Calling all writers and artists to support BLM

Today’s cover art is from Pexels.

I’m looking for authors, musicians and visual artists to help me out with something. 

The Black Lives Matter movement is doing the good work we need to see in the world right now. They’re organizing peaceful protests and standing up for all of us. No one should be afraid of the police. We need serious reform in our country, and we need it now.

To do this, Black Lives Matter needs our support. That’s why I’m asking for your help today.

I’d like to gather together a collection of artists for a fundraiser. The plan is simple.

Step one, create a work of art to share with the public during our drive. 

Step two. If you can, offer a giveaway during the drive. Encourage your fans to donate to BLM for a chance to win. Please let me know in the comments or email me at if you want to participate or if you just have any questions. 

These protestors and coordinators are fighting for us. Let’s have their backs. I know the artist community will step up. 

Stay safe, guys. 

Don’t forget when this is over

Normal is a foreign concept to me now. It’s been that way for a few years. Every so often something happens that is so jarring, so completely life-altering that the world can only be seen as different forever afterward.

Several moments in my personal life have been this way. Some for the better, some for the worse. But always there is this feeling. A knife slicing partially through my life. That was then, this is now. 

America has seen many of these moments. Columbine, September 11th. These days marked my childhood and that of my whole generation. We learned to be afraid on those days. We learned that we are not, and have never been, safe.

The last year has seen more of those moments than we’ve ever experienced at once before. I don’t need to tell you about them, we’ve all living through it together. 

Some people talk fondly of getting ‘back to normal’. Back to how life was before Covid-19. Before the brutal murder of George Floyd. Before the presidency of Donald Cheeto-for-brains Trump.

Maybe it’s because those people have never experienced a life-changing moment before. Or maybe they don’t get that it can happen to a community, country, or world just as easily as it can happen to one family.

There is no going back to normal. The world has changed too much. People have lost their jobs, their homes, their loved ones and their lives. And for way too many people, normal wasn’t working. Normal was killing them in the streets right in front of all of us. 

So I hope we don’t ever get back to normal. Let’s make a new normal instead. Let’s educate ourselves. Let’s make new ways of doing things that might never have been done before. Let’s work as a community to decide what we want the new normal to be. And let’s build that instead. 

Don’t lose this moment. Don’t let it get away without making real change. And don’t forget about all of this when it’s done, because it will be done someday. 

The pandemic will end.

We shouldn’t stop fighting for universal health care that doesn’t depend on your job. We shouldn’t stop fighting for health care as a human right. And we shouldn’t stop washing our damned hands. 

The rallies will end.

We shouldn’t stop insisting on equal rights. We shouldn’t stop holding killer cops accountable. We shouldn’t stop pushing for police reform until everyone is actually protected and served by the police.

Trump’s presidency will end.

We shouldn’t stop paying attention to what our leaders are doing. We shouldn’t stop contacting our representatives, going to rallies, showing up for marches. We shouldn’t stop caring. 

If we go back to normal after all this, it means we’ve failed.

Bad writing in good books

Today’s image is from Eli Digital Creative

Let’s talk a little bit about good books. Books that you just sit down and devour. Books you can’t stop loving, can’t stop reading and can’t wait for the sequel to come out. 

There are lots of these books, thank goodness. My world would be a much different and much darker place without them. I don’t want to say my entire life revolves around stories. But I’m a writer who’s hobbies include reading, watching good tv and listening to fictional podcasts. So, most of my day is taken up with stories.

Some works of fiction are just perfect. Perfect writing, perfect story, perfect characters. They’re funny, deep, and stick with you for years. Things like The Giver, or Hunger Games. These were triumphs of good writing and good story.

Getting all of those parts down, though, is tricky. Most stories miss the point on at least one or two of those categories. 

Some of those faults can be forgiven. I think of it in terms of stability. A table standing on four legs is perfectly stable. Let’s say those legs are dialog, story, writing and character. If a piece of furniture is standing on only three legs, let’s say story dialog and writing, it’ll probably still do fine. 

With one exception. I can love a book with bad characters. I can love a book with bad writing. I can even love a book with bad dialog, though it might be the sort of love I don’t talk about much. Sort of like my love of processed sugar. 

But I cannot, until my dying day, love a book that doesn’t have a good story. 

That’s what it all comes down to. If the story is no good, all the flowery writing and great dialog in the world won’t save it. 

So if story is on top of the list of importance, what’s on the bottom? Well, this might be surprising, given my profession. But it’s the writing. 

I will overlook bad writing in a heartbeat. Though I do work to elevate my writing, I don’t care so much if other authors didn’t.

Let me give you some examples. There is a trilogy of books called The Looking Glass Wars. I devoured all three of them, and I wish there were more. I loved the story, loved the characters. They turned the Mad Hatter into this ultra-cool assassin and I was here for every single page of it. Alice as a general, with Dopple and Ganger? Yes, all day.

The writing in the books was, sad to say, awful. The dialog was unrealistic and childish. I could have used up a few red pens making edits and corrections in just one of the three books. 

But they were good stories. And that’s what saved them. 

As another example, let’s look a little bit at The Exorcist. It’s a great story, but the writing is so bad! I’m reading it now, and I swear William Peter Blatty has never met a child and never heard another soul have a conversation in his life. 

That being said, this is one of the most beloved horror novels of all time. 

I’m not saying that we should strive to write badly. I’m just saying maybe the focus should be on the story first and the writing in the third draft. 

Why Shitt’s Creek works

Normally I stick to speculative fiction on this site. But frankly, I think everyone needs a feel-good show right now. And since I just watched all of Shitts Creek in the span of like, a week, I wanted to bring it to your attention.

I didn’t watch this show as it was coming out. I was barely aware it existed. But, being at home more than ever we were running out of shows to watch. So we thought we’d just check out the first episode, see what it’s about.

And we were hooked from there.

So let’s break it down. Let’s talk about why this show was so good. And why I hope to see a lot more like it.

Let’s start, as always, with the characters. Every character on the show is lovable. But Davidalso sort of awful. Let’s take David, my favorite character, as an example. He’s self-centered, obsessed with material goods and has the weirdest fashion sense I have ever seen. When in a relationship he’s weirdly distant and clingy at the same time.

He’s also a really good big brother. While Alexis has been running all around the world and getting herself into all sorts of trouble, he’s been at the ready to help her. He’s still there for her, even if he’s there in the most acidic way possible. 

David also has a head for business. He’s smart, good with numbers, and understands what people want. 

If a character is too good, we can’t stand them. It’s unrealistic. And it sort of makes us hate ourselves a little by comparison. But if a character is too bad, we don’t like them. I don’t like watching someone be cruel to others and mess their life up time and time again. A blend of good and bad is entertaining, comforting and realistic. If we can see that other people are flawed but still good, then we can allow ourselves to be as well.

Most of the shows I watch are kind of horrible. Rick and Morty, Dead Like Me, Angel, The StevieOrville. Bad things happen, characters have real falls from grace. People get addicted, divorced, maimed, fired, lose their kids, go to jail, get beaten half to death, or the whole way.

Nothing really bad ever happens on Schitt’s Creek. Yes, there is tension. Yes, there are problems. But nothing that is emotionally scarring. And right now, when there are so many awful things going on, that’s a comfort.

However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t growth and change. It’s hard to see if you just go episode by episode. But, in the same way we change without really noticing, the characters do too. The care they feel for each other and the town deepens. Their concern for other people widens. They open themselves up to loving others. They learn the value of earning what they have, which they’ve never had to do before. By the end, they’re still themselves. But they’re better, deeper people too.

So what do you think? Have you watched Schitt’s Creek? What other feel-good shows would you recommend? Let us know in the comments below!

Four reasons you don’t have to be on all of social media

Today’s wonderful cover art is by Gerd Altmann.

I hope you’re seeing this post right now. I mean, I always hope you see my posts. I’m a vain introvert. So I want you to see my work, but not talk to me about it IRL.

But if you often find my posts on Facebook or Instagram, I’m afraid I might have some bad news for you. You won’t find me there anymore. Over the weekend I deleted my Facebook and Instagram accounts and will no longer be on either of those platforms. 

Sorry, not sorry. 

There is only so much ignoring of hate and encouraging of life endangering lies I can take. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. 

I told you all that to tell you this. Creators, influencers, business owners, lend me your eyes. You don’t have to be on every social media platform. 

I mean it, you really don’t. You don’t have to be on any social media if you don’t want to be. Being on too many might hurt your brand. Here are four reasons why you might want to remove some platforms from your social media plan.

Different tools for different jobs

For those who aren’t super familiar with the different platforms, they all engage with people in different ways. Twitter is for sending short messages of under 240 characters. Pinterest is for sharing images and posts about how to do stuff. 

Think about what you’re trying to do on a platform. Do you want to grow a following? Interact with people? Share information? Share videos or pictures? 

Personally, I want to share information, have conversations with people and let people know information about my books. So I use Twitter. I also write a lot of posts about how to do stuff. So I use Pinterest. Use the platform that’s made to do what you need social media to do for you.

Your audience doesn’t go there

This one relies on you knowing who your audience is. And you really should know who your audience is. Where do they hang out online? What hashtags are they using? More importantly, where are they not? Because if the people you want to reach aren’t where you’re posting, they’re never going to see it.

Your mental health does matter

The world is a lot right now. Honestly, it sort of feels like every damn time I turn around there’s some other worse thing happening to us. 

Step one of fixing things is realizing there’s a problem. So we can’t turn off the news. But we can take a break. We can control how we consume information. For some people, Twitter is going to be too much. I get that. So if it’s stressing you out to use social media, take a break from it. Focus on places that are more ideas and less news, like Pinterest. I love Pinterest. It’s like hanging out with a big group of people who just want to make cool shit. 

I am all about Twitter, but I’m not glued to it. While I like to stay in the loop, I have specific times when I turn it off. When I’m at my day job, when I’m writing. When I’m cooking or eating a meal with my family. When I’m going to bed for sure. 

What I’m saying is, mute your notifications. And if you’re never feeling good when you go on a platform, stop going. Your mental health is more important than anything but your physical health and safety. 

More time for the platforms you actually like

Your time is finite. My time is finite. I don’t have time in my day to fuss with things I don’t want to do. Sorry. I’m turning thirty-four in a few days and I’m just over it. I don’t need to be on Ticktock, don’t want to follow people on Snapchat. I like Twitter. I like Pinterest. I like the social media platforms I only use privately. And I don’t have a huge amount of time to be spending on social media to start with. Do you? 

So if I only have ten minutes to check my email and scroll through something, I’m sure as hell not going to spend that time somewhere I’m not happy and cut my time on places I want to be.

Social media is all about connecting with people. I love that I can chat with people all over the world. I love that I can find other people interested in the same things I love. Most of all, I love that my stories can reach out to touch people everywhere. And I’m just not going to be on any social media platform that I don’t love.

You shouldn’t be either. 

By the way, if you do want to follow me on social media, you can find me onTwitter, Pinterest and Goodreads

Hard Times

Today’s cover art is by Colin Behrens.

I spent a lot of time staring at my computer screen this past week. It was hard to get words out, hard to put them into the world. 

I try to put out good things. Light, funny, informative, informational. That’s what I bring to the world, I hope. 

Right now it’s really hard to see the light, let alone shine it around. 

That’s not normally me. Normally I can see the brightness in everything. I rely heavily on the Yin Yang for comfort, as it reminds me that there is a little good in every bad and a little bad in every good. That’s the way of the universe. 

So I’m trying to find the good right now. It’s hard when the people who are meant to protect us are turning against us. It’s hard because I never thought I’d see the sort of things I’m seeing right now on American soil. I never thought I’d see peaceful protestors teargassed by an American president so he can blaspheme the bible in front of a church. I am angry, scared, embarrassed. I want so badly to help.

There is light, though. Even as this year gets worse and worse by the day, there is light to be found. We just have to dig a little harder.

Here’s the light I see. Let me reflect it to you so that you can reflect it to others.

All across America, people are standing up for our fellow man. We’re standing up and saying that we will not accept this way of life. We will not allow innocent people to be murdered in the street by police officers. We will protect and defend. We will join hands (metaphorically) and stand together. We will, above all, insist on justice being served.

If you can protest safely, please do. If you can donate to charities helping to pay bail for protestors, please do that. 

No matter who you are, you can let your voice be heard. Share reliable information online. If you see something happening, film it and share it. Share kind words. Defend people being bullied or terrorized, online or in life. Reach out to your local representatives and let them know you demand justice. If someone around you behaves or speaks as though this doesn’t impact them, let them know that they are wrong.

We are not safe if one of us is in danger. We are not at peace if one of us is hunted. We must protect each other as citizens of America. As citizens of the world. We have an obligation to help each other.

And if it’s hard to find the light, please remember these words from John Stewart. 

These are hard times. But they are not end times.

We’ll weather these hard times together. If you need help, or if you’re having trouble finding a way to help, please reach out to me. 

I’ll do what I can.

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