Friday, April 25, 2014

Why I'm Excited about my First One-out-of-Five-Star Review

So today has started out on an interesting note... I've been officially humbled by my first 1/5-star rating of Wings of the Divided on Goodreads.

If you're wondering whether or not I feel like throwing myself off a bridge, I absolutely do not! I'm in fact not upset about this (unless it's the start of a string of bad ratings, which would be unsettling). Seriously though, I have been waiting--anticipating it, really--for a couple of years now for someone to read this book and give it the ol' one-star slammer.

Why would I be so masochistic, you ask?

Because it means the book is finally reaching a wider audience.

A lot of indie books have only a handful of reviews online, 6-9 seems to be the number, and all the reviews are filled with holly jolly praise. It could mean that everyone likes the book, but to me, if there's nothing but good reviews of a book, it makes me suspicious that the book hasn't made it out of the author's circle, you know: friends, family, acquaintances, friends of friends. And if the only people who read your book are people you know or people with whom you've had some sort of personal contact, the chances of getting a bad review are pretty low. People don't want to piss each other off, as a rule, so they'll be "nice" even if they hated a book.

I appreciate that this person who read my book was not nice. I appreciate the fact that my book has finally gotten "out there" to complete strangers who do not like what I have to offer. It means my audience has widened. It means that this book has gotten visibility, and that people are giving it a chance and being honest.

I also think that bad reviews pique people's interest in a book or movie or any artistic medium. If I am considering reading a book and it's got both high ratings and low ratings, that makes me curious to find out whether I'll be among those who liked it or hated it. It generates more curiosity for me as a reader.

My only wish was that this person had written an actual review to go along with the one-star-rating so I could know exactly why she did not like the book.

Did she get bored and simply not finish it?

Was it because there was no romance?

Did she find it sacrilegious?

Did she find it too religious?

Was it silly to her?

Was it too dark for her?

Did she think the writing sucked?

Did she hate the characters?

I'll never know. All I know is she didn't like it.

If you're an author, what do you think of bad reviews? Do they get you down in the dumps or are you weird like me and find yourself strangely happy for them? Share in the comments!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

2014's Main Street Art Festival Find

Despite my persistent, 9-day chest bug, or whatever the heck it is, I went out to the Fort Worth Main Street Art Festival because it would've broken my heart to have missed it. I've gone every year for the past few years now, so it's a nice little tradition. Each year, Drew and I find something artistic to add to the house. Though a little uncomfortable physically, I had a great time as usual, and it even helped to get my mind off being sick. Here's this year's find!

The artist's name is Craig Lossing, and he seems like a really groovy, laid-back kinda guy.

I believe he said he made the piece out of maple wood from Washington state. One side is smooth and varnished, but the interesting side is all bumpy and contoured; it's what the untouched bark looks like on the inside.

I love how unique it is. It'll be fun to move it around the house and show it to visitors. 

Those little curly do-dads came as an extra bonus. There's an indention in the top with plastic insert that you can fill with water and then put a fresh flower or two in it. I think it's a nice addition to the home. :]

I was really tempted to buy a piece from another artist named Betsy Youngquist. I opted for the wood vase, though, since we're on a budget with my not working and going to school full time. Anyway, Youngquist's work is super fantastical and almost creepy but in a pretty way. Maybe I'll get something from her booth next time.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Wrapping up my Very First ESL Teaching Experience

Last week, I wrapped up teaching my 3-month ESL course where I'm volunteer teaching as an intern. It was a bittersweet graduation day, handing out those certificates and then sharing a potluck lunch with the students.

Even though there was a language barrier during the semester (I have *got* to brush up on my Spanish this summer), I really felt like I got to know my Beginner Level adult students by their personalities. And I learned a lot about teaching ESL, too.

It's my first semester in grad school, and my first semester getting any sort of education in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), so going into this internship, I felt pretty overwhelmed and terrified of teaching the Intro Level, where the students barely knew a few English words. And there were times I failed miserably in my effort to figure out what I was doing. But by my last day of teaching, the students actually gave me a round of applause. They thanked me countless times for teaching them, some even telling me that I was a good teacher. What a reward! And I have to say, I'm going to really miss these ladies. I found I like teaching Level Zero! Next up, I'm going to be teaching the Level Four (most advanced) class, so that'll be a whole new learning experience for me, and another great opportunity to make a difference. Looking forward to the future!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Springy Post

It appears Spring has finally arrived! This is a picture of the neighbor's tree from my backyard. All of a sudden the trees in our neighborhood just started sprouting green. So pretty :]

Never-mind that here in North Texas it is now Tornado season. I'm just glad the bipolar winter weather seems to have come to a stop down here in the south. No more ice, only romantic thunderstorms, which, like romance, can sometimes be quite destructive! But let's hope that this year they won't.

The springy weather has even convinced me that I might be able to garden if I give it another try. For those of you who know me, you'll know that I have struggled with turning my "black thumb" green. I've managed to kill bamboo and tillandsias, which are supposed to be a cinch to keep alive. (Note: do not put peppermint oil in your bamboo's water to kill mosquito eggs. It kills the plant instead.) But, hey, you learn with each trial, right? Plus, I'm in a different place now than I was last year, so I'm giving gardening a go once again. This time, I'm starting out with a little oregano plant:

I have dreams of a huge vegetable garden to cook with, but I'll start small with herbs.

I've gotta admit, this springy weather is making it a little harder to stay focused on grad school! I want to go outside and play, but I've got about a month and a half left with the semester, so I'm making sure I keep it #1 priority, despite the arrival of the sun and pleasant temperatures. Even Kaiser is helping me to stay on track:

The spring weather has inspired some thrift-store shopping, which is always great this time of year because people are cleaning out their homes and dumping treasures at these stores. Thrift stores are especially great for finding books! Adding to a couple of books that were loaned to me by a friend and another one given to me by my dad, I've built myself quite the TBR pile for summer. Take a look! (And this isn't even including the beach-read/romances that I'm keeping by my bed - I read those to help fend off the nightmares that my creative yet morbid mind dreams up.)

Fall used to be my favorite season, and maybe it still is, but I sure am loving Spring this year. It's such a great representation of Fresh Starts and a great reminder that life does go on, it finds its peaceful center again, even after rough times. 

What do you think of Spring? Is it your favorite of the four seasons? Why/why not?