Welcome to TraceyTobin.WordPress.com!

Some time ago, I went through my online presence, disposed of a great deal of excess, and created NoPageLeftBlank.wordpress.com as a place to bring what was most important to me into one spot. At the time it worked wonders, but over the years that have passed since then quite a lot has changed. I am now a published author and a growing YouTuber, and as a result of those things my online presence has once again gotten convoluted. So, with that in mind, I’d like to introduce you to what I’m hoping will be my new-and-improved personal space.

This blog will not be specifically for me as an author, or me as a YouTuber, and it will not be a place specifically meant for blogging or marketing or any other individual issue. TraceyTobin.Wordpress.com will be for me, in whatever form that takes. I will talk about the writing process and what’s happening with my books, I’ll share my YouTube videos and other geeky nonsense as I see fit, and I’ll blog as I desire. This site will be me in my entirety, as I see fit.

So if you’ve come here from NoPageLeftBlank.wordpress.com, thank you very much for following me into this new venture, and if you’re new, welcome! You may see some strange things happening here in the following weeks as I create back-dated posts to share older YouTube videos, but moving forward expect to see lots more of, well…me!

Cheers!

Advertisements

Plans and Goals 2018: Week 32 Review

plansandgoalsweeklyreview

Hey, is it-? Hold on a second…
*checks Fitbit*
Dammit, it’s Wednesday, isn’t it?

The weekend was more than a little busy and stressful for me, so I’m a little off-kilter as far as where the hell in the week/month/year I am at the moment. This post didn’t happen on Monday because I had to do a 4-hour round-trip drive to a 3-hour-long family birthday party, punctuated by spending the morning making sure Jason had Keto-friendly food to eat while I was gone. It didn’t happen again yesterday because after an exhausting weekend we all slept in late, spent some time Pokemon Go-ing as a family, and went back to bed fairly early after I’d spent a few hours trying to concoct more Keto-friendly food.

So now it’s Wednesday. That’ll have to be good enough! We all know that sometimes things just don’t happen when they’re supposed to, so let’s just move on, shall we? You guys know the drill!


Plan #1: Focus more on Writing.
In week 32 I continued my trend of writing as much as I could in the beginning of the week, and then just dropping off the face of the planet (my laptop?) for the second half of the week. This time I didn’t even realize it had happened. I could have sworn I wrote more than what I have recorded in my daily planner, but I couldn’t tell you what I wrote, so I guess I must be imagining things.

  • Goal #1: Write half a million words throughout the year. I did better again! Though, like I said above, I could have sworn I actually wrote more, what I did write is nothing to sneeze at. While I only wrote a paisley 376 fictional words, I also wrote 5378 words toward blog posts, both for this blog and for TraceysBasement.com. That’s a weekly total of 5754, which is my highest week since week 16! Not too shabby! That also brings my year’s total so far up to 131,071, and my daily average up a little bit more to 585. Here’s to continuing that trend!
  • Goal #2: Sell more books. I just….*sigh*….do I have to talk about this one? Let’s make it really simple: I didn’t sell anything last week. Zero book sales, of any kind. Moving on.
  • Goal #3: Complete and publish The Other World: Book Two. Unfortunately I didn’t get anything done toward this goal in week 32. With the amount of running around we’ve been doing for summer events and family get-togethers and the like, it’s been difficult to find the time to sit down and focus in a quiet environment, which is what I need in order to edit. I would still say that I’m in a decent spot with this one right now, but hopefully I actually manage to steal a few hours this week to put some more work into it.

Plan #2: Focus more on YouTube.
*watches the tumbleweeds roll on by*

  • Goal #1: Film more often.  There’s no getting past it. We went another full week without filming a single thing. While I obviously can’t 100% blame the weather, I di have to continue to point out that it’s just too goddamn hot to film. We did borrow an air conditioner from my parents, only to find out that it requires a special hose attachment that my mother insists my father threw out. And on top of that we can’t even buy a new one because this particular unit is so old that I can’t even find second-hand parts for it. So the basement continues to be barely comfortable, and becomes completely unlivable once we’re sitting in front of all the filming lights. Thus, zero filming.
    Something is definitely going to have to change this week, one way or the other, because our channel is going to die if we continue to put out zero content, but I’m just not sure what to try, short of literally covering ourselves in icepacks while we try to film.
  • Goal #2: Put more focus into, and have more fun with, the social media aspect. Again I have to admit that I’ve been slacking on this one, on the channel accounts, but even worse on the author accounts. Part of it is that my focus has been a little fractured recently. Part of it is also the fact that I’ve felt myself stretched for time what with all the traveling, family stuff, and getting used to spending more time cooking while dealing with Keto. Neither are particularly good excuses for not throwing out a Tweet every now and then, but you get my meaning. I intend to try harder in the coming weeks, if I can just get my head on straight and reorganize myself.

#3: Focus more on myself.
Focus on myself has been difficult lately. For one, we’ve got all that running around nonsense. For another, it seems like there’s always something to do lately, whether it’s cooking Keto food or trying to make sure the little one enjoys her last few weeks of summer. I just haven’t been finding a lot of time to dedicate toward myself.

  • Goal #1: Take time daily to read/watch/play.  I did manage to finally finish reading A Clockwork Orange recently, so yay for that! That’s probably the only major claim I can make though. I’ve watched whatever Jason put on the TV at night, and I’ve played a tiny bit of mobile games (I’m trying really hard to cut back since they’re an immense time suck), and that’s about it. I’ve been meaning to start reading Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, but I haven’t quite got around to it yet.
  • Goal #2: Stay active, but don’t obsess. Was I active in week 32? I’m honestly having a difficult time remembering, and since my FitBit band has been broken (replacement should be showing up today!) I can’t check my tracker for any info. Bluntly, I’m going to assume that I didn’t do much. Last week was a bad one for Keto (which I’ll be posting about on TraceysBasement.com shortly) so I was tired, cranky, and all-in-all not willing to do a lot of physical activity. I did get a little bit of swimming in at Jason’s aunt’s pool while we were visiting, but since I’m not exactly the strongest swimmer that wasn’t a hugely impressive bit of cardio, if you catch my meaning. All in all I just spent the week being fairly sedentary.

Looking back on the week after having written everything out like this…it looks like it was a pretty horrible one! The writing went okay, but everything else seemed to just completely fall apart on me! But you know what? Screw it. Week 32 is in the past, and today is another day. Let’s move forward, shall we? Yes. Yes we shall.

How was your week? Were you able to accomplish anything? Do anything fun? Make any progress toward your own goals? Feel free to share!

“A Clockwork Orange” – Spoiler-Free Book Review

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

aclockworkorange

“What’s it going to be then, eh?”

Normally I start off these reviews with a digital photo of the book cover for cleanliness and clarity. But this particular copy of A Clockwork Orange was a gift given to me by my lovely friend River. Therefore I thought I’d instead use this shot I took of it on my shelf with the Alex DeLarge Funko Mystery Mini I got in a massive blind box haul!

A Clockwork Orange is one of those classic books that I’ve had on my list of “things I really should read” for years. I’ve long since seen the movie and was very curious about how it matched up to the book. Sadly I just never seemed to get around to picking up a copy. Cue River, who found this out and just couldn’t let the injustice stand! She had an extra copy and shipped it my way immediately. Thanks again, River!

“He looked a malenky bit poogly when he viddied the four of us like that…”

The first thing I have to mention about A Clockwork Orange is that some people may find it a little difficult to read, or at least to get into, because of the language. I don’t want to deter anybody; I just want to give a heads up. A large portion of the book is written in “nadsat slang” (teen-speak), which is, according to Burgess, a “Russified” version of English. This can be quite confusing, especially in the beginning chapters, because our humble Narrator rarely explains the strange words he’s using.

Eventually a few things begin to come clear. “Cutter”, “deng”, and “pretty polly” all refer to money. “Bezoomny” means mad or crazy. A “droog” is a friend, a “devotchka” is a young lady, and a “chelloveck” is a young man. But there are plenty more – see this Appendix for a list – and many only come up once or twice, leaving you no chance to discern their nature. It’s left up to the reader to try to figure it out, and if you’re anything like me you won’t have a clue. Unless, perhaps, you’re familiar with Russian.

But immersion is one of the best forms of learning tools.

As I said, the confusing slang shouldn’t be a deterrent, as it slowly becomes more like background noise. By the time I was halfway into the book I was finding myself hardly even noticing the slang. Some of it I’d naturally picked up as I went. Some I still didn’t get, but I found myself understanding the general context of what the sentence was saying anyway. All in all it didn’t both me enough to ruin my enjoyment of the book. In fact, it did enhance the feel of the story. Our Narrator is a teenager, after all, and who the hell understands teenagers?

Moving away from the language…

For anyone who has neither read the book nor seen the movie, the overarching story is about the violence of youth. Along with that comes the importance of free will. Eventually the disgusting nature of government and politics is mixed in as well (although I’m not certain Burgess intended to express it that way, or if it was just a side-effect).

Our Humble Narrator is Alex DeLarge, a teen who has two obsessions in life: classical music and ultra-violence. He and his “droogs” are the epitome of evil, and I don’t say that lightly. They aren’t just hoodlums. They aren’t just thieves. They’re sociopaths who do whatever (and whomever) they wish. To these ends, some might find A Clockwork Orange to be a difficult read. This is a far warning. There really is “ultra-violence” in this story. Burgess takes the idea of teenagers being impulsive, self-involved little bastards and takes it to the extreme. A night on the town for this group is bashing a few faces in and maybe breaking into someone’s home to have their way with the lady of the house.

But here’s the twist…

As brutal as our Narrator’s actions are, what makes A Clockwork Orange a particularly weird read is that we’re meant to empathize with him. When the state takes extreme measures in order to redeem Alex (not a spoiler! It’s on the back of the book!) we’re meant to sympathize with his plight. They’re attempting to “fix” him by literally taking away his ability to do the things he does. In this way, the book is a very interesting commentary on what freedom and free will are, and how important they are when compared to the safety and comfort of society.

Ultimately, for this reason, the story gave me a feeling of disjointed loss; I didn’t know what I wanted the outcome to be. On the one hand Alex was clearly a psycho who deserved to burn for the things he’d done. On the other hand, he had one redeeming quality that was inadvertently stolen from him along with his free will. I was – as I believe Burgess intended – able to feel bad for him. I wanted him to pay for his sins, but I also wanted those who’d destroyed his mind to pay for theirs.

Stop playing with my emotions, authors!

It’s a rare thing, I think, to be able to hate a character one moment, and root for them the next. Especially rare is when those two oxymoronic notions play leap frog in your head, bouncing from one to the other and back again. To my recollection I believe only one other author ever accomplished this particular feat with me, and that was George R.R. Martin of A Song of Ice and Fire fame. In his world people make evil decisions one moment, and moral ones the next, so that a villain may turn out to become your favorite hero. Then he’ll turn around and do something horrible that makes you feel psychotic for ever liking them for even a moment.

Burgess’s Alex DeLarge is the same way. He’s an evil, horrid little wretch who you want to suffer. But then does suffer, in a rather horrible way, so you can’t help rooting for him, at least a little bit. Yet at the same time you still think he’s horrid. It’s a very complex mental conundrum.

The 21st Chapter

My copy of the book also has the missing twenty-first chapter. When the book was first released in the US, this final chapter was dropped out with the vague explanation of “Americans won’t get it”. Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation  followed suit and ended with the second-to-last chapter, although this may have been for unrelated reasons owing to artistic expression. Having now read the final chapter – and having seen the film – I’m not entirely certain what they thought Americans wouldn’t “get”. It’s seems to be a perfectly straightforward concept to me, but then…no spoilers, so you’ll have to judge for yourself.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, I would personally say that Burgess got across the point he was trying to make with this story. It may have been done in an especially extreme way, making Alex out to be the worst possible example he could fathom. Regardless, by the end of that final chapter (the real final chapter) it definitely made sense as to where Burgess had been going with it all. He made his point about free will. He made his point about government and authority. And he made his point about youth, and the inevitability of youth passing into age.

A Clockwork Orange is definitely worth a read, especially if you’re a fan of the film, or if the film left a hundred questions in your head. Burgess was inside Alex’s mind, and was able to portray that mind in a frighteningly thorough fashion. Grab this one for your bookshelf now!


Want to check out A Clockwork Orange for yourself? Click right here to order!
Already read it? Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comment section below!

Plans and Goals 2018: Week 31 Review

plansandgoalsweeklyreview

I feel like I’ve mentioned this so many times now that anyone who reads my update posts is going to think that I’m a broken record, but IT’S BEEN SO HOT YOU GUYS. This past week, above all else, was punctuated by the continuing heat wave. It has never been this hot for this long in Cape Breton, at least as long as I’ve been alive. Sure we’ve hit these kinds of temperatures before in the past, but I can’t ever remember a “heat warning” being announced on the radio for more than one day at a time before, while we’re currently heading into the fourth week of it now. So keep that in mind, okay? Okay.

The second thing I want to mention before I get into the actual post is that Jason and I are currently a week into our Keto Diet. I blogged about beginning it over at TraceysBasement.com as a new article feature called “GEEKS Do KETO” and considered talking about it here as well, but I didn’t really want to split the readership in that way. So please head on over there to check it out, and you can also read the 7th-day Update Post I wrote last night. 🙂

The reason I bring up the Keto diet, though, is because it’s been monopolizing a considerable bit of my time. Not enough to make it not worth it, but definitely enough to be noticeable. For the overwhelming part, every meal has to be prepared daily, so that’s a few hours every day that I’ve been spending in the kitchen rather than doing, well, anything else that I need to be doing. So I guess what I’m saying is, just keep that in mind too. ^_~


Plan #1: Focus more on Writing.
I definitely did put quite a bit of focus into writing in week 31, although not necessarily into the places where I would normally be putting my focus.

  • Goal #1: Write half a million words throughout the year. I did better in week 31! Not spectacular or anything, but definitely better! Most of my time was monopolized by TraceysBasement.com, on which we’ve been taking the initiative to write real, meaty, detailed review posts (plus my GEEKS Do KETO posts), but writing is writing! In week 31 I wrote 4614 words toward blog posts between this blog and TraceysBasement.com, and a measly little 62 words toward fiction, for a week’s total of 4676. That brings my year’s total up to 125317, and my daily average went back up (yes, up!) to 577 words per day. I must admit, seeing that shift if the daily average is what made me the happiest. I was getting really, really sick of watching that number go down week after week!
  • Goal #2: Sell more books. Someone bought a single e-book! It’s quite depressing that that makes me as happy as it does, but when you go for weeks at a time without getting a sale, well…yeah.
  • Goal #3: Complete and publish The Other World: Book Two. Unfortunately I got absolutely nothing done toward TOW: Book Two last week. That’s not to say that I didn’t try – I opened the Scrivener file and stared at it quite a few times. But whether I just wasn’t feeling it or my brain was taking a surprise vacation, every time I looked at it I felt myself going blank. I’m really hoping to rectify that situation this week.

Plan #2: Focus more on YouTube.
Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha….

  • Goal #1: Film more often.  IT’S. BEEN. SO. BLOODY. HOT. I hate to sound like I’m making an excuse, but you guys, seriously… I filmed one video last week (by myself, since it was a gift for me specifically), and I barely made it through the 15 or so minutes of filming before I was practically drowning in my own sweat. The amazing thing is that over the past week or so I’ve started to feel like the main levels of the house feel a little cooler, but the basement has sucked up all the heat and humidity. I couldn’t begin to tell you how that’s possible, since heat RISES, but I’m just stating fact. The basement has been as miserable as anywhere else for the past week or more, and that’s making filming nearly impossible. No one wants to see Jason and I unboxing toys while literally DRIPPING.
    That said, we recently borrowed a portable air conditioner unit from my parents, so I’m hoping I might be able to cool the basement down with that. Unfortunately the first test didn’t seem to do bugger all, so I might have to look up a manual and see if there’s something I’m doing wrong.
  • Goal #2: Put more focus into, and have more fun with, the social media aspect. I usually state that this particular goal is difficult to quantify, but I’ll go ahead this week and just tell you straight up that I haven’t been doing well recently. Specifically I haven’t touched either of my author accounts in days, but relating to YouTube I’ve been very slow and distant with updates the past week. I don’t know if it’s just because I’ve been occupied with other things or if I just don’t feel like I have anything to say, but I’m going to do my best to jump back into things in full force this week.

#3: Focus more on myself.
If you want to get technical about it, I think dedicating myself to the Keto diet would count as “focus more on myself”; just throwing that out there. ^_~

  • Goal #1: Take time daily to read/watch/play. I need to ban Adrianna from even speaking to me about mobile games. 😛 But in all seriousness, games on my phone were my main source of “daily time” in week 31, mainly because Adrianna wanted me to play with her, but also because they’re an easy thing to turn your brain off with while waiting for supper to finish or standing in line at the grocery store. That said, I’m going to try to replace the games with books in the coming week, because I’ve been very bad when it comes to getting my reading in. I keep having to remind myself, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.” And besides, I’ve got so many good books that need reading!
  • Goal #2: Stay active, but don’t obsess. I feel like I’ve been exceptionally lazy recently. Honestly, it’s not true: I’ve been working really hard on YouTube website stuff, the Keto stuff, and trying to get the house into some kind of order. But I haven’t exercised at all. I still want to get back into my Zombies Run! missions, but I just haven’t been able to do it with the heat wave continuing day after day. So, in the meantime, I’m going to do my best to continue to not “obsess”, but it would definitely be nice if I could drag myself out a few times in the current week.

Looking back at the week after I’ve written it all out, it wasn’t a terrible one, but wasn’t really very productive for anything other than writing. Writing is definitely very, very good, of course, but damn did I fall apart on everything else! Here’s to a better week upcoming, and learning how to multitask better!

How was your week? Were you able to accomplish anything? Do anything fun? Make any progress toward your own goals? Feel free to share!

Freddy Krueger Living Dead Doll Mezco Unboxing – Viewer Mail from River!

One, two…Freddy’s comin’ for you…

There’s a new addition to the horror collection today! I fell in love with this Living Dead Doll Freddy Krueger the moment Mezco shared pictures of him on Twitter, so imagine my surprise and elation when I found out my friend River had pre-ordered him for me!

AND HE TALKS!

Check out my unboxing vid and let me know what you think! Links are in the description box so you can pick one up for yourself!

Plans and Goals 2018: Week 30 Review

plansandgoalsweeklyreview

What’s up my peeps?! I know I’m a day late with this post (as though that never happens, am I right?) but I honestly just lost track of the day of the week for some reason. 😛 My head is a tornado of, well…basically just a tornado. Lost of wreckage flying around in every direction, leaving nothing but destruction in its wake.

So, with that in mind, I’m looking back at week 30 and I feel very strongly that I’m going to find it was a terrible week. That said, I’m not in a particularly bad mood about it, so that’s…good? I don’t know. I’m just moderately pleasant today, I guess! So before my brain begins to turn around and melt and I start loathing myself again, let’s get through this post, shall we?


Plan #1: Focus more on Writing.
Guys, I tried SO hard to focus more in week 30, but somehow it just didn’t work! I honestly have no idea what happened. I know that I was busy as sin for a few days straight, and yet somehow nothing got done. SOMEONE EXPLAIN THIS!

  • Goal #1: Write half a million words throughout the year. Despite the fact that I’d swear up, down, and sideways that I sat down to write multiple times a day throughout this week, I somehow managed to have a very poor word count. It was better than week 29, but still not great at all. I wrote 1971 words toward blog posts (if you’re wondering where all these blog posts are, some of them are for TraceysBasement.com), plus 1511 words toward fiction, for a week’s total of 3482. That brings 2018’s total up to 120,641, and brings my daily average down slightly to 572. At this point I’m going to have to have a miraculous week in order to get that daily average number to head back up. Could someone who is religiously-minded pray for me, please? 😛
  • Goal #2: Sell more books. I’m getting this close to actually going out onto the street with a stack of books and a megaphone and demanding that people buy a copy in order to shut me up. That’s seriously the point I’m getting to right now. I’m getting nothing for e-book sales (either on my “real” books or my pen-name stories), nothing for physical book sales on Amazon, nothing from the shop that has a few copies of my books…just nothing in general. It’s so bloody frustrating.
  • Goal #3: Complete and publish The Other World: Book Two. did manage to get a bit of work done toward this goal last week, thank goodness. It wasn’t nearly as much as I wanted to get done, but I needed to add a scene, and that took a good while because I had to think about things and go back and check a number of things. In the end, it was definitely good work being made. I just wish there had been a little more of it!

Plan #2: Focus more on YouTube.
YouTube, to be honest, went right down the tubes in week 30.

  • Goal #1: Film more often.  Right off the heels of an excellent week of four videos filmed, edited, uploaded, and promoted, we had a terrible week of absolutely nothing getting done. Mind you, there was definitely work done on the behind-the-scenes stuff, such as the website blog posts I mentioned earlier, but as far as actual videos were concerned, we did absolutely nothing. Now, in our defense I’ll also add that this heat wave stuff has been getting completely out of hand. I’ve never been so sweaty so many days in a row in all my life, and it’s been making even the prospect of sitting under half a dozen lights and speaking to a camera make me want to retch. But that’s not going to change any time soon, so hopefully I’m able to suck it up and get something done in week 31.
  • Goal #2: Put more focus into, and have more fun with, the social media aspect. I think I’ve been getting better? This is always such a hard thing to report on. I need an unbiased objective eye on this one. I feel like I’ve been tweeting more, Instagramming more, and generally just being fun and playful with my social media, but it’s hard to really look back and say whether it was a particularly good or particularly bad week.

#3: Focus more on myself.
Phew…I’ll be honest: this really didn’t happen last week. I’m sure they’d both turn around and try to deny it, but I seriously spent the overwhelming majority of the week doing what both Jason and Adrianna wanted me to be doing, and the result is that I feel a little burnt out right now. I’ve definitely got to try to do better this week or there’s likely to be some kind of a breakdown.

  • Goal #1: Take time daily to read/watch/play. I played a few mobile games last week? Question mark because I know that I did, but I think every time I did it was because Adrianna wanted me to play something with her. Aside from that, I can’t remember the last time I touched a REAL video game, and the only thing I read all last week was the mini book of Astrid Lindgren short stories that my friend Marie sent me, and that seriously is so short it only took about 10 minutes. For “watching”, Jason and I have been re-watching Dragonball Z in the nights, and that’s been about it.
  • Goal #2: Stay active, but don’t obsess. I got a zombie run in! It was only one, but I got it in! I also spend a couple of days in Sydney on the weekend, running all over hell’s creation, so that was half-decent exercise. Other than that I’ve been fairly sedentary because of that damned heat wave. Weeks like these I really, really wish I had a pool, because then I could kill two birds with one stone. But until I win some kind of lottery or something, there’s no sense in even thinking about it. Long story short: I’m not obsessing. Seriously. I’m not. Shut up.

So yeah, overall I was correct in my assessment back in the beginning of this post. It was a fairly terrible week. I’m still not horribly depressed about it or anything, but it does definitely make me frown when I look back and see how much I didn’t get done, even though I felt like I was running my ass off most of the week. How does that even work? Someone really has to tell me, because I cannot figure it out.

How was your week? Were you able to accomplish anything? Do anything fun? Make any progress toward your own goals? Feel free to share!