May’s “To Be Read” List

This is less a TBR for May, and more of a confession. Do you recall at the beginning of April when I said that I wasn’t going to create a TBR because I was behind on a few books already and didn’t want to just keep adding to the pile? Well, I followed that up by completely failing to read anything at all throughout April. 

Okay, that’s a tiny bit of an exaggeration because I did read a bit more A Clockwork Orange, and the little one and I finally finished up The Brothers Lionheart, but all things considered I read very, very little.

Therefore May is going to be a bit of a repeat of April (hopefully not literally, since I actually want to get some reading done this time). My intention is to finish the three books I still have in progress, which are the previously mentioned A Clockwork Orange, plus Stephen King’s On Writing, and the final book in the Lunar Chronicles series, Winter. They’re all partway done, so if I can set aside the mobile games for a little while I should have no trouble actually, you know…finishing them. 

If there’s time to be had, I’d like to also delve into a few comics, as they’ve been creating quite the pile in our downstairs hallway. 😛

Reviews will also come for everything, of course.

So with that said, I’ll head off to grab a book, because there’s no sense in just talking about reading, right? Right. 🙂


Do you have a “To Be Read” list for May? What’s on it? Feel free to share in the comments below!

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Plans and Goals 2018: Week 8 Review

plansandgoalsweeklyreview
Pardon me if my thought process seems a little disjointed and distracted throughout this post. It’s the first thing I’m doing on Monday morning after spending the weekend partying with my inlaws and wandering around, shopping and hitting flea markets. As a result I’m a little behind on sleep and I can feel my eyes doing their very best to sneak closed even as I’m typing this. Hopefully my brain will manage to continue to work in the background and whatever pops up on this screen will be moderately literate. Please feel free to let me know if I’ve mucked any sentences up or fallen asleep midway through a sentence and forgotten to go back and fix it. ^_~


Plan #1: Focus more on Writing.
Last week I moaned about how I’d gone backward for the first week of the year so far, and I was rather disappointed in myself. This week I’m happy to announce that, while I didn’t exactly break any records, I did manage to turn myself around and start moving back in the proper direction again. My one personal complaint is that 100% of the words I wrote in week 8 were for blog posts. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; I just wish I’d gotten some work done on The Other World: Book Two as well.

  • Goal #1: Write half a million words throughout the year. So, lots of blogging! In week 8 I managed to write 6480 words toward blog posts (I’ve been doing a lot of reviewing!), which is the most I’ve written in a week so far this year. In fact, it beats my previous highest week by 620 words, so yay for me! That brings me to a 2018 total so far of 41281, so I’ve nearly written a novel’s worth of words. I should be writing that much each month, but hey, credit where credit is due. Week 8’s influx sent my daily average moving back in the proper direction as well, bringing me back to 751 words per day. Let’s try to get that up to 800 or more by the end of the current week, shall we?
  • Goal #2: Sell more books. Not much to report here. I’ve had zero sales through Kindle or CreateSpace, and zero pages read through Kindle Unlimited, which is fairly depressing. I did sell a couple of books through my shopkeeper friend, and yesterday I traded out new books for the old ones (I’d previously given him copies of Nowhere to Hide with the old cover) to see if sales are improved by the more eye-catching cover. Fingers crossed that he’ll be able to see a few more in the coming weeks!
  • Goal #3: Complete and publish The Other World: Book Two. As mentioned above I did nothing toward TOW in week 8. Partly this is because I was simply busy with other things, but for certain part of it is because I’m growing frustrated with the project. Don’t get me wrong; I still want to finish it. It’s just that at this point in the writing process (edits/revisions/checking for issues) is both boring and mind-numbing to me, so I’ve been subconsciously avoiding it like the plague. I definitely have to start cracking the whip on myself though. I have two beta-readers waiting in the wings for me to get them the manuscript, and I want to have the second entry to the series available for purchase by the summer, if possible.

Plan #2: Focus more on YouTube.
There has been effort; oh yes, there has been effort. Read on!

  • Goal #1: Film more often. We could have done more – I’m not denying that – but Jason and I managed to get five new videos up during week 8, three of which I filmed with him, and the other two with the little missy. And one thing I’ll throw in here as well is that we’re getting better at flow. That is to say, our videos aren’t as full of jump-cuts as they used to be. Part of that is that I’m getting more used to rolling with mistakes and making jokes out of them rather than just clearing my throat and/or banging my head off the table and starting over. Another part is that Jason and I have both become more relaxed about the final product. That’s not to say that we care less about how “good” the video is when it’s done; more that we’re not as obsessed with “perfection”, because the more casual videos are more fun and entertaining anyway. Progress!
  • Goal #2: Put more focus into, and have more fun with, the social media aspect. This is still going perfectly well, in my opinion. No doubt I still spend much more time on Twitter than any other platform, but I’m getting better at the others as well. I’ve been spending more time in the Facebook group (when I have the time), and I’ve been doing my best to share more fun stuff on Instagram to break up the monotony of similar toy shots all the time. Finally, I’ve actually been getting back into Snapchat, to an extent, although I still think this is the weakest platform and I don’t even know if anyone really sees my posts half the time.

#3: Focus more on myself.
This is not easy! I’ve been finding that even when I do have a bit of time that I could be spending on myself, there’s always something I want to get done.

  • Goal #1: Take time daily to read/watch/play. My TBR list has suffered immensely in February. I finally managed to get around to reading the TMNT/Usagi comic Derek sent me, but I haven’t touched Tomie or the Buffy Season 8 book yet, and I’ve only got 2 days left in the month as of the writing of this post. That’s pretty said, considering I only chose comics for this month’s TBR, but I’ve found that I could never put enough time together to focus on reading. The little bits of time I’ve had to myself I’ve spent playing a quick round of Pokemon TCG or scrolling through Twitter for a few moments. And occasionally passing out on the couch for 15-20 minutes. Not exactly productive time spent, though I AM hoping to crush Tomie before the month runs out.
  • Goal #2: Stay active, but don’t obsess. I wasn’t overly active in week 8, but I wouldn’t say that I was sedentary either. For the most part I did a lot of work around the house, specifically the basement, so there was a lot of stair-climbing, carrying stuff, moving stuff around, building things, stretching, and so forth. So all that wasn’t too bad. I have been thinking about starting to run again once the weather begins to warm up a bit, but I’m having a hard time picturing it since I’ve gained weight and feel heavy as sin lately. I’ve been doing my best to eat breakfast and drink lots of water in order to combat this…but it doesn’t really seem to be helping. I’ve been ravenous when it comes to food, and I find it very difficult to remember to drink water since it takes a long time for me to actually feel thirsty. But I am trying, so I guess that’s better than nothing!

Okay, that was week 8 for me. Not the crowning achievement of weeks, but I got a few things done and am progressing overall.

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

Plans and Goals 2018: Week 4 Review

plansandgoalsweeklyreview

The burnout is real, you guys! @.@
Okay, to be honest I’m actually feeling a lot better today, but sometime around the middle of this past week the burnout hit me hard, and I’m fairly certain it hit Jason too, because the two of us were just shy of worthless for a couple of days. I guess that’s the price of getting stuff done, though, because we still had a fairly successful week overall!


Plan #1: Focus more on Writing.
My stats, such as they are, are slowly but steadily climbing. I was stymied away from my writing focus for a few days this week, but overall this was still actually my best week so far, so I take that to mean that I’m improving quite a bit.

  • Goal #1: Write half a million words throughout the year. First, I want to quickly point out that I had some numbers messed up in the previous weeks because of the way my day planner is laid out. The year started on a Monday, so I counted my first week as 6 days so that I could, from then on, base everything on a Sunday-to-Saturday progression. Unfortunately, my planner is laid out so that every 2-page spread starts on Monday and ends on Sunday. So, long story short, I kept forgetting to turn back a page and add Sunday’s totals into my week. With that said, I’ve gone back and fixed the numbers in my previous posts, and what it boils down to is that I’ve gotten a little better every week so far. Yay for that! Progressing in that manner, we have the report for this past week. I wrote 2069 words toward the blog, and 3605 words toward The Other World, for a weekly total of 5674 word. That brings me to a yearly total so far of 20154, giving me a daily average of 746. That’s still nowhere near where I’m supposed to be, but as mentioned, it’s slowly going up, so, you know…progress!
  • Goal #2: Sell more books. I’m hoping to have a more complete report on this one soon, when the local shop owner returns from his trip, but at the moment there’s not all that much to say. I haven’t had any online purchases or downloads so far this month. There have been some page reads through Kindle Unlimited, so that’s something at least, although from a financial standpoint it’s barely worth reporting. Since the Kindle Unlimited system only pays approximately 1 cent per every 2 page reads, that means that I made approximately $0.60 last week. Yay! I can buy half a Tim’s coffee. -_-
  • Goal #3: Complete and publish The Other World: Book Two. The process is ongoing, of course, but moving forward for sure. This past week I mostly ignored Book Two in order to get out some thoughts for Book Three, but because of that I’ve worked out a few issues I have with Book Two, so in this coming week I’ll be going back through and making some changes to the manuscript in preparation for sending it to my beta readers.

Plan #2: Focus more on YouTube.
Overall we slowed down a bit this week, partially because of the aforementioned burnout, but also partially because we’ve very nearly managed to plow through the videos we were hoping to get done before our anniversary coming up this week. Go us!

  • Goal #1: Film more often. During week 4 we filmed and published 7 videos, which is plenty, of you ask me! Three of those were vids I did by myself (go me!), and one was an exceptionally long Godzilla haul that took a full day for us to film, edit, and publish, so all in all I feel very accomplished.
  • Goal #2: Put more focus into, and have more fun with, the social media aspect. Social media continues to expand as well, although I’m having trouble remembering to even bother with SnapChat, and Twitter is definitely coming much easier to me than Instagram is. All in all, though, it’s been going well, and I believe our followers have been going up on those platforms as a result. I’ve also been seeing a lot of interaction from toy companies lately, as they’ve been liking and even sharing posts that we tag them in when we show off their products. It’s extremely appreciated and makes me very happy to see that there are actually people within these companies paying attention to what social influensters are doing for them, so I’ll definitely continue to share our favorite products with the world!

Plan #3: Focus more on myself. As always, this is one of my weakest points. I just never seem to find the time to actually put any effort into my own personal health, but trust me, it’s not for a lack of trying.

  • Goal #1: Take time daily to read/watch/play. It was a rough week for this one, in particular because we spent Friday and Saturday running all over hell’s creation. Friday we went out to pick up Jason’s preorder of Dragonball Fighter Z, only to discover that our store, for some reason, wasn’t sent the proper Day One copies of the game, so if we wanted what we’d actually purchased we had to go for an extra long drive to a different store that had actually gotten the right ones. Then yesterday we took a 3-hour drive into the city to look for a few specific items, none of which we actually ended up finding, unfortunately. Luckily we found a few other awesome things, so the day wasn’t an entire waste. That said, between those two days of running around, and the other days during which we were busy filming and editing, I didn’t spend a lot of time on myself. Mostly I snagged a minute here and there to play phone games, and on one day when I was exceptionally tired I snuggled up with the little miss and watched A New Hope. That one makes up for the rest of the week, though, because she enjoyed it, and it makes me grin like a fool when my daughter talks about Star Wars. XD
  • Goal #2: Stay active, but don’t obsess. I was actually fairly active this week, though, partially because of the two days of running around, shopping, but also because I spent a couple of evenings playing Just Dance with the kid. That game is a hell of a cardio exercise, let me tell you! That said, I also recently discovered that I’ve gained 10 lbs over the past two months, so it looks like I’m not being nearly active enough. As I very much DO NOT want this to end up being a trend, I think it’s about time to start putting some extra effort in.

So that was week 4 of 2018. There were some ups and downs, but overall the progress seems to be in a steady, forward direction, so I’m confident and determined. It’s nearly February, so let’s see if I can keep the motion going in the new month!

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

Dilemmas of a Literary-Minded Mom

As a kid I was a big reader. For whatever reason I seemed to learn to read pretty early, and I always loved curling up with a book. As soon as I advanced to the level of young reader novels, my parents started buying me the Babysitter’s Little Sister series, which turned into the Babysitter’s Club series, which turned into a rather large bookcase by the end of it. I read really fast, so I’d go back to my favorite books all the time, and I was a regular at our town’s library, where I’m pretty sure I’d read every kid-friendly book available right up until I hit junior high.

And while I was, in fact, a bit of a geek and a nerd, and suffered a wee (*cough cough*) bit of teasing and tormenting throughout my childhood, I attribute my love of reading to a great deal, including educational and career-related success, as well as an ability to express myself, even if I require time and a word processor to do so.

The point that I’m trying to get to is that from the moment I knew I was going to have a child, I knew that I wanted that child to be a good reader, one way or the other, because I know far too many grown adults in this day and age who can barely read the newspaper without asking someone what a certain word is, and that’s just sad and depressing to me.

So I started reading to my daughter at a young age, and encouraged her to point out words herself. Every night for years I’d read to her at bedtime, until eventually she started reading small books to me instead. I’m very supportive of any kind of reading as well, because the way I look at it, words are words, and not everything has to be fine literature, as long as the reader is enjoying themselves. So I let her read comics, graphic novels, and give her dialect-driven video games to play. I give her classics like Robert Munsch’s The Paperbag Princess, and I give her licensed books about shows she enjoys, like My Little Pony and Ninja Turtles. And I always encourage her to read more and more difficult things, especially if they’re of something she loves (and thus would be willing to challenge herself with), like the Sailor Moon manga that she’s been absolutely devouring.

Long story short: I’ve worked to raise my daughter to enjoy – and be good at – reading, and I’m very proud of that and am more than happy to buy her more and more books/comics/whatever if it keeps her loving it.

And herein lies the dilemma.

scholastic-read-every-day-1

I’m sure most of the people reading this know what Scholastic Reading Club is. If you don’t, they’re an organization that works through schools to hold book fairs and send home flyers of books and small toys, and a portion of the proceeds from any sales goes to that particular school. It’s an excellent program that’s been in existence for at LEAST 30 years, since I remember it from the second I entered grade primary, and it’s still going on now. While I’m sure some parents get exasperated with the flyers showing up every month or so, I personally love it, because there are often great deals on bundles of books, it helps encourage kids to read, and the school gets some money! Win-win-win! And of course, it’s another win when my daughter comes home from school with one of these flyers, and informs me that she’s circled the books she wants. “Yay!” says me, “My daughter is excited about books! That’s so awesome! I’m going to buy her all the books!”

….

….

Over $300.

She circled over $300 worth of books, you guys.

Mind you, a few of those books were things like crafts and collector’s guides, which I automatically discount because those are the kinds of things that go on birthday and Christmas lists, not just random, everyday “I want this” lists. But even still, there’s got to be $250 worth of ACTUAL books circled.

Now, I know that she doesn’t actually expect to get them all, because my daughter actually does understand how money works, and she knows damn well that she doesn’t just get everything she wants, even if it IS books. But where the real problem, the real dilemma here, lies, is….how much DO I get? And which ones?

Okay, okay, I admit that I might be coming off as a little overly dramatic here. Mostly I’m just joking around, because I find it hysterical that she circled SO MANY books in the flyers. But I do, as a very literary person, find myself flipping back and forth between the pages, trying to decide exactly what to do with her choices. Do I set a budget and tell her she has to decide what she wants that fits within that? If so, what kind of budget do I set? Do I buy her a couple but also inform her that she can get more if she uses her Christmas/birthday money? Do I choose myself, deciding on the books that I think are best for her advancement? Basically, I’m asking for opinions! What would you do in this situation? Obviously it will come down to the two of us in the end, but I’m curious to know what other parents (or even non-parents) have to say! So let me know in the comments: how many/how much money/who decides/etc?

And feel free to laugh at me now for making these sound like a serious issue. ^_~

Plans and Goals 2018: Week 2 Review

plansandgoalsweeklyreview

I feel like I say this often, but the past week seemed to have disappeared on me in the blink of an eye. I feel like I literally just wrote last week’s post, although seven more days have mysteriously passed. Happily, part of the reason time has escaped me again is because I was rather busy getting things done. What a concept, right? So let’s take a look…


Plan #1: Focus more on Writing.
I didn’t reach my writing goals for the week at all, unfortunately, but I did manage to write something every day of this past week, which is a real accomplish for me, believe it or not. I also managed to get a few other things out of the way (which I’ll mention shortly), so I should be able to (hopefully) catch up a bit in the second half of the month.

  • Goal #1: Write half a million words throughout the year. I only succeeded in writing 1370 words on one day this week, which is a bit of a downer, but as mentioned I did manage to write daily, if only a little. All told I wrote 3108 words toward blog posts, 1528 words toward The Other World: Book 2, and 379 words toward a random personal project I began. That’s 5015 words total for the week, which isn’t much, but at least it’s something. For the sake of argument, I’m now at 9179 words for the year so far, which is an average of 706 words per day. Nowhere near the goal to reach half a million by the end of the year, but it’s definitely better than nothing!
  • Goal #2: Sell more books. Thus far this year I haven’t sold any books online, which is a bummer, but I believe I’ve sold a few via the collectibles shop I mentioned last week. I haven’t been able to get a hold of the owner, as he’s currently on a trip to the other side of the country, but the last time I was in the store it seemed like a few of the books were missing from the stack, so fingers crossed!
  • Goal #3: Complete and publish The Other World: Book Two. The little that I did write toward TOW2 this week brought me very close to the end. There are a few things near the beginning of the manuscript that I have to go back to before it can be a complete draft, but I’m nearing the point when I’ll be able to wrap it up and ship it off to my beta readers.

Plan #2: Focus more on YouTube.
Jason and I KICKED ASS on this goal in the second week. I don’t know where the energy and motivation came from, but I’m definitely not complaining!

  • Goal #1: Film more often. In the past week I filmed 8 videos, which I haven’t done in AGES, and between myself and Jason we actually managed to get every one of them edited and published, shocking some of our closest YouTube friends with our sudden burst of output. It was awesome!
  • Goal #2: Put more focus into, and have more fun with, the social media aspect. I petered off with this one at the end of the week when I started to get exhausted (and then Adrianna had a friend over for a sleepover, and pretty much everything came to a grinding halt…lol), but the majority of the week was good. Lots of tweeting, Instagramming, and talking to people on Facebook. I’m still getting used to getting back into SnapChat – it just doesn’t seem as important since there’s not really a lot of interaction there – but I’m working on it. I want to try to bolster the Instagram posts in the coming week, as that’s where we have the most followers and interaction.

Plan #3: Focus more on myself.
And here’s the real test? Did I take care of myself during all this work? Well, yeah, for the most part, I did!

  • Goal #1: Take time daily to read/watch/play. I’ll willingly admit that a lot of my “me time” this past week consisted of crashing on the couch and playing Sailor Drops on my phone, but given how much I was getting done with the YouTube channel, I’m going to forgive myself for defaulting to brainless mobile games for a bit. I also began reading A Clockwork Orange, which proves to be very interesting, and last night when the girls were finally quieting down a bit I absolutely devoured Gyo, which I’ll have to write a review of soon because…damn. I’m going to be having nightmares for weeks!
  • Goal #2: Stay active, but don’t obsess. The overwhelming majority of my physical activity this week involved cleaning, but hey, it needs to be done, and at least I was up and moving around! I also played a bit of  Just Dance with Adrianna, which never fails to remind me how out of shape I am, and while this doesn’t necessarily fall under “stay active”, I also started taking vitamin D to combat the winter blues, as well as guzzling more water to keep myself hydrated. So far I think both things are helping because I’ve been feeling more awake and alert, which is never a bad thing.

So that was my second week of 2018. Not a huge amount of success on the writing side, but lots of good with everything else. I’m hoping to press into the third week with more filming and more writing, and if I can manage to carve out some time I’d like to get back into Breath of the Wild before I forget how to play. ^_~

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