Friday, December 28, 2012


But do I, really? No. While I see the value of blogging, I feel like there are so many more things on which my time could be spent. Such as reading. Or making jewelry. Or writing (yes, I realize that blogging is technically writing).

Whining done. Content appear.

As I've mentioned before, writing is not my only hobby (I use that word lightly). The reason I mention this? Because I am constantly confronted with decisions based on how I use my time. Whether it be refilling my stock of handmade jewelry, experimenting with photographic and printmaking processes, making candles, or writing, time is always on my heels. I even had a patron at a store opening a couple weeks ago look at me--after reviewing my work and hearing on my recently published book--ask me point blank if I had any "free time."

Maybe this is where I've gone wrong. Maybe not. All of these things I do are justified as activities I do in my "free time." I keep my prices low, don't concern myself with the dollar amount I make on each book I sell, or worry about how much I am earning/paying myself hourly for these "tasks" because they are done in my free time. And, if anything, shouldn't free time be FREE?

Sure, it may not pay the bills...yet...but I enjoy it. People enjoy my work. I enjoy people enjoying my work. A good step toward nirvana, eh?

Minus the frustration that I never have enough of it. Yes, I could manage my time better. I could narrow my scope of projects. But would I be happy? Probably not. Would I like more time? Hell, yes. Plus, I kind of like being that multi-faceted friend that everyone kind of wants to strangle...

Really what has made me tell you all of this, what is at the root of this post, is something another blogger recently wrote. While I can't find the actual post, the author wrote something along the lines of "You are only as good of a writer as the last books you've read." This caught my attention because, as writing has not been the topmost item on my list of many to-dos, I've been reading much more lately.

I'm the first to admit that what I read affects what and how I write. I try to avoid vampire type stories when I'm in the thick of it. For example, this summer HBO's "True Blood" nearly sent me into a spiral of self-degredation and despair. Really, except for minor, tangential details "Benajah's Keeper" is nothing like the Sookie Stackhouse novels. Another good one? After reading "The Hunger Games" trilogy (twice over in the course of 3 days), I could not stop writing in present tense. It took a good long while to shake that one.

Please don't take this as I am easy manipulated or have a weak sense of voice. I blame years of parrot-ing knowledge--the only way to survive at my job. I just absorb things like that.

So I began to think over the last couple books I've read. Nothing too serious, for sure. My friend who works at the local library brought home some donated YA books that I snatched up in an instant, including Cate Tiernan's "Balefire" series.

Now, I looooooved her "Sweep" series in high school, a scary six years ago. But I also loooooooooved "The Animorphs" at age ten. Needless to say, perception is everything.

So I started this four book saga with nostalgic hope. And cheese and rice, it was terrible. Like really, really awful. Being me, I finished all the books, though sorely disappointed (it's very rare that I don't finish a has to seriously disturb me or bore me to death).

Afterwards I realized this is the shit (for lack of a better word) with which I've been filling my precious free time. PRECIOUS FREE TIME. As old as it makes me feel, I think I can officially say I am DONE with YA literature. There's just too much fluff...and seriously if one more girl falls in love with some awesomely hott guy for ABSOLUTELY NO FUCKING REASON one more time, I might take drastic measures.

I'm not saying the romance portion of my plot is perfect, but I can guarantee that I agonized over it. The "Why does he love her?" and several other similar phrases are questions I constantly ask myself. And yes, sometimes it ultimately does not matter why. But I feel, as a responsible creator of these characters, I should ask myself the same questions they should be asking themselves.

Needless to say, I've moved on to more "adult" literature--not to say that I haven't read my fair share of age appropriate novels. I'm currently reading "Cloud Atlas" and love it so far. It's wonderful to see the different uses of language and dialect. Plus, the motifs and interconnectivity within all the story lines are wonderful.

But more on that later...when I've finished reading.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I got my my first editorial review back this week! Take a look!

Clarion Review

Benajah's Keeper

Aeryn Dougan CreateSpace 978-1-4775-6232-1 Five Stars (out of Five)

Aeryn Dougan’s luscious debut romance novel, Benajah’s Keeper, introduces Evanna Amaranthine, a cool, calculating vampire who protects humanity by killing and sucking the blood of heinous criminals. She carries out instructions given to her by Keeper, the head of the vampire fortress in which she lives—a place known as Benajah.

What begins as a seemingly typical mission to assassinate a threat to Benajah turns upside down when Evanna finds herself questioning Keeper’s truthfulness. She also begins having dreams of a past life and experiencing vulnerabilities she once disdained as the province of her ostensibly weak-willed, human-loving vampire friend, Zak, and those pesky humans themselves. Worse still, she finds herself falling in love with a human.

Although billed as a romance, this nuanced novel, in fact, straddles genres. In a masterstroke, the book begins with a Bible-like prologue about how vampires were created with the blessing of God. By connecting vampires to the Creation story, the author gives the beings a mythic, sacred quality not generally found in works about vampires.

As the bloodsuckers struggle to balance their human and vampiric qualities, as well as their relationship to their prey, the plot plants itself firmly within the personal realm of finding oneself. The inner conflict Evanna experiences is combined with outside threats from menacing vampires, evoking the timelessness of a battle-laden epic while exploring age-old themes of love, war, and identity.
The human and vampire characters are well drawn, although Evanna’s aloofness initially makes her irritating. Her transformation from emotionally unavailable to deeply feeling occurs with layered realism. Even though the protagonist’s love interest has the annoyingly symbolic name of Messiah, he nevertheless manages to transcend traditional Christ-like attributes and become a believable character. Readers will also find themselves invested in the doings of the secondary characters because they are similarly multilayered, even the villians.

Dougan enriches vampire lore by creating a fascinating code by which these beings live
and a society of guilds that they inhabit. Anyone tired of standard-issue vampire fare will welcome the complexity the author brings to her bloodsuckers. For those who enjoy tales of reincarnation, the past-life vignettes integrate themselves seamlessly into the present-day plot. Both teen and adult audiences will find themselves drawn to Benajah’s Keeper.

                                                                                        Jill Allen