#Review: #TheGlassCastle by Jeannette Walls ♥♥♥♥♥




My emotions are all over the place after listening to the audiobook for The Glass Castle.

This is the first memoir I’ve taken upon myself to read. I usually find the idea of memoirs boring, as I am more of an “other-wordly” type of girl and, obviously, accounts of real life lack that certain kind of magic.

The life of Jeannette Walls is far more terrible, and somehow magical, than I could have ever imagined.

This story had so many feelings wrestling within me, but mostly just plain anger. I cannot BELIEVE half of what her parents put her through. What makes it even worse is that most, if not all, could have been prevented. And that which could not be, should have been handled so much better. Walls did not have an easy childhood, and yet she somehow found happiness through most of it, even when the rest of us would be completely defeated. Obviously, as she grew older and wiser, she started seeing what her parents were putting her through for what it was, but even after taking charge of her life and well-being, she still managed to hold onto the love for her parents that I, personally, would have probably walked away from.

No child should go hungry because a mother believes self-esteem is more important than eating. No child should be denied medical care because a parent thinks modern medicine is some big conspiracy.
No child should suffer abuse (in so many forms) and have their parents make excuses for their attackers, if not outright ignoring them.

That Jeanette Walls survived, and later shared with the world, is a magic in it’s own right. This book isn’t easy to read. But anything worth doing is never easy.

~ Duckie



The ABC’s of Being a Writer: Impatience

So, I have been a part of the “writing world” for a couple of years now and I’ve learned a lot. While I have been writing for far longer than that, I have never been a part of the writing community or been able to utilize what they had to offer. Hell, I didn’t even know what they had to offer. If I had known the tips, tricks, support, advice, and challenges available, I might have never gone through with self-publishing Deny the Moon as fast as I did.


Okay, so I know I wouldn’t have. I would have known:

  • Publishers rarely take queries for books that have been self-published.
  • There is a whole society of people who willingly read your manuscripts and tell you what you are doing wrong before you make it public.
  • Putting a book out with basically no online presence gives you about as much exposure as a Puritan woman’s kneecap.
  • Agents are not as out-of-reach as I had earlier believed.

I have suffered the folly of many first-time authors. We are so eager to put our work out there so we can proclaim ourselves as “real authors” that we rush headlong into it without thinking about, or learning, the consequences of it.


Indeed, there is an overwhelming sense of impatience that comes along with being a writer. Especially one questing for that holy grail of accomplishments: a publishing contract. I mean, take this blog for example. If you notice, I started this series with the letter “I” instead of “A”. If that doesn’t illustrate the impatience of a writer, I don’t know what does.

Of course, it’s more likely that I just like doing things bass-ackwards.

Luckily, over the past two years, I have found my way to some incredible writing groups. 10 Minute Novelists is full of peers in various stages of writing and publishing and are always ready to lend you real-world advice or give you some support when you need it. There are many agents, editors, and publishers on Twitter that lend you unique insights, like Sara Megabow’s #10queriesin10minutes where she reads 10 submissions from a slush pile live on Twitter and explains why she might pass or accept it.


As writers, we want instant gratification. We don’t want to write a book for years and years, only to have to wait even MORE years to (hopefully) get it published. We want to see our name on a book now. With the growing acceptance of self-publishing, we are finding ourselves closer to that instant gratification, but at what price?

The markets are flooding faster than we can keep up with. Not just that, but the ease of access means most of the floods come from novice writers whose manuscripts have no business being published yet. I should know. I am one of them! (I’ve recently pulled Deny the Moon from online shelves, but more on that in a bit.) Because it takes so long to write a decent novel, by the time we finish one traditional publishers and literary agents are sick of the influx of your genre, making all that time and effort feel wasted. Which makes us fall on self-publishing even more and, when the market starts to thin a bit and agents start wanting those genres again, we are ineligible to submit it to them because we have already published. Impatience thwarts us again!


As I have said, I pulled my book from Amazon and Smashwords because of many reasons. After a few years being a part of the herd, I have come to the shocking understanding that my book is not the best it could be. -GASP- I know, right?

If I had known what a critique partner was before I tumbled down the rabbit hole, I would have a better grip on my craft already and would most likely be starting the query process with Deny the Moon. And I probably would have been rejected because no one cares about Werewolves right now. Eh. Win some/Lose some. However, because I was more worried about being considered a “real author”—what does that even mean?!—when I am finally done making the book the best it can be, I still won’t be able to ship it anywhere. I mean, I can try, but I know the chances are nil. It’s okay though. Lesson learned.


So if you take anything away from this rambling, let it be to slow down. I know you want to be on bookshelves. It’s okay, we all do. But take your time. Join some communities, get active on twitter, exchange some chapters with an unbiased critique partner. Do everything you can before making the leap. And if after all that you still wanna self-publish? Eh, go for it. Smashwords is a fantastic platform.


Originally posted by Melissa A. Graham (Duckie) on melissaagraham.wordpress.com

#Review: Lady Blackwing by Devorah Fox ♥♥♥ #ShortStories



I received a free copy of Lady Blackwing in exchange for an honest review

Lady Blackwing gets what it’s like to be a writer. Inspiration can be found anywhere, but it’s often like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall. First we open with the author that just knows his writing is great, but gets no affirmation. Then we meet Mercedes who looks at the world with a writer’s eyes, who lets stories consume her to the point of near-dysfunction.

Yeah… it’s exactly like that, and it made me chuckle to read it played out by another.

So, let’s get to the book. Short stories are not my usual thing. Mostly because I find it difficult to immerse myself in a handful of pages and when I read I crave escape. That being said, it’s also so incredibly hard to stuff a full story arch into those limits.

I think Fox did well at giving us a short and sweet story. I found a few issues that could be worked on (head hopping, opening with a character whose personality I would normally avoid like the plague in real life, and issues with punctuation and flow) that did make it a little hard to push through to the end.

On an imaginative and story-crafting standpoint, I think Devorah Fox could really breathe life into this girl and her adventures. It’s a unique and fun power she discovers, and it’s that uniqueness and imagery that will make me pick up another one of Fox’s longer novels.


Buy Link: Here         Other Works: Here           Author Page: Here

#Review: Shades of Darkness by @JRLindermuth ♥♥♥♥


I am not exactly a connoisseur of mystery novels, at least not mysteries that don’t have a bit of supernatural element to them. That being said, once I was able to get into this read I could not put it down.

When Jan Kepler is found dead in her beloved birding woods, Officer Flora Vestine and detective Sticks Hetrick have their work cut out for them. Solving any homicide can be tricky. That’s especially true when your victim is a law-abiding citizen, keeps completely to herself, and whose only hobby is birding. Even while they were in school together, Flora can’t recall Jan having a single friend. Even now, as a teacher in that same school, Jan’s peers and students liked her well-enough, but only had one friend—the formidable town spinster. Throw in a sudden–and seemingly random–string of car thefts and the unlawful timbering, and it’s a tangled web of bad leads and dead ends.

A great mystery is chock full of personality and intrigue, and Lindermuth does not fail to deliver. He manages to breathe life into the community of Swatara Creek, complete with eccentricities, heart-wrenching personal struggles, and flavors from every walk of life. His rich, authentic dialogue makes the characters pop out of the page and his descriptions of the township suck you right into their world with ease.

There are many theories to choose from as you journey to find Jan’s killer, and it keeps you guessing ’til the very end.


Now the cons:

There are couple moments of jarring tense shift, and sometimes it is difficult to remember what name belongs to what character as there are so many involved (not a bad thing, exactly. I like a variety of characters.) The surnames are somewhat unusual from your typical “Smith, Williams, etc.” which I think has a little to do with the getting mixed up easily. Or that might just be me, ha!

If you love a good little mystery to cozy up to, I would definitely put the works of J.R. Lindermuth on your reading list!



Buy Link: Here         Other Works: Here           Author Page: Here


I received a copy of Shades of Darkness in exchange for an honest review.

Reality Checks: Do You Take IOUs?

I’ve been sitting and stewing on a topic that, recently, hit close to home. How do you balance the expectations and hopes of being an author with the realities of the trade? Can you be just an author? Or do you have to be the dreaded “slasher”? The author/mother/student/full time (insert job title here)/part time (insert again).

I think it’s fairly natural to have the highest of expectations in the beginning. The dewey-eyed, “I want to be a famous author” phase. When we figure out what we want to do with out lives, that is all we want to do. There are no “and”s, “or”s, or even “if”s. We will write. We will be authors. End of story.

Unfortunately, as time goes on, the realities start to creep in and taint our gusto. Bills continue to be bills. Fees continue to fee. Life happens. Whether it’s a broken-down car or the sixth pair of shoes for your son because he just refuses to stop dragging his toes (I’m looking at you, Booboo), you start to realize that you need a steady income. Can you achieve a steady income with writing? Sure.

But it ain’t gonna happen overnight.

So you start tacking on the slashes. You are now a writer/full time cook. One shows the skills, the other pays the bills. It’s the way the world works. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that you will never be able to quit your day job and survive off of your writing. It’s happened. I’m just saying that you should always have a back up, at least until you become a best-seller (Hell, probably even after that. Groceries are getting expensive, yo!)

Just don’t let reality steal your thunder, either.

Yup. Too much realism is just as bad as having none. Realism is exactly the opposite of a fiction-writer. Too much realism cancels out imagination. You need imagination to create your art. You need realism to survive. A healthy balance of both is needed to remain sane.

A month or so ago, my oldest (we shall call her Bug) was the topic of discussion. I was posting on facebook, celebrating the miniscule fruits of my labor, when an older family member in her life began to question the validity of being an author. To get right down to it, without bringing up all the messy feelings, she was trying to convince me to talk my daughter out of being an author. She wants to write. I love that. The girl has a great imagination and has potential (if she could pay attention in her English classes -stares-). Right off the bat, I got defensive.

How dare you try and talk this bright girl out of a dream she has? She began to argue, with me, the merits of having a “real” job and being a “constructive member of society” rather than wasting time in a hobby that doesn’t pay enough. Well, I can tell you, I felt offended. Since when did being a writer mean you didn’t contribute to society? Was she calling us lazy? Worthless? Yeah, my ego was more than a little bruised and the fact that she was still trying to convince me to talk my daughter out of something she wants to be was just the straw that broke the camels back.

I, very diplomatically, told her just how I felt. That I would support my daughter in whatever career SHE chose. That I knew my daughter was intelligent enough to know that she couldn’t rely, solely, on an industry so difficult to break into. She needed– and has— a back up plan. I am very proud of her.

But… as much as I hate it… I do see where the woman was coming from. She wasn’t entirely wrong… she just lacked tact in voicing her opinion. I realized that, though my daughter might understand the realities of her choices, not everyone is so lucky. Hell, it took me my first month on Kindle Select for it to really sink in just how difficult building a “career” out of this is going to be. So, this is my reality check. I’m not going to cash it, quite yet, but I am going to hold onto it for a rainy day. I am an author. I am a full-time “constructive member of society”. I am a full-time mama bear. There is nothing wrong with being a “slasher.”

Unless your name is Freddy, Jason, or Michael.


Originally written and posted on Duckie's personal blog.

Source: Reality Checks: Do You Take IOUs?