“Rejected” Fundraising Anthology is Out on eBook and it is Fantastic!

Front Cover ebookThrough the summer I’d been accepting short stories and poetry submissions for an upcoming anthology I’ve titled “Rejected”.

“Rejected” is two-fold in that every piece submitted to the anthology had to have been rejected for publication by a publishing press at least one time and the anthology itself supports the Spay/Neuter Coalition in Georgia, a licensed non-profit organization that offers education and access to affordable spay/neuter options.

One question I’ve gotten asked is how I found the Coalition. When I had the idea for this anthology, I also had the idea that I wanted to find a not for profit, small organization to support as I felt it juxtaposed well with the idea that I, myself, consider my platform relatively small. I believe that small actions make big impacts.

So, I put the question out there on my Facebook platform asking friends if they knew of any small organizations that advocated for our four-legged friends. I received several good choices and in the end decided to reach out to the Coalition who graciously agreed to accept the funds that “Rejected” will raise.

(**As of now, just one day after publication “Rejected” has raised close to $25 for the Coalition!)

The anthology itself turned out the be over three-hundred pages and over one-hundred-thousand words. I tried to accept each story and poem that I possibly could, but in the end I did have to turn down a few pieces. This was what I would consider the most difficult part of the process. As a writer myself, I understand that gut-tearing feeling of being rejected, and I’m not sure that since this was an anthology specifically for rejected pieces if it made that letter harder for the writers. Maybe I should have considered two volumes? Maybe? I don’t know. One is stressful enough. But I genuinely believe in what we do.

As advertised “Rejected” (See how I keep linking it? That’s a hint!) boasts a multitude of genres and poetry that has been carefully edited by my personal friend and editor, Linette Kasper, formatted by KH Formatting, and last but absolutely NOT least, the cover was designed by Leslie Safford (Who I keep saying needs a website but does not currently have one). Anyhow, these ladies have done an absolutely FANTASTIC job teaming up with me to see this anthology through.

I can guarantee that y’all readers are going to love the mashup of horror meets psych thriller meets sci-fi meets romance meets drama meets contemporary poetry meets fantasy meets traditional poetry and I could go on, but you’re smart, and you get it.

A rare cuddly moment between me and one my rescue cats, Archie.

Having rescued several friends over the past couple of years, I’ve seen first-hand shelters struggling because they’re over capacity and the horror of high-kill animal shelters. One effective way to help minimize this is to offer cost-effective access to spay and neutering. This can also benefit feral cat populations.

Finally, I would like to thank all the authors and poets who have contributed to this anthology, to everyone who has shared the posts on my Facebook Author Page to help get the word out about this amazing, limited-edition anthology. They have been wonderful to work with and I appreciate their patience and professionalism throughout the process!

I will be sure to make another post as soon as “Rejected” is available in paperback. For now, be sure to snag your electronic copy for only $1.99!

 

Pride Month

Rainbow

I’ve been pondering this post for a couple of months and decided to place it on the backburner. I couldn’t really think of a better day to write it out and I hope the words just come as I type.

I grew up in a rural setting in the middle of the Bible belt and, subsequently, tornado alley. While enduring more than my share of childhood trauma, I tended to make relationships low-priority for some time.

A nerd in every sense of the definition, kids brutally teased me in sixth grade for being a ‘lesbian’. Every evening, in the solitude of my bedroom I’d shove my face into Brown Bear and cry until I fell asleep.

Criticized for my “humiliating” sense of humor, tom-boy like nature, and tendency to gravitate toward Fortran and briefcases versus pom-poms and Prada, I managed to do a fantastic job of suppressing who I was…even to myself.

In fact, it wasn’t until I finally moved to an environment where I felt empowered and safe and learned to express myself through writing poetry, novels, and short stories that I began to discover the person I am.

I’ve spent the last several years exploring me, and I’ve learned a lot of things, not all that I need to share. It’s not been easy, but I’m lucky in that I have supportive people in my life who are willing to listen and talk.

We’re really good at folding little boxes, piecing them together, taping them up, and tying on large pink ribbons at the top, and I understand how truly difficult it is when one’s situation is too large or complex to fit into those meticulous, dark containers. I realize that if I could just pretend, if I could simply smile from ear to ear and play within the confines of what society deems appropriate life could be, would be simple.

I’d suffocate.

So, this year on Pride Day, I wish for empowerment; wherever you are in your journey, if you’re comfortable, afraid, lonely, depressed, excited, I hope that you can find a sense of worth and voice and know that you are loved.

If you truly have been shunned, abused, or made feel like less of a human, it is my hope that someone enters your path and offers you genuine support.

Love to all on this day, the first day of June,

Erin

“Forbidden” Character Interviews Continue w/ Another Chance to Win!!

Forbidden Ebook Cover

I’m excited to announce next Monday’s character interview for “Forbidden“.

While it might seem that Bernadette Withermoore has a menial role throughout the story, the meaning behind this character is quite significant. I won’t go into interpretations in this particular post but want to make a note that she is not to be overlooked.

Therefore, Monday’s character interview will be with Bernadette. Feel free to comment with questions, because like last week, one question will win a $5 Amazon E-gift card! How exciting is that!

Stay tuned on Monday for Bernadette’s interview, and please leave a question in the comment section!

Monday: “Forbidden” Character Interviews with Reverend Elijah Colstock

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I get so excited when my characters agree to interviews. I am glad to introduce the first interview in a series of interviews with questions asked directly by readers and answered by the characters of “Forbidden“, my newest novella.

Today, we will be hearing answers from Reverend Elijah Colstock, and at the end of his interview, he will be selecting one question that wins a $5 Amazon Gift Card (woohoo!). Throughout the interview, I will be listed as “E” and Colstock will be referred to as “C”. So, without further adieu, we bring you week one of character interviews.

E: Welcome to my blog, Colstock.

C: *Clears throat*. “C”?

E: Is that not okay?

C: Lest you forget, I am a pastor. Therefore, “PC” is appropriate.

E: “PC”? Well..umm, okay. Let’s not begin on bad footing. “PC”, how’s that?

PC: It will suffice.

E: We have some fantastic questions today. So, let’s begin with our first one. Samantha Ann Leigh asks, “What is your greatest fear?”

PC: The Bible says “Fear Not” approximately 365 times. I do not have fears, for stand, do I, devout in the Lord. Why, the Lord is speaking to me right now. He says, ‘Colstock, thou hast no fear.’ What an affirmation. What a joyous interlude.

E: Well then…continuing. Melissa Sell would like to know, “What is your least favorite Bible passage?”

PC: Blashpemy, for His word commandeth me in my way, lest I slip and burn in the pit of fire. A righteous man, a leader, such as myself finds no error in the Holy Word of God. It is those who misconstrue his Word, those who believe we should accept others and love other people as though we are on even footing that I find disdain in. For our God is an angry God. We must be in constant prayer and vigilance lest we be deceived by lies.

E: Well, that’s umm, passionate. Cait Marie has three questions for you. I will begin with the first. She asks, “What is your favorite childhood memory?”

PC: My father, the late Josiah Colstock would oft take me to the pulpit, and for a brief time, allow me to stand behind the wooden structure–the alter of our God, open his Bible, and read aloud a verse. It was a rather rare occasion, but as the future leader of Paradise Grove and its prestigious religious establishment, one I treasured more than any other.

E: Mine was painting rocks and selling them to the neighbors…not that anyone cares, but…Anyhoo…Back to our interview with another question from Cait who asks, “If you could be an animal, which would you be and why?”

PC: Well, I have yet to think on this. For these are the thoughts of an idle mind. Who would be an animal? For, it is not I. I was created to be a leader of men, to spread the Lord’s word. A sin, would it be for me to contemplate this question. I shall not walk in the ways and path to hell.

E: Is that an answer, then?

PC: Yes, I believe it is.

E: For your final question, Cait asks, “What is your greatest achievement?”

PC: Is that not obvious? Perhaps it is not. My greatest achievement is leading Paradise Grove in the ways of the Lord. When we bide our time in faith, we do not fall into Satan’s evil hands. I will keep my people safe by listening and translating the word and meaning of God to them and for them. They listen to me in all they do, they trust me, and they obey when I speak.

E: Those are all of the questions I have. I really appreciate you taking the time from your “busy” schedule to come and give us clarity on your thoughts and feelings about the world.

PC: I try to be charitable when it suits me.

E: I’m sure you do. By the way, who is the winner of the gift card?

PC: Those plastic cards of yours will lead to your demise. Hear me now, they are the ways of sin. Nevertheless, I abstain from judgement and pick Cait Marie who was astute enough to ask of my accomplishments.

Well, there you all have it. Pastor Elijah Colstock in the first of a series of interviews from characters of “Forbidden“.

Congrats Cait Marie on winning! I will be contacting your soon in regards to your gift card.

Stay tuned, I will be announcing next week’s character on Wednesday!! 

 

Mental Illness is a Shit Show–Let’s Stop Romanticizing It

MentalIllness

Yesterday someone in one of my writing groups presented a question about creativity and its connection to mental illness. I read through some of the comments and was a little taken aback by the idea that being a brilliant artist while suffering mental illness equates to a certain level of beauty.

I’ll say before I write anything more that I am one person. I am a writer. I suffer from chronic migraines and mental illness. I’m not a psychologist and the following is just my opinion and personal observation:

Mental illness is a shit show, a mess hotter than asphalt in mid-July. There is nothing “beautiful” about pulling into a grocery store parking lot and nearly vomiting while experiencing the simultaneous sensation of being smothered by plastic wrap.

No one in the world says, “Wow! Look at the girl standing in the corner counting to steady her breathing before she has a complete breakdown because she feels as if the walls are going to close in on her and her vision is beginning to tunnel. Give me some of that with a side of the guy fidgeting in the long line because there’s too many people around him and he feels like they’re all staring at him, judging him because that’s what the voices in his head are whispering to him, so it must be true. That sounds mysterious and beautiful and I want to be a part of it!”

Nobody says that! Ever!!

This mindset that artists need to suffer in order to create “brilliant” or “beautiful” art as though it’s a first class yacht club that one can only be a part of if they find themselves in near-constant mental, emotional, or physical turmoil needs to stop. Mental illness is not a trend; it’s not an itinerary. It is a result of real situations that a person has experienced.

Those of us who have endured trauma and survived it or have these illnesses for other reasons are not exhibits for show on society’s gallery. We’re human beings who have turned to artistic expression and use our abilities and talents to heal, cope, process what we are going through, or to reach others and communicate our truths about how we suffer and how we process, heal, and move forward from those circumstances.

I can’t and will not speak for everyone, but I will say that if I could trade artistic talent for great mental health, I would do so without batting an eye. I don’t believe that artistic talent and trauma/mental illness are mutually inclusive. In other words, I believe that many artists such as myself are born with talents. For example, I play various instruments by ear, vocally I have perfect pitch, and I compose by ear. I can’t read music. The child/adulthood trauma I endured has nothing to do with those abilities other than I was able to turn to them when I needed to.
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Throughout childhood, I looked to music, theatre arts, and reading as a mechanism for survival. I learned to appreciate art because it is healing. Even my group When She Walked Away, advocates healing from domestic violence through artistic expression.

I’ve never considered the process of healing to be “beautiful”. Even as a physical wound is healing it itches, burns, throbs, sometimes there’s puss or even blood. It scabs over and sometimes even the scab is irritating. This is the same for emotional and mental wounds; they’re worse because no one can see them. Healing requires tremendous bravery and willpower.

I won’t argue that many great works of literature, art, and music have not stemmed from talented artists who have suffered greatly from physical/mental illness and trauma. But, I believe that we can recognize that perhaps there is some connection (and perhaps not) without romanticizing what they’ve been through.

We can appreciate the works without believing that hardship or distress is required to produce them or that the end product warranted the trauma that the artist experienced. We can look to these paintings, illustrations, poems, books, and compositions for insight into mental health and we can certainly stop referring to the very real and daily battle that others struggle through as “beautiful”.

 

 

Coffee Shop–1

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Mud-water splashes against my pant legs. In no time they’ll dry, leaving spots of dirt trailing up the material. I despise going anywhere when it rains. Fog beats against storefront windows. The air is humid, melancholy whispers that reduce themselves to leaves as they tap the top of a park bench. It’s nothing special, an ordinary bench in a line of benches.

The coffee shop, with its scattered tables, struggles to mimic some endearing quaintness found in larger cities. The atmosphere falls short of the cliché setting in which a girl I used to date in high-school phones to say she’s driving through town that afternoon.

The atmosphere, where, a couple quivering cups of coffee, a bit of small talk, and a handful of tense gestures later, we find ourselves reminiscing between three-hundred-count bedsheets in a hotel a few miles down the road where I realize exactly what it is we’ve both done after thirty-minutes of irreverent silence and a couple attempts at ‘footsie’.

This is the café where baristas forget to properly mix the milk with coffee. The light swirls around dark, and there’s an ease by which my tongue separates the flavors. Nagging, really, like trying to recall where it is I’m supposed to remember her from or how she obtained my number.

From school? Decades have passed since I attended school…never went to reunions. She wants to ‘catch up’, the voicemail says. It dictates to meet her downtown at 2:00 P.M. and to not be late.

Catch up to what? I never realized we’re behind. It’s true, though…as true as the way stagnant water lurks on small town sidewalks and waits for some guy…some guy with a receding hairline and proof that sitting behind desk twelve hours a day utilizes more mental endurance than physical–then, now, here, gone; and all leads to the eventual absorption in pavement or dirt.

She’s in a blue dress, periwinkle if I’m being specific. I’m not, so I’ll go with blue. The back of her head resembles a helmet. Is that a bob? I still can’t recount who she is. I know who I am–the recluse–the stereotypical nerd whose Saturday evenings were best spent programming in VCC++ 6.0, learning the song of FORTRAN, and LINUX–were? Who am I fooling? They still are.

I turn. The bookstore’s having a sale–twenty-five percent off this weekend only. When it rains, I crave an adventure with Herman Melville, to ride along on the Pequod. Will they have a copy?

A tragic journey on the high-seas or a by-the-hour hotel encounter with a chic I don’t recall?

Chanting along with the infamous quarter-deck scene or waiting in a café incapable of mixing caffeinated beverages?

Pages of winding plot, or hours of wondering why anyone would be wearing such a hideous shade of my favorite color?

The bell clanks as I enter. The clerk glances up. “Can I help you?”

“Certainly, you don’t happen to have Melville, do you?”

 

Cocky-Tales Anthology

cocky tails TO CURVES

As I wrap up the final touches on “Cocky-Tales” anthology, I can’t help but be grateful–not for the situation of #cockygate and the inane need to monopolize words–but for the experience. I am thankful that life challenged me with a project that I never thought I would be a part of.

In the end, it wasn’t actually me. It was all of the wonderful authors and poets from a gamut of writing backgrounds coming together and sharing their talents that made “Cocky-Tales” possible.

A few observations–I have a sincere appreciation for publishers who piece together anthologies. People, this is not an easy feat. There’s advertising for submissions, reading those submissions, writing acceptances–and sadly, rejections…I’ll pause…rejections were difficult, because having received many myself…I know the let-down, contracts, edits, the cover–Created by Leslie Safford who doesn’t have any social media links–…and gosh darn-it (!!) making sure the author bios and links were correct with no spaces (spaces within links was a thing…I don’t get it).

Anyhow, kudos to people who compile anthologies on the regular…and that formatting tho…I could write a blog post about nothing but formatting. *Deep sigh*

The feeling of completing “Cocky-Tales” is awesome! I’m not sure if enough celebratory cakes exist in the world to honor the release tomorrow.

The majority of the excitement comes from the opportunity to not only learn but to give back. I think that #cockygate is a situation that could have impacted any genre; it just happened to take place in the romance community. But more so than looking at creative writing as an art that contains the genre-centric borders, the writing community is just that: community, and it is imperative that we view it from that lens.

Talk to any two authors and we will not have the same process when it comes to creative expression, and that’s what makes art so interesting–the ability that artists have to impact a variety of individuals, to express just how each person perceives the experience of life in a different way!

Don’t get me wrong–I believe in marketing and creating a unique brand. I also believe that it can be accomplished without attempting to own common use words. Words such as “cocky”, “forever”, “quantum”…are building blocks with which we create our worlds, and it’s a scary thing to believe that one person would strive to “buy” those building blocks to eliminate competition.

It happened. I hope that it won’t happen again. But I would also hope for an apology from “she who shall not be named”. (I also hope for a million dollar check, a Caribbean cruise, and a beach home–all of the above might be more likely than a simple “I’m sorry”.)

I hope that “Cocky-Tales” encourages those who have taken part in it and those who read it to continue to create and to support all forms of art.

My biggest wish is that through this anthology we illustrate the definition of coming together as a community for an important cause.

To snag your copy of “Cocky-Tales, click here! And Many Thank You’s for supporting our project!!!