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.

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#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.

My Reaction to #CopyPasteCris

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I usually stay away from commenting on news going on in the literary world for various reasons. With our more technologically advanced world, we are exposed to many more thoughts and opinions on certain subjects. However, the scandal that unfolded this week involving the issue of plagiarism is something I cannot ignore.

The Story

If you’re on Twitter, a romance writer, or an avid reader in general, you’ve probably heard by now about the plagiarism controversy involving author Cristiane Serruya. The story came out after a reader discovered eerily similar passages between Serruya’s book, Royal Love, and another by author Courtney Milan titled The Duchess War. I stumbled upon the unfolding story on Twitter early Wednesday night. As the evening went on, I read numerous tweets sharing screenshots of authors’ works with passages plagiarized word for word and ever-growing lists of authors who had their work stolen. I was further disheartened to discover one of the books that got plagiarized by Serruya was a book I had read and reviewed on this very blog: The Christmas Company by Alys Murray. That, in a sense, made the controversy a little more personal. On the bookish website, BookRiot, Caroline Ciucci wrote a well written article breaking down the story piece by piece that I would recommend checking out.

Since the controversy, the blog, Caffeinated Fae, has been sharing an ever-growing list of people whose writings have been plagiarized in a Twitter thread. This is the most recent list:

Some of the authors on this list include other names I knew in a heartbeat just from seeing and/or reading their works including Nora Roberts, Lisa Kleypas, and Sarah MacLean. Other shocking things about this list include recipes, articles, and a website were plagiarized.

The Issue

We all know from our time in school that plagiarism of any kind is wrong. Our teachers and professors would stress to us to make sure any thought, opinion, or fact that was not our own was properly cited in our papers. If we got caught, there were consequences ranging from failing a course to being suspended or expelled.

If those consequences are bad enough, I can imagine that in the writing industry the consequences are far more severe. If not, that needs to change. When the story first broke, I recalled a scene from a novel where the main protagonist passed off a manuscript, with her own changes, as her work. The ruse was later discovered and consequences were given out. That scene now resonates with me more after this week, and that makes my heart clench.

I stress that this is certainly not the first case of plagiarism catching attention as there have been other stories. This one, in particular, I feel is striking a deep chord not just for romance writers, but any writer or reader because of the number and how the plagiarism was done.

My Thoughts

I am heartbroken as a writer and as a reader after this week. Angry even that an author would not only copy and paste passages from other writers to get ahead with her books, but also will not take responsibility and blame someone else, in this case a ghostwriter. THAT is something I do not overlook. You do something wrong, you need to be an adult and own up to whatever consequences you face. Writing of any kind from poetry and short stories to novels and non-fiction works including memoirs or articles is hard work. There are times of doubt, writer’s block, and stress. Research, reading, and more go into creating a great book that touches people. Everyone has a different process of writing that in unique to them.

However, by stealing someone else’s work, you are taking away an author’s story that they’ve spent endless hours putting together. By blaming someone else, in this case a ghostwriter, a broad stroke is being painted about a particular profession.

How dare you.

Also, for anyone reading this thinking I should not be talking because I’m not an established writer, please keep your comments to yourself. As a reader, I am disgusted. As a writer struggling to get her first novel going and other works, I am appalled and furious. I have a right to be because everyone deserves a fair shot at getting work published. No one should be stealing from bestselling authors or those working hard to get a book published and reach readers.

In light of this scandal, please support the authors on the list shared earlier by Caffeinated Fae through checking out their work. If you spot any form of plagiarism, report it immediately.

Let’s support our favorite authors however we can, and have their backs when they need it most.

Valentine’s Day Prep: Reading Love Stories

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I apologize in advance to anyone who loves Valentine’s Day. It’s my least favorite holiday for a number of reasons. But if you enjoy the holiday, you’re lucky and I hope it’s a great day for you and the one you love. Maybe my groaning about the holiday will change as I get older.

So how do I prepare? I stock up on love stories so I feel less alone. Last year, I read Paper Hearts by Courtney Walsh to celebrate Valentine’s Day (even though I finished after the holiday). Check out my review if you want to learn more. Besides books, I also plan on grabbing a bag or two of peanut butter cups because chocolate makes everything better. I might even wear red, white, and pink to feel good about myself. I will also try to avoid love songs as much as possible. But this is a writing blog, not a opinion piece about holidays.

So what love stories will I be diving into along with the others books I’m currently reading this year? Check out the list below:

  • Under a Summer Sky by Melody Carlson
  • You’re Gonna Love Me by Robin Lee Hatcher
  • When We Were Young by Karen Kingsbury
Image: Amazon

Meanwhile, I finished The Secret Ingredient by Nancy Naigle, the newest Hallmark Publishing book that will be dropping on February 12. This story also prepped me for Valentine’s Day because of the love story between Kelly and Andrew, which was written quite well! You can pre-order the book now wherever books are sold.

If you’re a single gal like me and need a pick-me-up this Valentine’s Day, turn to books to give you hope about love, maybe learn something new about yourself and relationships, or just to treat yourself. Because loving yourself is also important all year round.

What books do you plan to read this Valentine’s Day? Share your lists!

2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge: How Am I Doing?

As we near the final days of January, I thought I’d give you guys an update on my reading challenge on Goodreads. To recap, I decided to make a Reading Challenge goal of forty books for 2019, twice my normal goal of twenty books per year.

So how am I doing? Well, just today I finished my third book for the year. Only one month into 2019 and already three books are under my belt! I think my approach of cutting back on purchasing new books for a while and taking time to reread, catch up on books on my to-read shelf, and making time to actually sit back and read have made a difference. I am trying my best this year to read more for pleasure and disregard the ultimate goal. But achieving it would still be cool!

But what if you fall behind? Well, on Goodreads you can always adjust your goal accordingly. There is always that chance I may not be able to read forty books this year. The goal may change to something more doable. But for now, so far so good.

Are you doing the Goodreads Reading Challenge this year? How many books have you read so far? What’s your goal? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Of Hallmark and Audiobooks

This week, I found out Hallmark Publishing will be teaming up with Dreamscape Media to release audiobook versions of Hallmark books! This new venture will begin with the upcoming release of Nancy Naigle’s The Secret Ingredient next month. You can check out the article here. I am so excited for Hallmark with this newest addition. From eBooks, then paperbacks, and now audiobooks, Hallmark Publishing is definitely a books division to watch closely in 2019.

Which leads me to my thoughts on audiobooks. I’ve always been a fan of physical copies with my books. Since then I’ve come to enjoy eBooks, especially when you can taken them with you wherever you go. Audiobooks are, still, a new experience for me. I’ve listened to an audio version of Me Before You bu Jojo Moyes and have been listening to an audiobook version of Romeo and Juliet. I’ve also purchased a few classics as I’ve been curious to “read” them in this manner.

I first encountered audiobooks in college when I listened to a few Shakespeare plays for one of my classes. Throughout the semester, I found myself enjoying the plays even more and gaining a better understanding of the language. I’m sure some of us listen to audiobooks during a long car ride, when out for a run, or in the quiet of our home. We can close our eyes and be taken to a different world. We can picture the stories we hear as movies playing in our mind. Ongoing debate about audiobooks counting as “reading” aside, I think they have value. You might view a story differently by listening. A story you might not enjoy reading, you might prefer listening to it instead. Give audiobooks a chance and let those who enjoy them, well, enjoy them to their heart’s content.

When you get your next Hallmark book, consider checking out the audio version. You might find yourself enjoying it and building a new collection.

Happy writing!

How Do You Discover Books?

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I had a thought last month that’s been on my mind: where do I discover my books. I don’t have one specific place I go to to find books, whether it’d be a classic, a bestseller, or even a favorite Christian Fiction author.

Before college, I usually stuck to Barnes & Noble and Amazon for purchasing my books. As I got older, I spent more time in a local Christian bookstore and indie bookstores. I still went to Barnes & Noble and Amazon post-college for ideas and for growing my to-read list, but something changed.

The final week of December, I visited Barnes & Noble to take advantage of the 50% off sales on planners and calendars. After finding what I needed, I went upstairs to browse the Christian Fiction section. Christian Living was gaining more shelves. Whereas, Christian Fiction was shrinking. Not because of a lack of interest. But because bestselling books occupied the shelf.

When I first discovered the section at Barnes & Noble a couple years ago, there were a ton of books as high as the eye could see! It was there I discovered Becky Wade, Mesu Andrews, and Rachel Hauck. In the years since, the shelf moved from the ground floor to the upstairs and seemed to grow smaller every time I looked. Again, I don’t think it was due to lack of interest (although some may argue that point). I think it was due to the bestsellers taking over. Which, that is the purpose of a bookstore when you think about it. You display the hottest, top-trending, and latest books.

My copy of The White Christmas Inn

When I turned around, I saw a shelf listing new releases in the Christian genre, and I saw a copy of The White Christmas Inn by Colleen Wright. The book was becoming popular, I’m sure, because of the recent holidays.

But, I already purchased the book when I discovered it at the local Christian bookstore.

Going forward, I have decided to leave any new Christian Fiction book purchases for that local store. I could discover new writers there, books that spoke to me, and gain a better idea of the extent of the genre. I feel Amazon–despite what your opinion may be of them–can help you discover new writers, too (to a certain degree). That’s how I discovered Jennifer Rodewald when I took a chance on her book, Reclaimed.

We’ve seen numerous articles over the last few years, too, talking about the rise of indie bookstores. Supporting local is one reason. However, I also think we all are searching for the hidden gems that we may not find in your average bookstore. I first discovered One Evening in Paris by Nicholas Barreau and The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George in one, and a collection of fairytales from all over the world in another. These books have enriched my life, and I don’t think I would have found them in any other place.

Do you agree? Where do you discover new books? Share your thoughts in the comments!