The Biggest Thank-you

Last night was the book launch party for Nothing Everything Nothing and, as promised, here are the thank-yous and the fundraising facts to date.

FUNDRAISING

E-books sold: 4
Money raised: $4
Paperbacks sold: 88
Money raised: $176
Free will offering: $51.75
TOTAL: $231.75

EXPENSES

Food: ~$40
Posters: $10
Donated books: $12
**These expenses came out of MY half of the royalties on the books, not the half set aside for Kids Help Phone.

THANK-YOU

To family and friends who pre-ordered or reserved copies of the book:
Jill Simonite, Janet Ediger, John Ediger, Len Guilmette, Sara Gratton, Thea Clincke, Valerie Schreyer, Sheldon Schreyer, Melissa Schreyer, Stephanie Murphy, Tia Nemeth, Krista McCollum, Sheri DeSorcey, Fran Doyle, Mary-Louise Clincke, Kyla Balleny, Irene Klopack, Clara Chongva, Brenda and Gary, Carinna Rosales, the Grace Girls (Sue, Boo, Mo and Kitty)

A special thank-you to Diana Cameron who purchased ten copies to be donated to libraries and resource centers. We are working on a list of resource centers and libraries to send these copies to. Any suggestions are appreciated.

To family and friends who helped me spread the word:
Marianne Curtis, Andy Ganz, Angil Graftin, Sara Gratton, Jill Simonite, John Ediger, Thea Clincke

To family and friends who helped me with the launch:
John Ediger, Sara and Laurent Gratton, Janet and Lloyd Ediger, Thea and Frank Clincke, Jon Schreyer, Len Guillmette

To Mary-Louise Clincke and her daughter Marlee, for allowing me to use a photo of Marlee (who was my inspiration for Molly) in my promotions

To the Transcona Library for the room. And for their amazing children’s programs. I attended story time there as a child and got hooked on books young.

To Marianne Curtis for her support, and for the opportunity to do a little piggy-backing on the launch of her book, Rae of Hope.

To the Nanowrimo Facebook Group, for help with the promotional material and the writing of the book. They’re an amazing group.

To my beta and editor, Andy Ganz and Thea Clincke.

To Prairie Sky Books for agreeing to carry the book in their store.

To those who have, or plan to, post reviews or ratings of the book.

To my husband, Jon Schreyer, who is perfect. No, really, I mean that.

A LAST NOTE

It’s impossible to thank everyone who inspired, supported, and helped. But every one of them is in my heart. I hope to pay it forward by reading and reviewing as many indie books as possible.
It’s tempting to address those who did not believe, or did not support, and say “I told you so” but I won’t. It’s painful when family and friends don’t hop on board with the same level of enthusiasm that I feel for this project but I can understand the many reasons that hold them back and I don’t want to blame, shame, or guilt anyone. I don’t feel any resentment or anger, only understanding. I hope they will find causes that call to them.

WHAT’S NEXT?

There will be a book signing after mass at Anola Parish on November 30th to wrap up the fundraiser (and a short post detailing any increase in the amount raised). After that there will be a reading and an author’s fair at the Jake Epp Library in February – dates to be announced.
As for further books, the next one is started and I shall keep everyone updated on the status. I doubt it will be ready by February but it should be done by summer.

THANK-YOU

Advertisements

Rape Culture on Campus

There’s not much I can add to the following article. Please read the entire thing, even though the story is scary and the statistics are scary. Please, if you know anyone who is showing signs of PTSD or depression or major mood swings or mood changes, please get them help – these are all signs that they may have been assaulted and, as the article says, the first 3-6 weeks of the school year are when the freshmen girls are the most vulnerable.

I am sharing this link because I think EVERYONE should share this link. Copy the link to the article and share it on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and your blog. Everyone needs to be aware of this story, and the hundreds of untold stories like it.

http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/a-rape-on-campus-20141119?page=7

Please share this story. Please, if you are a victim, seek help. Reporting is hard, there is so much backlash, and a lot of resistance to change, but at the very least seek out counseling for yourself.

To all victims out there, it is my sincerest hope that one day rape will be a far rarer occurrence, one that is investigated promptly and properly, prosecuted effectively, and sees a higher rate of conviction. I hope that one day women will be able to come forward and say “I was raped” and be met with compassion instead of blame.

It’s All Connected

Bullying. Street harassment. Female genital mutilation. Rape culture. Slut shaming. Cyber bullying. Sexual harassment. Physical harassment. Abusive marriages. Child abuse.

It’s all connected.

One person, or group of people, seek to control another person, or group of people. They want to exert control or power over these others. They do it to feel in control They do it to feel powerful. They do it to feel big by making others appear small, or worthless. Their worth grows when they make others worth less.

Power. Control. And it’s a cycle.

There are two ways that this cycle is started and perpetrated. Fear and entitlement.

Fear.
A young boy has a bad experience. Maybe he is shamed or frightened by his religion. Maybe he is hurt or shamed or belittled by a parent or peer. He doesn’t like feeling small and afraid. He hides his fear behind a mask of bravado. He steals lunch money from kids because he likes to see the fear in their eyes. They are afraid of him and that makes him feel good. He teases kids because it makes others laugh. They admire him, and that makes him feel good, even if it’s at the expense of someone else’s feelings. He grows up and gets married to a women who will fear him and admire him. He keeps her in her place – maybe with threats, maybe with insults, maybe with his fists or by using sex as a weapon. They have kids and he can’t show them love because he doesn’t understand it. So he shows them strength and wants only their fear, calling it respect. He belittles them in front of others, shames them for their weaknesses and dreams. Those children see that their father is strong, and to be weak is bad and awful. And so they make a choice: bully or victim? What do you think most of them choose?

Entitlement.
You were born white so you’re better than the black kid. You are rich and that makes you better than the poor. You are Catholic and that makes you better than, well, everybody. Instead of trading feeling fear for causing fear, children who bully out of a sense of entitlement were handed a feeling of power at a young age. Skin colour, gender, wealth, sexual orientation, political leaning, religion, social connections, language. These are all things that people hold on to in order to feel entitled. Because you are inherently better than others you can do as you please, the rules don’t apply to you, everyone loves you for being you no matter what you do. And this too is passed on generation to generation.

These make the cycle of school bullying, abusive marriages, and child abuse fairly obvious. But how does this tie into street harassment, female genital mutilation, and rape culture? How can it not?

Power. Control. Fear. Entitlement.

Men trying to kiss and grope women on the street? Power. Control. Fear. Entitlement.
Female genital mutilation? A religious group trying to control the sexuality of women. Control and power.
Rape culture? You got it. Power. Control. Fear. Entitlement.

These focus on the genders and the power play between them. Men continuing to dominate women in a time and place that has declared gender equality. I’m not saying there aren’t double standards, because there are. And I’m not claiming that men are never victims, because they are. And I’m not claiming that women are never perpetrators, because they are. This is about power, and while we focus on men dominating women, there are men who seek to dominate other men, who take bullying to another level. There are women who seek to dominate, probably because they are part of the fear or be feared cycle.

How do we break the cycle?

Stand up. That’s the first step. If you see a bad situation, stand up. Don’t let that teenager steal someone’s lunch money, or call that girl with the thyroid problems “fat”, or that rape victim a “slut”. Don’t let that man say those nasty things to his wife. Don’t let that woman hit her child.

Raise awareness. Share blog posts and articles about any and all of these subjects. Start conversations. Announce loud and clear that you believe these things to be bad and wrong – IN ALL INSTANCES.

Support victims. Teach them that there are other options out there, other ways to be strong. Show them love and compassion and strength of character. Most victims believe they are doomed to remain victims forever. Or that they must become the aggressor to escape. We need to show them that isn’t the case.

End victim blaming and victim shaming. It’s not a woman’s fault she was raped, not even if she wore a skirt, not even if she accepted a drink at the bar, not even if she smiled and had a friendly conversation with the guy. SHE IS NOT TO BLAME. It is not a child’s fault that their parent abuses them. It is not the fault of the abused that they are abused.

Be aware of double standards. It’s okay for a man to sleep with lots of women but not okay for a woman to sleep with lots of men? It’s okay for men to be portrayed half-naked in comics, cartoons, and video games (Conan, Tarzan, He-Man, the Hulk …..) but not women? (Yeah, Gamergate, this is about you too). Female underwear models should reflect the “average” female body instead of the too-skinny, too-busty ideal but male underwear models are all muscle bound hotties? It’s okay for a black person to call someone “white boy” but it’s not okay for a white person to call someone “nigger”?

Educate. Teach children about the pain and trauma their words and actions can and do cause. Do not tell someone “words never killed anyone” because they have. Teach compassion, caring, empathy, and respect. Teach children to own their actions and accept consequence.

Do not promote ANY material that promotes hatred, bullying, or harassment. Do not buy books or movies that portray rape or abuse as acceptable. Do not buy books or movies that romanticize rape, stalking, or abuse. Do not buy books or movies that portray a rapist or bully as a hero UNLESS there is A LOT of character growth and reparation. Do not promote websites that promote hate speech directed at ANY group.

Just as all forms of bullying and harassment are connected, so are all target groups.

Women. Children. Mentally and physically handicapped people. Blacks. Natives. Jews. Muslims. People who are obese. People who smoke. Members of the LGBT community. Christians. Atheists. Immigrants. Refugees.

If it is wrong to torment one group it is wrong to torment ANY of these groups or any others I have missed.

It’s all connected. We’re all connected.

Of the Dead and Dying: Tales of the Apocalypse Review

Of the Dead and Dying: Tales of the Apocalypse is a collection of zombie stories put out by Witty Bard Publishing.

Snack Run by Erik Schubach – This story was short and sweet with sass and attitude.

All It Takes is One by Verex Sythe – A unique take on the zombie virus with good characters and fast-paced action. This appears to be a prologue or excerpt from a longer piece and it certainly intrigued me enough to go looking for the rest of the story.

Juggling Memories by Wayne Hills – CAUTION STORY SPOILERS – Rednecks and zombies. This story had dark humour and a disturbing moment that made me just a little squeamish. But it figures that two rednecks would turn a peaceful zombie return into a violent zombie apocalypse. And the gator? A great touch.

Death so Vivid by A.J. Brown – I swear I didn’t see the twist coming in this one. Aside from a well written plot twist I found little of interest in this story.

Mommy by Madeline Korver – As a mother this story disturbed me, but hey, it’s the zombie apocalypse, it’s supposed to be disturbing.

To Conquer the Sea by Joanna Maciejewska – This one was very unique and dealt more with the end of the world in general than with zombies specifically. I liked the detail and in depth story telling. I liked the snippets of character back story.

Trapped by Mathew McKiernan – Very short with an interesting first person narrative that ends with a bit of a cop out twist. I thought the main character was interesting enough to want to know what happened to him and I felt the ending was a bit of a let down.

Hungry? by Dana Alyce-schwarz – An interesting look at life continuing successfully during a zombie apocalypse. The author really made me hate one character in particular by building up hints and suggestions until dark truth made his ending so satisfactory. Love the tech and the way people just seem to go on with their lives.

World Gone Pale by Ellie Christina – This was a little esoteric for my tastes but it was well written with beautiful language.

Ice Harbour by Matt Potter – Another unique look at the zombie virus and what it does to people. I liked the narrative shift. The pacing was good, for the most part, but I think this story would have benefited from being longer.

Five Months by A.E. Santana – This was a heart wrenching story. OMG I was applauding the main character at the end. The end of the world will make monsters of us all, in one way or another. Wow.

Eat Me by Mac Jones – This was a cute story about a socially awkward young man trying to survive in a world full of zombies. He’s a bit of a sorry character but the ending was fun.

Under a Burning Sky by William Tham Wai Liang – A longer story and very detailed. I found this one dragged a little for me but it was still very interesting and looked at zombies as magical/spiritual instead of being created by a virus.

After the Waves Come by Veronica Crawford – This was an end of the world story without zombies and with a very strong female character. I loved her from the start and the ending was wonderful.

For Want of a Nail by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt – This story made me cry. Wow. What a strong character, you will love this main character instantly. And you will cry for him. And the gut wrenching revelation of the ending, ow. This was one of the best stories in the collection.

Overall the collection was well balanced between short and long stories, and contained many unique ideas and voices. There were enough light-hearted stories to off-set the natural darkness of the theme. I am not usually a fan of zombie stories but I recommend this collection to anyone who is.

4 stars.

The Universe Builders Review

The Universe Builders: Bernie and the Putty, is by Steve LeBel. The story follows the adventures of Bernie, a young god who has recently graduated from building school. He is hired by the major building company and to prove his worth as an employee must build an entire universe. Along the way he must thwart an old enemy who is out to destroy him – but he isn’t alone. Bernie finds friends and help along the way, and he finds a few surprises too.

I liked the premise of this story because it left me thinking. The pacing was easy and relaxed but never slow or boring. There were lots of surprises along the way but once the surprise popped out you felt silly for not guessing it before hand.

The characters were great. They were detailed, with their own personalities, but the story was never bogged down by complicated pasts or unnecessary back story. I especially liked the end twist with Billy.

The only criticism I have is why Billy and Bernie were allowed to work in the same department to begin with. As an employer, knowing what Ezrah knows, I would never have let the two of them anywhere near each other.

Otherwise I think the book was well written, the plot was complete and interesting, and the whole reading experience was enjoyable.

I still gave this book 5 stars because I loved it, criticism or not.

Prince in Exile Part 2 Review

Prince in Exile is a serial novel written by Helen J Bradley. Books 1-3 are available on Amazon. The book follows Prince Teuvo of a fictional European nation after he is chased from his home by a rebellion. The story is set in the 1970s.

Being a serial, each part is very short, only a few chapters long. But her rate of release is very quick, with the next one due in December (I believe). My biggest complaint is that they are too short. I want to read the whole thing in one sitting! But then I remember that it is a serial and that I only have to wait a few weeks for the next installment – not years!

I love the characters, I love the way Helen has transported me back to the 70s, I love the intrigue, I love the loving, I love the secrets, I love the tension and the insecurities, I love the quick pacing!

I highly recommend this serial, with the warning that it does contain M/M, M/F, and M/M/F scenes (not all of that in every installment, but you’ll get a little of everything as you work your way through the series). It’s not the most explicit book I’ve read but it’s steamy!

Still, every time I get a new book in this series it gets bumped straight to the top of my TBR pile.

FIVE STARS.

#NotJustHello

I have never been harassed. I’ve never been grabbed, groped, followed, or catcalled. But, I grew up in a quiet corner of a small city. I now live in a rural area. I have never been harassed, and I’m thankful for that. But I know my lack of negative experience in this area doesn’t negate or diminish what other women have gone and are going through.

For those just tuning in, a video was posted of one woman’s experiences. She walked New York for 10 hours with a camera crew recording the catcalls, the lewd comments, the guys who followed her for several blocks at a time, and other forms of street harassment.

Of course this video has started a lot of controversy online and has spawned the hashtag #NotJustHello. Women are banding together and coming forward, using this hashtag to share experiences of street harassment. Look it up on Twitter, or check out these sites for examples and back story:

http://www.bustle.com/articles/46996-notjusthello-exposes-how-all-women-even-young-girls-are-vulnerable-to-street-harassment-and
https://storify.com/ajstream/when-notjusthello-means-catcalling-grabbing-and-ha?utm_content=buffera7289&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
https://www.upworthy.com/she-explains-why-so-many-women-dont-say-hello-the-reason-is-absolutely-chilling?c=utw1&utm_content=buffereff61&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

There are some good questions coming out of this. Men saying “I’m not a creep, I’m just being friendly when I say hello” and the response “But she may have had one to many bad encounters to trust your simple hello” and “The jerks are ruining it for the nice guys.”

Discussing this with a friend today she said “It would go a long way if the ‘nice guys’ stood up for women, if they slapped down men who were being inappropriate”. She has a point. ‘Nice guys’ aren’t on Twitter saying “this has to stop” they’re saying “why are you picking on me?” even though this isn’t about them.
(Disclaimier: I have read and retweeted tweets from males who are supporting #NotJustHello – not all nice guys are twisting this into a conversation about men.)

“But this is just one woman’s experience” has been said multiple times, to the woman in the video, and the woman who started #NotJustHello. But women are proving that wrong. And as my friend said “One woman is still one woman too many.”

A lot of good points have been raised about psyche and culture – Men are raised as hunters, women as prey; the double standard between genders; tough guys seduce women; women must be polite and entertaining and sweet, even to strangers, even to creepy strangers; stranger danger, which we teach all children, no longer applies to grown women who are expected to give their home numbers to complete strangers on demand; girls as young as ten are targets for grown men.

This comes along side allegations against Jian Ghomeshi, a radio host at CBC, and allegations of sexual misconduct by two Canadian MPs on Parliament Hill. It comes alongside a friend of mine being asked to speak out about why women who are raped don’t come forward.

Maybe women don’t come forward because they are faced with comments like “Be grateful for the attention” “Appreciate the compliment”. Now it’s a compliment to have someone touch you without permission? It’s a compliment for a stranger to follow you home, putting you and your family at risk?

We’re so busy worrying about Ebola, and ISIS, and Russia taking over parts of the Ukraine. We’re worried about human rights in the far reaching corners of the globe, but what about human rights in our own backyards? What are we doing about grown men who tell ten-year-old girls that the have “dick sucking lips”? Or groping twelve and thirteen-year-olds on the bus?

This isn’t the only place where the culture of the Western World is falling apart. The situation of African Americans was recently spotlighted by police violence in the Southern States. A three-year-old boy was killed by his mother and her boyfriend only days ago. Phoenix Sinclair was killed years ago in Manitoba and CFS is still trying to fix its system. In Canada Native American women disappear at an alarming rate, or are abused. There is a class action law suit against the Alberta Child and Family Services Agency for failure to act on reports of abuse. There are outrageous double standards between the genders, and it goes both ways.

I know I’ve been focusing on my book launch and bullying in my last dozen or so posts and this does tie in. In NOTHING EVERYTHING NOTHING Molly has shirtless and topless photos of her shared without her permission. She has strangers making sexual requests of her. For a socially awkward, insecure 16-year-old girl, this is more than she can handle.

This is bullying. This is abuse.

Thank-you for speaking up and speaking out. Nothing changes if we don’t know there is a problem. Awareness and conversation is always the first step and I greatly admire the women who are taking that first step even though it means being bombarded with hate and abuse.

ARC: Nothing Everything Nothing – by Casia Schreyer

It's All About Books

brnothingeverythingnothing

Title: Nothing Everything Nothing
Author: Casia Schreyer
Genre: YA, Contemporary
First published: October 23rd 2014
Finished reading: November 3rd 2014
Pages: 218
Rating 4,5

No matter what other people think, you have to love you enough to want to be in this world. You have to love you enough to see your strenghts and your value even in the face of failure.

*** A copy of this book was kindly given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Casia Schreyer! ***

myrambles1review

Wow. Books don’t leave me speechless often, but Nothing Everything Nothing is definitely one damn impressive novel. Casia Schreyer touches sensitive themes as teenage insecurity, (virtual) bullying, sexual harassment and suicide attempts without it becoming a boring lecture. It left me thinking of my own high school experiences and that nowadays it has become even easier to completely ‘destroy’ the life a teenager through websites like Facebook…

View original post 417 more words

Nothing Everything Nothing – A Book Launch for a Good Cause

Cover image by Evan Wilman. Author promo photo taken by Sara Gratton.

Cover image by Evan Wilman. Author promo photo taken by Sara Gratton.

Bullying touches us all at least once in our lives. A thoughtless comment from a parent, a petty remark from a classmate, a bad encounter with a co-worker – these are the mildest forms of bullying. For some people bullying is something they cannot escape. It is constant belittling from one or both parents. It is constant torment from peers. It is being ostracized, discriminated against, or sabotaged in the work place on a daily basis.

Constant. Deliberate. Intended to insult and hurt the victim while making the instigator feel ‘big’.

Bullying doesn’t go away. Even when you reach a point where no one in your life is really harassing you any longer the affects of bullying can make life difficult. You feel socially awkward. You are wary of new people for they may be bullies. You are self-conscious. That’s if you survive the bullying.

Poster designed by Andreas Ganz. Book cover image provided by Evan Wilman. Photography of author promo picture by Sara Gratton.

Poster designed by Andreas Ganz. Book cover image provided by Evan Wilman. Photography of author promo picture by Sara Gratton.

Bullying isn’t a joke. Suicide isn’t a joke.

I have learned a lot about suicide while researching for this book. I have learned that so many things we say intending to help people recovering from suicide attempts are really hurting them. I have learned that this isn’t something that is ever fully overcome. I have learned that there is an immediate, ongoing, desperate need for trained individuals who know how to help and who are easily accessible.

That is why I made this book about more than just me. This isn’t about money. This isn’t about fame. This is about teenagers. This is about being aware of the power social media has. This is about understanding suicide. This is about being aware of what you are saying and how it affects people. This is about supporting a cause that is out there trying to help teens in crisis.

There are so many groups out there: Big Brothers and Big Sisters, YM/YWCA, Kids Help Phone and other crisis hotlines and chat groups, CFS and CPA, and many many more.

I chose Kids Help Phone because they are Canadian, because they work hard to be there 24/7 for all youth in any crisis, and simply because I believe in their mission. I want to raise awareness so things get better for teens. And I want to raise money for Kids Help Phone so they can make things easier for teens.

cover 2

This book isn’t about me. This book is about my cousin, Marlee, and how she is fighting to stay positive even when she feels like cutting. This is about her friends and family and foster mother, all of whom are trying to build her up while the world tries to tear her down.

This book is for every teen who has ever felt like there was nothing left to live for.

Show your support for our teens. Reblog this post. Reblog my other posts about teen suicide. Write your own post about depression and suicide. And if you want to help me raise money for Kids Help Phone, then please, buy a copy of the book. It just received a five star review – you can find it on Good Reads. (And that’s all the self promotion I’m indulging in today)

Let’s get the anti-bullying conversation started. Let’s stand up for our teens.