Feb 23, 2018 – Today with Tortie

Well, today I was introduced to a new fandom I didn’t even realize was a thing. I know it’s probably not exactly what people like but it’s a fandom out of Danny Phantom – Danny/Vlad and Jazz/Dark Danny. I know it’s terrible on so many levels but I find them so endearing. I might explore writing fanfiction of them. :/ What fandoms do you like?

I got some more plotting out for 2019 Q3. Really happy with the way that is going and I’m really starting to see how my 2019 is going to go. I am a little nervous but excited about 2019 Q4. I am confident I can draft that well. 🙂 Although my carpel tunnel has gotten worse, I am so thankful for opportunity to write another day. I can’t thank the gods enough.

On a personal note – today I take a huge step in my spirituality. I am becoming an official member of the Tsubaki Shinto Shrine of America. I’ve waited for this day for a while now and I am ready to really explore this wonderful faith and the peace it will help bring to my life.

Writing has been going amaizingly, I’m glad to say. I’m trying to become more active in some of my Facebook groups but I don’t know if I’m welcome to post my daily or weekly word counts. I’ll see about it because I believe that only another writer can truly understand what you mean when you just want to rave that you completed a story that was just bursting out of your chest.

Word Count of the Day: 1,650

Not bad!

I am grateful that I was able to write today. The gods gave me the opportunity to do what I loved and I did it with great joy.

I thank Sesshat, Thoth, and Inari Okami-sama with sincerity, joy, and appreciation for another day I was able to write.

What did you write today? I’d love to know! 🙂

Thank you for reading! May the writing gods be with us!

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Feb 20, 2018 – Today with Tortie

Hello, everyone! Well, I fell off it a little bit because of no real good reason. I’m still writing a lot, which I am thankful for, just hadn’t updated.

I’ve been feeling very good about my writing and am planning out my content for 2019 as well as new projects I want to take on by 2020. It suddenly hit me, though. I felt this sudden depression and I would like to use this space to vent about my insecurities. Thank you for listening in advance.

Today, I felt like I would never get anywhere. Like no matter how hard I worked I would never be a published writer and most of all that I would never be able to feel good enough for the people I admire. I have a muse and I work every day to be the best I can be so that I can bring my muse honor and pride. So that if I ever make it, I will not shame my muse and they can be proud to know that they have inspired someone to be the absolute best version of themselves they can be. I want to be worthy of my muse and if I ever face them to be able to say – I did all this to be good enough to be your admirer. Am I good enough now? And today I felt like I would never be good enough.

It felt like no matter how much I wrote, how much I tried it would never be good enough and like I would never earn the privilege and honor to admire them wholeheartedly. It felt like I was shaming and dishonoring them by even thinking about them as my inspiration to write.

Thankfully, though, I kept going and pushed through it because if I’m going to be a disgrace to them anyways, I might as well work my hardest to at least be able to say I sincerely tried.

I will not stop writing. I will not allow the negativity to get to me and I will keep moving forward even if it feels like I am going absolutely nowhere. As long as I keep going, somehow I’ll make it through the darkness that bogs me down at times. And if I never become good enough to bring them honor and pride, I at least want to become someone I am not ashamed of. I want to feel proud of myself – even if nobody else is.

Thank you for listening to me. I try not to vent my personal insecurities but I just felt so unbelievably sad today that I had to write it out.

I will keep going; keep writing. Because I refuse to let anything stand in the way of my dream and what I love doing – not even myself. Logic be damned. I will not stop until I reach where I am going and I will work through the sadness, tears, and the fear to be someone great.

I am grateful that I was able to write today. The gods gave me the opportunity to do what I loved and even though it was not enough, I did it with great joy.

I thank Sesshat, Thoth, and Inari Okami-sama with sincerity, joy, and appreciation for another day I was able to write.

What did you write today? I’d love to know! 🙂

Thank you for reading! May the writing gods be with us!

Feb 07, 2018 – Today with Tortie

My writing today wasn’t so great. I got some work done on my fanfiction, brainstormed on the next book I am writing, and read quite a bit from the book I am reading – Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.

I am very happy with my writing, even though it is not as impressive as yesterday’s. A small step forward is still better than standing in place.

Daily Thought on Writing from a Humble Tortie

Not everyday is going to be outstanding.  But even if it’s not, as long as you have one small victory and step forward it was worth it because you are a little closer to your end goal. One foot in front of the other; step by step. No matter how meager your progress might look, you are still closer to your dream than the person that decides it isn’t worth it to start or that gives up halfway there.

Tortie’s Daily Word Count

1,100 words

I am grateful that I was able to write today, even if it was just 1,100 words. The gods gave me the opportunity to do what I loved and even though small, I did it with great joy.

I thank Sesshat, Thoth, and Benzaiten Kami-sama with sincerity, joy, and appreciation for another day I was able to write.

What did you write today? I’d love to know! 🙂

Thank you for reading! May the writing gods be with us!

Feb 06, 2018 – Today with Tortie . . .

Hello, my fellow torties!

Today was a good day as far as writing. I am so excited to be writing some great fanfiction I hope my fans will enjoy. The enthusiasm has me blazing through page after page and my fingers are almost completely numb and my hands ache because of my carpel tunnel but I don’t really care. I am in such a writing state of mind right now!

This momentum is really pushing me forward and helping to carry me through to the book I am currently editing and the new book I am working on. Even though I am not writing something that I will publish or that directly impacts my future, I can’t bring myself to regret writing my fanfiction.

The excitement I am feeling right now is priceless. I feel so motivated to write and I can’t wait to channel this energy into my scripts.

Daily Thought on Writing from a Humble Tortie

Write what you feel you should write at the moment because that enthusiasm and positive energy is completely priceless. Once you get the love and passion flowing through your body, channel it into your work in progress. I do this when I have upcoming deadlines as well. 🙂 I take a few minutes to really get myself motivated by doing something I really love and use that momentum and energy – the drive – to see me through the task I am not exactly excited about.

Tortie’s Daily Word Count

5,200 words

I feel so excited I could reach such an outstanding number on a weekday! The writing gods have smiled upon me and I am grateful.

I thank Sesshat, Thoth, and Benzaiten Kami-sama with sincerity, joy, and appreciation.

What did you write today! I’d love to know! 🙂

Thank you for reading! May the writing gods be with us!

 

call me by your name by Andre Aciman

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Thoughts – Before Reading

Before I read the book I was wondering what the experience would be like. I knew roughly what it was about but I worried that I wouldn’t like it because it would be too stream of consciousness or even abstract for myself. So there was concern for me from the get go which is one of the reasons I did not buy it at BookPeople when I saw it. (A decision I am still ashamed of.) The cover looked interesting and the title was something that immediately caught my eye. Eventually, it was the fact that it was a gay coming of age story between a young boy and an older man that did it for me. Any story coming of age done right is lovely, but I don’t usually see it done like this and I was intrigued.

Thoughts – While Reading

OMFG! My heart!

That’s about all that can be said about that.

Thoughts – Post Reading

DEAD!

My life was consumed after I read the book. My world no longer turned for anything except to look for Oliver and Elio and then to turn into Elio myself and ask where my life went wrong and wonder where my Oliver is! But then I had to realize, right Tortie, you’re being crazy. These are story characters and need to calm down. So after realizing I am in fact not Elio looking for Oliver, I simply sat there and silently cried at the beautiful story that had consumed my life. It is one of the most invasive reads I have ever had in that I still cannot get over the story and how much it impacted me. Before I knew it, it had wormed its way into every part of my life and there was no getting it out.

Review

I first came across call me by your name by Andre Aciman on a Goodreads search when I looking up queer fiction. It popped up and I tried finding it in my local public library. However, they did not have it and that was that. It wasn’t until my writing partner brought it up again that I remembered, ‘oh yeah, I wanted to read that book’ and it was upon her insistence that I moved it up on my list of reading priorities. I found it at another public library, after shamefully not insta-buying it at BookPeople, and when I began to read it I knew I was hooked.

A book that completely took over my mind, body, and soul, I couldn’t put it down. I read and re-read passage after passage; took copious notes but never enough and cried and sobbed as the story developed. A story about the summer that changed Elio for the rest of his life and his encounter with the man that would forever haunt him. This story speaks to all of us with a ‘could have been’ love story. If it had been another time, it would have worked. If it had been the right place, it would have worked. And this is the ultimate story that we know would have worked had it been the right time and the right place, but it wasn’t. A haunting and raw telling of the love story that could have been but never was and the ever present ghosts that keep telling you that he is still here.

The main characters in the story are Elio and Oliver told from Elio’s perspective. Immediately we know that Oliver has an impact on Elio and we quickly see just how present the new guest at his parent’s summer home is in Elio’s mind. A normal 17-year old boy with less social practice than most, Elio is shy, quiet, and introverted. That does not, however, keep him from longing for the charismatic Oliver’s attention. Free and easy-going, Oliver seems to be the complete opposite of Elio and he quickly comes to terms with the fact that Oliver will never see anything in an inexperienced kid like himself.

Poetic, intelligent and academic, the two bond over their love for music, literature and the arts and they quickly realize they are getting a little too close for comfort. Even though told completely from Elio’s perspective, the two characters grow into 3-dimensional and flawed characters that are so real, you can almost feel the book pulse with their life blood.

Put these two very real and raw hearts against one of the most honest backgrounds I’ve read and you get a story that is sometimes more alive than the deadpan humans ghosting around you. Alive with humor, sarcasm and humanity, the entire cast creates a world that you forget is fabricated out of ink and paper and when you resurface, you wonder if you really hadn’t just stepped off a beach in Italy.

Elio and Oliver are flawed. You won’t always like them and at times, I wanted to strangle them both. The supporting cast is inconvenient and overbearing at times for the two guys still testing their limits and you can’t help but smile at how genuine their concern is. You can almost bet that you are looking into a magic mirror and seeing an evening on the far side of the world in real time. Alive and vibrant, colorful, flawed and raw; even though they came into my life as paper and ink, they quickly became even more real than the person standing next to me in line for coffee.

The setting of the story was in Italy and Rome but firstly in Elio’s head. Before we see anything else we first must go through Elio’s memories and then to see the Italy and Rome that changed his life forever. Haunted by ghosts of a past he can never forget and loves to relive, the setting is always shrouded in an almost invisible gray veil of what could have been. There is a hint of sadness wherever we go because we know and he knows that it is not meant to be.

The bookstores and convenience shops seem to be abandoned buildings brought back to life by the vivid and obsessive memory of one that cannot let go. You never forget where you are or what the story is and the way we go through that summer and then life after Oliver adds an extra layer of bittersweet nostalgia that makes all those already memorable places singe into your  mental eye – never to be forgotten.

The plot of the story is different than in most. There really is no plot save for the telling of a good story and you know how it all comes to pass long before you turn the page and Oliver is gone.

Despite having an unconventional plot line, there are subplots that wrinkle the perfect trajectory of the story. The book is not only a memory, it is also the fights and instances that shaped the rest of Elio’s life. So even though he recalls everything with smooth and vivid clarity, we get to peal away that very lacquered layer of fine oil to reveal the original beaten and battered wood that shaped him into the adult reliving the past.

From the get-go, the conflict of the book is ‘Does Oliver like me?’ and ‘How do I act around him to make sure I am doing it right?’ The conflict at its core is a young boy trying to figure out how to act around the guy that he likes. He’s trying to be mature so as to impress Oliver but he can’t help but be a spoiled child at times and he hates himself for it. Once the feelings are out in the open, there is the guilt of wondering if what he did was right or if maybe they shouldn’t have done it in the first place. And after Oliver leaves, it’s Elio trying to live with himself and the absence and hold Oliver left.

The constant throughout the book is that Oliver is part of the conflict in some manner or another and Elio is constantly struggling with his presence and lack thereof.

The resolution of the story was hardly a resolution at all. It was more of a ‘this is how life goes’ sort of ending that made me want to wail and cry at the top of my lungs and beg Mr. Andre Aciman to say it isn’t so! But it is. And I cried.

A real life story sort of an ending, it didn’t end the way I wanted it to but the way I knew it would from the first moment I read the very painful blurb. A haunting and exquisite story that will be with me for the rest of my life, I couldn’t have asked for a more emotionally taxing and stunning ride. Elio and Oliver will live on with me as the ghosts that haunt Elio to the very end. The hope he feels even 20 years after that fateful summer will forever leave me with tearful desire that Oliver, at the last moment of the last day before they parted for the last time called Elio by his name.

 

 

 

 

 

Events! May Third Thursday: Writing Contemporary Love Stories

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Hello everyone!

Today I attended the May Third Thursday: Writing Contemporary Love Stories at BookPeople, hosted by the Writers’ League of Texas! It was my first ever event with WLT and first Third Thursday meeting but it was so much fun! I got to meet some awesome writers, hear awesome discussion about the craft and get to know another local book joint! So, let’s get started!

Event – Review

This Third Thursday meeting focused on writing about modern romance. Topics that were addressed included traditional vs modern romance, dating in these new times, and the challenges that contemporary romance writers face, both old and new. The panel was great! The writers present were Clara Bensen, Liana LeFey, Benjamin Reed, and Paige Schilt. A very diverse and well spoken panel, these awesome writers really showed us the craft of writing romance from very different perspectives.

As someone that is not a romance writer, it was extremely educational. I personally got to speak to Liana LeFey and Benjamin Reed, both fantastic people, and found them to be very supportive and very welcoming. The entire group was welcoming of both seasoned and novice romance writers and they were very friendly.

A great first taste with the awesome crowd of romance writers and the WLT, I can’t wait for the next Third Thursday meeting which will cover pitching novels to editors and agents in light of the writing conference just around the corner!

BookPeople!

So, because I am a derp, this was my first time in BookPeople and my gosh, have I been missing out! The building is huge and upon walking in, I couldn’t help but just gawk at how massive and beautiful the store was. Of course, as luck would have it, three employees were there to welcome their fellow book lovers and I’m almost positive they were thinking, ‘what is wrong with this girl?’. However, because everyone can human more than I can, they smiled and welcomed me. I quickly put my tongue back in my mouth and shuffled away to recompose myself before returning to the gawking and ooh-ing and ah-ing of the very lovely store I had the privilege of gracing.

Completely spectacular, wonderful and just about every other positive word you can think of! This is a paradise for a book lover looking to become a part of a community of fellow bookish folks and support the local Austin scene!

Overall, a fantastic event with fantastic people! So happy I went! I will provide links to all these writers, as well as the WLT and BookPeople websites for reference! I am also going to read Once a Courtesan by Liana LeFey.

Something I really took away is that romance isn’t just a love story rehashed with some sexy time in it. When a book is categorized as ‘romance’, something Liana LeFey really stressed, the writer is making a promise to the reader that the writer has a responsibility to deliver. The way she very passionately defended her audience against misrepresentation really moved me and stayed with me. To label something as romance is to promise a happy ending, character development, and the idea that love conquers all. When a reader picks a book from the romance section, they are looking to escape from this world into a lovely fantasy and to fall short of that promise, is a disservice to the audience. I was moved by how much Liana LeFey defended her audience and I respect her for it. She doesn’t like misrepresentation messing with her readers and I love her for that.

Overall, fantastic event, fantastic people, and an all around fantastic night! I am looking forward to the next meeting!

Thank you everyone for reading!

Love,

The Reading Tortie

 

Authors:

Liana LeFey – http://lianalefey.com/

Clara Bensen – http://www.clarabensen.com/

Benjamin Reed – http://benjamin-reed.com/

Paige Schilt – https://queerrocklove.com/author/schiltp/

Hosts:

Writers’ League of Texas – http://www.writersleague.org/

BookPeople – http://www.bookpeople.com/

 

Malvern Books – http://malvernbooks.com/

On Books – In the beginning . . .

I’m writing a pretty tough piece right now, so to lighten my mood, I’m reflecting on something funny in my life.

When I first started reading books, I was very, very nervous. I didn’t know what books to read or what a genre really was. I had very little experience in my own school library – a tragic short coming of the American public school system – and the concept of picking a book I actually wanted to read was more than just abstract. It was almost nonexistent. I didn’t know what books I could possibly enjoy and the concept of a story I picked for myself was so far beyond me, looking back, I am surprised I even knew what a book really was.

It’s funny to think that someone would ever have to explain what a book was to me, but it was really something so confusing. I didn’t know how to properly use the library and I didn’t know what it was to pick a book by reading the synopsis. So, I usually would absently go to the shelf, grab a book that caught my attention and check it out. Only later did I eventually think to read the synopsis, but only in middle school and onward.

As I grew older, my grasp on what a book was really began to solidify. The very first book I ever finished was the third Harry Potter book, and it took me about 2 years to finish. I was in fourth grade and finishing the book was possibly one of the biggest milestones in my childhood. I used to pick books that were really chunky because I felt super cool reading them and it was that year that I understood what it was to read a book by consciously picking it up.

I started reading more, usually books a little too difficult for me but I didn’t like the stories that were meant for my reading level. I began reading books outside of school that I could convince my parents to buy me from the Wal Mart or HEB in my town.

I used my book money as wisely as possible. It was very little money I had and I didn’t want to pick a book that I would regret. As a result, most of the books I got were nonfiction reference materials about animals and geography. One of the first fiction books I ever bought was To Kill a Mockingbird. I was 11 years old when I bought it and I put it down half way. It was too abstract and difficult for me. But I didn’t get rid of it. When I read it again later in high school, I loved it.

I would never buy books when we visited big cities. I never asked to visit the book store, even though I was offered it, because I knew I would be the only one to enjoy it and we usually had other things others wanted to do. I didn’t mind not going. Besides, I couldn’t fathom going into a book store and restraining myself to any sort of budget. I knew that if I was offered to buy books the following would happen: 1 – I would explode from the excitement, 2 – I would be in there all day, and 3 – I would be so damn lost because I had absolutely no idea how to buy a book.

I’ve come so far and it really astounds me that I am where I am when it comes to book reading and buying. I got my first library card last year, at the ripe old age of 24. I know, it’s beyond me how I didn’t do it sooner. And I surprise myself to see how far I’ve come since my very first unsteady steps in picking out books for myself.

My system for picking books still hasn’t really changed. 🙂 I go to a book store and I usually have absolutely no idea what books I’m going to get. I don’t have a real list of favorite authors, save for three or four, and I usually don’t even look at their names when picking them out. I usually go to the clearance section of the Half Price I’m at, because that’s my bookstore of choice, and I pick out whatever title catches my eye. I glance at the back – is it set before the 1600s? Yes? In the basket. No? Is it general fiction with any sort of disturbing or theme I find unique? Yes? In the basket. No? I’ll pass. And that’s pretty much it. 🙂 I’ll buy books without even knowing their titles if I like the way the pages feel. Not the most advanced system but it works! And about 1,000 books later, can’t say I would change it for the world.

By using this system, I find myself exploring anything and everything that could possibly catch my eye. I don’t limit myself to genre, author, or much of anything by allowing myself to be a blank slate and reading anything and everything. I have a few books set in modern times, though those are still difficult for me to buy. But for the most part, I’ll read anything recommended to me. 🙂

I want to read everything I can get my hands on, whether it’s a me book or not. I want to expand my literary horizons and truly understand and refine my taste in books. I want to understand why I love the books I love and I want to understand why I don’t like the books I don’t like.

For someone who didn’t even understand what a book really was until the age of about 10, I think I’ve come pretty far. And I still have so much further to go!