Calliope Writing

Book Haul Time: I’m Obsessed with Online Shopping

By the title, you know what’s coming: a list of books I recently bought in one of my I-don’t-need-this-book-but-I-NEED-this-book moments.

Enjoy the spoils of my latest book haul, via Amazon.

Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman


I fell in love with Neil Gaiman after reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It totally blew my mind and convinced me that this man is a genius.

Since then, I’ve been devouring his books, and Anansi Boys is next. I mean, look at the back cover:


Who wouldn’t be intrigued?



Yeah, yeah, I know: I’m super behind because I have yet to see the film Precious. I decided reading the book first was in order.

HangsamanShirley Jackson


Shirley Jackson. What a master of horror and the bizarre. I’m pretty damned excited to read this novel. Check out the back cover blurb to get an idea of why:

Seventeen-year-old Natalie Waite longs to escape home for college. Her father is a domineering and egotistical writer who keeps a tight rein on Natalie and her long-suffering mother. When Natalie finally does get away, however, college life doesn’t bring the happiness she expected. Little by little, Natalie is no longer certain of anything—even where reality ends and her dark imaginings begin. Chilling and suspenseful, Hangsaman is loosely based on the real-life disappearance of a Bennington College sophomore in 1946.

What’s that you say about Natalie’s father…?


Parable of the TalentsOctavia E. Butler


I first read Octavia Butler when I was fourteen years old, and I immediately loved her. For some reason I don’t understand, though, it’s only now–almost two decades later–that I picked up another book by the sci-fi queen.

I can’t wait to dig in.

Oh, and by the way, Butler predicted Donald Trump’s campaign slogan over twenty years ago in The Parable of the Talents. <Cue creepy music>

The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us AllLaird Barron


I recently joined an online book club run by Dirge Magazine (if you don’t know what Dirge is, I encourage you to check it out), and The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All was one of August’s books.

I’m about halfway through it (late, as usual), and so far, it’s…meh. Follow me on Goodreads to find out my final opinion of the short story collection.

The Witches, Stacy Schiff


Another August Dirge Book Club book, The Witches focuses on the Salem witch trials of 1692. Check out the illustrations…


…and the inside cover:


I’m typically a fiction-only reader, but I have always been interested in the Salem witch trials (I blame my childhood field trip to Salem, Massachusetts)…so I’m fairly certain this is one nonfiction tome I’m going to love.

That’s it for this book haul! What books have you purchased or borrowed recently?

And a Little Something Extra…

  • Writers, take note: Michael Cristiano‘s list of fiction clichés should be read…and then those clichés should be avoided like the plague (like what I did there?). Read the post over at A Writer’s Path.
  • Ari Sytner did something that few of us (likely) would even think about: He donated a kidney to a complete stranger in need. During his experience, he realized that kidney donation is quite the taboo topic. For that reason, he wrote The Kidney Donor’s Journey: 100 Questions I Asked Before Donating My Kidney. It’s the first Q&A book on the subject and includes a wealth of information. To support Sytner in the publication of this book, check out his Kickstarter campaign.

*Want to buy any of the books mentioned here? Click on the links to purchase from Amazon; since I’m an affiliate, your purchase will help me keep this blog going (i.e., I’ll earn money to buy books that I will then write about).*

-Reblogged- 7 Tips for Paranormal Writers
September 7, 2016, 10:39 am
Filed under: Reblogged Content, writing, Writing Tips | Tags: , , ,

This post from Jacqui Murray is a must-read for anyone who dabbles in the paranormal genre (such as myself).


A Writer's Path


by Jacqui Murray

One of my writing gigs is as an Amazon Vine Voice. They send me free books (and other products) and I share my honest opinion. If you go to Amazon, you’ll find a label (Vine Voice) by my name, as you will with all of the other Vine reviewers. It just means we accept the responsibility to share our thoughts as objectively as possible.

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Celebrating Lolita’s 58th Birthday
August 18, 2016, 12:00 pm
Filed under: Books, Reading | Tags: , , , , ,

On this day in 1958, Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Lolita was published.


While it’s now widely regarded as a classic – a must-read for any serious reader or writer – it wasn’t as well received five or six decades ago. It’s not hard to imagine. After all, the novel is about a middle-aged man’s infatuation with a <gulp> twelve-year-old girl.



No twelve-year-old vixens for you!

But hot damn, is it a great book! If you haven’t read it, I urge you to pick up a copy from your library or local independent bookstore. Or click the link in the first sentence of this post to purchase from Amazon; since I’m an affiliate, your purchase will help me keep this blog going (i.e., I’ll earn money to buy books that I will then write about).


My somewhat beat-up copy.

So happy fifty-eighth birthday, Lolita!

P.S. – Did you know I’m active on Facebook, TwitterPinterest, and Instagram? Follow me if you simply can’t get enough.

-Reblogged- Write Edit Write: A Private Facebook Group for Writers and Readers

Fellow writer and blogger Kurt Brindley has set up a private Facebook group for all things writing! If you’re interested, either visit his post and request an invite, or let me know you want in and I’ll get an invite sent.

Write on!



So, I’m creating a private Facebook group for writers and readers who are interested in the discussion of all things related to the process and business of writing.

This will be somewhat an extension of what I do with the Newsletter Love subscribers, but on a much more intimate and informal level. The newsletter process is a bit too formal and segmented and involving to really achieve what I would like to achieve, which is: to network, make connections, and improve our abilities and chances for success as writers.

As much as I hate to admit it, Facebook provides a much better environment to achieve this objective.

Like we’ve done with the newsletter, we can do poetry and flash fiction challenges there as well, with the goal of getting the best of the group’s writing onto my blog and out via the newsletter (is there irony to be found there?)

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Mental Illness: My Brain Demons Want Me to Fail
July 25, 2016, 12:50 pm
Filed under: Books, inspiration, Music, Reading | Tags: , , ,

Let’s be gritty, raw, and real for a change. I always try to approach this blog with lightheartedness and wit (and I rarely talk about anything terribly personal), but today, I’d like to be brutally honest.

My Mental Illness

For the past two and a half years, I’ve struggled with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, both of which can be overwhelming, confusing, frustrating, and debilitating.

Chances are, some of you reading also have a demon in your brain – be it in the form of depression, anxiety, or another mental illness. After all, in 2014, it was estimated that approximately 18% of the United States adult population had one or more mental illnesses.

I’m finally on the upswing (thank whatever god(s) you believe in), but I think it’s time to add my voice to the others who have spoken out about their own personal demons.

My Support

Instead of starting out with how terrible my own experience with mental illness is, I’d like to focus on some of the things that helped (and are still helping) me get through it.

1. Books – The ultimate escape. HEX, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and Geek Love, just to name a few.


2. TMS – Transcranial magnetic stimulation. The TMS team of doctors and nurses at MUSC will always have a special place in my heart.

3. My husband – He has been there with me every step of the way, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

4. Music – There are some songs that just move me. Below is a playlist containing some of them.


5. Therapy – Art therapy, EMDR, CBT…it has all played a part in helping me get where I am.

6. Gardening – I have become a full-blown gardening addict. And I’m not ashamed of it! Growing plants from tiny seeds has given me the ultimate way to reconnect with nature.


7. Incredibly understanding employers, past and present – I can’t say enough about the kickass people at Palmetto Publishing Group and Media Shower.

So this is me, raw and unfiltered.

I may always try to put on a happy face on here, but the truth is: that happy face is, more often than not, cracked porcelain.

I don’t share this for pity. Instead, I share this so that if any of you are going through a particularly hellish period in your life, you will know two things: you can get through it and you are not alone.

-Reblogged- The Writer

Awesome John Steinbeck quote, courtesy of Literary.Land.of.Alysia


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Book Haul Time! Check Out My Latest Bookstore Buys

After dinner with a friend, said friend asked for recommendations for good quote books. Since I don’t have any, I told her going to a bookstore and browsing was her best bet.

And what better time than right then?

So we headed to Barnes & Noble, and I all-too-quickly loaded up my arms with boooooookkkksss. My favorite thing.

Here’s what I got:

book haul bellman and black

What initially caught my eye about Bellman & Black wasn’t that I’d heard about it before, or that I was a fan of the author’s. No, it was the cover. I just dig a cool book cover.

Then I read the back cover blurb, and I was in:

Caught up in a moment of boyhood competition, William Bellman recklessly aims his slingshot at a rook resting on a branch, killing the bird instantly. It is a small but cruel act, and is soon forgotten. By the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, William seems to have put the whole incident behind him. It was as if he never killed the thing at all. But rooks don’t forget…

Years later, when a stranger mysteriously enters William’s life, his fortunes begin to turn—and the terrible and unforeseen consequences of his past indiscretion take root. In a desperate bid to save the only precious thing he has left, he enters into a rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner. Together, they found a decidedly macabre business.

And Bellman & Black is born.

book haul creative writers notebook

I’m always looking for great tools and resources to help me become a better writer…especially since I’ve been struggling with writer’s block on and off for the past couple of years.

So picking up a copy of The Creative Writer’s Notebook: A Creative Journal for Fiction Writers was a no-brainer. The collection of writing exercises is set up journal-style – another plus for me, since I’m trying to journal on a regular basis.

book haul creative writers notebook interior

Tattooed-man paperweight not included.

book haul grays anatomy

I’ve been wanting a copy of Gray’s Anatomy for years now. I think it’s a must-have resource for writers and editors, particularly if and when the body and all of its parts come into play (think: fight scene, details about character’s injuries, etc.). This one includes the classic illustrations (see below), and it had a super affordable price tag.

book haul grays anatomy brain

book haul grays anatomy arm

So, yeah. Now I can know everything about anatomy. BOOM.

book haul notecards

Who doesn’t love getting a card in the mail? I’ve recently gotten more into sending notecards (thanks to the same friend who accompanied me to B&N the night I acquired these great finds), and these cards by Preserve Brands caught my eye. They’re handmade and brightly colored, on heavy and textured paper…and I love the flowers.

I mean, look at those sweet embossed flowers.

book haul notecards closeup

book haul nietzsche

In college, I took an existentialism class and LOVED it. I was introduced to Dostoevsky, Sartre, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche, among others. So when I walked by a display with this copy of Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, there was no hesitation.

And these uneven, rustic pages. I love these pages.

book haul nietzsche pages

book haul the bees

Last, but certainly not least, I picked up a hardcover copy of Laline Paull’s The Bees. First, look at that cover in detail:

book haul the bees closeup

Now read the back cover blurb:

Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, a member of the lowest caste in her orchard hive where work and sacrifice are the highest virtues and worship of the beloved Queen the only religion. But Flora is not like other bees. With circumstances threatening the hive’s survival, her curiosity is regarded as a dangerous flaw but her courage and strength are an asset. She is allowed to feed the newborns in the royal nursery and then to become a forager, flying alone and free to collect pollen. She also finds her way into the Queen’s inner sanctum, where she discovers mysteries about the hive that are both profound and ominous.

But when Flora breaks the most sacred law of all—daring to challenge the Queen’s fertility—enemies abound, from the fearsome fertility police who enforce the strict social hierarchy to the high priestesses jealously wedded to power. Her deepest instincts to serve and sacrifice are now overshadowed by an even deeper desire, a fierce maternal love that will bring her into conflict with her conscience, her heart, her society—and lead her to unthinkable deeds.

Call me crazy, but THAT sounds badass.

What books have you recently purchased, and which are you most stoked to read?

Freewrite Update!

I know – you’re wondering what the hell happened with my Freewrite. Well, as I mentioned earlier, there were technical difficulties. The good news? A Freewrite that works perfectly is now in my possession, so the writing has commenced.

Expect a thorough review in a month or two.

*Want to buy any of the books mentioned here? Click on the links to purchase from Amazon; since I’m an affiliate, your purchase will help me keep this blog going (i.e., I’ll earn money to buy books that I will then write about).*


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