December 2019: "The 24 Nights Before Christmas" by Rachel S. Bell

Summary (Warning: Mild Spoilers):

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the holidays? Have you ever wanted to take some time to give yourself the greatest gift of all: self-improvement? In “The 24 Nights Before Christmas” Rachel S. Bell takes us on a journey through anecdotes, religious references, and therapeutic thought exercises with each day leading up to Christmas Eve, December 24.

As a brief example of the topics covered she approaches:
-Self Worth and Intrinsic Value
-Goal Setting
-Forgiveness
-Fulfilling Dreams
-Finding Your Purpose
-The Importance of Friendship
-How Nerd References Are the Best Things Ever And Applicable to Everything
-Motivation

Each day has exercises designed for prayer or for those less inclined for that style method.

My Overall Response:

If you are a Christian, or Unitarian, or a spiritualist of any walk of life that respects good advice regardless of the source, this is a great workbook. I have a friend from high school that knew from an early age that he was called to serve his church and I recommended this book to him to consider for a future workshop.

As a non-Christian, I was thrilled with the exercises and found myself laughing at the funny anecdotes. I constantly connected with the author’s life experiences and the exercises she created. The Bible passages selected were helpful and not the kind of scripture that can be used out of context in a harmful manner. I’m reminded of a phrase I saw a while back:

“Be humble enough to recognize and accept good advice regardless of its source…” ~ Allos of Mr. Lakusu Facebook

I’m not going to quote random Facebook groups at you in these responses.

My point is that Rachel S. Bell created a book primarily for Christian readers that can still reach beyond and touch so many more. I loved it and can’t wait to pass this book along. I highly recommend anyone pick up a copy if you find yourself struggling in dark places.

LGBTQA Friendly?
Not a topic approached in the book. Does not impact the reviewer’s recommendation.

Grammar:
Fantastic grammar. The author is gifted with words.

Did This Book Bring Holiday Cheer?
Absolutely! This book brought levity to some heavy topics that have a tendency to come up around the holidays. That’s quite a hefty task. Bravo!

Want to know more about the author?
You can visit Rachel S. Bell’s website here and purchase your own copy of The 24 Nights Before Christmas here. She’s fairly private and not active on Twitter. I politely request that you respect the author’s privacy and instead show her books all of the love they very clearly deserve.

Announcements January 2020

A Couple Quick Announcements:


1. In addition to book reviews, I will begin featuring a couple author interviews each month. These will not be posted concurrently with the author’s books. I have a standard set of questions, but the answers are pretty open ended. This is a chance for authors to talk about their writing process, talk about the publication process, and really help inform other indie authors about their journey.

2. I am gauging interest in arranging a Writing Retreat for Summer 2020 to be held at Symes Hot Springs in Hot Springs, MT. This would be up to 4 days over a weekend, be family friendly, and allow for a couple writing workshops to share techniques (2-3). The town of Hot Springs is quirky, near Glacier National Park, and a fun place to stop off on a family road trip for a long weekend. If you would be interested in hosting a workshop, please email a 100-500 word outline (no longer than 1 hour time estimate) to lopotterwrites@gmail.com with the subject: Some Like It Hot

As an example, the workshop I have written focuses on using unique objects to inspire stories and overcome writers block.

3. My husband and I are moving to Boston, Massachusetts in Autumn 2020! This is a big change for us, and will mean that I will be more readily available for having in person meetings with authors in the greater Boston area and the Northeast. Once we have moved, I will be setting up a P.O. Box. More details to come.

4. This year I am focusing a lot more on pushing myself toward further publication of short stories and hope to complete at least one of my manuscripts. I did announce my New Years Resolutions for 2020 as:
-52 Short Stories in 52 Weeks (drafts)
-1 completed draft WIP (I have 3 projects currently going)
-General Self Improvement (rephrase: get closer to being someone I want to be for myself…)

5. Backlog – There’s a bit of a backlog of updating for 3 reviews I need to write. One of these reviews is “bad” – it is the remaining review from November 2019. That should make it really obvious. This has caused me to be all kinds of frustrated. I struggled to finish this book and it will be my first 2-star review. I spent $27 on this book. I’m never buying a book by NYT Best Sellers “For A Comparison Review” again. Indie authors are so much better. I’m working on getting caught up – I promise.

I’ve been the Editor in Chief of a Literary Magazine before, and I know that I don’t want to do that again, at least not for a long time. I’d rather be writing and helping others write. I’d rather be beta reading. After an extended hiatus from creative writing, I am here again under a new name. Also – if anyone is able to find my previous book and pen name, I will give them a prize for being the best internet stalker ever.

Let’s make 2020 the best year yet. Remember, Hindsight is 2020.

Love,
Lo

Upcoming Reviews January 2020

Happy New Year and Welcome to 2020! We have an exciting selection of books this month. There was a last minute substitution due to a change in how I review poetry. This means that I will be examining the works found in Reflections by Sean Haughton later in the year.

Guided by the Ghosts” by Sean Haughton (Live Tweet Review; Full Review)

Emma’s Fury” by Linda Rainier (Live Tweet Review; Full Review; Author Interview)

Mornnovin” by Alyssa Marie Bethancourt (Live Tweet Review; Full Review Coming Soon; Author Interview)

The Engineer” by Darran M. Handshaw (Live Tweet Review; Full Review Coming Soon)

Requirements for submission:

  • Print Edition Must Be Available (preferably paperback)
  • Under $20 (USD) – I buy your book like everyone else!

You must respond to either one of my calls on Twitter for new books to read in the upcoming month (the 15th of each month unless there are no available spots in the upcoming month – February and March have no upcoming availability, so the next Twitter call will be on March 15th)

OR

You can send me an e-mail with the subject line: Only a Hippopotamus Will Do (e-mails not including this subject will be ignored)

In this e-mail include:

  • a link to where I can purchase your book.
  • a brief introduction to yourself
  • a link to your Twitter and/or personal website (if applicable).

IF you are interested in sending me a copy of your book, please send me an e-mail with the subject line: The Buffalo Seem Fine to Me 

December 2019: “Boomer’s Criss-Cross Christmas” by Miriam Van Scott

Summary (Warning: Mild Spoilers):
Boomer the kangaroo takes us on a global journey through Christmas traditions on every continent on a hunt to understand what Christmas is. Through this representation of cultures and traditions around the world Boomer brings some of that Christmas magic into you and your child’s heart.

My Overall Response:
Can someone die of cuteness? Die of warm fuzzies? If you need to feel your heart expand and you want to help give your kid a sense of adventure while at the same time fill them with a sense of magic this is probably the book for them. This is a feel good book and in the depths of holiday stress this is exactly what kids and adults alike need.

LGBTQA Friendly?
No representation in this book. Does not impact reviewer’s recommendation.

Grammar:
The grammar is easy to understand for children and easy to read aloud.

Did this story bring holiday cheer?
YES – Additionally, I felt included as a non-Christian. This means a lot to me in a way I’m struggling to put into words other than Thank You.

Want to know more about the author?
To learn more about the author please visit her website at http://www.miriamvanscott.com/ or her Twitter account.

Want to know more about the illustrator?
The illustrator is Bethany Van Scott. I’m unable to find much information on them at this time and will update in the future if that changes!

I wish I knew more about the illustrator because I love these illustrations! The colors, shapes, lines, and presentations are brilliant. I would love to know how to contact them for future opportunities. I love their style.

Anecdotes

Occasionally, I may post these, and I’m sure you’ll be happy to ignore them. These are random anecdotes I find while sifting through my “evidence” that I have decided I am not going to use for writing. Who knows, maybe you’ll get a laugh? Let me know if you like it.

Random Anecdote #1

I used to be friends with a bunch of kids in high school who used to all get high in order to eat because they were on stimulants either by choice or not. I remember sitting in the back of my friend’s car on our way to IHOP. For some reason, at this time I was their weird sober friend. The one that never asked for the pipe, but I should have recognized what hotboxing was by that point. While I wasn’t on stimulants, I did have undiagnosed celiac disease. Let’s just say I was also the friend that always wanted to go home early before the second round happened. A dutch oven is not a hot box.

2 Perspectives: 1 Event – an examination of 2 poems by Joy Nibbs

In Joy Nibb’s “Ramblings” she presents two poems side-by-side ‘A Vendor’s Complaint’ and ‘The Market’. These two poems, while they can stand alone, are best read together as they provide contrasting perspectives of the value of goods in a marketplace and contrasting value judgements of the people present therein.

In ‘A Vendor’s Complaint’ we hear a salesperson making their argument against bartering, their prices low enough,’

For six cents and not a nickel more…

With the denomination of currency cared about being a nickel, not the penny they so willingly drop to make a sale.

...”Just a nickel and this lovely bunch could be yours”…

The vendor complains about those too poor to buy, and how they provide free rice. How the poor and begging people break them down as they struggle under their debt to make their own ends meet, but they still end up finding a way to give more and more. The vendor speaks of children returning to no home and starving in the night. These people that they give to, that they try to get service in return to make it a fair trade.

The vendor then compares themselves to the beggars by doing this work in exchange for a fair trade in exchange for God to provide them with entrance to heaven once they die. The vendor believes that this trade should make them favored. It could be argued that this negates the acts because these are not acts of selflessness and instead are acts of trying to win favor.

By comparison, in ‘The Market’ we are introduced to one of the beggars, a starving child, Little Timmy, that runs to the stall and steals one of the vendor’s tomatoes. We observe that the market goers argue over that one cent difference of five cents versus six. The vendor is no longer as selfless as they view themselves, but neither are the patrons – they are rude, bickering, griping, snapping. Each arguing over what is “fair”.

A tomato stealthily slides off of the stall, almost unnoticed. The vendor shouts, “Thief!” angrily. The child dashes away, eating the tomato as quickly as he can and makes it away this time. This is all that child eats today. There’s an emphasis that this is survival of another day – there is no end game besides the day to day. As he returns to a cold alley, alone, nothing is left behind. Once the market empties, even after that tomato was consumed as a lost profit to the vendor, the market looks the same, but that child is still hungry, still cold, and still alone.

Yet, the last three lines leave the reader with the enigma that is the abstract concept of fairness.

A profit lost
A profit gained
In the market, it’s all just the same

What do you think? Did you enjoy reading about these poems? Would you like to see more poetry discussion? Feel free to leave a comment!

December 2019: Holiday Theme

This is the first month I am doing a theme, and since it is December and Christmas is culturally huge in the United States, I decided to choose the theme of Holidays.

As a note: I’m not Christian. I am fascinated by Christian mythology and think it has huge impacts on our modern society as well as the development of Western philosophies. I’m not going to be judging stories based on theological accuracy. The values I associate with the modern Christmas/Holiday mythos are:

  • Defying the odds and overcoming adversity
  • Family and the love shared between family (both chosen and by blood relation)
  • Revelations of gratitude
  • A chance for magic to cross over into reality in the Northern Hemisphere during the extended darkness and shorter days
  • A chance for late night summer adventures with a midsummer magic like feel in the Southern Hemisphere
    • GLOWWORMS!!! (I’m a nut about them. Feel free to tease me in the comments below)
  • Crazy Weather Adventures – this applies to everyone, everywhere.

Our December 2019 Books include:

January’s books are already set and I am excited to share that I will be doing my first author interview! You will also see poetry discussion posts more often – if there’s an indie poet and/or particular poem you’d like to see, please send me a quick email with the suggestion.

February’s themes are Romance, Relationships, and Anti-romance if you would like to submit your book to this or any of the other months please follow the instructions below. The theme calendar can be found here.

Requirements for submission:

  • Print Edition Must Be Available (preferably paperback)
  • Under $20 (USD) – I buy your book like everyone else!

You must respond to either one of my calls on Twitter for new books to read in the upcoming month (the 15th of each month unless there are no available spots in the upcoming month – January has no upcoming availability, so the next Twitter call will be on January 15th)

OR

You can send me an e-mail with the subject line: Only a Hippopotamus Will Do (e-mails not including this subject will be ignored)

In this e-mail include:

  • a link to where I can purchase your book.
  • a brief introduction to yourself
  • a link to your Twitter and/or personal website (if applicable).

IF you are interested in sending me a copy of your book, please send me an e-mail with the subject line: The Buffalo Seem Fine to Me 

I will respond to each inquiry on a case-by-case basis because I have not yet set up a Post Box and am currently sharing a UPS locker on an as needed only basis. I hope to have a Post Box set up by early 2020. Once this is set up I will be posting it publicly and will be open to unsolicited and anonymous manuscript submissions.

I hope everyone has very Happy Holidays filled with joy, laughter, and celebrations. I understand that the holidays are stressful, so I will be making several smaller posts and trying to make this month into January as low stress and light hearted as possible.