Special Announcement: Honeycomb: Lethal Cargo

Good evening, my valued readers. Tonight I’m taking some time out of my increasingly-busy schedule to let you know about the release of the next story in the Honeycomb series. This novelette, only 51 pages long, is called Honeycomb: Lethal Cargo by Wren Cavanagh.

Spoiler Alert: The following recap briefly refers to events in Honeycomb: Revelations, so proceed with caution if you have not read that novelette yet.

Image retrieved from Amazon

Honeycomb: Lethal Cargo picks up right where Honeycomb: Revelations left off. After a monstrous encounter at the debtor colony on the planet Honeycomb, the Triton has finally left that God-forsaken planet with its cargo, its crew, and a slew of ex-convicts who have repaid their debts and are eager to go home. Unfortunately, it also harbors a rather dangerous stowaway, one which even the diligent crew cannot see in its current hiding place.

Honeycomb: Lethal Cargo follows the Triton as its crew and passengers attempt to outsmart this deadly menace. What tragedies will befall the cargo ship Triton? Who will survive? Is it even possible to survive a foe that can be anywhere–or anyone?

As with Revelations, Lethal Cargo takes readers on an imaginative journey of suspense and mystery. Cavanagh and Notch Publishing House have provided another fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat piece, and I think that fans of classic science fiction will be pleased. As it is only 51 pages, it’s a quick read and I don’t think you’ll want to put it down until you’ve read the entire thing from start to end.

An extra bonus is that Amazon sells the Kindle editions for Lethal Cargo and Revelations together for $2.98. If you already have the first novelette and only want to get the second, you can buy the second novelette by itself on Amazon through this link.

I’ll try and have a combined review of Revelations and Lethal Cargo in the near future. Unfortunately, as you can tell from my previous post, my schedule is packed and I can’t guarantee when it will be up. Until then, give the Honeycomb series a read for yourself and leave your thoughts in the comments section below. I’m sure that Wren Cavanagh would love to hear them.

Do you know of any small-press/indie books that are coming out? Want to help extend their reach? E-mail me at thewritersscrapbin@gmail.com and we can discuss featuring the release in a future post.


Designed by Stephanie Hoogstad circa 2011

Sporadic Posting Schedule, or Puppy Jail

Hello everyone, here’s to another week. You may have noticed that I didn’t post anything this week. I had planned to, but a couple things got in my way. The first is that I have an assignment for grad school due on Wednesday (and I’m still trying to squirm my way through that). The second is that I got a new puppy on Saturday, hence the subtitle “puppy jail”.

Bubba sleeping in his kennel

My new puppy, Bubba, is only nine weeks old. He’s also a Toy Fox Terrier mix (probably mixed with Pomeranian but we don’t know for sure), so he needs extra care and attention to make sure that his blood sugar doesn’t drop, he doesn’t get too cold, and, of course, no one steps on him. He’s still too small to be fixed (that’s planned for December) and we have to take him in for some shots, so that’ll keep me busy. Raising a puppy takes a lot of time and energy, especially in the beginning.

Between my critical response and Bubba, I’m going to be even more sporadic about how often I post for the next couple weeks than usual. I do have a couple posts planned for this week, including some information on a new Honeycomb story by Wren Cavanagh and a book review for The Art of Winning by Matshona Dhliwayo, but I can’t guarantee when those will be up.

Thanks as always for your understanding. I’m sure that most of you are busy with your own personal lives and NaNoWriMo anyway. For my American readers, Thanksgiving and Black Friday are also coming up and that’s always…fun? Busy? Horrifying?

Good luck to everyone on your current projects, and I’ll see you later this week. And here’s an extra “good luck” to those still cranking away at their NaNoWriMo goals.

Designed by Stephanie Hoogstad circa 2011

Sensitivity Readers: Useful Fact-Checking or Restrictive Censorship?

Today I got the latest edition of Writer’s Digest. As I was perusing and generally avoiding working on my critical response due next week, I came across an interesting article about a publishing trend which involves hiring “sensitivity readers.” Needless to say, I was intrigued to learn more.

What are sensitivity readers? Mandy Howard, who wrote the article published in Writer’s Digest, was kind enough to provide a definition from Writing in the Margins, an online database of sensitivity readers: sensitivity reading is editing for “issues of representation and for instances of bias on the page” (Writer’s Digest, January 2018, p. 8).

With this definition in mind, I’m going to turn to an aspect of the article which, admittedly, bewildered me. Namely, a passionate debate about the role/appropriateness of these specialized beta readers has be sparked with #diversity, #thoughtpolice, and #ownvoices.

The debate really shouldn’t surprise me. After all, everyone has a different opinion on everything. (I dare you to ask the question “Is The Nightmare Before Christmas a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie?” in my household. You will get three distinct, passionate, and articulately-argued answers.) Still, my personal view of the matter made the debate seem unnecessary to me.

Here are the three sides of the argument:

  1. #diversity: These are the readers and writers who support people at all stages of the manuscript’s development hiring sensitivity readers. Their argument is that it is just another kind of fact-checking. After all, if you are writing from a perspective which is not your own, you are most likely to get something wrong. Don’t want egg on your face because you misidentify a Muslim woman’s garment, right? And what if you inaccurately described how a deaf student interacts with his professor? Nobody’s perfect. If we’re going to include diversity in our works, we have to make sure that we do it right.
  2. #thoughtpolice: These critics of the concept believe that sensitivity readers suppress creativity and expression. Howard points out that ptheir argument often falls back on the claim that classics such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Of Mice and Men, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin would not have been written the way they were under such insistence on political correctness because they portray these groups so negatively. One Washington Post letter to the editor which Howard references even compares sensitivity readers to censors.
  3. #ownvoices: This hashtag arises from more critics of this concept, but they don’t criticize it for nearly the same reason as #thoughtpolice. Their problem doesn’t seem to be with using sensitivity readers. Rather, they argue that people from these diverse groups need to write themselves. Shouldn’t we have books about African Americans written by African Americans? Books with transgender characters by transgender authors? How about books about Jews by Jews, or books about autistic characters by autistic writers? We need more diversity in our writers as well as our characters.

You have probably already guessed my position on the matter. I side most with #diversity and #ownvoices.

I think that sensitivity readers, like other beta readers and editors, serve as tools for revision and refinement. More importantly, they’re a research source. Just like you would search the Web, scour the archives, and interview experts (including those with first-hand experience), you can gain invaluable information about a different perspective from your sensitivity readers. Nothing enriches writing more than genuine human experience.

In regards to #ownvoices, I agree. We need more writers from diverse backgrounds. I’d much rather read about a perspective when written by someone with that perspective. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we shouldn’t write from different perspectives. We need to have both in order to represent realistically-diverse worlds in our stories. Sensitivity readers will ensure that we accurately portray perspectives which aren’t our own, and utilizing this resource is a step in the right direction.

For more articles from Writer’s Digest, be sure to visit writersdigest.com. You can also visit Mandy Howard’s website for more of her work and find your own sensitivity reader on Writing in the Margins.

What do you think about sensitivity readers? Are they fact-checkers or censors? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, but please remain civil. We welcome all view points so long as they are expressed respectfully.

Writing and Seasonal Affective Disorder

Happy Hump Day, everyone. It’s a chilly, rainy, dreary day up here in the backwoods of Northern California. You know what that means? Winter is coming. Literally. You know what else it means? It’s time for my Seasonal Affective Disorder, also called SAD, to kick in.

What’s Seasonal Affective Disorder, you might ask? It’s a form of depression related to changes in season. It begins and ends around the same time of year; for most people, it starts in fall and continues through winter, although rare cases can begin in spring or early summer. Essentially, it saps your energy and makes you moody.

So, in my case, my depression gets a lot worse once it starts to feel like fall–i.e. shorter days, stormy and cold weather, etc. It really gives me a love/hate relationship with rain and this time of year. I love rain and Halloween but I’m also moody and get virtually nothing done. (What can I say? I’m a mass of contradictions.) Even my normal anti-depressants don’t help as well during this time of year.

You might be wondering by now: how does this affect my writing? Not in a good way. There are more excuses to stay inside and I should be happy because it’s finally raining and we’re no longer suffering heat in the 80s or higher. I, at least, would expect that to be my ideal writing conditions. The reality? I’m drained all the time, I don’t want to do anything but sleep, I’m irritable, and I can’t concentrate. In other words, I have a hard time writing around this time.

Image retrieved from CharlestonPhysicians.com

Seasonal Affective Disorder is one of the reasons that I hate NaNoWriMo being in November. I’ve found that if something can go wrong in a writer’s brain, it will. Perhaps it’s Murphy’s Law of a Creative Mind. I’m guessing that I’m far from the only writer with Seasonal Affective Disorder, which makes the timing of NaNoWriMo, to say the least, inconvenient.

How can writers deal with SAD long enough to actually write?

I’m not going to lie, I don’t have any method guaranteed to snap you out of it every time. I know because nothing pulls me out of SAD every time I need it to. However, some methods can help ease the symptoms and, with any luck, something can get written.

Some of these methods work on Generalized Depression and other forms of depression as well as Seasonal Affective Disorder. Others specifically target the symptoms of SAD. All can alleviate SAD sufferers if they give these tips a shot:

  1. Light therapy: One of the first things my doctor suggested was light therapy with a “happy light.” This happy light is essentially a natural spectrum light box. You sit a few feet from it and it will feel like you’re outdoors in the daylight. I’m not sure how it works exactly but Mayo Clinic says that it causes a change in brain chemicals linked to mood. It often seems to help me but it is incredibly bright and I can’t use it if my dad is going to be coming into the room (this is the same man who would have us use only one light or, his preference, sit in total darkness if my mom and I didn’t fight him on it). So, while it helps, I can only have it out occasionally.
  2. Medication: As with other forms of depression, anti-depressants such as Wellbutrin can help. If you don’t have any form of depression the rest of the year, you can talk to your doctor about starting an anti-depressant before symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder kick in. If you’re like me and SAD makes preexisting depression worse, you can talk to your doctor about increasing your dosage, changing medication, or adding something to your current anti-depressant to see if it will help combat the added layer of depression during this time of year. Never reduce, increase, substitute, or otherwise change your medication or dosage without first consulting a medical professional, preferably the one who originally prescribed it to you.
  3. Brighten and open up your living space: Sometimes something as small as opening the curtains, turning on some lights, or decorating your rooms more brightly can improve your mood. It sounds simple but brightening your living space, exercising, going outside, and taking care of yourself overall can make a huge difference in your mood and outlook.

For more information on Seasonal Affective Disorder and how to combat it, you can follow this link to the Mayo Clinic pages on the disease. Remember, there are no cookie-cutter solutions that work for everyone. You just have to keep trying different approaches until you find the one that works for you. In the mean time, all you can do is keep pushing and doing your best to reach your writing goals. Also, don’t ever be ashamed of taking a Mental Health Day.

Do you have any tips for writers suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.


Designed by Stephanie Hoogstad circa 2011

dragonet07 OBC Review: Book Blueprint by Jacqui Pretty

Well, here’s to another week, dear readers. I’m going to be rather busy this week, but I would still like to start it on a lighter note with my latest OBC review. In my previous post discussing outlines, I mentioned that I reviewed a book called Book Blueprint by Jacqui Pretty on OnlineBookClub.org. To my surprise, the review was approved and published not long after I released that post. As before, I can’t copy the review here for exclusivity reasons, but I can give you a brief feel for the book and post the link to the thread on the OBC.

Book Blueprint is a how-to book which helps entrepreneurs to write their own book in order to promote their businesses. It’s particularly interesting for budding entrepreneurs who need to establish themselves as experts in their fields. I read it because I’ve been entertaining the idea of writing a book for self-employed writers, but the details beyond that were hazy. Pretty’s work has certainly put me on the right track, and I’ll be sure to return to it in the future as I work towards my goal of writing a book to promote my business.

I know that, as writers already, my readers may not think Pretty’s advice worth pursuing. However, writing a book of this caliber is much different from writing fiction, poetry, and even other nonfiction works such as essays. Book Blueprint guides readers through the entire process from choosing the right idea and the right kind of book to using the right language for their audiences. Being a fiction, poetry, or nonfiction writer will give you an edge in the process but this book will give you the tools with which you can best use this edge.

To read my full thoughts on Pretty’s work, please follow this link to the OBC review.

If you want to review books for the OBC or would like to have your book reviewed on the site (or just want to find some good books for a discount), you can visit OnlineBookClub.org or you can get the basic information from my post covering the reviewing opportunity.


Designed by Stephanie Hoogstad circa 2011