Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Writing Music

Hopefully next month I will be able to devote more time and mental energy to Out of Coffee, Out of Mind. But in the meantime, please enjoy this selection of writing music. 

And that's it for today, my little coffee beans. Have you heard any of these before? (Bonus points if you can figure out which show soundtrack includes most, if not all, of these songs.) Do you have any musical recommendations of your own? 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I Did a Thing

Well hello there, gorgeous. 

Oh sorry, I was talking to myself. What are you doing here, anyway? *awkward silence* Right, it’s time for my Wednesday blog post. About that…

Unfortunately, I’ve been super lazy busy packing for my move, and haven’t written anything. But I did record a cover of one of my favorite songs, and while it’s nowhere near perfect, *cue agonized, unbalanced laughter* it’s all I’ve got to share today. So here. Knock yourself out. (I apologize for the low sound quality—I recorded it on my iPod. And I apologize if it makes your ears bleed—I don't really have an excuse for that.)

What about you, my little coffee beans? Do you like to sing? Do you have any YouTube videos to share? What are some of your favorite songs? 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Bookshelf Tour Tag // Original Tag

Last year, I was nominated for the Bookshelf Tag, and I had a lot of fun answering the questions. But recently I’ve been wanting to answer more bookshelf-related questions, so I decided to go ahead and create a tag of my own. Voila. 

A short but powerful book

This isn’t a particularly happy story, or even one that made a whole lot of sense to people. But there’s also something deep and moving about it—in a painful, meaningless sort of way—and when it’s performed in theaters, it’s a great way to troll audiences. 

A good, long book

While GONE WITH THE WIND was not the easiest story to get through, mainly because Scarlett started to wear on me, it is also well-written and insightful. If you especially like sweeping historicals with selfish heroines and intrigue, then this book will be right up your alley. 

Favorite classic (on your shelf) 

I have a tiny obsession with books about vampires (you may have noticed this, if you've been following me on Goodreads), particularly books that deal with the morality issues surrounding vampirism. I think there’s a whole lot of room in this sub-genre for deep philosophical and metaphorical thought. But despite the many vampire stories I’ve devoured, DRACULA remains my favorite. 

A relatively obscure book

I haven’t read this book yet, but I’m hoping to within the next few months. My friend recommended it to me when we were shopping for used books, and since she has good taste in literature, I decided to buy a copy. Apparently it deals with a priest trying to find meaning behind the deaths of five people, which sounds like something right up my alley. 

An underrated book

IMAGINARY GIRLS isn’t for everyone, as evinced by all the negative reviews out there, but I absolutely loved it, and I shall continue to thrust it in your faces until the end of time (or, you know, until you get super annoyed and leave). 

An overrated book

I haven’t read many good reviews for this one, but it has a 4.17 star review on Goodreads. Unfortunately, I was rather disappointed by it, and only gave it two stars. *sad face* I just felt that it didn’t make for a strong trilogy conclusion. 

Most reread book

I think I’ve read this book at least ten times (although I’ve only read the copy I own once). 

Of all the books you own, how many have you not read? (An approximation will suffice.)

What an awful question. Who thought of it? Oh right, me. *nervous laugh* 

Since I don’t have all my books with me at the moment, I’ll just have to guesstimate that, out of the 600 or so books I own, I have yet to read about 300 of them. But while in some bookish circles having this many unread books is a mark of shame, I try to stay excited about this number because, if the apocalypse happened and I was never able to reach a bookstore again, I would still have a lot of new material to devour. 

A book you haven’t read

I already asked how many books you haven’t read, I know. But now it’s time to get specific. Out of all the books languishing on your shelves, surely at least one sticks out to you. What book has been nagging you to read it for ages? I want to know. 

Mine is A TALE OF TWO CASTLES. I’ve owned it for about five or six years now, and my sister has even read it. I love the author, I love the idea of the story, and I’ve been wanting to pick it up forever. But for some reason, I just haven’t. Maybe this year I will bite the bullet. 

A short story collection 

I’ve discussed some of my short story collections on this blog before, including A PLEASURE TO BURN. But I’m going to feature it again, because I can, and because you need to read it. (Pretty please.) It’s like extra-delicious, literary ice cream for your brain, but healthier. 

Enjoy that mental image.

A non-fiction book

I own two copies of this book because I love it so much. *eyebrows raise around the room* But before you judge me, let me just say that I don’t espouse Machiavelli’s views on government. I do, however, find them useful for writing villainous power figures. And if we’re talking disturbing political ideas and the lesser of two evils, let’s just say I prefer Machiavelli’s notions over Sir Thomas More’s suggestions in UTOPIA. But that’s a matter for another post. 

A book (physical copy, not the story itself) that has an interesting story behind it

You may recall a certain blog post where I talked about the day my pastor got stabbed. In it, I mentioned spilling coffee on one of my nicest books. To give you a little more detail, I had brought my really nice copy of HOLLOW CITY into church with me that Monday, because I was going to hang out there all day, and I needed something to read during my breaks from writing (my sister works at the church, so sometimes I write there, for a change of scenery). Something told me I shouldn’t bring HOLLOW CITY with me, because I was worried I would damage it somehow, but I really wanted to read it that day, and I am stubborn and often ignore the little warnings in my head (always to my detriment). 

Anyway, we had to evacuate the building after the stabbing because information was slow in coming and there was some concern that the man who attacked my pastor would show up at the church. In my hurry to get out, I had just grabbed up all my stuff, and I hadn’t made sure my book bag (with HOLLOW CITY in it) was safely on my shoulder. As I was speed-walking, it slipped down to my elbow, and when I reached to fix it, coffee splashed out of my thermos (this gross, Keurig coffee that I had decided not to drink and had been too lazy to dump out earlier, even though I had told myself that it was a spill hazard waiting to happen). 

Long story short, I tried to ignore the coffee stains on my book, because it’s just a book, and it’s just coffee, and all that. But I don’t deal well with damaged books on the best of days, and I especially didn’t like looking at the stains and remembering, every time I saw them, the awful way I felt that day. (To help you understand this, I already have PTSD, and needing to evacuate the building tapped into that. For more information, I refer you to this post.) I mentioned the stain to my sister, and she was super nice and bought me a new copy, just like that (and took my original copy off my hands for me). So this story has a happy ending, because my pastor is okay, and I don’t have to stare at the coffee stains and remember the hours when I wasn’t sure he was going to make it. 

I still haven’t read HOLLOW CITY yet, but I hope to tackle it soon. 

The moral of this story is three-fold. Keurig coffee is evil incarnate. Maybe don’t bring one of your nicest books with you when you’re going out. And I should really listen to the warning bells in my brain. 

And that’s it for the tag. Now for the nominees. Since this is an original tag, I’m just going to go ahead and name everyone I can think of (sorry in advance if I forget you—it’s nothing personal, just me being scatter-brained). If I’ve tagged you, and you don’t want to participate, that’s fine—you are by no means required to do this tag. Similarly, if I haven’t named you and you would like to participate, please do so and drop me a link in the comments so I can read your post. 

What about you, little coffee beans? Do you like the classics? Have you ever spilled coffee on a book?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Life Update #2 // Wherein I Admit to Having Fallen off the Face of the Earth

Wait, what do you mean a third of the year is already over? I only have eight months left until 2017? How could this happen? *cue agonized screaming*

Apparently it’s time to write another update. 

Reading News 

These past two months were really good in terms of reading. I had fewer reading slumps in the March/April period than I did in January/February. And as for the number of five star books I read, either I’ve gone soft, or I’ve just had phenomenal luck. To top that off, I managed to get ahead on my Goodreads reading goal. Since I don’t plan to have much time for reading in November, hopefully I’ll be able to maintain that leeway until then. 

So let’s have a look at the stats: 

Number of books read this year


Here's a link, if you'd like to see the list.

Number of books read in the past two months


Number of books read in March


Number of books read in April


Number of new reads


Number of rereads


Not what I was hoping for, I know, but I’m planning to focus more on rereading over the next two months.

Number of audiobooks devoured


Bookish Highlights

Bookish Ratings Breakdown

Five stars


Four stars


Three stars


Two stars


In other reading news, here are my rearranged bookshelves.  

Yes, I do have motor oil on the bottom shelf. Don't judge.

You may notice that there are more books on these shelves than last time. That’s because I bought a bunch and sent for a bunch from home. I still have about 230 books back in Maine, so it will be a while before my entire collection is reunited, but that just means I get to spend more time listening to audiobooks and rearranging my shelves. Of course, I do look forward to the time when all my darlings are with me and I can have more books to look at and say, “I should read/reread that some day.” 

Life News

But now that we’ve talked about some of the positive aspects (Books! Reading! Stats!), it’s time to talk about the harder stuff. I’m not going to lie to you—March and April were difficult for me. I’ve been dealing with some problems that I wasn’t able to deal with when I was younger, and I’ve been reevaluating my views on everything as I clean out my mind and reorganize my head, but it hasn’t been quick or easy or fun. Sometimes it takes most of my mental energy just to get out of bed in the morning and dress myself, let alone make breakfast or write or make coffee or maintain an optimistic point of view or do all the other basic things that I need to be doing. 

That’s not to say there haven’t been positive moments to balance things out. For instance, while it was horrible that my pastor got stabbed (information here and here), he’s going to be okay! As for more mundane stuff, I saw a movie in theaters for the first time since New Year’s Eve. I thought I had lost all my work on my final draft of DRACONIAN when my computer randomly shut down, but then I found I had just labeled the file differently and forgotten about it. The weather has been nicer so I’ve been able to sit outside more, which does wonders for my thought health. I’m going to be moving soon to a quieter, more writerly neighborhood, with more space to live in and more places to walk. It rained yesterday, so that was nice. It's raining right now, too. I love rain. And I’ve been getting into audiobooks, which has allowed me to get more reading done overall. 

Also, I bought combat boots! 

But on the whole, I’m finding I need to operate on energy-saving mode for a while, which brings me to my next update. 

Blogging News

I had to cut back on my number of posts per week for April (which I have decided to do for May as well, partially because of my aforementioned move). I’ve been dealing with physical pain and mental pain and discouragement, and I’m just really tired. I’ve found, with my current level of mental energy, that most days I have to sacrifice something, and usually that ends up being socialization. I’ve cut back on reading blogs and answering comments and talking with people on social media or in person. I’ve had to do this because any sort of interaction, even good interaction, drains me, and lately I just haven’t had the battery power to spare. That being said, I do miss you all, and I am working to get back to a position where I can keep up with friends and blogs and life. I just can’t promise that that will be soon, or even that it will be on the same level as it was before. I’ve had to accept that, from the end of last year to the beginning of this year, I spent too much time and energy pretending I was okay and able to do everything that a normal, functional person can do, and it ended up hurting me and setting me back. 

On a more positive note, I still love blogging, and I do have a lot of plans for future posts and discussions and reviews, so please don’t worry that I’m going to stay fallen off the face of the earth forever. I have started to answer comments as well, a little bit at a time, so don’t worry—I will answer all of your brilliant remarks eventually. 

If you’re curious for more random bits of info, here are my five most popular posts for March/April: 

Writing news

I lost Camp NaNoWriMo. My goal had been to edit roughly 80,000 words, or, in other terms, to finish my (hopefully) final draft of DRACONIAN. For various reasons, mainly discouragement, that did not happen. I ended up editing roughly 60,000 words (and then forgetting to update my final word count on the site), and I hope to finish the rest soon. Surprisingly, I’m not as upset about this as I would have expected myself to be, considering that I don’t like to lose at writing-related stuff. In fact, I’m not upset at all. I made progress, and I’m encouraged by what I did get done, and I think all things considered, I did what I could. I’m too tired to be hard on myself for not living up to my high expectations all the time. I would rather drink coffee than lecture my poor little brain. 

And that’s it for my bi-monthly wrap-up, little coffee beans. Now please excuse me while I slink back to my editing cave. In the meantime, I’d love to know what you’ve been up to over the past two months. What are some fun things you’ve done? What have you been struggling with lately? What books do you hope to read in the coming months?