I Wish You All The Best: A Book Review

What a time to be alive, where fiction about Nonbinary people, has gone mainstream! In my wildest dreams, I never would have imagined it, to be honest. Here we are though, just a day shy of the whole first release week of I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver having taken place, and it has taken the internet by storm for all of the right reasons.

From the get go, it is made apparent that this book will be delving into subjects with emotional depth, as the story begins with the main character, Benjamin De Decker, being kicked out of their home for outing themself to their parents. From there, it becomes a narrative of healing for them, as they try to piece back together a life in shambles.

If you are looking for light-hearted, then I suggest searching elsewhere, because though there are humor laden exchanges and a romance between the MC and another character, which builds gradually throughout, this book is first and foremost about trauma and healing from it. With that being said, this was a harder read for me, but I am so grateful that this book exists. Years ago, as a Nonbinary teen, I would have benefited greatly from it, had it been available at that time.

As for the mechanics of the story, the character driven plot was done well. There was nuance and growth throughout, especially from Ben. Though their healing takes center-stage, Ben’s sister also transcends her original starting point, as does the love interest. Their motivations and facets are fleshed out to where I can see them being actual people. These three are the characters we see the most, so I feel it’s important to highlight those above the others. However, each person in the cast of characters was unique, and believable, which added layers to the story that would not have previously been there otherwise.

Overall, though a difficult read for anyone who can remotely relate to Ben on certain issues, this book is one of the best to come out of this release year. I am grateful to have read it, and I can only hope that the author will continue writing, as I look forward to their next work.

I rated this book on Goodreads 5/5 stars.

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More Writing Than Not

The second week of May ended recently, and to my surprise, I wrote over 13K during it. My goal had actually been to meet or exceed my previous word count from the week before, but life smacked me in the face, then blinded my focus for a bit, so that was out of the question.

However, with that being said, on the projects I am working on, I’ve made decent head way. The one that I’ve placed most of my focus on has quickly evolved into a story borne from my psyche and desire for healing, so I’m pouring myself into the words and hoping that by the time the first draft is finished that it’s not complete and utter garbage. Something salvageable is my goal there, to say the least. At this point in the draft, I’d say I’ve managed that, so far.

This next week, which just started, I don’t foresee exceeding more than 15K, but I have been wrong before. Who knows? Maybe it’ll be my best week yet, after the slump that was last week. All I know is that the fire in me has been ignited once again, shedding light on portions of myself that for a while have lain dormant – life can do that to a person sometimes. Writing is what I do though, and through everything, it is what has sustained me.

Cheers to another week of writing, reading, and the rest of life.

Dear Me Ten Years Ago: A Ramble of Reflection

A trending hashtag, which I promptly answered upon seeing it, got me to thinking about where I was ten years ago.

Looking back, I was lost and uninformed about so many different things. The younger generations that are growing up now, have the benefit of mass information at their fingertips, where I struggled to learn anything about my identity until I was well over 21. The internet of course had reached break neck speeds before I had crested the beginning of adulthood, but it was relatively new, and I was still getting the hang of the information super highway. Thankfully though, I did, because without it, I would not be where I am today.

Who I am, all of me, my sexual orientation, my gender, my neurodivergence, would have all been unknown to me in name, were it not for the internet. Likewise, I wouldn’t have had the vocabulary to describe them. However, with the help of the internet, I learned about other people like me, and figured out that who I am was not some weirdo, but a person with multiple facets to them.

Furthermore, given the sort of toxic messages I had learned from those around me and specific forms of entertainment, such as movies, books, etc. I would have never grown as a person, and realized that the partner I had at the time was all of those terrible YA tropes, wrapped up into a person that I thought I had loved. Once I realized this, I gave myself the agency to leave them, and begin anew. To this day, I celebrate the day I did, as it is when I really began doing what was right for me, and those I care about. It’s a personal holiday to me, honestly.

I say all of this to say that from fifteen to twenty-five, I grew, a lot. I still have a long way to go, but hashtags and reflections like this remind me of why it’s okay to be nostalgic occasionally, or pat yourself on the back. However, it’s also okay to look forward, knowing that you did the best with what you could. Also, I hope that as we continue on, that the generations after us will not have to struggle in that department, as they do have more likelihood of learning more so than previous ones before. How we all use that knowledge is to be determined.

Shadows You Left: A Book Review

There is something to be said for laid back novels, such as Shadows You Left by Jude Sierra and Taylor Brooke, which offers up an intriguing plot and the potential for great character development, then delivers. It is the sort of book that can keep a reader up at night with anticipation, urging them to continue until the end. A whirlwind romance with teeth and truth, this book is a stunner.

With that being said, this story revolves around two main characters – Erik and River – whose points of view alternate throughout. Erik is a cage fighter and mediocre bartender, while River is a talented tattoo artist. Right from the start, their lives converge, and the story begins. Even from the opening though, it becomes apparent that while this is a romance, each character has his own separate life to sort out, and live too. While it does indeed focus on their nascent relationship, importance is also placed on who they are outside of each other, including their friends or family.

Furthermore, well-executed prose and beautiful imagery populate this slice of life and love novel, which only engendered me to this narrative further. Those aspects, coupled with a well-constructed combination of fleshed out characters, and sub-plots that had believable resolutions at the end, made this easily one of my favorite books of the year.

If the premise of two imperfect people navigating their separate worlds alongside their budding romance draws you, then the following love story might be for you. It is not cotton candy, by any means, as it deals with darker topics, such as addiction and substance abuse. However, it is a novel that adds depth to the New Adult category and romance genre in its execution.

I rated this book 5/5 stars on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: I was given a free ARC of this by NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.




Almost 21K the 1st Week of May

My latest experiment with writing productivity has proven to be a success, as the title of this post indicates. I’ve been a bit absent again from this blog again, and as of now I still cannot say it won’t continue to happen, but it’s safe to say that I have still been writing.

In the first 7 days of May I wrote nearly 21, 000 words. That’s an astonishing amount, considering in April I wrote about that much for the whole month. I can only credit that though to the fact that tracking my writing with spreadsheets has forced me to acknowledge when and where my consistency is dipping.

Consistency, as I tell myself and often others frequently, is key. While I say that, I am the first one to admit I rarely am able to follow the aforementioned advice. I try, and manage it for a time. Unless it’s ingrained in my schedule though, it won’t ever stick. I’m rooted in schedule and routine, and if I don’t force myself to do it at certain times every day, it just will not happen. I know this about myself though, and that is why my new system has increased my productivity exponentially.

As of now, I would like to project writing at least 50K this month. Given that I’m nearly halfway there, it would be a shame not to make an attempt to reach a higher goal. If I manage to reach upwards of that, then I will count that as a bonus.

On Writing Own Voices, and the Trajectory of My Future Storytelling

Lately, I’ve thought a lot about my writing, and where I want it to go. For years, I’ve toiled with different manuscripts, never being satisfied with how they turned out, so I trashed them, or filed them away to be perused in the future. At the time of writing this, I’ve come to realize that perhaps there’s a reason those past ones did not work out, and perhaps it’s time to leave those ideas behind for the writing I plan to do in the future.

For those who have been writing Own Voices works, they already know what I have discovered, which is that it is no walk in the park. Given that I became aware of who I am only in the last couple of years, I never had the chance to do right by myself and write about being me before, because until recently, I was not entirely sure who that was. Now that I am though, the works that I once held so dear mean little to me, and I find myself wanting to start fresh so that I can write characters that reflect who I am, as well as others who are not like me, but deserve to be at the forefront of stories, rather than left out or shoved to the back of countless narratives, as they have been before.

In the past few weeks, as I written during NaNoWriMo, I’ve contemplated what I want to write more than I ever have. I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps even though I once loved writing fantasy, that maybe I don’t anymore? I have a hard time with change, so even thinking of this inwardly was shocking. However, as I sit down to write or read, I not ice what sort of works I gravitate towards now – romance and contemporary.

Does this mean I will cease to enjoy reading fantasy, or writing it occasionally? No, not at all. It’s simply that as I’ve grown older, I enjoy reading books that can tell a story without the added allegorical trappings, with a nice love story to boot. I still love fantasy, and will continue to write it as fanfiction. However, at this point, when all else falls away, I look forward to writing about love, and current social commentary in a setting that does not require creating fantastical creatures or menacing antagonists that may or may be derivatives of Sauron from Lord of the Rings, or one of that series’ contemporaries.

If you write or read, over the years, how have your tastes changed? Let’s talk in the comments!

Until next time,

T.J.

Being Marginalized Is Not A Free Pass To Avoid Scrutiny

There seems to be a gray area hovering throughout the lands of the internet, as well as outside of the digital world. It has materialized as controversies have arisen, and people have drawn their lines of what they will or won’t allow to come to pass without comment. However, this gray area of indecision, or decisively placed rose colored glasses, is insidious at best, and therefore should not exist.

An identity is not meant to shield, because actions determine your character, regardless of who you are. Furthermore, though every single person will make a mistake at some point, that does not excuse the action which remains erroneous in nature. To point to past decent actions as reason that you should be forgiven, is immoral, and also just as wrong as attempting to hide from scrutiny behind your identity.

Recently, after a slew of various events within the book community, this has been weighing on my mind. It is not easy to hear that you’ve committed an error, but rather than become defensive and point to your sexual orientation or other marginalized identity, it should be rather obvious that the best path forward would be to admit to wrong doing, and then commit to doing better going forward. We’re all human, and therefore pre-disposed to making mistakes. However, nothing can remove the blame for your own choices or actions. You, and you alone, are responsible. Being marginalized is not an eraser than can absolve you.