Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Stretching My Skills

Recently, I volunteered to take on another blogging project for a good friend of mine. This project will be wildly different from anything I've done before because it's going to be photography and business focused.

While I don't have a lot of experience with business blogging, I do have experience interviewing people. The first three posts I'm tasked with are "featured member" blogs for the group I'll be working with. Writing interviews will be new to me, but it's not much different from how I've blogged in the past or shared stories of conversations I've had. Some people tackle it differently, but I'm going to start the way I handle interviews for the show. Obviously, with a different focus.

The other blog posts I'll be diving into, though, are going to be more of a challenge. First, I need to work out what I'm going to talk about. A lot of it will be branding, networking, and time-management focused, I think, but there will be topics covering art, style, and industry trends in an industry I'm not active in (yet).

There are a lot of reasons behind why I'm willing to take this risk, and the biggest one is that I need to stretch myself. It's been a long time since I forced myself to write outside of my comfort zone, and as a result, I'm not really pushing the limits of what I can achieve, even in my day-to-day writing (which isn't as day-to-day as I'd like due to my crazy schedule). It's exciting for me because I don't take as many risks as I should, and while this is a "safe" risk, it's still a big risk. One I didn't even know I wanted to take until I was offered the opportunity.

Question: what's the biggest risk you've ever taken in your career? And/or to improve skills you've wanted to improve?

Giles wrote this several days in advance so that it would be ready to go today. He's tired of missing his Wednesday blog posts, and even though his schedule is crazy and way different, he doesn't want to make excuses.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Book Review: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle

I have been in love with this novel since my third grade teacher read it to us after recess every day. She did all of the voices and read with such amazing expression the story has been forever imprinted on my mind. 

Meg has always been one of my favorite literary characters. She's headstrong (almost to a fault) and completely imperfect. She has braces, a temper, and is fiercely loyal to her little brother. About the time I read this on my own, I had braces, a temper (who doesn't at 12 years old?), and was fiercely loyal to my little long as she stayed away from my stuff. I’ve always loved the faith of Meg’s little brother, Charles Wallace, as he, Meg, and their friend, Calvin, travel across time and space to try to rescue Meg and Charles Wallace’s father from the terrifying IT. Calvin’s patience and love towards both Charles Wallace and Meg, even though they aren’t technically family, is something we should all inspire to. 

I’ve always loved how the story is so straight forward. Father disappears, kids try to find him, they encounter obstacles, and, well, I won’t say how it ends. I loved how the book starts with the trope of, “It was a dark and stormy night…” but somehow, L’Engle doesn’t make it sound like a cliché. I could go on gushing for a long time.

Is there anything I didn’t like about the book? Yes. It was incredibly creepy to an eight year old. Monsters with no eyes, kidnapped parents, and a giant brain that controls everything you do, down to what you can play? *shudder* But, as an adult, I really can’t think of anything that I don’t like. 

The best part of A Wrinkle in Time? It has sequels and companion novels. If you fall in love with the story as much as I did, there is more of the world you get to discover and explore through L’Engle’s other works.

Emily is loving the fact she has time to read again. She's hoping that won't change any time soon!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Book Review: Anna and the Vampire Prince by Jeanne C. Stein

Ladies and gentlemen, the book reviews are back! New and improved and…a heck of a lot shorter than before. Why? I’m hoping with the book reviews being shorter, I can write them more easily and more frequently. So, here we go!

Anna is the Vampire Prince is an Anna Strong Vampire novella which takes place between books nine and ten in Stein’s wildly successful series. I must admit, I haven’t read any of the other novels in the Anna Strong series, but I really liked this story. Stein did a marvelous job of introducing just enough of the main character and her back story, that even a reader who is a stranger to her world won’t have trouble following along. In fact, reading this novella made me want to read her entire series. Anna is a likable “human” character who seems to live in a completely believable world. 

The story is told quickly, but is appropriately paced for a novella. It’s a classic kidnapping story whose ending then ties into the plot of her 10th novel. That being said, and this is my only criticism, I wish the kidnapping plot would have taken up more of the story. The ending, I’m sure, ties into the next novel wonderfully, but I was so wrapped up in the kidnapping story, I didn’t want it to end.

Go check out Anna and the Vampire Prince, even if you haven’t read Stein’s other novels. It’s a quick, entertaining read and you won’t be disappointed. 

The Other Emily is excited to start writing book reviews again. She hopes our listeners won't mind the shorter format and encourages them to go and read these books for themselves. She loves to have book discussions with other people!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Writing + Teaching

There is an enormous difference between saying you are going to do a thing and actually doing the thing. I've been saying for months that I was going to switch careers and become a teacher, but I've noticed recently that there is a difference between a teacher in thought and a teacher in action.

This concept isn't necessarily new for me; it's difficult to avoid after years of writers' conferences telling me that if I'm not writing, I'm not a writer. In school, you can be a "teacher" yet do little to no teaching. We've all seen or heard about it. Some teacher's names are spoken in a sort of annoyed whisper because everyone knows they are employed at the school out of habit, not because they are any good at their job.

I don't want to be one of those writers who "isn't a writer", just as I don't want to be one of those teachers who "isn't a teacher". This means working hard to stay away from easy solutions. In stressful times as these, I tend to pick the easier route. It often means putting off goals, such as when I decided to stop querying because my life was incredibly chaotic. But Giles and I have been planning an afternoon of querying, so I'm glad to say that I'm beginning to steer away from the writer's easy route*.

It's easy to jump in front of a class of students and treat the space like a giant stage for all your great ideas. The hard part is tricking the students into using things they've learned in the past and a few new tidbits of information to teach themselves. I'm excited to learn to be a better teacher; I never want to be the person whose name is attached to not trying hard enough.

Michelle didn't make anyone cry at school today. 
Oh, well. There's always tomorrow. 

*This is one of my personal goals :) If you're a writer and you're not querying, good for you. If you are querying, good for you! Everyone has a different definition of what makes them a writer. Actively querying and getting words written or edited every week happens to be mine.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Missing Episode (158): What Happened

This week on Beyond the Trope, we'd recorded and prepared to release a Get to Know Us episode. When we put together all of the audio, I (Giles) listen to the full audio, edit out longer pauses, awkward things that don't add to the show in any way (easily misconstrued and/or not funny/entertaining), and then I add in the intro and outro and hit the "Publish" button.

Somewhere between reaching the end of the audio, adding the outro tag, and hitting "Publish," I must've accidentally hit "delete," which is why, for those of you who dowloaded Episode 158 this morning already know, we had about 28 minutes of...silence.

Since we first published Episode 1, we've never missed a deadline on releasing episodes. And that's true today (we have enough audio ready to release that we won't fall behind at all), but this is the first time that we've had such a huge failure in our process. I (Giles Hash, the Production Director) take full responsibility, and hopefully we won't have anything like this happen again. Sorry for the confusion to our listeners, and please enjoy this week's interview with Jason LaPier.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Happy Labor Day!

Is it just me, or did August seem much busier than normal? I feel like this is the first day in a month that has actually been a day off. Whew!

As fall sneaks up on us, I hope we can all take some time to take a day off. It's been a rough year for a lot of people in my life, and I know many of them are simply excited for it to be the end of the year. An extra day on the weekend isn't always enough to get recharged for the following week, but it's a start. I, for one, tend to get stuck in go go go  mode and forget to chill. So, I'm taking today to do things that make me happy.

I don't know if you're going to be working, hanging out with friends, or sitting on the couch reading a book, but whatever you do today, I hope it's something that makes you happy.

Happy Labor Day!

Michelle started teaching a few weeks ago, and she keeps having dreams about being in front of a classroom speaking French to her English students.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Preparing for Fall

How the heck is it September already? Does anyone else feel like this year has just flown by? That being said, I'm super ready for Autumn. Fall in Colorado is the best. Sweaters and apple cider and pumpkins and that lovely fallen-leaves smell. And, beside of not, weather that doesn't make you want to melt.

It's the perfect season for curling up with a kitty and a good book, and I can't wait. I haven't narrowed down what I want to read just yet, but my shelves have a lot of good suggestions. Maybe I'll re-read some of my favorite comics, or prepare for the new Good Omens mini-series with a re-read of that. Or maybe I'll finally work my way through one of the many series that have been recommended to me and kept falling down my TBR list. Maybe I'll just keep bingeing on fan fiction. Who knows?

Emer apologizes for the short post, but she's exhausted from trying to wrangle her new kitty at all hours of the night. She's hoping to have a little more energy by the RMFW conference next weekend, where she's planning on hanging out in the bar/lobby area and working on her fanfic.