2019 Writing & Reading Goals

Welcome to the New Year everyone! With the beginning of a new year, it’s time to start planning ahead for what we hope to accomplish in 2019. 2018, as was the case for most of us, was a year full of turmoil and heartache. While there are no guarantees that the year ahead will be better, we can only hope. As an author and blogger, I have been planning out what I hope to accomplish in the coming year. That’s why I’m going to publicly outline my goals for 2019.

Build Website

I hope to continue building my website that you guys are currently visiting. While I want to get more viewers and followers, my ultimate goal is to provide more exposure for other authors, review and preview amazing books coming in 2019, and meet some new and amazing friends in the author community. 

Read 150 Books Or More

I will make this public on Goodreads as well, but I more than surpassed my goal of books read in 2018, and so I want to challenge myself to read 150 books or more in the coming year.

Enter 2-4 Writing Contests

Writing is going to become much more frequent and a part of my life. In 2018 my own personal writing took a step back. Between my day job becoming much more frequent and a priority, building my website and taking on more responsibilities in my personal life, my writing fell to the wayside. I did publish a short novella and began working on the third novella in that series. I also wrote the fourth book in my Nightmare Wars series. However most of that writing has fallen to the wayside, not edited or reworked or even getting a second draft. 

That’s why in the coming year, I want to further my writing goals and enter at least 2-4 writing contests. This will give me the motivation not only to write, but edit and rewrite these stories and put them out there for others to see and judge. 

Submit 2-4 Stories For Anthologies

Similar to the contests, I want to submit 2-4 stories for anthologies. I get notices all the time for publications putting anthologies together and I’d love to collaborate and work with other authors in this way. 

Edit 1-2 Books Previously Published

One thing that I’ve learned in my years as a writer and blogger/reviewer is that there is always room for improvement and more lessons to be learned. When I was first starting out, I definitely failed to edit and flesh out the stories I wrote as a young writer. I want to take some of the stories I still love that I published prematurely in my writing career, and go back and fix them. I want to bring the stories to life and edit them so that readers will appreciate them more the way that I do.

Write 1-2 Novels

I have so many series in the works and so many stories floating around in my mind, that it’s time to put some of them down to paper (or a computer screen). I hope to write at least 1-2 novels in the coming year. 

Write 2-4 Short Stories

In addition to the 1-2 novels, I hope to write 2-4 short stories (not including the contests or anthologies I plan to write stories for). 

Adapt First Graphic Novel

I would love to adapt one of my novels into a graphic novel. I plan to study and learn how to write a graphic novel, and hopefully will find an artist who is willing to collaborate on the project.

Research, Investigate and Write Book On Southern California Haunting Claims

This is a passion project I hope to pursue in the coming year. My mom and I are deeply passionate about the paranormal, more specifically finding the right science behind the paranormal (we are not religious and believe there is a science that has yet to be discovered in regards to the “spirit”). One thing we have dreamed of is going to places around the world, investigating and writing about what we found/discovered. Our goal in 2019 is to try and do this by writing our first book together on local haunts in the Southern California area. 

Monthly Vlogs on Author Anthony Avina Channel

This is not specifically a writing goal, but it is related. I used to have a vlog channel called Avina Vlogs, but after all of the turmoil and changes to YouTube, I left it behind. However I loved making videos, and want to do it again. So not only will I be filming and uploading a video each month to my new YouTube channel, Author Anthony Avina, but I will be uploading them to Facebook, Instagram and hopefully my website as well. I’m doing monthly vlogs as I have a full schedule and filming daily is not an option at this time. I may look into restarting my podcast again or creating a new one, but that is not confirmed at this time.

What are your writing goals in 2019? Any books you hope to tackle in the coming year? Leave your comments below, and to keep up on whether or not I hit my goals, be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and here as I post my progress.

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Best Books of 2018

Hello fellow readers and book enthusiasts. I can’t believe it’s the end of 2018 already. This year has both seemed to drag on and flown by way too quickly all at once. This year I really focused most of my energy on not only my day job, but on building this blog into the best possible writing and book related author website possible. I’ve gotten the opportunity to work with some truly amazing authors and publishing companies this year, and as a result I have been lucky enough to review over a hundred novels in total in 2018. 

With so many amazing books under my belt in 2018, I thought it might be fun to take a look back at the year and see which books shone the brightest. So here are my picks for the Best Books of 2018!

Zenith: The Androma Saga by Lindsay Cummings & Sasha Alsberg

As a longtime fan of both Lindsay Cummings and Sasha Alsberg on YouTube, I knew I wanted to pick up a copy of Zenith and give it a read, and boy was I not disappointed. As a fan of sci-fi the concept already drew me in, but the way the story was written allowed for some amazing character development. It felt like a modern day, YA version of Joss Whedon’s Firefly with a mostly female All-Star cast of characters. With shocking twists and turns and a good blend of YA character development and mature storylines, this novel perfectly set up the eager anticipation for a sequel, (which I cannot wait for Nexus, the second book in the series, to drop this year). 

Keeper by Kim Chance

Another amazing read for a YouTuber/AuthorTuber that I greatly admire, author Kim Chance’s debut novel Keeper was a fantastic read. I’m a sucker for anything involving the supernatural and fantasy in a modern setting, so this story of a young girl who can see a chilling sight of a ghost and learns she is part of something far greater and deadlier than she ever knew really stood out to me. The story felt raw, emotional and powerful in a very real sense, and as a result I am sitting on the edge of my seat for the next book in the series “Seeker”. 

The Fifth To Die by J.D. Barker

One of my all time favorite reads of the year, author J.D. Barker is quickly proving to be one of the next powerhouse horror authors in the industry. The Fifth To Die is the highly anticipated sequel to the thrilling horror read The Fourth Monkey, and the growing mythology of the 4MK killer and the detective obsessed with bringing him to justice takes so many twists and turns that you will be left breathless by the book’s final pages. Ending on a cliffhanger, I am as obsessed as the story’s detective to see how the third book turns out. 

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

One of the more surprising hits of 2018 has to be The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn. This year’s chart climbing hit thriller focuses on a woman who develops a fear of leaving her home, only to witness horrible crimes at her neighbors home. Battling a police department who fears her phobia of leaving the home is causing her to hallucinate strange events and a shocking mystery involving her seemingly perfect neighbors makes this the year’s “Gone Girl” type of story, and creates a narrative like no other that makes me feel as if author A.J. Finn has a long career in the genre. 

It Came From The Basement by M.R. Kessell

A mature illustrated book that screams of childhood memories, this novel showcases horror filled monster tales offering various horrific situations involving scary beats who emerge from the basement of this home. The illustrations and attention to detail in creating this adult themed illustrated novel make this one of the more unique reads I had this year. 

Superhero Ethics by Travis Smith

This unique read really stuck out to me, as it was unlike any other superhero book I’d read before. A non-fiction book that analyzes various superheroes in popular culture and reflects on who best represents what our world needs from an ethical standpoint, the author pairs various heroes against one another in various categories, from intelligence and brawn to animalistic natures and god-like power. It’s a profound read that will give superhero fans a new appreciation for the genre, while giving us a new perspective on the heroes we thought we knew. 

Boylord: Genesis by Nathan Peabody

One of the most unique graphic novels I had the pleasure of reviewing this year was Boylord: Genesis by Nathan Peabody. I had the honor of meeting Nathan years ago at San Francisco Comic Con when work on this story first began, and I was sent a full hardback copy of the full story this year. The illustrations and artwork were breathtaking, and the blend of sci-fi, fantasy and horror felt less like a mashup and more of a natural progression of the genres. I highly recommend you grabbing a copy of this book. 

Scarlet Reign: Malice of the Dark Witch by R.D. Crist

A newcomer to the YA scene, this dark tale of witchcraft and a young woman who must grieve her mother’s untimely passing while trying to survive in this deadly new world really stuck out to me. The author had a rich command over the genre as we explored this young woman’s journey to discover who she really was, who her mother was and what dangers she was being hid from while grieving really made this a unique read. 

Dracul by J.D. Barker and Dacre Stoker

One of the highlights of the year had to be the highly anticipated prequel to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, titled Dracul. Written by my favorite emerging horror author J.D. Barker alongside Bram Stoker descendant Dacre Stoker, the story put Bram himself in the seat of being the protagonist, exploring a “true” history of how this classic novel came to life. Discovering that the author had the first 100 pages cut from his manuscript and that he originally presented it as a true story to the publishers made this read all the more fascinating, and I highly recommend any fans of the Dracula lore to pick up this fantastic novel. 

Mermaids Are Real: The Mystiq Prong by Bo Wu

One sub-genre of the YA genre that I’ve always been fascinated by but have yet to tackle was the Mermaid mythology. While films like The Little Mermaid by Disney have showcased some aspects of mermaid lore, author Bo Wu created a whole new twist on the genre, creating a whole world under the ocean. The character development and coming of age element of the story was brilliant, and fans of the recently released Aquaman might be interested in this underwater adventure as well. 

We Are The Underground by Israfel Savid 

If I were to pick one book of poetry that I loved the most this year, it would be Israfel Savid’s We Are The Underground. Blending beautiful poetic imagery with themes from the astrological mythology, the author created a running narrative that people of all backgrounds could find themselves in.

One Night’s Stay by C.B. Collins

The final novel I’ll recommend is the shocking and captivating horror novel One Night’s Stay by C.B. Collins. A blend of Salem’s Lot, Psycho and survival horror novels, the story finds several individuals drawn to this local motel outside of a mysterious town, only to be attacked by some unseen and monstrous force that will force them to fight for survival. It’s a wonderful twist on the supernatural horror genre that I highly recommend.

What do you guys think? Which of these books have you read in 2018? What was your favorite read of 2018? Let me know in the comments below, and check out all of my reviews of these novels by clicking on the buttons above! Have a wonderful New Year’s Everyone. I’ll see you in 2019!

Write On Your Terms: Why You Can Succeed As A Writer Without Committing To NaNoWriMo

Let me start off by saying this: I love NaNoWriMo. I’ve participated twice in the last four years, and each time I felt myself challenged, excited and creatively supercharged with each passing day. The process of writing in 30 days a full 50,000 word or more novel is exhilarating to say the least. So this post is not a knock to the event at all. In fact the event is still a very huge presence in my writing in the month of November.

However, for any authors out there who are not participating or can’t participate in the event, know that it is ok. You do not have to participate in the event to be a great writer in life or even just in the month of November. I struggled for a couple weeks on whether or not I wanted to participate in this year’s event.

Am I participating?

So many factors came into play when it came to my ultimate decision. I am working four jobs right now, all of which take up a lot of my time. In addition to this, I have responsibilities at home that take up even more time of my day, so by the time I get to the point where I have time to write, I’m either exhausted or have very little time to write, only getting a few hundred words in at most. I also have a project I am deeply committed to, but I am already at over 40,000 words. I’m not sure how many more words my project will end up taking on, but I don’t want the pressure of having to write another 50,000 just to satisfy the goal of NaNoWriMo and writing more than I really needed. Each story is unique (as many of you writers know), and should not be constrained by word counts for the sake of statistics. It usually sacrifices the story and flow of the novel overall as a result. I started coming up with an outline for a short story anthology I want to write to create a whole new project to work on, but with all of the other factors in play, the timing for NaNoWriMo 2018 just didn’t feel right.

So I decided ultimately to hold off for the year. I felt at first like I was failing to join the writing community or failing to be the best writer I could be. Then I started to ask myself: why? My day jobs consist of writing. I have a whole project I’m in the midst of working on that will include more writing. I’m neck deep into the world of writing. Why should I feel any less of a writer just because I’m not participating in the event.

Your Terms

There is no shame in taking your own path when it comes to writing. Whether you have an existing project, a project that doesn’t require 50,000 words or more or already is near that goal, you don’t have to commit to an event to feel like a great writer. The best advice I can give to a writer is to just be you. Write what you love, and write it on your own terms. Whether it takes you a month or ten years, don’t let anyone else tell you, (although, unless you are writing the next great novel, ten years is a bit long. Just kidding). Even I am still growing as a writer, and learning that you cannot rush the creative process or a project as a whole. To anyone participating in NaNoWriMo, good luck to you guys and I wish you well. I look forward to reading some of these projects in the future, and to interacting with you guys throughout the month as we all write alongside you. To everyone else, be you, and write on your own terms.

What do you guys think? Does this help any of you writers out there? Do any other authors have advice for anyone not participating in NaNoWriMo? Leave your comments below and be sure to share this post on your social media sites.

Check out my latest review of Firstborn by Tosca Lee here! Also grab your copy of my first two YA novellas in the Nightmare Academy series here!

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Author Anthony Avina’s Blog Featured on Feedspot Top 100 Book Review Blogs List

Happy to share that I made the Top 100 Book Review Blogs list for Feedspot. Thank you to everyone who has supported me over the last year as I built up this website. I look forward to continuing this journey and making this book review and author work a full time thing. Check out the rest of the amazing blogs on this list down below! Feedspot Blog Reader

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Hope At The House of Mouse (Disneyland 2018)

My Day At Disneyland

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The blazing Southern California heat couldn’t touch stop us from having the time of our lives. When the world thinks of Southern California residents, they have a certain image of us. They see beach dwellers, Hollywood obsessed actors and non-stop party goers. They see the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry, and the pitfalls of crime and horrors on the streets of our cities. Thanks to social media, a lot of people also tend to assume that anyone who lives in Southern California goes to Disneyland all the time. They would be wrong.

When I was a kid, trips to Disneyland were a once a year adventure. They were ingrained into our childhood memories, like sand mixing into the fibers of a carpet. No matter how hard you try not to dwell on the past and yearn to return to a happy time, those memories just won’t go away. For someone like myself, who struggles with physical disabilities 24/7, getting down to Anaheim and the Happiest Place On Earth is no easy task.

Entering The Park

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For the first time, I got to experience a day at Disneyland and California Adventure like never before. Setting out with my fellow Disney obsessed fans (who happen to also be my mother and sister) we ventured into the park and experienced it like it was the first time. From our first time eating lunch at the famed Carnation Cafe to the soothing ride on the classic attraction Jungle Cruise, the day was like someone scavenged through the memories of my childhood and plucked it out of my mind.

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Honoring My Grandfather

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The highlight, (one of many), of the day for me came in New Orleans Square. Years ago on Christmas Eve, my family and I had the misfortune of having to say goodbye to my grandfather, my mother’s father. He was a kind, caring family man who may not have been perfect, but he loved his family dearly. He was the kind of man who wouldn’t let you get into his home without bombarding you with affectionate hugs. He gave my mother, sister and I our love for cheesy horror movies and musicals. He is the man who introduced my mother, and subsequently me, to the works of Stephen King, the author who would inspire me to become a writer in the first place. He was an amazing soul who worked his entire life as a carpet layer to provide for his family, and gave everyone a lifetime’s worth of memories to cherish.

It was one of those memories that led to this momentous day at Disney. While in New Orleans Square, my mother surprised my sister and I with a glass figurine each. We learned that as a child, her father would take her to Disneyland, and together they would watch the glass figurines being made in that shop, the Cristal d’Orleans. Then he would buy her one of the figurines. It was a symbol of the great memories she made at the park with her father, and for years she dreamt of passing it down to us. After a decade away from the park, we finally had the opportunity to learn of this experience she had, and together we had an emotional bonding moment I will cherish for the rest of my life.

California Adventure

Then we continued our fun in California Adventure. An area of the park we never experienced as children since it had yet to come into existence fully, we explored the fun and excitement of the park. It was Pixar Fest, and we got to see some amazing sights. We traveled back in time to the days when boardwalk games were still popular and won some fun prizes. We listened to amazing Mariachi Music, including a wonderful rendition of our current favorite Disney tune, “Remember Me” from Coco. We shopped and dined, and together we experienced one of the best days of our lives.

Some may not understand fully why a day at Disneyland could be so magical to a family of adults, but to us, honoring our childhood and the memories we shared, is something everyone should experience throughout their lives. The world of Disney helped shape part of our lives, giving us the means to explore masterful storytelling, emotional highs and lows in life, and best of all, discovering the magic of hope. In our daily lives, we experience physical pain from our disabilities, emotional pain from those illnesses and the despairing world around us, and mental pain knowing those things aren’t something we can change overnight. Yet in that one day, we got to experience nonstop wonder, excitement, fun and best of all, hope.

A Day To Cherish

We laughed. We cried. We made memories together, and we made promises to one another. Promises to honor the day we had with one another and make it an annual trip (hopefully) in the future. To make it a goal to get to the park at least once a year, and honor the memories we shared with one another. To honor those who are no longer with us in body, but remain in our hearts. To look adversity and pain in the face and smile, as the hope for a brighter tomorrow races towards us. For myself and my family, that is what the happiest place on Earth means to us. That’s what Disney has done for our family.

What is your favorite childhood memory? What’s one place you will never stop wanting to go to no matter how old you are? Leave your comments below.

https://disneyland.disney.go.com/

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How I Cope With Depression & Anxiety

Hello there everyone! You guys have read a lot of different posts from me. I mostly post book reviews, author interviews and personal writing blog posts about my own work as an author. That’s what you’ve come to know about me over the years, but one thing you may have noticed as well is that I am very passionate about mental health awareness. There are many reasons for my increased passion for this topic, but today I’m going to tell you the personal connection I have to mental health awareness. You see…I suffer from depression and anxiety.

I’ve touched upon this briefly in old videos on my YouTube channel Avina Vlogs. However as I’ve had the pleasure of working with the amazing company BetterHelp on several guest blog posts, I thought I’d take a more hands on approach and work with the company to bring you my own personal mental health struggles.

You see, my depression struggles began when I was sixteen years old. At that time I was an active kid in high school, working hard in school and holding down a steady job, earning money for my future. I was studying, working, and gearing towards my future education in college. I was losing weight, hitting the gym hard and was living what society has deemed a typical high school life. Yet whether you want to call it fate or just a stroke of bad luck, the universe had other plans in store.

One night in November 2006, I was at the gym playing a pickup game of basketball when I landed on a slippery spot on the court. My legs gave out under me and I proceeded to tear a ligament in my ankle. That would be the night my life changed forever. To make a long story short my life got turned upside down. My ankle to this day after multiple surgeries never healed properly. After my injury, illnesses I inherited from my family began to crop up,. This stopped me from working out of the house, forced me to finish my high school career from home and set me on the course I’m on today.

Now while this string of bad luck allowed me to find my purpose in life, which was writing, it also set me up with a lifetime of health struggles that will never end. This has been the biggest contributing factor in my mental health struggles. Since then I have struggled with crippling depression and anxiety, especially and more specifically social anxiety. It’s a struggle to get out of bed each day and do what I’m capable of doing, knowing I’ll never be able to do what I once was able to. The struggle never stops, but there are ways I’ve learned over the years to cope. Some are more personal, while others may be able to help you as well.

  1. Talk to someone. This is the most important step you can take. Sitting alone with your thoughts in this state is dangerous, and if not for my amazing family I would have been alone. Speak to family, friends, or professional help. No matter what find someone to reach out to.
  2. Find a Creative Outlet. This for me has included various things, such as writing and reading, blogging, photography, videography, playing video games and so much more. Perhaps art or design is your outlet. Find something to occupy your mind.
  3. Health. Eat healthy food, exercising or moving in general can help with your depression.
  4. Seek Help. If the depression is overwhelming, seek help from a professional. Don’t let others tell you differently. Ignore those who support the stigma around mental health. Take control and find someone to help you. They can either prescribe the right medication for you, help you find natural ways of coping or talk you through the process. A great way to do this is to find a psychiatrist, which thanks to my friends at BetterHelp you can do by clicking the link here.    https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/psychologists/reasons-to-choose-an-online-psychiatrist/

Thanks so much everyone for listening. If you’d like to know more about my mental health journey or other’s who struggle with it and how they cope, leave a comment below and share this post on your social media sites. Thanks to my friends at BetterHelp for the link to this amazing resource, and I will talk to you all in the next post.

The Basics of Bipolar Disorder (Guest Post)

Hi there my friends. I’m honored to once again be hosting a guest post from the incredible website BetterHelp. The post they’ve put together for you guys is near and dear to my heart, as Bipolar Disorder affects someone I love and care for dearly. I may talk about that in a separate post, but for now I hope this post will help anyone suffering from Bipolar Disorder or anyone who knows and loves someone suffering from Bipolar Disorder. Take special care to read the article and click the links, especially if any of you feel you need help in this regard. Thank you once again to BetterHelp for this amazing guest post, and I hope you all will enjoy it.

Anthony Avina

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You may know it as manic-depressive disorder, but it is typically now referred to as bipolar disorder. This is a serious mental health disorder that affects close to three percent of the United States population. Bipolar disorder is a double-edged sword in that it causes both severe depression and mania or hypomania, which is an extremely high mood. There are several types of bipolar disorder, including bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymia.

Bipolar I Disorder

Bipolar I disorder is characterized by having at least one manic episode that lasts at least seven days and is followed by a depressive or hypomanic episode. Those with bipolar I disorder can also have psychosis, which is a period when emotions and thoughts are impaired so much that you are no longer able to tell what is real and what is not real. This sometimes includes hallucinations.

Bipolar II Disorder

This condition consists of having more than one period of depression and a period of hypomania but no manic episode. Hypomania is a less severe type of mania that causes some manic episodes but you can still perform your daily activities. Many people with bipolar II disorder are mistakenly diagnosed with depression because they do not consider the hypomania a part of the disorder.

Cyclothymic Disorder

Cyclothymic disorder, or cyclothymia, is a milder type of bipolar disorder. With this disorder, you will have both depression and hypomania on and off for several years but it will not get severe enough to affect your daily life. It is called cyclothymic disorder because you cycle through high and low emotions over and over again. This condition is rare and only affects less than one percent of the American population.

How You Can Tell if You Have Bipolar Disorder

Even though the signs of bipolar disorder can vary from person to person, there are some that are common in all patients. These symptoms include:

Mania

  • Not sleeping
  • Talking louder, faster, and more often than usual
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Trying to do more than you can handle (overbooking yourself)
  • Extreme behaviors such as gambling, unprotected sex, spending money that you cannot afford
  • Drinking in excess or using illegal drugs
  • Rapid thoughts

Depression

  • Feeling sad, despondent, and helpless
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Sleeping more or less than usual
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Eating more or less than usual
  • Chronic aches and pains
  • Anger or aggression
  • Crying bouts for no obvious reasons
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Memory lapses
  • Thoughts of suicide

Risk Factors

According to experts, bipolar disorders are genetic, but they can also be affected by environmental issues like constant and extreme stress, lack of sleep for long periods of time, addiction to alcohol or drugs, physical abnormalities in the brain, and/or chemical or hormonal imbalances.

Treatment

The treatment for bipolar disorder includes medications such as a tricyclic antidepressant, an atypical antidepressant, monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), or a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). In addition, those with bipolar disorder should talk to a therapist on a regular basis. This is important because some of the medications can become less effective over time and your therapist will be able to tell just by talking to you if you need to switch your dosage or medication. If you do not have a therapist to talk to or you are too busy to find the time to make an appointment, you can find a professional on BetterHelp.com. Just click here to talk to someone, with no appointment necessary.

 

Marie Miguel Biography

Marie-Miguel

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.