An Author Honor – Being Read in a Book Club

I’ll admit that, most days, I still find it hard to consider myself a “real” author. It’s a combination of being self-published (which, despite attempts at the contrary, still makes me consider myself to be an amateur) and the fact that my sales are mind-blowingly abysmal. I shouldn’t harbor such thoughts – I wrote TWO GODDAMN BOOKS, DAMMIT, and that makes me an author! – but it’s very difficult, and I hardly think that I’m the only self-published author to feel that way, so I give myself a break.

That said, every so often something happens that really does make me feel like a “real” author, and one of those things happened throughout the month of July. You see, over at the Basement Geeks Facebook Group, two of our most active members decided to start up a “Basement Geeks Book Club”. I thought it was a great idea, and joined up right away, myself, but I wasn’t expecting what happened next, because there was a poll set up to decide which book the group would read first, and the book they chose…was Nowhere to Hide.

It wasn’t a huge book club or anything – less than ten people were actually reading – but, to be honest, it was kind of a huge deal to me. It felt wonderful, not only because they chose my book, but because I got to be a part of the process. The members discussed the chapters they’d read weekly, and I got to be there, joining in the conversation, fielding questions, and seeing what people really, truly thought. There were a few constructive criticisms, some awesome reactions, and a surprising amount of praise that all just made me feel warm and fuzzy and happy inside. My favorite part? The way everyone agreed on how I was able to really hammer them emotionally. No individual comment or review has ever made me truly feel like I’m doing something right, like I’m accomplishing what I set out to do when I imagine and reimagine my scenes over and over again.

It made me feel like I’m not only a “real” author, but also a good one. And I can’t describe how that makes me feel.

So thank you, Basement Geeks Book Club. You have no idea how great you made me feel just by sitting down to discuss a book.

Goals and Aspirations in Review – July 2017

As always, as it seems to be lately, it seems as though the past month has just flown out from under my feet without my even noticing. I feel so busy and yet never seem to get anything done, and then when this post comes around each month I sit here and stare at my results and wonder what the hell happened.

So with that said, let’s just get right into it, shall we?

As mentioned last month, I attempted to get my motor revved up throughout July by adding a “write 300 words” mini-goal to every day in my personal day planner. That plan, while solid, did not work at all for me. For one thing, for a number of reasons, I barely glanced at my planner all throughout the month. But there were also a number of other issues, not the least of which was a major funk I went through for a couple of weeks that I won’t get into, but basically kept me from accomplishing anything worth speaking of, including writing. In the end I turned out with a word count for the month of 4132, which isn’t my worst month, but is pretty close to it, and abysmal in general. I’m attempting the 300-words-per-day mini-goal again this month, and hopefully I’ll have better luck this time.

Mini-Goal #1.a. Publish more erotic fairy tales.
I won’t really go into detail with this one because it has basically been put on hold for the time being while I work on other, more important things, but I do have plans for more of these short stories in the future.

Mini-Goal #1.b. Start writing blog posts again.
I’ll admit it: it has been difficult to get back into blogging again. I still stand behind my decision to make the new blog, and I’m much more fond of it than I was of the old one, and I think it works for me. But I’ve been at a loss for what to blog about, to be perfectly honest. There are the set posts like this one, but on a day to day basis I just can’t figure out what it is I want to say. In the coming month I might delve into some writing prompts to try and get the juices flowing again.

Mini-Goal #1.c. Find ways to promote the book(s).
This never gets any easier, and I can’t honestly report any kind of real success. I was lucky enough this past month to have some of the awesome people from our Basement Geeks Facebook group read “Nowhere to Hide” for their BG Book Club, and as a result I got a few more sales than usual and a couple of awesome reviews. However, as far as actively finding ways to promote the books…I’m still working on it and not having a wide range of successes.

#2. Get healthier.
This is always an ongoing battle, of course, but I do believe that I’m doing better. My weakness is food, of which I eat a vast quantity, but I’ve been doing lots of little things, including drinking more water, doing squats and stretches and the like, and other mini-changes. I have been feeling better in general, but it’s definitely a slow, uphill journey. Onward and upward!

Mini-Goal #2.a. Walk/run 10k 8k steps per day.
The month started off a lot better than it finished, and there was a definite wonky week during that “funk” period that I mentioned earlier. As a result my numbers aren’t as nice as they could be, but they’re not terrible either. I wound up with only ten 8-k days, with a daily average of 7566 steps. As always, I hope to do better this month, and since I’m back to work out West and hauling my ass all over the oilsands, that shouldn’t really be a problem.

Mini-Goal #2.b. Take daily “me time”.
This one can be taken one of two ways for the month of July. On the one hand, yes, I believe I had daily “me time” throughout the month. On the other hand, I think that most of that “me time” was spent moping around during my “funk”. I don’t really know what more to say about that.

#3. Work on my online presence – specifically, YouTube.
I’m not going to go too deep here either because, to be honest, YouTube is part of why I hit that “funk” I keep bringing up. It’s a complicated issue that can’t really be boiled down into a single explanation, but suffice it to say that I wasn’t at all happy with anything even remotely involving YouTube for several weeks, so I didn’t really think a whole lot about this goal throughout July.

Mini-Goal #3.a. Learn to respond immediately.
I’m definitely getting better at this, but there’s still a long way to go. I’ve been jotting notes in my planner for when I really can’t get to something like an email right away, but I’m getting better in general at responding to comments on social media posts and the like. Yay me!

Mini-Goal #3.b. Focus more on daily social media.
And this one I feel is going well too, as I’ve started to work myself into a bit of a groove. I’m better some days than others, but in general I’ve been pretty decent at getting something up on each of the social media accounts each day so that there is steady content. Yay me again!

All in all I can’t say that I was terribly happy with July, but I also worked through a few things throughout the month that will hopefully lead toward August being a better one. Fingers crossed, and all that jazz. But in the meantime, how was your month? Did you accomplish anything? Set any new goals? Feel free to share!

What’s in a (Fictional) Death?

The other night Jason and I watched a movie. In order to protect you from spoilers, I won’t tell you what the movie was, but suffice it to say that a rather large number of characters died throughout its run-time. These deaths got me thinking… You see, I watch a lot of movies, a lot of TV shows and animated features, read a lot of books and comics, and…well, you get the idea. Thus, I see/read/experience a lot of fictional death, and what I’ve found is that, while I’m fairly desensitized to it at this point, there are certain manners, methods, and situations which cause a fictional death to become extraordinarily uncomfortable to me. As a writer these little details intrigue me, because, depending on the piece, I might actually aspire to infuse those uncomfortable feelings in others. So I thought I’d write this little list of those types of deaths and why they bother me so.

Uncomfortable Death #1: The person who (reasonably) didn’t even want to be there.

This is a common one in action adventure movies – think things like Jurassic Park. There is often a character who is a bit of a wuss, who doesn’t want to follow the group into the grand adventure, who is actually pretty reasonable when you really think about it. But for whatever reason this character ends up going on the adventure anyway, is terrified the entire time, and then just when he/she is in a fairly comfortable spot and feels confident that everything is going to be okay…they get eaten. Or ripped literally limb from limb. Or crushed from the bottom half so that their brain stays alert for a few moments. And they almost always die shrieking in fear and agony. And that’s what makes it so uncomfortable for me, I think. Just the thought of this poor fool who shouldn’t have even been there, and was even actually smart enough to know that they shouldn’t have been there, dies in horrifying pain and terror, freaks me out. I think it’s because I can imagine myself in that situation. I imagine that I would be the person who didn’t want to go, but got dragged along anyway, and paid the ultimate price for it.

Uncomfortable Death #2: The person who tries (and miserably fails) to be a sacrifice for their friends.

A sacrifice scene can be an extremely emotional moment in a movie. The monster is coming, the group isn’t going to get away, so this character turns around, weapon in hand, ready to die in order to afford their friends a few extra moments to run for their lives. It’s tense, and sad, and we’re meant to develop a strong sense of respect for the character… And then the character gets swatted away like a fly and dies horribly without accomplishing a damn thing. Half the time the death even ends up coming off as a little comical, as the character’s body ragdolls through the sky. It makes me uncomfortable because I hate the sudden change in tone. Working up to that moment I feel a mixture of sadness and respect for this character and then their death turns out to equate to something like a pie in the face. That bothers me. Quite a lot, actually. I don’t like having my emotions played with, is the thing, and that’s what this kind of death feels like to me.

Uncomfortable Death #3: The sniveling worm who you want to die, but then does so in the most pathetic manner possible.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, please think about Jurassic Park again (and if you somehow have managed to avoid seeing Jurassic Park for all these years…spoilers, I guess? Go watch the movie, dammit). Think about the lawyer in Jurassic Park. That guy was a sniveling, skeezy, creep, and don’t you dare say for a second that you weren’t rooting for him to get eaten. But the thing is, when he does, doesn’t it make you feel a little like bugs are crawling around in your skin? Maybe it’s just me, but when a sniveling character like that lawyer dies cowering, crying, snot running down his face, practically crying for his mommy…I don’t know. For some reason that makes my skin crawl. I hate the character, but I also feel a little bad for them and wish that they could just show a grain of bravery in the last seconds of their life, and that combination of feelings gives me gooseflesh. Maybe I’m just crazy.

Uncomfortable Death #4: Any child death in which the body is destroyed beyond any chance of recognition.

I’m sure that a child’s death, for a lot of people, is uncomfortable enough as it is, and I’m definitely a bit more sensitive to them since having my own child, but in general fictional child deaths don’t really bother me any more than fictional adult deaths – it really depends on the individual character rather than their age. But with that said, child deaths in which the body is absolutely destroyed…those wig me the hell out. A specific one I always think about is from one of the Final Destination movies. (Spoilers for an extremely old movie again!) The character is practically a teen, but still counts in this case, and he’s killed by a falling pane of some kind of heavy duty glass that literally liquefies his body. There’s nothing left except a pile of mush oozing out his clothing. And although the special effects haven’t held up the greatest and the way his body folds in half backward actually looks a bit comical now, that death freaks me the hell out every time. There’s just something about there not being a body left behind that bothers me in a way I can’t explain. But it’s only with children. If an adult gets vaporized or blown into literal confetti, it’s not a big deal. A child? No no no no no, I don’t like it, I don’t want it, make it go away. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that a grown adult leaves behind a legacy, so it doesn’t seem to be a big deal if there’s no physical remnant left behind, whereas a child has yet to have left their mark on the world, so I feel like taking their physical presence away as well is extra horrifying.

So those are four types of deaths that regularly happen in fiction and bother me a great deal for a number of (both definite and possible) reasons. What do you think? Do you agree with my thoughts? Have any examples of your own? Please feel free to share!

Goals and Aspirations in Review – June 2017


If you’re new to my new blog and didn’t come here from my old blog, you might be a bit confused about this post, but basically at the beginning of the year I set goals and aspirations for myself, and then at the beginning of every month I write a post talking about how I did during the previous month. It’s all about accountability, which works sometimes and…doesn’t, others. 🙂

So without further ado, let’s delve into how poorly I accomplished my goals in June. ^_~

I hate that this is the first goal on the list because I have to admit that June was an unprecedented failure! Mainly this is because June turned out to be an extraordinarily busy month for some reason, but at least part of the reason is simply that I haven’t been making an effort to find the time to write. Additionally, I’ve been finding myself sinking into a bit of a writer’s block situation, so that hasn’t helped with my intentions at all. And to make it all that much worse, I failed to actually record some of my words this month, so I’m not even sure what the exact number is. I’m certain that it’s less than 2000, which is sickening. That’s why, for the month of July, I’ve added “Write 300 word” to every day of my personal daily planner. Let’s see if it helps any!

Mini-Goal #1.a. Publish more erotic fairy tales.
I haven’t gone any further in this goal since May, so there’s not much to report, but I do have plans for further additions to the two “series” that I now have going. So, long story short, expect more in the future!

Mini-Goal #1.b. Start writing blog posts again.
I’m still working on this one, but if you came over here from No Page Left Blank you obviously know that I recently started up this new blog. My intention, obviously, was to put more focus into this new blog, while also re-branding myself a bit and broadening what the blog means to me. I haven’t done too much with it yet (see aforementioned “extraordinarily busy month”) but I hope to start posting here more regularly in the near future.

Mini-Goal #1.c. Find ways to promote the book(s).
This is a permanent burr in my heel, and if you came here from No Page Left Blank you absolutely know that to be true. I’m still working on it, but as previously mentioned most of the promotional methods that are actually helpful also cost amounts of money that I can’t afford to be throwing away. So, as usual, if you’ve got any ideas, please feel free to share!

#2. Get healthier.
It’s honestly difficult to quantify this particular goal for June because I was so busy that I can’t even remember what I did or didn’t do. Jason and I have been drinking fruit smoothies pretty much every morning, which is definitely good, but I haven’t been exercising at all, and I definitely haven’t been getting enough sleep. It’s been a rough month in general for health, to be honest, but I’m still dedicated, even if only a little.

Mini-Goal #2.a. Walk/run 10k 8k steps per day.
There was a hiccup with this goal in June…specifically, my FitBit bit the dust. By the time that I remembered that I had an old one that I could default to, I’d gone seven days without counting my steps. That said, I did manage to hit my 8k goal on 15 of the recorded days, and of those recorded days I had an average of 7909 steps. Not too shabby, but I definitely hope to do better in July.

Mini-Goal #2.b. Take daily “me time”.
No, no, no, no, no. June was a terrible month for “me time”. It was such a busy month that I honestly could barely breathe most days, never mind find time for myself. I managed to sneak some time here and there to play games and read comics, but in general, I found time to sleep and that was about it.

#3. Work on my online presence – specifically, YouTube.
It’s a steady slog, and there are lots of ups and downs with this one. There aren’t many details that I can really go into, so lets just go with: it was a busy month, but I’m doing my best.

Mini-Goal #3.a. Learn to respond immediately.
I definitely feel like I’m still doing better than I used to do, but June was a rough month for this goal because of how much was going on. I did a lot of driving, so I couldn’t respond to things quickly, and then everything would pile up and be difficult to get back into. Then we started selling stuff online, and my messages went through the roof to the point that I was almost drowning in them, and before I knew it I’d left some people hanging for nearly a week. So…good and bad on this one, but the effort is definitely there.

Mini-Goal #3.b. Focus more on daily social media.
Please see previous paragraph. 😛

Mini-Goal #3.c. Come up with new video ideas.
I’m officially removing this mini-goal for the rest of the year because it’s simply not happening, and there’s too much else to deal with right at this point in my life, so it’s more important to just focus on making any videos.

I feel like this post was nothing but complaints! And if it was, I apologize for being a barrel of laughs, but all I can do is report! Here’s hoping to July being a better month on all fronts. In the meantime, how was your June? Did you get anything accomplished? Complete any goals? Make any new ones? Feel free to share!

How Much Do You Really Change Over 5 Years?

A few years back, I was browsing through a book store when I happened to come across something called the “Q and A a Day” journal. It’s a small book with 365 pages, one for each day of the year, each with a single question and five separate spaces for answers. The idea is to answer a question a day throughout the year, but then loop around and answer the same questions again the following year, repeating until you’ve filled up the journal and answered each question five times over the course of five years. In this vein, you could look back through the journal and see how you’ve changed over the years.


I thought it was a really neat idea, so I picked up a copy and got to work…

…and in true “Tracey Tobin” fashion, I promptly forgot about it a few months later.

Now, recently I found the book and figured, hey…it doesn’t really matter if it’s five consecutive years of answers, just as long as I end up with five years of answers in the long run, right? So I started working on it again and have been doing so for a few weeks, scrawling answers to the questions for 2017 under the answers I had previously written back in 2014. And I have to admit, it’s been eye-opening to compare the two sets of answers.

So have I changed dramatically in three years, or am I practically the exact same person? Honestly, it’s a little of both! I make an effort not to look at my previously-written answers until I’ve come up with the new one, and yet sometimes I’ll glance up and realize that I’m writing the exact same sentence down, sometimes even word for word, making it seem as though my mind is a carbon copy now of what it was then. Yet, with other questions I’ll look at the previous answer and think that surely some other person must have written that, because it couldn’t have come from my brain.

In general I guess I just have to say that I’m surprised at both the similarities and the differences. For instance, stress is something that I feel like I’ve been dealing with for about a year or so, and yet according to some of the answers I wrote in 2014, I was very much dealing with it back then as well. When it comes to opinions on things that I never thought would change, however, my old and new answers are sometimes as different as day and night and make me wonder how I ever could have felt that way.

It’s been interesting to look at, for sure, which is the entire point of the journal, so I guess it’s doing it’s job! It only makes me wonder how much re-reading the answers is going to hurt my brain once I’ve actually managed to fill it up with five answers per question!

When you look back at yourself, do you see huge differences? Little ones? None at all? How do you picture yourself in the future? Do you expect that much will change, or do you feel that you’re pretty much set in your ways? Feel free to share!