Twittering Tales #125 – Empty Bed

Here is the photo prompt and my entry for this week’s Twittering Tales writing challenge hosted by Kat Myrman:

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Olivia sat on the edge of her daughter’s unmade bed. She ran her fingers over the ridges and bulges of the white blankets. She leaned down to sniff the fluffy pillow at the head of the bed, then laid her head down on it heavily.

She’s really gone. The pain hit hard and fast.

(275 characters)

(Note: The photo prompt this week really reminded me of the novel I am currently reading, “The Night Olivia Fell”, by Christina McDonald. So, I stole the character name for the writing exercise.)

January/February Book Subscription Boxes – Kids & Middle Grade

Lately I’ve been trying random book subscription boxes just to try to figure out which one I want to get on a regular basis. For January/February, I tried the following two boxes:

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This first box was the January Book Drop subscription. I picked the middle grade option, although I was torn between that and the young adult option. This subscription box sends you one book per month (along with a card about the book and little extras like bookmarks) and is pretty cheap (about $10 including S&H for this shipment). The Book Drop is run by an independent bookstore, which makes buying it even better since I like to support small businesses.

The book they sent this month was Winterhouse by Ben Guterson. I really enjoyed this mystery novel! The main character is a book nerd and loves to do puzzles, just like me! I did figure out the plot of the book pretty early on though, so the mystery wasn’t all that hard for me.

Here is the second box I received, this one in early February:

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This box was from Kids Bookcase Club. It cost $9.99 plus S&H. You get three kids books a month. This was the 7-8 year old box. Out of the three books they sent, my favorite by far was Terrific by Jon Agee. This picture book is sarcastic and hilarious! I love the grumpy old man who is the main character! The Very Fairy Princess was a cute picture book, but not exactly my taste. The Animal Planet Dolphin Rescue book was a young reader chapter book and it was cute and interesting, but obviously a simple read. For next month’s box, I decided to up the age to the preteen box to see what kind of middle grade books they send.

For the upcoming month I am also trying out the Scribbler subscription box for writers and the SpearCraft Book Box (which comes with all kinds of cool reader goodies)! So stay tuned!!!

Poetry – Malice

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This little poem was inspired by a middle grade book series called “Malice” by Chris Wooding. I liked the world that was created, and decided to capture just a bit of it in poetry (my favorite line is the “mushroom lamps” one):

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By: Maranda Russell

Take the evening train
into the cavernous abyss.
Light up the darkness
with your mushroom lamps
and a fist full
of round trip tickets.

Water is Back! 800+ Blog Followers! Awesome Book Series!

Hey everyone! There were a few random things I wanted to share today. First, an update about my water heater situation….we now have hot water again! I can shower, I can brush my teeth, and I can flush the toilet again! Woo-wee!!! We are out almost $2,000 though, so that part really sucks.

Secondly, I want to thank you all so much for getting my blog to over 800 followers!!! That is awesome. I set a personal goal a while back to hopefully reach 1,000 followers by the end of the year and I might not exactly reach that, but I’m getting close and I appreciate all the support! You guys are awesome! You have no idea how much having communication with you all helps my mood and my attitude in general. You make me feel less alone and like I do have people in this world that care about me other than my immediate family.

Lastly, I want to share this awesome series of books with you all. If you are like me and you enjoy the children’s picture book format, but also have a sarcastic, wacky sense of humor, and a love for philosophy, I’m sure you will love this series just as much as I did!

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The series is called the Animalosophy series (written by Eric Kesselman and illustrated by Erica Missey) and includes the following books:

#1 The Existential Giraffe
#2 The Moribund Mouse
#3 The Perspicacious Penguin
#4 The Nihilistic Sea Otter

Free Reviews for Indie Authors!

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Lately I’ve missed reviewing indie books, which is something I used to do frequently and even did as a paid gig for a while. That is why I am offering the opportunity for any indie authors to contact me for a review if they are interested. Why indie authors? Because I myself am one, and I know how much reviews and promotion of any sort matter to an indie author’s success. Types of books I am most likely to consider reviewing are art, poetry, nonfiction, and children’s indie books.

Here are the specifics if you are interested:

  • I DO prefer a physical copy of the book, especially if it is heavy on text. Partly because I am not big on reading ebooks, and partly because having the physical copy is great for sharing a pic on social media!
  • I will review the books on Amazon and Goodreads (if the book is listed on both sites), and will also share links or photos of the books on social media (all together I have nearly 8,000 followers on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook).
  • I may or may not share about the book here on my blog, depending on whether the subject matter fits my blog themes.
  • I DO NOT charge for reviews, although donations are accepted if the author is so inclined. Any donations will be used to help finance this blog or for social media promotional purposes. Donations of any amount can easily be made on this blog via the “Support My Blog” page, or donations can be sent via snail mail with the book being reviewed.

If you have any questions or would like to submit your book for review, please contact me at Shojobeatgirl@live.com. If you know an indie author who would be interested, please share the link to this post!

Party Like It’s Your Birthday…

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Yesterday was my 36th birthday! I had a great day! My mother and her new husband, Bruce, took me and my husband out to eat at Perkins where I had some delicious spiced pear and cranberry waffles, then we went back to my house and visited for a while. Those of you who follow my blog regularly probably know I have a rocky relationship with my mother at times, but yesterday was actually really nice.

My mom also gave me some gifts, including cash and all this stuff:

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The llama dances to the tune of “Pocket Full of Sunshine” and is so adorable!!!

After my mom and Bruce left, my husband gave me his gifts for me:

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The t-shirt is awesome since I adore black cats and that lyric is from one of my all-time favorite songs (by Simon & Garfunkel). The black skeleton candle and Hello Kitty card are big favorites too!

A good friend of mine also sent me a little care package which was extremely sweet:

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I’m looking forward to reading that book since the movie looks pretty cool too. And you can never go wrong with ponies and cats!

Overall, I had a great day! Thank you to everyone who helped make it special!

YA Book Review: “Without Tess” by Marcella Pixley

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“Without Tess”, written by Marcella Pixley, is one of the best YA novels I have read in a while. I rarely give books five stars when rating them, but this one I did. The story revolves around the main character (Lizzie), and her dead sister (Tess). Lizzie is the younger sister by a couple years and was only 10 when her older sister tragically passed away.

The real star of the novel is Tess. As you read through the book and relive vibrant memories Lizzie shared with Tess, you come to both love and sometimes dislike Tess. Tess was a true believer in magic. She was creative and passionate. She was both loving and loyal, but at times cruel and violent. She was mentally ill, and at times downright psychotic. This novel is a lifelike retelling of what it is like to grow up with an extremely mentally ill sibling. It addresses the love, the hate, the sadness, the pain, the rage, the guilt, and all the other emotions that come along with such a disturbing family dynamic.

I had a deeply personal connection with this book, both as someone who grew up with a mentally ill sibling, and someone who eventually lost that sibling, mostly due to that mental illness. At one point the book even made me tear up, which is extremely rare for any book to do. Definitely recommended!

What is Your Great Work?

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Recently I was reading a book about glamour magic. I read a lot of books about paganism and mystical spiritual paths, because even though I consider myself an agnostic, I also believe there are many, many things we don’t understand and I enjoy delving into the mysteries and deeper meanings found in spirituality and mythology.

Overall, the book was a bit of a letdown, it seemed fairly shallow in some ways, but I guess I should have guessed that since glamour magic itself is generally about surface level changes. However, there was one meditative exercise in the book that I did find meaningful. This part of the book emphasized the importance of figuring out what your great work will be.

As the book went on to explain, in order to get anywhere in life, you have to know what you are aiming for. You have to know what is most important to you in terms of achievement and meaning. You have to figure out where your energy, passion, and hard work should be directed. So, I meditated on this subject for a while and here are the three things I came up with that I currently would consider my own “great work” in this life:

  1. My writing/blog. Guess what? You guys are all a BIG part of my great work! I write because my soul cries out to share my experiences, feelings, hopes, and dreams. Having people who actually want to read about those things is truly a magical gift in itself!
  2. My art. I often feel insecure in my artistic abilities. I feel like there are so many artists out there that are far more talented and definitely better trained than myself, but I LOVE art and sometimes I genuinely love the stuff I make. My art may not be top of the line, but I do think many of my creations are unique artworks that only I could make.
  3. Advocating for others like me. This kind of ties into #1 and #2, since I often use my art and my writing to advocate for others who have autism, mental illness, or chronic pain/illness. People like me are often marginalized, ignored, looked down upon, and mistreated. I want to help stop that. I want to help the world to become a kinder, more empathetic place for those who struggle.

Now that I have shared my own great works in life, why don’t you spend a little time figuring out your own? You can pick just one, or you can have several like I did. Think deeply about it and question your purpose in life. If you would like to share what you come up with in the comments on this post, I would love to hear it!