A Solemn Update

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I am aware of going silent in the past few weeks. I’m sorry to say that my writing lost its confidence, and this week has been quite rough personally. I will not disclose the details right now, but maybe at a later date.

I think there are two things all writers struggle with: change and comparing the self to others. With change, that could be changing how we wrote before, changing genres, changing forms of writing (for example, if you’re a poet but want to try writing fiction). Change can be a gift, but also a curse because we always fear the unknown. Change can also be difficult to adjust to because we get so used to our routines.

With comparing the self to others, it’s when we see people who have great things happen for them, while we struggle. The thing is, though? We are all on different paths, so are we to judge those who find success? It’s hard I know because I’ve had my shortcomings when I see people get stories, book deals, and the like. But that should be motivation for us to do and be better. That’s something I, along with those reading here, still have to learn.

On other note, there were some recent updates on #CopyPasteCris:

  • Nora Roberts suing the author for claims of plagiarism (as of this writing, the copyrights and sales on the author’s books have been suspended by Brazilian court)
  • Updated plagiarized work count: 95 books, 43 authors, 3 articles, 3 websites, and 2 recipes (Courtesy: Caffeinated Fae)

I hope you all have a Happy Mother’s Day tomorrow!

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The Power of Reading and Breaking Your Rules

Image: Amazon.com

I have been quiet for a few weeks now. Life got crazy, as it always seems to! Catching up on books was one of the things I was partaking in as I had found myself breaking my own rule: read no more than five books at a time. I found myself reading seven.

The interesting thing was it didn’t even bother me! Since late last week, I managed to finish five books and cut my shelf down to two (reading after work and dinner turned out to be the best time to curl up with a good book). Then–like all avid book lovers–I added more books. My current shelf on Goodreads stands at four.

I think the reason breaking my rule wasn’t upsetting was for one reason: I love books. Plus, once in a while you need to break your own rules and enjoy the moment. Getting yourself lost in many worlds and learn something. Feeling moved and inspired during your lowest point. Trying a new genre or revisiting a book you hold close to your heart. Sometimes some rules in the book world are meant to be broken, and you should feel good about it. Also, if a book is interesting you can’t help but make time for it.

One book I finished recently was The Great American Read: The Book of Books. You probably heard about the eight-part-series on PBS hosted by Meredith Viera. This book listed all 100 books featured in the series along with articles about first lines, the first jobs of writers, the inspiration for settings, never-before-seen photos of some manuscripts and some well-written author profiles. It was a fascinating read, but a mixed-bag as I disagreed with some of the books selected. However, that’s what makes reading great. We all have our tastes. If anything, the read made me see how books impact so many people, genres, and more.

The lesson here? Read to your heart’s content, and break some rules along the way.

Next week, expect my Book of the Month for April and whatever else my creative mind thinks of at the moment.

I hope you all have a Happy Easter!

Walking Away from Social Media: A Reflection

Image: Chance Agrella (freerangestock.com)

Last week, I took a brief hiatus from social media. For two days last weekend, I had my phone, my tablet (except for reading eBooks), and laptop off. I didn’t go on Twitter or Instagram. I also didn’t comment or post.

I needed it.

Once or twice prior, I’ve talked about unplugging from social media. The last time I took a hiatus was for about two and a half weeks when I was vacationing in Montana. When visiting Yellowstone, I observed large groups of people gathering at the famous sites to take photos or selfies (ugh) on their smartphones. People so caught up in getting a perfect shot that they forget what is actually right in front of them. It’s also the same experience I’ve had when I went to concerts. I turn my phone off and find myself enjoying a show so much more.

Because I take in the moments, rather than record everything. I do take some photos and video, however. But, it’s mostly for me, not for public viewing.

During this recent break, I was slowly recovering after getting sick and feeling drained mentally. I was getting angry over things I had no control over, and realized I needed to put the technology down for a few days.

When you turn off all the devices and the distracting social media posts, your mind clears. You make time for the activities that actually matter. You can focus more on the things that make you happy instead of obsessing over everything else. I even found myself breaking my own rule for Goodreads about reading only five books at one time; I’m reading seven right now. I don’t feel ashamed because I’m taking time to enjoy each book.

As a writer, social media can be a useful tool for meeting fellow writers, seeing what your favorite authors are up to (I have been blessed to have a couple authors comment on Twitter about my book reviews on this blog) , and for expanding the all-important “brand.” However, you may compare yourself when you see writers get work accepted or books published, and worry about the likes and number of followers. Sometimes seeing other writers receive praise can get to you, especially if you’ve struggled to get your work out there.

Don’t ever feel ashamed about taking a social media break. Also, forget FOMO or fear of missing out (another ridiculous thing in today’s world). Missing out on YOU and what makes YOU happy is worse.

You are a writer, but you are human too.

Writing Prompt: Spring Free for All

Image: Eduardo Bogosian (freerangestock.com)

Happy spring! It doesn’t feel like it where I am but I hope for you it does. Here’s a little prompt to get you in the spring spirit:

Spring has sprung! It also can be a free for all when the weather gets warmer, spring fever develops, and you begin spring cleaning. Write anything with one or more of these things: spring weather, spring fever, and spring cleaning.

Have fun with it!

Spring Cleaning Nears: What Do You Do?

I think we all need a breather after #CopyPasteCris. I know I do. Let’s get back to the fun stuff.

With spring just around the corner and snow finally melting (at least for some of us), the annual ritual of spring cleaning will start. That includes going through our extensive bookshelves and making some hard decisions.

Some of you may recall the outrage over The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up author Marie Kondo’s advice on books on her Netflix show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Later, we realized Kondo wasn’t telling viewers to get rid of every single book. In actuality, her point was about holding on to those books that give us joy, and giving away those that don’t. Writer and children’s book editor Kathleen Keenan broke down Kondo’s point in an article for BookRiot back in January. Worth a read!

For me, getting rid of books was challenging. Over time, however, the process has gotten easier. Recently, I got rid of seven books off my shelves and a good number of eBooks that no longer piqued my interest (just about all of them were left unread). These other thoughts helped weigh my decisions:

  • Do I need this book?
  • Will I ever read this book?
  • Do I still want to read this book after purchasing it a while ago?
  • Can I find this book at my local library?
  • Will I ever read this book again?
  • Do I still want this book a few months from now?
  • Has this book brought me joy, influenced my writing, or become memorable?

If I ever felt indecisive, I held on to a book for a little while longer to see if I’d read it. Sometimes, I end up keeping it. Other times, I don’t.

The good thing about getting rid of some books? We end up making room for those we find later on that we need or want most. Take it from me, it’s hard. There’s one book I keep wanting to get rid of and then I find myself not having the heart to and on my shelf it remains (at least for now).

Another thing that curbs the ever-growing book pile is purchasing ones I’ve read before. If I read a book I get from the library and end up enjoying it, nine times out of ten I end up buying my own copy. My recent purchases at Barnes & Noble had two books I’ve read previously in college or from the library: The Little French Bistro by Nina George and Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. Other past purchases included The Reason by William Sirls, The Chance by Karen Kingsbury, and Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy.

Don’t be afraid to part with books you no longer find joy in or want to spend time reading. Make more room for those you’ll cherish forever and make you want to read even more.

Also, Happy St. Patrick’s Day weekend! Hope you find books with a more spring-like setting to enjoy.

#CopyPasteCris: A Follow-Up

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Another new thing for me: doing follow-ups on posts where I discuss something. I’ve also experienced a very difficult period in the last few weeks of struggling to write outside of the blog, book reviews, and things with work. NOTHING has entered my mind, which I guess makes this current #CopyPasteCris story even more frustrating for me.

The Latest

  • The book list count now stands at 67 (an increase of 25 books!!)
  • 35 authors have been listed with books plagiarized (some with MULTIPLE BOOKS!)
  • Serruya briefly returned to Twitter and disappeared once again

authors fighting back…

Many of you have probably been reading posts similar to mine discussing #CopyPasteCris or following the controversy closely on social media. Besides expressing outrage, I’ve seen authors coming together to support one another whether by keeping active lists of projects stolen (as blog Caffeinated Fae has been doing since the story first broke) or sharing links to purchasing books by the authors who’ve been plagiarized so more energy can go into supporting them. Other authors are also going through books themselves to track down more copied passages. As you may recall, the controversy became public knowledge thanks to an observant reader. Don’t underestimate readers with a good eye, folks!

That’s what I want to focus on this time around: authors coming together to support each other while also making sure everyone who was copied gets justice. Maybe that will give me hope in writing again because honestly? This scandal has made it harder to write altogether.

…But i’m Feeling disheartened

This episode has made me even more protective of my work. I don’t want to share anything publicly going forward and am even considering taking down my portfolio on this blog. Supposed “authors” like Serruya have ruined writing for me. That she also had the nerve to come back on Twitter while this is still unfolding is infuriating (she has since deleted her account again).

It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around these feelings because writing is my passion and makes me happy. I also hope my writing makes others happy in return. But when things like this happen, you seriously question why you’re in the field to begin with and if you can even do it anymore.

Last week, I couldn’t write a thing for this blog. Nothing entered my heart. I don’t say head because even though ideas come from the brain, ideas also come from my heart so they can be expressed properly. Not being able to do that?

That was painful.

What happens now?

I wouldn’t be surprised if more books are added to the list. The controversy may go into the background as more headlines grab our attention. But behind the scenes, I believe things are only just beginning. I don’t know if this scandal will change the book industry as a whole. However, it has brought some serious things to the public’s attention about plagiarism and the things people do to get ahead.

I pray I find my way with writing again as I sort through my own feelings about this. Also, anyone who decides to copy and paste MY WORK (I’m looking at you, Serruya), you will be dealing with me.

To all who are helping our fellow writers right now, thank you and keep up the great work! Please keep sharing buy links so we can support these authors any way we can. I’ve included a link to the books courtesy of Caffeinated Fae’s blog.

Writing should leave people inspired, laughing, crying, wanting to take action, and more. Let’s keep doing that whether it’s through novels, short stories, poetry, nonfiction, you name it.

We have a lot to share, and so do I.