HallowRead 2017

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I’m very excited about tomorrow. I will be at HallowRead tomorrow in Ellicott City, which is very charming. I highly recommend day trips to Ellicott City in general.

I will be speaking on the “Coming of Age” panel at 1:15pm, if you are into that kind of thing. I will have tee shirts available for sale, and swag bags for reviewers.

Come by and say hi and, if ya like, buy a book!

Tickets are available for purchase here: http://hallowread.com/tickets/

Hope to see you there!

Guest Blog by Natasha Lane

When Natasha and I spoke about her doing a guest blog entry on my blog I was very excited to have her voice speak through this conduit. She’s always been energetic and thoughtful about her approach to writing in the year I have known her. She has a video series on Youtube as well as your usual social media outlets. I suggest you follow her because she is bursting with ideas, and enthusiasm, which can be quite contagious.

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Why the Literary World Needs Fantasy

By Natasha Lane

It’s no secret that when it comes to writing being considered literature, fantasy gets a swift kick in the head. Often so far stretched from reality, many snobs out there don’t consider any fantasy novel worthy of being called literature. “Lord of the Rings” is one of the most renowned book series in the world, some would even say it set the foundation for epic fantasy adventure, yet there are still those who would never equate it to works like “Pride & Prejudice” and Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”

Well, I’m here to tell you that’s a bunch of bologna. Like a ton of bologna with mustard. No, fantasy isn’t going to spout prose about the war of eighteen-whatever or directly discuss the human condition. It serves more of an elusive purpose than that and it’s complex in its own way which is why I’m here.

Here are a few reasons the literary world and readers need fantasy.

  • Fantasy Makes Challenges In Reality Seem Easier to Deal With

Reading, like writing, can be a form of therapy. When your world is “crumbling” around you or you feel like you’re being pulled in a million directions, it’s always nice to dive into a good fantasy read. The reason behind this is very simple. Other people’s problems distract us from our own.

Look at it this way. When a main character is being threatened by an army of vampires and her family is being held hostage by goblins, your issues seem a little easier to deal with. A great example is the “Hunger Games.” Not only does Katniss have to fill the place of her deceased father but she has to help her mentally ill mother, volunteer in the games to save her sister, watch her friends die around her, and take down a corrupt and cruel government while leading a rebellion. You know, the usual.

  • Distances Real World Problems

Didn’t I tell you that fantasy is complex? That’s why while the genre is great for helping us minimize our problems and confront them; it can also do the reverse. When the real world conflicts seem to be too much, we can always hide in the pages of a fantasy novel until they become less of a reality.

A great example is the political tension in our country. Whether you’re liberal or conservative, democrat or republican, we’re all constantly being bombarded with news, usually not very happy news (riots, fighting, racism, sexism, etc). We hear it directly from news channels, on our social media, from friends, from family members, and any potential source really. This constant negativity, this constant drowning is a lot to bear. With that said, why should anyone judge us for picking up the Harry Potter novels for a re-read if reading them helps us distance ourselves from the war, anger, hate, and worst in this world?

  • Constant Role Models

Another reason the literary world and readers need fantasy is because it provides role models for us to look up to. Not everyone is born with parental figures in their life and usually, these people (myself included) turn to others to guide them. It’s not uncommon for a kid with no mom or dad to look to their uncles, aunts, or maybe even teachers to fill that gap.

However, like any human, these people are flawed. One moment, they’re someone to be admired and the next we may not be sure why we ever looked up to them in the first place.

Humans are complicated, so, we’re always changing. This change can come in many forms including flip-flopping on political or social issues. Characters can be complex and toe the line of good vs evil, as well, but compared to people characters are more consistent. Less flip-flopping.

A great example is Noon from the “Noon Onyx” series by Jill Archer. Throughout the series, Noon goes through many changes and often she has to pick between the lesser of two evils. Still, she never does a complete 180 on her readers. Can she sometimes be unpredictable? I’d say yes.

Does she straight up lie to our faces? I’d say no.

  • People Learn Differently

Fantasy, like any genre, has a moral or lesson that can be learned from reading it. The difference between fantasy and other genres, especially the non-fiction, is that the lesson to be learned isn’t obvious. Sometimes it’s open to interpretation but this is what makes fantasy so awesome.

Each person learns differently whether the subject is academic or more like a fact-of-life lesson. For some people, being told directly playing with fire will burn you isn’t enough. They need the lesson to be disguised as an arrogant hero who goes to confront an infamous dragon.

Then, they get the point.

Learning is not always as simple as reciting history and or watching it unfold in front of you in order to form an opinion. Some people need to see it from a more metaphorical view in order to understand it. A perfect example is “Game of Thrones” which is heavily based on the English 15th century War of the Roses. Dressed up medieval history lesson anyone?

  • Ultimate Escapism

Okay, so, this one isn’t very original but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. We touched on this before but no literary genre offers escapism like fantasy (except maybe scifi). Fantasy is often so far from reality there’s no better way to leave the real world behind. And, at least when we fantasy readers decide to take a break from this often crappy world, we do it with a sword in one hand, a magic wand in the other, and tons of imagination.

If you’re looking for some other reason why fantasy is so awesome, check out this article on “The Guardian” titled “The Real Purpose of Fantasy.”

Bio:

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Natasha’s a friend of most things caffeinated, a lover of books (particularly fantasy if you hadn’t guessed), and a writer to her core. Her first fantasy novel “The Pariah Child & the Ever-Giving Stone” is set to come out this spring. You can keep up with her on the social media links below.

Website: www.natashalanewrites.com

Facebook: Natasha Lane Writes

Twitter: @natasha_lane1

Instagram: Natasha Lane Writes

Google +: Natasha Lane

Tumblr: Natasha Lane Writes

 

Summer Days When You Loved Me

While waiting at the fast food restaurant drive through there was a young couple in the car behind me and this came to mind:

There were summer days, the car windows down and the smell of that old ’71 Bonneville–aging flecks of fabric and a thousand layers of Armor All, dancing around in the wind. A bored Saturday at a fast food restaurant and then the mall to look at and touch things we wouldn’t be able to afford for another ten years. Back in the car a hair band ballad swayed us and we would both smile. You said you loved me then. You took it back later. Much later. But sun-drenched summer days don’t lie and no matter what followed, in those moments you were a liar or you loved me.

Author’s Corner – October Event

WHERE: Glenn Dale, MD – Marietta House
WHEN: October 7 @ 2:30pm
WHAT: Historic House Tour, Reading, Signing, Costume Contest (with prize!), Refreshments

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October 7th – come join us for a supernatural afternoon of readings, refreshments, and tour the historic home. Are there ghosts? You tell us!

Marietta House Museum’s “Author’s & Playwright’s Corner” presents supernatural fiction with authors H.L. Brooks, and Dea Schofield.  This event is a great opportunity to support independent women authors.

Brooks and Schofield will read from their new books, amid the haunting atmosphere of the historic home.

Tour the home from 2:30- 3:30 pm. with the readings beginning at 3:30 pm.  Following the readings there will be a meet & greet, refreshments, costume contest and book signing.  Copies of their books will be available for *purchase.

Participate in the costume contest–best werewolf or vampire costume, or dress as one of the characters from the Red August or Vitaortus series.  There will be a prize!

Heather Brooks (H. L. Brooks), is the author of the Red August Series and will read from, Red Archer: Book Two of the Red August Series.

Following a season of late weddings and new romance, August Archer is ready to embrace the next part of her life–ready to reclaim her lost heritage, and to join herself with the man she loves.
H. L. Brooks is a writer of fiction and lover of fairy tales.  She enjoys exploring classic fairy tales and re-telling them in modern settings, with drama and adventure.  She also writes on such topics as art, music, and feminism.  She resides in the Metro Washington, D.C. area.

Dea Schofield is the author of the supernatural fusion-fiction series, “Vitaortus” and will read from Vitaortus: Book One.  The Vitaortus Series is an ongoing verdant, vampy tale for our times. A ‘young’ woman with her own mysteries finds she has what it takes, with the help of a special vine, to conserve hidden, sanguinivorous species.  They must ally to fight much darker, threatening forces—undead, religio-political, magic.

Currently a resident of the Metro Washington, D.C. area, she has lived in several countries and traveled extensively. Like her written work, she considers her life an unconventional fusion of experience, knowledge, and tastes. She enjoys combining disparate ideas and genres to create fun, rich, thought-provoking stories.

This event is FREE, however, it is requested that you RSVP to Stacey at 301-464-5291, and same number if you would like more information. This event is not recommended for children.

Marietta is the 1813 home of Judge Gabriel Duvall, a Supreme Court Justice and Comptroller of the Treasury, and is located at 5626 Bell Station Road, Glenn Dale, MD  20769. Marietta is a property of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
*Both authors accept cash, check, and credit.

#werewolves #vampires #indieauthors #womenauthors #maryland #glenndale #dcarea #reading #signing #supernatural #paranormal #fiction #romance #adventure #horticulture #scottish #archery #folklore #lore #fairytales #folktales #retelling #redridinghood #werewolf #DC #princegeorgescounty #historichome #hometour #spooky #ghosts #goth #grunge #october #octoberevents #authors #booklovers #bibliophiles #bookish #booknerds #costumecontest

Sweet Desire

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ELO starts singing “Living Thing” and they get to the part about, “… yoooOOO-OO-OOu, and your sweet desiii-III-iiire …” and it made me think of him. I sent a quick love note:

“yooOOOooOOu and your sweet desiiiiIIIIiiire” always makes me think of you thinking of me

you make me feel like my desire is something beautiful

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I can’t count how many times I have been shamed for my desire. Worse crime–I have a body that society doesn’t deem worthy of desire (from either side of the equation).

I was what my parents called a “willful child” and I tend to eventually question the stones I carry, and sometimes throw them right back. Other times I just carry that shit around without even understanding why. Why does it matter if somebody else thinks my desire is too much of a tsunami of want and emotion? I think it all boils down to that thing I always say: we all want to feel like we matter. Or at least not want to feel like what we’re doing is bad or wrong somehow.

It feels really good to hear a fun little pop song and find meaning in it. Though we shouldn’t let others determine our worth, it sure is validating to remember my desire is worth something to somebody. To know that somebody thinks it’s beautiful and I am worthy of it.

 

 

A River Runs Through Her

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I once wrote a poem about myself as a river. It was convincing, I think. And I felt it. Powerfully.

But.

Maybe it’s smaller, like a brook. A small meandering gentle flowing place to dip my toes and wash my blues away.

Smooth river stones. Winking diamond reflections as the water moseys by.

I feel small. I feel herded, funneled, mined by corporations who only know me by what I buy, watch, listen to.

I just want to float. I want to feel free enough to catch the rays as I float on by all of the glut and greed. I only need enough. Enough love. Enough money. Enough creativity. Just … enough to sustain my spirit and body. Enough to help the people who need it.

I need rest. I haven’t had rest in months. I haven’t had a vacation of any kind in years. I need rest before my spirit gives up. Before my body gives out.

I also need to find out where I dropped my faith and hope. They are stones in the brook, somewhere. I’ll keep looking, before it’s too late.

 

 

She Wanders a Little

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I told my therapist about my inward energy. “I’m in a downward cycle,” I said. “That’s what I call it.” She already knew. I’m normally big and outwards. I was more pensive, and my responses measured.

“Not like when I was younger. Not downward like that.” Or something like that. And what I mean is, I don’t rock in a dark bathroom hurting myself anymore, like I did when I was in my twenties and didn’t understand what all of these …. feelings? … were.

I dragged my partner along because I felt overwhelmed by how much had happened since I’d last seen her. It had maybe been two months. I didn’t want to waste my 50 minutes rattling on, thoughts flitting like butterflies, and zagging like drunken fruit flies. I wanted purpose.

I updated in sputters, looking to him to organize the thoughts in straight lines. We told her I’ve been grumpy. Mostly at Will, who called me out on it.

We told her about my latest adventure.

“She wanders a little bit. Never too far, though. But yeah, she does.”

“What do you think of that,” the therapist asks.

“I don’t worry,” he says.

Then we went and saw the fireflies in the treetops afterwards. It was hard to tell where the bioluminescence ended and the stars began. We stood there, craning our necks, arms looped around each other. Then kisses. Deep, loving, with that edge of desire creeping in.

We went to the car the other day. It was sunny and the clouds were the big puffy variety, but moving faster than that sort usually does. “It’s so beautiful out. Wow, just so beautiful.” And it was – balmy and bright. The kind of day you might draw with crayons. I said that it was the sort of day you lay on the grass together and look up and shout out cloud creatures. He agreed. He opened the car door for me and before I got in I said, “We’re going to die some day. And everybody we know, too.” And he just said, “Yup,” or something like that, and maybe kissed my forehead and I got in.

These sorts of things creep into my stories. The highs and lows of being inside of myself. The fears of an anxious brain and the darkness of a depressed one. Instead of letting it hurt me the way it used to, I use it. I use it to write. I use it to make art. Anybody who has ever been through these things, these painful beauties of feeling so much, and these lows that make your bed hold you in its maw, prisoner–they will recognize it. Anybody in a long-term relationship, they’ll recognize some of it.

I had some petty shit happen to me yesterday. And actually, some other petty shit happen to me last week. And I look at these petty things and think of all of the petty things I could have done, but never did, and wonder why some people can’t resist the urge. So, instead of trying to understand them, I just flip that shit. For every petty thing somebody does to me, I turn around and do something nice for somebody–usually something subtle, or even anonymous–so the yin and the yang are all in balance.

Right now I am drinking some sake warmed by my husband on the stove, in a cup my friend Gina made. I’m thinking of what graphic I am going to put with this blog entry. A photo of the cup? A doodle? I guess I’ll find out just before you do.

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How about that. The sake and a doodle. ❤

 

 

 

Love is Complicated

I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to Beyonce and Jay-Z for opening up their personal marital struggles to the world. So often we look at celebrities and we only see the money and the beauty without the struggles the rest of us seem to face. They are breaking down those barriers by talking about stuff that is, well frankly, freaking embarrassing as hell. Being cheated on. Breaking vows. Giving in to baser desires and hurting your loved ones. This is deep stuff we are all looking at here with the release of Jay-Z’s 4:44.

If this successful couple can come out and be vulnerable when they have so many reasons they don’t have to, you have to respect that, and try to learn from it.

I’m not big into celebrity talk and all of that. I don’t think I’ve posted more than a few celebrity centered blogs in the 15 years I’ve been blogging. But this particular situation brings up something that I am always blogging about and forever fascinated with: the psychology of love, desire, and promises.

From my perspective – based on my own life experiences, and writing about love for a while, I feel like a few things are happening here when it comes to the psychology of love:

1 – When Beyonce used her art to talk about Jay-Z cheating she took back some of her power she probably felt she lost when she found out he cheated. And it was something to behold.

2 – Women are going to lash out at Jay-Z, not only because he hurt their beloved Beyonce, but it’s also scary, personally. It’s unnerving because here we are, just your average citizens, and there is this paragon of Goddessy art and beauty – and she got cheated on.  It makes it feel like it’s not possible to avoid being cheated on if there are any cracks at all in the trust of a relationship.

3 – Women who cheated with Jay-Z are possibly the sort who get a power surge from it. Imagine if the man who belongs to, sleeps with, and has children with, a woman who is considered one of the most beautiful, talented, and powerful women in popular culture–chooses to risk his vows and his family because he’s so attracted to you–that’s heady stuff! Aside from Jay-Z being a powerful and rich man himself, but to feel like you out-did Beyonce in some way–that could be part of rush of doing that.

4 – In offering up his confessions and apologies in such a public way, it’s giving a little power back to Beyonce in the form of support and validation. But it’s also setting an example for men who might be in a place where they are trying to decide what’s right and wrong in relationships where things are promised. If this is the nudge they need to stay on the side of the line that honors their relationship and their partner, then I think Jay-Z has done a great service to many couples out there by laying his sins bare.

And as is stated in “Red Archer” – promises don’t really mean anything when they’re easy to keep. Promises only mean something when they are hard to keep.