A Look Back on My Growth as a Blogger (#MyFirstPostRevisited Blog Hop)

Recently I was nominated by the wonderfully bookish and insightful Nandini @ Pages That Rustle for the #MyFirstPostRevisited Blog Hop. (Thanks for nominating me, Nandini!) And having celebrated my eighth blogoversary last month, now seemed like a good time to look back on how I’ve grown as a blogger since the day I launched this site.

First things first, though. The #MyFirstPostRevisited Blog Hop was created by Sarah Brentyn @ Lemon Shark. And since every blog tag has rules, let’s go over them now: Continue reading

Site Updates, Plus Two New Article Series Coming Soon!

Housekeeping 2

You can only leave things lying around for so long…

Hi everyone!

I finally got around to some long-overdue site updates. The following pages now contain more accurate information regarding my current writing activities. Plus, I feel more organized now. Yay for getting things done! 🙂

Here are the most recent changes:

  • The About Me page features a new, more brief bio and a new photo.
  • Information regarding music review inquiries has been removed from the Contact page. However, visitors may still use the Contact form for article / interview requests, invitations to literary events, and related items. Teasellers who’d like to have me review their teas at A Bibliophile’s Reverie are also encouraged to use this page.
  • The Awards & Achievements page has been added! It lists writing and blogging awards and related milestones.
  • All freelance articles are now filed under the Freelance Writing umbrella. From there, it branches out into indexes for each venture: A Bibliophile’s Reverie (tea reviews), Grub Street (articles on writing), and Sonic Cathedral / Suite101 (music reviews and interviews).

Also, two new article series are coming soon! They are:

  • Freelance Article Round-Up, which will link out the most recent freelance articles I’ve written for A Bibliophile’s Reverie, Grub Street, and other ventures. These Round-Ups will appear on the last day of the month, with a frequency of once a month or every 2 months (depending on the number of new articles). As always, all new articles will be linked out on Facebook and Twitter as soon as they’re posted, and the respective freelance venture indexes will be kept up-to-date.
  • Author Interviews! Yes, I’m going to periodically feature interviews with published authors, starting in September. Twitter has proven to be an amazing way to connect with writers of all kinds, and those connections have inspired the idea for this series. For now I’m going to start with self-published and debut authors. The first one is already in the works (it just needs to be scheduled), and I already know which writers I’d like to pursue afterwards.

And… there may be more excitement around the corner! I can’t say much right now, as I want to see how things play out over the next couple weeks. But I’m buzzing with joy and anticipation just thinking about all the opportunities. If anything does work out, I’ll let you know as soon as I can confirm it. 😉

Hope you’re all doing well right now and enjoying your summer (or winter, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere)!

All the best,

New at Sonic Cathedral: Review of Die So Fluid’s “The Opposites Of Light”


I didn’t expect that writing my final CD review for Sonic Cathedral would be such a challenge. But when reviewing a 16-track album that runs the rock and metal gamut, there’s no easy way to cover everything you want to talk about. So was the case with Die So Fluid’s The Opposites Of Light. This sprawling set revisits the British trio’s eclectic roots in two distinct halves: the first explores Die So Fluid’s heavier, grittier side, while the second takes a more brooding and balladic turn. Grunge, alternative, doom, punk, blues – Die So Fluid thrust all this and more at the listener while creating a weirdly cohesive sound. This band and album epitomize rebellion in a “fabulously dark way,” and fans will be grateful for it.

Click here to read my review of Die So Fluid’s The Opposites Of Light.

Die So Fluid have already released three music videos for songs from The Opposites Of Light: “Crime Scene,” “Comets,” and this one for “Black Blizzard.” The best way to describe this song is menacing melodic metal combined with the gravel of grunge and eerie cello / violin arrangements. A very cool combination, if you ask me.

Coming Soon: Passed 55,000 words on my novel this past weekend! Come back on Wednesday for a new installment of “Chronicling The Craft.”

Farewell to Sonic Cathedral

Dear friends and fellow fans of female-fronted rock and metal bands,

After over 5½ years of writing for the Sonic Cathedral WebZine, I have decided that my next CD review for the Zine will be my last. My review of Die So Fluid’s The Opposites Of Light will be online in late April / early May, just before the album’s May 5th release date.

Why stop now? Creatively speaking, my priorities have shifted, so I’m changing my activities to reflect that shift. Some of you may know I’m working on a novel. I’m super-excited about it, and I truly believe it deserves to be published once it’s ready. My goals are to finish the first draft before the end of 2014, then revise it and have it critiqued during the first half of 2015. I’d also like to pursue other freelance writing avenues where I can share lessons and techniques on the writing craft. To do all of this, I need to start clearing from my plate the things I’m not as passionate about. I still enjoy female-fronted rock and metal music – but I’ve lost the passion to write about it.

While I did have that passion, though, writing for SC was an absolute blast! In addition to writing CD reviews, I also interviewed bands, corresponded with PR and label representatives, attended fantastic live shows. In short, I got to live out my original college dream of becoming a journalist. I also met some awesome people and made friends I hope to have for the rest of my life. As for the milestones… So many I could list, but then this note would turn into a book! Although I will say that interviewing Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation) and Tommy Karevik (Kamelot) are two of the coolest events EVER in my life! Last but not least, I loved that I had a “professional” excuse to further immerse myself in some of the most beautiful, powerful, and life-changing music I’ve ever heard. I don’t even want to think about how many bands I might never have discovered had I not written for Sonic Cathedral. *lol* So, I have many reasons to be grateful for writing to “Big Boss” John on a whim almost 6 summers ago.

Now, for the thank-yous…

To the entire Zine staff – Robin, Terry, Max, Justin, Christiana, Allyson, John T., Chris, Mark, Ron, Angie, Lindsay, Emilie, Ton, and most importantly John W. and webmastress Becky: Thank you for your friendship, your enthusiasm for the music we love most, and the support and encouragement you offer one another with each assignment, milestone, and new idea. It’s been so much fun being a part of the team, and I hope you know how many people around the world appreciate your work and promotion. Let’s keep in touch!

To all the bands and artists I covered and corresponded with since August 2008: Thank you for having the guts and passion to do what you love. We need more people in this world who aren’t afraid to pursue music and other forms of creativity! So believe me when I say you’re an inspiration. A select few of you (you know who you are!) have also gone out of your way to keep me posted on your band activities and ask for my feedback between and after reviews. Your thoughtfulness blows me away every time. I wish you nothing but the best – and you know where to find me if you’d like to touch base.

To the friends and other fellow “femme metal” fans I’ve met over the past 5 ½ years: Thanks for sharing your passion for the music and your feedback on SC’s work. I’ve always appreciated your thoughts and opinions (even when they differed from mine), and it has made the work all the more worthwhile. And I’m willing to bet the rest of the Zine staff feels the same way.

If you’d like updates on my writing endeavors, feel free to continue following here at my blog or at my social media sites:



Lots of love, light, and \m/,


Coming Soon: Reached 50,000 words on the novel today! Stay tuned for a new installment of Chronicling The Craft next week.

New at Sonic Cathedral: Best Releases of 2013

SC Logo

Sonic Cathedral’s annual year-end article is now online! My fellow staff writers and I have compiled our lists of our favorite 2013 albums by female-fronted rock and metal bands, as well as our online store’s top-selling albums and our picks for Bands To Watch For in 2014.

What always intrigues me about the year-end articles is how similar yet different our staff’s tastes in music can be. Several albums appear on multiple lists; some writers even share #1 picks. Yet, between the 13 writers who contributed this year, a total of 66 different albums are listed in this year’s article. Wow.

By the way, “brownie points” go to anyone who reads the article and finds out which singer – yes, which singer, not which band – appears most often on this year’s lists. 😉

Click here to read “Sonic Cathedral’s Best Releases of 2013.”

Coming Soon: We’ll see what happens next. I have a lull in Sonic Cathedral assignments right now, so I’ve been plugging away at the novel-in-progress. I’m also itching to get back to the open mic circuit in my area. Other ideas are percolating as well. So stay tuned!

Review of Baliset’s “Exordium” EP Now at Sonic Cathedral

Baliset Exordium cover art

One aspect of being a Sonic Cathedral staff writer that I’ve really enjoyed has been covering bands from my local area. The latest one is Baliset, a progressive rock / metal project from Boston, Massachusetts. Their three-track EP Exordium is their first new release in four years (their debut album, A Time For Rust, was independently released in 2009), and it shows how much Baliset’s sound has evolved since then. With a shift from male vocals to female and a balanced emphasis on melody and variety, Baliset proves that prog rock can be dynamic, compelling, and difficult to categorize without throwing in too much technicality.

Click here to read my review of Baliset’s Exordium EP.

Interested in checking out Baliset’s music? You can stream Exordium in its entirety and purchase a copy at the band’s BandCamp site. Part of the proceeds from EP sales will go to Manes & Motions, a non-profit therapeutic riding center started by the mother of Baliset guitarist / founder Greg Massi.

Coming Soon: Sonic Cathedral’s Best Albums of 2013 article, which includes my list of my top 10 favorite female-fronted rock and metal albums of last year, should be online soon!

Review of Ayreon’s “The Theory Of Everything” Now at Sonic Cathedral


There are few musicians out there who create music that I’d call a “playground of sound.” Arjen Lucassen is one of those few. He’s the mastermind behind several progressive rock and metal projects, most notably Ayreon. And after a 5-year hiatus from Ayreon to follow other musical pursuits, Lucassen has returned to his signature rock opera with The Theory Of Everything, a story about ambition, greed, finding your life’s purpose, and solving one of physics’ most elusive equations. (And yes, the title is a direct reference to “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”!) Like past Ayreon albums, Theory stirs prog rock with heavy metal, electronic music, and folk influences; and features a host vocal and musical talent, including Marco Hietala (Nightwish), Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil), Tommy Karevik (Kamelot / Seventh Wonder), and Troy Donockley (Nightwish). So, how is it different from its predecessors – and do those differences affect the listener’s experience with the album?

Click here to read my review of Ayreon’s The Theory Of Everything.

Below is a video trailer for The Theory Of Everything. It doesn’t feature any vocal snippets, but you’ll get a good feel for the music’s range and power. Have a look and listen!

Coming Soon: I may have an Open Mic Announcement in the next couple weeks. Otherwise, things are quiet on the outside right now, but productive behind the scenes. Stay tuned!

New at Sonic Cathedral: Review of The Mariana Hollow’s “Scars, Not Wounds” EP

TMH Scars Not Wounds cover

The Mariana Hollow faced the tough task of replacing one of their founding guitarists last year. It didn’t take long for the British alternative metal band to rebound, however. Within a few months, they recruiter a new lead guitarist, jumped back into their local gig circuit, and started writing new material. Scars, Not Wounds is TMH’s first release since making that transition. The five-track EP shows the band moving from their original guitar-driven sound to one that highlights the distinctive voice of frontwoman Rebecca “Spinky” Spinks. And for the most part, this new direction could be quite promising for TMH.

Click here to read my review of The Mariana Hollow’s Scars, Not Wounds EP.

Here’s a video of The Mariana Hollow performing the title track from Scars, Not Wounds earlier this year in London. The sound quality is pretty decent (not too bassy or overdriven), and shows Spinky’s vocal charisma and magnetic stage presence.

Coming Soon: I passed the 25,000-word mark for my novel-in-progress last weekend! So, stay tuned for a new “Chronicling The Craft” article later this week.

New at Sonic Cathedral: Staff Reports on Kamelot + Delain + Eklipse North American Tour

Kamelot NA 2013 Tour Poster

What happens when several Sonic Cathedral staff writers attend different shows on the same tour? They collaborate on a tour report! Four of my SC colleagues and I share our experiences with Kamelot’s recent headlining tour in North America, featuring support acts Delain and Eklipse. The article covers shows in Baltimore, Maryland; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Worcester, Massachusetts; and Anaheim, California.

Click here to read our report on the Kamelot / Delain / Eklipse North American tour.

Coming Soon: As previously reported, my review of The Mariana Hollow’s EP Scars, Not Wounds should be online at Sonic Cathedral later this week!

New at Sonic Cathedral: Review of Hydria’s “Freakshow”


Every artist deserves a second chance. That’s what I decided when I volunteered to review Freakshow, the third album by Brazilian duo Hydria. And to keep a long story short, I’m so glad I did. Hydria have left their symphonic metal days behind for a dynamic and crushingly heavy blend of industrial, electro-rock, metal, and pop. Freakshow offers twelve songs with hooks galore, layers of synthesizers and riffs, and thought-provoking glances on cultural and social themes ranging from reality television and show business to relationships and pursuing one’s purpose in life. What’s even better, though, is that Freakshow shows a huge leap of progress for Hydria. Their drastic change in style has brought out a side of their creativity that probably never would have emerged had they stayed with symphonic metal.

Click here to read my review of Hydria’s Freakshow.

If what you’ve read so far peaks your interest, check out Hydria’s video for “Reality Shows” below. It’s futuristic yet undeniably metal, and Raquel Schüler’s melodies and lyrics are addictive. Plus, I love how this song sinks its teeth into the absurdity of reality television while maintaining a sense of humor. 

Coming Soon: Most likely the next post will be for another CD review, on The Mariana Hollow’s new EP Scars, Not Wounds. I also hope to make some progress on the novel this coming weekend, both on writing it and on continuing the world-building.