A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Trigger Warnings on Books

Kristen Lamb had a stunningly well written blog post on Tuesday. It expressed her thoughts on a subject that's been on my mind lately: the thought of “trigger warnings” on books. I find myself ambivalent on the subject. On the one hand, I can see the reasoning behind people getting upset it, falling into the cultural facet of Empathetic Correctness. On the other hands I can see how warnings that would help people with PTSD and similar things prepare themselves for finding the scene in a book.

Huffington Post has a very interesting take on it. Their opinion is that it's not as bad as we're thinking, though it does have the potential to become a problem. A lot of what they say has to do with the fact that it would just be a few words on a syllabus warning those who have suffered past trauma that it's coming up, not that they aren't required to read the book for their classes.

The Guardian has a different point of view. They say that it's one step away from book banning. They hold forth on the fact that it's catering to a overly sensitive crowd of students who don't want to deal with the harsh realities of real life.

As I said, I can see the potential of both situations. On the one hand, I can see needing a few trigger warnings on things such as violent rape scenes, acts of domestic violence, things like that which could send someone spiraling back into a flashback of a terrible situation. But I also don't think that there needs to be trigger warnings for every little thing that might offend someone.

There's a difference between offending someone and actually triggering anxiety/fear flashbacks. The first is an act of pedantry. The second is something that can cripple someone emotionally. In dealing with the trigger warnings on books, if there is a violent rape scene I can see a warning about that in the book. It gives a person who has been raped the information it's coming and they can know what to expect, even brace themselves so they don't react as violently.

I use trigger warnings in some of my blog posts because I don't want someone having a flashback and losing control. I warn them what's in my post so they know what they're facing. This has driven some readers away. But others have come back and told me how much they appreciated the warning so they can prepare themselves for it.

There is such a thing as being too Empathetically Correct. The current trend for that is very disturbing. People aren't looking for success because they're being told everyone is the same. No one is reaching for anything because they expect to be given the same privileges as everyone else. The idea of over generalizing trigger warnings smacks of this.

Let's take a breath and do more research on it. I think everyone should get their voices in on this and let your opinion be known. If you're for it, that's great. If you're against it, that's great. Keep things civil and discuss it in the comments. Let me know what you think of all of this.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


How many of you love to cook? I do. I'm better with baking than cooking, but I'm learning how to make decent meals with limited ingredients. I have fun experimenting. Sometimes they turn out great. Other times...not so much. The most recent ones were a balsamic chicken dish that turned out reasonably good and a pot of black beans that turned out nasty. The beans didn't get eaten for leftovers while the balsamic chicken stuff did.

Sunday night, I attempted chicken quesadillas. They were food, and I thought they turned out okay. Yes it was another experiment because I had to figure out how to season the chicken and get it into the quesadillas evenly. It was fun though.

Cooking is only one of my passions. I love reading and writing. I like taking walks, though this is new. I enjoy knitting and crocheting, though I will have to rebuild my stock of yarn and needles/hooks since I abandoned all of it when we moved this last time. I'm fascinated by history and do a lot of research on it.

Hobbies are great. They help you relax, unwind, and take you away from the stress of your every day life and into a world of comfort. They can take intense concentration, they can be physically demanding, but they still have worth because they are something that you enjoy.

I love my hobbies. I have an easier time with reading, writing, and cooking – though I don't get too much baking done these days – than I do with the others. But I take time every day to do what I enjoy. It makes me happier and helps me get out of my depression and makes me feel better.

What about you? What are some of your hobbies?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


I witnessed something recently that made me angry, anxious, and sympathetic to the young woman who was verbally bashed by a customer. We were in Starbucks. This man in a suit came in and rattled off an incredibly complicated order. I was standing right behind him. There were fifteen drinks, and all of them needed modifications. He was reading off from a list. It was already pretty busy in there. This poor barista is trying to put in the orders, talking to the other baristas and answering questions when they weren't sure what her notes were, and in general doing a splendid job of dealing with this asshole.

The guy paid for the drinks, an order that was close to $80. Five minutes after he placed the order, he pushed his way to the front of the line and started yelling and swearing at the poor barista. He called her a “fucking cunt”, continued swearing at her, and then told her he was going to tell her manager how slow and useless she and the others were. This poor young woman started crying.

No one said anything. They just ignored the situation. No one stepped forward to defend her. Except for one person. A slender young man who looked to be no more than nineteen or twenty. He asked the man what his job was. The man said he did something at a bank, I don't remember what. The young man asked if he'd ever worked with the customers. The man said he had. The young man asked what he did when someone did to him the same thing he'd done to the barista.

The banker turned red and then started yelling at the young man about how he should mind his own business and what did he think he was doing talking so disrespectfully to a man who obviously made more money than he ever would? The young man smiled, told him he was the owner of the Starbucks we were in as well as two more in the region. He told the man that he was very proud of his baristas and that if he wanted his drinks he'd better go to another coffee shop because he wasn't going to let them do any more of the drinks. They'd only completed four at this point. The man spluttered but was forced out.

The barista and the others thanked the young man, who just told them to scrap the drinks and go on with their day. He told them he'd take care of the man's complaints if there were any. He got his drink and wandered off. By this point I was shaking and the barista could see my agitation. She talked to me since I was the only one still in line as the others filled my order. We commiserated about assholes like this man, which is something both of us had experienced before in our jobs. It was obvious talking about it calmed the both of us down.

I have seen so much abuse dumped on service workers. I was a bill collector, so I can understand the animosity. I don't like dealing with collection companies either. But why would you treat someone who is doing you a service like shit?

How many times have we let ourselves get like this? We let our bad days, our foul moods, get the better of us and we let it out on those who are just trying to help us? On those days, we need to watch what we do and treat them with respect even if we want to bite their heads off. Many times you'll surprise them if you thank them and treat them with respect.

To expand on that thought, it doesn't have to be people who are trying to do a service for us. It's our loved ones, our friends, our co-workers. If we're in a bad mood we take it out on them. We need to take a step back and remember that they're not the reason (well, most of the time) for our bad moods. It's a reaction we have to lash out at those around us when we don't feel good, when we're agitated.

I'll admit I've gotten testy to people if I was in a bad mood and they were doing something that irritated me even more. I've snapped at them, been rude to them, though I don't swear at them I've been inexcusably nasty to them. I try my hardest not to do that because I don't like it when people do that to me. But I still have my lapses.

We need to all be more aware of what we do, how we speak, and how we treat others. If we treat them with respect, we're more likely to get respect back. It's not always a guarantee but it's more likely.

How about you? What do you do if someone irritates you? What do you do to keep yourself from snapping at them?

Monday, May 26, 2014


I always considered myself a gamer. Not a video gaming gamer. A table top role playing game gamer. I loved playing D&D, the White Wolf games (before they did their reboot and wiped out the World of Darkness), and Arduin. I also played the modified systems my sister and her friends created to see if they could make their own gaming system based on Arduin.

As most of you know, I'm a writer. When I was a kid, I wrote silly little things, mostly fan fiction (though I didn't know that's what I was writing). When I was twelve and started playing Advanced D&D (also known as 2nd edition...THAC0 anyone?) something happened. Suddenly I wanted to build worlds of my own, introduce creations based on my imagination.

When I was fourteen, I created Vassa, the world I play in today. Now it's hardly recognizable compared to my early efforts, and those things I stole wholesale from those books and stories I loved have been either altered or removed altogether. The stories of the teenager I was were full of angst and love at first sight. Now they're more political with wars and more realism in relationships both regular friendships and romantic liaisons.

The reason I'm mentioning all of this is there are still people who say role playing games, video games, and the like are tools of Satan to turn people to devil worshiping and the use of black magic. I speak out against these every time I see them but I'm labeled evil again because I write fantasy and science fiction. I grow tired of these allegations.

Imagination isn't evil. Imagination isn't a tool of a greater evil. Imagination is something that allows us to escape our reality and enter another one. There are some people with dark imaginations who use those dreams to cause a lot of problems. But there are more who use their imaginations to create new things. Authors and artists inspire dreams. Scientists forward the knowledge of our world. Technologically inclined people create new things that help us in our every day lives.

Imagination is key, and I believe that it should be encouraged in children, allowed to flourish in teenagers, and welcomed in adults.

Friday, May 23, 2014

My mother as a hero

I seem to have a fondness for music videos this week. I was listening to one my playlists on Spotify and one of my favorite Skillet songs came on – Hero.

I got thinking about who my heroes are. And I realized that one of my heroes is my mother. You've all seen me talk about the abuse I suffered at her hands for a good portion of my life. So I know it seems odd that I'd think of her as a hero.

After I went to Washington to get into Job Corps, my mom began to realize something was wrong. I know her well enough to know she probably started out reading about being an adult child of abusive parents. My grandparents abused her and her siblings as well, so that's part of where it came from. She probably also started studying mental illnesses. This led to her talking to someone and finally getting the diagnosis of bipolar.

My mother hated drugs. She wouldn't even take Tylenol or Advil if she could get away with it. She would take Tums but that was it. Now she was being told she had to be on a regimen of medicine for the rest of her life. My dad told me after she died that she struggled with the thought but finally went with it. That changed her personality within just a few months as the medications took hold and stabilized her.

I first noticed it in 1999, when I took Himself home with me for Christmas to introduce my family to my boyfriend. My mother was happy. She was welcoming. There were none of the scathing remarks, verbal abuse, or physical threats that I'd expected. It wasn't just because Himself was there. She'd do it no matter who was in the house. I was on edge the entire time but nothing happened other than her and Himself clashing and my mom growing to love him. Her last words to me before my dad took us to the bus stop were “If you want to marry him, I don't mind.” This was a far cry from the woman I'd grown up with.

When Himself and I broke up (briefly) in 2001, my mom was there waiting for me when I got home. Again, instead of abuse she showed compassion and care. I wasn't in any shape to pay attention to that for a few days, but when I came out of my fog I saw it. I didn't trust it because I'd seen her have good days too when I was growing up.

I noticed though over time that her good days weren't going away. In fact, she seemed to be having only good days. I talked to her and she told me about her diagnosis and her medications. She said it felt wonderful to not be agitated all the time, to be high or low all the time. She told me she hadn't realized just how much her moods had affected her until she got on the meds.

My mom knew she'd made mistakes with all of us. Once she stabilized, she tried to insert herself gently into all of our lives. She was trying to see if any of us would accept her apologies and open ourselves to her. My older brother and sisters wouldn't do it. They couldn't, they said. They remembered the abuse too clearly to ever forgive her.

I wasn't able to at first but I finally did. When Himself came to Boise in January she welcomed him with open arms. Though she told us no sex in the house, she knew we were going to break that rule and was always courteous enough to give us a chance to pretend we weren't having it before she came into the family room. I don't know if she ever told my dad, but he seemed oblivious to it.

Two months before our first anniversary, we found out my mom had stomach cancer. It was Stage 4, so there was no treatment. She was going to die soon no matter what they did. She chose to forgo the treatment that would possibly give her another week or two and came home to die in peace around her family. It was a frightening and painful situation but she faced it with determination and a kind of peace.

I wasn't working at the time so I was the one who spent the most time with her. I'd read to her, talk to her about the minutiae of daily life, and keep her up to date on the things going on in all of our lives. Then came the day she slipped into a coma. By that night, she was gone.

My mother proved to me that if you want to change you can. She taught me the value of forgiveness and of love. She gave me the hope, though it was taken less than a year after my wedding, that we could mend our past and have a true mother-daughter relationship. I was devastated when I lost her without getting the chance to spend more years getting to know the real woman behind the disease. But she taught me so much in the two years I got to spend with her.

I sometimes wonder what she'd think of my life now, if she would be disappointed in my current state of things or proud of me for surviving in spite of all the hardships in our lives. I hope she'd be proud.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Medical discrimination for the disabled

I was watching my Facebook feed and saw something from NPR that caught my attention. It was an article that was written by a doctor who'd seen something that she didn't understand initially and then became very troubled about when she realized what she was seeing: discrimination in an ER against a disabled man. Here is the article.

This made me think. I called a friend of mine with severe back problems. She's not in a wheelchair yet, but she requires a great deal of help getting up and down and is always in a great deal of pain. She told me she's been left alone for a few hours before in an ER before someone came in to see what was wrong with her. I've been stuck in an ER before as well like this. Both of us have our diagnoses written on our charts. For the both of us, as we talked, we realized that there was a very good chance we were being discriminated against because of her physical and my mental disabilities.

Yes, I know there is always a wait in an ER. But when not even a nurse comes in to tend to you over the course of two to three hours is a good indicator that either you've been forgotten about or they don't want to deal with you. Himself has had to go out a couple of times to get someone to come in and see me. My friend's dad has had to do the same for her.

I think all medical practitioners need to be taught how to deal with those of us with physical or mental disabilities. We shouldn't be forgotten, pushed off to the side, or ignored because nurses and doctors don't want to deal with something different. The article mentioned that less than 20% of medical schools teach their students how to talk to someone disabled about their needs. This should be 100%, not 20%.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Judging based on appearance

I cut my hair short. I cut it very short. I hate anything longer than about an inch long, and I tend to cut it even shorter than that because it grows out too fast if I don't. I'm not an attractive woman to begin with, and I don't think the haircut helps. But I love it and don't have any plans on changing my way of doing it any time soon.

This leads me to one of my general anxieties though, that I will be assaulted for being a lesbian because of my short hair. I know it's a silly one, but it's a very real problem in today's society. I don't even want to leave the house without Himself because of that fear. I don't even feel safe with my PSR (a case worker who's supposed to be helping with my anxiety issues) because she's female. With as much as she hovers over me, people may think she's my girlfriend.

As long as they keep their ideas to themselves, I'm fine with that. But once they start harassing me about it, I'm likely to lose it. And not in the “I'm pissed” way. In the “I'm having a full blown panic attack” way, which will just make things worse.

Why do people harass and/or assault people just because of a haircut? Or skin color? Or gender? I know the answer to that of course. Everyone does. I just wonder why society continues to allow it to happen.

There is nothing so disheartening to go somewhere and be pointed to and whispered about. To see sneers or disgusted looks. I'm overweight, though I'm trying to do something about that. I keep my hair short because I'm comfortable this way. I wish people would accept that and not make snap judgments based on my appearance. I wish they'd try to get to know me first, to learn the person behind the body. They never will though, because their first impression of me based on my appearance is going to be unfavorable.

This doesn't mean I don't do the same thing. I'm just as guilty of this as others. It just seems to be something hard wired into our brains. We need to find a way to get past it and give other people chances in spite of their appearances.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My Governor is a backwards idiot

If you've been reading my blog for a while, or if you're new, you may have noticed I don't talk about politics much. This doesn't mean I'm not interested in it, that I don't pay attention. I just don't usually want to get into any debates about it on my blog.

But this past week, Governor Butch Otter has made several mistakes, one of which has made Idaho a laughing stock. Not that we weren't already teased a little by other states, but this time he went too far. I'm sure you've at least seen something on Idaho's most recent gubernatorial debate as the primaries get started in Idaho. You can find some commentary on it here. I feel he only did it to humiliate the two fringe candidates and make himself look better, a feeling shared by several Idahoans.

Then there was the stay he put on the marriage equality ruling that was made earlier in the month. He's struggling against the tide here but he wants the appeals court to help uphold his desire to prevent same sex marriages in Idaho. Here is an article talking about the situation.

I am so angry at him right now. I have no idea how he keeps getting reelected. No, actually, I do know. This state is so full of backwards thinking people that it's not even funny. The Republican party dominates Idaho with an ultra conservative bend to their thoughts that it makes those of us who want a more open minded and less conservative way of doing things look small and insignificant.

If I could vote (I can't register due to some logistical issues), I'd be one of those who want a fairer and more liberal Idaho voting him out. I want him gone. I want Idaho to break free of the Republican choke hold and stop being the butt of jokes throughout the rest of the United States. I want to be something more than the “potato state”.

Is it ever going to happen? Probably not. But it's a nice dream.

Monday, May 19, 2014

I Have A Right

I love music, especially the symphonic metal bands Nightwish, Within Temptation, Amaranthine, Krypteria...there are more, but I'm not going to list all of them here. Just say that I love this genre of music.

Recently, I came across a song by Sonata Arctica that got me thinking. This song is “I Have A Right”. 

If you listen and pay attention to the lyrics, which you can find here, you can see what it's about. The thing that struck me the most about this song is that it talks about the rights of children, to be taught to love everyone no matter who they are.

This is a powerful message that I wish parents would teach their children now. But in order to teach their children this, they need to open their minds more as well. In order to bring their children into the modern world, where love and understanding is key, they must shed the fears and teachings of their own parents to do it.

How often do we say “I'm not my mom/dad”? I know I say it a lot. But I've found myself saying things that could only have come out of my parents' mouths. I've come a long way and have found my own path, but still I feel the lingering effects of the way I was raised.

I believe we need to step up and let go of the negative things taught to us. We need to be more open to things like marriage equality, other races, other people's religious practices. There needs to be more openness.

What do you think? Do you think a parent's attitude influences a child all the way into adulthood? Or do you think a child can get away from their parents' influence and form their own opinions?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Brief holiday

Normally I'd be posting every day this week. But I'm worn out and frazzled so I'm going to take this week off. I'll be back on Monday. I'll probably still read and comment on blog posts, just not post any of my own.

Thanks for hanging around and reading. I'll be back next Monday.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Geeky fandoms for movies/tv series

How many of you have seen the meme going around that says something along the lines of “being a geek means you're passionate about something”? I've seen that one on my feed on Facebook several times over the past couple weeks. It made me think. What science fiction/fantasy shows/movies am I passionate about?

The first things that came to mind, and if you've known me for a while you should be able to guess this, is Firefly and Star Wars. I came to Firefly after the series was canceled but I would have been one of the voices screaming at Fox for canceling it if I'd seen it then. But I love the way the story progresses, and how the movie Serenity expands on the story (even if they possibly make a continuity error at the beginning).

Star Wars. I've been a huge fan since I was a kid. I think part of it was my mom went to see Episode IV while she was still pregnant with me. I saw all three of the movies before I was ten many times. My parents owned them all on VHS (does this date me or what?) by the time I was a teenager. We must have worn through them more than once because I know my parents replaced them several times before finally buying the trilogy in a gold box.

When the prequels came out, I saw each of them on the opening day. I'm one of the many who thought Jar Jar Binks was annoying and the movie could have progressed without him. I also watched the animated Star Wars Clone Wars so I know how the story progressed between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.

Another two shows I loved are Farscape and Babylon 5. Farscape is what happens when a human is thrown into a distant galaxy by an outside force through a wormhole and ends up on a living ship full of escaped prisoners. He's forever trying to get home but things don't always work out the way he wants them to.

Babylon 5, if you haven't seen it, shows a more political side to science fiction. A lot of it is based on the interactions between several races. It's such an intricate pattern of storylines that I just can't describe it very well. It's also got several movies and a short spin off series that came of it. It's really amazing.

It's too bad but too many of the fantasy series haven't had much of an impact on me. I haven't seen Once Upon a Time or Sleepy Hollow, and both of them I've heard are good. I'll have to see what they're like. OUAT is on Netflix so I'm hoping to get a chance to see it soon.

Movies, on the other hand, I can list a lot of fantasy movies that I love and tend to geek out about. The obvious choices are of course the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I'm not as fond of The Hobbit, though I've only seen the beginning of the trilogy. I love the grand scape of the movies, the way they cast it, and how they filmed it. I have a lot of favorite scenes, but the one that brings me to tears every time is the end of Return of the King where Aragorn tells the hobbits that they bow to no one and kneels before them.

I'm an animation fan too. I love Frozen, Brave, How to Train Your Dragon. Anime is something else I'm fond of, both series and movies. The list goes on and on with visual media. Then there are so many I could go on and on for hours about it.

What are your favorite fantasy/sci fi movies/tv series?

(We'll talk books and authors in another post. :) )

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Separation between church and state

No. 12–696.
Argued November 6, 2013—Decided May 5, 2014
Since 1999, the monthly town board meetings in Greece, New York,
have opened with a roll call, a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance,
and a prayer given by clergy selected from the congregations listed in
a local directory. While the prayer program is open to all creeds,
nearly all of the local congregations are Christian; thus, nearly all of
the participating prayer givers have been too. Respondents, citizens
who attend meetings to speak on local issues, filed suit, alleging that
the town violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause by
preferring Christians over other prayer givers and by sponsoring sec-
tarian prayers. They sought to limit the town to “inclusive and ecu-
menical” prayers that referred only to a “generic God.” The District
Court upheld the prayer practice on summary judgment, finding no
impermissible preference for Christianity; concluding that the Chris-
tian identity of most of the prayer givers reflected the predominantly
Christian character of the town’s congregations, not an official policy
or practice of discriminating against minority faiths; finding that the
First Amendment did not require Greece to invite clergy from con-
gregations beyond its borders to achieve religious diversity; and re-
jecting the theory that legislative prayer must be nonsectarian. The
Second Circuit reversed, holding that some aspects of the prayer pro-
gram, viewed in their totality by a reasonable observer, conveyed the
message that Greece was endorsing Christianity.

This is the beginning of the brief that was presented to the SCOTUS in the case of the Town of Greece vs. Galloway. The gist of it is that the town of Greece, NY was upset because the predominant prayer given at the beginning of their town board meetings were Christian. This showed the domination of the Christian faith in the area, and people wanted something more inclusive. (If you're curious about the full brief given to the SCOTUS you can go here. The link is at the beginning of the first paragraph.)

It doesn't look like anything serious. SCOTUS just struck down the request for a more inclusive prayer session at the beginning of the town meetings. The problem is this infringes on the First Amendment. Now, this may not seem like something to get worried about. I feel it sets a bad precedent.

My concern here is what's going to happen if other people start bringing cases like this to SCOTUS. Are they going to continue to break down the wall between church and state? The predominant religion in the United States is the Christian faith. There are several different denominations but they have some of the same basic premises. Does this mean that the First Amendment is being pushed to the side, which goes against federal law?

North Carolina tried to bring about a “state religion”. You can find some information about that here. The bill was struck down and it wasn't carried out. But how many of us have the fear that someone is going to tell us who we have to worship, that a religion that we don't believe in and we don't wish to follow, will become the legally stated religion that we are required to abide by?

Personally, I think this decision by the SCOTUS could lead to others creating state religions and forcing the citizens to follow that as the law. Where is the freedom of religion in that? Though they would have to repeal the First Amendment to make this a countrywide thing, what's to stop them from doing that? It's possible.

Perhaps I'm just jumping at shadows. But I don't like this.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Common courtesy

I saw something on Monday at the library. A woman was in there with what looked like her son. He looked to be in his 20s while she was in her 40s or 50s. He was looking for books. She had one of her earbuds in. She had a German Shepherd with her and if you looked at her face you could tell she was blind.

The dog wasn't bothering anyone. It was tucked up beside her, watching things. She had hold of its leash. A woman and her children came into the library. Five is the minimum age for kindergarten here so the two children running around after her had to be younger than that.

The woman took one look at the dog and started yelling about how dangerous it was and how her “babies were in danger”. The blind woman's son came up and told her to shut up, and that the dog was his mother's service animal and had every right to be there.

As soon as he said that, she shut up. And then sent her kids over to meet the dog. Even though the blind woman told the children not to touch him because he was working, they pulled on his ears, shoved their fingers into his face, and pushed up against him. I give him a lot of credit. He didn't snap or bark. But he was clearly uncomfortable, as was the blind woman.

The young man came back and told the children not to touch the dog, that he was a service animal and working. They ran crying back to their mother, who started on a tear again. The library staff forced her out of the library with her getting louder and louder as she went. This did very little to help my anxiety but I was waiting to check out my books and I didn't want to leave them behind.

You know, gods forbid that someone show a little common courtesy. I mean, how difficult her life must be because her children were forbidden from playing with a strange dog who was obviously uncomfortable with the children's ministrations. Getting upset at the young man who was only protecting his mother and her service dog was perfectly rational.

Seriously, where is common courtesy these days?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Favorite Art

I am a fan of fantasy art. I love to look at other people's gorgeous pictures, paintings, and sculptures. I started out at Elfwood. I started just looking at pictures. I'm now a moderator there, and have been for a while, on the stories people submit to Wyvern's Library.

Then I found DeviantArt. I've bookmarked so many pictures out of DA. I have more favorite artists here than I do on Elfwood anymore, since most of my favorites on Elfwood have either left or stopped updating their galleries and gone elsewhere – many have migrated to DA. Some of my favorites from DA are here, here, here, here, and here. I just started looking at fantasy. These are all under the Digital Art and are incredible. Sakimichan is more whimsical than the others but they're still well done.

One of the artists, who goes by the name Heise, is Chinese. One of the others is from Germany. Art, no matter what it is can transcend borders. Pictures, dance, stories, poems, music – all of these things can share a piece of the soul of the artist and a hint of their world.

Some of my favorite music comes from Europe. Symphonic metal – though I will admit much of it is sung in English, some German Industrial, and classical music of all types are pleasant to me. They draw images in my mind and bring a piece of the musicians to me.

What kind of art do you like? Music? What art and artists inspire or comfort you?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Words, Words, Words

Lord Polonius: What do you read my lord?
Hamlet: Words, words, words.

How many times have I heard people tell me that words are weapons, that words can be used to kill as surely as a weapon, etc. There's a meme going around on Facebook. I don't remember who's in it. It's been a while since I saw it. But it's someone saying “Take a plate. Throw it to the ground and break it. Now tell it you're sorry. Is it still broken?”

These are all good sentiments, and something we need to remember. There's a big push for a stand against bullying. I get that and I fully support it. But what about words that heal? How often has a kind word made your day better, a gentle word easing pain, a funny joke to make us laugh. We use soothing words to calm a crying infant.

I love you.”

Take a deep breath.”

You're beautiful no matter what.”

If you smile, it'll chase the frownies away.”

I believe in you.”

If you don't stop beating yourself up, I'm going to tickle you until you pee your pants.”

I've heard all of these at one point or another in the last fifteen years. (And more, but I'm not going to give you every quote of Himself's that made me smile.) I've spent a good chunk of my life hurting from my childhood. Hearing these things, hearing him repeat some of them more than once, they help me heal from the emotional scars.

I try not to say anything that will hurt someone else. I'm human. I fail at it. I don't go out of my way to say hurtful things but it happens. I can't take them back. What I can do is show that person through more words, and actions, that I do care. I'm showing that I want to make them feel better.

Can you think of something someone's said that made you feel better at just the right moment? Have you ever made someone else feel better with just a word?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Flashbacks - good or bad

A flashback is “an interruption of the chronological sequence (as of a film or a literary work) of an event of earlier occurrence.”

There are so many blog posts and articles out there on flashbacks. People have different views on them. Here, on a blog with posts written by agents, is an interesting post on the effective use of a flashback. Some of the advice is write it as a complete scene, don't put it in the beginning of the book, insert a flashback after a powerful scene in the novel, give the time and place in the first sentence so as to not force your reader to try and guess it.

Then there's a different take on flashbacks. Not that they're necessarily wrong, but there is a different way to structure them and use them. Kristen Lamb – an author who if you're not already following her blog I'd start following it as soon as possible – has her own viewpoint on flashbacks. You can find her posts here,  here, and here.

There are several questions you need to ask yourself before inserting a flashback. You can find a good list of them here, but let me share just a couple with you: do you need to explain the character this much; will your story work without the flashback; is there any other way you can fill your audience in on the info.

I've run into a little of a quandary with Marked. Other than it's getting a total rewrite because it turned into goo in the middle and ended up making a mess of itself, I start the book with a flashback. It's in the form of a nightmare, a dream that has come to herald something bad happening to Aisling and those around her. Now, do I cut that and do it another way? I have her explain it later in the story when she's asked. Do I leave it in? What do I do with it? Right now...I don't know. I'm going to have to sort that out when I get back to it.

What are your views on flashbacks? Do you get jarred out of books or films when they're used? Have you used them yourself?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Follow up to the A to Z Challenge

Those of you who've read my A to Z Challenge posts may think I'm a very serious person. I'll admit I do have those periods of time. But there are also times when I'm silly, hopefully amusing, and just downright snarky. Not too many of the last since there are a lot of people who do snark better than I ever could.

I'm also a writer. I post writing related things. Sometimes I even post book reviews, if I feel strongly enough about the book I've read. I normally don't post on the weekends, and sometimes have problems posting every weekday like I've been trying to do. That's a lot of posts to come up with. I have a habit of writing them all ahead of time for the week and scheduling them. I usually do okay with that, though there have been a few times when I've goofed on the scheduling bit. It all works out in the end.

One of the things I am passionate about, as you could no doubt tell from the posts during April, is mental health awareness. As I'm dealing with it, I want other people to see what I find out, what I learn, what I'm doing. I want people to understand that yes, there is a person behind the diagnosis.

Oh, one other thing. My cat Reidar. I am very fond of him and will occasionally post random pictures of him as part of a post. Or fun YouTube videos. Or pictures I find on Morguefile or DeviantArt (all of those images used are stock photos put on this page following the guidelines of the site/photographer).

So buckle your seatbelts. This is going to be one very interesting ride.