Saturday, July 22, 2017

Anticipated Release: Locke and Keye

Although I love reading, I’m not one to be eagerly anticipating books that aren’t from the Wizarding World with some very rare exceptions. Normally I read things that have been published a couple of years or a couple of decades because I’m rarely one for partaking in the hype of a book. But like I said, there are exceptions.

Enter Locke and Keye by Christie Stratos, the 2nd book in the Dark Victoriana collection and I can only say one thing:

I’m pumped.

Back in 2016, I read Anatomy of a Darkened Heart in March and was blown away by what has become not only my favorite indie book, but one of my favorite books, period. If you want some detailed insights into this work, here’s my review

Lock and Keye shall be a standalone novel within the Dark Victoriana Collection that will lead readers in a whole new psychological direction while expanding familiar characters and scenes to continue the Whitestone legacy. 

"Brothers in the art of keeping secrets." This is the mantra Mr. Locke's carefully chosen five employees must repeat together every day before starting work. These talented locksmiths can make a new lock and key set for you. They can even make a special padlock for a diary you never want to share with anyone. But just remember: when they make the lock, they keep a key—and it's only a matter of time until they use it. So how does this brotherhood and the town's secrets interlock? Only Mr. Locke holds the key.

The second book in the Dark Victoriana collection promises to offer more of the quality of writing and tense atmosphere that characterizes Stratos’s work. It shall be available on September 7, 2017 but you can Pre-order today, and I already did.

* * *

If you want to know more about the author, here’s a brief bio:

Christie Stratos is an award-winning writer who holds a degree in English Literature. She is the author of Anatomy of a Darkened Heart and Locke and Keye, the first two books in the Dark Victoriana Collection. Christie has had short stories and poetry published in Ginosko Literary Journal, Andromedae Review, 99Fiction, and various anthologies. An avid reader of all genres and world literature, Christie reads everything from bestsellers to classics to indies.

I’ve known Christie for a while now and she also has some great things to share on all her social media channels, always finding and sharing ample amounts of inspiration. She’s also always up for talking all things bookish related. She’s even getting a newsletter you can sign up for here!

So there you go, dear frands. If you were wondering what was my most anticipated read of 2017, wonder no longer, and if you want to buddy read, I’ll be your Huckleberry.

Peace, love, and happy reading.

* * *

Ps: Here are Christie’s links if you’d like to connect with her (tell her I sent ya).

Social media links:

Monday, July 17, 2017

Taking a Stance Value #6: Curbing your offendedness

Things come into and go out of fashion rather quickly during these fast-food times, but boy is it becoming ever prevalent to get offended at EVERYTHING.

Sure, there are things that offend and rightfully so, but there are people who get offended by any and everything, who can’t take a joke, who demand political correctness in every single context and focus on what’s proper more often than what’s correct. Their opinion has to be paramount and damned be anyone else, because THEY. ARE. OFFENDED.

The main problem with this attitude is that people DEMAND that they’re point of view prevail, and unfortunately, this is Planet Earth. People using the sabre of morality to demand justice is as much a farce as their concern for what is right.

“But it’s the children! The children will be the ones who suffer. C-H-I-L DREN.”

Last I checked, I was exposed to Looney Tunes characters who shot themselves, saw homo-erotic moments shared between Ren & Stimpy (latter cartoons were as in your face as it got), I read Mark Twain books with the word nigger in those editions and you want to know what’s the most fascinating thing? Some people are still reeling from me using the N-word in the previous sentence.

To be blunt: Grow up.

I’m not saying that pejorative language is correct, proper, or should be promoted, but getting offended and doing NOTHING about treatment that is as bad as using the word is worth absolutely NOTHING as well.

To make matters worse, people jump the gun to get offended… they want to be heard. OMG. That’s SO offensive. Did you see that? That’s offensive. That’s SO offensive. And what strikes me as peculiar is that people often don’t even ask why something is offensive. They don’t question their motives for being offended, they’re just offended.

Then comes the double standard of getting offended, where it seems only one side of the equation has the right to get offended. They are reserved the right to get offended and get offended they will, because they felt uncomfortable.

And THERE’S the point. One has to learn to discern between being offended and being uncomfortable. Both words may have some sort of relationship, but to offend someone, and I mean REALLY offend someone, you have to cross some serious lines. This isn’t something that should happen every week, every day, every hour, or every minute.

Yet it happens. People who are offended by everything. They don’t do anything about it, they just get on their social media soapbox and bitch.

And boy are they good at bitching.

It’s almost an art form.

The Whine Time.

And heaven forbid you disagree with them. Because that’s when tones do not remain low and instead escalate to a point where you CAN offend someone. People often demand respect, but they’re not as generous when it comes to giving it.

“You have to understand where I’m coming from. I didn’t mean it that way. You're taking my words and twisting them.”

On and on and on and it’s amazing to see how they detest being on the other side of the coin. It’s not a pleasant lesson but it is a necessary one.

Speak with respect and you will have a better chance of being respected. Speak with a sense of elitism, or entitlement, doused in an air of superiority and you will ask for trouble or you will be called on your hypocrisy.

We are losing our ability to communicate at the same time we're losing our sense of humor. We are replacing one with volume and the other with a warped sense of righteousness, and to be honest, it’s lame. So next time you’re offended by someone, rather than kneejerk-spit a fireball of offendedness, think before you speak.

It’ll save time in our lives and data on your phone bill.

Peace, love, and maki rolls.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Defeating Time Bandits (A post about Time Management NOT the movie)

If you love 80’s movies, you might love Time Bandits. I sure do. But I don’t love things that steal my time, you know, the crappy bandits of time. Time is the one commodity that once it passes it’s gone. You can melt gold from jewelry, you might get better growth from pastures if you tend to them and care for them, but time? It is fragile as they come… and easily squandered.

So how do you make the best use of time?

Well firstly, I’m not the best person to ask all the time. Sure, I might be productive, I might at times have frightening stamina (which can and DOES run out), I might get a lot done in a little time, but sometimes I misuse time… I squander it. And when I see what I could have done, it doesn’t feel all too stellar.

Although there are many tips I can offer to address this, I shall focus on one for the moment: identify the bandits of time.

What steals your time? What app is fracturing your attention? What game is keeping you from your goals? What adventures in multi-tasking has you progressing in a way but coming up short?

For me, there are a couple of apps plus ALL the things I want to do. The difference between winging it and organizing myself is staggering. Last week, I had several to-dos, but I didn’t dedicate time, my list was more creative than strict, and I was distracted by bodyboarding competitions, apps, life, and tons of things.

This happens and the first thing we need to do is to be OK with it happening from time to time but without losing focus or giving ourselves all the slack in the world. It’s all about balance and time has a way of flying away from us. That’s why today, my list was a definitive list. It had allotted time to it. It had order. It had structure and it looked formal enough to force me to commit to tackling it. 11 items, plus the day job… and I got it all done. Bit by bit. Steady as she goes. Wasn’t a writer sprint. Wasn’t pushing through an avalanche, it was staying steady, keeping the list nearby, making time, and STICKING to that time. I have 10 minutes? That’s it. If I don’t complete, I leave until tomorrow as punishment.

Now here’s an interesting thing to note. This approach doesn’t always work. Think of it like a sprain or a headache. Sometimes an ice pack helps. Sometimes it’s sleep. Sometimes it’s even getting the right tisane or tea for the job. Inspiration, to do lists, and writing is much the same. It’s an ever evolving challenge and you have to constantly find new ways of facing those challenges and going for it. That’s because sometimes you need to freshen things up and try something new. Too often people focus on tried and true methods and they get painted into a corner.

Don’t fall into that trap. Be creative. Be adventurous. See what works for you. Give yourself tough love. Give yourself tough attitudes. Be accountable. Be whatever the day or week needs you to be but always focus on finding ways to keep going forwards.

For me, it’s all about keeping the phone away and focusing on the task at hand. I did what I wanted to do… and that creates momentum. So here’s to tomorrow. To visualizing that list, to seeing those lines come from your pen or keyboard, and for those other lines to go across each one of those items.

Peace, love, and maki rolls.