Going Solo

introversion and creativity, Aspasía S. Bissas

According to a BBC article, recent research has confirmed that alone time is good for your concentration, health, and creativity. Is anyone else not remotely surprised? Any introvert can tell you that spending time on your own is a necessity, particularly when it comes to creative pursuits.

introversion and creativity, introvert meme Aspasía S. Bissas

As much as I enjoy spending time with friends, I seem to never be able to get any writing done when I do. Even if it’s only for a couple of hours, socializing drains me, leaving no energy to think, let alone create. I’m not advocating for isolation (unless that’s your thing), but the more time I spend being social, the more appealing the hermit lifestyle starts to look.

introversion and creativity, introvert meme Aspasía S. Bissas

I’m always a little skeptical of people in creative fields who are extroverts. The extroverts I know are constantly on the run, always social, always busy. When do they find time to create? How do they focus? I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it’s difficult to picture someone coming home from a party and feeling inspired to do anything other than sleep it off.

introversion and creativity, introvert meme Aspasía S. Bissas

I’m still trying to find a balance between spending time with the people I care about and getting the necessary solitude I need to create. Sometimes I wish texting counted as socializing, or that I could carry on a conversation while mentally working on a chapter or two. How about you–are you an introvert or extrovert? What helps or hinders your creativity? Share in the comments…

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

 

Originally posted on 19 March 2018

Book Tag: The A to Z Bookish Survey

stack of books, Aspasia S. Bissas
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I’m excited to announce that I’ve finished the first draft of a new story set in the Love Lies Bleeding universe and inspired by true events! Details and cover reveal to come–make sure to follow or subscribe so you won’t miss out…

In the meantime, it’s always fun to take part in a book tag, and this one found its way to me via A.M. Molvik’s Ramblings

Author You’ve Read The Most From:

Isabel Allende. Love her work. Close second: Ilona Andrews, if only because the Kate Daniels series has so many books in it.

Best Sequel Ever:

I’ll go with Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. You can’t go wrong with more Alice.

through the looking glass, Aspasia S. Bissas
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Currently Reading:

The Library of Greek Mythology by Apollodorus (I’m trying to read more Classical Lit).

Drink Of Choice While Reading:

Water or tea, I guess, which are my drinks of choice most of the time anyway.

tea and reading, Aspasia S, Bissas
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E-Reader Or Physical Book?

Mainly physical books, but an e-reader is perfect for travel or commuting (or school–I wish I’d had one when I was lugging around textbooks every day).

e-reader or physical books, Aspasia S. Bissas
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Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Been Friends With In High School:

Marco Alisdair from The Night Circus, or maybe Klaus Baudelaire (A Series of Unfortunate Events).

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende. It caught my eye in a secondhand shop and was the first book of hers I read. Now she’s one of my favourite authors.

Chile, Daughter of Fortune, Isabel Allende
Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

Hidden Gem Book:

Find a book by an indie author. Does the book’s description sound interesting? If yes, then enjoy that hidden gem!

Important Moment in your Reading Life:

Aside from learning how to read, maybe it was the first time I read a difficult book and really got it.

Just Finished:

The latest (and it seems, last, alas) Kate Daniels book (Magic Triumphs) by Ilona Andrews.

so many books, aspasia s. bissas
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Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

If the story is interesting to me, I’ll read just about anything. That said, however, I have no interest in abusive relationships portrayed as “romance.” I’m also tired of dystopian fiction–I think we’re all getting enough of that in reality.

Longest Book You’ve Read:

Probably Ulysses (it felt like the longest, anyway).

Major Book Hangover Because Of:

The Good: Every time I finished a Harry Potter book, and ultimately when I finished the entire series.

The Bad: When I finished Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and was left wondering wtf I just read (Harry’s name might be on the cover, but this book does not deserve that title).

The Ugly: A series I finished not too long ago that was so bad I’m still reeling. I posted about it here.

book hangover, Aspasía S. Bissas
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Number of Bookcases You Own:

25 (which is one reason why I’m not a fan of open concept design–I need walls!)

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

I’ve re-read a number of books, but the one I probably re-read the most was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Every time a new book came out, I’d read the entire series again. Since Deathly Hallows (the last book) came out, I’ve re-read the entire series a few more times.

Preferred Place To Read:

Somewhere quiet and comfortable with good lighting.

reading in a cozy spot, Aspasía S. Bissas
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Quote That Inspires You/Gives You All The Feels From A Book You’ve Read:

Not a single quote, but a passage from Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews:

“In basic terms, a fractal is a system that doesn’t become simpler when analyzed on smaller and smaller levels….It doesn’t end….It can’t be explained by mathematical analysis, so humanity, as it so often does, declared it to be a mathematical curiosity and swept it under the rug. Except the fractal occurs again and again….Left to its own devices, nature defaults to a fractal. A human settlement is a fractal. It is a complex system with randomly interacting components that is adaptive on every level. The pattern of the evolution of a single cell to complex organism is a fractal. The way man approaches his quest for knowledge is a fractal. Think of it: biology, the study of living things. A simple concept…”

A straight line appeared on the floor.

“As man accumulates knowledge, the volume of information becomes too much. He feels the need to subdivide it.”

The line split into three branches marked with labels: zoology, botany, anatomy, then split again. Botany grew horticulture, forestry, plant morphology, plant systematics. Zoology splintered into zoological morphology and systematics, then into comparative anatomy, animal physiology, behavioral ecology…It kept building and building, splitting, growing, branching….

“And that’s the crux of our problem…Man can’t handle the chaos.”

I went in expecting a good story. I came away with insight into life, the universe, and the limits of the human mind (along with a good story). Not bad.

Fractal, branching fractal, the complexity of everything, Aspasía S. Bissas
Image via “Fractals in Nature,” Cosmos

Reading Regret:

That I didn’t keep a record of the books I read when I was younger. Not only have I forgotten the titles of books I read and loved (and will likely never be able to find again), but I’ll never have an accurate count of how much I’ve actually read.

Series You Started And Need To Finish (all books are out in series):

I can’t think of anything in fiction, but there’s a series of science books I started a while  back that I would like to finish (not going to happen anytime soon, though).

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

Not necessarily my top three, but three from my list of favourites (and I’ll try to stick to ones I haven’t already mentioned): Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky, Chocolat by Joanne Harris, Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer (graphic novel trilogy) by Van Jensen.

Unapologetic Fangirl For:

Reading. It doesn’t matter what or how or when–just read. Your life will be better for it–I promise. (But do yourself a favour and branch out a little–if you always read a version of the same thing, it’ll get boring after a while).

reading is magic, Aspasía S. Bissas
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Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

I don’t usually pay too much attention to new releases because I don’t mind waiting to get a book (I happily read books that are 10+ years old), but there are a couple coming out that I’m excited about: The Book of Lost Saints by Daniel José Elder, The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, and Sacred Smoke by Amy Blackthorn.

Worst Bookish Habit:

Eating while I read, although I don’t do it much anymore. But I have stained a few books over the years (oops).

X Marks The Spot

Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

The Wars by Timothy Findley

Your Latest Book Purchase:

The last book I got was an e-book, The Confectioner’s Guild by Claire Luana.

latest book buy, Aspasía S. Bissas

ZZZ-Snatcher Book:

Last Book That Kept You Up WAY Late:

Unfortunately it was the last book in that series I ended up hating (see “Major Book Hangover,” above). I was almost finished the book, so I decided it was worth losing sleep to find out how it all concluded. I spent most of the night reading (there was more left than I realized) and then I was so upset at the horrible decisions the author made that I couldn’t sleep at that point if I tried. I stayed awake all night, reading and then thinking about how much time I wasted on such an awful series. I would really like that sleep (and my time, money, and peace of mind) back.

books, Aspasía S. Bissas
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What’s the last book you bought? Have you lost any sleep lately to stay up reading? What’s the 27th book on your shelf? Share your answers in the comments below, or leave the link if you post this tag on your own blog 🙂

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

PS: It’s your last chance to take advantage of Smashwords’ summer sale and get Love Lies Bleeding at half off. Don’t forget Blood Magic–always free!

If You Can’t Stand the Heat, You Can Still Cope with Summer

how to beat summer heat
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Toronto is going through its usual series of summer heat waves, where temperatures reach well into the 40s (104F+). It’s hot, it’s sticky, it’s miserable. There’s an inescapable burning orb in the sky, buzzing insects in your face, and a pervasive smell of fake coconut (AKA suntan lotion, which is actually one of the pleasanter smells one encounters at this time of year). Summer can be rough, even intolerable, for a lot of people. Being of Greek descent you’d think I’d love the sun and heat. You’d be wrong. Born and raised in Canada, I’m far more tolerant of low temperatures than high ones, but even my ancestors had a word for people like me:

Ancient Greek Word of the Day: κακοθερής (kakotherēs), unfitted to endure summer heat (via Tumblr)

So what do you do when you and summer just don’t get along?

  • stay inside as much as possible during the day
  • when you have to go out, hats, parasols, and sunscreen are your friends
  • if it’s hot and you can’t cool down at home, the library is perfect (by the way, Love Lies Bleeding is now available at the Toronto Public Library! If your local library doesn’t carry it, ask them to start 🙂 )
  • movie theatres, coffee shops, museums, and art galleries are all good places to cool off for a few hours
  • look for nighttime entertainment and activities, such as concerts and festivals
  • reading is always a good (and portable) option. You’ll find endless articles about beach reads, but check out this article on alternatives to beach reading for sun haters.

Thank you, not you meme

 

Are you looking for books featuring characters that avoid the sun as much as you do? I’ve got you covered:

Ebook sale on books by Aspasia S. Bissas

Get Love Lies Bleeding for only $1.50 (seriously!) until the end of July–and don’t forget your FREE copy of Blood Magic.

How do you feel about summer? Share your thoughts in the comments…

Cheers,
Aspasía S. Bissas

beating the heat
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Book Tag: Reading Habits

adult blur book business
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Just something fun for today. Tag snagged from Dreamland Book Blog.

1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

architecture bed bedroom ceiling
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I mostly like to read in bed, but any comfy spot with decent lighting will do.

2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?

gray book with gray lace bookmark
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I prefer to use bookmarks, but I hate losing my spot, so anything will do in a pinch, including other books. I wish publishers would go back to including ribbon bookmarks inside hardcovers.

3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/ a certain amount of pages?

When I need to take a break I like to stop at the end of a chapter, but if I can’t, then I try to stop at a spot I can remember to go back to.

4. Do you eat or drink while reading?

clear glass teacup with coffee beverage
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If no one else is around, I’ll always read while I’m eating. I’ve messed up a few books doing that, though.

5. Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?

information sign on shelf
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Here’s the thing with multitasking–you might get more done, but you won’t get anything done well (feel free to stitch that on a pillow). If something is important enough that I want to appreciate or retain it, then I need to skip other distractions. People who say they can do ten things at once and concentrate on all of it are impressively self deluded.

6. One book at a time or several at once?

books stack old antique
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I usually have two or three going: my main book, one I read a bit at a time between main books, and an ebook.

7. Reading at home or everywhere?

Everywhere I can. Reading at home is nicer, though–comfier chairs and fewer interruptions 🙂

8. Reading out loud or silently in your head?

two boys reading a book
Photo by Victoria Borodinova on Pexels.com

Unless I’m reading to someone, I read silently.

9. Do you read ahead or skip pages?

Funny enough, I’d never skipped ahead–until two weeks ago. I was reading a novel that was getting upsetting and for the first time that I can remember, I peeked at the end to see how it turned out (it ended the way I was hoping, thankfully). Then I went back and read it all the way through. I don’t know what it was about this book that made me feel the need to check the end.

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

pile of assorted title book lot selective focus photographt
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I hate the sound of a cracking spine (not to mention the end result), so I try to keep them like new, but I’m not always successful.

11. Do you write in your books?

bible page
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No, because I’m civilized. I did highlight/underline passages in my textbooks when I was in university, and I sign copies of my book for anyone who asks, but those are the only exceptions. If I want to take notes, I do it separately. For anyone who likes to annotate the books they read, consider ebooks–they’re ideal for that.

12. When do you find yourself reading? Morning, afternoon, evening, whenever you get the chance or all the time?

Whenever I can, which mostly seems to be before bed or first thing in the morning.

13. What is your best setting to read in?

black ceramic mug on round white and beige coaster on white textile beside book
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Somewhere quiet, comfortable, and with good lighting. I like reading at the beach too, but it’s rare I get the chance.

14. What do you do first – Read or Watch?

Almost always read. I did watch the first Harry Potter movie before I read any of the books, though, which is what got me interested in the books (and ultimately led to a slight obsession).

15. What form do you prefer? Audiobook, E-book or physical book?

books classroom close up college
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I like physical books (although the paper dries out my hands like mad). Ebooks are also good (and great for travelling), but as a writer I’m staring at screens all day long, so I try to limit my screen time when I can. (If I can find the charger, I’ll start using my Kindle again–those screens are very easy on the eyes.)

15. Do you have a unique habit when you read?

Not that I can think of, although I do have a tendency to (over)share what’s going on in my books with my SO, which probably drives him crazy (he’s very patient about listening to me talk about the trials and tribulations of fictional characters he’s never heard of, though).

17. Do book series have to match?

books
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I assume this is referring to the covers/formats matching. Yes, I’d rather all the books in a series match, but it’s not the end of the world if they don’t.

 

How about your reading habits? Tell me your answers in the comments (or let me know if you’ve posted this tag on your own blog).

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

 

It’s Okay to Hate Your Work

4-stages

If you’re creative at all, you’re well familiar with the feeling of hating your own work. At some point you’ll be 100% convinced that everything you’ve done is garbage. It’s not fun. It’s also probably not accurate. More importantly, just because you hate your work doesn’t mean anyone else does or will. Need proof? Here are some famous writers who hated their own work…

Anthony Burgess regretted A Clockwork Orange, claiming the misinterpretation of it (partly from the way it was presented in the film) would “pursue me until I die,” and also calling it his “little squib of a book” in his introduction to a later edition.

Stephen King thought his book Carrie was such a waste of time that he threw the manuscript away. His wife fished it out of the trash and encouraged him to keep trying.

Leo Tolstoy ended his life regretting and being ashamed of having written both War and Peace and Anna Karenina. Tolstoy scholar Pavel Basinsky claims it’s the Russian way to renounce everything they’ve done before. It might also be the writer’s way.

Speaking of Russian writers, Vladimir Nabokov got so disgusted with Lolita that at one point as he was working on it, he fed the pages into a fire. His wife, Vera, saved as much as she could and Nabokov ended up completing the novel.

Peter Benchley so regretted the paranoia toward sharks caused by his novel Jaws that he because a shark conservationist. He claimed in an interview that he could never write a book like that again, having learned about what sharks are actually like. Maybe hating your own work isn’t always a bad thing.

How do you cope when you hate your work? Share in the comments…

To find out more about these and other writers and the books they’ve written and hated, check out LitHub and Goodreads.

[This was originally posted 5 March 2018.]