One of These Days

Twenty-two. Twenty-two. What about you? Probably around there, too, huh? In high school, I remember glorifying the image of the old man author. This can probably be blamed on reading mostly fantasy and science fiction, but the whole idea is a weird one. Quite simply, most of my favorite writers were old white men. As a young white man who could hardly focus and finish any of the rubbish I was writing at the time, the elder sage seemed to be an upper echelon of writing serenity that only comes with time and wisdom. If you’re reading this, you might like words, or art in general, just as I do. You might be in college, as well, or just young, busy, and in debt. Finding time to hone your craft into something you feel like could or should be shared with the world may seem out of reach—a dog on a treadmill forever chasing the dangling meat on the end of a fishing line.

Well. One of the many, many life lessons I’ve had to learn in the past few years is about goals and how to reach them. There is no echelon, no serene utopia that time and age delivers to you with gentle hands. It’s a process, writing, as are most things. The pyramids weren’t built in a day and Stephen King didn’t write The Stand in a single spectacular moment of genius. Well, maybe he did, to be honest. Guy was doing A LOT of drugs. But anyhow, don’t do drugs and don’t expect to be the writer of tomorrow today before noon. I can recall one of my favorite fantasy authors, Patrick Rothfuss, recounting the evolution of his hit series, The Kingkiller Chronicles. The idea, birthed early on, developed over a course of years, muddled with years of getting that bachelors and then masters. His writing went on a journey with him. That’s real life. The process doesn’t cut through a space-time rift and come out on the other side successful and rich. If only, huh?

So, yeah, we’re young and busy. Maybe you’re middle aged and busy! Or old and busy! Whether you’re still learning how to navigate blossoming and burdensome adulthood or have come a long way already, the process is right there for you. It hasn’t moved. Start somewhere. Months ago… no, goodness, it’s almost been a year now, I jotted down some ideas for a story on my phone while I waited for my car to come out of the shop. Gotta rotate those tires, people! Anywho, that story is maybe sitting at eight or so pages now. I want it to be a novella… so, yeah, still a ways to go. Sometimes I rip on that bad boy, sometimes I forget about it for months. But it’s a good idea that I won’t let die off. And I haven’t, as of yet. If you would have told me all those months ago that I’d only be about a third or so through the tale, I’d be frustrated. I’ve rewritten and revisited. But, you know what, I kept writing it and believing in it.

You make time for what you value. I shudder to think of where I could be now if I replaced all that time scrolling through my phone with writing, planning, and learning. Sure, I might verbally blame it on a busy work or school schedule, but I know the truth. I have to value that process and believe in it more. Get down and dirty with the process. Let it make a fool of me and call me mean names. Confront the process. Write and direct an anime battle scene with the process. Keep going until the process does a heel-turn and becomes a good pal. And so should you. Crack open that six month old Word document, I triple-dog dare you. I am getting older. Don’t quite like the idea of being the “one of these days I’ll…” guy at dinner parties. If it is inside you, don’t Tetris it around anymore. Start somewhere. Good luck.

To See Yourself

I’ve always felt slightly different from other people, but I could never put my finger on what exactly it was that made me different. None of my friends seemed to feel the same way I did about certain things; my feelings weren’t portrayed by characters in the movies and shows I watched, and never appeared in the books I read. I assumed I was some weird anomaly and I would have to deal with feeling like I was alone on the subject for the rest of my life.

I was never able to understand my feelings before I found my place. I had no representation to compare myself to and help me navigate the rocky waters of understanding my sexuality. The young adult books I read dealt heavily with romance; whenever there were mentions of a character that didn’t fit the norm of sexual attraction they were disregarded and labeled weird, which didn’t help younger me feel any better about myself. The books released within the last couple of years have become much more inclusive than the books I was reading back in high school, when I was questioning myself. Even though there is more inclusivity, there are still groups being left out; it hasn’t been until the last year that I even was able to see characters like myself on the pages of books. Last December I was finally able to put a name to my differentness, I figured out I fall somewhere on the asexual spectrum in the LGBT+ community.

A few months ago I read the young adult novel Puddin’ by Julie Murphy; it was the first book that made me feel seen. There is a character, although they’re a side character they’re still a large part of the story, that identifies as ace and goes about explaining what exactly asexuality is; how there are so many different facets that people can fit into on the ace spectrum. After reading that scene, I remember putting the book down, taking a deep breath, and then clutching it to my chest with a gigantic smile as my eyes watered—for once in my life I could see myself represented. Let me tell you, it felt so good to see a character like me. There is no other feeling in the world that’s like seeing yourself represented.

Diversity has come a long way in literature from where it used to be, but there are still so many other identities that have yet to have their time to shine. I hope we get to see more of them represented because they deserve it. Everyone deserves to feel like they are represented; whether it be because of their ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. EVERYONE deserves to have that moment where they go, oh shit, that character’s just like me. I want others to have the same feeling I had when I first saw a character that was like me, and made me feel less alone in my journey of discovering who I am. Like I said, we’ve come a long way with diversity, but we still have a very long way to go.

How to Make a Million Bucks

I discovered my passion for writing by accident. I didn’t have a passion for writing right away, but I had the confidence to be the best. Writing was a huge part of my life during high school. In high school I won a poetry contest celebrating Oklahoma’s centennial celebration, which culminated in earning a college scholarship for creative writing. With my scholarship secured, I decided to pursue a church music degree at a Christian university instead of a writing degree.

If you’re wondering, I’m not a worship leader now. As an undergrad, I left the Christian school, and I went to the University of Central Oklahoma where eventually I dropped out. I partied too much, and I didn’t attend class. I started at UCO with a 3.5 and I left with a 0.08. I was determined to fail. What I needed now was a career change.

My career of choice was a maintenance man at my local church denomination. I spent my days fixing light bulbs, changing toilets, and fetching tools for my boss like an obedient dog. Eventually, this direction bored and it offered no purpose to my life. Cleaning toilets, helping old women move light stands, and stealing snacks from department break rooms didn’t suffice anymore. At the time I needed change, and I needed it fast. This epiphany hit me one summer day. 

This summer day was hot—one hundred degrees with one hundred percent humidity. Cleaning windows forty feet above the ground, for the umpteenth day in a row, is enough to make any man rethink his decisions. I said to myself, “I hate this. I don’t want to do it anymore.” Then, I concocted a plan to attend school again. Hot, hard labor made this man want that cushioned desk job. This epiphany wasn’t the only factor in deciding to be a writer; listening to sports radio was inspirational too.

One day I drove down 36th toward a postal office located on the service road. I was listening to The Sports Animal, waiting for recaps about the previous night’s Thunder game. A commercial came on before the recap. It was narrated by a Methodist preacher, and he told a story about how a woman discovered pie making. She made pies out of necessity to support her family, and she started selling them to the public. Eventually, the business was sold to a large corporation for nearly a hundred million dollars.


The preacher asked her, “How’d you make so much money?”

She replied, “I found something I was good at and did it.”

“That’s it!” I shouted, thinking back to how I received a college scholarship for writing in high school. After that, I decided on to go back to school. I started my journey as a writer and finally obtained my bachelors in English.

I’ve now worked several jobs as a writer or pertaining to writing. I’ve been a photojournalist, writing tutor, editorial intern, freelance writer, freelance editor, script editor, copywriter, copy editor, social media manager and marketing intern—where I discovered a passion for graphic design. Each position has challenged me as a writer and challenged my creativity. Currently, I am a grad assistant for the New Plains Review, which is a literary journal at the University of Central Oklahoma. This is my grandest achievement out of all my attempts at being paid as a writer.

That damn radio commercial has influenced my decisions for the past decade. Don’t ask me how to make a million bucks just yet. So far, I’ve only made a couple hundred. But I guarantee, I’ll let you know when it happens!

3 Tips to Start Managing Your TBR List

We all know, as book lovers, that a To Be Read (TBR) list is something that never seems to go away. The list only seems to grow because we buy more books, but have less time to read them. However, my resolution for 2017 is to start managing my TBR list more effectively. I’ve come up with some tips to help you, and me, to accomplish this!

via GIPHY

  1. Get Organized!

First thing to do to get started on all those unread books is to get them organized. I have a bad habit of just putting books wherever they will fit because I own so many, which is clearly not productive to accomplishing any reading. Instead of having to search for those books all over your shelves, make an actual TBR list or put all your TBR books in one place. (You can even organize by genre or year of publication.) Alyssa, our Director of Public Relations, suggests putting all your TBR titles in a jar and then drawing one at random to add a little spontaneity. But no matter how you organize your TBR books, having all of your titles in one place that is easy to access is the first step to tackling your list.

  1. Make Time to Read!

As a college student, I understand that making time to read isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Scheduling time to read is a surefire way to start making an impact on that TBR list. One way I make time to read is by rewarding myself. This is how I justify taking thirty minutes away from college or work. If I’ve worked hard all day, I feel like taking a little time for myself to read and unwind is well deserved. Not only am I stepping away from the stress of reality, but I am working on a personal goal.

Printable poster can be found at etsy shop EtOfficina.
  1. Join a Book Club

For me, joining a book club has made it much easier to tackle my list. Not only do I have an organized list of books that we are planning to read, but I have people to discuss these books with. Having people reading the same books as me not only makes my reading more productive, but also challenges me to keep up with the reading and not slack on our reading schedule. So join an already existing book club or create one with your friends! Reading one book every two to three weeks, depending on length, has made managing my TBR a possibility.

There’s three tips to get you started on your TBR list. If you have any tips of your own that we haven’t mentioned, please feel free to share in the comments below! Happy reading!

via GIPHY

5 Booktubers to Get You Started

It’s no secret that I can waste plenty of time on YouTube. It’s a black hole. I start off with a “just for a few minutes” mindset, checking what some of my favorite Youtubers may have uploaded, and then five hours later, I’m learning how to do Yoda costume makeup for absolutely no reason.

YouTube is a community of communities where there is something for everyone: makeup lovers, gamers, musicians, belly dancers in training, you name it. Book lovers are not excluded, as they shouldn’t be.

BookTube is a glorious place where readers can unite for our common love: books! You just have to know where to look. If you aren’t familiar with it, here are a few booktubers that you can start off with. If you are, maybe we’ve mentioned one of your favorites.

1. Ariel Bissett

Quirky, charming, entertaining, Ariel is a personal favorite. Her channel is one full of book reviews, poetry, writing tips, and creativity. She’s delightful to watch and just plain adorable, and between you and me, she is living the dream life. Who doesn’t want to live in London?

Here’s one of my personal favorite videos:

2. WellDoneBooks (Max)

If you’re looking for more literary, analytical reviews of your favorite books, or of a book you’re hoping to make a favorite, Max is the booktuber for you. His channel is loaded with book reviews from memoirs like Heart of  Glass by Wendy Lawless to fun novels like The Girls by Emily Kline. He gives insightful opinions so that you never have to wonder, “Is this the book for me?”

Check out his most recent video:

3. polandbananasBOOKS (Christine Riccio)

Christine is certainly one of the more energetic booktubers out there and is perhaps my favorite on this list. Her videos are fun and highly engaging. And with her upbeat, all over the place attitude, it’s hard to get bored when watching her videos. She does “booktalks,” often with popular authors, book hauls, and reviews of TV shows and movies.

Get to know her here:

4. PadfootndProngs07 (Raeleen Lemay) 

Raleen is a wonderful choice in BookTube entertainment, especially if you are like this blogger and have a passion for YA fiction. She has read and mentioned perhaps every possible book that YA readers could love and put on their TBR lists. As a bonus, she does a monthly unboxing of Owlcrates, YA book and swag subscription boxes.

Here’s a book tag!

And last, but not least:

5. jessethereader (Jesse)

Jesse is a joy to watch and keeps things interesting. He’s energetic and genuine and truly loves his books. He keeps his book reviews entertaining and produces lots of fun content, including plenty of challenge videos. And I am very jealous of his library.

Another fun book tag to check out:

Of course, there are plenty of other wonderful booktubers that didn’t make it to this list, but we all have to start somewhere. There is a whole book-loving world to be discovered and it’s waiting for you. But if you are already a BookTube aficionado and we haven’t mentioned one of your faves, feel free to share in the comments below! Have a great day, everyone, and go explore BookTube!