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Monday, August 27, 2012

I am who I am; you are who you are; it's beautiful. :)

Since the release of Silence of Souls earlier this month, I've been having a few absolutely incredible experiences.  I can't believe these things are happening to me, especially this quick- I would have thought it would take years before experiencing anything like this: I feel like a "celebrity."

Obviously, not to the scale (or anything even remotely close to it) that Brad Pitt or Ellen DeGeneres feel like celebrities, but there have been a few occasions where I felt like I was somebody.  I have "fans," and it's incredible.  There's been four people who have contacted me, praising my work, and telling me how inspiring I am to them.  I've gotten to know a couple of them, and they're amazing people.

Twice there's been instances in real life that were totally surreal.

The first one was when I went to a party about a month ago, and there was this girl there I had never met.  I introduced myself to her, and she said "Oh, I know who you are!  You wrote 'Surprise Party!' That was a fantastic play, and it's so nice to meet you!"

The second one was when I met this caretaker that comes to visit my grandpa once a week.  She asked me if I was the "writing granddaughter he always talks about" and I said yes.  She then asked me to write down my name and the title of my book so she can look it up, so I did.  When I handed her the piece of paper, she read it and then said "Oh, this sounds really familiar.  I think I've heard of you!"

It's completely flattering, humbling, and unbelievable that these things would happen.  I'm not sure I've really done anything to deserve such recognition, but I'll admit that I am really enjoying this incredible ride.

One of my friends, whom I have known for years, has been following along the whole time with my publishing, writing, et al.  He gave me a piece of advice: "Now that you're starting to gain a rapidly-growing following, you should be mindful of who you are and create the image you want to be.  You should stop posting political stuff and speaking your mind so much.  If you're more bland to the public, more people will like you."

While I appreciate his advice and understand what he's saying, I don't agree with it- I respect his opinion, and if he feels that is what he wants to do when he starts gaining a following, then that is fine with me.  But that's not the right choice for myself.

I am who I am, and I would rather have 100 fans who like the real me instead of 1,000,000 fans who like a bland, fragmented version of who I really am.  I have strong beliefs, I have opinions, and I have a personality.  I'm not going to hide who I am just for the possibility of gaining fans.

It took me years, but I finally like who I am- why would I want to oppress that now?

Undoubtedly, there will be people out there who don't like me for me.  There will be people who dislike that I am pro-equality.  There will be people out there who won't read my work because I believe in an afterlife.  There will be people out there who assume that just because I am on the left side of politics that I am also very supportive of stricter gun laws (not so, but that's a story for another time).

I am who I am, and I like me.  I hope you like who you are, too.  Over the years, I've grown emotionally, expanded my mind, experienced things that have shaped who I am, and have formed opinions based on facts and what makes sense to me.  It wasn't an easy journey to become who I am, so why should I try to hide it?  It's impossible to be universally loved, so why be something I'm not when I can't please everyone anyway?

Be who you are, there's no one else like you.  We are all so different- each with a unique set of experiences, beliefs, reasons, motivations, understandings, and so on.  It's so much more interesting when we let the "real" us out instead of hiding behind what society expects us to be.  At least, that's what I believe.  ;-)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Great stories.

Over the weekend, we saw ParaNorman.  It was fantastic!  I loved the story, the twists, the humor, the characters, and the score.  Most of the time, it's fun going to a theater full of kids because you get to hear some of those incredible, totally innocent reactions to the movie.

That's also the same reason I love going to the theater to see horror movies with a packed house- you get some crazy reactions, and sometimes they're hysterical.

Both situations involve a good story and interesting characters.  That's how people get drawn in.  If it was boring and uninteresting, then the kids would lose interest at the animated movie showings and the adults would feel bored at the horror movie showings.

I love it when you watch a movie or read a book and become so engulfed in what's going on that you completely forget that it's a movie or a book.  That moment when you fall in love with or come to completely loathe a character.  When you feel intense emotions one way or another toward a character, then you feel like you are living vicariously through them.  When you indulge in great books and movies, you live a thousand lives.

The beginning of Silence of Souls 2 is underway, and I'm thrilled about it.  I've received so much positive feedback about the first novel, and I'm very excited about working on the second one.  The story outline is nearly complete- I just need to add some more meat to it.  The second installment of the series is going to be even more intense than the first; at least, I think so. ;-)  I'm working on developing the characters even further, creating some interesting conflicts, and putting out a unique story.

I have a real rough idea for a third installment, but I'm not going to force it if it doesn't want to happen.  The second one is a definite thing, though!  I'm hoping to release it around March or April, but I'll adjust the release date as the novel comes along.  ;-)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Don't be discouraged.

Silence of Souls has received its second review.  Time-wise, I think it's pretty good that I've received two reviews within a week of release.  The first was a 5-Star, and it was very flattering and humbling!  The second one is a 3-Star review.  The reviewer made some valid points, said that the story was solid, and the things he didn't care for about Silence of Souls are purely opinions and don't reflect on the quality of the work.  (For example- he said he thought it was strange that the word "zombie" was never mentioned.  That's something I deliberated over for a bit while I was writing, but then found that the majority of the [good] zombie fiction I read doesn't often actually use the z-word.)  That being the case, this hasn't discouraged me in the least.  Three-stars isn't bad, actually.  Plus, he did compliment the work.  (I peeked at his other reviews- he rarely gives a review above 3-stars anyway.)

To be honest, I talk a lot of talk that I don't usually walk.  I am always encouraging people to reach for their dreams, to work hard, and to not let naysayers get them down.  But I've found that I get discouraged pretty easily, and it's something I'm working on getting better at.  When I got my first (and, thus far, only) 2-star review for The Secret Room, I was very discouraged, even though I had received several 5-star reviews prior to that.  With Silence of Souls, I have received a tremendous amount of positive feedback and praise, and each comment is very heartwarming.  This time, I'm happy to have a 3-star review, because it means that people are reading and thinking about my work.  I welcome feedback and reviews, both positive and negative.

I love doing what I do, and I enjoy it.  I need to stop being so concerned about what the people who don't like what I do or who I am think, and start focusing on how I feel about myself.  I wrote a novel, published it, sold it, and now I'm starting work on another one- no matter what happens, no one can take that away, and I'm proud of myself.  :)

Also, on a side note: Silence of Souls is available in Kindle eBook and now in paperback!

Friday, August 3, 2012


Today I started working on my newest project.  It's an idea I came up with about a year and a half ago- even before I came up with the idea for Silence of Souls.  It'll be a short story, though I'm not sure exactly what I think the length will end up being.  I'm venturing out on a new branch in writing- it's a comedic short story, unlike my previous works which have all been horror, thriller, and/or paranormal.

We'll see how it goes.  I want to stretch my legs a little as a writer and see how I do with other genres.  Initially, I would have expected myself to write drama, not paranormal, and I've done well so far.  Because of that, I have high hopes.  If it's absolutely terrible, I won't publish it.

When I turned on my computer this morning, I was surprised to find that Silence of Souls already has a review, and it's an incredible review!  Apparently, I am a "talented and seriously disturbed author."  I love it!  I'm taking the "seriously disturbed" bit as a compliment to my work.  Either that, or I'll use it as motivation to sell enough books to pay for therapy...

Anyway, I'm going to get back to writing now.  I've got a number of projects planned, so onward to writing!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Chick-fil-A Controversy: It's A Beautiful Thing

I'm sure most, if not all, of you have heard about the controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A. If you haven't, here's the short version: Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, came out as against marriage equality in support of "traditional values," and in response, proponents of marriage equality have been protesting and boycotting the fast food chain on a national level.

This- ALL of it- is a beautiful thing when you really think about it, albeit kind of a Catch-22.

Should we muffle someone's right to free speech or should we allow the oppression of equality?

For one, Cathy is exercising his right to free speech. He has the right to say what he feels and what he believes in. Thanks to religious freedom, he has the right to practice activities that coincide with his religious beliefs, including giving money to anti-LGBT organizations.

On the other hand, Americans have the right to protest and speak out their on beliefs which conflict with his.  Americans have a right to fight for equality, and no group (heterosexual couples) should have rights that are denied to another group (homosexual couples).  It is the epitome of "unconstitutional," and pretty much NOT what our Founding Fathers had in mind at all.  I'm fairly certain that the Founding Fathers would be pro-marriage equality.

Some people would be shocked to think that the Founding Fathers would be pro-LGBT equality.  I've even heard a guy once say "Our Founding Fathers would be rolling in the Christian graves if they knew what we [pro-LGBT activists] are doing here, but it needs to be done!"

For one, the Founding Fathers were NOT Christian.  Most were deist, a few were theist.  Several of them have been quoted with statements that are anti-religious, stating that they believed the world would be a better place without religion.  They founded our nation on freedom of religion (which also includes freedom from religion), equality, and liberty.

Second, marriage is NOT a religious institution.  Originally, marriage was created as a legal agreement for the purposes of social or financial gain.  (Some marriage scholars say you can go back even further, pre-dating any legal system, and see that marriages were a form of union between two people to raise children; most lasted until the kids were four years old.)  It wasn't until the 12th century that marriage was associated with love at all, and it also wasn't until then that marriage was associated with religion on a wide basis.  There are records of legal marriages that can be dated back to more than 4,000 B.C., millenia before it was ever mentioned in any religious doctrines.  Through the centuries, the various religions and cultures have adopted marriage and molded it to fit with their own beliefs, but they are far from being the original creator of marriage.

Anyway, back to the Chick-fil-A controversy.  Personally, I am very pro-marriage equality: I just can't wrap my head around any reason to deny equal rights to same-sex couples when our country was founded on equality.  Most people who oppose same-sex marriage do so because of their religious beliefs, but (as stated before) religion was not the originator of marriage and we have Separation of Church and State.

When it comes down to it, it's a battle between freedom of speech and the pursuit of equality, both of which should be protected.  Dan Cathy has every right to speak out against marriage equality, just like the American people have every right to speak out against him for donating millions of dollars to anti-LGBT organizations that try to oppress equality.

Strange as this may sound, I was really happy to see yesterday that there were amazing amounts of people flocking to Chick-fil-A both to support the chain and protest against it.  Both sides were exercising their right to free speech, the ability to demonstrate a variety of beliefs, and the freedom of choice.  Neither side felt fear when speaking out.  We should be a nation that encourages people to speak up for what they believe and exchange ideas, so long as it's done in a respectful, non-violent fashion.

Do I think Chick-fil-A will go out of business because of this?  Probably not.  But I do believe, with all my heart, that we will someday see marriage equality across the nation, and some day the people who were so adamantly anti-LGBT will be looked upon by future generations the same way young people today look back at those who fought against racial equality.  Equality will win.

What's it like to be gay and work for Chick-fil-A?  Read this.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"Silence of Souls" Official Release!

Today's the day, it's finally here!  I'm so very excited!

Be one of the first people to read it- click to get Silence of Souls!

Don't forget to enter the giveaway when you get your copy of Silence of Souls- click here for details!

Plus, check out Kindle Author. Silence of Souls is featured in the bargain book section on the left-hand side of the page! (The price is under $5, so it's considered a bargain! Less than $5 for 95,000+ words? Quite a deal, hehe! That's pretty close to the length of The Hunger Games, but half the price!)