Free Reviews for Indie Children’s Authors

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Lately I’ve missed reviewing children’s 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 children’s 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.

Here are the specifics if you are interested:

  • I DO require a physical copy of the book. Partly because I am not big on 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.

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 children’s author who would be interested, please share the link to this post!

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Instagram – People Who Try Too Hard to Be Sexy and Cool

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When I joined Instagram a little while back, I originally started out trying to follow back everyone who followed me. My thinking was simple, if you are kind enough to support me, I want to support you. I still follow back many of my followers, but there are a couple kinds of profiles I have stopped following – those who ONLY post photos of themselves trying to look “cool” or “sexy”.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with trying to take an occasional photo of yourself in a funny “aren’t I so cool” pose, or showing off your sexy side…but when EVERY SINGLE PHOTO on your account is you in shiny sunglasses trying to look macho or “hot”, closeups of your thighs and butt, or your face pinched into pouty expressions, that just shouts fakeness to me.

I want to follow people who are real. I love following artists, other creative types, people who are passionate about their hobbies, inspiring people who are honest about their personal struggles, or people who share fun pics of their family, pets, and everyday activities. Am I the only one that has an aversion to the overly narcissistic, seemingly self-obsessed multitudes on social media?

Helpful Tips for Fellow Depression & Chronic Pain Sufferers

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Hello everyone! Lately I have implemented a few things into my life that I do feel are helping my depression and chronic pain symptoms, at least to an extent. No, I am not cured, and I still have some really bad days, but I feel like these small changes have been for the better, so I wanted to share:

  • My psychiatrist has been trying to get me to take Omega-3 supplements for months now, and I finally decided to make sure I actually take them on a regular basis. I have been trying to take 2 supplement pills a day, one in the morning and one at night. It is supposed to be really good for depression and inflammation, so it is worth a try. I don’t like the taste or how huge the pills are to swallow, but I am making it work anyways.
  • I have read multiple places that people with fibromyalgia are almost always lacking in Magnesium when tested, so I started taking a daily supplement of that as well. I do think it has lessened the severity of the body aches and cramps I experience on a daily basis.  I also started taking a Vitamin C supplement in hopes it will help boost my immune system and prevent some of the chronic ear infections I have. I am trying to eat healthier, more natural foods too.
  • I have started practicing mediation on a regular basis again. I try to take at least a few minutes most days to meditate, focus on positivity, and allow the spiritual side of myself to shine. My husband and I have also been attending a once-a-week meditation group when we are able to. Having that time to connect with others on their own spiritual paths has been helpful. They all seem to be very open-minded and open-hearted individuals, which are the kind of people I would like to have in my life more.
  • Lately I have renewed my dedication to my own creative process and have felt inspired to create art again, something I have definitely been missing in my life. I simply feel better when I can create beautiful or unusual artwork, even if others don’t always understand it. Honestly, I create for ME. Yes, I sell my artwork and it fills my heart with joy to know that others appreciate and collect my efforts, but deep down, I create simply because I need to express myself.
  • Make it a priority to spend time with nature. Whether it is going to a park, hiking through the woods, sitting on a swing outside your own front door, or bringing plants, animals (pets), crystals, and other natural objects into your home, reconnecting with nature always seems to be healing and comforting for myself. Maybe it will be so for you as well.

Dysfunctional Family: My Mom Married My High School Friend

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Ok, so in the past I already wrote a more serious post about the trauma I experienced when my mom ended up marrying the first guy I ever brought home (read it here). He was a friend of mine, two years older, going to the same high school. They got married on his 18th birthday, so there I was, 15-16, going to school WITH my new “step-dad”.

Yesterday, while my husband and I were out driving, I talked about how isolated I feel in dealing with the after-effects of this whole ordeal. I can find plenty of people who have experienced other things I have gone through or live with (autism, bipolar, chronic pain/illness, loss of a sibling to suicide, loss of a parent at a young age, physical and emotional abuse, etc.), but I have never ONCE found someone who understands the public humiliation and the just outright fucked-up-ness of their parent MARRYING a friend that they go to high school with (and even considered dating at one time)!

Maybe I would have to visit the Jerry Springer show to find something similar. I feel like no one understands how this whole event derailed my life severely at the time. I went from being a straight A, college bound honor student, to skipping school more than I went, and not caring about much of anything. It was a horrible time in my life. To make matters worse, when my mom’s messed up marriage finally blew up, it was shortly after I got married (at the age of 20), and since she had no resources of her own, I felt like I had to take her in, which was not an easy decision for a newlywed to make, especially given the messed up history between my mom and me.

I’m not sharing all this to look for pity, but more in the hopes that maybe someone, somewhere, has gone through something similar and could make me feel less alone. I think this whole ordeal made me feel like a real freak at the time it happened, and never finding anyone who could relate only reinforced that feeling.

*By the way, if you are looking for online therapy options, BetterHelp is a great place to start!

You Can Now Support My Blog Via PayPal if You Wish :)

I finally figured out how to set up a PayPal link here on WordPress! Please excuse my technological shortcomings, I’m not exactly the most efficient coder or anything like that.

Anyhow, if anyone would like to support my blog efforts, you can now donate any amount directly to my PayPal:

You can also access this PayPal link at any time on my website sidebar and the “Support My Blog” page.

I don’t expect a lot of donations, but if anyone does wish to help out it is definitely appreciated! Any money donated will most likely be applied to website maintenance fees (domain registration, WordPress account upgrades, etc.) If donations ever started regularly coming in, I would likely also try to invest in some advertising for the blog or use it for computer maintenance/repairs and stuff like that.

My Poor Husband…

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Sometimes I feel truly sorry for my husband. From what I have read and been told by psychologists and psychiatrists, he has a rough road to travel. Asperger’s can be extremely hard on intimate relationships. Bipolar can be extremely hard on intimate relationships. Long-term chronic pain and chronic illness can be extremely hard on intimate relationships. PTSD can be extremely hard on intimate relationships. And my poor husband has to deal with them all on a daily basis…

Of course, when we married fifteen years ago, I didn’t know I had any of these conditions or that I would develop some of the others. I did already have chronic foot pain and issues with depression and anxiety, but nowhere near as bad as I have them now. Nor did I have a true understanding of what was causing the symptoms I sometimes experienced, whether they be mental or physical. I wish I could have warned him, but I simply didn’t know myself.

On the positive side, he has definitely been a trooper. He always steps up to the plate and is there for me and willing to do anything he needs to do to take care of me and help me through the confusing mess that is my mind and my body. If anyone in this world has shown me the meaning of true love, it is him. And I am thankful.

*By the way, for great advice about marriage counseling, check out this article from BetterHelp!

“Love, Simon” Movie Review

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Today my husband and I went to see the new movie “Love, Simon”. I love reading YA novels and have always enjoyed teen movies as well, so I was excited to go see this one. I thought the premise of a teen hiding his gay sexuality from his friends, family, and school was a realistic one that likely has occurred many times in our culture. Perhaps it is getting easier to come out now than it was back when I was in high school or before that, but it is still hard for many young people to come clean about such an intimate and often maligned subject. Especially if you fear your family and friends will not accept you after the admission.

In “Love, Simon”, the main character (Simon, of course) DOES have supportive, open-minded family members and friends, but he is still afraid to come out of the closet. Perhaps this is because of the bullying he sees go on at school, pointed towards another kid who is openly gay. Or it could be that even though he knows his parents and friends will accept him, he just isn’t prepared for the social pressure and discomfort that often accompanies such a declaration. I think that even though Simon knows his family is loving and liberal, he may have a smidgen of doubt that his father would be happy, since he often makes jokes about girls with his only son.

I won’t ruin the whole plot for you, just know that there is a lot of friend drama, some blackmail, more than one romantic subplot, and a lot of the teen angst you would expect from a movie like this. The movie has a great sense of humor and addresses the subject of sexuality frankly and with many quips. I loved how Simon as a character was just your normal, average kind of guy, and not some kind of “gay stereotype” (other than Simon being in a school musical, but then again, many of the straight kids in the movie were in the musical too, so it didn’t seem to be meant as some sort of sexual stereotype).

Overall, the movie was sweet and uplifting. I saw my husband actually tear up at one point, but I rarely ever tear up at movies, so it didn’t do it for me this time either. It was definitely worth the time to see it though, and the teens seated all around me seemed to be in love with the movie.

Almost 500 Followers! And My PO Box Info!

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I’m only 2 away from 500 blog followers! That is so cool and makes me really happy! I am always astonished to see that many people who care about what I have to say and who enjoy my art!

By the way, in case any of you were unaware, I do actually have a PO Box which I originally set up for my YouTube channels, but if anyone who reads my blog wishes to send me a note, letter, fan art, supportive donations, a book or other product to consider featuring on my blog, etc., you can send it to me at:

Maranda Russell
PO Box 14
Englewood, OH 45322

Please keep in mind that if you do send a book or product for consideration, I am most likely to feature ones that go along with the themes of my blog (art, writing, mental health/mental illness, chronic illness/pain, autism, etc). I am also a sucker for anything sweet (like candy) or cute and fluffy lol.

If you send something you DO NOT want featured on the blog or you wish to remain anonymous, make sure to let me know by enclosing a note expressing your wishes. I will be adding the pertinent information on this post to a separate blog page so that it will be easy to locate in the future if anyone wants to support this blog in that way.

Just a Big, Black Hole

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The last couple days have been rough. You ever felt like you were a giant black hole of emptiness and need that sucks the joy and positivity out of everyone and everything around you? If not, you are lucky. If you can relate, I’m really sorry to hear that because it is a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad feeling. Luckily, I do have a loving, compassionate husband who was there for me to hold me and make me feel loved even when I feel the most unlovable. I also have good online friends who are always willing to lend an ear when I need to vent or get something off my chest, and that means the world to me (you probably know who you are if you are reading this).

Today is pretty nasty weather-wise, so we might be snowed in a day or two if we get as much snow and ice as predicted. Luckily, I am feeling a bit better mentally and am just enjoying watching the snow fall while my kitty cats cuddle around me and my husband watches Star Trek. I hope you all have a great weekend! Thanks for putting up with me!

* Art by Maranda Russell