Monday, March 31, 2014

Ain't got nothing to learn

I work at the local college as an English tutor. Before Spring Break, I was taking a box of paper to the recycle bin when I ran across a writing friend. He informed me that he was there to inquire about a creative writing class this fall. "Not that you need it," David added, "but I thought I'd pass it [the information] along."

Of course, I'm flattered when people think that I have nothing left to learn when it comes to the written word, but that isn't true and I hope that I never convey or imply that I have everything "figured out". I always try to keep an open mind. I've helped many students and writers grow over the years but that doesn't mean that my own growth has come to a halt. As an editor, one of the first things I tell my writers is that I am not the Editing Queen of the Universe. I may have suggestions, but the writer is in no way obligated to feel like my way is the ONLY way. Having that kind of openness is the best quality, I think, a writer or editor can have. I learn from my writers as much as they learn from me, if not more.

Provided I can manage the class on my otherwise hectic schedule, I want to take it and am very excited about it. (#NerdHappy!) One of the best things that a workshop or class on creative writing can do is kick up a little dust in your otherwise stagnant comfort zone. Also, an environment around like-minds can spark something inside of you that makes you fully appreciate the gift you have. Let's face it; when you get into a routine of writing the same things for long stretches of time without any real challenge to speak of, that writing spirit inside of you can get a little stale and sleepy. It helps to have a booster every once in a while.

There's nothing that says your writing style isn't fantastic, however, it is helpful to learn new ways to think about structure, format, and voice by not only studying what's already out there but by also challenging yourself to write in different ways. I can't think of a better way to challenge myself than sticking myself within a classroom of creative individuals, all itching to feel that spark.

Ask yourself if you have more to learn. Ask yourself if you have been challenged in your writing lately. Don't risk letting your writing get stale. Don't stunt your growth because your ego says that you are a heck of a humdinger of a writer. You may very well be such, but keep in mind that no one has it all figured out and there is always room to learn and grow.

Peace, love, and get out of your comfort zone,


Life and Life Odd now available!

Life and Life Odd are now available on the following sites and more! Search for these books on your favorite retail site!

Life - Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble
Life Odd - Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble

After a few years of publishing short stories and poetry, I decided to go ahead and put them into collections, divided by genre, mostly to attract the readers who still wish to have print copies of my work as most of my short stories and poems are only available online. However, I'm still making these collections available to my ebook readers; many of the stories and poems within have been previously published but I made sure to include at least one new, previously unpublished story and poem in each book.

You can click on the links to get separate descriptions of the stories within each collection. Life is a collection of my more literary works and Life Odd is a collection of my more... well, odd works with storylines that veer off the path of normalcy.

I hope you enjoy these collections and if you should want print copies, I'll update this post to include that link when they are ready. I'll also be selling the print versions locally in a few months as I do my first sell/sign event. Keep an eye on my Facebook pages (tab above) for updates when the event will be.

Thank you for your support. <3

Peace, love, and happy reading,


Sunday, March 30, 2014

No Regrets Editor's Pick

I recently edited a new book for Silly Tree Anthologies and was asked to pick a story for the "Editor's Pick" winner, which I understand comes with certain perks for the author. There were so many great stories in this book but I can only choose one so... below is my pick for No Regrets.

"Countdown" by Jeremy Milburn really spoke to me in more ways than one. Within the story, there is a particular rhythm, a literal countdown; a countdown of the main character's most important moments of his life, a countdown of tragedy, and a countdown of renewal and promise. I love the rhythmic element to the story but more than that, I love the emotion behind it. While you're reading it, you wonder if the main character has managed to crawl out of the deep, dark hole that is his life. You can't help but empathize, too. If you think about the worse things imaginable in this life, you have this main character and you want so much to see him succeed. Who hasn't had some sort of darkness in their life, whether through chance or through your own choices? If there is hope for this story's MC, there is hope for the rest of us, too.

Check out No Regrets on Amazon.

Scared Spitless Editor's Pick

A little bit of retro posting here: Last year, Silly Tree Anthologies put out its first collection, a book that I had the pleasure of editing. I had mentioned to the publisher that if there was an "Editor's Pick", I knew which story that would be. They recently took me up on it so here's my post about why I chose the story I did.

For Scared Spitless, the story I chose was "Give Me Your Hand" by Janis Lein. This is a story about a young girl who wants adventure and when she gets that chance, she realizes that her "want" is not all it's cracked up to be. Not only was this a well-structured story but it sparked a memory in me. When I was a kid, I remember reading at least three different "mirror world" stories and I think I also watched a few movies, too. I've always been fascinated by such tales and even today, I'm still drawn to those stories. (And yes, I liked the movie, Mirrors.) Are mirrors simply a reflection or a doorway to another realm? What secrets exist there? I chose this story for its originality in the midst of a sea of similar ideas and for the unlikely ending that makes me think about what more can happen.

Check out Scared Spitless on Amazon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

RIP, Tails. We love you.

Last August, we said goodbye to our little furbaby, Moxie. A couple of weeks later, we decided to adopt a kitty from the animal shelter. Little Tails practically tackled my youngest son the minute we walked into the cat room and made himself the center of attention in a room full of cuties.

We named him Tails because my boys love playing Sonic and the kitten looked like the character of Tails. He was immediately accepting of us and easily one of the most loving cats I've ever known.

He had his quirks, too, like knocking over the garbage cans to see what goodies he could find, trying to steal the food directly from our plates, and getting into almost everything! He had a "thing" for toy mice and straws. He would even sneak up on us and steal the straws right out of our drinks!

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed he wasn't eating like he should and he wasn't playing with us anymore. I noticed his coat looked kind of rugged but illness was the last thing on my mind, probably because I didn't even want to think about losing another furbaby.

I took him to the vet and after some blood work, the vet determined that he had FIP, a feline virus of which there is no cure. He declined rapidly and passed away peacefully in his sleep yesterday afternoon. Another furbaby gone. The kids and I devastated yet again.

I read everything I could about FIP to verify what the vet had said. Tails had probably had the virus when we got him and when he became symptomatic, there was no hope. It wouldn't have mattered if I'd gotten him to the vet earlier; there was nothing more we, or the vet's office, could have done. They made him comfortable and before we had a chance to come say our goodbyes, he was gone.

He was very special and we were lucky to have had him for the short time we did. It hurts and it will hurt for a while.

We won't be getting another cat for a while. We have to make sure the virus is out of our house before we make another decision like that. Besides that, we want time to grieve. I appreciate everyone who has already offered condolences and those who prayed for his health before he passed. He will be missed. :(

Peace, love, and we won't forget you, sweet kitty,


P.S. Below is a video I shared a few months ago on my Facebook. It shows one of the reasons why Tails was so special.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Circle

The Circle
I try to see me the way he sees me
Light on my cheek
Love in my heart

I try to believe what he believes about me
I’m good, selfless
A mixture of bright color but ready to fight

I strive to be what he wants
A provocative, sexy thing
Lips leaning in, whispering softness

Sometimes I despise him for thinking so much and so little
But mostly I just love him
And mostly, I just be me

Monday, March 3, 2014

Major in the Arts, work at Domino's

This commercial (above) does the opposite of what is intended for me. I don't see Domino's, or any other fast food joint, as a hidden alcove of creative talent. In fact, having worked fast food myself back in the day, the job itself is a plethora of corporate rules and often brutal superiors which stifles creativity itself. This commercial is supposed to send a message to the masses that the creatives who make this food are there because of their talented skill-set. The opposite is actually the truth. They are there because there is no other option. Creatives have to survive, too, and survival means money. So with little hope that they can persevere within their skill-set, they turn to the only jobs they can realistically perform; poverty-level, minimum wage work.

I can't speak to others' experiences. For myself, I didn't have the guidance or know-how to understand that I would have to explore career options other than writing in order to have a decent life. Years of frustration and struggle is what most creatives have to deal with. Instead of nurturing these talents early on, the children of creativity are often shoved to the sidelines in favor of capitalistic endeavors. I'm not griping (okay, maybe just a little); that's just the way the world works. Dismal, yes, but there's nothing we can really do about it.

It saddens me that the arts aren't taken more seriously by society in general. This commercial is depressing and sends the message that creatives are worth no more than to struggle in the fast food industry. Sure, you can work full-time or get into management to make a decent living but doing those things leaves little time and energy for your art because those jobs sometimes tend to suck the life right out of you. So while I understand what Domino's is trying to do, for that teen who knows their talent but not how to get there, this is a painful message to swallow.

There is nothing wrong with working these jobs; I dare say that everyone at some point in their lives should have to work a public service job in order to gain a better understanding of humanity. If you've ever had to deal with upset and angry customers who have no compassion when you are trying your best, then you know exactly where I'm coming from. And if you truly enjoy working these jobs and it makes your heart sing, then great! But that isn't why a lot of people work those jobs, especially creatives.

They have to. Think about this next time you expect a creative to give you a painting or drawing for free or cheap, to give you free copies of their books, or work their talent in a way that benefits you without giving them anything in return simply because you believe they enjoy giving their talent away for pure exposure.

One person that comes to mind when I think about this is Rashaad Santiago, a super-talented "Face Off" (SyFy) contestant who supported his family by working in a fast food restaurant. He worked at his talent, despite the odds of being sucked into corporate monotony, and I'm pleased that he has been given a chance to show off what he taught himself. What an opportunity! I hope he goes far in the competition.

Peace, love, and hope for creatives,