Countdown to a New Year, December 22: CB Lee

Countdown to a New Year, December 22: CB Lee

From December 20 through December 31, Binge on Books will be hosting a series of posts each day counting down to the new year. Joined by authors, publishers, and fellow bloggers, this series will focus on takeaways from 2017 and what we can look forward to in 2018. Think the biggest, longest, most book-filled reflection of the past year and the hopes and dreams for the new one all wrapped into one: that’s Binge on Books’ Countdown to a New Year. Come see what your favorite members of the book world have to say about the past year and what’s up next for them in the year to come!

**Plus every day in the countdown will feature prize packs of ARCs and book giveaways plus a final BIG giveaway of a Kindle Fire! Enter every day for a chance to win!**

2017 seems to at once have passed by in the blink of an eye and also to have dragged on, day by day, at a snail’s pace. Much of this is due to how I’ve woken up each morning to some new horror enacted by those in power and the fear that everyday, things are getting worse.

And yet this year I also saw everyday people who spoke out against injustice, people who took comfort in each other and what brings them joy, people who encouraged others to take care of themselves, people who looked after one another.

The book community is an amazing one– readers and writers and bloggers and people in publishing and people creating endlessly and the feeling of excitement and support and hope for things to get better– in publishing and in our world at large. It is in books and in this community that has gotten me through 2017 and gives me strength for 2018 and beyond.

A few things that helped me this year and I hope helps you:

Do something everyday that brings you joy. Whether it’s eating your favorite candy or rereading a favorite book, or even sitting and doing nothing for awhile. For the longest time I would always guilt myself about how little I’d gotten done that day, or how behind I am in my work or that I don’t need this extra piece of chocolate. I would also feel guilty about celebrating any achievements or accomplishments, especially in this year of bleak news, but it is so easy to get burnt out in the day-to-day barrage of calling reps and trying to navigate the day that celebrating any joy and sharing it can brighten not just your day, but a friend or a stranger’s.  I love seeing moments of joy in others, too, and definitely seeing amazing book news for friends have brightened my day so many times this year.

You don’t have to do it alone. One of the hardest things to do is to ask for help. For me, I know I am that worst at this, because I always thought it was a mark of personal failure if you didn’t know how to do something or couldn’t figure it out on your own. But whatever endeavor you’re going through, whether it’s writing a book or trying to tell a friend something important, asking someone for help or even just chatting about what you’re going through can be a huge support.

Turn mountains into molehills. One of the biggest things I learned while writing novels is that setting out to do one can be a huge, daunting task. “Just write a book,” I’ll tell myself, and it seems like this massive undertaking– and it is. But setting a huge goal like that can make it difficult to even start; what I’ve learned is that setting small goals like “write a romantic scene” or “write a discovery scene” or “let’s do some backstory on Emma here” are tasks that are bite-size and a clear sense of when you’ve accomplished them.  

Wishing you all the best in 2018!


CB Lee is a hiking enthusiast and the author of Not Your Sidekick and Not Your Villain. She likes cozy socks and you can find her on twitter at @author_cblee, Instagram at @cblee_cblee or visit her at http://cb-lee.com.


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Countdown to a New Year, December 20: Megan Erickson

Countdown to a New Year, December 20: Megan Erickson

From December 20 through December 31, Binge on Books will be hosting a series of posts each day counting down to the new year. Joined by authors, publishers, and fellow bloggers, this series will focus on takeaways from 2017 and what we can look forward to in 2018. Think the biggest, longest, most book-filled reflection of the past year and the hopes and dreams for the new one all wrapped into one: that’s Binge on Books’ Countdown to a New Year. Come see what your favorite members of the book world have to say about the past year and what’s up next for them in the year to come!

**Plus every day in the countdown will feature prize packs of ARCs and book giveaways plus a final BIG giveaway of a Kindle Fire! Enter every day for a chance to win!**

Goals (not resolutions!) for 2018

I don’t really make New Year’s resolutions, mainly because it feels so…set in stone. The definition of resolution is the firm decision to do or not do something. And as soon as someone tells me to do something or not to do something, I balk. Because I’m immature. To me a resolution is like lobbing a life preserver into the sea and asking me to swim to it. If I don’t make it, I drown. Since I hate swimming, this is altogether a terrible and daunting thing.

Goals on the other hand—are much less intimidating. Rather than asking me to swim or I drown, goals are like little life preservers on the way to dry land where I can rest before moving on. To me, success is 75% mentality, so even the act of giving myself goals rather than resolutions is a huge help.

So, with that said, I figured I’d lay out some goals I have for 2018. It’s a little scary because now you all are reading these and will know if I fail, but oh well. Maybe I just rested longer on a life preserver than I was supposed to. I’ll make it to land eventually!

1) Be more active. This job is so sedentary. I sit in my bed, or at my desk, or on the couch and write. Sometimes I mix it up and go to Starbucks. But either way, I’m on my butt and I’m not moving. It’s not healthy. This Christmas, my husband and I are treating ourselves to a treadmill, so that’s going to be step one in taking better care of myself. Step two is finally making those doctor appointments I’ve been putting off. Baby steps!

2) Slow down. These past couple of years, I set myself up with back-to-back deadlines. At first, I loved it. But by mid-year in 2017, I was burnt out. I’ve been taking time off now and my mental health is so much better for it. So I’m making sure I don’t schedule myself out of a happy life in the future.

3) Get back to enjoying promotion. I used to love to promote my books! It was one of my favorite things. Lately, it’s felt like a chore. So my goal for 2018 is to get back to enjoying it. Treat every book differently and come up with a unique way to promote it rather than fall back on the same thing over and over. First up is Zero Hour, which releases the end of January, and is about a team of hackers. I’m going to do a live-tweet re-watch of the movie Hackers, because that movie is ridiculously fun. There’s no way that will feel like a chore.

4) Clean my house. Honestly my house is a disaster because I’m a disaster. I need to get it organized so that my brain feels clearer. I’m going to set up a nice little schedule for myself so it seems less daunting. I can do this!

5) Call my friends (okay maybe text). Our lives are busy. We have kids and jobs and all of that, but I can’t let that get in the way of my valued friendships. They matter and enrich my life.

6) Set nights aside for my kids. I spend a lot of time after they get home from school and in the evening on my computer and I need to stop. Put down the laptop. Social media can wait. Emails can wait. Focus on my kids and give them more attention. Also I’m tired of listening to them watch toy unboxing videos on YouTube.

7) Speaking of social media… cool it. I need to spend less time on social media. It’s not even that I’m posting a lot. I’m reading my Twitter feed and checking my FB timeline. This is not necessary! Half the time, it raises my blood pressure. I want to be clued in to what’s going on in the world, but I don’t need to be plugged in 24/7. I would like to set aside several working hours while the kids are at school where I close out of all social media and focus on getting my daily word count. Maybe on my treadmill desk, haha.

8) Pet my cats more. I actually have zero problems with this and pet my cats a lot, but they deserve it because they are soft and improve the quality of my life 100%. So yeah, extra cuddles in 2018.

9) Keep records of my expenses as I go so it’s not such a big task at tax time. I actually am not sure I will do this, but hey it’s a goal.

10) Be happy. If I feel myself slipping into an anxious hole, seek help immediately, reach out to friends, do what I have to do to keep my head above water. Indulge in the simple things that bring me joy.

What are your goals? Any similar to mine?


Megan Erickson is a USA Today bestselling author of romance that sizzles. Her books have a touch of nerd, a dash of humor, and always have a happily ever after. A former journalist, she switched to fiction when she decided she liked writing her own endings better.

Her next release is Zero Hour, book one of the Wired and Dangerous series, which releases January 30 with Grand Central Publishing/Forever.

Connect with Megan: Web | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


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Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh + swag trading cards

a place called No Homeland by Kai Cheng Thom

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Binge on Books Top Books of 2017: Madison’s Favorites

Madison’s top reads of the year

Cannot believe 2017 went by so quickly. 2/3 of my top books this year have been read within the last month. But overall it was a great year for the book community.
In no particular order…
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Binge on Books Top Books of 2017: Sara Beth’s Favorites

Sara Beth’s top reads of the year

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Binge on Books: Countdown to a New Year!

Join Binge on Books and friends as we…Countdown to 2018!

From December 20 through December 31, Binge on Books will be hosting a series of posts each day counting down to the new year. Joined by authors, publishers, and fellow bloggers, this series will focus on takeaways from 2017 and what we can look forward to in 2018. Think the biggest, longest, most book-filled reflection of the past year and the hopes and dreams for the new one all wrapped into one: that’s Binge on Books’ Countdown to a New Year. Come see what your favorite members of the book world have to say about the past year and what’s up next for them in the year to come!


When: December 19 – December 31

Where: Binge on Books

Featuring posts by: Amy Jo CousinsMegan EricksonErin Finnegan Santino HassellJ.R. Gray

Jay from Joyfully Jay Blog ・CB LeeSheena from The Lesbian ReviewLayla ReyneCat Sebastian

Jude SierraCandysse Miller from Interlude Press

Fun extras: Multiple giveaways of paperback and ARC prize packs, fun author swag, and a grand prize of a Kindle Fire! Open Internationally.

We can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for YOU!


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Binge on Books Top Books of 2017: Alex’s Favorites

Alex’s top reads of the year

Well, dammit, there were so many terrific reads this year, weren’t there? I could wax lyrical about all the books I ran to that made me forget which world I was living on. Ginn Hale’s Lord of the White Hell series is at the top of the list with E M Hamill’s Dali as a close second. And, my goodness, that magical retelling Peter Darling by Austin Chant was AH-mazing.
Then there were the books that took no prisoners.  The new Barons Series by Santino Hassell is his best yet. In addition to lots of hot sex, he’s got plenty to say about what it means to be bi in this day and age. My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame is the sweetest story of a man coming to terms with his dead brother’s queerness by watching his daughter interact with his brother’s husband. Then, there’s The Hate U Give by Angela Thomas–a riveting story that, among other things, tells the story of a teenager shot and killed by a police officer and shares, in a personal way, why the Black Lives Matter movement is essential… and for that has recently been banned. Because… um… drug use.
Yeah.

So, in honor of THUG, et al, and dedicated to those who want to want all books to be white, straight, ableist, classist, and otherwise normative, my Best of 2017 list comprises a selection of antidotes. Read More

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Binge on Books Top Books of 2017: Edwin’s Favorites

Edwin‘s top reads of the year

As designated Chief SFF Nerd at Binge On Books, it feels appropriate for my top 4 reads of the year to also be in the SFF genres. So what follows are the four science fiction and fantasy novels I read and enjoyed the most, in no particular order.  Before I get to that, though, I should mention some books in the contemporary queer romance genre I enjoyed very much this year. Some honorable mentions, if you will: Kim Fielding’s Love is Heartless, Roan Parrish’s Small Change, and Liz Jacobs’ Abroad: part 1 are all wonderful books and well worth your time.  I should also add that there are 2 or 3 other books it was really hard to leave off the list.  2017 has not been a good year, but it has had some damn good books.  Now on to the main event. Read More

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Urban Fantasy Buddy Review: The Year of the Knife by G.D. Penman

The Year of the Knife by G. D. Penman

Published by: Meerkat Press

Format: mobi

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Mystery

Order at: Publisher | Amazon | B&N

Reviewed by: Edwin & Alex

What to Expect: Fun, ambitious, mostly successful queer urban fantasy featuring a kickass heroine, tons of magic, and an alternative history of the good ol’ US of A. Read More

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The Romance of Fan Fiction, part 3 by Jude Sierra

Hello all! Happiest of Novembers to everyone. This month we wanted to welcome Jude Sierra for two exciting reasons: first for a very first look at her upcoming novel and second, for a four part series she wrote for Binge On Books. Jude will be spending the month of November discussing the intersections between some of her favorite things: fanfiction, romance novels, and authors you know who play in both sandboxes! Jude will be talking with some of your favorite romance authors throughout the month about their fanfiction to original fiction publication stories and just how important fan communities have been to them.

Before we get down to the nitty gritty, there’s one more order of business. It’s been a little while since we’ve seen a new novel by Jude, and we’re excited to announce the details of her upcoming novel, A Tiny Piece of Something Greater.

Blurb: Reid Watsford has struggled with his cyclothemia his whole life. When his grandmother offers him a place to stay at her condo in Key Largo, he decides to leave Wisconsin, his ex, and his family to try to make a fresh start. There he meets Joaquim, a Brazilian wanderer who came to the US looking for adventure, and ended up an intern at the Key Largo Dive Shop. When Reid signs up for his introductory dive classes, it seems an adventure has come to Joaquim—but Reid has a lot of secrets, and a past he can’t quite escape. As their relationship deepens, so do Reid’s complications, something they both must learn to navigate—on their own and with each other.

Coming from Interlude Press on May 17th, 2018. 


For us Fanfictioners (Fanficers? anficionados?) the road to publishing fiction or writing original fiction looks different. I mentioned in my last blog post how some of our published fiction began as fanfiction or was conceptualized as fanfiction and reworked as original fiction. Sometimes that fiction was previously published as fanfiction and then changed. This is where many beautiful, well crafted and beloved books in our genre come from. One of my favorite things about this sort of transition is the idea that authors love a story enough to know that it will work better as original fiction.

For many of us, fanfiction came first, and it became a comfort zone. Fanfiction readers are wonderful: in fandom the feedback you get is positive, helpful, and comes from a place of love for a common interest. This is how many of us learn to write and craft – through the feedback we get in those spaces. Fandom is much more immediately interactive than publishing spaces. In fact, this is one of the hardest aspects of transition to publishes spaces for us – the distance from your readers.

Fanfiction readers and authors love to imagine their characters in completely different scenarios than the source material (for example, as I discussed last time, the time I gave a character wings as a part of a writing challenge). It is in these spaces that authors often realize that the characters they’ve written don’t necessarily fit the characters in the show, book, game, etc.

Jordan Brock once responded to a simple prompt from a reader in the BBC Sherlock fandom: John is CanadianIn 18 days she completed a 98,000 word story in which so many things were different than the source material she decided to rework it. Through NaNoWriMo participation, Jordan was contacted by Sourcebooks about publication. This book received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, and yet she told me that she “was nervous about revealing the origin of the story, especially when it got starred reviews in places like Publishers Weekly. I worried that people wouldn’t take me seriously as an author if they learned I got my start in fanfic.”

This narrative isn’t unusual – for many of us, the potential stigma or judgement makes it challenging to know if we should address our fanfiction roots. And yet, many of us are award winning, critically acclaimed and successful authors.

For some authors, learning to write through fanfiction made it initially hard to envision an original work. Lynn Charles spoke of this: “…all three of my published novels were at least conceptualized as fanfiction, but never were finished or made it off of my computer into the ether of the internet.” For Charles and other authors, that transition, support, and encouragement came from publishers who understood the potential and quality being created within fandom. “The transition from fanfic to novel happened through…Interlude Press and their initial commitment to giving quality fanfiction authors a chance to publish original novels.”

For some, reimagining of fanfiction to original fiction didn’t initially work, or weren’t workable. And yet that attempt, that work in recreating, helped them learn how to craft original characters and hone the skills necessary for writing original novels. Amy Stilgenbauer’s first attempt at an original novel was a rework of a Sailor Moon story which she knew, in the end, wouldn’t work. Although she published poetry going forward, it took her a while to transition to original published fiction. Community was a big part of this transition. “I switched to creating my own original work when I lost contact with fandom friends for a while and felt weird writing it without them. I had to create new worlds out necessity, but I still brought the skills honed in fandom forward with me.”

This is not to say that all authors who have written fanfiction and original fiction took these paths, or that their trajectory was from fanfiction to published work: some authors did them concurrently. Sometimes, for those who have made that transition, it is accompanied by anxiety or worry that our roots might somehow lessen our accomplishments, skills, value of our work, etc. But all of these authors are gifted, with readers who will attest to how wonderful their books are.


About the authors:

Jude Sierra is a Latinx poet, author, academic and mother who  began her writing career at the age of eight when she immortalized her summer vacation with ten entries in a row that read “pool+tv”. Jude began writing long-form fiction by tackling her first National Novel Writing Month project in 2007. In 2011Jude was introduced to the Glee fan community began writing fanfiction, where her stories garnered thousands of readers.

Jude is currently working toward her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, looking at the intersections of Queer, Feminist and Pop Culture Studies. She also works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for From Top to Bottom Reviews.  Her novels include Hush,  What it Takes,  and Idlewild, a contemporary LGBT romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews. Her upcoming novel, A Tiny Piece of Something Greater will be available in May of 2018.

Social Media Links: Website Twitter Goodreads Facebook


Jordan Brock is the author of Change of Address, published by Riptide Publishing. She currently publishes fanfiction under the name Kryptaria. She has written in many fandoms, including Dungeons to Dragons, World of Warcraft and Sherlock.


Amy Stilgenbaur is an archivist by day, writer by night. She has published 2 novels, The Legend of League Park independently and Sideshow with Interlude Pres, as well as having published a number of poems and short stories. Additionally, she is a professional ghost writer covering various subjects from history to abstract mathematics. I wrote in the Sailor Moon, Harry Potter, and Newsies fandoms.


Lynn Charles is the author of Chef’s TableBlack DustBeneath the Stars as well as the short story, Shelved, in the upcoming holiday anthology If the Fates Allow. She wrote in the Backstreet Boys and Glee fandoms.


 

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The Romance of Fan Fiction, part 2 by Jude Sierra

Hello all! Happiest of Novembers to everyone. This month we wanted to welcome Jude Sierra for two exciting reasons: first for a very first look at her upcoming novel and second, for a four part series she wrote for Binge On Books. Jude will be spending the month of November discussing the intersections between some of her favorite things: fanfiction, romance novels, and authors you know who play in both sandboxes! Jude will be talking with some of your favorite romance authors throughout the month about their fanfiction to original fiction publication stories and just how important fan communities have been to them.

Before we get down to the nitty gritty, there’s one more order of business. It’s been a little while since we’ve seen a new novel by Jude, and we’re excited to announce the details of her upcoming novel, A Tiny Piece of Something Greater.

Blurb: Reid Watsford has struggled with his cyclothemia his whole life. When his grandmother offers him a place to stay at her condo in Key Largo, he decides to leave Wisconsin, his ex, and his family to try to make a fresh start. There he meets Joaquim, a Brazilian wanderer who came to the US looking for adventure, and ended up an intern at the Key Largo Dive Shop. When Reid signs up for his introductory dive classes, it seems an adventure has come to Joaquim—but Reid has a lot of secrets, and a past he can’t quite escape. As their relationship deepens, so do Reid’s complications, something they both must learn to navigate—on their own and with each other.

Coming from Interlude Press on May 17th, 2018. 


The Romance of Fanfiction, part 2 by Jude Sierra

Whether it is lore, or underground knowledge; a passing references those of us who have been there and done that will get – many of us recognize our own. When it comes to the ties between fanfiction authors and romance novelists, truthfully, I just thought everyone knew. The whole thing was rather normalized by dialogue within fan communities. I come from an independent publisher (Interlude Press) whose roots were in fandom and who branched out from there. I mention this because Interlude, like many others, recognized the quality and depth of writing and artistry in fan works.

It’s that artistry I really want to focus on here. Whether it’s in the community feedback or in sheer opportunity to write (a lot!) there’s a level skill building for authors that creates transitional opportunities and maturity when moving from one space (fanfiction) to another (published fiction). Every author I spoke to for this article touched on this. For example, Avon Gale (Scoring Chances) described the ways in which fandom taught her to write characters: “When you’re constrained by someone else’s character you really put a lot of thought into every little thing your character does, from actions to voice…inner dialogue, you name it.” Much like Avon, I found that the practice of trying to fit my own stories to existing characters was an instrumental piece of learning how craft.

Fanfiction allows writers to stretch given information in unique new directions. How can we take a high school kid and put him in a world where people have wings? How can we make that a story about how the divisions between those with wings and those without represents class hierarchy, restricts or allows for access to resources, speaks to how social constructs affect our everyday lives…and want readers to care? (Yes, this is a thing I tried to do, thanks Glee!) Fanfiction authors ask devoted fans to take their internal concept and love for a character, plot or story into a voyage that amounts to an incredible leap of faith. To do so, authors have to be able to ground this crazy voyage in something fundamental. I particularly enjoyed fanfiction crafting when the stories that we are given create contradictory moments – how can we stitch together pieces that make no sense or actively contradict each other and make the reader believe them? (I’m looking at you Marvel)

When I spoke with Suzey Ingold (Speakeasy), something that jumped out at me was this – the idea that having characters given to you doesn’t provide a “shortcut”; similarly, having a plot already provided won’t either. Like some of the authors I spoke to (E.M. Ben Shaul, Amy Stilgenbauer, Racheline Maltese), Ingold had experience writing prior to coming to fandom – in her case, in theater and for the screen – but didn’t believe in her ability to write descriptive prose or narrative. Writing fanfiction not only helped her realize she could, but gave her the space to practice and hone those skills. When E.M. Ben Shaul (Flying Without a Net) described her journey from a day job as a technical writer at a software company to published author, fanfiction also came before original fiction: “I started writing fan fiction because…I realized at one point that I had forgotten how to write anything other than short, declarative, action-verb sentences; bulleted lists, and numbered steps. I had forgotten how to write dialogue that sounds like how real people talk.” Importantly, it was in writing fanfiction and skill building – and passion for writing and character – that the main characters for her novel came to her.

For many authors of both fan and published works, the genesis of an original character can be traced to initial interest in writing something in fanfiction. Often, the thing we want to write just doesn’t fit. Loving a story or a unique take on a character enough to see it through – outside of what often becomes a lovey comfort zone with existing readership – is a testament, in my opinion, to craft. Knowing when you’ve stretched something as far as it can go; recognizing when a character demands a unique world and voice; believing in a story enough to take a risk – these are skills we’ve learn through careful attention to character as well as story and world building.


Jude Sierra is a Latinx poet, author, academic and mother who  began her writing career at the age of eight when she immortalized her summer vacation with ten entries in a row that read “pool+tv”. Jude began writing long-form fiction by tackling her first National Novel Writing Month project in 2007. In 2011Jude was introduced to the Glee fan community began writing fanfiction, where her stories garnered thousands of readers.

Jude is currently working toward her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, looking at the intersections of Queer, Feminist and Pop Culture Studies. She also works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for From Top to Bottom Reviews.  Her novels include Hush,  What it Takes,  and Idlewild, a contemporary LGBT romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews. Her upcoming novel, A Tiny Piece of Something Greater will be available in May of 2018.

Social Media Links: Website Twitter Goodreads Facebook


E.M. Ben Shaul is the author of Flying Without a Net, which was published in 2016 by Interlude Press. 

Suzey Ingold is the author of The Willow Weeps for Us, part of the Summer Love Anthology, Speakeasy (Interlude Press), and An Open Letter to the Men that Frighten Me, part of Issue 2 F Word (404 Ink)

Avon Gale is the author of the Scoring Chances series as well as numerous published novels and novellas. She is also co-writing the Hat Trick series with Piper Vaughn and co-wrote Heart of the Steal with Roan Parrish. 


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