As you may have noticed, I have been announcing many changes here on this blog over the past few months. In general, I've spent much of 2020 adjusting (mostly reducing) my Internet presence. I've never been a private person, and the Internet is a large part of my social life, thanks to my illnesses. But I've been feeling a strong need to manage my time and energy better. Not only that, but the older I get, the more I realize how little I know. With there being so many experts out there who do know and whose voices need to be heard, I'm happy now to step back and focus more on boosting their posts instead of on throwing my thoughts out there to add clutter.
Thus, I am announcing yet another simplification of my website. In January 2021, I will be shutting down both this website and the Kira B. Edits one. I have been working on a shiny new website that will combine the two. It will open on January 1st (hopefully) at a new domain: kirabrighton.com. My plan was to transfer my blog archives over to that website while removing unnecessary filler posts. However, I've realized that, beyond the obvious filler, many posts that were of value to me at the time no longer present much value to readers. So instead, I've decided to make a fresh start.
I'm holding onto some posts that still have private value for my own records. A handful of other posts that I think have worth for the public will be added to the new website, once a month, as edited throwbacks or as modern updates. Once a month, I'll share new life updates like I have been doing for the past little while. Occasionally, I will add other brand new content. But the majority of my past posts will be deleted, and I will have a less-cluttered new blog that will focus more on what will be of value to future fans of my books (should they actually get published at some point) and to the Internet community in general. Really, if anyone wants a more expansive look at my life, my social media should suffice! (Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Instagram--I'm getting to the point where I'll probably quit Pinterest soon.)
Thank you for reading whatever posts of mine you have throughout the past eight-and-a-half years. It's been a pleasure, and going through my online archives to see how much I've grown as I've come into the (Internet) world has also been lovely. I expect to post once more on this site, and then I hope to see you at the new website in January!
Writing: nothing in particular
Editing: still going hard on #SnowQueenStory, plus an instruction manual
Disliking: not much right now
Liking: oh, you know what!
I'm ready to dig in even harder to do the work to create a more compassionate world that serves everyone, especially those who are vulnerable and in need! 💜
I also recently joined a small, local, speculative fiction writing group that has been meeting over video chat. That's part of the reason why I'm editing old chapters of #SnowQueenStory so intensely--we share a couple of chapters a week, and I want them to be decent enough for viewing! I'm not sure whether this will turn out to be a good or a bad thing, but work is getting done, even if it's not writing work at the moment.
This past month, I added Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia, This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis, Ghost Wood Song by Erica Waters, Girl Serpent Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust, and Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson to my favorite reads list. A big batch!
It's time for another special holiday look back at the history of my life! Here, I shall summarize my (probably copious) diary entries for October 31st, Halloween, throughout the years. The first relevant entry comes from 2005.
October 31st, 2005, Eleven Years Old (Sixth Grade)
I dressed up as Hermione Granger from Harry Potter for Halloween because of course I did. At school, we listened to a ghost story, had a brief Language Arts class working on something for parent-teacher conferences, and then had a partyyyyyy! I hung out with the kindergartener I was mentoring and ate nachos and caramel apples with hot cider. I called it "a great day."
No October 31st entry in 2006.
October 31st, 2007, Thirteen Years Old (Eighth Grade)
I dressed up in a fancy black sparkly dress because I hadn't finished the costume I'd planned and I didn't want to re-wear the previous year's Supergirl costume. Mom decided I was Audrey Hepburn, though I was going for more of a princess vibe. It was actually quite fun hearing the different interpretations of my costume throughout the day! Of course, a lot of other middle schoolers weren't wearing costumes at all, but I was determined to rock the look.
Writing: nothing in particular
Editing: what I have of #SnowQueenStory so far, plus a Scribbr essay
Disliking: those trying to take away protections and healthcare for chronically ill people
Liking: pumpkin spice sparkling juice and chocolate cake
Feeling: very done with the current situation
This past month, I’ve continued struggling to figure out work-life balance, though I think I’m getting closer to the answer. Part of the problem is that I can’t function properly for at least two hours after waking up (yay for chronic illnesses), and part of the problem is that I have a strong urge to keep going on a project until I finish it (yay for OCD)! But the more I figure out about what doesn’t work for me, the more I know about what might work.
On a darker note, I'm heartbroken and terrified about the potential for ACA to be overturned here in the U.S. in the coming months. My situation has improved a great deal since I was at my sickest, but my body is incredibly fragile. It would only take the slightest push for me to fall into that hellish nightmare again, and with what it did to me the first time, I'm not sure I could survive a second time. Certainly, it would push me into a level of disability that I might never be able to return from. The excruciating level of that pain--I never ever want to go back to that. Not ever.
Hello, everyone! I meant to post again last week, but it didn't work out, so there's just the two posts for this month. Today, I'm sharing the books I'm most excited about that will be releasing during the Fall quarter, from October through December. There are twelve: ten YA, one adult, and one MG. Check them out!
1) I Hope You're Listening by Tom Ryan. This YA thriller is about a girl who secretly runs a true crime podcast and who gets pulled into a renewed investigation into the disappearance of her childhood friend ten years ago. I've found that podcasts aren't really for me any more than audiobooks are, but the concept is interesting, and I do like true crime! This book will be out on October 6th, the first of many on this list.
2) The Invisible Life of Addie la Rue by V.E. Schwab. Victoria Schwab is a powerhouse fantasy author with the kind of career I'd love to have, and I've thoroughly enjoyed her writing. Her latest novel is an adult fantasy about a young woman in the 1700s who makes a deal with the devil for immortality in exchange for being forgot by everyone she ever meets--until in the modern day, she meets a man who remembers her. It will be released on October 6th.
3) The Poppy and the Rose by Ashlee Cowles. This fantastical YA historical mystery tells two connected stories: one about a young heiress, a sailor, a soldier with the Black Hand, and a clairvoyant sailing on the Titanic, and one about a modern-day girl in a journalism program who is invited onto a cursed estate full of mysteries. Check it out on October 6th!
Writing: #SnowQueenStory, on page 88
Editing: my blog archives, a friend’s novel manuscript, and a Scribbr essay
Disliking: the usual nastiness in the social/political spheres
Liking: the possibilities for this month
Feeling: emotionally hopeful while recovering from a flare physically
This past month, I’ve realized that I have managed to push myself the other way on time management, where now I’m spending too much time working and not enough time on personal projects/hobbies. I’m caught in the chronic illness cycle of repeatedly rushing to do a bunch of work and then collapsing into uselessness for a few days. Not recommended!
I’ve also been doing a bunch of research trying to figure out whether I have some kind of hypermobility spectrum disorder, which could explain some things.
This past month, I added Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee to my favorite reads list. I also watched and enjoyed Knives Out. My current music playlist includes “Control” by Zoe Wees and “Until Our Dying Day” by Christian Reindl and Lloren.
When a YA author writes a book series, the most common length seems to be three books, a trilogy. However, there's plenty of variation out there. A lot of readers have expressed interest in reading series that are a little shorter and quicker to get through--i.e., a duology with just two books--and I've seen quite a few of them being released in recent years. As such, today, I thought I'd list my favorite YA duologies (all over 4 stars) for you to check out!
1) Cori McCarthy and Amy Rose Capetta's Once & Future Duology. This wild and vibrant YA sci-fi/fantasy series is all about bringing the LGBT+ (as well as other diversity) into the King Arthur epic. There's a female King Arthur, time travel, an overpowered galactic corporation, magical shenanigans, a sympathetic villain, and plenty of found family. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
2) Jennifer Lynn Barnes's Debutante Duology. Barnes as an author is a quieter favorite of mine, with a lot of skill at plotting out well-woven YA thrillers. This particular YA thriller series follows a down-to-earth young woman who gets pulled into the upper class lifestyle of her extended family as she searches for hidden truths. It has dramatic twists and a lot of personality.
3) Livia Blackburne's Rosemarked Duology. I'm very fond of this romantic YA fantasy series that follows a plague-carrying healer and a mind-wiped soldier who team up to take down the empire that is oppressing their tribes. It has a lot of focus on illness, both short- and long-term, and ableism.
4) A.V. Geiger's Follow Me Back Duology. This multiformatted YA thriller series follows an agoraphobic fangirl and a pop star frightened by his obsessive fans who end up in a catfishing situation that takes a dark turn. It addresses a lot of important issues related to mental health and stalking.
Writing: #SnowQueenStory, on page 85
Editing: my blog archives, a friend’s novel manuscript, and five freelance editing projects
Disliking: my own failings
Liking: dark chocolate
Feeling: regrets that I don’t have time to process right now
My work queue is out of control!!!
This past month, I added Frankly in Love by David Yoon to my favorite reads list, and I gave a full duology recommendation to Once & Future. My current music playlist includes “exile” by Taylor Swift and bon iver and “Power Over Me” by Dermot Kennedy.
After some consideration, I’ve decided to pull back even further on this blog. When it started out, in 2012, blogs were common, which means my friends were interacting here and posting things themselves on their own sites. However, general interest in blogs has waned since then, and there’s not been a lot of interaction lately. In order to have a productive life despite now having multiple disabling chronic illnesses, I’ve been working to better manage my time and energy. Then, this year, I started editing my archives to make sure everything is well-organized and accessible, which has led to the realization that, despite my love for blogging, I have written many posts that are more filler than anything else.
Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, all sorts of events have had to go online--which for me is a good thing because it means I can attend them! Despite my disabling chronic illnesses and my isolation out here in New Mexico, I've been able to participate in big events like YALLWEST. But my favorite so far has been the one that I have the most personal connection to: Ch1Con! Or actually, now that I'm 26, I'm too old for Ch1Con, so this year, I attended the partnering conference for twenty-somethings that was added a few years ago, Ch21Con.
I'll admit that having it online wasn't quite as exhilarating as when I got to travel somewhere new and spend all that time in-person with my friends, but it was still delightful! There's nothing like getting to talk to people your age from all over who have a similar passion. Here's what I experienced at Ch21Con 2020:
The first speaker was Tashie Bhuiyan, whose YA romance debut comes out in May 2021. Her session was called From Fanfiction to Original Fiction, and she talked about the differences she found in going from writing fanfiction to writing original fiction. It was fun! I've actually gone the other way, kind of, where I started writing original fiction at a young age and only just wrote my first fanfiction in 2016. She used a lot of MCU examples, which works for me, seeing as all of my fanfiction has been MCU ScarletVision, haha.
Today, guest Jenn Gott recommends new adult novels with disability representation! Jenn is an indie author and a writer with Reedsy, so she basically spends all her time either writing books or helping people learn how to write books. She firmly believes there is no writing skill you cannot learn with practice and the right guidance. When she’s not working, she enjoys reading, swimming, and keeping up with the latest superhero movies.
I hope you enjoy these book selections!
There’s been a big push over the last several years to increase diversity within the media we consume. From greater visibility of LGBTQIA+ characters to the recent surge of awareness about Black struggles, readers of all identities are shouting to make their voices heard. It’s not perfect, of course--there’s still plenty of evidence that diversity in publishing remains lagging behind the scenes.
And while authors who choose to work with self-publishing companies have always been free to publish whatever they like, it’s nice to see some progress being made in the traditional publishing world, too, even if it is often in the form of “two steps forward, one step back.”
Despite the increased efforts to diversify storytelling, disability representation remains sorely lacking. Whether it’s invisible chronic illness, mental health struggles, or characters using mobility assistance technology, disability is often reduced to a token caricature (if it’s included at all). But to see disabled characters take the starring role in romance, as objects of desire? Surely such a book is a unicorn, right?
Yes and no! While these books are difficult to find, they do exist. With that in mind, today I’ve put together a list of 9 new adult novels that manage to not only include disabled characters, but depict them authenticity and heart. (Interested in YA instead? Check out Kira’s posts on those books here, here, and here!)
Can you believe it? It's now been eight years since I first started this blog! Thanks to everyone who's stuck it out with me, and here are the notable posts from this past year for you to revisit.
On Medical Research and Distant Cures 8/24/19
Other Humor Pt. Twenty-Five 10/5/19
Harry Potter Humor Pt Eight 1/11/20
Other Humor Pt. Twenty-Six 4/4/20
Science Fiction Humor Pt. Three 7/4/20
It's time for me to share my top to-reads of summer 2020! These are the seventeen books I'm most excited for that are releasing from July through September of this year. Why don't you add them to your list, too?
1) Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power. This YA horror thriller from the author of the fascinating and highly acclaimed Wilder Girls follows a girl who travels to her mother's Midwestern hometown to uncover terrible family secrets. It releases on July 7th
Since it's Pride Month, this seems like a good time to share how, after years of research and thought, I recently figured out that I am not just straight-up straight: I'm actually demiheterosexual and biromantic.
If you're someone who's not all that familiar with the terminology used for different kinds of attraction, then that might sound like a confusing, complicated collection of mashed-together syllables. Human attraction is complicated, like most things related to humans. I'm here today to tell you the story of how writing and editing #OCDStory led to me discovering my orientations--and I promise I'll explain the words as we go.
When I was writing the first draft of #OCDStory, I knew early on that I wanted one of the important side characters to be asexual. It's important to recognize and appropriately represent people with different orientations in our stories because those people exist in real life. Not only is it unrealistic to exclude them, it's also hurtful and can leave them feeling unmoored and out of place. I chose asexuality for my focus because it's the sexual orientation that I've always found myself most interested in, other than regular old heterosexuality. It also just felt like the right fit for the character.
Hello, everyone! Today, I'm sharing my 2020 video bookshelf tour, as an update on my last 2017 tour. It begins with a little clip of Spartacus, so don't be confused by that, LOL. The Goodreads pages for any new books on my shelf are linked below.
I put together a bookshelf tour video for this week's post, but right now, it doesn't feel right to post it. Across the past few days, through social media, I've seen a fervor erupt in the U.S. like I've never seen before. This is largely inspired by the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by police in Minneapolis. However, there are a lot of larger factors at play: decades of police violence, the current coronavirus pandemic, an ever-widening wealth gap in the midst of yet another economic downtown, and all of this being borne most severely by marginalized groups and particularly Black people. It's not hard for me to understand why there have been such intense protests in so many cities across the country. Black people have had enough, and frankly, it is way past time for change.
I've always been most fascinated by humans; all our weird contradictory complexities, and yet history shows us that humans don't do a lot of changing. There is always a lot of violence and prejudice and horror being perpetrated by people, especially those in power. There is always a lot of resistance to any social movement. There is always a lot of selfishness. But some things do change, in bursts here and there, and I hope this might be one of those times. It's not easy to live amid chaos, but it's also not easy to live amid an accepted status quo where people are suffering. In both these cases, privilege protects a lot of people, including me. It's quiet where I live, in my life, almost all the time, and sometimes, that makes me forget how much societal and political terror so many others are living with. But social media provides me a broader view by giving me access to other people. It shows me the suffering that people like me, white people, need to recognize and accept responsibility for changing, and it helps me be understanding about behavior that might seem extreme if I didn't know how much injustice and death and pain has been happening.
As a speculative fiction writer, reader, and viewer, I have immersed myself in so many stories about morality, injustice, and revolution. I am not in any way alone there. Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and other popular phenomena all include these themes. But I think too many of us see this as being limited to fiction, to the past, or to other countries. We fail to recognize the way they're affecting our own modern societies, especially those of us who are people of privilege living quiet lives. We have problems, yes, many of them deeply painful, but we aren't being hurt by society in such a consistent and structural way. So it's easy for us to turn away or condemn others and not realize that we're ignoring the very heroes that we cheered for when we saw them in a different setting. Protests and riots are a part of so many important pieces of progress that have been made in the world.
In February 2013, as an almost nineteen-year-old, I wrote a post where I described my dream for my future life when I would be around age thirty. Seven years later, a lot has changed, including my vision of what I'd like my future to be. So I thought I'd share a 2020 update of what I, twenty-six-year-old Kira, dream for my future! This future vision could happen really anytime, and I would be happy with it, so I won't be specific about what age I am here. Life happens on its own timeline, after all.
First, in line with the previous version, here's a terrible Paint drawing of my dream!
It took an unfortunate amount of time for me to find and read enough appropriate books to create a sizeable list here. Now, I have so many, I'm limiting this post to my 4.5+ star reads! It is my pleasure to present recommended YA books that have central characters with disabilities in them. These disabilities do not include mental illnesses, which are instead represented in this list and in this list.
I hope you'll give these books a read and support their disability representation!
1) Neal Shusterman's Unwind Dystology. You already know how much I love this wild and brilliant YA sci-fi dystopian series about a future America where abortion is outlawed and replaced by the "unwinding" of unwanted teens for body parts. The first book doesn't have disability representation, but in later books, all four of the main characters have something going on. Connor gets a transplanted arm, Levi has permanently stunted growth, Risa is briefly paralyzed but then cured against her will, and my boy Camus has to "relearn" a variety of neuromuscular skills.
2) Marissa Meyer's The Lunar Chronicles. I've mentioned this series here a hundred times already, but somehow, it keeps fitting with my post themes! In this futuristic YA sci-fi retelling of four different fairytales, one of the main characters, Cinder, has various cybernetic parts, including a prosthetic leg, while a different main character, Cress, lives with a much maligned fictional disability. One of the love interests, Wolf, has to deal with the lifelong results of human experimentation, and a different love interest, Thorne, is stricken with a temporary blindness. (There's also a main character, Winter, with hallucinations. This book has it all!)
As I mentioned in my last post, I'm currently making minor edits to my blog archives, which means I'm getting all sorts of inspiration from my past blog posts! Today, I'd like to write a post based on my short bucket list post from 2013.
Since then, my life has changed a lot, and many of those wishes are no longer feasible because of my disabilities and/or no longer fit my interests. However, my vision of what it looks like to be a successful novelist has expanded a great deal. So I thought it'd be a good idea to write an updated bucket list focusing mostly on what I want to achieve as an author!
1) Sign a contract with a literary agent. I have yet to achieve the very first step towards traditional publication despite many attempts. I look forward to making this professional connection and having another person on my team!
2) Publish a novel. This is the big one I've been looking forward to for years and years! It's only the hoped-for beginning, of course, but it's a huge step all by itself.
3) Run a book giveaway. Once I have a book to promote, I plan to run at least one giveaway on this website, if nowhere else, and since I've won many books from giveaways in the past, I'm excited to offer the same chance to others.
4) Hold a book release party. I'm not sure where I'd have one--the library is the only place in my little town that seems appropriate--but I've seen photos from the parties authors hold when they release a new book, and it looks delightful. There are cupcakes with the book cover design on them, y'all!. Even if it was very small, I'd love to have such a party.
My 26th birthday is tomorrow, so I'd like to take a look back 26 years at what the world was like on my birthdate! Let us return to Saturday, April 2nd, 1994:
Bill Clinton was the U.S. president. Some very typical tensions were occurring between the U.S. and areas like North Korea, China, and the Middle East, and there was unrest in South Africa, Haiti, and Bosnia. Tobacco's power in our country seemed to be waning (yay for not smoking!). Stocks had taken a recent dive, but March had been good in terms of hiring numbers. In New Mexico, the pilgrimage to Chimayo was happening.
Michael ("Who is Like God?") and Ashley ("From the Ash Tree Field") were the most popular baby names of 1994. However, in New Mexico, Jessica ("God Beholds") was the top female name.
The top song was "The Sign" by Ace of Base, which I think is a pretty decent tune. I'm actually familiar with it! Other names on the charts included R. Kelly, Mariah Carey, and Celine Dion, along with other performers whom I do not know.
The top movie in the box office was Major League II, a baseball-related comedy sequel that does not sound like my kind of thing at all. Critics weren't into it, either, so. 🤷🏻♀️ Four Weddings and a Funeral (rom-com, of course) was the highest grossing film of the year so far.
This has been such a month. For once, I'm not surprised that it's ending. I guess that's how you slow down time--with a pandemic. 😬
Anyway, with the end of March comes my list of top to-read books that are coming out during the spring quarter! I have eighteen new YA releases from April through June for you all to get pumped up about. These authors could especially use promotion right now seeing as social distancing has cut down their opportunities to attend events. (You can also support the Winter 2020 releases seen here.) So let's check them out!
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