The Innovators #4 with………Author Billy Ray Middleton, Jr

Introduce yourself.

My name is Billy Ray Middleton Jr. I am the author of ‘The Silhouette’ and do a podcast called ‘Blabbercast.’ I also occasionally do Instagram videos/podcasts @ ‘AuthorBillyRay.’

When and why did you start writing?

I started writing around thirteen, mostly thoughts, feels, poems and things of that nature. I liked playing with words and getting things out when I felt the urge. It’s therapeutic to spill your mind on pages.

What role does creativity play in your life?

Creativity is important for me since there are so many things I won’t experience, so in my own worlds I can experience anything I want. Also, I like going outside of the box and creating a unique style of art, whether it be writing or working with video. I enjoy the term ‘Chaotic Beauty.’

Tell me about The Silhouette: who or what inspired the story and characters and why a Lovecraftian romance?

The Silhouette went through many phases over the years, and as most artistic works, it kind of becomes like a child to you. I had an idea for a girl who was physically damaged but still very sweet through her trauma when she could have easily rejected the world that was cruel to her. I asked myself a question, ‘Is love physical more than anything else?’ I wanted to open the door to a curious question of the word ‘Love’. I wanted to put two characters in a situation where they never saw each other, but were right next to each other where only their words and little ticks were on display. Basically, loving someone 100% for only them, the real them, not the external sexual stuff.

The book fell into the Lovecraftian style since it was the best fit for it. I wasn’t thinking about Lovecraft as an inspiration when I wrote it. The book simply fell into it. I’ve always enjoyed the not-knowing aspect of his works and others who do the Lovecraft thing. Our minds do well with blank slates and mysteries.

When and why did your podcast start? Who or what is featured?

In 2013, me and my closest friends started ‘Blabbercast.’ My best friend really wanted to do one and since I can never shut the F up it seemed right up my alley since I talk a lot. I enjoy a Kevin Smith vibe or Howard Stern. I don’t like filters, I know people think different and speak different in private, I always say ‘Let it out. Act like its the glorious 90’s still. This era of fake-ness is lame.’

Who or what inspires your writing?

I actually hated reading since everything was so wordy and never got to the point. So my first inspiration was to try to take some of that out and write more screenplay-like. I like dialogue, and I use it. I like fun and scenes that move, not blabbering on for ten pages about nonsense. The indie books — (yours did this great, Melanie {awe, thanks Billy}) — moved at a perfect pace; I really have enjoyed those reads without the corporate machine behind them F-ing everything up. In fairness I have read some I liked that were mainstream. I love William Peter Blatty, I thought the Exorcist was mind blowing. George R. R. Martin is great as well. I found the Game of Thrones books pretty quick since he moves it quickly or makes scenes, at the very least, interesting.

Any writing quirks?

I don’t have many quirks. I never have had writers block, I just have the ‘I don’t like it’ thing and I never write to just write, I need it be acceptable to me, and then hopefully a lot of people enjoy it, but I need to enjoy it and have fun, whatever happens after that is meant to be or not.

Best advice for other indie authors?

My best advice is to have fun. Ignore all the BS writing rules. They don’t exist. Period. Have good grammar and ‘Do you’ as they say. Don’t be put in a box. Don’t worry about reviews so much either. I found most people review poorly and are hypocritical. If their favorite author wrote something incognito and they were told it was an indie author, they would be extra harsh on it. The look on their face when they found out it was their favorite author? Mind blown! LOL Obviously reviews are important as is people’s opinions. I just feel people in the literary world are too constrictive. That doesn’t work on me.

What is your spirit animal?

A dog. I don’t know if my explanation will fit in with the spirit animal thing, but when I see a puppy my heart sings. My black heart turns red, and I smile and must pet it. I love them. Their loyalty is far superior to humans and it is true unconditional love.

Favourite author and book?

George R. R. Martin – A Song of Ice and Fire, It’s just such a massive accomplishment and I had so much fun reading those for two-months. His dialogue is just so good, and the imagery is fantastic.

What are your upcoming projects?

The newest novel is on the way. The Nicest Parts of Hell – I am not giving too much away. All I can say is I am going to some strange places. Rockstars, psycho’s, serial killers, and blood and love. A lovely Friday night.

Thanks Billy! Check out The Silhouette on Amazon. A highly recommended read that I really enjoyed!!

The Innovators #3 with…….

Julia DeBarrioz, author

I’m excited to kick off the indie author interviews with the multi-talented Julia DeBarrioz, author of the fantastic Dakota del Toro series, artist and super supporter of other indies!

Introduce yourself.  When did you start writing and inspired you to keep writing?  Tell me about your books.

 Hi, I’m Julia! ::waves::

 I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I was an only child who lived in a rural area with no other children around, so I entertained myself by telling stories and re-telling stories I knew. I cut my teeth writing fanfiction, and finished my first novel when I was 12-13. (It was horrible, LOL). I have to write. Writing is how I process emotions and understand the world, and if I have a story kicking around my head that I don’t have time to sit down and work on I get twitchy and cranky. At the moment I’m writing the Dakota del Toro series. It’s urban fantasy set in New Mexico featuring a woman who is a bounty hunter for supernatural creatures. She finds missing women who have been taken by the monsters on the side, and she gets mixed up in a vampire revolution, as well as romantically entangled with the comandante. Oops!

Where did Dakota Del Toro come from (who or what inspired you to create her) and why is she the central character of your books? Dakota has been with me since I was a teenager, and maybe I can blame a goth cowgirl stage I haven’t really ever outgrown, LOL. I loved vampire stories with a strong female lead, but I wanted to read a story about a character who could both kick ass and embrace her femininity. Maybe that sounds stupid now, but back then those things were presented as mutually exclusive, and it was frustrating. I set the books in New Mexico because, well, I love it there, and I guess it’s a bit of vicarious living on my part. I’ve always been fascinated by Spanish/Latinx culture. I’ve travelled in Spain and Latin America, and I have a tiny bit of Spanish heritage on both my mother’s and father’s sides. Writing Dakota and her supporting characters has been a fun way of connecting with that.

You deal with some big social issues in the books (marginalization and abuse of women).  Tell me why that theme plays such a big role in the series.  There are two things that really scare me: bears, and the patriarchy. We’ve come a long way as far as women’s rights, but you still don’t have to look far to find stories in the news about abuse that happens in this country, and women with brown skin get the worst of it. Google ICE assault allegations, the results are horrifying, and Native American women face violence at staggeringly disproportionate rates compared to other demographics.  America seems like a safe, happy place to live on its shiny surface, but there is a dark underbelly that frankly, should not exist. It makes me angry, and I guess I don’t know what else to do about it except write my stories, try to raise awareness, and vote for people who I hope will actually give a shit.

Why vampires and werewolves?  Who is your favourite literary vampire?  Favourite actor to play a vampire?  Would they make a good Diego de Gama?  If no, then who would play him best on the big screen?  And Dakota? I think I have to blame my dad, who raised me on campy vampire movies. I’ve just always liked that medium. My favourite literary vampire would have to be Lestat, the Brat Prince. Alexander Skarsgård played a pretty excellent vampire in True Blood. I don’t think he’d really work for Diego, LOL. Even though they’re actually musicians, I think Maluma and Rosalía would make for awesome casting for Diego and Dakota.

How do you use social media as an indie author?  Best advice you can give to new indie?  Best money ever spent on or for your writing (an app, a subscription, a workshop, etc)?

 Like anyone else, I guess, I try to use social media to keep people updated and find new readers. I’m not a huge fan of Facebook and I’m terrible at updating on Twitter, but I do enjoy the community on Instagram.

 My best advice to a new indie author might be to watch your wordcount. When you’re starting out and trying to convince people to give you a chance, don’t hit them over the head with a 700 page tome. No one will wade through that. I feel qualified to say this because I made this mistake years and years ago, and it took a lot of work to remedy. The best money I’ve spent for my writing would have to be on book review services. Getting honest reviews might be the hardest part of being an indie, and having access to a pool of reviewers who are willing to go that extra mile after reading are worth their weight in gold.

Tell me about the process/decision to create your own covers?  What is the inspiration behind the designs/colours / theme?  Do you create or sell other artwork not related to the book covers? 

 I guess I’m double cursed, being a writer and an artist, ha. I’m a printmaker at heart, and I think that’s probably reflected in my covers. I have a degree in fine art, and I guess I always wanted to design my own. I know my covers are very different from other books in my genre, but I wanted to evoke a mix of the Spanish and Indigenous folk art of the Southwest, as well as 1960s revolution art. I do make other art besides book covers. I draw, I paint, and recently I’ve gotten into pyrography (wood burning). I’m not very good at collecting money for my work though, LOL, I seem to always be giving it away. I like to make people happy.

You find yourself stuck in a bomb shelter for an indeterminate time.  What one fictional character do you hope to be there with you?  What two movies will you watch and which three books do you want to have?

 Oh dear. What a 2020 question. I would have Jack Sparrow in the room, because I think he’d be pretty entertaining. We would watch Pirates of the Caribbean and The Mask of Zorro, and I would want to have Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins, and He Shall Thunder by Elizabeth Peters. I never get tired of reading those books.

What’s next for Dakota and Diego?  Any other new projects in the works?

 I have several more books planned for Dakota and Diego, though I do intend to make it a closed series. I am trying to release the next book this winter, and there will probably be 7-8 books when all is said and done. I also have some spin-offs planned. I want to tell Eduardo the bandit’s story in 1860s California, and I’m branching out into contemporary western romance with a new release coming this November. It’s called Evangeline Goes West. Look for it on Amazon. 😀

Julia DeBarrioz
Indie Author
juliadebarrioz.com
Amazon.com
FacebookGoodreads

The Innovators {episode 2} with…

Preston Bell

singer/songwriter/guitarist

Outside the Shadows

I’m excited to be doing the second installment of The Innovators with my Instagram friend Preston from Outside the Shadows! I’m a fan of his music (and his voice! seriously, one of my top five favourite vocalists to listen to) and he’s a fan of my Insta stories, lol.

Walking in the Dark, The Part of Me and Passing Me By are some of my favourite OTS tunes on my Spotify playlist (you can check them with the Spotify player at the end of this post)……

Introduce yourself.  Tell me about the band and your new single “So Much More” coming out soon – new album to follow??

I’m Preston & I am the singer, songwriter & guitarist for Outside the Shadows. The band currently consists of Tyler Medley on bass & background vocals & Steven Jones on drums. I started this band in 2013 with our original drummer Marty. Marty & I wrote the first two albums together lyrically & I handled the musical parts. Our upcoming single So Much More is one of our heavier songs we’ve written as a band. Tyler actually came up with the main riff for this song & I worked in all of the lyrics & other music for it. It is one of my favorite songs we’ve ever written. This song is about someone who has been verbally abused & bullied throughout life but in this song we get to express how much greater this world is with them in it & how to destroy their words with the pain & move on from it.

There is an album in the works. Is this album a deluxe edition of an album or a whole new album? We shall share soon 😉

What or who influenced you to pursue a career in music? 

I was influenced at a young age watching the musicians at my church play. At that age all I knew was contemporary Christian music. From there I learned drums & began filling in sometimes at church. I went to a Christian music store where I found a band that was covered in tats & had dreadlocks & I was like ‘who are these dudes & what kinda music is this going to be?’ lol. This band I speak is the legendary P.O.D & it was their album Satellite. It was the first hard rock / metal album I ever owned. I was blown away by the guitars & the heavier style vocals & so began my path as a vocalist & my path to learning guitars. All together I play guitar, bass, & drums & occasionally I’ll use a keyboard for effects when recording new music.

What is your creative process for writing songs? Who / what inspires your music?

My creative process is simple. I write a lot of lyrics and the songs that have come to me lyrically have been around for 10+ years & just now made it to music. I always have riffs running through my head that I built upon & usually will have lyrics already written that will work with it or some songs are written lyrics & music together at the same time. So many things inspire my music, mostly my love for heavy music. Heavy music in general just does something for me in a way that most things can’t. Heavy music can bring for me something, that while being heavy, also soothes the soul. There is so much passion in a lot of heavy music. Bands like Demon Hunter & Killswitch Engage just know how to make music heavy & beautiful at the same time. These bands inspire me in so many ways along with hard rockers like Skillet, Red, & P.O.D. If you’ve noticed in a lot of my heavier songs, such as Division, I try to blend those two musical elements along with punk rock & make it kinda my own sound. I know I fit in with certain bands & genres but I try my best to stand out.

You identify your music as Christian Rock.  How does your faith impact / influence your music?

My faith impacts my writing in so many ways. No matter what I’m writing about, whether it be good or bad, always comes down to how my faith in God always gets me through everything. He is always there any time I ever need him so all of my songs end up being about how God always pulls me through. Unless it’s songs like Surrender. Surrender is a simple praise to God above for all that He does in my life. He is an amazing God. The greatest gift of all is son Jesus & the gift of salvation He gave us if we just believe. It’s truly the most beautiful gift ever.

You find yourself on a deserted island with a fictional character – what three songs or albums are you listening to?  And who / what is listening with you?

If I was on a deserted island I would wanna spend it with Shawn Spencer from the show Psych. He reminds me a ton of myself as far as his character, comedy, & just his overall personality. The three albums I would take are Where do we go from here by Pillar, Hearts of the Innocent by Kutless, & Collide by Skillet. I believe those three albums are perfectly made. No bad songs at all & I could listen to them everyday, all day & never lose interest.

What are your thoughts about the state of the music industry today?  What would you change about the music industry if you could?

My thoughts on the music industry now: I think the industry is crap, I think record labels in general have sunk some of the most incredibly talented bands we’ve ever come to know such as Sent by Ravens & many others. I’m blessed enough to be on a label that worked with me on a contract that lets me govern myself musically but helps me get my music to places I can’t. The music industry also tries to tell you how to look & how to sound. That doesn’t work for me. If I can’t sound like Outside the Shadows then I’m out. I will sell out to no one except for Christ, of course. I think now with digital & social being as available to artists & bands as it is, bands should definitely govern themselves for sure or find a manager or label that will agree to help you like mine does but let you run the show like my label does.

How do you use social media to promote your band?  How much do you think it will influence the future of music, especially now with COVID?

I use social media a lot for promoting my band. I believe nowadays it is the best outlet for promotion of music. I think with this pandemic social media is great because you can do lives and shows and still reach your audience. It’s an amazing thing to have, I think, a fantastic tool 😉

What do you most want listeners to take away from your music?

I want listeners to take away positivity from my music. I hope when someone hears my music it can in some way make their life better and they can relate to what I’ve experienced in my own life and how I’ve dealt with certain dark times I’ve been through. Not only do I want to bring people a great sounding product always, but I want it to be a life changing situation. I want God to use the music He gives me to be an outlet for people who struggle with things in life.

The Innovators: indie interview with……

Gerry Weaver, vocalist

Perspectives NY

I’m excited to be kicking off my series of indie interviews with the frontman of Perspectives NY, a nu metal band who I first discovered via Instagram a year ago. Their powerful and impressive debut EP, Home, is a daily listen on my Spotify playlist. Their music is raw and cathartic and incredibly passionate, a visceral expression of life’s darkness with a reminder of its enduring light. They are a selfless group, constantly promoting and supporting other bands via their social media (most actively on Facebook).

Give the interview a read, give their music a listen on Spotify (see media player at end of interview) and give them a follow on Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/perspectivesofficial/

Let’s create a strong and supportive indie community!

Introduce yourself……..

Hi boys and girls, smiles of all ages. It’s G-motion causing all commotion for your underground promotion. But you can just call me Mouth, AKA G, G-baby, Gerriah Carey or any other creative moniker you can come up with….most just call me the wrong thing anyway..cough cough “Gary”.  I’m the vocalist of the local band in Rochester, New York called Perspectives NY. 

Tell me about the band: how did it start? Who’s in it?

Our mission statement is: Positivity through aggression. 

We formed on 8/18/18, believe it or not. I went to get out of the house. I had just lost my job, needed the sweet escape and therapy of local music. So I ended up going to the Bug Jar,  a great local venue here and it was packed like a tuna can yet everyone moved in every part of the room. When in the middle of the night I see Jordan, the soon to be guitarist of the band, at the same show.  So I snuck up and was like “hey brother, long time no see”. Come to find out he just got out of a relationship that has been a thorn in his side for some time so he came to escape as well in the sweaty tuna can. 

Cut to a few minutes after: Rein the ripper enters stage left  ” Hey guys I’m not from around here I was wondering if you wanted to partake in this sticky substance”. So we went outside and we discussed this substance and got to talking about forming a band. When around the corner a wild drummer appears….it is not Cody Chaos the drummer of Perspectives NY, but another fellow looking for a band. Our energies didn’t click so we didn’t work out, but a few weeks later Chaos melded into the mix…we all went to support Benzeath hells sky last show which Jordan was a part of at the time we formed. We both performed with them that night since it was chaos (pun intended) because in the middle of the night, the mighty Cody chaos met up with us in the crowd and started  discussing his intentions of being in a band. Thus Perceptions was born….  

…then a few short months later they became rabid and had to be put down (Legal issues)  As Perspectives NY was reborn from the ashes. A year later, a loyal fan named Greg, who I’ve been friends with since introducing him to our music on messenger, was pulled into the mix pretty recently.  The live stream we played at The Montage was his first show. Even though he’s a late entry he’s always had the band a part of him and now we’re all a part of each other and it’s glorious. The evolution is real is all I’m saying to that.  

How would you describe Perspectives’ sound? 

Our sound is a medley of heavy and light elements. We all listen to every genre and we try to encapsulate that. Everybody describes us differently for that very reason but we try to keep that raw-ness of the nu metal vibe. But we don’t like to label or be labeled. It’s just a part of the game. 

Who or what got you started in music?

I never shy away from the fact that I’m a 90’s baby, so I enjoy so many different types of music. One minute I’m bopping to Left to Suffer, next thing ya know Frank Sinatra is blaring in my brain. 

I love music in all senses but when I first started screaming and singing it was when I started listening to an eclectic assortment of groups:  Pantera-Vulgar Display Of Power, Slipknot – Iowa /Lamb Of God/Cradle Of Filth – Nymphetamine, but then always mixing it with Eminem- The Slim Shady LP/Twiztid-Freek Show/Limp Bizkit-Significant other.

But, to answer the question of what got me started, it was all the family members that sang around me all my life. From my grandfather singing Frank Sinatra or my momma singing Pink, music never stopped, so you could call me Spongebob cause I soaked in every bit of it. Music is my life and it has kept me alive more times than I can count. It has become my greatest gift and tool. Art saves in the darkest days. 

What’s the band’s creative process?

Our creative process is very different for each person in the band, but we all take this as personal as we can. When we need this band, it’s there for us. 

Our creative process is a caged animal needing release from the demons within. For the first month of creating our first single “Flatline”, which is about the loss of a loved one and coping with that loss, reminding yourself that their life and yours will live on after flatline, we lost ourselves, we went into a void and a darkness because we pulled out personal feelings so deep that it was like a therapy session. Tears, screaming at each other, hugging and reminiscing. It was cathartic and honestly that is the best way to describe our sound is Cathartic what we are  saying or doing on stage, that is our way of coping with life.

Favourite song to perform? Favourite venue to play? Who would you like to collaborate with?

My favorite song to perform is a hard question because every song has a special meaning and therapeutic trait to myself but more importantly the smiles in the crowd. I’ve become so connected to all of them on a personal level that I know which ones make that bad day go away or help them deal with the loss they had to go through life or just in general a job or gf. “Home” hurts and that’s my proudest song so far because of the euphoria it gives performing it feeling the weight lift as I’m yelling at the demons inside of everyone in that room. “No not everyday I’ll walk with smile stretch cross my face but I will be condemned if I just throw it all away”. Even writing it gives me chills because I have to remind myself that every day dealing with Depression Anxiety PTSD from my losses and tribulations I never felt I could say that to myself and look at me now mom, haha.

Favorite venue …All venues that are giving us a place to go to get away from our outside life for a few hours that’s my favorite venue. And I thank them everyday for continuing during the craziness and feel for everyone closing. It’s like our churches being shut down because this is our religion or spiritual enlightening, if you will, or at least that’s how I feel..but I don’t think I’m the only one.

There’s so many artists I’d love to collaborate with being such a fan of so many genres locally and nationally. Jebus…M…Heist….Corey Motherfucking Taylor just because I’ve met him before and I acted like a jackass “I’m not worthy I’m not worthy”, but I got to watch suicide silence with Mitch with him and I’ll never forget, but he is my biggest inspiration. I’d be lying if I said otherwise. 

But locally, so damn many for so many different reasons: Todd from Into the harbor, Ryan from Gutted alive, Cole from White tides, Paddy from Diluted, shit Kyle From Sirens and Sailors would be legendary. I digress. Too many to choose from. I’ll work with everybody (haha). But the one from out of our neck in the woods Taylor from Left To Suffer Sweet Genuine Soul with a heart of gold and the vocals of a grizzly bear huge Inspiration of the new school guys. The boys of Dropout Kings sure would mesh well too. 

If you found yourself shipwrecked on a deserted island, which three songs or albums would you want on your playlist?

Stranded on an island with 3 songs on my playlist for the rest of the time being?

 Might I just say Fuck!!!. This is a hard question (haha). I had to pace the practice space to think …

1.Slipknot-Gently 

2. Lynrd Skynrd -Simple man 

3.Cane hill-Kill the sun 

3 albums would be: 

1.Slipknot-Iowa 

2.Knocked loose-A different shade of blue 

3.Mac Miller-Macadelic

What’s your superpower?  Do you use it for good or evil?

The power of optimism. Da da da da daaaaaaa it’s Captain Optimism here to brighten your day, because I can keep every single person happy, but my kryptonite is I cannot do it for myself. Captain slash a smile ?? Has a nice ring to it.

Best part of being an indie musician?  Hardest part of being an indie?

The greatest part of being in an indie band is the close relationship we can have with our fans – making family, the smiles that keep the wheels turning. That’s the greatest part. Being home and feeling like the ones that come from broken homes feel at home. My heart is full. Everytime it’s the smiling faces or hearing the voices ringing out when I’m not even singing. Priceless.

Hardest part of being in an indie band is seeing true colors from people that you looked up to for a long time. But other than that, I love this responsibility to continue creating to help ourselves and the ones that follow with slashed smiles.

Where do you see yourself and the band in 2 years?

I can honestly say that every part of this band is like being on a constant grind to better ourselves physically, mentally, spiritually, musically. I can safely say that if the world can stop burning and be unified and shows become the new normal again we will be playing with some of our idols. This isn’t cockyness this is confidence and for the first time in life I can say that I’m proud and I stand by the product we are creating together.  Whole-heartedly, as long as we stay united, we can touch the stars… And even if that doesn’t happen, I’d still be happy playing for anyone, anywhere if they respect the message of love and respect.

What do you most want listeners to take away from your music?

What I and the band would like people to take away from our music is that this world is disgusting, but beautiful, that our heads are filled with darkness, but also, if given the flick of a switch, consumed with light. We are the change we want to see in the world and by “We” I mean all of us as a people. We need to be United no matter the differences besides the obvious pedophilia will Never!!! be accepted. We are all connected no matter the distance or difference and our music is the spark to the light we want to spread. Bring your hate, we will retaliate. With positivity. 

Thank you very much Melanie for the interview.

Don’t forget to Slash A Smile.

Home (EP), Perspectives NY

A season without doubt

Black and Yellow Party Entertainment Logo

No one doubts my abilities more than me. No one. Every idea that pops into my head gets over-analyzed and shot full of holes, usually to the point of death, before it even gets to see the light of day.

For the past year, one of those thoughts has been about stepping up my indie game and starting to help other independent artists in my own little way through social media promotion.  My doubts about the size of my social media reach and my ability to actually help anyone get noticed (I mean I can bearly help myself in getting my own books sold and my own poems read so what in the world would I have to offer to someone else!?) constantly got in the way.  But then recently, I was interviewed by an indie with her own little social media reach and it made me realize one really important detail that I had been forgetting:  quality is more important than quantity. 

Having one person – just ONE genuine, interested person, offer support to you and your work IS enoughThousands of followers on social media doesn’t necessarily equate to thousands of supporters of your work, it doesn’t necessarily equate to thousands of sales or reviews of your books.  In a world where everything is a numbers game (get more likes, more followers, more comments!) this idea runs contrary to what most people believe, but believe me, it’s true.

For me, that one interview equated to a higher level of support than all the “likes” I had ever received on Instagram. The invitation to be interviewed (someone was interested in me?  In my work? ) was a much-welcomed and, honestly much needed, ego boost that has supported me in a spiritual and emotional sense so much more than in a physical (book sales) sort of way.

Being an indie writer (or musician, or poet or artist in any shape or form) is really hard!  Self-promotion is really hard!  I’ve been doing it for a year and a half now and have often found myself feeling alone and adrift in an ocean of other indies, unable to swim or navigate the waters of self-promotion as well as others seem to be, and sometimes I’ve bearly been able to even keep my head above the water as the thought of quitting the whole indie scene, of giving up my writing, has occurred to me more than once.

So, with all of that said and all of that realized, and with that much-welcomed injection of support and inspiration still running fresh through my veins, I am finally going ahead and doing what I’ve been thinking about doing for the past year now: I’m starting up my own series of indie interviews and social media promotion.

The Innovators will be a bi-weekly series of interviews with indie authors, poets, musicians, and artists and it will start in September via this blog and my Instagram and Facebook pages!

I hope you will join me!

My books are FREE this weekend!

P_20200710_080428All of my book babies are FREE this weekend!! 🖤💙(Friday thru Sunday). Find the books here:  my Amazon Author’s Page.

I would love to find some new readers and get some more reviews, especially for my Hope Quest books (Hope Quest book 1: Blackbird and Hope Quest book 2: The Lightning), a YA, supernatural, coming of age series about 14 year old Hope, an unusual girl who speaks in a whisper and occasionally pulls stars from the sky, and her motley group of friends, whose search for Hope’s strange origins takes them to STARfest, a rock festival, where they find enigmatic musician Blackbird and discover his dark connection to Hope.

I also have two poetry and dance photography collections (I’ve worked as a children’s photographer for the last decade): Elegant Execution and The Stars Went Out.

So, if you are looking a summer read or two (or four!), please check out my books and consider leaving a review if you liked them! I would be forever appreciative. Those reviews are gold for indie authors like me!!! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Progress not perfection

flawed

I often wish that my typing was in step with my thinking.  I wish the words would flow from my fingers to the keys as fast and as often as they come to my mind.

But they don’t.

Most often I just sit, thinking – over-thinking – in front of my keyboard, my fingers at the ready……and nothing happens.  It’s not that I don’t have words, I don’t have ideas. In that regard, I can’t turn the tap off.  Most of the time I have too many ideas, too many thoughts to express – have I mentioned I am currently working on three books??

The problem, I know is me, getting in my own way. ALL. THE. TIME.  I worry too much about how to say things or even should I say things (my first novel Hope Quest dealt with incest and I struggled for months over whether or not I should include that at all).  I also deal with crippling self-doubt that anything I write will want to be read.  What’s the point of writing if no one is reading??

 

I recently got a new shirt to practice my yoga in. Across the chest, it announces: “Progress not perfection.”  After three years, I have come to embrace that idea in my daily yoga practice.  Yoga is not about having a perfect body or having perfect poses.  It’s about challenging yourself (mentally and physically) and also embracing yourself wherever you are on your spiritual/physical journey.  It’s very much a self-centered practice, done by you and for you only, no audience necessary or needed.

 

I’m starting to come to realize that I should embrace my writing in that same way.

I don’t do the most graceful backbends, but I still do them.  I don’t yet have the ability to do handstands in the middle of the floor, so I do them against the wall. I don’t overthink when I am practicing yoga.  I don’t stress, I don’t doubt.  I flow through the motions without worrying whether or not I can or even if I should.  

If I sit down at my desk with that same mindset ( perhaps that same “progress not perfection” shirt, too!) maybe, just maybe, I will find my writing flow, too – and having an audience would just be an added bonus.

 

Persistent whispers

attuned

I really didn’t want to do it.  Homeschooling my dyslexic son was on the very bottom of my things I’d like to do in this life list and although my husband and I had already kicked around the idea and I had expressed that maybe I would homeschool him next year, I was really just dragging my feet hoping for something else or someone else to step in and present themselves as the answer to our problems.  The little voice in the back of my head, that persistent little whisper that had been there since my son was two, when I first started to become aware of his language and learning difficulties, the one that always said what I wasn’t willing to admit, told me there was no rescue coming.  It said, “you are all he has.”

I desperately didn’t want to believe it.

And then, six weeks into my son’s grade four year, at yet another school meeting with the teacher, the principal and a myriad of other admins who had simply passed the buck by passing my son through grade after grade, year after year, knowing full well he couldn’t read and not wanting to deal with his recent dyslexia diagnosis (no one at the meeting could even bring themselves to say the word dyslexia outloud -well, except me, who said it constantly and loudly knowing it HAD to be addressed if my son was to have any chance of success in school), the house of cards that had been my son’s inefficient education finally and completely, collapsed.  Through yelling and tears (and not just mine), it was made abundantly clear that no one at the school was willing to help my son in the way that he needed to be helped.  So, my husband and I gave up the fight, we collected our son from his classroom and went home to wage our own battle.

Sitting at the kitchen table with my boy the next morning, knowing that his education was now completely in my hands and my hands only was as scary and daunting as sitting in my dorm room in college away from home for the first time had been.  It was a spine-tingling sort of realization of “Oh my godI’ve done it.  I’m here.  Now what??”

The two years that followed (much like my two years of college) were some of the most challenging, yet rewarding times I’ve ever had the pleasure of going through and growing through – and most importantly, it had the same impact on my son.

During those long hard years of homeschooling / reading remediation, my son went from reading four years behind grade level (that equated to not knowing the alphabet in grade four) to reading at grade level.  He revelled in finally being able to read his Harry Potter books to himself.  I’d listen at his closed bedroom door with tears in my eyes as he carefully and haltingly read outloud.  It tugged at my mommy heartstrings just like hearing his first words and seeing his first steps had done – but moreso because learning how to read (and for me, learning how to teach him to read) had been a steep, steep mountain for both of us to climb.  But, even on my worst days, that persistent little whisper in the back of my head was my constant cheerleader, believing in me and what I was doing even when I wasn’t too sure of anything at all.  “You’re the only one who can and will help him,” it told me, “so keep going!”  So I did.

Two years have passed since I wrapped up homeschooling and put my son back into the school system. He just finished grade 7.  He still has his struggles (and always will) because of his dyslexia, but his reading has continued to improve and stay consistent with his grade level.  I couldn’t be prouder of him, even as that persistent whisper in the back of my head has continued.

“Keep helping,” it has told me for two years now.  “There’s more like him.”

And it’s true.

While homeschooling, so many of my mom friends shared their own frustrations at their child’s poor reading skills and the inability of the school to provide appropriate or effective resources to help and so many came to the same sad conclusion, “I can’t do anything about it.  I’m not self-employed like you are, so I can’t homeschool.”

That was true, too.  Being self-employed as a photographer for the past decade has allowed me to schedule my work around my kids and their needs and I was able to move from full to part time employment in order to homeschool.  But then, the pandemic happened and in March I closed up my studio, thinking it would be temporary, but instead, it offered the silence needed for those whispers to get louder.

 

This summer, I will finish up my Orton-Gillingham certification and will close my photography business.  This fall, I will start a new venture:  Rock Star Readers, a reading tutor service for kids.

Those persistent whispers in my head finally made their way to my heart and now I trust them to lead me where they may.

 

 

My books are free today!

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To celebrate the one year anniversary of Hope Quest book 1’s release, BOTH books in the series are FREE today on Amazon!  Link to Hope Quest book 1: Blackbird and link to Hope Quest book 2: The Lightning.

This story developed in my head for twenty years before I finally sat down and wrote it (the entire trilogy in an eighteen-month period!). The main character, fourteen-year-old Hope Quest and her coming of age story to find the origins of her strange star-moving talents came to me in a series of dreams when I was fifteen and going through some very dark times in my life.  She was very much like a life-line for me and in writing her story, my hope is that it will be the same for others, particularly teens, although it is meant for all ages.  Just know that book 1 does contain some triggering material in it related to abuse and drug use.

If you read them and like them, please consider leaving me a review on Amazon!  Those reviews are gold to indie authors like me!!