Wednesday, July 1, 2015

IWSG and Battle of the Bands July 1

Hey ya'll! Happy July 1-4! Lots of excitement in my off-line life this week/weekend, and I apologize in advance if I miss posts and visits, in particular the two bloghops I'm participating in today: Insecure Writers Support Group, and Battle of the Bands.

Insecure Writers Support Group is the creation of Alex J. Cavanaugh as a safe haven for writers in all stages of the journey, with all manner of fears and insecurities, to find commiseration, support, advice, encouragement from those who have been through and/or experiencing the same writing struggles. AND it is also a place to brag/self congratulate :)

Today is the day to release those pent up struggles/frustrations or squee-worthy triumphs to those who understand you best. And along the way, perhaps you will make some new friends/connections. Today's co-hosts are: Charity Bradford; S.A. Larsen; AJ Lauer; Tamara Narayan; Allison Gammons; Tanya Miranda.

My own writing has been pretty much non-existent lately. I have this shiny new idea which I am taking the time to write some plot points as the ideas come to me, but I've been trying to catch up on my TBR list and write some reviews for the authors. And critiquing for my online writers group. Aside from the continuing frustration of not completing any WIP, my insecurities are more about my reading abilities than writing ambitions. Every story needs a reading audience!

I am a slow reader; I have this sort of obsesssive desire to read EVERY WORD of a story, even when I am not totally engaged in the world or with the characters. As an extremest, I'm all in or putting it down, and I don't easily give up. If I am asked to read a book/story for review or critique, I will finish - eventually. (Although I have had a couple occasions to e-mail authors and beg to be excused for personal reasons.) This can make me quite cynical/judgmental/sarcastic in my comments; which means I have to edit my feedback, and that takes more time energy.

The biggest reading frustration lately has been a suspension of belief, usually with stories set in contemporary/historical worlds, but sometimes Urban Fantasy will be equally unbelievable. If the story is an all out comedy or spoof style, then I accept pretty much anything; but if it is meant to depict serious subject matter (even if it is humorous), then I cannot wrap my mind around the discrepancies.

Perhaps my blog header should have a description that reads "Writer beware: red pen reader raves within." Or maybe I should be Book Slasher instead of Book Lover?

Anyway, that's my complaint this month: I'd like to be a more generous reader. And quicker. I only finished one of the three books I intended to read for review over the last two weeks. After some waffling between a 4 and 5 star I finally decided on a 5 for short story anthology The Dragon Chronicles. Now I just gotta get the review written and posted. We won't discuss the beta read with full critique that the slasher completed out of sympathy for the savaged author.

Oooh look! IWSG t-shirt at the NeatO shop. Wish it came in a v-neck.

Today is also the first day for this month's bi-monthly BATTLE OF THE BANDS competition; where two bands play the same song, and you get to vote on which is your favorite rendition (or the one that irritates you least). This bloghop is brought to you by the enigmatic Stephen T McCarthy and inexhaustible Far Away Series.

So, I'm an American, and unapologetically PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN, especially on this Independence Day weekend. HooRah! I am sure many of the BoTB participants will be posting some sort of 4th of July songs today with more indepth July Fourth write ups about the songs and the date; but I decided to just keep my post simple in support of the IWSG members that will be rushing by. You can learn all about the song GOD BLESS THE U.S.A. and its songwriter, Lee Greenwood, here if you are interested.

To simplify your voting (in case you have no time to listen to the video's), I chose two popular artists: country music singer/songwriter Lee Greenwood: and former Destiny's Child, modern-day feminist Beyonce Knowles.

Lee Greenwood


Happy Fourth of July everyone. Enjoy your weekend.

Be sure to visit the IWSG link here , and the list other Battle of The Bands participants. Don't forget to to say hey! to the hosts and co-hosts of both blog hops.


Denise Covey said...

Happy Independence Day Americans! Boom! Boom! I've read and reviewed on Goodreads a lot at the beginning of the year, but now doing more writing, well, in between travelling. :-)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm very familiar with the first one, and it's comfortable, so Greenwood gets my vote. And awesome song pick!
I'm a slow and meticulous reader as well. Not real picky though, so most authors are safe from me.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

The books I've started lately just haven't grabbed me, so maybe I'm being too critical.

I love God Bless America and both versions were good. The first one is just a little stronger.

Pat Hatt said...

The only way I'm picky as if it makes no sense what so ever. #1 gets my vote.

Mary Burris said...

Not a Beyonce fan, so this was an easy one for me. I choose Lee Greenwood.

Debbie D. said...

Happy Independence Day to you and all my American friends. ☺ We are celebrating Canada Day here today - only 148 years old, compared to your 239 years. Enjoy!
I first heard this song on American Idol a few years ago and liked it even then. The original by Lee Greenwood gets my vote. Beyonce' did a good job, but, not really my taste.

Cathy Kennedy said...

Donna, great song for our nation's birthday. I love this song! It gives me chills every time I listen to it, especially when sung by Lee Greenwood. Naturally, I gotta give my vote to Greenwood!

#BOTB Star Spangled Banner Showdown ~ Spirit VS #MadisonRising

Shady Del Knight said...

Hi, Dolorah! It's been a while since you and I connected so I thought I'd drop in and experience your band battle today. Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A." is a great choice as America prepares to observe Independence Day. I was already familiar with Greenwood's performance of the song but never heard Beyonce sing it. Beyonce won me over with her rousing rendition. It was exciting and straightforward, not overwrought, and avoided the unnecessary embellishment of warbling melismas commonly heard in the vocals of many modern divas. Please record my vote for Beyonce, dear friend Dolorah, and thank you very much!

Yolanda Renee said...

I'd forgotten it was the weekend of the 4th. Loud booms galore all weekend long. Love the Greenwood song!

Happy Weekend!

You'll get back to writing soon, but breaks are a good thing - necessary and in the end inspiring!

Chrys Fey said...

So many writers are struggling to write right now and have been for months. I was one of them. Try eliminating some of your responsibilities...don't take on any more critiques and commit to reviewing less so you can find time to write. Good luck!

I will forever love Lee Greenwood's version. He has my vote.

Tamara Narayan said...

I would hesitate before becoming too "nice" of a beta reader. It's so tempting to be supportive because as writers, we know how hard it is to write. But not pointing out the bad stuff in a critique wouldn't help. Now when it comes to reviewing stuff already out there--that's different. Not a lot of good can come out of tearing apart the work at that point unless the author requests it.

Cherdo said...

Both beautiful versions, but I'm always drawn to Greenwood's version - that one gets my vote!

Laurel Garver said...

I find it harder and harder to get lost in books--if it's good, I end up trying to learn the technique to emulate it, if it's bad, I look for why it's failing so I don't make the same mistakes. And man does that make writing reviews hard!

Enjoy the holiday! I'm more offline this week too, since Philly has a whole week of cool, free events leading up to the 4th.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...


Ha! So I'm "enigmatic" now, eh? :-)

I can't ever encounter that word without thinking of (Link:->) THIS SONG from the 'Drastic Plastic' album I listened to often in 1978 and '79. (Yeah, my taste in music has changed "drastically" since then.)

As for this Battle song... I pretty much lost all patience for jingoistic American anthems about 20 years ago...

"Oh, I'm PROUD to be an American

Maybe I'll put on my Weird Al hat and finish what I just started someday... but not today.

Today, I'll just "shut it" and vote:
Lee Greenwood

~ D-FensDogG
'Loyal American Underground'

dolorah said...

Denise: well, you've been travel writing so that counts as writing :)

Alex: sometimes I wish I wasn't so danged picky!

Dianne: I'm not being grabbed much lately either. I think writing is to blame.

Pat: typo's will through me out of a book faster than anything.

Thanks Mary

Debbie: Happy Canada Day *shoots fireworks*

Cathy: I almost always cry when I hear him sing this. He was one of my fav country singers too.

Shady: I lost track of you for a while Sir. Saint Mac doesn't have a link up and you have not been participating in BotB. Something up?? My blog roll won't let me add any more blogs I'm following so I'm missing some people; I'll add you to my favorites so I can find you. Beyonce has an absolutely beautiful voice, and she did this song well. Thanks for stopping by.

Yolanda: I almost forgot too. I'm hoping we get to see some fireworks here in the drought-belt.

Chrys: yeah, I need to review less, for sure. Might make me write a happy story, lol.

Tamara: Hello; and thanks for co-hosting today. I agree, reviews shouldn't tear apart an author, but sometimes an author self publishes without editing their work or checking their facts, and its not nice to offer props where its undeserved either. It can really show when the author doesn't access a writing group or spring for a paid editor if they can't find a willing crit partner. If the writing is truly terrible in my opinion, I just don't review it.

Thanks Cherdo :)

Laurel: lol, that's how I get lost in a book too lately. Must be a writer thing. I hope you have an awesome weekend with all those free events. Love love free!!

ST Mac: enigmatic fits you perfectly, Sir! At least some days. You saw your pic next to the web-definition, yes? I think that Be Bop song will be my signature anthem, that was way cool. I had to find the lyrics to keep up though. Never know what is lurking in my attic; or the Fridge. What does go on in there when the light is out? Wierd Al would likely make a good orator for all that is wrong with American Politics. I'll wear a "my reality check just bounced" t-shirt and bring some Bourbon and hotdogs to the presentation :)

diedre Knight said...

Perfect timing for "God Bless the USA"! Hands down Lee Greenwood for me!

Olga Godim said...

Everyone has her own pace, and it changes with time. Your body and mind are oscillating: ups follow downs in an endless wave, like a fairground ride. None exists without the other, and nobody can always be UP. Don't bemoan your downs. Take them as gifts, your time to rest and recharge.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

>>... I'll wear a "my reality check just bounced" t-shirt and bring some Bourbon and hotdogs to the presentation

Two tumblers of Bourbon, please - hold the hot dog.

~ D-FensDogG

Birgit said...

I am a slow reader myself and am always amazed at people when they can read a book in 2 days. I simply have never been able to do this. So we have to just be aok with how fast or slow we read. Now I vote for Lee Greenwood. He is not singing it in a showy, look at my hair style, but from the true heart. He gets my vote

Michele Truhlik said...

Great battle for the July kickoff! I like Beyonce's version but I love Lee Greenwood's so my vote goes to Lee.
And I hear ya about the need to read every single word when reading a story/book. I'm that way too. But the one thing that helps me deal with that is to engage my speed-reading. I took a speed-reading course in college and read 640 words/minute with an 85% comprehension rate so even though I feel like I'm cheating when I do that, I feel better knowing that I'm getting the major gist of the story. It's weird these little quirks we have, isn't it?
Enjoy your holiday weekend!
Michele at Angels Bark

farawayeyes said...

Good BATTLE with two very different versions. That said, I can't stand Beyonce. Only listened to about a minute and clicked her off. So, I guess that makes it clear who I'm voting for.

Robin said...

I've always liked the Lee Greenwood version. It seems like I remember reading/hearing a while ago that he sold the copyright to this song a long time ago... never anticipating that it would come back and be such a huge hit. I bet he regrets that.

Beyonce. Oh, Beyonce, I just don't believe you when you sing this song. It's a credibility issue.

So, this one is an easy vote for Lee Greenwood. He may not get any money for this one, but he gets my vote.

As for the reading and critiquing... I find this to be a tough place. When I love the book it's so much easier. When I don't... well, it's tougher. I hate writing negative reviews/feedback, though as a CP I hope to write it in such a way that it improves the story and really helps the author make it shine.

Janie Junebug said...

I applaud Lee Greenwood for bringing us this song, but his voice can't beat Beyonce's.


dolorah said...

Thanks Diedre; nice to meet you.

Olga: I'm starting to feel like a roller coaster, lol.

Stephen: its a date!

Birgit: aok sucks sometimes; but I hear you.

Michele: I worry about the retention thing, I want to remember what I read. I should try it though.

FAE: Lee is an awesome pick :)

Robin: I remember reading that too about Lee. Who can tell what will hit big. Maybe added to his overall depression though. And constructive criticism is good for a writer, but sometimes I just hate that the feedback is more about me as a reader than the writing itself. If I liked the genre, I'd be less critical.

Janie: sometimes a cover artist is better than the original :)

Jeffrey Scott said...

You provide a tough choice today.
I think I like Beyonce version the best. She seemed more into it.

Nicki Elson said...

I'm with you on the slow reading. I've realized that I'm going to die before I finish even half the books on my current to-read list.

It's also difficult to shut off the editor brain when reading, but I think I'm getting better at it...though haven't totally succeeded in shutting it off. I think I've always been a critical reader - which does make writing those reviews a challenge sometimes. I miss the days of reading a book without that review "homework assignment" at the end of it.

I was getting kind of bummed feeling like I was only reading books that sorta felt "have to" so I've decided to alternate - every other book I read is by an author I've never exchanged so much as a Tweet with.

God bless America!!

Dixie@dcrelief said...

Donna - reading is on the back burner until I feel better. Blogs are about all I can handle right now, (smile).

Super nice battle! For me, it's often tough to look around at the injustices and still feel free. When I first heard Lee's version I was very young and ignorant. Still the song found a place in my heart and still does today.

Have a great weekend and 4th! My vote goes to Lee Greenwood.

Michelle Wallace said...

Happy 4th of July to all Americans!
I've also been doing a lot of reading... and reviewing on Goodreads/Amazon. It's time-consuming. However, I CAN speed read, though I try not to make it a habit. I also like to savor a book, especially when I'm really into the story.

Cherie Reich said...

I used to be an all or nothing reader, but I've realized there's not enough time in the world to read everything I want to read, so why would I torture myself and read something I'm not enjoying. I've been in a reading funk lately. I want to read, but I have obligations as a reviewer to read certain books first. It's not that I don't want to read them. I'm pretty sure I'd love them, but I guess it's the obligation thing. *shrugs*

Loni Townsend said...

It gets tough when you're not enjoying the story or writing. I know I've quit a few that I struggled with, while there's others that I devour within a couple of days. If I'm not going to be able to give the reading at least a 4 star rating, I'll usually quit and not look back. I guess it's probably conceited, but my time is limited, and I'd rather spend it doing something I enjoy.

Guilie Castillo said...

Beautiful song. Can you believe I'd never heard it before? Although I'm not from the US, it seems as though I should've heard it somewhere, somehow... In any case, thanks for introducing me to it--and happy 4th of July!

My vote goes to Beyoncé. I'm not really a fan, but her vocals do patriotic tunes great justice :)

Guilie @ Quiet Laughter

Guilie Castillo said...

Ooops, with the excitement of BoTB I forgot to comment on the IWSG bit :) For some reason lately I'm having suspension-of-disbelief issues, too. Some things just seem too 'pat', you know? The kind of, Oh, so coincidentally when he tripped he got jostled in such a way that the gold coin in his pocket fell out, and the person behind him was--OMG, the one person in the whole world who knew the significance of that one gold coin. Yip-ee. :D And yes, it's annoying to have that snark (you call it slasher) in your head whispering not-so-sweet nothings as you read, but on the other hand... Doesn't that mean you're more discerning? And doesn't more discerning mean better writing? And, extrapolated, better living too? I say LONG LIVE THE RED PEN :)
Guilie @ Quiet Laughter

DEZMOND said...

I've no idea who let July creep on us so cruelly... if you do know, please arrest him and hang him, Donnzie :)
I can't seem to stand Beyonce ever since she married that idiot.... even though I liked her before....

dolorah said...

Thanks Jeff

Nikki: some day I hope to shut off that inner editor at will. Might make writing easier too, lol.

Dixie: yep, so many things to be upset about here in the US, but the rest of the world isn't much better, in my view.

Michelle: I need to learn to speed read. Shh, I won't tell if you don't.

Cherie: yeah, its that obligation at the end of the book - a good one or bad - that makes it hard. Whoever invented the "survey" system should be forced to complete surveys/reviews for all eternity as punishment.

Loni: I don't consider that conceited at all :)

Guilie: well, it is very specific to America. I haven't heard many patriotic songs from other countries either. And you get my vote for comment of the day on IWSG, totally making me smile here.

Dezzy: LOL, I know, it should still be only March or April. I liked the cooler weather better anyways. And I thought you would like Beyonce; but I understand how people disappoint us sometimes in their choices.

Raquel Byrnes said...

Oh, Donna. I cannot wait for you to get to work on your shiny idea and share a bit of it with us. You should have a blogfest or something. I miss those. :)

Julie Flanders said...

Nice to read that you have lots of excitement in your offline world - I hope it is all good excitement and only gets better. I'm with you on being insecure about reading/reviews, I've fallen way behind on my reviews and feel bad about it.
Happy 4th to you!

klahanie said...

Hi Donna,

I think you are a BOOK LOVER! Although, we each have our own pace and don't worry too much about the speed you read.

I didn't like either version of your national anthem. Beyonce gets my vote, however.

Take it easy and enjoy the Fourth of July.

Gary :)

Michael Di Gesu said...

HI, Donna...

You are an incredible critiquer and reviewer. You give you honest reactions/opinions and that is needed to do this well...

You LOVE words, stories, and creativity. If you SLASH when needed, then so be it. Sometimes writers need to be slashed to learn and grow. You are never unkind, just honest.

Glad you have a FRESH idea and now with the WEP coming back, we can all read snippets from your new story. We can only hope.

Have a WONDEFUL and FUN 4th weekend....

COUNTING the days to SCBWI in LA.... Feel like taking road trip? It would be AWESOME to see you! No pressure, just a wish...

Vanessa Morgan said...

For a beta reader it's good to be critical, but it shouldn't rub off too much on your personal reading. The idea is still to enjoy yourself.

Arlee Bird said...

You described the way I read and my own occasional problem with suspension of disbelief. I'm just starting a dystopian novel so I hope it's good.

Beyonce does a nice job with the song, but the traditionalist in me responds better to Greenwood.

Give my vote to Lee Greenwood.

Tossing It Out

dolorah said...

Raquel: yeah, I miss those actual blogfests too.

Julie; life seems to be looking up a bit :)

Gary: thanks for your vote

Michael: I do love words, and stories. Thanks for those kind words of encouragement. I would love to meet you in LA, but it just so happens I will be there a couple weeks before the conference.

Vanessa: I miss reading just for pleasure.

Lee: Being a reader is almost as much work as being a writer, lol. Hope you are enjoying your trip :)

VR Barkowski said...

Guess I’m a slow reader too. I’m reading a book at the moment that is so boring, I keep losing the plot thread and have to flip back to pick it up. Even a beautifully written story needs tension, conflict, and plot.

While Beyonce does a spectacular job, that song belongs to Lee Greenwood. My vote goes to Lee.

VR Barkowski

Anonymous said...

I choose Lee Greenwood.

I used to have to read every word of something, even forcing myself to read books I disliked. I don't mind putting something down anymore. I'll even quit on a book halfway through. I do read slowly if I'm beta reading.

Shannon Lawrence said...

I can be stubborn about reading, even when it's a painful experience. I'm currently pondering giving up on a book I'm only two chapters into, but I've only heard good about it from other people, so I'm trying to stick it out a little longer.

Diane Burton said...

I'm a fast reader. Sometimes too fast. Then I have go back and see what I missed. Happy Independence Day!

Lexa Cain said...

I know just how you feel. My evil editor is so honed to work on my own and CPs' stuff that I read with a very critical eye. I've had to get used to skimming quickly and beating my evil editor with a stupid stick, so she's too woozy to point out everything that's wrong. Then I take a few days after I finish to get the sour taste out of my mouth before writing a positive and supportive review. Books aren't beta reads, and authors don't want a crit. They get plenty of honest opinions from the general public. I just try to support them and help them sell. I only do 1 or 2 a month though. Too little time. So I suggest you learn to skim and use a stupid stick! LOL!

kimbacaffeinate said...

Happy 4th. By the my third year of blogging I mastered the art of skimming and just flat out DNFing a book. It has eliminated reading slumps and also made me more adventurous and willing to try new authors/genres.

cleemckenzie said...

I've become a much more critical reader since I started writing stories. I love it when I fall into a story and can stay there until the end.

SA Larsenッ said...

Catching up on the TBR list is admirable. I don't know if I'll ever get caught up on mine. I wish I could clone myself to just read. Ahh... That would be awesome!

Lynda R Young said...

I'm a super slow reader as well. I envy those who can finish a book in a day let alone a couple of hours. I'm also a highly analytic reader too (I prefer 'analytical' over 'critical'...hehehe).

mike spain said...

Nice battle two very different artists, female vs male voice, different genres which makes it a good one. Both have talent but I prefer Greenwood's version.

Anonymous said...

I read the reviews on Goodreads before picking up a book. A handful of the top reviews and a handful of the 1-star reviews. It helps in dismissing books I know I won't enjoy right from the get go, but sometimes I wonder if I'm missing out on great things? I'd like to branch out, but it seems like every time I do I feel disappointed. :/

I prefer Beyonce's version of the song. I don't like country so the first one right off the bat turned me off and then the video itself irked me. I know that shouldn't be part of the judgement, but I'd already determined I didn't like that song. So.