brand new name, same old me

I’m working on some changes over here: “melanie ever moore” blog is now “read/write/repeat” , though it’s still me (melanie) at the keyboard and “The Innovators” indie interviews has been (sadly) scrapped.

I’ve decided to focus more on book blogging and reviewing of books that I really enjoy and will have occasional author features. Indie authors and indie books will still be my main focus because they are my favourite – and because I’m one (an indie author, that is, with four books to my name).

I’ve made the decision to focus more on my blog in the upcoming year because after nearly two years on Instagram, I’ve discovered that the indie communities of both writers and poets is a hard one to get a footing in. At least for me, it was. I certainly never felt a sense of community there, even after doing The Innovators interviews for the past three months – the whole purpose being to highlight other indie authors and their work in order to build a sense of community amongst creatives on that platform. I was (naively) hoping that other indie writers would connect with those I featured and a sense of community and mutual support of creative work would grow from there. But it didn’t. Other writers and poets just seemed more interested and excited about selfies and memes or other writer’s cats and I just can’t (and won’t) compete with that.

So, I am here now hoping to build and grow a sense of creative community by connecting with other readers, writers and book bloggers (so please give my blog a follow if you haven ‘t already!).

My next post will be My Top Indie Reads of 2020…..come back to check that out in the next few days……

The Innovators #12 with…filmmaker/writer Leah Solmaz

“Everyone has the ability and capability to do anything. It takes self-belief and patience. That goes hand-in-hand with living your truth. Always create with yourself in mind. Create what you want then if people resonate with it… bonus!”

Introduce yourself.

Hello guys, girls, non-bines, I am Leah Solmaz. I’m primarily an actress, filmmaker, and writer, but I dabble in a lot of other creative activities too. I am currently based in Lichfield, Staffordshire but I’m originally from Birmingham, West Midlands, UK. I lived in County Cavan, Ireland for 9 years and completed the majority of my schooling there. Having lived in both a large, bustling city and a small, country village seemingly in the middle of nowhere, it has definitely given me a broad perspective on life. I’ve definitely experienced the best of both worlds, so to speak and I think it’s helped ground me as a person.

Tell me about your Theosight digital series.

‘Theosight’ is a UK based, comedy, horror, web series that we hope to make sometime next year. I’m the writer, producer, and I also act in it. 

The logline: “Theo’s a skeptic. Riley’s optimistic. Shaun’s dead.”

We released the pilot episode on Halloween which sets up the premise for the series. It was directed and shot by my good friend, Matthew Wood, and stars the amazing Kiah Reeves (The House of Screaming Death, 2017) as Riley, Alex Bourne (writer and director of Clownface, 2019) as Shaun, and myself as Theo. The cast of the pilot also features Lewis Clift (BBC’s Doctors), Craig Godwin aka Fingaz MC, Roger David Francis (The House of Screaming Death), and the very lovely Debbie Brannon as Peg … my favourite characters, in all honesty. Behind the scenes, we had Farhaan S. Sadiq on sound, the brilliant Hans Michael Anselmo Hess composed the music, and we were very lucky to feature the song ‘My Reflection’ by the American/Canadian rock band DeBendetta.

The premise is very much this … Theo, is a grouchy, skeptical woman who discovers she is, in fact, psychic after a strange man follows her home from work one night. That man is Shaun. Shaun is dead. Theo’s charmingly optimistic, roommate, Riley, then comes up with the bright idea to set up a Supernatural Private Investigation service. With the help of a rag-tag bunch of friends they do just that and open themselves up to a world of monsters, ghouls, and demons.
It is very much an ode to one of my favourite, childhood films, ‘The Monster Squad’, and also pays homage to TV shows such as ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’, ‘Charmed’, and ‘Scooby Doo’ … believe it or not. I love the fact that in each of those, the main character could never have succeeded without the help of their comrades. 
We genuinely hope people will enjoy it once it’s made and we’ve already received some great feedback from the pilot which you can totally check out for free here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAJCND9EcLw
You can also find and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Where did the idea for your novel Nexus: Book One come from? Any plans for Book Two (or another novel)?

So 5 years ago, or it could be 6, in all honesty, but we’ll stick to 5, I had this crazy idea to write and illustrate a dark-fantasy graphic novel. I’m a huge lover of comic books and graphic novels and being in my naïve, mid-twenties I thought to myself … I can do that. Throw in work and other commitments, I found it hard to find time to sit down and actually draw. I’d written half a script for it and planned out thirty to forty pages’ worth of panels but that’s as far as I ever got with it.
The story, as it is now, is very different from how I intended for the graphic novel. Initially, the character of Brianna, was going to be a police detective and Dax, was an unlucky guy who had found himself entangled with some dark characters. There was going to inevitably be a splash of the supernatural in there, but yeah it’s definitely not the same story as I originally planned.
So, having realized just how much time a graphic novel was going to take, and taking from my primary love of filmmaking I then (again rather naively) thought I could turn it into a feature film. I got halfway with the script and realized in order to make it, I’d need a ridiculous budget and I wasn’t willing to change any of it to ensure it could be made cost-effectively.
It was very much put on the back burner until the summer of 2018 which is coincidentally the same time that I came up with the idea for ‘Theosight’. I’d sustained a back injury that meant I actually couldn’t work for 5 months. In being such a creative person, I needed something to take my mind off of the fact that I could barely hobble from my bed to the lounge and back again. 
I stumbled (maybe literally) upon a lot of my old notebooks and came across the graphic novel script for Nexus. I bought a new notebook and whether or not it was painkiller induced, I decided to change everything about the story. I’d always written short stories growing up and I’d always had the itch to write a book so it just clicked. It meant I could tell the story I wanted to without compromising elements for a feature film and the words seemed to flow easier and quicker than sitting down and drawing. It was gloriously serendipitous. I just started writing. Chapter one. Chapter two … three, four … before I knew it I’d made my way to chapter seven.
I was feeling extremely nostalgic being holed up in a small, city apartment and the physical limitations I was experiencing at the time, I’d sort of found myself longing for the open countryside of Ireland so that greatly influenced the world-building side of things and definitely shaped the premise of transporting Brianna from the mundane to the fantastical. For those months, I very much lived vicariously through Brianna, hence turning her into a waitress … I have that on my work resume. 
For anyone with a keen eye, you can very much identify the influences of the book. I definitely drew from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and also from ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ but I also have a fascination with the occult and demonology and the concept of angels and devils battling each other for our immortal souls. Nexus is very much an amalgamation of those elements.
It wasn’t until meeting the fantastic, horror writing twins C L Raven, who worked on a feature film I was acting in, Clownface, that I decided to self-publish and they played a huge part in getting Nexus: Book One made. I will forever love them for that. 
I am currently working on the sequel and can honestly say that it’ll be bigger, better, and darker than the first book. 

What challenges do you face as both an indie author and filmmaker?  What specific advantages do you have being involved in both creative realms?

My biggest challenge being indie in both fields is and has been working a day job. I would love to get to the point of replacing the day job with either field. That is definitely the goal but I guess the pros of my current circumstances is valuing time. 
Another pro of being indie is also having creative control. Especially in regards to the writing side of things. With film, if we’re looking at the behind the scenes side of things, you haven’t got to jump through massive hoops in order to make a film, which if you were looking for a larger, more mainstream studio or production company to get a film made, you certainly would which runs the risk of changing the initial story you want to tell. The downside of that is the scheduling side of things, and organizing shoot days to suit everyone involved but it makes it so much easier to have a great cast and crew. So far, I’ve been lucky in the fact that everyone I’ve worked with, in front of or behind the camera has been truly amazing. 
The same applies for self-publishing I’ve found. It’s always good to run your manuscript past an editor to see if there are elements that don’t work but ultimately, it’s your call at the end of the day. With writing a book, bar working with an editor or artist, I do enjoy the working alone aspect which makes the whole process of it very therapeutic. The final product is definitely rewarding. It’s almost an extension of yourself and I think most authors feel a sense of pride and ecstasy in realizing that. 
Working in film, you learn the show don’t tell aspect which has helped in writing Nexus and as an actor, its helped me hone dialogue that is supposed to be spoken. I do tend to read aloud a piece of dialogue to make sure it sounds authentic to a character. Authentic dialogue makes it easier for the audience, film or book, to relate to a character. 

Who or what inspires your creativity?

Life inspires me, as cliche as that sounds. People, places, and very much the unknown of it all too. I’m big into spiritualism, philosophy, psychology, and I enjoy learning about ancient cultures. Literally anything and everything. As gloomy as life may seem at times it’s also so awesome. I think we just have to look a bit harder at times but it’s there. Magic is everywhere. 

Twenty years down the road, what do you want people to take away from your body of creative work? 

I’d like to inspire others to take up whatever creative field they want to pursue. Nothing is impossible. Everyone has the ability and capability to do anything. It takes self-belief and patience. That goes hand in hand with living your truth. Always create with yourself in mind. Create what you want then if people resonate with it… bonus! The fun is very much in the creative stage. Another thing I’d like to inspire in people is to support and promote each other. Creativity is not a competition. It’s a game and like most games the more people the more fun there is to be had. Right? Can I trademark that line? 

What are your upcoming projects?

I have a few feature films lined up, in front of and behind the camera. Advent: A Christmas Anthology, in which I act and I believe it’ll be released around this time next year. Shock Value: Body Horror which is another anthology-style film. I’ll be teaming up with Alex Bourne for one of the stories in that. We are also collaborating on a separate feature and hopefully begin the pre-production stage sometime next year. 
We will be launching a crowd funder sometime in the spring to help get Theosight made. 
I have a couple of short films, acting-wise too. The Other, which is a dramatic piece directed by Will Bradshaw. The second short, I don’t think I can reveal too much about it as of yet but I’m looking forward to working with some familiar faces on that one, from Advent and Clownface. 
In between all of that I’d really like to focus more on my store and fingers crossed, design an awesome collection. I’ll also be finishing Nexus: Book Two and hopefully publishing it mid to late next year.
I say hopefully and fingers crossed to all of that considering this year’s unprecedented guest. 

Where can readers/viewers find you and your work?

Well if anyone is looking for an off-the-wall, dark-fantasy, adventure book then they can find Nexus: Book One here: https://www.azonlinks.com/1656109433

Or follow me on social media

Twitter … https://www.twitter.com/leahsolmaz

 Instagram … https://www.instagram.com/leahsolmaz

Facebook … https://www.facebook.com/theonly.leah...

LinkedIn … https://www.linkedin.com/in/leah-solmaz-4844121aa/

For everything else check out my website…https://www.leahsolmaz.com/

Thank you, Leah!! Be sure to check out her work AND her Author/Filmmaker Series of interviews (which I was honoured to be a part of and then, in turn, was inspired to start The Innovators!)

The Innovators #7 with…author Lee Vockins

Introduce yourself and your books.

Yo, I’m Lee (also known as Lee A. Vockins). I’m a published writer, independent author and soon-to-be accredited life coach. For the past two years I had a novella available on Amazon (The Hunter: Monster Within), but it is currently unpublished so I can make some major changes. Although a successful release, it wasn’t quite up to my recent standards or writing ability. Us creatives are fickle creatures, right? Always striving for perfection.

Tell me about your book, The Hunter: Monster Within

The Hunter: Monster Within is a dark fantasy tale of monsters and magic and hope. It follows the journey of the enigmatic Azerius, and his inner struggle for power. He hunts those that lurk in the shadow, but only by harnessing something dark within himself. He has some interesting friends; oddities, supernatural and mysterious, much like himself. In my introduction to the series, Monster Within, Azerius embarks on the ultimate hunt. A challenge, perhaps, but something far more sinister waits just beyond. A challenge that he never could have anticipated… himself.

I wrote this book when I was going through a lot of struggle. It was my anchor and my means to vent. There’s a lot of darkness within, but it comes from somewhere true. On the surface, it’s a gore-smothered dark fantasy, but beneath, it’s a story about embracing difference, and those that are different. It’s a story of finding strength and hope, no matter how bad that inner struggle may seem.

Unfortunately, the re-write of the book isn’t quite ready yet, but it is in the works, and is looking more like what I intended it to be.

What role does creativity play in your life? What other creative ventures / hobbies do you have besides writing? Who or what inspires you?

Creativity, I find, is something that I must do, and I’m sure that many others can relate with this. It’s part of my being. My mind is always coming up with new ideas that I just need to put to page. It’s my vent and my escape, but also the thing that makes me feel most alive.

I have written in many forms over my years; game design, poetry, music. I have also played guitar since I was about 18 and I like to paint now and again (although I’m not very good). I love photography, especially when I’m out walking among nature, as many have probably seen on my Instagram. Oh, and graphic design, narration, and video editing. So, I’m quite the creative…

And who and what inspires me? My simple answer to this would be anything and everything. The world and all the souls on it. Nature. History. Books. Art. TV and movies and music. However, one of my biggest influences for my writing is H. P. Lovecraft. I grew up reading the Nerconomicon and all the tales of C’thulu, and you’ll probably see that reflect among my works of fiction.

You are open about your mental health struggles on your blog. Tell me why you feel that is important to be open about, to write about, to share.

I feel that it’s important for me to be open about my mental health because I need people to know that there is light in the darkness. I need people to know that there is every chance of getting back to a positive state of mind, no matter how lost they may feel. I’m hoping that by reading about some of my personal struggles, and how I got to where I am now, they will continue to fight.

I also want to push through a lot of the stigma out there surrounding the subject. Like, medication is bad for you or men aren’t allowed to show emotion or cry… these constructed mentalities need to stop, because they are dangerous for the people that are struggling. It’s okay to not be okay, and it’s okay to just be yourself.

You identify as a Stoic. Tell me why. What role does Stoicism play in your writing/creativity?

I’ve been studying philosophy for about a year now, and among the ancient philosophy’s, Stoicism has resonated with me the most. The main reason for this, I believe, is that it builds upon much of what I have already practiced. Stoicism has influenced much of modern-day talking therapies, and as such, the study of it caught my interest. I already knew much of it, without the knowledge of its origin.

The philosophy helps me with my focus, routine, and ability to control my emotion. It enforces a daily ritual of self-reflection. It has taught me to let go of objects and relationships that weren’t serving my potential. It has taught me to accept fate and know that everything happens for a reason.

And that’s just the surface of it; I could talk about this subject for hours. But, for purposes of my creativity, it has mainly helped me with my daily routine and my confidence. One of the main points of Stoicism is to realise what we can and cannot control. So, what I can control is the effort I put into my work. What I cannot control is how others will perceive it. This gives me great confidence in my work because I know that everything that I do is to my potential. I have done what I can, the rest is up to fate.

What is the best part about being an indie writer for you? The hardest/most frustrating part?

I love being an indie writer. I love the absolute freedom to create and not having to worry about what might appeal to the mainstream. I absolutely write for me, and that is a powerful feeling. I love the marketing and business side of it. I love connecting with the community and developing new ideas to promote with them.

Have to be honest, I’m just having fun with it. I haven’t found anything hard or frustrating… yet.

If you got locked in a library overnight what section would you be found sleeping in? What books will be surrounding you?

That’s a difficult one. So much choice! My taste in books is extremely broad. But, to make the most out of being locked in a library, I would probably be found in the philosophy section. There is still much about the subject that I wish to learn and many philosophers that I am yet to learn from.

What upcoming projects are you working on? Where can readers find you and your work?

Aside from The Hunter: Monster Within, I am also working on the follow up book to the series. I like to write as ideas come to me, so always have multiple projects on the go. In terms of fiction, I also have a short story and poetry collection that I’m putting together.

Alongside all this, I’m writing some non-fic on self-care, incorporating my knowledge and experience of philosophy, psychology, and spirituality. I don’t like to put dates on the releases of anything, but I will definitely have something out by the end of next year.

You can find me and my work on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Goodreads.

My Website is http://www.lavockins.com.

Thanks Lee!! Looking forward to your next releases!

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

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!

What the silence has to say

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I’m still trying to find my footing in this new place.  Having to shut down my photography studio last month, needing to apply for unemployment benefits for the first time ever, adjusting to online / homeschooling with my kids – two of whom would rather do anything else than sit at a computer to do schoolwork with their mom  (and trust me, most days the feeling is mutual) – it’s all wrecked havoc with my emotions, my focus, my motivation, especially when it comes to my writing.

Entering into my second year as an indie author, I had had some very concrete plans in place and up until early March, I was working on them almost daily.

And then….well, we’re all familiar with what happens when we’re busy making other plans – a pandemic  – no sorry,  life happens, or at least some semblance of life as we used to know it.  For me, this new life hit like a mini cyclone, wiping out my job, my income, my schedule, my routine, my drive, my direction, and sense of purpose in just a matter of days.

Gone.  Finito.  Kaput.

One month in and the dust seems to be settling a bit, although I struggle some days with navigating this new normal and other days I still feel plain lost, I have come to appreciate the quiet that has fallen around us.

My calendar is now blank. My schedule is now free of appointments. The pressure to do, to be, to get it all done has lifted and amongst this new quiet, I’ve had time to sit and listen to the silence that it has brought.  It has a lot to say, but mostly it’s message is to listen and to wait for what’s next.

So I will.

Mistakes brought me here

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At fifteen, I ran away from one bad home situation into an even worse one. Within a year, I was introduced to a lifestyle of rampant drug use and went from a straight-A student to a high school drop-out. Sitting by candlelight one night, the electricity having been cut-off due to non-payment again, I sat filling out application forms for dead-end, minimum wage jobs, when a life-changing thought occurred to me like a lightning bolt:

No one is going to save me from this.

I realized in that moment that I had made a mistake – a big one.  My life was falling apart. I was going nowhere very quickly and I knew that no one was going to sweep in and save me.

I had made a mistake, but in accepting that mistake and learning from it – rather than beating myself up emotionally and staying stuck in that situation -I realized that I could change things and, more importantly, I did.

Within a year, I had painfully extricated myself from that life into a better one.  I went back to school, earned a few university degrees and have been on the road to a much better life ever since and I owe all of my success and my happiness to those mistakes I made along the way.

Although painful, I am strangely grateful to them. Without those mistakes, I wouldn’t have worked as hard to get what I want.  Without them, I might not have known what I wanted and I certainly wouldn’t have learned to appreciate all that I have now.

Since becoming an indie author in the past year, I have recently begun to realize that I have been making a whole lot of mistakes along the way.  I have put out four books and have struggled to get them noticed, read, reviewed.  It’s been frustrating and disheartening, but I’ve begun to realize that it’s not because of me or the books, but because of my lack of marketing and distribution channels.  More importantly, I know that I can change that, I can fix it.  And I will.

Mistakes can lead to failure, but viewed in another light – even by dim candlelight- they can also point the way to success and there’s no shame in learning that at any point in our lives.

 

 

 

The Measure of Everything

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Two of the most powerful attributes that humans possess are:

1)  the ability to LOVE

2) the ability to CREATE

Having spent my formative years under the thumb of a restrictive parental figure: I was not allowed to say “I want”, I never heard the phrase “I love you” (certainly was never inspired to speak the words either) and my creative endeavors were always overlooked and dissuaded – the idea of living a creative life was laughed at and labeled a “pipe dream” – I’ve spent my adult years learning both how to express love and how to express myself – including allowing myself to express both my needs AND my wants.

 

In the process, I’ve discovered a deep, rich and untapped well of passions lying dormant inside of me. 

 

It’s taken many, many years of learning, growing, stretching myself beyond my comfort zone and oftentimes just plain scaring myself, but the faster my heart beats and more anxious I feel, the more that well gets churned, and the deeper and deeper I am able to dip into it – loving, creating (particularly, writing) and allowing myself, finally and freely, to express myself.

It hasn’t always made me the most popular girl around – especially within my own family!! – but I refuse to censor myself, to keep my emotions or my wants or needs repressed any longer.

It was no way to live. 

With a heart full of love and a head full of stories, neither of which were wanted or allowed to be expressed, my memories of childhood and adolescence boil down to being simply a very unhappy time for a very unhappy kid.

But now, I am the parent and as so, I have always encouraged my children to express themselves in every positive and negative way they see fit – and they are growing up to be the most loving and creative people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing!

 

My measure of everything in life now lies in how much that well of passion gets churned by the thought of a new project, new adventure or new endeavor:

If it’s not a ‘hell yeah!’   Then it’s a ‘no’.

                      (the unhappy kid inside of me smiles whenever she hears that)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visibility Lessons

alexander-krivitskiy-8Z8JijlydJs-unsplash (cue the tiny violins)….I wrote my last poem today.  Things just weren’t working out.  The amount of energy I was expending on them, losing sleep to get those lines out of my head, onto paper (initially – usually scrawled at 4 am by dimmed light with blurry eyes and a tired hand) and then getting them into just the right poetic order, searching for just the right stock photo, getting it onto Instagram at just the right time suggested by Insights………..only to get maybe 20 likes and generally zero comments.  It just wasn’t working.  It wasn’t what I wanted for my poems, those tiny pieces of huge emotions that I felt just secure enough to release to the world.  It just wasn’t working.

They were all falling flat. The message was being lost.  The words were unraveling.  Over and over again.

And it was making me feel…..broken.

So, I wrote my last one today.  It’s not my best one, but it took just as much time and care and attention as all the rest, so it’s just as important – and once I decide to publish it, I know it will suffer the same fate as all the rest.  “I’m sorry little poem,” I’d often say just before posting them, “you’re going to go die a slow death on Insta now.  I’m so sorry.”

But, in a way, I’m not.

I’m not sorry because I have written hundreds of those poems over the years and now I have hundreds to submit to literary magazines in a quest to get traditionally published for the first time in too many years.  My poetry audience wasn’t on Instagram, but maybe there are eager eyes looking somewhere else for my work, so I’m going hunting for them now, putting my energies into finding just the right magazines, submitting at just the right times for their deadlines.

Being invisible to some eyes doesn’t necessarily mean being invisible to all the eyes out there.  I know someone, somewhere will see my work – and now I can concentrate my own eyes on writing the three novels I currently have in the works.

I did start this year with a publication. A literary magazine in Indiana accepted one  of my dance photos – not one of my poems – but something of mine found an audience! It’s getting published!

I’ve found my first set of eyes.