Sunday, April 19, 2015


I'm tired.

Lately, this has become my mantra and it shouldn't be. The persistence of ignorance, negativity and the general oppression of nearly everybody I know in some way or other is driving me away from social media and news platforms in general. This is discouraging and entirely unnecessary.

A few weeks ago I conducted a challenge on my Facebook page (#spreadthehope) challenging everybody to post ONLY positive things for twenty-four hours. It sparked a lively discussion much to my surprise. I explained my rationale for putting forth such a challenge but it was not as well received as I'd hoped but I will reiterate it here.

When a story is pushed out into the media about somebody or other doing something born of ignorance said story is proliferated by supporters and non-supporters alike. This leads to the ignorant statements being warped and spread to even more people, especially those who believe that all things published in/on news platforms must be truths. This means that opponents of the initial story are actually HELPING the cause they despise. This has been our way of life for far too long and though I am but one voice I hope to change that. Therefore I proposed that instead of reposting an article you fervently disagree with, find an article supporting the opposite side of the issue and post that instead. Here are two examples I used:

1. Some conservative religious groups are apparently disseminating hate-filled propaganda against Katy Perry indicating that her music is about witchcraft and performing black magic. I learned of this from an associate who chastised me for admitting I like a Katy Perry song (I actually like several) because her music is devil's speak. I asked where he got this from and of course he cited conservative religious articles. I explained that this is definitely not the case. He argued that Dark Horse could not be more about black magic. I laughed. A lot. I proceeded to pull up articles explaining the lyrics of Dark Horse but he refused to hear what they said because it was contrary to what he already had read. This led to an interesting (and at times heated) discussion.

2. There are several politicians and news anchors who seem to want women back in their 1950s era roles and make no bones about stating such ideas. Why continue to give them media coverage when you could post articles about politicians, anchors and celebrities who are working to even the gender roles? Emma Watson's #heforshe campaign jumps to the front of my mind whenever I see articles wanting to push women backward. Or what about Patricia Arquette's moving speech at the Oscars?

I am asking everybody to consider what they are posting before hitting that almighty "post" button. What is your purpose for posting this article, picture or rant? Do you wish to fight it? Do you support it? What would happen if we only posted things of a positive nature, things that were meant to uplift instead of tear down? As with my first example, this associate of mine is never going to agree with me on the meanings of Katy Perry's music nor will I ever agree with him but rather than posting one of the articles he cites and ranting about why it's wrong I will choose to post something that explains Ms. Perry's interpretation of her lyrics. This allows people to see both sides of the issue and make up their own minds. I feel that much more is accomplished by putting positive articles, pictures, memes and more into the world as opposed to giving more time to the negativity that is becoming so ingrained in our world.

Simply put, tearing other people down is not a viable option for pushing your perspective. For example, posting a political article denouncing Planned Parenthood with an added rant about how the writer of the article is an idiot is not as productive as posting an article about Planned Parenthood providing cervical cancer screens for women who cannot otherwise afford it.

Of course, I realize that this blog post has brought to light some of my personal opinions on some heated topics but I am not ashamed of how I feel about things like equality for women and Planned Parenthood. I admit that I have very liberal views. Maybe that makes me a hippie of sorts but I have this crazy notion that generally people should be given the freedoms to live life as they see fit. I respect various religious and political beliefs/systems and ask only the same respect in turn. While I see things that make very angry I no longer see the point in adding more fuel to the fire. From now on, I intend to #postpositive in hopes that others will do the same.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Allow me to introduce the lovely, talented Darla Lark

With a new release set for tomorrow, Ms. Lark took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about herself and her books. Be sure to check out her newest release here.

VP: What is your inspiration? What helps you get through writer’s block?
DL: My inspiration comes from some of the crime shows I watch. Since I’m a thriller writer, it helps me when I’m stuck on a scene. I get some ideas from those shows and learn a lot for future books. When I get writer’s block, I write in a journal to figure out why I have it. It helps more often than not and the best way to get to the bottom of the problem.

VP:  Do you listen to music when you write? Have a completely silent space?
DL: I listen to the music on my phone, which I use as an iPod. I’m only glad that I don’t have to fuss over multiple devices. There is this site for writers called SoundFuel. It has a lot of various kinds of music directed for whatever you write (sci-fi, horror, thriller/mystery, etc.) l use this quite a bit when I’m writing something dark. It’s awesome and I highly recommend it for other writers.

VP:  Who inspires you? What authors do you look up to? Why?
DL: My inspiration comes from my grandpa. When I was little, he and I would make up stories together which I regret not writing them down. This inspired my love of writing. I began to write poetry when I was in 6th grade. Then there’s my husband and mother-in-law who encourage me to keep writing in the times that I feel like giving up. They are amazing.

I look up to Nicholas Sparks because he had gone through a lot growing up and came out stronger. I’ve read Three Weeks With My Brother and felt more of a connection with his books and understand why he writes what he does.

VP: When did you first start writing? What genre do you prefer?
DL: I started writing poetry when I was 7 or 8. Again, this was because of my grandpa. He became my writing buddy, so to speak. Genre wise, I read anything I can get my hands on. When I was in college, I started a YA novel, but as time went on, I became a thriller writer. It was one of those things where I started writing on thing and it turned into another.

VP:  If you had to choose another genre to write, what would it be? Why?
DL: Let’s see. I think I would like to write a horror novel. I love being scared and the unexpected in these type of novels. I enjoy the darkness within these types of books.

VP: What is your favorite book (or who is your favorite author) and why?
DL: To be honest, I don’t have favorite author. I read so many different kinds of books. There is so much talent out there. Everything that I’ve read is amazing so far. I especially love to read self-published authors. They are amazing and I love to show support for them.

VP: Do you have a job and if so what is it?
DL: Yes. I work full-time in a warehouse building pumps and pump accessories. I love what I do. Though I wish I could write full-time. I’m sure that all self-published authors with full-time jobs wish this as well.

VP: Tell about your first book and how long it took you to write the first draft.
DL: My first book is A Life Worth Living. It’s my YA novel. It’s about a girl who’s in her first semester of college when she experiences a lot of hardships. I based it around my grandparents and their personalities. Though it’s not a true story, I wanted to portray the grandparents much like the ones I grew up with. It was a lot of fun to write. It took me 4 years to write it because I was caring for my grandma and great-grandma while working a full-time job.

VP: List all of your titles with a one sentence synopsis of each.
DL: A Life Worth Living: Star is a young woman who is in her first semester of college when she experiences the loss of friends, a sick grandfather, and a tumultuous relationship with her mother.

Lucy’s Suspicions: Lucy is a woman whose husband died in a tragic car accident, but she soon finds out it wasn’t simply a car accident and does a little digging to find the truth.

The Psychopath’s Prisoner: Cheyenne is a woman who went through a divorce from her cheating ex and then she has bad things start happening her: including her car getting set on fire and apartment broken into amongst other things.

VP: Who is your favorite character? Why?
DL: Cheyenne Harrington because she is resilient despite all that has happened to her. She does everything she can to protect her sister and friends for love.

VP: Which character is your least favorite character? Why?
DL: Cheyenne’s new neighbor, Daniel Schindler. He is a creepy jerk. I hate him for being who he is. That’s all I can say without giving away the story plot.

VP: Which character was most difficult to write?
DL: I would say Daniel because I absolutely hated him, but he had to be in it since he was an integral part of the story.

VP: What scenes are most difficult to write?
DL: The crime scenes. I say this because I try to come up with one that is original and nothing like other thrillers. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the crimes scenes. They are so much fun to write.

VP: Do you see yourself in any of your characters?
DL: I see a little of myself in all my characters, both good and evil. I think that all of us authors put a little of ourselves in each of their characters whether they realize it or not. It’s a great thing, though. You get to know things about yourself that you never knew before.

VP: Indie pub or trade pub?
DL: Right now Indie pub. I want to see what I can do on my own. Perhaps someday I can go traditional, but for the time being I’ll enjoy doing the indie thing. There’s so much we can do on our own and it’s rather enjoyable.

VP: What is your favorite scene? Why?
DL: My favorite scene is when Cheyenne fights back against her captor and escapes. Like I mentioned before, she is resilient and determined. My goal is to show how resilient we, as women, can be no matter what challenge is put in front of us in fiction form.

VP: Give a one sentence summary of your new release.
DL: The Psychopath’s Prisoner is a thriller that will keep you guessing until the end as to who did it and why.

VP: If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
DL: I would love to meet Elvis Presley in person. He had an amazing voice and I’m jealous that my grandpa got to meet him when they served in the army.

VP: If you could take the place of one of your characters, which on would you choose and why?
DL: I would either be Lucy from Lucy’s Suspicions or Cheyenne Harrington. They are strong women who don’t give up. They keep pushing onward and aren’t afraid to face the obstacles in front of them and are very intelligent.

VP: If you could vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do?
DL: I would love to go to Italy and try their food and wines. Especially their wine. Nothing better. Of course, I would love to go to Rome and see the Sistine Chapel and the colosseum.

VP: What is your favorite T.V. show/movie from your childhood? What is it now?
DL: When I was little, I loved to watch My Little Ponies and Care Bears. Now I love Sleepy Hollow, which I have to get caught up on this season as of yet.

Make sure you grab a copy of The Psychopath's Prisoner starting tomorrow (just click the title and you are there)!!

Contact info:

Monday, March 2, 2015

Five things you'd need to understand to get in my pants...

Apparently, men in general have not evolved much with regards to picking up women. I awkwardly encounter the same pathetic lines that were thrown my way in college and when I don't hop on pop I'm a prude or a tease or a bitch. When did sitting at a bar enjoying a beer come to equate to flirting?
Trust me, if I'm into you, you'll know and until then how about some regular conversation? How about offering to buy me a drink or, even better, a book. Is that so difficult?

Over the past few years I've seen and heard some of the worst pick up lines from blatant insults to utter ignorance and everything in between. To that end, I have made a list of the top five things that make me want to buy a chastity belt and settle into the crazy cat lady life (sans cats, cuz I'm allergic and stuff).

1. Be real. You don't have to be the smartest guy in the room but don't pretend to know things you don't. For example, just because you see me wearing Houston Texans gear does not mean I am from Texas, it does not mean I'm a "cute girly fan," and it certainly does not mean you should walk over and strike up conversation about how much you love football if you don't. Oy. I'm a football fan and I actually do know my stuff so don't embarrass yourself by pretending. Trust me, I will figure it out in about ten minutes and I will make you feel like an idiot just to get a bit of amusement from our conversation. Few things are less attractive than somebody pretending to know about things they just don't know about.

Books. I like, I LOVE books.....

2. I read. A lot. A bibliophile is a must, I've tried it with a non-bibliophile and it just doesn't work. Talk to me about the best book you've read, tell me about the worst and most of all, tell me why you feel that way. If we go out, skip the flowers and wine, bring me a book. Bonus points if you are lending me your copy to read for myself and I might crush on you a bit for having notes in the margins.

This is me in Breckenridge, CO enjoying one of my favorites, a Vanilla Porter

3. I like to eat but I love to drink. Coffee, tea, or beer are great places to start. Take me to your favorite coffeehouse, pub or, even better, brewery. Understand that when I say beer I mean microbrews - specifically stouts and porters with the occasional high quality IPA or Amber tossed in - not Coors or Bud because they just remind me of college, beer pong and keg stands. I'm too old for that crap. Also, I know my limits and by no means am I going to fall victim to you pressing shots or extra beers into my hand with designs on pushing me over my edge. I mean, nothing says I respect you like "I'm going to get you shit-faced tonight." Trust me, I will not hold back in puking on you and I guarantee you won't find me attractive at that point.

Have I mentioned beer? 

4. This may make me sound snobbish but I have to be honest, I've got some age restrictions. Many of my friends know that I attract much older men for some unknown reason (it's a longstanding joke and not terribly funny) and crazies (real nut jobs, as in Norman Bates insane). If you are older than my dad, I'm sorry, it's just not going to happen. I don't have daddy issues, I love my dad (*waves* Hi Dad!!!) and I am not looking to replace him - EVER.  I realize the question of mental sanity is much more difficult to sift through but in general, if you have a weird fetish, liken me to a goddess of some sort or think to squash me into your idea of what a woman/girlfriend/lover/wife should be then we probably aren't going to be compatible, friend.

Isn't my Dad great? I just love him...oh, and that's one of my kiddos too, ain't she cute?

5. I have guy friends. A few really close ones who mean the world to me and I'm not ditching them so don't ask. I've learned that true friends are REALLY hard to come by and if you can't deal with me spending time with other guys - in a completely platonic way - then we just won't work. If I'm out drinking with my guys you are welcome to join in and get to know me, I am sure they would appreciate it as much as me. Not that they are eager to see me moving on or anything....

Just because, a shot of one of my favorite places in the world - Seattle, WA

I guess what I'm saying is that I'd rather be alone and happy then trying to make something out of nothing with somebody who is looking for an idea of a woman instead of the real deal. It seems to be a symptom of a larger issue in our society, not to pop up on a soap box or anything, but I think it's become too easy to make relationships disposable rather than working at them. Maybe this is part of why, settling for the shiny new toy and hoping that you can break it in like a new pair of shoes. I'm pretty broken in by now so what you see is what you get, even if I am evolving a little more every day. Still, these five things are pretty much set in stone.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Say something brilliant...

I hear this phrase in my head more often than I should. 

Every time I sit down to write a blog post lately things get foggy. It happens from time to time and I know it is normal but it sucks nonetheless. So here I sit staring at the screen trying to put the thoughts together and expel them through my fingers. I've learned that my words, my ideas are tied to my emotions and when I have a lot on my plate the words don't come out. And I have had a lot on my plate. We all go through it sometimes, right? 

So here I sit thinking "say something brilliant" though I know I can't. Not until I find a way to reconnect my thoughts to my fingers without all of the extraneous buzzing in my head.

You know what's good about the buzzing though? Strange ideas. Kinda awesome ideas. I now have a list of ideas to explore that weren't there before. 

And it's almost Con season. Con season always makes me feel better. Maybe then I can say something brilliant, or at least sensical.  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

January 8th

Today used to mean something. It used to mean a lot of things. Now it is just another day. It was painful for a while but now I have to be reminded to give it two minutes of my time. And that reminder comes like clockwork. The same reminder I get on November 8th. It is strange that a day that used to represent so much has become just another day to me.

Nineteen years ago my life veered off course. I made a choice and I stood by it longer than I should have. But I stood by my choice and saw it to the end of the road. I can do many things but when the earth beneath me collapsed I did not have the ability to construct a bridge, the foundation just wasn't there. Earthquakes will do that, especially the emotional ones.

I've kept pretty silent about my divorce except for a few trusted people (you know who you are and I can't ever thank you enough). I joke that I lost custody of all of my friends in the divorce. I joke about a lot of things when it comes to the "d" word. It's what I do. The truth is, it would be harmful to my kids if they ever found out what really happened, if they ever heard my side of the story. So I didn't tell it. It was better for me to start over - as much as I could. With kids you don't have a lot of options that way, when the other person wants to be involved. We'll just drop that line of discussion because it will get me off topic.

The point of this post is to explain how things change and how you either embrace it and grow from it or become warped and stunted. I chose to embrace it and grow. Again, quite funny because I found myself growing back to that person I was more than nineteen years ago. I reunited with parts of myself that I'd suppressed or forgotten. I started to write again. A lot. I started to teach myself new things, to experiment with skills I found intriguing. Little by little I reassembled myself. Piece by piece I put myself back together, discarding things that no longer fit who I wanted to be. And you know what, I like myself again. I don't love myself, I have some work to do to get there but I found some pretty solid foundations and I'm pretty confident this road is the one I was meant to travel.

It's funny how memories come back, how things (like songs) that once meant one thing have come to mean something else entirely.

This is one of those songs.


Monday, December 8, 2014

December Housekeeping

First and foremost.....

YIPPPPPEEEE!!! I did it! No posts for November and I would hope that my followers know it is because of NaNo occupying so much of my spare time....and it was worthwhile because Immortal Machinations 2: Arc of Curiosity is well on its way. I am SO pleased with how it is shaping up and I cannot wait to share some of it!

In the meantime, I will say that Raegan is becoming one of my FAVORITE characters. She is ever so much fun and I am looking forward to do much more with her. There will be some serious cameos from the Emerald Seer Series though IM is YA friendly (for my daughter). I'm kicking up the Steam a great deal since they've entered the Steam era at last! SQUEEEEEE!!! I cannot wait to finish this one!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Writer's Responsibility..... Part 2

In my last post I urged everyone to set aside their personal views and call ceasefires on arguments on interpersonal issues in order to address the larger scale concerns facing our country. Further I suggested that people ask "why" and read between the lines rather than taking news stories at face value. To take it even further, I wish to address some issues I am seeing in the young adult and new adult genres. I fear that there is a culture of irresponsibility when it comes to YA/NA works - the content, particularly social situations, are not reflective of the current times.

Allow me to illustrate this point. I recently sat on a panel regarding young adult and new adult romance novels. A question was posed about representing same sex relationships in YA/NA literature and it was put forth that schools would not allow such books in their libraries. My response was surprisingly well received. I simply chimed in and firmly noted that by neglecting to address same sex relationships we do a disservice to our children. The room fell surprisingly silent and I was allowed to continue, something along these lines. It does not matter how we feel personally it matters how the children feel and the absence of literature representing a faction of our society tells the children it is wrong, shameful, etc. When a child, tween or teenager is having feelings they cannot possibly understand and then they read books that show life a certain way over and over and over again, it becomes apparent to them that what they are feeling is wrong and that they are somehow wrong. To make matters worse, other kids are reading the same things and also getting the message that anything outside "the norm" is wrong. So we wonder where bullying comes from? I won't address bullying at this time, you get the gist..

Now, to be fair, I also pointed out that I am sure that same sex relationships are already present in schools and referenced a particular series by Cassandra Clare that makes no bones about same sex relationships even if only at secondary and tertiary character levels. But my argument extends to far more than same sex relationships. What about divorce? Drugs? Teen pregnancy? Abuse? Children need to understand all aspects of our society in order to grow and appropriately respond to the world they live in. I posit that we see a lot of inappropriate responses to things because kids don't have any clue on how to cope and the adults in their lives just cannot seem to deal with them. I am seeing a trend for parents to seal their kids off and believe it will work. Do you think that staves off their curiosity? Of course not. Where would you have them go? In this digital age what do you see happening? How do you propose to shelter these children from everything? Burn the internet?

I am certain that some parents are quite indignant now but I will not apologize. I am only noting a trend I am seeing. You can overhear a lot of conversations at school functions and I have been part of many conversations that left me shocked and disappointed. It is devastating to hear these parents say "I don't allow my children to watch x, y and z" to keep them from finding out undesirable information. SUCKERS! Kids are innovative and kids talk and I guarantee that where there is a will there is a way. Isn't it better to have very informative, honest discussions with our children to present them with all of the facts (in an age appropriate manner, of course)??

I digress, I am not writing this post to lecture on how to raise a child. Not at all. I am simply using this as a way to illustrate my point, a way to address the larger issue. It isn't just children who suffer from a void of information or, even worse, an excessive amount of incorrect information. However, children learn their behaviors from somewhere and what I am seeing on the athletic fields, in the classrooms and sadly, out in public, concerns me. We are not teaching our kids, we are indoctrinating them with the same ignorance we seem to be embracing. Nothing good can come of this. Have you seen the movie Idiocracy?

I have been told not once, not twice, but thrice that my daughter should not be asking 'why' as much as she does. My response? Why?? Kids SHOULD be asking why. Kids should be free to ask as many questions as they want/need in order to understand what they don't. I am so proud that my daughter does not take things at their face value. My concern is that she is meeting so much resistance. And she is not the only child asking questions. Where will she find her answers?  Where will the other kids like her? Why would we want to stomp out that inquisitiveness?

Ignorance begets about we break the cycle??