On Being Unplugged

So for Reasons, I decided to spend this last weekend unplugged. The rules were no cell, and no cheating by using my computer or iPad to check email, Twitter, texts, Instagram, etc. Netflix and Spotify were allowed (I’m not that strong).  From Friday night to Sunday evening, I would live off the grid, ala the 2000s and early 2010s.

Friday night was fine. I was ready to go to bed when I turned my phone over. It wasn’t too bed. But Saturday; well, Saturday taught me somethings.

I woke up Saturday, hot and tired. I had no idea what time it was and no idea what the temperature in my room was. Should I get up? I had no idea. Was it 7:30, 9. or 12? I decided to get up. Normally, I scroll through my social media first thing in the morning. But without a phone, I just got up.

But without social media distracting me first thing, I managed to start reading and got about 4 solid, uninterrupted hours in. So the first lesson of being unplugged: productivity goes up. Which I knew. But there it is.

After lunch it was time to run the weekend errands. And that was when I learned my second lesson: I spend a lot of time doing things I find boring. While we were at Lowe’s and Home Depot, I kept looking down for my phone. You don’t realize how often you do boring things until you have to pay attention.

By the end of Saturday, I was kind of cranky. While I had enjoyed my morning, I felt bored most of the afternoon. And I wasn’t a super fan of interacting with people without my phone to escape to. And I was still tired.

So I wasn’t too optimistic that Sunday would be that great as I went to bed Saturday night. I took a PM pain med and conked out.

But Sunday! Sunday!

I woke Sunday, feeling refreshed. Again, no cell so no idea about time or temp, but this time, I knew what to expect. I came out, had a nice breakfast, and then set up to read a fun book.

We had the usual quiet morning, had lunch, read, and then went swimming. But this is when I noticed the third lesson of the unplugged weekend: when you aren’t constantly checking your phone and seeing the time, you don’t feel anxious to get everything in.

I normally feel upset that I didn’t do every thing on my to-do list. I’ll get alot done, but still feel unproductive. But when you aren’t checking it constantly, you can focus more on what your doing and enjoy the activity more, instead of looking a head to the next to-do item.

By Sunday night,  I was kind of sad that being unplugged was over. And when I first turned my phone, the stress came rushing back. I had so many notifications! I’m an impatient person so I feel the need to check everything as they come in. But this unplugged weekend showed me that I need to step away more often to enjoy life.

The Dos and Don’ts of Interacting with an Agent on Social Media, or in general

Another week, another post! This week, let’s talk about some general rules of thumbs with engaging with agents (or editors) on social media. In general, it is always a good idea to remember that this is BUSINESS. I personally use Twitter, and Instagram, as my professional social media avenues, so it is an extension of my professional work.

Now for the Dos and Don’ts.

  • Do remember that there is a person on the other end. One thing that drives me nuts about social media is that we have a tendency to forget there is a real person on the other end. This person has feelings, and a life separate from the digital world. So always be kind and professional when engaging with them. And I have a tendency to remember the names of the people who are always friendly on Twitter with me, as well as the ones who start becoming an issue.
  • Don’t try to shame/guilt an agent or editor about a decision. This circulates back to point one and and to the general rule: this is a business and there is a person on the other end. Agents and editors do this for the love of books. And let me tell you, I was rather unprepared for the sheer volume of reading that arrived when I became an agent. Once a decision is made, I can’t be second-guessing myself. I’d never get anything done. I have to move forward. As an author, you have to remember that passes are not personal judgement and respect the decision the agent came to. You don’t have to like it (hell, I’ve been there, too), but don’t try to make me feel bad about it.
  • Do remember that social media is a window. Remember that song “Anything you can do, I can do better”? Well think of it as “Anything you can see, I can see also.” If you handle yourself unprofessionally or are too personal, I can see it. Maybe this is just me being super private, but if you use a particular social media platform to engage with agents, consider what you are showing the world. They have the ability to see the “face” you are showing. This point will come into play in another DO comment.
  • Don’t take it personally when an agent (or editor) doesn’t respond on certain platforms. So I know  several people in the business who use different social media platforms differently. For me, Twitter is my professional platform. If you look through my tweets, you might have an understanding of who I am, but it is a cultivated image. Not to say it’s not accurate, but like a diamond, I am multifaceted (because I’m human). Instagram is my personal/professional hybrid social media. You’ll get more of glimpse into my life, but again, cultivated. Facebook is private. I keep it around to follow my international family, but it is not meant for professional interaction. So if I don’t respond on it, or delete a friend request, don’t take it personal and don’t push the issue. Follow one of my other platforms.
  • Do remember that 140 characters is not enough to have a meaningful conversation, but is enough to be misunderstood. Remember that point of social media being a window? Well this point plays into that. 140 characters or really any social platform only gives you a glimpse into someone’s thoughts/ideas/life. It is a great way to be misunderstood. Hence, you won’t find me (though I can’t say for sure if I ever have) talking politics or religion or other sensitive subjects that I feel are better for person-to-person discussions. Things can be easily misunderstood (hey, we are all different so it only makes sense) when you only have a short snap shot.
  • Do use me as a resource, but Don’t use me as a crutch to avoid doing the necessary work. I love when people want to pick my brain about publishing, or what I like. I’m a person (see the theme?). But don’t use my knowledge as an excuse to avoid doing the necessary research. There are certain things that only an agent or an editor can tell you, but there are also things that you can find out by going to a bookstore or knowing your market, or talking to other writers. Know when to ask and when to investigate.
  • Don’t call me “sweetie/honey/babe”, etc. I’m a professional and calling me by any of these names is an automatic rejection. Period. It shows a lack of respect and why would I want to work with someone like that? This extends to any communication, be it social media or email.

Whew, that ended up being a whole lot longer than I thought. A good rule of thumb is to remember: be professional, and remember there is a person on the other end. I love being on Twitter and Instagram; they’re fun! But they can also be mishandled so it never hurts to have a refresher.

The Winner’s Kiss Review

**Minor to Major Spoilers**

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Title: The Winner’s Kiss

Series: The Winner’s Trilogy

Number in Series: 3

Author: Marie Rutkoski

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Flap copy: “War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people―and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?”

I actually read this a while ago, but just was too busy to write a post.

Anyways, you all know, KNOW, how much I love this series. This last book was so good, until the ending. If you don’t have the time to reread the first two books, don’t worry; through a plot devious, Rutoski actually made it okay not to remember that much.

I do love how Arin gets more time in the book. I remember reading, not sure where, that Rutoski deliberately made Arin have more page time as a way to show that since he was free, that balance of power is now shared between him in Kestrel. That woman is brilliant!

My only complaint was how quickly the ending wrapped up. A lot of people read this book differently, but for me it was always a complex romance series, so I was really disappointed that the ending of the book felt rushed and hurried.

I love this series and will probably try to convince my mom to read it, so if that doesn’t tell you something, I don’t know what will. Read this series!!!

A Court of Mist and Fury Review

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Title: A Court of Mist and Fury

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Flap Copy:  “Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court–but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms–and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future–and the future of a world cleaved in two.”

So I’ll admit, I was not looking forward to reading this monster of a book. It is over 600 pages!  I’ve been finding myself getting really annoyed at the editor of Maas’s books because she is not pulling it back. The Throne of Glass series books just keep getting bigger. And since this book is not the end of this series, I will admit to fearing that the next book is going to clock in at 900.

But I was pleasantly surprised.

I don’t remember being in love with the first book. It was good, but it didn’t have the punch in my mind as other books did (Hello, The Winner’s Curse). I have to say though, this book is BETTER than the first one. Much more character work and relationships. I found myself saying out loud, “I love that bitch” about one of my favorite new characters.

Could I have done without a lot of the sex scenes? Yes. This book is definitely for older teens, but even then it just started to really annoy me. I also would have cut a few lines and there is one line in particular that stands out as god awful that I am still not sure what the author meant.

One thing I am learning at work is how to look at book pages shortly after being designed to see how they look when they read, i.e. does an italicized word look the same size as the rest of the words. Whoever did that for this book FAILED.  SO many italicized words and they looked weird on the page.

I still thinking that the editorial team needs a refresher course and to pull the author back, but this is one of those reads that if you like commercial books, and need more sex scenes in YA fantasy, it will be right up your alley.

I love Sarah J. Maas, and I would love to have her as an author, but I also think someone needs to reign it more when editing.

Side note: still not a fan of the covers.

Why I Gave Up on Kierra Cass and Why I Almost Did on Sarah J. Maas

I bought the newest Selection novel and A Court of Mist and Fury (review to come soon), and I have a confession: I am done with Kierra Cass, and I almost threw in the towel on Sarah J. Maas. Don’t get me wrong, I do love their books and I follow them on Twitter, but I have had it up to here.

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When I started reading The Crown, I just couldn’t bring myself to want to read it. With my job, I spend a lot of time reading books and make judgments on many factors. And when I tried reading this new Cass book, I just snapped back to my annoyance with the previous book. The writing was too commercial, and the character drove me nuts. When there are only so few hours I can dedicate to fun reading, I find myself getting pickier. I like The Selection series, but the quality has really gone downhill. While they remain the same size, quality is not the same.

When I got A Court of Mist and Fury, I almost cried. It was the same size of Queen of Shadows and I had strong feelings about that book. I love Maas’ writing and I love her stories and strong characters, but I am getting really frustrated by how big those books are getting! Queen of Shadows did not need to be that big. Someone needs to help trim those books down. But I was pleasantly surprised by A Court of Mist and Fury. I think there are some areas that could have been cut, but on the whole, I wouldn’t have cut that much of that book down.  I’m not throwing in the towel yet. But seriously, please don’t get any bigger and please be more critical about what needs to go in!

If I had unlimited time, I’d probably be on board with it all, but really, who has that kind of time anymore?

Working Away

Hi guys, I working away in this corner of the world. Juggling a lot of different types of reading and wishing I had more energy to blog more (but also in general).

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If you have been wondering why I am not as active as I once was, reading middle grade books is a large part of that. My bosses had asked that I look to grow my middle grade reading and  now I’m actually toying with the idea of expanding the blog to cover middle grade books, or just create a middle grade blog to chronicle my adventure.

Not sure if that is something y’all would be interested in seeing or not.

Anywho, there are a few new posts coming in the next three weeks so enjoy!