Makers and Creators

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It’s coming down to being one whirlwind of a week. I’ve made some major changes in my life, and I’ve come to a few other realizations as well. Given my creative nature, I’m no longer interested in holding a job that’s on a restrictive schedule. At least, not in the capacity of working two jobs. I still need actual work in order to pay my bills while I crank out the remainder of Ravensrealm and Rune Stories: The Daughters of Odin, Volume One, but I also know I need to not be crunched in my time. While I was working two jobs (I’ve let IHOP go), I had little time for anything. So little time, and I was fighting and clawing for what I wanted and needed in order to just get a sentence or two written down.

And we’re moving. It’s finally underway, and my challenge here has been to keep my ass calm amidst this chaos of lack of planning and so on. It’s crazy. These lessons keep popping up because the people around me refuse to learn from them, and I’m the one caught in the center of it all.

But these are also lessons for me, too. Patience for myself, with myself, and better organization are among them. And refusing to shoulder more than what I need to shoulder.

I am looking at some avenues for income, ones that allow flexibility in scheduling. I also need to take the initiative to shore up money come the dry months, as I deem everything after the first of the year. (January sucks for retailers and restaurants alike.)

Anyway, that’s the whirlwind that’s my life right now, along with a focus in tending to my spiritual needs.

Now for the title of those post.

Recently, I tried to reconnect with a person I met on Livejournal. It seemed to be going okay at first, but, because I’m this crazy ass weirdo who loves writing as much as it frustrates me, I couldn’t shut up about writing. It’s kind of a taboo subject with this person, but that’s also because I can see how she neglected that wound from her time at attempting to be a writer and, well, a few other things.

One thing she brought up to me was something she’d observed with a family member of her own who loved to do something but no longer engaged in that activity. One thing I’ve wondered, and I would love to ask her (but I’m also trying to halt all conversations with this person due to her negativity towards writing and her toxic positivity – yes, it is a thing, toxic positivity) is how come she never asked this person to make her something? I actually live in a family of people who like to make things. Though he doesn’t actually do anything with it, my brother can come up with a fantastic story line. My sister draws. My mother crochets, and my stepdad likes to knit. (He uses the knitting loops and got me started on that a few years back. It’s actually rather fun!) Me? I like to write, I like to learn, and I love baking. I love writing stories as gifts for my friends. I would so love it if a friend told me, hey, for Christmas (or birthday or whatever), could you write me a story? That would be awesome.

One thing I have learned when it comes to people who like to sew, write, draw, crochet, bake, and so on, is that they’re willing to do the thing once they know someone out there will appreciate the time and effort put into the task itself. My mother put together a jacket for cosplay for me, a nice velveteen piece for an alternate costume for Fayt Leingod (based on a fanfiction story I’d started to nurture). Everyone who has seen me in that jacket has loved it. It’s incomplete, too, but I love it. My mother hates it, but then she knows where her mistakes are in the garment. Does it matter to me it’s incomplete and that there are mistakes? No. I love it. I chose the material and the buttons and paid for those myself. I will wear that jacket at every convention I go to because it’s what I wanted, my mother put the time and effort into it, and no one else knows where those mistakes are, anyway. I asked my mother almost two years ago (it’ll be two years December 25) that she did know if she crocheted me stuff for Christmas that I’d be happy, right? She did that last Christmas for all of us, and it was the most peaceful Christmas I’d experienced in a long time, all because I didn’t have to hear, “Sorry there’s not a lot under the tree this year, but we just didn’t have enough money”.

If you know someone who likes to crochet or knit or sew and the holidays are coming up, ask them if they’d be willing to make you something for Christmas, even if you know they haven’t done the activity in a certain amount of time. If they tell you ‘no’, it’s one thing, but, man, just knowing that someone out there would appreciate that effort makes two worlds of difference for that person.

And, yes, I want to ask this person why she hasn’t asked this family member to make her something. I just haven’t because I don’t expect an answer back from this person, and, despite the number of years that have gone by, in some ways, she hasn’t changed. I’m not interested in being friends with those who wish to remain stagnant and closed off from those who are different from them, be it on a political or spiritual or even career scale. I’ve lost interest in being right but have gained more in being wrong because at least then I’m learning, I’m growing, and I’m becoming a better person for it.

This is a strange entry from me. And I love it.

Once the move is over and we get things settled, I aim to post more.

Have a great holiday weekend, everyone!

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A Commentary on a Common Science-Fiction Trope, Words of Wisdom and Encouragement: An Update

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Hey there, everyone! Been a while once more! As you may have surmised, my real life has been super busy. It actually hasn’t let up that much since around March. It’s kind of the price I pay for working two jobs while building a writing career, patching what I’ve torn apart in the career, and continuing from there.

I feel like I’ve made some huge mistakes since December, but I’m also determined to learn from those mistakes. There’s an innate wisdom in here. We should be looking to the past to learn and to grow from our failures, our goof-ups, instead of trying to relive those moments and rewrite them. When we try to live and rewrite, we get stuck. We hash over and over, again and again, all of the things we wanted to say, be it in anger, be it in love, be it in remorse . . . whatever the reason, that’s why we do it. And, in the end, the only thing doing all of that rehashing does is make us miserable. The moment still has passed. What’s been said and done remains unchanged. Feelings remain hurt, and grudges fester and poison our souls the way lead poisons our blood. When we do that, we’re torturing ourselves worse than what any other human being could ever do to us. Some of the best words of wisdom I have come across is this: You will spend more time with yourself than you will anyone else. Treat yourself with kindness.

Basically, what we tell ourselves is what we believe. If we treat ourselves with kindness, genuine kindness, we, in turn, treat others with genuine kindness, and that’s where change begins. It starts with us being kind to ourselves.

On the writing front, my mistakes I’ve made might seem a tad bit monumental, but then I’ve also listened to advice from non-writers who have scoffed at the insights I’ve gained from listening to those who are in the business, both the traditionally published author and indie author. While the insights from the non-writers is just as valuable at times, it can also be quite detrimental because, like I have, they get stuck with the notion that their thoughts and insights need to be heard above all others. It’s their guts telling them this or that. I’m working on getting back on track from that poorly timed advice I’d taken and gaining some momentum. This is what I’ve chosen for myself. I can listen to everyone, those in the business and those not in the business, and feel my way through the bits that are going to work for me. That’s my main encouragement right now because success as an author isn’t set by some pre-determined path. What worked for Stephen King may not work for me or the next guy. So feel it out. As a writer, we’re going to be blasted with all kinds of advice, and, if we allow it, the advice will overwhelm us and leave us wanting to quit.

Stay on your course. Stay strong while recognizing another’s insights. It’s going to be difficult, and that’s okay. Enjoy those moments for what they’re teaching you and helping you to be.

With all of that said, onward with the update on the personal front of my life. I’ve gone through some upheavals in the last month. July was just . . . ugh. Parts of July, I don’t even want to talk about! It was actually that bad, but I made it through alive and in one piece. One thing that happened is, well, I’m not going into too many details because I don’t know the final outcome just yet. Those paths have yet to be taken and tread, but know that I’m in a position where I’m seeing I can define myself in the ways that I want to, that are right for me, and my end goal for all of this is just to become a stronger, better person in the end.

I’ve also decided to go meatless for my diet. While I wish I could say in the end that it’s because I want to save our planet and the meat industry is this big, bad evil that needs to be taken down, the truth is actually a bit far from that. At a group meeting last week, I met a woman who spoke of having some interesting meditation experiences after she’d gone without eating meat for three days. The notion intrigued me enough to want to give it a try. The end result is that a lot of pain I’d been experiencing in my knees, pain so bad it hurt to bend them just to pick up coffee creamers from the floor and being unable to lift a five-gallon box of chocolate milk from my restaurant’s walk-in, is now almost gone. That was in 24 hours of the decision. I now have research to do because I do have a thyroid issue, and one of the main things to aid with it is eating red meat while avoiding soy, gluten, and peanuts. So totally going vegan wasn’t quite an option for me, and the only thing I’m truly giving up, gladly so, is meat. (I love cheese and yogurt.) After that, I’ll be working on reducing my sugar intake. The fact my decision, while based in self-love and a tad bit of selfishness, helps to aid in caring for our planet is simply a bonus. I’ll touch upon the pitfalls of trying to convince everyone to go meatless another time. Suffice to say, a lot needs to change first before “meatless” will actually be beneficial to our planet.

Now that the personal update is done, let’s get on with this trope I mentioned, the main reason why I wanted to write this entry in the first place. My friends, my fellow writers, my beloved readers, I am speaking of the trope of a non-human teaching we humans, we readers of stories and watchers of movies, how to be human.

It’s something I actually noted on Facebook a while back when I thought about the last Resident Evil movie and Data from Star Trek. Mostly spoiler-free here, anytime there is a non-human character or even a humanoid character, said character is written to be more humane, more compassionate, and more caring than the actual humans surrounding that character. It even gets noted from time to time that the clone, the non-human, or the android is more human than an actual human being. This is being brought back to the forefront of my mind after reconnecting with a fellow writer and checking out her YouTube Channel, Mighty Mayhem. (The segments are called Upon Further Inspection, where they watch movies about robots.) The episode I watched was about Wall-E, a movie I’ve yet to watch. (I haven’t, mainly due to a lack of interest. There’s a lot of movies I haven’t watched due to a personal lack of appeal on my part.) While she and her partner delved into a different aspect of the movie, once again, upon listening to her analysis, I realized yet again Wall-E is another example of a non-human showing more compassion and charity to humans and other non-humans than what the humans in the story are actually demonstrating. I know I’m going by what I’ve seen from her episode on that movie, but I find it to be an interesting social commentary all the same. It’s such a strong, running theme in science-fiction and fantasy alone. Why science-fiction and fantasy? What is it about this genre that allows us to explore these concepts that are seemingly lacking in all other genres and at such great depth? Yes, other genres do deal with the “Love Conquers All” ideal. Make no mistake on that, but, based on the number of romance authors I watch through my promotion groups, I see more stories geared towards dominance and revenge than I do compassion. Maybe it’s just because I’m not interested in revenge-style stories, where the person slighted does everything in his/her power to show the one who slighted them that they no longer have the power, but I can’t attest that compassion isn’t a key ingredient in these stories. I personally prefer a good, meaty adventure filled with sword fights or epic space battles or even both! In any event, I do hope authors in other genres chime in on how their genres actually delve into the human condition or even if they do. Science-fiction is considered speculative fiction, and maybe that’s been the whole point the entire time: What happens when we humans lose our human-ness and our compassion towards ourselves, towards the other life surrounding us, and need that reminder? We create something non-human to remind us that, yes, we can lose that, we’re in danger of losing that, but it doesn’t need to be that way.

It’s amazing to me, humbling as well, that kindness is actually the key ingredient to nearly every science-fiction and fantasy story out there.

Again, if you’re an author in a different genre, I would love to hear what you have to say about this!

Have an excellent Monday, my friends!

A Thousand Thoughts – Where to Begin?

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I suppose I shall start with the pen name.

If you haven’t followed me on Facebook, then you don’t know I’ve gone from Raven Ember to Victorea Ryan Meadow. I’m so loving this new name. It’s gorgeous, it embodies who I am and how much I’ve overcome in my life and how much more I will overcome in my life.

Tokyo in Tulsa is one weekend away, and I’m just so excited for this. Last year, I was woefully unprepared for this event. I still feel unprepared for this year, but that’s more to do with I don’t have everything I want completed as I would like. I have twenty copies of each book coming in to sell. Yep. Twenty copies. Sigyn’s Flowers and Portal to Gaming have additional copies coming in for the Cosplay Giveaway. That’s more copies than what I had last year. By far. I will even be able to accept credit card payments this year.

This is also turning somewhat into a family affair. My mother will be selling crocheted items. I am trying to get her to lean more towards fantasy-themed items. Maybe for next year!

Self-publishing has been an ongoing, learning process for me. I admit right now that I wasn’t ready to publish when I first published. I didn’t do enough research beyond some bare-bone basics. I’m going to impart some of what I have learned, and I encourage others who read this to also do their own research.

For starters, be sure of your name. I’d decided a long time ago, like when I was sixteen, I always wanted to use a pen name, and, when I set everything up, I’d forgotten the pen name I’d wanted to use. When that happened, to pay some homage to some very dear friends of mine, I created Elise K. Ra’sha. The Elise was for my friend, Lise Radke, and the Ra’sha for my friend, Raksha. I’d added the K for my best friend, Kami. As everyone may well remember (and I know you probably do), back in December, I felt the need for a change. I’d wanted to take some time with the new name transition but, once I wrote out Raven Ember, it felt good at the time, another homage to my Pagan side, and then I was running with it. Within a few months, I was no longer satisfied with that, and I began to toy with the name of Victorea (pronounced Vic-tor-eee-ah, ie Victoria) Meadow.

I’ve always loved the name Victoria. I’ve loved it since I was sixteen, and I hope one day to be able to change my real name into my pen name. Given my spiritual nature, I know I will have more than one name, but those will be private.

In any case, if you want a pen name and you plan on self-publishing like I have, be sure of it and yet, allow for changes. Allow yourself room to grow as an author and be wise for when your pen name no longer suits you.

Also, if you like your pen name but may want room to change it in the future as well as self-publish, a bit of practical advice: Use the free ISBN* provided by either CreateSpace or Lulu. Back in December, I expected a fight for the name change on CreateSpace, even though I’d contacted Bowker about it. (This time around, I found out I could make the changes myself on Bowker rather than trying to contact them and have them do the leg work.) I didn’t get the fight then. I got it now, and one thing that wasn’t working in my favor was I didn’t check my contributors on Bowker’s site. Those are now changed, but CreateSpace, to this point, has been insisting that I use a new ISBN for the same 6×9 format. (Understand, Bowker doesn’t require a new ISBN for pen name changes. Format and major manuscript changes, yes, but pen name? No. I’ve double-checked on that, too.)

Because I have paid for these ISBNs, I have ultimately refused to do as they have suggested. Call it stubbornness on my part (I will definitely agree), but that is ultimately my money at work here. Given I’m working two jobs and am seeking to add a third/let one of the previous ones go, this seeming lack of regard for my money on CreateSpace’s part (yes, they’ve not even acknowledged that I’ve been saying to them repeatedly that I’ve purchased my own ISBNs) is grating. In my eyes, I have worked hard for those ISBNs, to be able to purchase them, so to use another for something as simple as a name change in their metadata (that they can do – the review process must be completed for this – my books were found under Elise K. Ra’sha and now, if I put them back into print, Raven Ember) is a bit of a waste of money. I’ve also been told by Lulu that, because my ISBNs are already assigned to another format, I have to use a different one to publish through them. They, too, offer a free ISBN* to publish through them.

I say for people who are only halfway sold on a pen name to use those free ISBNs for one reason alone: money efficiency on the author’s part. A single ISBN through Bowker is $125, ten is around $275, and a block of one hundred is $575. Unless you have copious amounts of money to spare on ISBNs for such things as name changes, that’s a financial sting I would love to spare others from feeling when it comes to self-publishing.

* – Note here that the free ISBN through either Lulu or CreateSpace comes with the string that either company gets to list themselves as the publisher of your story. Given that they don’t have the standard procedure of a traditional publishing house when it comes to manuscript submission, I personally take issue with this. Publishing houses have people who read over manuscripts to accept or reject them. Publishing houses have editors to help the author make the story better. They have people who do the formatting and typesetting of the manuscript, and, finally, they pay artists to do the cover art. All of this is at no upfront cost to the author. Mind you that, ultimately, the author does pay for this – traditional publishing houses offer advances, which are loans to the author – but it isn’t directly upfront or out of pocket. The publishing house, as mentioned before, pays the author an advance. Once that advance is taken care of through book sales, then the author starts to receive royalties. They do all of this on top of simply providing an author with the ISBN.

Lulu and CreateSpace do neither of these. To get editing done, I must do this myself and rely on critique sites to weasel out the inconsistencies, spelling and grammatical errors, the missing words, and the like before I take my stories to their sites. They offer editing services, at least CreateSpace does, but it costs the author. They offer to have others do the artwork, but, again, it costs the author out of pocket and upfront if the author chooses to have them do this. Even if the author doesn’t choose to utilize those services, it still costs out of pocket to find and hire an editor and an artist. Yes, upon publishing with them, an author receives the royalties, but the costs don’t pan out right away. If I spend $500 for editing, $500 for art, but my royalties are only $200 a month, it takes a while for the royalties to actually be royalties.

And that’s just for one book. If you plan on writing only one book ever, this would definitely end up more beneficial to you in the long run. However, many authors have more than one book they want to publish. Self-published authors are basically using royalty money to either invest back into paying for the upfront costs of self-publishing or utilities, or, if they’re lucky enough, both. What helps some self-published authors is that they’re married and have a significant other who can help ease the bill paying! ^_^

It’s simply my personal opinion that a publisher gets to be a publisher because they’re taking the majority of the work off of the author’s shoulders. It isn’t always easy to find someone willing to edit your work nor is it cheap. It isn’t always easy to find someone willing to do the cover art for you. Some of it does come down to money. Some of it comes down to time. Some of it comes from not knowing where else to look. I’ve had people recommend Fiverr to me for finding art and editing services, and I would still do self-editing. (Editors are human, after all, and they can add errors to your work without even meaning to – it’s always best to work with the editor, communicate well, and develop a rapport to make sure the manuscript gets to where it needs to be; otherwise, you will still have a book riddled with errors that are not your own.) If I am to be the one to do all of this legwork just to get my book ready for publication, then I feel that sites like CreateSpace and Lulu do not have the right to list themselves as my publisher. If others have no issues with that, then far be it for me to tell them how they should feel. As self-published authors, we do need to do what is best for our careers and our bank accounts. That’s why I am saying that this is my personal opinion, which is based on what I know in bare bones terms what a publisher does for an author. I mean, if I want copies to sell at a convention, I still have to pay CreateSpace and Lulu to print those copies. I don’t know how obtaining works with a traditional publisher for an event goes. (It could very well be the same deal, and, if that’s the case, then I certainly will not begrudge Lulu and CreateSpace for charging me.)

If you have no inhibitions on using your real name for self-publishing, then I do recommend obtaining your own ISBNs. It is a recommendation only. Given my circumstances, I do understand if one is unable to do so. Again, we authors need to do what we feel is best for our careers and bank accounts. I suggest this because, well, if you have your own ISBNs, you can eventually sell directly from your own website. In fact, once I can get an actual website set up, that is one of the things I would love to do, sell directly to the reader so they’re not relying on a single website for all of their book purchases. (This is why it’s recommended to have an ISBN for ebooks. Eventually.) Purchasing your own ISBNs is actually, in my opinion, quite worth it. It allows the self-published author to actually list who the publisher is, which is said author. This is an investment in yourself. Take the credit for the amount of work and hours you’re putting into your manuscripts. You actually are your own publisher in this case. Be proud of yourself that you’re actually doing this. Just remember to sit down and write, too!

Finally, well, I’ve been having an interesting conversation with someone on Facebook over things like what feminism is doing to current literature. According to some, feminism is “destroying” literature because, hey, we’re kind of tired of the old trope of misogynist man gets the feminist woman every time because she’s the one to change for his love and he still gets to be a dickhead. Mens’ rights are somehow slowly being eroded away because of feminism, and this particular event from my personal life came to my mind. It’s kind of brief, but it’s still no less personal for it, either. I feel it’s quite relevant, too, because, hey, I want a strong man in my life, someone who isn’t afraid to laugh and to cry and to demonstrate that he truly loves me, trusts me to be there for me, and vice versa. Strength isn’t necessarily about how hard you can hit with your fists or about how much stuff you can get done on your own but how willing you are to stop, realize that you need help, then show that vulnerability to the world. It’s so hard to ask for help anymore, but we humans were never meant to carry the weight of the world upon our shoulders.

Anyway, this was a response to a woman who felt that “liberal” culture was destroying the manly manliest men out there. It’s been edited and expanded upon for this journal’s purposes. For my fellow writers, I do encourage you to read this. I encourage you to expand the way you think about your characters – all of your characters – and challenge yourself to do more than simply write the tropes that have existed since publishing became a big industry. Writing is an art form, and art challenges us to step outside of what we know to be true.

Once upon a time, I was the only girl on my father’s side of the family. I was surrounded by boys. The rough and tumble kind of boys, the kind of boys who felt it okay to treat a girl however they wanted because they were boys, and, back in the eighties, the expression boys will be boys had a much stronger sway than what it does now. It was a time when men were still looked down upon for shedding tears for stubbing their toes or for experiencing heartbreak. Ten years in, another female cousin was born. Fast forward to the day she got married, and I’m watching my grandfather at the wedding. He had tears in his eyes.
The mens’ right men would undoubtedly scoff at my grandfather for the tears in his eyes at a wedding. They would. Men don’t cry, right? Little would they know, that would be the only granddaughter of his five granddaughters that he would ever get to see be married. Little would I know my female cousin’s wedding would be the only one of our weddings he would ever attend. I have yet to find my soulmate/s in this life, and my other female cousins, well, I don’t associate with them any longer, but, last I knew, neither were involved with anyone so neither of them were married. My grandfather had every right to have those tears of joy in his eyes. Every right. By associating myself as a feminist, I do declare that men have the right to express more than just anger and lust. They have the right to be sad, to be vulnerable, and to be smart, to be intelligent and witty, to learn and to grow from their mistakes. The manly men who want nothing more than to be manly men and to take whatever they want are simply toxic. For all of us. The women who think it’s okay for “boys to be boys” are just as toxic as the manly men who use their fists to get their points across.
I despise such people because such people, the toxic manly men, have never allowed for MEN to feel more than just lust and anger. They want to keep everything bottled away, to believe that “no” means a woman is simply playing hard to get, that they don’t have to respect others by virtue of being born a boy. To them, tears in a man’s eyes are a weakness whereas to me they’re a sign of strength and trust placed in the world around him, where he’s saying, I’m hurting and I trust you to not hurt me further.
I pity the people who think that a man can only be defined the way they have been defined over hundreds and thousands of years. I truly do. And, as a writer, I find sticking to that trope to be so . . . limiting.

Have a great weekend, my friends! The double-shifts begin again tomorrow (part of the reason why I’m so silent anymore).

I leave you with the new covers for Portal to Gaming and The Sons of Thor. No text on them, as they were included separately. Thanks to Annabel Lee for such an amazing job!Cover1_separate imageCover2_separate image

There Was a Time . . .

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This is something I don’t speak often on, not even to my family or closest of friends.

There was a time, when I was in the homeless shelters in Washington and Pennsylvania, where I felt under constant emotional, spiritual, and mental attack, mainly by family. I had this mental imagery at times of me on the ground, a shield poised over my head and my torso while I curled underneath it for better protection against the onslaught of not living up to anyone else’s standards. It was almost relentless, in a sense, too.

Who, in their sane minds, ever becomes homeless? Willingly becomes homeless? In the eyes of some, that’s rather suspicious. In the eyes of others, it’s insanity.

My reasons were not so nefarious, not even a little, and, honestly, with where I was at the point in my life when I hauled myself from Michigan to Washington and finally to Pennsylvania, I had no respect for home. I had no respect for what home meant. When you live with other people your entire life, you take the concept of home for granted. It’s just something that’s there. Most of the time, it takes something drastic to happen – foreclosure and/or eviction; natural disaster; fire – in order for people to appreciate what they’ve had when it comes to home.

Now, not only did I lack that respect, but I was guided. It sounds crazy, and, personally, that’s okay with me. I haven’t always fit in with what’s considered normal in American society anyway, so this is just one more thing to add to that bucket of my oddities. People won’t always understand, either, when a person is guided to do something, so this was just one more thing for those who didn’t understand to use against me as a weapon during the time that I was homeless. (Homeless person speaking out on the biggest causes of the homeless problem in the U.S.? Oh my. In the minds of many, it’s your own fault for improper planning and you shouldn’t expect charity or sympathy for your own decisions . . . never mind what was said actually had nothing to do with the rants against me when I did speak out.)

There is always a time when I voice my opinion to someone, my stance on life, and someone, usually a man, will tell me that I will end up alone in life because I refuse to “see” what it is that’s being said. And, yes, nine times out of ten, a man is telling me that I will be lonely for sticking by my beliefs.

One thing I have found to be true is we can be surrounded by those who love us, those who agree with our opinions, and we’re still feeling alone in this world. I have friends and family who agree with me on many subjects, but that doesn’t stop the loneliness from coming in and trying to crush me. I find such remarks about me ending up alone later in life to be control, manipulation, and gaslighting attempts. Why? Like I said, I’ve been amongst people who agree with me, who believe the same way that I do, who even respect and value my thoughts and me as a human being, and I still feel alone at times. I offer hugs every so often to random strangers.

I struggle with overwhelming emotions and anxiety. I’ve built walls around myself from an early age so I wouldn’t have to feel the pain of others. I’ve known for many years now that what we want and what we need are two separate things, that they are not mutually exclusive.

Now, the days of feeling constantly under attack, like if I try to remove that feeble wooden shield and to stand that everything will resume all over again, are mostly over. But it’s still there with me. The feeling of attack hasn’t ended. I just have a stronger sense of myself than what I did four years ago.

Call Me a Bitch One More Time! XD LOL. Oh, and there’s more!

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Long time no see in all of this. Life has been rather busy and draining lately. I’m looking to make some changes to alleviate all of that.

You know what’s really hard to do in life? Insult someone who has already laid claim to the word you’re trying to use an insult. About two months ago (give or take a bit), through a former mutual friend, some guy took it upon himself to act childish and start lashing out at others in an attempt to defend the former mutual friend. This guy’s attempted to insult me by calling me an asshole, green-lipt geek. Yes, lipped is spelled wrong. That’s precisely how he spelled it.

Here’s the thing: Yes, there are times when I’m an asshole, and I know it. Asshole isn’t necessarily a common attempted insult for a woman, but it does happen. (From the throwback machine, one of my former co-workers when I worked in a factory told me her boyfriend called her an asshole once. Shocked her. In the end, she found it funny, and I did as well.)

Oh, and in my profile picture on Facebook, I’m wearing green lipstick. That was quite intentional. I actually experiment with effects when applying my makeup for work. I’ve been called a mermaid, an unicorn, and have had positive comments when I mix purples and blues together to get a peacock look. The green lipstick that day was for the mermaid effect.

Finally, I am a geek. If you’ve followed this journal, if you’ve known me for any given length of time, you k now I was raised as a geek (though I’m sure my parents weren’t actually intending for that to happen). Yes, I was a little stung by this. At first. But then came the amusement. That was supposed to be an insult? I’m proud of myself for being daring and expressive with how I apply my makeup. I’m proud of myself for being a geek. I know so many amazing people because I am a geek. The geek is part of who I am and who I shall always be. It says more about the people trying to use the geek and the daring aspect about my life against me than it does about me.

So that’s one person’s attempts at insulting me, trying to put me down. This morning, as I’m going through one of my daily morning rituals, I get a notification from fanfiction.net that I have a private message waiting for me. This person has taken it upon herself to say the following: You’re a bitch, you know that?

Now, like most people, this took me by surprise. This is an out of the blue message. There’s that initial moment of why would you say that to me and the desire to ask said question. I also couldn’t help but laugh and be amused by this because, yes, my friends, I have used the label of bitch as a badge of honor for well over twenty years. It’s been a shield for me, and it’s something I would get labeled as anyway because I am often outspoken, I am stubborn, and I refuse to bend to how others want me to be. I am me. I really don’t want to be an imitation of someone else because, at best, I’d be a poor and pale imitation of the other person. Bitch is something I’ve been called many times before throughout my life. I’ve even called myself a bitch.

After the initial “wtf?!” feeling left, I was more amused than anything else. I’m still amused by all of this. I honestly don’t know why this person did this. I can speculate. I could probably ask this persona as well. However, I’m not asking this person why she felt the need to send me a private message, out of the blue, to call me a bitch. I checked my private message history and found no interactions there. I checked my review history, and, like the private message history, I’ve found nothing there as well. I admit to curiosity here, but to try and get my attention by automatically calling me a bitch then giving me no reason as to why you’re calling me a bitch? It isn’t a cool way to go, I’m simply going to agree with you, say okay, and I’m going to move on with the rest of my day. The word bitch isn’t an insult for me. I don’t care if you call me that. I do try to avoid giving people reasons to call me a bitch – I am a professional author and therefore do what I can to behave professionally when in public. I have speculated a little bit on this, but, again, I’m moving on.

With that, yes, I’m moving on. It’s been three weeks since I was approved for Exhibitor space for Tokyo in Tulsa. It’s been two weeks since I’ve paid for my Exhibitor space for Tokyo in Tulsa. For my Facebook and Twitter friends, you already know this. I have 96% of what I need to have a spectacular display for this. My mother will be my table buddy this year, and she’ll be selling crocheted items like hats, tablet covers, bookmarks, and more. I’m very excited about this. I have an artist on board to do the cover art for the Arc of Fantasy paperbacks, and Arc of Fantasy is getting a relaunch. I’m going over the first two publications and updating the manuscripts.

Finally, I’ll be starting up some live feeds on Facebook. The first one will be a week from this upcoming Wednesday, at 9 pm central. I’m going to share a story with everyone, though which one will be a surprise. (I haven’t decided yet.)

Tune in next Wednesday to find out!

Ideas Can Be a Dime a Dozen

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Recently, I found out that a friend of mine, through another mutual friend of ours, has an agent to help her get published. Yay! Congrats to my friend (you know who you are) on having secured that. You can be quite the envy of all my writing friends seeking representation in this tough world we call publishing! (Seriously, I’m crazily proud of her for this. I personally am not seeking representation or a publishing house at this particular point in time, but that is subject to change, based on personal goals.)

When our mutual friend told me this and suggested that I speak with her about what she learned, I didn’t immediately leap to send that message. I do hem and haw a little bit, based on what others have told me about their personal experiences and what I’ve learned on my own as well. That and I figured our mutual friend could tell me as obviously this friend told her and why hold back on some of that information? The mutual friend did comply with what she knew, and, in between texts, I did comply with the suggestion. A phone call later in the evening, and I have today’s blog post

One thing my friend suggested is the whole round robin/gathering ideas aspect of storytelling. It’s something I have actually actively avoided for the longest time. It’s not so much of a “it’s my pie, and I don’t want people putting their grubby fingers into it” attitude as it is “I will run with this and you may not like where it takes me” attitude along with a “you like this idea so create it yourself” attitude. The last bit sounds harsh, but I’ve always approached this with a more encouraging aspect. If someone approaches me with an idea, I want to see them create what’s in their heads when it comes to fiction writing. i want them to unlimit and express themselves in their particular vision. That’s how I am, that’s how I’ve operated, and I will probably continue to do so.

There is also another reason why I do hesitate on taking ideas from others. Several years ago, I had someone from another country approach me with ideas for one of my Star Ocean fanfiction pieces. While I really didn’t want any ideas for this story (I had not posted anything of the sort anywhere in the author’s notes that I was actively seeking ideas), I decided to listen to be nice and to see if I couldn’t encourage this individual to start writing for himself. As a writer, that is one of my goals in this life. I want people who come across whatever I’ve written to start writing their own stories.

I believe I’ve written about it before in this blog, but I’ll go over this again. This encounter eventually turned ugly. The person became insistent that I use his ideas and that I execute his ideas in the way that he envisioned instead of allowing me free reign on what he was offering me. I’d even made it clear that, if I did use those ideas he presented, those ideas would go with my interpretation and not his, which really pissed him off. It got to the point where he was telling me that he’d done a working to bend me to his will and threatening to travel from England to where I lived in the U.S. in order to kill me all the while bragging he could get away with it because he was nobility.

Mind you, I didn’t take the death threat seriously. I laughed in his face about it because I knew where I lived and I knew that if he tried, he wouldn’t be able to get away with killing me like he claimed. I still reported him to the federal authorities because a death threat is still a death threat. (And, if he had tried to come to where I lived, he’d have found himself facing a number of guns in his face because, while the county sheriff’s office never patrolled the area, it was, in fact, countryside with a lot of farmers and a lot of people knowing they had to defend themselves and their homes from unusual activity because the county sheriff’s office never patrolled the area.)

After that, readers have still offered up ideas in reviews. A lot of times, I have hesitated. Sometimes, because, as I’ve said, I want to see them write their own stories. I’ve left a story open-ended just so people could write their own endings with their own ideas and inspiration. A couple of times, I’ve rejected ideas simply because they were too cliched, too overused, and heading in a direction that would have been detrimental to the story I was crafting at the time.

Now, this isn’t to say I have never taken up someone else’s ideas. I have. I adopted a Star Ocean idea from someone because I liked the premise. I’ve read Inuyasha stories where the ideas were poorly executed and thought to myself, I can do better than that. And in every case, there has been one thing consistent in all of it.

I’ve had free reign to listen to the ideas, and I’ve gone where the ideas have personally inspired me. That is extremely important when it comes to storytelling and an author asking for ideas from the readers.

I bring this up because of this conversation with my friend and because I really do want to build my platform. I do want to build a following, and I do love hearing from people on what it is I’ve created and how it excites them as much as it excites me. I’m not opposed to receiving ideas if I ask for them. Unsolicited is the trickier aspect for me. I’m currently working on my Arc of Fantasy series along with a few fanfiction projects, and I’m attempting to revive an old project from back in the day. And here’s why.

Ideas can be quite tricky when it comes to an author receiving, rejecting, and/or accepting and developing them. The IDEA itself must grab me. It must grab me by the shoulders, shake me around, and say,  “I want you to write me out”. There is nothing worse than taking an idea you’re not excited about, not happy about, and executing it to appease someone else. If that idea isn’t going to grab me, intrigue me, and tempt me into writing it, I sure as hell don’t expect it to captivate my audience nearly as much as it would have if I’d been excited about it in the first place.

I will speak only for myself on this. If/when I start to ask for ideas on something, if you suggest and I reject, please refrain from taking it personally. Chances are, the idea didn’t excite me as much as it excited you. And, if I encourage you to write it yourself, I do so because I believe you have the ability to make your idea come to life, maybe even better than what you believe I could do for you.

After all, you will never know if you refuse to try.

Now that I’ve said all of that, when will I be taking ideas? We shall see, my lovelies. We shall see!

Until the next time!

Doing the Whole Creator Thing And Courage

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First of all, I want to take this moment and send out a very huge and appreciative thank you to everyone who has picked up their copies of my books, be it ebook, paperback, ordered online or in person. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Every purchase means the world to me. Sigyn’s Flowers happens to be the most popular right now, and that’s awesome.

Second, I want to give a shout out to everyone who has taken the chance of putting themselves out there, either with success or not much luck at all. Being a creator is difficult work at best. Many people will draw, write, compose whatever comes from within them, and it can become quite nerve-wracking. Sharing what we’ve created with the world? Well, that can be quite downright terrifying.

I don’t care if you’re doing fanart, fanfiction, fan parody videos, or are creating original content. If you’re sharing with the world or even with one other person, you have some serious balls, my friend. If someone’s shared something with you and you’re just as excited as they are for what they’ve created, you, too, have some serious balls. And the world needs more people like that. Courage and kindness.

I recently watched a one-month old video from some Youtubers who go by the name Screen Team. I was introduced to their work almost five years ago from a former co-worker. She told me, and showed me, their parody video of Avengers Assemble, which I thought was hilarious. I looked up a few of their other parody videos as well, and I’ve been hooked since. Their video last month talked about how they’d taken the time to decide if they were going to continue creating content and, if they were, where they were going to post their content. They’d run into issues of death threats and stalking (Angie Griffin, specifically) and the issues they’d run into with Youtube not notifying subscribers of their new content.

Fortunately, they decided that they were stronger than the hate that’s out there. One thing I have always admired about them was their geek positivity for geek culture. And they do everything themselves. They’re not a huge production, and they’re doing what they’re doing because they love it. If I was in a relationship with someone, the way they interact with each other and share the same geeky interests would be among my #relationshipgoals as well as what Morticia and Gomez Addams have. Any time there’s someone out there who can inspire someone through the content they create, through encouragement alone, that’s something that needs to be commended. It takes courage to put ourselves out there, and, as I can personally attest to, creating content isn’t always easy. It’s a long and agonizing process that’s filled with highs and lows. Creating content takes a huge chunk of time out of anyone’s life. That takes a lot of dedication and discipline to do.

Now, I understand that there is the darker side to the whole Creator aspect. I’m aiming for the positive, the ones that connect people, leave them feeling lighter than they had before the content reached them and filled with light and love as well as a sense of community. Those who build people up with their content are the most amazing people out there. And we do need more people like that.

So be kind, my friends. Be loving, and be courageous. If you’re a fellow Creator, keep creating. It’s risky business, but someone’s gotta do it.