Two Reviews Tuesday

During May, Ace Book Club featured Rachel Sharp’s books and since it’s the last day in May I thought I’d bring you my review of the series so far!

This book is one of the realist apocalypse books I might ever have the pleasure of reading. It was at times refreshing, charming in it’s humor, and scary as a reader who is realizing along with Mab that we aren’t so ready for the end of the world. It was both encouraging to see a person react realistically to the world going to suck, and unnerving (because that shit is hard.) I also feel like I should re-did just so I can highlight all my favorite jokes, but will be checking out the sequels when they come out!

★★★★★ |  Amazon  |  Goodreads

 

The sequel is  so realistic downloaded a survival app. I wouldn’t say Rachel writes the most realistic characters in the sense that you view them the same as you would your living friends, more so like an artist who makes such a realistic painting that the only word that captures both the true to life and work of art qualities is “masterpiece”. I’d definitely buy this book and maybe a wilderness guide.  Even better than the first.

★★★★★ | Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

 

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Understanding ableism is a piece of cake!

Do you like my sweet clickbait-like title? Surprise, I meant it literally! I’ve noticed that people understand topics better if explained with food, so today let’s talk about how simply saying “just stop worrying” and similar things without any consideration is a form of ableism.

Most recipes go from scratch to complete, but since I’m trying to deconstruct an issue I’d like to work backwards. Consider all platitudes about positive attitude, mind over matter, and yoga as the sprinkles on a cake. Some cake doesn’t even have sprinkles, but to some those sprinkles are life changing. But no matter how many rainbow flecks of candy you pour onto something, if the cake underneath has problems, they aren’t going to help all that much, if at all.

The next level is the frosting. For a lot of cakes, the frosting covers almost every inch. So much of a cake (and person) to others is this outward appearance. This is how you get sayings like “Oh, you don’t look disabled” or “I’d never know you suffer with depression.” You can’t see the cake. Relatedly, you don’t know what type of cake it is by looking at it. One can only assume, sometimes to a harmful degree, what’s inside.

Frosting can also be really helpful to make up for other concerns within the cake. A cane or a wheelchair could be considered the frosting. Sometimes religion or a “positive attitude” can be considered frosting, in that they’re both outwardly perceived and many times fully incorporated throughout the cake. Now I don’t want anyone to assume that you can pray and smile your way to not needing a mobility aid, so consider personal perception the flavor of the frosting more than the frosting itself. For example, if you decorated your cane with flowers, that would be a cheerful flavor. But that cheer will never replace the frosting itself, just like how orange extract alone doesn’t make frosting. In that case, it’s a bit of the outermost level of decoration being incorporated into the whole. Some people need that frosting, some people have it to make their life easier, but with all the different types, it’s up to the person how they want to go about it.

This next part isn’t an ingredient, but I think an important factor is how the cake is baked. What tools were around to help you? Some people are born into a full kitchen, others work with what they have. So if you tell someone to use a tool that they don’t have, to them, it’s useless advice. You have to consider that maybe not everyone has a raspberry-colored kitchen aid stand mixer.

Also, the experience of the actual baking plays a part. Some situations are traumatic and might burn the people who had to deal with them. Maybe the environment that person was in made them “grow up too fast” and once the cake is made you can’t go back and change those lived experiences. There is no “just get over it” when it comes to things like PTSD, and suggesting they should is ignoring the importance of their lived experiences. It’s asking them to re-bake a cake.

And at the most basic level, the type of cake you have will come down to ingredients and their amounts relative to each other. Think of these as factors beyond your control, and never could have been situationally in your control. Basically, the ingredients are your genetics. Now, if you compare several cake recipes, you will see that many have similar elements, but they combine in ways that make vastly different things.

In one of the first recipes I looked up it reminded you that measurements matter. Which is the best example I can explain for neurodivergent issues. Some people are born with no eggs, less flour, or simply not the right ratio to each other. If you try to tell someone ‘hey, just don’t worry’ when their issue is they need eggs, it’s useless advice. That is not the solution they need. While some people can find solace in that, many simply can’t. And even if it was your fix for the same issue, it might not be theirs.

I used to have really bad anxiety, to the point where I was anxious 24/7 and barely could remember a moment where I didn’t feel like the other shoe was going to drop. Sometimes people would tell me to just stop being anxious, just do the thing even if it makes you more anxious, and they completely didn’t understand how much worse they were accidently making it, or that is was fundamentally impossible. There was a disconnect of people telling me to just add more sprinkles when I really needed a cup of flour.

So before you give advice that has worked for you, ask what they need. If they don’t know, that’s when you can share the recipe your mother swears by.

What A Joke

I’m going to talk about strong writing today, but first, I have a joke for you. So a white comedian walks into a bar. He steps on the stage and says: Racism! The racists and white allys™ laugh, no one else does. In the news that night, the white comedian is applauded for his progressiveness.

I first heard of this idea when watching a documentary. I forget what it was, but it stated that if a comedian tells a racist joke that everyone in the audience laughs. Those who aren’t racist, understand the context and that it was “just a joke”. But the racist in the room hears everyone is laughing and believes everyone thinks the same as them. And why not? Everyone is having fun right now. Right??

A lesson from my favorite editor is that words have a weight on the page. I don’t mean socially, I mean for readability. If you can say something in fewer words and still convey your meaning you’ve done your job. You actually don’t need much more advice because that one suggestion covers a lot of it.

Which brings me to my point today. To have strong and diverse writing you can’t just say haha racism! And leave it as that, because the people experiencing it don’t find it funny. Nor do LGBT+ people when they are included, but killed off or made the joke. Nor do rape victims when they have to explain to you why something is bad, because haha rape sucks, obviously? Oh, that didn’t come off on screen that way? Oh well, there’s no more time! 

Mirroring a trope is not changing the trope. It is not calling out the trope. And we as writers, cannot assume we are better or greater than every writer who has done it before. If you are going to have homophobia, or racism, or sexism, etc in your narrative you need to not only spend the time and words on that, but also the time to draw a huge circle around it with shining lights that flash bad, bad, bad.

I see so many TV shows lately getting applauded, and congratulated for “facilitating the discussion” when in reality the show didn’t do anything. These “discussions” have been happening for centuries. And while I can’t stop TV studios from doing these things, I can tell you that strong writing comes from the puzzle you assembled. Not the pieces laid out so your readers can collectively put together.

Nor as consumers, should we agree that they are doing anything remarkable either. That’s a lie we tell ourselves to make enjoying something that would otherwise hurt our conscience.

And as writers, let’s do this soon, because the people hurting the most aren’t laughing.

The easy way to listen to any book!

I don’t read as much as I’d like for a lot of reasons. But, I have found something to help with this. Now when I’m not feeling it, I have the book read to me. It doesn’t matter if the book isn’t published yet, or if an audio version doesn’t exist. And the best part of all, it’s completely free!

Now this guide will cover ios and kindle since they are the most used platforms, but similar features and phones can be used.

Beginning Steps: Go to settings, then down to Accessibility, then Speech.

By toggling “Speak Screen” on you can swipe down with two fingers and your phone will read to you whatever is on the screen. Other settings in here will allow you to have it read highlighted areas,control reading speed, and what voice and language it reads to you in. I personally prefer ‘Siri (Enhanced)’.

Next, open your book of choice and swipe down!

If it works this is what it will look like:

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Don’t worry the box will minimize, go transparent, and it’s completely movable if you want to read whatever is under it. This menu also gives you some control over reading speed, play/pause, and fast forward/rewind if you’ve missed something.

If you keep this app open it will even flip kindle pages for you!

Is this better than audible? Nope. But sometimes it’s the only option and it’s one that works pretty well.  

Now here are some tips because sometimes it doesn’t work 100%.

“No speakable content”: I’ve noticed if you have it stop, then swap apps you can’t have it read again without closing the kindle app and restarting it. It might complain and say this:

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I’ve played with it a few times and now I can make it play or error on demand so if it messed up on you don’t worry. Close the app and just open it again.

It’s not reading the right thing: Siri tries really hard to read what you tell it. If the menu is on top of anything it will read that instead. Close the menu by touching the text and you’ll be good to go again.

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Sleep timer: I heard if you use ibooks you can have a sleep timer using the built in “Timer” feature under “Clock”. Instead of having a noise “When Timer Ends” scroll all the way down to “Stop Playing”. You can use this selectively with other apps or just music in general. It likes built in apps more than third party.

If you want a Kindle sleep timer you have to use the “Guided Access” under Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access. If you aren’t careful here you might lock yourself out of your phone, and feel really silly when you have to force restart it. I’ve done it at 1 am before. So it happens to you don’t worry. I don’t use this part of it anymore, but it’s epic to know I can turn any book into an audiobook, and have it read to me without needing a fairy godmother to prevent it from reading until dawn. Makes me feel like a kid who has magical tech powers.

Read anything!: Turn this feature on and you can have anything on your screen read to you. It’s great. I have it read long online articles to me, I have it read things I’m writing back so I can catch typos. This feature is next to life changing.

I also hope you enjoyed the HELLO WORLD sneak peeks 😉