Dear Author, from your Readers

Dear Author

Firstly, let me say that the fact that you have written and published a book is absolutely wonderful. I’m sure you are proud for your hard work and the hours and love you poured into your art. Your family and friends are no doubt proud because you have fulfilled one of your dreams, and you have no doubt stared at the finished product a million times with excitement and trepidation.

I can therefore empathise with the hurt and pain you feel when people speak against your book. I can understand the fear you feel when bad reviews come through, which may or may not affect sales of your book. You worked hard to get to this point, the book is your baby and in your eyes it is perfection.

What you must remember however, is that you have written with the intention of your book being read. Publishing a book only for yourself doesn’t make sense. Otherwise you would have written the story and then tucked it away, never to see the light of day again. If you only want glowing reviews of your book, then only provide the story to your friends and family. Because you know that regardless of how good or bad your book is, they are going to support you and tell you it’s great.

If readers are telling you that your book is problematic, you need to listen to them. You need to look at things from their point of view. You need to research. Minorities are becoming more and more frustrated at poor representation. You therefore need to be aware that while they are voicing their anger towards you, they are also angry with the publishing business as a whole.

You need to empathise. Think about how you would feel if you were misrepresented, continually, in every art form. Think about the frustration you would feel and the anger. Anger at the fact that it doesn’t take much these days to research and to get people from minority groups to read your book and provide feedback. Think about how if you yourself are from a minority group, how frustrating it is to never see yourself being represented at all.

Don’t get defensive and put the blame back on your readers. Own up to your mistakes and promise that you will do better. No, that’s not going to make everything better, but it’s a start. If you really, really want to do right by your readers, pull the book off the market and fix it up (if that is possible obviously). Make your book diverse, don’t appropriate cultures/religions/races, steer away from words that are going to be linked to racism/ableism/homophobia.

Learn from this experience. We are constantly learning new things that are right and wrong. Turn this into a positive and give your reviewers credit where credit is due. Appreciate the fact that they are giving you an honest review for free. Appreciate your readers, whether they liked your book or not, they went out and bought the book and paid your wages.

You are in a position to change the world, to change hearts and minds. Exploit this position in a good way . Spread love, equality and fairness. Be the one who is educating others about right and wrong, but also take constructive criticism.

Us readers are a passionate bunch. We buy your books because we respect you and want to hear what you have to say. Please do the same for us.

Yours sincerely

Steff

 

 

A Cautionary Tale…Spending  $$ and The Hate U Give

Cue major blushing and generally feeling like an idiot….

Ok, soooo….this week I was decreasing my antidepressants which made me majorly depressed and anxious. With that and some other things going on in my life, this week was tough as hell. I’m not out of it yet, I’m hoping with a bit more rest I’ll be back to my happy self.  

Anyway!! Alot of you may have seen that Emma Watson has been leaving books around on subways and trains, because she wants to make people happy and get them into reading. I watched a video on Wednesday and I got super excited about it…I was like, I wanna do it too!! 

I was reading The Hate U Give at the time, and this book is just amazing. It made me laugh and cry, it made me angry and it made me think. It’s a confronting book and poignantly tackles racism and black oppression. As I was reading I was thinking “this is a book EVERYONE needs to read”. I had just seen what Emma Watson did and had just been thinking how I wanted to do it…what better book to start with, than a book EVERYONE needs to read?

Now like I said, I was in a really, really bad headspace. I wanted to crawl into a hole and stay there and not ever come back out. I wanted to do something that would make me feel happier and also make other people happier. So on impulse, I go on booktopia and buy FIVE COPIES of THUG. FIVE.COPIES.

You know who’s a millionaire? Emma Watson. You know who isn’t a millionaire and probably never will be? Me! But none of this goes through my head because I am saving people through literature. I feel like a book saint, spreading the word that racism is alive and is something that everyone needs to be aware of. Is this a form of white guilt? Shit, probably. 

I paid for those lovely five copies of THUG  (on credit card OF COURSE) plus shipping (next day so worth the money). And felt so, so happy with myself. I walked with a spring in my step…for about 10 minutes, until reality came back to greet me and I was back to feeling super crappy again. 

I have the books getting delivered to me, along with some stickers (which I also paid for), and will leave the books in spaces where people will find them and read them. That’s the dream of course. But my little project was all fine and dandy until my husband looked at the bank statement….and was like “Steff what did you spend $90 on?”. It hit me then…I’m pretty sure I could have done this ALOT cheaper…and maybe thought it through some more, and discussed it for a few days before buying. 

That being said, I am still super excited about leaving the books on trains because I personally feel that this is such an important book. Australia is definitely not absent of racism, just look at how our indigenous were treated and are still being treated. Look at anyone who is a shade off white who is subjected to threats, abuse etc. So yeah, my heart was in the right place…

If you take anything from this, let it be that you should try and not make impulse decisions whilst you aren’t in a good frame of mind. That can be hard to do obviously, otherwise it wouldn’t be called “impulse”. But discuss it with someone who can put things in perspective for you. It may help. It may not. But it’s worth trying. 

If you are in Brisbane, keep an eye out for copies of The Hate U Give on the trains. I spent a pretty penny on it so please be kind to it 😶

And finally, to everyone else – read The Hate U Give. Its amazingly good 💜💜

Steff xx

Before you start typing…

In the words of Albus Dumbledore ” words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it”.

From the minute we learn to speak, our parents train us to use our words wisely, to think before we speak and to not speak hateful words to those around us. One simple word can turn someone’s life around in either a good or bad way. Words are tools but they are also weapons and over the course of our lives we continue to learn how to wield them.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a long way to go in terms of social media. As someone who is on twitter and part of the book community, nearly every day I see comments that aim to cause pain and fear. I have seen women of colour called names and told that THEY are the problem, not the people who are racist. I have seen certain accounts that seem to delight in calling people out. They call themselves an “ally”, mostly just to get likes and retweets. You just know that there is fire burning in their eyes when they see potential conflict, and get their pitchfork ready so they can tear someone else down and not give two damns about the damage they are doing.

I have seen people who have said one single word wrong, and get torn down and received a stream of abuse, belittling, accusing and even gaslighting. I have seen people leave twitter or change their accounts to stop hate being sent their way, all because they want equality and an end to the privileges bestowed on white people, men, heterosexuals and the able-bodied.

To the people who are constant participants or perpetrators in cutting people down: does it make you feel good? Does it put joy in your heart to know that you are breaking someone elses? Do you look in the mirror and say to yourself “I am such a good person”? Would you say these things to a persons face or are you that cowardly that you can sit behind your keyboard and spew hatred?

Words, my dear friends, are important. In this day and age everything is on-line, we interact more on social media than we do face-to-face. We need to remember that what we are saying to people online can impact, can do a lot of harm or even be fatal. Rather than using your words as a weapon, use them to educate, to soothe, to promote love and peace.

And for the record, I just want to say that I don’t follow anyone on twitter/facebook/Instagram/Wordpress that promotes hate. Why give these people an audience? Why make these people think that what they are saying or doing is acceptable? I urge you to consider this as well…don’t give these people a platform.

Steff xx

 

 

 

Songs that make me happy

Hello lovelies

It’s only Tuesday however it is feeling like it should be Friday. It’s rainy and muggy in Brisbane, so it really has been a yucky week, and on top of that I am transitioning off my bad anti-depressants and the drop this week is not making me feel great. Generally just feeling a bit down and out but hoping that it will get better soon.

I therefore thought I would make today’s post about songs that make me happy. This doesn’t generally mean that they are ‘happy’ songs. They are just songs that I like to listen to that perk me up a bit, where I feel like “yeah, this song knows how I feel”. SO here goes…

1. Fluorescent Adolescent – Arctic Monkeys

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No idea why I love this song so much. I love listening to this song on repeat, maybe it’s the tune or just the overall meaning of the song. But for some reason I absolutely LOVE this song, and it always cheers me up when I listen to it.

2. Jellylegs – Children Collide

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Holy crap this song gives me all the feels. I love this song soooo much, and I love the words. “Stretched out like a rubber band, from one planet to the next”.

3. Break the Ice – Brittney Spears

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This is a bit of weird choice, as most people would probably choose Toxic or Hit me baby one more time. I came across this song one day by accident and it has remained one of my favourites ever since.

4. Everlong – Foo Fighters

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Seriously, don’t even get me started on the Fooies. I have always had the BIGGEST crush on Dave Grohl. He is a God, and he is such a lovely person to add to that. I have dreams where I meet him, and then I wake up and realise it was a dream and feel really sad. I would love to meet him one day, but I honestly think I would just stand there and cry. Everlong is one of my all-time favourites and makes me so happy when I listen to it.

5. Standing outside the fire – Garth Brooks

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Yes I am very versatile with my music taste, which of course includes one of country musics greats. When this song comes on I get really excited, I love the music but I also love the meaning to the song…seriously, it’s a great song.

6. Doll Parts – Hole

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Ahhhh this song!!! Words can’t even express what this song does to me. I love it so much and can relate to it so much it’s not even funny. I have always loved Courtney Love, she is a rock Goddess…even though alot of people have very the very opposite opinion to me.

7. Hold on – Wilson Phillips

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Umm who doesn’t love this song? It’s a classic! And it’s so corny it’s good, I love bopping along to this song.

8. I have nothing – Whitney Houston

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This song puts me in power ballad mode, I love it so much. And I know all the words now (I listened to it a thousand times) and I can fully commit. This song makes me happy because it is powerful and Whitney’s voice is flawless.

9. 9 to 5 – Dolly Parton

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Another song I listened to on repeat so I can fully commit to singing it. This song is great and it’s so true when you actually work a 9-5 job. Love, love, love!!!

10. Stop – Spice Girls

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I love this song because of the actions. I remember watching the Spice Girls concert on tv and replaying this song and dance in the lounge room. I always played Posh Spice – because I had a black dress.

11. The Climb – Miley Cyrus

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Never diss Miley with me around, because I will destroy you. I don’t really mean that, but seriously I love her soooooooo much and will argue until death that she is an amazing person and has an amazing voice and has amazing songs. I love this song so much, and in the Hannah Montana movie…aaaah 🙂

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Anyways, I hope you enjoyed my little list of songs that make me happy. Have a good day!

Steff xx

 

 

 

 

A Poem

I have written a poem that I would like to share with you all. I’m not one of the greatest poets out there, I wouldn’t even call myself a poet. I just have a lot of feelings that I needed to express.

Broken

I think about you every day. Your laugh, your wit, your sarcasm.
The way you make yourself like a brick wall, impenetrable and sturdy
But on the inside you are broken; fractured and crumbling
You are drifting out to sea, and I am standing on the shoreline
I am watching you flail, I can’t help
Because you don’t want me to
Because you think you can swim on your own
That you won’t drown
That the weeds won’t pull you down further until you are out of breath
You think the weeds are helping you, keeping you tethered to the earth
But they have latched themselves on, and are holding you down
I would save you if I could
Cut the weeds that have wrapped themselves around your arms and legs
Pull you to the surface and breathe air into your lungs
Drag you to the shoreline and wrap you up in my unconditional love
For now, I will send a life-boat to you
You can grab hold of it whenever you need
Because I love you
Because I need you back on the shoreline
Because you are worth something to me, and I refuse to let you go.

Steff xx

 

Caraval: A whole lotta meh

Happy Friday Everyone!!

I just finished Caraval, and therefore thought it would be prudent to do a review for it straight away…here goes…

P.S – Sorry if this seems rather scathing, but I am super annoyed.

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Synopsis

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

My Thoughts

Ok so there was ALOT of hype around this book, so I was obviously pretty excited to read it. I had heard it was magical and was aimed towards people who loved the Night Circus, which I absolutely adored. Did I adore Caraval? No, no I didn’t.

Firstly, I disliked Scarlett. I found her annoying and a bit of a prude. She played the typical snarky female character which I really hate. Why do females always have to be written as defensive, cranky creatures? She was a nag to her sister and it was clear she thought herself more intelligent and morally better than her. To be honest, I didn’t see her really grow as a person throughout the story, because by the end she was exactly the same as she had been in the beginning,

Secondly, wow I did not know that there was going to be physical abuse in this story. Scarlett and Tella’s Father is an absolute ass, not just by words but he also mistreats them physically as well. I’m not offended by this or anything like that, but maybe if there had been some kind of warning at the start that this kind of content is present in the stories. I can imagine it could be triggering for some people.

Thirdly, insta-love. Meh. I really dislike the whole “we’ve only known each other for 2 hours but we are deeply in love”. It feels unrealistic and Julian just played the token “bad-boy” persona. I have seen his character in so many stories…flirty, with a crooked smile and eyes that promise bad things. Nope, nope, nope. And OMG you know what really annoyed me? After all that, Scarlett has the gall to tell her sister “you can’t fall in love with someone in such a short amount of time”. HYPOCRITE!!

Fourthly, world-building was a bit meh. I didn’t feel any magic. I didn’t really care about the other players or performers. The whole game made me cranky, because I don’t like people being treated like absolute idiots. What’s real? What’s not? Let’s make everyone super confused about what is going on…oh the mystery!! One minute we are in a tunnel, the next we are in a bedroom…whatever.

They are my four main gripes. But overall I am just really annoyed that this story didn’t live up to my expectations. I skim-read the last 40 pages because I was so over it. Apparently there will be another book to follow but I just don’t think I care enough to read it. I feel like there was potential for an amazing story, but I really just didn’t feel it. I liked Tella way more than Scarlett, so I probably would have preferred Tella’s perspective more.

I give this story 2 out of 5 – #sorrynotsorry

 

How to NOT write a book

Howdy, howdy, howdy! I hope everyone is super swell this week and you are all getting a whole heap of reading done!

For those who don’t know, I have been aiming to write a book by the end of the year…for quite a few years now. I start writing my story because I am super motivated and inspired, and then I get side-tracked and lose confidence in myself. But mostly side-tracked. For those of you trying to write a book, I thought I would give you the opposite of advice…this is all based on past and current experience.

How to NOT write a book

1. Read a book, or many books, or a whole book series

Nothing like being super invested in a book series to take up all your time. If you want to keep yourself from doing anything other than writing, read the Terry Patchett Discworld series – which has about 40 volumes.

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2. Facebook

Definitely will take up a lot of your time. Spend hours laughing at dogs falling off chairs or memes about how much of an idiot Donald Trump is. I guarantee you won’t get ANYTHING done.

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3. Twitter

Stalk celebrities, read your feed which updates every second with 95 new tweets. Tweet about how you really want to write your book but don’t have any time (is this something I have done? Who knows…)

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4. Watch movies

Oh they will keep you super inspired and may give you ideas for your own world you are creating. But don’t write it down, because otherwise you will write it down…which leads to writing…which leads to a story being written.

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5. Play with your cats or dogs, or turtle

This one is self-explanatory really. Animals are cute and they do cute things. If you stop watching them you might miss something extra adorable. No time for writing when you are watching your cat skid around on a plastic bag throughout the house.

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6. Get invested in a new tv show

Riverdale? Check. OA? Check. Or hey, be like me and start the 39-disc box set of Buffy…because you know, Buffy.

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7. Fix up your GoodReads list

Make sure it is super up-to-date with all your latest reads and fix up your shelves. This will keep you busy throughout the time you should be writing. There is nothing better than being organised!

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8. Go for a run

Yeah this one isn’t as fun, but being fit can be fun…I guess. To be honest, I don’t usually choose this option if I am looking to fill up some time. To go for a run, you need motivation. And that’s what friends are for.

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9. Snapchat

Take pics of yourself with flowers on your head, or in a milk carton. Take videos of yourself singing (9 to 5 is a personal favourite of mine). Bombard your friends. They will love you for it.

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10. Go and buy a packet of Oreos. Sit and eat whilst watching Netflix.

Mmmmm Oreos. I don’t know why, but these cookies are just ridiculously delicious. What makes them so different from other cookies? No joke, there have been times when I have eaten a whole box in one sitting.

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I hope you all enjoyed my list. Now I will go back to watching TV and thinking about writing my book.

Steff xx