Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Life Update #1 // Wherein I Whine Copiously

I’ve mentioned before that time tends to get away from me. Whole months pass, and I barely notice. Case in point: Right now my brain still thinks it’s November 2015. So far I feel like I have done a great deal this year yet, simultaneously, I feel as though I have done relatively little. I have only ten months left to accomplish my goals for 2016, and I have so much I want to do beyond those goals. Excuse me while I panic. 

But first, let me backtrack and explain myself. I’ve always enjoyed reading weekly/monthly recaps on other blogs, and I think it’s about time I start doing my own version, at least for the time being. So, from now on, I will be posting updates/recaps every two months. Mostly these will involve writing, reading, and blogging-related stuff, and I will try to make them as interesting as possible. Truth be told, my main goal for these is to encourage my mind to keep better track of time. We’ll see how that goes. 

Writing News

For as long as I can remember (which isn’t very far when it comes to stuff like this), winter has brought a near-constant struggle with cabin fever and depression. This means I have a significant amount of trouble getting much writing (and thinking) done. Most times, the only thing that can get my mind working again after my seasonal slump is the smell of spring air. So while January and February have been difficult for me because of the weather, the temperature is starting to rise, and I can smell the ground again. (Don’t ask why—it’s just always been important for me to catch a whiff of soil-scented air every now and then. The smell of new leaves is equally helpful.) 

I guess I've made decent progress on editing and such over the past two months, but I have also had far too many slow days, and far too few good days, and I would really like that to change. Part of this has to do with the season, but an equal part has to do with the fact that I had one beta reader who really disliked DRACONIAN and wasn’t afraid to tell me. So that was fun. I in no way intend to bash this person—they weren’t rude, just very blunt. In terms of difficult feedback, I could have had it much worse, and this person has given me a lot to think about. But while even that sort of feedback can be helpful in the long run, and while I have gotten better at accept criticism of my work (translation=even this rather harsh critique didn’t make me cry), it can still be challenging to walk it off. Over the past few months I have struggled against the temptation to see my novel as horrible, worthless, and unsalvageable. I am still learning how to determine which comments will help me make my novel better and which comments I just need to delete from my mental memory banks. But all that is easier said than done when you’re a people-pleaser like me. Let me tell you, it’s not pretty in my head right now. 

On the plus side, Victoria @ The Endless Oceans of My Mind, Opal @ Opal Swirls, and the rest of my beta readers have given me phenomenal feedback and I wish I could send them all truckloads of coffee and books. 

Hopefully by my next bi-monthly update, I will have much better news to share with you on the writing front. And if I don’t have the last round of edits for DRACONIAN finished by that time, you all have permission to take away my coffee and banish me to the corner of shame. 

Reading News 

Along with writing difficulties, I struggled with sporadic reading slumps over the past two months, and I ended up taking an entire week (as well as miscellaneous weekends and weekdays) off from reading. So, while I am more than on track for my goal of 175 books this year, I am behind where I know I could be and where I would like to be. 

That being said, I did manage to read 33 books—14 in January, 19 in February—and I guess it’s pretty telling that I can’t even be hugely pleased with those numbers. Hopefully March and April will be kinder to me on that count, since I will be able to read outside more often without freezing to death. 

Here’s the bookish breakdown, if you’re interested: 

Favorite book of the year (so far) 

Just as an aside here, have you seen the cover for GEMINA? Because it is gorgeous and I would give my left pinky finger for October to come early. 

Least favorite book of the year (so far) 

Coincidentally, I had quite a bit of fun writing a discussion post for this one, and that discussion has already made it to the top ten list of most popular Out of Coffee, Out of Mind posts. So that was exciting. 

Number of rereads

I know, I know. My reread goal for this year is at least 88 books. Obviously I need to step up the pace on this front. 

Number of new reads 


I just can’t help myself—new books are so shiny and beautiful. I must read them all. 

Bookish Ratings Breakdown

Five Stars


Either I’m super easy to please, or I’ve had some great luck so far. Hopefully this will last. 

Four Stars


This is also a good number, so no complaints here. 

Three Stars


Contrary to popular belief, when I give a book three stars, it doesn’t mean I hate it or never plan to reread it. This is basically my default category for books I really liked but had some problems with and therefore wouldn’t shove into people’s faces with abandon.) 

Two Stars


This, on the other hand, was less fun. It makes me very sad to give books only two stars. And three of these happened in a row, which didn’t help my reading slump much. 

One Star


Conversely, I do experience a mild burst of evil glee when I give a book one star. Maybe because the book tortured me and now I get to return the favor? *shrugs* I may be slightly vindictive when it comes to these things. 

Book reviews written


I say “ish” because some of those reviews are more discussions than reviews. Also, I published a few teeny, tiny reviews on Goodreads, but only as teasers (so I didn't count them). Now I need to stop lollygagging and write the full reviews. I also need to figure out how many times I can say "reviews" in one paragraph before you stab me with a butter knife. 

Life News

On Valentine’s Day, my sister and I set each other up on bookish blind dates. I had my sister read my copy of A HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY (which I read last year and loved) and she set me up with THE SLAVE DANCER and NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND (they were both wonderful). 

In other news, I’ve been eyeing my bookshelves and trying to decide how I want to rearrange them so they look better. Since I don't have all my books with me, and since I intend to send for a lot of the ones I left at my parents' house, I still don’t have everything planned out yet. But when I post my next life update at the end of April, I will try to have pictures of my at-least-partially-rearranged bookshelves to share with you. 

I apologize for the low quality of the photos. I don't have a nice camera. 

As for movies and music, my favorite movies of the year (so far) would be THE MARTIAN and THE INTERN. (THE MARTIAN is also my new favorite movie of ever. *happy dance*) My favorite band of the year (and of ever) would be Twenty One Pilots

For my next life update, I will try to have more interesting things to say in this section. Otherwise it’s going to start looking like I don’t have a life aside from reading, writing, and blogging (which I don’t, but that’s not the point). 

Blogging News

My blog stats have been exploding since December, and while that growth has slowed somewhat over the past week, it is still showing no signs of stopping. Honestly, I am rather shocked that so many people seem interested in what I have to say. Allow me to let you in on a little secret. But first you have to promise not to tell anyone. Promise? Okay. Now lean in so I can whisper it in your ear. My secret is that I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE WHAT I AM DOING. I AM JUST FIGURING THIS OUT AS I GO ALONG. 

In keeping with all the other depressive slumps I’ve been whining about, there is also a downside to this rapid growth. I have more blogs to follow and comment on, since I make it a point always to comment back. And I have more comments to answer and a larger pressure on my brain to provide good content that will keep people interested. That last bit is especially tricky. I refer you to my previous point about not knowing what I’m doing. 

As I’ve already said, I am a people-pleaser, unfortunately, and I worry a lot that people will become impatient with me if I take too long to comment back on their blogs or answer their comments on mine. I worry people will assume that I don’t enjoy their blogs or that I’m turning into a snob. And I think it’s going to take a while before I adjust to this new sort of pressure. 

Honestly, though, I don’t mean to whine. In comparison with so many other issues, this is an awesome struggle to have, and I really have no cause to complain. I want to thank all of you lovely coffee beans for overwhelming me with comments and page views. You’re all my favorite. And just so you know, when I do get behind on answering comments and visiting blogs (like, right now), it doesn’t mean that I don’t like you anymore. Promise. 

In other bloggish news, I spruced up my blog design a little by adding a drop-down menu, a contact form, and a new profile picture, among other things. During this whole process, I learned that drop-down menus take a lot more coding and time than I had anticipated, especially if you try editing code when you’re tired and not thinking clearly. If you’re curious to know some of the resources I used, the links are here, here, and here.  

To wrap up this blogging update, here are my three most popular posts of January/February: 

And, without any further ado, I’ll let you get back to your lovely days, and I hope you have a wonderful spring (or autumn, for those in the Southern Hemisphere). 

Well, that’s it for today, little coffee beans. How has your year been so far? Have you read or done anything interesting? Have you ever had really difficult beta reader feedback? Are you looking forward to the season change? 


  1. Ugh, I'm sorry to hear about the feedback. Even when it's helpful and needed, it doesn't make it hurt any less really, does it? And I know what you mean about the pressures of blogging and commenting. I never stay caught up for more than a couple of hours, and I'm always worried that people are going to give on me and my blog and think I'm unfriendly if I don't answer right away, or keep up with ALL the blogs. Having people reading is great, but the pressure of keeping up isn't nearly so nice. Personally, I'm failing on that front at the moment. I even forgot to post yesterday's post when I had it all written and formatted and everything I'm that disorganised! Goodness though, those Illuminae Files book covers are GORGEOUS. I wants the pretties. *grabby hands*

    1. I shall survive. But yeah, it's still no fun. I'm the same way. And the more I get behind, the more I freak out and freeze up and find myself unable to engage and get caught up again. It's no fun to be as behind as I am on answering comments, but I think it was also healthy for me to just not worry about it for a couple months. I mean, I survived.
      They are super gorgeous. *uses them as wallpaper*

      Thanks for commenting! :)

  2. 1) Sorry about cabin fever. That seriously sucks, but BRING ON SPRING!
    2) *breathes sigh of relief* I thought for a second I was that beta reader who hated Draconian, and I nearly had a heart attack. (I often worry I'm too blunt with critiques, so I was actually scared that I've damaged your writing career.) But I'm so (so so so) glad you found my feedback useful!!!
    3) Best of luck (although you hardly need luck) with finishing your editing. Because it is/will be awesome.
    4) I feel like I'm the slowest reader in the world, because I think I've read about five books this February :) Slow and steady, right?
    5) CONGRATS ON BLOG GROWTH. That is awesome. (Even with the extra pressure/time commitments.) (It just goes to show that people want to listen to what you have to say :) )
    6) Thank you for remembering the Southern Hemisphere!!!! *sends virtual hugs*

    For me this year, writing had a bit of a slow start due to Europe (but I'm hardly complaining), but now it's picked up and I'm finishing up draft 3 of "Formulas," which is exciting because if you recall my "editing is like going to Mordor" post I wasn't thrilled with my first draft. I seem to recall comparing editing that thing to having my arm melted off with acid, and that's still a pretty accurate description (but it's getting there!!!!)

    1. And spring is here! *happy dance* It was also nice to move house so I could have more space to knock about. :P
      Haha, no. Sorry! You're feedback was absolutely wonderful. Nothing to be concerned about.
      Thank you! :)
      Slow and steady is great. *nods* And I've noticed slower readers tend to absorb more of the books they read, so hey. :)
      Aww, thank you! :)
      You are welcome. T'was the least I could do. *doffs hat* *accepts virtual hugs*

      I'm so glad editing is going well for you! (And also that you got to go to Europe. :D) *sends you all the coffee*

      Thanks for commenting! :)

  3. I promise that spring is coming eventually! Hang in there!

    Sorry to hear about the beta reader issue. Being a writer is difficult sometimes.

    Congrats on your blog growth! If you ever feel stressed out/behind on writing comments, don't feel bad about getting over to my place. I totally understand not having time to comment on other peoples' blogs.

    Best of luck! Your references to coffee will keep me coming back, so no worries about keeping this reader.

    1. :D

      It is indeed. But it has it's perks to, so it all evens out. :P

      Thank you! I love your blog though, and I'm sad I've been missing out on it lately. :( I hope to catch up soon.

      Aww, thank you! :) And thanks for commenting! :)

  4. That is so cute that you and your sister traded blind book dates for Valentine's Day! That is like, completely and totally adorable. <3 I want to do that sometime.

    I'm really sorry that some feedback really makes you feel bad about your work, that is really sad. :( But I'm glad it didn't make you cry. I've felt really bad about certain criticisms from people who actually really enjoyed my book and at least my eyes got a little wet from the shame and it took me a few months to get over myself but HEY. They were right and I just needed to learn to accept that.

    Let's see... Like everyone else, I will say congrats on your blog's growth! :D People aren't attracted to this place because you know what you're doing, they come here because you are awesome. Just saying.

    Also, yay for reading! I'm really curious about Illuminae, Gemina looks pretty, and yeah. Swept to Sea was BLAH.

    1. It was super fun. :) I highly recommend it. :)

      I've cried at criticism before, but I've been working on not taking it personal, so I'm glad I've gotten a bit better at it. It still takes me a while to get over myself though. *sheepish face*

      Aww, thank you! You're so nice! *showers you with coffee beans*

      Illuminae is really good! I hope you get a chance to read it. :)

      Thanks for commenting! :)

  5. Aw, I hope you get over your writing slump soon! :D And blunt critiques can be rough, whether deserved or not. But in the end, I think they generally make us better: whether they teach us how to shrug off harsh criticism or we accept the critiques and improve our craft. :)

    And yes, I totally agree about the comments. Like, I love love LOVE LOVE LOVE comments, don't get me wrong. But I'm terrible at replying and commenting back in a timely manner, and then a week goes by and I realize, OMW I MEANT TO REPLY TO THEM AND I TOTALLY FORGOT OR I DIDN'T HAVE TIME, CRAP THEY MUST HATE ME NOW.
    So yeah. I relate. :)


    1. I'm coming out of it now, I think, so that's good. Even if blunt critiques aren't particularly helpful by themselves, sometimes unhelpful suggestions can get my brain working on helpful suggestions, so hey. It's a trade-off. And it is helpful to learn to have a thicker skin, because writing isn't all cotton candy and butterflies.

      I'm so glad I'm not the only one! It gives me hope that people aren't automatically judging me when I'm super late in responding. :P

      Thanks for commenting! :)

  6. January was my slump month. They happen. I hope when spring rolls around you'll get a spring in your step! Yeah that was bad. XD You read way more than me! I'm a slow reader so I usually read only 2 or 3 books a month. I'm looking for reading life updates. I like those. ^ ^

    My February:

    1. Indeed they do. :P Aww, thank you! And the same to you! :) I'm a bit obsessive when it comes to readers. Stats are sometimes more important to me than they should be, but I also do find it helpful to push myself. There's so much I want to read and reread. I'm glad you like the reading life updates. :)

      I totally need to catch up on your blog. I'm sorry I'm so behind. :(

      Thanks for commenting! :)

  7. I'm sorry. You read 33 BOOKS IN TWO MONTHS?! At most, I've three books in one month which normally doesn't happen.

    Oh, writing criticism is difficult. Because you want to be mindful of what was said, but at the same time not all advice is going to work for you, your writing style, and your book. So what do you keep and what do you leave? And it does tend to create a mental block every time you sit to write. It does for me anyway. It's not easy to get past. Also, sometimes people dislike a book because it just wasn't for them, not because it was bad or was badly written. I know Oddball is definitely not something that everyone will like. I guess I'm saying, don't change your book just for the whims of one reader. Unless of course, that reader is you. ;) Hope it gets better!

    Oh, The Intern. XD That was such a delightful movie. :) Definitely enjoyed it.

    Congrats on the growth of your blog! That's so awesome! I do understand about blogging burnout. I get that often and tend to disappear. I used to follow a ton of blogs, but then kinda stopped because it was just too much. Which wasn't great in terms of growing my blog and getting to know other bloggers, but I needed the break at the time. So yeah, I for one understand if you don't get back to my comments or something. XD No pressure here.

    1. *sheepish laugh* I did indeed. But hey, even getting one book read a month is wonderful, because reading is wonderful. And there were times in high school when I didn't have much time and only got to read a non-school book or two in a month.

      Yeah, it's difficult to sort out the useful criticism from the not useful. And it can be hard to tell why I dislike a piece of feedback--if it's because the reader hasn't understood my story, or if it's because I just don't like having someone find fault with my work. :P Ah well, it does get a little better with practice. I hope it gets better for you too! :)

      It really was. :) I'm glad you liked it!

      Thank you! :) I think I'm going to have to cut back on the extent of blog reading I do on a regular basis (when I, you know, actually get back to blog reading). I start feeling guilty about skipping the occasional post from bloggers I love, but I do think it would help me stay on top of things. I guess I can't be everywhere doing everything. *sad face*

      Thanks for commenting! :)