#TWGTurnsTwo! Happy 2nd birthday The Writing Garnet! #blogbirthday #blogaversary #blogger #TheWritingGarnet

The Writing Garnet-5
Happy birthday to TWG!!!! I cannot believe that my little blog turns two years old today, what a corker of a year it has been! When I started The Writing Garnet back in 2016, never in a million years did I think it would blow up like this, nor did I think I would win awards for my blog. I started my blog as a way of saying thank you to authors who continue to allow me to escape my every day hell with stories that make me laugh, make me cry, give me chills – you name it. I’m not even being dramatic when I say that off the blog, my life is a challenge. In this last year, my health has taken even more of a nosedive, with little things like standing up in a queue, starting to become impossible. But, aside from my daughter (obviously), the only other ‘thing’ that helps me keep going is my blog and the community which surrounds it.

In 2016, I was a newbie. I knew nobody yet everyone else knew somebody and, whilst there are still cliques around, I have the most supportive bloggers, publishers, publicists etc around me, I feel like I can do anything with these people beside me. This last year has seen friendships blossom even more so and I am so, SO grateful that I can call these people my friends. I just want to say a massive thank you to Lucy Vine, Katie Marsh, Darcie Boleyn, Jo Robertson, Clair Boor, Katherine Sunderland, Mary Jayne Baker, Vicki Dickinson, Jules Wake, Sarah Hardy, Anne Cater, Noelle Holten, Betsy Reavley, Isabelle Broom, SJV, JB, Linda Green, Sam Carrington, Mairead O’Driscoll Hearne, Nica Hawkins de Koenigswarter, and many, many more, for always having my back, giving me advice, supporting me and giving me a well needed pep talk when I feel like I’m about to give up. I also want to say a massive thank you to all of the publishers and publicists I work with on a day to day basis, for allowing me to read such wonderful books and embark on a journey with them and the author. I also want to say thank you to all of the bloggers who share my posts daily and who continue to make me laugh with their squirrel antics and goodness what else! Also, a big thank you to everyone else who continues to share my posts, like my posts on the facebook page/instagram, and supports me. All of you mean the world to me and I wouldn’t be here without your support. Thank you all for believing in me and being the light at the end of a dark tunnel. I will forever be grateful for your friendship.

So, what has happened this last year? Well, SO MUCH! I was crowned the winner of ‘Most Inspirational Blog’ at the 2017 Annual Blogger Bash Awards – thank you so much to everyone who voted for me! Such an honour!

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I also turned into a mushy mess at the Edinburgh Book Festival where I got to meet one of my idols, Jenny Colgan (yes, I nearly cried). Jenny has been one of my favourite authors for as long as I can remember so it really was a dream come true to finally meet her, AND be quoted on a graphic in support of her new book!

Last year I also got to meet one of my blogger besties, Jo Robertson! You might know her as ‘MyChestnutReadingTree’, and my daughter now knows her as the person who plays Shopkins!

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You know on book covers there is usually a quote from a best selling author? Yeah? Well, HarperImpulse and Mary Jayne Baker made my dream come true last year by putting my quote on the front of MJB’s book. Yes, ON THE FRONT!

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Another highlight from the last year was getting an e-mail from a member of the RNA, stating that I was a nominee for ‘Media/Blog Star of the Year’ in the RNA Industry Awards. Yes, me. I had to double check the e-mail to check that they had sent it to the right person! Unfortunately I didn’t win, but it was still an honour to be nominated and then receive a ‘Runner up’ award – thank you so much.

The Writing Garnet seems to get busier and busier, the more time that passes and, whilst a lot of people think I’m bonkers for taking on over 40 blog tours a month (haha), I am in my element. I really do hope that this year is the year when all of my hard work pays off and I can find a job working from home – that really would be a dream come true.

Whilst all of the above are just highlights, there has been so many things which I am proud of – getting quoted on multiple graphics, having Fern Briton follow me on Twitter, winning multiple competitions via social media, receiving signed books in the post (as well as other amazing book post), and soooo much more. Sometimes I feel like I am dreaming, I really do. I really didn’t expect all of this when I first started my blog and, if I’m being perfectly honest, there are moments where I find that I don’t fit in with the community, and I worry that my words will never be enough, but my passion for books outweighs everything else and even though those worries continue to be there, I just think about how far I have come and why I started this blog in the first place.

Thank you for supporting me and TWG!!

You can ‘like’ my facebook page here!
You can ‘follow’ me on Instagram here!
Or you can ‘follow’ me on Twitter here!

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Are e-books stupid? Should e-books be classed as ‘real books’? Director of @BloodHoundBook @BetsyReavley is in the hot seat with #TWG

E-book or not to e-book?
Last month, the head of one of the world’s biggest publishers, spoke to the media about e-books. Whilst I would usually celebrate anything from the book world making the media, I remember being quite flabbergasted by what I had read in said article. I am sure a lot of people read the article in question – it had quite a lot of shares on social media at the time! The comment which left a lot of people, including myself, reeling, was the quote ‘e-books are stupid’. Pardon? I am fully aware that people prefer one format over another, after all, we cannot all like the same things. Some readers may prefer to read hardbacks or paperbacks instead of reading e-books, or visa versa. Personally, I don’t see the problem with that, I am just thankful that we actually have a choice. Think about it – many years ago, the only type of book which could be purchased was a tree book. Digital books weren’t around then, nor were a lot of authors many people have come to love. Fast forward to now, there are a lot of authors being published by digital only publishers,  giving readers a lot more choice when it comes to choosing their next book. There are also a lot of books being published in multiple formats, sometimes all three (hardback, paperback and e-book)!

So, what is the problem? That’s a good question. In the article published by the Guardian, the head of a publishing company stated that he wasn’t against e-books, but believes that publishers and editors aren’t making the most of 3D and digitalisation, despite claiming that ‘ebooks are stupid’. The article rubbed several people up the wrong way, including Publishing Director of BloodHound Books, Betsy Reavley. I sat down with Betsy to find out why the article left a horrible taste in her mouth;

TWG – Hi Betsy! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few of my questions. I understand you’re exceptionally busy! Before we get to the nitty gritty reason as to why you’re joining me today, could you please introduce yourself, what it is you do, as well as how long you’ve been involved in the sector for?
I started my journey as a writer. Twelve years ago I began writing my first novel. Six years later, when I finally completed it, I was lucky enough to have picked up by an Independent publisher. At the time I had an eighteen-month- old daughter. I knew then that I wanted to be involved with the industry. In 2013 eBooks were still quite a new phenomenon and my husband and I saw an opportunity to start a business we both felt passionate about.

TWG – If I said the word, ‘e-book’ to you, what does that word mean for you on a personal level, not on a professional level?
EBook to me means career. Without eBooks, and the independent publisher who signed my first novel, I would never have ended up on this path. I love my job and the people I work with. I am grateful for this every single day.

TWG – It has been very well documented that a chief executive from one of the world’s largest publishing companies, has stated; ’e-books are stupid’. In his discussion that has recently been published on The Guardian website, the chief executive also states that ‘e-books have no creativity’ and ‘no real digital experience’. As the head of a publishing company, which focuses on e-book sales, could you tell me what you thought of those comments? What would you respond to the claims which he has made?
Having read the article you are referring to, I can just about see the point he was trying to make. Yes, eBooks could be more interactive but I personally don’t see the benefit or need for this. An eBook is just the same as a print book but in digital form. My feeling is that there is room in this world for both and it is no bad thing that they are similar.

The ease of access and pricing of eBooks has made reading much more accessible for many readers who, otherwise, might not be reading at all. This is something that should be celebrated. I get sick and tired of the ‘us and them’ attitude that exists between traditional and indie publishers. As far as I am concerned, neither of these formats undermines the other, so I cannot see where the issue lies. Not only that, but Independent publishers, such as Bloodhound, have sprung up as a result of this revolution, which means more authors are getting published and writers have the opportunity to publish themselves if they wish.

TWG – Further down the discussion with The Guardian, said chief executive goes on to explain how publishing companies don’t have the skills to create 3D, digital content regarding manuscripts. On a professional level, how important is ‘3D’ content when it comes to the e-books you publish?
At the moment, 3D content is not a priority for us but as a young company that has benefited from new technology, we will certainly try and keep up with the trends as and when they change.

TWG – If books became more enhanced and digital on e-readers, do you think the format may end up suffering overall?
It is difficult to say. As a business, if Bloodhound Books wants to survive, we will need to keep up with the latest in technology. There is no point fighting progress. It makes far more sense to embrace it. In my opinion, this is something some traditional publishers are failing to do.

TWG – More often than none, I see a lot of discussions on social media regarding e-books versus paperback, with some readers feeling as though ‘e-books are not real books’. Even though everyone is entitled to their opinion, what is your response to those beliefs? Are e-books any less real compared to a ‘tree book’?
I am going to answer this question as a writer, rather than a publisher, if that’s ok! As a writer I wanted nothing more than to hold a copy of my book in my hands. However, I also wanted to make a living and put food on the table. EBooks have allowed me to do this. The money that goes into my bank account is the same currency whether I sell a paperback or an eBook and I make far more from eBook sales than paper books. If someone gave you ten pounds cash or transferred ten pounds into your bank account, what is the difference? I apply this logic to the argument that eBooks are not real. They are as real as the money that shows up in your bank account. Having said that, there is nothing wrong with people having a preference of one over the other. Each to their own.

TWG – Could you give us a bit more information regarding e-books and how they’re published, in comparison to tree books? For example, the costs involved in producing both, the time frame, how it is done, and so on.
With print on demand it is as easy to produce paperbacks, as it is eBooks, especially for Indie publishers. Not having to pay out for large print runs means that as a company we are taking less risk with our spending and have extra cash to inject into marketing, which is vital to our growth and survival.

TWG – Another big issue regarding e-books and paperbacks is the price. Whilst I personally appreciate that cost is a big issue for a lot of readers, do you feel that e-books and paperbacks are vastly overpriced?
This is a tricky one. Big name authors, who have publishing deals with one of the big five
publishers, will always be able to sell their books at a higher price because they know the fans will pay. Having said that I do think most eBook readers have an issue with expensive eBooks, no matter who the author is. At the same time, unknown authors stand a chance of being read because they charge less for their books, which means readers are more likely to give them a shot. Readers feel less cheated if
they have tried a new author and paid only 99p. It is common sense.

TWG – As an executive of a publishing company yourself, how does the pricing affect your company? I know that sounds like an extremely simple question, but do you find that 99p books sell easier than say, an e-book, which is priced at 1.99? Which do you sell more of?
The vast majority of our books are launched at 99p, whether the author is a debut or has had previous titles published. In our experience, this allows the book to climb the charts and gain exposure as a result. The majority of our profit is made when the price of the book goes up to £1.99, even though the novel may sell fewer copies at this price.

TWG – Do you believe, on a personal AND a professional level, that the book industry is moving with the times, accommodating all different types of readers and their needs? Or do you feel, just like said chief executive on The Guardian, that e-books are limited and lacking?
If eBooks are lacking in some way then so are their predecessors, paper books. Since eBooks are digital copies of paper books it seems ludicrous to suggest one is a lesser version. I think the introduction of eBooks has proved that the industry is able to change and move with the times, even though some may disagree. The Internet has revolutionized how we do so much, from watching films to looking at maps. No doubt the industry will change again at some stage and we will all need to adapt when that happens. I believe the key is to go with the tide and not against it if you have the best intentions for your authors and want to sustain a successful business.

I would like to thank owner of BloodHound Books, Betsy Reavley, for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions from a digital publisher point of view. The e-book VS paperback debate will no doubt continue, with a lot of readers being adamant that e-books are not ‘real books’. Yes, people have a preference over the format of books they read, but should we be insulting other people over the format which they choose to read? No, we shouldn’t. In my eyes, as long as people are reading, I couldn’t give a monkeys which format it is in. Would I say that one format is stupid? No, no I wouldn’t.

We would love to hear your thoughts on the above, so please do get in touch.

You can find BloodHound Books on Twitter here.
You can also get in touch with Betsy and the BloodHound Books team via their website here

How ‘why are you only saying it NOW?’ is #notokay to respond to #sexualabuse posts with #MeToo

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Dear men and women of the world,

You may have seen the news overflowing with reports of abuse and harassment involving Harvey Weinstein. I mean really, who hasn’t? It really is everywhere.

You may have also seen the hashtag ‘#MeToo’ crop up once or twice on your social media, where some victims of sexual abuse or harassment try to come together under one heading whilst showing the world that it IS okay to speak out. Of course there probably was thousands of people who chose not to take part in that hashtag due to it reminding the victims of their abuse – that is okay too!

What’s NOT okay is the victim shaming.

What’s NOT okay is people commenting on posts with; ‘it was only just a kiss, stop throwing your teddy out the pram’.

What’s NOT okay is comment after comment with words along the lines of; ‘why are they just coming out with it now? or ‘yet another one jumping on the bandwagon to accuse someone of abuse – attention seeker!’ or ‘why didn’t they report it at the time instead of waiting years to say something?’.

I am hoping that if you’re reading this post, you know fine well why the above are far from okay. But if you don’t know why, then just this once I will humour you by saying:

Firstly, victim shaming is not okay. When people respond to a post asking what the victim was wearing, or what they did to attract the abusers attention in the first place etc, that’s pretty much telling the victim that they DESERVED their abuse/harassment.

Let me ask you this – if I were to walk down the street with a short skirt, high heels and a strappy top on and a man/woman decided to make non consensual advances towards me (e.g. groping, sexual talk, requesting sexual favours, rape, kissing etc), would you tell me that I DESERVED that because of what I was wearing? Would you tell me that I was ‘asking for it’ because I chose to not wear jeans and flat shoes and cover up every inch of my body?

It doesn’t matter whether you’re wearing religious clothes, party wear, your pyjama’s or even your birthday suit; if you have NOT consented to another person touching you or making advances towards you then it IS deemed harassment/abuse. No MEANS no. No-one is ever asking to be abused or harassed by another person, regardless of whether a 4×4 piece of skin is on show. No…just NO.

Secondly, my next point is what prompted me to write this post actually. A newspaper reported that a lady has made an allegation about Patrick Swayze. Now we all know that he is dead so no, she wasn’t meaning that he abused/harassed her from the grave. This lady said how Swayze forcefully kissed her without her consent, just moments after discussing his wife on the show. The lady then proceeded to explain how she DID mention it to her boss (who was a woman) at the time and she was fired. Yes, you heard me correctly. SHE was fired. Whilst that story didn’t exactly prompt my post, it was a comment on that news report which did. A comment which said ‘it was only a kiss! stop throwing your teddy out the pram and let the man RIP’. Really? Tell me folks, how is that okay? How is making someone’s situation out to be trivial and ‘just a kiss’ deemed a suitable response? Yes the man is dead, and no he cannot defend himself. But should his death and status in Hollywood at the time, make the alleged abuse any less serious? If it was only ‘just a kiss’, does that mean anyone can walk into the street and forcefully kiss someone on the lips as it’s ‘just a kiss’, whether they wanted it or not? NO! If one person dictates a situation where it makes you any way uncomfortable, the other person should respect that and stop. One person agreeing to do something does not make the action consensual. So no random stranger, it isn’t ‘just a kiss’.

Thirdly, this one is getting my back up something chronic. In regards to the Weinstein case, there has been a flurry of victims coming out saying that they have suffered some form of abuse or harassment by that man. Many of those victims have openly said how their careers were then affected once Weinstein was told ‘no’. Many of those victims have said that they felt as though they couldn’t tell anyone because they were frightened, lonely and afraid of losing everything they have worked for. Many of those victims have admitted to burying their heads in the sand in fear that they wouldn’t be believed due to how influential Weinstein was in Hollywood. So of course the keyboard warriors came out in force, trying to outshine DreamWorks ‘Trolls’ movie in 0.5 seconds. (Note – they failed. Trolls is WAYYYYY better movie than their 0.5 seconds of fame).

At first I saw comments of solidarity, empathy and anger towards the victims and the situation itself. Then in no time at all I came across comments which began to make me feel incredibly sick. Comments such as ‘attention seeker! why are you coming out with it now?’ and ‘jump on the bandwagon why don’t you!’ and ‘why didn’t you say anything at the time instead of waiting years to say something just to get into the news?’. Those comments were found on the Reese Witherspoon abuse news report so I dread to think what others I had missed!

Let me tell you why comments like that make me feel sick. After getting sexually abused/harassed a victim is more than likely feeling ashamed, frightened, nauseous, emotional…you name it, they’re probably feeling it. Funnily enough, one of the top things on a victims list to do after being abused is going and telling someone. Your mouth becomes dry. You lose all feeling in your legs. You’re unable to form coherent sentences. All you want to do is hide away and sleep, hoping that when you wake up it all turns out to be a dream. Some victims may find themselves (depending on the level of abuse/harassment) having to get coached/therapy to build up the courage to tell someone about what happened. Multiple questions are likely to float around a victims head – ‘what if no-one believes me?’ or ‘what if they say I’m lying?’ or ‘what if they say I deserved it?’ or ‘what DID I do to deserve it?’, just to name a few. It is extremely scary to sit down with someone and say that you have been a victim of sexual abuse or sexual harassment. If in the unfortunate event the victim was raped, it’s not just a case of popping to your local police station for a brew and casually telling them what happened. They have a job to do and unfortunately, the victim’s body is their ‘proof’ as it were, so not only do they have to go through the chat, they also have to endure a physical examination after being non consensually ‘examined’ by an abuser.

When I read those comments asking why said person ‘didn’t come out with it sooner?’ it really did make my skin crawl because 1) for all we know the victim may have already done that and wasn’t believed at the time, therefore speaking out about it where a group of victims has already formed. Strength in numbers. And 2) we have absolutely no idea how the victim is feeling, what they went through and how emotionally (or physically) scarred they are from the event. Who are we to question someone’s abuse? Who are we to demand answers from a victim? Who are we to dictate when a victim should tell an authoritative figure about their abuse? Who are we to judge full stop?

Before anyone asks how I know all of the above, or decides to make an uneducated comment about what I have written; I am a #MeToo three times over. Not once. Not twice. But THRICE. Sexually abused at age 11 & 14, raped at age 21. The first two times I was a minor. Did I deserve it? No. Did I feel as though I deserved it? Of course I did. Do the scars still remain? Emotionally, yes.

Victims of abuse/harassment need empathy not judgement. If you have no idea what to say to a victim, admit that but give them a hug. Never, EVER pass judgement or victim shame a person who has found the courage to speak out their abuse, whether it was 1 year ago, 10 years ago, or 50 years ago. Abuse has no time limit. Abuse has no age limit. Judgement has a time limit and the time limit is up.

No means no. It really isn’t that difficult.

Love,

A victim of sexual abuse.

#TWGsThoughts – Sometimes you need to just take a step back & breathe… #lifestyle #choices

breathe
What IS on your mind, TWG?

I have been trying to decipher my thoughts into a logical sounding blog post for, oh I don’t know, a couple of days maybe? Am I any closer to sounding like I actually know what I’m on about? Probably not. Am I going to try my best to air my thoughts? Of course I am. This is where I am lucky that my blog is called ‘The Writing Garnet’, because I can get away with writing blog posts that aren’t necessarily related to the book world.

So…these past two weeks have been rather emotionally draining health wise. The last time it was this emotionally draining was when I was diagnosed with my most recent illness. Usually, I can just get away with having physically stressful times with the odd emotional rollercoaster thrown in for good measure. Although, during those times, the emotional rollercoaster I go on, I have learned how to calm myself down quicker. When it’s an emotionally draining time, all I want to do is scream to the world ‘STOP THE WORLD I WANT TO GET OFF!!!’.

Last week I had to go for my third x-ray of the year, but this time it was for my left knee. I was already aware that the doctor was sending me for the x-ray as a formality as she couldn’t send me for another test until the x-ray was completed. Those of you who know me, know that I am absolutely petrified of hospitals and anything related to that (not ideal when you have seven chronic illnesses and think of your local GP/hospital as your second home). My GP confirmed this week that I will in fact have to go for the other test…and I have to wait six weeks for an appointment. Which if I’m honest doesn’t bother me overly. However, the other test I need to go for is an MRI….& not only am I claustrophobic, I hate being restricted without a choice. With this upcoming MRI, I have to go through both of those and I am absolutely shitting bricks. The waiting time itself doesn’t bother me as the longer I wait, the longer I don’t have to go through with it. But, on the other hand, the longer I wait, the longer I have to panic about it.

Before you say ‘distract yourself’ or ‘don’t think about it until it comes’, it’s not as easy as that when you’re absolutely shit scared of something, and your daily reminder of the upcoming event is a knee that is twice the size that it originally should be.

Yes, I am stressed out.
Yes, I am finding things extremely difficult.
Yes, I want the world to leave me alone.

With the above in mind, I made the choice to stop saying ‘yes’ as much when I get asked to do things. Granted I feel extremely guilty for saying no and not being a constant cheerleader 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but I needed to admit to myself (and everyone else) that no, I’m just not okay. What I didn’t expect from that choice was for the folk I called friends a few weeks ago, to then stop speaking to me or make digs because I’m not fluttering around like a positive little fairy. In my eyes, this basically means that if I don’t say yes, I’m no longer bothered with by people. Never mind the fact that I need my friends more than ever at the moment, but that doesn’t really come into it does it?

I class myself as an incredible selfless person; so much so that whenever I chose to do something for myself, I ended up feeling guilty for doing so. Why can other people get away with being selfish all day every day, and the one time I need to think of myself for once I get turned away by people who I considered to be friends. Tell me, how does that work again?

Despite wanting to scream at the world to ‘just shut up!!’, I realised that it was pretty vital to take a step back and just breathe. Sounds sooo simple doesn’t it? However when you’re in the moment of feeling as though you’re going to break down because you have reached your limit, thinking logically and rationally is usually the farthest thing from anyone’s mind. Not shit Sherlock! But weirdly enough, breathing is really quite important! Who would have thought it! These past two weeks though, I have most definitely reached my limit and because I decided to take that vital step backwards and breathe, I have seen multiple situations for exactly what they are. I have seen people for exactly who they are.

I can’t do the things I used to do. I can’t phone up friends when I need to chat, because honestly, I have no idea who I can. Just because I am sitting on the fence breathing, it doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings. Nor does it mean ‘out of sight out of mind’. If I can still bother with those I hold dear, even when I feel as though my whole life is crashing down…once again….

I’m sorry if I need to be selfish.
I’m sorry if I need to say no.
I’m sorry if I talk to you about random shit.
I’m sorry…for simply being me.

Don’t worry, I get annoyed with myself too. It’s fine. I get it.

A year ago today I lost my Dad for the 2nd & final time… #grief #death

1year
24 and a half years ago, my dad chose a new journey in life. The type of journey that meant that he would no longer be involved in watching me grow up. A journey which meant that I had, in theory, lost my dad for the first time. Do I remember how I felt about that? No, I was a mere three years old. Between the years of 1993-2003 I saw him a handful of times, yet in 1998, he chose to send me a birthday card. However, what was written in that card has stayed with me ever since;

‘Dear Kaisha. I’m not sending you anything for your birthday as you haven’t bothered to write to Nanna. Dad’

Reader; I was 8 years old. I know exactly what I did with that card (after getting upset btw). I casually ripped it into little pieces, walked outside and threw it into the black wheelie bin. Wasn’t exactly the most mature thing to do, but y’know!

In 2004 I had reached an age where I wanted to give my dad one more chance (please be aware that I’m not typing out the entire story here, a lot more went on than what I wrote above). To say that I missed my dad that year would be a lie. To say that I missed the idea of having a dad…now that would be closer to the truth. I gave him that chance, and he blew it more than once during 2014.

In 2006 I saw my dad for the very last time, through chance, as he was walking out of Tesco as we were walking in. I didn’t want to talk to him. I had nothing to say to him. Over the years a lot of my early childhood came to light, such as how he wanted my mum to abort me when she fell pregnant, and so on. When I was older, I was able to speak for myself and form an opinion based on what he decided to spraff. I stood up for myself. I was called all the names under the sun, ridiculed beyond belief, pulled apart like I was scum. And yes, I did reply in a hateful and angry manner, I won’t lie.

In 2013, whilst I was pregnant with my daughter, it was agreed that I should contact him over Facebook and let him know that I was pregnant, same as when I gave birth. His response? He congratulated my mum on the birth of my baby..

So, whilst you’ve had a little history lesson of TWG, there is a reason why I have delved into my past. On the 25th July 2016 I received a phone call from my cousin. My dad was dead. I had to relay the news to my family, and yes, I was absolutely distraught. The next day I was contacted again by my cousin who told me that on the 23rd July (one year ago today), my dad killed himself by putting a gun to his head. Why did I find out two days after the event? Because he lived in America and, seeing as he had no contact details for his children, we weren’t notified directly…his sister was.

Despite the fact that my dad and I, had had a turbulent relationship over the years, and the fact that I despised him and didn’t want to be associated with him (I changed my surname), his death knocked me for six. I couldn’t stop crying. Even if I wanted to re-build our relationship, I no longer can. He doesn’t know his granddaughter. Hell, he didn’t even really know his 26 (at the time) year old daughter. Yet I was a mess. But then I thought to myself; ‘why are you crying? you didn’t like him?’, and quite a few times I was asked that question by other people. People couldn’t understand why I was so upset so, because of those comments, I started feeling like I shouldn’t be upset by his death. How I shouldn’t be feeling sad as we hadn’t spoken for years. How I should just get on with it and we didn’t really have a relationship. I felt guilty for being upset when I had had a step-dad for the last 8 years, why would I have needed my dad? I wouldn’t. My step-dad has been more of a father to me than my dad ever was. But I still couldn’t stop crying.

Even now, one year later, I still have moments where I can’t believe he’s dead. I wasn’t able to go to the funeral. My brother and I had to legally relinquish our next of kin rights due to cost. Even though my brother was happy to do that and wasn’t bothered by the circumstances, I didn’t want to do it, but I knew that I couldn’t afford to pay for the funeral myself, including the cost for bringing his body back to the UK. Even though he washed his hands of us many years ago, I felt extremely guilty by doing the same even though he was dead.

Regardless of my relationship with my dad, he was still that…my dad. I wouldn’t be on this planet if it wasn’t partly for him. When I look in the mirror I see him, obviously. I wish things were different. I wish we were able to have the father daughter relationship. I know I’m lucky to have my step-dad in my life, and of course my mummabear, but I guess I never expected my dad to kill himself. I am furious with him, but I do miss him. I have no idea why I miss him, but I do. He’s part of me whether I like it or not.

I never got to say goodbye to my dad the first time that he left us. I never got to say goodbye to my dad the second, and final time that he left us. I never got to say to him, ‘look at me now’. I never got to know HIM. HE never got to know me as an adult.

This is by far, the weirdest grief I have ever experienced. I guess that I just want my dad…even though I never really had him to begin with…

#TWGGetsTalking – How to tell the difference between being nasty & being constructive #reviews

Twg gets talking
You should all know by now that I like to talk, ESPECIALLY when I am passionate about something and believe that it needs to be spoken about.

Once again, opinions have been thrust into the limelight and definitions have been questioned. Before I explain further, I’m just going to paste the Oxford dictionary definitions of two words; nasty, and constructive.

Nasty: very bad, or unpleasant.
(definition of unpleasant is: Causing discomfort, unhappiness, or revulsion; disagreeable.)

Constructive: Having or intended to have a useful or beneficial purpose.

constructive

Two completely different word with extremely clear definitions, yet people are still getting confused by the two words.

Why?

As a reviewer, I have always been made aware that authors (or anyone who gets critiqued) tend to appreciate CONSTRUCTIVE reviews as opposed to NASTY reviews. With both types of reviews your opinion is given – that is NOT the issue. After all, every person on this Earth is entitled to their opinion. We are allowed to dislike something. We are allowed to express our dislike of something. We are allowed to jump for joy about something. What the issue is, however, is the WAY those points are put across.

Believe me, I open my trap before my brain connects sometimes, ending up with goodness knows what flying out of my mouth. But when it comes to reviews, I am extremely careful about how I voice my opinion.

For example; ‘Omg I hated that book, it was absolutely shit, the author bored me to tears.’

What’s wrong with that sentence?

Okay, so, the example above is someones opinion. They’re entitled to that. Answer me this; was it constructive, or nasty?

If you said that the example was a constructive comment: seriously? How does saying that a book was ‘shit’, come across as beneficial to the author?
It doesn’t.

It’s rude and it’s nasty. Imagine if you cooked a meal for a group of people and someone came up to you afterwards and said that they thought your cooking was absolutely vile, would you benefit from that?

To turn the above example into a constructive opinion, here’s an example:
‘Personally, this book wasn’t really my cup of tea as I couldn’t quite gel with the storyline. I felt that it came across as quite over the top and unrealistic, which in turn made me switch off.’

The different between the two examples is substantial. The example above still highlights your dislike, yet it also explains WHY you felt that way. It’s also not personally attacking the person who wrote the book, whilst still keeping your opinion entitlement intact.

Whilst authors are painfully aware that their books could end up with negative reviews and their book babies critiqued, it doesn’t mean that just because they have put something in the public eye, that they should expect nasty comments or personal attacks.

YES, they have written something which will get critiqued.
YES, everyones opinion does differ.
YES, readers are entitled to dislike their book.

Just DON’T be nasty about it!

In book clubs, you’re going to have the perfect opportunity to talk about various books whether it’s an online or offline. But, do you think that it’s respectful to openly blast and author and their book, in an online book club which they could be a member of?
Yes or no?

No it’s not!!! Go ahead and state your opinion about a book, but if you’re going to sit there and say that a book is so bad and how you wanted to ‘light a match under it’; that’s not stating your opinion, it’s called being nasty.

As we hear all the time, not everyone will like the same book. Well duh! I fully admit that I have read a book and disliked it. But instead of reviewing it nastily, I gave it a constructive review as there will always be something in a book that you’ll like. I explained what I didn’t like about the book, I also explained WHY I didn’t like those parts, how it made me feel, and so on. I also explained what I DID like about the book. I still managed to express my opinion on the book, without insulting a human being with feelings in the process.

So, if you’re ever in an online book group where the admin have asked you to talk about books in a constructive manner; respectfully do it. They aren’t taking away your freedom of speech. They aren’t banishing you from stating your opinion. They are just asking you to express your opinion respectfully and constructively. Authors have feelings too.

It really isn’t that difficult to do..

#TWG’s Wondering Wednesday – To pay for a review or not to pay? Erm, seriously? #reviews

OnlineReviews(pic credit – Design Extensions)

It’s Wednesday, which means TWG is back with another ‘Wondering Wednesday’! Last week saw the first instalment of the brand new feature, where I was discussing honest reviews. In case you missed it, you can check it out here: #TWG’s Wondering Wednesday – How far is TOO FAR when reviewing ‘honestly’? #review

Decided on a topic for this weeks post wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. No, really! All I had to do was look on social media, and, thanks to one of the book groups I am in on Facebook, I was able to get some inspiration for today’s discussion. So, I am fully aware that this topic could be deemed a little controversial. My bad.

Today I am asking you:

Should authors pay for book reviews?
&
Should bloggers ask for payment for writing a book review?

Without getting too personal, last week this topic was brought to light in a book group on Facebook. BOTH authors and bloggers said their piece, however, it’s one of those topics that will always be remembered as unfortunately, a lot of bloggers could be tarred with the same brush as the ‘culprit’. Let me just clarify one thing before I begin ranting; if you’re an author who wishes to pay for book reviews, that is your choice and I’m not going to stand in judgement of that at all. After all it’s your money, your book; your decision. Also, please remember that I am not talking about reviews written by people whose day job is to actually write reviews and publish them in magazines etc. That is completely different as it is their job and no doubt it would have been a marketing strategy decided by the authors publisher.

However, this post is aimed at Amazon reviews/Goodreads reviews/supermarket or bookshops reviews, written by bloggers. Not bloggers who get paid to blog; people who blog as their hobby which sidelines any existing external job. -breathes-.

As a blogger myself, I would never in a million years contact an author or a publisher and go; ‘Hi! I will review your books for you, but it’s going to cost you £££’. Don’t get me wrong, I am confident in my review writing abilities, but to ask someone to pay me for writing my opinion on Amazon? Where’s your conscience?! If any of my reviews prompted people to click the ‘to buy’ link at the end, and go and purchase the book in question; great! But asking for money for writing a book review, is pretty much guaranteeing the author sales. Yes? How can you guarantee an author sales? Well, unless you go cold calling and sit by strangers whilst they log onto their Amazon account, click on the book and purchase it right in front of your very eyes; I don’t see how sales can be guaranteed for paid reviews.

When I write reviews, as much as people seem to think that bloggers give glowing reviews ALL the time on blog tours, I write my honest opinion in a respectful manner. Of course there will be times where I dislike a book! If I loved every single book, I would be extremely poor. Therefore, my reviews aren’t always going to be 100% positive. They will be 100% constructive where necessary, but I cannot guarantee a fully glowing review. I also don’t charge authors for my reviews. If a blogger charges for their book reviews, how can they guarantee a certain type of review that is going to make someone buy the book? You might be sitting there thinking ‘but no-one said that they can guarantee sales’, which is true. They haven’t. BUT, if you’re paying someone for something, you are in theory paying for a service. You’re paying for results. You’re paying that person to write reviews for you, to generate a higher amount of sales as opposed to bloggers who don’t charge.

Here’s another question for you; what if a blogger who reviews due to their passion for books, creates more of a buzz about a book and generates more sales? Would you say that was luck? Or would you still prefer to pay your hard-earned money, for a book review, just because it’s ‘paid for’?

I just don’t get it. If you’re a blogger who writes reviews for payment and you’re reading this now; each to their own. But, why pay for something when there are tons of reputable bloggers out there, who review with their hearts and not their wallets? Personally, I would trust passion, heart and dedication over the size of someones wallet.

Up until recently, I had no idea that people were charging for their book reviews, nor did I have any idea that not all of those bloggers are upfront about the costs. Sneaky sneaky. What realllyyyyyyyy irks me about the whole situation is how the underhandedness of those types of people tars passionate bloggers with the same brush. Just because Joe Bloggs from BooksRUS* decides to be underhanded, charge for their reviews, not alert the author or make it clear on their blog about the costs, it doesn’t mean that ALL bloggers are like that. We aren’t. We are out there wanting to review your book because WE LOVE BOOKS, you just need to find us.
(*note: blog name was made up to serve a purpose and not to put a blogger in the firing line).

think

Authors, what are YOUR reviews about paid book reviews? Have you ever paid for a book review? If you have and are willing to share, please do! If you have; how much did it cost? Did it generate a lot of sales? Positive/negative points. Plus, would you ever pay for a book review?

Bloggers, do YOU charge for your book reviews? What are your thoughts on the whole situation? Could you ever see yourself asking for money for the reviews you write?

I don’t think I will ever get my read around all of this. To me it just doesn’t make any sense, although this quote from Litreactor.com made me laugh: ‘One theory is the moral issue, that paying for reviews is like paying for sex. The perception being that, if you’re a good person with a good…product, you should be able to find sex/reviews without paying, and that this is the morally superior way of doing things.’

I dunno about you but if I’m not selling sex, I sure as hell won’t be selling my reviews!

Let me know your thoughts, I can’t wait to hear what your feelings are on this subject! If you have a topic that you would like me to wonder about next Wednesday, give me a shout!

A little heads up on why I ‘disappeared’ for a week, as well as special thanks to a few folk.

noteI have a lot to say in this blog post, but I will aim to condense and attempt to ramble much less than usual. However, if I fail miserably, please accept my apology now and know that I tried my hardest, but I’m a rambler!

Little over a week ago I decided to take a take a step back from social media whilst I went to visit a very good friend of mine, after 14 years. You’re probably thinking ‘ooo big deal’, BUT, there was a reason why I decided to coincide my social media break with my break away. Well, if I’m being honest, the decision was only half mine. You see, for the last four or so months I have been on the receiving end of cyber bullying and my tolerance level had been smashed to smithereens. Not only that, it brought back horrendous memories of the bullying I endured as a child. Memories that I already hold the scars for to this day and really didn’t want to have surfaced once again. But they did. After weeks of constant bad news from the doctors and issues with my house, a break away could not have come at a better time, it was just a shame about social media.

Before I went away I scheduled all of my book reviews to go live whilst I was away which probably made it look like I was still about. I need to say a MASSIVE thank you to every single one of you who shared, liked, commented, tweeted and so on, my blog posts whilst I was away. The response to each review posted was incredible and it means a lot that you were all willing to keep sharing them for me. I also want to say sorry to all of you as I haven’t done any blog post sharing, but rest assured I will be playing catch up so if you find your notifications creeping up, you know it’s me.

As I mentioned above, I have been on the receiving end of cyber bullying and it started to make me resent everything I had worked my butt off for. The belittling comments, snidey posts, immature posts from people who should know better and a lot more that only a selected few know. It hurt, and it still does hurt, I’m not going to lie. No-one should be bullied whether it’s in person or online, it really is diabolical.

Whilst I was MIA I had one, very special lady message me to ensure that I was okay as I hadn’t been active online. That gesture itself made me well up as nobody has ever really done that for me, and it meant a lot that my presence was missed. Lucie Wheeler, you are a truly wonderful, inspirational and kind-hearted lady, and from the bottom of my heart I thank you for being there for me this week and every time before. You were (and are) the person I knew I could trust to message when I was feeling concerned, knowing full well you wouldn’t judge and just be the friend and support network you obviously knew that I needed. You truly are worth your weight in gold and I love you lots, thank you <3.

So yes, I am back. I received over 1,500 e-mails in the last week so if you have sent me an e-mail and I haven’t replied yet, sit tight and I will get to you. Thank you all again for the shares and fingers crossed the bully leaves me alone. Much love to you all <3.

New year, New..? No! #TWGTalks

help-1

Seeing as we are in a brand new year, I thought that I would revamp a feature from 2016 that seemed to be quite popular! If you’ve been following my blog since day one, you might remember ‘What’s on your mind TWG?’ where I took controversial book related subjects, and spoke about them. As you do. However, seeing as I am aiming to become a freelance writer (or thereabouts), I thought that it would be good to showcase my writing in the only way I know how: talking. I am called the WRITING Garnet after all!

So, the title of this post; ‘New Year, New..? No!’, it is pretty vague eh? We are now into a brand new year (well, 15 days into it, who’s counting?) and usually that comes with the ‘new year, new me’ and 134542473773 resolutions that are usually broken within 12 hours (I’m being generous). If you are one of the rare few that do actually keep their new years resolutions then that is excellent! However, do we really need to pile on the pressure every single year with the whole ‘new me’ fiasco? If you wanted to change part of your lifestyle or try something new, you could do that any day of the year and own it. Why is the nod from the New Year so important?

‘When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother what would I be, will I be pretty, will I be rich, here’s what she said to me’……

Go and be yourself and don’t give a fudgewallop what anybody else thinks!

You thought I was going to break into a bit of ‘Que sera sera’-ing didn’t you? My mum has actually said that line above by the way! Maybe not with those EXACT words, cough fudgewallop cough, but I am sure you get the gist. Did I listen to her though? Let’s just say that some human beans that I had the displeasure of being acquainted with, had other ideas for my confidence and self-worth. So yes, I did give a fudgewallop what everyone else thought of me and if I’m honest, I still do (to an extent). Recently I got betrayed by a person that I thought was a really good friend. They took my vulnerability and shredded it whilst trying to mould me into the person that THEY could ‘cope’ with. My illnesses, my struggles, my down days, the way I organised things in my home, everything – they all became problematic to that person. ‘What did you do?’ I hear you ask, I took a step back, removed their toxic asshat from my bubble and reviewed my life. Well, after bonding with tissues and coming to terms with the bullying & betrayal that is.

You’re probably wondering what my little story has to do with the new year, right? Fear not, I will explain…eventually. It dawned on me that I had spent most of my life changing myself to fit in with those around me, or making myself out to be something that I am quite clearly not. I lost sight of me, Kaisha. I didn’t know who I was, all I knew was what everyone else wanted me to be. But you know what? Nah, no more.

If you know me, you probably know my story (if not, it’s on a previous blog post, somewhere). You’ll know that my whole life is controlled by my body and things that I cannot see and cannot do anything about. Why the monkeybum would I want to then mould myself around other folk? I never knew that I was Play Doh!

Personally, New Year isn’t about creating a brand new you. By all means, if you want to do daring things, lose weight or have different aims in life, then go for it! You don’t need to become a brand new you to do that though, do you? If we stood in front of a mirror, it wouldn’t take us long to pick out all of the things that we dislike about ourselves. We have all done it, and we most probably will continue to do it. As Izzy from ‘A Year Of Saying Yes’ (part 1&2 are out now) by Hannah Doyle says; we don’t take the time to appreciate our lines, our beauty.

Don’t change yourself because we have entered a new year. Don’t change yourself because someone has a chip on their shoulder and your addition of salty sass ruins their vinegar. Make aims. Say YES to things (only if you want to though). Aim to become a better you, not a brand new you.

If it turns out that people cannot handle you, handle yourself and OWN IT. If you are having a asshat of a day and can’t stop crying; DON’T! It’s your life.

It’s YOUR song so YOU choose the dance.
New Year, I’m still me, and you’re still you.

Influenced by a book, TWG lets loose with her thoughts.. #honestpost #awareness #bullying

I need to type. I need to try and free my mind from whatever seems to be constricting it right now. I have no idea what that may be. All I know is that my mind feels trapped..
I have just finished reading a book that reopened many of my wounds, although to be honest, I’m not too sure that they were even fully closed. Throughout this post, the book title, author and overall information of it will remain anonymous. No, it’s not because I thought the book was rubbish, or any other negative views at all. The book was brilliant yet incredibly harrowing; yet I need to keep my thoughts of the book in my head for now.

I have been through many, many things in my life already. Most of which I have pretty much glazed over, acted like things are ‘fine’ and believed that my feelings and experiences aren’t worthy of peoples time…because others believe them not to be. How do you ever come back from that though? Being stuck in a place you have been made to feel as though it is the right place to be, yet all along it is wrong, and you have now lost the chance of breaking free.

When I was a little girl I used to be so afraid of growing up, yet I would dream of wearing sparkly clothes, having long, flawless hair and walking with such swagger and confidence. From the time I was a little girl to the time I became an adult, a lot of things changed. Innocence was lost and my dream of wearing sparkly clothes and walked with swagger, became no more. Instead, I just saw…black. There was no sparkle and no swagger. Instead, there was fear and trying to find my own way of surviving through the black times. Some people may use that moment to try and shine or to fight back, yet others may decide to think of everything as….FINE.
‘Are you okay?’ Yeah, I’m FINE.
‘Nothing on your mind?’ No, I’m FINE.
‘You look grumpy…’ I’m not, i’m just…FINE.

Instantly, you’ve lured yourself into a sense of false security. You know deep down that you’re not fine, but seeing as ‘fine’ seems to be your most favourable word, you tend to believe it.

The book that has influenced my thoughts tonight, has given me a real kick up the booty. It has made me realise that I need to learn to talk. I need to learn to talk about MY deepest and darkest feelings without feeling guilty. I need to realise that my feelings are just as important as JimBob’s across the road, or Phoebe’s in Central Perk…

Whilst it is extremely easy to realise those things, it is even harder to put them into practice, especially when you’re surrounded by people that seem to think that is okay to downplay your feelings and take away YOUR moment to express what you feel is important. Nobody has the right to do that, EVER. It is NOT theirs to take. Jodi Picoult made an extremely valid point (one of many) at her event recently. She was talking about what you should and shouldn’t say to a person of colour, and I also believe that those things should be taken into consideration with multiple other situations too. Jodi said that when you’re in a conversation with another person who is talking about their concerns, what you do NOT say is ‘ah I know someone with X Y & Z too’, or ‘that happened to me too’. Why? Because you then downplay their moment and cast it aside like it is of no importance, all because Clementine over the road is the same.

Whilst typing this waffle, it has made me realise even more so that I need to say F………….YOU to a lot of things and a lot of people, and say HIYAAAAAAAA to myself and my daughter. I can do it for her, I just don’t know how to do it for myself.

Maybe one day I will find the confidence to talk about situations that haunt me to this day, one that is even more important after reading that book. I will never rid myself of that situation completely, well, hardly a situation as such. All I know is, my experience of it may help others. If I can’t do it for myself, I will do it for them….whoever they are…it may even be you.

Over and out.
TWG.