Book Reviews, Indie, Writing For Revolution

Proof That Books Really Do Change the World

Today was a very frustrating day. My spouse and I were analyzing our life and trying to figure out any possible way to make the things we need to accomplish more efficient; how to make us more capable of handling life.

As often happens during this discussion, the topic came up at how much my spouse struggles with day to day tasks. Taking a shower can be a monumental task, and sometimes simple things like making a cup of tea are so impossible that I need to do it for them. This makes most jobs or working from home impossible. Not only is working incredibly hard for my spouse, but neither of us has had any idea on what to do to help make tasks actually achievable when even the simple mundane tasks of the day are hard.

Every time we’ve looked into possible solutions, we’ve drawn a blank. Depression covers the emotions and sluggishness, but the reluctance to do things isn’t reluctance, it’s a lack of comprehension. ADD covers the lack of focus, but common ADD remedies don’t accomplish much. Maladaptive daydreaming fit some of the more fantastical sides of my spouse’s thinking, but it wasn’t the reason why they were struggling to accomplish tasks. We’ve looked into so many different possibilities that I had started thinking that maybe there wasn’t some diagnosis for whatever was going on. Maybe it was some sort of unknown disorder that would get discovered some day. But getting a diagnosis for a disorder that didn’t exist yet seemed worse than impossible.

Then my spouse and I started discussing the nature of whatever this mysterious disorder was. Something about all these various symptoms seemed connected somehow, rather than multiple co-morbid disorders. After all, the simplest solution is usually the answer, and one diagnosis seemed more likely than a huge handful. My spouse mentioned that one of the odd aspects of whatever was going on was that it seemed less like a mental disorder and more like a neurological problem of some sort.

And that was when something clicked for me. I remembered a book I’d read about someone else who’d had trouble figuring out why they were struggling so much. I remembered how they had been repeatedly pushed into treatments for depression like my spouse had been. I remembered the fuzzy shifting world this book had described that sounded similar to my spouse talking about how “Wonderland-y” the world was sometimes.

The book was But I’m Not Depressed by Lia Rees. In the book, Lia describes in detail how she struggled to figure out what was happening to her when she got a brain injury, and the struggles she has gone through so far trying to get diagnosed while also struggling with everyday life.

I mentioned the book to my spouse (who has been interested in reading it, but hasn’t yet because books are usually too much effort unless they’re large print and/or young children’s books), who mentioned that oh yeah, they’d actually had a bad head injury as a child, but it hadn’t seemed very important. There had also been a brain scan when they were a child that showed something in their brain the doctors couldn’t identify, but since they couldn’t identify it, it was never diagnosed. Apparently, my spouse had also been meaning to research Traumatic Brain Injuries because they had related to the struggles they’d heard when talking to someone else with a brain injury. My spouse had just never gotten around to the research because things are so hard for them to keep track of. (Hmmm.)

So I researched it on the spot. And several hours later, it feels like my whole world has been blown. Every single symptom my spouse suffers from, everything we’ve tried to fix can be connected to a potential brain injury. For the first time ever, everything is accounted for with one diagnosis.

Then I looked into ways to help a spouse with TBI, and kept asking my spouse, “Would this help? Would this help?” They ended up in tears because they had never been able to express these things that would be so helpful, and finally they were hearing things that would make life finally livable.

I’m going to need more research into TBI before I can be totally certain. I don’t know whether we’ll be able to get my spouse a diagnosis or not if it’s true. But today, for the first time, I was able to figure out how to help my spouse with their migraine in a concrete way and get them feeling better and more relaxed within a matter of minutes. Minutes, when a migraine has been known to be something we’ve had to try and battle for an entire day in the past. Just being able to do that made me cry. Normally I feel so helpless when I try to help my spouse.

Whether TBI is exactly the right answer or not, I think we’ve finally managed to get pointed in the right direction. At the very least, I now have a whole list of coping strategies that I’ve been told would be enormously helpful. And it’s all because of a book.

This is exactly what I mean when I say books can change the world. Sometimes changing the world may be getting people to think about something differently, and sometimes it may mean being the one piece of information that might one day make all the difference when someone remembers your book. Sometimes that one book you think no one will want to read may end up changing one person’s life completely.

I cannot recommend Lia Rees’ But I’m Not Depressed enough. The entire book was poetic and gorgeous and a pleasure to read. Plus now it may have made the difference between functional and nonfunctional for my spouse. This is exactly the kind of books we need more of in the world.


To get your own copy of the book, go here:


And if you would like to check out more of Lia Rees, here are some further links:

Amazon Author Page:
Twitter: @LiaWayward


Cover Reveal and Pre-order Announcement!

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably caught the sneak peeks of my latest project – A coloring book geared towards readers and writers called The Enchanted Library. The project is about two-thirds of the way done right now, which means that release day is approaching – fast.

The Enchanted Library is set to release on September 20th, 2017. Take a look at the snazzy cover!


With the release date and the cover set, I would also like to open up the chance for pre-orders! Pre-orders are only available for signed copies, which means that you’ll get a special edition on top of being one of the first people to reserve a copy.

Go here to pre-order your copy now!

Thank you again to the community for being as excited about this coloring book as me. This project is something that has pushed a lot of my comfort zones, and it’s nice to see something like that receiving such a positive reception. You all have made this coloring book possible!

If you would like to see the sneak peeks for The Enchanted Library, you can head over to Instagram to check them out!

Announcements, Poetry

TransVerse is up for an award!

I’m excited to announce that one of my books has again been nominated for the Summer Indie Book Awards. Last year I was thrilled to get 3rd place in Novella/Short Stories with my book When the Ink Runs Dry. This year, TransVerse has been nominated in poetry!

Voting is totally free and takes about a minute to do. You can vote every day until the 10th, at midnight Central time. I really appreciate all the votes I get, and thank you all for the support!

Vote here: SIBAs Best of Poetry

Giveaways, Poetry

Fandom Scavenger Hunt Giveaway!

Now that The Reluctant Dreamer has released in both ebook and paperback format, I figured it was time to celebrate with a giveaway!

Timothy and I are fandom nerds sometimes. Which means that sometimes we write poems with references to our fandoms. And sometimes we clean those poems up, make the references slightly more obscure, and publish them. There are no less than SIXTEEN fandom inspired poems in The Reluctant Dreamer. And we’re going to give a prize to anyone who can spot them!

The fandoms you’ll be looking for are Fullmetal Alchemist and Rise of the Guardians. There are eight poems for each. If you can guess all eight of either fandom, you’ll win a free ebook pack of all the novels Tim and I have released so far. If you can guess all sixteen, then you’ll get a free paperback copy of The Reluctant Dreamer! (If by some rare case we manage to get more than one person guessing all sixteen, then I’ll send everyone who guesses correctly a copy.)

Once you have your guess, message it to my facebook page, but be careful – there are no second tries! Don’t worry though, everyone gets a free prize out of this just for trying. After all, you need a copy of the book if you’re going to look through it for poems, don’t you? Click the link below to get your free PDF of The Reluctant Dreamer!

Get your free copy here!

Guesses are open until midnight in pacific time on April 10th, so be sure to get them in!


The Reluctant Dreamer Sneak Peek: And I’m So Tired

I have a poetry book that will be coming out soon, so I wanted to take the chance to share a sneak peek with you all.

The Reluctant Dreamer is a collection of poetry co-written by me and my spouse. I was trying to write love poetry, but something about it felt flat. Then my spouse took a look at it, we ended up re-evaluating, and then I suddenly had a co-author. This book is essentially our love story. We’ve been through some dark and terrible nights of the soul, and it took a lot of love and acceptance to get to the point we’re at today. It’s been a journey.

Here’s the back blurb:

Love doesn’t always come as the perfect ending to a romance movie. Sometimes it comes in the middle of the darkest part of your life. At the moment you feel most lost, someone finds you, looks deeply into your soul, and whispers, “You matter.”

The Reluctant Dreamer is a collection of poems based off the real love story of the married authors. The poems show the two struggling to accept both love and themselves as they find their place in the world.

This collection of poetry uses a wide variety of both rhyming and free verse poems that fit together perfectly in a reflection of the bond between the two unique writers. The authors take a serious look into what it means to love and be loved, and show that you are never truly alone.

Enjoy the poem!

Continue reading “The Reluctant Dreamer Sneak Peek: And I’m So Tired”

Writing For Revolution

Writing Can Change the World

As a writer who started life as a reader, I grew up alongside heroes. I devoured each Harry Potter as soon as it hit shelves, I journeyed through wardrobes and to Mordor. I saw ordinary people tasked with facing down tremendous, terrifying evil and not being sure how they were going to make it, but knowing they had to try. I couldn’t put my finger on why, but I wanted to be like these characters. They handled things that I didn’t think I could handle, and they always made everything right in the end.

Then, I reached my adulthood years and things got a lot more complicated for me. I spent the time from when I was nineteen to twenty-three as homeless, a total of nearly five years overall. I stayed in shelters, mental wards, hopping from room to room found via craigslist, and at one dark point, spending several nights sleeping on public transit trains that ran all night. Through all of it, I tried to remember my favorite characters. Many of them were technically homeless, after all. Many of them went through the same struggles for food and a warm shower. Stories kept me strong through my darkest nights. I was always pushing myself to be a little more like my favorite characters and a little less like the fragile image I had of myself.

I’m not homeless anymore, but I’m seeing dark times around me again. I can honestly say that the news scares me on an almost daily basis by this point. I’m seeing fights around me almost everywhere I go, and I live in a fairly liberal city.

Now, I’m not someone with money, and I’m not someone comfortable in the crowds that come with rallies. But as I watch my friends protest and donate and give everything to making their message known, I’m sometimes stuck wondering “What can I do?” And that’s when I remember the characters that kept me alive through my homelessness.

I don’t say that lightly or as an exaggeration, either. These characters literally gave me a chance to step away from my life and be someone better and stronger. They helped me to know what was really important when it feels like the world is against you. They taught me that right is almost never easy.

This is why I write. Writing not only keeps me sane, but I know from firsthand experience that it can keep readers sane as well. Reading a good book can make you feel like you’re not alone, and show you what’s important in the world. It’s so easy when I’m not getting many reviews or sales to feel like I’m just putting my work out into a void where it doesn’t affect anyone or do anything. Maybe you’ve felt like that too, whether you’re published or not. But I’m here to tell you that it’s not true. Even small books can have a profound impact on a person. I can feel myself change and grow with every book I read, and it’s why I plan on reading until my dying day.

Your book is a chance to teach the world your truth, to show people what you see as worth fighting for. Right now, I think this is especially important, and with the advent of indie publishing, it’s amazing how we can now give the public the less popular, less conventional stories. We can dare to challenge the world with our stories and not have gatekeepers telling us “no” anymore.

I might not have money to donate, or feel comfortable at a protest, but I can give my words to this planet. I plan to not only write, but to write with the conscious intent to change the world. I hope you’ll join me.

This is the first of several blog posts I’m going to be writing about how to write for revolution. I’ll be talking about things like how to create diverse books, or how to have message with intent in your story. I don’t consider myself a master of all writing, but I do honestly and wholeheartedly believe that writing can change our world for the better. I’ll be posting these weekly on Saturdays (knock on wood)! If you have any subjects you would like to hear about, feel free to comment or email me and I would be happy to cover them in a future post. Thank you all for reading, and please, stay strong and take care of yourselves.


Writing Reviews That Help Readers AND Writers

As an author, it can be hard when approaching the concept of reviews. You know that other authors need them, crave them, but it’s also terrifying to sit down at a keyboard and actually type one up. What if you insult them and burn a potential networking connection? What if you say the wrong thing? How can you be the right blend of informative and not soul-crushing?

At least, that’s my process when I start thinking about reviewing a book.

This is why I came up with a slightly formulaic approach to writing reviews. It allows me to feel a little less like I’m just pulling star ratings out of a hat and feel more like authors have honestly earned the ratings I give them. It also gives my reviews a nice consistent feel, which is good for readers and friends who may actually trust my opinion.

I always see the occasional post by someone who is intimidated by reviews asking, “What makes a good review? How do I do this? Help!” So, I figured I would share my own approach, cultivated from several different methods. It works for me. It may or may not work for you, but at least you’ll have seen a different approach.

So without further ado, here are my steps to building the perfect review:

Continue reading “Writing Reviews That Help Readers AND Writers”


Introductions Are in Order

You know, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about blogs, it’s that you have to actually have blog entries for it to be a blog in the first place. And if you’re going to start putting up entries of this and that and the other all over a blog, it’s generally wisest to at least start with some sort of introduction. Well, at least, better for the writer. Gives us a sense of starting and all that, rather than just jumping blindly into the middle of something.

So I figure, it’s about time I write an introductory post and get this blog actually rolling. I may or may not have a slight fear of introductions, but there comes a time when a writer eventually has to put his foot down. Or in this century, his phone. My foot and phone have both been put down, and this is my introductory post.

My name is Theodore Ashford if you haven’t already noticed. Most of the time, I go by Theo. Unless my last name gets involved; then it’s always Theodore. I’m kind of picky like that, I suppose.

I’m a writer. I’ve been writing since my teens, plus even a little before that, though my early work mostly consisted of picture book horses. My teen years were when I started getting serious and started trying to write every single day. I started with fanfiction, then moved on to doing National Novel Writing Month, then started taking writing classes in college, and finally released a book on Amazon. I would write the rest of my biography, but I don’t know it yet.

I’m someone who strongly believes in the value of fanfiction, as well as the merits of self-publishing. Probably partly due to the fact that my own professional career is steeped in both, but also because I’ve spent a long time analyzing the pros and cons of both. I’m also a fan of the theory that speed and quality don’t have to be exclusive to each other, which I know is due to my years of NaNoWriMo.

So what will I be posting here? I mostly plan on posting entries in regards to writing, either as a reference for writers who are looking to figure out their own process, or for readers who want insight into the process behind the magic. I’ll also be posting the occasional book review, mostly with the idea of analyzing a piece of writing as an author looking to better my own work.

And every now and then, I also plan on sharing sneak peeks at novels of mine that will be coming out in the future, or even just standalone short stories and poems that I don’t see working in a future collection.

I also have a spouse who’s involved in writing, and tends to be my partner and editor on certain projects, so you might see them coming in with guest posts from time to time as well.

Anyway, that’s about it. If that seems like something interesting to you, then by all means stick around. I’m certainly looking forward to all the cool stuff I have in store for you!