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Welcome to SamanthaHolloway.com!

I'm a writer, a crafter, a nail polish mixatrix, a tea drinker, an unconventional life-liver, and a cool chick.

If you're only interested in one of these subjects, you can click on the links below and to the left to filter your experience!

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Happy Pi Day!


In an attempt to get my life back where I want it to be, I've been taking refresher courses* in math. Which means I'm thinking about math a lot more than usual. Which means this is the first Pi Day in ages when I'm equally as interested in Pi as I am in Pie!

Here's Pi to the first 100 digits just in case you were wondering. Did any of you have a math teacher that had it printed up around the border of the classroom like I did? I suck at memorizing numbers, so thank god the internet happened and let me just look this up:

3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209749445923078164062862089986280348253421170679

Lookit all those numbers!

Since the first part of that is 3.14, March 14 is Pi Day. And since mathematicians are nerds and nerds like puns, we celebrate with Pie! I always did appreciate a good pun (and a good pie).

Some random facts about Pi that I like:


Here's my Pinterest board for all things pie:


My fav pie recipe is super easy:
Mix four egg yolks with one can of sweetened condensed milk and half a cup of key lime pie; pour into a prepared gramcracker crust; cook at 350 for half an hour. Key Lime Pie!

What's your favorite pie? OR How do you feel about math?

*I say 'refresher courses' when a lot of the stuff I'm learning I don't think I ever actually learned the first time around...


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Monday, March 13, 2017

A Full Moon reading for March 2017!


ACETIC (r) - MAN - MIND

This month's Full Moon reading starts with Acetic reversed, which is generally a warning to not be so sparse in things. Don't hoard resources, don't deny them to yourself or your people, don't ration things that don't need rationing. When it's reversed, the idea of doing fine with less is a problem.

Man is all the masculine-coded* stuff we as people and cultures do. Since it's upright, it's in a positive tone: thinking, acting, being active, getting things figured out and built and done. Positive forms of masculinity (not the toxic forms), out in the world doing good, is what this card means. 

Mind is kind of a related card: it's all the stuff that happens because we have conscious thought. Thoughfulness, forethought, figuring things out, deciding what futures we'll aim for, philosophy and which ones we'll pick and apply, using our minds to solve the problems of the world, since it's in a positive tone.

All together, I'd say this month's reading is an encouragement to use our big human brains to solve problems and make things work, not to cut each other off from resources and make things worse. We're in an important part of history right now: which path will we take? This months cards say to figure it out in a dynamic and forward-thinking way that uses our collective active-bright-outward-building-talking-thinking skills in a way that makes more not less for the people.

*As in, traditionally masculine-coded, not meaning stuff that girls can't do. I have other gards for other gendered things and non-gendered things in the deck too!

If you'd like a personal reading, I offer them at 3$ a card, as many cards as you like (pick your fav number!). Contact me at pirategirljack at gmail dot com, or come talk to me on Twitter and we'll set up a reading!


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And you can find me around the web here:
And on Youtube myself and with Joy for (un)Professional Fangirl

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

We Need Diverse Books is giving away awesome looking picture books to elementary schools!



We Need Diverse Books is doing a contest sort of deal to give away a set of diverse picture books to elementary schools! If you work at one, or have a kid who goes to one so you can forward the link to their teachers, you can enter: Go See.

These are the books:
  • Green is a Chile Pepper by Roseanne Greenfield Thong, illustrated by John Parra
  • Round is a Mooncake by Roseanne Greenfield Thong, illustrated by Grace Lin
  • Lowriders to the Center of the Earth by Cathy Camper, illustrated by Raul the Third
  • Josephine by Patricia Hruby Powell, illustrated by Christian Robinson
  • Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth by Sanjay Patel and Emily Haynes, illustrated by Sanjay Patel
  • Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns by Hena Khan, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini
  • You Can Do It Too! by Karen Baicker, illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max
  • I Can Do It Too! by Karen Baicker, illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max
  • Bintou’s Braids by Sylviane A. Diouf, illustrated by Shane W. Evans
  • The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Frank Morrison

- I'm not associated with the giveaway, I just think kids should get to see themselves in books + white kids should grow up from the very beginning knowing that there's other perspectives and ways of being out there.


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Monday, March 6, 2017

February writing report! Score: kinda lame


I say "kinda" because it's not a total wash: I only wrote new pages two or three pages all month, but I typed up thirty pages to exchange with my crit partner for the first time in almost a year! I also wrote something like 20 poems* (some of them were at the end of January, don't really remember how many), filled a bunch of pages of my journal, and wrote four fanfics**.

So it's not like I'm not writing, it's just that I'm not moving as fast as I'd like on the Big Project, so this month I'm going to work on getting back in the habit of writing more new pages for the novel...because it needs to get finished before it destroys my brain with all it's lingering around. It's been there too long--time to get it into other people's heads!

How did your writing go last month?

* Probably not all of them are good, but I'm dealing with existential dread by writing poetry, like I did when I was 14-21, and it's refreshing. A lot of them are political; only slightly less than that are about Mars. Brains make strange connections.
** I'm aiming for a minimum of one story a week, but I'm two weeks behind right now; I need to pick up the pace, I think. Aiming for three this week to get even again.


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Monday, February 27, 2017

Guest Post - How to Master Speed Reading by Training Visual Skills

Image result for reading

Constantly growing competition makes us process huge amounts of information. In this regard, the ability to quickly perceive and analyze data comes at the forefront. Speed reading can help you grow faster and finally, stand out of the crowd.
As you know, there are a lot of aspects you should consider to take your reading speed to the next level, including full concentration, the ability to suppress articulation, and, of course, visual skills that are the topic of today’s article!
First and foremost, visual skills help us to perceive information faster. The essence of training visual skill lies in expanding the viewing angle. If you want to read faster, you should be able to see a greater amount of text – not reading it by a line from left to right but covering entirely, diagonally from top to bottom! Therefore, the wider is the peripheral vision, the faster one can find the right information, and the sooner he will be able to read it.
We see things clearly only at a slight angle; what’s out of the focus, becomes blurry. We usually do not notice this, because out eyes are constantly moving, shifting the gaze from one object to another. However, the analysis of the information received is done precisely during these jumps of view. If you are focused on one point, soon you will notice that the surroundings start to darken and blur. This is because the optic nerves need a permanent change and ceases to notice static information.
Thus, the dynamic change of the angle helps us read. When we are looking for something, our angle of vision expands, and once we find it, it gets narrowed and focused on the object. So the main idea is to expand the angle of view.
But how can we cover the whole text at once?
The secret is in the eye nature. Actually, we do not read the word consistently – we see it as a whole. And then why limit it to words? You can catch the whole sentence, whole paragraph or even a page! The key point is to get used to.

Schulte Table

Many authors suggest the use of Schulte table for training visual skills when reading. Schulte table is composed of cells with numbers ordered in a chaotic manner. 5 x 5 cells is probably the closest in size to the width of a book page or a standard text page.
So, your goal is to find all numbers one-by-one as fast as you can. To finish the exercise faster, you’ll have to catch the whole table at once. To do this, move back to a distance of 50 cm from the monitor, focus on the central cell, and cover the rest of the table with peripheral vision.
And now try to search for the numbers without moving your eyes and head. If this is too complicated, increase the distance. The essence of the exercise is to find all the numbers without moving your eye and focusing on all the cells simultaneously.
Image result for reading

Exercises for Eyes

Use the eye exercises, such as "alphabet," in which you need to mentally write all the letters of the alphabet moving only the eyes. Also, you can perform some standard exercises for the development of view:
  • The alternation of the observed objects from near to far and vice versa.
  • Frequent blinking for 10-15 second.
  • Tension and subsequent relaxation of the eyes.
Be sure to take breaks when reading, preferably every hour or even half an hour. Try to choose books with wide borders so that your eyes are less tired.

Top-Down View

To learn how to read texts by vertical movement of the eye, try to read newspapers and magazines with narrow columns, not moving your eyes left to right. Simple poetry will suit, but better use children's poetry with a plot so that you can read texts without being distracted by the deep meaning. Also, using conventional text editors, you can adjust any text in a convenient way.
As soon as you can read without articulation and vertically, gradually move on to the poems and columns of a greater width or even books with narrow pages. Over time, you will feel that it is quite easy!

Bio:

Lucy Adams is a blogger from Bestessay4u.co.uk. She’s always interested in covering burning topics so that you can expect high-quality research on your best intriguing ideas. Lucy is basically focused on education, writing, and books, but occasionally moves away to other niches if they look really exciting.

- If you'd like to offer a guest post on any of the topics I cover, contact me and we'll talk about subjects and timing!


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And on Youtube myself and with Joy for (un)Professional Fangirl

Sunday, February 26, 2017

February 2017 Dark Moon Reading for the World!


Time for another Dark Moon reading, my lovelies! 

KARMA (R) - SPIRIT (R) - STAR (R)

All three are reversed, so that means they're in agreement that something is off; it can be something big or something small, but the way things are, I'm inclined to think it's a big off-ness. The fact that it's the Dark Moon, which is for getting rid of things, makes me think that it's a heads up about what we need to work on, more than a DOOOOOOOM sort of a thing.

KARMA has come up before: it's the payback we get for what we put into the world. Since it's reversed, it means there's something negative coming, or there's a problem with what we're putting out--or both. So mind your p's and q's and try to act in a more positive, healing, reconciling sort of way.

SPIRIT is just what it sounds like: the immaterial parts of us, the parts not dependent on a physical form. It can mean both, like, your soul that lives on and animates your body, or it could mean, like, "keeping spirits up". The fact that it's reversed can indicate both a block in spiritual aspects of life, and a problem with staying whole and connected and balanced. 

STAR is the guiding light that leads us through the night. Think of sailors with a star to guide by, or Peter Pan looking for the first star on the right. It's reversed, so that would indicate the chance of losing our way, of committing to wrong paths, of wandering through the night without a guide. Star can also mean that long-term goal way out in space, the goal of your whole community or country or planet, which sort of makes being lost in the dark a more daunting thing.

All together, I'd take it as a warning that we need to, as a people, find our way back to the right way of doing things, both in the physical world and in the metaphysical of where we're putting our investments and what we're giving back to the world, and where we're steering our ships. 

Basically, it feels like a chance to fix things before they get really wonky, in our collective personal lives and in the world. What bad energies and behaviors do you want to unload so that you can go back into the world positive and helpful?

- If you'd like a personal reading, contact me and we'll talk spreads and costs!
- The next public reading will be on the Full Moon in two weeks!


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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Today is a good news day!


My new fav show of the season, Lethal Weapon, got renewed! If you've been watching me on Twitter on on our weekly show, you know that me and Joy have have been worried, what with it being Fox and their decade-long bad track record with good shows. But they came through! There's still three or four episodes left before the season finale, and they didn't make us wait for months or wallow in uncertainty after the inevitable cliffhanger at all! Good job, Fox! Keep it up, and break that bad rep!

This is especially important for two reasons: One, TV is so good these days on all channels, that it's amazingly good to see channels like Fox and Syfy committing to their best stuff and letting the stories play out instead of axing them the second they don't have 100% of whatever market share they're looking for. Between this and Lucifer, it looks like Fox is believing in their own shows again.

And Two, because this is the first show I know of that shows a realistic view of what massive depression looks like--and it's not the whole point of the show. They're giving him the time to work through it, to heal from it, to reconnect with the world, but it's not a show about that. It's a show about solving crimes and being buddy-cops, that just happens to feature this long and hard journey as a normal and actual part of a character's life.

I didn't even know that I needed Real Depression Representation until they took Riggs seriously and there it was!


And within minutes of learning about LW's renewal, I also heard about the discovery of seven--count them, SEVEN earth-sized planets--discovered around a little star only 40 light years away! At least three of them are in the potential habitable zone, they're close enough to study with better accuracy than a lot of the exoplanets so far discovered, and on the off chance that there's life there, messages could be returned within a lifetime or so!

This is amazing, you guys! It's like we got an upgrade on our corner of the universe!


And the book that I've been most excited about reading, A Conjuring of Light, just came out yesterday and I should be reciving a review copy soon! I'm so PSYCHED, you guys! Once I've read it and reviewed it for NYJB, I'll put up a bookriff here and talk about the series as a whole, because it's amazing and beautiful and I love it.

What good news have you gotten lately? Share in the comments!



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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Let's talk about herding dragons...


I scribbled this note the other day while in the middle of something else, and it's not comprehensive or anything, but it's been sitting here on my desk clarifying the shit out of a lot of my thoughts for a couple of days, so I wanted to say something about it.

I call my blog Herding the Dragon because a whole bunch of years ago, before grad school, it occurred to me that being creative and trying to live a creative life was like herding cats, but harder. I like dragons, so I sort of jokingly called it "like herding a dragon". And I kept it because dragons are big and toothy and sharp-edged and can burn you, so it seemed more and more appropriate as I started getting into what it really means to be be creative.

See, I've had this sneaking suspicion that it's not just whether you're creative or not. I think everyone is creative, or at least starts out that way. I think the difference between creative people and people who don't feel creative is the way they live their lives and the things that they keep track of inside them. And from there, there's stuff about how cultures handle creative types and all that.

So I have this vague cloud of things that I'm interested in. And there's things that I'm interested in because they're cool, other things I'm interested in because they're necessary, still others because they're good ideas, or useful, or idealistic. And I've been looking for a way to make them all make sense as one thing, a whole thing that is me and my interests. 

Then, I had a flash of inspiration, and I doodled this thing, and it was like the act of drawing it connected some stuff in my head. All of the things I'm interested in are for the purpose of Herding the Dragon. Some are for smoothing the way. Some are for keeping things balanced and lined up. Some are for feeding. Some of the things are creativity itself, the expression of it and training of it. And there's still things I need to work into the list--on a bigger piece of paper than a 2" postit mini-note.

But it's a start, right?

Herding the Dragon.

How do you pull everything together? I'm sort of obsessed with making sense out of myself so I can feel like a holistic unit and not a collection of fractured bits. And right now, this is how I'm doing it. Do you mind map? Do you list? Share in the comments!



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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Book riff - Shadowbahn by Steve Erikson


Not to be confused with Steven Erikson, who wrote the Malazan books (and the much more goofy Willful Child books), even though I only read this book because I confused the two. I'm okay with the mistake, because I found this weird-ass book that even though I'm not sure what happened in, I'm still pretty fond of now that I've read the whole thing.

Anyway.

Shadowbahn is probably an acquired taste; it's hard to say what it's about because it's kind of about everything (and that's even the topic of one of the conversations inside the book), and it's not the least bit linear, and it doesn't bother explaining itself, but the confusion that comes with reading through it is sort of also part of the purpose of the book? Like, it's about an America that's falling apart in a lot of different ways, at a lot of different times, because of a lot of different things, but it's also sort of poking fun at the idea that there's any way to just "be America". It glances off of things like racism and belonging and pop-history, and delves into things like what happens when you move historical moments around and how that changes everything--generally for the worse. There's stories that don't line up in the end but still resonate. There's scenes that are flat out gorgeous fantasy, and some of the characters wander back and forth between the realistic parts and the fantasy parts. There's some amazing poetic imagery.

I think, for me, the most rewarding part of this book is that it's a successful literary experiment that isn't deadly dull or dragging. It's about a lot of heavy stuff, but never gets heavier than a sense of creeping dread itself, and it's got a weird format that makes me wonder, as a writer, what weird formats I could get away with in my own writing. I wonder how non-writers and non-professional-readers might interpret it, but to me, it was all sorts of fun to read, even in the parts that make no sense--or no logical sense, anyway; they save themselves by making emotional sense, or by having that feeling that things are coming together the way instinct or metaphysics or coincidence does. 

It's so weird, you guys, but it's something that rings true even at it's weirdest, and the landscape of an America falling apart in the background is a super-close-to-home setting for the way the world feels right now. It somehow manages to be about this moment while not being about the things that make right now feel like right now, exactly, and it's not depressing, which is a major accomplishment.

I highly recommend it. Just--be aware that it's weird. Like, really weird. But in a fun way.



- My actual review is much more coherent; this is more of a reaction to the book as a whole, and a little bit of gushing about how neat it is.
- This book really does Change the Narrative; it changes how narratives even work, so YES SIR.


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Monday, February 13, 2017


I haven't talked about it TOO much, but this past year* has made it super clear to me that large parts of my life aren't working, so I've been spending a lot of brainpower on figuring out what's not working, why, and how I can fix it. I think it's a thing that a lot of people are going through lately, since this has been a bad few years for the country as a whole, and maybe the world.

But also, I've come to realize that I don't know what to do with the revelations I'm coming across with all this soulsearching. How do I take what I'm figuring out I want to do and be, and turn it into an actual life?

So while it's all a nebulous ball of potential, I want to ask you: what can I do for you? Is there something that you know I do or know or could do that can help you with what you're trying to do?

I know I want to help people feel creative and inspired. I know I want to keep making nail polish and writing stories. I know I want to make more printables. But all of this is me: what do you need?

* Two years? Ten years?


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