's about writers, which just adds another sprinkle of awesome. So, if you're into these kind of movies, this is definitely one you'll want to check out.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, May 7, 2018

Tale Foundry - YouTube Channel Review

Greetings Pups,

There are a million stories out there that have been told a million times over the years, the decades, the centuries. Most of us have heard them all and might have trouble finding interest in them anymore, even if the stories themselves remaining interesting. Therefore, we must rely on the special ones among us to find a new and creative way to relay those stories to the masses and make us embrace them and get lost in them once again. Enter Tale Foundry.

"If fiction were a material, we would be its manufacturing plant."

This quote appears on the Patreon page for Tale Foundry, and I would say it's pretty darn accurate, especially after I've watched and listened to so much of their work. This is another of the YouTube channels that I inadvertently came across whilst I was looking for other things. Probably urban legend stuff and whatnot. Anyway, one of their videos came up on under "Recommended" and I decided to give it a shot.

Well, I am so glad I did that, because I'm so delighted by what I found. I'm always delighted when I find people who embrace creativity and ingenuity the way that this channel has done. And it's hard, especially now, to be so imaginative and original with our ideas, but they have certainly managed to do that.

So, let me explain how things work at The Foundry. They generally do three part series and also some list videos, both on specific subjects. And if you've read this blog, you know I love me a good list. Anyway, they choose a topic, something from literature or a mythos or folklore from a certain country or whatever they want, and they create three videos. In the first two, they tell you and show you all the information they can on the chosen topic of the day, obviously through words and some artwork. In the third video, they share an original short story inspired by said topic. And that is why I love this channel so much.

There are so many places on the internet that you can go and find facts about whatever subject you want, but they can often be a bit dry and cold. Tale Foundry has found a way to do the exact opposite of that, but, by way of the short stories they write, they also are showing us how we can be inspired by what has come before us. And, as a writer, I find that to be an extremely valuable.

Now I suppose I should discuss the visual asthetics of Tale Foundry, as they are videos to be looked at. They seem to have kind of a steampunk thing going on, with muted, sepia tones and some images of cogs, which I love, by the way. They also have some artwork in there, as I mentioned, which has a bit of simplicity to it at some points, but when you look closer, it can go deeper. Basically, a lot of it is the epitome of the idea that it takes a lot of effort to make something look effortless. And then, there's the robot that we get to see. Yes, I said robot and he's awesome. He tells us the stories from the actual factory that is Tale Foundry, where he works with a few "humans". I think I got all that right, but just to be safe, go and check it out for yourself. Having said that, I'll wrap up this little review.

I love people who love to be creative and who just dive headfirst into it. Tale Foundry is exactly that. They have grabbed hold of their imaginations and turned them up to eleven. You can see how much heart and soul and effort and work goes into what they do, and as a fellow artist, I am so appreciative of that. I think there's a lot of flippancy in the world of content creators, and so many of them seem to not care very much about what they put out. Well, that is not the case with this channel. They clearly care and love what they do. And for this reason, I have chosen to support them in this small way. I do hope that what I've said about Tale Foundry today will inspire you to go and see the amazing work that they are doing.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer


Monday, April 30, 2018

National Poetry Month 2018 - A Wrap Up

Greetings Pups,

Well, it's the final day of April and, therefore, the final day of National Poetry Month. I know I've talked about this time of year on quite a few occasions, but I've never done a wrap up of how I, someone who loves, reads and of course, writes poetry, decided to spend this month that centers around it. For some people. Still, at the moment, I have nothing more interesting to share with you all, nor did I have time to go into anything too in depth, thanks to life things, as always. So, we're doing this.

One of the things I decided to do was partake in some poetry that was written by others. When you write your own, you can very easily get wrapped up in that and it may cause you to ignore the work of your fellow artists. So, I thought I'd read a couple of books. One was Blackbird Singing by Paul McCartney, which I reviewed a couple of weeks ago, and That Shining Place by Mark Van Doren, which may or may not have peeked my interest due to the connection to one of my favorite movies, Quiz Show. Go watch it and you'll find out. Another thing I did was visit social media and hit up some hashtags that had to do with poetry, so I could check out what others were posting this month. I must say, I am clearly not the only one to share my work a lot, and there are some decent poets out there. Nice to know that something edifying can spring from Twitter and whatnot.

Speaking of which, I took to my own Instagram to share some of my verses. Every day I did it, as a matter of fact. Here's hoping I didn't annoy anyone, but I did get quite a few likes and some more followers, so thumbs up on that, I suppose. And I must give some thanks for that to a lovely app called TextGram which I have certainly taken advantage of to make my plain little words look all nice and pretty. That's probably the closest I'll ever come to being a visual artist, but you never know.

Finally, I celebrated the month by doing what I do every day - writing. And I continued to work on my latest collection of poetry, polishing and editing and all that. Not to mention that I've been coming up with some song lyrics which are basically the same thing as poetry. Point is, I spent this April fulfilling my calling as a writer, and I think I came up with some decent stuff. Again, some people on the interwebs seem to think I'm not bad at all at this. Though, I still wait for the day when someone important notices me. And by "important", I mean someone with some influence, or possibly minions, who will see my stuff and like it and spread the word about it. I could use the help.

In closing, I enjoyed this go round with National Poetry Month, and I must say, it is nice to see that this whole thing is still being acknowledged. Realizing that there are some people in the world who still appreciate the somewhat archaic thing that I take part in. And remember, my fellow poets, if any of those who surround you turn up their nose and snidely ask why you write what you do, just show them that quote where Tom Hiddleston says he loves poetry, then ask them what THEY can do that a cute boy loves. Mic drop! No, wait. Quill drop!

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Saturday, April 21, 2018

GoodReads Activity

Greetings Pups,

So, I've spent all week talking about books. May as well end said week by talking about a place where many people go to talk about books (for better or worse) GoodReads.

A weird thing happened earlier this year. My author page on the GoodReads finally got a few followers. Of course, I have to credit that with the House of Leaves book club I joined on Facebook, since I posted my link on someone's comment for some reason. I think they were specifically asking for it, though trying to remember at this point would be, well, pointless. So, since I now have some people following me there, I am entertaining the possibility of giving them a reason to do so.

Apparently, one can start a blog on the page that bears their name. I know I already have a blog - this one - but over there I will be forced to talk about books. Believe it or not, I've never actually done a review on that site. Sure, I've given stars many times (still no 1/2 stars!) but I have never written a review of a book on the GoodReads website. Why? I have no idea. Maybe because I was doing it over here. Or maybe because I didn't want certain authors to attack me if I think their book isn't the best thing since War and Peace. Yeah, apparently that's a thing that some authors do, I've heard. I won't mention names, so you can look that up on your own. Rest assured, I am not one of them. Anyway, it can't be the worst idea to spread around my bookish opinions.

Speaking of books and GoodReads and me, I may also have to pull my own books from there very soon. At least those editions. You see, when I am granted some kind of financial miracle, I will be repackaging my past books to make them look a bit more professional, same as with my upcoming books. And by more professional, I mean I may actually seek some outside help from people who know what they're doing. See, when I first self-published, I had no idea what I was doing, and it shows. I still barely know what I'm doing. I think I may have mentioned this before, but as it has been so long since I've posted, I may have understandably forgotten. But hopefully, with some help, many kinds of help, I can pull this off.

So, even though I have my issues with GoodReads (like the 1/2 star thing I mentioned!), it may be a decent idea to take advantage of their services as an author and see if it does any good. Here's hoping. Oh, and happy reading.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Friday, April 20, 2018

Curious Minds by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton - Book Review

Greetings Pups,

There is something extremely comforting about an author that you can trust. Like, when you pick up one of their books, you know what you're going to get, from the quality to the kind of story to how it makes you feel. One writer who fits this description quite well is Janet Evanovich. I've been reading her books for years and I know that I'm always going to have a good time with them.

On occasion, Evanovich has teamed up with other writers. Just last year, I read several installments of the Fox and O'Hare series that she writes with Lee Goldberg, which I love and must get around to reviewing someday. And a couple of years ago, she started another one with Phoef Sutton, the Knight and Moon series. And the first book is the one I'll be discussing today, Curious Minds. And before I forget to mention it, Phoef Sutton? Possibly the best name ever. Moving on.

Curious Minds was released in 2016, and the sub-titular characters are Emerson Knight and Riley Moon. Emerson is a very rich young man, who, in addition to having no shortage of money, has no shortage of eccentricities, who is not exactly tactful when it comes to interacting with people and who is, of course, very handsome. Riley is a graduate of Harvard Law and Business schools, who just started working at a prestigious bank and also has just been charged with checking up on one of their clients. Namely, Emerson.

Right off the bat, Riley is a bit put off by Emerson and his strangeness. But remember, he's handsome, so she also takes notice of that, as well as the way that he likes to have poke a lot of fun at her personality, which runs very much counter to his. Before we know it, we're in the middle of a pretty elaborate plot, with missing gold and missing people, and murder, and conspiracy theories. There's so much . . . stuff, but it's okay, because you just go along for the ride. And it is kind of a crazy ride, helped along by the cast of odd characters that Emerson and Riley come across as they are forced to team up, Scooby Gang style, to solve a pretty big mystery. Oh, and there's also an armadillo. Don't ask. Just read.

I went into this book with high expectations of having a lot of fun, because, as I said, I trust Janet Evanovich. And I certainly did enjoy this book. Especially the characters. Especially Emerson. Yeah, it's official. Much like with the Fox and O'Hare series, the Knight and Moon series has given me yet another book boyfriend. Like I needed another one.

Now, I'd like to talk about how this book is different from others I've read by Evanovich, due to, I think, the collaboration aspect. When I pick up a book by Janet Evanovich, I expect fun. I expect to laugh. I expect something lighthearted but very good. With this series, I got all those things, though not quite as much. The Knight and Moon series, again, much like its predecessor, is a bit more serious than what I expect from this author. Don't get me wrong. She has not done a 180, but there are a few more dark moments and the whole thing is heavier. This is not a bad thing. In fact, I think that all of these aspects put together give the book a very nice balance. So, you're gonna have fun, but you'll also get some tense moments. All of it makes for a pretty entertaining story.

Look, I don't think I have to recommend any books by Janet Evanovich to her fan base and those who haven't read her stuff would probably want to start with the Plum novels. But if you wanna give this one a glance, it's definitely worth it. As of right now, there's only one other book in the series, and I intend to check that one out as well. Hopefully, this is the start of another great literary relationship.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Tori Amos: In the Studio by Jake Brown - Book Review

Greetings Pups,

I have to admit it. I am a bit of a "Behind the Scenes" voyeur. I love knowing what happens behind what happens. It's just one of my things. I am someone who always watches the special features on a DVD and don't even get me started on how a great commentary track can thrill me. And, of course, I gravitate toward books that let me delve into those worlds, too. And that is just the experience I got when I read Tori Amos: In the Studio.

I am a huge admirer of Tori Amos, something I have made abundantly clear here, so that is why I got this book for myself. It was published in 2011 and written by music journalist, Jake Brown, who has written quite a few books like this about various artists and styles of music. And this was so well done that I am seriously considering checking out some more of his work.

In this book, we get some insight into Tori's early life and then we start getting into the musical career. All of it. Including a not so great first album. No, not the acclaimed Little Earthquakes, but something else that true Tori fans know about. It was a pretty low . . . a very low point for her, but it ended up giving her a push to figuring out who she wanted to be as an artist. Mostly, by figuring out what she did NOT want to be. See, that's why we must never fear failures, because they create the steps we climb to our own success. Oh, and when that album came out, some article had referred to her as a bimbo. To which she responded in an interview I once saw, "Fair enough." I love you, Tori.

Anyway, each chapter of this book deals with her individual albums, but it stops just short of Night of Hunters, sadly, as that is my favorite album by Tori. Still, I was so drawn in to what was being written about her work. It goes pretty in depth when it comes to her process and things that inspired her music on each of the projects. And if you know anything about Tori, you'll know that the stories she can tell about her process as an artist and where her ideas come from can be just as intriguing as the songs themselves. So, no surprise, I loved reading everything she had to say about that.

I suppose if I had a complaint it would be that I wished it was longer. Because this is not a long book at all, especially considering how much time it covers and who it covers. It could have been three times longer and I absolutely would not complain about that. There were a lot of quotes and stories from Tori herself, and all of that was interwoven very nicely with the writer's take on everything. So, yes, I would have been happy to read even more of it.

As a music lover, I am always interested in how an artist works and what inspires them, regardless of who the artist is, though I have my favorites. But I would recommend this book to others who enjoy knowing about a songwriter's process, especially if you're a fan of Tori Amos, or are interested in her story. This book was a fascinating read and truly let's you get into the head of the artist, even if it's another artist who is holding open the door.

Love and Full Moons,
Becky the Writer

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova - Book Review

Greetings Pups,

I am someone who very much appreciates the arts, even the type of arts that I don't partake in. Or that I'm not necessarily good at. So, I do enjoy some crossing over of mediums when it comes to that. So, it was inevitable that I would pick up a book by a writer who clearly has an appreciation for the art of painting. It was also inevitable that I would pick up a book by a writer who I have enjoyed in the past. Therefore, after wanting to do so for a very long time, I finally read The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova.

The Swan Thieves is the 2010 follow up to Kostova's wildly successful book, The Historian. A book, mind you, that I have already reviewed and very much enjoyed. Again, her writing delves into history, but this time her focus is more on the world of art, specifically paintings, as I mentioned. The story here starts when a renowned artist, Robert Oliver, is arrested because he nearly attacks a painting in the National Gallery. Subsequently, a psychiatrist named Andrew Marlowe is called in to take over the care of this new patient. While Oliver reveals little to nothing about himself or his motives, Marlowe is forced to dig deeper than he ever has for answers. In his search, he discovers a few people who have had an impact on Oliver, one that would even be considered an obsession to him, and Marlowe realizes that they are as much of a mystery as Oliver himself.

As with her previous novel, Kostova does a bit of time jumping in this, as well as changing perspectives quite a bit. We get the perspective of Marlowe, as well as two women in Oliver's life. Those are the present day stories. But we also are told the story of characters from the far past, through narrative as well as letters, which tie in to the present, and tell a very compelling tale. Interestingly enough, we don't get much of anything from the view of the artist Robert Oliver, which leaves him as much of a mystery to us as to the people around him in the book. But, in regards to all this aforementioned jumping around, it's not that confusing at all. We always know the where, the when and the who.

One more thing that Kostova carried over from The Historian is her attention to details. Her books are very detailed and that lends itself to the descriptions and the actual writing. The good news here is that all those details didn't bog down the progression of the story as much as it could have. Now, when I talked about her first book, I did mention this way of writing with her and I also may have mentioned that, despite how well it's written, one more trip to the editor might not have been the worst idea. Just to help the whole thing move a bit more. I didn't have that issue with this book, personally. In my opinion, whether it was because of better editing or a better story or something else, I found it much easier to get through and I read it much more quickly. To me, that's a very good thing, although, I do like to take some time with her books, just to let all the good detailing and info sink in. True, I would not put anything of hers on a 24 Hour Readathon TBR.

I suppose I ended up liking this book better than her first, which is an opinion that not everyone agrees with. But, for me, I was just drawn in to the story and the characters more than I was in The Historian. By the way, I'm not knocking that first book. I still think it's great. I just had more of an emotional connection to this one.

In closing, I would recommend The Swan Thieves, especially if you like Elizabeth Kostova's other work or if you're a fan of the world of artists and painters. It deals a lot with what a person can go through because of a gift they may have and how it can effect their whole life. As a type of artist myself, I can certainly relate to that and appreciate it greatly.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Blackbird Singing: Poems and Lyrics, 1965 to 1999 by Paul McCartney - Book Review

Greetings Pups,

As you may know, perhaps because I've mentioned it here, April is National Poetry Month. Naturally, I had to read a couple of poetry books just for the occasion. And on the first day of the month, I read one that I've owned for quite a while and have merely glanced through but never dug deep into. It was about time that I did a proper reading of Blackbird Singing by Paul McCartney.

This book was released in 2001 and, as you can tell by the full title, it contains lyrics and poems that he has written from 1965 to 1999. Why nothing before that? Well, in my opinion, when it comes to lyrics written pre-65, I think even Paul wouldn't know where the McCartney ends and where the Lennon begins. Yes, their collaborations, partnership and friendship were that strong. At that time. If you are an admirer of The Beatles, you'll know that it was around the mid-sixties that the Paul songs and the John songs became pretty distinct, even though they were all labeled Lennon/McCartney. But enough about that.

In Blackbird Singing, you'll find many familiar songs that Paul wrote during his time with The Beatles, with Wings and from his solo career. Good luck trying not to hear the melodies in your head as you read them. If you can, you're a stronger person than I am. Truth be told, I am known for loving a good and complete set of liner notes when I buy an album. Seriously, if there aren't lyrics in there, I can get a bit miffed, because I actually enjoy reading lyrics. So, naturally, these familiar words were the ones I gravitated to more so as I was working my way through this book.

Now, what about the poetry? Well, it's certainly not bad. A few, I think, were actually very good and very moving, even. That description particularly applies to the poems that are clearly personal to him, subject-wise, such as being about his late wife, or his family, or lost friends. And like most writers, he shines when he can tap into the deepest parts of himself. But here's the thing about Paul McCartney, according to me and, perhaps, a few others. I've always felt that he was far better at the music part of songwriting than the lyrical part. He's kinda like the opposite of me. Although, don't get me wrong. On his worst day of verse writing he's probably better than most so-called songwriters on their best. Still, when I think of Paul, I think more of his melodies than words. I'm saying that I believe that his words shine the most when they are attached to his music. This is probably why, whilst I did enjoy this book and I enjoyed reading those words with merely an accompaniment of silence, I didn't get as much of a feeling from them as I would had I been reading lyrics or poems from someone like Leonard Cohen or Tori Amos.
But, again, the word 'bad' would not be found anywhere near this collection.

So, would I recommend this? I'd say yes if you are a fan of poetry and if you're a fan of Sir Paul, it would be a nice add to your collection. I'm not saying you have to rush to get to this one, but it's a nice easy read and all those classic song lyrics might hit you right in the nostalgia. I'm glad I own it. I'm glad I read it. And if you like yourself some good, old McCartney, I think you'll feel the same way.

Wow, this review was short as heck. But so are poems, usually, so there you go.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, April 16, 2018

Innocence by Dean Koontz - Book Review

Greetings Pups,

You know how there are certain authors who you know about and you're really familiar with their work, but then one day you stop and say to yourself, "Hmm, I don't think I've read anything by that writer." Well, for me, that author has been Dean Koontz. To be honest, I may have read something of his in the past, but it's been so long that I've forgotten. That's a shot at my poor memory, not his ability to write a memorable story. Anyway, I decided that, this year, I would make an effort to read some books by the prolific Mr. Koontz. I was inspired when one of my favorite YouTubers, Travis McBee, did a whole video showing off his massive collection of books by this particular author. He called it his Koontzy Collection. I'd judge him if that isn't what I'd call it myself. So, after hearing him give some rapid fire and spoiler-free reviews of his many, MANY books, I knew that 2018 would be the year of Dean Koontz for me. But only if I started on a good note. And it certainly did with the book I'm going to discuss today, Innocence.

Innocence is a 2013 novel about a young man named Addison Goodheart (no, really) and he lives underground. Like, literally, underground, under the city. He is forced to hide himself because he looks a certain way that makes people turn extremely violent toward him when they see him. Why? What is it about him? Is he disfigured? Is he too ugly, too beautiful? Is this a Powder situation? You don't know, but that's part of the mystery.

Anyway, one night he comes across a young woman named Gwyneth, who is running from a man that is clearly trying to harm her. Turns out, she knows about some hidden parts of the city about as well as Addison does, and she's got some issues of her own. Much like how Addison doesn't want to be looked at, Gwyneth does not want to be touched. So, they realize that this understanding and accepting of the other's needs makes them a perfectly matched pair. Which is good, because they have a long road ahead of them. One that the reader will be compelled with which to follow along.

As the book begins, you will start to find a lot of questions being thrown at you about the characters and the world that surrounds them, ultimately making this a mystery novel. But it is the curiosity and the want to answer the questions and solve the mysteries that makes the reader want to continue. So, everything is propelling you forward because you just really want to know what the deal is with everything and everyone.

If I had to make any gripe, it would be that this one pretty major plot point that leads us straight to the ending kind of comes out of nowhere. I mean, I really didn't see it coming and as far as I gathered, there weren't any obvious clues that gave it away. Of course, since I was so engrossed in the story, I figured "Hey, let's just go with it." And I was fine. Now I have heard a few other complaints about the reveal of why Addison can't be looked at. Some people didn't like the reason that was given. I'll admit it, I didn't see that one coming either, but I found it rather interesting. I also find it interesting that some people are qualifying this as a horror novel. I mean, I suppose there are some aspects of the book that could easily be considered horrific, but full on horror? I'm just not feeling that. Still, I don't think it matters what category you put it in. It's good any way you look at it.

Speaking of which, if I may say, the writing in this book is absolutely beautiful. The descriptions, the words that were chosen, everything was just fantastic. Clearly, I have been missing out all this time I haven't been reading Dean Koontz books. The man has an incredible gift. I guess that would explain his massive success as a writer. Just kidding. We all know that one does not require writing talent to sell a lot of books. But thankfully, he has it.

In conclusion, I am definitely recommending Innocence, especially to anyone like me, who wants to dive head first into the world of The Koontz. Or anyone like me, who simply loves beautiful writing. Either way. In fact, I am so impressed and inspired by this man's work that I might even write him a letter. An actual letter. With pen and paper. Because he totally has an old school P.O. Box. Good times! It's just another reason to like the guy.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Back To Books Week: Third Time's the Charm

Greetings Pups,

So . . . it's been a while. Sorry about that. It wasn't a planned sabbatical, but as usual, life gets in the way of things. I mean, if you follow me on social media and saw that video I put up of the current state of my basement . . . sorry, "basement", then you'll know about just one of the things I'm dealing with. So, yes, I am still struggling with that every day, but I'm still hanging on. By a thread, but still hanging on.

Anyway, I saw that the last thing I posted was a book review, thus, I figured why not continue on with another "Back to Books" week, full of even more book reviews, plus, some other stuff to talk about. As it happens, I am far ahead on my Reading Challenge for the year, so I thought it might be a good idea to discuss a few of the many books I've been reading. It's been a roller coaster of a year as far as quality of the books goes, in my opinion. But there's nothing quite better than finding yourself immersed in a 5 star story after you had to suffer through a pile of 2's.

Lucky for y'all, I'm gonna focus on some of the better ones that I've had the pleasure of reading. Yeah, it's more fun to talk about the crappy things, and I do love to warn people about what they should stay away from, but what with all the negativity surrounding my life, perhaps it would be better to stay positive on this.

So, come back tomorrow and we will begin the week of getting back to books.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, March 19, 2018

Love Letters: An Anthology of Passion by Michelle Lovric - Book Review

Greetings Pups,

Have I mentioned how much I love letters? Like full on, handwritten, pen and paper letters? Because I do. A lot! Maybe it's because I'm a writer. Maybe it's because not many people compose them anymore. Maybe it's because I'm a Luddite at heart. I don't know. And I understand that an email or even a text can contain the same words, but do they often? Those are things we tend to want to get done quickly, between other tasks we deem more important. But to sit down and write a letter to someone takes time and effort and a lot more thought. And I guess I love the idea of something being in one person's hand one moment and, the next, it's in the hands of someone a hundred miles away. It's something tangible and preservable and valuable.

So, imagine how thrilled I was when, years ago, as I walked through my favorite used book store (that lives no longer), I found this book called Love Letters: An Anthology of Passion. The answer is, I was very thrilled. Mostly because it is not just a book about love letters. It is something of an interactive experience. By that, I mean there are actual letters within the book, all handwritten, folded up and put into envelopes with a wax seal that you can take out and hold and read. Sadly, they are not the originals, as those would be very old and delicate and likely extremely expensive. But they are copies that look like the originals. Close enough. And I'm happy to say that someone had the good sense to type up all the contents and put it in the back of the book, because handwriting is not always the easiest things to decipher. Anyway, it's pretty amazing. Especially considering who wrote some of those letters. More on that in a moment.

This book is actually separated into different sections pertaining to the different types of letters that are being featured. There are sections for Admiration, Celebration, Devotion, so on and so on. Because there are so many kinds of love that we can write about, and I personally enjoyed seeing so many of them brought to the light. So much more than just the generic romantic love that we are all used to hearing about.

And, as I was saying before, the numerous authors featured in this book contain some well-known names. There are letters from Dylan Thomas, Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Keats, just to mention a few. As expected, they are very, very good. Almost as though, they put as much effort into writing these letters as one would put into writing a novel.

Perhaps that is what engaged me about this book so much, and the lost art of letter writing. It's the fact that people didn't just dash off notes in the past, at least, not all the time. Not when something was important. And people used to view writing a letter as something incredibly important. Where every word written mattered and held together a message that could be held and embraced by someone else. It's a beautiful sentiment and I fear that so many of us have lost it. And the excuse is always that we don't have the time, but is that true? Or do we just not make the time?

Now I have an idea of what one can do with this book, along with my recommendation, but I will have to admit something about myself in the process. I owned this book for a very long time before I read it. I did flip through it several times, but I never sat down and read every word of it. But any book lover will know how we tend to buy books faster than we can read them, thus, causing our TBR pile to get quite Mt. Everest-y. However, this past Valentine's, I decided to partake in a 24 Hour Readathon of my own making. I figured I had nothing else to do on that day, so I might as well read, and I thought it would be the perfect day to read this one, Spoilers, it was. Anyway, this brings me to my idea. If you are in a relationship, or if you are in one when next Valentine's Day rolls around, don't go out to some fancy restaurant or to a play or a party. Just make dinner, or order in if you can't cook, and sit down with a copy of this book, and read the letters to each other. And when you finish the book, pull out a love letter that you wrote yourself. And make it a good one, darn it! So, there you are. I gave you a great idea for how to spend Valentine's Day. Or an anniversary. Or any random day that you just want to do something special for the person you love.

In closing, I highly recommend this book, especially if you want a unique experience. Or if you just want to remember how valuable the written word is. The REALLY written word.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Book Disappointments

Greetings Pups,

Since I could read my first word, I have been an avid reader of books. It has been a pleasure and a delight and, in a way, played a big part in inspiring me to become a writer. In short, I am very glad that I am able to read books every day. However, as a reader, I have encountered several problems in life. For lack of a more creative term, we call them "Reader Problems". Things like not having enough time to read or waiting for a book to be released or people interrupting us while we are trying to read. There are so many. And yeah, I get it. The quotation marks I use when I say "problems" are prominent. It would be better to call them annoyances. Anyway, they do exist and I just realized another one.

I've been reading quite a lot of books this year. For real, I'm about seven or eight books ahead on my 2018 Reading Challenge, proving that 24 Hour Readathons can be very helpful. Two of those books have been by an author that I absolutely love, and one of those two is the last one of hers. Well, the last one until she publishes a new one for the series she writes. Something I pray happens this year. Now, knowing that I would have to, not replace her, because that would be impossible, but rather find another author, another book, another series to fill the void as I wait. So, I did something that I don't usually do. I went to GoodReads and saw what was being recommended to me. I'm not saying that doing that isn't good, but as I mentioned in my last post, recommendations can be a bit off sometimes. But I was desperate.

Turns out, that author I love so much, I got a recommendation based specifically on the fact that I've read and loved her books. In fact, I got a recommendation for the first book in a whole new series, which sounded very similar as far as genre goes. Hooray was my response. I immediately put this new author on my TBR list and when I went to the library, as soon as we got a day without snow, I checked out that first book. I was so excited. I picked it up and I read in less than two days and . . . yeah, no.

I was very disappointed in this book. Now, as I said, I've been reading for a very long time, so I have read many very not good books in that time. We all have. But it's disappointment followed by high hopes that cause us readers the most pain. And I had such high hopes for this new series I was starting. While the plot was decent enough and the whole thing was very easy to read (take that to mean whatever you like), the characters were just awful. Not awful in a good "love to hate 'em" way, like Stefano on Days of Our Lives. No, this was full on Rent without the music, awful characters. I think the only ones I liked in this book were the cats. And I do NOT like cats! But, yeah, I'll end this paragraph the same way I started it. I was very disappointed in this book.

You know, reading is something that takes up our time, and a lot of us don't have much of that. So, when we find a bad book that wastes that precious time, we get a little upset. Yes, I understand I could have not finished it. That's what everyone tells me. But I'm not the kind of person that can just not finish a book. And, like I said, the plot was okay, so I did want to know the outcome, as it was a mystery. Still, my overall experience was not an enjoyable one.

And yet, I still continue to pick up new books by new authors with which I have no history. Because you just never know. While we always run the risk of coming across book disappointments, we are just as likely to come across book triumphs. And those are worth all the risk, because a good book to a reader is the best thing in the world.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Austin McConnell - YouTube Channel Review

Greetings Pups,

Have you ever known that one person who knows a lot of random facts about random things and they talk about all of it all the time, but they're so interesting and entertaining that you just can't help listening every time they start up? Well, everyone, let me introduce you to the subject of today's YouTube channel, Austin McConnell. Although, considering he has almost 400,000 subscribers, you may already know about him. But whatever. We're doing this.

Austin McConnell has quickly become one of my favorite YouTubers. He's a film maker and a writer and he talks about things I'm interested in. And even when he talks about things I'm NOT interested in, the way he talks about them suddenly makes me kind of interested. According to the YouTube stats, he posted his first video about five years ago, and things were a bit sparse for a while. I think he only did about twenty videos in the subsequent few years. But then, in August of 2016, he posted something that changed everything. Apparently. It was about what was wrong with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Now, I do not like Harry Potter, so I don't click on anything that has to do with it. But this looked like it was gonna talk about it negatively, so I was in! And I'm so glad I watched it, because it was thoroughly enjoyable. Other people must have felt the same way, since it was pretty popular and seemed to lead to even more and even better videos.

Now I don't remember how it is that I came to discover this channel. I think it was one of those cases where YouTube recommended it to me based on other things I've watched. Of course, that doesn't always work out as their wires seem to get crossed sometimes. It's like, no, YouTube. I want to watch people MOCK BuzzFeed videos. I don't want to watch the actual BuzzFeed video. However, in this case, it paid off. I watched that first video of his, then I moved on to the one where he told me about a book called House of Leaves, which I am very grateful for, then on to the one about Gilmore Girls, which proved to be more entertaining than the actual show. And as time moved on, I watched all the videos. I have not been disappointed.

The really fun thing about this channel is that you kinda never know what you're gonna get. I mean, one time he's talking about Star Wars, then a film challenge, then something about KFC! Waiting for a new video from Austin McConnell is like waiting for a birthday gift from that one relative that always gives you something great. You don't know what you're gonna get, but you always know it's gonna be good. And that's an important thing, because the best way to build and keep a fan base is to establish trust with your audience. He has certainly done that.

On a more serious note . . . I guess . . . I'll say something else about Austin McConnell. He seems like a really, really nice guy. The good kind of nice guy, I mean. He proved this back in January of 2018. See, YouTube has this new thing that says you can't monetize your videos unless you have a thousand subscribers and log a few thousand hours of having your videos watched. Well, that was a blow to a lot of people who didn't fit that criteria, even though we all know there are fantastic channels that are flying just under the radar. Well, in an effort to help, Austin spotlighted five channels that had under a thousand subscribers but that he felt deserved more. Considering I ended up subscribing to them, obviously, I agree. Now he didn't have to do that, but apparently he, like many of us, has decided that if YouTube isn't gonna take care of us, we have to take care of each other. And it's not enough for big channels to just complain, but rather, they can help. It's clear that he appreciates the hard work, talent and creativity that comes from the people who run those channels, so he helped them to reach more people. And it paid off. I think they all hit that thousand and beyond.

In addition to all that, something that really stands out is how personal Austin lets himself get in his videos. He talks quite a bit about his own experiences. The good, the bad, the successes, the failures. And he's not afraid to get emotional about all of it. It makes him seem even more like a real person, which he is, which is something that we can forget when we only see someone on a computer screen. He's not perfect, he knows this and he has no shame in admitting that. Especially because, despite everything, he keeps going and he encourages us to do that same.

In closing, I will once again say how much I love this channel and the man behind it. It's just nice to see someone who is so passionate about art and books and cinema and all things creative. For lack of better phrasing, being passionate about the arts seems to be a lost art. Thankfully, though, Austin McConnell is keeping it alive through his channel. He's informing us and entertaining us and putting smiles on our faces. That's more than I expect from most things on YouTube and it's much more than we could ever ask for.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Straight From the Theater Review - Early Man

Greetings Pups,

I've mentioned this quite a few times recently, but I'll say it again. I am not thrilled with Hollywood at the moment. Gee, I wonder why. And this is all very sad, because I do, indeed, love the cinema and I enjoy a trip to the theater on occasion. On rare occasion, as of late, but still. So, I must go elsewhere to find some entertainment. Enter Aardman Animations, which is happily based in the U.K. Alright, I may also have some issues with the U.K. at the moment as well, but not where their artistic endeavors are concerned. Also, I love this studio. They gave us Wallace and Gromit, for crying out loud. And now they have given us Early Man. Here's a quick and spoiler free synopsis.

So, the story takes place during the Stone Age in a valley where a bunch of lovable cave people live and hunt rabbits. This is where we meet our protagonist Dug, his pet wild boar, Hognob and the leader, Chief Bobnar. One night, however, their lives are disrupted when Lord Nooth, from Bronze Age City, invades the valley to take over and mine for more bronze, driving the cave people out. After some shenanigans, Dug decides to challenge them to a football game (soccer to you Americans!) to gain back control of the valley. Because that's just what they did back in the prehistoric times. And that's pretty much it.

Okay, look, here's the thing. I've always thought that, with Aardman, the plot isn't that important. Well, it is, but it isn't. I'll say that the plots are rarely complicated. It tends to be more about the great characters they've created as well as really funny and clever jokes throughout. The plot is just kind of a thread to hold those things together and give them a reason to exist. And that's fine with me, because they are so good with the characters and the jokes that I don't mind that the plot was basically that of a 80's and/or 90's sports movie. Ya know, those ones that you can get four to a disc at Wal Mart for like $7. 50. But again, don't care when everything else is so great. Oh, and speaking of the characters, let's talk about the people whose voices brought them to life.

The casting in this is fantastic, as per usual, and what I like best is that pretty much all of the well-known actors altered their voices. That's a good thing, because hearing the familiar voice of a celebrity you know can be distracting in something like this. But by changing it up, they managed to create something that fit the characters they played. Dug was portrayed by Eddie Redmayne, and he sounded about ten years younger and ten years higher pitched. Maisie Williams provided the voice of Goona (my future child's name!), a young and awesome lady that Dug befriends during his journey. The chief was voiced by Timothy Spall, perfectly, I might add. And even the director, Nick Park, got into the action by voicing Hognob. And, then, we have Lord Nooth, voiced by Tom Hiddleston. I have some things to say about this, twofold. First, as much as I love this studio, I will admit that this particular cast member may have had something to do with my putting this film on my "Must See" list. Because I do like him as an actor, and I like him being funny, which he needs to do more of, professionally speaking. Second, what is up with Aardman casting handsome, British guys as their doofy villains? I mean, first, it was Ralph Fiennes in the were-rabbit thing, and now this? I'm not complaining; I'm just wondering. But to be honest, all the voice acting was phenomenal.

Anyway, I'd like to say one more thing. Specifically, about the animation in this. It's just heartwarming. I love the way that they create their films. I love how everything is handmade. Like, you can literally see fingerprints a lot of the time, which isn't a bad thing. It serves as a little reminder of how much work went into it. I love that, even with the option to use computers and make things easier, they don't do it, because it's not who they are. In short, I love the integrity they have to their legacy.

In closing, I highly recommend seeing Early Man. Much like everything that comes from Aardman, it's witty and fun and, again, heartwarming, and it just makes you feel happy. Sometimes that is all I need from a movie and, most times, that is way more than enough.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, February 26, 2018

Am I Writing a Musical?

Greetings Pups,

About a month ago, I did a review of a great YouTube channel run by a beautiful and talented artist named Karliene. In said review, I mentioned that one of her projects had motivated me to get back to working on one of my own. That project of mine was a collection of songs based on my favorite book of all time, The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers.

Now I had been jotting down quite a few verses and choruses that I would eventually turn into some songs, although, I hadn't done that much work before temporarily abandoning it. But as I have been getting back into it and writing some more, I noticed something that was changing concerning what I was doing then in comparison to what I've been doing now. That change is the narrative. What I was writing before seemed to be more, I hate to say it, generic. Like, the subject of the songs were inspired by things that happen in the book, but only I would know where it was coming from because nothing was all that specific. However, as I started working on this again, I noticed that I was letting things from the story have more of a distinct effect on what I was writing. And that made me wonder something: Have I stopped trying to create a loosely inspired collection of songs and started writing songs for a musical of sorts? Maybe.

Okay, look, don't get me wrong. I know where I stand in all this where the logistics are concerned. I am permitted to write a song about anything I want. I can be inspired by anything and put it into my own words. Nothing wrong with that. I've done it a thousand times. In fact, some of my first poetry collection was very much inspired by the work of others, but in a transformative way. However, there is a difference between writing things that are inspired by someone else's work and doing an actual and official adaptation of it. So, if my direction on this is turning into writing a legit musical based on an existing property, I understand that I can't do anything with it beyond scribbling things down in a notebook and singing melodies into a voice recorder without written consent by the author/owner of that existing property. Which I don't have . . . yet. But Sofia Coppola didn't have the rights to The Virgin Suicides when she wrote a screenplay for it, and I am as good of a songwriter as she is a film maker. Okay, maybe not, but I am definitely a better songwriter than she is an actress. Even she would say that and she's never even read anything of mine. But I digress.

Anyway, there is something in me that wants to keep working on this, just to see what might happen. I understand that some people might consider doing that a waste of time when the chances of anything coming from it are extremely slim to none. But anyone who is a writer knows that writing anything is never a waste of time. Even writing the inevitable crappy stuff isn't, because, at the very least, you are writing. And I'm extremely inspired by this book. In fact, in addition to trying to read a hundred books this year, as I did last year, I am going to dive back into The Last Sin Eater but with fresh eyes. Also with notebook and pen, to write down every little thing that I could turn into a song. Again, even if it comes to nothing out there in the real world, I will still consider it productive.

So, let me just finish by saying, I believe in miracles, I believe in hard work and, though it is difficult sometimes, I believe in the gift I have as a writer. I never know what the future will hold for my work, but I know to always be prepared for whatever might come my way. And who knows? Perhaps, someday, I will have the honor to meet Francine Rivers, tell her how much her book means to me and show her how she inspired me. That might lead to something happening or it might not. But no matter what, any work that I do is worth doing. Every word I put down on paper is another step in the direction of where I'm supposed to be.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, February 5, 2018

Why We Fall Apart

Greetings Pups,

I don't know why things happen or why they happen when they do. I don't know why sometimes we are as put together as much as we possibly can be and why other times we crumble. We fall apart.

I haven't been shy about letting it be known that my life has been doing that quite a lot lately, somehow without going into too many details. Mostly because I don't think the details matter. Well, things haven't changed much over the last few years and I spend the majority of my time trying to figure out how things got to where they are. I suppose I could do what so many people do these days and blame someone else for all my problems. Who? Whoever, as long as I'm not pointing the finger at myself or the choices that I made, right? But I can't be someone like that. I'm smart enough to know that, most of the time, we are where we are because of what we decided to do. I'm not saying that outside sources can't have an effect on us, but we decide how much. We wake up every day with a choice to settle in and take it, or push back and move forward.

I've been looking at how my life is and what I could have done or not done to make it like this. Truth is, there have been many outside sources hitting up against me for most of the time I've been alive, and I hate to admit this, but I fall for their tricks very easily. Maybe they're good at what they do, or maybe I don't have it in me to fight back. Or maybe I just wait until the effect wears off and I forget what happened, enough to where I feel almost happy.

Of course, then another day comes and another rock is thrown on the pile of rocks that never turn to dust but rather one giant boulder that's just waiting to crush me. I have a lot of people in my life asking why I get upset over "small things that don't matter". Well, that's why. Because when they pile up, they start to matter a lot. And all they see is that one small thing, not the collection I've built up. Trust me, I try very hard to make it shrink every day. It's not easy, though.

And yet, I keep going for some reason. I get up and I manage to survive my way through the day, sometimes filling those moments with something I think is useful or even enjoyable. But mostly, I'm just surviving. It gets harder with every passing day, to do the things that I find useful and enjoyable and to survive. There are so many things that I am passionate about in my heart, but when it comes to manifesting those things physically? Let's just say it's hard to be passionate about anything when you feel like you're in a prison. Your mind has trouble flowing freely when it's always being weighed down by anchors that you just can't cut loose.

That's how I feel most of the time. I mean, I live in a house that's falling down around me and as far as my finances go, I have a bank account with an echo. And the really unfortunate factor in all of this is that I work. I work hard and I work all the time, but I'm not getting back as much as I put in. It can start to make a person think that what they do doesn't matter. As if I don't have enough people telling me that already, especially when it comes to my writing. Shall I bring up the fact that I've published four poetry collections and I have people asking me when I'm gonna write a real book? And this is coming from non-book readers, so . . . Yeah, I don't exactly have the greatest support system where that is concerned. But not being supported hasn't made me stop. Like I said, they can only affect me if I let them.

I apologize for sounding so negative in a lot of this, but I'd rather get it out of me somehow, since I know what can happen if you keep it inside. Now I don't know what the future holds for me or my living and financial situations or any of my artistic endeavors. I just know that I am kind of falling apart at the moment. But for some reason, I am letting myself believe it's because I'll be rebuilt as something even stronger. Maybe that's how it is for everyone.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright - Book Review

Greetings Pups,

You know what I love? Letters. Good, old-fashioned, handwritten letters. No, seriously, kids. These aren't just fairy tale things. They actually existed at one time. That one time when people gave a crap. Okay, harsh, I know, but as someone who values words, you can't be surprised that I feel this way. Now someone might counter my argument by saying that an email or even a text can contain the same words, so what's the difference? Well, much like how an ebook also can have the same story as a physical book, there is a difference. To me and to many others, while the words might be the same, books and letters make those words more real. They make those words something you can touch and hold. They make those words an experience. So, yes, I would take a letter or a book over anything any day. And, therefore, you can imagine just how much I would love a book about letters. So, even though I feel like I'm using certain words WAY too much, let's discuss a book called The Wednesday Letters.

The Wednesday Letters is a 2007 novel by Jason F. Wright. Admittedly, I picked it up because of the subject matter. The story is about Jack and Laurel Cooper, a couple who were together for 39 years and died in each other's arms. This isn't a spoiler. It's in the synopsis. Anyway, in the wake of the tragedy, their three children Matthew, Malcolm and Samantha, come together to make arrangements for the unexpected double funeral.

While going through the remnants of their parents life, they find a collection of letters that Jack had written to Laurel every Wednesday for all their years together. They begin to read the letters, at first, out of order, but soon they begin to uncover secrets about their family that none of them were aware of. As expected, these revelations cause tension between them and accusations and blame to be thrown around. And in the midst of dealing with this crushing family drama, each of the grown children are dealing with issues in the world outside their family home. With each passing moment, they consume themselves with trying to find answers and a way to move on with this new life they are now being forced to live.

I had no idea what to really expect when I picked up this book. I could tell that it was some kind of a faith based story, and believe it or not, I am often wary of those. Yes, I am a Christian and I enjoy a good story about faith, but on occasion, I think some religious writers, as well as film makers and musicians, are afraid to go too far, for fear of pushing away a devoted and built in fan base. They can also become complacent at times. So, it was nice to read this book that was written well and, while not going into gratuitous details, managed to tackle some very, very hard and dark subjects. And I think it did this fairly.

Now, over on the GoodReads, some of the criticisms people lobbed at this were that it was too much like a Hallmark movie, maybe with a dash of Lifetime. Okay, to be fair, it does have some of those elements, but it's not that bad. Not that I don't like Hallmark or Lifetime movies. I like them quite a bit actually, but this book is its own thing. I can admit that there were a few sappy and overly sentimental moments, especially with some of the phrases being said. Still, it's a book about getting ready for a funeral, so what do you expect?

I will say that what I enjoyed most about this book is that it's a story about the value and the power of forgiveness. And there are a lot of people in this that have to do some hardcore forgiving, even to the point where those who don't have a full grasp of the concept of it might think it's unrealistic. But it's the situations where forgiveness is the hardest thing to do, yet people still do it, that can make anyone understand that power.

In closing, I'd say I would recommend this book. I know it won't be for everyone, but if it sounds like something you'd like, then you'll probably like it. I certainly did, enough to possibly check out the sequel that I just found out exists. So, I guess I'll have to see where the story goes.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, January 22, 2018

Waiting Vs. Working

Greetings Pups,

I've been browsing the interwebs lately, looking for videos about writing, as I tend to do on a regular basis. Something that came up in quite a few of them was debating the idea of the muse, like how much should writers depend on sheer, unadulterated inspiration and how much should they just do the work no matter how inspired they feel.

Believe it or not, there are some people who fall very firmly in one of these two categories. There are people who seem to be hardcore against any romanticizing of the writing process. It's just work, then work, then more work and your book is done. I wonder if they even enjoy writing or if they just do it because they happen to be good at it. On the other hand, there are people who totally see writing as that thing you do, but only if you have been visited by those aforementioned muses. So, they spend all their time waiting for them, instead of, you know, writing and whatnot. These people tend to not finish much.

Despite all of this, I'm happy to say that I think most writers understand that we have to embrace a combination of these two things. Anyone who is really a writer knows that it is a job, whether or not you're getting paid, it is hard work. But there are also times when you are absolutely inspired. Knowing that inspiration is somewhere drives us to continue, but knowing that we have to work is how we start in the first place.

I was thinking about this a few days ago, so I wrote a little something down and I shared it on my social media. I figured I would just share it again here, just to get my point across. Enjoy.

"A moment of inspiration that comes out of nowhere is like winning the lottery. There is always a possibility that it will happen, sometimes it does happen, but it is rare. The moments of inspiration that visit us on a regular basis, the ones that we are used to, the ones we expect, they are like paychecks, and we have to work for them. Those muses that we allow ourselves to believe in, they rarely drop by unannounced. We have to invite them in, make them feel at home, let them do their work. And the way we do that is by doing our work. Everything that makes us writer, makes us true artists, is waiting for us, but it won't come to us. We have to go to it. We have to travel, search, toil and cultivate everything that makes us who we are. Everything that makes what we do, what we create, matter. We can't just say we want to get somewhere. We have to go there."

So, yes, that is my take on this whole subject. As far as I'm concerned, when it comes to being an artist of any kind, work and inspiration go hand in hand. If you want the experience of it all in the way that it's meant to be, you have to embrace both of them. Once you do that and if you've got a gift for said artistic endeavor, that is when you might, you just might, do something very special.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, January 15, 2018

Karliene - YouTube Channel Review

Greetings Pups,

If you read my year end posts about music in 2017, you'll know that I was quite unenthusiastic about most of what I heard. So many of the songs I listened to were either bad or samey-sounding or both. Mostly both. All of that makes me sad because I've lived through years, even in my relatively short life, where artists were being very innovative and creative and original. I barely see that anymore. So, when I do come across someone who is unique and good where their music is concerned, I kind of hold onto them for dear life. Such is the case with the person whose YouTube Channel I am discussing today, Karliene.

Karliene is Karliene Reynolds. She is a wonderful singer and songwriter that I discovered a few years ago whilst I was looking for covers of the song "The Last Unicorn". Don't judge me. Anyway, she did a version of it with another great singer, Ashley Serena. The video was actually on Ashley's channel, but, through it, I made my way over to Karliene's channel and started exploring.

The first thing I noticed, of course, was her angelic voice. That may be an overused adjective in some cases, but with her, it's quite accurate. Her voice sounds like no one else I can think of and that is a very good thing. It's powerful yet soothing, strong yet ethereal, all at the same time. That is not easy to do. Another thing that immediately intrigued me was her style. Like many people, she does her share of cover songs, but she also has a lot of original songs. And with all of them, she makes them distinctly here own. They all have a feel to them that's either a bit Celtic or very much sounding like something you'd hear in a fantasy film score or maybe something Medieval. It's a bit hard for me to describe, but you'll understand when you hear it. My point is that she is doing something different. Yes, there may be a few other artists who are similar, but that style is not oversaturated to where I don't want to hear it. We have just enough of this beautiful music and she is making a significant contribution to it.

But I think the one thing that has drawn me into her world and kept me there for so long is the fact that she seems to be able to find inspiration in anything, particularly she finds it in the art of others. I love it when that happens. Actually, it's something that I do a lot myself and am often met with strange looks for it. In fact, when I dedicated a whole section of my first book to poems about a specific film, even I was hesitant about doing it. Karliene, however, has made me see that this is exactly what artists are supposed to do - inspire each other.

Speaking of which, this would be a good time for me to bring up my favorite thing that she has ever done (so far). Back in August of 2017, Karliene released an album of songs all which were inspired by the poem, The Highwayman, written by Alfred Noyes. Amazingly, she wrote seven songs that stemmed from the story of this one poem, and they are all so good. I may have to do a separate review for that. Anyway, there are three main reasons why I love this album so much. First, the music itself is just so incredible and moving, and it paints a beautiful picture of the story through the eyes of a different artist than the one who wrote it originally. Second, it clearly proves that she appreciates poetry, which is something that obviously I appreciate in return. Third, this whole project has inspired me to return to one of my own that I had seemingly abandoned, wherein I was writing songs inspired by my favorite book, The Last Sin Eater. After seeing what was done here, I have decided to get to work on that once again. So, thank you for that very much, Miss Karliene.

Honestly, there are so many reasons why I would tell you to go to this channel to check out this artist. As I said before, she is talented and unique and has a gift that I don't see often anymore. Best of all, she seems like a delight of a person, which makes me want to support her even more so. I want everyone to hear her music, and I wouldn't mind if she got noticed by some musical legends to do some collaborating. I certainly wouldn't mind hearing a duet with her and Tori Amos. I'd love to see that, too, since they both have the most gorgeous red hair. But, seriously, so many people should be lining up to sing alongside her.

In conclusion, if you are looking for some wonderful, creative music, something different from whatever in the world they are playing on the radio these days, I strongly suggest you check out Karliene.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer


Monday, January 8, 2018

A Few Words About Sue Grafton

Greetings Pups,

As many of you know, 2017 had its ups and downs. Unfortunately, it came to a close on a bit of a sad note, as on December 28, we lost one of the world's best writers and one of my personal favorites, Sue Grafton.

I know I'm a bit late talking about this, but I wanted it to sink in. And I'm not going to go into some long, biographical rundown on her life here. There are plenty of other places where you can read those. I just wanted to say a few, quick words about my own experience as one of her readers.

I discovered her books while I was in the library looking for some good mysteries. I picked up the first in her "Alphabet Series", "A" Is For Alibi, featuring her private investigator lead character, Kinsey Millhone. I immediately loved these books and especially Kinsey. She was everything that a strong, female lead should be. In other words, she was real. I see so much talk about people wanting those aforementioned "strong, female leads", but sometimes I think what they want is a Mary Sue type. I do not like those. I want a character who feels like an actual person. And Kinsey was exactly that. She was smart, but didn't get everything right. She could take care of herself, but also could ask for help. She was loved by some, not so much by others. She wasn't perfect and she wasn't a blank slate. She had actual flaws and an actual personality. Again, she was real. And I would tell anyone who wants to write a great and proper female lead for a book to go to this series for some lessons. Because Kinsey was something special.

And Sue Grafton was special, too. She had a way of pulling you into these stories, getting you involved with the world and caring a lot about the characters. Though many writers can pull that off, sometimes we can forget what a gift it is to be able to do it and do it for so long. Well, Sue could do it. She had that gift and she was a gift to us.

While the saddest thing about her death is just that, of course, many of us who have traveled through the alphabet with her and Kinsey are heartbroken to learn that her last book, "Y" Is For Yesterday, will be the last one, prompting many people to adopt the phrase, "The Alphabet Ends With 'Y'". I think she was planning to release the Z book in a couple of years, but she hadn't even started it yet, so there was no manuscript and her family will not hire a ghostwriter. At first I was sad about this, but I realized that, all things considered, it is for the best.

I had always been someone who hoped for a Kinsey movie or a TV series, and I didn't know that, apparently, Sue did not want anything like that. And she would not have wanted a ghostwriter either. I think she didn't want anyone writing about Kinsey but her. I agree. Sometimes characters and their writers become extremely connected, and this is certainly no exception. These two were practically one and the same. So, when I really think about it, I wouldn't want anyone else writing her anyway.

Still, I feel like, in a way, there is a final book. Not the "Z" Is For _____ book we had wanted, but something less tangible. I think Sue Grafton's final book, her final chapter, will come from everyone who knew and loved here. It will be filled with the stories about her told by her friends and family, the stories that we, the readers, will tell about our experiences with her as a writer. And every time one of us tells a new reader to pick up one of her books, another page will be added. That is how we will help her legacy to live on.

So, in closing, I will miss Sue Grafton and what she may have written, but I will hold on to all the stories she did give us. I will be entertained by them and learn from them, just as she wanted. Just as she succeeded in doing.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Monday, January 1, 2018

Hopes For the New Year

Greetings Pups,

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you all made it through New Year's Eve without incident. And if you got embarrassingly drunk, I hope it wasn't in front of a nationwide TV audience, because that is the job of famous people as we all know. I personally spent the night with an amazing man . . . named Rod Serling. Yes, as per usual, I rolled in the New Year with the Twilight Zone marathon. I can't imagine there being a better way to do so. Didn't hurt that the snow was keeping me inside.

Anyway, as I sat home, I had some moments to think about the things I want to accomplish in the next twelve months. I suppose I could just repeat what I said last year at this time, since most of those didn't come to fruition. I haven't finished the books I had intended to, at least not the entire process of preparing them for publication, and I haven't started my podcast yet, though I have someone interested in maybe helping me out with that. And sadly, I am still in my crumbling house. I guess it's an accomplishment to have survived another year in it, and I could have NO place to live, so I have to be grateful. Still, I am praying for some miracle that will allow me to have something a little better (and safer) to live in.

Now I hate to be the kind of person who makes excuses and I certainly don't want to blame anything or anybody for my failures, but I imagine that I could have done a lot more in the past year had I not had to deal with a few rather serious bouts of depression and some health issues, which most likely affected each other. You kinda don't wanna to much when you're in that place, so I didn't do much. But, thankfully, I didn't do nothing either.

Despite falling a bit short for 2017, I did manage to do some things. If you saw my post yesterday, you'll know I read 115 books in the year, which is something. I hear that reading makes you a better writer, so hopefully, some of that will sink in and help me. I won NaNoWriMo again, so I have yet another novel to edit and possibly publish. Despite how much I am not a fan of the editing process, I'll put this in the plus column. And I also started making videos for my YouTube, and formerly, VidMe (R.I.P.) channel. They're not exactly the fanciest things, just some poetry videos that I make in Windows Movie Maker and a few other ones peppered in there, but you never know who might find them, which could lead to more book sales, which could lead to my making some cash, which I desperately need at the moment. Ya know, it's quite frustrating to do all that work and then have to wait a very long time for a payday. And yet, I do it anyway, because I have to.

So, when it comes to this New Year, I just want to get my life together. Maybe I won't make any long term goals. Maybe it's better to go day by day and accomplish what you can. It's less overwhelming and handling things one at a time can, I think, make you get to more of them. Eventually, it will all build up to something big. All I can hope for is to make it through another year, but if I can get some things done, possibly even some great things, it can be even better.

God bless you all in 2018 and beyond.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer