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Posts from the ‘Non-Fiction’ Category

What I Got From the Bookstore – Spring 2019


New stuff from the bookstore!

My dad knows me well and got me a bookstore gift certificate, so I recently put it to good use. All the books are non-fiction this time around. This is a bit different from my usual reading, but this year I wanted to read different kinds of books, such as biographies, writing books, etc. There was a time when I devoured every writing book I could get my hand on. The writing life genre is still one of my favorite subcategories of non-fiction. I’m always fascinated by other writers and how they navigate this world.


Thrill Me – Essays on Fiction by Benjamin Percy

I haven’t started reading this yet, but it has been in my Amazon wish list for a while. When I saw it on the shelf, I decided to go for it. I’ve read a few of Percy’s works and follow him on Twitter. Plus there was an endorsement from Karen Russell on it. When one of your favorite writers likes another writer, you buy. (One of my personal beliefs.)

You are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero

This is a follow-up to her first book entitled You are a BadassI didn’t realize it at first, but no worries. You don’t need to have read the first to understand the second. I found Sincero’s writing funny and relatable. This book is all about firing you up to make more money and be unapologetic about it. While money is not the most important thing in life, it is necessary and wanting to make more shouldn’t be shamed. Notice in my last post I wrote about getting paid for my stories? This book just reinforced my ideas about writers needing to get paid. The myth of the starving writer is a damaging one and I want to make sure that I never fall into that category.

E -Squared by Pamela Grout

I’ve always been interested in the law of attraction. I had heard the general idea of it and watched a few videos on YouTube where someone says how they “manifested” $1,000 in 24 hours (or something like that). But this was the first time I bought a book on the topic. Grout breaks down the idea into 9 “experiments” that you can try in your everyday life. I tried a few and one did work (One didn’t and I haven’t tried any others). It was an interesting read and I have tried in my everyday life to be more conscious of the energy I’m putting out in the world. Grout, too, is funny and the book had a casual, friendly tone to it. I think I may pick up some of her other works later.

Happy reading everyone. Hope you get some fun stuff from your bookstore!

Saying Yes

I’m late to this bandwagon, but I’ll jump on anyway. Whatever late fee I have to pay, just let me know.

I finished Shonda Rhimes’s Year of Yes and loved it. I don’t normally read memoir type books, but I love Rhimes. The TV show Scandal was my jam. I never missed a Thursday night. Even now, I find myself saying every now and then, “It’s handled!” Never mind that no one else may be in the room.

The books is all about Rhime’s decision to come out of her shell, say yes to growing, taking risk, and learning more about herself. It’s touching and inspiring, and very, very, funny. Several times I laughed out loud.

Writing is a solitary act and seeing how another writer navigates this life is always interesting. I also like how this book talks about life outside of writing. Her children, her friends, her family all come into play at one point or another in the book. It’s a great reminder that, yes we are writer, but we are also friends, daughters/sons, spouses, and parents too.

I had a mini-year of yes myself in 2013. It was fun and satisfying too. That was the year I started submitting again after a long hiatus. I had to get over my fear of rejection and start putting myself out there more. I also started to write more stories about what I was interested in, not what I thought people wanted to read.

Wondrous things happen when you start saying “yes” to things that scare you.

With no fear, you can pursue stuff you’ve always wanted. Highly recommend.

I Don’t Read SCIFI. I Read Speculative Literature.

I Don’t Read SCIFI. I Read Speculative Literature.

(Or How to Recruit Others Into the Club.)

If you have ever experienced the disdainful, vaguely bored glance that follows when you mention you favorite science fiction or fantasy story, I have the ultimate recruiting pitch. No doubt, if you are reading this you are already a fan. Star Trek is a popular outlet for many fans of this mode of storytelling, but it is only a start. Any true fan knows that science fiction and fantasy contain all types of stories, whether it is the traditional stories of Middle Earth, or the tales of Bradbury’s Mars, or even the more obscure selections of Kelly Link. The genres (I use the plural, because we all know they are two SEPARATE genres that happen to be bunched together as a stupid marketing ploy which doesn’t really make sense when you think about it, but oh well that’s the way it was made…) have something for everyone. And yet, you still get the LOOK. Usually, it happens during a conversation like this:

“So, what kind of books do you like to read?”

“Oh, I like science fiction/fantasy/horror.”

Pause. (Insert LOOK.) “Oh, I never got into that stuff. I like more serious literature.”

Ouch! That was you personality they just slammed! What do you do?

Well, don’t call it science fiction/fantasy/horror. Call it speculative literature. It’s a fancy title for the same thing. I learned that (along with many others) from reading Margaret Atwood. When people called her book The Handmaiden’s Tale science fiction, she turned it around and called it “speculative literature.” It sounds classy and sophisticated. Best of all most people don’t really know what it means.

There are some who are now raising their fist at the computer screen and saying, “There is nothing wrong with calling my favorite stuff scifi! I like it just the way it is and if I met someone who doesn’t understand, then too bad. No one is going to change me.”

I guess I agree to a point. The term is ingrained into our vocabulary and I’m not suggesting we get rid of it completely. But if we don’t offer the olive branch, or at least an alternative that provokes interest (because it doesn’t have a gut reaction when heard), how will there ever be any tolerance? We can’t get rid of the LOOK until those who give it understand that scifi is not fluff.

I like the term speculative literature mainly because it covers a wide variety of styles of writing. So many people are writing in different aspects of scifi that we need a better term. There are tons of others like “new wave fabulist”, “new weird”, and my personal favorite “slipstream”. And while they all take up their own space, “speculative literature” seems to be the most inclusive. It’s any story where there is some sort of speculation involved, whether that is picturing a future (good or bad) of mankind, an alternate reality, or next door neighbors that happen to be vampires. It also includes a lot of stories that are not typical, like The Handmaid’s Tale, or 1984. It’s hard for someone to give the LOOK to Frankenstein.

And once people start to understand that, they’ve been recruited onto your side.

Maybe they will never read Robert J. Sawyer, rush out to see the next movie about Kirk and Spock, or know the storyline of the next graphic novel series, but there will be a little more respect. They’ll understand that there is a history, a tradition, that has been going on for a while. These genres are not just about slapping a sword and an elf together in a forest, or what Earthlings will be like in five hundred years.

It’s about the same things that drive all other stories. Our hopes and our fears create this stuff. They mold and shape stories that incorporates the fantastic or science into something so far ranging that it takes us out of reality. But it is sophisticated enough to leave clues as to how we can see ourselves.

I, for one, think more people should realize this and I’m a recruiting fool.

That’s why I read (and write) speculative literature.

**Originally written for and published by in August 2007.**

One Year

One year has passed.  Wow, time has gone by fast.  I’m supposed to be putting up my stories, but I just can’t seem to get on top of this.  Gearing up for my grad school application has been my focus.  But I WILL try to do better.  My brother keeps waiting for new stuff.  All I can say is oneday it will happen.

But I am glad that I have managed to put some stuff up, even if it is just my ramblings about my life and lack of postings.

A new year…

Where has the time gone?  It’s been almost a year since I  got this blog and I still haven’t managed to put up any stories.  Well that is going to change.  I know. I know.  I’ve been saying the same thing over and over again, but I think this year will be different.

One reason is my head space.  After being furloughed last summer (and being bummed out in general about it), I decided to rethink where I am going in life.  Ultimately, I decided that I wanted to go back to school.  Grad school to be exact.  I never really thought I wanted to go.  Being a writer, you don’t have to get a degree.  You really just have to write and be diligent about it.  But after years of writing short stories, poems, and even a novel and not having even a nible, I think I just need to get out of my bubble.  I have taken community writing classes and been to festivals, but I fell as if I have used those places to their fullest.

So I went to an information session at a local college, and it seemed to be the next step.  I’m not looking to go to get published.  I want to go to be a better writer.  I think I need that push that only academics (and an expensive tuition check) can give me.  Plus I am excited about some of the classes.  I remember hearing something about older students going back to school and how they are more focused.  They know what they are there for and it shows in how they approach their classes.  I can see how that would apply to me.  Also, the program is designed for working adults so all classes are nights and weekends.  Perfect!

You know, a year ago I would have never thought about grad school.  But how quickly things change when one thing in your life does.  I got furloughed (with a pay cut), so I decided to get healthy.  Then I decided to get my writing career healthy.  Now I’m 30+ pounds lighter and thinking about my MA in writing. Not everything is perfect in my life, but things are getting better…  I think it will be a good 2010.  Happy New Year!

Almost Ready…

So, things got busy.  Again.  A trip to Scranton, PA, a full schedule, and a tree trimmer, and I’m still forgetting to update this regularly.  But things are getting better.  Atleast, it didn’t take me six months to add something more.

On the new stuff front, I tried yoga a week ago.  I didn’t think I would like it, but wow was I wrong.  The only problem was that I bought a tape that wasn’t for beginners.  Everything was fine, until the instructor said to go from downward dog into the splits!

Yeah, I’m not that flexible yet.

Then she went into the crow pose and I had to just stand there in my living room shaking my head.  That is not going to happen anytime soon.  But the rest of the dvd was good.  It really stretched me out and any tightness I had was gone.  Sunday morning is officially yoga day.  I will just have to go back to the store and find one for beginners.  Denise Austin’s Yoga Burn  is a bit too advanced for me.

Working on a new story.  Hopefully, I will get it together and post one soon.  I know which one I want to put up first, I just have to make the time.  I realize now that writing is like exercising.  I will never find the time.  I have to make the time.

It’s funny… I’ve always known that, but suddenly it is now making sense.