Fighting Fear

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“Fighting Back from the Inside” drawing by Maranda Russell

Fighting Fear
Written by: Maranda Russell

I took fear by the hand
and shook him until I heard
the sound of his yellow bones
popping in and out of place.

I pushed him down the stairs,
his skull cracking
against the white, stone steps
on his way to the finale.

He hit the basement floor,
his form a worthless gray lump,
emitting the mocking voices
no muzzle can silence.

Still, I must close the door
at least one more time
and pretend not to hear.
So I do.

Depression & Suicidal Thoughts

I’ve been dealing with depression a lot lately, mostly due to unresolved childhood trauma I believe. Today I finally felt at least well enough to make a video talking about some of the things I am going through and wanted to share that in case it might help anyone else struggling. I am also going to share the written version of the poem I read in the video here:

Suicidal Ideations
Written by: Maranda Russell

If I only had a dollar
for every time
I have looked down
from a great height,
shook a full bottle of pills,
held my breath under water,
or inhaled exhaust fumes
while thinking

I could actually do it,
I could end it all –

I would have more
than enough
to pay for all the
therapy sessions
I obviously need.

Video: New ACEO Artworks! Lots of Mixed Media Collages!

Hi everyone! This is just a short post to share a recent video I made showing off some of my newest ACEO art trading card artworks (both those I make and sell and those I have collected from other artists!) I love the world of miniature art and hope others get into the hobby too! It is an affordable, space-saving way to collect and display original art! Lately I’ve really been into mixed media collage artwork, which I’m sure you can tell from the video:

 

New YouTube Video – “Behind the Scenes of My Foster Care Book”

This week’s video is a “behind the scenes” look into my popular book about foster care entitled “From Both Sides”. In this vlog I discuss the inspiration behind the book and share a few short excerpts.

I hope you will check it out! Feel free to comment and let me know what you think. You can also suggest future topics if there is something you would like to see me talk about.

New YouTube Video – “Behind the Scenes of My Newest Book Release – “Searching for the Truth”

In my latest YouTube vlog, I gave some personal information about what inspired my most recent book release, “Searching for the Truth: Poems & Prose Inspired by Our Inner Worlds”. I also read aloud a couple of the shorter poems from the book and explained why they meant so much to me. I hope you will check it out!

Not exactly life-changing, but here you go…

I really wanted to write some kind of deep, thoughtful post that would make you all say “wow” and possibly change a few lives…but unfortunately, I have absolutely no inspiration for that type of thing right now, so instead, I’m just going to share a few personal things that are going on and one of my recent artworks. Hope that will do ok.

First off, I do want to say that I am thrilled that it looks like several of my artworks will be featured in an upcoming book entitled “Uncommon Minds, A collection of poetry and prose created by individuals on the autism spectrum”. Also, I have a few poems that will be featured in a poetry anthology coming out before too long (I will share more details on that when I can). So luckily, my art and writing career seems to be flourishing and that makes me exceptionally happy. My next goal for my art is to have at least one piece exhibited in an art museum. It gives me something to work towards 🙂

I am also hoping that if my health improves enough I may be able to teach art/writing classes for kids once again. I really miss working with kids and just having fun with them. Unfortunately, this plan is on hiatus until my fibromyalgia and chronic infections calm down a bit. I have been given 5 courses of antibiotics for various infections since the beginning of November (a couple of the antibiotics I was allergic to which caused even more issues), so needless to say, my health has not been all that great. However, I am thankful to have such a great husband to look after me and that I am able to work at home.

As promised here is one of my recent artworks entitled “Red Eye Fright”. It was inspired by a collection of short horror stories I was reading recently. I wish I could find a book of horror stories that I actually found scary. Sometimes I think I have become immune to terror.

"Red Eye Fright"
“Red Eye Fright”

To see more of my art, or to purchase this piece, feel free to visit my ebay seller page or just search for “MRuss art” on ebay.

Should book reviewers charge fees?

money-backgroundI know many indie authors and others in the literary world have vastly opposing opinions on the matter of whether book reviewers should charge fees for their services. I struggled with this issue a lot myself as a book reviewer. On the one hand, you want your reviews to be unbiased, honest and taken seriously. However, on the other hand, as a reviewer, I know that it does take a lot of time to read and review books. Each book, depending on the length can take anywhere from 30 minutes (short picture books) to a few hours to read through, especially when you are reading with a critical eye to be able to give a fair review. Add to that the time it takes to write up the review, post it online and promote the post and you can easily spend many hours creating a good book review.

For a long time I did offer free or donation-based reviews. The trouble was that I became so overwhelmed with all the time and effort of reviewing everyone else’s work that I started to slack off on my own writing and book promotional duties. For a while I tried to balance it all, but eventually realized that if I were to justify all the time I was using writing reviews, I should ask for at least a small compensation for the time and effort on my part. I never did approve of those reviewers that charge ridiculous reading fees up to several hundred dollars and think that many of them exist simply to take advantage of excited indie authors who are having a hard time finding reviews. I decided right away I WOULD NOT be one of those guys. So I decided to charge between $15 and $25 for reviews, depending on the length of the book. I still generally don’t even earn minimum wage per hour for actual time spent reading and reviewing, but I’m ok with that because I do love the work.

I know not everyone agrees with my decision and I’m ok with that. I definitely believe everyone should go with their gut when it comes to doing what feels right, but I hope they can at least understand my point of view as well. I should also mention that I do sometimes still do unpaid reviews. I occasionally trade reviews with other authors if their books are in a similar genre and I still do some reviews just because I love a book or an author and I want to share my thoughts.

Even with the reading fee, I am still careful to pick books to review that interest me too, after all, there are some genres I just don’t feel like I can do justice to in a review, because I don’t know enough about the genre. That is why I tend to stick to children’s, young adult, women’s, nonfiction and poetry genres.

Well, that is my view on things. Feel free to leave a comment below and express your opinion.

Some of the best books ever written were self-published

It seems like there is a lot of condescension in the literary world about “self-published” authors. This annoys me. First off, because I have many friends who self-published excellent books, and secondly, because I have self-published two ebooks (even though my print books aren’t self-published).

So where does this bias come from? Is it because throughout history self-published books have been crappy? I highly doubt that. In fact, many of the best books ever written were self-published. Don’t believe me? Well, here is a short list of some self-pubbed classics:

*Beatrix Potter’s “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” was turned down by six publishers, but this didn’t get the young authoress down. She decided to self-publish the book. One of the publishers who had turned down the project saw the completed book, changed his mind and offered to publish the next edition of the book.

*Mark Twain, fed up with his previous publisher, decided to self-publish “Huck Finn”. Ironically it became one of his bestselling books, perhaps because he implemented a door-to-door marketing campaign.

*Edgar Allan Poe (my favorite writer of all time by the way), self-published his first book “Tamerlane and Other Poems”, thus effectively launching his career (even if he never did get the money or respect he deserved while alive).

*Charles Dickens self-published “A Christmas Carol” after having a fight with his publisher over the earnings related to a previous book.

*Some great authors like Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters even struggled to get publishers to publish their books “all expenses paid”! In fact, Jane Austen’s family offered a publisher the opportunity to publish Jane’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility, on ”behalf of the author who will incur all expenses”. Not only did Jane’s family pay for publishing costs, but they also had to pay a commission to the publisher for each book sold! Sounds like a rotten deal to me, but she did ok in the end.

*Ever read Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”? Neither have I, but it was self-published too.

*Even the manual that many writers use as their Bible was first self-published. Where would we be without William Strunk’s “The Elements of Style?”

*Some other authors who are said to have self-published at some point in their careers: Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman, e.e. Cummings, Carl Sandburg, Ezra Pound, Stephen Crane, Rudyard Kipling, Alexandre Dumas, Henry David Thoreau (plus many, many more, but I really don’t want to type all their names, so Google it if you are interested).

In the end, I’m not going to say that all self-published books are good, any more than I would say all traditionally published books are good, but I do think all books deserve to be judged for their literary merit, rather than their publisher.