Birthday Giveaway and My "Other" Blog

Friday, April 4, 2014

It's been an age, my friends. I know. And I am so late in making this post, but I wanted to finally let you all know, any who are still paying attention, anyway, that I have a whole new blog over on wordpress, here:  This is where I'll be talking about my writing, etc. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to keep my space over here on blogger. I may. But, if you want to keep up with my posts, follow me there, as well, because as you can see my posts here are patchy at best.

You should also know that I am giving away my short story, Midway, for free on Amazon this weekend! If you haven't read it yet, now is a great time to grab it and see what sort of mad things I've been writing.

And, of course, you can always follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Hope to hook up with you somewhere on the internets!

I'm Calling for an Invasion

Monday, April 22, 2013

Take me to your leader.
("Alien Soap Close-up" by soapylovedeb)
The world is a scary place. I don't know if it's scarier now than it was in the past (depending on how far past you go), but right now there's a lot of terrifying stuff going around. Radicals bombing events you would never dream would be bombed. (Who wakes up one day and decides to take out a bunch of runners? Well... we know who now, don't we?) A school shooting seemingly every time you turn on the news. Fertilizer plants blowing sky-high, taking out human life and whole houses. Crazy weather and ice caps melting from climate change in a downward slide that seems so big and so out of control  you can hardly breathe for the crushing enormity of it all.


Things are scary.

You know what this world needs? An alien invasion. That would just be the icing on the cake. It seems there isn't a single thing we fear that isn't happening somewhere in some way. Droughts. Famine. Pandemics.  Self destruction through war and treachery and pure human fuckery. 

This would all be a lot easier if we could blame it on the aliens. And, no, I don't mean the "illegal aliens" on whom so many uber conservatives are so eager to blame all our troubles. I mean serious aliens. Green men from Mars (though, more likely, they'd be from somewhere much further away). Flying saucers. The Mother Ship. I might ask to hitch a ride.

And it would make me very happy if they looked like
the Yip Yip aliens from Sesame Street.  For the record.
("Yip-yip alien" by Dvortygirl)
I'm going to go write (fiction... presumably...) about aliens.  I leave you with this song.  It always makes me feel better.  Yip yip yip.  

Everything To Be Done Ever

Monday, April 15, 2013

Here's to new beginnings,
and watching out for looming cliffs in my path.
... I'm just sayin'.
I'm going into Crazy Time, where everything everywhere must be done, all of it NOW NOW NOW!  To say this is a time of change and transitions, of new life and new beginnings, is putting it mildly.  Apparently I've taken the season way too literally, and have decided now is the time to take on anything I've ever wanted to do all at once.  Okay, well maybe not everything.  Lots of my life "to-dos" require funds which I currently do not have.  But I think it's safe to say that I'm tackling almost everything which doesn't, at least immediately, require my becoming indebted to a large financial entity or winning the lottery.

On my list of Everything To Be Done Ever, these are the ones I'm most excited to tell you about.

First is the fiction.  I've started a new piece.  It's a little more sci-fi than my usual fare (because, you know, aliens), but I'm in the early swooning stages of new love in which my story concept can do no wrong.  At the moment, I believe this is going to be a serial piece.  I don't know how long the finished story will be, parts and all.  I don't know how many parts there will be.  I don't know if I will try for traditional publishing first, or go the self-published ebook route.  All I do know is that I'm excited about it.  And I'll keep you updated as things develop.

The second thing is... deep breath... I am creating a local ezine for eco-conscious living in Northeast Oklahoma.  It's called The Green Country Guardian.  I have some help.  A friend of mine and her girlfriend are building the website and providing me with artwork.  Others have promised to contribute writing and help me with info-gathering.  I keep threatening to do a kickstarter for it, so people can get paid something. I've got my eye on a local print shop who might do the swag for kickstarter rewards. I've started a facebook page to generate interest and keep people informed while we get this all together.  This is a big project and it's intimidating, but it's also something I've been working on in my head for years now.  So, seeing as how I've contracted some kind of spring crazy bug, I didn't want to put it off any longer.

These projects of mine are getting smooshed like putty to fill any available cracks in between my home life (this includes dragging my son kicking and screaming through high school, nurturing and thoroughly enjoying every minute of my relationship with Mr. V, watching things grown on my fire escape [I've got sugar snap peas coming up!], caring for cats, and the never ending struggle to maintain house), writing small articles for extra money, and the day job.  

Is spring like this for everyone?  Is it just me?

And why must the start of every new journey always begin with The Fool?  Wish me luck and clear vision, will you?

Hope and Tragedy: The Weight of the World in a Small Town Crime

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Candle by spcbrass
It's been an up and down day.  Luckily, this time, the two were reversed.  It started off . . . well, not bad exactly, but hard.  But, it got better in the end.  And now I'm sitting here writing to you lovely people, which is always a high point.

Sometimes I get caught up in things out there in the world--things that have nothing to do with me.  Things that are happening hundreds or even thousands of miles away.  It doesn't happen often, but every once in awhile I hear about something that strikes a very particular chord in me, and I find myself stuck like a fly to those sticky lengths of paper you see hanging in little hole in the wall convenience stores in small southern towns, usually where the air conditioner has gone out and it's 110 degrees outside.

I will read something in the news, and I will think about it.  I read something else.  I process some more.  Usually, at this point, if it's something to be OUTRAGED about, then I discuss the more OUTRAGEOUS points with friends and loved ones, become sufficiently OUTRAGED, and move on.  However, as I mentioned, sometimes it hits me differently.  Sometimes it wriggles inside of me, lays its eggs, and starts to take over.  My friend and cohort, T. Z. Wallace, had something to say on this phenomenon in her guest post on Cordelia Calls It Quits.  She has her own particular way of obsessing over the state of the world. And that's how last night and today was for me.

I'm talking, of course, about the Steubenville rape case.

Now, I first heard about the situation months ago, when the first news stories broke.  A 16 year old girl, drunk, possibly drugged, was dragged unconscious by two high school football players from party to party while they publicly humiliated her and violated her and took video and pictures.  People watched.  Lots of people. They took more pictures and made crude jokes and sent tweets flying around the internet.  For a night, this unconscious girl was their party mascot, it seemed.  They called her the "dead body."  It lasted for hours.  She woke up the next morning in a strange place and couldn't find her things--her phone, her jewelry . . . .  She remembered nothing.  But she quickly found out that everyone else knew all about her whereabouts that evening, and she was now the worst kind of local celebrity.

When I read about it then, I was OUTRAGED.  I was indignant and, yes, even appalled.  But I had perspective.  What I mean, in this case, by perspective is that I could be sufficiently OUTRAGED and still go home and talk about happy things and live life like a normal(ish) person.  But then, yesterday, the verdict came out and the case popped back up on my radar.  The boys were found guilty and sentenced.  They were not tried as adults.  Whether or not they should have been is a topic of some debate.  But, the more I debated, the more I delved into this subject--the ins and outs of reform in our society, the ins and outs of this particular case, the finer details of just what happened to that girl on that night for all those hours when she was being used like a blowup doll at a frat party, and no one apparently did a thing to help her--the more it started to affect me.

At one point last night, I broke down crying.  Hopeless, sad, terrified little girl sobs.  Helpless parental what-good-are-these-hands-if-they-can't-protect-her sobs.  Weight of the world sobs.  As I said, it struck a chord.

I woke up this morning in a heavy bog of depression.  It took awhile to shake it off.  I had to get my head away from this story.  I had to stop reading about it and feeling it.

Interestingly, from a "here, let's analyze ourselves, shall we?" standpoint, I wasn't even reading about the Steubenville case the past two days as much as I had when the story first broke.  And I was no longer OUTRAGED.  I was internalizing.

If we were to discuss this from a writer's or an actor's perspective, I would say I'd taken on the character, and that's as true as anything else.  I was certainly identifying with the victim and the victim's family.  I have a teenager of my own, and I am a woman who was once a teenager herself (cat's out of the bag now).  It's not much of a stretch for me to be affected on both these fronts.  What I didn't expect was to be so deeply hurt by it all . . . for it to feel so personal. 

I still don't have a succinct answer for this.  I'm sensitive?  I suppose.  But, like I said, it's hit or miss.  Not everything guts me like this one did.  I didn't break down like this over the Sandy Hook school shootings, for example, though I was as horrified and saddened by it as anyone.

Maybe, like I said, I just happen to more personally identify with the victim in this case?  I wonder how common this is.  I wonder if, as humans, it is "normal" (as impossible as that is to define) to be temporarily rendered emotionally raw over something that happened in far off lands to people you don't know and will probably never meet.  I know that human empathy can be a powerful thing.  And that the moral compass often pulls us from inside . . . .  That, in a very big way, this is how that compass is formed--by recognizing injustice in situations that have nothing to do with you, except on a very symbolic level.  And that, by tapping into that moral compass, it begs the question, always the question:  how could this happen?  Doesn't everyone have a moral compass?  Well, no, obviously not, or at least it's not always "on" for everyone all the time, or these things naturally wouldn't happen.  But, the fundamental question formed from being sentient creatures watching your supposedly sentient brethren commit heinous crimes that you couldn't dream of allowing, much less committing, yourself . . . how . . . why . . . what were they thinking?  This is the mental/emotional tailspin.  These are the things that stop our great minds dead.  The cogs grind to a stop and everyone is left staring at each other, dumbfounded.

Oh, there are all the stock answers brought to you by the DSM:  bad parenting, societal pressures, war of the sexes,  pack mentality, ad infinitum.  Our magic words.  Our boogie men.  And maybe they're all true.  But we don't know for sure, do we?  It's the not knowing--the having no clear strategy to prevent this madness from taking hold and happening again--that keeps us locked in place, unable to know which way to turn.  All we can do from afar is watch the train wreck.  And hold our breath.  And hope that we, as a society, as a justice system, as a people, did the right thing.  That we did enough in response to this tragedy, just as we hoped for the last tragedy.  That we chased the demons far enough away that they won't return to infect our kind again, at least for a little while.  We hope these things as we tuck in our little girls at night--literal or figurative.  We pray our magic rituals have scared them off.  And, once the shadows abate, we do the only thing left to do.  We light a candle, and pray for love.

True Romance: We Are What We Read?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I hadn't planned on writing to you today, dear blogosphere, but something came up, and it's something I want to share.  Today, on this most commercialized day of celebrating romance, a wonderful thing happened to me.  My darling Mr. V dedicated a quote to me, and this quote got me thinking.  Now, I'm not going to share our most intimate moments with you all, but since this transaction took place on facebook, I feel comfortable posting it here.  These are the beautiful words he gave to me, written by one of my most favorite authors on the subject:

“A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we’re safe in our own paradise. Our soulmate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. When we’re two balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are we’ve found the right person. Our soulmate is the one who makes life come to life. ” - Richard Bach

Why am I sharing this with you, you ask?  Surely it's not to gush about my budding romance or gloat about how lucky I am.  No.  Of course, it's not.  

As I said, the quote got me thinking, bringing with it a memory of how I first came to know Mr. Bach and how his works affected my view on relationships at a young age.

When I was fourteen, my dear grandmother and godmother and general spiritual advisor handed me a book called The Bridge Across Forever by Richard Bach.  I believe I've spoken of this book before.  At first, I was dubious.  It seemed to be a love story, not the usual fare Grandma typically fed me, who was much more into Arthurian legends and mysteries and Louis L'Amour than--ugh--romance.  I myself was reading The Lord of the Rings and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and didn't want anything to do with what I considered to be the cheesiest, most low brow of literary genres. 

"Trust me," she said.  "Just read it."

And I did trust her.  So I swallowed my misgivings and opened the first page onto the tale of a philosopher pilot soaring across the stratosphere, sleeping in haystacks in wheat fields, and searching for the meaning of it all.  And does he find love?  Oh yes.  But, of course, not just any love, but the love.  His soul mate. 

What I had in my hands was a philosophy on romance, on love and relationships.  This was no cheap thrill written to entertain 30-something housewives by titillating their wildest, most impossible fantasies.  This was about two people connecting--two equals who felt such mutual respect and adoration for one another that their life together became a grand adventure.  Two people who, in essence, gave each other the freedom to be truly who they were . . . who made each other feel safe. 

At the age of fourteen, just when it mattered most (my grandmother was very wise, you see), I was forming my beliefs about love and partnership based largely on this book.

Now I have a teenager of my own, and while he is more interested in manga and dragons than books on romance, I know that other kids his age . . . yes, primarily girls . . . are being fed large spoonfuls of the Twilight series and 50 Shades of Grey.

And this makes me sad.  Because I can look back and see that what you feed your imagination is what you come to believe in.  When your heroes and heroines are strong, when they believe in trust and respect and support in their romances, this is what you come to expect from your own.  But, what happens when your heroines believe in swallowing the pain so they can make their lovers happy?  When your heroes are angry and jealous and believe their mates aren't strong enough to make decisions for themselves?  What if the prevailing literature of the age somehow loses sight of the adage, "If you love something, set it free."  And what if that literature is being devoured by a large portion of your young, sexually developing population? 

Some would say these are just books.  It's just pop culture, and pop culture has been shocking the previous generations since time immemorial.  Look at Wuthering Heights, for crying out loud.  Theirs was hardly a "healthy" relationship.  And this, I would say, is all true.  I am not going to say that this new generation is the most depraved or the most misguided of all generations.  I don't believe that's true.  But I will say this: be careful what you feed your children's minds, and be careful what you feed your own.  If these romances entertain you, by all means read about your sparkly vampires and your controlling, dominant lovers.  But find a balance.  And know that true love isn't based on control.  It is based on freedom and trust and respect.  It is based on finding someone with whom you can be yourself, someone who feels their life is better for having you in it, and for whom you feel the same.  The Bach books are a fantastic place to start, and to come back to.  They are good food for the soul.  Because you need to know, deep down in your core, that if your love does not make you stronger, if it doesn't inspire you and make you feel truly happy to be alive--to be who you are--then it isn't love.

I might've forgotten that for a time.  Life will do that to you.  But, I'm very glad I had the visions of Bach and other writers like him lurking in my psyche to help me remember.