The Blood Runs Like a River Through My Fake Memoir

I was bamboozled! I was taken in by a “memoir” full of lies. This has happened before, but I felt particularly upset with this one. Who betrayed me with their deception?

the blood runs like a river social media sizeSource: Amazon

I was so taken by “The Blood Runs Like A River Through My Dreams” by Nasdijj that I was going to recommend it. Then I found out that he faked nearly the entire memoir, including his Native identity.

And Native folks took notice. Hillel Italie, a Native author, discusses the issue of fake identities in publishing memoirs here. Sherman Alexie, who is Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, noted plagiarism from himself and other Native authors. He is quoted in “Navahoax” in LAWeekly saying, “The whole time I was reading I was thinking, this doesn’t just sound like me, this is me,” and “At first I was flattered, but as I kept reading I noticed he was borrowing from other Native writers too. I thought, this can’t be real.”

I feel tricked and more than a little disgusted. Native people have a hard enough time finding representation and having their voices heard that it seems particularly repugnant for some white guy to pretend to be Native and make a whole bunch of money off of it. I write more about the issues of fake memoirs in my article “Fake Stories And Stolen Identities: A Mini Analysis Of Memoirs” on (Disclosure: I get paid via page views on that site as long as I keep publishing there.)



Strange Books in Strange Places

For people who love books, books seem to show up everywhere. Shared between friends, sent in the mail, found in a tiny bookstore, in a relative’s attic, discarded in the street, hidden within secret places and treasure chests: books travel with people and find their way through the world.

I have three stories about finding strange books in strange places. All links are affiliate links. I love these books and think you would too!

Strange Books in Strange PlacesBuy Spacecraft Voyager 1: New and Selected Poems

This book above, “Spacecraft Voyager 1: New and Selected Poems” by Alice Oswald was found in my spooky scary basement. I rent the house I live in right now, so this was in the detritus among the left-behinds of some prior tenant. It peeked out of a box, tempting me every time I walked past it to do laundry.

Finally, I picked it up. The pretty blue cover and possible space travel inside convinced me. I know, don’t judge a book by its cover and all that, but I am only human and my basement is not a pleasant place to sit and peruse books to judge their insides. No space travel, but some of the most beautiful and gripping poems rest inside this basement dwelling book.

I wish I had a picture for this next book, because it was a great encounter. The book is in Kansas, though, and I am in Minnesota. It’s called “Why Does E=mc2?: (and Why Should We Care?)” by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw.

Several years ago, I was in a hotel lobby having complimentary hotel breakfast with my father. I think we were on a geology field trip (shout out to 4-H!). The TV was blaring some talking head, and my father and I began to discuss the world and the politics. This kind, elderly lady nearby was listening and chimed in, and we all started talking. It was a friendly conversation, though we all had different ideas. Then we started talking about books and college for me, and it was obvious that I loved reading and learning. As breakfast was finishing up, she asked me if she could give me a book. I had thought she was joking, but no, she took the elevator to her room and came back with “Why Does E=mc2?”! The authors do an incredible job of explaining difficult concepts about the speed of light, relativity, and so on in plain speech.

To this day, it is in the top 10 kindest things a stranger has done for me and remains one of the best surprise presents I’ve ever received. The Great Days of Piracy in the West Indies

This last one is possibly my favorite. My hometown is the kind of place with no Walmart or Starbucks, less than 2,000 people, and more antique stores than gas stations. We have three antique stores (in town I think) and two gas stations, so it’s not a high-level competition. We don’t have too much of anything and have none of some things. I was browsing at my favorite antique place downtown. I’m not knowledgeable about collectable or valuable books, and I don’t think that I’ve ever found any in an antique store, but I enjoy seeing what kind of books people have held on to and what’s survived.

“The Great Days of Piracy in the West Indies” by George Woodbury enticed me, tucked between other old and odd books in the limited bookshelves. I thought it would be silly to buy what was likely an outdated (published in 1950s) nonfiction book on pirates, from a place that hardly carried books, but I couldn’t leave it behind. I bought it and I’m so glad I did! It is fascinating and fun. It covers everything during what is considered the “Golden Age” of piracy, from why piracy flourished, state sponsored buccaneers, the formation of pirate republics, and some famous women pirates. The author clearly knows and loves what he’s talking about. It is not the best organized or best written book, but it’s very readable and interesting. It is still one of my favorite books, and I even brought it with me from Kansas when I moved to Minnesota.

Have you ever found a book in an unexpected place? Ever exchanged books with a friend or a stranger and it changed your whole mindset?




Benefits of Reading Fiction

I try to split my fiction and non-fiction reading evenly. Or 75%-25%. Reading a good non-fiction is like sitting down and having a conversation with a professor, but sometimes I’d really rather lose myself in a novel. Still, if I’m worried about learning or self-improvement, then I shouldn’t hesitate to pick up a fiction book. It turns out, fiction reading can do a lot for us. Not only is it fun (which is important!!), but it expands vocabulary, lowers stress levels in the body, keeps the mind sharp, is positively correlated with social and verbal skills, and is linked with empathy. Everyone knows that reading is good for you, and I decided to find the data to back it up.


Reading is one of the strongest indicators of vocabulary size. In a really neat project by the Test Your Vocab folks, it was established that fiction reading is the best predictor of vocabulary size. The link is so strong that there would be a 2,000 word vocabulary increase between every step up in category quantifying amount of fiction read. People who read fiction “somewhat” would have about 2,000 more words in their vocabulary then those who read fiction “not much”, and so on.

vocab graph
From testyourvocab

Take the vocabulary test!

Stress Relief

Life would be so much better if a person could cut their stress by 17/25 in only six minutes. Lucky for us, we can! Reading is one of the quickest and most effective ways to bring stress levels down in the body. An oft-cited study done at the University of Sussex in 2009 found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68%.

Reducing stress can be beneficial to everyone. Not only will it make you as a person feel better, but everyone around you will be pleased when loosen up your tight bum muscles and remember to smile a bit. Don’t reduce stress just for yourself; do it for those around you. Read a book.

Keeps Mind Sharp

There is growing evidence that cognitive activities throughout life and especially for older folks can stave off cognitive decline associated with aging. In the study done by Wilson et al. (2013) the cognitive activities included reading books, visiting a library, and writing letters. They all involved seeking or processing information. Utilizing information the way the brain does during reading is associated with keeping the mind performing well. This particular study is one of the first (I believe) to firmly link lifetime cognitive activity with late-life functioning, but it gives a strong argument to picking up a book now.

Social and Verbal Skills

Are all bookworms nerds? It’s easy to associate book reading with poor social skills, but it turns out the kinds of books being read matters. In a study by Mar, Raymond A.; Oatley; Hirsh; Paz; and Peterson, Non-fiction reading, possibly the nerdiest of book ventures, was correlated negatively with social ability. In contrast, fiction reading was correlated positively with social ability. Reading tends to be linked with improved verbal and language skills, and there is some evidence that suggests fiction reading may be an even better tool to improve verbal skills (Raymond A. Mar & Marina Rain, 2015).

Fiction seems to be a big factor in social skills because while the act of reading is solitary, narrative stories engage the social and emotional parts of the brain similarly to interacting with others. The brain goes through all the feelings and processes of emoting and relating to the stories being told, much like holding a conversation. Reading overall has a huge impact on verbal skills, but it’s a bit harder to distinguish how much of an edge fiction has over non-genre specific reading.


Remember how reading fiction was linked with social and verbal skills? The emotional experience of internalizing stories that exercises social skills seems to help build and broaden empathy as well. When a person becomes “transported” by becoming engrossed in a book, the brain places the reader into the situation of the characters in the story. It is guess that people who read fiction practice being empathetic and so strengthen their empathetic response. There are some drawbacks to the research on this topic though, and I will explore the link between reading and empathy in another post.


One drawback to a lot of studies covering fiction reading as opposed to reading overall is that readers tend to read a lot of whatever is at hand. These studies are often conducted using print exposure and then being adjusted for age, education, income, etc. Print exposure is a method to find out how much a participant reads by asking them which authors they recognize. Reading fiction is highly correlated with reading non-fiction. This makes it difficult to tell how much effect is due to fiction alone. However, there is compelling evidence to not only read, but to read fiction. Have a little fun.



Bal PM, Veltkamp M (2013) How Does Fiction Reading Influence Empathy? An Experimental Investigation on the Role of Emotional Transportation. PLoS ONE 8(1): e55341. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055341


Raymond A. Mar & Marina Rain (2015) Narrative Fiction and Expository Nonfiction Differentially Predict Verbal Ability, Scientific Studies of Reading, 19:6, 419-433, DOI: 10.1080/10888438.2015.1069296.


“Reading habits”. Test your vocab: the blog. 09 May 2013. Accessed July 2016.


“Reading reduces stress levels”. Kumon. 14 August, 2012. Accessed July 2016.


Robert S. Wilson, Robert S. PhD, Patricia A. Boyle, PhD, Lei Yu, PhD, Lisa L. Barnes, PhD, Julie A. Schneider, MD, and David A. Bennett, MD. “Life-span cognitive activity, neuropathologic burden, and cognitive aging”. Neurology. 2013 Jul 23; 81(4): 314–321. doi:  10.1212/WNL.0b013e31829c5e8a.




Failing the 24in48 Summer 2016 Challenge

During Summer 2016 24in28 Readathon, I finished reading “The Dilemma of a Ghost” and “Anowa” by Ama Ata Aidoo, “the blood runs like a river through my dreams” by Nasdijj, and “Mathemagics” by Margaret Ball. I’ve got another one lined up, sitting uncomfortably next to me with its spine cracking to keep my page until I pick it up again (after this post!). I read a lot, but get this, nowhere near 24 hours.IMG_20160724_202934.jpgIf my calculations are correct, which is not terribly likely as my timekeeping was far from perfect, I’ve still done a very poor job completing this challenge. Saturday: 2 hrs 32 min + 53 mins = 3 hrs and 25 mins. Sunday: 44 mins + 2 hrs and 29 mins + 19 mins = 3 hours and 32 mins. That makes a total of 6 hours and 57 minutes. There’s a little less than three full hours left in this day, so there is not a chance of me “completing” the challenge.

There are some things for me to keep in mind. Not excuses, mind you, but yes, excuses. I started late on Saturday, thinking the challenge was next weekend. Saturdays and Sundays are also some of my best “work” days because while I work from home, I do take classes on weekdays. So I catch up with work and get my week set up on Saturday and Sunday as well as do the cleaning chores that have slipped past me through the days. I would be completely lost this coming week if I had actually spent twelve hours each day reading. And lastly, because I have chronic illnesses, it is literally painful to do anything for twelve hours out of any day for me. I hadn’t thought of that before signing up for this, but the pain made itself aware to me quickly.

I’m still glad that I signed up though. It was wonderful to dedicate the time that I did spend on reading! The whole purpose of the challenge, in my non-expert opinion, was to remind us to spend time reading books. Why? Because reading expands horizons and vocabularies, breeds empathy, calms the body, stimulates the mind, encourages learning, etc. I could write a whole post on why reading is great. The nearly seven hours I did spend reading were lots of fun, and the motivation of the challenge kept me at it.

The readathon challenge taught me a few things. First of all, I can clearly spend an hour or two each day reading from an actual book and still keep up with my work, cleaning, classes, and my admittedly scanty social life. What was I spending the time doing before? Probably Twitter. Or aimless lying about. Those things are great and important too, but I could probably do less of them and be just as happy. Possibly more happy, since more time would be spent in books. Secondly, moderation. It amazes me how life reinforces this lesson every time I forget about it. Moderation is great in all things, and especially because illnesses limit my energy, it becomes very important. Lastly, although I love reading, I would much rather sit with a book for a while after I finish it instead of rushing into the next one. With some books, I don’t need a lot of sitting time. Either it wasn’t emotionally complex, or it was meant to be light or funny, or the ideas weren’t so new to me that I needed a lot of processing. But many books leave my insides all jumbled so that I can think about things a new way. I felt like I didn’t have nearly enough time to linger over “the blood runs like a river through my dreams” by Nasdijj before I jumped into “Mathemagics”.

I’d love to hear other folks’ experience with the 24in48 Readathon! Did you hit 24 hours? Did anything stop or distract you? What did you read?

Joining the 24in48 Summer 2016 Challenge!

I forgot that I joined this and that I wanted to tell you about it until I saw that other folks had already started their 24 hours of reading. It’s already past noon and I haven’t started! If you, like me, are running late but want to join, here’s the link: Summer 2016 24in48 sign up.

This is a really cool challenge to read 24 out of the 48 hours in the weekend. That’s the whole premise, really. I have some reading I am supposed to do for the African Literature class I’m taking, and I have a few more books lined up. I always love an incentive to read even more. Good luck to those participating!

What I Read When I “Dropped Out” of College

I kinda, sorta, dropped out of college. I waffle about the term because I’m taking a college course right now and do still intend to get my degree. It’s just that I left the school I was certain I would graduate from in four years, about a year from now, this last spring.

I’ve rounded up the books I read in lieu of a spring semester and rated them. Spoiler: you could find these on my Instagram also. I’ll write more in-depth reviews later on. They are memoirs, fantasies, nonfictions, diaries, fictions, sci-fis, essays, academic writings, and more.

I have three ratings to base my judgment of each book on: general enjoyment, learning/inspiration (did I learn about people or topics I’d never heard of/did I want to learn more? did it fill me with wonder/did it inspire me to make myself or the world better?), and difficulty* (the density of material, words I didn’t know, writing style, length of book – this is personal and is by no means official or necessarily how difficult another reader would find the book), all out of 1-5 with 5 being the best for the first two categories and the most difficult for the last.

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click those links I added for you to easily find and buy these books, I get paid! Affiliate links are a very exciting way to support bloggers. Support me. Get wild and click those links. I tried to choose the same print editions I read.

Buck by MK Asante. Buy Buck

“Buck: A Memoir” by MK Asante was an incredibly well-told and moving, but also very entertaining, story. He’s a young African American man fighting his way through ghettos, drug deals, school systems that have failed him, and eventually, finding his education and love of literature and writing. Asante has also written “It’s Bigger than Hip Hop” which I hope to find and read!

Enjoyment – 5 Learning/Inspiration – 4.5 Difficulty – 2.5


The Journal of Charlotte L. Forten: A Free Negro in the Slave Era. The Journal of Charlotte L. Forten

Charlotte Forten was a free black woman living in the Northeast, eventually teaching in South Carolina. There she meets with people who had recently been freed from slavery. She was ever seeking to be better, to learn more, in order to help with the Abolitionist cause and to add good to the world. Her fine appreciation of beauty as well as her dedication to God and helping people show her personal journey to finding her purpose as well as a telling chronicle of the fight for freedom for all black people in America.

Enjoyment – 3 Learning/Inspiration – 5 Difficulty 4.5


Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese. Buy Cutting for Stone

Cutting For Stone was so good that I had to wait and let it sit in my brain for a few days before I could start another book. Seriously, if you like gripping, intense novels smattered with love and medical suspense, find it and read it. I’ll share a longer review in another post.

Enjoyment – 5 Learning/Inspiration – 4 Difficulty – 4


The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making. Buy The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland

A perfect adventure for all ages. Reading this book was probably the most fun I’d had reading a book since before I started college.

Enjoyment – 5 Learning/Inspiration – 3 Difficulty – 2


Alien Influences by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Buy Alien Influences

“Alien Influences” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch was a richly themed sci-fi novel that was impossible to put down. How does one distinguish between human and alien behavior? What drives children to native alien intelligence and away from people? How does government handle the effects of its mistakes and navigate inter-species relationships? “Alien Influences” compellingly follows a group of children supposedly under alien influence and answers these questions.

Enjoyment – 5 Learning/Inspiration – 3 Difficulty – 3.5


48 Shades of Brown by Nick Earles. Buy 48 Shades of Brown

A cute, fun, young-adult novel. I sped through it and had fun, but don’t particularly recommend it.

Enjoyment – 3.5 Learning/Inspiration – 2 Difficulty – 2


Diary of a Bad Year by J. M. Coatzee. Buy Diary of a Bad Year

This book is beautifully structured to switch between essay style opinions written by our narrator, the narrator’s experience with his beautiful young typist, and the typist’s thoughts and point of view of the actions and opinions of the narrator. It felt both like a collection of short stories as well as a tender, if hilarious, exposure of an old man clinging to his beliefs in the face of corruption, politics, and youthful sexuality.

Enjoyment – 4 Learning/Inspiration – 4 Difficulty – 4


Twelve by Twelve: A One-Room Cabin Off the Grid and Beyond the American Dream by William Powers. Buy Twelve by Twelve

I thought “Twelve by Twelve” by William Powers was just going to be some white guy exercising his economic priviledge to be a hippy. I am glad that I was very wrong. It was an engaging and hopeful (but certainly not disengenuiously optimistic) call to rethink how we live with and on the earth and with each other. “Twelve by Twelve” was both racially aware as well as a psychologically fulfilling rebellion against a Flat (dead, overworked, polluted) economy and earth. For those feeling trapped or hopeless or unable to help the world, this book is a breath of fresh air.

Enjoyment – 4.5 Learning/Inspiration – 5 Difficulty – 3


Marta Oulie: A Novel of Betrayal by Sigrid Undset. Buy Marta Oulie

“I have been unfaithful to my husband.” This shocking (particularly in Norway in the year 1907 when it was first published) line opens up “Marta Oulie” by Sigrid Undset and thrusts us into the diary of Marta. In some ways she is despicable. In some ways, I found myself in her. She tries to navigate a being a woman, being wanted, and wanting. She does so imperfectly, like the rest of us. Hard to put down.

Enjoyment – 5 Learning/Inspiration – 2 Difficulty – 3


Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. Buy Cat’s Cradle

I laughed and despaired and laughed some more. The world ended. Mona, the love interest of everybody in the book, is the true hero to me in her simplicity and happiness in the face of lies and nihilism. I’d love to write more about Mona’s character.

Enjoyment – 5 Learning/Inspiration – 3.5 Difficulty – 4


Loitering: New and Collected Essays by Charles D’Ambrosio. Loitering

I hadn’t heard of D’Ambrosio or his essays before, but the book caught my eye in a bookstore and I’m thankful that it did. He lingers, he loiters, and most of all he urges us to do so too, especially in doubt. D’Ambrosio also deftly deconstructs tools of language and daily tragedies and plays around them, opening up questions and making room for the doubt which he happily, or not, plays in.

Enjoyment – 5 Learning/Inspiration – 5 Difficulty – 4.5


We Stopped Forgetting: Stories From Sami Americans by Ellen Marie Jensen. Buy We Stopped Forgetting

Ellen Marie Jensen is a USA raised Sámi descendent and is active in Sámi and Sámi American groups. Her book discusses Sámi immigration to USA as well as the revitalization of Sámi heritage in North America, and shares personal stories from other Sámi Americans who’ve reconnected with their culture. In her words: “It is a birthright to know and relate to one’s cultural heritage; Americans of Sámi descent have a particular message about this right because to a great extent our history is hidden in immigration narratives in Europe and North America.” Starts a little dry when she goes through the background of immigration and her research, but the stories she shares are wonderful.

Enjoyment – 3.5 Learning/Inspiration – 5 Difficulty – 3.5


Stygo by Laura Hendrie. Buy Stygo

Laura Hendrie delves into the interlocking psyche of small town, USA, and unearths the dreams, darkness, and longings of its people. If you are from a small town, the scene will be unmistakably familiar, but Hendrie highlights the uniqueness of every character which sets one small town into dismal relief from another.

Enjoyment – 5 Learning/Inspiration – 2 Difficulty – 3


Dragonmede by Rona Randall. Buy Dragonmede

A romance novel with murder thriller suspense. “Dragonmede” by Rona Randall built intrigue and drama even within some of the more predictable adventures of Eustacia, our heroine. Written in the 70s (but set in the 1800s I believe), “Dragonmede” carries ideas about sexual repression and expression as well as what love should be.

Enjoyment – 5 Learning/Inspiration – 3 Difficulty – 3


Zami: A New Spelling of My Name. Buy Zami

“Zami: A New Spelling of My Name” by Audre Lorde is one of the best books I have ever read, ever. A little Black girl in the Harlem grows up and finds what it means to be herself. If you’ve ever known a woman who has shaped you, ever loved a woman, or ever been a woman, this book will resonate. She lays out love and life and work as a person, a woman, a Black woman, a queer woman, a Black queer woman. Her writing is inviting, clever, and unique, and her story is spun like a fairy-tale-turned-autobiography.

Enjoyment – 5 Learning/Inspiration – 5 Difficulty – 3



Write for Life

I’m Elizabeth, and I’m a freelance writer. I’ve even been paid to do it! The idea that I can be and am a professional writer still excites me. My credentials are self-made, as is true in most things I do. I’ve started businesses, worked directly with marketing and customer service, and learned academically as well as hands on about psychology. I have some college courses under my belt, but am approaching my degree more slowly as I build my writing business.

I’m collecting my writing and putting it out there for the enjoyment of everyone, especially people who may want to hire me. I’ll publish my essays, flash fiction, maybe some poetry, and link to my business marketing content wherever applicable.

Every good writer needs to read. Everything I’ve read about being a published and professional writer says so. I love to read, so this is a plus on my path to writing for my living. I’m going to review every book I read, whether briefly or in depth. My followers on Instagram aren’t nearly as keen on hearing about the books I’ve been reading as I thought they would be, so I thought this would be a better venue.

If you need business marketing, professional content about psychology or holistic well-being, news articles, or exciting perspectives for you or your company’s website, I am available for hire. I can be contacted at for business inquiries.

Blog at

Up ↑