Please support the work I do through this site

studyingWhat started as one self-published book has now turned into seven, with several five-star reviews and bestseller status on Amazon more than once in the last few years. As my writing platform slowly grows, so has my network as a freelance writer and editor, granting me the ability to work from home doing what I love. I owe all that success to you guys: my readers.

But as you may be aware, the income of a freelancer isn’t always stable, nor is the income exactly the same every month. Much of my income goes toward creating advertisements with carefully targeted audiences on social media to help boost my reach. This can make it difficult to put much in the bank.

To help facilitate this, I’ve set up a Patreon page, where you can pledge to donate a custom amount each month, anywhere from $1 to $100. You can also make one-time donations via PayPal. Every little bit helps!

If giving financially is not an option for you, that’s totally fine! I am deeply grateful to everyone who has reblogged or retweeted my posts, or shared them across other social media platforms. And to everyone who has purchased my books: thank you. Having strangers read my work is a big check mark off my bucket list (bonus when those strangers turn into friends!).

Once again, thank you, and hope to keep hearing (or reading, more accurately) your voices in the discussion threads here.

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A year in review (of books): 2017

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It’s time for my annual Year in Review (of books), which is not technically over yet – there are a few books I hope to finish before January 1st rolls in. You can often infer a lot about how a year went based on some of my favorite titles, which means I must start with the year’s favorite memoir.

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Hello, Sober September

shutterstock_158740667If you’ve read my newest memoir, you may recall a few chapters detailing my complicated relationship with alcohol. “Complicated relationship” feels more appropriate than the ultra-clinical diagnosis of “alcoholism,” especially because this struggle has come and gone in waves. Understandably, it was at its worst when my father died, and in the months before. This time two years ago, I wasn’t going to bed sober anymore. First I needed it to sleep, then to calm down, and eventually to “check out.” My childhood home had turned into a home hospice, and misery was everywhere I went.

Interestingly enough, I was sober the morning my father died. I was sober when I called my then-fiancé, who was unable to leave his job several states away, to tell him that he needed to come home. And I was sober when I spoke at the funeral, which I didn’t think I’d be capable of doing, sober or otherwise.

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Why are we so easily offended?

The stereotype used to be that liberals were the ones easily offended by everything, and were politically correct to a fault. But lately it seems the tables are turning. In my world, both online and off, it is the conservatives who are the easily offended and make mountains out of tiny mustard seeds when there’s absolutely no need for it.

I ask myself often, Is this really what Christianity is all about, or is this just the Christian-tainted culture water in which I swim? I can’t imagine the early Christians bickering about the context of curse words or satirical Facebook memes when persecution and death were so imminent. At some point in evangelical history, aversion or disagreement on faith-related issues became perceived as a threat. For many people, the best way to protect their faith from crumbling like a house of cards is to surround themselves with like-minded people who never challenge their ideals. For many, it’s a virtuous act to avoid the world beyond their bubble.

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When you can’t register shock at the news anymore

Lately I feel guilty about my inability to muster much shock and horror anymore whenever I turn on the news. Many people posted updates last night to say “My heart is breaking” or “I am so horrified,” but I can’t. Maybe it’s because living with depression tints everything with a degree of numbness; maybe because my own cynicism and pessimistic view of the human race makes it easy to believe there will be no end to the creatively brutal ways of killing people.

Whatever the cause, this state of numbness actually makes it easier to keep on taking care of myself in basic ways: getting out of bed, showering, feeding myself. There was a time not too long ago when news of the attack in Nice would have driven me into persistent panic at best, or hiding in a wine bottle at worst…neither of which would enable me to be healthy; to be an agent of change that the world so desperately needs.

Don’t feel bad if you need to turn off the news. Don’t feel like there’s anything wrong with you if you need to censor your newsfeed or avoid certain news outlets to maintain your sanity. Help yourself however you need to so you can help others.

And because it seems needed now more than ever, here’s a sweet sleeping kitty to brighten your day a little.

Self care, unemployment, and what I’ve been reading

This summer, Josh and I made the biggest and scariest step in adulting: we bought a house (one step less scary than having a baby, in my opinion). So now the pressure is on to start saving money: a difficult task for a book hoarder like me. Luckily, I don’t mind rereading old favorites.

Reading and freelance writing are pretty much taking over my summer. As is typical with a new release, the buzz for Confessions of a Jew-ish Skeptic has slowed, though it did pretty well for a solid month and a half: #25 in Judaism, #26 in Ecumenism on Amazon. It even ranked #6 in Ecumenism a month before release, which has never happened with one of my books before (then again, I’ve never had a book available for pre-order until this one). So really, I don’t have much to complain about in the way of book sales. I’ve out-bested my original goal to just have people other than my mom read my work, and that’s no small feat.

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Please support the work I do through this site

I debated for a long time about writing a post like this, even though plenty of bloggers I follow have done it. Writing initially started as a hobby, long before the notion of self-publishing ever occurred to me. When I published my first book in 2012, I had no idea if anyone would ever read it. Now, thanks to my readers, I have results like this:

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Those are the stats of my most recent book, Confessions of a Jew-ish Skeptic, as of one week ago. However, it didn’t end up there through my own efforts. I enlisted the help of several advertising companies, as well as boosted Facebook posts. Self-publishing itself is also a pricey endeavor, with the costs of cover design, editing, and formatting. True, I don’t have to keep publishing on my own – a traditional publisher could take care of that for me. But the reason I continue to choose the indie route is because I enjoy writing the stories I want to write, not just what’s trending.

This may not always be the case – I may try querying someday. But even in traditional publishing, the bulk of marketing still falls onto the author (unless I happen to be picked up by one of the Big Six).

So in the meantime, should you feel moved to do so, your contributions will help me continue to do the work I love full-time. I’m extremely grateful to everyone who has purchased and reviewed my work, taken the time to comment on this blog, and sent me personal messages. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Catniss and Zoey, my two furry co-workers, thank you, too.

Donations can be made here.

‘Me Before You’ was flawed, but not in the way I expected

Me-Before-YouThe trailer pretty much gives away the entire plot, but if you haven’t seen/read it, this post gives away spoilers.

I went to see Me Before You with every intention of hating it. The criticisms I’ve read about its pro-euthanasia message are valid and worth reading. I haven’t yet read the book, so my opinion is two-dimensional at best.

But honestly? What I saw did not communicate “All physically disabled people should kill themselves because their lives are not as meaningful as those of able-bodied people.” What I saw was a story of one man’s decision to end his life, for reasons that the criticisms I read neglected to mention.

The critics gave me the impression that Will Traynor was healthy in every way except that his legs didn’t work. Had that been the case, and he chose euthanasia anyway, I would have been angry. But the reviews didn’t mention the other complications from his motorcycle accident: being paralyzed from the neck down, the bouts of pneumonia from a weakened immune system, the dangerous roller coaster of body temperature, the constant physical pain and, most pertinent of all, the prognosis of the doctors that Will’s condition would kill him sooner rather than later. This, I’m assuming, is not the prognosis of most people who live the majority of their lives in wheelchairs.

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Your fears about transgender bathrooms are highly exaggerated

I have to be honest about something: I never thought I’d care much about LGBT rights. That sounds terrible, I know, but as a straight, cis-gendered woman, I never thought I’d have a reason to. There are too many causes I care about that directly impact my life to add another one onto the plate.

But I do care, even if I have no idea what it’s like to struggle with gender or sexuality. I care because LGBT people are minorities. While my beliefs have evolved, my Jewish heritage technically makes me a minority, too. And I know all too well what it’s like to have to validate who you are to people who just don’t get it, and don’t care enough to even try.

People fear what they don’t understand. It’s one consistent thing about humanity that has not and likely will not ever change. Some people’s misunderstandings are a result of bigotry. And then there are people like Kaeley Triller, a rape survivor who expressed her concern in an article for The Federalist about the ramifications of allowing biological men who identify as women to use women’s restrooms and locker rooms.

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